County lead­ers tout ex­pan­sion, needs in State of the Com­mu­nity

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL - By Kevin Myrick SJ Edi­tor

The an­nual State of the Com­mu­nity ad­dress not only pro­vides lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in Polk County an op­por­tu­nity to talk about their ac­com­plish­ments for 2017, but also for lo­cal or­ga­ni­za­tions who want to talk about their goals be­ing met an­nu­ally well, and state lead­ers too.

In part 2 of our cov­er­age, we take a brief over­look at what some of the com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tions and groups like the De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity and CASA have to say about how their year turned out, and what they are do­ing to im­prove.

Where does the state stand?

State Rep. Trey Kel­ley brought one mes­sage to lo­cal lead­ers and cham­ber mem­bers dur­ing the Oc­to­ber State of the Com­mu­nity event: Ge­or­gia is see­ing pros­per­ity, and is the top state in the na­tion for busi­ness.

“For the fourth year in a row, this is an ac­com­plish­ment we’ve all made to­gether and we should be proud of it,” Kel­ley said.

The 16th Dis­trict rep­re­sen­ta­tive talked about the ac­com­plish­ments the state leg­is­la­ture un­der­took in 2017, from keep­ing the bud­get fo­cused on ed­u­ca­tion be­ing a top pri­or­ity, but also on ad­di­tional spend­ing given over to im­prov­ing Ge­or­gia’s in­fra­struc­ture in the com­ing years, with both those ef­forts end­ing with more state funds re­turn­ing to pay teach­ers and pave roads.

He also talked about raises given to state-funded law en­force­ment and public safety or­ga­ni­za­tions, and growth of the state over­all.

Kel­ley said his goals in the com­ing year’s term will be to con­tinue to push for tax re­form, a cam­paign prom­ise long made and one he in­tends to keep.

He also touted how much state lead­ers are talk­ing up Polk County in the past years.

“When I’m in At­lanta, I of­ten get told that they come here to Polk County and love it here, es­pe­cially in this won­der­ful venue (In the Woods.)” Kel­ley said. “What an ex­cit­ing time it is for our com­mu­nity.”

Cham­ber see­ing growth,

is #PolkProud

Mem­ber­ship roles are grow­ing by the month, and the Cham­ber is all about pro­mot­ing how much lo­cal res­i­dents are #PolkProud of their com­mu­nity in 2017.

The Cham­ber of Com­merce set sev- eral goals in 2017, among them work­ing with the De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity of Polk County to start the LEAD Polk ini­tia­tive, en­cour­age mem­ber­ship growth, and get more in­volve­ment from the state in­volved in grow­ing tourism ef­forts. Those will come to fruition in Jan­uary 2018, when of­fi­cials are set to come to Polk County and help de­velop strate­gies for con­tin­u­ing to grow tourism lo­cally.

The Cham­ber also de­vel­oped part­ner­ships with the Down­town Cedar­town As­so­ci­a­tion and the Rock­mart Busi­ness Al­liance to work to­gether to pro­vide bet­ter ser­vices to mer­chants.

Cham­ber of­fi­cials also con­tinue to work on an ini­tia­tive to cre­ate a Polk County Cham­ber Foun­da­tion.

DAPC re­ports growth, LEAD

Polk Class of 2017

There was a lot of good news for the De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity of Polk County, the or­ga­ni­za­tion that usu­ally part­ners with in­dus­tries to get new busi­nesses to in­vest in Polk County, and ex­ist­ing ones to grow.

Cedar­town and Rock­mart both saw their in­vest­ments in 2017, and DAPC Chair David Wil­liams was happy to cham­pion the ar­eas of cap­i­tal growth made by those ex­ist­ing em­ploy­ers in Polk County. Miura com­pleted an ex­pan­sion, JCG Farms Feed Mill is still un­der con­struc­tion but mak­ing a mul­ti­mil­lion re­place­ment of their plant, and an­nounced ear­lier in the year was Meg­gitt’s big plan to ex­pand and hire as well in Rock­mart.

Cedar­town was no stranger to the spend­ing ei­ther. The HON Com­pany is hir­ing and spend­ing on new equip­ment, Ki­moto Tech fin­ished their new line and Cedarstream is build­ing a new pro­duc­tion fa­cil­ity in the North­side In­dus­trial Park.

Wil­liams was also quick to tout the other big news from the DAPC: their part­ner­ship with the Cham­ber to cre­ate LEAD Polk, a leadership and com­mu­nity training pro­gram de­signed to get more peo­ple in­volved in Polk County busi­ness, gov­ern­ment and phil­an­thropic or­ga­ni­za­tions.

Him­self a mem­ber of the 2017 class that grad­u­ates on Thurs­day, Wil­liams said that it has pro­vided a great ben­e­fit to all those who are par­tic­i­pat­ing.

CASA seek­ing help for

chil­dren in court

One of the items the com­mu­nity still needs work to im­prove is help­ing chil­dren who don’t have oth­ers to turn to for a voice when they en­ter the state’s care, and in court as well.

Court Ap­pointed Spe­cial Ad­vo­cates ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Belinda Bent­ley said the num­ber of vol­un­teers for chil­dren who find them­selves in fos­ter care through no fault of their own is grow­ing, but isn’t enough yet to match all those who need help with some­one who can be a pos­i­tive per­son in their lives.

Vol­un­teers in CASA are ev­ery­day peo­ple trained to ad­vo­cate for the best in­ter­est of abused and ne­glected chil­dren in­volved in ju­ve­nile court de­pen­dency pro­ceed­ings. The goal of a CASA vol­un­teer is to find ev­ery child a safe, per­ma­nent, lov­ing home as soon as pos­si­ble.

Right now be­tween both Polk and Har­al­son coun­ties, there are 224 youth in fos­ter care, but only 180 be­tween the Tal­lapoosa cir­cuit to cover both.

CASA cur­rently has 22 ac­tive vol­un­teers to help all of those kids, in­clud­ing sev­eral new ones who have been sworn in this fall.

To ad­e­quately serve all 224 kids in care, CASA needs 75 ac­tive vol­un­teers.

Polk and Har­al­son coun­ties com­bined have an adult pop­u­la­tion of ap­prox­i­mately 42,000. CASA could serve ev­ery child in care in Polk and Har­al­son Coun­ties if less than 2 out of ev­ery 1,000 res­i­dents could com­mit to be­com­ing a vol­un­teer.

Ar­eas of im­prove­ment in

ed­u­ca­tion

Polk School Dis­trict has gone through a lot of change over the past year. A new su­per­in­ten­dent Lau­rie Atkins was hired, the Polk County Col­lege and Ca­reer Academy cam­pus at Cedar­town High School opened, and ad­min­is­tra­tors have been moved around within the dis­trict.

But of all the things that Atkins and PCCCA CEO Katie Thomas pointed out have been the most pos­i­tive for the start of the 2017 school year: a sense of pos­i­tive change and a re­turn to sta­bil­ity within the sys­tem.

En­roll­ment num­bers are still on a growth curve, re­cent CCRPI num­bers have seen pos­i­tive shifts for­ward, and grad­u­a­tion rates are grow­ing were among the many items touted by of­fi­cials dur­ing the an­nual ad­dress.

They also asked for sup­port for the up­com­ing SPLOST ex­ten­sion to 2026 for build­ing pro­grams and main­te­nance projects, and seek­ing ad­di­tional com­mu­nity part­ners to help build up lo­cal busi­ness needs for the Col­lege and Ca­reer Academy for fu­ture em­ploy­ees.

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