July 7, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga--- The fate of First Friday in Downtown Augusta is in question following a shooting Friday evening that injured 6 people.
Saturday afternoon, Ed Presnell, a downtown resident and former president of the Chamber of Commerce, headed up the news conference.
Presnell asked for an end to First Friday and is actively looking for other options to the monthly celebration.
The celebration runs from 5pm to 9pm on the first Friday of each month in Downtown Augusta. It began as a way to stimulate business and showcase new works on Artists' Row, according to the website.
However, law enforcement and some business owners say an unofficial First Friday begins soon after leading to problems with teens and young adults.
During Saturday's new conference, Ed Presnell and District 1 Commissioner Matt Aitken spoke. Richmond County Sheriff's Candidate Lt. Robbie Silas was also in attendance.
Presnell said First Friday 'as we know it today should have ended years ago.' He spoke of the new Tee Center and his concerns for a safe environment for visitors.
He called for other options like First Saturday afternoon.
It is ultimately up to Augusta commissioners. Commissioner Aitken said, "It's fortunate that no one was killed through the shooting and something healthy can come out of something bad and I think we are all going to have on board."
He told the media that he spoke to his colleagues and will be looking at a recommendation from the sheriff's office when they meet Monday morning.
Presnell passed along that Richmond County Sheriff Ronnie Strength was open to the idea of an alternative.