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Looking back on a great year
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The holiday season is upon us already. I would like to wish the City of Covington a Merry Christmas, as well as a Happy New Year, and I hope that everyone enjoys this special time of year. I know that I myself am looking forward to this Christmas season.

Since this is the first year that three out of my four children go to out-of-state schools, it will be especially nice to have them all back home. Our family has many traditions for this time of year, but my favorite is one that my wife started 10 years ago. Each member of our family, instead of buying gifts, makes gifts for each other by hand. This tradition is wonderful because it is always a joy to see what everyone creates. The reason that we do this tradition is because it represents the true meaning of Christmas, which is giving of yourself for others. Instead of focusing on the materialistic gifts we can buy at a store, we share parts of ourselves with those we love. Some members of our family are very artistic and make beautiful gifts that are full of heart and meaning. Seeing what everyone put together is always a special experience and something that we all look forward to year after year.

Along with the holidays, the end of my first year as mayor is swiftly approaching and I am still incredibly honored to serve in this position.

This has been a great year filled with new strides and accomplishments for the city. Looking forward, I am just as excited about the next year and all that it has in store. The day I became mayor, I said that both Covington and Newton County are knocking on the doors of some incredible opportunities for new jobs, growth and quality of life for their residents. I still believe every word of that is true.

Throughout 2012, the city has brought both new businesses and jobs to the area from companies such as Baxter. Just the announcement of Baxter is a great accomplishment; the $1.1 billion dollar investment will provide 1,500 new jobs to the area. Cooperation with the city truly made this deal possible. There have also been other clear signs that Covington and Newton County are on the radars of more companies seeking to move their businesses here as well. It is very exciting to think that this area has the potential to go from having one of the highest unemployment rates in the state to an up-and-coming community.

As well as good signs in the job market for the area, the community has come together over the past year to hold several events that were successful beyond what I could have imagined. Events such as the Walk of Stars, Chimney Park, Lighting of the Courthouse and the Christmas parade were truly heart-warming and numbers of attendance were the highest they have been in years. Life-time residents of the community have also said to me that they have never seen the square look as beautiful as it has this year. The City of Covington is to thank for all of these accomplishments.

With all of that being said, it has been an incredible experience to serve as the mayor of this town. I am so thankful that my family and I moved here when we did. This title is not something that I take lightly and I continue to work everyday to earn the respect of all the citizens. When I took the oath into office, I walked into an outstanding city and I believe that with the many great assets available the future is even brighter for Covington.

Ronnie Johnston is mayor of the City of Covington.