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CVB chief: Bartow needs more hotels
• Archer claims Bartow County is losing 205 room-nights every night.

Bartow County is losing a lot of money every night of the week, according to Cartersville-Bartow County Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Ellen Archer.

She told business leaders in Adairsville Thursday that studies have shown the county is losing an average of 205 hotel room-nights every night and desperately needs at least two additional 100room or larger properties.

One is on the way, in the form of a new Courtyard by Marriott which will be constructed adjacent to the Clarence Brown Conference Center off Ga. 20 across from the Cartersville campus of Georgia Highlands College. Archer also said the Adairsville community needs another hotel comparable to the Hampton Inn and Suites on Ga. 140 east of I-75.

Archer, who spoke to the Adairsville Council of the Cartersville-Bartow Chamber of Commerce, said the Courtyard by Marriott will be a 117-room hotel and that concrete work is expected to begin Nov. 5. The project was put on hold until after a major Christmas Village holiday shopping event at the conference center because it will lose 164 parking spaces to the hotel project.

"Adairsville is also in dire need of another upper class, upper mid-class, another Hampton Inn-type facility," Archer said.

She explained that traffic on the website is up 291 percent for the first nine months of this year as compared to the same period a year ago.

"Why do people come to Adairsville? Events, events, events," Archer said.

The city is hosting the 50th anniversary Great Locomotive Chase Festival this Friday through Sunday. Archer also said that since Barnsley Resort added a new events facility and upscale hotel rooms to go with the cottages, weddings that bring people into the community have more than doubled over the previous year.

Adairsville City Manager Pam Madison told the business group that a film crew would be in Adairsville next week filming an undisclosed feature near the old elementary school on Hall Station Road. She could not detail how long the filming would take place.

'Adairsville is also in dire need of another upper class, upper mid-class, another Hampton Inn-type facility.'

Ellen Archer

Cartersville-Bartow County

Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director

Sale of Rome-based Big Time Products is complete
• An Ohio firm is now the principal owner.

The Cincinnati-based Hillman Group Inc. has completed its acquisition of Rome's Big Time Products. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed by either Big Time or Hillman.

Big Time Products has been a leader in the work, garden, automotive, and household cleaning glove categories for the past 15 years. The company diversified into other products ranging from wearable tool storage, job site storage and kneepads.

Big Time CEO Harry Pierce said that he and founding partner Rick Chambers started a succession plan about three years ago, bringing in new people to learn and take over roles in sales, marketing and imports. "We both have been working since we were about eight years old so that ought to be reason enough to sell," Pierce said.

Pierce said Big Time hired a consultant to help put together a prospectus for potential buyers and was well aware of potential interest from the Ohio-based company.

"Hillman is a great company that has between 300 and 500 people out in the sales force, so they've got a huge team out in the retail force. They should be able to pick up our sales 10-20 percent just by making sure everything is in stock on a regular basis," Pierce said.

At one time, Pierce was the principal owner of the Rome Renegades, an indoor football league team.

Most of the employees with Big Time were able to make the move to Hillman.

"We wanted it to be the right people so our people would be taken care of, the company would be taken care of and our legacy would go on," Pierce said. He said many of the senior employees were in a position to take a retirement.

Pierce and Chambers originally owned 100 percent of Big Time Products, but sold off about half of their interest to capital investors several years ago to facilitate a couple of acquisitions that made the company even more attractive for a final sale. Those acquisitions allowed Big Time to expand its footprint well beyond the Home Depot stores where most of their products had been marketed for the past 15 years.

With the addition of Big Time, Hillman's product portfolio now spans the hardware, automotive, garden, and cleaning categories and includes Big Time's brands including Firm Grip, AWP, McGuire-Nicholas, Grease Monkey and Gorilla Grip, which are sold throughout retailers in North America.

"We are thrilled that Hillman will now provide the most comprehensive selection of personal protection and work gear products, in addition to our vast selection of innovative hardware products and merchandising solutions," said Greg Gluchowski, president and CEO of Hillman, in a press release.

411 Yard Sale continues today

North Rome duplex proposal panned
• Planning Commission members ask Lidell Hare to revise his site plan following opposition from Wade Street residents.

Charles Love

Plans to build 11 duplexes on a three-acre tract on Wade Street met with opposition Thursday at a hearing conducted by the Rome-Floyd Planning Commission.

The citizen board unanimously backed new land-use proposals from Harbin Clinic and Lyons Bridge Farm but sent Lidell Hare back to the drawing board.

Several residents on Wade Street — which runs between Calhoun Avenue and Wilshire Road — said the narrow road can't handle the increased traffic and the complex would affect property values in their quiet neighborhood of single-family homes.

"It's a one-car road," Brandy Alexander said. "If you meet another car, there's not room enough."

Hare said he was willing to cut the number to "six or eight," which would cap the number of new units at 16. He said he wants to put nice homes in the North Rome area where he grew up and there's an unmet demand for more housing in the Model school district. The estimated $1.2 million project would bring in about $11,000 a year in property taxes, he added.

"I'd rather see it be developed for people to go to Model instead of just sitting there, being woods," Hare said.

Planning Commission member Charles Love is also a leader of the North Rome Community Action Committee. He said he supports new housing projects to continue the neighborhood revitalization and argued that nearby Rome City Schools' construction underscores the need to improve the roads.

However, Love agreed with Planning Commission member Steve Miller, who convinced the other members to hold off on a vote until Hare submitted a revised site plan and application. A new hearing could be scheduled as early as the board's Nov. 1 meeting.

The board unanimously recommended approval of office-institutional zoning at 101 Redmond Road, where Harbin Clinic wants to move its laboratory. The Rome City Commission will make the final decision following an Oct. 22 hearing.

The board also backed Brian Moore's requested special-use permit to allow a store at Lyons Bridge Farm near Cave Spring to sell the beef they raise there and other items. The Floyd County Commission's hearing and decision is slated for Oct. 23.

'I'd rather see it be developed for people to go to Model instead of just sitting there, being woods.'

Lidell Hare builder


Today's artwork is by Bella Studdard, a student at Pepperell Primary School.

Murder trial reviews murdered man's texts
• The medical examiner is expected to testify today about the shooting of a Berry College student in an off-campus apartment.

Troy Jamal Cokley

Ricket Damon Carter

Chris Twyman

Defense attorneys focused Thursday on trying to discredit prosecution witnesses in the murder trial of two men charged with killing a Berry College student during a drug deal last fall.

Troy Jamal Cokley and Ricket Damon Carter, who were 19 at the time, are accused of shooting to death Joseph P. McDaniel, 20, while robbing him of a large amount of marijuana. The incident happened Oct. 28, 2017, in McDaniel's Summerstone Apartments unit.

Neither the murder weapon nor the marijuana has been found.

McDaniels' roommate Andrew David Horton, 22, and a female friend who lived in the complex — also Berry students — were present when Cokley and Carter arrived. Horton is facing charges connected with removing marijuana and other evidence and hiding it in the woman's apartment — making several trips before calling 911 to report McDaniel had been shot.

Assistant District Attorney Emily Johnson is expected to call the medical examiner to testify today before resting her case against the two men.

The trial will resume at 10 a.m. in front of Floyd County Superior Court Judge Jack Niedrach.

On Thursday, defense attorneys Chris Twyman and Stacy Jackson questioned the lead investigator, county police Lt. Dan Pendley, about the layout of the apartment, guns kept there by Horton and text messages recovered from McDaniel's phone.

Horton has testified he was on the couch when he saw McDaniel and Cokley grappling over a large bag of marijuana in the kitchen and a gun in Cokley's hand. He said he ran in with his Glock drawn and demanded the two men leave, but when he heard a muffled bang he ran to the woman's apartment.

"I sold drugs, but I didn't want to shoot somebody over drugs," Horton said.

In questioning Pendley, Twyman sought to convey that Horton — whose Glock and Kimber handguns were found in the apartment — could have disposed of other weapons unknown to police.

Pendley agreed there's no master list of every gun a person owns. He also said no equipment such as a gun bag, ear plugs or cleaning kit were found on the scene. But he declined Twyman's invitation to call the lack of shooting accessories suspicious.

"I would have expected to see it, but I don't necessarily find that odd. I know several gun owners that keep very dirty guns," Pendley said.

Twyman also produced text messages from McDaniel's cell phone to dispute claims by Horton and the woman that McDaniel wasn't familiar with guns, and the woman's testimony she was not involved in their drug involved in their drug business. The woman, who is not charged with a crime, left the apartment when Cokley and Carter arrived.

Pendley said the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab used a technology called Cellebright to retrieve more than 31,000 pages of data — including deleted items — from the phone.

Niedrach backed Johnson's objection to admitting the whole cache. One item allowed in was a photo of a gun, ammunition and a target that McDaniel texted was his set-up at a gun range. Pendley confirmed Johnson's observation that some gun ranges rent weapons to shoot.

Under questioning from Twyman, Pendley also interpreted some texts that referred to the woman. A deleted message asked if McDaniel's drug scales were at her apartment. Another, from McDaniel, said "all my money is locked up " at the woman's apartment.

"It does seem to indicate some of his money is under her control," Pendley said.

Cokley and Carter fled to Columbus after the shooting and were arrested at the home of one of Carter's relatives. They are not expected to testify today before the attorneys make their closing arguments to the jury.