Friday, December 11, 2020
Tifton, Georgia
From left, back row, at Tift County High are Fred Rayfield, Career, Technical & Agricultural Education (CTAE) director; Principal Chad Stone; Mickey Bentley, CTAE construction teacher and Incentive Grant recipient; Kaylar Howard, president of the Tift County Foundation for Educational Excellence (TCFEE); and Laura Cutts, TCFEE Incentive Grants chair. In front are students Zachery Gillespie and Charles Bryan.
Tifton Grapevine
The Tift County Foundation for Educational Excellence (TCFEE) this week awarded a total of $17,374 in Incentive Grants to nine teacher projects at six Tift County schools.

TCFEE President Kaylar Howard and Executive Committee member Laura Cutts delivered the grants, designed to encourage and allow outstanding teachers to put their best ideas into practice in the classroom.

A committee annually reviews the grant applications and makes the awards, primarily funded through investment income earned from TCFEE Chairs" endowed through the years.

The foundations first Incentive Grant was presented in 1990. Through the years, 748 grants for a total of $546,374 have been provided by the TCFEE.

This year's grant recipients are:

  • Belinda Griffin, Annie Belle Clark Elementary, $6,537, “Virtual Reality Headsets,” funded from the Virginia Short Lindskog Language Chair, the Syd Blackmarr Arts Chair, and the Virginia Tift Brumby Music Chair.

  • Selena Johns, Annie Belle Clark Elementary, $189 (partial), “LED Board Scrolling Sign,” Joe Courson Media Chair.

  • Teresa Yancey, Annie Belle Clark Elementary, $200, “Adopt-a-Pet Reading Initiative," funded by the Julian Cannon Reading Skills Chair, the Cathy Kvien Family Reading Chair, and the Teri Nalls Reading Angel Chair.

  • Ginger Harn, Charles Spencer Elementary, $3,000, "Robotics Club Funding: Sphero BOLT Power Pack," Mikie Wolff Humanities Chair.

  • C. Greer. J. Judy, J. Nixon, K. Bristol, and I. Ruhlen, Len Lastinger Elementary, $697.94, "Materials for Science & Social Studies: Microphones for Reader's Theatre," Homer Rankin Journalism Chair.

  • Whitney Ratliff Turner, Northside Elementary, $3,000 (partial), "Educational Gaming: Nintendo Labo Devices and Kits," Bob Wight Challenge Chair.

  • Ashlyn Reaves, Northeast Middle School, $1,200, "AG Mechanics Tools & Greenhouse for FFA & Agricultural Classes," William & Hattie Hanna Agriculture Chair.

  • Mickey Bentley, Tift County High, $2,000, "Utility House Construction Funding, Sara Bowen Gibbs Mathematics Chair.

  • Melissa Busbin, Tift County High, $550, "Snap Circuits for Teaching Logic Games," Glenn W. Burton Science Chair.
Tifton Grapevine
As coronavirus cases rise in South Georgia, some nearby localities have announced actions in response.

The City of Albany this week has reinstated its public mask ordinance, and Valdosta City Schools announced that it is going fully virtual beginning Monday because of a spike in COVID-19 cases.

In Tift, the county continues in the Red Zone with a dramatic surge in coronavirus cases. The Ga. Department of Public Health (DPH) said Thursday that Tift County has seen 151 new COVID-19 cases in the past week, and 297 during the past 14 days; that translates to 727 new cases per 100,000 population in the past two weeks.

Tift County Schools spokesman Jonathan Judy said Thursday that the local school system is continuing to “follow guidance of the DPH in relation to our response to COVID-19. At this time, our schedule remains unchanged, and we will release students for Christmas break midday Dec. 18."

The Tift school system releases its coronavirus report each Friday. In its most recent figures, released last Friday, there were 30 students with a positive test result and 297 students quarantined for possible exposure. Thirty employees also tested positive, and 77 employees were quarantined.

The virus has prompted the cancellation of the 11th Annual McDonald’s Tifton Invitational basketball tournament, which usually attracts high school teams from across Georgia and the Southeast.

The tourney's organizers said they are canceling because of “a steady and unchecked rise in COVID-19 cases in Tifton." Tournament chair Joyce Danford and title sponsor Wendell Morgan of McDonald’s said canceling the tournament was the only way to ensure the safety of the teams, the fans and volunteers.

The tournament had been scheduled for Dec. 29 and 30 at Tift County High School.

Tift County’s coronavirus surge also prompted some churches to return to fully virtual services last Sunday, including First United Methodist and First Baptist churches in Tifton.

State health officials continue to list Tift as a “high-transmission county” for the virus; a high-transmission county has a 14-day case rate of more than 100 cases for 100,000 county residents and an average of more than 10 percent in positive test results during that two-week period.

In the past 14 days, Tift County's test positivity rate was 18 percent.

Since the pandemic began, Tift has recorded 2,534 positive cases and 69 deaths.
Brian Brown's photo of this old Sunsweet mill and store in Tift County is representative of his work chronicling vanishing South Georgia sites and architecture. On his website, Brown said, "Oliver Davis owned this old mill and the store in Sunsweet. I made this photo in 2011 and recently learned that it collapsed sometime in 2013."
Tifton Grapevine
Brian Brown of Fitzgerald, a photographer and historian, is one of 10 Georgians who Gov. Brian P. Kemp is honoring this year with a Governor’s Award for the Arts and Humanities.

Brown began casually photographing old barns and endangered farmhouses in South Georgia in 1998 and started a formal archive in 2008.

According to the Georgia Council for the Arts, Brown's "digitally based 'Vanishing Georgia' project is a testament to his interests in photography and history. Since 2008, he has documented over 7,000 locations and maintains an ongoing archive approaching 150,000 images. It is his hope that growing knowledge of the places he documents will educate Georgians of our shared rural heritage."

His work has been utilized by such organizations as the Smithsonian Institution, Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, UGA Carl Vinson Institute of Government, Georgia Music Foundation, Georgia Conservancy and Altamaha Riverkeeper.

The Governor’s Awards for the Arts and Humanities honor individuals and organizations who have made significant contributions to Georgia’s civic and cultural vitality through excellence and service to the arts and humanities. Presented by the Office of the Governor in partnership with the Georgia Council for the Arts and Georgia Humanities, the award recognizes the value of the arts and humanities in the creation of a thriving economy and their contributions to education, innovation, growth and quality of life.

To watch a video highlighting each of this year's recipients, click the image below:
Tifton Grapevine
Tourism has been impacted tremendously with the pandemic,” Tyron Spearman, executive director of the Tifton-Tift County Tourism Association, told the Tifton Rotary Club on Wednesday.

But at the same time, he described a rosy future for the local industry.
New hotel/motel rooms coming to Tifton include 93 rooms at the La Quinta Inn on U.S. Highway 82, 90 rooms at the Home2 Suites by Hilton near Prince Chevrolet, and more than 100 rooms at a new Wyndham hotel on North 41. 
“This will bring us to almost 1,500 rooms in Tifton,” Spearman said.

He also noted that "we are moving from a 5 percent tax on motel rooms to 7 percent,” and that, for the first time, a portion of that tax is required to go to product development

“Now, we can do some bricks-and-mortar improvements to attract people,” he said.
He anticipates finishing E.B. Hamilton and Friendly City parks and upgrading Fulwood Park – adding more power stations and water hookups for vendors coming to park events such as the Rhythm & Ribs BBQ Festival in March.

Spearman said that he and his staff are attending more trade shows to help attract more people to Tifton, especially to the UGA Campus Conference Center, for events.

“We’re competing with the beach – Panama City Beach and Jekyll Island – and also more locally with the Valdosta Conference Center.”

Upcoming tourism events include a bridal show in February and the Tiftarea Celebration with Will Graham at the Conference Center on Feb. 6-7.

Spearman also mentioned the move of his Spearman Agency office to a location at 148 S. Ridge Ave., which has a new tourism shop in front.
Details were few on Thursday but apparently four people had been shot on 17 1/2 Street near Matt Wilson Elementary School, authorities said.

Law enforcement personnel were still on the scene late in the day, and and the elementary school "out of an abundance of caution," had been "placed on a soft lockdown due to a situation that occurred in the neighborhood around the school," the Tift County School System said on social media.

The victims had been taken to local hospitals but no other details were available late Thursday.
First Choice
(formerly Pregnancy Care Center of Tiftarea)
209 4th Street East, Tifton
Dec. 3
Paul Willis, executive vice president for finance and administration and chief of staff at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, will retire Jan. 29.

“I feel like it’s time,” Willis said. “I’d like to do a little traveling to see some friends and former students, people we have had relationships with during the 38 years I have spent in higher education.”

Willis’ wife, Shari, plans to retire from the Southwell medical community later this month.

“We plan to continue to live in Tifton,” Willis said. “We really like it here, and it’s a good pivot point for places we want to go.”

ABAC President David Bridges said Willis has been vital to the college's success.

“Paul has transformed every area of ABAC in which he has worked,” Bridges said. “His business acumen coupled with his people and management skills have enabled him to take seemingly impossible assignments and create success stories.”

Willis joined the ABAC administration in 2009 as college enrichment director. ABAC took over the operation of the former Georgia Agrirama in 2010, and Bridges selected Willis as director of the newly named Georgia Museum of Agriculture and Historic Village.

In 2012, Willis became vice president for external affairs. In 2014, Willis took the reins as vice president for finance and operations, and moved up to executive vice president and chief of staff in 2018. He previously served 26 years in teaching and administration at the University of Florida.

Showing Their

Michael Williamson, from left, of TWG Services, and Julie Williamson, present a donation to Tift Regional Medical Center/Southwell representatives Alex Le and Justin Beck. The $5,000 donation is through the Georgia HEART program.


TWG Services made a $5,000 donation on Wednesday to Tift Regional Medical Center (TRMC) through the Georgia HEART program

“We are so grateful for this generous contribution,” said Alex Le, TRMC chief operating officer. “We appreciate the kind and thoughtful gesture from TWG Services, especially during the holiday season.” 

“We are so grateful for all of the people that provide health care at Southwell,” said Michael Williamson with TWG Services. “In these extraordinary times, they have gone beyond the call of duty in serving our community. We believe a strong medical presence in the Tifton area is a major economic engine for the region, and health care for our community is vital to our quality of life.

The Georgia HEART program provides an excellent way for us to support our hospital. It’s a great honor to invest in the continued growth of healthcare services in our hometown.”

Donations made to TRMC through the Georgia HEART program qualify for a 100 percent state tax credit.

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This dog is currently on stray hold at the Tift County Animal Shelter. If not reclaimed, will be available for adoption or rescue at the Animal Shelter, located at 278 Georgia Highway 125 S. It 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  

  • Red Cross Blood Drive, 12:30 p.m., Tifton Mall, Virginia Avenue
  • Christmas in the Pines Lighted Trail, 6 p.m., Lake Blackshear Resort, Cordele

  • Second Harvest Food Distribution, 7;30 a.m., Tift County High School (enter from New River Church Road, right turn only), Tifton
  • Christmas in the Pines Lighted Trail, 6 p.m., Lake Blackshear Resort, Cordele

Each Friday, area yard sales can be
advertised in this space to reach
thousands of local residents!
Fees are $1 per word, paid in advance
DEC. 3
Royce J. Scarborough, 57, Tifton
Armando Hernandez, 42, Tifton

DEC. 4
Arlene D. Hutto, 78, Fitzgerald
Sandra Cobb Law, 73, Fitzgerald
Joan Elaine (Schooler) Hedges, 72, Ashburn
Andrew Thomas III, 51, Nashville

DEC. 5
Dr. Ralph Avery Leonard, 83, Tifton
Betty Carolyn Matthews Bowen, 92, Tifton and Peachtree City
Mary L. Johnson, Tifton
Jo Ann Selph, 72, Tifton
Paul Herndon, 77, Ocilla
William Dracey Keith, 19, Nashville
Richard Wayne “Ricky” Lane, 63, Nashville

DEC. 6
Dianne During Chandler, 63, Fitzgerald
Gwendolyn “Gwen” Barber Ingle, 81, Ocilla
Robert Benjamin Vickers, 47, Adel

DEC. 7
John Sanford “Sandy” Sims Jr., 84, Tifton
Mary Virginia “Tweety” Lupo Barnes, 76, Enigma
Cheryl Lynn Barnard, 64, Nashville

DEC. 8
John Will McGill Sr., 76, Tifton
Bobby Gene Odom, 82, Poulan
Patsy Rowan Purvis, 83, Lenox

DEC. 9
Wilbur C. Reed, 80, Adel
Willa Mae “Coot” Stone, 79, Nashville
DEC. 10
Joyce Rowe Satterfield, 82, Irwin County

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Tifton Grapevine
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