Government briefs



Commission votes to deny X-Mart license

Augusta commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to uphold their License Department's denial of an adult entertainment license for Augusta Video Inc., the owner of X-Mart.

Augusta Video's attorney Gary Edinger said he expects to be back in federal court in a few days to challenge the vote.

"I do expect Augusta Video will be open eventually, and I do expect the city will pay a very large damage judgment," Mr. Edinger said.

In September, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that Augusta Video was entitled to grandfather status as far as zoning requirements at X-Mart's location, Molly Pond Road at Gordon Highway, but still must obtain a business license and an adult-entertainment license.

Attorney Jim Wall, who has been representing the city in the X-Mart issue since 2002, said Mr. Edinger chooses to ignore what the 11th Circuit court said, and that is that X-Mart must meet the requirements of the current adult-entertainment ordinance.

Mr. Edinger said Mr. Wall is "embarrassingly wrong" and Augusta Video can prove damages of between $4 million and $6 million, plus attorney fees and other costs that taxpayers will pay because the city has illegally kept them from doing business. A large crowd opposing the store demonstrated outside the Municipal Building and packed commission chambers Tuesday.

Historic Augusta seeks restorations

Historic Augusta is searching for the most beautiful restored pieces of architecture in Augusta.

The organization is seeking nominations for the fall 2008 Historic Augusta Preservation Awards.

Properties must be on or eligible for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places, either individually or as part of a historic district, and the project must have been completed within the past two years.

For more information, to check National Register status or nominate a property, contact Julia Jackson at (706) 724-0436, or P.O. Box 37, Augusta, GA 30903.


Public transportation fares will increase

Many Columbia County residents who use the county's public transportation system soon will pay more for the service.

Commissioners approved a resolution that will raise public transportation fares 50 cents for all passengers except those 12 and younger. Passengers 60 and older will pay $3, and those between ages 12 and 60 will pay $4.50. Children younger than 12 are charged $1.

The rate increase will take effect July 1.

The transit system provides service for about 30 passengers each weekday. It primarily caters to elderly patrons.

The service carries passengers as far into Richmond County as the north side of Gordon Highway. Appointments for a ride must be made at least a day in advance by calling (706) 556-0807.

The fare increase will bring in about $3,200 more each year to the public transit department.


Black officials to talk gang violence, crime

SAVANNAH --- Gang violence and crime will be a hot topic at a meeting of black elected officials in Savannah this week.

About 1,000 people are expected to gather starting Thursday for the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials meeting at Savannah State University.

Earlier this year, the organization declared a "state of emergency" in Georgia to focus extra attention on black-on-black crime.

The convention is holding a youth summit during the meeting in hopes of encouraging Georgia teens to stay away from violent behavior.

-- From staff and wire reports