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Team aims for accurate head count
• The 2020 Census will determine funding for local foster care, special education, roads and more.

Wendy Davis

Artagus Newell

Floyd County staffers have corrected about 21,000 addresses on the map used by the U.S. Census Bureau — in the first round of preparations for the 2020 population count.

There's still much more work to be done to ensure the county gets credit for every person living within its borders when the count gets underway.

"Cities and counties need to make sure they take care of their own ... The federal money and the state money that come with that head count are tremendous," Rome City Commissioner Wendy Davis said.

Census numbers affect local awards for programs ranging from highway construction, education, housing and food stamps to school lunches, foster care and Peachcare for Kids.

Medicaid and Medicare Part B also are on the lengthy list affected by the Census.

Additionally, voting districts will be redrawn in 2021 based on the data, and Congressional seats will be reapportioned among the states.

"We all pay taxes. Some say they pay too much taxes," Davis said. "We want to make sure we get as many of those dollars as possible back in our community."

Davis will be leading a panel on census preparations at the Georgia Municipal Association's annual convention in Savannah on June 24.

Meanwhile, Rome, Floyd County and Cave Spring are forming a Complete Count Committee while Planning Director Artagus Newell is directing a full-on update of current data.

Education from a different perspective
• The Rome-Floyd Fire Department leads a personalized education class.

Exchanging insights on fire safety

"Your vision situation is probably your advantage," said Linda Patty, fire safety educator for the Rome-Floyd Fire Department's education center.

Patty was speaking to the Transition Academy, a group of young adults with visual impairments or blindness from across Northwest Georgia who came to Fire Station No. 3 to learn about fire safety on Wednesday. People with visual impairments already have their floor plan memorized and use the walls to feel through the house, which is what firefighters do, Capt. Phillip Little said.

"Smoke will kill you first, that's why you need to do what we were saying earlier and stay low," Patty said. "I'm going to tell you this 100,000 times, you're priceless."

Patty and other firemen on staff at station three took questions from the group and informed them about the different kinds of smoke alarms that would be beneficial for those with impairments. The fire department gives out and installs smoke alarms at no charge, Patty said, however these alarms would only beep if there is a fire. Other options, like the bed shaking fire alarm, is a stimulating alert system that would wake someone up who is potentially deaf, visually impaired or blind from their sleep and warn them of a fire.

Karlene Welty of Vision Rehab told the group there are also fire alarms that give verbal instructions and warning. The housing authority may also install specialized smoke alarms if requested.

Welty also told the group if they are ever in a fire and a firefighter comes in to rescue them to alert the first responders of their impairment. She then mentioned to the firefighters that when giving instruction to someone who is blind or is visually impaired to use clock positions which is what they use daily.

"The education side for us is just as important," Patty told the group. "The biggest thing we get out of these events are what we learn, its valuable to our firefighters."

Rome Marine Corps League celebrates 20 years of service

When Rome's Marine Reserve unit closed down its Shorter Avenue armory in November of 2009, that didn't mean the city's rich connection to the Corps had come to an end.

Since June of 1999, the local chapter of the Jake Puryear Marine Corps League detachment has served area Marines, veterans and others associated with the Corps. Members gathered Saturday to mark the detachment's 20th anniversary.

"We had some of the founding members who started the detachment there," said current commandant Tom Beavers, who is in the middle of his second term.

Originally there weren't enough members to originate a new MCL detachment, but an officer at the armory had a quick fix for that.

"The commanding officer of the USMC Reserve unit in Rome got his Marines to sign up so they could start the detachment," said Beavers.

The four original organizers of Detachment 1020 were James Meeks, Brady Drummond, Marion Harrell and Johnny Davis. Beavers says the current roll of members is over 100.

These days Detachment 1020, as it's known numerically, meets the second Saturday of each month at the Rome-Floyd County Library at 9 a.m.

It isn't just about meeting and swapping stories, however. Members of 1020 not only try and preserve the area's USMC connection, but also serve the community in many ways.

"We help support two Young Marine detachments, and a lot of other thing," said Beavers. "The Etowah and Greater Rome YM's are open to students ages 8 to 18. We've got a former member at West Point now."

The detachment also has several scholarship programs, provides family members of local deceased Marines with fallen Marine certificates, and, of course, helps fill the Toys for Tots gap left by the departure of the reserve unit 10 years ago.

Rome's Marine Corps League is named after a well-known recruiter for the area back in second world war.

Gunfire erupts on Hardy Ave.; Polk man shot
• Rome investigators find more than 40 shell casings in South Rome.

A Polk County man was in the hospital recovering from bullet wounds Wednesday night after gunfire erupted on Hardy Avenue.

Detectives marked the location of more than 40 shell casings in the 500 block of Hardy Avenue and officers were expected to be out there Thursday morning to continue the forensic investigation.

According to Rome Assistant Police Chief Debbie Burnett:

The incident started about 5 p.m. Wednesday when police were notified that a person who had been shot in the back was driving to the hospital. Officers found the man — identified as 21-year-old Qualin Finley of Polk County — and the vehicle at the Market on Second Avenue gas station.

Scanner traffic from the scene indicated Finley had been shot in both shoulders. Burnett said he was taken to the hospital and his condition was listed as stable.

The vehicle had multiple bullet holes and investigators determined the shooting happened on Hardy Avenue. Shell casings were found strewn along the 500-block and investigators were continuing to process the scene late Wednesday.

Burnett said the shooter or shooters were unknown as of Wednesday night. Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Rome Police Department at 706-238-5111.


Jesus Garcia, a fifth-grader at East Central Elementary School