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County backs TSPLOST vote
• The commission will likely ask a citizens committee to put together a plan for a transportation sales tax.

Scotty Hancock

Allison Watters

Wright Bagby

Jamie McCord

Floyd County commissioners agreed Wednesday to move forward with plans to call a TSPLOST vote this year.

A transportation special purpose local option sales tax for individual counties has been allowed under state law since July 2017. Only communities that already impose a regular SPLOST may add a TSPLOST.

"Let the voters decide," Commission Chair Scotty Hancock said, following a lengthy discussion at the board's planning retreat held at the training room of FM Global Emergency Response Consultants in Coosa.

The issue is expected to be presented to members of the SPLOST Citizen Advisory Committees tonight, as part of an update on projects in the 2013 and 2017 packages.

The public meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. at the new RomeFloyd County Recycling Center, 412 Lavender Drive.

"We should use a SPLOST committee for this. They rep resent the voters," County Manager Jamie McCord said.

There are a lot of details to work through, but Assistant County Manager Gary Burkhalter said they have until October to officially call for the vote.

The county's parameters appear to mirror the standards Rome city commissioners backed during their informal discussion earlier this month: The TSPLOST would be for a short period and for a specific set of projects.

"It would have to be for something everyone would get behind," Commissioner Allison Watters said.

Commissioner Wright Bagby suggested widening the Turner McCall bridge over the Etowah River as a universal project. Georgia Department of Transportation engineers drew up conceptual plans last year — ranging in cost from about $13 million to $22 million, but no funding is on the horizon.

Another option a majority of the board seemed to support was a major paving and bridge upgrade initiative around the county. McCord said there are at least 12 bridges that need to be rehabilitated or replaced.

"Nobody pays attention to bridges," he said. "You drive over it and if it doesn't fail, you say it's a good bridge. That's not the case."

Also the county used to resurface about 40 to 50 miles of road each year, before the Great Recession. Public Works Director Michael Skeen has said that kept them on a 17-year paving cycle. Since 2008, the average dropped to 14 or 15 miles a year, which means roads are slated to be repaved every 49 years.

"When the economy tanked, one of the first things we did was stop paving," Hancock said. "I'd like to see us just get caught up."

Tonight's meeting will be the first opportunity for Floyd County officials to talk with Rome city officials about the plan. Cave Spring officials also would be involved in the county-wide package and vote.

Hancock said he is recommending a vote this year so it won't hurt chances of extending the current SPLOST and ELOST before they expire in March 2024.

A new place to call home
• Boy Scouts of America opens a new local headquarters in Ansley Park.

After 16 years of being located between SunTrust Bank and Owen's Hardware on Second Avenue, the Boy Scouts of America have moved to Ansley Park on North Fifth Avenue, where their new headquarters will serve the seven counties in the Northwest Georgia Council.

"This is not where scouting takes place," Jeff Brasher, scout executive and CEO of the council told community members who gathered at the new HQ Wednesday. "It is out there in the real world."

The building was converted from Larry Formby's urology office to suit the needs of the council. Brasher's office sits in what used to be Formby's work-out room, he said. Examination rooms and labs have been converted to suit the council's needs and each staff member has their own office.

The biggest praise from those in attendance was the brightness and color that now exists in the council's new space. Jeanne Krueger, interim director of the Rome Floyd Chamber, said she loved the windows in the Scout store and how much light it brought into the building.

The Scout store sits at the front of the building at the entrance in what used to be the waiting room and front offices. Council President Jerry Lee credited Wayne Robinson with buying the building and fixing it up for them, and Craig McDaniel for finding the property for the council.

Brasher said it was the right time to move the BSA region headquarters from its location on Second Avenue. Lee said issues with the council's landlords were the final push to get them to leave.

The building is smaller square-foot wise than the Scouts' last home. However, office staff said they do not feel the difference and the layout of the building makes it more functional.

"The staff and volunteers are happy with it," Brasher said.

The first ever Scout office in Rome was in City Hall from 1933-1968, said Brasher. After that the council took up residence in a private home before building a facility that is now Sam's Burger-Deli (recently renamed from the Armuchee Schroeder's New Deli). The council moved into the Sun-Trust annex building in 2003 where it stayed until their move to Ansley Park.

Taking the next step

More than 400 expected for annual Easter egg hunt
• The event is set for noon Saturday at the Coosa Valley Fairgrounds.

Nealon Guthrie

Bishop Nealon Guthrie said more than 400 children are expected Saturday at the community Easter egg hunt set for noon Saturday at Coosa Valley Fairgrounds.

His Greater Christ Temple Cathedral has been sponsoring the event for 25 years, along with local merchants, organizations and individual donors. Guthrie said it's never too late to contribute.

"Among the many items needed for the children are Easter baskets, chocolate bunnies, stuffed animals, gift certificates and financial donations to purchase candy for the Easter basket of each child," he said.

Anyone interested in contributing should call the church representative Marjorie Abbott at 404-290-7011.

More than 1,500 eggs will be scattered around the lower level of the fairgrounds parking area. Some will be filled with candy; others will have tickets for prizes and special "gold coins." Prizes also are slated to be awarded for various games, such as Scripture knowledge.

The hunt will be divided into three age groups so children can participate with their peers.

The goal, Guthrie said, is to make it a memorable day of fun with every child going home a winner.

Plans for new Busch Commerce Park under review
• The Development of Regional Impact application is the third filed out of Bartow County in less than two months.

Steve Taylor

Authorities in Bartow County have submitted a Development of Regional Impact application to the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission for what is being dubbed the Busch Commerce Park.

The DRI form was submitted by Brandon Johnson of the Bartow County Zoning office and lists potential use for up to five million square feet of warehouse and distribution facilities, commercial use and as many as four hotels.

Johnson said the application includes more than 700 acres north of the existing Budweiser plant, between Interstate 75 and Cass-White Road. The acreage is part of what Bartow County Commissioner Steve Taylor has considered as a potential mega-industrial site.

"It is lined directly up with the Rome-Cartersville Development Corridor," Taylor said. "It would dump out at the eastern most end of that development corridor. All that would be great for Bartow, Floyd and Northwest Georgia's future development."

"All of this is in the county's jurisdiction and is already zoned for business park and or industrial developments," Johnson said. "I don't know anything about the developer or end users, this is very preliminary as far as the county is concerned. We know enough to know that it will require a DRI."

"I think the regional commission will want to have a sit down meeting with the county and the engineer at some point," Johnson said.

The contact listed on the DRI is Andy White, a representative with Thomas and Hutton, a firm which provides comprehensive engineering and design work to a diverse group of private and public clients.

Taylor said that as far as he knows, the plan is to build out the park all at one time.

"We always look for companies that will bring advanced manufacturing to Bartow County. Along with that are big investments, jobs and high wages. That's what we're looking for. Higher wages than average," Taylor said.

The DRI application indicates a December 2021 completion date for the project.

The Development of Regional Impact application is the third filed out of Bartow County in less than two months. Capital Development Partners is seeking to develop three warehouse or distribution buildings encompassing approximately 2.7 million square feet on a 260-acre tract just off I-75 north of Cartersville, while Vulcan Materials filed for a quarrying project off Ga. 140 in Adairsville.


Today's artwork is by Joel Hernandez Perez, a first-grader at Elm Street Elementary School.