News 12 at 6 o'clock; April 15, 2008
August, GA --- There is talk of a new way to attract people to the James Brown statue in downtown Augusta…a permanent camera that takes photos of people standing next to the statue.
It's thanks in part to the Greater Augusta Arts Council and a grant from the Georgia Department of Tourism. How does it work? The camera is cell phone activated. Visitor's simply dial a phone number and the camera goes to work. You then stop by the Augusta art council's website to get the picture. The pictures are free, but city leaders say it is a priceless way to get people to take a second look at what Augusta has to offer on the website.
The camera is being tested. It is expected to be up and running in time for James Brown’s birthday bash in May.
This was just one issue on the commission agenda. They are the people who go rushing toward the scene when everyone else is running away...our public safety officers. Now they'll be getting a pay increase a lot earlier than expected.
Richmond County public safety employees along with 9-1-1 personnel will get a $2,000 raise. It was supposed to start on August 1, 2008. Now, that money is just around the corner. The Augusta commission approved a May 1, 2008 start date.
This was part of the city administrator’s budget plan. It all comes at a cost to you of about $55 a year on a $100,000 home, or about $5 dollars a month.
"It's a hard time to find people to do police work, but we need the best quality, and we need the best people, and we need to pay them as best we can to serve and protect our citizens," said administrator Fred Russell.
The commission also signed over land for an 8 story hotel in downtown Augusta.
It would be located right next to the Augusta Common where the old police department is. You may remember some nearby property owners complained...saying they would not have access to Reynolds Street. Those on the other side of the fence touted the fact that it's a 30 million dollar project that will bring 10 thousand square feet of retail space with it -- and 80 new jobs.
"This sends the message that there are lots of outside developers who want to come in and play and play nice...and do great things for downtown Augusta,” said Margaret Woodard who is executive director of the Downtown Development Authority. A site plan is now in the works.