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Queens-R-Us

By The Editor

Queens-R-Us is an organization created to offer a variety of services and inspirational messages to help develop, motivate and encourage young women between the ages of 5-18 to become the Queens they are meant to be.  The focus starts on the inside and works outward.

The organization seeks to inspire girls and young women to understand and know their worth and to mentor them into becoming successful and intentional in all aspects of their lives through adulthood.  Queens-R-Us works to empower young women to become future leaders who exact positive social influence.  The mentoring programs are designed to boost self-esteem, provide educational sessions on health, fitness, dressing for success, financial literacy, community service and more.  It is a holistic approach to being a Queen in today’s society and discussing relevant information about subjects associated with today’s young women.

According to Ms. Carla Hawkins, founder and operator of the program, “It is a dream come true, as I have always wanted a safe and beautiful place where girls can realize their worth and value in this world.  I once was very lost and took a more complicated path in life until God and a very special mentor in my life helped me to realize who I am and who I was meant to be.  I am only paying it forward and want so much to provide the resources that our girls need.  The most important being LOVE AND SUPPORT.  Queens-R-Us wants to be an extension of each girl’s village and remind them that they are meant to be Queens!”

Ms. Hawkins had the honor of being crowned Miss Black Georgia in 2010.  It was her encounter with a young girl as tour the state speaking to young women that lead her to found the organization.  She recalls a little girl commenting that she could never be a Queen.  Ms. Hawkins feels very strongly that no girl should ever feel that way and wants to do what she can to lift that self-doubt.

The organization is currently seeking to increase enrollment by providing school bus transportation from the following schools:  Lincoln Elementary, Lamar Reese School of the Arts, International Studies Elementary Charter School, Robert Cross Middle School, Radium Middle and Monroe High School.  They hope to soon have their own van to pick up girls from all locations.

Queens-R-Us is located at 1319 W. Broad Avenue, Albany, GA  31701.  You can contact them at 229-449-1912 or at queens.r.us.inc@gmail.com.

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Food

Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”  It goes on to say in 1:11-12, “Then God said, ‘Let the land produce vegetation, seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds,’ and it was so.”

Flint River Fresh (FRF), a 501(c)(3) non-profit headquartered in Albany, seeks to increase access to fresh, local, affordable, healthy food for our neighbors, create new economic opportunity for local farmers and positively impact the lives of young people through agriculture.  As Genesis suggests, God created sustenance for humankind before he created man.  Over the generations as societies have become more urbanized, we have moved away from growing our own food and are almost totally dependent on corporations to provide for the most basic of need, food.  Growing up in Albany, my father grew more than half of the food we ate, including meat, vegetables and corn for bread.  In summers, it was probably more than ninety percent. The food was fresh and picked daily.  He sold a good amount to local grocery stores as well.

Today, the gardens are gone and in south Albany, so are most of the supermarkets.  There is only one grocery store south of Oglethorpe.  This, at a time when there is increasing awareness of the health benefits of a plant-based diet.  As we see the growing prevalence of chronic disorders like diabetes, heart diseases, hypertension, etc., all evidence points to the lack of healthy foods and over reliance on processed and fast foods as a major contributing factor.

FRF believes that community gardens are outdoor classrooms that can teach residents how to grow their own groceries while emphasizing the importance of conserving our natural resources and providing a safe gathering space for children and neighbor commune.  FRF aims to build community urban farms where vacant and abandoned lots are transformed into food oases and make fresh food more assessable to underserved neighborhoods.  The stated goals of Flint River Fresh are:

– Create an Urban Farm Training Center with cold storage, commercial kitchen and packing facility,

– Expand Rarmer’s Markets on wheels to serve more communities throughout Southwest Georgia,

– Provide more locally produced food to schools, institutions, grocery stores, and restaurants,

– Develop videos and manuals to teach farmers how to diversify crop selections for new markets, and

– Build a farm-market-café model in low income and rural communities making it easy to choose tasty, hHealthy, convenient and truly affordable meals and groceries.

The group’s Executive Director is Fredando Jackson, also known as Farmer Fredo.  He can be reached at info@flintriverfresh.org.

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Albany State University Presidential Investiture of Marion Ross Fedrick Set for September 6, 2019

ALBANY, Ga. – Marion Ross Fedrick will be officially installed as the 10th president of Albany State University (ASU) at the Presidential Investiture Ceremony scheduled for 11 a.m. on Friday, September 2019.  The Investiture Ceremony will be held at the Billy C. Black Building Auditorium on the ASU East Campus. The ceremony will include a formal procession and greetings from elected officials.

Steeped in history and tradition, a presidential investiture symbolizes the embrace of a new era for the institution and acknowledges the authority of a new leader as well as the official rights and responsibilities of the office.

Fedrick was appointed as the 10th president of Albany State University on August 14, 2018, by the University System of Georgia Board of Regents. She was appointed after serving as both the Interim Executive Vice President and Interim President for the University since October 2017. Fedrick is an accomplished senior leader whose proven expertise spans over 30 years. Her professional background includes:  higher education administration, strategic planning, crisis management and strategic partnership management in both the private and public sectors.

Committed to the impact of academic development, Fedrick believes every student deserves access to an excellent and affordable education. She is a two-time graduate of the University of Georgia with a Bachelor’s Degree in Adult Education with a concentration in Organizational Development and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration.

As president of Albany State University, Fedrick continues to apply her diverse experiences and commitment to drive initiatives that ignite excellence. Under her leadership, the institution has undertaken several critical initiatives that include a redesign of the institution’s academic colleges, approval of the University System of Georgia’s (USG) first nexus degrees and the design and implementation of the university’s integrated student success model to include the creation of the Albany State University Summer Success Institute.

Formerly serving as the USG Vice Chancellor of Human Resources, Fedrick has led strategic initiatives relating to effective university administration, leadership development and human resources planning.

Celebratory events for the investiture will be held Wednesday, September 4 – Saturday, September 7, 2019. For a full list of activities, please visit www.asurams.edu/asuinvestiture.

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Albany Accepts GRAD Certification Award at Georgia Economic Development Conference

Albany, GA – The City of Albany received a Georgia Ready for Accelerated Development (GRAD) program certification for 85 acres of undeveloped land on a southeast section of the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport.  This certification, during the recent Georgia Economic Development Conference, positions the airport land for fast-track development. The advantage of holding this certification allows the City to better compete for the attraction of additional or expanded business and industry at the airport. City of Albany Transportation Director, David Hamilton, stated “… the airport serves as an economic engine for the Southwest Georgia. By working to have this tract of land meet GRAD certification standards it will provide an excellent platform to market the site to business selection consultants as they work to secure sites for clients.”

To accomplish this certification, City staff was required to complete a number of pre-development tasks for the 85 acres that included a phase I environmental assessment, zoning designation, cultural and endangered species investigation and wetlands delineation. The City and its economic development partners will begin marketing the land to site selection consultants as GRAD certified property is highly sought by business and industry when looking to locate or expand operations.

For more information, please contact Monique Broughton Knight, Public Information Officer at mbroughton@albanyga.gov.

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Dukes, Edwards & Dukes, Inc. and LRA & Associates, Inc. Honored by Associated General Contractors

Dukes, Edwards & Dukes, Inc. (DED) and LRA & Associates, Inc. (LRA) were honored for their work in the construction industry by the Associated General Contractors of Georgia, Inc. (AGC) during the Awards Breakfast of their Annual Convention at Westin Hilton Head Island Resort and Spa, June 6-9, 2019. Rep. Winfred Dukes attended the affair with Project Manager, Oscelius Farrar. DED and LRA won 1st Place in the 2019 Build Georgia Award Program for their collaboration on the Commodore Conyers College & Career Academy (4C) project for the Dougherty County Board of Education.

The AGC Build Georgia Award celebrates firms and projects demonstrating construction excellence. Winning projects represent the best the construction industry has to offer by both general contractors and specialty contractors who demonstrate their ability to meet the following criteria:

  • Exceptional project safety performance
  • Overcoming the challenges of a difficult project
  • Innovation in construction techniques and materials
  • Excellence in project management and scheduling
  • Dedication to client service and customer care

“We are grateful to receive this prestigious award for working with LRA on a project so important to our education community,” said Dukes. “The 4C Academy partnership between the Dougherty County School System, Albany Technical College, Albany State University and our business community will benefit young people for years to come.  It will equip educators with a modernized facility to carry on a great legacy of academic excellence and achievement in Albany, Dougherty County and neighboring counties.”  Other school system partners include the Baker County School System, the Calhoun County School System, and the Terrell County School System.

Local participation in the 4C Academy project was highly successful with more than 90% local participation and more than 20% Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) participation.  John L. “Jake” Reese IV of LRA states, “The partnership between LRA Constructors, Inc. and Dukes, Edwards & Dukes, Inc. was formed to create value and better allow the client to meet and exceed its goals of budget, schedule and local participation.  We are very glad to have been the catalyst to make that happen.”

The 4C Academy project included renovations, modifications and additions to the previous Southside Middle School, originally constructed in 1962.  The 104,428 square foot state-of-the-art facility includes a multi-purpose community room and spaces for 14 career pathways ranging from healthcare and manufacturing to marketing and aviation. The existing gymnasium was transformed into robotics and engineering labs.

The team worked closely with the architect and engineers to provide solutions that met design intent, budget and the owner’s goals.  Completing four phases in 13 months required exemplary teamwork, detailed planning and seven-day workweeks, ultimately delivering a project under budget.

The Keynote Speaker for the Awards Breakfast and Program was Commander Kirk Lippold, USN (Ret.), who served as commander of the USS Cole in 2000, when it was targeted by a deadly Al Qaeda terrorist attack.

Outgoing President, Keven Kuntz, welcomed participants by inviting them to participate in numerous convention activities for members and families. AGC Georgia had something for everyone. Activities included business meetings and dinners, networking events, golf tournaments, Kids and Teens Clubs, and a Young Leadership Program Dinner. The Ladies’ Brunch was hosted by Mrs. Cheryle Kuntz.

The Closing Dinner featured the 2019 Skill, Integrity and Responsibility (SIR) Award presentation to Michael E. Kenig, Vice Chairman of Holder Construction Company in Atlanta, and the Installation of 2019-20 President, Brian Daniel.

The Associated General Contractors of Georgia, Inc. (known as AGC Georgia), one of 89 Chapters of The Associated General Contractors of America, was organized in Atlanta on March 15, 1928. Originally chartered as “Georgia Branch, Associated General Contractors of America, Inc.,” the chapter operated under this name until May 2012. AGC Georgia is the leading, statewide professional trade association representing the commercial construction industry in Georgia. The AGC of America represents more than 27,000 firms nationwide.

Founded in 1978, LRA Constructors, Inc. is a full service general contracting, design-build and construction management firm working in Georgia, Florida and Alabama and serving a diverse range of clients in the automotive, religious, healthcare, industrial, government, education, office, multi-unit, retail and specialty markets.

Dukes, Edwards & Dukes, Inc. is the evolution of nearly 60 years of hard work, dedication and a commitment to excellence. The company was started by Sylvester Dukes & Raymond Edwards as Dukes & Edwards Construction in 1951.  They were a non-bonded commercial masonry construction company that grew as general contractors. Winfred Dukes joined Dukes & Edwards more than 35 years ago as a masonry laborer.  He continued to build his skills by taking on positions as carpenter, construction superintendent, estimator and project manager. In 1988, the company was incorporated and became Dukes Edwards & Dukes, Inc.

For more information visit: www.agcga.org, www.lraconstructors.com, http://dukesedwardsdukes.com/.

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Solar Cell

Country Club Estates Reject Solar Farm Zoning Change

The residents of the Country Club Estates community are totally opposed to the solar farm project which would cover 25 acres of land and include more than 8,000 panels within walking distance of their front doors.  Albany City Commissioners denied the solar farm project earlier this summer that was later approved by the Zoning board.  Another full commission vote is scheduled for August 27, 2019.

This is too close for some residents who fear a dramatic increase in traffic, while others are concerned for wildlife that would be impacted by the construction. In an interview with WALB, Jasmine Williams said she feared her quiet neighborhood would change when she saw the proposal for a solar farm that would be steps from her home. “You don’t want all that traffic coming into this quiet neighborhood. This is a residential area and I would want that in a commercial area .”

Others have expressed support for the solar farm project in the area as long as it is handled correctly or “done right.” Some have suggested this project be considered in another part of Albany with a smaller residential population.

A major glitch in the proposal was a city ordinance that stated a solar farm in a two-mile radius of the airport would have to be reviewed by the FAA and prove no interference with airport operations.  According to one resident, Country Club Estates is not two miles from the airport.

Solar farms (sometimes known as solar parks or solar fields) are the large-scale application of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels to generate green, clean electricity at scale, usually to feed into the grid. Solar farms can cover anything between 1 acre and 100 acres and are usually developed in rural areas.

The sentiment of some members of the County Club Estates Homeowners Association are that, this project will not add any value to homeowners while adding value to the people who own the companies.  Joyce Hardy, a Homeowners Association member mentioned the reasons she opposes the project include, “there are no benefits to our community.  This project will decrease our property values while the vegetation, wildlife, animals, bugs and creatures will increase.  The barbwire fences will imprison our neighborhood and give us a prison-like atmosphere.  We are a viable community and contribute greatly to the City of Albany.  This project shows a lack of concern for our neighborhood as a whole.”

The solar farm debate in Albany is far from over. The Country Club Estates community and the West Town community are strongly against the solar farm being located next door and in their backyards.  All concerned citizens of Albany are encouraged to attend the commission meeting on August  27th and voice your opposition to this proposal.

Sources: https://www.walb.com, https://www.npr.org, https://sciencing.com .

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Georgia’s Path2College Plan

College and University costs are skyrocketing.  People are getting crushed under the pressure of student loans. Georgia has provided a way for students to get a jump start on saving for the journey through higher education with The Path2College 529 Plan.

The Path2College 529 Plan, established in 2002, under the Georgia Student Finance Commission, is Georgia’s tax-advantaged college savings plan families can use to help pay for higher education expenses such as tuition, fees, certain room and board costs, books, supplies, equipment required for college enrollment, and K-12 tuition.  Families can invest in a Path2College 529 Plan for as little as $25.  Savings from the plan can be used at any accredited college in the United States and can also be used for students seeking a technical college certificate or diploma, four-year degree, or graduate degree.  It’s available to any citizen or taxpayer. Grandparents other family members and friends can help contribute.

There are a variety of low-cost investment portfolios to choose from including age-based, multi-fund, single-fund and guaranteed options. Funds can be used at most accredited colleges and universities in the United States and certain colleges abroad. Up to $10,000 annually can be used toward K-12 school tuition per student from all 529 plans.

Earnings are free from federal tax, and many states offer a state income tax deduction or tax credit for contributions. Withdrawals are tax-free at both the federal and state level when used for qualified education expenses.  State tax treatment of withdrawals for K-12 tuition expense is determined by the state where you file state income tax.

Path2College 529 Plan contributions are deductible for Georgia income tax purposes up to $4,000 per year, per beneficiary, for those filing a single return. Those limits double beginning January 1, 2020. Any earnings on those contributions in the Path2College 529 Plan are federal and Georgia income tax-deferred.

Withdrawals for qualified higher education expenses are federal and Georgia income tax-free. In addition, distributions from the Path2College 529 Plan for elementary and secondary school tuition are Georgia and federal income tax free up to a maximum of $10,000 a year per beneficiary.

The Path2College 529 Plan recently reached the $3 Billion savings milestone, and fees for families saving in the plan will be reduced. This reduction in fees is projected to save Path2College 529 Plan account owners approximately $300,000 annually.

As of March 31, 2019, the Path2College 529 Plan had more than 170,000 accounts and more than $890 million has been withdrawn to pay for education-related expenses. The Path2College 529 Plan was listed on Clark Howard’s Honor Roll, and it was rated in the “Top 10 Performing” by SavingforCollege.com.  For more information visit: https://www.path2college529.com.

Source:  Georgia Student Finance Commission

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Black and gifted

This series, “Black and Gifted,” explores African Americans from different walks of life that don’t get the media attention they have earned or deserve. It is about the overlooked and the ignored. It is about the talented, the gifted and the young. It is about the unheard.

Some of Hollywood’s biggest hits have been movies and shows about Wall Street. The movie, “Wolf of Wall Street,” based on the life of Jordan Belford, Showtime’s break out show, “Billions,” based on a fictional day trader, and countless others are all inspiring. Insert 29-year old Jonathan Lewis, a college drop out. Born in Houston, Texas, raised in Atlanta, Georgia, he has become one of the most successful Binary Options (A binary option is a financial instrument based on a simple yes or no question where the payoff is a fixed amount or nothing at all) traders in the world, winning global trading competitions weekly.

Jonathan Lewis has tried and failed in many aspects of life, but through perseverance and determination has managed to succeed in more avenues than loses. At 29 years old, Jonathan Lewis is poised to be a heavyweight in the arena of Forex day trading. Forex is short for foreign exchange. The what is better left up to him, but to sum it up, the trader places a wager on whether a specific currency will be more or less valuable during a specific time period. Mr. Lewis founded an LLC, Urban Genius, whose purpose is to promote prosperity through Forex. Urban Genius provides interactive education and private group chats to connect with dozens of members to learn from each.

In addition to day trading, Mr. Lewis is a serial entrepreneur, with businesses in drop shipping, merchandise retailing, education, writing, real estate and recreational marijuana. For him, making money is an around the clock venture.

“A typical day for me is to wake up at 2AM, no alarm, look at my computer, read charts, make a cup of coffee, analyze global currency markets for 3 hours, take my positions, pace myself, grab breakfast, head to the gym and by 8AM my day is done.” says Mr. Lewis. As he casually checks the charts in his phone, you can really tell he eats, sleeps and breathes Forex. With up to 90% of day traders failing, it’s rare to be profitable in day trading. It’s extremely rare to make a living off of it and it’s even more rare to start a group to teach others how to be successful in Forex. The world is constantly evolving, it’s getting smaller in terms of proximity, but is expanding at the same rate. A paradox, much like cryptocurrency.

smaller in terms of proximity, but is expanding at the same rate. A paradox, much like cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency has boomed and recessed in a very short time period. Bitcoin has been the front runner in the cryptocurrency market with most seasoned financial experts claiming the very notion of bitcoin is farce at best. When asked about the validity of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, Mr. Lewis said, “because all currency is based on perception, if society believes any object or “THING” to have value and hold that value to be exchanged for goods/services, it’s to be considered ‘REAL MONEY’. Money can be simply described as a tool to exchange for goods and services. In essence, anything can be money. Many feel that bitcoin is a scam because it’s not backed or supported by anything of tangible value such as gold, but neither is the almighty U.S. DOLLAR. Bitcoin simply allows peer-to-peer exchange of value without the interference of a central government or an excess of fees. It can also transfer value almost instantly across the world much faster than traditional banking, in today’s society

Black success seems to come in the form of athletes, actors and singers. While we do celebrate all of our heroes, we occupy a much broader space than entertainment and sports. We are in every fabric of American society and Mr. Lewis is proof that you don’t have to be what society wants you to be. His book, “Life in the Matrix,” which is part autobiography and part educational, is set to further legitimize him in the financial arena. The book will be out within a few months. If you would like more information on Forex and the group Urban Genius, type in the name Urban Genius on Facebook and Instagram.

More to come.

Joshua “Ocean” Bowens is a Media Specialist. He grew up in Atlanta but spent his summers in Albany. He is a Mass Communications graduate of Fort Valley State University. He is passionate about being able to articulate the contemporary socio-economic and political climate through the written word. Contact: oceanview4679@gmail.com .

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Home Ownership as Economic Development Strategy for Albany

How do we begin to address the persistent poverty and socioeconomic issues that continue to plague the “Good Life” city?  First, we must look at the numbers to understand how they affect the quality life of educational attainments and health, both physical and mental health, of our community.  According to Welfare information, the poverty rate in Albany is 33.2%, meaning one out of every 3 residents of Albany lives in poverty or 23,632 of its 71,129 residents have reported income levels below the poverty line of $24,250 for a family of four.  The poverty rate is 16.3% higher than the state’s rate of 16.9%, which is almost double.  Albany, and its citizenry, need to address this staggering statistic if the community wants to remain competitive in an ever-changing economic development environment.

Homeownership, as an economic development strategy, is the gateway into the American dream.  A dream deferred needs to happen now, no longer waiting to realize the American Dream, but rather moving the needle forward to reality, right here, right now.  The number of homes that are owner-occupied housing in Albany Georgia is at 45%, meaning that we have work to do to reach the national average of 64% of owner-occupied housing.  Homeownership vitally important to help eradicate poverty. Owning real estate is one of the best ways to raise economic status and increase wealth.

The Albany Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) has seen a steady decline in population over the years, with a decline of .681%.  The Albany MSA can manage the population decline by creating an aggressive strategy to address homeownership and population decline, attract the retiring community and retain its youth.  In reviewing homeownership as an economic development strategy, there are three areas of homeownership to consider: 1st time homebuyers, homebuyers seeking to upgrade, and retirees.  To determine the need, low-income or affordable housing must also be considered.  We will begin by reviewing a proposed economic development strategic planning process for homeownership.

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