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Thumbs Up! - Sept. 3, 2012

Sixty or so people showed up for Thursday night's Stop the Violence forum held at Alice Coachman Elementary School. That in itself is worth an up-turned thumb! Bishop Fredrick Williams Jr., founder of the grassroots anti-violence group, was joined by Mayor Dorothy Hubbard, Sheriff Kevin Sproul, Lorie Farkas of WG&L, City Commissioners Roger Marietta and Christopher Pike, a representative from U.S.Rep. Sanford Bishop's office, District Attorney Greg Edwards and Albany Police Chief John Proctor. The public's turnout in the midst of the community leaders is a show of genuine concern for the safety of Albany's residents but also an eagerness to be a part of the solution. Gangs and the violence their members rage upon the citizens and property of the city were the top topic of the night, as one could expect with the recent gang-related shootings. This was the second of four planned Stop the Violence forums so if you missed the first two, make plans to attend the September 27 gathering in North Albany. The time and location will be announced and the number to call for more information is (229) 436-0009.

The Exchange Club has been aware of the need to do some cleanup and sprucing up of the fairgrounds for some time now. The club owns 106 acres at the site, of which 45 acres or so are utilized for the annual fair each November. When Sam Shugart and his crew approached the club about renting the fairgrounds for a music festival, part of the offer was to improve the additional acreage. Being a gift horse itself, the Exchange Club was more than pleased at the deal. Folks that have been regulars for years at the fair will no doubt be extremely pleased to see all the improvements. Consider this your written invitation to attend the inaugural Southwest Georgia Music and Arts Festival Georgia Throwdown on October 12-14 and the Exchange Club Fair which runs November 6-11.

Good things do come to those who wait, just ask Richard Williams. Since May of 2010, Williams has served as the interim athletic director for Albany State University. Last week, ASU President Everette J. Freeman officially removed the 'interim' tag from the title. Freeman stated that Williams "emerged as the strongest candidate" and with his work at ASU and his education, including a bachelor's degree, a master's degree and a doctorate of education, all from the University of Georgia, it is easy to see why. Congratulations, Dr. Williams.

A perfect way to spend a part of Labor Day with friends and family without breaking the bank at the gas pump is right here in downtown Albany. In celebration of the holiday and its 8th anniversary, the Flint RiverQuarium will be open with a special admission price of just (what else) $8. This includes a movie at the Imagination Theater as well as the aquarium visit. Whether a newcomer or a frequent visitor, this is a great opportunity to see the home of more than 1,000 animals that call the Flint River watershed home.

The Monroe High School Class of 1986 has a unique way of staying in touch with classmates. Aside from the usual class reunion activities, this group holds charity events on and off reunion years. The most recent effort of the MHS Class of '86 was held on August 26. Class members set up tables full of good, hot food at the Dray Line, a regular gathering spot for day workers and others, and fed a chicken dinner to all who came. This no-questions-asked, just-because-it's-the- right-thing-to-do attitude of the group deserves one very large "Thumbs Up!"

-- The Albany Herald Editorial Board