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Dempsey to head Georgia House study on childhood lead exposure

State Rep. Katie Dempsey will chair the bipartisan House Study Committee on Childhood Lead Exposure.

The appointment was made Friday by Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge. Other members are Rep. Karla Drenner, D-Avondale Estates; Rep. Matthew Gambill, R-Cartersville; Rep. Mesha Mainor, D-Atlanta; and Rep. Mark Newton, R-Augusta.

Dempsey, R-Rome, heads the House human services budget subcommittee and has long advocated for ways to head off societal problems rooted in childhood illness, deprivation or trauma.

She sponsored House Resolution 52, which created the study committee this past session. Initially, she had hoped for a joint committee with Senate participation as well. However, she said it’s been a difficult year with COVID-19 meeting restrictions combined with the creation of other study committees.

“The effects of lead poisoning are irreversable and we have 14 high risk counties in Georgia,” Dempsey said. “There are very serious effects — and they are not treatable — so we will take it up.”

Researchers have found that even at low levels, lead can damage a child’s brain, lowering intelligence and damaging the ability to control their behavior and attention. At higher levels, lead can affect growth, and it can replace iron in the blood, leading to anemia and fatigue.

An analysis of state data by Georgia Health News and the AJC late last year determined which ZIP Codes have the highest percentages of young children testing high on lead levels in their blood over the past 10 years.

Four ZIP Codes in Northwest Georgia are in the top 100 for risk — two in Floyd County, one in Chattooga and another in Polk.

The Lindale and Silver Creek area covered by the 30147 ZIP Code ranked highest, with 3.91% of children tested showing high levels of lead. The connecting 30161 area — running out to Coosa, through Rome and up to Shannon — had 3.51% in the trouble zone over the past 10 years.

Polk County’s 30125 ZIP Code around Cedartown had 2.97% and the 30753 area running north from Trion in Chattooga County had 2.66% of its kids affected.

Dempsey’s committee will look at the extent of the problem with an eye to prevention and intervention strategies.

She has not yet set a date for the first meeting, but the committee’s term runs through Dec. 1. A final report could include proposed legislation for the 2022 session.

Doughboy monument rededicated at Summerville's Memorial Day ceremony

Chattooga County residents turned out in large numbers to mark Memorial Day early Saturday.

A special ceremony was held to rededicate the Spirit of the American Doughboy monument as part of the veterans memorial in Dowdy Park in downtown Summerville.

The monument had been located in Trion for decades before it was moved to the Chattooga County Memorial Home near Pennville in 1988. It now graces the county seat.

Georgia’s Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Thomas Carden was the keynote speaker but the real heroes of the event were several Word War II veterans and a number of the children of World War I soldiers.

William E. Henderson served with the U.S. Navy from 1943 to 1946. He was with a unit that built submarine nets to trap Japanese submarines.

Harold “Bud” Dempsey served with the U.S. Army in Italy from 1944 to 1946.

“I was drafted,” Dempsey said “I don’t volunteer for too much.”

Dempsey was with an infantry unit attached to the Fifth Army under Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower.

“I got over there just before the war ended,” he said.

Audrey Croft sat in a wheelchair on the front row with a framed picture of her father, J.J. Copeland, one the veterans of WWI whose name is inscribed on the Doughboy monument. Croft proudly answered questions about her father and had pictures made with Carden prior to the program.

“You are what is right about America,” Carden told the veterans who served in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan scattered throughout the audience. He reminded the crowd that those who made the ultimate sacrifice should be remembered more than one day a year.

“They gave all of their tomorrows for our today,” Carden said. His challenge to the crowd was to to find a way to make their sacrifices matter on a daily basis.

Walker Mountain Landfill no longer accepting household trash at main site, new fees starting Tuesday

On Tuesday, Walker Mountain Landfill will be instituting their new fees and no longer accepting bagged household garbage.

The changes are aimed at easing the flow of traffic.

Due to a lack of cell service, the landfill isn’t able to accept credit and debit cards, and making change for the cash transactions is often problematic. To address this, the fees will be rounded to the nearest dollar.

For example, the fee for up to 100 pounds of trash will be rounded to $5. Garbage and industrial waste weighing between 1,001 and 2,000 pounds will be rounded to $35 a ton.

The host rate, which is what the the landfill charges city and county trucks bringing in waste, will be shifted to $32 per ton.

The biggest change is that, with the closing of the construction and demolition section of the landfill, haulers bringing loads from construction sites will not pay the standard tipping fee. They will pay a $10 per ton increased fee.

Also, the Floyd County Commissioners passed a resolution last week to no longer accept household garbage at the main site on Walker Mountain Road.

The commissioners came to the consensus after talking about how easily the line gets backed up at the landfill, and related traffic issues. Many people don’t properly secure their loads, causing a lot of litter to end up along the road.

Residents can still drop their bagged household garbage off at remote sites:

♦ Berryhill Site — Located on Berryhill Road, off Huffaker Road in the western portion of Floyd County.

♦ Cave Spring Site — Located on Kings Bridge Road, southeast of Cave Spring.

♦ Midway Park Site — Located on Midway Park Road, which is off Wax Road in southeast Floyd County.

♦ Potts Road Site — Located on Potts Road in northeast Floyd County.

♦ Shannon Remote Site — Located on Burlington Drive in northeast Floyd County in the Shannon community.

♦ Hatfield Site — Located on Jones Mill Road in northern Floyd County.

You can find the hours for the remote sites on the RomeFloyd.com website under the For Residents menu under “Floyd Solid Waste.”

Oak Hill among 2,000+ Blue Star Museums offering free admission to military this summer

Oak Hill & The Martha Berry Museum has joined more than 2,000 sites nationwide in the Blue Star Museums initiative.

The program provides free admission to currently-serving U.S. military personnel and their families this summer. It runs through Labor Day, Sept. 6.

This year’s participating Blue Star Museums represent not just fine arts museums, but also science museums, history museums, zoos, nature centers, and children’s museums.

Nearby venues include the Polk County Historical Society Museum in Cedartown, Southeastern Quilt & Textile Museum in Carrollton and the Marietta Museum of History.

Among the many others are Foxfire Museum & Heritage Center in Mountain City, the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center in Tennessee and several museums each in Atlanta, Chattanooga and Birmingham.

Visit arts.gov/BlueStarMuseums to see the whole map.

“We are thrilled to celebrate the launch of the Blue Star Museums 2021 program,” said Kathy Roth Douquet, CEO of Blue Star Families. “Because of Oak Hill and their counterparts in the arts community, military families have the opportunity to create special memories and experience the arts again.”

The free admission program is available for those currently serving in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard – including Reservists — the National Guard, U.S. Public Health Commissioned Corps and NOAA Commissioned Corps, along with up to five family members.

Admission to Oak Hill & The Martha Berry Museum includes docent-led tours through Oak Hill, the home of Berry College founder Martha Berry, and self-guided tours of the Carriage House, historical gardens, and museum galleries.

Guests are encouraged to reserve their tickets online ahead of their visit. Oak Hill & The Martha Berry Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit www.berry.edu/oakhill.