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News for Thursday, August 17, 2006

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358 county jobs sought for next year

LAWRENCEVILLE - Filling Gwinnett's needs would take big bucks and lots of new staffers, according to requests made by department heads, but as usual, there isn't enough money to fill all the requests.

In it for the kids

Collier Westmoreland gave his fellow coaches a lot, including a humorous story that his friends will never forget.

In brief

Ga. man charged in S.C. man's abduction, murder

•SPARTANBURG, S.C. - A Georgia man is the fourth suspect arrested in connection with the death of a 25-year-old man whose body was dumped into the Savannah River.

Jury finds man not guilty of charge of threatening judge

LAWRENCEVILLE - A 55-year-old Snellville man was found not guilty this week of leaving a threatening phone message for Gwinnett County Chief Magistrate Judge Warren Davis.

Sports calendar

Baseball

Aug. 19, 20: The Atlanta Baseball Club, home of the Atlanta Blue Jays travelling baseball teams, will host tryouts for the fall 2006/summer 2007 seasons on Aug. 19 and 20 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at North Atlanta High School. Go to www.atlantabluejays.com for more information.

Prep roundup: Samuels' no-hitter highlights Peachtree Ridge tourney sweep

SUWANEE - Peachtree Ridge opened its softball season and the South Gwinnett Diamond Classic on Wednesday with victories over Heritage and St. Pius.

Gwinnett Gab

Golf course reopens after renovations

SUGAR HILL - The Sugar Hill Golf Course reopened its doors Aug. 15 after undergoing major renovations.

Linder schedules town hall meeting

Politicians are reaching out the people all over Gwinnett.

Copper thefts rise with price

LAWRENCEVILLE - For centuries thieves have lusted for silver and gold, but an increased demand for copper is luring them to another precious metal.

Gwinnett Chamber reveals new logo

DULUTH - The Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce will unveil its new brand and corporate identity today at the coalition's Business in Gwinnett Expo and Job Fair.

The new look and promotion strategies were derived from numerous focus groups, surveys of Chamber members and one-on-one interviews with community leaders.

A branding task force that included the Board of Directors and staff worked with ADRENALINE Inc. to craft the updated look. The logo incorporates a graphic "mark" illustrating the Chamber as hub that unites business, health care, education and government.

The mark also represents bringing together businesses - both large and small - industries and cultures.

Outdoor mall opens for business

LAWRENCEVILLE - Many first-time shoppers amid the sandstone-colored storefronts, sparkling fountains and soft pop music of the new Avenue Webb Gin mall appeared to have two things in common Wednesday: They were women, and they lived nearby.

Corrections

Incorrect enrollment projections were given in Tuesday's edition of the Gwinnett Daily Post. Gwinnett County Public Schools' enrollment is projected to reach 151,903 this year. Enrollment is also projected to top 174,000 students by the 2010-11 school year.

It is the policy of the Gwinnett Daily Post to correct all errors of fact.

Welfare agency looking to expand community care

ATLANTA - Georgia can't afford to slow efforts to move people with developmental disabilities out of institutions and into community care, several members of the state's Board of Human Resources said Wednesday.

The board voted to ask Gov. Sonny Perdue to provide funding in next year's budget for an additional 1,800 slots for community-based services, a huge increase over the 170 new slots Human Resources Commissioner B.J. Walker had submitted for board members' consideration.

"These are people who haven't done anything,'' said board member Donald Cole of Albany.

"It isn't their behavior. It isn't drug addiction. ... When they get out on their own ... they can live a productive life.''

The proposed increase for community-based services was part of a "flat'' budget request the board is sending to Perdue's Office of Planning and Budget for fiscal 2008, which begins next July.

For the most part, the governor has instructed state agencies not to ask for more money next year. However, with tax revenues on the rise, he has indicated that he will consider recommending some increases as he puts together his budget proposals this fall.

In keeping with those instructions, Walker included $2.1 million in her budget request for the additional 170 slots. However, she also suggested that the board inform Perdue in the agency's budget submission that adding 1,000 slots would cost $9 million.

But Cole said even that wouldn't be enough considering that the state's waiting list for community-based services for the developmentally disabled is 6,900.

Also, he noted, the General Assembly funded 1,500 additional slots this year as part of a multi-year plan to reduce the waiting list.

Some board members hesitated to ask for the higher number. Anne Mueller of Savannah questioned whether the agency has enough group homes to house all of those people.

"When somebody comes out of an institution, I want to be sure they go into a place that fully cares for them,'' she said.

But board member Vernadette Ramirez Broyles of Alpharetta said families of children with developmental disabilities are clamoring for community-based care for their loved ones.

"When you talk to parents, they are begging for these,'' she said.

The budget request approved by the board also seeks funding for medication to treat victims of a potential flu pandemic, beefed-up efforts to help welfare recipients find jobs and plans to launch a new substance abuse program for men.

Report: Presidential order led to China's Wal-Mart union campaign

BEIJING - An order by President Hu Jintao prompted China's state-sanctioned labor group to launch a campaign that led to the creation of Wal-Mart's first Chinese union, according to a newspaper report.

New teacher dies before first class

LAWRENCEVILLE - Lindsay Hammon's dreams were coming true.

Doctors rally against Medicaid managed care

ATLANTA - Doctors are laying off staff and some may be forced to close because of payment delays brought on by Georgia Medicaid's switch to managed care, several physicians warned Wednesday during a rally outside the Capitol.

A series of speakers called on Gov. Sonny Perdue to halt the 21⁄2-month-old initiative in its tracks until technical problems filing, processing and paying claims can be worked out.

"Some doctors in Georgia haven't been paid in three months,'' Dr. Eric Brown, an OB-GYN from Atlanta, told about 125 people sweltering in the mid-day sun, many wearing lime green T-shirts bearing the name of a coalition newly formed to focus on the issue.

"We have a looming health care crisis in Georgia. It's bad now, but it's going to get worse.''

The state Department of Community Health rolled out the program on June 1 in metro Atlanta and Middle Georgia and plans to expand it to the rest of the state at the beginning of next month.

Three "care management organizations'' - similar to HMOs - were brought in to provide health coverage to about 600,000 low-income adults and children.

For $3 billion, those CMOs are supposed to improve the quality of health care for Medicaid enrollees by steering them toward permanent primary care doctors while saving money by keeping them from seeking routine care in costly emergency rooms.

Shane Hix, a spokesman for Perdue, said the initiative is living up to its promise.

"The implementation is going very well and will not be delayed or reversed,'' Hix said.

Wednesday's rally came one day after a dozen doctors and medical offices filed a lawsuit against the three CMOs - WellCare of Georgia, Amerigroup and Peach State Health Plan.

The suit seeks class action status for doctors and other providers affected by delayed payments, so its reach could go far beyond the original plaintiffs.

"We are here for the concerns of our patients,'' Dr. Marion Reynolds, another Atlanta OB-GYN, said during the rally. "We have to be the voices of children, pregnant women, the elderly and the disabled.''

In an e-mail, DCH spokeswoman Julie Kerlin wrote that payments to doctors and other health care providers were delayed by three to four weeks during the program's second month because of problems in both claims submissions by providers and claims processing by the CMOs.

However, she wrote that some doctors were advanced interim payments.

Between June 1 and Aug. 4, the CMOs disposed of 88.7 percent of the claims submitted to the companies either by paying or denying them, according to figures released by the DCH. Of the claims paid, 97 percent were handled within 15 business days.

"WellCare was surprised and disappointed at the allegations in the physicians' lawsuit, since they are not supported by the data,'' WellCare spokeswoman Carol Cassara said in a prepared statement. "We have consistently met or exceeded the payment standards required by our contract.''

Dr. Rhonda Medows, the state's commissioner of community health, met with Brown and Reynolds last week to discuss their complaints.

In a followup letter dated Monday, Medows listed the steps the agency is taking to address their concerns but also asked them for proof to support specific allegations of wrongdoing on the part of the CMOs.

Suspect held in JonBenet death may have Georgia link

Special to the Post

aimee.jones@rockdalecitizen.com

CONYERS - After nearly 10 years of dead-end leads, an arrest has been made in the JonBenet Ramsey murder case, and the suspect in custody is a former second-grade schoolteacher who had lived in Conyers, according to multiple news sources.

Interview with a radical

During the Cold War, American intelligence loved getting its hands on defectors from communism. The reasoning was that these people had the best information about the plans of the other side, information that would help America defeat them.

Police reports

Man victim of Medieval crime

•LILBURN - An employee of Medieval Times on Friday reported a co-worker stole money from him after he invited a group from the restaurant and entertainment business at Discover Mills to his apartment.

Three injured in Lilburn fire

•LILBURN - A house fire sent three people to Emory Eastside Medical Center Wednesday with minor injuries after they were overcome by smoke.

Firefighters responded to the blaze on Somerset Way in Lilburn after a neighbor reported smoke coming from the one-story residence around 1:30 p.m. The fire was under control within two hours, but not before causing significant damage.

Three charged in fatal shooting

LAWRENCEVILLE - A fatal shooting which appeared Monday to be in self defense was ruled Wednesday to be a homicide.

OBITUARIES

LAWRENCEVILLE

CALDWELL, G. ED

G. Ed Caldwell, age 83, of Lawrenceville, passed away on August 15, 2006 at Embracing Hospice. He was preceded in death by his parents, Garrett and Ora Caldwell of Cartersville; brothers and sisters-in-law, Owen and Martha Jo Caldwell of Sandy Springs and Don and Helen Caldwell of Marietta. After graduating from Cartersville High, he joined the US Navy in 1942. He saw action in the European invasions during World War II. Following discharge from military service, he attended Georgia Tech before beginning a long career in auto sales management with Taber Pontiac and McNamara Pontiac. He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Fay; daughters and sons-in-law, Karen and Wayne Bryant and Laurie and Mike Allison; grandchildren, Amy and Paul Cowan, Kate Bryant, Mandy Allison and Michael Allison. Memorial services will be held on Saturday, August 19, 2006, at 3 PM at Snellville United Methodist Church. The family will receive family and friends in the gathering room prior to the service from 1:30 to 3:00. If so desired, memorials may be made to Embracing Hospice, 3180 Presidential Dr., Suite G, Atlanta, GA 30340, or to the Snellville United Methodist Church Building Fund at 2428 Main Street East, Snellville, GA 30078. Tom M. Wages Funeral Service, Inc., Snellville Chapel, 770-979-3200, www.wagesfuneralhome.com.

PIPITONE, COSMA

Cosma "Gussie" Pipitone, age 89 of Lawrenceville, formerly of New York died Wednesday, August 16, 2006. Funeral arrangements will be announced later by Tim Stewart Funeral Home, 300 Simonton Road, Lawrenceville, Georgia 30045, 770-962-3100. Please sign online guest registry at www.stewartfh.com.*

LILBURN

GARMON, CLEO

Bill Head Funeral Homes and Crematory, Lilburn/Tucker Chapel, announce the death of Cleo Garmon, age 85, of Lilburn, GA, on Wednesday, August 16, 2006. Arrangements are pending with the Bill Head Funeral Homes and Crematory, Lilburn/Tucker Chapel, 770-564-2726.*

WAYNESVILLE, NC

WALKER, DANIEL

Daniel Colwell Walker, age 28, of Waynesville, NC, formerly of Auburn, GA, passed away Saturday, August 12, 2006. Arrangements by Memorial Park South Funeral Home, 4121 Falcon Parkway, Flowery Branch, GA 30542, 770-967-5555.*

Davis era set to begin at Shiloh

The day before his team was set to begin fall practice, Shiloh's new football coach went to the press box at Shiloh Community Stadium and looked over Charlie Jordan Field as the announcer did a sound check.

Consumer prices rise by 0.4 percent in July

WASHINGTON - A new surge in energy prices pushed inflation higher in July, but other prices were more restrained, raising hopes on Wall Street that interest rates won't be rising further.

Polls signal trouble for Republicans

When The Columbus Dispatch's respected poll recently reported that Republican Secretary of State Ken Blackwell was trailing Democratic Rep. Ted Strickland by 20 points in the race for governor of Ohio, there was dismay but no shock among his fellow Republicans. Those I interviewed during a recent visit here said they had seen it coming for a long time.

What others are saying

National Guard role needs to be examined

The Reading (Pa.) Eagle:

The recent announcement that two-thirds of the National Guard's 34 brigades are not combat ready is disturbing, but it also raises the issue of the role of the National Guard.

Daniel Walker

Daniel Colwell Walker, age 28, of Waynesville, NC, formerly of Auburn, GA, passed away Saturday, August 12, 2006. Arrangements by Memorial Park South Funeral Home, 4121 Falcon Parkway, Flowery Branch ...

Cleo Garmon

Bill Head Funeral Homes and Crematory, Lilburn/Tucker Chapel, announce the death of Cleo Garmon, age 85, of Lilburn, GA, on Wednesday, August 16, 2006. Arrangements are pending with the ...

Cosma Pipitone

Cosma “Gussie” Pipitone, age 89 of Lawrenceville, formerly of New York died Wednesday, August 16, 2006. Funeral arrangements will be announced later by Tim Stewart Funeral Home, 300 ...