News Line for Augusta

Alvin Mason says experience on Augusta Commission would be asset if elected
Two-term Commissioner Alvin Mason touts his experience on the sometimes-fractured Augusta Commission as an asset, not a liability, that he’ll bring into the mayor’s office if elected May 20.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree announces downtown Augusta policing unit
Business owners are hopeful that a plan unveiled Thursday by Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree will change the perception of a dangerous downtown.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Senate, mayoral candidates tout qualifications in east Augusta
Augusta candidates for mayor and state Senate faced a skeptical crowd at a Thursday forum in east Augusta.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Judge denies request to delay May 20 special purpose local option sales tax referendum
A Superior Court judge denied a request Wednesday from a Richmond County citizen seeking a court order to postpone the May 20 special purpose local option sales tax referendum.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Augusta pensioners eye benefit increase
With an eye on the millions of dollars remaining in the city’s oldest pension funds – its 1945 and 1949 plans – a handful of retired city and county employees are reviving a push to increase their monthly benefits.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Centennial of iconic Archi­bald W. Butt Memorial Bridge cues renovation
Downtown Augusta’s Archi­bald W. Butt Me­morial Bridge is not just another historic landmark.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Augusta mayoral candidates discuss contributions to arts
Supporting Augusta arts programs gave five mayoral candidates different material to talk about at a forum Monday.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

First female officer makes waves in Hephzibah
It only took one day for Emerald Hambrick to prove her value to the Hephzibah Police Department.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Sales tax funds fall short for road, drainage work
Fifty-million dollars from the next special purpose local option sales tax won’t go very far toward repairing Augusta’s aging roads and drainage system.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Davis raises most money among mayoral candidates
Sen. Hardie Davis maintains a healthy fundraising lead over Augusta’s other four mayoral candidates in the latest campaign financial reports due with Richmond County Board of Elections.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Committee gives Gold Cross Augusta EMS zone
Gold Cross EMS won an administrative victory over Augusta Fire Department on Thursday when a regional committee voted to give the ambulance company exclusive access to Augusta calls for emergency medical transportation.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Council to revisit November selection of area EMS 'zone provider'
At a called meeting, the zoning committee of the East Central Georgia EMS Council is expected to reconsider the council’s Nov. 15 recommendation by a 10-8 vote to designate the Augusta government as “zone provider” in the EMS zone that spans Augusta-Richmond County.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Augusta contracted storm cleanup cost rises to $16.4 million
The price of contracted cleanup behind Winter Storm Pax crept higher Tues­day, to $16.4 million, while some areas of the city probably won’t be com­pletely free of storm debris before Masters Week.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Augusta mayoral candidates discuss race, taxes and development
Race and money took center stage at a Tuesday forum for the five candidates for Augusta mayor.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Airport continues effort to sever ties with city
The appointed body that governs Augusta Regional Airport is continuing a push to become an airport authority not subject to the Augusta Commission.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Census estimates: Richmond County population shrinking
Census estimates released today show that Richmond County’s population decreased by nearly 670 residents in 2013, again raising suspicion that Augusta’s status as Georgia’s second-largest city could be lost to Columbus by the end of the decade.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Augusta's 5 mayoral candidates participate in forum
In a first public forum together Tuesday, the five can­didates seeking to be Augusta’s next mayor sparred gently over job crea­tion, pushed a transit agenda and touted the skills and experience they’d bring to the mayor’s seat.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

City committee authorizes first phase of $3 million countywide demolition program
Thirty-six homes and other buildings funded for demolition by an Augusta Commission committee are just a start.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Demolition of unsafe properties to go before committee
Fifty-three burned-out, disintegrating and otherwise uninhabitable structures are included in the first step of a new push for demolition going before an Augusta Com­mis­sion committee today for approval.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Augusta rainy-day funds diminish
Augusta’s rainy-day fund made the news again last week as the Augusta Commission reached in for about $900,000 to allow the Richmond County sheriff to avoid a countywide 2.4 percent budget cut.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

City to begin final stage of debris removal
The multimillion-dollar effort to clean up debris from last month’s ice storm is entering its last stage.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Augusta debris removal requires additional $5 million
Citing debris totals that have more than doubled since February’s ice storm, city officials said Tuesday that an additional $5 million is needed for contract crews to complete the monumental cleanup job it began in Augusta three weeks ago.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Commission acknowledges revenue shortfall on renovation project if tax plan fails
Faced with few alternatives, five Augusta Commission members and the mayor waved through their approval of a $28.5 million bond issue to fund ongoing renovations at Augusta Municipal Building, although voters have not yet passed the revenue stream intended to service the bonds.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Urban Redevelopment Agency to meet with commissioners to discuss bond controversy
A bond issue that one commissioner is calling a bad deal returns for a third day of discussion Tuesday, this time with Augusta commissioners present.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Forums planned for five seeking Augusta mayor's post
It’s a short election season, but Augusta voters have several more opportunities to get to know the five candidates seeking the mayor’s seat May 20.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

4 of 5 hopefuls for Augusta mayor attend forum held by educator association
Four of the five candidates for mayor of Augusta took questions on numerous topics at a Thursday forum sponsored by Richmond County Association of Educators.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Augusta Municipal Golf Course tries to play through
Years of city government missteps, and more recently an ice storm, continue to plague Augusta Municipal Golf Course, the historic but scrappy city-owned course.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Augusta's Urban Redevelopment Agency panel again delays bond issue
The Urban Redevelopment Agency, charged with issuing a $28.5 million revenue bond to finance ongoing renovations at Augusta Municipal Building, on Friday held off approving the matter until members meet with the Augusta Commission on Tuesday.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Idea for local tech incubator presented for downtown Augusta
The success of a business tech incubator that has fostered dozens of startup companies in downtown Athens, Ga., served as an example to Augusta’s Downtown Development Authority of what could be emulated locally.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Transportation tax collections continue to lag behind
As tax collections continue to lag, state transportation planners say the bulk of construction work for special sales tax-funded road improvement projects won’t commence for at least another year.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Repayment issues remain for bond issue, URA board member says
Some members of the revamped downtown Urban Redevelopment Agency still have questions about how a $28.5 million bond issue will be repaid if Augustans don’t pass a new sales tax May 20, but expect the issue and a related agreement to pass anyway at a called Friday meeting.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

EMS council must revisit November decision to name Augusta 'sole provider' of emergency services
The state has rejected a regional council’s November decision to designate Augusta as “zone provider” of emergency medical services and informed the council it must reconsider the decision, as well as members’ potential conflicts of interest.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Richmond County officials, candidates oppose special purpose local option sales tax package
Augusta Commission members and candidates and mayoral hopefuls are speaking out against the $194 million sales tax package that will appear on the May 20 ballot.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Experts say Augusta tree canopy harmed by ice storm
Already weakened from a soggy summer, Augusta’s tree canopy sustained major blows during February’s ice storm and is now vulnerable to losing more limbs in coming months as warmer temperatures awaken insect borers from hibernation, experts say.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Augusta traffic chief named interim deputy administrator
The head of Augusta traffic engineering and a key player in the ongoing cleanup effort from last month’s ice storm was named the city’s interim deputy administrator Monday.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

SPLOST questioned at Augusta public hearing
The business of selling a skeptical Augusta on the city’s new special purpose local option sales tax got underway Monday.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Commissioners to speak on sales tax, stormwater fee
A neighborhood group will give three Augusta Com­mission members a forum to present their views on topics Monday.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

History will be made when Augusta's next mayor is elected
Though the “old city,” pre-consolidation Augusta elected a black county commissioner, Ed McIntyre, mayor in 1981, and former Augusta-Richmond County Commissioner Willie Mays served as interim mayor for six months after the resignation of former Mayor Bob Young, the 18-year-old consolidated government has never had an elected black mayor.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

14 candidates qualify for Augusta Commission election
Fourteen candidates set their sights on five Augusta Com­mission seats during last week’s qualifying for May 20 elections.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

District 6 to be five-way race for commissioner's seat
Augusta Commission District 6 will be a five-way race, and the consolidated government is almost certain to have its first elected black mayor with the close of candidate qualifying Friday.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Sales tax referendum clears procedural hurdle
Augusta’s special purpose local option sales tax referendum passed a final procedural hurdle Thursday with the Augusta Com­mission signing off on an agreement with Hephzibah and Blythe.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Former Augusta commissioner Aitken will not run for mayor
Former Augusta Commissioner Matt Aitken is out of the running for mayor of Augusta.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

6 more qualify to seek Augusta offices
Six more candidates filed qualifying paperwork Thursday to seek local nonpartisan elected office in Augusta-Richmond County.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Richmond County Commission gets update on Augusta's storm debris removal effort
Debris removal firm AshBritt Environmental has hauled more than 82,000 cubic yards of winter storm debris in the seven days since the firm started operations in Augusta on Feb. 26, and has at least 117,000 cubic yards to go, said Ralph Natale, director of operations for the monitoring firm hired to oversee storm cleanup.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

More candidates qualify for mayoral, commission races
Two more candidates for local office filed qualifying paperwork Tuesday in the Richmond County Board of Elections office.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Urban Redevelopment Agency panel delays bond issue
A reconfigured downtown agency declined to sign off on a $28.5 million revenue bond issue Monday after members questioned how the bonds will be paid off if voters don’t approve a new special purpose local option sales tax May 20.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Mason, Blocker-Adams sign up to run for Augusta mayor
There were no surprises Monday as 16 candidates who’d already announced plans to seek an Augusta elected office made it official Monday on the first day of qualifying.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Augusta Commission passes sales tax plan to pitch to voters May 20
In a process criticized for its breakneck speed, six Augusta Commission members on Friday approved a $194.3 million sales tax package to present to voters May 20.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Cyber general touts benefits of Fort Gordon growth
The commanding general of the Army Cyber Command said Thurs­day that over the next five years Au­gusta will become a “city of innovation and transformation” as thousands of soldiers and civilians flock to the area to develop new software and technology in defense of national security.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Mayor pushes for SPLOST OK today
The rush to get the Augusta Commission to approve a list of special-purpose, local option sales tax projects to submit to voters May 20 just got a little more hectic.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Mountains of tree debris to be converted to wood chips
Tree debris left in the wake of the historic ice storm towers stories tall at three designated disposal sites. More than 100,000 cubic yards of gigantic branches, limbs and chunks of tree trunks have been dumped there by trucks that are collecting debris from across the city.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

2 more candidates enter District 6 Augusta Commission race
Two more candidates have jumped in the race to represent Augusta Commission District 6 in south Augusta.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Mills proposal seeking $12 million, still no GRU interest in campus
The Augusta Regional Collaboration Project needs nearly $12 million to advance its “Mills District” proposal, with or without involvement by Georgia Regents University, according to ARC Executive Director Matt Kwatinetz.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Augusta 911 center workers answer the call, find themselves distressed
Every time Beverley Colson answers a call she’s often speaking with someone on the worst day of his or her life.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Aitken, Myles to run for mayor
Former Augusta Com­mis­sion member Matt Aitken and Lori Myles, a teacher at Josey High School, filed with the Rich­mond County Board of Elec­tions last week.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

More make case for sales-tax funds
The growth of a downtown theater district, development of a regional cancer center and badly-needed library repairs all stand to benefit the community greatly, the heads of four entities seeking funds from Augusta’s next special purpose local option sales tax told Augusta Commission members Friday.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Museum, others seek SPLOST funding
A handful of outside agencies seeking funding from Augusta’s seventh special purpose, local option sales tax met with an even smaller group of Augusta commissioners Thursday to detail what the entities plan to do with the funds.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Economic developers to woo defense contractors
The Augusta Economic Development Authority is planning a trip to Washington, D.C., this year to meet with defense contractors in an attempt to woo some of their operations to the region, enticing them with the move of the Army’s Cyber Command headquarters to Fort Gordon.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Government's search for new administrator begins
The search for Fred Russell’s replacement got underway Wednesday in a brief meeting between Augusta commissioners and John Maxwell, a consultant with Atlanta-based headhunting firm The Mercer Group.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

SPLOST lets residents vote on taxing selves
Augusta commissioners and interested residents are getting a crash course in “SPLOST” after Mayor Deke Copenhaver announced last month that Georgia Regents University is requiring the city have millions in matching funds in the bank by July or the state won’t begin construction of a new cancer center in downtown Augusta.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Storm cleanup costs rising
Augusta’s cleanup costs in the wake of the winter storm continue to mount.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

City set to approve borrowing $8 million for Georgia Regents University research center
An $8 million loan to help Georgia Regents University build a cancer research center and repay using future sales tax collections goes for Augusta Commission approval Tuesday.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Commissioners rally to help Augusta residents after ice storm
When the ice storm hit last week, bringing down trees and power lines and leaving most folks without heat or electricity, Commis­sion­er Joe Jackson was prepared.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Deal visits to survey damage in Augusta area
Two weeks after a winter storm paralyzed metro At­lanta, Gov. Nathan Deal said he was “very pleased” with state and local response to this week’s storm after observing the Au­gus­ta area from the air with the heads of Richmond and Columbia counties.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Numerous choices for voters on May 20
Area residents have more than a new Augusta mayor and a sales tax to vote on May 20.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Augusta arts groups request SPLOST funds for venues, cultural projects
Big visions for Augusta’s cultural arts scene are on the horizon, if taxpayers foot the bill. Renovating historic theaters, planning for new performing arts venues and infusing the city with sculptures and murals are among requests for money from the next phase of the special purpose local option sales tax.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Hephzibah, Blythe want more sales-tax funds
Hephzibah and Blythe are both asking for a larger share of Augusta’s new round of 1-cent sales tax revenue than in the past in order to fund projects their mayors say will accommodate expected growth in the region.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Augusta Commission seeks to narrow SPLOST projects to about $200 million
Police and prosecutors would be subjected to more scrutiny over how they use cash and property seized in criminal investigations under a bill that cleared the state House Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Augusta Commission sets work session to discuss SPLOST
A work session Thursday will serve as “SPLOST 101” for the Augusta Commission, which is faced with developing a sales tax package over the next six weeks despite most members having little experience with the funding mechanism.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Fred Russell won't run for Augusta mayor
After a much-hyped foray into the Augusta mayor’s race, former Augusta Administrator Fred Russell has backed out, his campaign chairman Duncan Johnson said Tuesday morning.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Advisory panel to appeal proposed cuts to sheriff's office
While the 2014 balanced budget approved by the Augusta Commission included across-the-board 2.4 percent cuts in all the consolidated government’s departments, lopping what amounts to nearly $900,000 from the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office will really hurt, a member of the sheriff’s citizen advisory board said.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

South Augusta rehab unopposed, gets planning panel's OK
A proposed upscale rehab facility for professionals once fiercely protested by neighbors in south Augusta sailed through the Au­gusta Planning Commission on Mon­day without a single dissent.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Leaders plan for traffic improvements to support Fort Gordon growth
Improvements to the Au­gusta area’s transportation network can’t come quick enough to support the projected growth of Fort Gordon, transportation officials and city leaders say.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Russell's mayoral run not welcomed by some Augusta commissioners
They’ve worked closely with him, some for seven years, but Augusta Com­mis­sion members have mixed feelings about former Ad­min­is­trator Fred Russell running for mayor.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Copenhaver looks at legacy in last city address
Making his final “State of the City” address Thursday, Mayor Deke Copenhaver outlined a legacy of creating jobs, building buildings, uniting the community and having an occasional regret.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Second Augusta Commission District 2 candidate announces run
Augusta pastor and businessman Cleveland “Cleve” Garrison announced Thursday he’s seeking the District 2 Commission post.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Area emergency operations officials pleased with storm preparations
Emergency operations officials for Richmond and Columbia counties said they were prepared for the winter storm that caused icy roads and dropped a couple inches of snow on the Augusta area by Wednesday morning.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Russell will announce run for mayor soon, campaign chairman says
Former Augusta City Ad­min­istrator Fred Russell is running for mayor, his campaign chairman, Duncan Johnson, said Tuesday.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Augusta Planning and Development gets go-ahead to hire 10 new workers
As most city departments have been asked to cut back, Augusta Planning and Development got the go-ahead from a city committee Monday to add 10 positions.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Rezoning for outlet mall at the Village at Riverwatch to go before planning commission
Plans to bring an outlet mall to the Village at Riverwatch will go before Augusta planning commissioners next week.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Overhaul of planning and development sought for Augusta-Richmond
A sweeping overhaul of the city’s planning and development department that some city leaders say is needed to help Augusta plan for the arrival of the Army Cyber Command at Fort Gordon goes before a commission committee Monday for review.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

$721 million in projects sought from sales tax
A proposed sales tax project list city leaders hope to include in a May 20 ballot referendum leaves much work to be done.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Cherry Tree Crossing closer to demolition
With boarded up windows, deserted streets and abandoned furniture piles, Cherry Tree Crossing is a shadow of its former self. About 75 percent of tenants have moved out of the public housing complex on 15th Street since the Augusta Housing Authority began vacating Cherry Tree Crossing last fall.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Johnson pushes new $100 million coliseum complex at campaign announcement
Augusta Mayor Pro Tem Corey Johnson is running for state Senate – but first, the two-term Augusta Commission member said he wants to help bring a $100 million coliseum and performing arts theater to the downtown riverfront.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

City matching funds not needed to fund new GRU cancer center
Augusta officials are scrambling to add $8 million in funding to help Georgia Regents University save more than $40 million in funding for a new cancer center. But a top state finance director said the money is already available and no matching funds are needed.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

May 20 Augusta elections set
A bill with the effect of moving Augusta’s mayoral and commission elections to May 20 was approved Friday by the Georgia House of Representatives.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Augusta Commission committee tweaks administator's job description
A committee of Augusta Commission members on Friday tweaked the job description being used to solicit applications for the consolidated government’s next administrator.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Dial announces candidacy for Super District 10 seat
Augusta attorney Brandon Dial on Wednesday became the first candidate to challenge incumbent Grady Smith for the Super District 10 seat on the Augusta Commission.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Commissioner Grady Smith to announce run for second term
Super District 10 Commissioner Grady Smith picked a south Augusta location to announce his plans to seek a second term on the Augusta Commission.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Pick for Augusta's interim city administrator is ‘grateful’ for call to help
Tameka Allen has led the city Information Technology department since 2001 and served double duty as a deputy city administrator since 2004.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Commissioner wants residency requirement for city employees
Augusta Commission member Marion Wil­liams thinks city employees who live outside Augusta-Richmond County are costing the county tax dollars.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Davis leads in mayor's campaign money race
State Sen. Hardie Davis has an early fundraising lead over Commissioner Al­vin Mason in the Augusta mayor’s race.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Jackson says he's not running for mayor, throws support to Russell
Count Joe Jackson out – and potentially, former city administrator Fred Russell in – in the election for Augusta mayor.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Deputy Administrator Tameka Allen named interim administrator
Deputy Administrator Tameka Allen is now officially in charge of Augusta’s government.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Commissioners to begin sales-tax discussion
Ideas are trickling in for how Augusta might spend millions in new sales tax dollars.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Federal halfway house hits snag
A petition to open a federal prison halfway house at Seventh Street and Walton Way has hit a roadblock.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Augusta Commission to work on next special purpose local option sales tax next week
It’s time again for Augusta leaders to decide which construction projects to ask voters to fund by extending the 1 percent special purpose local option sales tax.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

15th Street mural unveiled
The McTier family would like to think that if a picture is worth a thousand words, the 1,600-square-foot mural they painted along Rosa T. Beard Memorial Bridge is worth 10,000 words.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Augusta Commission's Corey Johnson pushing for 'college row'
As one of his final pursuits as mayor pro tem, Augusta Commission member Corey Johnson said he is pushing for the creation of a “college row” along Walton Way and surrounding areas between Summerville and downtown Augusta.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Augusta Commissioner Mason makes lowering levee a key plank in mayoral platform
With local elections likely just four months away, Augusta mayoral candidates are getting busy. One of them, Augusta Commissioner Alvin Mason, has made restoring downtown access to the river a priority.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Demolition permits up in Augusta
For the past year or so, the calls Shawn Hargis-Rhodes fielded for Augusta’s Planning and Development Department have increasingly been about one question: “Can I tear it down?”
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Historic group signs off on city IT plans, saving 19th-century court building
Augusta’s Historic Preservation Commission has approved modified plans for a new, 20,000-square-foot Information Technology building after the city’s previous proposal failed to meet preservation guidelines for the downtown historic district.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Mayor named acting Augusta administrator
Left with only one person in the administrator’s office come Jan. 1 and unable to agree on an interim administrator, the Augusta Commission appointed Mayor Deke Copenhaver on Tuesday as “acting administrator” to ensure the continued operations of government.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Commission expected to discuss Russell's interim replacement in closed-door meeting
Augusta commissioners will give further consideration to a severance package for City Administrator Fred Russell as well as who will serve as his interim replacement at a called, closed-door meeting Tuesday.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Augusta commissioners begin work of choosing new city administrator
Augusta commissioners have tough choices ahead on choosing the next city administrator after firing Fred Russell on Monday.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Planning and Development Director Melanie Wilson proposes sweeping changes to department
Backed by a consultant’s critical analysis set in motion before she was hired, Planning and Development Director Melanie Wilson proposed to the Augusta Commission on Thursday a sweeping reorganization of the department’s planning side, to include requiring a dozen employees to reapply for reclassified jobs, and the addition of 10 new positions.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Fire department eyes reserve firefighter program
Following the lead of fire departments across the state, the Augusta Fire Department has plans to introduce a reserve firefighter program.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Augusta Fire Department welcomes new recruits
Daren Flores adjusted the plastic firefighter’s helmet his daughter, Willow, wore as they waited for the start of the Augusta Fire Department’s Badge Pinning Ceremony.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Augusta Commission talks budget at Tuesday meeting
Augusta Commission members will again attempt to agree on how to balance next year’s budget, with or without tax increases, staff raises and other adjustments at a Tuesday meeting.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Augusta firefighters get new equipment, uniforms
The Augusta Fire Depart­ment sees room for improvement, so it’s updating uniforms to meet national standards and breathing new life into old equipment.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Augusta Regional Airport, Augusta Fire Department dispute over fire response continues
A yearlong legal dispute between Augusta Fire Department and Augusta Regional Airport aired some dirty laundry Monday after Augusta Commission member Donnie Smith raised the issue in a committee meeting.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Commission to discuss Fort Gordon bus route
City Administrator Fred Russell will present a “plan of action” for connecting Fort Gordon to the city bus system at today’s Augusta Commission committee meeting.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Garbage customers face fee increases in budget plan
A handful of fee increases lies ahead for garbage customers, many of whom are still smarting from the city’s tumultuous June transition to weekly pickup.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Preservation Commission again declines city's remodeling plans
If other property owners in downtown Augusta adhere to historic preservation guidelines, shouldn’t the city have to as well?
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Fort Gordon bus route proposed
Quentarus Brown, the general manager of Augusta Public Transit, has seen the lengths Fort Gordon soldiers go to in order to make a weekend trip to the mall or enjoy a night on the town.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Commission talks of raising taxes
Tempers flared and no decisions were made, but Augusta’s city administrator and commission are giving more lip service to the prospect of raising property taxes and imposing an excise tax on energy to balance next year’s city budget, which by latest estimates shows a $7.9 million deficit.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Harrisburg residents want city to target neighborhood litterers
Crime is down in Harrisburg. Now residents there want to clean up the streets – literally.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Third candidate announces run for District 4 seat
A retired Army command sergeant major is the third candidate to announce plans to seek the Augusta Commission District 4 seat next year.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Council names Augusta 'zone provider' of EMS service
Augusta narrowly maintained a level of control over its ambulance service Thurs­day when a regional council voted 10-8 to designate the consolidated government as the EMS “zone provider” in Augusta-Richmond County.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Consultant details work on arts project
Matt Kwatinetz, the Starbucks-affiliated consultant hired to lead Mayor Deke Copenhaver’s Augusta Regional Collaboration Project, outlined about 18 months of work he’s done toward growing downtown arts at a legislative luncheon held Thursday by the Greater Augusta Arts Council.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Commissioner Donnie Smith gives part of salary to charity
Augusta Commissioner Donnie Smith is giving away a fourth of his commission salary, providing a boost to five charities that do most of their work in Augusta-Richmond County.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Historic Preservation Commission continues to object city building plans in historic district
Demolition of a Civil War-era building, the plasticine exterior of a new data center and a garage fronting Greene Street are unacceptable changes to the city government campus, members of Augusta’s Historic Preservation Commission said at a Wednesday work session.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Excise tax, property tax hike not favored in Augusta budget discussion
More number-crunching, but still no real solutions emerged Tuesday for Augusta’s draft 2014 budget, which shows a deficit forbidden by Georgia law.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Sias announces campaign plans
Former Augusta Commission candidate and neighborhood activist Sammie Sias will announce his candidacy Friday for the District 4 commission seat.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Secondhand books, city TV, Heery contract go before Augusta commissioners
Thieves who try to sell stolen books in Augusta wouldn’t have to give a thumbprint or get their picture taken, but they would be videotaped and checked for ID by used book dealers, according to a revised secondhand goods ordinance going before Augusta commissioners today.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Battle expected over proposed excise tax
In what could become an annual fight, Augusta commissioners are again considering whether to levy an excise tax against the city’s numerous manufacturers to replace some of the revenue lost to a state sales tax exemption.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Group vows to continue smoking ban effort
A day after the sound defeat of a proposed tougher smoking ordinance by the Augusta Commission, the group pushing it was holding its weekly meeting Wednesday and planning to continue to advocate for it.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

3 seek to provide in Augusta EMS Zone
Current provider Gold Cross EMS and Augusta Fire Department each bid for the service, but joining the contest Wednesday was Priority Care EMS.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Augusta Commission rejects smoking ban
For the second time in less than two years, the Augusta Commission rejected a tougher ban on smoking in public places that would have included bars – stunning a large group of supporters of the ordinance.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Augusta Commission approves new designation to avoid 'slum' and target city-owned properties
Augusta commissioners voted 8-0 Tuesday to revamp a proposed designation of nearly 600 acres in the Central Business District as a “slum” in favor of a more limited project with more public input.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Industries oppose new tax; employees want better wages
Augusta commissioners got an earful from area industries and city employees at a first public hearing Tuesday on the proposed 2014 budget.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Commission considers smoking ordinance, designation Tuesday
Augusta commissioners will again weigh in on limiting smoking in public places and on designating the surrounding downtown area as a “slum” to encourage growth at a regular Tuesday meeting.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Augusta Commission often dips into reserves
If history is any guide, Augusta Commission members won’t resort to a tax increase to fill an $8.5 million budget shortfall.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Certain developments could be key to downtown's success
Downtown Augusta, once the hub of commercial vitality, is on a path back to success but the road ahead might be bumpy, according to key players in the downtown economy.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Forest Hills oak deemed unsafe
Gould Hagler, a 50-year resident of Au­gusta’s Forest Hills neighborhood, always thought the Darlington oaks that line the streets outside his Park Avenue home would outlive him.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Smoking ordinance moves to Augusta Commission
A proposed ordinance to ban smoking in bars in Augusta and other public places will be considered by the Augusta Commission without a recommendation after a committee voted Monday to send it along.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Transit upgrades would cost city extra $2.15 million
Plans to improve and expand Augusta Public Transit could cost taxpayers more than $2 million, city commissioners learned at a Monday committee meeting.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

'Slum' designation, smoking, cooling tower return to city committees
A revived debate on designating all of downtown Au­gus­ta a “slum” to renovate the government’s downtown campus and a renewed request by Augusta Riverfront for a shared air-conditioning tower highlight Monday agendas of Augusta Commission committees.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Georgia Regents University keeps campus consolidation plans open
A consultant ranked Au­gusta’s Mills District proposal last among options for the future expansion of Georgia Regents University. But university officials plan to start from scratch in an upcoming comprehensive master plan, which could put the mills back in play along with many other properties.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Historic concerns stall downtown government construction project
A massive renovation of the city government’s downtown campus hit another snag this week when the Historic Preservation Commission declined to approve several components, including the demolition of an annex building at a historic former synagogue.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Latest effort to hire "The Patch" manager under way
A push to privatize Augusta Municipal Golf Course turned a corner Thursday, with the city Recreation Department’s release of a new draft request for proposals from private firms or anyone who might make it profitable.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Forest Hill tree removal plan causes neighborhood turmoil
Forest Hills might lose another Darlington Oak, the prized evergreens whose sprawling canopies helped earn the subdivision a reputation as one of Augusta’s most charming residential areas.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

MCG Foundation expects to buy city bus depot by December
A deal transferring ownership of the Augusta Public Transit bus depot to the Medical College of Georgia Foundation is inching forward and expected to be finalized by December, according to James Osborne, the foundation’s president and CEO.
Source: Augusta Chronicle