In the past couple of weeks we’ve learned that we’re losing two of our best — one in local government and another on the national stage.

Last week, longtime city commissioner and former Rome mayor Evie McNiece announced she’d not be running for her seat on the commission after 12 years of service — and we’ll miss her.

She’s been a moderating influence locally and did an amazing job as the mayor of Rome. On top of that she brought a hard business sense coupled with a ready smile and keen wit.

But her influence didn’t stop at the city limits.

State Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, in a letter to the editor, expressed her impact:

“Of the hundreds of cities in Georgia, they chose her to represent them as the finance chair for the Georgia Municipal Association as it dealt with issues all over the state. Not just for Rome, but for all cities in Georgia, she worked on issues with the Department of Revenue in transparency, in getting a fair share of sales taxes for cities, and in making sure that the marketplace was fair for local businesses that now compete on a world-wide basis. Many of the changes that we are just now seeing come to fruition were in part because of her work around the state.”

Then this week we learned we’re losing another moderating influence when U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson announced his retirement from public service.

The 74-year-old senator announced Wednesday he will retire from the Senate at the end of 2019, citing health issues including Parkinson’s disease.

He’s led an impressive and lengthy political career, bringing gravitas to the many different posts he’s served in since 1974. Many currently holding office in national posts could learn much from his example.

Isakson’s retirement means Gov. Brian Kemp will appoint someone to fill the role until both of Georgia’s Senate seats will be on the ballot in 2020. We hope that our governor will allow what is best for our state to outweigh party concerns as he considers his options.

Our representative U.S. Rep. Tom Graves, who has done well for himself while in Washington, D.C., has been listed among the possibilities. He’s in a pretty safe area of the state for the Republican Party without any serious challengers since he’s taken on the role.

It should be interesting to see how the shuffle shakes out when Kemp makes the appointment, and that will only play second fiddle to the 2020 election.

That election is going to supercharge politics statewide. Both parties are likely to pull out all the stops with such big stakes — not only the aforementioned Senate seats but the presidential election and House seats as well.

Maybe there will still be time to take a nap before everything gets ramped up.

Not only that

Our much maligned tennis center has been given some kudos this week.

The United States Tennis Association — the governing body for tennis in the U.S. — honored the Rome Tennis Center at Berry College as a 2019 Outstanding Tennis Facility.

This designation seems to fly in the face of those regular internet commenters who, despite evidence to the contrary, stick to their guns and claim the facility is useless and a financial drain on city and county resources. They continue to fire volleys when and where ever possible, regardless of the actual topic of a social media post.

This sad failure of a tennis center has had a $9.8 million economic impact on our community in the past two years, has regularly outperformed expectations and continues to bring many large tournaments each year to this area.

What does that mean for us? Well, this year through the month of July, the center has added another $3.29 million to the local economy.

What does that even mean? Imagine Panera or — now likely — Chicken Salad Chick on tennis tournament weekends flooded with those families who’re picking up a meal before resting at a local hotel and looking forward to the next day’s match.

That’s the kind of economic impact that we’re talking about.

On a side note, one of the highlights noted at the ceremony to recognize the tennis center was the fact that it was built above the Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility requirements with terraced levels so there are no barriers for wheelchair tennis players.

Well done, Rome and Floyd County.

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