Plans for two old schools in Rockmart are starting to come together with housing as the main focus for the properties.
The Northwest Georgia Housing Authority board approved a resolution to partner with the Paces Foundation as co-developer for upgrades at the Ashland Park Apartments in Rome and redevelopment of the Elm Street and Euharlee school buildings in Rockmart.
The work in Rockmart will convert the two old schools into residential units with one, two, three and four bedroom units.
The project will also include renovations of the old gym and construction of a new swimming pool.
"We're just in the process of trying to hire an architect," Executive Director Sandra Hudson said.
What to do with the old schools in Rockmart has been in the works for a long time. As far back as before the 2008 recession, plans for the Elm Street School fluctuated between housing and potentially providing the Rockmart Fire Department with a second station.
The focus for the most part in post-recession planning has been on housing for both developments.
In 2014, plans were discussed for Rockmart city officials to work with the NWGHA to secure grants to work on a development of Elm Street School for low cost housing for local families, utilizing the 60,000 square foot building and 11 acres of land available.
The city in 2017 also held public hearings over what to do with the Euharlee school building, with the idea that it would become a senior housing development at the time.
Hudson sought at the time to build a 14-unit housing development within the old school, and add on 26 new units on the available property.
Rockmart officials were just learning of the new developments on both properties put forth by the Housing Authority Board late last week. They are expected to provide a statement at a later date about the planned new housing.
Editor Kevin Myrick and RN-T Associate Editor Doug Walker contributed to this report.
Changes are in the air for some events that are part of the regular calendar in the yearly life of Cedartown, though no decisions are yet set in stone.
The city's new Department of Tourism and Economic Development head Aimee Madden provided the City Commission with several ideas during a first update at January's regular meeting.
She said that the department made up of Cedartown Performing Arts Center director Oscar Guzman and Main Street Director Ramona Ruark for their opening meeting back in November 2018 with other city officials to sit down and put together a whole range of thoughts to create new or improve events held locally.
One idea Madden immediately put forth was a way to both capitalize on Cedartown's connection
with Sterling Holloway and propose to create the Holloway Honey Pot Festival and Arts Market that would look toward a late summer timeframe to coincide with honey harvesting season.
"We had originally planned to have it in May, but our beekeeper here in town at the College and Career Academy, said that we wouldn't likely have any honey until July," Madden said.
She believes the best place to start out such a festival would be Big Spring Park, which was close to where Holloway's ancestral home in Cedartown was located. A room at the Polk County Historical Society museum on West Avenue is dedicated to the legacy of Holloway's career in film and his life in Cedartown.
Additional details are still in the works on the potential festival, Madden said, and more announcements are expected later in the year.
In the meantime, the department has other plans for downtown events. The group believes that based on previous participation in the summertime Fourth Friday events, and since in the past years they've had to call off events and reschedule them later in the year due to rain, Fourth Friday needs to move from downtown to Peek Park.
She said the benefits outweigh any potential pitfalls: it gives more space for families to come and enjoy the event, the park provides more shade and cool air during sweltering summer evenings, and most importantly it has a small amphitheater already in place.
The city also wants to promote a new fall event, "Spooky Spokes."
Madden said this wasn't being designed as a Trunk or Treat-style Halloween event, but more of a cycling showcase of kids in costumes that also can double as a festival for local churches and civic groups to participate in as well.
It wouldn't replace annual downtown Trick or Treating, or the Fall Festival.
The department does think that dates for the Fall Festival need to be pushed back in order for the weather to match the name. They are looking at a early November date instead of early October, to avoid summer temperatures which in the past years haven't broken as early as in the past.
"We want to dive in together as a department and try to make it a better event," Madden said.
The goal is to also provide additional entertainment and options for youth to enjoy during the festival day on Main Street.
Additional ideas include an open air art gallery along the Silver Comet Trailhead area, ramping up the annual Christmas parade with a full day of events but also moving it from Thursday to Saturday evening.
No formal changes have yet been made, but all are something the department is looking at as 2019 gets underway.
Commission Chair Matt Foster thanked Madden for the update during the January regular session, and said he appreciated their coming with not just information but a plan for the future.
The Aragon City Council does care about both citizens of the city and employees who have kept it operating according to the latest comments from Mayor Pro Tem Debbie Pittman this morning.
In a follow-up from the latest report on the City of Aragon's finances and discussions held over the issue during the city council's work session on Jan. 17, Pittman said the council does not agree with a statement made by Mayor Garry Baldwin during that work session.
"Council members took an oath to protect both the taxpayers and the city employees," Pittman said in a phone interview on Tuesday morning, Jan. 22. "We do not want citizens or our employees to think that we don't care about them. We care about both."
She also added that questions over city finances raised during the January work session and in previous meetings aren't being fully addressed, especially when it comes to ensuring that Financial Consultant Rick Hartley is giving full approval for paying out on bills and spending items before it is approved by the council.
"Nothing was supposed to be paid or spent without the approval of Rick (Hartley)," Pittman said. "The things that we put in place aren't being followed."
Pittman did defend some of the city's past expenditures, but for the most part remained concerned about how much money is coming in and going out from the city coffers.
She said that details of a work session requested by the council specifically with Hartley are still in the planning processes.
"We're working on it now," she said.
Her comments come after a meeting where council members sought more specifics about how the city was going to continue operating when more expenditures are being recorded than revenue coming in.
Baldwin said during the council's January work session that the financial situation wasn't as dire as the council members thought since revenue was constantly coming in to cover bills, and additionally pointed toward past spending from previous and the current council approved from the Special Assets Account for SPLOST purchases being paid back. He also told council members that they "didn't take an oath to protect employees. You took an oath of office to protect the people of the City of Aragon."
Additional conversation and potential action will be coming up for subscribers who get the paper early on Tuesday in a 7 p.m. session that was called late in the week on Friday afternoon, Jan. 25.
The agenda centered completely around the city's finances when submitted before press time.
Items for discussion and potential vote include the finances, a discussion with the city's financial consultant Rick Hartley, a potential discussion of asset sales, the creation of a promised emergency fund and limitations on how it can be used, and additionally of the city's use of Waste Industries to undertake trash collection services.
They also plan to have a discussion of the city's vacation policy, and time is also set aside for comments from the council and mayor.
Check online at Polkstandardjournal.com for more about what happened during the meeting after press time this week, and to also hear audio of that session.
Gunshots rang out in the dark of night and disturbed the peace of a cold January night at two homes in the Williamson Street area of Rockmart.
When police arrived at two scenes just a few blocks apart last Thursday night, January 24 just after 8 p.m., they found five people who were shot in what is believed to be a targeted killing of two men and two women.
Four victims were pronounced dead on the scene after the coroner's office arrived, and the fifth was rushed to Atlanta Medical Center by airlift not long after the incident for emergency surgery.
As of press time over the weekend, 24-year-old Peerless Brown remained in the intensive care unit, but his condition was upgraded on Saturday from extremely critical to that of serious but stable, with severe injuries to his head. Local officials following his progress report that he is in a medically-induced coma. Officials reported he had made marked improvement since emergency surgery was conducted Thursday following the shooting.
Polk County Coroner Tony Brazier said after family members were fully notified of what happened that Helen Rose Mitchell, 48, and Jaequnn Davis, 19, both of a Williamson Street address were found in front of their home at one scene.
Brown was also found at the Williamson Street home by paramedics, who rushed to get him treatment last Thursday night.
Just a few hundred yards away on (Short) Rome Street, Arkeyla Perry, 24, and Dadrian Cummings, 26, were found shot as well. At least three calls came into 911 within minutes reporting the incidents.
The five victims were all believed to have been targeted due to the nature of their wounds, according to police officials.
Police were still searching at press time for 27-year-old Daylon Delon Gamble, considered armed and dangerous, after he fled the scene and stole a black Ford truck from the Williamson Street address. The truck was later recovered in Bartow County, according to the GBI.
Gamble is being sought by local, state and federal authorities were still on the hunt for him as of Friday evening.
Already the case has drawn in extensive local and area resources during the initial response and follow-up manhunt. Those have included 3 GBI regional offices, the Rockmart Police, Polk County Police, Cedartown Police, Haralson-Paulding Drug Task Force, the Cartersville Police, Floyd County Sheriff's Office fugitive task force members and federal officers from the FBI and U.S. Marshal's Field Office.
Brazier said the four found outside their homes were all undergoing forensic exams by the GBI's Crime Lab, and were officially pronounced dead on the scene at 8 p.m. Thursday night, Jan. 24.
The shootings marked the first murders of 2019 in Polk County, and outpaced the past two years of violent deaths in one night. There was only one murder in all of 2018 in Cedartown, and three in 2017.
Brazier said in his experience in Polk County in recent years, the murders were the most that have ever taken place at one time. The double shootings took place just a short drive from historic downtown Rockmart. Less than a mile separates both addresses with South Marble Street.
Rockmart Police Chief Keith Sorrells said in his long career in law enforcement in the Rockmart community, he had not experienced anything like last Thursday's shooting before.
"It is difficult for this not to touch everybody in this community one way or the other. Whether you were relatives of those families, or friends of someone that knew them, it's just a tragedy," Sorrells said. "In my mind we're a close knit community. My heart goes out to the families of the victims and those that are connected to them, which I think encompass everybody."
"I think we all want what's best for Rockmart, and this is not it. It's not a true reflection of this community," he said.
Sorrells said based on calls received by Polk County 911 reporting the calls first at the Williamson Street address at 7:59 p.m., and then another shooting moments later not far from where the house sits at 422 Gordon Street. The second call was then proceeded moments later by the report of shots being fired at 503 Rome Street.
He added that thus far, police have not yet determined a motive as to why Gamble would commit the crime, or anything about the victims that would explain why this happened.
Authorities all urged Gamble to turn himself in as the manhunt continued over the weekend into press time.
Marchers took to Cedartown sidewalks and gathered in front of Polk County Courthouse No. 2 to air a grievance over the weekend.
On Saturday, they carried signs and heard speeches about millions of unborn souls never being given a chance to experience life. Their decades-long campaign here in Polk County continued onward as the effort to end abortion remains a battle they see as still un-won.
The Polk County Christian Coalition hosted the 20th anniversary of their Sanctity of Life March and Memorial in downtown Cedartown this past Saturday which began with a 11:45 a.m. silent procession toward the courthouse, and then continued on with a noon ceremony.
"There are some positive things happening on the pro-life front, and we're going to see these efforts here in Georgia," Longtime organizer Larry Tolbert said. "We started doing this 20 years ago and it's hard to believe..."
Tolbert held back tears and continued on about the efforts put forth by organizers to continue to get people involved in their cause. He also added a line of scripture he wanted leaders around the country to hear and left marchers with a message: "do what is right."
He added during the ceremony's opening that it was one of the largest crowds to attend the Sanctity of Life march in years.
This event became an annual observance in downtown Cedartown as a result of the efforts of three primary organizers: Tolbert, Lee Mann and Twila Rariden.
Mann, who provided an address of her own to remember the 20th anniversary of the march, said that it was her ardent hope to see it come to an end in years to come.
"I pray that one day we don't have to plan this celebration," she said.
Additional speakers during Saturday's event included the Rev. Justin Carter, Pastor Philip Drake, Rev. Bill Heaton and Heather Blackmon of Life Matters Outreach. A benediction was also provided by Rev. Bill Frasier.
The Sanctity of Life event is annually in an effort to continue to highlight the importance of all human life and to "protect the innocent unborn."
It's been held annually on the last weekend in January no matter the weather.
The national 46th annual March for Life was held in Washington, D.C. on Friday, Jan. 18.
Find additional information about the national pro-life moment at nrlc.org, silentnomore.com and for the national March for Life at marchforlife.org.
Ferst Readers of Polk County will hold its annual Afternoon with the Authors on Sunday, Feb. 24 from 2 to 4 p.m. at In The Woods in Rockmart. We welcome donations throughout the year to fund the over 1,100 children in Polk County who receive free books each month. Ferst Readers is dedicated to early childhood literacy, mailing books to children ages birth to their fifth birthday.
The Polk County Police Department is teaming up with Blood Assurance on Monday, Feb. 4 for an upcoming blood drive in the Polk County Board of Commissioners meeting room at the department's headquarters at 73 Cline Ingram Jackson Road, Cedartown. The drive will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visit bloodassurance.org/polkpd, call 1-800-962-0628 or text BAGIVE to 444999 now to schedule an appointment. All donors are entered to win a $250 Zale's gift card ahead of Valentine's Day!
On Saturday, March 2, 2019 at 9 a.m., the Polk County Republican Party will convene Precinct Mass Meetings to elect Delegates and Alternates to the Polk County Republican Party Convention at the Cherokee Country Club, 150 Club Drive in Cedartown. Registration will begin at 8 a.m. The convention will start at 10 a.m., and costs are $10. Contact Dr. Marc Wall at 770-749-0420 about the upcoming convention and monthly meetings of the party.
Give a child a safe place to go after school and learn valuable lessons about community, life and academics by getting involved in the Boys & Girls Club of Northwest Georgia in Cedartown. Visit their center at 321 E. Queen St., Cedartown from 2:30 to 6 p.m. on weekdays and bring your children ages 5-18 for afternoon activities. For more information on how to participate or volunteer, call our office at 770-749-0869 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interested in becoming a Foster or Adoptive Parent? Open your heart to a child in need and find out how you can help. Join others who seek the love of a child every second Tuesday night of each month at 6 p.m. at Polk County Division of Family and Children Services office, 100 County Loop Road in Cedartown. Information sessions explain what is required to become a foster or adoptive parent in Georgia. For more information please call Robin Forston at 404-895-6517 or email robin. email@example.com or call 1-877-210-KIDS. Visit www.fostergeorgia.com for more information.
The Polk County Democratic Committee Meets on the second Saturday of every month at 9:30 a.m. In the "even" months (February, April, June, August, etc.) the organization meets at The Rockmart Library at 316 N. Piedmont Ave., Rockmart and during the "odd" months (January, March, etc.) they meet at the Cedartown Welcome Center, 609 Main St., Cedartown, GA 30125.
USAPA Pickelball Ambassador Daneen England is holding a free pickleball clinic every Monday (weather permitting) from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Rockmart Tennis courts, located at 436 Hogue Avenue, Rockmart. Loaner paddles and all necessary equipment will be on hand to learn t he sport. This is a free event for anyone and they just need to wear comfortable gym clothes and tennis shoes. Contact England at 770-356-1282, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The office of Exceptional Students of Polk School District is available to assist with the identification of children with disabilities and provision a free appropriate public education beginning at the age of three through the age of 21. If you suspect your child is experiencing any developmental delay or you suspect your child might have a disability and would like assistance or for more information about services available through Polk School District, contact the PSD Exceptional Student Services office at 770-684-8718.
Lutheran Services of Georgia's Heritage Adoption Program partners with DFCS to find Forever Families for children waiting in Georgia's foster care system. Information Sessions are held on the third Thursday of every month at 6 p.m. at the Rome Office, located at 336 Broad St., Suite 200. Individual sessions may be scheduled to accommodate families as needed. For more email email@example.com or call 706-506-0649.
Need help with the bills during the winter, and are a senior? Tallatoona CAP will begin accepting appointments for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) for Senior Households 65 & older and Homebound Households. Appointments for the General Public will be accepted beginning in December. Appointments are provided on a first come first served basis until funds are exhausted. Polk County residents who qualify will receive either $310.00 or $350.00 toward their heating bill (heating source). To schedule an appointment or to request a homebound appointment, visit our website at www.tallatoonacap.org and click BookNow, or call 770-817-4666.
Victory Baptist Church's Bread of Life Food Pantry is now open. One bag of nonperishable food, five items to pick from produce, eggs and milk and two items from frozen meats, breads and others will be available. ID is required. Limit of two IDs per address. Regular hours are Mondays, 1 to 3 p.m.; Tuesdays, 5 to 7 p.m.; and Thursdays, 8 to 10 a.m.
The Georgia Legal Services Program's Claire Sherburne will be on hand at One Door Polk in Cedartown every fourth Monday to help those in need with free civil legal services to low-income persons. This will include all cases related to housing, employment, education, domestic violence, consumer fraud, wills, healthcare and other issues involved in the legal complications of everyday life. Call 404-206-5175 for more information.
The Polk County Alzheimer's Caregiver Support group will meet monthly on the first Monday at 11 a.m. at Polk Medical Center. Those interested can join for fellowship and lunch in the cafeteria. For more information call John Giglio at 678-246-8188.
Aragon First United Methodist Church offers a food pantry for the community to use if they need assistance. They are open Mondays from 5:30 to 7 p.m. and Tuesday mornings from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. A picture ID is required to participate. Call 770-684-4855 for more information.
Celebrate Recovery meets every Monday night at the First Baptist Church of Rockmart starting with dinner at 6 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. Large Group at 7 p.m. and Small Share Group at 8 p.m.
Soup and Savior, a local nonprofit organization, meets from 6 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays to provide needed items to deserving people. This includes a free meal (soup), clothing and gives other assistance. Meetings are held at Glad Tidings, located at 703 Robert L Parks Blvd. in Cedartown. Donations are accepted.
Just Us Ministries Inc. Food Bank has distribution every Tuesday and Thursday at 904 Young Farms Road in Cedartown. On Tuesday the distribution is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to noon. A picture ID is required. For more information call 770-687-1009 or 678-901-3354, e-mail justusmin.org@gmail. Journal com, or visit Justusministries.com.
Take back your life and get help. Narconon can help you take steps to overcome addiction in your family. Call today for free for screenings or referrals at 1-800-431-1754.
Anna Kresge United Methodist Church invites children, kindergarten age through middle school, to come to Kresge Kids each Wednesday from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Supper is provided. There is also a high school youth program as well. For more information, call 706-346-3100.
The Gold City Quartet is coming to the First Baptist Church of Cedartown for an evening concert on Sunday, February 17 at 6 p.m. a love offering is being taken up, but it is free to attend. Come join in a night of gospel at First Baptist Church of Cedartown, located at 101 N College St. Contact the church at 770-748-3120 for more information.
Rockmart First United Methodist Church invites the community to come out and join in worship on Sundays and Wednesdays at the church located at 135 W. Church St. Sunday morning worship begins with Bible study at 9:45 a.m., followed by Sunday school at 10 a.m. for all ages, and an 11 a.m. worship service. Wednesday night includes at 5 p.m. community meal on the last Wednesday of every month, 6 p.m. Bible study and choir practice at 7 p.m. Weekly children's events at the church include a 5:45 p.m. children and youth meal, 6:15 Children's music and MYF, followed by L.I.F.E. at 6:54 p.m. All are invited to join in. Call Rev. Martha Dye at 770-684-6251or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or questions. The church also updates weekly on their website at rockmartumc.org.
Harmony Baptist Church, 882 Little Harmony Rd, Cedartown (Esom Hill area) invites everyone to attend their weekly Sunday morning Services. First Sunday morning service begins at 9:45 a.m. with Sunday School followed by worship service at 11 a.m.. Our doors are open to all and we are looking forward to seeing you. For more information visit our Facebook page, Harmony Baptist church, Cedartown.
Shiloh Baptist Church would like to invite the community to come participate in worship services weekly at their sanctuary at 433 Shiloh Road. Join the church for Sunday school at 10 a.m., followed by 11 a.m. service or Wednesday nights at 6 p.m. Call Pastor Jamie Newsome for more information at 404-425-8510.
Cedar Lake Christian Center is a non-denominational community who invites anyone looking to find the Holy Spirit within them to come join in worship services on Sunday mornings at 10:30 a.m. with the Rev. Neil Hopper, along with Hispanic services as well to the community. Those interested in participating can join in at Cedar Lake Christian Center, located at 1890 Rome Highway, Cedartown. For more information call 770-608-0651.
Join the Church of God of the Union Assembly, 32 Prospect Road, Rockmart, for praise and worship weekly. The church welcomes anyone to come and worship regularly on Sundays and Wednesdays as well. Praise and youth services are held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday nights, and services start at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday following Sunday School at 9:45 a.m. Call Pastor Jesse Starnes at 678-757-4572 for more information.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints provides opportunities to local residents interested in hearing the message of Jesus Christ. For more information about how you can speak to local Elders, contact 687-852-7497, or visit their meeting house at 10005 N. Main St., Cedartown for worship services at 10 a.m. on Sundays.
Do you have interest in studying the Bible and prophecies within? Contact Dr. Idel Suarez about a new study group being formed locally for serious scholars of the text. Contact him at 813-310-9350 for more information about how to participate and future meetings.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Cedartown, hosts a genealogy group that meets from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday nights, except holidays. There are no fees for these sessions and they are open to anyone. Please bring all of your basic family history (if you have it) such as names, birthdates/death dates of parents, grandparents, children, etc. Bring your laptop or tablet, if you have one. If not, we can still help. Questions? Contact us at 678-477-2861 and leave a message or visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/FamilyQuest42/
Clubs and Organizations
The Ferst Readers Community Action Team meets the first Monday of the month at 5 p.m., alternately in Cedartown and Rockmart. Call 404-862-1273 for the meeting location. Find out more about how to help improve childhood literacy in Polk County at ferstfoundation.org.
The Cedartown Optimist Club meets on Thursday mornings at 7:30 a.m. for their weekly breakfast meeting and encourages members to join in and take part at the Goodyear Civic Center on Prior Street in Cedartown. Those interested in joining the Optimist Club and help local youth organizations can contact Ronnie Dingler by e-mail at email@example.com.
The Polk County Beekeepers meets the first Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. to noon at the Cedartown Library, 245 East Ave. Whether you are an experienced beekeeper, new beekeeper or want to learn all are welcome. For details email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit tinyurl.com/polkbees.
Members are invited to join the Cedartown Exchange Club weekly on Thursdays at 6 p.m. at the Cherokee Country Club for meetings and dinner. New members from across Polk County are encouraged to get involved by contacting club president-elect Edward Guzman at 770-546-2482 to take part in the organization that is involved in a wide range of community projects. Visit their website at cedartownexchangeclub.com to learn more. Annual dues are required to be a member.