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Public input will play major role in Newton County parks master plan
Parks master plan
Design specialists putting together Newton County’s master plan for the future of its parks and recreation operations will rely heavily on the public’s input. - photo by Photo Courtesy of Newton County Parks and Recreation

COVINGTON, Ga. — Public input will play a major part in compiling a plan for future operation of the county government’s parks and recreation facilities, a design specialist says.

Aaron St. Pierre of Lawrenceville-based Lose Design told Newton County commissioners during a Tuesday, Sept. 21, work session the study of the county government’s parks and recreation facilities and operations also would include suggestions on how to fund new facilities.

County Manager Lloyd Kerr said the plan is costing $93,000 but will “take us into the future.”

“This is something that we have never done in this county,” Kerr said.

St. Pierre said a series of open meetings were planned where residents could participate in activities and give comments informally to those conducting the study — rather than a more formal meeting featuring a speaker.

“Citizen input is going to be a driving force behind the recommendations in the master plan,” he said.

Open meetings to gain residents’ input on what they want to see in county parks are scheduled for each county commission district in October.

They include:

• Oct. 18, 6 to 8 p.m., at Mansfield Community Center at 3158 Hwy. 11 South in Mansfield (District 1);

• Oct. 21, 6 to 8 p.m., at Turner Lake Park at 6185 Turner Lake Road in Covington (District 5);

• Oct. 26, 6 to 8 p.m., at Turner Lake Park (District 4);

• Oct. 27, 6 to 8 p.m., at Newton County Sheriff’s Office West Precinct at 3612 Salem Road in Covington (District 3);

• Oct. 28, 6 to 8 p.m., at Porter Memorial Library at 6191 Hwy. 212 in Covington (District 2).

St. Pierre said his company already had assessed facilities at each of the county’s parks and interviewed parks and recreation staff members.

He said the comprehensive study would include an analysis of the available funding and ways to gain revenue; and any increases needed in staffing levels.

An inventory of facilities, their geographic distribution and analysis of any gaps that exist also would be included, he said.

It also would assess the county’s demographics, including possible future shifts in population, to determine the best locations for future parks.

Other governments’ parks and recreation departments’ reaction to trends in their communities will be included, he added.   

Lose Design would issue a draft report to commissioners, likely in February, St. Pierre said. It then would gather any final information needed and submit a final report in April 2022.

For more information, call 770-786-4373 or visit

Also Tuesday, Sept. 21, commissioners heard a presentation from Cynthia Patterson of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs concerning available rental assistance in Newton County.

She said a total of 516 Newton County tenants had applied for the money, with 150 qualifying and receiving $1.2 million. 

The remaining 316 either were ineligible or the application was still being processed, she said.

Patterson said funding was still available but both landlord and tenant must complete applications for it.

The funding would be paid directly to landlords and could cover up to 18 months of rent payments, she said.

However, those seeking the funding must prove they have a hardship related to COVID-19, such as becoming unemployed because of it; and they risk becoming homeless without the money, she said.

For more information, call 833-827-7368 or visit

Rental assistance
From left, Ashley Hoffman and Brooklynne Hart of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs wait to give information about available rental assistance in the Historic Courthouse in Covington Tuesday, Sept. 21. - photo by Tom Spigolon