The Augusta City Council and visitors got to sit in new chairs for the first time in about 50 years Monday night. But they hardly broke those new chairs in with one of the shortest meetings of the year.
As is often the case for summer meetings, only five of the eight council members were in attendance Monday night with Jason Lowery, Matt Childers and Mike Wallace absent. The smaller group, combined with a short agenda led to a meeting that took just about an hour to complete. However, with the second annual budget work session – which often last for hours – coming up later this month, the comfort level of the new furniture will be tested.
A couple of the items on that short agenda included improvements to the city. The governing body approved up to $3,000 to work with Kerry Unrein on a new graphic to go on the sign west of the city where the Arts Council upcoming events are publicized. The new design features photos in a filmstrip motif but the art deco lettering did not meet the council's approval.
"I love the concept of the graphic and the photos," said Councilor Sue Jones. "But I hate the lettering on 'Augusta'. Is there any way the lettering could be more legible?"
Chamber Director Kent Overaker said the sign had been edited and he was sure that Unrein could make some changes to improve the readability of the lettering.
"The old sign is hideous," Mayor Kristey Williams said. Williams volunteered to approve the changes to the sign if the council wanted to move forward.
Councilor Matt Malone made a motion to approve the sign with modifications as long as the cost did not exceed $3,000. Jones seconded the motion and it passed 5-0. Overaker said he would meet with Unrein as soon as possible to make the changes and get a new proof to the Mayor.
Another action Monday night included the approval of Bill Morris as the project architect for the renovation of the Frisco Depot.
Jones said she was not convinced that dividing the structure with one third for the Chamber of Commerce, one third for Downtown Augusta Inc. and the final third for community activities was the best idea.
"If the community has to pay the bill, they should have the greatest access," Jones said.
The council approved Morris as the architect and planned a 6:30 p.m. walk-through of the facility with Morris before the July 29 work session.
"I haven't been in that building in six years," Mayor Williams said. "I think we need to see it."