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County to cut grass around I-20
Money could come from state funds
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Newton County has agreed to work with the city of Covington to cut the grass around I-20’s exit 93 and down Ga. Highway 142, and could receive some money from the state to finance the project.

Chairman Keith Ellis said Tuesday the county will work with the city and pay its $325 share per month (the city will pay the same amount) to cut the grass at exit 93 and along Ga. Highway 142 from the light at Home Depot to U.S. Highway 278; part of the property is in the county and part is in Covington.

The Covington City Council previously voted to pay its half of the cost for exit 93, as well as to completely cover the costs for cutting grass around exits 90 (U.S. 278/Turner Lake Road) and 92 (Alcovy Road) as part of a beautification effort to make the city’s entrances more attractive.

The county could also get $3,000 per mile per year from the state to cut the grass, Ellis said Thursday at the county’s strategic planning meeting.

The Georgia Department of Transportation is responsible for maintenance of interstate exits, but the state cuts the grass only three times per year on interstates and twice per year on secondary routes, spokeswoman Cissy McNure said Monday.

McNure said reimbursement amounts are dependent on the specific services a city or county is providing, and she said both cities and counties are eligible for the reimbursement.

Neither Newton County nor any city currently has a maintenance agreement with GDOT, McNure said.

City Manager Leigh Anne Knight said the city hasn’t decided whether to seek reimbursement, because it would have to do more than just cut the grass.

"We are exploring all of our options. In order to be reimbursed, we must perform some additional maintenance on the road itself, things such as pothole repairs, leveling of roads and such," Knight said in a Monday email. "We will need to review all the items required and the amount of miles inside the City before we would seek a reimbursement agreement."

Commissioner Lanier Sims thanked Ellis for pursuing the state reimbursement money because it’s an issue Sims brought up years ago after learning about it at a training class.

Each of the contracts calls for 42 weekly grass cuttings, as well as trash pickup.