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Top Stories
May 20, 2004 Issue

Jefferson County High School seniors take part in a health fair and screening program designed to approach the problems with local children's health.

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Screening our seniors

Other Top Stories
Center due to be operational by September
School board deals with state funding cuts

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Screening our seniors

Hospital teams with school to evaluate overall health of graduating class...some findings were alarming

By Jessica Newberry

By obtaining a grant from the Healthcare Georgia Foundation, Jefferson Hospital has established a health program for school-aged children. They partnered with the Jefferson County Board of Education and the Jefferson County Public Health Department to develop a strategy to approach the problem of children's health in the county.

The team of hospital staff will conduct a series of screenings, perform risk assessments and provide education about prevention.


They will gather data such as the number of students educated and screened, the number of students identified with diabetes, obesity, hypertension, dyslipidemia and the number of students at high risk.

The numbers will then be evaluated in order to compare Jefferson County children to national research data.

Jefferson Hospital's first screening took place at Jefferson County High School in the gymnasium the week of March 22.

The high school seniors were screened for hypertension, obesity, dyslipidemia and diabetes. Height and weight were recorded and blood pressure readings were taken. A finger stick blood sample was taken for an evaluation of lipid profile and glucose level in students who were fasting and a random blood sugar was obtained from non-fasting students. A risk assessment was also performed which included an evaluation of family history and a pre and post test.

Each student received individual and group education about the importance of making healthy lifestyle choices that result in disease prevention, according to Jefferson Hospital's Diabetic Case Manager Sharl Ann Trussell.

"The week after the screen, nurses returned to the school to share the test results with the seniors," said Trussell. "Each student was given individualized educational material that addressed any risks or abnormal findings and they also had the opportunity to meet with the nurses for individual counseling."

Students with seriously abnormal tests and/or with multiple risk factors were sent letters requesting that they meet with the Jefferson Hospital nurses.

All students with abnormal test results were also referred to Linda Weeks, RN, JCHS School Nurse, for ongoing evaluation.

Of the 181 students screened at JCHS, 42 percent had blood pressure in the abnormal range. Thirty-seven percent of the students were overweight or obese according to their Body Mass Index, or BMI number. Ten percent of the students were pre-diabetes and 22 percent of the students had lipid abnormalities.

"We were very pleased that 85 percent of the JCHS seniors participated," said Trussell. "MCG told us that we'd be lucky if 40 percent participated. We were pleased that we found no diabetes cases, but I was shocked about the number of students with abnormal blood pressure."

"Our other results were not shocking, but we do need to pay attention to educating our youth about preventing disease," said Trussell. "I learned the other day that diseases occurring from tobacco use are the number-one group of preventable deaths but will be surpassed by obesity this year."

The health program will continue in the upcoming school year with screenings for fourth and eighth grade students.

Center due to be operational by September

Total cost for the project expected to be near $6.5 million

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

It has been 10 months since the groundbreaking for the Jefferson County Law Enforcement Center. With construction on track, the $6.5 million facility is expected to become operational in early September.

Located on the Louisville bypass adjacent to the county prison camp, the law enforcement center's administrative building will house the offices of the sheriff and magistrate judge, the magistrate courtroom, a multi-purpose room and the E911 center. To the rear of the building will be the 120-bed jail pod with self-contained steel cells. All inmate activity will be continuously scrutinized from a central control room positioned above the pie-shaped cell units.


The center will be essentially complete around July 1 with on-site training for personnel beginning in early August. The center is anticipated to gain operational status around Sept. 1, said county administrator Paul Bryan.

Bryan said the total cost for the project is expected to be at or near the $6.5 million ceiling set by the current one-percent sales tax.

The expense of operating the facility with the additional number of required personnel to meet federal inmate housing standards, something the old jail could not accomplish, is planned to offset substantially by housing federal prisoners from the U.S. Marshal's Service. Meeting in March with county commissioners, U.S. Marshals James Roberts and Mike Scripture said U.S. Department of Justice customarily pays $30-45 per day for each prisoner housed. While the per diem rate might be higher than the norm, Roberts said the actual amount agreed on will be determined once the facility is complete and the final cost of the law enforcement center is calculated.

Contacted Monday, Sheriff Gary Hutchins said the law enforcement center will provide a needed benefit for Jefferson County.

"It will be a good addition to Louisville and Jefferson County," he said. "The facility will meet the county's future law enforcement needs and it is something the citizens can be proud of."

The law enforcement center project is funded by a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) passed overwhelmingly by voters in September 2001. Collection began in January 2002 and has a maximum collection period of five years and a monetary ceiling of $6.5 million. The ceiling will likely be met around March 2006 based on collection figures calculated since the collection period began.

School board deals with state funding cuts

Despite cuts and reductions, the board still faces expenditures for the 2005 tentative budget that remains $300,000 greater than anticipated

By Ben Nelms
Staff Writer

The Jefferson County School Board approved a tentative budget May 13 that leaves a shortfall of $300,000 in expenditures over revenues. The move comes as state funding continues to be withheld and threats of litigation by Jefferson and other counties loom larger.

Funding cuts by the General Assembly during the past two years continue to have a negative impact on the ability of the school board to provide many of the things once covered by state-required funding, said Superintendent Carl Bethune. State and federal funding make up 83 percent of the local budget with the remaining 17 percent coming from local tax revenue.


Citing the number of school-related cuts made even though the board has raised taxes during the past two years, Bethune said the school board was left with no alternative but "to make significant cuts that directly or indirectly affect instruction and enrichment in our schools."

Some of the budget items affected by the school board during the past two years include a reduction in central office personnel, elimination of the extended year contract for a vocational teacher and a coaching supplement, a reduction in media funds, school and office supplies, the elimination of two bus routes, a reduction in maintenance staff, the discontinuation of conferences and workshops for teachers except for those funded by grants, the elimination of local Fine Arts enrichment, elimination of GCIS on-line career information, discontinuation of school system-supported field trip costs, the elimination of GSAMS distance learning and a major reduction in general fund local travel.

Despite cuts and reductions within the system, expenditures for the $18.4 million FY 2005 tentative budget remain $300,000 greater than the anticipated revenue, Bethune said.

Based upon the figures and the likelihood that the General Assembly will not reinstate funding without litigation, the board will be faced with either looking to taxpayers for the difference or using more of the system's reserve monies.

"We are about at the bottom of what we can do based on the last two or three years," Bethune told board members.

The school board is scheduled to adopt the FY 2005 budget at a June 10 meeting.

The school board voted in November to join the Consortium for Adequate School Funding in Georgia, an organization that includes more than one-third of the state's school systems that are threatening litigation if the General Assembly does not free up public education funds mandated by the state Constitution.

Though litigation is scheduled to begin during the summer, the past session of the General Assembly ended recently with no action to reinstate funds withheld over the past two years.

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