Since 2011, the Georgia Water Coalition has published an annual Dirty Dozen list. The list highlights problems with the State’s waterways, especially pollution. While that list will no doubt be published again, the tables have turned to look at the half-full side of the issue. All across the state, businesses, government entities, individuals and others are working hard to preserve and protect our abundant water resources. The Clean 13 report will take the focus away from the bad apples and focus on the positive. From rivers to lakes to wetlands and beaches, Georgia has it all. Nominations for the inaugural 2017 Clean 13 will be accepted through March 31 at gawater.org/clean-13-nomination-form. If you have a person, organization, business or industry deserving of this recognition, don’t delay, nominate today.

Survive-a-Storm Shelters is a manufacturer and distributor of above-ground and underground residential tornado shelters, community safe-rooms and survival bunkers. The company is literally in the business of saving lives. Sales have increased following the January storms and the company, headquartered in Thomasville, decided to give back to the community a part of its sales during a specific time period. Second Harvest of South Georgia, a major player in keeping people fed during the immediate crisis following the Jan. 22 tornadoes, has been presented with a check for $3,975. With the bulk-rate buying power of the food bank, the donation will great benefit the agency’s work with recovery efforts, restocking emergency supplies and keeping hunger at bay in Southwest Georgia.

And now there are 28. That is the number of Dougherty County Jail inmates who have successfully completed the work and been presented with a GED while incarcerated. The program, one of just a few like it in Georgia, is a partnership with Albany Technical College and has no line item in the jail’s budget. Private donations cover the costs of books and materials. Inmates must apply for enrollment and selection is based on the nature of the crime(s), behavior and sincerity of intent. Interest in the program has risen so that a waiting list to get into the classes has become a necessity. Any thinking person can deduce that lack of education leads to lack of employment, which often leads to crime. There are always naysayers, calling this program a waste of time and money is a conclusion is just plain wrong. Of those who have been released from the jail with a GED earned while they were incarcerated, only two have returned to jail.

Mark the calender now and makes plans to attend the Albany Strong Fest on Saturday. The event will be held from noon until 7 p.m. with activities for all ages. There will be music, food, bounce houses and even an early Easter egg hunt. A wide array of agencies beneficial to storm victims will be on hand. Individuals, groups and businesses will be recognized for their unselfish volunteerism following the storms. But more than any of that, it is a time of healing for a seriously wounded community. Come spend time with family and friends. Meet and make new friends of the strangers that cut your trees or fed your family. It is free and open to everyone.

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