Cancer Treatment Centers of America made campaign donations to all four of Floyd County's state lawmakers in the run-up to this year's Georgia General Assembly session.
The private, for-profit entity is pushing for changes to the state's Certificate of Need regulations and the cap set by the Legislature on the number of in-state patients it may serve. Georgia hospitals contend the national chain would siphon off patients who are able to pay.
Campaign finance disclosure reports covering the period of July 1, 2017, through Jan. 31, 2018, were due last week. The General Assembly convened Jan. 8 and lawmakers can't accept do nations while they're in session.
Here's a look at the war chests amassed by local delegates for their elections coming up this year. Contributions over $100 must be listed separately on the reports, which are filed with the State Ethics Commission:
Sen. Chuck Hufstetler
Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, reported donations totaling $57,804 during the reporting period, bringing his cash on hand to $142,799. CTCA gave $750.
Major donors were out-of-district political action committees and businesses, with just one individual — an anesthesiologist at Piedmont Hospital — contributing $250.
The maximum amount of $2,600 came from the campaign committee for state Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville.
Donations of $2,000 each came from Home Depot and Independent Doctors of Georgia.
AT&T gave $1,500, as did Tampa-based Comprehensive Health Management and Georgia Forestry Association.
Hufstetler drew contributions of $1,000 each from 23 political action committees representing industries ranging from construction and hospitality to communications. The medical industry, including the Georgia Hospital Association and Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals, also is on the list.
Rep. Katie Dempsey
Rep. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome, reported $26,569 in contributions this period, including $500 from CTCA. After expenditures topping $14,000 — mainly for rent on an Atlanta apartment as a base of operations — she ended the month with $25,080 in her campaign account.
None of the contributions came from within her district and just one, $200 from a human resources CEO, was from an individual.
Major donors were AT&T, at $2,000; Lakeview Behavioral Health, at $1,500; and, at the $1,000-mark, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia, Georgia Trial Lawyers Association, Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals, Georgia Association of Realtors, Georgia Hospital Association, Johnson & Johnson, Peachford Behavioral Health and Pfizer Inc.
Rep. Christian Coomer
Rep. Christian Coomer, R-Cartersville, reported cash on hand totaling $128,645 as of the end of January. Just under $102,700 came during the latest reporting period. He listed $29,815 in expenses, mainly in payments to American Express for "miscellaneous" purposes.
Among his donations were 24 from people or businesses within his district and 18 from individuals, mostly attorneys.
Maximum contributions of $2,600 came from CTCA, Adairsville businessman Gregory Bowen, Rome-based Capitol Hill Strategies, Harbin Clinic, Martin's Garage in Rome, Cartersville attorney John Mroczko, Georgia Medical PAC and the campaign fund of Sen. Butch Miller.
Taylor Transport in Cartersville chipped in $2,500 and Georgia Hospital Association gave $2,000.
Donations between $1,500 and $1,100 came from AT&T, Georgia Trial Lawyers Association, Georgia Health Care Association, Georgia Optometric Association, Georgia Power, GILA Consumer Credit, Hamrick Consulting, Southern Company, Bartow businessman Michael Tidwell, United Health Services of Georgia and Walmart.
Coomer also received $1,000-donations from 21 entities.
Rep. Eddie Lumsden
Rep. Eddie Lumsden, R-Armuchee, reported $50,839 in his campaign chest, with $22,800 coming during the latest reporting period. CTCA gave $250.
Three donations came from inside his district, including $1,000 from Summerville attorney Bobby Lee Cook and smaller amounts from Parker Systems and Jerry Purdy of Armuchee.
Major donors included Georgia Association of Realtors, $1,000; Georgia Health Care Association, $1,000; Strategic Financial Alliance, $1,500; and Sen. Butch Miller's campaign.
Read this story online for a link to see the complete disclosure reports.
How does your garden grow?
East Central sixth-graders hope their garden grows plenty of peas, tomatoes, potatoes, watermelons, strawberries, carrots and hopefully, someday, pears and blood oranges.
They may be dreaming big right now, but this garden will be a legacy they plan to leave for future generations of East Central students.
These sixth-graders will be the ones who begin the school garden, actually seeing it grow from the first seed of the idea through the planning and the planting and the first harvest.
Each grade level is tasked with working on project-based learning and sixth-grade math teacher Jessica Hewitt heard about the class garden idea at a STEAM — Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math — convention in Athens.
"It piqued my interest," she explained. "I thought it was a good way to get the students really involved and interested. Plus it is a way for them to leave a legacy and maybe they can come back to visit the school as seniors and see that it is still thriving."
The garden is encompassing all aspects of STEAM. Students in math classes are using measuring and graphing to plan the garden. In science class, they are researching which plants will grow best in the area, as well as learning how to make sure the plants thrive once planted. Also, to bring in the arts aspect, the students designed prototype gardens in an online garden app and wrote a proposal for DonorsChoose.org, so they could raise money for needed supplies.
The website is set up to help teachers get donations for classroom projects from across the country. Anyone interested in helping fund a project may simply scroll through the list and make a donation.
Hewitt's project received $1,100 from donors — not only from Rome, but from California, Arizona, Texas, New Jersey, Kansas, Ohio and Missouri, according to East Central Principal Kristin Teems.
With the donated money, Hewitt bought gardening tools and a rolling, multilevel garden tray with UV lighting so students could start planting seeds now in Hewitt's classroom and then transplant them to the garden when planting season gets here.
The sixth-graders even got to have a vote on what the garden would look like. Students split into groups and drew plans on graph paper, then used a garden planner website to polish their ideas. The groups presented their ideas to everyone and the sixth-graders voted on their favorite. The students will begin building the winning entry — a raised garden bed in the shape of an "EC" for East Central — in the next few weeks.
School officials have even discovered a way to use recycled pallets for the garden beds, Teems said.
"We researched online and found a site devoted to how to build a raised garden bed out of untreated pallets," she said.
Students are excited about the project, Hewitt said. While some students may get to garden at home in their backyards, most of them do not have any hands-on experience with planting and tending vegetable gardens.
"The raised garden will be an opportunity for them to see how food gets to the grocery store," explained Teems. "Say you're looking at a tomato in the grocery store. What went into getting that tomato there? We want them to understand the process and the work involved. You can't just dig in the dirt and throw a seed in the ground. We want them to be a part of this every step of the way."
Teems said she expects her students will enjoy just seeing the results of their work.
"Seeing their efforts through a harvest will be incredible for them," she said.
The final decision on what to do with the harvest has not been made yet, said Hewitt.
"We will probably sell some and donate some," she said. "One student had the idea of potting some of the plants and giving them to nursing homes."
There is no need to worry about the garden during the summer break, either, Hewitt added.
"My mom is a master gardener, so she is very excited about coming to the school during the summer to tend it and make sure it is ready for the next round of sixth-graders," she said.
Today's art is by Rome Middle School eighth-grader Caleb Carranza.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is now taking online reservations for all of its campsites at eight different campgrounds on the sprawling Lake Allatoona.
Lead Ranger Chris Purvis said the Corps believes that taking the reservations in advance online will provide campers with some degree of certainty when it comes to being able to get a campsite. In the past, approximately 90 percent of the lake's campsites could be reserved in advance with just a relative handful of sites kept available on a daily first-come, first-serve basis.
Campground fees range from $18 per night to $56 per night. Many of the various campsites come equipped with 50 amp electric and water hookups. Some are open to the lake and some have hot shower facilities.
The McKinney Campground is open year-round.
However the other seven managed by the Corps — Sweetwater Creek, McCaskey Creek, Clark Creek, Old Highway 41, Payne, Upper Stamp Creek and Victoria — are all seasonal facilities.
The McKinney Campground has 150 campsites, Sweetwater Creek has 151 sites, Victoria has 74 campsites, Payne has 60, McCaskey Creek has 51, Old Highway 41 has 44 camp pads, Clark Creek 21 and Upper Stamp Creek 20.
Sweetwater Creek also has a large group camping facility which comes with a $225 a night charge.
Reservations can be made by visiting Recreation.gov or by calling 1-877-444-6777. Patrons will still have the opportunity to reserve a campsite on a same-day, walk-up basis, pending availability.
For additional information contact Park Ranger Josh Davis at 678-721-6700.
The Floyd County Commission is slated to set the qualifying fees Tuesday for county offices up for election this year.
Three seats on the commission and two on the Floyd County Board of Education will be on the ballot. Fees are expected to be set at $216 for the commission and $144 for the school board, equal to 3 percent of their annual salaries.
Candidates for the partisan seats will qualify March 5 through 9 with the local parties, at locations that will be announced later. The primary is May 22.
All five incumbents — Scotty Hancock, Larry Maxey and Rhonda Wallace on the commission and Tony Daniel and Chip Hood on the school board — have said they expect to seek re-election. All are Republicans.
Candidates for state and federal offices will qualify at the state capitol in Atlanta. The Georgia secretary of state has already set the fee for state legislators at $400 and U.S. representative at $5,220. Local incumbents have said they'll be running for new terms.
The two Floyd County Superior Court seats that will be on the ballot also are part of the state system. The nonpartisan election will be decided in the primary. The qualifying fee is set at $3,787.95.
The County Commission caucus starts at 2 p.m. Tuesday with the regular session set for 4 p.m. in the County Administration Building. Both meetings are public.
Also on the agenda are special recognitions of several county employees who helped others in emergency situations.
County Manager Jamie Mc-Cord is also slated to present the 2017 annual report and the board is expected to approve a contract with West Co. to clear trees and brush from four acres of vacant industrial land off Prosperity Way at no more than $4,500 an acre.