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Friday, Dec. 24, 2021
Tifton, Georgia
GrapeNew
A SOUTH GEORGIA
CHRISTMAS
By FRANK SAYLES JR.
Tifton Grapevine
Tonight is Christmas Eve, a special and magical time in the hours before the dawning of another bright Christmas Day.

When considering what to write for this year's holiday, I decided go back into my archives and slightly revise something I wrote and shared five years ago. It still holds true today.

Merry Christmas from our home to yours!

A TIFTON CHRISTMAS CAROL

'Twas nearly Christmas and all through the town,
Folks were still shopping and scurrying around;
The streets were all filled with visitors and friends
Leaving stores with colorful packages to send.

The holiday lights twinkled throughout Fulwood Park,
Except where a thieving Grinch left some areas dark.
The Christmas tree was lit at Tifton City Hall,
And Santa could still be found inside Tifton Mall.

The Christmas forecast was for weather over 70 degrees;
Sweaters replaced by T-shirts and shorts above the knees.
But some roadsides were sprinkled with "South Georgia snow":
Small tufts of cotton blown off trucks from harvests below.

And if seeking a one-horse open sleigh, you're out of luck;
But you're sure to spot an old dog inside a trusty pickup truck.

The churches were ready for a Christmas Eve service,
And kids throughout town were getting excited and nervous;
For Santa soon would be coming down their chimneys
(And that's got to put a squeeze on the old elf's kidneys!).

But please remember the reason for the season
During this time of goodwill and good cheer;
For we should strive to keep Christmas alive
And beating in our hearts throughout the year.
..........................................................–Frank Sayles Jr.
JURY CONVICTS TIFTON MAN OF KILLING TAXI PASSENGER
A Tifton man has been convicted of malice murder and other charges in connection with the shooting death of a taxi cab passenger in 2018.

Following a three-week trial, Tift County jurors on Tuesday returned a verdict of guilty on all counts against Devontay Green, 30, on an indictment charging him with malice murder, armed robbery, felony murder, three counts of aggravated assault, and criminal attempt to commit armed robbery, said Tifton Circuit District Attorney Bryce Johnson.

“We commend the jurors for their tenacity in staying engaged and committed to the cause of justice during this trial," Johnson said Wednesday.  

“We know that this verdict will never bring Zeni Travis back to her family, but we hope it will give them some amount of peace that her killer has been brought to justice.”

Green was convicted of killing Zeni Marie Travis on May 13, 2018, during an armed robbery of the cab in which she was a passenger.  

Tifton Circuit Chief Assistant District Attorney Patrick Warren presented the case to the jury. The Tift County Sheriff’s Office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's Region 15 Sylvester office handled the investigation, and testified during the trial along with several civilian witnesses.  

“We have stellar law enforcement in our circuit, and the work done by the men and women of the Tift County Sheriff’s Department and the GBI in this case is evidence of that,” Johnson said.  

Sentencing has been set for Jan. 14.
TIFT SEES 8 CONFIRMED COVID-19 CASES, NO DEATHS
IN PAST WEEK, DPH SAYS
By FRANK SAYLES JR.
Tifton Grapevine
Tift County reported eight confirmed COVID-19 cases and no related deaths during the past week, according to the Ga. Department of Public Health (DPH).

During the past two weeks, Tift County recorded 11 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 54 total cases when rapid Antigen positive cases are added, the DPH said.

Tift County’s confirmed cases in the past two weeks represent 27 cases per 100,000 population, and 132 cases per 100,000 with Antigen positives. Tift's testing positivity rate for the virus was 2.3% during the two-week period, the DPH reported Thursday.

There have been a total of 4,916 confirmed cases and 140 deaths in Tift since the pandemic began, according to DPH data. Tift's vaccination rate against the disease is at 40%, the DPH reported. Georgia's vaccination rate statewide is at 53%.
TIFT GNAT DROP RETURNS
TO BRING IN NEW YEAR
By BONNIE SAYLES
Tifton Grapevine
First responders will be honored at Tift County’s Annual Gnat Drop Festival beginning at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 31, outside the Charles Kent County Administration Building on Tift Avenue, says Tift County Commission Vice Chair Melissa Hughes.

The gnat will drop at midnight New Year's Eve.

“Bring in the new year with Matt the Gnat!” Hughes said. “Bring your lawn chairs and enjoy live music, dancing in the streets, food vendors, and fun.” 

Live entertainment will include MardyMar of Atlanta, a positive rapper for children; country singer Kasey King, who handles the county's information technology; and the “saxsational” Harold E. Thomas of Macon, Hughes said.
BLUE DEVILS HEADLINE TIFTON INVITATIONAL BASKETBALL TOURNEY
The 12th McDonald’s Tifton Invitational basketball tournament returns on Tuesday, Dec. 28 and Wednesday, Dec. 29

Games both nights are 4:30 p.m., 6 p.m., and 7:30 p.m. Last year’s invitational was canceled because of the pandemic.
 
“We are excited about the return of the tournament and will do our part to ensure it’s a safe event for all,” said tournament title sponsor Wendell Morgan of the Tifton McDonald’s.

The tournament will provide custom masks and hand sanitizer to everyone as part of enhanced safety protocols. 
  
Tournament chair Joyce Danford said organizers “spent this year planning it with a team of dedicated community volunteers. This tournament gives back to the student athletes at Tift High and is great for the small businesses in the area.” 

Six teams, headlined by the Tift County High Blue Devils, include Cook County, Irwin County, Turner County, Fitzgerald, and Americus-Sumter high schools.

New invitational sponsor, Tifton Coca-Cola, will recognize local first responders, active-duty military, and veterans on Tuesday during the presentation of the colors before the 7:30 p.m. Tift County game. Violinist Eddy Fabrizio Castellanos from Valdosta State University will perform at halftime.
LIGHTING UP THE NEIGHBORHOOD
Residents of Tift Terrace and The Orchard neighborhoods set up their sixth annual holiday luminary on Wednesday.

Other neighborhoods, including some streets in Tifton's Historic District, also participated.

The luminary was initially set for Tuesday night but was moved a day later because of weather.
DOT AWARDS IMPROVEMENT GRANTS TO FITZGERALD, SYLVESTER
Federal transportation grants recently awarded to Ben Hill and Worth counties will help improve median parks and develop streetscape projects to enhance pedestrian safety.

The grants are among $4.5 million in nine Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grants awarded through the Ga. Department of Transportation, in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration. Other Southwest Georgia counties receiving the grants, are Dougherty and Thomas counties.

The grants pay 80% of the project cost and require a 20% local match. The total award amount is a combination of the two.

The largest award of $900,000 will return eight median parks in Fitzgerald (Ben Hill County) to pedestrian and bicycle-friendly spaces, as originally designed.

Grants were also awarded for preliminary engineering of streetscape improvements in Sylvester (Worth County), for right of way needed for sidewalk construction and drainage improvements in Thomasville (Thomas County), and for preliminary engineering in development of a 13.62-mile paved multi-use trail that connects northwest Albany (Dougherty County) to Sasser in Terrell County.
NEW OFFICERS JOIN TIFTON POLICE FORCE

The Tifton Police Department swore in two new officers last week, shortly after their graduation from the Georgia Public Safety Training Center.

Officer Dasie Rathel and Officer Devin Keller are shown being sworn in by Tifton Police Chief Steve Hyman.
TIFTON
2012 Pineview Ave., Tifton, Ga 31793
On hand for the AT&T presentation were, from left, Sonja Alexander, Gary Sanchez, Olga Contreras-Martinez, Dr. Jerry Baker, and Cierra Boney.
AT&T CONTRIBUTES $25,000 TO
ABAC MULTICULTURAL PROGRAMS
AT&T Georgia recently made a $25,000 contribution to the Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College Foundation to support multicultural programs.

“At AT&T, we understand the importance of closing the digital divide,” said Gary Sanchez, external affairs director for AT&T Georgia. 

“We are proud to support Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College’s multicultural educational program, helping equip traditionally underserved students with resources to reach their academic dreams.”

Olga Contreras-Martinez, ABAC multicultural education programs director, said the programs touch students' lives daily, including:

  • The Migrant Education Program (MEP) Consortium serves more than 400 migrant and seasonal farmworker students and their families in 70 school districts. MEP is a federally funded program designed to support educational programs for migrant children to help reduce problems that result from repeated moves.

  • The High School Equivalency Program (HEP) has been a part of ABAC’s multicultural education efforts since 2001. Designed to serve students from migrant or seasonal farm-worker backgrounds, HEP assists students in their academic preparation to obtain a General Education Diploma (GED) and subsequently to obtain better employment, enroll in an institution of higher education, or join the military. 

  • The College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) supports migrant and seasonal farmworker students so they can enroll and complete their first year of college and offers resources for their retention in higher education at ABAC. The program primarily targets the agriculturally dependent South Georgia counties of Appling, Colquitt, Coffee, Tattnall, Tift, and Toombs.

  • ABAC Upward Bound is a federally funded college preparatory program serving high school students from low-income families who will be first-generation college students. The goal is to increase the rate at which participants complete secondary education and enroll in and graduate from institutions of postsecondary education.
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YOUR GUIDE TO ACTIVITIES THIS WEEKEND IN THE TIFTAREA

Tonight, Friday, Dec. 24, is Christmas Eve – as every child knows, the time that Santa Claus arrives. The modern incarnation of Santa is based on traditions surrounding the historical Saint Nicholas, the English figure of Father Christmas and the Dutch figure of Sinterklaas. Santa's physical characteristics are largely a result of depictions in the 1800s by Washington Irving, Clement Clarke Moore, and Thomas Nast.
FRIDAY, DEC. 24
  • 'Twas the Night Before Christmas....

SATURDAY, DEC. 25
  • Merry Christmas!
TIFTON GRAPEVINE'S DOG OF THE WEEK
“Diamond," a female pooch, is available for adoption at the Tift County Animal Shelter on Highway 125 South between 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  
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DECEMBER 16
Lottie Bell, 76, Adel
Marion “Lloyd” Barnes Jr., 29, Tifton
Carl Wendell Hilty, 81, Moultrie
Earl “Wendell” Westbrook, 76, Tifton
Faye Anne Barry, 61, Sylvester

DECEMBER 17
Frieda Wittman Wilds, 93, Tifton
Jeanette Harrell Shaw, 83, Ray City
Mary Francis Bailey, Sylvester

DECEMBER 18
Virginia Dian Brown, 69, Sylvester
Edith Kimbro Lumpkin, 95, Shingler
Wayne Boyette, 81, Adel
Betty Rose Daughtrey, 81, Adel
Curtis Elton Suggs, 80, Tifton
Billy W. Ammons, 79, Fitzgerald
David Benson, 63, Ocilla
Joanne Nelson, 79, Ashburn
Cindy Hiers Baker, 62, Omega
Ronald Zorn, 68, Norman Park
Gloria Deann Davis, 54, Tifton

DECEMBER 19
Donald Ray Beggs, 68, Ocilla
Steven Brian "Stevie" Etheridge, 51, Leesburg
Mary Ann Moody Sanders, 78, Fitzgerald
Gertrude Tuckes, Ashburn
James Anderson Tourville, 61, Tifton

DECEMBER 20
Melba “Audrey” Alexander Cauthen, 93, Tifton
Ruth Padgett, 88, Adel
Betty Jean Barfield Howell, 90, Enigma
Everette Leroy “Bob” Roberts, 86, Nashville
Grace Gwendolyn DeBerry Gray, 75, Irwin County
Dora Boatright, 83, Sparks

DECEMBER 21
Ann “Juanita” Jordan Blalock, 90, Tifton
William J. “Bill” Dukes, 84, Tifton
Emma Veal Harrell, 76, Fitzgerald
Jack Eddie McCrimmon, 71, Fitzgerald
DECEMBER 22
Belva Louise Bennett Little, 100, Sylvester
Herbert Troy Hobbs, 89, Ashburn

DECEMBER 23
Grady D. Connell Sr., 83, Sumner
Martha Evelyn Cauthen Narofsky, 94, Eldorado
Essie W. Carpenter, 98, Tifton
Cheryl Patricia Pate Payne, 72, Sycamore
MERRY CHRISTMAS!
We're here to help you with all your Real Estate needs, 
even during the holidays. Our experienced agents 
are available 24/7. Give us a call anytime.
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