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The News hosts forum with a look at our future

The decisions made by Newton County voters during the primary election, May 24 and general election, Nov. 8 will affect residents for decades to come, not just the next election cycle.

Some of the biggest issues in Newton County throughout the last year have their roots in the past: problems with the county’s landfill; the high cost of a reservoir project; zoning issues; and form of government questions. The landfill was being lined improperly long before the current board of commissioners took office; decisions to begin the Bear Creek Water Supply Reservoir project and to continue funding span two decades; the county’s zoning needs when it was one of the fastest growing counties in the nation in 2004 brought to light many issues that we still face; and our form of government was altered in 2011 and formally addressed in this past state legislative session.

These problems are indicators that everyone in our county needs to be involved in the local election of our board of commissioners, probate judge, sheriff, coroner, clerk of court, school board members, tax commissioner and all other decision-making positions.

That’s exactly what The Covington News’ election forum, in partnership with Georgia State University’s Newton campus and the Newton County School System, seeks to address.

The forum, to be held on Sunday, April 24 from 2-4 p.m. at the Newton County Historic Courthouse, will be hosted and moderated by students from GSU – Newton campus and from high schools in the NCSS.

“One of the benefits I see of involving the next generation is that their perspective is so different,” said Hosanna Fletcher, General Manager of The Covington News. “What some might see as issues we are currently struggling with, others might see as leadership opportunities.”

Candidate questions posed at the forum will be generated from research done by students. Questions from the general public can also be submitted for consideration using the online submission form at the Election 2016 webpage at

Some of the questions coming in from students already are: “How can we use the recent influx of businesses into the county to fuel our economy?” and “How do you think the county should control big businesses coming into the county while also protecting our small businesses?” and “What should be done to reduce the fact that 1 in 5 people in Newton County are living in poverty?”

The topics will range the entire spectrum of what is facing Newton County from leadership and commerce to solid waste, public safety and taxes. Topics will also address what may face Newton County 5, 10, or even 20 years from now.

“I think it will be a great opportunity to answer fresh questions from a fresh perspective, enabling our leaders to see a wider, deeper vision for the county’s future,” Fletcher said.

All local candidates have been invited and most have accepted The News’ invitation.

The forum will be one of the final chances for candidates to share their visions prior to the start of early voting on Monday, May 2.