Take the scenic 12-mile drive east out Georgia Highway 142 from Covington past the rolling hills and lush farmland of eastern Newton County and you’ll find yourself in Newborn, a town of 720 where, according to the mayor, 20 percent of the residents still raise sheep, pigs and chickens within the town’s limits.
And Mayor Gregg Ellwanger is fine with that.
“I want Newborn to remain a small town,” he said. “I have no desire for it to develop beyond small businesses, community businesses. I want the folks that live in Newborn to feel like it is a comfortable community where we maintain our agricultural heritage.
The mayor said the city famous for its Historic Schoolhouse and Hornyhead Fish Festival will also soon have trains running through it again.
“We have a railroad that runs through town and it’s coming back through CaterParrot,“ he said. “So there are some things that may grow beyond that after they get their engines. Three streets that were paved over now have tracks. That will make us somewhat unique because I don’t think there’s any other town in Newton County that an active rail comes through.”
Ellwanger said he and the town’s government consider themselves stewards of the town.
“I think we as a community government are stewards of things like the old schoolhouse. The majority of our SPLOST money goes for parks, for walkways, sidewalks, the schoolhouse,” he said, “We’ve still got some more work to do there. My thoughts down the road are I’d like to see an open air pavilion out in front of it for open air concerts and things like that.”
Ellwanger said he is also trying to expand the town’s downtown park.
“I’m trying to add another acre to it if we can acquire that property. That little park gets used a lot. That’s what small towns are all about,” he said, “That’s why people live in small towns.”
The town is also looking to add a sidewalk out County Road 213 to connect it with its neighbor, Mansfield, 3 miles away.
“I’m working on getting sidewalk connectivity between where our sidewalk stops, taking it out of town, all the way to the grocery store being built now (Blackwell’s Grocery),” he said.
Ellwanger understands the pressure his city will be under as the eastern end of the county continues to grow.
“We’ve been a little bit sheltered on the east side of Atlanta, but it’s coming with Stanton Springs,” he said. “In Newton County, we’re the closest town to Stanton Springs as the crow flies, we’re probably 6 or 7 miles from that development. Now you’ve got Facebook coming in. The spotlight’s going to be shining on this county.
“Mansfield and Newborn are going to be under some tremendous growth pressures. And it’s not coming, it’s already here. And one of the things as mayor that I want to see is that our town remains a small community that continues to keep its heritage. Growth is great if it’s used the right way. Fifty years from now I want this area to still be relatively rural. And it can be.”