Company apologizes, takes care of gang graffiti

Experts agree that it is important to remove gang-related graffiti quickly.

Every once in a while it's good to find out that some large companies can be big enough to admit their mistakes.


That's exactly what Jefferson Energy Cooperative did recently.

In a May 10 column, I wrote of my difficulty as a concerned south Richmond County resident in getting the company to respond to a report I made about gang graffiti painted on two switch boxes on Willis Foreman Road. It took Jefferson nearly two months and three phone calls before it got around to removing the graffiti.

I had become sensitized to the issue from stories I've done on gangs and knew experts on the topic believe it imperative to get such graffiti removed as soon as possible. After I identified myself as an Augusta Chronicle reporter, I questioned a company representative about Jefferson's lack of response and its policy in handling this sort of thing. Shortly thereafter, a company technician was dispatched and a crew painted over the graffiti.

The company sent me a letter May 12 apologizing for its handling of the situation.

In her letter, company service manager Virginia Rushing wrote: "After reading your article, I immediately researched the entire situation with all the employees involved, beginning with your initial contact with our Call Center to the completion of the field work by our line services technicians.

"I certainly agree that the situation was not handled appropriately or with the highest level of customer services that JEC consistently strives to provide to our members and our community in general. Your frustration was certainly well-founded."

I talked to Jefferson's director of public relations, Steve Chalker, on Wednesday, and he reiterated that the company had come up short on this one.

"We always try to make sure that our members are taken care of ... but, unfortunately, sometimes things fall between the cracks," he said.

Most people can understand that, and I accept the company's apology.

By the way, Norfolk Southern finally did remove some graffiti on a shed at a railroad crossing on Willis Foreman. It took them a couple of weeks and two phone calls, but they painted over it Thursday.

Thanks, Norfolk Southern.