Local leaders look at past and future at N.A. Chamber breakfast

December 15, 2018

Looking back at 2018 and forward to 2019, local leaders addressed the state of North Augusta on Friday morning.

At the North Augusta Chamber of Commerce’s “State of our Community” breakfast, North Augusta Mayor Bob Pettit said he thinks 2018 has been a pretty good year for the city. Pettit mentioned Riverside Village, calling SRP Park “phenomenal” and mentioning the increase to tourism the Crowne Plaza Hotel will bring.

Pettit also talked about the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam, saying it is “critically important.”

The Lock and Dam is currently set to be demolished and replaced with a structure that will allow fish passage and maintain the current pool level.

“As a city and county and the City of Augusta as well now, I think more, we’re not just accepting what the Corps of Engineers is proposing without a serious look at it and trying to figure out what the alternatives are,” Pettit said. “Some people have said I’m fighting a battle that can’t be won, maybe they’re right, but I’m going to fight the battle and I think for the City of North Augusta that’s vitally important.”

Aiken County Council Chairman Gary Bunker also mentioned the Lock and Dam during the breakfast, saying it is important than an option is chosen that holds the current Savannah River pool level and maintained economic vitality.

“I think North Augusta wants a riverfront village, and not a mud flap-front village or a muddy trickle-front village, so it’s in both Aiken County’s and North Augusta’s interest that we get the best deal possible on the Lock and Dam,” Bunker said.

Pettit and Bunker each mentioned the Capital Projects Sales Tax IV referendum, which passed in November, as being a positive for the city.

“We know that North Augusta has a lot of very critical projects on the CPST ballot – everything from a new Public Safety department, to Greeneway and park projects, to road and resurfacing and wastewater projects, so there’s quite a bit here that I think North Augusta is going to benefit from during CPST,” Bunker said.

Pettit brought up the much-debated Meriwether monument in Calhoun Park – honoring the one white man killed in the Hamburg Massacre – about which he recently published a recommendation to add an education element.

Pettit said North Augusta City Council hasn’t yet been able to discuss the issue.

“I never try and make a right decision, I always try and make the best decision based on the information I have at my disposal. But you know sometimes you’re not making the right decision, you’re doing what’s right, and in my mind, my recommendation to council is doing what’s right without a doubt,” Pettit said. Those at the breakfast applauded.

In addition to Bunker and Pettit, Aiken County Public School District superintendent Dr. Sean Alford spoke about construction around the district as well as recently released school ratings.

He mentioned the construction expanding North Augusta High School is currently on time and under budget, and said the construction was “certainly a jewel in our crown as it relates to Aiken County School District.”

He also mentioned school ratings recently announced in the district’s state report card. North Augusta High School was the only high school in Aiken County to receive a rating of Excellent.

Fort Gordon Garrison Commander Col. James Clifford also spoke during the event, focusing on the ongoing and upcoming construction on the NSA facility and the Army Cyber Command Center.

Clifford said there are currently four major projects ongoing, worth about a billion dollars in infrastructure and investment.

Clifford said they are currently working on an additional gate to Fort Gordon, and an interchange off Interstate 20 that would lead directly to that gate.

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