Arena calls on Roberts again

Linda Roberts can do what a lot of men have tried to do and failed: Run the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center without running afoul of the governing board.

The petite grandmother has taken on the job of interim general manager six times since 1994, the latest being after General Manager Robert "Flash" Gordon was fired March 7.

Since then, she hasn't had a day off but has gotten the job done, this time in the middle of the Augusta Lynx hockey season and the kickoff of the Augusta Colts arena football season. And that's why members of the Coliseum Authority, the entertainment complex's governing board, have confidence in her.

Though the politically appointed authority members often disagree on topics ranging from policy to personnel, they seem to be unanimous in their praise of Mrs. Roberts.

Members Mildred McDaniel and Keith Brown consider her to be the best general manager and assistant general manager -- the title she normally holds -- in the country.

"She's fantastic," Mr. Brown said. "She is the most knowledgeable, hardest-working, sincere employee down there. She is also fair. She really is."

"She knows arena management," Mrs. McDaniel said. "She is a detail person. She documents everything. She has a phenomenal memory. If you ask her anything, if she doesn't know, she will go to the files and pull it out."

Other qualities that keep Mrs. Roberts in good stead are her levelheadedness and even temper, Mrs. McDaniel said.

"She treats everybody the same," she said. "She's a kind person, and she has the utmost respect for everybody."

Member Booker Roberson called Mrs. Roberts "the backbone" of the civic center.

"She knows it inside out," he said. "More people know her than they do the general manager. She's an asset to the civic center."

Freddie Sanders and Richard Isdell agree that Mrs. Roberts is very capable.

"She's good for the job," Mr. Isdell said. "She's got the knowledge and experience."

Mrs. Roberts, 49, was hired as civic center office manager in 1991. She is an Augusta native and a Paine College graduate, holding a degree in business administration with an emphasis in accounting. She was paid $24,000 a year as bookkeeper. As interim manager, she makes $75,000 a year.

On a recent Friday afternoon, she was on the phone with a promoter who wanted to know why he had to send more deposit money to hold show dates for next year. Mrs. Roberts patiently explained the board's decision to require the deposit and told him she had already had three other promoters ready to schedule those dates. As soon as she hung up, she started checking employee payroll checks and handing them to the finance director until the phone rang again.

She's not likely to get any relief until the authority hires a new management company, which could take several months.

When asked during a brief lull why she didn't just apply for the job permanently, she smiled shyly and said, "You know why."

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

LINDA ROBERTS

POSITION: Interim general manager of the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center

AGE: 49

EDUCATION : Degree in business administration with an emphasis in accounting from Paine College