Thumbs Up! - April 29, 2013

Qualifying for the 2013 municipal elections is still a few months away, but at least two citizens have announced intentions to challenge incumbents of the Albany City Commission Wards II and III. A newcomer to politics, Bobby Coleman plans to challenge Ivey Hines while B.J. Fletcher, a well-known business person, will run against Christopher Pike. For all those who grumble about local government, here is an opportunity to step up, just as Coleman and Fletcher have done.

The Georgia Peanut Commission has always believed in its farmers and the products made from South Georgia’s abundance of peanuts. A recent donation of peanut butter to the Food Bank of Southwest Georgia, as well as to food banks in Tallahassee and Montgomery, will go a long way to stave off hunger — an issue made worse by the struggling economy. Each of the three facilities were recipients of 10,000 jars of Peanut Proud Peanut Butter. The peanut butter was made right here in Albany by Tara Foods from peanuts grown in Southwest Georgia, north Florida and parts of Alabama. One could grow weary of the menu, but according to Don Koehler, executive director of the GPC, a person could eat nothing but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with a glass of milk and never grow malnourished. Thank you to the commission, the growers, the producers and the distributors for making a real difference.

In mid-April, the Dougherty County Youth Orchestra traveled to a competition in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. Under the direction of Alexander Reshetnichenko, the young musicians excelled in the presence of the judges, coming home with first place and a superior rating. Music is the obvious skill these young people are mastering, but along with that comes teamwork, responsible behavior, self discipline and respect for oneself and others. Good job!

National Public Safety Communications Week has come and gone. It is, however, never too late to show appreciation to those who man the phones at the 911 call center. Every day and every night of the year, there are trained communications officers ready to take the calls of those in an emergency situation. The caller, often in danger and even more often in distress, can count on a level-headed person on the phone to get whatever help is needed. Coming soon to the Albany 911 center will be equipment that can accept text messages ... just one more way to give the best service possible.

It surely seemed like a great idea at the time. The Dougherty County Board of Education initiated a residential mobility program back in 2008 that allows students who start the school year at a particular school to remain in that school for the full year after moving to any other area of the county. The program allowed for less disruption for the students and teachers, which is always a good thing. The problem with the program is that the school system has continued to provide transportation. Perhaps for a dozen or so students, the cost would have proven worth it, but there are currently 800 students taking advantage of the program. Interim Superintendent Butch Mosely, with an eagle eye for waste within the system, encouraged Transportation Chief Kenneth Williams to restructure his department and that is exactly what is Williams is doing. It is simply amazing (and extremely encouraging) to see the changes going on within the DCSS.

Congratulations to the Albany State University softball team. The No. 1 seed Lady Rams were upset in the first game of the conference tournament, suddenly finding themselves in the losers bracket. It would take seven wins after that one loss to come back and capture the title and that is just what happened.