Pilots ‘n Paws
take flight to save lives
By Jared Stepp
The soft mews of kittens and barks of puppies were heard in a flight en route to Ocala Fla., last Wednesday as a group of pilots transported animals to a pound that won’t euthanize the homeless creatures.
A call came out on an online forum called vansairforce.com asking for help in transporting animals to Ocala to keep them from being killed. Pierre Smith, a frequent visitor and flight advisor to the site, was one of the first to answer. Smith contacted the man who posted the call and left his number. The man called Smith not much later and told him how he could help. Smith was to wait on a van carrying cages of animals at his airport. His job was to fly them in his plane to Florida.
Smith braved the 40 degree cold at 8:30 Wednesday morning with four other pilots to await the van. When it pulled up, they were surprised to see 52 animals; cats and dogs, all in cages stacked to the ceiling of the van. Smith took out the back seats of his airplane and lined a plastic sheet and stacks of newspaper for the animals. He carried 10 dogs and five cats in his plane, and the other pilots carried the rest. There was one full grown cat with 4 kittens and 8-week- to 3-month-old dogs.
“It was a bumpy ride down low, but once I got higher they were relaxing,” Smith said. He said he kept the heater on, and would take an occasional glance to check on them, seeing the big pile of fur that was the kittens huddled together.
Smith traveled 334 miles in his journey and was able to land in Florida in 2 hours with his fast plane. When he landed, he brought all the animals inside a pilots lounge for the representatives of the Tampa Bay Humane Society to pick them up.
Smith said one man in the lounge said he was amazed at what Smith was doing. When Smith said there would be four more behind them, the man was astonished.
The animals were soon picked up and were taken to a rescue center to help find them good homes. The other choice would have been leaving the animals at a shelter that kills the animals if a new home is not found quickly.
The organization, called Pilots ‘n Paws, helps with rescues like this all over the country. Smith said many pilots do legs of flights where one pilot might take them 300 miles to somewhere, then another pilot would take them on another leg to somewhere else, all to find a home for these animals. Smith said the animals transported are not just cats and dogs, but they can include snakes and other creatures that are in need of a home.
Smith said he returned from the trip at 4 p.m. that day. Smith has been flying since 1967 and began at a low cost flying school while he was in the army.
“There’s always a share of distasteful news,” Smith said. “But when someone reads or hears a heartwarming story, it’s something really special.”
Smith said he shared his adventure at a recent pilots meeting and a few pilots were so touched they said they wanted to participate in the program.
When asked if he thought he would make the trip again, Smith quickly replied, “Yes, I do.” He said he would help the Paws ‘n Pilots program on an as-needed basis whenever he was available. He said he would rather not see the animals euthanized and that the trip showed him the need for neutering and spaying pets. He said this is a very positive thing and he hopes that people will help to spay and neuter their pets.
Smith mentioned foster homes are needed for animals. He said weather and other circumstances during the legs of carrying the animals may require a place for the animals to stay while the pilot waits for weather to pass for example.
He said the organization helps put aviation in a good light and that he is amazed at how many pilots are willing to help.
“This is totally a self-funded deal,” said Smith. “We paid for gas, our aircrafts and everything.”
Anyone interested in the program can visit pilotsnpaws.org.
Heating assistance available to Glascock County
By Jeanie Ellison
Glascock Action Partners, Inc. is working with the CSRA EOA, Inc. Energy Assistance Program to sponsor a program designed to help those who may not be able to cover their heating bills as the cold blasts across the area this winter.
GAP Director Wanda Davis said the program, though it is based on income, may help many in Glascock County receive a one-time payment of up to $350 toward heating costs.
Senior citizens applications were taken in November. Davis explained that if funds are left, they are made available to everyone in the county fitting the criteria for energy assistance. Based on the county’s population, Glascock County received 300 spaces.
“We are concerned that there are more people that need it, but don’t know about it,” Davis said.
This is the first year that GAP, Inc. has helped with the program. In the past, seniors could sign-up at the Senior Center and others could go to Warrenton to sign-up.
“I thought well, that would be a good service for us to provide here at GAP,” Davis explained. “We don’t get any money from it and we have a couple of volunteers that do the applications. We take the applications here at the office and mail them to the Augusta office to be processed. We thought it would be better if our people could apply here in Glascock County. The Augusta office determines who is eligible and who is not.”
Davis also said the funds go directly to the applicant’s heating provider, whether it is a gas provider, Jefferson Energy or Georgia Power.
Around 170 households have received assistance, leaving at least 100 households that may be assisted on a first come, first serve basis.
GAP, Inc. will hold a mass sign-up on Wednesday, Jan. 27, and Thursday, Jan. 28, by appointment. To schedule an appointment or for more information, call (706) 598-0722.
Items needed for the appointment are a picture ID, Social Security card for all members of the household, income for the past 30 days for all members of the household 18 and older and the most recent heating bill.
Income eligibility is gross income at or below $21,458 for one person; $25,061 for two people; $34,663 for three people; $41,266 for four people; $47,868 for five people; $54,471 for six people; $55,709 for seven people; and $56,947 for eight people.
Speeding tickets can increase by $200
Drivers who have been caught speeding and are convicted of driving 75 mph or faster on two-lane roads in Georgia or driving 85 mph or faster on any roads in the state will be considered super speeders under a new law that took effect Friday, Jan. 1, the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety announced last week.
The new law will add $200 to any fine such drivers already face, Jim Shuler said in a press release. Shuler is the director of public affairs with the GOHS.
Shuler said on average there is a speed-related death every day in Georgia.
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“My personal feeling is it’s another way for the state to generate revenue,” Jefferson County Sheriff Gary Hutchins said in an interview last week.
“It’s taking the revenue from our home and giving it to the state. People need to realize that if this fine isn’t paid, their license will be suspended. If they get caught for another moving violation, not knowing their license has been suspended, that’s another fine on top of that,” he said. “I hope it will save lives. I’m just asking the citizens of our county to pay more attention and not go over these limits.”
Bartow Police Chief Clay Neal said he didn’t think the new law will affect anyone in Bartow as most of the speed limits inside the city limits are 35 mph, well below the threshold.
"I think there are going to be some challenges,” he said.
“You have a thing called double jeopardy. You’re caught for speeding and you pay a fine and then you have to pay another fine to a different agency for the same offense. I’m not an attorney so I don’t know but that’s my opinion,” Neal said.
Wadley Police Chief Wesley Lewis said there have not been drivers who meet the super-speeder threshold in Wadley either but believes the state fine will help reduce the incidents overall.
“The fine is going to be a deterrent,” Lewis said.
“They’ll get a fine from the sheriff’s office or the city police department and then they’ll get another fine from the state. They might think twice about doing it again,” he said.
Kate Fallon, an assistant public information officer with GOHS, said the law will apply only to tickets written on or after Jan. 1, when the law took effect.
An area judge familiar with the law and who sees traffic cases in his court pointed out that not all tickets specify the rate of speed.
The ticket may simply state the driver exceeded the posted speed limit, which would not provide the information needed to determine a violation of the super speeder law, he said.
Shuler said the $200 fine will not be included with the fine issued from local courts. The super speeder fee will be paid to the Georgia Department of Driver Services.
The DDS will send a written notice to offenders within 30 days after receiving a qualifying ticket and notice of the conviction, Shuler said. The notice will be sent to the address shown on department records and will state how the fine can be paid online, by mail or in person, he said.
Failure to pay the $200 within 90 days of receiving the notice will result in suspension of the driver’s license.
Shuler said an additional $50 will be added when the driver applies for a license reinstatement. Fees collected from such cases will go to the state’s general fund to be used for Georgia’s trauma care hospital system.
Anyone interested in reading more about the law can visit the website www.superspeedergeorgia.org.
Lt. Paul Cosper, public information officer with the Georgia State Patrol, said this law will not change the way troopers do their job.
“We don’t go out targeting specifically for that,” he said.
“We’re supporting any laws they come up with. We’re not going to wait until they get to that (speed). You might get stopped at 70 mph. There’s a lot of variables. We’re not going to wait until they reach that speed. Whatever we catch them at that’s what we’re going to write,” Cosper said.
“We’re out there every day, 365 days, trying to make the roads safe. We’re going to stop speeders and if that law applies to them that will be determined. We’re going to enforce all the laws. We’re going to enforce them with vim and vigor and we’re out there trying to save lives every day,” he said.