Originally created 08/07/02

End to coliseum panel sought



Retiree Mildred McDaniel will replace downtown businesswoman Bonnie Ruben on the Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority, but she might not serve for long.

During Ms. McDaniel's appointing at Tuesday's Augusta Commission meeting, Commissioner Bill Kuhlke said the authority should be abolished, calling operations at the civic center "a disaster."

Mr. Kuhlke asked City Administrator George Kolb to develop a plan for the city to run the civic center and Bell Auditorium. Pending commission approval, the plan will be presented to Augusta's legislative delegation in late November or early December.

No action could be taken until next year's legislative session.

"The authority is running business out of Augusta," Mr. Kuhlke said "We've got a sad situation that needs to be corrected."

Civic center leadership has crumbled in recent months, starting with the exodus of private management company SMG in May. Since then, the board attorney resigned under pressure, the general manager was fired, one authority member quit and the board's chairman resigned his post.

Now the board is fractured over the issue of how much to refund the North Georgia United Methodists for a bungled convention in early June, and Augusta Stallions owner Frank Lawrence is demanding a new contract for his arenafootball2 league team by Sept. 1 or he will "suspend operations."

Authority member Fred Reed said he doesn't think the board can cope.

"We can't get anything done - not with things the way they are now," he said. "If the commission wants to abolish the authority, that's just fine."

Reach John Bankston at (706) 823-3352 or john.banks@augustachronicle.com.