RAIL­ROAD

The Covington News - - Front page -

do­ing that,” Dal­ton said.

“Well, I’m in­ter­ested in do­ing that,” Carter re­sponded. “There’s a lot of folks in the county in­ter­ested in hear­ing that and there’s a lot of con­cerned cit­i­zens that are in­ter­ested in hear­ing that.”

The April 29 in­for­ma­tional rail­road meet­ing is still sched­uled to be held at Cov­ing­ton City Hall at 5:30 p.m.

On Tues­day, Good­man said the mo­tion by Dal­ton star­tled her and she had never heard of some­one mak­ing a mo­tion not to talk about some­thing in her more than 30 years on the coun­cil.

“It’s the odd­est thing I’ve ever seen pro­ce­dure wise,” she said. “I don’t know how you rep­re­sent peo­ple when you do not al­low peo­ple to lis­ten to both sides of a coin; that’s closed minded.”

Good­man said not one per­son has told her they are against the rail­road pur­chase, but re­gard­less, she said she felt the best course of action would have been to vote af­ter gath­er­ing all of the facts at the April 29 in­for­ma­tional meet­ing.

In an e-mail, Carter ex­pressed dis­ap­point­ment with the vote, be­cause it took place be­fore the April 29 in­for­ma­tional meet­ing and be­cause she said the coun­cil mem­bers had asked for the meet­ing ear­lier in the month. Carter said she re­spects the ser­vice of the coun­cil mem­bers, but she dis­agreed with last night’s ac­tions.

“We took an oath to serve all the peo­ple of Cov­ing­ton and to make the best, most in­formed de­ci­sions pos­si­ble,” Carter said. “To earn and keep the pub­lic's trust, our de­ci­sions should be based on a pub­lished agenda, pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion, and open dis­cus­sion of facts and ra­tio­nale. Last night was a sig­nif­i­cant step in the wrong di­rec­tion in that re­gard.”

Good­man will at­tend the meet­ing, as will What­ley, even thought he said he voted against the rail­road be­cause of fi­nan­cial con­cerns and neg­a­tive feed­back from con­stituents. Dal­ton and Smith said they will not be at­tend­ing the meet­ing.

“We need to put this thing to bed, re­ally, and make sure Mr. Con­ner di­rects his time to­ward other projects at this point for the city,” Smith said. “We need to move on.”

Dal­ton said Tues­day he asked for the agenda item to be added be­cause with the re­cent school cuts, he didn’t want the city to waste any more time or money on in­ves­ti­gat­ing the rail­road.

“Time and money are re­sources and both are pre­cious right now. I thought we sent a clear mes­sage be­fore that we didn’t even want to seek any grant money to pur­sue this,” Dal­ton said. “Why should we keep spin­ning our wheels for some­thing the ma­jor­ity of us don’t want?”

Franklin and Wil­liams did not re­turn phone mes­sages Tues­day.

Cov­ing­ton and New­ton County have been in dis­cus­sions to pur­chase por­tions of the Nor­folk South­ern that runs through the county for the past cou­ple of years, stem­ming from a civic cen­ter project, which was ap­proved in the 2005 SPLOST.

The last pub­licly dis­cussed price was $1.8 mil­lion for the 14.9-mile stretch of track that runs from Por­terdale through Cov­ing­ton to New­born. The county has a lit­tle more than $1 mil­lion in grants that could be used to buy the rail­road.

The New­ton County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers hasn’t yet voted on whether it wants to pur­sue the rail­road pur­chase. Chair­man Kathy Mor­gan has re­peat­edly said the BOC is con­tin­u­ing to gather facts and dis­cuss the pur­chase with Nor­folk South­ern.

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