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Big changes coming to Covington in 2020
New city council members sworn in, new alcohol ordinance adopted on Dec. 9
city council
City Manager Leigh Ann Knight and Mayor Ronnie Johnston during the city council meeting on Monday, Dec. 9. - photo by Kathy Hooks

COVINGTON, Ga. — During its final meeting of the year on Monday night, Dec. 9, the Covington City Council prepared for big changes coming in 2020, including three new council members, an ordinance allowing outdoor consumption of alcohol during events and a new city manager. 

Three candidates elected this year were sworn into office by Superior Court Judge Horace Johnson Jr. during the meeting. 

After serving two terms, Mayor Ronnie Johnston will be succeeded by Steve Horton in January. Horton is no stranger to Covington as he spent his career in various city positions, including serving at city manager for seven years before retiring in 2012.

“We are here to build upon what you [the council] have done,” Horton told the current council members upon being sworn in. “We will move ahead because we’ll work together.” 

Horton said he will be calling upon the former council members to share their experience in future projects and decisions he will face as mayor. 

Also sworn in were newcomers Fleeta Smith Baggett and Don Floyd. 

Baggett will continue her family’s tradition of serving the city as both her father and brother are former councilmen. She filled the Post 2 seat of Councilman Michael Whatley, who spent 20 years as the city’s longest serving councilman and did not seek reelection.  

Former Covington fire Chief Don Floyd, who defeated one-term Councilman Josh McKelvey, took his oath of office alongside Post 1 incumbent Kenneth Morgan, who was reelected to serve his second term.

The council also welcomed new City Manager Scott Andrews, who will succeed Leigh Ann Knight upon her Dec. 13 retirement after seven years as city manager. 

With a farewell address to the council, Knight spoke of her experience working with the city and urged citizens to be more mindful of the professionalism found among the city’s 330 employees.

“Consider being appreciative of a group of people who do the very best with the tools they have,” Knight read from a prepared statement. “They often get disrespected by the very people they are trying to help. Keep in mind that these men and women work in 100 degree and freezing weather, through all hours of the night, through rain, storms and droughts to provide you a service”

“You have a great group of talented, highly educated people who care about Covington,” Knight continued. “Remember that the police, fire, 911 and public works are all nationally accredited.”

While wrapping up the end of the year business, the council also adopted the “Brunch Bill” allowing alcohol sales to start at 11 a.m. rather than 12:30 p.m. on Sundays. 

As approved by voters this year, the council also adopted ordinances allowing outdoor alcohol consumption during events held downtown and at Legion Field. Event organizers will be required to purchase cups from the city and provide wristbands to be worn during the events.