Hatney stays on the fence amid complaints on hotel

Augusta Commissioner J.R. Hatney said it was "hard to say no and difficult to say yes" to a zoning request that would allow a two-story Marriott Hotel to be built off Marks Church Road next to the Kingston subdivision. Therefore, he did the only thing a politician can do under such circumstances. He abstained.


Kingston residents don't want a hotel next to them, and came to tell commissioners so at last week's meeting. They're concerned about noise, traffic and people jumping over the fence that would surround the hotel and roaming around in their neighborhood.

Don Cheeks , the spokesman for Curtis Baptist Foundation, which is selling the property, didn't try to hide his impatience with the folks for not seeing that it would be better to have a quality hotel as a neighbor than, say, a sleazy motel or six-story apartment complex.

Besides, he said, "What person is going to pay $125 for a hotel room and jump an 8-foot fence?"

Furthermore, what person could jump an 8-foot fence?

REHEARSING FOR A NEW SEASON: The nominating committee of the Coliseum Authority met Friday to prepare a slate of officers to present to the board at Tuesday's meeting. After a thorough, and I do mean thorough, discussion of the offices along with who might best fill them, and consideration of the need to have racial and gender diversity on the governing board, committee members Janice Jenkins , Mildred McDaniel and Booker T. Roberson proposed Mrs. Jenkins for chairwoman; outgoing Chairman Harry Moore as vice chairman; William Fennoy as secretary and Richard Isdell as treasurer. Nominations will also be taken from the floor.

Member Freddie Sanders was a strong contender for chairman, but he'd previously said he'd agree to be the nominee only if Keith Brown or Mr. Roberson were nominated for vice chairman. That didn't sit well with the nominating committee, especially Mrs. Jenkins, who said the committee shouldn't allow anyone to put such conditions on a nomination. Either they would accept it or not. Mr. Sanders was then consulted by phone by Mr. Roberson, who asked whether he could live with that. He said no.

After the meeting, Mr. Roberson said he's going to work to get Mr. Sanders elected anyway. Mrs. Jenkins said she'll remove her name from nomination.

So, as usual, anything can happen when the full authority meets Tuesday.

COULD FREDDIE DO WHAT LAWMAKERS WOULDN'T? Mr. Sanders said when folks started talking about doing away with the authority this year, his old buddies said it was his fault because once he gets involved in anything, it's soon gone.

When he was with the Richmond County Sheriff's Department in the 1970s, the county commission did away with the sheriff's department and created the Richmond County Police Department and appointed him chief.

"Then they did away with the police department, and I came to the oldest law firm in the Southeast, Nixon, Yow, Waller & Capers, and we were representing the city of Augusta, and they did away with the city," he said. "Then the law firm split into two firms. So once I got on the coliseum authority, they said they were going to do away with it. And they almost did. I don't know how we dodged the bullet."

We do. The answer is in the question one Richmond County lawmaker asked after seeing an amended coliseum authority bill that gave all appointment power to Augusta commissioners and the mayor: "What's in it for me?"

WHAT'S IN A NAME? Dave Barbee , who went to war with the city over a letter chastising him for improperly cutting his crape myrtles this spring, has been dubbed "Summerville Fats" by one blogger. Though Mr. Barbee said he doesn't mind at all, his wife, Debbie, does. She thinks it's not only awful but also discriminatory.

As the chairman of the Richmond County Republican Party and now 10th District party chairman, Mr. Barbee said he's been called worse. For example, he said, at one forum, Paine College Professor Mallory Millender called him the devil, pointed to him and said, "This man represents evil."

Mr. Millender denied the allegations.

"I've been called everything under the sun," Mr. Barbee said.

But he's never been called a "Peckerwood Constable," as Mr. Sanders has. Phil Kent , a former editorial page editor for The Augusta Chronicle, gave him the name 23 years ago when he refused to release some information to the newspaper, Mr. Sanders said.

"At the time, everybody said, 'Don't worry. Everybody will forget about that in no time.' " Mr. Sanders said. "But not long ago, I walked into a room and somebody said, 'Here comes the Peckerwood Constable.' "

DON'T THEY AT LEAST DESERVE A POP TART? The latest contract between the Richmond County school board and James Brown Arena for graduation this spring included $1,162.50 for catering a private room for board members during the two days of ceremonies, prompting Helen Minchew to ask, "Can't we just eat our breakfast at home?"

And afternoon snacks?

They can pack their own snacks from home as well, she said. At her urging, the board cut the catering to a bare minimum.

RIVALING THE GOAT MAN: Last week's column about cookbooks drew almost as much response as the Goat Man.

Pete McCommons , the editor of Flagpole magazine in Athens, was most complimentary. Tom Plowden called to talk about the late Hyta Plowden Mederer , with whom he shared common ancestry. Mention of Mederer's nephew Keller Wilcox , who will soon be released from prison after 25 years for the 1972 murder of Hellen Griffin Hanks , prompted Jim Hall , of Martinez, to recall an old Augusta murder case.

"There was a young girl who was murdered and thrown in the Augusta Canal in the 1950s. The case and trial of a 'simple-minded man' made national news. My 'senior moment' faintly remembers a name, Lois Janes?"

Marsha Hughes , of Thomson, e-mailed to recommend a new cookbook she calls the most entertaining she's read in many years -- Food to Die For , a book of funeral food, tips and tales.

"The book is from the Old City Cemetery, Lynchburg, Va., and compiled by Jessica Ward," Mrs. Hughes wrote. "She did a fabulous job. It was the 2005 National Winner of the Tabasco Community Cookbook Awards. You can obtain a copy at www.gravegarden.org should it pique your interest."

And Harold Lewis called to say that his grandson Jonathan Newman is marrying Bea Massengale's granddaughter Julie Massengale this month. Mrs. Massengale's recipe for devil's-food cake with seafoam icing was submitted to Georgia Treasures by Mrs. Thomas Maxwell Blanchard .

Mr. Lewis and I agreed, it's a small world.

Marianne and Charles Gay , of Blythe, sent me a copy of Sunday Dinner Favorites ... from our Church Family to Yours!, the cookbook produced by the Bath Presbyterian Church in Blythe. It was delivered by their son Chris Gay , a sportswriter here at The Chronicle . That made it special.

Suzanne Bennett e-mailed to say, "What a delightful piece!! I shared it with some Athens folks, two of whom had their mothers singled out -- daughters of Mrs. Segrest and Mrs. DuBose. ... I received the following from Barbara Dooley ; I'm sure she wanted it directed to you."


"I will never forget that. How rude I was -- so glad that you can laugh about it. I look back on some of the things that I said and did and can't believe it. ... I think trying spumoni one more time might be a great idea, on second thought, who cooks anymore, anyway? Memories are so much fun, especially when we have enough friends still alive that we can share them with."

Ms. Dooley was not rude. She made us laugh. She was a heroine. She saved us from spumoni.

City Ink thanks Staff Writer Greg Gelpi for his contribution to this week's column.



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