As school systems all across the state began taking a serious look at budget cuts, including the high price of fuel, field trips were often one of the first things trimmed. While no one will argue the benefits of education outside the classroom, expenses had to be reduced and excursions off campus took an early, and seemingly permanent hit. The Sylvandale Elementary School pre- kindergarten and kindergarten students from Sherwood Acres Elementary were the recent exceptions to rules of belt tightening. These youngsters experienced an educational outing to the Flint RiverQuarium to learn about birds, reptiles, the ecosystems of the river and much more. When the students returned to the classroom, they drew pictures and wrote stories about the day. The trip was not made by way of a fundraiser or any part of the suffering coffers of the school system or the parents. Vernorris and Eugenia Bradley funded the trip for their grandchildren, their classmates and teachers. Thank you for your generosity.

During the first Lee County Board of Education meeting of the year, three staff members were given special recognition. On staff at Lee County Primary School, Haley Casey, Layla Jarrell and Tiffany Hall are credited with saving the life of a young student choking on a hot dog at lunch. In the case of an emergency such as this, a code is broadcast and CPR-trained employees respond. The above named trio did just that and successfully used their training to clear the child's airway. Since the incident, hot dogs have been removed the menu for Pre-K throughout the system...another wise move.

New to Albany is Dr. Kurt Klauburg. With almost 24 years of experience under his belt, Klauburg is filling a need few people think about and one often ignored and left untreated -- geriatric psychiatry. It stands to reason that as the population grows, life expectancy increases and baby boomers reach their 'golden years', that so also have the associated issues involved. Unlike a skin tear, a broken hip or loss of hearing, depression, loneliness and even anger are much less obvious conditions. Loss of independence and dementia are growing problems among America's senior citizens and Albany is certainly no exception. Residents are fortunate that Klauburg chose to bring his practice here. Welcome to Albany!

Congratulations to Traedjon Washington, recipient of the 2012 MLK Dream Youth Award. At the young age of 12, Traejon has quite a resume including, but not limited to, an impressive amount of community service and academic success. Well begun, young man.

A simple request: please do not get in the way of B.J. Fletcher. The result of her run for Albany's mayor was not what she and supporters had hoped for, but that is history and life goes on. Fletcher has new fish to fry for 2012 which includes the opening of Cafe 230 L.C. With the new business will come jobs. Fletcher hopes to partner with Albany Technical College to bring interns into the food preparation and service business. Jobs will be available for Strive 2 Thrive participants, the local initiative to end poverty. Carefully screened ex-offenders will be given a chance to work, most often all that is needed to return to or become productive citizens. All the positions will be new, not moved from another location. So, not long after the calendar has turned from January to February, Fletcher will put 30 people in the area to the task of sometimes hard, but always honest, work. The biggest 'thumbs up' in the ink barrel belongs to you, B.J. Fletcher.

-- The Albany Herald Editorial Board