Meal prices reduced at county jail
Newton to save $35,000

COVINGTON - One local business is doing its part to help the county save money.

Frank's Restaurant Inc., which has the food service contract for the Newton County Detention Center, is voluntarily reducing its meal charge by 5 cents, from $1.75 to $1.70 per plate.

This will result in a $35,000 savings for the county, according to Administrative Officer John Middleton.

"We're doing it to help Newton County out. We just want to help, and we hope everybody else will do the same," said owner Frank Castellana. "We also did it to help the new sheriff out, too, because he's got to cut his budget, too."

While the reduction will be a savings for the county, it is also a cut in income for the Castellana family.

Nevertheless, Castellana said the lower price will remain in effect "as long as they need it." He's putting more family members to work to make up for the loss of income, he said.

The Castellana family volunteered to reduce costs in mid-February after hearing the county was facing a $5 million budget shortfall. Commissioners have since balanced the budget, but more cuts are expected for fiscal year 2010, which begins July 1.

Frank's Food Services Manager Mike Castellana offered to make the reduced pricing retroactive to Feb. 8.

"We hope that you will accept this gesture as our way of helping our county get back on its feet," he said in a letter to commissioners.

Frank's feeds between 500 and 600 people three meals a day at the detention center, Frank Castellana said.

The family-owned business has been in Newton County for more than 30 years and operates Frank's Restaurant on Ga. Highway 212.

Castellana said he didn't want any publicity, but knew the information was a matter of public record.

"I love to give, and I don't like to receive," he said.

Commissioners had high praise for the Castellanas at their Tuesday night meeting, where they approved the cost reduction.

Castellana had asked for the 5 cent increase per plate just last year.

"Five cents was a modest increase last year and now he wants to drop that fee, and he should be thanked for that and commended for that," District 2 Commissioner Earnest Simmons said.

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