FEB. 27, 2017
Tifton, Georgia


Tifton Grapevine

Approximately 140 people came out early Saturday morning to learn about establishing a Recovery Community Organization (RCO) in Tift County to address the needs of people with drug addictions.

The  symposium, held at Southern Regional Technical College, was a way for the community to learn about the substance abuse epidemic plaguing families and how
Judge Herby Benson at Saturday's symposium suggests that a local RCO could be named "OASIS" for "Overcoming Addiction with Sobriety, Information & Support."
the community can help.

The local effort has been spearheaded by Tift County State Court Judge Herby Benson, who said that 73 percent of those who use illegal drugs are employed

In a recent letter to the Tifton  Grapevine, Benson said the "majority of our citizens are unaware or in complete denial as to how big the drug problem is in our community. Our judges on all levels see the magnitude of the problem and are attempting to address part of the issues with the institution of accountability courts in both Tift Superior Court and Tift State Court

"Our courts, however, can only help those individuals who are facing criminal charges related to their addiction," Benson said. "We cannot address the needs of those individuals and their families who are living with the pain of addiction but have not broken the law. Therein lies the need for RCOs."

At Saturday's symposium, Neil Campbell with the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse told the audience that three to four people die of substance abuse each day in Georgia
Some of the audience at Saturday's RCO Symposium.
The audience also heard from people with Recovery Community Organizations throughout the state, including Warner Robins, Jesup and Decatur, as well as testimony from individuals recovering from substance abuse -- including some from Tift  County.

"Our RCO Symposium was a tremendous success on Saturday.  Special thanks goes out to the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities and the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse for the support and guidance in this symposium. Tift Regional Medical Center, the Sylvia Barr Center and S outhern Regional Tech made significant contributions and work in putting on the symposium," Benson said.

"We've still got a lot of work to do to open a Recovery Community Organization in Tift County, but the ground work has been laid. Now it's on to phase two."

The judge said an RCO is whatever a community wants it to be; it is specific to the needs of a individual community and the goals that that community wants to achieve.


Tift Regional Medical Center (TRMC) will be constructing a $150 million four-story tower with a new emergency room and which will allow more private rooms and patient observation areas.

The Hospital Authority of Tift County voted last week to expand TRMC.   Groundbreaking for the 263,000 square-foot tower is expected within a year, and construction will take about two years.
Artist rendering of TRMC's new tower.

"Our emergency room was originally designed to accommodate about 20,000 patients per year, and we currently see close to 50,000 patients per year," said  President/CEO Chris Dorman.

"The new emergency room will better serve a larger volume of patients, which will decrease wait times. When we have a high census at the hospital, especially during flu season, patients now have to wait for long periods of time to be admitted, but with this new tower comes improved capacity."

Dorman said "this will be an advanced, contemporary, and patient-friendly facility connected to the current TRMC building. It will transform our main entrance on 18th Street. The project will also include some renovations to the current facility to make a seamless connection to the new building. It will not increase our 181-bed acute care licensure, but will offer more private rooms and additional observation beds

"Patients won't have to share a room any longer, which ensures privacy, helps minimize the spread of infection and enhances overall satisfaction," Dorman said.

Approximately 60 percent of the financing will be through a USDA rural development loan; the remaining 40 percent will be funded through internal reserves.


Tift Regional Health System (TRHS) will transition from a hospital authority operation to a federally designated nonprofit organization, the  Hospital Authority of Tift County has decided.

The hospital board said the corporate restructuring will better position TRHS to meet current and future health care challenges.

At its monthly meeting last week, the Hospital Authority Board of Trustees voted unanimously to take steps to convert TRHS into a charitable nonprofit organization under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service code. The restructuring process is estimated to take about a year

"About 16 percent of Georgia's 159 hospitals still operate under a hospital authority," said Jimmy Allen, Tift Hospital Authority chairman. 
"Most hospitals converted to a
501(c)(3) organization years ago. Our current structure under a hospital authority has its advantages, but it can also constrain outreach and growth."

Hospital authorities can only undertake projects specifically authorized under the Georgia Hospital Authorities Law. Additionally, that law limits the ability of a hospital authority to own or operate health care facilities outside its own geographic area.

"If an outside county does not touch the Tift County border, we are restricted on the services we can establish in that county, even if specific medical needs have been identified," said Allen. "When Tift Regional restructures, the system will be able to broaden its scope of services and service area."

Area health care facilities that no longer operate as a hospital authority include Archbold Memorial Hospital in Thomasville, Coffee Regional Medical Center in Douglas and Crisp Regional Hospital in Cordele.

Tift Regional and South Georgia Medical Center in Valdosta are the only two remaining large hospital authority-owned organizations in Georgia.

South Georgia Banking Co. has promoted Woody Davis to city president of the Tifton market.

Davis first came to SGBC 17 years ago as a loan officer.  He served as branch
manager of the bank's Tift Avenue location from 2004-2017. Additionally, he has managed the bank's Business Continuity Plan. In March 2017, Davis moved from Tift Avenue to the bank's Second Street location to help manage the commercial and agriculture business.
While other SGBC markets have had a city president position, the Tifton market has not had one because the senior management team is located in Tifton and has managed that market. However, the overall bank is now a $450 million operation, which requires the focus of senior management and necessitates creating the position for the Tifton market.  
SGBC, a locally owned bank, has locations in Tift, Colquitt, Turner, Crisp and Dooly counties.


Tiffany Tanner 's sixth- and seventh-grade math students at Tiftarea Academy recently participated in a goods drive, organized by the Kiwanis Club of Tifton, for "Called to Care." 

Called to Care is an organization whose mission is to ease the suffering of vulnerable children domestically and abroad by engaging and ministering through adoption, foster care and missions.

Deidre Martin of the Kiwanis Club and Whitney Jordan of Called to Care visited to collect the items last week.

ABAC representatives participating in the All College Choir include, from left, front:  Natalie Shell and Hope McMillan; from left, back: Shana Mormon, Dr. Kevin Fenton, Ashley Luke, Landon Chavis, Grant Hudson, Jordyn James and Nyje√© Sykes. 

Eight auditioned Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College singers participated in the All College Choir at the recent Georgia Music Educators Association In-Service Conference in Athens.

The GMEA includes more than 4,100 teachers in the areas of band, orchestra, chorus, general music and piano from elementary to college levels.  
Dr. Susan Roe, head of the ABAC Department of Fine Arts, said the ABAC students performed with other auditioned students from programs across the state. The students also had the chance to view music industry opportunities in business, education, performance, conducting and others. 
ABAC students attending included Shana Mormon, a voice major from Lowndes County; Natalie Shell, a voice major from Cook County; Ashley Luke, a voice major from Worth County; Hope McMillan, a voice major from Irwin County; Grant Hudson, a biology major from Tift County; Jordyn James, a teacher preparation major from Liberty County; Landon Chavis, a music major from Jeff Davis County; and Nyje√© Sykes, a business major from Long County. 
The All College Choir performed under the direction of Dr. Kevin Fenton, professor of choral conducting and ensembles, and director of the Florida State University Singers.

Church Pianist
Position Open

Tifton First United 
Methodist Church

107 W 12th St., Tifton, GA

Tifton First United Methodist Church has an opening for a part-time church pianist. 

The pianist is responsible for preparing for and practicing with the chancel choir, orchestra and ensemble every Wednesday evening for about two hours and for playing at Sunday traditional services at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m., as well at special services.  

Interested persons should contact Angie Carr at


The Farm Again program is hosting a workshop on Wednesday, Feb. 28at the University of Georgia Tifton campus to introduce potential farmers to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs and loans.

This is the first of a series of workshops to be held this spring. UGA Cooperative Extension, within the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences ( CAES), and the Institute on Human Development and Disability ( IHDD), manage Farm Again.

The workshops introduce USDA program components to first-time or small-scale producers, said  Rebecca Brightwell, IHDD associate director. She and Glen Rains, CAES professor, co-direct the Farm Again program.

"We're doing this because we see people encounter big roadblocks. First, people need to understand what's available and how they qualify for it. They also need to solve the problem of not having the resources to successfully grow their operations," Brightwell said. 

During the workshop, experienced farmers serve on a panel and share their experiences with past USDA program applications.

Future Farm Again workshops to be held this spring at UGA-Tifton: "Selling at the Farmers Market" on Tuesday, March 13; "Growing Organic Produce" on Wednesday, April 18; "Tractors 101" on Thursday, April 26; and "Soil 101" on Wednesday, May 16

All workshops last from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Space is limited.  To register for any of the workshops, CLICK HERE!


Approximately 300 citrus farmers from South Georgia and North Florida gathered Monday in Tifton at the 2nd Annual Georgia Citrus Association Conference.

Lindy Savelle, association president, says the citrus crop is doubling in Georgia. In 2016, the state had about 2,100 citrus trees; by the end of 2017, there were about 4,200 trees in the ground.  Savelle said the crop should double in size again this year.

At Monday's conference, farmers heard about how to plant citrus trees as well as how to keep the product growing The conference included break-out sessions for both beginner and advanced growers.


Scoot Dimon, pictured at right brother of Moppy Brumby of Tifton, was the guest speaker at the Rotary Club of Tifton last Wednesday.

Dimon, formerly of Atlanta and now living in Naples, Fla., spoke about his time as a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa during the 1960s.

His talk was part of the Rotary Club's current program theme "Vietnam Era: Reflection, Reconciliation & Respect," noting the various ways folks served during the Vietnam era.

The theme continues Wednesday with guest speaker Capt.  Laurie Croft, U.S. Army - Ambush Patrol.

Clearwater Pools and Spas
1428 N. Tift Ave., Tifton
Feb. 22


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