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Thumbs Up! - Oct. 15, 2012

Albany is fortunate to have a service unlike any other. Three years ago, the 311 program was brand new when Cindy Tiernan, Albany's information technology department manager, took the reins. Tricia Borsdorf, 311 supervisor, and Tiernan have led the program into the realm of overwhelming success. Citizens often have issues that need addressing with city departments that are very important but not an emergency. With 311 in place, calls can be made about just about anything, from street light outages to potholes to clogged storm drains to code violations. When a call comes in, it is immediately logged and sent to the appropriate city department, whether it be public works or WG&L or some other division. Not only has the streamlined program improved response to requests from citizens, it has taken about 30 non-emergency calls per day from going to 911. Calls are now coming in at the rate of about 30,000 per year and, by the way, there is now an 'app' for that.

Congratulations to Westover High School senior Kwasi Wrensford. This young person has been named a semi-finalist in the 49th Annual National Achievement Scholarship Program. Wrensford joins more than 1,600 other high school seniors from across the country and will continue in the competition for approximately 800 scholarship awards worth in the neighborhood of $2.5 million. Be proud of your academic accomplishments as your friends and family, classmates and hometown wish you the best of everything in the future.

Fall is a unique time in the retail business. It is possible to go to just about any mid-to-large department store and get a swimsuit, Halloween costume, new coat and lights to decorate a Christmas tree, all with one stop. With some amazing clearance sales, the opportunities to save money on purchases are plentiful. Local non-profits, especially the Salvation Army, are already looking toward Thanksgiving and Christmas and the needs of families in the community. While cash donations are always needed, the need to provide for food and gifts is even greater over the holidays. Check the clearance aisles for clothing, shoes, toys, school supplies, books and other items. Watch for the soon-to-arrive Toys for Tots donation boxes. There are lots of children counting on Santa.

The Masters Level Special Olympics softball team from Albany left at the end of last week for the 2012 Fall Special Olympic Games in Dalton. That in itself is cause for kudos. But, when the team off-loaded for the opening ceremony, it was with brand new gear. Thanks to the generosity of local donors, the athletes had all new and matching warm-up suits, shorts, two shirts, shoes, socks and a backpack. Lookin' good, indeed!

At press time, there was no available data to reflect just how successful the three-day Georgia Throwdown was. Nothing of the sort has ever occurred in Albany and that it did is a success unto itself. The music, the economic impact, the family-oriented fun, the diversity of vendors, the spruced up fairgrounds and so much more are on the long list of positives from the event. While he certainly did not pull this great festival off all by himself, none of this would have been possible without one particular person. For you, Sam Shugart, here is one really, really, really big 'Thumbs Up!"