We mourn the passing of James Brown. Only in death did he receive the recognition and honor due him from the place he called home.
In recalling his 40-year friendship with the Godfather of Soul, former Mayor Bob Young noted that when Mr. Brown was introduced during shows it was always with the question, "Are you ready for star time?"
"I can just imagine him at the gates of heaven being announced with, 'Is heaven ready for star time?'" Mr. Young said.
City Ink also mourns the cruel treatment of Mr. Brown's wife, Tomi Rae, and his son James Brown Jr., who were locked out of the Beech Island house after his death.
Whoever heard of such a thing? So what if it wasn't a marriage made in heaven? How many are?
HINDSIGHT IS 20-20, BUT FORESIGHT IS EVEN BETTER: From the sublime to the ridiculous, below are predictions from various folks about 2007.
Mayor Deke Copenhaver:
"Continued job growth. We've got so much interest from businesses looking to come into Augusta, I think we can look forward to some more big announcements next year. I think you can look forward to the commission working together better."
Bud Freeman, real estate agent "out on Wheeler Road":
"Marion Williams will be successful in getting a gay nightclub approved in the Augusta Corporate Park and his son-in-law, Mark Pugh, will make a killing selling Drag Snacks after all.
"Plans will begin to erect a statue of Dr. Charles Larke on Ronald Reagan Drive. The inscription will say that Dr. Larke single-handedly influenced the growth of schools and real estate values in Columbia County."
Phil Kent, former editorial page editor for The Augusta Chronicle and current national spokesman for Americans for Immigration Control. He predicts:
- The Augusta Commission will continue to be divided on major policy issues, but the good news is there aren't enough commission votes to mortally wound a still efficiently run operation providing police, fire and other basic services.
- The Richmond Board of Education will surprise everyone, after a national search, by hiring a highly qualified school superintendent.
- Good economic news will come from Southern Co. as it proceeds with a new nuclear generating unit at Plant Vogtle.
- Wealthy benefactors will announce an infusion of cash to raise the Augusta Ballet from the dead.
(By the way, some news: I'm going to be a grandfather in January! My son Philip Jr., who married Bebe Ballas (from the family that owns Luigi's) is expecting a baby boy.)
Augusta Commissioner Andy Cheek:
"We're going to see big new harmony and cooperation break out on the commission. We're going to see Augusta break the mold and move forward economically and create a business friendly environment. I'm going to lose 10 pounds and work out more often."
(Which one do you think is actually likely to happen?)
Michelle, an insider:
"Rumor has it, wait, a little reliable birdie informed me that a Richmond County State Court judge's position will be opening within a year or so. Don't forget that juvenile judge is up and running ... Where will the 'powers that be' side? The people throwing their hats in the Juvenile Court running may have to change their course of action. They may have to make new friends, new alliances. I see daggers, smear campaigns, alliances ..."
Mayor Pro Tem Marion Williams:
"I'm looking for a great year in 2007 for the city of Augusta. I think the commission is going to do even greater things. I'm going to seek the mayor pro tem job. There's a possibility I may be getting married. I'm not engaged yet."
Edmond "The Lurch" Kida, singer, guitarist, computer guru and part-time defender of the universe:
"With the loss of the possibility of a drag race strip in deep south Augusta, the county commissioners decide to do a feasibility study on a possible combination go-kart track/miniature golf course. Later they find that such a development exists in Columbia County but proceed further despite the protests from residents of the Richmond County side of West Lake.
"First Friday is pulled out from under the arm of the Downtown Development Authority. The DDA decides to begin their own event to be known as 'Third Wednesday.' After three months of this event and business owners claiming a depreciation of sales during the event, the DDA proclaims it a success."
Richmond County Legislative Delegation Chairman Quincy Murphy:
"The challenge will be funding. The funding for transportation, funding for health care. With those two items taking the majority of the state's revenue, it presents a major challenge for us."
Richmond County Democratic Party Chairman Lowell Greenbaum:
"I foresee the troops will be home from Iraq, the HOPE scholarship will have more money in it, and that the money being taken out of Peach Care will be put back. And I foresee there will be a new surge towards a performing arts center."
Richmond County Republican Party Chairman Dave Barbee:
"Augusta will see the Same Old Stuff in 2007 from the commission. Will not take steps to cut spending! Will do everything possible to create new revenue, by raising taxes and fees.
"The Augusta delegation in Atlanta will have little to do in Atlanta because everyone, except for State Rep. Barbara Sims, is on the 'outside looking in.'"
CITY INK'S 2007 PREDICTIONS: A big wind will damage the James Brown Arena after the people who were banned from camping out there Friday night put a curse on it just like the traveling preacher did on the Broad Street farmers market around 1878 when the city fathers wouldn't let him preach there. Shortly thereafter, a storm blew the whole thing away except for a pillar, now known as the Haunted Pillar.
Betty Beard will be mayor pro tem, and that will bring a big smile to her face, causing it to crack.
Charles Walker will get out of prison.
Augusta will have a first baby. Maybe twins. One will grow up to be an environmentalist, the other a captain of industry.
Mayor Pro Tem Williams will get engaged but then call the whole thing off when he finds out the bride-to-be is allergic to his German shepherds. It wouldn't have lasted anyway, because he always has to have the last word.
It will snow in Augusta on Jan. 15. Maybe that's Jan. 25.
The mayor will continue to be the darling of all the old ladies who call him about their garbage pickup and drainage problems.
Andy Cheek will get a contract to do Mr. Clean commercials.
Moses Todd will give up his six-figure job working on a power plant in Council Bluffs, Iowa, to run for a seat on the Augusta Commission.
Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.