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BOC to seek public input on government reform
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Commissioners urged citizens at Tuesday’s board meeting to come out to a public hearing on February 5 to discuss amending the form of county government.

Commissioner John Douglas suggested the county consider whether both the county manager and chairman need to be full time employees, while Commissioners Lanier Sims and Nancy Schulz advocated broader public participation in that meeting.

Douglas and Schulz also followed up on concerns voiced at the January 6 meeting, scrutinizing the county manager’s financial report and requesting more detail in subsequent reports. Chairman Keith Ellis recommended the reports be posted online.

The board started the meeting with a briefing about the success of the Newton County Juvenile Court’s diversion programs, including the program known as Girl STEPS which has been extremely successful in preventing young women from becoming repeat offenders.

The board approved an additional grant of $64,050 from the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council to be matched by the county with $2,615 for the start of a similar program for boys. The board also approved a grant of $23,538 for the Alcovy Mental Health Court.

Commissioners gave the Newton County Fire Services permission to move forward with its exploration of cost recovery program options, which would help offset costs by charging for certain services.

The board approved awarding a $1.3 million contract to Rogers Bridge Company to repair the Oakhill Road Bridge over Snapping Shoals Creek, as well as the sale of right-of-way to the department of transportation to widen 278 and replace a bridge over the Alcovy River.

The board also granted the chairman permission to sign a contract on behalf of the county with the Environmental Protection Department regarding the landfill expansion permit granted nearly a year ago.