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Bus tour to promote Covington's downtown
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Covington's historic downtown is once again being featured. Yes, in the "Vampire Diaries" season two finale, but also for the benefit of 50 state leaders participating on Wednesday in theĀ annual Heart and Soul Bus Tour.

TheĀ tour is sponsored by the Georgia Cities Foundation, a non-profit group dedicated to revitalizing and enhancing Georgia's downtowns by providing low-interest, long-term loans.

Covington is one of 10 cities featured on the 2011 tour, because it has a successful downtown and received a Georgia Cities loan for the construction of the Lula Building, located at the corner of Church Street and College Avenue on the square.

This year's tour will begin in Conyers and end in Madison, following downtowns located along Interstate 20 heading east from Atlanta. The idea is to show how the 10 cities created successful downtowns.

The 50 state leaders taking the tour include local and state government officials, builders and developers, utility company officials, lawyers, journalists, academics and financiers. The group will be in Covington for 2.5 hours, hearing from government leaders, walking around downtown, watching television filming in progress and eating lunch.

Main Street Covington Director Josephine Kelly, whose organization is largely responsible for overseeing downtown development, said she's excited about the recognition the city is receiving and noted this tour will be the second time Covington has been included on the tour.

In the packet of information submitted to tour participants, city officials note that Covington made decisions to establish and protect the historic feel of the square and downtown. City and county officials created a downtown master plan and have worked to promote walkability, unique shopping options, attractive landscaping and a film-friendly community.

The renovation of the historic jail and a civic center were seen as two important projects to drive the downtown forward. Work has begun to transform the old jail into a history center, but the civic center lost traction after the economic downturn.