2017 a year of milestones and memories

December 24, 2017 GMT

From the snowfall in January to the snowstorm in December, people in Rome and Floyd County marked dozens of milestones and changes in 2017.

Here’s a look at some of the more significant events:


A winter storm brings snow, up to an inch in parts of the county. The Saturday snow stuck around due to freezing temperatures, leading Rome and Floyd County schools to cancel classes Monday.

County Commissioner Rhonda Wallace is elected by her colleagues as the first woman to chair the board in nearly three decades. The only other woman to hold the gavel was Anne Rigas, in the late 1980s.

Local officials learn the presence of endangered Indiana bats, a bald eagle’s nest and other environmental issues will delay construction of the Rome bypass section between U.S. 27 South and Ga. 101 near Preacher Smith Road.

Romans Layla Shipman and Colt Chambers are among the thousands attending ticketed celebrations and ceremonies in Washington, D.C., to mark the inauguration of President Donald Trump.

Longtime community leader Bill Fricks — a city commissioner for 25 years — dies at 91, leaving a thank-you letter to the people of Rome.

The name of The Forum civic center is changed to the Forum River Center; the Greater Rome Chamber of Commerce becomes the Rome Floyd Chamber.


Rome and Floyd County police start carrying Naloxone nasal spray kits, instant antidotes for overdoses on opioid drugs.

Local Latino businesses close for the day and a downtown rally draws about 40 as part of the nationwide Day Without Immigrants protests against President Trump’s efforts to step up deportations.

Rome’s new 123-acre GE Trails at Garrard Park is dedicated at the trailhead in the east end of the plant’s parking lot off Redmond Circle near Lavender Drive.

Lou Byars, the system’s former chief operations officer, is named superintendent of Rome City Schools.


Rome City Schools announces it is joining the Northwest Georgia Youth Football League, which includes programs from Bartow, Cobb, Paulding and several other communities.

The City of Rome’s GIS mapping system is down for three days after a fired worker reportedly accessed the network remotely and took it offline.

Judge Harold L. Murphy retires after presiding over the Northern District of Georgia federal court in Rome for nearly 40 years.


Georgia Power announces it is cutting 80 jobs — close to a third of its workforce — at the 63-year-old Plant Hammond west of Rome.

Darlington students invite the dozen or so juniors and seniors at Georgia School for the Deaf to share the larger school’s prom.

The Rome Tennis Center at Berry College hosts the Atlantic Coast Conference men’s and women’s tennis championships.


The Floyd County Commission removes breed-specific references in its vicious dog ordinance, clearing the way for pit bull adoptions from PAWS.

Floyd County work crews start transforming the old animal shelter on Mathis Road into the county’s first morgue. The facility is expected to open in early 2018.

Dr. Justin Dunn of Rome Orthopedic Center performs the first outpatient full knee replacement in Floyd County.


Bekaert Corp. and union members reach an agreement on a new 5-year contract for workers at the plant on Darlington Drive.

At least four people report seeing a black bear roaming in Rome, from the Beech Creek area to the intersection of Turner McCall Boulevard and Second Avenue.

The Dirty South Mouth sandwich at Jamwich in downtown Rome is listed among the “Hot 100 Plates Locals Love” on the Georgia Department of Tourism’s Explore Georgia website.

Mike Colombo steps down after 29 years with the Rome News-Tribune and John Bailey takes over as managing editor.


Georgia Power announces it is closing its remaining business offices statewide, including the one in Rome at 800 Broad St.

Barry Henderson resigns as Floyd County Coroner after nearly 20 years in office and Gene Proctor is appointed to complete his term through Dec. 31, 2019.

The National Weather Service confirms that Rome recorded 22.25 inches of rainfall from March 1 through July 4, more than double the amount in 2016 and above the 18.02-inch average.

The Floyd County Commission contracts with Redmond Regional Medical Center for an employee health clinic.


Rome and Floyd County schools delay dismissal and Berry College hosts a mass viewing during the solar eclipse, when 97 percent of the sun was covered by the moon.

An online petition nets over 1,700 signatures but Rome High Principal Eric Holland stands firm on a new, stricter dress code.

The Partridge Restaurant closes, marking the end of an 84-year presence in downtown Rome.

At least 100 people pack the lawn of the Joint Law Enforcement Center for a candlelight pledge of unity in the face of a deadly encounter in Charlottesville, Virginia, between white supremacists and counter-protestors.


Rome and Floyd County residents and businesses chip in for truckloads of supplies ferried south to help victims of Hurricane Harvey, which devastated Texas in August, and Hurricane Irma in Florida.

Local schools close and residents batten down the hatches for Hurricane Irma, but it’s downgraded to a tropical storm that brings only a day of heavy rain and temporary power outages.

The Cave Spring City Council hires a consulting firm to design a management and marketing plan to transform its 40-year-old daycare operation.

The Historic Preservation Commission approves demolition of the dilapidated 1867 Hoyt House at 603 W. First St. conditioned on approval of a site plan for the townhomes that will replace it.


The community — and police officers from around the state — gathers to mourn Kristen Hearne, a Polk County detective shot and killed in the line of duty. The Tennessee couple charged with her murder are facing the death penalty.

After two years of private fundraising, a monument to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is unveiled at the historic Five Points intersection.

The Rome City Commission rejects a controversial recommendation to create an open-consumption alcohol district in the downtown area.

Armuchee Elementary third-graders help the Georgia Department of Natural Resources release more than 1,000 young lake sturgeon into the Oostanaula River at the Ga. 140 boat ramp.

Professional illusionist Landon Swank escapes from a padlocked water tank on Broad Street.

The Historic Preservation Commission approves plans for a 35-room addition to the Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham hotel downtown.


The $63.8 million SPLOST package — 25 projects anchored by an $8 mil-lion agricultural center — passes with 60.73 percent of the vote, including unprecedented support from the unincorporated part of the county.

Voters also approve a new ELOST construction package for Rome and Floyd County schools. Collections for the SPLOST and ELOST start April 1, 2019, after the current 1-cent sales taxes expire.

Rome voters elect four new members to the city board of education — Jill Fisher, John Uldrick, Dr. Melissa Davis and Alvin Jackson — along with incumbents Will Byington, Elaina Beeman and Faith Collins. Their terms start Jan. 1.

Political newcomer Randy Quick is elected to the Rome City Commission along with incumbents Jamie Doss and Wendy Davis. Their terms start Jan. 1.

Film legend Burt Reynolds comes to town to appear at the Rome International Film Festival.

Ila Jones of Rome, the oldest Georgian and one of the world’s 42 verified supercentenarians, passes away at age 114.


Floyd County Police Chief Bill Shiflett retires after 43 years with the department and Mark Wallace, the assistant chief, is appointed to succeed him.

The Rome and Floyd County commissions adopt 2018 budgets that include merit raises for employees and no property tax increases.

A snowstorm slams Floyd County on a Friday, dumping at least 5 inches of snow and leading to more than 50 wrecks and stalled vehicles by late afternoon. More than 11,000 customers lose power, some for several days.

The Fricks Furniture properties in the 400 block of Broad Street sell for $1.5 million. Chad Taylor of FB Taylor Holdings says plans are to put in retail on the ground floor and live quarters above.

The Ledbetter family agrees to donate to the city of Rome 80 acres along Riverside Parkway at Burwell Creek for use as public greenspace.

Compiled by staff writer Diane Wagner