David Gresham, Rome, is a railroad retiree and the complicated nature of his income tax return related to both railroad retirement and Social Security led him to try out the AARP Volunteer Tax program several years ago. On the other hand, George and Judy Bevels showed up at the Charles C. Parker Senior Center to take advantage of the free tax-filing assistance for the first time Wednesday.
"A friend of ours came out here and told us about it so we decided to come out here this year," George Bevels said. "I came out early and got signed up and they took us pretty quick." The Bevelses received assistance from Gordon Leiter, the dean and coordinator of the local tax-aide program.
"I've been doing this for 25 years. It's time to retire," Leiter said. He actually retired from General Electric years ago, but enjoys learning about the nuances of tax law and helping out his fellow senior citizens each year.
As Leiter was finishing up with the Bevelses' return, Max Johnson, another longtime volunteer, was putting the wraps on Robert Jackson's return. Johnson has been with the program for the past 16 years.
Gresham sat quietly at one of the tables at the Senior Center on Wednesday, waiting his turn in line and doing some last-minute examination of his lengthy paperwork. He said this was the fourth year in a row he had used the AARP program and he has been very well-satisfied with the results.
Last year eight local volunteers helped more than 1,100 taxpayers file 961 federal returns and 959 state returns.
This year Leiter has seven volunteers who show up at each session and generally work non-stop for the entire three-or four-hour sessions.
Jack Summerbell, a retired local educator who has been working with Leiter and the crew for many years as well, said he believed Wednesday's session was as smooth as any he had seen in a long time. He helps check taxpayers in at the door and makes sure they have all of the necessary paperwork to keep the process moving.
"We haven't had any foulups today, nothing real complicated," Summerbell said. "We do 22-25 a day and cut it off at 26 today."
Leiter indicated to the Rome News-Tribune at the start of the tax-filing season in February that the doubling of the standard deduction has been beneficial to some filers, but not as helpful to others. In previous years, some people itemized deductions if they exceeded the standard deduction, but now may not have enough deductions to exceed the standard deduction and did not change their withholding status and may end up paying Uncle Sam.
Seated in conference rooms around the Berry College Krannert Center, teams made up of Floyd County Schools' gifted fifth-grade students competed for the first-place Quiz Bowl trophy.
Five students sat across from each other, hands on buzzers, which they pressed if they thought they knew the answer to a question asked by the quiz master. In room C, Johnson Elementary School's all-girl team squared off against the second Armuchee Elementary School team.
The teams were asked questions about capitals of South American countries, spelling, naming simple machines, identifying parts of a play, perimeters of shapes and more by Judy Roebuck, gifted education teacher for the school system.
Each question was worth 10 points, and bonus questions with two parts were awarded five points per correctly answered part. The deliberation between team members in room C was timed by Macy Morris, a junior at Pepperell High School. Dahlia Sanford, another junior from Pepperell, kept an eye on which team buzzed in first after Roebuck asked the questions.
This is the 18th year of the FCS Quiz Bowl and it is a student-favorite event, said Allison Espy, coordinator of the quiz bowl.
The gifted middle school students participated on Wednesday with the fifth grade having their day on Thursday. Each room was staffed by central office and high school volunteers.
"The high school students remember doing this," Espy said.
McCall Govignon, director of advanced programs, assessment counseling and guidance said it is good for the kids of the gifted program to meet and interact with other gifted students across the system.
"This isn't something they get in other classrooms," she said. "This prepares them for those high school classes and the academic decathlon."
Garden Lakes Elementary took home first place, scoring 605 points overall, with Johnson Elementary in second with 565 points and Armuchee Elementary in third with 492.5 points. The middle school winners were Armuchee Middle in first, Model Middle in second and Pepperell Middle in third.
The Rome City School Board approved the following positions for the 2019-2020 school year:
Stephen McClure, who currently serves as assistant principal for North Heights Elementary, will take a position at Rome High School as an assistant principal/behavior specialist. McClure began his work in Rome City Schools in 2016 as the assistant principal for Rome Middle School and became assistant principal at North Heights Elementary School in 2018.
In addition to his duties of assistant principal at Rome High School, McClure's role as a behavior specialist will include working directly with identified students to adopt behaviors that substantially increase their academic performance. He will also work with students to improve social skills, ability to learn in school, and eliminate or reduce negative and disruptive behaviors.
John Fricks will also serve assistant principal for Rome High School. Fricks has been at Rome High School since 2013 as a math teacher for grades 9 through 12. Fricks graduated from Shorter University with a bachelor's degree in education, and Kennesaw State University with a master's degree in instructional technology. Currently, Fricks is pursuing his specialist degree in instructional technology leadership with a certification in educational leadership. For the past two years, he has served on the school leadership team, achievement team, PBIS Tier II team, graduation committee, duty (afternoon), Title I Committee, superintendent's advisory committee team, freshman academy leadership team and served as chair of the technology team at Rome High School.
Anna K. Davie Elementary will welcome Lorraine Reeves to their administration team as assistant principal in the fall. Reeves has been an educator for over 20 years with varied experiences in higher and secondary education. Her educational background includes an undergraduate degree in speech and hearing sciences, with a minor in psychology from the University of South Alabama, a master's degree in rehabilitation counseling with a minor in ethnically diverse population from the University of South Florida, and an educational specialist degree in administration and supervision from the University of West Georgia. Most recently, Reeves served as the Career Technical Instruction coordinator at Rome High School.
Sabrina Teems, who is currently the Gifted Coordinator for the system and gifted teacher for West End Elementary and East Central Elementary, will be in a new position for the 2019-2020 school year. Teems, who has over 14 years of experience in education, will continue to serve as the gifted coordinator for the system and fill the role of the instructional technology coordinator. Her duties will include managing digital learning platforms and training teachers and coaches within the system on new technology endeavors.
Serving as a special education teacher at Rome Middle School since 2008, Kelli Johnson will work in central office as the district wide special education specialist. As the lead special educator of Rome Middle School for three years, Johnson has supported new special education teachers through mentoring.
Lastly, Jennifer Edwards and Kimberli Shedd will fill the positions of instructional specialists for Rome City Schools. The primary responsibility of the instructional specialist is to provide teacher and student support in order to increase academic success. Edwards has been in education since 2012 in the roles of lead teacher and Title 1 Interventionist. She joined Rome City Schools in 2018 as a second grade teacher at Anna K. Davie Elementary and will remain there in this new role. Shedd has over 18 years in elementary education and has served as a second grade teacher at Elm Street since 2014. She has been approved to served as the instructional specialist at Main Elementary
"Rome City Schools is very fortunate to have such wonderful internal talent," said Superintendent Louis Byars. "A goal of the system is to 'grow our own' and I feel like we are moving in the right direction as we make these assignments for the next school year."
The dedication of a memorial garden at 11 a.m. will kick off a host of free activities Saturday to mark Rosie the Riveter Day at Richard B. Russell Regional Airport.
"We want families to come, aunts and uncles and grandparents and everybody else to come out and learn about the Rosies," said Ginny Word, representing the Rome chapter of the American Rosie the Riveter Association.
Word said that there are about 20 Rosies in the area and a number of them — in their 90s now — will be at the airport to share their stories with visitors.
"They did jobs the men left behind when they went off to fight in World War II," she told the Floyd County Commission before a proclamation naming Saturday as Rosie the Riveter Day.
The Rome City Commission also issued a proclamation, and some of the Rosies were on hand each night to accept the honors.
Jane Tucker helped weld warships; Mary McJunkin worked in an airplane factory; Louvinia Jordan served as a codebreaker; Joy Mitchell was an administrator at Rome's Battey General Hospital, tending to injured soldiers and prisoners of war; and Betty Ann Ware Harris, the youngest, rolled bandages as a teen.
"Sixteen million women around the country stepped up and kept the home fires burning and the munitions flowing. ... Without them, the war effort would have suffered," Word said.
During the celebration at the airport, kids can learn how to roll bandages at one of the stations, and the Floyd County 4H Club will have their LEGO project on display.
The Museum of Flight will be spotlighting one of its WWII planes that the Rosies worked on, and visitors can try their hand at a little wrenching.
More than 50 Girl Scouts are expected to earn their Rosie the Riveter badges. There also will be Rosie re-enactors and boogiewoogie music by the GI Jive. At least one food truck will be on site for the festivities, which will run through 2 p.m.
Word said the Rosie the Riveter Memorial Rose Garden was established last year as part of a national initiative that aims to have one in every Congressional district before the 75th anniversary of WWII in 2020. They're planted with roses bred especially for the project.
"They're hardy and vibrant and strong and smell nice while doing it. Just like the Rosies," she said.
This year a reader board with the history will be unveiled in the garden at 11 a.m. and TigerFlight plans a flyover at about 11:30 a.m. to honor the occasion.
The American Rosie the Riveter Association has three chapters in Georgia: in Atlanta, Columbus and Rome.
Today's artwork is by Cindy Mendoza, a fourth-grader at Alto Park Elementary School.