COVINGTON — Newton County Sheriff Ezell Brown hosted a ribbon-cutting and open house for the new, expanded West Side Precinct Thursday morning.

Brown said he was “elated” to bring the expanded facility — and services — to the western side of the county, where 65 to 70 percent of county residents live.

The precinct, located at the intersection of Salem and Kirkland roads in the Covington Marketplace shopping center, will also include an annex location for the Newton County Tax Commissioner and Newton County Tax Appraiser, making those services more convenient for west side residents. The Tax Commissioner and Tax Appraiser offices are expected to open in late December or early January.

In addition to the tax offices, the precinct includes a roll call room for road deputies, offices, a conference room, and a community meeting room.

Several speakers took part in the precinct and annex grand opening, including Pastor Thomas Stegall of St. Paul AME Church. Stegall noted that the sheriff had seen the need for change and pursued it.

“If we embrace change, change is a good thing … the person that changes is always looking for a better way to serve,” said Stegall.

Newton County Commission Chairman Marcello Banes said the expanded precinct falls under one of the key strategies of the county’s strategic plan — to provide for a safe and secure community. He thanked the Board of Commissioners for supporting the project.

“We see the benefits of what happens when we work together,” said Banes.

In August 2018 commissioners unanimously approved Brown’s request to enter into a lease with Colliers International for 6,800 square feet of space in the Covington Marketplace shopping center for the expanded precinct

Editor

I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.