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Commissioners spar over Nelson Heights funding
Covington Councilman made CEO of center
The Nelson Heights Community Center is located at 7200 Lassiter St. SW in Covington.

COVINGTON, Ga. – The normally mundane commissioner’s comments portion of a Newton County Board of Commissioners meeting took on a contentious tone Tuesday night after one commissioner called for county defunding of the Nelson Heights Community Center.

District 1 Commissioner Stan Edwards said to continue county funding of the center would be a violation of the county’s ethics policy.

“I have some concerns with our currently proposed budget. One of the concerns I have with that budget is we would be in violation of our own ethics policy. Unless the dynamics have changed at the Nelson Heights Community Center, we will be in violation of our own ethics policy if we approve the budget with that appropriation,” he said.

“I believe we have to have some serious discussions. It is clearly a violation of our ethics policy. I will not vote for a budget that includes an appropriation for Nelson Heights Community Center, Inc. My second concern is the kids that are taking advantage of that programming today. If we were not going to fund Nelson Heights Community Center, Inc., what would happen to the programming that those kids take advantage of today? We would have to come up with an alternative plan. My suggestion is that we have those discussions as soon as possible.”

According to the county’s proposed FY 2019 budget, the Nelson Heights Community Center is slated to receive $38,800 in taxpayer money.

District 4 Commissioner J.C. Henderson, the now-former CEO of the center said the ethics policy was written toward him.

“The ethics policy that Commissioner Stan is referring to is one that they helped put together. They got the county attorney and went downstairs and put that piece together,” he said. “The ethics policy only talks about me. It didn’t talk about the Solid Waste Authority. It was all about J.C. Henderson.

“The plan was, J.C. Henderson was going to jail because they had spent over $300-$310,300 with our own county attorney to try to put me in jail for something, for a program that I had to go ask them for the money. Sometimes when you want to shut people’s mouths what you do is bring up false accusations.”

A review of the county’s 2016 ethics policy by The Covington News does not show any mention of Commissioner Henderson’s name.

Henderson said as of last week, his son, Covington City Councilman Anthony, is CEO of the center.

“So what we did was we said we wanted to do the right thing. We went and had a meeting and made a document for Miss Judy to type up. What it said was that my son, Anthony Henderson, as of last week, was going to be the CEO of Nelson Heights,” Commissioner Henderson said.

Chairman Marcello Banes said the issue would be placed on the agenda for the next BOC meeting.

“We’re going to get this on the agenda for the next meeting. We’re going to have the county attorney look at it and we’re going to present it at the next board meeting, “he said.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to put this to rest one way or the other.”