Originally created 06/14/05

Fence may go around court



An Augusta Commission committee sent a request to fence in the federal court complex to the full commission without a recommendation Monday.

A committee also advised coordinators of the Saturday Farmer's Market to be more inclusive when deciding which vendors may rent space at the market.

Members of the Engineering Services Committee balked at agreeing to enclose the federal court complex, including the new Bankruptcy Federal Annex, within a wrought-iron fence.

Commissioner Andy Cheek said he could not see closing the complex off to the public.

"This is the federal court, not the Imperial Court," he said.

Commissioners had previously approved closing a portion of Walker Street between Eighth and Ninth streets, East Ford Street and West Ford Street.

Now, as part of overall security for U.S. District Court, U.S. Attorneys Office and U.S. Bankruptcy Court personnel, court officials want the General Services Administration to erect the security fence around the complex and modify street areas and sidewalks within. In addition, the court wants the area to be secured by the U.S. Marshal Services, the General Services Administration and the U.S. Courts.

Mr. Cheek said that Augusta can put up barricades and block off streets as has been done in Washington, but that the Augusta courthouse is not the White House. He said the area around the courthouse was supposed to have some green space to complement the fountains.

"Now, we're going to have Casa de Courthouse," he said. "Now, we're asking you to drive by and look at but don't touch it."

Commissioner Willie Mays said there might need to be some discussion about the final federal court complex.

"But I think, it's probably safe to say that in the very end, the federal authorities are probably going to get their way," he said. "Let's be very honest about that."

Also Monday, the Administrative Services Committee heard from an Augusta resident who wanted to rent space to sell her crafts but was turned down by the Main Street screening committee.

Brenda Hickman brought samples of her handiwork, small handmade decorative pillows, each of which had a greeting card attached on top. Commissioners, who made the market possible by allocating $50,000 to it this year, apparently thought the pillows were charming and quizzed Main Street market coordinator John Cashin about why Ms. Hickman had been turned down.

Mr. Cashin said he thought it was because the greeting cards weren't handmade, so the event's screening committee decided they shouldn't be sold at the market.

Committee Chairman Bobby Hankerson and Richard Colclough advised Mr. Cashin and other Main Street officials to be more inclusive.

Commissioner Willie Mays asked them if they were still in need of vendors, and Mr. Cashin said yes. Mr. Mays then told them that until they get so crowded they need to move to another street, they need to fill up the space with vendors.

Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228 or sylvia.cooper@augustachronicle.com.

In Other Action

Augusta's Administrative Services Committee agreed to give Richmond County Marshal Steve Smith a raise Monday.

Committee members voted to raise Marshal Smith's annual salary by $11,010, to $76,000. He has not had a raise since 2000, although his responsibilities have increased to include building security for the Municipal Building, the Law Enforcement Center and Augusta Regional Airport.

The full commission must approve all committee actions before they become effective.