County approves Vinson bench

Photo by Casey Dixon

Photo by Casey Dixon

ALBANY, Ga. -- The Dougherty County Commission voted unanimously Monday to allow friends and relatives of a local man who drowned trying to save two boys in the Flint River to put a memorial bench at Riverfront Park.

D.J. Vinson drowned Aug. 3, 2008, while trying to rescue two young boys who had gotten caught in the current of the Flint River while playing.

With help from friends, Vinson and company pulled one of the brothers from the river but the 23-year-old Vinson himself and the older brother ultimately drowned.

In July, Vinson was awarded the prestigious Carnegie Medal for Heroism for his actions.

To commemorate his actions and the actions of his friends that day, the Dougherty County Commission has agreed to allow family and friends of Vinson to erect a granite bench along the riverwalk, not far from where he was swept away.

The county was first approached about the bench from Cindy Porter, the mother of Ricky Porter -- a man who tried to help Vinson pull 11-year-old Joshua Perry and his 10-year-old brother Matthew Perry from the Flint River -- when she wrote a letter to County Administrator Richard Crowdis asking for the county's permission to place a memorial bench in Riverfront Park.

"Myself and others in the community feel this is something we need to have in place in D.J.'s memory," she wrote. "... (T)his memorial would be a fitting tribute to a hometown citizen."

According to Cindy Porter, the cost of the bench planned with an inscription, dedicated to both D.J. and Joshua Perry, is approximately $2000.

An account has been set up at Heritage Bank and donations can be sent to the bank at P.O. Box 50728, Albany, Ga., 31703, D.J. Vinson Memorial Fund. Donations may also be dropped off at at any Heratige Bank branch.

In other business, the county moved forward with a historic effort to pump methane gas created by the Dougherty County Landfill to Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany.

The commission unanimously approved awarding a $1.1 million contract to Stearns, Conrad and Schmidt Engineers Inc., to expand the landfill's gas collection and control system.

Doing business as SCS Field Services, the company does solid waste work on a global level, according to its website, and performs alternative energy work -- such as gas-to-energy projects -- routinely.

The bid came in under the $1.3 million budgeted and will be funded from the Solid Waste Enterprise fund generated at the landfill.

The Dougherty County landfill gas-to-energy project is the first partnership between a county government and the U.S. Navy to provide energy services.