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County to repair Alcovy River dam
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In order to get water to flow into the county's pump station on the Alcovy River, the county had to build a 2-foot-high weir (or rock dam) in the river more than 20 years ago to raise the level of the river. The river bank was severely eroded during the 2009 flood, allowing water to flow around the weir instead of over it as intended.

When combined with the low river flow, the erosion prevented enough water from flowing into the water pump station, which pumps water into the City Pond reservoir.

The Newton County Board of Commissioners voted last week to repair the river bank and approved the low bid of $52,443 by Pinnacle International. Because it's not practical to repair the river bank with earth fill, the repair will use gabion structures, said Jim Mathis, an engineer with Infratec Consultants. A gabion is a wirework container filled with rock, broken concrete or other material that is used in the construction of dams and retaining walls.

A small part of the project also includes stabilizing the rock weir with concrete grout, Mathis said, but he noted that the weir will remain at the same elevation and not be raised. A citizen emailed The News expressing concern that the dam was being increased in size, which would hurt the flow of the river. Mathis said that was not the case.

The Army Corps of Engineers gave a section 404 permit to perform this work; Mathis said the work is considered to be maintenance and repair.

In other board news, the county approved last week the low bid of $410,011 from Pittman Construction to resurface Rocky Plains and Moores roads. The money will come from the 2011 SPLOST.

Also, the Joint Development Authority of Jasper, Morgan, Newton and Walton counties has $5.6 million remaining on its original bond taken out in 1999 for development of Stanton Springs.

The authority had a letter of credit from Bank of America at a 1.36 percent interest rate, but the bank decided not to renew the letter because of internal issues, said attorney Andrea Gray, who works in County Attorney Tommy Craig's office.

Newton County approved last week an offer from J.P. Morgan Chase to assume the letter of credit for five years at an interest rate of 1.25 percent. The other three counties were also expected to approve the new letter of credit agreement.

If the authority had not found a bank to take on the letter of credit, it would have had to have the letter converted into a bank bond with an interest rate of 10.75 percent. That would have cost the authority $2.11 million per year just for debt service.

Switching to J.P. Morgan cost the authority $65,753. Newton County has a 37.5 percent share in Stanton Springs so it has to pay $24,657.38.

The board also approved upgrading the telephone system at the Covington-Newton County 911 Communications Center, which was first installed in November 2003. The new InterActNG system cost $319,933 and will be paid with a five-year lease purchase agreement.

Director Mike Smith said the change will save the center about $1,200 a month; it's currently paying $10,127 on its current lease. Smith said the system was having increased issues and had outlived its intended life.
The Newton County Juvenile Court was awarded a $7,500 grant from the Council of Juvenile Court Judges to purchase services for the 2011-2012 Juvenile Offenders Program.

The Newton County Sheriff's Office applied for a $9,000 grant which will be used to help pay overtime pay for employees.