Saturday, August 29, 2009

Mother Nature fails to dampen final-round fireworks during 70th playing of the Piedmont Triad’s annual PGA Tour event

GREENSBORO, N.C. — When Ryan Moore drained a 12-foot birdie putt on the third hole of sudden death to capture the 2009 Wyndham Championship at venerable Sedgefield Country Club, he not only earned his first PGA Tour victory, he signaled the successful transformation of the former Greater Greensboro Open into one of the most popular events of the FedEx Cup’s stretch run. Indeed, the tournament the PGA Tour named as its “Most Improved Event” last year cemented its reputation by overcoming a handful of challenges to provide a thrilling finale in 2009. In the end, the story was Moore, one of the most accomplished amateur players in recent memory, who catapulted atop the Sunday leaderboard with five consecutive back-nine birdies, and eventually prevailed in a playoff over Kevin Stadler and Jason Bohn for his first PGA Tour victory in 112 events. Stadler, Moore, and Bohn were tied at 16-under through 72 holes, but the excitement didn’t end there. Sergio Garcia, who had blown a three-stroke lead midway through the final round, could have joined them in the playoff had he holed a delicate, 35-foot bunker shot on the 72nd hole. But somehow, impossibly, Garcia’s blast — heading for the center of the cup — had just enough spin to stop a millimeter short, triggering stunned gasps and screams from the large, giddy audience surrounding the green, all hoping the world’s seventh-ranked player would provide one, final, playoff contestant. In the sudden-death playoff, Bohn, whose thrilling 62 was the day’s best round, was eliminated on the first hole, leaving Stadler — attempting to join his father, Craig Stadler, a 13-time Tour champion, in winning in Greensboro — and Moore, the 2004 U.S. Amateur champion, Walker Cupper, and four-time college All-American. “The first PGA Tour event I ever played in was Greensboro in 2004,” said Moore. “To start here and win [in Greensboro], that's pretty exciting. I couldn't really have done it in a better place.” The final round provided exactly what Wyndham Championship organizers had envisioned following heavy rains during the first three rounds that led to nine hours of combined weather delays. Yet, the Wyndham Championship overcame not only Mother Nature, but also an unfortunate position on the Tour calendar, sandwiched between The PGA Championship and The Fed Ex Cup, to provide a finish that would resonate with the 30,000-plus fans on hand and TV viewers around the world. Indeed, buoyed by the success of the 2008 Wyndham Championship, which returned to Sedgefield Country Club following a 31-year hiatus, this year’s tournament field included 13 major championship winners, names like 2010 Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin, two-time British Open champ John Daly, and reigning U.S. Open Champion, Lucas Glover, who hails from nearby Greenville, S.C. Throughout the week, another local favorite, Bill Haas, a three-time All-American at nearby Wake Forest University, located just 22 miles away down I-40 in Winston-Salem, was in contention to the delight of many local fans. Another big name occupying the leaderboard during the exciting four days of action was U.S. Presidents Cup Captain, Fred Couples. It was yet another step in the grand heritage and tradition of the event. Arnold Palmer, who also starred at Wake Forest, once said that out of all the tournaments he didn’t win, he regretted most never having won the PGA Championship — and the GGO. Why? Because the Champions’ Board at Sedgefield comprises a veritable Who’s-Who of golf’s glory years — including legends such as Hogan, Snead, Nelson, Casper, Goalby and Player. Perhaps no other non-major championship has ever accumulated such a stately list of champions. In 2008, the 71-year old tournament moved back to Sedgefield Country Club, designed by legendary golf course architect Donald Ross, where it had been played on alternate years between 1938 and 1961, and continued there exclusively from 1961 until 1976. For 31 years, until 2008, the tournament moved to Forest Oaks, an Ellis Maples design. While U.S. Opens, PGA Championships and Ryder Cups are occasionally held on Ross designs (Pinehurst No. 2, Oak Hill and Oakland Hills come to mind), today the Wyndham Championship is the only “regular” PGA Tour stop on a Ross design. Moreover, there hasn't been a regular PGA Tour event on a Ross design since the GGO was last held at Sedgefield in 1976. In 2006, Kris Spence meticulously restored Sedgefield to its original identity, using Ross drawings from the late-1940s, as well as a few aerial photographs from different eras. Spence returned the putting surfaces to their original sizes and rebuilt every bunker in their approximate positions to reflect the Ross style, while also adding around 400 yards of length to the course. Sedgefield now plays 7,230 yards at par of 70, with a slope of 141 and the handicap rating of 75.1. For years, the Wyndham Championship has been considered a "Greensboro" event. But today, the Piedmont Triad region with a population of 1.6 million has evolved into one large market for economic development. Recognizing this, the move to Sedgefield, which is located in a central Triad position, furthers the regionalism concept — its proximity to Winston-Salem, Greensboro, High Point and Burlington luring residents to take a greater ownership stake in its success. In return, the Wyndham Championship serves as an economic engine of the entire Triad, because the tournament organizers are committed to use foundation proceeds to fund not only charities, but economic development as well – both inside and outside of Greensboro — namely with The Piedmont Triad Research Park in Winston-Salem and Furnishings initiatives in High Point. For the second year in a row, the 2009 Wyndham Championship sold out of tickets over the weekend at 32,000 per day, and stood as only the second PGA Tour event this year to sell out of hospitality, a fact acknowledged by tour commissioner Tim Finchem during his Thursday visit. Today, it is clear that the region has rallied around the Wyndham Championship — and the Wyndham Championship has rallied around the region. Contact: Mark Brazil: 336-457-9443

Stanhope 'regrets' ban on fireworks


ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope said yesterday he regretted his Government's decision to ban consumer fireworks, indicating he had been outnumbered in cabinet.
Abiding by the Australian Labor Party's cabinet rules, which binds members to support the majority decision, Mr Stanhope backed Industrial Relations Minister John Hargreaves' decision to ban the Queen's Birthday long weekend cracker night despite his own personal views.
''I regret the decision. I think of decisions I've made in Government it's one of the decisions that I have significant regret around,'' Mr Stanhope said yesterday.
''I always enjoyed fireworks, cracker night, I loved it as a child.
''My children loved it, and it's a matter of regret that there are generations of children now that will never have that same experience or that same joy, and I regret that.''
Mr Stanhope indicated he had been at odds with the majority of his cabinet colleagues on the issue. However, it is unknown whether he had been a lone voice in support of fireworks.
''It was, as all cabinet decisions are, a consensus decision, and every member of cabinet supports the decision absolutely, as do I,'' he said.

Garland hopes to reignite Star Spangled Fourth festival

By RAY LESZCYNSKI / The Dallas Morning News

Garland Mayor Ron Jones knew last July Fourth that the only fireworks he'd encounter at Firewheel Town Center probably would be directed at him.
In a year of cutbacks, the city canceled its annual Star Spangled Fourth event, held at the mall the previous few years.
"I went out there just to find out for myself how the citizens and merchants felt," Jones said. "And I got an earful. They missed it. They were extremely disappointed."
The economic situation in Garland is no better this budget cycle, but the mayor is determined to put the community festival back into play. He led the City Council in directing Bryan Bradford, the city's senior managing director of budget and research, to see what kind of funding would be available for 2010.
Bradford reported back Thursday night that budget possibilities totaled $101,703 from four funds. The net cost of the 2008 festival was $240,000.
"We set the bar on Star Spangled Fourth activities, and we were considered the premier city for that holiday," Jones said. "I think we're going to be able to do something. Exactly how we do it, I don't know."
Nor do city officials know where. There has been sentiment to move the festival back downtown, where it enjoyed a decade-long run. Harbor Point on Interstate 30 at Lake Ray Hubbard is also being considered.
Downtown Garland has changed since it last hosted the event. Richland College's Workforce Training Center now occupies the field where the fireworks were lighted. And the 5th Street Crossing development occupies some of what used to be the carnival midway. Still, Jones plans to meet with downtown merchants to discuss the possibilities.
The partnership with Firewheel, however, may best satisfy the economic considerations. The council has been studying mall information indicating that compared with 2008, merchants reported losses of 30 to 70 percent over the 2009 Fourth of July holiday. That's a particular sore point in a city where sales tax revenues are projected to be down $1.7 million for the year.
"We cannot afford not to do this for next year," Jones said.
At budget work sessions, the council discussed Simon Property Group's attempt to provide major sponsorship in 2009. But they said the offer came too late to satisfy city planning. The city has set a February deadline for the mall owners to step up for 2010.
"Firewheel Town Center, our merchants and shoppers have loved being a part of such a wonderful community event," said Melody Kamp, the mall's director of marketing and business development. "We are hopeful that the event will return in 2010 and look forward to working with the city of Garland and other community leaders to make that happen."
Council member Rick Williams said he's willing to give up the VIP hospitality tent and the big-name entertainment of past festivals if the event could bring back the most impressive star of Independence Day.
"The main thing I want to see is just fireworks," he said.
What: Second public hearing on the 2009-10 proposed budget in Garland
When: 7 tonight
Where: Garland City Hall, 200 N. Fifth St.
Tax information: Under the proposal, the city's tax rate will increase 0.7 percent, from 69.96 cents to 70.46 cents per $100 valuation. The city says the increase would be $4.60 a year for the owner of a $100,000 home and $6.90 for the owner of a $150,000 home, after accounting for homestead exemption; the Dallas Central Appraisal District lists the average home value in Garland at $120,537.
We asked readers of the Dallas Morning News' Garland Blog about their preference of sites for a revived Star Spangled Fourth. A sample of their responses:
"When the SS4th was held downtown, the merchants closed and complained about business interruptions. When it was at the Firewheel Mall, stores doubled their sales and the city gained sales tax revenues."
Marcia Golden
"I also loved and was a supporter of downtown. I have not attended since it moved to Firewheel nor volunteered. I have a hard time with giving financial support to a real estate venture. I am sure that having some named concert brought in sales tax from non-Garland residents. I doubt it covered the cost to the city."
"For the past 16 years as my family grew we enjoyed the Star Spangled Fourth, the carnival, the crowd and the light show. I was disappointed when it was moved to Firewheel. We still enjoyed it but from a farther distance. It just wasn't the same. I wish it could still be the carnival, the ambience (a little closer) and the light show up close."
"The carnival atmosphere when SS4th was held downtown was incredible. Plus how easy would it be to access with the DART Station a block away? Could drive to DART on say Forest, hop on, get off a few minutes later in downtown. ... Nothing, absolutely nothing, better than timing a ride on the Ferris wheel with the fireworks being set off."
"Please put it back in downtown. We went the first year it was at the mall. It took us an hour just to get to the Tom Thumb and Whataburger parking lots. It was a nightmare!!! We haven't been back since. We just watch the fireworks in Rowlett."
"With all the hype to build up the Historic Downtown area, it never made sense to me as to why the city moved one of its biggest attractions the SS4 to the Firewheel Mall. The traffic was a nightmare."

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

'Liberty Boom' – A Fireworks Display in Your Pocket

by Blake Patterson

Magnate Interactive has just released Liberty Boom [App Store], a cute little timing / obstacle game that challenges you to put on a fireworks show that pleases the crowd across a variety of skylines throughout the U.S.

Superficially reminiscent of Xbox LIVE's Boom Boom Rocket, but without a rhythm element, Liberty Boom requires detonating each rocket within a certain window of the sky while avoiding airplanes, blimps, and UFOs. It's all about keeping an eye on the crowd meter and keeping the audience happy. (And the audience finds falling, flaming blimps a real turn off…) The longer you wait to detonate within the window, the more points you'll score, and you often need to fire early to avoid hitting a passing aircraft. It's tap to detonate within each of the four columns of the sky, and tilt to control the speed of the passing aircraft.

The list of night skylines available include Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Dallas, Detroit, Miami, New York, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Sedona and Washington D.C., and the developer is accepting skyline photo submissions for future updates. Six original musical tracks accompany the aerial pyrotechnics.

Liberty Boom provides a nice bit of simple, fun timing-based gaming. And, for a limited time, it's available at the introductory price of $.99.

See the developer's video for a closer look. Positive points are shown in green, while negative scores are shown in red.

Legalizing fireworks was a good move, council told


In the view of Independence officials, legalized fireworks have proved a largely positive experience for the city.

One fireworks-related injury was reported over the Independence Day holiday, and the fire department responded to two fireworks-related blazes, both involving residences. One caused $20,000 worth of damages, the other $8,000.

Yet the new fireworks ordinance allowed police to use their resources more effectively, because they weren’t responding to so many fireworks calls.

“The ordinance significantly increased police efficiency,” Brad Halsey, a department major, told City Council members Monday night.

The ordinance, approved in January, allowed the legal sale and use of certain fireworks within city limits. The city issued 12 vendor licenses to nonprofit agencies. Those vendors sold “almost half a million dollars worth of fireworks,” said Jim Harlow, city finance director.

Of the reported $448,359 in revenues, the city received $5,044 in sales taxes.

That, combined with $9,750 realized from non-refundable $250 application fees, meant the city ultimately generated $14,794.

If the council continues the program, said City Manager Robert Heacock, sales tax receipts could be designated in coming years for programs such as fire education or police overtime during the Fourth of July holiday.

Police officials noted a significant decrease in the number of calls this past Independence Day, said Halsey, and a similar decrease in overtime costs. In 2008 the city paid out nearly $4,500 in overtime during the Independence Day holiday, compared to less than $800 this year, Halsey said.

Fire officials, meanwhile, experienced no enforcement problems with the vendors, said chief fire inspector Gene Gould. On some occasions, vendors set up too close to buildings. On others, vendors would leave their storage trailers open and unsecured.

Fire department personnel made about 200 inspections, Gould said, and all vendors were cooperative when alerted to issues.

Council member Jim Schultz, noting that many vendors seem to be clustered in south Independence, wondered whether placing an equal number of booths in all four council districts could stimulate the economy in more locations.

He also wondered whether it would be more fair to limit nonprofit agencies to one booth. Although the vendors were selected by a random process, some wound up with more than one license.

After Halsey noted that bottle rockets, not allowed by the ordinance, were still used in Independence, council member Will Swoffer noted that the general din on Independence Day told him that not all fireworks used in Independence complied with the ordinance.

Some “sounded to me like a half a stick of dynamite,” Swoffer said. “Those are the things that can cause severe damage to structures or people.”

But Swoffer said the ordinance had many benefits. “I endorse it,” he said.

We take great care with fireworks show

By Bob Depoutot, Northfield

I have been in charge of the fireworks for the Pittsfield Balloon Rally in the cemetery for more than 20 years. All vehicles, foot traffic and firework guns are on the roads only. The only grounds we walk on are near the river and only the river. I am a veteran myself and lost fellow Marines in Vietnam. I respect the dead.

There is no self-enrichment here. I work hard to promote the balloon rally every year. I work endlessly at my expense to bring the thousands of people to Pittsfield. This benefits all the kind people of Pittsfield, all the businesses that badly need the money to get by, and the Rotary, which uses the money to reinvest into the town.

I work at this every day of the year to help Pittsfield and am now working on the show for 2010.

When the show is over, the cemetery is cleaned to the littlest tack - perfect!

I have a close friend who is buried in Floral Park Cemetery. He was a friend to all in Pittsfield - Sen. George Freese Sr. - and gave me permission more than 20 years ago to use the cemetery. His wife and two boys, Gef and Rob Freese, say to me after every show, every year, "Thank you, Bob, because our dad is looking down from heaven with a big smile and applauding. Thank you."

This brings me to say our final resting place is with God.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Magnet seller hopes to attract firework $

By Mary E. Arata,

AYER -- Leaving nothing to chance, Ruth Rhonemus is hustling early to raise funds for the town's next Independence Day fireworks display.
In return for a $10 donation, Rhonemus is selling 1,000 specially fabricated magnets, emblazoned with the words "I'm a friend of the Fireworks".
It's an early push to raise the $10,000 needed to fund the annual treat, as well as an effort to take fund raising pressure off the town and the 4th of July Committee.
Rhonemus says she came up with the idea herself. She says the town "got our moneys worth" out of this year's display, which cost $10,000. Due to budget constraints, town meeting opted to cover just half of the fireworks' expense, leaving the 4th of July Committee to finance the other half.
"Next year will be at least as tight as this year," said Rhonemus, "so I want to make sure we have the money there. Maybe we only have to do it next year and the outlook will improve."
The town contracts with the TelStar Display Fireworks Company of Jaffrey, N.H. for the show.
Rhonemus is single-handedly running the fundraiser. She alerted the 4th of July Committee about her fireworks quest and said, ultimately, she hopes there'd be a separate fireworks account to administer donations and cover the annual tab.
Rhonemus hopes to gather the name of each donor to the fireworks fund to create a collage in tribute to the benefactors to be displayed at Pirone Park during next year's display.
Business Products on Main Street created the design for Rhonemus. To give to the fund and receive a magnet if you choose, you can mail a check to Ayer Town Hall c/o the Fireworks Fund and include your name. Rhonemus also says cash donations can be made at the selectmen's office. Rhonemus can be reached at 772-5890 for more information.
"We got a good thing going and we don't want to lose it," Rhonemus said.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

10 reasons why love is like a fireworks display

Published by :Tracey Parece

Love is many things. It's hot and cold, hard and soft, easy and difficult. The poet Robert Burns said that "love is like a red, red rose That's newly sprung in June." Pat Benatar sang that "Love is a Battlefield."
Love is bringing your mate breakfast in bed, watching Jay Leno together, holding hands like teenagers, paying attention, making each other laugh, knowing when to forgive, knowing when to let go . . .
Love is like a fireworks display.
1. In the right hands, it can be a beautiful thing.
2. In the wrong hands, someone could get hurt.
3. No matter how long it lasts, you always wish it would last just a little longer.
4. You always get excited when there is an encore.
5. If you are not careful, you could end up badly burned.
6. It doesn't happen every night. So when it does, you'd better be in the right place at the right time
7. It can get loud and noisy.
8. It can fizzle out without a bang.
9. Sometimes, it explodes out of control and doesn't turn out as planned.
10. The people who are the safest are the ones who are farthest away.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Fireworks at Ravens training camp

Posted by Edward Lee

Training camp at McDaniel College in Westminster is free, but the one-on-one passing drills in the red zone during this morning’s practice was worth the price of admission (if there was one).
Running back Ray Rice got things started when he made a twisting, leaping and falling catch of a Troy Smith in the left rear corner of the end zone. Not to be outdone, cornerback Domonique Foxworth intercepted Smith’s pass to wide receiver Jayson Foster – although Foxworth had to appeal to the fans for the round of applause they so willingly gave Rice.
After wide receiver Demetrius Williams caught a touchdown pass over cornerback Chris Carr, Williams raced to the field-goal posts, leaped onto the padding used to protect the goal posts, and slid down.
But the most entertaining scene occurred when cornerback Frank Walker broke up Joe Flacco’s alley-oop to wide receiver Kelley Washington in the rear left corner of the end zone. Walker and Washington went facemask-to-facemask and jawed at each other for several seconds before going their separate ways. Walker was greeted by Foxworth, and both danced and celebrated Walker’s play.
Afterwards, Walker said he specifically selected Washington to match up against. "He was telling everybody to come press him and then when we get up to press him, he bags up," Walker said. "So that kind of defeated the purpose of what he was saying, but it was just a little camaraderie between the boys, basically a little motivation. May the best man win, and let’s play well."
Washington acknowledged calling out the cornerbacks ("I tell them all to get in my face because I want to challenge all of them," he said.), but agreed with Walker that there was no bad blood.
"It’s just a competition," Washington said. "There are no egos. It’s about getting each other better, and that one-on-one period is probably the closest thing you can get to a game situation. We just get after it, and that’s how it is."

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Nation: The Chinese Come Calling

What a hoot. The Chinese Communists invaded Washington on Monday demanding not that we sacrifice our freedoms but rather that we balance our budget. Creditors get to make that kind of call. And the Marxists of Beijing, who have turned out to be the world's most prudent bankers, are worried about their assets invested in our banana republic.

"China has a huge amount of investment in the United States, mainly in the form of Treasury bonds. We are concerned about the security of our financial assets" was the way China's assistant finance minister put it. Briefing reporters at the US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, he added, "We sincerely hope the US fiscal deficit will be reduced, year after year." Quite sincerely, one suspects, given a US budget shortfall this year that is slated to reach $1.85 trillion.

Suddenly, it was US officials who were promising deep reform to their disgraced economic system rather than demanding it from incompetent foreigners. President Barack Obama's economic team of Clinton-era holdovers, who a decade ago had hectored China on the virtues of fiscal responsibility, now were falling over themselves to reassure the Chinese that their $1.5 trillion stake in US government-issued securities is safe, and that they should buy more at this week's $200 billion Treasury auction. If they don't, we're in big trouble.

US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner promised to behave, saying the US is "committed to taking the necessary measures to bring our fiscal deficits down to a more sustainable level once recovery is firmly established." Now let's hope that the Chinese Communists and their natural allies among congressional deficit hawks will be able to keep him to his word.

And don't blame any of this on peacenik liberals. The new conciliatory—nay, deferential—tone toward China precedes the Obama administration, having begun in bilateral talks during the last years of the Bush administration as the US economy began its ignominious downfall. It was George W. Bush's treasury secretary, Henry Paulson, who set the course when the former Goldman Sachs chairman realized how dependent were his Wall Street buddies on Chinese goodwill.

But from all of this adversity may come something good: recognition that the United States is not the repository of all wisdom. Maybe the Chinese have found a model different from ours that also works? Might there not be an Arab, Latin or Indian one that also qualifies and need not be overthrown?

The tone of this week's talks, ironically held at the Reagan Building and co-chaired by Geithner and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, finally signaled the end of the cold war assumption that regimes with labels like communist and capitalist could not form profitable partnerships. On the contrary, as Secretary Clinton noted, it is time to move from "a multipolar world to a multipartner world." And President Obama in opening the conference made clear that the partnership between China and the US is decisive: "The relationship between the United States and China will shape the 21st century, which makes it as important as any bilateral relationship in the world."

by Robert Scheer

Mark it as a historic Rip van Winkle moment. For those who recall the rhetoric of the cold war, the idea that we would someday be cooperating with Chinese Communists because they had humbled us economically rather than militarily is a startling turnabout. How did they get to be better capitalists than us, and being that they are good capitalists, why are we still spending hundreds of billions a year on high-tech military weapons to counter a potential Chinese military threat when the weapons they are using are all market-driven deployments?

A recognition that our tension with China is not military in nature came at this week's conference in an announcement by Adm. Timothy Keating, commander of the US Pacific Command, that agreement had been reached with his Chinese counterparts on improving relations: "A statement was made by a Chinese delegation official yesterday [Monday] that no country can develop sound policy if they try and do so in isolation. And I think that's a great way of addressing the sense that all of us feel, the desire, to get back together again and discuss exercises, discuss personnel exchanges, discuss responses to humanitarian assistance crises and the provision of disaster relief."

Not bad for a start, and maybe we can help solve our economic problems by selling our latest high-tech weapons to China as we do to the rest of the world. Or better yet, we could do some serious damage to our deficits, and our dependence on the Chinese, by sharply cutting expensive weapons programs now that the cold war is finally over.