Originally created 11/05/02

Those who help community get write-in votes

Pat Carpenter is a North Augusta celebrity of sorts.

Mrs. Carpenter, by her own admission, is involved in every aspect of the city.

As if her seat on city council weren't enough, she also works as a teacher's aide at North Augusta Middle School, coaches two recreational teams per sports season, volunteers and works on various church committees at First Baptist of North Augusta.

To get her through the day, she relies on her personal philosophy - sleeping is a waste of time.

"I've always been involved in every aspect of my community," Mrs. Carpenter said. "I've lived here for 52 years, and I just love this city."

Her love for North Augusta and all-around zest for life earned Mrs. Carpenter an acknowledgement in The Augusta Chronicle's My Mayor nominations. It's Election Day, so we asked readers to nominate the people they would choose to be mayor. We wanted the people who really run the towns - the ones who are at every neighborhood meeting, the guy who greets everyone at the corner convenience store.

"Everyone in North Augusta knows Pat Carpenter, and Pat Carpenter knows everyone in North Augusta," said Laura Owings, Mrs. Carpenter's nominator. "(She) has a big heart and a great love for our city. Perhaps she should run for mayor one day."

But for Mrs. Carpenter, it's no big deal. She considers her work with the homeless, the countless hours she spends working with the handicapped and the lost free time she spends coaching recreational teams just part of who she is.

"I always tell the children I work with 'can't never could' and 'could would,"' she said. "I really push myself, but I couldn't do it without my wonderful family."

Like Mrs. Carpenter, Jim and Linda Locke - the only other nominees - say they couldn't stand the thought of tooting their own horn.

Good thing they didn't have to.

"Jim and his wife, Linda, are longtime residents of National Hills," said Tina Slendak, their nominator. "His love of this area is evident in all that he does to preserve and promote National Hills. Since his retirement (as owner of J&L Menswear), he has stayed very busy in neighborhood activities."

Besides being on the board of trustees for the National Hills pool and on the board of directors for the neighborhood association, Mr. and Mrs. Locke also are responsible for the new sign at the River Ridge Drive entrance to the neighborhood.

For the Lockes, who have lived in the neighborhood for 36 years, it was a way to spruce it up and pay tribute to their oldest daughter Brenda, who passed away three years ago Wednesday.

"This neighborhood didn't have any identity," Mr. Locke said. "Nobody knew where National Hills was."

"When (Brenda) passed away, I thought, 'I wish we could do something for (her),"' Mrs. Locke added. "I told Jim that we could do the entrance for her and he said 'You know, I was thinking the same thing."'

The Lockes had a sign built and landscaped the island that would become the new entryway. Now, in the place that was a bare space filled with weeds and dirt, stands a brick sign surrounded by lantana and beautifully manicured grass. On the sign, a small plaque marks a memorial to Brenda.

But their work doesn't end there.

With donations from the neighborhood association, the Lockes helped landscape a second island. Mr. Locke cuts the grass on each island every week, while the neighborhood association pays for the island's expenses.

He also used his new carpentry skills to build a new sign and entrance for the neighborhood pool. Last weekend, with the help of 63 volunteers, the Lockes helped collect 1,495 pounds of food and $659 for the It's Spooky to Be Hungry food drive for Golden Harvest Food Bank. The Lockes have also been members of National Hills Baptist Church for 30 years.

But the Lockes say everything they do for the neighborhood is just returning the favor.

"Our three children, Brenda, Kenneth and Sharon, grew up here and now our grandson, Mitch Locke, is growing up in National Hills," Mr. Locke said. "It gives me a sense of satisfaction to do what I can for as long as I am able."

But Mrs. Locke has other ideas about her husband and his sense of giving.

"I'll borrow something from a (political) commercial," she said. "He's just a good, good man."

Reach Jennifer Hilliard at (706) 823-3223 or jennifer.hilliard@augustachronicle.com.


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