Friday, May 7, 2021
Tifton, Georgia
Tifton Grapevine
When the pandemic struck our community last year, we were reminded of the critical importance of our health professionals and especially of the passion and devotion of our local nurses.

National Nurses Week began Thursday, a time to recognize nurses' commitment to serving patients and the community at large.

"While the rest of the world worked from home and stayed in the safety of their homes at the beginning of this pandemic, nurses left their families, put on their armor and willingly went into battle to save the precious lives of the ill in our communities," said Tonia Garrett, chief nursing officer, at Southwell, whose flagship hospital is Tift Regional Medical Center.

"In the face of this terrible enemy, nurses have risen to the occasion by selflessly and willingly coming to work each day to be here for our patients. Their bravery, steadfastness, and selflessness is to be commended and admired." 
Southwell employs more than 900 nurses, and the health system is honoring them this week. Southwell is publishing several videos on social media featuring interviews with nurses, and the public is encouraged to share stories of a nurse that has inspired or affected them by emailing details to

"During this pandemic, our community has shown amazing support for our nurses through sewing masks and gowns, providing prayers, donating food and drinks, and countless other ways," Garrett said.

"You have no idea how much this has encouraged and strengthened our staff over the past year. We cannot thank you enough. Please continue to support us by getting your COVID-19 vaccine, washing your hands often, wearing your masks and observing social distancing. Join me in paying tribute to the most trusted profession – nursing."
The Prater Music Fest and Soul Man BBQ Competition kicks off at 5:30 p.m. today (Friday) in Ocilla and continues Saturday.

The Music Fest honors the late Dave Prater, Ocilla native and one-half of the Grammy-winning soul/R&B duo Sam & Dave, who had such hits as "Soul Man" and "Hold On, I'm Comin'."

“We put a new twist on it this year; we’re having live music on Friday night featuring the Southern Soul Band and the Irwin County High School Jazz Band. We’re going for a family atmosphere and will have vendors selling BBQ, hot dogs, hamburgers, assorted beverages, and providing activities for the kids," said Roxie Seale, chair of the Ocilla Downtown Development Authority (DDA).  
Seale said activities will include train rides around the walking track and a rock-climbing wall.

"We have also added the BBQ competition and competitors will be preparing for Saturday’s big showdown. The winner of the Prater Music Scholarship will be announced during Friday night’s activities. He/she will perform with the band," Seale said.

Activities continue at 11 a.m. Saturday with live music by Anna Beth Gay and the Page Brothers, among others. Winners of the BBQ competition will be announced at 4 p.m.; the event ends at 5 p.m.

Alcoholic beverages will be available for adults at least 21 years old, but a .  commemorative cup and wristband must first be purchased from DDA volunteers. Ice chests or other open containers will not be allowed onto the festival grounds.
Refreshing careers for Tifton area CDL drivers and more. 
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When she enrolled in the free GED classes at Southern Regional Technical College's Tifton campus in January 2020, Brenda Morales Núñez had no idea she would eventually be named the schools Adult Education Student of the Year, an accolade that she hopes will encourage others. 

“I hope to motivate more people to start with their high school equivalency,” she said. “My English is not perfect, but I am doing this. I am fighting through this, removing this barrier, and I am moving forward. Whatever your barrier is, fight through it! If I can do it, you can do it.”

As a young adult, Morales Núñez left college and her home country of Mexico and came to the U.S. to join family members. She planned to take a six-month break from college, but life took her down a different path. She married, started a family, and became a full-time homemaker.

Pursuing U.S. citizenship, Morales Núñez was asked about her goals, causing her to once again think of her educational aspirations. As a wife and mother, she had different goals than the teenager she was before she had left Mexico. 

“There is a difference between what a young person thinks they want to be and what they truly should be. Before I left Mexico, I was going to college to be an architect, but my mom had always told me that I should become a psychologist and help people,” she said.

As an adult, Morales Núñez had developed an interest in mental health and therapy. She knew that she wanted to become a therapist who could provide comfort and guidance for clients in both English and Spanish. To do that, she would have to return to college.

Though she had completed high school in Mexico, those credits did not transfer, so Morales Núñez had to earn her American High School Equivalency diploma. Her husband, a flight paramedic and EMT graduate of SRTC-Tifton, encouraged her to look into the adult education program on the Tifton campus. In January 2020, she excelled in a pre-test for the free English Language Learners (ELL) classes and was immediately enrolled in the GED curriculum.
Her primary GED preparation instructor Judy Abell found Morales Núñez to be an exceptional student. 

“Although she was nervous about her communication skills in English, Morales Núñez quickly adapted and became an important peer to all of our students,” Abell said. “Many of the students looked up to Brenda especially during difficult math lessons.” 

In March 2020, COVID-19 forced instruction remotely, but Morales Núñez did not allow it to stop her progress. She continued to work online and joined the WebEx class meetings regularly. 

She earned her high school equivalency by passing all parts of the GED exam in late 2020. She immediately enrolled at SRTC as a full-time college student pursuing her associate’s degree with a goal of ultimately obtaining a bachelor of psychology degree.

Last year, Morales Núñez officially became a U.S. citizen and intends to spend her career helping others as a therapist

In Mexico, I often heard that therapy is basic health care. All people need therapy. For home stress, for school stress, for job stress, for relationship stress. We have been carrying heavy burdens from the past," she said. 

"Citizenship means more than just being allowed to be here; good citizenship means helping others. Thanks to my education, I will use my career to help others.”
Tifton Grapevine
Tift County has recorded 14 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the past week, the Ga. Department of Public Health (DPH) reported Thursday.

During the past two weeks, Tift recorded 23 new confirmed cases. Tift's coronavirus-related deaths remained unchanged during the period, the DPH said.

Tift County's new confirmed cases translate to 56 per 100,000 population, the DPH reported. The county’s positive testing rate during the two-week period is 6.5%.

Since the pandemic began, Tift has reported 3,435 confirmed cases with 96 deaths.

On Thursday, Georgia reported 926 new cases with 22 additional deaths and 113 new hospitalizations. The state has had a total of 884,283 confirmed cases and 17,644 related deaths, the DPH said.
SRTC President Jim Glass speaks to students, their families and friends at the outdoor pinning ceremony for medical assisting graduates. At right is graduating student Hayley Doggett of Tifton.
Southern Regional Technical College recognized 11 graduating medical assisting students at an outdoor pinning ceremony April 28 to honor their achievements.

Those recognized were Hayley Doggett of Tifton, Mora Hart of Tifton, Jennifer Guerrero of Omega, Rebecca "Becky" Todd of Tifton, Cassondra Windom of Ashburn, Yesenia Ponce-Gonzales of Moultrie, Andrea Rodriquez-Martinez of Moultrie, Adamaris Gonzaga of Moultrie, Kaliah Monique James of Thomasville, Cassandra Rodriguez of Thomasville, and Vivian May Winter of Thomasville.

Each of the graduating students completed multiple semesters of prerequisite and occupational coursework, including a series of clinical rotations at local medical offices. The students are now eligible to sit for the American Association of Medical Assistants Certified Medical Assistant exam.

The medical assisting program trains students for administrative and clinical duties, primarily in physicians' offices or clinics.

Clinical skills include taking vital signs, obtaining medical histories, performing basic lab tests, sterilizing instruments, administering medications, and assisting the physician. Administrative skills include answering phones, scheduling appointments, filing medical and insurance reports, arranging for hospital admissions and laboratory services.
As the beginning of hurricane season is approaching, National Hurricane Preparedness Week is a good time for Georgians to prepare and recognize the risks of hurricanes, and what to do before, during and after a storm.

The Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA), in partnership with the National Weather Service, is recognizing May 9-15 as National Hurricane Preparedness Week. 

“In the past few years, Georgia has experienced at least one major hurricane to hit our shores once a year,” said Chris Stallings, GEMA director. “During Hurricane Preparedness Week, we’re encouraging our residents, along the coast and inland, to prepare before the Atlantic hurricane season starts in June.” 

Each day during Hurricane Preparedness Week, GEMA will highlight one planning recommendation. Georgia residents can follow along here and take action all week to ensure their families, homes and pets will be safe in the event of a hurricane or tropical storm. 

  • Sunday, May 9: Determine Your Risk – Find out what wind and water hazards could occur in your area.
  • Monday, May 10: Develop an Evacuation Plan – Get familiar with Georgia Navigator, so when the time comes, you’ll know the way to go.
  • Tuesday, May 11: Assemble Disaster Supplies – Have enough non-perishable food, water and medicine to last each person at least three days.
  • Wednesday, May 12: Get an Insurance Checkup – Call your agent and make sure you have enough coverage to repair or even replace your home.
  • Thursday, May 13: Strengthen Your Home – Make sure your home is in good repair and meets hurricane code specifications.
  • Friday, May 14: Help Your Neighbor – Learn about different actions you and your neighbors can take to prepare and recover from hazards associated with hurricanes. 
  • Saturday, May 15: Complete Your Written Hurricane Plan – Knowing where you will ride out the storm, and where your supplies are stored can make a difference.

Letters must address local issues only. All letters are subject to editing for brevity, for libelous statements and for egregious language. 

Include your name, phone number and address for verification purposes. Email letters to:

To the Editor: I just wanted to say that speeding in Tifton in all streets is a big problem. Also, all other traffic violations are a big problem in Tifton. People do not seem to obey the law. Re-education needs to be done!

We have lived right here in Tifton for 25 years, and especially in the last year we drive out and see anywhere from three to five traffic violations on one trip. We are not the only ones saying this. When you listen around, a lot of people are saying it. It started a few years back with not using your signal lights (they still don’t); now, it's all the way to running stop signs or even the red lights.

People are too fast everywhere. Maybe we need to start to have these special light signs on the side of the road put up by the police which will tell people their speed when they drive by. Next, is to give warnings and tickets.

I have another example: If you want to leave a driveway, you have to be very careful because they will fly past your house, never even thinking of someone maybe wanting to drive out. They race up and down the residential streets and any other street. Everyone is in a rush. 

We would just like to see change before more accidents are happening and people are getting killed. This town has to get back to civilized driving, driving by the rules. This society has to get back to respecting rules and to be courteous to all people of all kinds. It starts maybe with how you drive around town.
Angela Riley
Tifton’s Locally Owned Digital Newspaper
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This Sunday, May 9, is Mother's Day, which began in 1907 in Grafton, W.Va. In 1914, President Wilson proclaimed it as a national holiday to honor mothers.
  • Prater Music Fest Street Dance with Southern Soul Band, 5:30-10 p.m., 4th & Alder St., Ocilla
  • Denver Bierman in concert, 7 p.m., First United Methodist Church sanctuary, Tifton

  • Wiregrass Farmers Market, 9 a.m.-Noon, Ga. Museum of Agriculture, Tifton
  • Toddler Time: Butterfly Buddies, 10 a.m., Ga. Museum of Agriculture, Tifton
  • Prater Music Fest & Soul Man BBQ Competition, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., 4th & Alder St., Ocilla
  • 60th Annual Miss Georgia Sweet Potato Pageant, 1 p.m., Irwin County High School, Ocilla

SUNDAY, MAY 9 (Mother's Day)
  • Happy Mother's Day!
“Mitzi" is available for adoption at the Tift County Animal Shelter, located on Highway 125 S. To see her and other pets available, visit the shelter between 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  
J.B. Warren, 76, Ocilla
Mack Ethridge, 80, Ashburn
Willard James “Wic” Erickson, 89, Nashville
Charles “Junior” Luke, 94, Nashville
Teddie Carroll Pierce, 81, Alapaha
Theodore “Ted” Mitchell, 73, Rebecca
Lillie B. Kimbrough 80, Tifton
Dominick Anthony Nicolas “Dan The Man” Bombardier, 24, Berrien County

Tony Sheppard, 97, Fitzgerald
Jo Cowart, 86, Adel
Joe Edmond Hutto, 73, Tifton

Lois Smith Yancey, 79, Fitzgerald

Debbie Robinson, 56, Ellenwood
Zachary Dalton “Zach” Schultz, 18, Nashville
Susan K. Odom, 64, Ashburn
Grady Shuman Green, 78,
Ray City

Bobby Harold Copeland, 88, Tifton
May Bell Hatfield Smith, 85, Tifton
Verdell R. Brown, 93, Tifton
Marjorie Walker Dale, 93,

Nell Chapman Shiver, 94, Sylvester
Bronzal Franklin Dixon Jr., 55, Tifton
Barbara Ann Griner, 66, Ocilla

Darrell Lamar Cosper, 82, Tifton
Tifton Grapevine
e-published every Tuesday and Friday

Frank Sayles Jr.
Editor & Publisher
Bonnie Sayles
Managing Editor
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