Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Rare Transit of Venus Visible in June

If the sky is clear, the University of West Georgia Observatory will be open to the public to observe the transit on June 5, from 6 p.m. until 7:30 p.m.

In June, observers of the sky will be able to witness one of the rarest celestial events in the solar system, the transit of Venus.

Sky-watchers will see Venus pass directly between the Earth and the sun, similar to what happens during a solar eclipse when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun. Because of its distance from the Earth, instead of blotting out the sun, Venus will look like a small dot as it makes its journey.

Bob Powell, the chairman of UWG’s Department of Physics, saw the last transit of Venus on June 8, 2004.

“It was awesome,” Powell said. "The transit was ending as the sun rose that day. Seeing the small black dot that was Venus against the much larger solar disk gives one a sense of the scale of the solar system, since Venus and the Earth are about the same size.”

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Importance of Memorial Day

By Henry Dreyer

Note: Henry Dreyer, a Carrollton resident, served in the U.S. Navy Submarine Service. His first duty station was at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii where he served on a fast attack submarine. He recalls his opportunity to take place in a Pearl Harbor Day ceremony on the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial.

I arrived at Pearl Harbor Naval Station in autumn of 1980 with orders to join a spanking new fast-attack submarine. The U.S.S. New York City was built in Connecticut and she traversed the Panama Canal to Hawaii where she would be home-ported in Pearl Harbor for many years to come.

As is the case with many new vessels, mechanical difficulties were discovered and she went into dry dock for repairs and that is where she was the first time that I saw her. Because my boat was not going to sea for a while, plus my very junior status, I was picked for many and various shore duty assignments.

One day my chief said to me, “You will be part of the annual December 7th ceremony on the Arizona Memorial, so get your uniform ready and don’t be late!”

Those were words that I really didn’t want to hear. I wanted to stay out late and do all the fun things that red-blooded American sailors do when they are not on a ship at sea, but at a most uncivilized hour on the following morning I reported in my dress white crackerjack uniform to the small boat pier from which about 100 sailors would leave for the Arizona Memorial for that service.

A short while later I was one of the formation of rows of sailors and marines called to attention on the Memorial. The attending chaplain called for a moment of silence to honor the dead. As we stood above the sunken Arizona and the 1,700 brave men for whom it was a tomb, I was transported in time to that morning 40 years ago, the “Day of Infamy” in the stirring words of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, when the world came apart for the American people.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Aimee Copeland Inspires Many to Donate Blood

The recent blood drive in honor of Aimee Copeland at the University of West Georgia exceeded expectations so much that the school and the Shepeard Community Blood Center will team up to host another one.

In all, 163 people registered to donate blood on May 15. Blood was drawn from 127 people and 113 good units were collected, said Pamela Rascon, director of community resources, for the Shepeard Community Blood Center.

Because of the wait time, 15 people had to leave. Another 75 left their names and telephone numbers for the second blood drive, which will be on the UWG campus on Friday, June 1, from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. It will be in the HPE Gym, across the street from the UWG bookstore.

“The University of West Georgia community wishes to thank all of the people who donated blood in honor of Aimee Copeland. We are very grateful for their support,” said Dr. Beheruz N. Sethna, president of the university and professor of business administration.

“We continue to send our very best wishes for her recovery and ask everyone to keep her in their thoughts and prayers as she continues her fight,” he said.

Copeland, a UWG graduate student in psychology, contracted a rare bacterial infection after the homemade zip line she was on snapped, sending her into the Little Tallapoosa River on May 1. To save her life, doctors amputated Copeland’s leg. She is undergoing treatment at the Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta, Ga.

“On behalf of Shepeard Community Blood Center, the Copelands, our service hospitals and patients in need, a heartfelt ‘Thank You’ for such a warm and welcome response Tuesday at the University of West Georgia,” Rascon said. “We see now why Aimee loves the environment so much: such a beautiful campus, such a warm feeling of fellowship and such an outpouring of love from the community.”

Copeland received blood as part of her treatment at the JMS Burn Center. Her family and friends want to honor her and help the many patients there by donating blood to the Shepeard Community Blood Center, Rascon said. “We are humbled and amazed at their [the Copelands] strength and ability to look beyond their personal situation and even desire to step out for a cause with their beautiful daughter in crisis.”

Shepeard is the contracted provider of the blood used by the JMS Burn Center.  Blood donations will help Shepeard rebuild the supply at the JMS Burn Center and the 20 local hospitals it serves.

Richard E. La Fleur, a friend and fellow graduate student in UWG’s Department of Psychology, spoke with Andy Cooper, her father, on May 16. “Aimee wanted to read yesterday. Her sister Paige got a book on meditation and read almost the entire book to Aimee,” La Fleur said. “Aimee did all the mediations her sister asked her to do. Andy said it was a great day for Aimee.”

Monday, May 14, 2012

'Miracle Man' was in the right place when heart attack hit

by Colton Campbell/Times-Georgian

He had been complaining about chest pains all day, but he wrote it off as indigestion. When the people he works with suggested he see a doctor, he said, “No, I’m fine.”

Villa Rica Elementary School Principal Charles Johnson found himself in a doctor’s office later that day, but he was with his wife, Nancy, at Carrollton Orthopaedic. She was getting an epidural to help her ailing back.

Johnson’s chest started hurting “really bad” in the doctor’s office, and a nurse confirmed that he was having a heart attack.

“There was an auto defibrillator there, and they were able to save my life using that,” Johnson said.

The 24-year veteran of the Carroll County School System was taken to Tanner Medical Center, where he came to be known as “Miracle Man.” He spent nine more days at Tanner, spending six in ICU.

His doctors told him he died several times on the table and that he lost oxygen to his brain for 30 minutes. That has caused some short-term memory loss, which Johnson said has been the worst after-effect.

He suffered the massive heart attack Feb. 21 from a widowmaker clot in the left anterior coronary artery.

Even though doctors thought he was not going to be able to survive, he did.

Read more:Times-Georgian - Miracle Man was in the right place when heart attack hit

Friday, May 4, 2012

Tanner Park Set to Come Under County Control

Alexander Wyatt, 1, of Mt. Zion calls out to his mother Wednesday while at the beach at John Tanner Park. Alexander was joined by his 2-year-old brother, Skylar. They visit the park several days a week, swimming and playing on the playground. (Photo by Cliff Williams/Times-Georgian)
Alexander Wyatt, 1, of Mt. Zion calls out to his mother Wednesday while at the beach at John Tanner Park. Alexander was joined by his 2-year-old brother, Skylar. They visit the park several days a week, swimming and playing on the playground. (Photo by Cliff Williams/Times-Georgian)

John Tanner Park was built in 1954 as a local recreation site, operated by its namesake, a Carrollton business owner, until joining the state park system in 1971.

In July, it will officially become a county park with the finalization of an agreement between the state of Georgia and Carroll County. It has been operated by the county since July 1, 2010.

“The state was planning to close the park, so the county stepped in and took over,” said county parks Director Trudy Crunkleton. “The county was pleased to have it back because of what it means to the citizens here.”

She said there are several steps in the transfer process and most of them have been completed. The final one will be when the Legislature and governor approve the deal and the papers are signed in July.

The county will pay $77,000 in the deal for the park, although it’s not actually a purchase, but a pact worked out with the state to pay off bonds, she said.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

UWG Students Help with Newnan Planning Efforts

For generations, the Chalk Level neighborhood in Newnan was the nexus of African-American life in Coweta County, before the Civil War and afterward. Doctors, teachers, laborers lived and thrived there. Business owners, restaurateurs, beauticians and funeral directors prospered. Today, the neighborhood is the focus of efforts to revitalize the parts that have fallen into decay.
This house, at 61 Pinson Street in the Chalk Level neighborhood of Newnan, was once the home of Dr. John Henry Jordan.“This was a very affluent neighborhood,” said Rebecca Gibson, who grew up in Chalk Level and worships at Newnan Chapel United Methodist Church. Established more than 170 years ago, it is the oldest black church in Newnan.
“It thrived through the 1960s,” Gibson said. She moved away, but came back in 1998 to work for the Coweta County School System, returning to her childhood home with her mother. “The black high school was in the area. There were teachers, principals. Because of segregation, it was a mixed-income neighborhood. Maids lived next door to teachers and doctors.”
But now many of those houses are vacant or used as rentals. Commercial properties need sprucing up. Businesses need to re-establish themselves. Newnan’s planning department is working with neighborhood residents on a redevelopment plan that will breath new life and bring more resources into the neighborhood.
This spring, University of West Georgia students helped the process. They were in the housing and community development class taught by Hee-Jung Jun, an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science and Planning. The dozen students walked the neighborhood and photographed its streets. They organized a community meeting, prepared and analyzed a residents’ survey and offered Newnan city officials some preliminary recommendations.
“Certain parts of the neighborhood are pretty good and stable,” Jun said. “But rental rates are very high. They need to increase home ownership.”
The students learned what it takes to develop a neighborhood plan: how to collect and analyze data, and how to put together a report. They delivered to Newnan a document that can be used as a guide for the future. In the coming weeks, city officials will discuss the preliminary recommendations and decide what to do next.
The experience was invaluable. “In class they talked about the theory. But when we went on the walk, we saw the real-life conditions,” said Jared Ogle, a graduate student who worked on the maps as well as the community facilities and land use sections of the project. “They didn’t want gentrification, with old houses torn down and the neighborhood losing its identity. They wanted more activities for younger children. They wanted child-friendly amenities.”
The process was hard but enjoyable, said grad student Quinderious Roberts, who researched the neighborhood’s history, analyzed the population and studied the area’s circulation patterns.
“The best way to get accurate information about a neighborhood is to go there, meet the residents, communicate with them,” Roberts said. “You can analyze all the data you want, but you will never gain perspective unless you conduct field research.”
Among the students’ preliminary recommendations: offer tax incentives to buyers or developers to renovate older housing, or build new homes that fit in with the neighborhood; develop a community center; add sidewalks and improve the existing ones; add green space; and help older residents with the maintenance of their homes.
“Chalk Level presents the best opportunity for immediate results,” said Dana Ethredge, a city planner. Ethredge graduated from UWG in 2005 with a B.S. in political science and planning. In 2009, she received her masters in public administration. Tracy Dunnavant, Newnan’s planning and zoning director, suggested Ethredge contact her alma mater about the project.
“There are a few community-oriented programs already in existence,” Ethredge said. “In recent times [Chalk Level] has declined, but it is starting to come back.”
The neighborhood declined as owners aged and were unable to tend to their properties. In some cases when homeowners passed away their heirs had moved away and were no longer interested in the homes. But more recently, property owners have made a concerted effort to improve the neighborhood and former Chalk Level residents returned. They “want to bring the neighborhood back to what it once was,” Ethredge said.
Ethredge said the long-vacant Harold Warner building could become a community center. The former school building, named for a longtime educator who lived in Chalk Level, is in the center of the neighborhood. Broad Street and Martin Luther King Drive are Chalk Level’s north-south boundaries. Wall and Ball streets form, roughly, the west-east boundaries for the 240-acre neighborhood. Its housing stock includes brick ranches, craftsman, Queen Anne and Victorian houses. About 2,300 people live in the neighborhood, which remains largely African-American.
Newnan has made improvements to sidewalks in the neighborhood and added or improved retaining walls. “We are trying to build on those investments,” Ethredge said.
The city’s Urban Redevelopment Agency will be looking at other neighborhoods and may ask for assistance from UWG students again, she said.
The students’ efforts and their ideas are welcomed, said Gibson, who is president of the Chalk Level Association. The neighborhood is ripe for redevelopment and has a lot going for it: it is close to Ashley Park mall, Piedmont Newnan Hospital and I-85. Downtown Newnan is a short walk away.
“We recognize that there are things that needs to be changed,” said Gibson who retired as principal of Poplar Road Elementary School in 2008. She earned her B.A. in political science in 1971 and her Ed.S. in 1986 then-West Georgia College.
“I thought the university did a fantastic job,” Gibson said. “The students’ findings and recommendations were based on what the community said. I was very impressed with them.”