It's the first time this millennium that voters in unincorporated Floyd County supported a SPLOST.
The $63.8 million special purpose, local option sales tax package passed with 60.73 percent of the countywide vote Tuesday, failing in just five of the 25 precincts.
"I think these are historic times," Floyd County Commission Chair Rhonda Wallace said. "The people in the outlying areas of the county are coming together for the community."
The six precincts in the city of Rome have voted in favor of every SPLOST that passed, beginning in 1986 with the six-month levy to widen Shorter Avenue.
That one also passed in the unincorporated area, as did a 12-month SPLOST in 1994 for the Walker Mountain Landfill and the 1995 SPLOST that paid for the Floyd County Jail expansion and new fire stations.
One of those fire stations has yet to be built — Rome city and Floyd County officials are still discussing the location — and, since then, it's been up to city voters to carry the SPLOSTs.
Sales tax packages that passed in 2001, 2003, 2006, 2009 and 2013 all failed to win a majority in the unincorporated area as a whole.
However, this year, 10 of the 15 precincts that voted "no" on the last one flipped to "yes." That included seven precincts that haven't supported a SPLOST this century: Barkers, Chulio, Etowah, North Carolina, Texas Valley, Vanns Valley and West Lindale.
Wallace credited the SPLOST Citizens Advisory Committee, a diverse group of appointed residents that spent about six months reviewing projects for the package.
The centerpiece is an $8 million agricultural center that moved dozens of advocates from the county's rural reaches to attend the vetting session in a show of support.
Cave Spring, Glenwood and East Lindale turned thumbs down in 2013 but supported the 2017 package. Other county precincts where the "yes" votes won were Alto Park and Riverside — reliably pro-SPLOST — Everett Springs and Garden Lakes.
The historically anti-SPLOST precincts of Armuchee, Floyd Springs, Fosters Mill, Howell and Watters rejected this year's package as well.
Fosters Mill also was the only precinct to vote against the schools systems' ELOST, education local option sales tax.
Rome voters also elected three city commissioners and seven school board members.
In the commission race, incumbents Jamie Doss and Wendy Davis were the top vote-getters in all six precincts. The third winner, Randy Quick, was a favorite in all but the South Rome precinct, which went for Monica Sheppard instead.
Of the seven school board winners, Will Byington was one of the top three choices in five of the six precincts. Faith Collins and Melissa Davis joined him in Mount Alto North. Jill Fisher and John Uldrick were the other two in East Rome, Town Rome and Mount Alto South. Fisher and Beeman rounded out the top three in North Rome.
South Rome went for Beeman, Faith Collins and Alvin Jackson.
The biography of Shorter University's Vice President of Student Affairs Corey Humphries, who has been accused of sexually harassing a female employee, had been removed from the university's website as of Thursday.
However, the status of his employment as well as the status of his accuser remained unclear Thursday afternoon.
"The university does not comment on personnel matters," said Dawn Tolbert, a university spokeswoman.
According to a Rome Police Department report:
Rome police have begun their own investigation after Shorter Director of Campus Safety Paula Penson filed a sexual harassment complaint alleging Humphries had been harassing her since late July.
She reportedly informed the school of the harassment by her direct supervisor on at least two occasions. A verbal complaint with the university's human resources department was filed by her last month, leading to a meeting with Humphries. However, the harassment continued the next day.
Humphries was flirtatious with Penson while they worked out in the gym, where others at the school were also present. He became very "handsy," prompting her to tell him to stop before she left the gym. Prior to this incident she had tried to ignore the flirtation.
Penson said Humphries stopped touching her but verbal harassment continued. On several occasions, while she was alone with him in his office, he questioned why she stopped working out with him.
An ongoing internal investigation by the university was launched when Penson initially made the allegations. Tolbert said in an emailed statement Tuesday "appropriate action" will be made when the investigation is finished.
Once Penson reported Humphries' actions she said he became physically threatening and she feared he might harm her. She also stated he carried a gun on his person.
Police also spoke with the Assistant Director of Campus Safety James Hall, who told police he observed Humphries' demeanor "shift to a very negative view toward Ms. Penson" and that he (Hall) was fearful that Humphries might harm Penson.
Humphries and Penson did not return requests for comment Thursday afternoon.
Today's art is by Naelonie Amore, a fifth-grader at Pepperell Elementary.
A Lindale man remained in jail without bond Thursday on a felony murder charge after police say he shot through a wall into another room, killing a Cedartown man.
According to Polk County Police Chief Kenny Dodd, Kevin B. Millsap, 55, of 77 Pullen Road, Lindale, was jailed earlier this week on felony murder, aggravated assault and tampering with evidence charges.
Thomas Elbert Mills, 49, of 132 E. Point Road in Cedartown, was killed during the early morning hours of Nov. 6.
According to witness statements, Mills wasn't involved at all in the early morning altercation that began when Millsap came to the East Point Road home.
Millsap had arrived to confront another person and during the argument words became more heated and Millsap fired off a single round to threaten and scare the person he was arguing with at the time, Dodd said.
That round went through two sheet rock panels and struck Mills in the head while he was sitting on a couch in another room.
Emergency responders arrived at the scene around 2:10 a.m. and rushed Mills to the hospital. He was pronounced dead at 2:58 a.m. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation was called in to assist in the case, and Mill's body was taken to the GBI crime lab in Decatur for a full autopsy.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Millsap had not yet been before the Tallapoosa Circuit Superior Court for a first appearance, and no bail has yet been set.
He is also charged with misdemeanor pointing or aiming a gun or pistol at another and reckless conduct.
A ceremony at Myrtle Hill Cemetery and a daylong event at Coosa Valley Fairgrounds on Saturday are among the local recognitions planned for Veterans Day, but some of the honors are kicking off today.
Elm Street Elementary students have planted 600 flags in front of the school for a public ceremony that will have the street closed this morning from 9:45 to 10:45 a.m.
Following student presentations, the Honor Guard of American Legion Post 5 will do a 21-gun salute and play taps. Principal JoAnn Moss is asking everyone who wants to attend to park in the lot of West Rome United Methodist Church, 1003 Shorter Ave., or behind the school on Ethel Street.
Coosa Middle School also is inviting all local veterans for a two-part celebration starting with a 10:50 a.m. salute to "Armistice Day" that includes the firing of a cannon.
Activities at the school, 212 Eagle Drive, will resume at 1 p.m. with a ceremony featuring students representing historic military men and women and an address by Lt. Gen. Billy Brown of the U.S. Corps of Chaplains.
Also, the Northwest Center for Independent Living will have coffee and breakfast sweets for veterans from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at its 527 Broad St. office.
On Saturday, American Legion Shanklin-Attaway Post 5 will host its annual ceremony at 11 a.m. at Veterans Plaza, on the corner of South Broad and Myrtle streets in historic Myrtle Hill Cemetery.
Post Commander Steve Rood said more than 20 civic groups would be laying wreaths on the tomb of America's Known Soldier, Pvt. Charles Graves. District Attorney Leigh Patterson is the keynote speaker.
"After that, everyone's invited over to the post for hot dogs and hamburgers," Rood said.
The post is at 5 Shorter Ave.
Meanwhile, the Americanism Committee of the Exchange Club of Rome will be holding a Veterans Day event from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Coosa Valley Fairgrounds, 1400 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Organizer John Fortune said there would be a car show, military exhibits and, for area veterans, free haircuts and dental and vision screenings.
"We've never done a Veterans Day event before and we wanted to do something that wouldn't compete with the one at Myrtle Hill," Fortune said.
Registration for the Old School Cruisers car, truck and bike show is from 9 to 10 a.m. Bring a donation for Toys for Tots.
Booths set up in the exhibition hall will showcase supporters ranging from Rome-Floyd County PAWS and yoga therapy to military collector Al Castello, historian Richard Riggs and Soldier X.
"We'll also have military vehicles and truck rides," Fortune said.
Elsewhere, there's a Ladies Auxiliary yard sale starting at 11 a.m. at American Legion Post No. 52 Korean War Veterans, 1205 Calhoun Ave. They'll also be selling barbecue plates, at $8, and Brunswick stew from $3 a cup on up to $30 a gallon. Proceeds are used to help veterans and families in need.
Also, Goo-Goo Car Wash and Grace for Vets will provide free car washes for veterans from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. at both of the car wash locations, 140 N. Broad St. and 701 Shorter Ave.