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October 11, 2007 Issue

Program studies our poverty
Dr. I.W. Yun pleads guilty; Wrens office now closed
Fire Safety...

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Program studies our poverty

• Program organizers are returning to discuss results of findings on poverty study and state grant spending in our area and across state

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

An initiative that began in the fall of 2006 will be revisited in two weeks by Glascock and Jefferson counties.

The Communities of Opportunity initiative created by the Department of Community Affairs and the Rural Development Council in partnership with the University of Georgia’s Fanning Institute was designed to address the lagging economic vitality of rural Georgia through community self-assessment, targeted technical assistance and incentives, according to Glascock County Development Authority member Lori Boyen.

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Last year town hall meetings were held in both counties, along with nine other counties, to assess why, with so much grant monies being given to rural communities, they are still not thriving like other areas in the state. The CSRA, which includes Glascock and Jefferson, was the pilot area of 11 counties for this initiative.

The state of Georgia is looking to better its relationship with its rural communities. Out of the 159 counties within the state, 91 counties have persistent poverty rates. Now state leaders are looking to change the statistic.

“We shouldn’t have 91 counties with persistent poverty rates,” University of Georgia’s Fanning Institute’s Mike Bishop said. “This state does so much with economic development. We know the state of Georgia, through state agencies, can do things more effectively.”

Bishop went on to explain that those communities, who do not work holistically, will be at a competitive disadvantage for state grants and loans.

“If it is, changes need to be made at the state level,” Bishop said of the topics that were discussed at the meeting.

The Georgia Rural Development Council, University of Georgia’s Fanning Institute and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs thought that using the CSRA would be a good scale of the state.

“If you look at the CSRA and compare it to the state, it is a nice microcosmic state of Georgia,” Bishop said. “You have Augusta, which is similar to Atlanta and then you have Columbia County that is like Cobb County. The other rural counties are similar to counties in south Georgia. The region as a whole looks a lot like the state of Georgia.

“We will be able to really make some good generalizations for the state as a whole by looking at the CSRA. What we learn in Region 7 will be a good education, a good start.”

The Glascock County Development Authority is sponsoring the Communities of Opportunity initiative for their county. The meeting will be a chance for community leaders and citizens to review the findings from the town hall meeting last fall.

“We basically go over that and decide what we need to do,” Boyen said. “We will decide on a couple of initiatives and whether or not we want to join this program.”

Boyen, along with Jefferson County leaders, encourage both citizens and community leaders such as elected officials to attend the meeting.

“We are trying to get as many people as possible,” Boyen said. “We are encouraging everyone to please come. Anybody can go and look to see what was talked about last year.”

Glascock County’s meeting will be held Tuesday, Oct. 23, at the Glascock Action Partners, Inc. Community Resource Center. Community leaders, such as commissioners, city council and board of education members, the sheriff, police and fire department chiefs and other elected officials will be asked to attend from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. All citizens may attend from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m.

Jefferson County’s meeting will be held Monday, Oct. 22, at the Senior Center in Louisville. Community leaders are asked to come from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. also, while anyone may attend from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m.

Bishop said this gave those involved in the initiative an inside track to how citizens see the state of Georgia with their interaction with the community and how the citizens believe the state can improve those relationships. Through the feedback from the community, Bishop said the state hopes to find a better fit for the needs of citizens.

“We recognize the fact that all local communities are unique,” he said. “Each one has different opportunities and we need to provide services in a more unique fashion to them. The Community of Opportunity Initiative is working with all the folks at the local level for any kind of planning at that level. We are trying to have an effort at a local level to do things comprehensively.”

Bishop said the state agencies want to find communities in the state of Georgia that have government entities, including commissions, school boards or any other kind of local government that work together for the good of the community.

“We want to find those places and learn from them,” he said. “We need to replicate this in places that aren’t doing it. To be honest there are some communities where the school system doesn’t talk to the local government. This way we help local communities do planning comprehensively and to bring all facets of the community together.”



Dr. I.W. Yun pleads guilty; Wrens office now closed

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

Wrens physician, Dr. In Whan Yun, was ordered to close down his office and cannot practice medicine anywhere in the United States after pleading guilty Tuesday, Oct. 2 to unlawfully prescribing narcotics.

This is just one of the eight counts that Dr. Yun was originally charged with in April for distributing and dispersing a legal drug illegally.In April of this year Drug Enforcement Agency investigators along with several local law enforcement agencies served Dr. Yun, 69, with a warrant to search his Wrens office, home and Wrens Drug, where investigators said many of the prescriptions were being filled.

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Edmund A. Booth Jr., United States Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia, announced that Dr. Yun plead guilty to illegally dispersing a Schedule III controlled substance, hydrocodone, outside the usual course of professional practice without legitimate reason.

Dr. Yun pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Dudley H. Bowen Jr. for a Dec. 14, 2005, issuance of a prescription that was recorded by an undercover operative, according to Jefferson County Investigator Clark Hiebert.

Hiebert said the operative asked Dr. Yun for prescriptions to treat impotency and pain.

A Drug Enforcement Agency agent testified that the operative told the doctor he was going on a cruise with his girlfriend who liked pain medicine.

Though Dr. Yun plead guilty Tuesday, he has not yet been sentenced by the judge. Yun was made to forfeit $200,000, a figure that Hiebert said the U.S. Attorney’s Office along with agents, came up with as a percentage of the money Dr. Yun received by prescribing medication for non-medical reasons.

Dr. Yun, who had practiced in Wrens for almost 30 years, is free on bond until he is sentenced for the plea.

“This is a negotiated plea, but not a negotiated sentence,” Hiebert said.

“When someone pleads guilty or is found guilty, they have a probation officer review all of the information that is relevant to the case.

Just because he pled to one count, does not mean all the other counts will not be considered because they are relevant to the case.”Hiebert said that Dr. Yun could be sentenced up to five years in prison, fined $250,000 or both. “The judge is able to look at the information from the case and make the decision as to what the sentence will be.”

Hiebert said that though the Federal Bureau of Investigation was investigating Dr. Yun as far back as 1983, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office was bombarded with reports and complaints that Dr. Yun was prescribing Schedule II or III narcotics to the complainants’ family members without them having medical problems.

“We have a lot of people who are going to take prescription drugs to make them feel good, more so than marijuana, alcohol, cocaine or methamphetamines,” Hiebert said. “It’s something that has become pretty widespread with the lower class, middle class and upper class, the young, middle and upper age groups. This has become a growing problem with someone prescribing narcotics so easily.”

Hiebert added that situations like this play out in doctor offices all across Georgia and the United States.

“Our county is not the only county with these problems,” he explained. “Doctors in other counties are being looked at, watched, observed. They are being monitored. If some things don’t change there will probably be some things coming down in other areas.”

Depending on the type of narcotic and the milligrams, Hiebert said one of the pills such as hydrocodone, valium or oxycotin can sell for as high as $40 or as low as $20.

Hiebert lamented that sometimes a doctor who can prescribe legal drugs is just as deadly as your average street drug dealer, however the sentences they face do not compare to that of convicted street drug dealers.

“You know officers are out in the streets fighting illegal drugs every day and trying to curb the use when you have a situation like this,” he said. “You have a doctor that has a license to prescribe narcotics. He has a license to prescribe drugs to be sold under the guise of being legal. When someone has that license, it is harder to catch them and it is even harder to convict them.

“They are worse than drug dealers. You can hardly catch them prescribing the drug and you don’t even catch them near the drugs they ‘sell.’ They can destroy people’s lives just as bad as the illegal street drugs. People get hooked on pills when they don’t have a medical problem and can lose everything they have. They can’t work or don’t want to work, they can lose their license because they are driving under the influence. They lose their family, their home, their business.

“To me this is one of the worse drug dealers under the cloak of trying to sell drugs. I just wish the sentence they receive would be able to compare to that of an illegal drug dealer.”



Fire Safety...

Latia Berry, a 7-year-old second grader at Louisville Academy, suits up (at right) during a fire safety program held at the school Friday, Sept. 28.

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The program, also presented that morning at Thomas Jefferson Academy, was presented by local firefighters and Buzzly Fire Safety, a nonprofit company. “With today’s kick-off, we delivered 61 Buzzly Fire Safety Programs to be distributed on behalf of funds awarded by The Georgia Firefighters Burn Foundation’s Brant Chesney Grant and Jefferson EMC to 42 elementary school classrooms, the three public libraries, 14 day care centers and the eight fire stations,” the agency stated in a press release.




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