VSB Selects New GDVS Commissioner

The Veterans Service Board has selected a new Commissioner of Veterans Service.

In a meeting held June 1, the board chose Mike Roby to lead the Department of Veterans Service. Chairman Phil Youngblood stated that Mr. Roby’s term as commissioner will officially commence July 1, and the board will coordinate with Governor Nathan Deal’s office to make arrangements for a swearing-in ceremony.

Informed of the selection, Governor Deal stated, “The late Commissioner Pete Wheeler tirelessly served his country in and out of uniform for decades, and left behind a legacy that few could uphold. Today, I’m proud to say that the department’s Veterans Service Board has indeed selected one of those few, Mike Roby, as its new commissioner. As an Army veteran, and having served as interim commissioner since late April of this year and as an assistant commissioner of the department since 2012, he has the experience, dedication and drive to fully serve Georgia’s veterans. Congratulations to him and his family.”

“It’s an honor to be selected,” Mr. Roby said. “I am humbled, and I want to thank the board for their confidence in me. I also want to thank Assistant Commissioner Dan Holtz, who is a great man and would have been a great commissioner, too. I am humbled to accept this selection and follow in the footsteps of Commissioner Wheeler. I want to continue to move this department forward and build upon his legacy of service. As an Army veteran myself, and coming from a military family with 107 years of combined service, veterans have been and always will be close to my heart. As commissioner I will do my best to see that all Georgia veterans and their families continue to be treated with the utmost respect and the highest level of service by the Georgia Department of Veterans Service.”

As outlined in the state constitution, the seven-member Veterans Service Board selects the Commissioner of Veterans Service to serve as the executive officer of the Department of Veterans Service. The commissioner is charged with the administrative responsibilities of the department in conformity with the orders, rules, and regulations of the board.

Together the board and the commissioner – who, by law, must be war veterans themselves – work to fulfill the mission of the Department of Veterans Service to serve Georgia’s 752,000-plus veterans and their families in all matters pertaining to veterans benefits.

Mr. Roby will succeed the late Commissioner Wheeler, who passed away in April after holding the office since 1954.

For more information on the content of this news release, please contact the GDVS Public Information Division at 404-656-5933 or gavetsvc@vs.state.ga.us.

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High Temperatures in Georgia Raise Health Concerns

ATLANTA—With temperatures expected to be in the mid 90’s throughout the state for the next several days, the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is urging Georgians to avoid prolonged exposure to the heat and sun and to limit strenuous outdoor activity to prevent heat related illnesses.

“Extreme heat can lead to very high body temperatures, brain and organ damage, even death,” said DPH Commissioner Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D. “It’s important to stay cool and hydrated in extreme temperatures to avoid serious health effects like heat exhaustion and heat stroke.”

Heat stroke is a serious illness characterized by a body temperature greater than 105 degrees. Symptoms may include dry red skin, convulsions, disorientation, delirium and coma. Onset of heat stroke can be rapid; serious symptoms can occur within minutes. Treatment involves the rapid lowering of body temperature using a cool bath or wet towels. Keep victims of heat stroke in a cool area and immediately call 911.

Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat stroke that may develop due to a combination of several days with high temperatures and dehydration in an individual. Signs of heat exhaustion include extreme weakness, muscle cramps, nausea or headache. Victims may also vomit or faint. Heat exhaustion is treated with plenty of liquids and rest in a cool, shaded area. Those on a low-sodium diet or with other health problems should contact a doctor.

To protect your health when temperatures are extremely high, remember to keep cool and use common sense. The following tips are important:

• Drink more fluids, regardless of your activity level. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Don’t drink liquids that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar–these actually cause you to lose more body fluid.

• Stay in an air-conditioned place. If your home does not have air conditioning, go to the shopping mall or public library or a friend or relative’s home – even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat.

• Electric fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature is in the high 90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath is a much better way to cool off.

• Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.

• NEVER leave infants, children, adults or pets in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked open. Remember to always “Look Again” to be sure everyone is out. If you see anyone locked in a hot vehicle, call 911.

• Limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours. Cut down on exercise. If you must exercise, take short breaks and stay hydrated.

• Protect yourself from the sun with a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher (the most effective products say “broad spectrum” or “UVA/UVB protection” on their labels).

Extreme heat affects everyone, but it can be especially hard on the elderly, infants and young children, and people with chronic illnesses such as heart disease and high blood pressure. Check on neighbors, friends or family at particular risk at least once a day.

Pools and lakes are a great way to cool off, but remember to keep a close eye on children, know how deep the water is and make sure the water is free of hazards.

For more information about extreme heat and precautions to take to prevent heat-related illnesses, click go to http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/. Visit the DPH website for information about water safety and injury prevention.

The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is the lead agency in preventing disease, injury and disability; promoting health and well-being; and preparing for and responding to disasters from a health perspective. In 2011, the General Assembly restored DPH to its own state agency after more than 30 years of consolidation with other departments. At the state level, DPH functions through numerous divisions, sections, programs and offices. Locally, DPH funds and collaborates with Georgia's 159 county health departments and 18 public health districts. Through the changes, the mission has remained constant – to protect the lives of all Georgians. Today, DPH’s main functions include: Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Maternal and Child Health, Infectious Disease and Immunization, Environmental Health, Epidemiology, Emergency Preparedness and Response, Emergency Medical Services, Pharmacy, Nursing, Volunteer Health Care, the Office of Health Equity, Vital Records, and the State Public Health Laboratory. For more information about DPH, visit dph.ga.gov.

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APS Conducts Comprehensive Review Of Grade Changing

ATLANTA—Atlanta Public Schools is conducting a comprehensive review of grade changing to determine the extent of the issue across the district.

The Office of Accountability, created by APS Superintendent Meria J. Carstarphen, is currently reviewing all existing data to determine how extensive grade changes have been over the past few years. APS Chief Accountability Officer Bill Caritj is guiding a team of APS leaders to review current policies and procedures in order to recommend process improvements and procedural safeguards before the start of the new school year. The review will cover all school levels but will initially focus at the high school level where the integrity of student’s course grades, class rank, and graduation status are critically important.

The District is doing a number of things to address the inappropriate grade changes uncovered during eight investigations undertaken in the 2014-2015 school year—half of which were inherited from the previous school year. These investigations triggered the launch of a comprehensive review.

The administration is working closely with the Board to ensure that all necessary resources are dedicated to this review. The administration will also continue to partner with the Fulton County District Attorney and seek his advice in the event that additional inappropriate grade changes are discovered.

“The public can count on us to operate with complete transparency as we complete this review and to hold all employees accountable who have not demonstrated the integrity we expect of them,” says APS Superintendent Meria J. Carstarphen. “As we work aggressively to rebuild the culture of APS and to restore the public’s trust in our system, it is imperative that all of our stakeholders know that unethical behavior will not be tolerated at APS.”

The district is moving in a new direction. It has adopted a new mission, vision, a new set of strategic priorities, and shifted to a student-centered organization.

Carstarphen adds that the new APS administration is devoted to making APS the best it can be. “There is a lot that is great about APS. The vast majority of our employees are doing the right things all the time, and they should be commended and praised. However, we must remain laser-focused in our efforts to root out those who are not and remove them from APS,” she stresses.

Once the comprehensive review is completed, it will be shared with APS stakeholders.

Atlanta Public Schools is one of the largest school districts in the state of Georgia, serving approximately 50,000 students across 106 learning sites. The district is organized into nine K-12 clusters with 87 schools, 17 charter schools and two citywide single-gender academies, where students are offered rigorous instructional programs that foster success in school and life. For more information, visit www.atlantapublicschools.us.