If people live in a community like Lindale long enough there are certain elements around them that they come to regard as fixtures.
Lindale wouldn't be Lindale without the smoke stacks from the mill. Or the star hanging between the stacks at Christmas. Or the mill houses. Or the ducks and water wheel. Or the fire breathing drag on at the high school football stadium.
And Lindale wouldn't be Lindale without coach David Jones.
Jones started attending the Pepperell Schools as a child in 1955 and finished there in 1967.
While he was at the high school, Jones played football. Later he would become a coach for the Dragons. And he continues to help the Dragons today — as well as the rest of the community.
His father, Ralph, worked in the mill. Jones remembers when he was very young, his dad got a house in Lindale.
"That was a big deal," he said. "It was a three-room house on Grove Street. In 1953 we moved to A Street, and it had one more room."
"And then we moved to Jamestown in '56," Jones said, referring to the community of one story homes between the high school and the mill property. "As you got a promotion, you got a better house."
When he got older Jones started working in the mill as well. He became a management trainee and eventually became a supervisor in the card room. Jones was following in his father's footsteps. But it wasn't a path he wanted to continue traveling.
"Daddy — he loved it," Jones said. "I didn't."
Around 1981 he decided he'd had enough of the textile industry and quit. He spent the next four or five years working odd jobs in construction and property management. With the exception of going to games on Friday night in the fall, Jones was nowhere close to being on the field as a coach.
But he had been involved in sports his entire life. Some of that involved watching his father play on sports teams for Pepperell Manufacturing. Some of it was Jones playing sports in school.
"We were at a football game right after [Lynn] Hunnicutt had come," Jones said. He and his wife were watching the new coach for Pepperell. "My wife looked me and said, 'That's what you need to be doing.'"
He realized she was right.
Fast forward to 1986.
Hunnicutt hired Jones for a coaching internship. In 1987, Jones helped start the football program at the middle school, where he stayed for five years. He also was an assistant basketball and baseball coach for Pepperell High School.
"I became the defensive coordinator at the high school in 1992," Jones said.
He said he feels that being away from Pepperell — the mill and the school — for several years before he started coaching and teaching helped him do a better job with the students and players.
"I think it would have been a lot harder if I hadn't been gone for so long," Jones said. "I'm just not sure I would have done very well. ... And I wouldn't have gone anywhere else to coach (but Pepperell). I never wanted to."
Jones said he also never aspired to being a head coach. That would have taken him away from the players and the game.
"Once you get to be head coach, you don't get to coach as much," he said. "You have to do administration, fundraising — not what I did best. I wanted to coach. It didn't mean I didn't try to learn, but I never wanted to be a supervisor. Four years being a supervisor in a cotton mill pretty much burned it for me."
"Very few people get to make a living at something they enjoy doing," Jones said. "It wasn't like going to the cotton mill on third shift at 10 o'clock. I didn't dread going. And I liked practice as much as I liked the game."
Jones retired from coaching in 2010 after his wife, Wanda, passed away.
But he didn't leave Pepperell sports altogether. Jones still goes to the games. He watches practice. He volunteers to run errands for the coaches so they can focus their attention on the players and the game.
"I'll do it till I can't," he said. "I had that opportunity (to coach) so now I just want the coaches to be able to coach."
There is plenty of other activity in Lindale to keep Jones busy. He is on Pepperell's Local School Governance Team. He spends a lot of time in Lindale walking his friend's dog, Bogie. He also is very involved with Restoration Lindale with fellow Lindale native Tim Reynolds.
"When you're retired there's only so much grass you can cut and limbs you can trim," he said. "It's nice in my later years that I have a lot of things to do."
And his community is all the better for it.
'Once you get to be head coach, you don't get to coach as much. You have to do administration, fundraising — not what I did best. I wanted to coach. It didn't mean I didn't try to learn, but I never wanted to be a supervisor. Four years being a supervisor in a cotton mill pretty much burned it for me.'
Former Pepperell football coach
The Rome Area Council for the Arts has divvied up its grants to the Ginger Parade organization led by James Schroeder, the Rome Kiwanis Club for their Art and Music showcase, Georgia Highlands College speech competition and the Rome Middle School choir for their show Grand Illusion.
Rome Middle School and the Kiwanis Club each received $1,000, James Schroeder received $500 and Georgia Highlands received $400.
The annual Ginger Parade march on Broad Street is set for March 17 at 11 a.m. The Kiwanis Music Showcase will be March 10 in the Ford auditorium at Berry at 1 p.m., while the Art Showcase will be at the Rome Floyd Library on April 5 at 6 p.m. The GHC Speech competition will be Friday April 13 at noon on the Cartersville campus.
The Rome Middle School Grand Illusion Troupe was first runner-up at the Georgia Vocal Invitational meet in Augusta this past weekend.
RACA provides grants during each calendar quarter to groups and individuals who use the broad cross-section of the arts to increase economic, social and educational awareness and vitality within the Rome community.
"This is the first year that we've done it quarter-by-quarter," said Mandy Maloney, executive director of RACA. "I've tried to streamline some things in my first year."
Maloney said in the past, grants were issued on a rolling basis and it was hard to track the budget.
"We'd get close to the end of the year and realize we've given all of our money away," she said.
A certain portion of the RACA budget is earmarked annually for the grant program.
"Essentially the support we get on a yearly basis from our members and our donors, the vast majority of that we pour right back into the community
Each of the grant recipients is required to take photographs and provide a fairly detailed report of their project back to RACA to show the agency how the funding was used to benefit the community, how many people they reached and the community impact.
One of the largest fundraisers of the year for RACA, the annual Firefly Fling, is coming up April 20 on the grounds of the Rome-Floyd Library where RACA has plans to develop an amphitheater for the arts. The agency hopes to be able to release conceptual site plans for that project sometime in March.
To learn more about RACA, the grants program, and how to support the arts in Rome, visit RACA's website www.romearts.org
Floyd County Commissioners and representatives of local hospitals spent more time Monday talking about addressing the local opioid epidemic than suing the pharmaceutical companies.
"It's a multi-faceted problem," said Dr. Bob Williams, who headed the detoxification program at the now-closed Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital. "Identifying (abusers) is easy. What we're going to do about it is the question."
It's a relatively new phenomenon, mirroring a steep increase in the opioid prescribing rate since 2006. The national rate peaked in 2012, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but in a quarter of U.S. counties there are still enough prescriptions for at least every person to have one.
The narcotic painkillers — such as OxyContin, Demerol, Percocet and Dilaudid — are highly addictive.
Dr. Ed McBride, chief medical officer for Harbin Clinic, said physicians are learning more about pain control each day. Pain is subjective and hard to quantify scientifically, he said, but there's a new focus on determining appropriate care.
"I think that level (of prescribing) was geared toward unreasonable expectations of no pain," he said. "But if you have surgery, an accident or an injury, pain is a natural reaction. The question should be how do we make it tolerable."
He and Dr. Julie Barnes, chief medical officer for Redmond Regional Medical Center, both said there are instances when pain pills are necessary. And Barnes voiced concern about an inappropriate push-back against them.
"We don't want to knock the legs out of these phamaceuticals so we don't have what we need for the people who need them," she said.
However, they both expressed support for new guidelines and rules, including limits on the number of pills prescribed in an emergency room visit. Checking the state prescription-drug monitoring database is another way to identify patients at risk of addiction or overdose.
McBride said they're also tuning in to other options, especially for long-term pain management.
"It's not always a pill for pain that solves the problem," he said. "It could be a combination of physical therapy or other modalities that work together."
He added that the medical community is just beginning to see how technology, such as the state database, can help rein in abuse.
'Part of the solution'
Tech help from the state is expected to be expanded in the coming years.
Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, introduced legislation last week that would require doctors to transmit opioid prescriptions electronically to pharmacies — eliminating paper prescriptions. Hufstetler said it's too late for a hearing on the bill this year, but he wanted to start a debate.
"There's a decent amount of opposition, especially as it relates to problems in rural communities," he said. "But I have some ideas on what we can do to fix that. I just wanted to put it out there now to start discussion off-session."
While the overall opioid prescribing rate in 2016 was 66.5 prescriptions per 100 people, some counties had rates that were seven times higher than that, according to the CDC.
Floyd County's rate was 153.3 per 100, while Chattooga's was 131.4 and Polk's was 166.8. Rome attorneys Andy Davis and Bob Finnell expect to file suit as early as this week on behalf on a number of local governments, including Rome and Floyd County.
It will join a multijurisdictional case in an Ohio federal court examining the liability manufacturers and distributors have for encouraging overprescription of the highly addictive painkillers.
Finnell said OxyContin manufacturer Purdue announced this month it would stop marketing the drug directly to physicians and cut its sales force in half.
"We think it's a big signal they're trying to send to the court that they want to be part of the solution," Finnell said.
Settlement money could be used to establish locally based initiatives to deal with the problems, he said.
Commissioner Wright Bagby Jr. said Rome and Floyd County spend close to $40 million a year on public safety and about 1,100 people are in the jail and prison on any given day. While it's not all drug-related, he said, much of it is.
Commissioner Allison Watters said there's also a connection with the homeless shelters, foster care and the closing of NWGRH.
"We can't wait for resolution of this complaint," she said.
The lawsuit is "the first step," Commission Chair Rhonda Wallace said, but the board also is planning to discuss community initiatives at its annual retreat next week.
"We'll certainly need your input along the way," she told the medical professionals at Monday's session.
Today's artwork is by East Central first-grade student Jude Newman.