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Posted: November 19, 2013 9:00 p.m.

City approves maintenance of square

The city of Covington is taking over maintenance of the square, but not much is expected to change.

The Covington City Council has approved an agreement between the city and county, which had been approved last week by the Newton County Board of Commissioners.

Deputy City Manager Billy Bouchillon said the city already was cutting the grass, cleaning up leaves and picking up litter on the square, using a combination of community service crews and city workers. The city now has the authority to do any landscaping it sees fit; any major improvements can be done by the city, but the county must first sign off.

Asked if anything would be different, Bouchillon said he’d like to see the soil aerated more frequently, which is beneficial to the trees and grass and helps to offset some of the soil compaction that occurs during the square’s many events. He also said the city might replace some of the grass that has died on the square.

The agreement specifies that the city will handle and pay for landscaping, seasonal planting, trash removal and other maintenance of the square.

County Commissioner Levie Maddox said previously he appreciated the city taking the lead on maintaining the downtown area, noting the role the square can play in attracting businesses to the area.

The agreement will terminate June 30, 2014, at the end of the county’s fiscal year, and serve as a trial run, county attorney Jenny Carter said previously.

City to appoint new rec board member

Mayor Ronnie Johnston said Hugh Burnett has decided to step down from the Newton County Recreation Commission board. Johnston said the appointment is the mayor’s to make, but he said he would take recommendations from the council.

City council calendar

The City Council also voted to approve a new calendar with fewer council meetings to avoid having to reschedule meetings during holidays.

The new calendar calls for only one meeting during January, September and December. The meetings will be Jan. 6, Sept. 15 and Dec. 15. Councilwoman Janet Goodman made the motion and said she didn’t think the council needed to have two meetings during those months. She said the council won’t really have fewer meetings because members have frequent work sessions on different topics.

The council voted 4-1 to approve the new calendar, with Councilman Chris Smith opposing the motion. Smith tried to amend the motion before the vote to only have one meeting during January and September. His amended motion did not receive a second. Some city staff had expressed concern about only having one meeting during December because alcohol licenses are frequently approved during that month for the next calendar year.

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