Augusta Commission member Joe Jackson is pushing to name the new Richmond County sheriff’s administration building for retiring Sheriff Ronnie Strength.
“I was going to try to surprise him, and I guess I did,” said Jackson, who placed the request on a commission committee agenda for Monday. “I just think it’s something honorable to do for a guy who’s done so much for this department, taking care of the budget and taking care of the men and women of the sheriff’s office.”
Strength, who led the sheriff’s office through three terms, said Thursday he was surprised to learn of the request.
“It’s never crossed my mind; it has not,” the sheriff said. “It is a surprise to me, but it would be a great honor, if it goes before the commissioners and they see fit to do it.”
Jackson said he expected at least six commissioners to support the request, which is slightly unusual for a sitting elected official. Strength leaves office in January, and Sheriff-elect Richard Roundtree will assume his role in the new building, which opened this year across the street from the old law enforcement center on Walton Way.
“I think it would be a fitting monument,” Jackson said, “because of the timing and what he’s done for the community. He’s always worked very well with the commission. He’s a local guy, and I just thought it would be something special to do.”
Commissioners Jerry Brigham and Wayne Guilfoyle said they support adding Strength’s name to the building.
“I think Ronnie has served this community well,” Guilfoyle said. “I think this would be a good payback for him as far as recognition, and he’s going to be dearly missed.”
Strength also “was instrumental in the design and seeing it built through,” Guilfoyle said.
As with most commission decisions on the naming of bridges, roads, buildings or other institutions, this one might not breeze through.
Commissioner Bill Lockett questioned its timing.
“I think it’s a little premature,” Lockett said. “He hasn’t left office yet. This should be for some other group of commissioners down the road.”
In January, when Roundtree takes office, newcomers Mary Davis, Bill Fennoy and Donnie Smith and former Commissioner Marion Williams will replace incumbents on the board.
“It seems that over the last year or so, we’ve been in such a big hurry to name buildings after individuals without giving it too much thought,” Lockett said. “I don’t have any issues with naming a building after (Strength). I just don’t think it’s the right time.”
Lockett also questioned a recent naming decision for the city’s new Alexander Drive fire station.
“Comments were made that we had no fire-suppression personnel, past or present, that was worthy,” he said.