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July 25, 2013 Issue

County gives hospital funds
Two shot, one killed
Happy 103rd
Glascock county working on budget

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County gives hospital funds

By Parish Howard and Carol McLeod
Special Report

An intergovernmental agreement ironed out over the last couple of weeks could save Jefferson Hospital.

Last week Jefferson County commissioners committed to providing an extra $200,000 each year for the next five years to help offset indigent care costs at the local non-profit hospital after hospital authority member Bill Easterlin told them that the money was vital to keeping the doors open


“That $200,000 a year is critical for us,” Easterlin said.

Without it, he did not believe the hospital would be able to meet payroll at the end of July.

“I think we’re all in agreement that the hospital is vital to our community,” Commission Chairman Mitchell McGraw said. “I think they’ve come up with a different game plan.”

This week the hospital authority used the intergovernmental agreement guaranteeing those funds to help secure a half million dollar line of credit from First State Bank. The hospital authority’s attorney confirmed Tuesday afternoon that he had just received word that the loan contract had been approved and the final documents should be available next week.

In its regular meeting Monday, the hospital authority discussed the loan, the agreement with the county and its current financial situation.

The credit is expected to be used to pay the hospital’s critical vendors over the next three to four months. In November, the hospital expects to receive more than a million dollars in Meaningful Use Electronic Records reimbursement funding from the federal government.

“It’s a $500,000 line of credit that the hospital authority will probably have to start drawing from in the next 30 days,” Harvey said. “I believe you’d be hard pressed to find a community bank that could approve this kind of loan as quickly and efficiently as First State did.”

Harvey said the loan has a 6 percent interest rate, but the loan documents will require that full amount be repaid by the end of the year using the expected November reimbursement.

“This is not a continuing arrangement for years to come,” Easterlin told hospital authority members.

They referred to the line of credit as a bridge loan.

Earlier this year the authority hired Pioneer Health Services to take over managment of the hospital. One of their first actions was a restructuring that resulted in a reduced work force with savings of up to $600,000 expected to be seen over the next year.

The county’s $16,667 monthly payments are expected to begin this month. The commissioners voted to take $56,000 from the county’s general fund and $144,000 from economic development to come up with the $200,000 this year.

They plan to adjust that ratio in the budget year to year. The difference this will make to the county’s development authority is unclear.

Easterlin, who is also the chairman of the Development Authority of Jefferson County, said Monday the authority is still in the process of determining how it will adjust to the change in income.

“It is (significant),” County Developer Tom Jordan said of the funding cut adding that his department will still receive its SPLOST dollars. “Think about the hospital as a key element, in reality it is a component of economic development. We’re OK. We’ve had an increase in our tax base. We’ve seen a turnaround. I don’t see this as a negative to the development authority. It’s good right now that we can help them.”

Two shot, one killed

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

One man is dead and another wounded after a shooting Friday, July 19, near Wrens.

About 9 p.m. Friday, the Jefferson County 911 Center received a call about the shooting, which occurred on Fred McDonald Road.


“Upon arrival, Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputies discovered the lifeless body of 36-year-old Juan Antonio Rodriguez Garcia with a gunshot wound to his head,” Lt. Robert Chalker stated in a press release.

Chalker is an investigator with the JCSO.

A second man, Gustavo Hernandez Diaz, 25, of Wrens was also at the scene. He had received multiple gunshot wounds and was airlifted to Georgia Regents Medical Center (GRMC), Chalker said.

“Approximately an hour later, deputies arrested 60-year-old Olegario Rodriguez at a nearby residence on Fred McDonald Road for questioning,” Chalker said.

“On Sunday evening, July 21, Olegario Rodriguez was charged with one count of murder, one count of aggravated assault and two counts of possessing a firearm during the commission of certain crimes. He is being held at the Jefferson County Jail without bond,” he said. “At this time, it is believed that the shooting stemmed from an argument that occurred on Sunday, July 14, between Diaz and Rodriguez’s son at a soccer game.”

An autopsy was performed on Garcia at the GBI Crime Lab in Augusta, Georgia on Saturday, July 20.

“The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is assisting Jefferson County investigators with the shooting as well as Spanish speaking deputies from the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office,” Chalker said.

The investigator said Tuesday the investigation is ongoing; and, he is in the process of conducting other interviews.

Chalker said Rodriguez has been interviewed.

“He has given us a statement; and, he has been charged,” Chalker said.

The investigator said Tuesday the last report he had on Diaz’s condition was that he is stable.

Happy 103rd

By Megan Johnson

Some people complain about medical problems or family matters, but not Jean Cunningham.

Cunningham said she tries to never complain and that is what has gotten her to live to be 103 years old.


Jean Cunningham was born in 1910 and turned 103 years old on Friday, July 19. She is a resident of Bartow, but stays at the Home Place in Wrens during the day.

“I love the Home Place. Everyone here is so nice to me and the food is great,” Cunningham said.

Growing up, Cunningham attended Tarver Grove High School three months out of the year and for the rest of the year she worked in the fields.

“School wasn’t like it is now,” she said. “You went to school for a short while, then you had to go work in the fields.”

Cunningham said sometimes she didn’t want to work in the fields. “But I knew I had to get the job done,” she said.

Throughout Cunningham’s life she said she has had really good days and really bad days and tries to not complain.

“I’ve never been one to complain,” she said. “Complaining is not going to get you nowhere in life, so don’t complain and keep going strong.

“Sometimes when we start to get older we start feeling sorry for ourselves and helpless. But not me,” Cunningham said. “I take care of myself and I won’t stop until the good Lord takes me home.”

Even though Cunningham takes care of herself she said people in her neighborhood check up on her and her cousin from Texas calls her every afternoon to see how she is doing.

“If my cousin cannot reach me at my house she will call every neighbor to make sure I am OK,” Cunningham said. “I am very blessed to have people like that in my life.”

When asked her secret to living to be 103 she said, “There is no secret. I just trusted in the Lord and believed in Him and everything was taken care of.”

Cunningham said she loves people and loves to go places.

“Turning 103 is not going to keep me down and I am not going to give up,” she said. “The Lord has been with me 103 years and He is going to stay with me however many more years He wants me here on this earth.”

Glascock county working on budget

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

“We’re nowhere near adopting a budget,” Glascock County Commissioner Lori Boyen said during a work session last week.

She said the commissioners will need to come to a conclusion over the next week or two.


“Our sales tax is down almost $7,000 from last year,” she said.

In an effort to have a budget for the upcoming year, the commissioners called another work session for Friday, July 26, at 9 a.m. Boyen told the county clerk, Tracy Hutcheson, the work session will be only for the budget.

Glascock Commission Chairman Audrey Chalker said they have asked department heads to provide a break down of their budgets.

“They haven’t had to present it like we’re asking,” Chalker said in an interview this week.

“We’re having them break it down instead of just presenting a lump sum. Then what we’re going to do, which they’ve never done, at the end of the month we can tell them what part of the budget they have used,” she said.

“We’re trying to get it right and get everything set up so that from now on when they need something for their department they can ask the county clerk for a printout so they will know how much they have in certain categories. We have never done that and that is what is making us behind,” the chairman said. “We are trying our best to get it more accurate.”

Chalker said the commissioners should be able to finish their budget discussion during Friday’s work session. Then everything will be entered into the computer.

"We’re trying to get everything in order and it hasn’t been in the past,” she said.

During the work session, the commissioners also discussed plans for a park.

The commissioners discussed several points, including the locations of a pavilion, the road and the entrance. They also discussed making sure all fields at the park will be irrigated.

Lawton Harbeson, an engineer with Civil Design Solutions in Warrenton, took a revised plan to study and come back for more discussion with the commissioners.

Funding for the improvements at the recreation department will come from SPLOST.

Chalker said they would be looking at possible grants to help with some of the expenses. a bid from West Chatham to exchange the radio and equipment and AKO Signs to do the lettering. The total for all of this is $28,855 and will be paid with 2011 SPLOST funds.

Berry said there is enough in the 2011 SPLOST account currently to pay the bill for the car in full, which is what the council decided after discussing a financing option.

Berry said the city expects to receive about $59,000 left to come in from 2011 SPLOST funds.

The council discussed renting a city building to a businessman.

The building, located at 318 E. Main St., had been rented for $225 a month.

The council discussed the rental fee and voted to leave it at $225 a month with a yearly review.

The mayor said any resident who wants their yard sprayed for mosquitoes should contact city hall at 706-547-2828.

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Last modified: July 25, 2013