Friday, November 13, 2020
Tifton, Georgia
Tifton Grapevine
Tifton City Council's decision this month to give the city's trash and recycling contract to Ryland Environmental is the culmination of multi-year intense discussions about garage pickup within the city.

On Nov. 2, City Council accepted Ryland’s proposal for a five-year fixed-price contract at $19.33 per household per month. Current contractor Golden Environmental, whose contract ends in December, had requested a three-year contract raising rates by 50 cents per household for a total of $19.91 a month.

Under its current contract. Golden charges $19.41 per month for each household.

Council said Ryland will work with the city to create a transfer station for trash rather than continuing to send all garbage to the landfill, whose remaining life expectancy is seven years. With a transfer station, trash is collected at the station and then trucked to a landfill elsewhere in another county.

Eighteen months ago, Council’s Solid Waste Committee had first made the recommendation to contract with Ryland for the services.

As a City Council member at the time, I served on the Solid Waste Committee with Councilman Johnny Terrell and several city staff representatives. We spent months reviewing proposals for city garbage and waste pickup, arriving at a unanimous recommendation.

“We spent a lot of time going through the RFPs (Request for Proposals),” I had said at the May 6, 2019, council workshop in presenting the committee's recommendation. “We tried to look at everything. We always give consideration to local businesses whenever we do this. However, the committee wanted to look at what’s best for the citizens of Tifton right now and for the future, and I think that’s what we did.”
But that recommendation to contract with Ryland was dead on arrival at that time within City Council, whose majority was poised to retain Golden Environmental as the garbage contractor. Golden is a Tifton company and was coming to the end of a five-year city contract; Ryland is headquartered in Dublin.

At City Council's May 20, 2019, meeting, Councilmen Jack Folk and Wes Ehlers moved to give Golden another five-year contract for garbage services but for the city to take over yard and bulk waste collection in-house, creating a department to handle it. Estimates were that the new department would have cost the city $600,000 up front, with the hiring of personnel and purchasing of equipment; however, proponents said the department would soon pay for itself.

With no enthusiasm among most council members at that time to change contractors, Terrell and I offered a compromise to give Golden Environmental a one-year contract extension through December 2020, allowing the city to further study the feasibility of handling yard and bulk waste collection in-house. That was approved by a 3-2 vote, with Mayor Julie B. Smith joining us in agreement. 

With Golden’s contract soon ending this year, council recently directed City Manager Pete Pyrzenski to reach out to waste-collection companies for proposals. Pyrzenski told council that Ryland was the low bidder and handles trash collection across the Southeast.

“They know what they’re doing,” Pyrzenski said. He added that he looked at the proposals from a business perspective and for “what’s best for our government… We’re at a crossroads. This is a business-smart decision."

Pyrzenski said that Ryland will make Tifton its regional hub with a new office and 10 new jobs.

In choosing Ryland at council’s Nov. 2 meeting, Vice Mayor Ehlers said council was “looking at more than price,” and Councilman Folk said the decision “makes a lot of sense” to taxpayers.

Some of us had said that more than 18 months ago.

Frank Sayles Jr. was a member of Tifton City Council from January 2016 until January 2020.
Tifton Grapevine
All 159 counties in Georgia will begin an election recount by hand at 9 a.m. today (Friday), as ordered by Ga. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. The count must be completed by 11:59 p.m. next Wednesday.

Tift County Election Supervisor Leila E. Dollison said the hand recount in Tift will begin at 9 a.m. in the county election board office at 222 Chesnutt Ave, Building B. She said the public may view the process within a designated public-viewing area in the building. Individuals are prohibited from interfering in the process, cannot touch ballots, cannot take photos or record the process, Dollison said.

Raffensperger, who is self-quarantining after his wife tested positive for the coronavirus Thursday, said the hand recount "will help build confidence ... with the margin being so close."

According to the latest figures from the secretary of state’s office, Joe Biden received 14,116 more votes than Donald Trump out of nearly 5 million ballots in Georgia. No one has yet called the state for either candidate.

Dollison said Tift County had only minor issues with the election, primarily with some voters submitting more than one application for absentee ballots. She said five organizations sent out applications for absentee ballots to voters, which caused some confusion as some voters believed they were actual ballots or were a followup to their previous applications.

No one received more than one official absentee ballot in Tift County, Dollison said.
A 14-year-old has been arrested and charged with felony murder in the shooting death of a 15-year-old Tifton girl, Tifton Police announced Thursday night.

Autumn Connell, a student at Tift County High School, died Thursday at Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Fla., after being transferred there in critical condition from Tift Regional Medical Center, police said.

Authorities said they are not releasing the name of the 14-year-old charged with felony murder because of the juvenile's age.

At about 4 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 11, Tifton Police responded to gunshots in the 1000 block of Lee Avenue. Upon arrival, officers found Autumn Connell with a gunshot wound.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to Autumn’s family," Tifton Police said in a written statement Thursday night.

"As we seek to understand the reason why something like this has happened to another one of our children, we must come together as a community to work together," the statement read.

A joint investigation with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Tifton Police Department is still underway. Although an arrest has been made, authorities ask anyone with information to contact the Tifton Police Tip Line at 229-391-3991 or the GBI Tip Line at 1-800-597-TIPS (8477)
Fifteen new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Tift County on Thursday, increasing Tifts total cases since the pandemic began to 2,050, the Ga. Department of Public Health (DPH) reported.

During the past two weeks, Tift had 80 new cases and, as of Thursday, 67 coronavirus-related deaths.

The DPH said that among the Tift countians who were tested for COVID-19 in the past two weeks, 8.8 percent of them were positive.

Statewide, Georgia reported 2,547 new cases on Thursday and 70 additional deaths. Since the pandemic began, Georgia has reported 380,190 total cases and 8,403 deaths, the DPH said.
Tifton Grapevine
Congressman Austin Scott, R-Tifton, spoke of positive changes for veterans during Tifton’s Tribute to Veterans on Wednesday, Veterans Day.

Scott told of his grandfather, “my favorite veteran,” who was a prisoner of war for 18 months during World War II.

“He was a B-17 pilot flying out of North Africa. When he returned, he spent a little better than five years trying to prove to the VA (Veterans Administration) that he was in the military. He’d been a POW, was wounded in battle and had five air medals and a Purple Heart. He came back to fight the bureaucracy at the VA," Scott told the audience.

"I will tell you quite candidly that just a few years ago, we were still hearing those stories from the VA. Now I feel that we have made some good progress with the VA. There are still some veterans waiting for care, and we are doing everything we can to reduce the amount of red tape.”
In another situation, Scott told of a young disabled veteran, who lost both legs in Afghanistan who wanted to go back to work, but said he would lose his Social Security benefits if he took a job. 
“So we wanted to fix that,” Scott said. “We wrote a bill called the Purple Heart Right to Work Act. They deserve it. I believe we have so many suicides because we have too many injured veterans who spend too much time sitting around the house, because the rules prohibit them from doing what they need to do to get back to work. 

“We have a tremendous bipartisan group that signed on that legislation,” said Scott, who serves on the U.S. House Armed Services Committee.

Scott also noted that there is positive news coming on the potential for a coronavirus vaccine, and he advised citizens, “Don’t let your guard down” in the meantime. 
Paid for by the Tifton Merchants Association. To join, email or call 229-391-3978.
Dr. Thomas D. Fausett Jr., left, is sworn in as president of the Georgia Academy of Family Physicians by Dr. Howard McMahan.
The Georgia Academy of Family Physicians has named an Adel physician as president.

Dr. Thomas D. Fausett Jr., was sworn in during a socially distant ceremony on the front portico of Southwell Medical in Adel.
Fausett operates a private independent practice in Adel and is on staff at Southwell Medical and Southwell Health and Rehabilitation Center, both in Adel.

He becomes the 73rd Georgia Academy president. He previously was an assistant professor of medicine at Mercer University, Emory University, Augusta University (then known as Georgia Regents), Albany State, and Valdosta State universities.

In Cook County, his home county, Fausett has served as a member and chair of the Board of Health and is department chair of Southwell Medical.
Tifton Grapevine
Hannah Rucker, co-director of Called to Care of Tift and Turner counties and guest speaker at the Tifton Rotary Club meeting Wednesday, explained the mission of the nonprofit organization – to meet the physical needs of vulnerable children in the foster care system.

The Georgia Division of Family & Children Services (DFCS) will "let us know their needs, and we will do our best to meet them,” she said.

An example is the “journey bag” she displayed, a bookbag filled with different items, depending on the age and needs of each child. 

The organization started in Tifton during 2014 when local resident Laura Maxwell felt a calling, during a church service, to help children. The organization now serves 20 counties in South Georgia

Currently serving 114 children in Tift and Turner counties, the local chapter aided 417 children in the past year, including those in 36 local foster homes. Online training and courses for foster parents are offered free of charge, and the chapter rents office space from Tifton First Baptist Church.

The organization is launching its year-end campaign within a few weeks in hopes of making up funds missed from canceling fundraising events during the pandemic. For more information about the chapter, Rucker said to look to social media for "Called to Care." 
At the Exchange Club of Tifton’s weekly meeting Monday, Frank Sayles Jr., editor and publisher of the Tifton Grapevine, talked about his journey from physical newspapers to a digital one.

Sayles, who was publisher of The Tifton Gazette for a dozen years, has been a publisher and editor at newspapers throughout Georgia, South Carolina, West Virginia and Virginia.

He was a longtime political reporter and editor at The Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C., where he was Statehouse bureau chief, covered Southern governors’ conferences, congressional hearings and interviewed four presidents of the United States.

Growing up in Norfolk, Va., Sayles at age 12 began a neighborhood “newspaper," via typewriter and carbon paper, chronicling pickup football games and school happenings.

“I feel like I’ve come full circle now in some ways,” he said. “The Tifton Grapevine is a way for me to cover my community and to connect our community."

The Grapevine is a twice-a-week digital newspaper with 6,800 email subscribers and is also available online where thousands more folks read it. It is free and is sustained by local advertisers.

Sayles said his wife, Bonnie, began the Grapevine a decade ago as a digital service for local events and restaurant specials. In 2013, Sayles began enhanced local news coverage in the Tifton Grapevine and set a regular schedule for its release each week. It has been steadily growing ever since.

During the past two decades, Sayles has been active in the community, serving on Tifton City Council, on the Downtown Development Authority, on the Tifton-Tift County Chamber of Commerce board as vice chairman, as president of several organizations, including the United Way of South Central Georgia, the Tift Area YMCA, the Tift County Foundation for Educational Excellence, the Tifton-Tift County Public Library Foundation, the Tifton Rotary Club and currently serves as a board member on the Tifton-Tift County Tourism Board.

He noted that he took a circuitous path to Tifton after moving to South Carolina twice, to West Virginia twice and to Georgia on three different occasions – all with the newspaper business.

Tifton is the place we were meant to be,” Sayles said.
In commemoration of World Polio Day, the Rotary Club of Tifton is sponsoring the "Last Mile for Polio" bike ride on Sunday, Nov. 15.

The 5.5-mile family-friendly bike ride begins at 2 p.m. at First Baptist Church's Sixth Street parking lot in Tifton. The route includes curated, educational and historic stops. The entry fee is $15 per individual and $25 per couple (which includes children).

All proceeds go the Rotary Polio Plus Program to help eradicate polio worldwide, which is a major project of Rotary Clubs across the globe. Rotary is proud to be instrumental in the eradication of polio in 99 percent of the world. Only two countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan, still report cases.

Rotary International launched the initiative 30 years ago. Made possible by donations to the Rotary Foundation and End Polio Now, Rotary members have given more than $2.1 billion and endless volunteer hours to protect children from the paralyzing disease.

To register for the Rotary Club’s bike ride, Click Here!
Southwell/Tift Regional Health System (TRHS) is conducting a health needs assessment and is asking members of the community to participate in a web-based survey by Nov. 23.

English and Spanish versions of the survey are available. Complete the survey by Nov. 23, 2020, to be eligible for a drawing for three great prizes:

  • $200 VISA gift card
  • $100 Walmart gift card
  • $50 Darden restaurant gift card (good at Longhorn, Olive Garden, and other locations)

Winners will be announced on Nov. 24. You can also participate anonymously. Thank you for your feedback!
Student Tristen Clements, left, and Chris Daniels, ABAC manager of instructional technology, examine a camera in the new media studio.
Students interested in television broadcasting, radio, or producing will soon have access to a state-of-the-art media studio at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College.

Chris Daniels, manager of instructional technology, said the studio will be completed in a few weeks. Installation of the set, lighting grids, and practice tests are still underway. 

“We are excited about the new studio and want to provide opportunities for students to be involved from the ground floor,” Daniels said.

The 1,100-square-foot studio in the recently renovated Carlton Center will be accompanied by a modern control room with stations for students to run lighting, audio, and graphics. Students enrolled in journalism classes and members of the Stallion TV production team may also use the new equipment to practice switching and producing. 

Just down the hall from the studio is a new audio/podcast recording booth, ABAC radio station WPLH, Stallion student media, a print-layout/conference room, and a post-production editing suite.

As a part of a $21.4 million project with the construction of the new Fine Arts Building on campus, the Carlton Center has undergone a complete renovation during the past two years.
Tifton’s Locally Owned Digital Newspaper
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Your free subscription allows you to automatically receive our MidWeek and Weekender editions in your in-box, along with occasional sponsored editions.

To Contact Us, Call 478-227-7126
This dog is currently on stray hold at the Tift County Animal Shelter. If not reclaimed, will be available for adoption or rescue at the Animal Shelter, located at 278 Georgia Highway 125 S. It is open to the public for adoptions from 1-6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

For more information, call 229-382-PETS (7387).
Pets of the Week are sponsored by:
Branch’s Veterinary Clinic
205 Belmont Ave., Tifton, 229-382-6055  

  • Drive Thru Flu Clinic, 8-10 a.m., Tift County Health Department, 305 E. 12th St.
  • Tift County High Blue Devils football vs. Colquitt County High Packers, 7:30 p.m., Brodie Field, Tifton
  • Tiftarea Academy Panthers football @ Southland Academy, 7:30 p.m., Americus

  • Wiregrass Farmers Market, 9 a.m.-Noon, Ga. Museum of Agricuture, Tifton
  • Cane Grinding & Syrup Making, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Ga. Museum of Agriculture, Tifton
NOV. 5
Bobby L. Jones, 87, Moultrie
The Rev. James Edgar Rowe, 87, Willacoochee
Sheron Elizabeth Wood, 64, Irwinville
Chung-He Varnadoe, 78, Adel 
Mary Ruth Austin Giddens, 86, Lexington, Ala.
Rodolfo Martinez, 66, Tifton

NOV. 6
 Donald Jimmy “Donnie” Cooper, 67, Tifton
Raymond Moser, 82, Sparks

NOV. 7
J.C. Harper, 90,
Jeremy DeBerry, 29, Adel

NOV. 8
Linda Kay Daniel, 73, Hull
Nolan Clifford Wilcox, 83,
Sarah Ann Smith Oliver, 74, Fitzgerald
Butch Williams, 76, Dixie

NOV. 9
Thomas Kenneth Moody, 82, Tifton

NOV. 10
John Peter Ruse, 90, Tifton
Fred Thomas Day, 73, Cordele
Richard “Cory” Bromlow, 41,
Thomas L. Rodgers, 79,

NOV. 11
Lynn Forbes Bailey, 71, Tifton
Rachel Darlene Castleberry Morgan, 59, Ty Ty
Geneva "Pinky" Browning Harper, 88, West Berrien Community

NOV. 12
Angela Mackey, Ashburn
Patricia Lee Boyse McRae, 95, Nashville
Sandra Britt Johnson, 76, Ashburn

Tifton Grapevine
e-published every Tuesday and Friday

Frank Sayles Jr.
Editor & Publisher
Bonnie Sayles
Managing Editor
A Service of Sayles Unlimited Marketing LLC, Tifton, Georgia