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Locals to lay out their priorities
• Lawmakers are due to meet with Rome city commissioners on Tuesday.

Milton Slack

State lawmakers are meeting with constituents and lobbyists to hear about their legislative priorities in advance of the 2018 Georgia General Assembly session that starts in January.

The Rome City Commission will be hosting Floyd County delegates at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the Sam King Room of City Hall.

Commissioner Milton Slack said Sunday that Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, is expected to attend along with Republican Reps. Katie Dempsey of Rome and Eddie Lumsden of Armuchee. Also invited are Rep. Christian Coomer, RCartersville, and representatives of the Georgia Municipal Association.

There's no set agenda, but a number of city initiatives are dependent on state actions.

"We'll probably talk about illegal gaming machines, and Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital — which is always on the table," Slack said.

Rome lost its option to buy the 132-acre former state mental hospital complex off North Division Street but local leaders are still hoping it can be redeveloped to boost the economy. The biggest sticking point is the nearly $6 million in state bonds that a new owner would have to pay off.

City officials also have been expressing frustration with the spread of video gaming machines. State law allows stores to award merchandise as prizes but it's difficult to catch those making illegal cash payments.

Slack said he's also looking for an update on the Rome-Cartersville Development Corridor, a planned link between U.S. 411 and Interstate 75.

"I'm always interested in quick access to I-75," Slack said. "I want to see where that project is at."

Local lawmakers also met with lobbyists this fall, according to monthly reports filed with the State Ethics Commission. Sunday was the end of the grace period to report expenses through Oct. 31.

Lumsden and Coomer met Aug. 31 for $12 dinners with Boyd Pettit of Cartersville, representing GeorgiaLink Public Affairs Group.

Coomer also had meals with representatives of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, Reynolds American Inc., Norfolk Southern Corp., Georgia Optometric Association, Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of Georgia and the Georgia Association of Convenience Stores.

Dempsey spent four days in July as a guest of the Georgia Dental Association's annual convention, at a cost of $1,125 to GDA representatives. She also attended the Southern Legislative Conference in July and lunched with Rebecca Ryles Chamberlin of RCR Capital Consulting in October.

Hufstetler also lunched with Chamberlin and had coffee with Jason Skipper of Centene Corp./Peach State Health Plan. He had meals with representatives of AT&T, the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals, Medical Association of Georgia and Richard Royal of Royal Consulting.


Pandemic exercise set for this week
• Little activity is expected to be visible as hospitals in Floyd and seven other counties conduct an emergency response drill.

Kenna Baker

Hospitals in eight northwestern Georgia counties will be practicing on Wednesday morning their emergency response to a pandemic — an infectious disease rapidly spreading across the region. Most of the exercise won't be visible to the public, said Kenna Baker of Floyd Medical Center, the emergency preparedness coordinator for the state's Region C Healthcare and Safety Preparedness Coalition.

The region covers Floyd, Bartow, Chattooga, Polk, Haralson, Carroll, Heard and Coweta counties.

In most cases, the only signs of the activity would be an increase in ambulances and patients, Baker said Sunday.

A number of nursing homes, community health, public health and first responders also are signed up to participate.

"It will be as if there were mass casualties," Baker said. "We'll be looking at things like how we would sort — triage — the patients for treatment and how many they can handle."

Cartersville Medical Center's exercise will include the Bartow County sheriff's office, emergency management agency, EMS and fire department, according to hospital spokeswoman Ginger Tyra.

It's slated to run from 7 a.m. to noon.

A portion of the drill will start in an area of the Lowe's parking lot, across Market Place Boulevard from the facility. Bartow EMS spokesman Brad Cothran said that might garner some attention, but 95 percent of the activity would take place on the hospital campus.

"They will be testing their procedures. They want to test and stress the staff, to see how they would react," Cothran said.

Hospitals nationwide are required by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to conduct an annual emergency preparedness exercise. The scenario this week is based on a pandemic flu.

Georgia has 14 Healthcare Preparedness Coalitions, formed to help bridge gaps in counties' emergency responses. The idea is that a single community's plans may not be sufficient during and after a disaster, and a regional approach would create a more prepared and resilient healthcare system.

Region C hospitals have been meeting together since 2007. Members of the voluntary coalition also include mental and behavioral health providers, pharmacists, home health services, dialysis centers and hospices.


TODAY'S YOUNG ARTIST

Today's artwork is by Rebecca McClanahan, a second-grader at East Central Elementary School.


Families at the park

Local women will participate in Greenbuild conference in Boston
• JoAnn Moss and Tricia Steele will present a student project with Mohawk.

JoAnn Moss, Elm Street principal

Tricia Steele

Elm Street Elementary School Principal JoAnn Moss and Tricia Steele, president of Maker-village, will be presenters this week at the Green-build International Conference and Expo in Boston.

Moss and Steele will discuss a unique partnership between Makervillage, Elm Street and Mohawk Industries Light Lab Design Center. Science technology engineering and math students at Elm Street Elementary School designed lighting pendants for the Light Lab using a 3D printer. Makervillage helped facilitate the connection between Mohawk and Elm Street.

Moss saw the partnership as a way to broaden students' awareness of the connection between community and industry.

"Any project is an opportunity for them to see that there are exciting things out there. There are so many more careers out there that they need to be aware of," Moss said in the press release.

"When Mohawk said yes to our proposal, I realized it was an incredibly innovative company," said Steele in a press release from Mohawk. "There were no best practices established for navigating this kind of a relationship, and that risk-taking ability, I think, is what allowed this project to flourish and really cultivate such awesome results."

The panel which Moss and Steele will sit on also includes representatives from the Savannah College of Art and Design and the Mohawk Group.

"I really love projects like this one where we get to work with the community, with kids and youth that are learning about design and have the opportunity to really explore and expand their horizons," said Jackie Dettmar, vice president of design and product development at Mohawk in the news release.

The Greenbuild International Conference and Expo will bring together industry leaders, experts and frontline professionals dedicated to sustainable building in their everyday work.

The conference in Boston will run from Wednesday through Friday.


CCRPI could see changes under ESSA state plan
• For the Every Student Succeeds Act, the state Department of Education has indicated it wishes to make changes to the College and Career Ready Performance Index.

John Jackson

The College and Career Ready Performance Index could experience a number of changes if the U.S. Department of Education approves the state plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act submitted by the Georgia DOE on Sept. 18.

The latest CCRPI was released Thursday, with Floyd County Schools scoring 77.7 points and Rome City Schools scoring 71.7.

CCRPI was put in place in 2012 as a replacement to the Adequate Yearly Progress measurement, which was part of No Child Left Behind, and is the accountability system for the state's schools, according to the state DOE. Indicators include Milestones Assessment scores, Lexile reading levels, attendance and graduation rates.

In a news release, State School Superintendent Richard Woods indicated changes to the CCRPI in the ESSA plan were a response to feedback received from state education stakeholders. The changes were part of urgings to move away from "a narrow focus on test scores alone," according to the news release.

"The refinements to the CCRPI ... will ensure a system of broad opportunities for students — rather than a focus strictly on standardized test scores, which are an important but incomplete measure of student achievement and school quality," Woods stated in the news release.

According to fact sheets from the state DOE:

The altered CCRPI will have five components: Content mastery, progress, closing gaps, readiness and graduation rate, which is only for high schools. A heavy focus is on student growth and improvement, with elementary and middle schools having 50 percent of their score connected to progress and closing gaps — for high schools this will account for 40 percent.

Dawn Williams, the chief of school improvement and accountability for Rome City Schools, is working to try and wrap her head around what the changes would mean for the system's score. However, the picture painted of the system by the CCRPI could be changed as measures outside of test results, like career assessments and innovative practices, are removed. She said if there are less indicator outside of testing than testing with hold more weight in the overall score.

"I think, while it may not be perfect, it certainly is better than the old," said John Jackson, the superintendent of Floyd County Schools, of the CCRPI that replaced the Adequate Yearly Progress measurement in 2012 that was part of No Child Left Behind.

Jackson said he had to applaud Woods for keeping the CCRPI more broad based, including pushing to keep attendance as an indicator when Gov. Nathan Deal wished to take it out, along with retaining indicators in non-academic areas like music and art.