My family lived in Newton County when it was founded in 1821. I am a sixth generation farmer in the Ewing family in Newton County. The citizens of Newton County allowed me the opportunity to serve on the Newton County Board of Commissioners for 12 years until I decided to retire. During my 12 years of service, I attended an average of 187 meetings, events, or functions each year. During those 12 years, I had the opportunity to work with Mr. Tommy Craig and his staff on a regular basis. Mr. Craig and his staff always executed their work in a professional business-like manner and only performed work as directed by the Newton County Board of Commissioners.
Throughout his 38 years of service as Newton County Attorney, Mr. Craig has worked tirelessly for the betterment of Newton County under five different County Commission Chairmen and 28 different District Commissioners. Newton County has achieved positive growth and accomplishments during the past 38 years with Mr. Craig providing legal advice to the County. His knowledge and experience in County government has helped achieve many goals set by the County Commissioners and made a positive impact on the citizens of Newton County.
For example, after sandbags had to be placed in the Alcovy River to provide drinking water during the 1986-1988 drought, Mr. Craig was pivotal in securing the land and the state and the federal permits needed for the Lake Varner Reservoir. To promote an industrial tax base for the County, Mr. Craig served as the lead negotiator for the acquisition and development of the Covington/Newton County Industrial Park. In addition, he led efforts to organize a Four County Joint Development Authority and to acquire, develop, and finance Stanton Springs by addressing and alleviating its concerns about utility availability in Newton County.
During his tenure, Mr. Craig drafted and defended ordinances which have impacted the quality of life in Newton County. As a result of his efforts, Newton County’s impact fee ordinance was upheld by the Georgia Court of Appeals, and over $8.2 million has been collected for transportation, recreation, and library projects. In addition, Mr. Craig drafted ordinances restricting the placement of manufactured homes and prohibiting billboards in Newton County, and he successfully defended these ordinances in state and federal courts.
Mr. Craig has also contributed to the County’s recreation options by taking the lead to identify and acquire properties that are now the Stone Road Recreation Complex, Turner Lake Park, and Denny Dobbs Park. Moreover, in the points mentioned above, and in many other ways, I have never known Mr. Craig to provide Newton County with anything but the most expert and knowledgeable legal advice making a positive impact. I suggest you give up your seat as a sideline critic, get out into the playing field of the County, and have personal visits with long-time Newton County residents who have known Mr. Craig and his family since they moved here over 40 years ago.
In regard to your editorial comments published Jan. 11, 2015, during this era of rapid mass communication and social media, it is unheard of to think that the Chairman and five Commissioners had not heard enough negative comments about Mr. Craig prior to their meeting on Jan. 6, 2015. At the beginning of that meeting, they did not want or need to hear from the same 12 citizens that show up at most commission meetings to make negative comments about their subject of the day. It is evident from your editorial that you have no respect for Mr. Craig as well as no respect for the Chairman and Commissioners who, I remind you, were elected by the majority of the citizens of Newton County to represent them in the transaction of County business. In my opinion, you should at least show respect for the public servant positions these individuals were elected to hold. I would also remind you that the vote by the Commissioners for the reappointment of Tommy Craig to serve as county Attorney was 5-0. Two of the Commissioners who cast their votes for Mr. Craig were reelected by the citizens in November 2014 with strong opposition, and the other Commissioners who also cast their votes in favor of Mr. Craig were elected in 2012 with strong opposition. The people of Newton County have not only already spoken their wishes at the ballot box, but also expressed their belief and trust in the sound judgment of the individual Commissioners whom they elected.
Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts,
T.M. “Mort” Ewing.