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Naming rights of Catoosa County amphitheatre is now up for bid
• County Attorney Chad Young: "There are significant sound and lighting improvements that need to be made out there, and the money gotten from the naming rights contract could go back into the facility and make it more user-friendly."

Catoosa County's Parks and Recreation Department is preparing to receive bids for the naming rights of the Northwest Georgia Amphitheatre on the Benton Place Campus near The Colonnade.

The amphitheatre, which opened in 2007, was named the Northwest Georgia Bank Amphitheatre for years before the company sold to First Bank.

Now, County Attorney Chad Young says the county is looking to open up bidding for the new naming rights to the facility.

"There's renewed interest from businesses in the area of acquiring the rights to put their name on the facility for a period of time," Young said. "The most the board would be able to contract for in one term would be four years, but we can make it open for one or two possible automatic renewals in the bidding process."

Young said Parks and Recreation Director Travis Barbee and his staff would solicit proposals from businesses or individuals in the community that might be interested in paying the county to acquire the naming rights for a period of time.

"The plan would be, we would put out the RFO (request for proposal) and the staff would analyze those and bring them back before the board for a final decision," Young explained during the June 19 Board of Commissioner's meeting. "The ultimate goal is that there are significant sound and lighting improvements that need to be made out there, and the money gotten from the naming rights contract could go back into the facility and make it more user-friendly."

No back-to-school sales tax holiday for Georgia this year
• But nearby states will have three-day tax holidays beginning this weekend

Georgians must go out of state this year if they want to purchase back-to-school items during a sales tax holiday.

Just in time for buying school supplies and back-to-school clothing, sales tax holidays have been announced for Alabama, Tennessee and Florida for 2018 — but not Georgia.

For the second year in a row, Georgia's elected representatives refused to adopt legislation that would have exempted certain items from state and local taxes prior to the 2018-19 school year.

Tennessee has held such sales annually since 2006, while Alabama and Georgia instituted tax-free weekends in 2012.

"We did not vote on any bill that would have provided a tax free holiday," said state Republican Rep. Steve Tarvin of Chickamauga. "It might have been hidden in the budget, but it never came to the floor."

Tax-exempt items usually included clothing and footwear priced at less than $100, computers costing less than $1,000, and supplies that cost no more than $20 per item.

Parents and students could save some money while checking off their back-to-school supply lists and teachers were able to stretch their dollars when buying items for classroom use.

Some say the state cannot afford losing tens of millions of dollars in sales tax revenue, but others say few shop only for exempt items and getting customers into stores means a boost to sales of non-exempt goods.

While either point can be argued, so too can the fact that those living in Northwest Georgia are a few minutes from states where they can save some green.

Alabama will have a tax free holiday this weekend, July 20-22, and Tennessee will have a three-day tax holiday the following weekend, July 27-29.

Guidelines differ from state to state as to what will be exempted from taxes, but the general rule is that clothing items costing $100 or less, computers (maximum of $750 in Alabama, $1,000 in Tennessee) will be sold tax free.

Tarvin said he did not know why the issue was not raised during this year's legislative session.

"If I was voting, I'd support it," he said.

Get ready! School starts in three weeks

Catoosa County schools start a new year Aug. 8. That leaves parents just three weeks to get their ducks in a row, and there's plenty to do.

On Aug. 2, parents can take their children to "Catoosa Kid's Day" at Tiger Creek Elementary School where they'll find free vision, hearing, dental and nutrition screenings for children and immunizations for those who qualify. The event runs from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and includes goodies and inflatables for kids. The school is located at 134 Rhea McClanahan Drive, Tunnel Hill.

But before that, parents will want to get a copy of the supplies list for their children's schools and start looking for bargains. The Catoosa County Schools' website has lists for every grade in every elementary and middle school in the system. Parents can also often find the lists in some area stores.

Supplies lists for elementary students include things like notebooks, pencils, crayons, scissors, glue sticks, and dry erase markers. Some lists are specific about preferences:

Ticonderoga pencils, Fiskars scissors, Crayola crayons. Lists also request general classroom supplies like tissues, wet wipes, hand sanitizer and adhesive bandages. Most lists also ask parents to buy their children a good set of headphones.

Middle school students are requested to provide many similar things (minus "little kid" items), and ear buds instead of headphones. Some lists provide additional information like open house dates for visiting the school before Day One and taking care of details like extra fees, lunch accounts and learning bus assignments.

Many of the elementary school lists give parents the option of making a $25 supplies donation in lieu of buying the supplies, and they emphasize that no child will be turned away because he or she does not have the listed supplies.

Parents and students can visit the Catoosa Schools' website to see the school calendar for the year, find information about meals and nutrition content, learn how to sign up for text messages, read the system's student handbook, and learn about testing and a host of other school-related issues.

The site has links to the websites of each individual school and pretty much anything else a parent might need to know regarding their child's schooling.

Parents can also look over the handbook for dress codes before adding "new clothes" to their before-school to-do lists.

To learn more, visit – it's all there.

New drug drop box for Fort Oglethorpe

Catoosa County now has another location to safely dispose of unused or expired medications.

A secure drug drop box has been installed at the Fort Oglethorpe Police Department and is available from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Drop boxes are now available at the Catoosa County Sheriff's Department, the Rossville Police Department and the Fort Oglethorpe Police Department.