While his recent federal conviction revealed the dizzying number of cookie jars into which Charles Walker had his hands, there is another unsettling aspect of Walker's legacy that affects Columbia County - and which needs to be fixed, pronto.
Over the past couple of years, Columbia County officials have tried repeatedly to open a dialogue with their Richmond County counterparts regarding industrial development.
With his position as chairman of Richmond's Development Authority, Walker and his puppets on that body have virtually strangled any talk of regional cooperation. The rebuff to Columbia County has gotten so bad that it's actually had a beneficial effect: It's forced Columbia County to finally work harder to establish a relationship with neighboring McDuffie and Lincoln counties.
State Sen. Jim Whitehead, who served six short months alongside Walker in the state Senate, says the Legislature has even set aside funds to lay the foundation for a cooperative effort between the three counties, focusing on their common border with Clarks Hill Lake.
Still, as the central city area, Augusta should do more to work with adjoining counties. Walker, for his own reasons, helped prevent cooperation with Columbia County; with him out of the picture, his fellow Development Authority members are set free to pursue a better relationship with their fast-growing neighbors in Columbia County.
In spite of all the past rebuffs, Columbia County has come to the table with Augusta over and over. It's time for Augusta, free of Walker, to make its own cooperative effort.
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