Banks County Opinions...

January 10, 2001


Column
By Angie Gary
The Banks County News
January 10, 2001


Meet our staff
The Banks County News has had several staff changes in the past year. News editor Sherry Lewis left to work in the marketing department at Brenau University. Sports editor Drew Brantley moved on to a job in Athens. While one person hasn't been hired to handle Sherry's duties, and a new sports editor hasn't been hired, several people are handling the assignments they covered. As editor, I come up with story ideas, hand out the assignments each week, edit copy from reporters, write the editorial or "our views" column and oversee layout of the paper. A quick look at the main staff members handling news for The Banks County News is as follows:
·Adam Fouche covers many of the news beats Lewis had, such as the county board of commissioners, county planning commission, crime and court. He has also taken on the varsity sports coverage Mr. Brantley handled. He writes a biweekly column for the editorial page. As Fouche is a journalism student at the University of Georgia, he is not a full-time employee. His school schedule is about to get more hectic, so he will be pulling back on his sports coverage. We hope to have someone new in place soon to take over the main sports coverage, but Adam will still be a staff member and helping us out as much as his school schedule allows.
·Rochelle Beckstine covers the Homer City Council and Banks County Board of Education. She also coordinates all church news for the paper and writes an occasional column for the editorial pages. Beckstine also lays out many of the pages, including social, school, crime and church pages. As she and her husband are expecting their first child in March, she will be out of work for some time in the spring and other staff members will fill in for her.
·April Murphy handles all of the legal notices and obituary notices. Lawyers and funeral home directors in the area are very familiar with her as she coordinates these items, typesets them and lays out the pages.
·Jana Adams' face is occasionally on the editorial page as she writes a column for us. She is also integral in the layout of the paper each week. She puts together page one, special feature pages and other miscellaneous pages for us.
·Travis Hatfield is the photography editor for MainStreet Newspapers. He can be spotted at sporting events and special events shooting pictures for us. He also scans photographs such as weddings and school events that are turned in to us each week.
·Shar Porier began work with The News as a reporter in the last half of 2000. I assign her to cover the Baldwin City Council, which meets at least four times a month, Alto City Council and Lula City Council. She writes special features and takes photographs at many of the area festivals and celebrations. Porier also attends the Banks County Chamber of Commerce breakfast meetings.
·Nick Barnett has recently started helping out with our sports coverage. He concentrates on middle school and junior varsity coverage and assists Fouche as needed. He is also a college student and available only part-time.
·Anelia Chambers may not technically be a part of the news department, but she is a valuable staff member who is an asset to all of our departments, including news, advertising, printing and clerical. Her smiling friendly face greets those who come by the office on Mondays and she handles news and ads submitted for publication. She is conscientions and hard-working and holds the office together well for us.
Several other reporters for MainStreet Newspapers fill in on occasion in Banks County when others are out sick or on vacation. We all work well as a team and help each other out in the three counties we cover, which includes Banks, Madison and Jackson. We also count on our readers to turn in social, school and other items for publication and to give us tips for features and news coverage.
Angela Gary is editor of The Banks County News. She can be reached at AngieEditor@aol.com.

 

 

 

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Column
By Shar Porier
The Banks County News
January 10, 2001

The decision
My family was faced with a tough decision. One that many families have had to make as their parents grow old and become unable to care for themselves.
My Mom is 79. Young compared with some of you lucky folks here in Banks County.
But for Mom, life has gone from having many friends and an active life to a sedentary, solitary existence. She's crippled with arthritis; had a hip replacement; walks barely with the assistance of a walker; and, for rare excursions out of her little apartment, she goes in a wheelchair.
She was hospitalized with congestive heart failure. A pacemaker has kept her heart beating ever since. She is totally reliant on it for life.
Then she began to forget things, get confused, and was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.
We let her keep the house until a few years ago, when she began to fall. Spending three hours in the bathtub unable to get out was the major realization that we had to do something.
I remember the day we moved her out of her house. The house she had spent 30 years in, cooking and cleaning, tending a garden, cutting roses and lilacs. I had a lump in my throat all day.
The place she was moving to was very nice. She'd have her own little apartment in a building where all the residents were self-sufficient. Installed in various places are cords that she can pull that alert medics from the hospital nearby if she's in trouble. We thought she'd be safe there. That she would make new friends. Become more active.
There are a lot of group activities there; all sorts of outings, church services, card games, and pot-luck dinners. We'd hoped she would participate. That the interaction with other people would help sharpen her mind a little.
After three years there, she has continued in a downward spiral. Though ladies come to visit her, she doesn't go to visit them. They have been so wonderful to her. They try to include her in some of the activities. But they haven't been successful.
She forgets to take her medicine; forgets to eat; to clean herself. At night, she enters the "Twilight Syndrome" of Alzheimer's sufferers. that frightening confusion that comes on as the sun sets.
She does not remember her grandchildren or great-grandchildren. When we moved her in, we signed her up with an emergency service. They have been a Godsend.
She has fallen twice in the past year. The first time, a stress fracture of her "good" hip. The second, just before Christmas, a broken collar bone. Neither time could she remember how it happened.
This year at our Christmas gathering, there was a sobering air as we all knew we had to face this dilemma and make a decision. One we had not wanted to make. We had to use the N H words. Words we did not want to think about.
When we all saw how frail, how confused she was, we knew there was no other option. We knew that placing Mom in a nursing home would be the only way we could help her. Why is it that helping someone you love can hurt so much?
My sister and I had checked out a few homes the previous year. I remember my sister crying, "We're going to reduce Mom's whole life to a shoebox."
My heart broke with the cold reality.
We were taking her memories, her possessions, her life and turning it into to a hospital bed in a room she'd share with some stranger. We both cried.
That decision we made on Christmas Eve cost all of us a large piece of ourselves; sickened our hearts.
The nursing home she will be going to is a nice place. Everyone who is able is brought down to eat in a big cafeteria where she'll be at a table with other residents. Some conversation, some jokes, even some music. There's always someone playing old tunes on the upright piano while they dine. The administrators and staff are a caring group of people. I know, I had the home and them checked out.
We asked her if she'd like to come and live with one of us. "No," was her emphatic reply. "I like my little apartment. Besides, if I went to Georgia with you," she told me, "you'd just have to ship my body back up here."
Then she got real quiet, said nothing for a few moments. She looked up at me and said, "I don't want to go through another year like this. I'm ready to go."
At first, I thought "Great, she's agreeing to the nursing home idea." But the look on her face told of quite another meaning to what she had said.
My stomach became a knot, my knees weak. For the first time, I had to accept that Mom was truly failing not only in body and mind, but in spirit. I pondered the moral obligations and the moral possibilities. Maybe Mom was forgetting to take her medicine on purpose, consciously or unconsciously. Was that and not eating a decision she had made desiring to die?
What will come from our decision? Have we done the right thing? I guess only God knows the answer.
I just keep telling myself, she'll be safer there. She will have constant care. She will have three square meals a day. She'll get her medicine. She will be around people again. Maybe all the new opportunities will lift her spirits, will make her think of life as something worth while again. I can only hope. And pray.
Shar Porier is a reporter for The Banks County News.


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