Albany - - Good news for downtown Albany's signature attraction. The Flint Riverquarium's immediate future is secure. Tuesday, Albany city commissioners voted to give the financially-strapped facility $300,000. Monday, Dougherty County agreed to pay $250,000.
If you ask 10 year old Lauren Warren to give you a review of the Flint Riverquarium, it would be stellar.
"I saw lots of fish and I thought it was great."
And she's not just thinking of herself.
"Other kids can learn about it and it will teach them a lot of stuff about sea life."
Little Lauren came to the Riverquarium with her mother from Quitman.
"I work at Quitman Elementary School and we have field trips occasionally where the kids would come over and visit the aquarium," Martitia Warren says.
Today, she wanted to experience it for herself. But she was surprised to hear her travel destination was at-risk of closing down.
Tuesday evening, Albany City Commissioners turned that around, voting to pledge $300,000 to the Riverquarium, through the Albany Dougherty Inner City Authority. That's on top of $250,000 the County Commission approved.
"It's funding for this year. What happens next year, I think that needs to be a part of the budget process and we'll look at that come next spring sometime more than likely," says Commissioner Morris Gurr.
City manager Al Lott says the city should be there for support if needed in the future, but he says the Riverquarium must show fundraising efforts of its own. He also says he'd like to see quarterly reports to see how the money was spent.
Tourists seem to be pleased.
"I think that would be great. Keep it open," Mrs. Warren says.
But save a spot for Lauren.
"Do you want to come back?" we asked.
"Yes sir!" the 10 year old replied.
Now they can rest assured the doors will be open.
Commissioner Dorothy Hubbard said she gladly voted to give the money, especially since the state gave Albany 30 million dollars to build the Riverquarium without asking for matching money.