March 29, 2016
        Tifton, Georgia

   (478) 227-7126


Shortly after Gov. Nathan Deal on Monday announced his veto of the " religious  freedom bill," one of the bill's primary sponsors charged that the governor had "caved in to bullies."

"I respectfully disagree with Governor Deal's decision," state Sen. Greg Kirk, R-Americus, told the
Tifton Grapevine. Kirk represents Tift County in the General Assembly.

"The Free Exercise Protection Act was a deliberately drawn piece of legislation that did not discriminate against the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender communities) and protected the faith community," Kirk said. " In my opinion, he caved in to bullies."

Several large companies and organizations, including Coca-Cola, Apple, the NFL and Hollywood film studios, urged the veto. Some big companies threatened to boycott the state if the legislation became law.

Supporters said the bill protects those whose actions are rooted in religion and protects clergy who decline to perform gay marriages. Churches and religious groups, based upon their faith, could decline to serve or hire someone. Opponents said the bill was state-sanctioned discrimination.

" Some of those in the religious community who support this bill have resorted to insults that question
my moral convictions and my character," Deal said Monday. "Some within the business community who oppose this bill have resorted to threats of withdrawing jobs from our state. I do not respond well to insults or threats. The people of Georgia deserve a leader who will make sound judgments based on solid reasons that are not inflamed by emotion. That is what I intend to do."

In announcing his veto, the governor also said: " I do not think we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based community in Georgia. ... My decision regarding HB 757 is not just about protecting the faith-based community or providing a business-friendly climate for job growth in Georgia. This is about the character of our state and the character of its people."


The incident March 17 at Tift County Pre-K Center in which a 4-year-old special needs student was knocked down by a teacher has attracted worldwide media attention.
Stripling's arrest photo

From the New York Post and People Magazine to The Daily Mail in the U.K. and media outlets throughout Europe and Asia, the arrest of teacher Amelia Stripling of Tifton on a felony child cruelty charge has made headlines as well as lighting up social media.

Stripling, 71, was arrested on Friday, March 25, on a charge of felony second-degree cruelty to a child .

She turned herself in after a warrant was issued for her arrest. She was
VIDEO: Click image to see video
taken to the Tift County Jail and later released on $15,000 bail.

Her case will eventually go before a grand juryShe faces one to 10 years in prison if found guilty.

A Tift County schools' surveillance video shows Stripling walking up behind a  student  and knocking him down with her knee. She resigned the next day after 22 years of teaching. School officials said there are no previous complaints in Stripling's school personnel file.

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Prospective students may get a glimpse of college life on Saturday, April 2, during the special Homecoming edition of Stallion Day at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. Registration begins at 8 a.m. in Donaldson Dining Hall.

Visitors may take campus tours guided by the ABAC Ambassadors from 8-9 a.m. followed by a welcome session and overview of the day's events from 9-9:20 a.m. A variety of Student Conversation Corners will be in the Health Sciences building from 9:30-10:40 a.m.  

Visiting students will be able to choose sessions on topics that are geared to seniors and transfer students with "College 101: It's here, are you ready?" and a student information panel. Underclassmen may attend a different student information panel and "College 101: Preparing for the Future."  

There will also be a Family Conversation Corner at the same time in Howard Auditorium. Parents may ask questions about all phases of campus life.

From 10:45-11:50 a.m., visitors may attend the Stallion Marketplace in Gressette Gymnasium, offering prospective students a look at more than 50 programs of study. Campus t ours will be provided.

Prospective students should sign up for the Stallion Day event, 229-391-5004.

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At Northside Primary School, s tudents have been successful during "Breakfast Club" with the help of materials purchased through the Tift County Foundation for Educational Excellence's Julian Cannon Chair
Northside Primary Principal Kelly Pearson, from left,  Assistant Principal & grant recipient Leah Johnston, grant recipient Keily Parrish and foundation liaison Tracy Monk.
for Writing Skills Enhancement.

Teachers are offering students additional support by using the math and reading games, reading comprehension workbooks, writing workbooks, grammar workbooks and many other fun activity books purchased  through  a foundation incentive grant.

Breakfast Club has been expanded to help first, second and third graders. Relationships have formed throughout the year which have helped students become more confident in their lessons. Students are excited to begin every morning in Breakfast Club to work on fun academic activities.

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"Itty Bitty Quilties" will be the subject of a quilting class to be taught during the annual Wiregrass Quilters Guild Quilt Show on April 8-9.

Sue Turnquist, award-winning fabric artist from Tifton, will teach the class involving adventures in fusing and free motion quilting. For those who love tiny projects, the class promises to be unusually interesting. 

The class will be Friday, April 8, from 1-4 p.m. at the Georgia Museum of Agriculture. Cost is $25; participation is limited to 15 students.

The class is designed for beginners, but intermediate and advanced quilters are welcome. The provided supply kit will include parchment paper, Misty Fuse, batting and fabric scraps.

Contact Turnquist at for information.


The Tift County Special Olympics will be held 9 a.m.-noon Friday, April 1, at the E.B. Hamilton Recreation Complex.

Nearly 300 special athletes are expected to compete in the games this year. Trophies will be given to the participants, and a lunch will be served.

The rain date for the event is April 12.

South Carolina fiber artist Susan Lenz will be featured in an exhibit, "Last Words, Eternal Rest," beginning April 9 at the Gallery of the Georgia Museum of Agriculture at Abraham Baldwin
Agricultural College. 

The exhibit opens at 10 a.m. as a part of the museum's Folklife Festival, and guests will have an opportunity to interact with the artist from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Museum Curator and Assistant Director Polly Huff said that using a needle and thread, Lenz works to express the passage of time through generations. Grave rubbings on silk, vintage household linens, recycled material and surfaces of dense stitching investigate the concepts of remembrance, mortality and her desire to leave a lasting legacy. Her work explores the final words marking others people's lives. Her hopes are to communicate the preciousness of life even after death and to waken others to their own family's textile treasures.

Lenz won the 2011 Niche Award for decorative fibers and was a finalist in the 2013 competition. She works from her studio at Mouse House in the historic Elmwood Park neighborhood of downtown Columbia, S.C.

After the opening, Lenz will return to the museum May 3-4 to teach a workshop to local quilters and fiber enthusiasts. The workshop is nearly sold out; contact the Wiregrass Quilters Guild at 229-424-2669.
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