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PSD approves safety policy to increase in campus security

The Polk County Board of Education is keeping the well-being of students and staff their top priority, and the group's newly approved safety policy sees a large focus on the prevention of violence and terror.

"This is a brand new safety policy," Superintendent Lauri Atkins said. "It laid on the table for 30 days. We did have one revision and one correction."

In the document, officially known as Policy EBB, the board acknowledges their responsibility in providing a safe learning environment for all students, staff, and visitors who spend time in the district's schools and vehicles. The policy suggests the best way to honor that responsibility is promoting a culture of awareness.

"The most effective action we can take is to create a culture of awareness and a responsibility to report by staff, students, parents, law enforcement community, and mental health providers," the

document reads. "Under the direction of the Board of Education, the Superintendent shall cause to be developed a written School Safety Plan for each school, which will be annually updated and implemented."

Each plan will have the goal of curbing school violence, outlining efficient means of responding to incidents that do manage to occur, preventing violence by ensuring threats are immediately reported, and providing an overall safe learning environment. The plans will also address natural disasters and other hazardous events while considering the input of students, teachers, law enforcement, and others.

"The School Safety Plan should describe how training and technical assistance provided by the Georgia Emergency Management Agency shall be accessed," the policy states. "Such training and assistance may include, but not be limited to, crisis response team development, site surveys and safety audits, crisis management planning, exercise design, safe school planning, emergency operations planning, search and seizure, bomb threat management, and model school safety plans. Designated school administrators and appropriate staff will participate in all emergency training sessions."

While only appropriate staff will receive training, all employees will be expected to report all actually occurring violence and violent threats to the school principal or superintendent immediately. Failing to do so could have genuine repercussions for staff, including disciplinary actions up to termination.

The policy, which was unanimously approved, is the latest in a long line of safety implementation the board has made in the past year. The creation of the Polk School District Police Department and the implementation of new fencing and other security are a few of the most notable.

Additional policies approved

Alongside creating new policies, the board made amendments to a few existing ones during their April 9 combined session. Since local legislation has not been set by the Georgia General Assembly regarding the compensation of school board members, the group took the matter into their own hands and approved a per diem allowance of $75 for each day of attendance at official board meetings, work sessions, and committee meetings when serving as a representative of the board. No Board member shall be paid for more than one meeting in any one calendar day.

Travel fees and other actual allowable expenses incurred from traveling as a representative of the board will be reimbursed, but members must submit their travel expenses to the superintendent. All compensation must be paid solely from local school tax funds, and an annual $2,000 allowance will be allotted for board member travel, hotel, and meal reimbursements, with conference and registration fees paid by the system.

The item was unanimously approved alongside an amendment to Policy JCDAA regarding student tobacco use. In accordance with the "Georgia Smoke-Free Air Act of 2005," restrictions on school-ground tobacco use have been extended to include vaping, juuling, and other electronic means of consumption.

"This policy was updated to include the new verbage of vaping, e-cigarettes, juuling-all of our current terms," Atkins said. "To make sure we have this accurate and correct in our policies and student handbooks in the upcoming year as well."

Technology purchase for RHS coming

The board has also been updating the schools' technology one step at a time, and it was Rockmart High School that saw $11,460.80 approved for networking switch updates during the group's latest meeting.

"We had recently had a quote to update the switches at CHS, and now it's time to update the technology switches at RHS. There's a large volume that goes on there," Atkins said. "So, Progressive Communications had presented their quote of $11,460.80, and I recommend the board approve this quote."

Those switches are a fundamental part of keeping devices connected to local computer networks, and when they become old or damaged, both employees and students run the risk of losing connectivity. Many county employees were left unable to work online thanks to a network switch crash some months back, though they have been updating their hardware since.

The group also agreed to an extension of their annual contract with internet service provider Parker Fibernet, and while the schools naturally need internet, the contract extension was also to meet the requirements set by eRate.

The program makes telecommunication services more affordable by supplying discounts to schools and libraries, but in order to receive funding, districts must meet the requirement of annual renewal with their ISP.

Miscellaneous

The board also agreed to surplus a selection of 10 used buses and numerous house items they managed to salvage during their acquisition of a house neighboring Rockmart High School. The home needed to be taken down due to extensive termite damage, but undamaged doors, vinyl windows, ceiling fans, a heating unit, cabinets, and much more were deemed surplus-worthy.

Also, students from both Rockmart High and Cedartown High will be participating in the Georgia Future Farmers of America Convention later this month thanks to the board approving the field trip to Macon.

Those interested in keeping up with the board can find more information at https://www.polk.k12.ga.us/Board.


Cedartown approves agreement for new solar farm

Inman Solar will soon be adding more electrical generating capacity to the City of Cedartown.

Cedartown City Commissioners during their April session voted to approve measures to move forward with an intergovernmental agreement between the city and the Cedartown Development Authority to transfer 21 acres of city-owned property for use as a new solar farm.

The land, adjacent to the former state detention center that remains empty between Sixth and Tenth streets, will be leased for $25,000 annually.

City Manager Bill Fann said the planned solar farm will be "four times the size of those we've done previously."

"It'll interconnect with Georgia Power's lines on Sixth or Tenth Street, we're not sure about that yet," Fann said.

The intergovernmental agreement approved by the commission allows for the Cedartown Development Authority to move ahead with a lease agreement to last for upward of 35 years. The agreement will also allow for Inman Solar to begin site preparations on the land.

Commissioners approved the agreement without any issues during their April 8 session.

Inman Solar already operates several solar farms within Cedartown, including connected sites at Cedartown's Northside Industrial Park, where they also installed a large battery for testing in partnership with Washington Gas.

The company additionally has two solar sites in the Aragon area and at least one in Rockmart as well.


PSD celebrates Ag building grand opening

There's a new facility for students to utilize within the Polk School District now coming open for business for the first time after months of construction wrapped up and gave officials the chance to see the new Agricultural Facility at Rockmart High School inside and out.

Students won't officially be moved into the building and using it full time until the start of the coming calendar year after the summer break ends, but that doesn't mean they won't get a chance to enjoy all the space they now have to become better farmers in the future.

Polk School District officials invited community leaders to come and celebrate the opening of the new Polk County College and Career Academy Agricultural Facility on the campus of Rockmart High School during an April 12 luncheon and ribbon cutting ceremony.

Superintendent Laurie Atkins heaped praises upon Board of Education members, the Polk County Cattlemen's Association, R.K.R. Construction and most importantly of all, the agriculture students who the facility was built to help increase their opportunities in the years to come.

"This building will be a multipurpose building," Atkins said during opening remarks welcoming all to the new facility. "This will not only be a classroom for our students, but a classroom as well for our Young Farmers classes, where

the community will come in and have the opportunity to grow and learn in (the program.) It'll be a place we can rent out as a venue, it'll be a place where we have a show arena and a place were we can hold meetings. This will be a place not just for our school, but for our community."

That meeting area is one particular spot Atkins said she hopes people will utilize in a variety of ways since it will be available for rent for organizations. That process will work just like The Hon Company's Community Meeting Room at the Cedartown campus of the PCCCA.

Additionally, classrooms and catering kitchens are available in the space, but the real centerpiece of the building is the two-thirds or so of the facility that is covered arena space.

"This is a show arena that we can't find anywhere around," Atkins said. "It's fantastic. It can host small rodeos and show teams."

She added the facility will definitely come in handy for the ever-growing number of youth who participate in Polk School District's Livestock Show Team that brings together students from both side of the county.

"We're very proud of it," Atkins said.

The final price tag for the facility was $1.2 million — fully equipped — for the various classroom, banquet room and show arena spaces all grouped together. The building is mostly of metal construction throughout, but architectural details do match the buildings right across the roadway for the main campus area of the high school.

"This has been something the community has looked forward to for our kids," Atkins said. "It's not just a great day for our schools, but our community, because it's a building that can be used for educational purposes with our agriculture program, but also for education for our community. For adults to come and learn about the agriculture processes in the community, to come and learn how to do various things like canning and beekeeping, and things of that nature through our young farmers program. We're excited for Polk County today. "

The construction that began at the start of last school year wrapped up in around 8 months despite weather delays at times, and will officially open for student use starting in the 2019-2020 school year.

"We are so thankful to R.K.R. for staying with the process even through all the rainy seasons that we had," Atkins said.

Assistant Superintendent and PCCCA CEO Dr. Katie Thomas added during presentations ahead of lunch the positive outcome of the new facility coming into use will be what students get out of it in the years to come, and the chances to grow in the educational opportunities within the state's largest industry.

She additionally pointed toward recent praise in the state's positive review of the College and Career Academy program as how Polk County continues to provide a "model for the state" in growth and accessibility.


RHI seeks help finding new home after roof leak

The Rockmart Homeless Initiative should be celebrating their first anniversary this month with continued hopes of success in helping people get back on their feet in the coming year at their Resource Center on South Marble Street.

Instead, they are scrambling to find a new home somewhere in the area as soon as possible in order to continue their mission helping people.

RHI Board Member Victoria Millhollan said the organization has boxed up and covered as much of their supplies as they can after a roof leak was discovered the weekend of April 6 and 7 which caused water damage in key areas of their center. Their bathroom, supply closet and an area they setup for cots to allow for clients at the Resource Center to take daytime naps all saw water leaks from the roof in recent days.

"We're trying to protect everything," Millhollan said. "We've tarped everything, and the tubs of our supplies have tarps covering them as well."

She explained that roof work on a neighboring building pushed water onto the roof of their building during an early April rainstorm, and the leaks came pouring into the resource

center and down the walls. Ceiling tiles fell in, water soaked their carpet and made the center not safe for their clients to stay inside.

The organization announced their closure for the time being to the public on April 7.

For the time being, Millhollan said that they are going to cut down their availability to the community to two days a week, and only a couple hours at a time where they will hand out supplies outside of their Resource Center, but won't allow anyone in.

"We can't have anyone in the center because it is unsafe," Millhollan said.

She added that an active search is underway now for a new location, though the initial response of volunteer efforts to find a place to rent have been unsuccessful. Millhollan asked that anyone who knows of a space they may be able to take over either temporarily or on a permanent basis should call her at 770-900-3699.

She additionally is hopeful that repairs might be made to the building soon and they may be able to continue operations without having to move, but said no timetable was immediately available at midweek.

The Rockmart Homeless Initiative continues onward despite their recent setback through donations financially and of supplies entirely through the community. Millhollan said those interested in helping can find more information at their Facebook page, facebook.com/RHI.NFP/.

The organization looked to celebrate their first anniversary within their resource center this month after they first opened to those in need of help on April 20, 2018. They had over the year expanded their service hours a few days a week at a time.

RHI also partnered with {span}Abundant Life Community Center to provide a Cold Weather Shelter in the Rockmart area for those who are homeless and without any warm place to stay on nights where temperatures dipped well below freezing.


Judge: Arrest warrants stand against Gamble
GBI agent testifies all five people in Polk County quadruple murder, including survivor, were shot in head.

Daylon Delon Gamble

Polk County Superior Court Chief Judge Meng Lim denied a challenge to murder warrants issued for Daylon Delon Gamble during a preliminary hearing on Monday.

Gamble is accused of the shooting five people — killing four — in two homes on January 24. Those killed were Helen Rose Mitchell, 48, and Jaequnn Davis, 19, both of 503 Williamson St., and of Arkeyla Perry, 24, and Dadrian Cummings, 26, both at 319 Rome St. in Rockmart.

After the hearing, Lim ruled there was probable cause in issuing the warrants and enough evidence to proceed in the case during the April 8 court appearance.

During the hearing, GBI Special Agent Amanda Carter laid out some of the evidence against Gamble.

The 13-year veteran of the GBI provided an account of what happened through questioning from both Polk County District Attorney Jack Browning and Defense Attorney C. Samuel Rael.

Carter stated that Gamble, along with Cummings and Perry and two other witnesses at the Rome Street address, had been at the house together up until around 7:44 p.m. that night. Cummings' cousin, Deandre Cummings, was the last to see the two alive after he left to go get milk for his kids, according to Carter.

All five people, including the lone survivor Peerless Brown, were shot in the head, Carter told the court.

When Carter testified Perry had been shot five times, a person there who was at the hearing in support the victims stood up and screamed obscenities at Gamble.

Brown was interviewed twice by investigators, including a session with Carter and Rockmart police detectives. He was able to identify Gamble and knew him very well — the accused shooter used to babysit him as a child.

Witnesses in the case said Gamble was believed to be under the influence of alcohol and drugs at the time of the crime, Carter told the court.

Ballistic evidence and a gun found after the crime was committed are still being processed by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's Crime Lab and results of testing aren't yet available.

Gable's attorney asked why a man who was seemingly enjoying an evening with his friends would then turn and shoot five of them and then asked if ballistic evidence found at the scene specifically tied his client to the shooting.

A judge issued a gag order following Gamble's arraignment not long after his arrest in Indiana and extradition back to Georgia. Although, Browning told the court he expects to put the case before the grand jury when then reconvene on April 22.


AREA CALENDAR OF EVENTS

Join the Second Baptist Church in Cedartown for their annual Easter Egg Hunt on April 20 starting at 11:30 a.m. There will be free food, bounce houses, egg hunts, and prizes for all age groups of kids. Register and find more information at www.sbcedartown.org.

The Ladies Club 2nd Annual Old Fashioned Easter Day event is coming up on Easter Sunday, April 21 at 2 p.m. at Cedar Springs Missionary Baptist Church headed up by Pastor James Wright. The Church located at 126 Cedar Hill Street in Cedartown will feature an opportunity for an egg hunt with American Legion Post 524 for younger children, a musical performance, refreshments and more.

An Easter Sunrise service is coming to Peek Park on Sunday morning, April 21 at 7 a.m. at the Pavilion on the Jule Peek Avenue side of the park. This year Dr. J. Marcus Merritt from Cedartown First Baptist Church will be providing the message. All are invited and encouraged to attend.

Polk County is invited to take part in Holy Week events at several churches around Rockmart and Aragon coming up ahead of the Easter holiday, starting on Monday, April 15 and continuing through Easter Sunday on April 21. That includes a Monday worship service at Rockmart First Methodist on April 15 with First Baptist Pastor Jason Odom leading the service, on Tuesday, April 16 at Rockmart Presbyterian Church with Rockmart First Methodist's Rev. Martha Dye leading the service, on Wednesday, April 17 at Aragon First United Methodist Church featuring Earl Johnson, and Thursday, April 18 at Morning Star Baptist with Jaye Sawyer leading worship. On Friday, April 19, Rockmart First Baptist is hosting services with James Hannah, and then a sunrise Easter Service on April 21 will be led by Maryellen Hittel at Rockmart Presbyterian Church. Editor's note: the location on Thursday has been updated to reflect an error on our part. Please make note of it for those planning to attend Holy Week events.

Give a child a safe place to go after school and learn valuable lessons about community, life and academics by getting involved in the Boys & Girls Club of Northwest Georgia in Cedartown. Visit their center at 321 E. Queen St., Cedartown from 2:30 to 6 p.m. on weekdays and bring your children ages 5-18 for afternoon activities. For more information on how to participate or volunteer, call our office at 770-749-0869 or email asams@bgcnwga.org.

Free Notary Training is coming up on Wednesday, May 15, 2019 in a session from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. or 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. at the Polk County Courthouse with officials from Polk County Superior Court Clerk Stacie Baines office. Those who are interested are asked to RSVP to the clerks office no later than May 14, 2019 at 3 p.m. by calling 770-749-2114. They cover the training for prospective and current notaries. All are welcome.

The annual Lost Cost Rabies Clinic sponsored by the Cedartown/Polk County Humane Society is coming up on Saturday, May 4 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Cedartown Boys and Girls Club at 321 E. Queen St. Vaccination costs for Cats and Dogs are $10 and horses are $20. Pet owners can get their dogs and cats microchipped for an additional $10, or have Precious Paws County provide nail trimming for $5. All proceeds will go to the Humane Society.

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

Interested in becoming a Foster or Adoptive Parent? Open your heart to a child in need and find out how you can help. Join others who seek the love of a child every second Tuesday night of each month at 6 p.m. at Polk County Division of Family and Children Services office, 100 County Loop Road in Cedartown. Information sessions explain what is required to become a foster or adoptive parent in Georgia. For more information please call Robin Forston at 404-895-6517 or email robin.forston@dhs.ga.gov or call 1-877-210-KIDS. Visit www.fostergeorgia.com for more information.

The Polk County Democratic Committee Meets on the second Saturday of every month at 9:30 a.m. In the "even" months (February, April, June, August, etc.) the organization meets at The Rockmart Library at 316 N. Piedmont Ave., Rockmart and during the "odd" months (January, March, etc.) they meet at the Cedartown Welcome Center, 609 Main St., Cedartown, GA 30125.

The American Legion in Rockmart is hosting their monthly all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner coming this Wednesday, April 17. Meal of spaghetti, meatballs, garlic toast and salad, $5. They hold dinners on the third Wednesday of every month. Join the group for a good meal and to support veteran and children's programs. The Legion is located at 1 Veterans Circle, Rockmart. Check back for an updated date in the coming edition of the Standard Journal's Calendar of Events.

USAPA Pickelball Ambassador Daneen England is holding a free pick-leball 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 770356-1282, or by e-mail at howardd999@yahoo.com for more information.

The office of Exceptional Students of Polk School District is available to assist with the identification of children with disabilities and provision a free appropriate public education beginning at the age of three through the age of 21. If you suspect your child is experiencing any developmental delay or you suspect your child might have a disability and would like assistance or for more information about services available through Polk School District, contact the PSD Exceptional Student Services office at 770-684-8718.

Lutheran Services of Georgia's Heritage Adoption Program partners with DFCS to find Forever Families for children waiting in Georgia's foster care system. Information Sessions are held on the third Thursday of every month at 6 p.m. at the Rome Office, located at 336 Broad St., Suite 200. Individual sessions may be scheduled to accommodate families as needed. For more email aweaver@lsga.org or call 706-506-0649.

Get assistance

Need help with the bills during the winter, and are a senior? Tallatoona CAP will begin accepting appointments for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) for Senior Households 65 & older and Homebound Households. Appointments for the General Public will be accepted beginning in December. Appointments are provided on a first come first served basis until funds are exhausted. Polk County residents who qualify will receive either $310.00 or $350.00 toward their heating bill (heating source). To schedule an appointment or to request a homebound appointment, visit our website at www.tallatoonacap.org and click BookNow, or call 770-817-4666.

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

Victory Baptist Church's Bread of Life Food Pantry is now open. One bag of non-perishable food, five items to pick from produce, eggs and milk and two items from frozen meats, breads and others will be available. ID is required. Limit of two IDs per address. Regular hours are Mondays, 1 to 3 p.m.; Tuesdays, 5 to 7 p.m.; and Thursdays, 8 to 10 a.m.

The Georgia Legal Services Program's Claire Sherburne will be on hand at One Door Polk in Cedartown every fourth Monday to help those in need with free civil legal services to low-income persons. This will include all cases related to housing, employment, education, domestic violence, consumer fraud, wills, healthcare and other issues involved in the legal complications of everyday life. Call 404-206-5175 for more information.

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.

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.

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.

Soup and Savior, a local nonprofit organization, meets from 6 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays to provide needed items to deserving people. This includes a free meal (soup), clothing and gives other assistance. Meetings are held at Glad Tidings, located at 703 Robert L Parks Blvd. in Cedartown. Donations are accepted.

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.

A caregivers support group meets on the second Monday of each month at 11 a.m. at Rockmart Presbyterian Church. Call 770-684-6289 for more information.

Take back your life and get help. Narconon can help you take steps to overcome addiction in your family. Call today for free for screenings or referrals at 1-800-431-1754.

Churches

The Rev. Gilbert Richardson and the Ware's Grove Church family of 200 Potash Road, invite everyone to join the Impact Service held each Sunday at 9:45 a.m., followed by regular worship services at 11:15 a.m. Bible class is held Wednesday nights at 7 p.m.

Anna Kresge United Methodist Church invites children, kindergarten age through middle school, to come to Kresge Kids each Wednesday from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Supper is provided. There is also a high school youth program as well. For more information, call 706-346-3100.

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.