20 March 2018

Covington Councilman Josh McKelvey Tenders His Resignation from the Newton Co. Rec Commission

Strongly worded letter speaks to the dysfunction of the Newton Co. Government 

TL;DR - Mic Drop

Just a couple of hours ago this publication received McKelvey's resignation letter, and in our estimation, it is absolutely SPOT ON! Well done, Councilman. Now with both McKelvey & Rhodes off the board, one hopes that perhaps this shameful witch hunt is over. But now the consensus view is that we'll likely see a dumpster fire with the Rec Commission moving forward. And that's a shame. That's too bad for our kids, but apparently ego and the thirst for more power are more important to some of our elected officials.

Here is McKelvey's letter in its entirety: 

March 20, 2018

Dear Chairman Banes,
When I was first asked about serving as the City of Covington’s appointment to the Newton County Recreation Commission, I was eager and honored to accept. I had just been elected to my first term as one of Covington’s three East Ward Representatives, and wanted to be a driver of positive change in our community. My two children were not ready to be involved in any recreation programs yet, but I knew one day they would be. From my discussions with other Council Members, County Commissioners, and friends, I also was aware the Recreation Commission had some perceived “issues.” I was excited to take part in helping to improve that perception and to make the programs offered by the NCRC better for the children of our County.
The last few months have been eye-opening to say the least. Prior to the initiation of the “quasi-judicial” proceeding to have me removed from my appointed position on the Newton County Recreation Commission, I believed all the talk about “unity” and “working together for a better Newton County.” I felt, and still feel, that an individual should not be judged by party membership, race, religion, family lineage, or wealth, but by character and actions. I wanted the politically influenced rash decision making and the quid-pro-quo that defined “politics as usual” in Newton County to end. This is why I rejected the “Good Ol’ Boy” candidate put up by my own party and openly encouraged others to support you, the first Democrat I’ve ever voted for in my life, to be the next Chairman of the Newton County Board of Commissioners. I truly believed things would be different. Unfortunately, recent events have cast some doubt on those beliefs.
Since that night in November, I have watched Commissioners and community activists, people that I greatly respected and supported in the past, either stay silent or go along with this game that’s being played. The most disturbing of this was the fact that a year ago, I had a Commissioner encouraging me to “fall on the sword” to improve the perception and performance of the Recreation Commission. Today, that same Commissioner is nowhere to be found. In a seemingly choreographed effort, it has also been insinuated publicly that my decision to vote to remove the previous Director of the Newton County Recreation Commission was made based on race, which couldn’t be more opposite of the truth. In this game, however, I understand some people are hell bent on gaining complete control of this county, and for them, the truth doesn’t matter if it isn’t beneficial to their objective.
Here’s the truth. On the evening of the vote to remove the previous Director, I was not aware of the protections that were guaranteed by his classification as a “Civil Servant.” It was not until the next day that I began to understand, after I received a phone call from Mr. Danny Stone. Even then, I still had questions and it wasn’t until our meeting with the County Attorney and County HR Director on November 30 I understood Due Process may have been violated. There was never any malicious intent to terminate the former Director from his role with the Recreation Commission. It was a difficult decision that all five of the voting board members in attendance on the night of November 27 reached after hearing the information collected by the Newton County Recreation Commission’s investigative committee. When we took the vote that night, we acted in good faith, and believed we were making the best decision for Newton County. Regardless of the outcome of the vote I participated in, Newton County took that decision away from the Newton County Recreation Commission and immediately placed the former Director, a county employee, on paid administrative leave for a period of approximately 90 days after the Recreation Commission voted to terminate. At the end of the that period, the Newton County Board of Commissioners stated publicly in the Newton Citizen that the former director, a county employee, had been terminated, and the County agreed with the actions of the Newton County Recreation Commission. With this information, I question the “why” behind the attempts to have me resign or have me removed from my appointed position.
Mr. Chairman, I once again challenge the notion that you have the authority to remove me from my appointed position on the Newton County Recreation Commission. Even if you did have the authority, to do so would require proof that I acted maliciously, which I did not. I also question the timing of the attempt to remove me. It appears uncharacteristic of you, as though you acted in haste. If this decision was made with the objectives of complicating pending legal matters, placing Covington and Newton County at odds, and creating racial division then your mission has been accomplished.
After notifying you of my objections and concerns for how this entire situation has been handled, I hereby resign from my position on the Newton County Recreation Commission as the City of Covington’s appointee. I have simply grown tired of having to fight with the County to continue my role as a volunteer, while at the same time preparing to defend against a lawsuit, and meet my other commitments at work and home. I am grateful to the City of Covington for allowing me the honor of serving them on the Recreation Commission, and for their support throughout the last few months. I also appreciate the gratitude that has been privately expressed by so many in the community, including County and City Employees that work under the supervision of the Recreation Commission. It is my hope that through all of this strife, the Newton County Recreation Commission will be able to improve its services to the residents of Newton County, and once the dust settles, we can find a way to trust one another again. Our ability to work together regardless of race and political affiliations depends on it, as does the hope of a future for our sons and daughters where racial and partisan politics will have little influence in the decisions they make.

Councilman Joshua McKelvey
City of Covington – East Ward Post 3





Another Moment From Us

[State of GA]
[Newton Co.] 

(Covington, GA * 3/19/18) - 

Greetings, fabulous readers, and welcome back to The Piedmont Chronicles - Your Source for the REAL Story. 

As you've possibly seen here the last couple of weeks, TPC has gone through a few changes. The biggest of which is that we are now featuring local advertisers in addition to the embedded ads we've always done through Blogger/Google.

That was a pretty big decision for yours truly, and it was one that wasn't entered into lightly. I was apprehensive for a few reasons. First off, I didn't want to give an impression that I was "selling out" or anything of the like, and I think that most folks understand that I am definitely not. If I had to depend on TPC as a primary source of revenue, I'd sho nuff be in the poor house. No, basically I'm just looking to break even. If I can pay for some of these Open Records Requests I've been filing & also maybe cover some gas & expenses - that's all this quasi-esteemed editor is looking for. 

Another thing I was worried about was the site getting too cluttered. But I think the way I've been doing things - staggering advertising campaigns & not trying to do too much - is working out pretty good. At least, I sure hope so.

So far, the feedback from both Advertisers & Readers has been nothing short of phenomenal. So, there's that.  Also, thank YOU for that. And, if you would, please be sure to click on the text & pics of these featured, local advertisers, maybe spend a bit of money w/ them & let them know you read about it on The Chronicles. I sure would appreciate it (and always feel free to click on the monetized ads at the beginning & end of each post as well :-). Each time you do, I maybe get approx. a quarter. Or is it a dime, or a nickel? Nobody really seems to know...)

And since I'm basically soliciting - or,turning tricks, marketing-style, as it were -  these days, reach out if you may be interested in what several folks are agreeing is the most effective & inexpensive form of advertising in Covington & Newton Co. Slide us an email, or give us a ring: 678.712.8652

Also, the biggest change that's coming is occurring as we speak. Whereas TPC used to post about once per week, and here lately, more like maybe 3 or 4 times a week, moving forward we will basically be posting every day, and possibly multiple posts per day.

In addition:

  • A relaunch of the sister publication of TPC - Go You Silver Britches!, which will be cross-posted here in the space & will give you the 411 on all things UGA athletics. 
  • The launching of a TPC Sports Division to cover the sports activities of the Georgia Piedmont. 
  • Adding at least a new contributor or two to go along w/ old friend Ellis "Da" Millsaps. 
  • Some additional insights about Yours Truly, Da, and a few other folks. Think something along the lines of: The Real Story of the Real People of TPC
  • And a few more things... 
Exciting times, friends. Again, thank you so much. None of this is possible without you. Thank you.

Your Friend,

MB McCart 
"Your Pleasure is Our Pleasure & We Aim to Please"

19 March 2018

Local Business Spotlight: Travis Moore, Broker Associate with Hometown Realty Consultants, Inc.

Travis Moore has developed a well-earned reputation as one of the Georgia Piedmont's premier real estate agents. Specializing in residential, land & commercial, the secret of his success, to quote John D Rockefeller Jr., "is to do the common things uncommonly well," with an emphasis on hard work, superior customer service, honesty & fair dealing. 

Moore's license hangs with Hometown Realty Consultants, a local independent brokerage firm that is "small in size, but BIG on customer service." In fact, their 3 keys to success are: customer service, customer service & more customer service. And it helps that this firm is like a tightly knit family. "We're a team," Moore told this writer. "We all have each other's backs...if one of us needs a helping hand, another of us will be there for them. Many hands make light work." That sense of family, Travis tells us, has been instilled into the essence of Hometown Realty by its founders & owners, Kenneth & Darlene Smallwood. 

When interviewing Travis for this piece, a definite theme emerged. Like the previous quote about the secret of success, there is no substitute for handling the basic things in an efficient matter. Perhaps one of the biggest things is a simple one - "just answering the phone, and if you can't do that, then call somebody back" Often times, not returning calls is something that us real estate folks can sometimes get accused of. And it really is vital. As a 22-year real estate veteran I can truly say - staying on top of communications is key, but can be tough to do. It's sort of a multitasking juggling act, and Moore's ability to pull off that feat comes as no surprise to many who know him.

Not unlike your semi-esteemed editor, Mr. Moore is a man of many hats who has a knack for taking care of business even with multiple irons in the fire. In addition to his realty business, he handles some two dozen rental properties. He's also an Ice Man, as he's involved with several of the self-service ice machines you see around town, including the newest one at Hwy 11 & Hwy 142. A long-time EMT, Travis still does at least 3 or 4 shifts a month on the ambulance with Piedmont Healthcare. Also, Travis helps out his lovely wife Lindsey with her boutique fitness center, Moxie Fitness. 

Again, it's Moore's ability to handle multiple things and that impressive work ethic & his continuous quest to provide the best customer service possible that really sets him apart. And it's been paying of for this fella. 2017 was a banner year for him in real estate sales, his best one yet. Also, it was recently announced that Travis will eventually be taking over Hometown Realty as the Qualifying Broker. 

When interviewing Travis for this piece, I asked one final question:

"Why do you love real estate & real estate sales?" 

His answer was a great one: 

"First off, I just love helping people. I really do. And for most folks, the purchase of their home is the single biggest investment they'll ever make...it is the American Dream. To be able to help make that a reality...well, I love it! And I love the DEAL, too! Making it work, putting it all together, getting it over the finish line. It's great." 

And folks, I'm here to tell you - that's what you want out of a real estate agent. And one final thought: I've known Travis Moore for several years. He's as good a fella as you'll ever find. For those who know his family, and especially his Dad, you know that he comes by that hard work ethic & strong moral code honestly. He is, as we say here in the South, good people! 

Call Travis today for a free CMA and consult on your home, investment property or raw land.

Alright guys. Thanks so much for reading, we really appreciate it. Until we meet again. 


18 March 2018

The Sunday Edition: 3/18/18 - Glimpse into Mansfield's Past; Blog Laud, Keeping Kayleigh & Real Politick


| Covington, GA | Newton Co. |
Butts, Hancock, Jasper, Morgan, Putnam, Rockdale & Walton counties

Politics. Current Events. Local History. Sports. Music. Arts & Culture. Odds & Ends. Miscellany + What-not.

- Marshall "M.B." McCart - 
Editor-in-Chief, Community Troubleshooter & Public Advocate

"Your Pleasure is our Pleasure & we aim to Please"

A Glimpse into Mansfield's Past 
Contributed by multi-generational Newtonian, Mansfield Native & 4th Cousin, Larry Jackson 

There existed several years ago a horse track that was a part of Marben Farms, apparently owned by a Mr. O'Boyle, that Larry wrote about the other day. You can still see the outline of the track in this aerial map. 

A lot of folks may not know that there was a race horse training facility near Mansfield sometime around 1950 (plus/minus 5-10 years). As I recall they trained horses for some big named outfits in Kentucky (I'm not sure that I have my facts straight). I [do know] that there was a race horse training facility near what is now Charlie Elliot [off Hwy 11 just south of Mansfield]. In the attached google Earth pic you can still see the oval track around the Charlie Elliot firing range.
Larry went on to recount that he knew one of the jockeys who raced there back in the day.

Pretty cool stuff! And if I'm not mistaken, this general area was on most maps of Georgia in the late 19th & early 20th century as Leakton, and also Leakesville, that TPC has written about in the past. 

Blog Laud: A Page with a Powerful Message 

A wonderful lady that I admire immensely & who happens to be a great writer as well, Christina Henry, has finally started up her own blog - Waiting For The Other Shoe To Drop. 

This blog was inspired by the difficult & sorrowful recent developments that Christina & her daughter have been dealing with that Christina so bravely wrote about & made public a few days ago. Please take a moment to click on the previous link at read this. It's important that you do. 

Powerful stuff there, my friends. 

This is a vital & all-too-important endeavor, and what Ms. Henry is doing, in our estimation, is very brave & very much needed. Mental health is the metaphorical elephant in the living room of American society. It affects pretty much all of us, if not directly (and for most of us, it does), and is something that must be addressed. I have my theories as to why this is such an issue. First & foremost, I do believe that there is a general malaise & a dissonance within the national fiber, and this, along with several other things that we won't go into at this time, is a leading cause. Things are not as they should be, good readers, and there are those of us - the more tuned in; the esoteric bright lights, if you will; the true sentient, feeling beings - who totally get that and can feel that. Usually these people are very sensitive, in the true sense of the word, and oftentimes are very intelligent.

Real Politick 

I've been, for years, working on a working theory. I have a file on it (I have a lot of files on a lot of things). It's been said that the state of Ohio is the bellwether of the dynamics & direction of American politics, and the data seems to bear this out; however, in many ways I believe the same to be true of Newton Co.

As an aside, isn't it also interesting that in some ways it seems as if the road to the Governor's Mansion goes through Newton Co. Brian Kemp's Deputy SOS & right hand man is Covington's Tim Fleming. For years, politico & consultant Brad Alexander, a Covington native, has been integrally involved with Casey Cagle. And that's without getting into all the ties between the former (but maybe not quite) Newton Co. power structure & the former county attorney vis-a-vis Nathan Deal and the state power structure. And is it true that the current Georgia GOP Chair is involved with TPA, the JDA & Stanton Springs? It seems that way.


But specifically, here in the home county, there is something going on. Something different. And to that point, I'd like to share something I wrote in the book last week: 

Moreover, there seems to be an almost fundamental transformation of the political landscape of the home county occurring right before our very eyes. A strong contingency of black AND white folks - all throughout our beloved Newton - are equally excited about Steven Rhodes, a Democratic but semiconservative person of color running in the 2nd district, as they are of Spencer Arnhart - a Republican but semi-progressive caucasian running in the 4th. I think it’s wonderful.

Interesting times, no doubt, dear readers. As always, we appreciate you stopping by. Happy Trails. 


14 March 2018

The Facebook Data Center at Stanton Springs & the $42 Billion "Phantom Bonds"

The Piedmont Chronicles 

As has been reported by several publications, Facebook is coming to the Georgia Piedmont. Specifically, a data center that is to be located at Stanton Springs. The Governor announced it last week, and it's been quite the thing.

The attention of this publication was more focused of the bond issuance, made between the Joint Development Authority of Jasper, Morgan, Newton and Walton & Morning Hornet LLC (Facebook), of an amount not to exceed to exceed $42 billion.

$42 Billion. Let that sink in for a second. As a point of comparison, may I offer up three things: 

  • The most expensive  building ever constructed on Earth is the Abraj Al Bait building in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. In today's dollars, this building cost approx. $15 billion.
  • The largest bond offering in the history of Earth was Verizon's in 2013 which was a total of $49 billion. Nothing else comes within $30 billion, and there are no municipal or authority bonds anywhere close to that.
  • The bond issuing for the Baxter Baxalta Shire behemoth was $1.137 billion. 

But remember, friends, we're talking "phantom bonds" here. They call them that because no money actually changes hands since the company is the one actually buying the bonds. Got it? 

But, we also see that the first phase will be approx $750 million, and then three more possible phases that would each be around a half-billion dollars. But those are not guaranteed by Morning Hornet, the company that actually entered into the agreement. So, if all four phases are done, we're talking about maybe $2.5 billion. 

And don't forget about the PILOT payments - that's "payments in lieu of taxes" - that Facebook will be paying the JDA. Those are supposed to start up in 2024 and that first year will see a $2 million payment. 

$2 million vs $2.5 billion vs. $42 billion. 

More to come...

Check out 5 O'Clock's Killer Menu
As always, thanks for reading. 


12 March 2018

Update on the Indian Creek Middle School Situation

The Piedmont Chronicles 
- est 2010 -

As this publication, the only to do so, reported a few days back, there was a planned walkout & protest at Indian Creek Middle School on Wednesday February 28th. There were several questions & concerns throughout the community, and particularly the parents of students at ICMS, about what had transpired & additional questions about the administration's handling of the situation. Later, at least a couple of elected officials got involved to try to get to the bottom of things. 

No automatic alt text available.
Another Great Round of Lunch Specials at Five O'Clock Bar & Grill! Great Food at a Great Price. They do to-go orders as well.
Call Them Today: 770.385.3060

Last week the Principal of ICMS, Swade Huff, sent out a letter to the parents of the students of ICMS. See below: 

The letter does acknowledge that "two incidents" did occur. No word if either incident was the twerking contest or the multiple fights that purportedly occurred.

Regardless, it seems as if at least something was done to try to remedy the situation even if multiple parents are still up upset about the occurrence. Undoubtedly, it seems as if things were likely mishandled.

Okay for now, friends. Until next time.

- MBM 
Your Source for the REAL Story
The Piedmont Chronicles

10 March 2018

Newborn Old School Music Show Tonight Featuring Benson & Leinweber, Bopp & Mote

Fun Times in Sandtown; Big time show lined up down at the Newborn Schoolhouse tonight...

TONIGHT! MARCH 10TH. Newborn School House 

It's another installment of Dennis Fincher's "Old School Music Show" down in lovely Newborn, GA. With the wonderful ambiance that only the Historic Newborn School House can provide, this is always a great show especially considering the caliber of acts that are line up for this one. 

TPC fave, Benson, Leinweber & Gewin, are the headliner of tonight's show. As I've written about multiple times in another publication, the "Flatpickin' Professor," David Leinweber, is easily one of the most talented musicians in the home county. I'm also a big fan of Dave Benson's & we're hearing nothing but good things about new player Gewin. 

Image result for david leinweber and dave benson
Benson & Leinweber
Contemporary folk artists Benson and Leinweber have been wowing crowds wherever they have played.
They are the duo made up of Dave Benson and David Leinweber, two outstanding guitarists, songwriters, and performers. Veterans of the blues, rock and folk scenes, the two form a powerhouse duo featuring excellent harmonies, skillful guitar-interplay and well-selected songs – not to mention lots of fun and energy.

Also on tap tonight is another of our favorites, mandolin wiz Lanier Mote playing with the super talented & lovely Dona Bopp. 

Bopp & Mote 
Dona Bopp and Lanier Mote have been singing together since 2012. It is their Louvin Brothers style harmony that brought them together as a duo. Although they are both bluegrass enthusiasts, their music is also influenced by classic country and music from the rock and roll era. Both Dona and Lanier are members of the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame. In 2017, Dona received Female Vocalist of the Year by the Atlanta Society of Entertainers.

Danny & Pete are also on tap tonight, and look for Dennis to blow some of that amazing harmonica/blues harp as well as an introductory picker's circle, open mic & a few surprise guests. Brenda's Kitchen opens at 5:30PM.

Folks, the Old School Music Show is the heir to The Newborn Opry & The Dixie Jubilee. Please support this integral part of Newton County's music heritage. Contact the FB page of the Show or reach out to this publication to find out ways to help this all-too-important endeavor. 
Thanks so much,


09 March 2018

Friday Surprise: Local Newton GOP Candidate Qualifies for BOC4


[State of GA]
[Newton Co.]

(Covington, GA | 3/9/18) -
A monumental moment at Storett of Covington 

This morning, Friday March 9, Spencer Arnhart, local carpenter and fix-it man, qualified for the GOP primary for the 4th district of the Newton Co. Board of Commissioners. It is TPC's understanding that this would be the first time in a long time that Newton Co. has seen a contested race for the 4th district & its incumbent - JC Henderson. 
All of this in & of itself is pretty exciting, in this writer's estimation, but here's what really caught our attention, from a local politico: 
Ole pal & friend-of-the-program AB chatting w/ NCRP Chair Scott Jay

"Obviously based on the demographics you'd need for the stars to align and for an almost perfect campaign to be executed for this thing to become a reality. But w/ the current dynamics & w/ this unique and superb candidate (Spencer Arnhart) - who's got ancestors buried in the old cemetery here (Covington) but who is a Chicago guy w/ 15 years on the west coast who hates business as usual & is already widely known throughout the community as a guy that can fix things, he's got a chance to win the [contest]..." 
Scott Jay, NCRP Chair, greeting soon-to-be qualified candidate Arnhart

In the words of Widespread Panic, "makes sense to me..."

This is one to keep an eye on folks. 

Here's the press release:

Spencer Arnhart qualified Friday as a Republican candidate for the District 4 Commission race.  He is a small business owner of a local construction company. Arnhart has volunteered with various non-profit organizations to help low-income families with improvements to make their homes more energy-efficient. Along with his charitable activities, he has also played the part of “McGruff the Crime Dog” at educational events for children.  In his free time Arnhart enjoys playing video games, spending time with family, and is an avid sports fan.
“Newton County is such an unbelievable place to live and work,” Arnhart said.  “My goal as District 4 Commissioner will be to represent everyone in this wonderful district.  Every neighborhood is vital to our community’s wellbeing. But, the 4th District is much larger than most people realize.  And, with such a big, diverse area, we cannot afford narrow representation focused just on a few areas.  I believe we are strongest when all neighborhoods work together for the good of Newton County.”

”We can no longer allow what divides us to define us,” he added.  “The citizens deserve a commissioner who is available to hear their thoughts and ideas.  I commit to all residents that I will be accessible to them. Citizens can be assured that they will be able to reach me with their concerns via phone, email, and social media.”
Asked what prompted him to run, Arnhart said “I’m not the type of person who talks a lot.  I listen. And, what I’ve heard repeatedly is people feel there has been mismanagement of the county by some elected officials.  People are tired of politicians making decisions to line their own pockets or benefit their friends.” [emphasis added*TPC]
Issues Arnhart finds most pressing are legal fees, solid waste management, and public safety.  “One of my top priorities as the people’s voice is to address our still out-of-control legal fees,” he said.  I’ve looked at spending on legal fees in other counties, and Newton County is the highest per capita. We must get legal fees under control.  My goal is to cut spending on legal services and expand services for seniors.”
On solid waste, Arnhart said “We must address our needs now.  This has been another issue that keeps us from providing better services to our citizens.  We must move forward with technology to turn our trash into a profit center for the community.  We must also recognize that our landfill is an unfair burden on neighbors who live around the facility.  These residents need assurance their voices are heard and understood. We must make changes to more fairly respect these citizens who have lived with this unpleasant situation for far too long.”
As to public safety Arnhart said, “We must do whatever it takes to ensure our citizens are protected.  We have to support our public safety officers and not spread them too thin. Reports of long wait times for response to crimes is unacceptable.  I commit to working with our sheriff to make a plan on how we can achieve our goals together for the citizens.”
By qualifying, Arnhart becomes a candidate for the May 22 Republican Primary.  If successful then, he will face a Democratic opponent in the November 6 General Election – mostly likely Commissioner J.C. Henderson, who has held the seat for over 20 years.

Arnhart filling out his qualification paperwork

Local Advertiser - Five O'Clock: the Cheers of Covington

As always, thanks for reading, guys. We'll see you next time from...
Your Source for the REAL Story