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Earnest to chair Development Authority of Floyd County

Ryan Earnest, Heritage First Bank CEO

Heritage First Bank President Ryan Earnest was tapped to chair the Development Authority of Floyd County on Wednesday.

Clint Wilder was selected to serve as vice chairman and new member Corey L. Townsend agreed to serve as secretary treasurer. The authority also welcomed Ryan Leonard as a second new member during the Wednesday morning meeting. Townsend and Leonard replace Jeff Kehl and Charles Stevens. Kehl is in the process of moving to Virginia while Stevens' term had expired.

Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Director Heather Seckman told the authority she would become an employee of the new office of economic development, working under new director Missy Kendrick as of Aug. 1.

The Development Authority of Floyd County controls the Floyd County Industrial Park off U.S. 27 south adjacent to Georgia Highlands College.

The development authority has a 25-acre tract available, but Seckman said Southeastern Mills has the first right of refusal for that site — which is next to where the company is building a new warehouse and distribution center.

Another 14-acre site next to the Pirelli U.S. headquarters plant is also available for prospects.

"We have a gentleman's agreement with Pirelli that will make sure that it has compatible usage," Seckman said.

Rome Floyd Chamber Director of Business and Industry Services Ken Wright said he is still working with the Greater Rome Existing Industries Association to promote growth and expansion.

"The business climate and economy has been great for our companies and a lot are continuing to grow and looking to add jobs and invest more capital in our community," Wright said.

One of the biggest challenges her office faces is workforce development, Seckman said.

"Everybody is looking to hire and try to find people who are qualified," Seckman said, but she added the board of directors of the Floyd County College and Career Academy has done "a phenomenal job at getting our young kids ready for the workforce."


Excavation underway at former Kmart site
• Stores in the shopping center are slated to be open by October 2020.

Bob Ledbetter Jr.

No contractor yet, but ...

Ledbetter Properties has closed on the acquisition of the former Kmart property in Rome for $6 million. The property was purchased from Romekim L.P., a Delaware investment partnership.

"You factor in all of the site work and demolition and it still gets real expensive," said Robert H. Ledbetter Jr.

Excavation work is underway at the site of the old Kmart service station where the gas tanks are being removed. Demolition of the service station and the building adjacent to it will be next in the line of work before the actual Kmart building comes down.

Ledbetter said the company does not have a specific time frame for the demolition work yet and has not retained a general contractor for the construction of the new East Bend shopping center.

"It'll start looking like something over there early this fall," Ledbetter said.

The shopping center will feature three primary anchor tenants along with upwards of 20 other tenants.

A list of prospective tenants provided to a potential tenant being courted for the development included Kohl's, Five Below, Old Navy, Fazoli's, Texas Roadhouse, Discount Tire, Chipotle, Panda Express. None of those stores have a presence in the market.

At least one of those prospective tenants made inquiries into the demographics of Rome several months ago, specifically requesting information about restaurants in close proximity to the intersection of Hicks Drive and Turner Mc-Call Boulevard.

Ledbetter has said he was leaving the choice for each of the individual tenants to announce their plans to locate in Rome.

The largest of the anchors would encompass approximately 36,200 square feet. The other two are slated to be in the 12,500-square-foot and 8,100-square-foot range. Those numbers are subject to change. The site plan indicates that 370 parking spaces would be required and 524 are presently on the site plan.

The site plan includes five outparcels, several of which are expected to be new restaurants to the Rome area.

"We expect to turn over the pad sites, the building sites, about the first part of spring," Ledbetter said Wednesday. Stores in the shopping center are slated to be open by October of 2020, well in advance of the Christmas shopping season.


2 juveniles charged with Pepperell damage
• The two are middle schoolers in the Pepperell district.

Two 13-year-old boys have been arrested in connection with vandalizing the Pepperell High School concession stand, according to Sgt. Chris Fincher of the Floyd County police.

The two are eighth-graders at Pepperell Middle and are residents of the Lindale and Silver Creek area, he said.

Approximately $300 in snacks and drinks were recovered as a result of the investigation. Due to being juveniles the two will not be identified by law enforcement. The pair have been released to their parents and are awaiting prosecution in Floyd County Juvenile Court.

Damage included a roll up metal door and the glass doors of four Coca Cola coolers. The boys have each been charged with second-degree burglary, second-degree criminal damage to property, theft by taking and criminal trespass.

"This was a combined effort," Floyd BOE Chair Tony Daniel said Wednesday evening. "The community came together."

Earlier in the day Superintendent Jeff Wilson said the system did not have any firm details on who the Floyd police had, just that an arrest had been made in connection with the vandalism.

"There will be serious consequences," he said.

According to a report by Floyd County police:

Pepperell High School Principal Jamey Alcorn contacted the police stating two male teenagers had broken into the concession stand at Pepperell High School Sunday night around 11:30 p.m. Alcorn told police the two were on skateboards and had also been to the visitors locker room at the school. The two turned on water and left it running while they were in the building.

Tool marks were observed on the door of the concession stand by Floyd County police. The four Coca-Cola refrigerator doors in the stand had the glass smashed out of them, items turned over as well as broken according to the report.

Outside video showed the two teenagers entering the concession stand and attempting to enter another area.


Big bucks surface in Floyd County sheriff race
• The election to replace Sheriff Tim Burkhalter is scheduled for 2020. There are three candidates in the running to be the new sheriff.

Sheriff Tim Burkhalter

Ronnie Kilgo

Tom Caldwell

Dave Roberson

With nearly a year to go before the election, candidates for the Floyd County sheriff office are already raising – and spending – big bucks.

Tom Caldwell, Ronnie Kilgo and Dave Roberson are vying to replace Sheriff Tim Burkhalter, who is not running for reelection. Monday was the deadline for candidates to file campaign finance disclosure reports through June 30.

Roberson reported $18,284 in his war chest. Caldwell had $32,290, including a $20,000 loan. Kilgo's net balance was $4,273 as of Jan. 31.

Floyd County Chief Elections Clerk Robert Brady said Wednesday the men aren't required to follow the schedule. Although they've filed declarations of intent to accept contributions and are in campaign mode, they won't be official candidates until they qualify for the election.

The qualifying period isn't until the first week of March 2020, so more candidates may emerge.

Kilgo said Wednesday he's taking in small-donor money but, "we're not as active," as the other two campaigns. He's set up a website but doesn't plan any fundraisers until the fall.

"You've got a city election coming up between now and the election. I don't want to confuse people," he said. "It's trickling in, but it's mostly word-of-mouth right now."

All three announced candidates are running as Republicans. The winner of the May 19, 2020, primary will move to the November general election ballot.

Caldwell reported taking in a total of $41,691 since he launched his campaign – $21,691 in contributions and a $20,000 personal loan. He's spent about $9,400 so far, mainly on a website, bumper stickers and online ads.

Major donors this cycle include Melanie Caldwell, $2,000; Mr. and Mrs. Charles Rainwater, $500; Mr. and Mrs. Keith Winslette, $500; Carolyn Barden, $200; and Mr. and Mrs. Howard Wachsteter, $125.

Roberson listed a total of $28,918 in contributions and $10,633 in expenses. In addition to buying campaign car magnet and posters, he reported sponsoring several events including a donation to the Sheriff's Santa program and a team entry for the North Broad Youth Center golf tournament fundraiser.

AW Acquisitions of Rome was the top donor this cycle at $2,500. The company's organizer is Joseph Seigler Jr. and Andy Welborn is its registered agent.

Contributions at the $2,000 level came from Jim Owens of Rome and Be Roberson of Buchanan.

Other major donors included Curtis Doyle, $1,000; Courtesy Ford Lincoln Mercury, $1,500; Law Office of Steven V. Bennett, $500; Chaplain David Thornton, $500; Henderson & Sons Funeral Home, $500; and two local bonding companies, Corntassel and Bad Boys, at $250 each.

Kilgo's major donors included Johnny Hann, $1,000, and Ace Hardware of Lindale, $500.


TODAY'S YOUNG ARTIST

Michael Wallace, a third-grader at Pepperell Elementary School