With fear that Fort Gordon could end up on the list for base closures next year, Metro Augusta/Columbia County Clean & Beautiful committees are banding with resident volunteers to make sure federal officials know the community cares about its fort by keeping it clean.
The group will clean up a 10-mile stretch of Gordon Highway near the fort Saturday. The route will begin at the fort's Gate 1 and extend toward Augusta.
"We are doing this to show BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) that we support the Fort Gordon," said Lillian-Katharine Blanos, executive director of Clean and Beautiful, which is working with the group Pride and Progress on the event. "We also are doing it to give residents in Augusta and the surrounding area an opportunity to do something in support of keeping the base open.
"A lot of people wonder, 'What can I do? Little old me, what can I do?' We thought that by participating in the cleanup and making sure it is clean and kept clean, it will be a good opportunity for everyone."
As of Thursday, Blanos said more than 100 people have signed up to volunteer, including groups from the Martinez-Evans Rotary Club and the Metro Augusta Homebuilders Association.
Anyone interested can met at the Regency Mall property on Gordon Highway at 8 a.m. for breakfast refreshments, registration and a welcoming ceremony including Harlem Mayor Scott Dean, Grovetown Mayor Dennis Trudeau, Columbia County Board of Commissioners Chairman Ron Cross and Augusta Mayor Bob Young.
"I guess it is just being able to keep the post looking good and clean," Trudeau said. "When people visit it, they will say, "Well this is an outstanding little Fort Gordon here."'
A significant part of Columbia County's population and economy depend on the fort, officials said.
Grovetown is home to many military personnel, and Trudeau said the fort's closing would be devastating for the city. He urged residents to participate in programs like the cleanup and write letters to Congress supporting Fort Gordon as a viable post.
During the first four rounds of closures from 1988 to 1995, 96 bases were shut down nationwide. Residents and leaders from Augusta's downtown to Columbia County's rural areas have spoken in support of the fort being excluded from next year's round of closings.
"I think it is one way to show them we are concerned," Dean said. "It's not just the big money downtown. This is the regular citizens, the outlying areas. They are concerned about the fort and know the vital importance it is to the area.
Volunteers, who are willing to work a couple of hours, will be picking up litter thrown from vehicles, tires, vehicle parts and anything else that doesn't belong on the roadside. All cleanup supplies, including reflective vests, garbage bags and gloves will be provided, Blanos said.
"It's not like they would be giving up a whole Saturday," Blanos said. "It is something that is easy to do and to say 'I care."'
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: Gordon Highway cleanup to support Fort Gordon
WHEN: Saturday, 8-10 a.m.
WHERE: Volunteers will meet at the Regency Mall property, 1700 Gordon Highway, for breakfast and registration
INFORMATION: Call Metro Augusta/Columbia County Clean & Beautiful at 261-4390 to preregister
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