Originally created 07/22/02

A grave problem

Everyone would like to see Augusta picked as a site for a federal veterans' cemetery. With more than 50,000 retired vets living in the Central Savannah River Area, there is even a case to be made that the Garden City should be a site for a federal cemetery.

Sadly, though, it's not going to happen, not even with Mayor Bob Young beating the drums for it - or perhaps we should say tilting at windmills for it. The list of 18 densely populated areas that the Department of Veterans Affairs is urging Congress to consider as new cemetery sites doesn't include the Augusta area - and for good reason. It's not necessary, at least not for now.

Augusta is served by the Georgia Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Milledgeville, a state-run site that opened just eight months ago and still has 142 acres available for burials, and an indoor chapel for graveside services.

Mayor Young, struggling to recover from his duplicity in the Ronnie Few recommendation fiasco revealed by the special grand jury, is looking to change the subject. But his promotion of Augusta as a federal burial site is not the way to do it.

Instead of whistling past the graveyard, he ought to be working on issues that would really improve Augusta, particularly if he wants to win re-election this year. His proposal to give city Administrator George Kolb hiring and firing authority, which he has put on the commission agenda for Aug. 6, is laudatory.

Although the amendment's chances of passage are also slim, it's worth fighting for. A strong leader finds ways to build coalitions to get where he wants to go. The mayor's time would be well spent the next several weeks trying to find six commissioners who'll vote his way Aug. 6.


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