COVINGTON, Ga. – After complaints of raw sewage, snakes, mice and break-ins at its current location, the Covington-Newton County 911 Center will be on the move to a temporary location within the city of Covington.
City Manager Leigh Anne Knight said Monday evening in a council work session that Covington Fire Department Station 22 serves as a backup location for the 911 Center so it would make for a smooth transition into a fully-functioning temporary location until another solution can be found.
Knight said ATT was scheduled to install a Text to 911 function in the 911 Center next week, but that installation will now be moved to the Station 22 location, which will make the location fully functional.
The 911 Center’s board of governors unanimously approved the temporary move.
“Jeremy (Holmes, CFD chief,) is already on board with this. He is the one that suggested this in the first place – you know, building a fire station and letting them renovate (Station 22),” she said.
Knight said she has spoken to County Manager Lloyd Kerr about the possibility of making Station 22 a long-term solution for the 911 Center. The conversation is ongoing.
“I think that is the most economical approach for everybody involved,” she said.
Knight said the move will happen quickly, probably within a week.
Councilman Kenneth Morgan questioned how long the “temporary” fix would last for 911 and Knight said there are several options for moving forward – including making it a permanent location, finding a new location or fixing the issues at the current location.
The 911 Center is currently located in the Carlton Trail building that formerly housed Cousins High School and Cousins Middle School. The county signed a new eight-year lease on the building in July 2015. In addition to the 911 Center, the building also houses the county’s Emergency Management Agency and the Newton County office of the Georgia Department of Driver’s Services.
“I just don’t think it’s fair,” Knight said. “We have issues (at City Hall) with heat every now and then, and you know it might get cold in here, or we might have to walk to the back to get ice, but we never have an issue with our plumbing, there’s always heat or somewhere to plug it in, we don’t have to worry about our vehicles getting broken into …
“I just don’t think its fair that we have employees – that are Covington employees – that are having to work in those conditions.”
Covington Mayor Ronnie Johnston said being a 911 operator is a tough job and it is up to the governing bodies to make sure the conditions are not making it any harder.
“It is a difficult job and we want to make sure that they understand that we want them to have the best working environment that we can possibly give them,” Knight said.