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Polls open for Election Day
• Floyd County voters will decide on five-year extension of SPLOST and ELOST collections, and residents of Rome and Cave Spring will have city elections on their ballots

Willie Green

All 25 precincts will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. today as voters head to the polls for Election Day.

All Floyd County voters will decide whether or not to extend the SPLOST and ELOST collections for five more years.

The 1-cent education local option sales tax would go toward funding up to $80 million in capital projects for the Rome and Floyd County school systems. The 1-cent special purpose, local option sales tax would fund a proposed $63.8 million package of projects.

For residents of Rome and Cave Spring, city elections will be on their ballots. Rome voters will pick three city commissioners and all seven board of education members. Cave Spring voters will fill three city council seats.

Floyd County Election Supervisor Willie Green said interest in advance voting didn't differ much this year from 2013, when fewer than 15,000 turned out to decide the SPLOST and ELOST ballot questions.

"There wasn't an uptick," he said Monday. "It doesn't seem like there's really a thrust out there."

Voters have to go to their assigned locations. To verify your precinct and registration status, check the Georgia My Voter website or call the county elections office at 706-291-5167.

Green will be conducting another voter experience survey, with postage-paid questionnaires distributed among sample precincts.

"Please fill that out so we can get an idea of what we can do to improve," he said.

Rome-Floyd Citizens for Better Schools, an independent pro-ELOST committee, received $5,767.26 in cash contributions, according to a campaign disclosure report filed two weeks ago with the state Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission.

Three businesses, all based outside of Floyd County, contributed $1,000 each, more than any other contribution. These businesses are Southern Architects & Engineers LLC, Ra-LIN and Associates Inc., and J&R Construction & Development Inc.

The committee spent $4,476.92 of those contributions, leaving it with $1,290.34 on hand. Expenditures included $1,598.71 going toward print brochures, $1,872.50 for yard signs, and $796.21 for web and print advertising.

Rome-Floyd Citizens for Progress, a pro- SPLOST committee, took in $14,925 in contributions, along with an estimated $240.26 in-kind contributions. There were four $2,500 contributions made, the highest dollar amount contributed. These came from Wes Walraven, Brian Moore, State Mutual Insurance Co., and the Rome Braves.

Profile Welfare Association of Rome and Citizens for Better Parks contributed $1,000 each.

Sign purchases of $6,791.83 dug into the contributions, as did a $450 booth rental for the Coosa Valley Fair. The group has $7,683.17 on hand.

Staff Writer Diane Wagner contributed to this report.


Lindale man arraigned on federal drug charges
• Barry Keith Shedd pleads not guilty in U.S. Magistrate Court of intent to distribute methamphetamine

A Lindale man pleaded not guilty to federal drug charges Monday and was returned to prison to await trial.

Barry Keith Shedd, 45, of 122 Hawthorne St., Lindale, shuffled into U.S. Magistrate Court in Rome, wearing an orange jumpsuit and leg irons, for an arraignment on a charge of intent to distribute a Schedule II controlled substance.

He is accused of having at least 50 grams of methamphetamine when he was arrested in August on Old Cedartown Highway.

After verifying that Shedd "easily qualified" for an appointed attorney through the Federal Defender Program, U.S. Magistrate Walter E. Johnson accepted the not-guilty plea. Shedd is being represented by senior litigator Natasha Perdew Silas.

However, Johnson noted that Shedd is being held in state custody and ineligible for bond on the federal charge.

According to the Georgia Department of Corrections website, Shedd has been incarcerated since Oct. 10 at Georgia Diagnostic Class Prison in Jackson. He had served about six years of a 30-year sentence for meth trafficking in Hall County when he was released on probation in June.

Two months later, Shedd and two other people were arrested Aug. 17 in Floyd County following a one-vehicle wreck in the 1900 block of Old Cedartown Road. Reports at the time indicated police found a syringe containing meth on Shedd, along with a black bag containing packaged meth, syringes, small plastic bags, a digital scale and about an ounce of marijuana.

The bag also contained Shedd's identification.

He and the other people in the vehicle — Bobby Joe Pope, 31, and Shirley Michelle Davenport, 31, both of 311 Waddell St. — were charged with felony possession of meth with intent to distribute, trafficking, and possession of meth.

Shedd was additionally charged with felony possession of a controlled substance, possession of marijuana, and misdemeanor drugs not in original container.

At least $3,253 in cash also was seized on Aug. 17, according to Shedd's federal indictment.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Alison B. Prout declined to comment Monday on if anyone other than Shedd would be tried in federal court.


Darlington tech competition

Slain Berry student's roommate charged with tampering with evidence

Andrew David Horton

The roommate of a Berry College student shot to death in October turned himself in at the Floyd County Jail on Monday on a felony warrant charging him with tampering with evidence.

According to jail records:

Andrew David Horton, 22, of 411 Suncrest Blvd. in Savannah, is accused of hiding marijuana, a butane torch and a smoking device before calling 911 to report the shooting death of his roommate Joseph P. McDaniel.

The two lived at 12 Summer Stone Drive, Apt. C, in the Summerstone Apartments.

Horton told investigators he moved the items to another apartment because he did not want them to think badly of McDaniel. His activities were captured on apartment surveillance cameras. Horton is also charged with the misdemeanors possession of less than an ounce of marijuana and possession of a drug-related object.

He was being held without bond Monday.

Two young men charged with McDaniel's murder also remained in jail without bond. Ricket Damon Carter, 19, of 2113 Seventh St. in Columbus; and Troy Jamal Cokley, 19, of 712 Garden Lake Drive in Riverdale, are accused of robbing McDaniel of marijuana and then shooting him.

In addition to felony murder, they're each facing charged of possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, aggravated assault, armed robbery and possession of marijuana.


TODAY'S YOUNG ARTIST

Today's artwork is by Unity Christian School first-grader Elijah Raven.


Climate star ratings show success for nearly all local schools
• The ratings, which were released by the Georgia Department of Education last week, show that nearly all Rome and Floyd County schools had above average or excellent climates

John Jackson

All but one school each for the Rome and Floyd County school systems received an above average or excellent climate star rating, according to data released by the Georgia Department of Education.

The ratings assess the climate of schools on a five-point scale. The highest score is five stars ranked as excellent, four stars rank above average, three stars means average, two stars means below satisfactory and one star is considered unsatisfactory.

To form the ratings, students, parents and teachers are surveyed. Attendance, student discipline incidents, and instances of drug use, bullying, and violence also play into the ratings.

"School climate refers to the quality and character of school life — the 'culture' of a school," according to a state DOE news release. "A sustainable, positive school climate fosters youth development and student learning, which are essential elements for academic success, career-skill improvement, and overall quality of life."

Eleven Floyd County schools and two Rome schools received five-star ratings. The number of Floyd County schools receiving five stars was up two from 2016, while Rome dropped one.

Pepperell High, Armuchee Elementary and Garden Lakes Elementary all received the highest rating after posting four-star ratings in 2016. Pepperell Primary dropped from five stars to four stars. All other schools retained their same ratings from 2016.

West Central Elementary and West End Elementary both received five-star ratings. Main Elementary for Rome and Coosa High for Floyd County both received three-star ratings, the same rating they had in 2016. These two schools were the only local ones to have three-star ratings in 2017.

Anna K. Davie Elementary, which was the only other Rome school to have a three-star rating in 2016, went up to a four-star rating. East Central Elementary was the only other Rome school to have a different rating from 2016, going from five stars to four stars.

Floyd County Schools Superintendent John Jackson said the system is pleased with the fourand-five-star ratings and it is not overly concerned with Coosa High's three stars because it's bound to improve. Included in an improving school climate, he said, is athletic success — most recently the volleyball team winning the state championship.

"When you're winning everything is up," said Jackson, adding that a winning record for the football team also plays into it.

Dawn Williams, the chief of school improvement and accountability for Rome City Schools, said the positive reinforcement model under the PBIS initiative has led to a drop in disciplinary incident across the system and continues to improve school climate.