Congratulations are in order for Westover High School senior Kayla Stubbs. This student was a recent winner in the Careers in Energy Week 2011 Essay Contest. Kayla took the theme "Energy Workers Make a World of Difference," furnished by the Georgia Energy and Industrial Construction Consortium, sponsor of the contest, and wrote a winning essay entitled "What a Pitiful World This Would Be." For her efforts, Stubbs was awarded a new iPod.

Leadership Albany has undertaken a gigantic project. The group, already involved with a literacy program through the Ferst Foundation, has now taken the sole responsibility to fund (or locate funds) for Dougherty County children. The program puts age-appropriate books in the hands of 1,400 children right here in this county at the rate of one book per child per month. The funding that was assisting with a large portion of the book purchases through the Division of Family and Children Services is no longer available. Leadership Albany needs area citizens and businesses to step up in order to keep the books going out to the kids. If you are sincerely concerned about poverty and education, now is the time to give what you can. And, rest assured, every penny will go straight to this worthy cause.

This newspaper certainly heard loudly from its readers that disqualified Ward II candidate Cheryl Calhoun should have her qualifying fees returned. A mistake, and that is all it was, at the time Calhoun filed required paperwork to run for the Albany City Commission was made by Dougherty County Elections officials. The department admitted the error and, in turn, the candidate was ruled ineligible for the race. City Manager James Taylor understood that, although the fees could not be recovered from the state, it was within his power to right the wrong. Taylor swiftly took care of the matter by cutting Calhoun a check from the city's contingency fund. An unfortunate turn of events was handled by all in the best manner possible.

Operation Christmas Child sends shoeboxes filled with gifts to needy children in more than 100 countries, including the United States. The boxes are packed with small toys, hard candy, socks, paper, pencils, crayons and a variety of other items. While this is a ministry most often handled through churches, it is not necessary to be involved in a church to participate. Locally, the collection site for this year is the former Coca-Cola plant on Pine Avenue, and the collection dates are Nov. 14-21. For guidelines on how to pack a box, simply visit www.samaritanspurse.org.

The Albany State Marching Rams Show Band has been invited to compete among the final eight of the 2012 Honda Battle of the Bands. The placement in the elite eight is much-coveted by university bands and an honor that includes an all-expenses paid trip as well as a $20,000 grant from Honda for the school's music education program. Each band will have 12 minutes on the field of the Georgia Dome in January to perform for the judges. What a great way to start a new year!

An email was recently sent from a representative of the Georgia Department of Education regarding Albany Early College. A Career, Technology and Agricultural Education specialist from the state had something to share with Dougherty County school officials. It appears that Early College students were attendees at the Georgia Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Festival this fall. Middle school students attended the Gwinnett County event, and high school students visited Ware County. In part, the email read: "I cannot begin to tell you how impressed the Department of Education and the exhibitors were with your students. Not only did they look spectacular in their uniforms, but their listening skills and ability to communicate at sophisticated levels demonstrated what high expectations you have for them. You must be incredibly proud to have such quality students represent the Dougherty County School System."

-- The Albany Herald Editorial Board