Friday, April 2, 2021
Tifton, Georgia
Tifton Grapevine
Joe Lewis is a man on a mission, but that’s nothing new.

Since growing up poor in the 1940s and ‘50s on a Mississippi farm without electricity or running water to a father who could not read or write, Lewis has been driven to
understand how the world works, to understand our place in nature, and to understand how all living things are connected.

After a prominent 40-year career as a research entomologist in Tifton, after winning international accolades for his scientific discoveries, after a political career with service on Tifton City Council and as vice mayor, Dr. W. Joe Lewis of Tifton is retired.

But he is still on a mission. He has just written a book that is part memoir, part call to action about the world's need to reconnect to nature before it's too late.

"A New Farm Language: How a sharecropper's son discovered a world of talking plants, smart insects, and natural solutions” is published by Acres USA, an eco-agriculture publisher. Lewis is holding a book signing from 4-6 p.m. May 1, on the outdoor terrace behind Giggles Cafe in Downtown Tifton.

In a recent interview, Lewis said his book is actually “a story within a story ... some people are interested in my upbringing, interested in the flavor of small farm life; and others like the sustainable agriculture argument."

He readily acknowledges that “I grew up quite different than most folks I know; we were embedded in nature.” His family were sharecroppers. Their cash crop was five acres of cotton “all done by hand” and by one farm mule.

“We grew our own food,” Lewis said. He lived “close to nature” – “With no modern conveniences, you learn the language of nature. When you don’t have any lights, it's dark when the sun goes down. We never have a situation now when you’re completely in the sound of nature."
In the early 1950s, agriculture began changing, Lewis said, with big farm operations and the use of more modern farming tools and pesticides. While many of the changes made farming easier, “we’ve lost a lot, too, with modern conveniences,” Lewis said. “There has been a growing disconnect with nature. I’ve seen it first hand."

“We now feel that we can control nature; it’s a game without an end, and we’ve created a treadmill."

Lewis said there is a homogeneity in agriculture and in modern life nowadays. He noted that you can get the exact same chain-restaurant meal in Tifton that you can get in Seattle, and that the average meal you have at home “traveled about 1,500 miles to get to your table,” rather than being totally produced locally, as was the case not too many decades ago.

And big farming operations are sometimes treating all crops with pesticide when only some plants within a crop need it. “Pesticides are wonderful tools, but you have to use them discriminately. They should be used as a ’second tier;' don’t make it the ‘first team.’"

Lewis said that “plants only produce responses to defend themselves when they need it. Now, we treat every plant. In that situation, you’re going to get resistance."

“There is a natural balance,” he explained. “We’ve got to shift back to a new farm language, understanding the built-in power of natural solutions and using them for sustainable agriculture."

He sees the growing disconnect to nature as our greatest threat to survival. “Will we make the shift or not?” he asks. “I guess I’m an eternal optimist. I’m encouraged, but I have concerns."
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Frankly Speaking...
We have had a trying year. We have faced being isolated from others. We have had friends and family members become ill and sometimes die from the virus affecting the entire world. Some of us have also become ill and have had our own personal struggles.

But in this season of hope and renewal, we can know that better days are ahead. 

Perhaps the pandemic has prompted more praying, many silent prayers, across our world. There is power in prayer. Prayer is real, and we should never forget that miracles can and do occur. They are before us every day if we only open our eyes and our heart.

We must have faith in the future. In this season, we see the world in bloom once again. Hope returns; life is renewed.

There will still be strife and hardships before us, for that is forever part of living. But we can know that storms one day subside, and the sun breaks triumphantly through the clouds. There is much for which to be hopeful.

Desmond Tutu once said, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”

As we go into a new day, even though darkness may be visible, know that light is always and forever ahead of us.
–FRANK SAYLES JR.. Tifton Grapevine
Downtown Tifton
The U.S. Department of Justice announced Wednesday that it has filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia seeking to bar a Tifton tax-return preparer from preparing tax returns for others.

The civil suit against Alicia Coarsey, also known as Meredith Coarsey, and Tax Xpress of Tifton at 300 S. College Ave., alleges that Coarsey owns Tax Xpress and prepared federal individual income tax returns claiming fabricated medical expenses and charitable contributions.

In addition, according to the complaint, Coarsey fabricated claimed business losses, in some cases for non-existent businesses, in order to claim improper earned income tax credits. As one example, the complaint alleges that she claimed more than $19,000 in medical deductions for tax year 2019 for one customer, who has since stated that he did not have significant medical expenses in that year.

The complaint further alleges that returns that Coarsey prepared use bogus claims to falsely understate her customers’ tax liabilities and inflate their refund claims. According to the complaint, the United States has likely lost millions of dollars in tax revenue as a result.

"I haven't been served anything about this," Coarsey told the Tifton Grapevine on Friday morning.

Acting Assistant Attorney General David A. Hubbert of the Justice Department’s Tax Division made the announcement of the civil suit. In the past decade, the Tax Division said, it has obtained injunctions against hundreds of unscrupulous tax preparers.
Tifton Grapevine
Mirroring the state, Tift County’s average daily cases of
COVID-19 are showing a slight uptick, according to data from state health officials.

Tift County now has 11 average daily cases after hitting a recent low of 3.2 average daily cases per 100,000 population on March 22, according to Emory University data.

During the past week, Tift has recorded 10 new cases of COVID-19 and a total of 12 in the past two weeks, according to the Ga. Department of Public Health (DPH).

Tift County's new cases translate to 29 per 100,000 population, the DPH said. The county’s positive testing rate during the two-week period is 3.7%.

Since the pandemic began, Tift has reported 3,396 cases with 94 deaths.

On Thursday, Georgia reported 945 new cases with 60 additional deaths and 98 new hospitalizations. The state has had a total of 853,273 cases and 16,664 related deaths, the DPH said.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously ruled in Georgia’s favor in a long-running lawsuit filed by Florida over access to water in the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers.

In an opinion by Justice Amy Coney Barrett in Florida v. Georgia, the court rejected Florida’s request for an order requiring Georgia to reduce its use of water in the Apalachicola River Basin.

Florida filed the suit in 2013, claiming that Georgia overuses water from the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers, which feed into the Apalachicola River in Florida, ultimately winding up in Apalachicola Bay, where a large part of Florida’s oyster production occurs.

Florida initially blamed Metro Atlanta, which draws water from Lake Lanier, fed by the Chattahoochee, but later directed blame at farms in Southwest Georgia that use water from the Flint River for irrigation.

Florida asked the court to place severe water-use restrictions on Georgia that the Peach State said would have caused economic harm to Southwest Georgia farms and surrounding communities.

Florida said Georgia’s use resulted in lower water flows, causing increased salinity and resulting in economic damage to the oyster industry.

Georgia Farm Bureau is pleased with the Supreme Court’s ruling in Georgia’s favor ... . Farmers in Southwest Georgia could have been devastated by the severe restrictions Florida proposed,” said Georgia Farm Bureau President Tom McCall.

“The state of Georgia and Georgia farmers have implemented numerous water conservation measures in the past 25 years that preserve water and minimize the amount of water Georgia farmers use to grow their crops. We think the Supreme Court recognized this with its ruling."

Georgia maintained that the problems with the oysters were the result of overfishing rather than from Georgia’s water use.
Tifton Police Detective Allison Gann, at right, recently met all requirements for being promoted to Senior Police Officer through the Tifton Police Department's Career Pathway Program.

In the photo, Police Chief Steve Hyman presents Gann her certificate of accomplishment.
A team from First Baptist Church of Tifton cooks a hot breakfast for the staff and National Guard soldiers handling each food distribution that the Second Harvest of South Georgia food bank conducts in Tifton.

Before dawn this past Saturday, church members Bill Moore, pictured from left, Adam Dukes, April Dukes, Michael Dukes, and, standing in the back wearing a mask, Charlie Taylor provided breakfast.

"They really love cooking and enjoy serving others," said the Rev. Wayne Roe, First Baptist's pastor.

Second Harvest will hold its next free food distribution in Tifton beginning at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, April 17, at the Ga. Museum of Agriculture.
ABAC graduate Emily Sutton, right, works at Mary Persons High School in Monroe where she is completing her student teaching. 
ABAC's Department of Agricultural Education and Communication is hoping to combat the shortage of agricultural educators in Georgia, and has teamed with the Ga. Professional Standards Commission for a one-year teaching certification program for agricultural education. 
Dr. Frank Flanders, coordinator of the program at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, said the post-baccalaureate teacher certification program is targeted toward students who have completed or are in the process of completing a bachelor of science degree in any area of agriculture. 

“This program is one of the quickest to complete and one of the most inexpensive for students,” Flanders said. “It contains all the recommended coursework for a beginning teacher.”

Students enrolled in the certification program will be on the ABAC campus for a fall semester to take education classes, pedagogy and instruction, community development, and agricultural education practicum courses. In the spring, students are placed with an experienced agricultural educator in a Georgia public school.

Dr. Andrew Thoron, department head of agricultural education and communication, said the program helps Georgia close the gap in the agriculture teacher shortage

“This is how ABAC offers an additional path to traditional agriculture teacher certification,” Thoron said. “In our traditional program, we have been preparing over 30 new teachers annually, and it is the biggest program in the state.”
Tifton Grapevine
Stanton Moore, local director of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, told the Tifton Rotary Club on Wednesday that 85 percent of students under age 18 have no father in the home. He said 1.2 million millennials are walking away from church.
“Since the pandemic started over a year ago, one out of three believers have left church and have never watched an online service,” he said. “What the Fellowship of Christian Athletes does is essential. FCA is often the last avenue to get the Gospel message to students, teachers, coaches and administrators. 

“FCA can be the only hope for our students. One student who gives his life over to Christ can change a class. One city can change a state, and one state can change a nation.” 
Moore said he is welcomed by coaches here in South Georgia. “I go in locker rooms and on the fields. We pray before every game,” he said. Moore was a student athlete himself and it helps him relate to the students and coaches.

FCA is an international non-profit Christian sports ministry founded in 1954 and based in Kansas City, Mo. It has staff offices located throughout the United States and abroad. Moore’s office serves Tift County Middle and High School, Tiftarea Academy, and Fitzgerald High. He meets with high school coaches two to three times a week. 

“Coach Julie Conner leads a huddle at 7:30 a.m. every Tuesday,” he said. “High schoolers meet every week, and middle schoolers meet the last Friday of every month.” 

The local office is organizing a fundraising golf tournament for 9 a.m. Saturday, April 10, at Spring Hill Country Club. Funds go to FCA headquarters, but they come back in the form of covering costs locally, such as dinners for athletes and sending kids to camp.
The Coastal Plain Area Economic Opportunity Authority (EOA) is accepting appointments through April 30 to provide assistance with cooling residences of eligible Georgians age 65 and older.

The EOA will be accepting appointment calls from the general population beginning May 3 until all appointment slots have been filled.

All appointments can be made by telephone or internet access: 229-351-4936, or by Clicking Here!

Sign-up has begun for Ben Hill, Berrien, Brooks, Cook, Echols, Lanier, Lowndes, Tift, Turner and Irwin counties. All applicants must bring several items to the appointment in order to be seen:
  • For all household members who are 18 or older: Proof of income for all household members of the past 30 days.
  • Social Security cards for each person in the household.
  • Current month's heating bill (electric, gas, propane) for the household.
  • Current/valid proof of citizenship or legal immigrant status (state-issued picture identification such as driver's license, ID card, voter registration card, passport, military ID, etc.)
  • If receiving SSI, Social Security, pension, VA benefits or worker's compensation, the 2020 award letter is required. Bank statements are accepted for Social Security only.
The Georgia Peanut Commission (GPC) board of directors has approved $886,235 in research project funding for the 2021-22 research budget year.

The research projects include 42 project proposals submitted from the University of Georgia, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, Fort Valley State University and the USDA Agricultural Research Service.

"As a peanut grower, I'm proud to invest in the Georgia Peanut Commission and in the future of the peanut industry by supporting research that continues to demonstrate a return on our investment," said Donald Chase, GPC Research Committee chairman.

"We are proud of our partnership with research institutions and look forward to seeing the results which will benefit farmers in the state and the entire peanut industry."

Georgia's peanut growers invest $2 per ton annually toward GPC programs, which includes research, promotion and education. The research programs primarily focus on peanut breeding, conservation methods, irrigation and water management, as well as, pests, weed and disease management.

To see the list of research projects approved for funding, Click Here!
Horseman Press, operated by students at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College and Georgia's only student-staffed undergraduate teaching press, is celebrating its inaugural publication.

The students have published a new edition of Sarah Barnwell Elliott's 1891 bestseller "Jerry," a novel of corruption and betrayal in the American West.

A public book launch is scheduled for 3 p.m., Thursday, April 15, at the Georgia Museum of Agriculture & Historic Village. Dr. Rachael Price, ABAC assistant professor of English, will discuss Elliott's career and legacy; copies of the book will be available for purchase.

The Horseman Press involves students in "The Publishing Process" English class at ABAC.
Horseman Press's first title is a new scholarly edition of Elliot's novel, originally published in book form in 1891 after a wildly successful serialization in Scribner’s magazine.

“Jerry" tells the story of a poor boy from the Tennessee mountains who heads west for a new life after the death of his mother, only to find himself face to face with the corruption of the Gilded Age.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, at one time “nearly every literate American had read ‘Jerry,' or heard about it from subscribers to Scribner's magazine."

The title has long been out of print. This new edition is designed, typeset and marketed by ABAC students.
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"Mitzi" is ready for her new home. She can be adopted at the Tift County Animal Shelter, located on Highway 125 S. The shelter 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  
Paul Herndon, 77, Ocilla
Alma P. Grier, 69, Moultrie
Troy Breman Griner Jr., 64, Alapaha
T. Vance Ross, 82, Fitzgerald
Betty Cox, 88, Tifton

Gwendolyn Nan Barnes Eason, 83, Tifton
Gene Raburn Bryant, 75, Ocilla
Evelyn Floyd Ray, 86, Tifton
Mary L. Wright, 72, Tifton
Lary Jack Moree, 78, Worth County
Myram Hutto Stephens, 83, Jesup

David Robert White, 62, Enigma
Jackie Wood Lane, 85, Sylvester
Margaret Capaiola Pierce, 95, Tifton
Myrtice Tucker Daniel, 98,

Sarah Whiddon, 19, Omega
Sara Reabeth Taylor, 92, Nashville

William Herman "Billy" McCard, 75, Ashburn

Billy Trevena, 62, Fitzgerald
Lillian Carolyn Smith Harrell, 89, Ocilla
Sgt. Joshua "Josh" Wade Weeks, 31, Adel

Frances Skinner Mathis, 98, Tifton
Tifton Grapevine
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Frank Sayles Jr.
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Bonnie Sayles
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