Tempers flare over Augusta Animal Services

Members of the Augusta Animal Services advisory board are up in arms over the number of animals being killed – or euthanized, if you prefer euphemisms – at animal control on Mack Lane.

A new state law requires animals to be spayed or neutered before they can be adopted, and since the facility lost its part-time veterinarian about three weeks ago, very few are adopted out, says board member Lor­na Barrett.

“They just euthanize them,” she said. “If people only knew. I’m just going crazy. Most other animal control facilities in the state are working with rescue groups to have more animals released alive. The owners just have to show proof they’ve been neutered or spayed within a certain amount of time.”

Barrett has friends trying to get animals out of the Augusta facility to place in foster homes and with animal welfare groups, but they’ve become discouraged because Animal Control Di­rec­tor Sharon Broady won’t let them and charges them full adoption fees, she says.

Barrett also said she and others have been trying to get ordinances changed through the city law department for more than a year.

“The Augusta Law De­part­ment has been sitting on their butts,” she said.

Augusta Commission members Grady Smith and Don­nie Smith attended a recent advisory board meeting where tempers flared because of the frustration some feel over what they see as Broady’s lack of leadership.

 

IN AN EMERGENCY, CALL 911: At a little after 6 p.m. last Sunday, McDuffie County resident Anthony Coleman was working on his farm on George McDuffie Road when suddenly he felt tremendous pressure on his chest and pain down his left arm.

He’d had a heart attack a few years ago, so he knew he was having another one. He called his wife, Kay, and told her he was going to the emergency room at Uni­ver­sity Hospital McDuffie.

When he got there, he told the woman at the admissions desk he was having a heart attack. She told him that somebody would be with him in a minute. He waited, and the pain got worse, so he went back to the window and asked for help again. She said somebody would be with him in just a minute.

When nobody came, he returned a third time, and she said, “Sir, somebody will be with you in a minute.”

“By then, I was in such pain, I hit my knees and was holding onto the counter, and I called 911, and they told me I was where I needed to be,” Coleman said. “A nurse came out who recognized me and took me on back. They loaded me up with nitroglycerin, and the EMTs put me in an ambulance and took me to Uni­versity Hospital in Augusta.”

Coleman said he doesn’t know how long he was in the emergency room because he was in such pain, but it was longer than he wanted it to be.

“I’ve never hurt that bad,” he said.

 

URA BUNCH OF BLABBER­MOUTHS: Since city officials learned a few weeks ago that three Urban Re­devel­opment Agency members were ineligible because they already serve on other boards, they’ve talked about appointing new ones so they can vote to issue bonds for the ongoing Municipal Building renovation.

A March vote that took forever and a day to get done was deemed null and void because of the ineligible trio.

The matter of who should come up with the new names remained unclear until they talked about it again Tuesday and finally got a ruling from city Attorney Andrew MacKenzie that seemed to satisfy. They still didn’t approve nominees Isaac McKinney, T.L. Clark, Bonnie Ruben and Amanda Bryant, opting to wait on the appointments until the candidates could complete a “talent bank” application.

They’ll probably talk about it again so much Tuesday that they’ll get confused and postpone voting.

 

HIGH FINANCE: At a city finance committee meeting, when the matter of issuing $160 million in bonds to refund the city’s water and revenue bonds came up, Com­mis­sioner Bill Fennoy had a question about the term “refund.”

“Just for clarity on my part,” he said. “You mention refunding. And when I hear the word ‘refunding,’ I think about my taxes. I’m going to get a refund. But this is not what we’re talking about.”

“This is like a refinancing of your home mortgage,” said the city’s financial consultant, Dianne McNabb. “It’s a refinancing.”

“Not necessarily a refund,” said Fennoy.

“Right,” said McNabb. “Re­finan­cing would be a better colloquial word for it.”

“For clarity, could you use refinancing as opposed to refunding?” Fennoy asked.

“Good point,” she replied.

 

20/20 HINDSIGHT IN 2014: Quite a few bad ideas have come our way this year, and as there’s not much boiling over at City Hall except in the pots Commissioner Ma­rion Williams keeps stirring, it’s time for an almost-mid-year review.

The first one was starting the year off with a $3.5 million deficit in the city’s general fund budget, balanced with money from the rainy-day fund.

Not to worry, though. Everybody can just let a smile be their umbrella on a rainy, rainy day.

Then, former City Ad­min­­istrator Fred Russell announced that he would run for mayor but backed out before qualifying. Which of those actions might have been a bad idea is open to speculation.

Letting the wish list for the next round of the special purpose local option sales tax balloon to $721.7 million was such a shocker that some folks never stopped saying No to SPLOST even though Mayor Deke Copenhaver pared it to $194 million. It was too late. The damage was done.

Then in a push to get the tax package together to go on the May 20 ballot, the mayor said the community had to have $12 million in local money – $8 million of it from Augusta taxpayers – committed before the end of June in order to access $48 million in state funding for a cancer center.

The sales tax didn’t pass; the state money isn’t going away; the Boy King’s credibility took a licking, but he keeps on ticking.

Mayoral candidates attended so many forums, repeating the same campaign rhetoric, that they actually started believing it.

Helen Blocker-Adams described herself as an entrepreneur so many times, she thought she was debt free. Charles Cummings talked so much about the wonders of transit, he boarded a Greyhound for Mexico when the election was over. Alvin Mason boasted about his military career at Fort Gordon so much, he started expecting a 21-gun salute when he drove into his driveway. And Lori Myles talked about improving infrastructure to the point of becoming infrastructure: She had her driveway paved.

It might not have been a bad idea. In fact, it might have been a very good idea from Augusta Hou­sing and Neigh­borhood De­vel­op­ment Director Chester Wheeler’s point of view. However, it was a conflict of interest for Wheeler’s Laney-Walker/Bethlehem revitalization project, which ran out of money sooner than expected, to be reviewed by a team of experts who’d given the project a major award last year.

The team also recommended using general-fund money to keep the project from being “crippled in the long run.” That’s in addition to the $750,000 a year it receives from the $1 bed tax.

 

WORDS OF WISDOM: “When you let the fox guard the henhouse, all the chickens are going to be gone.” – Commissioner Marion Williams

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