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Local anglers win big in crappie tournament
• A team from Rome and another from Cave Spring take the honors on Weiss Lake.

Floyd County fishermen swept the top spots at the Crappie USA tournament this weekend, winning cash prizes and a chance to advance to the prestigious Cabela's Crappie USA Classic this fall.

John Hendrix and Kevin Randall of Rome won first place in the Pro Division of the Saturday event that drew more than 100 anglers from several states to Weiss Lake.

The team reeled in a total of 11.54 pounds and walked away with $1,500.

Hendrix and Randall moved from cove to cove in 7 to 10 feet of water and caught 35 keepers, according to a release from Crappie USA spokeswoman Shelly Clark. They mostly used black/chartreuse and blue/white Big Bite Baits.

Second place went to Blake and Stanley Phillips of Alabama, with 50 fish totaling 10.71 pounds, and the team of Donnie Burris and Larry Buis of Kentucky pulled in 10.18 pounds.

Joe Hayes and Phil Trapp of Cave Spring took home the gold in the Amateur Division.

With 25 fish totaling 11 pounds, Hayes and Trapp won $1,100 plus the $250 Ranger Cup bonus and the $500 Talon Cup bonus. Clark said the team fished the Riverside area of the lake, in various depths of water, with live bait.

Max and Know Wilson of Centre, Alabama, were second with 9.95 pounds and the team of Robert Lemming of Summerville and Chris Anderson of Fort Payne took third with 9.67 pounds.

The Crappie USA Classic is set for Oct. 3-6 on Lake Cumberland in Somerset, Kentucky, and will have a payout of $125,000 in cash and prizes.

3 days remain for bills to 'cross over'
• Local lawmakers are pushing legislation on gun permits, medical bills, foster care and Cave Spring.

Rep. Christian Coomer

Rep. Katie Dempsey

Sen. Chuck Hufstetler

Rep. Eddie Lumsden

A bill dealing with weapons carry permits for mentally ill or addicted Georgians introduced by Rep. Christian Coomer late last week has just three days to pass the House.

Local lawmakers will be scrambling to get their legislation passed to the other chamber by midnight Wednesday, the Crossover Day deadline after which the bills are no longer considered.

Coomer, R-Cartersville, is the majority whip and hasn't signed on to many bills this session. His House Bill 999, submitted Thursday, would clarify that only applicants involuntarily committed to a mental hospital or drug or alcohol treatment center could be denied a gun permit.

Currently, state law lets a probate court judge make the call on any applicant who's spent time in such a facility — voluntarily or involuntarily — during the past five years.

The bill needs a committee hearing and full House vote by Wednesday to remain alive for the session.

Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, also has a piece of legislation that requires fast work. His Senate Bill 471, submitted last week, would require prescriptions for Schedule II or Schedule III drugs to be electronically transmitted to pharmacies.

Hufstetler also will be shepherding two bills through Senate floor votes.

His SB 359 addresses so-called "surprise" medical bills patients can receive from out-of-network providers.

SB 355 nullifies a state law that lets utilities charge ratepayers the cost of financing construction of nuclear generating facilities. Hufstetler was trying to take aim at cost-overruns at Georgia Power's Plant Vogtle but the measure was changed in committee to apply only to new projects.

"At least it'll end it going forward," he said.

Reps. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome, and Eddie Lumsden, R-Armuchee, both have bills slated for House votes today.

Lumsden's HB 921 — cosponsored by Dempsey and Coomer — would let Cave Spring raise its hotel/motel tax to 8 percent from 5 percent. He also has a vote scheduled on HB 760, which would require insurance companies to give advance notice of a reduction in coverage.

Dempsey will be presenting her HB 906, which would close records on foster parents or former foster parents that reveal personal information or identify immediate family members or dependants.

She's also trying to schedule votes on HB 494, which expands safety oversight provisions at daycare and early learning centers, and HB 920, which allows wider access to information about a child in foster care in the case of a near-fatality or allegations of abuse.

Mowry: Coyotes replace wolves in SE
Coyote Challenge challenged by Berry professor

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is bringing back its controversial Coyote Challenge for a second year. The program was conceived of to rein in the growing coyote population across the state.

A year ago, hunters were encouraged to take down a coyote and bring the carcass to any of a number of DNR offices. Hunters could take an unlimited number of coyotes, but could only enter five a month in a monthly drawing for lifetime hunting and fishing licenses.

This year hunters will earn up to 10 entries into three drawings that will be held every other month from March through August for the lifetime licenses, a $750 value.

Berry College associate professor of biology Chris Mowry said the hunt is a bad idea for several reasons. Mowry, the leader of the Atlanta Coyote Project, said killing top predators disrupts the ecosystem.

"The coyote is now probably assuming the role of top predator. Some will argue that they are not native, but they are here because we wiped out the red wolf and it allowed the coyote to move in."

"Negative interactions with coyotes are an ongoing issue for many citizens, from rural land managers to suburban homeowners," says John Bowers, Chief of Game Management for the DNR Wildlife Resources Division in a press release. "While many hunters, trappers and landowners already make use of the fact that coyotes can be taken year round, the Coyote Challenge emphasizes the utility of removing these non-native predators during the critical spring-summer period for landowners concerned about native wildlife."

Mowry said that at one point the DNR's own website said that despite its reputation as a nuisance species, the coyote is actually beneficial in keeping other species in check.

"They are predators, but there are studies that have come out recently that have shown that there is no strong evidence that coyotes are impacting, in any great way, deer populations. Will they take the occasional deer? Sure, more than likely in the form of a fawn," Mowry said. "We just don't see any evidence that they are decimating some population of any particular species."

Sportsmen are being asked to take a photo of the coyote with a smartphone and email the photo to Photos must include the entire, intact carcass. Hunters will then receive an auto-reply that will provide a link to the entry form.

Richey looks back on 3 decades with RPD
• The first black female officer plans to retire as school resource officer at Rome High at the end of the school year.

Pam Richey

In three weeks Pam Richey will hit her 34th anniversary with the Rome Police Department, but it will be her last with the force as she heads into retirement later this year, capping off a career that started with her being the first black female officer.

"My time at the department has been bittersweet," she said, adding there have been moments of enjoyment and laughter, but also disappointment and sadness. "But the ride has been great."

For the last four years Richey has been the school resource officer at Rome High School — a job she took after getting burnt out from the grind of regular police work, she said. From March 19, 1984, up until that time, she had been a patrol officer, a member of the SWAT team and Rome-Floyd Metro Drug Task Force, as well as a hostage negotiator.

"I'd been there, done that, seen that," she said.

In taking the job, not wanting to be stuck behind a desk, Richey looked at it as an opportunity to make a difference in students' lives, not in an officer's role but like that of a parent. She said she has strived to be a caring adult to the students and attempted to guide them toward a positive future.

Richey said she is friendly and outgoing and loves working with people.

The key to being an officer, she said, is to always maintain the same persona regardless of where she was, in the streets or in the office.

"It just depends on how you treat people as a whole for how they will accept you," she said.

After graduating from Polk County Schools, Richey had initially wanted to go to school to be a gym teacher. But her life took a different trajectory when she got married and moved to Columbus with her husband, who was in the military.

As a people person, she said it influenced her wanting to get into police work. So in 1981, she joined the Cartersville Police Department, where she stayed for three years before coming to Rome. She always felt welcome by her fellow officers, and as a woman. She said Elaine Peek Snow, the first female officer and later the first woman police chief, and others had paved the way for her.

However, she did say that when she went out, "the blacks were surprised to see me."

Richey wanted to get involved in all that she could, which is why she ended up on the SWAT team. One of her most memorable experiences was repelling off the fire department's training tower off North Avenue. She was initially hesitant about it, "But I loved it once I did it," she said. She could not "shoot worth a crap," she laughed, but the team was never actually called on to respond.

When she retires at the end of the school year in May, Richey plans to visit her grandchildren in Alabama and Virginia along with relatives in Los Angeles, spending some "actual quality time" with them. She also wants to get a family dog, of no particular breed, and name it Guthrie, which came to her one night, she laughed.

For the department she will leave behind, Richey said "We're gonna go a long way." They'll be a model for other departments, she continued, referring to the younger command staff, female chiefs and an all around young force.


Today's artwork is by Luke Hastings, a kindergartner at East Central Elementary School.