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Little snow expected for Rome as winter storm moves into Georgia

While Rome will be getting some wintry weather this weekend, the chances of snow accumulation are very low.

The National Weather Service is forecasting Northeast Georgia to receive the most snow and ice over the weekend, while Rome and the rest of Northwest Georgia will be receiving a mixture of snow, rain and ice.

According to a meteorologist at the Peachtree City NWS office, the biggest concern for Rome will be slippery roads this weekend.

Local public works and street department workers won’t be brining the streets until after the rain is gone and before the winter weather moves in.

On Saturday, there’s a 30% chance of rain, mostly after 3 p.m. That percentage will increase to 90% Saturday night with a low of 35 degrees.

A mix of rain and snow showers is expected Sunday with a precipitation chance of 90%. The showers will continue into Sunday night with a low of 25 degrees.

Statewide, Georgia Department of Transportation crews began treating interstate and state highways Friday morning with brine solution in an area stretching from the northern counties south to the line running from Columbus to Augusta.

While the forecast remained uncertain as of Friday afternoon, winter precipitation was expected to begin falling on Sunday morning, with two to five inches of snow likely in Northeast Georgia and up to eight inches at the higher elevations.

The metro region was expected to get up to one inch of snow and ice through Sunday night, James Stallings, director of the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency, told reporters during a news conference Friday.

With winds of up to 35 miles an hour possible, Stallings said fallen trees could cause power outages.

GDOT recommends everyone to stay home if you can over the weekend in case of icy roads.

Anna K. Davie students sew scarves as part of Mission Warm Me Up

Students at Anna K. Davie Elementary were inspired to help others after seeing people cold and huddled up under a bridge. As part of the Aspire Program, students began to sew together bright colors of warm fleece in order to make scarves.

“My students are all about helping people,” third grade reading teacher Carla Freeman said. “One day they were outside riding bikes and saw some people under the bridge and really wanted to do something for them. They thought about how cold it was and it made them so sad. We thought about what we could do to make them happy, keep them warm, and give them something they could have all the time.”

The task, named Mission Warm Me Up, brought students together to work diligently to pin and sew wide strips of cloth together to make scarves. Not only did the students determine for themselves what the project would be, they also assisted in working out how the project would continue once the scarves were made.

“We are going to donate them to the soup kitchen, and we’re going to take a little walk and give them out under the bridge,” Freeman said. “It’s the coldest time of the year and I think it’s the perfect time.”

Freeman stressed that the project reaches beyond academic standards, teaching the students invaluable lessons about themselves and those around them. They’ve done more than just embrace this new project, they conceived it, created it and went full speed into making it a reality for the good of others.

“It’s that socio-emotional aspect of teaching them how to care for somebody besides themselves,” she said. “As a teacher you teach reading and comprehension and all the standards, but the thing that they’re going to take away is how to treat people. To be able to look at yourself and see who you are and how you can help somebody else, that really makes them who they are. You can be a great reader, yet not a great person. You can be a great person and become a great reader.”

A more secure elections office expected to open in early March

This year’s election will feature a new elections board, a new elections supervisor and a new elections office to create a more secure and efficient elections process for Floyd County voters.

Renovations are currently underway at the Floyd County Health Department. The new elections office will be on the first floor of the building to the right of the main entrance.

Floyd County has been in need of a new elections office and facility for quite some time.

Currently, the office sits in the bottom floor of the Floyd County Administration Building on Fourth Avenue.

Many residents have complained of lack of parking and having difficulty finding the office. Furthermore, there is a lack of storage space for the voting machines and ballot counters. Some of the machines are even being stored in the building that also houses the morgue.

Now, the county is investing over $200,000 into renovating parts of the Floyd County Health Department on 12th Street to create a more secure elections facility.

Right now, they’re mostly in the demolition process, preparing the right side of the building for the office space, according to Floyd County Facilities Manager Ryan Davis. The first floor will also have an area dedicated to offices and a break room for the staff.

The new office will feature a viewing room for ballot counting and Logistics and Analysis testing. There will be a window that looks into the room for poll watchers to use during ballot counting.

This is a major step up from the storage closet in which the elections office currently houses the ballot counting machines. In previous years, people would have to crowd around the doorway to watch the counting.

Security cameras will be installed all around the office, Davis said. The ballot counting room will also have a keycard lock so that only elections office staff can access the room.

The county is also renovating a part of the second floor that will house all of the elections equipment and voting machines so that everything is under one roof. Davis said they’re still deciding on whether to make the room key card accessible or just use a regular key.

This storage area will be completely closed off to the public.

According to County Manager Jamie McCord, the facility will be finished by February and staff will be able to move in early March.

The new elections board will have their first meeting Tuesday at 10 a.m. They will be discussing the move to the health department, staffing of the elections office and other items. The meeting will take place in the Community Room on the second floor of the Floyd County Administration Building at 12 E. Fourth Ave.

Dhruv Patel, a West End Elementary School first-grader

Low inventory and high prices spurring a potential housing boom in Floyd County

After years with a flat housing market, it appears Floyd County may be in for its own small version of a housing boom.

Looking at the period from February 2021 into February 2022, the number of applications has skyrocketed to a level unheard of in the past decade. During that time frame there have been applications for 2,057 multi-family units and 1,245 single family detached homes.

Those numbers don’t even include the 1-2 people per day who come into the planning office seeking a permit to build their own single-family home, Assistant Planning Director Brice Wood said.

Brice Wood

One project, dubbed Avalon at Rome, makes up the majority of the multi-family units for that February 2021-22 time frame.

That proposal, brokered by Hardy Realty, has been submitted by Atlanta-based Fall Leaf Residential. It includes over 1,200 townhomes and apartments as well as commercial development on the corner of U.S. 411 and the Loop and is expected to go before the planning commission then Rome City Commission for approval in February.

Another, a proposed massive development in Silver Creek pitched as the Pleasant Valley Preserve subdivision by JTG Holdings, comprises the bulk of the single-family detached units. There’s been a concerted opposition to the density of that project by nearby residents.

If that subdivision isn’t approved for a road frontage reduction then the number of proposed single family homes may be reduced.

Another project the housing figures don’t include is expected to begin this year on West Third Street. The plan, pitched by Four Stones Real Estate Impact, is for a 15,000-square-foot event plaza with artisan retail space followed by work on building somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 apartments next to the Courtyard Rome Riverwalk.

The actual plan for the FSRE Impact proposal hasn’t been submitted to the planning department yet, Wood said. It’s not the only one.

“We have had numerous discussions with other developers who have yet to submit anything in writing,” Wood said. “There are also some developments that were approved prior to last February that are still being built out.”

Jimmy Byars

But why the interest now?

The Rome City Commission put together a housing committee to look at the lack of available and affordable housing locally. The consensus seemed to be that Rome needed to offer more incentives to bring developers here.

Both the city and the Floyd County Commission have worked to position the area as ripe for development. Currently a comprehensive redesign on the zoning codes is in the works. The current one, over 20 years old, has been described as a patchwork of amendments that has become an obstacle to developers.

As local leaders sought to solve the problem, it appears the market moved first.

Looking at the market overall the issue is a matter of supply and demand, Jimmy Byars, CEO of Hardy Realty, said.

Georgia Multiple Listing Services data 

This chart shows housing sales and inventory for the past 11 years. Although the 2021 data is not yet completed, the dollar volume of sales has far eclipsed the availability of homes.

In 2010, during the recession, there were 835 houses on the market and around $75 million in sales, Byars said. Fast forward to 2021, there were 102 houses on the market and they did over $300 million in sales.

“Those two factors: a massive amount of pent up demand and a low inventory,” Byars said. “We haven’t really built homes here in 10 years.”

The demand is driving up the average price of home sales: in 2010 it was $110,000, in 2016 it was $148,000 and in 2021 it was $240,000.

That trend isn’t just in Floyd County, it’s nationwide, Byars said. Homes going on the market are selling in less than a month, even higher end homes.

Eventually with new home builds the market will balance itself out, but that’s not likely within the next few years, according to a market report published by real estate listing website

That research shows that in the America’s largest housing markets there has been a shortfall of 1.35 million new homes since 2008. But home builder confidence is rebounding since the housing crash. Even with supply chain snags and labor shortages companies are doing everything they can to get homes built.

“The gap shrunk in 2021 and will likely shrink again in 2022, but the housing shortage will be a defining feature of the market once again next year,” Zillow report stated.