The 2013 Officer of the Year for the Albany Police Department is Cpl. Jean Casseus. A native of Haiti, one of the poorest nations in the world, Casseus removed himself from the prospect of perpetual misery by joining the French Foreign Legion. After five extremely rough years, he landed in Florida with relatives. Just over five years ago, Casseus joined the APD and has become a leader on the Gang Task Force, a member of the Albany-Dougherty SWAT Team and a departmental firearms instructor. This officer described himself as “very good with kids and also good at locking people up.” Cpl. Casseus is serious about his duties and dedicated to keeping the community as safe as possible. And one more thing, in addition to English, Casseus speaks five different languages.
H.E.A.R.T. ( Hands Extended Across Reaching Together) is a local organization started in 2009 after Anne Johnson Milledge saw a child who was using trash bags to hold his sneakers together. With the help of Under Armour, Procter & Gamble, Sam’s Club, Mount Zion Baptist Church as well as several other churches and individuals, many students in grades K-5 in Dougherty County are the proud owners of new sneakers. In fact, just this month, 500 new pairs of shoes were distributed bringing H.E.A.R.T.’s five-year distribution total to 1,900 pairs.
There is just something about being the “first” to accomplish something. That is just what Darton State College’s Crawford Berry has done. Berry recently became the first Darton Cavalier diver to bring home the gold in the NJCAA Swimming and Diving Championships in Buffalo, N.Y.
Nancy Lopez has a heart for hospice and gives freely of her time and talents to make sure the services for Albany-area families are state-of-the-art, top-notch and, most importantly, available to those in need. Lopez now has 27 Nancy Lopez Hospice Golf Classics in the books and has shown no sign of stopping the annual event. Thank you seems but a tiny way to show the appreciation felt. You are one of a kind, Nancy Lopez.
It’s a fundraiser, a time to socialize, a time to dine and a very, very important event for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Albany. Last Thursday night, the 26th Steak and Burger Dinner and Auction was held. Those in attendance at the affair, held at Darton State College, heard encouraging words from Matt Stinchcomb, a former Georgia Bulldog and NFL player. The night would not have been complete, however, without the announcement of the 2013 Boys and Girls Clubs Youth of the Year Award, the highest honor a club member can receive. From more than 3,000 youngsters served in Dougherty County, the honor went to Albany High School senior and Jefferson Street club member Jaime Belk. Thumbs up to this fine young lady, and here’s wishing the best in the future.
The year was 1941 when First Franklin Financial founder Ben F. Cheek Jr. assisted the company’s first customer with a $34 car loan. Currently, the company has branches in Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, Louisiana and Mississippi. Sponsorships for softball teams, participating in Relay for Life and providing Christmas dinner for local firefighters are just a few of the ways branches in Georgia have shown community support. When the company approached the Lily Pad Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Center about a donation, the staff was “overwhelmed.” Company representatives took a tour of the facility and soon after presented a check for $40,000. Wow!