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What's happening on the Fourth of July? Parades and fireworks

This Saturday’s Independence Day events will include parades in Cave Spring and downtown Rome and will finish with a grand fireworks show on top of Jackson Hill.

Cave Spring’s 35th annual Independence Day Parade will start bright and early at 9 a.m. Organizer Christa Jackson said line up will begin at 8 a.m. and end at 8:45 a.m. Anyone is welcome to participate in the parade as long as they show up during this time. Walkers will gather in front of Joe Hill’s Lawnmower Shop at the Old Depot on Alabama Street and wheeled vehicles will line up on Perry Farm Road.

“People are just so excited to get out and celebrate America with their families,” Jackson said.

She compared the parade to old Norman Rockwell paintings, with antique cars, wagons, and horses. Usually the parade has about 500 participants, but Jackson doubts that will be the case this year.

The best place to watch the parade will be in the Town Square and along Alabama Street. Families and groups must remain six feet apart from each other and masks are highly recommended.

Rolater Park and pool will also be open that day, as well as Local Joe’s restaurant and A&B Creekside Restaurant, Jackson said.

The Cave Spring fireworks are delayed until Aug. 29, since the city council decided there wouldn’t be enough room to properly maintain social distances recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Later, at 2 p.m., the Independence Day Celebration and Citizens Parade is planned at the Rome-Floyd County Law Enforcement Center on Fifth Avenue in Rome.

Organizer Dr. David McKalip said the event will begin and end in prayer for the nation. There will also be static displays of fallen veterans at the event as well as replicas of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Constitution, Declaration of Independence and Emancipation Proclamation.

“The event will be entirely positive and will only celebrate what unifies us as a people and the principles and social structures that help Americans strive for the common good,” McKalip said.

The parade will start on Fifth Avenue and travel down Broad Street to Second Avenue, then loop back to the Law Enforcement Center. There will be a small number of motorized vehicles and floats in the parade, such as classic cars and classic Army trucks carrying veterans.

The event will conclude with a reading of the Declaration of Independence following the final prayer.

Once it gets dark, Rome-Floyd Parks and Recreation will start their fireworks show at around 9:50 p.m. Zambelli Fireworks, which is nationally recognized for its stunning displays around the country, created a 20-minute show featuring 2,000 firework shells in different shapes and colors.

Parks and Rec Director Todd Wofford said the best place to watch the fireworks is “wherever you can see the flagpole on Jackson Hill.” Ridge Ferry Park will be closed to vehicle traffic this year, but foot traffic will be allowed in the south side of the park. Local radio station Q102 will offer a soundtrack radio broadcast that will time with the fireworks display.

If rain occurs, they will shoot off the fireworks at the next available window, Wofford said.

The parking lot of the Rome Civic Center will be closed due to proximity to Jackson Hill. The trails on Jackson Hill will also be closed.

Parking information for Downtown Rome can be found online at https://downtownromega.us/parking/.

The Rome Braves will offer a great viewing location from the parking lots surrounding State Mutual Stadium for $10 cash per carload. Lots open at 7 p.m. There will be limited concessions available on the front plaza along with a 20% discount to any shoppers in the team store. For more information, go to www.romebraves.com.

When parking, be sure to use public lots, Wofford said.

In past years, some motorists stopped on the road or on the side of the road during the show, which causes traffic problems and is a safety issue. RFPR asks drivers to refrain from stopping in the road and find a safe location off of the roadway to park and watch the show.

Fireworks safety

While Georgia law says you can set off fireworks anywhere from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., there’s an expansion on July 3 and 4 — to 11:59 p.m.

Fire Marshal Mary Catherine Chewning encourages people to be alert and watchful of wind and weather conditions when setting off fireworks. Fireworks should not be discharged directly over houses or structures; keep a fire extinguisher or a water hose nearby when setting off fireworks.

Chewning also cautions people to be mindful of neighbors with PTSD and those with animals, small and large, that are terrified of fireworks.

Mac Dempsey, Cartersville, a student at North Cobb Christian High School, follows through on a forehand shot during his opening round win at the Georgia Junior Open Challenger tournament in Rome on Monday.

Chickens, winery, mini-warehouse expansion on planning commission's Thursday agenda

A special use permit application for pet chickens in the Saddle Mountain neighborhood and a rezoning request for a winery on Billy Pyle Road are among the items on the Rome-Floyd Planning Commission’s agenda Thursday.

Billy Newby wishes to rezone his property from suburban residential to agricultural residential and also applied for a permit to start a winery on his 58-acre property.

The property itself is a vineyard and while it is already zoned suburban residential, it aligns more with Agricultural-Residential zoning, according to a staff report. The surrounding properties are similarly zoned and the change is recommended for approval with a few requirements.

Applicant Katherine Sho submitted a permit application so that she could raise pet chickens in her backyard on Pheasant Run and harvest the eggs for her family.

The Unified Land Development Code has special guidelines in place for pet chickens, such as a limit of only four hens, no roosters, no processing or slaughtering of chickens, no free range chickens and the coops have to meet setback requirements.

Planning Department staff recommended approval of the request.

Another special use permit application is also on the agenda for a manufactured home on Beverly Drive off of Williamson Street. The applicant, Marlem Nataly Gonzalez Ramirez, plans to demolish the house on the property and replace it with a manufactured home. This would be the first manufactured house in the planned subdivision.

Storage One, Inc. also is applying to rezone 10 acres behind Armuchee Self-Storage at 4753 Martha Berry Highway. The company, which specializes in miniature warehouses, wants to rezone 10 of its 53 vacant acres to the west of Stonegable Drive from suburban residential to heavy commercial. The lot would then be used to build additional warehouse units.

The planning commission recommendations are slated to go before the Rome City Commission or the Floyd County Commission for public hearings and final rulings.

The 2:30 p.m. meeting will be held over Zoom, with a few people in the Sam King Room at Rome City Hall. If interested in calling in, contact senior planner Brice Wood at bwood@romega.us.

Jackson Fishburn, a first-grader at Glenwood Primary School

New Ga. early care slot to focus on babies' mental health

A position funded in the state budget marks a giant step forward for plans to address trauma in the youngest Georgians.

Rep. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome, said that — despite major cuts due to the coronavirus-driven economic downturn — there’s a new specialized slot in the Department of Early Care and Learning. It’s the most important recommendation to come out of her Study Committee on Infant and Toddler Social and Emotional Health.

“We were able to keep the DECAL position on early childhood development, so that will move forward July 1,” Dempsey said. “It’s just profound.”

The House study committee spent several months last year looking into how babies’ brains grow and the implications for their adulthood. A host of experts, including Jamie Colvard of the nonprofit Zero to Three, testified that development is exponential during the first three years of life — and stressors at that point can leave scars that affect the child’s future abilities.

Dempsey and her committee members determined that a focus on helping at-risk babies and their families is a more effective way to ensure more Georgians are happy and productive adults. The benefits, according to their final report, are both personal — for the individuals — and financial, for the state.

A big sticking point, however, is a lack of funding to identify and treat young children experiencing trauma at home. State Medicaid policies don’t cover such assessments, which also discourages medical professionals from specializing in the relatively new field.

Dempsey said the person in the DECAL position will start setting the stage for a program in Georgia similar to those underway in states like Alabama.

“The two most important things are to help with the public education — to create an awareness and understanding of that first important year — and to look for grants and other funding to help develop the financial structure,” Dempsey said.

Under the Family First Prevention Services Act, part of the 2018 federal budget, states are supposed to shift their child welfare focus to preventative measures. Money has been available mainly for foster care, but now financing is being directed to more innovative programs.

Melissa Carter of the Barton Child Policy Center at the Emory University School of Law told the committee in December that it opens the door for a range of options. Applications are being accepted for strategies aimed at keeping kids connected to their family, school, community and peers.

The “First Five Alabama” program started with a grant that paid for a lead position, something like the DECAL slot funded in Georgia’s new budget.

Its coordinator, Dallas Rabig, explained to the committee how she worked with the University of Alabama to create a model for early intervention.

A partnership of state agencies and nonprofits, the program started in 2015 has been able to build on its successes to leverage a reliable funding stream, Rabig said.

COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to increase in Floyd, Georgia

Floyd County added seven more confirmed cases of COVID-19 Monday, bringing the total to 502.

After a period of slow growth, the county is joining the rest of the state, nation and world in marking sharper increases. Over the past seven days Floyd has seen 76 new cases of those infected with the novel coronavirus.

The number of people hospitalized with the disease also is ticking back up, with 13 currently being treated in local medical centers. That number is up three from Friday. Overall, COVID-19 has put 54 local residents in the hospital since the Georgia Department of Health began tracking cases.

One number that has stayed the same for a while has been deaths locally. There have been 15 deaths reported, but none since May 26.

Georgia had 79,417 confirmed cases as of Monday, an increase of over 2,000 cases overnight, following a similar rise the day prior. Six more people died — bringing the total to 2,784 fatalities — and 22 more were hospitalized.

The state has seen spikes in the number of new cases since reopening, and the number of cases has more than doubled since the shelter in place order was lifted for all but the most vulnerable populations.

When the order was issued by Gov. Brian Kemp on April 2 there had been 10,811 cases and 302 deaths reported. When the state was reopened on May 1 there were 31,273 cases and 1,458 deaths.

Free tests are available at West Rome Baptist Church, 914 Shorter Ave., and a number of other sites around Georgia. Visit the DPH website for times and locations.

U.S. has highest death toll in the world

The Associated Press reported that the number of confirmed virus cases globally has topped 10 million.

Worldwide confirmed coronavirus infections hit the 10 million mark Sunday as voters in Poland and France went to the polls for virus-delayed elections.

New clusters of cases at a Swiss nightclub and in the central English city of Leicester showed that the virus was still circulating widely in Europe, though not with the rapidly growing infection rate seen in parts of the U.S., Latin America and India.

Wearing mandatory masks, social distancing in lines and carrying their own pens to sign voting registers, French voters cast ballots in a second round of municipal elections. Poles also wore masks and used hand sanitizer, and some in virus-hit areas were told to mail in their ballots to avoid further contagion.

“I didn’t go and vote the first time around because I am elderly and I got scared,” said Fanny Barouh as she voted in a Paris school.

While concern in the U.S. has focused on big states like Texas, Arizona and Florida reporting thousands of new cases a day, rural states are also seeing infection surges, including in Kansas, where livestock outnumber people.

The U.S. handling of the outbreak has drawn concern from abroad. The European Union seems almost certain to bar Americans from traveling to the bloc in the short term as it draws up new travel rules to be announced shortly.

The infection surges prompted Vice President Mike Pence to call off campaign events in Florida and Arizona, although he will still travel to those states and to Texas this week to meet with their Republican governors. Those three governors have come under criticism for aggressively reopening their economies after virus lockdowns despite increasing infections in their states.

After confirmed daily infections in the U.S. hit an all-time high of 40,000 on Friday, Texas and Florida reversed course and closed down bars in their states again. Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey reversed himself and allowed cities and counties to require face masks in public even though he hasn’t been seen wearing one.

“This is not a sprint, this is a marathon,” said Dr. Lisa Goldberg, director of the emergency department of Tucson Medical Center in Arizona. “In fact, it’s an ultra-marathon.”

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar stressed that “the window is closing” for the U.S. to take action to effectively curb the coronavirus.

Azar pointed to a recent spike in infections, particularly in the South. He says people have “to act responsibly” by social distancing and wearing face masks, especially “in these hot zones.”

Speaking on NBC and CNN, Azar argued that the U.S. is in a better position than two months ago in fighting the virus because it is conducting more testing and has therapeutics available to treat COVID-19.

But he acknowledged that hospitalizations and deaths could increase in the next few weeks.

Globally, confirmed COVID-19 cases passed the 10 million mark and confirmed deaths neared half a million, according to a tally by the Johns Hopkins University, with the U.S., Brazil, Russia and India having the most cases. The U.S. also has the highest virus death toll in the world at over 125,000.