Newsletter. Our rant: ‘Sports tourism’ and putting 1,000 young people, families at risk? A closer look at $35 million Savoy auto museum. Calling it a season on our waterways. Peaks & Valleys.

Newsletter. Our rant: ‘Sports tourism’ and putting 1,000 young people, families at risk? A closer look at $35 million Savoy auto museum. Calling it a season on our waterways. Peaks & Valleys.



From the Georgia Department of Public Health: It tracks COVID cases from April 2020 through Sept. 10. Notice the purple line to the right. That’s the seven-day average of sick kids ages 10 through 17.


The intersection of living life and saving lives. That’s a hard balance these days, for individuals and for communities. As we see COVID cases surge, hospitals at record capacity and the obituary page growing by the hour, we ask ourselves a lot of questions. No one wants to stay home. Few want to be  part of the “cancel culture.” We even understand those who do and don’t want vaccinations, and are now making business decisions based on who’s protected and who isn’t.

That said, we put another 1,000 kids at risk last weekend. There was a packed, mostly youth tournament at the Rome Tennis Center at Berry College. Even at midday Friday, the parking lot was packed; the overflow on top of the nearby berm was filling. And then at Kingston Downs, the Georgia Cycling Race Series kicked off Saturday morning. The weather was gorgeous for both outdoor events; the venues were perfect. The photos show everyone have fun. In better days, we would have given into temptation to go to Kingston Downs just to take it all in.

So why the concern, especially outdoors? This delta variant has been especially hard on our kids. The above graphic shows the current impact, especially those 10 through 17. Some students contacting COVID locally have been ill for weeks, not just days. We’re hearing more about “long-haul” cases with teen-agers. Floyd County Schools — more than a month into the 2021-22 school year — is finally adding a virtual curriculum for sick and quarantined students. Another reactive step when we need proactive safeguards.

And yet here is Northwest Georgia, we’re open for sports tourism business, luring guests with tennis tournaments and bike races targeting our most vulnerable age groups. We’re doing so as emergency rooms, urgent care centers and pediatricians’ offices swell beyond capacity.

We all want our kids exercising and having fun. But at what cost? There’s an intersection between living life and saving lives. Have we crossed it with these events in the same flagrant way the city of Rome didn’t stop a First Friday concert hours after assembling senior medical leaders to accurately assess the dangerous state of COVID in our community?

Exactly what else must happen to convince governments and event organizers that we’re losing this particular war? An eighth-grade student has died. A 24-year-old college basketball coach. A school bus driver. And perhaps a 7-month-old girl.

They’re included in the 777 deaths recorded in our region since the pandemic began — and that’s not counting another 110 “probable deaths” from COVID. That’s nearly 900 souls and we’ve yet to “peak” in this delta wave.

Healthcare leaders will point to the vaccines as our only way out. As a region, we’re not doing too well with that.

Just as important is avoiding the “near occasion of sin” — that is, avoiding events that contribute to the spread.

We’re not going to well with that, either.

What to know about the Savoy Automobile Museum opening date Dec. 8 in Cartersville:

  • Cost: Estimated at $35 million by the AJC in 2018 in a story about tax breaks for several state attractions.
  • Site: 35-plus acres at Ga. 20 and U.S. 411.
  • Campus: Three buildings including 65,000-plus square feet with four exhibition galleries; a presentation theatre; on-site café; a storage garage at 30,000-plus square feet; and a 10,000-square-foot outdoor pavilion for car shows, concerts, cruise-ins, swap meets and more.
  • Kin to: Tellus, Booth and the Bartow History museums; all under the Georgia Museums’ family.
  • Jobs: Send your resume to “When positions are approved by the board and open to the public, we will notify those with information on file.”
  • How to follow: Website / Facebook / Instagram / Twitter

River Ratz Tubing & Kayak calls it a season. Shortened a Labor Day weekend by fast water, River Ratz is now closed for the year. Rick Dempsey posted Friday that “we may do some group bookings for kayaks. Thanks to you guys for supporting us another great year. See you next May.”

Dempsey and crew have shuttled tubers and kayakers back and forth on area roads in recent years, and are responsible for much of the activity on our waterways. COVID was a setback but the company rebounded in 2021. The concluding weekend was to be Labor Day but, as posted Sept. 6:

“Sorry to say, but River Ratz will not open again today. This is due too extremely high water levels. The water flow in the Etowah will not begin to fall until after lunch today. The water in the Oostanaula has fell some but is still very high due too heavy rain falls north of Rome.”

Much like other businesses in Euharlee and Cave Spring, River Ratz has offered a safe, fun and environmentally secure way to explore Northwest Georgia’s waterways. Euharlee Creek Outfitters will continue to offer river trips through Oct. 3. We don’t think Cedar Creek ever closes. Here’s hoping we find more great ways to safely get outdoors.

PEAKS AND VALLEYS: The highs and lows of Northwest Georgia.

Peak to those supporting the latest Rome GA Cares relief drive for Hurricane Ida victims. Some folks are writing checks. Others are dropping offer requesed supplies to the warehouse behind the North Rome Church of God. Students are assisting the sheriff’s ofice in collecting and decorating relief buckets. Once again, it is Northwest Georgia to the rescue. Some remember those who were on the receiving end here 10 years ago April after two days of severe weather. Once again, as a community, we’re stepping up for others in need.

Valley to the owners of the Chattanooga Times Free Press: A Sunday-only edition with everything else going digital by next June? “Free” iPads for those paying a monthly subscription of $34? All communities need newspapers and not just glorified weeklies. There’s still a market for print — and online. This isn’t the answer.

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