Tuesday, January 12, 2021
Tifton, Georgia
Tifton Grapevine
The Southwell health system on Wednesday will begin the distribution of drive-thru COVID-19 vaccinations to residents aged 65 and above and to other first responders and healthcare workers outside of Southwell.

The Georgia Department of Public Health's (DPH) South Health District had started vaccinating the expanded population on Monday. Gov. Brian P. Kemp last week expanded the vaccine Tier 1A level to include vaccinating all first responders and individuals 65 and older.

On Tuesday, the federal government recommended that states expand access to COVID-19 vaccines to everyone 65 and older, prompting faster distribution of the vaccines by making more people immediately eligible.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Tuesday that fewer than 9 million vaccinations have been administered from the more than 25 million vaccine doses delivered nationwide.

Both Southwell and the health department require advance registration for vaccination appointments, and they have already been inundated with thousands of requests. In Tift County alone, there are more than 6,500 residents older than 65.

Those who meet the eligibility criteria for the vaccination can register for an appointment with either Southwell or the health department.

To register at Southwell, Click Here, or call its drive-thru clinic’s request line at 229-353-2200, Monday - Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Or, to request an appointment with the health department, Click Here!

The vaccines will be given in two doses weeks apart.

“We are excited about the opportunity to begin providing COVID-19 vaccinations to public safety workers and vulnerable members of our community,” said Dr. Cameron Nixon, Southwell's chief transformation officer. “We know there is an interest in this in our community, and we are ready to meet this need.”

Nixon said the Southwell health system has had a "great experience" vaccinating its employees. "We know there is a lot of mistrust or skepticism out there about this, but this is completely safe.”

At the beginning of January, COVID-19 cases spiked dramatically in Tift County as a surge continues through Georgia. On Jan. 4, Tift experienced a record average daily case rate of 126.4 cases per 100,000 population, according to Emory University. As of Jan. 11, Tift County’s average daily rate has dropped to 90.1 cases.

During the past two weeks, Tift has recorded 218 new coronavirus cases, translating to 530 per 100,000 population, the DPH said. There have been a total of 3,078 cases in Tift County with 74 related deaths.

On Tuesday, the state of Georgia reported a one-day increase of 6,006 cases with 145 additional deaths and 435 new hospitalizations. Overall, Georgia has seen 648,694 cases and 10,444 deaths from COVID-19, the state said.
Tifton native Wesley McGriff has been hired as an assistant football coach at the University of Florida.

McGriff, 52, played cornerback, running back and wide receiver for the Tift County High School state championship team in 1983. He was inducted into the Tift County Athletic Hall of Fame in 2014 as part of the championship team, and again individually in 2017.

McGriff served as Auburn University’s secondary coach the past two seasons and also in 2016, spilt by a two-year stint as defensive coordinator at Ole Miss. He is a 30-year coaching veteran who has NFL and considerable Southeastern Conference experience. McGriff has also coached at Kentucky and Vanderbilt.

He spent four seasons each at Miami (2007-10) and at Baylor (2003-06), where he also served as recruiting coordinator. From 2013-15, McGriff was on staff with the NFL's New Orleans Saints, where he worked with the team's defensive backs.

"Coach McGriff brings a high level of familiarity in the National Football League and Southeastern Conference, being a coordinator and position coach," said Florida Head Coach Dan Mullen.

"His track record of preparing players for the NFL and his success coaching at every level speaks for itself. His energy and tireless effort in recruiting will be an asset to our defensive staff."

McGriff played at South Carolina State for one year before transferring to Savannah State, where he started at outside linebacker for three seasons and was named the conference's 1989 Male Academic Athlete of the Year.
He received his bachelor's degree in criminal justice, graduating cum laude, from Savannah State in 1990 and earned a master's in public administration from Georgia Southern in 1993. McGriff was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army in 1990 and was a member of the Army Reserves until 2001.
The City of Sylvester is holding a Community Prayer at noon Wednesday, Jan. 13, commemorating the life of City Councilman Larry Johnson, 62, who died Friday from COVID-19 complications.

The prayer will be at the city's train depot and will be followed by a take-out community luncheon. Masks and social distancing will be required.

"All of us with the City of Sylvester are deeply grieving, and we ask for prayers of healing for the family," the city wrote on social media.

"Councilman Johnson has been a very important part of our team since 1994. A kind, caring man who loved his community and did everything he could to make it better everyday. A true servant for the city he loved so very much. Through his years of service, he has touched so many people’s lives and blessed all of us by simply knowing him. You will be greatly missed Councilman Johnson."

Tifton’s Gold Star Memorial Marker was formally dedicated Saturday at Veterans Memorial Park in downtown Tifton.

It honors families whose loved ones died defending the nation in the armed forces

GFWC Tifton Woman’s Club, the Council of Garden Clubs of Tifton, the Tifton Downtown Development Authority and the Garden Club of Georgia Inc. sponsored the marker.

Pictured at the dedication are, from left, Barbara Bourque, state president of Garden Club of Georgia; Connie Ewing, president of the Council of Garden Clubs of Tifton; and Jan Thiese, the Garden Club of Georgia's Camellia District director.
Tifton lost one of its longtime community leaders Friday with the death of Butch Davis, 75, the retired president/CEO of First Community Bank of Tifton.

He had served on many community boards, including those at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, the Tiftarea YMCA, the Tifton-Tift County Chamber of Commerce, and most recently served as chairman of the board for the Tifton Branch of Colony Bank. Davis received the community's DeNean Stafford Distinguished Service Award in 1998.

A longtime friend, Tommy Bargeron, offers the following tribute:

A Tribute to Butch Davis

"I am honored to have known Butch Davis, and our friendship has always been a blessing to me. Butch and I have known each other since the early 1970s, and I have seen him as a banker, a competitor, a leader and a peacemaker. Butch was relentless in working to improve our community and always willing to support a worthy project.

"Early in his career, Butch observed the manner in which the financial leaders of our community came together and made difficult things possible by working together. I know he learned by watching the likes of John Henry Davis (his father), John Parkerson, Bill Conoly and John Blanton put their competitive spirit aside to make economic gains in Tifton.

"Butch was always working to make improvements to the economy and was often the catalyst and peacemaker to pull everyone together. Projects like the YMCA, Tifton Quality Peanuts, Forward Tifton, and countless industrial projects with the Development Authority happened more easily with Butch’s involvement and support. 

"As a competitor, Butch was a strong opponent and always approached everything with the highest degree of integrity and genuine concern for the customer. In the rare event that Butch may have lost a deal, he never showed anything but professionalism and would make comments like, 'I know you will do a good job with this customer.' I never saw Butch respond with anger or harsh feelings. Butch was always available if you needed a friend to bounce an idea around with, or someone to help find a solution to problems. It did not matter that you were competitors.

"Butch was always a supporter of all levels of sports in our community from recreation sports to ABAC programs. While he supported the teams and contributed to the big picture, his strong suit was focusing on individuals. He had the power to focus attention in such a powerful and loving way that his presence almost glowed. Everyone that he encountered recognized his concern and attention.

"At a particular difficult time in my life, during the savings and loan crisis, it was evident that the company I worked with would not survive and my future was uncertain. While some competitors were working to take advantage of our misfortune, Butch was the friend that reached out with concern and friendship that I certainly will never forget. 

"I will always cherish working with Butch at First Methodist as we served as greeters and ushers. Nobody on our team came close to his loving and truly marvelous way of greeting someone and making them feel loved and welcome. He was always genuinely concerned about each and every person he encountered. He was not just there; you always felt an overwhelming sense of his presence and concern for you.

"Our community has lost a great citizen, a true Southern gentleman, a devoted Christian, and a good friend. Butch made our community a better place; he helped his friends be better people, and his family will continue his legacy. I will remember him by the many candles he left burning, making our community a brighter place."

–Tommy Bargeron
Tifton, Ga.
"Cheeto," who is a male kitten aged eight to 10 weeks old, is available for adoption at the Tift County Animal Shelter. To adopt Cheeto or see other pets available,visit 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
– JAN. 10, 1916
New train service began on Jan. 10, 1916, between Tifton and Valdosta. The train, known as No. 7, leaves Tifton at 7 a.m. daily, arriving in Valdosta by 9 a.m. It leaves Valdosta at 5:15 p.m. and returns to Tifton at 6:40 p.m., according to press reports of the time.
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