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Snapping Shoals Annual Meeting on wheels again this year
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CONYERS — It’s time for Snapping Shoals Electric Membership Corp. members to get their registration ticket in hand and make plans to attend the EMC’s 2021 meeting.

This year’s meeting will again be a drive-through event at the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers on Thursday, July 22. Registration opens at 8 a.m. and ends at 11:30 a.m.

Attendees will enter the horse park at the main gate off Centennial Olympic Parkway and follow Rodeo Drive to the registration tent before proceeding to the bucket pickup tent before exiting onto Gees Mill Road.

While the yellow bucket filled with giveaways may be the biggest attraction for most attendees, the annual meeting is also the time for election of members of the EMC’s board of directors. Four district positions are up for re-election this year, all unopposed. They are Lance Harper, District 1, representing Newton, Walton, Morgan and Jasper counties; Anthony Norton, District 2, representing Rockdale County; Walter Johnson, District 3, representing DeKalb County; and Gene Morris, District 4, representing Henry County. Morris is also chairman of the board. All directors will be elected to three-year terms.

In the EMC’s annual report, President and CEO Shaun Mock of McDonough said the cooperative will focus on cooperation among cooperatives in the coming fiscal year, which is one of the seven core principles of EMCs.

“We believe that in order to serve our SSEMC members most effectively, we must support and strengthen the electric cooperative network,” Mock wrote in a letter to members. “Behind the scenes, when mother nature is at her worst, there exists a nationwide mutual-aid support network for the nation’s electric cooperatives. This network enables electric cooperatives to scale up rapidly and restore service much quicker than would be possible if we operated independently.”

According to the EMC’s annual report, Snapping Shoals delivers power to its members over 6,360 miles of overhead and underground lines and services 101,471 electric meters. The EMC serves customers in Newton, Henry, Rockdale, DeKalb, Jasper, Butts and Walton counties.

Mask policies differ by school system
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COVINGTON — Administrators in the Rockdale and Newton county school systems are taking different approaches to mask-wearing when instruction resumes the first week in August.

Rockdale students and teachers, who begin the new school year on Aug. 5, will be required to wear masks. Newton students and teachers, who start the school year on Aug. 2, will not have to wear a mask, although the school system recommends that they do so.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance for mask-wearing in schools earlier this month, saying that fully vaccinated students and staff do not need to wear masks inside school buildings.

“Approximately 44% of our student population is under the age of 12 and not eligible to receive a vaccine,” said Cindy Ball, chief of Strategy and Innovation for the Rockdale school system, in an email response to questions. “We will continue to monitor the local, state and national public health data and trends to inform our decisions regarding our mitigation measures, including wearing masks.”

Superintendent Dr. Terry Oatts posted a message to parents and students on the school system’s Facebook page stating that, despite the school system providing free access to COVID-19 vaccines for those eligible, the 12- to 18-year-old population lags in vaccinations compared to other age groups.

“The combination of the non-availability of COVID-19 vaccines to our kindergarten through sixth-grade students, the under vaccination of our 12-year-old to 18-year-old students, and increasing positivity rates locally and statewide, largely fueled by the predominant Delta Variant of COVID-19, require that we err on the side of caution by working to thwart a potential new surge in infections that disproportionately target our students,” said Oatts.

Ball added that the school system has been conducting a voluntary survey on its website to gather information on vaccination rates among students.

Both school systems are offering students the options of in-person or virtual instruction.

In Newton County, students in grades pre-K through 12 will be able to attend classes in person, while students in grades three through 12 will have the option of self-paced virtual instruction with teacher support.

For grades 3-5, teachers will create instructional modules following district curriculum guidelines. Students in grades 6-12 will have a prepackaged curriculum with access to a certified teacher.

Devices will be provided for all virtual students, but families must provide reliable internet access.

In Rockdale, virtual instruction is offered for grades K-12. Students who participate in the virtual school option will be enrolled through Rockdale Virtual Campus. Under this option, elementary students will have teachers solely designated for virtual classes.

The middle and high school virtual option will be conducted via Rockdale Virtual Campus, which also has designated virtual teachers.

In the meantime, the Rockdale school system is conducting a vaccination event on July 31 where any resident age 12 and older may receive a free COVID-19 vaccine. The event is set for 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Rockdale Career Academy, 1064 Culpepper Drive, Conyers. For more information, visit to pre-register.

Speeding cars, loud music in Nelson Heights concern Covington City Council
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COVINGTON — Loud music and cars speeding down a neighborhood street in Nelson Heights have Covington Council member Hawnethia Williams concerned that the city and police are not doing enough to combat the situation.

Williams expressed her concerns during the City Council meeting on July 6.

Williams said she had received an email from a woman living on Puckett Street in Nelson Heights about cars speeding up and down the road and playing loud music at all hours of the night. Williams said this has been going on for years with nothing being done.

“The neighbors have gotten very disenchanted when I’ve talked to them,” Williams said, “because some of the elderly people have been out there for years and said to the lady who had just moved in three years ago and sent the email that there was no sense in her trying to get the city to do anything, because they’ve been dealing with the issues for so long they know that nothing is going to happen because the city doesn’t care about that area.

“The problem has been for years, and they’ve called in reference to speeding on that street continually. There will be parties in the community not approved by anybody with people from other areas coming out there. Every Friday there are these guys speeding up and down the street starting about 4 p.m. in the afternoon and going until 1 a.m. in the morning with the noise.

“This lady said it is stressful, that it is hard to go to sleep and she has to get up early to go to work, because they are out making noise on the street, speeding up and down, and when they call the police, they come, but nothing changes,” Williams continued. “She says they feel there is no real connection between the city and them like there is in other areas of the city. They feel scared, hopeless and helpless about their conditions.”

Fellow council member Anthony Henderson, who grew up in Nelson Heights and has lived there his whole life except for the last couple of years, said he understands what Williams said, but felt like things have changed.

“From my point of view, the big problem in Nelson Heights is the road conditions,” Henderson said. “For years we’ve been saying we were going to do something this year or next year, and it never happens. We’ve had town hall meetings over there and discussed improving the roads.

“They think they’re not being heard, but they are being heard,” he added. “I think the problem is the timing in getting things done. I think a lot of times we think that once we bring something up, it will happen overnight, but that’s not the case. I say be patient and know that I’m working for you guys out there.”

But Williams disagreed.

“I beg to differ with my colleague, Mr. Henderson,” she said. “It’s been many years, way before you came on the council, that these issues were discussed. When you’re elderly and see nothing happening, it is more than you can understand.”

City Manager Scott Andrews said the city is looking into the issue from both the side of law enforcement and streets. He said he, Henderson and Public Works Director Kevin Sorrow drove around the area the previoius week and will be sharing the paving process with the council soon.

Mayor Steve Horton added that the issue is more than the city can handle on its own.

“I don’t believe the city on its own will be able to solve the problem,” Horton said. “It’s always going to take the community being an active part in what is going on, because if dangerous, reckless behavior is going on and nobody calls in and reports it, then bad things may happen before anybody can get there and do anything about it. So we need to work together.

“I’m hoping that this will be a process that we pull everyone together into it and to try to work and talk about how we going to be able to make it better in a collaborative way. If everybody is just depending on the city, we’re going to let them down. But if we work together, we can achieve results we like to see. I think we need to have town hall meetings in each community. We can achieve our best together.”