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
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
"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
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
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
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
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.