Council considers a circus, Witches Night Out and deannexation

COVINGTON — Halloween came early at Monday’s Covington City Council meeting, when members heard proposals for an October “Witches Night Out” on the Square, a “Lewis and Clark Circus” and voted for deannexaton of a lot within the city limits.

Scary stuff even for a city known for hosting production of “The Vampire Diaries.”

“This is a first for me, and probably for the city of Covington,” Mayor Ronnie Johnston said of the deannexation legislation.

The request for deannexation was made by William and Katherine Ayash, who own a vacant city lot on Ga. Highway 36, but also own adjacent property that is located in unincorporated Newton County.

The Newton County Commission agreed to annex the property in its July meeting, and the Covington Council voted unanimously for the deannexation.

The council curiously listened to a proposal by Cassandra Hudson and Rebekah Larsen to close traffic to the Square for a Witches Night Out Dash on Oct. 18. The event would include a 5K run, vendor tents, music, drawings, costume parade and a “cackle contest.”

Covington Police Chief Stacey Cotton expressed concern about the event schedule, including a race after dark, and whether there would be volunteers to run the event as at races sponsored by experienced organizations.

By a 5-1 vote, with Hawnethia Williams dissenting, the council approved the road closure request with a stipulation that the race must be held in daylight and contained to the Square.

A portion of the proceeds from the event will be donated to The Kidney Foundation.

During a discussion of another road closure request for a celebration of a business anniversary, council member Chris Smith objected to closing public streets for private events.

“A private party is a private party,” Smith said. “Many times the street is blocked for five hours. I don’t agree with that.”

Johnston said, “We have to rethink this whole process. We’ve got to establish guidelines and be consistent.” He noted that Saturday street closures affect businesses, saying, “Saturday is the biggest day of the week for businesses.”

In other action, the council split on a request for a Lewis and Clark circus to be held at Legion field, and Johnston’s no vote denied the request.

“I am going to deny the request until we get more information (about the circus company and its proposal),” Johhnston said.

The council approved fire and safety code changes that would allow businesses in historic buildings to seek options to regulations that would endanger building structures.

Additionally, the council approved a bid to allow the police force to purchase Dodge Ram trucks that run on natural gas.