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Trails, Chimney Park, Senior Center, Washington Street make SPLSOT presentations
Sara Vinson, Board Chair for Newton Trails, makes a presentation to the 2017 SPLOST Committee Monday night at the Newton County Historic Courthouse.

Representatives from the Newton County Trails, the Newton County Senior Center, Friends of Newton Parks and the Washington Street Community Center presented their cases for funds from a possible Special Purpose Local Options Sales Tax (SPLOST) that will be put on the ballot for Newton County voters March 14.

The different representatives presented their projects during the first meeting of the Newton County SPLOST Committee at the Newton County Historic Courthouse Monday night.

The committee was appointed by the Newton County Board of Commissioners on Oct. 18 to evaluate SPLOST projects to be put on the 2017 ballot and help promote the list throughout the county. The committee heard the four presentations and then reviewed other possible 2017 SPLOST projects.

Sara Vinson, Chair of the Newton Trails Board, spoke to the committee first, requesting $4 million for the Turkey Creek Trail.

The trail will run from Turner Lake Park, cross over the Yellow River at Brown Bridge, near Porter Elementary School and the Porter Performing Arts Center and link up with the Yellow River Park in Porterdale.

The trail, Vinson said, has been part of Newton County’s master plan since 2001. In 2007, engineering documents were approved by the board of commissioners and completed at a cost of $300,000. Those plans are what Vinson presented to the SPLOST Committee Monday night. Included in the estimates for the trails’ SPLOST request was updated engineering drawings since the previous documents will be 10 years old by the time project gets started.

Vinson said the trail board agreed to cover maintenance costs for the new trail, which are estimated at $5,700 a year.
Along the Eastside Trail, part of the Newton trail network, is Chimney Park. Melvin Allen, Board Chair of Friends of Newton Park, responsible for Chimney Park, requested $280,317 for upgrades to the park, located on Newton County land behind the Covington Branch of the library.

The funds would go toward decking and additional pavers on the Patterson family home, restrooms within the park, a handicap-accessible treehouse, refurbishment of the park’s historic steeple, installation of a berm slide, additional sidewalks, entrance signs, a water feature, fairy village and new fencing.

While Allen asked for restrooms as part of Chimney Park’s SPLOST request, so did Freda Reed, Director of Newton County’s Senior Services. Reed requested $2 million to enlarge the fellowship hall, add an exercise room, additional bathrooms, classroom renovations, a quilt and sewing room, additional office space, an enlarged kitchen and an enlarged great room.
The senior center requested $2.5 million from the 2011 SPLOST, which wasn’t put on the final list.

Along with Newton County’s seniors, Newton County’s children were also spoken for as Michael Syphoe requested $800,000 for building improvements. Syphoe asked for a room for a state-of-the-art computer lab, space for adult literacy and repairs to the roof and HVAC systems.

The SPLOST Committee’s next meeting is Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Newton County Historic Courthouse.