Nov. 21, 2014
                          Tifton Georgia
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Travis Pratt, whose show-stopping performance on NBC-TV's "America's Got Talent" wowed the judges last year, is returning to his hometown of Tifton for a Christmas Concert at the Tift Theatre for the Performing Arts at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 20

TPratt Pratt is headlining a star-studded line-up of performers for his show, "Travis Pratt Presents A Tifton Christmas Carol," to benefit Literacy Volunteers of Tifton-Tift County.

Bell Plantation of Tifton has demonstrated its commitment to local workforce preparation by committing $2,000 as the Grand Sponsor of the special event, said Bonnie J. Sayles, interim director of Literacy Volunteers. Other sponsorship opportunities and recognition are available to make the event a success. 

"We hope their demonstration of support will inspire more large industries, small businesses and individuals to get behind our local students who want to improve their hiring potential by continuing their education," Sayles said. 

JC Bell, president, and Jill St. John, vice president for operations of Bell Plantation, presented the check Wednesday to help underwrite the costs so Tifton concert-goers can enjoy an event while helping to provide tutoring and scholarships. Literacy Volunteers assists Tift County students wanting to improve their educational and employment opportunities by obtaining

Bell Plantation's Vice President for Operations Jill St. John , at left, and President J.C. Bell present a $2,000 check to Bonnie Sayles, interim director, and Liz Carson Keith, secretary of the board of Literacy Volunteers of Tift County. 

General Education Diplomas.

Travis Pratt is an opera singer living in Houston, Texas, who grew up singing gospel music in Tifton. In June 2013, he made big splash in his "America's Got Talent" audition when he sang a soprano aria in its actual high range. The 90-second appearance of the unassuming Albany State University alumnus left judges Howard Stern, Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel and Mel B "stunned." They all voted Yes," sending him to the Vegas Round.


Pratt's pitch perfect performance of "O Mio Babbino Caro" by Giacomo Puccini set him apart from other singers and drew a standing ovation. After the theatrics, he tapped viewers' emotions again by reaching into his right pocket for a diamond ring, bowed on a knee and proposed to his girlfriend, Vira Van Horn, who arranged the audition and suggested he sing soprano, two octaves higher than the average tenor -- "I had to after what she did for me," Pratt said.

Pratt is putting together the singers for the event in Tifton, and more information will be announced. Singers already committed include Dr. Susan Roe, Jay Rain, Kyle Dean and Eric Gonzales, as well as local pianist Greg Millette.


"This will be the biggest event of the Christmas season," said Literacy Volunteers board secretary Liz Carson Keith, who conceived the event to benefit a cause dear to her heart.


Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door and are available through board members and by calling Literacy Volunteers at 229-391-2527 or emailing Sponsors may attend a VIP after party with Pratt and the other performers. Sponsorship opportunities are available at levels from $100 to $250, $500 and $1,000.

From left are: Dr. Renata Elad, Tifton Optimist Club president; Dru Branch (1st Place); Dillon Kemeness (2nd Place); and Andrew Greene (3rd Place). At right is Mike Brumby, executive director of the education foundation.

Dru Branch of Tift County High School came in first place this week in the Fourth Annual Optimist Geography Decathlon, sponsored by the Tifton Optimist Club and the Tift County Foundation for Educational Excellence.

Coming in second in the quiz bowl competition was Dillon Kemeness, also of Tift County High. Taking third place was Andrew Greene of Tiftarea Academy.


The Willacoochee-Withlacoochee-Alapaha-Little River System (WWALS) Watershed Coalition is having a boating outing at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 22, at Georgia's Stephen C. Foster State Park near Fargo.

Participants will paddle into the park and back. Bring a boat, or you can rent one at the park. WWALS board member and veteran boater Bret Wagenhorst will be the guide.

The event is free but participants are asked to be a member of the WWALS Watershed Coalition. If not, its easy to join online at do not have to be a member to come on this outing. If you like the experience, you may join to support WWALS' efforts. 

WWALS is an advocacy organization working for watershed conservation of the Willacoochee, Withlacoochee, Alapaha, and Little River Systems watershed in South Georgia and North Florida through awareness, environmental monitoring and citizen advocacy.


The Okefenokee is outside the usual WWALS area, but WWALS is developing an Alapaha River Water Trail, for which this trip is research. And this trip is on the Suwannee River, upstream of where WWALS' Alapaha and Withlacoochee rivers join it.


TRHS honors associates at annual awards banquet



Pictured from left to rightWilliam T. Richardson (TRHS President/CEO); Dr. Melissa Rampal (nephrologist with Affinity Clinic and Exceptional Physician Award winner); Rose Spurlock, RN (Orthopedics Nurse Manager with Tift Regional Medical Center and Jensen-Patrick Nursing Award winner); Joyce Mims (Tift County Hospital Authority trustee and John B. Prince, III Distinguished Service Award recipient); Wilbur Barnes (Short Order Cook with Food Services and Tift Regional Medical Center Employee of the Year); Kelly Junkins, LPN (medical/surgical nurse and Cook Medical Center Employee of the Year); and, Christopher Dorman (TRHS Senior Vice President/Chief Operating Officer).  


Tift Regional Health System (TRHS) saluted colleagues at its annual awards banquet held on Nov. 18 at the University of Georgia (UGA) Tifton Campus Conference Center.  


TRHS presented the John B. Prince, III Distinguished Service Award to retired educator, community activist and hospital board trustee Joyce Mims. Named after the chairman of the Tift County Hospital Authority, the John B. Prince, III Distinguished Service Award recognizes a longstanding associate of TRHS who is also an established leader in the community, using their influence to enhance the mission of the hospital. A graduate of the Georgia Hospital Association's Trustee Certification Program, Mrs. Mims was recognized for serving as an active member of the hospital board since 2003. Mrs. Mims is also a board representative for the TRHS Quality Council and was recognized for various community endeavors with her husband, state court judge Larry Mims, and their family. This includes Mims' Kids, a non-profit foundation which provides education and enrichment opportunities for young people.


TRHS named short-order cook Wilbur Barnes, with the Food Services Department, the Dr. Sammie D. Dixon Employee of the Year for Tift Regional Medical Center. Dr. Dixon, a retired OB/GYN physician and hospital executive, provides an endowment to Tift Regional each year to recognize employees of the month and employee of the year. Kelly Junkins, LPN was named Cook Medical Center's Employee of the Year. Kelly is a nurse with Cook Medical Center's medical/surgical unit.


The winner of the 2014 Jensen-Patrick Nursing Excellence Award, presented the same evening, was Rose Spurlock, RN, nurse manager of Tift Regional Medical Center's Orthopedics unit.  Local agricultural businessman Ray Jensen established the Jensen and Diane Patrick Nursing Excellence Award through the Tift Regional Medical Center Foundation to recognize a bedside nurse who demonstrates unusual concern for the welfare and happiness of patients. The foundation also presented the Exceptional Physician Award to Dr. Melissa Rampal, nephrologist with Affinity Clinic and the Tift Regional Dialysis Center.  


TRHS also saluted employees with five, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 years of service. Ellen Alsobrook with Supply Chain Services reached the distinction of 35 years of service as did Theresa Anderson of the Ortho/Surgical North unit with 40 years of service. The banquet ceremony included special tributes by staff as well as a musical presentation by Donna Ammons, RN.


Rikki Reader joins Beeman and supporters.



Last Saturday, Nov. 15, was "Special Hearts Day," a special event at the Tift County High School track in honor of special education teachers, who will be recognized through the endowment of the Special Hearts Chair of the Tift County Foundation for Educational Excellence.

Ringmaster for the event was Tift County High marketing teacher Mike Beeman, who ran 22 miles (88 laps around the TCHS track) to honor all special education teachers, students and staff, and to help endow the education foundation's Special Hearts Chair.

You can thank Beeman by making a donation toward the endowment of the Special Hearts Chair in his 

Make your check to Tift County Foundation for Educational Excellence, P.O. Box 714, Tifton, GA 31793.




Experience the Christmas season in the 1880s with Victorian Village by Candlelight from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Dec. 7 at the Georgia Museum of Agriculture at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. Tickets must be purchased in advance.


The evening is limited to 125 visitors with 25 people in each of five groups for the Victorian Village tours. Groups will meet at the Country Store to leave on the museum train every 30 minutes beginning at 5:30 p.m., with the last group leaving the train station at 7:30 p.m.


Guests will learn about two of the Victorian traditions that have become a part of the legend of Santa Claus during this lantern-lit event. Visitors will get a taste of the community's celebratory spirit as they stop in for a Christmas Eve visit in a Victorian-era village in South Georgia back when electricity was a luxury, humble gifts were made by hand, and Christmas Eve was spent cooking delicious treats on the open hearth of the fireplace.


Guests will ride on train cars pulled by the 1917 Vulcan steam engine into the glowing Historic Village lit with lanterns and kerosene lamps. The first stop on the hour-long village tour will be the Clyatt Cabin, where Father Christmas and Old Befana will greet guests with a folktale.

As guests follow the lantern-lit path, they will take a trip into the past with two Wiregrass Georgia families celebrating the holiday season. The Tift House will depict the Christmas of an affluent family. The Tifton Choral Society will be on the porch of the Tift House singing traditional 19th century carols for visitors.


At the Knight Cabin, guests can see what a typical Christmas might have been like for a sharecropper and his family.  


A stop at the Drug Store will follow, where Farmhouse Beef Stew and cornbread will be available for visitors before heading to the bonfire where they will enjoy hot apple cider. The train will then depart to take visitors back to the Country Store. All visitors receive a keepsake ornament hand-forged by the village blacksmith and a guidebook to remember the evening. 

For information, contact the Country Store at 229-391-5205.



Tifton's Peace Lutheran Church will have its annual "Christmas Cookie Walk" from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 22 at the church at 603 Tennessee Drive.

Homemade cookies, cakes, candies and other gifts will be available, along with freshly cooked doughnut sand coffee. Proceeds from the sale will purchase phone cards for use by deployed armed forces personnel.






Tift County Cancer STOMP 2014  

November 22 

Walk & Carnival Celebration

Walk 9 a.m.; Carnival 10 a.m .- 1 p.m.

YMCA Soccer Fields

Cancer STOMP, a team fundraising campaign where teams  are encouraged to get creative to raise money to fight cancer locally, wraps up with a Walk & Carnival on Saturday, Nov. 22, where the community comes together to celebrate success, remember loved ones we've lost to cancer and honor the amazing cancer survivors in our lives.

To invite support for its mission, the Cancer Coalition of South Georgia's Tift County "Cancer STOMP" is under way. "We're wrapping up our 100-day fundraising campaign," said Development Manager Melissa Goodin, "and to reach our goal, we ask the community to join the ending celebration - Cancer STOMP Walk & Carnival!"


The Walk & Carnival will be this Saturday, Nov. 22, from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at the YMCA Soccer Fields on Westover Road in Tifton. A one-mile reflective walk at 9 a.m. will honor survivors and remember those lost to cancer. Teams and individuals may register at and with a $20 donation at registration, the participant will receive a T-shirt. Family-oriented carnival activities will begin about 10 a.m. Wristbands will be available at the event for a $5 donation for each child 3 years old and up to play at all activities.


In Tift County alone, the Cancer Coalition has provided more than 350 cancer screenings for local residents since 2008. Partnerships with Tift Regional Medical Center, Tift Community Health Center and Tift Urgent Care help bring cancer services, education, research and outreach to the Tifton community. 


For information about Tifton Cancer STOMP or the Cancer Coalition of South Georgia, visit or call 229-312-1700.



Friday, Nov. 21
5k - 6 p.m. / 1-mile - 6:45 p.m.

Proceeds benefit the Tifton Junior Woman's Club scholarship fund and the club's other community service work.

The event includes a black light tent, music and glow face-painting. There will be prizes for age group winners and overall winners, as well as medals for all participants 12 and under. Event begins at Northside Baptist Church.

                          This is Tifton's first Glow Run.

Contact Anne Veazey (229-392-1720) or Emily Cannington (205-807-2911)

                          Email:  or    

Call 229-848-2366

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                          At a Glance....


  • Thanksgiving Feast, 1:30 p.m., Neighborhood Community Center, Tifton.
  • Glow Run, 6:45 p.m., Northside Baptist Church, Tifton.
  • Emi Sunshine & The Rain, concert, 7 p.m., UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center, Tifton. 


  • Cookie Walk, 9 a.m., Peace Lutheran Church, Tifton.
  • Cancer Stomp, 9 a.m., Tiftarea YMCA Hunt Park, Westover Road, Tifton.
  • Native American Experience, 9 a.m., Georgia Museum of Agriculture, Tifton.
  • WWALS Okefenokee Outing, 10 a.m., Stephen Foster State Park, Fargo.

In Memoriam


Nov. 14

Marvin Spillers, 91, Chula

Sandra Diane McMillan, 63, Adel

Tommie Clark, 68, Fitzgerald

Rosia Billingsley Betha, 98, Sylvester


Nov. 15

  Jeremy Stuart Luke, 40, Tifton



Charles Stinton, 72, Enigma

Connie Michelle Davis White, 42, Tifton

Neil Giddens, 66, Nashville

Carolyn Dianne Minshew Dupree, 63, Ashburn 


Nov. 18

 Mary Elizabeth Gordon, 77, Tifton

Norman C. Glaze, 80, Tifton
Jerry C. Padgett, 72, Ocilla 

Venetia Pilkinton Smith, 78, Leesburg

Adrania "Autumn" Raine Lirette, infant, Fitzgerald


Nov. 19

 Jerry Roberts, 44, Fitzgerald

Clifton Clyde Gaither, 88, Mystic

Dr. E.J. "Jack" Tison, 79, Oakfield



Nice home -- 3 BR -- on a corner lot conveniently located in a well-established neighborhood. This brick home has a fenced back yard and one-car garage. Hardwood floors; covered back deck. This home just needs a family, so come on in. It's very neat, clean and ready for you.

Dwana Coleman

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