HomeOpinionSylvia Cooper Examines Augusta’s ’COVID-19 Operating Plan’

Sylvia Cooper Examines Augusta’s ’COVID-19 Operating Plan’



I’m not sure Augusta’s new City Administrator Odie Donald II will be a good administrator, but I am sure he’s a good bureaucrat because he generates a lot of paper.

Donald’s proposed “COVID-19 Operating Plan” is 34 pages of information, charts, diagrams, instructions, details and facts about the disease and stopping its spread. Donald has formed a COVID-19 working group divided into four sub-groups.

The government has had 306 cases from July through the first week of January, most of them (120) in the sheriff’s office, with Fire/EMA at 57 cases and Water/Utilities with 24 cases and one death, that of Director Tom Wiedmeier.

The plan is just chock full of ways to combat the spread of Covid and educate the public. For example, employees must take their temperatures and fill out a questionnaire before entering the workplace. And they must fill out the same questionnaire before leaving.

Two areas I thought folks might find interesting were enforcement and priorities for who will receive the vaccine after the fire department, sheriff’s office, marshal’s office, Richmond County Correctional Institute, coroner’s office and employees over 65 years old get it.

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The mayor and commissioners take first priority, followed by administrators, deputy directors, additional elected officials, appointees and staff.

“The decision to vaccinate the Augusta, Ga., leadership before prioritizing each department was decided using the CARVER and ACIP methods to analyze the greatest vulnerability and leave the organization the most at risk if lost,” Donald states.

Would the loss of the mayor and commissioners really leave the government more at risk than the loss of the water and utility employees?

No. And I don’t care what the CARVER method says. If it puts the city at risk for Mayor Hardie Davis not to be around, he shouldn’t always be going out of town, should he?

(P.S. I could go into what CARVER and ACIP stand for, but I have neither space, time or patience to do it.)

Disobey, and You’re Out of Business

Anyone who violates the mayor’s executive order will be guilty of a civil offense and may be fined $25 on the first violation; $50 on the second and $100 on the third.

Based on city code, their business licenses may be denied, suspended or revoked if the license holder violates or intends to violate any state or federal law or the executive order until it is lifted. The Augusta Commission can also suspend or revoke a business license if the license holder violates any law applicable to the business, such as not wearing a mask.

Gone but Not Forgotten

I saw where former Georgia Department of Transportation Chairman Don Grantham had been appointed to the Ports Authority and wanted to talk to him about it. So, I had to go to the phone list on my computer to get his number. I hadn’t looked at it in a long time, and I started scrolling down and noticing how many people had died, retired or gone nutty. Some had done all three. I started writing the names on a yellow legal pad but quit because there were so many, I got writer’s cramp.

Among the dead were mayors, commissioners, sheriffs, state representatives and senators, members of various boards and authorities. Oh, so many! City of Augusta Mayor Charles DeVaney, Sheriff Charlie Webster, Richmond County commissioners Hobson Chavous, Harrell Tiller and Willie Mays; Board of Elections Executive Director and Richmond County Administrator Linda Beasley; Augusta Coliseum Authority Chairman Ernie Bowman; State Rep. Mike Padgett; John Strelec, former Richmond County school superintendent; school board member Joe Scott Jr; Augusta Commission Attorney Jim Wall; state Rep. Quincy Murphy; Harry Moore.

I knew them all and so many more. It makes me sad they’re gone. And I could tell you something about each one of them. Perhaps I will in upcoming columns. It’s sort of funny that when officials at the Marble Palace would make me leave because they said the meeting I’d walked into wasn’t public, I’d say, “Just remember, I might be the one writing your obituary one day.” And I was for many of them.

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One of the people on the list who had no connection to government was Eugenia “Genie” Lehmann. She was a gardener, and I was doing gardening stories then, so I went to her house to do one on her garden. She knew the history of Augusta because she’d lived through so much of it. The first time I wrote about her, she was 99 years old, and the Masters Golf Tournament was in town. She gave me her version of how the Augusta National got started. It’s pretty long, so I’ll save that until the tournament this year.

Another time I visited Genie I took along the Augusta Herald’s September 1940 Progress edition that was among the stacks of old newspapers my friend Hugh Terrell had given me. I thought she might like to hear the names of some of the prominent people of that day.

Among them was a photo of Ty Cobb. She said Ty Cobb Jr. was one of her beaus and a good dancer and that Ty Cobb used to beat his wife. She said they were all redheads.

Genie also talked about the Yankees coming to Augusta in their private rail cars with their servants and fancy clothes and staying all winter at the Bon Air Hotel and the Partridge Inn. She had a friend whose name was Ann Barrett whose father, Frank Barrett, was “a high muckety-muck,” a member of the New York Stock Exchange. She said all the Yankees would go to his house at Milledge and Cumming Road and gamble from October to April.

Midway through the story, she stopped and laughed. “Ha, ha. I can’t talk to you.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Cause I’m telling you more than I should.”

Then she proceeded to tell all in vivid detail.

Back to the Present

So, after that short trip down Memory Lane, I called Don and told him I’d seen that he’d been appointed to the Ports Authority. I should say reappointed.  He was on it for 12 years, from 1972 until 1984. I asked him whether he was going to see to it while he was on the authority that the Savannah River in Augusta had water in it.

“Damn right!” he said. “I’m going to do everything I can on the Lock and Dam.”

So, we chatted about old times. I asked about his wife, Carol, and reminded him of something that happened when he was on the Augusta Commission, years ago. She was taking me to task for something I’d written about the commission she didn’t like. So, I said, “It’s satire Carol.”

And she replied, “People in Augusta don’t understand satire.”

When I told the editor back at the newspaper, he said that was the funniest thing he’d ever heard.

Gone to the Dogs

Since voting in America has gone to the dogs with dogs and cats receiving absentee ballots in the mail and voting, these famous dogs are watching Joe Biden’s inauguration on the big TV screen at their favorite hangout, “Bones Bar & Grill.”

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(Credence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising is playing on the jukebox. It’s one of their favorite songs. “Crying Time” is another.)

I see the bad moon a-rising

I see trouble on the way

I see earthquakes and lightnin’

I see bad times today

Don’t go around tonight

Well it’s bound to take your life

There’s a bad moon on the rise

I hear hurricanes a-blowing

I know the end is coming soon

I fear rivers overflowing

I hear the voice of rage and ruin

Jerry: Be Bop a Lula! The Washington Mall is empty. Ain’t nobody there. Where are those 84 million voters who voted for Joe Biden?

Johnny: Yeah, looks like if 84 million voters voted for Joe Biden, more than 200 would have shown up. And those are the ones who have to be there. And a lot of them are crooks who can’t wait to get back to getting rich. That’s why they hated Donald Trump. He wasn’t part of the establishment.

George: I might just be a dumb animal, but I ain’t dumb enough to think that if 84 million voted for him, there wouldn’t be more out there at his inauguration. There were more dogs at my grandson’s fetch game last week than there are there.

Merle: Donald Trump had a bigger crowd when he landed in West Palm Beach today than what we’re loooking at there. They’ll try to say it’s Covid that caused nobody to show up, but Joe Biden couldn’t draw flies. When the few times he left his basement and campaigned, nobody would be there. So, to cover, CNN said they were all inside a building. How stupid do they think we are?

George: Pretty damned stupid, if you ask me.

Merle: Nobody wanted to turn out because they know the Democrats stole the election from Donald Trump. It was a fraud. It was so bad, I could smell it a mile away, and you know our sense of smell is phenomenal. We can smell fraud, and we can see it too, especially when it’s right in front of our eyes. And we don’t have to use our night vision either. We saw through all the cheating. We saw what happened the night the lights went out in Georgia.

George: If you keep talking like that, they’ll come after you and censor you and make the record companies stop distributing your music. And there won’t be any more cute little Merle songs like “Rainbow Stew.” They’ll say you’re an extremist too. Biden just said extremists and white supremacists are the biggest threat to this country.

Merle: Bigger than Antifa and Black Lives Matter burning down cities and the Democrats turning a blind eye to it, and governors locking down whole states and keeping people from making a living. People are dying from Covid, but they’re also committing suicide and overdosing because they’ve lost everything. Is white supremacy, by which he means Trump supporters, a bigger threat than the Chinese Communist Party’s coronavirus?

Elvis: Why are we watching this? Nobody else is.

Buck: Because Bones has the TV set on CNN. This is such a farce! The whole world is seeing how the American people have been defrauded. They’re laughing at us over in that dog eating country that sent us Covid-19.

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George: Look there at Biden and Mitch McConnell. Two peas in a pod. They have a lot in common over China.

Elvis: Look! Bill Clinton has fallen asleep. And here comes Kitty, dressed in all black.

Kitty: Hello, boys.

Elvis: Why all the black today, Kitty?

Kitty: I’m in mourning over what’s happening to our country, Over the lying by hypocrites in Washington and mainstream media.

Elvis: Might as well get over it, Kitty. You’re barking up the wrong tree. Biden is going to be there for four years unless they start cutting back on his meds.

Kitty: Get over it!  I’ll never get over it. I’m not making believe everything was on the up and up. I’m going to be like a dog with a bone. I’m going to gnaw on it until the election fraud is exposed. And I won ‘t stop no matter how hard big tech, big business, the oligarchs and the media try to censor me. Their favorite word about the evidence is “debunked” Well, they’re going to be debunked themselves when the truth they’re trying so hard to suppress comes out. And it will. The truth always comes out.

Jerry Lee: Good Golly Miss Molly! We’re all licking our wounds, but you need to get a grip. You and Merle both.

George: Lou Dobbs said no president has ever had so much success in a first term, at the same time, no president has ever endured more resistance, more vicious attacks, more outright subversion of his administration than has President Trump. He said there was substantial planning by terrorist groups to move the mob into the building January6th. He said the radical left in this country has a unique record among all partisans to do what they do. But to see Mitch Mconnell, the number one Republican in the United States, pile on without any evidence of what he was alleging was disgraceful and what the RINOS are doing is even more disgraceful.

Jerry Lee: I hate being labeled. Some labeled me as country, and some labeled me as rock and roll.

George: Well, Jerry Lee, the night you were singing “Shake Baby Shake” and got up on top of the piano and played it with your toes pretty much settled that debate.

Jerry Lee: Still, I don’t like being labeled.

(Merle’s song  “It’s All Going to Pot” comes on on the  jukebox, and they all stop and listen.)

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

All of the whiskey in Lynchburg, Tennessee

It just couldn’t hit the spot

I gotta hundred dollar bill, friend

You can keep your pills

‘Cause it’s all going to pot

That cackle-bobble-head-in-a-box

Must think I’m dumb as a rock

Readin’ daily news

While I’m kickin’ off my shoes

It’s scarin’ me outta my socks

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

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  1. It feels good to be able to once again be part of your world which makes ours so much better knowing people can’t just say it, or do it without you letting us know even if it is a good thing, but you know us we do like to know about the bad thinks too. It keeps us informed and doors wide open and lets the light of day shine on it!

  2. God bless you, Sylvia Cooper! Augusta would be in a sour pickle without you. By the way, I noticed that in this column you capitalized “Yankees” every time, even if they’re not the baseball team. Is that from the latest revision of the AP style guide?

  3. Sylvia, when I found out you were writing for theaugustapress.com, I subscribed right away. You let us know what’s going on, and you’re an interesting and witty writer…look forward to reading your pieces.

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