Thumbs Up! - Feb. 20, 2012

Except perhaps to a family member, teacher or classmate, the name Conner Mullen is not familiar to most people. Conner began drawing at age 3 and at age 5 began accompanying his artwork with words. His first book was published in January. "Creatures What I Have Learned" relates facts about animals, particularly those that live in the sea. This delightful book can be found online at Trafford, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon. As for future publications, it is likely there will be many. After all, author/illustrator Mullen, a student at Worth County Primary School, is currently only 7 years old.

A big thank you goes out to sponsors, donors, attendees and anyone else involved in the 2012 American Cancer Society Hope Ball. On Feb. 4, the fight against cancer in Albany and surrounding communities got a lot stronger. When the night was over and expenses covered, this year's event raised a record amount of $78,622.65.

People lined up early to get a seat to watch the final performance of the Albany Marine Band last week. Cars lined the streets as fans of the band took in one more classy, professional and thoroughly entertaining show. After 22 years of service, the Albany Marine Band will be deactivated later this month. The concert was called "Thanks for the Memories," and that is just what The Albany Herald wishes to say back to each and every Marine that has participated in this fine group of musicians. You will be sincerely missed.

Saturday nights in February are big for high school basketball players and fans. A career that started 37 years ago for Gordy Gruhl as coach of a small GISA school that no longer exists, recently met a milestone many coaches never see. His Deerfield-Windsor Knights sealed the Region 3-AAA title on the same evening that Gruhl reached his 1,000th career victory. With an amazing record of 1,000-313, Gruhl had an emotional evening as chants of "Gordy, Gordy" rang out while the clock on the scoreboard wound down. What a night it was.

No doubt one of the best deals in town, Friday night dinner and a movie events continue. Last week the Prince movie "Purple Rain" was the featured film. For just $15 a person, dinner was enjoyed at one of two downtown Albany eateries -- Riverfront BarBQ or the Pizza Shop -- followed by the movie at the Flint RiverQuarium's Imagination Theater. What a great (and affordable) way to spend a Friday night. Keep an eye out for the next one.

In the fall, Kevin Dowling, principal of Lee County High School, will travel to Washington, D.C., to represent Georgia in the High School Principal of the Year competition. The reason for this trip is that Dowling has been named the state's Principal of the Year. In a surprise gathering of students and faculty, Dowling was informed of the news last week. The usually quite vocal administrator stated, "For the first time in my life, I am actually speechless." That was not the case with his many supporters, including Lee County School System Superintendent Larry Walters. "I cannot tell you how proud all of us are for Kevin and the Lee County School System," Walters said. "There are 425 high school principals in 185 districts in Georgia. This is a wonderful honor for Kevin and the system as a whole." Yes, it is.

The top three deputies of the Dougherty County Sheriff's Office have been identified. Named as an Employee of the Year are Lt. Shirley Adams, Deputy Danny Brown and Lt. Anita Allen. This trio has been described as professionals that take pride in their job. Thumbs up to you!

-- The Albany Herald Editorial Board