Friday, Jan. 3, 2020
Tifton, Georgia
GrapeNew
Fitzgerald is known for its wild chickens roaming the town's streets and byways.
FITZGERALD HOPES TO HAVE SOMETHING TO CLUCK ABOUT
BEN HILL COUNTY TOWN CONSTRUCTING
WORLD'S LARGEST TOPIARY CHICKEN
Fitzgerald is known for its wild chickens , and if its mayor has his way the Ben Hill County town will also be known for the world’s tallest topiary sculpture – a 62-foot chicken .

"Some people think it's the greatest idea in the world, and some people think I've lost my mind ," Fitzgerald Mayor Jim Puckett recently told a Macon television station.

Puckett said folks come to Fitzgerald expecting to see chickens so why not capitalize on that to bring in more tourism? The giant chicken topiary will have a steel frame stuffed with plants . There are also plans for it to house a bed-and-breakfast and an observation deck .

The structure is expected to have 16 tons of steel and a $150,000 price tag. Puckett said the money is coming from Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) funds earmarked for tourism .

Initially , the town planned to build a 58-foot-tall chicken – two feet taller than the non-topiary chicken structure in Marietta . But when Puckett heard that the world’s tallest topiary is 59 feet tall in Dubai , he decided go bigger and put all his eggs in one basket , so to speak.

Wild Burmese chickens have roamed Fitzgerald’s streets since the state stocked a nearby forest with South Asian wild fowl to promote game hunting during the 1960s. They now can be found strutting along the town’s streets and alleys.

Since announcing his fowl plans , the mayor said he has gotten calls from news media all over the world . The Wall Street Journal recently wrote a front-page article about Fitzgerald’s big chicken plans, and other media have come calling, including the Washington (D.C.) Examiner.

"We are doing this to draw people to Fitzgerald , and it's not even built yet and it's doing its job, " Puckett recently said.

Construction has begun with hopes of completing the project within a year . Folks can follow the progress live on YouTube through the Fitzgerald Live Chicken Cam . To view the construction, Click Here!
MEALS ON WHEELS
BIG WINNER AT YMCA's 'POLAR BEAR PLUNGE'

The Tiftarea YMCA's Seventh Annual Polar Bear Plunge raised $14,543 for local nonprofits .

Dr. Bret Wagenhorst raised the most contributions and plunged into the YMCA's pool on New Year's Day on behalf of Meals on Wheels .

Wagenhorst is at center in the photo presenting a check to Jimmy Dill with Meals on Wheels . At left in the photo is Jason Bishoff with the Tiftarea YMCA.

Ten  participants  competed  to  raise money  for their respective  local charity . Since Wagenhorst raised the  most money  for his nonprofit , Meals on Wheels received  100 percent of Wagenhorst's efforts.

All other  charities represented received a  50  percent split with the Tiftarea YMCA . The Y said it was fitting that a local eye doctor won the "2020" Polar Bear Plunge.

This year's plunge was in memory of longtime YMCA staffer Rick Hawkins , who died last year .
FORMER TIFTONITE AUSTIN FRENCH CONTINUES TO MAKE WAVES WITH HIS CHRISTIAN-BASED MUSIC
Singer-songwriter Austin French , a Cordele native who spent three years as worship pastor at Tifton’s Journey Church , continues to attract worldwide recognition for his faith-based music.

Last Friday , Cross Rhythms , a Christian music organization in the United Kingdom , on its web site profiled French and noted that four of his recent songs are getting frequent airplay on Christian radio in the U.K.

French was a nominee for New Artist of The Year at the 2018 Christian music Dove Awards . He first came to prominence as the runner-up on the ABC-TV show “Rising Star” in 2014 . On the TV show, French got to share the stage with recording star Josh Groban .

French eventually moved from Tifton to Florida with frequent trips to Nashville, Tenn. He later got a record contract and his first single was released in 2017 and first album , “Wide Open,” in 2018 .

To read the Cross Rhythms profile, Click Here!
AVAILABLE AT THE TIFT COUNTY ANIMAL SHELTER
These two friendly dogs are on stray hold and will be available for adoption
or rescue if they remain unclaimed.
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Visit them at the Tift County Animal Shelter, 1-6 p.m., Mondays-Fridays, 
at 278 Ga. Highway 125 South in Tifton.
YOUR WEEKEND
...at a Glance

SATURDAY, JAN. 4

  • Wiregrass Kids: Feathered Friends, 1:30 p.m., Ga. Museum of Agriculture, Tifton
candle-flames-banner.jpg
DEC. 25
Christine Melton Kilcrease, 75, Sylvester
Berry A. Carter, 82, Lenox
Virginia Sapp, 88, Quitman
Lloyd Vaughn Cole, 65, Adel

DEC. 26
William “Fred” Turner, Sr., 82, Chula
Billy Smith, 81, Fitzgerald
Stephen Levis Barnes Sr., 62, Fitzgerald

DEC. 27
Reyes Pina Sr., 63, Tifton
Robbie Nell Sowell, 84, Nashville
J immy Franklin “Peanut” Howell Sr., 74, Fitzgerald
 
DEC. 28
Warren Eldridge Barfield, 95, Sylvester
Bobbie Ford, 90, Sylvester
Ann Bates, 77, Sylvester
Floria Huggins Nelms, 80, Poulan
Jerry Allen Harper, 63, Ray City
Walter Henry Blanks III, 79, Tifton
George L. Peterson, 72,
Sandra Sharon Hayes, 73, Quitman
Danny Wallace Jr., 53, Fitzgerald

DEC. 29
Katie Mae Baker, Ashburn
William Thomas Thornton Jr., 65, Ocilla

DEC. 30
Mary Jane Tipper, 76, Ty Ty
Halleigh Jay James, infant, Fitzgerald
Fred Clinton Andrews, 83, Jonesboro
Kalcho Gadevsky, 76, Fitzgerald

DEC. 31
Jerry Raydean Pitts, 88, Tifton
Gabriel Drake Yancey, infant, Fitzgerald
JAN. 1
Forrest E. "Chip" Aultman Jr., 66, Arkansas
Charles Goff, 67, Lenox
Lucille Hancock, 89, Nashville
Lois Louise Ray, 98, Nashville

JAN. 2
Jack Kenneth Moore, 88, Fitzgerald

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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