County hosts cleanup day
By Carol McLeod
Jefferson County’s spring clean up day was held Saturday, March 26, and resulted in more than 140 tons of waste being brought to the county’s landfill.
Shawana Brown, the landfill operator supervisor, said Saturday at 11 a.m. the landfill had received an equivalent of three days’ worth of trash so far.
Citizens wanting to dispose of electronics brought those items to the Hillcrest Fire Department where Glenise Dixon, county commission administrative clerk, had volunteered to help.
A correctional officer, CO2 Willie Wicker, and a crew of three county inmates, helped load computers and TVs onto a trailer. When the trailer was full, Wicker drove it to the landfill. Brown said there were two such loads for the day.
“I’d like to thank the citizens of Jefferson County and the employees who worked with the landfill in our annual spring clean up,” said Jefferson County Administrator Paul Bryan in an interview Tuesday.
“The commission has always felt that this allowed the citizens to beautify the community by providing them the free disposal day,” he said, adding there was a fee for some of the televisions and for the tires.
Brown said about 135 customers brought a total 140.75 tons of items, including 18 tires and 13 TVs.
“Last year, we had 95 customers,” Brown said.
“The electronics will be weighed when the vendor picks them up on Friday, April 1,” she said. “Creative Recycling sends us a report and a certificate of recycling.”
Brown said last year’s certificate says the total weight of electronics was 6,040 pounds.
“That consists of PCs all the way to large peripherals,” she said.
Brown said last year they had only six tires.
“This year, we also had 3.42 tons of tires that also came in,” she said, adding this is included in the total weight.
“The weighed tires are separate from the counted tires,” she said.
Brown said she thought the county began the program in 2002.
“We started off doing it twice a year up to 2005. Then we started doing it once a year in 2006,” she said.
“Overall, we had 75 percent more waste than what came in last year on the clean up day and 31 percent more customers,” Brown said.
“The people of Jefferson County always participate well in clean up day,” she said. “The people came out in droves this year.”
Brown said two people who deserve recognition for the event’s success are Hillcrest Fire Chief Dave Beachey and Dixon.
“I’d like to also thank Dave Beachey at the Hillcrest Fire Department with helping us with the electronic waste recycling at that location. Everything went more smoothly this year. This made our third year with the electronic recycling,” she said.
“I just want to say a shout out to Glenise Dixon at the commissioners’ office. She has come out here and helped for the last eight or nine years. If it hadn’t been for her, I wouldn’t have been able to pull it off. That is the busiest day of the year and it makes my job a whole lot less stressful and frustrating. I thank everybody for their help and assistance. It turned out well this year. It turned out really well,” she said.
A mother and son from Louisville were among the customers that day. Karen McGruder and her son, Chris Crenshaw, brought a sofa, a chair, four tires, an old grill and some trash. McGruder said this was her first time participating in the event.
“It’s a good thing they’re doing,” she said. “And it helps us.”
Brown said the fee for the tires ranges from $2 a tire up to $150 per ton.
Martha Lindner and David Lindner from Wrens were also among those taking advantage of the service.
“I think it’s great,” Martha Lindner said. “I think they should do it more often.”
Relay For Life to charge entrance fees this year
By Carol McLeod
Dianne Rhodes, the public relations coordinator for Jefferson County’s Relay For Life, recently announced a change to the event.
As a means of addressing problems there have been in the past, anyone attending the event who is not affiliated with a team or a survivor will pay an entrance fee. The exception will be for children aged 5 and younger who are attending with their family, she said last week.
We are trying to implement a security policy,” she said in an interview Friday, March 25.
“This is in no way to keep people from coming and enjoying themselves and having a good time. To us, this is a solemn occasion,” she said.
For anyone 21 and older, the entrance fee will be $1. Attendees in this category will be given a purple wristband and may stay as long as they choose.
The main change will effect attendees aged 20 to 6 and who are not affiliated with a team or survivor.
These individuals will be charged $10 to attend the event on Friday, April 29.
They will be given a red wristband to wear and will be allowed to attend only from 4 p.m. until 10 p.m.
Rhodes said this is the first time there’s been an entry fee at the Wrens event.
“Other counties have done this in prior years,” she said. “This began as a security measure.”
The entrance fee must be paid in cash, she said. There will not be an entry fee to attend Saturday.
Another change for the Relay this year is the addition of a team from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.
The team captain, Christy James, is an LPN who works at the jail.
James said this is her first time being involved with the Relay. Her father, who does not live in the area, is a cancer survivor.
The team will have a yard sale Saturday, April 2, at Louisville Hardware’s parking lot, James said.
There will be a lot of children’s clothing and household items, she said.
“Some computer printers, a TV. It will be from 7 a.m. to around 2 p.m. or 3 p.m. But if there are people still there, we’re not going to shut it down,” James said.
The team will be the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office-Southern Health Partners. Southern Health Partners is the contractor James and the other nurses work through.
“As of right now, we have 17 members. Several of them are nurses, some are from the sheriff’s office, some of the jailors and some people from the court house are on the team and, of course, family members,” James said.
The team started about two weeks ago, she said.
“We’re going to do a raffle for three baskets with different items that have been donated from the community. One of the basket’s themes is family game night. Tickets are $1 a piece. One ticket is a chance to win one of the baskets. One ticket equals three chances to win,” she said.
“I haven’t been a part of any from this community yet so I’m really excited. I’ve lived here about three and a half years,” she said.
“We are going to have a dunk-a-deputy on the night of the Relay. Seven deputies have already volunteered and two others are on standby and we’re still recruiting. We’re saying $2 a ball or three balls for $5. It was a team effort to come up with this idea,” she said.
Anyone interested in supporting the team or who wants to join should contact James by calling the jail at 478-625-7077 and asking for the medical department.
“Anybody who wants to join,” she said. “I’m not going to turn anybody away for our team. Being a nurse and my dad is a cancer survivor. My nurses and I decided we wanted to do something for the community and the sheriff was all for it.”
JCHS art students’ talent on display
By Casey Sullivan
The Advanced Placement art students at Jefferson County High School have been working all year in anticipation of this fourth annual JCHS AP Art exhibit at The Fire House Gallery, titled “Faces of Diversity.” This year we can expect the white walls of the gallery to be covered in dazzling paintings, drawings and photographs created by no less than 14 hard-working, creative minds.
Two of the gallery’s high school interns, Jasmine Kelly and Christopher Roberts, are exhibiting with the AP class for their second and third years in a row, respectively. They shared their excitement for this upcoming exhibit and their insight into what happens on a daily basis in Linda Merritt’s AP art class.
Kelly said that the AP class is very different from the other art JCHS classes.
“AP is a production class. The students have already learned many art concepts in previous drawing classes, so mostly they work on art based on a topic or concentration for their portfolio,” she explains.
Students have access to a variety of media in the classroom – chalk and oil pastels, watercolors, acrylics, drawing supplies and digital media, to name a few.
Kelly says that she has mostly been doing graphite drawings and chalk pastels this time around, but this talented FHG staff member also designed the colorful poster for the exhibit.
This year most of the students are sticking to drawings and paintings, but a couple of students are working on two-dimensional digital designs and photographs.
They worked together in class to come up with a title for the exhibit and a theme for their posters and postcards. Deciding on “Faces of Diversity” as their title, this group of 14 student artists posed for headshots on a visit to the gallery.
The photos were then digitally cropped and vibrantly tinted to make for a brilliant, eye-catching poster design.
Merritt tells her students to think about their semester portfolios as “visual research papers.”
Students are encouraged to create pieces within their theme, to incorporate many different drawing techniques from their textbooks, and explore all of the various types of artistic media available.
At the end of the year, to qualify for college credit, five quality pieces that are not usually submitted in the gallery exhibit are submitted to the state college board.
This process is similar to taking the difficult tests that students are familiar in their other AP classes.
Last year Roberts, a frequent Savannah visitor, was focused on drawing nautical images – ships, anchors, etc.
“This exhibit is going to be very different from the last three years,” he said. “Everyone’s styles have changed in the class.”
This is true for him, as well – most of his pieces for this year’s exhibit are based on music.
“If I hear a song, I try to see what visual I can make out of it based off the lyrics.”
The piece he is most excited about is called, “Not Afraid,” based off of a song by hip-hop legend Eminem.
In the painting, the musician is standing on top of a building with his arms outstretched in front of a colorfully detailed cityscape, ready to take on the world.
Remembering his last two years exhibiting at the Gallery, Roberts shares, “It’s exciting, having people come in, wanting to talk to you about the work and wanting to buy it. A lot of the teachers come down for the exhibit and support the students. Friends come out in support. It’s a good event for the community to get involved in. I think that everyone in the class is really looking forward to it.”
The Fire House Gallery Staff and AP Art class at Jefferson County High School invite the community to come and enjoy the hard work of these talented and thoughtful students.
Their art will be on display from March 30 to April 10, and the opening reception for “Faces of Diversity,” is Friday, April 1 from 7p.m. to 9 p.m.
Gas prices continue to surge at the pumps
By Faye Ellison
Fighting in oil producing countries has caused a recent surge in gas prices. But it seems the supply and demand is not the cause for the surge, it is more of a fear that has caused the recent gas hike, a fear that this same turmoil will spread to bigger oil producing countries.
In September 2010, oil was $80 a barrel, now it is more than $100 a barrel. Crude oil closed at $105.40 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange Friday, March 25, which was an increase of $4.33 from a week before.
Jeff Humphreys, director of Economic Forecasting at UGA Terry College of Business, relayed that between September and January prices were primarily driven by increases in demand, with the U.S. economy recovering from a recession.
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“It was increasing faster than supply,” Humphreys explained. “A $95 barrel of oil was driven by demand. But now it is really the turmoil in the Middle East. First it was Egypt and now Libya, so we do have a supply interruption.”
Libya was the 12th largest supplier in the world, amounting to only 1.5 percent of the crude oil being produced in the country. But Humphreys said the big question is, will it stop with Libya or will it spread?
“We can make up the loss in Libya,” he said. “There are 3.4 million barrels a day that we are not using.”
However, OPEC came forward and said there is no supply shortage since they are able to make up the losses from Libya. OPEC member, Saudi Arabia, said they have increased output by more than 9 million barrels a day.
“Look at the oil inventories at refineries,” Humphreys said. “We have the product. There are no lines at the pump, but we are paying a higher price for it because of risk premium.”
Right now consumers are paying a risk premium of about $15 per barrel, which translates into paying about 38 cents higher at the pump.
“That is the additional speculative premium,” Humphrey said. “It is an additional price you pay now to ensure supply tomorrow.”
Humphreys also said that U.S. citizens are paying a global price on a basic commodity.
“Almost everyone is paying the same price, whether in Saudi Arabia, the North Sea or Texas, or whether it is produced domestically,” he said.
Libyan crude is an extremely high quality of crude. The higher grade makes it easier to refine in European refineries, where most of it is shipped.
“In the U.S. we are able to refine heavier weight crude,” Humphreys said.
Humphreys mentioned that the higher cost in gas is able to be absorbed by consumers right now, but he continues to ask drivers to conserve.
“It definitely hurts and slows the growth of our economy,” he said. “But right now, the price increase is not large enough to stop or stall the economy. It is about a $10 a tank increase for everyone. A $20 growth in price would take half of a percent of our rate of growth. Where we would have grown at a 3 percent rate, it would be 2.5 percent, if prices are sustained for an entire year. I believe the prices will fall, but if prices stick, I expect half a percent less this year and half a percent less next year.”
The effects of higher gas prices do take a while to work through the economy, but Humphreys said it is not high enough right now to tip the United States and the rest of the world back into a recession.
“At $150 a barrel, the effects will be larger,” he said. “If crude oil reaches the tipping point at 150, it is very likely that we will have a back-to-back recession. Others think the tipping point is lower, maybe as low as $120 a barrel, but personally I don’t think it is that low. Some are at $130, but I am more optimistic.”
This supply interruption from Libya hit when recovery really was picking up some steam, according to Humphreys.
“Recovery is more robust than six months ago,” he explained. “We can take higher prices than last summer.”
Humphreys said the chances of a back-to-back recession are 1 in 4.
“It is higher than I would have said in January,” he said. “Then I would have said no greater than 1 in 5. The odds of a recession have increased and there is higher inflation because of it. Right now, I don’t think the Fed will fight inflation because they are worried about unemployment than inflation.”
The inventory levels of crude oil are higher than normal currently, but Humphreys said it does not make sense to have a strategic reserve yet.
“We have a pretty long time for us to handle higher prices, fortunately,” he said. “The savings rate was pretty high between 5 to 6 percent, people were saving money where as a few years ago it was only 1 percent. I think people can absorb the higher prices with their savings.”
Humphreys mentioned the higher gas prices in years before recession really hit, because of natural disasters or other problems. He said the price of a barrel of crude was at $150.
“Right now we have hustled to put our balance sheet back in order. But it is not good news in the long term. We do need to save more, given the aging of our population. In short term our savings will give us some wiggle room in terms of absorbing higher prices.”
But there is some good news. The U.S. economy is growing. The United States received a good report in February and another good one in March. But for the state, the recent gas hike is not good news.
“There is no up side to this especially for Georgia, where we are not producing oil,” Humphreys explained. “We have large commutes and many rural areas, which makes us very oil dependent. We will be hit harder than a country as a whole. We are a big consumer state with a very large transportation and logistics industry.”
Humphreys did say that profit for big oil may not be as good as one would expect. Dependent upon the company, companies with large productive capacity, and lots of wells in north Mexico, Russia and the North Sea, will not see the cost of production going up and the profit margins have widened.
“A lot of oil companies buy the oil from others,” he said. “So they may not really benefit much from this. As an industry, the profit is not distributed equally. The gas station on the corner will feel the pinch, with fewer people buying less discretionary stuff.
“One thing we do know is once the situation is settled down, they will try to get production back online. Even those countries that see this turmoil don’t want to stop producing. The one consolation is that nobody wants the oil to stop flowing and funds will be needed to rebuild. It is in everybody’s best interest in Egypt and Libya to get oil flowing again.”
While Americans may feel their money is being given to the oil rich countries, Humphreys said the money will return.
“Even though we are sending money to the Middle East, it will come back,” he said. “Countries will try to buy off populations by increasing social spending and a lot of funds will be spent on goods imported by the U.S. Many countries tend to hoard a lot of the windfall, but the political imperative will spend the windfalls as demand for our products rise. It is not as negative as has been the case historically.”