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Council meeting to begin earlier
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The Covington City Council will now hold their meetings an hour earlier at 6:30 p.m. after a majority of council members approved the time change at their meeting on Monday.

The council voted 4-2 to approve the time change. Councilman John Howard and Councilwoman Janet Goodman voted in opposition.

The new meeting time will go into effect on Aug. 18. The Covington City Council meets on the first and third Mondays of every month at the Covington City Hall, located on Usher Street.

The change was proposed by Mayor Kim Carter, who said that an earlier meeting time would benefit city employees who have to stay late for council meetings as well as council members who are already coming from a long workday.

In other council news:

The council approved an intergovernmental agreement with the Newton County Board of Commissioners for a shared fire and emergency services training facility.

• The city and county will have joint ownership of the facility with each possessing a 50 percent ownership interest.

• The facility will include a burn building, draft pit, teaching shed, classroom and office complex, driving course and a water main and hydrants.

• The city and county will share all future operational costs. The parties' respective share of operational costs will be calculated based on the number of full-time paid county and city employees who use the facility.

• Initially the costs will be apportioned based on 80 county employees and 55 city employees.

At the request of Newton Medical Center, the council approved a right-of-way encroachment on Hospital Drive as part of the hospital's efforts to expand its emergency room.

• At the council's request, an indemnification letter will be prepared, placing the responsibility on the hospital in any third-party claims.

• NMC plans to expand its ER by moving the hospital laboratory to the third floor and expanding the ER into the vacated space.