JAN. 30, 2018
Tifton, Georgia


Tifton Grapevine

Tift County High School has received a high "financial efficiency" rating from the state (4.5 out of 5 stars), while the Tift County School System as a whole is rated 3.5 out of 5.

The Ga. Department of Education on Friday released Financial Efficiency Star Ratings for schools and school systems. State law requires the comparisons of per-pupil spending and academic achievements using a three-year average of spending and scores on the College and Career Ready Performance Index, a test-driven school report card. 

Each school system receives a rating ranging from one half-star to five stars; a five-star district 
can be described as having strong academic outcomes and lower levels of expenditures in comparison with other districts.

This is the third release of Financial Efficiency Star Ratings for districts, and the first release for individual schools. 

According to the Governor's Office of Student Achievement, the goal of the star rating is to provide a comparison of district spending per student with overall academic performance.

All school districts have been given an opportunity to provide a response or additional information about their rating.

"The financial efficiency rating is an incredibly complicated system," Stacey Beckham, communications director for the Tift County School System, told the Tifton Grapevine
today.  "Some of the items that count against our rating are items that are actual  benefits to our staff and students."

Beckham added that while Tift schools " always want to improve, we are in no way disappointed by our current rating because we know we are doing what we believe is best for our staff and our students

"We could easily and quickly improve our score, but it would be at the expense of the many extracurricular and fine arts opportunities for our students, as well as the Social Security benefit and local teaching supplements to our staff that most other systems do not offer. We don't believe those sacrifices are worth it," she said.

To view the ratings for school systems and  individual schoolsCLICK HERE!


Tiftarea Academy is adding a popular name amongst South Georgians to its varsity football coaching staff: Coach Erik Soliday will trade in his Americus-Sumter High Panther gear for some Tiftarea Panther wear this fall. 

Headmaster Stacey Bell and Athletic Director Tim Hathcock made the announcement with Soliday at the school  Monday afternoon.

Originally from West Virginia, Soliday has been a South Georgia football household name since 1989 when he joined the Turner County Rebels as an assistant. He has spent the majority of his 29-year career in Ashburn, Americus and Perry

He led Americus High to back-to-back state championships in the early 2000s, and he has been named Coach of the Year countless times during his career.

Hathcock and Bell echoed each other in their enthusiasm for the new coach.

"Coach Soliday is an exciting addition to our staff. We feel he has all the tools necessary to lead our program to new heights," said Hathcock

Bell added that Soliday's principles of discipline on and off the field will translate to success at Tiftarea.

A motto Soliday likes to live by is an old quote from former Notre Dame Coach Lou Holtz: "Why settle for second place when first place is available."

Tiftarea Academy had a 6-5 season last year under former Coach Tully Payne.

James L. "Jimmy" Allen of Chula has been reappointed to the Georgia Forestry Commission by Gov. Nathan Deal.

Allen, a former professional golfer, is a founder of Allen Pritchett & Bassett LLP in Tifton. He is co-owner of Pike Creek Turf, a turfgrass production and installation company. 

Allen is chairman of the Hospital Authority of Tift County and sits on the board of directors of the Community Foundation of South Georgia. He is a member of the Georgia Society of Certified Public Accountants. 

Allen earned a bachelor's degree in accounting from Valdosta State University. He and his wife, Quay, have two children and five grandchildren.

We're Seeking a
Church Pianist

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 as at special services at Christmas, Easter, etc.  

Interested persons should contact Angie Carr at 
or call   229-382-6100 .


Eunice Lastinger Mixon, Tifton's "grande dame" and a retired educator, was honored in the Georgia state Senate last week as  the Distinguished Older Georgian for 2018.

The resolution, introduced by Sen. Greg Kirk, R-Americus, commends Mixon for her decades of service to the state and to her community.

"Mrs. Mixon served as a doorkeeper for  the Georgia state Senate for 12 years and  retired just 
Mixon reads to children at the Education Foundation's Summer Reading Center in 2016.
before her 80th birthday. Mrs. Mixon has won numerous awards for her work throughout the state of Georgia and her experience is remarkable," Kirk said.

"Mrs. Mixon's service to our community and state goes beyond the politics as seen in her personally raising more than $25,000 for Alzheimer's disease, a mong many other selfless acts. I am honored to sponsor this resolution for my friend, a woman that has dedicated so much of her life to serving the citizens of our state inside and out of her work." 

The Senate resolution notes that Mixon was honored by an  Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College  scholarship recognizing her 23 years of service on the Georgia Student Finance Commission and was named  a Distinguished Alumnus of ABACwas recognized as one of the 40 Most Influential South Georgians  by South Georgia Business Magazine received the inaugural Eunice L. Mixon Award, created by the  State Bar of Georgia to be presented annually to a non-lawyer Georgian for lifetime  contributions to the judicial branch;  was named one of 25 Women of the 21st Century by a Ga.  House of Representatives resolution, sharing this honor with such women as Rosalyn Carter,  Coretta Scott King and Betty Talmadge served as a charter director of the Tift County Foundation for Educational   Excellence; served as the first chairman of the state's Hope Scholarship  Committee; and  was appointed by the state Supreme Court to the  Disciplinary Board of the State Bar of Georgia, serving from 1997 until 2013.

The community can help endow a chair for the Tift County Foundation for Educational Excellence (TCFEE) by  sponsoring a tennis player in the foundation's Fifth Annual Rally for Reading, to be held SundayFeb. 4.

Tennis Coach Dale White and his  international team at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, are donating their time and talent to help raise money for the  Terri Nalls Reading Angel Chair.
The event is 1:30-4:30 p.m. Sunday at ABAC's Red Hill Tennis Center

Entry fee is a $100 tax-deductible donation to the TCFEE. Individuals may sponsor a player or may enter to participate themselves.  Players will be grouped by age (starting at age seven-plus) and skill level, with at least one ABAC player for a doubles rotation.  Each participant will play three rounds.

To create a foundation chair, $25,000 is needed. The campaign to fund the chair to honor Terri Nalls kicked off when she retired last spring as media specialist at Charles Spencer Elementary School Her friends and family have already given $8,000 toward the chair, and  George McCarty, a long-time TCFEE supporter, has offered $5,000 if the remainder can be raised.

As Charles Spencer Elementary's media specialist from 1996 to 2017, Nalls helped lead the charge for Tifton becoming the Reading Capital of the  World. Along the way, she ran Tifton's popular and successful summer reading AR (Accelerated Reader) program
For information, contact Mike Brumby at  229-392-2100 or email


Southern Regional Technical College (SRTC) announced on Monday it had achieved record enrollment for the second consecutive term.

For the spring semester, SRTC had a 9.4 increase increase in total enrollment, with a 10.4 percent increase in full-time equivalency when compared with spring 2017 figures. Both of these numbers outpace the state average for each of those categories, which are 2.2 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively.

"This record enrollment is once again attributed to the tireless commitment, dedication and efforts
of our entire faculty and staff in enrolling, advising, teaching and supporting students. These enrollment increases help create more opportunities for our students as we continue our mission of developing a highly skilled workforce for our growing service delivery area," said President Dr. Craig Wentworth.

The announcement comes on the heels of the 2017 fall semester that saw a 9 percent and 10.2 percent increase in total enrollment and full-time equivalency, respectively, when compared to the previous fall, according to  the Technical College System of Georgia.

SRTC's total enrollment continues to sit above the 3,700 student mark, and the college continues to maintain one of the largest dual enrollment programs in the state with about 1,400 students taking advantage of that opportunity. The dual enrollment program allows high school students to receive Carnegie unit credit from their respective high school and post-secondary credit hours from the college for the same course.

SRTC has instructional sites in Ashburn, Cairo, Camilla, Moultrie, Thomasville, Tifton and Sylvester.


Kumon Math and Reading Center

On Thursday,  Feb. 1 , the National Players will present   "The Great Gatsby" as a part of the ABAC Presents! Performing Arts Series  at 7 p.m. in Howard Auditorium at  Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College .

The first time being staged by the National Players, this fast-paced adaptation of F. Scott 
Fitzgerald's classic novel brings the Jazz Age of New York to life as Daisy's cousin, Nick, guides audiences through a world where love, opportunity, deception and tragedy are always just around the corner.

ABAC Arts Connection Director Wayne Jones said the National Players include 10 cast members who devote three months of their summer to rehearsals for three shows and then tour the country for nine months performing in a specific show at the discretion of hosting locations. 

Tickets will be available at the door for $20 for adults and $10 for students who 18 and under. For information, call 229-391-4895


An AARP Smart Driver Safety Program is scheduled 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Feb. 24 at the  Leroy Rogers Senior Center in Tifton.

The program is open to all drivers age 16 and up. The c ost is $20 per person, with a $5 discount for AARP members with identification card.

AARP initially developed the six-hour classroom refresher course to help drivers age 50 and older improve their skills and prevent crashes, but now the course is open to all drivers.  It covers age-related physical changes, safety tips, rules of the road and updates on recent changes in the law. 

Participants may be eligible for up to a 20 percent discount on their automobile insurance premium. 

For class information or reservations, call  229-391-3956 or  229-391-9299 or email

Polly Huff at the Moonshine Shack  exhibit.


Nestled in the deep woods near the Satilla River, the old moonshine still could probably tell some stories of how it hid from revenue agents while gurgling out its illegal home brew. 
Now those stories have come to life at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College's Georgia Museum of Agriculture and Historic Village in the form of "The Moonshine Shack," winner of the Best Exhibit Created on a Small Budget by the Georgia Association for Museums and Galleries (GAMG).  

Polly Huff, museum assistant director/curator, received the award at the recent GAMG conference in Rome.
"That old moonshine still was in our collection for over 30 years, and I decided it was time to put it to work," Huff said. "I was so proud that the awards committee called the exhibit 'significant, creative, resourceful, innovative and designed by a very dedicated staff.'" 
Huff said the museum staff is always looking for ways to create significant exhibits on a small budget.
"Every component of this exhibit was reclaimed from found and discarded lumber and tin, wood and metal barrels, and other recycled elements," Huff said. "To make it even more of a challenge, we decided to construct the exhibit in less than two months and open it as a surprise to our guests and the museum staff at the Folklife Festival last April."
Working with a small team consisting of interns Crystal York from ABAC and Jackson Short from Tift County High, Huff used the services of museum exhibit builders Michael Willis and David King, and alumnus Valerie Touchstone.

On opening day, retired Department of Natural Resources' agent Noel Jackson played the role of a moonshiner with a beard and ragged denim overalls.  
"He greeted over 1,000 guests who were delighted beyond words to see this surprise exhibit," Huff said. "We anticipate this low-budget exhibit to be a family favorite and the spot for many stories to be told for many years to come."


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