Locals providing Katrina relief
• Local groups collecting items and money to help hurricane survivors along the gulf coast
By Parish Howard
New Orleans may be more than a nine-hour-drive from Jefferson County, but the images of destruction in the wake of Hurricane Katrina have compelled a number of local people and organizations to begin relief efforts for gulf coast residents ravaged by the storm.
In just two-days time, city of Wrens firefighters, police and building and grounds crews standing at the U.S. Highway One and Broad Street stop light collected over $7,600 from passing motorists. Firefighters were still rolling change from the Friday and Saturday collections Tuesday morning.
"People just gave and gave," Fire Chief Larry Cheely said. "There were hundred dollar bills dropped in the tubs."
He said that a few motorists from Louisiana passed through and expressed their sincere thanks.
"One even went and bought bottled water and brought it out to us," he said.
Wrens has also obtained a large trailer from Glit/Microtron and is collecting non-perishable items for the relief efforts.
But they are not the only ones.
In Louisville, the Jefferson County Extension Office on U.S. One north of town, has been designated an official Emergency Management Agency (EMA) collection site. Jefferson County's EMA Director Lamar Baxley is working with the county extension agency in collecting items to be sent west.
Among the items being requested are bottled water, canned goods, baby food, diapers, bug spray, disposable gloves, medicines (over the counter pain relievers), feminine products, toilet articles like toothpaste and hair brushes, paper products, fruit juice, dog and cat food, first aid equipment, Band Aids and bandages, sleeping cots, dried foods, cereals and other other "ready-to-eat" meals that do not need to be cooked.
"Anyone wishing to make donations can make their checks payable to the City of Wrens Katrina Relief Fund and drop them off at First State Bank in either Wrens or Louisville," Baxley said. "Anyone who wants to drop off item after regular working hours can take them by any fire department, signify what they are intended for, and we'll make sure they get where they are supposed to be."
A number of local churches have begun taking up special offerings for this cause.
The Movie Gallery in Louisville has also said that it will be taking donations for hurricane victims and that everything they collect will be going to the Red Cross.
Jefferson Energy Cooperative was among the state's EMCs to send about 240 employees to Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana with the mission of helping fellow other cooperatives replace poles and lines and restore power across the gulf states.
"We're getting reports from cooperatives in those areas who are telling us that as much as 100 percent of their customers are without power," said Georgia EMC Training, Safety & Education Vice President Jim Wright. "They have 30,000 electric poles down in one Mississippi co-op system alone, so that will tell you the work that lies ahead."
According to Steve Crawford, there were already 10 local EMC employees in Mississippi as of Friday.
A number of local national guardsmen have also been called to duty and shipped out to help restore order in the storm-wrecked states.
Wrens Fire Chief Larry Cheely said that he has been monitoring both state and federal Emergency Management releases calling for assistance from firefighters from across the country. The city is currently planning to send a team of two trained, full-time firemen to assist.
"There's never been a disaster like this in the United States before," Cheely said. "Our primary duty is protect our residents, but beyond that, we need to do all we can to help out there. We're a small city, and we're going to feel it. When we send two people off, that means everybody here is going to have to pull double duty. So, the relief effort will be felt here, as well."
These men could be gone from home anywhere from two weeks to a month, he added.
"Every little bit helps," Wrens Mayor Dollye Ward said.
"We're all in this; we're all people," City Administrator Donna Scott Johnson said. "Wouldn't we want them to come help us?"
The city is currently awaiting requests from FEMA as to where and when their firefighters should report.
Baxley said the relief effort is on-going as the refugees from that area will be needing help for many months to come.
Jefferson County could actually still become a temporary home for as many as 150 storm refugees he said.
The Western Motel in Wrens has already agreed to work with the city's EMA coordinator, Walter Hannah, in providing rooms for any refugees who may need them.
Gasoline prices up and down
• Shortage scare causes people to rush to pumps, worsen problem
From Staff Reports
The devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina continued to ripple across the country and the southeast last week as fears of a fuel shortage gripped much of Jefferson and Glascock counties.
By last Wednesday, rumors of low levels at gas stations, and the uncertainty of when, if any, new shipments would arrive, had panicked motorists flocking to area stations to top off tanks. Many filled portable tanks at the same time. Locally prices jumped from $2.46 at week's beginning to as high as $3.10 by Thursday.
Calls to 23-area gas stations revealed nearly all had gas, but how long that supply would last was questionable - especially given the increased run at the pumps.
Reece Jones, owner of Jones BP on Peachtree Street in Louisville, said his station ran out around noon on Saturday. As of Tuesday morning, he was still hoping for a delivery sometime that day.
"It's really giving us a fit," he said, noting that the lack of gas was sending his normal customer traffic elsewhere. "We're looking at the possibility of furloughing some employees if this doesn't turn around soon. It's killing us."
Jones called to say he got that much needed shipment around 3 p.m. Tuesday afternoon.
The Sprint on the U.S. 1 Bypass in Louisville ran out for a few hours on Wednesday, as well.
Despite the sometimes long lines and confusion at the pumps, area law enforcement said there were few incidents of stolen gas reported.
Wrens Police Chief David Hannah credited that to store employees keeping a close watch over their pumps.
In Louisville, Chief Jimmy Miller said his officers recommended stations require motorists to pay with credit cards at the pumps or pay before they filled their tanks to combat the chances of drive-offs. Miller also said he wasn't aware of any bad tempers while waiting in lines.
"No rages, no fighting or fussing that I'm aware of," he said. "Although I did think we were going to have to start directing traffic for people getting in and out of these stations."
As of this past Tuesday, both Jefferson and Glascock county schools appeared to have sufficient supplies to run their buses another two weeks or more.
Superintendents for both schools said their holding tanks were topped off last Friday.
Jefferson County School Superintendent Carl Bethune echoed the sentiments of many in the area: "Now that we've got the gas, the problem is paying for it."
Voters will need ID at polls next month
• The state is providing a mobile licensing office which will be in Gibson Friday, Sept. 9
By Ben Roberts
With numerous local elections looming in November, Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue is trying to make good on his promise to make at least one form of the newly required identifications for casting a ballot readily available before area voters head to the polls.
In early August, Perdue's newly formed Department of Driver Services (DDS), now responsible for issuing driver's licenses and Georgia state identification cards, announced it would launch a mobile licensing program to alleviate the distance that some Georgians would have to travel to get an ID.
Starting today and continuing through Saturday, the Georgia Licensing on Wheels (GLOW) bus will be in the following areas from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. to issue photo ID cards: the Burke County Office Park, located at 715 West 6th Street, in Waynesboro today (Thursday, Sept. 8); the Glascock County Courthouse (old High School), located on West Main Street in Gibson on Friday, Sept. 9; and at the Super Wal-Mart in Sandersville on Saturday, Sept. 10.
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Currently, DDS has no plans to bring the GLOW bus to Jefferson County.
Those seeking to obtain licenses through the bus must be able to climb the steps to board the bus.
Susan Sports, Public Information Officer for DDS, said civic groups, clubs and churches can also make reservations to bring groups to DDS issuing sites to get their ID's at one time.
Sports said her office would work to block out a sufficient amount of time at the nearest licensing station depending on the size of the group.
To make a reservation at a licensing station or for more information, call the DDS reservation line at 678-413-8649.
First time applicants for a state-issued ID must supply a form of identification that includes full name, month, day and year of birth. Acceptable forms are valid passports, state issued birth certificates, certified birth certificates, certified naturalization records or Immigration I.D. card.
Applicants must also provide a social security number, although it is not necessary to have your original social security card.
They must also furnish proof of a valid Georgia residence with a utility bill, bank statement, rental contract, employer verification or a Georgia license issued to a parent, guardian or spouse.
The cost of an identification card is $20 for five years or $35 for 10 years. Indigent citizens may apply for an identification card free of charge for voting purposes.
The required proof of residency and identity are still the same.
For more information on Georgia photo ID's, visit the DDS website at www.dds.ga.gov.