Crime to be focus of Harrisburg "town hall" meeting

Two of Augusta’s most outspoken activists are joining forces to “take back Harrisburg,” starting with a town hall breakfast meeting Thursday.

Woody Merry, most recently known for his efforts in Hyde Park, is turning his focus to the former mill village after he was contacted by Harrisburg residents, he said Tuesday.

“I got a lot of calls for help from people who live in Harris­burg that are scared,” Merry said.

The neighborhood is now home to the Kroc Center and the new campus of John Milledge Elementary School, but Merry said problems with drugs, violence and prostitution persist, noting the Sept. 26 kidnapping of Ashley Nay and her 2-year-old daughter by a homeless man.

Merry’s efforts were almost immediately endorsed by longtime Harrisburg activist Lori Davis, who welcomed residents and her colleagues to join them for the meeting.

Davis and former commission candidate Butch Palmer, both Harrisburg residents, campaigned years ago for Augusta to adopt a nuisance properties ordinance to address issues in Harrisburg, but a city-drafted ordinance was rejected by a subcommittee.

“We have been in a five-year battle to make this area what we, the residents, want it to be,” Davis said in an e-mail. “We hope with this plan we begin to encourage our commissioners, the Down­town Development Authority and the Richmond County Sher­iff’s Office to get onboard in an all-out effort.”

Thursday’s meeting will involve the Harrisburg-West End Neighborhood Association, Merry’s group CSRA Help, Bible Deliverance Temple and Another Chance Ministries. All interested parties and candidates for office are invited to attend, Merry said.

Organizers will unveil a plan to “take a bite out of crime and take back Harris­burg” that includes free self-defense lessons, neighborhood patrols, law enforcement coordination and surveillance cameras, he said.

The breakfast is free, but any donations will go toward the efforts, Merry said.

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IF YOU GO

WHAT: Emergency Town Hall Breakfast Meeting

WHEN: 7:30 a.m. Thursday

WHERE: Harrisburg Life Center, 1901 Fenwick St.

COST: Free, but donations go to crime-prevention efforts

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