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SK Group to locate first of its kind glass-based semiconductor-part venture in Covington
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COVINGTON — SKC in Covington and several business partners have announced plans to manufacture glass-based substrates for semiconductor chips at SKC’s Covington manufacturing campus on SKC Drive.

Gov. Brian Kemp announced the $473 million first-of-its kind venture Thursday morning, Oct. 28. The project is expected to create more than 400 new jobs in Newton County.

“This announcement is a prime example of Georgia being at the forefront of addressing one of our nation’s most pressing supply chain roadblocks, which has affected so many U.S. manufacturers,” said Kemp. “This decision by SKC speaks not only to the success they have found since first locating in Georgia, but also to the shared commitment we have in creating bold, innovative solutions right here in our state. Georgia’s workforce is trained, skilled and ready to excel in the jobs of the future.”

The new facility will be developed on the SKC property, located at 3000 SKC Drive. The company will primarily be hiring high-tech engineers, skilled technicians, and other semiconductor field-experienced talent. The company expects to ramp up production by late summer 2023.

Dr. Sung Jin Kim, director of New Business Development for SKC, worked in several countries in related projects before becoming a research professor at Georgia Tech from 2012 to 2015. During his time at Tech, Kim helped develop this glass substrate technology through research conducted at the Georgia Tech Packaging Research Center, working with the Center team and global semiconductor supply chain companies.

“SKC strived to develop innovative technology solutions by working with major U.S.-based semiconductor players for many years. The initial scientific research outcomes at Georgia Tech greatly inspired our disruptive, glass-based semiconductor solutions,” said Kim. “Our new technology will be key in enabling utmost performance with minimal power consumptions for high-performance computing, as well as for high-speed communication applications, and this technology is scalable for many other technology needs. Georgia will be a basecamp for SKC’s AI and high-speed data center semiconductor applications.”

Founded in 1976 as a specialty material company, SKC has consistently expanded its business areas through innovation. The company established itself in Newton County in 1996. Since that time, the facility has become one of the major polyester film (PET film) producers in North America, providing high-quality, environmentally friendly service as a base-film market leader. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the facility also pivoted manufacturing to produce face shields and other PPE safety products.

“Since the 1996 headquarters announcement, SK has been an integral business in Newton County’s business mix,” said Lanier Sims, chairman of the Newton County Industrial Development Authority. “SK is a key community partner through their commitment to service and education locally. SK is truly a pioneer that we are honored to have a long-term relationship with in Newton County. The Industrial Development Authority is grateful for this announcement, and we believe this is a continuation of strong partnership and perseverance together.”

“Since its founding, Georgia Tech has been a powerful engine of economic development and technological innovation in our state,” said Ángel Cabrera, president of Georgia Tech. “We’re delighted that Georgia Tech’s investment in packaging research and advanced circuitry over the last 25-30 years has contributed to Georgia’s selection as the best place for the company to manufacture their state-of-the-art semiconductor technology. We look forward to further collaboration so we can work together to lead the region in developing the best engineering talent to work in this crucially important field.”

Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) Director of Korean Investment Yoonie Kim represented the Global Commerce division on this competitive project in partnership with the Newton County Industrial Development Authority, Georgia Power, Georgia Quick Start, the University System of Georgia, and Georgia Tech.

“Georgia Tech is one of the premier research universities in the world and always on the forefront of leading-edge technologies and innovation. This announcement is a prime example of how investments into our academic assets not only drive economic development in Georgia, but can also contribute to finding solutions to global problems,” said Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson. “SKC’s investment in Newton County, Georgia, will directly support the desperately needed domestic manufacturing of semiconductors. It also speaks to the level of commitment Georgia brings to the table and the assets we provide companies seeking success here. To be able to announce that SK Group, one of the first Korean investors in Georgia, is once again choosing to do business here is yet another testament to the thriving relationship between our countries. Congratulations to all of our economic development partners involved.”

Serra Hall, executive director of the Newton Industrial Development Authority, said the success of bringing the SKC expansion to Newton County was a long-time work in progress.

“The dedication and vision by the SK team are unmatched,” said Hall. “We are grateful for their commitment to our community and the state of Georgia. This project has been in the works for many years, and to have the project finally call Covington home is a huge success. SK is incredibly important to the fabric of our community. They are pioneers for education and supportive when the community calls.”

SK Group is one of the largest conglomerates in South Korea, and this facility will be the third major investment by SK Group in the state of Georgia. In addition to the SKC location in Covington, and SK Innovation is investing nearly $2.6 billion in developing two battery manufacturing facilities in Jackson County to supply electric vehicles.

Trick-or-Treat events aplenty in Rockdale, Newton this Halloween

CONYERS — Halloween is here, and while spooky costumes and jack-o-lanterns are lots of fun, the candy may just be the best part of the holiday.

Before heading out to fill up your buckets, here are some safety tips to consider:

♦ Cross the street at corners using traffic signals and crosswalks.

♦ Put your phone down and pay attention.

♦ Stay on sidewalks or paths.

♦ Teach children to make eye contact with drivers before crossing in front of them.

♦ Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape.

♦ Choose face paint instead of masks to avoid obstructing a child’s vision.

♦ Carry glow sticks or flashlights.

In addition to neighborhood trick-or-treating, several area organizations are hosting trunk-or-treat events on Oct. 31 throughout the east metro area.

Conyers First Methodist

Conyers First United Methodist. Church Preschool & Arts Academy will hold a Trunk Or Treat at the church beginning at 6 p.m. The event will feature bounce houses, games, prizes. The church is located at 921 North Main St., Conyers.

Panola Mountain

A Halloween Hike will be held at Panola Mountain State Park starting at 6 p.m. Attendees can bring their own costume, snacks, drinks and music. The hike is free and parking is $5. Panola Mountain is located at 2620 Ga. Highway 155 in Stockbridge.

Believers Fellowship Church

Believers Fellowship Church will host a Trunk Or Treat event from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Bring the family for games and treats. The church is located at 1855 Christian Circle, Conyers.

American Legion Post 32

American Legion Post 32 in Covington will host a Trunk Or Treat at the Legion Hall on Legion Drive. The event will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Living Way Worship Center

Living Way Worship Center will host a safe, fun Trunk or Treat from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The church is located at 4051 Ga. Highway 81, Covington.

Abiding Grace Lutheran Church

Abiding Grace Lutheran Church will hold a Reformation Festival and Trunk Or Treat. Come for a celebration of Lutheran Reformation at the 10:30 a.m. service, followed by a Trunk Or Treat for the children.

The kids can dress up in their costumes and go trunk to trunk to get some goodies for Halloween. You can be a part of the celebration by decorating the trunk of your car too. The church is located at 5500 Ga. Highway 212, Covington.

Gaithers Church

Gaithers Church, 1375 Newton Factory Bridge Road, Covington, will host a family fun night featuring Trunk Or Treat, bounce house, games, s’mores, hot dogs, chips, drinks and lots of candy. The event takes place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Harvest Baptist Church

Harvest Baptist Church, 2075 Ga. Highway 212, Covington, will host a Trunk Or Treat from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. The event offers costumes, candy, prizes, and more.

Man convicted in 2019 murder gets life without parole
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COVINGTON — A Decatur man has been convicted of murder and other serious crimes in connection with the robbery and shooting death of a Covington man in 2019.

Keyondre Bernard Preston was convicted Oct. 21 by a Newton County jury of killing Shelvis Dwayne Hillman, 40. Preston was found guilty of malice murder, felony murder, three counts of armed robbery, three counts of aggravated assault, two counts of burglary and three counts of possession of a firearm during commission of a crime in connection with the incident that occurred on April 3, 2019.

On Tuesday, Preston was sentenced to life without parole plus 15 years

According to authorities, Preston and two other suspects, husband and wife Deandre Bernard Arnold and Letonya Shemeil Arnold, became involved in an argument with Hillman over shots that were fired at a dog at Hillman’s father’s house on Fowler Street. When Hillman later went to a home off Washington Street, the three followed him there and robbed him, with Preston shooting Hillman once in the stomach.

The Arnolds turned themselves in at the Covington Police Department two days later, but Preston, who was 18 at the time, fled. He was arrested about two weeks later at a motel in Cordele in south Georgia.

In addition to the crimes committed in Covington, prosecutors presented evidence at trial that, prior to the murder in Covington, Preston committed two armed robberies in DeKalb County in which he shot at the victims.

He was out on bond in those cases when he committed the murder in Newton County. He also had a juvenile record of robbery.

Rockdale County unveiling proposed 2022 budget at public hearing on Nov. 2
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CONYERS — Rockdale County residents will get their first look and be able to make comments on the proposed 2022 county budget at a public hearing on Tuesday, Nov. 2, at 10 a.m. in the Assembly Hall at 901 Main Street in Conyers.

The current 2021 general fund budget was approved by the Board of Commissioners last December and is $79,511,074. It was a $4.1 million increase over the 2020 budget. The proposed 2022 general fund budget is $83,160,500, an increase of $3.6 million over the 2021 budget. It is not known how much of the $8.8 million of the American Rescue Plan Act funds the county received from the federal government will be included in the 2022 budget.

This will also be the first county budget under the guidance of Finance Director Mark Cook, who came to Rockdale County in June from Oregon following a 10-month search for a new Chief Financial Officer.

The previous CFO, Roselyn Miller, who had been the finance director since 2014, was released from her position in September 2020. Miller had been placed on probation in August 2020 after the BOC learned that they were behind in paperwork detailing how the $3.9 million the county received from the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act was to have been spent.

Deputy Director Bill Vaughn presented the 2021 budget proposal to the BOC.

Residents can also expect, regardless of the amount of the proposed 2022 budget, to see a hike in their property taxes in the fall of 2022. In August, the BOC approved, for the second year in a row, taking the rollback rate, which keeps property taxes at the same rate as they were the year before.

In 2020 the county proposed a millage rate lower than the 2019 millage rate of 20.19, but with increased assessments in property values, it still would have created a 4.19% tax increase. After hearing pleas from residents not to raise their property taxes during the pandemic, the BOC voted to accept the rollback rate of 18.016 mills and a HOST exemption of 70%.

In 2021, the BOC proposed the same millage rate as last year — 18.016 mills, and keeping the HOST exemption at 70%. But with property values again being assessed higher, that rate would have generated 7.94% more tax revenue. Residents again spoke out, with many of them stating that the increased tax revenue was more than residents — especially the elderly — still recovering from the pandemic can afford.

The BOC heard them and approved the rollback rate of 16.69 mills, but But warned that after keeping the taxes the same for the last two years, they do not believe they will be able to do the rollback rate for a third time next year.

Budget hearing dates:

♦ Tuesday, Nov. 2, 10 a.m. — Public hearing relative to the proposed 2022 Appropriations (budget).

♦ Tuesday, Nov. 9, 10 a.m. — First reading of the 2022 Appropriations Ordinance.

♦ Tuesday, Dec. 14, 10 a.m. — Second reading and adoption of the 2022 Appropriations Ordinance.

These meetings will be held in the Assembly Hall located at 901 Main Street in Conyers.

A copy of the proposed 2022 Appropriations Ordinance will be available for inspection on Monday, Nov. 1, on the Rockdale County Website at www.rockdalecountyga.gov.