Exchange Club member explains probation office

ALBANY, Ga. -- Volunteering to substitute at his club for a speaker who had to cancel -- cost an Exchange Club member a dollar.

No sooner had Myron Pierce sat down after speaking at the usual Friday club lunch meeting than club president Larry Scully said, "I notice some of us aren't wearing our badges."

Pierce had his wallet out in a jiffy and smilingly deposited his $1 fine for not wearing his name badge to the "Campaign for Kids" jar.

Those dollars add up. The Exchange Club raises money for its primary cause, child abuse prevention, in as many ways as it can.

"Last week we gave $11,000 to Open Arms, our affiliate organization in the fight against child abuse," said Larry Scully, club president. "We try to support them in any way we can."

The Exchangites, as they refer to themselves also run contests that cost $1 for members to enter. Friday three members won gift certificates to Outback Steakhouse, Hinman Pool & Patio and other prizes by guessing how much money was in the "Campaign for Kids" jar.

There was $368.68 in the jar. Counting the dollar a chance to guess, the donations pledged to match donations and other from the heart donations; this year's contest raised $1,200 to help prevent child abuse.

The dollar from Pierce will probably go in the jar for the next contest.

Before he got fined, Pierce explained to a crowd of about 65 members and guests how his company, Judicial Alternatives of Georgia, operated to supervise people on court ordered probation.

"We take the burden off the county and the taxpayer for supervision of probation," Pierce said. "We collect payments from the probationers. They pay us, not the taxpayer."

Pierce went on to describe how his company supervises adults on probation for misdemeanors ranging from not wearing a seatbelt to drunken driving.

"We don't wear weapons and we don't go to the client," Pierce said. "The client comes in to us."

When exceptions arise and one of his three probation officers must visit a client, say to see if the client is sober, Pierce said Dougherty County Sheriff's Office Deputies accompany the officer.

Due to economic conditions many probationers can't pay their fines and are assigned community service, Pierce said. Unemployment and other hardships are taken into consideration, he added.

Pierce and his staff oversee court ordered community service and 936 active probation cases, he said.

He is still out a dollar, for a good cause.