Aragon is about to look different thanks to the city council members approving spending on a new parking lot at Tom Pittman Field and an upgraded community center where work had already begun to make improvements.
The Aragon barbecue taking place at Pittman Field again this year served as good motivation for building the now in construction parking lot behind the field.
Workers finished clearing trees and took the stumps with them, and now the city council plans to have a round of slate added to make the parking lot accessible.
Aragon Mayor Garry Baldwin described the work as "phase one" of the parking lot.
In regards to short term goals, the council simply wants to have the area accessible in time for the 43rd Aragon BBQ coming up on Friday, June 23 and Saturday, June 24 slated to end with a fire works show.
Now the council has set aside $7,050 for slating and basic maintenance to help with providing a parking area.
It won't be until later that Aragon citizens can expect the new parking lot to have lines and other parking lot necessities.
Baldwin has applied for a $40,000 from the Polk County Commission to finish the work on the parking lot, which was put up for vote and tabled during the board of commissioner's special called session earlier in the week on May 15.
Though tabled, the parking lot will get the finishing touches and a real layer of asphalt applied by the county alongside paving improvements that were sought out by requests from the cities of Cedartown and Rockmart.
Though initially denied, that work is being added to the county's paving schedule following commissioners approving a 4-1 veto override of Commission Chair Marshelle Thaxton's previous decision to deny it despite a 4-1 vote approving.
In intergovernmental agreements between the cities and the county over paving, the county agrees to provide men and equipment for work if the cities will pay for the materials to provide Public Works-based paving.
Materials providing resurfacing of parking lots for Cedartown's Bert Wood Youth and Athletics Complex and Rockmart's Nathan Dean Sports Complex will come out of the county's 2014 Special Purpose, Local Option Sales Tax infrastructure funds to the tune of $80,000.
If Aragon's request is approved, it would bring the total to $120,000. Should the funding request be denied, the parking lot will be constructed at a slower pace with new additions to the lot added whenever possible.
County funds for materials or not, the lot will be a convenient place for citizens to park as soon as slate is added, and those planning on attending the annual Aragon BBQ now have additional parking options and won't have to circle to find open spots.
Aragon's Community Center is also being shown love thanks to the Council approved purchases on a large list of necessities including the kitchen sink.
The city is using a total of $6,000 for a collection of sinks, faucets, counter tops, wall end and finishers, cabinets, and trims among others to spruce up the community center and Tom Pittman field.
An additional $1,629 is being used for a contrasting set of black and white stoves, fridges, and microwaves.
The white appliances are for use in the concession stand, the black appliances will be used in the community center.
Council members also previously approved funding for remodeling of the bathroom and kitchen floors at concession stand to make them easier to clean, along with new community gym flooring as well.
This large increase in recreation will be paid for via SPLOST funds and purchases are to be made at the local Home Depot.
A special called meeting covering a pair of votes and an executive session ended with quick movement on a request for an outside investigation of the Polk County Police Department.
County Attorney Brad McFall announced the response to a letter sent to the Board of Commissioners earlier in the month by Sheriff Johnny Moats with allegations of wrongdoing by Polk County Police Department's administration.
Instead of calling in the GBI to investigate as Moats had requested and could have done himself, McFall will be leading an internal effort on behalf of the county to address the allegations.
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He announced what he called a departmental audit at the end of a special called Polk County Commission meeting on Monday night which included a nearly hour long executive session held by the board.
McFall said all members of the Polk County Police Department are being interviewed in the coming audit, which he promised would provide quick results.
"I will begin that immediately, and I hope to have something back to the board by the next meeting," he said.
Commission chair Marshelle Thaxton later explained the situation by stating that there weren't any specific criminal allegations made by the anonymous officers to bring in the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and thus their participation wasn't yet warranted.
"We discussed several different options that we had, and we don't really feel like the GBI will come in because we don't know of any crimes committed," Thaxton said. "We're auditing all the other charges in there, and we decided Brad can get it done, and he'll follow through with it."
He also stated he had never had a county police officer address any allegations with him personally.
"I don't believe I've ever had a county police officer come to talk to me about something like that, and no one comes to Matt Denton either," he said.
Commissioner Jennifer Hulsey posted her comments on the meeting on Facebook, stating that she was concerned about officers in the department not being heard by the county government, and she would have preferred to have an outside agency like the GBI look into the allegations further.
"What I do want them (officers) to know is that if they are afraid or concerned or feel anything is being done to break the law they can come to me," her statement said. "And, it is my hope they fully express their concerns in the audit that is being done with the police department."
She also added that "everyone is innocent until proven guilty and our County Police Chief has the right to defend himself and his staff. And those that disagree with any wrong doing have the right to express their concerns."
"I don't know how this will all play out, but what I do know is I want the truth, and so do the people," she said. "I am not on a side I am for the truth. Sometimes finding the truth no matter what the outcome is not easy, but as an elected official that is my job."
Commissioner Scotty Tillery also commented on Facebook, pointing out that among the 10 counties that have separate police departments from sheriff's offices in the state, Polk County is the smallest for the size of population and total square miles combined.
He said he got the information from the state of Georgia's website.
Tillery also expressed that he wanted to ensure people understood that his biggest concern is for the safety of citizens and officers, which cannot be fully addressed unless the concerns are studied thoroughly.
Board members are scheduled to meet for their next regular session on June 6.
Commissioners are set to hold a May 24 budget work session and also have a June 5 work session.
Polk County Police Chief Kenny Dodd asked for more time before he would make an official statement on the record regarding the new departmental audit. He never responded by the end of the week.
Moats had no comment about the audit, which was prompted by his letter seeking outside investigators to look numerous allegations made by 18 officers to Moats. Those officers wished to remain anonymous, he said, due to fears of retaliation for coming forward with their concerns and complaints.
His letter also stated that if action wasn't taken swiftly to address the allegations, the group of officers threatened to walk off the job.
Excellence refuses to take a day off in Polk County as five local students will be experiencing graduation twice in one year.
With the high school's graduation just a few days away, Judy Standeford, Shayna Ingram, Lillian Bell, Macie Campbell, and Sydney Greenway have already graduated from college Georgia Highlands with an Associate of Science-General Studies Degree.
Graduating college and high school weeks apart is no easy feat, and was made possible only via the student's strong dedication with the state's Move on When Ready program.
Under MOWR, students can earn college credits while taking high school courses at no financial cost so long as they pass the admission test.
With tuition and textbooks covered for free, the seniors paid for their educations with hard work and tenacity.
Taking a minimum of 20 college courses, the grads sometimes had to study harder and play less, but the Associate's Degrees earned by the group serves as a reminder that extended studying "is worth it in the long run," and as said by Lillian Bell.
"There's nothing wrong with missing one night of fun every now and then," she said.
And these two degrees are just the beginning for the grads who hope to see a third graduation at another University of their choice.
Rockmart's Co-Salutatorian Macie Campbell will take advantage of Kennesaw University's Oncology/Biology classes and later attend either Emery or Mercer University for medical classes.
Rockmart High's Lillian Bell plans to further her education by studying Biology and Pre-Med at Kennesaw State University in order to become an emergency room Physician.
Judy Standeford, a top five RHS student, hopes to begin a career in a research lab by studying Chemistry at Jacksonville State University.
Sydney Greenway-Cedartown's sole dual-grad has plans to attend Shorter University for a Grad Shayna Ingram is deciding between further education at Georgia Highlands or University of West Georgia for either a career as an elementary teacher or an oral hygienist.
With all of their core college classes completed the seniors have forged a cheaper, less time consuming path to future degrees.
Bell can work towards her goal of being a physician without having to pay for and take miscellaneous electives, and Greenway won't have to stress over her next big math test while she takes Education courses.
Said otherwise by Judy Standeford, "the dreaded part is over."
Being college grads hasn't made graduating high school any less exciting for the seniors who plan to walk the field on May 26th.
After 12 years in Polk School District, these five students are graduating high school with honors and will have an Associate's Degree waiting beside their diploma.
Polk County Commissioner Jason Ward is soon to be relocating out of the state and is off to the sunny east coast of Florida after finally being able to announce a new job after months of contemplation and work.
Ward announced on Facebook overnight on May 18 that he and his family will be "relocating to Jacksonville, Florida over the next couple of months. I am sure we will have more details to share later but right now we want to thank all our family, friends, and neighbors that have made the last 11 years since we moved back to Polk County amazing."
He said in an interview later in the day that he'll be starting in a new position with Florida Valuation on June 1.
For the time being he'll be commuting back and forth to work on county commission business.
"It's a great firm, they do litigation work, DOT work and work for institutional clients," he said. "That's where I will be focusing my efforts in the future."
Ward said he'll continue on serving the county that he and his family will always consider home until they complete their move.
He said he is still working out the details on how he'll be continuing on as county commissioner while on the road in Florida, and also the process for him to step down from the board in a timely fashion.
He said that in speaking to County Manager Matt Denton about his stepping down from the board, the pair agreed he can remain on the job for the time being.
"He will be considered a county resident until he officially relocates to his new job," Denton said in confirming the news this afternoon.
As he takes on a new job, Ward's Appraisal Associates where he has been the managing partner and majority stakeholder since 2013, will be passing into the hands of junior partner Patrick Dillon.
Ward said that Dillon bought him out, but that nothing will be changing at the company otherwise. They employ 2 commercial and 2 residential appraisers.
"They will continue on business as usual and I believe they're going to be setup for success," he said.
The move has been in the works for six months, Ward said. He reiterated how much he's also enjoyed serving the people of Polk County.
"It's been a slow process, and we've taken our time to think it through," he said.
First elected to office in 2010, Ward is in the middle of his second term in office as a Commissioner. He would have faced election again in 2018.
With more than a year left on his term, Commissioners will get to decide who joins them on the board for what is left of Ward's time in office once he resigns.
If they can't agree on who should take the seat, then the process would end up in the hands of the grand jury according to Elections Director Karen Garmon.
Ward's announcement also added an invite to friends and family to come and visit when they get settled in Jacksonville.
"We won't be strangers and hope to get back often to visit," the overnight Facebook posting read.
"In the meantime, if you need a place to stay when you head to the beach just let us know."
Ward's announcement is just the latest story coming from the County Commission this week, which included overturning a veto on paving requests for recreation parking lots in the cities of Cedartown and Rockmart, and the announcement of a departmental audit of the Polk County Police Department following a letter containing anonymous allegations was sent to commissioners by Sheriff Johnny Moats.
After the news came out, fellow commissioners had their own thoughts to share about Ward's future departure. All five of the group had well wishes to share, including Commission Chair Marshelle Thaxton.
"I hate to see him go, I really do. He's been a good board member," he said. "We haven't always agree and never do, and you aren't supposed to."
Commissioner Chuck Thaxton also added his well wishes, even though he hadn't the time to develop as close a relationship with his colleague.
"I appreciate his willingness to serve and I enjoyed being with him the short time I have been, and I wish him all the best in his new endeavor," said Thaxton in response to the news.
Commissioner Scotty Tillery also had his own words of praise for Ward.
"Jason and his wife Hannah have been pillars of the community for a number of years, and they will be sorely missed," Tillery said. "But I wish him all the best in his new job, and hope he has a lot of success."
Commissioner Stefanie Drake Burford also added that she was sad to see him departing for Florida but that "I understand he must do what is best for his family and I fully support his decision."
Also adding her well wishes was Commissioner Jennifer Hulsey.
Once Ward leaves, Commissioners will then have to decide who will take his place as the second representative of the District 1 area of Polk County.
Marshelle Thaxton explained that commissioners will have to vote 4-1 on a replacement for him in a new procedure put in place after Commissioner Scotty Tillery was appointed to the board to fill the remainder of the term of Billy Croker.
He said that an application process should begin soon, and those interested would have to submit paperwork to the county in the coming weeks and months.
Thaxton added that if Commissioners can't come to a decision together on who should replace Ward, it would then be put into the hands of the Grand Jury to decide his replacement for the balance of his term.
Athletic Director Barry Williams and Principal Wesley Cupp unveil the Wall of Principals on May 18 during a ceremony at the school. See Page A7 for more on the wall dedicated to the memory of Bill Keller and honors the leaders of the school over the decades.
The search will be on for a new principal at Rockmart High School as the news came out late last week as the year came to an end in the classrooms that Wesley Cupp will soon be filling the role of principal at Eastside Elementary School.
Phil Wood has resigned from the Polk School District as principal of the Prospect Road School, according to interim Superintendent Greg Teems.
He said he didn't have information about where Wood's next posting would be.
The decision was announced during faculty meetings at both Rockmart High School and Eastside Elementary.
Teems said a search will begin for a replacement principal at Rockmart High School and no decision has yet been made on a hire.
"We've not yet decided on whether we'll pursue promoting staff internally or whether we'll seek someone from the outside," Teems said.
Cupp said though he was sad to be leaving Rockmart High School, he looked forward to the opportunity to continue working with students.
"The way I understood it was that he and the board wanted to move things in a different direction, and they felt I would be a better fit at Eastside," he said. " Most people know in any kind of leadership, you have to give someone three years to get a program going. I'm disappointed I didn't get to see my program through, but I'm looking forward to the new challenge, and the opportunity to do show what I can do."
Teems said the board made the decision to move Cupp to Eastside's open principal spot because it was felt that he was a better fit in the position than at Rockmart High School. It will not have to vote on Cupp's transfer to the new position, according to Teems.
Cupp was transferred previously from Northside Elementary School where he had been principal following Spring Break in April 2015 after DeAnna Williams resigned from the principal's post.
He grew up in Cedartown and graduated from Cedartown High with the Class of 1994. Following four years at Berry College in Rome, he moved to Agawam, Mass., and worked for a year as a health teacher in an elementary school. Following that, Cupp spent two years in Bentonville, Ark., as a physical education teacher for kindergarten through fifth graders.
He's spent most of his career working for Cartersville City Schools, where he taught both the high school and primary school level, served as a baseball, basketball and softball coach and was named Teacher of the Year for Cartersville Primary in 2007.
Wood did not return an attempt to contact him after news broke about the move on May 18.
Fourth Friday is coming up for the summer in Cedartown! Check out the first concert featuring Bennie Gray and the Trailer Park Cowboys on Friday to open up the series. Billed as more country than western and more roll than rock, Bennie Gray and the Trailer Park Cowboys are a local favorite. Check out the Fourth Friday car show, get food and drinks, and more as the car show begins at 5:30 p.m., and music at 7 p.m. Go to www.fourthfridaycedartown.com for a full lineup for the summer and more.
The annual celebration of Memorial Day is coming up in Rockmart on Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Rockmart Memorial Park. Aragon City Council member Hunter Spinks will be the keynote speaker for this year's program. Brown-Wright Post 12 of the American Legion is holding the event.
A Memorial Day Service will be held at noon at Center Baptist Church in Felton on Memorial Day on Monday. Turn off of Highway 27 South onto Felton-Rockmart Road to find the church. For information, contact Mark Hanson at 404-859-2096.
Need to get an item onto the Area Calendar of Events? Email firstname.lastname@example.org today! All items must be in at least two weeks before the event to appear in the Standard Journal on time.
The 2017 Kids Fishing Rodeo for youth 15 and younger is coming up next month on June 10 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Kenview Farms in Rockmart. Hourly drawings will be held for door prizes, plus free refreshments and t-shirts for the first 500 kids. 1 rod per child, no minnows allowed. There's an 8 fish limit per child. Find and like the event on Facebook listed as Polk County Kid's Fishing Rodeo.
Registration is now open for the 4th Annual Miles of Hope Bike Ride. This event is a fun way for riders and walkers to give back to Murphy-Harpst Children's Center. There will be a fun walk or ride along the Polk County portion of the Silver Comet Trail or a 10, 20, 30, or NEW 55 mile challenging Silver Comet Trail option for long distance cyclists to the Brushy Mountain Tunnel in Paulding County. A celebratory post-ride lunch will be at Congregational Holiness Church. Registration fee is a donation of your choice with 100 percent of the proceeds used to provide the therapy that the children at MHCC need to heal and thrive. Your donation of $20+ includes a T-shirt and the knowledge that you are helping some great kids. Contact Julie Smith at Cycle Therapy at email@example.com for more information and to register.
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 more information.
Emmanuel Baptist Church, Cartersville Highway, will be having Homecoming onSunday, beginning at 10:30 a.m. Lunch will be served. The guest singers will be Fireproof. Bro. Tracy Collum, the Pastor, Invites everyone to attend.
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 of provide free civillegal servicesto persons with low incomes. This includes cases related to housing, employment, education, domestic violence, consumer fraud, wills, and more. It will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The next date will be on June 26.
The next West Georgia Spay/Neuter Clinic is coming to the Cedartown-Polk County Humane Society on June 7 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 clinic date is June 28 following the beginning of the month.
A youth wrestling camp is being hosted by Cedartown High School wrestling program starting June 19 through June 21, from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. each day. Cost is $30 per child. Ages 4 to 12 only. For more information call Jerry Hartline at 470-539-7842.
The next spaghetti dinner at American Legion Post 12 will be on June 21 from 5 to 7 p.m. Meal is spaghetti, meatballs, garlic toast and salad for $5, all you can eat. This is open to the public. Trivia with Tom and Betty starts at 6 p.m. Participate for a chance to win free a dinner. Bring friends and enjoy the fun.
A grand opening for the Boaz Ministry in Rockmart's new food bank is coming up on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Groceries, children's bags, bibles, lunch and festivities will be free to those who want to participate. The new food bank located at 708 W. Elm St., Rockmart, will be open in June on Thursdays from 5 to 7 p.m. No fee is required or donations accepted to obtain food assistance. All that will be required is a photo ID.
A Flag Retirement Ceremony will be held at Post 12 on Flag Day, Wednesday June 14 at 9 a.m. This year the ceremony will be conducted by Boy Scout Troop 23. The public is invited. If you have old or worn Flags, please bring them to ceremony, or to the Post to be properly retired.
The first meeting of Polk County's newest Alzheimer's support group will take place on June 5, 2017 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Polk Medical Center. Meetings will continue on the first Monday of each month following starting at 10 a.m. Those interested can join for fellowship and lunch following in the hospital cafeteria. For more information call John Giglio at 678-246-8188.
The Church of God of the Union Assembly, 32 Prospect Road, Rockmart, is encouraging members of the community to join them for praise and worship each Sunday and Wednesday. 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 Polk County Beekeepers meets the first Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Cedartown Library 245 East Ave. Whether you are an experienced beekeeper, new beekeeper or want to learn all are welcome. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit tinyurl.com/polkbees.
Signups are underway now for the Cedartown Performing Arts Center Lion King Summer Camp, taking place on July 17-21, July 24-28. Cost is $150 for the full 10 days of camp. Contact the CPAC at cedartownshows.com or call 770-748-4168.
The Polk County Extension Service's annual twice-weekly vegetable market will begin this year on June 27. They will have fresh veggies and fruits on hand from vendors on Tuesdays and Fridays from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. Call the extension office at 770-749-2142 for more information or to learn how to participate.
Cedartown Supper Club every second and fourth Tuesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. Held at 71 Woodall Rd. 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 call 678-901-9184.
Victory Baptist Church's Bread of Life Food Pantry is now open to help those in need. Pre-assembled bags of groceries will be handed out to those in need free of charge (ID required). There's a limit of 1 bag per person per week. Regular hours of operation for the pantry will be Mondays, 1 to 3 p.m., Tuesdays, 5 to 7 p.m. and Thursdays, 8 to 10 a.m.
Aragon Children's Day is coming up on June 3 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Aragon Mill Pond. Fishing, games, goat hunt, prizes, food and more will be part of the day. Everyone is welcome, but activities are planned for youth 16 and under. Sponsored by the City of Aragon, area merchants and Davitte Lodge No. 513.
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 Co. Department of Family and Children Services office, located at 100 County Loop Rd. in Cedartown. Information Sessions are held to explain what is required to become a foster or adoptive parent in the state of Georgia. For more information please call Robin Forston at 404-895-6517 or e-mail email@example.com or call 1-877-210-KIDS. Visit www.fostergeorgia.com for more information.
On Saturday, the 5th annual May Celebration honoring all veterans and military will be taking place at 7290 County Road 16 in Centre. The Patriotic program and entertainment includes a barbecue lunch, car and tractor show and more. There's also a drawing for a 12-gauge shotgun and $500 in cash. Vets and active duty military personnel eat free. Sponsored by McCord's Crossroads Homemakers and American Auctioneers. Call 706-767-1612 for more information.
Join the Polk County Chamber of Commerce as the board wraps up its new members contest on June 1 for a new member cookout in which the organization will announce the winners of the New Member challenge. Check out polkgeorgia.com for more information.
Rivers of Living Water is hosting its 8th Annual "Your Best" talent show. The talent show will have two categories: younger children (ages 5-11) and older kids (ages 12-17). The winner will receive a trophy. Auditions for the talent show will be held one final Saturday on June 3, 2017. The auditions will be at Rivers of Living Water from 1 to 2 p.m. The "Your Best" talent show will be Saturday June 24, 2017 at Rivers of Living Water at 5 p.m. There will be a $100 drawing at the talent show. Admission for the talent show is $10. For more information please contact Courtney Ripoll at 770-689-7838.
Join Paul Craighead at the Rockmart Cultural Arts Center gallery for weekly pottery classes. They are held Tuesday and Wednesdays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. for $15 each, and $12 for a Thursday class from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Materials are included in the cost of the classes. Call Paul Craighead at 770-843-5302 with questions. Registration open at the beginning of classes.
Celebrate Recovery continues to meet in the First Baptist Church of Rockmart, 311 E. Elm St., Monday nights with dinner at 6 p.m. A large group gathers at 7 p.m. and small share group at 8 p.m.
Victory Baptist Church will be hosting their annual Stockings of Love Christmas in July event on Saturday, July 22, 2017. Visit their website at www.vbcrockmart.com for more information.
The Alzheimer's Association Caregiver Support Group in Polk meets the first Monday of each month at First Baptist Church of Rockmart, 311 E. Elm St. The facilitator is April Williams. For more information call 770-546-5188.
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 3rd Thursday of every month at 6:00pm at the Rome Office, located at 336 Broad St, Suite 200. Individual sessions may be scheduled to accommodate families, as needed. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 706-506-0649.
The Sit N' Stitch craft group meets each Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall at Rockmart First United Methodist Church, 135 West Church St., Rockmart, Ga., 30153. All crafters are welcome to come and work on your own projects or help out with various local mission projects, as they become needed. Bring a sack lunch or just come when you want and leave as you need to. Contact Madeline Brown at 678-435-5032 for more information.