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Thumbs Up! - July 15, 2013

Construction began last week on Flint River Habitat for Humanity’s 57th home in the Willow Oaks subdivision near the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport. On the same day, the ribbon was cut on a finished home in the neighborhood. Following a strict application process, prospective homeowners must commit to working on the construction site for at least 200 hours, sometimes as much as 500 hours. Applicants must prove ability to pay a mortgage, have sound credit, be currently living in unsafe, substandard housing and/or other unsavory situations. These homes are far from a handout. Habitat calls the work “sweat equity,” meaning an applicant invests not just financially and not just in their own home but those of others. Construction of these homes is made possible through individual, community and corporate donations. An opportunity to help is just around the corner with Hammer Jam 2013 starting Aug. 10. Give it a try. Call (229) 344-1207 for more information.

Mike’s Country Store, both locations, has stepped up to help those 3,000 furloughed Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany employees. Owner Mike Rogers can’t cover the loss of $7.6 million over the next 11 weeks, but he is certainly doing what he can to ease the pain. Base civilian employees need only bring their IDs to get 10 percent off their entire grocery bill as long as the furloughs last. Other businesses are expected to follow suit, but it was Rogers who took the first step. Thank you.

Some folks just have a passion for certain things and with Deerfield and Clemson graduate Andre Young, it is basketball. Young would absolutely love to be picked up by an NBA team, but until that happens he will go wherever necessary to shoot hoops professionally. As a rookie, Young played pro ball in Holland and was named MVP of the Dutch Basketball League. Next up is a contract to play in the Ukrainian Basketball SuperLeague. Young’s dedication to the job, and it is one, as well as his amazing ability to play the game will hopefully soon gain the attention of a team stateside. Meanwhile, enjoy your adventures and don’t forget to call home.

If there is anything that opens a person’s heart (and pocketbook), it is children at Christmas. Most everyone enjoys cruising the toy aisles filled with dolls and trucks and blocks and balls and puzzles and games and such. The Lily Pad, Albany’s organization that helps victims of sexual and physical abuse, appreciates every donation. For the first time, the nonprofit is celebrating Christmas in July with an emphasis on the teens it serves. Complete with a decorated tree, the Lily Pad is asking the public to join in the celebration with gifts appropriate for teenagers all the way up to age 18. The actual event will be held on July 27 from 2 p.m.-6 p.m. Donations can be dropped off at 320 W. Second Street any time before then. If you are at a loss for what to purchase, fear not. Gift cards are always welcome!

When the Georgia Department of Education releases test scores, the volume of data can be overwhelming. The most recent release was that of individual schools’ 2013 Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT). All the results showed improvement, but the jump in math scores for Albany eighth-graders deserves special recognition. Students meeting or exceeding math standards went like this: Albany Middle, 79 percent compared to 41 percent in 2012; Dougherty Middle, 77 percent compared to 48 percent in 2012; Robert Cross, 97 percent compared to 72 percent in 2012; Southside, 76 percent compared to 60 percent in 2012; Radium, 76 percent compared to 62 percent in 2012; and Merry Acres, 76 percent compared to 67 percent in 2012. Well done students, teachers, parents and administrators!