This column is sort of a hodgepodge of topics, so I apologize for jumping around. There are a few things I’ve observed around town recently that I wanted to comment on.

1. I went to the first Between the Rivers Farmers Market recently. It was set up in the parking lot at Bridgepoint Plaza. I love the idea. There were all sorts of things to buy including fruits, vegetables, candles, jams, flowers, honey, meat and crafts. Food vendors were there, too, selling coffee and snacks. Since it was the first of its kind, I’m hoping it will only get bigger and better. I will say, however, that I thought the prices were a little high for me, personally. I bought a bottle of jam for $7, which seems a little pricey for jam. But it was organic and delicious, so it was worth it. But I think the prices may have deterred a few people from filling up their shopping bags. However, since I am no expert at farmers markets, I could be wrong about that. Like I said, I think it’s a very cool thing and I hope lots of area residents support it.

2. This past weekend, there was a huge tennis tournament in Rome. I went out to the tennis center to watch a bunch of the matches, even though the weather didn’t always cooperate. It was great to see so many people in and around town just because of the tournament. When it rained, all those people went to a restaurant or a bar or they went shopping. I saw local folks posting on social media that some places even had to bring in extra staff to accommodate all the people coming in to their business. I know I keep saying that whether you realize it or not, the tennis courts are good for our community. I just want people to understand that just because you don’t get a personal check written to you when a tournament comes to town, that doesn’t mean those tournaments don’t benefit Rome and Floyd County.

3. It pains me to deliver the news that this past Saturday night at the Adult Prom, Y’ALL elected my arch nemesis — city manager Samuel Eugene Rich — as your Prom King. Now, I understand that it’s for a very charitable cause. The event took place at Taylor Estate and benefits the Night to Remember Foundation which in turn funds (among other things), the Alzheimer’s Association, the local Community Closet as well as health care supplies to low-income seniors. I didn’t make it to the event, but I saw photos and it looked like so much fun thanks in a huge part to Charisse Durham, who is the main organizer. It looked like everyone had a wonderful time EXCEPT that, as I stated before, Sammy Rich was voted Prom King, which I feel is a terrible miscarriage of justice. Prom King and Queen (Amber Taylor) were decided strictly by the amount of money they raised. I know that. BUT I still feel immensely betrayed by this community for allowing my mortal enemy to take home the crown. You’ve created a monster is what you’ve done. We will never hear the end of this. Do y’all know he even had a special sash that he was parading around in all night? According to an inside source, he refused to take it off even when he got home. That’s just like him. He probably already has “2019 Prom King” on his resume AND his LinkedIn profile. It will take me a while to recover from this vicious betrayal.

4. Remember one time I told y’all about my friend, Erin Ellison, who is convinced that a large predatory cat may be in the vicinity of her home out in the county? Well lo and behold, she’s ain’t alone. After I wrote that column, there were many people who wrote in saying they also believe that. Lots of folks claim they’ve seen a mountain lion or panther within Floyd County limits. Well, most recently, Rome’s Colin Powell took a photo of what he believes to be a large predatory cat near his home. I have seen the photo and I will reveal that photo in another column, BUT from the distance it was taken, it seems that there are mixed reviews. Some people (including Colin’s own wife) believe the photo shows a run-of-the-mill domestic cat walking through the underbrush. Colin, however, believes it shows a large predatory cat, based on its posture and build. He claims it could possibly be a Florida panther. According to Colin, the cats are moving farther away from their natural home range because the males have a large territory to cover and that our abundance of prey (deer and small game) makes it PLAUSIBLE that a large cat could survive in the area. I will consider Colin’s evidence and present it in an upcoming column.

5. It’s springtime and that means there’s lots of kittens and puppies all over Rome and Floyd County. Unfortunately most of those end up at Floyd County PAWS because some of you aren’t gettin’ your pets fixed. Please Please Please have your pets spayed and neutered. It’s the best way for us as a community to start controlling our problem of animal overpopulation. There are people in our community who bust their butts trying to find homes for these animals. They’re tired and they’re frustrated. And when they give up, then the community will realize how important their work is and it’ll be too late. Have your pets fixed.

Severo Avila is Features Editor

for the Rome News-Tribune.