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September 6, 2012 Issue

Tragedy to triumph
JC BOE votes to raise millage
Contractors begin work on Hwy 24

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Tragedy to triumph


A year ago, Kristen and Greg Burns were looking forward to the birth of their first child. A week after his birth in February, they knew there was a problem.

Kristen describes their son as “a beautiful little boy.” His name was Tyler Anthony Burns. He was born on a Thursday, Feb. 16. On a Friday, May 18, he died.

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“Like so many other parents, we had our hopes and dreams for him as he would grow; but, unfortunately, life had other plans,” Kristen said.

Only a week old, Tyler was admitted to the Children’s Medical Center in Augusta because he wasn’t feeding properly and was losing too much weight.

“At that time, he was diagnosed with failure to thrive and Sandifer’s Syndrome, a condition related to severe acid reflux which most children grow out of within a year,” Kristen said.

“Because he still had difficulty feeding, he was given food through an NG tube, but he was finally starting to gain healthy weight,” she said.

After 24 long days, Tyler was released from the hospital and able to go home.

Three weeks later, while at home and just days after turning 2 months old, Tyler stopped breathing during his sleep.

“We took him, by ambulance, back to CMC,” his mother said.

He still had trouble breathing; so, he was placed in the hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit. He was assisted by a breathing tube.

Neurologists gave Tyler an EEG. That was when his parents learned their baby boy had a very rare and aggressive form of epilepsy called Ohtahara Syndrome.

“This disorder usually affects infants within the first 3 months and anti-seizure medicines are not very effective,” Kristen said.

"In many cases, as with Tyler, this condition progresses very quickly and little can be done to slow its effects. Tyler was the second patient diagnosed with Ohtahara Syndrome at CMC,” she said.

“After 28 trying and exhausting days, our brave little boy passed away on Friday, May 18. He had just turned 3 months old,” Kristen said.

Because of this tragedy, Kristen and Greg wanted to find a way to help others with seizures and especially wanted to make people aware of lesser known conditions like Ohtahara Syndrome, the disorder that took the life of their only child.

“Thanks to the Epilepsy Foundation of Georgia, we found a way to do just that – the Magnolia Run and Walk for Epilepsy. As a result, our team, Tyler’s Troopers, was formed,” Kristen said.

The Magnolia Run is the EFGA’s longest running fundraiser. This year marked the 29th holding of the event. The event features a 5K run and 1-mile walk around Perimeter Mall in Atlanta and is open to anyone who wants to participate.

Kristen said more than 1,500 people joined in the event and helped raise a record $94,000 for the EFGA.

On Saturday, Aug. 25, more than 70 of Tyler’s family and friends walked in his honor.

“Tyler’s Troopers was named the top team raising $8,450 for the EFGA, the most ever raised by a single team,” Kristen said.

“To make the day even more special, the EFGA announced that it will create a camp scholarship in memory of Tyler. What an amazing way to honor our sweet boy,” she said.

Greg said people from Jefferson County, Atlanta and even a family from Charlotte, N.C., participated in the run and walk.

Greg said the EFGA is naming the scholarship in Tyler’s honor because the team raised so much money.

“They told us no team has raised that much ever,” he said. “It’s a tremendous honor.”

Greg said EFGA offers camps throughout the year.

“They’re using the money to help pay for seizure medication,” Greg said.

“When this happened to our little baby boy, we didn’t know much at the time,” he said. “We learned things that we didn’t realize. It’s been really amazing to see how many babies get diagnosed.”

Greg and Kristen were childhood sweethearts, he said, and played in the band together. He was a trumpet player; she played the clarinet.

They’ve been married six years.

Greg is a band director at Louisville Middle School. Kristen is a teller at Queensborough National Bank & Trust.

After the terrible loss of their son, their love for each other, the memory of their child and the hope they can bring to other families is a commitment and part of their plan for the future.

“We want to thank everyone in Jefferson County and surrounding areas for all of the love, support and prayers that you have given to Tyler and our family,” Kristen said. “The Magnolia Run is an amazing event, and we are already getting ready to participate next year.”




JC BOE votes to raise millage

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

The Jefferson County Board of Education set a mill rate of 14.147 for the 2012 digest, an increase of 0.349 mills over the 2011 rate.

Although citizens were present during the meetings where the board members discussed this issue, no public comments were made, board comptroller Renee Weeks said.


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“Five people signed in at the July meeting when the tentative mill was set,” she stated in an email, adding 23 signed in at the August meeting when the rate was finalized.

Weeks said Georgia law requires a rollback millage rate has to be determined that will produce the same total revenue on the current year’s new digest that last year’s millage rate would have produced had no reassessments occurred, referring to information on the Department of Revenue’s website.

“The rollback rate was designed to produce the same amount of tax revenue for a government agency if all new growth is factored out,” she said.

Weeks pointed out that Jefferson County’s digest has had deflation for the last couple of years. That resulted in a rollback rate higher than last year’s set mill rate, she stated.

“In order to maintain the same level of local tax revenue to help educate the students of Jefferson County, the board levied at the calculated rollback rate,” Weeks said.

“State revenues for the board of education’s FY13 budget once again will be reduced by austerity cuts. This year’s Quality Basic Education allotment for Jefferson County schools is being reduced by $2,243,798. This $2.2 million cut is 13.68 percent of the state formula revenue Jefferson County earns for direct instruction based on our student enrollment and the amount of training and experience that our teaching staff has. Even though the board is using a portion of its cash reserves set aside for rainy days to make up for these state austerity cuts, the board chose not to raise taxes above the revenue-neutral rollback rate,” she said.

The $2.2 million austerity cut is enough money to pay the salaries and benefits of about 32 teachers, she said.

“Georgia’s 1999 Taxpayers Bill of Rights created the rollback calculation. In inflationary times, a rollback rate lower than the previous year’s set mill rate is common and causes a board to either decrease its current mill rate or advertise that it is raising taxes. Deflationary times like we are currently experiencing can create a rollback rate higher than the previous year’s rates,” Weeks stated.




Contractors begin work on Hwy 24

By Bonnie K. Sargent
Staff Writer

Contractors for the Georgia Department of Transportation began work on the U.S. 221/State Route 24 passing lanes project in Jefferson County. This project consists of 3.63 miles of widening and reconstruction of passing lanes at three locations on the highway.

State Route 24 will be widened at three different sites. The first site is located at mile post 13.85 to 12.59 and will have an eastbound passing lane. It begins 1,241 feet west of Jordan Road and extends east for approximately 1.26 miles.

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The second site will be mile post 11.30 to 10.03 and will have a westbound passing lane. It begins 800 feet east of US 221/SR 171 and continues approximately 1.27 miles to a point 1,365 feet east of Bostic Mill Road.

The third site will be mile post 4.25 to 3.16 and will have an eastbound passing lane. It is located 2287 feet west of Blackjack Road and continues east approximates 1.09 miles.

SR 24 will be widened and reconstructed for the passing lanes as noted. Site 1 consists of about 50 percent widening and resurfacing with the balance being construction of a roadway on new alignment.

Throughout sites two and three the existing lanes will be retained, widened and resurfaced. This work will include the grading of the roadway and ditches, construction of two concrete box culverts, placement of drainage structures, as well as base and paving.

“Although the retained portions of SR 24 will be resurfaced within the project limits, this project consists of adding additional passing lanes in the locations and directions noted above to facilitate better traffic flow,” said GDOT Cissy McNure, District 2 Communications Officer.

No passing lanes have been constructed on SR 24 in Jefferson County before.

C and H Paving, Inc. of Thomson was awarded this $3.7 million federally funded project in June of this year. C and H Paving began clearing at Site 1 on Aug. 28. The contract completion date is Nov. 30, 2013.

There will be no detours utilized during the construction of this project. Lane closures of short duration will be installed as needed to facilitate the construction throughout the project.

Motorists are asked to use caution, reduce their speed and be alert to changing traffic conditions in work zones.







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