Newton County has a number of roads that need improving, but the widening of Salem Road tops the list of road projects that needs to be presented during the state legislative delegation.
The Newton County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a letter addressing the Salem Road widening project as the county's top priority. According to the drafted letter, the county would like to see Salem Road widened to four lanes, including necessary intersection improvements.
In an effort to encourage the General Assembly to move the project forward, BOC chair Keith Ellis said the letter will be sent to state representatives Rick Jeffares, Pam Dickerson, Doug Holt and Andy Welch.
In addition to the Salem Road project, Commissioner J.C. Henderson made the comment that he would also like to see the needs of Crowell Road addressed.
Ellis said that he and County Manager John Middleton were in the process of creating a short-term and long-term list of projects that needed to be done and that the list would include Crowell Road. Ellis said the list will be presented at a board meeting in February.
During the citizens' comments portion of the meeting, Ann Neuhierl, a resident of the Ellington community - which is a community comprised of five subdivisions and located on Brown Bridge Road - said she would like to see roads in her neighborhood repaired.
Neuhierl said last year, a petition with 100 signatures from residents in the neighborhood was presented to the board asking to have their roads repaired. She said the campaign went public as media outlets began to publish and broadcast the community's story; and the county engineer also did a comprehensive report on what it would take to have the roads repaired in her community.
"We're very fortunate that Lanier Sims is our commissioner, because he certainly understands how to fix a road and he's got some great ideas that I would hope he will be able to implement with your help this year," Neuhierl said.
"We were, at one point and time, on the board of commissioners' list of roads to be repaired with an amount assigned," she said. "However, at that meeting, the amount was tabled with a comment made by the former chair [Kathy Morgan] that there was a hope that additional funds and that a larger amount of work would be able to be done; however, nothing ever came of that."
Neuhierl said the swim/tennis community, which has about 750 homes, is only 7 to 10 years old and it that it already needs repairs.
"It's a shame that our roads are crumbling," Neuhierl said. "We really want to be a part of your list."
In other business, Ellis announced that the citizens' comments portion of the meeting would be moved to the beginning of the board meetings.
"I've been asked to do that a number of times during the campaign," Ellis said. "It will be done almost the same way as far as time limits. Some have asked if they could have the opportunity to speak before some of the votes occurred. So we will start that in February."