Banks County Opinions...

MARCH 24, 2004


Column

By: Phillip Sartain
The Banks County News
March 24, 2004

Hot dog heaven
Sometimes I forget about all the progress we’ve made in this country. Fortunately, when I do, someone sends me an unsolicited catalogue reminding me just how far we’ve come in the last two hundred plus years. No doubt about it, we’ve got the best “stuff” in the world.
Usually, I toss unsolicited catalogues in the recycling bin immediately. They flow through our house like a river and I’ve learned the hard way that it’s possible to drown in catalogues and never be heard from again.
But this time, something caught my eye, and I spared the catalogue reincarnation as a cardboard box. There was a lot of “must have” stuff, and it took me a long time to wade through it all, but I finally found what I needed the most and I placed an order.
The day the order arrived, I called everyone together for the big surprise. Slowly and carefully, I opened the package, unwrapped the contents, and set it on the island in the kitchen.
Beaming, I turned to my wife, “Is that not the greatest thing you’ve ever seen?
Lydia looked for a few seconds and said, “Is this goofy looking thing what you ordered out of that dumb catalogue you’ve been dragging around for a month?”
Ignoring her assessment of my hobbies, I gushed, “Well, can’t you see what it is? It’s a RoadDog In-Car Hot Dog Maker.”
“I see,” she nodded, taking a quick, but squeamish look at the product the same way one might glance at road kill at 40 miles an hour on the offhand chance you might recognize what it was before it was killed. “And what does it do exactly?,” she pressed.
Having her attention, I zeroed in for the sales pitch, “Look at the cord — it plugs into your cigarette lighter so you can have hot dogs any time you want while riding down the road in your car. Think about it. This thing can fix six wieners at a time — that’s one for everyone in the family and a spare — in six short minutes. It means a hot dog anywhere you go whenever you want it. It’s pure genius.”
I paused for effect and then continued, “And this is the best part.” I held up a package of nuts and bolts. “It comes with all the hardware necessary to bolt it to the dashboard of the car. Is that well thought out or what?”
Lydia made a little noise like she was trying to catch her breath as I continued, “I thought we’d put this one in your BMW and if we like it, we’ll get the Jumbo RoadDog Master for the truck — it cooks 10 at a time.”
After circling the product a time or two, Lydia responded, speaking carefully and evenly, “And why would we want to do something as incredibly stupid as that?”
As with all new and brilliant inventions in this country, there is initially a bit of resistance encountered from those who are not ready for change and progress. And that seems to be especially true in the area of RoadDogs. On those occasions, patience is a must.
Presently, my RoadDog is waiting patiently in the garage. Sometimes, I go to the garage and wait patiently, too. When it’s safe, I go back in the house.
Phillip Sartain is an attorney in Gainesville.

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Column

By: Jana Mitcham
The Banks County News
March 24, 2004

A safe place for children
Since it opened in 1998, The Tree House, Inc., has been offering a safe haven for children in the Piedmont Judicial Circuit who may have been abused or mistreated. Every year, the non-profit center holds a fund-raiser that provides for much of its grant-match money, and this year’s event — a dinner auction — is coming up at 7 p.m. Friday at the Winder Community Center and is anticipated to raise some $30,000.
Located in Winder, the center serves not only Barrow County, but also branches out to Jackson and Banks counties, offering aid to law enforcement, the Department of Family and Children Services, children and their non-offending family members. For all three counties in 2000-01, The Tree House was the site for 124 victim interviews, with the number increasing to 131 in 2001-02 and to 172 in 2002-03. Already this fiscal year, the number has topped 200 victims interviewed.
“We have a two-pronged approach to working with children who are abused or maltreated,” said director Tina Grubbs.
She explained that The Tree House opens its doors as a “child friendly place” for DFACS and law enforcement to conduct interviews. A child advocate from the center is there the whole time, for the interviews, any needed examinations, for the court process and for therapy.
“On the flip side, we know there is a need for prevention,” Grubbs added, listing a number of voluntary services offered, such as family support, parent education, home visits, group-based education — “all types of parent support, a continuum of services.” Locally, The Tree House offers parenting education at BJC Medical Center, the Gordon Street Center and through DFACS.
“We have the opportunity to do home visitations, too,” Grubbs said. “And we are working really closely with the teen program at Gordon Street and the teen moms with the high school nurses. We teach the ABCs of parenting — bonding, empathy, nurturing, the basics.”
Grubbs clarified that children do not stay at The Tree House, and that the organization does not have a part in removing children from a dangerous situation. Rather, “We are here for the kids,” she said. “If a nurturing environment (fostered through educational services) doesn’t work, we help them heal. We are a neutral agency coordinating services for that child....We don’t tell anyone what to do — we help.”
When a child discloses abuse or a report of abuse is made, DFACS or law enforcement officers conduct an initial investigation.
“If they find there is a need, they can pick up the phone and call us and we will open our doors so they can come here,” Grubbs said, adding that two staff members are certified to conduct interviews if need be.
Beyond the interviews, there is an opportunity for the child to have 12 weeks of therapy for free, she said.
“That’s what we do as far as being an advocacy center,” Grubbs said. Additionally, The Tree House is the judicial circuit’s charter council for Prevent Child Abuse Georgia.
The Tree House stats for Jackson County include four victim interviews in fiscal year 2001-02 and 24 victim interviews in FY 2002-03, a jump in numbers that Grubbs attributes partially to “a more concentrated effort on reporting abuse.” Ten people were involved in parenting efforts in FY 2002-03 and currently eight are already involved this year.
The outreach — including all public events — for Jackson County in calendar year 2003 was to 300 children and families, with 72 children and families served in programs. Grubbs said the center estimates reaching approximately 400 in calendar year 2005 for Jackson County.
For Banks County, The Tree House was the site for nine victim interviews in 2001-02 and four in 2002-03.
“We have an open door for DFACS and law enforcement in all three counties,” Grubbs said. “We like to be able to say ‘We are here if you need us,’ but if there’s a need, we’ll start talking about satellite centers.”
Three new Jackson County members just joined The Tree House board — Jerry Payne, Claire Guined and Gail Banks — and Grubbs anticipates that will help open up more community discussion and awareness about the center.
In the meantime, she is looking to the Friday night fund-raiser as a way to aid the grant-funded programs.
“This is our largest fund-raiser,” she said. “Every bit goes to direct services.”
The auction will include a trip to Aruba for six, a leather sofa, air travel tickets for two, four golf rounds at The Georgia Club, a fly fishing trip at Unicoi State Park and an overnight stay and meals at The Reynolds Plantation. Other smaller items will also be auctioned. Tickets are $50 and are available at Northeast Georgia Bank at Banks Crossing/Hwy. 441 or at The Tree House. Call (770) 868-1900 for more information.
Jana Adams Mitcham is features editor for The Jackson Herald and a reporter for MainStreet Newspapers, Inc.


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