COVINGTON, Ga. – The Covington News is continuing its series of questions with Covington Mayor Ronnie Johnston. So far in this series, we have touched on what brought Johnston to Covington and his goal to lower unemployment. See the first two installments of this series online at www.covnews.com.
If you have any questions you would like to have answered about the mayor’s office or the city of Covington, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org and they could be included in the next publication of the series.
The News: What would you say are some of your top goals for your next 1.5 years of this term?
Johnston: The big things obviously, I’d love to see Covington Town Center be at least well on its way, which to me that’s at least 60 to 70 percent of the entire development in place, if not coming out of the ground.
The next would be, becoming fully loaded with Three Ring Studios. What I mean by that is I want the campus built out with the studios and we’re making movies.
The third thing is, I think there are some things we need to do internally here to stay ahead of the game because one of our responsibilities is safety, for example, so we are actively looking and we’ve secured a new building for our police station and are getting it ready for the next 20 years instead of waiting until we can’t do anything. We are also looking at upgrading and updating City Hall. It seems funny to some people, but I believe that the current City Hall is a poor representation of what we are at the City of Covington. I’m not talking about a Taj Mahal, but there are two reasons for me – the fact that we don’t have the best looking City Hall around kind of irritates me. I also see it as also being a revitalization play for this area. We have actually budgeted for it three years now, so that is a reality and I would love to see that in concrete before 2020 kicks in.
Obviously, I’d like to see 50 to 60 percent of Central Park done. I’d like to have the trails done within the city of Covington by the year 2020.
Some of the technical stuff – one of the things people keep forgetting about is, we look at 3RS, CTC and Central Park – it’s imperative that we grow our grid here. We are the provider of electricity and we provide it for much further than just the city, but we’ve got to stay competitive. We want it to be as competitive as possible for our residents. That is a very important business function that we do here and we’re trying to be attentive because if you don’t grow the grid something else has to give or prices are going to go up.
We do have, what I call “Slumlords” in this community and we’ve done a lot of positive things in terms of starting to hold them accountable. There are a lot of homes – over 80 I think – in the last year or two that we’ve demolished. Unfortunately, the way the laws are with property rights, I can’t just go in there and sell it; it’s not my lot. It’s a challenge from that aspect. We believe what’s getting ready to happen, and it's exciting, there are people now coming looking for lots here, looking to build stuff and see value in building here. I believe in the next five years there’s going to be a renaissance in that area people are going to be coming in to even buy single lots and build some new things.
One other thing would be to see at least 20 percent completion on the CID for Highway 278 and at least two of the exits beautified so when people come up here they know where they are.
What’s really cool about my job, all those things have so many people here working on them every single day. I’m not necessarily, but they are and that’s why it’s a great team of people trying to make Covington a better place to live.
Plan to continue funding economic development and really push them to continue to think about ways to improve our workforce and give current people the tools they need to be successful.
The News: Have you decided if you will seek re-election after this term?
Johnston: I’m not 100 percent on it. If I had to decide today, I would run again because I’m not sure everything I just listed to you is going to get "done done" and I’d like to see those things get done.
So, we’ll see.