City Hall was closed for Thanksgiving and nothing much was cooking around Augusta but turkey and dressing. So it was time to stir the pot with a few calls to some of the elected officials to ask how they’ve spent Thanksgiving and what they’re most thankful for besides health, home and family.
Our mayor, the Boy King Deke Copenhaver, said he’s very thankful for constant words of encouragement.
“Whether it’s at the Y while I’m working out in the morning, at speaking engagements I do throughout the city on a regular basis, at the 15th Street Kroger when I’m picking up dog food on my way home from work or calls, letters and e-mails, not a day goes by when someone doesn’t reach out to me to let me know that they appreciate the job I’m doing,” he said.
“I’m also incredibly thankful for the wonderful connection I have with the younger generation of Augustans. Through speaking in schools every chance I get to encourage and support the youth of our city and to stress to them how crucial it is for them to get a good education as they are Augusta’s future leaders, I’m always encouraged that kids throughout the community know who the mayor is when I didn’t when I was their age,” Copenhaver said.
ME TOO: City Administrator Fred Russell, who’s received a heaping helping of vilification recently, is likewise thankful for encouraging words.
“I’m thankful for the overwhelming support from numerous people who really do count: the citizens on the street,” he said. “They tell me they appreciate the job I’m doing and appreciate that I’m willing to work through all the issues we have.”
(Translation: We feel sorry for you because of all the crap you have to take from those commissioners.)
FEASTING, PRAYING AND MOURNING: Commissioner Jerry Brigham said his wife, Debra, had a “fantastic spread” Thanksgiving Day.
“She had everything under the sun,” he said. “Turkey and dressing, giblet gravy, carrot soufflé, butter beans, creamed corn, congealed salad, cranberry salad, green-bean casserole and pecan pie.”
Brigham is thankful Commissioners Bill Lockett, Alvin Mason and J.R. Hatney walked out of the last commission meeting because those left got the meeting over with quicker and got the 2012 budget passed without a lot of debate.
“I’m thankful we have six votes on the commission and can get most things done,” he said.
Debra Brigham is thankful he can’t run for another term.
Commissioner Joe Jackson’s family came up from Orlando; he fried four turkeys; and they “cooked and ate and cooked and ate” and went to the firing range and fired guns and had bonfires in his backyard.
“I’m thankful we have a commission that’s trying to move Augusta forward with no hidden agendas,” he said.
State Sen. Hardie Davis, pastor of Abundant Life Worship Center on Brown Road, said Wednesday night was one of thanksgiving when folks came up and gave testimony about what they were thankful for.
“I am certainly thankful for my family and all those good things, and I’m also thankful for the opportunity to serve the people of Augusta and the great state of Georgia,” he said.
Commissioner J.R. Hatney, pastor of Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church, and Mark Pearson, pastor of Bethel CME Church held a joint Thanksgiving service last Sunday. Hatney said he’s thankful for good health.
“I’ve been struggling the last 10 months,” he said. “I’m feeling better now.”
He also said there have been seven deaths in his family in nine days, the youngest being 53 years old, the oldest, 99.
THANKFUL TO BE AN AMERICAN AND TURKEY FREE: Commissioner Grady Smith is thankful for simple things people take for granted, such as living in a country where you can speak your mind.
“In other countries, if you say the wrong thing in the wrong place, you could disappear for five years,” he said.
Richmond County Sheriff Ronnie Strength said traditionally he goes deer hunting Thanksgiving morning and then he and his wife, Patti, cook steak and crab legs.
“I’m not big on turkey and dressing,” he said.
In addition to family and health, Strength said. “I’m definitely thankful for the troops that protect this country. They weren’t home for Thanksgiving.”
THANKFUL TO BE A COMMISSIONER: Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle said he’s thankful to be a part of the city with the colleagues he has to work with.
“I’m also thankful Judge (David) Roper dismissed the black ministers’ lawsuit against the city, and maybe now we can move forward together.”
Commissioner Matt Aitken said he’s thankful for the progress District 1 has made in the past few years and thankful for those who gave him a chance to lead.
Currently, he’s mounting an effort to help the waitress and cook at Whistle Stop Café on Greene Street who were put out of work when someone firebombed the café Thanksgiving night. If you want to help, call him at (706) 564-6281.
TWO THANKSGIVING FIRSTS: Commissioner Joe Bowles took his 9-year-old daughter deer hunting Wednesday and she killed her first deer. And he’s thankful for a week without politics.
“I’m thankful I didn’t have to go to the commission building for a week and deal with the nonsense,” he said.
State Rep. Quincy Murphy said for the first time in 31 years, he experienced not having one of his children home at Thanksgiving.
“That was an emotional time,” he said.
But the arrival of his son and daughter right after Thanksgiving cheered him up.
“I thank God for giving us the ability to recover from sad times and look forward to the future,” he said.
THANKFUL FOR NATURE’S BEAUTY: State Rep. Barbara Sims said she’s thankful to be able to go to her place at the beach and enjoy her time, reflect and look at the “gorgeous ocean.”
THANKFUL TO BE ALIVE: Augusta State University Athletic Director Clint Bryant said he’s most thankful for life.
“When you start getting older, you start getting more appreciative of being alive,” he said. “It seems like every week, I’m losing friends and people I know. The next thing I’m thankful for is being in the same job for 24 years. In my profession, intercollegiate athletics, I don’t know how many people are in their jobs that many years.”
ERNIE AND I: Are thankful he’s recuperating from open-heart surgery and for the wonderful doctors and nurses at Georgia Health Sciences University/MCG. We had a quiet Thanksgiving at home. It was still a lot of work to cook up the traditional fare for even two people. Chopping, peeling, sautéing, making cornbread, candying yams, baking, and trying not to cook the turkey breast so long it’s as tough as a boot. I’m not complaining. I do like to cook, but when I dried the last pot around 4 p.m., I heaved a big sigh and said, “I have just one word about Thanksgiving for next year: Ryan’s.”
He didn’t say anything.
“Well, the yeast rolls are good,” I said.