Friday, Feb. 21, 2020
Tifton, Georgia
Former Tift County Sheriff Gary Vowell has been appointed the interim commissioner of the Ga. Department of Public Safety .

Vowell will take over for Col. Mark McDonough , who resigned last week at the governor's request following a cheating scandal that rocked the agency which oversees the Georgia State Patrol (GSP).

Last month, an entire graduating class of the State Patrol's Trooper School was fired or resigned over accusations of cheating on an online exam .

The state Board of Public Safety voted unanimously Wednesday to approve Vowell as the interim commissioner . Gov. Brian Kemp applauded the decision, citing Vowell’s lifelong career in law enforcement and “ dedication to integrity and public service .”

Gary Vowell is a respected and trusted leader within Georgia’s law enforcement community, and he is a strong public servant who is ready to take the helm at the Department of Public Safety,” Kemp said.

Vowell said he was " honored to receive the governor’s call to serve as interim commissioner ... My entire career has been devoted to keeping Georgia families safe and upholding the highest ideals of integrity in our law enforcement community."

Vowell , who takes office March 1 , is a Georgia native who lives in Irwin County . He began his law enforcement career in Americus as a GSP communications officer in 1976 . He graduated as a member of the 51st Trooper School and was assigned to Post 13 in Tifton .

He was later promoted to serve as a field training officer and was awarded numerous citations for drug interdiction by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the GSP , and is a former drug interdiction instructor for the Michigan State Police .

In 1991 , Vowell was promoted to the GSP Safety Education Division , later becoming a certified Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) instructor for alcohol and drug awareness programs. In 1996 , he was elected Tift County Sheriff and held the office until 2012 .
Tifton City Council has placed a 120-day moratorium on new thrift stores locating in Downtown Tifton .

At its meeting Monday , Council enacted the moratorium at the request of the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), which has been discussing the matter for several months.

While the temporary ban on new thrift shops is in place, the city will study the issue regarding the number of such stores currently operating , how they fit into downtown's overall plans , what constitutes a thrift store vs. an antique store , and any issues with thrift stores involving sidewalk sales , the off-loading of items blocking alleyways, etc.

In recent years, there have been a plethora of thrift shops opening in the downtown area, which has been a topic of discussion in DDA meetings.

It's all about the culture, Tift County Schools Superintendent Adam Hathaway told the Tifton-Tift County Chamber of Commerce on Thursday.

"We promote a learning culture," he said. "Everybody in the organization is learning. Questions are key. "

Hathaway said it's important "to be a curious organization" and to "always know that the future is going to be better than the past."

He noted that the school system is in the midst of developing its strategic plan and ticked off some of his goals, including having every child reading on grade level by third grade and having all seniors graduate on time.

Hathaway also said that school safety is a priority and touted the school system's College and Career Academy, which is preparing students for entering the workforce.
Coca-Cola Bottling Co. United , which recently broke ground on a $60 million sales and distribution center in Tifton , has just celebrated the grand opening of its $86 million sales center in Union City . The 456,000 square-foot-facility represents one of the largest investments in a sales center in the U.S. Coca-Cola system . The facility serves metro Atlanta and surrounding counties . In the past five years, Coca-Cola United has invested more than $145 million in Georgia . ... DANCING THE NIGHT AWAY: The local SELF group ( Seniors Enjoying Life Forever ) holds its monthly dance tonight ( Friday, Feb. 21 ) at Tifton's Leroy Rogers Senior Center . Doors open at 6 p.m. ; bring your favorite dish to share for a meal at 7 p.m. ; and the Fred Hand Band plays dance favorites at 8 p.m. .... MILITARY FRIENDLY: Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College has been named a Bronze-Level Military Friendly School by Victory Media . To qualify for the award, Victory Media looks at academic policies and compliance, admissions and orientation , culture and commitment , financial aid and assistance , graduation and career , and military student support and retention .
Chris Beckham , vice president of the Tifton-Tift County Chamber of Commerce, spoke Wednesday to the Tifton Rotary Club on “High School Football and Life.”

Among the life lessons learned from football are how to compete , how to be disciplined , how to lead and follow , the value of practice , how to sacrifice and finish what you start , and how to be selfless .
Beckham is host of the Chick-fil-A Football Friday Night Radio Show , a six-hour radio program out of Valdosta that has aired every Friday night during football season for the past 17 years, come August.

“That’s 236 straight shows,” he said. As far as he knows, it’s the only football show in the country that broadcasts six hours every Friday night during the season .

Beckham addressed academics vs. athletics : “I’ve never understood why some people say one suffers because of the other. To me, it makes perfect sense they would go together . You can be a strong academic school and have a good football or basketball team .” 

In fact, athletics seems to enhance academics , he said. Beckham cited a North Carolina study which involved 300,000 high school students during a three-year period. It showed that the grade point average of athletes is 2.84 vs. 2.66 for non-athletes.

On average, he said, athletes have better school attendance – “That’s the carrot the coach puts out there: If you don’t attend school , you don’t get to play .” Also, he said, athletes have fewer discipline referrals , lower dropout rates and higher graduation rates. He conceded that these trends would apply to any students involved in extracurricular activities.
High School football also provides structure . “Kids want to be in an environment where they know what they need to do to succeed . Many of the players come from chaotic lives,” Beckham said.

Another facet of high school football is community unity .

“A high school football stadium on Friday night is one of the only places you see old and young, black and white, believers and nonbelievers, Republicans and Democrats – everybody  is there for one common purpose .”
The Tift County Board of Commissioners , in partnership with the National Association of Counties and the National Flag Foundation , has installed a flag retirement box , at no cost to the county, in the lobby at the Charles Kent Administration Building , 225 Tift Ave. North, in Tifton.

Worn-out flags should be folded respectfully before being placed in the box.

“This drop-off provides convenience while respecting our national symbol ,” said County Commission Chairman Grady Thompson . “The Tift County Board of Commissioners are unified in helping enable our citizens to respect our great nation while disposing of old or worn-out flags .”

According to the U.S. Flag Code , “the flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem of display, should be destroyed in a dignified way , preferably by burning .” 

American Legion members will be responsible for the proper disposal of the worn flags.
Visit the Tift County Animal Shelter, 1-6 p.m., Mondays-Fridays, 
at 278 Ga. Highway 125 South in Tifton.
South Georgia Banking Co. (SGBC) is accepting applications for the 2020 Julian & Jan Hester Memorial Scholarship. 

Sponsored by the Community Bankers Association (CBA), the scholarship program awards $1,000 annually to four high school seniors who plan to attend a Georgia institution of higher learning beginning in the fall semester after they graduate .

The applicant selected by SGBC as the local winner will be awarded a $500 scholarship before moving on to the CBA selection process .

The goal of The Julian & Jan Hester Memorial Scholarship  is to  assist deserving  high school seniors in their first year of college and to promote community banking

For details about the scholarship, Click Here! Applications must be returned to the nearest South Georgia Banking Co. branch or mailed to SGBC, P.O. Box 1505, Tifton, Ga., 31793 , to be received before Friday April 3 .


  • Coastal Plain CASA Volunteer Appreciation & Recruitment Dinner, 6 p.m., Springhill Country Club, Tifton
  • ABAC Horseman's Barrel Race, 8 p.m., ABAC Rodeo Arena


  • Kids at Art, 9 a.m.-Noon, Museum of Arts & Heritage, Tifton
  • Itsy Bitsy Bookmaking Workshop, 10:30 a.m., Plough Gallery, Tifton
  • History After Dark: Open Hearth Cooking, 2:30 p.m., Ga. Museum of Agriculture & Historic Village, Tifton
  • TRMC Hearts & Diamonds Gala, 7 p.m., UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center, Tifton
FEB. 12
Willie F. Moore, 82, Tifton
Bettye Rose Rigdon, 78, Nashville
Laura Leigh Griner, 46, Thomasville
Jewell Evans Hasty, 88, Macon

FEB. 14
Carolyn Hudgins Clements, 88, Tifton
Gladys Bertha Lowe, 85, Alapaha
Joyce Minshew Bishop, 90, Fitzgerald
Joseph A. Olson Jr., 75, Albany

FEB. 15
Ethel Griffin, 77, Ocilla
John Thomas Wiggins, 83, Ocilla
Eugene Pilcher, 86, Sparks
Iris Carolyn Naylor, 86, Dixie
Jason Daniel "Red Bird" Simpson, 39, Lake Park
Ella Ruth Herrin, 86, Quitman

FEB. 16
Don Gandy, 60, Sparks
John Land "Lanny" Weaver Jr., 75, Donalsonville
Melvin Levi Boles, 95, Valdosta  

FEB. 18
Dr. Sharad Chintaman Phatak, 87, Tifton

FEB. 19
Norma Jacquelin “Jackie” Pearce Jones, 87, Tifton
Sara Davis Majeski, 88, Tifton
James "Jim" McCoy Barber, 94, Tifton
Haylon Evan Foster, 4, Adel
FEB. 20
David “Shorty” Varnedore,Sr., 70, Fitzgerald
Tifton Grapevine
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Frank Sayles Jr.
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Bonnie Sayles
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