Photo by Corinne Nicholson
COVINGTON -- The administrative staff of Newton County Fire Service is getting a chance to stretch its legs these days, thanks to a newly donated office space that is nearly seven times the size of its previous headquarters.
An open house was held at the facility, located at 4136 U.S. Highway 278 in the Covington Professional Park office complex, on Wednesday afternoon. Asked how it compares to the staff's previous location in Fire Station No. 1, Deputy Chief Tim Smith said, "There's no comparison."
Later, Fire Chief Mike Satterfield noted that his staff will no longer have to sit in cramped offices and stand in small hallways to have conversations.
"We were grateful for what we had, but we're even more grateful for all of this," he said.
The 8,100-square-foot building includes a conference room and training room, a kitchen and break room, offices, sitting areas and restrooms. Previously, administrators were confined to a 1,200-square-foot space.
Nine staff members are stationed at the building, including the chief, deputy chief, fire investigators, inspectors and public education staff. It will provide a convenient spot for meetings, training and public education events. All incident reports will also be handled out of the new facility.
"We can grow as the county grows for the future. It may be on hold for a little while, but it will come back, and when it does, we'll be ready," Satterfield said.
Best of all, he said, the building was donated free and clear to the county, and required only a paint touchup and carpet cleaning before it was ready to be occupied. Furniture was purchased out of the fire fund and some was taken from other county facilities where it was not being used.
The donors were local businessman Sam B. Hay Jr. and property co-owners Dennis Taylor of Dennis Taylor and Company Inc. and Doug Langley, CPA, both of Gwinnett.
Hay said he was first approached by Smith about renting the facility, but, "When I told him what the rent was, he got out the door pretty quickly. He didn't tarry long."
After several tenants came and went, and the building was vacant again, Hay said he remembered their conversation and decided to approach Taylor and Langley about donating the building.
"I thought what a wonderful facility it would be for the county," he said.
Satterfield called Hay "a true civic-minded person; a great citizen and human being. We don't know when we would have ever been able to accomplish an office building with things the way they are. I hope it comes back to you 10-fold," he said.