Thumbs Up! March 24, 2014

ALBANY HERALD EDITORIAL BOARD : See who deserves a thumbs up this week.

Founded in 1845, the U.S. Naval Academy is a four-year college that prepares midshipman physically, morally and mentally to be professional officers in the naval service. Each summer a limited number of rising high school seniors are invited to attend the Naval Academy Summer Seminar. This summer, from across the entire nation, 2,250 invitations were extended and one of those went to Bainbridge High School student and ROTC participant Zack Toole. This young man will have the opportunity to get a glimpse of the life of Naval Academy students by staying on the campus and attending a variety of workshops. Daily physical training will involve group runs and conditioning classes. The student body at the college is known as the Brigade of Midshipman and all are on full scholarships with a choice of 23 different majors. It is an honor to be invited to participate in the summer program and an excellent way for a young person to experience what could become his or her chosen career path. Congratulations to Zach Toole, his parents and the teachers at BHS.

Lee County employees and residents are serious about keeping their community clean. Each year since 2006, the county’s Code Enforcement director, Jim Wright, numerous county employees and a host of willing volunteers participate in the Great American Cleanup. And so it was on Saturday. It is too early to know just how much rubbish was removed this year but leading up to to 2014, there has been a total of 39 tons (about the weight of 12 full-grown hippopotamuses) of debris removed from the county’s roadways and waterways. Lee County Sheriff’s Office and Code Enforcement removed metal from roadways with super magnets, the landfill held an amnesty day and even non-serviceable flags were accepted for proper disposal by the American Legion.

Documents have been signed and the move of VA health care services to the Naval Branch Health Clinic Albany is official. Some services will be available as early as next month with a full clinic opening set for August. Located at MCLB-Albany, the clinic will serve veterans and active duty personnel. Public Affairs Officer Colie Young said it best with these words: “This is a great day for the Navy,Veterans Administration, the 5,800 veterans and 1,500 active-duty military living in the Albany, Ga area.”

In the flurry of qualifying for the May primary election and now the campaigning, there is one person who does not need to get lost in the hubbub. Robert Clay announced last month that he would not seek re-election to the Lee County Board of Education. While certainly not the only incumbent stepping away in the Albany Metro Area, Clay is unique. He first joined the Lee BOE in 1952, holding that position for 13 years. In 1965, Clay became school superintendent, a position held until stepping down in 1997. In 2003, Clay returned to the school board. All together, he has served the students of Lee County for 56 of his 86 years of life. If ever there was a man dedicated to education, it’s Robert Clay. Thank you for all the years of service. You will be missed.

Nonprofit organizations are recognized annually by the Mutual of America Foundation for creating programs that contribute to the betterment of the community they serve. Also of great importance is the ability of the programs to be easily and effectively replicated by other communities. Such is the screening program implemented by the Cancer Coalition of South Georgia. On Thursday, the Cancer Coalition became the recipient of an honorable mention from the national Mutual of America Community Partnership Award. The organization serves 32 counties in South Georgia and has offered cancer screenings to hundreds of people, most of which would have gone without such health testing and at least some portion of which owe their lives to early detection and treatment. In Albany and other parts of South Georgia, people are increasingly aware of the work the Cancer Coalition does but now, notoriety has reached the national level.