YEAR IN REVIEW
Landmark year wraps up in Rockmart
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.
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.
Local residents lined the bank of Euharlee Creek to watch the Rotary Club Duck Race.