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Posted: March 6, 2009 12:30 a.m.

BOC will not help fund July fireworks

Covington council asked to share half of event's cost

Newton County will not provide funding for the Covington July 4th Fireworks Extravaganza. On Tuesday the Board of Commissioners voted not to fund their $3,790 portion of the annual display in a 3-2 decision, with Commissioners Earnest Simmons and J.C. Henderson voting to fund the display.

Henderson said the fireworks display was an important community event that should be funded.

"I personally thought it was good, because it brought a lot of people together," Henderson said Wednesday. "Even though we have budget constraints, it wasn't that much money to make any type of difference in our general fund, and by saying that, I mean the camaraderie it would bring; I thought the money would pay good dividends."

Fleming said the $3,790 was a lot of money for the county right now.

"Times are tough for everybody," he said Thursday. "Our citizens and constituents have to cut back at home; they expect the same thing out of their local government ... if we can do without (anything) right now, let's do without."

The city has not decided if it will fund its $3,790 portion of the event, Covington Administrative Assistant Audra Gutierrez said. If the county had funded their portion, the city would have followed suit, but now the matter will either be dropped by the city or brought up at the next council meeting, she said.

Henderson and the county were hoping the display could be funded by private businesses.

"If anyone wants to devote money to (the fireworks display), make the money payable to the Newton County Board of Commissioners," Henderson said.

In other BOC news:

• After years of planning and recent delays, construction is expected to begin on the District 4 Community Center next week. Wednesday the Newton County Board of Commissioners voted to approve $11,000 in extra expenses as the project neared construction.

District 3 Commissioner Nancy Schultz expressed concern about future changes coming up, but District 4 Commissioner J.C. Henderson said this should be the last change order for the project. He asked the commissioners to approve the changes because he and his constituents have been waiting for the center for so long.

Originally approved as a $500,000 Special Option Local Sales Tax project in 2005, the center has undergone numerous site plan changes to meet city and county regulations. Henderson called the complicated process "one of the hardest things I've been through in my life."

The project must be finished within 180 days from the starting date of construction.

• Residents in District 4 on Airport Road and Danielle Drive need water service. Commissioner J.C. Henderson asked the City of Oxford to extend water service to the residents, and the city built the portion of the water line up to Danielle Drive. The Board of Commissioners voted to split the rest of the costs to extend the line to Airport Road. The $10,060 will come out of a special water fund, not the general fund. The water fund is made up of fees collected from the county's sale of water to surrounding counties and other entities.

• Frank's Restaurant, Inc., which does catering for the Newton County Detention Center, is charging the county five cents less per plate at the jail to save the county money. Beginning in February, Frank's changed it prices from $1.75 to $1.70 per plate, said Michael Castellana, Newton County Sheriff's Office Food Services Manager.

"Newton County is having a budget crisis," Castellana said. "Everybody is trying to cut back. We're giving a nickel back on a plate per prisoner to try to do our part. We're just trying to help like everybody else."

• The BOC will apply for Community Services Block Grant funds for Federal Fiscal Year 2009. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services these funds allow states and local governments to "provide supportive services and activities to assist low-income individuals and families to become self-sufficient."


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