Friday, April 16, 2021
Tifton, Georgia
Tifton Grapevine
The Tifton-Tift County Chamber of Commerce has named Melody Cowart as the new Chamber president.

The announcement was made Thursday to the Chamber membership at its virtual monthly meeting.

“I am thrilled, honored and very excited to be joining the Chamber team with big shoes to fill,” Cowart said. “I love people and our town, and I am excited to plan and be a part of our local events and watching Tifton continue to grow.”

Cowart succeeds Brian Marlowe as Chamber president, who in October was named state deputy commissioner for rural Georgia and leader of the Governor's Rural Strike Team.

In his Chamber role, Marlowe had also been executive director of the Tift County Development Authority. The Chamber has decided to separate those jobs, and a new Development Authority director will be named, said Chamber Board Chairman Dereck Sumner.

Cowart is a native of the Fitzgerald/Ocilla area, has worked in Tifton for more than 20 years and has served on various boards and committees in Tifton. She attended Irwin County High School and Ben Hill Irwin Technical College, and recently relocated to Tifton from Adel. 

Cowart has a hospitality, business, sales and marketing background. She most recently was area sales director for the Williams Hotel Group, where she has been for the past 11 years. Before that, she was an outside sales executive for The Tifton Gazette for nine years.

“I am honored to have worked with both of these companies for so many years,” Cowart said. “They have given me so many opportunities and knowledge to move me into my role as Chamber president, and I greatly appreciate both of my past employers and so many in our community that have helped me throughout my career.”

Cowart has been involved in the Tifton Chamber as a member, past board member and ambassador. She currently serves on the Tifton-Tift County Tourism Board and as treasurer for the Southwest Georgia Tourism Association.

She said that she’s "very passionate about our youth in the community" and wants to get young people more involved in Chamber activities. Cowart said she also wants to put together a membership blitz among businesses and is "very excited about bringing back Leadership Tifton."

“I believe in partnership and teamwork," she said.

Board Chairman Sumner said the Chamber is "very excited” about bringing Cowart on board.

“She has some really phenomenal ideas and is a phenomenal fit for this role," Sumner said.
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Tifton Grapevine
A traffic accident Thursday morning at the intersection of Fourth Street and Ridge Avenue North in Tifton resulted in the death of a Tifton man.

Steve Dickson, 77, a retired manager at Burlen Corp., was involved in the two-vehicle accident at approximately 10:30 a.m. Thursday and was pronounced dead at Tift Regional Medical Center shortly thereafter.
“Unfortunately, I hit someone that ran a stop sign today, and he didn’t survive,” Colt Anderson of Tifton later posted on social media. “Please pray for Steve Dickson’s friends and family. Our family will be too.”

According to residents near the scene, Dickson’s vehicle was heading west on Fourth Street and Anderson’s Cottongim Services truck was heading north on Ridge Avenue when they collided.

The Tifton Police Department referred calls to the Georgia State Patrol, and the patrolman who worked the accident was not available before press time. The Tift County coroner also did return phone calls Thursday.

Residents who live nearby the intersection told the Tifton Grapevine that many accidents have occurred at that site in recent years.
From Staff Reports
Contractors will begin resurfacing Tifton's Second Street on Monday, April 19, according to the regional Transportation Investment Act office.

The $1,081,600 Second Street project will extend from the intersection of U.S. Highway 82 to Virginia Avenue. Construction in the downtown area will be performed at night to allow parking at local businesses.

Drivers should still plan for temporary lane closures, traffic pattern shifts, and possible brief delays. No long-term lane closures are expected. Construction is expected to be completed this summer.

The Transportation Investment Act, known as "TSPLOST," is a regional sales tax for transportation purposes. The law allows a region to implement a 1% regional sales tax over a ten-year period to fund transportation improvements.
During the past week, Tift County has recorded two new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and a total of seven in the past two weeks, the Ga. Department of Public Health (DPH) reported Thursday.

Tift also has had one additional coronavirus-related death during the past week, the DPH said.

Tift County's new confirmed cases translate to 17 per 100,000 population, the DPH reported. The county’s positive testing rate during the two-week period is 3.5%.

Since the pandemic began, Tift has reported 3,403 confirmed cases with 96 deaths.

On Thursday, Georgia reported 1,004 new cases with 61 additional deaths and 129 new hospitalizations. The state has had a total of 865,827 confirmed cases and 17,130 related deaths, the DPH said.
ABAC’s Southeastern District golf champions are, from left, Assistant Coach Hunter Dokey, Brock Barber, Brady Kotkiewicz, Ian Arnold, Hagen Marion, Ben Sanders, and Head Coach Larry Byrnes.
Roaring back from a nine-stroke deficit heading into the final round, the Golden Stallions of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College won the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division II Southeastern District golf tournament Tuesday in Spartanburg County, S.C.

Compiling a 603 score over the 36 holes of the two-day tournament, the Golden Stallions topped favored Walters (Tenn.) State, which finished at 607. Other scores included Cleveland (Tenn.) State at 621, Roane (Tenn.) State at 635, and Davidson County (N.C.) Community College at 675.

“Give all the credit to these kids,” said ABAC Coach Larry Byrnes. “They really showed me something in that final round after being nine strokes back. I am so proud of every one of them.”

ABAC’s Brock Barber from St. Cloud, Fla., was the tournament medalist, and ABAC’s Brady Kotkiewicz from Buford finished in a tie for second place. Barber shot 71-72—143, and Kotkiewicz shot 70-75—145. Other team members included Ian Arnold from Blackshear, Hagen Marion from Zebulon, and Ben Sanders from Thomasville. 

With the win, the Golden Stallions secured their spot in the 72-hole national tournament, which will be held May 17-21 at the Swan Lake Resort in Plymouth, Ind. 

ABAC finished 10th in the nation on that course in 2019. There was no national tournament in 2020 because of the pandemic.

ABAC will face Georgia Military College and Andrew College in the NJCAA Region 17 tournament Monday at the Twin City Country Club in Tennille.
Visiting the Tifton Rotary Club are, from left, Tift County High drama students Madeline Perrin, sophomore; Mae Mae Collins, senior; Madi Ball, senior; Joshua Bowyer Jr., junior; Seth Jones, senior; Michal Gregus, junior; and drama teacher Jake Alley. 
Tifton Grapevine
Mary Poppins will be flying in and flying out, quite literally, at Tift County High School later this month, drama teacher Jake Alley announced to the Tifton Rotary Club on Wednesday

After cancelling its musical “Chicago” last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the drama department is excited to present “Mary Poppins, the Broadway Musical,” on April 29-May 1.

A flight production company, ZFX Productions, which set up Taylor Swift to fly in for her concerts and flew the flying monkeys in the Broadway show “Wicked,” is coming from New York to the TCHS Performing Arts Center next week to “rig the stage” for flight for students Mae Mae Collins (Mary Poppins) and Michal Gregus (Bert). 

The flight director will teach local stagehands how to operate the equipment for the show. To give Rotarians a taste of the show, Collins and Gregus sang “Chim Chim Cher-ee,” and Madeline Perrin and Collins sang “Feed the Birds.”
“The entire cast will be tap dancing,” Alley said, with choreography by Carolyn Ellis and Erin Womack. Seating will be distanced with every other row seated and a seat between family groups. British-style concessions will be sold, including brimstone, treacle and cordials.
Also, Alley said the musical dinner theatre will return this spring, the week of May 20. Madi Ball sang a selection from the musical “Waitress.”

Alley, who is also the TCHS literary coach, announced that Tift County students won first place in eight of the 12 events among 7-A schools in the regional Literary Competition held Tuesday in Tifton.

Winners were: Mae Mae Collins - Female Music Solo; Michal Gregus - Male Music Solo; Michal Gregus, Jimmy Kemerait, Christian Massa, Jeronimo Herrera - Male Quartet; Jimmy Kemerait - Personal Essay; Michal Gregus - Rhetorical Essay; Joshua Bowyer Jr. - Humorous Interpretation; Mae Mae Collins and Christian Massa - Duo Interpretation; and Gabi Heard - Domestic Extemporaneous Speech.

These students will compete at state next Saturday.

“I have great kids,” Alley said. “I lose some when they graduate, and I gain more.” 

The TCHS Blue Devil Players will present “Mary Poppins, the Broadway Musical,” at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 29-Saturday, May 1, and 3 p.m. Sunday, May 2, at the TCHS Performing Arts Center. Adult tickets are $15, students $10, and children under 5, $5. RSVP at
John and Connie Ewing's home at 302 W 26th St. in Tifton, pictured above, has been selected as the Residential Beauty Spot for April by the Keep Tift Beautiful committee.

The Ewings' landscape includes perennials, annuals, herbs, and roses of all varieties.

Annie's Place at 1019 Love Ave. in Tifton was selected the Commercial Beauty Spot for April. 
Tift County High School on Thursday announced the school's co-STAR students and teachers for 2021.

In the photo at left are STAR student Jimmy Kemerait, STAR teacher Cindy Marzen and TCHS Principal Chad Stone. In photo at right are Stone with STAR student Marisa Pearman and STAR teacher Mike Beeman.

The Student Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR) program honors Georgia's highest-achieving high school seniors and the teachers who have been most instrumental in their academic development. 

Since its creation in 1958 by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, the STAR program has honored approximately 26,000 high school seniors who have, in turn, chosen their STAR teachers to share in this recognition.

Every accredited high school in Georgia is eligible to participate in this preeminent student/teacher academic recognition.
Kaitlyn Boyd, left,
Tift County High School
Allison Carter, right,
Tiftarea Academy
The Kiwanis Club of Tifton recently awarded scholarships to two local students to honor their commitment to community service. Both students plan to attend Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in the fall.

Jane Justice, Kiwanis president, presented the scholarships to Kaitlyn Boyd of Tift County High School, and to Allison Carter of Tiftarea Academy.

The Kiwanis Club of Tifton meets at noon on each first and third Thursday at Hilton Garden Inn in Tifton.
Source: Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College
Young adults seeking adventures in the past and present can get an immersive experience as part of the Youth Apprentice Program at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural Colleges' Ga. Museum of Agriculture.

“The program is designed to offer youth an opportunity to learn about the past, gain hands-on experience for the modern professional environment, and prepare them to take an active role in volunteering,” said Sara Hand, museum assistant director.

Interested youth may drop in to get information between 10 a.m. and noon April 24 in the Peanut Museum behind the Country Store.

Youth apprentices volunteer a minimum of 30 hours during the summer and another 30 hours during the school year to assist with interpretation and special events.

The summer portion begins June 1 through the end of July. The summer schedule for youth apprentices usually includes activities on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. in June, and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. in July; however, the program is flexible to fit most schedules.

For information, call 229-391-5208 or email
G. Clifford Ranew, 78, a former basketball coach at Worth County and Berrien high schools and one of the winningest coaches in state history, has died.

Ranew of Leesburg, died Sunday. A Terrell County High graduate, he played baseball at Florida State University and pitched against Texas in the College World Series in 1965.

As a high school basketball coach at both public and private schools in Georgia, Ranew amassed 13 state champion titles while coaching both boys and girls teams. He had more than 1,050 wins during his 45-year career.

As Worth County High girls basketball coach, he won four state crowns – in 1981, 1982, 1985 and 1986 — a run that also included a 71-game winning streak. At Berrien High, Ranew led the girls to the Class AA championship in 1990.

He also won both boys and girls state championships at Crisp Academy, and won a state boys title at Albany’s Riverview Academy. Ranew also coached basketball at both Lowndes and Lee County high schools, and led Lowndes to semifinal and quarterfinal playoff appearances.
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This Saturday, April 17, is Husband Appreciation Day, also known as National Husband Day.
  • American Red Cross Blood Drive, 12:30-5:30 p.m., Tifton Mall, Tifton
  • Tiftarea YMCA Father-Daughter Dance, 5 p.m., 7 p.m., & 9 p.m., First Baptist Ministry Center, Tifton
  • Open Mic Night, 6-8 p.m., Carnegie Center, Fitzgerald-Ben Hill Arts Council, Fitzgerald

  • Kickoff to Planting: Peanut Palooza, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Georgia Peanut Commission, 445 Fulwood Blvd., Tifton
  • Strawberry Jubilee, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Rutland Farms, 5641 Union Road, Tifton
  • Ride for Autism, 10 a.m., Bike ride – Carrie Dorsey Perry Memorial Library to Tygart Park, Nashville
This dog is on stray hold and may be adopted if not claimed. 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  
Felicitas Hernandez, 60, Tifton
Elnita Adkison, 78, Ocilla
Mary Joyce White Whitacre, 88, Sylvester
Iris “Doll” Carol Register Williams, 93, West Berrien Community 
Timothy Collier, 34, Ashburn
Jerrold Robert Whitt, 67, Rebecca

Johniette Futch Sizemore, 71, Nashville
Mary Geoghagan, 76, Ashburn
Virginia Smith, 76, Sylvester
Fannie B. Graydon, 76, Valdosta

Robert Paul “Robbie” Moore, 41, Fitzgerald
Chris Collins, 11, Sparks

Christopher “Chris” Winfield Warren, 51, Tifton
Mark Eugene Chapman Sr., 57, Tifton
Erma Jean DeVane-Fernandez, 84, Sylvester
Ronnie David Kailing, 55, Lenox
Daniel Ferguson, 55, Fitzgerald
Mary Edith Lawson Jowers, 92, Wray

Jessie Jesus Garza, 68, Alapaha
Steve W. Tanner, 63, Chula

Michael Roswell Bennett, 65, Tifton
Rebecca Jean Fletcher, 66, Ray City

Phyllis Anita Putty Presley, 73, Tifton
Clara Nell Burrows Ludden, 93, Tifton
Ernestine "Mama" Chavez, Tifton
Vernon Leroy Barber, 71, Tifton
Steve Dickson, 77, Tifton
Isabelle Romero White, 95, Tifton
Cora Lee Mims Simmons, 62, Tifton
Jackie Eugene “Jack” Kennedy, 81, West Berrien Community

Tifton Grapevine
e-published every Tuesday and Friday

Frank Sayles Jr.
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Bonnie Sayles
Managing Editor
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