Friday, June 5, 2020
Tifton, Georgia
Tift County High School's Class of 2020 will have a formal graduation ceremony at Brodie Field on Saturday, June 13. But the ceremony will be somewhat different than last year's commencement, pictured above.
Tifton Grapevine
Three weeks after its originally scheduled date, Tift County High School will hold a formal graduation ceremony at Brodie Field for the Class of 2020 – the school's largest-ever class at 509 graduates.

The ceremony will be at 7:45 a.m. Saturday, June 13 . It was delayed because of the pandemic . An online graduation celebration was held May 23 when the ceremony had been initially scheduled.

"Based on Governor Kemp’ s executive order and the recommendations from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and Department of Public Health , we have adapted our ceremony to meet certain guidelines," the high school said.

Dana R. Spurlin , chief information officer at Tift County Schools, said "all graduates will be seated six feet apart on the field. Another important point is that there will be a recessional this year; at the end of the ceremony, the graduates will recess off of the field. Once the graduates have cleared the field, the audience will be dismissed through the ticket gates. No one will be allowed on the field after the ceremony."
Graduates, who have already received their diplomas, will be presented a diploma cover as they walk across the stage. Each graduate will receive six admission tickets, which will be color-coded to indicate gate entry and seating location for social distancing. Guests are asked to be in their seats by 7:30 a.m.

"The tickets have been randomly assigned to adequately disperse the audience through the stands," the high school noted in its graduation information. The ceremony will be live-streamed on the Tift County Schools' YouTube channel. 

Per CDC guidelines, masks are "recommended but not required" for graduates, the school system said. "Masks made of material presenting crude, objectionable, or inflammatory content will not be allowed."
Today is the final day for early voting in the primary election ; election day is this Tuesday, June 9 .

The Democratic and Republican primaries had been scheduled earlier but were delayed because of the pandemic. Early voting is available from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. today at the Tift County Board of Elections office on Chesnutt Avenue behind the County Administration Building.

As of Thursday , 1,320 Tift countians had voted early in person, and 2,779 had voted early by mail, said Leila E. Dollison , Tift County election supervisor.

On Tuesday, election day , voters will need to cast ballots at their regular precinct locations. Polls on Tuesday will be open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Registered voters can check their polling place and see sample ballots here .

Voters will need to choose to participate in either the Democratic or Republican primary. While there are many races uncontested, some contested local races have gotten attention in recent weeks.

In state Senate District 13, Carden Summers , who won the seat in a special election earlier this year after Sen. Greg Kirk died, is seeking a full term. Spud Bowen is opposing him for the GOP nomination.

In the race for district attorney, Kevin Hutto and Bryce Johnson are squaring off on the Republican ballot. Also on the GOP ballot, Lee Turner and Paul Webb are seeking the Tift County commissioner seat in District 3.

Probate Judge Suzanne Carter Johnson is seeking re-election on the GOP ballot and is being challenged by fellow Republican Bobby “Keith” Newell .

Congressman Austin Scott is being challenged by Vance Dean and Danny Ellyson for the Republican nomination.

While Joe Biden is the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, there still are 12 names on the Democratic presidential ballot; most of the candidates had dropped out of the race after they qualified to run in Georgia.

Also among Democrats, Sarah Riggs Amico, Marckeith DeJesus, James Knox, Tricia Carpenter McCracken, Jon Ossoff, Maya Dillard Smith and Teresa Pike Tomlinson are seeking the U.S. Senate nomination to face incumbent David Perdue in the fall.

Mary Egler and Ruenett Melton are vying for the Democratic nomination for state Senate District 13.

There is also a long list of candidates running without opposition .
NEAR 50,000 MARK
Georgia 's number of COVID-19 cases is nearing 50,000 , according to the Ga. Department of Public Health (DPH).

As of Thursday , the DPH reported a total of 49,847 positive cases, nearly 1,000 new cases within 24 hours. Total deaths from the virus in the state reached 2,147 .

Tift County 's cases have risen to 277 with 18 deaths of Tift residents. Tift's total hospitalizations is 69 , the DPH reported.

Everyone in Georgia is now encouraged to be tested for the coronavirus . Southwell has relocated its COVID-19 Drive-Thru Clinic to the Southwell School Clinic at Eighth Street Middle School in Tifton.

The clinic is on the back side of the school, between the school building and the football stadium on Sixth Street. Before coming to the Drive-Thru Clinic, residents need to call Southwell's COVID-19 Hotline at 229-353-2819 .
Because of the pandemic, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College is compressing the semester calendar so that students will get a longer break between the fall and spring terms.

“This new compressed semester calendar allows ABAC to complete a full fall semester of face-to-face instruction so that students can finish all their classes and final exams prior to Thanksgiving ,” said President David Bridges

“When the students go home for the Thanksgiving break, they will not return to campus until the spring semester in January . Students and their parents will save time and money; and since the students will not return to campus after Thanksgiving, the opportunity for a virus outbreak on campus in December will be eliminated .”

Bridges said the extra days during December without students on campus will also give personnel more time to thoroughly clean residence halls, classrooms, laboratories and the dining hall.

ABAC fall semester classes begin Aug. 12 and will end Nov. 19 . Final exams will be on Nov. 20-21 and Nov. 23-24 . After completing their finals, students will leave campus; the spring semester begins next Jan. 11 .

In the revised calendar, classes will be held on Labor Day, Sept. 7, and on the previously scheduled fall break on Oct. 19-20 .
Food Lion is purchasing 62 BI-LO and Harveys supermarkets in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia – including the Tifton Harveys on U.S. Highway 41 in Tifton.

When the sale is completed, expected next year, the stores will be branded as Food Lion .
Nashville, Ga.-based Harveys Supermarkets got its beginnings in Tifton in 1903 when Iris Johson Harvey , a mother of five and wife of J.M. Harvey , began selling canned goods as a railroad commissary from the parlor of her home in Tifton . Her front-room shop became so successful that her husband, a railroad foreman, left his job to tend to the growing business.

The Harveys decided to open an actual grocery store in Tifton . By 1910 , they had four “cash stores” in various sections around Tift County , eventually consolidating them into one large “uptown” Tifton operation.

In 1924 , the Harveys decided to branch out in the area, and their son Joe opened a store in Nashville and branded it as Harveys market.

The stores that Food Lion is purchasing will remain open as BI-LO and Harveys Supermarket until the transaction is complete, which is expected to take place over a staggered period from January to April 2021 , pending regulatory approval and customary closing requirements.
Celebrate Recovery , a Christ-centered “12 step” ministry program for anyone with a "hurt, habit or hang-up," resumes its weekly meetings at 6:30 p.m. June 11   at Tifton's First Baptist Church.

The group has been meeting weekly at First Baptist Church for nearly 11 years; because of recent “shelter in place” orders, there hasn't been a meeting since March.

"Celebrate Recovery is a safe place to find freedom from those things that are controlling your life," said Michelle Gilder , the program's staff liaison at First Baptist Church.

"Maybe you have been hurt by things in life, such as abandonment, abuse, or past relationships. Or maybe you are dealing with a habit or addiction. Or maybe you are dealing with anger, co-dependency, or fear. If this is you, then come and check us out," she said.

While the wearing of face masks is recommended, it is not required. The meetings will follow social-distancing guidelines. During this transition period, childcare and meals cannot be provided.

The program will meet at 6:30 p.m. every Thursday at the First Baptist's chapel at 404 Love Ave.
VIDEO: Watch John Berry's new video of his re-recorded "Graduation Song" filled with images from the Class of 2020.
Grammy-winning country music recording artist and songwriter John Berry , a former Tifton resident, has re-recorded and released  “The Graduation Song,” a song he wrote 43 years ago, to honor 2020 graduates .

Berry wrote the tune when he was a 17-year-old high school senior in 1977 . Using social media, Berry asked his fans to send photos of 2020 graduates. He received more than 500 photos, including some from Tifton . The images are included in the video to honor 2020 graduates, many of whom did not get a formal graduation ceremony because of the pandemic .

During the Covid-19 quarantine, Berry re-recorded and co-produced "The Graduation Song" with his son Caelan and wife, Robin , in their home studio. His band recorded their parts separately and sent them to Berry to be mixed as if they were all together in the studio.
“Senior-year graduation – a rite of passage . All these years later, its importance is still vivid in my consciousness. The very thought of not having my name announced on that awful gymnasium sound system, and not getting to walk across that stage one last time, and not be handed that little decorative piece of paper that said I had done it – I cannot imagine, I cannot imagine the disappointment ," Berry said.
"It is important that this moment in the lives of each of these students, these achievers , these remarkable people, be recognized by their communities."
Georgia Power will give customers a credit on their bill this month.

The typical residential customer using 1,000-kilowatt hours will receive an $11.29 credit on their June bill, company officials said. This is a one-time $51.5 million credit approved by the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC).
In addition, the PSC recently approved Georgia Power’s plan to reduce its fuel rates by 17.2 percent and billings by roughly $740 million over two years. This will provide customers with additional relief during the COVID-19 pandemic .
The lower fuel rate and special interim reduction will lower the total bill of a typical residential customer using an average of 1,000-kilowatt hours by a total of $10.26 per month from June through September .
Only 52.2 percent of Tift County residents have completed the 2020 U.S. Census , according to the Tift County Census Complete Count Committee.

Residents received notification through the mail to complete the Census online ; some residents may have been mailed a form to complete the Census and send back.

The completion rate in the City of Tifton is 52 percent; in Ty Ty , 42 percent; and in Omega , 39.3 percent. Georgia's total Census completion rate is 56.6 percent.

Among area counties, Lee County leads with a 63.3 percent completion rate. Worth County's rate is 52.1 percent; Cook County, 48.2 percent; Berrien County, 47.3 percent; Irwin County, 46.3 percent; and Turner County, 46.2 percent.

Tift County  has lost  $164 million  in federal funds during the past decade because  8,204  county residents were not counted during the last  U.S. Census, officials have said. In 2010 , Tift County had a  78.8 percent   response rate to the Census.

Based on the  2010 Census, Georgia has received  $15.88 billion  in  federal funds  during the past decade.
Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan has appointed state Sen. Carden Summers , R-Crisp, to serve on the following Senate Committees : Agriculture and Consumer Affairs, Economic Development and Tourism, Interstate Cooperation, and State Institutions and Properties.

“Sen. Carden Summer’s agricultural and small-business experience will make him a valuable member of these committees,” Duncan said.

“I am eager to bring my skills and experience to these committee to take on legislation that has the potential to affect all Georgians,” Summers said.

Summers took office in March to represent Senate District 13 , which includes Tift, Turner, Worth, Crisp, Dodge, Dooly, and Lee counties, and portions of Sumter and Wilcox.
This female cat is among the animals available for adoption at the Tift County Animal Shelter. The shelter, located at 278 Georgia Highway 125 S., in Tifton, is now open to the public for adoptions  1-6 p.m. Mondays  through  Fridays .

For information , call 229-382-PETS (7387).
Pets of the Week are sponsored by:
Branch’s Veterinary Clinic
205 Belmont Ave., Tifton, 229-382-6055   
Important Phone Numbers & Web Sites
MAY 28
Vivian Harris Pearson, 78, Enigma
Dalma A. Fennell, 97, Sparks
Terry Lee Austin, 72, Nashville
Ruth Hall Burkett, 91, Fitzgerald
Jessica Marie Pendarvis, 38, Tifton
Marian Laverne Morrow Cole, 67, Tifton
William Henry "Billy" Britt, 67, Ashburn
Clint Edwards, 77, Ashburn
Larry Lewis, 67, Norman Park

MAY 29
Randy Allen Morgan, 68, Ocilla
Lawrence Clayton Fletcher, 73, Sumner
Erica Katherine Landers, 33, Tifton
William Jackson "Jack" Roberts, 78, Ray City

MAY 30
Maria Raquel Lara De Zapata, 65, Omega
Jimmy Carroll Garner, 77, Ray City
Margaret Miller, 71, Adel
Ola M. McKelvin, Lilburn

MAY 31
Edwin T. Taylor, 64, Tifton
Bill "Billy" James Keene, 69, Sylvester
Johnny Edward Tison, 69, Lenox
Diane Williams, 62, Sparks

Dorothy Maxine O’Hair, 85, Tifton
Hazel Manning, 76, Adel
Cynthia Louise Feijoo, 61, Camilla
Agnes Elizabeth (Futch) Thomas, 95, Melbourne, Fla.

Sue Ellen Rentz, 61, Daytona Beach, Fla.
Linda Cravey Geoghagan, 72, Ashburn
Tomasa Carranza 76, Tifton


Lonnie Theus Griffin, 84, Tifton
Joe "Marc" Marchant, 67, Monroe
Ruby Lynn DuBois, Poulan
Virgil Young, 94, Ben Hill County

Janet Ruth Odom, 59, Tifton

Tifton Grapevine
e-published every Tuesday and Friday

Frank Sayles Jr.
Editor & Publisher
Bonnie Sayles
Managing Editor
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