A new member of the Polk County Commission will be taking their seat when it comes time to hold the October work session, and his name is Jose Iglesias.
Iglesias was selected via a unanimous 4-0 vote to take over the District 1 seat in Polk County during the Sept. 12 Board of Commissioner meeting following a month-long application process, a Question and Answer session, and finally came together to select one of among 8 candidates who originally put their names up for consideration.
Iglesias, owner of Taxes de America tax preparation service in Cedartown, also sits on the Cedartown Planning Commission and is a member of the Lead Polk Class of 2017, couldn't quite believe he'd been picked among the other candidates up for the job.
He said that he intended to work toward being a Commissioner who brings others together on a board he said is already a "great team."
"I want to be the unifier," Iglesias said. "I want to be able to look to the future and not to the past.
"We need to overlook our differences and try to highlight the best that each has to offer."
Though he said he'll consider any issue that comes before the county an important one, he did say he felt that one in particular he said would be among his first to focus on was contracts, specifically the one involving the Polk County Landfill with Waste Industries.
"I know that the issue with the landfill comes up regularly. In the debate, I said that we need to be smarter when we're entering into contracts. Make sure that we are protected with the wording and the language in there, and if the county has an attorney, we need to make sure that the contracts are well written, just in case someone defaults... or like in this case we have an issue that needs to be corrected. Contracts would be one of them. But I know there are a lot of issues that need equal attention."
Iglesias' appointment to the board makes him the first Hispanic to serve as a Polk County Commissioner. He said he hoped his appointment would bring with it the opportunity to represent both the growing diversity among the population in Polk County.
"I want to be able to represent the international community we have here in Polk County, that we need to be able to embrace," he said. "Once we embrace this community, we're going to have investors who are going to be coming here to invest in this community and create an economic opportunity for this county."
He added that by representing everyone in District 1, he is also well aware of all those people who have come before to make the county what it is today.
"Making sure that we hold onto the past, making sure we don't forget about what has already been done and the people that are already here, that we have to treasure," he said. "But we need to look to the future and what great things are coming for this county."
Commission chair Marshelle Thaxton said he was thankful he and his fellow members of the board came to a unanimous decision on a candidate and that it didn't to go to the next step, a decision by the Grand Jury currently empanelled.
"Absolutely," Thaxton said. "There's no telling who we would have ended up with if we went into the Grand Jury process. And that's nothing against the Grand Jury. Its just that I'm glad that we were able to come together choose a person who will be a fine addition to us, and he'll work very hard. He'll get himself informed. I think that he'll be an asset to this board."
Among those who applied for the position with Iglesias was Bobby Brooks, Dewain Campbell, Cleve Hartley, David McElwee, Gary Martin, Harland Moody and Carson Tanner.
McElwee withdrew his name from consideration just before the start of tonight's commission meeting after he accepted a new job. He said it would require him to travel and spend more time away from Polk County than he wanted.
The name has been buzzing around Polk County for years now, but the entry into official local lexicon has been slow. The question over what to do about "Mount Trash-More" also known as the Grady Road Landfill, keeps coming up at County Commission meetings.
And thus far, the only response from the Polk County Commission members is "we're working on it, and we'll let you know."
Frank Plant, a former school board member, was the latest of the group of local residents who have been outspoken critics of the Board of Commissioner's
He said he wasn't mad and looking to raise any trouble, but that he was upset that local residents weren't getting a clear picture of what is happening at the Grady Road Landfill, which is managed and operated by Waste Industries.
"We put you people in office, and you have the power," Plant said. "And I feel that when you've been given the power — and I was on the school board so I know — that you have a responsibility. And I think one of the biggest responsibilities you people have is to give an accounting of yourselves and your actions to the people who put you here, the people of Polk County. And I perceive they aren't getting answers."
Answers specifically about what the county commission plans to do about the landfill, Plant said. "I may not like what you say that you're going to do about the dump," Plant said. "But I want to know what you're going to do."
Plant continued during his time during the Commission's work session that his perception was that a consultant had been brought in to help the county figure out what to do about the Grady Road Landfill and public perception issues around "Mount Trash-More," but that thus far no one has discussed openly what the county's plan will be.
"We're not hearing anything, and I think some of you care about that," Plant said.
He specifically pointed to Commissioner Chuck Thaxton to ask where he stood on the issue.
Later on in the night when the board was wrapping up their regular session and Plant had left, he did address his position on the landfill.
"I want everyone to know that we are working on some things, and we are getting some help," Thaxton said. "And when it comes to the landfill, it's a contract that is ... almost 20 years old. I'll be happy to talk to anyone who wants to talk to me individually about it. We are looking at some things, and it is under contract, and we have to be very careful about how we handle things."
Thaxton added "I know it looks like we're doing nothing. There will be some people I can't change their opinion of it. But that mess has to be cleaned up quickly, whatever happens."
In past months, the county has made strides after calls from Commissioners Jennifer Hulsey and Scotty Tillery pushing for action to be taken to slow down the rate of trash coming into the facility at the Grady Road Landfill.
Waste Industries also in past months partnered with the county to form a Citizen's Landfill Advisory Committee made up of members of the public to make recommendations about improvements to be made.
Comments over the past month have called on the Commission to additionally fix issues or get Waste Industries to make fixes, including complaints about the smell, trucks arriving well before opening, and potholes on Grady Road that are causing traffic issues.
Hulsey added during this month's meeting that she echoed Commissioner Chuck Thaxton's that the county is working on something.
"I have no intention of ignoring it," she said. "As far as I know, no one on this board is willing to ignore it. But I will say that we got in this mess because we didn't have consultation, and we've got to fix that. We're working on a consultant, and we're going to be giving you information soon. It's coming. And I appreciate the voters being patient with us."
Commission Chairman Marshelle Thaxton echoed those comments as well, and added the county was seeing "what we can and can't do to keep us from totally bankrupting this county."
"As soon as we have something, because I've always been told that if you're going to put something out, put out the right information the first time, so you won't have to change it and go back and forth, and back and forth," Thaxton said. "We all know we have a mess that started in '98 or 2000. But we're going to fix it."
Polk County Animal Control officials can now seek out rescue groups to help with finding homes for nearly three dozens dogs found during raids in past weeks of properties as part of an animal cruelty case.
A hearing over who was going to end up with final custody of the dogs was held on Friday to resolve a condemnation order sought by the county that was fought by the owner of the 35 dogs found on Puckett Road, 32-year-old Devecio Ranard Rowland.
Rowland remains in jail without bail on 107 counts of cruelty to animals, 2 counts of aggravated cruelty to animals, conspiracy to commit a felony and a probation violation offense.
Candace Sorrells, 34, who was charged following Rowland's arrest and 8 additional dogs found at her address in Rockmart, faces 107 counts of being party to a crime and a probation violation offense.
District attorney Jack Browning said that with the decision to approve the condemnation order and allow the dogs to be taken under county control by the Superior Court, rehabilitation for these dogs can move forward.
"Our animal control facility in Polk County wasn't built to handle this many dogs at one time, much less dogs who have been through the ordeal and stress that these have," Browning said. "So I'm thankful that we can now move forward on finding appropriate homes for these dogs and get them the help and love that they need and deserve."
Browning said that additional charges based on the evidence presented during the hearing will be forthcoming against Rowland.
Polk County Police Chief Kenny Dodd reported earlier last week that many of the 115 dogs found in the case are finding rescue groups to take them in, but not all of them yet. With the release to the county of the latest group by court order, the hopes are that they'll start finding rescue organizations to take the 35 found at Puckett Road in close by with the hopes of being able to gather evidence and monitor their recovery.
Cedar Valley Church of Christ wanted to do something to give back to those in need and who face uncertainty after fleeing the path of Hurricane Irma.
And instead of getting out their pocketbooks to give money, they decided bringing something tasty to eat to the Best Western was the way to go instead.
The church is just one of many who have gotten involved in helping evacuees who fled from Hurricane Irma feel at home amid the turmoil of the stormy weather early last week, and on Sept. 12 the church was out giving back.
"We were looking for a way to get personally involved, and writing a check doesn't do that," said church member Rita Tanner. "We found out that people were here in our own county, so we decided we could provide a hot meal for them."
Tanner said that during lunch today, she'd talked to a number of people from all over the area, ranging from Miami Beach to Jacksonville.
"They don't know what they're going back to," Tanner said.
By comparison, Tanner agreed that Polk County lucked out when it came to what could have been a devastating storm locally as well not just for residents, but the evacuees as well.
"We didn't get any of the wind to speak of," she said.
But for those who are staying at the Best Western Inn and the Quality Inn across the street in Cedartown awaiting a chance to go back home after fleeing the storm, it's only a brief sigh of relief.
Shirley and Robert Rewis left their home in Old Town, Florida last week when the evacuation order came from Gov. Rick Scott. The couple are waiting to be able to go home with the Suwanee River still in flood stage, and not expected to crest until after Thursday.
Friends back home have reported to the couple that damage wasn't as bad as expected.
"We have a tree down on our gate, and no electricity," Shirley Rewis said. "We've got a bunch of limbs in the yard, but nothing on the house."
The pair left on Friday night ahead of the weekend arrival over Florida of Hurricane Irma, and they drove "just about all night for us to get here," Robert Rewis said.
He said they were waiting to go home for now until electricity was restored, but said he wasn't going to wait all week before trying to make the drive back.
They said family around the state had been heard from as well. Their son in Jacksonville "has a river flowing through his yard," Shirley Rewis said.
"He has no power, no cell or phone service," she said.
Their daughter evacuated to North Carolina ahead of the storm, and Robert Rewis added that "one of our grandsons is in South Florida at Webber College and he rode the storm out there. The eye came just about over it, and we haven't heard from him."
Another Florida couple at the hotel planning to stay a little longer were Bernadette and Tom Polizzi of St. Augustine, Florida.
They had the good news of not having much damage, but didn't have power for the moment either.
"We arrived at 3:30 in the morning on Saturday," said Bernadette Polizzi. "We drove for 13 hours."
She said they were thankful for the people of Cedartown, and that the hospitality people had shown and their desire to help was "wonderful."
It's not just been homecooked meals that evacuees have enjoyed as well. Local residents have been dropping off supplies since last week when both the Best Western Inn and Suites and the Quality Inn in Cedartown filled up with people fleeing the coastlines.
Everything from stacked up cases of water to toys have been donated and left for those who now head back to Florida unsure of what they will find or need has filled up the lobby.
Brandy Davies, who works at the hotel, said that people have been bringing things all through the weekend.
"We've had churches bringing food, people dropping off everything that folks who are here might need," she said. "It's been incredible to see the support that people are giving."
Cedar Valley Church of Christ weren't the only ones helping. East View Baptist Church had planned to feed families still in local hotels on Wednesday night, but once Hurricane Irma passed through the area many of the residents of local hotels decided to call it quits and head home.
They called off the dinner last week on Sept. 12.
Live Oak Baptist Church will host a Pinto Bean Fundraiser coming up on Sept. 23 from 5 to 7 p.m. to help raise money for Operation Christmas Child. The menu includes pintos, lima beans, navy beans cornbread, fried potatoes, slaw, onion and desserts. Located at 150 Aragon Road, the church will be using all money toward funding the program.
The annual Bicycle Ride Across Georgia will be making a stop once again in Polk County at Skydive Spaceland off Grady Road during their annual U.S. Bicycle Route 21 event. The ride is begins in Chattanooga on Sept. 29 and continues until Oct. 1 where it will end in Atlanta. Riders will be at Skydive Spaceland on Sept. 30 after coming from Summerville, and evening entertainment is scheduled as well. Check out brag.org for more information.
Check out the Throttle Jockeys Fourth Friday Cruise-in monthly — weather permitting — in front of Polk County Courthouse No. 2 parking on Prior Street in Cedartown from 5 to 9 p.m. This month's Fourth Friday will be the final makeup date for the Summer Concert series on Sept. 22, featuring McPherson St.
Golfers get ready to tee off this fall for the first ever CASA of Polk and Haralson County golf tournament. The upcoming fundraiser will be Sept. 22 at the new Cedar Valley Country Club next to Petro's in Cedartown at 1811 Buchanan Highway. Registration begins at 8 a.m. with a continental breakfast available to players, and a tee time at 9 a.m. Prizes and a complimentary lunch are included. There's also a Hole in One for a new car prize being sponsored by Hardy Chevrolet Buick and GMC. Call Brett Hunter at 256-239-7882 for more information. Cost is $100 per player, $400 for a four-person team.
The 'Ride Out Pink' charity motorcycle ride is coming up on Saturday, Sept. 23, with registration beginning at 9 a.m., and kickstands up at 9:55 a.m. from the Nathan Dean Sports Complex for a trip around the tri-county area. Free food for registered cyclists, 50/50 raffle, music and fun. Proceeds go to "Beautiful, Brave & Bold" breast cancer survivors banquet. Trophies for most represented, best bike and first to register. Motorcyclists can register in advance at www.openhandcommunityoutreach.org.
The next spaghetti dinner at American Legion Post 12 will be on Wednesday, Sept. 20. Meal of spaghetti, meatballs, garlic toast and salad, $5 for all-you-can-eat. Served from 5 to 7 p.m. Trivia with Tom and Betty starts at 6. Come join us for some fun and a great, inexpensive meal.
The Harrell-Weaver reunion is coming up on Saturday, Sept. 23, at Bellview Baptist Church in Rockmart from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Bring enough food for you and your family plus some to share. Email Shelia.Stanczak@spsx.com for more information.
The fifth Sunday gospel singing at the Outreach Tabernacle in Muscadine, Alabama, is coming up on Sunday, Sept. 30, featuring Mercy's Grace from Carrollton, Christian Heritage from Douglasville and the Yarbroughs from Bremen. The event starts at 5 p.m. central at 1351 County Road 31, Muscadine, Ala. Free refreshments following, a love offering will be received for the singers. Call Pastor Rouzelle at 770-574-2585 or Howard at 678925-0903 for more information or directions.
The Cedartown Sole Mates will be providing Introductory Line Dance Classes on five consecutive Thursdays beginning Sept. 21, 2017. The classes are from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the Senior Center at 605 Lynton Drive (Northwest Park) in Cedartown. There is no charge for the classes and you do not have to be a senior to participate. After the last class, participants are encouraged to join in our regular classes. If you miss the first class, we can help you catch up. For details call Helen Keefer at 770-749-1962.
Please join in the festivities coming up for the Cedartown High School Class of 1977's 40-year reunion coming up on Saturday, Oct. 21. Please visit the reunion's website www.chs1977reunion.com for registration and details, or contact Patty D. Tillery at 770-748-9038. Planning meetings are coming up on Sept. 12 and Oct. 3 for those interested in participating at 6:30 p.m. each night at The Avenue restaurant on East Avenue in Cedartown.
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.
Wimberly Hill Baptist Church, 200 Wimberly Hill Loop, Cedartown. Revival from Sept. 24 through Sept. 27, 7 p.m. Monday-Wednesday. Sunday, 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Evangelist Pastor Robert Wright. Public is invited to attend.
The Cedartown Optimist Club selling the Turkey Raffle tickets for $1 each and in a giveaway of 15 turkeys this year. Those interested purchase tickets from any Optimist Club member, with all proceeds go to the development of our youth. Ticket sales end with the raffle drawing on Nov. 16.
The Ferst Foundation Community Action Team meets the first Monday of the month at 5 p.m., alternately in Cedartown and Rockmart. Call 404862-1273 for the meeting location. Find out more about how to help improve childhood literacy in Polk County at ferstfoundation.org.
Rockmart's annual Riverwalk Festival on the Euharlee is coming up in Oct. 21. Visit rockmart-ga.gov for more information about how to sign up to become a vendor and to participate in festivities.
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 civil legal services to 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 later this month.
The next West Georgia Spay/Neuter Clinic is coming to the Cedartown-Polk County Humane Society on Wednesday, Sept. 27. 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 upcoming pickup dates following are Oct. 11 and Oct. 25.
Vendor applications are out now for the annual Cedartown Fall Festival being held on Saturday, Oct. 7, on Main Street. Festivities begin with the 10 a.m. Shriner's parade, a dog contest at 11 a.m. and live entertainment throughout he day. Those interested in a vendor space can contact Ramona Ruark at the Cedartown Welcome Center at 770-748-2090 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 following in the hospital 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 fol lowing 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 email@example.com or visit tinyurl.com/polkbees.
The Polk County Extension Service's annual twice-weekly vegetable market has begun. Find fresh veggies and fruits on hand from vendors on Tuesdays and Fridays from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. at Peek's Park in Cedartown. 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 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 call 678-901-9184.
Victory Baptist Church's Bread of Life Food Pantry is now open to help those in need. 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 of operation for the pantry are Mondays, 1 to 3 p.m.; Tuesdays, 5 to 7 p.m.; and Thursdays, 8 to 10 a.m.
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, located at 100 County Loop Road 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 404895-6517 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-877-210-KIDS. Visit www.fostergeorgia.com for more information.
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., on Monday nights with dinner at 6 p.m. A large group gathers at 7 p.m., and small share group gathers at 8 p.m.
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.
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 Cedar town. Donations are accepted.
Narconon would like to remind families that the use of addicting drugs is on the rise, take steps to protect your family from drug use. Call 800-431-1754 for more information or visit the Narconon website at DrugAbuseSolution.com.