In response to Commissioner J.C. Henderson’s criticism of the county and its handling of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, Chairman Kathy Morgan said the county does not have a double standard and has acted appropriately.
In a Dec. 9 letter addressed to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, Morgan responded to the numerous criticisms cited by Henderson in his Nov. 3 letter to the DCA.
In that letter Henderson accused Newton County of having a double standard, because he said the Board of Commissioners were going out of their way to put a park in Fairview Estates in District 3, while the board was preventing the community from running the Nelson Heights Community Center in his district.
"In closing we are asking that we be given a number at the Federal level to ask that all Federal grants be (stopped) until Newton County proves that we don’t’ have a double standard in doing (things) for (our) community in Newton County," he wrote in that letter.
The DCA then wrote a letter to Morgan asking for a response to these accusations. Morgan answered nine separate concerns raised by Henderson, focusing on how NSP aspects and how the money would be used. She also discussed the concerns about the NHCC, even though that project is not in the DCA’s jurisdiction.
After answering the questions, Morgan reached this conclusion:
"I fail to see how the Board of Commissioner’s decisions on the management of its various properties establishes a double standard of any kind," she wrote. "Finally, and of vital concern to the county, Commissioner Henderson requested that all federal grants be stopped until Newton County proves that we don’t have a double standard for communities in Newton County … Newton County and various agencies in the county utilize federal grants to supplement their budgets. In the current economic climate, these grants are needed more than ever."
Henderson could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Glenn Misner is DCA’s director of field services and has been handling the NSP and this correspondence. He said he had not yet received the county’s letter.
Misner said that Newton County’s NSP project has had a lot of complaints from residents, but that is not unusual. He said the DCA allows local governments to work out their own solutions, but does require governments to answer any allegations of improprieties or violations.
A resident of Fairview Estates also sent DCA a letter accusing the non-profit group IECDG, which is managing the NSP and its funds, of improper conduct. IECDG responded by saying her accusations were disappointing, inaccurate and reckless and has threatened legal action if these claims are continued.
In other NSP news, IECDG CEO James Hellams said the group is in the process of purchasing nine homes. Only one would be located in Fairview Estates, and the other eight would be located in the overall census tract. IECDG is still negotiating with Sun Trust bank to purchase land for the proposed NSP park.
Hellams said the group is still working with homeowners to determine the final direction for the park.
To view Henderson’s original letter and Morgan’s full 10-page response visit covnews.com