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Thomson City Council adopts new Safety Check Program for elderly citizens

Senior citizens living alone in Thomson can rest a little easier knowing that someone will be calling on them in the future to assure that they are alright.

Thomson City Council members voted 3-2 to approve a new Safety Check Program aimed at making sure elderly citizens and those who are handicapped are not in need of anything.

Those voting in favor of the program, which will cost the city $6,040, included Mayor Pro Tem Kenneth Usry and Councilmen Alton Belton and Rev. John Smalley. Councilmen John T. Wiley and Jaye Jones opposed the new safety program.

The program, which provides daily telephone calls to enrolled senior citizens and those who are handicapped, is overseen by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Standards Foundation. A number of cities in Georgia have adopted the program, according to Thomson Mayor Robert E. Knox Jr., who recommended that city officials try the program for a year.

"This is a program whereby our elderly citizens living alone and those who are handicapped would be checked on regularly," Mayor Knox said. "This program makes sure their needs are met. I think it would be a real good program for our folks."

During last month's council meeting, Rev. Don Jackson, vice-president of Special Programs of the NAACP, made a presentation before Thomson City Council, explaining the program's importance. Local government officials at the time decided to table the matter until they could look into references about the program from cities that had agreed to adopt it.

Mayor Knox, as well as City Administrator Don Powers checked references of a number of cities who already have implemented the Safety Check Program.

The mayor said he spoke with officials in Ralston, Lavonia and Hartwell and received positive comments about the Safety Check Program. Mr. Powers said he contacted officials in neighboring Washington and reported that though the sign-up had been a little slow, the program overall had been generally well received.

Money to pay for the program is expected to come from the city's contingency fund.

Local residents will soon be receiving phone calls at which time they can sign up for the program. Residents can also sign up for the program for themselves or for a loved one by calling 800-249-8428 pin# 7055.

Web posted on Thursday, September 20, 2007

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