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Newton County Agriculture Center approved
An arial view of the proposed site of the Newton County Agricultural Center shows a buffer of trees stand between the center and the neighboring homes. Photo by Todd Teasley.

Newton County will get its Agriculture Center, located at the FFA/FCCLA Camp, after a unanimous vote by the board of commissioners (BOC) Tuesday evening.

The motion, read by Chair Keith Ellis, made by District 4 Commissioner J.C. Henderson and seconded District 5 Commissioner Levie Maddox, resolved months of public discussion and 11 years of support by former commissioner Mort Ewing.

Ewing was one of more than 100 people at the Newton County Historic Courthouse in support of the new agriculture center. Those people made their joy known, breaking into loud applause after every commissioner but the absent District 1 representative John Douglas raised their hand in support of the motion. The county will enter into a partnership with the Georgia FFA/FCCLA Center to build, manage and operate the Newton County Agriculture Center.

“I think this is one of the best days in Newton County,” Ellis said. “We need some good news in Newton County.”

The new center, located at 720 FFA/FHA Camp Road off of Highway 36, will cost $3,350,000. Newton County will contribute $1,100,000, the state of Georgia $2,000,000, and One Georgia $250,000 [].

The $1.1 million in county funds will be provided from 2011 special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) money that was voted on and approved by Newton County residents.

Todd Teasley, FFA/FCCLA Center Director, said that the camp will be responsible for all the maintenance and operations costs, which will also maintain the new agriculture center’s buildings and barn.

The center will include a covered outdoor pavilion, a climate controlled area to show small animals such as pigs, sheep and goats, stalls for all the animals, restroom and concession areas, and office space and classrooms.

“I feel like this is going to be a great project for us,” Teasley told the board. “We’re going to attract youth livestock shows and youth horse shows and agriculture events.”

The vote to approve the new agriculture center came a week after hundreds attended a town hall meeting at the FFA/FCCLA Center to hear about the proposed project []. The meeting had been called for by commissioners who heard from citizens concerned that the center would be located too far from downtown Covington and would impede on their private homes.

To resolve some of those questions, Teasley said, the new agriculture center will be placed in an area that will be pleasing to the eye of those passing by on Highway 36 and the parking for trailers will be hidden from view. Also landscaping and trees would create a natural buffer between the center and neighboring homes.

“We want to keep the aesthetics; the community wants to keep the aesthetics,” Teasley said.