News12 at 6 o'clock / Tuesday Jan. 4, 2013
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- "It feels pretty good."
That's how newly-elected Mayor Pro Tem Corey Johnson says he feels about his new job. One of his priorities, he says, will be bringing life back to downtown Augusta.
"Downtown is the heartbeat. Any time you visit any city, people want to go to their downtown and see exactly what's happening. So, I thought it was great way to kind of look at the future of Augusta and what we need to focus on to try to build up our inner city and downtown," Johnson said.
Johnson isn't the only one hoping that downtown picks back up.
Jonathan Beaver, who opened the Downtown Saloon last November, wants the leaders of Augusta to be more involved on the economics side, and more importantly, he wants their help with making customers feel safe.
"We had an issue a couple of months ago. We had some guys hanging out front, threatening customers. We had to call the cops and it probably took them about 30 minutes to get out here," Beaver said.
Johnson says while he doesn't have direct control of the deputies, he is ready to partner up with the new sheriff and explore the idea of bringing a precinct downtown.
"Its a place for it here. I think it's something that will also give the downtown merchants an opportunity to have day-to-day interaction with the force or precinct here," Johnson said.
More police presence is one thing that Beaver says will help him and the area.
"Downtown is the heart of Augusta. The more business down here, the more the revenue the county will make," he said.
And Johnson agrees.
"A lot of people don't know this, but we're losing an average of $875,000 annually or more for each empty storefront," Johnson said.