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Rockdale vaccine gift card event set for Nov. 6
  • Updated

CONYERS – The Rockdale County Board of Commissioners is hosting a Vaccine Gift Card Giveaway on Saturday, Nov. 6, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Rockdale County Health Department, 985 Taylor St. SW, Conyers. This event is to encourage Rockdale County residents to be vaccinated and protected against the COVID-19 virus.

The event is open to those who are age 12 and over, but only residents 18 years old and older who receive a first dose shot will receive a $50 gift card. Gift cards are for Rockdale County residents only. Proof of I.D. must be shown at check in.

“Forty-four percent of Rockdale County residents are not fully vaccinated while vaccination rates have stagnated in Rockdale County,” according to Post I Commissioner Sherri L. Washington, “The Board of Commissioners is continuing to keep the people first by making investments that ensure the safety and good health of our constituents. The vaccination incentive program is made possible through the American Relief Plan Act funding with support from the Rockdale County Health Department, community organizations and other local public officials. We are encouraging citizens of Rockdale County to become vaccinated and encourage their family members and neighbors to do so as well.”

The Vaccine Gift Card Giveaway event is free and open to the public. Those wishing to participate and book an appointment, may register for their vaccination at: gta-vras.powerappsportals.us/en-US/. For questions or more information, contact the Public Relations Department by email at: publicrelations@rockdalecountyga.gov.


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BRIDGE UPDATE: OSHA investigating bridge collapse on Access Road
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COVINGTON — Work to replace the Yellow River bridge on Access Road was suspended Wednesday pending completion of an investigation by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

One of four spans of the bridge collapsed at about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday as workers began cutting concrete in preparation for replacing the bridge. The collapse killed one worker and seriously injured two others.

According to the Georgia Department of Transportation, a 500-ton crane was brought to the site Tuesday night to remove a pickup truck, an excavator and other equipment that fell to the river below when the bridge span collapsed. Equipment removal was completed at mid-morning Wednesday.

The bridge had been declared deficient by the DOT, and work to replace it began Monday. The road was closed when the incident occurred.

Georgia Bridge and Concrete was awarded a $3.065 million contract in May to reconstruct the bridge and approaches on Access Road. A subcontractor, B&D Concrete Cutting, was working on the bridge when the span collapsed Tuesday.


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Newton commissioners to decide on distribution of ARPA funds
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COVINGTON — Newton County has changed course on distribution of its American Rescue Plan Act funds after some commissioners expressed concerns about how long it is taking to get money to their constituents. In particular, District 3 Commissioner Alana Sanders and District 4 Commissioner J.C. Henderson are interested in helping residents with rent, mortgage or utility assistance.

After lengthy discussion Tuesday night, commissioners agreed unanimously for the board to decide how the funds will be distributed and to create its own policies regarding eligibility in order to expedite the process. A subcommittee will be formed to gather information from other jurisdictions and present a recommendation at a special called meeting on Nov. 1.

County Manager Lloyd Kerr had recommended to commissioners in August that they hire a consultant to handle distribution of the $10,852,481 in ARPA funds the county has received and another $10,852,481 it will receive next year. But commissioners said Tuesday hiring a consultant is taking too long.

Kerr said a request for proposals for a consultant had been posted, and it would take 30 days to finalize the responses. He cautioned commissioners that guidelines from the Treasury Department on eligible uses for the funding had not yet been finalized and said any money used improperly would have to be repaid to the federal government. Kerr also said the county currently does not have enough personnel in-house to administer the program.

“A third party (administrator) will make sure it is objective and all regulations that are out there would be followed and would not be subject to any type of local or political pressure for any type of favoritism, and the program would be administered objectively and fairly,” said Kerr.

Kerr also said 80% of Georgia counties had not yet distributed any of their ARPA funding while awaiting final guidelines from the Treasury Department.

Henderson was especially critical of Kerr’s plan to use a consultant, saying that that there are many people in the community who are losing their homes.

“When are we going to get the help out to the community?” he said.

Henderson suggested Kerr hire an attorney to help set criteria for the program and expedite the process. Henderson made a motion to hire Patrick Jaugstetter, with Jarrard & Davis, who has been acting as county attorney.

Jaugstetter said he is “no more qualified than anybody on the face of the earth” to administer the program, adding that he didn’t think being an attorney was the right qualification for anyone to do the job.

Henderson then made a motion to hire former county attorney Tommy Craig to assist Kerr in expediting distribution of the funds. Craig was fired by the county in 2015 but still represents the Tax Commissioner’s Office and the Sheriff’s Office. This is the second time in a month Henderson has suggested the county rehire Craig in some capacity.

After further discussion, Henderson withdrew his motion in favor of a motion by District 3 Commissioner Sanders for the board to decide how the funds will be distributed and create its own policies regarding eligibility. Henderson seconded her motion, and it was approved unanimously.

Jaugstetter, who has represented Henry County for a number of years, said Henry has used a combination of in-house administration and third-party administration for distribution of ARPA funds, and called it a “massive undertaking.”

He advised that the county have in place guidelines addressing application procedures and eligibility standards.

“I think a little caution is a good thing,” he said.

ARPA funding has been approved for the following uses:

COVID-19 vaccination programs; testing, monitoring and contact tracing; supporting isolation and quarantine; paid sick, family and medical leave to public employees related to COVID-19 compliance; emergency medical response expenses; communication efforts related to COVID-19 vaccination programs and public health orders; purchase of PPE and disinfection of public areas and facilities; prevention and mitigation in congregate living facilities; ventilation improvements in congregate settings, public health facilities or other public facilities; capital investments or adaptations to public facilities such as hospitals or health clinics; enhancement of behavioral and mental health services; addressing disparities in public health outcomes; support for public health workers, food assistance; rent, mortgage or utility assistance; counseling and legal aid to prevent eviction or homelessness; internet access or digital literacy assistance; job training related to a worker’s occupation or level of training impacted by COVID-19; assistance to small businesses and non profits; premium pay to essential workers; aid to impacted industries; rehiring of employees; water pollution control; and stormwater runoff control.

Areas where the ARPA funds cannot be used include legal settlements, tax reductions, matching funds for non-federal dollars, economic or workforce development, general infrastructure, and debt service.


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HOSPITAL HERO: Stephanie Robinson

The Rockdale Citizen and Newton Citizen are shining a spotlight on the Hospital Heroes at Piedmont Rockdale and Piedmont Newton hospitals who are giving their all to provide a high level of essential health care services during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In this edition, we are honoring Stephanie Robinson, clinical manager of a surgical unit, at Piedmont Rockdale Hospital. Here is what her colleagues have to say about working with her:

Stephanie Robinson, clinical manager of a medical surgical unit at Piedmont Rockdale Hospital, is a Hospital Hero. On her day off, she met with a discharged patient to supply them with basic care needs such as lotions and body wash. She noticed that the patient might benefit from some additional assistance and did not hesitate to go out of her way to help. Stephanie’s time and dedication truly exemplify our mission to make a difference in every life we touch. She is a true rockstar!


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Conyers Court Services to open in new location on Scott Street
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CONYERS — The Court Services Division of the Conyers Police Department will open in its new office, the former city hall administration building, at 1184 Scott St. on Thursday, Oct. 21.

The Conyers City Council contracted with the firm Reeves Young in July for renovations to the former city hall complex on Scott Street, now known as the Conyers Public Safety Complex. Five existing buildings within the complex are under renovation to house the following: Court Services, CPD Headquarters, Special Operations, Criminal Investigations Division and Crime Scene Investigation. Court Services is the first building to be completed in the $2 million renovation process within the complex.

“The scheduled completion date for the renovations at the Public Safety Complex is April 2022, and we’re thrilled Reeves Young has made the progress they have so far to have one building ready with the others not far behind,” said Director of Public Works and Transportation Brian Frix, the city staff member overseeing the project. “The parking lot of the complex will also be milled and resurfaced after the first of the year to round out the improvements to the facilities.”

Court Services oversees the administrative functions of the city’s Municipal Court system and probation. Court Services is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-4:45 p.m. More information regarding the Municipal Court schedule and payment options is available at the city’s website, conyersga.com.


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