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Cave Spring to enact liquor laws
• The city council also expects to adopt its fiscal year budget Tuesday.

The Cave Spring City Council has called a special meeting for Tuesday, slated for 4 p.m. in City Hall, 10 Georgia Ave.

Mayor Pro Tem Tom Lindsey said Sunday that plans are to adopt the city's budget and new alcohol ordinance.

Cave Spring operates on a fiscal year basis, with budgets covering periods from July 1 through June 30. The city's operating expenses are offset by a 1-cent local option sales tax so residents are not assessed a municipal property tax.

A copy of the proposed budget is available for review at City Hall.

Council members have been working on a comprehensive revision to the alcohol ordinance since voters approved liquor sales in February.

A first reading June 11 netted approval from all five members. Mayor Dennis Shoaf is on a leave of absence.

Downtown Development Authority Director Sandra Lindsey said she expects La Cabana, the city's Mexican restaurant, to be first in line for a liquor pouring permit.

"They keep asking about it," she said. "You can't get a real margarita there right now. They're all wine-based."

The ordinance also allows for liquor package sales outside a half-mile radius from the downtown district. But the biggest changes are provisions for innovative new business models such as craft breweries and micro-distilleries.

Cave Spring Distilling Co. is hoping to open before the end of the year in a long-vacant historic building at 24 Alabama St. downtown.

Investors Caney McStotts and Garrett Rothman plan to make spirits with the city's famed spring water that emanates from the cave across the street in Rolater Park. They'll also have a tasting room and a small shop, and market the operation as a tourist destination.

Sandra Lindsey said it's a little too early for them to apply for permits, which will expire if they're not used within six months.

"There's so much to be done to the building," she said. "It had to be cleaned out a lot because it's been used for storage for so long. They're talking to contractors now, but they want to be sure the building's going to be ready."

Sidewalk cafes, bistros, temporary outdoor pouring permits for special events, farm wineries and lounges – but not bars – are among the ventures that will be allowed under the new ordinance.

"I can see other new little businesses coming forward as we progress," Sandra Lindsey said.

City Attorney Frank Beacham used Rome's ordinance as a template, but council members also added elements they liked from other Georgia cities such as Acworth, Ball Ground, Kennesaw and Dahlonega. Discussions revolved around tailoring the ordinance to fit the historic small town's atmosphere.

Rome intl' film festival director shooting independent short in area
Short film shooting in the neighborhood

Legend has it that while lost in the swampy wilderness of Northwest Florida for seven days and nights, Cebe Tate was attacked by gnawing insects, starved, got bitten by a snake and was driven to madness before finding his way out and collapsing to his death near the town of Carrabelle.

But just before he died, a passerby heard him speak a sentence that would solidify his legacy in folklore: "My name is Tate, and I just came through Hell!" That phrase earned the site of Tate's disappearance and reappearance the title of Tate's Hell National Forest.

Loosely inspired by this account, the independent film "Tate's Hell" is being produced in Floyd, Polk and Gordon County this summer. Written and directed by Seth Ingram, director of the Rome International Film Festival, the short film just wrapped production and filmed in the Cedartown, Rome and Ranger areas, and is currently in post production.

"Despite the storyline of the legend of Tate's 'Hell', my film is actually an obscure somewhat comedic take on it," Ingram says. "It shows how sometimes our own self-perceptions bring on mental and physical anxieties. The film ends up having an unexpectedly dramatic twist."

Ingram's film is a concept piece for a feature project and will be submitted to film festivals around the globe later this year.

In addition to some area production team members, Ingram brought many film industry professionals as production department heads to his Northwest Georgia locations to help make the film. Students and others looking to pursue a career in the film industry were offered a chance to work on the film alongside the established industry professionals as a mentoring opportunity.

Ryan Simmons, proprietor of Brand Red Studios based in Rome, served as the Director of Photography on the film.

"Ryan and I great friends and both want to make films here," says Ingram. "While commercial work sustains the company, the desire to make narrative films is the ultimate goal."

"One of my goals is to help build a sustainable crew base in the area to work on future projects," continues Ingram. "I love independent filmmaking and while I would like to see this area develop its own voice, professional crew is needed to achieve this."

Ingram's professional experience is already steeped in the film industry through his past work along with connections he's made through RIFF.

For the past five years, he has served as the RIFF's director and has also worked as a member of the production team on a number of independent productions. He directed The local history feature Docudrama, "Blind Tiger — The Legend of Belltree Smith" in 2014. Ingram also writes and develops show concepts for television.

Months into new position, GBI director vows crackdown on gangs in Georgia

Vic Reynolds

Recently-appointed Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vic Reynolds knew, when he served as Cobb County's district attorney, that Cobb had a gang problem.

After the former Floyd County police officer turned attorney stepped into the state's top law enforcement position in February, he quickly realized Georgia's gang issue is far more widespread than in just one are, Reynolds said Wednesday, and reaches into hundreds of communities across the state.

"Contrary to what a lot of folks may believe, criminal street gang issues aren't limited to urban areas; they're in suburban areas, they're in rural areas," Reynolds said. "The Georgia Gang Investigators Association, GGIA, did a survey in the summer of 2018 — the soft numbers on that survey show about 71,000 validated gang members in our state, from north to south. What I've seen and given the fact that some law enforcement agencies did not respond, I'm convinced that those are soft numbers."

In light of those numbers, and in an effort to make the state safer under his directorship, Reynolds said the GBI is now increasing its focus on gangs and dismantling their organizations, piece by piece and member by member.

And, while he's only been at the GBI's helm for several months, Reynolds said he's convinced a gang crackdown is necessary, and will produce results.

"Just recently, GISAC, our information sharing analysis center, sent out a survey statewide to law enforcement agencies," Reynolds said. "We sent it to 159 sheriffs — every sheriff's department (in Georgia) — and we got 153 responses back. We sent it to over 560 police departments; we got about 510 responses back. We're talking about 655 or so responses, and we asked them, 'Tell us the number one issue, or the top issues facing you as law enforcement agencies.' Around the state, regardless of the area — urban, suburban, rural — the number one issue facing them is criminal street gangs."

While the GBI is seeing an increase in the more commonly known gangs, such as sects of the Bloods and Crips and MS-13, one particularly violent gang that's estimated to have 30,000 to 50,000 members worldwide, it's smaller organizations, too, that Reynolds said deserve attention, given they're just as lethal.

It was one such smaller outfit, Kutt Throat 53, whose leader, Tafahree Maynard, shot to death Gwinnett County Police Department Officer Antwan Toney in October, Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter said last month when announcing a gang task force his office has implemented.

So, just how does the GBI plan to tackle the gang problem?

It starts with charging suspected gang members under the state's criminal street gang statute, which Reynolds said is one of the strongest in the country.

"What I think has happened in the past, and I don't mean just with the GBI but with law enforcement in general, is let's say hypothetically, we respond to a homicide case and investigators get there. They tend to focus, as they should, on investigating and solving the homicide," Reynolds said. "What we've done previously is even though there may be a gang connection, a gang nexus, law enforcement has tended to step over the gang charge and go directly to the underlying charge and predicate charge, whether it's murder, armed robbery or drug trafficking, without pursuing that gang connection. That's what we're going to change ... no longer will we step over that; we will investigate the gang connections, and if we can make the gang charges under the gang statute, we will do that."

Arresting and charging people alone won't solve the problem, though, Reynolds acknowledged.

"As a society, we have to provide kids who are vulnerable, who are recruitable, who are at a point in their life where they could go street A or B, (the resources) to make sure they go down the correct street," he said. "That's a task that churches, community groups, civil organizations, schools are all involved in day in and day out. We need to do that as fellow human beings for the next generation."

"But the truth is, sometimes people enter into gangs, they commit acts, and the only way to deal with it is with an aggressive, assertive law enforcement approach," Reynolds continued. "That part of the equation I believe the Bureau can do (well)."

Silver Creek apartments top Tuesday agenda
• Floyd County Commissioners will decide on three proposed rezonings

Floyd County Commissioners are slated to rule on three rezoning requests following public hearings Tuesday.

A controversial plan to add six more quadplexes to a Silver Creek apartment complex on Wax Road drew opposition at the Rome-Floyd Planning Commission meeting early this month. The citizen board voted 7 to 1 to recommend denial of the project at the corner of Midway Park Road.

Planning Commission member Charles Love cast the lone vote in support, noting that the property where Silver Creek Holdings LLC wants to put the new units is already zoned for multi-family development.

Engineer Mike Price, representing the company, said they need an additional 6.64 acres zoned for multi-family to house the septic field that will serve the units. The land is currently zoned for Community Commercial and Suburban Residential use.

"The drainage issues we have now, this will address that," Price told neighbors who came to voice their concerns.

Crime, additional traffic and the condition of the existing apartments also were cited as potential problems by nearby residents.

Price said plans are to upgrade the existing apartments when the new ones are built. Under questioning from planning commission members, he said rent would likely rise from about $1,000 a month to $1,200 a month.

Associate Planner Brice Wood said there are petitions for and against the new project.

Planning staff recommended denial because the development would sandwich the new units onto a smaller parcel next to single-family homes while the larger section – uphill from the units – would hold the septic drain field. There also is concern that the water flow would not be sufficient for fire protection.

County Commissioners will take comments and consider the issue at their

regular meeting, which starts at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the County Administration Building, 12 E. Fourth Ave.

Two other rezoning requests are recommended for approval.

Ronnie Kilgo is seeking Light Industrial zoning for a tract at 7648 New Calhoun Highway. The owner of Rome Gas said he wants to establish a propane tank filling station for his delivery trucks serving the northern part of the county.

Steve Bennett is asking for Neighborhood Office Commercial zoning for a parcel at 200 Chatillon Road. It's currently zoned for residential use and is at the entrance to Celanese Village, but has typically housed offices over the years.

The initial request was for commercial zoning but commissioners were concerned that a convenience store could open on the site and disturb the neighborhood. NOC zoning allows only less-intensive uses such as the attorney's office that is planned.


Janna Khateeb, a fifth-grader at Model Elementary School