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Atkins named school chief
• The Board of Education votes unanimously to approve a three-year contract with a local veteran educator.

The Polk County Board of Education kept their choice of a new superintendent local with their unanimous vote to approve the contract for Laurie Atkins to take over the leadership of the school district.

Atkins, a longtime veteran of the Polk School District, had most recently served as assistant superintendent in charge of instruction and assessment.

Board chair Tommy Sanders sought a raise of hands for the vote in the work session, and board members showed no hesitation in their unanimous vote during the Sept. 5 work session.

"Mrs. Atkins has dedicated her career to the students and teachers of Polk School District," said Sanders in a press release from the board Tuesday. "It is only fitting knowledge and leadership skills that someone with her experience, we continue to progress forward." be selected to lead the district as

Other board members added their voices in praise for Atkins, all of who were ready to move forward as a district with their new leader.

"Thank you for being so professional through this whole process," said board member Kristy Gober.

Board vice chair Bernard Morgan added his thanks too and said "it's been a long time coming."

Board member J.P. Foster said he was excited for the board, for Atkins and the entire district.

"I think we know your heart and where it lies, so roll your sleeves up and get ready to work," Foster said.

Atkins said she was grateful for their vote of confidence and support in her new role, and said she was ready to face the challenges ahead.

"I want to take a moment to say thank you and share my sincere appreciation for this opportunity to allow me to be superintendent," Atkins said. "It's a true honor, and something I will always cherish. And with this board as a team, I think we have great things ahead of us."

Following the vote, Sanders presented his thanks to Greg Teems for serving in the interim role during the past months, after he was appointed to the position in March. Before Teems returned to the audience and his job as assistant superintendent, board members gave their praise for his hard work and he was presented with a plaque for his service.

"These directors and principals made it easy," said Teems. "Give credit where credit is due to the great staff that we have. Everything we've done we've sat down and talked out everything that we needed to do, to make sure that we were going in the right direction.

Foster added before Teems left the superintendent's chair for the last time that he came into the position in a difficult time and faced the challenge down well.

"He stepped into a role that we needed some stability, and Greg certainly provided that," Foster said. "It's been a pleasure working with you as a board member as interim superintendent, and you've been a great team member."

Teems said he wasn't involved in the hiring process, but was able to report that more than 25 candidates applied for the position in the initial hiring phase for the superintendent.

Atkins, whose role as assistant superintendent began in 2015, was previously the curriculum director for the district for 10 years, and prior to that was principal at Eastside Elementary for 3 years.

She also served as a teacher and assistant superintendent at Eastside before moving up in the administration, with 26 years total in the district.

Atkins holds degrees from Shorter, West Georgia and Jacksonville State universities.

Her promotion to the district's new superintendent comes with a raise to $150,000 a year for three years with a bonus at the end of the third year to be paid out on a monthly basis if she keeps the job on an annual basis through the contract, and a positive review of her performance by the board at the end of each fiscal year.

Like with the travel stipend in the interim contract for Greg Teems, there's only a $500 stipend included for her to use annually for trips to conferences or events required for Atkins to be present for work purposes. Atkins also gets 20 days of vacation.

Her contract stipulates the same conditions of employment as has been included for past superintendents of the system, and it expires in August 2020 before it has to be renegotiated.

Board Attorney Michael McRae said that Atkins had no additions or conditions she wished changed in the contract, a first in his recent memory for employment terms for the superintendent.

According to a press release from the board, Atkins' hire comes at the end of a four month process that was organized by Educational-Planners LLC. They handled the process of gathering and interviewing candidates for the job, and also helped organize two community input meetings with the board and two rounds of interviews with candidates meeting with the Board of Education.

McRae thanked James Wilson, a former superintendent himself and consultant from Educational-Planners.

"He's done an excellent job along with his company," McRae said.

Thanks were also given to former board member Hal Floyd, who also took part in the process prior to his resignation in August.

Cedartown man found dead on Treat Mountain

A Cedartown man who had been missing since Labor Day was found dead in the woods a few miles from his house Friday morning, according to Polk County Coroner Tony Brazier.

Tex Johnny Frits, 66, of a Treat Mountain Road address, was pronounced dead at 10:30 a.m. Friday morning by Brazier after he was found around 3 miles down the road several days after he went missing.

Brazier said Frits was taken to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab for an autopsy after the scene was processed as a suspicious death. He said that due to the level of decomposition with the body, no cause of death had yet been determined.

According to Brazier, Frits had left the house on Labor Day and went several miles down the road, then through the woods until he reached a clearing Frits had previously used as a deer blind.

"It appears he came under some kind of distress and tried to get back to his four wheeler," Brazier said.

Frits was found slumped over the front of the four wheeler, Brazier said. Polk County Police officers and investigators, along with the coroner's office, searched an acre of area of any signs of evidence, but police are still investigating for the time being.

"We processed the body and we are working the case aggressively," Brazier said.

More charges levied against woman in animal cruelty case

A Rockmart woman was jailed on felony charges for her involvement with the 115 dogs found by the Polk County Police Department.

According to Polk County Police Chief Kenny Dodd, Candice Sorrells, 34, of 742 Callaway Drive, Rockmart, was charged with 107 counts of being party to a crime of cruelty to animals, each a felony. She was taken into custody on Thursday morning for her involvement with the case being developed against Devecio Ranard Rowland, 32, who remained in jail on numerous charges after 115 dogs were discovered over the past days.

Jail records reported that both remained in jail without bond.

Additional dogs were found last Friday, Sept. 1, in Sorrells' home. The mother and seven puppies were also taken in by Polk County Animal Control, Dodd said.

Dodd said his officers executed a search warrant on Sorrells' Callaway Drive home this week as part of the case against Rowland and found evidence that she was part of the investigation.

"We found evidence that implicates her in being involved in and knew about what was going on," Dodd said.

He added Rowland and Sorrells were dating.

An emergency hearing is being held on Tuesday, Sept. 12, over the fate of 35 dogs taken in from a Puckett Road address discovered by police last week as part of the overall group Rowland kept for the purposes of dog fighting. Dodd said his department and Animal Control have been waiting for the hearing to move forward on the condemnation process, to allow the county to take over the animals and

Currently, Polk County Animal Control is housing 17 out of the original 35 found at the Puckett Road address, according to Polk County Animal Control Director Jeff Crawford.

He said his department is still seeking rescue groups who are certified to take in the dogs to take 10 more that were part of the first group found on Cashtown Road on Aug. 28.

Crawford said those groups who are willing to take in the dogs can contact him at the Animal Control office at 770-749-8908.

Crawford said he did not have a count currently of how many of the dogs remained in facilities around the region who took in dogs from two of the three sites last week. He expected an update today on which dogs had been placed with rescue groups, and those that hadn't.

Fair set to start tonight
• Hurricane Irma's potential impact pushes organizers to move the fair's opening back a day.

While Labor Day marks the end of Summer in other parts of the country, the Polk County fair is currently serving as the end of the hottest season for Rockmart, Cedartown, and Aragon citizens who are finally looking forward to autumn and the chilly delights that come with the season.

That was, until Hurricane Irma went and changed course and timing, and forced the fair organizers to reconsider their opening date.

So instead of opening on Tuesday night as planned, the fair instead opens this evening and will continue through Saturday at the Polk County Fairgrounds, located off Highway 278 next to Cedartown Bypass.

Standard gate admission for this year's event is $5 for adults and $3 for children, and children ages five and under get in free. Those looking to ride to their heart's content can purchase arm bands for $18 on Wednesday and Thursday before the price increases to $20 on Friday and Saturday. Fair parking is always free.

The Polk County fair offers numerous opportunities for discounts and free membership to the different demographics of attendees. All discounts and free admission apply only to standard gate admission-not armbands!

Wednesday's community night offers a discount to anyone who brings their church bulletin. Seniors should consider stopping by on Thursday where they can get free admission through the front gate for Senior Night. Polk's first responders (firemen, EMS, law enforcement) will be offered a discounted admission on Friday for First Responders night. Polk's veterans will be honored on Saturday, the fair's last night, with a discounted admission for Veteran's Night.

With a new company supplying the rides, games, and concessions, patrons can expect "all the old favorites, but with some exciting new additions this year," said Cedartown Exchange Club member and marketing volunteer Sam Branch. The fair is typically home to giant swings, a Ferris Wheel, High Striker, bumper cars, and more. Alongside rides catered to thrill seekers, numerous attractions will be available for children.

Alongside the rides and games, the fair is hosting a slew of human entertainment in the form of musicians. Those who were scheduled for Tuesday night's entertainment will get an opportunity to reschedule during the rest of the week.

A fair isn't a fair without judging of some sort and the Polk County fair is looking to rate everything from vegetables and flowers to livestock. Applications for livestock were due August 31st, and Polk County Extension Coordinator Ricky Ensley will be acting as livestock judge. The Beef Cattle show will be Thursday, Sept. 14, at 6 p.m.; The Market Lamb show will be Saturday, Sept. 16 at 6 p.m.

The fair is the primary fundraiser for the Cedartown Exchange Club that has used the event to return over $10,000 into the Polk County community each year since 1961. The Exchange Club has 4 main goals in the forms of preventing child abuse, youth programs, community service, and Americanism. Money earned from fundraisers goes to local seniors as scholarships and sponsorships for organizations such as Our House Battered Women Shelter, Boy Scouts, Parkinson's Walk, Cedartown Performing Arts Commission children's program, Law Officer of the Year, and many more. More information about the fair and the club can be found at or


LINING UP FOR GAS: Local residents were filling up their tanks on Friday ahead of the news that Hurricane Irma was going to impact the area as soon as Monday, but forecasts were updated over the weekend and the storm wasn't expected to hit until after press time on Tuesday. Gas lines formed just as prices increased up above the $2.80 range locally at some stations. Find out more about local preparations for Hurricane Irma and ongoing relief efforts for Houston on Page A9.

County commission voting on new District 1 member

Polk County Commissioners have waited a month, heard from candidates during an hour-long question and answer session, and now they were ready to vote on a new member to join the board as the week got underway.

September's regular session was being held on Tuesday after press time — assuming weather issues with Hurricane Irma's remnants coming ashore and into Northwest Georgia hadn't called off the meeting afterward.

Commissioners were looking to fill the District 1 commission seat in the Cedartown area during the Sept. 12 meeting, weather permitting.

They met the night previous for their work session after voting in August to push back this month's meetings a week for the Labor Day holiday.

Eight different candidates have sought the job for the new county commission seat which included former District Attorney Bobby Brooks, local businessmen Dewain Campbell and Jose Iglesias, former commissioner Cleve Hartley, former city commissioner and school board member Gary Martin, former assistant county manager David McElwee, retiree Harland Moody and car salesman Carson Tanner.

Commission chair Marshelle Thaxton said he didn't wish to vote on any candidate to fill the District 1 seat if that candidate didn't have the full support of the board to avoid any embarrassment for any individual brought up before the 60-day deadline.

Because of the paper's deadline, news of who the commission picked wasn't available before press time over the weekend.

That information will be available late Tuesday at

Filling the seat was among the last items on the agenda for September as the commission sought to vote and complete work on a number of items before the county needing approval for the month.

Commissioners sought to write off a large amount of uncollectable property tax for 2017, make requests from the state for help with roadwork on Cherokee Road and Marquette Road, several requests for spending from the Public Works department, seeking approval for accepting a grant from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources for a Silver Comet Trail grant, and purchase of computing equipment for the county sheriff's office and the county administration.

The board also took time out to honor the service of Commissioner Stefanie Drake Burford following her resignation from the District 3 seat at the end of August.

The clock is ticking for the commission to fill her seat, and already candidates are up for the job. So far, the list of candidates from the Rockmart and eastern Polk County area to fill the seat include former Aragon mayor Ken Suffridge, former commissioner Larry Reynolds, Edwin Britt, former school board member Hal Floyd, and Tim Yarbrough. The process for applying for that seat remains open, according to County Manager Matt Denton.

He said those interested need to contact him or the commission chair to apply, and that the commission plans to follow the same process as the District 1 seat, giving people ample opportunity to apply and then hold a question and answer session for members of the public and the board.

Board members also met on Monday for their monthly work session to hear from the public and discuss upcoming business.


Marietta Street United Methodist Church is hosting its annual anniversary celebration through music on Sept. 16 at 6 p.m., followed by a special sermon on Sept. 17 with the Rev. Vincent Dortch of Antioch Baptist Church in Carrollton as the guest speaker. The church will then hold a revival from Sept. 18 through Sept. 20, 7 p.m. nightly with a theme for the week of "Revive the Passion!" The public is invited to the five-day event at the church on Robert L. Parks Boulevard, Cedartown. For more information call Annie Vaughn at 770-748-4200.

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 '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

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.

Get ready for the Polk County Fair organized by the Cedartown Exchange Club annually to help raise funds for the club to donate to local organizations. The fair continues through Saturday, Sept. 16, at the Polk County Fairgrounds; 5-10 p.m. nightly Tuesday through Thursday, and Friday and Saturday from 5 to 11 p.m. See the front of this week's paper for a story on the fair.

The fifth Sunday gospel singing at the Outreach Tabernacle in Muscadine, Ala., 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 678-925-0903 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 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 will resume Wednesday, Sept. 6, in the Fellowship hall of Rockmart First United Methodist Church from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The group will 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 678-435-5032.

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 for details about vendors and upcoming classes.

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 for more information.

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 for more information.

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.

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.

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

Rockmart's annual Riverwalk Festival on the Euharlee is coming up in Oct. 21. Visit 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

The Polk County Alzheimer's 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 following Sunday School at 9:45 a.m. Call Pastor Jesse Starnes at 678757-4572 for more information.

The Polk County Beekeepers meets the first Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. to noon at the Cedartown Library, 245 East Ave. Whether you are an experienced beekeeper, new beekeeper or want to learn all are welcome. For details email or visit

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 404-895-6517 or email robin. or call 1-877-210KIDS. Visit 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.

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 details 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 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 details contact 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 Cedartown. 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

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