Originally created 03/15/03

House will discuss renaming River Watch



ATLANTA - Augusta's River Watch Parkway is on Monday's agenda for the Georgia House of Representatives as it considers whether to rename the road for former Rep. Jack Connell.

The measure, written and introduced by Rep. Henry Howard, is co-sponsored by Speaker Terry Coleman and recognizes Mr. Connell's 34 years of service in the House.

During the past 26 years, Mr. Connell served in the second-highest-ranking post as speaker pro tempore, longer than any other legislator in the country. Mr. Connell and Mr. Howard are Augusta Democrats, and Mr. Coleman is a Democrat from Eastman.

Republican Rep. Sue Burmeister, whose Augusta district contains most of the parkway and all of the residents and businesses along it, objects to the change.

As a member of the House Transportation Committee that dealt with the resolution, she argued that it would be cheaper and less disruptive to leave the name and simply erect a couple of signs noting that the road was dedicated to Mr. Connell.

"I haven't had a single constituent say they favored changing the name," she said.

Changing the name would cost the Department of Transportation as much as $8,000 in signs, and businesses would also have the expense of changing letterhead and other printed materials.

Mr. Howard said he hasn't heard anyone opposed to the name change. Even if opponents contacted him, he said, "it should influence me, but I'm not going to say it would change the way I feel."

If the House passes it, the measure will require a Senate vote before going to the governor's desk for his signature.

Reach Walter C. Jones at (404) 589-8424 or wjones@morris.com.