02 September 2019

An Interview with the Mayor

 By MB McCart, Editor

Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with the Mayor of Covington, Ronnie Johnston, in a wide-ranging interview in which we discussed several different topics & issues. As y'all know, I'm all about keeping it REAL & felt as if I did so with this discussion. I'm just going to type out my notes in kind of a stream-of-consciousness style. Enjoy. 

Mayor Ronnie Johnston

Independent Testing of Ethylene Oxide (EtO) 

- discussed the legion field meeting

- contact w/ state EPD & federal EPA

- "...we decided we were NOT going to wait on anybody or trust anybody else with this...looking for the most independent testing as timely as possible...

- 2 proposals were entertained for the independent testing. City ended up going w/ Montrose as the company to perform this independent testing.

- the independent testing canisters will total 10 w/ 4 right next to Bard.

- Johnston said the city was glad they got proactive & acted quick as now there is a shortage for these testing canisters as both the EPD & EPA are waiting to get these on back order. Montrose, fortunately, already had plenty on hand.

- the testing will be over a 7-day period w/ 42 samples collected.

- Johnston also said (and provided documentation) that the testing method utilized by Montrose is much better technology.

- looking at 6 to 8 week time frame for the gathering & collection of samples & then the subsequent testing.

- "very proud of the council & staff.

- Total Price Tag? Approx $66K

What about the past? 80s, 90s etc?

- "All I can say is if you believe you have a concern about this, or a claim, talk to a lawyer & go get 'em."

Town Center 

- the road has been done from the back side on City Pond Rd. Can actually drive in from that side.

- 2 firm commitments from two hotels.

- the CEO of a 'Major Grocery Chain' flew into Covington a few weeks ago & things are looking promising.

What about the chirping & noise in the system about how the city got hosed on this thing?

- the apartments had to buy the land to the tune of $200K / acre. The developer has spent approx $14 million to date so far ( a lot of granite & rock on that site) per Johnston.

3 Ring 

- "Quite the ride...lots of ups & downs..."

Is it dead in the water?

- an emphatic NO.

But that Stop-Work Order, though?

- improper erosion controls, etc. According to the mayor, that is about to be remedied. "Steel is already on site; large portion of site already graded."

The Liens?

- "yeah...two of 'em apparently. Both have been paid & released."

So What's the Problem?

- "...this developer had major experience with hotels & shopping centers but...maybe not so much with a movie studio...but then again, hardly anyone does...I think he may have overestimated his ability to get capital for such a unique project..."

Any comments about one of his opponents?

"I like Steve [Horton], think a lot of 'em...he was city manager my first two years in office. I think have different visions for Covington." 


I'm supposed to be interviewing Minister Eric Threets this week, so be on the lookout for that soon.

Former city manager Steve Horton declined my request for an interview.

Alright, friends, until next time.

- MB McCart