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Letter to the Editor
Says article inaccurately portrayed BJC Medical center
Recently, an article about BJC Medical Center appeared in an
Athens paper. There were a number of inaccuracies in this article,
and we are writing to help clarify some facts.
Christmas conversation with Dad
Hiya, Dad! I know, it's been a while since I've been by to see
Gowder named quarterback on All-Area team
Banks County High School senior Drew Gowder was named one of
the quarterbacks on the 2000 MainStreet Newspapers All-Area team.
Candidate Calls Nicholson 'Town Hall' Meeting
A former candidate who got two votes when he ran for mayor in
November has called a "public town hall meeting" for
next Wednesday evening to discuss zoning.
County Gets $800,000 To Rebuild Covered Bridge
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution
to contract with the state and federal departments of transportation
for over $800,000 in grant money to help replace the covered
bridge over the North Oconee River at Hurricane Shoals.
Holiday season special for organ donor, recipient
Both Priscilla Harrison and Susan Risler say their lives are
particularly blessed this holiday season by the bond they share.
Priscilla, because she received the life-saving gift of a kidney
transplant earlier this year, and Susan, because she gave that
kidney so that her friend and colleague might live. ...
Conflict over legal expenses remains
A conflict over payment of legal fees continued last week as
former county commissioner Ken Clark submitted a written request
to be on Thursday's BOC meeting agenda to discuss legal expenses.
But that request was denied by BOC chairman Wesley Nash. ...
The Banks County News
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Christopher Bowden, 4, and his daddy, Bobby Bowden, built
this six-foot snowman during the recent winter weather in Banks
County. It was Christopher's first "real" snowman and
he enjoyed it, according to his family.
BOC allows saddle
club to host rodeo
The Banks County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved
the Banks Crossing Saddle Club's request to host a rodeo at the
county's horse arena off Jolly Street.
At Friday's meeting, the BOC approved the request pending legal
review and with the stipulations that the saddle club make improvements
to the road leading to the arena and name the county co-insured
under liability insurance. The saddle club must also pay the
county 10 percent of all gate receipts from the rodeo, which
will be used to make improvements to the horse arena.
"The county can begin making money off the arena,"
said Katie Harrison, who was making the request to the board.
"Right now, only small clubs can use it but we must do things
like this to make money to have the money to put back into the
Harrison said the Banks Crossing Saddle Club, which is sponsoring
the event, must pay $10,000 up front to a stock contractor to
bring the rodeo to Banks County. The club will also pay an additional
estimated $5,000 for insurance and security, Harrison said.
Also at its meeting Friday morning, the BOC:
·approved a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax agreement
with Homer and Maysville. Under the agreement, the county will
give Homer six percent and Maysville three percent of the proposed
SPLOST. Approval of the agreement is pending legal review by
the county's attorney.
·approved the contract to close on land for the proposed
Gillsville Fire Station.
·approved the contracts to expand the sewer system, pending
lease and first right of refusal agreement.
·reappointed Barbara Poole to the Banks County Planning
proposals under BOC review
The Banks County Board of Commissioners is considering three
proposals from companies wishing to provide ambulance billing
services to the county.
The BOC is reviewing information on the three proposals and has
yet to make a decision. The board was scheduled to talk about
the proposals in a called meeting Wednesday morning.
Three companies submitted proposals to the BOC, Central Georgia
Billing, Information Automation Managment (IAM) and Alpha and
The proposals were for a one-year contract to send bills, make
insurance and Medicaid claims and collect fees for the county's
Central Georgia's proposal includes a nine and a half percent
fee for each bill. However, Central Georgia does not require
a start-up fee and will collect back bills. The company will
also allow the county to choose its own payment date and charges
no late fees.
The proposal also allows the county to recieve the payment for
its ambulance bills first, then pay Central Georgia from those
"Central Georgia would probably give us the best service,"
fire chief and EMS director Perry Dalton said. "They've
been in ambulance billing for 11 years and it seems to be geared
more towards smaller counties."
BOC chairman James Dumas agreed: "Based on what I've studied,
I recommend we go with Central Georgia," he said.
Susa Kitchens, a Central Georgia representative, said she collected
$80,000 from back bills when she implemented a similar system
in Peach County.
IAM's proposal included a seven and a half percent fee for each
bill and a $1,000 set-up fee. IAM also charges $4.50 for each
Medicaid claim; these are exempt from the seven and a half percent
The $4.50 charge is collected whether Medicare pays the ambulance
bill or not. IAM also collects the fee any time it must resubmit
a Medicare claim.
IAM also agreed to attempt to collect bills over the past nine
months and will allow the county to set its own date each month
to pay fees to IAM. It charges a one and a half percent fee for
Under IAM's proposal, all bill payments are sent to a locked
box at a bank, and the bank distributes the checks.
"There's no doubt they could provide the service,"
Locally owned Alpha and Omega charges 10 percent for each bill
and a $1,500 start-up fee. The company will not do back billing
and requires payment for its services on the 15th of each month.
Alpha and Omega also charges a five percent fee for late payment.
Unlike the other two companies, Alpha and Omega collects all
the bill payments, then writes a check to the county for its
portion of the bills.
The company, which has not done ambulance billing before, operates
out of Homer.
"We need someone who already knows ambulance billing, not
someone who is learning it new themselves," said assistant
EMS director Jim Crisp.
But commissioner Pat Westmoreland said he would like the county's
billing service to stay local.
"It's easier to deal with local people," he said.
Go to Banks
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moved up for Jan. 3 issue
News and ad deadlines have been moved up for the next week due
to the New Year's holiday on Monday, Jan. 1.
The deadline for classified and display ads will be at noon on
Friday, Dec. 29. The deadline for legal notices will remain the
same, noon Thursday.
The news deadline will be 5 p.m. Friday. This includes school,
social and other news submitted to the paper.
The Banks County News office will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 5
p.m. on Friday due to the deadlines being moved up.
The office usually closes at noon on Fridays. The office will
be closed Monday, Jan. 1, for the holiday.
DFACS clients see
$3.3 million in assistance program benefits
Between July 1, 1999, and June 30, 2000, more than $3 million
in public assistance program benefits was distributed to Banks
County clients with the Department of Family and Children Services.
The bulk of the benefits went to Medicaid recipients, while other
funds were used for Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) and
Banks County DFACS director Renota Free presented a copy of the
department's 2000 annual report to the DFACS board Thursday,
including information about client benefits, administrative costs
and social services statistics.
During the state fiscal year 2000, $3,342,525 in direct and indirect
benefits were disbursed.
According to the annual report, in Banks County in 2000, some
$96,324 in TANF benefits was distributed in 42 cases, including
62 children and 12 adults. Free pointed out that TANF caseloads
have decreased by 28.3 percent over the course of the fiscal
year, and decreased by 65.6 percent through welfare reform since
Food stamps allotment for the fiscal year totaled $547,551 for
a monthly average of 344 cases and 686 recipients. Some 2,049
Medicaid recipients received $2,605,127 in benefits.
In support services, Banks County provided $20,470 for therapy
services, $4,297 for services to prevent out-of-home placements;
and $11,901 for homestead services. The county also saw $$534,627
in administrative costs.
During the fiscal year, Banks County DFACS employees investigated
a total of 94 child protective services cases out of 145 referrals.
The majority of the children served were white and between ages
1 to 3 years old. Seventeen of the children were investigated
for alleged repeat episodes of maltreatment.
Throughout the year, the monthly average of children in custody
was 24, for a total of 44 for the year. The majority (27) have
been placed in non-relative foster homes or emergency shelter.