Hometown Newsletter: The Insider on a political surprise brewing; our building boom; merger mania; and higher taxes. Peaks & Valleys: ‘Charger in Charger;’ gas line blues. Rant: No to Forum ‘courthouse.’

Hometown Newsletter: The Insider on a political surprise brewing; our building boom; merger mania; and higher taxes. Peaks & Valleys: ‘Charger in Charger;’ gas line blues. Rant: No to Forum ‘courthouse.’

Welcome to a different idea from Hometown Headlines, something we’ve been thinking about as the community takes a break from the weekday news cycle. We offer:

  • The Insider: Some insight on what’s ahead.
  • What we’re watching: Trends of local interest.
  • Peaks & Valleys: The ups and downs of Northwest Georgia returns.
  • Week-enders: Notes and quotes.
  • Events: Some of the key things happening today or Sunday (postgame fireworks after tonight’s Rome Braves’ game).
  • The Closer: We get the last word with the Rant of the Week. Today: About the Forum and the courts.
  • Please give it a look and let us know what you think by emailing us.

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THE INSIDER: What we’re hearing …

… Politics never stops: We’ve certainly taken a time out from most of the daily declarations of who’s in for 2022 and we’re ignoring the pack of apparently starving media following the latest sound bite opportunities from troubling incumbents. We’ll save all that for qualifying time next winter/spring. But we do know a surprise is building with an announcement on the way. We also hear recruitment is under way for candidates in the Rome City Commission’s Ward 2 (three seats on November ballot plus the seven-member school board).

Another Smith Douglas home in Emerald Oak off Old Dalton Road in Armuchee.

Suddenly, a building boom: You’ve read about the housing (rental and purchase) shortage and skyrocketing home sales prices. Here’s another indicator to track — building inspections. The latest data for Rome and Floyd County shows 86 single-family homes were inspected between Jan. 1 and April 30 vs. 63 for the same four months in 2020. That’s a 36.5% increase. In April alone, 33 homes were inspected vs. 10 in the same month last year. April building permits show at least 30 single-family homes are under way, most of them from Smith Douglas.

… Time to start an M & A beat? The big players, such as the Wall Street Journal, have teams assigned to cover mergers and acquisitions. We might need one at Hometown. From healthcare to banking to insurance, 2021 already is being dominated by a surprising number of “couplings.” We’re talking Redmond/Advent Heath; Cartersville Medical/Piedmont; Heritage First/First Chatsworth; and Garner & Glover/Gallagher. All seem strategic, at least one cements the growing need to regionalize and another just makes business sense. Still, we’re only five months into the year with four in hand — and more expected (five if you count Floyd-Atrium but that was initiated in 2019). There have been a couple of courtships that ended as well (and one we wished would have happened).

... Bad week on Broad Street: It started with the Stella Blu going out of business sign which stopped traffic on Second Avenue and then the Jamwich announcement. Sure, there have been newcomers from Cheeky Baby celebrating one year this week to Olea Olive Oil & Wine to Newby Farm & Vineyard with Honeycream on the way just off Broad. Both Jamwich and Stella Blu were big draws with loyal fans. But then there’s new competition with the sandwich shops at East Bend (in addition to Doug’s Deli Downtown and other spots on Broad) and Ulta Beauty replacing Pier 1 at Riverbend Center.  We’ll see at least one more exit this summer.

... Greetings from the tax assessor’s office: Take a closer look at this year’s statement, which should have arrived in recent days. Be sure to look at two spots in particular — the “current fair market value” and then down to the far right corner under “total estimated tax.” It is likely your home’s estimate value has climbed — ours did by 7.2% and our estimated payment (rates aren’t final) is up 28.7% (after “senior” exemptions). We know housing prices are soaring but …


WHAT WE’RE WATCHING

The heat is on: We should see our first 90-degree high of the season today; that’s 8 degrees above normal. It will be even hotter early next week with some records in double-digit jeopardy. Ware Mechanical Weather Center.

Dining: There are three restaurants about to open, another on the move and probably a few players to be named later. See Monday’s Hometown Headlines for updates. (And maybe Sunday’s edition as well for a separate preview).


PEAKS & VALLEYS: The highs and lows of Northwest Georgia:

Don Green

Peak to the Charger in Charge: As Don Green leaves Georgia Highlands College after seven years, we simply say this: Thanks. The college president with the greatest Twitter handle in the state is off to a new challenge but not before taking the solid foundation of what once was Floyd College and reaching for the moon. He combined a focus on expanded four-year programs, an increased graduation rate and spreading his infectuous spirit among educators, administrators and staff. (Plus that’s one heck of a sports program).

Valley to this gas line work: We get it — the investment, the industrial upgrades, all of it. But what a nightmare up and down some main feeder roads in and around Rome. Longtime friend Mike Barger is posting nightly updates on the racket on his Facebook page. And now we see “chalk marks” on Turner McCall between Broad Street and Riverside Parkway. Progress is good; we just hope Atlanta Gas Light’s road-paving budget is well funded. We’ve got enough problems with our scared roads as is. Background

Peak to a 90-day trial of ‘public consumption’ in downtown Rome: This latest bid by the Downtown Development Authority is a win-win for all sides — allowing public consumption of alcohol in downtown Rome, including the River District. It would be for 90 days, Thursday through Saturday, and from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. It copies a similar, successful strategy in Cartersville except the City Council there OK’d it for a year. Additional research will be presented to Rome’s Alcohol Control Commission on June 21 and, if approved, it would move to the City Commission.

Geoff Duncan

Valley to Geoff Duncan’s decision not to seek a second term as lieutenant governor. We called him “Hardball” when he joined us on the radio edition during the 2018 election cycle as the former Minor League pitcher upset the presumed GOP nominee to eventually win the state’s no. 2 post. Duncan would go on to be a voice of reason in the 2020 election flare-ups, Big Lie, whatever you want to call it. He pushes a Republican agenda that puts Trump in the past — a move state and local incumbents fear in pursuit of re-election. Imagine that: A politician takes a stand and knows he’ll pay the price for it. Duncan’s spirit — Republican or Democrat — is what politics needs right now, not this pack of lemmings.


WEEK-ENDERS…

Quote of the week:

“Something different than the thousand Mexican restaurants in Rome and so very unique. Love your food. Hopeful you’re staying around the area, but just a different location!” — A fan’s reaction ot the announcement that Jamwich will close a week from today. (The only thing missing was the traditional mention of the tennis center).

Observations

From our multitude of jail reports from Floyd, Bartow and Polk counties this week came word that “Johnny Law” was in custody. Our career is complete.

Events

One of Mills Fitzner’s photos from 2016’s Rome Braves’ fireworks. More due tonight following the Braves-Hot Rods game.

Today: Pumped! and circumstance: Today’s graduations include…

  • Saturday: Rome High School will hold its graduation at Barron Stadium at 8:45 a.m. Masks will be required and social distancing guidelines will be in place.
  • Saturday: Unity Christian School at 10 a.m. at the school’s gymnasium.
  • Saturday at 8 p.m.- Adairsville High School, stadium.

Today: The Georgia Pinhoti Trail Association will designate Cave Spring as Georgia’s first Pinhoti Trail Town at its annual meeting  from 9 a.m. until noon at Hearn Inn, 13 Cedartown Street SW, Cave Spring. The Board of Directors will meet from 9 until 10:30 a.m., and then the meeting will be open to the public until noon. Background

Today: Harbor House will benefit from sales at  sweetFrog Premium Frozen Yogurt this Saturday, May 22. Make sure to let them know that you are there for the Harbor House fundraiser.

Tonight: South Rome Alliance and Kevin Allen Music Production present the first South Rome Music festival, aka KAMP in the Park, from 7 to 10 p.m., at Parks Hoke Park in South Rome, 201 Hardy Ave., SW. The outdoor concert to support South Rome Alliance will feature Jazz & Blues, Motown, Pop, Soul and other musical stylings from Kevin Allen Music Productions. Proceeds will help fund the educational and housing work of the non-profit South Rome Alliance. General admission tickets are $20.  Tables for eight are $400.  Children under 12 are free. Attendees are asked to please bring their own folding chairs, although some chairs will be available. For more.

Tonight: First fireworks night of the 2021 season. Rome Braves vs. Bowling Green Hot Rods; 6 p.m. first pitch. Fireworks following the game (we estimate 8:45-9 p.m.). Sponsor: RNT. Tickets: Rome Braves.


THE CLOSER

Rant of the week:

We declare a mistrial in the Case of The Purloined Forum: We object to seeing one of downtown Rome’s main drawing cards converted into strictly courtrooms. We very much understand the need for extra space in these pandemic times and The Forum is a quick fix amid a huge backlog of case. But not the solution (and certainly there are security risks with so many exits). Maligned as the venue has been over the years, mostly because of a lack of vision, its time may have come. Downtown is bustling; those West Third Street options are looking viable. This is when The Forum needs to rise — and we don’t mean when a judge enters the courtroom.

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