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New mayor meets with governor
Carter also talks to DOT chair over local road project

COVINGTON - New Covington Mayor Kim Carter met with Gov. Sonny Perdue and Georgia Department of Transportation Chair Gena Abraham last week.

The meetings, arranged by State Sen. John Douglas, R-Social Circle, were mostly an effort to get on state leaders' radar screens, but Carter said she may also have made headway with the DOT on one important local project.

Carter said Abraham was "very receptive" toward moving ahead with a project that has been on the back burner for some time: a state takeover of a section of the ByPass Road running from Ga. Highway 36 north to U.S. Highway 278.

The idea would be to reroute truck traffic from Ga. 36 onto ByPass and then on to U.S. 278, keeping it away from downtown, Carter said.

The city would maintain the stretch between Ga. 36 and downtown Covington.

Carter said the DOT had asked for resurfacing and signalization prior to taking over, but though both requirements have been met, the state has yet to act.

"We were kind of at a stalemate," Carter said.

Abraham asked that aerial photos of the road be e-mailed to her along with the district commissioner for further investigation, Carter said.

"I feel like that was a huge success," she said.

Carter said she didn't broach any other road projects with Abraham, given the huge DOT's funding shortfall.

Carter said Abraham stated that the shortfall is actually much larger than the $7.7 billion that has been widely reported.

With 2,000-plus projects on the state to-do list and about 7,000 waiting in the wings with no funding in the foreseeable future, Carter said she thought it would be "fruitless" to push projects.

Attending the meeting with Carter were Douglas and City Manager Steve Horton, who also attended her meeting two days earlier with Perdue, along with State Rep. Doug Holt, R-Social Circle, Horton, Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce President John Boothby and Covington resident Frank Turner Jr., who sits on the Georgia Department of Community Affairs board.

"It was simply a meet and greet," Carter said of the 15-minute meeting. "So the next time there is a need to call on him or his office, he knows who Covington, Ga., is."

Carter presented the governor with a basket of goodies representing Newton County industries, including Cheerios cereal from General Mills and perfume bottles from Saint-Gobain Desjonqueres, as well as items from all four of the county's higher learning institutions - Georgia Perimeter College, DeKalb Technical College, Troy State University and Oxford College.