A1 A1
Georgia environmental leaders tour southwest Georgia
  • Updated

ALBANY -- This week about 30 environmental leaders from across the state are in southwest Georgia as part of the Institute for Georgia Environmental Leadership Class of 2021.

The current class is the 19th such group to come to the area. These leaders come from all parts of the state and various fields of environmental involvement, including law, government, nonprofit, agriculture, industry, scientist, municipal and many others. The goal of the IGEL experience is to gather people from different fields of expertise and combine them to learn about each other’s experiences and create a network of people working together to solve environmental problems.

IGEL was formed in 2001 at the University of Georgia. It was based on an ideal that if people get to know each other and share their thoughts and views, they can better work with each other to settle differences and disputes, instead of constantly ending up in protracted disputes and court action. Since 2001, hundreds of alumni have completed the training.

After graduation, alumni have implemented their new skills and training to successfully solve environmental challenges and called on fellow graduates to confer and collaborate on sustainability issues. Instead of constant conflict, Georgia’s environmentally-aware leaders can now work together to create a brighter, cleaner future for our state.

Each year, except for the COVID year of 2020, the students travel to different parts of the state to get information from local experts on particular issues in that area. In southwest Georgia the students get to visit and listen to experts from agricultural, science, riverkeeping, irrigation, forestry and other sectors.

As with every year, the group meets on the first day for a water adventure on the Flint River. This trip is hosted by Flint Riverkeeper, Rocky Bend Flint River Retreat, the Jones Ecological Research Center and CoveyRise Plantation. Usually the majority of the group paddles from Rocky Bend to CoveyRise, but this year, due to high water, the group boarded the “White Rose” and cruised down the Flint to CoveyRise for a porch session with discussion on the needs and issues of the river and creek systems in this area.

“We are really excited about mobilizing communities in the upper Flint to become aware of this amazing resource, and look forward to bringing folks down to see the entire watershed,” Darryl Haddock (of the South Fulton) West Atlanta Watershed Alliance (WAWA), said.

“I appreciated the opportunity to learn first-hand the impacts and importance of the Flint River from the Riverkeeper staff and board members," Kathleen Bowen of Dekalb County and the Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG), said. "Being physically on the river led us to thoughtful, relevant conversations that wouldn’t have occurred had we been in a classroom setting.”

The remainder of the week the class will be instructed on various environmental issues in Albany, as well as on-site visits to farms, fields, research facilities, and other locations in southwest Georgia. The majority of these discussions will center on water availability and its issues and use among the people.

Water, Wings Wildlife fest returns to RiverQuarium
  • Updated

ALBANY – The Flint RiverQuarium will once again be the site of the Water, Wings, & Wildlife Festival on Saturday. This year’s festival kicks at 9 a.m. with two premier events: the annual Butterfly Breakfast and Discover SCUBA.

Tommy Gregors, the executive director of the Artesian Alliance, said that the festival has been an annual event for more than a decade.

“The Butterfly House has been a favorite attraction since we brought it here seven years ago to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the aquarium," Gregors said. "It gives us an opportunity to showcase these pollinators and allow people to observe them up close as well as feed them. It has become a tradition people look forward to each year”.

The Butterfly Breakfast is an event designed especially for children ages 2-5 and their parents. After an adventure with the Butterfly Queen, which includes a light breakfast, the butterfly story, craft, and a song, participants will enjoy an exclusive visit to the mobile butterfly house filled with hundreds of fluttering butterflies, as well as a duck race down the RiverQuarium water steps. Children are encouraged to dress in costume. The Mobile Butterfly House is sponsored by MolsonCoors and Mark’s Greenhouse.

Due to COVID safety protocols, tickets are being sold by the table instead of individually in order to allow for groups to social distance. Tables for eight are $135. Flint RiverQuarium and Water, Wings & Wildlife festival admission is included with a Butterfly Breakfast purchase. Members receive a 10% discount. Space is limited and pre-paid advance ticketing is required. Tickets may be purchased online at https://flintriverquarium.regfox.com/butterfly-breakfast-2021.

Discover SCUBA provides participants with the unique opportunity to get their fins wet in the Flint RiverQuarium Blue Hole and gain first-hand experience with everything SCUBA in an introductory class taught by staff from Adventure Dive Center. By the end of the lesson, participants will be swimming with the gentle giants of the RiverQuarium collection, including large striped bass and Atlantic sturgeon.

Participants must be over the age of 12, and those under 18 must have a parent/guardian present. No previous experience with SCUBA diving or equipment is needed. Participants must bring their own bathing suits, towels and change of clothes. All SCUBA diving gear, wet suits and flippers are provided. Water, Wings & Wildlife Festival admission is included with cost of Discover SCUBA lesson. Space is limited, and pre-paid advance ticketing is required. Tickets are $40 and may be purchased online at https://flintriverquarium.regfox.com/discover-scuba-water-wings-and-wildlife-2021.

Members of any of the Artesian Alliance organizations can take advantage of the current SWAPtember promotion using their membership card from the Flint RiverQuarium, Chehaw, or Thronateeska for free admission to the Water, Wings & Wildlife Festival. All three Artesian Alliance organizations have teamed up again to give members a chance to "swap" memberships so they can experience what each attraction has to offer.

Festival admission is included in the cost of regular Flint RiverQuarium admission rates. This year’s festival schedule includes a wide variety of activities and presentations. Some may require additional fees.

9 a.m. – Butterfly Breakfast (additional fee)

9 a.m. – Discover SCUBA (additional fee)

10 a.m. – Water, Wings & Wildlife Festival gates open

10 a.m. -- Discover SCUBA (additional fee)

10:30 a.m. – Birds of Prey show

11:30 a.m. – Imagination Theater movie: "Alligator Kingdom"

Noon — Native Plants program by Coastal Plain Chapter of the Georgia Native Plant Society

Noon -- Discover SCUBA (additional fee)

1:30 p.m. – Birds of Prey show

2 p.m. – Imagination Theater movie: "Alligator Kingdom"

2:30 p.m. – Storytelling performance by Lee County High School students

3 p.m. – Reptile & Amphibian program

3 p.m. – Discover SCUBA (additional fee)

4 p.m. – Butterfly release

Food trucks will be on site and additional presentations and activities will take place in the Flint RiverQuarium Plaza throughout the Festival including:

-- 4C Academy: Bird house building

-- Albany Parks & Recreation Department: Children’s crafts

-- Albany State University: Host fish project

-- Flint RiverQuarium: Children’s crafts

-- Georgia DNR: Fire ecology

-- Thronateeska Heritage Center: Physics of Flight activities

-- Coastal Plain Chapter of the Georgia Native Plant Society

Other groups providing education, demonstration or entertainment projects include:

-- Crisp County Extension Office

-- Flint Riverkeeper

-- Georgia Reptile Society

-- Monarchs Across Georgia

-- Quail Forever

-- SOWEGA Beekeepers

-- Albany Audubon Society

The Flint RiverQuarium is located at 101 Pine Ave. in downtown Albany. Regular operating hours are Monday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Lee School System adopts layered COVID mitigation strategy
  • Updated

LEESBURG – The Lee County School System released a document this week outlining COVID-19 protocols and continuum of multilayered mitigation strategies. The document was designed to inform stakeholders on the modifications taken “to keep staff and students as safe as possible while providing them the opportunity to work and learn.”

Face coverings are encouraged on all LCSS campuses and will be required on all LCSS buses. Additional cleaning and sanitization efforts have been increased. Scheduled maintenance and cleaning of ventilation systems have been increased, as well as the frequency of “deep cleaning” when few or no students are on campus. Students are encouraged to utilize School Café (an electronic payment system) to limit physical contact through money exchanges.

If anyone or an immediate family member tests positive for COVID, is awaiting the results of a COVID test, or has been in contact with someone with COVID, they should report the contact to their supervisor, teacher, school administrator, or school nurse.

The LCSS is focused on keeping family and staff informed of COVID-19 cases on the https://www.lee.k12.ga.us/Content/lcss-covid-19-cases website.

Quarantine guidelines are contingent upon where an individual was exposed. Parents of students exposed at school have two options: return to school with a face covering and properly wear the covering for 10 days post-exposure and adhere to the school’s quarantine procedures, or quarantine at home following the same guidelines as at-home exposure.

Students exposed off campus who are vaccinated may follow the “at-school exposure” guidelines. Unvaccinated students must quarantine at home. If a student is not displaying any symptoms on day eight with a negative test taken on or after day five, they may return to school wearing a face covering. With no test and no symptoms, a student can return on day 11 wearing a face covering. Vaccinated students may follow the “at-school exposure guidelines”.

The LCSS has developed an advanced layered mitigation strategy based on local COVID rates.

Level 1 strategies are based on a 0-199 caseload and includes prominent signage on campus, increased cleaning schedules, disinfection of high-touch surfaces, increased air filtration maintenance, hand sanitizing stations in high-traffic areas, a community of respect for the space of others, face coverings are optional but highly recommended.

Level 2 strategies are based on a 200-399 caseload and include limiting visitors and volunteers on campus as well as a reduction of indoor capacity for athletic events, performances, and public meetings.

Level 3 strategies are based on a 400-599 caseload and includes increased spacing in large classroom spaces, visitors and volunteers on campus will be paused as well as field trips, large employee meetings will be virtual, face coverings will b required indoors for LCSS staff, and limited use of indoor community facilities.

Level 4 strategies are based on a caseload of 600+ and include outdoor capacity for athletic events, performances, and public meetings will be reduced, face coverings will be required for students indoors when responsible distancing is not possible, use of outdoor community facilities will be limited, and modified in-person school schedules and/or remote learning options for families may be implemented.

In each of these strategies, targeted closures could occur based on specific conditions for any of the following: classrooms, hallways, grade levels, or schools. Level advancement is applied as conditions warrant per reported PCR cases per 100,000 people for the last 14 days in the county.

Phoebe offers free mammograms in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month
  • Updated

ALBANY – In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Phoebe’s Carlton Breast Health Center will offer 100 free 3-D mammograms in October to women who are uninsured and are due for their annual screening.

“It is important that women continue their annual screenings and mammograms, which are vital to early breast cancer detection and successful treatment,” Ursula Dennis-Mathis, the oncology quality director at Phoebe Cancer Center, said.

The free 3-D mammograms will be provided to the first 100 eligible women who make appointments at the Carlton Breast Health Center. To be considered for one of the free breast tomosynthesis screenings, each applicant must meet the following criteria:

♦ not have had a mammogram in the last 12 months;

♦ age 40 or older;

♦ not experiencing any breast problems, (if you are experiencing breast problems, contact your doctor immediately);

♦ uninsured;

♦ not pregnant;

♦ live in one of the following counties: Baker, Calhoun, Colquitt, Crisp, Dougherty, Early, Lee, Miller, Mitchell, Randolph, Sumter, Terrell, Tift, Turner, Worth;

♦ must have a referring physician.

Carlton Breast Health Center began using 3-D mammography (breast tomosynthesis) more than five years ago. During a tomosynthesis exam, multiple, low-dose images of the breast are acquired at different angles. The 3-D view of the breast tissue helps radiologists identify and characterize individual breast structures without the confusion of overlapping tissue.

Tomosynthesis technology has a 40 percent higher invasive cancer detection rate than conventional 2-D mammography alone and provides up to a 40 percent reduction in false positive recalls. The system also offers exceptional sharp images and ergonomic design for patient comfort.

Breast cancer is the second-most common cancer among women. For 2021, the American Cancer Society estimates nearly 281,550 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed, roughly 49,290 new cases of ductal carcinoma in situ will be diagnosed (DCIS is non-invasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer), and nearly 43,600 people will lose their battle with the disease. The Carlton Breast Health Center urges women to remember breast cancer screenings are an important part of personal health.

To schedule an appointment, call Phoebe Patient Contact Center at (229) 312-4800. Scheduling for the free mammograms is underway.

MaKenna W., Lee County Middle School East