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Sprucing up the square
Downtown gets a spring makeover just in time for 11 Alives broadcast Friday
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The square is being spruced up this week just in time for 11 Alive's Friday morning broadcast live from Covington, which will feature the downtown.

City workers were out in force Tuesday, replacing the main light fixtures with brighter lights that are purer white, sanding and repainting benches, installing new bike racks and weeding the sidewalks and planters.

While the square receives regular maintenance, the improvements were coordinated at least in part to ensure the city makes the best showing possible.

"It's kind of like when company is coming, and you get things straightened up," said Main Street director Josephine Kelly. "We created a deadline to get things done in the downtown district."

For example, while the city has been working on the lighting project for months, they made sure to be able to replace the lights this week. Covington Crew supervisor Jeremy Kitchens said the former high-pressure sodium lights were being replaced by metal halide ones.

The city had experimented with both kinds, and Kitchens said the council members preferred the metal halide lights.

The lights needed to be replaced anyway, he said, as they had been around for a couple of decades.

The 11 Alive downtown series has already featured Roswell and Stone Mountain, Kelly said, with Covington next in line. She said she hopes to have 1,000 people downtown Friday morning to present an energetic background for filming.

"We're inviting everybody to come out; it's a great way to start your Friday," Kelly said. "Most of the filming will be on the square, but producers were so impressed by the quality of facades and merchants that they told them they can set up their wares outside and the show may do a walk through."

The show is going to be airing live from 4:30 a.m. to 7 a.m., and will be interspersed with other programming, including a package about Covington that has already been produced.

The Oxford Singing Children and Oxford Youth Singers will be performing, and the high school bands might perform as well, Kelly said. Miracle League of Newton County, Newton Recreation Commission and Newton County Special Olympics representatives will also be on hand promoting their groups. Kelly invited other groups to bring posters or other materials supporting their cause.

She noted Square Perk plans to be open early to serve coffee and breakfast items.

One of the newest improvements is the installation of bike racks on the square. Covington workers were installing the first one next to Square Perk and hoped to install four more this week, including by the Historic Courthouse and on the square's other three corners at the Arts Association in Newton County, by Amici's Italian Café and by the bridal shop, according to supervisor Tommy Smith.

"We're kind of proud of (the design) we put together, because our bike racks are now featured in the national DuMor catalog," said Kelly, who noted the city has been supporting all forms of transportation downtown. "I think it's great to see the bike racks going up, because we have a strong event schedule for the summer that can all be enjoyed by all of our citizens."

Brady Smith, who oversees park and cemetery maintenance for Covington, said the city generally repairs benches once every two years. Community service workers sanded down and repainted the wood and re-spray painted the metal legs Tuesday.

The city already empties the trash cans on the square daily, rake up the leaves once a week and use a blower to clear off the sidewalks and paths on the square once every two weeks, Brady Smith said.