Friday, April 9, 2021
Tifton, Georgia
Click above to see Governor Kemp’s video message.
Tifton Grapevine
Georgia is open for business," Gov. Brian P. Kemp declared as many remaining state restrictions, imposed in response to COVID-19, have been loosened or eliminated.

The governor's executive order “loosening the remaining restrictions on our economy” took effect Thursday.

The ban on gatherings of 50 people or more has been eliminated as has any remaining shelter-in-place requirements. Other social distance requirements have been reduced, including the distance between parties at restaurants, bars, movie theaters, and gyms. The new order allows restaurant tables to be as close as 42 inches and theater seating to be within three feet.

But sanitation practices must be continued, such as restaurant staff still must wear masks when interacting with customers.

"Many small business owners in our state are still struggling under the impact COVID-19 has had on our economy, and we know hard-working Georgians cannot endure another year like the last,” Kemp said in a pre-recorded speech.

Although, he noted, "in the middle of a pandemic, Georgia has broken economic development records ... We’ve come a long way but we have not yet finished the race."

Kemp cited COVID-19 vaccinations and case numbers trending in the right direction among reasons for loosening restrictions.

“From now on our message is clear,” the governor said; “Georgia is open for business."
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Tifton Grapevine
In Tift County, 23 percent of the female adult population has received a COVID-19 vaccination compared to 17 percent of men, the Ga. Department of Public Health (DPH) reported Thursday.

A total of 14,723 Tift countians have been vaccinated as of Thursday, the DPH reported. Breaking down the vaccinations by race in Tift, 21 percent of the white population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 14 percent of the black population. Among the county’s Asian population, 23 percent has been vaccinated.

Tift County is currently showing six average daily cases of the coronavirus per 100,000 population, according to Emory University data.

During the past week, Tift has recorded five new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and a total of 14 in the past two weeks, according to the DPH.

Tift County's new cases translate to 34 per 100,000 population, the DPH said. The county’s positive testing rate during the two-week period is 5.4 percent.

Since the pandemic began, Tift has reported 3,401 confirmed cases with 95 deaths – one additional death in the past week.

On Thursday, Georgia reported 1,156 new cases with 59 additional deaths and 125 new hospitalizations. The state has had a total of 859,388 confirmed cases and 16,886 related deaths, the DPH said.
From Staff Reports
Former Tift County High Football Coach Ashley Anders has joined the powerhouse staff on the Colquitt County High team, which now includes six former head coaches, including ex-coaches from Valdosta and Thomasville.

Anders, who led the Blue Devils to two state quarterfinal appearances and compiled a 35-31 record in six seasons with TCHS, is the new co-defensive and special teams coordinator in Moultrie.

He resigned from Tift County in late November. In his new role, Anders will work with the Colquitt County Packers linebackers.

Anders joins former Valdosta High Coach Alan Rodemaker and former Thomas County Central Coach Bill Shaver as assistants on the Moultrie team. Other assistants who have been head coaches are Byron Slack, former head coach at Hillgrove; and Joe Thornton and Buck Hanson, who both have been head coaches in Alabama.

Justin Rogers is head coach of the Colquitt Packers.
Downtown Tifton's "Spring Fling" is this Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., a day filled with food, live music, and special shopping deals throughout downtown.

Scheduled live music at the Tifton Gardens stage is Garrett Newell from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and the Page Brothers Band from 2-4 p.m.

The Tift Theatre for the Performing Arts will have two showings of the "Trolls World Tour," at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., with a meet and greet for the kids with the Trolls' Poppy and Branch. Tickets are $5, and concessions will be available.

Spring Fling is sponsored by Tifton Main Street and the Tifton Merchants Association.
From Staff Reports
Dr. George Vellidis, a professor on the University of Georgia Tifton campus, has received a Distinguished Alumnus Award from the agricultural and biological engineering department at the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS).

Vellidis is a professor in the UGA Department of Crop and Soil Sciences and is academic programs director on the Tifton campus.

The UF/IFAS agricultural and biological engineering department honors alumni and friends who further enhance the discipline and industry. Recipients have excelled in their chosen field or have performed outstanding service for the profession.

At UGA, Vellidis applies principles of engineering and the sciences to measure, model, and manage the interaction between agricultural production systems and the environment. He has developed two areas of focus – precision agriculture and water resources.

He has received more than $20 million in research funding, received one patent, licensed two technologies, and published more than 130 journal articles and book chapters, and more than 150 conference papers.

Vellidis received UGA's D.W. Brooks Award for Excellence in Research in 2015 and the International Society for Precision Agriculture’s Pierre C. Robert Precision Agriculture Award in 2016. He was named a university professor in 2020, a title bestowed on UGA faculty who have had a significant impact on the university in addition to their normal academic responsibilities, and was elected to the university’s Teaching Academy this year.
At the establishment of the AGR Endowed Scholarship at ABAC are, from left, AGR alumnus and advisor Christopher Earls, Paul Willis, Shari Willis, and AGR Alumni President Mitchel Sheffield.
Source: Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College
Alumni of the Alpha Gamma Rho (AGR) fraternity are creating a new endowed scholarship at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, and the former advisor to the organization and his wife are leading the charge.

Paul Willis, former executive vice president for finance and administration, served as the inaugural advisor when AGR was established at ABAC. Willis retired Jan. 29, and now he and his wife, Shari, are providing a portion of the initial funding for the scholarship.

“Shari and I are pleased to support this effort to create an endowment for the Gamma Delta Chapter of Alpha Gamma Rho at ABAC,” Willis said. “This endowment will ensure that funds are available to help develop future members and recognize their accomplishments, academically and otherwise."

Dr. Deidre Martin, ABAC chief development officer, said that “endowments are an excellent way to invest in a legacy for years to come.”
From Staff Reports
Charleston L. Carter, former Circuit Court administrator for the Tifton Judicial Circuit, has been named deputy director for the Superior Courts of Washington, D.C.

Carter, an Adel native, is a decorated court professional with more than 26 years of legal and court administration experience.

Before joining the D.C. courts, he served as trial court administrator for the Superior Court of North Carolina’s 26th Judicial District in Charlotte. N.C. In addition to his Tifton position, Carter has also served as trial court administrator for Athens-Clarke County and Superior Court program administrator/director of case management for Fulton County in Georgia.

He serves as a board director and chair of the Communications Committee for the National Association for Court Management, which has awarded him the Lady Justice pin for outstanding leadership and dedication to the association.

Carter is also a part-time adjunct professor at Valdosta State University and UNC Charlotte in the departments of Africana studies and serves on the leadership team of Race Matters for Juvenile Justice, and is a board member of the Institute for Social Capital.

"You have been instrumental in the implementation of programs that were effective and saved the court systems money in Georgia and North Carolina. Through your negotiating skills, crisis intervention experience, dedication, and community involvement, you have been elevated to this new position," wrote Congresswoman Alma S. Adams, D-N.C.

"I want to thank you for leading by example for current and future leaders who are watching you as one of the brightest shining stars in the court system, not just in the Greater Charlotte area, but across the country."
From Staff Reports
The Wiregrass Farmers Market marks a decade as it opens its spring season from 9 a.m.-noon Saturday at the Ga. Museum of Agriculture in Tifton.

This week's vendors will offer fresh produce, local honey, meat, eggs, jams, jellies, baked goods, fresh-cut flowers and more, market officials say.

The Wiregrass Farmers Market was founded in 2011 and is a community-based “producer’s market,” with the expectation that vendors produce the majority of items they sell. 

The market connects farmers and their products directly to customers. A variety of constantly changing products at the market is aligned to South Georgia's growing season.

Also, local artisans often display and sell their crafts at the market, which operates on Saturdays in the spring and fall.
Shamiyah Williams of Tifton, a student at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, rides the “bull” Thursday at ABAC during this year's “Staycation" Homecoming celebration. Williams said her ride was “the most fun I’ve had in a while. I love my ABAC family!"
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TO THE EDITOR: Two summers ago, 10 young people from Brookfield Mews Apartments got the opportunity of a lifetime. They had the privilege of experiencing a first-class, summer camp for free. How was that possible? Because men and women across Georgia provided scholarships for this to happen.

There are millions of young people in the U.S. who grow up below the national poverty line in at-risk communities. Georgia is home to almost 700,000 youth in this category. At Camp Grace they scholarship 100% of their campers, and they need our help to reach their goal of 7,000 youth every summer.

It has been stated the heart of the problem is the problem of the heart. Camp Grace believes long lasting change must begin with a change in the heart. The answer is to change their hearts through the transforming truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the primary focus of Camp Grace.

The mission of Camp Grace is to transform the lives of urban under-served youth through grace with overnight camps. They have found that getting our youth out of the city environment for extended overnight stays and showing them unconditional love and speaking hope into their lives has and is transforming. They know from experience that what they are doing is starting to break the cycle of poverty, crime, teen pregnancy and the high school dropout rate.

We would like to personally invite you to lunch hosted by Camp Grace at 11:45 a.m. April 20, at the FBC Ministry Center. We will honor your time, so you might hear what God is doing and how you can personally invest in the lives of youth in our area and around Georgia. Please RSVP to If you are unable to attend, please go to for information on how you can sponsor a child.
Dr. Joseph M. Turner
Dr. Gary S. Baxter
Chaplain Craig Nalls
The Rev. John D. Hughes Jr.
“Gizmo" is ready for a new home. Your next pet can be adopted at the Tift County Animal Shelter, located on Highway 125 S. The shelter is open to the public for adoptions from 1-6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. For more information, call 229-382-PETS (7387).
Pets of the Week are sponsored by:
Branch’s Veterinary Clinic
205 Belmont Ave., Tifton, 229-382-6055  
Frances Skinner Mathis, 98, Tifton
Dianne Gorsuch, 63, Stockbridge
Robert L. Boatenreiter, 68, Fitzgerald

Kenneth W. Sirmons, 67, Tifton

George Kenneth Parrish, 85, Tifton

David Ty “TeeTee” Owens, 21, Tifton
Charlene Miller Gaddy, 75, Leesburg
Theopolis Bryant, Tifton
Brenda Soles Griffin, 61, Fitzgerald
Jerome Williams, 71, Jacksonville, Fla.

Charlotte Michelle Angle, 23, Enigma
Derrick "DB," "Uncle Pig" Baker Jr., 34, Tifton
Mary Hunter, 90, Sylvester
Michael Martin Sellers, 50,
Panama City Beach, Fla.

Hortense Ireland Burdett, 99, Ashburn

Rose Marie Nugent Spurlock, 61, Ocilla
Milton James Starnes, 77, Ocilla

Betty Jean Hawkins, 80, Nashville
Christina Anne “Chrisie” Osborne, 50, Nashville
Felicitas Hernandez, 60, Tifton
Elnita Adkison, 78, Ocilla
Mary Joyce White Whitacre, 88, Sylvester
Tifton Grapevine
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Frank Sayles Jr.
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Bonnie Sayles
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