Saturday, October 31, 2009

EMC Linemen in Georgia Climb to the Top in International Competition

/PRNewswire/ -- Electric cooperatives in Georgia ranked among the top 10 in the nation during the 26th Annual International Lineman's Rodeo held October 17 in Bonner Springs, Kansas.

EMC journeymen (the highest qualified individuals) and apprentices (those in the first four years of linemen training) placed in the top 10 among 153 teams and 215 apprentices.

"This competition draws the most talented and dedicated line workers from across the nation and showcases these workers and the skills that are required of them to get the lights back on for millions of Georgians and others," said Jim Wright, Georgia EMC vice president of training, education and safety.

Journeymen and apprentices from across the country, representing electric cooperatives, investor-owned utilities and municipalities, participated in the competition which tests skills in pole-climbing, hurt-man rescue, transformer repair and high-voltage line-insulator changes.

According to Wright, the primary purpose of the event is to promote safety and safe work practices and to provide a forum for the public to better understand and appreciate the exceptional performance of linemen.

In this year's rodeo, Snapping Shoals EMC in Covington placed second among 153 teams in the Overall Journeyman Division. In addition, journeymen teams from Snapping Shoals EMC in Covington, Carroll EMC in Carrollton and GreyStone Power in Douglasville won first, third and sixth places, respectively, in the EMC Journeyman Division.

In 2009, EMC apprentices were formidable contenders as well. An apprentice with Walton EMC ranked fourth nationwide among 215 competitors in the Overall Apprentice Division. And, apprentices with Walton EMC in Monroe won first and third places, while a lineman with GreyStone Power of Douglasville won sixth place in the EMC Apprentice Division.

"Few people understand what is required of a lineman," said Wright. " EMC linemen and apprentices in Georgia are among the best in their field and across the nation. The rodeo and the success of these line workers reinforces what we've known for some time--that EMC linemen in Georgia are experts and will go above and beyond to keep the lights on, and they'll perform the work with safety for themselves and the public foremost on their minds."

Georgia EMC is the statewide trade association representing the state's 42 EMCs, Oglethorpe Power Corp., Georgia Transmission Corp. and Georgia System Operations Corp. Collectively, Georgia's customer-owned EMCs provide electricity and related services to four million people, nearly half of Georgia's population, across 73 percent of the state's land area.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Grady Hospital Awarded Medal of Honor for Organ Donor Program

Grady Health System today announced the receipt of a National Medal of Honor from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for saving lives through organ donation in 2009. More than 104,000 are people listed for an organ transplant nationwide; in Georgia close to 3,000 people are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant. For the third year in a row, Grady received this special recognition for achieving and sustaining national organ donation goals.

Grady works closely with LifeLink of Georgia, a non-profit community service organization dedicated to the recovery of life-saving and life-enhancing organs and tissue for transplantation therapy, to develop best practices for sensitively encouraging organ donation. In the past four years, Grady has seen continued success in donation rates. Because of this, the hospital has achieved a donation rate of 75 percent or more of eligible donors during a 22-month award period (ending in April 2009). The conversion rate is the number of successful donors divided by the number of eligible donors.

“When we joined the collaborative in 2003, our conversion rate was about 38 percent,” said Gaynell Miller, vice president of Patient Care Services and Grady’s organ donation collaborative champion. “By implementing best practices, we met the national goal of 75% conversion rate in 2006 and sustained it for the following year which made us eligible for our first award in 2007. Since then we have been able to exceed and sustain the national organ donor conversion rate and, in so doing, have helped save countless lives. We are very proud to be receiving an award for the 3rd year in a row, because this is validation that we have respected the patients’ and families’ rights to have this end of life choice and participated in making more organs available for those in need.”

Every day, about 77 people get a transplant that gives them a second chance, but nearly 19 others die because then they did not. Chances of getting a transplant increase if a donor and recipient share the same racial and ethnic backgrounds, but more than half of the people on the waiting list for a donated organ are racial or ethnic minorities. Grady’s organ donation program includes a special focus on helping families understand the donation process and deal with the difficult questions that may come up, including religious, ethnic and medical concerns.

For information about the National Learning Congress and the Medal of Honor visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at To learn more about organ and tissue donation in Georgia visit LifeLink at and to designate your decision to be an organ, tissue and eye donor sign-up on Donate Life Georgia’s Organ and Tissue Donor Registry at or call 1-866-57-SHARE (74273).

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Earl and Wanda Barrs Named 2009 National Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year

The American Tree Farm System® (ATFS) has named Earl and Wanda Barrs as its 2009 National Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year. The Barrs received the award during the 16th Annual National Tree Farmer Convention in Washington, D.C. on September 30. This annual award recognizes outstanding sustainable forest management on family owned woodlands. The Barrs own Gully Branch Tree Farm in Bleckley County, Georgia.

Every year, ATFS, a program of the American Forest Foundation, recognizes outstanding sustainable forest management for wood, water, wildlife, and recreation on privately owned woodlands across the country with national, regional, and state awards.

Earl and Wanda’s Gully Branch Tree Farm holds a unique spot in the history of the Barrs family. Earl’s family first settled the land in the late 1800s. His great grandparents share-cropped the land and raised their family there. Earl’s grandfather, James, was born on that farm. In the 1930s the land was up for sale for nine bales of cotton. Unfortunately, the family was unable to purchase it.

In the mid 1980s, Earl and Wanda were able to purchase 411 acres of the original farmland from a timber company that had purchased the farm in the 1950s. Now, expanded to 1,500 acres, the Tree Farm is a distinctive blend of heritage, venue for education, and personal experience for the Barrs’ role as private landowners.

Earl describes Gully Branch as a “work in progress,” and it is, just that. After acquiring the land from the timber company, the Barrs spent countless hours, endless energy, and ample resources to transform the industrially managed land into an esteemed, family-managed tree farm. Acres of topsoil piled high in windrows from the previous industrial owner was redistributed to yield more productive viewing and wildlife food plots, as well as acres of better quality soils.

Gully Branch is host to a variety of forest stands and soil types, elevations, vegetation, and wildlife. Loblolly pine plantations and natural loblolly and short leaf pine stands, as well as stands of upland and bottomland hardwoods are managed across the tree farm. Ponds are host to catfish, bream, largemouth bass, and grass carp. Above the waters and trees, red-headed woodpeckers, bluebirds, herons, kingfishers, and Canada geese take their respective “birds-eye” view of this well-managed forested land.

Earl and Wanda’s “work in progress” also includes influencing better management of woodlands by providing property tours, as well as political involvement, media relations, and taking on leadership assignments with natural resource groups.

If this is not enough, telling the story of Gully Branch should include counting visitors to the Tree Farm. Gully Branch as been used as one of the state’s premier outdoor classrooms since 1994. It began that year by hosting 100 seventh graders, and has grown annually to include some 700 to 900 students annually. Since 1994, more than 6,000 students have visited Gully Branch as part of forestry education field trips rooted in the American Forest Foundation’s Project Learning Tree® environmental education program.

As one third grade teacher said, after participating in an educational workshop and field trip to Gully Branch Tree Farm: “This was truly the best workshop I have ever attended” . . . what better way to learn than to ‘leave no child inside.’ Gully Branch Tree Farm was a joy to visit.”

As Wanda Barrs points out, “We believe leading follows learning. When we ensure learners of all ages are equipped with the facts, then the opportunity for effective leadership is greatly enhanced.”

Bob Simpson, AFF senior vice president of forestry, lauds Earl and Wanda. “Every year, we at the American Forest Foundation commit ourselves to the recognition of family forest owners like the Barrs. As winners of this year's National Outstanding Tree Farmer award, Earl's sustainable forestry practices and Wanda's gifts as an educator help ensure land like theirs will continue for the enjoyment for future generations."

The National Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year awards are generously sponsored by Stihl, Inc. the world's leading chain saw manufacturer and a variety of handheld outdoor power equipment.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter Helps Launch New Book for Young Readers With Habitat for Humanity and Candlewick Press

/PRNewswire/ -- Today, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter signed copies of a new book for young readers published by Candlewick Press that tells the true-life stories of Habitat for Humanity volunteers and homeowners working to build simple, decent and affordable housing.

If I Had a Hammer: Building Homes and Hope with Habitat for Humanity by David Rubel, with a foreword by Carter and an afterword by Habitat CEO Jonathan Reckford, is now available nationally wherever books are sold.

Fans, both young and young at heart, gathered for the book signing at The Jimmy Carter Library and Museum at The Carter Center in Atlanta.

Carter, who is often referred to as Habitat's most famous volunteer, writes in the book's foreword, "There is no question that helping to create a decent home for a partner family is a significant act of giving, but volunteers typically find that they receive something in return that is even more valuable: a feeling of satisfaction and a connection to other people. Knowing that you worked alongside other volunteers to change a family's life is a powerful feeling that you will want to experience again and again."

The 160-page hardcover book is divided into eight chapters featuring stories of Habitat homeowners and volunteers at build sites in the United States and around the world, and is stunningly illustrated with full-color photos. If I Had a Hammer also tells the story of Habitat's early beginnings in rural Georgia and explores topics from interesting home design (like using window bars in India to keep monkeys out of houses) to the emotional rewards of helping to build a house from the ground up.

"We are immensely grateful to President Carter for his dedicated service and the inspiration he and Mrs. Carter have provided to volunteers," said Reckford. "It is our hope that 'If I Had A Hammer' will inspire a new generation of volunteers to get involved and help create better and safer communities."

Rubel, who authored the book, also has written the Scholastic Encyclopedia of the Presidents and Their Times, the Scholastic Atlas of the United States, and The Coming Free, a book for adults about the civil right movement. Rubel is a graduate of Columbia University and lives in Chatham, N.Y.

"At the heart of this book are the stories that people--homeowners, volunteers, staff-- shared with me about their experiences with Habitat for Humanity and, in particular, the Carter Work Projects. I know these stories will move young readers, because they certainly moved me," said Rubel.

"Candlewick Press is so proud to be the publisher of David Rubel's fascinating and moving tribute to the extraordinary accomplishments, history, and people of Habitat for Humanity. We hope the book helps inspire volunteers of all ages for years to come," said Karen Lotz, President and Publisher of Candlewick Press.

Habitat for Humanity's Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project began in 1984 when the former president and former first lady led a work group to New York City to help renovate a six-story building with 19 families in need of decent, affordable shelter. Each year since, the Carters have given a week of their time--along with their construction skills--to build homes and raise awareness of the critical need for affordable housing. The Carter Work Project is held at a different location each year and attracts volunteers from around the world.

This year, from Nov. 15-20, 2009, Habitat's Carter Work Project will take place in the Mekong region of Southeast Asia. Volunteers will build 166 homes in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and China.

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Atlanta Gas Light and News/Talk 750 WSB to Honor Atlanta Community Food Bank Founder Bill Bolling with 2009 Shining Light Award

Atlanta Gas Light, a subsidiary of Atlanta-based AGL Resources (NYSE:AGL) , together with News/Talk 750 WSB, the most trusted source for news, weather and traffic, today announced that Bill Bolling, founder and executive director of the Atlanta Community Food Bank (, has been selected as the recipient of the 2009 Shining Light Award. This award, established in 1963, is one of Atlanta's most prestigious honors and recognizes outstanding business and community leaders for their individual contributions to build a better Atlanta.

Bolling joins an impressive list of Atlantans who have received the Shining Light Award, including: President Jimmy Carter; Chick-fil-A founder S. Truett Cathy; baseball legend Hank Aaron; U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young; Shepherd Center co-founder Alana Shepherd; the late former Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson; founder of the Georgia Aquarium and Marcus Institute Bernie Marcus; as well as businessman and civil rights leader Jesse Hill, Jr.

Bolling founded the Atlanta Community Food Bank and has served as its executive director since 1979. In this capacity he oversees the distribution of more than 20 million pounds of food and grocery products each year through more than 800 local and regional nonprofit organizations that feed the hungry. Prior to his association with the Atlanta Community Food Bank, he served as director of community ministries for St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Atlanta.

"All of Atlanta salutes Bill Bolling with the Shining Light Award," said John W. Somerhalder II, AGL Resources chairman, president and chief executive officer. "Without him, there would be no Atlanta Community Food Bank. It is exceptionally fitting that we honor him this year, when the Atlanta Community Food Bank celebrates its 30th anniversary, and when the need in our community for the Food Bank's services has never been greater. We celebrate Bill's vision, his passion and his commitment to be a voice for the underserved."

In addition to his work with the Atlanta Community Food Bank, Bolling, who grew up in Lexington, N.C., is a frequent speaker on topics related to hunger, poverty, regionalism, affordable housing and public policy reform. He is a charter member of the Board of Directors of Feeding America, the national network of food banks (formerly America's Second Harvest). He also serves on the Regional Commission on Homelessness, the Nonprofit Advisory Committee of the Andrew Young School at Georgia State University, and the Faith Alliance of Metro Atlanta. He is founder of the Atlanta Housing Forum, begun in 1988, and continues to serve as moderator of the Regional Housing Forum. He is past chair of the Board of the Regional Leadership Forum and the State of Georgia Housing Trust Fund Commission.

"In addition to his outstanding organizational and management skills, Bill is a magnificent bridge-builder," said Suzanne Sitherwood, president, Atlanta Gas Light. "Through his ability to link just the right people and bring various public sectors and the business community together, he has found practical ways to fight hunger in Atlanta. The Atlanta Community Food Bank benefits those who need it most, and his efforts have strengthened our entire community in the process."

Beginning Oct. 12, WSB Radio will broadcast congratulatory messages to Bolling from several past award recipients. The announcements will also be streaming live on the station's Website,

"Bill Bolling has touched the lives of so many people - in Atlanta and beyond," said Tony Kidd, VP market manager programming, News/Talk 750 WSB. "Bill developed the model for efficient food collection and distribution that is now used throughout the United States. We congratulate him and the Atlanta Community Food Bank as they embark on their next 30 years."

Shining Light awards, which are eternally burning natural gas lamps, adorn many areas of Atlanta. Each historic gaslight is installed in a location that is meaningful to the recipient. Bolling's award will be unveiled on Monday, Nov. 16, 2009, at a public event in his honor at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in downtown Atlanta, 435 Peachtree St.

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Conductor Robert Spano Named Distinguished Artist in Residence

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Music Director Robert Spano has been appointed an Emory University Distinguished Artist in Residence. He joins a prominent professoriate when he begins his appointment this spring. Emory has named seven other individuals to similar roles in recent years, including His Holiness the XIV Dalai in 2007 to an indefinite term as Presidential Distinguished Professor; and author Salman Rushdie, Distinguished Writer in Residence, who concludes his five-year Emory residency at the close of Maestro Spano's first residency year. 

"The appointment of Robert Spano supports Emory's artistic and creative goals," says Emory University President James Wagner. "Spano is an invaluable asset to Emory and the Southeast, and, on a global level, a key figure in the arts. He brings to Emory a wealth of knowledge in a wide spectrum of areas and will bring new strength to the artistic collaborations between our academic community and the greater Atlanta community."

The residency, the latest in a series of connections between Emory, Spano and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, is made possible by funds especially designated to foster these kinds of significant collaborations and partnerships for the benefit of Emory students, scholars and the university as a whole.

Spano will co-teach seminars, lecture and present programs on literature, philosophy, science and musicology for three weeks during each of the spring semesters of 2010-2012. The university-wide residency has the potential to enhance the educational experiences of Emory's 12,500 students from the Emory College of Arts and Sciences and to multidisciplinary graduate programs as well as the greater community. 

The residency begins March 28-April 18, 2010. Spano will participate in a wide-ranging interdisciplinary dialog as he co-teaches and actively participates in Emory's scholarly community through colloquia and Emory's "Creativity Conversations" series. He also will participate in several public performances.

Read more about Robert Spano's appointment and public performance events on the Arts at Emory Web site.

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