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Judge hears bid to delay SPLOST vote







APRIL 17 - 23, 2014

Travis Wright

Eddie Bussey 706-772-9800

UrbanProWeekly • APRIL 17 - 23, 2014

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UrbanProWeekly • APRIL 17 - 23, 2014



UrbanProWeekly • APRIL 17 - 23, 2014



Judge: No ruling on SPLOST spending . . . . . . but May 20 Referendum stands By Frederick Benjamin Sr. UrbanProWeekly Staff Writer AUGUSTA On Wednesday, April 16, Augusta businessman Les Morton went one step further than the growing number of elected officials and community leaders who have voiced opposition to the upcoming May 20 vote on the next round of the (SPLOST) special purpose local option sales tax. He actually did something about it. Morton took his case to the local courts. And while Morton didn’t get exactly what he wanted, he didn’t come away empty handed. He came away with a revised approach. Here’s what happened in court. His attempt to seek an injunction to halt the SPLOST 7 vote was derailed due to a legal technicality. However, the heart of his challenge — the way the city uses SPLOST money — is still viable and the city still must defend its actions in future court hearings. Those hearings should come sooner rather than later as Morton plans to amend and refile his complaint in a couple of weeks. At the beginning of the April 16 hearing, Columbia County Superior Court Judge Michael Annis advised the court that he wouldn’t be able to make a ruling because of a procedural error. City attorney Andrew MacKenzie told the judge that he had not been properly served. And while Morton countered that he had certified letters delivered to the entire commission, including the mayor and MacKenzie, the judge said he could not grant the injunction under the those circumstances. More importantly, the judge said that he could not make a ruling on the legality of the city’s use of special purpose local option sales tax revenues until the parties are served in a proper manner. He did, however, permit Morton to present his case

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and listen to the city’s rebuttal. From a legal representation standpoint, Morton was out-gunned. While he appeared without an attorney by his side, city attorney MacKenzie showed up with two city attorneys and former city attorney Jim Wall in tow. Wall, now a member of the Augusta firm Wall Ellison LLP, still represents the city in certain cases. For Morton, the court appearance was an “eye opener.” “I’m just getting started,” he told UrbanProWeekly, a few hours after the court appearance. Morton, a Paine College alumnus who holds a graduate degree in urban planning and public policy said that he was not surprised by what happened. “It was a good day. I learned a lot. I learned even more from the city attorney and his high-priced consultants. The judge basically told me to go back and “tell everything.” And that is just what he plans to do. “This injunction was only four pages long. When I refile it will be 20-30 pages long. I’m exposing everything.” Morton has done his homework and on the surface it would appear that in the next round, he could easily be better prepared than the city attorney and his staff. Morton has pored through pages and pages of financial records and can make sense of documents that would be far too challenging to the layman. And while he is not an attorney, his approach is deliberate and verifiable. Morton was amazed at how inept the city attorney appeared to be. “He [MacKenzie] wanted to discard the Georgia Constitution,” Mason said. “When you don’t know the statute, you shouldn’t open your mouth.” MacKenzie mistakenly argued that Morton did not have the right to even file for the injunction. He also argued in favor of SPLOST expendi-

Publisher Ben Hasan 706-394-9411 Managing Editor Frederick Benjamin Sr. 706-306-4647

AUGUSTA BUSINESSMAN LES MORTON outside of the Columbia County Superior Court: “I’m just getting started.” tures which are clearly prohibited by state law. When and if this issue gets a comprehensive hearing, the city will have to make a much better case than what they have done up to now. Sitting county commissioners have already said that the city has not handled the SPLOST7 roll-out in a fair and ethical manner. Most of the candidates running for mayor are opposed to the May 20 SPLOST referendum. On the same day (April 10, 2014) that he filed a complaint in the Augusta area Superior Court, he filed one with the U.S. District Court. The federal complaint involves alleged improper spending of SPLOST and federal funds by the Augusta Canal Authority. THE BACK STORY Morton began his challenge to the way Augusta-Richmond has been collecting and disbursing its SPLOST funds about four weeks ago. On March 18, 2014, he asked the Augusta Richmond County Commission to consider delaying the SPLOST VII referendum until 2015. At that meeting, Morton told the commissioners that one of the challenges Augusta faces is its ability and its willingness to rein in SPLOST which he says is not being operated in the manner for which it was created. He suggested that the city could be in violation of state statutes.

Sales & Marketing Phone: 706-394-9411 Photography and Social Media Courtesy of Vincent Hobbs

Morton also questioned the propriety of having the vote when the previous SPLOST had another two years to go. But aside from the timing of the SPLOST 7, Morton advised the city panel that they may have violated state law in the past and raised concerns that SPLOST monies have been misspent in the past and that if the current list of projects were actually voted on, they would be unlawful. One of the major problems with the current SPLOST measure (SPLOST7) is the timing of the referendum. If the voters approve SPLOST 7 on May 20, the tax is supposed to go into effect sometime in August or September of 2014. However, Morton says, that overlaps the period in which the SPLOST 6 funds are being collected. The law says that “no more than a single 1% Tax ...may be imposed within a special district.”

OUTSIDE AGENCIES If Morton is right, it calls into question the millions of dollars that have been funneled to arts, cultural, and recreational organizations through the years. These “outside agencies” are outside of the law when it comes to accessing special tax dollars, Morton asserts. Through the years, the city fathers have doled out SPLOST funds to various groups in order to garner their See SPLOST Challenge on next page

email: Ben Hasan Frederick Benjamin Sr. Vincent Hobbs

The CASE AGAINST THE CITY The following has been extracted from the Affadavit filed by Les Morton on April 10, 2014 in Superior Court. He alleges that Augusta-Richmond Commissioners: (i) Violated Georgia Codes: 50-4-1(3)(B)(v), 50-4-1(3)(b)(1), 50-4-1(3)(b)(2), 50-4-1(3)(b) (c) (1), 50-4-1(3)(d)(1) of the Georgia Open Meetings Act. (ii). Board of Commission’s member willfully admitted through a public forum on March 10, 2014 to violating Georgia Code: 48-8-111(a)(1)(D)(2013) and {Georgia Const. 1983, art. IX. ss II, par. VIII} by approving funding through the SPLOST VII referendum, fifteen (15) non-profit, non-public organizations that are neigher owned or operated, or owned and operated by the Augusta Richmond County Government. Estimated cost $39,525,000 (iii) Violated Georgia Code: 48-8-121(a)(1)(3013) and disregarded the decision of the Georgia Supreme Court in {Dickey v Storey, 262 Ga. 452, 455 (1992)} by funding thirteen (13) unauthorized organizations and projects not listed on the original SPLOST VI list of projects approved by the Board of Commissioners on February 19, 2009. Estimated cost $24,329,354 (iv). Violated Georgia codes: 36-42-9(a)(2013) and 36-42-12(2013) by using SPLOST VI funding for bond repayment (not listed ont he original SPLOST VI list of projects approved by the Board of Commnissioners on February 19, 2009, nor listed on the official SPLOST VI referendum ballot) for the Augusta Canal Authority. Estimated cost $8,220,554 (v). Violated Georgia Codes: 48-8-121(a)(2)(2013), and 48-8-122(2013) and disregarded specific instructions per pg. 43, “Special Purpose Local Sales Tax, A Guide For County Commissioners, 4th Additon by Association of County Commissioners of Georgia, and Smith, Gambrel & Russell, LLP, by failing to have SPLOST VI expenditures officially audited by an independent certifiec public accounting firm. Estimated cost, undetermined (vi) Will be in violation of Georgia Codes: 48-8-112(3)(c)(1) and 48-8-112(a), if SPLOST VII referendum is held on May 20, 2014, two years before the current SPLOSRT VI referendum expires in 2016.

SPLOST CHALLENGE from page 4 support in voting for the complete SPLOST package at the polls. It is a strategy that usually works. The bulk of these “outside agencies” are operating in the African-American community. African-American politicians are more likely encourage their constituents to support SPLOST projects at the polls if their community shares in the loot. The funds enjoyed by local arts and cultural organizations including the area’s museums, performance organizations, the Imperial Theatre, the Augusta Mini Theatre and other charitable nonprofit organizations has sustained and enhanced their missions, but to continue such disbursements is clearly outside of the law. According the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA), the group by whose efforts the initial SPLOST ordinance was passed, these “outside agencies” cannot receive SPLOST funds. In one its documents, the issue is clearly addressed. According to the GMA, a frequently asked question is, “Can SPLOST funds be used to construct projects for local charities or other non-profit organizations?” The answer, “No, The gratuities clause of the Georgia Constitution bars local governments from using SPLOST or any other public funds to fund capital outlay projects for non-public entities. This restriction applies to for-profit organizations as well as not-for-profit organizations, including charitable organizations. [Ga. Const. 1983, art. IX, § II, par. VIII].

One of the most egregious abuses of SPLOST spending, according to Morton, is how the money is doled out to the various Augusta Authorities which, he suggests, do not qualify for SPLOST disbursements despite receiving millions of dollars in the past. The problem is that state law requires that in order to receive SPLOST funds, these entities “must be owned or operated by the county...,” but they are not. According to Morton, public records tell us that the Augusta Canal Authority has been singled out for special treatment. It has already received $13 million from SPLOST 6 and it is earmarked to receive an additional $2.5 million in SPLOST 7 along with $5.25 million additional as part of mayor Deke Copenhaver’s Augusta Regional Collaborative Corp. which seeks to renovate the historic King and Sibley Mills. The fact that the Canal Authority owns those properties is not generally known. Other past flaws in the county’s administration of the SPLOST program highlighted by Morton includes the practice of giving SPLOST money to entities that were not listed on the SPLOST list of approved projects. Fourteen of such entities can be identified that received SPLOST 6 funds. Further, the county has not complied with the requirement for annual audits and the publication of detailed progress reports on all past SPLOST projects whether completed or not. These reports must also detail what has become of SPLOST money allocated for projects that were either not completed or underfunded.

AUGUSTA The East Augusta Tag Office at 925 Laney Walker Boulevard will serve its last citizens at the current location on Thursday, April 10th. The office will re-open as the West Augusta Tag Office on Wednesday, April 16th at 12:00 p.m. at 2816 Washington Road in the Publix Shopping Center. The opening will be preceded by a ribbon cutting and Open House at 10:30 am on Wednesday morning. Customers who live in or prefer to do their transactions downtown will be able to take advantage of expanded tag services in the Tax Commissioner’s Office in the Municipal Building along with the tax services they have always received. “This move is the first in our re-alignment of tag and tax services that will provide more convenience for the citizens of our county,” said Steven Kendrick, Tax Commissioner. “We are constantly looking for ways to give the people we serve facilities and customer service to be proud of.” Besides the new location, the West Augusta Tag Office will offer late evening hours on select days each week in the Summer of 2014 as well as a drive-in window for simple transactions like tag renewals. The space that the tag office occupied will not be empty long, however. The Augusta Utilities Department will be leaving the Municipal Building on Greene Street on April 16th and moving their customer service operations to the former tag office site on Laney Walker temporarily in advance of their permanent move to the old Augusta Downtown Library. They will begin serving the public on April 21, 2014 in the LaneyWalker location. Later this year, both offices will also be relocating their south Augusta locations to a new combined facility in the Bi Lo Shopping Center on Peach Orchard Road. For more information, call the Tag Office at 706821-2475 or Augusta Utilities at 706-821-1851.


Important Information for Voters May 20, 2014 General Primary and Nonpartisan Election The voter registration deadline for the May 20, 2014 General Primary and Nonpartisan Election is Monday, April 21, 2012. Residents desiring to register to vote, or change their name or address on the voter registration list may do so online at, at the Richmond County Board of Elections Office located at 530 Greene Street, Suite 500A in Augusta, Georgia or at the Board of Elections Office of their county of residence. Office hours for the Richmond CountyBoard of Elections are 8:30 AM until 5:00 PM. Individuals may also download the mobile app “GA Votes” to visit MyVoterPageat to register to vote, get sample ballots, locate their polling place, find out about Advance Voting, and more.Applications for voter registration will not be accepted via fax or email. In order to be eligible to register to vote a person must be a citizenof theUnited States and of the State of Georgia; be at least 17½ years of age; be a resident of the county or municipality in which he or she seeks to vote; cannot currently be serving a felonyconviction; and cannot have been judicially determined to be mentally in competent for voting purposes. Mail-out absentee ballots are now available upon written request. Requests may be accepted by mail, fax, email, or may be delivered to the Board of Elections Office. In-person Advance Voting will begin on Monday, April 28, 2014 in the Municipal Building at 530 Greene Street. Beginning Saturday, May 10, three additional sites will be open for Advance Voting –the Henry Brigham Recreation Center,theDiamondLakesRegionalPark, and the Warren Road Recreation Center.The last day for Voting by mail and Advance Voting will be Friday, May 16, 2014. Voters seeking information may also contact the Board of Elections Office at (706)821-2340 or www. It’s easy! Ready, Set, Vote!

5 UrbanProWeekly • APRIL 17 - 23, 2014

Laney-Walker Tag Office moving to West Augusta

UrbanProWeekly • APRIL 17 - 23, 2014


Travis “Brotha Trav” Wright, a writer and spoken word artist, survived an aortic dissection a year ago and was not expected to llive. He attributes his recovery to his faith and the prayers of friends and supporters. Photo by Vincent Hobbs

Travis Wright – Godbrotha With A Mission By Vincent Hobbs “Do you believe in God”? This is a question that no one wants to hear in an emergency room, especially when that question is asked by your attending ER nurse – and especially when you are strapped on a gurney, blood pressure cuff inflating and deflating, having been poked and prodded and scanned by specialist doctors with deadly serious looks on their faces. Travis “The Godbrotha” Wright happened to be the person who was asked that question on April 7, 2013. The medical ailment that brought him to the halls of MCG was so traumatic, so life-threatening, that doctors had little hope that he would survive. They were prepared to tell the family that Wright, most likely, would be dead soon. But the ER nurse, a woman of faith, had a different idea. “Brotha Trav”, known throughout the CSRA as a performing spoken word artist and poet, started that fateful day just like any other. It was during a meal with his family that Wright realized that something was wrong. “I bit and swallowed and it felt as if I bit off something too large…it felt as if it got lodged in my chest.” The discomfort did not go away. Wright began to feel light-headed and went to lie down on his bed. He broke out in a profuse sweat and when he tried to stand up, his left leg collapsed. The leg was dead weight – no feeling or sensation. Calling for his wife LaKeasha in the next room, Wright told her he was in serious trouble and to call 911. In the ER at MCG, a battery of tests was performed. EKG, CAT scan, blood

pressure – the works. The tests revealed something absolutely sinister. “Aortic dissection”. Just let that phrase sink in. The two words, when partnered side-by-side and offered as a medical diagnosis, usually mean that a patient has a very high probability of dying. A patient with an aortic dissection experiences an almost literal explosion in their aorta. According to the Mayo Clinic, an aortic dissection is “a serious condition in which a tear develops in the inner layer of the aorta, the large blood vessel branching off the heart. Blood surges through this tear into the middle layer of the aorta, causing the inner and middle layers to separate (dissect). If the blood-filled channel ruptures through the outside aortic wall, aortic dissection is often fatal.” “Do you believe in God?” Wright wasn’t told the seriousness of his condition, but he certainly understood that if an ER nurse were offering to say a prayer with him, he better take her up on it. Wright would later discover that the attending physician believed that the aortic dissection was so severe, not much could be done apart from preparing the family for the worst. The ER nurse who attended to Wright didn’t want to give up on the young man and made a push to locate help for him, before giving in to the prognosis. That help came in the form of a cardiologist by the name of Dr. Bradley Leshnower, an assistant professor of cardiothoracic surgery at Emory Medical Center in Atlanta. Leshnower’s specialty is aortic surgery and aortic dissection research. Wright was rushed by helicopter to

Emory, a 90-minute flight. His last memory of that life-changing night was being hustled off the helipad to a team of waiting doctors. It would be four days before Wright would regain consciousness again. When he finally awoke in the ICU, a young doctor with a dry-erase board illustrated what had happened to Wright. The diagnosis was shocking to the young poet. “Keep in mind that I just had my rib cage sawed in half and opened. I had a series of three surgeries, cardiology and vascular,” Wright said. “The top part of the aorta had to be replaced altogether and the rest is held together with a stent. I still have a tear in the aorta, and it continues to be monitored.” Wright also had a femoral bypass to regain circulation to his left leg, which went numb and immobile due to a lack of blood flow. A fasciotomy to relieve the pressure in the leg was also implemented. “It was really rough – the worst pain that I’ve ever felt in my life. It was the kind of pain that brings tears to my eyes when I think about it.” Even with all of the trauma and surgeries that Wright endured, he was able to give a “thumbs-up” in a photo taken and posted on Facebook by his pastor Hardy Bennings, soon after regaining consciousness. The recovery has been slow and steady. The incident forced Wright to reevaluate his craft, reevaluate his focus. “This served as a confirmation. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m here for a purpose. Once this happened, it made everything clear.” “The purpose is unifying people, bringing people together, speaking

positively and shining some light on somebody’s dim day. At the same time, I’m encouraging people to do the same,” Wright said. “This experience has armed me with a testimony.” Some might say that Wright has an additional testimony. After all, a wordsmith who is known throughout the CSRA as a spoken word artist who tackles the tough subjects of racism, failing education and respect for others, shares a testament each time they step in front of the microphone. “My life could have been gone in an instant, but death wasn’t my fate. Lord, I already knew you were good. But now I know that you’re great. You brought me through a terrible storm. Saved me to see a new day. I promise to always praise you Lord and never go astray. And I guess I’m still less religious and more like spiritual. But, when people lay their eyes on me they’ll be looking at a miracle. I was once in the darkness Lord, but now I can see clearly.” Excerpt from Travis “The Godbrotha” Wright’s “Dear God, Sincerely” video. Wright believes the pieces of the puzzle are falling into place. Friends, family and supporters helped raise funds to cover uninsured medical expenses. A new solo album of spoken word poetry, served with a mix of jazz and neo-soul fusion is on the streets. “Black Love Revolution – Psalms of Freedom” is a collection of Brotha Trav’s greatest hits, an ode to the art of storytelling and spoken word. “Unifying people with love is where it has to be – and loving yourself is first. If you don’t love yourself, you can’t love anyone else.”


UrbanProWeekly • APRIL 17 - 23, 2014

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Rev. Clarence Moore, Pastor 1714 Olive Road / P. O. Box 141 (mailing address) Augusta, GA 30903 706/733-0341- Telephone/706/667-0205 – Fax E-mail address: Web address: Rev. Clarence Moore Church Service: 7:45 & 11:00 a.m. Church School: 9:45 a.m. / Prayer Service: 11:00 a.m. – Wednesday Bible Study: 9:00 a.m. - Saturday / 7:00 p.m. - Wednesday

Everfaithful Missionary Baptist Church

314 Sand Bar Ferry Road Augusta, Georgia 30901 (706) 722- 0553 Church School Sunday 9:25am Morning Worship Sunday 11am Evening Worship 6pm (1st & 3rd Sunday) Midday Prayer 12pm Wednesday Intercessory Prayer/Bible Study 6pm Wednesday

Bishop Rosa L. Williams, Pastor

Radio Broadcast: Sundays • WKZK 103.7 FM at 7:30 a.m. Sunday School 8:30 am Morning Worship Services: 9:45 am Evening Worship Services 6 pm (4th Sunday) Bible Study: 6pm (Mondays) Midday Bible Study: 12pm (Tuesdays) Prayer Services: 6pm (Wednesdays) Celebrate Recovery: 6pm (Fridays) and 12pm (Mondays) 2323 Barton Chapel Road • Augusta,GA 30906 706.790.8185 / 706.922.8186 (fax) Visit Us @ • Join us on facebook

Sunday Morning Services 10 am Wednesday Services 7 pm 2070 Brown Road, Hephzibah, GA 30815 (706) 592-9221 |

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Fish Fry Ben HASAN Hosted by District 6 Candidate

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5:00 - 7:30 p.m. Gracewood Community Center

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9 UrbanProWeekly • APRIL 17 - 23, 2014




Convention Center 901 Reynolds Street Special Guest Performance by Gospel Recording Artist

Earnest Pugh

Worship SUNDAY APRIL 20TH Service begins at 10:15 AM Doors open at 10AM

Rev. Dr. Charles E. Goodman, Jr. Senior Pastor/Teacher Tabernacle Baptist Church

UrbanProWeekly • APRIL 17 - 23, 2014



Track and field athletes from A.R. Johnson and Lucy Laney high schools compete in the 100-meter hurdles in the region 2AA preliminaries at Laney stadium. Photo by Vincent Hobbs

Track and field athletes compete in the 4 x 100-meter relay race during the region 2AA preliminaries at Laney stadium.

Screven County High School’s Laura Stuart fights the pain after winning the girls 1600-meter race at the region 2AA preliminaries at Laney stadium. Participating schools included Laney, Josey, Westside, A.R. Johnson, Screven County, Dublin and East Laurens high schools. Photos by Vincent Hobbs

11 UrbanProWeekly • APRIL 17 - 23, 2014

(Above) Mayoral candidate Helen BlockerAdams greets guests at a recent fundraiser featuring pro golfing legend Lee Elder. (At right) Elder shares a laugh with the crowd. Elder is renown as the first black pro golfer to play at The Masters, breaking the color barrier in 1975. The fundraising event, which took place the at the Furniture Outlet, included a live auction of Lee Elder memorabilia. Photo by Vincent Hobbs

Candidate gets support from golfing legend Lee Elder AUGUSTA Mayoral candidate Helen BlockerAdams is in a 5-person electoral contest, but she stands alone in the celebrity endorsement match. Twice this month she has rolled out high profile personalities at political fundraisers. Earlier in the month, conservative talk show Herman Cain made an appearance in Augusta on Block-Adams’ behalf. On Tuesday, golfing legend Lee Elder made an appearance in Augusta to support the candidate. Elder said, “I believe in Helen. I believe it’s time for a female mayor and that person is Helen BlockerAdams.” The golfer praised Blocker-Adams as “one of the hardest working, most loyal people I know.”

Easter Egg Hunt The Community Easter Egg Hunt will be held at the May Park Community Center located at 622 4th St. in Downtown Augusta on Saturday, April 19, 2014 @ 11:00 a.m. The Easter Egg Hunt will include thousands of eggs, Lady Bug the Clown, prizes, and lots of candy for the kids. Also, Easter Bunny will be stopping by for a visit. The event is sponsored by the Augusta Recreation, Parks and Facilities Department, Perry Broadcasting, and AmeriGroup. For more information, please call the City of Augusta Special Events Office (706) 821 -1754 or May Park Community Center (706) 724-0504.

UrbanProWeekly • APRIL 17 - 23, 2014


Tabernacle Baptist Church to host Community Resurrection Service

Recording Artist Earnest Pugh

Utilities office at City Hall closes AUGUSTA The Downtown Customer Service Office for Augusta Utilities that is currently located in the Municipal Building will be closed Wednesday April 16, 2014 through Friday April 18, 2014 while they move to a new location. Beginning on Monday April 21, 2014, this office will reopen and be located at 925 Laney Walker Boulevard in the old Fire Administration Building. Citizens that need to pay their bills in person between April 16, 2014 and April 18, 2014 can still do so at the South Augusta Office located at 2760 Peach Orchard Road between 8:30 am and 5:00 pm.

HOLY NATION MINISTRIES CITY WIDE YARD SALE Holy Nation Ministries of 205 West Ave,North Augusta,SC 29841 will be having a City Wide Yard Sale on April 19th, 2014. Starting at 8 am. We will be accepting all resalable donations such as furniture, home goods, clothes, shoes, baked goods and much more. For more info contact Sis. Stacie Evans @ (706) 284-0547 or Pastor Aderina Lee @ (803) 341-0171.

NEW LIFE WORSHIP CENTER ACTIVITIES APRIL 19 ANNUAL KINGDOM KIDS EASTER PICNIC. 11 a.m.-1 p.m. There will be food, games, prizes, and an Easter egg hunt. Open to children ages 4-11. Free. APRIL 20 EASTER SERVICE. 11 a.m. Speaker, Elder Bruce James. Free. EASTER PRODUCTION. “He is the Son of God.” 6 p.m. Meet biblical characters whose lives were changed after their encounter with Christ. The evening will also include music and poetry. Free. For more information, call 706-7967880.

REGISTER ONLINE Visit MyVoterPage @ to register to vote,

AUGUSTA Tabernacle Baptist Church will host a Community Resurrection Service on Sunday, April 20th at 10 a.m. at the Augusta Convention Center located at 901 Reynolds Street Augusta, GA. This service will feature a performance by Gospel Recording Artist Earnest Pugh and the Tabernacle Baptist Church 100 Voice Choir as well as a special message from The Rev. Dr. Charles E. Goodman, Jr., Senior Pastor/Teacher of Tabernacle Baptist Church. “We are excited to have the opportunity and resources to be able to live out our Christian mission, which is to share the Good News of the Gospel with everyone, “ said Goodman. “The life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ will be celebrated on this special Sunday. We invite everyone to be

our special guests and to come as you are, to worship with us on the greatest day on our Christian calendar, “ said Goodman. In 2013, Tabernacle Baptist Church moved to three worship services to better accommodate its 5,000 plus congregation. With Resurrection Service being sited as the church’s largest crowd, the move to the Augusta Convention Center is both convenient for worshippers and a litmus test for the future. The Community Resurrection Service can also be viewed via Tabernacle Baptist Church’s LIVE Streaming by visiting http://www. This service is sponsored in part by Faith Magazine, Perry Broadcasting of Augusta and Urban Pro Weekly.

ABOUT EARNEST PUGH Earnest Pugh is a Dove and Stellar Award nominated recording artist. Pugh’s “Earnestly Yours” CD was his first #1 Billboard Top Gospel Albums chart and the first gospel album within the eOne Distribution system to debut in the #1 slot on Billboard’s Top Gospel Albums chart. He’s since enjoyed other Top 30 radio hits with duets of “For My Good” with Beverly Crawford and “Every Promise” with Lalah Hathaway. His latest CD “The W.I.N. (Worship in Nassau) Experience” debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Top Gospel Albums chart this past fall and has already produced two big chart hits with the soaring ballad “More of You” and the urban flavored collaboration with J. Moss, “I Believe You Most.”

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Ga. election performance faulted By Kristina Torres  


eorgia voters saw their registration options expand last week when the state launched a new online system and mobile voter information apps. Now the question is whether they will help boost the state’s flagging performance in how it conducts its elections. Worsening return rates from overseas ballots, increases in the number of people not voting due to disability or illness, and one of the longest wait times in the nation all marred the Peach State’s performance in the 2012 presidential election compared with just four years earlier, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts. Georgia had the biggest ratings decline in the nation in the latest elections performance review that Pew released nationally today. It was one of only 10 states whose scores decreased, according to the nonpartisan analysis that overall lauded most states for improving their elections work. First launched in 2010, this is the first time Pew researchers have compared similar elections over time using the same measures. The findings put a harsh glare on a state gearing up to run a midterm primary election May 20, including contested party races for governor and several seats in Congress that have drawn national attention

to Georgia and are expected to increase turnout next month at the polls. State officials themselves acknowledged some problems and have begun making a number of changes. “Overall, I’m not concerned,” Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp said about the findings. “I think we’re doing a lot of good things to increase participation and prevent cheating.” The state did not rank last — it clocked in at 32nd. “Elections are moving in the right direction and citizens can know they are just getting better,” said Zachary Markovits, the elections initiatives manager for Pew, which describes itself as a nonpartisan global research and public policy organization. And Georgia? “There is room to improve,” he said. Among changes already in play, state officials for the first time this year moved up the primary to the earliest in state history after a federal judge ordered a longer voting window for military members and residents living overseas. The state also mails ballots overseas to anyone who requested one the year before, a practice officials believe promotes access but could hurt the state’s overall score. In the report, the number of those ballots unreturned in 2012 had jumped more than three points to

34.5 percent. And while the state’s 18-minute voting wait time was among the 10 longest waits in the nation for 2012, it was a marked improvement from 2008’s 38-minute slog. A big change that could affect Georgia’s performance next time is the online registration system that went live March 31. Thirteen states offered online registration in 2012, compared with just two in 2008, and the Presidential Commission on Election Administration recommends the practice. Both local officials and experts said the process is a win-win for voters and municipalities because it can help states avoid issues with rejected registrations, use of provisional ballots and nonvoting due to registration problems — all past problems in Georgia. Anyone wanting to register needs a valid Georgia driver’s license or state-issued identification card, which automatically syncs a voter’s information with his or her local registrar. Among the biggest knocks on the state in the report involved tracking specific data points that help experts track performance — a finding exacerbated by timing because Pew compiled its report as the state switched its elections management system. As a result, Kemp said his office could not give researchers all the information requested.

 Among those who had problems were newly naturalized U.S. citizens whose registration applications were delayed or whose votes were challenged despite proof of their legal status. Helen Kim Ho, executive director of the Asian American Legal Advocacy Center of Georgia, said elections officials need to be mindful that not every eligible voter is Internet-savvy.  “Anything that increases access to voter registration is an absolute positive, but I think there is kind of a deeper processing issue,” Ho said. “These people need to be able to access their right to vote, and the real problem has been at the polls.” The report said Georgia was one of 10 states to report less data to the federal Election Assistance Commission in 2012 than in 2008. The rate of nonvoting due to registration and absentee-ballot problems also increased, and Georgia did not at the time add online voter registration or require post-election audits (and still doesn’t). Kemp said the state is trying to establish better communication with local election officials and work with them to improve data collection and reporting procedures. Pew uses 17 indicators to calculate a state’s overall performance. They include voter registration rates, provisional ballots cast and rejected, military and overseas ballots rejected or unreturned.

Political Forums and Events GET-OUT-TO-VOTE RALLY & SYMPOSIUM

Political Forum Commission Districts and Senate Dist. 22 Tues., April 29, 6:30 pm The Augusta Branch NAACP, in conjunction with New Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church, and Psi Omega Chapter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., will sponsor a political candidates forum for State Senate District 22, Commission District 2 and Commission District 4. Candidates for these contested races have confirmed their participation.

Kimberley Scott, WJBF-TV 6 News Anchor has been confirmed as one of the moderators. The event will be held at 6:30 p.m. The purpose of the event is to provide an opportunity for voters and citizens in the community to hear the candidates platform, and to engage by asking questions regarding their candidacy and issues in

the community. New Zion Hill is located at 3237 1/2 Deans Bridge Road in Augusta. Additionally, information will be available that can assist voters on precinct changes an updated voting information on the May 20, 2014 Election Day. For Information Call: 706-2840275 (Dr. Smith)706-840-0508 (Renaldo Woolfolk)

A Get-Out-To-Vote Rally and Symposium will be conducted on Thursday, April 24 at 6:30 p.m. at Diamond Lakes Regional Park. The event sponsored by Augusta’s Interfaith Coalition has as its mission “To Strive for 100% Voter Participation in the democratic system of informed voting and activism as a community service organization. For information, contact The Rev. Christopher G. Johnson, M.Div., coordinator, at 706.832.4995 or go to Diamond Lakes Park is located at 4335 Windsor Spring Rd., Hephzibah, GA.

Full House: Candidates Qualify for Local Elections MAYOR Helen Blocker-Adams Hardie Davis Charles Cummings Alvin D. Mason Lori Myles

COMM. DIST. 6 Bob Finnegan Roger Garvin Angela C. Harden Ben Hasan Tony Lewis

COMM. DIST. 2 Cleveland Garrison Dennis Williams

COMM. DIST. 8 Wayne Guilfoyle

COMM. DIST. 4 Melvin Ivey Tomasenia Jackson Sammie L. Sias Gwen Watts

COMM. DIST. 10 Brandon K. Dial Grady Smith STATE COURT JUDGE Richard A. Slaby


BD OF ED. DIST. 7 Frank Dolan

BD OF EDUCATION BD OF ED. DIST. 2 Frank V. Beckles Jr. Monique Braswell Charlie Hannah

BD OF ED. DIST. 9 Venus D. Cain James Swanagan Jr.

BD OF ED. DIST. 3 Alex Howard BD OF ED. DIST. 6 Jark Padgett Jr.

STATE SENATE DIST. 22 Elmyria Chivers (D) Corey Johnson (D) Harold Jones II (D) STATE SENATE DIST. 23 Jesse Stone (R) Diane Evans (D)

The New Leaders Council Augusta Chapter By Kristie Robin Johnson Things are changing in Augusta, Georgia. An array of industries are coming and going and populations are shifting. This May Augustans will elect a mayor that will become the first AfricanAmerican to be voted into the seat under the consolidated government. This comes on the heels of the election of our first African-American sheriff. Change is indeed in the air. Along with this new wave of political energy comes a fresh and unique organization committed to developing a progressive leadership base for the CSRA. Enter New Leaders Council (NLC) Augusta Chapter. With its tagline, ‘people, progress, results’, the NLC aims to recruit, train and promote the progressive political entrepreneurs of tomorrow. The 501(c)3 nonprofit is a nationwide organization boasting more than 30 diverse chapters in locations as far away as Silicon Valley and as close as Atlanta. This is Augusta’s inaugural year as a chapter. Perhaps the most impactful activity that NLC engages in is its NLC Institutes. The Institutes are intense, five-month progressive entrepreneurship training programs. Each NLC Institute is highly-selective, admitting only 15 to 20 fellows to each program. The typical NLC Fellow is a successful risk-taker and a progressive advocate. Selected NLC Fellows receive specialized training and intensive professional development in the areas of mentoring, networking, career and political advancement. Setting it apart from other leadership development programs, NLC Fellows are expected to give back while in the program. Each chapter’s cohort of fellows plan and execute a

Political Forum Mayor & Senate Dist. 22

Thurs., April 17, 7 pm East Augusta Neighborhood Association is hosting a political forum for Augusta mayoral and state senate candidates April 17 at Eastview Community Center, 644 Aiken St. The forum will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. The five mayoral candidates include Helen Blocker-Adams, Charles Cummings, Sen. Hardie Davis, Commissioner Alvin Mason and Lori Myles. The District 22 senate candidates are Elmyria Chivers, Mayor Pro Tem Corey Johnson and Harold Jones.

Senate District 22 Tues., April 22, 7 pm The Augusta Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. in partnership with the Women’s Civic Club will hold a political forum on Tuesday, April 22, 2014 at the Lucy Craft Laney Museum located at 1116 Phillips Street, Augusta, GA at 7:00 p.m. This forum will give the voters an opportunity to hear from candidates and make informed decisions at the poll on May 20, 2014. Senate District 22 candidates include Elmyria Chivers, Corey Johnson, and Harold Jones II. The public is invited to attend.

fundraiser designed to support the next class of NLC Fellows. Talk about paying it forward. Augusta’s inaugural class of fellows are hosting Movers, Shakers, and Change Makers: A Networking Event for Established and Upcoming Professionals on Saturday, May 3, 2014 at the Historic Partridge Inn in Augusta, Georgia. The fun starts at 7:30PM. Admission is $20.00 and all proceeds go towards developing the next class of NLC Fellows. For more information go to The Augusta Chapter 2014 NLC Fellows are: Kimberleigh Beard, Community Advocate/Student; Barclay Bishop, Morning Anchor/ Reporter, WAGT NBC 26 News; Lawanda Hall, Principal Risk

Analyst, The Coca-Cola Company; Taylor Howell, Staff Assistant, House of Representatives Congressman John Barrow’s Augusta District Office; Kristie Robin Johnson, Freelance Writer/Coordinator of Special Populations, Augusta Technical College; Judith Jones, Speech-Language Pathologist, Richmond County School System; Johnny Lee III, Technician, Procter and Gamble; Patricia Ann Moseley, Assistant Principal, Richmond County School System; Darryl Nettles, Research Operations Coordinator, Georgia Regents University; Titus Nichols, Assistant District

Attorney, Augusta Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office; James Riles, Center Director, May Park Community Center, Augusta Richmond County Government Recreation and Parks Department; Fabiola Romain-Lapeine, Nursing Faculty, Georgia Regents University; Arthur “Tony” Whiteside, Realtor, VanderMorgan Realty; To learn more about the New Leaders Council and its mission, visit If you are interested in applying for a 2015 NLC Fellowship, contact the Augusta Chapter Director, Lynthia Ross Owens at @KristieRobinJ on Twitter

15 UrbanProWeekly • APRIL 17 - 23, 2014

Meet the CSRA’s Next Crop of Progressive Leadership:

UrbanProWeekly • APRIL 17 - 23, 2014


Richmond County Debris Clean-Up Update As announced on April 4, 2014, all pick-up zones in Richmond County have been cleared of ice storm debris and the contractor will not be making additional scheduled passes.   Citizens are reminded that they are now under the terms and conditions of their normal solid waste collection guidelines for yard waste.  The contractor is returning this week to finish grinding and haul-out of mulch and repair the temporary debris management sites.  During this time, contractor will be also verifying and/or addressing any reported complaints of missed debris pick-up.  The estimated completion time for final haul-out of the temporary debris sites is 10-14 days.  Citizens are further reminded to be on the lookout for illegal dumping, if anyone observes contractors or people putting large amounts of vegetative material or performing other illegal dumping activities on the Right-of-way to take down as much information as possible: license plate, address, company name, etc.; take a picture if possible.  Then please contact the Marshal’s department at (706) 772-561.  

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SCHOOL BUS DRIVER TRANSPORTATION DEPARTMENT The Richmond County School System is currently receiving applications for school bus drivers. Positions are available immediately. The Richmond County School System will train all hired employees for these positions for the required license endorsements. The Richmond County Board of Education offers excellent benefits and work hours that are compatible with alternate careers. QUALIFICATIONS: Applicants must be at least 21 years of age, possess a valid drivers’ license, good driving record, consent to undergo a drug screening, and a GCIC/NCIC Criminal history inquiry. TERMS OF EMPLOYMENT: 10 months. TO APPLY: Qualified applicants must submit an electronic application. Visit the Board website @ www. to apply. The Richmond County Public School System does not discriminate in employment or services on the basis of age, race, color, national origin, gender, disability or religion.


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SCHOOL BUS TECHNICIAN TRANSPORTATION DEPARTMENT The Richmond County School System is currently receiving applications for school bus technicians. Applicant must have experience in the following: general automotive, bus & truck repair, diagnostics tuneups, transmission replacement, front end repairs, drive line repairs, differential repairs, exhaust system repairs, air brake systems, electrical repairs and other chassis repairs. QUALIFICATIONS: Applicants must be at least 21 years of age, have a high school education or experience in the area of automotive technician (diesel and gasoline engines) and possess a valid drivers’ license (obtain CDL with endorsements within 3 months of employment). TERMS OF EMPLOYMENT: 12 months


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TO APPLY: Qualified applicants must submit an electronic application. Visit the Board website @ www. to apply. The Richmond County Public School System does not discriminate in employment or services on the basis of age, race, color, national origin, gender, disability or religion.

April 21 is the deadline to register to vote in Georgia’s May 20 primary. Anyone can confirm his or her voter status online through the Georgia secretary of state’s website ( ). If you haven’t already, here’s how to register: • Log on to the Georgia secretary of state’s website and, under the elections tab, click “Register to Vote.” • Download and complete a voter registration application, then mail it in ( • Contact your local county elections office, public library, public assistance office, recruitment office, schools or other government offices for a mail-in registration form. A list can be found at http: //  / cgi-bin/countyregistrarsindex.asp. • Check the“voter registration”box when you renew or apply for your driver’s license through the state Department of Driver Services. • College students can obtain Georgia voter registration forms or the necessary forms to register in any state in the U.S. from their school registrar’s office.

LEGAL NOTICE City of Augusta for the Augusta Regional Airport 30-Day Public Advisory Subject: Request for Variance Under the Provisions of O.C.G.A. 12-7-6(b) (15) Drainage Improvements and Application for Encroachment upon the 25-Foot Vegetative Buffer for One State Water Project: Drainage Improvements; BV-121-13-05 County: Augusta-Richmond The purpose of this public advisory is to provide interested parties with the opportunity to submit comments related to the proposed stream buffer variance. The City of Augusta’s Augusta Regional Airport at Bush Field (the Airport) plans to perform a project to correct stormwater drainage issues on the Airport’s property, replace a culvert that was previously blown out by storms in 2011, and to improve aircraft safety within the Runway Protection Zone (RPZ). The project will consist of the construction of approximately 4,000 linear feet of new two and four lane roads and associated drainage improvements to access the southern portion of the Airport’s property to allow for the economic development of this portion of the Airport. The project will also improve Airport safety by improving access for Airport emergency and firefighting equipment and by mitigating the existing drainage issues in low lying areas within the Runway 35 approach. The project would impact the 56 linear feet of buffer of intermittent Stream 1 by re-grading the streambank slopes, placement of riprap for channel and outlet protection, placement of the outlet of the new detention pond, and the placement of best management practices (BMPs) such as silt fences. Site plans for the proposed construction can be viewed at the Augusta Regional Airport Engineering Office at 1501 Aviation Way, Augusta, Georgia 30906-9620, Phone: (706) 798-3236. The public is invited to comment during the 30-day period on the proposed activity. Written comments should be submitted to: Program Manager, Non-Point Source Program, Erosion and Sedimentation Control, 4220 International Parkway, Suite 101, Atlanta, Georgia 30354.

INVITATION TO BID Sealed proposals from contractors will be received for the Laney High School, Phase II, Renovations and Additions Project by the County Board of Education of Richmond County at the address below until 2:00 p.m. local time on Tuesday, May 13, 2014, at which time the bids will be publicly opened and read. No extension of the bidding period will be made. A Pre-Bid Conference will be held on Tuesday, April 22, 2014 at 2:00 p.m. local time in the Media Center, Laney High School, 1339 Laney Walker Boulevard, Augusta, Georgia, 30901. Drawings and project manual on this work may be examined at the Department of Maintenance and Facilities, Richmond County Board of Education, 1781 15th Street, Augusta, Georgia 30901. Bidding documents may be obtained at the Woodhurst Architects, 607 15th Street, Augusta, GA 30901. Applications for documents together with a refundable deposit of $500.00 per set should be filed promptly with the Architect. Bidding material will be forwarded (shipping charges collect) as soon as possible. The full amount of deposit for one set will be refunded to each prime contractor who submits a bona fide bid upon return of such set in good condition within ten (10) days after date of opening bids. All other deposits will be refunded with deductions approximating cost of reproduction of documents upon return of same in good condition within ten (10) days after date of opening bid. Contract, if awarded, will be on a lump sum basis. No bid may be withdrawn for a period of thirty-five (35) days after time has been called on the date of opening. Bid must be accompanied by a bid bond in an amount not less than 5% of the base bid. Personal checks, certified checks, letters of credit, etc., are not acceptable. The successful bidder will be required to furnish performance and payment bonds in an amount equal to 100% of the contract price. The Richmond County Board of Education reserves the right to reject any and all bids and to waive technicalities and informalities. BID LIST: The Richmond County Board of Education maintains a bid list for many categories that are let for bid each year. Contact Amy Bauman in the Business Office (706) 826-1298 or at baumaam@boe.richmond. for additional information concerning the bid list. To promote local participation, a database of subcontractors, suppliers, and vendors has been developed by the Program Manager, GMK Associates. Contact Jeanine Usry with GMK Associates at (706) 826-1127 for location to review and obtain this database Bids shall be submitted and addressed to: Dr. Frank G. Roberson, Superintendent Richmond County School System 864 Broad Street Augusta, Georgia 30901 Attention: Mr. C. Gene Spires, Controller

UrbanProWeekly • APRIL 17 - 23, 2014

How to register online


UrbanProWeekly • APRIL 17 - 23, 2014


Concert to Benefit Union Baptist Church

Augusta Aviation Commission Meeting The Augusta Regional Airport Aviation Commission Meeting is scheduled for Thursday, April 24, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. in the Commission Chambers located in Administration on the 2nd floor of the Airport Terminal.

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Christian Ndeti To “Soothe the Soul”: April 17, 2014 at 7:30 pm The Union Baptist Church Restoration Committee is pleased to present “To Soothe the Soul: Concerts to Benefit Union Baptist Church.” The three-concert series concludes on April 17, 2014 at 7:30 pm. The concerts take place at Union Baptist Church, which is located at 1104 Greene Street. Due to unforeseen circumstances, the musician originally scheduled to perform at the April 17 concert will no longer be able to fulfill her commitment. The new featured musician will be Christian Ndeti. According to Karen Gordon, concert organizer, “Chris Ndeti is an acoustic powerhouse fueled by soul and spirit. With a belief that music is the most accessible resource that can connect every human being, she blends her original music with traditional and new age songs for an unforgettable musical experience.” Proceeds benefit the Union Baptist Church Restoration Fund, which has been used to provide bricks and mortar restoration and operating support to the church since 1997. The oldest part of the building dates to 1851 when it was built as a mission of First Presbyterian Church. During the Civil War, it was used to teach Sunday School to slaves and free blacks. After being an African American Methodist Church for a time, the building was acquired by the Union Baptist Church congregation in 1883. In 1888 the building was completely remolded and enlarged in the Carpenter Gothic style according to designs provided by the architectural firm of MacMurphey and Story. Tickets are $15 per concert.  Visit the Bee’s Knees at 211 Tenth Street for food and drink specials on concert days from 5-7 pm.  For tickets and more information, call 706-7240436 or visit www.historicaugusta. org.  This concert series is made possible by a grant from The Porter Fleming Foundation and media support received from The Augusta Chronicle. 


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Urban Pro Weekly  
Urban Pro Weekly  

The CSRA's free weekly newspaper providing news, commentary, sports, arts and entertainment