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CCPRI scores improve
• Polk County schools post higher index figures for academic progress.

Small but steady increases continue for the Polk School District this year after the state released their College and Career Ready Performance Index figures for 2017 to start off November.

According to figures released by the state on Nov. 2, PSD's total score this year is a 74.9, up 5.6 points from 2016's overall figure of 69.3.

What does that all mean? In simplest terms, that the state is recognizing that Polk School District is making improvements annually in order to help students succeed while in classrooms locally, and when they graduate and go out into the real world.

It's a good tool to help school districts gauge areas where they need to pay more attention and provide focus on," Superintendent Laurie Atkins said. "It acts as a good guide for us to make good instructional decisions for our kids, and how well the kids are mastering the content."

The state is looking at four areas when scoring schools: achievement, progress, achievement gap and challenge points.

For instance, if a school is gaining annually in their standardized test scores in a variety of areas, they get better marks on the overall index score than they would had they not made any gains at all.

Additionally, they take into account that students in lower grade levels are going to have different sets of priorities in early stages of learning than in the later grades, and factor that and many other elements into play.

Everything from the condition of buildings to the number of students in each classroom go toward the CCRPI's overall score, providing educators a guide to what's working and what isn't in schools around the district and the state as a whole.

So for the 8,053 students who are enrolled in the Polk School District according to the state's CCRPI website, annual increases in test scores, new facilities like the Polk County College and Career Academy at Cedartown and Rockmart High Schools, and much more make a difference when the state is providing an overall score.

Breaking down the figures by grade levels, the overall picture is by the numbers one of improvement.

Elementary schools for instance combined saw an increase of 4.3 points from 2016 to 2017, going from a 68.8 to a 73.1 in a year's time. That's an additional annual jump of 3.1 points from 65.7 in 2015.

The middle and high schools also saw appreciable jumps in that time frame, with Cedartown and Rockmart Middle's combined scores jumping from a 64.4 to a 68 in one year after seeing slightly over a one point drop from the 65.6 the year before. Cedartown and Rockmart High Schools combined scores also reflected increases after dropping from 2015 to 2016. The scores combined were 78.8 in 2015, then dropped to 70.2 in 2016. This year, they're back up to 79.6, accounting for a swing downward of 8.6 points between 2015 and 2016, and then a 9.4 point increase between this year and last.

Atkins said one of the things accounting for the downturns and then swift upswings was changes in strategies and personnel at the schools in the past years.

"Really it's the focus on instructional strategies and what we're using in the classroom," Atkins said. "We decided that after looking at how we were providing instruction, we felt like a more traditional, blended approach served us better."

This year's gains especially at Cedartown High School, and Eastside, Cherokee and Northside Elementary schools provide Atkins with plenty of progress to applaud, but also a lot of information about where the school system should go next.

"I think what we plan on doing, is we're going to take our scores, analyze them, improve on areas where we need to focus our efforts and provide additional training to teachers where it is needed," Atkins said.

Atkins said additionally that one thing that will help the 2018 CCRPI scores is the school district is anticipating a lower turnover rate than it has seen in the past years. She said this will help the schools retain vital knowledge and instruction practices that will help make positive movement in scores in the years to come.

"Our teachers are actually the most valuable resource we have to making the improvements necessary to ensure that our children are achieving at the level we all want to see," Atkins said.

2017 CCRPI Scores

Here's a full rundown of the 2017 College and Career Ready Performance Index scores for Polk School District:

Cedartown High School: 85

Cedartown Middle School: 65.4

Cherokee Elementary School : 79.9

Eastside Elementary School: 80

Northside Elementary School: 74.5

Rockmart High School: 66.3

Rockmart Middle School: 75.6

Van Wert Elementary School: 66.7

Westside Elementary School: 76.7

Young's Grove Elementary School: 75.9

Go find election results online
• Detailed election coverage will run in next week's edition.

Election day has come and gone by the time some of our readers will be getting the paper, and that means one thing for this week's edition: results are nowhere to be seen.

By the time presses began rolling on Sunday when our edition is printed weekly, Polk County voters were set to go to the polls on Tuesday to decide a pair of municipal contests and whether they wished to continue the 2017 E-SPLOST.

As of Friday afternoon when early voting was coming to a close, some 654 people had gotten their ballots in early at a Cedartown and Rockmart precinct, and through absentee paper ballots.

Early voting came to a close at the end of the week. No Saturday voting was held for this year's election as well.

For readers who get the paper early and those on Wednesday as well, go online to and use your login that comes with your subscription to find election results. (Need help with the login info? Email or call 770-748-1520 extension 2 and we might be able to help.)

Otherwise, come back to read the Nov. 15 edition to find out who won in the Cedartown commission race and the Board of Education District 6 special election. We'll also have coverage of the outcome of the E-SPLOST extension vote as well.

Polls were set to open at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 7 for this year's election. Check information online on our website and or at to find out where to vote, links to find out if you're registered, and more.

Somber duty at memorial
Hearne added to police monument

A chill stood in the air during mid-morning as local officials and police officers gathered around a memorial honoring slain brothers and sisters in the line of duty for a somber task.

They were adding a name to the pillar that stands in the yard of Polk County Courthouse No. 1 facing the College Street entrance, standing in silence as the motor of a sandblasting machine hummed loudly, and Dana Goss of Elberton did the work of inscribing the name of Detective Kristen Hearne and her date of death into the monument.

The monument features others who have died in the line of duty including William T. McCown of the Cedartown Police Department, John H. Buckner of the Polk County Sheriff's Office, Edward W. Jones of the Polk County Police, Billy A. Tanner of the Georgia State Patrol, Sheriff Frank Lott and Don F. Langston of the Georgia State Patrol. Erected in 2010, the new addition was the first since it installed on the courthouse grounds, and the ceremony provided a somber occasion to gather and remember all who have given their lives locally in law enforcement.

A group of gathered officers remained silent until the work was done, and before breaking up to get back to the work of the day Polk County Police Chief Kenny Dodd gathered representatives from all across the county together for a word of prayer.

The work completed by Goss, which was organized with the help of David Shelton of Valley Memorials on East Avenue, was just the latest step on the journey of remembrance and healing for the officers in the Polk County Police Department.

A journey Dodd said his officers are still struggling with daily.

"We as an agency still haven't gotten over it. I see it in the guy's faces, in the way they talk," Dodd said.

More than a month after Hearne's tragic death at the hands of accused suspects Seth Brandon Spangler and Samantha Michelle Roof, not much more has been released about the case itself and likely won't come to trial for many more months to come.

Yet the everyday work of law enforcement continues, and according to Dodd the shooting death is bringing his department closer together, despite officers leaving the job.

He said that overall, his department down 8 officers and the lack of new hires is providing problems in keeping the county fully covered 24 hours a day.

"We're struggling right now, but we'll make it through and continue to do our jobs," Dodd said.

Additionally, he said his officers are working just as hard to ensure each other's safety, along with those from other departments in the area.

"There's a concerted effort among my officers to really be on the lookout for each other," he said.

Efforts are still underway to honor Hearne from the county, but plans haven't been announced just yet by officials. Additionally, fundraising efforts continue for the trust fund established for Hearne's son Isaac.

Dodd's highest hopes are that these fresh wounds will heal with time, but that Hearne's memory will provide a reminder to those serving in local police departments to always be on the watch for danger.

Norovirus suspected at senior facility

Signs were up over the weekend at Big Springs Senior Assisted Living in Cedartown warning visitors they might want to come back another day after a virus outbreak within the facility.

Northwest Health District spokesman Logan Boss said that local health officials are still investigating what the virus outbreak is, but that residents and staff alike are experiencing symptoms that are linked to a norovirus.

"Norovirus is a relatively common infectious disease," Boss said. "What you always hear about happening on cruise ships, in schools a lot and in assisted living facilities quite a bit. It's nothing unusual.

"The real danger is when elderly people in particular contract norovirus, they can get dehydrated and it can complicate health problems they might be suffering from already."

Boss said that no real danger is posed to the community, but that Big Springs facility administration are asking family and visitors of residents to reconsider their visit for just a few days.

"They're also trying to isolate residents who are already sick in their rooms, and limit the amount of movement around the facility to limit any further spread of the virus," he said.

He added that "you don't want people coming in and being contaminated and then taking it back out into the community."

Though Boss said again that officials suspect norovirus, further testing will require several more days to confirm their suspicions.

He added the facility administration is following all recommendations for keeping residents who are sick from causing further spread, and taking proper cleaning procedures into mind.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, norovirus is highly contagious and infects young and old alike, typically gotten from someone already infected, or contaminated food, water or touching contaminated surfaces.

Inflammation of the stomach and intestines is the main cause of the symptoms suffered, ranging from stomach pain to more serious digestive issues.

Usually symptoms last no longer than 1 to 3 days, and most people can be sick with norovirus and never know it.

Washing hands carefully with soap and water - especially after using the bathroom, changing diapers — and always doing so before handling food is one of the best ways to keep from spreading norovirus if someone suspects they have gotten it.

Additionally, the CDC recommends washing fruits and vegetables and cooking seafood thoroughly, not preparing any food while sick, and thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting surfaces using a bleach water solution, roughly 5 to 25 tablespoons per every gallon of water. This includes everything one might have touched while sick, from countertops and door handles to sink faucets and chair arms, and much more.

The agency also suggests washing clothes thoroughly, and wearing rubber gloves while handling soiled laundry for as long as possible before wearing or using the items again. This includes towels and sheets.

2 big Veterans Day ceremonies Saturday

Veterans Day is coming up this weekend, and a pair of ceremonies are being held at memorials in Cedartown and Rockmart to honor the service of those who have stood at guard in the United States' armed forces.

While local offices are set to be closed — like the City of Aragon, for instance — the pair of ceremonies in Polk County will be held at the same time on Nov. 11, marking the end of the first World War in 1918, when Armistice Day was previously celebrated.

It became Veterans Day in 1954, and this year is the 99th time the country has celebrated the event.

Rockmart's Veterans Day ceremony put together by the American Legion Post 12 will be held at 11 a.m. at the Veterans Memorial in downtown Rockmart behind the Rockmart History Museum on Marble Street.

This year's guest speaker is Chick-fil-A owner and veteran Zach Thomas.

Thomas graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point and served his country as an Airborne Ranger Infantry Officer.

He has started multiple companies and been featured in Newsweek Magazine and on Good Morning America.

He married his high school sweetheart and they home school their six children on their family farm where he grew up. His varied interests include studying leadership and entrepreneurship, farming, riding his Harley, working on old cars with his son and dad, camping and spending time with his family.

He is currently the Owner/Operator of a Chick-fil-A franchise and serves as an Operator Coach for new franchisees for Chickfil-A Inc. He serves on the board of Life Impact, a nonprofit ministry, where he volunteers his time to coach Christian Vetpreneurs (Military Veteran Entrepreneurs). To sponsor a Veteran submit your request to Life Impact. He also serves on Congressman Tom Graves' Service Academy Selection Board.

In Cedartown, the Veterans Memorial Park will again provide the setting for the annual Veterans Day ceremony.

It will take place on Veterans Day at 11 a.m. and will feature Cedartown native United States Navy (Ret.) Command Master Chief Wade D. Willingham.

Willingham is the son of the late Rev. Monroe Willingham and Myrtice Willingham. He entered the service in 1964 after graduating from high school.

He is a graduate of the Navy Senior Enlisted Academy in Newport, RI. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in psychology from Saint Leo University and a master of science degree in education leadership from Old Dominion University.

Command Master Chief Willingham's 31-year Navy career spanned service in the Surface Navy on board USS Semmes (DDG 18), USS Forrest Royal (DD 872), USS Scott (DDG 995) and USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), the Amphibious Navy on board the USS Francis Marion (LPA 249), and a tour as a seamanship/amphibious operations instructor at Navy Amphibious School in Little Creek, Virginia. He served the Support Navy on board the USS Milwaukee (AOR 2), and a tour as a seamanship instructor and battalion chief at Navy Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island. Command Master Chief Willingham's last tour of duty was the Command Master Chief of Naval Station Norfolk, "The World's Largest Naval Station." He retired from the Navy in July 1995.

Command Master Chief Willingham's awards and decorations include the Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialists Award, Command Master Chief Badge, Navy Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal (3 awards), Navy Achievement Medal (3 awards), Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Navy Unit Award, Navy Battle "E" Award (3 awards), Navy Good Conduct Award (7 awards),] National Defense Service Medal (2 awards), Southwest Asia Medal (2 awards), and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (7 awards), Marksmanship Ribbon and Sharpshooter Ribbon.

Command Master Chief Willingham began a second career as a teacher at Monterey California High School in 1995 and retired as vice principal (Discipline/Attendance) in June of 2012.

Command Master Chief Willingham and his wife, Claudette willingham, currently reside in Norfolk, Virginia.

Additionally, Cedartown is holding a Veterans Day concert at the Cedartown Performing Arts Center featuring Drew Baldridge and Hunter Phelps. Veterans will be given free admission, and all others are able to get in for $12 in advance and $16 at the door.

Visit to purchase, and find out more at

Rockmart's Veterans Day ceremony

HOST: American Legion Post 12

WHERE: Veterans Memorial in downtown Rockmart

WHEN: 11 a.m.

Cedartown's Veterans Day ceremony

WHERE: Veterans Memorial Park

WHEN: 11 a.m.


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 770-749-0869 or email

The annual Thanksgiving dinner at the Nathan Dean Community Center in Rockmart is coming up on Nov. 18 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., provided for free by the Stocks family. Along with the holiday meal, there will be live music, toys and face painting for children along with much more. Donations are being sought. Contact Stocks to help at 678-719-1981.

Tickets are on sale now for a Veteran's Day concert in Cedartown. Visit for more information to find out how to purchase tickets now for event being held at the Cedartown Performing Arts Center on Nov. 11. Prices are $12 in advance and $16 at the door. Free admission for all veterans and active duty personnel.

Victory Baptist Church's Fall Revival begins on Sunday, Nov. 12. 2017 at 11 a.m. with Evangelist Rick Coram and musical guest Joseph Habendank. Services continue on Sunday at 6:30 p.m., Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Stockings of Love Christmas Bazaar will be on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Over 60 vendors will be selling all types of crafts, Christmas decor and a variety of gift items. Free admission and there will be homemade baked goods, apple butter, local honey, canned items and so much more. Breakfast and lunch will be served. Lunch plates are $5 in advance or $6 at the door and include BBQ Sandwich, Slaw, Baked Beans and Dessert. Brunswick stew and homemade potato chips will also be available. All proceeds go to purchase Christmas gifts and food for the children in Polk County.

Cedar Spring Missionary Baptist Church is holding their 150th anniversary celebration in Cedartown on Sunday, Nov. 12. Pastor James Wright will be providing the message. Come join the church for services on Sunday mornings anytime at their church at 126 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Cedartown.

On Nov. 1, 2017, Tallatoona CAP will begin accepting appointments for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) for Senior Households 65 and older and Homebound Households. Appointments for the General Public will be accepted beginning Dec. 1, 2017. 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 and click BookNow, or call 770-817-4666.

Stockings of Love consignment sale will be held on Saturday, November 18 in conjunction with the Christmas Bazaar from 9 am. to 3 p.m. Items include home goods, Christmas decor, small furniture, anything you may need except for clothing. There will be a half price sale starting at noon for items not marked "X" or "Firm." All proceeds will go to purchase Christmas gifts and food for the children in Polk County.

The American Red Cross and local volunteers will be holding a blood drive on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017 from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Nathan Dean Community Center on Goodyear Street. Visit to schedule a time to give, or find out more information about the requirements to donate.

The next West Georgia Spay/Neuter Clinic is coming to the Cedartown-Polk County Humane Society on Wednesday, Nov. 29. Head over to the organization's office at 608 Adam son Road, Cedartown, on Fridays from 4 to 7 p.m. or Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. to fill out an admission and prepay for the surgery. Those wanting more information can call 678-361-7304 for more information. Vaccines and tests are available for extra cost as well. December pickup dates are Dec. 6 and Dec. 20.

Order T-shirts now through the Polk County Police Department to help raise funds for the trust of Isaac Hearne. Contact 770-748-7331 to find out more details.

Also selling T-shirts is Sherry Anderson, with the next order being finalized today. Call the City of Aragon 770-684-6563, or through Anderson directly at 678-901-2065 for more information.

Have a fundraising event for the Hearne family? Email or call 770-748-1520 to share how people can donate to your efforts.

In charge of community relations at your local church? The Polk County Chamber of Commerce wants to talk to you. They are organizing an updated directory of houses of worship in the community and are hoping for the help of those organizers who want to get their information to as many people as possible. E-mail Mandy Mallicoat at or call 770-684-8760 for more information about being included in their updated church directory.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Cedartown, Georgia, 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

The Sit 'n Stitch crafters group meet each Wednesday except the last Wednesday of the month. Bring a sack lunch, a project of your own, or help out with a mission project and enjoy fellowship with other crafters. No special skills are required. For details contact Madeline Brown at 678-435-5032.

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

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are providing opportunities to local residents interested in hearing the message of Jesus Christ. For more information about how you can speak to local Elders, contact 687-852-7497, or visit their meeting house at 10005 N. Main St., Cedartown for worship services at 10 a.m. on Sundays.

The Cedartown Optimist Club selling the Turkey Raffle tickets for $1 each and in a giveaway of 15 turkeys this year. Those interested purchase tickets from any Optimist Club member, with all proceeds go to the development of our youth. Ticket sales end with the raffle drawing on Nov. 16.

The Ferst Foundation Community Action Team meets the first Monday of the month at 5 p.m., alternately in Cedartown and Rockmart. Call 404-862-1273 for the meeting location. Find out more about how to help improve childhood literacy in Polk County at

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 includes cases related to housing, employment, education, domestic violence, consumer fraud, wills and more. Call 404-206-5175 for more information.

The Polk County Alz heimer's Caregiver Support group will meet monthly on the first Monday from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Polk Medical Center. Those interested can join for fellowship and lunch in the cafeteria. For more information call John Giglio at 678-246-8188.

Join the Church of God of the Union Assembly, 32 Prospect Road, Rockmart, for praise and worship weekly. The church welcomes anyone to come and worship regularly on Sundays and Wednesdays as well. Praise and youth services are held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday nights, and services start at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday following Sunday School at 9:45 a.m. Call Pastor Jesse Starnes at 678-757-4572 for more information.

The Polk County Beekeepers meets the first Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. to noon at the Cedartown Library, 245 East Ave. Whether you are an experienced beekeeper, new beekeeper or want to learn all are welcome. For details email or visit

Cedartown Supper Club every second and fourth Tuesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. Held at 71 Woodall Road. Seventh-day Adventist Church. Enjoy a vegetarian supper and participate in a lecture on healthy, happy living. Free and for all ages. Each evening meeting provides a different menu and lecture topic. For more information about the supper club call 678-901-9184.

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.

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 or call 1-877-210-KIDS. Visit for more information.

Join Paul Craighead at the Rockmart Cultural Arts Center gallery for weekly pottery classes. They are held Tuesday and Wednesdays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. for $15 each, and $12 for a Thursday class from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Materials are included in the cost of the classes. Call Paul Craighead at 770-843-5302 with questions. Registration open at the beginning of classes.

Celebrate Recovery continues to meet in the First Baptist Church of Rockmart, 311 E. Elm St., on Monday nights with dinner at 6 p.m. A large group gathers at 7 p.m., and small share group gathers at 8 p.m.

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 or call 706-506-0649.

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 Cedar town. Donations are accepted.

Drug overdoses have become the leading cause of accidental death in the United States with heroin and other opiates being the largest contributor. Don't let a love one struggle with addiction. Narconon can help. Visit or call 1-800-431-1754 for help today.

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