Area residents, organizations record milestones in 2010
by Marie Nesmith
Dec 26, 2010 | 2980 views | 0 0 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Above, Mark Floyd greets his son, Logan, on their family farm in Adairsville. The Floyds were recipients of the Farm Family of the Year award.
SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News, File
Above, Mark Floyd greets his son, Logan, on their family farm in Adairsville. The Floyds were recipients of the Farm Family of the Year award. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News, File
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From The Grand Theatre celebrating 100 years to individuals receiving local and international recognition, 2010 presented Bartow residents and organizations with a bevy of opportunities to strive for excellence. Ranked by the newsroom of The Daily Tribune News, some of the top human interest stories are listed below in no particular order.

The Grand Theatre marks 100

The Grand Theatre experienced a wide range of highs and lows in 2010, from celebrating its centennial to the passing of its technical director, Don Kordecki.

"It always amazes me. No matter who you speak to, if you mention The Grand Theatre, they have a real personal and passionate connection to The [Grand] Theatre and what it represents," said Cartersville Mayor and The Grand Administrator Matt Santini. "I consider it a great honor to play a small part in continuing what The Grand means to so many people. It has been a great year at The Grand Theatre from a programming standpoint and from a community support standpoint [but] the other side of the coin is having Don pass and also having Lucky O'Lague retire, who's been with us for so long.

"Don's passing certainly does hit a low in a middle of a bunch of highs. But ... the programs that [Don and Terri Cox] put in place many years ago have helped the arts grow here. So Don, although he's not with us in body anymore, the contributions that he's made not just to The Grand but to the entire community in the cultural and performing arts, the effect of the good work that he's put in and his dedication, will be here for years to come."

Opened in 1910 as The Greenwood Theatre, Cartersville's Grand Theatre started as a performing arts venue and then presented movies from the late 1920s until 1977. After a "Save the Grand" campaign was launched by The Pumphouse Players and The Cartersville Opera Company, The Grand Theatre was purchased by a local resident and underwent two renovations, the latest one being in 2005.

The Grand Theatre planned to cap off its year of celebrating with the video presentation, "100 Years of Memories," on Oct. 30. In addition to photographs and videos of past performances, the offering also provides a snapshot of The Grand's history through oral interviews conducted with about 40 people, ranging from patrons and performers to theater personnel.

As the theater's staff was preparing for the event, they made the decision to postpone the video presentation when they received word that Kordecki passed away at the age of 78. Credited by many of his peers for Cartersville's thriving arts community, he was known for overseeing The Grand's renovations in 1988 from a movie house to a performing arts venue.

The presentation, which will be free to the public, has been rescheduled for Jan. 15 at 7 p.m.

Bartow History Museum

finds a fitting home

After months of dreaming, preparing and fundraising, the Bartow History Museum's staffed opened the doors to the venue's new home, the 1869 Courthouse, Dec. 10.

"It has been a long time coming," said BHM Director Trey Gaines, prior to the opening. "We're all very excited to see it finally coming together as far as the exhibits and the use of the space and to be able to reach this point in our fundraising to be able to open this new chapter. It's been a dream for a long time.

"So just to see it coming to life, it's just exciting for all of us. ... We've had a great response from the community in our efforts to raise the money necessary to build our new exhibits and develop some new programming and to basically move the museum into the building and start our operation there. It's been a very good response. I want to thank all those in the community that have supported us so far over the last couple of years in our campaign. We couldn't have done it without them."

The old courthouse below Cartersville's Church Street Bridge is housing the BHM's gift shop, multi-purpose room, and permanent and temporary exhibits. Divided into six galleries, the permanent exhibits will include "A Sense of Place," "Bartow Beginnings," "Community Champions," "People at Work," "The Coming War" and "Toward New Horizons." The nonprofit's staff offices and archives department will remain nearby on the second floor of its building at 13 N. Wall St.

Serving as Bartow's courthouse from 1869 to 1902, the two-story brick building was utilized for a variety of purposes in the 1900s, some of which include a roller skating rink, furniture store and warehouse. Sitting vacant since the 1980s, the building was acquired by the city of Cartersville in 1995 and was renovated with $1.7 million in Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds.

Floyds named Farm

Family of the Year

In recognition of their contributions to Bartow County's agricultural industry, Mark and Kim Floyd and their children, Lexie and Logan, are the latest recipients of the Farm Family of the Year award. Held at Cass High School May 4, the 48th annual Farm Family Banquet was sponsored by Ag Georgia Farm Credit and John Carroll in cooperation with the Bartow County Farm Bureau and Bartow County Extension Service.

"I couldn't believe that [we] would be recognized for being a farm family," said Mark Floyd after receiving the award. "I've basically just been farming most of my life and just thought it was routine. It's a great honor that someone would feel like my family deserved to be the Farm Family of the Year.

"It's a great honor to be included with some of the bigger names that we have in the farm community in Bartow County. It makes you feel good that they would even consider you being a part of their farm family."

Selected by the families of Talmadge Hollaran, Steve Worthington and Donnie Mealer, the award's last three recipients, the Floyds join an impressive list of individuals in the agricultural community.

Along with maintaining 170-acres of hay on leased land, the Floyds also raise 6-week chickens for Pilgrim's Pride in four broiler houses and have a cattle operation at their 94-acre farm on Big Oak Tree Road in Adairsville. Selling livestock to purebred breeders and commercial cattlemen, they maintain a small herd of Polled Hereford and Charolais cross and 75 head of registered Charolais cattle.

Etowah Indian Mounds, Red Top retool operations after budget cuts

* Red Top's former lodge building finds new use: After being a casualty of the state budget crunch in late June, the former Mountain Cove Restaurant at Red Top Mountain State Park is being transformed into a center for programming and hands-on learning, with exhibits ranging from the site's history to reptiles and bird-watching.

"We are very excited," said Damon Kirkpatrick, president of the about 1,200-member Friends of Red Top and manager of chapter services for Friends of Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites, in September. "We've worked with the DNR for the past few months on trying to make some use out of the facility that's there, the vacant facility. We're very happy to announce that we're going to be converting what used to be the restaurant into a new Discovery Room with hands-on interpretive exhibits and trail information and live animal exhibits. We're shooting for early February for a grand opening."

Citing budget reasons, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources deemed it was not financially feasible to keep Red Top's lodge, which included 33 guest rooms, a restaurant and three conference rooms, open. Shortly following the May announcement, James Hamilton, lodge region manager for Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites, told The Daily Tribune News the DNR estimated the lodge would "lose $278,000 this year and about $217,000 next year." Along with converting the former restaurant, the staff's offices moved to the front of the lodge building, with public access offered Monday through Sunday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and later for special events.

The state legislature's directive to make the lodge profitable or self-sustaining was made in May 2009 as the DNR revealed its restructuring plan for its 48 state parks and 15 historic sites. It was implemented to combat a 24 percent forecasted loss of revenue and about a 39 percent decrease in state appropriations. Along with looking into the privatization of lodges and golf courses, other reorganization steps included cutting 12 percent of the system's labor force and utilizing furloughs one day each month, diminishing the services at five state parks and reducing operations at 12 historic sites.

* Etowah Indian Mounds receives personnel assistance, able to reopen on Wednesdays: Along with downsizing personnel, the Etowah Indian Mounds' operating hours initially were reduced from six days a week to three days: Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. With the decrease in hours and manpower, the opportunity for guided tours for school groups was diminished, but the site still offered the service to students on Thursday with the addition of Resource Manager II Steve Hadley. In the past, the Etowah Indian Mounds annually averaged at least 24,000 visitors, 35 percent of whom were students.

Now, due to the contributions of The Coosawattee Foundation Inc., two additional part-time workers are assisting the Etowah Indian Mounds' staff, enabling the venue to reopen on Wednesdays. This latest development allows guided tours to be conducted for school groups Wednesday through Friday and sometimes Saturday.

"We are very fortunate to have additional people on staff through private donations and senior centers. And we are able, by having the extra people, to continue to have the same number of school groups that we've had," said Steve McCarty, interpretive park ranger for the Etowah Indian Mounds, a 54-acre site, where several thousand American Indians lived from A.D. 1000 to A.D. 1550. "We have not seen a substantial drop off.

"As a matter of fact there are times when we even have more because of the additional people that we have. So we're able to increase at times over what we have done over the past one to two years. We are very fortunate to be where we are now."

Local musicians win 14 NACMAI awards

For Brian Bagley, a heartfelt song about a former church member's passing received international recognition. Penned about three years ago, "Another Angel Going Home," garnered the Adairsville native the Songwriter of the Year award at the North American Country Music Associations International competition in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

His achievement was only one of the highlights at the NACMAI competition for Renewed, an Adairsville-based Southern gospel group, that also consists of his wife, Dena' Garland-Bagley, and Ann Hardin. The trio won a total of 10 awards, including three more accolades for Bagley -- Most Promising Male Entertainer, Rising Star Male Vocalist of the Year and a Horizon Songwriter of the Year award for "Power in the Name of Jesus" in the traditional gospel category.

At the annual gathering in March, Renewed won the Video of the Year and was named the Most Promising Vocal Group of the Year. Other individual awards included Garland-Bagley, Most Promising Female Entertainer of the Year, and Hardin, Georgia Country & Gospel Music Association's Pioneer Award.

Since they started singing at Adairsville's New Life Ministries church nearly five years ago, Renewed has given away more than 45,000 CDs, performed at more than 100 engagements annually and had songs played on radio stations across the country.

During the NACMAI competition, Bagley also watched his son, Brandon, claim the Rising Star Male Vocalist and Most Promising Male Entertainer awards for the youth 7 to 12 division.

Held at the Country Tonight Theater, the NACMAI award show featured three other Bartow County recipients in addition to Renewed: Anna Harwood, Most Promising Female Entertainer of the Year award in the new country, youth 13 to 16 age group; Morgan Taylor, Future Star of Tomorrow in the female 17 to 20 new country category; and April Wehunt, Horizon Award for Entertainer of the Year and Horizon Award for Vocalist of the Year, both in the female 17 to 20 traditional country category. All of the participants advanced to the national competition by placing first and second at the Georgia Country & Gospel Music Association award ceremony Nov. 7, 2009.