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County meets for retreat
• Project updates leave board asking for more information and "what is the deadline?" on several items.

A long list of items in a meeting that took more than three hours to finish provided new Polk County Commissioners with an idea of what is going on in a variety of areas, and the need for additional answers and timelines of completion were called for through a marathon board retreat.

Commissioners got down to business during the night with a laundry list of items to cover, ranging from a plan to change the county's retirement policy to ensuring that commissioners are being kept up to date on upcoming events so they can participate.

Some of the items on that long list of topics will require further discussion in the future since County Manager Matt Denton is now once again taking on a bulk of the responsibility since assistant county manager Barry Akinson suddenly left his role with the administration this month.

Many of the items Denton brought up to provide information to the board he left with unanswered questions about their progress, since he had assigned Akinson those projects to accomplish.

He promised commissioners to get in touch with Akinson to see if he could get more information about where some of those projects stood.

For Denton's part, the departure of Akinson was unexpected and will require him to refocus his efforts to hiring a new Assistant County Manager starting in 2018 after the holidays are over. Denton said Akinson left for personal reasons. "He had some family issues he needed to deal with out of state, so he thought it would be better and more fair for everyone to resign, deal with the matters that he had to deal with," Denton said.

Commissioner Jennifer Hulsey wanted answers on a task that Denton also delegated out to be completed in the past months and still hasn't yet: purchase and installation of a new security camera system at the Polk County Courthouses in Cedartown.

Not all of those items without answers were items being handled by Akinson. One in particular that Commissioner Jennifer Hulsey wanted answers on involves courthouse security cam eras, an issue brought up many months before but no forward movement has been taken.

It was one of many that had Hulsey repeating "what is the deadline on this project?"

She called for clear deadlines to be established on projects to ensure they are getting done in a timely fashion, and commissioners aren't being left with answers as to why projects large or small haven't been finished.

Denton might not have had all the answers to the variety of topics brought up during the retreat, but he and commissioners did settle one particular item of note: committee meetings will be returning.

Commissioners Hal Floyd, Jose Iglesias, Scotty Tillery and Hulsey also echoed a sentiment that has been ongoing this year: much of the work that needs to be completed on many smaller projects during the retreat discussion can be handled in committee work, and should be.

Floyd specifically called for more of these issues to be handled on the departmental level or during committee meetings to avoid having to bring up issues like jail lighting fixtures before the board when he pointed to more pressing issues needing to be handled.

Editor's note: With the large number of items brought up during the retreat, several stories have been written to cover some of the more important among them. Find more thorough items on the Polk County Landfill, county employee retirement and more within this week's edition.


Landfill report finally submitted

What started as a brief update for the county commission saw swift action taken once questions were raised why a report on the Grady Road Landfill's remaining capacity wasn't completed for a summer deadline.

County Manager Matt Denton told the board during their recent retreat session in a brief update on the Remaining Capacity Report that it was due July 1, and a Smith Gardner consultant on behalf of Waste Industries had yet to turn them in as of Nov. 28.

Denton explained that figures were needed by County Engineeer Ronnie Woods for the report to be completed and returned to the state.

He added the state Environmental Protection Division sent a Nov. 6 letter seeking the report by Nov. 20 to "avoid further enforcement action."

Denton said in a follow up e-mail he wasn't sure what sanctions the county might face for not having the report completed by the latest deadline.

The report had been due at the beginning of the fiscal year for the county on July 1 as required both by EPD regulations and via the contract with Waste Industries who operates the landfill.

Denton told commissioners about the missing report during the Board of Commissioner's retreat held in a three-hour session on Tuesday, Nov. 28.

"It turns out that thing (the report,) we're not in compliance. Ronnie Wood is working on that, and Waste Industries consultant was considerably late in getting back with the information that we needed," Denton said to commissioners during the session.

In follow-up conversations last week on Nov. 30, Denton had yet to call upon EPD to explain the issue.

Kevin Chambers, a spokesman for the EPD, explained that by their regulations the report is due on July 1, and the letter went out on Nov. 6 seeking to get the report in only as a reminder.

Since the report hasn't been turned in yet, Chambers expected an additional reminder letter to be sent on to the county.

No sanctions will be levied against the county for being late on the report.

However, Chambers said the report is an important document for the state to have in their possession, allowing the EPD to see an overall picture of how much capacity is left around the state.

When asked about the delay in the report, Waste Industries George Gibbons said the matter was over a discrepancy between his consultant and Woods, and then later in the day produced the report in an e-mail to both this reporter and Denton.

He said the report is one required by the state to be submitted annually, but they also receive the same numbers on a quarterly basis.

The report specifically keeps track from year to year of how much capacity — or airpsace — remains in the Grady Road Landfill, still at 26 years with an at-capacity and moving to the closing phases in February 2043.

That estimate has increased from 2016's reported closure date if February 2042.

Remaining airspace at the landfill is measured by how much trash has already been covered and compacted down and the unused and unopened cells on the county's property.

Gibbons said that capacity is measured in cubic feet, and that the reason for no change in the number of years left has to do with how much the trash has settled over time, since operations first began in the 1990s.

The late report was the newest item the commission questioned in the past weeks involving the Grady Road Landfill. Gibbons was previously before the board at the beginning of November answering questions over why the commission and administering hadn't been informed about an October ad in the Standard Journal reporting increased Molybdenum levels from the Landfill's leachate that is processed at the Cedartown Wastewater Treament facility. County Attorney Brad McFall read a statement on behalf of commissioners during their retreat last week on Nov. 28, citing more information to come.

"The board met last night (Nov. 27) for 4 hours, and we conducted a fairly exhaustive review of items and issues concerning the board and the public, and we'll narrow those down to a streamlined punch list and meet with representatives of the company that runs the landfill," McFall said.


School administrator charged, suspended

A Cedartown-area school administrator turned himself at the Polk County Jail on Wednesday morning and was later released on several charges following an incident on Nov. 16 involving a student.

According to a Polk County Police report released this morning:

Youngs Grove Elementary School Vice Principal Matthew Michael Johnson, 31, was briefly held in custody on charges of felony cruelty to children in the second degree and misdemeanor charges of reckless conduct, battery and simple battery.

Polk County Police Chief Kenny Dodd additionally explained some details left out of the report.

According to information he provided, the third grader was already in trouble for pushing another child and he was taken to the principal's office.

After refusing to follow the principal's instructions and laying down on the floor, Johnson is reported to have drug him by the feet across the floor causing the burns to his back.

"These burns were caused by the carpet that the student was alleged to have been dragged across by the assistant principal," the report stated.

The Department of Family and Children's Services got involved in the case, who then referred it to the police department.

The report stated that Johnson was then placed on administrative leave once police informed the school district that an investigation was about to begin. Warrants were drawn on Tuesday after the report stated a thorough investigation was completed.

Johnson turned himself in on the charges and was released on $8,000 in bail.

Superintendent Laurie Atkins said only that they were aware of the issue and that Johnson was suspended with pay, but couldn't comment further since it was a personnel issue.


Christmas comes again to Rockmart

Hospital authority honors Dr. Jewell
• The long serving board member becomes the first to take an emeritus position.

A longtime member of the Cedartown-Polk County Hospital Authority board will soon take on the first emeritus position at the start of the coming year.

The Hospital Authority bosrd honored Dr. Richard Jewell during their latest session and it was announced that he'll be retiring from his voting position to take on an advisory role.

Jewell, who has served on the board for more than four decades, is an optometrist who has served the community for more than 50 years and seen the medical community in Polk County change drastically during his time on the hospital authority.

That includes two different organizations managing the hospital and a brand new facility completed in 2014, moving from downtown Cedartown to Highway 278.

Board members voted unanimously for a proclamation be entered into the meeting record for future generations on the board to remember his contributions to Polk County's hospital.

Included in that was his role in the hospital's contract with Floyd Healthcare Management, Inc. and the building of a new hospital. He was also part of the vote to approve the turnover of Cedartown's old hospital building over to the city.

The city of Cedartown subsequently turned the hospital facility into One Door Polk. Those were just some of his recent accomplishments through decades of practice in vision and eyecare and on the board itself. Board chair Harold Wyatt made through announcement of Dr. Jewell's pending move from voting member to one of the new board emeritus positions established in past months during their Nov. 28 meeting.

Jewell said he was appreciative of the recognition for his service.

Cardiac care recognition for Polk Medical Center

Polk Medical Center was given a distinction in November that is good news for those locally who feel a twinge in their chest and find themselves in need of a trip to the emergency room.

The hospital was awarded a recognition as a certified chest pain care center by the American College of Cardiology, joining one of hundreds of healthcare facilities around the country with the distinction of taking heart health seriously.

Chief Nursing Officer Tifani Kinard explained to the board the recognition comes from both data provided by the hospital about previous heart-related visits by patients and through a look over on-site best practices by representatives for the American College of Cardiology, who then decide by committee if the hospital should receive the distinction.

Hospital numbers

The figures for the month of October showing that after their first quarter of business, numbers of patients are fluctuating based on the seasons still and that profits are still up despite lagging income. Floyd Medical Center's Clarice Cable presented the latest profit and loss statements during the board meeting, and had mixed news to report.

Gross revenue between inpatient and outpatient services through Oct. 31 totaled more than $36.5 million, some $2.8 million off their budget for the year. With deductions of more than $26 million off the top, the actual revenue stands at more than $10 million. Expenses for operations were just under $8.2 million, giving the hospital around $2 million in profit heading into the second quarter of their fiscal year. Despite the budgeted income being off from hospital operations, non-operating revenue added more than $200,000 to the hospital's coffers, and the budgeted profit for the year to date remains off only by $34,000. October's patient numbers also saw some increases month to month and over the past year.

Among those to see some month and yearly increases was in emergency room visits, with 2,376 visits reported in October compared to 2,266 in September. Visits were also up over the year by 20, with the 2016 monthly figure previously reported at 2,356. Surgical cases are on the rise again as Dr. Stephen Lapointe is back to providing podiatry care in the Polk Medical Center operating suites, Hospital Administrator Matt Gorman reported. There were 13 during the month of October compared to just 3 in September.


AREA CALENDAR OF EVENTS

Aragon's annual Christmas Parade has been called off due to several scheduling issues. The city promises to look at a date for 2018 and the parade's return.

The Polk County Chamber of Commerce is holding their next "Rise and Shine" Breakfast on Dec. 6 with Dr. Michael Paxten with his presentation on "Avoiding Hand Injuries in the Workplace." Join the chamber at 7:30 a.m. at the Georgia Department of Labor's Cedartown Career Center at 262 N. Park Blvd., Cedartown. The breakfast is $6 for members, $10 for future members.

Victory Baptist Church is holding their Stockings of Love event this coming Saturday, Dec. 9, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the church at 15 Hedrix Road. Visit vbcrockmart.com or call 678-685-4570 for more information.

A new initiative called For Polk (www.forpolk.com) is holding an upcoming event at Victory Baptist Church, located at 15 Hendrix Road, Rockmart, for their Jingle Jam concert starting at 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at $20. Visit Forpolk.com for more information, or call 770-384-7655.

The Cedartown Christmas Parade is coming up this Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017 at 6 p.m. along Main Street. Come join in the fun and see Santa Claus and more. Visit cedartowngeorgia.gov for more about entering a float and to learn more about this year's theme, "Christmas on the Silver Screen."

Spring Creek Baptist Church, located at 2636 Chulio Road, will be having a Drive Through Nativity Experience, "Silent Night" this weekend on Dec. 9 and 10 from 6 to 8 p.m.

The next spaghetti dinner at American Legion Post 12 will be Wednesday, Dec. 13. Meal served from 5 to 7 p.m. Spaghetti, meatballs, garlic toast and salad, $5, all-you-can-eat. Trivia with Tom and Betty starts at 6 p.m. Come and enjoy a break from shopping and let us cook for you.

Calvary Assembly of God, 300 Canal St., Cedartown, will be having a kids Christmas musical during their 11 a.m. worship service on Sunday, Dec. 17. At 6 p.m. that evening, the choir will perform a candlelight Christmas cantata followed by Holy Communion. The public is invited to attend these events.

Rockmart First United Methodist Church is holding several Christmas events in the upcoming weeks. They'll have their Chancel Choir Cantata during Sunday services on Dec. 17, followed by a 2 to 4 p.m. Open House at the Parsonage. Their Christmas Eve service is being held on Sunday, Dec. 24 at 6:30 p.m. For more information visit rockmartumc.org or call 770684-6251.

First Baptist Church of Cedartown invites the community to come and participate in their Sunday, Dec. 10 in their Children's Christmas Musical, "The Colors of Christmas," by the Music Makers and Young Musicians at 6 p.m. in the Sanctuary. The church is located at 101 College St. Cedartown.

The National League of Junior Cotillions, Polk County Chapter is holding their Holly Ball on Dec. 16 at the Cherokee Golf and Country Club. For information regarding the program, call 706-936-8055.

Victory Baptist Church is holding their adult drama "JESUS" and "The Greatest Gift" Chidren's Drama on Sunday, Dec. 17. The adult drama is at 11 a.m., and the children's drama at 6:30 p.m. at the church located at 15 Hendrix Road. Visit vbcrockmart.com or call 678-685-4570 for more information.

Join Cedartown First United Methodist for their "The First Christmas" service at 11 a.m. 201 Wissahickon Ave., Cedartown. Call 770-748-4731 for more information.

First Baptist Church of Cedartown invites the community to take part in their annual Dec. 17 for their Candlelight Service at 6 p.m.. in the Sanctuary, with Sanctuary Choir and Ensemble. The church is located at 101 College St., Cedartown.

The Cedartown First United Methodist Church is hosting "A Blue Christmas" on Thursday, Dec. 21 at 7 p.m. It is designed as an alternative Christmas event for those who struggle with the loss of a loved one during the holidays, or from depression or other issues in their life circumstances. The event will be held at the church at 201 Wissahickon Ave., Cedartown. Contact 770-748-4731 for more information or visit Cedartownfumc.org.

A food pantry is open to those in need at God's Storehouse at 508 McKibben Road past New Beginnings Church on Tuesdays and Fridays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For emergency assistance call 404-8592096 or 770-318-6991, or get in touch with the food bank at 470-774-7265.

Bellview Baptist Church will hold their Choir Christmas Cantata on Dec. 17 at 11 a.m. during their regular service in the sanctuary to help celebrate the Christmas holiday. Call 770-684-3941 for more information or join in worship on Sunday mornings at 2333 N. Bellview Road, Rockmart. Wisit bellviewchurch.org to learn about more upcoming events.

The Cedartown First United Methodist Church invite the public to join them for their Christmas Eve Candlelight and Service of Carols on Sunday, Dec. 24 at 6 p.m., at the church located at 201 Wissahickon Ave., Cedartown. They'll also be holding a midnight candlelight service and holy communion starting at 11 p.m., to culminate at midnight on Christmas morning. Contact 770-748-4731 for more information or visit Cedartownfumc.org.

Belllview Baptist Church is holding their Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at 6 p.m. at the church, located at 2333 N. Bellview Road, Rockmart. Call 770-684-3941 for more information, or visit bellviewchurch.org.

Come celebrate Christmas with the First Baptist Church of Cedartown on Monday, Dec. 25 and rejoice during their Christmas Day Service, starting at 10:30a.m. in the Sanctuary. "Tell Me the Story of Jesus" is the theme of this year's event. The church is located at 101 College St., Cedartown.

Order T-shirts now through the Polk County Police Department to help raise funds for the trust of Isaac Hearne. Contact 770-748-7331 to find out more details.

Also selling T-shirts is Sherry Anderson, with the next order being finalized today. Call the City of Aragon 770-684-6563, or through Anderson directly at 678-901-2065 for more information.

Have a fundraising event for the Hearne family? Email kmyrick@npco.com or call 770-748-1520 to share how people can donate to your efforts.

In charge of community relations at your local church? The Polk County Chamber of Commerce would like very much to talk to you. They are presently in the process of organizing an updated directory of area houses of worship in the community and are hoping for the help of those organizers who want to get their information to as many people as possible. E-mail Mandy Mallicoat at mmallicoat@polkgeorgia.com or call 770-684-8760 for more information about being included in their updated church directory.

The next West Georgia Spay/Neuter Clinic is coming to the Cedartown-Polk County Humane Society on Wednesday, Dec. 20. Head over to the organization's office at 608 Adamson Road, Cedartown, on Fridays from 4 to 7 p.m. or Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. to fill out an admission and prepay for the surgery. Those wanting more information can call 678-361-7304 for more information. Vaccines and tests are available for extra cost as well. The next pickup dates are scheduled for Jan. 10 and Jan. 24, 2018 after the new year.

A fifth Saturday night singing is coming up at 5:30 p.m. Central Standard Time at the Outreach Tabernacle at 1351 Co. Road 31 in Muscadine, Ala. Enjoy Southern gospel and bluegrass from the Paul Family of Buchanan, Nothing but Grace from LaGrange, The Yarbroughs from Bremen. A love offering will be passed around for the singers, and free refreshments are available following the night's entertainment. For directions or information call Pastor Rouselle Sanders at 770-574-2585 or Howard at 678-925-0903.

Crossview Community Church is getting ready for helping those in need with their Christmas Shoes Project. Get involved in providing new shoes for children in the community by contacting Crossview at 770-684-4070.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Cedartown, Georgia, 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, birth-dates/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 678477-2861 and leave a message or visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/FamilyQuest42/

The Sit 'n Stitch crafters group meet each Wednesday except the last Wednesday of the month. Bring a sack lunch, a project of your own, or help out with a mission project and enjoy fellowship with other crafters. No special skills are required. For details contact Madeline Brown at 678435-5032.

Check out the Rockmart Farmers Market at the Silver Comet Trailhead behind Southcrest Bank on Thursdays from 2 to 6 p.m. from now through Thanksgiving. Visit Rockmartfarmersmarket.com for details about vendors and upcoming classes.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are providing 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.

The Ferst Foundation 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 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 includes cases related to housing, employment, education, domestic violence, consumer fraud, wills, and more. Call 404206-5175 for more information.

The Polk County Alzheimer's Caregiver Support group will meet monthly on the first Monday from 10 a.m. to 11:30 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.

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 678757-4572 for more information.

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 polkcountybeekeepers@gmail.com or visit tinyurl.com/polkbees.

Cedartown Supper Club every second and fourth Tuesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. Held at 71 Woodall Road. Seventh-day Adventist Church. Enjoy a vegetarian supper and participate in a lecture on healthy, happy living. Free and for all ages. Each evening provides a different menu and lecture topic. For more information about the supper club call 678-901-9184.

Victory Baptist Church's Bread of Life Food Pantry is now open. One bag of non-perishable 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.