Editorial

Generally we leave calling elections beforehand to the larger cable TV news networks, but in this case we’re so positive we’ll put our reputation on the line.

We’re not going to weigh in on the race for Rome City Commission as of yet, but as for Cave Spring we’ve called it. Here are the results:

For the position of mayor — we’re calling Rob Ware.

For the other two positions of the City Council — we’re calling Tom Lindsey and Joyce Mink.

Never mind the fact that they’re unopposed, you heard it here first.

On a more serious note, it’s good to see a hearty response to the upcoming Rome City Commission elections.

More participation in our elections, voting process and government is always welcome.

To those incumbents running again as well as those who have decided not to run again — we thank you for your service.

Long-term plans are needed

As a community we need to devise a long-term plan for coping with our homeless population.

There are often calls about panhandlers at shopping centers and businesses, among other things.

With frequent complaints about garbage along with piles of personal belongings and sometimes human waste left in public spaces — the police last week sought out some clarification with the City Commission.

And there was a good bit of community backlash. We don’t believe the police sought to criminalize homelessness, but they also have to know what the rules are when there’s a complaint.

We’ve seen the homeless population grow since Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital was shut down by the state eight years ago.

According to a recent review of the state’s mental health services, Georgia is not only failing to meet standards agreed upon with the Department of Justice, the existing services are declining.

As part of that agreement the state agreed to establish housing and services for thousands of people with mental illness, as well as put together services to help people avoid internment in mental hospitals.

Georgia has even gone so far as to ask the DOJ to end its oversight of the system in place for people with mental illness and developmental disabilities.

At this point the DOJ has not agreed to end federal oversight, according to a Georgia Health News report published this week.

It’s not going to change and it’s not going to get any better — for those with complaints or those who have no place to stay — unless we as a community work to do something about it.

There was a push for a community response to the homeless population in 2009, and it seems the city is considering revisiting that. It’s a good time to revive that project.

Not in my backyard

In a 2002 editorial we characterized resistance to carting coal ash from Plant Hammond in Coosa to a Huffaker Road landfill as a NIMBY — or Not In My Back Yard — argument.

The reasoning went like this: If we want power, this is the price we must pay for it.

Prior to the landfill, Georgia Power dumped coal ash in large reservoirs on their property.

These are the three coal ash “ponds” which contain non-biodegradable toxic metals — the residuals of coal combustion.

Ash Pond 3 was the topic of a recent report by the Southern Environmental Law Center conducted by Geo-Hydro Inc. According to that report, there is no question those toxic metals will leach out into the groundwater unless the reservoir is lined.

The pond contains over a million cubic yards of coal ash buried in the ground within a couple of hundred feet of the Coosa River. The company completed their long-term plan for the ash pond by removing the water and capping it in 2018.

Maybe that would have been the most cost-effective long-term problem somewhere else, but that area’s wet. In fact, it’s one of the first places that floods in this county during heavy rains.

Even if that ash pond is capped, the report stated, if it does not contain a impermeable liner it’s going to come into contact with underlying groundwater. If, or really when, those toxic metals come into contact with the groundwater, they will eventually be reintroduced to the water table by even minor flooding events, despite being capped.

So, back to NIMBY.

It’s already here in our backyard. It’s going to be there likely in perpetuity.

What do we do?

Well, honestly, not a whole lot other than ask Georgia Power to be a good corporate citizen.

The problem is there, but steps should be taken to keep the pollutants out of our water.

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