Plant/responders drill for disaster
By Bonnie K. Sargent
The sound of sirens wailing through the foggy morning air fights for attention with an automated voice over the PA system telling everyone to evacuate. People covered in soot and burns run from buildings where smoke pours from open doors and windows. What could have easily been a scene of terror was in fact a disaster drill held at Thermo King.
The drill started around 10 a.m. on Thursday, April 21, and ended around noon.
“I can’t see, I’m blind!” cried one volunteer good-humoredly as he ran out of a building filled with fake smoke. “I’ve lost my eye!”
Carl Wagster, the county EMS director, said there were nine volunteers who participated as victims in Thursday’s drill. Wagster said injuries simulated included burns, chemical inhalation and fractures.
“We even had one who had an impaled object in the abdomen,” said Wagster.
Wagster said overall he thought the drill went well.
“I saw some areas of concern I’m going to address,” he said. “But that’s the purpose of these drills.”
Wagster said the purpose of any drill is to show faults so that they can be fixed so that if a disaster does happen, they will be prepared.
Wagster said they were working to see what can be improved when it comes to treatment of patients, triaging, determining who goes first and what mode of transportation should be used to get the injured person to the hospital.
Lamar Baxley, the county EMA director, said they were evaluating response time, personnel manpower, communications, triage and response to incidents with hazardous material, including how they set up, whether upwind or downwind of the scene, and how they prepared.
“I think overall everything went really well,” Baxley said. “We found a few communication problems that we had, with the new changes on the radios, we found that not everyone has changed over yet.”
Two volunteer patients were transported to Jefferson Hospital by helicopter. The pilot, Keith Bell, said he has been a pilot for AirMed for three and a half years.
Bell said when there is an issue of hazardous materials they have to be sure and land downwind and be careful when loading somebody because the fumes could affect the pilot and medical flight crew. Bell said the landing zone has to be far enough away from the scene to not jeopardize the crew.
The pilot said AirMed tries to participate in drills as often as they can, a half a dozen times or more a year.
Bell said there is a difference between what the pilots have to do regarding how much time they can be on duty and the medical crew.
“It’s the best job in the world,” said Kent Wolfe, an RN who was a member of the medical flight crew.
Wagster said he had two evaluators on scene. He said they are scheduled to get together two weeks from the date of the drill and discuss their evaluations.
Agencies involved in the disaster drill include the Jefferson County EMS, AirMed, Louisville Fire Department, Hillcrest Fire Department, Gold Cross, Swainsboro fire Department, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, Louisville Police Department, Jefferson Hospital and Emmanuel County EMA.
“I appreciate everybody that came out and participated,” said Baxley. “I feel like the drill will benefit everybody and will really be a benefit to the community. I look forward to having another one.”
Fighting until it’s gone
By Faye Ellison
“It never crossed my mind that I would be the one to tote the survivor banner,” cancer survivor and Relay supporter Bonnie Manning chuckled. “I was too busy trying not to get Alzheimer’s.”
While Bonnie said Alzheimer’s disease runs in her family, cancer was something that did not show up until about five years ago. But since last summer, Bonnie has awakened each day with one objective, to fight cancer, more specifically, the breast cancer that has claimed so much of her time.
“There was no breast cancer in my family,” Bonnie said. “Just in the last five years or so, I had one brother who had colon rectal cancer and one with prostate cancer. Other than that, I haven’t seen it in my family.”
This will not be the first year Bonnie, a teacher at Thomas Jefferson Academy and retired teacher from Wrens Middle, participates in Relay For Life, she has been a supporter since its inception 17 years ago. Each year, she has shared in walking in the survivor lap that opens the two-day event with her husband, Buford, who won against melanoma.
“I’ve always walked in the survivor walk,” she said. “But I don’t know how it will be for me this year. I am sure I will be bawling the whole time.”
During the latter part of the 2010 summer, while waiting for school to begin, Bonnie found a lump that led to her diagnosis of breast cancer.
“I was taking a bath and it was just right there,” she remembered.
This was shocking for Bonnie at the time. Knowing how devastating cancer could be, she received mammograms once a year since shortly after she was married, and mammograms became available.
“I always assumed if the mammogram said I was good to go, I assumed I was good to go, but that didn’t work out last year,” she said. “Cancer had never showed up on any screening anywhere and nobody in my family has ever had breast cancer.”
After finding the lump on a Saturday in July, she called her gynecologist that Monday and had an appointment with her doctor on Tuesday.
“My doctor sent me straight to a surgeon,” Bonnie said.
Following a biopsy, Bonnie was waiting in agony going over everything in her mind of what the results would be.
“The nurse was supposed to call me and she never called me, so I called her,” Bonnie said. “She told me the results had not come back yet. The next morning I was here at the school when the phone rang. It was the doctor and not the nurse. As soon as I heard the doctor’s voice, I knew it was cancer.”
An MRI revealed that she had two lumps in her left breast, one that was deeper than the other, and two in her right breast. At that time decisions were made for what was best for her and her health. A mastectomy, the full removal of the breast, was in the works.
"I had no choice on the left one, it had to come off,” she said. “And the right one, if there is any chance that it might come back, I said, ‘Let’s just take them both and be through with it. I don’t want to have to go through this again.’”
At the time, doctors believed that after the biopsy of her lymph nodes was clear, the full removal of both breasts would assure a clean bill of health for Bonnie. But after surgery, the tissue was sent to labs, where it was found that she had cancer in one lymph node in the base of her breast.
“The doctors said that was unusual,” Bonnie said of the clear biopsy, followed by the discovery of cancer in the lymph node. “So I ended up with chemotherapy and radiation.”
Bonnie began chemotherapy in November 2010 every three weeks for six treatments, and will finish the radiation with her 28th treatment on Thursday, April 28.
“I expected to lose my hair, so I bought a wig and wore it about twice and decided it was too much and too hot,” she laughed. “I wore it my first day back to school and told the children this wig’s got to go and you will have to see me in a hat every day.”
With the loss of her hair, her husband shaved her head. When it first began to grow back, she had it shaved again, but said it looks like “chicken fuzz,” now.
“It was hardest to lose eyelashes, that was way more devastating,” Bonnie said. “The chemo did not make me sick, but I lost my hair. I had some indigestion, and was extremely tired, but as far as being physically ill, I was not.”
Coming to terms with cancer
“I just began crying,” Bonnie said of hearing the doctor’s words, “You have cancer.”
“I thought I was going to die,” Bonnie said choking back tears. “You start thinking about your grandchildren and your children and all the things you are going to miss.”
The day she found out she had cancer was Aug. 16.
“I stayed home that next day and of course I cried all day and stayed in bed.”
She had her surgery on Sept. 22, but somewhere in the midst of things, she became more comfortable with her decision. The fact that she had to have at least one breast removed, but opted for both did not bother her. The 63-year-old Wrens resident, and “proud of it,” made the decision with her husband.
“I am older, now if I had been 25, I might have thought more about it,” she said. “Maybe I would have felt differently, but at my age, I have known people to have a lumpectomy and have the cancer come back. So my husband and I thought about it and it was not a hard decision to make.”
One day, Bonnie had reached a point to where she turned it over to God.
“I had to say if it is meant to be, it is meant to be,” she said. “The worst part was when the doctor told me that I had cancer. I had to face that realization and admit to myself that this could be the end of me. But if that is what was meant to be, then that is OK. I got to the point that I was willing to die, you know if that was meant to be.”
Bonnie said it also helped to have her work with the students at Thomas Jefferson.
“When you are with the children, you don’t have time to think about yourself.”
She continued to work at the school until the day before her surgery, but returned after the Christmas break where she worked four days a week until January and then began to work everyday, taking radiation after school.
“I am tired, but other than that I have been fine,” she said. “The children have really kept my mind off of this.”
One student even called to reassure Bonnie that what she was losing was not as valuable as them losing her.
“When I lost my hair, one of my students called and said, ‘Miss Bonnie, it’s just hair. It will grow back.’”
Her husband was another source of support.
“He has been wonderful,” she laughed. “At first it was harder for him than it was for me. I had accepted the fact that it was just my turn.”
Her husband, Buford, took off from work to stay home with Bonnie the entire time she was battling this disease.
“It was rough on him in the beginning also. People have offered to take me to chemo or radiation, but he doesn’t let anybody else look after me. My pastor calls him my bodyguard. He really treated me like I was a diamond in the rough.”
Her support system
Still through all of this, she felt lucky. She had her school family on her side already.
“I was lucky,” she said. “Roxanne Wimberly had been through all of this about seven years ago.”
Roxanne Wimberly is the wife of TJA Headmaster Chuck Wimberly.
“Chuck knew what I was going through,” she cried. “He has guided me through all of this and prepared me. He said you are going to lose your fingernails, your hair and all of this stuff that comes along with the cancer. He was the one I depended on to keep me grounded and prepare me for what was coming.
“The doctors don’t tell you a whole lot. They begin treatment and explain that part, and they give you a lot of reading material about the disease, but Chuck was able to tell me you need to go home, you don’t need to be here right now.”
When Bonnie finally came back to school after her surgery, and many chemo and radiation treatments, Chuck told her she could come back all day, but wanted whatever was in her best interest.
“I couldn’t have made it without him,” she said.
From being added to prayer lists to finger-lickin’ food being delivered, Bonnie believes that she was truly blessed by the people in her community.
“Everybody in this area has been so wonderful, financially and with moral support. I have been on every prayer list. I had an old pastor who saw my husband and asked how I was doing because he had seen my name on a prayer list in south Georgia. I don’t think I even know anyone in south Georgia.”
Her church provided her with food, as well as Wrens Middle, where she retired from three years ago. Her husband would even go to Peggy’s Restaurant in Wrens, where he was not allowed to pay for lunch.
“You don’t even know how to respond because it is so wonderful in how people have treated me,” she said warmly. “You always know people are kind, but until you are on the receiving end, you don’t realize how kind and caring they really are. You feel so much love in this community, it is just unreal.”
Her children did not take the news of their mother’s cancer well either. She has three children, Trey Martin, Jiles Manning and Justin Manning, as well as her grandbabies, Sumner, 6, and Lainey, 3.
“They did not take the news very well; it was hard on them. When they found out about it, they were not here; one was in Raleigh, N.C., one in Atlanta, and one in Athens. As soon as I finished surgery, they came home and have continually called to see if I was OK.”
They tried to explain to her grandchildren what was wrong with Bidee, the grandchildren’s name for their grandmother.
"When I first saw them, the little one said, ‘Bidee, you have no hair,’” she laughed choking back tears. “The older one I think understood more and she was a little standoffish at first. But all the little one knew was that I had no hair and to make sure I kept on my cap.”
“You know they have always said even though you have a mammogram, do a self exam,” Bonnie said.
At the time she found her lump, she was on hormone replacement therapy. Bonnie said doctors believe there may be a relation to hormone therapy and cancer.
“Every time I went to see my doctor, I would ask her do I need to take this therapy, but she would always tell me the benefits outweigh the risks.”
As soon as Bonnie’s cancer was discovered, she was taken off of the hormones immediately. She later learned there are types of cancer that will show up on mammograms and types that will not.
“If I had to tell anybody, most things show up on mammograms,” she said. “I even had met a lady who had lupus show on her mammogram. But you can’t depend totally on a mammogram; there are things that will not show. You have to do a self-exam.”
Bonnie will go back to the oncologist in May, where another litany of tests and scans will be taken to hopefully make sure everything is OK for her now.
“I just want to let everyone know how much I appreciate everything anyone has done for me and how much love I have felt through all of this,” Bonnie said. “The best thing that could have come out of this is the love that I have felt from this community.”
Relay to be held this weekend
By Bonnie Sargent
Friday, April 29, marks the 17th annual Jefferson County Relay For Life. In Jefferson County and throughout the country, it seems everyone is in some way affected by cancer. The fight against cancer is something in which all citizens can unite, whether they are a survivor coping with this disease or a friend or family member of someone who has or has had cancer.
This year’s Relay For Life theme is, “There is No Holiday for Cancer.” The theme was chosen by the Jefferson County Relay Committee.
Relay for Life Committee Chair Vicky McDonald said the goal of the fundraiser at this year’s Relay is $75,000. Last year the Relay brought in more than $62,000, slightly less than their goal of $85,000. McDonald said the goal was lowered this year because of the stagnant economy. According to the Relay for Life website, more than $30,000 has been raised so far.
McDonald said 17 teams have registered online for the Relay’s two-day event so far, more than last year. In 2010, 12 teams registered, with a goal of 15. The goal was the same for this year as well.
Teams registered online are the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Disciples for Life, Dreamcatchers, First State Bank, Heritage Healthcare, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office/Southern Health Partners, Jefferson Hospital, KaMin ChalkWalkers, Louisville Middle School, Lynne’s Family and Friends Fight Like a Girl, Run 4 UR Life, School House Rockers, The Believers-Canaan Galilee Baptist Church, Wadley Walkers, WMS Colts Kickin’ For A Cure, Woodmen of the World and Wrens United Methodist Church Youth.
New events for this year include a car show and bake sale that will be held Saturday, April 30. Hoping for good weather, she said they will try to have events throughout the night, followed by the car show in the hope of drawing more people back out on Saturday, as well as more entertainment.
Survivor Committee Chair Cathy Hadden said they are holding the “Cars for a Cure” car show in an effort to keep the Relay going for a full 24 hours. She said according to a brochure from the American Cancer Society, the reason the Relay starts at dusk and ends at the next day’s?morning??is because “the light and darkness of the day and night parallel the physical effects, emotions and mental state of a cancer patient while undergoing treatment - cancer does not stop for nighttime.”
There will also be a Home Depot workshop for children on Saturday held by the Run 4 UR Life team. The cost is $3 per child and each child will get to make something to take home with them.
“We are expecting a great Relay,” McDonald said. “We have all worked really hard.”
McDonald said the new security policy has caused a lot of questions. Anyone who is not affiliated with a team will have to pay an entrance fee. The exception will be for children ages 5 and younger who are attending with their family. For anyone 21 and older, the cost to attend will be $1. Individuals who are aged between 5 and 20 will be charged $10 to attend the event and will be given a red wristband that will allow them to attend only from 4 p.m. until 10 p.m. Friday. There will be no entrance fee on Saturday.
“We are trying to make it a safer, family-oriented environment for everyone,” said McDonald.
Hadden said there will be a Survivor’s Reception at 5 p.m. on Friday which all survivors are invited to attend, and will serve them refreshments before the Survivor’s Lap.
“The Survivor’s Lap is the kickoff for the Relay because this is what Relaying is all about,” she said. “It is a time for survivors to celebrate another year as a cancer survivor and it is also a time to remember those who lost their battle with cancer. At the Relay, we not only honor the lives of survivors, but also the lives of loved ones who lost their battle with cancer. We find comfort and healing from others and we remember and reflect on the lives of those we have lost.”
Friday’s events include a Walk By Faith at 5:30 p.m., a welcome at 6 p.m., an invocation at 6:05 p.m., followed by the national anthem, the survivor walk, walk by faith, a baby stroller parade, the announcing of the relay princess, a classic country show with Bennie and Friends, the Luminaria Ceremony, a tribute to Patsy Cline, karaoke and a scavenger hunt.
Saturday’s events will include the car show, a karate demonstration by the Wrens Family Y, a performance by Miss Wrens Middle School Tori Wheeler and karaoke.
Jefferson County Relay Public Relations Coordinator Dianne Rhodes said there will be teams serving different foods throughout the event. Upon entering, individuals will be given a map to better assist in finding the team locations. On the back will be a list of foods being served by each team.
“Please come hungry and ready for some good food being served at Relay,” she said.
Food being served includes hotdogs, hamburgers, BBQ chicken, fried fish and hushpuppies, beef and pork sausage dogs, BBQ pork sandwiches, ribeye steak sandwiches, fries, homemade ice cream, Sno-Cones, a potato bar, various desserts, chips, drinks and more. Breakfast will also be served Saturday morning by at least two teams, Rhodes said.
This year’s Relay For Life sponsors include presenting sponsors WRDW-TV News 12, S. Lichtenberg & Co., Inc., and Team Excavating Company. Benefactor sponsors are M.B. Jones Oil Co, Inc., and Battle Lumber. Contributor sponsors are Thermo King and Hiram Bobo III, CPA, PC. Supporter sponsors include Rocky Comfort Forest Products, F&W Transportation, W.T. Lamb Investments, Inc., The Orchards, First State Bank, Jefferson Energy, C.J.’s Animals and Huddle House of Wrens.
“The days are counting down and excitement is building every day,” said McDonald. “We will be so glad when 5 p.m. gets here Friday and all the survivors will be here. It will be very entertaining for everyone. Our survivors are our heroes.”
Glascock citizens want roads paved, too
By Faye Ellison
Griswell said that Glascock County has not paved a dirt road since the 1980s, for the reasoning that the cost of it is so far out of their reach the county cannot even get within grasp of doing a project like that financially.
“At the very least to pave a road, under ideal conditions, it will cost at least $500,000-$600,000 for half a mile,” he said. “And you will have to get some help from the state, and you will have to do it the way they say it should be done.
“By the time you go by their guidelines, it is almost impossible to make it happen and getting the rights-of-way from landowners who will have to give up their property. There are a lot of things to be considered when looking at this here. If you do find some funds available, then it is making a hard decision of what roads should be paved.”
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There is a state formula based on traffic, the number of residences, whether the road is connecting two points together, buses traveling on the road and more.
“I think it is a fair way to score the roads,” Griswell said.
Most of the resurfacing and other roadwork comes from state funding as well.
“People believe you get all of your funds from the Department of Transportation, but anytime it’s really the people that live in the county whose dollars are being spent,” Griswell explained. “It is just divided up between the 159 counties. When you’re small, you get a small piece of pie.”
Griswell said the county recently had Kitchens Road, a previously paved road, resurfaced, but before that project began, deep patching was done.
“Thiele worked with us since they had been using the road and they were very cooperative and were excellent in doing business with us,” he said. “I believe we got all problems resolved and resurfaced.”
Before Kitchens Road was Hattaway Road.
“We get so much each year for resurfacing,” Griswell said.
But the question lingers, which road deserves the funds more.
“All counties are facing these hard decisions, just like everybody else,” Griswell said. “There are not any lone rangers out there; we are all in the same boat.”
Glascock County has an ordinance in place to prevent logging companies and others from leaving a mess of dirt roads while working in the county.
“We’ve had one in place, and ours is probably the most lenient,” Griswell said, explaining they compared Glascock’s to Warren, McDuffie and Washington counties’ ordinances. “The bottom line of it is that it is not fair to the taxpayer to repair the road, where the timber people are the ones making a profit off of it. If you come in, it has to be in as good a shape as you left it.”
Glascock County has had some situations, especially during a rainy spell, where the roads had to be fixed.
“We sent a bill to the logger and they paid,” Griswell said. “If they plan to get another permit to log in Glascock County, they do pay it.”
Loggers now have to deliver a bond or letter of credit, in case of damage to a road, so the county will have a way to get the funds to repair it.
“They have the opportunity to fix the road themselves, but it is best for us to fix the road and send them a bill,” Griswell explained.
Repairs for the roads have cost from $1,200 to $3,500.
“The repairs costs are nothing huge,” Griswell said. “The largest repair the private sector paid for was $9,800, in which they didn’t balk whatsoever. They worked with us and we worked with them, we are trying our best to be as lenient as possible. The bottom line is somebody has to pay to get the road repaired.”
Griswell said that the county’s road department has made an extra effort to put gravel on roads and improve them the best they can so it is safe for buses or citizens.
“The way the taxpayers are already strapped, and somebody has to pay for the road to be fixed,” he said. “Our road super is working with all the people in the logging businesses, so that everyone is treated fair. We have something in place now that we can work with to protect the taxpayer and be fair to the logger.
“I know the timber people have to make a living the same way as everybody else. This is more of what our economy is all about. At one time you could absorb stuff, but now we have to look at every aspect. Things will get tighter before it gets better, but paving roads in a county of our size is almost out of reach.”