COVINGTON - Visitors to Covington, and maybe even those who've been here a while, should be feeling a bit more welcome now.
A new sign proclaiming "Covington and Newton County Welcome You" has been installed at U.S. Highway 278 and Interstate 20, just off exit 90.
Located across from the Department of Transportation's Park and Ride Lot, the sign is similar to one that has been in place for years on Ga. Highway 142.
Keep Covington-Newton Beautiful is responsible for this newest addition to the U.S. Highway 278 corridor.
"When people come into our community there can be some confusion about where you are sometimes. You don't get that feeling of being welcomed and being recognized, so we felt like there was a need there," KCNB Director Connie Waller said. "There has been a need there for quite some time for people to have that Southern hospitality expressed to them."
In fact, KCNB's Business Committee has been working on the project for four years.
"It takes a long time to get permission from the DOT," Waller said.
The sign was paid for through proceeds from the organization's annual Green Getaway Fundraiser.
Landscaping is still lacking, Waller said, adding that the plan is to use xeriscaping, a type of landscaping that requires less watering.
LongHorn Steakhouse of Covington General Manger Michael St. Bernard, chairman of the KCNB Business Committee, has agreed to maintain the site, Waller said.
"It can hopefully be the beginning of some other beautification projects along the 278 area," she said.
The DOT is in charge of maintenance of U.S. 278, but because of a hefty workload, doesn't come out "as often as we would like them to," Covington City Manager Steve Horton said.
The city has recently received permission to take over maintenance of certain portions of the highway, including exits 90 and 92, he said.
"We want to be able to pick up litter and mow medians in places. That doesn't mean we want to do everything the DOT does along 278," he said.
The City Council signed a maintenance contract in November and has yet to receive the DOT's portion, but Horton said a DOT representative told him it was in the mail as of Thursday.
"It ought to make things look better in the long run," he said.
Crystal Tatum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.