Columbia County won't have an election on Sept. 20 after all.
Taxpayers, rejoice; you just saved $40,000.
It still isn't clear just who failed to communicate the information about the referendum Columbia County was required to hold "on the earliest date" after House Bill 853 was signed by the governor.
A "yes" vote would have allowed Columbia County to set up tax allocation districts. It's basically a process that allows a community's tax base to be manipulated to encourage private investors to spend their money the way bureaucrats want them to.
Augusta turned down the districts in a July 21 vote. If they'd been approved, Richmond County would have been able to lend a hand to construction of the big shopping center at Interstate 20 and Riverwatch Parkway. The developers will now have to finance the project on their own.
Hate it when that happens.
Columbia County voters probably would have approved the vote. Manipulation or not, the tax allocation districts don't directly take money out of anyone's pockets, so there's little reason to oppose them. (Augusta voters hate everything these days, so they're different.)
Whatever the case, someone didn't get the memo noting that the governor had signed the bill for Columbia County to hold a vote. By the time local officials heard about it, it was too late to set up the July 21 vote. Holding off until Sept. 20 would have been OK, but since it wasn't the "earliest" possible date, the referendum may have been illegal.
So there's no vote Sept. 20. Elections officials this week are letting the polling sites at churches and schools know that their buildings won't be needed after all. They'd all received a letter just over a week ago telling them to prepare for the unexpected invasion of the voters.
State Rep. Ben Harbin says the plan will go back on next year's legislative drawing board, with a vote planned during the July 18 primary. Maybe this time the folks in Atlanta and those here at home will actually talk beforehand.
Tech. Sgt. Derrol Turner has started a scholarship in memory of his late daughter, Lea Turner.
Turner is pledging to fund two $1,250 scholarships per year at Greenbrier High School. Lea was in her senior year when she died in a car crash on the way to school.
Turner's scholarship at Greenbrier joins the Brandon Layton scholarship at Lakeside High School as a memorial for a student killed in a car crash.
Meanwhile, family and friends of Tariq Fischer, Imran Khan and Ebad Hasan are selling blue wristbands for the Panacea Fund. The money raised benefits a future community construction project for Augusta's Islamic Center.
The bands are imprinted with the boys' first initials, TIE, and the July 13 date of the crash in which the three were killed. Each band costs $5.50, including shipping, and can be purchased at www.panaceafund.org.
Prayer on Thursday
Dearly departed of a different sort are the reason for a statewide prayer vigil Thursday. Gov. Sonny Perdue will lead the vigil at the state Capitol starting at 12:30 p.m., in honor of soldiers from Georgia who have died while in service in the war on terror.
Perdue is also asking citizens all over the state to join in a moment of silence at 1 p.m. Columbia County Commission Chairman Ron Cross is helping to get the word out for those in our community to participate.
We can remember, for example, soldiers like David Jones, whose funeral was held in Martinez last week. From our positions of comfort and safety, maintained by the sacrifice of men like Jones, saying a prayer for the living and thanks for the service of the dead is the least we can do.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to email@example.com.)
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