The newest addition to Rome and Floyd County’s recreational opportunities, a disc golf course at Shag Williams Park in Shannon, is the result of a public-private partnership that has not cost local taxpayers any new money.
The 18-hole, par 58 course is the result of a partnership between the Parks & Rec department and a local non-profit the Rome Disc Golf Club.
There used to be a disc golf course in Ridge Ferry Park but the loss of trees in the park through the years basically put that course off-line. While some folks thought disc golf was gone locally, Scott Wheeler said they just went elsewhere to play — to courses at Berry College and Shorter University.
“We’ve kind of been out of sight, out of mind,” Wheeler said.
In the meantime, Parks & Rec Executive Director Todd Wofford had the foresight to save the baskets (holes, for you regular golfers) from Ridge Ferry Park and put them in storage in the event they might be used again someday.
As it turns out, someday is now.
Wofford was able to save 14 of the baskets ,which have been put into use at Shannon. Those represent par 3 holes. The Rome Disc Golf Club raised about $2,000 and purchased four new red baskets, which denote the par 4 holes on the new course.
Basic Ready Mix donated the concrete for the tee boxes on the course and prison labor helped pour the boxes.
The front nine at Shannon are basically wide open holes, with a few challenging trees. The back nine, however, is much more technical and meanders through a wooded are on the north side of the park. There are no sand traps, but after a rain, the course in Shannon does have some low-lying standing water and drainage ditch hazards.
Allen Brown and Josh Pilgrim spent the better part of two years walking the park and designing the course.
“We wanted to make the course fun and playable while at the same time making it accessible for beginners,” Pilgrim said. “It took several months and we made changes along the way. We even changed a couple of holes the day before they poured concrete.”
The par 3 holes are generally 300 feet or less while the par 4 holes can range up to 700 feet.
The sport is a lot more involved than the casual observer might imagine. When you watch a tournament in action, the players are toting around a backpack with different discs in it, kind of like a golf bag.
“We have putters, we have mid-range discs, we have drivers. They all do different things and fly different ways,” Wheeler said.
Wheeler said there is a huge disc golf tournament circuit across the Southeast and the local group is hoping to bring some of that action to Shannon in the future.
“It’s the perfect thing for anyone to do, young or old alike,” Wheeler said. “There are a lot of young people coming out and a lot of retired folks are picking it up as well. It’s a low-impact something to do while you walk.”
The course is free to play at the public park at 40 Minshew Road in Shannon.
The Forum River Center will be offering more than ice skating the weekend before Thanksgiving.
AMP Rome’s Winter Wonderland Carnival & Ice Festival is a showcase of different cultures from around the world, celebrating the winter season.
“This is a wonderful event that’s for everyone, regardless of ethnicity or beliefs,” Executive Director Mark Van Leuven said.
Van Leuven got the inspiration for the inaugural event from the Advent Markets of Europe.
“When I was younger, I spent a few Advent seasons backpacking through Central Europe,” Van Leuven said.
“The villages would close down late in the afternoon and the citizens open up vendor booths, food booths and regale the town with seasonal entertainment.”
The purpose of the event is to bring the community together to learn more about the different cultural backgrounds Rome residents share.
A Kwanzaa booth, a Hanukkah booth and a Winter Solstice booth are just a few examples of the kinds of displays that will be present at the festival. Jerusalem Grill will have their own Palestinian display as well.
“Art activities, games, skits, artisans, artists and food vendors will be present at the event,” AMP President Jessie Reed said.
Giant inflatables and carnival games make up the carnival part of the event. These will be outside the Forum on the Town Green.
“Last year we had theme days, but this year we want to focus on the vendors and carnival games.” Reed said.
Unlike last year, the event will take place not just around the ice rink, but also along the hallways, the ballroom and outside.
The Winter Wonderland Carnival & Ice Festival is free for people to attend. It will run Saturday, Nov. 23, and Sunday, Nov. 24, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Mitchell Plaza — the fountain and brick-paver installation along the side of the Rome Area History Museum — was freshened up a bit last week with a new plaque.
The plaque makes it clear to all that the plaza is dedicated to the memory of former Rome City Commission Chairman Martin Hardin “Buddy” Mitchell, and not one of Rome’s “founding five,” Daniel Mitchell.
Buddy Mitchell’s son David said the new plaque is another way to show that Rome has always found a way to make the past part of the present and still be focused on the future.
“Daddy always wanted to see Rome grow and expand and he was fortunate to serve with other like-minded commissioners to play a role in always putting everyone in Rome’s interests, above any single group or neighborhood,” David Mitchell said.
The brickwork in the street illustrates the confluence of the Oostanaula and Etowah rivers to form the Coosa, just a few blocks away. “It also embodies his hope that where waters converge civic responsibility is what will flow forward,” David Mitchell said.
The importance of civic responsibility has been passed down through the Mitchell family.
David Mitchell is director of operations for the Atlanta Preservation Center and founder of the M.H. Mitchell Foundation.
Buddy Mitchell’s daughter, Mary Hardin Thornton, is a Heart of the Community award recipient. She spent more than a decade as director of the Keep Rome-Floyd Beautiful program and is now director of special services for the Parks & Recreation Department.
“Daddy would wake us up every morning and say, ‘It’s another great day in America.’ Before we left the house he told us to remember that we represented our family and Rome, Georgia, wherever we went,” Mary Hardin Thornton said. “He truly embodied Rotary’s motto of ‘Service Above Self.’”
Even to the next generation, the importance of civic service has not been lost on Mitchell’s grandchildren.
David Mitchell’s son, Liam Dellinger Yoakley Mitchell, 13, was able to serve as a page during the 2019 session of the Georgia General Assembly thanks to state Rep. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome. Thornton’s son Wyatt Thornton, 16, is currently exhibiting his collection of flags at the history museum. Her youngest son, Henry Thornton, 13, is parliamentarian in the student government at St. Mary’s Catholic School.
Folks were lined up outside the Forum River Center Sunday for the opening of the Forum on Ice.
A special portable skating rink and ice slide have been set up inside the arena, coupled with murals and decorated Christmas trees to create a winter wonderland inside the facility in downtown Rome.
John Scott and Sarah Husser were there with children shortly after the doors opened, ready to hit the ice. “We just learned (how to skate) last year and came pretty frequently so now we’re back this year,” he said.
Kenny and Stephanie Losch of Rockmart brought their son Zaven and daughter Braylee up for opening day. The whole family wasted no time in donning their skates for an hour or so on the ice before the kids swapped skates for an inner tube to ride down the ice slide.
The slide, a new addition this year, drops from a height of about 10 feet and sends sliders down a chute for maybe 75 feet. Kenny Losch said he suspects the family would be back several more times during the holiday season.
Young Romans Makayla and Avery Royer were also first-time visitors to the ice rink.
Avery, the younger sister, was brave enough to try navigating the ice rink without one of the push carts to help her balance. A series of three falls in a row had her grandmother, Wendy Ford, howling with laughter on the sideline. Makayla opted for the push cart until she got a better handle on her balance with skates.
Blanche Thornton Orr was among a handful of visitors who just came to watch. Orr said she used to live in New York and enjoyed watching the skaters at Rockefeller Center.
“We just wanted to see what Rome had to offer and this is beautiful. I think it’s really good for Rome,” Orr said.
The brainchild of Forum River Center marketing chief Tom Kislat, the Forum on Ice will remain open through Jan. 6 to take advantage of the entire holiday period for local schoolchildren and teachers.
Admission is $12 for a skate-and-slide combo, just $10 for skaters only and $5 for those who only want to use the slide. It’s free to watch.
Visitors receive wristbands that are good for all-day use. That means people can come early in the day, take time off to enjoy some holiday shopping or a meal downtown and then go back to the arena for more fun on the ice.
Hours are Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday noon to 6 p.m. Check the Forum’s Facebook page for intermittent closures due to special events.