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Gang activity on the rise here

By Rachel McDaniel Lamar County’s increasing gang activity, the April 10 Relay for Life event and the May 2 Color of the Pig 5K were the focus of the Lamar County Family Connection Collaborative meeting March 12. Collaborative team members heard from Barnesville Police Department Capt. Maggie Moreland who asked for help combatting local gang activity. Several people signed up to be contacted for upcoming meetings and others are asked to join as well. ’We have three gangs trying to form here in Lamar County,’ said Capt. Moreland. ‘These gang members are going out and jumping on and beating up kids who have said they don’t want to join the gangs. We’ve got to find an answer and figure out how to save these kids because they are our future. Also, we are looking to be more involved in community events and if anyone would like to have an officer present, please call us.’ Superintendent Jute Wilson said the problem with gangs is starting as early as middle school aged kids. The Relay for Life theme for 2015 is ’30 Years Strong, Cancer’s On The Run’ and will be held from 6 p.m. Friday, April 10 through midnight. ’This year for Lamar County, our goal is to have 17 teams made up through community organizations, we are hoping to have 160 participants and raise $28,000,’ said Barnesville-Lamar County Chamber of Commerce president Marshall Hooks. ‘All of these goals are very attainable. We currently have 49 participants and we have raised around $6,500 already and most of the money won’t be turned in before bank night which will be held March 31 at United Bank from 5 to 7 p.m. It’s a time when all teams and volunteers will come together and turn in all the donations they have raised. If anyone raises $100 on their own, they will receive a Relay for Life t-shirt and those who raise over $1,000 will receive a polo shirt.’ Members of the collaborative asked about the effects of Relay locally and heard from Relay leadership team member and county nurse manager Sherry Farr who said many Lamar County residents benefited from funds raised at last year’s Relay for Life. ’Last year we had eight families from Lamar County stay at the Hope Lodge and thousands were spent to house them so Relay has a measurable and significant impact on people in the community. The Hope Lodge is a way for families to stay together when someone is going through cancer treatments,’ said Farr. ‘The funds we raise through Relay also help purchase gas cards to help people travel back and forth for treatments.’ The Cancer Survivor dinner will be held April 2 at DB’s Pizzeria from 4 to 6 p.m. to recognize survivors and hear their stories. County nurse manager Farr shared good news about the Low Birth Weight Strategy Team. She informed members that Kaiser will again fund the region, providing around $15,000 to continue the initiative. ’We have brought on an intern from Gordon and are in the process of replacing our case manager,’ she said. ‘The next meeting is set for May 4 at 12 noon at the library. We are also planning another event on the Gordon campus to provide a wellness program.’ Collaborative members also reported: ’¢ The Women’s League and Rotary Blood Drive will be held from 1 to 6 p.m. Thursday, March 26 at First United Methodist Church, 375 Thomaston Street. To schedule an appointment, go to redcrossblood. com, sponsor code lamar. Homemade cookies and drinks will be provided as a snack for donors. ’¢ A chamber of commerce ribbon cutting ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, March 20 at Volume Chevrolet. ’¢ The REACH program requires local funding to provide scholarships for underprivileged students. Superintendent Dr. Jute Wilson said based on the poverty level in the county, a local contribution of $1,500 can provide a student with a minimum scholarship of $10,000 up to $30,000. Funds are still being raised but enough support has been promised to secure three of the five scholarships offered through REACH. ’¢ Adult education classes are offered for free in Lamar and surrounding counties and there are GED test scholarships available as well. ’¢ Wellness visits at the primary school were given to 36 children covered by Medicaid. Farr said several kids were found to have hearing and vision issues and the checkups should help to increase the educational level of those kids. ’¢ That Mark Stone, Maggie Moreland and Henry Johnson attended executive board meetings in February and March and may become new members.

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