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February 16, 2012 Issue

PyraMax gives official notice
Park dedication to be held Feb. 26
JEMC warns of phone scam
Volunteers sought for medical reserves

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PyraMax gives official notice

By Parish Howard
Editor/Publisher

It’s official, PyraMax Ceramics, LLC will be locating its first kaolin ceramic proppant-producing factory near Wrens.

Jefferson County Developer Tom Jordan, executive director of the Development Authority of Jefferson County and Arty Thrift, Wrens City Administrator, received an email last week from a PyraMax executive stating that his company has officially chosen the local site.

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While state officials reviewed the company’s proposed air quality permit, PyraMax continued to consider a site in South Carolina as an alternative.

“Construction will commence immediately,” Richard Derbawka, PyraMax’s chief financial officer told Jordan in the email. “Please consider this our final notice to proceed on this site facility as we are in receipt of the Final Air Permit as well as a natural gas contract with the City of Wrens. We sincerely appreciate all of the efforts put forth by all those involved to make this happen and we are looking forward to a long and prosperous relationship for all parties.”

With this notification, Jordan said the Development Authority will begin spending the nearly $2 million in grant funds it has obtained to work on infrastructure at its Kings Mill Industrial Park, about three miles south of Wrens, where PyraMax will locat its plant.

The Development Authority has received a $500,000 OneGeorgia grant, another $500,000 from the Employment Incentive Program, and nearly $1 million from the Economic Development Administration to help pay for water and sewer lines at the site and tie them into the city’s systems, roadwork, drainage and signage at the industrial park. Not only will these improvements be available for the PyraMax facility which will be built over the next several months, but Jordan said it should also make the park that much more marketable to other industries.

“We really feel like the Development Authorities’ board has stepped up to the plate and hit a homerun,” Jordan said. “This official announcement is what we’ve been waiting for. By the end of the month, we’re really going to start spending this grant money and getting things done.”

A well and well house are already in place at the site, but until it is tied into the city’s system for treatment, it cannot be used as potable water. PyraMax will drill its own wells for industrial use, but is expected to use the city’s services for its domestic needs.

The authority is also planning to loan the city of Wrens between $1.8 million and $2 million to connect its gas lines from the old Johnny Cat plant to the new facility.

Kenny Green, with G. Ben Turnipseed Engineers, said the city will run an 8-inch high pressure gas line to the facility, and that this line will pass through several communities that have not had access to natural gas.

The 8-inch line should accomodate a possible PyraMax plant expansion as well as other potential industries’ needs who could locate at the industrial park in the future, Green said.

“All of the work we are doing has been coordinated with PyraMax’s needs in one big spreadsheet,” Jordan said. “We’re all going to be working out there at the same time and we need to know when they have need of these services. All of that is being considered.

“This is a $120 million project that will bring 60 direct jobs and another 20 to 25 indirect jobs to Jefferson County. The formulas we’ve seen show that every manufacturing job in a community supports three to four service sector jobs. You can see how 85 industrial jobs is a big deal.”

PyraMax has already begun hiring local contractors to clear and grade the site and put up fencing, Jordan said.

In previous interviews Don Anschutz, president of PyraMax, has said that he expects the construction will bring with it 300-plus construction jobs and related expenses over the next 18 months.

While the construction of the plant itself is being coordinated by Alberici Enterprises, Anschutz said it is expected to use local subcontractors.




Park dedication to be held Feb. 26

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

The city of Bartow envisions its new park as a place that will remind citizens of dedicated public servant, Fred Evans Jr.

On Sunday, Feb. 26, at 3 p.m. the city will hold dedicate the recently opened park at 1291 Dan Martin Rd. Mayor Hubert Jordan said that the park opened near the end of 2011.

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The park was built with money from the special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) funds. Jordan said the SPLOST passed in 2006, with the city of Bartow deciding to put all SPLOST funds into recreation.

“It was locked down for that,” Jordan said. “We actually collected about $192,000, and we now have $30,000 left from expenses.”

The park will be named Fred Evans Jr. Memorial Park, and includes activities for youth, adults and senior citizens. Jordan said there are two pavilions in the park, one large and one small, as well as a play unit for children ages 5 to 12, and one for children ages 2 to 5. There are swings, a 1/6 mile walking track, bathrooms, and exercise units for seniors and adults.

“Three of the units are specifically for seniors and built by Play World,” Jordan said. “They help seniors stay in shape and help them with balance. I saw this on the street in Beijing, and I found these that were made in Turkey. People have taken to them pretty good.”

Jordan said the units for adults and seniors have five exercises each.

In building the park, the Georgia Department of Transportation aided in the cost to pave the parking lot, and county personnel paved the parking lot, prepared the land and also constructed the walking track. Breaking Free Ministry furnished plants and the labor to have them placed.

Jordan said the Evans family will be recognized during the dedication, as well as those that prepared the park, including employees, the council and the park’s designers.

“Fred was on the town council for 41 years,” Jordan remarked. “He had a community spirit about him and he ran the largest business in town. He was one who worked hard and played hard. Now we are giving him a place for other people to play.”

Jordan extended thanks to everyone who helped in the process of establishing the park and also welcomed the community to come to the dedication.



JEMC warns of phone scam

By Faye Ellison
Staff writer

Jefferson Energy Cooperative is asking its customers to be cautious of scammers who say they are a representative of the company and are seeking personal financial information over the phone, through email or at the customer’s home.

“We’ve had several customers who have called us, indicating that they have been contacted by phone saying they owe on their electric bill and if it is not paid immediately over the phone, they will be disconnected,” Jefferson Energy’s Director of Public Relations Steve Chalker said in an interview Tuesday. “They are asking for their credit card account or personal banking information.”

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Chalker made it clear, Jefferson Energy does not solicit payments over the phone or demand any credit card or banking type information.

“How a customer pays is up to them,” he said. “Apparently these people are fishing for account and credit card information. We just wanted to make sure our customers knew that is not the way we do business.”

Chalker explained that if an electrical account is past due for payment, customers are notified through a message left hanging on the door or an automated phone message, which states when the bill is due, the office hours as a courtesy to remind customers, and also if they are due to be disconnected, the date and time that will occur.

“There have been several different types of fraudulent activity in the past,” he said. “We have gotten a few calls here and there over the past few weeks about one bill in particular. They are always asking for small amounts of money from $40 to $80.”

Chalker said in the past he has heard of a couple of customers actually giving the caller the information they desired. He said those customers were advised to contact their bank or credit card company.

“If a customer has an issue or concern, we want them to call us,” he said. “Like I said, even if someone gets behind on their bill, we do not call and solicit that payment. When a customer pays, we give them the option of cash, credit, debit, check or money order.”

Chalker said that he had heard of a case in south Richmond County, where someone visited a business soliciting money.

“We have in the past had folks going out and saying they worked for us,” he said. “All of our field employees wear uniforms, drive clearly marked Jefferson Energy vehicles and have a valid Jefferson Energy ID. Unfortunately we have to have the valid IDs now because of fraudulent activity. We are easily identifiable and we never go door-to-door to collect money.”

Chalker said he knows of the scam reports only for Jefferson Energy customers and has not heard of scammers contacting customers from other energy companies.

“I do know the people that called us about the scam are actually our customers. I don’t know if the scammers are lucky, or if they know how to tell who our customers are.”

While Chalker has researched how the scammers can trick customers, he found that scammers can easily trick a caller ID unit.

“It is going to be hard to identify the person calling over the phone or if they are contacting one of our customers through computers,” Chalker said, adding, “We did get one of our customers who got a number that called them and the name. We called it and didn’t get anything obviously.”

Chalker also said in the past a company said they were working with Jefferson Energy in making homes more energy efficient.

“It was a number out of South Carolina, so I called it. When I began to ask questions, they hung up on me.”

For the sake of the customers and the company, it is important to Chalker for customers to know how Jefferson Energy conducts business.

“They can call us anytime and inquire about their account,” he said. “That is also why we always want to be identifiable through uniform, vehicle and ID. We probably won’t be able to stop this sort of activity, and it is likely to get worse as time goes on, but we have all of our account information secure and we take every measure we can to ensure that customers’ information is safe. Even when customers call in, we require a password. We won’t give out any account information without it.”

At this point, Chalker said only a handful of customers have been contacted, but he wants customers to know, if the scammers are caught, Jefferson Energy intends to prosecute.

“We would love to find out who this is,” he said. “But the fact of the matter is, we probably won’t.”

Chalker asks customers that if fraudulent activity is suspected, please be mindful to write down the incoming phone number via the caller ID. If it is in-person, try and get the license number and description of the vehicle as it leaves.

Please contact Jefferson Energy Cooperative at 1-877-JEFFERSON (1-877-533-3377) for questions or to report possible fraudulent activity concerning accounts.




Volunteers sought for medical reserves

By Carol McLeod
Staff writer

Have you wondered what we would do if there was an outbreak of avian flu or if Jefferson County were under another type of health threat such as anthrax?

The health department has a program, Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), to help in times of emergencies.

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“We are definitely in need of volunteers if we had some type of emergency,” said Janet Pilcher, the nurse manager of the Jefferson County Health Department.

“If we had to open up a POD or point of distribution to provide vaccines to the community,” she said. “We only have nine staff members and you’re talking about 26,000 people in the county.”

The staff would need help giving out medicines to that many people, she said.

Preston Harpe is the MRC coordinator and training coordinator for the East Central Health District. Jefferson County is one of the 13 counties in that district.

Harpe is working with Pilcher and others to develop a pool of at least 200 volunteers who could be trained and available to help in emergencies.

Harpe said he wants to get the word out that the department needs volunteers.

“And we’ll train them,” he said.

“They would be credentialed,” said Larry Walker, public relations information coordinator for the East Central Health District.

Training includes such things as CPR, Harpe said. There is no cost to the volunteer for the training.

“We have about 940 Medical Reserve Corps throughout the country,” he said. “We ask for volunteers so we can have a volunteer base.”

Harpe said the MRC is about 60 percent non-medical volunteers and 40 percent medical volunteers.

“My boss wants to do like a public preparedness day. Of course, we will be funding that,” he said.

“We’ll run background checks,” he said, adding those with licenses, such as doctors, nurses and EMTs, will also have their credentials verified.

There is no age requirement or limitations, Harpe said. Those under a certain age will have to have a parent’s permission.

Harpe said there also is no minimum number of people required for the training; although, in some classes there may be a maximum number of participants allowed.

The training will be offered locally, he said.

Anyone interested in volunteering can go online to www.ecphd.com to complete an application. Applications are also available in some city halls and at the Jefferson County Health Department located at 2501 U.S. 1 N in Louisville.

The health department is open Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., on Wednesdays from 8 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. and on Fridays from 8 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.

Applications may be submitted by mail or returned to the health department, Pilcher said.







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