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Branch vs. Brazier in Comm. race
Special election contested in Cedartown for November ballot

Sam Branch

Randell Brazier

It'll be a busy night at the Polk County Board of Elections on November 5 with three contested elections on municipal ballots for the year.

Aragon, Rockmart and now Cedartown will all go to the ballot box after a special round of qualifying opened back up to allow candidates into the race for the open seat on the Cedartown City Commission.

Sam Branch and Randell Brazier will seek to fill the time left over at the start of the year following the resignation of Commissioner Jordan Hubbard in August, that set up a special election for November.

Branch qualified early in the opening of the period on Tuesday, September 3, and then two days went by before Brazier added his name to the ballot before the special session ended at noon on Thursday, Sept. 5.

The closing of the special session for qualifying for the open seat wraps up the ballot for municipal elections across Polk County for 2019, which ends with a contested council race in Aragon, a Mayor's race in Rockmart and the seat now up for grabs in recent days.

Branch, a native of Cedartown who works at Suntrust Bank and Gammage Funeral Home, announced his intentions to run ahead of qualifying in past weeks. He also is a member of the Cedartown Civic Arts Commission, and is a member of the Exchange Club.

Brazier, former Code Enforcement Officer with the Polk County Police Department, decided last Thursday morning before the qualifying deadline opened up for the special election.

He said it was his intention to continue a long career in public service with running for office, and hopes that he can work with commissioners to improve conditions for city employees and safety for citizens in his position as a commissioner.

Two commissioners up for election this year will continue uncontested in their normal races since qualifying closed in August for those seats, allowing Commissioners Andrew Carter and Dale Tuck to start new four year terms in 2020. Elections Director Lee Ann George said they will keep their seats despite the contested race for the open seat, since it is only to take over the remaining time left when Hubbard resigned at August's end.

Voters who want to take part in the November election need to make sure they are qualified at their current addresses within the city limits to take part in either Cedartown, Rockmart or Aragon's races.

Registration for this year ends on October 7.

Advanced voting will begin on Tuesday, October 15 following the Columbus Day holiday, and continue on weekdays through Friday, November 1.

No major changes are expected for the coming voting period, with one exception: no Saturday voting this round. She said that Saturday voting days are reserved for midterm and presidential election years.

The final week of early voting will also see a location open for Rockmart voters at the Nathan Dean Community Center, located at 604 Goodyear St., Rockmart from Monday, October 28 through Friday, November 1, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Early voting will continue through the full three weeks of the period at the Board of Elections office in Cedartown within the County Administration building, located at 144 West Ave. Absentee ballots can also be obtained by contacting the Board of Elections at their number above.


Keeping hard at work in off-season
Kelley stays on task ahead of 2020 legislative session

State Rep. Trey Kelley remains a busy man despite it being the off-season for the legislature.

It might not seem like it, but the Majority Whip of the State House and representative of the 16th district still has plenty to do following the closing gavel of the 40-day session that ended back in April. There's events where he is asked to speak, work to do on committees and help he can provide to people right here in Polk County.

"Even when we're outside of the session, there's still plenty of work to do," Kelley said. "I really think that's the most important part of my job, helping my constituents with services and things that they need. Almost daily I have citizens reach out to me that need assistance with state agencies, or need help with their VA Benefits and I help connect them with our congressman."

"What we do during the session is very important, but what I do outside of the session is the most important part of my job, of being the liaison and help them get results from state government," Kelley added.

In recent weeks, Kelley joined other state legislators to talk about additional areas where they can make an impact on communities large and small outside of the metro areas around Atlanta, Savannah, Augusta and Columbus.

"We're already at work, earlier this week I had the opportunity to attend one of the House Rural Development Committee meetings that took place in Jasper at Chattahoochee Technical College," Kelley said in a late August interview. "The House Rural Development Committee is something that we've been working on the past two years to really focus on the issues that are impacting our rural communities like ours. Each committee comes with a specific kind of focus, and the one I recently attended focused on education."

That's been a big issue on the state level over the past several years as budgets include ever increasing amounts dedicated to spending on the classroom level. Just this past year, Governor Brian Kemp submitted a budget to increase teacher pay for each educator by $3,000, with more increases to come.

Challenges remain across Georgia in education improvements. That's one area the committee is hoping to find innovations on giving students a leg up when they pursue work or further education after they graduate high school.

"We say that education is our number one priority, and we don't just say that. We put our money where our mouth is," Kelley said. "Education has never been funded at a higher level than it has been under Republican leadership both under Governor Deal, and now under Gov. Kemp."

Kelley pointed to Kemp's campaign promise of $5,000 raises being fulfilled over the next two years after the raise in the FY 2020 budget. Kelley said the next session he anticipates funding to be included for the other $2,000 of Kemp's promised raises.

He also said that funding in this year's budget like $70 million in spending for local school safety improvement grants is another example of how they are seeking to improve schools overall across Georgia, and counselors who help with mental health issues in a student's life.

"One of the things that we heard from the Rural Development Committee is that students need help with soft skills," Kelley said. "Teaching kids how to write a resume, or teaching kids how to look someone in the eye when they shake their hand. Teach them that it is important to show up on time, if not before, to a job interview or work. These are a lot of things that at one time were taught at home, but now for one reason or another are getting missed. To develop a strong, educated workforce that can meet the needs of Georgia, we've got to address that too."

Other issues still pressing are the development of rural broadband infrastructure, a much-needed asset to help communities and businesses statewide compete on in a global marketplace.

Kelley said legislation this past session was designed to help with the spread of broadband by allowing electric cooperatives to provide access and to make investments in connectivity improvement.

Now the work of finding additional federal dollars from the U.S. Department of Agriculture is part of the process.

There's also the work that keeps Kelley busy no matter what time of year: Majority Whip.

Elected by members to serve in the role back in November 2018, Kelley will continue in his role for at least one more session as the state house heads into what promises to be a busy election year following the 2020 session.

"If I'm fortunate enough to be re-elected here in my community, I'll be offering myself up to continue to serve the caucus in that role as well," Kelley said. "It's important work that we're doing. One thing that Gov. Kemp has talked to us about is trying to reign in some state spending in other areas as we continue to offer up a lean budget."

Kelley said that spending levels remain efficient — adjusted for inflation at the same level as the early 2000's — but he said that he'll be working with legislators to find new ways to remain lean on the state's bottom line.

"The house is going to begin having budget hearings earlier than we ever have,"

Kelley said. "We want to make sure that if cuts are being made to the budget, we want to do so in a very thoughtful way while respecting the tax dollars that the citizens have entrusted us with."

He added that he believes that as a "strong fiscal conservative" he wants to seek out ways to rid the state of waste in budgets.

"I believe if we take an analytical approach to this, we can find ways to do that and hopefully push forward even further tax relief," Kelley said.

He's already ramping up for a 2020 campaign to remain in the state house for a new term first in the GOP Primary and then on next November's ballot. He added that it was his honor to continue to serve his district and looked forward to talking about all the "good things that we have accomplished together."


Printing business opens on Main Street

A new partnership in Cedartown has brought a new printing company to Main Street.

Craftsy House's Merari Morales and Terry Parker are working together on a new venture open for business in the form of both local and online printing sales of Blissfulprint.com.

Mainly focused on custom t-shirts, banners and signs, they also handle a variety of other printing needs and seek to put a focus on one-on-one customer service whether in person or through their website.

Parker, who has decades of experience in the printing business, said he wanted to search out new opportunities he hadn't tried before, and the partnership with Morales gave him a place to explore and grow.

"A lot of the big companies around here, they focus on the bulk orders," she said. "They don't focus on the customer and quality... that's one of the things we're going to offer and have been offering."

The pair opened their doors over the summer and already have taken orders from several local businesses and organizations.

"We're also trying to help small businesses," Morales said. "That's one thing we want to focus on, caring for our community and being able to help our local businesses."

Parker added their business also offers a new avenue for those who have printing needs but need more individualized care. They've already gotten into several areas where they've contributed back to the community. Morales is a co-founder of the Mother's Day Tea on Main fundraiser and works with children around the area providing paint parties to those with special needs. Parker too is a longtime supporter of local youth through is previous ventures.

Now the two are acting as a sponsor as well for the Boobie Bazaar 2019, a Breast Cancer Awareness Carnival taking place in the Livewire Parking Lot on Sunday, September 29.

Blissfulprint.com's Main Street storefront in the Craftsy House building will hold an official ribbon cutting ceremony on October 5. Visit their website to learn more about the products and services they offer, and get quotes on printing.


School board approves several field trips during light work session

Thanks to the Polk County Board of Education's approval of a slew of new field trips, local students will be doing plenty of learning outside of the classroom this school year.

Trips starting on September 6 and planned out as late as April 5 were given the OK during the group's latest work session following the Labor Day break.

Each event requires overnight stays outside of Polk, but the trips are to familiar locations and events.

Future Farmers of America members from the Polk County College and Career Academy will be traveling to Covington, Georgia, Perry, Georgia, and Indianapolis, Indiana for FFA Camp, a cattle show, and the FFA National Convention respectively over the course of the year.

Future Business Leaders of America members from various Polk schools will be traveling to the FBLA Fall Leadership Conference in Athens later in November,

the Cedartown Middle School Y-Club will be attending the Junior Youth Assembly Program in Atlanta later in November, and Rockmart Middle School BETA members will be entering the BETA Competition in Savannah, later in December and the Summer BETA Trip on a Carnival Cruise later in April.

In total, nine different trips were approved.

As always, various chaperons have been prepared to assist students and staff during the outings.

"For each one of the field trips, they have to put down how many male and female chaperones are coming," Superintendent Laurie Atkins said during the Sept. 3 work session. "It's (based on) the ratio of students, so they have plenty."

The field trips were the group's only action item for the night, but the board did discuss other matters during their executive session. They'll be back in session on Sept. 10 for their regular September meeting.

Agenda items for the meeting include policy approval for graduation requirements, policy approval for grading systems, an FY19 budget amendment, the presenting of the monthly M.E.R.I.T Award, and other routine matters.

Following that, the board's next meeting is a combined work and regular session that will take place on October 1 due to Fall Break.


AREA CALENDAR OF EVENTS

The Polk Gathering is sponsored by the Polk County Historical Society and is directed by Spivey McIntosh. The 1st Annual Gathering of the People event is set for September 20-22, 2019 at the Polk County Fairgrounds. Hours are 4 to 8 p.m. on Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Get ready for a lot of fall fun with the Polk County Chamber of Commerce's second annual Halloween Hoopla presented by H&R Block. The opening event is the upcoming countywide scarecrow contest! Those who want to participate can email info@polkgeorgia.com to enter, and must have their one-of-a-kind scarecrow out by September 23. Entries must stay up through Halloween. Trophies will be awarded for first, second and third place.

Aragon United Methodist Church is hosting a yard sale this Friday, Sept. 13 and Saturday, Sept. 14 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on both days. A variety of items will be available for sale to help raise money for missions sponsored by the church.

A Pinto Bean Fundraiser is being held by Live Oak Baptist Church coming up this Saturday, Sept. 14 from 5 to 7 p.m. in the fellowship hall to help raise money for Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Ministry shipping costs. The menu includes pintos, lima and navy beans along with cornbread, fried potatoes, slaw, onion and plenty of desserts. Visit the church this Saturday at 150 Live Oak Road, Aragon. Turn by Burton's store on Highway 101 to find it.

Tickets are on sale now for the 2019 State of the Community Address coming up on Tuesday, October 29 from 6 to 8 p.m. The annual gathering is returning to In the Woods in Rockmart and covers topics that are insightful and relevant for the business community. A buffet dinner will be served. Visit polkgeorgia.com to learn more and register now.

Spooky Spokes is coming to Cedartown on October 12 from 4 to 7 p.m. at Bert Wood Youth and Athletic Complex! Civic clubs, community organizations and more are invited to take part in the bike ride and Halloween Village. Find out more by calling the city at 770-748-3220.

The Aragon United Methodist Church is hosting a car show at the Tom Pittman Recreation Area on Saturday, Sept. 14. There's a $20 registration fee to participate. The show is being held from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Prizes will be handed out to those voted as the top vehicles.

Join the City of Aragon for a day of fun at their upcoming Fall Festival at Tom Pittman Field on Saturday, October 12 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Admission is free, and a screening of "Hocus Pocus" will be part of the day.

A Benefit for Shriners' Hospitals for Children presenting the "Sounds of Jericho" a traditional male quartet from Flowery Branch. The members of the quartet are Stacy Bragg, Stephen Sigmon, Ken Thomas, and Matt Tyler. Each member loves the Lord, and ministers to others through music. Each member has extensive musical experience, is well founded in Southern Gospel. In 2014, Sounds of Jericho was nominated in the Top 10 New Traditional Quartet category, by "Singing News Fan Awards". This presentation is from the Cedartown Shrine Club at the Cedartown Performing Arts Center on Sept. 28, 2019. For tickets call 770-748-4168.

The Exchange Club of Cedartown is excited to invite the public to return to the fairgrounds for the annual Polk County Fair, starting on September 10 through September 14. See this week's edition for a schedule of nightly events.

The Polk Gathering is sponsored by the Polk County Historical Society and is directed by Spivey McIntosh. The first Gathering of the People event is scheduled for September 20 through 22, 2019 at the Polk County Fairgrounds, located behind the Polk County Police Department off the Highway 27 bypass in Cedartown. Hours for the event begin 4 to 8 p.m. on Friday, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Call 770-862-4188 or email polkgahistory@gmail.com for more information. Visit polkgathering.com to find out more about the event. Sponsors, vendors and advertisers are being sought.

The Cedartown Farmer's Market has a new location and time for the 2019 season. Market-goers are invited to come out to the corner of Ware and South Main Street in Cedartown continuing on Tuesdays from 1 to 5 p.m. Contact Five Cedars Farm to participate at 678-246-1216 to learn more about becoming a vendor.

Join Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church to celebrate their annual Men and Women's Day program at 194 East Point Road on Sunday, August 25, at 3 p.m. The Rev. Susan H. Buckson of the Allen Temple AME Church of Atlanta will be the guest speaker. For more information call 470-370-3290.

RCAC has classes for toddlers, children and adults at the Rockmart Cultural Arts Center in drawing, painting, photography, yoga, chorus, piano, whittling, and pottery. For more information, call 770-684-2707 or email rcac@rockmart-ga.gov

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 asams@bgcnwga.org.

The Rockmart History Museum on South Marble Street in downtown Rockmart is open Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. and on Saturday 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. The Museum welcomes visitors and group tours. Contact Pat Sampson at 678-764-5201 for information. RHM meetings are held on the first Wednesday of each month and volunteers are welcome and encouraged to take part.

Interested in becoming a Foster or Adoptive Parent? Open your heart to a child in Journal 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 call Robin Forston at 404-895-6517 or email robin.forston@dhs.ga.gov 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.

The American Legion in Rockmart is hosting their monthly all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner coming up this Wednesday, September 18. Meal of spaghetti, meatballs, garlic toast and salad, $5. They hold dinners on the third Wednesday of every month. Join the group for a good meal and to support veteran and children's programs. The Legion is located at 1 Veterans Circle, Rockmart.

USAPA Pickelball Ambassador Daneen England is holding a free pickleball clinic every Monday (weather permitting) from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Rockmart Tennis courts, located at 436 Hogue Avenue, Rockmart. Loaner paddles and all necessary equipment will be on hand to learn t he sport. This is a free event for anyone and they just need to wear comfortable gym clothes and tennis shoes. Contact England at 770-356-1282, or by email at howardd999@yahoo.com 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 aweaver@lsga.org or call 706-506-0649.

Did you know that nationwide the American Red Cross assists 53 people every 60 seconds during personal and local disasters? Our Northwest Georgia Red Cross Chapter serves Polk County. If you'd like to do some meaningful volunteering, please contact Arthene Bressler at 762-231-9896 and visit our website at www.redcross.org/local/georgia.

Get assistance

Do you think you might be pregnant? You can know for sure. Contact Life Matters Outreach today to schedule a free pregnancy test. You have a right to know all the options available to you. We offer free evidence-based education and resources so that you can make a well-informed decision. The services provided at LMO Pregnancy Care Center are free of charge. Clients are treated with respect and unconditional acceptance. We are here to help YOU. Call 770-748-8911 for more information.

Anna Kresge Memorial United Methodist Church will be sponsoring a clothing bank for children ages infant to 5 years old on the first Thursday of each month beginning in September from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the conference room of One Door Polk in Cedartown. Contact 770-748-6811 for more information on how to donate or participate in the giveaway.

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.

Community Share Ministries is hosting "Hope for the Hungry" on the first Tuesday of every month to provide food assistance to the community. They'll be in town again on Tuesday, June 4. Food is provided free of charge, and no identification is required to get help. Those interested can visit Community Share Ministries Cedartown thrift store at 1116 N. Main St., Cedartown.

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.

AREA CALENDAR OF EVENTS

Need to get an item onto the Area Calendar of Events? Email kmyrick@polkstandardjournal.com today! All items must be in at least two weeks before the event to appear in the Standard Journal on time.