By Stephanie Johns
An agenda item pertaining to tourism in residential zones prompted locals to speak out at the Madison City Council meeting on Monday.
During a November meeting of the council, Councilman Michael Naples asked why the city had not stopped a homeowner from providing tours of their historic residence. Kathy Whiteside, owner of Thurleston house on Dixie Avenue, was discussed during that meeting.
Naples said the current ordinance just covers tour management. He added that many people do not want tourism in residential districts.
“This ordinance has to be expanded,” he said. He added that tourism is the number one industry in this town, but ordinances must be respected. “If you leave it the way it is, you’re not addressing the problem.”
Whiteside was present at Monday night’s meeting. She said she has lived in Madison and given tours here for 30 years.
“I didn’t want a business,” she said, adding that her husband’s work building in Florida “just stopped.”
She decided to start the business so that she could maintain her property.
Whiteside said when she received her business license, she asked for no favors but was granted the license on precedence. She noted that Hattie Mina Hicky had given tours.
“We need more people like me,” she said. Some in the audience laughed and clapped at this. “All of us working together is what our town needs.”
She addressed Naples at one point and accused him of bullying.
“You could’ve come to me and said I have a problem with your license,” she said. “It hurt me terribly and it hurt me personally.”
By Patrick Yost
A Rutledge couple coming home from work walked in on four men, at least two with a pistol, attempting to rob their home last Saturday.
And while the men fled, Capt. Chris Bish, Morgan County Sheriff’s Office Investigative Division, said, “it could have been worse.”
“They (the intruders) were surprised,” Bish said. “I'm very grateful it did not escalate.”
According to Morgan County Sheriff’s Office reports, the 59-year-old man and his 61-year-old wife, both employees at Park N Shop convenience store in Rutledge, came home at approximately 11:40 p.m. after closing the store. Reports state that the wife entered the house on Newborn Road, approximately a half-mile from the store, and noticed that a bed in the main bedroom was out of place. At that time, reports state, a black male came from a bedroom across the hall, pointed a pistol at her and demanded money. The woman said while the man continued to scream at her and hold her at gunpoint, she attempted to flee, but the man pushed her down. The woman said she got up and fled the residence, noticing another black man wearing a black, hooded sweatshirt leave the residence through a window in another room.
The husband said when he entered the residence – following his wife’s entry – a black male wearing a white, Polo-type shirt and a Halloween monster mask ran past him, stopped and demanded money. The husband said he was unloading groceries when the wife entered the residence and he heard voices but thought it was coming from a television set.
Both the man and woman told authorities that the two black males left the residence on foot, running north from the residence, and another pair of black males left the residence on foot, running south from the residence.
By Kathryn Schiliro
Morgan County Board of Education member Minnie Peek said her final goodbye to her District 1 post Monday night as she took part in her last meeting as a BOE member.
Scores of friends, family, community members as well as former coworkers, board members and superintendents – many of them also former students of Peek’s – came to the hour-long reception prior to the meeting to help Peek celebrate her 52 years in education, 40 as a teacher and 12 on the school board.
Born and raised in Morgan County, Peek decided her life goal was to help people, she said. She taught in several nearby counties after college, including teaching in Oconee County during integration, before settling back in Morgan.
"I don't have anything but love for Morgan County," Peek said. "My resolution was to do as much as I could for the citizens of Morgan County."
Addressing those gathered, she asked her former students to stand; half the room, if not more, got up.
"As I look around I don't think my work has been in vain," she said. "I can almost remember something good about each of you!"
Peek was presented with tokens from each of the schools in honor of her service. The primary school presented her with a drawing by Samaya Grant and a song by four students; the elementary school, a poem; the middle school, a mixed media collage by Madison Bryant presented by MCMS Principal Lydia Norburg, a seventh grade science student of Peek's; the high school, collage of pictures of Peek through the years; and CrossRoads, a student-made mug.
Her advice to those gathered: "Whatever you do, do it because you love it."
Peek said she doesn't plan to leave Morgan County, "but I do plan to escape for a while."
By Kathryn Schiliro
Morgan County High School (MCHS) students hit a high with the fall 2012 administration of the Georgia High School Writing Test (GHSWT).
More than 95 percent of 11th grade first-time test takers passed the GHSWT – focused on persuasive writing – last year, up from more than 93 percent in 2010 and 2011 and 95 percent in 2009, according to information presented to the school board Monday night by Assistant Superintendent Debra White.
“They (the scores) are very competitive,” MCHS Principal Dr. Jim Malanowski said.
The number of students not passing the test is also at the lowest it’s been in four years: 4.6 percent. However, the percentage of test takers meeting the test’s standards is 79.7 percent, up from 2009 and 2011’s numbers, but below 2010’s more than 80 percent. Additionally, more than 15 percent of test takers more than met – they exceeded – the test’s standards, a number down from last year's 17 percent of students exceeding standards but up from 2009 and 2010 numbers.
Broken down further, 63 percent of Special Education students passed; 98 percent of female students and 90 percent of males; 84 percent of black students, 91 percent of Hispanic students and 98 percent of white students, according to information from Malanowski.
Malanowski found the discrepancy between female and male test takers of interest.
“We originally thought this was an African-American male situation,” Malanowski said. “Turns out it's a guy situation.”
No layoffs planned for local company
By Stephanie Johns
The Morgan County Hospital Authority heard some positive news during its November meeting: they had a net income of $44,616 out of a total hospital revenue of $1.2 million for October. They had budgeted a negative $24,298 for that month.
CFO Courtney Moore noted that supply costs, which are census-driven, were below budget by $19,000.
Treasurer Paul Courchaine said their numbers for October were good.
Courchaine noted that they had a rough start this year, but that their census numbers are back up in the 20s for November.
Moore went through the financial report and began by noting the census of 15 in September increased to 17 in October.
Salaries and wages were below budget by $25,000, she said, adding that education expenses fall into the “other” category, which is $24,000 above budget. Overall, the two balance each other out, she said.
“We’re bringing in new nurses and educating them,” she said. “This reduces overtime in the long run.”
A government-imposed rule will prompt a change from ICD-9 to ICD-10, which is the name of their coding system. She said that all of their coding is outsourced to ICD-10 experts.
As to their Quadax system, she said this is “a really, really good thing” because it allows the hospital to get cash in the door quickly.
According to the company’s website, Qaudax, Inc. offers “healthcare revenue cycle solutions” to “increase cash flow, maximize productivity, and reduce dependence on paper processing.”
Sue Jasnau, controller, made a presentation on behalf of Patient Financial Services (PFS). She said they have two departments in PFS: Admissions and Billing. She spoke about personnel, responsibilities and tools.