Friday, Aug. 14, 2020
Tifton, Georgia
GrapeNew
COUNTY APPROVES REZONING FOR DEVELOPMENT
CLEARS WAY FOR 77 SINGLE/MULTIFAMILY HOUSING UNITS
The Tift County Commission this week approved a controversial rezoning request that will allow construction of 77 single-family and multifamily housing units on Rainwater Road.

The planned housing development is on 6.865 acres at 2819 Rainwater Road. Some residents near the property are concerned about possible adverse effects of the proposed development on traffic, property values and green space, among other concerns.

A petition signed by more than 150 residents opposed Timberstone Investments' rezoning request. The petition read that the “urban planned development” by developer Chris Brooks would “destroy wetlands, woods and orchards,” and “replace them with 77 housing units and at least 154 parking spots."

Commissioners voted 5-1 Monday night to rezone the property from medium-density residential to multi-family residential, thereby allowing the development to proceed. Voting in favor were Chairman Grady Thompson and Commissioners Stan Stalnaker, Greg Wood, Donnie Hester and Paul Webb. Commissioner Melissa Hughes voted against the rezoning; Commissioner Fred “Buck" Rigdon was absent.
The former grass parking lots are being paved at the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center, a project that had been proposed for several years.
NO MORE GRASS PARKING LOTS AT UGA TIFTON CENTER
By FRANK SAYLES JR.
Tifton Grapevine
The grass parking lots at the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center have finally been paved, and the nearly $2 million project is nearing completion.

The renovation of the former grass lots to the north and west of the Conference Center includes curbs and gutters, landscaping, updated lighting, and asphalt paving that adds 350 prime parking spaces for the center on the University of Georgia Tifton Campus.

The $1,965,000 project is scheduled to be completed by fall.
 
Tifton Campus Assistant Dean Michael Toews characterized the project as “first-rate craftsmanship for the premier conference venue in South Georgia.” Toews said the campus is "extremely grateful to Rep. Penny Houston for championing the project.” 
 
State Rep. Houston, R-Nashville, whose district includes much of Tifton, told the Tifton Grapevine that she has been "concerned about the parking lot as a safety hazard. Working with the University of Georgia, we located funds for this project. This will not only provide safety for visitors, it will also be an economic asset for the Conference Center and South Georgia."

Houston added that “this would not have been accomplished without the help of Rep. Sam Watson (R-Moultrie) and Rep. Clay Pirkle (R-Ashburn)."

With nearly 100,000 square feet of conference area, including a 2,036-seat auditorium, the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center is a popular venue for national, regional, state and local conferences, continuing education, and trade shows that relate directly to the center's mission of supporting agricultural tourism, education, history and conferencing. 

In 2019, the conference center hosted 352 events and welcomed 62,000 visitors to Tifton. A recent study showed that the center’s impact on the local economy is $5 million annually.

Despite COVID-19 restrictions, the conference center is one of few places in the area large enough to accommodate socially distanced meetings and gatherings, UGA officials say.
CITY-COUNTY MEDIATION COULD BEGIN IN 60 DAYS
By FRANK SAYLES JR.
Tifton Grapevine
The City of Tifton expects court-directed mandatory mediation with Tift County to begin within 60 days, Mayor Julie B. Smith told the Rotary Club of Tifton on Wednesday.

“I’m somewhat limited about what I can talk about because we’re engaged in some legal activity, unfortunately,” Smith told Rotarians during their virtual, online membership meeting.

“We’re waiting on a mediation date, probably within 60 days."

In July, Tifton City Council filed a petition in Superior Court seeking "mandatory mediation" with Tift County for delivery of specified services.

City officials have said that the action "brings the parties back together” for negotiations, which fell apart after the city and the county could not agree on a joint service strategy required by the state.

“The county basically said it was not going to provide certain services to the city anymore,” Smith told the Rotary Club.

She said if the city had accepted a county proposal to continue some services – such as recreation, non-emergency calls and housing city inmates – “we would have to raise city tax by 5 mills; that’s a little outrageous,” the mayor said.

She noted that the county said it would offset the city’s tax hike by lowering county tax rates for city residents, but Smith said that the net result still “could drive everything out to the county."

With the city-county impasse in the courts, the “only people winning are the attorneys,” Smith said.

“We’re succeeding in so many ways, almost in spite of ourselves,” the mayor said, citing the Coca-Cola distribution plant under construction as an example. “Just think if we were all on the same page, all pulling together the same way."
GA NATIONAL FAIR CANCELED
BUT LIVESTOCK SHOWS WILL BE HELD
The Georgia National Fair in Perry, scheduled Oct. 8-18, has been canceled for the first time in its 30-year history.

"This difficult decision was driven by the impact of COVID-19 and the desire to do what was best for staff, volunteers, fairgoers and all vested parties," fair officials said in a press release.

The youth livestock shows – FFA and 4H livestock exhibitions – will continue with a modified schedule, with the events private to exhibitors and their immediate family members only. The livestock shows schedule and guidelines will be available within the next few weeks. Registration for the livestock shows will remain open online until Sept. 1 online at www.georgianationalfair.com

“We have looked at every factor that plays a part in what makes the Georgia National Fair great. From the rides, vendors, concessionaires, live entertainment and concerts, it is nearly impossible to make our event safe for all members involved due to the recent COVID outbreak," said Chairman Foster Rhodes.
SRTC FOUNDATION AWARDS OVER $58,000 IN SCHOLARSHIPS
For the fall semester beginning Aug. 18, the Southern Regional Technical College Foundation awarded scholarships to 66 students totaling more than $58,000.

The funds assist students with education-related costs such as tuition, fees, books, classroom and lab supplies. Since the pandemic, students have also been permitted to use their funds on technology costs associated with remote learning. 

Area students receiving scholarships include Kathleen Whiddon of Ashburn, Emily Boyd of Nashville, Hannah Watts of Norman Park, Tiffany Bennett of Omega, Laura Hill of Sylvester, Anastaisia Davis, Laura Herrera, Kimjuana Ivey, Tiffany Jones, Taylor Jordan, Savannah Maton, Reagan Pate, Kayla Powers, and Kalonty Walker of Tifton.
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TIFTON GRAPEVINE'S PET OF THE WEEK
This dog is currently on stray hold at the Tift County Animal Shelter. If not reclaimed, he will be available for adoption or rescue at the shelter, located at 278 Georgia Highway 125 S., in Tifton. 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  
LOCAL COVID-19 UPDATE
GA REPORTS 2,674 NEW CASES, 83 MORE DEATHS
Georgia reported 2,674 additional COVID-19 cases Thursday and 83 additional deaths in the state. Hospitalizations in Georgia increased by 202 in 24 hours, according to the Ga. Department of Public Health (DPH).

The Peach State now has a total 228,668 positive cases of the virus and 4,538 total deaths.

As of Thursday in Tift County, there have been 1,380 total positive cases and 44 deaths of Tift residents with 181 hospitalizations. In the past two weeks, Tift has reported 164 new positive cases, the DPH said.

In its most recent report, Southwell reported that Tift Regional Medical Center has 26 Covid-positive in-patients.
CORONAVIRUS CLEARINGHOUSE
Important Phone Numbers & Web Sites
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AUG. 6
Joey Martin Hall, 69, Tifton
Clarie Myers Whitfield, 82, Sylvester
Felicia Bayard Barber, 60,
Fitzgerald
Daniel William “Frank” Maloy Jr., 93, Tifton
Linda Ann Reinhardt Parrish, 73, Ashburn

AUG. 7
Larry Arnold, 78, Lenox
Francine S. Fullwood, 69, Tifton
Algy Eugene Rowe, 84, Nashville
W.L. James, 76, Rochelle

AUG. 8
Shawn Timothy Lilly, 36, Omega
Sonja Giddens Baker, 65, Tifton
Tilda Sue Cornelius Lasseter, 71, Nashville
Jean Owens, 85, Enigma
Christopher Paul Hancock, 36, Fitzgerald
Keith L. Lott Sr., 63, Fitzgerald

AUG. 9
Samuel Benner Dawson, 81,Tifton
Donna May Hatcher, 53, Tifton
Bettye Anne Lee Walker, 87, Tifton
Lois Ella Cumbus, 86, Ray City
Roy Donald "Don" Whaley Jr., 79, Nashville
Pamela K. Kight, 71, Fitzgerald
Steve Coan, 63, Fitzgerald

AUG. 10
Sherrie Scarberry Justice, 57, Tifton
Guina “Gwen” Flancher Kirkland, 92, Eldorado
Melvin Smith, 71, Fitzgerald
Keith Nutt, 68, Irwin County
Jack Walker, 69, Fitzgerald
William “Bill” Paulk, 88, Fitzgerald

AUG. 11
Anna Margaret Hickey Scarborough, 75, Tifton
Boyd Meeler, 74, Nashville
Shirley Jean Clark, 80, Wilcox County
Gail Waddell Robinson, 83, Adel 
Leroy Mayes, Ashburn

AUG. 12
Floretta Maude Brewer, 91,
Tifton
Russell Caunell "Caudy" Potts, 89, Doerun
Valera Parrish Clements, 93,
Adel
Rebecca Lynn Reynolds, 39, Fitzgerald
Diane H. Wright,
Sylvester
James R. Hilton, 67,
Moultrie

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