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Cat is recovering after bolt removed from skull
• A cat has a brush with death after being shot with a crossbow.

The Floyd County Police Department has tasked an investigator with looking into who may have been responsible for shooting a crossbow bolt into the head of a cat, which is currently recovering after having it removed from its skull.

"He used most of his nine lives up," said Kristy LaRue, the CEO of Floyd Felines, which its group of volunteers are seeing to the cat's recovery and finding it a home. "Eight of them for sure."

Floyd County police Maj. Jeff Jones said the case has been assigned to Sgt. Misty Pledger. Police are working to see if they can pull some DNA off the bolt and "hopefully come up with someone," he said.

This will likely be a challenge, increasing in difficulty depending on how many people handled the bolt before it was shot, Jones added.

On Saturday night, Floyd County Animal Control officer Matt Cordle was on patrol when he got the call about a cat, now dubbed as Floyd Mayweather, having an arrow in its head.

"Really, and it's still alive?'" he recalled his initial response. "I've been here 18 years and that's the first one I've seen like that."

Cordle met a Floyd County police officer at the Cave Spring home of a man who said he feeds the cat when it comes there — getting along well with his own animals, a cat and a dog. When it came Saturday night, the man saw the end of the crossbow bolt sticking out of its head.

Not knowing what to do, Cordle said the man called 911.

"How was it still alive," Cordle said, adding that the cat wasn't acting as if it was hurt. "It was crazy. The cat was a loving cat, gentle, would rub all up against you."

After impounding the cat and not wanting to put it down, Cordle called Floyd Felines. "I did what anyone else would do" in turning it over to a rescue group, he said. He believes someone would have had to stand over the cat and shoot it from a close range with a pistol crossbow.

The cat was then taken to the office of the Culbreth Carr Watson Animal Clinic. LaRue said Dr. Martin Rysavy did not initially know what to do, telling her he'd only seen incidents like this on the Discovery Channel.

But he started by taking X-rays. The bolt had cracked the cat's skull but it hadn't penetrated the brain, she added. Rysavy sedated the cat and gently removed the bolt from its head and applied a drainage tube to the wound, LaRue said. Rysavy was concerned the cat could have had brain damage, swelling or bleeding, she continued.

But since the procedure, LaRue said the cat has responded well, displaying its friendliness as it's kept at a foster home. Views of Facebook posts on the group's page have soared over 80,000. The cat will be put up for adoption or will be placed in a home.

"It makes you wonder how somebody could do something like that," she said. Floyd Felines is hosting an adoption event Saturday at the Humane Society of Rome at 518 Broad St., starting at 11 a.m. and running until 3 p.m.


Health care reform bills clear 1st hurdle
• Several measures in the Senate are aimed at addressing inefficiencies and lack of access in Georgia's delivery of health services.

Sen. Chuck Hufstetler

Bills aimed at making the state's healthcare system more responsive and efficient passed out of committee Monday and are awaiting a vote of the full Senate.

Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, said he expects them to clear the chamber this week.

Senate Bill 357, sponsored by Sen. Dean Burke, R-Bainbridge, would create a Health Coordination and Innovation Council. The 18-member panel of agency heads, medical academics and private health care representatives would be tasked with coming up with new ways to stabilize costs while improving access to care.

SB 352, sponsored by Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, would set up a director and a commission to address substance abuse, addiction and related disorders. Hufstetler is a cosponsor of both bills, which stem in part from hearings of the Health Care Reform Task Force he served on last year. Unterman's bill would allow the state to seek Medicaid waivers, for the first time, to set up programs specifically targeting the opiod crisis.

"We're also trying to get more resources and money in the budget to address it, and mental health, because the two are connected," Hufstetler said. "A lot of people in our state don't even have access to treatment."

Making connections among all the state's health-related programs is the focus of the council in Burke's bill. The task force heard repeatedly from experts saying an individual needing services often has problems that overlap.

Seats on the Health Coordination and Innovation Council are assigned to the commissioners of community health, public health, human services, behavioral health and developmental disabilities and the director of health care policy and strategic planning.

The director of substance abuse, addiction and related disorders — created in Unterman's bill — also would have a seat. There also are ex officio slots for the commissioners of insurance, corrections, economic development and the attorney general.

With directions to base its policy decisions on hard evidence, Burke's council would rely heavily on a proposal that came out of the Joint Study Committee on Transparency and Open Access in Government, chaired by Hufstetler and Rep. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome.

SB 184, sponsored by Hufstetler, would establish the Integrated Population Health Data Project and a governing board. The goal: build a centralized data warehouse to share information across state agencies.

"My bill is important in getting (Burke) the resources he needs to do the work," Hufstetler said.

The measure has been awaiting a hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee. Hufstetler said the committee chairman has indicated support, "so I expect it to move shortly."


Rome City Brewing Co. brings in new equipment

New brewing equipment is brought into a space at 333 Broad Street Monday afternoon as Rome City Brewing Co. expands its operations.


Cave Spring auditorium to be renamed for George Bevels
• The Floyd County Board of Education will approve a resolution to rename the auditorium at Cave Spring Elementary after longtime board member George Bevels at tonight's meeting.

John Jackson

The Floyd County Board of Education will recognize longtime board member George Bevels during its meeting tonight by approving a resolution that will rename the auditorium at Cave Spring Elementary in his honor.

"We felt like that would give a nice touch to it," John Jackson, the Floyd County Schools superintendent, said of the resolution. The school requested the auditorium be named in honor of Bevels, following the system's naming policy, Jackson said.

Interim Principal Shelly Bell will present Bevels — who served as a board member for 28 years before being replaced by current board member Melinda Jeffers at the start of 2017 — with a plaque. Jeffers, who represented the same districts — McHenry and Cave Spring communities — as Bevels did, will read the resolution during tonight's meeting, starting at 6 p.m., at the boardroom at 600 Riverside Parkway. The board will caucus in Jackson's office at 5 p.m.

In other items, the board will look to approve a staffing contract with Sources 4 Teachers. The contract, which would take effect next year, will have the company take over the responsibility of finding substitute teachers for the school system.

"It will cut down tremendously on the administrative part of finding subs," Jackson said.

The system currently uses an automated system that contacts substitutes when there is an opening. However, if no one takes the job at the end of the posting, then the responsibility of finding a substitute falls on a school's bookkeeper, Jackson said.

"If it's 7:45 in the morning and we have a vacancy that has not been filled, then it falls to the bookkeeper to try and scramble and try to find that," Jackson said. "Of course, we're not going to leave any classes uncovered. (Sources 4 Teachers will) be the point person and responsible for filling those vacancies."

Additionally, Jackson said handling of benefits, payroll and health insurance for substitutes will be handled by Sources 4 Teachers.

The board will also hear from Craig Ellison, the system's executive director of technology, for a "complete picture" technology update, Jackson said. Information on bandwidth, how technology is used instructionally and the push for completing the one-toone, student-to-Chromebook ratio will be shared.

For Black History Month, the board will recognize J. L. Vaughn for his accomplishments as a former principal for Johnson Elementary and an author. Since his retirement, he has gone to author the book "My Road to Manhood."


Expansion proposed for recycling center
• Officials say taking over the rest of the facility on Lavender Drive would free the Watters Street property for redevelopment.

Jamie McCord

Sammy Rich

Ira Levy

Michael Skeen

An opportunity to expand the new recycling center on Lavender Drive before it is even open for business will go before the Rome and Floyd County commissions.

Ira Levy is offering to lease at the remaining 12,000 square feet of the former Zartic plant he owns at a discount.

Remodeling of the 25,000-square-foot portion already under contract is expected to be complete by July 1.

County Manager Jamie McCord told the joint Solid Waste Commission Monday that the additional space would allow them to completely close the existing facility on Watters Street. He said three local entrepreneurs have indicated interest in the property in the past two months.

That fits with the city's long-range plans, and the hopes of the neighborhood association according to City Manager Sammy Rich.

"If we can attract private investment there, what that will do for the North Rome community will be huge," Rich said.

The Solid Waste Commission agreed to send the recommendation to the elected boards for action.

The 2013 special purpose, local option sales tax package contains $1.3 million for a larger and more modern recycling facility.

That wasn't enough to build one from scratch, so the SWC negotiated the $3,300-a-month lease agreement with Levy.

County Public Works Director Michael Skeen, who is overseeing the project, said the new offer is for $700 a month more — or $500 a month in exchange for the old baler at the Watters facility.

County crews have already dug a 55-foot-long, 4-foot-deep feeder trench and seven deep footers for the new baler designed for the Lavender Drive facility. It's scheduled to be installed by March.

The expanded lease also would bring down the overall lease to about 10 cents per square foot, less than half the going rate for warehouse space.

Skeen said the two additional bays and parking area would make it easier to hold more frequent collections of old electronics. The popular events are a net financial loss, but an overall benefit.

"If we don't give people options, Chris and I end up picking them up on the side of the road," he said, referencing Rome Public Works Director Chris Jenkins.

Controlling the entire building also improves security, and is expected to save money on the remodeling.

It would eliminate the need to install separate electrical systems and water meters for the recycling center and the other tenant.

The fire suppression project, expected to start in the next two weeks, already includes sprinklers for the whole building because of code requirements.

Skeen said construction bids are due by the end of the month for the rest of the remodeling, which also includes scales, storage, offices, a bathroom, a break room and a conference room that can be used for public education programs.


TODAY'S YOUNG ARTIST

Today's artwork is by Youngs Grove Elementary School student Lily Barnes.