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Local
Watters Street recycling facility up for sale

Floyd County is calling for bids to purchase the old recycling center property on Watters Street.

Prospective buyers have a month to submit a proposal. The request went up Saturday and the deadline for a response is 2 p.m. July 8.

Recycling operations were moved in January to a larger facility – modernized with SPLOST money – at 412 Lavender Drive in West Rome.

County Manager Jamie McCord has said several people have been keeping in touch with him since the decision last year to eventually put the property on the market. It’s nearly 1.6 acres on the corner of Calhoun Avenue.

The RFP states that the sale will be partially contingent on the intended use of the property. That’s a provision welcomed by Charles Love, president of the North Rome Community Action Committee.

“This is what we were hoping for,” Love said Monday. “The new comprehensive plan has a vision for North Rome and we want this to follow the plan.”

Among the questions on the short bid proposal form are if there will be any new jobs created and if there would be efforts to improve the look of the property. It’s currently zoned for heavy industrial use and the questionnaire also asks if there are plans to change that.

Love said the committee is slated to discuss the proposed sale at its Thursday meeting. He mentioned the boost that came with the rental store on Callahan Street that replaced a building once used as a small-business incubator by Georgia Northwestern Technical College.

“We wouldn’t like to see any heavy manufacturing or industrial operation there,” Love said. “Some retail or something like Action Rent All.”

Both the GNTC building and the recycling center site were part of the old Fox Manufacturing facility, which used a variety of chemicals such as lead and arsenic. The land is listed on the Hazardous Site Inventory maintained by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.

Cleanup activities have been conducted and there’s a program in place to ensure any remaining contamination doesn’t migrate off the site. The property can’t be used for homes, but is considered to pose little risk for businesses and other activities where people don’t stay all day.

The Watters Street tract belongs to the joint Solid Waste Commission. A committee of Rome and Floyd County commissioners and staff is slated to make the decision on the sale.


Education
County takes first steps in Pepperell Middle demo

Demolition and abatement of Pepperell Middle School began Monday as work crews started clearing the site to prepare for a new facility with construction starting this fall.

Abatement will take about eight to 10 days, Superintendent Jeff Wilson said. Parts of the building will be demolished so crews can have full access to the building, he added, with the rest of the building to come down later.

The new school will sit on the same property as the older building. Once the site has been cleared, the board will have to wait for their capital outlay request from the State of Georgia to be approved, a process that is estimated to be completed around the first of September.

A timeline for completion of the project has not yet been set since the board has not bid out a construction manager at risk to oversee the work.

The project is being paid for through a 1-cent education local option sales tax and currently is estimated in be around $20 million. Since the project is in the planning phase a final cost is yet to be determined.

The system is putting exit-only doors and fewer entrances to enhance security, Director of Facilities David Van Hook said at a previous board meeting. The school will also have its media center and lunchroom closer to the front office since these are the most visited parts of a school, adding an extra layer of security.

While planning for Pepperell Middle is underway, Floyd County Schools is also beginning to develop a new five-year facility plan.

The new plan will be ready by March 2020, but in the meantime the system will be evaluating other facility needs, like whether or not to keep Pepperell eighth graders at Pepperell High after the new middle school is completed.

While Pepperell Middle is being constructed, the eighth-graders are being housed at PHS. The Eighth Grade Academy will be a separate wing at the high school according to letters sent home by the school. There have also been meetings with the local school governance teams about the transition while the new middle school is being constructed.

The remaining sixth and seventh graders will be housed at what is now the former McHenry Primary building.

The over 100-year-old primary McHenry closed at the end of the 2018-2019 school year with its students now to attend Pepperell Primary in the fall.


Karleigh Cox, a fifth-grader at Pepperell Elementary School


Jamie McCord Floyd County manager

Jamie McCord


Education
City schools sign intergovernmental contract

The Board of Education for Rome City Schools met Monday evening at 5:30 p.m. to finalize the selling of a single issue bond in order to fund the Rome College and Career Academy which broke ground in May.

The board signed three resolutions Monday night during the called meeting with board attorney Chris Twyman and Bill Camp of Raymond James Public Finance both giving brief presentations to the board.

“It’s a safe investment,” Camp said of the bond.

Superintendent Lou Byars said Camp has been working with the Rome Building Authority while they have been working towards selling bonds to fund the Rome College and Career Academy.

Selling bonds through the Rome Building Authority would give Rome City Schools an estimated sum of $23.8 million to put towards the Rome CCA which the system will receive by June 27th. Byars has expressed in previous meetings that he would like the Rome CCA to be ready by the 2020-2021 school year.

Waiting on funds from the 1-cent education local option sales tax would delay the project up to five-years, Byars said. Due to a continued rise in construction prices the school board and the city decided to re-purpose the Rome Building Authority to sell bonds so to receive the funding for the project upfront and then pay the bond back with monthly ELOST collections.

The principal of the bond will be paid back by 2024, Camp said, with an interest rate of around 1.4%. Byars added the rate may change slightly as the bond matures.

The system anticipates around $500,000 a month in ELOST funding with some months showing slightly higher collections. Camp said he is hopeful that after the Rome CCA is complete there will be about $1.5 million left over that can be applied to other construction projects in the system.

The bond will be issued under the City of Rome’s name, Twyman said, and the school system approved signing a resolution agreeing to be financially responsible for the bond. The board also signed a resolution giving the Rome Building Authority permission to sell bonds.

The city school board will meet for their regular board meeting on Tuesday with caucus at 4 p.m. followed by their regular meeting at 5:45 p.m. both are open to the public.

This meeting will include the second public hearing of the Fiscal Year 2020 budget and those who wish to ask questions about the systems budget may sign up at the meeting. The board will also conduct a second reading of eight board policies.


Local
SPLOST work starting at Floyd County Jail

Crews with Carroll Daniel Construction began mobilizing equipment Monday to build the new training center at the Floyd County Jail on New Calhoun Highway.

“They’re starting to dig for the foundation now,” Jail Administrator Bob Sapp said. “That will take about two weeks, then we get it inspected and they pour the slab.”

The prefabricated metal building is expected to be installed by the end of August. But it will take another two or three months to finish the interior, he said.

The building will house classrooms, a weight room, dining area, kitchen, some offices, showers and rest rooms. FCSO personnel are currently training in a temporary trailer on the site.

The center is Phase I of the two-part jail medical expansion project that’s funded from two special purpose local option sales tax packages. Voters approved $2.2 million in the 2013 SPLOST and another $5.2 million in 2017.

Sapp said the training and fitness center was moved out of the jail so that its space can incorporated into the larger project – turning a whole pod into a 60-bed medical and mental health facility.

Construction is slated to be done before the end of 2020.

“For the next 12 to 16 month, parking is going to be tight,” Sapp said, noting that larger equipment and storage trailers also will be moved onsite when the interior work gets underway in earnest.

Some of the work inside – gutting the interior, cutting up concrete and metal fixtures – is already being done by inmate labor crews from the county prison.

“It’s hard work, but these guys can demolish things,” Sapp said. “Thanks to the warden, thanks to the county manager, we’ve saved thousands of dollars already.”

Sapp said he expects to issue a call for bids on the Phase II work within a month. Carroll Daniel Construction is the project manager; Peacock Partnership is the design and engineering firm.

They’re also working to line up fixtures including windows and doors.

“The economy is good, so there’s a huge competition for materials,” Sapp said. “And we’re in an industry where you can’t just go to Home Depot. You’ve got to order months in advance.”

Meanwhile he said they’ll be a little lenient about parking in the lot, “as long as it’s a reasonable spot.” Parking along the edge will likely be overlooked, but the two marked restricted spots are off-limits. They’re reserved for secure swaps, mainly children between custodial and non-custodial parents.

“It’s going to be tight, but there’s really nothing we can do,” Sapp said. “It’s an important project and, even though there’s a short-term inconvenience, in the long term it’s going to be better for everyone.”