Tuesday, June 2, 2020
Tifton, Georgia
GrapeNew
GA SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS MURDER CONVICTION
CHULA MAN SERVING LIFE SENTENCE IN DEATH OF WIFE
The Georgia Supreme Court on Monday upheld the conviction of a Chula man found guilty for the felony murder of his wife at their residence in October 2014 .

In a unanimous decision, the state's high court denied Timmy Leroy Thompson 's appeal for a new trial in the death of Peggy Michele Thompson .

Thompson contended that the trial court erred by allowing "improper testimony" regarding other acts of violence he had allegedly committed against his stepdaughter, stepson and daughter and that the court had not sequestered those witnesses.

The court ruled that "after reviewing the record of Thompson’s trial, we conclude that the evidence presented against him was sufficient to authorize a rational jury to find beyond a reasonable doubt that Thompson was guilty of felony murder ."

The court disagreed with his contention that the family witnesses should have been sequestered and ruled that the family testimony was valid.

Peggy Thompson , 38, died Oct. 29, 2014 . An autopsy determined that her cause of death was blunt-force injuries to her head in conjunction with asphyxia , and her death was ruled a homicide. She had injuries to her head, face, scalp, neck, upper chest area, and arms consistent with blunt-force trauma and strangulation, and was inconsistent with a fall, as her husband said had occurred.

Timmy Thompson , who was 43 at the time, was indicted on March 9, 2015 , by a Tift County grand jury for malice murder, felony murder and aggravated assault with a blunt object and by strangulation.

At a jury trial Dec. 6-8, 2016 , Thompson was found guilty of felony murder ; the jury failed to reach a verdict on either of the remaining counts. Thompson was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
CITY SALES TAX REVENUE ONLY DOWN 3 PERCENT
BUT HOTEL-MOTEL TAX REVENUE DOWN 70 PERCENT
By FRANK SAYLES JR.
Tifton Grapevine
Despite the pandemic, Tifton city sales tax revenues are down only 3 percent, Tifton City Council was told Monday.

"The numbers aren't as bad as we assumed, as bad they could have been," said City Manager Pete Pyrzenski .

He said monthly sales tax collections are usually in the $250,000 to $280,000 range, so at a 3 percent decline it "doesn't amount to much."

"It's a good sign that money is still being spent in our community." Pyrzenski said.

Abbey   McLaren , the downtown development director, said downtown restaurants are operating at approximately 60 percent, "which is a little higher than I anticipated," she said.

But the city manager noted that hotel-motel tax revenue is down 70 percent. It is hoped that that will improve this summer and fall as more people travel.

Council held a public hearing on the city's Fiscal Year 2021 budget, up slightly at $44 million . Council plans to adopt the final budget at its June 15 meeting.

For the first time at a City Council meeting, all council members and staff wore face masks, as public health officials have recommended during the pandemic.

"This is not about government controlling us; this is not about fear," said Councilman Jack Folk . He said it is all about public health.

"This mask doesn't protect me; it protects all of you," Folk said. "You not wearing a mask puts me at risk ."

He said that wearing a face mask is a way to help contain the coronavirus . "We don't want to go back in the situation of this thing exploding " in the community, Folk said.
SOUTHWELL RENAMING
AREA CLINICS
AFFINITY CLINIC WILL BECOME SOUTHWELL MEDICAL CLINIC
Southwell health system begins its second-phase name conversion this month, renaming the system’s newly designated Rural Health Clinics (RHCs).

Certified by Medicare and Medicaid, an RHC is a special clinic designed to increase access to primary care services for patients in rural communities. RHC clinics undergoing a name change in June are:
  • Affinity Clinic – changing to Southwell Medical Clinic
  • Tift Community Health Center—changing to Southwell Medical Community Health Center
  • Sylvester Family Practice – changing to Southwell Medical Sylvester Primary Care
  • Ashburn Primary Care – changing to Southwell Medical Ashburn Primary Care
  • Nashville Primary Care – changing to Southwell Medical Nashville Primary Care

The nephrology practice will be changing its name to Southwell Nephrology and moving to 39 Kent Road, Suite 1, in Cypress Pointe Professional Park in Tifton.

“Although the names of these clinics are changing, you can still expect to see the same great care and the same great people at each of these facilities,” said Southwell President & CEO Chris Dorman . “We have not been acquired, and we remain a locally operated health-care institution dedicated to providing exceptional care.”

Tift Regional Health System announced Southwell as the new name for its overall system last summer.
TIFTON'S J.L. HERRING FAMILY
RECEIVES ABAC LEGACY AWARD
The John Lewis Herring family from Tift County has been selected as the 2020 Family Legacy Award recipient by the ABAC Alumni Association at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. 

The Family Legacy Award was established in 1998 to recognize families with five or more family members spanning two or more generations that have attended ABAC and made a significant contribution to the college.

Herring is a former owner and editor of The Tifton Gazette and author of “Saturday Night Sketches: Stories of Old Wiregrass Georgia.”  Herring Hall, one of the three original buildings on the ABAC campus, is named for him. At least 18 Herring descendants attended ABAC, ranging from Lois Herring Weldon in 1935 to Levi Moore in 2016 .

Born Dec. 8, 1866 , in Albany, Herring's family moved to Isabella in Worth County when he was a child. He began his apprenticeship in the newspaper business at 16 as the “printer’s devil” in the offices of The Worth Star .

Herring married Martha Susan Greene on Dec. 22, 1886 . He worked in the mercantile business with his father and with small newspapers in Ty Ty and Isabella . Herring purchased The Tifton Gazette in 1896 and served as editor until his death in 1923 .

Herring’s descendants who attended ABAC include Lois Herring Weldon, 1935; Sue Herring Wetherington, 1937; James H. Moore Jr., 1948 (married Eunice Herring in 1950); James H. Moore III, 1976; John David Moore, 1986, and his wife, LaRae Moore (sons and daughter-in-law of James H. Moore Jr. and Eunice Herring Moore). 

James H. Moore III, currently serves on the ABAC Foundation Board of Trustees , and John David Moore received the 2014 Master Farmer Award from the ABAC Alumni Association.

The children of John David Moore and LaRae Moore all attended ABAC and married ABAC alumni. They include Logan Moore, 2014, and his wife, Casey Walter Moore, 2016; Haley Moore Hughes, 2010, and her husband, Matt Hughes, 2010; and Levi Moore, 2016, and his wife, Jessica Stinson Moore, 2017.

Other Herring descendants who attended ABAC include former ABAC Foundation Board member Gerald Herring Jr., who initiated the John L. Herring Endowed Scholarship at ABAC. His sons, Gerald N. Herring III, 1974, and James H. Herring, 1979, attended ABAC as did James H. Herring’s daughter, Sarah Herring, 2013.
TY TY STUDENT RECEIVES ABAC BUSINESS LEADERSHIP AWARD
Laura Agundis , a recent ABAC graduate from Ty Ty, has been selected for the Stafford School of Business Dean’s Leadership Award at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College .

“The qualities that Laura’s instructors ascribe to her are leadership, independence, and dedication,” said Dr. Renata Elad , dean of the Stafford School of Business . “She is truly a go-getter, and we expect her to go places.”

Elad said the award is presented to outstanding ABAC graduates who distinguish themselves through leadership and service to the school. 

Currently the controller at Berry Brothers Farm in Nicholls , Agundis graduated May 7 with a bachelor of science degree in business. While at ABAC, she served as a community assistant in the residence halls and as a recruiter for the College Assistance Migrant Program.
SCIENTIFIC SOCIETY HONORS UGA TIFTON PROFESSOR WITH FELLOW DESIGNATION
A faculty member at the University of Georgia Tifton campus has been named a Fellow of the American Phytopathological Society (APS).

Albert K. Culbreath of the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) was recognized along with Harald Scherm , head of UGA's Department of Plant Pathology.

The society grants the honor to a current APS member in recognition of significant contributions in original research, teaching, administration, professional and public service, and/or extension and outreach.​

“Being named a Fellow is a scientific society’s greatest honor ,” said Sam Pardue , CAES dean and director. “We are proud of Drs. Culbreath and Scherm for this outstanding recognition.”

Culbreath  is a professor of plant pathology in Tifton. He is recognized as a leader in the ecology, epidemiology and control of thrips-vectored tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV), and of early and late leaf-spot diseases of peanut.

He is an author on more than 200 journal articles and book chapters, and co-developer of five TSWV-resistant peanut cultivars .
Gov. Brian Kemp gives his weekly briefing Tuesday surrounded by state law enforcement personnel.
KEMP 'OUTRAGED' AT VIOLENT PROTESTS
At his weekly briefing Tuesday on COVID-19 , Gov. Brian P. Kemp had harsh words for protesters who become violent .

“Let me be clear – I am outraged . Violence and destruction is unacceptable ,” Kemp said.

State law enforcement personnel and the Georgia National Guard will do “whatever is necessary to keep the peace,” the governor said in the wake of state protests following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis .

More than 300 arrests have been made in the Atlanta area since Friday when peaceful protests first became violent.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Toomey said the Department of Public Health (DPH) is addressing the possible spread of COVID-19 because of the protests.

“This situation is no different” than other events where people gather in close proximity, she said.

The DPH reported Tuesday that there have been a total of 48,207 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Georgia with 2,102 related deaths. In Tift County , there have been 270 cases of the virus and 18 deaths of Tift residents.
TIFTON GRAPEVINE'S PETS OF THE WEEK
This " sweet and affectionate" mama cat with five baby kittens are looking for rescue . T he Tift County Animal Shelter is seeking help for this family. V isit   the 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
TIFTON INSTITUTE HOLDS COMMENCEMENT
– JUNE 2, 1899
The Tifton Institute public school held its commencement on the evening of June 2, 1899, at the Bowen Opera House in Tifton, which was "crowded near to the point of suffocation," according to press reports. The principal, Professor W.L. Harmon, oversaw the ceremony, which included the awarding of two gold medals in Miss Belle Willingham 's elocution classes. Eva Lee Clyatt received the senior class medal, and Willingham Tift received the junior class medal.
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Frank Sayles Jr.
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