The family and classmates of Justin Lamb, a Thomas Jefferson Academy student who died last fall, raise money and awareness of heart disease through a Jump Rope for Heart campaign.
In memory of Justin, family and friends raise awareness
• Jump-Rope-For-Heart program raises money for Heart Association
By Parish Howard
Justin Lamb's heart was the size of a football.
That's why, last fall, when it lost its rhythm, it had a hard time finding its regular beat again. That's why, on Aug. 11, 2001, just two days after this past school year began, his life ended.
Justin Lamb's heart was the size of a football.
That's why, two weeks ago, his classmates and his family spent all day jumping rope and raising money to donate to the American Heart Association in his memory.
Justin Lamb's heart was the size of a football, it weighed 500 grams, and no one knew.
"We were totally unaware that he had this condition," said his mother, Machelle Lamb of Louisville. "He'd just had his physical the day before."
The doctors had said he was perfectly healthy and could play sports this year.
"From all I've learned since it happened, they tell me that it's congenital. He was born that way," Machelle said.
A malformation of the ventricles forced his heart to beat harder to move the blood through his body, causing his heart to grow larger with the extra pumping. Justin's had grown to nearly fill his chest cavity.
He didn't have any of the classic symptoms. There was no shortness of breath. He had never fainted before. There were no unusual chest pains.
Unlike some people with enlarged hearts, he didn't have a heart murmur. He was active.
"He was an athlete," Machelle said. "He played football, baseball, basketball. He ran track and played golf. He played every sport."
Justin was 13 years old and had just started the eighth grade.
"The only way to know for sure if you have the condition is to have an echo-cardiogram," she said. "An EKG won't tell you. And an echo-cardiogram can run you between $1,000 and $1,200 apiece."
After Justin's death, the American Heart Association put the Lambs in touch with a doctor with Emory University who agreed to do the tests on both Cleve and Machelle and their other children 11-year-old Colby, 5-year-old Bethany and 4-year-old Anna for free.
"He said that since our family had already had to deal with the loss of a child to this disease, he thought we'd been through enough without the added financial burden of testing," Machelle said.
They were all found to be free of the disease.
"I wanted to do something," Machelle said. "We wanted to do something to raise awareness of the disease, to raise money for research, for screenings."
It is likely that there are a lot of people who are unaware that they have this disease.
"Most of the children who die from this disease are active," she said. "They are athletes. They may seem totally healthy. Justin had been lifting weights all summer. There wasn't an ounce of body fat on him and we'd never even heard of it (the disease) before."
Machelle said that she has since learned that one in 500 people have the disease and that it is treatable if detected early enough.
She mentioned this desire to her children and that's when Colby told her about a program the school was planning.
"That's when Colby told me about Coach (Jonathan) Shockley's plans to hold a A Jump Rope for Heart," she said.
The coach, with the help of parents, teachers, and 35 students raised $3,400 for research and programs that help prevent heart disease and stroke.
Colby raised $1,200 on his own.
"It was a very good day for Thomas Jefferson Academy," Coach Shockley said. "I'm very proud of all the students who stayed with it and jumped all day."
Justin's parents said that they are very proud of the support they have seen.
"The school and the community have been so good, so caring," Machelle said. "With the event, the award, every kind word and hug...really we appreciate everything."
The school created The Justin Lamb Award for Courage which was recently given to Justin's brother Colby.
"When Justin collapsed, Colby called 911," Headmaster Chuck Wimberly said. "He moved the car out of the driveway so the ambulance could get up to the house. Their house is set off the road and Colby ran down the driveway to make sure the ambulance didn't miss the house."
The award will be given to students who show unbelievable courage in times of need, Wimberly said.
"Justin was a great kid who had the ability to touch everyone he knew in some way," he said. "He could relate to so many people. He cared. And I believe it was partly what he'd taught his brother that helped Colby act with as much courage as he did."
Wrens votes for more jobs, better recreation
• Council votes unanimously to give up city recreation park for Glit expansion and build new state of the art facility
By Parish Howard
Against the mayor's recommendations, the Wrens City Council voted unanimously last week to proceed with plans to work with the Jefferson County Development Authority to put the land where its current recreation department stands into negotiations for a possible Glit/Microtron, Inc. expansion.
The council voted after serious discussion with county Economic Developer Brad Day who assured them that the Development Authority was already in the process of applying for grant funds to replace the city's recreation department's property with a "state of the art" facility. The planning and approval for which would all be in the city's hands.
Day said that his projected goals for the project include creating more jobs, improving the city's recreation facilities, establishing a business-friendly climate and recruiting more industry.
He pointed to countywide unemployment figures and said that the burgeoning expansion could create 60 to 80, or possibly as many as 150 new jobs in the Wrens area.
"Without this property, this expansion will not happen," Day told the mayor and council.
He also told the council that with their approval to proceed on the project, he expected construction of the expansion could begin within 10 to 12 months.
Day reassured the city that it had the power to ensure that the property is used the way it is being agreed to be used.
"It's not left up to one just one body," Day said. "Everyone, the city, the school board, the county, the plant, the development authority, the planning and zoning boards, everyone has to do his part for this to work out, for this to happen. Tonight is just a part in the ongoing discussion."
Day told the council that there are verifiable ways to make sure that everyone holds up his end of the bargain, that the city will turn over the property, that the jobs will be created, that the new park will be constructed.
Concluding his prepared statements, Day asked the city to sell the 15-acre property where the recreation department now stands to the Development Authority for $10, for the purpose of negotiating an expansion with Glit.
Day said he had been working on this project for almost two years and that this was not the first time he had come to the council members with this request.
"This is going to be a team project," Day said. "The city is going to have to do its part, Glit will have to do its, the school board will do its, the development authority will have to do its, the county its and so on."
Council members asked him where the money for the new facilities would come from.
"There are state funds available for projects like this," he said. "I am reasonably confidant that we will qualify for these funds."
And if the money does not come through, the council wanted to know.
"Then there's no new park," Day said.
Mayor J.J. Rabun expressed reticence to go along with proposal and cited a number of reasons.
He said that increased production at the company had increased the demand on the city's water treatment system to a point where the city had to expand and up grade.
He suggested that if the city were to give property for further expansion, the water treatment plant may have to be expanded even more at a greater cost to the city.
"I could go on and on" about the things the city has done for Glit, Rabun said. "We are mighty good to them."
He also mentioned some of the city's other plants who "wouldn't dare ask the city to give them land."
He recommended that the council not give away the recreation department property, and suggested they renovate it a little along as time goes by.
Councilwoman Ceola Hannah asked Day about possible sites for the new recreation fields.
"The final decision is yours," he told her. "It's our job to do the legwork."
Councilwoman Dollye Ward agreed that the recreation department is in serious need of expansion.
"We need soccer fields, concession stands, bathrooms, baseball, softball and T-ball fields," she said. "We need tennis courts and outdoor basketball courts. I think we need to work with Glit and the Development Authority to make our facilities better for our children."
Councilman Erskine Lane said that he was in support of the project as long as it was understood that the city should receive everything back that it is willing to give, the same number of acres, fields, courts.
"This is a new day; Wrens is going to grow," Councilwoman Sydney McGahee said. "I don't like the idea of having to spend more money on sewerage, but if you are going to grow, you can't do it without expanding your facilities.... I don't see how we can lose. I've prayed and thought and I hope I'm making the right choice."
Councilwoman Ceola Hannah told Day that the city needs the jobs and the facilities, and that she intended to hold him to his promises.
In the end, the council voted unanimously to deed the property with the provision that if the money does not come through for the new park or if the plant decides not to expand within one year, then the property will be sold back to the city for $10.
Residents ask for help with thefts
• Determined group of Louisville residents ask council for curfew
By Ben Nelms
A small but determined group of Louisville residents received assurances May 14 that the city council will address concerns about ongoing thefts from their yards. Residents proposed that the council consider implementing a curfew to stem the thefts of bicycles, tools, yard equipment and CDs from their porches and yards often by children who appear to be ages eight to 18.
Louisville resident Ginger Caughey told council members that she and other residents believe that a curfew would address both safety issues with children on the street at night and thefts from private property. She also acknowledged the efforts of local law enforcement in their prompt response when called.
"I would like to propose a curfew for the City of Louisville," said resident Ginger Caughey. "I've spoken to a lot of people who are in favor of it. There are young children who are out all hours of the night. My concern is their safety and other issues like theft and noise.
"We've been robbed three times and someone has tried to come inside our home twice. We have lived there since November 1. I feel like it would be in the interest of our children to let parents know that if our child is under 16 they need to be home. Louisville should have had a curfew a long time ago."
Mayor Byron Burt said he and some council members had received phone calls from residents expressing the need for a curfew. He added that some residents had expressed similar concerns during his mayoral campaign.
"We have already started looking into the legalities involved with a curfew," he said. "But I don't think it is appropriate or wise for the council to bring something to a motion tonight without giving our public safety committee a chance to look into it and come back with a recommendation. And that's what I'm going to ask that we do tonight.
"I can assure you that we are not going to drop it or let it slide. I'm not in disagreement with a curfew. I think we need to find something that is workable. I know there is a problem out there and if parents aren't going to address it, we will have to address it."
The number of residents signing the petition had grown from 16 to 35 by Friday. Caughey said more signatures were expected.
Wrens council credits $20,000 to customers
By Parish Howard
On their most recent city water/gas/garbage bills, some Wrens residents have begun seeing credits on their accounts. Actually, for the month of May, the city credited almost $20,000 to the oldest accounts of residents and business owners who are in good standing.
"We realized that there are people who have been on the city books for almost 50 years who have hardly ever been late with their payments,"said City Administrator Donna Scott Johnson. "Some of these people never intend on leaving the city or moving away. Their deposits should be credited back to their accounts at some point. It's only fair."
The city will be applying these deposits for all city service customers in good standing in increments as the city is financially able. Johnson said that she expects the process to take several months and probably into next year before completed.
Residents are considered in good standing if they have not had a late payment in the last year.
"Some residents have already noticed the credits and we've been explaining it as they come in to pay their bills," Johnson said.
Many of the city's oldest water and gas customers paid deposits of $5 and $10 for these services. Today deposits for services are $100 for gas and $100 for water.
Bills are due on the 10th of every month. According to long standing city policy, if a citizen does not pay his bill by the 20th of the month, the city will turn off his services. Once a citizen's credit is applied, if his account gets into the negative and is unpaid and his water is turned off, then he will have to put down another full $200 deposit, Johnson said.
"Even if they paid $5 for their original deposit," she said. "If their account is unpaid, then they will have to pay their bill and put down another $200 before services will be turned on."
Anyone with additional questions about the city's billing policies is encouraged to call city hall at (706) 547-3000.