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October 24, 2002 Issue

Teresa Williams, Gwyn Couch, Lois St. John, Autrey Chalker, Mary Chalker and Melissa Rogers accept the award.

Glascock Relay teams win first in nation again

County raised the most money per capita among Relay for Life events across the country

By Ben Nelms

They may be diminutive in terms of population. But their drive, desire and tenacity has resulted in the 2,556 residents of Glascock County placing #1 in the nation in per capita fundraising for each of the three years they have held a Relay for Life fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

The county's net fundraising effort for the 2001-2002 season was $42,649, or $16.59 per capita, said Glascock Event Chairman Gwyn Couch, after traveling to Statesboro Oct. 11 for the regional award ceremony.

"We're so pleased and proud," she said. "It's always a shock to see how much we raised. It's so awesome for this little county."

Couch said the awards, the recognition and the praise Glascock County receives both regionally and nationally is indeed an honor. Yet the tribute pales in comparison to the real reason a county of 2,556 people continue year after year to accomplish so much.

"It's about survivorship," she said. "Honoring those we've lost and celebrating those who are winning the fight against cancer."

Couch will represent Glascock County at the national Relay for Life awards ceremony in Dallas on Nov. 1.

Gibson/Glascock ISO drops

Better rating should mean a decrease in the area's insurance premiums

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

More is often viewed as better in many areas of life. But in the world of fire insurance ratings the reverse is true. In the case of Gibson, everybody wins.

Gibson/Glascock Fire Chief Frank McGahee said he was proud that the city's ISO rating is moving from an 8 to a 6.

The decrease in the rating and the lower insurance cost to homeowners is a direct result of the participation between the city council and mayor and the fire department and its firefighters.

"A lot of hard work on everybody's part went into this," said McGahee. "I'm proud we're going to a 6. It was a combined effort from everybody involved."

The lower ISO rating occurred after a variety of factors came into play, said Chief Frank McGahee. ISO raters scrutinized record keeping for the past three years as well as the equipment and how it was maintained.

Areas checked for proper documentation included department training records, attendance at structure fires, available water supply, equipment on the trucks and the testing and servicing of equipment.

The 1969 fire truck, a 750-gallon pumper, was replaced with a new 1989 model pumper with a 1,000-gallon capacity.

The replacement is included in the four Class A pumpers, three fire knockers and three tank trucks in use by the department. The vehicles are used by the department's 15 firefighters.

The most pronounced effect of the lower rating comes in the form of lower fire insurance premiums for homeowners. The effect of dropping from an 8 to a 6 should mean an average savings of $50-100 on a homeowner's premium, said Farm Bureau Insurance agent Gwyn Couch.

Gibson Mayor Donald Kent praised the efforts of the firefighters in helping to acquire the lower rating and the saving to homeowners.

"I'm proud that we've gotten this lower rating, both for the city and for our people," he said.

Family Connection gets $2.8 million grant

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

The collaborative efforts of the Jefferson County Family Connection have made their mark on children and families throughout the county since its establishment in 1995.

That mark broadened in scope earlier this month with the announcement by U.S. Department of Education (DOE) of the award of a three-year grant totaling $2.8 million to benefit children and their parents and a one-time $125,000 Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant to the Sheriff's office designed to make schools safer.

One of only 46 grant recipients in the United States and the only one in Georgia, the Safe Schools/Healthy Students grant will utilize Family Connection collaborative partners to make schools safer, foster children's development and prevent aggressive and violent behavior and drug and alcohol use among youth.

"I'm really excited about this," said Swint. "It assures us that with a true collaborative effort and proper funding resources we can alleviate a lot of problems in our community and at the same time provide quality programs and activities for our youth. So the aim of the grant is to strengthen family involvement, assure safe schools and empower our youth and adults."

The scope of the DOE grant, $959,934 per year for three years, will be targeted in six impact areas.

Jefferson County Board of Education will act as the fiscal agent for the DOE grant and the Sheriff's office will administer the COPS grant.

All aspects of the grant funding will be instituted in the coming months through various participating agencies.

One of the six elements funded by the grant addresses violence, alcohol and drug abuse prevention and treatment intervention.

Funding will pay for enhanced adolescent health and youth development programs and enhanced after school programs.

Another element, safe school policies, will tackle an enhanced male involvement program, a parenting initiative focusing on coordinating and enhancing existing efforts, youth asset-building training for local service providers, a follow-up program for youth who are involved with the juvenile justice system and a comprehensive and consistent alcohol prevention and early intervention programs among collaborative members.

The education reform element, focusing on the federal "No Child Left Behind" initiative, will be implemented at Wrens Middle School and Louisville Middle School and will replicate the 21st Century Community Learning Center model in place at Carver Elementary School. It will focus on community service learning, fine arts and transportation.

Also included in the education reform element are impact issues designed to strengthen the alternative school with prevention programming and family support activities.

Another aspect of the element is the establishment of a Family Life Center.

Funding for a $500,000 center is anticipated through a federal Community Development Block Grant.

The grant element addressing school and community mental health prevention and treatment intervention programs will provide four school-based mental health counselors who will conduct individual, group and family counseling. The early childhood and emotional development services element will institute an Even Start Family Literacy Initiative. Separate from the DOE grant funding are funds being sought to help a physical location for the center.

A final element of Safe Schools/ Healthy Students grant requirement seeks to promote a safe school environment. Funded through a COPS grant and administered by the Sheriff's office, the element provides one full-time and one part-time Resource Officers, implementation of the COPS program and metal detectors and other needed security equipment for Wrens Middle School, Louisville Middle School and Jefferson County High School. Included in the element are funds for school apprenticeships at the Sheriff's office for six high school students.

"Youth development is community development," said Swint. "If we are to reach children and parents, it will be through the schools. Getting parental involvement strong and active as a part of youth development is a major goal of ours. And the Jefferson County Board of Education deserves a lot of accolades for being willing to serve the community through this grant."

Swint said the grant could never have been secured without the significant collaborative effort. Collaborative partners include Jefferson County Board of Education, Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, Jefferson County Health Department, Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice, Georgia Department of Family and Children's Services, Wrens Chapel AME Church, Jefferson County Commission, Sandersville Technical College, Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency, CSRA Economic Opportunity Authority, Farrington & Associates, Middle Judicial Circuit Juvenile Court, First National Bank & Trust Company, Ogeechee Behavioral Health Services, City of Wrens, Sunshine House and Jefferson County SHIPs for YOUTH.

Hunting season could increase human/snake encounters

Area specialist recommends treatment if bitten

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

This time of the year is one when people are out hunting, fishing or simply absorbing the beauty of the many wooded areas that make up Jefferson and Glascock counties. But until the weather turns much cooler humans traversing the woods and swamps may also encounter an inhabitant of those areas that poses a potential health threat, making it all the more important to always know what is going on around us.

The frequency of bites from venomous snakes treated at Jefferson Hospital's Emergency Room average between two and three per year, said Jefferson Hospital Physician's Assistant Abbot Easterlin.

He said there are probably two to three additional bites in the county not seen at the hospital. Venomous snakes found in abundance locally include rattlesnakes, water moccasins and copperheads.

Posing the greatest degree of danger is the rattlesnake, said Easterlin. This is due to a higher degree of toxicity in the venom, the speed at which the snake strikes, a longer strike range and, unlike the much-prevalent water moccasin that is more likely to bluff, the rattler is more likely to strike in defense of a perceived threat.

Perhaps fortunate for anyone bitten, especially by a moccasin, is that as 25-40 percent of its bites are defensive or "dry bites" where no venom is injected.

Easterlin said there is no effective first aid that can be applied in the field.

A person should never apply a tourniquet or make incisions at the site of the bite.

Though held by some to be effective, he knows of no evidence that supports the claim that applying electric current to the bite area can delay or offset the effects of venom.

The best thing to do for anyone bitten is to walk out of the area and seek medical treatment.

He said the most common effect of snakebite is terror. The effects of fear can actually mimic the symptoms of snakebite. For that reason alone it is best that a person remain as calm as possible after being bitten and apply ice to the wound, if available. Easterlin said the snake can be killed in order to help medical staff determine the type of bite, but a person should not risk another bite in order to obtain a specimen.

Once at an emergency room or clinic, medical staff will look at the bite and evaluate the wound area. Significant swelling can take up to six hours to begin, Easterlin said.

If warranted, medical personnel will administer anti-venom. The preferred anti-venom in use today is derived from serum from sheep rather than horses. The reason for the transition to sheep serum is that humans are less likely to experience allergic reactions, he said.

In terms of precautions people can take against snakebite, Easterlin said the best safety recommendation is to never go hunting or fishing alone. And when in those locations or in any area in the outdoors one of the best precautions anyone can take to avoid snakebite is to use footwear appropriate to the terrain and pay attention to that terrain.

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