CONYERS — Mayor Vince Evans has appointed local citizens to a Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board to ensure that the city is prioritizing diversity and inclusion among its employees and hiring practices, as well as throughout various neighborhoods and hard-to-reach populations within the city limits.
The Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board focuses on three tenets: communication, serving as unity champions, and soliciting and providing feedback. The board will serve as a resource for city government and the community by providing information and communication to facilitate better understanding while celebrating the differences of constituents. The board will serve as unity champions in gathering feedback from citizens, which in turn, will be provided to the city to eliminate and prevent discrimination and bias. Finally, the board will provide feedback to advise the mayor and City Council on best practices for conducting outreach to a diverse community.
“This advisory board was something I had in mind when I ran for mayor and had intended to start at the first of the year, but the pandemic slowed down that plan,” said Evans. “I’m happy to see the board come to fruition with such a connected and involved group of individuals in our community. These folks are willing to reach out to help us better connect city leadership and employees with those we serve to break down barriers and bridge any gaps that may divide us.”
Members of the board are: Muddessar Ahmad, Jennifer Baker, Cheryl Board, Thomas Dean, Rebecca Gibbons, Ronnie Godwin, Justin Kenney and Yvette Morton Williams. The board first met in November and will meet monthly at Conyers City Hall, 901 O’Kelly St.
The staff liaison for the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board is Human Resources Director Casey Duren. For more information, contact him at 770-929-0453 or email@example.com.
CONYERS — Portraits of Joanne P. Caldwell, the first female Rockdale County clerk of Superior and State Courts, and Ruth A. Wilson, the first African-American Rockdale County clerk of Superior and State Courts, were unveiled at the courthouse on Dec. 11.
Caldwell served as clerk from Jan. 1, 1985 to Dec. 31, 2008. Wilson, who succeeded Caldwell as clerk, served from Jan. 1, 2009 to March 31, 2020.
The unveiling was held in the courtroom of Chief Superior Court Judge Robert Mumford, and was attended by the judiciary, staff members of the clerk’s office, and family members.
Jamie Cabe, who was appointed clerk of courts when Wilson retired earlier this year, coordinated the event, but gave credit to Wilson.
“Ruth had the initial idea,” he said. “Almost over a year ago she had made the decision she wanted to honor Joanne Caldwell’s service, so she decided she was going to commission the artist who produced this portrait.
“After that took place, I decided to honor Ruth’s service and did the same thing. I decided to commission the same artist who did this portrait of Ruth. Both portraits will be in the Clerk of Superior Court’s Office, behind the jury passport window.”
Susan Tillman Pelham of Monroe is the artist who painted both portraits.
Caldwell said in 2008 that she was asked to run in 1984 by a group of attorneys. Just as today, Rockdale County was experiencing tremendous change from a mostly rural county to a suburban one. Along with the increase in population, there also came the creation of the Rockdale Judicial Circuit in 1983. Rather than being an outpost for a visiting judge, court in Rockdale was suddenly an ongoing fact of life.
“It was very tough,” she said. “It took me about six months just to stack up papers to put them in order by year to straighten them out. There was no technology in the office at all, and no real procedures set in place.”
Those early days got Caldwell to push county leaders to spend money for a computer system. Today, all departments are connected with one computer system, allowing the District Attorney’s Office to follow cases from an initial arrest report to an indictment. Judges are able to check from their chambers on motions and other court papers filed on cases they are hearing.
And many give Caldwell the credit for making that possible.
“She brought modern technology to the Clerk’s Office to where our Clerk’s Office is rated and ranked as No. 1 in the state for efficiency, effectiveness and customer service,” said now retired Rockdale Superior Court Judge David Irwin in 2008. “She shepherded us into the 21st century with computers and easy access to the files. She’s done an absolutely fabulous job.”
Caldwell said at the unveiling Friday that it was very humbling to have her portrait hung in the Clerk’s Office.
“It’s a wonderful experience,” she said. “I appreciate it so very much. I’m very humbled by the whole experience.”
Wilson was elected to serve as the clerk of Superior and State Courts in 2008 and took office in January 2008. She is the first African-American elected to a constitutional office in Rockdale County.
As a certified clerk of Superior Court, Wilson made significant improvements in the operation and management of the Clerk’s Office that included launching an interactive website, implementation of financial management software, introduction of online payment services, providing internet access to court records, and more.
Over the course of her tenure, Wilson also worked to hire the best people the office could afford and then trained and developed them so that they understood the expectations of the public and were prepared to meet their needs in a “respectful, responsive and responsible manner.”
In her retirement letter sent to Judge Irwin, Wilson said her staff was among the best in the state.
“We have experienced and committed employees who truly care about the public we serve, under sometimes trying circumstances,” Wilson wrote. “I am proud of what we have built and am optimistic that the next clerk will guide the office to even greater success.”
“We have great people. We have gone beyond the basics to exceed expectations, and in many cases to the delight of the public we serve.”
Wilson was delighted Friday to be honored with a portrait.
“What a sweet privilege to be so honored by one’s peers and professional colleagues,” added Wilson. “That is a wonderful way to cap off a career.
“I asked Joanne to send me a picture many years ago, and it has taken this long to get it done, but I’m glad it’s finally done. We’re making history today.”
COVINGTON — The Newton County Board of Commissioners has approved the repaving of sections of 35 roads in the county under the Georgia Department of Transportation’s Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant program.
The county will receive $1.25 million from GDOT for the repaving work. The county is required to provide a 30% match, or $375,275. Those funds will come from 2017 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax collections.
Roads to be repaved under the LMIG program are as follows:
♦ Rocky Plains Road from Ga. Highway 162 to Lummus Road (1.7 miles)
♦ Shenandoah Drive (.7 miles)
♦ Wehunt Road from Covered Bridge Road to the unpaved section (.49 mile)
♦ Pickens Road South from Rocky Plains Road to the cul-de-sac (.48 mile)
♦ Cobb Road from Dixie Road to the end (.26 mile)
♦ Ashford Cove from Ga. Highway 142 to the cul-de-sac (.27 mile)
♦ Little Mill Road from Covered Bridge Road to Wehunt Road (.35 mile)
♦ Sears Road from McGiboney Road to Galloway (.47 mile)
♦ McGiboney Place from McGiboney Road to cul-de-sac (.68 mile)
♦ Dove Landing from Dove Point to cul-de-sac (.18 mile)
♦ Dove Point Circle from Dove Landing to cul-de-sac (.13 mile)
♦ Covey Lane from Doves Nest to cul-de-sac (.08 mile)
♦ Beaver Dam Court from Upper River road to cul-de-sac (.18 mile)
♦ Oak Hill Circle from Oak Hill Road to Oak Hill Circle (1.44 miles)
♦ Windward Drive from Ga. Highway 162 to cul-de-sac (.35 mile)
♦ Slades Mill Lane, from Brown Bridge Road to cul-de-sac (.18 mile)
♦ Hazelhurst Drive from Desota Drive to cul-de-sac (.41 mile)
♦ Lantana Lane from Hazelhurst Drive to Middleton Drive. (.13 mile)
♦ Desota Drive from Middleton Drive to Jericho Drive (.18 mile)
♦ Champions Chase from Hazelhurst Drive to Middleton Drive (.06 mile)
♦ Grayson Lane from Jericho Drive to Desota Drive (.11 mile)
♦ Johnson Road from Duncan Road to Hightower Road (.90 mile)
♦ Northwood Oak Court from Duncan Road to cul-de-sac (.10 mile)
♦ Almon Church Road from the railroad tracks to J.T. Wallace (1.32 miles)
♦ Mountain Trace from Griffin Road to cul-de-sac (.11 mile)
♦ Queensland Lane from Kirkland Road to Green Gables (.61 mile)
♦ Avonlea Drive from Kirkland Road to Green Gables (.63 mile)
♦ Montgomery Court from Avonlea Drive to cul-de-sac (.13 mile)
♦ Green Gables from Queensland Lane to Avnlea Drive (.16 mile)
♦ Bald Rock Road from Mt. Zion Road to Rockdale County line (1 mile)
♦ Fieldcrest Drive from 1-20 Access Road to Geanette Road (.26 mil)
♦ Edgefield Lane from Fieldcrest Drive to cul-de-sac (.1 mile)
♦ South Dina Circle from North Dina Circle to Covington city limits (.22 mile)
♦ South Links Drive from Eagle Drive to Fairway Trail (.41 mile)
♦ Morningside Drive from Lower River Road to Ga. Highway 162 (.76 mile)
COVINGTON — The first four days of school in 2021 for students in Newton County public schools will be all-virtual. Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey made the announcement last week via a letter to parents and families.
According to Fuhrey, Jan. 5-8, 2021 will be in an all-virtual format and/or with pre-developed assignments.
“As we are gearing up for the holidays, we are already excited about having a fresh start in 2021,” said Fuhrey in the communication to parents. “This year has been hard for everyone, and we are continually grateful for our families’ resilience, flexibility, and support as we have navigated these challenging times together.”
Fuhrey said the decision to keep schools closed until Jan. 11 was based on current quarantine guidelines and recommendations. Students who are currently receiving in-person instruction will return to their schools on Jan. 11. Students who are currently learning under the virtual format will continue as usual when school resumes on Jan. 11. Winter break for Newton students and teachers is Dec. 21 through Jan. 1. Jan. 4 is listed as a teacher workday with no school for students.
“We know that many students and their families will gather to celebrate during the holiday season and as a result, may come in close contact with or actually contract the COVID-19 virus,” said Fuhrey. “These extra few days of virtual-only learning will allow for exposure times to occur after the holidays and will minimize risk for students and faculty returning to school following the holiday break.
“It is always our top priority to keep our staff and your children safe as we educate them for the future,” Fuhrey added.
Schools will develop their instructional guidelines and procedures and notify parents of assignments and coursework required during the first four days of school in January. If technology is required, schools will work with parents to provide devices. Parents and/or guardians of in-person learners are welcome to pick-up free breakfast and lunch meals daily from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the nearest school. Virtual learners will continue to receive meals via their assigned bus route stops.
“I want to stress that there are no plans to revert to an all-virtual learning model for the second semester,” said Fuhrey. “Additionally, it is very important that all students participate Jan. 5-8, 2021. Depending on the information you receive from your child’s school, our current in-person students will be required to participate virtually and/or do the coursework assigned during this period of time in order to be marked present. Pre-developed assignments that are provided to students before the break begins must be completed by the time in-person students report to their first day in-person on Jan. 11, 2021.”
Parents with questions or concerns should contact their school administrator for additional details.