Courthouse offices reorganized
By Jessica Newberry
After recent renovations to the roof and clock tower, plans are under way for similar interior work inside Jefferson County Courthouse.
Several offices will move to new locations in the county’s effort to increase efficiency and accessibility.
The tax assessor’s office will be housed in the space where the building department has been located.
“The space will be larger and more convenient, so citizens will be able to more efficiently get information from the office,” said county administrator Paul Bryan. “The area will also be more conducive to undisturbed work with partitioned work spaces separate from the front desk.”
Bids have been submitted for the work modules. Jefferson County commissioners accepted a bid from Best Office Solutions of Waynesboro.
Bryan expects the move to take approximately 45 days with most of the work being done after business hours. Preparations are already being made in the former building department. A bid by Davis-McGraw Fine Home Furnishings of Louisville was accepted for floor coverings.
The total move will cost approximately $25,000, according to Bryan.
The clerk of court records room will move into what is now the tax assessor’s office in order to increase vault storage area.
“This will allow work to be done by attorneys and citizenry in a records room with adequate space,” said Bryan.
“Overall the move should help citizens tremendously,” he said. “They will have room to work and resources at hand. Work can be done quickly with fewer interruptions, and the increased retention space will make records more accessible.”
The office provided for the Jefferson County sheriff will be moved to the opposite end of the courthouse next to the current tax assessor’s office. The chief appraiser’s office will remain in its current location.
Preparing to groove
By James Watson
This year, the Jefferson County Band Program underwent several dramatic changes. The most notable difference is the entirely fresh lineup of band directors at Wrens and Louisville middle schools and Jefferson County High School. Each of the directors are right out of college and have fresh outlooks on the future of the music program in Jefferson County.
At Louisville Middle School, Greg Burns has taken the reins as music director. Burns is a native of Chatsworth. While in middle school, under the influence of a cousin, Burns decided to join the band.
“I had a cousin that was in band a few years before me,” said Burns. “She always talked about how much fun it was to be in a musical organization. She helped me eventually make the decision to join the middle school band.”
Burns was primarily a trumpet player, but he also played the baritone and the tuba. While in high school, he became a section leader in the high school band for two years and served as the band librarian for a year. He then graduated from Murray County High School in 1997. He then attended college at Georgia College and State University and received his Bachelors of Music Education degree.
Burns was drawn to Jefferson County following his graduation from GCSU by two different people. The first was Clint Raburn, an ex JCHS band director who served about 10 years ago. The other was James McMillan, the new band director at JCHS.
Burns said his goals as the LMS Band Director are to help build the music program at the middle and high school levels.
“A big goal of mine is to get the kids more excited about music,” he said. “Music isn’t just something to do. I’d also like to take our 7th and 8th graders to festival and receive superior ratings. It’s our job as band directors to help the kids achieve all of these goals.”
At Wrens Middle School, the band will be directed by Lyndsey Oexman. Oexman is a native of Fayetteville. While in high school, Oexman was also a trumpet player and went on to become a section leader. In addition, she also played a part in the school’s drum line for three years. Oexman graduated from Sandy Creek High School in 2001. She attended college at Columbus State and graduated in 2006 with Bachelors in Music Education degree. She, along with Burns, indicated that she may go on to pursue a master’s degree sometime in the future.
She was drawn to Jefferson County because of her husband’s involvement in the Army Band at Fort Gordon. She cites her primary musical influence to be her step dad, who is a piano player and organist.
While at Wrens Middle School, Oexman said she wants to help the program grow and primarily help keep kids involved in band during the transition from 8th to 9th grade.
“I love seeing the kids who are just starting in band,” she said. “They all have excited looks on their face and they think that playing music is just the coolest thing in the world. That’s what makes my job so rewarding.”
At Jefferson County High School, James McMillan will assume the position of band director. McMillan was previously the band director at Louisville Middle School during the 2007-08 school year.
McMillan is a native of Milledgeville. He graduated from Baldwin County High School in 2002. He then went on to Georgia College and State University and graduated with a Bachelor in Music Education degree in 2007. He and his wife then moved to Jefferson County that year and he began to work with the Jefferson County music program.
“Clint Raburn told me that Jefferson County was a great place to teach,” said McMillan.
With all new directors in the program, the musical aspect of it has also undergone changes. McMillan revealed that the band will be performing a series of Motown hits at football games. Songs that McMillan revealed were “I want you back”, “Respect”, “Papa was a Rollin’ stone” and “Ain’t no mountain high enough”.
Jefferson County High School employee Tiffany Howard said the band has a better sound this year than any year since 2000.
In addition to the new music, the band is also receiving new uniforms, which will be in use by the end of 2008. The money for the uniforms was provided by the JCHS Band Boosters Club.
“The county and booster club really helped out a lot,” said McMillan. “We should have the uniforms by the end of the football season.”
This year, the high school has 50 students involved in band. McMillan said he wants to see continuous growth throughout the next few years.
“I want to see somewhere around 100 kids in band within the next three years or so,” he said. “I’m in it for the long haul, so a lot of the goals that I have are long term.”
Glascock BOE confirms four cases of staph infection
By Faye Ellison
It has been confirmed by the Glascock County Board of Education that one employee and three students at Glascock County Consolidated School have been diagnosed with MRSA (Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) and staph infections.
“As of Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2008, there have been a total of four confirmed cases of MRSA and staph infections, the employee which was reported previously and three students who have recently tested positive for MRSA,” Glascock County Superintendent Jim Holton said Tuesday.
Parents were notified in a letter on Aug. 21, after three students were diagnosed with common staph infection and test results were pending as to whether any were MRSA.
“There is a 72-hour delay in test results,” Holton said. “We cannot report it as MRSA until we have test results.”
The employee and one of the students have been treated and released and are now back at school. Two other students are currently being treated.
“GCCS administration has requested assistance from the CSRA Division of Public Health and would like to reassure parents that school staff will continue to take precautionary measures to disinfect school facilities, with special attention to the gymnasium, hallways, restrooms and other high traffic areas,” Holton explained. “Please encourage your children to continue to wash their hands throughout the day with soap and water, avoid sharing personal items, and keep all cuts covered with a dressing or bandage. Practicing good hygiene is the best way to prevent skin infections.”
Holton said school nurse Debbie Milburn, is working with the faculty and staff to make them aware of the signs and symptoms.
“Glascock County Consolidated School will continue to work diligently to provide a safe environment for students and staff,” Holton continued.
MRSA is a type of staph infection that is resistant to commonly used antibiotics and frequently causes skin infections. Although resistant to some antibiotics, treatment is readily available and if detected early, an otherwise healthy person should expect a full recovery.
Holton explained that common signs of a skin infection include redness, warmth, swelling and tenderness. Sometimes the infection will look like a spider bite, boil, abscess or turf burn.
“If it is left untreated, it could progress into a more serious illness,” Holton said.
MRSA skin infections are generally spread by skin-to-skin contact or by direct contact with the infected wound drainage. It may also be spread by contact with contaminated surfaces or other things such as sports equipment or personal hygiene items, but cannot be spread through the air.
“Please be aware of the signs and symptoms of staph or MRSA,” Holton asked. “If you or a family member has the symptoms described, please contact your medical provider.”
Holton did confirm that Glascock County had one other case of staph infection last year, but had not had another case until this time.
The school system working with the East Central Health District has put precautions in place to prevent the spread of the disease. The Health Department asks that any citizens who have any questions call (706) 598-2061.
• Hand sanitizers have been issued, with specific instruction on their use.
• Good hygiene practices are being encouraged such as not sharing personal items and washing hands often.
• Those involved in athletic activities have been instructed to shower with soap and water as soon as possible after direct contact sports.
• A specific chemical that releases a type of fog to reduce the spread of MRSA has been used.
• Athletic areas and sports equipment have been cleaned with a commercial disinfectant. This will continue after each use of equipment until further notice.
Two years ago, Jefferson County High School had two confirmed cases of staph infection as well. Two of the high school’s football players were found to have the infections, according to JCHS Principal Dr. Molly Howard.
“This type of infection is more common with football players who tend to have more open wounds and close contact with one another,” Dr. Howard explained. “But it is not limited to high school players, it is common in the NFL and other pro-athletic competitions and it is also common in hospitals.”
Dr. Howard also voiced that citizens should be concerned with an infection that she described as looking worse than a boil.
“It swells and looks very angry and you know you need to get it treated, especially this time of year when it is so hot and humid. It is very common for bacteria to grow and you need to get it checked out by a doctor.”
Dr. Howard said the two players were taken to doctors after seeing the infection, but did not feel bad from the staph.
“Once you see it, you know it,” she said.
The players were restricted for a period of time, according to Dr. Howard.
“The doctor put them on restriction and we just take the universal care that you always do when dealing with anything like that,” she said. “The coaches made sure they took their uniforms home and washed them daily, they cloroxed ear pads and shoulder pads daily. You still want kids to not share towels or soap, and even now we periodically wash down with a disinfectant a couple of times a week.”
Dr. Howard said the school has not had another case of staph infection since that time.
“It lives on every surface that any of us touch everyday,” she reminded. “We could get it too and never play a sport. It is just a bacteria that is a part of our environment.”
New Bible-based curriculum
could be offered at GCCS
By Faye Ellison
The works of the Bible are as controversial as they are old, but one local school is looking to study it for its historical and literary values.
Recently the Georgia Department of Education approved two Bible-based curricula to be taught in schools. The Glascock County Board of Education is currently studying its option to implement a Bible class elective into its high school curriculum, according to Glascock County School Superintendent Jim Holton.
“The Board of Education has requested a group of community members assist in the decision making process,” he said.
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The state-approved Bible classes come after Georgia lawmakers passed legislation in 2006 that allows public schools to offer high school electives that teach the Bible from literary and historic perspectives.
“We have enlisted the help of several citizens as members of the Glascock County Bible Curriculum Focus Group,” Holton explained. “The group has been asked to examine the pros and cons of this initiative and ultimately make a recommendation to the Board of Education as to the viability of this undertaking.”
The courses will only be taught as literature electives or as a social studies elective, Holton assured.
“As a literature elective the purpose would be to study the Bible as a work of literature, and as a social studies elective the emphasis would be on the historical aspects of the Bible,” he said.
Holton said that the board knew when the legislation was passed due to the spotlight of the media, and when the state Department of Education passed the curriculum on it, the board knew they were interested.
“We have been working on this since that time,” he said. “We have gotten this far and have asked a group of community citizens to help with the decision making. We want to know how the community feels about it and if it is something that they want. We want to make sure that everyone is in accord.”
Holton said that the schools may only study the Bible as a literary work or as history. State curriculum is clear that teachers cannot lead worship services in the classrooms.
“When you look at our country as a whole, you can’t get to where we are in America without the history of the Bible,” Holton said. “Our nation was founded on it, but recently it has kind of been edging away from the Bible.
“We are just a small county, but we want to know if the people in the county are interested in this. Our Board of Education is interested in doing this; they let me know from the beginning.”
Holton has asked that anyone interested, contact a member of the focus group to provide recommendations, comments or acquire additional information.
Members of the group are Wilma Mathis at (706) 598-2351, Elsie Milburn at (706) 598-3622, Betty Hutcheson at (706) 598-2698, Etta Wilcher at (706) 598-3414, Jean Usry at (706) 598-2218, Gail Underwood at (706) 598-2077, Kathy Chalker at (706) 598-3511, Carol R. Downs at (706) 598-3836, Gwen Couch at (706) 598-3069, Jacky Downs at (706) 598-3155, Samuel Mitts at (706) 598-0710 and Wayne Scarber at (706) 598-3500.