North Augusta City Council gave final approval Monday night to a change in its ordinance regulating public consumption of alcohol, empowering the city administrator to give permission for city-sponsored events such as the Jack-O-Lantern Jubilee to allow it in designated areas.
It also removed a provision that forbade alcohol consumption at sporting events, which would have put a damper on future GreenJackets game in SRP Park.
City Administrator Todd Glover said the jubilee would allow drinking only at its nightly concerts, not during the day or in the areas likely to be visited by families with children.
The vote was 6-1, with Pat Carpenter opposing and Bob Brooks absent. Carpenter said it was “a hard decision” for her, and echoed the sentiments of city resident Frankie Summers, who told council she thought drinking was inappropriate at family-oriented events.
Mayor Bob Pettit opened the meeting by announcing a new policy on citizen comments to council that now requires speakers to fill out a form giving their names, addresses and a one-sentence summary of their concern or position.
Some residents had complained to Pettit that their comments weren’t included in the council’s minutes, and the form was his way of addressing that, he said.
Now, the forms residents fill out will be attached to printed copies of the minutes. Council has always asked speakers to give their names and addresses.
Glover said the forms will keep city staff from having to interpret someone’s statement or its intent and ensure accuracy in recording names and addresses.
The new policy was in effect Monday night, when two residents came forward to speak. Summers spoke twice.
Roy Williams, “a third-generation resident of North Augusta,” filled out a form and rose to defend the “Hamburg Riot” monument in Calhoun Park in front of Lookaway Hall.
“Rather than being monument to racism, it’s exactly the opposite,” he said. “I ask city council to take a slow, researched approach.”
At its last meeting, Sept. 18, freelance journalist Kenton Makin asked council to consider removing the monument because it commemorates the death of the one white person killed in an act of racial violence, and not the seven black people who died – four of whom were executed.
Williams said the violence was deliberately provoked by a radical Reconstruction government that persecuted white South Carolinians for 11 years after the end of the Civil War. Reconstruction ended in 1876, the year the killings happened, but the monument was not erected – by order of the state General Assembly – until 1916.
Pettit assured Williams that there is no plan to remove the monument, at least not yet. The mayor already had announced his intent to form an ad hoc committee to advise city leaders on the monument, and told Williams he would be invited to address that group.
Also, Pettit said, the city has asked for an opinion from the state Attorney General’s Office on whether the monument is covered by the state’s Heritage Act, which forbids making any changes to historical monuments. The office has declined to provide one until a pending lawsuit involving a Greenwood, S.C., monument is resolved. Until North Augusta receives that guidance, nothing is likely to happen.
Reach James Folker at (706) 823-3338 or firstname.lastname@example.org.