Sylvia Cooper

City Ink columnist and correspondent for The Augusta Chronicle.

Report refutes Chicken Little; dam not falling

  • Follow City Ink

Former Augusta Commissioner Andy Cheek , who has been compared to Chicken Little, came before the commission a while back and said, "The dam is falling! The dam is falling!"

So, not wanting to take any chance that Cheek might be right, Commissioner Joe Bowles got the ball rolling to have dam experts come in and take a look.

And those experts said the dam was OK.

In fact, it hasn't changed since it was inspected in 2005, and the hole Cheek is so concerned about has been there for 30 years.

One significant thing the inspectors did note, though, was that the mortar on the Georgia side of the river has held up better than the mortar on the South Carolina side. I guess that gives us here on the Georgia side something to brag about.

Jorge Jiminez , the president of ZEL Engineering, the city's water consultant, said the hole in the dam will be repaired at the same time a new fish ladder is put in to let shad swim upriver, which will be after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approves the license.

What the shad will do until then is anybody's guess. Probably the same thing they've done since 1886, which is when the fish ladder on the Carolina side of the river was built. It was designed by the Chief of Fisheries of the United States, but it never passed any fish, at least that's what Jiminez said. How he knows that is also anybody's guess.

DAM EXPERTS AT WORK: Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver and commissioners had fun talking about the dam experts. As Assistant Utilities Director Drew Goins was introducing Jiminez, the mayor said, "I guess the question here is can we trust those dam experts?"

After Jiminez's presentation, Bowles made a motion to receive it as information, and the mayor said, "We have a dam motion and a second to the dam motion. Is there any discussion?"

"Have the dam vote," Commissioner Don Grantham said.

TASKING A TASK FORCE: Commissioner Bowles made a motion last week that would have put the proposed Special Neighborhood Task Force on the back burner, but it has become too big an issue in the District 4 commission race for Mayor Pro Tem Alvin Mason and his challenger, Sammie Sias , to let it lie.

So last week's meeting turned into a dog and pony show with Sias speaking in favor of the task force in the public comment part of the meeting. Backing him up in the audience were residents and members of the Augusta Neighborhood Alliance, over which Sias previously presided.

Not to be outdone, Mason came out strong to let the folks know where he stood. "We're not asking you," he said. "We're telling you that's what needs to happen, so that we can do what we need to do to see if this task force will work."

Then he "tasked" the sheriff, the marshal and License and Inspections Director Rob Sherman to provide an officer to serve on the task force for 90 days, which seemed kind of silly because the sheriff and marshal weren't even there.

Anyway, Mason is pretty savvy, and he certainly knows commissioners can't task Sheriff Ronnie Strength or Marshal Steve Smith -- both elected officials -- to do anything. Therefore, because both of them say they don't have an officer to spare and don't think a task force will work, there won't be one. And after the election, it won't matter anyway.

A LONG SHOT: Agriculture Commission candidate J.B. Powell said Georgia could add as many as 20,000 jobs and an economic impact of $1 billion by legalizing horse race betting. He said that is just one of five proposals he has for boosting the state's income through agriculture.

We wonder how many of those new jobs will be bookies and how many are going to be shoveling manure.

Two of his other proposals are exporting more agricultural products and increasing locally grown and organic foods, which will be a good place to put the manure from the horses.

WHERE AM I? Former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes , running for his old job as the Democratic nominee, toured the Medical College of Georgia Cancer Research Center recently.

Funding for the center began under Barnes' administration and he had not been in it since it was completed. Asked about the future of MCG in Augusta in light of a branch campus of MCG School of Medicine opening in Athens, Barnes gave some reassurance.

Or thought he did.

"The Medical College of Georgia has historically been in Athens, Ga., and it is going to stay in Athens, Ga.," Barnes said. "I meant Augusta. The Medical College of Georgia has historically been in Augusta, Ga. And that is where it is going to stay."

To his credit, he did later correctly quote the date it was chartered as 1828.

LOCAL POLITICS IS ALL: Also on Barnes' Augusta itinerary was a luncheon at the Pinnacle Club attended by some staunch Republicans, including developers Clay Boardman , Bert Storey , Jim Hull and Pete Caye , banker Richard Fairey and attorney Jack Long . Democrats included attorney Sam Nicholson , Jimmy Drew , the owner of Drew Expositions, and Sheriff Strength.

Barnes claims to have strong support from Republicans throughout the state, and many in Augusta will vote for him because of the short shrift they believe the area has received during the reign of Gov. Sonny Perdue .

In addition to pledging that any decision about the growth of MCG will be made at MCG, Barnes has said he would appoint someone from Augusta to the Georgia Board of Regents. That representation has been sorely missed the past eight years.

And for the record, Barnes' Republican opponent, Nathan Deal , has said basically the same thing.

SOMETIMES I WISH I WERE A LIBERTARIAN: Barnes and Deal started slinging mud early in the race for governor, which is pretty hard to do in a drought, but they've managed to pull it off.

Barnes has been complaining that Deal hasn't revealed his tax records. Barnes put his own records online weeks ago, but we all know nobody understands tax forms. So who really cares?

Barnes says Deal is a crook. Deal says, quoting Richard Nixon , "I am not a crook."

NO FLUBBED LINES HERE: Registered nurses and others at Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center staged an informational picket Wednesday to protest what they say is a lack of staffers and unreasonable reassignments.

Leaving nothing to chance, the nurses worked off a "chant sheet." There were the usual chants, adapted for the occasion: "What Do We Want? Safe Staffing. When Do We Want It? Now!" and "Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, Unsafe Staffing's Got to Go."

And we all know the power of the nurse, but the way they delivered the message was unforgettable.

"Ain't No Power Like the Power of the Nurses 'Cuz the Power of the Nurses Won't Stop (Say What)"

And this warning: "1, 2, 3, 4 Our Veterans Deserve More, 5, 6, 7, 8 Hire More Nurses Before It's Too Late."

It's never too late to do what's right for our veterans -- or our nurses.

TWO THOUSAND NINE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY SEVEN DEAD: On Saturday, while the City of Augusta officially remembered those lost in the attacks against our country on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, some pretended that the ninth anniversary of that act of war was an occasion to serve. Isn't that sweet?

I grieve some on 9/11. But mostly I still deal with righteous anger.

I'm not looking for avenues of service. It's not a day of service any more than is Dec. 7.

I remember well what happened in New York City that clear morning and it had nothing to do with service. I remember how it happened and who did it. I'm not confused by rhetoric of the new moment.

City Ink thanks Staff Writer Tom Corwin for his contributions to this week's column.

Comments (35) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 09/11/10 - 09:29 pm
0
0
Its a good time to be a

Its a good time to be a Libertarian, Sylvia. I think we can squeeze you in...

dwb619
86609
Points
dwb619 09/11/10 - 09:51 pm
0
0
Poor Andy, out of the

Poor Andy, out of the lime-light, living in South Carolina. But he was president of the PTA last year.

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 09/11/10 - 10:10 pm
0
0
Hey, I was PTA president last

Hey, I was PTA president last year...

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 09/11/10 - 10:13 pm
0
0
Roy Barnes reminds me of Huey

Roy Barnes reminds me of Huey Long. Huey would campaign as a Catholic in south Louisiana and as a Baptist in north Louisiana. Barnes showed his true colors. He will pull for Augusta while he is here and pull for Athens while he is there. Unfortunately, the governor's office is in Atlanta, so, if he wins, he will be pulling for them and not for any of us.

Riverman1
79274
Points
Riverman1 09/11/10 - 10:27 pm
0
0
Yeah, well, it didn't sound

Yeah, well, it didn't sound like Mr. Jorge Jiminez was sure about the dam safety when he said if the dam failed and the canal disappeared, the city could just draw water from the river.

Riverman1
79274
Points
Riverman1 09/11/10 - 10:27 pm
0
0
I wouldn't let JB Powell get

I wouldn't let JB Powell get near ANY of the money, but parimutuel betting on horseracing could help Georgia in many ways. The tracks would be built with private money and Augusta would be a natural to get one with its population and community of horse enthusiasts. Imagine the crowds around the Masters.

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 09/11/10 - 10:46 pm
0
0
JB has as much influence on

JB has as much influence on changing the gambling laws in this state as my cat. Too bad my cat lives in District 22... This is a ploy to get votes. Elect John Monds as governor and you will get your gambling.

If JB wanted this, he had a better chance of getting it done as a state senator. Why the sudden epiphany? This guy has a winter olympics chance in hades to get elected. Like windex on a rolex, Black is going to clean his clock...

Riverman1
79274
Points
Riverman1 09/11/10 - 10:53 pm
0
0
Taylor, of course, that's all

Taylor, of course, that's all it is. Com. of Ag. is an office that's it's hard to get the voters excited about. JB came up with this to stick out in the voters' minds. The AJC gave him lots of play. He's savvy...and crooked as they come.

Little Lamb
43827
Points
Little Lamb 09/11/10 - 10:55 pm
0
0
I'm not confused about J.B.

I'm not confused about J.B. Powell. He's as crooked as they come. But I am confused about the fish ladder and the hole in the dam. Is Sylvia losing it or am I?

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 09/11/10 - 10:55 pm
0
0
Not that I'm for Black, I'm

Not that I'm for Black, I'm voting for Kevin Cherry.

Little Lamb
43827
Points
Little Lamb 09/11/10 - 10:57 pm
0
0
Oh, now I get it. Sylvia

Oh, now I get it. Sylvia Cooper wrote:

Jorge Jiminez , the president of ZEL Engineering, the city's water consultant, said the hole in the dam will be repaired at the same time a new fish ladder is put in to let shad swim upriver, which will be after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approves the license.

I think this means “when pigs fly!

Riverman1
79274
Points
Riverman1 09/11/10 - 11:03 pm
0
0
.

.

Southern_Patriot
0
Points
Southern_Patriot 09/11/10 - 11:00 pm
0
0
Marion Williams is running

Marion Williams is running again, he'll get things straightened out, for Aiken and Columbia counties, because everytime he opens his mouth property values go up in those counties

Brad Owens
4098
Points
Brad Owens 09/12/10 - 04:44 am
0
0
Nice to see so many "good"

Nice to see so many "good" and rich Republicans supporting Roy Barnes.

That goes to show you that they are more about having access to power so they can get their "development" projects done. Do you think the stadium...errr, excuse me, the Golf Hall of Fame property was talked about?

The stadium will happen, it is only a matter of time and tax money.

Brad

DAMY46
0
Points
DAMY46 09/12/10 - 06:57 am
0
0
What is a wrong with the old

What is a wrong with the old stadium?

Can it not hold the crowds?

maggiemae
0
Points
maggiemae 09/12/10 - 08:45 am
0
0
damy..It's not downtown.

damy..It's not downtown.

Brad Owens
4098
Points
Brad Owens 09/12/10 - 09:05 am
0
0
maggie, I could not have

maggie, I could not have quoted the DDA better myself.

But you left off that the current stadium is paid for and the downtown cabal cannot make money off of it for the next 50 years without a new one that has double barrle bonds to make sure the developers always get their money.

Imagine what could be done countywide with the $100,000,000.00 spent on TEE and this $36,000,000.00....think of all the road repairs, infrastructure upgrades, sheriff sub sations, and good things that benfit us all...

Imagine there's no TEE Center....I wonder if you can....nothing to borrow or bond out, a fiscal solid plan....

Imagine all the people, paying just what they owe...OOOOOHHHHHOOOO

Imagine no commission, no mayor too....imagine all the people, voting out the bums...OOOOOHHHOOOO

You may say I'm dreamer, but I say I'm not the only one...join me and vote against incumbents....and the community can move as one...

As you may be able to tell, I am bored...this entire old argument always bores me.

Is it Nov 2nd yet?

VOTE AGAINST ALL INCUMBENTS,

Brad

Junket831
0
Points
Junket831 09/12/10 - 09:50 am
0
0
Excellent column Sylvia. Brad

Excellent column Sylvia. Brad makes a good point, but I would extend the vote ban to include past incumbents as they are also part of the problem.

DAMY46
0
Points
DAMY46 09/12/10 - 11:12 am
0
0
Lori Davis will win the

Lori Davis will win the election (for mayor) if she attacks some of the 'hard issues' in Augusta..

ie:

crime
The Regency Mall
the homeless problem
drugs
The new stadium idea
Bringing more 'foot traffic' downtown..
Jobs........

flipa
35
Points
flipa 09/12/10 - 11:29 am
0
0
Folks who are not concerned

Folks who are not concerned about HOLES IN DAMS don't know much about water, or bureaucracy. ah ahh ah

andycheek
0
Points
andycheek 09/12/10 - 11:53 am
0
0
What a crock. This is what we

What a crock. This is what we have grown to expect in city ink. Here are the facts. Since 2002 I initiated two inspections of the canal tow path with the EMA dive team and fire departmet. We cataloged all the suspect areas and made a report back to the city. They later hired Cranston Engneering to do the same; ours was free the second wasn't. Their report found our reports to be accurate. Zell Engneering has stated the dam was OK for years without bothering to go out and look. We again put EMA divers in the water in 2005 and photographed the collapsed areas of the dam. The dam is 18' wide at the base and collapsed areas have reduced that thickness by ~33 %, 6 feet is missing. As far as the stop log structure We discovered the colapse there at the same time. Divers, myself included, could place their whole body in the hole. Zell didn't know that 2 of the stop logs were missing. These help maintain the pook upstream. A contractor was hired to make repairs and in typical Augusta fashion did a half A job. I presented the pictures side by side to the commission of the 2005 hole and the 2010 hole. 2010 is 5 times larger. Sylvia must have been asleep during this presentation. There is enough water flowing through this structure to fill an average swimming pool in about 30 seconds. The 165 year old concrete is constantly being saturated and the granite blocks are continuing to fall out. Drew Goins was in charge of the canal draw down which was over schedule and inspite of promising to address other issues at the same time did not do anything. You should be reminded that he oversaw the colapse of the city water system in the 90's. We have had the unique opportunity because of commission action and the studies to repair several at risk areas of the tow path before they failed. This is historic. Just take a walk. Zell has had charge of oversite for too long and done a crappy job. As far as the dam is concerned they replaced the top logs in 05 now water is flowing through the dam structure and the lower stop logs are falling apart. There opinions are just that. You cannot argue with the before and after pictures. We have a problem. They said the fish ladder will be done in 2 years do you beleive them. there are other areas of the diversion dam in as grave a condition do you think these will be addressed. Do you trust the same people to correct the issues with the dam that have failed so many times in the past. They just don't want to do any work. We can pump water from the river using diesel pumps at a cost of $10-30,000 a month if we loose the canal. They didn't fix the dam or tow path without pressure from me. they Half fixed the dam in fact made the failure worse. Unlike Zell and Mr.Goins I have been there and seen it.

Andy Cheek

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 09/12/10 - 12:39 pm
0
0
Thanks for the insight Mr

Thanks for the insight Mr Cheek.
As for Brad... if Sylvia ever decides to retire from her column.. YOU should take it over. That last post was brilliant writing.

Brad Owens
4098
Points
Brad Owens 09/12/10 - 01:15 pm
0
0
Merci. I am just tired of

Merci. I am just tired of always hearing about what 'is' to be done and nothing ever really 'being' done.

Brad

Little Lamb
43827
Points
Little Lamb 09/12/10 - 02:28 pm
0
0
Andy Cheek wrote: We can pump

Andy Cheek wrote:

We can pump water from the river using diesel pumps at a cost of $10-30,000 a month if we loose the canal.

Don't let Landfill Manager Mark Johnson hear this, or he will insist that the water be pumped using compressed landfill gas (even though it costs more than diesel fuel).

FallingLeaves
27
Points
FallingLeaves 09/12/10 - 02:40 pm
0
0
"Imagine all the

"Imagine all the people...living life in peace...." I don't want a new stadium. More important: I want our water supply protected as Andy is telling us. I want faded lines re-painted on the roads so I can drive day or night without fear of going in the wrong lanes or someone else doing it and winding up merging violently with my vehicle. Its pretty bad when you barely see the lines until you're right up on them in broad daylight! I'm tired of all the uneven payment from improperly aligned manholes and neglected potholes and the repeated car alignments. I want the sheriff's departments' staff increased to reflect the actual needs of our community, paid properly, proper benefits, and equipped. I want real sidewalks in our neighborhoods, not the irregular mess we have now, if we even have sidewalks. I don't want to see anymore overstuffed school buses, with children standing in the aisles and no proper restraints in the seats. I want our quality of life codes enforced. Commonsense, please! And a stadium downtown would cause more problems than it would solve.

Riverman1
79274
Points
Riverman1 09/12/10 - 05:45 pm
0
0
Damy46 said, "Lori Davis will

Damy46 said, "Lori Davis will win the election (for mayor) if she attacks some of the 'hard issues' in Augusta..

ie:

crime
The Regency Mall
the homeless problem
drugs
The new stadium idea
Bringing more 'foot traffic' downtown..
Jobs........"

I agree Lori Davis should concentrate on these issues. I'll only add the $100 million TEE and Laney Walker bribe. The TEE will not bring in the promised business and it is going to cost the city year after year.

Riverman1
79274
Points
Riverman1 09/12/10 - 05:49 pm
0
0
Mr. Cheek is right. That dam

Mr. Cheek is right. That dam would be replaced in any other locality. Augusta without the canal would not be Augusta as we know it.

Riverman1
79274
Points
Riverman1 09/12/10 - 05:51 pm
0
0
Brad, that was a good

Brad, that was a good comment, as Emery said. You have a good knowledge of downtown, the DDA and the shenanigans that go on. It's amazing you can keep up with things from Africa.

flipa
35
Points
flipa 09/12/10 - 10:44 pm
0
0
Lets’ see, Augusta owns OVER

Lets’ see, Augusta owns OVER 1 BILLION dollars in real-estate much of it priceless riverfront property that should be creating hundreds of jobs. They refuse to maintain our utilities that spew sewage into the river, and are about to let our water pipes run dry to storm drains that are clogged??? If they were one of my tenants I would have already evicted them and started garnishment of their wages for all the damages they did while they were "renting” from me. They even let $25,000. of our tax money walk out the door of our courthouse and won't even let the GBI know about it or file for the insurance to get it back. I had to pay my lost taxes by bringing a Brinks truck to the place full of nickels and dimes to see if their inside job detail could tote that off too, ah ahahah. They are performing blatant obstruction of justice and maybe even a felony by not notifying the GBI that Steven Kendrick had to SAVE UP the missing $25,000. by refusing to place it in the armored car that come to the courthouse for it.. OVER 50% of every property tax dollar we all pay goes to support buildings in which they preach evolution (we’re all just big monkeys) to the kids thus CAUSING the crime waves we have to deal with. I'm already talking to the Justice Dept about other biz and they say if these birds don't fly right they may go to jail and be forced to refund 2 yrs of pay back for misappropriation of tax dollars. I'm a nice guy or some tax USERS would already be frog marched off. To say we the tax payers have to pay all the money all the time while they’re sitting on a billion in assets and fudging our assessment’s then letting the money walk out because they won’t even lock the safe is just WRONG. Somebody BETTER get their head out of where the sun don't shine before my northern fed friends I went to college with come back for the Masters. AUGUSTA, don't temp me, I might make a Cheaters’ style bust airing solid felony violations for my new TV show. Don't temp U.S.….

david jennings
561
Points
david jennings 09/13/10 - 02:31 pm
0
0
Regarding Andy and the dam

Regarding Andy and the dam failure,I guess it takes one to know one.

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs