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Thumbs Up! - March 12, 2012

Albany Moose Lodge 1285 took time out recently to do something each individual should do at every opportunity. The Moose Lodge honored those who serve the community through public safety. The event highlighted the importance of first responders and was a way to thank those who go to work each day (or night) without any concrete idea of what the hours ahead will bring. Members of the Albany Police Department, the Dougherty County Police Department, Dougherty and Lee County Sheriff's offices, Georgia State Patrol, Dougherty County Emergency Medical Services and the Dougherty and Lee fire departments were honored for their willingness to protect, serve and respond first to a wide variety of dangers. At the event, Tommy Moose stuffed animals were given to the different departments to distribute to children as a means of comforting them in a time of stress and/or uncertainty stemming from abuse, a fire, a car accident or perhaps a weather-related disaster.

If you were not able to reach Dougherty Superior Court Judge Stephen Goss over the past week, it was most likely because he has been even busier than usual. Goss was designated as a fill-in for Justice Hugh Thompson of the Georgia Supreme Court for one case. The opportunity to serve with the highest judges in our state speaks volumes about Judge Goss' reputation in the legal arena.

Westover High School's academic team topped schools from 14 districts in a recent state Academic Decathlon. Unique about the members of these teams is that they represent more than just the top scholars by grade-point average. Each nine-member team has three "A" students, three "B" students and three "C" students. Team coach Brian Collier reported that anyone willing to study, be a team player and do their best could participate. In three years, the Westover team has taken three district titles and two state titles. Well done!

The Dougherty County School Board has a lot of tough decisions ahead. Budget shortfalls have to be dealt with ... and soon. Superintendent Joshua Murfree says "everything is on the table," and thanks to at least two board members, the public will be allowed at that table. Furloughs are likely to continue, but other measures are needed. Whether it is a reduction in force, from top to bottom, or consolidation/closure of underutilized facilities, something has to happen. If an open forum for budget discussion is held, there shouldn't be an empty seat in the house.

A huge thank you goes out to all the participants, volunteers and spectators who took to Albany streets over the last two weekends. The runners, bike riders, supporters, sponsors, venders, musicians and an impressive number of folks who shared the downtown festival with friends and family are a reminder of why this is indeed the Good Life City.