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LaFayette'll be abuzz Saturday
Honeybee Festival promises music, food and fun

The inaugural Honeybee Festival takes place this Saturday, June 3, in the city of LaFayette.

It will be a free day of entertainment as well education on honeybees, a barbecue contest, fun for kids and more than 100 vendors.

The festival kicks off at 9 a.m.

There will be three stages for live music, with one stage set up by The Bank of LaFayette, where the three headliners will be performing. There will be a third stage for performances as well.

The city of LaFayette plans to make the Honeybee Festival an annual, free event for all residents and visitors.

Music, dancing and contests

The Honeybee Festival will showcase not only a day a fun, food, education, but also music and dancing in the city's downtown.

Country musician Craig Morgan, the headliner, takes the stage at 9:30 p.m.

The Tennessee native is known for several hits, including "Almost Home," "Redneck Yacht Club," "Little Bit of Life," and "Bonfire."

Morgan is a U.S. Army veteran, television host, and outdoorsman.

He is the host of "Craig Morgan: All Access Outdoors" on the Outdoor Channel.

There will be other headliner musical acts as well, including Steppin Stones and Sons of Sailors.

The honeybee educational learning area booths will set up at 7 a.m. at Pigeon Mountain Trading Company on North Main Street and be open to the public at 9 a.m.

The honeybee educational booths will follow a schedule throughout the day that will consists of various themes regarding the importance to the honeybee in nature as well as eco-friendly gardening tips and education on the numerous resources found in forests.

There will be a baking contest and a barbeque contest as well. Contest submission time, as well as judging and award presentations times are listed on the schedule of events.

There will be a Cruise-In from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For additional Honeybee Festival information—that can also be sent to your phone—text @hbfest to 81010. The city of LaFayette Honeybee Festival can also be found on Facebook.

Parking and shuttles

As the downtown area on North Main Street will be closed for the festival, parking near the event will be limited.

There will be shuttles starting at 9 a.m. with a 45-minute loop in three locations.

Festival-goers can park at the LaFayette Recreation Center at 638 South Main Street to be shuttled into the festival. Another shuttle bus pickup will be located at LaFayette High School at 5178 Round Pond Road as well as the LaFayette Center (old Food Lion parking lot) at 1109 North Main Street.

For more details, including festival map and schedule, see pages A6-8.


Not just a school clinic, but a clinic at a school

This is the sixth in a series of articles reported in Northwest Georgia, an area rich in stories about unmet health needs and about people and programs making a difference. Georgia Health News and the health and medical journalism graduate program at UGA Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication collaborated to produce this series, made possible by support from the Healthcare Georgia Foundation and the Institute of International Education.

The tan bungalow on the Gilbert Elementary School campus in LaFayette is scarcely bigger than a house trailer.

Although it could easily be mistaken for a temporary classroom, the building is a clinic. It's one of six local medical clinics in rural Northwest Georgia run by Primary Healthcare Centers, a nonprofit that is designated as a federally qualified health center.

Five days a week, a team of nurses and a rotating cadre of pediatricians, nutritionists and dentists at the Gilbert Community Clinic see not just schoolchildren but Walker County residents of all ages.

"We try to be there for the community to serve their needs," says Sandy Matheson, a spokesperson for Primary Healthcare Centers. "We take all insurances, Medicaid, Medicare, private-pay insurances, and then we also have a sliding-scale program for the uninsured. A good bit of our population are uninsured. We are all about affordable, accessible, quality health care for everyone in the community."

Although the idea of a general medical clinic on the grounds of a public school sounds novel, it's not a new idea in Georgia. Some Emory University pediatricians launched the state's first school-based clinics

more than 20 years ago.

"We opened the first clinic in December of 1994, and there were other models that provided health in schools but not in the extent that we're doing now," says Dr. Veda Johnson, associate professor of pediatrics at Emory and director of PARTNERS for Child and Adolescent Health.

It wasn't until 2010 that the concept really took off in Georgia. The Emory team launched clinics at two schools in Atlanta, both in low-income, largely minority urban areas. Today there are 22 school-based clinics in Georgia, says Dr. Johnson.

"To our amazement, the majority of our clinics are in rural areas, which is unusual," said Dr. Johnson. "If you look at the national statistics, a majority of them historically have been in urban areas."

"Of the twenty-two [clinics in Georgia], two thirds of them are in rural counties now."

When a new safety net clinic opens in a rural community, bringing affordable care to a needy area, people start coming as soon as a clinic opens its doors, according to Dr. Johnson. And its impact shows up faster, too. Urban start-ups attract patients at a slower pace.

Nevertheless, the value of any of these clinics cannot be understated, according to Polly McKinney, advocacy director at Voices for Georgia's Children.

"When integrated into a comprehensive health care system, such as linking to a federally qualified health center, a school-based health center can be a game-changer not only for an entire generation of children, but for the whole community," says McKinney. "Child and adult health improve, school attendance for students and staff improves, and there is the real potential to help people choose healthier behaviors. It is a winning situation across the board."

A burden off parents

LaFayette's need for a primary care clinic was obvious to Matt Harris, who has been principal of Gilbert Elementary for three years. Harris, who grew up in nearby Rossville and taught at Gilbert before becoming principal, came to know his students and their families well enough to see that they had medical needs which were not being addressed.

"We're an agricultural community and people are spread out," says Harris. "It might be 30 or 40 minutes to our school and then from our school, it was 40 minutes to the pediatrician. In some cases, it was over an hour or even an hour and a half to get to a pediatrician. It's just not reasonable."

In 2015, he made the connection that brought medical care to the school grounds. "I met Sandy Matheson, who's part of Primary Healthcare, and one of their goals was to add a clinic somewhere [in the area]," says Harris.

Bringing the clinic to Gilbert Elementary, and not to some other Walker County location, took a lot of help from a lot of people. "I think the reason we got it was we had a stack of letters from the mayor down to a parent and her kids requesting a school-based health care center," Harris said.

The clinic is open from 7:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. on weekdays. There are usually four or five staffers on hand, including at least one physician or nurse practitioner, says Matheson. The clinic is open year-round.

Many families who rely on the clinic are headed by parents who work in manufacturing, such as in the carpet industry centered in nearby Dalton, and it is difficult for them to take time off for doctor visits in other towns.

Lisa Millard, a parent living in LaFayette, says that before the clinic opened, her closest options were not really that close.

"If we had to go to the ER, we had to go to Chattanooga, which is about a 40-minute drive," says Millard. "The children's doctors were in the next town up, which is about 20 minutes" by car.

Now, with the clinic on a school site, the accessibility makes it far easier for her family and others like them.

"But the clinic has worked out really good for me because I'm at work, I'm not having to leave work to go to the doctor or to take them [her children] to be seen. I'm able to stay at work and they [PHC Clinic] will actually see him, without me having to take off work, go to the other school, take my other child out and drive that 20, 40 minutes out of the way," Millard says.

Parents who once feared risking their jobs by taking work off for a sick child now have access to care close at hand. Children are reaping the benefits.

"In the past, if you had one kid sick, you had to take every kid out [of school] to go the doctor's office because it just took too long" to handle all the children's schedules, says Harris. "Now, those kids don't miss that time."

Abraham Park is a graduate student studying journalism from the University of Georgia. He received his B.A. in history from Wheaton College in Illinois and can be reached via email at abrahampark91@gmail.com.


Comprehensive, compassionate care delivered at Gilbert school

Primary Healthcare Centers proudly welcomed Dr. Lem Arnold to the Gilbert community and school-based health clinic in LaFayette earlier this year.

Dr. Arnold is a board certified member of the American Academy of Pediatrics. He completed medical school and residency in Houston before moving to Atlanta where he served on the medical staff at Northside Hospital, in various leadership positions at Scottish Rite Children's Hospital and with Kaiser Permanente.

After 37 years serving on the medical staff and at the apex of hospital administrative duties, Dr. Arnold went through what he describes as "a crisis of what I really wanted to do.

"Yes, I was very good at administration, but I didn't enjoy it —that's part of why I'm here," he said.

That realization, that "I missed the patient continuity" led his to

resign his position on Halloween 2016 and return to his passion for hands-on pediatrics. By fate, or luck, there was an unexpected opening for someone with his skills at the Gilbert Elementary School clinic where he works two days a week.

Just as his path to LaFayette was unexpected, so too was his choice of profession.

As a National Merit Scholar, Dr. Arnold enrolled at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he intended to graduate with a major in math or physics.

But a class taught by a Noble Laureate, Salvador Luria, promoted Arnold to shift his focus to biology which in turn led him to return to his home state of Texas for medical school.

Leaving the laboratory for the examination room has been an ongoing process, and one which now benefits students, parents and siblings of those attending Gilbert.

Dr. Arnold is accepting new patients including infant, children and adolescents at community and school based clinic which is open Monday – Friday 7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily year round — including the summer, when school is out.

Primary Healthcare offers same day appointments for days when a child wakes up feeling sick, offers sports physicals/wellness checks and immunizations.

In addition, the clinic provides comprehensive dental care, nutritional counseling and case management.

"We're proud to add Dr. Arnold to our physician pediatric care team here in Walker County at the Gilbert Healthcare Clinic," said PHC spokeswoman Sandy Matheson. "As we continue to grow and serve more community members, it's important for us to bring in top talent to help us continue our mission of providing high-quality and convenient care to our children, patients and families"

Primary Healthcare Center is a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) which is dedicated to Improving the health status of its patients and community by providing accessible, affordable, quality primary health care services to everyone, regardless of ability to pay. PHC has locations in, Trenton, Rossville, LaFayette, Summerville, Cedartown and at Tiger Creek Elementary School in Ringgold. PHC provides primary health care, general dentistry and outreach and health education.


Above-normal hurricane season likely

Last year produced five land-falling storms, including Matthew that caused $10 billion in damage and killed 34 people in the U.S. and 551 in the Caribbean. It was one of the deadliest Atlantic hurricanes on record.

For the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 through Nov. 30, forecasters predict a 45 percent chance of an above-normal season, a 35 percent chance of a near-normal season, and only a 20 percent chance of a below-normal season.

"As a Florida resident, I am particularly proud of the important work NOAA does in weather forecasting and hurricane prediction," said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. "These forecasts are important for both public safety and business planning, and are a crucial function of the federal government."

Forecasters predict a 70 percent likelihood of 11 to 17 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 5 to 9 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 2 to 4 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher). An average season produces 12 named storms of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.

These numbers include Tropical Storm Arlene, a rare pre-season storm that formed over the eastern Atlantic in April.

"The outlook reflects our expectation of a weak or nonexistent El Nino, near- or above-average sea-surface temperatures across the tropical Atlantic Ocean and

Caribbean Sea, and average or weaker-than-average vertical wind shear in that same region," said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster with NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.

Strong El Ninos and wind shear typically suppress development of Atlantic hurricanes, so the prediction for weak conditions points to more hurricane activity this year. Also, warmer sea surface temperatures tend to fuel hurricanes as they move across the ocean. However, the climate models are showing considerable uncertainty, which is reflected in the comparable probabilities for an above-normal and near-normal season.

"NOAA's broad range of expertise and resources support the nation with strong science and service before, during and after each storm to protect lives and property and enhance the national economy as we continue building a Weather-Ready Nation," said Ben Friedman, acting NOAA administrator. "From our expert modelers to our dedicated forecasters and brave crews of our hurricane hunters, we'll be here to warn the nation every step of the way this hurricane season."

NOAA brings exciting new observing, modeling, forecasting and communications tools to the table this year to improve our hurricane warning capabilities and aid public readiness:

• Even before its final positioning, the sophisticated camera on NOAA's new GOES-16 satellite will give our hurricane forecasters a sneak peek at its greater image resolution, sharp detail and rapid-refresh rate. One of the powerful instruments aboard GOES-16, the lightning mapper, will allow forecasters to see lightning strikes that build within tropical cyclones – a possible signal of strengthening.

• The combination of two high-resolution hurricane models will improve forecast guidance for the National Hurricane Center this season. The upgraded Hurricane Weather Research Forecast model adds better representation of storms at higher vertical resolution, and has advanced data assimilation and improved physics. With these upgrades, the model can improve intensity forecasts by as much as 10 percent and track forecasts by as much as seven percent. NOAA's Environmental Modeling Center also is replacing the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory Hurricane Model with a new hurricane model called HMON, for Hurricanes in a MultiScale Ocean-Coupled Non-Hydrostatic, which has superior track and intensity forecast skill.

• NOAA's National Hurricane Center is providing a suite of new forecast and communication tools this season. Forecasters there will issue Storm Surge Watches and Warnings operationally this year, in addition to issuing advisories, watches and warnings for disturbances that aren't yet a tropical cyclone but still threaten land with tropical storm or hurricane conditions within 48 hours. The center added a new experimental visualization tool so the public can easily see when damaging winds are forecast to reach their community. Also, beginning this year, the public will be able to click on the hurricane track cone graphic and see how far outside of the cone hurricane and tropical-storm-force winds extend, which can be hundreds of miles.

"Regardless of how many storms develop this year, it only takes one to disrupt our lives," said Acting FEMA Administrator Robert J. Fenton, Jr. "Get ready now with these easy, low-cost steps that will leave you better prepared and will make all the difference: Have a family discussion about what you will do, where you will go and how you will communicate with each other when a storm threatens; Know your evacuation route; tune into your local news or download the FEMA app to get alerts, and finally – listen to local authorities as a storm approaches."

The 2016 season was the most active since 2012, with 15 named storms, including 7 hurricanes and 4 major hurricanes.

NOAA will update this outlook in early August, just prior to the peak of the season.

NOAA also issued seasonal hurricane outlooks for the eastern Paciic and central Paciic hurricane basins. An 80 percent chance of a near- or above-normal season is predicted for each region. The eastern Pacific outlook also calls for a 70 percent probability of 14 to 20 named storms, of which 6 to 11 are expected to become hurricanes, including 3 to 7 major hurricanes. The central Pacific outlook calls for a 70 percent probability of 5 to 8 tropical cyclones, which includes tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes.