Relayers collect more than $100,000
By Faye Ellison
Many a tear was shed as the survivors took the track kicking off Jefferson County's Twelfth Annual American Cancer Society Relay for Life.
The rain held off this year, waiting until after the luminary ceremony to dampend the festivities, but the blessings also fell from the sky as the teams were able to raise over $100,000 for the ninth year.
"Considering the economy, people dug very deep in their pockets to raise this money," Relay Co-organizer Renee Borum said. "We are very pleased with the outcome. I just can't say enough about Jefferson County."
Karen Walden, the event's other organizer, expressed her shock when the final total was announced.
"We were pleasantly surprised," Walden said. "We actually made it over $100,000. This county has always been so good no matter what, rain or shine. They have dug deep and went over $100,000 again. They have done their best and that is all you can ask."
During the Relay for Life, there were several contests and raffles that were available to those who supported the cause of fighting cancer.
The raffle winners for this year's Relay were
- Lee Woods, ham;
- Shawn Kitchens, bike;
- Kellie Bedenbough, television;
- Christi Thompson, golf cart;
- Kelli Broadus, breast cancer awareness basket given by Jefferson Hospital;
- Wesley Thompson, green purse given by Wrens Middle;
- Megan Massey, UGA Purse given by Wrens Middle;
- Sharon Fleming, scarf given by Wrens Middle;
- Donnie Hodges, American Girl Doll given by Wrens Middle;
- Gail Clark, bowls given by Wrens United Methodist;
- Lena Rabun, bowls given by Wrens United Methodist;
- Bonnie Hadden, mother's day basket given by Wrens United Methodist;
- Cindy Howard, original bootie bag, given by Wrens United Methodist;
- Sherry Maddox, jewelry given by Matthews team;
- Saunders, Relay for Life tote bag given by First State Bank.
There were also several awards given during the night.
Best campsite-Regions Bank, team spirit-People Against Cancer (PAC), individual spirit-Michelle Manning, sportsman's award-Ott Stephens, rookie of the year-Crystal Garrer Team of Hope and Wrens Middle School, team most likely to bring rain-Wrens Elementary Schoolhouse Rockers, team most likely to leave Michelle Manning alone-Wrens United Methodist Church, teams faithful through heartache till the end-PAC and Matthews team, lonesome duo-April McGahee and Kerissa Wenger of First State Bank, best breakfast-Jefferson Hospital, campsite visited most by the Relay Princess-Glit/Microtron, most deserted saloon-Regions Bank, zoo award-CJ's Animals, quietest award-Heritage of Old Capital and J.M. Huber, best lunch-Disciples for Life and team most likely to leave early on Saturday-Jefferson Energy.
The dog show held this year by the Matthews Community and Friends team held four winners. The prettiest dog is Duffy-owner was Sherry Maddox. The ugliest dog was Hogan-owner Laice Newman. The best dressed dog was Sydney-owner Shelby Smith. The dog most likely to resemble their owner was Daphne-owner Cassidy Davis.
Working to turn lives around
• County works to rehabilitate inmates who come through its law enforcement system
By Ben Roberts
It is the Catch-22 of jail or prison terms as a punishment and deterrent to crime: How do you rehabilitate a person who spends their hours in confinement with other criminals, possibly learning new ways to break the law?
That's a question Jefferson County Sheriff Gary Hutchins says he has wrestled with, and, he believes, he just may have found the answer in Dr. John C. Alberty.
Alberty, a licensed counselor working with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department through Jefferson County SHIPS for Youth, believes the way to turn a criminal into a productive citizen is to give them the desire to be just that. That desire, he says, will grow along with an individual's self esteem.
"The Sheriff is tired of jail being a place where guys come in and learn ways to do more wrong," Alberty says. "This program is an effort to impact their lives while they are incarcerated, to change their lives in a positive way."
A little over a year ago, Sheriff Hutchins, along with SHIPS Executive Director Carolyn Swint, went before the Jefferson County Commission to ask that they allow the Sheriff to conduct a drug counseling and education program to inmates in the jail.
The program is paid for through a drug education fund which receives its monies through a percentage of court fines for drug related crimes. The fact that the program doesn't cost taxpayers is an obvious benefit. According to Hutchins, another is the possibility of turning someone's life around, someone who might otherwise be preying on the citizens of Jefferson County.
"Drugs cause a lot of crimes, from burglaries to broken homes and families," he said. "We hope this program will educate people to make choices to turn their lives around."
That's where Dr. Alberty comes in. Teaching these individuals to make better choices is the point of the program and that's done through group counseling and individual sessions.
Alberty says that while the sessions serve a purpose in educating inmates about drugs, they are also the backdrop to building the self-esteem of these men.
"We stress what being a man is," he says, listing off definitions that have been developed in the sessions, not just by counselors but by inmates themselves. "A man is responsible. A man works. He takes care of his wife and family. He has a plan for life. A man stands for what he believes in."
Alberty says the sessions can be intense at times since they force inmates to accept responsibility for their actions.
"We tell them to look at the shackles on their feet and then ask, 'How did those chains get there?'" he says. "We get them to accept the blame, to realize it was the choices and actions of their lives that got them to where they are today."
"These men have redeemable qualities," Alberty says. "We're working very hard to develop those qualities and to keep them off of drugs."
Of the just over 100 men to go through the program since it began last year, Alberty says not a single one has come back to jail for drug or violent crime. While Alberty admits two have been repeat offenders, he says they were arrested over child support issues that they were having difficulty resolving.
Thirty percent are now gainfully employed, 29 have begun working on gaining their GED and one has even taken the GED exam. Ten percent have gone on to technical school.
Both Hutchins and Alberty are pleased with those statistics, but they are also realistic about what they are trying to do.
"If we don't see them again, we're successful," Alberty says. "Some will eventually find their way back into the system, we know that."
"Some folks may have to come to jail to give themselves a reality check," Hutchins says. "We're trying to give people a choice. We're not just here to lock people up; we're working to turn them around. We don't want repeat offenders coming to our jail."
"Drugs are a plague in this community. We know we can't reach all of them, but if we can do something to alter the lives of a just a few, it's worth it," Alberty says.
Fred's could take over pharmacies next week
• Fleming does not expect customers should see much change, other than in stores' name and locations
By Parish Howard
Wrens Apothecary and Louisville's Meds Plus could be changing their signs or moving as early as next week.
Jimmy Fleming, who co-owns the pharmacies with Mike McGahee, said Monday that they have been in negotiations with representatives of Fred's pharmacy division since January and that they were just waiting on some of the final paperwork.
Meds Plus will be moving into the current Fred's store on the bypass there in Louisville. Until the new Fred's is built on U.S. One in North Wrens, the current Wrens Apothecary will be operating as a Fred's Express, Fleming said.
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The last he heard, August was a tentative grand opening date for the Wrens store.
"That leads me to believe they are planning to be up and running in July sometimes," he said.
Representatives for Fred's could not be reached for comment.
"They're approaching 500 stores and they have pharmacies in about half of them," Fleming said. "My understanding is they are expanding that area of their business. Most of the new prototype stores, like the one in Louisville, have the pharmacy drive-through installed when it's built, whether or not they have an active pharmacy at that time."
In Louisville, he said, the pharmacy area has been used as a stock room.
"I guess we were a good fit, having pharmacies in both areas," Fleming said.
Overall, Fleming said he doesn't expect his long-time customers should see much of a difference, other than the Fred's name and locations. Fleming said that under the standing agreement he will be the primary pharmacist in Wrens and McGahee will be the primary pharmacist in Louisville.
"We'll be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays," he said. "And it should be very similar to the way we approached all third party plans."
Fleming and McGahee opened Wrens Apothecary in September of 1999 and Meds Plus in April of last year.
"We have enjoyed serving the people of these communities and we look forward to being able to do an even better job," Fleming said.