Busi­nesses con­sid­er­ing New­ton Co.

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

While Cov­ing­ton Mayor Ron­nie John­ston said last week that a cou­ple of large in­dus­trial prospects — to­tal­ing 1,500 jobs — are look­ing at New­ton County, Cham­ber Pres­i­dent Hunter Hall said some small and medium-sized busi­nesses are look­ing at the county as well.

An in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy firm based in Ma­con is con­sid­er­ing New­ton County for its next lo­ca­tion be­cause of the re­cent growth in new in­dus­tries, Hall said in the Cov­ing­ton-New­ton County Cham­ber of Com­merce’s new weekly wrap email.

An­other Ma­con-based busi­ness, a staffing agency, is con­sid­er­ing open­ing a new of­fice in the county to pro­vide em­ploy­ees for lo­cal in­dus­tries, Hall said, not­ing that a staffing agency rep­re­sen­ta­tive said, “New­ton is a gold mine.”

Fi­nally, Hall said an elec­tri­cal en­gi­neer with a re­tail op­er­a­tion in Gwin­nett County talked to the cham­ber about pos­si­bly re­lo­cat­ing to New­ton County, be­cause he was im­pressed with the work the New­ton Col­lege and Ca­reer Acad­emy was do­ing with the STEM (science, tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing and math) pro­gram.

In restau­rant news, Fire­house Subs opened its lo­ca­tion on U.S. High­way 278, while a new lo­cal busi­ness, Dirty Dogs, at 1109 Reynolds St. in down­town Cov­ing­ton, is set to open in mid-Au­gust and re­cently re­ceived a li­cense to serve beer and wine. Cov­ing­ton

Cov­ing­ton is con­tin­u­ing its al­ter­na­tive-fuel push, re­cently choos­ing to pur­sue a “Con­ges­tion Mit­i­ga­tion and Air Qual­ity Pro­gram” grant, which could give the city up to $1 mil­lion to re­place cur­rent gaso­line and diesel-pow­ered ve­hi­cles with com­pressed nat­u­ral gas (CNG) ve­hi­cles. The pro­gram could also be used to help the New­ton County School Sys­tem and county govern­ment swap out ve­hi­cles as well.

The city will find out if gets the grant, which is funded by the U.S. Dept. of En­ergy through the At­lanta Re­gional Com­mis­sion, in De­cem­ber.

The Cov­ing­ton City Coun­cil voted Mon­day to al­low city grant writer Randy Con­ner to ex­press ini­tial in­ter­est in the pro­gram; gov­ern­ments will of­fi­cially ap­ply later in the year.

In his let­ter to the coun­cil, Con­ner said the money could be used to re­place more po­lice cars, san­i­ta­tion and roll-off trucks, street sweep­ers and other gen­eral city trucks. School buses are an­other pop­u­lar ve­hi­cle to con­vert to run on CNG. Since they drive so many miles, sav­ings on fuel

and main­te­nance will more quickly cover the cost of con­vert­ing to a CNG-pow­ered engine.

If the city were to get the grant, it would have to pay a 20 per­cent match, or $200,000.

The city is in the process of build­ing the first pub­licly-owned CNG-fu­el­ing fa­cil­ity in Ge­or­gia; the sta­tion will be lo­cated off City Pond Road.

• The city also paid $45,000 for a new vac­uum de­bris col­lec­tor to go on the back of one of its street sweep­ers.

• Speak­ing of main­te­nance, City Man­ager Leigh Anne Knight said the city will soon be seek­ing bids for the main­te­nance of the grassy ar­eas around exit 90 as well as some por­tions of U.S. High­way 278.

The city doesn’t have ex­ist­ing man­power to han­dle the main­te­nance, nor does it want to worry about the li­a­bil­ity of main­tain­ing the heav­ily-traf­ficked area.

The Ge­or­gia Dept. of Trans­porta­tion is re­spon­si­ble for main­tain­ing the area but doesn’t have the bud­get to main­tain it on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

New­ton County

Chair­man Keith El­lis has a back­ground in en­ergy ef­fi­ciency, as he pre­vi­ously owned a com­pany that au­dited build­ings’ use of power, and he’s hop­ing to see some sav­ings at the dozens of build­ings the county owns. He said this week the county is re­ceiv­ing pro­pos­als for au­dits from the South­face In­sti­tute and Elec­tric Cities of Ge­or­gia. El­lis hopes more en­ergy-ef­fi­cient build­ings will save the county money.

• Board of Com­mis­sion­ers meet­ings got more com­fort­able this past week, as padded cush­ions were added to wooden benches in the His­toric Court­house, courtesy of for­mer Cov­ing­ton mayor and busi­ness owner Sam Ram­sey.

Ram­sey is also heav­ily in­volved in the an­nual week-long Salem Camp Meet­ing ad­ja­cent to Salem United Methodist Church, which is where Ram­sey got the cush­ions. He said the camp meet­ing only needs them one time a year, and the rest of the time they stay in stor­age, so he fig­ured the county could use them.

The court­house benches are no­to­ri­ously un­com­fort­able, and some cit­i­zens have been known to bring their own cush­ions.

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