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This week's Commerce News

This week's Commerce News

This week's Commerce News


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Santa Arrived Early

Santa Claus arrived early for 50 Commerce area youngsters last Thursday night when the Commerce Kiwanis Club held its annual children's Christmas Party at the elementary school. Each child received gifts, a fruit basket, a gift certificate and was treated to supper and entertainment. The highlight for the children was when Santa, assisted by Commerce High School Key Club members, distributed the gifts. Above, Santa (Derek Blalock), flanked by Casi Crews, left, and Tabitha Gillespie, right, prepares to hand out gifts.

Habitat Seeks $96 From Each Chamber Member
Habitat for Humanity wants the Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce to assess each of its members nearly $100 per year to raise $38,000 annually to sponsor the construction of one house per year.
That isn't likely to happen, but last Friday, the board of directors voted to recommend to the new board taking office in January that it establish a voluntary "check off" in its dues structures so members may voluntarily contribute $96 per year to Habitat through the chamber.
Habitat president Doug Haynie made the pitch.
"If each chamber member would forfeit one business lunch per month, at $8 per lunch, that would be $96 per member," Haynie explained. The Arcade city councilman proposed that the chamber surcharge each of its members that much.
Director Keith Ariail, who is also on the Jackson County Habitat for Humanity board of directors, supported Haynie's proposal.
"This is something the chamber can take a stand on and say we're serious about housing in Jackson County," Ariail said. "We need the chamber as a friend."
"I don't think we can obligate our members to a surcharge," responded Pepe Cummings, president, who suggested that the matter be referred to the incoming board for consideration.
Director Denise Smith made a motion that the board recommend to the following board the "check off" be offered as an option when membership bills are mailed.
"I think it does need to be something that is voluntary to our membership," agreed Richard Cathey, chairman, who added "but the chamber can encourage our membership."
For Jackson County-based members, the dues structure begins at $100, so a $96 surcharge would amount to almost a doubling of some members' dues.
In another matter relating to dues, the chamber's Executive Committee is considering a number of recommendations from Cummings about amending the chamber's by laws. One deals with voting, tying the number of votes a member has to the amount it pays for dues. Members paying up to $250 would get one vote. Those paying $251 to $450, would get two; from $451 to $650, three; from $651 to $1,000, four; and those paying more than $1,000 annually would get five votes.
Other changes proposed the committee deal with partial payment of dues for new members joining late in the year and the makeup of the board of directors.
The board is expected to act on the recommendations at its January meeting.
"If you think it's (the proposed changes) great, we'd love to hear that," said Jim Shaw, vice chairman. "If you think it's awful, we kind of need to hear that too."
In other business:
·The board confirmed the election of Ariail, owner of McDonald Hardware; Jeff Geisler, general manager of Southeastern Toyota; Scott Martin, marketing representative for Jackson EMC; and Tom Plank, pastor of Galilee Christian Church, as directors. Ariail was re-elected to the board. The others replaced Denise Smith, GardenSmith Nursery; Chris Henschel, Mayfield Dairies; and Amy Flint, Etcon.
·Cummings reported that economic development activity "is up all over the county," including prospects brought by Georgia Power to the Commerce area (due to rail and available sewer capacity), Walnut Fork and the Braselton-Hoschton area.
·Rob Jordan reported that the Member Services Committee plans a joint luncheon March 22 with the Barrow County Chamber of Commerce at which Hoschton resident Chuck David, two-time winner of the Gospel Music Songwriter of the Decade award, will speak about the gospel music business. Jordan also said his committee will hold a membership drive in 2000.

BJC Hospital Plans To Open Fitness Center
Stepping in where a larger hospital has stepped out, BJC Medical Center will offer an exercise "wellness center" at its office building at 641 Hospital Road. Members of the BJC Medical Center Authority approved almost $160,000 to modify the building and grounds, equip the center and operate it for the first year.
St. Mary's Hospital has announced that it is closing its Commerce "wellness" operation at the end of the month.
"We've had several people ask us about opening a wellness center," administrator David Lawrence explained to the authority at a lunch meeting Monday.
What the authority approved was an expenditure of up to $66,000 for equipment, although members admonished Lawrence to "shop around"; $30,000 to modify the building, including the addition of parking; and $63,360 as the estimated outlay for a year of operating expenses.
Lawrence said the latter expenditure will be covered if 176 people sign up to join the center. Although the rates have not been established, he estimated a $90 quarterly fee for individuals, with discounts for families and one-year memberships.
"We break even at 176. They've had from 150 to 300," he said. "We will have to limit ours to 250 people to begin with."
Getting the center equipped promptly is crucial, said Lawrence, so there will be no significant time lag between when St. Mary's shuts down and the BJC facility starts. Some of the equipment has an eight-week delivery schedule, but Lawrence said the medical center is trying to get delivery in three weeks.
"I've had several people talk to me, suggesting that we open a fitness center," said authority member Don Brown.
In another matter, the authority authorized the expenditure of $44,500 for ophthalmologist equipment that will allow the hospital to offer eye surgery previously contracted out. Lawrence said a second ophthalmologist is considering locating in the area.
Finance director Jim Mertz projected that the move would generate $250,000 annually in cash flow.
At the recommendation of Mertz, the authority agreed to keep its workman's compensation insurance with American Interstate, at a cost of $65,456. That represents a six-percent increase in the cost, but Mertz said it is still considerably below other quotes.
Brown suggested Mertz ask the company for a quote on a lower deductible. The policy has a $2,500 per incident deductible, and Brown said it was likely that the premium for a lower deductible would not be significantly higher.
Also at the meeting:
·Mertz reported that the medical center contributed $242,000 to the Georgia Indigent Care Trust Fund and received $484,000 back from it.
·At the recommendation of the medical staff, the authority voted to give Roger Loggins, an LPN working with Allied Health, courtesy staff privileges to assist in surgery.
·Dr. Robert Marshburn, chairman of the medical staff, reported that Dr. Ed Bailey, who will be a hospital-paid doctor, is working with Dr. Paul Sergent in anticipation of taking over his Commerce practice Jan. 1.
·Nursing home administrator Charles Stills reported that the census at the nursing home is up to 161 from 156 and that there are fewer staff vacancies.

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