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Fired or resigned?
• Aragon mayor, council argue over Chief, K-9 handler departures

The City of Aragon has a new interim police chief, and the force is down to only three staff members after the most recent officer in charge Brad Loyd turned in his resignation.

Loyd came into work to start the week on June 16 and handed in a letter of resignation to Mayor Garry Baldwin, who afterward said that he had no clue the move was coming.

"It beats me (why he quit)," Baldwin said. "I'm still trying to figure it out."

But by the end of the Aragon City Council meeting on Thursday night, July 19, an answer was provided for why both Loyd and Aragon's K-9 Officer Gene Brown had both resigned from their positions.

By the end of that meeting, what started as questioning of the interim chief Allison Taulbee devolved into a shouting match between the council and Baldwin over why the two officers left their jobs, and whether it was voluntary or not.

Taulbee, appointed by Baldwin earlier last week when Loyd turned in his resignation, was asked about her past experience and how long of a gap she had in her law enforcement career after she admitted leaving the Rome Police Department via a resignation to avoid termination in 2017.

She'd recently joined the Aragon Police Department in 2017 as a part time officer, and fully joined the force when she took over a full time position in April.

She added that she had a lot of plans for working to protect both current and new residents of the city, and went over her law enforcement career that spans more than a decade and a half in several departments. She also earned a degree in criminal justice.

Taulbee at one point during her statement and questioning by the council addressed her resignation from the Rome Police Department, and gap in employment as a peace officer. She said that she was being written up for failing to respond fast enough to a call for an officer needing assistance in 2012, and chose to resign.

"They felt I didn't respond quickly enough," she explained, and added that audio and video from the incident was available for review by the council if necessary.

She also talked about her work

the Dekalb Police, the City of Brazleton's Police Department and her work for the U.S. Post Office as well.

Council members had questions about what happened during her previous service, and whether she was qualified to hold the chief's position at all as well.

At one point, Aragon's Municipal Court Judge Terry Wheeler got up to explain that officers usually jump from one department to another depending in their quality as an officer and what pay is being offered, and that not to look at Taulbee's record as negative since officers leave departments or are terminated.

During their questioning of Taulbee, the council also touched on another sensitive subject addressed briefly during the work session and discussed further in the council's meeting.

What should the city do with the working German Shepherd Nero?

The K-9, which joined the force just a few months ago as the new drug-sniffing officer for the Aragon Police Department, is now sidelined and spending a lot more time in a kennel at city hall instead of working out in the department.

Taulbee said during her questioning that she wants to keep Nero if at all possible, meaning the city needs to hire a new officer who can also be a K-9 handler and quickly 0r sell the dog to avoid it losing valuable training to another entity looking for a new pup to join their force.

She said it was likely "better off to sell the dog."

"I hate that, because not only am I attached to Nero, but it's another tool to eliminate the drug problem that is here in Polk County," Taulbee said.

She argued once taking the emotion out of the decision, council members would recognize the city can't at this time afford the short term costs of training a new handler, and the long term costs of caring for Nero and paying for veterinary bills.

Council member Judd Fee asked why the city couldn't just hire another officer to take over the position as a priority and get Nero back to work. Baldwin responded that a timetable for bringing on a new hire is somewhere around two months, and it might be too late to be able to get Nero back with a new handler and have him respond to commands and get back into his job of sniffing out drugs.

Losing that training before a new handler could be hired and become accustomed to Nero would mean the city would lose a total of $12,500, not including the platform. $7,000 of that was spent on Nero alone, along with $5,500 for handler training.

Nero for now has been kept at an outdoor kennel at city hall under the supervision of Public Works Superintendent Daniel Johnson, who got to take the German Shepherd out for a run around a city field for the first time since he was turned back over by his former handler, Gene Brown, on Saturday, July 14.

Johnson spent $450 last week of city funds as well to build a platform for Nero to sit on since he is being kept outdoors.

Baldwin, the council and Taulbee all praised Johnson for doing the job, and council member Debbie Pittman said she wanted to be sure that he was being compensated for taking care of Nero until a new handler.

"I don't mind doing my job," Johnson said of the work.

As the discussion continued over whether the city should sell the dog, or wait to find a new handler and avoid losing the valuable training it has already received. Council member Judd Fee was in favor of trying to keep the dog if at all possible considering the expense.

"We've spent a good bit of money, and now we've got egg on our face, and it's just my opinion, but is there no way that we can at least hire someone and make them sign at least a 1 year contract," Fee said. "It cost the city $12,000 and we're just totally out in the dark now."

After the council went back and forth on questioning of Taulbee's record as an officer and what to do about Nero, one local resident finally asked the obvious question: why not ask Brown and Loyd to come back to their jobs?

Upon answering that he would refuse to hire back Loyd and Brown, and tried to avoid a conversation about the potential to bring them back by pointing to personnel discussions that should have been kept private. They did call for an emergency meeting to discuss it with the city's attorney, Zach (Burkhalter,) and Baldwin. He told them that they would have to have candidates to consider, but Baldwin after Fee asked why they wouldn't be considered as candidates.

"It would take a personnel discussion to explain why," Baldwin said. "And first off, these gentleman weren't fired. They resigned."

The council decided otherwise, and began a line of discussion as to why Loyd and Brown left their jobs. Baldwin said "go ahead and tell Kevin (Myrick, Editor) and he can put it in the paper," which then prompted council member Debbie Pittman to launch into an explanation she said came from Baldwin himself behind closed doors.

"We were told that he (Baldwin) was going to can them, and they got word that they were going to be canned, they had no choice but to resign to not hurt their certification," Pittman said. "What would you do if someone was going to can you? Would you not resign, especially if you have families to take care of? Did you not tell us that?"

Baldwin tried to defend his position by citing the request from the council to investigate a matter later revealed during the argument between the council and the mayor.

"We were not guaranteed that," council member Amy Causey shot back, and Pittman then added "the word was out that you wanted to can them."

"I discussed with you all the options," Baldwin said, before he was shouted down again by several members that they were never given options as to what was to happen with Loyd and Brown.

Baldwin then requested that City Clerk Christie Langston provide a copy of an e-mail he chose to release to the Standard Journal from Judge Wheeler over an incident that happened in his courtroom involving a prisoner being left unattended in the room that also acts as the council meeting room at city hall.

His e-mail ordered that court would not convene without an officer present any longer, and mentioned no request for disciplinary action within.

He again stated that he had presented the council with options, which Causey then shouted back again "there were no options, there were no options, it was stated that they were going to be fired.... We never got that option."

As the argument continued, Pittman asked a question that Baldwin couldn't answer.

"Garry, let me tell you something. If it was you or your family being treated like that, and go ahead and smile," she said before her statement was cut off by Candace Seiz, who stated that it wasn't funny that both the officers were now out of a job.

"They have families," Causey added.

"And they are fantastic police officers," Seiz finished the statement.

Additionally, the council questioned why Brown was involved in the issue presented in the e-mail from Wheeler at all.

"He had nothing to do with it, and you said you weren't going to do anything to him," Pittman said. "But in the beginning you said you were going to can them, and then you had a change of heart, but you didn't have a change of heart... you have not have said anything until you reviewed it."

Causey added that "I will not sit on this council and not stand up for what is right for these gentlemen."

Baldwin did try to calm tempers and remind the council the situation was getting out of control, but one reply from Causey was "it's been out of control."

He tried to end the meeting by asking for a motion of some kind, and the argument continued as Baldwin replied to a response that the argument wasn't over by saying "I did not force anyone to resign."

Several comments overlapped one another at that point, and Baldwin also reminded the council of the legal jeopardy the city was now in for discussing the matter outside of executive session, where personnel matters are usually handled and kept confidential. The group also argued about the merits of the rules of the charter, giving Baldwin more power over personnel issues than the council has.

Baldwin later in the argument claimed that he had presented information to the council about what happened, and that before he could act further on what he'd found by looking at surveillance video and creating a timeline that Brown had already resigned.

"He abandoned that dog," Baldwin said before being shouted down by council members again that "he did not abandon that dog."

Seiz additionally said that if Brown and Loyd were given the courtesy to discuss it and not "threaten their jobs behind their backs, they got word of it and quit."

"If you would have just been open with them like should have happened, none of this would have happened," she said. "Instead of going straight for their careers."

Baldwin also backpedaled when he was asked directly whether if a full set of documents would be made available about his investigatory efforts into what happened in the courtroom incident, and said that he was only able to provide a timeline.

The meeting ended shortly after without any resolution as to what will happen with Nero, or what the future status of Loyd and Brown's jobs are.

Polk County Police Chief Kenny Dodd cited his concerns earlier in the week that with Aragon's department numbers having decreased again, it will be harder for his command to pick up the slack.

He said after hearing the news of Loyd and Brown's resignations that his officers will have to take up the increased workload of responding to 911 calls in the area, since scheduling issues will be a factor for the Aragon Police Department.

"They previously reduced the department to just a single officer, and that really increased the workload on my officers," Dodd said. "The people in Aragon pay county taxes, so we can't refuse them services. When they call, we have to go."


Current, former employees of Aragon speak out about Mayor
• Several see "micromanaging" and bullying tactics as problem, feel they are being targeted

Several current Aragon employees - who have asked to remain anonymous - have joined the list of former Aragon workers complaining about the city's mayor and his management practices.

The grievances, for the most part, mirror those of city employees who have already left their jobs saying Mayor Garry Baldwin targeted them and forced them to resign in order to avoid a bad review placed in their file.

This practice has caused a hostile work environment, they say, and causing workers to fear they'll be the mayor's next target if they disagree with him in any way.

Several described his actions as "micro managing," bullying and even goes so far as to watch them on security cameras on a daily basis.

Another said that "every

employee is scared of him." And a third added they watched Baldwin push at least four employees out of their jobs, telling them to resign or face "bad marks in their (employee) file" and would try to prevent them from getting a better job than the one they had.

One even told of how employees that Baldwin targets are forced out of their jobs, or face termination and use their personnel files to keep them from obtaining good jobs in the future.

A request was made for the personnel policy of City Clerk Christie Langston, who made it available for review.

The process is supposed to work that if an employee gets in trouble, a written reprimand of what happened goes into their personnel file if it doesn't require any further disciplinary actions. Oral reprimands aren't required to be recorded at all.

The personnel policy also gives the mayor great latitude to reduce salaries and demote employees for just cause with a written statement setting forth the reason why, plus suspension and dismissal.

One of those former employees who was threatened with a bad review but chose to resign instead said that he was given the option to resign, or be fired and have the bad review on his file. Oral reprimands aren't recorded at all.

Josh Ozment, former Code Enforcement Officer and Building Inspector, said when he first came on with the city he felt he was doing a good job and he was starting to make progress in clean-up efforts with the Aragon city limits. He at the beginning of his short tenure with the city reported directly to Baldwin and was mainly left t complete a tough job that "no one else wanted to do": clean up Aragon properties.

"I did my job, and I even took on other tasks," Ozment said. "I helped trap the beavers in the area, and worked to help out Animal Control."

Ozment's position with the city began to turn sour when he tried to force a local resident to remove a car from their property within 10 days, or be forced to lose the car since it had no registration on it.

After the car's owner complained, Baldwin then decided to shift responsibilities for Ozment under the purview of Public Work Superintendent Daniel Johnson. Before his departure from the city in late May, Ozment said he was threatened with a bad performance review after Baldwin decided to extend his probationary period from six to eight months.

Ozment said that Baldwin gave him a choice: be fired and keep the bad review on his record, which he was told would be used to prevent him from getting a better job with a different employer, or resign and have the review tossed out. Ozment said he chose to take the resignation.

"I chose to do it on my own, turning over my passwords and information and doing it the right way," Ozment said. "I hold no grudge with the city about it. I'm actually doing a lot better now."

In his position as Mayor and acting under Georgia's employer immunity law, so long as another employer thought Baldwin was acting in good faith, he could have used that bad performance review against Ozment and tell future employers about his inability to do the job, based on the reading of Georgia Code Section 34-1-4, which governs what employers can reveal.

However Baldwin's threat of employees could be interpreted as violating the immunity law if he were ever to reveal information like that to an employer, since he would have already threatened an employee with termination and bad references for not giving up their position.

In the city's own ordinance, performance reviews are confidential, and only be seen by the employee evaluated, the department head, the city clerk and the Mayor and Council members. Appeals are allowed and forwarded to the city council as of the current language in the personnel ordinance.

A hearing can be setup for employees who have been "demoted, suspended without pay, dismissed or who allege discrimination in the promotional procedures or lay-offs in violation of established policy."

They only have five days to appeal the decision to hear the appeal. It also establishes rules for notifications of the hearing, the hearing itself, and the results, all to happen within the month of the appeal being filed.

Ozment never had the option to appeal his firing and bad performance review since he resigned on his own.

Since he resigned in the spring, Ozment said he got a better job in Cartersville making twice the money.

He had two thoughts about his departure to add. The first was that he wished his departure hadn't happened the way it did.

"If they don't need me anymore, or can't afford me anymore, they should have said that," he said. "That's the only bitter part I hold against Aragon, is the way they used me and then discarded me."

He also wants Aragon residents to know their Mayor isn't doing his job.

"Everything is left up to Daniel (Johnson) to run that town, and to me he's not the person that needs to be overseeing the city of Aragon. The Mayor should be responsible," he said. "Everything is left up to Daniel to run that town, and to me he's not the person that needs to be overseeing the city of Aragon. The Mayor should be responsible."

The departure of employees after Baldwin took office began not long after in 2016, when former Financial Officer Hal Kuhn departed from his job.

He sent out a letter to both the Polk County Standard Journal and city officials and said his resignation was forced at the time since he didn't wish to serve under former city and court clerk Lori Dunn.

In that letter, he stated "After discussions with the Mayor concerning changes to the Finance Department, I was told to either comply with the changes or resign. I had no choice but to resign."

Kuhn's major reason for tendering his resignation was to avoid involvement with Dunn, citing serious concerns her past experience with the city's finances.

"To place an individual in a trusted position, whose past performance was a key factor in the City's financial crisis and major compliance issues, is too much of a financial risk," Kuhn's letter stated.

The bleeding has continued over the past year and a half.

Former City Clerk Sandy Norman, who was hired by former Mayor Ken Suffridge, served as City Clerk during two more administrations before Baldwin was elected after tumult within the city in 2016.

That's when things went down hill for her, and eventually she was forced to leave her job rather than accept a bad employee review last summer. She was in the middle of clerk training courses, and chose to complete them on her own.

That review, as reported at the time, was prompted by an e-mail Norman sent relaying her concerns about evidence in her possession relating to the investigation into former city and court clerk Lori Dunn.

Dunn resigned after she was placed on leave following the state of an investigation into her actions in March 2017 while she was in charge of the city's finances prior to her removal from the position in 2014.

She as well felt under constant pressure from Baldwin.

"He was a micro-manager," was Norman's one response to the way she felt treated by her former boss.

Norman now works as an educator at Rockmart High School. She completed her coursework with her own money and time to be certified as a city clerk earlier in the year.

Neither Norman or Kuhn elected to formally appeal their unfair treatment either prior to their resignations.

The complaints from former employees join the litany of current employees who are fed up with the way things are going with their boss, but are afraid of losing their jobs and being retaliated against if they stand up for themselves.

They are asking for local residents to help them by seeking to institute a recall vote against Baldwin, and elect a mayor who will treat them fairly.


County Commission votes down airport task order
• Runway extension project stopped for time being without approval of environmental, archeological study work.

What will happen with the county's airport runway extension project is still up in the air at press time after the Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 to reject a work order for additional studies to help the state save money on the project.

Commissioners Hal Floyd, Jose Iglesias, and Marshelle Thaxton voted down the new work order after they objected to use of landfill funds to shore up the cost of the match required by Polk County for the mostly state Department of Transportation-funded project.

During their July 18 meeting, County Manager Matt Denton explained the reason for the additional task order was to complete environmental and archeological studies to see if materials already on site can be reused to create a flat space and make the extension work

and help save money on what is now estimated to be an $8 million project before all is said and done.

"GDOT and our consultant identified some areas where the state can save some costs on materials," Denton said.

He added that with the request, the state wanted to see if fill dirt material on one side of the runway could be removed and added to another, thus reducing the amount the project will cost overall and not have to bring in additional materials to make a flat surface for the extension.

Before the decision to use the dirt is made, first there's a requirement to make sure it won't have a negative environmental impact on two stream s that run around the airport property, and a potential archeological site.

Denton didn't think the work is that extensive, and the task order cost would have only run $50,000 and been added onto the match the county must put up in order for the runway extension to be completed.

Commissioners had already voted to move the project forward with a task order for Holt Consulting Company on surveying that was projected to cost $68,500, but ended up coming in at $41,638. They then approved a second task order for design that was budgeted for just over $250,000, but came in at more than $226,147. A third small task order for boundary verification cost only $2,660.

Thus far, the county has spent $270,445.50 on the project of the $1.5 million match they guaranteed the state they would pay.

Commissioners voting down the task order came down to a discussion that has been had before: where is the money coming from.

Previously Denton had told the board – and himself and Commission Chair Jennifer Hulsey both added was also said in a phone call to each commissioner about the issue – a mix of 2014 SPLOST Economic Development money set aside, between $800,000 and $900,000, and the landfill account for whatever else is needed to make the $1.5 million match work out.

The hold-up is over the landfill money, and the issue of spending additional dollars out of the account or whether to leave it alone.

Floyd has said previously he doesn't want to touch anymore of the landfill funds as much as possible, and wants some of the money received annually from Waste Industries set aside in a trust fund for future generations to have available once the landfill is completely full in the next two decades.

He also has proposed that only $70,000 a month be used (or $840,000 of this year's $1.7 million payment) be used to help the budget, not the full amount as has been proposed in this fiscal year's revenue and expenditures still unapproved.

"I go around and around with the whole project, because I'm one of the guys who when you spend that amount of money, I want to know what the return on investment is going to be," Floyd said. "And while I'm very appreciative of the money that has been bestowed upon us to use for this project, I also wrestle with the question of because of the financial situation, is this a want or a need?"

He added that if it is merely a want, he would rather save the money and do something else. If it is needed, he wants to know the return on investment, and whether it will be good for the county in the long term.

Hulsey did try to overturn the board's decision and use her veto power, but it was pointed out by County Attorney Brad McFall that the chair's right to change a vote could only be used when it affirms a position, not turning one down.

Commissioner Scotty Tillery said that if the board was going to refuse to do the project now, that someone needed to step forward and make a motion to stop it. He also pointed out that it would be a waste of the money taxpayers have already spent.

"Every time we come to a meeting, there's something different," Tillery said. "We (everyone on the board) needs to get educated on what's going on, with the plans and whether or not we want to do it... the point is there's a large $8 million project sitting here that they (the state DOT) is anticipating Polk County is going to take. There's another airport somewhere that can use it, and they're trying to get in line as well. And if we're not going to do it we need to let them know."

He added that "it's been going on for six months. We've already passed a $300,000 payment (actually $250,190,) and now we're dragging our feet."

Denton said the work could be used for a future project when asked by Commissioner Chuck Thaxton again about the request, but pointed out some of the work would probably have to be updated.

That's only if the county is able to get funds again for the project if they turn down the state money now.

The runway extension was announced by Governor Nathan Deal in January. He came to Polk County to visit Cornelius Moore Field in a helicopter later during the state's legislative session, signing the 2018 fiscal year's amended budget here with the funds included within to help with the project.

Commissioners are getting a second chance at the work order in a meeting held Monday after press time. Check online at Polkstandardjournal.com for more on how that vote goes.


A lot of fun at Homespun

The halfway point of the summer has come and gone as Homespun 2018 wrapped up a weekend of all kinds of fun for all in Rockmart.

Now that the fireworks show has finished, and the duck race ran its course through a small stretch of Euharlee Creek, everyone now has to face the coming heat and hope the brief wisp of autumn air on the way will last more than a few seconds.

It was slightly cooler than the normal summer heat on Friday evening for the start of the 41 st annual celebration, with quite a number of booths ready for local residents and visitors alike to peruse.

"We had 89 vendors for this year's Homespun, which is a new record," Polk County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Blair Elrod said.

She did add that an early morning storm blew through just in time for the festival to continue. Usually organizers are dreading and then contending with rain showers during the event.

"We're thankful the storm passed and it wasn't during festival hours," she said. "It was great to see everyone out and enjoying Homespun."

She added her additional thanks to all the volunteers, officials, vendors and others who put in countless hours of work to help make the festival a success.

Though Friday night is always fun at Homespun, it was Saturday that really drew the crowd.

It kicked off with the annual Homespun 5K in downtown Rockmart.

Then came the annual Homespun Parade featuring a show from the Shriners, local youth and plenty of vehicles behind it was headed up by Grand Marshals Garry Baldwin and Ken Suffridge, the current and a former Mayor of the City of Aragon.

That then gave way to the opening act of the day, dancers from Ballet Garden showing off their moves to the Homespun audience around the stage, along with numerous other bands and singers who provided entertainment throughout the day, at least until the 2 p.m. duck race.

People lined Euharlee Creek to see the event put on as a fundraiser by the Rotary Club of Polk County, held as a fundraiser for the organization who then contributes to a variety of local causes.

The number that matched the ticket for the first duck in won $1,000, and $100 went to the winning ticket that matched the final duck across the finish line. Harold McDurmon won first place with his winning ticket with the $1,000 duck, and Terry Ganoe won $100 with his ticket earning him the last duck in.

Additional concerts continued through the afternoon until Redneck Romeos took the stage to wrap up Homespun in Seaborn Jones Park, but the event really was capped off

by the annual fireworks show over the City of Rockmart.

Elrod said next year she and organizers are going to work toward getting additional space, vendors and sponsors to increase Homespun even more.

So now that Polk County is entering the second half of summer, everyone can at least take a sigh of relief that maybe the heat won't last too much longer. But there's still more than two months left before the season ends, and fall finally arrives for Rockmart's next festival.


Downtown Welcome Center earns regional visitor information distinction from state

There are a lot of people coming through the doors of the Cedartown Welcome Center every year. By count of officials who keep up with the thousands of names in the welcome center's guest book, they put the figure at somewhere around 10,000 people a year enjoying the city's hospitality.

Some drive from as close as Marietta or Tallapoosa, and some as far away as Lyon, France, and Vancouver, Canada.

Whether it's stopping in for a map of the Silver Comet Trail, picking up a local events calendar, or just popping in for a cold drink of water, the Welcome Center serves as a hub of hospitality and information. And that hub just got a little larger – not in physical size, but in networking opportunities and community partnerships.

The Cedartown Welcome Center was recently named by the State of Georgia Department of Economic Development as a Regional Visitor Information Center (RVIC).

There are approximately 60 RVICs in the entire State of Georgia, with the closest ones being in Douglasville and Cartersville. "This is wonderful news for Cedartown," said Welcome Center Manager and Main Street Director Ramona Ruark. Going forward, Ruark explained, visitors and Silver Comet Trail riders will see new Georgia branded items in the center as part of the recognition which includes a plaque and Georgia floor mats and decals. The designation also gives Cedartown and Polk County the opportunity to provide Georgia branded merchandise to local businesses at cost.

"This is a major step in our goal to get more visitors to our beautiful city," said Cedartown City Commissioner Dale Tuck. "My thanks to Ramona Ruark and everyone involved

in the RVIC designation process for continued efforts to promote tourism in Cedartown."

Requirements to become a RVIC include: a permanent brochure rack with at least 50 percent of materials supporting Georgia cities and tourism attractions outside of Polk County, a minimum of a five-day operating schedule, public restroom, located near a highway, open one full year, a full-time manager and appropriate continued education and cross-training for on the duty manager among others.

Connor Hooper, former Manager of the Tallapoosa Visitor Information Center, brought the idea of turning the Cedartown Welcome Center into an RVIC to Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Blair Elrod who reviewed the qualifications and determined that the Cedartown Welcome Center fit the bill.

"The requirements to be named a RVIC were many and after looking at the Polk County community, I knew the Cedartown Welcome Center would be the best fit," Elrod said.

Hooper, Elrod and Ruark were interviewed by the Georgia Department of Economic Development and toured a representative throughout the center, telling the history of Sterling Holloway, Cedartown and the Depot itself.

Hooper, who lives in Cedartown and is now the Assistant City Planner for the City of Cartersville, knew the importance of having the distinction, "Having a RVIC in Polk County will be instrumental in forming partnerships with other communities throughout the state," he said.

Information for this story was provided by the Polk County Chamber of Commerce and the City of Cedartown's Public Information Officer Aimee Madden.


AREA CALENDAR OF EVENTS

Join the members of the Cavalry Assembly of God in Cedartown to celebrate 50 years of faithful ministry conducted by the Rev. Jerry and Carole Buttrum this Sunday, July 29 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m., with lunch following. The church is located at 300 Canal St., Cedartown.

Take part now in helping local youth continue their education by purchasing a ticket today for the Mamie Hammock Scholarship Banquet, coming up on Aug. 25. The event starts at 6 p.m. at the Cedar Lake Christian Center in Cedartown. Tickets are $20, and can be purchased from April Welch by calling 678-988-1499, or contacting Estella McDermott at 706-506-8924.

The Bold and Beautiful Red Hatters is hosting "A Journey in Time," and strap on some high buttoned shoes for a family fun night on Saturday, Sept. 15 at 7 p.m. at the Polk County College and Career Academy campus at Cedartown High School. Tickets are $15. Wear the best costume from the 1860s to 1960s and be eligible to win prizes. Dance the night away with Dink Wilkes acting as DJ. Call Queen Patricia Smith Cannon at 770-546-4717 or Queen Sheila Angel at 770-883-3201 for more or the purchase tickets. All proceeds will be used for charitable giving.

Come hungry for the American Legion Post 12's

Journal upcoming spaghetti dinner this Wednesday, August 15. Meal of spaghetti, meatballs, garlic toast and salad served from 5 to 7 p.m., $5, allyou-can-eat. All proceeds go to veteran and children's charities. Enjoy a great meal with the American Legion.

Rivers Alive is coming up later this summer in September, and officials are asking volunteers to mark their calendars now. Come take part in the annual cleanup of local streams and waterways in Rockmart on Sept. 22, with more details to come soon. Contact Randy Cook for more information at rcook@cedartowngeorgia.gov or call 678-246-1083.

Get tickets now for the upcoming Farm to Table on Marble, set for Oct. 6. The dinner will take place in downtown Rockmart in the outdoors, with tickets starting at $60 for individuals or $225 for a whole table of six, stretching 200 feet in total. The meal will feature locally grown products, and will start at 6 p.m. Purchase tickets now by contacting Shonna Kirkpatrick at shonnakirkpatrick@gmail.com, Dan Bevels at dbevels@floyd.org, or to take part as a sponsor by emailing director@polkgeorgia.com.

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.

The Rockmart Youth Football Association evenings of drills and conditioning continues through the summer from 7 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday nights at Hilburn Field in Rockmart. Ages 5-12 are eligible to practice. Signups for all Polk County football players can also be completed while drills are being held at Hilburn Field. Call Ruben Galvan at 706-346-8682 or Dante Jones at 770-878-8282 for more information.

The Polk County Democratic Committee meets on the second Saturday of every month at 9:30 a.m. During even numbered months the group meet at The Rockmart Library at 316 N. Piedmont Ave., Rockmart, and during odd numbered months the party meet at the Cedartown Welcome Center, 609 Main St., Cedartown. All are welcome to take part! Check out more information at the Polk County Democratic Committee at facebook.com/Polk-County-Democratic-Committee-GA-850067035038585/.

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 this Wednesday, July 25, 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 Aug. 8 and Aug. 22.

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 Latterday 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 will meet at a new day this year 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., starting on Aug. 6, 2018. 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.

The Kiwanis Club of Cedartown encourages members to take part in weekly meetings on Fridays at noon at the Cherokee County Club. Potential new members are asked to get in touch with Rhonda Heuer, Club Secretary at 770-748-1016 to learn more about how you can take part in making the community a better place. Annual dues are required for membership. Visit kiwanis.org to learn about the club.

Check out the Rockmart Farmers Market at the Silver Comet Trailhead behind Southcrest Bank on Thursdays from 2 to 6 p.m. Visit Rockmartfarmersmarket.com for details about vendors and upcoming classes.

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.

The Ferst Foundation 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.

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.

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 lowincome 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 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 nmvideo@bellsouth.net.

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.

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.

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 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 polkcountybeekeepers@gmail.com or visit tinyurl.com/polkbees.

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