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Lake Varner to get two pavilions
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Newton County residents will soon have another picturesque place to enjoy a picnic.

The Newton County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved for two new open-air pavilions to be constructed at Lake Varner Park at their board meeting on Tuesday night.

Jason Nord with the county's water resource department requested that the board approve a bid for Paul Kent Construction Company to construct two pavilions for a total price of $40,977. According to the bid, the price includes the company designing the pavilions, all of the materials for construction, labor, equipment, site work and cleanup.

Four bids for the pavilion project were received on Aug. 21 at the Newton County Administration Building, and Newton County Engineering Services recommended that the board approve the lowest bid, which was from Paul Kent Construction Company.

According to a proposal from county engineer Tom Garrett, Paul Kent Construction Company has performed other projects for Georgia Perimeter College, Walton County Parks and Recreation and DeKalb County Public Works. Garrett said in his proposal he spoke with references from those projects and they all were complimentary of Paul Kent Construction Company.

Lake Varner is an 850-acre drinking reservoir located on Alcovy Road that was constructed in the 1990s. The lake has been used for fishing, electric and paddle boating and other types of recreational activities, but there were no areas set aside for holding gatherings at Lake Varner Park. Garrett said this was a way to enhance the area.

"It's for picnics or just general recreation," Garrett said.

During the meeting, Commissioner Tim Fleming asked Nord if there was really a need for the pavilions at the park and if the park saw many visitors. Nord answered yes and explain why he thought the pavilions needed to be constructed.

"There are a lot of people who come out especially on holidays," Nord said. "There have been a lot inquires about having a facility that could handle family reunions, church gatherings, picnics and things of that nature and right now there is no area out there for a large gathering of people."

Nord added that the pavilions would hold about 30 to 40 people. Commissioner J.C. Henderson was concerned with how interested parties would reserve the pavilions for use. Nord explained how the department would handle the use of the pavilions.

"At this point and time, we plan on having it as first come/first serve with the capability of being reserved by the recreation manager," Nord said. "We'll put up a sign to reserve for that person at that time."

Commissioner Nancy Schulz said she had concerns with the upkeep of the new pavilions.

"I recognize that we need this kind of construction, but would your department be responsible for the maintenance of the pavilions?" she ask.

Nord told the board that his department would maintain the pavilions as they were used.

Garrett said construction on the pavilions will take place some time in October. He said the project should take about 45 days from start to finish.