Here’s a roundup of what’s new, going into 2013:
The 2012 elections brought significant big changes to Floyd County’s representation on the state and local levels.
Rhonda Wallace and Larry Maxey won seats on the County Commission in a July 31 special election to replace Eddie Lumsden and Chad Whitefield, who stepped down in March to run for state offices.
Whitefield ended his campaign to take on a business opportunity. Lumsden won the state House District 12 seat from 14-year veteran Barbara Massey Reece in November.
Chuck Hufstetler, another former Floyd County commissioner, stepped up to win the vacant state Senate District 52 seat Whitefield had initially sought.
Incumbents Katie Dempsey and Christian Coomer were easily returned to their state House seats.
Floyd County now has three state House seats and one state Senate seat under the new voting district maps that went into effect with the Nov. 4 election. They’re all held by Republicans.
The reapportionment also pushed incumbent Barry Loudermilk into a different state Senate district and consolidated the district of Floyd’s longtime Congressman, Phil Gingrey, around Cobb County.
Tom Graves, also a Republican, now represents Floyd in a Congressional district made up of Northwest Georgia counties.
The Rome City Commission appointed Detrick Redding to fill the vacancy created by Ward 2 commissioner Duane Reid’s resignation in February. Redding will serve Reid’s unexpired term, through Dec. 31, 2013.
The Cave Spring City Council appointed Robin Clements in January to serve the unexpired term of her father, Councilman Kenneth Kelley, who died in office. The Rome-Floyd County Parks and Recreation Authority renamed the Cave Spring Park ballfields in his honor.
Blaine Williams, who took over as Floyd County’s manager in January, is leaving Monday for a position with Athens-Clarke County. The Floyd County Commission appointed Finance Director Gary Burkhalter as interim manager until a permanent top administrator is hired.
Williams had been the assistant county manager under Kevin Poe, who left after 17 years to lead Hall County in late 2011. Noah Simon, the community development director for Forney, Tex., was hired in March from more than 75 applicants for the slot left vacant by Williams’ promotion.
Work started in August on Rome’s $2.7 million Urban Riverfront project, the next stage in development around The Forum and Town Green.
A tiered plaza with a floating dock is being cut into the riverbank as an access point to the Oostanaula River and the primary base for the Roman Holiday tour boat. A sidewalk will connect the downtown trail system from Unity Point to the Chief John Ross Memorial Bridge.
The project is expected to be completed this summer.
Public works and recreation crews are among the departments that switched over in December to a new state-of-the-art countywide communications system. Public safety agencies plan to make the change in January.
The 2009 special purpose, local option sales tax package contained a $26.7 million earmark for the project, which includes 10 towers and a system of repeaters to boost range and clarity.
The 800 megahertz digital system replaces an antiquated hodge-podge of unconnected networks supported by a single radio tower.
Traffic started rolling on the $12 million Armuchee Connector in May.
The 2.1-mile road and bridge across the Oostanaula River provides an alternate route between downtown Rome and the northern part of the county. It runs from State Mutual Stadium to U.S. 27 near Old Summerville Road.
The project was funded through the 2009 SPLOST.
Failed tax vote
Floyd County voters shot down in March a proposed $32.4 million special purpose, local option sales tax package.
The governments of Rome, Cave Spring and Floyd County had hoped to use the new funds for road paving, heavy equipment and major repairs the governments have deferred during the recession.
The county’s sales tax is currently set at 7 percent but it will drop to 6 percent after the 2009 SPLOST expires June 30, 2013.
The possibility of an additional cent died in July, when Floyd and 14 other Northwest Georgia counties rejected their regional transportation sales tax package.
The 10-year TSPLOST would have provided $1.4 billion for road projects in the region, including widening Ga. 140 from U.S. 27 to Interstate 75, reconstructing Ga. 101 between Rome and Rockmart and building the U.S. 411 Connector.
Failure to pass the TSPLOST means a 30 percent local match will be required for any state road money awarded to the counties. Rome and Floyd County officials have said they typically contribute more than that anyway, in the form of in-kind labor.
Sections of a new high-speed, high-capacity broadband network in Northwest Georgia started lighting up this year and work began on its Eastern Alabama connections.
The Rome-based Appalachian Valley Fiber Network is a spinoff of Parker FiberNet in Summerville, which put up its existing fiber optic network as the local match for a $21 million federal stimulus package grant.
Any Internet provider may connect to the new middle-mile fiber that runs through 12 Georgia counties. The basic network is designed to provide service to schools, libraries, community and technical colleges, government, health care and public safety organizations.
Regional commission woes
The Rome-based Northwest Georgia Regional Commission missed the deadline for its audit and barely avoided losing millions in the state and federal grant money it distributes among its 15 member-counties.
The financial disarray led to the early retirement of executive director Bill Steiner. Interim Director Lloyd Frasier has been holding down the fort since August, while the board figures out what qualifications it wants in a replacement.
More than $30 million in taxpayer funding passes through the agency each year for community programs as diverse as Meals on Wheels, Alzheimer’s services, on-the-job training, youth apprenticeships and displaced worker education
The $10 million Cave Spring Rehabilitation Center, a residential job-training facility for people with disabilities, opened in February.
Construction began in October 2010 on the complex at 7 Georgia Ave., which was funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act federal stimulus package.
The center boasts a training and administration building, a 52-bed dormitory, modern greenhouses where some students will work, and an amphitheater for concerts and other events. It primarily serves people who are deaf or hard of hearing, with referrals coming from vocational rehabilitation counselors across the state.
The Keeper of the National Register ruled that Dobbins mine, in the path of the planned 411 Connector, is eligible for listing as a historical site — a status that makes it more difficult to get federal funds for the project.
That was the latest setback for the 6.34-mile, limited-access highway aimed at giving drivers from Floyd and Chattooga counties a straight shot to Interstate 75 in Bartow County and ease congestion through Cartersville.
The possibility of endangered bats, fish and flowers also are among the roadblocks thrown up by opponents funded by wealthy Atlanta landowners whose 1,800-acre ranch could be affected. State engineers are refiguring options for the $146 million road that’s been in the works, for the second time, since 2003.