Apparently, it really is true: Life can sometimes imitate art.
In the case of The News-Times contest to choose a "mayor" of Evans, art seems to be imitating current events just a little too closely.
In honor of Money magazine's ranking of Evans as the 32nd-best place to live in the United States, The News-Times recently kicked off a tongue-in-cheek contest to pick a "mayor" of the fast-growing but ill-defined Columbia County community.
Information and an entry form for the contest appears in the print edition of The News-Times; The deadline is at 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 12, for those who want to suggest the name of someone who ought to be named "mayor," and the paper will soon have an online "runoff" among finalists to pick the winner of the purely honorary title.
It's all in good fun. Yet as the contest reaches a climax, some county officials are just getting started discussing a plan that could actually turn Evans - and, eventually, all of Columbia County - into a city.
This idea has surfaced before. The last time it spurred Augusta lawmakers to quickly move ahead - a little too quickly, many believe - and consolidate the city and county governments. Some Augusta officials worried that Columbia County would gain access to municipal grants if it incorporated, and the new burg could even challenge Augusta's claim as the area's central city.
By state law, Augusta's consolidation meant Columbia County couldn't incorporate without leaving a no-man's-land buffer along the Richmond County line to prevent the two cities from bumping heads.
This time around, the scenario goes like this: Evans would incorporate as a short-lived city. After a few months, the county and the new city would seek consolidation. The outcome would be the city of Evans-Columbia County, able to take advantage of federal and state grants for both cities and counties.
It's such a longshot that it sounds absurd, but county officials are seriously studying the ramifications now. Certainly, before anything is set in concrete, the concept will have to come out of the boardrooms and into public view to see if citizens would support, even temporarily, the creation of another layer of government just to eventually gain access to a piggier share of outside tax dollars.
The News-Times contest is strictly for laughs, a lighthearted way to celebrate the accolades for Evans. Fundamental changes to the community's government are no laughing matter, though, and will require a lot of campaigning - and no small amount of convincing - to persuade citizens that they aren't getting a booby prize.
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