Sylvia Cooper

City Ink columnist and correspondent for The Augusta Chronicle.

Augusta's high ratings aren't adding up to me

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The Boy King sent out two more news releases from the Marble Palace announcing Augusta's high rankings as a top place to live and retire.

I think Augusta is great, too. I love Augusta. There's no place like it -- at least, not in Georgia, with the possible exception of Savannah, and that's because they have a beach not far away. Nevertheless, I'm a little suspicious that folks from Michigan -- which is about as far from Augusta as you can get unless you go into Canada -- would find the Garden City among the top "10 Overall Places to Live in the U.S."

I don't know what to believe. All that hype or my lying eyes.

People talk about there being two Georgias -- metro Atlanta and the rest of the state -- which is the truth.

Local politicians love to say we're one Augusta in one breath and complain we're not in another, which is also the truth.

Actually, there are four Augustas -- the Hill, Target shopping center, Tobacco Road and everywhere else.

There's the country club on the Hill where ladies in high heels meet for lunch, and there's a trailer park on Milledgeville Road where ladies beat their boyfriends to death with high heels.

Going down the Hill, you pass Harrisburg. Years ago, someone said Savannah was a beautiful lady with a dirty face. Harrisburg is a lady with a monkey on her back.

Actually, Harrisburg is a decaying mill town tucked away behind Burger King, Arby's and other fine-dining establishments on the Walton Way side, and old houses with too many cars and trucks in the yards to be legal on the Broad Street side.

Then suddenly, you're right there at the new Kroc Center, a symbol of hope for revitalization in the entire area. Just thinking about that quickens the pulse of the movers, the shakersand the developers, and it turns their eyes into dollar signs every time they pass it.

Then there's downtown and Broad Street, where you can wander for years past ever-changing shops (except for Ruben's), bars and restaurants, along with vacant storefronts, clutching your purse and waiting for a trolley.

Next is Olde Town, a gentrified neighborhood that dead-ends at East Boundary, where angels fear to tread.

People in south Augusta complain they have nothing -- no fine restaurants, stores or public transit. Well, didn't they have Regency Mall? What happened there? Oh, I remember. Bloody murder. And soon they'll have a man-made lake out there to drag for bodies.

Novelist Erskine Caldwell wrote 39 books, including two famous ones about Tobacco Road. They scandalized Augusta sort of like William Faulkner's novels scandalized folks in Oxford, Miss., until they found out they could make money off the tourists who came from all over the world to see the hallowed ground Faulkner trod on, or stumbled on when he was drunk.

If any tourists ever came to Augusta to see Tobacco Road, it's been kept quiet, but the area and south Augusta as a whole have grown by leaps and bounds.

Tobacco Road ends at a gate to Fort Gordon near where the community of Pinetucky existed until the government took the land for the fort.

And that reminds me. Something is always coming out of the mayor's office about Augusta's low cost of living. Well, I guess they can say that with all those government checks flowing in every month.

Let's face it: If it weren't for Fort Gordon, Georgia Health Sciences University and the VA hospital -- though you can go in there for a colonoscopy and come out with HIV -- Augusta would be just another Hamburg on the Savannah River.

ERNIE'S FAVORITE 'TOBACCO ROAD' QUOTE: Jeeter Lester: "Why, Ada here never ... never spoke a word to me for the first 10 years we was married. Heh! Them was the happiest 10 years of my life."

GOODALE INN IS FALLING DOWN: Half of the west wall of the historic landmark collapsed Friday.

The house was built in 1799 and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. The site was once a 500-acre plantation established in 1740 by Thomas Goodale , who also operated the Sand Bar Ferry at the nearby river crossing, in addition to a restaurant and inn, according to research compiled by Historic Augusta Inc. and published earlier in The Augusta Chronicle :

"In 1799, the year the house was built, the site was sold to a Charleston, S.C., merchant named Christopher Fitzsimmons , who later gave the home to his daughter's new husband, Wade Hampton Jr . His son, Wade Hampton III , would later become governor of South Carolina."

It was said to be haunted by the ghost of a little girl who would come down the stairs and go out the front door. A door on the top floor reportedly would not stay closed. That door was standing open Friday when employees from the city's license and inspections department went to investigate the collapse.

Dr. Donnie Dunagan , who owned the house with his brother David a few years ago, said that he didn't believe in ghosts but that he always got a weird feeling when he went there to work on the house or grounds.

"It was a heebie-jeebie feeling," he said. "I felt like a little girl was watching me. And I dreamed about a little girl even before I heard about a little girl haunting the house. It was eerie."

Donnie Dunagan said they sold the house to a man interested in Confederate history. That man intended to repair it but must have run out of money.

Then the current owners, two brothers from Alabama, bought it at auction. Dunagan heard they were going to have ghost hunters come in to see whether they could detect paranormal activity.

"It's a shame there's not money out there to restore things like that," Dunagan said.

Erik Montgomery , the executive director of Historic Augusta, said, "I don't think we can assume the house is totally lost. In just walking around, it doesn't look like the other walls are compromised. I really don't know. It's sad. I hope we can find a way to save it."

Goodale Inn was used as a restaurant in the 1970s and early 1980s and holds fond memories for many Augustans and others who drove long distances to dine there.

DEACTIVATED: I've deactivated my Facebook account because it was hacked by cyber hoodlums who posted porn on my page. I seldom went on it anyway because I'm allergic to cyberspace. My nervous system is still wired circa 40,000 years ago, which is when Homo sapiens last mutated. I read that somewhere.

I also took my touchscreen phone back to Verizon, hoping I could swap it for something simpler. It's hopeless. I'm always cutting people off in midsentence and calling places such as Labrador, Newfoundland. It gets stuck on airplane mode, and is always vibrating and asking questions I can't answer.

Then it started burning my ear, and I was afraid it was going to give me brain cancer, so I took it back to the store.

A nice man named Stan immediately asked whether he could help me, and I said, "Yes, I need some relief from this phone. Can I swap it for something simpler? You wouldn't by chance have a rotary phone, would you?"

Stan looked puzzled until I laughed. Then he laughed, too. I told him about the ear burning, and he said the battery might be bad. So he put another one in and said if it happened again to bring the phone back and swap it for another one.

But what good would that do?

Reach Sylvia Cooper at sylvia.cooper@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (88) Add comment
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Austin Rhodes
2866
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Austin Rhodes 08/06/11 - 10:19 pm
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Wow...harsh. Deke is gonna

Wow...harsh. Deke is gonna take her off the Christmas card list.

ECDanes
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ECDanes 08/06/11 - 10:26 pm
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but true.

but true.

CorporalGripweed
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CorporalGripweed 08/06/11 - 10:41 pm
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Ms. Cooper nails it yet

Ms. Cooper nails it yet again!

Will
75
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Will 08/06/11 - 10:42 pm
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Talk about brutally honest
Unpublished

Talk about brutally honest ... I wouldn't want to meet her in a dark alley.

Riverman1
84952
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Riverman1 08/06/11 - 10:47 pm
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I take the CSRA as a whole

I take the CSRA as a whole and Augusta is the hub. The area actually is far more of a tourist destination than most realize. My farm is in Aiken horse country and wealthy folks are coming from all over for the horse riding and shooting almost year round. Well-heeled visitors are in the area playing golf and tennis year round.

These are not the Chevy folks staying in motels who think a cruise or a plastic Disney is a vacation, but some pretty impressive people renting or owning second homes. Aiken and Columbia counties were ranked high as retirement places and that we can all believe.

We need the government, hospitals and educational facilities of downtown Augusta to make it all work. We are in this together.

Taylor B
5
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Taylor B 08/06/11 - 10:53 pm
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Sylvia, I will send you two

Sylvia, I will send you two christmas cards. Keep up the good work!

ECDanes
1
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ECDanes 08/07/11 - 12:00 am
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"I'm allergic to cyberspace.

"I'm allergic to cyberspace. My nervous system is still wired circa 40,000 years ago, which is when Homo sapiens last mutated. I read that somewhere."............ smooth, Sylvia, smooth. We get it. You are a master at the subtlety

eagle
94
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eagle 08/07/11 - 12:12 am
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Love her columns.
Unpublished

Love her columns.

boredinaug
97
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boredinaug 08/07/11 - 12:25 am
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Loved this article...I don't

Loved this article...I don't really see how anyone can argue with her comments. I wouldn't say she's being harsh, just calling it like it is. Not many people are brave enough to do that anymore~

aliciamarie88
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aliciamarie88 08/07/11 - 12:29 am
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She is right Augusta sucks

She is right Augusta sucks and every one in office is corrupt, i hope the terrorist she talked about blows Augusta off the map!

Taylor B
5
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Taylor B 08/07/11 - 01:03 am
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Alicia, what the funk and

Alicia, what the funk and wagnals are you talking about? Not everyone in office is corrupt. There is a fine line.... I hope to make that line as fat as I can.

countyman
20244
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countyman 08/07/11 - 01:42 am
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If the paper actuallly

If the paper actuallly printed the articles then I could maybe understand the criticism. I noticed the Greenville paper(Greenville ranked 6th one spot ahead of Augusta in the top ten) published the article six hours after the news was released and didn't bring up anything except for the great news.. The Chronicle didn't published one single article discussing the Top ten places to live or the Top 8 cities where to retire... They didn't mentioned the news on the local news either. They however didn't waste anytime to disagree with the two rankings.. The paper needs to go ahead and change the name to the Columbia County Chronicle... They already don't print none of the other tribunals except for Richmond County..

To say Augusta is the Target shopping center, Hill, Tobacco rd, and everywhere else is simply ridiculous. There's the Central Business District, Augusta mall area, Peach Orchard rd, Washington rd, Medical District, Wrightsboro rd, Surrey Center, Village at Riverwatch, Carmax area, Jimmie Dyess, Stevens Creek, etc.. The Central Business District(especially Broad street) has several major ongoing private invesments.. Thirty four condos/new windows at the Whites Building, Sprint Food & Metro Market(restaurant, gas sation, old belk building next to the Augusta Common), Tantra Lounge(restaurant next to the recently opened Sundrees Urban Market in the Doris building(adjacent to the Whites building), and 967 Broad(four apts) to name a few. Both Vintage Ooolee and Soy Noodle House have expanded on Broad street..586, 556, and 565, 952(S4 Lounge), and 544(bar) Broad street are being renovated

Taylor B
5
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Taylor B 08/07/11 - 01:36 am
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Carmax is an area? Bwahahaha!

Carmax is an area? Bwahahaha! Sprouse side mafia... with their pistols and choppas on deck....

countyman
20244
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countyman 08/07/11 - 01:56 am
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You don't see the cleared

You don't see the cleared land in the Carmax area?? The name of the area might still be called Wheeler Town Park... They didn't build Mason Macknight JR Pkwy or the roundabout recently for nothing.. Before the recession both Gander Mountain and Nothern Toole were coming to the area.. Carmax definitely won't be the only building for too much longer..

I always laugh when people bring up the mayor or development authority.. If you say anything positive about Augusta you somehow work for the city..

sjsypien
19
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sjsypien 08/07/11 - 01:51 am
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I agree with you, Sylvia. I

I agree with you, Sylvia. I can't imagine any poll or research agency recommending Augusta as a "top" anything, except for crime. The political system doesn't work. We're in hard times, people being laid off or furloughed. Yet, we have commissioners that won't give up their cell phones or gas cards, both of which are paid for out of taxpayer funds. Granted, the expense may not be that great, but you have to start somewhere and set a proper example. Those poor spoiled babies. They still want to spend like there is no recession. They must figure that they are entitled.

countyman
20244
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countyman 08/07/11 - 02:09 am
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People always think the grass

People always think the grass is greeneer on the other side when it's really not... The city of Augusta doesn't even have the worst crime rate in state of Georgia.. Since Augusta is knowed for being an up & coming city across the united states.. Get ready to disagree with the multiple future rankings coming in the future.. Augusta probably leads the southeast in the number of rankings in the last 20 months(atleast 30 by now).. New companies, retail, and industry continue to locate around Augusta and I don't see the rankings stopping anytime soon.

Craig Spinks
817
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Craig Spinks 08/07/11 - 02:15 am
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"Good" thinking, "good"

"Good" thinking, "good" writing, "good" spelling and "good" punctuating, (C)ountyman. Your puppeteers will be pleased.

ECDanes
1
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ECDanes 08/07/11 - 02:24 am
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same shpiel different day

same shpiel different day from countryman.. give it a rest will ya? I think most of us have your copy/paste stock list of rankings and proposed openings memorized by heart by now.

ECDanes
1
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ECDanes 08/07/11 - 02:29 am
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countryman lives for

countryman lives for contrived rankings based on who know's what? Most of the rest of us live in reality. YOu know how they say in Missouri: "Show me." We know what we see, and most of it aint pretty (bad grammar on purpose)

thewiz0oz
9
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thewiz0oz 08/07/11 - 03:40 am
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Beauty is in the eye of the

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder - objective analysis requires looking beyond the mirror and the reflection of oneself - put any community under a microscope and creepy-crawlies are seen in the magniformation - and in reality every trade area is a composite of the geography, the history and the people that live within - few trade areas exceed the quality of life found in Greter Augusta (CSRA) for those who truly seek it.

Asitisinaug
3
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Asitisinaug 08/07/11 - 04:04 am
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In reality, if it weren’t for

In reality, if it weren’t for The Augusta National and The Masters, we wouldn't be in the top 100. Anyone who lives in Augusta and travels knows that when someone finds out you are from Augusta, the only direction the conversation turns is to The Masters!!

Just drive through and look at our city which is cleaned up nicely once a year...for Masters. A dysfunctional city government, under-funded public safety, a downtown that most think is a joke except of course when they are dodging the panhandlers, worst air quality possible according to the EPA, and the list goes on. I do happen to like Augusta and we do have a lot of potential (Maybe is we remove EVERY current politician) an make some very major changes to the way the city is run. But without a beach, major entertainment venue (although JB Arena is doing much better), mountains or anything else of the such, it simply re-confirms as to why we would even possibly receive such recognition...

Make sure you thank The Augusta National and The Masters Tournament.

Asitisinaug
3
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Asitisinaug 08/07/11 - 04:05 am
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Sjsypien, you are right but

Sjsypien, you are right but we do have a FEW commissoners who have given up their cell phones, gas cards and are actually trying to do what is best for the city now...but just a few.

Riverman1
84952
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Riverman1 08/07/11 - 06:16 am
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As I wrote above, I tend to

As I wrote above, I tend to agree with Mr. WizOs. It’s difficult to make those who grew up here realize how great of an area it is for recreation. Too many things are taken for granted. I grew up in Charleston, but spent every summer and holiday in Aiken County so the CSRA is my home, too. What gives me a better understanding is I had the experience of living in many other places during my Army career, north and south.

We talk about the Masters as if that’s the only thing visitors come for when we have many other golf courses in the area being used year round. The other courses are a tourist attraction by themselves. Some communities base their entire existence on their golf courses just as if that asset were a beach. Ours rival the most well known places.

Riverman1
84952
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Riverman1 08/07/11 - 06:19 am
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Mr. WizOs, I wonder if there

Mr. WizOs, I wonder if there will ever come a time you will feel comfortable explaining why the TEE (meaning the scant bookings) and hotel didn't work out as you and others hoped for?

bushwhacker
39
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bushwhacker 08/07/11 - 07:06 am
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TERRIBLE PLACE TO LIVE MUCH

TERRIBLE PLACE TO LIVE MUCH LESS RAISE KIDS..

Sigmonde
0
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Sigmonde 08/07/11 - 07:24 am
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Take Columbia County (Evans)

Take Columbia County (Evans) and Aiken out of the picture and Augusta would be found at the bottom of any "best place to live" list.

Sigmonde
0
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Sigmonde 08/07/11 - 07:53 am
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Augusta (Richmond County)

Augusta (Richmond County) blew it years ago. With having the worlds greatest golf venue (The Masters), Augusta never capitalized on it by encouraging major golf course development. It should have become a major golf destination. Visitors and retirees just drive through Augusta to get to great golf in places like Aiken, North Augusta (SC) or elsewhere.

TrukinRanger
1748
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TrukinRanger 08/07/11 - 08:49 am
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I saw the article on cnn.com
Unpublished

I saw the article on cnn.com and laughed and laughed when it showed us #7. I'm from here.... my roots are here, but I would have NEVER EVER EVER chosen to live here. Deekster can brag all he wants, but not everything is rosey outside of conifer.

dougk
3
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dougk 08/07/11 - 08:57 am
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Another great column by
Unpublished

Another great column by Sylvia. Thank God she came back from retirement...her wit and way with words which tend to nail it on the head are too priceless not share with all of us.

Patty-P
3516
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Patty-P 08/07/11 - 09:10 am
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It seems to me the only

It seems to me the only attraction Augusta has is the Masters tournament which rolls around once a year. This is the only time things are cleaned up and running smoothly. Other than that, the downtown area is lacking the shopping, etc that similar cities have, such as Savannah. When a typical family decides to go somewhere for a nice getaway, I've never heard 'Augusta' mentioned.

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