PCHS expands hours; assists visitors seeking family history in area

The Polk County Historical Society (PCHS) has expanded its operating hours.

It is now open from 1:30 to 4 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Call to open by appointment.

Currently, there are display artifacts and a wide selection of local newspapers dating back to the 1870’s plus a large collection of local family history files to share. If you are interested in Polk County history or wanting to research your family roots, PCHS can help.

Volunteers were at the museum recently when a family came in looking for anything on the Meadows family that once lived in Cedartown. They discovered plenty of facts at the museum.

Greg Gray, PCHS, provided a copy of a letter he received from one of the visitors:

“My name is Erik and I was adopted from birth. Nobody knew who my father was. I used Ancestry DNA and kept getting connections to people with the last name Meadows. After a great deal of research and a little bit of luck, I found out my mother was married to a Larry Meadows. I found the guy on Facebook and reached out. We did a DNA test and it came back 99.9 percent positive. This was a year and a half ago.

“After talking to Larry (my dad), he suggested that myself, him, Tim (my brother), and Gayon (my aunt) go on a genealogy road trip. A few months later our plane tickets were booked and we were on our way.

“Larry’s grandparents (or my great grandparents) were Wyatt Montgomery Meadows and Dora Bell Jones. They were living in Alabama in 1900. They were married in Cedartown in 1902 and lived there until they died. They raised their 8 children there. The youngest of those children was William Mack, my grandfather.

“We found the house they lived in and took pictures on the same steps as a 1932 photograph taken on Christmas day. We saw the old icehouse where my grandpa had his first job. We also saw the textile mill my great aunt Ruby used to work at (which is now a flea market). Our grandpa used to bring lunch to our great aunt Ruby because they weren’t allowed to stop for lunch. He would hand the food through the window.

“I bought a mason jar at the flea market to commemorate that fact. We went to the courthouse and got death certificates and marriage licenses. We went to the VA’s office and found our grandfather’s WW2 enlistment records.

“We found their obituaries on microfilm at the library. We found their graves out in Pine Bower Cemetery.

“In 1910, he was a railroad mechanic. In 1920 and 1930 he was in law enforcement. We knew that after the war he retired and worked at a grocery store with a family member. We knew Wyatt worked in law enforcement but weren’t sure what his title was and whether he worked for the police or for the sheriff’s department. Thanks to your (Greg) help, we found elected official information in the 1917 – 1931 newspapers where he was listed along with the title of officer for the police.

“We also talked to Millard and were able to find out that some people named Meadows opened a grocery store around the time Wyatt started working for one. Upon further research, it turns out that the grandfather of the grocery store Meadows was Wyatt’s brother, telling us that they must have moved from Alabama to Cedartown together. We also found Wyatt, our grandfather, and Dora in several city and business directories.

“We had several goals:

“1) Find Dora and Wyatt’s grave

“2) Find Dora and Wyatt’s death certificates

“3) Find Dora and Wyatt’s marriage license

“4) Find Wyatt and William’s military enlistment records

“5) Find out what department Wyatt worked for and what his title was there

“6) Find out whether it’s true that Dora shot someone through a door and killed them when her husband was out of town.

“7) Find the old house they once lived in

“8) See the big spring that they used to go to regularly

“We got answers to most of our questions. Much of this was due to the assistance given to us by the historical society. We enjoyed eating lunch at Gran Gran’s and Zorba’s. Both had phenomenal meals and outstanding service.

“The 3 outstanding mysteries are:

“1) Did Dora kill someone during an attempted break in? We talked to Michelle and Stacey at the courthouse and determined that if it happened and had a case file, it had to be before 1928. Stacey asked her grandma about the incident (who is sharp as a tack and 96 years old) but she didn’t remember anything.

“2) We have Wyatt’s WWI records from ancestry but they didn’t show up in a record of Cedartown natives fighting in WW1 and weren’t on file at the V.A.

“3) We never found out if Wyatt was just an officer or held any more of a senior title.

“We learned a great deal about Wyatt but much more about ourselves. The trip was fantastic and our highlight was the time we spent at the historic society working with you and speaking with Millard.”

Making a fire hall a home: Battalion chief says ‘One third of our life is spent here’

Imagine settling into bed after a hard day’s work, hoping to catch some sleep, when the ear-splitting tone from 911 dispatch tears through the fire hall, blaring out the address of a structure fire.

This is the reality for Rome-Floyd County firefighters.

“There’s really no such thing as a deep sleep,” Sgt. Tim Causby said. “If you’re going to a fire, your adrenaline kicks in and you’re in it.”

It’s a matter of dealing with extremes, where firefighters could go from eating a homemade meal or watching a movie to breaking down a door and attacking a fire.

For the firefighters of Station 1’s C shift, working 24 hours straight means the fire hall at 617 W. First St. acts as a second home.

“One-third of our life is spent here,” Battalion Chief Greg Abbott said.

What many people fail to realize, Abbott continued, is firefighters work a formal job like any other workers, except after 5 p.m. they keep working.

When not responding to calls, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. firefighters could be training, flushing hydrants, giving educational lectures or maintaining their equipment.

After 5 p.m., when regular workers are going home for the night, firefighters stay on duty but are given time for themselves.

“Pretty much free time, just have to be ready to respond,” Capt. Steve Bailey said.

Downtime could mean anything from watching movies to working out or having discussions to studying.

Abbott said some guys kick back in recliners and watch movies to pass the time, which makes it difficult to find a movie they haven’t seen when they return home.

“Their family says ‘hey let’s watch this movie’ and they’ll respond ‘I done seen it,’” Abbott said.

For the most part, firefighters do what they would do at home at the fire hall.

“Much of our free time is spent trying to make it a home,” Bailey said. “We’re a pretty close-knit group.”

For firefighter Landon Tibbitts, that means cooking up a meal.

Bailey called Tibbitts the resident cook.

And the cook doesn’t do the dishes, Causby added.

In between calls and joking remarks to shave his head, dish duty often falls on the shoulders of rookie firefighter Tye Sims.

Fellow firefighter Alex Routt said wanting Sims to get a haircut is “not a hazing thing” but a demand based on “stylistic preferences.”

Sims is still on a probationary period where he is building experience and knowledge from a basic education gained from rookie cadet school.

“We harass him about everything,” Bailey said with a smile.

Sims doesn’t mind, though. “It’s the best job in the world,” he said.

It isn’t so much heckling Sims, but rather seeing what type of person he is, Bailey added.

Getting to know one another is integral to building camaraderie among firefighters, who may have to put their lives in each other’s hands.

“You depend on each other to get you out of trouble,” Bailey said.

Tales of fires fought or dispatches answered also flow through the fire hall, and for young firefighters, it’s the best time to listen in.

“We share a lot of war stories,” Bailey said. “A lot of the time it’s where you get the best education.”

However, some discussions stray from firefighting to politics or sports, Bailey said.

“There are a lot of different viewpoints,” he said. “It can get a little rowdy.”

Looking back on the birthdays or family cookouts missed, Bailey reflected “it can be tough,” but “this is our home away from home.”

Firefighters were sitting down for a low-country boil lunch Tibbitts had prepared on Tuesday, when the dispatch tone went off.

Throwing down their silverware and napkins, they rushed from their seats at the table to seats on the fire truck.

“I had one bite and had to go out again,” Tibbitts said. “A lot of firemen eat fast.”


Bands gearing up for football season

Calhoun, Gordon Central and Sonoraville bands hold annual camps to prep for football halftime performances

The Calhoun High School, Gordon Central High School and Sonoraville High School marching bands have all been holding band camp this week, preparing for the upcoming football season.

Calhoun High School, under the direction this year of Larry Brown, has approximately 285 members and will perform a medley of favorites including “All My Life” by the Foo Fighters, “Play That Funky Music” by Wild Cherry, “I Saw Her Standing There” by The Beatles and “House of the Rising Sun” by the Animals.

According to band director Dr. Matt Loyd, the Sonoraville High School band will see 132 members this year. Their halftime show is music from the motion picture Jurassic Park.

Gordon Central High School had a special practice last week for the rookies of the band so they would be prepared for formal band camp this week. The band of 88 members is playing to the theme of “A Day at the Beach.”

For more information on this year’s bands, check out the annual Pigskin Preview, which hits newstands on Wednesday, Aug. 17.

GUEST EDITORIAL: Kaine choice shows how much Clinton values competence

Hillary Clinton has fortified a political center that’s been under steady assault. Just days after Republicans in Cleveland nominated a candidate claiming that everything everywhere is falling to pieces, Clinton made her choice for the Democratic vice presidential nominee.

Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia is no one’s idea of a firebrand. A former mayor and governor, he is even-keeled, experienced and moderate. He lacks Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s rhetorical passion, and the choice doesn’t qualify as historic. But he brings steady competence and an openness to compromise. Both traits will serve Clinton well in the months ahead, and in the White House should she win.

Kaine offers a little something for everyone, yet not too much for anyone. Born in the Midwest, he’s a product of Harvard Law School. Like Vice President Joe Biden, he’s a Catholic with complicated views on abortion, but he’s pro-choice where it matters — on public policy. He’s opposed to the death penalty, but followed the law as governor, enabling executions to proceed. Having served as a missionary in Honduras in the 1980s, he speaks Spanish.

Kaine has spoken encouragingly of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the pan-Asian trade deal that would benefit all the signatories, including the U.S., while serving as a check on the regional ambitions of China. It seems unlikely he will bolster Clinton’s faltering support of the deal, but he should try.

A supporter of Dodd-Frank, he’s called for greater flexibility in regulating smaller regional banks, which are not systemically risky but face new burdens all the same. A member of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, last year he joined Arizona Republican Jeff Flake in calling for a three-year authorization for military force against Islamic State, a necessary assertion of congressional power and accountability. Though he represents the home state of the National Rifle Association, he supports sensible gun regulation.

The selection of Kaine has disappointed many on the left. Clinton, in effect, resisted the temptation to make double-barreled history with an all-female ticket, or with the nation’s first Hispanic vice presidential nominee. She went with competence — and that’s just fine. Admirable, even.


Things to do in Cherokee County Thursday, July 28

The Farmers Market will be held in Centre City Park from 7 a.m. until 10 a.m. All vendors are invited to participate.

The Family Care Center in the Piggly Wiggly Shopping Center in Centre includes a Thrift Store open to the public Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. The Family Care Center helps others by giving clothing, food and possibly hope to families in their time of need. The Center asks for your help by supporting its thrift stores. There are currently three locations, the one in Centre, another at 5511 Main St. in Hokes Bluff and another in Cedar Bluff. The Center is currently helping more than 100 families per week and thanks the community for its continued support. Director is Cindy McGinnis.

Cloud Farrow teaches an Art Class Thursdays from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Cherokee County Public Library Participants are urged to bring two Number Two pencils and an 8 X 10 sketchbook.

Visit the beautiful Rock Village, home of some of the best hiking and rock climbing throughout the world. Enjoy fresh air and beautiful scenery. Go to the intersection of U.S. Highway, to the intersection of County Road 36 and County Road 70, turn left and follow 411 and Highway 68 in Leesburg, turn right, turn left on Cherokee County 36 the signs.

Visit the historical Cornwall Furnace on Cherokee County Road 92 in Cedar Bluff.

The Tech Corner: July 27, 2016

The Tech Corner is a weekly technology news and advice column presented each week courtesy of Melvin McCrary at Ga. Computer Depot in Cedartown.

New Data Storage Technique

This new data storage technique could fit the entire Library of Congress on a cube smaller than the size of George Washington’s pupil on a one dollar bill.

Scientists at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands has unveiled the densest method ever developed to store re-writable digital data. The method could fit every book ever written onto a flat copper sheet the size of a postage stamp.

Your iPhone Can Be Hacked Remotely With a Message

One specially-crafted message can expose your personal information, including your authentication credentials stored in your device’s memory, to a hacker.

The attack could also be delivered through the Safari web browser. For this, the attacker needs to trick the victim into visiting a website that contains the malicious payload.

No user interaction would be required to launch the attack since many applications (like iMessage) automatically attempt to render images when they are received in their default configurations.

It is difficult to detect the attack, which could leak victims’ authentication credentials stored in memory such as Wi-Fi passwords, website credentials, and email logins, to the attacker. A hacker could perform a jailbreak or root exploit to take total control of the complete iPhone.

Apple has patched this critical issue in iOS version 9.3.3, along with patches for other 42 vulnerabilities. Users are advised to upgrade to this version as soon as possible.

‘Lazy’ Ransomware Deletes Every File in Sight

Ransomware usually involves a malware program that encrypts files on a PC, followed by a promise of a decryption key if the victim pays a ransom.

Now security company Talos has spotted a variant where there’s absolutely no prospect of the scammers unlocking a victim’s files. That’s because delete every file in sight before the ransom process even begins.

According to Talos, the Ranscam software falsely claims to have hidden and encrypted files on a hard drive partition. It also gives a Bitcoin address to make a ransom payment to unlock the files.

This software then claims the payment hasn’t been verified, accusing the victim of lying, and warns that it will delete one file every time the victim clicks a button.

The best protection that we know of is to back up your precious data to an off-site location. All of the backup providers make it so easy. They do everything for you automatically and some such as Gdrive are free up to 30 GB data and photos.

This approach could mean more people don’t pay up for ransomware demands. That could threaten the business model of successful ransomware operators who have pulled in cash from organizations such as medical centers and police force, where victims conclude it’s cheaper to pay up than to try to figure out a way to break the encryption.

Fake Tech Support Scam Gets New Twist

A scam using on-screen messages that falsely appear to be from a user’s Internet service provider. It’s a trick with a variety of ways to profit from the customer.

For many years, scammers have been calling people on the telephone claiming to work for Microsoft or other computer companies, saying the person receiving the call has a virus. The scammer will then usually try to get the victim to pay for bogus tech support services. Most people realize it’s a scam, but the scammers know the idea is to call enough people so that even a small percentage of duped users add up to big profits.

New Virus Scam Claims to Come from Users’ ISP

A new scam involves an on-screen message with the logo and name of the customer’s Internet Service Provider (ISP). The message says that a system scan has revealed spyware and gives the user a number to call for assistance. Please do not call any number from an onscreen message. Please also note that your Internet provider (ISP) will never contact you to call them.

Scammers simply charge for a supposed “fix” to the bogus virus / spyware “infection”, with the possibility of the scammer taking the credit card number and selling it to third parties. Another trick is getting the customer to download and install software that’s supposed to “fix” the “problem.” This can allow the scammer remote access to the computer to hunt for personal and sensitive data, such as financial account details.

GoToMyPC Remote Access Hit by Hackers

Users of remote access tool GoToMyPC will need to reset their passwords after an attack by hackers. Although creators Citrix describe it as a “very sophisticated” attack, it’s simply another case of hackers targeting people who continue to re-use passwords on multiple sites.

Citrix responded to the attacks by making it mandatory for all users to reset their passwords for GoToMyPC before accessing their account again. When setting up a new password, Citrix recommends using at least eight characters with a mixture of numbers, upper and lower case letters, punctuation and symbols.

Spam King Finally Pays Price

A man once dubbed the “Spam King” has been jailed for two and a half years. Sanford Wallace’s sentence is for emails which were fraudulent.

Wallace was so open about sending spam, that at one point he even got the attention of lawyers at Hormel Foods (the company which makes Spam – a meat product), in which they claimed Wallace was breaching trademark rights because of web domains he owned that also had the name ‘spam’ in them.

Wallace began distributing malware and using pop-up messages to offer the victims the chance to buy what he called an antispyware program. That led to the FTC obtaining a $4 million default judgment against him when he failed to defend against claims of unlawful activity and he never paid the money.

He was also ordered to pay $941 million in damages to Myspace and Facebook for sending 27 million messages.

Spring Garden bolsters its football staff

SPRING GARDEN – Former Gaylesville and Crossville head football coach Brian Clowdis joked he wanted to be as smart as his longtime friend and colleague Jason Howard. The only way Clowdis could think of to do that was to join him.

Clowdis recently got his wish.

After resigning from Class 5A Crossville just over two weeks ago, Clowdis was officially hired as an English teacher at Spring Garden on July 19. He’ll also fill the defensive coordinator vacancy left by Barrett Ragsdale, who has moved up to become Spring Garden’s new assistant principal.

The Panthers also recently welcomed another veteran coach in John Wilson to round out their staff.

“It’s great to be back in Cherokee County,” said Clowdis, who has been a head coach for 16 years (12 at Gaylesville and the last four at Crossville). “You get out of something for a couple of years and you kind of realize how much you liked it. The good thing about this county is the camaraderie with the coaches. Everybody gets along, and that’s a cool situation. It doesn’t happen everywhere.”

Wilson, who has had coaching stints at Ohatchee, Piedmont, Saks, Cleburne County, Lineville and Central of Clay County, is also excited about his new opportunity.

“(Spring Garden) has always been one of the places I’ve wanted to go,” said Wilson, who lives in nearby Piedmont. “I know what a great job Coach Howard has done with the football program, and I know what great support the community gives all their sports. For me, it’s a win-win. I don’t have to go very far to have an opportunity to help some good people.”

Howard feels fortunate to add both Clowdis and Wilson to his already veteran staff, which also includes Tony Benefield, Damon McDonald and Dexter Vines.

“We’re blessed to have an administrator (Spring Garden principal Mike Welsh) who is pro athletics,” Howard said. “At some 1A schools, there’s the head coach and one other coach. I’m fortunate to have a full array.

“I’m excited about both of them. I think they’ll make the team better and make our coaching staff better. Coach Wilson has been in it for years. Coach Mac (McDonald) and Coach Benefield have been with me for years. Coach Clowdis, who has had head coaching experience for 15-plus years, and Coach Vines, who is young and energetic and can still get out there and run with the kids, it’s a good mix all the way around. I’m blessed to have all of that. I don’t take for granted that we have as good a staff as we’ve got.”

Not only do Clowdis and Howard have ties, but the former head football coach also has history with Welsh. Clowdis is a former student and player of Welsh’s back from their days at Gaylesville.

“I am really glad to welcome him into the Spring Garden family,” Welsh said. “Brian is a very intelligent person with years of classroom experience that will be beneficial to our students. His experience and knowledge will enable him to build the proper relationships with our students that will help them perform at high levels in the classroom. His coaching background and knowledge of the game will certainly be an asset as well.”

Both Clowdis and Wilson got their introduction to Spring Garden football on Monday. The Panthers hosted Gaston for a scrimmage before practice officially begins Aug 1.

“Football is football, no matter where it’s at,” Clowdis said. “I’m pretty easy to adapt to the kids we have, and it’s easy to adapt to what we’re doing here anyway. It’s a good situation. They’ve got hard-nosed kids. It’s going to be a fun time.”

Although Clowdis and Howard have known each other a long time, the situation was quite the opposite for Howard and Wilson. It was through Ragsdale that those two were introduced to each other.

“Coach Ragsdale, before he got the AP (assistant principal) job, had talked to Coach Wilson about coming over here helping out,” Howard said. “He introduced us and put us in contact with each other. Everybody I’ve talked to has really praised him and said very high things about him. The knowledge he brings to the game is really going to help us and make us a lot better.”

Howard said Wilson’s main duties will be coaching from the press box on headset, giving the Panthers an extra set of eyes to see what’s transpiring on the field.

“I’m a detail person. It’s something I’ve always been,” Wilson said. “I don’t want to step on anybody’s toes, but one person can’t see everything. What I’ll be able to do is see it all (from the press box), see some things that maybe one set of eyes didn’t notice.

“It’s exciting and interesting for me. It’s kind of like starting over, except I have more knowledge than I did back then. Hopefully I’ll be able to use that to help out in some ways.”

The Panthers open the 2016 football season at home against Beulah on Aug. 26. Spring Garden then hosts Class 1A, Region 6 rival Gaylesville the following week on Sept. 2.

Clowdis said it will feel a little strange coaching against the Trojans.

“I’m still tight with all those guys,” Clowdis said of the Gaylesville coaching staff. (Head coach) Kyle (Garmon) is actually my neighbor. I don’t know if we’ll talk much that week. It’ll be interesting.”

Ethics committee to meet on Friday to address complaint against Ward

Polk County’s Ethics committee will be meeting to address the complaint against Commissioner Jason Ward filed by fellow commissioners.

The open meeting of the committee will start at 10:30 a.m. Friday, July 29 at the Polk County administration offices at 144 West Ave., Cedartown.

Previously, the committee met and took in the complaint filed by Commissioners Scotty Tillery, Jennifer Hulsey and Ray Barber.

Ward filed a rebuttal during the same meeting held on July 19.

The ethics committee is appointed as a pair by the chair of the commission, and one by the committee itself after it was appointed. It is made up of John Ragland, who chairs the committee, and Ron Ray and Travis Ragsdle, and all three are residents of Polk County, Denton said.

Former Floyd County Sheriff Wayne Atchley has died

Former Floyd County Sheriff Wayne Atchley, who also served with the Rome Police Department, has died following an extended illness, said Chief Deputy Coroner Gene Proctor. Atchley, 70, was found dead at his New Calhoun Highway home Wednesday afternoon, Proctor said. Good Shepherd Funeral Home  has charge of the arrangements. Atchley served one four-year term beginning in 1985.

Floyd County Sheriff Tim Burkhalter said Atchley hired him.

“He was the first sheriff I ever worked for. He hired me back in 1985,” Burkhalter said. “I enjoyed keeping in touch with him over the years and getting advice from him”
Burkhalter said Atchley had a good working knowledge of the streets of Rome. Atchley worked for the Rome Police Department for nearly two decades, Burkhalter said.
“He was always very approachable,” he added.
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