Originally created 09/23/05

Leaders play consolidated name game



What's in a name?

A lot, Columbia County's constitutional officers and elected officials said Thursday, if the name includes the word Augusta.

"What about West Augusta?" Columbia County Commission Chairman Ron Cross asked, referring to the possible name of what could be a new consolidated Columbia County government.

Mr. Cross said using Augusta in the name would help Columbia County capitalize on the city's notoriety.

Most other officials at the meeting, including Columbia County Sheriff Clay Whittle, couldn't have disagreed more.

"I'd be willing to bet you that if you bring that name together like that in Columbia County, whoever's idea it is to do that will have a short-lived political career from that point forward," the sheriff said.

The name game came up at a Thursday meeting between county commissioners and constitutional officers meant to explain how consolidation will affect them and to get their input.

County commissioners voted Tuesday to proceed with an incorporation of the Evans/Martinez area, and to then consolidate it with the county government.

"The name is going to be an emotional issue," Superior Court Judge Michael Annis said.

Other names also were kicked around at the meeting, some made jokingly, others made for serious consideration. District Attorney Danny Craig jokingly offered "Crosstown'' as a possible name in honor of the commission chairman.

"People will ask you from Atlanta where you live and you could say Crosstown," Mr. Craig said with a laugh, after also jokingly suggesting "Ford'' and "Andersonville'' for other commissioners.

Then there were the serious ideas, including Columbia City, Columbia City-County and Evans.

"What's wrong with Evans?" Columbia County probate judge and county historian Pat Hardway said. "That was one just voted 32nd best place to live.

" ... I like that much better than anything associated with Augusta."

Reach Valerie Rowell at 868-1222, ext. 110 or valerie.rowell@augustachronicle.com.

Now that Columbia County commissioners have voted in favor of an incorporation of the Evans-Martinez area and consolidation with the county government, the issue will go before the legislative delegation. If the delegation agrees, it could present the idea to the Georgia Legislature to place it on a referendum as early as July.