YEAR IN RE­VIEW

Land­mark year wraps up in Rock­mart

The Standard Journal - - FRONT PAGE - By Kevin Myrick [email protected]­stan­dard­jour­nal.net

This year was one for the record books in Rock­mart.

Between busi­ness ex­pan­sion, one of the best sea­sons in re­cent mem­ory for the Yel­low Jack­ets foot­ball team, and lights go­ing above South Mar­ble Street, there’s a lot to cel­e­brate on the east side of Polk County.

Cel­e­brat­ing all the pos­i­tive gains in Rock­mart this year also comes with some tragedy as well as the months went by. Some­times, you have to take all the good with some of the bad.

Even with this fact of life, op­ti­mism is abun­dant as the com­mu­nity along Euharlee Creek took Polk County by storm in 2018, even when a few times this year those wa­ters rose and threat­ened down­town after sev­eral days of rainy weather (in­clud­ing at time of writ­ing, as the year ends.)

What read­ers in Rock­mart can take away from the year is progress in all ar­eas: busi­ness, ed­u­ca­tion, high school sports and even in the look of the down­town area. It’s no small mir­a­cle that growth took place over the past year, but in­stead was all due to the will­ing­ness for peo­ple of all walks of life to roll up their sleeves and get work done lo­cally.

Here’s a run­down of some of the high­lights of note for the year:

Christ­mas mir­a­cle in Rock­mart

Rock­mart’s then un­de­feated foot­ball team headed up the an­nual Christ­mas pa­rade, and then as if by magic things got a bit brighter above South Mar­ble Street in down­town Rock­mart.

New string lights went up over the down­town area and were turned on for the first time as they an­nual Christ­mas pa­rade came through in the first phase of light­ing go­ing above down­town streets, in­clud­ing Church streets and around the front façade of the Rock­mart His­tory Mu­seum.

Rock­mart’s Stacey Smith, who heads up the city’s Depart­ment of Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment, said it was her hope the lights would come in and be up in time to shine down on the city as Santa came to town.

It all worked out as if Hol­ly­wood had come to town with a script in hand and cre­at­ing some­thing for cable. The un­de­feated Yel­low Jacket foot­ball team marched at the front of this year’s pa­rade right be­hind po­lice cars clear­ing the way, and one mo­ment it was darker than nor­mal over Mar­ble Street. In the blink of an eye, down­town Rock­mart’s nights just got brighter.

The lights came on over Rock­mart thanks to Atkins Elec­tric, which Smith said did the heavy lift­ing of in­stal­la­tion of strands of lights over South Mar­ble Street, which aren’t com­pletely done yet but will be added to in the weeks to come. The elec­tri­cians got up on lad­ders to flip the switches for the first time, cre­at­ing a hol­i­day mir­a­cle com­pleted by Santa Claus rid­ing in on a fire truck and turn­ing on the tree in front of the Rock­mart His­tory Mu­seum for 2018.

“They save our town and cre­ated a scene from a Hall­mark Christ­mas movie,” Smith said in a text. “They went above and be­yond.”

Foot­ball team makes it to the Benz

Speak­ing of the foot­ball team, our con­grat­u­la­tions con­tinue to go out to the Yel­low Jack­ets for their 14-1 fin­ish. We’ll have more to say on the sea­son in this week’s sports sec­tion (one fi­nal week of cov­er­age for 2018) but we did want to add a few lines here about the im­pact it made on the com­mu­nity.

Oh how it did. The talk of ev­ery­one this past fall was how well the Jack­ets were com­pet­ing in Class AA foot­ball, after hav­ing started the sea­son with a win over Cedar­town.

Dis­plays of sup­port went up through­out the sea­son, but es­pe­cially as they got deeper into the play­offs and on­ward to the state ti­tle game against Heard County.

It might have not worked out in the sto­ry­book fash­ion ev­ery­one wanted, but the achieve­ment is still some­thing to be proud of and ap­plaud in 2018.

We’ll only add here at the pa­per our hopes for a re­turn trip in 2019, and maybe one for the ri­vals in Class 4A as well…

One thing to add: the foot­ball team wasn’t the only ones to have a good year in high school ath­let­ics. The Lady Jack­ets soft­ball team won the Re­gion 7-AA cham­pi­onship again and made it to the first round of the Class AA play­offs.

Both bas­ket­ball teams fin­ished the year with play­off ap­pear­ances. So did the Yel­low Jack­ets base­ball team. The com­pe­ti­tion cheer squad made it to the se­cond day at the state cham­pi­onship as well. Cross Coun­try run­ners com­peted at the state level too.

The point be­ing that we should cel­e­brate all of the high school ath­let­ics pro­grams and their achieve­ments through­out 2018, and con­tin­ued sup­port as the new year starts.

Cap­tain D’s opens, Pop­eye’s com­ing soon

This year saw more restau­rant ex­pan­sion on Nathan Dean Park­way, and the by­pass just got more op­tions for those who ei­ther want to sit down or get a quick meal.

Asif Jari­wala got to open his dream restau­rant in Rock­mart back dur­ing the sum­mer with the help of his cousin Za­heara Momin. It was Jari­wala’s 12-year quest to bring Cap­tain D’s to Rock­mart ful­filled, but that the new restau­rant con­struc­tion was com­pleted right on time.

Jari­wala, who owns the Dairy Queen in Rock­mart as well, said he bought the prop­erty with the hopes of bring­ing the seafood restau­rant chain to Polk County way back in 2006.

The restau­rant opened up just ahead of the July 4 hol­i­day for cus­tomers, who pre­vi­ously had to make a trek to Cedar­town to en­joy the restau­rant’s seafood and chicken op­tions.

Join­ing the new restau­rants as the year is com­ing to a close is Pop­eye’s Chicken, which be­gan con­struc­tion later in the year on the site of the for­mer home of the Sonic Drivein. They broke ground in late July, and were ex­pected to be fin­ish­ing up the restau­rant as the year comes to a close and into early Jan­uary. (Keep track of Polk­stan­dard­jour­nal.com for more about when Pop­eye’s will be open­ing up.)

Sher­iff’s Of­fice opens up satel­lite of­fice in City Hall

When Rock­mart res­i­dents want to find out more about ser­vices the Polk County Sher­iff’s Of­fice of­fers, they used to have to go all the way across High­way 278 to just out­side of Cedar­town, to the home of the Sher­iff and the Polk County Jail within the Det. Kris­ten

Hearne Pub­lic Safety Com­plex.

Now they have a se­cond op­tion: stop by city hall.

Sher­iff Johnny Moats said back dur­ing the March open­ing of the new of­fice that the satel­lite lo­ca­tion al­low res­i­dents who have busi­ness with the Sher­iff’s Of­fice to come dur­ing their busi­ness hours to re­ceive as­sis­tance.

Moats added that a kiosk to al­low rel­a­tives or friends of in­mates in­car­cer­ated within the Polk County Jail can also de­posit cash into ac­counts.

A sec­re­tary is in the of­fice Mon­day through Fri­day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., along with deputies as well. The of­fice will be closed on week­days for lunch.

Those who wish to reach the Rock­mart of­fice can call 770-684-2724.

City en­joys sev­eral cel­e­bra­tions through­out 2018

The City of Rock­mart played host to a num­ber of fes­ti­vals this year, round­ing out the cal­en­dar with cel­e­bra­tions of Welsh her­itage, en­joy­ing Ge­or­gia Cities Week, the an­nual Home­spun Fes­ti­val in July, even gath­er­ings in the fall for the an­nual River­walk Fes­ti­val and the Fes­ti­val of Treats at Hal­loween.

Rock­mart’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in these events hit record lev­els for both ven­dors and at­ten­dees, even with some­times less than ideal weather.

All the events – start­ing with the WELSH Fest in March – will be back in 2019. The city looks to keep sea­sonal events in place through the year in hopes of at­tract­ing tourism into the down­town area along with the uti­liza­tion of the Sil­ver Comet Trail.

One area that will make it

eas­ier in the fu­ture to hold events is forth­com­ing de­vel­op­ments for the Church Street Manor prop­erty. The hopes are that once plans be­gin to take shape and work on the acreage across from Se­aborn Jones Park is com­pleted, it will al­low for an ex­pan­sion of of­fer­ings when fes­ti­vals come to down­town Rock­mart.

Isaac Street­man gets shot at fame on “Amer­i­can Idol”

A young man with a dream of mak­ing it big as a mu­si­cian got a shot this year on the re­turn of “Amer­i­can Idol” to tele­vi­sion, and Rock­mart’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive made it some­what far. Street­man was one of many fea­tured on the show, cho­sen by judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Ritchie to take part in the 15th sea­son of the re­vamped show on ABC.

Street­man didn’t win the big prize and fame and for­tune he sought, but has since be­come a bit of a lo­cal celebrity. He’s played at South Mar­ble Cof­fee, lo­cal fes­ti­vals and con­certs, ele­men­tary schools and many more places in the time since.

He even took part in the “Path to Fame” con­test in Pi­geon Forge, mak­ing it past au­di­tions.

Those who want to see him play can head on Jan. 4 to Sut­ton’s in Car­roll­ton, or visit face­book.com/the­isaac­street­man to find out more about dates he has planned, see videos and much more.

RBA folds into Cham­ber as new com­mit­tee

Ear­lier in the year, busi­ness own­ers in Rock­mart who had for decades gath­ered to­gether

in the Rock­mart Busi­ness Al­liance de­cided that it was time to re­or­ga­nize their ef­forts and merge with the Polk County Cham­ber of Com­merce.

The group an­nounced the de­ci­sion in their fi­nal meet­ing in April and voted to ap­prove be­com­ing the Down­town Rock­mart Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee within the Cham­ber of Com­merce, and act as am­bas­sadors for the busi­ness com­mu­nity within the down­town area.

One of the ef­forts the group un­der­took this year was pro­vid­ing fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance with putting up string light­ing above the down­town area, and also to use left­over funds from the or­ga­ni­za­tion to get new sig­nage.

That project was set to ex­tend into 2019, but is both a ma­jor ini­tia­tive for both the com­mit­tee and one the city also wants to un­der­take.

Ran­dom crime also im­pacts Rock­mart

It wasn’t all roses and glory for Rock­mart in 2018. At times, crime also made a big im­pact on the area and made the news in a big way.

One of those cases from the year in­volved the April ar­rest of 21-year-old Quintin Ari Glover, who was ac­cused dur­ing the spring day of rob­bing the Big Bear Con­ve­nience Store, then bar­ri­caded him­self in­side the Abun­dant Life Com­mu­nity Cen­ter not far away.

He stayed in the build­ing for sev­eral hours prompt­ing au­thor­i­ties to call in SWAT team mem­bers from Rome to help close off the area and search the house.

Glover later turned him­self in with­out fur­ther in­ci­dent.

Po­lice also noted a Rock­mart-area shoot­ing that has thus far gone with­out an ar­rest – at least based on the lat­est in­for­ma­tion avail­able at press time.

Back in Septem­ber, a De­catur man was shot at a Pine Moun­tain Street ad­dress and drove him­self to the Tri­an­gle Foods park­ing lot, where he later was taken to the hos­pi­tal and treated.

Polk County Po­lice re­ported back then that 50-year-old Mal­lory McClar­ity had only been vis­it­ing the area when he was shot.

RHI opens re­source cen­ter

One other area where peo­ple in Rock­mart are try­ing to make a pos­i­tive step for­ward is in help­ing the home­less pop­u­la­tion.

Ear­lier in the year in April, the Rock­mart Home­less Ini­tia­tive opened out a re­source cen­ter on South Mar­ble Street, which has ex­panded to be open six days a week for peo­ple to uti­lize a va­ri­ety of help.

That in­cludes food for those in need, cloth­ing clos­ets, a place to rest dur­ing the day if peo­ple are sick or stayed up all night, and even help in get­ting a state is­sued ID, one of the first steps to­ward find­ing per­ma­nent shel­ter and work.

The RHI also ear­lier in the year re­ceived help from the City of Rock­mart in pro­vid­ing a ex­treme cold weather shel­ter for home­less at the Hogue Av­enue gym­na­sium.

RHI has since part­nered with the Abun­dant Life Com­mu­nity Cen­ter to pro­vide shel­ter on ex­tremely cold nights for this win­ter.

/ Kevin Myrick

Po­lice cars were the first in line as the Rock­mart Christ­mas Pa­rade turned onto Mar­ble Street, and marked the first time cafe string lights went on over the street.

/ Kevin Myrick

Lo­cal res­i­dents lined the bank of Euharlee Creek to watch the Ro­tary Club Duck Race.

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