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Dougherty County to offer $100 gift cards to residents who get COVID vaccinations
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ALBANY — Nearly 1,700 Dougherty County residents could receive $200 to get a COVID-19 vaccination under a program approved on Monday.

In a 4-2 vote, the Dougherty County Commission approved the recommendation to take a similar program for employees to the public. Commissioners Gloria Gaines, Russell Gray, Anthony Jones and Ed Newsome approved spending up to $338,000 in federal funds on the effort.

The county will host a Saturday vaccination site outside the Albany Civic Center and a second event in three weeks at which recipients can get a second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

Vaccines will be available for anyone 12 and older, but only those county residents who are 18 or older will be eligible to receive a $100 Visa card upon receiving each of the two shots.

A number of representatives from the medical and emergency services showed up in support of the vaccine incentives.

Both Gray and Newsome had some criticism of the proposal as presented but supported the overall idea of spending part of the $8 million the county received this year in American Rescue Plan Act funds to entice residents to get vaccinated. Newsome’s complaint was that it may not go far enough.

“I don’t think this program is broad enough,” he said. “I think you need to open it up and do more dates to make it effective. If we’re going to spend that kind of money, let’s open up some more dates and get more people vaccinated. If we’re going to make a difference, I think we need to expand this program.”

For Gray, the issue was that some people might show up for the second vaccination clinic to get the initial shot for the $100 payout and then fail to get the second shot.

“They’re going to get a $100 gift card and then not follow up for a second shot because they’re not getting an incentive,” he said. “There’s no way for us to follow up.”

A person who gets only one shot receives 60 percent of the effectiveness, Dr. Kathy Hudson, chief medical officer at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital told commissioners.

“I’m thinking if we can get people to take one shot, that’s better than no shot,” she said.

Commissioners Victor Edwards and Clinton Johnson were against paying people to get a no-cost vaccination that’s readily available.

Edwards also complained that the county has not developed a long-term strategy for using the $8 million in COVID relief funding.

“We still have not sat down as a board and decided in which direction we’re going to go with this ARP money,” Edwards said. “We’re nibbling on that $8 million.

“I shouldn’t have to dangle $100 in front of anybody. To me that’s a form of coercion. I don’t see why we should have to pay for something somebody can get for free.”

The incentives will accomplish part of the goal of the federal intent by providing an infusion of money, including to economically distressed communities, Gaines said.

“I can appreciate what you all are saying, but I see it differently,” she said. “That is putting more money into the community, and that is what we need. I think that’s a good use of the money.”

Last month commissioners approved a $300 incentive for employees who provided proof of vaccination. Since that program was put into place, the percentage of vaccinated employees has increased from about 10 percent to nearly 50 percent.

County Administrator Michael McCoy said he plans to present a set of recommendations on use of the federal funds around the middle of October.

Molson Coors teams with Flint Riverkeeper for brewery’s 'Our Imprint Month'
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ALBANY — Members of the Flint Riverkeeper joined employees of the Molson Coors Albany Brewery Saturday for the company’s “Our Imprint Month.” This was the 10th anniversary of a local partnership that focuses on keeping southwest Georgia water bodies clean and healthy.

The volunteers focused this year on cleaning up Lake Worth, Turner Landing and Cleve Cox Landing. About 300 pounds of trash were removed from these locations and taken back to Cox Landing to be safely deposited in a dumpster provided by Complete Resource Management.

Increasing revealing science has clearly shown that human trash in our waterways is not only an eyesore, but also consumes oxygen as it decomposes, interrupts aquatic food webs as particles of plastic and organic fibers interfere with the feeding of plankton and small fish, and even enters human bodies as microplastics spread throughout the river system and out into oceanic waters thence consumed as we eat fish and other harvested creatures.

“Participating in this annual event is something myself and many others look forward to year over year,” Senior Brewery Systems Engineer Joanne Conger, who led the Molson Coors team, said. “Personally, I was pleasantly surprised to see so little trash in the actual waterways this year. It shows that the continuous efforts of organizations like Keep Albany-Dougherty Beautiful, Flint Riverkeeper, and Rivers Alive of Georgia are making an impact locally. We need all citizens in the community engaged in picking up litter and trash from ditches and roadways to help prevent it from making it into the rivers and lakes. ”

This long-term partnership has always focused on keeping area water resources clean for all to enjoy. Both the brewery and the Riverkeeper understand the importance of having enough clean water, whether it’s making beer or just enjoying a day on the water taking in nature’s splendor.

“Water is a key ingredient in beer, and Molson Coors Beverage Company cares deeply about water stewardship in all aspects of the beer-making process, whether it’s on the farm or in the brewery,” a brewery spokesperson said. “As a user of this resource, Molson Coors Beverage Company works to manage water usage responsibly and proactively to protect its quality and availability.

“Albany isn’t just a place we work – it’s our home. Our brewery has been here in Albany for more than 45 years. Water is not just the main ingredient in our quality beers – clean water is vital for the city of Albany and the folks who live here. At Molson Coors Beverage Company, we believe it’s our responsibility to help preserve this precious resource so our neighbors in Albany can use and enjoy it for years to come.”

Gordon Rogers, the executive director and Flint Riverkeeper, said the efforts of Molson Coors employees stretch beyond the annual cleanup event.

“It’s a pleasure working with our friends at Molson Coors to help rid a portion of the Flint of refuse,” Rogers said. “And the work goes on beyond that. Every day Molson Coors is producing a great product with minimal waste, using water from deep aquifers that have no direct effect on surface flow. Years ago, they stopped burning coal as a power source. And their financial support of the Flint Riverkeeper helps fund our work to ensure enough clean water for people, farms, businesses and nature, not just in Albany but from Atlanta to the Florida line.”

All in all, it was a great day on the water for the group, doing good things for the community.

Parker to deliver Albany Tech State of College address
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ALBANY — Albany Technical College President Anthony O. Parker will deliver a State of the College address on Wednesday at 11 a.m., direct from the Albany Technical College YouTube Channel. Due to COVID-19 health conditions in the community, the decision has been made to hold the Sept. 15 presentation in a virtual format. The Albany Technical CollegeYouTube link is https://www.youtube.com/user/albanytech1.

Parker will highlight Albany Tech’s graduation and job placement rates and how the college measures up within the seven-county Service Delivery Area. Information will be presented on current enrollment, retention and Technical College System of Georgia goals. Parker’s remarks also will list new programs of study at the college and information about academic initiatives.

Other information showcased in the presentation includes:

♦ Some of the accomplishments achieved in academic years 2020 and academic year 2021;

♦ Challenges coming up in academic year 2022;

♦ The status and progress toward facility expansion and investments.

Parker will discuss capital outlay project needs for Diesel and Automotive Collision Repair, a proposed Public Safety Center, and back-filled expansion of programs in the existing Center of Excellence in Information Technology and Electronics building.

Southgate residents share speeding concerns with Dougherty County Commission
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ALBANY — Residents of one Dougherty County community are looking to slow down reckless drivers in their neighborhood where, they say, they pose a danger to pedestrians and children.

Willie Dawson, who addressed the Dougherty County Commission in February, was back on Monday to check on the project.

“It seems like the progress has stopped as far as getting some kind of (answer) on when speed bumps will be placed on Astoria Drive,” he said. “We’re asking that the speed study be done and at least three speed bumps be placed on Astoria Drive.”

The Southgate community, where Dawson lives, is centered around the intersection of Lily Pond Road and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive close to the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport.

“Those cars go by fast and people are texting,” Dawson said. “We’ve got kids and people just walking for exercise.’

On one occasion, he said, a car swerved at a dead end, jumped the curb and nearly struck a house.

Betty Frazier told commissioners a speeding driver’s car went through her yard, causing damage, and struck a car next door, coming to rest near the neighbor’s house.

“It ended up almost in their bedroom, and this was at 10:30 at night,” she said.

A traffic study needed before installing speed bumps has been delayed because the city of Albany, which performs the work for the county, has had issues with its equipment, County Administrator Michael McCoy said. He said he expected to have an answer as early as Monday on when the work could be completed.

Commissioner Russell Gray suggested placing speed alert signs the county recently purchased in the area. The digital signs flash the speed of approaching cars.

If placing the equipment in the neighborhood works, it could eliminate the need for the “nuclear option” of permanent speed bumps, Gray said.

“I think this may be a good test to see if this will remind drivers how fast they are going,” he said.

Maddox H., Lake Park Elementary School