Friday, Dec. 31, 2021
Tifton, Georgia
GrapeNew
COVID-19 CASES RISE, BREAK GA RECORDS
TIFT SEES 49 NEW CONFIRMED CASES IN ONE WEEK
By FRANK SAYLES JR.
Tifton Grapevine
As daily COVID-19 cases rise to new records in Georgia, Tift County is also seeing a steady spike in cases, according to data from the Ga. Department of Public Health (DPH).

Tift has recorded 57 confirmed cases in the past two weeks, 49 of them in the last week alone. When rapid Antigen positive cases are added, Tift County's total cases have risen from 54 two weeks ago to 158 now.

Georgia's total confirmed and probable cases have risen by nearly 20,000 within one day, setting another record, the DPH reported Thursday. The state reported 13,834 PCR-confirmed cases and another 6,060 Antigen cases, setting the total number of cases at 19,894 for the 24 hours between Wednesday and Thursday.

Gov. Brian P. Kemp said Wednesday that the state is committing $100 million for up to 1,000 additional personnel for hospitals, with assignments effective for 13 weeks. Kemp is also deploying 200 National Guard troops to help at COVID-19 testing sites.

Meanwhile, the Southwell healthcare system, which includes Tift Regional Medical Center (TRMC), is taking steps to prepare for a post-holiday surge of COVID-19 patients.
 
Southwell has seen an increase in positive COVID-19 tests within the health system’s outpatient settings in the past week. TRMC currently has 12 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, officials said Thursday.

“COVID infection rates within our community are already starting to spike, so we went to Level Orange to help minimize the potential spread of COVID to our patients and staff,” said Dr. David McEachin, Southwell's chief medical officer.

“This will help us maintain operations and, hopefully, not have to stop any elective services.”

Level Orange means that only one visitor is allowed for non-COVID patients in most cases.

“The new year will start the same way it did on Jan. 1, 2021, with the U.S. fighting a pandemic,” McEachin said.
 
As cases rise, the CDC said the Omicron variant accounts for more than 70% of all new cases. The difference, McEachin said, is that while the variant may result in mild or no symptoms, it can still result in serious illness for some patients.

“Wear a mask, encourage friends and family to consider vaccination, and socially distance from others,” he advised. 

Tift County has seen a total of 4,965 COVID cases with 142 related deaths, while Georgia has recorded 1,384,606 cases and 26,358 deaths, the DPH said.
COVID CONCERNS CANCEL GNAT DROP AT NEW YEAR
By BONNIE SAYLES
Tifton Grapevine
Tift County’s Gnat Drop Festival for New Year's Eve has been cancelled because of the local surge in COVID-19 cases, says Tift County Commissioner Melissa Hughes

“As a community leader,” Hughes said, "citizens’ safety is my first concern. Much thought was put into making this very hard decision.”

She said she had conferred with Tift County Emergency Management Battalion Chief Allen Owens Jr., who consulted with Dr. Cameron Nixon, chief transformation officer for Tift Regional Health System.

“Dr. Nixon recommended that we don’t move forward with the festival because of the numbers increasing,” or if proceeding, to ask everyone to social distance and wear masks, Hughes said.

“The committee and I decided to just cancel. 'Matt the Gnat' was looking forward to the drop.” 

The Gnat Drop was scheduled with live entertainment New Year's Eve outside the Charles Kent County Administration Building on Tift Avenue.
TIFTON RHYTHM & RIBS BBQ FEST ANNOUNCES TOP ENTERTAINERS
FOR UPCOMING 2022 EVENT
By FRANK SAYLES JR.
Tifton Grapevine
The Tifton Rhythm & Ribs BBQ Festival, scheduled March 5, has just announced some of the headline entertainment on Fulwood Park's main stage.

Country singer-songwriter Hannah Dasher of Nashville, Tenn., and The Legendary JC's of central Florida are scheduled to perform at the popular Tifton festival this March.

Dasher, who moved to Nashville after graduating from the University of Georgia, was named to CMT’s Next Women of Country, Class of 2021. and cited in Music Row magazine's "Next Big Thing 2022" edition.

She also started a quirky cooking show called "Stand by Your Pan," which has become a viral sensation, amassing over 1 million followers.
The Legendary JC's have been performing soulful, rocking blues for years with a lineup of top central Florida musicians.

The band has headlined for three consecutive years at the NOLA Jazz Fest late-nights, headlined for a month at the Monte Carlo Casino in Las Vegas, at the Florida Music Festival, and at Macon’s Bragg Jam, among other events and venues.

More entertainment is expected to be announced in the coming weeks.
TIFTON INVITATIONAL BASKETBALL TOURNEY'S RETURN 'TOTAL SUCCESS'
By FRANK SAYLES JR.
Tifton Grapevine
The 12th McDonald’s Tifton Invitational basketball tournament, held Tuesday and Wednesday at Tift County High School, was a "total success," says Blue Devils Coach Tommy Blackshear.

"The Classic was well organized, and the fans in attendance really enjoyed themselves. They got an opportunity to enjoy their local teams in a safe and warm environment," Blackshear said.

"McDonald’s had masks and sanitizer available for every single fan and teams, so everyone in attendance felt safe during these trying times while enjoying some competitive games. ...All the coaches raved about how everything was organized and how professional the event was handled." 

The TCHS Blue Devils won both of their games during the tournament, defeating Irwin County, 66-47, on Tuesday, and beating Fitzgerald45-35, on Wednesday. Also on Wednesday, Turner County edged Cook County, 55-50.

"In an abundance of caution because of COVID, we were very intentional in not having a standing-room crowd, but we did want the tournament to return in a safe and respectful manner. We believe we accomplished that, and we provided a well-rounded experience to all of the teams that participated and our fans in the stands," said tournament chair Joyce Danford.

Tournament title sponsor Wendell Morgan of the Tifton McDonald’s added that organizers and committee are "very, very pleased with the outcome."
CHAMBER INVITES APPLICANTS
FOR 'LEADERSHIP TIFT'
The Tifton-Tift County Chamber of Commerce is kicking off its Leadership Tift program.

Leadership Tift is a 10-session educational experience designed to develop the knowledge and skills of current and upcoming local leaders.

The program is limited to 20 participants who are interested in bettering the community and furthering their role in local leadership. The cost per participant is $550.

Those interested may call 229-382-6200 or email ebrechbiel@tiftonchamber.org for a registration form. The deadline to apply is Feb. 4.
TIFTON
2012 Pineview Ave., Tifton, Ga 31793
UGA AGRICULTURAL LEADERSHIP CELEBRATES 2021 GRADUATES
Twenty-five professionals representing agriculture, forestry, and allied sectors recently graduated from the Advancing Georgia’s Leaders in Agriculture and Forestry Class of 2019-21.

The joint program between the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources aims to educate, empower and connect today’s professionals in agriculture, forestry, natural resources and related industries.

Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau and graduate of the 1996 class of the Georgia Agrileaders Foundation Forum, received the Outstanding Alumni in Agriculture and Forestry Award.
  
Graduates of the 2019-21 AGL class are:
  • Daniel Atkins, area marketing manager, Weyerhaeuser; Brunswick
  • Toby Bowen, account manager, AGCO; Athens
  • Jason Bragg, vice president, government relations, Georgia EMC, Atlanta
  • Sam Brown, owner and landscape architect, Fiddleheads Garden Center; Dalton
  • Jordan Carter, director of sales and marketing, Leger and Son Inc., Cordele
  • TR Clark, regional manager, F&W Forestry Services Inc., Hogansville
  • Francie Cotton, Southwest Georgia field sales representative, Bayer, Albany
  • Hillery Culpepper, assistant director of development, Georgia FFA Foundation, Sylvester
  • Nicole Duvall, program coordinator, Agricultural Commodity Commission for Milk, Madison
  • Dusty Engel, precision ag manager, Lasseter Tractor Co., Tifton
  • Chan Flanders, forester, Faircloth Forest Products, Dublin
  • Susan Harrell, financial analyst, timberland owner, Culloden
  • Aaron Hemmer, regional lending manager, AgGeorgia Farm Credit, Starr, S.C.
  • Matt Hestad, vice president of engagement, Georgia Forestry Association, Covington
  • Jessica Jarvholm, executive director, PineyWoods Farm, LaGrange
  • Ben Lancaster, director of sales and marketing, IFCO Seedlings, Moultrie
  • Jason Little, director of valuation services, Forest Resource Consultants Inc., Forsyth
  • David Martin, president/CEO, Widget Development and Trading Co., Atlanta
  • Samantha McLeod, executive director, Georgia Pecan Growers Association, Chula
  • Arren Moses, president, Edward Moses Farms, Uvalda
  • Sarah Nerswick, agriculture education teacher/FFA advisor, Brunswick High School, Rockville, Md.
  • Erin Nessmith, project owner, Vivayic, Madison
  • Blake Poole, Middle Georgia field representative, Office of Gov. Kemp, Buchanan
  • Eric Simpson, development coordinator, West Georgia Farmers Cooperative, West Point
  • Keaton Walker, chief marketing and PR director, Circle F Farms, Circle F Meats, Woody Folsom Trailers and Feed, Hawkinsville
HAPPY NEW YEAR AND THANK YOU
As we all look toward 2022, we at the Tifton Grapevine want to thank you for your continued support during 2021 and for the past decade.

Yes, the Tifton Grapevine actually began 10 years ago when Bonnie Sayles created it to promote local restaurant specials and upcoming special events within Tifton. In March 2013, Frank Sayles Jr. joined her, developing the Tifton Grapevine into a regular weekly electronic newspaper, expanding it to twice a week in December 2015.

Through the years, we have also expanded to provide news coverage of not only Tifton and Tift County but of Tiftarea cities and counties. Our email subscription list has grown to more than 7,000 subscribers with another 2,500 additional readers accessing each edition through our website and social media.

We sincerely appreciate our readers and our advertisers, without whom there would be no Grapevine. Because of our advertisers – local businesses and organizations – you receive the Tifton Grapevine at no cost to you. Please remember that the occasional Sponsored Editions from our advertisers help allow you to receive local news without cost.

Please support our advertisers, most of whom are small, local businesses investing in our communities. The past couple of years have been challenging for nearly every business, and they all need our continued support.

We are truly blessed to live in this community among so many supportive people. Again, thank you all.

And, if you didn’t get everything you wanted for Christmas, we do have several limited-edition Tifton Grapevine coffee mugs available for $10 each. Be the envy of your friends! Just let us know at IHeardIt@tiftongrapevine.com

And if you miss a past Grapevine edition, they are all archived by date on our website, www.tiftongrapevine.com

Let’s all have a healthy and happy new year.

Be safe out there, friends!
............................................... Frank & Bonnie Sayles
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YOUR GUIDE TO ACTIVITIES THIS WEEKEND IN THE TIFTAREA

Saturday, Jan. 1, is New Year's Day, the beginning of the calendar year. Most historians credit the Roman emperor Julius Caesar with developing the Julian calendar, designating Jan. 1 as the start of a new year. The Gregorian calendar, which many nations still use, arrived in 1582 when Pope Gregory XIII aligned the calendar, not with the moon but with the earth’s rotation around the sun — marking 365 days.
FRIDAY, DEC. 31 (New Year's Eve)
  • CANCELLED! Tifton New Year's Gnat Drop

SATURDAY, JAN. 1 (New Year's Day)
  • Tiftarea YMCA Polar Bear Plunge, 11 a.m., Stafford Aquatic Center, YMCA Hunt Park, Westover Road, Tifton
TIFTON GRAPEVINE'S DOG OF THE WEEK
“Missy," a female pooch, is available for adoption at the Tift County Animal Shelter on Highway 125 South between 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  
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DECEMBER 23
Grady D. Connell Sr., 83, Sumner
Martha Evelyn Cauthen Narofsky, 94, Eldorado
Essie W. Carpenter, 98, Tifton
Cheryl Patricia Pate Payne, 72, Sycamore
Lillie Mae Roberson Pate, 79, Tifton

DECEMBER 24
Marla Nichols Walker, 76, Tifton
Phillip Hoffman Jr., 78, Alapaha
Norma Elizabeth “Liz” Nix, 74, Nashville
Thomas Plair Sr., 72, Enigma
Dathan "David" Pittman, 62, Tifton

DECEMBER 25
Santiago Delgado Delacruz, Infant, Tifton
Kathy “Starr” Payne Moore, 72, Hahira
Hubert Ray Dickerson, 90, Irwin County
Ronald "Timmy" Morris, 72, Adel
Wilfred Richard "Buddy" Bockmier, 77, Tifton

DECEMBER 26
Ralph Waldo Varnadoe, 84, Doerun
William Miles Hancock, 79, Albany, formerly of Sylvester

DECEMBER 27
Jane Gertrude Hutto Brooks, 77, Tifton
Elmer Eugene DeMoss, 75, Ashburn

DECEMBER 28
Shirley Jones “Toot Toot” Stripling, 77, Tifton
Bette Womack Turner, 87, Tifton
Elizabeth King, 63, Tifton
DECEMBER 29
Glenda F. Shiver Birdashaw, 77, Sylvester
Jeffery “Jeff” Joseph Schmandt, 59, Enigma
Nancy Louise Mathis, 54, Nashville

DECEMBER 30
Larry Narred, Poulan
Virginia Lynn “Jenny” Stewart, 61, Nashville
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