Cedartown is downright famous these days. It just keeps showing up on the small screen in all kinds of places, whether it be in television dramas shown during the week, or in the embodiment of the city’s greatest talents on Sundays.
Whether it was the cityscape playing a role as a setting for somewhere else, or a small town singer getting recognition for his talents on national television, Cedartown was in the spotlight in 2018.
Yet just because cameras were rolling for a lot of the action didn’t mean that it was all on film for the year. Cedartown also had a lot of changes on Main Street, from new businesses to even something as minor as a solar-powered flashing lights for those needing to cross the street. (Just happened as the year came to a close.)
So read on for some of our favorite highlights of 2018 in Cedartown, and think back on a year where this corner of the world shined bright.
Lights, camera, action!
Film crews returned to Cedartown in the past months to use Main Street as a setting for Tulsa, Oklahoma in a forthcoming HBO series bringing back “The Watchmen,” but not in the same vein as the famous graphic novel.
It looked like a real riot was going on in downtown Cedartown, but it was all just for show.
A block in downtown Cedartown was transported back in time ahead of the road closure, and all day Wednesday and Thursday the crews brought in extras, props, animals and even pyrotechnics to recreate the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot as part of a pilot for a new series.
Cedartown was chosen due to the architecture of one of the buildings downtown which closely matched a theater in Tulsa destroyed during the riot.
More than 300 extras were brought downtown for filming, and streets were shuttered from midnight of May 30 through midnight of June 1. Most businesses also remained closed for the two-day shoot.
Crews came into town on the anniversary of the Tulsa riots that took place right after the Memorial Day holiday in 1921.
“The Watchmen” series was later announced for a first season after a pilot episode was completed, with a lot of filming for the series happening right here in Georgia. Macon got a lion’s share of the project back in the spring.
According to online sources at the time, Damon Lindelof was announced as the director for the HBO series and based on the graphic novel created by Alan Moore. A 2009 movie was directed by Zach Snyder.
Cedartown’s hosting of film crews made for the latest visit from Hollywood to Main Street. The city was used as a backdrop for the third season of IFC’s “Hap and Leonard” in the most recent filming in downtown Cedartown.
“Hap and Leonard” premiered back in the spring featuring Cedartown.
It prompted the city to pass a film ordinance to control what is and isn’t allowed on city property when someone wants to shoot scenes in public spaces, and what permits and costs are involved.
The new film ordinance went into place just in time for film crews with Peachy Clean Productions to utilize Main Street.
Wastewater woes getting fixed
Long awaited fixes to several areas of the city’s wastewater infrastructure are finally set to get underway after a year of planning, getting loans approved and seeking contractors to tackle the work needed to ensure that sewage is going where it is supposed to, and coming out cleaner on the other side than when it went in.
City Commissioners began the discussion of what to do about wastewater updates earlier in the year, and with the help of low-interest loans from the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority, will be moving ahead on updates to two lift stations, making repairs to equipment at the wastewater treatment plant, and fixing a sewer line on Cave Spring Road.
All of this is going to cost city taxpayers $3 million once loans are paid off at 1.25 percent, much lower than what the city estimated they would have to pay for the project’s cost over the long term.
City officials finished up opening bids in December on the project, which from three different bidders came in at the lowest estimate of $2,282,000 for one portion of the project and another $718,760, which is just under $1,000 for the loan amount.
City manager Bill Fann said the slight difference is one the city should have no problems covering, and expects to be able to approve the costs in early 2019 and get work underway.
Always some kind of weather getting in the way of fun
Good weather worked out for the Cedar Valley Arts Festival and the Fall Festival downtown, but didn’t quite cooperate when it came time to jam out on Main Street.
Cedartown’s annual weekend in the spring was for a change bright and sunny weather, allowing local residents to shop for arts and crafts and check out what local school children submitted and was hung on the chain link fence of the tennis court. This year marked the 54th year of the event.
The summer weather wasn’t as cooperative for Cedartown’s annual Wheelchair 5K, Daniel Romanchuk returning to win a second year in a row and beat a record in the process. Romanchuk set a time of 9:40.92 for everyone else to try and beat during the July race.
He won the Peachtree Road Race ahead with a time of 18:39.42, then came to Cedartown just before coming to the racecourse on College Street.
Susannah Scaroni took first place in the women's division race with a time of 11:37.33.
Rain tried to wash out festivities for a second year in a row, and though a crash happened in 2018, the races were still run on time.
Wet weather did dampen the spirits of music lovers in Polk County who wanted to come out and enjoy concerts in downtown Cedartown this summer.
Two out of the three Fourth Friday concerts were washed out and had to be rescheduled later in the fall in 2018.
Downtown did enjoy a Fall Festival in October without any weather issues this year, but it felt more like summer as temperatures rose to 90 degrees on the first Saturday in October.
Flooding also proved an issue several times this year, with rain events in the summer and through the fall and into early winter causing waters to rise around the county.
During one event, the Cedartown area received more than 9 inches of rain over the course of several days, and one downpour that threatened to flood vehicles in July that brought more than an inch of rain over the course of an hour.
New businesses open in 2018
Business continued to grow in Cedartown during the year, including one big opening that gives people a reason to shop in the area, and more to come.
Cedartown’s Tractor Supply opened up in February during chilly conditions in Polk County, and shoppers have enjoyed opportunity to check out the store for many reasons ever since.
They’ve hosted opportunities for kids to come enjoy a small-scale petting zoo inside the store, held raffles, donated money back to 4-H programs and much more throughout their opening year in Polk County.
Shoppers looking for a variety of farm supplies can visit Tractor Supply at 1600 Rome Highway.
Planet Fitness also joined the community in Cedartown and the new 24-hour gym joins the chain of fitness centers around the country. They opened in May and began offering discounted memberships at their location at 770 N. Main St. transformed the building in the Kroger shopping center over the early months of spring and features a vibrant purple exterior.
Another big business announcement of note was the start of construction of the new Cedarstream building out in Cedartown’s Northside Industrial Park.
Contractors broke ground on the new facility that was expected to be wrapped up as the year was coming to a close and a few days of good weather helped out crews as December came to a close. The company plans to move early in 2019, pending any further delays due to weather.
Several other announcements marked positive gains in 2018 as well for Cedartown. Vitamin supplement manufacturers Norax announced their plans to expand this year, along with a whole new venture coming to property over near Cedartown Middle School.
The International Union of Operating Engineer’s Local 926 were getting into the final stages of taking over a portion of the Earley Property as the year came to a close after announcing their plans earlier in the year to move from Clayton County.
Their 90 acre parcel will be used to train heavy equipment operators, which will likely prompt additional growth in the months to come.
New businesses also opened up on Main Street, including Elite Rehab and Wellness, Craftsy House and A.J.’s Clothing – now moved down the street next door to the Cedartown Museum of Coca-Cola Memorabilia – and intentions for more to come.
That includes the recent purchase of the Moore’s restaurant with plans to reopen in 2019 sometime (we’ll get back to that soon) as well as the purchase of the A.C. Cobb building by Bill Lundy. Renovations of that space are on-going.
Speaking of renovations, several restaurants in the area underwent changes as well, including the McDonald’s on North Main Street that got a revamp of its interior area in the past months.
One last note of Cedartown business news is the retirement of one Dr. Popham and the new Dr. Popham to take over.
Back in May, Dr. John Popham took over for his father Dr. Ray Popham at the Main Street optemtry office next to the Polk County Courthouse complex.
A native of Cedartown, Bulldog alum and graduate of both the University of Georgia and most recently the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, he joins a legacy of eye specialists.
His grandfather was the late Dr. B.E. Popham Sr., and along with his father, his uncle B.E. Popham Jr., his great grandfather, Dr. A.O. Yoe, all serve or served as optometrists.
WILKES makes it on NBC’s The Voice, stops by for hometown concert
A lot of talent has come out of Cedartown in the past years. Among the names nationally known are Sam Hunt and his continued success in Nashville, or of course the now-Cleveland Brown Nick Chubb.
One more voice gets to add their name to the conversation and represent Cedartown to the world at large.
WILKES, who might be better known locally as Jason Wilkes, made it onto Team Blake and through several round of NBC’s “The Voice” this year. He made it all the way to the live playoffs before he was eliminated from the contest.
That didn’t stop him from performing however.
Back in October, WILKES was joined by other singers from around the area like Rockmart’s Isaac Streetman who made it onto either “The Voice” or “American Idol” in October for a show at the Cedartown Performing Arts Center.
It wasn’t his first time before a Cedartown audience. That happened back in seventh grade, when he felt stage jitters in a school performance.
His album “WILKES” is available on streaming platforms, and he also has more information about himself online at wilkesmusic.com.
Recreation growth big focus for city government
It was a good year for the Cedartown Recreation Department, and another one is in store as growth is on the horizon as 2018 comes to a close.
City manager Bill Fann touted improvements during the annual State of the Community address in late October in recreation, and among those he was excited to talk about were the Goodyear Park Soccer Complex set to get underway in the year ahead. The hope is it will be ready in time for the spring and allow for the growing youth program to utilize it instead of baseball and softball outfields.
He said that project was about to go to bid when he addressed local officials during the Oct. 30 event, and also talked about the forthcoming project at Turner Street Park to cover the basketball goals, updates to Biggers Field and much more in Cedartown’s overall community involvement.
Fann’s real highlight of the night was on recreation participation rate, with 649 youth signed up in programs in 2018, and 289 of those in soccer alone.
He added that youth from unincorporated parts of Polk County made up 56 percent of the overall participation in Cedartown youth sports.
West Cinema brings back big screens with a bang
Anyone who loves movies and has long been a patron of West Cinema in downtown Cedartown well knows that the famous theater was shut down for most of the year.
Leaks in the roof caused damage to the electrical system and screens, and gave owner Michael Tinney the opportunity to makes some real changes to Cedartown’s movie theater.
It probably felt like waiting for the commercials before the movie to get over for the theater to reopen this year, but back in November everything was finally ready for show time.
Business has been doing well since West Cinema finished up renovations, which included new bathrooms, a renovated concession area, VIP seating for the two main theaters as balcony boxes, two smaller theaters in the original balcony upstairs for a total of four screens and movies to see, and much more.