18 June 2019

Newton Co., About to Levy Its Largest Tax Increase in History, Set to Buy Its 4th Parcel in Nelson Heights

By MB McCart, Ed. 

Concerns Abound Regarding JC Henderson's Involvement & the County's Past Track Record
 https://mail-attachment.googleusercontent.com/attachment/u/0/?view=att&th=16b6743bd1280782&attid=0.1&disp=inline&safe=1&zw&saddbat=ANGjdJ84NTalbh3vj-dDL-ZXtq9VA6EJo1F1XgXFpxYyfJxMvXZOoAgkFv1dw7piEK6M1KBR6o39010J32oz2dsIQg5xYimoMnv-ueMP4wu2sxfGbtuti7c0eGOjoIVjp5HAwyV66WC6M39mUag-z6u06F6orCOdfdh4wPOjGSQR4EKCbzzNuJjE2hJVeBjIW6WC-4Bun0vWYIj6ZewzzeCgLE1g5RWNdBh5-DXWuq5Q4R_aAiXjXWkqIYmZA-xuXGLxIS9SZkijXljC4CB82NDpwyZs4wi2dYJhXy9bwjJ7HiBvLU-DzW54sqhC9rf-7pwsHCT7ErBjw5646shZ1HUow8urKIkV2tcfcLmo4ipE5jr8SP6Fp9ZcEjCBEom9lQeoUMQI8Ee99u_UxXHPv9q6XQi-K_pWCzx0Clkd0YmjfIhkZvg3Wd3wVGX6R8FWhqVTPmt0992wMDJdbWW7tamI7T_eREge2vEo5xn_CBKcs0OtJAwaLjeByj80xunhN7No5FgI5Uj7w8oM1PTvNy9ImPUCDt8RlQcmjNQonk3JucXq4hYjyXVFtGTaBOUL8XiRMJXRGyiKM4kbqpHLDXhnMzgCyusQjrRf-114OKTSRHClgKpafdskpG4sHZhm2lkXXHHBZzGwKz8BGESyUOnWKurg_VGGIZWXdHMX6Q
At its general meeting this evening (6/18/19), it is on the agenda for the Newton Co. Board of Commissioners (BOC) to look at purchasing approx 1.9 acres of property from Rising Son Christian Church in Nelson Heights, right across from the Nelson Heights Community Center on Laseter St. Newton Co. already owns approx 11 acres where the community center sits, as well as two nearby parcels pushing 3 acres.

The concerns of many have to do with the questionable past actions of the county as it relates to property in this area as well as Commissioner JC Henderson & Rising Son Church. From a TPC source:
According to the county's 2016 Forensic AuditRising Son Church and Mr. Henderson were involved in a  very questionable land sale to the county in 2014, aided by former county attorney Tommy Craig (see excerpt from the report below).   Rising Son Christian Church and Commissioner Henderson were said to have financially benefited from  that land transaction.  At that time, Mr. Henderson was an officer in both the church and  Nelson Heights Community Services Inc., a non-profit organization.  The allegation was/is that in 2014 Mr. Henderson's non-profit organization sold the 0.63 tract, across the street from the subject tract, to Rising Son Church, which on the same date sold it to the county, with a $11,237 unsatisfied lien attached.  Mr. Craig was the county attorney that presumably approved the county's taking possession of a flawed title.   Has that lien been satisfied by the church or Mr. Henderson so that the county has a valid title?   In addition, as of March 2016 Rising Son Church owed the county back rent of $3,000 for use of the Nelson Heights Center according to the forensic report. Has that debt been paid?
Several important questions there.

Another question is this - the purported price to purchase is 25% higher than the fair market value per the Newton Co. Tax Assessor. Has an appraisal been done to justify this sales price?

Commentary

With the multitude of concerns about the financial state of the county as well as looking at a record-breaking budget & the county's biggest tax increase in its 199-year history, it seems as if this would be an irresponsible financial decision for the county to make, and that's without even getting into the concerns related to Henderson, the church or previous head-scratching decisions made by previous editions of the BOC.

The county needs to table this decision until more information can be gathered.


 
As always, thanks for reading.

- MB McCart


17 June 2019

[Bess Tuggle] - Memoirs of Surviving Children: Felony Caving in Walker Co., GA

Pettijohn’s  Caves are absolutely beautiful.  I know this because I’ve seen them.  I climbed in the front part of the cave - I also never want to set foot in Walker County, Georgia again.  My oldest, Thing 1, decided we should go on a camping trip.  Not just camping, but he wanted to take his Mama caving.  That was really not a good idea.

We loaded my old Sable with all the camping gear and up the road we went.

Thing 1 drove, but there was a rule with the Sable:  “Don’t put your foot in it!”  He forgot that rule.  The throttle cable was held together with airplane wire and a spare nut.  I’m not joking, but it worked!  It was also a royal pain if you got too heavy on the gas pedal and made it slip out.

A couple hours from home, Thing 1 got heavy on the gas pedal.  To the side of the road we went.  It took about another hour, with Mama on her back, head under the dash and feet over the back of the driver’s seat to fix it, but carry on we did.

We –finally- made it to the camp site!  I threw up the tent (I was an expert by then), put on our helmets, and into the cave we went.

For anyone that doesn’t know, at pushing 50 years old, dealing with mud and slimy rocks is not a good match.  I promise you.

  I got pulled out (yes, -pulled-) and cooked a good meal over the campfire while the boys’ played.  Thing 4 turned out to be “Spider Monkey.”  He made it down to the bottom, found places his brother had never seen, and came back up with a muddy smile on his face!

The next morning, after the big guys slept in the tent, Thing 4 and I slept in the Sable, we decided to try it again.  We all walked up the trail and Thing 4 dove into the cave before we could get close.

The Department of Natural Resources was closer, though.  Right behind us, in fact.  

We got arrested.  At least the three of us above ground did.  It’s the only time in my life I ended up with a warrant.  Charges: Felony caving.  There is no such thing as Felony caving, but that didn’t help a lot with the legal fees.  If there was any such charge the only one guilty would have been my youngest, Thing 4.  He was the only one in the cave.  The DNR said they weren’t going to give him a ticket because he was so young.  

Our camp was packed up, and home we came.  Thing 1 was stuck in Walker County jail for a couple months.  He was on probation, so they kept him, and Newton County wouldn’t provide transport for over 75 miles.  He did learn how to make jail hooch out of fruit juice and biscuit crumbs though.

Once back home, we -finally- got all the charges dropped.  It didn’t help that Walker County “lost” all the tickets, but our records were cleared.

Nope, I’m not a felon.  Not yet, anyway.      

- Bess Tuggle


City of Covington Council Meeting Tonight. June 17, 2019. 6:30 PM

AGENDA
CITY OF COVINGTON
COUNCIL MEETING
JUNE 17, 2019
6:30 PM


1. Call to order, invocation, and Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America.
UNFINISHED BUSINESS
2. Discussion of the minutes from the Regular Council Meeting held on June 3, 2019.
NEW BUSINESS
3. Discussion of changes to the agenda.
4. Public comments for any item not on the agenda.
CONSENT AGENDA
5a. Approval of license for alcoholic beverages for Beer and/or Wine Retail Amenity only for:
Living Roots Home D├ęcor
1114 College Ave
5b. Approval of request for road closure on June 22, 2019 for the Juneteenth Parade.
5c. Approval of request for road closure on September 15, 2019 for a car show to raise funds for Officer Matt Cooper.
6. Discussion of public hearing concerning an application for a Special Use Permit to allow catering services in the Neighborhood Mixed Use zoning district at 4152 Washington Street.
7. Discussion of DCA 2019-2020 Classic Main Street MOU.
8. Discussion of bids for Town Branch at Legion Field Project.
9. Discussion of bids for Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) for the Electric Department.
10. Discussion of sole bid for Council/Court Room Conversion Project.
11. Discussion of First Amendment to IGA with Newton County for E-911 Services.
12. Discussion of IGA with Newton County for the provision of Geographical Information Systems.
13. Discussion of IGA with Newton County for the provision of Parks and Recreation Services.
14. Discussion of Consecutive Water System Intergovernmental Agreement.
15. Discussion of IGA with Newton County for the Square Park.
16. Public comments.
17. Comments from the City Manager.
18. Comments from the Mayor and Council.
19. Adjourn.

16 June 2019

Mayor Ronnie Johnston's Press Release Announcing His Candidacy for Reelection



*Ed. note: the following is a press release provided to TPC from Covington Mayor Ronnie Johnston who has officially declared his candidacy for reelection. I plan on interviewing Mr. Johnston soon, as well as both of the other declared candidates for Mayor of Covington, so be on the look out for those future pieces. As always, thanks for reading. - MB McCart

||||||| 


Covington Mayor Ronnie Johnston has announced plans to seek a third term as Covington’s Mayor. Johnston began by stating, “It has been an honor serving the citizens over the past 2 terms.  When looking back over my time in office, seeing how far Covington has come from where we started is astonishing. The groundwork has been laid for life changing opportunities for our citizens,” Johnston said. “If we don’t capitalize on that groundwork, we will have left so much on the table.”

Covington Mayor Ronnie Johnston


“During my time as Mayor, we have seen tremendous investments by businesses that are coming to Covington to bring jobs for our citizens.  My primary focus as Mayor has been to focus on eradicating poverty and ensuring anyone who wants a job can have a good one. That mission will continue as we work on improving the living standards of everyone.” Johnston said.

Johnston’s past two terms have seen unemployment in Covington drop by over 10 percent and the average median household income has risen by over $20,000. “These successes have led to us going from having a surplus of housing in the city, to us now concentrating on ensuring our citizens have quality options for housing,” said Johnston.

“There are so many other great things we have seen during my time as Mayor. Like the revitalization of the Square, Legion Field and the start of Central Park,” Johnston said. “The Highway 278 Community Improvement District (CID) has started breathing new life into the 278 corridor.  Kroger’s recent announcement to start a nearly $1 million renovation this summer is a great example of this progress.”

Johnston was also instrumental in the process of ensuring the Covington Police will soon have a new state of the art station.  During his tenure, the police department has also seen the addition of seven new police officers. The Covington Fire Department has also seen improvements during this time with the addition of a new fire truck.  “Supporting first responders and citizens' safety is a priority” stated Johnston.

Johnston chose to make his declaration on the weekend we honor our fathers as a nation and honoring in particular his late father Dr. John C Johnston. Johnston said, “My role as a father and grandfather motivate me to keep our community moving forward.  We owe it to our children and grandchildren to continue to make Covington an even stronger community. There are four generations of Johnston’s that currently call Covington home, and I want to make sure the fifth generation is proud to call Covington home also.”

The mayor invites citizens to share their dreams and visions with him and is available on his cell phone at 770-262-1001. If you prefer email, please send to rjohnston@cityofcovington.org

###



15 June 2019

BLU MAXX Live Tonight at Five O'Clock - Jeff Hay Tribute Show

The Boys Will Be Hitting the Stage at 9:30 TONIGHT!!! -- SAT. JUNE 15th -- at Five O'Clock Sports Bar & Grill

Legendary local band, Blu Maxx, has wowed audiences again & again throughout four decades with their high-energy, kick-ass Rock 'n' Roll music. Tonight will be a first for the band, the first time playing a show since original member Jeff Hay passed away after his courageous battle against cancer. Tonight's show is a tribute for Jeff & his memory. 


Blu Maxx back in the day

From fellow original member & Blu Maxx Drummer, John Riley: 

Jeff had a wealth of friends. Always full of energy and doing for others. He not only had a heart for music, he had a heart for people. That’s what made people love him so much. We miss his laugh and his funny antics but his spirit will always stay with us and alive and well in Blu Maxx. 

The lineup for tonight's show: 


Jeff Autry - Guitar 
Tommy Forgay - Keys
John Riley - Drums
Paul Arredondo - Bass
Ruud Cooty - Vocals

Jeff Hay Tribute Show



This promises to be a helluva night, friends. BLU MAXX live at Five O'Clock Sports Bar & Grill. Saturday June 15th. 9:30PM.
Don't Miss it! 

Visit The 5 on Facebook!
7189 Turner Lake Rd
770-385-3060



13 June 2019

[Ellis Millsaps] - Son of a Preacher Man: Ch V; Pt II

Son of a Preacher Man: A Rock And Roll Cowboy Grows Up Southern Baptist

Chapter V, The Lake of Fire and Brimstone, Part Two



As I’ve said. I'd attended scores of revival services before the summer of ‘57, revivals whose raison de etre was to rack up enlistees for God's army. The major recruitment tool was to make sure the potential soldiers knew they would certainly die and go to hell if they didn't enlist. It said so right there in God's word. (I'm not so sure about that, having read the whole thing from start to finish twice. The only reference I recall from the New Testament, aside from the wacky Book of Revelations, is the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, the main thrust of which is what comes around goes around.)  I'd heard many an altar call, took pride in my father's successes, but none of that applied to me. It applied to sinners and I thought I'd been a pretty good boy up to that point.


John Ayers was a handsome man. He  looked a lot like Fess Parker, my hero Davy Crockett. I had a little yellow 45 of “The Ballad of Davy Crockett.” I have no idea now what was on the B side.) The Reverend Ayers would later get exposed, like Jimmy Swaggart and many others, as a philanderer.


He was handsome, and I heard later from my father that he had a crooked right index finger from a football mishap so that when he pointed at you he might have intended to point at someone else.


Maybe it was the crooked finger or maybe the Davy Crockett resemblance, but the first night of the revival he was pointing at me, a six-year-old, telling me that if I didn't come down to the front of the church, confess my sins and publicly accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, I was doomed eternally to a lake of fire and brimstone, which he described in lurid detail.


That was what he said-- come down here and fess up-- but I well knew it meant come down front, get down on your knees and we'll take turns praying over you until we let you up and then maybe the shouting starts, followed by being hugged and kissed by a series of snuff dipping old women.. The lake on fire and brimstone was a long way off but this other hell was right here and now.


So I wasn't going down there for that, but the next night he told a story about a kid he knew-- and I was to learn over the years that a lot of preachers seemed to have known this kid-- who told him he wasn't ready to accept Jesus that night. He had lots of time for that. On the way home this young man died in a car wreck, and Preacher Ayers could only hope that somehow he had found Jesus on his walk to the car.


They gave the Invitational, probably “Why Not Tonight?”, and I trembled with fear. Both hells were imminent. It was pick your poison.


For a year I lived in fear of satanic torture. I didn't think about it most of the time, but I did look both ways when crossing the street and every time I heard an Invitational I quivered, and when I lay me down to sleep I knew that if I died before I woke it was curtain number two.


Fear haunted my church-going until the following summer when my parents and I went to a revival service at the Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta. The evangelist was someone Daddy particularly admired, and he must have been good because he scared me so much my mother finally noticed.  I'm sure that before that time it hadn't occurred to my family that at age seven I had reached the” age of conviction,” ( I never told them about the year I’d spent in fear of hell) but when my mother and I got in the car she asked me if I'd ever felt the need to answer the altar call. I said yes and started crying. She prayed and asked me if I accepted Jesus as my savior and I got saved right then in the backseat of a 56 Dodge.


When my father finished up his preacher talk with the other preachers he came out to drive us home and my mother gave him the joyous news. I don't remember what he said but I'm sure he was pleased, his pleasure possibly tempered by his unawareness that I was old enough to need saving.


I remember that he stopped on the way back to Holly Springs and bought me a Coca-Cola, the six-and a-half ounce returnable bottle kind, and I remember vividly how refreshing it was.


I felt supremely happy, not happy that I was going to heaven but relieved that I wasn't going to hell.


Damn, I'd beaten both hells!


From what I’d heard of heaven it was preferable only to the alternative. It would be boring-- no cowboys or saloons-- but I wouldn't have to be burned alive for eternity.


It's like the old joke where the preacher asks the congregation who wants to go to heaven. Everyone raises their hand except old Mr. Jones.


When the service is over the preacher takes Mr. Jones aside and asks,” Brother Jones, don't you want to go to heaven when you die?”


Mr. Jones looks relieved.” Oh, when I die, yes pastor. I thought you were getting up a load to go right now.”



This is my oldest sister Joyce about to be baptized by my father. She appears to be about ten, eleven. That would make this sometime during WWII. Beside her is my cousin Madeline and an unknown male waiting to take the plunge. On the far shore my sister Clara observes.



12 June 2019

[MB McCart] - More Concerns About the Sheriff's Spending (But Then I Repeat Myself)

This publication has recently found that for a six month period, from July 1 - December 31, 2018, that the county spent $128,931 on a multitude of repairs from Precision Auto (Covington, GA), with almost all invoices coming from either the Sheriff's Office & Jail Operations, despite the fact that Newton Co. has a vehicle repair shop that takes care of most of the county's vehicles.



Further research shows that approx $300,000 was spent at Precision Auto for fiscal year (FY)  2018 with almost all of those invoices being paid by the Sheriff's Office or Jail Operations. Again, the county has an automotive shop. 



Newton Co. Sheriff Ezell Brown
More recently, in the month of April 2019, it appears the county spent $24,684 with Precision Auto so based on the information on hand, it's looking as if the county will end up spending as much for FY 2019 as they did the previous year.

All of this begs the following question - why is not the Newton Co. Auto Shop handling most of this work? As one Newton political watcher mentioned - "If only the labor was saved it would amount to thousands of dollars each year."


Interesting...

By the way, the Sheriff paid approx $24,000 to William Thomas (Tommy) Craig in April of 2019 so it's looking like Craig will be making at least a few hundred thousand dollars this year, compliments of the Newton Co. taxpayers, once again.


Image result for william tommy craig covington ga
Wm Thomas "Tommy" Craig, Esq.


-
MB McCart