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Town hall meeting Tuesday night on ZIP change

COVINGTON — A town hall meeting will be held tonight regarding the proposed ZIP code change in east Newton.

The meeting, hosted by District 1 Commissioners John Douglas and Chairman Keith Ellis, will take place at 7 p.m. at Mount Pleasant United Methodist Church, located at 55 Ga. Highway 229 in Social Circle.

“We want to explain the importance of voting for a Covington address. This process should have happened well before the ballots were sent, but we did not know the voting was getting under way,” Douglas said.

The U.S. Postal Service recently sent ballots to the more than 600 addresses that would be affected by the change from a Social Circle to a Covington ZIP code.

The Joint Development Authority of Jasper, Morgan, Newton and Walton counties asked for the change to honor a request by Baxter International, which is locating in Stanton Springs, bringing 1,500 jobs and a $1 billion investment to the area.

Whether the Postal Service changes the ZIP code to 30014 will depend on the results of the survey. Surveys must be postmarked by April 11 to be counted.

“I don’t have the official tally at this point. However, I’m told that those received so far are running strongly against the ZIP code change,” said Michael Miles, spokesman for the Postal Service. The decision will be based on the majority vote of the number of surveys returned.

A spokeswoman for Baxter said she does not have information on why company representatives want a Covington address.

The Newton County Board of Commissioners unanimously expressed support for the ZIP change at a March 19 meeting.

“I think it’s a real honor for us that Baxter would like to have their ZIP code be our ZIP code,” District 3 Commissioner Nancy Schulz said. “I think that speaks volumes for the type of community we are and the type of community we project and I feel honored they have asked us to do that.”

Commissioner Levie Maddox said the hospital, sheriff’s office and public service providers all support the address change.

Ellis, speaking as chairman and a member of the Joint Development Authority and Industrial Development Authority, stated: “In the name of teamwork and unity, to build relationships for the health of my beloved Newton County, for the sake of the region, to increase the efficiency of emergency services, for tax relief through economic development, in the name of new and better jobs in this research diamond, I endorse and support the ZIP code change as requested by Baxter International. I implore you to stand with me and with Stanton Springs. There will be an inconvenience for some; it will pay off for Newton County for our future. I’d like for us to try to implore all those people who live down in that area to stand with us as well and vote yes for that change.”

Douglas, who represents the district and whose own address would be affected, said at the March 19 meeting he had explored several alternatives to try and get the ZIP code for Stanton Springs changed without affecting residents, “But the post office has told us today through Congressman (Paul) Broun’s office that’s out of the question — it just won’t happen.”

“The guidance is these ballots, the results of this vote, is ironclad,” Douglas said.

Douglas said he had asked if Congress could direct the post office to make Stanton Springs part of the 30014 ZIP code, “and the answer was that Congressman Broun and the House as a whole consider that like a local bill here, an earmark … and neither Congressman Broun nor the House will allow earmarks now, so that door was slammed shut on us this afternoon.”

Douglas said residents will have a chance to speak their minds at the town hall meeting.

“Certainly we’re delighted to have Baxter in the community,” Douglas said. “It’s an earthshaking development for us to get a company of that size. We all want to make them feel welcome. But the only way that we can give them a Covington address now is if we vote for that. So if you haven’t voted, I recommend that you vote for Covington and let’s put this behind us. Let’s put this behind us; let’s continue to be good neighbors with Baxter and move on from there.”

Comments

Billy 1 year, 7 months ago

I know that for practical reasons zip code boundaries can't always conform to county and city lines, but it would be better if they did. Social Circle addresses in Newton County, where the city has no land, is confusing. I lived in Stewart, in south Newton near the Pure station on 36, and wished that there was a separate zip for this locale as well. "I live in Covington" is what I told people, since no one knows what "Stewart" means, then had to tell them exactly where that is, which is more than 10 miles from the city limits near the McDonald's. I started telling people that I lived at Jackson Lake, which not having land on the water, was also misleading, but at least people know this lake. Oh well, there won't be a USPS in five years, so the problem may well solve itself...

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Newtownqq 1 year, 7 months ago

Billy I understand what your saying. The only reason our BOC has provided the public is that WE OWE IT TO THEM! I think that the BOC OWES US! If Baxter wanted a Covington adress they should have realized that a Social adress would come along with land purchase. Hey just contact the post office and you can do the survey thing also! Get a majority and you got new adress. I am sure the BOC would approve!

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John 1 year, 7 months ago

Just food for thought and I am not say this will or won't happen but it is not inconceiveable that a long term plan could be to eventually incorporate this area into the City of Covington. From what I have seen the city boundrareis have changed over time to incorporate most of the industrial parks in NC. Certainly, there advantages to doing this. I recall a elective course I took in Politcal Science where we discussed and reviewed a thing called "gerrymandering" to gain political and economic benefits. The classic text book example studied was the City of Chicago - and as I recall a very unusal city limit boundary thestrechted westerwards towards and area called Lyons, these boundary lines extended away from teh main portion of teh Chicago boundary lines and basically followed narrow path along a straight section of a state road for a few miles then balloned out to taking in the former village limits of Lyons. And a lot of that area out 278 is already served by City of Covington for power & water.

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deathtotaxes 1 year, 7 months ago

If we can change zip codes lets change school districts as well or let us have the choice to where we can send our children! Under perfoming scholld seem to be ok with the BOE and BOC.

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dennistay53 1 year, 7 months ago

@deathtotaxes- Indiana supreme court just upheld vouchers to parents to send children to private schools. Georgia needs to jump on this as well.

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Frustrated 1 year, 7 months ago

I think the important question would be WHY Baxter wants this done? Their own spokes person cannot say why they want this done so what is the issue? Has Baxter got something up their sleeve or is this another promise the BOC made to them? This has got to benefit Baxter in some way or it wouldnt be an issue with them. It also seems like Douglas is trying to circumvent the wishes of the residents by asking Congress to change it.

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John 1 year, 7 months ago

There is a reason of some sort, some where. This bloke can't see much difference in having a Social Circle or a Covington address either way you are still in Newton County. Heck, no one ever heard of Bensonville, Arkansas until Sam Walton started doing his Wal-Mart thing - Imagine That!.

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AndyM 1 year, 7 months ago

The people of Covington fail to realize that the jobs that are being posted are not being solely filled by just those people of Covington. The jobs are being advertised for people all over the U.S. and to those within the company. So, how many people of Covington will truly get employment by this company that is trying to change things? As citizens, we have had to conform to Covington, GA., and they need to conform too. Why should we have to roll out the welcome mat to someone trying to change our lives in our own homes? That's like someone taking over my household, when I pay the bills. The money that is being donated to the county by this company, is it worth the hassle? Will the company stay for a few years, and then leave to relocate for better benefits in another city, changing another community's address? I noticed that the company was already using the Covington, GA. Address before this issue came up? That’s odd! A lot of questions are posted on this blog, which are not answered. So, for me, I SAY NO TO THE ADDRESS CHANGE!

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Logical 1 year, 7 months ago

It is ludicrous to be voting on an issue when the issue has not been defined. No vote should take place without Douglas and a KNOWLEDGEABLE representative giving an explanation as to WHY Baxter has requested the change in zip code and WHY Douglas is such a proponent of the change. There may be good reasons and benefits but answers need to be given quickly! I liken this to obamacare and Nancy Pelosi stating that, "We have to pass it to see what's in it". The very fact that no one has been forthcoming with an explanation reeks of obfuscation. The citizens deserve better.

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