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Newton County Recreation Commission gets new offices

Staff Photo: Erin EvansThis two-story house near the entrance of Turner Lake Complex has been converted to office space for the Newton County Recreation Commission.

Staff Photo: Erin EvansThis two-story house near the entrance of Turner Lake Complex has been converted to office space for the Newton County Recreation Commission.

COVINGTON -- A two-story house near the entrance of Turner Lake Complex is now serving as office and meeting space for the Newton County Recreation Commission.

The commission purchased about an acre of property, including the house and two detached buildings, earlier this year. The Recreation Commission board will hold its monthly meetings there and several department staff members have set up office, including Director Tommy Hailey, Fiscal Officer Greg Sullivan, Special Events and Marketing Coordinator Carol Rooks and Miracle League of Newton County Consultant Tamara Richardson. The garage and detached buildings are being used to store furniture and equipment, which has eliminated the cost of rental facilities previously used for storage, according to Hailey.

At one time, the property was targeted by a developer for a six-story senior citizen living facility, but Charlie Tuller of Sunbeltco Properties and Rob Fowler stepped in and secured a land swap to protect the property near the park. When the property was put up for sale last year, the Recreation Commission decided to step in "to get it in our hands before someone put something there that was detrimental to the park," Hailey said. "We're coming off a five-year lease agreement on the lights at City Pond Park that we purchased and we're going to roll that note into purchasing the house." The cost of the more than 3,000-square-foot house and land is approximately $300,000.

"We're glad to have it. We were on top of each other at the other place," Hailey said, referring to Recreation Commission headquarters at Turner Lake Complex, where the rest of the staff will remain. Some long-time employees that have been working in cubicles there were able to move into offices, he said.

Office hours at the new administrative building are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For questions or information about recreation, residents should still call the main number at 770-786-4373.