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Rezoning requested for truck stop, gas station in eastern Newton County
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COVINGTON — Newton County is being asked to rezone 46 acres in the eastern portion of the county for development of a $15 million truck stop and auto fueling station.

Jackson-based Jones Petroleum and developer William B. Jones have submitted a rezoning request to Newton County Development Services for rezoning of land at the I-20 interchange with Ga. Highway 11. The Georgia State University Newton Campus and the planned Mt. Pleasant mixed-use development are located just south of the development site off Ga. Highway 11.

According to the developer’s letter of intent, Phase 1 of the project would include a 24,500-square-foot building with a convenience store and fuel sales for automobiles and semi-trucks, along with Burger King, Dunkin’ Donuts and Subway fast food restaurants. The plan calls for 20 multi-product fuel dispensers for autos, eight fueling lanes for semi-trucks, and certified CAT Scales for semis. The convenience store site is designed with 153 parking spaces for automobiles. There would also be 10 parking spaces for RVs, buses and commercial trucks and drive through lanes for the Burger King and Dunkin Donuts. The semi-truck parking lot would have 120 parking spaces.

Phase 2 of the project, listed as future development, would include big box retail space with nine individual tenant spaces.

The developer is asking that the land be rezoned from AR (agricultural residential) to CH (highway commercial), along with a conditional use permit. Adjacent uses are agricultural, commercial and institutional. If the rezoning is approved, the developer estimates a completion date for Phase 1 of December 2021, with overall completion by December 2023.

District 1 Commissioner Stan Edwards, in whose district the development would be built, compared it with the Jones Petroleum travel center on I-75 in Jackson.

“I’ve seen detailed pictures of it,” said Edwards. “It’s a very nice-looking, well-kept establishment.” However, added Edwards, he is not in favor of the project, has spoken with residents of District 1 and adjacent District 5, and has found no support for the development.

“I’ve come to the conclusion it’s not going to be a good fit for the college or village-type atmosphere we are trying to create down that way,” he said.

Edwards said he would not be opposed to a convenience center and gas station at the site, something that would be compatible with existing uses. A BP gas station and convenience store are located directly across Highway 11 from the development site.

Edwards also said he has concerns about human trafficking, drugs and strain on law enforcement resources that could result from the development. Traffic is also an issue, he said.

“I don’t want to put any more truck traffic on (Highway) 11 than we have right now,” he said, noting that Ga. Highway 11 is used by trucks to travel between I-75 and I-20 without going through Atlanta. “ … the trucks that come through Mansfield speeding — it’s alarming to say the least,” he said.

The developer estimates that the truck stop and retail center will generate 11,233 daily vehicle trips during peak hours from 7:19 a.m. to 8:55 p.m. Project plans call for two entrances on Ga. Highway 11, one right in/right out and one full access. A separate traffic impact study will be included as part of the application addressing concerns regarding current traffic operations and future conditions as a result of the travel center.

The developer submitted the project to the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission on Oct. 5 for review as a development of regional impact, which is defined as a large-scale development likely to have regional effects beyond the local government jurisdiction in which it is located. The review process is designed to improve communication between affected governments and to provide a means of determining and assessing potential impacts. Ultimately, Newton County will have the final say on the rezoning needed for the project to move forward.

There is no date set for the rezoning to come before the Board of Commissioners. Edwards said it could be before the end of the year, but he said it would more likely be next year.


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How a Conyers survivor beat breast cancer twice
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CONYERS – Working at the registration desk in the Breast Imaging Center at Piedmont Rockdale Hospital, Sabrina Holmes gets to wear a lot of pink scrub tops. As a two-time breast cancer survivor herself, Holmes wears those pink scrub tops to celebrate life and inspire hope.

“I am a two-time survivor, my sister is a survivor, and my aunt is a two-time survivor”, said Holmes. “I have other family members that have been diagnosed with breast cancer. It is a disease I am all too familiar with.”

Holmes was first diagnosed in March 2016 after an abnormal spot was found in her left breast during her annual screening mammogram. A biopsy determined that Holmes had stage zero ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) and she underwent a single mastectomy. Holmes was relieved and grateful; the cancer was found early and her treatment relatively easy with the exception of recovering from surgery.

Holmes settled back into her normal routine until, almost a year later in March 2017, she felt something hard and painful in her chest.

“I was experiencing a sharp pain and there was a spot that felt like a rock,” said Holmes. “I talked to the doctor in the mammography department, and he suggested I talk to my primary care physician right away.”

Holmes had a breast ultrasound and a biopsy on her left breast, the same breast she had had removed a year prior. Almost one year to the day she had first been diagnosed with breast cancer, Holmes received the news that the cancer was back. It was stage one but had not metastasized.

“This time, the cancer was more invasive,” said Holmes. “So, the treatment was more invasive, too. I underwent chemotherapy, radiation, and another surgery during which I decided to also have my right breast removed.”

Throughout the course of diagnosis and treatment, Holmes was determined to remain positive. She said that keeping her stress levels down was helpful in staying positive. Above all, her complete faith in God kept her moving forward and using her journey to help others.

“I’m grateful because my cancers were found early,” said Holmes. “And, I am thankful that I can share my story because not everyone gets to share their story.”

Holmes hopes that she can help others going through cancer and has started a cancer care ministry at her church. She also offers advice to women reminding them to get an annual mammogram and do your monthly breast exams.

“Know your body,” said Holmes when asked what advice she would give to others. “Your body will tell you what’s wrong. When you see a doctor, ask questions. And, if you are diagnosed with breast cancer or any cancer, join a good support group. It is amazing the strength we get from others.”

If you would like more information on breast health services at Piedmont Rockdale Hospital, visit www.piedmont.org/rockdale.


Six things to know about stage zero breast cancer

COVINGTON — Many people have never heard of stage zero breast cancer, but data from Breastcancer.org states that over 48,000 cases on non-invasive breast cancer cases will be diagnosed in women this year. The stage of cancer is a description that indicates the size of the tumor and whether or not it has spread from where the cancer cells have been found. It also helps your medical team develop an effective treatment plan just for you.

Tamica White, M.D., a breast surgeon at Piedmont Rockdale Hospital, thinks it is important for women to be familiar with stage zero breast cancer and how to treat it.

Stage zero breast cancer is when cancer cells are present in one or more of the breast ducts but have not spread to other areas of the breast, lymph nodes or other parts of the body.

According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation Inc., there are three possible types of stage zero breast cancer; Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS), and Paget disease of the nipple.

Although stage zero breast cancer is considered non-invasive or pre-invasive, patients still need to obtain treatment to prevent the cancer from becoming invasive.

Over one-third of women diagnosed with stage zero breast cancer will go on to develop invasive breast cancer.

Current treatment options include removal of the breast tissue that involves the cancer, radiation therapy, or a mastectomy, which removes the entire breast tissue.

While a diagnosis of stage zero breast cancer is serious and may cause anxiety, with treatment, the five-year survival rate is very high.

“As always, women are urged to perform self-exams and report any changes or irregularities to their doctor, but with stage zero there would likely be no palpable lump,” said Dr. White. “That’s why it’s important for women to have routine mammograms performed annually.”

For more information on cancer services at Piedmont Rockdale, visit www.piedmont.org/cancer.


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New Rockdale County Technology Services Director has security background
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CONYERS — Following a cyber attack in February that caused the temporary shutdown of Rockdale Water Resources billing and court service computers, Rockdale County’s new director of Technology Services has a strong government background in both technology and security.

Margaret A. Moore-Jackson was unanimously approved by the Board of Commissioners as the new director of Technology Services at the Oct. 13 meeting. She takes the place of Al Yelverton, who resigned in July along with Deputy Director Maurice Ficklin.

Under Yelverton and Ficklin, Rockdale County received technology and security upgrades, including numerous new online services for citizens. They also managed the recovery of the county’s systems following the cyber attack in February.

Moore-Jackson lives in Conyers and has more than 28 years of experience in federal law enforcement and auditing, with over 17 years of supervisory/managerial experience.

Moore-Jackson graduated magna cum laude from Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Ala., in 1991 with a bachelor of science degree. She earned a master’s in public administration from Columbus State University in Columbus in 2003, and was named a senior executive fellow at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., in 2006.

Moore-Jackson began her career in law enforcement in 1991, working for the Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General, Auditing Division in Atlanta as a program analyst. In 1997 she moved over to the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General, Office of Investigations in Atlanta as a criminal investigator/special agent. In 2003 she became the regional assistant special agent-in-charge of the Enforcement/Operations Division in Baltimore, Md., and became assistant special agent-in-charge in 2004. She also worked as special agent-in-charge in Philadelphia and assistant special agent-in-charge in Atlanta before becoming special agent-in-charge of the Atlanta Field Division in 2015, holding that position until her retirement in November 2018.

Her technical experience includes information technology and computer forensics, with managerial experience in the electronic crimes team, data analysis team, and the computer research and inquiries team.

Commission Chair Oz Nesbitt Sr. welcomed Moore-Jackson to the Rockdale County team and credited county staff members for their work during the selection process.

“Hats off to our interim director, Sue Sanders, who worked very closely with director Toni Holmes and her staff in Talent Management during this selection process,” Nesbitt said. “We’re always super excited when we can find that talent right here in our own backyard.”

Post 1 Commissioner Sherri Washington said that Moore-Jackson has her work cut out for her.

“You have a serious task ahead of you, but I know you have great fortitude and that you will do great things for this county,” Washington said. “I look forward to working with you.”

Post 2 Commissioner Doreen Williams added that Moore-Jackson definitely has the experience Rockdale County was seeking.

“Your resume goes on and on with all of the managerial activities you’ve done with technology and security,” Williams said. “Your background is in both areas, which is critical, really, to this particular time in our lives, where our technology is so critical to what we’re doing, and so much in need of security to make sure it is done in a safe and secure way.”