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County hires firm to renovate, restore R.L. Cousins gym
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The Newton County Board of Commissioners approved an architectural agreement with Richard Wittschiebe Hand for the rehabilitation and renovation of the old R.L. Cousins High School gymnasium at their Tuesday night meeting.

The total budget for the renovation project is $750,000. RWH will provide architectural and interior design services for the renovation. For its services RWH will be paid $108,500.

Funding for the renovation comes from a $500,000 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax Allocation and a $250,000 Atlanta Falcons Youth Foundation grant.

The Newton County Recreation Department will share use of the gym with Project Adventure, a local nonprofit that houses and educates at risk youth, once renovations to the gym are complete

"This is a very unique architectural design," said Newton County Executive Officer John Middleton before the board approved the agreement. "It's a real historical treasure that has value to this community."

In other BOC news, the board approved the adoption of Gov. Sonny Perdue's newly revised water restrictions which allow a limited amount of hand watering and the refilling of public and private swimming pools.

Newton County residents are allowed to hand water their lawns for 25 minutes per day on an odd-even schedule between midnight and 10 a.m. Odd numbered addresses can water on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. Even numbered addresses can water on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday.

Hand watering is defined as one person with one garden hose with a spray nozzle that shuts off when it is released.

The board also approved the adoption of the county's 2008 Comprehensive Plan and updated Future Land Use Map. The FLUM is used as a guide in rezoning and capital investment decisions.

The map includes a hierarchy of town centers including new ones, Stanton Springs and Mount Pleasant, as well as village centers such as Oak Hill, Salem and Almon.

 A conditional use permit to operate a karate school in District 5 was approved by the board. The karate school will be operated out of a home on Social Circle Road on three acres of land. There will be 30 minute intervals between classes to allow for incoming and outgoing traffic on the property.