January 05, 2011 Edition

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'Fat-Cat Football'

John Bland
Publisher

"Fat-Cat Football" is the title of a story in the current issue of TIME magazine. The story notes that tax records showed that in 2007, nearly two-dozen college football bowl directors earned more than $300,000. Another report stated that the Fiesta Bowl CEO made $592,418 in fiscal 2009, while the head of the Sugar Bowl received $645,386 in compensation.

Sean Gregory, writer of the TIME article, also states that most of the bowls are tax-exempt non-profits. Some cite the huge economic impact of bowl games on local economies as justification for the big salaries, and one economist determined that last year's Sugar Bowl generated $137 million for New Orleans. Others say the salary level has no impact on fans traveling to a bowl game and spending more or less money.

Opponents of the bowl system also do not like that it deprives them of a real playoff to determine a championship team. I personally like the bowl system and am glad it has a positive economic impact on the host cities.

I don't like that these bowls and college sports continue to become ever more commercialized, with sponsor names superseding traditional bowl names. College sports fans who attend games are bombarded with commercial messages at a rampantly increasing rate.

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As reported in last week's TD, Randolph County Judge David Jansen and Lawrence County Judge Alex Latham signed orders in December to institute a flat tax of 50 cents per acre on all lands in the Running Water Levee District. The tax will be used for the purpose of maintenance, repair and operation of the levee.

Latham noted the real benefit of the tax and having a maintained levee. With the tax, landowners will have the option to purchase flood insurance, instead of being forced to purchase it.

The levee runs on the south side of Black River, in and near the Pocahontas city limits; however, the district, or area protected by the levee, covers over 44,000 acres in Lawrence County and nearly 20,000 acres in Randolph County.

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You may agree or disagree with the top 10 stories listed in this edition. That's OK, because TD staffers certainly didn't all think alike in ranking the stories. The list is just our attempt to put the past year in perspective. Some stories do not fit in a calendar year and play out over a period of several years. It is also difficult to know the long-term impact of one event or situation over another.

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It had been several years since I attended the brief swearing-in ceremony for public officials, which is held just after midnight at the beginning of Jan. 1. The courtroom was nearly full of officials, as well as their family members and friends. This year's ceremony saw several changes, with two of the top county offices and several mayors in the county being new this year.

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