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Revenue sharing agreement for Stanton Springs North to include Social Circle
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COVINGTON — Newton County has signed off on an updated revenue sharing agreement that will provide Social Circle with a portion of the revenue generated by Stanton Springs North, where it has been speculated that electric vehicle maker Rivian may develop a massive assembly plant.

The new agreement, proposed by the Joint Development Authority of Jasper, Morgan, Newton and Walton counties, addresses revenue that will come from Stanton Springs North, a sister development of Stanton Springs. Takeda and a Facebook Data Center are already located in the original Stanton Springs, and a second data center is under construction.

Since most of the property in Stanton Springs North is located in the city limits of Social Circle, the new revenue sharing agreement allocates 5% of total revenues to Social Circle. The remaining revenue will be divided among Newton (36.625%), Walton (36.625%), Morgan (14.25%) and Jasper (9.5%) counties. The agreement stipulates that Social Circle will share its proceeds with its school district based on its millage rate and that the city will not receive a share of any proceeds from the sale of land in Stanton Springs North.

Furthermore, Social Circle will not receive any proceeds from the original Stanton Springs development. Under the Stanton Springs agreement, all land sale proceeds, property taxes and payments in lieu taxes (PILOT) generated in Stanton Springs are distributed first to pay JDA operating expenses and debt, and then divided between the counties based on their initial investment in Stanton Springs as follows:

Jasper County — 10%

Morgan County — 15%

Newton County — 37.5%

Walton County — 37.5%

With the majority of land in the original Stanton Springs business park either developed or sold, the JDA is looking to Stanton Springs North to continue its economic development efforts. The JDA acquired Stanton Springs North, a 665-acre tract north of I-20, this spring for $23.9 million. The property lies within Social Circle and Morgan County.

The new revenue sharing agreement has been adopted by 19 different jurisdictions in the four counties.


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Keep your live Christmas tree healthy through the season
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COVINGTON — O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, how lovely are thy branches …

Keeping those branches healthy through the holidays requires care and watering of your live Christmas tree. The Georgia Christmas Tree Association has some advice on selecting a size and keeping the tree nice and green through the holiday season.

Choosing a location

First, decide where you want to put your tree. What kind of space do you have; for example what’s your ceiling height?

Next, ensure electrical outlets should be nearby and place the tree away from heat sources such as wood stoves, fire places, heating vents and sunlight.

Selecting a tree

Be sure the tree you pick will fit in your home. Trees usually look a lot smaller in the field or on a lot.

If you’re cutting down your own tree, separate the tree from the stump without splitting the trunk or peeling the bark.

At home

Once you’ve got your tree at home, place it in a stand with a large water bowl. The GACTA recommends a 10-quart bowl at the minimum. A typical tree will drink a gallon or more of water a day, especially within the first week. Don’t let the water level get below the bottom of the trunk.

If your tree has been cut for over an hour and not in water, trim about half an inch off the bottom before placing in a stand. Doing so will allow the tree to take up water better. Be sure to keep the tree watered at all times.

Area tree farms

♦ Berry’s Tree Farm

70 Mt. Tabor Road in Covington

www.berrystreefarm.com

♦ Sugarland Christmas Trees

3933 Ga. Highway 155 N in Stockbridge

www.sugarlandtreefarm.com

♦ Yule Forest Christmas Tree Farm

3565 Ga. Highway 155 N in Stockbridge

www.yuleforest.com

♦ Worthington Tree Farm

145 Twin Oaks Drive in Hampton

www.georgiachristmastrees.com

♦ Homestead Christmas Tree Farm

3850 Ga. Highway 81 in Hampton

www.christmastreehome.com

♦ Minter’s Farm

283 Hills Bridge Road in Fayetteville

www.mintersfarm.com

♦ Wee Three Trees

138 Arnold Road in Fayetteville

678-458-8051

{div}♦ Orchard Hill Tree Farm

2414 Macon Road in Griffin

www.gacta.com/farms/orchard-hill-tree-farm-5/

♦ Brooks Christmas Tree Farm

352 Mask Road in Brooks

678-850-5283

For more information, visit www.gacta.com.


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Covington Housing Authority bond proposals draw ire of Baggett after no one from CHA shows up
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COVINGTON — Still smarting over the backlash she and other Covington City Council members received after the Covington Housing Authority provided $75,000 to fund a developer’s renderings of a proposed renovation of the Conyers Street Gym and Baker Field for multi-family residential without the knowledge of the city, council member Fleeta Baggett was in no mood to approve two proposed multi-million dollar tax-exempt bonds that would go through the CHA. No one from the Housing Authority attended the Nov. 15 meeting where the request was presented.

The first proposal for a resolution approving the issuance of $22 million in CHA bonds to purchase and rehabilitate the Magnolia Heights apartment complex was approved by a 4-2 vote, with Baggett and Don Floyd opposed. The second proposal for $23 million in CHA bonds to build rental homes at The Reserve at Jackson Highway was tabled until Jan. 18, 2022, with the urging that someone from the Housing Authority be at that meeting.

Ambling Covington LP was seeking a resolution for the issuance of $22 million in tax-exempt multi-family housing revenue bonds by the CHA for Ambling’s benefit for the acquisition and rehabilitation of the 200-unit Magnolia Heights apartment complex at 10156 Magnolia Heights Circle.

Bond counsel Allison Dyer, of Holland & Knight LLP in Atlanta, said the Housing Authority held a public hearing on the bond issuance. For the purpose of internal revenue code requirements, the city must approve the issuance of the bonds by the authority, but is not responsible to repay the bonds. She added that the Housing Authority is simply facilitating the issuance of the bonds and receiving a fee for that. The property will not become part of the Housing Authority.

An Ambling representative said the renovation will begin in February and take 12-18 months to complete. He said on average the rents will remain about the same and added that they plan to restrict 100% of the apartments as affordable.

“You want our approval on $22 million in bonds and no one from the Housing Authority is here?” Baggett asked. “They didn’t feel the need to show up?”

The representative apologized for the authority saying he was just hearing about it.

“We had certainly hoped that the Housing Authority would be here tonight,” he said. “We and our finance team are bringing the $22 million, loaning it to the Housing Authority on a non-recourse basis, contingent only upon the property’s repayment of those funds to the Housing Authority. The Housing Authority is acting more as a conduit. There is no obligation to the city. We’re not requesting any city funds.”

Baggett made a motion to deny the bond, and Don Floyd seconded it.

Baggett explained her reasons for the denial.

“We’ve not been given clear parameters by the Housing Authority lately,” she said. “I’m very uncomfortable with this. How many more projects do they have going on? We’re just now hearing of this. We had the whole Baker Field debacle that went on a month ago. Now we’re turning around and Item 10 is a whole other thing that is going on, and no one can show up? I’m a hard no.”

The vote was called for and the motion to deny was defeated 2-4.

After further discussion, Councilman Anthony Henderson made a motion to approve the resolution and Hawnethia Williams seconded it. The vote was 4-2 in favor, with Baggett and Floyd casting the dissenting votes.

Item 10 was a request for approval of a resolution for the issuance of $23 million in tax-exempt multi-family housing revenue bonds by the CHA for The Reserve at Jackson Highway LP, 9155 SW Jackson Highway. The proposal is to build 72 single-family homes and 30 townhomes. All would be long-term rental homes.

Keith Bauer, a representative of the developer, said their request was much the same as Ambling’s, and they would have liked for the Housing Authority to be represented at the meeting.

“They were very excited about our project,” said Bauer. “We worked with them on it.”

Baggett noted that when the council agreed on the land sale for this project, they were told these were going to be single-family homes that would be sold and not rented.

Bauer said they will be affordable housing under the terms of the bond issue.

“They will start off as long-term rentals,” he said. “Our exit strategy would be to sell them as affordable housing. We’re working with the Housing Authority on the financing of this.”

Councilman Kenneth Morgan noted that the council has approved things like this all the time without the Housing Authority being there.

Baggett replied that they “got blistered” (on Baker Field) and it was not going to happen again.

“I’m sitting here with four pages of stuff that the Housing Authority owns, that I can’t even begin to tell you when I started digging into this what I found,” she said. “And either we need to table it or they need to show up, because I’m not willing to put my name on any of this stuff. And saying that they’re not here is not an excuse. If it’s important enough to put their name on the bond, it’s important enough for them to show up for $23 million.”

Mayor Steve Horton said since there is some question as to what was originally approved and what is now being discussed, it might make sense to table it to “gather facts and be able to talk about it.”

Bauer had no issue with the council tabling the request and said his group is willing to work with the city.

Morgan made a motion to table the request until Jan. 18, 2022 “and hopefully somebody from the Housing Authority can also be here.” Henderson seconded the motion and it was approved, 5-1, with Baggett dissenting.


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Rockdale Jail escapee recaptured after 12 hours on the lam
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CONYERS — An inmate who escaped from the Rockdale County Jail on Saturday, Nov. 27 was recaptured a few hours later without incident.

According to to the Rockdale Sheriff’s Office, Bryan Lee Grantham was working in the jail kitchen assisting with breakfast preparations when he escaped. His absence was discovered at 4:50 a.m. during an inmate count.

The Sheriff’s Office posted an alert on its Facebook page on Saturday afternoon, noting that a black pickup truck, possibly a Ford Ranger or Toyota Tundra, was observed near the Sheriff’s Office at the time of Grantham’s escape.

Grantham, 35, who is from Conyers, was recaptured about 12 hours after his escape at a residence in Rockdale County.

Grantham, who has an arrest record dating back to at least 2013, was being held at the jail on violation of probation and failure to appear charges.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, anyone who aided Grantham in his escape will face charges.


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