North Augusta 2000 has financial commitments for more than half of the $1.5 million it intends to raise during the next five years for community improvements, the group announced Wednesday at its campaign kickoff breakfast.
The city and the Westinghouse Savannah River Co. are leading the way with donations of $300,000 each. Several other area businesses and corporations have also committed. In all, the groups have pledged to give $951,088, or 61 percent.
"It is an opportunity for us to form even stronger ties with our 3,000 employees here in North Augusta," Westinghouse President and North Augusta 2000 member Joe Buggy told an audience of about 125 people at the North Augusta Community Center. "It was just so obvious that it (North Augusta 2000) was very forward looking, very progressive."
Donations will be directed toward economic development, education, quality of life, and parks and recreation in the city.
North Augusta 2000, a group of about 60 business and civic leaders, was formed in 1998.
"This is one of the most exciting initiatives that I've been involved with in the 40 years that I've lived in this community," North Augusta 2000 Chairman and former Mayor Tom Greene said. "This five-year plan addresses a number of critical issues in our community, issues that North Augusta 2000 is uniquely positioned to impact."
The community foundation wants its current fund-raising campaign to be the first of many. Its goals for this round include creating a land bank for environmentally sensitive properties and those intended for developing into North Augusta's riverfront; ensuring the construction of Bobby Jones Expressway into South Carolina; becoming an All-America City before 2005; and creating and enhancing the city's parks and recreation facilities.
The group has already designed and implemented a course for seniors at North Augusta High School called Real Life 101. It will be taught by members of the community and will teach students "skills for everyday living."
"North Augusta 2000 has recognized that some of the city's needs need to be addressed faster than the city can accomplish them," said life-long North Augustan Dr. Randy Cooper, the campaign chairman for North Augusta 2000. "This group can do that."
Plans for the $1.5 million:
Economic development - $650,000
Land bank uses:
1. Establish town center
2. Provide land for municipal conference center
3. Extend city's Greeneway trail
5. Create a riverfront park and amphitheater
6. Provide wetland mitigation areas
7. Provide open space for redevelopment projects
Extend Bobby Jones Expressway
Create market strategy to attract retirees
Establish light industry and business park focused on attracting high-tech and biotechnology companies
Implement a plan to achieve collaborative annexation between Edgefield County and North Augusta for the development of Martintown Road and U.S. Highway 25 corridors north of Interstate 20
Promote strategic alliances between governments from Aiken County, the city of Aiken, Edgefield County, and the cities of North Augusta and Augusta
Education - $350,000
Real Life 101
Increase reading readiness by not less that 50 percent in four- and five-year-old kindergarten pupils based on public school readiness
Develop and implement a mentoring program to acquaint high school seniors with job-skill requirements meant to better help them decide on attaining further education
Create job "shadowing" program in cooperation with businesses and industry
Teach weekly technology education program in public schools for students and parents
Create basic life skills course in partnership with local churches for underprivileged residents
Upgrade North Augusta High School auditorium and theater
Quality of life - $200,000
Implement the Character Comes First Program
Promote community diversity
Develop program entitled Protect Our Children, Invest In Our Future intended to encourage churches, schools and civic clubs to reinforce positive behavior
Revitalize crime watch program in North Augusta
Promote community health screenings
Become All-America City by 2005
Establish a senior or adult council to address their concerns and needs
Develop sense of community through construction of sidewalks, renovating homes and creating a more welcoming atmosphere
Parks and recreation - $350,000
Further support and develop Greeneway and additional city parks
Construct riverfront park and amphitheater
Develop additional sporting events and tournaments to attract more attention to area
Assist city of North Augusta and Augusta in developing a pedestrian and bicycle connection across the Savannah River
Reach Josh Gelinas at (706) 823-3218.