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Waste Industies appealing to injunction
New hearing date set for May 22, case heading to the Court of Appeals

A hearing date has been set to give Waste Industries the opportunity to seek a stay order on the temporary injunction approved by Judge Adele Grubbs in the lawsuit filed by Polk County over the operations of the Grady Road Landfill.

Unless Grubbs chooses to reverse herself, it will likely be up to the state Court of Appeals to determine whether the Grady Road Landfill will require six inches of daily soil cover to be left in place. Waste Industries is currently complying with that order, and will continue to do so according to attorneys for the company.

Matthew Martin replied to written questions that soil is the cover being used at the landfill currently, though points out again that "the landfill's permit from the Georgia EPD as well as ETC's operating agreement with the county expressly permit the use of soil and tarps."

The parent company of ETC of Georgia, the defendant listed on the lawsuit, is hoping Grubbs will reverse her decision made at the beginning of the month based on past case law and

Martin and John Husser argue in their filing in the stay request that the order is contrary to law for a number of reasons, including the Supreme Court's ruling in past proceedings that if "a defendant has complied with local and state laws, and is operating consistent with an agreement with local government, there can be no public nuisance."

Martin provided the Standard Journal with the following written statement in a follow-up on the temporary injunction ruling.

""ETC respectfully disagrees with Judge Grubbs' Order and, on May 8, filed a notice of appeal to the Georgia Court of Appeals. ETC also filed a motion to stay the Order pending that appeal. That motion is scheduled to be heard on May 22," he stated. "If the motion is denied, ETC will seek a stay from the Court of Appeals. Of course, notwithstanding the appeal and ETC's operational and environmental concerns with some of the requirements Judge Grubbs imposed, ETC has and will continue to do its best to comply with the Order."

Judge Grubbs stated in her ruling on May 2 that two different hearings in April provided enough evidence that Waste Industries is by overwhelming evidence" they are "maintaining a nuisance at the Grady Road Polk County Landfill."

She additionally laid out stipulations in her injunction that requires Waste Industries to use six inches of daily soil cover, not allowing any sludges into the landfill, continuing efforts to reduce smell and buzzard populations from flocking in the area, and allow Polk County Public Works employee Jerry Barker unannounced visits to the landfill day or night for inspections.

Both attorneys and company officials for Waste Industries are looking to safety concerns and legal precedent to resolve their appeal in their favor and the May 22 court date before Grubbs in a 9 a.m. hearing and matter to a satisfactory conclusion.

Case law

Martin and Husser's filing of May 8 to appeal the decision and seek a stay are based on several legal arguments from past lawsuits heard before judges on the state level, and begins with the following principle: a company acting on behalf of a local government is immune from legal responsibility for creating a "nuisance."

In the simplest terms, it means that even though the trash they bring into the Grady Road Landfill from operators who pay Waste Industries for the right to bring in tons of trash per day might smell, and attract buzzards, and cause other environmental concerns it is not Waste Industries responsibility. They are only operating on behalf of Polk County's government within the proscribed terms agreed upon in the contract. That includes the ability to tarp over the area where trash is being currently dumped and use other alternative methods like the previously permitted Posi-Shell, which was replaced by Top Coat.

Polk County is the holder of the state's Environmental Protection Division permit to operate the Grady Road Landfill, not Waste Industries.

They specifically cite two cases — one partially overruled by the later court decision — of Vason v. S.C. R. Co. heard in 1871, and Augusta & S.C. R. Co. v. City Council of Augusta heard in 1897. They quote from that filing that the court ruled that "therefore, that the use of steam on this railroad is specially permitted by the public authorities, and that it cannot, therefore, be abated as a nuisance."

"Applying this long-recognized principle of law, the Georgia Court of Appeals held "that which the law authorizes to be done, if done as the law authorizes, cannot be a nuisance." Thus where the act is lawful in itself, it becomes a nuisance only when conducted in an illegal manner to the hurt, inconvenience or damage of another." They are citing Effingham County Board of Commissioners v. Shuler Brothers from a 2004 case, and the City of Douglasville v. Queen from 1999 in their argument as well.

Basically, the attorneys state that because ETC (Waste Industries) is doing what they agreed to do in the contract that Waste Industries took over from ETC, they can't be held liable for a perceived "nuisance" one way or another.

They also stated the county provided "no evidence that ETC had breached its Operating Agreement. Further, the County's own expert, Kent McCormick, testified in a deposition and during the hearing that ETC was operating within the (Georgia) EPD permits" and went on to provide the transcript of the testimony of McCormick's deposition.

He did state in the deposition based on the filing that "it is my opinion that they are not violating their permit."

A question over the use of Posi-Shell, tarps

Their filing in the stay request also covers the permit being revoked for the use of Posi-Shell, and whether that included the use of tarps.

Attorneys for Polk County provided emails from the state EPD during the April 17 hearing that called into question the use of Posi-Shell, and whether Waste Industries was allowed to ask for a permit on their own without including the county in that request.

An April 8 email from the EPD's Chad Hall revoking that permit to use Posi-Shell would require Waste Industries go back to using daily soil cover, and not their alternate daily cover of tarps. The attorneys provided evidence that Hall clarified his position on that requirement the county argued meant they had to use soil cover this month.

"David Pepper testified, however, that Mr. Hall had admitted that he was mistaken and that ETC's use of soil and tarps was permitted," the filing read. "Mr. Hall recently confirmed that mistake and that ETC's use of soil and tarps as daily cover is authorized."

He was further quoted in the filing as writing in a May 2 email that his statement was "an oversimplication" and that "the facility has been approved to use tarps as an alternate daily cover since 1994. EPD hasn't seen anything in our files that took away or suspended this approval to use tarps as alternate daily cover. The facility could remain in compliance using either soil or tarps for daily cover."

The status quo

Attorney also argued that in Judge Grubbs ruling on May 2, it "does not, and was never intended to, preserve the status quo."

Basically, they argue that Court of Appeals rulings on injunctions previously don't apply because precedent exists that doesn't make odor complaints an urgent issue, that previous rulings since those applied by Judge Grubbs weren't considered appropriate based on the case law, and that based on the use of the Nasal Ranger as "the only objective test before this court" that no "nuisance odorous levels had been recorded since monitorings began in October 2018."

"George Gibbons testified, without contradiction, regarding the limited number of citizen complaints ETC received in 2017 and 2018," the filing stated. "Further, Mr. McCormick's September 25, 2017 report confirms he "noted little odor on [his] July 1 site visit" to the landfill."

They added in the filing that based on a previous case where a preliminary injunction was overturned, DBL, Inc. v. Carsons (2003) and then later in Green v. Waddleton (2007) that both were overturned because the orders in those injunctions to abate a nuisance "did not preserve the status quo."

"The court's holding controls here," the filing reads. "According to the PI Order, the odor issue has persisted since 2008. The record contains written evidence of complaints in 2014 and 2015. Under these circumstances, no urgency required the entry of the PI Order."

Their argument to reverse the order on precedent boils down to since the odor complaints already existed before the suit was filed and then the request for the temporary injunction, it can't be seen as a nuisance that requires immediate attention.

Landfills do create odors, and the company in a written response to questions posed by the Standard Journal stated they have spent at least $1.2 million in equipment costs in abatement efforts including the use of Topcoat, the misting system and the expansion of the gas collection system. That doesn't include annual operating costs of those items.

They also have undertaken efforts to control the leachate through the introduction of enzymes into the lagoons where the liquid collects and is treated before being pumped and further processed elsewhere. Those also include utilizing odor inhibiting chemicals in the lagoons as well.

Their stay request also argues the order went beyond what the county had requested in their filing of the temporary injunction, stating that the exclusion of sludges from the landfill wasn't presented as part of the request and only made in closing arguments and gave no time for the attorneys for Waste Industries to present any evidence on the impact of sludges.

They specifically argue this will cause harm to the Cities of Cedartown, Rockmart and several businesses who utilize the disposal of sludges from wastewater treatment processes into the landfill. "The inability to dispose of ETC's leachate at this WWTP (wastewater treatment plant,) is another environmental issue," the filing cited. "The PI order ignores these risks and does not require the County to post any bond in the event they occur."

Of additional note, the attorneys argue in the filing the appointment of Jerry Barker as the county's representative to inspect the landfill unannounced is a conflict of interest, since he is employed by the county and is not a independent third party.

Concerns over environmental impact

In their request for the stay, attorneys also use the following point: there are real public health environmental concerns they argue exist if soil use continues. "Further, ETC and the public at large risk significant environmental injury for which the Court did not require a bond," the filing stated. "The Court will remember that no witness denied the potential consequences of daily cover using six inches of soil without stripping — trapping gas and leachate breakouts. To the contrary, Mr. McCormick conceded those risks."

Leachate breakouts and gas pockets are long term problems to be considered.

Breakouts are caused when the liquid byproduct of trash breaking down in the landfill can't flow downhill and into collection systems the way they should, creating a bubble underneath the surface of wastewater that can't get out. If those pockets continue to grow large enough and put under enough pressure from additional layers of trash and soil placed on top of them, they burst outward and the liquid travels just like water to the easiest point of escape.

Gas pockets are similarly formed by the pressure of additional layers of soil and trash pushed downward, trapping the other byproduct from waste decomposing: methane. This is the reason for the gas collection wells and flare system at the landfill, so that methane within the landfill doesn't seep out and into the air. If the gas has nowhere to escape, it'll similarly cause a breakout and cause damage to the structure of the landfill itself.

Despite those environmental impact concerns, Waste Industries has not yet offered up any further alternative solutions than what they have tried. When asked specifically if they had other ideas besides the required six inches of daily soil to use in several questions posed by the Standard Journal, Martin replied on behalf of the company that use of tarps, soil and the Posi-Shell or Topcoat products was the best solution.

Martin also stated when asked that County officials have also not provided other alternatives beside soil cover, and that they were involved and agreed to the company's use of spray-on cover and commissioners were on-hand during testing.

Airspace calculations were also not available at the time of reporting, and Martin said that "layering six inches of soil per day, in addition to potentially causing trapped gas and leachate break-outs, will take up significant air space over time."

Statement from the company

Additionally, the following statement from the company was provided by Waste Industries Regional Vice President Jason Zepp following up on the appeal and request for a stay on the temporary injunction. It read:

"ETC of Georgia has been in partnership with the Polk County Commission since 2004 when the County turned operations over to ETC. This decision was driven by substantial operating costs and public debt to Polk County taxpayers. Since then, we have worked hard to be best-in-class, innovative landfill operators, active and responsible corporate citizens and have made charitable work in our community a top priority."

Zepp went on to say that "We are proud that the Grady Road Landfill has one of the best operating records in Georgia and has consistently received exemplary inspection ratings from the Georgia EPD."

"It is unfortunate, however, that the County Commission has chosen to spend its time and taxpayers' dollars on an expensive lawsuit. ETC's preference has always been to solve these issues cooperatively rather than through the expensive and slowmoving legal process," the statement continued.

Then Zepp addressed many of the concerns in short that were also provided in the filing:

"The prohibition against accepting sludge has created an adverse economic impact and potential operational and environmental concerns for local generators. Sludge represents less than 5 percent of total volumes at the landfill, which is well within reasonable industry standards and a conscious decision to operate responsibly while serving our surrounding communities public work facilities.

Second, the injunction also allows a county employee unfettered access to the landfill, which creates a potential safety hazard and interferes with the landfill's operations.

Third, the prohibition against stripping the 6 inches of soil has potential long-term consequences. Failing to strip soil could trap leachate and gas between the layers of the landfill. This practice could lead to leachate breakouts, as well as a multitude of gas issues. Moreover, leaving soil without stripping it daily is not standard industry practice, nor required by the EPD."


County shows appreciation for foster parents

An annual ritual continues within Polk County to make sure that those who are opening their doors and hearts to children are getting the due thanks deserved them every day of the year.

During the May 7 session of the Polk County Board of Commissioners meeting, Commission Chair Jennifer Hulsey took time out at the opening of their regular meeting to bring together members of the Polk County Foster Parent Association and the Department of Family and Children Services in Polk and Haralson counties to celebrate foster parents during the month of May.

The commission voted unanimously to approve an annual proclamation that honors foster parents locally and across the country for their efforts to help children separated from their parents for a variety of reasons have a loving and structured home.

Local efforts to appreciate Foster Parents join those across the country for National Foster Care Month. The goal is to bring awareness to the growing number of children who enter care of the state via the Department of Family and Children Services, which locally was up to 122 children in state care around this time last year. Across the country, the total number was around 690,000 recorded in 2017.

Those interested in learning more about how to become a foster parent and give children can gather with others 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 overall on the system to gain a better grasp of what's required before heading into meetings.

Cedartown's Papa Johns also took part in an effort to show appreciation during Foster Parent Appreciation Month. In a weeklong effort to raise money and awareness for foster parents, they spent May 5 through May 11 collecting funds from their sales and giving back proceeds to the Polk County Foster Parent Association.


AREA CALENDAR OF EVENTS

Free Notary Training is coming up this 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Felton Baptist Church is hosting their annual Memorial Day service at 1 p.m. to honor veterans and those who died in battle, including Sgt. Ray McKibben, a Vietnam War Medal of Honor winner from the area. Refreshments provided by the ladies of the Felton community will be available afterward.

The American Legion in Rockmart is hosting their monthly all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner coming up this Wednesday, May 15. 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.

USAPA Pickelball Ambassador Daneen England is holding a free pickleball clinic every Monday (weather permitting) from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Rockmart Tennis courts, located at 436 Hogue Avenue, Rockmart. Loaner paddles and all necessary equipment will be on hand to learn t he sport. This is a free event for anyone and they just need to wear comfortable gym clothes and tennis shoes. Contact England at 770-356-1282, or by e-mail at howardd999@yahoo.com for more information.

The 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.

Did you know that nationwide the American Red Cross assists 53 people every 60 seconds during personal and local disasters? Our Northwest Georgia Red Cross Chapter serves Polk County. If you'd like to do some meaningful volunteering, please contact Arthene Bressler at 762-231-9896 and visit our website at www.redcross.org/local/georgia.

Get assistance

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 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 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 Journal 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, email 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.

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 770-684-6251 or email marthadye@ngumc.net for more information or questions. The church also updates weekly on their website at rockmartumc.org.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

Do you have interest in studying the Bible and prophecies within? Contact Dr. Idel Suarez about a new study group being formed locally for serious scholars of the text. Contact him at 813-310-9350 for more information about how to participate and future meetings.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Cedartown, hosts a genealogy group that meets from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday nights, except holidays. There are no fees for these sessions and they are open to anyone. Please bring all of your basic family history (if you have it) such as names, birth-dates/death dates of parents, grandparents, children, etc. Bring your laptop or tablet, if you have one. If not, we can still help. Questions? Contact us at 678-477-2861 and leave a message or visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Family-Quest42/

Clubs and Organizations

The Ferst Readers 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.

The Cedartown Optimist Club meets on Thursday mornings at 7 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 email at nmvideo@bellsouth.net.


PSD's budget up with state funding the teacher raises

Tentative budget figures for FY 2020 are being considered and are increasing this year to allow for additional educator pay increases for the coming school year.

Superintendent Laurie Atkins thanked the members of the Polk County Board of Education for working with school district administrators to ensure that for the coming year, the $79.3 million in revenue and expenditures — which includes a $10.4 million fund balance left by June 2020 — will be spent on increases in salaries across the board.

"There are some things that we have been able to do since we've not been able to touch since 2008, and things that have been dwindling away," she said.

Atkins said now is the time to spend smart and build back what was lost to the years of the recession and recovery and match the efforts of the state to retain educators in the classroom with the help of salary increases.

The system is going above and beyond what Gov. Brian Kemp promised and the state legislature passed in the FY 2020 budget for the state when it comes to educator and support staff salaries for the coming fiscal year.

Along with the $3,000 raise for each teacher in the district and across the state, the budget for FY 2020 also includes a increase of four percent for classified employees, along with pay scale increase for bus drivers, the Polk School

District Police Department, and an increase for those educators who are acting as either department chairs academically or coaches for the middle and high school athletics programs at both Rockmart and Cedartown High School.

The district also plans to hire 10 new bus monitors for select routes within the district that Atkins said "needs an extra set of eyes" and increase bus driver pay as well.

They'll also be adding five percent more to the local portion of revenue to the budget this year, which Atkins said was the first time in a number of years the district has been able to make increases to the revenue line items in the budget without state assistance.

"We're trying to make things a little better than they've been in the past years," Atkins said.

Most of what Polk School District plans to take in through state and local funding will be spent on salaries for educators and staff, more than $49.1 million for the year and accounting for 71.36% of the budget.

The rest of the expenditures broken down include more than $6.6 million on maintenance, nearly $4.4 million on school administration, $2.7 million and change on transportation costs, and more than $1 million each in four categories for media, pupil services, improvement of instruction and a general business category.

The district expects $13 million in revenue from local sources, plus $54.4 million in state sources for more than $67 million in revenue total. The full revenue includes a $10.5 million fund balance already on the books from FY 2019. Last year's state revenue in comparison to this year is up $4.8 million compared to the previous year.

Budget figures are tentative and the Board of Education heard positive comments during a required public hearing held amid their May 7 community input and work session from members of the audience who stated they were glad to see funding increase in several areas, as well as good budget stewardship over the past few years generally.

School board members will get to vote on the budget during their June session ahead of the close of the fiscal year for 2019, and heading into the 2020 figures.


Camp Antioch is ready to hold June Jubilee fundraiser
"Something new and old" returns to the schoolhouse grounds in the Antioch community

An event is coming up next month that is sure to bring back fond memories of years past as Camp Antioch is putting together a June Jubilee.

Mark calendars now for the upcoming Christian Music Festival and Corn Boil on Saturday, June 1 with gates opening at 11 a.m. to bring back a longtime tradition in the Antioch community.

Billed as "something new and old at Camp Antioch," the forthcoming music festival will feature Scarlet Wool, Weaver Believers, Starr Phips and other local church and community groups during the event, which is planned to last through the afternoon. Admission donations are being accepted at the gates and are encouraged, but not required.

"We want this to be a blessing to the community, and we don't want people to feel like they can't come, but we really need the help," Camp Antioch Executive Director Janice Stewart said.

She added that the Mission Construction Team will return as well to help with repairs at the old school building further on at the end of the month. Stewart said materials are needed to ensure they have what they need in place before they arrive following the event.

As part of the afternoon fun, Stewart also said the event includes a June Jubilee Queen contest and a Tacky Twin Talent Contest. The two are additional fundraisers to help Camp Antioch. The June Jubilee Queen contest will take all comers no matter the age, but the contestant who collects the most donations will win the crown. The contest will start at 2 p.m. Churches or groups can enter a participant or contestants can take part individually.

The Tacky Twin Talent Contest at 4 p.m. will also be determined by audience donations that will count as "votes" for the name of the act they like best. The goal is to find a "tacky twin" and present a funny but appropriate short talent act during the June Jubilee. Those who take the top prize will be given a "tacky crown" and sash during an awards ceremony planned as the event wraps up at 6 p.m.

Vendors are being sought for the event, and money spent on space will go toward funds for facility repairs, updates and improvements much needed at the former school and current home to Polk and Haralson's Christian Life Center.

Booth space rental starts at $25 for a 10-foot square outside space, and $50 for the same sized space but with electrical hookups. There are a limited number of spaces that have power, so organizers are encouraging vendors to act fast on those rentals.

Inside spaces at Camp Antioch are also available with a limited number for $100. Special signs are also given to booths and groups who pledge additional donations for building renovations. Additional information can be had from Stewart by texting her at 770-846-7760, or by calling Judy Cook at 770-546-1994.

Vendors are asked to arrive between 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. on June 1 to setup. They must close no later than 7 p.m.

Rules for the inaugural June Jubilee include no alcohol, tobacco or illegal drugs will be allowed, and all children and youth must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at all times. Organizers also ask that people keep in mind it is a Christian family event, and dress accordingly for both that and the weather.

Money raised during the June Jubilee will go directly to help fund a number of projects needed to be completed at Camp Antioch, built during the Works Progress Administration's efforts to help curb Depression-era unemployment through public building projects. Finished in 1939, the Antioch Consolidated School stayed in service for several decades before it was purchased in 1963 by the Polk and Haralson Baptist Association. It has gone through several name changes, but settled in recent years on simply Camp Antioch.

Camp Antioch is currently celebrating its 80th year of service to the Polk County community, Stewart said.

The former school and now home to youth programs, housing for missionaries and much more is in dire need of repairs and upgrades. Included among those are a new roof, updates to the current heating and air systems which are well past their prime and adding to the building where there is no heat or air, repair and replacing windows and doors, plumbing updates, carpet and flooring replacement and an update to kitchen appliances.

Those who want to donate directly to Camp Antioch's request for help can mail donations to Camp Antioch, P.O. Box 72, Cedartown, Ga., 30125. Additionally, local contractors who want to help the facility can contact Stewart at her above number if they wish to donate time, materials or services to helping restore the old school back to its former glory.


School board celebrates champs

The Polk County Board of Education were all smiles last week when students who have shown off great talent and hard work to prove themselves to be champions at the highest level across the state.

Students from Cedartown Middle and High, and Rockmart Middle and High schools packed out the board meeting room on May 7 for the evening session to stand and be recognized by their peers, faculty and staff, and especially their parents.

Among those were several members of the SkillsUSA team, the Rockmart High School boys tennis team and an honor for Yellow Jacket wrestler Griffin Pace.

Pace was the 2019 Class AA state champion for the 182-pound weight division for the season and set a new Rockmart High record for 200 wins during his career in wrestling.

The board also honored members of the Rockmart High School state champion tennis team, who won out on their home courts for the first tennis title in school history of Early County. Their win came just in time for the team to be honored, alongside coaches Barry Owen and Kent Mathis.

See more in this week's sports section on the title win for 2019.

The May 7 board session also gave opportunity to recognize honors on the academic level, and those SkillsUSA teams and individuals heading onward to national competition after big wins of their own.

First, the board got to honor Cedartown High sophomore Evan Holder as this year's Governor's Honor Program participant for the district. He'll be headed off during the summer break to concentrate on gaining even greater skills in Music, specifically a focus on percussion.

SkillsUSA students honored included first place winners Josh Cole and Wesley Culberson for Additive Manufacturing — better known as 3D Printing. Individually, Emmanuel Cornejo received honors for a first place in carpentry and Harmony Shaw took a first place state title for cosmetology.

The group of Kaitlyn Crawford, Lesly Santana, and Laura Seabolt were honored for their state title in Crime Scene Investigations. Also, the team of

Abigail Bryant, Martin Arguello, and Emily Bentley were honored for a first place in the Criminal Justice Quiz category.

Mackenzie Edwards was twice honored for a first place in Career Pathways and in Job Skill Demonstration Open and Georgia Skills USA Brochure Design.

She was joined by Seth Wright, Olivia Cleveland, McKenzie Butler and Alyssa Parham for a first place in Job Skill Demonstration Open and Georgia Skills USA Brochure Design.

Superintendent Laurie Atkins individually praised all those who were honored on the night and the educators who helped them achieve first place finishes and state titles in their respective categories. It was also of note that during the May work session that she also thanked educators for their hard work inside and out of the classroom during National Educator's Week.

Pace is currently working toward a second state title as the Rockmart High baseball team continues their journey this week through the playoffs as they host the Final Four at home on Tuesday after press time, with an if-necessary third game on Wednesday, May 15. Find more in the Sports section this week on how the tennis team is doing.

The boys tennis team wrapped up their season with the honors at the Central Office.