1. Baxter coming to Covington: Baxter International broke ground in early August, bringing Newton Countians hope of a local economic recovery.
The company began its the long path to commercial operation in 2018, which will see years of construction, a lengthy government approval process, the hiring of hundreds of employees and the efforts of local communities to woo Baxter executives to their neighborhood.Baxter will build its manufacturing plant in the pre-planned, 1,620-acre Stanton Springs industrial park, located just west of Interstate 20 exit 101 at the intersection of Newton, Walton and Morgan counties.
The company will occupy 162 acres of Stanton Springs and only a third of the site will be built out of the initial $1 billion investment.
The medical manufacturer's officials said they have plans to hire around 1,500 full-time workers by 2018, giving Newton County the boost of growth it needs.
2. School board deals with trust: What started off as just nasty comments by anonymous bloggers turned into a lawsuit filed against those bloggers and Newton County School Board member Jeff Meadors by Alcovy High School Principal LaQuanda Carpenter. After months of depositions, accusations, blogging and letter writing, Carpenter dismissed her lawsuit in October.
3. Joy in the midst of tragedy: Covington rallied around the family of Christopher Tyler Evans, 37, who was killed in a car accident on the way to enjoy his 14th anniversary with dinner and a trip to visit Santa with his wife Sabrina and sons, Joel, 8 and Chase, 6. The Covington News, the Covington Police Department and the Ramsey Santa all delivered presents for the children. The community also pitched in, purchasing gifts for Sabrina, helping the family, and making sure there was a little bit of light in the midst of the darkness.
4. Death penalty: Both Rodney Young and Pablo Maldonado were received the death penalty for two separate murders. Young was sentenced to death for the bludgeoning and stabbing death of 28-year-old Gary Jones. Maldonado was sentenced to death for the beating death of 53-year-old Timothy Clements.
5. Sheriff's race: Ezell Brown overcame what some have said was a contentious race and was reelected as Newton County sheriff. The race for sheriff remained heated since the primaries when Republican Philip Bradford was elected to run against Democratic incumbent Ezell Brown.