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Bluegrass folks return to Armuchee
• The Armuchee Labor Day Bluegrass Festival heads into its 46th year this weekend.

For Chuck Langley and his late wife Kricket, there were always two groups of people in their lives: "Our mission people and our bluegrass people."

But his work for one group recently led to recognition by the other, as Langley was the recipient of the Humanitarian Award by the Atlanta Society of Entertainers at its 44th annual awards celebration Aug. 19. The award honored Langley, who co-founded the Armuchee Bluegrass Festival with his wife in 1972, for his decades-long mission work in Central and South America as well as Africa.

The first mission trip Langley, a member of the North Rome Church of God, took with the Men of Action group was in 1985, traveling to Haiti. By the time of his wife's passing in 2012, they had gone on more than 100 mission trips together.

His latest award is framed and ready to adorn a wall alongside his others such as those for best venue and lifetime achievement in the clubhouse at the Armuchee Music Park, which is filling up by the day as the 46th annual Armuchee Labor Day Bluegrass Festival approaches this week.

"This shows you God loves bluegrass and bluegrass people," Langley said of never having a festival rained out in more than four decades.

Some familiar faces in the "bluegrass circle of friends" have already set up their campers at 899 Turkey Mountain Road, as final preparations are being made before the Thursday night festival opening, a jam-a-long and cookout, at 6 p.m. Langley, as is the case every year, fires up the grill to cook his famous, well at least amongst bluegrass folks, chicken legs, while the hundreds of visitors bring a covered dish.

After the meal, jam sessions take up around campfires outside RVs and campers. And even throughout the two days of performances on Friday and Saturday, there are people playing bluegrass tunes beyond the stage, no matter the time.

Gary Kaste, a Minnesota native now living in

Murphy, North Carolina, said bluegrass and jazz are the only types of music where a group of strangers can sit down and start playing together without a hiccup. Then they can part ways without ever knowing each other's names, said the rhythm guitar player who hits the road playing music about 20 days each month.

"Bluegrass is the little cement that keeps them together," said Jerry Burke, of the Hickory Wind Bluegrass Band, an inductee to the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame.

Around a table in the clubhouse late last week, Langley joined Jerry Burke and his wife Helen in chatting about the bluegrass tradition and recalling the names of players of old, while also reminiscing about the days when country was actually country music.

"Country's not country anymore," said Helen Burke, a sentiment supported by Langley and her husband. "We don't want bluegrass to go the way country did."

"Country music has forgotten its roots," Langley chimed in, "it has become more about money than music and less about the songs than what sells."

The Burkes makes these observations after a lifetime of playing music. The music is rooted in their childhoods, when Helen used a broom handle as a microphone and fell asleep to the greats of the Grand Ole Opry on the radio, and Jerry would walk up the road to a neighbor's home in rural Chatham County, North Carolina, on Saturday nights to take up playing the fiddle at 14.

"It's been there forever," said Jerry Burke of bluegrass music, ever since a country boy took to picking in his spare time.

Jerry Burke likes to tell the story of growing up with country legend Charlie Daniels. When he was a senior in high school and Daniels was a freshman, the two would go down by the Deep River and play. During one of these backcountry sessions, Burke struck up a tune he had been messing around with, he said, humming the fiddle opening to "The South's Gonna Do It Again," a Daniels' classic.

"I went into the Navy and he went on to the big time," he laughed.

Recently, Jerry and his wife went to see Daniels and his band play. When they went backstage to see him, Jerry recalled Daniels loudly welcoming him without pause, like the time between their youth and old age did not exist.

"He hasn't forgot," he said, adding Daniels signed his fiddle and gave him a gold fiddle brooch. "That's music for ya."

Bands hit the stage Friday starting at 4:45 p.m. and play into the night. Then on Saturday morning, the music picks back up again at 10:45 a.m. A three-day pass is $21, while admission costs $10 on Friday and $12 on Saturday. The festival comes to a close Sunday with a 9:30 a.m. worship service.

For those wishing to stay out at music park for the weekend, electric and water hookups for campers are $20 per night, while tent camping is $5 per night. To find out more about camping call 706-766-6352 or visit the festival's Facebook page.

Police equipment, playing fields on city agenda

The Rome City Commission is slated to sign off tonight on a federal grant application for nearly $20,000 to buy evidence-gathering equipment for the city and county police departments.

Rome will administer the annual Byrne Justice Equipment Grant under an agreement worked out by the city and county managers.

Floyd County police will get $3,800 for two new RADAR speed detection systems and a hand-held alcohol detection device. The goal, according to the application, is to identify accident-causing behaviors before a crash.

City police will use the balance of the $19,190 JAG grant to offset the cost of a $21,400 Sokkia iX-505 Robotic Total Station.

One officer can use the portable equipment to quickly collect and store a variety of measurements for accident reconstruction and crime scene processing. The state-of-the-art total station will replace 15-year-old, obsolete technology.

Commissioners are scheduled to caucus at 5 p.m. and start their regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. in City Hall, 601 Broad St.

Both sessions are open to the public.

The caucus will feature an informal update on Land Bank Authority activities from Community Development Director Bekki Fox. The joint city-county agency is tasked with getting condemned, confiscated or abandoned properties back on the tax rolls.

Several public hearings are slated for the regular session, including a request for annexation of a home at 56 Honeysuckle Ridge Road.

A final hearing and ruling from the board also is expected on a request for a special use permit to allow the YMCA to use property at 803, 805 and 807 Darlington Way as greenspace and soccer fields. Mary and Fred Taylor are donating the lots, and the existing rental houses will be demolished.

The board also is expected to approve the Rome-Floyd County Fire Department's plan to take official responsibility for enforcing fire safety standards on new building construction.

Currently, the department conducts plan reviews and inspections under the authority of the state insurance commissioner's office. Fire Chief Troy Brock said the work has been done at no charge but a state audit resulted in an order to collect fees from builders.

Rather than pass the revenue to the state, the fire department will become the enforcement authority. Floyd County Commissioners approved the transfer of responsibility last month.

City Commissioners also are expected to approve an agreement to devote up to $452,000 in state Community HOME Investment Program funds to build four homes on Pollock Street in South Rome.

The project is a continuation of the community development HOMEBuild initiative aimed at expanding the stock of affordable housing in the city. The properties are to be sold to qualified households with incomes at or below 80 percent of the area median income.

Coop construction: building progress on Shorter Avenue Chick-fil-A

Deer-car collisions in Rome signal increase in activity

Rome police investigated three reports of deer crashing into moving cars in the span of two days last week and Georgia Department of Natural Resources officials say the danger will be escalating through the fall.

Two of the collisions happened during the morning. One occurred just after 5:30 p.m. No injuries requiring medical attention were reported.

A driver on Callier Springs Road near U.S. 411 around 9:30 a.m. Tuesday said a deer ran down a hill and into his 1967 Ford Mustang. The impact caused the car to drive up on the curb and into the tree line.

The car hit several trees and had to be towed from the scene.

Later that evening a deer ran in front of a 2016 Volvo Premier northbound on Turner Chapel Road at Surrey Trail, damaging the left side of the front bumper and leaving hair in the headlight.

A collision also was reported on North Division Street at Battey Drive just before 8 a.m. Wednesday. A deer crossing Division Street ran into a southbound 2006 Acura 3.2TL.

Officials with the DNR's Wildlife Resources Division sent out an alert this week urging motorists to pay extra attention to the roadsides as the season of peak deer activity approaches.

"Keep in mind that deer often travel in groups, so if a deer crosses the road ahead of you there is a good chance that another will follow," said Charlie Killmaster, state deer biologist. "In many cases, that second deer is the one hit as the driver assumes the danger has passed and fails to slow down."

Deer mating season occurs between October and late December, and male deer in rut start searching for mates. Rush hour for most commuters tends to fall during the same hours in which white-tailed deer are most active — dawn and dusk.

Killmaster said drivers should keep in mind that deer are wild and unpredictable. A deer calmly standing on the side of a road may bolt into or across the road rather than away from it when startled by a vehicle.

County to rule on events venue, senior duplexes
• Commissioners also scheduled to fill two upcoming vacancies on the elections board.

Public hearings are scheduled for Tuesday on a proposed wedding venue in Silver Creek, an expansion of the Renaissance Marquis senior living facility and tougher restrictions on donation bins.

The Floyd County Commission also is slated to discuss recommendations from Chair Rhonda Wallace to succeed two of the three members of the County Elections Board, who are not eligible for reappointment.

Commissioners caucus at 4 p.m. and hold their regular meetings at 6 p.m. in the County Administration Building, 12 E. Fourth Ave. Both sessions are public.

Wallace oversees the citizen-board appointment process, with input from the other Commissioners. She's on the agenda to fill five vacancies Tuesday.

For the elections board: Clint Wilder, an officer of the Floyd County Republican Party and vice president at State Mutual Insurance; and Melanie Conrad, a lecturer in University of West Georgia's department of mass communications.

They'll start four-year terms in January, to replace Steve Miller and Mardi Haynes-Jackson. Miller, who chairs the elections board, asked the Commission to appoint the new members early so they can learn the ropes during the upcoming general election.

Other pending appointments are Jonathan Bartleson to a two-year term on the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission; Dick Taylor, to fill an unexpired term through 2020 on the Board of Tax Assessors; and Sandra Lindsey to fill a vacant post through 2019 on the Floyd-Rome Urban Transportation Study Citizens Advisory Committee.

The county has more than 20 volunteer citizen boards listed under the Government tab of

the joint website

Residents interested in serving can fill out a short profile posted on the page and submit it to County Clerk Erin Elrod. The profiles are kept on file about two years, she said, and reviewed as vacancies arise.

Commissioners also expect to rule on several land-use applications following public hearings.

Angela Cargle is seeking a special use permit to establish a wedding and special events venue on her family's 19.4-acre property at 135 Bethel Church Road in Silver Creek.

Plans are to add four bathrooms and a prep kitchen at an existing open-air pavilion. A former horse barn is available for indoor gatherings. The Rome-Floyd County Planning Commission recommended approval.

The Planning Commission also backed a rezoning sought by Legacy Senior Living — parent company of the Renaissance Marquis — that would allow the addition of 17 independent-living duplexes.

Construction would be on a vacant tract next to the assisted living facility on U.S. 27 across from Georgia Highlands College. The new section would back onto Welcome Hill Trail, but no access to the two-lane residential road is planned.

The board also will take comments before adopting an ordinance aimed at addressing trash left around drop boxes set up in parking lots to collect donations of used clothing and household goods. The board is expected to make the property owners liable under nuisance laws for dumping.


Today's artwork is by Cassidy Cross, a student at Pepperell Primary School