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How about a few 2020 predictions
Return of Turner McCrawl: Well, it never really went away, those congested days – especially Fridays – on Turner McCall Boulevard. But wait until East Bend gets up and running in the fall of 2020, especially with that new selection of restaurants. One of the most traveled roads in Northwest Georgia is about to see a spike in traffic. And just wait until a few years from now when they replace the Turner McCall bridge.
Big retailers on campus: So we know a few of the players in the East Bend development but still have at least 20 others to identify. The Ledbetters say they’re close to commitments on 80 percent of the new stores and restaurants. What we’ve yet to find out: Who are the big anchors on the way? Also: Will those retailers-to-be-named-later have the pull to keep more Floyd County retail dollars from slipping outside the market or else online? Anything short of a Kohl’s or Academy or even Old Navy might not do it. Remember we’re a market that has lost Sears, Kmart and Circuit City in the past decade.
So what about Broad Street: The vibrant center of Rome could see some shake out as East Bend opens in terms of retail and restaurants. One of the best arguments against parking meters downtown was the advent of East Bend and acres of free parking. We’ll be watching this one closely next fall. Downtown is still shaking off the 2019 issues.
A new tone for Rome? Depending on how the mayor’s vote goes at the next Rome City Commission meeting, we could see city government adopt a different tone. Three incumbents are out and two new faces and one returning face are joining the board. Will the newcomers all side with the new era stance most took during the campaign or will they fall into place following the old guard already nervous as its grip on local government continues to erode. As that saying goes, “out with the old …”
County Commission countdown: Two members, Wright Bagby and Allison Watters, basically ran as a team four years ago. They’re up for new terms this year and have decisions to make about running again. Keep an eye on this one – and any potential challengers. The county board has split over the economic development mess. We’ll soon see just how deep those cracks run.
A House divided: So does an Alpharetta business woman rent or buy a home in Rome as she seeks Tom Graves’ seat or will several hometown candidates get into the race to be Northwest Georgia’s next member of Congress? Why do outsiders continue to believe Northwest Georgians can’t field their own candidates? Here’s hoping we see two “local” names if not more.
A new sheriff in town. That’s a guarantee as Tim Burkhalter isn’t seeking a fifth term. But who gets the post after election night, Nov. 3, 2020? There’s a grinding primary on the way (the GOP candidates will speak at the Floyd Republican Women’s meeting next Tuesday). We see the GOP race going to a runoff but a wise, longtime observer says it will be over in the primary even with three well-known candidates. Is any of the three that dominant among voters with less than five months to go?
The 2020 voter: Will we see another solid block of Republicanism up and down the ballot on Nov. 3, 2020, or are those hints of change we saw in the 2019 Rome City Commission election heralding even more drama at the precincts? With two U.S. Senate seats and a House seat in play, this is going to be the year of the voter – if the voter steps up on his own or her own and looks beyond all the political speak.
Media makeover: Northwest Georgia is overdue for a media shakeout. We’ve lost one radio station and other changes are under way. And then there’s the retail free flow into digital and other new media sources, further straining print and broadcast options. We’re curious to see who’s here – in their current format and distribution – by Dec. 31, 2020.
And what about New Year’s resolutions? We don’t believe in them but we do pledge to keep doing what we do in 2020. One change: We’re tightening our focus as we begin our 16th year serving Northwest Georgia, based on what you prefer to read and to ease the time crunch. Most important, we thank you for trusting us to continue doing what we do. Many colleagues nationwide say local news is dead or endangered because of the loss of newspapers. That to us is just another heap of … fake news.