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Thumbs Up! - April 16, 2012

Albany Technical College and Chehaw ... a perfect pair. The wild animal area at Chehaw is in a constant state of improvement and the students at ATC are loaded with fresh ideas. Most recently, Edrian Mallory, Joshua Johnson and Garrin Harvey each created a design for the flamingo habitat, then collectively took the best of all three plans. The result was presented to park officials and the reaction was one of delight. Highlighting the new habitat is a pool shaped like a flamingo that will provide a deep end as well as a second feed and drain area. Dirt is already moving on this project and, these students definitely deserve an A-plus for their work.

Congratulations to the 16 Sherwood Christian Academy students who placed in the MathCounts region tournament at Darton College and the Math Olympics held in LaGrange. Finishing in first place were Ariana Ukaonu (third grade), Jacob Casey (sixth grade), Jarrett Kemp (seventh grade) and Caleb Thompson (seventh grade). Dallas Ausburn, an eighth-grader, took the individual first-place award. The MathCounts and Math Olympics teams were coached by Matthew Sheets and Amy Nobles. Well done, one and all.

Coming for the 37th time, the Mitchell County Pro Tennis Invitational Tournament will be held April 27-29. The top talent on the Pro-Am circuit will take to the courts in Camilla in one of the area's biggest fundraisers year after year. In 2011, the tournament raised more than $50,000, which was filtered into non-profits throughout Southwest Georgia. This event would not continue its success without the many local sponsors, all of which are of equal importance.

Once again the residents of Lee County will have the opportunity to get rid of unwanted items as the Great American Clean Up includes an amnesty day. On April 21, residents can bring items for disposal to the train depot across from City Hall in Leesburg and also to downtown Smithville. Dump trucks will be waiting to receive the items at no charge. Old tires will be accepted with a limit of four per person. Also on that day, prescription and non-prescription drugs will be collected. The medications will be turned over to the DEA for proper disposal. Take advantage of this day to clean up personal property and/or volunteer to help others. Either way, it's a win-win plan.

There is still time to donate those gently-worn but no-longer-wanted shoes to a worthy recycling program. With the assistance of Keep Albany-Dougherty Beautiful, Soles 4 Souls is collecting footwear for people in need. People in more than 127 countries have received shoes from the organization, with 1.3 million pairs allocated to Haiti alone. All shoes are processed and graded either by staff in Wadley, Ala., or by Village Northwest Unlimited, a nonprofit training facility for people with disabilities located in Sheldon, Iowa. New and high-grade used shoes are immediately earmarked for distribution in the United States or abroad. Lower grade used shoes are sorted and packed for distribution, and some are provided to microenterprise programs in developing countries such as Haiti, Tanzania, and Honduras. The microenterprise participants clean and recondition the shoes to sell locally. Thus, the microenterprise programs provide both a rare employment opportunity to impoverished people who would like to start their own businesses, but lack the capital to do so, and an affordable source of shoes for the impoverished local population. Shoes will be accepted at Albany's Meredyth Drive recycling center through May 15.

-- The Albany Herald Editorial Board