A special election is coming up in November to decide who will take over the seat vacated by Hal Floyd on the Polk County Board of Education at the beginning of the month.
But for the time being, a former educator in the district will be taking over the position on the school board through the end of the year.
The rest of the board voted unanimously to appoint retired educator and administrator Judy Cagle Wiggins to fill the vacated seat until the end of the calendar year.
Wiggins, a retired Polk School District educator and administrator with more than 33 years experience, most recently served as an interim principal. She said she was excited to take over the seat opened with the resignation of Hal Floyd last week.
"Polk School District has been in my blood, it's all I know. I've worked at almost every school in the district, worked with kids Pre-K all the way through high school," Wiggins said. "I'm real excited, it's certainly an honor to fill in a seat that was formerly filled by someone like Hal Floyd. He was absolutely the best person for this job."
She said she was also ready to get to work on several issues over the next months, including a
decision to hire a new superintendent in the coming months.
Wiggins will have to give up the seat if she chooses not to run for the open spot on the Board of Education during the November special election to be a Rockmart-area representative. She said she hasn't decided whether she will qualify to run on the special election ballot.
"It's possible I might decide to run," Wiggins said. "I'm looking into all it right now and will prayerfully try to make the right decision for Polk School District and for me, but mainly for Polk School District. The district's success is what matters most to me."
Qualifying to get on the ballot as a candidate opens on Aug. 21 during regular period for upcoming 2017 municipal elections.
Floyd gave up the District 6 seat after only 7 full months in office after he learned of nepotism rules that would have prevented him from continuing to serve, or his daughter in law having to give up a promotion to an administrative position.
What to do about providing better fire service in the unincorporated areas of Polk County has been a long standing question for both voters and commissioners alike.
Twice a referendum on putting a paid fire department in place have gone on the ballot, and twice it has been defeated. Plans have been drafted several times with potential figures for cost of staffing paid firefighters to work alongside volunteers.
Yet Polk County is no closer to having a paid fire department than they were when first looking at how to fund the issue back in late June after their latest work session on Tuesday night.
All but Commissioner Stefanie Drake Burford took part in discussions that lasted for more than an hour and a half and went through a variety of scenarios of how the de-
partment might be funded in the future if paid firefighters are incorporated into the department in the coming years.
By the time commissioners asked all of their questions and County Manager Matt Denton and Assistant County Manager Barry Akinson finished providing as much information as possible, commissioners were left ultimately with one decision: what direction do they want to take going forward.
It's a decision they have to make soon, since they'll be required before the end of the month to vote on the county's millage rate for the coming tax bills, which has to be put in place by Sept. 1, and tax bills printed up.
The deadline for that decision is Aug. 30, and commissioners will be meeting that night to set the rate and also decide on whether they will choose to fund a future paid fire department under a number of potential scenarios all with different outcomes for the future of fire service locally.
If they vote to approve a special service district be put in place for the areas where the Polk County Fire Department is currently responsible for response - and including the City of Aragon - property owners will essentially get an extra tax bill in the mail for additional tax burden placed on each property based on its value.
That millage rate could be as low as one mill, or as high as four-plus mills depending on which plan commissioners decide will fit the best for the future of the department.
Akinson began the conversation with one undisputed fact all commissioners agreed upon without any doubt: the fire department needs some form of paid help, whether it be part time, full time or a mix of the two.
"I would hate to roll up on a scene today and wonder if anyone was coming to help me," he said. "It's a daunting thing to have to face, and I know I wouldn't want to. But in my mind, that's the thing we have to solve in whatever form it takes."
Akinson said the county will also have to make capital investments for stations as well.
"No matter how you put this thing together, or whatever the plan becomes or goals you set, we're looking at somewhere around five mills of new service that the county would have to be willing to take on eventually," he said. "So the issue becomes how fast can we get started, what does the first step look like and at what funding level, and then agreeing on an end game."
Akinson said the county still needs to figure out what fire service will look like five, ten and twenty years in the future when it comes to funding and what level of service the commission decides to fund in the near future and later on as part of that end game discussion.
He laid out several scenarios under which that could be accomplished, but never waivered from his ultimate point that without some form of funding increase, no paid firefighters can be hired.
Akinson cited first what the county needs in order to achieve the funding levels for a paid fire department at outlined in what had been submitted to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the SAFER grant, which is coming closer to an announcement as more information has been sought again according to both Akinson and Polk County Public Safety Director Randy Lacey.
Lacey, who in his role is also the fire chief for the current all-volunteer department, said it was his understanding in previous conversations the county was ready to move forward with figuring out the funding for the fire department and accepting the SAFER grant if awarded.
However Jennifer Hulsey pointed out that was under the previous plan to place fees on tax bills for fire service based on whether it was a residence, a commercial property or agriculture facility like a chicken house or barn, or industrial facility. Fees under the previous funding plan would have been flat for the categories after initially.
"Randy (Lacey) definitely needs help and we definitely need to improve our service, but I'm not sure millage is the way to do it," Hulsey said.
Tillery added that "we have room for improvement, don't get me wrong, in our fire department. And me personally, I want a countywide fire department, but I'm not a point yet where I'm comfortable with the funding. Have we looked at every avenue within the county?"
"There's no doubt that we need it, and there's no doubt that our county taxpayers deserve it," Tillery said. "And I know that Randy (Lacey) and his staff have worked hard on it for three years, and a year on the application and working on it. But we went from one direction that unfortunately now we can't go, and I'm just trying to get my mind... I'm just not there yet."
That only leaves the option of the special service district and a millage rate increase, which the county would keep separate from the rest of the general fund balance since it would be specifically earmarked for the fire department.
So if the county is awarded the grant and the commission votes to accept the federal funds that can only go to help pay salaries, it would require a 1.3 mill levy on local property within the special service district, which would be both the 25 percent match needed for the grant during the first two years, and enough to cover the 65 percent match then needed in the third year.
Following that, an increase to 4 mills would cover the funding for salaries, operation and maintenance of the department under this hypothetical plan.
Akinson provided other hypothetical scenarios as well. The commission discussed funding levels of a single mill for just partial staffing in only a few of the stations with part time firefighters, to setting a four mill rate to fund the department without the grant and partial full and part time employees for each station.
Included in the variety of scenarios were plans to either move and replace fire stations, add new stations and renovate current stations.
Lacey said should the county choose to renovate stations, one that would require the most work would no matter the scenario is Station 8 at Esom Hill, which right now he said "I would not let my dog live in."
Akinson said one of the unknowns currently too is the lack of a fully formed plan for what to do about station coverage and overlap, considering that in order to get the benefits of an ISO rating decrease residents in the county, better mapping is needed to see what residences fall where as far as driving miles are concerned.
Currently, the plan revolves around planning stations within a five mile radius of each facility, which isn't the same as the driving distance.
Along with the mapping issue is also whether the county's proposal for the SAFER grant had been changed to comply with what Lacey and his staff had previously submitted and what later had been changed by request of grant administrators at FEMA.
Akinson and Lacey both were unsure of whether those changes had been made officially, which would determine how much the county might have to pay for salaries in the future for firefighters, and how many they might have to hire if the grant is accepted, if it is even awarded.
With potential figures for costs in hand and the need for more information, Hulsey and Scotty Tillery said during the work session they still felt like more was needed before they could make a true judgment.
However that was before the county learned that Tax Commissioner Kathy Cole wouldn't allow fees to be placed on tax bills according to previous remarks made during the last commission work session on the plan for a paid fire department.
"We were going in the direction of what those fees would be and how we would fine tune them," Tillery said. "But just walking out the door with this type of mill increase I think it would be a bad investment for our taxpayers because like what you (Akinson) said earlier, we don't know everything we're missing yet. If we start crawling into it, we won't miss anything. Whether it's a three year period or a five year period, hit the hot spots."
Before ending the conversation, Commissioner Chuck Thaxton did ask for potential scenarios on funding full time officers at a limited number of stations instead of the several options put forth by Akinson during the long discussion Tuesday night.
He added his thoughts too that something needed to be done to improve services, and it was time to quit putting the decision off or face another five years without the issue coming before the commission again.
Decisions over fire department funding have been on and off for several years in the county commission, which has sought to improve call times - currently averaging 20 minutes for a fire in the unincorporated areas of the county - and the ISO rating for residents, who in the area around Jackson Chapel Road are set at a 10 without automatic service guaranteed from either Polk County or neighboring Cave Spring.
The question over whether to fund the fire department comes as the board was also told in past weeks in the Polk County Police Department audit results that better funding for salaries and manpower needs were the main complaints of officers in the department by an overwhelming majority.
The skies will darken during the middle of the day all across the country - but not totally over Polk County like in some places not too far north - as a solar eclipse takes place in this coming Monday.
Events are being planned for the upcoming eclipse, set to start around 11:45 a.m. Eastern time on Monday, Aug. 21, and conclude later in the afternoon, with local libraries getting involved in public education and local schools already de-
ciding to keep students for a little longer than normal.
Since the eclipse's totality won't be until around 2:30 p.m. on Aug. 21, interim Superintendent Greg Teems said that it's a matter of safety for local students to stay for 30 minutes longer.
He said that the move is two-fold: it provides assurances to parents that students won't be out on the road in buses while drivers might be distracted by the eclipse, and that students will all have the special glasses over their eyes if they are outside during schoolbased events during the hours while the sun is being blocked out.
"Our biggest concern was that we don't want our kids at home not being supervised and then go out and look up without any protection over their eyes," Teems said.
Teems added that Polk School District has ordered glasses for every student, and teachers will be adapting their lesson plans around the eclipse accordingly.
Local youth will have no issue with getting instruction during the eclipse, but what about adults unaware of what to do during the event?
Both the Cedartown and Rockmart libraries are taking up that task, but will have a limited number of glasses they'll be handing out for local residents during special viewing events at both locations.
Cedartown's library on East Avenue will hold a class on the eclipse at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 19 and will have a limited supply of glasses on hand free for the public. They'll also be holding a viewing event the following Monday during the day, with a broadcast of NASA's livestream of the eclipse available as the eclipse begins in the library's meeting room.
Outdoor events are also included, according to the library's Allison Robinson.
Rockmart's eclipse event at the library will also start with the livestream on Monday, Aug. 21. They'll have a limited number of glasses to hand out as well, said branch manager Sharon Cleveland.
The large screen viewing of NASA's coverage will conclude later in the afternoon.
Special glasses required for viewing the solar eclipse, even in it's partial pass over Polk County. Severe damage to the eyes will result in anyone who looks at the eclipse without special glasses, which can be purchased affordably at a number of locations around the county.
The local area is slightly too far south for it to be viewed as a total solar eclipse, but the entire path of the eclipse will cross the North American continent.
The sun can and will harm your eyes, even under normal conditions. But during the upcoming solar eclipse on Monday, it can do much worse.
Monday's event is the talk of the town, and while the temporary blotting of the sun is certainly an awe-inspiring spectacle, citizens eager to watch the eclipse should understand the various risks and precautions needed to avoid eye damage that prevents them from watching future eclipses -- or anything at all.
On August 21, the moon will assert its dominance
over the sun and create the solar corona-the bright ring that forms around the moon during an eclipse-before passing on.
Though briefly, the solar corona shines intensely enough to damage the eye's retinas, the part of the eye responsible for transmitting data to the brain, and can cause loss of central vision, color blindness, altered color vision, distorted vision, and blindness in extreme cases.
Victims of retinal burn may not experience damage or be aware of damage for hours, but those who suffer any of these symptoms after the eclipse are urged to check in with an eye doctor as soon as possible.
Eye damage is not guaranteed, nor is the damage promised to be permanent, but spectators are encouraged to practice caution in the form of eye-wear. Sunglasses will not protect viewers from the strength of the sun; Only certified eclipse glasses are to be used for the viewing. Eclipse glasses allow the passage of far less light than sunglasses, can be worn over regular prescription glasses, and are cost efficient. Stores like Walmart, Best Buy, and Target have eclipse glasses on sale for a range of $6-$12.
Eclipse glasses with scratches, scuffs, dents, or any age damage should not be used, and buyers should avoid counterfeit eclipse glasses by purchasing only from quality, trusted stores.
In the case of total solar eclipses, viewers do not have to wear eye protection as long as the moon is totally eclipsing the sun.
Once the moon begins to move out of the light's path, spectators should immediately return to using eclipse glasses . Watching the eclipse from television is completely safe, as with viewing from a planetarium.
Those looking for a more creative way to watch the eclipse may be interested in pinhole projectors. To forge a pinhole projector, acquire two sheets of paper and poke a tiny hole through one, ensuring the hole is smooth.
Holding the punctured piece of paper to the sun and allowing the light to flood through the hole will project an image of the eclipse onto the other sheet of paper at no risk to your eyes.
Georgia will see the largest percent of the moon eclipsed on its Northeast corners from 2:36-2:40p.m.
This coming Monday's eclipse will be the first coast to coast solar eclipse in almost a century, so be sure to remember the event with a positive outcome and be able to see those in the future by preventing a painful injury to the eyes.
Come enjoy a picnic next week with the Polk County Chamber of Commerce who will be hosting 14th district U.S. Rep. Tom Graves t Peek Park in Cedartown. The picnic starts at 11:30 a.m. this Wednesday, Aug. 16 and will be catered for those who wish to eat. Graves plans to give a quick legislative update on what is going on in Congress. Cost is $12 for Chamber members, $20 for nonmembers to cover catering costs. RSVP with the Chamber by this Friday at 770-684-8760 to participate, or register online at polkgeorgia.com or by email at email@example.com. There is no charge to partici-
Need to get an item onto the Area Calendar of Events? Email firstname.lastname@example.org today! All items must be in at least two weeks before the event to appear in the Standard Journal on time.
pate in the picnic if those wishing to attend don't want to partake in the meal.
The next spaghetti dinner at American Legion Post 12 will coming up this Wednesday night, Aug. 16 from 5 to 7 p.m. Meal is spaghetti, meatballs, garlic toast and salad for $5, all you can eat. This is open to the public. Trivia with Tom and Betty starts at 6 p.m. Participate for a chance to win free a dinner. Bring friends and enjoy the fun.
100 Black Men of Rome-Northwest, Georgia Health Initiative for Men and Women August 19th from 8-12PM Floyd County Health Department, at 16 E 12th St SE, Rome. Free screenings for blood pressure, glucose, cholesterol, prostate cancer, skin cancer, and vision will be offered. Also, breast exams, PAP smears, & dental screenings will be available, as well as mammograms by appointment. To make a mammogram appointment call: 706-509-6840. Door prizes, FREE healthcare seminars and refreshments will be served. For more information about the health initiative, call 706-291-9809.
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 Rockmartfarmersmarket.com for more information about vendors and upcoming classes.
Save the date now for the official ribbon cutting coming up at the Polk County College and Career Academy's new campus at Cedartown High School. Officials will gather on Aug. 28 for a ceremony. Check back in coming editions of the Standard Journal for more about the event.
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 brag.org for more information.
Cedartown First Baptist Church will hold their Fall Kickoff celebration during a two-day event starting on Saturday, Aug. 19 with a Tailgating party starting at 4 p.m., and worship with Dr. Daniel Heeringa, pastor of First Baptist Church of Houston, Texas. Following on Sunday, Aug. 20, there will be a 9 a.m. breakfast in the fellowship hall, worship services headed by Dr. Heeringa at 11 a.m. and a 6 p.m. concert with The LeFevre Quartet. Admission is free, all are invited to attend. A love offering will be taken up. Visit fbccedartown.org for more information or call 770-748-3120. The church is requesting help and volunteers for the Aug. 19, which will also include contests with prizes at the end of the event.
Help out the Polk County State Special Olympics team with their efforts to raise money by stopping by their produce stand in downtown Cedartown today. The stand - located at One Door Polk at 424 N. Main St., Cedartown - provides a variety of fruits and vegetables for sale with the proceeds going to support their practice costs, jerseys, and competition fees to compete at the State Special Olympics Masters Bowling competition in Warner Robbins in August. The stand is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and run by local volunteers. Call 706-302-0462 for more information.
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.
Polk Family Night at State Mutual Stadium for the Rome Braves is coming up on Sept. 2 as the Braves face off against the Columbia Fireflies. Get tickets by calling the Chamber at 770-684-8760 or email email@example.com for more on how to take part.
Ferst Foundation Community Action Team (CAT) meets the first Monday of the month at 5 p.m., alternately in Cedartown and Rockmart. Call 404-862-1273 for meeting location. Find out more about how to help improve childhood literacy in Polk County at ferstfoundation.org.
Christian Counselor and Life Coach Lyle Thomas, a Cedartown native, will present RealTalk, a highly interactive training that is fun and transformative for everyone from teenagers up. The oneday, interactive event is perfect for couples, parents and their teens, business owners, coworkers, friends, and anyone who would like to deepen the quality of their relationships at home and at work. The event will be held Saturday, August 12, 2017, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Polk County College and Career Academy at Cedartown High School. The cost is $10 and includes materials and lunch. To register, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rockmart's annual Riverwalk Festival on the Eurharlee is coming up in Oct. 21. Visit rockmartga.gov 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.
Get ready now for the annual Labor Day Bike Ride on the Silver Comet Trail in Cedartown. It'll start at the Cedartown Welcome Center in the Depot and run along the Silver Come Trail following an 8 a.m. registration on Monday, Sept. 4. Call the Welcome Center at 770-748-2090 for more information about the ride and how to participate, or email email@example.com.
The 43rd annual Flea Market at the Cedartown First United Methodist Church is coming up on Labor Day weekend! Mark calendars now for Friday, Sept. 1 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday, Sept. 2 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Don't miss a chance at getting house wares, furniture, clothes, toys, books and more.
The next West Georgia Spay/Neuter Clinic is coming to the Cedartown-Polk County Humane Society on Wednesday, Aug. 23. 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 first pickup date for the coming month is Sept. 6.
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 throughoutt he day. Those interested in a vendor space can contact Ramona Ruark at the Cedartown Welcome Center at 770-748-2090 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 678-757-4572 for more information.
The Polk County Beekeepers meets the first Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Cedartown Library 245 East Ave. Whether you are an experienced beekeeper, new beekeeper or want to learn all are welcome. For more information email email@example.com or visit tinyurl.com/polkbees.
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. This year's fair is scheduled from Tuesday, Sept. 12 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. Check back for more information in coming editions.
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 Rd. 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 nonperishable food, five items to pick from produce, eggs and milk and two items from frozen meats, breads and others will be available. ID is required. Limit of 2 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 Co. Department of Family and Children Services office, located at 100 County Loop Rd. 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 e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-877-210-KIDS. Visit www.fostergeorgia.com 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.