The proposal Mayor Deke Copenhaver pitched to GRU President Dr. Ricardo Azziz and his cabinet to restore the historic Sibley and King mills for the expansion of the GRU campus looks good on paper. At least the artist’s rendering does.
Students are rowing on the Augusta Canal while others are bicycling on a paved path beside the canal over which a pedestrian bridge arches gracefully. The red brick mill looks like a castle with turrets, beneath a soaring tower, commonly known as the Confederate States Powder Works chimney, the lone remaining structure of the factory that produced gunpowder for the Confederacy’s military campaign during the Civil War. How un-PC in this day and age when hardly anybody but Civil War re-enactors have a good thing to say about our Southern heritage?
So obviously, it will never do for the most prominent feature to symbolize Rebel resistance. Therefore, if the mills restoration project comes to fruition, the chimney will either have to be demolished or renamed, and because it sits on the banks of the Augusta Canal, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, renaming it or draping a big black cover over it would be the only choices, and the cover would raise too many questions. So renaming it would be the most sensible option.
Blowing More Smoke Up Our Chimney: Just think, Azziz could announce a chimney-naming campaign and a branding committee and pay $45,500 for a local and nationwide survey to come up with a name that he, of course, would ignore. But I have a better idea.
After Sherman’s army had burned the South to the ground during the Civil War, the only things left standing in many areas were chimneys, which became known as “Sherman’s Sentinels”. So naming the chimney on GRU’s main campus Sherman’s Monument would solve that embarrassing Confederate problem, gratify the politically correct crowd and save upwards of $45,000.
They could hold a dedication ceremony like the one the Georgia Historical Society had at the historical marker on Broad Street last December honoring Union Gen. Montgomery Meigs who was instrumental in defeating the Confederacy. Meigs, who lived in Augusta as a young child, hated the Confederacy so much that after the war he ordered the Virginia estate of the South’s leading general, Robert E. Lee, to be turned into a national military cemetery to ensure Lee never returned to his home.
It could be a trend.
The Sons of the Confederacy might not like for the chimney to be named Sherman’s Monument, but their heritage means even less to Azziz, Gov. Nathan Deal and the Georgia Board of Regents than that of the alumni and faculties of the Medical College of Georgia and Augusta State University.
Skirting the Open Meetings Law: The mayor and commissioners went to great pains to keep the Augusta Regional Collaboration Project’s proposal a secret by meeting in twos, threes or fours in order not to violate the law by having a commission quorum present and therefore having to notify the public.
Learning of the meetings and the Collaboration Project’s plan last week, cleared up something that’s puzzled me for months, and that’s the Boy King’s namby-pamby response to Azziz’s deceitful disregard for the Augusta community and the colleges’ alumni and Boy King’s refusal to get on board the “Save the A” campaign.
It wasn’t for lack of backbone after all, It was because he and the Collaboration were collaborating with the other collaborators at the time.
Oh well, as everybody knows, money talks – and you know the rest of it.
No Crack Near the Kroc: I began last Sunday’s column this way: Augusta is a city of incongruities. It’s the Garden City but has a lot of funky smells. It has a Kroc Center close to a crack center. It has Arts in the Heart and the Soul Bar. It’s a city on the move until the trains roll into town.
Saturday, I received this e-mail from lifetime Harrisburg resident and former Augusta Commission District 1 candidate Butch Palmer:
“Sylvia, I am elated to say that Harrisburg is no longer the “crack center.” Sheriff Richard Roundtree started busting drug houses the first week that he was in office! I can honestly say that I DO NOT know of any Harrisburg drug houses. I could NOT say this during the time Ronnie Strength was in office!!!”
Butch is so dramatic.
Times Flies In Prison if You’re Not the Prisoner: Former Republican state Sen. Frank Albert and his wife, Sister, visited former state Rep. Robin Williams in prison in Estill, S.C., two weeks ago, and also saw former state Sen. Charles Walker. Both have lost weight and look good, Albert said.
“They didn’t have a hang-dog look,” he said.
Williams said he gets up at 4 a.m. and walks on the track,” Albert said. “I think he’s going to a work- release program in Atlanta soon. He’s been in there eight years. I asked, ‘What are you going to do when you get out?’ He said, ‘I can sell anything.”
(If you don’t believe it, just ask the five folks he recruited in his plan to loot the Community Mental Health Center. Four of them went to prison too. Make that three. One of them died before he could be incarcerated.)
Williams was in the state Legislature when Albert, who helped get him elected, was in the Senate. The two had a lot of catching up to do, and the visit lasted three-and-a-half hours, Albert said.
“It seemed like 15 minutes.”
Walker was convicted in federal court of conspiracy, mail fraud and filing false tax returns for his charity football event, the CSRA Classic, and was sentenced to 121 months in prison.
I Yam What I Yam!: Augusta Commissioner Marion Williams said he hasn’t changed since his first two terms on the commission and is speaking out publicly now on some of the same things he did them.
“Go back and check the record,” he said.
I never doubted it, and here’s a 10-year-old example from the City Ink archive vault in July 2003:
LOOKING FOR RELIEF: Augusta Commissioner Marion Williams was grilling Recreation Director Tom Beck during a commission committee meeting last week, but Administrator George Kolb felt the heat.
During a long harangue over delays in the Savannah Place gymnasium project, Mr. Williams, the administrator’s constant critic, said he wasn’t blaming Mr. Beck, but the higher-ups.
“That’s people at the top - sit here and let people get away with doing whatever they want to do when they want to do it, to show you you ain’t supposed to have enough sense to know when you’re being bamboozled,” Mr. Williams fumed. “Well, I’ve been bamboozled enough times to know when it’s coming about. You can’t pour water on me and tell me it’s raining. Something’s wrong at the top.”
“Somebody shoot me,” Mr. Kolb muttered as the meeting ended.
Vote for Joe – Again!: Former Augusta Commissioner Joe Bowles is participating in the Dancing Stars of Augusta benefiting the Alzheimer’s Association. The event, based on the popular TV show, pairs 10 local “celebrities” with 10 professional dancers, all raising funds by gaining votes. The dancers then come together to compete in a one-night gala dinner-dance event. Money raised from the gala will be used to fund care and support for families in the Augusta region, as well as Alzheimer’s research.
“Happy Easter, and don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.”