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Exchange Club Family Resource Center moving to Serve Rome building

The Exchange Club Family Resource Center won't need muscle for its September move to new offices in the Serve Rome building at 202 E. Third Ave.

But the charity dedicated to preventing child abuse can always use money.

"The more investment we have, the sooner we can start applying the savings to our parent education and in-home Parent Aide programs," executive director Tina Bartleson said Monday.

Rome First United Methodist Church is renovating its administration building as the Serve Rome center, offering space to local nonprofits agencies that help children and families.

Among the tenants: Lutheran Children's Services, Hospitality House for Women, Rome Action Ministries, One Community United and a Murphy Harpst Children's Center satellite office. Good Neighbor Ministries — a collaborative clearing house for local church assistance — has been on the church complex for a number of years.

Bartleson said the space is rent-free — just a pro-rated share of the cost of utilities and maintenance — and she expects it to mean about $6,000 more in the Family Resource Center program budget each year.

Plans are to move from their longtime location at 5 Professional Court to Rome Serves on Sept. 10 and 11. The church has a grand opening ribbon-cutting scheduled for 10 a.m. Sept. 10.

Lee Niedrach, president of the Family Resource Center board, said they'll be the largest agency in the building, taking up the whole third floor. Since the elevator only goes to the second floor, they'll hire a professional moving company for the heavy-lifting.

"We'll have some volunteers, though," he added. "We have a lot of Exchange Club volunteers. You just have to ask and they

raise their hands."

A group was over at their Rome Serves space last week to paint all the rooms and hallway. The church had more electrical outlets installed and the Rome High Junior ROTC put in hours cleaning and washing the windows.

"Was that part of their Service Day?" Niedrach asked.

"No," Bartleson answered. "I just asked them to help and they said yes."

The Family Resource Center averages about 50 families at a time in their Parent Aide program, which sends trained aides into homes of at-risk children with educational and support services. Bartleson said they can help for a year but most graduate within eight months.

The organization also offers various types of parenting classes to the community at large.

Bartleson said she's already discovering new resources in talking with the other agencies in the center. Lutheran Children's Services runs a program for people with developmental disabilities, she noted, and Hospitality House, which helps battered woman, has a counselor on staff.

"We'll be able to better connect people with the services they need," she said. "I'm also exploring ways to partner more with Good Neighbor, which has done so much for decades."

While much of the Resource Center's work is done in people's homes, officials also are looking forward to their new location across from the Midtown Transit Station.

"We're hopeful that such a central location in the heart of downtown Rome will make us more visible to people in the community who need help," Niedrach said.

Steel going up for new Main Elementary School
• Work progresses as steel for the new cafeteria is erected and cement bricks are put in place.

The steel framework of the cafeteria for the new Main Elementary School is up as construction crews progressed with work Monday by building the cement brick walls.

The new cafeteria is being tied into the kitchen, which was not demolished with the rest of the school building earlier this year, since it had recently been renovated. Also, steel for other portions of the school has begun to be delivered to the construction site for the new school, which is being planned to open by the start of the 2019-2020 school year. Construction remains on track to meet that goal.

Also on Monday, crews worked on pouring concrete for the curbs of the new school's parking lot. During the Rome Board of Education meeting earlier this month, Superintendent Lou Byars said the goal is

to finish the parking lot so the rest of the steel for the school can be stored on it.

Other work included Carrollton-based J&R Construction, the construction manager at-risk for the project, workers focusing on the installation of drainage pipes. Also, Buck's Electric Inc. employees, also out of Carrollton, were prepping pipe as conduits to run wire through the cement brick walls of the cafeteria.

Funding for the school, which is expected to cost more than $12 million, will be drawn from an extension of the 1-cent education local option sales tax.

Main Elementary students are attending North Heights until the new school is built, at which time students and staff at the consolidated North Heights will move over to Main. As another ELOST 5 project, North Heights will then be remodeled into a sixth-grade academy.

Berry freshmen learn about Rome, Floyd County at work day

A history of working together has many benefits, for area colleges as well as the community.

In June of 2017, Berry graduate Emma Wells began working for the Rome-Floyd E.C.O. Center in Rome as a biologist and education coordinator. As part of her job, she leads trail cleanups and raises local environmental awareness in addition to planning and marketing events.

Saturday, as a part of Berry College's First Year Service Day, Wells met a group of college freshmen at Kingfisher Trail located at the corner of Broad and Branham.

"The Etowah, the Coosa and the Oostanaula rivers are all in Rome, that's why we're called the E.C.O. Center, because there's a confluent in Rome," Wells explained to the group of volunteers. "You can even see here where two different rivers collide, the Oostanaula and the Etowah to form the Coosa."

Armed with gloves, trash grabbers and bug spray the students began walking along the trail paralleling the Etowah and picking up any trash they saw. During her introduction to the group, Wells was able to explain the significance of the Coosa River Basin to the greater community of Rome.

"[In terms of species diversity], the Coosa River Basin is second only to the Amazon River Basin. There are many endemic species, which means they only live in this area," Wells said. "So it's really important you guys are picking up trash and we're keeping all of that waste out of our rivers. It's actually making a difference."

Wells works for the E.C.O. Center, but also works closely with Keep Rome-Floyd Beautiful for nature clean ups and caring for areas in Rome that need better treatment.

Victor Bissonnette, the Berry College faculty member in charge of this group of freshmen, was one of the first ones on sight and was picking up trash alongside students. As an associate professor of psychology, Bissonnette has been involved in First Year Service Day for the past nineteen years of his career at Berry.

"I think it's good service. On the surface it's mundane work. It seems silly to go out and have college students out picking up trash. But there really is a deeper purpose," Bissonnette said as he walked along the trail with his own trash grabber.

"You know, one time my students said, 'How can we make a difference since there's so few of us?' What I try to impress on them is if you do anything, anything at all, even the slightest thing, you've done something more than nothing, so you have, in fact, made a difference."

Berry students worked throughout Rome, including bathing dogs at the Public Animal Welfare Service at 99 North Ave. as well as assisting with an End Slavery Georgia fundraiser.


Today's artwork is by Ella-Kate Holloway, a student at Armuchee Elementary..

Board presents senator with 'Cities' award
• Rome city commissioners also launch the annual firefighters' boot drive.

Sen. Chuck Hufstetler received the "Champion of Georgia Cities" service award at the Rome City Commission meeting Monday night.

The award is given at the end of every two-year legislative session by the Georgia Municipal Association, which represents 521 member-cities.

"He's a very good friend to Rome and Georgia cities. He understands the concept of Home Rule," said Commissioner Evie McNiece, who presented the award along with GMA governmental relations representative Joel Wiggins.

Hufstetler, a Rome Republican, chairs the Senate Finance Committee. He helped push through several sales tax bills that are expected to result in more revenue for local governments.

Two allow access to Georgia Department of Revenue information on retailers collecting tax in the jurisdiction; another revamps the car tag tax distribution formula. The fourth requires out-of-state companies doing more than $250,000 worth of online business in Georgia to collect and remit sales tax.

"This was a very good year for cities," Hufstetler acknowledged with a laugh. "I'm hoping when

you guys come with your wish list for next year, it's shorter."

Also on Monday, the City Commission proclaimed this week MDA Firefighter Appreciation Week in advance of the annual boot drive for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

The Rome-Floyd County Fire Department has collected over $170,000 to support the MDA's fight against the neuromuscular disease over the past two decades.

Fire Chief Troy Brock said boot drive volunteers with the department would be out Thursday through Saturday at both Rome Walmart locations and Kroger on Hicks Drive.

In other actions, City Manager Sammy Rich announced city offices would be closed Sept. 3 for the Labor Day holiday. Monday's garbage routes will be run on Tuesday instead, and Tuesday routes will be pushed back to Wednesday.

Commissioners also approved a special use permit that will allow the Rome-Floyd County YMCA to use donated property on Darlington Drive as greenspace and soccer fields. The property abuts the facility at 810 E. Second Ave.

Executive Director Scott McCreless said it would provide more room for kids attending their summer day camps.

"We're a little landlocked and this will be a great help to us," he told the board.