Thumbs Up! - Sept. 30, 2013

The word “interim” is derived from Latin and is simply defined as “in the meanwhile.” Albany is fortunate to have two interim officials serving in totally different roles, both very important. When David “Butch” Mosely came on board in January of this year as interim superintendent for the Dougherty County School System, he faced a whale of a mess in addition to a “but we’ve always done it this way” mentality among the masses. Unfortunately, that way of operating the school system was costly and called for a lot of red flags at the state level. Mosely immediately visited the schools, met the principals and set about restoring confidence in the system with employees, parents, the community, the media and the holders of the purse strings in Atlanta. There was much restructuring done, principals shifted, schools closed, money repaid that was needed but inappropriately received and/or used. And so, when HB 208 was passed, limiting the time Mosely could work for the system full-time, it was a blow. An application was filed with the State Board of Education for a waiver that would allow Mosely to remain through June 30, 2014 (and the hiring of a permanent superintendent). On Thursday of last week, the State BOE granted that waiver, much to the delight and relief of many. Thank you, Superintendent Mosely for all you have done and will do for the students of Dougherty County.

Meanwhile, across the street at Albany Water, Gas & Light, interim General Manager Tom Berry is facing equally difficult challenges. Berry brought no sugar to coat the fact that WG&L has problems. The finances of the utility are, to quote, “not a pretty picture.” Berry has described the assets-to-liabilities ratio as alarming. Thankfully, Berry has also been quite clear about his belief that the problems of WG&L must not fall on the backs of the customers in the form of higher rates. With just a couple of weeks under his belt, it’s too early to know just what Berry will do but all indications are that he has a clear picture already of where the problems lie. Mayor Dorothy Hubbard described Berry as “just what the doctor ordered.” City Manager James Taylor said that “Tom is going to work with us like Butch Mosely is doing with the school system.” If indeed that is the case, things can only get better at WG&L.

Congratulations are in order for Coach Mike White at Albany State University. When the game against Elizabeth City State ended with a Rams’ victory (43-13), White earned his 100th career victory. Players knew better than to douse their coach with any sort of liquid, not a way White cares to celebrate, but there were plenty of congratulatory shouts and slaps, signs in the stands and a personal handshake from ASU President Everette J. Freeman. Well done, Coach.

The ups and downs of the Flint RiverQuarium have been many and there was even a time that the survival of the one-of-its-kind facility was questionable. It was the business community that decided that closure must not remain on the radar. Faison Middleton, Luke Flatt and other area business leaders met earlier this year and decided to ask 50 business people to raise money, asking for a two-year commitment. By last Wednesday, the group had raised $320,000 of its $495,000 goal … for both years. Now when granting agencies want to know about community support, there will be no question that Dougherty and Lee counties are staunchly behind the Flint RiverQuarium.

The Albany Herald Editorial Board