Thuings to do in Cherokee County Friday, Aug. 26

The Family Care Center in the Piggly Wiggly Shopping Center in Centre includes a Thrift Store open to the public Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. The Family Care Center helps others by giving clothing, food and possibly hope to families in their time of need. The Center asks for your help by supporting its thrift stores. There are currently three locations, the one in Centre, another at 5511 Main St. in Hokes Bluff and another in Cedar Bluff. The Center is currently helping more than 100 families per week and thanks the community for its continued support. Director is Cindy McGinnis.

Celebrate Recovery, Centre, meets every Friday at 5 p.m. at the ROC. The following support groups are available: Loved Ones of the Chemically Dependent, Divorce Issues. Meal at 5 p.m., Large Group at 6:15 p.m., Small Groups at 7:30 p. and Grief, Domestic and Sexual Abuse, Men’s Issues, Chemical Dependency, and Emotional. Childcare is provided. For more information call (256) 393-2861 or (256) 927-5427.

Mentone Movie Night featuring the film “Southern Heart” which was filmed party in Mentone, will be shown at 7:45 p.m. Formore information, dall 404-218-6845.

Visit the beautiful Rock Village, home of some of the best hiking and rock climbing throughout the world. Enjoy fresh air and beautiful scenery. Go to the intersection of U.S. Highway, to the intersection of County Road 36 and County Road 70, turn left and follow 411 and Highway 68 in Leesburg, turn right, turn left on Cherokee County 36 the signs.

Visit the historical Cornwall Furnace on Cherokee County Road 92 in Cedar Bluff.

Polk County unemployment rate slightly up for July figures, down from 2015

The unemployment rate went back up for the month of July in Polk County according to preliminary figures released by the Georgia Department of Labor early today. 

The preliminary July 2016 rate came in at 6.3 percent, up one-tenth of a percentage point from the revised June figure of 6.2 percent. 

Polk County’s rate was down eight-tenths of a point from the July 2015 rate of 7.1 percent, according to state figures. 

The number of claims rose slightly from 1,126 in June to 1,160 in July, according to the state’s statistics. 

The unemployment rate in the Northwest Georgia region was unchanged at 5.6 percent from June to July. The rate in July 2015 was 6.4 percent.

While the rate was unchanged, the number of employed residents grew by 3,293 to 386,826. At the same time, the number of unemployed residents rose by 427 to 23,076. The labor force, which consists of employed people and those who are unemployed but actively looking for jobs, grew by 3,720 to 409,902 in July.

The number of initial claims for unemployment insurance rose by 1,677, or 61.8 percent, to 4,390 in July. Most of the increase came in manufacturing and administrative and support services, which includes temporary staffing agencies. And, over the year, claims were up by 755, or 20.8 percent, from 3,635 in July 2015.

Metro Gainesville had the lowest area jobless rate at 4.6 percent, while the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha region had the highest at 7 percent.  

Meanwhile, Georgia’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for July was 5 percent, down from 5.1 percent in June. It was 5.7 percent in July 2015.

Prep Golf: Lady Jackets recognized, receive championship rings

Members of the Calhoun girls golf team will now have a visible reminder of their second straight state championship they earned last season any time they look at their hand.

The Lady Jackets were recognized and presented with their state championship rings prior to last Friday’s Douglass at Calhoun football game at Phil Reeve Stadium. The team defeated Blessed Trinity last May in a playoff at the Class AAA Girls State Tournament in Hephzibah to win their second straight state crown. The team also won their ninth straight region title earlier in the season.

Team members pictured during Friday’s pregame ceremony are: head coach Clay Stephenson (from left), Katie Kauffman, Maddie Crump, Kate Mashburn, Katie Rose Rawls and assistant coach Roger Gresham.

Berry adviser recognized for Viking Fusion website

Steven Hames, adviser and technology specialist for Berry College Department of Communication, has earned a 2016 Honor Roll Broadcast Adviser Award from the College Media Association.

Hames is the adviser for Viking Fusion, a student-run multimedia website that seeks to inform and entertain both the Berry student community and the public. Content on the site is exclusively authored and produced by Berry students.

The Honor Roll Adviser Award is presented to a College Media Association member with fewer than five years’ experience in college media advising who has distinguished him- or herself in the area of service.

“It’s humbling to receive an award for doing a job that I love,” said Hames, who became Viking Fusion’s staff adviser in 2011. “Looking back at Viking Fusion’s accomplishments during my five years at Berry, it makes me proud that I was able to guide them to such success.”

During his time at Berry, Viking Fusion has won and been nominated for multiple awards from national, regional, and state organizations, such as the Southeast Regional EMMY Awards, the Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Awards, the CMA Pinnacle Awards and College Broadcasters, Inc. National Student Production Awards.

“I get to see up close every day his dedication to our students, his leadership of our co-curricular Viking Fusion multimedia news and entertainment hub, and his collaboration across the College to create teaching and learning opportunities for our majors,” said Brian Carroll, professor and chair of the Department of Communication at Berry.

Before coming to Berry, Hames spent 15 years as a producer, director and editor for local television stations in north Georgia. Over the course of his career, he has won six Telly Awards.

“Steven has the unique ability to bridge the gap between being a boss and a friend,” said alumnus Elizabeth Blount. “He empowers his staff to take leadership in their roles in the studio and honors the student-run nature of the organization.”

For more information about the Berry Communication Department and Viking Fusion, go to http://berry.edu/academics/humanities/communication/

The College Media Association is the nation’s largest organization dedicated to serving the needs of collegiate student media programs and their advisers.

 

City of Fairmount awarded GMA Safety and Liability Management Grant

The Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) is proud to announce the City of Fairmount received a Safety Grant check in the amount of $3000, and a Liability Grant check, also in the amount of $3000, for the purchase of body armor, traffic control panels, reflective jackets and warning lights.

Eileen Thomas, marketing field services representative with GMA, said, “This program allows each city to stretch their budget dollars and provide a safer work environment for their employees.”

The GMA Safety and Liability Management Grant program was introduced in 2000 to provide a financial incentive to assist members in improving their employee safety and general public liability loss control efforts through training and the purchase of equipment or services. Since the inception of the program, over 130 cities have received grant money through the program, over 500 grants were approved totaling nearly $1.5 million to fund items such as bulletproof vests, training videos, confined space entry equipment, reflective safety vests, fire department turnout gear and police department in-vehicle video systems. These grant funds have helped leverage the purchase of over $2.6 million in this type of equipment training.

The City of Fairmount purchased body armor, puncture/cut resistant gloves and reflective jackets for the Fairmount Police Department. The city purchased warning lights for street department vehicles and heavy equipment and high visibility clothing was also purchased for the street department.

The Safety and Liability Management Grant program is made available to members of GMA’s property and liability insurance program (the Georgia Interlocal Risk Management Agency) and GMA’s workers’ compensation insurance program (GMA Workers’ Compensation Self-Insurance fund).

Based in Atlanta, GMA is a voluntary, on-profit organization that provides legislative advocacy, educational, employee benefit and consulting services to its over 500 member cities.

EDITORIAL: Georgia ‘Freedom’ rankings offer something to chew on

Georgia gets a middling score in libertarian Cato Institute’s “Freedom in the 50 States” rankings, a list that measures such things as the tax burden, regulatory policy and personal freedom.

A dim view of restrictive governmental policies is taken by the “Freedom” authors, William P. Ruger, vice president of policy and research at the Charles Koch Institute and Foundation, and Jason Sorens, lecturer in the Department of Government at Dartmouth College.

“We weight public policies according to the estimated costs that government restrictions on freedom impose on their victims,” assert Ruger and Sorens.

The term “victims” gives you a clue to the libertarian thinking of the authors, who rank the states on more than 200 policies “encompassing fiscal policy, regulatory policy and personal freedom.”

Components of the rankings include:

  • fiscal policy, 29.5 to 32 percent — including state and local taxes, government subsidies and debt;
  • regulatory policy, 38.7 percent — including land use freedom 10.5 percent and local rent control 6 percent, health insurance freedom 7.4 percent, labor market freedom 5.7 percent (including general right to work 2.8 percent;
  • personal freedom, 29.4 percent — including arrests and incarceration 6.6 percent, marriage freedom 4 percent (including same-sex partnership laws counting for 2.2 percent), education 3.2 percent, gun control 3.2 percent, alcohol 2.9 percent (including blue laws, and marijuana freedom 2.1 percent.)

On those policies, Georgia is ranked 22nd among the states, down seven points from the last “Freedom” list in 2012. The state had a low of 27 in 2006 and a high of 12 in 2010. The latest ranking puts Georgia just ahead of Alabama, ranked 23.

As for other states in the Southeast, Tennessee is 6 on the “Freedom” list, Florida is 8, South Carolina 15, and Mississippi 36. The top five are, in order, New Hampshire, Alaska, Oklahoma, Indiana and South Dakota. The bottom five: Maryland at 46, New Jersey 47, Hawaii 48, California 49 and New York 50.

The Cato authors credit Georgia as one of the fastest growing states in the South, “perhaps due in part to one of the best regulatory environments in the region.” In addition, Georgia’s “fiscal situation has been improving as well.”

Other factors cited in Georgia’s favor include: state tax collections, at 4.5 percent of personal income, are significantly below the national average, although local taxes (4.3 percent of income) are a little higher than the average. Subsidies to businesses are lower than the national average and debt is substantially lower, while government employment has declined from 13.2 percent of private jobs in 2010 to 12 percent in 2014.

Georgia “does well on labor and land-use policy,” with a right-to-work law and no minimum wage, “a relatively good civil liability system,” but “does poorly on occupational freedom” — with licensing “a bit broader than the national average, and health care professions face generally tight scope-of-practice rules.”

On personal freedom, the Cato authors cite high incarceration rates and failure to reform civil asset forfeiture sufficiently — but say Georgia is “one of the best states for educational freedom, scores well on gun rights and regulates tobacco use lightly compared with most other states.” And at the end of 2014, “it was also one of the worst states for marriage freedom.”

Thus, policy recommendations by the authors for Georgia include cutting out business subsidies and liberalizing the health care professions, such as allowing dental hygienists to clean teeth without a dentist present in safety-net clinics, nursing homes, school clinics and federally qualified health centers — a freedom allowed in 45 other states.

That’s something to chew on, no doubt, but don’t expect such changes to come about any time soon, the Cato recommendations notwithstanding. Legislation providing for such practice died in the Georgia General Assembly last session because of opposition from the state dental association.

The “Freedom” rankings tell us Georgia has plenty of room for improvement. And that’s up to its citizens. Which brings to mind the oft-quoted admonition: “Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.”

 

Things to do in Cherokee County Thursday, Aug. 25

The Family Care Center in the Piggly Wiggly Shopping Center in Centre includes a Thrift Store open to the public Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. The Family Care Center helps others by giving clothing, food and possibly hope to families in their time of need. The Center asks for your help by supporting its thrift stores. There are currently three locations, the one in Centre, another at 5511 Main St. in Hokes Bluff and another in Cedar Bluff. The Center is currently helping more than 100 families per week and thanks the community for its continued support. Director is Cindy McGinnis.

The Cherokee Historical Museum Arts and Crafts class with crafter Pam Dean will be held from noon until 5 p.m. at the museum. Call Kathy Marko for more information at 256-927-7835.

Cloud Farrow teaches an Art Class Thursdays from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Cherokee County Public Library Participants are urged to bring two Number Two pencils and an 8 X 10 sketchbook.

The next meeting of the Historical Preservation Society of Cherokee County is Thursday, Aug. 25, beginning at 6 p.m. Refreshments will be served and a quick business meeting will be held, followed by the program. The presenter, Sonny Lane, is a native and current resident of the Tucker’s Chapel community. Sonny majored in biology and chemistry at Jacksonville State University. He worked in the lab at Alabama Power for 8 years and was involved in research and development. He was at the Leesburg site and was involved in setting the specifications and testing the soil and concrete used in the dam and dikes of Weiss Lake. Those attending will learn how their work insured our safety. Sonny was later employed in the of the marble facility, Sylacauga Calcium in Sylacauga, AL. He worked in their lab for 40 years. He will share about the work he did there and the many products we use every day containing products from this plant. The meeting is free to the public.

TheatreCentre will hold auditions for its next show, No Time For Sergeants, Wednesday and Thursday, Aug. 24 and Aug. 25 at 7 p.m. at 22-West Main St. in Centre. Twenty men of all ages, 17 and over, will be east for this play which is built around the original black and white 1957 movie of the same name. Scripts for the auditions will be supplied. The actors selected will be cast for the show Nov. 12, 13, 14, 2016. You may contact director Gary Davis at 256-927-9516 or 256-484-1344. No prior experience is required.

The Tech Corner: Aug. 24, 2016 edition

Data overage charges

AT&T is dropping overage charges for mobile data plans. Instead of charging extra fees, it will slow down the connections of users who exceed their monthly data allowance.

The move is accompanied by a general price increase, though it will only affect new customers or those existing customers who choose to change plans.

T-Mobile dropped overage charges in 2014. Customers who hit their data allowance aren’t charged but get a slower connection for the rest of the month unless they buy a data “top up.”

Verizon introduced an optional “Safety Mode” that lets customers have a reduced speed rather than pay overages. Choosing this option carries a $5 per month fee.

With all three carriers, the reduced speed after hitting a data limit is 128 kilobits per second, approximately equivalent to 2G mobile speeds. This is just about fast enough for emails and basic web browsing, with painful waits, but it makes audio or video streaming nearly unusable.

The problem appeared to be driven by tablet users who consumed more data than expected due to watching full-screen, high-definition video.

Windows 10 anniversary update causes lockups

Microsoft has confirmed some Windows 10 computers may freeze up after the latest update. It says starting in Safe mode is one way to get around the problem while a permanent fix is developed. Users will just have to be patient and use their computers in this reduced performance mode that many do not even know how to enter. In Windows 10 the traditional ‘tap the F8 key before Windows starts’ to get into Safe Mode has been disabled.

Microsoft states that users can roll back the update. Doing so in Safe Mode is a little different to the normal process, so Microsoft has published the steps to do so.

Audi to reveal red light secrets

Audi will soon fit its cars with a technology that can coordinate with traffic lights in several US cities. The new feature is being built into an existing navigation and information service called Audi Connect, with a $25 a month service fee. The theory is that this will let drivers figure out whether they have time to safely attend to other measures such as checking on a child in the back seat, or checking their smart phone before returning their attention to driving.

The countdown will disappear from the screen with around three seconds to go.

Audi says that’s intended to stop drivers using the information to help them in impromptu races with neighboring cars while waiting for the lights to turn green.

Australian porn site members targeted school girls for nude images

Members of a pornography website targeted dozens of Australian schools so they could view and swap graphic sexual images of female students and other non-consenting women.

News.com reports that members of the site have posted and shared more than 2,000 images. Those nude photos made their way to the forum after users nominated a specific high school or region along with the full names of girls they were “hunting.”

Other members then “contributed” by looking up personal information about the targeted women, including their physical addresses, phone numbers, and links to their social media profiles. News.com does not say how site members obtained nude photos of their victims. Those with more technical expertise might have obtained the images by infecting their victims with a remote access Trojan. Then demanding sexual content in exchange for the return of their “slaved” computer.

Victims have responded by asking that their pictures be taken down. Most of them are ignored, some have been laughed at and ridiculed.

Criminals earn $195K in July with cerber ransomware affiliate scheme

Check Point Software, along with IntSights, have released a detailed report on the Cerber Ransomware and its Ransomware as a Service affiliate system.

The revenue generated by the Cerber affiliate system is staggering, with Cerber generating $195,000 in profits for July and the malware developer taking a 40 percent cut from this total. This equated to the malware developer making $78,000 in July and a forecasted $946,000 for the year!

Check Point, discovered Cerber in February 2016 when the malware developer posted about the new ransomware on an underground criminal web site in order to recruit affiliates.

The Cerber developer manages the Command and Control servers, the affiliate system, the support center, and the programming of the ransomware, while the affiliates would distribute the ransomware in order to infect victims. Both the developer and the affiliate would then split the ransom payments, with the developer keeping 40 percent of the profits and 60 percent going to the distributor.

Distribution campaigns performed by Cerber affiliates include email campaigns and other methods.

The shark ransomware project allows you to create your own customizerd ransomware

A new Ransomware as a Service called the Shark Ransomware Project has been discovered. The Shark Ransomware Project offers would-be criminals the ability to create their own customized ransomware without needing any technical experience by filling out a form and clicking a button.

Visa alert and update on the Oracle breach

Credit card giant Visa on Friday issued a security alert warning companies using point-of-sale devices made by Oracle‘s MICROS retail unit to double-check the machines for malicious software or unusual network activity, and to change passwords on the devices. Visa also published a list of Internet addresses that may have been involved in the Oracle breach and are thought to be closely tied to an Eastern European organized cybercrime gang.

When Oracle bought MICROS in 2014, the company said MICROS’s systems were deployed at some 200,000+ food and beverage outlets, 100,000+ retail sites, and more than 30,000 hotels.Oracle urged MICROS customers to change their passwords, and said “we also recommend that you change the password for any account that was used by a MICROS representative to access your systems.”

Health department promotes long-acting reversible contraception to help prevent unintended pregnancy

One particular type of birth control, or contraception, offered by the Floyd County Health Department isn’t new but is getting new attention. Among the reasons: it’s safe, more than 99 percent effective and acceptable to large numbers of sexually active girls and women. It’s known as LARC — long-acting reversible contraception.

LARCs are reversible birth control techniques that are safe, help prevent unintended pregnancy, last for an extended period of time and don’t depend on your remembering to take or use them to be effective. LARCs include intrauterine devices (IUDs) like Liletta and Paragard and contraceptive implants like Nexplanon that prevent ovulation.

But despite their advantages over other forms of birth control, such as the pill and condoms, LARCs are not widely understood or appreciated. So much so that the health department is currently trying to increase awareness in the community about the effectiveness and safety of this high-quality, low-cost form of birth control.

“Unlike other forms of birth control,” Floyd County Health Department Nurse Manager Alison Watson says, “LARCs require no user intervention, work over long periods of time and can be reversed. They are safe and highly effective in preventing unintended pregnancies.”

“Easily reversible when a woman decides to have a baby, LARCs are designed to provide birth-control coverage from three to ten years based on the type of device chosen,” Watson says. LARCs available to U.S. women have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Watson is quick to point out that the health department offers other methods of contraception besides LARCs, such as Depo-Provera shots, the pill, the ring and condoms. “We believe every woman should have complete information about all contraceptives and be able to choose the method that is right for her without cost or access barriers.”

Watson explains that “LARCs could help further drive down teen pregnancy rates and could also help many young adults avoid unintended pregnancies and single parenthood.” According to the National Survey of Family Growth, 51% of pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended, which increases the risk of poor health outcomes for mothers and babies, including delayed access to prenatal care, preterm birth and physical and mental health problems.

Birth control is just one of many low-or-no-cost family planning services provided by the Floyd County Health Department.

Others include:

  • Health history and physical exam
  • Counseling and education
  • Treatment and referral services
  • Pregnancy testing and counseling
  • Reproductive life planning
  • Full range of birth control options, including LARCs
  • Screening and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV/AIDS

Contact the Floyd County Health Department at 706-295-6123 or visit http://nwgapublichealth.org/counties/floyd/ for additional information about birth control and family-planning services.