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Thumbs Up! - Dec. 16, 2013

ALBANY HERALD EDITORIAL: Observations of positive happenings around the Albany area

To say that Tommy Coleman is a busy man would be an enormous understatement. Coleman, a former mayor of Albany is a partner with the Perry and Walters law firm. He has represented the Dougherty County School System for more than 18 years and also is the system attorney for Baker County schools. Across Southwest Georgia, Coleman is the legal representative for 27 cities and counties. At a recent meeting of the Georgia School Boards Association, Coleman was elected to a three-year term on the Board of Directors of the Georgia Council of School Board Attorneys. The board of nine attorneys from throughout the state review legal issues facing school systems as well as provide training for school boards and superintendents. Already a member of the Georgia Municipal Association Hall of Fame, Coleman continues to work diligently in his chosen profession, never missing a beat when it comes to representing his clients.

Albany State University’s College of Business has done it again. Back in February of this year, students were encouraged to support local business and so held a “Cash Mob” at downtown’s Our Daily Bread restaurant. Earlier this month, the mob descended on Cool Scoops Ice Cream Shop, also downtown. Business professor Maurice Elliard was the force behind the event saying simply that he “wanted to do something to help promote growth downtown.” Well, Professor, it seems you have hit upon a great plan.

Dougherty County’s District Attorney’s Office hosted the Law Enforcement Awards ceremony at Merry Acres last week. The best of the best were tapped for recognition as having gone above and beyond the call of duty. Major Bill Berry of the Albany Dougherty Drug Unit was selected as Executive of the Year. Corporal Jon Seagroves was named Albany Police Uniform Officer of the Year while Bryant Leverett was tapped as the department’s Investigator of the Year. Chad Kirkpatrick was awarded the title of Dougherty County Police Officer of the Year and Reggie French was named Investigator of the Year for that department. Just a week earlier, 29 officers within the Albany Police Department were promoted in rank. Congratulations to all.

The late Henry Duggan founded the Lord’s Pantry after discovering there were patients being released from Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital only to go home to an empty cupboard. The all-volunteer organization served its first client on Jan. 27, 1975. Now, nearly 39 years later, the need has grown but so have the services. The Lord’s Pantry distributes in many, many bags of groceries each and every month. As the economy bottomed out, the need increased. Today, things still are dismal for many in Albany. The organization continues its work of providing food and clothing, hoping to help those that fall through the cracks of food stamp eligibility and/or simply going through a rough time. Students at Sherwood Christian Academy held the “Great Turkey Race” during November, a competition among grades to collect the most nonperishable food items. The high school’s student council headed up the food drive, collecting over 900 items as well as $650 for the Lord’s Pantry. Thank you, students, parents and faculty for your generosity.

It was heading into the Thanksgiving and Christmas season of 2009 when Ole Times manager B.J. Fletcher issued a challenge. It was quite simple. She called on all businesses in Albany with 15 or more employees to hire at least one more worker. Within a week, she got commitment calls for 50 new jobs. By Christmas, the number had jumped past the 300 mark. As this Christmas nears, Fletcher is asking that local families be adopted. Teamed up with Wild Flour restaurant owner Sarah Edmonds and Hilton Garden Inn assistant/acting GM Linda Davis, these businesswomen are looking for those that truly need a helping hand. As Fletcher so eloquently puts it, she “has no interest in helping someone who’s not willing to help themselves.” The first family helped was one that needed a stove to cook Thanksgiving dinner, something Fletcher and her employees eagerly provided. And about those new jobs from four years ago, about 90 percent of the new hires are still in those positions. Merry Christmas, B.J.

The Albany Herald Editorial Board