Emergency drill set for spring 2012

COVINGTON -- County commissioners recently approved an intergovernmental agreement with the Joint Development Authority of Jasper, Morgan, Newton and Walton counties and Stanton Springs LLC to allow Stanton Springs to be a staging area for a massive emergency services training exercise in spring 2012.

According to Jody Nolan, deputy director of Newton County EMA, multiple agencies from Newton, Rockdale and Walton counties, as well as the state and federal governments, will participate in the exercise. Stanton Springs will be used as a staging area for vehicles and personnel. The actual drill will take place on U.S. Highway 278 between Stanton Springs and Ga. Hwy. 11.

More details about the event, which will require closing of the roadway, will be publicly released in the coming months, he said. The agreement approved by the BOC on Dec. 20 states that the training exercise is a simulated radiological event in which firefighters and emergency personnel will respond to a tractor trailer/multi-car accident on U.S. Hwy. 278.

The event will take place on April 17. Nearby residents will be notified prior to the event, Nolan said.

In addition to meeting mandated training, the exercise will strengthen bonds with other counties, he said.

Newton County is part owner of Stanton Springs, an undeveloped multi-use park, along with Jasper, Morgan and Walton counties.

"The Joint Development Authority is very much in favor of this exercise because we built the four-lane parkway for commercial traffic and it gives the counties involved a very good location for this exercise," said Commissioner Mort Ewing, Newton's representative on the JDA.