Mayor to Rotarians: Keep doing what you are doing

ALBANY, Ga. -- Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard encouraged members of the Dougherty County Rotary Club to "keep doing what you're doing" to make the city better during remarks at the club's meeting Tuesday.

Hubbard said she felt she was "preaching to the choir" as she outlined initiatives she's pushed in the "9 months and 21 days since I was sworn in."

Among those initiatives are the launch of the Mayor's Call to Service encouraging businesses and individuals to help clean up the city, health care programs promoting diabetes and cancer awareness, crime forums held at different locations throughout the city, creation of a "deal-closing fund" that will incentivize business investment in the region and the formation of an economic development coalition.

"I'm pleased to be among people who know what we need to do and how we can get there," Hubbard told Rotarians. "I know you as members of this organization understand your roles as citizens of this community.

"I ask you to continue to help me try to keep our city clean and crime-free so that when jobs start to come here, we'll be ready."

Hubbard also encouraged Rotary Club members to be cheerleaders when talking about the city.

"I ask you to work with me to make issues like improving education, fighting crime, bringing jobs to our city, economic development and eliminating blight priorities," she said. "And I ask you to find something good to say about Albany. If you can't think of anything, call me, I'll tell you what to say."

The mayor also encouraged attendance at a number of local events, including a "Have Your Cake and Eat It Too" healthy cooking event at the Phoebe Northwest conference room Nov. 5 and an economic development forum at the downtown Government Center Nov. 8.

Prior to Hubbard's remarks, Lee County School Board member Sylvia Vann and Lee School Superintendent Larry Walters offered remarks opposing Amendment 1 -- the so-called charter school initiative -- on the Nov. 6 ballot.

"This is not about charter schools, it's about who approves them," Vann said. "Ninety percent of the state's students attend public schools, but under this new amendment students at charter schools will be provided 72 percent more money per student than students at public schools."

Walters said charter schools will further dilute funding, which he said has already led to a diminished school year.

"People keep saying this (amendment) is not about students, it's about money," Walters said. "But it is about our children. Most students are already not getting a traditional school year of instruction (180 days) because of cuts. If you divide the pie further, students will be getting even less."