Originally created 03/16/06

Connell drove River Watch to success



During the more than 30 years Jack Connell served in the state House of Representatives - most of that time as speaker pro tem, the No. 2 man - he always made sure Augusta got its share of state revenues.

Indeed, the lifelong Democrat was renowned for "bringing home the bacon," and the biggest piece of bacon he ever brought home was the $50 million to build the River Watch Parkway. It was no easy task.

Starting in the 1970s, Connell, a classic Southern gentleman from the old school, worked long and hard with other local lawmakers - using all his political connections and friendships in Atlanta to overcome disappointments and setbacks - to secure the funds to start construction in 1987 and eventually the parkway's opening in 1991.

River Watch has, of course, proved its worth - providing a convenient, scenic drive that relieves Washington Road of traffic to Columbia County - and no one deserves more credit for it than Connell. This point was eloquently made by a host of state and local dignitaries in ceremonies Tuesday dedicating the parkway to him.

State Rep. Ernestine Howard noted that her late husband, Henry Howard - who worked with Connell in the legislature to make the River Watch a reality - had urged that the veteran lawmaker be so honored. Connell received a lot of help from Howard and others to get the parkway built, but without the speaker pro tem's leadership it would never have been built at all.

Good work, Jack. You fully deserve those signs at each end of the parkway honoring your role in the project.