Thumbs Up! - Sept. 5, 2011

Got pills? It is time once again to clean out the medicine cabinets, drawers, purses and anywhere else old prescription drugs may be stored. Keep Albany Dougherty Beautiful and local law enforcement agencies are teaming up for the second year to host Operation Pill Drop. The event is a national effort to keep medicines from being flushed into municipal water systems and ground water, as well as out of the wrong hands, especially those of children and teens. On Sept. 17, unwanted and/or outdated medications can be dropped off at the Albany Civic Center for safe disposal. At the first pill drop in Albany, more than 300 pounds of drugs, mostly pills and tablets, many decades old, were collected. Also on the 17th this year at the same location, there will be an electronics recycling opportunity. Computers, cameras, phones and more will be collected, and the toxins therein kept from the landfill. Printer and ink cartridges of all types will also be accepted. It doesn’t get any easier than this.

Thronateeska Heritage Center is joining the ongoing celebration of Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital’s 100th anniversary. An exhibit will open in November recognizing the history of medicine throughout Albany and Southwest Georgia. Many items have been collected, but the museum is asking the public to add to the exhibit. Any items related to the evolution of medical care, especially at Phoebe, are welcome. Whether made a permanent gift to the museum or placed on loan, each contribution will be carefully handled and safeguarded.

Sheriff Kevin Sproul spoke recently at a meeting of the Gang Task Force about his Crime Prevention and Intervention Unit’s (CPIU) role with youths. Gang Resistance Education and Training is just what the title implies, as is Choosing Healthy Activities and Methods Promoting Safety. These program go far beyond simply telling kids to stay away from gangs, drugs and crime by teaching about other ways to live and succeed with character education and incentives. The Scared Straight program brings inmates to speak to kids about their experiences in gangs and the incarceration(s) that followed. Another program, Prom Promise, encourages teens to sign a contract stating they will not drink alcohol or do drugs and drive on prom night. Those are just a few of the many ways the Dougherty County sheriff and his department are involved in the community. Last year alone, the sheriff and his two-member CPIU, Lt. Terron Hayes and Deputy Vivian Hunt, gave 98 presentations concerning good parenting, gangs, bullying and drugs. That is a lot of bang for the buck!

Dougherty County School System Superintendent Dr. Joshua W. Murfree Jr. wasted no time once students returned to school in launching a reading campaign. Media specialists in all of the system’s schools are working diligently to promote community involvement in support of reading. You can be a part of the education of one child or dozens by reading at home, volunteering in the classroom or even becoming a homework helper after school. Sharing with a child the joys of reading will also improve self-esteem and enhance creativity as well as provide for hours and hours of safe, affordable and educational entertainment.

Whether working on this Labor Day or on a paid vacation day or without a job, here’s hoping you can enjoy this day with family and friends. Take the time to visit someone, cook out, go for a swim, drop a line in the river or simply take a nap. Just be careful and be safe.