Cou­ple hopes art com­mu­nity will re­vi­tal­ize Washington St.

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - GABRIEL KHOULI gkhouli@cov­news.com

Ash­ley and Peter Swan came to Cov­ing­ton a year and a half ago to lead the Cov­ing­ton Re­gional Bal­let to a new level. Now they have their sights sets a lit­tle higher as they hope to raise Cov­ing­ton’s artis­tic com­mu­nity to new heights, and they’re plan­ning to do it in an un­likely place.

The Swans have am­bi­tious plans to turn the Washington Street com­mer­cial cor­ri­dor into an artist haven and vis­i­tor des­ti­na­tion that could be­come the cul­tural heart of the county.

Hav­ing moved from Charleston, S.C., the Swans were used to a rich arts cul­ture. How­ever, the op­por­tu­nity to di­rect a bal­let com­pany swayed them to move to Cov­ing­ton’s small-town at­mos­phere. Dur­ing the past year and a half, the cou­ple has come to love Cov­ing­ton and they want to help it reach what they think is its full po­ten­tial.

Liv­ing in the Por­terdale Mill Lofts and com­mut­ing daily to the square, the cou­ple has be­come fa­mil­iar with the Washington Street cor­ri­dor, and they’ve noted it’s nei­ther the most aes­thet­i­cally pleas­ing place nor par­tic­u­larly pedes­trian friendly.

Though plans are very much in the con­cep­tual stage, the idea is to cre­ate an arts in­cu­ba­tor pro­gram that will draw to Cov­ing­ton tal­ented

re­ces­sion of our gen­er­a­tion. It’s go­ing to be a plea­sure to serve in that lead­er­ship role that’s go­ing to help us move out of that and into brand new day in New­ton County,” he said.

El­lis ex­plained that he plans to be a chair­man that will work with the BOC and that the board was a team who could pos­i­tively make great progress in the county.

“I’m look­ing for­ward to be­ing a leader who can bring the board of com­mis­sion­ers to a con­sen­sus and re­act as a team dur­ing im­por­tant is­sues for our ci­ti­zens,” he said. “Build­ing a bet­ter New­ton County is what all ci­ti­zens want. Pro­vid­ing the qual­ity of life for gen­er­a­tions to come and build­ing a bet­ter New­ton County has got to in­clude team­work.”

“I think that we’ve got an op­por­tu­nity to turn the page and work to­gether as a board and serve in a pro­fes­sional man­ner. Even when we dis­agree, we can find com­mon ground and com­pro­mise to get the re­sults that New­ton County needs,” El­lis said.

In ad­di­tion to work­ing with the BOC, El­lis said he also wants to build bridges with all five cities in the county, con­sti­tu­tional of­fi­cers and the leg­isla­tive del­e­ga­tion.

“I want to work with the leg­isla­tive del­e­ga­tion to get as many op­por­tu­ni­ties to ben­e­fit New­ton County as pos­si­ble in this cur­rent year and fu­ture years. I want to build that bridge now to be able to get the ben­e­fits of hav­ing a strong del­e­ga­tion and a so­lid­i­fied com­mis­sion be­hind them.”

El­lis added that he also wanted to cap­i­tal­ize on Bax­ter In­ter­na­tional and Stan­ton Springs as well as the devel­op­ment au­thor­i­ties land. He said a per­sonal goal would be to help the younger gen­er­a­tions in the county learn the im­por­tance of ed­u­ca­tion and train them so that they can work at places such as Bax­ter and earn a bet­ter wage for their fam­i­lies.

Though he is the new chair­man for the county, El­lis said he ap­pre­ci­ates all those who have served the county be­fore him. He said he will call on past lead­ers for wis­dom as he takes on his new role.

“I have a tremen­dous amount of re­spect for all com­mis­sion­ers who have served as district com­mis­sion­ers and chair­men in the past. I ad­mire all the achieve­ments that have been made by those boards over the years,” El­lis said. “Many of those peo­ple I am go­ing to call on in the fu­ture for as­sis­tance, ad­vice and maybe just to have a cup of cof­fee. I wish them the best and thanks for their ser­vice.”

El­lis said his main fo­cus is the ci­ti­zens. He made the point that he al­ways wants to keep them in­formed and be as trans­par­ent and hon­est as pos­si­ble.

“We want to let them know about our vi­sion and lis­ten to them and rep­re­sent them rather than us mak­ing our de­ci­sions to do what’s best for the peo­ple,” El­lis said.

“The past is over and we will learn from it, but our fu­ture is ahead and it is bright.” Com­mis­sion­ers and of­fi­cials sworn in

Fam­ily and ci­ti­zens from the com­mu­nity wit­nessed sev­eral other of­fi­cials get sworn-in to of­fice by Judge Baker dur­ing the cer­e­mony on last Thurs­day.

Repub­li­cans John Dou­glas and Le­vie Mad­dox were sworn-in to serve as new com­mis­sion­ers for the county. Dou­glas will rep­re­sent District 1 on the board and Mad­dox will rep­re­sent District 5.

Demo­crat Nancy Schulz was sworn-in for a sec­ond term as a BOC com­mis­sioner to rep­re­sent District 3.

With nearly 40-years in law en­force­ment, New­ton County Sher­iff Ezell Brown was backed by his fam­ily as he was sworn-in to serve his sec­ond term in of­fice.

Repub­li­can Tommy Davis took an oath to per­form all of the du­ties en­tailed with be­ing the county coro­ner.

Linda D. Hayes took an oath of of­fice to serve as the Clerk of Courts as her fam­ily wit­ness her be­ing sworn-in. Hayes then took to the stage again to hold a Bi­ble for Bar­bara Din­gler, who was sworn-in as tax com­mis­sioner.

The cer­e­mony con­cluded with a prayer from former BOC com­mis­sioner Mort Ewing. At­ten­dees gath­ered for re­fresh­ments and pic­tures af­ter the event.

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