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Shoppers will be allowed to carry drinks with them on Shop Local Saturday in Covington
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COVINGTON — Every year, Small Business Saturday, also known as Shop Local Saturday, falls on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, a day after Black Friday, and two days before Cyber Monday. Placing Small Business Saturday on this weekend, which marks the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season, encourages consumers to keep local businesses in mind as they buy gifts.

With that in mind and hoping to entice visitors to shop longer at merchants on and around the Covington Square, the Covington City Council voted 5-1 Nov. 16 to allow shoppers to carry alcoholic beverages from local restaurants with them while they shop.

Covington Community Development Director Trey Sanders said that Shop Local Saturday in Covington will be Saturday, Nov. 28, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sanders said when he talked to local merchants, one of the things they mentioned was wanting to have an open container specialty day.

“There would be no road closures, no outside events, it is just that you can go into a participating restaurant, buy a beverage in a cup and get a wristband and you can take that cup with you as you shop,” Sanders said. “Of course, you can’t carry the cup through the Square park.

“It is something that the merchants think may help keep customers looking around a little more, and clearly the restaurants would welcome the opportunity to sell beverages in the district.”

Mayor Steve Horton asked if all the restaurants that sell alcoholic beverages are required to participate.

Sanders said they are not required to take part.

“If a restaurant doesn’t want to participate, they don’t have to,” he said. “The restaurants have to purchase the cups and wristbands from the city.”

Kenneth Morgan asked if there would be more of a police presence downtown during the event.

Covington Police Chief Stacey Cotton said they would have more officers on patrol in the downtown area during the event.

A motion was made and seconded to approve the open container specialty day for Nov. 28. The vote was 5-1 in favor, with Hawnethia Williams casting the dissenting vote.

Mansfield's Lewis Banks named Georgia Outstanding Young Farmer
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MANSFIELD — Lewis Banks, a farmer with roots deep in Newton County, has been recognized as the 2020 Outstanding Young Farmer by the Georgia County Agents Association.

Banks, a lifelong Newton County resident and graduate of Eastside High School, draws on a farming heritage passed down from his father, Lee Banks, to make a living operating a sustainable farm using the latest research in sustainable practices.

Banks said he feels fortunate to be able to farm for a living, acknowledging that it is difficult to launch a career in agriculture for someone not born into farming.

“It’s all about the right place, the right time, and the people you know,” he said.

Banks operates a 1,000-acre farm in Newton County where crop diversification and rotation are his first line of defense with pest and disease control. For that reason, Banks includes corn, cotton, wheat, sorghum and soybeans as his cash crops.

Banks utilizes no-till and strip tillage for greater soil stewardship. Two hundred acres of his land border the Yellow River, so soil and water conservation are essential. The local soil and water council has noted Banks’ conservation methods of building terraces, reduced tillage and working with state and local environmental agencies. He was named Conservationist of the Year in 2019.

In addition, this year Banks has started a 200-acre organic row crop farm on land that he cleared. By using land that had not been conventionally farmed, Banks said he was able to have the land certified organic immediately rather than waiting the three years normally required to eliminate chemicals from the soil.

Banks also works in collaboration with city and state officials to implement a municipal nutrient management plan for row crop farming on public lands. To ensure soil and waterway protection, Banks follows EPD plans for waste disposal by following their nutrient management plans. To document his environmental protection efforts are working, Banks monitors soil fertility and crop nutrition with tissue analysis.

The purpose of the Outstanding Young Farmers Program is to encourage better urban-rural relations through the understanding of farmers’ endeavors, to develop a further appreciation for farmers’ contributions and achievements, and to inform the agribusiness community of the growing urban awareness of farmers’ importance and impact on America’s economy. Banks was nominated by the UGA Extension Newton County Agricultural and Natural Resources Agent Ashley Best. His application will be judged at the national level and results will be announced in February 2021.

New power substation on Salem Road nears completion
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CONYERS — Construction is nearing completion on a 230/25 kilovolt substation on Salem Road at the intersection with McCalla Road.

According to Terry Buttrill, public affairs director for Georgia Transmission Corp., the substation is a “critical component of the electric transmission system in our efforts to serve demand and improve reliability.”

Buttrill said this substation has been part of Georgia Transmission’s planning for about a decade.

“Our planners work to forecast need in local communities, often many years in advance,” Buttrill said in an email to the Citizen. “In the case of the Fieldstone substation, the need was identified and property purchased more than 10 years ago. This process ensures land is available to construct critical transmission components with no loss of reliability to the community.”

The Fieldstone substation is being constructed on 2.881 acres. Buttrill said the project is being coordinated with plans by the Georgia Department of Transportation to widen Salem Road in Rockdale and Newton counties.

Upon completion of construction, Buttrill said the substation will be energenized once Georgia Power has completed the transmission line that will connect it to the power grid. Substations transform high voltage power that is transmitted across the grid to lower voltage for delivery to Electric Membership Corporations and other distributors through their network of power lines and, ultimately, to consumers.

Georgia Transmission is a not-for-profit electric transmission cooperative that is owned by 38 electric cooperatives in the state, including Snapping Shoals EMC. Georgia Transmission owns more than 3,400 miles of high-voltage transmission lines and more than 750 substations. These facilities deliver power to Georgia’s EMCs serving nearly 70 percent of the state’s population.

As required by Georgia law, Georgia Transmission holds public open house meetings and contacts property owners impacted by new transmission lines that are 1 mile or longer. The law does not require an open house or notification for construction of a power substation.

Sons of Confederate Veterans files appeal in lawsuit over removal of the Confederate monument in Conyers
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CONYERS — The Sons of Confederate Veterans, Major General Joseph Wheeler Camp No. 683 of Conyers has filed a notice of appeal with the Georgia Court of Appeals on the dismissal of a lawsuit against Rockdale County Commission Chair Oz Nesbitt Sr. in reference to the removal of the Confederate Veterans Monument in Conyers on June 30.

The monument honoring Confederate veterans was located on Main Street in Olde Town Conyers between Court Street and Milstead Avenue, next to the Rockdale County Courthouse, and was erected in 1913.

In the midst of protests following the May killing of George Floyd, a number of monuments, memorials and statues across the United States were removed, many of them related to the Civil War. Some were defaced, burned, and/or destroyed by angry mobs, while others have been removed legally, and the push is on to remove more.

Georgia Senate Bill 77 was passed last year to actively protect all government statues and monuments, including prohibiting the removal of Confederate monuments. But the bill also allows a local government seeking to relocate a monument to place it in a “site of similar prominence.”

After hearing calls for the Confederate statue to come down, Nesbitt made an “executive decision” to have the statue removed Tuesday, June 30, at 10 p.m. Nesbitt said he received many emails, texts and calls about the removal of the monument in Conyers and planned to “follow the letter of the law to do things the way they should be done” until he heard of the threats and made the decision to have it removed. The statue is currently being stored in an undisclosed location.

On July 7, the Georgia Division Sons of Confederate Veterans filed a lawsuit and a request for a Temporary Restraining Order naming Nesbitt as the defendant for violation of Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 50-3-1.

On Oct 16, Rockdale County Superior Court Chief Judge David B. Irwin issued an order dismissing the lawsuit. The judge ruled that Nesbitt was protected by “sovereign immunity” at both a personal level and as chairman of the Rockdale County Commission. Irwin also held that the Georgia Division lacked standing to bring the suit.

In filing the Nov. 11 appeal of Irwin’s ruling, attorney T. Kyle King of the law firm Hodges, McEachern and King of Peachtree City, stated that Irwin’s ruling was “contrary to law and the evidence.”

Tony Lamar Holder faces murder charge in shooting death of his wife
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COVINGTON — A Cook Street resident is being held on murder and other charges after he allegedly shot and killed his wife Wednesday night.

According to Capt. Ken Malcom with the Covington Police Department, officers were called to 5123 Cook St. at about 10:40 p.m. Wednesday where they found 63-year-old Carol Denise Holder dead from a gunshot wound.

Police apprehended her husband, Tony Lamar Holder, 48, in the front yard of their home.

Police said a witness reported that Mr. and Mrs. Holder got into an argument that escalated to the point where Tony Holder fired a gun at his wife. Police found her body in a bedroom of the home.

Mrs. Holder’s body was taken to the GBI Crime Lab for autopsy.

Mr. Holder and a witness were taken to the Covington Police Department headquarters where they were interviewed. Mr. Holder reportedly refused to provide a statement and was later taken to the Newton County Detention Center. He has been charged with malice murder, felony murder, possession of a firearm during commission of a crime, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and aggravated assault.