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Votes on 'Patch' lease stall; vote to re-bid ambulance service passes

Vote to re-bid ambulance service passes

Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013 10:54 PM
Last updated Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013 1:36 AM
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Augusta Municipal Golf Course will remain under city management and the city’s ambulance service will be put on notice of the city’s intent to seek competitive bids after a heated commission meeting Tuesday.

Marion Williams abstained on both Patch votes, preventing a tie.
Marion Williams abstained on both Patch votes, preventing a tie.

Two votes on a lease of “The Patch” failed, with Com­missioner Marion Williams, voting last by roll call in alphabetical order, abstaining each time and preventing Mayor Deke Copen­haver from breaking the tie. The votes fell along color lines.

The city-owned course was returned to city management last year after The Patch in Au­gusta LLC abandoned its lease and quit paying staff. A bid by three local brothers fell
apart after the commission refused to pay for course improvements.

Commissioner Alvin Mason said Tuesday’s appearance of a lease agreement with Virginia Beach Golf Management, a firm selected through Augusta’s procurement process, and any perceived urgency to lease the course was “a manufactured crisis” of which he would have no part.

“The track record of those who pushed for this before is not good,” Mason said of the white majority, no longer on the commission, that voted to seek private management at the course. “I will not sit here my last two years with the demographics we have here
now and let that happen. … We’ve got to have the discussion.”

Commissioner Bill Fennoy questioned why the course is expected to turn a profit while the city’s aquatics and tennis facilities are not. Routine annual operating losses were the primary reason cited by commissioners who voted to outsource the course.

Voting in favor of the lease, Commissioner Donnie Smith cited the city’s projected $5.2 million deficit and questioned why a firm “willing to give us a $100,000 check today” was being turned down.

“We are elected to try to be good stewards of the public’s money,” he said.

Also voting in favor, Commis­sioner Mary Davis said she was a golfer who had taken call after call about the course’s “dire need of professional attention.”

Commissioner Corey John­son said he wanted to wait until the city hires a recre­ation director who can “take a look at the contract.”

City Administrator Fred Russell said earlier that he was attempting to finalize negotiations with a candi­date for the vacant post and had a backup candidate ready.

A motion to deny the lease failed 5-4 with Fennoy, Johnson, Mason and Bill Lock­ett voting yes. A motion to approve the lease failed 5-4 with Davis, Wayne Guilfoyle, Joe Jackson, Grady Smith and Donnie Smith voting yes.

A vote to re-bid the city’s ambulance contract passed 9-1, with only Jackson voting no.

Augusta Fire Chief Chris James has been critical of the 2005 contract with Gold Cross EMS, saying it is too vague to be policed, but commissioners insisted
their decision Tuesday was routine and had nothing to do with the company’s service.

“What was needed in 2005 may not necessarily be the things we need in 2014,” Mason said, also discounting a petition from the Richmond Coun­ty Neighborhood Alliance warning against monopolies in the ambulance service.

“If you notice, especially today, I’m not addressing any petition, period,” Mason said.

Representatives of Au­gusta ambulance companies South Star and Capital City were present for the meeting, and a South Star spokesman said the firm likely would bid on the contract.

Gold Cross CEO Vince Brog­don said he was “disappointed, because we’ve done an excellent job” but would have to see what the city’s request for proposals said before making a decision to bid.

“The old saying ‘you get what you pay for’ might come into play,” he said. “We were hoping to be here for years to come.”

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mike1sc 02/06/13 - 04:29 pm
Change the 18th Hole to a Drag Strip

Some people forget why this was put on the docket in the first place, and that is because the city had been consistently losing money on the Patch for years......Marion Williams only ensures that will continue. To think that companies will continue to line up to do business with Richmond County is about as sane as putting a drag strip to replace the 18th hole (or anywhere in Richmond County).

Well, let's see......North Augusta is in the process of taking the Greenjackets, Columbia County has now moved the "Rock for Dough" concert, which is the biggest event Masters Week, out of Richmond County. Of course, none of this has anything to do with the fact that the Augusta Commission cannot get anything done or agree on anything. You Commissioners keep on doing this, and the day will come you won't have anything left to "commission", except maybe the Regency Mall....and its sooooo valuable, huh!

harley_52 02/06/13 - 05:08 pm
Turn The Patch Into A Farm...

...use labor from trustee prisoners and unemployed, able-bodied welfare recipients. Use the produce to feed the prisoners and sell the rest at the Farmers Market.

Drop the notion of a golf course and either do the above, or sell it.

ColCo 02/06/13 - 05:13 pm
Abstentions could prove valuable

I wonder how loudly Marion and his band of merry men will holler when white commissioners use abstentions to stall their agenda? That's when they'll demand a change in the Charter.

corgimom 02/06/13 - 09:01 pm
Nobody mentions that Mary

Nobody mentions that Mary Davis is a woman? Um, hello?

Well, geez, how many MEN do you know that are named Mary? Does the AC have to state the obvious?

That was the funniest thing that I've read all day, is that nobody states that Mary Davis is a woman. Nobody states that Countyman is a male, either, Countyman, but we pretty much figured that out by your name, too.

countyman 02/06/13 - 09:42 pm
The corporate at Starbucks didn't get the sky is falling memo

Two manufacturing facilities over $100 million are both under construction right now, but the sky is always falling in Augusta.

The city of North Augusta will have to spend $43 million in order to 'take' the Greenjackets.

The Rock for Dough concert maybe headed to Columbia County, but the money is still going to the First Tee of Augusta.

The Masters tournament, Par 3 Party, and Mayors Masters Reception are located in Richmond County.

Along with the ESI Ironman, First Friday, Southern Nationals, St Patricks Day parade, gay parade/festival, Market on the River, Arts in the Heart, Westobou, etc...

harley_52 02/06/13 - 10:42 pm
"Along with the ESI Ironman, First Friday,.....

...... Southern Nationals, St Patricks Day parade, gay parade/festival, Market on the River, Arts in the Heart, Westobou, etc..."

I'd like to select one of those and gladly give it to Columbia County, or any other county that would take it.

galaxygrl 02/06/13 - 11:21 pm
Insanity and Leadership

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Albert Einstein

Or Studid is Stupid does.
Can we get some real leaders in the house?
See Leadership below:
The activity of leading a group of people or an organization or the ability to do this.
Leadership involves
(1) establishing a clear vision,
(2) sharing that vision with others so that they will follow willingly,
(3) providing the information, knowledge and methods to realize that vision, and
(4) coordinating and balancing the conflicting interests of all members and stakeholders.

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