City adopts crisis system

COVINGTON - The Covington City Council approved Monday night a disaster recovery system that would allow city operations to continue in the event that City Hall is damaged or destroyed.

"If a tornado hit this afternoon and blew City Hall away, we could go tomorrow and access our records and get to work," City Manager Steve Horton said.

The system includes two pieces of hardware that will store information kept in city computers, such as billing records, with one piece of equipment located at City Hall and the other at a remote disaster recovery location well outside city limits, the city's Information Systems Manager Bobby Johnson said.

"Those two pieces of hardware have extensive hard drive space. When data is written to the local site, it is replicated on the disaster recovery site," Johnson explained. "If something happens to this building, there is software that will allow us

to operate in a virtual environment where there is an Internet connection."

So, the city would still be able to bill customers and continue on with business operations as usual, likely within a 24-hour period of the disaster, Johnson said. Only about 30 minutes of data would be lost, he said.

Data from the city's planning and development and engineering departments as well as the Covington Fire Department would also be retained.

The unit on the disaster recovery site will take the place of about 10 servers, which would run upwards of $300,000, he said.

The city will pay VeriStor out of Duluth $96,240 for the recovery system.

Horton said having such a back-up in place is vital.

"I would not recommend us deliberating on this for any great length of time," he told the council. "We're just very fortunate we haven't had some calamity happen, and we're sitting there trying to pick all the pieces up."

The council also approved payment of more than $2.8 million for utility relocation necessary for the widening of Ga. Highway 142 at U.S. Highway 278. The city will move about $1.6 million in water and sewer lines, $600,000 in gas lines and $500,000 in power lines, Horton said.

A spokesperson with the DOT said she could not provide additional information about the project before press time.

Finally, the city council approved the first reading of a hazardous trees ordinance at its Monday night meeting.

The new ordinance will give the city authority to issue a written warning to property owners regarding trees that may be a hazard to city utilities or streets.

If the property owner does not correct the problem within 15 days of the written citation, the city can take the property owner to municipal court for violation of the nuisance ordinance.

"We've always had issues where trees are invading utilities," Horton said, adding that in the past, the city might have issued a verbal warning to the property owner, but a written warning will carry more weight.

The city will retain the right to remove any tree that presents a clear and immediate risk to public safety.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.