Tuesday, June 18, 2019
Tifton, Georgia
GrapeNew
TIFTON CREATES REDEVELOPMENT AGENCY
CITY COUNCIL ALSO OK's NEW CITY BUDGET
Tifton City Council on Monday formally created the Tifton Urban Redevelopment Agency , whose initial focus will be on the greater South Tifton area, and also approved the $43 million city budget for the upcoming fiscal year .

City officials have been working with South Tifton residents on a redevelopment project for several years. The city had commissioned a study on the area which pinpointed the needs for affordable residential housing, property investment , improvement of blighted areas, sustainable redevelopment , and preservation of cultural assets .

The neighborhoods surrounding Matt Wilson Elementary School are among the first areas to be addressed .

Council appointed members to the Urban Redevelopment Agency (URA), naming Vivian Hightower as chairman, Curtis Akins as vice-chairman, and Major Battle, Abbey McLaren, Michael Bowen, Tyler Riddle, and M. Jay Hall as the remaining members.

Bruce Green , who just completed a stint as interim economic development director for the Tifton Main Street program and the Downtown Development Authority , was appointed as interim URA director .

Green said the URA will be focusing on the " toughest problems the city is going to face in that area." Mayor Julie Smith noted the importance of the project to the whole city . Councilman Frank Sayles Jr. added that the city is "only as strong as its weakest link " and that the south side of town has "been neglected" for too long .

Regarding the $43,032,546 city budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 , City Council made a last-minute revision to give a $20,000 increase to the Tifton-Tift County Public Library , which the Library Board had sought. Sayles noted that it is the city's first increase to the library's funding in nearly a decade .

The budget also includes a 1 percent pay hike for all city employees . The balanced budget contains no increases in taxes or fees .
HIGHWAY 41 HOTEL-RETAIL PROJECT UNDERWAY
A formal groundbreaking was held Monday morning for the Tifton North Development project on Highway 41 North .

The 12.19-acre development near the University of Georgia Tifton campus will be anchored by a Courtyard by Marriott hotel along with several retail establishments, including Stripling's Country Store, Chicken Salad Chick and Ace Hardware .

John and Michael Bowen  of 31 North Capital Partners , which is developing the project , were joined at the groundbreaking by community leaders, elected officials and friends and family members.
ABAC PRESENTS FIRST 'PINKY' DURHAM SCHOLARSHIP TO A VETERAN
Charles Crosby from Tifton is the first recipient of the Harold Bascom “Pinky” Durham Jr. Endowed Scholarship at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College .

Created by Durham's family and friends , the scholarship supports military veteran students

Durham was an ABAC alumnus who was killed in Vietnam while serving in the U.S. Army . For his heroism on the battlefield , he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

Dr. Deidre Martin , ABAC’s chief development officer, said ABAC students who receive this scholarship must possess the qualities Durham embodied such as courage, sacrifice, devotion and duty.

Pinky Durham would be proud to know that Charles Crosby is receiving a scholarship in his name.  Charles is a worthy recipient of this scholarship, having served in the military with distinction ,” said Stephen M. Orlofsky , one of Durham’s classmates in Officer Candidate School .

Crosby, pictured standing next to a photo of Durham, is an Army National Guard retiree who served in Iraq . He received his associate degree in nursing from ABAC in May and is pursuing a bachelor’s in nursing at ABAC. His goal is to become a nurse practitioner and practice in rural South Georgia.

Durham’s life is captured in the Freedom Gallery exhibit in ABAC's Tift Hall . His Medal of Honor is the display's centerpiece .
FORMER DOUGHERTY COMMISSIONER NAMED SYLVESTER CITY MANAGER
Sylvester has a new city manager .

John Hayes , who, until recently, served on the Dougherty County Commission , will take the city's reins effective July 1 . Hayes has been given a two-year contract .

He served 13 years on the Dougherty County Commission in Albany , leaving office at the beginning of this year .
SOUTHWELL BOULEVARD ROAD WORK WILL CAUSE TEMPORARY DETOURS
Heavy trucks braking and idling have damaged asphalt at the intersection of Tift County State Route (SR) 7 and Southwell Boulevard – a problem that's about to be solved with concrete .

Ruts in the wheel paths and cracks in the asphalt repeatedly form at the intersection , which gets a large volume of truck traffic to Love's Travel Stop and the industrial park. Concrete holds up well under these conditions, so the Ga. Department of Transportation has awarded a contract to replace the asphalt with nine inches of concrete .

Work is expected to begin by the end of the month .

The intersection will not close but traffic will shift as needed so motorists should expect lane closures and delays . Contractor Precision 2000 Inc. plans to remove asphalt during the day , a process known as milling , and pour concrete at night when it is cooler. The concrete must cure to strengthen before traffic is shifted onto it. Concrete will be poured on all lanes immediately east, west, north and south of the intersection.

Southwell Boulevard from SR 7 going east to Vernon Drive will be closed for the duration of the work , which could take two weeks , depending on weather. Traffic will be routed onto SR 7, SR 125, and Vernon Drive and detour signs will be posted.

The Southwell Boulevard at SR 7 intersection asphalt approaches will also be milled and resurfaced to smoothly tie in to the concrete . Traffic will not be detoured for the asphalt work, but will shift as needed.
GEORGIA'S WATERMELON CROP 'OUTSTANDING'
This year's watermelon crop in Georgia looks " outstanding ," says the Georgia Watermelon Association (GWA).

Growers report that after two years of unpredictable and extreme weather patterns, this growing season has been smooth . While initial reports show overall acreage for Georgia are down , the yields and quality are up .

“The weather for this year’s growing season has been good ,” said GWA President Rob Greene of Lime Creek Farms in Arabi .

Planting for Georgia’s watermelon crop begins in March . From planting to harvest, watermelons typically need 90 days to grow, ripen and be ready for harvest . With more than 18,000 acres of watermelon harvested on average each year, Georgia ranks in the nation's top 4 in production  among Texas, Florida and California
HOUSE OF HOPE HAS BOSTON BUTT FUNDRAISER
The Tiftarea House of Hope is holding a Boston Butt Fundraiser for the Fourth of July.

The Boston butts are $35 each; pickup will be from 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Wednesday, July 3 , at the Bird's Nest Thrift Store at 345 Commerce Way in Tifton .

For information , call 229-386-9300 .

The Tiftarea House of Hope's mission is to improve the lives of homeless women by providing, in addition to the basic needs of food and shelter , life/job skills training , GED help, and Bible studies , enabling them to achieve greater independence and self-sufficiency .
UNITED WAY OFFERING COMMUNITY IMPACT GRANTS
Nonprofit organizations seeking a Community Impact Grant from the United Way of South Central Georgia must attend a meeting about the process at 11 a.m. Thursday, June 20 , at the United Way office, 211 4th St. in Tifton .

Registration begins at 10:30 a.m. An agency representative must be present to receive a 2020 application . No more than two people per organization are allowed to attend.

Community Impact grants are how the United Way invests local dollars to address specified community-centered issues . Funding decisions are made through an annual competitive application process

The grants are awarded to high-performing nonprofit organizations that provide programs and services aligned with the local United Way's three strategic priority areas: Education , financial stability and health .

Awardees help to improve community conditions the five counties
served by the United Way of South Central Georgia : Ben Hill, Cook, Irwin, Tift and Turner .

For information , email PatMcKinnon@uway-socenga.org
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