Columbia County Republicans got an opportunity on Nov. 19 to hear from county officials regarding their proposal to incorporate and consolidate the county.
Now the county's Democrats want to hear about consolidation, too.
The county's Democratic Party was first to work on public education regarding the issue when it brought in Ralph Walker, the Augusta State University professor and expert on Augusta's consolidation plan.
The Democrats scheduled a town hall meeting for 7 p.m. Dec. 8 at Harlem United Methodist Church, inviting all county commissioners and members of the legislative delegation. We look forward to hearing from the elected officials and the citizens from this community on this important issue, says Party Chairman Scott Nichols in a statement accompanying the announcement.
Just one problem: The county had already scheduled its own town hall meeting on the subject " at 6 p.m. Dec. 8 at the Government Complex Auditorium in Evans.
Todd Glover, the director of the county's Management Services Division, announced the meeting Nov. 19 at the Republican Party Breakfast. He had just shown the crowd a Powerpoint program with information about consolidation, and along with County Commission Chairman Ron Cross noted that the program is available for any group that requests it.
Informed about the scheduling overlap, Nichols says he'll instead invite his folks to come to the county session in Evans.
The Democrats aren't the only folks wanting to hear more about consolidation; the leaders of the county's two cities are keen to hear about the devilish details, too.
A contingent from Harlem and Grovetown attended that GOP breakfast, some of them hearing the county's presentation for the first time.
Their reaction? They're wavering between cynical and skeptical " cynical about a presentation in which the pro-consolidation presenter gets to point out the issue's negatives and then rebut them, and skeptical that the county has any interest in looking out for the future of the two existing cities.
Because consolidation can go nowhere without action from the legislative delegation, the key to the immediate future of consolidation rests in the hands of state Rep. Barry Fleming " who also serves as the city attorney for Harlem. Don't expect his stamp of approval on anything that is going to hurt the county's oldest municipality.
GOP opposes Y plan
The county's Republican Party scored a coup by getting all members of the legislative delegation together Nov. 19, something the Chamber of Commerce couldn't do two weeks earlier even though the Chamber's breakfast was free to Chamber members.
The party's executive board also hits a bull's eye by taking a bold stand against the county's proposal to give away land at Blanchard Woods Park for a new Family Y branch.
If the Family Y wishes to operate in Columbia County, then they should be required to purchase property just like any other business entity, writes GOP Chairman Lee Muns to county commissioners on behalf of the board.
The Y has put on a quiet PR push for the proposal recently, including getting the Columbia County Chamber to hold its after-hours networking event at the Wilson Branch in west Augusta, and visiting the school system's principals conference to chat up leading educators.
The Y director even made it a point to find me at that recent Chamber breakfast to proclaim he's a Columbia County resident.
Well, swell. Then he ought to oppose giving away his county's land, too.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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