Rome crews will be adjusting the downtown parking signs this week after the City Commission extended the length of time and cut the enforcement hours for on-street parking.
Drivers will be able to park free for up to three hours a day in the district that centers on Broad Street, including a block on either side. Enforcement hours are from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
"Three hours is plenty of time, two hours is not," said Ira Levy, a downtown developer who polled 75 business and property owners this month.
Plans were to allow just two hours of on-street parking — at one time or spread out through the day — and to enforce the ordinance from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
But when the new rules and signage went up last month a public outcry convinced the commission to suspend the change.
The change is part of a longterm plan to switch to paid on-street parking on Broad and free parking in the downtown decks. It's happening in steps, while the Downtown Development Authority collects data on parking patterns via license-plate reader technology.
Several alternate proposals were presented at the commission's Monday caucus, from the DDA and merchants Levy polled. But the board ultimately decided to adopt the 3-hour standard, for now.
"We have to stop the delays and confusion," Commissioner Sundai Stevenson said. "Get the data and, in three months, if it's a problem we'll come back and change it then."
The Rome City Schools Board of Education met for their first meeting of the summer Tuesday evening that focused on new programs and mental health counselors for the next school year.
Director of School Improvement Leslie Dixon presented to the board two new programs recommended by the system's Health/Sex/Aids Advisory Committee. Dixon recommended adding "Tar Wars" into the current sixth grade curriculum which discusses the dangers of e-cigarettes and vaping.
"Just because they don't contain tar doesn't mean they are OK to use," she said. "We are behind the eight ball on this one."
Vaping cartridges are being sold with fruity flavors and packaged to look like markers she said. It doesn't take much to hide vaping and the system needs to train staff to be on the look out as well as teach kids the dangers of e-cigarettes, she continued.
Two legislative study committees will examine the roles of physician assistants and advanced practice registered nurses with an eye to possibly expanding them next year.
Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, will chair his chamber's committee, he told members of the Rome Seven Hills Rotary Club on Tuesday. The Georgia House created a similar committee.
"We're going to look at regulations nationally and in the state and try to come up with a scope of practice — who can do what," Hufstetler said.
"That's always contentious," he added.
APRNs include nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, nurse anesthetists and nurse midwives. PAs have the equivalent of a master's degree, rather than a doctorate, from a program that includes thousands of hours of clinical work.
They work under the oversight of a physician, who can delegate certain functions allowed by law.
Hufstetler said Georgia has tighter restrictions on PAs and APRNs than many other states.
Rome's improved status as a Tier Three in terms of general economic development status means that when the next federal fiscal year rolls around in October, the local match for Appalachian Regional Commission grants will increase from 30% to 50%.
Community Development Director Bekki Fox told Community Development Services committee members Tuesday that the city has been encouraged to apply for a special grant to assist with improvements in the North Fifth Avenue/West Third Street area before the match goes up.
Fox said the city will apply for a $600,000 grant and will be allowed to use SPLOST funds already earmarked for improvements in what is being dubbed the River District, as the local match.
Fox also told the committee that her office has taken in 19 applications for new affordable housing that is being constructed on Pollock Street and South Broad Street in South Rome, and one of the four homes is already under contract.
Fox said a representative of the ARC actually approached her office with the idea of seeking a grant while the match was significantly reduced.