The first shot

The online application for finding the nearest COVID vaccination station kept directing us to places that were at least 100 miles away. Yesterday, my wife got fed up when we were told to drive to someplace halfway between Atlanta and Birmingham, AL. Not convenient.

So, she called the county health department and they said, “Can you and your husband come in tomorrow morning at 10:45?” “Sure.”

We expected an overflowing parking lot and a long line inside the building. The parking lot looked suspiciously normal. Inside, there was a short line. Had to present our driver’s licenses and fill out an information sheet. We got our Moderna vaccinations within about ten minutes and then spent another fifteen minutes waiting to make sure we had no side effects. We didn’t.

They will call us when it’s time for the second shot. I’m impressed: the whole operation was friendly and efficient. We left with a comprehensive information sheet about COVID and about the vaccine. Kudos to Floyd County, Georgia. Now we can really feel there’s light at the end of the pandemic tunnel.

Malcolm

Back in Rome, Georgia is Interesting and odd

With all the usual hassles of moving, from building a new house on the family farm to selling the old house on the other side of the state, I had little time to think about how strange it is to be back in Rome, GA.

ROMEGAI lived in Rome between 1978 and 1980 while teaching journalism courses at Berry College. I met my wife in Rome, and when we left in 1980 to seek our fortune in Atlanta 86 miles to the south, we thought the Rome phase of our lives was over.

We came back to the area to visit my wife’s family as well as friends we met at Berry College. The town was slowly changing–a revitalized downtown, new malls, new streets, and more people.

So, now we’re back after living in Atlanta suburbs farther and farther out from the city itself. We ended up in a small town of less than 10,000 people 50+ miles northeast of Atlanta for eleven years before moving here.

We saw the move as economically beneficial as well as forward looking. The farm is a much better environment than our subdivision of look-alike houses ruled by a homeowners association.

Nonetheless, the move also feels sort of like going home, or maybe going back in time, or maybe as tourists visiting a place where all the people we once knew have moved on. The farm has stayed more or less the same during all these years, though sad to say, both of my wife’s parents have passed away.

The city is both alien and familiar. This will take some getting used to. So will the traffic–not out where we live–when we drive into town to bury groceries, get stuff from Home Depot, or buy gardening supplies from the nursery.

Ford Buildings at Berry College
Ford Buildings at Berry College

Berry College has grown since I worked there, adding new buildings and new programs. I get lost driving around the campus. None of the faculty, staff and students whom I once knew are there any more. The faculty house I lived in on campus is gone, destroyed by a fallen tree several years ago during a tornado. I feel like a ghost from another century (literally and figuratively) whenever I go there.

I think we’re getting settled in to the new house. We’ve repaired one of the falling-down out-buildings, put in new trees and shrubs, set up two, raised-bed gardens–even the cats are used to the new house.

I’m not yet settled in to Rome, though. It’s a pretty nice town, but I keep seeing it as it was and wondering just what kind of destiny brought me back to a place I once said goodbye to.

If only I could write a short story or novel about all this, I might figure it out.

–Malcolm

KIndle cover 200x300(1)Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Conjure Woman’s Cat” which can be purchased today and tomorrow for Kindle for only 99 cents.

No need to destroy a Georgia mountain to build a new road

When I lived in Rome, Georgia in the late 1970s, driving to Atlanta—a mere 56 miles to the southeast, as the crow flies—became problematic in Bartow County. Quite simply, the route that began as a four-lane highway at Rome turned into a mess of urban sprawl before one reached I-75 South for the remainder of the trip.

Today, when I visit friends in Rome, the US 41/411/SR 20 interchange has another 30 years worth of development around it to make it a driver’s nightmare. The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) has a proposed a 411 Connector solution.

For reasons that are not easy to comprehend, DGOT favors a costly and an environmentally unsound solution (Route D-VE) that includes the destruction of the beautiful Dobbins Mountain.

Members of the Coalition for the Right Road (CORR) want a 411 Connector. But they believe alternative routes are not only cheaper, but also avoid destroying a mountain.

If you live in northeast Georgia and believe it’s important to guard the environment against massive and unnecessary civil engineering projects that also represent a waste of taxpayer dollars, you can sign the petition here asking GDOT to select a cheaper and shorter route.

According to the latest CORR update, GDOT has announced it is studying up to three modified routes for the 411 connector. The cost of the original GDOT “solution” may be as high as $279.5 million. The estimated cost of at least one alternative route is $98.4 million.

Upcoming CORR events

  • Saturday, April 30: Taste of Cartersville at Friendship Plaza in downtown Cartersville.
  • Saturday, April 30: Southern Veterans Festival at Adairsville Middle School from 10 am to 7 pm.
  • Saturday, May 7: Spring Fling Festival in Kingston from 11 am to 4 pm.
  • Saturday, May 14: Duck Derby Day at Riverside Park Day Use Area in Cartersville from 10 am to 5 pm.
  • Monday, July 4: Stars, Stripes & Cartersville at Dellinger Park in Cartersville. Parade starts at 9 am; activities at 10 am.

We Need a Road

Drivers between Rome and Atlanta need the new road. It will cut time off the trip and reduce gasoline usage. Those who live and work around the current US 41/411/SR 20 interchange need long-distance traffic removed from their surface streets.

We just don’t need to move a mountain to make this happen.

Malcolm

CORR graphic showing proposed mountain cut