Hot Air Balloon Festival 2018

Pilot Stuart Enloe from Balloon Atlanta begins inflating his balloon showing onlookers the process of filling the balloon during the 2018 Hot Air Balloon Festival at Richard B. Russell Regional Airport. / Doug Walker

Floyd County Commissioners are expected to sign off tonight on a contract that will bring a hot air balloon festival back to Richard B. Russell Regional Airport.

High winds cut into activities at the inaugural Rome Hot Air Balloon Festival on Sept. 14 and 15 last year, but the event still drew crowds.

Organizer John Cavin brought his character balloons and numerous hobbyists from around the country to show off their collections. Although the wind speed prevented inflation at times, visitors also enjoyed arts and crafts vendors, food and aviation displays.

The Rome Floyd Chamber estimated an economic impact of $1.08 million over the two days and county commissioners have indicated they’d like to see the festival as an annual event.

The board starts its pre-meeting caucus at 4 p.m. in the County Administration Building, 12 E. Fourth Ave., followed by its business session at 6 p.m. Both meetings are public.

Among the other items on the agenda are proclamations recognizing the Armuchee Ruritan Club, Rosie the Riveter Day and Teen Driving Safety.

Commissioners also are expected to award a contract for a space-needs analysis covering county facilities. County Manager Jamie McCord said a committee has been looking at options since a call for proposals closed Jan. 10.

The study includes assessing the current and future use of county-owned buildings and making recommendations based on projected needs. Moving some offices, remodeling or expanding the buildings and acquiring new space for operations are all possibilities.

A space utilization study conducted in 2001 by Atlanta-based Rosser International made recommendations through 2015, although not all of the suggestions were implemented.

Court functions were projected to have the biggest growth over that period, outstripping the available space in the Judicial Center, and that prediction has come true.

Juvenile Court Judge Greg Price presented a SPLOST request from court officials for a new $22 million building but it wasn’t included in the 2017 special purpose, local option sales tax package. Price said a fourth Superior Court was added since the last analysis and the district attorney’s office has expanded at least 25 percent to keep up.