Tag Archive for cases

Pickens County and the stimulus


Let’s look at the stimulus information about Pickens County, Georgia, and see how we might use it to cover the problems of unemployed people and low-income families.

The summary on ProPublica conveniently compares Pickens to the state and the nation. It also allows us to drill down to get details about the money in Pickens.

From these few pages, a half-dozen story ideas emerge. We can see immediately that:

-Although unemployment in Pickens County was consistently higher than the national average, and higher than the state average in 2008 and 2009, the per-capita funding to the county was only aboutĀ half the national average, and 40 percent less than the state’s average.

Why? Was it due to a flawed process of distribution, or was it a question of political clout?

-Of the $24 million spent in Pickens County, about one-quarter went to Small Business Administration loans.

Who were these businesses? How many jobs were saved or created as a result of the loans? Did any of the businesses fail in spite of the loan?

-AnotherĀ $5.5 million went to a weatherization program, but not all of this money was spent in Pickens County. It went to a nonprofit agency, North Georgia Community Action, which is based in Pickens but serves 10 North Georgia counties.

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The swim-in cemetery

In looking at nonprofits in Pickens County, I went to the records for the Big Canoe Chapel, a nondenominational community church.

I was not surprised that they did not file any 990s, despite raising significant amounts of money for charity and overseas missions each year. Churches don’t have to file.

But I was very surprised to see that their categorical designation was as a “swim club.” Read more