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.