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SPLOST update set for Thursday
• Officials will give status reports on the 2013 and 2017 packages.

A public update on local SPLOST projects is slated for 5 p.m. Thursday at one of the facilities: the new Rome-Floyd County Recycling Center at 412 Lavender Drive.

The 2013 special purpose, local option sales tax package contained $1,379,000 used to renovate the former Zartic plant for expanded recycling operations.

Collections for the $64.9 million SPLOST package ended March 31 but the 1-cent sales tax continued. Revenue since April 1 is funding a $63.9 million package of projects approved by voters in 2017.

City Manager Sammy Rich and County Manager Jamie McCord are slated to present status reports to each SPLOST Citizen Advisory Committee. Most of the 2013 projects are done, but Chulio Hills subdivision is still waiting for its secondary access road.

The $800,000 project was initially a city project, but part of the route is in the county. McCord said the county is assisting, but the cheapest alignment so far is still more than $50,000 over budget and would impact several homes. A meeting is scheduled with the residents on April 30.

Rich said the restoration of Unity Point, at the confluence of the Coosa, Oostanaula and Etowah rivers, also ran into some pricey environmental issues.

"We intentionally pushed it to the end," he told city commissioners at their planning session. "The plan is to do as much in-house engineering as possible, collect as much data as possible ... then revise the (request for proposals) and put it out again."

The 2017 SPLOST update is expected to be short, since neither board has prioritized its projects yet.

The county is working on a jail medical facility that combines $2.2 million from the 2013 SPLOST and $5.2 million from the 2017 package. City commissioners are advance-funding some smaller projects, including fire trucks.

The boards aren't expected to decide before this summer if they'll issue bonds to start other 2017 SPLOST projects before the money is in

the bank.

Voters approved the issuance of up to $30 million in bonds backed by the special purpose, local option sales tax that started April 1.

But McCord said his board can't prioritize projects until they get a report from Atlanta-based Sizemore Group. The consulting firm was tapped in March to determine how to rearrange departments in county facilities for the best fit over the next 20 years.

"Our whole SPLOST hinges on the space-needs analysis," McCord told a meeting of city and county officials last week. "We've got time."

County Finance Director Susie Gass presented the boards with three potential bond scenarios, for $10 million, $20 million or $30 million. Commissioners are weighing the options.

"The city doesn't have a huge project like we did in the last SPLOST ... (but) in my experience, projects never get cheaper with age," Assistant City Manager Patrick Eidson said.

That's true of many projects, County Commission Chair Scotty Hancock noted, but not of every one.

"It's a crapshoot ... You've got to figure if the savings on construction costs offsets the cost of the bonds, and that's hard to predict," County Commissioner Wright Bagby agreed.

County to hold retreat in Coosa
• Commissioners will use the training room at FM Global and tour the facility

Floyd County Commissioners will hold a one day planning session Thursday at FM Global Emergency Response Consultants on Morton Bend Road in Coosa.

The 47-year-old company, once called TSB Loss Control, uses high-tech equipment to train emergency responders from around the world in operations ranging from industrial fire suppression and water rescues to hazardous environmental containment.

County Manager Jamie McCord said company officials had wanted to give the board a tour of their expanded facility on the 324-acre site. When they heard the commission was scheduling a planning session, he said, they offered the use of their training room.

A complete agenda has not yet been released, but Commission Chair Scotty Hancock said he expects to discuss the possibility of offering voters a TSPLOST – a transportation special purpose local option sales tax to fund road and bridge projects.

Georgia Department of Transportation officials asked

local leaders to consider the levy, which could be smaller than a cent, to give the county a higher priority for state funds. Rome City Commissioners have indicated they could support a referendum if it was narrowly tailored.

County Commissioner Wright Bagby Jr. noted that many counties that rejected the 2012 regional TSPLOST later enacted one within their own borders. But he pointed out that nearby Haralson County is more rural than Floyd.

"They've got a zillion miles of dirt roads," Bagby said at a meeting with city officials last week. "My problem with a TSPLOST is that we could damage our SPLOST if we add another. These people are sort of substituting."

McCord said a short-term collection, "maybe a year," could be feasible if it paid for a project that had wide-ranging support.

Plans are for the board to convene at 9 a.m. Thursday, stop for lunch and a tour at 11:30 a.m., and wrap up the session by 3 p.m.

Easter events in Floyd an 'Eggstravaganza'

Gov. Kemp on medical marijuana, disaster relief

Gov. Brian Kemp met with the Times-Journal editorial board for a question-and-answer session on April 10 and talked about medical marijuana discussions during the legislative session as well as what is going on for disaster relief for farmers.

Editor's note: This is part two of the Times-Journal's interview with Kemp was conducted April 10 and has been edited for space and style. Part one, concerning the abortion bill and how his first legislative session as Governor went is in Sunday's edition.

Q: What are your thoughts on the medical marijuana cultivation bill and how that settled out? That one went to conferences as well, didn't it?

A: Yes, it did. It was a long conference, too. You know, the speaker and the lieutenant governor and I, and all the legislative leaders that we're working on that issue, we were all working on that, which is a little bit unusual, I think. Most of the time, it's the legislators doing that with just direction from the different parties, but we were all actually in the same room ... got a lot done. You know, some people feel like the House bill was where we needed to be, and some people felt like the Senate bill was too restrictive. And we ended up somewhere in between, which I think is probably a good fit. I have very mixed emotions on that bill. I do believe there's people in the industry that are pushing the medical side to lead to recreational marijuana, which I'm absolutely against. You won't see that happen on my watch as long as I'm governor. That concerns me greatly. I think that's a bad way for us to go.

Q: Why is that a bad way for us to go?

A: I just believe it creates a lot of problems. I mean, we just got a business in Georgia that didn't expand in Colorado, and I asked him why and that was one of the main reasons — having a hard time with their workforce. And I just don't think we're ready for that, yet. I think it would create a lot of different problems. And you know, we're seeing that in some of the other states that are out there. But I do know this: I've talked to enough families and seen enough of these children that are getting help and it seems to be working. And hearing other stories of where it is (working). Even though there's a lot of people in the medical side that say there is no clinical

value to this. If you're talking to folks, it's hard for me to believe that it's not helping some. We need to do more clinical-based research.

Q: ... Now that the session is over, what are some of the main things you're planning to work on?

A: Well, doing exactly what I said I would do. ... We're going to start working on what we need to do next session. We had a very aggressive agenda this year. I think we got a lot more done than people thought we would, but now we're already digging in on really reforming, streamlining and looking at ways (to) make state government more efficient.

I think a lot of people don't really understand, and I know I've told you all this many times, but we've done that in the secretary of state's office. We've made it more efficient, we spent less money. We put in new systems that provide better service. And we're going to do the exact same thing through the rest of the executive branch. I mean, our Office of Planning and Budget is already working on that. There's just a lot of things, like when you look at the budget as we went through it, every agency had some IT project going on. It was $250,000 here, a million and a half there. I mean, you start adding that up, it's a tremendous amount of money. And you're like, 'Where's all this money going? What are they doing? Who's making the money? You know, how much of this are consultants taking off the top?"

... And then we got a lot of other big issues on our plate. ... It's taken a lot of my time dealing with D.C. on this whole disaster relief thing. Absolutely ridiculous that they cannot get a bill passed up there to help our farmers. And our folks down there are literally dying on the vine. I will say that Sens. Isakson and Perdue, I had been working constantly with them. They are doing everything in their power to get a deal done. It's just the Democrats don't want to play ball with them. And they probably won't come out and say this because they're still hopeful that they can get something done. It's all politics. I mean, they are worried about another $12 billion of funding for Puerto Rico that probably won't be spent before the next five years, and they're holding up a disaster bill where we have people that can't even plant and the deadline is April 15th for a lot of these guys. And Puerto Rico has already gotten like $40 or $60 billion worth of funding. This whole bill for all these states, including Georgia, is only $13 billion, and they're holding it up over Puerto Rico. I'm just like, it's ridiculous, but it's all presidential politics.

Q: Is there anything that can be done at the state level to help these guys?

A: We've already helped them. I mean, the special session I think spent $250 million, but you're talking about $3.5 billion in a $27 billion, $28 billion budget. I mean, we don't have that kind of money. We only have $2.5 billion in our rainy day fund, which that's a lot. I shouldn't say only. We didn't have anything 10 years ago. So it's just an amount of money that we did another $20 million in the budget this year because the Legislature, the money they had for these low interest rate loans, they scraped up some more dollars, which we didn't propose in the budget because they had just done the special session. So two or three months later, when the Legislature got ahold of it, there was still a need. And they scraped up, with our support, $20 million for the farmers. So the state has done a lot. ... We moved early. We've shown our commitment to help our farmers, but we need D.C. to act. Look, it's not just us. Alabama got hit, Florida got devastated, South Carolina, North Carolina is part of it for previous storms. It's not just us, you've got a Democratic governor in North Carolina, you've got a Democratic senator, Doug Jones, in Alabama. I can assure you they don't care about Puerto Rico — not that they don't care about it, but Puerto Rico has gotten plenty of help.


Today's artwork is by G'Dyme Kinnebrew, a first-grader at Elm Street Elementary School.

BOE to present new school blueprints tonight
• Board will meet at Model High School

Floyd County Schools will be unveiling the blueprints for the new Pepperell Middle School at tonight's board meeting which will be held at 6 p.m. in the Media Center at Model High School. The caucus begins at 5 p.m.

On the agenda are some policy readings along with a update on the Armuchee High School gymnasium along with blue prints and a computer generated image of what the outside of the new school may look like.

The new school will be a two story building and over 100,000 square feet according to plans. Current blueprints include science labs, a chorus room, a band room, a technology lab, an art room, media center, a multi-purpose room along with other classrooms. The existing gym will be kept and will be closer to the new school once construction is complete according to current plans.

The current one story building will be torn down this summer with steel beams going up in the fall after the board gets state approval to go ahead with the project. PMS students and staff will use the McHenry Primary School building on 100 McHenry Drive while construction is being completed. McHenry students will go into the Pepperell school system permanently as the board has decided to close the primary school for good at the end of this school year.

An agreement to hire Floyd Healthcare Management Inc. nurses will come before the board for renewal Monday. The new agreement would pay $304,068.16 in four installments throughout the 2019-2020 school year for at least six nurses for their nine elementary schools. The agreement includes a plan for nurse assignment with some nurses assigned to multiple schools in an area.

The board will have a first reading of the school facility policy which clarifies language on who can use facilities free of charge per the request of members at last months meeting. The Competitive Interscholastic Activities policy will receive its second reading. This policy places principals over athletics over their schools and prohibits students from

advancing grade levels to play athletics.

"Everybody in this room knows that does happen, not at our schools, but it does happen," Superintendent Jeff Wilson said at last months meeting. "It wasn't really legal before but now they have made it very clear."

A rule regarding the confiscation of student phones if they are caught using the phone during school is also slated to be updated. Updated language says parents can retrieve the phones from the school for weekends or holidays provided they return the phones when the student comes back to school or leave the phone at home.