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Local
TREDing into the future

Rome currently has over 16 miles of paved, multi-use trails that lead from downtown to various destinations and is in the process of adding more.

TRED Executive Director Julie Smith said there are two big active projects in the works, the Redmond Trail Extension and the Lindale/Silver Creek Trail Extension.

The Redmond Trail Extension will eventually be a quarter of a mile paved trail that will connect the Mount Berry Trailhead to the end of the Avenue A/Levee Trail. It is a state project, but Rome, Floyd County and the group are partnering on the required funding match.

Smith said she hopes to see the ribbon cutting on the Redmond Trail Project sometime in 2022. “It probably will not be ready until next summer, but this new trail is a huge undertaking. It is a connecting trail, connecting Mount Berry/Summerville Park neighborhood to downtown. Hopefully building will begin this fall,” she said.

Contributed 

This map from 2014 shows a general layout of the trail system. The red line represents the Redmond Trail, which will connect Mount Berry Trail to the yellow trail leading towards Tolbert Park. The Mount Berry Trail portion of the map isn’t quite up to date, but the Redmond Trail portion is.

The Lindale/Silver Creek Trail Extension will start at the end of the Kingfisher Trail, behind the Floyd County Health Department on East 12th Street. It will run down to Lindale using the abandoned Norfolk Southern Rail line, ending at the train viewing station.

“This is very exciting because it is the very first trail connection that will go to Lindale,” Smith said, “and it is three and a half miles of new trail.”

It’s funded by the 2017 special purpose, local option sales tax, and Smith is hopeful construction will get underway sometime in the near future.

The new Lindale Trail will be directly connected to Georgia Northwestern Technical College, making it the third local college connected to the trail system.

Walk and Talk

Another exciting venture for TRED is their Walk and Talk series. On the last Saturday of each month the community can enjoy a free guided tour on one of Rome’s trails.

Saturday’s planned nature walk around the GE Trails at Garrard Park, however, has been postponed due to expected inclement weather.

Doug Walker 

Whitney Crawford enjoys a weekend stroll along the top of the Coosa River levee. A new quarter-mile section is planned to cross Little Dry Creek to link the levee trail with the Mount Berry Trail.

The next one is scheduled for May 29. Brice Wood, senior planner with Rome-Floyd County Planning Department and a TRED Advisory Board member, will lead a walk touching on the history of the River District and looking into the future revitalization plans.

A June 26 walk will be led by long-time exercise guru and coach Millie Lockley. This moderately paced walk will focus on proper warm up and stretching and will go from Kingfisher Trail Loop to Myrtle Hill Cemetery.

On July 31, Dr. Jimmy Douglas will lead a health walk along Mt Berry Trail. The Aug. 28 walk will feature Keep Rome/Floyd Beautiful Director Emma Wells discussing “Pollinators, Public Art, and Trail Trees” along the Ridge Ferry Trail. And on Sept. 25 TRED will lead a moderately strenuous hike on the Jackson Hill trails.

Doug Walker 

The 1.9-mile Mount Berry Trail begins behind the U.S. post office on Coligni Way.

Recycling trash into art

TRED, Rome Area Council For the Arts and Keep Rome-Floyd Beautiful are all partnering for a very special project.

“Trash that has been collected from the trails and rivers will be fashioned into an enormous sculpture and placed at the ECO Center and along the Ridge Ferry Park Trail as we do more of them,” Smith said. “We were just granted approval from Public Works, who will be installing it.”

A local artist has been commissioned to oversee the project.

“This first project will probably be completed in October, and we hope to make this a yearly thing,” Smith said.

Trail maintenance

TRED also is looking for a group of dedicated auxiliary men and women to help maintain the natural trails.

“We have a great relationship with the Rome Public Works Department,” Smith said. “They do a great job of maintaining our multi-use paved trails.”

TRED provides maintenance for the unpaved trails at Garrard Park, Blossom Hill and Jackson Hill, and this is where community volunteers are so needed.

“At our GE Trails, trash collects quickly along the corridor of Redmond (Circle) and Lavender (Drive). There is a lot of privet, poison ivy needs to be sprayed, and trees need trimming,” Smith explained.

John Bailey, File 

In this April 2020 file photo Mike Rousseau tamps down a gravel mix as Geremy Skeen brings more in a wheelbarrow during a scheduled cleanup at the GE Trails at Garrard Park. Volunteers worked to mitigate muddy conditions at the site.

Mike Rousseau has been a volunteer with the GE trails since the beginning.

“It took us about two years to prepare the trails. There were a lot of dead pine trees we had to clear,” he said. “We realized early on that if we were going to keep these trails open it was going to take ongoing maintenance. Since I live close, I volunteered to come out once a week and check the trails to see if anything needed to be done.”

A former GE employee who lives in the Garden Lakes area, Rousseau said they are in dire need of volunteers at the GE trails.

“We originally had around 28 volunteers and now we are down to about five,” he said. “Our group has dwindled. Some have moved away, and some have a lot of family activities on Saturdays that prevents them from being able to volunteer now.”

Among the tasks they tackle are cutting privet, collecting sticks, clearing rocks off trails, cutting down branches, staining picnic tables and benches and collecting trash.

TRED provides the materials — gloves, grabbers and bags — and helps coordinate details. Volunteers meet several Saturdays monthly at GE from 9 a.m. to noon.

John Bailey 

Signs list a perceived level of difficulty for trail features at the GE Trails at Garrard Park. The trail features were all built by volunteers and are maintained by volunteer and Floyd County Prison crews.

Rousseau said even if people aren’t able to attend a Saturday maintenance session, every little bit helps. If you see trash along the trail, please pick it up and place it in the nearest garbage can. And dog walkers, please be mindful of keeping the trails clear as you walk your pets.

If you enjoy Rome’s trails and you or your organization would like to contribute to helping maintain their beauty, contact Smith at 706-844-8509 or tredromefloyd@gmail.com.

To learn more about TRED or sign up for their newsletter visit TredRomeFloyd.com.


Business
Confluence: Turning 'what if' into 'what is'

Using the example of a journey up Mount Kilimanjaro, the Confluence keynote speaker urged potential entrepreneurs to map out where they want to be.

“Not knowing where you are going can have a pretty dramatic effect,” Curtis Morley told the group on Friday. “Do you have a goal, or is it a wish, or a hope, or a dream.”

A trek up a remote mountainside in Tanzania has inherent risks, and taking that trip without a map, or plan, compounds those risks.

His travel agent helped arrange for the Mount Kilimanjaro trip in 2020. When the pandemic hit, the agent’s business shrunk to virtually zero, he said.

Pivoting, that same travel agent then switched over to the adventure clothing business and then became involved in the luxury camping industry, termed glamping. She now has more than 200 domestic glamping sites because people still want to travel — they just have to do it differently than in the past.

Entrepreneurs and future business leaders alike were encouraged to transform their “what ifs into what is” Friday during the Rome Floyd Chamber Confluence conference at the DeSoto Theatre.

The University of Utah professor explained his formula for success involved setting specific goals and making them known to others.

He asked the audience to consider things like how much revenue do you hope to generate? What kind of time frame do you have for reaching that goal? What’s going to happen when you do reach the goal and why do you want to be in the business in the first place?

“What drives you, what’s your passion,” Morley asked.

Morley showed the crowd statistics indicating that as many as 30% of business don’t make it past the first year and nearly half don’t make it five years.

“Companies don’t fail, entrepreneurs quit,” Morley said. In explaining why entrepreneurs quit, Morley pointed to fears: the fear of failure, or the fear of having to layoff personnel in troubling times.

He encouraged entrepreneurs to proactively plan their next steps, not to give in to fear of failure. He suggested changing the F in what if to an S as in “What is my next step, What is something I can do today.”

The professor and entrepreneur said humans only have two innate fears, the fear of falling and he fear of loud noises. All other fears are learned, he said. If they can be learned, then they can be unlearned.

Learning together

Chamber President Jeanne Krueger said the purpose of the annual conference is to inspire people to learn, react and adapt to all of the things that are happening around us everyday.

The conference was initiated two decades ago as the Spectrum of Technology conference to highlight rapidly changing technologies and the growth of jobs in biotechnology

As part of that drive, Meaghan Kennedy, founder of Orange Sparkle Ball in the metro-Atlanta area, spoke to the conference via teleconference.

Kennedy’s company, called an innovation accelerator, helps people develop new ideas and bring them to the market.

Kennedy and several of her staff used five W’s to walk the audience of getting started.

The process involved determining what a problem might be, when a problem occurs, understand why it is a problem, where the problems can be solved and who a target user would be.

Vaccine advancements

Trudy Rey, a patent agent in pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, spoke about the technologies involved in developing the vaccines for COVID-19 so rapidly. The vaccine came about so quickly because much of the research was already in place.

She also said the COVID-19 vaccines have been much more successful than many scientists and researchers originally anticipated.

Rey also presented a graphic comparing other data relative to the risk of blood clots from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

U.S. health advisers on Friday urged resuming COVID-19 vaccinations with Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose shot, saying its benefits outweigh a rare risk of blood clots — in line with Europe’s rollout.

Federal health officials uncovered 15 vaccine recipients who developed a highly unusual kind of blood clot, out of nearly 8 million people given the J&J shot. All were women, most under age 50. Three died, and seven remain hospitalized.

Rey said that birth control pills have been linked to clotting in as many as 1,200 cases in a million women.

Clots have been attributed to smoking in 1,763 cases out of a million smokers and the coronavirus infection itself in 165,000 out of a million population.


Kamira Moore, Yoselin Vicente Perez and Angelique Velez Perez, sixth-graders at Main Elementary School


Local
Lack of consensus sinks coin operated game machines reform bid

ATLANTA — Efforts to reform Georgia’s coin-operated amusement machines business will have to wait until next year.

Legislation aimed at cleaning up the industry by offering game winners redeemable gift cards as an incentive to stop illegal cash payouts fizzled on the last night of this year’s General Assembly session.

The bill fell victim to a lack of consensus about whether and how to reform the COAM business.

During the 2021 legislative session that wrapped up at the beginning of this month, the gaming companies that own the machines not only disagreed with the convenience store owners who house the games. The two groups couldn’t even reach agreement within their own ranks.

“You’ve got folks fighting each other. We don’t think that’s good for the industry,” former Georgia House Majority Whip Edward Lindsey, a lawyer representing Norcross-based COAM supplier Lucky Bucks, said during a state Senate committee hearing. “We ought to be taking a little extra time before we move forward.”

While the COAM business is perceived as a poor relation to the Georgia Lottery, the industry has become the biggest revenue-raiser for the Georgia Lottery Corp. since the lottery took it over in 2013, state Rep. Alan Powell, the bill’s chief sponsor, said in a recent interview.

Last year, the machines brought in more than $90 million in proceeds to the lottery under a formula that dedicates 10% of those earnings to the state, and another $12 million in license fees.

“It’s been growing every year because people like to play these games,” said Powell, R-Hartwell.

At the same time, the industry has been plagued by retailers awarding illegal cash payouts to winners, Powell said. Under state law, winners are only supposed to receive merchandise or gasoline sold at the convenience store.

Powell’s bill calls for awarding gift cards to game winners as an incentive for retailers to stay away from cash prizes. As an enforcement mechanism, the measure also would fine violators and — more importantly — ban them from future participation in the COAM business.

“These gift cards should help clean up the paying out of cash in this industry,” Rep. Stacey Evans, D-Atlanta, said during a House floor debate on the bill.

The House passed Powell’s bill on the last night of the General Assembly session. But it had not reached the Senate floor for a vote before lawmakers adjourned minutes after midnight.

The reticence of the Senate to take up the bill on the session’s last night reflected opposition to the legislation aired during a lengthy hearing the Senate Regulated Industries Committee had held the week before.

A key complaint from both senators and lobbyists was over another issue plaguing the COAM business: the payment by gaming companies of illegal inducements to retailers to install a company’s games in their convenience stores.

“Most of the operators in the state want to see it done right,” Powell told committee members. “(But) some of the master license holders continue predatory practices when it comes to inducements or back-door methods of trying to take retailers from (each) other.”

Powell’s bill called for going after the offering of illegal inducements by providing for judicial review of complaints rather than having them heard by the Georgia Lottery Commission.

“It’s not right that if a case is made by the lottery against a retailer or master license holder, it goes to a hearing officer appointed by the … lottery commission,” he said. “There needs to be due process for the sake of fairness and what’s right.”

But state Sen. John Kennedy objected to shifting management of the COAM industry away from the lottery. Kennedy, R-Macon, chaired a Senate study committee on the COAM industry last year and sponsored a bill of his own on the issue this year.

“This bill takes tools away from the lottery that it currently has,” added Paul Oeland, senior counsel for Stockbridge-based United Gaming.

Others who testified before the committee objected to moving forward with the gift card provision. Lindsey said the lottery commission has yet to assess the results of a pilot project it launched last year testing the concept.

“The gift card ought to be put on pause until after the pilot program is finished,” he said.

On the other hand, Emily Dunn, an amusement game operator from Blue Ridge, gave the gift card a strong endorsement.

“The card is convenient. It is easy to use for players. It is transparent. It is easy to track and audit,” Dunn told the committee. “You cannot track cash. You can track a card.”

The months-long “interim” period before the 2022 General Assembly convenes next January will give the various parties time to try and work out their differences.

“That bill is alive and well over (in the Senate),” Powell said. “A senator or two has reached out to me to say they want to carry it next year.”


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