As county officials try to rally public support for a ZIP code change to accommodate mega medical industry Baxter International, they’re a hoping a town hall will be able to turn the tide.
County Commissioner John Douglas and Chairman Keith Ellis will be hosting a town hall meeting to answer questions and concerns about the ZIP code change at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Mount Pleasant United Methodist Church, which is located at the intersection of U.S. Highway 278 and Ga. Highway 229; the church’s official address is 55 Ga. Highway 229, Social Circle.
More than 600 residences in eastern Newton County received letters from the U.S. Postal Service asking them if they wanted their ZIP code to change from a 30025 Social Circle ZIP code to a 30014 Covington one.
The change was requested by the Newton County Board of Commissioners in 2012 because Baxter officials want their new $1 billion plant to be associated with Covington. Baxter’s plant is located in Stanton Springs industrial park and is in both Newton and Walton counties.
A Baxter spokeswoman said she did not have any more details about why company officials wanted the change or what practical concerns were at play.
Postal Service spokesman Michael Miles said he did not have exact vote totals but said he had been told the votes to date were overwhelmingly against a ZIP code change.
Douglas, who lives in the affected area and was initially against the ZIP code change, changed his opinion after realizing there was no way that Baxter could get a new ZIP code change separately.
While some residents have complained about having to change out addresses on bills and other official documents, area resident Betty Bledsoe, who lives in Willow Wood neighborhood off Ga. Highway 229, said Friday she supported the change.
Bledsoe said she has always associated herself with Newton County and would like her address to reflect that; Social Circle is a city located in Walton County.
“I’m tired of people thinking I live in Walton County,” she said.
She said the county should do everything it can to be a good neighbor to Baxter, which holds the promise of attracting fellow quality industry to the area as well as more retail businesses to the Hub Junction area, which is the intersection of Ga. Highway 11 and U.S. Highway 278.
When she moved to the county in the 1970s, the county was smaller and yet it had a larger variety of retail businesses.
“We didn’t have to go out of the county to get anything. Now, there’s not much here. I think if we make the county more attractive, and Stanton Springs would help with that, especially around the hub where I live, I think we would draw more businesses,” Bledsoe said.
Bledsoe said she plans to attend the town hall and speak in favor of the ZIP code change.