APRIL 4, 2017
Tifton, Georgia


The National Weather Service (NWS) is forecasting severe weather throughout the Tiftarea on Wednesday, with possible tornadoes and  golf ball-size hail, and many schools will be closed.

The NWS says "strong, long-track tornadoes are possible, along with wind up to 70 mph."

Although rain is expected beginning overnight Tuesday into Wednesday, the most severe weather is anticipated reaching the Tiftarea at about noon Wednesday and continuing into the evening.

"After meeting with our local EMA (emergency management agency) about tomorrow's imminent, severe weather, we have decided to close school for our students on Wednesday," the Tift County School System said in a release Tuesday afternoon.

"Staff will be asked to be at work from 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m. The staff schedule may be changed if the weather warrants it," the school system said.

Much of Georgia, including the Tiftarea, is within the Weather Service's Moderate Risk area, which it says encompasses "a ll modes of severe weather," including possible t ornadoes, "d estructive wind gusts of 70 mph," l arge hail, and rainfall amounts between three quarters and one inch.

Among the closings announced by late Tuesday afternoon are:
  • Tift County schools
  • Tiftarea Academy
  • Turner County schools
  • Worth County schools
  • Cook County schools
  • Chess Academy in Tifton
  • Tifton-Tift County Public Library
  •  Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College
  • Southern Regional Technical College, all campuses
  • UGA Tifton campus
  • USDA Ag Research Service in Tifton
  • Grace Baptist Christian School in Tifton
  • Irwin County schools will dismiss early: Elementary school at 1:15 p.m., high school at 1:30 p.m.
  • Ben Hill County schools will dismiss early: Preschool bus riders at 11:45 a.m., car riders at 11:50 a.m., primary school bus riders at noon, and car riders at 12:20 p.m.; Elementary school bus riders at 12:15 p.m., and car riders at noon; Middle school students at 1:15 p.m.; and High School long-distance bus riders at noon and all other high school students at 1 p.m. 


About 850 people attended t he 52nd Annual Georgia Pecan Growers Association Conference & Trade Show last week in Tifton, some coming from as far away as Oklahoma and New Mexico.

President Jeb Barrow of the Georgia Pecan Growers Association  announced that the GPGA is teaming up with the Georgia Pecan Commission to create an e-commerce platform to market Georgia
Dr. Will Hudson, right, presents Dr. Jim Dutcher with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Georgia Pecan Growers Association. Dutcher retired in January from the UGA College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences Tifton Campus after a 39-year career in entomology. Dutcher was thanked for his research establishing spray rates pecan growers use to apply insecticides and fungicides that control pests and pecan scab.
pecans to Chinese consumers who buy large portions of t
heir food on the Internet.

"It's not about shipping more pecans into China, but to market Georgia pecan products to our Chinese customers," Barrow said. "This is a pilot program and is a true partnership between the Georgia Pecan Commission and Georgia Pecan Growers Association and the Georgia Department of Agriculture as well."

Randy Hudson, president of the U.S. Pecan Growers Council, said his council, which represents all pecan growers across the country, has worked to secure funding through the USDA Market Access Program that has been instrumental in increasing pecan exports.

"Before 2000, less than four percent of pecans in the U.S. were exported and now over 50 percent of U.S. pecan production is exported," Hudson said. "Probably 70 to 80 (percent) of Georgia's pecan production is exported."

But  Bob Redding with the Redding Firm, which represents pecan interests in Washington, D.C., said all exports are not equal.

"We still have trade issues with India. Pecans going into India have a 35 percent tariff rate whereas almonds, walnuts and pistachios only have a 10 percent rate," Redding said.

The American Pecan Council (APC) said that growers in the 15-state pecan growing region want the APC to focus on  increasing domestic pecan consumption. 

"We want pecans to be seen as America's nut that will be recognized as a premium product that commands a premium price based on health, taste, quality and overall experience," said  Mike Adams, APC chairman.


Malcom Mitchell, wide receiver for the Super Bowl-champion New England Patriots of the National Football League, spent Friday morning with students at  Northside Primary School in Tifton to encourage them to "d iscover the magic of reading."
NFL's Mitchell at Northside Primary.

He was there to share his program, "Read with Malcom, a Lifetime of Learning." Mitchell read to the students from his book, "The Magician's Hat." 

Mitchell, a Valdosta native and an Under Armour All-American while playing football at Valdosta High, discovered his love for reading while attending the University of Georgia. His athletic success has given him a platform to share his reading passion with children, telling them how reading opens new worlds and can help them achieve their dreams.

After his freshman year at UGA, Mitchell realized that he needed to work on his reading to improve his academic game and began reading everything he could find. His inspirational story, which won the College Sports Media Awards' Outstanding Special Feature, has been featured nationally on the CBS Evening News, ESPN and USA Today, and has been used by many schools as encouragement for students to embrace the importance of books.

When he is not practicing or playing football, Mitchell can be found in elementary school classrooms across Georgia reading to children.

During his visit, each Northside student received a copy of Mitchell's book, thanks to the Tift County Foundation for Educational Excellence, which contributed $500 for that purpose. The Foundation is promoting Tifton to become the "Read Aloud Capital of the World," encouraging adults to read aloud to children as well as children to read aloud to other children.

Students at Northside Primary follow along as Mitchell reads from his book, 'The Magician's Hat.'


The Thrash Wellness Center opened its doors last week at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College.  Students, faculty and staff may use the modern exercise equipment to stay healthy in the renovated Thrash Gymnasium. Named for Joseph M. Thrash, a former professor at the Second District Agricultural and Mechanical School (ABAC's first incarnation), the building was constructed in 1939.


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Craig Sowell of the Recreation Department speaks Monday at the Pinwheel Ceremony.


April is national Child Abuse Prevention Month, and the Tift County Council on Child Abuse began the month with its annual Pinwheel Ceremony on Monday outside the Tift County Recreation Department.

In 2016, 567 children were reported suffering from some form of child abuse or neglect in Tift County. Each pinwheel represents one of those children.

Billy Jones of The Patticake House was the guest speaker at the event. 

Also, at Monday's Tifton City Council workshop meeting, Mayor Julie Smith proclaimed April as "Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month" in the city.

The Exchange Club of Tifton is seeking nominees for its 64th annual awarding of the Book of Golden Deeds.

The Golden Deeds Award recognizes dedicated community volunteers who give endless hours of their time and talents toward making their communities better. It is the longest running project of the Exchange Club of Tifton and the National Exchange Club.  
"This is quite a big honor for a Tiftonite," says Regenia Wells, co-chairman of the program. "They will join an elite group of individuals that have helped to make Tifton what it is today." 
Wells says a nomination letter(s) by friends, family or co-workers is needed. It's best when the letter is from an individual, instead of a group. The letter should include information about how the nominated individual is helping people and programs in the community.

Deadline for sending nomination letters is April 14.  Letters should be mailed to the Exchange Club of Tifton, P. O. Box 1621, Tifton, GA 31793. 
The recipient will be honored at the annual Golden Deeds banquet on Monday, May 1. For information, call Angela Elder at 229-386-0216.


Christian recording artist Lindsay Huggins will bring her music and ministry to Tifton at 6 p.m. Sunday, April 9, at First Church of the Nazarene, 3024 Tift Ave N. 
Huggins, an award-winning soloist, will perform a worship concert with classic hymns and new songs of praise in her inspirational country style. The concert will feature music from her latest album, "Then Jesus Came," including the radio hits "Praying Women" and "Nothing He Can't Redeem." 
The event is free and open to the public; a love offering will be accepted. 

Huggins has worked with country music star Reba McEntire. Feeling called to music ministry, Huggins stepped out in faith to pursue her passion fulltime. The Georgia native makes her home in the Nashville, Tenn., area. 

For information on her visit, call First Church of the Nazarene at 229-402-6595.

Huggins will also be part of the  Southeastern Southern Gospel Music Convention on  April 7-8 in Tifton.


The grand opening of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce's first regional office will take place on Monday, May 15, from 6-8 p.m. at 1001 Love Ave. in Tifton.

This will be the first office open outside of Atlanta in the Georgia Chamber's 102-year history. It will serve all of South Georgia from the former Georgia Power Co. building in Tifton.

Then, on the following day, May 16, from 7:30-9 a.m., the Georgia Chamber will host a 2017 State of the Region event at the new regional office. The event is part of a statewide, 15-city tour featuring Georgia Chamber President and CEO Chris Clark. The program will review key outcomes from the 2017 legislative session, highlight current Chamber initiatives and provide an update on issues that are important to the state's business community.


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