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Conyers working out details for spending American Rescue Plan funds
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CONYERS — City officials intend to use a portion of the $6 million the city will receive in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds to aid residents and small businesses adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The City Council met with city department heads Wednesday to review details about the funding and begin the process of determining how the money can — and will — be used.

Conyers will receive a total of $6,070,580 in two installments. City Finance Director Isabel Rogers said the first transfer of $3,035,290 was received July 8; the second will be paid in 12 months. All of the funds must be expended by Dec. 31, 2024 in areas related to recovery from impacts of the coronavirus. Rogers said the funds will be deposited in a separate account and will not be co-mingled with other city revenues.

While city officials were in agreement that a portion of the funding will be dedicated to direct assistance for residents and small businesses, many details will have to be worked out before any funds can be awarded, including how much of the total will be allocated and what the application process and eligibility requirements will be.

Council members agreed to come up with individual priority lists for use of the funds that they will provide to staff members to analyze for development of a project list for the funds.

Rogers told council members that funds can be used to address seven broad pandemic-related categories — for public health services; to remediate negative economic impacts; to provide services to disproportionately impacted communities; for premium pay for essential workers; to fund water, sewer and broadband infrastructure; to replace lost revenue for government services; and to pay administrative costs related to use of the funds.

Rogers said the funds cannot be applied to the employee pension fund or the city’s financial reserves, to pay debt service, or to reduce the city’s millage rate.

Councilman Cleveland Stroud cautioned against spending the money on programs or projects that would require ongoing funding.

“Let’s tread carefully along these lines so we don’t have something we can’t afford in the future,” he said.

Councilwoman Valyncia Smith said the city needs to coordinate with Rockdale County in efforts to assist residents and businesses so there is no overlap of services.

Rockdale has already announced plans to use the first half of its $17 million in ARPA funds to help citizens recover from the pandemic through community programs, to fund county needs and to reward essential workers.

Live theatre returns to Conyers with 'A Funny Thing Happened ... '
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CONYERS — After a year of virtual performances, The New Depot Players will open its 46th season Thursday with “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.”

“We are so excited to be able to bring live theatre back to Conyers after our long pandemic hiatus,” said Bonnie Marshall, president of The New Depot Players. “With music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, this lively musical farce is a raucous romp through ancient Rome and is sure to provide a light-hearted escape for anyone who is weary of staying home and watching screens for the last year and a half.”

“A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” is a musical farce that opened on Broadway in 1962 and was then released as a motion picture in 1966.

The play chronicles the antics of the crafty slave, Pseudolus (played by David Miller), who struggles to win the hand of a beautiful but slow-witted courtesan for his master in exchange for his freedom. Hannah Celeste plays the beautiful young Philia and Casey Johnson plays Hero, Pseudolus’ naïve, love-struck master. Pseudolus’ task is easier said than done considering Philia is betrothed to the egotistical soldier Miles Gloriosus (Daniel Cook). Based on the plays of Plautus and written by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart, the plot twists and turns with cases of mistaken identity, slamming doors and secrets behind every toga.

Other cast members include Mitchell Witcher (Hysterium), Stephanie Wilkinson (Domina), Wayne Kerr (Senex), Dante Ribeiro (Lycus) and Jeff Roper (Erronius). The Proteans are played by Zolly Brown, Perry McWilliams, and Matthew Spangler. The courteseans are played by Shanelle Amor, Jade Gonzalez, Grace Ann Miller, Kaleigh Miller, and Parker Page Trau. The production is directed by Scott Rousseau with music direction by Mary Lynn Luke and is presented by The New Depot Players in special arrangement with Music Theatre International.

Performance dates are Thursday — Saturday, July 22, 23, 24, 29, 30 and 31 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, July 25 and Aug. 1 at 3 p.m. Performances will take place at the Paula Vaughn Black Box Theatre, 910 Center St., Conyers. Ticket prices are $20 for adults and $10 for children, plus tax. Call 678-374-3224 to reserve will call tickets, or purchase online at thenewdepotplayers.tix.com.

Newton Sheriff's Office continues to investigate shooting incidents
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COVINGTON — Investigators with the Newton County Sheriff’s Office are continuing to search for leads in a spate of shootings over the past two months that left six people wounded.

Public Information Officer Caitlin Jett said investigations into three separate shooting incidents are active and ongoing.

In the first incident, which occurred June 4 at Denny Dobbs Park and left three teens wounded, Jett said the Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone with information to contact Investigator Roop at 678-625-1465 or the NCSO Tip Hotline at 678-625-5007.

In that case, a group of teens had gathered at the park on the night of June 4 when shots rang out. A 15-year-old male and two females, ages 16 and 17, were wounded. All three were expected to recover.

The second and third shooting incidents under investigation took place the weekend of June 25 and 26.

On June 25, three brothers reported they were driving in the area of Fairview Road and Crestfield Circle when a bright red car went around them and someone in the car fired multiple times toward their car.

The 24-year-old driver was hit several times. His brothers managed to get him into the back seat and drove him to Piedmont Rockdale Hospital. From there he was transported via helicopter to an Atlanta hospital. According to the Sheriff’s Office, he is expected to recover.

The two other brothers, ages 20 and 27, who were not injured, were questioned by a deputy at the hospital. According to the Sheriff’s Office report, they were unable to provide a detailed description of the car or of the suspect.

Jett said there is no immediate danger to the community in connection with this incident.

In the third shooting incident, which took place on the night of June 26 in the Jamestown community, the Sheriff’s Office is looking for a male suspect who shot three people at a gathering.

A deputy was called to a Third Avenue address at about 9 p.m. where he observed multiple vehicles leaving the scene.

Upon further investigation, the deputy reported that he found three men ranging in age from 25 to 31 who had been shot — one in the side of the head, one in the chest and the third in the leg. According to the Sheriff’s Office, the victims are expected to recover.

In addition, multiple cars at the scene had been damaged, with some having bullet holes and shattered windows.

Anyone with information on any of these incidents should contact the Newton County Sheriff’s Office Tip Hotline at 678-625-5007.

John King named Covington assistant city manager
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COVINGTON — Covington Transportation Manager John King has been named the new assistant city manager after a two-and-a-half-month search following the resignation of Freddie Morgan in May.

Morgan, who was appointed assistant city manager in October 2020, resigned to accept the same position in his hometown of Cartersville.

Following Morgan’s resignation, the city began a nationwide recruitment effort that yielded 79 applicants, including five internal candidates. Interviews were conducted for the top 12 candidates by two individuals from a panel of six team leaders and two local city/county managers. The top two finalists were strong internal candidates in King and Fire Chief Jeremy Holmes.

After an extensive interview process, city manager Scott Andrews appointed King.

The assistant city manager (ACM) is responsible for helping the city manager lead all city day-to-day operations.

The ACM will take a lead role with addressing citizen concerns, managing projects identified by the city manager and City Council, support department heads, and be a large part of Team Covington’s community engagement efforts.

Andrews is very excited about King’s appointment and the future of Covington.

“John brings a balanced breadth of experience to this critical role as he has served in several different departments over his career,” Andrews said. “John walks the talk and epitomizes what it means to be a servant leader. John is a true team player, has an outstanding work ethic, and is incredibly passionate about serving the residents of Covington.”

“This role allows me to better serve the people of Covington,” King said when asked about his appointment to the position. “It allows me to work alongside a great staff of individuals who have become friends during my career at the city. As a native of Covington, it is a deeply humbling opportunity to be able to work and serve in such a phenomenal place.”

In 2011, King started with Covington in a part-time role with the Covington Municipal Airport. He would later be promoted to a full-time ground operations technician. King became the airport manager in 2017 and promoted to transportation manager in 2020.

King holds a B.S. in aeronautical science and an M.S. in management. He is also certified as a commercial pilot and an EMT.

King is a member of the Rotary Club of Covington (past president), Leadership Newton County (past chairman) and on the board of directors for the Georgia Airports Association. King is a Navy veteran and former Newton County firefighter. In his free time, King enjoys sailing and traveling with his wife Katy.