Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021
Tifton, Georgia
Dr. David Bridges announced Tuesday that he will retire as president of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College.

“I have some other things in my life that I want to do,” said Bridges, the longest-serving president in ABAC's history. “I believe it is the right time; the institution is on solid footing for the future.”

Bridges, 63, plans to retire Dec. 31, but said he is willing to stay until the end of the spring semester, if the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia so desires.

“As the longest-serving president among our 26 institutions and ever in the history of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, President David Bridges for the past 16 years has been a leading voice for rural Georgia and its students,” said University System Acting Chancellor Teresa MacCartney

“An ABAC graduate himself, he skillfully guided the college through the addition of bachelor’s degrees, consolidation with the former Bainbridge State College and record growth in enrollment," MacCartney said.

“Before that, he spent two decades as a faculty member and administrator at the University of Georgia. The son of a farmer and a teacher, he never strayed far from his roots.”

A native of Parrott, Bridges is the only ABAC president to have once been an ABAC student, receiving his associate degree in 1978 before completing his undergraduate and graduate degrees at Auburn University and his Ph.D. at Texas A&M University

Before becoming ABAC's 10th president on July 1, 2006, Bridges was the assistant dean of the Tifton Campus of the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. He joined the UGA faculty in 1987 as an assistant professor in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences. 

Bridges will retire as one of the most accomplished presidents in ABAC's 113-year history. After offering only associate degrees for 75 years, the college began offering bachelor’s degrees under Bridges’ leadership in 2008.  

ABAC now offers 12 bachelor’s degrees with an enrollment that reaches nearly 4,000 students from 155 of Georgia’s 159 counties, 52 of Florida’s 67 counties, 18 states, and 19 countries.

“My goal was to transform ABAC from a two-year college into a senior college of excellence,” Bridges said. “I believe we have done that. ABAC is the leading producer of undergraduates who work and lead Georgia’s No. 1 industry – agriculture. In my opinion, ABAC also has the largest and best nursing program in South Georgia.”

Bridges cited the introduction of bachelor’s degrees as his greatest accomplishment. He said several of the degree programs required much work and patience.

“Many people doubted whether ABAC could ever offer a bachelor’s degree in forestry or agricultural education,” Bridges said. “It did take a long time, but we did it.”

He led the rehabilitation of the entire front of campus, which culminated with the renovation of ABAC’s three original buildings, Tift Hall, Lewis Hall, and Herring Hall. In 2020, ABAC added Edwards Hall to the front of the campus, a multi-purpose facility that provides a home for the music and fine arts program.

Through Bridges’ work with the ABAC Foundation, the college offers more than $800,000 in scholarships for students. The Foundation’s net assets have doubled during Bridges’ tenure.

In 2010, Bridges navigated the addition of the Georgia Museum of Agriculture to the ABAC campus. Formerly known as the Georgia Agrirama, the facility offers programs and exhibits for the community.

In 2017 and 2018, Bridges concentrated on consolidating the former Bainbridge State College into ABAC.
Tifton Grapevine
COVID-19 cases continue to decline in Tift County after spiking to an all-time high in August, according to data from the Ga. Department of Public Health (DPH).

During the past two weeks, Tift had 155 confirmed coronavirus cases representing 380 per 100,000, the DPH said. When rapid test Antigen cases are added, Tift shows 400 new cases in 14 days, or 980 per 100,000 population.

Tift's testing positivity rate is 13.9% in the past two weeks. The county has a total of 4,666 confirmed cases with 110 related deaths, the DPH said.

The state has recorded a total of 1,169,437 confirmed cases with 20,806 deaths, the DPH reported.

According to the DPH, Tift County has a 36% fully vaccinated rate. Statewide, 45% of eligible Georgians have been fully vaccinated.
Source: UGA College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences
Dr. Wayne Hanna of Tifton, best known for developing "TifTuf," the hardiest turfgrass ever produced at the University of Georgia, has established, with his wife Barbara, another endowment supporting research at the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES).

The Hannas have made a gift to establish the CAES Georgia Mountain Research and Education Center (GMREC) Endowment to inspire and support others as they learn about and pursue agricultural and environmental research.

The GMREC endowment is the third Hanna has established at UGA. The other endowments are the Tift Cultivar Study Abroad Scholarship established in 2008 and the University of Georgia Tifton Campus Warm-Season Turfgrass Breeding Endowment established in 2014.

Hanna is world-renowned for his work in the UGA Turfgrass Breeding Program, through which he produced popular turfgrasses such as TifSport, TifEagle, TifGrand, TifBlair and, more recently, TifTuf.

Hanna's grasses are used around the world, including at premier entertainment and sporting venues, such as Super Bowls and major golf tournaments.

“Education, learning, creativity and international travel have been so important to us that we want to pass it on to other students and programs,” said Hanna, who retired from UGA in June 2020.

“We established our most recent endowment at the Georgia Mountain Research and Education Center because this location represents UGA well by reaching out to local residents from all walks of life, including primary school students, providing workshops, field days, agricultural tours and more. We want this endowment to enrich the mountain station’s outreach,” he said.

Located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains on 445 acres in Blairsville, the GMREC was established in 1930 to aid farmers in the mountain region, giving them information applicable to the area with its own distinct soil and climatic conditions.

The new endowment will support educational and community outreach at the GMREC, which reaches more than 4,000 schoolchildren who visit the center annually.
2012 Pineview Ave. Tifton, Ga 31793
'The Landscape of Guitar’ is one of the events in the annual ABAC Presents! Performing Arts Series.
From guitar to spirituals to a dynamic theatrical presentation, the new season of the ABAC Presents! Performing Arts Series at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College opens Sept. 28.

Black Market Trust begins the series with five world-class musicians delivering songs from the Great American Songbook at 7 p.m. Sept. 28 in ABAC’s Howard Auditorium.

The Albany Symphony Orchestra performs at 3 p.m. Oct. 3 at the Tift County High School (TCHS) Performing Arts Center. At 7 p.m. Nov. 11 in Howard Auditorium, TAKE3 brings together the sounds of violin, cello, and piano.

The American Spiritual Ensemble will bring renditions of classic spirituals at 3 p.m. Jan. 23, at Tifton’s First Baptist Church. At 7 p.m. Feb. 8 in the TCHS Performing Arts Center, the National Players will present “A Raisin in the Sun,” a story about a family that dreams big on the south side of Chicago in the 1950s.

Master guitarist Bruce Hecksel and singer-songwriter Julie Patchouli unite to create an animated painting concert entitled “The Landscape of Guitar” at 7 p.m. March 15 in Howard Auditorium. Billboard-charting saxophonist Derek Brown closes out the series at 7 p.m. April 21 when he performs with the ABAC Jazz Ensemble in Howard Auditorium.

Season tickets are available at arts.abac.edu and by calling 229-391-4895.
Southwell President/CEO Chris Dorman, from left, former Board Chair John Brownlee, and Tift Regional Health System Board Chair Dallas Hunt.
The boards for Southwell, Tift Regional Health System, and the Tift County Hospital Authority recently presented former Chairman John Brownlee with a proclamation recognizing his years of service and contributions to the health system.

Brownlee, president of the Brownlee Agency based in Tifton, stepped down from volunteer board service in December after 22 years. He was appointed as a trustee to the Tift County Hospital Authority in 1998 and elected as chair of the Authority’s finance committee in 2006

Brownlee was named chair of the Tift Regional Health System (TRHS) Board of Directors in 2018. Dallas Hunt, who succeeded Brownlee as chair of the TRHS Board of Directors, said that Brownlee was an outstanding financial steward and progressive leader.

“Under his tenure, John helped to ensure that our hospital and healthcare system offered quality medical services and provided essential charitable and indigent care for the community,” Hunt said.

Jimmy Allen, chair of the Southwell Board of Directors, said Brownlee made an impact during his time on the board. 

“The community owes John a debt of gratitude for his countless hours of service to the hospital,” said Allen. “He provided valuable direction and insight. John had deep respect from his fellow board members as well as the administrative team and medical staff.”

John B. Prince III, chair of the Tift County Hospital Authority, said that “John was very invested in the success of Tift General Hospital, now known as Southwell and Tift Regional Health System. He was instrumental in the system’s overall growth.”

Chris Dorman, president/CEO of Southwell, said that Brownlee was a great resource and held the executive staff to a high standard.   

“John provided input and monitored the strategic plans that senior management developed, serving as a great advisor,” said Dorman. “John helped to plant the seeds of our recent expansion projects and strategic acquisitions. All of these initiatives are designed to enhance patient care and increase access. We thank John for his many years of service.”
The Tiftarea YMCA is hosting a Cancer Awareness Walk beginning at 9 a.m. Oct. 2 on the track behind the YMCA on Carpenter Road.

Registration may be made in person at the YMCA or online at tiftareaymca.org. T-shirts are available for those who register before Sept. 21.

Walk organizer Dustin McAlpin recently told the Tifton Rotary Club that all proceeds from the event will go toward supporting the YMCA’s LiveSTRONG program, which supports adult cancer survivors with a 12-week program focusing on physical health.
Students from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College recently gathered in the campus Alumni House, with milk and cookies, to write thank-you notes to scholarship donors.

ABAC Alumni Director Lynda Fisher said 200 students wrote personal notes to say how much they appreciate the donors’ support of their education.

“This event is a special opportunity to connect those who support our scholarships with the students who receive them,” said Jodie Snow, chief operating officer of the ABAC Foundation. “It shows the students that someone else chooses to invest in their education, and it shows the donors that they are making a real difference in the lives of ABAC students.”

Nearly $700,000 in scholarships were awarded to more than 500 students through the ABAC Foundation this year, and those who couldn’t make it to "Milk and Cookies Day" will write thank-you notes in the coming weeks.

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TO THE EDITOR: A plethora of new Georgia Museum of Agriculture exhibits and vignettes have been placed around the Historic Village for your viewing pleasure.

Create your own scavenger hunt as you try to locate and enjoy the following:

  • In our permanent collection display, an original, rare, early 1900s Standard Oil wagon;
  • At the Doctor’s Office: Dr. Vann’s original Druggist Diploma, Medical License, and signed medical books from his studies;
  • In the Lobby: An exhibition exploring the history of Ag Aviation over the last 100 Years;
  • On the Tift West path: To our knowledge, the only Beam engine on museum display in the country, a John Musgrave & Sons beam from an 1850s engine, the predecessor of our late 1800-early 1900s steam engines. A must-see; 
  • In our permanent collection on display inside the main hall: A “parade” of various manufacturers’ early 1900s Hit & Miss engines highlighting Gray Motors, John Deere, Hercules, and International Harvester;
  • Coming soon to the Gibbs Farmhouse: Day Crib and a preserved, original wash stand from 1890;
  • At the Gibbs Farmhouse: the Smith Quilt Collection;
  • At the Gallery, now: Beauty Amidst Trials: Capturing a Pandemic Year, a crowd-sourced photo exhibit of 98 pieces submitted by ABAC staff, alumni, students, and friends from across the state, here until Sept. 30;
  • At the Gallery, beginning Oct. 21: Work, Fight, Give: Relief posters & Memorabilia from WWII. This is the first exhibition to challenge our traditional memory of World War II, putting relief efforts at the forefront through an array of visually exciting poster art, poster stamps (known as “Cinderellas”), photographs, banners, and programs issued by the various relief agencies and by the National War Fund.

Stay healthy and safe, and happy fall from your curatorial staff!

Polly Huff
Georgia Museum of Agriculture
Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College
"Scampers," a 12-week-old male cat, is ready for a new home. To adopt "Scampers" and to see other pets available for adoption, visit the Tift County Animal Shelter from 1-6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, or call 229-382-PETS (7387).
Pets of the Week are sponsored by:
Branch's Veterinary Clinic
205 Belmont Ave., Tifton, 229-382-6055
A deal was closed on Sept. 18, 1899, transferring ownership of downtown Tifton's Hotel Sadie to Irvine W. Myers, who purchased the property from W.W. Timmons, who had owned it for five years. The sale included all of the block except for a building owned by Tifton Clothing Co. and 10 lots on its west side. Myers, who had helped manage the hotel for three years, planned to add 20 new rooms to the hotels' west wing. The hotel later burned and was rebuilt on the site as the Hotel Myon, a combination of the names "Myers" and "Tifton." Today, the building houses apartments, offices, shops, and City Hall.
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