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Restoration begins on Historic Jail
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Restoration of the Historic Jail on Stalling Street is set to begin, five years after voters approved allocating $500,000 to the project in the 2005 SPLOST.

On Oct. 19, the Board of Commissioners approved a $269,400 bid from Beatty Construction, based in Austell, to complete the first phase of the restoration of the jail, which will eventually be converted in a history museum. Phase one will include mainly exterior repairs, and work is expected to start in the next couple of weeks.

In addition to the $500,000 allocated from the 2005 SPLOST, the project has received several donations,including $1,700 from individuals, $10,000 from the Historical Society and $2,000 from Bonanza Productions, the company that is producing "Vampire Diaries" in Covington, said Special Projects Coordinator Cheryl Delk.

The county chairman's office has requested $1.2 million in the 2011 SPLOST requests to complete the project.
The county also has started construction on an interpretive monument/kiosk that will be located outside the jail. This project was funded by a grant from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, which will also pay for display cases and interpretive panels. Newton County, the city of Covington, the Newton County Historical Society, Snapping Shoals EMC and the Georgia state archives also made contributions to the project.

Each panel highlights places of historic or natural significance in the county, Delk said. The circular stone base has the names of the three rivers in Newton County in both English and the appropriate American Indian name.

Local artists and craftsmen are building and installing the monument, Delk said. Avient Museum Services designed and are providing the panels and the Georgia Archives made historic photos available for the project. Though the history center will not be completed during this phase of work, Delk said interested citizens and tourists will be able to park and use the monument to plan a county tour or to learn more about the county. Upon completion of the exterior work to the jail, a panel concerning the old jail building will be installed on the porch.