Residents from several counties gathered Thursday to share concerns and expressed their hopes about the Augusta area's future.
The Destination 2020 town hall meeting in Hephzibah was one of eight sponsored by Leadership Augusta to develop a vision for the area's future by listening to residents.
Facilitator Jon Abercrombie,of Atlanta-based Civic Strategies, asked the dozen participants at the Jesse Carroll Community Center what improvements are needed to ensure Augusta will be an "ideal city."
Suggested improvements included a regional airport, a highly educated population and beautified main roads for motorists entering the city.
Helen Blocker-Adams, a business owner, said she is concerned about economic growth.
"My roots are here, and I like the fact that this group is involving the people," Mrs. Blocker-Adams said. "Augusta isn't a county or a city ... Hopefully, these kinds of meetings can draw us toward one single vision."
Jeff Padgett, a member of the Richmond County Board of Education, stressed the importance of smart growth.
"I want Augusta to be a place where my son and I can live and work," Mr. Padgett said. "It is important to manage growth in a good and effective way, so we don't have to come back and fix things later on."
Meetings such as Thursday's are what Jan Wiggins has been working toward. Mrs. Wiggins, a member of Leadership Augusta, volunteered to establish Destination 2020 to find out what the public had to say about this area and where it's going.
"I got involved because it mattered to me," Mrs. Wiggins said. "We thought this would be an interesting thing to do because we are inviting comments from the public.
"We hope that Destination 2020 will carry on in the future."
At the completion of the town hall meetings, all of the comments and ideas will be compiled in a report.
"The information that (the public) shares is so valuable," Mrs. Wiggins said. "Working with it is a very positive experience."
Reach Karen Ethridge (706) 724-0851.