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Fort O celebrating 'Labor Day in the Streets'
• Still time to enter Little Miss Labor Day pageant and corn hole tournament

On Monday, Sept. 2, Labor Day returns to Fort Oglethorpe, except this year it will be in the streets instead of on Barnhardt Circle. The public celebration will be held on Lafayette Road between Enscore Street and Harker Road. Some events will be held inside nearby churches.

Part of the celebration, dubbed Labor Day in the Streets, will be the first annual Little Miss Labor Day festival-style pageant for girls ages birth to 18 years old. Every entrant will receive a crown. The pageant will be held at Liberty Baptist Church, 2 Harker Road. The deadline for entries is Aug. 21. The entry fee is $25. Visit facebook.com/events/1132980096907190 for more information.

Also part of Labor Day in the Streets will be a corn hole tournament that will be held at Orchard Church, 763 Battlefield Parkway. Individuals and teams can enter. For more information, visit orchardchurch.cc/cornhole?fbclid=IwAR0 5iC370bpzVq9628jsNd wd_3HxubRxpjRNJe23yqu9xecce7vx7__rkNY.

There is no fee to attend Labor Day in the Streets. The event, which is being advertised on social media, by word of mouth and on banners and billboards, will include dozens of vendors selling a wide variety of food and crafts, music, a cruise-in that includes antique tractors, children's activities and more.

Ryan Ralston, pastor of Liberty Baptist Church and president of the Fort Oglethorpe Tourism Association, invites everyone from Fort Oglethorpe and beyond to come out and have fun with fellow members of their community.

IF YOU GO ...

What: Labor Day in the Streets

When: Monday, Sept. 2, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: South end of Lafayette Road, Fort Oglethorpe

Cost: Free

More info: Visit "Labor Day in the Streets" Facebook page


TANK MAKEOVER
M47 tank at 6th Cavalry Museum is getting a makeover

Chris McKeever

This past April, George Adler and his wife were visiting Fort Oglethorpe to attend a program at the 6th Cavalry Museum. At the event, Adler got to talking to Joe Barkley, one of the museum's board members, who led him outside to see the museum's M47 Patton tank.

Adler's interest in tanks comes from firsthand experience. During his time in the U.S. Army, from 1975 to 1978, he served as a loader, gunner and finally commander of an M60A1 tank. He was also a missile tank turret mechanic for M60A2s.

"The M47 wasn't a wreck," says Adler, "but it needed some love. Joe and I started bouncing ideas around and he introduced me to the museum's director, Chris Mc-Keever."

Adler suggested to McKeever that he could help restore the tank and make it a real attraction for the museum.

"I didn't take him too seriously," says McKeever, who has run the museum for 15 years. "We get lots of people who offer to help with one thing or another and then we never hear from them again."

Not so with Adler. In short time, McKeever had a seven-page proposal for the restoration. And Adler was willing to donate his time. He estimated that working on the tank one full day a week, the project could take a few years, but progress is already visible.

Adler is the perfect person to be working on the M47 that's on loan from the U.S. Army to the museum. In addition to being a tank commander and having an intimate knowledge of tanks, he has worked as a metal fabricator, restores "first generation" Mustangs and helped with the restoration of a B-17 bomber at the Museum of Aviation at Warner Robins Air Force Base.

Adler also spent 17 years as a data network administrator for the Federal judiciary and is something of a Renaissance man, interested in everything and willing to tackle unusual projects, like creating medieval armor, stained glass, wood carvings and even learning calligraphy.

Adler began his work on the 6th Cavalry's tank by spending seven and a half hours washing it. He removed four or five buckets of sand from the tank's engine compartment and says there's more to go.

M47s were built during the 1950s — 8,576 of them. They were a short-lived vehicle for the U.S. military because better tanks were already being developed. By the end of the 1950s, the U.S. had phased out the M47s and were selling them off to other countries.

Adler says it appears as if the museum's tank was in Spain at one time. Instructions inside the tank are all in Spanish. "And it was used in desert conditions," says Adler. "All the optics and headlights on the tank were badly pitted and scratched from sand exposure."

Adler has already replaced the optics and lights, including headlights, infrared lights and service lights. He has also loosened doors that were welded shut and has installed new periscope mounts.

When a tank is taken out of commission and allowed to enter the civilian world, Adler says, it is "demilled," short for demilitarized — rendered impotent as a weapon of war. The 6th Cavalry tank was missing, among other things, its machine guns. Adler fashioned realistic-looking but harmless replica gun barrels from exhaust pipes. He found three replacement periscopes for the tank and installed them.

In the outline Adler submitted to McKeever and the museum's board of directors, Adler listed exterior and interior work he felt needed to be done, as well as a work task priority list.

On the exterior, Adler advised removing welds from closed doors and hatches, replacing missing parts, cleaning, adding non-functioning replicas of various guns, and painting the tank. He included pictures of three possible paint schemes – two based on how Spain tended to paint tanks during the years it used M47s and one based on a U.S. style.

For the interior of the tank, the hull and the turret, Adler advised removing as much equipment as possible, including seats and control panels, and repairing, refurbishing and cleaning it before replacing it. He also recommended painting the inside and replacing lighting, indicator lights and control illumination with LED lights, and rewiring everything so it can be powered by a low voltage power source.

Finally, after the restoration is finished, Adler says the tank could be a real attraction if all compartments were lighted, open and covered with Plexiglass so visitors could climb a specially-constructed ladder and platform to look inside.

McKeever says she's excited about the public getting to see and know the museum's tank so well. "We appreciate George so much for all the work and time he's pouring into our tank. On top of everything else, he's done research, found parts and spent time talking to visitors about the tank."

While Adler is donating his time, there are still significant costs involved in restoring the M47 at the 6th Cavalry Museum.

Tamara Wolk is a reporter for The Catoosa County News in and Walker County Messenger.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

• The 6th Cavalry Museum is at 6 Barnhardt Circle in Fort oglethorpe. hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the exception of some holiday periods. For more information: 6thcavalrymuseum.org or

706-861-2860. The tank is on display throughout its restoration.

• To learn more about the tank restoration costs or to donate, visit 6thcavalrymuseum.org/m-47-patton-tank.


Millions of opioid pills flooded Northwest Georgia counties
44 million opioid pills shipped to Walker, Catoosa counties during 7-year period

Judge Dan Polster

Andy Davis

Bob Finnell

More than 40 million prescription pain pills were supplied in Walker and Catoosa counties during the seven years from 2006-12, according to evidence in a class-action lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors playing out in an Ohio federal district court.

About 44 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills went to pharmacies around the two counties, which had a total population of 132,698 in the 2010 census (68,756 in Walker and 63,942 in Catoosa).

The volume of shipments is one reason the two counties decided in 2018 to join other Northwest Georgia jurisdictions in a lawsuit contending the companies used deceptive practices to fuel an epidemic of addiction.

More than 2,000 lawsuits from around the nation have been consolidated under the Ohio case.

Walker County's 18,574,876 pills were enough for each man, woman and child to have 39 pills a year. The top three pharmacies receiving the shipments were Rocky Top Pharmacy in Rossville, 4.9 million; Ledfords Rx Express, 3.1 million; and CVS in LaFayette, 2.6 million.

Catoosa County's 25,625,360 pills provided a yearly supply equal to 58 pills per person.

The top three pharmacies receiving them were Walgreens in Fort Oglethorpe, 6.1 million; Walmart in Fort Ogle thorpe, 2.7 million; and CVS in Ringgold, 2.6 million.

Shipments of hydrocodone and oxycodone to nearby counties paint an equally bleak picture.

Floyd County's pharmacies received orders for 50.5 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills during that period; Polk County had 24.4 million; Gordon County had 16 million; Chattooga County logged 11.5 million; Bartow County got 33 million.

Area officials are seeking compensation for the cost to their communities along with funds to abate the damage.

That's not just the cost of medical care for people who've experienced opioid-related addictions, diseases, overdoses and deaths, according to the suit being spearheaded by Rome attorneys Andy Davis and Bob Finnell.

It also includes treatment, counseling and rehabilitation services for the addicts; foster and other care for children whose parents are disabled or incapacitated by addiction; and the additional strain on law enforcement, public safety and the courts.

Davis said records of the pill shipments are in a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency database called ARCOS, which monitors the flow of controlled substances from the manufacturer to the point of sale. The data was under a court-ordered seal until last month, at the request of the government and drug industry..

The Washington Post and HD Media won a year-long legal battle for access to the data and made it public, along with a series of reports putting the volume of shipments in context.

They're still fighting for DEA data for 2013 and 2014, which remain under seal in the multi-district litigation case being heard by U.S. District Court Judge Dan Polster of the Northern District of Ohio.

The Post also analyzed the nearly 380 million transactions to create a more manageable database and made it available to researchers and other journalists. It doesn't include data on 10 other opioids that were shipped at lower levels than oxycodone and hydrocodone.

In Georgia, more than 2.2 billion pills were shipped to retail consumers from 2006 to 2012.

Here's a more detailed look at what happened in other Northwest Georgia counties:

Chattooga County consumers shared 11,569,850 pills, enough for each person to have 63 a year. The top three pharmacies were CVS in Summerville, 3.8 million; Trion Drugs, 3.2 million; and WalMart, 2.2 million.

Floyd County's 50.5 million pills were enough for each man, woman and child to have 75 pills a year. The top three pharmacies receiving the shipments were Walgreen, at more than 4 million; Winslette Pharmacy, 3.9 million; and McGowan-Jones Pharmacy in Shannon, 3.7 million.

Polk County received 24,436,350 pills, enough for 84 pills per person each year. The top three pharmacies were Bradford Drug Store, at 4.5 million pills; CVS in Cedartown, 3.7 million; and Smith-Lockwood Drug Store, 2.8 million.

Gordon County received enough for 42 pills per person per year: 16,076,190 oxycodone and hydrocodone pills. The top three pharmacies were Harbin's Prescription Shop, 4 million; CVS in Calhoun, 2.3 million; and Kroger, 1.7 million.

Bartow County's shipments totaled 33,039,206 pills, enough for each resident to have 48 a year. The top three receiving pharmacies were Eckerd in Cartersville, 3.6 million; Holt's Pharmacy, 3.5 million; and Adairsville Drug, 2.6 million.


New construction means new revenue for schools
• The school board plans to collect more property taxes in 2019. Most of the increase is driven by new construction, meaning most existing property owners won't see a tax hike.

Denia Reese

The Catoosa County Board of Education will meet on Wednesday, Aug. 21, to adopt a new — and reduced — property tax rate.

Under the new rate, the Board of Education will collect $532,465 more in property taxes this year than it did in 2018.

But this doesn't mean property owners will see a hike in their taxes. The increase in collections is due mainly to new construction driving up the county's tax digest, which is the value of all property in the county. In the past year the tax digest has risen 3.5%, from $1.619 trillion to $1.676 trillion.

"Catoosa County residents will not see an increase in their tax bill," School Superintendent Denia Reese said, "because the Board of Education is taking the rollback millage rate for the sixth consecutive year. With new construction and new residents in the county, the school system will see a slight increase in revenue due to more taxable properties."

"Our Board of Education is committed to being good stewards of taxpayer revenue," Reese said. "With this rollback, the 2019 millage rate of 16.905 is almost the same as the 2012 rate (16.773)."

Blake Stansell, director of finance said, "The tax commissioner's office provided a rollback millage rate that would generate the same amount of revenue from current residents in 2019. This means that current residents will not see an increase from their 2018 tax bill."

For 2018, the school board levied a 17.171 millage (property tax) rate and collected $27,804,990 in property taxes. For 2019, the school board plans to levy a 16.905 millage rate and collect $28,337,455, an increase of $532,465 (1.9%).

The school board will be collecting more in property taxes in 2019 than in 2018 — even though the proposed millage rate for 2019 is lower — because the county's tax digest is greater: for 2018, the total value was $1,619,299,413; for 2019, the total value is $1,676,276,550, an increase of $56,977,137 (3.5%).

Most of the increase in the county's property digest is due to new construction, including new housing.

PROPERTY TAX RATE MEETING IS AUG. 21

The meeting to approve the school board's new property tax rate will be Wednesday, Aug. 21, at 6 p.m. in the board room at the central office of Catoosa County Public schools, 307 Cleveland St., Ringgold. The meeting is open to the public.

"Catoosa County residents will not see an increase in their tax bill because the Board of Education is taking the rollback millage rate for the sixth consecutive year. With new construction and new residents in the county, the school system will see a slight increase in revenue due to more taxable properties.

School Superintendent Denia Reese