JUNE 5, 2018
Tifton, Georgia


Tifton Grapevine

The Georgia Supreme Court on Monday unanimously declined to review a state Court of Appeals decision dismissing former Tift County school teacher Kelly Tucker's civil suit against school officials

But in a  dissenting  opinion,  three justices   said  the  Tift County School System  may have  violated  Tucker's  First Amendment rights  when she was  suspended five days  without pay  for  criticizing  the  Black Lives Matter  movement on a  personal Facebook post  in early D ecember 2014.

"This is a case about just how far the First Amendment bends in allowing government to punish its employees for the viewpoints they communicate in their private lives," wrote Justice  
Nels Peterson, who was joined in the dissent
by Chief Justice P. Harris Hines and Justice Keith Blackwell. "I am doubtful that it allowed the punishment imposed here," Peterson wrote.

"I write separately to express my grave concerns that the school officials may well have violated Tucker's First Amendment rights," the justice said.

The high court declined to hear Tucker's appeal because it agreed that  school officials are entitled to "qualified immunity" and cannot be sued  for damages. 

"Naturally, we are disappointed," Tucker's attorney, Craig A. Webster of Tifton, told the Tifton Grapevine on Tuesday. But he noted that the "justices felt like the Tift County School Board had indeed violated Kelly's First Amendment rights."

The Tift County School System, in a  written statement to the Tifton Grapevine, said Tuesday"Superintendent Patrick Atwater and the board are pleased with the Georgia Supreme Court's decision to deny Mrs. Tucker's application for review of the Georgia Court of Appeals decision in favor of Mr. Atwater and former Board Chairperson Kim Rutland .

"Mrs. Tucker sued Mr. Atwater and Mrs. Rutland for money damages and other relief after she was suspended for five days for posting racially charged comments on a public Facebook forum. Because of her post, parents and citizens contacted the school system with concerns that Mrs. Tucker may not treat students fairly," the school system said.

"The Court of Appeals ruled in Mr. Atwater and Mrs. Rutland's favor, finding Mrs. Tucker's claims were barred by official immunity, and the Supreme Court agreed. Both courts found that Mr. Atwater and Mrs. Rutland did not violate any clearly established law. The Court of Appeals also noted the disruption the post caused in the school operations. Hopefully, this decision will bring this matter to a close," the school system said.

But Tucker's attorney  Webster said they are considering petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court in the case and have 90 days to make the decision. When contacted, Tucker would only say, "I am very much considering taking it to the United States Supreme Court ."

At the time Tucker was suspended in February 2015, she was a teacher at Eighth Street Middle School and had been employed with the Tift County School System for 25 years. She has since left and now teaches at Tiftarea Academy.

"She has tried to move on with her life and is very happy at Tiftarea," Webster said.

On Dec. 6, 2014, Tucker commented on a Facebook post about a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Ferguson, Mo., writing  "it's turned into a race matter," criticizing "thugs" who had beaten innocent people and suggesting the demonstrators "take the hood off your head and pull up your dang pants...."


Tammy Dill Corbin, 49, former principal of Charles Spencer Elementary School, was charged today (Tuesday) with using a school-issued  credit  card "to purchase personal items and pay personal  bills " t otaling  more than $1,500  while serving as principal, according to the Georgia Bureau of  Investigation (GBI).

Corbin was arrested for theft by taking (felony) and booked into the Tift County Jail, the GBI said.

Tifton Police on Feb. 28 requested that the GBI "investigate misappropriation of funds" at the elementary school, according to a GBI press release.

"An audit conducted by the Tift County School Board found suspicious purchases made on a credit card assigned to the elementary school," the GBI said.

The investigation uncovered that Corbin charged more than $1,500 for personal items between July 2017 and January 2018, the GBI said.

"Allegations of the mishandling of funds at Charles Spencer Elementary School were brought to the attention of the school system earlier this year. School officials immediately began an investigation," the Tift County School System said in a written statement Tuesday.

" Taxpayers trust us to responsibly handle all money, and we take that responsibility very seriously. We had already begun termination proceedings when Tammy Corbin resigned in March School officials have  cooperated with  law enforcement throughout this investigation and will continue to  cooperate until it is fully resolved,"  the  school system said.


The  Tift County Food Processing Center, or "Canning Plant," is now open for anyone who wishes to process food for personal use.

Located In the back of the Agriscience Building behind Tift County High School, the plant is open  Mondays through Thursdays 8 a.m.- 1 p.m., through  July 5.  It is open by appointment during other times of the year.

Agricultural education teachers with the Tift County School System are responsible for operating the canning plant, whose purpose is to provide instructional services in preparation, processing and preservation of food products for home use.

The only cost in fully canning produce is for metal quart cans and 15 cents per glass jar (glass jars are not provided by the facility). Can costs are subject to fluctuations Blanching for freezing costs $1 per blanching tray (more than 50 ears of corn or two bushels of peas per tray).

Foods that can be processed include okra, squash, cabbage, asparagus, peaches, carrots, corn, soup, pears, spaghetti sauce, boiled peanuts, berries, beans, tomatoes, apples, greens, potatoes, peas and dry products such as flour and sugar.

Anyone who wishes to process food for home use may use the facility. Services available include wet-pack canning, dry-pack canning, blanching, peeling, cooking, corn creaming and pea shelling.

The food processing center is provided through the cooperative efforts of the  Tift County Board of Education,   Tift County Agriculture Education Department and the  Georgia State Department of Education.

For  information, call 229-387-2475 or 229-387-2400.

Downtown Tifton

Two Tift County High freshmen have qualified to compete in the Future Business Leaders of America's (FBLA) National Leadership Conference later this month in Baltimore.

Liam Young and William Goodman are the first FBLA students from Tift County to compete at nationals. They will participate in the  Parliamentary Procedures competition.

Back in January, Young and Goodman were part of a Tift County team that won first place in FBLA Region 1, hosted at Southern Regional Technical College in Moultrie. The team then
Liam Young and William Goodman.
went on to compete in a combination event of objective testing and live performance. 

The objective testing happened several weeks before the live performance, which was part of the FBLA state conference in Atlanta. The Tift County four-person team, which also included Chrishawn Chappelle and Aubrey Gay, won second place in state competition for their live performance. 

"They received great feedback from the judges. They felt this group really had a grasp of how the event worked," says  Melissa Busbin, Tift Counthy High business teacher and FBLA adviser

The objective scores were then used to create what is known as a super team. Both Young and Goodman scored high enough to be invited to compete at nationals as part of a super team

"When they called the team from Tift County as the first-place region winner, I thought it was a mistake, but it wasn't," Busbin says. "After winning region, we started meeting after school every week to study and have practice role-play sessions."

Busbin says only seven teams are allowed to compete from the state.

 It was pretty suspenseful waiting to find out if they placed at state. Their event was the last one called during the state awards ceremony. I was in complete disbelief they placed second in the state and then even more shocked that Liam and William qualified for nationals," Busbin says.

"I feel really blessed to be a small part of their accomplishment and journey. I would like to help them be recognized for their accomplishment. These two, with eight other students, will represent Georgia in Baltimore June 29."


Ashley Homestore
 192 South Virginia Ave., Tifton
June 1


Two consecutive weeks of rainfall in Georgia stunted the growth of the state's peanut crop and created ideal conditions for diseases in vegetable fields, leaving farmers scrambling to decide what to do next.

Georgia's peanut and cotton acreage remains in flux because of the inclement weather. According to the Georgia Crop Progress and Condition Report, issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service, 73 percent of this year's peanut crop has been planted. Some of the crop will likely need to be replanted because of saturated field conditions.

University of Georgia Cooperative Extension peanut agronomist Scott Monfort said the steady rainfall stalled the growth of peanut plants across Georgia. Fields are waterlogged from the
Some of the peanut crop will likely need to be replanted because of saturated field conditions.
abnormal amount of rainfall, and the plants are not pulling any essential nutrients from the soil.

"I've been in quite a few fields where everything looks like it's several weeks behind. Peanuts that were planted a month ago look like they were planted a week ago. They're just not growing," Monfort said.

UGA Extension crop experts believe the upward swing of cotton prices that started at the beginning of this year may entice row crop farmers to switch some peanut acreage to cotton when farmers can get back into their fields and planting resumes.

Cotton cash prices are currently 88 cents per pound, the highest reported average since 2014, according to UGA Extension cotton economist Yangxuan Liu. While this is encouraging news for cotton producers, it presents a predicament for peanut growers, like Bill Brim, who haven't planted their entire crop.

"We've got to make a decision on whether we're going to continue to try to hold out and plant more peanuts or plant cotton. (Cotton) is close to breaking 90 cents, so it's looking better and better to plant cotton than it is (to plant) peanuts," said Brim, owner and CEO of Lewis Taylor Farms in Tifton. The company runs Quality Produce, a plasticulture and ground vegetable production operation that covers more than 6,500 acres.

Only 65 percent of Georgia's cotton acreage has been planted, according to the same Georgia crop progress report. UGA Extension cotton agronomist Jared Whitaker said that it's risky for Georgia farmers to plant cotton in June, but they do it every year.

"It's a good opportunity. We have cotton close to 90 cents to rely on. It's good, assuming we can get the crop in if it ever stops raining," Whitaker said.

Brim is already seeing disease and bacteria on some of his plants.

The rain has " devastated us; we just need for it to get out of here. If it doesn't, we're going to lose our whole crop," Brim said.


Audrey Luke-Morgan, lecturer of agribusiness, and Kip Hall, assistant professor of forestry, were selected as recipients of the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) Teaching Award of Merit for the 2017-18 academic year at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. 

"Being awarded the NACTA Teaching Award of Merit once is quite an honor, but to be therecipient for a second time is truly humbling," Hall said. "I am surrounded by such extraordinary professors in ag and natural resources."

Dr. Mark Kistler, dean of the School of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and department heads selected the two faculty members based on their performance during the school year. 

"I am humbled and honored to receive the NACTA Teaching Award of Merit," Luke-Morgan said. "I appreciate the confidence and support of fellow faculty and administration to nominate and select me for this honor."

NACTA is a professional society focusing on teaching and learning in agriculture and related disciplines at the postsecondary level. It provides ag professors a forum for discussion, seeks improvement of agricultural-related teaching and rewards instructional excellence.


Summer workouts have begun for the Tift County High football team.  Jayne Futch Gray, athletic department secretary at  Tift County Public Schools, explains it best in this post on Facebook:

"Most people don't realize how much has to happen before the season actually starts. Coaches have been  planning and organizing for months; coaches' wives are preparing themselves for the absence of their spouses; players have been conditioning themselves at home; parents have been making arrangements for their boys to make it to practice and back home, and tweaking grocery lists to make sure enough protein is being consumed by their bottomless, teenaged pits; vacations have been juggled; fields and facilities have been tended; equipment prepped; and now ... it's time

"We're more than a team; we're a family. And we're ready."

T ifton First Church of the Nazarene
3024 N. Tift Ave., Tifton

 Invites all to join us for a 
  Father's Day Rally
  June 17 at 10:30 a.m. 
 Come hear how God has transformed men's lives through music & testimonies!
 We will have dinner on the grounds following the service.


Literacy Volunteers of Tifton-Tift County is pre-selling smoked Boston Butts this month for the Fourth of July holiday for a donation of $25

Those wanting a 6- to 8-pound portion of smoked pork should request a ticket by calling 229-391-2527, emailing or talking to a board member

The pre-cooked, frozen butts may be picked up in the parking lot of First Presbyterian Church, 217 Park Ave. N., from 9 a.m.-noon Saturday, June 30, to be thawed for the Fourth of July
The fundraiser benefits adults in our community who are learning to read and preparing to take their GEDs, as well as those who are learning to speak, read and write English as a second language.

"Support from friends and local businesses keep us going," said Bonnie Sayles, executive director of Literacy Volunteers. "Donations enable us to recruit and train tutors, purchase materials and pay fees for students to take their GEDs when they are ready." 

Literacy Volunteers board members are: Victor Pires, president; Victoria Horst, vice president; Klinton Guess, treasurer; Jarrod Roberts, secretary; Melissa Burtle, adult education director for Southern Regional Technical College; Katrina Hall; Dr. John Hamm; Hannah Holmes Lovelace; Karen Hendrix; Shelia Pullins; and Kenneth Smith

Also, Literacy Volunteers is holding a tutor workshop at 5-7 p.m. Thursday, June 7, at Southern Regional Technical College, Tifton Campus, Building A board room. Current tutors and those interested in tutoring may attend. Call 229-391-2527 to register and for information. 


Secure Records Solutions
850-656-6900, 229-226-0414
June 1


Tifton's Locally Owned Electronic Newspaper!

It's Free!
e-published every Tuesday & Friday / to Advertise, call

645 Whatley Drive, Ashburn
MLS#  128222

This 1,500-square-foot brick home has 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, a paved drive, a shop and a fenced back yard.  


Editor & Publisher

A Service of Sayles Unlimited Marketing LLC