Editorials for Nov. 1

  • Posted: 11/7/2012 4:23 PM
    6/1/2013 6:17 PM

North Augusta residents have a chance on Tuesday to remove one stumbling block to some restaurants coming to North Augusta. Time and again, representatives of desirable restaurants have been reported to say that a big deterrent to their locating in North Augusta is the lack of Sunday alcohol sales.

Voters on Tuesday can change that by voting to approve the local question. By clicking "yes," voters will agree that restaurants have the option of getting a temporary license to sell alcoholic beverages on Sunday. A vote "yes" will also allow convenience stores and grocery stores the option of purchasing a temporary license to sell beer and wine on Sunday. The local question will not allow for liquor stores to sell alcohol by the bottle on Sunday. State law doesn't allow liquor stores to be open on Sunday no matter what the local community wants. So with an affirmative vote, you'll be able to buy a Mai Tai at Monterrey or a six pack of Budweiser at the grocery store, but you won't be able to buy a bottle of gin.

The question on the ballot is not as clear as it might be. It asks, "Shall the S.C. Department of Revenue be authorized to issue temporary permits in the City of North Augusta for a period not to exceed 24 hours to allow the possession, sale and consumption of alcoholic liquors by the drink to bona fide nonprofit organizations and business establishments authorized to be licensed for consumption-on-premises sales and to allow the sale of beer and wine at permitted off-premises locations without regard to the days or hours of sales." The question is worded this way because it is required by state law.

Yes, nowhere does it say Sunday alcohol sales, but that is what it means. (Establishments already have licenses to sell alcoholic beverages on any other day.)

Whether you drink alcoholic beverages or not, a vote "yes" would give individuals the right to choose for themselves and, more importantly, take away the major excuse for certain restaurants not locating here.

Approving the local question will help move North Augusta forward.

Vote "yes" on the ballot Tuesday.

Aiken County residents are being asked to vote on a change in their form of government on Tuesday's ballot.

A vote "yes" will shift the Aiken County government from a Council/Administrator to a Council/Manager form of government. The major effect of a vote in the affirmative will be that the treasurer and auditor will no longer be elected but will be hired as employees of the county.

This year's treasurer's race is a perfect example of why a change is in order. The treasurer of Aiken County is now solely responsibly for multimillions that come into the county. Yet, an elected treasurer only has to have a high school diploma to run for that office. And to compound the concern, this year's race includes only write-in candidates. As a result, voters will have to write in their candidate of choice - without benefit of seeing any names of the nine or so declared candidates already on the ballot. That means there is a much greater chance than ever of votes being disqualified because of misspelling the name or confusing two candidates or putting in the name of someone who isn't really running for the office - and a much better chance of someone who is totally unqualified for the position to get elected. In the auditor's race there is only one candidate on the ballot with at least one other declaring as a write-in.

Some will argue that moving to a Council/Manager form of government will take some of the direct control out of the hands of the voters; however, at least if the treasurer and auditor were hired by the County, voters would have recourse on a regular basis at County Council meetings. You can go twice a month to a public meeting of Council and air your grievances. As it is now, when was the last time the treasurer or the auditor held a public meeting in which you could express what you dislike - or like, for that matter - about how the finances of the local government are being handled?

It appears to us that you have a greater opportunity to talk about how you feel concerning the job the treasurer or auditor is doing if County Council is ultimately in control than if the treasurer and auditor are elected.

Choosing to change the form of government doesn't take any real power out of the voters hands. Instead, it makes it more likely that the person in charge of all the money coming into the county is qualified to handle such sums. Also, as it is, the treasurer and auditor are elected, but their staff is not, and their office is provided by the County. This has often made for discord when budget time comes around and the County is trying to cut the budget of an elected official.

Aiken County will be better off with the Council/Manager form of government.

Vote "yes" on the referendum on Tuesday.

What is the measure of a man? Is it his career? Is it his family? Is it his religion?

On all counts, Dr. W. Gamewell Watson measures at least 10-feet tall.

This icon of the community was laid to rest last week, and family, friends and colleagues gathered to celebrate his life one final time.

But the influence of Dr. Watson goes far beyond the 15,000 babies he delivered, far beyond the years he spent as the team doctor at North Augusta High School, far beyond his decades as an usher at Grace United Methodist Church.

His work ethic is legendary. He continued to make rounds even after his 100th birthday, arriving at University Hospital by 6:30 a.m. for a healthy breakfast before checking on patients, friends and church members in the hospital. And on weekends, Dr. Watson was likely to be found working on the family farm, picking up pecans that had fallen and doing a little pruning or working in his yard in North Augusta.

And his love of God and his church was evident in everything he did. His quiet manner in service to his fellow man and to his God were a light for all who knew him.

He always said that a good man pays attention to three things every day - family, church and community. Anyone in North Augusta could attest to that. When he was still seeing patients, he would check in with his wife, Audrey, several times during a given morning. And his influence at Grace UMC was felt by all - He headed two building committees and ushered every Sunday until only recently. He worked for five decades with the football program at North Augusta High School, and he was one of the first inductees into the North Augusta Sports Hall of Fame.

"Papa Doc's Creed" was at the core of his being, and he shared it with everyone he met: "Always do your best. Never give up. There's room at the top. Be a lady. Be a gentleman."

It was a creed he lived by, and his example set the path for many a youth in North Augusta.

At his funeral Saturday, it was commented that, for a time some of us thought God had made an exception on mortality for Dr. Watson, and he would be with us forever.

But even an icon of the community deserves a rest. And while we will no longer have Dr. Watson's living example to follow, his influence will live on.

Our hearts go out to Dr. Watson's family. Papa Doc will be sorely missed.