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PHOTO: Spring Hill Mayor Rick Graham (right) after having just recited Columbia Central High School’s alma mater Thursday alongside Columbia Mayor Chaz Molder (left). / Photo by Alexander Willis

By ALEXANDER WILLIS

Right before football season began this year, Columbia Mayor Chaz Molder publicly challenged Spring Hill Mayor Rick Graham to a friendly bet; if the Spring Hill Raiders were to reign victorious over the Columbia Central Lions during their competing football game – aptly titled the Mayor’s Cup – then Molder agreed to appear at the next Spring Hill city meeting and recite the winning team’s school motto – all while wearing the Raiders’ jersey. Were the Lions to claim victory, then Graham would be expected to do the same.

After what was an incredibly close game, the Lions managed to take the Mayor’s Cup last month by a single point difference, winning Columbia both the trophy and the bet between the two mayors, with Columbia’s next city meeting set for Thursday, September 12. And as promised, Graham was reared and ready to roll Thursday as the meeting began – purple socks and all.

After a few housekeeping items at the meeting, Molder thanked Graham for traveling all the way to Columbia, and went on to praise the relationship the two cities shared, saying that the success of one equals success for the other.

“Right now, there is a lot of camaraderie, open lines of communication, and just pure relationships and friendships that I think exists between all the municipalities and our county government right now,” Molder said. “I think that’s important – I think people take notice of that. As I say all the time, when Spring Hill has a success or a win – whether that be on jobs, retail, or you name it – we’re cheering for you, because anything that Spring Hill does that’s a success, then that so too means it’s a success for Columbia. We know that Spring Hill has that same approach that it takes as well.”

Before donning the purple Lions jersey, Graham shared Molder’s sentiments, saying that even beyond the connection the two city governments shared, he also had strong personal ties to Columbia of his own.

“Some of you may know this, but I do have a Columbia connection going back about 38 years,” Graham said. “I married a Columbia girl, who, by the way, was a Central graduate and a Columbia State graduate. I was married in Columbia, I was baptized in Columbia… I say all this because we’re all connected a lot more than we think we are, [and] so much of that is more than what divides us. We are honored in Spring Hill to call you a good neighbor, and our future looks very promising.”

“With that,” Graham added, “I’ll just say one more thing and then we’ll do my duty – I should have doubled down on the Central / Summit game.”

“No comment on that,” Molder replied, laughter filling the room.

Molder then stood up and walked down to the central podium, joining Graham in reciting the school’s alma mater – a Latin word meaning a school’s motto or anthem.

“On Columbia’s western border Reared against the sky, proudly stands our Alma Mater as the years go by. Forward ever be our watchword, conquer and prevail; hail to thee, our Alma Mater! Columbia High – All Hail! Cherished by our sons and daughters, memories sweet shall throng, ‘round our hearts our Alma Mater, as we sing our song. forward ever be our watchword, conquer and prevail: hail to thee, our Alma Mater! Columbia High – All Hail!”

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