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MARCH 31, 2017
Tifton, Georgia


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DISASTER DRILL EXCLUSION?
CITY OFFICIALS, SHERIFF TAKE TO SOCIAL MEDIA
ABOUT TIFT COUNTY'S HANDLING OF TUESDAY'S DRILL

By FRANK SAYLES JR.
Tifton Grapevine

Simmering issues between the City of Tifton and Tift County spilled onto social media this week as city officials and the Tift County sheriff publicly questioned why they were excluded from the county's recent disaster drill.

Both Mayor Julie B. Smith and Vice Mayor Wes Ehlers took to Facebook and said the city was notified just two hours before the major drill Tuesday, which involved Tift County emergency personnel, the National Guard and
WALB-TV photo
'Casualities' are airlifted during county's mock disaster drill.
the U.S. Air Force. The drill simulated tornado damage after a hurricane, along with a plane crash.

Smith and Ehlers took issue with comments that County Commission Chairman Grady Thompson made on Hayward Fowler's "Local Tifton Channel" during the drill.

"Why did the county get into the fire business and the rescue business? ... Before we got into it, we weren't prepared for nothing like this," Thompson told Fowler. "I wish the City of Tifton would join up with us and don't be an outcast."

Thompson said, "We invited the Tifton Fire Department to come and they didn't come."

In her Facebook post Thursday, Mayor Smith said,  "The City of Tifton, council, staff and management have tried
MAYOR SMITH
diligently to work with the county and County Commission on numerous occasions and numerous issues, including the Fire Department. Watch this video ... and hear what the Commission chairman says. The city was not invited to participate; we found out about the training two hours before. There is no way to activate three shifts, equipment, etc., in that time.
 
" Facebook isn't my chosen platform for this kind of information, but our citizens deserve transparency and cooperation in and between governments -- and you Tift County and Tifton residents are not receiving that," she wrote.

Ehlers posted on Facebook that "I hope the good people of Tifton and Tift County see the divisiveness this chairman spews ... in this video. This type of disruptive rhetoric is exactly what this community does not need. The City Fire or Police Department did not get a call to participate in this training until two hours before the training started. You can't mobilize that
SCARBROUGH
kind of manpower in that short period of a time. This is well documented. Enough is enough!"

Local television news media were notified about the drill 24 hours before it began.

Tift County Sheriff Gene Scarbrough also took to Facebook to wonder why his department was excluded from the disaster training.

"I'm a little perplexed as to why the Tift County Sheriff's Office was advised that there was no need for us to be at the drill. What about security and looting in the aftermath of a disaster? Can someone explain the reasoning behind all this? I would also like some public response as to why the chief law enforcement officer in the county would not be needed in a major disaster drill. Maybe I'm missing something," Scarbrough wrote.

Members of the National Guard used helicopters to airlift dummies during the simulation. The mayor said  she only found out about the drill when she saw the helicopters and then
THOMPSON
 made inquiries.

"This was a drill that we put together in the county; it was the county's training; we were not trying to slight anybody," Grady Thompson told the Tifton Grapevine on Thursday. "I knew about it an hour before it started. I asked if the city was involved, and they told me the city was invited."

Thompson said he "didn't think much about it. I didn't think it was a very big deal The city had some drills, some training that the county didn't go to, some extrication training. The city didn't invite us to that."

The county chairman also said he didn't know that the sheriff believed his office should have been involved in the drill.

Sheriff Scarbrough told the Tifton Grapevine on Thursday: "I cannot fathom why the Tift County Sheriff's Office would not be needed to be involved in any disaster drill, training, or whatever, when the safety and property of its citizens are at risk."
JASON JONES

When the Grapevine contacted Jason Jones, Tift County's public safety director on Thursday, he asked that all questions be submitted in writing. Jones, who coordinated the drill, later responded in writing, also sending his response to 45 other people around the county.

"Over the last 24 hours, there has been a tremendous amount of rhetoric espoused by individuals ignorant to the facts. Frankly, I am ashamed of the manner in which certain people have chosen to handle this situation," Jones wrote.

He said the exercise was a small part of "Vigilant Guard 2017" sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense and initially designed to be a "multi-day event in Tift County" that "would have required the involvement of many more public safety agencies, the hospital and various other emergency management partners."

However, Jones said, some "state and federal agencies chose to relocate to another venue," and the Tift County exercise became limited to a six-hour training event requiring fewer local resources.

"The City of Tifton was never formally notified about the exercise," Jones said, but was extended a chance to participate during a conversation about firefighting gear. "The scenario did not have an active law enforcement component," so other departments were not needed, he said.

Jones also said that he contacted Col. Larry Taylor, chief deputy of the Tift County Sheriff's Office, before the exercise and the "two of us agreed that due to the limited scope, the Sheriff's Office was not needed."  

"I did my job, and I sincerely and wholeheartedly stand behind every decision I made," Jones responded. "Rumorinnuendo and supposition are poor ways to operate."


JOE COURSON CHAIR
FORMALLY ENDOWED

The Joe Courson Media Chair has been formally endowed within the Tift County Foundation for Educational Excellence, Executive Director Mike Brumby announced Tuesday.
Courson
COURSON

A foundation chair requires at least $25,000 to be created. Leon Benefield and Carla Miles led the effort to endow the chair, which had 27 donors.

At Tuesday's education foundation meeting, board President Joe West presented Courson's widow, Jean Courson, with a foundation medallion and an honorary board member position in Joe Courson's honor.

Courson, who died four years ago, was a former Tifton Extension communications director for the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, a former community reporter for WALB-TV, a newspaper columnist and local volunteer

The Courson Media Chair is the foundation's 16th chair, which funds incentive grant projects in Tift County schools. There have been seven endowed chairs created within the past five years, and Brumby  encouraged foundation directors to keep the momentum going.


From left are Shane Golden, Carlos Gonzalez, Vincent Ramos-Rojo, Brandon Butler and Justin Sutton.

SRTC STUDENTS WIN TOP AWARDS
AT SkillsUSA CHAMPIONSHIP

Six members of the Southern Regional Technical College (SRTC) SkillsUSA club placed first, second or third in their respective categories during t he Georgia Postsecondary SkillsUSA Chapter championships in Atlanta this past week.              

Bringing home gold medals were Vincent Ramos-Rojo for architectural drafting technology and Justin Sutton for technical computer applications. Both represented SRTC's Tifton campus.

Silver medals were presented to Shane Golden (Moultrie campus) for firefighting, Carlos Gonzalez (Moultrie campus) for collision repair technology, and Brandon Butler (Tifton campus) for welding technology. Shannon Howard was awarded a bronze medal for her efforts in criminal justice technology.

As gold medal winners, Ramos-Rojo and Sutton will represent the college at the 53rd National Leadership and Skills Conference June 19-23 in Louisville, Ky.

"We are extremely proud of each student that competed in the SkillsUSA Georgia championships. The success of our students at this event is further confirmation that technical and career education remains vitally important not only to our community, but to the development of our state's workforce," said Dr. Craig Wentworth, SRTC president.

Additionally, Susan Musgrove will be traveling to the national conference to run for a position on the National Action Committee. She represented SkillsUSA Georgia Post-Secondary as vice president for the 2016-17 academic year. She has also held the office of local chapter president and vice-president. 

SkillsUSA is a national non-profit organization of students, teachers and industry leaders working together to ensure a skilled work force. SkillsUSA helps high school and college students enrolled in career and technical education programs to excel by teaching employability skills such as communication, problem solving and leadership in conjunction with their trade, technical and service occupations skills.

PEDALING FOR A PURPOSE
YMCA's TOUR de TIFTON ON SATURDAY

The Tiftarea YMCA's 8th Annual Tour de Tifton / Ilse Boyette Memorial Charity Bike Ride begins at 8 a.m. Saturday, April 1, at the YMCA Hunt Park Campus, 1823 Westover Road.

There is a beginner's 11-mile course, intermediate level 25 and 45 miles, and 62- and 100-mile century routes for advanced riders.
 
Event-day registrants are eligible for T-shirts while supplies last. Participants completing either of the century courses will receive a special gift. Lunch will be provided.
 
Proceeds will benefit Tiftarea YMCA programs and scholarships for underprivileged youth, and the book fund for the ABAC nursing students in memory of Ilse Boyette.
   
For information, call 229-391-9622 or e-mail  dpeavy@tiftareaymca.org

 

SNAKES ALIVE!

Dr. Vanessa Lane from the School of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College speaks to ABAC students on Tuesday in the Baldwin Library at the annual "Snakes in the Stacks" presentation. And yes, those are real snakes in the photo!


PERDUE NOMINATION ADVANCES

PERDUE
Former Gov. Sonny Perdue is closer to being confirmed as the U.S. secretary of agriculture; on Thursday his nomination was favorably reported out of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.

Perdue will now be considered for confirmation by the full Senate. The Senate Agriculture Committee held a hearing on the Perdue nomination last week and also reported favorably.

Perdue, who was the last Cabinet nominee by President Donald J. Trump, has the support of six former agriculture secretaries and 650 agriculture groups.



20th CENTURY LIBRARY CLUB RECEIVES
THREE DISTRICT AWARDS

At the March Southwest District meeting of the General Federation of Women's Clubs Georgia, the Tifton Twentieth Century Library Club received three district awards: "Most Outstanding Work" in the categories of Arts Community Service and Home Life Community Service, and Best Overall Club in the district. 

The Southwest District includes general and junior clubs in Albany, Cochran, Moultrie, Nashville, Sylvester, Tifton, Valdosta, Vienna and Warner Robins. 

In the photo, Jeanette Coody, center, of Azalea City Women's Club and the Southwest District Awards chairman, presents an award to Tifton club members, from left, Susan Saye, Genie McCook, Shirene Daniell and Debbie Thompson.


REDDICK STUDENTS COMPETE IN POULTRY JUDGING

Students in J.T. Reddick School's FFA program recently participated in the area poultry judging competition. The team, coached by high school senior and experienced poultry judger Nicole Taylor, includes Hayden Franklin, Jayce Richards, Eli Robinson, Emily Hogan and Alyssa Tyson. 

Tyson was the team's high scorer. The competition included several sections, such as grading egg quality, carcasses and cooked meat

The team placed seventh in the area, competing against students in sixth to ninth grades.


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From left is Dr. Craig Wentworth, SRTC president; Dr. Freida Hill-Harrell, former Southwest Georgia Technical College president; Bill Harrell; Tommy Hill, SRTC Foundation Board of Trustees chairman; and Amy Maison, vice president for institutional advancement and marketing.

FORMER TECH PRESIDENT
DONATES TO SRTC SCHOLARSHIPS

former Southwest Georgia Technical College president and her husband recently made the largest individual contribution in the history of the Southern Regional Technical College (SRTC) Foundation.

Dr. Freida Hill-Harrell and husband Bill Harrell presented a check for $20,000 to the SRTC Foundation on March 24 to support student scholarships. 

"We are honored and so thankful for the generosity of Dr. Freida Hill-Harrell and her husband Bill. Not only are we appreciative of the donation to our SRTC Foundation towards student scholarships, but we are also so pleased to continue to have the support of and connection to former presidents of our college. Gifts, such as this one, are so important in helping our students afford all the expenses of attending college," said Dr. Craig Wentworth, SRTC president.
 
The Foundation will use the funds to support scholarships that reward students for academic achievement. They will also provide financial support to students who need assistance with tuition, books and other fees. By offering more scholarships for students, the Foundation and SRTC hope to improve the job skills, technical training and educational level of local residents.


VOICES TO JOIN FOR SPRING CHORAL CONCERT

The voices of the Concert Choir, the Chamber Singers and the Jazz Singers will blend in harmony at 7 p.m. April 6 in the annual Spring Choral Concert in Howard Auditorium at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. The concert is free and open to the public.

Dr. Susan Roe, Fine Arts Department head and choral director, will conduct the groups. Dr. Andy Lagrimas, assistant professor of piano and theory, will serve as accompanist. 

The Concert Choir will perform "The Road Not Taken" from "Frostiana" by Randall Thompson and continue with Paul Basler's "Psalm 23" from the piece "Songs of Faith."  The ABAC Chamber Singers will sing Eric Whitacre's "The Seal Lullaby" and "Disney Dazzle," arranged by Mac Huff. 

The ABAC Jazz Singers will also perform a Huff arrangement, "Come Fly With Me," followed by "Take Five" by Dave Brubeck, with arrangement by Kirby Shaw, and "Let's Fall in Love," a tribute to Cole Porter arranged by Jay Althouse.

The evening concludes with the ABAC Concert Choir performing "Slow Me Down, Lord" by Linda Spevacek, and William L. Dawson's "Ain'-A That Good News."

For information, contact Roe at 229-391-4943.


YOUR WEEKEND 
. ..at a Glance

FRIDAY, MARCH 31
  • Tift County Special Olympics,  9 a.m., Friendly City Park, Tifton

SATURDAY, APRIL 1
  • Tour de Tifton Bike Ride: 8 a.m., Tiftarea YMCA Hunt Park campus, Westover Road, Tifton
  • Victory Student Ministries Golf Tournament, 9 a.m., Golf Club of South Georgia, Tifton
SUNDAY, APRIL 2
  • Light It Up Blue Autism Awareness, 4-7 p.m., Fulwood Park, Tifton
  • Four-Day Spring Revival, 7 p.m., First United Methodist Church, Tifton

In Memoriam
BowenDonaldson

MARCH 23
Mamie Lee Jones Moore, 88, Nashville

MARCH 24
Charles Lewis "Charlie" Grant, 91, Nashville
Sandra Byrom, 68, Dixie

MARCH 26
Lamar Talmadge Jackson, 79, Tifton
Betty Jane Morris Winter, 71, Chula
George "Buddy" Fussell, 69, Fitzgerald
Margie Bennett, 83, Lenox
James M. "Jimmy" Lewis, 80, Nashville
Melinda Weeks, 50, Adel

MARCH 27
Joyce Faye McQueen, 70, Irwinville
Trina Aycock, 52, Fitzgerald
Trudie McNabb, 97, West Berrien
Virginia E. Alberson, 81, Chula

MARCH 28
Luz R. Marti, 75, Tifton
Howard "Earl" Fletcher Sr., 78, Tifton
Lillie Mae Davis, 97, Tifton
Marguerite Williams Gillespie, 95, Sylvester
Raymond D. Spindler, 88, Albany 
Donna Leigh Fouts, 42, Hampton

MARCH 29
Inez Goins, Sylvester
Edna Lee Smith, 91, Irwin County
Verma Lee May, 74, Nashville

MARCH 30
Dewayne Ray McDowell, 72, Sylvester

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FRANK SAYLES JR.
Editor & Publisher


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