All Parmjit "Rimi" Singh, 44, ever wanted to do was make a better life for his family. Tuesday night his own life was cut short when Lamar Rashad Nicholson allegedly went into Singh's Burnett Ferry Quick Stop and fired multiple shots, killing Singh a few minutes before 9 p.m.
Singh's brother Sarabjeet "Ricky" Singh, who owns several local businesses, said his older brother came to Rome about eight years ago and had already made more friends than Ricky had since he came to Rome 15 years ago.
Rimi, who is survived by a wife and sons, ages 17 and 15, had a personality that naturally attracted people. "Everybody liked him, he joked around with them," Ricky said.
Rimi moved to Rome in 2012. When he came to the U.S. from India almost 30 years ago, he lived in New York. He drove a cab in New York for many years before acquiring a convenience store in Indiana before moving to Rome.
He became the owner of the Burnett Ferry Road shop about a year and a half ago, and spent a considerable amount of money to upgrade the physical appearance of the store.
"He worked 12-hour shifts each day," Ricky said.
"He was almost there, almost where he wanted to be," said sister-in-law Seema Singh, Ricky's wife. "God didn't give him the chance to enjoy what he did."
Ricky said his brother understood the dangers associated with convenience store ownership.
"He knew how to deal with people. He wasn't a one-time guy, when you meet him you want to meet him again and again," Ricky said.
"He had a good sense of humor and he made everybody laugh," Seema said.
"People know me for my good service in my store. People knew him for his personality and how he talked with the people," Ricky said.
Ricky said he would help take over operations at his brother's store.
"We work because we want to do better for our family," Ricky said. "It was like that with my father and my grandfather. We want our kids to have a good life. Our kids are our first priority."
Visitation for friends of Singh is scheduled for today from 3 to 5 p.m. at Good Shepherd Funeral Home on Shorter Avenue. The funeral itself will be held Saturday in Atlanta.
Parthey Patel, the clerk at the 204 Elm St. store who suffered a torso wound when Nicholson allegedly shot him during an armed robbery just minutes after allegedly killing Singh, has apparently been transferred from Floyd Medical Center to another undisclosed hospital.
"That was my impression," said Coroner Gene Proctor.
Floyd Medical Center spokesman Dan Bevels said, "He's no longer officially in our records."
Meanwhile, Nicholson, faces additional charges after intentionally damaging the sprinkler head in his cell at the jail around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, causing a major flood.
Nicholson was charged with felonies for causing a riot in a penal institution and interference with government property. He faces charges ranging from murder to armed robbery for the shooting spree Tuesday night.
City officials thought they had found a solution for re-installing a dock at the Town Green on the Oostanaula. When they crunched the numbers for the project, well, the numbers just didn't work. Now it's back to the drawing board, or perhaps, the bank.
"It was going to require some techniques of installation that were very expensive," said Rome Public Service Director Kirk Milam. The projected budget for the project was in excess of $150,000. That was installation alone since the dock itself has been dry-docked for close to two years.
"For the time being we have shelved those plans," Milam said. "It was all going to be done from the water. Everything has to be on a barge. We're talking about piles having to be driven and it all has to be done from the river."
The dock was pulled out of the water after it caught and backed up an island of debris and trash that floats down the river virtually every time the river comes up. Part of the problem was that the dock was located at the Town Green, which is on the same side of the river as the primary channel, where most of the debris coming down river will be flowing.
"This is probably one of the most harsh and difficult environments you could design for," said City Manager Sammy Rich. "You can have such wild swings in the river elevation."
Rich said that he hasn't ruled out the possibility of moving the dock to the other side of the river, out of the main channel, as part of a project to use 2 acres of property next to the Courtyard by Marriott.
"I do think as we continue to see growth of outdoor recreation, specifically on the rivers, I do think we need a dock somewhere in that general area for people who are downtown and want to be on the rivers."
Milam said there was no way to prevent the debris from coming down the river.
"That problem is on every river system in the county," Milam said. "The key to the redesign was trying to get it out of the channel that was most likely to catch the debris. Bridges are vulnerable, as are docks, any other facility you've got out in the river."
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Nearly 13,000 people called for help on the Northwest Georgia Area Agency on Aging hotline during the past 12 months, the director testified in Atlanta on Thursday.
Lynn Reeves spoke to the House Appropriations health and human resources subcommittee chaired by Rep. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome. Reeves and Maureen Kelly, legislative liaison for the Georgia Council on Aging, are seeking an additional $14 million in the state's 2019 budget.
"The explosive growth in the number of Georgians age 60 and older is already straining our current system ... and the loss of two federal grants created a funding crisis," Kelly said.
The two women were representing CO-AGE, a coalition of 800 local entities advocating for the elderly that is led by the Council on Aging.
Top priorities for this legislative session are $10 million more for non-Medicaid home- and community-based services and $4 million to help fund the state's network of Aging and Disability Resource Centers.
Reeves said ADRCs — the 12 area agencies and nine centers for independent living — connect people to available services, which can be publicly funded or through private or nonprofit organizations. In addition to the hotline, 1-866-552-4464, they handle direct calls and referrals.
"Right now we're having a high volume of calls," Reeves said. "We usually see a large number after the holidays, when people visit and see the condition their loved one is in and look for services."
Reeves told the subcommittee about a recent call from the daughter of an 86-year-old homebound man who "struggles with dementia." The woman and her husband work full time, and "were in a crisis" about her father, she said.
The ADRC was able to arrange for some home-based services, including meal delivery and a visiting homemaker service.
"Not only did we help the father, but we were there to help the caregivers, the family," Reeves said.
Kelly said home-based services delay a commitment to a nursing home by an average of 51 months. They save taxpayer dollars in the long run, she noted, but there are more than 12,000 on waiting lists across the state.
"Without more money, the list gets longer, their health declines, they need more skilled nursing and ... yes, some of them die," she said.
Dempsey's subcommittee also heard from foster care organizations, court-appointed attorneys representing children and other groups seeking funding for services to vulnerable populations.
The House passed the supplemental 2018 budget this week and sent it to the Senate. Hearings on the 2019 "big budget" will likely continue during most of the session, which runs through March 29.
CO-AGE will be lobbying lawmakers in other committees on the three other top priorities that members agreed on in meetings last year.
The group wants a central registry of abusers, to help prevent the hiring of caregivers with a history of abusing or exploiting elderly and at-risk people. Tougher penalties for violations of personal care home regulations, and the need for affordable assisted living options also are on the list.
Legislation that passed the Georgia Senate Thursday would end tax breaks for private driver education courses and diesel emission controls on commercial vehicles.
They stand to be the first two casualties of the Senate Study Committee on Special Tax Exemptions, tasked with evaluating the costs and benefits of the state's numerous tax incentives.
Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, was a member of the committee chaired by Sen. John Albers, R-Alpharetta. He also chairs the Senate Finance Committee that sent Albers' SB 328 to the floor with a recommendation to pass.
Hufstetler has long-decried the lack of a mechanism to determine if the state's tax credits — aimed at encouraging certain behaviors or actions — are showing a return on investment.
"Many of these ... are probably paying off while some of them are probably not," he said when appointed to the study committee.
The group selected six programs for in-depth study and recommended eliminating three.
The tax credit of up to $150 toward teen driver education programs from private providers is rarely used, possibly because 114 of the state's 159 counties don't have a private provider.
The 16-year-old tax credit for investing in diesel particulate emission technology on commercial vehicles hasn't been claimed in five years.
The measure now moves to the House for debate. If adopted as written, the programs would end Dec. 31.
A tax credit for employers that subsidize employees' use of van pools or public transportation also was recommended for sunset but is not included in SB 328.
Three other programs — for the film industry, historic property rehabilitation and company research and development — netted support from the study committee.