Task force must envision community superheroes

You know, this is becoming a real chronic nuisance. And now instead of a real solution, the option being considered is wadding up more of your money and throwing it away. Monday, an Augusta commission committee meets to talk about funding a Neighborhood Task Force to deal with chronic neighborhood problems.


The task force is a substitute for the chronic nuisance property ordinance pushed by Harrisburg resident Lori Davis , who was motivated to run for mayor because she couldn't get anybody to do anything about the criminals and riff-raff ruining the peace and tranquillity of that neighborhood.

The task force would be made up of a sheriff's deputy, a city marshal and a code enforcement officer, who would deal only with neighborhood issues. Who are these three people going to be, really? Will they be Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne and Diana Prince just waiting for crime to appear so they can fight it as Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman? We've got entire departments fighting this losing battle already. And we're supposed to believe these three hires are the solution?

The estimated first-year startup cost for the superheroes is $226,052, and $154,452 thereafter.

So now the question is: Do commissioners think it's worth $226,052 to shut Davis up?

WHERE DOES ALL THE MONEY GO? Golly, yet another great mystery to solve.

A couple of months ago, a Georgia State Patrol trooper asked commissioners to pay for three radar guns costing $3,000 each, and the board approved the request. Now, the Richmond County School System wants the city to donate five surplus vehicles from the sheriff's office to be used until the system's new ones arrive. Patrick Clayton , the chief of school safety and security, also requested 25 surplus radios to replace those that break down because it will be 2012 before the school system can afford a new radio system.

This makes you wonder why you pay state taxes and why the school board gets more than half of your local taxes.

GOODBYE DYE: After more than 30 years, Jerry Dye is retiring at the end of the year as legal counsel for the Development Authority of Richmond County, and authority members are poised to choose his successor from three local attorneys: Jim Plunkett , Travis Paine and Robert Hagler .

Authority Chairman Terry Elam said if all authority members can come, they will meet Tuesday to make a selection. He said he wants 100 percent participation.

"This is the first time we've ever hired a lawyer," he said. "We want to do it right."

Dye is the only attorney the authority has had since its inception.


THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD: Another thing we have to look forward to this week is a roundtable discussion by Augusta Housing Authority members on how to deal with neighborhood issues and complaints related to the Section 8 housing voucher program. Mayor Pro Tem Alvin Mason called for a joint meeting with the housing authority because of complaints he's received.

FRANK IS FRANKLY TICKED: Richmond County School Board Trustee Frank Dolan threatened to pull out of the race for his District 7 seat last week because of an article in The Augusta Chronicle about his having overlooked paying $220 in taxes and penalties on a boat and $152 in late fees.

Dolan is still livid and blames staff writer Johnny Edwards for reporting the delinquencies after Dolan had hurried down to the tax office and paid them right after being called. He threatened to take out a two-column ad blasting Edwards, who, he said, did a hatchet job on him.

Edwards also reported that state Rep. Wayne Howard had a $1,057 bill on the Howard's Upholstery building, which he paid last week.

Dolan says he's "on the bubble" as far as pulling out of the race, but I don't think he will because he wants to continue working to get the system out from under the 1963 federal desegregation ruling, which he calls "a rain cloud hanging over us."

"If we can remove that, it will attract businesses," he said. "It's not a silver bullet, but it's one little piece of the mosaic to make us more attractive."

Georgia also must start giving businesses and industries tax incentives, as South Carolina and Alabama do, so the state can compete, he said, citing examples of the BMW assembly plant in Spartanburg, S.C., the Bridgestone-Firestone plant outside of Aiken and the Boeing plant in Charleston. S.C.

"Once we get these big businesses here, all of our school problems will go away," he said. "We will have local taxes galore to pour into the schools."

A DEATH WISH: Bill Dekle of Millen, Ga., e-mailed last week to comment on the piece about the Medical College of Gold's CORPUS DELECTI MCG committee, over which Dr. C.A. Daver presided. Dekle said a grand improvement to all government would be a committee headed by Dr. C.A. Daver.

Hear! Hear!

IT'S KINDA LIKE A LOST AND FOUND IN A BORDER TOWN, ASKIN' 'BOUT A DIAMOND RING: Bernard W. Clark of Burke County also e-mailed with an update on the investigation into the disappearance of his wife's diamond ring from a bedroom during the time CSRA EOA Weatherization Program workers were in the Clarks' house.

"CSRA EOA insurance representatives visited us and conducted their investigation of our claim," he wrote. "My wife went through an interrogation fit for an episode on Law & Order . It concluded with the insurance investigator saying he will recommend a cash settlement, but no guarantee of acceptance of his recommendation.

"Per the investigation by the sheriff's department, three of the five are scheduled for polygraph tests 27 August, 2010. No response to my question of why three and not five. Also, no contact from the CSRA EOA attorney since he asked for my telephone number close to 60 days ago."

LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT MY GRANDBABY: Richmond County Clerk of Court Elaine Johnson and her husband, sheriff's office Maj. Gene Johnson, are so happy over the birth of granddaughter Ella Grace Prince they can barely contain themselves. The little princess couldn't wait to see them, either. She arrived six weeks early and weighed 5 pounds, 10 ounces.

"You ought to see her," he said. "She's so pretty. And Elaine's just beaming. She looks like she's got a glow around her."

225 AND COUNTING: This weekend we are celebrating the Augusta Chronicle 's 225th birthday, and some of us are being accused of being here for the first edition. Ha! Ha! Very funny.

Fishing Page Editor Bill Baab said he wasn't here for the first edition in 1785 , but he was here in 1955 . He was hired as a copy boy and later became a sports writer and outdoors writer, working for both The Chronicle and The Herald through the years. Events that stand out in his mind include the closing of the Savannah River in the '70s because of high mercury levels and the big fish kill at Russell Dam in the '90s, and "all those fish stacked up along the river." Another was interviewing Paul Anderson , "The Strongest Man In The World." Anderson would get four 180-190-pound boys to stand on a table, and then he would lift the table. And he would bend iron spikes with his hands, Bill said.

Bill is the author of Augusta on Glass , which documents the history of the brewery that was in Augusta until Prohibition shut it down, and the history of patent medicine.

Happy birthday, Augusta Chronicle !


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