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 This week's Journal

Kids' Photo deadline extended to Dec. 10
The deadline for turning in photographs of children for MainStreet Newspapers' 33rd annual special Christmas kids section has been extended until FRIDAY, DEC. 10 at 5PM. No photos will be accepted after this time.
Photographs of children ages 8 and under are featured free of charge in the special editions planned for the week of Christmas. The children must live in Banks, Madison or Jackson counties. The name, age, address and parent's name must be listed on the back of each photo.
Photos may be turned in at any of MainStreet's offices in Jefferson, Homer, Danielsville, Braselton or Commerce. They may also be mailed to: MainStreet Newspapers, P.O. Box 908, Jefferson, Ga., 30549.


Y2 cringe or Y2 care?
Many Madison Countians prepared but not scared
When the clock struck midnight, all of Cinderella's finery fell away - the horses turned to mice, the carriage became a pumpkin, the footman suddenly wagged a doggy tail and the girl who fancied herself a princess for the night was again a kitchen maid.
Some are expecting similar weirdness when the clock strikes 12 this New Year's Eve, not a fairy tale strangeness but a man-made mayhem brought on by computer breakdowns. So Y2K looms as a big, threatening question mark at the end of the 1999 calendar. There have been apocalyptic rantings, books written on how to survive a Y2K disaster, even a made-for-TV Y2K movie.
It will be a month before anyone knows if all the hype is warranted. Meanwhile, a number of Madison Countians are doing what they can to prepare, while many seem somewhat skeptical of the Y2K craze.
Phyllis Dickinson of Colbert said she is not really scared of possible Y2K problems, but she's preparing for them anyway, saving her empty milk jugs, buying a few extra canned goods and storing some bottled water.
"I'll begin filling up the milk jugs with water soon," she said. Her family is also considering purchasing a Coleman stove for an alternate cooking source.
Rev. Walter Singletary, of Union Baptist Church in Madison County, is encouraging his church to be prepared, though he feels there will be only minor glitches that amount to more annoyances than major catastrophes.
It's wise, he said, to be prepared "the same way as for a lengthy winter storm."
Singletary said his church aims to supply shelter, water, food and warmth to church members - and to the community, if necessary.
"We could always prepare simple nourishing foods like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, soup or chili," he said.
Union Baptist has also surveyed homes to find out such things as who has alternate heat sources, who would be willing to house others, who has generators or hand pumps for surface wells, and who could store or supply extra fuel in an emergency.
Despite talk of stockpiling for a Y2K disaster, two county businesses say there's been no noticeable rush on potentially helpful items.
If local folks are overly concerned about Y2K, they're not showing it that much at the local hardware store by purchasing gas-powered generators and hand pumps.
"I've sold more gas and kerosene heaters than anything," said George Strickland of Madison County Hardware. "But nothing that would raise the attention, just usually what people would buy to be prepared for winter weather."
Jerry Drake, store manager of Ingles on Hwy. 29, said he has noticed nothing out of the ordinary.
"We have not had anything you would call a rush (on items such as bottled water or dry goods)," said Drake.
Drake said the store has no plans to stock extra items for the new year, pointing out that Ingles has four deliveries of dried goods a week and no place to stockpile the food.
"I have no reason to think we will have a problem with distribution," said Drake, who added that the store has done everything possible to be prepared, making sure all computers and registers are Y2K compliant.
While Y2K poses potential hazards globally, local service providers are working to eliminate possible problems in Madison County.
Of course, the most pressing question centers on the county's emergency services. Will they be hindered by Y2K problems at the turn of the new year?
Local officials say "no." And they've done the tests to back up that answer.
"We anticipate no problems and each piece of equipment (at the 911 center) has been tested and clocks on the computers ran forward into 2000," 911 director David Camp said.
"Everything worked just like it was supposed to. We don't expect any problems."
Emergency coordinators will also be on hand in the 911 conference room from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve to make sure things go smoothly. Those keeping a watchful eye will include Johnny Bridges, director of the county Emergency Management Agency, Camp and Ricky Hix, 911 assistant director.
Likewise, all emergency equipment including pagers, radios and phones, will be tested prior to midnight and again after 12 to make sure they are working properly.
This means all emergency personnel, including the sheriff's department, police departments, ambulance services and volunteer fire departments will be on hand to test their equipment.
Kenny Beck, district manager of Jackson EMC, assures Madison Countians that the lights will be on after the clock ushers in the new year.
"We have made an assessment of our internal systems to make sure they are under control," said Beck, who added that extra JEMC employees will be on hand that night to make sure services aren't interrupted.
Georgia Power, which also provides power to Madison Countians, has logged considerable money and time to ensure a smooth transition to the new millennium.
Callers to Georgia Power may select several recorded messages which answer concerns about Y2K. One message says any power outages will be short-term, "similar to service lost in a storm."
Local officials don't anticipate problems with municipal water services.
Steve Sorrells, city clerk for Comer and Carlton, pointed out that all towns with public water systems were required to do a Y2K survey to make sure water supplies are safe and sewage systems will operate correctly.
"We also have back-up generators on all the wells for water systems so we can continue to get water," said Sorrells of Comer's plans.
Banks have drawn considerable attention amid the Y2K buzz as people wonder if a computer crisis would affect access to their money.
But local banks promise customers that they have taken the necessary precautionary steps.
"This (preparing for Y2K) has been an arduous process - it's nothing we took lightly," said Ken Watson, manager of Merchant's and Farmer's Bank Daniesville branch. He added that all banks nationwide insured by the FDIC have been required to go through rigorous testing of all banking systems.
Watson said all of the bank's current equipment is Y2K-ready and "on line and running right now."
The Bank of Danielsville has given its customers information from its parent company, Century South Banks, on Y2K preparations, assuring them that their "bank is all set for the new millennium" and that every data system has been "tested and re-tested." Century South Banks will also take measures on Dec. 31 to make sure all accounts, balances and account histories as of the new year are printed out, saved and stored.
Thomas Dial, senior vice president of the Bank of Danielsville, said Bank of Danielsville employees will also be working Jan. 1 to make sure everything is working properly, though banks will not be open to the public that day.
County commission chairman Wesley Nash said he is not very worried about a Y2K disaster, but he added that he is canceling an annual New Year's trip to Tennessee to be in the county if problems arise.
"Even though we don't expect any major problems, we're still going to be prepared," said Nash, who added that the county will have several generators operating on New Year's Eve.
"We have tried to foresee a loss of electricity where we will still be able to get out and about and provide services," said Nash.
Nash said the county government has been trading out old computers for Y2K-compliant machines for several years.
"Almost every computer has been switched out (for a Y2K compliant computer) since I've been here," said Nash, who was elected in 1996. "All major computers in the county government are Y2K compliant. There may be an old 486 in the county used for writing letters or something of that nature that will have problems."
School superintendent Dennis Moore said county schools are in good shape and he doesn't anticipate any Y2K problems. He said preparing for Y2K has been a major aim for the school system since so much information must be transferred from the school system to the state.
"We're ready to go," said Moore. "All of our trial checks and practice runs have been fine."
Rick Chamberlin, head of the county Department of Family and Children Services, doesn't foresee major problems for those receiving government assistance.
"Retailers have backup means of being able to provide monetary and food benefits even if there are problems with EBT (electronic benefits transfer)."
He added that his agency will keep close contact with local law enforcement to keep communications open for those served by DFACS.
Bobbie Rooker, local ACTION coordinator, said the Madison County Food Bank is preparing for possible hungry stomachs after the new year, planning an extra food distribution in late January.
"That is in anticipation of some food shortages," Rooker said. "But right now we're just going to play it by ear."
While nobody knows for sure what will happen when the clock strikes 12 in the new year - whether all will be normal or whether the world will seem suddenly topsy-turvy like a fairy tale - many people feel the anxiety attached to Y2K has gotten a bit out of hand.
"I think it's a little overblown," said Nash of the Y2K craze. "It's one thing for a computer not to print a check. It's another for a computer at a nuclear plant not to work. I think the major problems are under control."
But, of course, only time will tell.

For the love of bugs
Madison County man enjoys collecting and restoring Volkswagen Beetles
Johnny Heaton is a bug expert.
No, he is not an entomologist or an exterminator, and the bugs he knows don't crawl - they roll.
He's a familiar sight to many, tooling around town, cruising in a parade or parked at a local car show with one of his restored Volkswagens.
Heaton's passion for the diminutive automobiles began when he traded a pickup truck camper cover for a 1960 model VW Beetle. He says he liked his little "bug" so well that when the engine started knocking, he decided to keep it and fix it up.
That was 29 years ago.
Since then his wife of 44 years, Hilda, and their daughter, Patricia, have come to know that bugs are just a part of their lives too.
Even a sign on the mailbox proclaims "Johnny's Bugs."
Over the years, he has restored more than 25 of the little cars, some for himself, but many for others. Still other folks have sought his help and advice in their own restoration projects and he is glad to share his knowledge and enthusiasm with them.
"Most anybody around this section of Georgia knows or knows of me and my bugs," Heaton, who lives on Roger's Mill Road, says smiling, and some, it seems, from even further away.
The furthest away so far has been a man from Indiana who heard of his expertise and came for a visit with his VW. And then there was the time a fellow "just showed up" from Kansas with a bug in tow.
A fenced in lot in his back yard is a veritable VW bug graveyard with those that are beyond restoration being used for parts.
Heaton currently owns seven restored VWs, including one shiny green Carmen Ghia.
"A man had it in a dog pen and was using it for a dog house," Heaton said, shaking his head, "He wrecked it so he just parked it in his back yard and built a dog pen around it."
Many of his automobiles were found in similar ways from owners in surrounding counties and junkyards. Heaton always has his eyes open for a good prospect.
All of "Johnny's Bugs" have custom-built engines and a stereo system Heaton designed himself. He pretty much does everything but the paint job.
Since his retirement from Thrall Car three years ago due to poor health, Heaton says he has spent more and more time "tinkering" with his cars, although he has had to curtail much of the help he gives others.
"I guess I've spent the last year and a half working on them a little every day," Heaton said. And although he's not able to do a lot of physical work for others, he doesn't mind offering advice over the phone. But he limits himself only to Volkswagens.
"That's just my thing," he said of his hobby, "I fell in love with them a long time ago."
Heaton's workshop is filled with memorabilia of events he's participated in with his bugs, including a number of trophies and plaques.
Heaton has been a member of the Madison County Cruisers, a local antique car club, for the past two years and enjoys exhibiting some of his bugs at the shows and in parades.
He has also participated in a number of races.

Comer Christmas parade set for Saturday
Madison Countians may get in the holiday spirit by enjoying the Comer Christmas parade Saturday at 2 p.m.
The day's festivities include the Reindeer Run at 10 a.m.; the Comer Elementary School festival, including crafts and games; chicken barbecue provided by the Comer Volunteer Fire Department, and entertainment from the "Hess Family," "the Madison County Singers" and the "Fourgiven Quartet."
On Sunday, Dec. 5, the annual Comer Christmas tree lighting will be held on the median downtown at 7:30 p.m.

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The Madison County Journal - Danielsville, Georgia
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