The Rockmart police chief said previous information linking double shootings in January, which left four dead, to gang-related activities was both "inaccurate and premature."
Rockmart Police Chief Keith Sorrells said in a Jan. 30 release his intention is to provide accurate information but also keep the integrity of the investigation and future prosecution of 27-year-old Daylon Delon Gamble intact. This came in the days following Gamble's capture in Indiana as police continued their investigation into the double shootings last week.
In his statement, he said that "At this time, any previous statements or information indicating that the recent shooting that rocked the Rockmart community was in some manner gang-related would be both inaccurate and premature."
Gamble remains in custody in Indianapolis, Indiana, on murder charges filed by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation following the Jan. 24 shootings.
Gamble is accused of shooting five people, killing four, at two different locations in Rockmart on Jan. 24. All five people were shot in the head and Polk County Coroner Tony Brazier earlier described them akin to an "execution."
Helen Rose Mitchell, 48, and Jaequnn Davis, 19, were killed at a Williamson Street home. Arkeyla Perry, 24, and Dadrian Cummings, 26, were killed at a Rome Street home. The two locations were within three blocks of one another.
Gamble fled after the shootings and law enforcement agencies went on a nationwide manhunt. They'd originally found a black Ford pickup truck which police say he had stolen shortly after the incident in Bartow County. On Jan. 27, he was found by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and the U.S. Marshals Service's Great Lakes Regional Fugitive Task Force.
The statement said law enforcement from several agencies are still on the case, but for the moment they won't be providing any additional information on what they find "until such time that it is appropriate to do so."
As police continue to look into the case, a 24-year-old man who was also shot continues to improve on a daily basis.
Peerless Brown, who was found shot and severely injured at the Williamson Street crime scene, is getting better by the day, Brazier said.
He said in an update midweek as January came to a close that Brown's condition that it was likely he would soon be moved out of intensive care as he gets better.
The Aragon City Council was supposed to get together for a meeting with a long agenda on the finances.
Unfortunately, snow got in the way of making that happen. Well, the threat of snow that never materialized.
City Clerk Christie Langston announced the early cancellation of the Jan. 29 meeting at the start of last week before when the forecast had called for winter weather to hit the area, and freezing temperatures keep it on the ground.
She said a meeting date hasn't been firmed up yet, but will take place during the week ahead of the council's regular session coming up later in the month on Thursday, February 21.
Items that were up for discussion and potential vote included 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 planned to have a discussion of the city's vacation policy, and time was also set aside for comments from the council and mayor.
Langston in a latest update on the city's finances said that the general fund grew some in the past weeks to $32,176.68 as of press time on Feb. 1, up from recent lows.
Aragon's council have in the past weeks voiced serious concerns about the level of spending versus the amount of revenue coming in on a monthly basis, and asked for Hartley to provide explanations of what is happening, and how to fix the problem.
Check back in the coming edition for a settled date on the special called session rescheduling.
Police are asking the help of the public in tracking down a man previously convicted on stalking charges and who is facing an additional charges locally of harassing three different people in the Rockmart area.
Polk County Police Chief Kenny Dodd is requesting help and asks people to be on the lookout for 54-year-old Keith Foster, recently of the Vinson Mountain area, currently being sought on misdemeanor stalking charges.
Dodd said Foster was last seen at a convenience store near the Haralson County line driving a white Chevrolet pickup truck, and that additional potential sightings have also placed him near the Bartow County line as well.
"We've got to find him to serve him with additional charges," Dodd said.
Foster is accused of stalking three different women in east Polk County. He was previously convicted of misdemeanor stalking charges 10 times between Bartow, Haralson and Paulding counties, along with four different felony counts of
aggravated stalking. He also faces three more aggravated stalking charges in court in Paulding County, and was out of jail and living locally awaiting a court date.
Based on investigators accounts, Dodd said that Foster selects victims in restaurants and stores and seems friendly at first, getting enough information out of a potential victim to find them on social media.
"He'll then begin to stalk people on social media, and will send ugly, nasty things he wants to do to these women," Dodd said. "Somehow he gets their cell numbers, and will send texts and pictures."
Dodd added that all his victims thus far met him during chance encounters. "He's done this in Cobb County and Paulding County and several others, and now he's in Polk."
He was also accused and tried for murder in Cobb County in 1997, but was found not guilty by a jury at the time. His record additionally included felony drug and gun charges, Dodd said.
Foster is a white male, 5-foot10 and 190 pounds and has in the past kept his head closely shaven.
Those who see or know Foster should immediately call 911 or the Polk County Police during office hours Monday through Friday at 770-748-7331.
It's a problem that cities and counties across the country face all the time. What does a community do when it doesn't have direct access to the interstate to bring people in?
Polk County is no stranger to being off the beaten path. At one time when the Silver Comet ran through the county on a path northward, there were at least brief visitors who saw the rural landscape from their seats and could spread the gospel of Cedartown and Rockmart far and wide.
Nowadays, the Highway 27 and Highway 278 corridors bring more truck traffic than tourists, though those numbers are on the rise as the former rail line now serves as a bicycle trail from the Alabama state line all the way to the metro Atlanta area. The Cedartown Museum of Coca-Cola Memorabilia next door to the Standard Journal attracts people during weekend visits (they sometimes even confuse the office doors with those of the museum on Saturday mornings.)
It would be happy dreams come true for local businesses to see a huge increase in the amount of tourism dollars being spent in downtown areas, since these customers are the kind Polk County enjoys. People who come to see the sights, spend their dollars and cents in restaurants, shops and gas stations, and send them onward to tell others what the area has to offer.
New efforts are now underway to get to those goals with the help of the state's Department of Economic Development Tourism Product Development team. It gives local officials a blueprint that may bring growth in visitor spending and give businesses new revenue streams to fill their coffers, and reinforce many ideas that are already being pursued or have been completed.
Their visit back in fall 2018 took them to all corners of the local area, from the Silver Come Trail and local parks and museums, to places off the beaten path like Hightower Falls and Carlton Farms.
The team was back in Polk County providing a report last Thursday on where locals should focus their efforts first. The 100-plus page was too long to regurgitate in full for officials in the meeting at the Slate Building in Rockmart, but they hit highlights of what they believe should be the main areas to develop. Top among them, and where efforts were tried in the past and are still ongoing: signage.
Getting around Polk County
For people who live in the local area, directions might go something like this: "turn right out of here and go down to the light. Turn left there, then turn right again... If you go past Huddle House you've gone too far..."
That's not exactly a helpful way to get people who don't have license plates proclaiming their home as Polk. One of the team's first suggestions for officials from the cities, county and local businesses and organizations was to get signage up to direct people around Cedartown and Rockmart.
Especially for those trying to find the Silver Comet trailheads spread across the county in Rockmart, Cedartown and select spots in between.
They also wanted to see Polk County put up gateway signage much in the same vein as what Rome has when residents get within the city limits, or Griffin or Dalton. Signage also is needed to direct people off of Highway 27 or Highway 278 into the downtown areas of Rockmart and Cedartown, and along the trail as well.
The team pointed to the example of the signage used on the Swamp Rabbit Trail on Greenville County, South Carolina as an idea for local officials to pursue in order to get some signage up.
It's efforts that have been tried before. The Polk County Chamber of Commerce in years past attempted to spearhead an effort to put up real gateway signage into Polk County, but couldn't get any landowners to donate small parcels of land to put up large signage in years past.
Instead, they settled at the time on being able to put up new signs that replaced the "Welcome to Polk County – Where Folks are Friendly" signs with smaller ones on poles at major entryways into the county.
The tourism team also said in their report and during the presentation that local officials needed to work on unified signage to make getting around as easy as possible for visitors. Having several different styles of signs would only confuse those from out of town, but also compliment what is already here.
Utilizing resources already here
Nick Chubb. Sterling Holloway. Carlton Farms. West Cinema.
All of these are recognizable names both here, and in many cases far afield from Polk County. (Especially for lovers of old films, and current NFL stars.)
The tourism team wants to see those names and places be a greater part of Polk County's efforts to attract visitors.
Here's a good for instance they pointed out: Nick Chubb is indeed from Cedartown, but Chubbtown which bears his family's name plays just as important a role in Polk County's robust history, but isn't easy to find from the downtown area.
Sterling Holloway is one of the few voices from a long run in film who can be recognized by children far and wide as the original Winnie the Pooh and many other characters from Bambi, Alice in Wonderland and more. Yet the tributes around town to him don't include him speaking to those who stop by.
Even add to that Carlton Farms: owned by the same family for a century in Polk County and in recent years starting to become a destination next door to Rockmart High School. Yet people wouldn't know it was open to the public with a farm store at first glance.
These kinds of items are ones the Tourism Product Development Resource Team wants to see better emphasized.
Give people who want a farm experience the information they need to visit a place like Carlton Farms, and then promote locally grown food served in restaurants in Rockmart as well. Provide historical information on the impact of Chubbtown.
Play Sterling Holloway's voice through a system when people walk in the door of the Cedartown Welcome Center. Create a place for golfers to come and visit the great collection of Doug Sanders.
They had many other ideas as well utilizing technology with history by creating downtown walking tours that people can undertake and listen into interpretations of the life of the city on their smartphones.
Branding is also a big part of what the tourism team saw as a step that the cities and county can take in the right direction.
They already saw potential in Cedartown's rebranding last year of the city's logo and website with a tree-based theme, and provided insights and ideas of how that can be expanded. For instance, small cedar cutouts of trees could be sold as mementos to keep from a visit to Cedartown.
It was even suggested local officials plant Eastern Red Cedars in places around the city to incorporate natural effects into the branding as well.
Rockmart's iconic bricks are another example of how that branding can help raise an area's image to a greater audience.
Their point was that by taking the resources already here and well known and putting them to greater use to get more visitors to come and stay for a day or two and explore the area.
Some of this is already underway, with Cedartown's new Tourism and Economic Development department looking at a summertime honey festival around Sterling Holloway, and moving events around on the calendar and in locations to better suit the sometimes shifting weather.
Yet many of the suggestions the team wants requires a greater amount of places for people to rest their head. So it'll come down to what kind of options for lodging can be generated in the near future on how popular Polk County can be in the long term.
Where's a good place to stay?
One other major area the tourism team wants Polk County to work on is affordable lodging options for those coming to enjoy the Silver Comet Trail.
There are a few hotels in Cedartown and Rockmart, but Airbnb options and lowcost hostels for cyclist groups just aren't here. And without a good place to stay, what could have been a two-day stop in Cedartown and Rockmart on the trail suddenly turns into a few hours riding through and looking for options elsewhere.
So the tourism team wants local officials and business owners to work on providing several options, which would include looking at boutique hotels, utilizing upstairs spaces above Cedartown and Rockmart businesses to open bunk-based hostel spaces with limited amenities that would remain inexpensive, and expand glamour camping, or "glamping" options at places like the Rock Campground and others.
Vintage campers that have been spruced up or yurts to expand not only the amount of bed space available for sale to overnight guests, but also to attract visitors who want outdoor experiences but don't want to give up the luxuries of city living.
The team said the Rock Campground was among one of many local businesses the team featured, along with Hightower Falls.
One of the team even included a sample itinerary she and her friends are planning to follow in a trip in the near future enjoying Polk County, and hope to spend time within the cabins at Hightower Falls, and visiting Cedartown and Rockmart if and when hostels are setup in both cities while riding the Silver Comet Trail.
Having options to eat were also an item the tourism team focused on as well.
They wanted to see more local restaurants in both cities to attract the dining dollars of visitors, and also for those destinations offer up locallygrown cuisine in the process. It is part of an overall effort to promote Georgia Grown products throughout the state, and the branding is already available for local officials to utilize and businesses to take part in.
Arts and culture can attract people too
Where both Rockmart and Cedartown can also attract people into town is through the arts. The team were highly complimentary of the available theater spaces and arts opportunities overall in both cities, pointing out that many of the places in Georgia they've previously stopped in and provided similar reports didn't have the available arts communities to help reinforce tourism efforts.
However, they pointed to several areas of growth for the cities to work toward, which included using temporary murals on the outside of the Cedartown Performing Arts Center to attract greater interest locally and abroad, increasing the number of performances at both the CPAC and the Rockmart Arts Theater, and approaching outdoor spaces currently unused for both events and arts viewing spaces.
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.
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 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 770356-1282, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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 Journal 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 email@example.com 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, 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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 American Legion in Rockmart is hosting their monthly all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner coming up next Wednesday. Meal of spaghetti, meatballs, garlic toast and salad, $5. Join the group for a good meal and to support veteran and children's programs. The Legion is located at 1 Veterans Circle, Rockmart. Check back for an updated date in the coming edition of the Standard Journal's Calendar of Events.
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.
The Rotary Club of Polk County meets weekly at the Richardson Field Depot in Rockmart for lunch at noon every Tuesday and are encouraging members and potential new members to take part. Contact Missy Kendrick with the Rotary Club at 770-584-5234 for more on how to participate or become a member. Annual dues are required to be a member.