January 17, 2007
AUGUSTA, Ga.---Augusta mayor Deke Copenhaver laid out his plan for the city today in his State of the City speech.
Mayor Copenhaver delivered his speech in front of a crowd at the South Augusta Business at Breakfast meeting this morning.
He touched on a wide range of issues, including poverty, economic development, and the Commission's behavior.
"We are starting to realize that great potential, but we're also a city of great needs," he said.
Copenhaver says the city's biggest challenge in 2007 will be handling major growth.
Along with new businesses, the mayor says trends show many people are now moving back to Augusta.
"People are rediscovering Augusta has a great quality of life," he said.
High on his priority list is handling contamination issues in Augusta's Hyde Park community.
"It's going to take help from the state level," he said. "It's also going to take help from the federal level."
The mayor also says Augusta's increasing HIV, AIDS, and poverty rates can't be ignored any longer.
"23 percent of the people that live in Augusta-Richmond County live below the poverty line," Mayor Copenhaver said. "To me, that's not acceptable either."
He says many solutions start with the Commission setting a good example for the community.
"I love every one of them, but it's an ingrained pattern of behavior that is taking some time to overcome."
Despite some negative images Augusta may have, Copenhaver says it's nothing the city can't overcome.
But the mayor says it will take a community effort for the city to reach its full potential.
"I can be a catalyst to help get people motivated, but it can't just be me," he said. "Everybody needs to get out there and take part in moving this community forward."
The mayor says he'll continue to talk to the Commission about their behavior during the meetings.
He's scheduled a retreat for next month.