Floyd County Manager Jamie McCord is finally seeing the light. And the light is good, he believes.
The widening and realigning of Shady Lane SE for easier access of school buses and emergency vehicles to the Chulio Hills subdivision is finally nearing completion after almost three years in the making.
Although sacrificing more than 50 oak and pine trees that had lined the narrow street containing Bryant Chapel Baptist Church and a half-dozen homes between Callier Springs Road SE and Mockingbird Circle SE, McCord said the end result is a much safer route for larger vehicles needing to access the area.
“Shady Lane should be renamed Sunny Lane,” McCord said with a laugh during Tuesday’s Joint Services Committee meeting where several projects between the county and the City of Rome were discussed. “The loss of the trees opened it up to some sunlight, but it’s going to be nice and we’ve agreed to put some trees back.”
McCord said there were only a couple of homeowners — or survivors of former homeowners — who need to sign off on the 2013 special purpose, local option sales tax project before it is paved and wrapped up by the end of the year.
McCord said the families aren’t necessarily against the project. It’s more a matter of the lack of wills and the involvement of probate courts at this point, he said.
He said the church has been very cooperative and one homeowner who’d had drainage and flooding issues in her carport before the project is pleased because now those issues have been resolved with the new driveway she got out of the deal. Crews also were able to save her favorite tree.
The $800,000 SPLOST project also includes a retaining wall and guardrail for Honeysuckle Ridge between the split levels of the road. Widening, the addition of curb and gutter and an intersection improvement at Mockingbird Circle also were part of the plan.
The committee — comprised of Floyd County Commission Chair Scotty Hancock, County Commissioner Wright Bagby, Rome Mayor Bill Collins and fellow City Commissioner Randy Quick — also discussed the fact that United Way of Rome-Floyd County has asked the county and the city to each pitch in $5,000 to help pay for the coordinator of the newly-created Interagency Council on Poverty & Homelessness.
Calling the proposed hiring of longtime human services advocate Cathy Aiken Freeman to lead what previously has been the Homelessness Task Force “a real gift from United Way,” City Manager Sammy Rich told the committee the city is “all in” when it comes to helping fund the position.
“The task force had continued to meet each month and we continued to scratch our heads to try to figure out what we might do,” Rich said regarding the city feeling like the Homelessness Task Force was getting scattered in its focus after the first few meetings. “The United Way is stepping up and saying, ‘Hey, let us help with this. Let us dedicate some funding that would go toward a position to actually implement that plan.’ The stars just seem to be aligning of this portion of the project.”
While the United Way would pay for the lion’s share of Freeman’s full-time salary, the nonprofit organization that supplies grant funding to many other nonprofits in the community has asked local governmental entities to assist them financially in this endeavor.
Assistant City Manager Patrick Eidson, who also serves on the United Way board, agreed with Rich and told the committee the city and county is being given a golden opportunity to further engage with the community in its efforts to have a positive, lasting impact on the area’s homeless population.
“Homelessness touches every part, every service that we provide,” Eidson said as he passed out copies of Freeman’s job description. “It touches law enforcement, it touches our jails, it touches our courts, it touches our education system. It touches everything. And poverty is a large part of that discussion, as well.”
Hancock said when United Way Executive Director Alli Mitchell spoke recently to the commission about the one-time $5,000 contribution, he had questions about how long United Way would be funding Freeman and whether the county’s financial support would cause other organizations to come out of the woodwork demanding funds, as well.
“There’s still this active discussion on where it all stops,” Hancock said.
Mitchell has yet to disclose a possible salary figure for Freeman.