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Copenhaver looks at legacy in last city address

Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014 9:22 PM
Last updated Friday, Jan. 31, 2014 1:50 PM
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Making his final “State of the City” address Thursday, Mayor Deke Copenhaver outlined a legacy of creating jobs, building buildings, uniting the community and having an occasional regret.

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Mayor Deke Copenhaver delivers his State of the City address at a meeting of the Augusta Exchange Club. He said the impending arrival of the Army's Cyber Command means many eyes are on Augusta.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Mayor Deke Copenhaver delivers his State of the City address at a meeting of the Augusta Exchange Club. He said the impending arrival of the Army's Cyber Command means many eyes are on Augusta.

Copenhaver, giving the speech at a meeting of the Augusta Exchange Club, is completing his second full term and is ineligible to run again this year. He has no immediate plans to seek another elected office, he said.

“I get so frustrated because it’s so hyper-partisan now,” he said. “I’m somebody that focuses on the common ground, and to go any further would drive me crazy.”

Copenhaver said his greatest accomplishments were uniting the community in prayer, recently holding his “98th straight” prayer breakfast, and constructing, with the help of former Administrator Fred Russell, a new library, convention center, sheriff’s administration building and courthouse.

“Elected officials get bogged down in petty issues, but if you just focus on building things, that helps our city in the long run,” said Copenhaver, repeating words of advice he received years ago from Charleston, S.C., Mayor Joe Riley.

Russell, a guest of former mayor’s administrative assistant Karyn Nixon, was fired by the commission last month but is now one of five candidates seeking the mayor’s seat.

Asked whether he had any regrets by congressional candidate and Exchange Club member Rick Allen, Copenhaver lamented Augusta’s loss of the Augusta GreenJackets stadium to North Augusta. The mayor started a push seven years ago to build the minor-league baseball team a new stadium, but it never gained favor with city taxpayers.

“I thought with the baseball stadium, that people would get that it wasn’t such a hot-button issue,” he said. North Augusta “got to a point in six months that we couldn’t get to in six years.”

Copenhaver also spoke about:

• Jobs associated with the arrival of the Army Cyber Command: “I don’t think people fully comprehend how big that is,” he said, with about “1,500 moving to the area to work on the fort in the next year alone.” With each Army job come as many as “five defense contractor jobs off post.”

• Handling growth from the Cyber Command: “That growth is going to have to be managed. My hope is that particularly during the mayor’s race, that is a question that is asked of all the mayoral candidates.”

• Behaving better as the Cyber Command arrives: “As a community, we are under a microscope every day from Washington. The head of Cyber Command gets a briefing of what’s going on in Au­gusta every single morning.”

• A $721 million wish list of projects for the next round of the special purpose local option sales tax: “I believe that we can whittle that down to $190 million,” Copenhaver said. Any more, “and the success rate gets significantly lower.”

• Including $8 million in the sales tax package for Georgia Regents University’s new cancer research center: “The overall impact of that cancer center on our area cannot be understated … When you talk about ROI (return on investment), that is huge.”

• The city’s Mills Campus proposal for GRU: “The university is fully on board. They’ve worked with the city every step of the way.” GRU has promised to put all new facilities in the “city center,” he said. “That is a huge win for downtown.”

• The long-dead Regency Mall: “The owners are asking $50 million for a property that’s worth $5 million. I’m hopeful that with the Cyber Com­mand coming you’re going to see a lot of redevelopment along Gordon High­way … Jimmie Dyess Park­way is just going to explode.” Regency Mall “will be up to the next mayor, more than likely.”

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countyman
19115
Points
countyman 01/31/14 - 02:38 am
5
11
Deke

Thank you for all the growth and new jobs!!! The best mayor in the state of Georgia by far..

justthefacts
20327
Points
justthefacts 01/31/14 - 07:52 am
7
0
Wonder

I wonder if when Deke leaves that is the last we will hear from Countyman?

seenitB4
81170
Points
seenitB4 01/31/14 - 08:00 am
2
3
The pics are interesting

Don't we know that Cedric Johnson from somewhere?? Politics?

seenitB4
81170
Points
seenitB4 01/31/14 - 08:02 am
4
3
Cyber Command

I think Columbia county will have to adjust to the new growth....schools--roads & such.

Riverman1
79223
Points
Riverman1 01/31/14 - 09:25 am
9
3
Beach Music

The incident that best represents the administration of Deke Copenhaver was the Cherry Tree Crossing riot. It was the most dangerous time in Augusta in 30 years.

When the Chronicle desperately attempted to contact the Mayor for days they were told he was at his house at the beach in SC with his phone turned off. It was a critical time when leadership was needed to calm matters down. Thank goodness for the leadership Sheriff Ronnie Strength displayed. “He’s at the beach,” became a metaphor for Deke and his lack of leadership when anything controversial arose.

Riverman1
79223
Points
Riverman1 01/31/14 - 09:25 am
4
1
Appears Deke is Supporting Russell

It appears Deke is supporting Fred Russell. At the Sheriff's Gala, he also noted Russell in the audience.

soapy_725
43553
Points
soapy_725 01/31/14 - 10:00 am
0
0
Deke will be remembered by the asphalt&concrete vendors.
Unpublished

Deke will be remembered by the asphalt&concrete vendors.

soapy_725
43553
Points
soapy_725 01/31/14 - 10:01 am
0
0
A legacy of misappropriated taxpayer money. Shame on DEKE.
Unpublished

A legacy of misappropriated taxpayer money. Shame on DEKE.

soapy_725
43553
Points
soapy_725 01/31/14 - 10:02 am
0
0
Deke Copenhaver-Boardman. Off to Washington DC. Yes. Yes.
Unpublished

Deke Copenhaver-Boardman. Off to Washington DC. Yes. Yes.

GnipGnop
11464
Points
GnipGnop 01/31/14 - 11:09 am
5
1
Stuffed shirt do nothing figurehead...

I wish I could say good things about him but he is a spineless politician that eithe leaves town or asks a lawyer what he should do at the first sign of trouble....best mayor in Ga? You might want to get out more often,,,,the fact that he will support Russell and Deal shows him for what he is...a puppet

countyman
19115
Points
countyman 01/31/14 - 11:24 am
1
7
Mills Campus

I remember when the nasayers constantly told me Dr. Azziz wasn't interested in the Mills Campus..

When did the mayor put his support behind Russell? There was no riot in Cherry Tree, and it wasn't the most dangerous time in 30 years..

Does anybody really believe the residents in RC were afraid of the incident in Cherry Tree? They watch the incident on TV just like the Columbia County residents..

How does a place with 300 families make it dangerous for the entire county? The people that were upset with the police didn't involve everybody in the housing complex..

raul
4121
Points
raul 01/31/14 - 12:51 pm
3
0
@countyman. Are you old

@countyman. Are you old enough to remember the riots of 1970? Riots are like wildfire, spread rapidly and start with just a spark. Cherry Tree Crossing could have gone just like that.

countyman
19115
Points
countyman 01/31/14 - 01:16 pm
1
6
Different time in history!!

When did the people in Cherry Tree riot??

The 1970 riot involved hundreds of people that were upset with the general conditions of the city..

The city of Augusta is still behind the times, but the sheriff and superintendent are black men..

triscuit
2839
Points
triscuit 01/31/14 - 01:18 pm
2
1
When did the GRU folks "come

When did the GRU folks "come on board" with the Mills project? Of course Deke will support Russell...all his Country Club cronies are...

countyman
19115
Points
countyman 01/31/14 - 02:21 pm
1
5
Mills Campus

They've been on board ever since adding the Mills Campus to the new master plan..

Please don't let the people who bash Augusta daily on here, and portray their opinions as facts influence your thinking..

just an opinion
2351
Points
just an opinion 01/31/14 - 02:42 pm
2
0
"That riot" will happen one day

It will be sparked by an event like that or simply a prolonged power outage. They will loot and burn the city. Mark my word, it will happen to some degree in the future.

Riverman1
79223
Points
Riverman1 01/31/14 - 03:03 pm
3
1
Cherry Tree Riots And Absent Deke

http://chronicle.augusta.com/stories/2008/12/15/met_504064.shtml
"Shooting Spreads Chaos
People hurled rocks and bottles at Richmond County sheriff's deputies Sunday after word spread that police had shot a fleeing suspect near the Cherry Tree Crossing housing project off 15th Street. Many in the loud, angry crowd of perhaps 200 people said the suspect had been killed, but a Richmond County coroner said at 11:30 p.m. that his office had not been notified."

http://chronicle.augusta.com/content/blog-post/johnny-edwards/2008-12-16...
From former reporter Johnny Edwards: “While helping cover the civil unrest Sunday at Cherry Tree Crossing housing project, I thought I should position myself amid the crowd of people yelling at deputies and hurling rocks and bottles at patrol cars...I can’t stop thinking of how easily that foray could have turned out much, much worse. People were drinking. And as we found out a little later when shots rang out from within the housing project, people had guns too.”

http://chronicle.augusta.com/content/blog-post/johnny-edwards/2008-12-26...
They had no permit and they hadn’t notified the city in advance. They marched carrying shotguns and assault rifles, alarming Cherry Tree Crossing residents and raising the ire of Richmond County Sheriff Ronnie Strength.

http://chronicle.augusta.com/news/crime-courts/2012-03-17/richmond-count...
“The shooting of Justin Leonard Elmore, a 23-year-old in Cherry Tree Crossing in December 2008, created a volatile situation. As news of the shooting at the public housing complex spread, rocks and bottles were thrown at deputies, fires were set in trash bins, and extra deputies were called in for security. Strength reached out to community leaders to help calm things down but also made sure to have a clear show of force to prevent a riot.”

Notice that last sentence. This is while Deke was at the beach with his phone turned off. The unrest went on for over a week. When police cars entered the area they were fired on.

Riverman1
79223
Points
Riverman1 01/31/14 - 02:59 pm
5
1
Very Interesting

It's very interesting that no one reliable tries to explain Deke's absence during that critical time. The Chronicle reported they were unable to reach him and he later explained his unavailability as being at the beach with his phone turned off. Some legacy alright.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 01/31/14 - 04:34 pm
2
1
I think it was as bad as it

I think it was as bad as it sounds. Downplay if you want to but shots fired and a crowd of 200 doesn't sound harmless....far from it.

GnipGnop
11464
Points
GnipGnop 01/31/14 - 05:52 pm
3
1
Depends on your definition of riot

I am sure Deke's little buddy will be on here shortly to tell you how the chronicle made that all up and never mentioned something that happened on Columbia County. Deke has done nothing for the city he is a figurehead that draws a enormous salary for nothing. If he worked as hard for the tax payers as he did for his buddy Cal he might be one of the top mayors of the last 4 years

countyman
19115
Points
countyman 01/31/14 - 06:12 pm
1
6
Augusta will truly miss Deke!!!

The overwhelmingly majority of the people who criticize the mayor don't even live in Richmond County.. Can some explain why?

They love to criticize Deke, but 30,000 residents from Columbia County have to commute into Richmond County daily. The mayor of Augusta is the person responsible for helping bring ADP, Starbucks, Rockwood, ESI, Rural Sourcing, T-Mobile, Bennett International, etc to Richmond County..

What jobs are Ron Cross bringing to Columbia County?

The 200 people were residents of Cherry Tree, and they had nowhere else to go during the incident.. Did you expect for everybody to stay inside when the area had become full of cops outside? Where in the article did say all of those 200 people were rioting? The article didn't even mention the word 'rioting', because it was only a few people throwing bottles and rocks....

Do you really want to compare Ron Cross versus Deke? Ron Cross would be afraid of the people in the lower income neighborhoods, and we don't even need to mention the public housing projects.. He could barely handle the Magnolia Trace controversy back in 2011..

Riverman1
79223
Points
Riverman1 01/31/14 - 08:07 pm
3
0
Surely Deke can find somebody

Surely Deke can find somebody erudite to speak up for him. That was one of the most embarrassing episodes in local government when the media was looking for the Mayor to get him to say something to calm the situation down and he was nowhere to be found. The Chronicle reported later that he said he had been at the beach with his phone turned off.

Riverman1
79223
Points
Riverman1 01/31/14 - 08:21 pm
3
1
Lots of Conjecture

Countyman said, "Ron Cross would be afraid of the people in the lower income neighborhoods, and we don't even need to mention the public housing projects.. He could barely handle the Magnolia Trace controversy back in 2011."

Lots of conjecture there. As far as Magnolia Trace, Cross chaired the Commission meeting where the matter was addressed by many residents. I was there and anyone was allowed to speak. Everyone was treated courteously and they responded like ladies and gentlemen.

GnipGnop
11464
Points
GnipGnop 01/31/14 - 08:26 pm
3
1
you kind of answered your own question...

They love to criticize Deke, but 30,000 residents from Columbia County have to commute into Richmond County daily. ...because they work in RC but are smart enough not to live in a town that screws it citizens at the drop of a hat and pays millions to consultants for studies they don't use and let's not even bring the DDA into this...a shadow government if I ever saw one...

Gage Creed
15660
Points
Gage Creed 01/31/14 - 08:56 pm
6
1
FACTS are pesky things!

With the Bromance of countyman and Deke clearly evident, most would wager that a honeymoon shanty will soon be built in the mythical kingdom of North Richmond. Ceremonies will have many magical creatures attending. I can see Deke as Shrek and countyman as Donkey. Now when I read countyman's posts, the voice in my head sounds like Eddie Murphy...

InvestedInAugusta
32
Points
InvestedInAugusta 01/31/14 - 11:01 pm
2
0
The Russells' skeletons
Unpublished

Are Freddie and his wife ready to release the little blond skeleton. Major Scandal. Stay tuned more to come....

Pops
6824
Points
Pops 01/31/14 - 10:26 pm
1
0
Some people that comment on here

are young and misguided folks who didn't grow up here and didn't experience events here that shaped the current situation that exists. Wonder who THAT might be......he has the right to comment and express his opinions just like the rest of us however.....

InvestedInAugusta
32
Points
InvestedInAugusta 01/31/14 - 10:42 pm
2
0
Freddie and his wife...
Unpublished

like this little blonde who has done professional and private business with the city....I can hardly wait to expose this....

Conservative Man
5295
Points
Conservative Man 02/01/14 - 11:43 am
0
0
As a Mayor, Deke…was

…incredibly…okay..

A cheerleader and not much else..

With the current political climate in RC we need a leader NOT just a cheerleader…

But If these same "behind the scenes" types are putting their faith and money into backing Freddie…this town is toast.

If what the previous "poster" mentioned is true, this particular problem may take care of itself…What say you?

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