From the notebook of business editor Tim Rausch

By: Damon Cline on April 7, 2008 - 5:48pm - Add new comment

PRICEY PARKING: Parking lots were filled up quickly Monday at paid lots all around the Augusta National property except for one: the National Hills shopping center.
The $40 price posted to park at the property, which was acquired last year by an Atlanta-based retail developer, is now the high watermark for Masters Week parking prices.

By: Damon Cline on April 6, 2008 - 8:55pm - Add new comment

Business Reporter LaTina Emerson’s feature story on Thompson Building Wrecking Co. Inc. this week yielded more than just 50 years of family business history – some bona fide ghost stories were told.

The company’s president, Hiram Thompson, said two of his employees have sworn they experienced paranormal activity while working at the Forrest Hills-Ricker Hotel/Oliver Gen­eral Hospital building near Forest Hills Golf Club.

The first occurred in 1987, when the historic hotel-turned-Veterans Administration hospital and 32 smaller buildings were being torn down.

By: Damon Cline on March 30, 2008 - 8:29pm - Add new comment

The first week of April is nearly on us, and you know what that means.

That’s right: A major media outlet somewhere is working on its (insert Stone Phillips voice here) “other side of Augusta” story.

You know what I’m talking about. Nearly every year a major newspaper or magazine publishes a story during Masters Week, pointing out how most of Augusta is not as classy as the venerable Masters Tournament or as picturesque as Amen Corner.

Local reaction to these stories (even after all these years) falls into three basic categories:

By: Damon Cline on March 23, 2008 - 6:57pm - Add new comment

If you think alcohol is made for drinking and not for pumping into your gas tank, you might be a little miffed at what’s going on around town: Ethanol-blended fuel has arrived.

Many fuel pumps in the area are sporting stickers proclaiming that the fuel they dispense might contain up to 10 percent ethanol, a blend known in many parts of the country – mostly the Midwest – as E10.

By: Damon Cline on March 16, 2008 - 6:52pm - Add new comment

Editor’s Note: The Augusta-area business news, issues and gossip normally found in Scuttlebiz is absent this week because business editor Damon Cline was out of town. Instead, he offers the following account of his visit to his hometown. Mr. Cline apologizes to readers interested exclusively in Augusta-area topics and urges them to read next week’s Scuttlebiz.

SAN MANUEL, Ariz. — It’s eerily quiet in this high desert town.

By: Damon Cline on March 9, 2008 - 5:52pm - Add new comment

What do you get when you take 30 local officials and business leaders, arm them with laser guns and turn them loose on each other in a dim arena?

I call it the best grand-opening gimmick ever.

On March 17, Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver and Columbia County Commission Chairman Ron Cross will celebrate the opening of the new laser tag arena at Adventure Crossing by doing battle in a cross-county exhibition match.

By: Damon Cline on March 2, 2008 - 7:22pm - Add new comment

“The older I get the more I admire and crave competence, just simple competence, in any field from adultery to zoology.”
– H.L. Mencken

I really enjoyed sitting down to talk with Wayne Brown, the subject of this week’s cover story, for three reasons:

1. I’ve always been intrigued by highly successful businesspeople who have skirted media attention out of shyness instead of trying to conceal questionable business practices.

By: Damon Cline on February 24, 2008 - 8:52pm - Add new comment

Some fear that the addition of two new nuclear reactors to the Alvin W. Vogtle Electric Generating Plant might be derailed because of environmental concerns that the facility’s draw from the Savannah River would increase from 1 percent of the river’s annual flow to 2 percent.

Supporters of what would be the region’s biggest construction project since Vogtle Version 1.0, however, should be more worried about this: Can the power plant’s owners afford the expansion?

By: Damon Cline on February 17, 2008 - 8:10pm - Add new comment

Not long ago, I wrote about my belief that Richmond County’s political engine was starting to fire on all cylinders (the analogy actually involved a transmission ’ s gears shifting, but you get the point).

Despite the county’s dysfunctional coliseum authority – and some minor hand-wringing over whether the Downtown Development Authority should expand its boundaries and whether south Augusta needs a DDA of its own – I still believe the county’s leadership is pretty much all “on the same page.”

The next natural step? Seeking unity beyond the county line.

By: Damon Cline on February 10, 2008 - 9:01pm - Add new comment

Remember when I told you I could predict the future (Scuttlebiz, Dec. 30)?
“The following events will occur somewhere in our metro area during 2008 … A longtime local business, which some residents consider an 'institution,’ will close.”

Well ...

“The owners of Fat Man’s Forest announced they plan to close the well-known store and restaurant on Laney-Walker Boulevard … The business was started in 1948 … and became a retail institution in Augusta.” – The Augusta Chronicle, Feb. 5 .

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