The Rome City Commission named police Capt. Rusty Blair the city's Officer of the Year for his capture of a murder suspect wanted in Bartow County.
"He is one of my best" in a department of exemplary officers, Police Chief Denise Downer-McKinney said during a recognition ceremony at the board's Monday meeting.
Justin Lee Wade had reportedly shot two people, one fatally, when Bartow County authorities put out an alert the morning of May 17, 2018. And it was thought he was headed to Rome to kill someone else.
Acting on a tip, Blair found Wade near the Ledbetter Interchange and took him into custody without incident.
"A violent murder suspect apprehended without the use of deadly force," Commissioner Milton Slack said in presenting a proc lamation in Blair's honor. The arrest pointed up Blair's good judgment and keen powers of observation, Slack added.
Blair joined to the Rome Police Department after a stint at the Georgia Department of Corrections, assigned to Hays State Prison in Trion. He worked his way up through various divisions, from field operations to selective enforcement to a position on the Rome-Floyd Metro Task Force.
Blair was promoted to captain in 2017 and serves as the department's training director.
"I've been given a lot of opportunity since coming to the Rome Police Department," Blair said, adding that he is grateful for the professionalism of the command staff and his fellow officers.
"So many men and women are more deserving of this," he said in accepting the proclamation and a standing ovation from the crowd.
Wade was back in Bartow County by the end of the day of the shootings and remains in jail awaiting trial.
He is charged with murder, aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and use of a firearm by a convicted felon during the commission of a crime.
Bartow County Sheriff Clark Millsap said at the time that deputies called to a shooting on Franklin Drive, off Cassville Road, found one man dead and a seriously injured man trying to run from the scene.
Investigators identified Wade as the suspect and posted a lookout with a warning that he could be headed to Rome.
Within a few hours, Blair had captured Wade and turned him over to Bartow deputies at the county line.
According to the GDOC website, Wade, 33, had been released just two days earlier from Montgomery State Prison, where he had been serving a Floyd County sentence for loitering and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Former Floyd County commissioner Charles C. Parker, 82, died Monday night from complications related to a number of health issues. Parker was a real estate professional for more than half a century, but his name will probably best be remembered in conjunction with the Charles C. Parker Center for Active Adults at Etowah Park.
David Doss, who served on the commission with Parker in 1989 and 1990, said service to the county's senior citizens would undoubtedly be Parker's legacy.
"He wanted to make sure that senior center was built and that services were being made available to that population," Doss said.
Tammy Bryant, who serves as the recreation department staff director at the Parker Center, said she had just seen Parker last week during one of his frequent visits to the facility.
"He was an amazing man. He had several (health) issues, but Mr. Parker was such a strong and determined man that he kept going when a lot of people would not have," Bryant said. "He would come out and visit many of our programs and take part in many of our programs. If there was something we needed that he could assist with, he would be the first person to find it or help in any way that he could."
Parker was a member of the Floyd County Commission from 1981 through 1990. Former commissioner Anne Rigas said she could not recall a time when Parker wasn't "just bubbling over."
She said he served all of the people of Floyd County well, not just the senior population.
Parker had been affiliated with Hardy Realty in Rome for many years. "He showed up for work every day. He always put his clients first whether that meeting was at 10 at night or Sunday afternoon," said Jimmy Byars, the CEO and broker at Hardy Realty. "Real estate was his life and he died doing what he loved."
Parker had served as president of the Greater Rome Board of Realtors in 1988 and was also a member of the local Realtors Hall of Fame.
Much of his real estate work was focused on the commercial sector. He was particularly active in the hospitality industry, involved in numerous hotel/motel deals through the years. His bio on the Hardy Realty website indicates he was instrumental in bringing Sonny's BBQ to Rome. He was also a major factor in the deal that resulted in a new upscale convenience store at the intersection of Redmond Road and Redmond Circle in West Rome, near the entrance to The Spires at Berry College.
Student recognition was one of the main features of the Rome City Schools board of education meeting Tuesday night in the crowded lunchroom of Rome Middle School.
Rome City Schools Technology Fair Spelling Bee winners were both honored during the meeting. Mason Cochran, a sixth-grader at West End Elementary and winner of the Rome City Spelling Bee, was recognized along with North Heights Elementary student Samuel Metzger. Cochran received a check for $250 and runner-up Metzger a check for $50 from Russ Wheeler of National Copier Exchange.
The STAR Students of Rome High School were also recognized, however were unable to attend due to prior engagements.
Rome High School Principal Eric Holland accepted the honor on their behalf. The STAR Teachers were also recognized and shook the hands of the board members after receiving their awards.
Leslie Dixon, director of school improvement, gave a brief overview of how the school system celebrated Black History month.
Board member Alvin Jackson spoke up and said he tried to visit every school during the month and thanked Dixon and the school system for recognizing and celebrating an important part of American History.
Host Rome Middle School showcased its student achievements with Principal Parke Wilkinson presenting the school's academic statistics to the board and also took questions. Board member Elaina Beeman asked Wilkinson about his plans to get his students on grade level.
"One of the things you have to do is read," he said. "If you don't read, it's not gonna happen."
Wilkinson added that the school's media center and classroom libraries have improved, and allow students to take books home to read. Students are being instructed in small groups.
Superintendent Lou Byars took a moment to recognize the system's board members in honor of board appreciation week which begins next week.
The board voted to approve the hiring of 20 new certified employees for 2019-20 and one classified hire for that school year. They approved 18 educators and other staff to transfer to different schools in the system, with six leaving once this current school year ends.
In the caucus before the meeting, the board discussed nominating a delegate to attend the 2019 Georgia School Boards Association Delegate Assembly in Savannah on June 8. Beeman volunteered to be the delegate with Vice Chair Jill Fisher volunteering to be the alternate.
A metro Atlanta developer has submitted a Development of Regional Impact plan to the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission for new warehouse and distribution buildings north of Cartersville.
Capital Development Partners has taken an option to purchase approximately 260 acres adjacent to the Highland 75 Industrial Park off Cass-White Road, just east of I-75.
The property sits east of Great Valley Parkway, the road through the Highland 75 park and backs up to the Cass High School property.
The acreage is currently owned by GALCO Investment, which sold much of the property for the Highland 75 park to the Cartersville-Bartow County Joint Economic Development Authority about 15 years ago. Melinda Lemmon, executive director of the Cartersville-Bartow County Department of Economic Development, said in hindsight, the authority probably should have acquired the property itself when it took ownership of the rest of the industrial park which sits about a mile east of the interstate.
Lemmon said the option was part of the due diligence process leading up to the actual purchase of the property.
The property is already zoned the same as the Highland 75 property, and is interconnected in terms of infrastructure and planning, according to Lemmon.
"Capital Development Partners has a great reputation and certainly great product that has come out of the ground in other communities," she said. "Certainly we would expect no less here."
Whatever the developers bring to the park will become a part of the same employment center.
"We will market it collectively with Highland 75. Great Valley Parkway Phase Two and related utility infrastructure is underway right how," Lemmon said.
The Highland 75 park includes Voestalpine, an Austrian auto parts manufacturer; Constellium a Dutch aluminum auto parts maker, and Surya Rug out of India.
According to its website, Capital Development Partners broke ground last summer on the 190-acre $125 million Savannah Port Logistics Center.
The Savannah Port Logistics Center will feature multiple routes to the port and access to both I-16 and I-95 and offer dual rail service to both CSX and Norfolk Southern lines.
Bartow County Commissioner Steve Taylor said there is virtually no way to get a rail spur to the proposed project north of Cartersville, however a major CSX line is less than a mile east of the property.
Taylor also said phase two, which increases Cass-White Road to a four-lane road from I-75 to just past Great Valley Parkway to access the site, is currently on the drawing board, but not funded.
Today's artwork is by Hayden Woods, a fifth-grader at East Central Elementary School.