Rock­mart get­ting ready for new year

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL - By Sean Wil­liams SJ Cor­re­spon­dent

2017 was an ex­plo­sively pro­duc­tive year for the city of Rock­mart that saw new busi­nesses, new recre­ation, and hard-work­ing cit­i­zens that con­stantly lent aid to their home to the best of their abil­ity. While there were ups and downs, kin­ship and lo­cal aid en­sured the city made it through any trou­bles.

Here’s a re­view of some of Rock­mart’s most shin­ing mo­ments- whether they are born out of joy or ad­ver­sity.

Tourism, de­vel­op­ment, busi­ness

As early as Fe­bru­ary, the city seemed al­most hard-wired on boost­ing tourism and com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment. Fri­day, Feb. 10 marked the first meet­ing to get ready for the Tourism Prod­uct De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity Re­source Team. The Polk Cham­ber of Com­merce gath­ered the Tourism Prod­uct Team for a stake­holder meet­ing that helped de­ter­mine var­i­ous goals or ideal for Polk that would in­crease tourism, the De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity of Polk County con­tin­ued to hold monthly meet­ings, the Re­think Rock­mart group was still fight­ing blighted prop­erty. While not the only rea­sons, the town has seen un­prece­dented pop­u­la­tion and busi­ness growth since.

Later in March, Rock­mart na­tive Zach Thomas an­nounced he would be open­ing a Chick-fil-A in Rock­mart, and the store has been bring­ing in un­prece­dented traf­fic since open­ing for busi­ness on Sept. 14. It wouldn’t be long af­ter that Martin’s would be­gin sell­ing break­fast in Rock­mart on Sept. 28 even fur­ther in­creas­ing lo­cal’s eat­ing op­tions and bring­ing in more visi­tors. Plenty of other lo­cally owned, non-chain busi­nesses opened up in­clud­ing Now and Then an­tiques, Rock­mart Dis­count Mall, Trea­sured Thrif­tique An­tique Mall, and Fast Trac Car Wash, among others.

En­ter­tain­ment and fun

The an­nual Home­spun Fes­ti­val, Rock­mart’s premier op­por­tu­nity to buy and sell crafts, was a big hit in 2017 with sold-out ven­dor spa­ces and hun­dreds of at­ten­dees. The week­end-long event took place on June 21 through June 22 and saw live mu­sic, the Ki­wa­nis car show, and a visit from the Shriners be­fore the event was closed with the tra­di­tional fire­works.

The city’s River­walk Fes­ti­val ush­ered cit­i­zens to Se­aborne Jones Park on Oct. 17 where a slew of crafts, games, food, and con­tests were up for grabs. The day-long fes­ti­val fea­tured var­i­ous mu­si­cians in­clud­ing Dal­ton Dover and Isaac Street­man, and lo­cal ven­dors were sell­ing home­made goods all day long.

Any­one who finds them­selves in­side Rock­mart will know the down­town the­atre al­ways has some­thing to watch, and Rock­mart’s Th­es­pi­ans made sure any­one pass­ing through might be in­ter­ested in stay­ing for a show. March 26 marked open­ing night for Rock­mart High’s pro­duc­tion of ‘ Sweeney Todd,’ and sev­eral other shows were per­formed dur­ing the year in­clud­ing ‘A View from a Bridge,’ ‘The Lit­tle Prince,’ and ‘Seussi­cal,’ among others.

The town’s Christ­mas pa­rade made a re­turn on Dec. 1 with the theme “The Sounds of Christ­mas.” Dozens of cit­i­zens lined the streets as float af­ter float made its way through the city’s down­town area. Busi­nesses were open dur­ing the pe­riod, and the best floats re­ceived cash prizes.

Over­com­ing ad­ver­sity,

and good will

Like any city, Rock­mart has trou­bles. Cit­i­zens aren’t im­mune to dis­ease, hard­ship, or death, but with solid team­work and good­will, the town man­ages to come out on top.

On Nov. 8 the late de­tec­tive Kris­ten Hearne, killed on duty, re­ceived end­less sup­port from lo­cals who do­nated to her son’s, Isaac, trust fund. While not only Rock­mart en­ti­ties con­trib­uted, the city no doubt helped raise the over $52,000 do­nated to the Hearne fam­ily.

Aug. 20 saw the Rob­bie Pod­skoc White- the late co-founder of Ge­or­gia Can­cer Sup­port ben­e­fit con­cert raise over $ 5,000 for GCS. Bands Shel­ter, Party of 5ive, Pea Val­ley Fly­ers, and Whiskey Dixie played for a mas­sive crowd of do­na­tors at Rock­mart’s down­town the­atre, and the con­cert is sure to hap­pen again in 201

Vic­tory Bap­tist Church started the sum­mer off with a car show that raised over $1,400 for the Stock­ings of Love Min­istry that seeks to aid needy fam­ily year- round with cloth­ing, food, and gen­eral as­sis­tance. Over 73 lav­ish cars and large sup­plies of concessions drew lo­cals to the event.

When nearly 9 inches of snow hit Polk and dozens were left with­out power, the city’s of­fi­cials han­dled the sit­u­a­tion cleanly and en­sured cit­i­zens were safe. Once the snow cleared and roads melted, the city left nearly un­scathed with no fa­tal­i­ties.

File, Kevin Myrick / SJ

Cus­tomers dine at the new Chick-fil-A in Rock­mart.

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