Un­veil­ing set for plaza statue

♦ Po­lice also an­nounce their an­nual beard-grow­ing fundraiser as pub­lic safety agen­cies present up­dates.

Rome News-Tribune - - FRONT PAGE - By Diane Wag­ner DWag­ner@RN-T.com

A ded­i­ca­tion cer­e­mony for the Rome Fire­fight­ers Memo­rial Plaza is set for Oct. 20 at 10 a.m.

Con­struc­tion is wrap­ping up on the plaza at the cor­ner of West Sixth Av­enue and West First Street, be­hind City Hall.

A columned arch­way made from the key­stones of one of Rome’s 1870s-era vol­un­teer fire de­part­ments draws the eye of passersby now. The true fo­cal point — a bronze fire­fighter statue — will be un­veiled dur­ing the cer­e­mony.

Fire Chief Troy Brock said Wed­nes­day that nearly 300 in­vi­ta­tions went out to peo­ple con­nected with the memo­rial, but the event is open to the com­mu­nity and he’s ex­pect­ing a crowd.

“There’s go­ing to be a lot of foot traf­fic,” Brock said.

West First Street will be closed from 9:30 a.m. to about noon be­tween West Sixth Av­enue and Fire Sta­tion 1 at the cor­ner of West Fifth Av­enue. Brock said they’ll be bring­ing in fire ap­pa­ra­tus from other sta­tions to park there.

“It’s look­ing good,” said Floyd County Com­mis­sioner Wright Bagby, who chairs the county pub­lic safety com­mit­tee.

The pub­lic safety com­mit­tee, made up of rep­re­sen­ta­tives from nine de­part­ments rang­ing from an­i­mal con­trol to the 911 cen- ter, meets monthly to share up­dates.

Cathy Tay­lor of the Metro Task Force said mem­bers of the multi-de­part­ment agency put in 667 hours of surveil­lance in Septem­ber, made seven ar­rests and con­fis­cated $11,440 worth of street drugs. That brought the to­tal value of con­fis­ca­tions for the year to $532,029, she said.

The task force com­man­der, Sgt. Bran­don Ekey, said one of­fi­cer was ex­posed to an un­known sub­stance and was treated with the opi­oid an­ti­dote Nar­can at the hos­pi­tal.

The sub­stance was sent for anal­y­sis to the U.S. Drug En­force­ment Ad­min­is­tra­tion crime lab in Vir­ginia.

At full staff, the task force in­cludes three rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the city po­lice, three from the county po­lice and two from the sher­iff’s of­fice. Sev­eral, how­ever, are va­cant or filled on a tem­po­rary ba­sis.

As­sis­tant Po­lice Chief Tom Ewing said the de­part­ment is train­ing two re­cently grad­u­ated of­fi­cers who will likely be ready for as­sign­ments by the end of the year. Five more new hires are com­plet­ing their cer­ti­fi­ca­tions and are ex­pected to be work­ing alone by May. Four cer­ti­fied of­fi­cers are out re­cov­er­ing from var­i­ous in­juries.

“Hope­fully we’re go­ing to fill those two Metro po­si­tions once we get those other two trained up,” Ewing told the com­mit­tee.

The fire de­part­ment also is fill­ing its va­cant slots, with 14 new hires close to com­plet­ing “rookie school,” Brock said, although they’ll be los­ing 10 older em­ploy­ees by the end of the year. Most are due to re­tire­ments.

Deputy War­den Frank Cro­nan said he ex­pects to fill the sole va­cancy on the county prison staff this week, but Maj. Dave Rober­son of the Floyd County Sher­iff’s Of­fice said they’re al­ways look­ing for ap­pli­cants.

“It seems like ev­ery time we hire two or three, we lose two or three,” Rober­son said.

Ewing also an­nounced that county po­lice have launched their an­nual beard con­test. Of­fi­cers can pay $20 a month to let their beards grow from Oc­to­ber through De­cem­ber. The first month’s tak­ings fund the de­part­ment’s Christ­mas lun­cheon, the money col­lected in Novem­ber and De­cem­ber goes to breast can­cer re­search, he said.

Fire Chief Troy Brock

/ Diane Wag­ner Rome Fire­fight­ers Memo­rial Plaza on the cor­ner of West Sixth Av­enue and West First Street down­town awaits the in­stal­la­tion of a bronze statue, which will be un­veiled at a ded­i­ca­tion cer­e­mony set for 10 a.m. Oct. 20.

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