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County talking to grant writing co.
County working on Miracle League field, intersection upgrade and Beaver Park pavilion
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Newton County is getting closer to hiring a firm to write grants to seek out more state and federal funding.

The Newton County Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday to continue talking to Palmetto Grant Consulting, the only company to submit a bid on time, and see what exactly the company will do.

Palmetto Grant had a base rate of $3,700 per month, which County Manager John Middleton said would fit within the proposed $50,000 budget (the base rate for a year would total $44,400).

According to documents presented to the Board, Palmetto Grant was the only company to submit a bid to the county before the required date stated by the county’s request for proposals (RFP).

Palmetto Grant President Susan Bacon said in a letter to the county that her company has “a background in federal and state grant funding, private, community and corporate foundation proposal writing, networks for funder relations, and best practices for evaluation. Since our beginning in 2009, we have raised over $2 million in funding for our clients.” According to her application, Bacon previously worked for The Clean Air Campaign in Atlanta.

The Board voted 4-1 to get more information from the company with Commissioner John Douglas opposing moving forward because he believes there are “people in house who can do this without spending extra dollars.”

Money for grant writing services has been discussed in-depth previously with commissioners in favor of the proposal saying they hoped the county would be able to secure more grants that would not only cover the cost of paying for grant writing but also bring additional revenue to the county. Commissioners have also cautioned it may be more difficult to get grants as dollars have dried up at every level of government and competition for remaining grants has increased.

Final Airport Road/Ga. 142 improvement to be bid out

The Board approved bidding out the third and final phase of the intersection upgrade of Airport Road and Ga. Highway 142, which add turn lanes to the intersection to improve traffic flow for residents traveling to and from Flint Hill Elementary.

Assistant County Manager Tom Garrett said he estimates the project will cost between $450,000 and $500,000. The county received a $200,000 reimbursement grant from the state.

The first phase of the project involved installing turn lanes at the intersection when Flint Hill Elementary School opened. The second phase involved widening Airport Road so two school buses could pass each other.
The bids will be brought back before the Board for approval.

Miracle League field asphalt base approved

The Board also approved paying $19,995 to Pittman Construction to pour the asphalt base for the Miracle League field under construction at City Pond Park. Garrett said the field has to have asphalt underneath so that wheelchairs can easily move across the artificial turf surface that will be placed on top of it.

Pittman was the low bid, beating out Kay Paving and MHB Paving, Garrett said.
Beaver Park pavilion to be rebuilt

County Manager John Middleton said the county is getting ready to put out a request for bids to rebuild the pavilion at Beaver Park near Mansfield. The pavilion was destroyed in the April 2013 tornado that tore through the town. Middleton said insurance money will pay for the majority of the cost, but he said the county also has some SPLOST dollars available.

Concern about employees leaving

During commissioner comments, Commissioner Levie Maddox said he was concerned about the high percentage of employees the county was losing and the experience and knowledge that was leaving with those employees. He mentioned public responders, the landfill, Geographic Information Systems and information technology as areas of concern.

Chamber update: industrial interest on uptick

In a presentation to the Board of Commissioners, Hunter Hall, president of the Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce, said industry executives with C.R. Bard, Fibervisions, Michelin and Rockwell Automation visited the Newton College and Career Academy and heard presentations from local students. Hall said the industry execs were impressed and discussed the possibility of the students coming to work for the companies in the future.

Hall also told the Board the chamber is working on five active economic development projects in the advanced manufacturing and software engineering fields, all of which have come in the last four months.

Hall said the chamber is averaging two calls a week for industrial project inquiries, and he said the vast majority, 80 percent, are for existing buildings, with only 20 percent of inquiries looking for raw land.

BOC April 1 meeting docs