Helen Keller once said: “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”
Here in Richmond County, practically all of us have eyesight, but we do not appear to have a real vision for our future. If we don’t open our sometimes narrow minds, cease with the racial divide and set aside our personal differences, then we are destined for many more years of stagnation, petty politics and mediocrity.
Let’s initiate the process of improving our government infrastructure. We can begin by conducting an internal audit of all county departments, including county-issued equipment, cell phones, take-home vehicles and all other perks typically unnoticed.
Public housing is past due for restructuring, including the board of the Augusta Housing Authority. What substantial funding has the Housing Authority received over recent years, and what projects has that funding been used for? By the way, simply relocating residents to another property across town is not an improvement.
WE CAN DRASTICALLY reduce juvenile crime by simply imposing fines and community service on negligent parents. This is called being responsible for your precious child.
Our current Augusta commissioners need to fix the self-defeating problem of racial division. If they cannot fix it, then let’s fix it for them in the form of recall elections. Stop playing political chess with this community’s future! Establish downtown Augusta as an entertainment district and enforce a dress code (reasonable attire, i.e, no tank tops or saggy pants), civil conduct and an age restriction – nobody younger than 21 should be downtown after dark.
Flooding is perhaps our biggest natural threat, so we should undertake the effort to clean out city drains and install proper drainage in our inner-city neighborhoods that are very prone to flooding. If such a project takes federal or state assistance, or special-purpose local option sales tax consideration, so be it. Why are we moving forward with development projects in a flood zone instead of being progressive about the situation?
Establish a county employee merit system based on performance, attendance, dependability, appearance and enthusiasm. For department managers, assign merit based on all of the aforementioned, in addition to being more accessible to the citizens, department efficiency, employee morale and weekday availability. This will ensure that the best employees and managers are retained.
HOW ABOUT OUR own theme park that could be located at the Regency Mall property or even at Diamond Lakes? Not only that, let’s establish our city as the leading commercial distribution hub in the Southeast. Consider our proximity to major cities in the Southeast: Charlotte, N.C.; Charleston, S.C.; Columbia, S.C.; Savannah; Macon; Atlanta; Columbus – even Jacksonville, Fla.
To become a great and industry-leading community, we have got to fix our public transportation and school systems, as those are two of the main points in attracting new industry and big business. Let’s stop pointing fingers at one another and settling for the same old tired excuses, and begin transforming Augusta into the new jewel of the South.
Marcus Garvey challenged our desire to strive for higher heights by lifting ourselves “out of the mire and hitch your hopes to the stars; yes, rise as high as the very stars themselves.”
Is Richmond County ready to rise?
(The writer is a self-employed painter and landscaper. He lives in Augusta.)