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Posted: March 15, 2011 5:31 a.m.

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2011 SPLOST: parks and judicial center

The 2011 SPLOST would provide the recreation department with $1 million to repair and upgrade various parks. The board of the Newton County Recreation Commission recently approved a list of proposed repairs:

Stone Road Complex, 50 Stone Road, Oxford (14.5 acres, built in 1989)
- Fencing/Dugouts, $150,000
- Upgrade Restrooms/Concessions, $75,000
- Irrigation, $15,000

City Pond Complex, 12209 Williams St., Covington (80 acres, built in 1978)
- Fencing, $200,000
- Rebuild Football/Concession Restrooms, $165,000
- T-League Concession Restrooms, $50,000

Turner Lake Complex, 6185 Turner Lake Road, Covington (158 acres, built in 1998)
- New HVAC Controls, $45,000
- Replace Fencing on Softball Fields, $145,000

Louise Fowler Park, 11575 Covington ByPass Road, Covington (1 acre, built in 1996)
- Restripe Basketball/Tennis Courts, $20,000

Beaver Park, Ga. Highway 213, Mansfield (built in 1996)
- Metal Pavilion, $50,000
- Resurface Tennis Courts, $10,000

Architect Fees/Contingency - $75,000

$7 million expansion to judicial center
The SPLOST is also devoting $7 million to the expansion of the Newton County Judicial Center, which the county's court system and many of its public records.

The judicial center was built in 1998 and was designed to last for 15 years until 2013. Chairman Kathy Morgan said the county's population growth outpaced projections and the building is already at capacity, meaning there is not enough office space nor enough room for keeping records.

Because no projects are being bonded, a judicial center expansion would not start until enough has money been collected in SPLOST, around 5 years from now.

"We will continue to manage in the space provided. We do believe they can continue to function albeit tightly until year six, we do not think they can manage beyond that timeframe," Morgan said in an e-mail.

According to the county's 2011 SPLOST fact sheet, state law requires judges, attorney and other officials to be housed in a building with special safety requirements that prevent harm from members of the public. The judicial center houses the Newton County Superior Court, District Attorneys, Juvenile Court, Probate Court and Magistrate Court.

Morgan said the size of the expansion has not been finalized, but she expected an expansion to add about 40-50 percent more space than currently exists.

According to the Newton County Tax Assessor's Web site, the size of the three-story judicial center is nearly 24,000 square feet.

In addition to a judicial center expansion, the SPLOST would provide $500,000 to move juvenile court to a separate facility to allow it more affectively run its six base programs, including drug court, truancy court and the education, life skills and abstinence-based REACH (Redirect and Educate youth on Abstinence, Choice and Healthy education) program.

Morgan said the programs are currently run out of several leased facilities throughout the county. She said a single location would allow for more cost effective management of the programs.

The most discussed location for a move is the former R.L. Cousins High School complex located on Geiger Street in Covington. The county would lease out the space. The $500,000 would pay for renovations to the space (estimated at about $270,000), technological upgrades and other associated work.

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