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    Google News / 18.11.2017 20:42
  • AC/DC co-founder, guitarist Malcolm Young diesAC/DC co-founder, guitarist Malcolm Young dies

    Young co-founded the rock back with his brother in 1973. He stopped performing with AC/DC in 2014 after being diagnosed with dementia.

    WFXG / 2 h. 16 min. ago
  • AP sources: Trump Tower meeting in 2016 draws more scrutinyAP sources: Trump Tower meeting in 2016 draws more scrutiny

    AP sources: Congressional investigators asking 2 participants in 2016 Trump Tower meeting why they discussed the gathering in Moscow a year later.

    WFXG / 9 h. 23 min. ago
  • Trump campaign created own rules on sexual harassmentTrump campaign created own rules on sexual harassment

    While allegations of sexual harassment topple the careers of some men, Trump moves ahead unscathed as he writes his own rules.

    WFXG / 9 h. 33 min. ago
  • Charles GomanCharles Goman

    Charles Goman, 73, passed away November 14, 2017. A native of Augusta, Ga., he was a son of the late Clifford and Elsie Harper Goman, and was a member of Nazareth United Methodist Church.

    Augusta News / 13 h. 12 min. ago
  • Push for return of Georgia hate crime laws gaining traction ahead of new legislative year - WRDW-TVPush for return of Georgia hate crime laws gaining traction ahead of new legislative year - WRDW-TV

    WRDW-TVPush for return of Georgia hate crime laws gaining traction ahead of new legislative yearWRDW-TVAUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- It's a local push to bring back Georgia's hate crime laws for the first time in years and local groups say they have the support they need. It's been 13 years since a statewide hate crime law has been in place in Georgia ...and more »

    Google News / 13 h. 16 min. ago more
  • Darlington tops Aquinas to end Irish's season | The Augusta Chronicle - The Augusta ChronicleDarlington tops Aquinas to end Irish's season | The Augusta Chronicle - The Augusta Chronicle

    The Augusta ChronicleDarlington tops Aquinas to end Irish's season | The Augusta ChronicleThe Augusta ChronicleA potential Aquinas playoff run met the brick wall of Darlington's front lines Friday night.and more »

    Google News / 13 h. 17 min. ago
  • Augusta on Ice benefits in more ways than excitementAugusta on Ice benefits in more ways than excitement

    For weeks the elves have been working around the clock to turn the Augusta Common into a winter wonderland. Whether you've been naughty or nice, one thing is for certain Santa Claus is making his way to downtown Augusta starting Friday. FOX 54 was able to catch up with the first family that punched their tickets in for the festivities and the nerves were high for some. "Because it was my first time and I just learned to skate without the walker thing," says Eileen Cagle. ...

    WFXG / 15 h. 16 min. ago more
  • Burke Co hosts turkey giveawayBurke Co hosts turkey giveaway

    Burke County Sheriff’s Office partnered with A Child’s World Academy and Peach State Health Plan to provide free turkeys to families in need. Hundreds of residents came out to pick up their turkeys and express their gratitude to the Sheriff’s Office.

    WFXG / 15 h. 45 min. ago
  • US puts Palestinians on notice: DC office may be shutteredUS puts Palestinians on notice: DC office may be shuttered

    U.S. officials say the Trump administration is putting the Palestine Liberation Organization on notice that it may shutter their Washington office.

    WFXG / 16 h. 23 min. ago
  • NASCAR Crowns 2017 champion this weekendNASCAR Crowns 2017 champion this weekend

    The 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Series will be one that goes down as a benchmark in the series history. Let’s think about it.

    WFXG / 17 h. 58 min. ago
  • Burke County gets animal services; not all think it is a good ideaBurke County gets animal services; not all think it is a good idea

    BURKE COUNTY, Ga. (WJBF)– After years of talk, stray animals in Burke County will soon have a place to stay. For the first time, Burke County is starting up an animal services program to spearhead the growing issue. “A lot of people are really looking forward to having that as a county provided service: Somewhere where animals can go,” Peter Williams, Burke County’s new Animal Services Director said. He the role just two weeks ago, with 13 years of experience in the field. “We are working on a plan to build a shelter here, so that there is a place for animals to go,” Williams explained.  “We are also getting some ordinances. Writing and getting some ordinances passed.” Right now, there are no local ordinances for animals in Burke County. Williams said he plans to write ones that prevent dogs from going on other’s property, running loose in streets, and destroying property. “We do need those ordinances here,” Samantha Holton, Founder of Girard Lifesaver Dog Rescue told me. “That is going to cut down a lot on animals causing problems with citizens here. We desperately need an anti-chaining ordinance here. And spay/neutered funding from the county.” Holten explained she has been operating a licensed rescue in Burke County for 12 years, and she shelters 80 dogs at a time. “When I asked for funding to fix more animals in Burke County, they did not supply us that money,” She explained, “They gave us $2,000 to spay and neuter, which lasted a total of one month. That is how big the need is here.” Williams told me that he believes the root of this problem boils down to the lack of knowledge and consideration for others. “It’s not a matter of putting a cement slab down, and putting two walls up,” Williams said. “There’s planning that is involved in getting a shelter built.” I asked Williams how long animals will be able to stay in the proposed shelter until they are put down. He said he is not sure who will make that decision, but there is no set time frame, yet. “This is going to be a kill shelter, meaning, they hold animals three to five days,” Holton said. “If they don’t get out, perfectly healthy animals will be euthanized. I just pray for the dogs of Burke County, and I hope everything is going to be okay.” If you would like to donate to Girard Lifesaver Dog Rescue, visit their website http://www.girardlifesaver.or or call (706) 8718273.

    WJBF-Crime / 18 h. 16 min. ago more
  • Ultra-wealthy win in Senate tax bill, others face hikesUltra-wealthy win in Senate tax bill, others face hikes

    The ultra-wealthy do very well under a major Republican tax bill moving in the Senate, as they do under legislation passed this week by the House.

    WFXG / 20 h. 3 min. ago
  • Local organization in Augusta launches new initiative to provide beds for children in need - The Augusta ChronicleLocal organization in Augusta launches new initiative to provide beds for children in need - The Augusta Chronicle

    The Augusta ChronicleLocal organization in Augusta launches new initiative to provide beds for children in needThe Augusta ChronicleThe 7-year-old was one of seven relatives to get a bed as part of a new Greater Augusta Family YMCA initiative. “It's great,” Sincere said about the new bed Wednesday. “I don't have to share a bed with my grandma anymore.” The bed was one of 41 ...

    Google News / 20 h. 5 min. ago more
  • Former UNC student arrested in fire, explosion appears in court; victim says suspect needs helpFormer UNC student arrested in fire, explosion appears in court; victim says suspect needs help

    HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A former UNC student charged with starting a fire that resulted in an explosion on UNC’s campus made his first court appearance Thursday. Joshua Edwards spent several days in a hospital for mental evaluation following the incident on November 2. Deputies booked Edwards into the county jail late Thursday afternoon after a judge set bond at $200,000 and assigned a public defender to represent the 24-year-old. He faces charges of: Felony count of “malicious use of explosives to inflict injury” Felony count of “malicious use of explosives to damage property” Felony count of “assembling a weapon of mass destruction” Felony count of “setting fire to grass / grassland” Felony count of “assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury” Felony count of “filing a false police report” UNC astronomy professor Dan Reichart suffered severe burns while attempting to extinguish flames at the trunk of the legendary Davie Poplar tree at the university’s historic McCorkle Place. “The story is if the Davie Poplar falls, so does UNC,” Reichart said. “I wasn’t thinking about that at the time, but according to legend, I guess I have a small part in the legend now.” Reichart left his office to buy an ice cream and pick up his mail from the campus post office when he saw flames. He didn’t realize at the time that the tree on fire was the Davie Poplar. He said it was about 30 seconds of his way to walk over to see what was going on. “I just happened to be in the right place at the right time, or the wrong place at the wrong time, depending on how you look at it,” he said. “I was an Eagle Scout, so fire is something I’m familiar with. It was getting kind of big, but I didn’t think it was too big that I couldn’t stomp it out or kick it away from the tree. So I just approached it and started kicking dirt on it, trying to kick it away,” Reichart said. “But instead of dying down it got stronger and stronger, and very fast, and I was getting ready to step back because something wasn’t right. There was some kind of fuel source in there.” A student filmed Reichart as he stomped on the fire until suddenly, there was an explosion. The student’s cell phone panned away during the blast, and when it returned, Reichart was no longer in view. He’s seen the video and said he remembers taking two or three steps backward. However, he landed about 30 feet away. Reichart’s field of study is explosions involving stars, and some of his colleagues have joked that he should use this example in a lecture. “I know how far I was thrown, so we could figure out the force. I got burned on the back of my head, which means the fireball was faster than me. There’s all sorts of good physics we could do with that,” he said. “I can do it with a laugh. I’ve tried to keep a good attitude and some humor about this and I think it helps a lot.” His hands are still wrapped in gauze but his palms and fingertips are uncovered. He’s able to type and communicate with students and other faculty members, though his doctors will not permit him to return to campus until January due to concerns about infections. Reichart said he lost at least 10 percent of his skin. However, he no longer has to wear bandages on his head or neck, and he expects his hands to heal enough to be bare by the beginning of December. Reichart is ready to get back to work and he has already been able to forgive the suspect in this case, though he still wants a conviction and punishment. “I don’t hold any ill will against the person who set the fire. Clearly he’s suffering from some mental issues. I do believe he needs to get the help he needs, but he’s also going to have to be responsible for his actions,” he said. “I’m very fortunate in so many ways. The explosive could have had shrapnel in it. I could have inhaled it. All sorts of things could have gone far worse.” His recovery is going well, and he’s received a lot of ice cream in the two weeks since his initial walk to get some. Reichart is also trying to make what he calls lemon-aid from a bad situation. He is not allowed to shave while his face heals, so he is connecting his recovery with No Shave November. Participants in the fundraiser for cancer research solicit donations from friends as they grow mustaches and beards. Reichart and his wife donated $100 and set a goal of $1,000. At 5 p.m. on Nov. 16, donations to his fundraising page totaled $8,130.

    WJBF-Crime / 21 h. 23 min. ago more
  • Trump delays new policy on importing elephant partsTrump delays new policy on importing elephant parts

    The top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee says the Trump administration's decision to allow the importation of body parts from African elephants shot for sport is the "wrong move at the wrong time.".

    WFXG / 22 h. 40 min. ago
  • Two arrested in Burke County drug bust - The Augusta ChronicleTwo arrested in Burke County drug bust - The Augusta Chronicle

    The Augusta ChronicleTwo arrested in Burke County drug bustThe Augusta ChronicleDavid Austin Hammond, 46, and Stephanie Berlanger, 36, were stopped on Black Road in Sardis, Ga., as part of a narcotics investigation, and were found to be in possession of methamphetamine and a firearm. A subsequent search of the suspects' ...and more »

    Google News / 22 h. 47 min. ago more
  • Two arrested in Burke County drug bustTwo arrested in Burke County drug bust

    BURKE COUNTY, Ga. (WJBF) – Two people are behind bars after being stopped by investigators on Black Road in Sardis. 46-year-old David Austin Hammond is charged with Trafficking in Methamphetamine, Possession of Marijuana with the Intent to Distribute, Possession of Firearm during the commission of a Crime, and Obstruction of a Law enforcement officer. 36-year-old Stephanie Belanger is charged with Trafficking in Methamphetamine, Possession of Marijuana with the Intent to Distribute, Possession of Firearm during the commission of a Crime, and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted felon. The two were found to have methamphetamine and a firearm on them at the time of the arrest on Thursday. The Burke County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Division followed up the arrest with a search warrant of their house on Hancock Landing that night. Upon investigation, officers found more drugs, money and firearms, some of which were listed as stolen. Investigators listed the following items as being in the home: 56.3 grams of Methamphetamine 357.5 grams of Marijuana 3.5 grams of Shrooms 23 firearms (19 long guns, 4 handguns) $7,530 cash Sheriff Alfonzo Williams stated he is extremely proud of the work conducted by the Narcotics Investigators each day. “The reduction of drugs in our county helps to reduce violent and property crimes and we are aggressively tackling these problems each day.  Removing over 20 guns from the hand of criminals helps to make our community and the entire CSRA safer from those who deal drugs in the area.”

    WJBF-Crime / 23 h. 12 min. ago more
  • UPDATE | Commissioner: Proposed agreement between trustees and city over Pendleton King Park a "win-win" - WRDW-TVUPDATE | Commissioner: Proposed agreement between trustees and city over Pendleton King Park a "win-win" - WRDW-TV

    WRDW-TVUPDATE | Commissioner: Proposed agreement between trustees and city over Pendleton King Park a "win-win"WRDW-TVAUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- The agreement on the table between trustees of the Pendleton King Park Foundation and the city of Augusta in Thursday's meeting is being described as a "win-win" by Commissioner Dennis Williams. What was discussed at ...and more »

    Google News / 1 d. 0 h. 16 min. ago more
  • Fire victim's death being investigated as suspicious - WRDW-TVFire victim's death being investigated as suspicious - WRDW-TV

    WRDW-TVFire victim's death being investigated as suspiciousWRDW-TVAUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- The Richmond County Coroner's Office says a fire victim's death is being investigated as suspicious. Coroner Mark Bowen says on October 11th Tiquanya Jones was admitted to the Joseph M Still Burn Center with burns over ...Victim in Skinner Mill Road fire dies, death treated as suspiciousWJBF-TVall 2 news articles »

    Google News / 1 d. 2 h. 18 min. ago more
  • Victim in Skinner Mill Road fire dies, death treated as suspiciousVictim in Skinner Mill Road fire dies, death treated as suspicious

    AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – The Richmond County Coroner has confirmed the death of the victim of a fire that happened in October. Tiquanya Jones died Thursday at 11:39 a.m. at the Joseph M. Still Burn Center. Jones was admitted to the hospital with burns over 80% of her body. The fire was at a home on the 3100 block of Skinner Mill Road on October 11th. The case is being investigated as a suspicious death. Count on NewsChannel 6 for more details as they become available.

    WJBF-Crime / 1 d. 2 h. 25 min. ago more
  • UPDATE | Teen arrested after shooting on Shoreline Drive - WRDW-TVUPDATE | Teen arrested after shooting on Shoreline Drive - WRDW-TV

    WRDW-TVUPDATE | Teen arrested after shooting on Shoreline DriveWRDW-TVAUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Richmond County deputies have arrested a teen after two men were injured in a shooting on Shoreline Drive. Richmond County deputies say they have arrested 19-year-old Joseph Carson Strickland II. He is being charged ...and more »

    Google News / 1 d. 7 h. 5 min. ago more
  • As sex scandals topple the powerful: Why not Trump?As sex scandals topple the powerful: Why not Trump?

    GOP officials have suggested in recent days that Trump was wary of wading into issues of sexual impropriety given the previous claims against him.

    WFXG / 1 d. 8 h. 33 min. ago
  • Keystone pipeline leak won't affect last regulatory hurdleKeystone pipeline leak won't affect last regulatory hurdle

    The Keystone pipeline has leaked 210,000 gallons in rural South Dakota, but officials don't believe it has polluted water.

    WFXG / 1 d. 11 h. 24 min. ago
  • Some residents unaccounted for after huge senior center fireSome residents unaccounted for after huge senior center fire

    The fire quickly spread to multiple buildings, forcing residents to evacuate outside into the cold.

    WFXG / 1 d. 13 h. 4 min. ago
  • Suspect in custody after Mike Padgett shootingSuspect in custody after Mike Padgett shooting

      AUGUSTA (WJBF) – The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office have arrested a man in connection to a shooting on Shoreline Drive, off of Mike Padgett Highway. Joseph Carson Strickland II, 19, was arrested Thursday night. He is charged with aggravated assault and possession of a firearm, and is in custody at the Charles B. Webster Detention Center. According to Sgt. Shane McDaniel, two male victims were taken to Augusta University Medical Center for treatment. He says they were shot on Shoreline Drive and ran to 3866 Mike Padgett Highway where they were picked up. We do not know their condition at this time.

    WJBF-Crime / 1 d. 17 h. 39 min. ago more
  • Drastic spike in number of people killed after hit by carsDrastic spike in number of people killed after hit by cars

    Richmond County, GA (WJBF)—A drastic spike in the number of people killed from being hit by a car this year compared to last. The Richmond County Coroner tells NewsChannel 6, 11 people have been killed this year from being hit by a car while walking alongside or across Richmond County Roads. This is a stark increase compared to last year. One pedestrian was killed from being hit by a car in 2016. Richmond County Coroner Mark Bowen says the 2017 numbers are higher than usual. “We knew we were getting pedestrians struck, we just didn’t know it was that many,” says Coroner Bowen. “I mean we’ve had 11 in 2017, that’s a lot of pedestrians being run over.” Deans Bridge Road and Mike Padgett Highway have claimed 6 of the 11 lives—3 people killed on each. 5 of the 11 deaths have happened during the last 2 months. All 11 happened at night. For many, walking is the only option to get from point A to point B. Coroner Bowen says, in those cases, take extra caution. “Dark clothing—don’t wear dark clothing when it’s dark. That’s a given. Don’t try to beat that car. That car might be running faster than it appears to be. Some places may not have light. If it doesn’t, get kind of off the road a little bit,” Bowen warns. Most of us have probably done it—we cross the road where it is most convenient. However, let these 11 lives be a reminder to take the extra steps to a cross walk. “Most people cross the road where ever they come out of a building or get out of a car or whatever, instead of walking 50 feet to a crosswalk or walking an extra 100 yards to a cross walk.” Bowen advises, “Find a place that you’re supposed to cross.” Bowen finishes saying, those extra steps could be the difference in life or death. The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office says in all 11 of those cases, the accident was the fault of the pedestrian. None of the drivers involved in these incidents are facing charges. Deputies also say, although not always, alcohol is a factor in many cases.

    WJBF-Crime / 1 d. 19 h. 9 min. ago more
  • Thomson Fire Rescue raises money for area hospitalThomson Fire Rescue raises money for area hospital

    Although the boot drives Thomson Fire Rescue conducts to raise money for the East Central Regional Hospital in Augusta have ended, people still have the opportunity to help the firefighters bring holiday cheer to the patients. Thomson-McDuffie citizens may still participate in the Mayors' Christmas Motorcade and drop off cash and coins at the fire department headquarters on McCommons Street and also pick up a list items needed by the patients with developmental disabilities and behavioral health challenges.

    Augusta News / 1 d. 20 h. 27 min. ago more
  • Coroner: Pa. mom dies while trying to clean from son’s overdoseCoroner: Pa. mom dies while trying to clean from son’s overdose

    JOHNSTOWN, Pa. (AP) – Officials say a Pennsylvania woman may have died after coming into contact with drugs while trying to clean up from her son’s suspected overdose. Cambria County Coroner Jeff Lees tells WJAC-TV 69-year-old Theresa Plummer likely absorbed the substance through her skin or had a reaction that led to her shortness of breath. Plummer died at a local hospital Nov. 6. Her 45-year-old son was hospitalized the previous day after she found him unresponsive in their home near Johnstown. Ronald Plummer was pronounced dead Nov. 7. The coroner says he is waiting on toxicology reports for a cause of death. Lees says families in similar situations should call authorities to remove any substances left behind. Johnstown, Pennsylvania is about 65 miles east of Pittsburgh.

    WJBF-Crime / 1 d. 21 h. 43 min. ago more
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  • Operation Christmas Child kicks off in McDuffie Co.Operation Christmas Child kicks off in McDuffie Co.

    Kathy Hendrix, Dean Boone, Pam Partridge, Summer McDonald, Rev. Matt Ward and Jennifer Cheely cut the ribbon to officially kick off the collection period.

    Augusta News / 2 d. 1 h. 23 min. ago
  • Moore targets female accusers as critics decry intimidationMoore targets female accusers as critics decry intimidation

    The divide between the state and national GOP reached new depths late Wednesday as more allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced against Moore, an outspoken Christian conservative.

    WFXG / 2 d. 9 h. 24 min. ago
  • AdvanSix: Strong Results Through 2017 Bolster SharesAdvanSix: Strong Results Through 2017 Bolster Shares

    AdvanSix's equity has defied gravity since I exited my position back at the beginning of 2017, roughly doubling since I moved on to what I thought were greener pastures. The company had dealt with unfavorable supply/demand dynamics for many years, with massive supply for its chemical products coming online within Chinese borders, which is coincidentally the world's largest consumer of Nylon 6 resin and caprolactam as well - core AdvanSix products.

    Augusta News / 2 d. 17 h. 50 min. ago more
  • UPDATE | Potential buyer of Pendleton King Park responds; plans to ... - WRDW-TVUPDATE | Potential buyer of Pendleton King Park responds; plans to ... - WRDW-TV

    The Augusta ChronicleUPDATE | Potential buyer of Pendleton King Park responds; plans to ...WRDW-TVWinchester Homebuilders, the developer that Pendleton King Park Foundation is attempting to sell the park to has responded to their announcement, by saying ...Pendleton King Park trustee wants to sell park to developerThe Augusta Chronicleall 8 news articles »

    Google News / 2 d. 21 h. 10 min. ago more
  • Retired Marine keeps promise made in bunker in VietnamRetired Marine keeps promise made in bunker in Vietnam

    Retired Marine Master Sgt. William Cox stands guard Oct. 24, 2017, at the casket of his friend, James Hollingsworth, in Augusta, Ga.

    Augusta News / 2 d. 22 h. 30 min. ago
  • 5 killed in California shooting rampage including gunman’s wife5 killed in California shooting rampage including gunman’s wife

    (ABC NEWS) – The death toll in a shooting rampage in northern California rose to five today as authorities gave chilling new insight into the suspected killer’s apparently random attack. Authorities say the gunman’s wife — whose killing appeared to have kicked off the shooting spree — was found dead under the floor at their home Tuesday night. Authorities say they suspect she was killed Monday night, sparking suspected gunman Kevin Neal’s seemingly random Tuesday morning shooting spree at multiple locations, including an elementary school. No children were killed in the shootings, which took place about 130 miles north of Sacramento. But seven children were among those wounded, authorities said, with injuries ranging from very minor to life-threatening. The suspected gunman was killed by police. Authorities said law enforcement had a history with Neal and said he was out on bail for an assault with a deadly weapon arrest from January. Here’s what we know about how the rampage unfolded, according to authorities: Neal’s wife was found dead from several gunshot wounds on Tuesday night, said Phil Johnston, Tehama County assistant sheriff, but Johnston said she was probably shot late Monday. Her body was found covered up under the floor, he said. Johnston said it appears that’s what started the shooting spree. The first call for the Tuesday shootings came in at 7:54 a.m. PT. Authorities said random shots were fired into residences. The suspect then engaged a citizen who followed him before allegedly stealing the citizen’s car, police said. The gunman “arbitrarily” shot at residents in the rural area as he drove by, said Johnston. Shortly after, the gunman engaged with a woman who was taking her two children to school. He allegedly opened fire on them at an intersection, authorities said. The mother suffered life-threatening injuries from the shooting, and one of her children sustained non-life-threatening injuries, police said. The gunman then turned his sights to the Rancho Tehama Elementary School. Before classes began, the gunman, armed with a semi-automatic rifle, crashed a vehicle through the school’s locked gate and fired dozens of shots at the school, damaging windows and walls, according to the school district and police. One student was shot. Authorities said today that the student is in critical condition. The gunman spent about six minutes there, Johnston said. Authorities said it appeared the gunman became frustrated when he could not gain entry to the classrooms, so he got back into the vehicle and left. The gunman allegedly went back on the road and shot and killed one person, Johnston said. After that, the suspect allegedly crashed the stolen car, robbed someone and took a second vehicle, authorities said. At 8:19 a.m., the rampage ended, when the armed suspect engaged two officers and they returned fire, killing the suspect at the scene, according to police. Authorities said they believe the gunman was on a random rampage, looking to kill people. Authorities today praised the elementary school for its lockdown procedures, saying they could have faced a horrific bloodbath had they not taken safety measures.

    WJBF-Crime / 2 d. 22 h. 40 min. ago more
  • Prime property on the riverPrime property on the river

    For weeks, Augusta leaders have been dying to talk about future plans for the old train depot property on Reynolds Street that once served the South Carolina Railroad Company near the turn of the 20th century. Finally, that day has come. Well, sort of. This week, the Augusta Commission unanimously approved a “development concept” for a $93 million mixed-use project on the old depot site presented to the city by the Downtown Development Authority. Commissioners also approved $14 million in Downtown Development Authority bonds to help finance the project. “Outstanding,” Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis said immediately after the unanimous vote in support of the downtown project. “If anybody ever asks who’s the hardest working people in Augusta, it’s this commission.” At approximately 6 acres, the Reynolds Street property is currently the largest undeveloped riverfront site in downtown Augusta, which makes it a prime piece of real estate that can’t help but attract a lot of attention. Earlier this year, the Augusta Commission entered into an agreement with the Downtown Development Authority to specifically market the property in hopes of targeting a potential buyer and attracting a new project to the site. “This is a game-changer,” said Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Margaret Woodard, adding that she could not provide a lot of details about the mixed- use project until the final documents are approved by the Augusta Commission. “That piece of property has been vacant for over 50 years.” With the addition of this new $93 million development on one end of Reynolds Street and the $50 million Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center on the other, Woodard said downtown Augusta has really turned a corner. “It’s incredible,” Woodard said. “With everything that is going on with Cyber and all the new hotels coming downtown, things are really happening. But we also have a housing crisis right now. We need housing downtown, so this will be an exciting project.” Woodard said she hopes to “hammer out all the details” of the project within the next 60 days so that the city can properly unveil the $93 million development. “We will move forward to get the master development agreement done in the next 60 days, bring it to the commission for approval and then we will have a press conference and update everybody on the project,” Woodard said. “We hope to have a groundbreaking by the summer of 2018.” Augusta Commissioner Sean Frantom, who has hinted about potential plans to develop that property for months, said the development of the old depot property will be an enormous boost to downtown Augusta. “We have the opportunity of a private company coming in to have a project, unlike anything ever in the history of Augusta,” Frantom said. “All I can say is, it’s mixed-use and it’s exciting. Hopefully, we will get it to the finish line very, very soon.” For those who might be unfamiliar with the site, the old train depot sits along a large parcel of land on Fifth and Reynolds streets, and it was constructed in the early 1900s for South Carolina Railroad, which later merged into Southern Railway. It is believed that parts of the building possibly date back to the 1850s, but the long freight section along Reynolds Street was built almost 50 years later. In the 19th and 20th centuries, railroads played a vitally important role in Augusta’s commerce and industry. According to the book, “Rails Across Dixie: A History of Passenger Trains in the American South” by Jim Cox, Augusta had some of the most impressive depots and train stations in all of Georgia. “For all but the first seven years of its life, the Georgia Railroad (1833-1983) was headquartered in Augusta,” Cox wrote. “During that time, passenger trains trekked daily between Augusta and the state capital at Atlanta. The town’s first depot, perhaps little more than a sheltered platform or a rustic waiting room, belonged to the Georgia line. The company dramatically improved on its efforts about 1870 when it constructed the city’s initial Union Station. The facility served a handful of short lines radiating from Augusta.” But the second Union Station, built about five blocks from the Savannah River at the current site of the James Brown Arena in 1903, was a much more impressive structure. “The culmination of all of this train activity in Augusta, however, was ultimately expressed in the erection of a second much more magnificent Union Station,” Cox wrote. “Completed in 1903, its location at Barrett Square about five blocks from the riverfront attracted all the carriers. Designed by Frank Pierce Milburn (1868-1926), an energetic New South architect who also drew plans for Savannah’s Union Station and many more, the Spanish Renaissance complex was of utterly majestic proportions.” Union Station set Augusta apart from many other cities in the South, Cox wrote. “Set under a cathedral dome, its spacious dual-level central gathering hall was the centerpiece of a stately facility whose extensive left and right single-story units completed a picture of formidable dominion,” Cox wrote. “A mammoth train shed at the rear ran the length of the station, and Georgia Railroad’s freight depot was situated behind Union Station, too.” Unfortunately, Union Station ceased operations when the last passenger train out of Augusta left in April 1968. “That structure was another victim of the wrecking ball in 1972,” Cox wrote. For some historians, it is hard to believe that the old depot property on Reynolds Street is basically all that remains of Augusta’s once-vibrant train activity. “Not much is left in the way of physical evidence of the railroad lines, however,” Cox wrote. “The single exception — and it isn’t much — is from the South Carolina Railroad’s depot dating from the 1850s. Situated at the corner of Fifth and Reynolds street, parts of that building still stand beside today’s CSX tracks.” But for the past several decades, the old train depot has basically been in limbo due, in part, to the odd circumstances surrounding the city’s acquisition of the property. On Dec. 8, 1988, the former City of Augusta, under the leadership of then-Mayor Charles DeVaney, spent approximately $975,000 from the 1949 pension fund to purchase the old depot property. After spending more than $27,000 of pensioners’ money on repairs, the city leased the building to Paul Wolfe, then the co-owner of Riverwalk Antique Depot, in 1993. For more than five years, Wolfe operated his antique store in the former depot, paying approximately $10,400 a year in rent. However, by 1999, the city realized that Wolfe’s lease was set to expire and decided to re-evaluate the building’s rent. At the request of the pension plan participants, the city had a market value analysis performed on the property by Bill Hollingsworth, of Hollingsworth Appraisal Co. in 1999. Back then, the analysis recommended an annual rent of $41,652 a year. But instead of following Hollingsworth’s recommendation, the city’s pension committee suggested an increase in the rent on Wolfe’s new lease from $10,400 to $15,120 a year. Needless to say, many of the pensioners were not pleased with the city’s management of the property and made their objections be known. In 1999, former Augusta Fire Chief Bill Maddox, who passed away earlier this year, told the committee that the return rate on the property was unacceptable. “We bought this property about eight years ago,” Maddox said in 1999. “At that time, we could have invested that million dollars in a 10-percent treasury note. I know, because I served 23 years on the state pension board and I checked in Atlanta. So, we have already lost between $700,000 and $800,000 on this thing.” Maddox explained that, in 1997, an appraisal was made on the property during former Mayor Larry Sconyers’ administration and that the value of the property was approximately $1.25 million. “We would be lucky to get that much for it,” Maddox told the Metro Spirit in 2000. “But we aren’t making anything right now.” Frustrated with the handling of the property, the 1949 pensioners asked the city to look into selling the property. However, that was tricky. Then-County Administrator Randy Oliver told the pension committee in 2000 that the circumstances surrounding the property on Reynolds Street created a “balancing act.” “In this particular case, I guess there are competing demands,” Oliver said. “One is the need for the revenue for the pension plan. The other is, we want vibrant businesses downtown. However, we don’t want those businesses to be subsidized at the expense of taxpayers.” Unfortunately, that wasn’t the first time that participants of the 1949 pension plan had problems with the city and their retirement plan. In 1995, the former city was reportedly facing a projected budgetary shortfall of $2.45 million. According to past articles in The Augusta Chronicle, the city was forced to pay approximately $750,000 from its general fund to three of the city’s defunct pension plans in 1994. So, in order to try to spare the 1995 budget the same expense, the city proposed merging the 1949 plan — which at the time had $49 million in its account — with the three bankrupt plans. Then-City Attorney Paul Dunbar requested that the courts endorse the merger, but participants of the 1949 plan objected to the city’s proposal. As a result, former City Councilman Oscar Baker and former Augusta Police Chief James Beck (representing the 1949 pensioners) filed a lawsuit challenging the city’s action. The participants of the 1949 pension plan were concerned that they would lose their portion of the pension money if the city’s pension plans were merged. But the city argued that fear was unfounded because the 1949 pension fund had a surplus of between $4 million and $11 million. The pensioners’ lawsuit also asked Richmond County Chief Superior Court Judge William Fleming Jr. to order the former city to reimburse the 1949 pension fund the nearly $1 million the city had spent on Reynolds Street property. Pensioners had discovered that the property, when purchased in 1988, had been deeded to the Augusta City Council instead of the lawful owners — the participants of the 1949 pension plan. In April 1995, Fleming reportedly prevented the city from merging the plans because he felt the retirees who contributed to the 1949 plan should be protected and their money should not be touched by the city. Soon after, the deed for the property on Reynolds Street was also corrected and the pensioners were named the property’s owners. For years, pensioners remained upset about the city’s decision to purchase the Reynolds Street property. Former City Councilman Oscar Baker, who passed away in 2015, was one of the leaders in the fight to protect the benefits of the city’s retirees. Baker, who was a retired captain from the Augusta Fire Department, was also covered by the city’s 1949 pension plan and believed the former city treated its retirees with complete disregard. “I don’t think they acted in our best interest,” Baker told the Metro Spirit in 2000. “I may be wrong, but I think a trustee is supposed to make sure that, if they invest our money, we should have a good return on it.” Baker, who had served on the City Council for more than 14 years, said he was never assigned to the city’s pension committee and that, because he had never heard any negative reports concerning the pension fund, he assumed all was well. But one day, Baker arrived at a City Council meeting a little early and noticed there was a pension meeting in progress, so he decided to attend the meeting. “I heard Mayor DeVaney say that he wanted to take $3 million out of our pension fund to operate the city with because they were in dire need of funds,” Baker said in 2000. “I immediately jumped to my feet and said, ‘You better not touch that pension fund. I will carry you to court. Even if I have to pay it out of my own pocket.’” Baker said he knew what the mayor was suggesting was wrong. “That (pension) money was paid into that fund by the employees and the city,” he said in 2000. “And Mayor DeVaney thought just because it was overfunded and the city had contributed to it, that they could reach in there and get some money. I wasn’t going to let that happen.” That’s when Baker hired attorneys Duncan Wheale and Jack Long to represent the pensioners and they went before Judge Fleming to fight the city. Long told the Metro Spirit in 2000 that without individuals like Baker and Beck watching the city’s actions, the pension fund would have been gutted. “Frankly, if it hadn’t been for Oscar Baker and Jim Beck, the pensioners could have lost a lot of money,” Long said in 2000. “They came forth and said, ‘We are not going to let this happen.’ And that basically protected that pension plan.” Long insisted that the former city was playing a dangerous game using the pension money to buy the property on Reynolds Street. “Frankly, pension money should not have been used for that purpose,” Long said in 2000. “The law is clear: You cannot fool with those pension funds.” Finally, by 2005, the city agreed to purchase the Reynolds Property from the city pension fund for approximately $1.7 million. But, since that time, the property has seen very little action. In fact, the old train depot was listed as one of Historic Augusta’s “Endangered Properties” a few years ago. Back in 2009, plans for a more than $100 million project on the Reynolds Street property called “The Watermark,” which would have included condominiums, a hotel, retail stores and office space, also fell through. As a result, the city decided to take a different approach. That’s when the commission entered into the agreement with the Downtown Development Authority to specifically market the property. Evidently, the idea worked because Augusta leaders are thrilled over the potential of the project. “It will be the largest single project in the history of downtown,” Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis said about the $93 million development. “It will be huge.” The post Prime property on the river appeared first on Metro Spirit.

    Metro Spirit / 2 d. 23 h. 11 min. ago more
  • Does Mayor Davis talk to everyone like this?Does Mayor Davis talk to everyone like this?

    Last week, the Insider wrote about local developer and businessman Clay Boardman sending the mayor an email explaining why he thought building the new $120 million arena at the Regency Mall location would be “disastrous.” It was a blunt, but extremely honest email in which Boardman tried to explain why he felt the idea was “ill advised, poorly processed, poorly thought out and researched and simply the wrong decision.” Well, this past week, the mayor’s response to Boardman’s letter was made public thanks to Augusta Chronicle columnist Sylvia Cooper. And the tone in which Mayor Davis responded to Boardman’s email made mouths drop all over the county. The Insider would be remiss without taking a look at this heated exchange between the two leaders in this city: the mayor and Boardman. The mayor began his email to Boardman coming out swinging. “Your email starts by stating that you are expressing your opinion ‘and every other person’s opinion I have talked to,’” Davis writes. “Would it be appropriate to ask who have you spoken with? Have you bothered to speak with anyone outside of the Augusta Country Club ‘Breakfast Club,’ or the very exclusive, membership only, Augusta Tomorrow group before deeming the proposal as ‘wrong, bad for the City, disastrous for the Arena…and ill-advised’?” Unbelievable. The mayor was immediately hitting below the belt. And since when is Augusta Tomorrow a “very exclusive” group? “What makes ‘every other person you have talked to’ …more insightful, more thoughtful, or more informed than the hundreds of people that the Mayor, Commissioners and Authority members talk to each week?” Davis asked. “For the record, the majority of the people they speak with are not their close friends and colleagues. They are strangers. Residents of this community who offer constructive suggestions and support for the concept… Where do you get the nerve to assume only you know what’s always best for Augusta?” The mayor also suggested that Boardman was “merely attempting to continue this community’s history of division (West Augusta v. South Augusta) and economic superiority (our opinions should control because we pay more taxes than they do).” “Is that really the model that you used to become the prominent business man that you have been held out to be?” Davis asked. So, is the mayor really implying that Boardman is not a “prominent businessman?” Mayor, don’t mess with Clay Boardman. He has a track record in this community that he can be proud of. Back in 1997, Boardman invested more than $17 million in Enterprise Mill, which dates back to the mid-1800s and was once operated by the Graniteville Company, and converted the abandoned structure into a mix of upscale apartments, businesses and office space located right in the heart of downtown Augusta. At times, Boardman’s construction budget reached $50,000 a day, but he believed in the downtown project and didn’t give up on investing in Augusta’s future. Over the years, Boardman has also renovated a number of Augusta landmarks such as the 55,000-square-foot Sutherland Mill, the Houghton School, the Widow’s Home and the William Robinson School, just to name a few. Boardman is also the treasurer and site selection committee chairman of Turn Back The Block. It is a faith-based, nonprofit organization whose mission is to revitalize the Harrisburg neighborhood. Now, that’s a record that will stand the test of time, but, for some reason, the mayor still felt the need to disparage Boardman. Well, let’s just say, Boardman didn’t back down. In his response, Boardman told the mayor that he had “spoken to, received emails or texts” from about 100 people throughout the community. “I have yet to hear from anyone (nor have I solicited comments) in favor of your position nor the method by which you interjected yourself into the process by interfering into the Authority’s task delegated to it,” Boardman wrote. “I am not saying that there are not informed people in agreement with your position; I am saying that not one has contacted me.” He also didn’t take the insults against his character lying down. “I am not a member of the Augusta Country Club,” Boardman wrote. “I have not attended the breakfast club you allude to although I have heard that you attend from time to time. I am not a member of Augusta Tomorrow which you accuse of being exclusive although you are a member. I have never represented that every other person I have talked to is more insightful, etc., than you, the Commissioners or the Authority.” But Boardman explained that he does have experience in this field. “Regarding my knowledge of arenas, I was drafted by Wilmington, N.C., to develop a baseball stadium and entertainment complex and learned quite a bit in my two-year involvement there,” Boardman added. “I traveled all over the east coast and/or researched existing projects in many cities. I also have two separate music businesses that book famous acts from all over the country and know quite a bit about the industry. I would venture to guess that I know a good bit more than you do in this area.” Boardman also said he’s a longtime supporter of South Augusta. “I own about $8,000,000 of property in South Augusta presently and invested a similar or greater amount there in the Smile Gas days. My office was on the south side of Gordon Hwy for over 40 years and I worked from there for 14 years — a block away from Regency Mall,” Boardman wrote. “I have many, many friends there that I cherish. I have much to gain personally and civically from the beautification of south Augusta. I just wish you and the Commissioners that represent the area would act to do so. Look at the clogged storm sewers, paving condition, lack of street lighting, horrible streetscapes and lack of small parks as just a few examples of poor stewardship.” In fact, Boardman insisted he was the last person who was trying to divide Augusta. “I feel that you have it exactly backwards,” Boardman wrote. “You are fostering division with your ‘country club,’ and ‘exclusive,’ comments. You are fostering division with a hint of racism. I happen to believe that decisions are best made based on facts and study rather than political, economic and racial fear-mongering.” Well said, Mr. Boardman. “I believe in one person, one vote,” Boardman added, “and for you to attribute the ‘we pay more taxes so they should listen only to us’ statement is childish, uninformed and untrue.” Perhaps the mayor should think twice before he hits the “send” button.   The post Does Mayor Davis talk to everyone like this? appeared first on Metro Spirit.

    Metro Spirit / 2 d. 23 h. 19 min. ago more
  • Ice rink slides into townIce rink slides into town

    Augusta sadly has been lacking an ice skating rink for the past few years. But that’s about to change, starting this week! Augusta on Ice will be at the Augusta Common for 50 days, bringing with it an all-inclusive winter wonderland. The best part is, you’ll be able to skate on 100 percent, absolutely real ice! Anyone who knows the climate in Augusta probably has their doubts, but it is possible. The mind behind Augusta on Ice, Chris Boerner, explained: “It is real ice,” she said. “That’s the thing everybody keeps asking — it is real ice. So what it is, is you bring these mats in that are really thick, and you have tubes running through them, and you pump glycol through the tubes. There’s almost like an air conditioner like the one in your house, but it’s a much larger one that’s gonna be keeping the glycol cold. And so, we’ll freeze the ice over the course of days. And every day, we’ll scrape off the part that gets a little bit slushy and then refreeze it and build it up.” Chris and her family moved to Augusta a little over a year ago from Seattle and are loving it. Her in-laws came here to retire a few years back, and after visiting, Chris and her husband, Mike, made the move. She was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug — she also runs a company called Cielo Pill Holders — and when they moved to Augusta, they wanted to find a way to make a difference in the community. “We were looking a couple of different business options,” she said. “Actually, we were close to signing a lease on something totally different last December when we had friends over. It was probably close to the holidays, and they told us they were going to take their kids to Savannah to go ice skating. Mike and I just looked at each other and went, ‘Oh man, what are the chances?’ because we have a friend in Northern California — he and his wife run holiday ice skating rinks. And for years, Mike has been fascinated by the business, and we thought, ‘What a cool thing.’ “In Seattle, there’s plenty of ice skating, plenty of holiday festivals, lots to do, so it wasn’t really relevant. So as our friends told us there was nothing here like it, we were looking at each other going, ‘Could this be the way that we could get involved; could we do this?’ So it started out just as an ice skating rink, but the idea was always to give people a place to come together, to create memories, to build traditions, and so that took it from being anchored by an ice skating rink into really a festival that keeps people coming back over and over.” While the ice skating rink is the main feature, there will be plenty of other things to draw people downtown over and over again, as Augusta on Ice will offer season passes. Augusta on Ice will feature a beautifully decorated ice slide — again, with real ice, kept cold like the ice rink is. The Augusta Express, a train much like the Polar Express, will be taking people on rides throughout the Common. Adults can visit The Elves Lounge for beer and wine. And the Community Spotlight Stage will feature different acts and live music every single day — and when there’s no live entertainment, Augusta on Ice will screen holiday films on the stage. Oh, and s’mores and hot chocolate will be available to warm up and hit your sweet tooth at the same time. And don’t miss Santa! He will be there for photo sessions — visitors will be able to book a time with him online so they’re not waiting in line to meet him. Throughout it all, the park will be decked out in some of the best holiday decorations. “The Augusta Common is lined with oak trees and just has sort of an intimate vibe to it already, but the lighting concept we’re bringing is magical,” Chris Boerner said. “So when you’re in the middle of that field, you’ll feel like you’re inside of a snow globe. All of the trees will be lit, and it’ll be choreographed to music; there’ll be snowflakes projected onto the buildings off to the side, and it’s just gonna be magic everywhere.” General admission to the park is $5 for one day and $20 for the whole season. That gets you in the gates for access to entertainment, the tree lighting, watching skaters and more. (To add ice skating, it’s $14; the ice slide is an extra $4, and a ride on the Augusta Express is $4.) But the best deal to maximize your holiday spirit is the activity pass. It’s $20 for one day or $50 for the entire season, and it includes completely unlimited access to the ice rink, ice slide, Augusta Express and everything else the park offers. Families of four or more can get 10% off, and groups of 10 or more can get 25% off, no matter what ticket they go with. Military and seniors can take advantage of a discount of 25%. The Augusta on Ice season will run daily (including holidays) from Nov. 17 to Jan. 6. Check out augustaonice.com for hours and other information — and to order your passes! The post Ice rink slides into town appeared first on Metro Spirit.

    Metro Spirit / 2 d. 23 h. 33 min. ago more
  • ‘They’re gonna go far’‘They’re gonna go far’

    If you find yourself wishing the great psychedelic rock band Pink Floyd still toured, well, there’s not much hope there. But there is an alternative that’s considered the next-best thing. Brit Floyd, widely regarded as the world’s greatest live tribute to Pink Floyd, will be coming through Augusta this Saturday, Nov. 18, at the Bell Auditorium. The tribute band is on its Immersion World Tour and will be performing favorite moments from “The Dark Side of the Moon,” “Wish You Were Here,” “The Wall” and “The Division Bell,” as well as a special tribute to the “Animals” album, which is in its 40th anniversary year. Formed in 2011, Brit Floyd is re-creating Pink Floyd’s final “Division Bell” tour in 1994, complete with a circle screen, light design, lasers, inflatables and theatrics. The band is the brainchild of Middlesbrough, Teesside, England, native Damian Darlington, who came into the project with a wealth of experience — he became a part of the Australian Pink Floyd Show (which still tours) in 1994 and stayed with them for 17 years and almost 1,300 shows. But he told the Phoenix New Times in 2014 that when he left that project, he was itching to do his own Pink Floyd tribute project — and do it better. “It seemed like it was time to move on and do my own Pink Floyd show,” Darlington told the Phoenix New Times. “I certainly learned a lot about how to do this right; acquired all the skills how to put together a Pink Floyd show successfully. It was the right time to step out. … I just rather think we’re doing it that bit better with Brit Floyd. There is much more attention to details in every aspect of the show, from the music to the visuals to the lighting. Everything is that much more perfected, and there’s a passion coming off that stage. We never get complacent about what we’re doing, and it will continually get better.” The band overcomes challenges to getting Pink Floyd’s sound just right. “Pink Floyd, they were great musicians, but they weren’t really technical,” he told the Phoenix New Times. “There weren’t any really fast guitar solos or odd time signatures. But there was certainly a wonderful feel they brought to the music. That’s a challenge in itself. And to re-create the sounds.” “Pink Floyd was so pioneering in many respects, on stage but also in the studio with all those unique sounds people really hadn’t done before. To redo that successfully, when it comes to the guitar sounds and keyboard sounds and all the sound effects, it is really a challenge.” Darlington also has had direct experience with the musicians he and his band emulates — he states on his bio at britfloyd.com that he had the “amazing experience” of performing “Comfortably Numb” alongside Pink Floyd founding member, keyboardist and vocalist Rick Wright at longtime Pink Floyd member David Gilmour’s 50th birthday party. In a review of a recent show in Pennsylvania, TheSlateOnline.com gushed that Brit Floyd lives up to its name as “The World’s Greatest Pink Floyd Show.” “Brit Floyd went beyond simply playing the notes and clearly focused on imitating the exact tone and style of Pink Floyd’s music,” TheSlateOnline.com wrote. “Even with slight deviations from the original songs, such as adding backup vocals to the chorus of ‘Wish You Were Here,’ Brit Floyd stayed true to Pink Floyd’s sound while adding their own flair. … Brit Floyd took audience members back to the first time they put a Pink Floyd vinyl on their record player. Their musical talent and soul reminded fans how Pink Floyd’s songs are more than just music and lyrics — they are other-worldly audio experiences.” Rolling Stone says Pink Floyd went from a “moderately successful acid-rock band to one of rock music’s biggest acts,” with the release of “The Dark Side of the Moon” in 1973. That album has been on Billboard’s Top 200 album chart for a staggering 861 weeks (that’s more than 16 years total) — longer than any other album in history. Many rock icons over the decades since Pink Floyd formed probably wouldn’t have been what they were without the influence of Pink Floyd. Heavy hitters such as David Bowie, Queen, Nine Inch Nails and the Smashing Pumpkins all have listed Pink Floyd as influential. Floyd fans simply won’t want to miss the labor of love and authenticity that is Brit Floyd. Brit Floyd Bell Auditorium 8 p.m. Sat Nov 18 $29.50-$54.50 877-4AUGTIX or georgialinatix.com The post ‘They’re gonna go far’ appeared first on Metro Spirit.

    Metro Spirit / 2 d. 23 h. 43 min. ago more
  • Check the NumberCheck the Number

    “Ma’am, your driver’s license number is invalid.” Excuse me? I’ve had the same number since I was 16. “Uh, can you please enter it again?” She does. She enters it again. I hear the sad little sound of denial coming from the cash register computer machine. It’s the familiar sound of failure. As an aside, why does the chip reader on the card machines make such a terrible noise? It always makes me think something is wrong. Nevermind, I answered my own question. There’s no way to forget your card when the machine keeps screaming at you. Makes sense. It’s still a scary sound. I ask the girl to please try again. She complies with my request. I’m starting to sweat. Why isn’t my license valid? Is there a warrant out for my arrest? Is that how they catch people? Has my license been suspended for some unknown reason? Am I about to have to call my husband to bail me out of jail? Surely they’ve seen me on camera by now, so there’s no way I can leave without handcuffs. The line behind me is growing. A nice older man, sitting on his Rascal, doesn’t seem to be too bothered by the delay. He notices the snacks I’m buying and gives his commentary on each one. “I really like those little muffins, you know. They are delicious with my Sanka in the morning. You should go back for Cheezit Grooves, though. I could live on those.” The woman behind him tells me it’s the first time she’s stood still all day, and she’s happy for a break. The pleasantries don’t stop my perspiration. The people toward the end of the line, who are assuming it’s my fault, don’t seem as pleased. Eye rolling and sighing is in full effect. “Do you mind suspending my order, so these people can go ahead?” I hate to make everyone wait, especially if they’ll have to sit through the reading of my Miranda rights. “Well, I can, but I’ll have to cancel the whole order. You’ll have to talk to my manager.” I’m fine with that. I ask her to run it again, this time calling it out to her. Terrible machine noise again. What the heck? She’s getting frazzled. She seems done with me. “What’s the error message? Does it tell you the exact problem?” It’s my last ditch effort to avoid a night in the clink. “It says it needs to start with two letters.” In the sweetest, least panicky way I can muster, and after taking a deep, cleansing breath, I tell her that my license number has been the same for 24 years, and it hasn’t ever started with letters. I ask if hers does. She doesn’t think so. We stare at each other for one whole second that lasted 10 minutes. The people in line are laughing, and telling me it’s okay. Wait. “Do you need to tell the cash register computer machine from which state my license comes?” She is skeptical. She’s annoyed. She wants me gone. Her now shaky hands type “GA,” followed by the number, and the check runs through the machine. My receipt prints. I thank everyone for their patience, and I’m on my way. A check! I know. It’s my fault. I wrote a check. Who does that? I won’t do it again. I shouldn’t expect her to know the procedure, when I’m probably the only person to write one in 2017. To be fair, it was a booster club check for school. At least I know my license number still works. They may not take checks, but liquor stores require a valid ID for the purchase of wine. Cheers! The post Check the Number appeared first on Metro Spirit.

    Metro Spirit / 2 d. 23 h. 52 min. ago more
  • Pretty LightsPretty Lights

    As I was growing up, my dad tried to teach me as much as he could about vehicle maintenance. He’d tell me to come outside and help him with whatever he was fixing on the family car. My dad is one of those dads who are decidedly dad-like: very mechanically inclined. He knows a good deal about working on cars. What he doesn’t know, he can usually figure out. It’s one of the things I admire most bout him. I, however, didn’t get that gene. When my dad would bring me out to learn about what he was working on, I wanted to be anywhere else. I was not interested. I wasn’t even curious. Now, as I am a father myself and responsible for my own family’s vehicle, I realize the importance of learning all those things that my dad taught me. I have discovered that, amazingly enough, some of those things stuck. I actually can find my way around an engine compartment and, even more amazingly, figure out what is wrong with a car from time to time. I’ll admit: Google is my favorite assistant. But, hey, the car gets back on the road without a costly trip to the mechanic. But there are times when my stupidity cannot be contained. Last week, I noticed that my wife’s driver-side headlight was out. “Easy fix,” I thought. Boy, was I wrong. I went to the auto parts store to buy the headlights. When I brought them home, I discovered that I bought the wrong headlights. I drove right back to the store, hung my head in shame and returned the opened package to the same guy I bought the lights from explaining my blunder. He said “no problem” as he taped the package back together. I found the lights I needed and went back home. When I put these lights in, nothing happened. The driver side headlight still wouldn’t come on. I thought “well, it’s gotta be a bad fuse.” Nope. All fuses were good. I went on to check the relays; they were fine, as well. I was stuck. This is where I refer to my old, faithful friend: Google. Over the next few days, I found threads online about possible wiring recalls, some people had to replace wiring harnesses because they were over heated, one guy even wrote about tearing apart his steering column to replace the switch. All this was very overwhelming. But I had to start with checking the voltage on the wires going to the lights. This is one department that I’m not very good at, so I call my dad. The call to dad is always the last step before I give up and ask someone else to do it. However, frustration was setting in. My dad and I troubleshot the problem together on the phone. I was probing wires and checking grounds while he was researching. Just before he got so frustrated himself and drove all the way across town to put his own eyes on the situation, he asked me to make sure both bright lights worked. I turned them on, they were fine. Then I said, “wait a minute…” I flipped the low-beams on and noticed the placement of the bulb. It must have been a really proud moment for my dad when he heard me say “I replaced the wrong damn bulb.” I went back to the auto parts store and found the bulbs that I originally bought, torn package and all. I took them to the counter and, you guessed it, I bought them from the same guy I had bought them from a week earlier. I installed them in the parking lot in about a minute flat: problem solved. Stupid really is as stupid does. The post Pretty Lights appeared first on Metro Spirit.

    Metro Spirit / 2 d. 23 h. 58 min. ago more
  • Police in Maryland seeking real-life ‘Hamburglar’Police in Maryland seeking real-life ‘Hamburglar’

    COLUMBIA, MD (WCMH) – Police in Maryland are looking for a woman who stole cash and food from a McDonalds’ drive-thru. Video shows a woman stick her head through the McDonald’s drive-thru window. After helping herself to a blue Powerade, she climbs completely through the window. Once inside, she gathers several items into a box, and leaves the store. Police say both food and cash were stolen. The Howard County Police Department in Maryland is offering a $500 reward for information leading to an arrest.

    WJBF-Crime / 3 d. 0 h. 41 min. ago more
  • School: 6 GA elementary students involved in pill distributionSchool: 6 GA elementary students involved in pill distribution

    ROCHELLE, Ga. (AP) – The superintendent of a Georgia school district says six elementary school students were involved in the distribution of prescription medication. WMAZ-TV reports Wilcox County Schools Superintendent Julie Childers says a child brought the pills to Wilcox Elementary School and distributed it to classmates. She said the child who brought the pills to school could be charged with a felony, while the children who accepted the medication could be charged with misdemeanors, but the district hopes to avoid criminal charges. Rochelle Police Chief Mickey Barfield says his office is not investigating. In a letter sent home to parents Monday, Childers said no one suffered serious effects from the pills. Parent Amanda Felton said her 9-year-old son was one of the recipients of Risperidal, and was suspended for a week.

    WJBF-Crime / 3 d. 1 h. 9 min. ago more
  • Former Wrens Police Chief goes before judge, bonds outFormer Wrens Police Chief goes before judge, bonds out

    UPDATE JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ga. (WJBF) – Officials in Jefferson County have told us that both former Chief Gary McCord and Stapleton Police Officer Thomas Farthing went before a magistrate judge today and have bonded out of jail.   JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ga. (WJBF) – The Wrens City Council has voted to accept Chief McCord’s resignation effective immediately. They have also voted to appoint Asst. Chief Jim Votaw as Interim Police Chief, effective immediately. JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ga. (WJBF) – The police chief of Wrens is off the job and facing charges. An arrest warrant has been issued for the former police chief of Wrens for falsifying firearms training records. Gary McCord resigned Tuesday as Wrens Police Chief and is now facing charges from the Georgia Peace Officers Standard and Training Counsel, claiming that he falsified firearms training documents for Stapleton Police Officer Thomas Farthing. People we spoke with in Wrens say they’re shocked by the allegations. “If you can’t trust the chief then who can you trust,” said Resident Michelle Cummings. McCord is expected to turn himself in to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday. One resident, a former Richmond County deputy, says allegations like this are serious. “We have a higher standard. When you swear allegiance to the constitution to uphold the law you have a responsibility to live up to that,” said resident and former deputy Glen Anderson. If these allegations are true, Anderson says justice should be served. “You’re the law. Abide by the law. You can’t break the law. There are no exceptions,” said Anderson. Meanwhile, a second arrest warrant has been issued for Stapleton Police Officer Farthing . Both Farthing and McCord are charged with False Statements and Writings. Wrens city council is expected to appoint Assistant Police Chief Jim Votaw as interim Chief of Police at a special called meeting at 4:30 p.m. NewsChannel 6 will continue to keep you updated on this developing story.  

    WJBF-Crime / 3 d. 1 h. 29 min. ago more
  • 3 UCLA basketball players accused of shoplifting in China are back on U.S. soil3 UCLA basketball players accused of shoplifting in China are back on U.S. soil

    (WJBF) – Three UCLA basketball players accused of shoplifting in China last week are back in the US this morning. The three men arrived last night in Los Angeles after spending a week on house arrest. School officials say the three were allowed to return after the situation was resolved to the satisfaction of the Chinese authorities. The three players are scheduled to speak at a press conference this morning.    

    WJBF-Crime / 3 d. 4 h. 36 min. ago more
  • One person injured in Augusta home fire on Evergreen Dr.One person injured in Augusta home fire on Evergreen Dr.

    The Richmond County Sheriff's Office and Fire Department are currently on scene at a private residential structure fire at 3127 Evergreen Dr. in Augusta.

    Augusta News / 3 d. 5 h. 56 min. ago
  • AP Exclusive: US scientists try 1st gene editing in the bodyAP Exclusive: US scientists try 1st gene editing in the body

    If it's successful, it could give a major boost to the fledgling field of gene therapy.

    WFXG / 3 d. 11 h. 35 min. ago
  • Spread holiday cheer worldwide this week with shoe boxesSpread holiday cheer worldwide this week with shoe boxes

    Operation Christmas Child helps deliver the gift-filled boxes to children in primarily war-torn and famine-stricken regions of the world such as Africa and the Middle East. Some gifts do stay in the United States, though, on Native American reservations.

    Augusta News / 3 d. 13 h. 4 min. ago
  • Local school copes with loss of three students within one school year - WRDW-TVLocal school copes with loss of three students within one school year - WRDW-TV

    WRDW-TVLocal school copes with loss of three students within one school yearWRDW-TVAUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) – Michael McElmurray passed away this morning after a motorbike accident over the weekend. Michael was a student at Westside High School. Before that, he went to Augusta Christian. He was actually a teammate of Drew ...and more »

    Google News / 3 d. 17 h. 34 min. ago more
  • UPDATE | Community mourns the loss of Westside student; prays for peace - WRDW-TVUPDATE | Community mourns the loss of Westside student; prays for peace - WRDW-TV

    WRDW-TVUPDATE | Community mourns the loss of Westside student; prays for peaceWRDW-TVHe was at Augusta Christian the last two years. He grew up around Goshen, Hephzibah, Cross Creek, all of those…” Since Saturday, students from schools he passed through showed up for him in hallways of the hospital, parking lots, and at his own school.

    Google News / 3 d. 18 h. 16 min. ago
  • New Ellenton Fire Department warns of phone scamNew Ellenton Fire Department warns of phone scam

    NEW ELLENTON, S.C. (WJBF) –  The New Ellenton Fire Department wants to warn residents of a phone scam. If you receive a call soliciting donations for local first responders, contact the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office at 803-642-1761. The Fire Chief says his firefighters are not collecting money. He wants to remind people not to give out their financial information over the phone. Count on WJBF NewsChannel 6 to bring you the latest on this developing story. 

    WJBF-Crime / 3 d. 21 h. 39 min. ago more
  • Series of California shootings kill 5, wound child at school in CaliforniaSeries of California shootings kill 5, wound child at school in California

    RED BLUFF, Calif. (AP) — A gunman killed four people and wounded a number of others at random Tuesday at multiple locations in rural Northern California, including an elementary school, before police shot him dead, authorities said. Two hospitals said they were treating seven people, including at least three children. Details were still sketchy hours after the shooting and authorities didn’t have a firm count of the wounded due to the number of places where the gunman opened fire in the community of Rancho Tehama Reserve, about 130 miles north of Sacramento, Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston said. One student was wounded at the school and another child was shot while driving with a woman, who also was wounded, Johnston said. “It was very clear at the onset that we had an individual that was randomly picking targets,” Johnston said. He declined to release the name of the shooter but said the gunfire began with a domestic violence incident that neighbors reported. Brian Flint told the Record Searchlight newspaper in the city of Redding that his neighbor, whom he knows only as Kevin, was the gunman and that his roommate was among the victims. He said the shooter also stole his truck. “The crazy thing is that the neighbor has been shooting a lot of bullets lately, hundreds of rounds, large magazines,” Flint said. “We made it aware that this guy is crazy and he’s been threatening us.” Authorities have recovered a semi-automatic rifle and two handguns after the shootings in the rural subdivision described on its website as a “quiet private country community” where “the people are friendly and the pace is relaxed.” Jeanine Quist, an administrative assistant with the Corning Union Elementary School District, said no one was killed at the school with kindergarten through fifth grades. Three people were being treated at a hospital in Redding, about 50 miles north of the shootings, Mercy Medical Center spokeswoman Marcy Miracle said. She declined to provide other details about the victims or their injuries. Four others, including three children, were being treated at Enloe Medical Center in Chico, about 50 miles southeast of the shootings, hospital spokeswoman Nicole Johansson said.

    WJBF-Crime / 3 d. 22 h. 48 min. ago more
  • More More

    Notice higher prices at the pumps lately? According to GasBuddy, gasoline prices in Georgia are up more than five cents per gallon in the past week. As of today Augusta is seeing a four cents per gallon increase from last week averaging about $2.30.

    Augusta News / 4 d. 12 h. 43 min. ago
  • Commissioner Bill Fennoy shaking things upCommissioner Bill Fennoy shaking things up

    There’s no doubt about it, Augusta Commissioner Bill Fennoy is term-limited. That means, Fennoy isn’t worried about being re-elected to the Augusta Commission in the next few years, so he’s letting his true feelings be known. Over the past few weeks, he has stirred up some serious controversy in this city that is home to Fort Gordon by kneeling during the pledge of allegiance at regular Augusta Commission meetings. He also stunned some of his downtown constituents by announcing he supports the new James Brown Arena being built at the former Regency Mall site — instead of remaining in his downtown district — if a proper deal could be worked out with the mall’s property owners. While both of those positions have left some residents thinking that Fennoy is out in left field, the commissioner did ask his colleagues to look at possibly reducing the penalty for marijuana possession of “small amounts” to simply a fine without any jail time. That’s a pretty progressive suggestion for any sitting Augusta commissioner. Basically, his suggestion came just days after the Atlanta City Council unanimously approved making the penalty for possession of 1 ounce or less of marijuana simply a $75 fine. The Atlanta City Council agreed to the change, citing the uneven policing and enforcement of drug laws in the city where approximately 92 percent of those arrested for marijuana between 2014 and 2016 were African-American individuals. Here in Georgia, state laws say possession of less than an ounce of marijuana is considered a misdemeanor and is punishable by up to a year in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. But local municipalities across the state are considering ways to circumvent state law. Now, Fennoy isn’t the first local elected official to suggest such a change. In 2016, state Sen. Harold Jones II announced a proposed bill to eliminate felony marijuana possession charges throughout Georgia, but his suggestion was a little too forward thinking at the time. Many people immediately jumped to the wrong conclusion. Jones wasn’t looking to legalize marijuana in the Peach State. He was simply trying to prevent lives from being destroyed as a result of a felony marijuana possession charge. “What we are looking at is all of the different collateral consequences that happen once you get a felony charge, such as losing the right to vote, losing the right to sit on a jury, and, if you are in school, you can lose scholarship money,” Jones explained to the Metro Spirit in 2016. “With a felony charge, you are also totally banned in Georgia from receiving any kind of federal aid like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance, which is old school for food stamps. The federal government allows you to be totally barred, if your state wants to, from receiving those kinds of funds.” However, when Fennoy suggested that Augusta change its local enforcement laws, even Jones wasn’t sure if the city had that authority. Jones was concerned that a consolidated government such as Augusta-Richmond County doesn’t have the power to make such a change. But Atlanta and Augusta are simply joining a growing number of cities considering a change in their marijuana laws. Last year, the small city of Clarkston, Ga., in DeKalb County, with its population of a little more than 12,000 people, was the first in Georgia to forever change the way local governments view simple marijuana possession across the state. With a city motto of “Where Possibilities Grow,” the Clarkston City Council took an incredibly bold stand in July 2016 by unanimously approving the most progressive marijuana ordinance in Georgia. The city ordinance allowed for only a $75 fine and no jail time for individuals caught with less than an ounce of pot within the Clarkston city limits. Clarkston’s municipal ordinance basically flew in the face of state law. It was the first municipality in Georgia that gave the city’s police officers the discretion of deciding whether to charge a person facing simple marijuana possession under state law or with violating the local ordinance and ticket that individual with a $75 fine. “This particular ordinance came to our attention because we had various people within our Clarkston community who had been cited or ticketed and they had paid various fines,” said Clarkston City Councilman Mario Williams. “Some had paid $200, some of them had paid all the way up to the $662 maximum here in Clarkston.” As the chairman of Clarkston’s public safety committee, Williams decided the city should study the issue and hold public hearings to discuss the matter with a wide range of organizations including Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), Georgia Cares and members of the Formerly Incarcerated, Convicted People & Families Movement. Williams said it was important for the city to do its homework regarding the law. “We did a lot of fact finding on this issue, and we decided that the starting point is that, for every city in Georgia, those cities have the ability to regulate in the area of possession of 1 ounce of marijuana or less to try and dispose of those cases,” Williams said. “So when we started from that position, we said, ‘What do we really want to do? And what can we legally do?’” The last thing the city of Clarkston wanted was to enter into a legal battle with the state of Georgia over its marijuana laws, so the city council carefully reviewed its options, Williams said. “Currently, you cannot decriminalize possession of marijuana because the Georgia Legislature has deemed it a criminal activity. So we can’t do that,” Williams said. “But what we can do is fix the fine.” Clarkston was the first city in Georgia to make such changes, but many others are considering similar possibilities, along with other cities throughout the country. An article recently published in Fortune magazine detailed how Washington, D.C., made it legal for adults 21 years of age or older to possess less than 2 ounces of marijuana. The city of Pittsburg passed a law that makes possession of less than an ounce punishable with a $25 fine. Those caught smoking marijuana and in possession of less than an ounce face a $100 fine. And Kansas City lowered fines to $25 and removed jail time for possession of 35 grams of cannabis or less. Times are definitely changing. It will be interesting to see whether Fennoy’s suggestion will ever get off the ground. The post Commissioner Bill Fennoy shaking things up appeared first on Metro Spirit.

    Metro Spirit / 6 d. 12 h. 42 min. ago more
  • Thank You: Veterans Day dealsThank You: Veterans Day deals

    Some deals are good all weekend , others are only for the day specified. Check local business for details.

    Augusta News / 8 d. 4 h. 38 min. ago
  • Businesses offering discounts to honor veteransBusinesses offering discounts to honor veterans

    Every year businesses across the country celebrate Veterans Day by showing their support for those who served our nation by offering free and discounted meals and products to veterans. We've compiled a list of businesses in the area that are doing their part to honor those who served.

    Augusta News / 8 d. 23 h. 20 min. ago
  • Check out these Georgia historic sites, museums to visit on Veterans DayCheck out these Georgia historic sites, museums to visit on Veterans Day

    Columbus is full of military history, but there are sites and museums all across Georgia to visit for Veterans Day. In case you already haven't planned out your Veterans Day weekend, here are a few ideas to get you started: It's easy to spend an entire day exploring the thousands of artifacts, exhibits and memorials inside and outside of this museum.

    Augusta News / 9 d. 18 h. 24 min. ago more
  • The Miller: It’s Really TimeThe Miller: It’s Really Time

    When local businessman and philanthropist Peter Knox IV purchased the historic Miller Theater on Broad Street back in 2005, the much-beloved building was in extreme disrepair. The abandoned theater’s roof was literally about to cave in on itself, there was no working ventilation system and the owner at the time was facing delinquent taxes on the building. For many Augustans, the project seemed utterly hopeless. It was a money pit that no one wanted to touch. But Knox couldn’t just let it go. “The theater was up for sale, and the talk on the street was that the building was going to be auctioned off on the courthouse steps,” Knox said, standing out in front of the historic Miller Theater more than a decade after he purchased the property. “It just sounded so dramatic. The Miller was right here on Broad Street and had always been here, so I decided to buy it, and I put over half a million dollars into the building.” Knox said he didn’t want to see the theater continue to bounce around from owner to owner without any real direction. “All the prior owners had these grandiose ideas, like making the theater into a bachelor pad or a night club, something that was not keeping with what it actually was from the start,” Knox said. “So, I bought it and saw what was really needed. The least glamorous aspect of the building turned out to be the most essential thing, which was a new roof. So, that’s where I started.” Knox repaired the roof, removed the moldy carpet and seats and installed a proper ventilation system in the building. After purchasing the property, Knox said he knew there was a lot of curiosity about the elegant Art Moderne style building that was founded by Frank Miller back in 1940. Frank Miller and his company, Augusta Amusements, owned and operated five downtown theaters and was known as one of the top entertainment promoters throughout the country. In fact, The Miller remained one of Augusta’s most popular downtown theaters for more than 40 years, until finally closing in 1984. “People cared about it,” Knox said. “We gave tours to all kinds of people who had fond memories of the theater, way back when it was thriving.” In the very beginning, Knox had high hopes for the theater. “I remember when I wrote, ‘It’s Time,’ on the marquee. I was trying to play off the ad slogan, ‘It’s Miller Time,’” Knox said, chuckling. “But after a while and a lot of effort to spark some public interest in restoring the theater, I became frustrated and decided to make a public statement. So I added the word, ‘Not’ in red letters with a little arrow. The marquee then said, ‘It’s Not Time.’ I was telling people, Augusta is not ready for something like this.” Knox said it was difficult to hear so many people in the community say how much they loved The Miller, but no one was willing to step up to the plate and restore the historic building. “So I began pitching a fit,” Knox said, laughing. “I was publicly stamping my feet because I was so frustrated. I was trying to make a statement.” He was fed up with Augusta’s lack of initiative to save its own history. “I have a tendency to be sort of pessimistic,” Knox said. “So that probably led me to feel like the glass is half empty and assume the worst.” By 2008, Knox generously offered the historic theater to the Symphony Orchestra Augusta. While the symphony was honored by the offer, it wasn’t until the fall of 2011 that the Board of Directors for Symphony Orchestra Augusta unanimously voted to accept the gifted building. Back then, the symphony’s board realized that a restoration project like The Miller was a massive undertaking. The symphony eventually determined it would cost more than $20 million to properly restore the historic structure, as well as purchase and renovate the former Cullum’s department store next door to the theater at 710 Broad Street. But the symphony had the patience and vision to make the project a success, Knox said. “I was like, ‘Take this off of my hands,’” Knox said. “And I’m so glad that more optimistic people took over and took it off of my hands. I knew it was going to cost a lot of money to restore it — way more than I could have done on my own or would have wanted to do on my own. I guess I didn’t have the energy and the patience to build a team and the coalition to make it happen.” In 2011, a capital campaign was launched to save the 1,300-seat theater, and by June 2016, through generous donations from community and local foundations, coupled with more than $5 million in Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) funds and federal and state historic preservation tax credits, enough money was raised to break ground. “I’m just glad that the people who took ownership of it, the symphony, and everybody who gathered to be a part of the project, they knew the right people and they were committed to doing it,” Knox said. “They did the planning and all the hard work because it is a tremendous amount of money they needed to raise.” The biggest driving force behind the restoration of the historic theater came from the dedication of the Board of Directors for The Miller, particularly the project chair, Levi Hill IV. “Levi is the passion behind the project,” said Anne Catherine Murray, executive director of Symphony Orchestra Augusta. “He just kept pushing the big boulder up the hill. Every time that there has been some kind of obstacle since 2008, Levi has stayed the course and just never given up. He’s been amazing. He’s literally unflappable. It has been his passion and leadership that has really made this a reality.” Now that the restoration of the historic theater is almost complete, Murray said it’s hard to believe how far the symphony has come in the past decade. Peter Knox and Anne Catherine Murray “We are nearing the finish line,” Murray said, smiling. “My deadline is Dec. 1, and I can tell you that I slept until about 2:30 a.m. this morning and have been up ever since then. It’s nerve-wracking, but most of the pressure is now on the construction guys (from Christman Company), and SMG, the management company. But I still wake up in the middle of the night with a bunch of thoughts racing through my head about the project.” Earlier this year, the symphony and The Miller’s board of directors agreed to a five-year management contract with the Pennsylvania-based company, SMG. “One of the reasons we hired SMG is they tell these stories about one theater they worked for that they were hired a month before the opening. Talk about a quick turnaround,” Murray said, laughing. “There wasn’t even an act planned for the opening. They didn’t have anything ready and SMG pulled it together. They always say, ‘It is going to be OK. We are going to help you through this.’ And they really have. They’ve done an amazing job.” In addition, the board hired Marty Elliott as its new general manager of The Miller. With more than 25 years in venue and event management, Elliott heads The Miller after leading the Fifth Third Bank Stadium and the Sports and Entertainment Park at Kennesaw State University. “The Miller Theater is a compelling project and I have an exceptional opportunity here to help this stunning theater reach its potential for SOA and for the community,” Elliott said, after being hired as the new general manager of The Miller. “It is evident that a lot of love and hard work have gone into every detail of the renovation and now we get to work together to reanimate the theater by bringing diverse and engaging events to life.” Murray said Elliott has been an incredible addition to the team and her management experience has been invaluable over the past few months. “When we hired Marty, I had no idea how much we didn’t know about how to run a theater,” Murray said. “Sure, we know how to program symphony concerts and we had all the finest consultants tell us how we should design the theater for the symphony, but it quickly became obvious all the things we didn’t know about managing a theater, like how to show the theater to promoters.” Depending on the type of show, there are hundreds of different questions and concerns that need to be addressed to sell a venue to a promoter, Murray said. “When Marty gives a tour, the promoters want to know about things like shore power, which I didn’t even know what shore power was,” Murray said, laughing. “Well, shore power is the place in the back that they plug in their tour bus or their trucks. And they wanted to know, did we have the right amount? Thanks to Marty, we do now.” There are also assets to The Miller that Murray said she didn’t realize were such selling points in a historic theater. “When we gave Marty a tour of the theater, the first thing she said was, ‘You have a basement!’” Murray said, chuckling. “Now, it is not the most beautiful basement, but, according to Marty, it is all about storage and she was so thrilled to see that we had a basement. She also could immediately walk into the theater and say, ‘You need an extra ice maker and you don’t have enough bars. We have to make sure we have enough rolling bars.’ She thinks about the theater in a way that she is looking at revenue generation and that’s what we really needed to make this sustainable.” By hiring Elliott, it also gives Murray much more time to concentrate on the upcoming symphony season. “The reason for us being here at The Miller is, it’s the new home of the symphony, so no detail has gone overlooked in terms of the theater’s acoustics,” Murray said. “People are absolutely thrilled about our new home. We have our last concert on Friday, Nov. 17, at First Baptist of Augusta. It is sort of a goodbye to First Baptist because they have been such a great host to us for so long. But our opening night here for the symphony at The Miller is Jan. 20. But the symphony will also be there for the gala on Jan. 6.” The black-tie, opening night gala on Jan. 6 at The Miller featuring Tony award winner and television star Sutton Foster is already completely sold out. It will truly be an extraordinary night, Murray said. “We are going over all the details,” Murray said. “For starters, this whole zone out front of the theater will be painted loading zone, so it will be just a drop off for the night of the gala and there will be valet parking for the higher priced tickets.” Those guests not using valet parking will be offered shuttle service from the parking deck next to the Richmond County Board of Education building. The Miller is also directing patrons to nearby public parking lots and planning for easy access for Uber and Lyft drivers that night. “I’m really excited,” Murray said. “It has been a long time coming.” Following the opening gala, Elliott has a number of shows and events already planned for the beginning of year at The Miller, Murray said. For instance, Henry Rollins’ spoken-word performance will be featured at The Miller on Jan. 8 followed by the band, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, on Jan. 12 and soul singer Lyfe Jennings on Jan. 13. There are tickets available for shows throughout the year such as the D.L. Hughley Family and Friends Tour on Feb. 10; a concert by jazz pianist and singer Diana Krall on Feb. 16; a concert by legendary singer Ronnie Milsap on Feb. 17; and a show by “Weird Al” Yankovic on April 14. “Marty has already got about 20 events scheduled and lots of stuff that she hasn’t announced yet,” Murray said. “People are just so excited about it. They have been looking for something like this for a long time.” The Miller along with the Imperial Theatre across the street on Broad, as well as the existing Bell Auditorium, will truly promote downtown Augusta’s theater district, she said. “We work very closely with the Imperial and its executive director, Charles Scavullo,” Murray said. “We are going to funnel shows their way that don’t fit here in The Miller, and I know they are going to do the same for us. We have even applied for grants together, so we definitely see each other as partners in this.” Knox said he was extremely pleased to see the positive energy and partnerships that are being established in downtown Augusta. “That’s what it is going to take,” Knox said to Murray. “I’m tickled to death that you guys pulled it off.” To see money raised by private individuals throughout the community, as well as more than $5 million in SPLOST funds and federal and state historic preservation tax credits, Knox acknowledges that the restoration of The Miller has been well worth the wait. “Raising that money was huge,” Knox said. “The fact that so many people gave a damn and pitched in, in whatever way they could, is so incredible. That’s what I’m so tickled about. To somehow be a catalyst for what came after I donated the theater has been remarkable. I’m certainly pleased and, most definitely, I’m pleasantly surprised.” People from all over the community really stepped up and made this project happen, Murray said. “Somebody asked me the other day, ‘How many volunteer hours have been logged by how many people over the years?’ and I had no idea,” Murray said. “I guessed at least 20,000 hours, but someone said it was much more than that. And then we had Levi and the entire Miller Board donate so much of their time and attorneys donated their fees to make this all happen. And of course there were the monetary donations. Whether it was $25 or $2.5 million, everybody has been so dedicated to getting the theater open and restored.” Standing outside The Miller on Broad Street, both Murray and Knox said it is hard to believe that that the opening night gala is less than two months away. “I remember the first time I came in this building was when I had my very first job here in Augusta back in 1996,” Murray said, laughing. “I worked for Historic Augusta’s Main Street program. And, I swear, Erick (Montgomery) and I came through this building and a guy answered the door, packing heat. He lived in there somewhere up at the top.” Knox immediately remembered that individual was Dave Day, who bought The Miller at an auction in the mid-1990s. “He had a bachelor pad up near the top,” Knox said. “I remember the roof was leaking really bad, even back then. I can’t believe how time flies by.” It’s been almost 10 years since Knox donated The Miller to the symphony and he’s proud to see the opening of the newly restored theater just around the corner. “I’m tickled to death, and I’m proud to be associated with it,” Knox said to Murray. “But you guys are the ones who really deserve the credit. Sure, I’m associated with The Miller, but my part ended back in 2008.” Murray said Knox has always played a significant role in the restoration of The Miller. “Well, I don’t think your part ever ended,” she said, smiling. “You’ve always been a huge supporter of the project since you donated it. And I think, in the past year alone, what has happened downtown is what we’ve all been hoping and praying for for so long. We’ve really turned a corner, and it’s truly exciting for everyone.” The post The Miller: It’s Really Time appeared first on Metro Spirit.

    Metro Spirit / 9 d. 21 h. 20 min. ago more
  • Mayor Davis is ‘martyred’ in Augusta? Not even close.Mayor Davis is ‘martyred’ in Augusta? Not even close.

    Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis is once again throwing up his hands and blaming others throughout the city for his own actions. But folks aren’t buying these poor excuses anymore. The mayor is not new to his position, and he’s definitely not new to politics. In fact, he’s up for re-election next year, and there are more and more people throughout Augusta that are ready for a change come 2018. Folks are sick of Davis pointing fingers and playing the victim, especially when he’s the one stirring the pot. During a speech before the Rotary Club of Augusta this week, the mayor waited until the very end of his talk to discuss the controversial proposal to build a new $120 million arena at the abandoned Regency Mall site in south Augusta. With several prominent community leaders in the audience, it was clearly a topic he wasn’t eager to discuss. “And so, it brings me to the thing that is on most of your minds. ‘Mayor, you can’t leave if you don’t say something about the James Brown Arena,’” Davis said. “I know. I know. That’s why I waited until the last few minutes.” It was time for the mayor to face the music. “There is a conversation going on in our community that has, in fact, become divisive,” the mayor said. “There is a conversation in our community that, again, is very painful. I did not know that I would be 48 years old and on the verge of being martyred in my own city.” Cue the violins. The mayor is laying it on thick. “I did not know that because I thought about something differently than other people thought about it, not only did I think about it differently, but I asked the question and I said, ‘What are the possibilities if we did this?’ Little did I know… that there would be a variety of conversations that happened as a result of that and I would be written about for 60 days in both The Augusta Chronicle and the Metro Spirit, not once, but oftentimes twice a week, sometimes three times a week,” the mayor said. “Little did I know that.” Little did the mayor know that if he surprised the entire city with a brand new proposal to build a $120 million arena with taxpayers’ money on an abandoned piece of property that the city does not own that people might have a strong reaction? Really?!?!? Come on, mayor. But then Davis’ speech began to take on a different tone. One of blame. He began implying that anyone who did not support the Regency Mall proposal was not being “inclusive” of all residents of Richmond County. The mayor said he believed former city leaders, the media and business people in Augusta over the years when they said they would focus significant “effort and energy” on reconnecting Gordon Highway with downtown. “Somewhere along the way, I read it. I believed it,” Davis said. “Augusta is more than downtown. Augusta is more than just one thing. A city that we live in is a city that, again, should provide opportunity for all of our residents.” The mayor then suggested that those who are questioning the Regency Mall proposal are the ones dividing the city. “It does not have to be an us versus them. It does not have to be west Augusta versus south Augusta. And even if you don’t like my slogan, ‘One Augusta,’ at the end of the day, we are all Augustans,” Davis said. “We are all Augustans who care about this city. We are all Augustans who are passionate about this city. That matters to me.” All of that sounds wonderful, but a city leader also must be wise and use his or her due diligence when it comes to taxpayers’ money, especially when the price tag is more than $120 million. The mayor should know that fact. However, Davis suggested that the Regency Mall proposal would be successful because he has done his homework on the location. “If I don’t know about something, I won’t talk about it,” Davis said. “But if you hear me talk about it, particularly publicly or even privately, I have done my research and I know, at least part of what I’m talking about.” As far as the Regency Mall project, Davis said “there is a moment in time” that a city must be bold and act even if there are differing opinions about the proposal. But for Davis, this speech wasn’t about facts because those are difficult to explain. Instead, the mayor avoided any facts and stuck to emotions. “As your mayor, you expect me to be forthright and you expect me to be honest,” Davis said. “I will do that every day.” That is, except when dealing with all of the members of the Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority, especially Chairman Cedric Johnson and Vice Chairman Brad Usry. Isn’t that right, Mr. Mayor? He also said that the four authority members who supported the Regency Mall site shouldn’t face public criticism. “That is OK that if we say four of the six voting members voted and said, ‘We like this site and there are reasons why we like this site,’” Davis said. “That is OK. That is what makes Augusta who she is. And that is OK.” The mayor should have stopped there. He was already behind, but then he began digging himself in a hole. He began using odd comparisons that not only didn’t make any sense, but caused people’s stomachs to turn. Davis used the example of one golf fan not being excited about Tiger Woods returning to play the Masters, while he, on the other hand, would be happy to see that happen. “If you tell me that you are not happy that Tiger Woods is coming back and going to play possibly in the Masters, and I say, ‘Well, absolutely, I’m excited about it.’ That is OK,” Davis said. “At the end of the day, what matters most is that when we have these big issues that turn divisive, what we should do as a community, what we should do as a city is stop and remind ourselves, just like the good Texans in (Sutherland) Springs.” Did the mayor really just compare a horrific and violent shooting that murdered 26 churchgoers in a small Texas town to the city’s dispute over the Regency Mall proposal? “They were church members together; they were neighbors together; they were co-workers together; they were friends, school members, partners, parishioners and they stood together in that church,” Davis said. “May we also stand together as Augustans beyond this decision. Beyond where we are around this issue and the divisiveness of it.” Close the book on Mayor Davis. He is done. The post Mayor Davis is ‘martyred’ in Augusta? Not even close. appeared first on Metro Spirit.

    Metro Spirit / 9 d. 21 h. 40 min. ago more
  • Building a project of loveBuilding a project of love

    It took a tragedy for two sisters to dream up and follow through on their biggest venture ever. Dennis and Amber Carraway Amber Harrington Carraway, 35, first met her husband, Dennis Carraway, during an Augusta State University study abroad trip to Europe in May 2004. Amber and Dennis — who stood at a towering 6 feet 4 inches tall — were drawn to each other. She wondered how they had never met until that trip, as she was a graduate of Lakeside High School in 2000, and he graduated from Evans High School in 2001. That trip would become a defining moment for their relationship, cut short too soon. After dating for a couple of years, he asked Amber to marry him in May 2006. They married in November 2008. Dennis was an eighth-grade history teacher at Columbia Middle School, where he also was the head football coach. His stature made him seem intimidating, but Amber and her younger sister, Brittany Harrington (a master hairstylist and owner of Studio 285), describe him as one of the sweetest guys they’d ever known — Amber said he was “just a mush of feelings.” “He was bigger than life,” Brittany, 32, said. “And his students called him ‘Care Bear.’ He looked scary, but he was really sweet. It sounds so cliché when people say, ‘Oh, he was the best person ever,’ but he really was. He had a specific relationship with every one of his students.” Amber’s relationship with Dennis — as with her sister — could be described as a ying and a yang. Brittany grew to be very close to Dennis, who wanted to be called her “brother” rather than “brother-in-law.” After a full day of work and coaching at school, Dennis often showed up at Studio 285 to take out the trash. While he was there one day, she found out just what he felt about the words “brother-in-law.” Brittany Harrington and Dennis Carraway “He was so sensitive; one time he came in, and one of my clients was like, ‘Is that your boyfriend,’ and I was like, no!” Brittany said. “It was too hard to explain, like we called each other brother and sister, but I wasn’t gonna sit there and go, ‘That’s my brother,’ so that they thought that my mom birthed him. I just said, ‘That’s my brother-in-law,’ and he heard me as he was walking out, he was taking out the trash. And he came back in and he goes, ‘Britt, come here!’ And he calls me outside onto the sidewalk, and when I turn and look up at him, he’s crying! And I was like, what is wrong with you? And he goes ‘Don’t you ever let me hear you call me your brother-in-law again. I’m your brother.’ I was like, ‘No, I was just trying to explain like you didn’t come out of my mom.’ And he was like ‘I am your brother!’” Dennis and his wife were opposites in many ways — and it worked well for them. “He was the type of person that if he saw you, he was gonna speak to you,” Amber said. “Going to Walmart was a three-hour venture because he had to stop and talk to every single person that he saw, and I’m just trying to get some groceries and get out of there. I don’t know of anyone who ever hated him, or had a problem with him at any point. He was effortlessly kind, whereas I always feel like I have to work every day like, ‘(sigh) — that person’s so irritating’ or trying to always do the right thing. Like I have to try at it, where he effortlessly always did the right thing; he was so sweet to so many people and so many kids.” Amber and Dennis Carraway Amber and Dennis had dreams of growing old together. He was furthering his schooling and had been planning to go for a Ph.D. in education, hoping to one day become a principal. Meanwhile, Amber had been helping Brittany with Studio 285, handling the business side of things for the salon Brittany had started in 2009. But the plan was for Amber to stay at home or scale back working once Dennis had reached his career goals. That plan would never happen. One night, on April 2, 2014, Amber came home pretty late. Dennis had cooked her dinner, and it was waiting for her in the microwave. “He had cleaned the whole house; he was really excited about that, and he showed me,” Amber said. “And then he sat down (to watch TV), because he loved history, and he loved World War I, World War II — and he was watching a World War II documentary. And I did not want to watch that. I said ‘It’s 11:44, you’ve got to be up at 5 a.m., we’ve got to go to bed.’ And he said ‘OK, I’ll be in there in just a second.’ And I said, ‘OK.’” Amber woke up around 4 a.m. and noticed that Dennis had never come to bed. When she went out to the living room, he was still lying on the couch. The words she spoke to him before going to bed was the last conversation they’d ever have. Dennis and Amber Carraway “So, he was a big guy. And he’d had stress,” Amber said. “He had been to the doctor the week before, had blood work done, and everything checked out. But that night, in his sleep, he’d had what is called an aortic rupture, or an aortic aneurism. He apparently had a bulge on his aorta, which is the part of the heart where it pumps the fresh blood up. “And just that night, for whatever reason, it busted, and I’ve been told by several doctors, if you’re on an operating table and it busts, you’ve got about five seconds to live,” Amber said. “And so it’s immediate, it’s fatal.” The whole family was devastated by the 31-year-old’s death. Amber said the biggest thing Dennis wanted to be in life was a father. That never happened — but he did have about 800 kids show up to his funeral. “He never got to be (a father),” Amber said, “but when I saw all those kids whose lives he’d touched, I was like, ‘He was a father to so many kids.’” One of the reasons Dennis made such an impact on kids at his school was because he had been a part of a divorced-parents family and could relate to a lot of kids going through a tough time. Every once in a while, one of Dennis’ former students will come up to Amber, almost star-struck, because they recognize her as THE Mrs. Carraway. “Apparently, he would tell stories about me in the classroom like that I had devil horns and a tail, so he made me into this character for his students, and then he had pictures of me on his desk and so forth, so I think my image is burned in their mind,” Amber said. “But yeah, he made me into quite the character, every single year that he taught.” Growing a business In the years preceding Dennis’ death, Brittany had been growing more and more successful in her hair business. She started in the business when she was barely a teenager — at 14, she started working as a personal assistant to a stylist and three years later became her apprentice. After graduating from the Georgia Institute of Cosmetology, Brittany opened her first salon. After about three years, she knew she was ready to grow, and that’s when Studio 285 came about. (She named it that because she didn’t want the word “salon” in her business name, and 285 comes from her birth date — February 1985.) Studio 285 was in its first location for three years. After outgrowing that location, Studio 285 moved and was in its second location almost seven years. During that time, Amber had quit her job as a nurse manager for Augusta Urology — where she had worked for eight years — and came in to help Brittany with the business side of things. “She’s the artsy one,” Amber said, “and I’m the paper and business one. So when I came in, in 2012, it was not a ‘low-end’ operation, but it was a very simple operation. She had three people working with her, and I came in and I revamped everything from hiring to firing to a computer system to a credit card system.” Brittany is a rising star in the world of hair. Throughout time, her client list has grown to include reality TV stars. One of her proudest moments in her career was working with celebrity hairstylist Susan Lipson. “So I just happened to be watching TV one day, and it was on E News or something, and this woman Susan Lipson came up, who is a celebrity hairstylist, and she was talking about extensions,” Brittany said. “And at the time, I was really getting into doing extensions a lot. That’s what I’m known for is extensions.” Brittany found Lipson on Facebook and discovered she does a class every year called On Set Hair Productions out in Los Angeles. “I applied to her class; I didn’t get called for like six months,” Brittany said. “And then like in April, someone called me from her office and said that I could come to the class. And it was really expensive, so I scrounged up every drop I had and paid for it, and I was gonna be out there for 12 days, so because I was paying for it all and scrambling up all this money, I was calling the school one day to like make my last payment on it before I flew out there. And when I called, Susan Lipson had forwarded the calls to her cellphone. So when she picked up the phone and said who she was, I was starstruck on the phone. And I told her who I was and where I was and when I was coming. And she said, ‘Where did you say you were?’ And I said, ‘I’m in Augusta,’ and she said, ‘I’m in Atlanta. How far is that from you?’ And I totally played it off like, ‘Oh, only like an hour.’ And she said, ‘I’m doing a movie up here, why don’t you come up here and help me?’ And she was like, ‘It’ll give you a head start on the class.’ So I literally dropped everything I was doing — I had a full book — and I drove up there as fast as I could. I acted like it took an hour; it really took me two, and then I was like lost when I got up there, and I ride right up into this movie set.” So after she got there, Brittany helped Lipson do hair on the Lifetime movie “Ring of Fire,” starring Jewel. After that, she went to Lipson’s class in L.A., where Lipson ended up offering Brittany a job three times on the spot. “She sat me down and was like, ‘I’ll do anything to have you out here; you can come live with me, I’ll get your feet off the ground, this is where you need to be,’ and I was like, ‘No, I’ve got to go back, I’ve got to run my business.’ So that’s when we really got hungry and started growing.” Her client list grew to include reality stars from a show she and Amber loved, back when they say they had the time to be reality TV show junkies. The show was called “Big Rich Atlanta.” It turned out, one of Brittany’s clients was the sister-in-law to the sisters on the show. (Amber and Brittany were especially drawn to the show because it was about two sisters about their age who were trying to build a jewelry company.) Brittany’s name has grown in the industry because the stars’ fans ask them who does their extensions when they see their photos on Instagram. More growth Brittany figured Studio 285 would stay in the second location forever — but life had different plans for their future. After the death of Dennis, Amber took a six-month break, spending some of those weeks by herself in Europe. During the trip, she visited places she and her husband had been together, and also some places Dennis had been without her. Amber was blown away by the architecture she saw there. “While in Europe, I found my new self, and wanted to bring parts of what I experienced back home with me,” Amber said. “One of the things that fascinated me was the infrastructure of London, and it made me crazy thinking, ‘Why don’t we have this in Augusta?’ When I returned to work, I had new inspiration, and together, Brittany and I came up with the idea of Carraway Crossing, which would be an all-inclusive shopping experience.” Out of Dennis’ death came this new dream that the sisters built from the ground up all on their own, and it’s all dedicated to him. Outside is a magnolia tree, chosen for the property because “Steel Magnolias” was his favorite movie. Studio 285 is now in a 4,100-square-foot location on Trade Center Drive, off Evans to Locks Road in Evans. It opened up in July, about three years after Amber first had the vision. The outside of the building — which totals 7,200 square feet and houses other businesses — is based on what Amber saw in the Hampton Hill neighborhood in London. “It’s all white townhomes, beautiful — that’s what this is made to be like,” Brittany said. “And then the inside of the salon is meant to be like Rush in Piccadilly Circus in London. That’s why it’s quirky and weird and eccentric. But that’s also what I am.” Brittany’s vision for the inside of her salon is based on what she’s seen in Los Angeles, Atlanta and New York. But her personality also comes into play. “I like Ripley’s Believe It or Not, the Haunted Mansion at Disney World. I want every room to have its own feel,” Brittany said. There’s a UFO-themed wall, plants above the shampoo bowls that are inspired by Rainforest Cafe, and the sisters’ favorite locations are represented throughout the salon. “Everyone knows that my favorite place in the world is Jamaica, so in my private room, I have the western end of Jamaica, and then down the middle is the islands of the Bahamas, and then we have Cuba towards the front (my boyfriend is Cuban).” The floor even represents the ocean — the design was based on a picture of ocean on Google earth. Dennis may be gone from this Earth, but he’ll always be a part of the sisters’ hearts. Even their new logo is a tribute to him. “The ‘D’ is for Dennis in ‘Studio,’ and it has an arrow pointing up to heaven,” Amber said. “So on everything we have now, the ‘D’ points to him.” The new Studio 285 is at 2549 Trade Center Drive in Evans, in Carraway Crossing. Visit studio285inc.com or call 706-945-0175. The sisters also have opened up 285 Too in Atlanta as a destination for their Augusta hairstylists to work and train in Atlanta. It’s at 3210 Roswell Road, Atlanta, 30305. The post Building a project of love appeared first on Metro Spirit.

    Metro Spirit / 9 d. 21 h. 47 min. ago more
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