- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:

April 22

The Augusta Chronical on death of community leader:

Mortar. Rivets. Glue. Depending on the job, folks use an array of methods to hold things together.

All of those words can accurately describe R. Lee Smith. He literally helped hold the most charitable parts of this community together.

Smith died April 8 at age 78. Other men might have accomplished more during 78 years on Earth, but we can’t immediately tell you who they are. Neither, likely, could his friends - and there are too many to count.

You could say with a smile that Smith came full circle during his long stay in Augusta. He was born at University Hospital in 1940, and decades later found himself serving on several boards affiliated with that very hospital, in addition to chairing the University Health Care Foundation and University Health Care Inc., where he also was named chairman emeritus.

But Smith’s contributions to University comprise just one sliver of his busy life.

At different times - occasionally even at the same time! - Smith had headed up the Rotary Club of Augusta; the Economic and Industrial Development Committee and the Red Carpet Tour of the Augusta Chamber of Commerce; the American Heart Association; the American Cancer Society; the Augusta Chapter of Ducks Unlimited; the Builders Association of Greater Augusta; the Richmond County Historical Society; the Richmond County Hospital Authority; the Tuttle Newton Home, a benevolence fund for children and families; and Walton Way Indemnity.

We’re afraid we left something out.

Oh, he also led the Georgia Concrete and Products Association. Remember what we said earlier about mortar? For 29 years he was an officer and partner in the Southern Roadbuilders contracting firm.

Not long after Southern Roadbuilders merged with APAC-Georgia Inc. in the 1990s, he turned his expertise to a newer charitable group founded in Augusta. Smith was president and CEO of the Community Foundation for the CSRA for 17 years, almost the entire existence of that outstanding philanthropy.

Oh, we left something else out. Smith also led the Georgia Council of Community Foundations, while he was with this area’s community foundation. It seems that if just about any civic or professional group needed a strong, commonsense, compassionate leader, Smith inevitably would be tapped on the shoulder for the job.

Of course he was a recipient of several honors, such as the Georgia Hospital Association’s Distinguished Service Award. He also was given the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce’s most distinguished honor, the Lester S. Moody Award of Excellence - to spotlight an Augusta business leader of superb vision, success and generosity to the community. That award was named for a longtime chamber executive, and a tireless local booster.

There needs to be an award named for Smith.

It should be an award bestowed on a local figure whose tireless work in the community, like Smith’s tireless work, helped shape Augusta into a better, brighter place. Wouldn’t that be noble and fitting to add to this incredible man’s legacy?

If an Augusta-area civic club, for example, were planning on inaugurating such an impactful award, we can’t think of a more deserving namesake than R. Lee Smith.

Online: https://www.augustachronicle.com


April 22

The Union Recorder on recycling to help keep areas clean:

Monday (April 22) is Earth Day, which is a great time to pause and reflect on our impact on Mother Earth.

It’s also a great time to remember that the cumulative effects of our resourcefulness now goes a long way in impacting the future and generations to come.

Locally, there have been significant strides made in improving the way we impact the environment and the local community. Recycling receptacles are now prominent at the Oconee River Greenway and in the local public schools, teaching a younger generation about recycling and showing them simple efforts they can put into practice for a lifetime. While these efforts mark progress, there is more that can be done.

Monthly cleanup efforts are held with the support of many in the local business community as well as local scout troops and groups of volunteers.

As is often the case in life, it can be easy to make excuses, saying that one person can’t make a difference, or that recycling is too inconvenient and not worth the effort. This is simply not true.

Recycling, once established in your home or office, becomes as habitual as any other household task. Placing a separate receptacle next to the main trash can in your kitchen can be a good way to instill the habits of separating garbage from recyclables. As an added bonus, seeing the recycling pile up in the bin can give a sense of satisfaction that you are doing something positive for the environment. Being responsible for our own trash is certainly an area where we can all chip in and it’s not too much to ask of any of us.

Education is also key. We must work from the grassroots to change the culture of the community so that we all realize the consequences of litter and want to do better by our own community.

Other small changes anyone can make to reduce their impact on the environment include: switching from plastic grocery bags to reusable cloth bags, carrying a refillable water bottle instead of buying bottled water, buying products in larger packaging instead of individually wrapped portions, starting a compost bin in the backyard for food scraps (creating subsequent fertilizer for gardening), washing clothes in cold water whenever possible, and taking shorter showers.

It is up to us step up and do our parts. Join a local cleanup effort, recycle, and make cleaning up your trash a regular practice. Local cleanups are held regularly spearheaded by Keep Milledgeville Baldwin Beautiful and are hosted in neighborhoods throughout the community.

We only have one planet to inhabit, and it is our responsibility to take care of it. Even if it’s hard to see the immediate effects in our lifetimes, we should care about the legacy we leave for future generations.

Make an effort to tidy up the space around you - we all certainly can and we certainly should.

Online: https://www.unionrecorder.com


April 20

The Savannah Morning News on city leadership too thin:

The leaner the government the better in most cases.

But right now, the city of Savannah’s leadership is too thin.

We are 12 days removed from learning of City Manager Rob Hernandez’s resignation. This vacancy comes on the heels of the unexpected early retirement of the official charged with overseeing the single largest city development project, Arena Development Director Pete Shonka. At least one other senior manager is said to be learning toward retirement, as well.

In the meantime, the mayor and aldermen have yet to name a new city attorney, and while the next public communications director has been chosen, the person has not yet assumed the position.

This week the city reported a large budget surplus and council members were far from unified on how to spend it. To top it all, the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax negotiations are scheduled to commence in early May. The penny sales tax must be renewed by county-wide referendum in November, and the leaders of the city, Chatham County and Chatham’s other municipalities must agree on a project list.

Help is needed, and unlike the public, the city’s remaining leaders can’t call 311. Perhaps 911 would be more appropriate.

The situation presents a stiff test for Mayor Eddie DeLoach and the eight alderman, and it comes at a time when many of them must consider the ramifications their actions might have on their reelection bids this fall.

The threat of gridlock increases every day we get closer to the election.

Mayor DeLoach is running for a second term, and his primary challenger is an alderman, Van Johnson. Several council incumbents are already facing opposition.

The arena project’s progress and the SPLOST referendum make a pitfall-laden political landscape all the more perilous. The city continues to make preparations to turn the first shovel of dirt on the arena, but has yet to do so.

Given that the arena was the big-ticket item in the last SPLOST and received funding in two prior penny tax approvals, the public is looking to the city’s arena management team, acting in place of the now-retired Shonka, to bring something out of the ground there soon.

Leaders must realize littering local roadsides with political campaign-style yard signs touting past SPLOST projects - as has been done near numerous penny tax-funded initiatives - won’t win many votes. Neither will city leadership dysfunction, real or imagined.

We urge Mayor DeLoach and the alderman to come together quickly and solidify the city government by putting strong leaders in open roles and finding consensus on the budget surplus dollars and SPLOST project list.

Don’t be lean. Lead.

Online: https://www.savannahnow.com

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