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Maddison Davis, a third-grader at Pepperell Elementary School

Chamber Expo a networking opportunity for consumers and business leaders alike

The Rome Floyd Chamber Business Expo is all about promoting local businesses.

Chamber President Jeanne Krueger said the 100 booths inside the Forum River Center represented a broad cross-section of businesses which give back to the community and support the “Shop Rome, Shop Floyd” campaign during the holidays.

“This is just a small glimpse of all of the businesses that are out there and it is fun to get to meet the people,” Krueger said.

Funds generated by the event are earmarked for the chamber’s promotional efforts on behalf of local businesses during the holiday shopping season.

The expo seems like a made to order event for Scott Wheeler, owner of the Competitive Edge, specialty advertising business. Wheeler was showing some of the items, and assortment of colors, that he can deliver to companies for businessman Charles Howell.

“I had never heard of him before and I asked where is your store,” Howell said. That’s the catch. Wheeler does not have a storefront.

“The chamber supports me in my business,” Wheeler said. “This helps keep me circulating and introduces me to new people. As far as Internet goes, it gets harder everyday so there is no substitute for people-to-people exposure.”

Larry Alford, co-owner of ServiceMaster by Twins, said the expo gives him a chance to show off the ever-changing aspect to his business.

“It puts us back in touch with the community and allows us to introduce new services that we provide,” Alford said.

Visitors to the Redmond Regional Medical Center booth got a chance to play the old game Operation, for a chance to win a prize.

“We’re here because it is great support for the Rome Chamber and being a partner in the community,” said Andrea Pitts at Redmond. “It allows us to share with the community the services that we offer and the ways that we can help them.”

Right at Home franchise owner Jay DeVille said the expo brings the opportunity to explain home care services to people who might not be aware of that option for personal care.

“There was one lady that we now take care of and for years she came by our booth and said some day I’ll use you,” DeVille said. “I thought it would never happen but it did.”

Looking at the Floyd Healthcare merger: How it affects the county

As part of the proposed merger between Floyd Healthcare Management Inc. and North Carolina-based Atrium, the county government would be able to step away from guaranteeing over $120 million in bonded debt.

The Floyd Healthcare Management board — the company that operates Floyd Medical Center — signed a letter of intent on Nov. 5. This deal, totaling around $650 million, is easily one of the largest business deals in Floyd County.

In addition to investing that large sum over an 11-year period, Atrium has also agreed to take on the hospital system’s approximately $180 million operating debt.

Of that figure, Floyd County backed $127.5 million in bonds for expansion and upgrades to the hospital. As of June 30, the remaining bonded amount was just over $120 million.

“It’s a win-win for the citizens of Floyd County,” Floyd County Commission Chairman Scotty Hancock said Friday afternoon.

That’s just one of the ways this proposed merger would affect Floyd County.

The county will retain one seat on the 18-member Floyd Healthcare Management as well as on the seven-person Hospital Authority of Floyd County board.

“Several years ago the county was promised at least one seat on the board,” Hancock said.

And that promise still stands. However, it will lose a second seat on the Floyd Healthcare Management Inc. board. That second seat came about as part of a 2003 deal when the county originally agreed to back bonds by Floyd Medical Center. Once the debt is no longer guaranteed by the county government, they are no longer guaranteed that second seat at the table.

As part of the merger, the Floyd Healthcare Management board will get two new members from Atrium.

Currently County Commissioners Wright Bagby and Rhonda Wallace sit on the Floyd Healthcare Management Inc. board.

Bagby also serves on the Hospital Authority of Floyd County board. The property and facility of Floyd Medical Center is owned by the Hospital Authority of Floyd County. The hospital authority leases that property to Floyd Healthcare Management.

The entire process could take up to a year before it is completed, FMC President and CEO Kurt Stuenkel said earlier this week. Once negotiations are over, the deal will be subject to state approval.

Veterans honored at Alto Park Elementary

Alto Park Elementary School honored local veterans with an annual Veterans Day program on Friday.

The program is organized each year by Stephanie Ayers, an instructional coach at Alto Park Elementary, who said this event is personal for her.

“I have a long line of battle heroes in my family,” Ayers said. “I just think it’s important for our kids to remember this day every year. In a world with so much business it can be easy to skip over it.”

The program began with a welcome from the school principal, Suzie Henderson, who emphasized the importance of children understanding the history of Veterans Day.

The Alto Park Boy Scouts led the group of over 100 students in the Pledge of Allegiance, then the fourth and fifth grade chorus, led by Melanie Daniel, sang “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Chaplain David Thornton of the Floyd County Sheriff’s Office was the keynote speaker. He spoke with the students about the importance of the American flag and the sentiment of Veteran’s Day.

“I always try to make it simple,” he said. Coming from a long line of veterans, he said the day was important to him. “I had the opportunity to serve my county, defend my country and help make America a better place.”

Once the program to honor the veterans concluded, the school held a reception in the media center where families ate cupcakes and fruit.

Vietnam veteran Windell McLendon ate with his granddaughter Makensi Nicholson.

“This is the third year I’ve been,” he said of the event. “I have grandchildren that attend different schools here in the county so I’ve been to all of them. They do a top notch program here.”

Shooting victim recognizes the officer and dispatcher who helped save his life

By the time Darrius Martin realized he was at the wrong place at the wrong time, Rome police officer Scott Kasmar happened to be at the right place at the right time that nearly fatal Wednesday morning in August.

“God was just shining on him that day,” Kasmar, a former EMT, said Friday before Martin presented him and Floyd County 911 Dispatcher Victoria Henson with “hero” awards for helping save his life after he’d been shot twice in the gut.

“It was very perfect timing,” Kasmar said. “Any sooner and I would have been at the station and it would have taken a little longer to get to him. Any later and I would have been up around Second Avenue by Floyd Hospital. As it turned out, I was at like Third Avenue and Broad Street when the call came in.”

The 911 call at 11:09 a.m. Aug. 28 from 232 S. Broad St. came from Martin himself. Earlier that morning, the 28-year-old had put his cell phone in his front pocket after talking to his brother. Normally, he would have thrown his phone on his bed, he explained later.

Five minutes before his call, a neighbor near Chuck’s Corner store talked to another dispatcher, telling her he heard a woman screaming and then saw a man choking a woman and dragging her into the house, according to a printed copy of the 911 calls.

The neighbor told the dispatcher he “just heard another loud bang” and heard a man scream before seeing the woman run out of the house.

“The woman was his ex-wife and he came over that morning and was still trying to control her,” Martin told the Rome News-Tribune Friday. “He caught us together and things ensued.”

Before Martin knew it, he’d been shot and was starting to bleed profusely. He grabbed his cellphone out of his pocket and dialed 911.

According an audio recording of that call, Martin told Dispatcher Henson to send help quick.

“I’ve been shot,” he told Henson between heavy moans and labored breaths. “Please hurry up.”

Henson tried to keep him calm and conscious while asking him where he’d been shot. She told him to put pressure on the wounds the best he could until help could arrive.

“Keep breathing for me,” she said as she tried to get information about the incident. “Do you know who shot you? What kind of gun was it? Do you know which way the shooter went?”

As she continued to remind him to breath and apply pressure, officer Kasmar arrived and knew immediately he needed to use his EMT skills — including his own first aid kit that included some special trauma gauze that helps blood begin to clot.

“When I got there, he was on the front stoop and he had a white shirt on and it was covered in blood from just below the collar bone down past his belly button,” Kasmar said. He was presented with an award Friday surrounded by many of his law enforcement colleagues in Rome Municipal Court. “I was pretty worried about him because he’d lost a lot of blood.”

Henson’s 911 line was still open as Kasmar worked on Martin. The call recording includes sounds of a woman screaming and other chaos going on around them.

Kasmar stayed focused as he looked for an exit wound. He warned Martin that the gauze he was going to use was going to hurt.

“Ow! Ow! Ow!” Martin can be heard on the 911 tape as Kasmar apologizes to him, telling him he knows he’s in pain and that they’ll get him to the hospital soon.

Within one minute, an EMS crew member arrived and helped Kasmar get Martin into the ambulance.

“I think that was the fastest I’d ever seen EMS arrive on scene,” Kasmar said later. “The timing was so critical because he’d lost a lot of blood already.”

Once at Floyd Medical Center, Martin was rushed into surgery. Later that day, Quincy Jamar Fluker tuned himself in at Floyd County Jail and was charged with felony aggravated assault.

Fluker, 32, has not been convicted of the crime and was released from the Floyd County Jail on bond.

Martin remained at the hospital for 21 days as he recovered from wounds to his liver, gallbladder and colon, according to his mother Shinice Ragland. One of the two bullets just missed his spine by mere inches.

Ragland said all she could do was pray when she first heard about her son being shot.

“When I got the phone call, I was at work and I jumped in my car and I was so nervous I couldn’t get it into gear,” the mother of four said after the awards ceremony. “I just kept saying, ‘God, please let my son live. Please let my son live.’ And he answered my prayers.

Henson said she, too, was praying for Martin that day. She said before receiving her award from Martin, she was excited to learn about the honor because sometimes dispatchers and first responders can feel forgotten by those they serve every day.

“I remembered his call clearly,” she said softly. “I remember talking to him and when I got off the phone, I prayed for him. A lot of times we don’t get closure unless they reach out to us. I’m really glad he did.”

Martin said during the awards ceremony that he hoped this recognition will help bridge the divide between his South Rome neighborhood and the law enforcement community.

“I do appreciate what you did. Both of you,” he told Kasmar and Henson. “I just want to thank you for playing such a big part in me still being here.”