Project to sustain county's past

COVINGTON - If you or someone you know can tell a good story about days gone by, you have the chance to make your own mark in history.

The group Friends of Newton History Center is heading up an effort to compile an oral history of the county and is seeking residents who have unique tales and artifacts to offer.

Called "Glimpse of the Past," the project is still in the early stages and organizers are trying to track down residents to contribute. Those who participate will be filmed or recorded as they tell their stories. The hope is to have some type of exhibit in the Newton County History Center, a project still in development.

The histories also could be used on driving tours of the county, featured online or transcribed into a book, said Cheryl Delk, special projects coordinator for the county.

"We are seeking information, not just oral history, but seeking what sort of articles, photos or letters are out there. We're not going to collect them right now, but we just need to know what's out there so we can put together exhibits and make copies of some things," Delk said.

But those who want to participate in the oral history should have more to offer than dates and facts, said Sheryl Christian, chairwoman of Friends of Newton History Center, which is operating under the auspices of the Newton County Historical Society.

"You not only need somebody who knows something, but they need to be able to convey it - people who are good storytellers," she said. "We know high-profile people, but somebody's Aunt Susie may be a great storyteller."

Of particular interest are people with information about the Porterdale Mill, the education system and predominately black communities in the county, Christian said.

Friends of Newton History Center is also seeking sponsors to pay for each oral history at a cost of about $350 for DVD recordings and $200 for audio recordings, Delk said.

Anyone interested in participating or in a sponsorship can call Christian at 770-787-5810 or e-mail swc1221@bellsouth.net.

In related news, Delk reported the architect on the History Center, which will be housed in the Historic Jail on Stallings Street, has been delayed in submitting drawings due to personal issues. Delk said she expected to have the final drawings in the next week, and the project will be placed for bid after that. The center should be open by early 2009, she said.

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