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$62.7 million contract brings Albany-to-Valdosta road project closer to completion
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ALBANY — A four-lane highway project linking Albany to Valdosta and U.S. Interstate 75 South got a major boost this week with the awarding of a contract to complete roughly one-third of the remaining work on the project.

The Georgia Department of Transportation announced the $62.7 million contract with Reames and Son Construction of Valdosta on Tuesday. It is the largest of 15 construction projects now set for construction, totaling $103.74 million.

The 8.55 mile stretch of roadway in Colquitt County will complete the work from U.S. 319/Georgia Highway 35 north to Mike Horne Road. Eventually the work will complete four-laning to the Mock Road intersection in Dougherty County.

The Valdosta-to-Moultrie stretch of the highway had previously been completed.

“The widening of 133 has been a priority of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce and the region for some time,” chamber President and CEO Barbara Rivera Holmes said during a Wednesday telephone interview. “It increases economic competitiveness, traffic flow for residents and businesses, and increases safety. Any time we get infrastructure improvements, it’s a huge win.”

Former U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, who was a Moultrie resident, helped secure funding to get the ball rolling on the work that provides four-lane access to the I-75 corridor during his tenure in Congress. Over the years, sections from a few miles to 11 miles have been funded and completed.

With existing four-lane highways linking in Moultrie from Thomasville and Tallahassee, Tifton and Valdosta, the 133 project will be a big addition, said Colquitt County Administrator Chas Cannon.

“That’s why they call us the hub of southwest Georgia,” he said. “The 133 project will add to that. Having Saxby involved didn’t hurt. Other people have helped on the state and local level as well.”

The project has been on the wish list in Colquitt County and other cities and counties in the region for several decades, Cannon said.

“I’m glad some of our commissioners who worked on this so hard in the ’90s are still around to see this,” he said. “Transportation has been a huge issue, especially the last few years, (and) people will be able to move their product from state to state and location to location easier. That affects their bottom line. It really helps them be more efficient.”

The transportation department did not give a date for completion of the project.

“We are thankful for GDOT’s continued investment in south Georgia, and are all very anxious to see this project come to fruition,” Jana Dyke, president and CEO of the Albany-Dougherty County Economic Development Commission, said in an email response. “This expansion will have a tremendous impact on not only the Marine Corps Logistics Base, but also our existing industries accessing both I-75 & I-10.”

Health care facilities can start requesting vaccines
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ALBANY — The Southwest Public Health District is encouraging health care organizations and congregate living facilities to request the COVID vaccine for their employees through the district’s website, District Health Director Dr. Charles Ruis said in a news release.

Now that the vaccine is arriving in all southwest Georgia health departments, health care workers and facilities are able to obtain it, Ruis said. Among the facilities qualified to register are hospitals, urgent care facilities, long-term care facilities, EMS, doctors’ and dentists’ offices, home health care agencies, hospice organizations, and certain specialty care facilities.

Health care organizations in the 14-county district can fill out the vaccine request form on the district’s website at www.southwestgeorgiapublichealth.org. A member of the public health staff will contact each facility as soon as the health district is able to schedule the vaccine service. Individuals who are self-employed as health care workers may call their local health department for information and scheduling.

For more information about COVID-19, visit https://dph.georgia.gov/novelcoronavirus or https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

Dougherty Emergency Medical Services uses Narcan to save lives; overdoses 'surge'
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ALBANY — There was a time when overdoses of opiate drugs made up a handful of calls in a month for Dougherty County paramedics.

Times have changed, as those calls have increased over recent years and exploded in the last couple of months.

“In the last 12 hours, we had four patients who overdosed and we had to use Narcan on them,” Sam Allen, the director of Dougherty County Emergency Medical Services, said. “It used to be we were running three or four a month.”

Also alarming is that agency personnel are seeing patients who are having more serious overdoses. Part of that is attributed to the fact that residents who became addicted to prescription opiate medications are turning to street drugs such as heroin when they are no longer able to get their fix through pharmaceutical versions.

“This is getting unreal, the amount that we’re going (to),” Allen said. “These people are in severe respiratory depression, and it’s getting worse. It’s dangerous and it’s deadly.”

Allen said he suspects that more and more heroin is being laced with fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.

“We’re pretty sure what we’re seeing is fentanyl working its way into the market,” he said. “It’s way more deadly and quicker. It’s alarming what’s out there.”

Recently, a grant from the Morehouse School of Medicine, secured through the Phoebe Putney Health System’s Network of Trust, provided Dougherty EMS with naloxone — also known by the brand name Narcan — for use with patients who have overdosed on an opioid.

The medication has been a time — and life — saver for paramedics.

In the past when a call involved an overdose, the paramedic first made that determination and then had to return to the ambulance to retrieve and prepare an intravenous version to give to the patient. The Narcan available through the grant can be delivered through a nasal spray.

“We’re putting them in the medic bag (EMTs) carry now,” Allen said. “They can immediately use Narcan spray on the patient.”

In many cases, medics are having an easier time identifying overdose cases.

“Fortunately, this person had the needle still sticking out of the arm, so they knew first thing it was an overdose,” Allen said of one of the Wednesday overdose calls.

The director said he does not know what is behind the recent trend of more overdose cases, but it’s something that has really taken off recently. August, September and October were about normal, but then, beginning in November, they spiked.

“We’ve seen a surge for this month,” Allen said.

Albany Chamber announces Under 40 finalists
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ALBANY – The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce announced the finalists of the 2020 Albany Under 40 awards, a program that honors and celebrates the Albany area’s emerging leaders and professionals in a variety of business sectors, each representing a component of the area’s diversified talent pool and economy.

“The Albany area is home to young leaders who are making their mark through excellence in their professions, through their innovation and through their participation in building a stronger community and region,” Bárbara Rivera Holmes, president and CEO of the Albany Area Chamber, said in a news release. “We’re honored to recognize these diverse, outstanding professionals — this talent — and proud they’ve chosen to live, work and invest in the Albany area.”

“We know that people are at the heart of our businesses, our organizations and our community. The 2020 Albany Under 40 finalists represent the incredible and growing talent of our local work force,” Zan Waldon-Cooley, the volunteer Leadership Division chair of the Albany Area Chamber and the Albany Under 40 program coordinator, said. Waldon is the Workforce Development Specialist, Workforce Planning & Analysis Branch Chief at Marine Corps Logistics Command in Albany.

Nominations for Albany Under 40 were sought from the public. Finalists were considered from among the nominees who applied, and were selected, following selections criteria, by a panel of volunteer judges: Jessica Nicole Dorsey; iHeart Radio; Pamela Green-Jackson, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany; Jeretha Peters, Wells Fargo Advisors; Daniel Stone, Synovus; Brianna Wilson, Southern Point Staffing; Milan Patel, Indusa Investments; Clifton Bush, Albany Area Primary Health Care; Alvita Swain; Strive2Thrive; Jacqueline Nicholson, Albany State University; Rob Collins, NEOS Technologies, and Tau Kadhi, Albany State University.

Category winners, selected from among the category finalists, will be announced soon. The 2020 Albany Under 40 Young Professional of the Year, selected by the volunteer panel from among the category winners, will be announced at the Albany Area Chamber’s 111th annual meeting, the details of which are to be announced.


Arts, Entertainment, Culinary Arts, Events, Tourism & Hospitality

Harry McKenny Day, Flint River Extertainment Complex

Travis Quintell Robinson, Chef Travis Robinson

Meagan Weaver, Southern Premier Suites

Civics, Defense, Government & Public Affairs

Kalandria Peterson-Kearney, Albany Police Department

Financial & Insurance Services

Robert Bradley Abell, Hutchins Clenney Rumsey Huckaby P.C.

Meryl K. Joiner, Synovus

Laurie E. Senn, Members United Credit Union

Innovation & Start-Up

Victoria Gatsby-Green Brackins, Victoria Gatsby International

Tiffany Terell, A Better Way Grocers

Journalism, Marketing & Public Relations

Erin Whatley Andrews, NEOS

Kerri Copello, FOX 31 News

Corey Holman, Grace Life Marketing


Eric M. Nestale, Ross, Handelman, Nestale & Goff

Steven Pruitt II, Perry & Walters

William F. Underwood III, Law Offices of William F. Underwood III

Manufacturing, Service Industries, Energy & Architecture

Mallory Black, CNI

Nick Cribb, Sam Services

Sherrer Massey Hester, Indusa Developments

Alex Willson, Sunnyland Farms

Medicine & Health Care

Jake Lee Evans, Dental Partners of Southwest Georgia

Noelle A. Rolle, Phoebe Rheumatology

Jonathan Whitaker, Albany Area Primary Healthcare

Nonprofit Services

Samantha Lee Helton, Albany Area YMCA

Ashley Nestale, Family Literacy Connection

O’tessa Nicole Pelham, Albany Elite Sports

Sports, Wellness & Fitness

Troy Griggs, Albany Area YMCA

Hollis Smith, Aspire Apex Coordinator

Nicole Patten, Aspire Behavioral Health & Developmental Disability Services


David Anderson, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany

Jodie Kretzer, Albany State University

Youth & Education

Sarah E. Holloway, Dougherty County School System

King Randall, “X” for Boys

Tiffany Nicole Miller, Balancing the 21st Century Equation

Albany Under 40, a program of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, honors and celebrates the Albany area’s emerging professionals who have distinguished themselves in their respective industries and who, through their stewardship, are helping create a stronger, healthier community and region.