Jan. 15, 2016
                 Tifton, Georgia

         (478) 227-7126


Tifton Grapevine

Neighbors of a crematory being added to an existing Tifton funeral home have filed a civil suit seeking an injunction to stop the business from proceeding.

Filed in Tift County Superior Court on Jan. 11, the suit is against the City of Tifton and Reflection Cremation & Funeral Service at 106 E. 12th St. It was brought by J.C. "Spud" and Sherry Bowen, Syd Blackmarr, Bonne Cella, Susan Couch, James J. Lever, Mary Glynn Hendricks, Gary and Deborah Kincaid, Tom and Jeannie Kraemer, Debbie Mathis, Kristyn Sapp, Dale Sumner, David Carlson and Steve Dixon.

The citizens claim Reflection funeral service is attempting to use its property "for a use not approved" by zoning; is "attempting to operate outside of uses permitted by the LDC," or city Land Development Code; that Reflection's site plan to the city Historic Preservation Commission was " incomplete and had not been followed;" and that Reflection "was not transparent nor complete in its application" to add a crematory and a chimney to exhaust the incinerator's smoke.

The suit seeks to immediately and permanently stop the funeral home from installing and operating a  crematory  on 12th Street, and to stop the city from permitting installation and operation of a crematory incinerator at the site, requiring the city to "withdraw any and all approvals for the additions Reflection has proposed to the city."

"It was done under the cover of darkness," Spud Bowen told the Tifton Grapevine. "I don't oppose a funeral home if it meets the requirements. The original proposal to the HPC ( Historic  Preservation Commission) didn't have a smokestack or a parking plan." 

Bowen said Reflection  didn't meet any requirements for a business addition or a funeral home. "You're supposed to submit a parking lot plan with green space and appropriate distance from neighboring businesses. The city issued a building
permit for the property without proper plans," he said.

Bowen, who runs a business across the street from the funeral home, said he and other neighbors went before Tifton City Council and asked it to stop the approvals. He said the funeral home quickly put together a parking plan and site plan that included gravel parking and parking at an angle behind the building. 

"It was a joke," Bowen said. "My seven-year-old granddaughter could have done a better job with crayons. How do you have marked parking spaces on gravel? How do you have handicapped parking on gravel?" 

He said the funeral home's "parking entrance was from the alley with an exit on 12th Street, which is U.S. Highway 41. It's not far enough away from the neighboring property and too close to the intersection of Central and 12th." 

To pull out of the parking spaces, clients have to back up into the alley, Bowen said. "You don't want my mama backing up that far." 

He said the HPC approved the parking plan without meeting its own code. "It defies all common sense. You ought to sit in your office and see them bring a body bag out of the back of a van, walking into the building with it." 

Bowen said t he property had three different zoning designations: neighborhood commercial, residential/professional and 
general business. "It was coded all three."

Another plaintiff, Bonne Cella, said she considered buying a home in the neighborhood and decided against it because of the funeral home and crematory's location. "It was a deterrent to me," she said. "That would be my pathway to and from  work. I don't want to drive by that every day.

"I didn't think it was appropriate for the neighborhood," Cella said. "It's too small of a space for a funeral home. Also, it was  approved too quickly without being fully vetted."  Cella said she would be concerned if she had small children and lived in the neighborhood. "I would be nervous about mercury. Mercury is a byproduct of burning bodies."

Rob Wilmot, city attorney, told the Grapevine that the city's Historic Preservation Commission has approved the chimney design and the parking lot, and construction is going forward. Code specifically says that the HPC is not to consider anything on the interior.

"It's a zoning issue," Wilmot said. "Basically, it is a funeral home, and funeral homes are allowed in neighborhood  commercial." He said that the city has issued a moratorium on crematoriums in the future , which does not apply to this project because it has already been approved.

Mike Jones, manager and operator of Reflection Cremation & Funeral Service, told the Tifton Grapevine on Thursday that he could not comment on the suit because he had not seen it. He said Reflection opened February 2014 as a funeral home and has been operating since that time. He said he had been awaiting state licensing for the crematory, which he received on Tuesday, Jan. 12

Dr. Robert C. Bowman, who is named as an agent of Reflection in the civil suit, also said Thursday that he has not been served and knew nothing about it, so he couldn't comment. He said he is the owner of the property and part-owner/investor in Reflection Funeral Service. 

He said the incinerator has already been installed at the site, but said he doesn't " have anything to do with the day-to-day operation" of that business.


Monday's installment of NBC-TV's "Biggest Loser" was an emotional one for contestant Colby Wright, who attended Tifton's  Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College on a rodeo  scholarship; his wife Hope was eliminated as a contestant
on the show Jan. 11.

Wright, who is a car salesman in Wayne County, Georgia, is competing on the TV show. In the video above from Monday's show, Colby breaks down when his wife,  Hope Williamson-Wright is sent home.

The Wrights live in the small community of K'ville and have been among five Georgians in the cast. The other Georgians are from Perry, Warner Robins and Statesboro.

Colby was born and raised in Screven, has been team roping since he was 14, and has been a cowboy and a farrier (someone who shoes horses) for the past 10 years. He is no longer able to rope and ride because of his size, so instead he works as an announcer at rodeos and as a disc jockey. Colby, 31, began the competition weighing 339 pounds.


PLIGHT Inc. (Proud Loving Individuals Giving a Hand to Teens) is hosting its annual MLK Holiday Celebration Breakfast at 8:30 a.m. Jan. 18. The breakfast will be held at the newly renovated Leroy Rogers Senior Center on W. 2nd Street. Tickets are available for $10, with children ages five and under admitted free. Tickets must be purchased in advance.

This year's speaker is Mary Lee Johnson-Green. She attended Turner County schools until her senior year when her parents moved to Crisp County. She graduated from Crisp County High School, also attending Georgia Southwestern College while enrolled there 

She is a past member of the Turner County Rotary Club, Ashburn-Turner County Chamber of Commerce board of directors and Turner County Connections board. She currently serves on the executive board of Ruth's Cottage and the Patticake House along with the Coastal Plains Area EOA and Head Start.

Johnson-Green is the first black countywide elected official in Turner County and the first black clerk of superior court.  Currently, she serves as clerk of the superior, state and juvenile courts for Turner County. In 2009, she received dual certificates from the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia as superior court clerk and state court clerk -- the first time a clerk ever received both certificates at once.

"The theme for the breakfast is 'Remember! Celebrate! Act! -- A Day on and Not a Day Off.' Yes, we should remember and celebrate the life and works of Dr. King, but there is also a call to action. Dr. King strongly believed in helping others, and it is incumbent upon us to perpetuate that important part of his legacy," said Charleston Carter, breakfast committee chairman


Members of the Tifton-Tift County Chamber of Commerce's 2016 Leadership Tifton class met with state lawmakers Wednesday during the "Okefenokee Occasion," an annual legislative dinner hosted by  South  Georgia counties at downtown Atlanta's Georgia Freight Depot. In the photo above, s ome  of the Tifton class members pose with Gov.  Nathan  Deal, center, and Rep. Sam  Watson, right.

511 West 7th Street


The Tifton Arts in Black Festival this spring is celebrating 29 years of providing arts, music and dance to the community.

The event is scheduled for April 30 at Fulwood Park, and t he Arts In Black Festival Committee is seeking volunteers for this year's festival. 

Those interested in volunteering may contact the committee at or by visiting the website,


Medicare accountable-care organization initiatives designed to improve 
how health system cares for patients
  Care Alliance has been selected as one of 100 new Medicare Shared Savings Program Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), providing Medicare beneficiaries with access to high-quality, coordinated care across the United States, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced Monday.  

That brings the total to 434 Shared Savings Program ACOs serving more than 7.7 million beneficiaries.
Formed by Tift Regional Health System (TRHS), local physicians and other providers, Care Alliance is one of 434 ACOs participating in the Shared Savings Program as of Jan. 1. Doctors, hospitals and health-care providers establish ACOs in order to work together to provide higher-quality coordinated care to their patients, while helping to slow health-care cost growth.
"Healthcare organizations must focus on specific areas to reduce costs and benefit patients," said William T. Richardson, TRHS President/CEO. "The new Care Alliance ACO will help healthcare providers work alongside one another and more effectively communicate amongst each other to treat patients, whether it be in a hospital, long-term care facility or in an office setting. This will help enhance coordination of care, decrease healthcare costs and provide incentives for providers through the Medicare Shared Savings Program."
Beneficiaries seeing health care providers in ACOs always have the freedom to choose doctors inside or outside of the ACO. ACOs receive a portion of the Medicare savings generated from lowering the growth in health care costs as long as they also meet standards for high quality care.
"People across America are going to be better cared for when they go to their health-care providers because these hospitals and providers have made a commitment to innovation, a commitment to change how they do business and care for patients," HHS Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell said. "Medicare, and the health care system as a whole, is moving toward paying providers based on the quality, rather than just the quantity of care they give patients. The three new ACO initiatives that are being launched today mark an important step forward in this effort."
Since ACOs first began participating in the program in early 2012, thousands of health-care providers have signed on to participate in the program, working together to provide better care to Medicare's seniors and people with disabilities. The new and renewing ACOs bring approximately 15,000 additional physicians into the ACO program starting Jan. 1.
ACOs are delivering better care, and they continue to show promising results on cost savings. In 2014, they had a combined total net program savings of $411 million for 333 Medicare Shared Savings Program ACOs and 20 Pioneer ACOs. Based on 2014 quality and financial performance results for Shared Savings Program ACOs that started the program in 2012, 2013, and 2014, ACOs that reported in both 2013 and 2014 improved on 27 of the 33 quality measures, including patients' ratings of clinicians' communication, beneficiaries' rating of their doctors, screening for tobacco use and cessation, screening for high blood pressure, and Electronic Health Record use. 

Shared Savings Program ACOs also outperformed group practices reporting quality on 18 out of 22 measures.

Ultimately, this week's announcement is about delivering better care, spending dollars more wisely and having healthier people and communities. ACOs drive progress in the way care is provided by improving the coordination and integration of health care, and improving the health of patients with a priority placed on prevention and wellness. More information about the Shared Savings Program is available by Clicking Here!
For a list of the new and renewing ACOs announced today, visit the Shared Savings Program News and Updates webpage: 
Visit for specific information on the Care Alliance ACO. 


B.J. Smith Events and Catering has been recruited to operate the dining and catering services at Spring Hill Country Club.

"We will continue our catering at all venues we presently serve. We are exhilarated and grateful," Smith said.

"Effective Feb. 1, we will have our Sunday buffet there open to the public. Our customers know that I have needed more guest seating space and a larger kitchen. The fine people at Spring Hill have provided this for us, and we will do our best to serve them well."

Smith has been offering her popular Sunday buffet at the Tiftarea Conference Center on U.S. Highway 41, where it will continue through January.

Dykstra Carter a le cordon bleu chef, is  joining  Smith's team as executive chef.

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             a Glance 

  • MLK Day Governmental Opening Ceremony, 11 a.m., First Presbyterian Church, Tifton
  • Women's Health Day, 8-11 a.m., Tift Regional Community Events Center, Carpenter Road, Tifton

In Memoriam

JAN. 7
Linda Rae Goslin Coker, 71, Omega
Vernon Earl Adams Jr., 85, Alapaha
Blanchie O. Jordan, 82, Ashburn

JAN. 8
Melba Padgett Vickers, 81, Tifton
Lonnie Dale Fortenberry, 64, Ocilla
Gary Fowler, 63, Fitzgerald
Daner Mae Griffin, 80, Fitzgerald
Vivian Taylor Lane, 96, Rebecca

JAN. 9
Mary Jane Johnson, 51, Hahira
Doris T. Fitzgerald, 94, Fitzgerald
Johnny C. Gordon Sr., 69, Valdosta

JAN. 10
Eliza Hill Holland, 106, Sparks
E.A. "Shorty" Youngblood, 90, Tifton

JAN. 11
Willis "EZ" Peugh, 72, Tifton
Esma Grace Smith Clements, 91, Tifton

JAN. 12
John Gary Turner Sr., 56, Enigma
Isaac "Dale" Odale Caldwell, 71, Adel

JAN. 13
Dorothy Pridgen Hogan, 89, Fitzgerald


   2205 North Central Avenue,  Tifton, GA
MLS #: R124652A

Newly Renovated 3-bedroom 2-bath home located minutes away from I-75, schools, restaurants, stores, and hospital. Formal living room, formal dining room, bonus room that would be great for a recreation room or large office (or playroom, the possibilities are endless) and a very spacious laundry room. Eat-in kitchen features a ton of cabinets and large pantry space and granite counters. Built-in linen closet in main bathroom. Bathroom also offers granite counter tops and private dressing area. All three bedrooms are carpeted with built-in closets. Master bedroom has walk-in closet and a full master bath with tile walk-in shower and granite counter tops. Huge screened-in back porch; sip your lemonade and enjoy the shade with friends and family with room to spare. Workshop with separate 220 AMP. Could be a shop, a mother-in law suite, a man cave with very little renovation. Water and electricity and covered porch. There is also a lean-to for mower parking, boat parking, etc.

    Dwana Coleman
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                            Call Us Today!   229-386-4222

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