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County seeks equality in annual onetime checks
• Commissioners approve $500 for full time, $250 for part timers for 2018

It comes up each year before the Polk County Commission, and though it's no longer called a holiday bonus, it acts as a bit of a thank you to employees within county government when it comes time for Christmas shopping.

This year, the now titled one-time salary enhancement will find checks distributed evenly for everyone as full time employees will all get a $500 check for the year, and part timers get $250.

Commissioners approved the plan 3-2 instead of the previous method of paying out 1.5 percent of their annual salaries, which will be paid out in November ahead of the holiday season.

At first the motion was put before the commission by Chuck Thaxton to approve the annual 1.5 percent one-time payment of their salaries, which a minimum payout of $500 for each employee whether they were full or part time.

It was one of several plans presented by County Manager Matt Denton during their November regular session, prepared last minute at the request of Commission vice chair Hal Floyd.

Floyd claimed himself as the culprit for giving his fellow board members several options for how to pay out county employees annual one-time payments when Commissioner Jose Iglesias questioned why they didn't just have one option to choose from.

"I appreciate Matt (Denton), Muriel (Dulaney) and Sheena for doing this," Floyd said. "It was a lot to ask on the spur of the moment, and they did a great job of putting it all together."

He did add however that his intention with the options was to find an equitable way to split additional insurance premium money found in the FY 2019 budget for salary enhancement checks to go out this year, and didn't want it to where one employee received more than any other.

After additional discussion, Floyd and Commissioners Scotty Tillery and Chuck Thaxton went along with the plan to give $500 checks to each full time employee, and $250 for part time employees.

The cost to the county for the overall additional spending on employee salaries will total up around $150,000, give or take a few thousand according to Denton when final calculations are tallied when the budget year concludes. It usually is based on how many employees are filling the 265 full time positions at any given time, and currently stands at 247 hires throughout all departments.

County officials also during their November session decided they needed to table and wait on votes on the Airport Runway Extension project.

Denton said in follow-up correspondence that additional work needed to be completed on several contracts being finalized for the funding from the state, the work to be completed by the contractor selected for the project, and to give additional engineering tasks to Holt Consulting Company ahead of the forthcoming work to extend the airport's runway to 5,000 feet.

The day will have no impact on the state's agreement to fund the project past the $1.5 million guaranteed as the county's share of the cost, Denton said. He also added that the county is looking at additional ways to save funds on the project overall in contract negotiations to include value engineering options to bring down the overall the state's Department of Transportation will have to pay.

Denton said he looks to have the matter back before the board during their forthcoming December meetings, being held on Dec. 10 and 11 after a move in the calendar was also approved by the board.

In other purchases, Public Works will be getting a new dump truck and will trade in an older model to help save money after Commissioners approved a $65,949 bid for an upgrade. The funds will come out of the 2014 Special Purpose, Local Option Sales Tax fund.

The board also approved the need for the county to move forward with updating the job description for the paving supervisor for Polk County Public Works, and also gave authority for Denton and others to make operational decisions regarding the forthcoming Carl Vinson Institute salary study to be conducted, and for a resolution updating the permit allowing for Polk County Police to use radar devices on local roads, and set speed limits, both at the request of the state DOT and Polk County Police.

Commissioners wrapped up their meeting with no additional comments on Election Night, with exception of an update ongoing lawsuit the county filed against Waste Industries over landfill operations and money, which will be forthcoming online this week and in the Nov. 21 edition.


SAFE DECISIONS
Teen Maze continues work to instill smart choices

The path through life is determined always by the choices one makes, and the consequences that flow outward from them.

A local teen gets bored and curious with their parents out for the night, and friends off on a trip for school over the weekend. They've been texting back and forth with people who are busy on dates or already off to the movies.

One thing leads to another, and before they know it they've wandered into their parents bathroom, and opened up the medicine cabinet. 'What's Hydrocodone used to treat?' Doesn't matter. They've already swallowed it down.

It's dark, but since there's not much else to do it seems like a good idea to go driving around. Mom's car is in the garage, and a learner's permit is almost a license, right?

Just imagine what happens next as they cruise down the road without a seatbelt on, driving illegally and having taken a painkiller. The teenager doesn't pay full enough attention and looks down to skip a song on their phone they don't like. All the sudden they've swerved into the other lane and crashed head on into a family of four.

The above tragic example is what an organization like Polk Family Connection hopes to prevent in the future, and with the help of several groups it's a point they hope to drive home during the annual Teen Maze.

Ninth graders from the Polk School District and area schools gathered at Camp Antioch this past week for the latest round of the event that presents them with a variety of scenarios of life, and how to avoid them.

Students donned simulated impairment goggles and drove a golf cart around the front lawn of the camp to act as a reminder of how hard it is to drive while drunk or on drugs. Only a few steps away, a roll over simulator brought by the Governor's Office of Highway Safety's regional partners at Polk County Police Department served as a stark example of what happens when students don't wear their seat belts.

One of the hardest examples of the Teen Maze is the simulation of a fatal car wreck in the back yard of Camp Antioch, and then having to experience what it's like being in the emergency room and watching someone die, or having to go to jail as a consequence.

Even an empty casket with a mirror sits as physical proof of what can happen when wrong choices are made.

The annual day is put on by Polk Family Connections and organized through the efforts of Executive Director Rhonda Heuer. She receives help from staff along with hundreds of volunteers from local law enforcement, fire departments, Redmond and Floyd EMS personnel, Georgia Highlands College nursing instructors and organizations who came to talk about teen pregnancy, STDs and making other healthy choices.

Polk Family Connection's goal is to get students to pay attention to what they see and hear from those who have already experienced the worst circumstances as first responders to all kinds of incidents.

Because the goal is to keep teens from making bad choices at critical times in their lives, and to ensure they think about the consequences before they are let loose in the world in the future.


PSD honors Gowens as Teacher of the Year

Being the Teacher of the Year for Polk School District is a big honor, and for 2018 the school board and fellow educators gathered at the latest work session to celebrate a hard working teacher from Cherokee Elementary.

This year, the District Teacher of the Year is Jessica Gowens, who was chosen among the 11 schools throughout Polk County.

Jonathan Kirsh, Principal at Cherokee Elementary, said she was selected because of her dedication to her students and peers in being a team player.

"Teaching anybody or working with anybody it all comes down to relationships, and that's what really stands out the most with Mrs. Gowens, the relationships she has with her students, her team, or anyone that she works with," Kirsh said during the November work session where teachers were honored.

Gowens, currently a third grade teacher but having previously taught several other grade levels over the past years, but Kirsh said that she could work with any child and be a successful educator.

She received the award to a standing ovation. Gowens will now go on to represent the to the regional level against other District Teachers of the Year.

Board members and administrators offered their additional praise for all those who were named Teachers of the Year for 2018.

"We're so thankful during this season of Thanksgiving that we are able to gather here today and celebrate and recognize all these wonderful educators that we have in the room," Superintendent Laurie Atkins said. "It's not just our Teacher of the Year. I'm looking around and seeing our wonderful educators that we have supporting each other."

The Teacher of the Year is annually selected via nominations from other educators and then voted on by their peers, and forwarded for consideration for the honor at the district level.

Atkins said the award also came with a $500 gift from Shaw Hankins.

Cedartown High School's Teacher of the Year was Kim Allred, and Cedartown Middle selected Jennifer Tucker. Eastisde's Teacher of the Year was Alicia Calhoun, Northside sleected Janice Pace, Van Wert chose Rebecca Shelton, Westside was represented by Angie Ward, and Youngs Grove's Teacher of the Year was Nicole Bentley.

Rockmart Middle School chose Brooke Wolrey, and Rockmart High nominated and chose Christie Milton.

The Polk County College and Career Academy was represented by their Teacher of the Year, Suzy Ward.

During the November work session, the board also elected to table three policy items for 30 days for review before they are sought to be passed for the Polk School District, and also laid out the business before them this week during the Nov. 13 session happening after press time.

Among the action items on the list for the board to address include the honoring of the M.E.R.I.T. Award, financial reports and field trip requests, approving a surplus list of items and the superintendent's report on the graduation rate in Polk School District, and efforts to reduce the dropout rate.


Cedartown seeks to attract new businesses with department re-organization
• Tourism and Economic Development will be big focus in 2019 as employees come together in one effort

The City of Cedartown will be focusing efforts to attract new businesses and guests to the area in the coming year, and a first proactive step toward that goal was taken during the latest work session.

Cedartown Commissioners all agreed with a plan put forth by City Manager Bill Fann to consolidate efforts of several employees under one new group starting in the forthcoming new year, to be named the Tourism and Economic Development department.

It'll take the current positions held by Public Information Officer and Assistant City Clerk Aimee Madden, the Cedartown Performing Arts Center Director Oscar Guzman, and Main Street Director Ramona Ruark and combine their efforts to push forth new events and opportunities.

Fann said he'd already discussed the plan with commissioners on an individual basis, but that he was now ready to formally announce the plans as the city looks to formalize their 2019 budget. He also said that with the reorganization, Guzman would go from a part time to a full time employee in his role overseeing the CPAC.

"With their efforts combined and assisting each other, it will only make our existing events better and create more special events in coordination with special events committee we talked about," Fann said.

Organization of the committee is still underway, and those interested in serving can contact Madden at the city at 770-748-3220.

Fann said he envisioned the new special event committee and the current CPAC committee members to act in advisory roles, and that some legal documentation is still being completed in order to figure out how to handle alcohol sales at special events at the auditorium.

The new department and staff are slated to begin in the role starting in January 2019.

Madden, who will remain the city's Public Information Officer, will shed her title of Assistant City Clerk in the reorganization. She'll now serve as Director of the city's Tourism and Economic Development department.

Fann said that he expects great things to come from the department over the long term. He did caution commissioners to be patient in the short term and allow the group to lay down formal plans for the future.

Additionally, Fann said he does expect only a slight increase in spending, only because Guzman's move to a full time role with the city will increase his pay.

Commissioners were excited about the possibilities with the re-organization and new department.

"I like it a lot," Commissioner Matt Foster said.

Foster added that he appreciated the work put in by Fann and employees. Fann credited the idea to the city's Finance Officer Amy Orebaugh. He said the two worked on it together and "came up with a good plan."

Commissioner Dale Tuck added her own hopes that the city would soon take up an idea to add string lights above Main Street in downtown Cedartown in the coming months.

That was one of the ideas given to the cities by the Downtown Comeback visit from HGTV's Home Town stars Mallorie and Jim Rasberry along with Josh Nowell who came to visit in late September and tour Polk County thanks to the efforts of Blair Elrod at the Polk County Chamber of Commerce.

They recommended the cities string lights above the historic downtown corridors to attract more use of the area at night year round on Main and Marble Streets.

Fann also mentioned recent visits from state agencies and tourism officials, and the recent designation as a regional visitor's center for the Cedartown Welcome Center and Depot as some of the driving factors for the forthcoming reorganization as well.

He said one of those visits is set to bear fruit in 2019. The state's Tourism Product Development team are preparing a report on how they think Cedartown can best utilize current assets. It is expected to be completed early in the coming year.

Information about events and planning will flow through one department once everything is in place, instead of those who want more details or paperwork on holding events at the auditorium or taking part in festivals as vendors contacting several places before finding what they need.

Fann also anticipates an increase in money being spent locally as the department grows opportunities in the City of Cedartown as well.

"It streamlines a lot of what we're already doing," Fann said.


AREA CALENDAR OF EVENTS

The Stocks family is organizing their annual holiday meal for the community this coming Saturday, November 17 at the Nathan Dean Community Center on Goodyear Avenue in Rockmart. The event includes a meal, a coat drive and much more. Donations to help with the meal or of toys to give to local youth in need are welcome and appreciated. Those interested in helping out can contact Stocks at 678-719-1981.

Come take part in the annual Rockmart-Aragon Community Thanksgiving service, this year planned for Rockmart Presbyterian Church this Sunday, Nov. 18 at 6 p.m. The community choir is being formed to provide music for the service, and those interested can join the church for a 4:30 p.m. practice at Rockmart Presbyterian prior to its start. James Hannah the pastor at Aragon Methodist Church will be providing the message. An invitation is extended to all of the community to join together as we give thanks and praise.

Cedartown First United Methodist Church invites the community to come out and participate on Wednesday, Nov. 28 in their Hanging of the Greens starting at 7 p.m., to be preceded by a Chili Cook-off at 6 p.m. The church encourages all who want to participate to come enjoy the Christmas

season with them with their opening event of the season. They'll also hold a Christmas Concert featuring the church choir on Dec. 9 at 11 a.m., their annual Blue Christmas service on Dec. 23 at 11 a.m., Christmas Eve services at 6 and 11 p.m. on Dec. 24, and much more through the holiday season. Contact the church at 770-748-4731 for more information, or visit cedartownfumc.org. The church is located at the corner of Wissahickon Ave. and North College Street in Cedartown.

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 Care Giver's Support Group is being formed for support for care givers in the Rockmart and Aragon communities. The first meeting to determine interest is coming up on Monday, Nov. 26 at 11 a.m. Patsy Wade, the Bereavement Coordinator for Heyman HospiceCare will be leading the group. In her role she provides community resources, grief support, and education. The location for the group is at Rockmart Presbyterian Church, 306 S. Marble Street, Rockmart. Call the church to learn more at 770-684-7289.

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 e-mail at howardd999@yahoo.com for more information.

The American Legion in Rockmart is hosting their monthly all-you-caneat spaghetti dinner this Wednesday, Nov. 14. 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.

Christmas Back Home is coming to Cedartown on Saturday, Dec. 22 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Cedartown Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $15 for general admission, and $20 at the door for the event, featuring Scott Thompson, Brent McDonald and Friends. ticket sales going to the food pantry and clothing program at Cedartown Middle School. Students from the Middle school will also be part of the preshow festivities including, singing, musicians and drama. The ticket purchase code is "CMS27," and can be purchased at www.christmasbackhome.com.

Rockmart Presbyterian Church is pleased to announce the expansion of its Music Ministry. First welcome Paul Campbell BM,MM,BD as Music Director and Organist, second the New Allen Organ in the Chancel and third, new program opportunities. The adult choir is accepting new members in preparation for its Christmas Eve program featuring "Christus Natus Est" by Cecilia McDonald. Sectional rehearsal are scheduled through the week. A new children's program includes Children's Choir on Wednesdays at 4 p.m. (FREE and open to all who wish their children to learn to sing). There will be an orientation meeting for parents and children on October 10 at 4 p.m. In addition to directing the new children's choir, Mr. Campbell will be offering Piano Lessons along with Shellee Wilson BM, BA, ME, will be offering singing/vocal lessons. Private lessons have a monthly fee. For information to joining our music program please stop in and see Paul Campbell at Rockmart Presbyterian or call him at: 404-312-7801.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 marthadye@ngumc.net for more information or questions. The church also updates weekly on their website at rockmartumc.org.

The next West Georgia Spay/Neuter Clinic is coming to the Cedartown-Polk County Humane Society again coming up this Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. 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. Transports won't be scheduled again until Dec. 5 and Dec. 19.

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 presidentelect 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.

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 justusmin.org@gmail.com, or visit Justusministries.com.

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.

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.

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/

The Sit and Stitch is back to sewing at Rockmart First United Methodist Church in the fellowship hall. The group will meet the first and third Monday's of each month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Participants can bring any craft they choose or help with a ministry project this year. The group is making crochet or knitted caps for donation to Helping Hands. A pattern will be provided and the group has crafters who can help those in need of instruction. Bring a sack lunch. Coffee or tea provided. Any questions please call Madeline Brown 678-435-5032.