Two more candidates qualified Wednesday, setting up contested races in both Rome City Commission wards — and Cave Spring's Nov. 5 election is canceled.
Cave Spring City Clerk Judy Dickinson said just three candidates had filed to run for the three open seats by the time the qualifying period ended at 4:30 p.m.
Incumbent City Council-members Tom Lindsey and Joyce Mink are unopposed for new terms. Former mayor Rob Ware was the only qualifier for the mayoral seat.
"They won't take office until January, but there's no election," Dickinson said.
Mayor Dennis Shoaf, who has been battling health problems, said he decided not to run for office right now, although he may be back in another two or four years. "I love Cave Spring and I love being a public servant," Shoaf said. "Bottom line, though — toward the last part of my term I saw I didn't have enough time to give to the employees and the citizens of Cave Spring. And that's not fair."
Still, Shoaf said he has a list of items he wants to accomplish in the next four months and he doesn't intend to be a "lame duck" through the end of his term on Dec. 31.
Rome candidates have through Friday at 5 p.m. to qualify for the six open seats on the City Commission.
Incumbent Craig McDaniel qualified Wednesday to seek a second term in Ward 3.
He's the fourth to file for the three open seats, joining incumbent Bill Collins, retiree Bonny Askew and attorney J.J. Walker Seifert. The third Ward 3 commissioner, Evie McNiece, has not said if she intends to run.
Charles Love, a co-founder of the North Rome Community Action Committee, qualified Wednesday to run for one of the three Ward 1 seats.
In addition to his notice of candidacy, Love submitted a statement from the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles certifying that his civil and political rights are restored. He served nearly a year in federal prison after pleading guilty in the 2005 "Tennessee Waltz" bribery sting that brought down a number of high-placed state politicians.
Although Love was a Hamilton County school board member at the time, he said his connection was through his job as a lobbyist. He admitted delivering money to lawmakers in exchange for their votes, but said Wednesday that he took responsibility and learned his lesson. "I regret having done that ... but it did not have anything to do with the board of education. I did not violate the public trust," Love said.
More than 30 supporters went with Love to City Hall, and they cheered as he made a campaign speech from the steps before going in to qualify. He spoke of how they banded together in North Rome to improve their community.
When asked if his conviction over a decade ago would affect his candidacy, he referred to the group. "I would say look at what I've done since I've been in Rome," Love said.
Three other candidates are also qualified to run for a Ward 1 seat: incumbents Milton Slack and Bill Irmscher and architect Mark Cochran. The third incumbent, Sundai Stevenson, has not said yet if she will seek reelection.
Floyd Medical Center has lost its appeal of a Department of Community Health decision to deny the hospital a certificate of need to provide open heart surgical services.
The decision comes after 19 days of hearings on the appeal between mid-December 2018 and the last week of February this year.
It took hearing officer William Joy almost six months following the final hearing to confirm the original DCH decision to deny the service.
FMC President Kurt Stuenkel said he was not completely surprised by the decision.
"We continue to believe in the merits of our application to provide open heart surgery at Floyd Medical Center and we will keep moving forward with our appeal," Stuenkel said.
The application was originally denied on June 25, 2018, along with similar applications from Hamilton Medical Center in Dalton and Tanner Medical Center in Carrollton. Both Hamilton and Tanner lost their appeals as well.
Redmond Regional Medical Center, which has provided open heart services for over 20 years, objected to FMC being permitted to start up an open heart program while WellStar Kennestone Hospital filed an objection to the Tanner application.
The FMC project would have involved 6,400 square feet of new construction, 5,450 square feet of renovated space, and approximately two dozen new employees, all which would have cost $16.6 million.
FMC's appeal was based on a number of factors including a claim that the needs of lower income and African-American demographic groups are not being adequately served by the Redmond program.
FMC also argued that Redmond's average charge was well above the state average, however the original rejection of the service ruling stated there was no evidence to show that Redmond had denied open heart services to anyone based on their ability to pay.
FMC is also asking the courts to intervene in a decision by the Department of Community Health, and upheld on appeal, to allow Redmond to move forward with the start up of an obstetrics unit.
See Rome Braves news in Sports on page B1 and see recaps of Rome Braves games — including Wednesday's game against the Kannapolis Intimidators — inside Sports on page B2.
Historic preservationists from across the state will have a first-hand opportunity to watch historic heart pine burn during their annual conference in Rome in September.
A demonstration to illustrate how different materials burn will also include a presentation by Rome Fire Marshal Mary Catherine Chewning about the potential causes for a fire that destroyed a historic home on East Fourth Avenue in January.
Brittany Griffin, a historic preservation specialist in the Rome-Floyd Planning office, said the live-burn demonstration will also include vinyl siding, fiber cement, cement siding and new wood siding.
Griffin said the fire department personnel will talk about how the heart pine can spontaneously catch fire if it gets too hot.
The statewide Historic Preservation Conference will be held in Rome Sept. 18 to 20.
The HPC only had one project on its agenda Wednesday.
Unanimous approval was given Lauren Heller for the rebuild of a front porch at 312 E. Third Ave. Wood rot and water drainage have caused serious problems to the porch over the years.
The project will include the elimination of a second story balcony and door leading from the balcony into the second floor of the residence, which is thought to have been constructed circa 1908.
Griffin also told HPC members that she will apply for a state grant in December to start a major historic resource survey update. The first phase of the multi-year project will focus on the Between the Rivers Historic District in 2020, the East Rome Historic District in 2021, with the rest of Rome's historic districts finished in 2022.
The project is done in phases and the state will not consider more than 800 properties in any given stage.
The last survey of the Between the Rivers District was completed in 1993 while the East Rome District was last surveyed in 1998.
Earlier this month the Rome City Commission tabled a request to remove four properties on East Seventh Street from the East Rome Historic District pending completion of the survey, which now appears to be nearly two years off.
Rome's film festival has been awarded a grant that will foster artistic growth in a younger generation of artists and filmmakers throughout the region and beyond.
The Rome Area Council for the Arts has named the Rome International Film Festival the recipient of a $2,500 grant to enhance its new RIFF Student Scholars program which is geared toward high school and college students region-wide. The grant makes it possible to offer film festival passes to 100 students at a reduced rate, creating a unique opportunity for those who qualify.
"This is an educational and networking opportunity unlike any other offered in the area," said RIFF Executive Director Seth Ingram. "This not only encourages teens and young adults to get involved in film and media arts, but presents scenarios for them to network with filmmakers and other industry professionals."
RIFF Student Scholars will have access to all film screenings as well as workshops led by film industry experts during RIFF, which is slated for Nov. 6-10 at the Historic DeSoto Theatre and Rome City Auditorium.
RIFF's grant opportunity is just one of several new changes that strengthen the festival — now in its 16th year — with more advanced, user-friendly technologies as well as substantial operational growth.
"We have several announcements coming down the pipeline," said President of RIFF's Board of Directors Jesse Bishop. "Every one of these new changes will benefit our film festival, but for now, all we can say is 'stay tuned.'"
RIFF passes on sale, sponsorship, volunteer opportunities open
Passes ranging from allaccess to single-day are available for purchase, and Festival Executive Director Seth Ingram encourages people to get them now.
"With so many amazing films to screen, surprise celebrity attendances and great networking opportunities, we encourage people to support the art of independent filmmaking and the presence of RIFF in Northwest Georgia," said Ingram.
Each year, RIFF brings in film fans and filmmakers from all over the world. This sparks an interest for movies to be filmed throughout the Northwest Georgia region, which can reap positive economic impacts.
RIFF sponsorships put Northwest Georgia on the map and help inform visiting filmmakers, patrons and tourists about the businesses, restaurants, hotels and other unique features the area has to offer.
"RIFF sponsors receive customized partnerships and branding opportunities through over $100,000 of media and an effective social media campaign," said Douglas Collins, Development Director. "We have educational workshops, feature films, and events that can leverage our sponsors' marketing dollars and deliver powerful results while enriching the arts in our community."
Those interested in becoming a sponsor or learning about marketing opportunities offered by the festival may contact Collins at email@example.com, call 775.742.8403, or visit riffga.com/sponsors.
RIFF would not be possible without the help of countless volunteers. Melissa Rutledge, now a RIFF board member, has volunteered for the festival in the past and said it was unforgettable.
"Our volunteers work sideby-side with board members, staff, and programmers to help keep the festival and all its moving parts running smoothly," says Rutledge. "If you've ever aspired to take part in the booming film industry, volunteering at a film festival is a great place to start."
Festival volunteers also receive the benefits of free passes for all films and a t-shirt. To review volunteer guidelines and sign up, visit riffga.com/volunteer.
Norah Hammond, kindergartner at St. Mary's Catholic School