A major problem with controlling the illegal drug trade is tracking where product is coming from, and where it is going.
That is especially the case with opioids, which can come from a variety of places around the world and when distributed to customers on the street, can be cut with anything from baby powder to fentanyl, which in years past and present continues to kill users in overdoses across the country.
Now there's an effort underway to collect as much data as allowed about overdose cases in order to track where those opioids are coming from, and how they get onto the street and what harm they cause in the process.
That's the mission of people like William Trivelpiece, a law enforcement veteran who works with the federal government in an effort to get first responders to offer up information in real time about where overdoses are happening, and some circumstances behind the care of patients.
"The overdoses that are happening aren't just opioid-based anymore," Trivelpiece said in a presentation he gave on Feb. 26 to local first responders about efforts to gather more information. "You know better than I do that the king drug is still meth. The No. 2 drug for your county is cocaine, and the third drug is some type of opioid."
He said that part of the problem is that when drugs like methamphetamines are being processed, dealers will add in opioids into the mix so users will get a greater effect from the drug, but don't realize what they are using.
Trivelpiece was previously an Atlanta Police Department officer with more than two decades of experience on the job before he retired, and then moved onto a job helping fight drug trafficking. Polk County was likely one of his final presentations as organizers of the Atlanta-Carolinas High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area's (HIDTA) portion of the Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program (ODMAP,) which he is seeking to get more areas involved in tracking of overdose cases on the national level.
Though he's moving up to a new role, he'll still be involved in the program, which is an effort to get as much data as possible about drug trafficking of opioids and the effects they have immediately on people.
Trivelpiece showed off an app that first responders can use in the field to immediately report data on an overdose, which links up to the national database and mapping capabilities that then produce real-time data about where overdoses are happening. He's seeking to get Polk County involved and include their information along with 23 in Georgia already sending in data.
The increasing number of overdoses are coming closer to home. Just in January alone, Haralson County had the highest rate based on population of overdoses throughout the state, on a per 100,000 people average, they had 60 for the month.
"Another county that is pretty close is Bartow," he said. "Bartow has consistently for the past year been in the Top 5. and you guys lie right next to two of those counties."
Trivelpiece said that 46 states across the country also participate in the mapping program in one way or another.
One way to solve the opioid crisis is through gathering data.
In the area around the Washington/Baltimore HIDTA where a test pilot program of mapping started ODMAP in three counties in West Virginia and one in Maryland, the information gathered on spikes in opioid overdoses — which happened twice during the pilot program — allowed law enforcement to see the pattern of drug trafficking through the region.
When a product that was causing overdoses because of fentanyl or carfentanyl ended up in the illegal opioid distribution stream, it usually hit in Baltimore first. Then about 8 hours later during spike incidents, they saw the same pattern turn up with cases in West Virginia. All told, they recorded 300 overdoses in the time of the pilot program.
That gave law enforcement the understanding that there was a delay between when Baltimore drug dealers were distributing product to end customers that was from the same batch, and then several hours for it to make its way up to dealers in northwest Maryland and West Virginia, which in turn would give agents tracking the criminals who are distributing product a better understanding of their movements.
"It's in 1,800 jurisdictions across the country that are using it," Trivelpiece said.
In Georgia, Trivelpiece said the data is already coming in handy in tracking overdoses in places like Augusta, where they provide the real-time data law enforcement can then go back and study, and hope to lead to more information that will eventually end with an arrest of suspects.
Ultimately, his trip to Polk County's Emergency Management Agency offices on Feb. 26 meant to provide the information that first responders need about how it works, and to be able to turn around and train others on the program.
Polk County Commission Chair Jennifer Hulsey, who is also helping organize the Polk Against Drugs program, said that with representatives from law enforcement, EMS and the fire departments all on hand for the meeting, it won't be long before the cities and county begin implementing the data sharing effort as part of their routine in the field.
"Polk County is very excited about this OD Mapping program. We know that this problem is nationwide. We are committed to being a proactive government. We want to find solutions and work with and assist our first responders any way we can," Hulsey said. "I am excited to see the future and how we are going to tackle this nationwide problem in our community. The cities and the county are committed to making this successful and I look forward to us continuing to make progress on this issue."
It won't cost the county or cities any additional money to take part in ODMAP, since it provides the application and backend management of data free of charge. The software doesn't collect any information that can identify a patient when in the field, and no data about victims are stored in the central database.
The mapping application does ask whether a victim survived or died, and how many doses of overdose reversing medications like Narcan were administered.
Depending on the software used, it can take only five to 30 seconds for the data to show up on a national level. Previous efforts to get information usually had a 72-hour lag from data getting from the field into the hands of those who need to study it for trends and clues toward ultimate arrests.
"They don't have to be on the scene to register the information," Trivelpiece added.
As long as 911 operators have the software on their terminals, they can provide the information if first responders don't have immediate availability to do so, such as a lack of good signal coverage in the most rural parts of the county. Reports are compiled weekly as well and provided to officials.
Work under the Georgia Dome is even busier this year for Polk County's own Trey Kelley, who continues his work undaunted as the 2019 Majority Whip within the chambers of the state house.
As the legislature passed by the 20-day mark of the legislative session well on their way to Crossover Day, when bills go from one chamber to the other for reconciliation or to find their way to a committee for further consideration in 2020.
With only a few days left before that date falls on the calendar, the representative for the 16th district finds himself right in the middle of the work to get important items voted on and sent over to the state senate.
Among the work already completed is an amended state budget for the 2019 fiscal year, which Kelley highlighted an additional increase for help for South Georgia for hurricane relief to help farmers who were hurt by Hurricane Michael.
"We started by finding $10 million in the amended budget in the House, and the Senate found $8 million on their side, and then another $2 million, so $20 million in disaster relief funding will be going to South Georgia," Kelley said. "That will allow us to help a large number of families hurting in South Georgia, and also help the top industry in our state at a critical time."
Additional funding promised by Governor Brian Kemp to increase teacher salaries in the state is also forthcoming, with a $3,000 increase in pay expected for educators as part of the amended budget this year.
Though he said the numbers are still in the works for the state's 2020 budget and finalizing the 2019 figures, it isn't all about dollars and cents. The legislature is also focused on some legislation meant to make it easier for Georgians serving at bases around the state or overseas take care of legal obligations and family affairs. Kelley pointed to forthcoming laws like House Bill 25, which helps those who are being sent overseas on orders have a path to get out of contracts like gym memberships or service agreements.
For instance, if a service member signs up for cable service with a contract for a low rate that locks in subscribers for a year or more and then gets orders to relocate to a new base, if the service isn't available where they are heading they have avenues to now get out of that contract. The legislation is meant to bring Georgia in line with federal law already approved, Kelley said.
He also pointed toward House Bill 59 as another example of how the state legislature seeks to help the families of service members as well.
"We recognize that our military families get moved around, and the toll it has on everyone as a family tries to get everything in order before they relocate to a new community," Kelley said. "This will help those families by allowing them to enroll their children in school before they arrive, and have the opportunity for students to get into classes they need. So with this bill, we're working with local school districts to allow for families to not yet be a physical resident of community, but when they get their orders where they're going to be, the law will allow for those orders to stand in for residency to get children pre-enrolled in school."
Work also continues on critical issues for all parts of the state, like continuing to improve health care opportunities for urban and rural communities alike and on big projects like expanding access to high speed internet to all corners of Georgia.
Several pieces of legislation are working through committees and heading toward votes on the issue of increasing access to broadband internet in rural parts of the state, and one of those means to expand competition and open up market access to new providers.
House Bills 22 and 23, and their Senate Counterparts Bills 2 and 17 — along with four other pieces of legislation between both chambers, totaling 12 for the time being before reconciliation of the language — looks to allow electric and telephone cooperatives to provide internet access should they wish to make the investment in infrastructure to customers within their operating area.
So for instance Carroll EMC could if bills are approved by the legislature and signed into law expand their services and provide internet access to distant locations in Polk County. Programs are also in the works to get a better sense of connectivity issues, and how grant money for infrastructure investments might be best used in the near future.
House Bill 23 is well on its way toward Gov. Kemp's desk.
Kelley said this issue alone is one the state looks to seek solutions from many different areas as internet connectivity remains an central focus in the lives of every Georgian.
"This legislation is good for us all, because ultimately it means expanding connectivity for everyone," Kelley said. "It brings in new competition and helps develop that market in rural Georgia that we need."
One item Kelley is looking forward to this session is a visit from his father.
As the session nears a close in March, Kelley will get to enjoy an additional honor for himself and his family. Cedartown High School head football coach Doyle Kelley, who is also a local pastor at Worldview Baptist Church, will get to be Chaplain for the Day.
Kelley was already a busy man in the state capitol. His committee assignments ranged from Judiciary to Ways and Means before he took on the role of Majority Whip, already kept him on a move constantly from one meeting room to the next. Yet he remains diligent in his focus toward his constituents in the 16th district and to ensure he can help with problems that come before Polk County.
It sometimes means that even when he's off for the weekend, he's still busy. After breakfast at Ham and Egg Day for the Optimist Club in Cedartown on a recent Saturday, he hopped in the car for a trip to Tuscaloosa, and spent the more than two hour drive with his head buried in legalese. He said he reads every piece of legislation that is coming before the House.
"It's certainly a big responsibility, and it is about time management," Kelley said. "I'm trying to live up to the expectations of my district and my Caucus. They put a great amount of trust in me, and I appreciate it."
He added that he understands well the meaning behind a long famous quote: "with great power comes great responsibility."
The time is coming soon for a celebration of Rockmart's heritage with WELSHFest 2019 right around the corner.
Next Saturday, March 16 the dragon banners will adorn downtown Rockmart and vendors will be setup and ready for a crowd rain or shine for the annual event, which begins with a Friday night gathering ahead of the main event the following day.
The annual Hymn Singing at Van Wert Church will be held on Friday, March 15 at 7 p.m., and the public is invited to come and join in worship and fellowship.
WELSHFest will run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and includes performances from local dancers, the annual Bonniest Knees of Rockmart Kilt Contest, along with music from Isaac Streetman, the Luther Mountain Bluegrass Band, Them Mixon Boys, Scarlet Wool and the Dale Brumbelow quartet all across the community.
This year's 8th annual WELSHFest will also include the Welly Wanging, several children's events, the Welsh Tea Room and more. Welly Wanging is a sport that originated in Britain in Upperthong, Holmfirth. Competitors are required to hurl a Wellington boot as far as possible within boundary lines, from a standing or running start. A variation requires participants to launch the welly from the end of their foot as if they were kicking off a pair of shoes.
Many vendors from around the community and visiting Polk County will be on hand, and sponsors include All Star Motors, Blue Moon, Chick-fil-A of Rockmart, the City of Rockamrt, Cotton Splinters, Econo-Lodge, Rockmart First United Methodist Church, Greg and Brenda Gray Jams and Jellies, GRITS (who are also holding a bike ride on the Silver Comet Trail during the event) Jim and Brenda Carroll Photography, Polk County Beekeepers, WZOT Radio, the Rockmart Slate Corporation, Polk County Public Service and Sew Purdy.
The Heritage Days WELSHFest Bike Ride kicks off with on-site registration at 8 a.m. on March 16, and includes a 14-mile Family Fun Ride, or 27-mile more challenging route. Helmets are required for participants.
Check out more about vendors participating, where music acts are performing and much more at rockmartwelshfest.com.
A field trip to the Polk County EMA building was the Take Back Polk mentoring program's latest way of rewarding the good behavior and academic progress of several local middle school students who managed to meet the goals set for them by their mentors.
In the program, at-risk youth are taught lessons on everything from life to leadership, so the field trips also naturally take an educational approach. A tour through the Polk County Emergency Management Agency's building offered insight into how the county operates, and both career information and tips for getting into local industries were shared by various officials present.
"Becoming a basic EMT is a good entry point into the medical field," Redmond Regional Medical Center EMS Director Marty Robinson said while explaining the various roles first responders and medical officials take on a day to day basis.
Youth were also invited to walk through the ambulance and see for themselves the tools and equipment EMT use to save lives on the go.
The county commission meeting room was packed as students flooded in to see where local ordinances and other regulations were passed, and a visit to the building's detective division likely sparked career interest for students who were shown evidence lockers, interview rooms, and much more.
More tech-savvy youth may have liked the visit to the 911 operating center where massive monitors displayed where and when people needed help.
"I hope that some of them want to actually have a career doing some of this," Sheriff Johnny Moats said. "It's really hard to get people to do want to do this-especially police jobs. Hopefully a few have the desire to do it."
A close up visit to the jail was designed to highlight what life behind bars is like. Students were walked through long hallways of cells and given the chance to use the visitation room where those sentenced are able to speak with loved ones only on occasion.
"Well, with our trip to the jail, I just wanted them to see what it's like to be locked up," Moats said. "We took them to the visitation and explained about being able to visit their family only one day a week for 15 to 20 minutes only."
Moats also offered advice for getting into the police industry, citing having a clean record and extracurricular activities as a good starting place for those interested.
"The first thing is, don't do anything stupid," Moats said. "We do a lot of background checks, polygraphs, psychologicals, so you gotta have a clean record. We can't have people that have committed felonies. Now, if you have a misdemeanor or something minor you did as a kid, we can still hire you. If they're interested, they have the public safety courses at the high school. I would definitely recommend those because they kinda let them know what they're getting into before they're here."
Regardless of what they grow up to do, those who attended the field trip are already making progress in their lives by meeting these goals, and hopefully the next field trip has even more attendees. Regardless, Polk County will be there for the youth.
"This is part of Jennifer Hulsey's mentor program, so we'll always be a part of it," Moats said.
Get ready now for the 2019 WELSHFest in Rockmart! The event is scheduled for March 16 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and will feature a variety of vendors, events and more in downtown Rockmart. Check back in next week's edition for more on the forthcoming fun.
Sign up now to take part in the forthcoming Chamber-sponsored Lunch and Learn series, coming up again on Friday, March 8. The bimonthly classes provided by Chick-fil-A of Rockmart owner Zach Thomas gives people the opportunity to learn how Chick-fil-A promotes servant leadership at all levels of the company and in life. Visit polkgeorgia.com to learn more, or call 770-684-5686 to register today! Costs for the class include lunch.
MasterChef Junior is holding a casting call in Atlanta at the Hilton in downtown at 255 Courtland St. NE on Saturday, March 9 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The show is looking for talented young cooks to come take part in the new season with Chef Gordon Ramsay, and are looking for 8 to 13 year olds to come join the series. Minors must be accompanied by an adult. Signup now at masterchefjuniorcasting.com for application instructions, audition guidelines, eligibility requirements and more.
Join the Murphy-Harpst Children's Center in Cedartown at the Silver Come Trailhead at the Cedartown Welcome Center and Depot on Saturday, March 16 for the annual Miles of Hope ride with 10, 20 and 30-plus mile options. The event kicks off at 9 a.m., and lunch will be served from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. for all registered participants. A $25 donation guarantees a t-shirt and lunch. Register online at murphyharpst.org/miles2019 to participate now.
Tallatoona CAP is hosting An Evening with Yolanda Adams on Saturday, March 16 at 6 p.m. at Crosspoint City Church at 325 Old Mill Road, Cartersville. Special performances include Ahmad Hall and Friends. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased at tallatoonacap.org. The forthcoming event is a fundraiser for the organization.
The Easter Bunny will be hopping into Cedartown ahead of the holiday on Saturday, April 6 in Rockmart for the annual Family Savings Credit Union egg hunt. The event starts at 10 a.m. with a decorating contest, followed by the bunny hop sack race and egg race, and the hunt at 11:30 a.m. Find Family Savings Credit Union on Felton Drive in Rockmart. For ages 12 and younger. Call 770-684-8601 to learn more.
Mark calendars now for fun during springtime in Cedartown. The Cedartown Junior Service league has their community Easter Egg hunt planned for Sunday, April 7, 2019 at 2 p.m. at Peek Park. Check back for more information about the event in March as it draws closer here in the pages of the Standard Journal.
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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 email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call 706-506-0649.
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 Home-bound 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.
Belles of the Ball are bringing the chance for girls in need to have a chance to get a free prom dress for the forthcoming season. The organization is holding their second event in Atlanta on March 16 at the Atlanta YMCA off Pryor Road. The group's inventory includes more than 500 dresses, and DJs, food, vouchers for free hair styling and more are part of the fun. Contact email@example.com for more information.
Victory Baptist Church's Bread of Life Food Pantry is now open. One bag of non-perishable food, Journal 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit Justusministries.com.
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.
Come join in welcoming new pastor Jimmy Douglas Bryant on Sunday, March 10 to Oak Grove Baptist Church on Highway 27 North in Cedartown with worship services starting at 11 a.m. Members, former members and pastors are also encouraged and welcome to come and worship as well on Sunday, March 17 as the church celebrates their 121st anniversary service at 11 a.m. Lunch will follow the anniversary service.
The Gospel Talent Sharea-Thon is coming soon to the Outreach Tabernacle and Gospel Music Park at 1351 County Road 31 in Muscadine, Ala. The March 30 event starts at 5:30 p.m. central and will feature soloists, duets, trios, quartets and musicians. Join and share love of the community. For more information call 770-712-1032 or 678-925-0903.
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 770-684-6251or e-mail email@example.com 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.