Mayor Deke Copenhaver's push for new GRU Cancer Center is personal

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News12 at six o'clock/ Feb. 20, 2014

Augusta,Ga (WRDW) -- One item on this year's ballot is especially close to Augusta's Mayor. Mayor Deke Copenhaver's mother died of cancer.

It's the reason he's pushing for GRU to receive millions from the local government to build GRU's Cancer Center.

In May, voters will have the choice to continue a previous one percent sales tax. In the past, it's been used to build buildings like the Sheriff's office and the Judicial Center.

"Seeing the way our city rallied during last week's storm. I believe our voters will approve the SPLOST package. If it doesn't happen will have to find another route,"Copenhaver said.

Helping GRU Augusta bring a state of the art cancer center to the area means a lot to Copenhaver.

"I lost my own mother to cancer so this is personal to me. This is something we as a city need to do," Copenhaver said.

Commissioner Bill Lockett says the cancer center will bring jobs and money to the area. However he also says employees need raises and the city has hundreds of dilapidated properties that need to come down.

Right now, he's telling the people in district five to oppose it.

"It all depends on what we put together in the final package. We don't have very much time," Lockett said.

"Yes this is a little different. We are not talking about our general fund. We are talking about a SPLOST package. It is the will of the commission to put the request on the ballot," Commissioner Mary Davis said.

Just this week, Master's Tournament gave $6 million towards the Cancer Center. Mayor Copenhaver said the county needs to come up with another $8 million.

The state can release more than $40 million which could in turn bring more than $300 million to the area in research.

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