The community we want

As the mayor says, it's up to us to shape a better Augusta

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State of the Union addresses, such as we’ll see tonight, have evolved into laundry lists of the country’s needs and shortcomings.

Mayor Deke Copenhaver’s State of the City address, on the other hand, is a great reminder of how good we’ve got it here.

There’s no transcript of it; the mayor has our good points committed to memory, and speaks about them extemporaneously in a series of appearances, starting with the Augusta Exchange Club last Thursday. But the video is available online at http://is.gd/afjPM6.

Certainly Augusta has challenges, particularly with its often bottlenecked, bellicose and
belligerent elected government. The Augusta Commission, for instance, inexplicably turned down the money of a professional management company capable of fixing problems at the money-losing city golf course.

The man introducing Copenhaver’s speech last Thursday even joked that in trying to get biographical information on the mayor, he went to the Augusta Commission – and five commissioners said they’d help, four said they wouldn’t and one wouldn’t give an answer.

Such is the mayor’s lot.

Copenhaver is unbowed.

This mayor is famous and even sometimes upbraided for his audacious optimism, but when it’s based in reality what’s wrong with that? When he says Augusta has weathered tough times unusually well and can look forward to doing even better in the years to come, he may be right.

A strong, stable base of government institutions – Fort Gordon, Georgia Regents University, Savannah River Site and more – helps the region survive economic vagaries better than most. But most of what Copenhaver pointed to in his speech was private-sector progress – including a $172 million, 140-job Starbucks production plant.

He said Starbucks, Rural Sourcing Inc., and Automatic Data Processing are examples of Augusta-area companies that are “onshoring” – bringing jobs here from overseas.

In fact, Copenhaver said he’s speaking to the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals’ World Summit in Phoenix next week about the phenomenon and Augusta’s success capitalizing on it.

One asset he cited, besides the great quality of life and enviable cost of living, is our arts and cultural climate. He said that was a big factor in Starbucks’ decision to locate here.

“Given the climate in the rest of the nation,” he said, “that’s something that I’m extremely proud of – for our city to be getting national recognition for that.”

Nor does it hurt that nearby Plant Vogtle is now construction site of the first two commercial nuclear reactors on American soil in decades.

All of those things individually, Copenhaver says, would be “game changers. And we have all of those things going on at once.”

He duly noted the dysfunctional politics – it seems as if some commissioners are actually against progress – and acknowledged that for the three new commissioners, “I know that it’s an eye-opener for them.” But he predicted the politics would eventually smooth out and “catch up” to the positivity and progress in the wider community.

We hope. If that happens, we’ll take the mayor to Starbucks for his favorite grande.

In the meantime, the mayor is right: It is up to the rest of us to create the kind of community we want.

Our elected officials can always come along if they like.

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countyman
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countyman 02/12/13 - 01:39 am
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The future is bright!!!

The local media & politics won't have a choice, but to catch up eventually with the overall community. Rockwood, Starbucks, T-Splost, GRU projects, Village at Riverwatch, Augusta Regional Industrial Park/General Perry Smith Pkwy, Carmax area formerly Wheeler Town Park, etc can't be denied.

The 4th best city to live in, ranked 2nd in high tech job growth, award for the Laney Walker/Bethlehem development, and 6th among digital cities in a few short weeks is the REAL Augusta.

Laney Walker, Harrisburg, and Sand Hills could all become the next Olde Town. Olde Town can move a step closer towards Summerville in terms of prominence. The CBD could have real estate prices right in line with West Augusta. Hephzibah city limits(Hwy 88) can become a upper middle class exurb, South Augusta(south of Tobacco rd to Hephzibah)could become a suburban high middle class area, and Blythe/Mcbean middle class exurbs.

specsta
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specsta 02/12/13 - 02:25 am
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The Real Augusta?

Delusions, delusions.

Something is seriously amiss in Augusta, GA. The city is a killer of dreams, a murderer of ambition. How many people have been crushed by the cloud of mediocrity hanging over AUG? Look no further than the never-changing city skyline or the abject poverty in the urban core.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 02/12/13 - 08:08 am
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Augusta

When I was getting out of the Army in Wash. DC, I contemplated where I wanted to live. My grandparents had a farm in Aiken where the family had been hundreds of years, but I had grown up in Charleston. Thanks to the training the Army gave me, I could have gone anywhere in the country so I thought hard. I had maps out of Hawaii and various places in California. With all my research it kept coming to me that Augusta-CSRA, my ancestors home, was the best place. Keep in mind, I also had Charleston, “The Most Desirable City” in America to compare with.

With Augusta-CSRA, we have a perfect sized city. Trust me, there are major disadvantages to living in huge cities as there are living in small towns. Augusta fits the bill being just big enough, providing a mall, theatres and restaurants. I wanted to be near a military base and we have Ft. Gordon with Eisenhower Medical Center. We have the medical facilities in town with high tech jobs. We have a college in town. We have housing areas and schools in Columbia County that compare with the best around. I wanted recreation and we have world class golf, horsing and tennis in our mild climate by the river and lake. The thing that surprises me most is locals simply don’t realize how great our recreation is. No lines and no waiting for our beautiful activities with the annual excitement of the Masters, the biggest sporting event in America.

As I contemplated where I would move, I discussed it with two other guys in my field who were getting out, too. We all compared potential cities. Guess what…they both ended up moving here, too. One bought a house in Richmond County and one in Columbia County. We are all happy to be in the Garden City-CSRA.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 02/12/13 - 08:10 am
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Deke's Remarks in Other Article

By the way, I hope Deke just made a gaffe with his off-the-cuff remarks that the merger of ASU and MCG was one of the reasons Starbucks decided to build a facility here. Ha.

soapy_725
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soapy_725 02/12/13 - 10:05 am
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A government town. Without the the federal government
Unpublished

physical and financial support, ARC would sink. That coupled with a dysfunctional local government that is controlled by federal mandates. And the AC is filled with distrust, disappointment and confusion about our federal government. The rest of the news is about distrust, disappointment and confusion with local leadership. And just to titillate the sheeple, add a mix of violent crime and entertainment venues.

Mr Bartram predicted Augusta would be the center of the south. What happened?

We have the federal government to thank for all of our progress since WWII. So why are we not on board with all of the Washington lovin'? So why is welfare and entitlements a negative? Augustans should be enamored with the federal government.

Deke is career building. ARC is his base of personal success. So using him as a source for the true ARC history is like looking for the true ARK.

David Parker
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David Parker 02/12/13 - 10:15 am
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The folks that keep an

The folks that keep an iron-grip on Augusta's development, the one's with all the property, and those that have control of the local politicians. To you, please take a pill immediatly and relax. Nobody is going to take everything away. Just be happy that you have had the place all to yourselves for decades. Nobody was there to check your methods and range, so you had carte blanche opportunities to set yourself and your future generations up just fine. But the time has come to let things take their own shape and let the city expand to the next level. You didn't think it was going to be that easy forever did you? Or maybe I'm just unreasonably optimistic about Augusta's ability to "cut the cord" from these folks.

faithson
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faithson 02/12/13 - 10:53 am
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only reason I stayed...

showed up here in '77, knowing I was going to be a family man I saw Augusta as a place to do exactly that. Even given all the problems at the marble palace, I found that to have been a good decision. The quality of life here is much better than many of the folks I know who live in the big cities. I am of a mind that as we move along here, the big cities will be the first to go. Augusta's ability to handle its own will prove very useful in the future.

deestafford
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deestafford 02/12/13 - 11:29 am
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I, like Riverman, could have retired anywhere in the world

but I chose Augusta for a number of reasons even though I was born and raised in Savannah. This is a great city in which to live even though it does have its warts. The main wart being the city commission which has blacks who have the attitude of "The white man has got his for years and now it's time for us blacks (not 'AfricanAmerican') to get ours." rather than the conservative attitude of individual responsibility like that of blacks like Herman Caink, Walter E. Williams, Thomas Sowell, and Clarence Thomas.

countyman
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countyman 02/12/13 - 12:09 pm
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Specsta.. Let's not forget

Specsta.. Let's not forget the recession killed the $100 million Watermark project. The Hilton hotels, and condo towers were apart of the development. The library, judicial center, Tee Center, and parking deck have changed the skyline. The skyline of the Medical District continues to change. The Holiday Inn Express will also help out the skyline downtown.

I do agree with you to a certain extent about the 'old' Augusta. But you can't deny the recent/current progressiveness.

1. The city raised over $20 million for the $100 million Kroc Center
2. Revitalizing the urban core(numerous awards for the Laney Walker/Bethlehem project)
3. Gilbert Manor housing project replaced with the $112 million dental school(largest project in BOR history) & $76 million Medical Commons.
4. 200 acre industrial park & $7 million General Perry Smith Pkwy at the airport
5. Collaboration center downtown($200k from Starbucks, $100k from the private sector, and $100k from the city)
6. Spending only $500k on the Richmond County Master plan, and receiving the $1.8 million grant for 15th, Deans Bridge, and Milledgeville rd.
7. The mayor going after the $500k grant for charging stations

There's plenty of things to accomplish including the Regency Mall site. The $4 million for the lake was already included in the latest SPLOST.

David Parker
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David Parker 02/12/13 - 01:14 pm
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Add this to the list of to do's

I would point out one more item CM.

Buy more water to put in the lake before it's just a puddle of red clay and mud. It's outside the county lines but it's a CSRA thing and for me a very vital part of the whole picture. W/o the lake, I would have to reconsider my choice to live here for the long term.

Darby
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Darby 02/12/13 - 01:54 pm
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".....I hope Deke just made a gaffe with his off-the-cuff....

remarks that the merger of ASU and MCG was one of the reasons Starbucks decided to build a facility here."

Or maybe he was just channeling Don Rickles...

Riverman1
93480
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Riverman1 02/12/13 - 02:21 pm
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Darby, it's a thought, but

Darby, it's a thought, but comparing Deke to Don Rickles is like comparing Lake Olmstead to the Bering Sea.

Gage Creed
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Gage Creed 02/12/13 - 07:51 pm
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Regency Mall could become the

Regency Mall could become the next Sydney Opera House (if they ever build that lake), The Patch could be reinvented as Torrey Pines II (just imagine La Jolla real estate prices and the tax coffers overflowing!) could....can.....might...

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