COVINGTON — Chairman Keith Ellis announced Tuesday evening that public comments will be moved to the beginning of Board of Commissioners meetings beginning in February.
Currently, public comments take place at the end of commission meetings, after the regular business and voting have taken place. Residents have complained at times during meetings that they are not able to speak prior to a vote being taken, and Ellis said it’s a complaint he heard during his campaign. Ellis said the comments will be handled “almost exactly the same way as far as time limits.” Residents are currently allowed three minutes each to speak.
In other news, Ellis said he and the county engineer are working on a master list of short- and long-range road projects that he hopes to show the board in February.
Ellis said in a previous interview with the Citizen that, “Money has been available but projects have not been done.” He said money through SPLOST and capital funds to make intersection improvements and resurface subdivisions, for example, is available and ready to be used.
Ann Neuhierl, a resident of Villages at Ellington off Brown Bridge Road, spoke during public comments, saying she is encouraged by the chairman’s statements and asking that her subdivision be included on the list for road repairs.
Last spring, Neuhierl brought the board a petition with 100 signatures of residents in the neighborhood asking the county to repair their roads. She said Tuesday night that nothing has been done.
She said the county engineer has done a “very comprehensive report on what it will take to fix our roads. We’re very fortunate to have Lanier Sims as our commissioner. He certainly understands how to fix a road. He’s got great ideas I hope he will be able to implement with your help this year,” she said.
Neuhierl said the project was on a list that was tabled by the board with the comment from former Chairman Kathy Morgan that additional funds might be available later. But she said the residents are still waiting, noting that the subdivision — which is part of four subdivisions that make up the Ellington development, including Springs at Ellington and the two phases of the Silos of Ellington — is only seven to 10 years old.
“It’s a shame our roads are crumbling,” she said. “We really want to be on your list.”
Finally, commissioners agreed to name the widening of Salem Road as the top transportation priority for the state legislative delegation. Each state representative of Newton will receive a copy of a letter indicating the BOC’s priority for this session.
Commissioner J.C. Henderson said he also wants to see Crowell Road addressed. Ellis said Crowell will be included on the list of short- and long-range projects supplied to the BOC next month.