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Newton considering longer-term moratorium on some single-family development
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COVINGTON — A long-term moratorium on development of single-family housing on new lots of less than 2 acres is under consideration by the Newton County Board of Commissioners.

The board heard a presentation from Development Services Director Judy Johnson at a Sept. 14 work session in which Johnson recommended the moratorium in order to slow residential development while the county updates its Comprehensive Land Use Plan. The moratorium would not apply to construction on existing lots less than 2 acres.

The county has had a moratorium on all new single-family developments since January. The moratorium, which has been extended twice, is set to expire Sept. 21.

A vote on the proposed longer-term moratorium is expected at the BOC’s regular meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 22, at the Historic Courthouse.

“This moratorium would be for a sufficient amount of time while we are in the planning process for our Comprehensive Plan and Future Lane Use Map update to show us how our areas have changed, are changing, what needs are in the areas of change, does what we have in place guide where we think development should be occurring,” she said.

Johnson said the moratorium would not stop all residential development, but it would allow the county to address density issues. In addition, she said, it will give the county time to analyze where growth should take place, taking into consideration the availability of public safety services, schools and infrastructure. She recommended the moratorium be put in place for nine months.

Commissioners in District 1, District 3 and District 5 expressed support for a residential moratorium on lots less than 2 acres. Commissioner Alana Sanders, District 3, said she believes the lot size restriction would help reduce density in her district on the western side of the county, where residential development has been among the heaviest.

Johnson noted that subdivisions that are already platted would not be affected by the lot size moratorium, a fact that she said could encourage developers to build out neighborhoods where vacant lots remain.

County Manager Lloyd Kerr said the moratorium could move the type of residential development in the county away from tract builders and toward custom-building, which would result in higher quality homes that would attract executive level buyers.

Commissioners also discussed an exception to the moratorium that would allow property owners to subdivide larger tracts to build homes for family members.

Johnson said Development Services will hold public hearings in each district in the county throughout the process of updating the Comprehensive Land Use Plan.


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Rockdale Miracle League kicks off fall season

CONYERS — The Miracle League of Rockdale kicked off its fall season Sept. 11 with two games at Legion Fields. The first pitch was thrown by Tom Carden, adjutant general of the Georgia Department of Defense and a member of the Homeland Security board.

In addition to games between the Rangers and the Pirates and the Braves and the Angels, the Miracle League honored the Georgia National Guard, local law enforcement, EMTS and other first responders in memory of the terrorist attacks on 9/11.

The Rockdale Miracle League currently has 50 players on four teams. The teams will play games Fridays and Saturdays for six weekends in the fall. The league also has a springs season.

Miracle League baseball began in Conyers in 1998 when the Rockdale Youth Baseball Association invited children with unique abilities to play on a typical baseball field. That first season, on a grass and dirt field, 140 players came out to play baseball.

By the second season, a new type of field was developed just for Miracle League athlete — a custom-designed field with a cushioned, rubberized surface — making it easier for special needs players to get from base to base.

Today there are more than 240 Miracle League organizations in the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada serving more than 200,000 children and adults with unique abilities.

For more photos of the Miracle League’s opening games, visit the gallery at www.rockdalenewtoncitizen.com.


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HOSPITAL HERO: Megan Mickel

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 Megan Mickel, ICU nurse, at Piedmont Newton Hospital. Here are some thoughts on Hospital Hero Megan shared by her co-workers at Piedmont Newton:

“Megan started in the ICU four months ago as a brand new nurse. Even though she entered nursing at a very difficult time in health care, she continues to work each day with a great attitude no matter what is thrown her way. Megan is such a joy to be around and is always willing to go the extra mile for her patients. She is a great team player and helps everyone no matter how busy she is. Her fellow ICU nurses are super proud of her and her work ethic!”

— Stevanie Reynolds, director of nursing

“I have had the pleasure to work with Megan for the last four months on night shift. She is such a joy to be around. ... She has handled ICU nursing during a pandemic very well. She always asks questions and wants to make sure she is learning correctly! ... I look forward to working beside her!”

— Jennifer Killman, ICU charge nurse, night shift


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Newton School System names top three finalists for Teacher of the Year
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The Newton County School System and the Newton County Chamber of Commerce on Thursday announced the top three finalists for Newton County’s 2022 Teacher of the Year award.

After reading essays submitted by each of the school system’s 23 Teachers of the Year, a panel of judges spent two days interviewing each of the teachers. The three candidates earning the highest point totals and entering the final round of the judging are, in alphabetical order: Samantha Greco, West Newton Elementary School; Clayton Hammonds, Veterans Memorial Middle School; and DeAnna O’Brien, Eastside High School.

Newton County School System Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey surprised each of the finalists with flowers and balloons at school on Thursday to make the special announcement that they were finalists for Newton County Teacher of the Year. Family members of the teachers were also included in the surprise visits.

On Tuesday, Sept. 21, the Teacher of the Year selection committee will observe each of the three finalists teach in the classroom setting. The person with the highest combined score on the essay, interview, and observation will be announced as the 2022 Newton County Teacher of the Year during a special ceremony at Newton High School on Thursday, Sept. 30 at 4:45 p.m.

Samantha Greco is a fifth-grade teacher at West Newton Elementary School. She began her teaching career at West Newton in 2007 and has been teaching fourth and fifth grade at the school ever since. Greco earned her bachelor of arts in Spanish from the Defense Language Institute in 1998 and her bachelor of arts in Biblical Education from Beaulah Heights University in 2007. Greco also holds a gifted endorsement.

“Being named a finalist for Teacher of the Year is an honor,” said Greco. “I have loved and lived in Newton County for years. I have been here in the county school system for almost 15 years. To be able to represent Newton County is an honor because these are our future leaders. To be able to pour into them on a daily basis is a dream and Newton County has offered that opportunity to me for the last 15 years.”

Clayton Hammonds is a sixth-grade science teacher at Veterans Memorial Middle School A graduate of Newton High School, he joined the Newton County School System team in 2018 at Veterans Memorial and has been teaching science at the school ever since. He previously taught at Valdosta Middle School for one year. Hammonds earned his bachelor of science in Middle Grades Education from Valdosta State in 2017 and his master in education from Walden University in 2019. He is on track to earn his education specialist in Teacher Leadership from Thomas University in 2023.

“I am speechless,” said Hammonds when he was informed that he was a finalist for Teacher of the Year. “I think it’s amazing and it’s an honor and I feel honored. I just come in here and do what I do. I didn’t really think people were noticing, but apparently they do. I just have no words.”

DeAnna O’Brien is a special education teacher at Eastside High School. She previously taught in both Morgan County and Rockdale County School System. O’Brien also taught hospital bound patients with traumatic brain injuries at Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital. She earned her bachelor of science in Special Education from Georgia Southern in 1995 and is currently working on her master’s in education from the same institution.

“I just want to say how honored I am to be selected as a finalist for Newton County School System’s Teacher of the Year,” said O’Brien. “The people that I work with here at Eastside and all of my fellow teachers here in Newton County are amazing, amazing teachers and I just want to say thank you for recognizing the work that we all do and thank you for recognizing the successes of our students because that is what makes all of us teachers of the year.”

“It always gives me great pleasure to recognize and honor our outstanding teachers of the year,” said Fuhrey. “To have been selected as one of the top three candidates is certainly an exceptional honor. Congratulations to each of these extraordinary educators! Individually and collectively, they represent all that is special with regard to teaching and learning. I am proud of their dedication, expertise, and creativity, as each of them impact their students far greater than they know.”

The Newton County School System and the Newton County Chamber of Commerce extended special thanks to the Chamber Champions, sponsors of the 2022 Teacher of the Year program: Abbey Hospice; AT&T; BB&T; Beaver Manufacturing; Bridgestone Golf; BD; City of Covington; Covington Ford; The Covington News; Facebook; General Mills; GPTC; Ginn Motor Company; High Priority Plumbing; MAU; Newton County Government; Newton Federal Bank; Newton County Water & Sewer; Nisshinbo Automotive; Northside; Oxford College; Piedmont Newton; Pinnacle Bank; Qualified Staffing; SKC, Inc.; Snapping Shoals EMC; SteelCo; Sunbelt Builders, Inc.; Synovus; Takeda; Tread Technologies (Michelin); United Bank of Covington; The Center; Newton College & Career Academy; Edgar Law Firm, and Newton County IDA.


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