HomeOpinionQuiet week for the Augusta Commission

Quiet week for the Augusta Commission

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When the weatherman started predicting snow and ice for the Augusta area this weekend, I went to the grocery store to stock up, and Ernie started disconnecting the hoses outside and covering up the faucets.

Then we began to have doubts there’d be snow or ice because of previous hyped-up storm warnings but no storms. Now that they’re saying there’s only going to be a little rain late Saturday, we’re thinking about going back to the store for another can or two of beans just to be on the safe side.

Meanwhile, it was a slow news week Augusta Commission-wise. The biggest news was an announcement by Augusta  Branch NAACP President the Rev. Melvin Ivey that the Martin Luther King parade was being postponed from Saturday until the end of February because of COVID-19.

Commissioners also were back to Zoom meetings because of Coronadoom,

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Once a Richmond County Library, always a Richmond County Library

Over the years, there have been several Augusta Commission discussions about reducing the number of libraries or privatizing them, but nothing has ever come of it. And last week there was another one, generated by Commissioner Catherine McKnight about the possibility of the historic Appleby Library on Walton Way being turned over to the Summerville community to operate.

“Appleby Library is the oldest library,” McKnight said. “It’s not up to ADA compliance. The community has mentioned trying to take it over, so they can do some work in there. I’d like to get some feedback on this. The community said they didn’t mind taking it over.”

Well, you could tell nothing was going to come of that discussion either, based on the demeanor of public service committee members when the agenda item came up.

Commissioners Ben Hasan and Alvin Mason were both members of the ad hoc redistricting committee that received harsh criticism from Summerville residents about a redistricting map that split the neighborhood into different commission districts. Not that Hasan or Mason would hold a grudge or anything, but they weren’t happy when some Summervillians said they’d look into seceding from Augusta and forming the city of Summerville if the committee approved a map that split District 3. But that’s what the ad hoc committee did.

So, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens to that map when state lawmakers, and possibly a federal district judge, get ahold of it.

Anyway, Hasan and Mason wasted no time in nixing McKnight’s proposal.

“We had a conversation several years ago about selling a library, and the commission pushed back very strongly on that,” Hasan said. “The library board is not aware of this, and they are not in favor of it.”

Hmmmm.

Mason and Mayor Pro Tem Bobby Williams agreed.

The city’s Facilities Director Takyiah Douse said plans are in the works to upgrade the library and that adding an elevator is a top priority. She also said the city had already put a new roof on the building.

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There Are Fees for Everything

A commission committee also approved these qualifying fees for this year’s local elections:

– State Court Judges, $4,970.08

– Chief Judge of the Civil and Magistrate Court, $4,200

– Mayor of Augusta, $1,950

– Augusta Commission (Seats 2, 4, 6, 8, And 9) $360

– Richmond County Board of Education (Seats 2, 3, 6, 7 and 9) $100

All fees are based on the salaries of the elected officials except for Board of Education fees which are in the state Constitution.

In Other News

Richmond County Tax Commissioner Steven Kendrick officially announced his candidacy for mayor of Augusta, which could be considered the biggest non-news event of the week since he confirmed last March he would run and has already raised $75,581 in campaign donations. The only other candidate to come anywhere close is business owner Garnett Johnson who raised $127,600, which looks really good until you see he donated $125,000 of it to himself. He says he’s leading from the front.

People wonder why Kendrick would give up a job that pays $150,000 a year that he’s got a firm handle on and is in charge of everything for one that pays about $85,000 a year with no commission vote. Of course, there is the power of the bully pulpit and a half-million-dollar office budget to squander if he’s so inclined. But he says money’s not the object. Leading a city to greatness is. But the road to greatness is being made longer every day.

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More Predictions and Updates:

Last January, I asked my Facebook friends to send me their opinions of 2021 so far. This year, I asked the ones whose responses I used in the January 17, column in The Augusta Press for an update on how they think the rest of the year went. First, are their responses two weeks into 2021 and then on Dec. 30:

Teresa Cheadle Boquist:  2021 so far?  A disaster. Idiots at the Capitol. Protesters’ lives changed forever because of emotional mistakes. A president beloved by 70 million people wrongly impeached for the second time. A man who does NOT possess all his mental faculties about to take the highest office in our land. A gold-digging woman who had an affair with a married man about to take the second highest office and eventually the first, too. Censorship running rampant. Cancel culture taking control. Yeah, so far 2021 is a disaster.

Boquist’s Update: I still stand by my assessment of 2021. Putting fear into people over COVID. Yes, it does appear to be deadly for people with compromised health, but no worse than a bad flu for others and yet the world is shut down over it. The U.S. economy has taken a big hit because of the shutdowns. Our children have suffered. People with tender emotions are practically frazzled to the point of suicide. Paying people money WE DON’T HAVE to sit on their butts at home. This country and the world has gone to hell in a hand basket. And I feel helpless to do anything to help fix it. This is where I stand today.

Vince Broderick: 2021 so far: Happy that vaccine is out for COVID and optimistic that I will soon become eligible to obtain this vaccine. Sad for the state of our governments, state and federal. State seems inept, and the Federal is filled with hate.  We are going back to a government that is only about themselves. I feel like we are a million miles from Washington while really only a day’s drive away. Happy for those that have money invested and hopeful that they will protect that money now from crashes and government raids. Wishing we could have the Donald Trump party with all the policies but without Donald Trump since people hate him so much. But that’s impossible. Happy for my healthy family and especially happy for my grandchildren.”

Broderick’s Update: Thanks for allowing an update this year. 2021 was much worse than 2020. Still happy about the vaccine, although we now know it does not prevent COVID-19 but only reduces the severity. Have completely lost confidence in CDC and FDA. They are political and inept. WHO seems a bit better since going a few months without U.S. funding. The federal government is a joke to the world. I said last year that it seemed a million miles a way. Well, that changed. The federal government is upon us when we buy gas, groceries, and everything else. But if you need an agency, they are still working from home. Give me a break. The State of Georgia is in good shape but has not restored confidence in elections yet and with that we could lose it all. I look for 2022 to be the most divisive year since 1865 in Georgia and Washington. Grandchildren are still great, so we do have that.

Virginia Archer Williams: For 2021, afraid virus will continue to mutate and more and more will be hospitalized, further taxing the nursing staff. Economy will spiral further down. Battle of gun control will be an issue, support of law enforcement by Congress will be an issue.

William’s Update:  First of all, it seems that the virus is continuing to mutate. Although things have opened back up and many people have been vaccinated, the cases continue and are even on the rise. I have many incidents of businesses being to open or fully open due to lack of staff, may in part be due to the unemployment so many people collected and are now just too lazy to work. Economy continues to be an issue with the closing of the oil pipelines making us once again dependent on foreign sources and have to pay their exorbitant prices. This also causes hardships for farmers as they need fuel to plant and harvest the crops which is passed along to increased prices in the grocery stores. Also, continuing prices of feed for animals increases price of meat. With all of this, farmers are having to either barely get by or take losses. The average consumer is unaware of this. My family member raises beef cattle, so I know firsthand what is happening. Gun control will continue as long as the Democrats are in control. They have many people fooled into believing guns are the problem. Guess that’s enough on my “soap box” for today.

Larry Garner: We ain’t seen nothing yet.

Garner’s Update: Wow! So, what we’ve seen from this administration is deception, lies, misleading, inflation, increased cost of living, and the fact that they think we don’t notice and believe them when they blame it on Trump or that it’s no big deal. Biden/Harris are not qualified for any job, Biden has been in office for over 45-years and has nothing to show for it, has never had a real job. Harris has slept (sic) her way to this office (she even admitted it) and has no clue what she is doing. And YES, I believe the election was manipulated, and they’ll try again. I hope history will tell the true story – if we survive it to be able to. Our freedoms are in jeopardy, (First and Second Amendments especially). 

Hugh Terrell: I predict that the Columbia County Theatre that is under construction will open and even with a two-story parking deck, there will be nowhere for senior citizens to park, so we will never see the inside of it, much less a live performance. And I also predict they will build another building for the arts where the retirement home burned instead of buying that property back and providing adequate parking for events.

Terrell’s Update: I have attended the new event center. I went for the Elvis Christmas show. Parking was ample and convenient, oddly enough. I was pleasantly surprised at how well it went. The place was beautiful, and we enjoyed everything about the event and experience and will attend other functions in the future. The parking deck was nowhere used to its maximum potential that night from my observation.

Fritz Wurzinger: I predict the stock market “bubble” will burst.

Wurzinger’s Update: So, there is nothing left for the Stock Market for 2021; and I’m glad that my prognosis turned out wrong.

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Gone to the Dogs

Since voting in America has gone to the dogs with dogs and cats getting absentee ballots in the mail these famous dogs are watching the big TV screen at their favorite hangout, “Bones Bar & Grill” and talking about the sad state of affairs the country is in a year after Joe Biden was made president.

The jukebox in the corner is playing Merle Haggard’s “It’s All Going to Pot.” 

Well, it’s all going to pot

Whether we like it or not

The best I can tell

The world’s gone to hell

And we’re sure gonna miss it a lot

Johnny: Gonna miss it? We already miss it. We’ve stepped into a burning ring of fire. And everything Joe Biden does makes the flames go higher.

Credence Clearwater: I see a bad moon arising. I see trouble on the way.

Kitty: Trouble’s already here. Have you been to the grocery store lately? The prices have gone through the roof. That is if you can find anything you want to buy. The shelves are empty. There’s not a bag of Meow Mix to be had.

Jerry Lee: Great balls of fire! What’s going on?

Johnny: They’re getting us ready for the Great Reset in 2030 when you won’t own anything, but you’ll be happy although you won’t have any meat to eat. Only the global elite will eat meat. They decided that at the World Economic Forum in 2020.

Kitty: They aren’t waiting until 2030. You already can’t find a decent piece of meat.

Johnny: These shortages are just part of the plan.

Kitty: They’re getting us ready for breadlines like they had in Russia.

George: Yeah. We both live in a two-story house, but not for much longer. The corporations, big tech and the government will own everything after the Great Reset. Mostly the corporations. And we’ll be lucky to rent a one-bedroom apartment. 

Johnny: And if we complain, they’ll cancel us.

Jerry Lee: Be Bop a Lula! Gangs are going around shooting innocent people for no reason, and nobody’s doing anything about it, especially in the big cities. The mayors and police chiefs won’t let the police arrest them. Illegal immigrants are flooding the country and getting on full welfare because Biden wants to get Donald Trump’s goat and swell the Democrat ranks for the next election.

Buck: We got heartaches by the number, troubles by the score. We can’t get new cars, machines or replacement parts because the Democrat-controlled unions won’t let the ships sitting offshore for months into port. They want us to get used to living like we’re in a third-world country, so we won’t notice we’ve already been eaten up by inflation and lost everything when the Great Reset comes.

George: The Democrats aren’t all bad. It’s the global elites, the corporations I worry about.

Buck: Same thing. Birds of a feather.

George: If we keep talking like this, people are going to say we’re conspiracy theorists.

Buck: Just because we’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get us.

George: But the Democrats are fighting to make it possible for us to keep on voting. They’re fighting to get the Republican voter integrity laws mandating photo IDs struck down. If we have to show IDs and election officials see our long hair and tails, we’ll never get another ballot.

Kitty: Have you seen some of the people with long hair who show their tails all the time voting? We have as good a chance of getting a ballot as they do.

They stop talking when another Merle Haggard song comes on the jukebox.

I wish a buck was still silver


And it was back when country was strong
Back before Elvis and before Viet Nam war came along
Before the Beatles and “Yesterday”
When a man could still work and still would
Is the best of the free life behind us now?
And are the good times really over for good?
Are we rollin’ down hill like a snowball headed for hell
With no kind of chance for the flag or the Liberty Bell…

Sylvia Cooper is a Columnist with The Augusta Press. Reach her at [email protected]  

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