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Augusta mayor proclamations top 1,100 in nine years

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During his 10-year NFL career, Corey Chavous considers being named captain of the St. Louis Rams, Ari­zona Cardinals and Min­ne­so­ta Vikings his highest honor.

Mayor Deke Copenhaver has signed 867 certificates of mourning. "They mean so much to people," he said.     JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/FILE
JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/FILE
Mayor Deke Copenhaver has signed 867 certificates of mourning. "They mean so much to people," he said.
Wesley Brown
Reporter
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Next in line is a proclamation by the leader of his home community, Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver, touting the Pro Bowl safety’s “selfless efforts in positively impacting the lives” of area youth.

The Aiken native was recognized June 28, 2008, while visiting Augusta’s top football prospects at T.W. Josey High School to lay the necessary “building blocks” for the young athletes to obtain a rewarding future, the framed declaration read.

“It was a tremendous honor,” Chavous said of the proclamation last week. “I was humbled, because I never expected it, and quite honest, I think I was undeserving.”

Chavous’ proclamation is one of 1,167 Copenhaver has issued during his nine years in office.

Though he denied a request to designate a national Scien­tol­ogy day in Augusta – his only rejected proclamation – the Christian mayor declared June 28 as Gay Pride Day in the city earlier this year, sparking some criticism.

Since at least 2008, Copen­haver has consistently declared a day in honor of 911 dispatchers, a week for allied health practitioners and a month for disability awareness, children support services, and Confederate history and heritage.

He has also issued proclamations to celebrate the establishment of the Aquinas High School Key Club and the rise of science, technology, engineering and math programs on the collegiate level in Augusta.

Though the service is technically free and split almost evenly between honoring special people and events in the city, online records show taxpayers still bear some cost.

This year alone, Copen­haver has signed 70 proclamations and 46 certificates of mourning for deceased residents, which together have cost more than $2,250 to frame, according to the city’s online check registry.

The mayor said last week that signing proclamations ranks high on the list of events he can use to celebrate the community, which includes ribbon-cutting ceremonies, monument dedications and offering people keys to the city.

“To be recognized by the mayor’s office, I believe it makes citizens feel more a part of the city and helps create a sense of civic pride in the community,” Copenhaver said.

Though the mayor’s office tracks proclamations only back to 2006 and records for past mayors were not available for comparison, Copen­haver argued that the high volume of proclamations he’s signed does not diminish its impact on the community.

“They mean so much to people,” he said. “More than I ever imagined before I took office.”

For example, Copenhaver has celebrated school anniversaries and city sports championships and honored the Augusta Red Cross, American Legion and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s Freedom Fund.

Among the people he has recognized include George “Al” Turner Jr., who coached Hephzibah High School’s baseball team to its first state championship in 1972; Ed Turner and Number 9, a Beatles tribute band that holds the record for sold-out concerts at the Imperial Theatre; and Bishop Rosa Williams for serving more than 30 years as pastor of Everfaithful Missionary Baptist Church.

“It is a pretty heartwarming display when I walk into a home or business with a proclamation hanging on the wall in honor of a person or event,” he said. “Those memories are probably the ones citizens have most approached me about during my time in office.”

What deserves a proclamation is up to the discretion of the mayor, who asks residents for at least two weeks’ notice and provides a template on the city’s Web site for guiding submissions to executive assistant Natasha McFarley.

“Some people actually think I write every proclamation, but if I had to do that, it would be a bit challenging,” Copen­haver said.

He said people mostly submit requests for him to honor deceased Augusta natives for contributions made to their community, but that he generally honors the death through a certificate of mourning.

As he nears the end of his term in December, Co­pen­ha­ver said he is often asked why he doesn’t proclaim a day in his honor.

“I don’t think that’s appropriate,” he said.

BY THE NUMBERS

Mayor Deke Copenhaver has signed 867 certificates of mourning and 1,167 proclamations during his nine years in office.

YEARPROCLAMATIONSCERTIFICATES*
200616596
200713794
2008146105
2009136107
2010155111
2011129100
2012120103
2013109105
20147046
Total1,167867

*Certificates of Mourning

Source: Augusta Office of the Mayor

Comments (6) Add comment
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Pops
19662
Points
Pops 08/10/14 - 09:35 pm
7
0
Definitely a

pressure packed job.........I hope Davis will be up to such a stressful job...

Butterman
3696
Points
Butterman 08/10/14 - 09:43 pm
5
1
Rasslin
Unpublished

After Deke leaves politics, he ought to consider going into professional rasslin'. Say what you will about Deke but he is a master at self-promotion

raul
6926
Points
raul 08/10/14 - 10:27 pm
7
0
I agree with Deke on this

I agree with Deke on this one. It means a lot to people and doesn't cost a lot of money.

gargoyle
23496
Points
gargoyle 08/10/14 - 10:28 pm
2
1
At first I thought he was

At first I thought he was being groomed for higher public office but his performance at this level may top him out at mid level bureaucrat or foundation president . His attendance and decisions might have been so so but his procuration's have been on par.

Little Lamb
52531
Points
Little Lamb 08/10/14 - 10:51 pm
4
0
Ho Hum

Fluff, fluff, fluff

Riverman1
106707
Points
Riverman1 08/11/14 - 07:02 am
6
0
Good Deal

Hey, nothing wrong with the proclamations. Deke is right that it gives a sense of community.

nocnoc
56926
Points
nocnoc 08/11/14 - 07:09 am
4
0
Can't fault him on this.

BUT
May be as a parting shot to the Commission, he could issue a proclamation expressing sympathy to the Citizens for enduring the 70% that make up the Tax to Spend fringe commission?

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