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A closer look at locals

Several years ago I began thinking about writing a weekly column for the Rome News-Tribune. I had written columns and editorials many times before but never on a regular basis. For advice I turned to Lee Walburn. As most of you know, Lee is an award winning author, columnist and editor. He has written for the AJC, Atlanta Magazine, RN-T and Rome Life Magazine, as well as other publications.

What should I write about, I asked?

Among his many suggestions was that I write a column about anything I wanted, but something he thought would be of interest is a column with lots of local people, including quotes on things they say and think. Seems, according to Lee, most all of us have an interest in each other and what we are thinking about. Politics, spirituality, family, community, football, church, the list can go on and on. People like to see their names in the newspaper and not just in Roman Record.

“Name the column Broad Street and Beyond,” he suggested, “and put the names in bold face type. People will love it and some will call with comments and suggestions."

I didn’t start writing regularly until former managing editor Mike Colombo decided to continue his journalistic career at Floyd Medical Center.  Mike wrote a column similar to the one Lee suggested, and I didn’t want to lose that readership. So I started trying to fill his space. That’s no easy task.

Since I began writing this Saturday column I often think of Lee’s advice, but I have only used a few names and comments. Today’s column will be a first attempt. I’ll let you know how it goes, and I hope you’ll let me know what you think.

Many of you know Steve Kemp (we once called him Camp). Steve retired recently from his CEO position at  United Community Bank. Completing a 45-year banking career in Rome, Steve has helped many local people buy cars, homes, open businesses, and much more. He has witnessed the technological revolution that is transforming how we bank today.

The employees at the bank hosted a reception to honor him and his wife Ellen for their service to the community. You can’t serve a community for 45 years and not have your spouse recognized as well. Steve is a man of integrity as witnessed by his sons and daughters, and many others from across Northwest Georgia that came by to offer congratulations. He says he is going to enjoy his seven grandchildren. The grandchildren will enjoy him more.

Several elected officials made the news this week. Congratulations to Faith Collins on being re-elected as chair of the Rome City School board. Newly elected member Jill Fisher was voted vice-chair. Other newly elected board members were Dr. Melissa Davis, Alvin Jackson and John Uldrick. Returning members are Will Byington, and Elaina Beeman. Serving on the school board is a very important role and often times goes unnoticed. Rome is fortunate to have these folks and we look forward to solid leadership for our kids.

Brent Bell, Head of School atDarlington, spoke to a combined Thursday meeting of Rome and Seven Hills Rotary Clubs at Georgia Northwestern Technical College. Bell discussed education trends and the world. One of the changes in teaching Bell mentioned was teachers should not teach that  “robots are taking jobs, but that students must learn how to work the robots.”

Sounds like similar advice that Rome businessman and middle school football coach Rick Sargent gave my son Will and his teammates: “Don’t worry about the mule going blind, just keep loading the wagon.”

I hope you have enjoyed this attempt to make this space a little more personal and inform you of some of the many projects your friends and neighbors are involved in.

I’ll see Lee and his breakfast gang at Dirttown Deli and see what he has to say.

Otis Raybon is the publisher of the Rome News-Tribune.