Thumbs Up! - Sept. 16, 2013

For the first time since 1961, Albany hosted the five-day conference of the Georgia State Firefighters Association and the Georgia Association of Fire Chiefs. Members of this important part of public safety gathered for training, story-swapping, a 9/11 remembrance, a visit to the Flint RiverQuarium, individual and team competitions as well as an address from Governor Nathan Deal. The conference wrapped up Saturday night with the annual banquet, held for the first time ever at the Hilton Garden Inn. The work done everyday by firefighters, paid and volunteer, from large and small communities, is so important. The city was awash last week with some of the bravest and brightest public safety personnel in our state. For this, Albany can be proud. To those visiting the city for the first time or the 100th time, come again soon.


The day that fell between 9/11 and Friday the 13th was a great one for the Lily Pad and Children’s Miracle Network The Junior League presented a check for $17,000 and $16,500 to the two agencies, respectively, all from fund-raising endeavors of club members. The day just got better when the Albany Civil Rights Institute was presented with $13,000, proceeds from the annual King Day Celebration back in January. Do the math and that comes to a grand total of $46,500 that will help keep these valuable non-profits going.


Regardless of what Washington wants citizens to believe, the economy in a lot of places, including Albany and the state of Georgia, has shown only minuscule signs of recovery from the so-called Great Recession. For workers that have not seen an increase in pay for the past five or more years, it’s a difficult sell. Prices have gone up on everything from gasoline to groceries to school tuition to a bag of dog food. One of the greatest increases has been that of premiums for health insurance. Companies and government entities have little choice in most cases but to pass along the increase to the worker, therefore decreasing the value of a paycheck even more. Albany’s government has decided to act differently. After several discussions and looking at different options, the Albany City Commission has stepped up to help its employees by approving no employee insurance cost increase for those covered under the plan’s base package. Yes, taxpayers will have to cover more than $2.5 million of the projected shortfall, but the city cannot operate without its workers and this sends a clear message of their importance. A little goes a long way to improve staff morale.


The dictionary defines a mentor as someone who guides another to greater success. That is the whole idea behind the program that Staff Sgt. Juana Snell with the Marine Corps Logistics Command at Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany brought to International Studies Elementary Charter School last year. Mentors in Action (MIA) has expanded this school year to include Southside Middle School. Marines will spend a minimum of one hour each week with students. Positive role models for some of the children that will be impacted by MIA are few and far between. Marine volunteers can be sure, whether they get to see the fruits of their labor or not, they have and will continue to make a difference in the lives of the students. And for this, we say thank you.

— The Albany Herald Editorial Board