It seems that an empty seat will be representing the Augusta Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau when the Columbia County bureau begins meeting Monday.
Columbia County also will no longer have a spot on Augusta's bureau, according to the Augusta board's chairwoman.
"In the bylaw restructuring (of the Augusta bureau), that will not continue,'' said Sandra Senstermacher, the Augusta bureau's chairwoman, referring to the recent deletion of a Columbia County member from her board. "We took the position that what we needed to do is fill a position with ... someone who really had that interest in Richmond County since the funding does now all come from Richmond County.''
At a recent Columbia County committee meeting, Commission Chairman Ron Cross announced to fellow commissioners that an offer for Augusta's bureau to have a seat on the newly created Columbia County agency's board had been declined.
Mr. Cross, who has been the Columbia County representative on the Augusta Metropolitan bureau, said the decline came from Ms. Senstermacher without the issue going to a vote.
"They didn't vote on it,'' Mr. Cross said. "A couple of them made a decision and just sent it to the board as information.''
Still, Mr. Cross said Friday that he wants to keep a seat open for Augusta on Columbia County's board in case officials change their minds.
"Our feeling is that we want to promote the region and cooperate with the region and we're going to leave the seat open,'' Mr. Cross said. "There's new leadership in Augusta. The mayor has expressed his desire to work more and closer with the neighboring counties. There's also a new administration at the (Augusta) CVB. They get a new chairman.''
Mr. Cross said the new chairman, David Jones, will take the position next year.
"I have had brief discussions with him that I wish they would reconsider this down the road, and he said they would certainly entertain that,'' Mr. Cross said.
Ms. Senstermacher said Friday she believes the Augusta bureau could better help Columbia County through efforts other than having a representative on its board. Those efforts, she said, could include being available to help Columbia County with such things as setting up a new brochure or a trade show.
Besides, she said, the Augusta agency's staff is keeping busy with several upcoming changes, including preparation for a new exhibit hall, revised bylaws and seven new members coming next year.
Mr. Cross, though, said the Augusta seat will stay open in the hopes of a change of heart by the Augusta bureau.
Reach Preston Sparks at 868-1222, ext. 115 or firstname.lastname@example.org.