More people are moving to small city

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Hephzibah city leaders have a simple explanation for last year's population growth spurt: They built it, and they came.

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Hephzibah is the only part of Richmond County to record significant growth.  Annette M. Drowlette/Staff
Annette M. Drowlette/Staff
Hephzibah is the only part of Richmond County to record significant growth.

"It is the (housing) availability and the fact that lots have a little more room on them," said Martha Allen, Hephzibah's city clerk.

Hephzibah gained 107 people from July 2006 to July 2007, and fellow small town Blythe added three, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates released last week.

Those were apparently the only gains Richmond County had last year. Consolidated Augusta-Richmond County lost 79 residents -- making for a slim net increase of 31.

In Hephzibah, the key to growth has been new neighborhood developments that don't detract from small-town living. The 4,434 residents of Hephzibah don't pay city taxes, another factor local officials said is contributing to population growth.

"I think people are trying to get out of the hustle-and-bustle and get into a quieter place," Mrs. Allen said.

Subdivisions built in the Storey Mill Road area and off Farmers Bridge Road, such as Spread Oak Plantation and Oak Ridge Plantation, are attracting home buyers who are new to Hephzibah, residents and city officials said.

Four years ago, Walter Barton said he heard rumors that someone planned to buy an 80-acre tract off Storey Mill Road and turn it into a mobile home park. Wanting something better for his hometown, Mr. Barton stepped in and purchased the land from International Paper Co.

He then developed a new neighborhood in Hephzibah, New Hope Estates. It has 66 lots averaging one acre each and 14 finished houses, Mr. Barton said.

"What people like is the privacy and quietness of the road," Mr. Barton said.

New Hope, which backs up to an old logging road, has attracted retirees, Fort Gordon personnel and professionals, he said.

Angela Malone and her husband, Mark, moved to New Hope two weeks ago. Mrs. Malone's family outgrew their south Augusta home and liked the smaller neighborhood they found in Hephzibah.

"We came from a very large subdivision, and we wanted to move to a smaller place with less people," she said.

With more people comes more demand on city services.

"Call volumes for fire are up, water usage is up, and there is more traffic," said Robert Buchwitz, the chairman of the Hephzibah City Commission.

Mr. Buchwitz said the city plans to expand its sewer system and add infrastructure along Highway 88 to support future development near the town center. Also, a new fire station is being built with a training center that could serve as a community center.

"This is the only area to the south to grow," he said. "This is where the growth will be."

The growing population is not affecting Hephzibah's small-town ambience, residents say. The town doesn't have a major grocery store or restaurant yet.

"People come to my house to look at the stars," said Mr. Barton's wife, Becky, who lives on Storey Mill Road. "It is going to stay that way.

"Hephzibah has the future on the brain, but they want to do it right and not jump into anything," she said. "We would rather go to town than town come to us."

Reach Meg Mirshak at (706) 828-2946 or margaret.mirshak@augustachronicle.com.

WHAT'S IN A NAME?


Hephzibah was originally called Brothersville, but it was renamed for the Hephzibah Baptist Association, which established a high school in the town in 1860, according to Georgia Place Names. The word "Hephzibah" comes from the Bible and means "My delight is in her."

Source: Augusta Chronicle archives

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No_Longer_Amazed
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No_Longer_Amazed 07/16/08 - 10:14 am
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I wish they would change the

I wish they would change the name back to Brothersville so that people wouldn't get it confused with the incorporated portion of Augusta-Richmond County that use the 30815 ZIP code.

mentalrxtech
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mentalrxtech 07/16/08 - 11:20 am
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I love living in Hephzibah

I love living in Hephzibah just hate the stigma that goes with it! I'm not from Georgia so I didn't realize what people thought of it but it is a great little town if you are in the right parts!

i.b.e.w..electric
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i.b.e.w..electric 07/16/08 - 11:45 am
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i grew up in hephzibah,i

i grew up in hephzibah,i remember the old days when i would sit and listen to the old timers tell their stories of days gone by sitting on a bench in front of reeves country store,everybody knew everybody and everybodies business.if you needed your nieghbor they were there for you. but like everything these days time changes all,the old men and reeves store are long gone,nieghbors could care less who thier nieghbors are,and if you need help you better call on someone else.the charm that was once hephzibah is no more.i never thought i would live to see the day that a liquor store would be tolerated in hephzibah.

me too
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me too 07/16/08 - 12:05 pm
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I just went through that area

I just went through that area to see a house off of Corley - it's very quaint. I had no idea it even existed before this week.

Ron Martin CPP
2
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Ron Martin CPP 07/16/08 - 01:42 pm
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The bumper sticker reads: "I

The bumper sticker reads: "I rather be at six silos over Hephzibah". (It hangs in my office) I rather be in Hephzibah, GA than Woodbridge, VA. I moved to Northern VA to take a job. The quality of life here is not as honest and respectful of human dignity as we were exposed to in Hephzibah. I own property on HWY 88 and in Storey Mill Plantation. I plan to return and resume my support for the Hephzibah Police and Fire Chiefs. Hephzibah is the best kept secret in Georgia!!!!

motivatedinhepzibah
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motivatedinhepzibah 07/16/08 - 04:18 pm
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Yeah if south augusta is

Yeah if south augusta is going to see any explosive growth. Its going to come from the hephzibah, blythe, and mcbean area. They're building alot of upper middle class neighborhoods out here. I think with the new reactors going up at plant vogtle in burke county. Will only help attracting residents. Since that plant will have alot of job openings.

iletuknow
8
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iletuknow 07/16/08 - 04:56 pm
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Prozac comes in mighty handy

Prozac comes in mighty handy here!

stillamazed
1488
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stillamazed 07/17/08 - 07:27 am
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I think that that Hephzibah

I think that that Hephzibah got a bad reputation because all of the crime in south Augusta, people started to be scared of living out there. I do like that area though.

HippieChick
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HippieChick 07/17/08 - 11:23 am
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Born & raised in Hephzibah

Born & raised in Hephzibah other then having to spell it for eveyone in the outside world my entire life it's really not a bad place to live. My garndparents sold about a 100 acers w/ a stocked pond on Heph-McBean road and it's my undertsnding that another subdivison is going up there. Close to 25 & Heph-McBean Rd intersection. Anyone know where the name Hephzibah came from??? Hephzibah is a name in the bible which means the lord takes delight in us

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