Friday, May 29, 2020
Tifton, Georgia
GrapeNew
ABAC PLANS FOR STUDENTS' RETURN
TO CAMPUS
FACE-TO-FACE INSTRUCTION RESUMES AUG. 12
ABAC President David Bridges and staff are making plans for students to return to the familiar campus setting when Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College opens the fall semester Aug. 12 .

But officials caution that students should not expect business as usual.

“Our institutional priority is to return to face-to-face instruction, but it will be far from a return to normal,” said Bridges , the longest serving president among the 26 colleges and universities in the University System of Georgia (USG).

“We are taking extensive measures for the safety of our students and our employees in the classrooms, the offices, the residence halls, and the dining hall. Right now, we are going through an extraordinary planning process,” Bridges said.

ABAC and the state's other colleges and universities moved to online classes for the final weeks of the spring semester when the pandemic hit. All summer term classes are also online.

“These are unprecedented times,” Bridges said. “We are dealing with complex directions from many sources including the governor’s office, the Georgia Department of Public Health, the USG and others. When the fall semester begins, we want to be ready.”

Bridges said changes will be evident, such as the number of students in a class to their proximity to each other when they eat in the dining hall.  Social distancing will be the norm, not the exception.

“Our primary mission is to teach students,” Bridges said. “We are working daily on a plan to do that.”
BAR, NIGHTCLUBS MAY REOPEN NEXT WEEK
GOV. KEMP TO ALLOW GATHERINGS UP TO 25
Bars and nightclubs may reopen in Georgia on June 1 , with restrictions, and slightly larger gatherings are allowed under an executive order that Gov. Brian P. Kemp issued Thursday .

Live performance venues will stay closed for now, but bars and nightclubs, closed since March because of the pandemic, will be allowed to reopen if they follow 39 mandatory health and safety measures.

Kemp keeps intact his shelter-in-place order through June 12 for Georgians age 65 or older and those deemed “medically fragile,” asking them to stay home except for conducting essential services.

The executive order permits gatherings of as many as 25 people starting Monday and requires larger groups to continue social distancing .

The state also lets school systems begin holding in-person summer courses with restrictions and allows overnight summer camps if they meet 33 standards. Amusement parks may also reopen June 12 under new state guidelines.

“This declaration plays a critical important role in our battle against coronavirus ,” Kemp said, and is a “slow, careful transition to the new normal .”

On Thursday night, the Ga. Department of Public Health reported a total of 45,266 cases of COVID-19 in Georgia with 1,973 deaths. Tift County has a total of 247 cases with 16 deaths, the DPH said, representing persons with Tift County residences.

Southwell health system, which includes Tift Regional Medical Center , reports 455 positive cases of the coronavirus and 44 deaths, most of which involve residents of other counties outside Tift.
IS RUBY TUESDAY CLOSING
IN TIFTON?
FINANCIAL WEBSITE SAYS YES, BUT RESTAURANT COMPANY DECLINES TO CONFIRM
By FRANK SAYLES JR.
Tifton Grapevine
The future of Tifton's Ruby Tuesday restaurant on U.S. Highway 82 may be in doubt.

The Tifton location is among 147 of the company's restaurants that have quietly closed this year, according to Business Insider , the international financial and business news website.

However, Ruby Tuesday's corporate office has not confirmed the Tifton closing, and the local restaurant manager said on social media Thursday that there are hopes the Tifton location will reopen soon.

"We are hoping for an open date in the next few weeks. We truly miss serving the Tifton community," said Laura Temples Ellsworth , manager of Tifton's Ruby Tuesday . She noted that the company's corporate website still lists the Tifton location as "temporarily closed."

The Highway 82 location halted inside dining in March along with many other businesses as the pandemic grew in Georgia . For awhile, it offered curbside pickup but that has stopped. While some Ruby Tuesday restaurants have begun reopening, others have not.

Business Insider said Thursday that a Ruby Tuesday company spokesman declined to confirm the list of restaurant closures, but sent the following statement:

"During these uncertain times, and after careful consideration, we have made the decision to close select locations in an effort to better position our restaurants for future business. We value the dedication and hard work of all our employees, and we greatly appreciate all those who support us. We will continue to work hard to make the Ruby Tuesday brand even stronger for the future."

Among the U.S. locations that Business Insider cited as closing are several other Ruby Tuesday restaurants in Georgia : Memorial Drive, Waycross ; Highland Crossing, East Ellijay ; Highway 400 South, Dawsonville ; Steven B. Tanger Boulevard, Commerce ; South Highway 27, Carrollton ; and Mall Boulevard, Brunswick .
IT'S WATERMELON TIME!
This season's watermelon crop is expected to be of high quality and have the crisp, sweet flavor unique to Georgia watermelon, says the Georgia Watermelon Association (GWA). 

While Georgia has had a relatively cool spring, consumers should still start seeing Georgia-grown watermelons in stores the first week of June . The Georgia season typically peaks around June 20

“We expect excellent quality and even more, we are eager to have a successful growing season,” said Rob Greene , GWA president and owner of Lime Creek Farms in Arabi in Turner County .

Planting for Georgia’s watermelon crop begins in March . From planting to harvest, watermelons typically need 90 days to grow, ripen, and be ready for harvest. With more than 18,000 acres of watermelon harvested on average each year, Georgia ranks in the  top four for production in the U.S. among Texas, Florida , and California

Georgia watermelons are expected to hit stores by June 3 .
GA JOBLESS RATE AT RECORD HIGH;
TIFT COUNTY HITS 8.8 PERCENT
April' s preliminary unemployment rate in Georgia hit a record 11.9 percent in April as Tift County's jobless rate rose to 8.8 percent, says the Ga. Department of Labor .

Georgia's unemployed increased from 342,601 to 581,820. April's numbers represent the highest one-month  recorded increase and also the highest  total unemployment on record. 

The state's April number of unemployed is more than 80,000 higher than at the height of the Great Recession of 2009-2010 .

"This is the highest unemployment rate on record, eclipsing the previous high of 10.6 percent that occurred in December 2010 ," said Commissioner Mark Butler .

Tift County's 8.8 percent jobless rate in April was up significantly from 2.9 percent during April last year. In the Tiftarea, Berrien County registered a 14.1 percent rate; it was 3.2 percent a year ago. Ben Hill County had a 11.1 percent jobless rate in April; Turner County , 10.5 percent; Worth County, 8.9 percent; Irwin County, 8.8 percent; and Cook County, 8 percent.
TIFTON ATHLETE LEAVES
VA TECH FOR UGA
Former Tift County High basketball star P.J. Horne is transferring from Virginia Tech to the University of Georgia to play for the Bulldogs during his senior year.

Horne , who helped lead Tift County High to the Class 7A Georgia State Championship as a senior in 2017 , told UGASports.com that he wanted to play basketball closer to home after an aunt died from COVID-19 and other family members contracted the virus.

The 6-foot-6, 225-pound Horne, as a junior at Virginia Tech , started in 30 of 32 games and averaged 7.6 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. He also shot 34.9 percent from three-point range (45 of 129).

The forward/center was a four-year letter winner at Tift County High School for former Coach Eric Holland . Horne was a member of both Tift County's 2017 and 2014 championship basketball teams. As a Blue Devil , Horne was named first-team All-State and was an all-state selection by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution . As a Tift senior , he averaged 25.3 points and 11 rebounds per game, scoring more than 700 points.
ABAC NAMES NEW FINANCIAL AID CHIEF
Brenda Taylor-Hickey has been named financial aid director at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College.

Taylor-Hickey has served as associate director of financial aid at the College of Coastal Georgia since 2012 . She had worked in different positions at Coastal Georgia, including University Center director, Student Affairs special assistant, and operations specialist.

“To provide excellent service to our students, the financial aid staff must communicate effectively with students and award aid in a timely fashion,” Taylor-Hickey said. “My passion for customer service has been a part of my management philosophy since my days as a seasonal manager at Summer Waves Water Park during the summer while I attended college.”

Taylor-Hickey completed her master’s degree in industrial/organizational psychology at Radford University and her bachelor’s in psychology at Berry College . She succeeds Michael Wright , who is now financial aid director at Georgia Southwestern University .
LEGISLATURE HONORS CREATION
OF TIFTUF TURFGRASS
The Georgia House and Senate recently passed resolutions recognizing Dr. Wayne Hanna and Dr. Brian Schwartz of the University of Georgia Tifton campus for the development of TifTuf turfgrass .

TifTuf has become the world's gold standard for drought-tolerant Bermudagrass and is used on athletic fields as well as on the lawns of many businesses and residences.

Click on the video above for more details.
TIFTON GRAPEVINE'S PET OF THE WEEK
Felix , a "sweet boy and ready to find his comfy home" is among the animals available for adoption at the Tift County Animal Shelter.

The shelter, located at 278 Georgia Highway 125 S., in Tifton, is now open to the public for adoptions  1-6 p.m. Mondays  through  Fridays .

For information , call 229-382-PETS (7387).
Pets of the Week are sponsored by:
Branch’s Veterinary Clinic
205 Belmont Ave., Tifton, 229-382-6055   
CORONAVIRUS CLEARINGHOUSE
Important Phone Numbers & Web Sites
candle-flames-banner.jpg
MAY 21
Kenneth “Ken” Jeffery Rhodes, 55, Albany
Loree Overton Worley, 91, Hogansville
Laura Anderson DeBerry, 88, Dublin

MAY 22
Mary Jane Gandy, 68, Nashville  
Edwina W. Wynn, 88, Fitzgerald
Preston Williams, 86, Lenox

MAY 23
Betty Jean Goff Jones, 79, Chula
Sylvia Nobles Staley, 68, Albany
Peggy Griner, 61, Byron
Mary Lynn Moore, 84, West Berrien Community
Mae Lizzie Daniels, 89, Ashburn
Chris Forte, 43, Barney

MAY 24
Amanda Handley, 52, Fitzgerald
Rozannah Bryant, 73, Fitzgerald
Shane Bryson, 44, Hahira
William “Willie” Anderson Hammett, 79, DeLand, Fla.

MAY 25
Faye Shepard, 74, Sylvester
John Paul "Johnny" Connell Jr., 74, Nashville
Jamal Jenkins, 19, Ty Ty
Wayne Evans, 74, Fitzgerald
Stonewall “Stump” Jackson Perry, 11, Ashburn
Elizabeth Hawk Ponder, 77, Moultrie

MAY 26
Maria Villasana Saludes, 97, Texas

________________________________

MAY 28
Vivian Harris Pearson, 78, Enigma
Dalma A. Fennell, 97, Sparks
Terry Lee Austin, 72, Nashville
Ruth Hall Burkett, 91, Fitzgerald
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