Headlines around Georgia that you may have missed

New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam below Augusta.

Credit: AJC File photo

Credit: AJC File photo

A city considers suing the federal government, a company buys a Mississippi mall, and a university expands its reach

Augusta considers lawsuit to stop dam removal  

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it’s legally required to remove a dam to improve fish habitat in the Savannah River. Now a Georgia city may join the state of South Carolina in taking the federal government to court to save the dam, and keep the upstream river running high.

The Augusta commission plans to discuss a potential lawsuit this week. Mayor Pro Tem Sean Frantom said “all options are on the table.”

“I think many of us would like to keep the lock and dam. I’m not sure that’s even feasible, based on how the Corps is responding to us and everything. We’re setting ourselves up for litigation,” he said.

Officials say removing the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam would lower upstream water levels by at least 2 feet.

That could be lower than the intakes local governments and industries use to withdraw water from the elevated Savannah River. It also would make recreation less attractive along a river where dozens of affluent homeowners maintain docks.

The Corps announced plans this month to remove the dam and build a series of rock weirs across the river to comply with a 2016 law meant to improve fish habitats. It says an earlier proposal to keep the dam and build a fish passage around it won’t maintain the water level.

Removing the dam, which was built in 1937 and is deteriorating, would mitigate damage from another big project, to deepen the harbor at the city of Savannah. The goal is to enable shortnose and Atlantic sturgeon to reach their historic spawning grounds at Augusta.

State company buys a mall in Mississippi 

Georgia-based Hull Property Group is the new owner of a Mississippi mall.

The Commercial Dispatch reports an ownership deed for Leigh Mall was filed Friday in Lowndes County. Hull, until now unnamed, bid $3.5 million to win an Oct. 17 auction for the mall.

Hull gets 300,000 square feet of retail space and more than 30 acres (12 hectares) of land.

Previous owner Colony Financial took over Leigh Mall after Security National Properties defaulted on a $34.7 million loan in 2018. Leigh Mall was one of dozens of properties securing the loan.

Lowndes County tax officials valued the mall at $12 million to $18 million in 2018.

The mall, built in 1973, is 57% occupied. Original anchors J.C. Penney and Sears closed.

University partners with Ireland 

Georgia Southern University has officially opened a learning center in Ireland.

Savannah Morning News reports Georgia Southern University leaders traveled to Wexford recently for the ceremonial event.

The university says the center stems from a long-time partnership between the town and Savannah, and Georgia Southern’s Center for Irish Research and Teaching. The school says many Savannah residents claim Irish ancestry and can trace ancestors specifically to Wexford.

University president Kyle Marrero met Ireland President Michael D. Higgins during the visit. The school says it marked the first official meeting between a Georgia Southern president and a foreign head of state.

The school says Georgia Southern is the first public university in the United States to open an outreach learning facility in Ireland.

— Compiled by ArLuther Lee / The Atlanta Journal-Constitution