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County employees get free turkeys
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All of Newton County’s nearly 600 employees can have free turkeys in their ovens this Thanksgiving, thanks to a holiday bonus program.

While the Newton County Sheriff’s Office has given turkeys to its employees (265 this year) for years, according to Chairman Keith Ellis, the county’s other 331 employees will share in the bonus this year when they receive $15.50 gift certificates to Kroger’s.

"We were trying to figure out ways to help employees feel appreciated without going in the general budget," Ellis said Wednesday. He announced the gift certificates at Tuesday’s board meeting.

"This is a token of our appreciation to them. They provide a lot of services for the county and are doing it on a short budget; they’re probably doing the job of a couple of people."

Ellis said the county scrounged up the money from a couple of sources, including a small sum from the public works and fire department budgets and a couple of thousand dollars in revenue earned from TV’s "The Vampire Diaries" renting out the Historic Courthouse.

The gift certificates will be given to all full-time, non-elected employees. Ellis said the county chose gift certificates in case employees had already purchased turkeys or needed other items.

Ellis said officials are also talking to local merchants in an effort to provide discounts throughout the year on numerous products and services, such as haircuts and oil changes.

"We’re trying to give our employees some perks," Ellis said, noting he hopes the gift will make employees feel appreciated despite the fact that the county can’t afford to give raises at this time.

Interested merchants can contact Ellis at, or by phone at 678-625-1201.