January 18, 2006
Every other Tuesday, people are filling Augusta commission chambers to capacity with dozens standing in the aisles and in the hallway. Now, the fire marshal says that has to stop. News 12 is on your side to explain how the city plans to solve the overcrowding problem.
Whether it’s asking for a raise, opposing a dragstrip or making changes to the government, hot topics have people packing Augusta commission chambers.
“You’re seeing the commission chambers a lot more people in there on a regular basis, now that’s an encouraging sign to me,” Mayor Deke Copenhaver said.
But Tuesday, the fire marshal put up a sign to stop standing room only crowds by posting this sign.
Right now the commission chamber is only designed to hold 88 people, but at recent meetings 250 people have been showing up.
“Perhaps there was not enough foresight into building that chamber,” Mayor Copenhaver said.
The last meeting was so full that the commission had to meet in a courtroom.
“It’s scary when you sit here and there’s nobody in the seats. With the room packed as it has been, I think it’s a great problem. We just need to find a way to accommodate them,” said Fred Russell.
City Administrator Fred Russell says money from SPLOST will soon build a new judicial center, which he hopes will free up more space in the municipal building for a new chamber. Until then, he’s working on ways for everyone to stay connected.
“Looking at a couple of options of trying to pipe the sound to another location and even do some closed circuit TV,” Russell said.
“You’ll continue to see if I have to remind the crowd. I have to gavel them down to get them to settle, they ought to be respectful when they’re in those chambers,” Copenhaver said.