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Posted: October 2, 2012 8:38 p.m.

City to spend $36,000 on grave roster

Covington will soon have a program to allow people to locate where people are buried in the city's cemeteries.

At its Monday meeting, the council unanimously approved spending $36,000 to allow Omega Mapping Services of Woodbury to collect roster information for city cemeteries.

The purpose of collecting the information is to make sure that all unmarked burials at the city's cemeteries are noted for future reference.

Len Stoizer and Brad Jeffers with Omega Mapping Services told the council that the company would scan the cemeteries for unmarked burials with GPS, GIS and surveying technology.

According to a proposal from Omega Mapping Services, data would be located and stored on the Georgia State Plane Coordinate System. Pictures will also be taken of each burial and stored. The collected information would be placed on a web page designed for each cemetery in the city. The webpage will then be linked to the city's website.

City manager Steve Horton said the city receives calls on a regular basis asking for information regarding the city's cemeteries.

"People constantly call asking questions about the cemetery and the record keeping," Horton said. "A lot of places have already taken on work to put these things online so that people can just check," he said. "The more things that are online means not only less work on the staff, but also will allow more accessibility to the public in general."

Horton also said the city will have to amend their cemetery and parks budget to go forward with the service. The council agreed to amend the budget by $36,000 for the project.

In other business the council unanimously approved the final reading of an ordinance that will control the operation of taxicabs in the city. According to the new approved ordinance, taxicab operators in Covington will have to have a valid taxicab permit from the Covington Police Department in order to operate. The permit will be valid for 12 months from the date of issuance. Taxicab operators will also be require to have liability insurance for each taxicab in the amount of $100,000 bodily injury for one person and $300,000 for injuries to more than one person. The ordinance also requires taxicabs to have markings on the front doors of the vehicle and identification lights on the top of the vehicle to identify that they are a taxicab service and numbers assigned to each taxicab and taximeters. A copy of the new ordinance can be found at city hall. The ordinance will go into effect in January 2013.

The council voted 3 to 3 on approving the final reading of an ordinance to prohibit panhandling in the city. Because the council was split, Mayor Ronnie Johnston had to vote and he decided to approve the ordinance. Council members Chris Smith, Keith Dalton and Michael Whatley voted to approve the amendment as they did at the Sept. 17 council meeting. Council members Janet Goodman, Hawnethia Williams and Ocie Franklin again voted against the ordinance. The panhandling ordinance prohibits people from soliciting in public places in the city.

Council members unanimously approved the final reading of an ordinance that would make it a violation for any person in the city to have plants and shrubberies planted near streets to obstruct vision of drivers of vehicles. According to the ordinance, if the Covington Police Department finds that any tree, shrubbery or other object is planted or fixed upon any public or private property that obstructs the vision of someone driving a vehicle, the person responsible for the shrubbery will be given a written notice requiring them to move the object. The city adopted and enacted the approved amendment to the ordinance on Oct. 1.

The council also voted unanimously to establish a speed limit of 20 mph at Highland Drive and in the Inglewood subdivision.

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