Ring the bells, put on your party clothes, run into the streets and cheer: The groundbreaking for Columbia County's campus of Augusta Technical College will be held next Friday.
No, really. I'm not making this up. Sure, somebody could be pulling my leg, but I don't think so. I got a a really nice invitation.
It says, "President Terry D. Elam, the Board of Directors and the Faculty and Staff of Augusta Technical College invite you to attend the Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Columbia County Campus Friday, September 14, 2007, 1 p.m. Really. We Promise."
OK, so that last part wasn't on there. But it might as well have been. Do you realize we've been talking about getting a tech school in Columbia County since 1793, when Revolutionary War submariner David Bushnell moved here and wanted to start an engineering school?
Well, not really. But it sure seems like an awful long time since Columbia County donated the land for the school at Horizon South Industrial Park near Grovetown, then sat back and watched as the site was reclaimed by forest.
Finally, though, with state funding now in place, the golden shovels come out next Friday. I'm guessing they'll say more about it at the ceremony, but based on the pace of this project to this point, the first classes should be held in 2046.
Sorry. Kidding again. It's hard not to joke about something that has been such a source of frustration for so long. It's sort of like marriage. I'm guessing the first actual classes will be 2009, give or take a few months. They might even coincide with the opening of Columbia County's fifth high school nearby.
Some people in the early stages wanted that school to be a sort of tech magnet school. The final decision was to instead make it another standard high school. Still, the school system and Augusta Tech can be expected to take advantage of the new Tech campus to help improve programs offered in all Columbia County high schools.
If you're one of those skeptical folks who won't believe the groundbreaking is occurring until you see the dirt for yourself, the site is located off of Horizon South Parkway (otherwise known as Lewiston Road), just outside the Grovetown city limits sign.
All kidding aside, this is an outstanding achievement for Columbia County. And it's about dang time.
New woman leader
Speaking of achievements, congratulations to Rosemary Fitzpatrick on her selection by the Columbia County Democratic Party to fill the unexpired term of Scott Nichols. Nichols recently completed an unsuccessful run for the state Senate, and resigned as party chairman because of the increasing travel requirements of his job as a dam engineer.
Now, for the first time, the chairmen of both major Columbia County political parties are actually chair-women. Debbie McCord took over the Republican Party reins this spring.
Fitzpatrick says she plans to continue Nichols' fight to get Columbia County to implement impact fees on new construction. Good luck with that. Her bio says she's the mother of three daughters, like me, so I'm sure she's accustomed to hair-pulling frustration.
The Democrats' next meeting is at 7 p.m. Sept. 10 at the Government Complex Auditorium in Evans.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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