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Monroe Student Athletes Named to All-Region Teams take Player of the Year Honors

ALBANY, Ga. — Student-athletes from Monroe Comprehensive High School dominated the 1-AAA All-Region teams, including Player-of-the-Year nods, while the boys and girls head coaches snagged Coach-of-the-Year honors.  Leading the honors were Marius Ellis, the All-Region Player of the Year, and Dominick Henderson, who was named the All-Region Defensive Player of the Year.

The Monroe boys team, which claimed the Region 1-AAA crown, ended up with Senior Matthew Green and Junior Kareem Nixon on the first team All-Region team. Sophomore Cedric Johnson was named to the second team All-Region team. Head Coach Michael Hoffpauir, who is in his first season as the Golden Tornadoes head coach, was named Boys Coach of the Year by his fellow Region 1-AAA coaches.

The Monroe Girls team, coached by Jennifer Acree, had Kenzi Williams and Catriesa White named to the first team All-Region squad, with Aaliyah Johnson named to the second team All-Region. Jordan Elder and Saniyah McDuffie were named honorable mention. Acree was named the Region 1-AAA Girls Coach of the Year.

 

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Fair Fight:  Albany City Elections

I truly debated the merits of writing this article.  Over the last few years, especially since the 2016 national elections, I have watched with dismay as Americans’ faith in free and fair elections, in my opinion, declined.  It worries me a lot.  I came of age in the sixties and have voted, come hell or high water, in every election since.  I completely buy into the notion that the right to vote and have that vote counted equally is foundational to democracy.  When I graduated college and left Albany, I left to work for renowned Civil Rights activist and Congressman, John Lewis, at the Voter Education Project in Atlanta.  I worked with Congressman Lewis and the late State Representative Julian Bond throughout the 13 southern states in the 1970’s to fully implement the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  Even then sometimes it was scary work in the deepest parts of Alabama and Mississippi.

When I read the following statement by Fair Fight’s CEO Lauren Groh-Wargo on July 29, 2019, and reflected on the 2016 presidential election, and on the Georgia statewide elections last year and other reported questions about the efficacy of elections outcomes even locally, I thought I would just raise a word of caution as we enter the important City of Albany municipal elections scheduled for November 5, 2019.  WE MUST BE ON GUARD!  Nothing is sacred anymore, not even the vote.

This is likely to be the last election in Dougherty County to use the current voting machines and software that date back to 2002.  The State of Georgia has entered into a contract with Dominion Voting Systems to provide new machines and software in time for next year’s primary as ordered by court.  The company beat out ES&S which held close ties associates of former Secretary of State and now Governor, Brian Kemp.

Fair Fight is an anti-voter suppression organization formed by Stacey Abrams after her failed efforts to become the first black or female governor of Georgia in 2018. Here is the CEO’s statement:

“Make no mistake that it was a result of the hard work of litigation, activism, and advocacy that the state has chosen Dominion over ES&S for the largest purchase of voting machines in American history.  ES&S has infiltrated Georgia government, bribed politicians, shielded itself from public records requests, and failed in state after state, and, because of our and our allies’ months long efforts to expose this corruption, the choice by the state is not as bad as it could have been.  Today’s announcement, however, does nothing to change the fact that hand-marked paper ballots are more secure than election machines.  Team Kemp cannot be trusted to protect the integrity of Georgia’s election system after his office repeatedly compromised and failed for a decade to provide necessary support and training to Georgia Counties.  Frighteningly, court hearings last week revealed that employees of Georgia vendors are currently accessing Georgians’ personal information on unsecure networks in their personal homes.  This announcement and a change of vendors mark an admission of how poorly the 2018 elections were conducted, and serious questions about how the Secretary of State intends to secure 2019 elections remain.  We continue to have questions about the RFP selection process and will continue our fight for truly free elections in which every vote is counted and every voice is heard.”

Of course, I realize that everything us humans create are subject to error and deliberate corruption, I ask you to reflect on a few facts from the past.

1. Leading up to the 2018 statewide elections, Secretary of State Kemp froze some 53,000 registrations.  98 percent of them were from 10 of the states’ most urban counties, including 5 metro counties, Bibb, Dougherty, Richmond, Chatham and Muscogee Counties.  In addition, the percentage of frozen registrations represented by African-Americans was far greater than the percentage of the general population in these counties.
2. In 2018, the Abrams campaign ended up having to sue Dougherty County elections officials to have absentee ballots counted after Hurricane Michael and a court case delayed mailing out the ballots.
3. Although many may discount polls, there has been an increasing number of cases nationally, statewide and locally where polls and in some cases, intuition indicate one outcome and the results are greatly different.
4. Then there is the case of Harry James’ efforts to get on the ballot as an independent in last year’s race for chair of the Dougherty County Commission.  Mr. James had more than 400 over the required signatures yet did not make it on to the ballot. 
5. The questions surrounding exact match in signatures on absentee ballots caused a lot of hiccups in statewide elections last year as well.  Whose signature does not change over years and who knows how many of those absentee ballots are thrown out each year.

All of this to say, be on alert.  It is your duty as a member of a free democratic society to pass it on to the next generation, something we were willing to stick our necks out for and to fight for and to always keep our eyes open. 

Vote November 5th!

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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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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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Albany State University Summer Enrollment Increases From Previous Year

ALBANY, Ga–Summer semester enrollment at Albany State University (ASU) grew by 4.6 percent from last year, with numbers increasing to 2,590 compared to 2,475 in summer 2018. ASU has the second highest summer enrollment growth among the University System of Georgia (USG) comprehensive universities.

“The increase in summer enrollment is a reflection of the commitment of our University faculty and staff members. Everyone worked diligently to share the benefits of the institution,” said President Marion Ross Fedrick. “ASU faculty were more involved with activities inside and outside of the classroom, the volume and quality of student programming greatly increased, communication to our students improved and the list goes on. We are supporting our students in ways that they have not experienced before at ASU.”

Some students elect to take summer courses because of the opportunity to complete courses in advance and focus on a smaller course load. Year-Round Pell allows eligible students to use Pell Grant funds during fall, spring and summer semesters.

“We continue to see an increase in summer enrollment since year-round Pell Grants have been restored,” said Kenyatta Johnson, Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Success. “With access to the full grant amount being available during the summer semester, students are able to progress more quickly toward the attainment of their degree and decrease their amount of loan debt.”

Classes begin on August 19, 2019, for the fall semester. More than 6,200 students have currently registered and more are expected to register in the coming weeks

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My Vision of the Future for Albany / Dougherty County

By Albany City Commissioner Jon Howard, Ward 1

By Correcia J. Edmondson

Albany City Commissioner Jon Howard, Ward 1

City Commissioner John Howard
City Commissioner John Howard

The 2020 year is just around the corner. We as elected officials have some challenges ahead of us in the coming year(s). Local government must partnership with local stakeholders and address systemic problems in our city. For examples, generational poverty, crime, high school dropouts, unskilled workers, mental illness, and develop a plan of action for the millennial generation.

All elected and appointed officials and stakeholders must sit down and develop a comprehensive economic development strategy and bring together public and private doctors in the creation of an economic roadmap to diversity and strengthen our city economy. Also, a comprehensive plan(s) and community-based planning process that draws on the general public, stakeholders, experts and others to plan for future development of our city and surrounding areas.

Correcia J. Edmondson

First, congratulations to the Southwest Georgian newspaper for serving the various media needs of Albany, GA, and surrounding communities for so many years. 

Asked to describe how I envision the future of Albany, Dougherty County, I first share what I have observed. There has been a

Correcia J.Edmondson
Correcia J.Edmondson

conscious effort to ensure gainful employment opportunities within the municipality itself, federal and state government facilities located here, and various private industry companies including locally owned businesses. Further, educational and training opportunities via Dougherty County Public School System and various private schools, Albany State University, Albany Technical College, Troy University, and Turner Job Corps Center have been made available to help citizens and neighboring community citizens acquire the knowledge, skills, and abilities to secure gainful employment. This helps chart labor force and economic growth for our area.  

Our city needs the contribution of the faith-based community as a body of consultants to offer wise counsel and a sense of stability for our community. It is important to maintain such relationships.

Finally, I envision diversity in our community and equally diverse government leadership to adequately represent all who make up Albany, Dougherty County. Let us embrace, not sabotage, economic growth opportunities; let us support competent leadership; and let us build and maintain good community relationships to remain “The Good-life City” in the future.

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Albany Teens Attend The 63 RD Annual Southeastern Region Teen Leadership Conference Sponsored By Jack And Jill Of America, Inc.

They hate to see us at our best, which is why we never rest! Seventeen teens from the local chapter of Jack and Jill of America Inc., a family focused organization that focuses on serving the needs of

African-American children, attended the 63rd Annual Southeastern Region Teen Leadership Conference. The conference, attended by over 1,20000 teens and parents, was held June 26 – 30th, 2019, in sunny Hollywood, Florida.

The Teens enjoyed five power packed days, planned and executed by the Regional Teen Executive Board, of leadership training, community service and networking with other teens from across the southeastern region of Jack & Jill which includes Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi

The Teens fellowshipped at a welcome reception beside the intercostal waterway on Wednesday evening. Thursday’s business plenary session, which included the annual Ann Owen Gordon Regional Oratorical Competition, was followed by a spirited intramural game day in which the Albany teens placed 1st in flag football

The Albany Teens rose early on Friday to campaign for Preston Jones, Candidate for Teen Regional Vice- President. Although another older teen was elected to the position, the campaign was a rousing display of support and confidence in Preston’s leadership. The Teens spent the afternoon serving others, making hand looped baby blankets for a children’s hospital, packing non-perishable meals and filling book bags for children

A morning of leadership development workshops on Saturday focused on topics from finance to personal marketing to collegiate academics and was closed out with a memorable leadership luncheon and panel discussion featuring Regional Teen President Jordyn Allen of the Greater Ft. Lauderdale Chapter and The Honorable Bakari Sellers. Sellers entered the political arena in 2006 at age 22 as the youngest African American Elected Official in the nation and the youngest member in history of the South Carolina State Legislature.

The Senior Gala on Saturday night celebrated the accomplishments and college plans of all graduating seniors, including the Albany Chapter’s only graduating senior, Myles McCoy, who will be studying mechanical engineering and running track at Alabama A&M University in Huntsville, AL, this fall.

This year’s attendees were outgoing Albany Teen President Preston Jones (Deerfield Windsor School Rising Junior), President -Elect Taylor Huff (Dougherty HS Rising Senior), Myles McCoy (Graduate of Westover HS), Rising Seniors James Hopson (Lee County HS) and Jayson Griswold (Dougherty HS), Rising Juniors Jordan Moser (Deerfield Windsor School), Kenadi Dyer(Westover HS), Anealia Ryant (Westover HS), Norman Newton (Westover HS), Baron Hopson (Lee County HS), Rising Sophomores Shawn Ross (Westover HS), Madison McCoy (Westover HS), Julia Solomon (Dougherty HS), Taniyah Hampton (Westover HS), Vincent Williams (Westover HS), and Kole Fortson (Westover HS) and Rising Freshman John Hopson (Deerfield Windsor School). The Teens were chaperoned by Teen Sponsors Mona McCoy and Dr. Kendra Huff and Moms Nedra Fortson, Patricia Hampton, Michele Newton, and Terrie Williams.

This year’s theme, “They Hate to See Us at Our Best, That’s Why We Never Rest” resonated throughout the conference. When asked about the conference theme, National President Danielle Brown responded, “In a time when the freedom and lives of many people who look like us are in peril, it is important that we learn every lesson we can about who we are as a people, understanding both our history and future. So, when faced with hatred, racism, discrimination or indifference, we have the courage to rise-up, educate, and fight back.”

Founded in Philadelphia, PA. in 1938, Jack and Jill of America, Inc., is a membership organization of mothers with children ages 2-19, dedicated to nurturing future African-American leaders by strengthening children throughout leadership development, volunteer service, philanthropic giving, and civic duty. The goals of Jack and Jill of America, Inc., are simple: to develop the next generation of leaders in government, technology, business and industry. Today, Jack and Jill boasts more than 245 chapters nationwide, representing more than 40,000 family members.

The Albany, GA, Chapter was the first chapter formed in the state of Georgia in 1950. The AlbanyChapter will celebrate 70 years of service in the Albany community in 2020. The current chapter members are: Loucresia Berry, Kimberly Bodiford, Kisha Davis, Charlice Dukes, Christine Ford, Nedra Fortson, Rae Fussell, Jazmine Gilbert, Maqueta Griswold, Patricia Hampton, Staphanie Dyer, Marquetta Harvey, CaMia Hopson, Narkis Howard, Kendra Huff (President), Remy Hutchins, Lisa Love, Mona McCoy, Shauntae Motley, Magalie Nelson, Michele Newton, Ashley Smith, Marion Ryant, Alfreda Sheppard, Hope Frye, Natasha Webb, Courtney Williams, SaJuana Williams, Terrie Williams, Alphonese Wilson and Marva Ross.

The 2020 Southeastern Region Teen Leadership Conference will be held in Nashville, TN.

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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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