We’re now seeing some movement on the former Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital property — and this is why it’s a good thing. Some detractors immediately struck out at Georgia’s lack of mental health services but unfortunately it’s an apples to oranges comparison.

The best use of that property isn’t necessarily tied to mental health and substance abuse support services. As a matter of fact, the property lying dormant sucked over $3 million each year from the state’s Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities budget.

That money desperately needed to be used to provide services for Georgians who need it.

The former state mental hospital off North Division Street closed in 2011 after a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice that affected hundreds of patients and employees.

We were extremely hopeful of Global Impact International CEO Jeff Mauer’s proposal of a HOPE Village and still are. It seems like a dream come true for our area and we’d like to see the idea come to fruition.

There’s no argument that we’re in desperate need of the kind of services once provided by the state’s mental hospital system and the dream of HOPE Village doesn’t have to die with this sale.

There are other locations here on which the dream the Mauers proposed could be realized, and we as a community should support that idea.

But the former hospital property is fertile ground for development. Here’s what we said this past February.

“One, it’s centrally located.

“Two, again, it’s upwards of 130 acres.

“Three, it already has utility connections.

“Four, it’s already flat.

“Five, it has access to rail service.

“What’s more to ask? Well a lot, but we’re convinced there are smart people here who can work out the details.”

This kind of partnership, like a similar recent one off Cartersville Highway and Bass Ferry Road, is what makes this community great. Let’s keep it up.

So thank you to all the hard work put in by Rome-Floyd County Development Authority President Missy Kendrick, City Manager Sammy Rich, Mayor Craig McDaniel, County Manager Jamie McCord, County Commission Chair Wright Bagby, RFCDA Chairman Jimmy Byars, RFCDA Secretary Doc Kibler, state Reps. Eddie Lumsden and Katie Dempsey, state Sen. Chuck Hufstetler and all the others behind the scenes who made the deal a reality.

There’s a lot of hard work ahead, and it’s not likely we’re going to see any visible progress for a little while. The demolition of the multiple buildings on the property will be done in phases and we’re expecting there’s going be expensive asbestos mitigation work needed as well.

Regardless, the ball is finally rolling and that’s good news.

Disagreement doesn’t have to mean division

We need to all remember that we’re Americans foremost and then consider our political desires and goals. We’re all guilty of forgetting in one way or another. All of us have said these following words during the past four presidencies:

“Biden is a...”

“Trump is such a....”

“Can you believe Obama...”

“Bush just did...”

Those are all duly elected presidents of our nation and it’s our Constitution-given right to criticize their administrations. We should certainly utilize that right. But the folks on the other side of the political fence are still people. We agree sometimes; we disagree sometimes. But these are our neighbors, our coworkers, our family members and our FELLOW AMERICANS.

Not all Republicans agree with Trump or Bush and not all Democrats agree with Biden or Obama. That’s not even taking into account the other large political parties in this country who are often in free-for-all “well you guys all messed up again” mode.

We’re all still people and we’re all still worthy of consideration and kindness and we’re all still living in this country. Let’s remember the unity formed by an attack on our country and at the same time count our blessings that such an attack is a rarity.

We are all truly blessed to be here, and need to look out for one another to our mutual benefit.

Get vaccinated and thank you for reading.


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