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By   /   May 19, 2011  /   Comments

Eppler deserves apology, money


For nearly three months, the citizens of Albany – via the Albany Police Department – kept U.S. Marine Sgt. James Eppler in a jail cell for a crime that authorities now say he didn’t commit. Eppler was freed Tuesday; police now say his wife Natalie killed herself, as Eppler said all along.

Mistakes happen. Now we as a community need to apologize for what we did and we need to show that we mean it – by writing Eppler a handsome check. It’s called doing the right thing.

It was an honest mistake, you say? Consider this: Deliberately, the citizens of Albany gave Mayor Willie Adams’ campaign manager a $500,000 taxpayer-backed loan that is not being collected. Deliberately, the citizens of Albany gave away more than $300,000 in public funds for a construction project that was never built, and the money is not being collected. Deliberately, citizens of Albany gave $40,000 in hush money to former police chief James Younger, a dreadful performer, just to make him leave his job.

This list goes on. So, why in the world would we pay a man that we have wronged?

We shouldn’t wait for a lawsuit; the check should have been written Tuesday. Meanwhile, I trust that everyone responsible – from the police officers to the mayor – are reaching out to Eppler with sincere apologies.

I, for one, am very sorry.


Murfree addresses personnel changes


The recent personnel changes, particularly at the principal level, prompted Superintendent of Schools Joshua Murfree to issue this public statement Tuesday through system spokesman R.D. Harter

“Dr. Joshua W. Murfree, Jr., superintendent for the Dougherty County School System, announced today that after a year of study and observation, and much discussion with system leaders, a vision for the future of leadership for the district is unfolding. The vision includes the realignment of school leadership in the principal and assistant principal positions which were recommended to the board of education at a called meeting last Wednesday.

Our vision is to build a district where feeder schools grow with superior academics that lead to reducing the number of drop outs, increasing the graduation rates and exceeding the state and national standards for student performance testing,” said Dr. Murfree. “The outcome of this vision is focused on the success of children, from pre-kindergarten through the placement after successful high school graduation. No school in our system stands on its own, but is supported by the feeder schools, the superintendent’s office, the support departments and leaders throughout the system.”

True leadership, said Murfree, doesn’t come from uninformed opinions in the grocery story or restaurant and through the media, but comes from very close inspection of a system’s operation, present leadership and past success.

“This system has made some incremental gains in past years, but we can do better,” he said. “With motivated leadership inspiring the students at all levels, we can achieve new and higher results.”

A second part of the plan for achieving student success (supporting leadership alignment) is an effort to communicate this vision of high expectations to students, beginning today. Dr. Murfree is speaking to student assemblies of ninth through eleventh graders at the district’s four high schools, Dougherty and Monroe will host assemblies today and Albany and Westover tomorrow (Tuesday). He will remind students how important education is for their future and pledge his support in identifying new and innovative ways to help them achieve success. He will also challenge them to focus on the central objective of school – academics.

I have spoken throughout the community about the importance of partnerships and all segments of our community coming together to support our system,” Dr. Murfree concluded. “But, the leadership for the system has to begin with the vision for the future in the office of the superintendent. I intend to make that vision a reality for the benefit of our students and our community.”


Near death experience


Albany resident Kristy Payne says she would have died Thursday in a Panama City Beach pool if it weren’t for a stranger in Lowe’s uniform. Jon Larkin was making a delivery for the home improvement store when he saw Payne struggling in the pool.

“He saved my life and he didn’t have to do that …” Payne told WJHG-TV. “He did what he thought was right, and I appreciate that very much and everyone in my family wants to say thank you.”

It helped that Larkin not only knows CPR, he once was a lifeguard in Hawaii.

“I just kept working on her and I had no idea how long it was but which seemed to be a few minutes the beach patrol showed up and that’s when I actually got kind of a shuttered breath from her …” Larkin told WJHG. “Usually they’re not in the trouble that she was in. That was probably the worst drowning victim I’ve ever seen. She was in deep distress.”

Payne expected to be released from the hospital Tuesday. Larkin, meanwhile, encourages everyone to enroll in a free CPR class, which can be taken online.


APD: Don’t be cruel


The Albany Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Bureau is dealing with more animal cruelty cases than usual. From Jan. 1 to May 17, 2011, the bureau received nine animal cruelty cases, according to the department’s stats, which have been fudged in recent years, so we don’t know if the number is accurate.

The Police Department says it has responded to 11 animal cruelty cases this year. In many of the cases, dogs were not given adequate fed or water and became malnourished, said police spokeswoman Phyllis Banks.

Detectives and Animal Control agents are encouraging pet owners to keep some simple pet safety tips in mind.

  • Remember that pets can get dehydrated quickly, so give them plenty of fresh, clean water and food when it’s hot outdoors.
  • Make sure your pets have a shady place to get out of the sun, be careful not to over-exercise them, and keep them indoors when it’s extremely hot.
  • Never leave your pet in the car. It may seem cool outside but the sun can raise the temperature inside your car to 120 degrees Fahrenheit in a matter of minutes, even with the windows rolled down. If you need to run some errands, leave the furry ones at home.

Banks said the Criminal Investigations Bureau would also like to remind pet owners that animal cruelty cases are prosecuted when reported.


Dance recital on tap


As the curtain goes up on the annual Pritchett/Pippin Dance Recital, slated for Wednesday and Thursday, May 25 and 26, 7 p.m. at Albany High School, Kathy Hall Hawkins and the Prichett-Pippin Dancers will present “IF THE SHOE FITS … DANCE IN IT.”

In addition to showcasing local youth talent from the Pritchett-Pippin School of Dance, the event is a major fundraiser for the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County. Proceeds from the recital benefit Kiwanis of Dougherty County’s numerous community service projects in the Dougherty and Lee county area.

Tickets for the performances are $10 and all seats are reserved seating. Tickets will be on sale at the Albany High auditorium starting one hour before performances and the following times: 3 to 6:30 p.m. May 18-19; and 5-7 p.m. May 23-24.

Kiwanis of Dougherty volunteers will assist the performances with backstage help, ticket and program ad sales, and ushering.

“Please come out and support this performance,” Kiwanis of Dougherty County fundraising chair Todd Butler. “Every ticket sale represents a helping hand in the Dougherty and Lee County communities.”


No Journal next week


We publish the newspaper 50 times a year and won’t publish an edition next Wednesday, May 25. Our next edition will be Wednesday, June 1.

We’ll still be working (some), so if you have any story ideas or want to advertise or subscribe in the meantime, please call us at 435-6222 or e-mail us at news@thealbanyjournal.com. We’d love to hear from you.

See you June 1!

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About the author

Owner / Editor / Writer

Tom Knighton is the publisher of The Albany Journal. In November, 2011, he became the first blogger to take over a newspaper anywhere in the world. In August of 2012, he made the difficult decision to take the Journal out of print circulation and become an online news agency, a first for the Albany area.

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