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Marshall earmarks $100,000 for local homeless shelter
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Mayor Sam Ramsey announced Rep. Jim Marshall (D-Macon) had phoned him Friday morning to tell him he had successfully earmarked $100,000 for the planned homeless shelter on Turner Lake Circle.

"Basically, it will end up at the city of Covington to give to the housing authority for the consolidated FaithWorks headquarters, Community Food Pantry headquarters and homeless shelter at Turner Lake," Ramsey said.

The $100,000 allocation is part of a federal spending bill expected to be signed by President George Bush soon.

Marshall recently announced $500,000 in earmarked funding dedicated to Covington for the creation of walking trails and a parking lot for the planned Hilton Double Tree hotel/civic center.

Ramsey expressed his appreciation for Marshall's efforts on behalf of district 8 in the U.S. House of Representatives.

"I want to thank Congressman Jim Marshall for his diligence in getting Covington this funding," Ramsey said. "He certainly has been a friend of Covington, and we certainly appreciate his personal efforts to not only see this project is funded but also that the Rails to Trails project is funded."

Ramsey added the Center for Community Planning and Preservation in Covington was responsible for the funding request, and, therefore, will likely receive approximately $8,000.

"This is an example of the work that the Center has done that has been a real help to Covington and Newton County," Ramsey said.

FaithWorks Executive Director Dennis Cheek was overwhelmed at the news of the financial assistance and thankful to Ramsey and Marshall.

 "I think this speaks to their commitment to serve the folks that sometimes we turn our heads from and neglect," Cheek said, "so we've got a dedicated group of churches volunteers and elected officials that are committed to serving the underserved.

"We are all very grateful for the support the community has given us."

FaithWorks provides financial assistance to families who cannot afford their utility bills.

Cheek said more counseling space is desperately needed for his volunteers.

 Although the specifics of what the funding will be able to be used for was not clear as of publication deadline, Ramsey said the money will likely be allocated for exterior renovations.

"I can assure you it will be used directly to serve the needs of the people," Cheek said.

The Rev. Billy Wade, pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Covington, said the building needs new doors and the Food Pantry side would benefit from the installation of a sidewalk and interior shelving. He said the Housing Authority has assumed responsibility for roof and window repairs.

"Any money coming our way, we are excited about," Wade said.

According to Wade, Ed Hutter of Hutter and Associates has already begun work on the Food Pantry and FaithWorks side of the building.

"Ed is really very cooperative and has given a lot of his time and energy, and probably resources too," Wade said, "but that can't cover all that we need doing."

Wade added he is confident the funding needs will be met in one way or another and is hopeful the 2008 capital campaign at First Presbyterian will generate a large amount of supporting funds.

He said FaithWorks and Food Pantry offices expect to be completely relocated in late February or early March.

Ramsey said he worked to see the three agencies would be properly funded before he left the mayor position, which he has held for 10 years.

"That's a really good way to end my administration," he said.