One of the organizers of the event, Stephanie Bass, said, “We expect at least 300 people to attend today and our goal is let people know we are here to help. We want to make an impact on the children of this area and let them know there are more options in life than using drugs.”
Bass, who has attended Sonshine Baptist Church since 2007, said, “Some of the biggest dilemmas affecting the Allatoona area are drug abuse and problems associated with low incomes. We wanted to invite organizations that we believe offer help that could be beneficial to local residents.”
In attendance were a variety of organizations offering information. The Spay and Neuter Coalition was on hand to educate about pet care opportunities and provide coupons for pet food. The Tranquility House dispersed pamphlets on domestic violence. An advocate from Family Intervention Specialists let attendees know their organization guides people through the process of applying for Medicaid. Also, Celebrate Recovery, a Christian-based addiction recovery and emotional healing program, invited attendees to their meetings at nearby Glade Road Baptist Church.
Members from several county law enforcement organizations talked to residents about upcoming and ongoing programs the county provides.
Sgt. Richey Harrell, who was the first D.A.R.E. officer assigned to Allatoona Elementary School, said, “It is important that we, as law enforcement officers, are not just reactive to crime and negative situations but proactive in the community. We are here to offer public services, make a positive impact and hopefully teach kids to make good decisions.”
Also, members from the new H.E.A.T unit talked about their role in Bartow County. H.E.A.T., which stands for Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic, is the newest law enforcement division at the Bartow County Sheriff’s Office and is funded by a three-year grant from the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. Their goals are to target speeding, drivers under the influence and those failing to wear a seat belt.
Nichole Varnell, director of the Allatoona Resource Center, shared information about the building plans and services the county would like to provide. The resource center will be located at 6505 Glade Road across from Glade Road Baptist Church. It will include a trash compactor site, a gymnasium, a playground and house offices for county services. The Allatoona Resource Center hopes to partner with the Bartow County Health Department, local mental health organizations, the Division of Family and Children Services but these plans are still in the developmental stage. The project is funded by a federal Community Development Block Grant and will be complete by late summer or early fall of 2014.
“The Allatoona area spoke loud enough and Bartow County heard. We would like the residents to know we are here and the ball is rolling on some projects to address the local concerns,” said Varnell.