CADI teams proud of cleaner downtown

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They have no super powers, but on foot, Segway or bike, Augusta's men in green have become the superheroes of downtown.

Since late March, the Clean Augusta Downtown Initiative members have been community watchmen and annihilators of dirt and trash from Reynolds Street to Greene Street. The men, known as caddies, do everything from assist police with car crashes to suggest the best dish at a downtown eatery, said Richmond County Sheriff's Lt. Scott Gay.

They have helped make downtown safer and cleaner, he said. Caddies seek out suspicious people lingering downtown, dissuade panhandlers, spot abandoned cars and make many other reports to the sheriff's department daily, Lt. Gay said.

"They are the eyes and ears of the inner city," Lt. Gay said, adding that he had no statistics on the actual impact the caddies have had on downtown crime. "I think they've done well reporting crime and being seen. They've cleaned up the inner city tremendously."

Downtown property owner Coco Rubio agreed. He co-owns two bars on Broad Street: Soul Bar and Sky City.

"I see them during the day all the time, and that's important for them to have that visibility," Mr. Rubio said. "Seeing the caddies around improves the whole impression of downtown."

On an average day, about six caddies, made up of safety ambassadors and green team members, work from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., said CADI project manager Jessica Fuselier. Safety ambassadors direct tourists to hot spots downtown, check on businesses and patrol the area, Ms. Fuselier said. Members of the green team pick up trash, steam clean the sidewalks and streets, do weed control and take care of other maintenance needs.

"These guys work on the hottest days of the month, and they take some breaks, but they do whatever it takes to keep downtown clean," she said.

The green team has helped collect close to 40 tons of trash and have found dozens of graffiti pieces tagged on downtown businesses, Ms. Fuselier said.

Zhivago Ramsey, a lead worker on the green team, said cleaning up downtown has been rewarding.

"I remember pressure washing Broad Street one time," he said. "It was all black from dust and dirt. When we cleaned it, it looked like brand new concrete. I like that we can do this job, and look back and see what we've done."

Safety ambassador Darrell Rivers said the thrill of his day goes beyond riding his nifty Segway.

"Just knowing that you helped someone feels good," he said. "I try to put a smile on everyone's face."

Though the safety ambassadors assist police during late-night events such as the Payback concert and First Fridays, they primarily work during the day, said Margaret Woodard, the executive director of the Augusta Downtown Development Authority, which spearheaded the CADI project.

The safety ambassadors will begin working from 2 to 10 p.m. every weekend starting Saturday, Ms. Woodard said.

Funding for the program comes from the Business Improvement District, which includes 30 downtown blocks, she said. The property owners in that area pay an additional tax assessment to fund the cleanup and safety services. The service costs $370,000 a year; the assessment will bring in about $400,000 annually, she said.

The property owners have put their money to good use, Ms. Woodard said.

"It just makes downtown more personable for people," she said. "On top of that, we went from the perception of a filthy downtown to a safe and clean downtown."

Reach Stephanie Toone at (706) 823-3215 or stephanie.toone@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (11) Add comment
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Reality
3
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Reality 08/22/08 - 05:43 am
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At first I thought they were

At first I thought they were volunteer, not to diminish their progress. The low risk inmates should keep Augusta-Richmond County spotless we are already paying for them...

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
9175
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ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 08/22/08 - 06:33 am
0
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Reality, you need a check!

Reality, you need a check!

jgdarling
3
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jgdarling 08/22/08 - 06:53 am
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Smart move by DDA and

Smart move by DDA and downtown property owners to make this happen. I hear good things about the CADI project when downtown.
Hope it can expand to cover more areas.

Safe at Home
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Safe at Home 08/22/08 - 08:40 am
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If they are so good at

If they are so good at keeping things in top shape why did the local TV stations do a piece on the missing sidewalk gutter covers and no one seemed to know they were missing except the folks who have to walk on that downtown street including a blind man who fell because the covers had been stolen for scrap?

KingJames
10
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KingJames 08/22/08 - 09:03 am
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Good job at thinking outside

Good job at thinking outside the box DDA. Safe at Home, is it possibe that the gutter covers were stolen between CADI shifts, like late at night when the theives would not be seen? Is it also possible that the blind man fell before Caddis got to work the next day? I'm just trying to consider all possiblities here instead of pointing out one flaw in this program. The Caddies seem to add an extra sense of security and cleanliness to the city. The best part about it is the people who really benefit from the program are the ones paying for it.

WhatNow
35
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WhatNow 08/22/08 - 09:49 am
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I work in the downtown area,

I work in the downtown area, and see these guys very often. Every time I have observed them, they have been moving about and appear to be doing some good. I applaud the idea, and the efforts of the guys doing the job. I initially thought this idea was quite a joke, but my opinion has been changed. I agree with the thinking outside the box statement. We need more thinking outside the box, if this city/county is going to move forward from it's current state.

SargentMidTown
8
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SargentMidTown 08/22/08 - 09:58 am
0
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There was a robust "homeless"

There was a robust "homeless" population wandering about downtown Augusta. They were an untapped resource. If each one of them would pick up a piece of trash instead of throwing trash we would have a spotless city. Unfortunately the "homeless" have been moved to the Harrisburg neighborhood. They want ten dollars an hour to do anything. They have got good. If anyone would like to open a "ministry" to be able to get free federal grant money please let me know, Sincerely, The Reverend SergentMidTown

Newsreader
11
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Newsreader 08/22/08 - 11:01 am
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The TV story I saw had a

The TV story I saw had a segway in the background, and I could not figure out who it belonged to. Could it be that there was a safety ambassador there and the report he made brought out the press? Of course when asked why they were not replaced, the responsible County department would deny knowing about them and blame the thief. I knew when I saw the story that someone had stolen them for metal. Replace them with wooden, plastic, or weld the metal down or expect to replace them again real soon.

voluptuously_auburn1
0
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voluptuously_auburn1 08/22/08 - 01:42 pm
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It's my hope that shining a

It's my hope that shining a spotlight on this and other organizations doing positive things in the downtown area will continue to move the effort of Downtown Revitalization forward. More and more people are realizing the effort is working and crime is being pushed away from the Downtown area or so it seems by those of us working, living and hanging out Downtown.

North Richmond County
0
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North Richmond County 08/22/08 - 02:05 pm
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Downtown is getting better

Downtown is getting better and better everyday. Keep up the good work.

Venus
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Venus 08/22/08 - 02:11 pm
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Thes guys are great! They

Thes guys are great! They are always working and very nice young men. Keep up the good work.

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