Sept. 5, 2014
     Tifton Georgia

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American Textile Co., a leading provider of innovative sleep solutions since 1925, has doubled the size and expected employment of its Manufacturing and Distribution Center in Tifton.


The Tifton facility today employs 200, and American Textile expects to hire 100 more in the next three years. On Thursday, hundreds of government officials, community leaders and partners attended a grand opening at the expanded 418,000 square-foot state-of-the-art facility on Magnolia Industrial Boulevard.


Officials praised the company for bucking industry trends and growing employment and sales with a strategy to manufacture and ship most items from four strategically located sites in the United States, and for its focus on innovative sleep products, some of which were previously manufactured and shipped from Asia.


Brian Marlowe, president and CEO of the Tifton-Tift County Chamber of Commerce and the Tift County Development Authority, estimates that the American Textile plant's economic impact since 2011 is $75 million to $80 million.


"American manufacturers have traditionally faced difficult decisions when balancing cost considerations with

the desire to produce in America," said Lance Ruttenburg, president and CEO of American Textile.  "Now, consumer demand for American-made products, coupled with rising freight costs and overseas wages, has made it financially viable for companies to expand in the United States. We're thrilled to be a part of this resurgence of the textile industry in the Southeast and have found Tifton to be the perfect fit for us."


American Textile, a Pennsylvania-based company, opened its Tifton operation in 2011, doubling its workforce and adding 200,000 square feet two years ahead of schedule. The Tifton facility manufactures and distributes pillows and other bedding materials.


"I believe we've built something very special here in Tifton, as it signifies everything we stand for: service, growth, community and quality," Ruttenberg said.


As part of the grand opening celebration, American Textile presented $70,000 to the Tiftarea YMCA to build a new lighted and fenced quarter-mile track made of asphalt and recycled materials. A sheltered picnic area and a walking track and field inside the track will be available for children's activities and adult aerobics. Construction on the American Textile Family Walking Track is expected to begin soon behind the YMCA's main facility on Carpenter Road.


"American Textile officials came by and toured our facility early this year, and we had a great conversation," Darian Peavy, Tiftarea YMCA CEO, told the Tifton Grapevine"We told them our vision and how we hope to have an outside place for kids' activities and classes out on the field. They said they support the YMCA and want to give back to our community. We are very blessed and honored. They are great people."



The Return, one of the top Beatles tribute bands in the country, is coming to Tifton on Saturday, Sept. 27, at the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center.

This year marks a half-century since The Beatles first visited America, changing music and popular culture for decades.

The appearance is hosted by the Tifton-Tift County Public Library Foundation, a nonprofit organization supporting the local public library. Proceeds are used for programs and materials at the library.

Patrons may purchase dinner/show tickets for $80 or show-only tickets for $35. Tickets are available at the public library, at Ameris Bank on Second Street in Tifton and online at

The dinner begins at 7 p.m. and The Return takes the stage at 8 p.m. They will do two sets: The Beatles early years circa the Ed Sullivan Show, and the Sgt. Pepper years and beyond. The tribute band has performed all over the world, including at Abbey Road studios in London, the Cavern Club in Liverpool, and at venues large and small.

"They are outstanding! Absolutely the best thing next to the originals," says Pete Beaudraultpresident and CEO of the Hard Rock Cafe.


The library foundation event is black tie-optional, or you may dress in your best '60s attire. For more information about the library foundation fundraiser, call Dr. Hal Henderson, foundation president, at 229-386-2237.


First Baptist Church on Tifton's Love Avenue celebrates its 125th anniversary on Sunday, Sept. 7, with a special service at 10:30 a.m.


Before the 10:30 a.m. celebration, church pianist Gina Lawhon and church organist Frankie Cottle will set the tone for celebration, and members of more than 70 years will be recognized.


"The service will be a time to reflect upon the past and give thanks to God for His blessings upon this body of believers for the last 125 years. It will also be a time to be challenged for the future," said June Branch, celebration coordinator.


The day will be commemorated with a small replica of the chapel, on sale for $13. A book about the last 25 years will be distributed as an addendum to a book that covered the first 100 years of the church.


First Baptist Church has long been a mainstay of the Tifton community. According to the research contained in the "History of the First Baptist Church 1889-1989" by Edna Bowen Colquitt, a group of Baptists voted to constitute a church and build a building in a meeting moderated by W.W. Webb in September 1889.


The original church was called the Hermon Church. While raising money for the building, the church met in a chapel on land donated by H.H. Tift. The chapel was shared by both Baptists and Methodists, alternating Sundays. The chapel was located on Love Avenue roughly between the current public library and the Tifton Museum of Arts and Heritage.



The Vietnam Moving Wall, a traveling version of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., is in Ashburn through Sunday, Sept. 7.


In 2008, the Moving Wall visited Tiftonsetting up at the Eighth Street Middle School track. The Moving Wall is one-third the size of the original and contains the names of the 58,256 men and women who died in the Vietnam War. Their names are listed on the wall in the order of their deaths.


The Wall is set up in Ashburn just off Exit 82 of Interstate 75. The opening ceremony is at 10 a.m. today (Friday).


There is no charge to see the exhibits. No drinks, other than water, no cell phones and no music are allowed in the area immediately around the wall. Visitors are asked to be respectful while in the vicinity.


Counselors and ministers will be on hand. For information, call Ashburn City Hall at 229-567-3431.



A West Berrien man died while diving in the Florida Keys on Labor Day.


Larry Rowan, 59, was on a private vessel with his brother-in-law and a friend near Big Pine Key when they went diving for lobsters Monday afternoon, said the Monroe County (Fla.) Sheriff's Office.


The three men separated, but only two returned to the boat.


Authorities said Rowan still had his dive gear on him, and there was no sign of injury. An autopsy is being performed to determine the cause of death.


Rowan, a son of Bobby Rowan, was retired from the Georgia Department of Transportation. Rowan was known around Tifton as a member of the "Old Friends" country-bluegrass group that has performed numerous times at local venues. 

The Georgia Power Foundation has donated $2,000 to the Tift County Foundation for Educational Excellence for its programs which include summer reading and recognition of top teachers in Tift County. Lynn Lovett, at left, who is Georgia Power Co.'s area manager, presents the donation to Dr. Joe West, an education foundation board member, and Mike Brumby, the education foundation's executive director.
In honor of 1950's Day at Southern Care Assisted Living, come visit at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 9, for a performance by Tifton's own Elvis tribute artist, Jeff Vandenberg.

Jeff was selected to compete in Tupelo., Miss., for the 2011 Ultimate Elvis Preliminary Contest -- one of 35 Elvis tribute artists chosen from around the world.
He now makes his home in Chula and travels all over performing his Elvis set.

See his performance Tuesday at Southern Care Assisted Living,1934 Whiddon Mill Road in Tifton.

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                                      At a Glance.... 



  • Vietnam Moving Wall, 10 a.m. opening ceremony, Ashburn.
  • Tift County High Blue Devils football vs. Luella, 7:30 p.m., Brodie Field, Tifton.
  • Tiftarea Academy Panthers football vs. Frederica Academy, 7:30 p.m., Chula.
  • Tiftarea YMCA Fun Mudder, 8:30 a.m., 184 Connell-Ray Road, Tifton.
  • Downtown Tifton Farmers Market, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Old Train Platform, Tifton.
  • Wiregrass Farmers Market, 9 a.m.-Noon, Georgia Museum of Agriculture Tifton.
  • Emergency Preparedness Fair, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Tift County Recreation Department, Tifton.
  • Movie Under the Stars, 7 p.m., Conner Park, Tift County Recreation Department, Tifton.

In Memoriam


Aug. 27

Willie Roberts, Miami, Fla.


Aug. 28

Willie Henry Cherry Jr., Sylvester 


Aug. 29

Donald L. Hutto, Sr., 68, Doerun

Barbara Ann Holmes Phelts, 74, Sylvester

Viola Jean Hamilton, 74, Adel

Joe S. Phillips, 101, Fitzgerald

James Earl Jefferson, Sylvester

Aug. 30

Donna Sparks Little, 52, Sumner

John A. "Sonny" Griner, 85, Lenox 


Aug. 31

John Randy Holt, 52, Lenox

Elaine Ogletree Eure, 74, Doerun

Lamar Keith Cochran, Ashburn

Orangenell Rice, Atlanta 


Sept. 1

Larry Alvin Rowan, 59, West Berrien

Ethel Hawthorne, 84, Snellville

Myrtle Ruth Cleveland Burke, 74, Cordele 


Sept. 2

Janette Thompson Boyd, 76, Tifton

 Linda Gail Ugalde, 67, Sylvester 


Sept. 4

Edwina Brock Wright, 94, Ocilla

Earl J. Dale, 70, Fitzgerald



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