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County hires civil engineer
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Newton County has hired civil engineer Tom Garrett to oversee county transportation projects. The county had been without a full-time engineer since July's budget cuts.

Garrett was a principal engineer with Loganville-based Alcovy Surveying and Engineering for nearly four years and was hired at a salary of $75,776. He had been consulting with the county since June and was also an assistant county engineer in Newton County from October 2005 to April 2006.

"I was tired of being the engineer," said Chairman Kathy Morgan, who said Garrett was chosen because of his background and the innovative ideas he presented in interviews.

Garrett will oversee road, right-of-way and drainage projects, including some in-house design and reviewing engineering plans and permits done by outside companies. He will also help the county with compiling a list of roads and other transportation assets.

Morgan said that a guideline used by many governments Newton's size, is that if a project will take 40 hours or less to design, it should be done in-house.

Garrett will also oversee the county's stormwater projects and handle National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits. Morgan said his experience in that area was critical.

Garrett lives in Walton County.

"He's committed to the area. I think we got a great person for a great price," Morgan said, noting that the salary was reduced from the previous level.