Fire destroys home
By Faye Ellison
The good Lord has a way about shining on people,” Terry Inglett said Tuesday afternoon. “The way the whole community pulled together I would have never believed it, but I am living proof of it now.”
Terry and his wife, Annie, stood outside Wednesday morning in their pajamas, helpless as a fire ravaged their home of many years.
But soon after the last flames turned into smoky embers, the Ingletts found that though they have lost their home, they have found many new friends and a new sense of this small community’s mentality when it comes to helping others.
“She was in the shower and I was still asleep,” Terry said explaining that he was on bed rest at that time because of bronchitis. “She was getting ready to go to work and it wasn’t long after she got in the shower, when she said she heard something popping and then the dog barking.
“She put on a housecoat and passed through the house when she noticed through the back door that it was real, real smoky back there. She woke me up and I went to get the fire extinguisher and I used it up. It just wasn’t enough to put the fire out.”
The fire is believed to have begun in the utility room.
“We had a breaker box out there and that is what they are kind of looking at,” he explained. “We won’t know for several weeks until they finish the investigation. Actually because of where the room was, it probably saved our lives.”
Wrens Fire Chief Larry Cheely said a call came in to the Wrens Fire Department at 7:08 a.m. of a fire at a Highway 88 address.
“We arrived on the scene at 7:15 a.m.,” Cheely said. “By the time we got there, the two back rooms were already consumed and the fire was about halfway down the roof.”
Besides fighting the flames, the firefighters were also battling Mother Nature’s cold temperatures and wind chill that left the house covered in icicles.
“They said it was 19 degrees and with the wind blowing, the wind chill factor made it 9 degrees,” Chief Cheely said. “We’ve fought a few fires like that, but it was extremely cold, the water was freezing on our turnout gear. We had to shuttle water because it was out of town and there were no fire hydrants. Our engines were freezing up and we had to slow them up a good bit when shuttling the water. We had one or two little things to make it tougher on us because of the cold weather, but it did not hamper the firefighting.”
Cheely remarked that the house was a total loss with the two back rooms and kitchen completely destroyed, but the walls in the rest of the house were still standing.
Wrens, Matthews, Hillcrest, Stapleton and Avera Fire Departments all responded to the Ingletts home.
“It don’t take much to burn a house up and I knew I had to try to do something to put it out,” Terry said after the extinguisher failed. “I went for the water house, but the outside faucet was frozen. Then I just wanted to make sure my wife was out.”
Terry said he and his wife watched the flames engulf their home with her wearing a housecoat and bedroom shoes, and he, pajamas and socks.
“We didn’t even get to save one of the cars because we couldn’t get back in to get the keys,” Terry remembered. “You couldn’t go back into the house; it was gone so quick. With 30 mile an hour winds pushing the flames, it don’t take long.
“In five minutes it was a done deal. In just five minutes it was uncontrollable at that point. But we’re all right, I got burned a little bit, but it is healing pretty good. I had to go the hospital because of the smoke inhalation, but now I’ve been out and about working.”
There was not much left to salvage from the fire aside from a few family photographs.
“There was just very little stuff left,” Terry said.
Some of their clothing was taken by SERVPRO to see what could be cleaned and salvaged.
“My biggest thing is we got out pretty good,” Terry breathed. “That makes a whole lot of difference. A house is irrelevant to losing somebody. We were real fortunate. We sure believe the good Lord was with us, because we very well could not have heard it or if it would have been an hour earlier, we would not have gotten out.”
For now, taking each day as it comes, Terry said their lives would move on. The Ingletts are currently staying with their family, and thinking some of their future home.
“It’s just so early right now,” Terry said. “We would like to rebuild, but we don’t know when, what kind of house or if it will even be in the same spot. We just want to take our time with it.”
But in the mean time, both Terry and Annie have found comfort in the saving grace and spirit of the local community.
“We want to thank the public, loved ones, friends and churches. They have all been real good to us,” Terry said graciously. “We just believe this is the way the Lord would have it. People who don’t even know who I am find ways to help. That is a good sign that there are a lot of good people out there. Even strangers have stopped and helped and we are so appreciative of that.
“I also want to thank the firefighters. They did one heck of a job in those cold conditions. They stayed just to make sure the fire was out and came to us personally afterwards and said that they were there to help and would even help further. They are really good folks and I commend all of them. They did a really good job.”
Jeff. Co. veterans receive $3 million
By Carol McLeod
Direct payments to Georgia veterans for Fiscal Year 2007, which ended June 31, 2008, totaled more than $1 billion, the Department of Veterans Service stated in a letter to Jefferson County Commissioners dated Jan. 30.
The letter, directed to Commission Chairman William Rabun, pointed out that Georgia is the third state with the most number of veterans and is the top state for direct payments for FY 2007.
Georgia has 765,289 veterans who receive direct payments, following Virginia with 807,326 and Illinois with 841,679. The fourth state is Michigan, which follows Georgia with 761,308 veterans, the report stated.
Virginia is the state with the second highest direct payments to veterans with an amount totaling $1,167,854,000 to Georgia’s $1,227,580,000.
These amounts reflect compensation and pension benefits.
Veterans Administration records show expenditures of more than $3 million in Jefferson County and about $312,000 in Glascock County. Jefferson County lists 1,218 veterans while Glascock County lists 162. These figures include construction and operating costs for the Department of Veterans Affairs. That total for the state is more than $9.18 million.
“I did not realize that so much VA money was coming into Jefferson County,” said Paul Bryan, Jefferson County’s administrator.
“What it does show is that we have a larger number of veterans living here than I thought we did. We appreciate their service,” he said.
Rabun stressed every veteran or dependent must apply for benefits in order to receive them.
“If they’re eligible, go ahead and apply for them,” he said.
Perry Morgan, a representative of the Veterans Service, said some of the areas where he used to go to be available for veterans have been cut.
“I still come to Jefferson County,” he said. “I come to Wrens City Hall on the first Wednesday of every month from 9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m.”
Morgan said he usually takes a brief break for lunch, although not at a scheduled time because of meeting with people who come to see him. Anyone who arrives during his break should wait, he said. “It won’t be long.”
He is in Thomson at the McDuffie County Courthouse on the first and third Thursdays of the month from 8:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m.
Morgan also goes to Warrenton on the first and third Thursdays of the month. He is at the Community Center from 1 p.m. until 3:30 p.m.
“Veterans or dependents of veterans who may be eligible for benefits could come to any site they choose,” he said. “Normally, all our paperwork requires the DD 214 if it’s the veteran. If it’s the widow or widower, the DD 214 and a marriage license are the two primary documents that we would need.”
“Normally, all our paperwork requires the DD 214 if it’s the veteran. If it’s the widow or widower, the DD 214 and a marriage license are the two primary documents that we would need.”
Factors used to determine eligibility include the time of service, levels of income and whether the veteran served during war time, Morgan said.
“We have to know your income and we have to verify the veterans served during wartime for some of those claims,” he said.
Information may also be found at the Veterans Administration’s website, www.va.gov.
$60,000 donated to area programs
By Leila Borders
Tough economic times mean cutbacks for most businesses, but a few area establishments received a boost to their funding this January thanks to the Jefferson Energy Membership Cooperative. An inventive program, Operation Round Up, is providing assistance for service organizations throughout the eleven counties in the JEMC service area. This year, the program gave away more than $60,000 to ten organizations.
Operation Round Up finds its funding from JEMC members. Each month, the total energy bill for a member is rounded off to the next highest dollar and the extra cents are used for Operation Round Up fundings. For example, if a bill for service is $71.34, then the member pays $72 and the remaining 66 cents are contributed to the Jefferson Energy Cooperative Foundation. JEMC members are automatically enrolled in the program, but can opt-out.
Those few cents gained every month adds up; with 26,000 members, the Foundation collects thousands of dollars to put back into community organizations. Organizations that would like to receive funding from Operation Round Up must submit an application detailing the way in which the funds would be used. Ten organizations from several area counties received from $2,300 to $10,000 for special projects and everyday needs.
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“We redid the old VFW building in Swainsboro,” said Scotty Nasworthy, spokesman for the American Legion Post 103 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5745 of Swainsboro. The Swainsboro posts received $6,000 of Operation Round Up funds, all of which was used to update their building allowing them to continue offering programs and services for veterans and their families.
“We’ve already purchased a new van to deliver meals to homebound clients,” said Judy Powell, director of the Emanuel County Senior Center. The Center, which serves the elderly and persons with disabilities throughout Emanuel County, received $5,000 to help with its van purchase.
Four area law enforcement offices received funding from Operation Round Up. The McDuffie County Sheriff’s Office received $6,600, the Bartow Police Department received $10,000, the Warrenton Police Department received $4,000, and the Warren County Sheriff’s Department received $5,221. All the departments plan to use the funds to purchase specialized law enforcement equipment.
The Louisville Food Pantry received $5,000 to assist with purchasing food supplies. The pantry furnishes food for families in the Louisville area who are in need of assistance.
“We’re using it to build a new crow’s nest/field house for our new field,” said Greg Brooks, coach for Wrens Dixie Youth baseball. The Youth’s field was built two years ago, and they received $10,000 to help construct a new field house.
The Thomson Family Y received $10,000 to purchase playground equipment. The Family Y operates recreation and gymnasium services for communities at a low membership cost.
Child Enrichment, which encompasses the Child Advocacy Center and CASA program of Richmond County, received $2,300 from Operation Round Up. The organization provides forensic interviewing and therapy services for children who have been sexually abused. All of their services are provided free of charge.
“Some of the funds will be used for therapy workbooks for teens, workbooks for non-offending caregivers, and education materials for our staff,” said April Zahner, development coordinator for Child Enrichment. The funds also will be used to purchase TV equipment for the facility.
“I love Jefferson Energy,” said Zahner, who is also a member of JEMC. The funds collected from JEMC members for Operation Round Up are tax deductible.
With $64,121 of dispersed funds, Operation Round Up certainly proved this year what a difference a few cents can make.