I’ve lived in this city for almost 10 years now, and I’m still captivated by my decision to move from sunny southern California to the welcoming streets of Covington. But last week, news in this very paper made me question my decision to live here and my perception of the city I thought I knew so well.
The Newton County Board of Commissioners voted not to pursue a license to operate ambulance service, leaving residents in the hands of either a private company or a neighboring entity. Tuesday night, commissioners reversed course after a loud community outcry. Whatever the eventual outcome, Covington must do anything they can to prevent this from happening.
The name Covington, Georgia has long been touted as the “Hollywood of the South.” A recent article in Southern Living magazine touted a city “worlds apart from its sprawling urban neighbor.” Recent local stories bragged about the success of the historic square and quaint community that surrounds it. And in interview after interview with city leaders, Covington is the place to live, work and visit. But you can forget the future success of a film and TV production studio, forget the tourists flocking to walk in the footsteps of a vampire, forget the young families moving in because the home values are beyond compare, if you as a city cannot provide the sense of security that comes with having emergency medical attention moments after you call 911.
Burbank, California was my home for nearly 25 years. And despite a sizeable population difference, these two cities, my old hometown and my current hometown, have much in common. They both are suburbs of major American cities. They both have been featured in film productions big and small. They both are communities that have much more to offer than simply living in the larger county they inhabit. They’re both communities where everyone knows each other and people rarely move away. And lastly, they both have a desire to not just be a suburb – but a destination all their own.
I challenge you Covington: take a cue from Burbank. Acknowledge the reality, but vow to stand up for those who walk your quiet sidewalks, have dinner on your bustling square and send their children to your schools. Understand that a decision to eliminate ambulance service is a threat to us all. It impacts the dozens of employees who will lose their jobs and puts extra strain on our city’s brave firefighters, who are already stretched thin providing aid to Newton County Fire. Covington’s website says you can find the city at the “corner of yesterday and tomorrow.” Please don’t forget about the tomorrow. Because when it’s your baby or mother who needs urgent help, you shouldn’t have to worry the place you call home can’t provide. Johnny Carson always talked of “beautiful downtown Burbank.” I too believe Covington is beautiful, so let’s not let this blemish take that away from us.
Heather Sinclair Wood