Tuesday, May 11, 2021
Tifton, Georgia
This gas pump spotted Tuesday in Tifton was a familiar sight – bagged because the pump was out of fuel.
Tifton Grapevine
Unleaded gasoline with 10 percent ethanol was in high demand all over Tifton on Monday and Tuesday.
Convenience-store gas stations at most locations in Tifton were running out of gas this week, more so because of increased local demand rather than the Colonial Pipeline shutdown from a recent cyber attack.

A store clerk at the Enmarket on Tift Avenue said that they ran out of regular unleaded gas Monday, received 3,000 gallons Tuesday morning and had run out of that by noon Tuesday.
“We were told to bag them (gas nozzles),” she said.

Asked if she knew when they would get more gas, she said, “We’ll know when it gets here.”

People are panicked is all,” explained Buck McCranie, owner of Gen-Earl Convenience Store on Eldorado Road. “It’s the American way.”

He said his gas pumps are frequented by regular customers because his store isn’t located near the interstate or any other shops. “We had people we didn’t know coming here Monday. They were bringing 55-gallon drums to fill up. We decided to put a limit of $20,” McCranie told the Tifton Grapevine.

Gen-Earl’s has conventional non-ethanol gas for $3.09 a gallon, but it's limited to $20 per customer.

“You can’t get 10 percent ethanol gas anywhere in Tifton, Albany, Bainbridge, or Valdosta,” McCranie said. 

He expects the uptick in gasoline demand will be over soon: “A tank of gas can last 10 days; in 10 days, it will be over with. They ain’t gonna let the whole East Coast run out of gas.”

McCranie compared it to the toilet-paper hoarding at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Who needs 82 rolls of toilet paper? They panic and they buy up everything.”
Angela Holland, president of the Georgia Association of Convenience Stores, told WSB-TV in Atlanta that there should be enough fuel in Georgia as Colonial Pipeline works to get back fully online.

“On a general basis, there is a 21-day supply in the Georgia storage facilities,” Holland said in a statement to Channel 2 Action News. “The last disruption period we experienced was in 2016. We had four issues arise within eight weeks, and while we had spotty outages, we did not experience a shortage of fuel for Georgia drivers.”
Gov. Brian P. Kemp signed an emergency order Tuesday suspending collection of state sales tax on gasoline through Saturday night. The governor said the state will also enforce anti-price gouging regulations.

“There is no need to rush to the gas station to fill up every tank you have and hoard gas," Kemp said.

“Unfortunately, extensive media coverage has caused people to panic, which has resulted in higher gas prices. We are taking action to relieve some of the cost burden from Georgians as Colonial (Pipeline) recovers by suspending fuel taxes, increasing the weight limit for supply trucks, and prohibiting price gouging.”
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We are located in Tifton next door to Turners Furniture on 2nd Street.
Noemi Reyes of Tifton, holding a photo of her late grandfather, stands with family members. She will be the first college graduate in her extended family.
Noemi Reyes of Tifton, a practical nursing student at Southern Regional Technical College (SRTC), on Monday was named one of the top nine Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership (GOAL) delegates in the state.

The announcement by the Technical College System of Georgia allows Reyes to compete in state-level judging on May 18. She had been named SRTC's 2021 GOAL winner in March.

GOAL is a statewide program that focuses on academic excellence and personal achievement in technical education. The winning GOAL student serves as an ambassador for technical education in Georgia.

Reyes, 18, has overcome language difficulties and generational poverty to be the first in her large family to earn a college degree. She is the oldest of six, and her grandfather’s 12 children all lived together in one home when she was born. As her family grew, they continued to live, work, worship, and raise children close together. Her aunts and uncles have provided her with 30 cousins.

She said that college was not a consideration when she was growing up.

“I always struggled in school. English is my second language, and it was very difficult for me to learn to speak and write. I lived in a household where no one spoke English, so there was no one to help me with my homework. Kids bullied me for not knowing how to pronounce words correctly or how to say my classmates’ names. I hated school and did not believe that I could be successful," Reyes said.

She credits her late grandfather, who died of COVID-19 complications last summer, with turning around her attitude.

"He explained that there would always be someone to hurt your feelings or try to keep you from pursing a dream, but that it was up to me whether or not I met my goals, and doing my best was all that mattered. From that day on, I knew I needed to worry less about the thoughts of other people. I decided then to perform well in school, to attend college, to get a good job, to help my family with finances, to get us out of working in the fields, and to show my siblings that it is possible to do all these things even in our circumstances,” Reyes said.

A dual enrollment student while in high school, Reyes will now will graduate from SRTC's practical nursing program this July. She plans to continue her education through SRTC’s LPN-RN bridge program
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Tifton Grapevine
Tift County has recorded 15 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 during the past week and 25 new confirmed cases in the past two weeks, according to the Ga. Department of Public Health (DPH) on Tuesday.

There also was one additional coronavirus-related death in Tift County during the past week.

Within the past two weeks, Tift's new cases represent 61 per 100,000 population, the DPH reported. Also during that period,Tift had a testing positivity rate of 5.1%.

Since the pandemic began, Tift County has had 3,445 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 97 related deaths, the DPH said.

Georgia reported 757 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday with 21 additional deaths and 118 new hospitalizations. The state has reported a total of 887,443 confirmed cases and 17,722 related COVID-19 deaths in the past year.
Click video above to see the Tift Schools Administrative Offices' ribbon cutting and open house at the old Junior High School/Annie Belle Clark School building.
Tifton Grapevine
With community fanfare, the Tift County School System formally opened its newly renovated administrative offices Friday in the former Annie Belle Clark School in Tifton's Historic District.

The ribbon cutting was followed by tours of the $2.8 million restoration of the building that housed schools since its construction in 1927.

The structure at 506 West 12th St., started as Tifton Junior High School, served as Annie Belle Clark Elementary for a half-century and later as the school system's Pre-K Center.

It had been largely vacant for the past two years. The facility has now been transformed to handle modern needs and technology. School officials said they hope the building will continue to serve the community for another 100 years.

The school system's previous offices on Ridge Avenue were labeled as the "Board of Education," which school officials said had caused some confusion; some folks thought that BOE members had personal offices in there. The 12th Street building is now labeled as "Tift County Schools Administrative Offices," which officials say better describes the facility.
Folks going by the front of the Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College campus Tuesday morning may have seen the college's Golden Stallion "romping free" on the grounds.

As the college posted on social media, "Our Golden Stallion got a little rowdy and escaped last night! No need to worry; he's back in the pasture now!"

Or maybe back on his pedestal!

It was a part of end-of-school shenanigans as students prepare for ABAC's graduation this Friday, May 14, when ABAC is holding three in-person spring commencement ceremonies with limited attendance.

Two ceremonies will be held on the Tifton campus inside Gressette Gymnasium at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., and another ceremony will be held on the Bainbridge campus at 6 p.m. at the Kirbo Center.
Accepting the Sconyers Trust check for the Turner County Health Department is Mary Anne Sturdevan, along with trustees Tim Floyd, left, and Bill Reinhardt.
The Cortez H. Sconyers Charitable Trust has awarded 28 college scholarships and presented $10,000 to both the Sycamore United Methodist Church and to the Turner County Health Department.

The awards were presented April 22 at Sconyers' 20th Annual Scholarship Awards Banquet at the Turner County Civic Center.

The Cortez Henderson Sconyers Trust is a private foundation that is the owner and operator of Sconyers Gin & Warehouse in Sycamore. The trust supports various charitable causes with the primary emphasis on supporting agriculture and promoting education of young people in Turner and surrounding counties.  

Area students receiving scholarships were: Lauren French Barnette, Dalton Paul Jones, Todd Randall Barnette, Haley Alexis Kendrick, Maggie Lynn Bloodworth, Victoria Ponder Lavery, Adrian Sky Brown, Caroline Griffin Marlin, Tanner Andrew Crawford, Kaylee Miller, Robert Craig Dominy, Christian Marie Raines Pate, Clark Ashton Gaines, Celie Grace Raines, Maria Celina Gomez, Mary Georgia Reinhardt, April Graham, Lindsey Jane Ross, Garrett McRay Gravitt, Hunter Russell Slade, Griffin Russell Gravitt, Makenley Elizabeth Slade, Jacob Clayton Gravitt, Reece Wilson Speight, Brandon Hobbs Griffin, Kiley Jade Stephens, Billy Anderson Hardin, and Kimberly Jane Wood.
From left is Sconyers Trust trustee Tim Floyd, Sycamore United Methodist Church's Rev. Jonathan Fuller, Dot Coker and trustee Bill Reinhardt.
PlantTel Awards Two Scholarships
Gabriel Lankford, at left, and Jonathan Crow, right, are the 2021 PlantTel recipients of the James Perry Gleaton Scholarship

Ginger Nelson with PlantTel, center, presented the awards.

The Plant Telecommunications scholarship is awarded in honor of Gleaton, founder of Plant Telephone Co., and is usually awarded to a current PlantTel employee or child of an employee planning to attend Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton.
From left are Jennifer Oglesby, Coca-Cola Bottling Co. United (CCBCU) employee relations manager; Rhen Coley, CCBCU sales operations manager; Charlie Yawn, CCBCU sales center manager; Damon Harmon, CCBCU warehouse manager; Amy Maison, SRTC vice president for institutional advancement, marketing and public relations; Travis Epps, warehouse operations manager; Jim Glass, SRTC president; Justin Butler, sales operations manager; and Erin Thompson, office manager.
Coca-Cola Bottling Co. United and Rural Development Partners (RDP) have jointly funded a $200,000 investment in technical and industrial education in South Georgia through RDP’s Community Investment Program.

The collaborative grant has been awarded to the Southern Regional Technical College Foundation, which will use the funds to support SRTC’s technical and industrial programs and students in the Tiftarea

“This gift will directly benefit students now and in the future, who will, in turn, strengthen the Tifton area workforce," said SRTC President Jim Glass.

The grants includes $50,000 to create and maintain a new SRTC scholarship benefitting technical and industrial students living in Tift, Turner, Worth and Colquitt counties. The $500 scholarship will help the college recruit students and assist enrolled students. The gift will make scholarships available each semester.
The remainder of the grant monies will benefit technical and industrial programs at SRTC Tifton, including the popular commercial truck-driving program.

Coca-Cola United, headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., is the second largest privately held Coca-Cola bottler in North America and the third largest Coca-Cola bottler in the U.S., and is opening a $60 million sales and distribution center in Tifton.

Rural Development Partners is a community development firm with a nationwide service area that uses new markets tax credits to encourage businesses to expand in distressed rural communities.
The GFWC Tifton Woman’s Club at its meeting Tuesday awarded a $1,000 ABAC scholarship to Tift County High School graduating senior Karina Rodriguez.

President Genie McCook, left in photo, and Treasurer Shirene Daniell, at right, are shown with Rodriguez and her mother, Maria Rodriguez, at a luncheon in her honor.
Rodriguez turned in all her finals and received straight A’s in her high school and dual enrollment classes at Southern Regional Technical College. At Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, she plans to major in nursing and expects to get her bachelor’s degree in three years, thanks to her dual enrollment

“Eventually, I want to move from a registered nurse to a family nurse practitioner,” Rodriguez told the club members.

She has been impressed with a nurse practitioner who works with the Hispanic community in Tifton, and wants to pursue that career with the possibility of furthering studies in medicine.
“We were very impressed with your application,” Club President McCook told Rodriguez.

The club awards a scholarship annually in memory of longtime club members Margaret Whiddon and Tunkey Bergeron. The club is still accepting applications for another scholarship in honor of Harriett Herring and Irene Blalock, which is awarded to a nontraditional student who is returning to school at ABAC

Letters must address local issues only. All letters are subject to editing for brevity, for libelous statements and for egregious language. 

Include your name, phone number and address for verification purposes. Email letters to: IHeardIt@tiftongrapevine.com
To the Editor: We all know that Georgians have an incredible work ethic and want to work. As we continue to recover from this pandemic-induced recession, we are hearing from a growing chorus of small business owners, agricultural leaders, managers in retail, manufacturing and nearly every industry sector concerned about the lack of available workforce.

In 2020, Georgia saw a record 40% annual increase in the number of economic development projects announced. Our economy has quickly rebounded thanks to a balanced pandemic strategy coupled with record-high consumer spending. Retailers cannot keep certain items in stock, and factory orders are piling up. Because they cannot find labor, businesses are starting to turn down orders, raise prices, and some are even considering closing permanently. Many restaurants are only offering drive-through, pick-up service, not because of COVID, but because they cannot find enough workers to support full-scale operations.

Our job creators are doing their part. They are raising wages, offering incentives, competitive benefits, shift flexibility and work-from-home options when possible. In addition, job fairs are popping up on every corner. The truth is that there has never been a better time to enter the workforce.

Over 231,000 Georgians are on unemployment, but over the last 90 days Georgia businesses have reported at least 406,000 job openings. Getting those men and women connected to employers and back to work is the first step. Second, we must address long-term labor shortages in the agriculture, hospitality and high-tech sectors while helping students prepare for a different job market. Compared to previous years for the same time, the current number of job postings is nearly double, proving that our conditions are unprecedented and require creative solutions.

In the short-term, we suggest that the state of Georgia:
  1. Suspend additional federal unemployment benefits and direct available funds to a statewide job signing bonus program or other back-to-work initiative that helps match jobs to job seekers. This will incentivize Georgians’ return-to-work efforts.
  2. Require unemployed Georgians to actively seek employment while drawing benefits.
  3. Redirect federal funds to support our technical colleges and universities in rapid re-training and certification programs that upskill our labor force for new economy jobs.
  4. Eliminate the outdated Federal Self Certification Declaration checklist for unemployment insurance and return to a robust qualification process.
  5. Utilize existing federal funds to improve the appeals process and address childcare benefit needs. This will clear the backlogs in our Department of Labor so that more workers can exit the system and find meaningful work to support their families.

In the long-term, Georgia needs to aggressively pursue coordinated efforts that improve the talent pipeline, for example:
  1. Build on the momentum of Governor Kemp’s needs-based scholarships to help more first-generation, low-income students find career success.
  2. Develop a federal bipartisan solution to our existing H-1B, H-2A and H-2B worker visa programs that ensure Georgia companies and agricultural producers have the talent needed to meet growing demand.
  3. Support the work of the Ga. House of Representatives Maximizing Global Talent Study Committee which will examine regulatory burdens and opportunities for prosperity.
  4. Finally, prepare students to compete in the new economy by improving and coordinating our talent pipeline through a review of Georgia’s education delivery system that focuses on entrepreneurial training, upskilling, life-long learning, STEM and evolving 21st century skills.

The statewide business community is ready to partner with government leaders, educators and everyone who wants to work. Undoubtedly, this will require one of the largest concerted efforts in our nation’s history as we work to overcome our setbacks and plan for a more resilient future. Let’s get to work, Georgia.

Georgia Chamber of Commerce
American Council of Engineering Companies of Georgia
Georgia Agribusiness Council
Georgia Association of Convenience Stores
Georgia Association of Manufacturers
Georgia Chemistry Council
Georgia Construction Aggregate Association
Georgia Farm Bureau
Georgia Forestry Association
Georgia Highway Contractors Association
Georgia Mining Association
Georgia Paper & Forest Products Association
Georgia Poultry Federation
Georgia Transportation Alliance
These three kittens – "Moe," "Larry," and "Curly" – are available for adoption at the Tift County Animal Shelter. To adopt your next pet, visit the Animal Shelter from 1-6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, or call 229-382-PETS (7387).
Pets of the Week are sponsored by:
Branch's Veterinary Clinic
205 Belmont Ave., Tifton, 229-382-6055
– MAY 10, 1945
Said to be the first test of its kind in the United States, the "sunrise to sunset transfer of plants from the planting fields to the growing fields of another state" saw plants from Tift County shipped by plane to another state and placed in the ground there the same day on May 10, 1945. The plants were shipped to the H.J. Heinz Co. for planting in Ohio.
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