The Valdosta Daily Times on shopping locally:

It’s almost time to shop.

Whether it’s Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday or Giving Tuesday, the shopping season is here and there is every indication that holiday spending will increase a bit this year.

Many retailers depend on the day after Thanksgiving to turn the general ledger from red to black.

During this holiday shopping season, we encourage our readers to support businesses in our region, and even when shopping online remember there are many local retailers that have great online shopping experiences.

It simply makes sense to support businesses in our own region.

Keeping your shopping dollars as close to home as possible, supports local businesses and bolsters the economy.

Every dollar spent locally represents an investment in the future of our communities.

Everything on our shopping lists can be purchased somewhere in our region.

We have a plethora of diverse shops, clothing stores, discount retailers, quaint shops and electronic stores, so there is no good reason to travel out of the region.

Local businesses have a great tradition of giving back to the community.

They donate back to local nonprofits, charities, schools and churches.

Supporting those businesses supports all those organizations, institutions and agencies.

When you shop locally, you are helping to create jobs, fund local infrastructure and government services through your sales tax dollars and are helping to incubate further community development.

Entrepreneurship is the backbone of the middle class, the catalyst for economic growth and in many ways, the character of a community.

When local businesses flourish, the community flourishes.

A shopping excursion to Atlanta or Tallahassee, Fla., may seem like a good time and you may think you are finding bargains, but when you consider the cost of fuel, the time spent driving, the aggravation of traffic — not to even mention the bait-and-switch tactics of some retailers that entice you with offers that often are nowhere to be found — it may not be the bargain it seems to be.

Look first at what can be purchased close to home, before even considering an out-of-the-area shopping excursion.

We encourage readers to support our advertising partners, who through their advertising demonstrate their beliefs in a growing economy and commitment to the community as a whole as they grow their local businesses.


The Augusta Chronicle on laws to combat gang violence:

The meetings are adjourned. Now let’s see if our state lawmakers can harvest anything useful from them.

The House Study Committee on Gang and Youth Violence Prevention held its fourth and final meeting Nov. 15 in Atlanta. The group formed through the Georgia General Assembly’s passage of House Resolution 585 last March. Convening meetings throughout the state, the committee listened to experts and concerned citizens about the state’s rising rate of gang violence.

The goal: Come up with recommendations for next year’s legislative session on laws that can be passed to tackle this cancerous problem.

Uncover drug-dealing, deadly violence or just about any criminal enterprise these days involving two or more suspected offenders, and at some point, police are bound to find a connection to gangs. This committee estimates there are 71,000 gang members and their cronies operating in Georgia.

And that’s not just in Atlanta. Last August, seven teenage boys, ages 15 to 19, were charged with gang activity connected to an armed robbery. Where? In Wrens, with a population of maybe 2,000.

State Rep. Brian Prince of Augusta, one of the House committee’s members, played host to the group’s second meeting here in September at the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce. Augusta District Attorney Natalie Paine told the lawmakers about our area’s progress in helping eradicate gangs. She assigned two prosecutors two years ago specifically to take full advantage of Georgia’s gang statute and haul offenders in not just one by one but batch by batch.

Sadly, there’s no shortage of work around here for these attorneys to perform. One of the bigger active cases involved an August shooting in Augusta’s Meadowbrook neighborhood. It took about two months to round up seven purported gang members that authorities say took part in firing at least a dozen bullets into an occupied home. The woman believed to be the target is terrified for her life after she heard a $5,000 hit has been taken out on her.

When a crime is committed involving two or more suspected culprits, chances are there are traceable gang connections. When 21-year-old Kwamayne Bonner was arrested in a shooting last month, a prosecutor had to deal with the surviving victim, terrified after hearing Bonner’s gang put a price on his head.

Also this year, an Augusta man was among dozens sentenced in the aftermath of Operation Vanilla Gorilla, which targeted a Savannah-based criminal gang of white supremacists and their vast drug trafficking operation. An eye-popping 43 defendants were arrested. The last of them was sentenced last week in U.S. District Court, wrapping up at least a year of back-breaking work by officers and prosecutors across several law enforcement agencies.

You might have heard the joke describing a committee as a group of people “who individually can do nothing but as a group decides that nothing can be done.” But this House gang committee is no joke. It has until Dec. 1 to submit its recommendations on how Georgia can gain a stronger upper hand in the fight against gangs - and we need stronger laws with sharper teeth.


The Brunswick News on recognizing veterans and the brass braille American flag initiative:

There is a cruelness to how fate treats those who put their lives on the line for their country. Those who do come home do so sometimes with scars both visible and invisible to the naked eye.

Even knowing the dangers, the men and women who serve do so because they are patriots that want to protect our way of life. That is why we will always hold veterans in such high regard. They put their lives on the line to protect us.

That is one of the reasons we proudly tip our caps to Kingsland resident Walt Peters, a 20-year veteran who served three tours of duty in Vietnam as part of a helicopter recovery team. Unfortunately, his time in Vietnam eventually robbed him of his sight, thanks to Agent Orange exposure.

But it didn’t take away his desire to help others. When Peters was seen on TV handing out America flags he could no longer see to soldiers returning home, he caught the attention of Randolph Cabral.

Cabral had created a braille version of the American flag that included the Pledge of Allegiance and allowed those who can’t see the chance to experience our majestic flag once more.

Peters would become the voice of the flag initiative. Through their collaborative effort, more than 100 brass braille flags and 12,000 paper braille flags were distributed around the world.

Peters’ words should inspire us all to do more for our country.

“I’m still serving,” he said. “I believe in our country. I believe in our flag.”

Peters and Cabral have combined to bring a unique experience to those who will never again get a chance to see the American flag flying proudly over a city, on a home or even in the tiny hands of a child at a parade.

The American Braille Flag project was recently designated as a nonprofit and is working too set up a website to market the flags nationwide and solicit funds to help more flags to be donated to different veterans groups.

We encourage everyone who can to support the effort. Let’s help those who defended the flag get to see it in a different, but still profound, format.

For information or to order a flag, call Peters at 912-210-0332.