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No surprises on county agenda
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Tuesday’s Newton County Board of Commissioners’ meeting agenda contains nothing out of the ordinary. Specifically, there’s nothing there to talk about the form of government, which was put off for a month in a work session last week but has been lingering just under the surface since.

As expected, the agenda calls for the appointment of Tom Garrett as the new county manager, replacing retired veteran John Middleton. Garrett has been groomed for the position for months in the post of assistant county manager.

Garrett’s position as assistant manager will not be refilled. That, too, is on the agenda – and no surprise.
However, it should be noted that commissioners and Chairman Keith Ellis can talk about anything during time set aside for comments. Anything, or nothing more, is possible.

Also on Tuesday’s agenda is a memorandum of understanding between Newton County, the state, and the city of Covington about maintenance of the Square. Nothing new there; it should just be a continuance of a long-standing agreement for the city to maintain the county-owned square.

Something new on the agenda is an amendment to the state Community Services Block Grant program to add $10,745 to what the county now receives. The grant would help with “emergency assistance” for families “in rough times due to economic factors that have fell (sic) below the 125% poverty level.”

The grant will help families stay in their homes, including help with energy bills. There are 300 or so families in need; as it stands, the county has enough to help just 200.

“This grant,” the application says, “prolongs their utility services and house eviction to find work or other sources of monies. With a lot of jobs been (sic) lost to clients in Newton County, doctor and pharmacy needs have become great and we have need (sic) this grant for emergency assistance when no other option was available.”

The agenda also calls for a discussion on a development services director for the county. No information on this agenda item was available Saturday. The agenda was released late Friday afternoon.