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If it's not one thing, it's the other 

Wal-Mart is coming! Wal-Mart is coming!

No wait. My mistake.

Wal-Mart isn't coming! Wal-Mart isn't coming!

Hold on. That's not right either. I think I'm missing something here. I'm going to try again, and I'm not going to use exclamation points, because I can't keep up that intensity for long. It wears me out.

Well, maybe just this once. For you. But only because it's you.

Wal-Mart seems to be coming, but probably not in the way anyone's been expecting it to come! Wal-Mart seems to be coming, but probably not in the way anyone's been expecting it to come!

That's it. I'm spent. No more exclamation points for you this week. I don't even know if I can muster the wherewithal for a question mark. We'll see.

I'm sorry if this is all a little confusing. The Wal-Mart stuff, I mean. Not the punctuation talk. Between e-mails I've read and daily headlines that have been bouncing around the county, I've been having some trouble keeping track of what's going on in Atascadero. Was it one if by land, two if by sea? Or the other way around? Where's a modern-day Paul Revere when you need him?

Looks like I had a few question marks in me after all.

I'm also wondering if Atascadero's community development director, Warren Frace, has been feeling the same way. Like a yo-yo on spin cycle. Like a cat who climbed into a warm pile of towels in the dryer for a nap, and is now tumbling around in a cloud of socks and underwear. Like a boomerang on an elastic cord. It's all back and forth, back and forth, around and around, around and around.

Wal-Mart has long been the focus of many a public eye in Atascadero. Some folks think it would be an economic boon to the town. Others think it would sound a death knell for other businesses, as well as that quaint way of life locals have come to love and expect. Either way, Wal-Mart's been looming on the horizon like an imminent, reluctant sunrise for a while now, and plans of one sort or another have been kicking about.

I think the official word now is that Wal-Mart's spokespeople want to modify what potential plans they've submitted to the city so far. Everything's still looming, it seems, it's just probably not going to happen quite the way it was originally envisioned. Maybe it'll be smaller. Or there won't be as much "super" in the Supercenter. Or something like that. Everyone's using all this technical jargon like "rezoning" and "lot merger" and "southeast corner." It's too much for a little ol' nitpicker like myself to understand.

I wouldn't be surprised if it was too much for others to understand either. There's been so much flip-flopping and flop-flipping regarding this whole Wal-Mart process in Atascadero, I can't even remember what the original proposal was. I think, if I wrack my brain hard enough, I can vaguely recall that Wal-Mart had gotten in contact with someone called the Rottman Group, and a bunch of people applied to see if they could build up a city around the proposed Supercenter. Or maybe Atascadero came first. It's the whole chicken-and-the-egg philosophy thing that I've never been particularly good with.

I hope that the whole confusing rigmarole doesn't drive anybody out of their mind, because Atascadero State Hospital might not be the best place to find some mental help these days. Once again, this situation involves a lot of jargony mumbo-jumbo like "need wage increases" and "losing staff" that I don't profess to be smart enough to understand. Call me crazy, but no, wait. Don't call me crazy. Don't, don't, don't.

Call me totally sane, but Atascadero overall seems to have been needing a little extra TLC these days. Paso, Templeton, why don't you guys bake some cookies and make up a basket of some nice treats to take over there later this week? Between tug-o'-wars with megastores and the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation not that they're tugging against each other, they're just both involved in oh, never mind. You get what I'm saying. Maybe we can all just pitch in for a fruit basket and a nice card.

Now forgive me, but I didn't want to stare at North County too long. All the attention I've been giving it was making me dizzy, and I didn't want to go blind, like this kid I knew in elementary school who looked directly at a solar eclipse.

Anyway, I delicately averted my gaze and turned instead to South County, where I couldn't help but notice that the Woodlands development was chugging along nicely up on the Nipomo Mesa. It seems that a "village center" got county approval recently, meaning a set of apartments is now scheduled to pop up next to a Sheriff's substation.

Don't call me crazy remember? but I can't help but chuckle at the new odd couple neighbors. Apartments, I assume, will be a bit more affordable for residents than the luxury homes, so naturally that's where the local law-enforcement branch should be situated. Keep an eye on that riffraff, deputies.

Nipomo has more than enough of its own Paul Reveres "Growth is coming! Growth is coming!" though the ongoing tussles over water on the Mesa and its environs certainly keep anyone who's trying to speed that growth along on their toes. Speaking of which, that same kid I mentioned before, the one who foolishly stared at the eclipse, also had this big growth on his toe. Boy did he have problems. Maybe we should send him a fruit basket, too.

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