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Board to consider asking legislators to create Newton judicial circuit
Also considering sharing responsibility for guaranteeing bonds for new business park with water and sewer agency
Newton County Historic Courthouse
Newton County Historic Courthouse - Mason Wittner | The Covington News

COVINGTON, Ga. — County commissioners were scheduled Tuesday night to consider asking state legislators for a bill to create a Newton-only judicial circuit.

Newton County Board of Commissioners at its scheduled 7 p.m. meeting was set to discuss or consider a resolution seeking legislators’ support for splitting up the two-county Alcovy Judicial Circuit to establish a judicial circuit containing only Newton County.

The Alcovy Judicial Circuit includes Newton and Walton counties. 

The same five Superior Court judges hear criminal and civil cases in both counties. District Attorney Randy McGinley’s office handles the prosecution of all cases in the Superior Courts of both counties, including all misdemeanors and felonies because neither county has a State Court.

Superior Court judges and the DA also must win a majority of the total votes cast in both counties to earn election.

County Chairman Marcello Banes said he had heard requests for creating a Newton-only circuit “throughout the community.”

“Now that the (General Assembly) is back in session it’s a perfect time to get it on their agenda,” he said. “We feel like now is the appropriate time.” 

Banes noted other counties are taking the same action. Columbia County, with about the same population as Newton County, won approval from the Georgia Senate Monday for a bill to break away from the three-county Augusta circuit and create its own judicial circuit, he said.

“It’s a good opportunity for Newton County to establish our own circuit, as well,” Banes said.

He added that “there’s no ulterior motive” for taking this action now.

“Our county is growing,” Banes said. 

“We have well over 100,000 people,” he said. “Newton County is big enough. There’s no better time than right now.”

Also on tonight’s agenda at the meeting at the Historic Courthouse will be requests for commissioners to approve intergovernmental agreements with two agencies for issuing $16.1 million in bonds.

The bond financing will be used for purchase of land near Social Circle for development of a business park called Stanton Grove.

The Industrial Revenue Bonds will be used by the Newton County Industrial Development Authority to finance the purchase of 335 acres of undeveloped land at I-20 and U.S. Highway 278 in the county’s northeast corner for the park.

The Development Authority today, Feb. 2, voted to approve agreements with both the Board of Commissioners and Newton County Water & Sewerage Authority to guarantee repayment of the bonds in the event of a default by the Development Authority. Both would take title to the land in the event of a default.  

The Board of Commissioners had voted in early November to deny a request to be the sole agency guaranteeing repayment of the bonds.