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Sea turtles, the Olympics and Vince Dooley
Yarbrough column
Dick Yarbrough NEW 06062016

Lawyers, like kids, can say the darnedest things. That was proven during a recent hearing in Atlanta regarding an appeal by environmental groups of a permit allowing the Sea Island Company to construct a 350-foot long rock barrier — known as a groin — that would jut out from the island’s shoreline.

It would create a new beach at the posh resort, and opponents said the project would be detrimental to the local wildlife — particularly endangered sea turtles. The attorney for Sea Island, Patricia Barmeyer, said, in so many words, big honking deal.

She reasoned that if sea turtles already swim hundreds of miles to their annual nesting grounds, they can surely find another place to lay their eggs. Barmeyer, who is not a sea turtle but who seems to know them well, said, “We don’t think that having to swim to one side or the other of the (groin) would impose a meaningful or unreasonable detriment,”

Last I heard, the sea turtles who have been coming to Sea Island longer than Barmeyer, strongly disagreed and said they just might lay their eggs in Barmeyer’s shoes. …

My recent column on Bill and Gloria Gaither drew an unusually large reader response from across the state. Some know them personally. Some have met them at their homecoming concerts, but all wanted me — and them — to know how much the Gaithers have touched their lives with their music over the years.

The only negative comments I got were that I didn’t mention a reader’s particular favorite gospel group or artist when listing those I had enjoyed while growing up. Happily, what I hoped was true seems to be — those who know them say Bill and Gloria Gaither are good folks. …

Did I miss something or were there riots in the streets and stores looted and angry protests by media muggers with bullhorns and provocative T-shirts after Eastman police officer Tim Smith was gunned down in the line of duty? And how about Marietta Police Officer Scott Davis who was allegedly shot by two 15-year-old gang members at 4:30 in the morning? (Fortunately, Officer Davis is expected to recover.) Where are the cries of righteous indignation from politicians and pundits and preachers? Do all lives matter or just certain ones? I thought so. …

In some ways, it seems like a lifetime ago. In other ways, it seems like it was only yesterday. I speak of the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games which has just observed its 20th anniversary. As one of the managing directors of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, I never experienced more highs and lows than during those days.

Having put it behind me, I didn’t plan to get involved in any commemorations of that event. At the last minute, I decided to go to a reunion of management, staff and supporters. I saw people who I hadn’t seen in 20 years. We were all Type-A personalities, highly-opinioned and sometimes fractious, but together we did something very special. Now, I realize that we were a remarkable band of brothers and sisters. …

I will have more to say on this in the near future — a lot more — but it is a travesty that the field at Sanford Stadium is not named for 83-year-old retired Hall of Fame football coach Vince Dooley, the winningest coach in the history of the University of Georgia. I am told it is a couple of mean-spirited political types and a few assorted other narrow minds that prevent this from happening. And don’t tell me because a building is named for him on campus that this suffices. National television doesn’t show that building. It shows the playing field. Almost every field and stadium in the Southeastern Conference and many across the nation honor a legendary coach. Even the University of Florida has named their field for Steve Spurrier. But not Vince Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium? Gadzooks! What is it going to take to do the right thing in Athens? I’m not going to let this one go. …

Finally, after a year’s absence due to circumstances beyond my control — like the Woman Who Shares My Name breaking her leg twice — I am headed to St. Simons Island to see if the corn-fried shrimp are still at the Georgia Sea Grill and are waiting for me. I hope so. After what I have been through, it is the least those little critters can do for me.

You can reach Dick Yarbrough at; at P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139; online at or on Facebook at

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