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‘You have to do something’: horse show family circles the wagons after a devastating fire

Family. It’s the word that inevitably comes up regarding Carney Performance Horses when clients discuss their overall impression of the local barn that, until recently, housed meticulously trained show horses.

It’s a concept that’s come into laser-sharp focus since Saturday when the barn just outside Rome succumbed to an engulfing fire early that morning. A total of 19 equines died in the blaze, almost all of which belonged to clients boarding them there for enjoyment and show training.

“The tragedy that took place Saturday has rocked all of our worlds,” says Gregg Cofield, whose daughters ride and show horses with barn owner and renowned stock horse trainer Blake Carney. The family’s most recently acquired horse, a striking bay paint mare named Cookie, died in the fire.

“She was probably the best horse we ever owned,” Cofield says of the 10-year-old mare. “We had high hopes for her.”

His daughter, Greer Cofield, had planned to begin showing Cookie in all-around stock horse events like showmanship, equitation and horsemanship. An online support group made up of other CPH clients is helping her process her grief.

“Thankfully, she has the CPH family. She’s got 18 other people who are dealing with the exact same thing she is,” her father says.

His other main concern is for Carney, who lost not only his livelihood in the flames but his main residence, which was attached to the barn. He also lost most of his personal belongings, including clothing. Gear essential to running a horse business — a sizable collection of things like specialty horse tack and blankets — is also gone.

Gregg Cofield wants Carney to know he’s supported as he begins the long road toward rebuilding his business. He says he and other clients are going to be right there waiting for their trainer when the facility is rebuilt and it’s time to purchase new horses and return to the show pen.

“He is a phenomenal person, a genuine person,” Gregg Cofield says. “His training skills on top of that are absolutely incredible.”

How to help

Carney is well known among riders active with the Pinto Horse Association of America. He’s coached clients to multiple world show wins with that organization, and he’s also active with the American Paint Horse Association. The horse show world immediately swung into action as news of the fire spread, and the term “family” began to take on an even larger meaning.

Amanda Palmer, who is active with both of the aforementioned associations on a state level in Florida, got the ball rolling for an online auction that will benefit CPH.

“He has to rebuild his barn. His clients have lost horses. This is just a devastating event,” Palmer says. “Everybody in the horse community just wants to do something. This is huge to our community.”

Current donations on the “Friends of Carney Performance Horses” Facebook page include stallion breedings, show clothing and tack, professional photo packages and more. Palmer says a company called Pro Horse Services will handle the auction and will accept donations through Nov. 2. Those interested in donating can do so through the Facebook page where they will find a link to a donor commitment form. The actual auction will run online Nov. 4 though Nov. 8. Anyone who wants to bid on auction items should watch the Facebook page for instructions on how to do so.

Those who prefer to make monetary donations can do so on gofundme.com on the “Carney Performance Horses Fire Relief Fund” page. As of Monday afternoon, donations were nearing $50,000.

For Palmer, watching the auction donations and the gofundme.com contributions roll in is gratifying in the midst of a frightening and catastrophic situation.

“When something like this happens, you don’t know what to do. You have to do something because you just feel so helpless,” she says.

 dwalker  / 

Update: Parks & Rec truck-or-treat moved indoors at North Floyd Park

Thursday's free Truck or Treat event slated for Ridge Ferry Park is being moved indoors to the Thornton Recreation Center at 102 North Floyd Park Road in Armuchee.

"Doors open at 5 p.m. and we will have two inflatables, music, costume contests and multiple people handing out candy, along with a full concession stand," said Jim Alred, recreation services manager for the Rome-Floyd Parks and Recreation Department.

The event will run until 7:30 p.m.

Previously posted:

Although the forecast for Halloween looks a bit scary as of Monday evening, Rome’s annual trick-or-treating festivities on Broad Street and at Ridge Ferry Park are so far still on for Thursday.

With 100% precipitation and thunderstorms expected to hit the area Oct. 31, organizers of “Downtown Trick-or-Treat” from 3 to 5 p.m. and the “Truck or Treat” at Ridge Ferry Park from 5 to 7:30 p.m. are hoping for the best.

“We haven’t talked about moving it yet. We were kind of waiting to see what the Parks and Rec Department was going to do,” said Amanda Carter, director of the Downtown Development Authority. “I feel it will probably be rain or shine. I mean once Halloween passes, it’s on to Christmas.”

Jim Alred, recreation services manager at Rome-Floyd Parks and Recreation, said Monday they are monitoring the weather in relation to Thursday’s Truck or Treat event at Ridge Ferry Park.

“Early afternoon on Wednesday, we will make the call to either keep the event at the park or move it to an indoor location,” Alred said.

Carter said the downtown event always brings out thousands of children from the 100 block all the way to City Hall at Sixth Avenue.

”The majority of the businesses do participate and supply their own candy and many of the employees wear costumes,” Carter said of the event that goes back to at least 2007. “It’s fun for them, too. Hopefully it won’t be pouring down rain.”

Kevin Dillmon, owner of Honeymoon Bakery at 228 Broad St., said his employees gave away more than 150 pounds of candy last year. He said he wasn’t sure yet if they will have a costume contest.

”We love the trick or treaters coming down Broad,” he said.

Carter said there’s always a steady stream of children between 3 and 5 p.m. and that she believes many of them end up at the park afterward.

”It’s so much fun,” Carter said.

The Truck or Treat event put on by the parks and rec includes food trucks, inflatables and costume contests for various age groups. For those 5 and under, the contest is at 5:45 p.m.; for 6 to 10, it’s 6 p.m.; for 11 and up, it’s 6:15 p.m.; for groups of 3 or more it’s 6:30 p.m.; and family costumes will be judged at 6:45 p.m.

For more information on that event and guidance for vendors, visit https://www.rfpra.com/truckortreat.

John Popham  

FILE — Kids line up in front of Craze Boutique and Mountain Ice Cream for candy on Broad Street Halloween evening.

Baylee Woodall, a first-grader at Model Elementary School

GSP trooper recovering after injury at crash site near Berry College

A Georgia State Patrol trooper is recovering after being injured by a patrol car that was struck by a man charged with drunken driving.

Trooper First Class Jeremy Battle was treated at a local hospital and released, according to GSP Sgt. First Class Logan Gass, who was called to the scene of the Sunday night crash.

“The patrol car was pushed into him and hit his right arm, but there were no broken bones,” Gass said Monday. “He’s going to be OK.”

Gass said Battle was investigating a crash that happened near Berry College on U.S. 27 North. One lane was blocked to traffic and the blue lights on Battle’s patrol car were activated to warn drivers.

According to Floyd County Jail records:

Richard Anthony Faraone, 63, of 12 N. Blanche Ave. SW, approached the scene with his car straddling the lane divider. His vehicle hit the patrol car and ran off the road.

Faraone was being held in jail Monday with a bond set at $6,500. He is charged with DUI, failure to maintain a lane, following too closely, reckless driving and violation of the Georgia Move Over Law.

Enacted in 2016, the law requires drivers to move over one lane if an emergency vehicle with flashing lights is parked on the side of a road.

If it’s not possible to move over, the law requires drivers to slow down below the posted speed limit and be prepared to stop.

City pleased with increased revenues from sales taxes they attribute partly to tourism

Hoping to help Rome’s sales tax and tourism revenue increase even more than it has already this year, Rome International Film Festival’s crew dropped in on the Rome City Commission’s caucus Monday night to encourage continued support as it enters its 16th year next week.

“This is all part of Rome’s economic development,” RIFF Executive Dir. Seth Ingram told commissioners as RIFF prepares to begin its new season that runs Nov. 6-10.

Although the more than $400,000 increase in sales tax revenue so far this year over what was collected by this time last year cannot be definitively attributed to an increase in tourism alone, it could be one indicator of the success of Georgia’s Rome Office of Tourism, City Manager Sammy Rich explained Monday after Commissioner Randy Quick shared the budget figures during the City Commission meeting.

“We are able to track economic impact by our tourism industry and see positive increases,” Rich said. “We are also seeing increases in hotel and motel tax collections that point to increased activity. And we definitely know tennis tournaments fill our hotels.”

Ingram and RIFF Development Director Doug Collins shared with commissioners their excitement over the line-up of films this year, which include Latino and “black centric” films and those honoring veterans that will include 15% donations of ticket sales to the Gary Sinise Foundation and 15% to the Davies Homeless Shelter.

“RIFF has an initiative to partner with and support local nonprofits,” Ingram has said.

The award-winning documentary film “Ruben Blades is Not My Name” by Abner Benaim will be screened at Rome City Auditorium Nov. 8 at 7 p.m., followed by a Salsa Dance Party at the Brewhouse Music & Grill on Broad Street at 9 p.m., Collins said.

RIFF Latino Development Director Constanza Sweeney was then coaxed to give a salsa demonstration for the commission and Commissioner Jamie Doss gladly served as her partner.

“We want to help create a lot more memories for Rome,” Doss, a former Rome mayor and chairman of the Downtown Development Authority, said of his support of the festival.

In other business Monday, the Commission unanimously passed an amended ordinance to provide exceptions to the public drunkenness and drinking prohibition by allowing drinking at various event venues, such as the Rome Civic Center, the ECO River Education Center, city tour boats, Ridge Ferry Park if rented for a function, Stonebridge Golf Course, Rome Senior Citizens Center, Rome Braves Club Stadium, Rome Area History Museum, the City Clock Tower, Fort Norton Events Facility and Barron Stadium, among others.

They also put back on the books an ordinance restricting the parking of business vehicles in rights-of-way in residential areas after the original ordinance passed in 2016 was inadvertently replaced in 2018 with another ordinance with a similar code number having to do with the unloading and parking of delivery vehicles in the downtown corridor.

All commissioners approved splitting up the $208,500 deficit created by the Rome/Floyd Recycling Center between the city, county and Solid Waste Commission to reduce the city’s bill to $95,861.

Commissioners also agreed to move up the date of their next meeting to Monday, Nov. 4 — instead of having it on the city holiday of Nov. 11. Caucus begins at 5 p.m. in the Same King Room of City Hall and the meeting follows on the second floor at 6:30 p.m. Both are open to the public.