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March 8, 2007 Issue

Memorial park officially open
Storms cause minimal damage across Jefferson and Glascock
Naming a shadow

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Memorial park officially open

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

There is a little slice of country in downtown Louisville. Thursday March 1, city officials held the grand opening for Helen Clark Memorial Park located beside the Jefferson County Department of Education and in front of Louisville Academy.

The city used money left by a dedicated citizen who wanted to see a new place for the community to come relax and play.

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“The funds were left in the will of Helen Clark, which is who the park was named for,” Louisville council member Tom Watson said. “It was specifically deemed to be used for recreation.”

For the city and council members, it was all about location, location, location when choosing the perfect place for the new park.

“We had an opportunity to buy the property,” Watson explained. “We thought it was a good place right in the center of town and gives everybody access to a recreation area. It sits by Louisville Academy, the Board of Education and the tennis courts and gym are accessible. It rounds out that property for recreation.

“I think it will be a tremendous asset to the community, a focal point to the community. It is a highly visible piece of property.”

But the grand opening of Helen Clark Memorial Park and the renovating of Price Memorial Park are just the beginning of a downtown revitalization. Once funds are secured, the city plans to move the city hall and fire and police departments to the park location.

“We will take the house on the property and convert it to city hall,” Watson said. “None of her money was used for the house. All of it was used for the park itself.”

Watson also noted another step the city of Louisville is taking to revitalize downtown. They plan to use grant money they have secured to renovate sidewalks and add medians in Phase 1 of the project.

“The park opening is another positive step for the city of Louisville and other projects that are under way,” Watson said. “This goes hand in hand with the downtown development.

The project we have for the downtown will probably be in three stages with TEA money that has been awarded to the city. Hopefully the project will let out in a month or two and we will see work in downtown in the second half of this year.

“The city will be redoing sidewalks, putting in a median and putting in some planters and general beautification of downtown. Near the post office and other downtown areas, the steep steps will be fixed and it will become handicap accessible. A median will be put in front of Rogers Tire and Brakes down to the Pal Theater.

It will be a median with trees and shrubbery. And all of this is stage 1. The project (TEA grant) will hopefully become funded again and again until we get up to the courthouse end of Broad Street and redo some of that area too.”

When furthering the project, Watson said the city wants to offer a place where locals can go to a picnic area in downtown while on their lunch break.

“These are pretty major projects,” Watson said. “The public is invited to see drawings on the parks and downtown projects and that should give them a better feel for what we are doing. The drawings are at city hall in the council room.”

The Louisville Beautification Committee is also currently trying to raise funds to purchase additional items needed to complete the downtown area.

“They are raising funds for some extra items and raising money for the purpose of buying bicycle racks and benches,” Watson said.

“The city has already ordered picnic tables to go under the shelter and the community group will buy other items as they see fit.”



Storms cause minimal damage across Jefferson and Glascock

• Surrounding counties bear the brunt of the damaging winds

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

A terrorizing storm left a path of destruction in its wake across the Southeast Thursday night, pushing out unseasonably hot weather and giving way to cool winds Friday morning.

Surrounding counties, including McDuffie, bore the brunt of the string of storms that swept across Georgia, but Jefferson and Glascock counties seemed to suffer only minor damage after city and county officials surveyed the area that morning.

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While the city of Wadley reported no damage, the city of Wrens said the only havoc caused by the storm was the strong winds.

The winds knocked over some signs and trees across the area.

Jefferson Energy reported that the city of Bartow had a few scattered outages, though no other damage or disturbances were reported to the City Hall.

In Louisville, the city fought with repairs to the main pump house after a tree landed on the facility.

“It damaged all the electrical boxes,” Louisville City Administrator Don Rhodes said.

“We were without any power and could not pump from that location.”

The city used a backup well, while employees worked to have the electricity restored to the main pump house.

Rhodes said the pump was up and running by 4 p.m. on Friday.

“We still have to have someone to repair the pump house,” Rhodes said.

“But it is working as far as pumping water. But times like these are why we have a backup well.”

A telephone pole located on Peachtree Street near Jefferson Hospital in Louisville was snapped in two by the inclement weather.

A BellSouth employee on the scene Friday morning reported that the pole was knocked down during the storm Thursday night.

He said it should take workers about two hours to attach the lines from the old poll to a new existing pole located next to the old one.

The same BellSouth employee said he was in Thomson earlier Friday morning to find one street where almost each house had its roof destroyed.

He also reported siding missing off of homes and a stop sign being twisted around one and a half times.

Thomson was one of the many cities that is believed to have suffered from a strong tornado caused by the weather.



Naming a shadow

• Doctors continue to search for a diagnosis to explain why 4-year-old Jeena Simpkins' lungs keep collapsing

By Parish Howard
Publisher

Just watching 4-year-old Jeena Simpkins push her toy cars around her grandmother’s living room, you would never know she was sick.

When she does feel bad, she tries not to let it show. After nearly 75 X-rays, seven sets of bilateral chest tubes and spending most of the last year in a hospital, even at her age she knows that if she starts getting sick she may end up going away again.

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Her mother, Carla Simpkins, watches her play, scooting the cars around and hamming for the camera.

When Jeena coughs, her mother listens closely. She’s hoping that sometime in the next two weeks the doctors will diagnose her daughter with Marfan’s Syndrome. After almost a full year of tests that have left physicians scratching their heads, Carla is hoping for a name to put on the shadow that has been lurking over Jeena since both lungs collapsed last May.

With a diagnosis they can start considering treatment. Without one that shadow remains a terrifying threat, an unknown monster she can’t fight.

May 2, 2006

Carla works 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. in the lab at Jefferson Hospital.

That morning she was dozing at home when Jeena came to her and told her she didn’t feel well.

“She had never really even been sick,” Carla said. “Other than checkups, I don’t think she had ever seen a doctor.”

Carla noticed her daughter’s breathing seemed labored, but she assumed she’d just had a coughing spell. When her breathing didn’t seem to get any better, she called her pediatrician who worked them into his schedule.

He ordered what they all assumed would be a fairly routine chest X-ray.

“Then he met me at the door and told me that an ambulance was on the way and that we needed to get to MCG immediately,” Carla said. “I asked him if I could run home and he said, no. We were just getting her into the ambulance when we heard that a helicopter was en route.”

“I remember, we heard the call go out on the scanner,” said Jeena’s grandmother, Kathy Burke. “They said they had a 3-year-old with both lungs almost completely collapsed. We had no idea it was our Jeena.”

That is how it began.

The Problem

Somehow air was escaping her lungs, entering her body cavity and thereby pressing on the organs, keeping them from re-inflating.

Tubes inserted between the ribs into her upper body cavity allowed the air around her lungs to escape and with the pressure off of the organs, it was up to Jeena’s body to help her lungs reinflate on their own.

After a few days in the hospital she was doing fine and so she was released. But after three days at home, Jeena wasn’t feeling well and after another X-ray, she was sent back to the Augusta hospital for another set of tubes.

For almost six weeks she remained in a hospital bed, on wall suction, unable to move more than a few feet in any direction while doctors ran a battery of tests. They looked for bacterial infections, Tuberculosis, fungal disorders, anything she could have come in contact with that would cause her lungs to continually collapse.

Every test they have run since then has come back negative.

“Since then we’ve been back and forth to Augusta pretty much every week,” Carla said, including several more lengthy hospital stays that left Jeena so weak she had to learn to walk all over again.

And despite all those trips, all the hospital stays, they worry that they still haven’t discovered the root of the problem.

“They (the doctors) aren’t really doing anything about the problem,” Carla said. “The problem is whatever’s causing this. They don’t know what’s causing it, so all they can do is treat the symptoms.”

What’s to come

Most recently Jeena has visited a pediatric geneticist and her parents, Carla and Dennis, are awaiting the results of a test for Marfan Syndrome, a connective tissue disorder.

If it comes back positive there is a host of other problems she may face later in life.

If it comes back negative, her disorder will remain unclassifiable. For the doctor’s, it would be more head scratching before they decide what to test for next; for the family, a few more months of uncertainty.

“And Social Security Insurance won’t take effect without a diagnosis,” Carla added.

Despite missing work to be with their child, bills continue to come in.

That’s why friends have set up an account at First State Bank to collect donations for Jeena and her family to offset medical costs. Donations can be made to A Special Fund For Jeena Simpkins at either the Wrens or Louisville branch.

The family is also planning a March 24 spaghetti supper and fundraiser. Events begin at 5 p.m. and will include a cake auction and tickets for door prizes, which will include a grandfather clock and 32’-inch color TV. Tickets are available from Cheryl Stylon at (706) 547-3973, at Davis McGraw Furniture in Louisville, through the Matthews Fire Department or at the door.




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