MAY 11, 2018
Tifton, Georgia


Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College on Thursday had the largest number of graduates to participate in an ABAC commencement ceremony in the 110-year history of the college.

A total of 304 graduates crossed the stage to receive their degrees.  Ginger Orton from Ellaville and Matthew Fisher from Tifton received the top awards presented by the ABAC Alumni Association during the spring commencement. 

Orton, an agricultural communication major, received the ABAC Alumni Association Award going to the top bachelor's degree graduate in the ceremony.  Fisher, an engineering major, received the George P. Donaldson Award as the top associate degree graduate participating in the ceremony. 
Ginger Orton, second from left, and Matthew Fisher, second from right, receive top awards at ABAC's spring commencement.  Presenting the awards are ABAC President David Bridges, left, and Alumni Association President Niki Vanderslice, right.

During her time at ABAC, Orton served as vice president of the Student Government Association and as SGA president. She served as president of the ABAC Young Farmers. Orton served as reporter/anchor for Stallion TV, copy editor for the student newspaper and president/COO of the "Pegasus" literary magazine. She was active in intramural sports. 

The daughter of Bob and Laura Orton, Orton was a superior and distinguished honor student. She received the James and Joyce Kirk scholarship, the Carlton Smith scholarship and the Student Leadership scholarship. Her service-oriented activities included volunteering at the Ga. Museum of Agriculture and Wiregrass Farmers Market, Baton Rouge Flood Relief and as a Carry the Load leg captain. 

Fisher was a member of the ABAC Ambassadors, Phi Theta Kappa honors program, Baptist Collegiate Ministries and Bee Keepers Association. He served as vice president of the Student Alumni Association. Fisher was active in intramural sports, was a math and science tutor in the Academic Achievement Center and was employed by the Ga. Museum of Agriculture
The son of Richard and Lynda Fisher, Fisher made the President's List, Dean's List and Distinguished List and received the HOPE scholarship and the Zell & Shirley Miller ABAC Foundation s cholarship. Fisher is active at Northside Baptist Church and served as a Vacation Bible School worship leader, Winshape Camp counselor, Worship Camp leader and "One Starry Night" performer/volunteer. He also volunteered for the Peach State Invitational

State Sen. Tyler Harper, R-Ocilla, an ABAC graduate from the Class of 2008, was guest speaker at commencement. 

"Your degree will get your foot in the door, but it's the skills you learned in and out of the academic setting while at ABAC that will earn you employment," he said.  "Keep learning, keep refining your skills, and above all never give up. When that dream job becomes available I have no doubt that you will be more than prepared to take that new challenge head on." 


Seniors walk through the Tiftarea Academy campus on Thursday.
Tiftarea Academy will graduate 43 students beginning at  6 p.m. today (Friday) at First Baptist Church in TIfton.

The school's Class of 2018 has been offered more than $1.6 million in  merit scholarships, excluding HOPE, and plan to attend a variety of  colleges across the  Southeast .

On Thursday morning, the  seniors took a lap around campus in their caps and gowns to celebrate as they were cheered by the student body.

Before the cap-and-gown walk, teacher  Jill Taylor was able to snap a quick photo with her former "kindergarten babies." Taylor taught the graduating seniors pictured below as they began their journey at Tiftarea Academy in kindergarten during the fall of 2005.


A portion of Moore Highway in front of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College from RDC Road to Zion Hope Road is scheduled to close beginning today for the expansion of that portion of the road to three lanes.

The road segment is expected to be closed for about three months.
Moore Highway in front of ABAC will be three lanes.

Paul Willis, ABAC vice president for finance and operations, said plans have been underway for awhile to widen Moore Highway in front of the ABAC campus, changing it to a three-lane road from RDC Road, going north to Zion Hope Road.

"The construction project will kick into high gear on Friday, May 11, when Moore Highway will be closed to all traffic from RDC Road to Zion Hope Road," Willis said. "This will constitute the entire length of the Moore Highway widening project and close the ABAC parking lots behind the Health Sciences Building, Gaines Hall and the Yow Forestry-Wildlife Building for the duration of the project."

Willis said the ABAC north parking lot will only be accessible via Perimeter Road from Davis Road during the construction.

"The contractor believes the entire project will be completed prior to the beginning of fall semester classes on Aug. 15," Willis said.


The National Letter Carriers' "Stamp Out Hunger"  26th annual  food drive is this  Saturday,  May 12 --  the largest one-day food drive in the country.

Residents are asked to leave items of nonperishable food out by their mailboxes, using bags
previously delivered by letter carriers or other bags they may have available. Nonperishable food means food in
unopened, non-breakable containers, such as peanut butter, pasta, tuna, rice, beans, cereal, canned meats, fruits, vegetables, soups and other items.

The drive is always held the second Saturday in May, the day before Mother's Day.

The United Way of South Central Georgia is seeking volunteers to  show up at the U.S. Post Office loading dock, behind the Post Office building in Tifton, to help with the food collected.

"We need help when the mail trucks come back from their routes. The time frame would be approximately 12:30 to 4:00 p.m. or so. You can work as little as an hour or as much as five or six hours; it is up to you," says Pat McKinnon, local United Way executive director. 

Help is needed unloading the food from the mail trucks and then reloading the food onto trucks of various agencies, including the Salvation Army, the Tiftarea Soup Kitchen, the Tiftarea Food Bank and the Coastal Plain Area Economic Opportunity Authority .


Ocilla's 4th Annual Dave "Soul Man" Prater Music Festival wraps up tonight (Friday) with a street dance and live music.

The dance is 6-10 p.m. on Cherry Street , and features the Irwin County High Jazz Band, and Jerry Moss and the Southern Soul Band.

On Thursday night, during  dinner at Irwin County High School, a  bluegrass music-loving
trumpet player who sings and acts was named the 2018 Dave Prater Music Scholarship winner.
Irwin High senior Reid Griffin receives 2018 Dave Prater Music Scholarship Thursday night.
Reid Griffin received the $1,500 award.  This is the second year scholarships were awarded in honor of the late Ocilla native and R&B singer from the group Sam & Dave. The duo won a Grammy Award in 1967 for their biggest hit "Soul Man."

Ocilla began honoring Dave Prater in 2015, and proceeds from the dinner, T-shirt sales and sponsors go toward scholarships for Irwin County High seniors interested in pursuing careers in music.

Griffin told scholarship judges that "Music, theater and the performing arts are literally my entire life."   Griffin has been involved in Irwin County's band program for seven years. It is his rendition of "Taps" that has sounded over the Irwin County Veteran's Day service the past four years. He counts those performances as his greatest achievements because they help him give back to his community and veterans.

He said winning the Prater scholarship was less about the money and more about the name. 

" Dave Prater and I share the same hometown. I have kept that knowledge with me every single step of the way. It has been one of the most important factors in my success. It has been the fire beneath me, keeping me moving forward," Griffin wrote in his application. 

"I was told so many times that someone like me, who comes from a school like me, who grew up in a town like me, could never achieve the goals that I have pursued. If someone like Dave Prater could make it, well, someone like me could too."

Tifton Mayor Julie Smith, at left of proclamation, is surrounded by TRMC nurses.


Tift Regional Health System (TRHS) is celebrating National Nurses' Week with mayoral proclamations in Tifton and Adel.

TRHS saluted its more than 875 nurses during the week-long observance May 6-12. On May 7, a nurses' celebration lunch was held at Cook Medical Center in Adel. Mayor Buddy Duke of Adel read and signed a mayoral proclamation in honor of the week.  

On May 9, a nurses' celebration breakfast was held in Tifton at Tift Regional Medical Center (TRMC), and Tifton Mayor Julie Smith read and signed a mayoral proclamation as well. The observance also included career day school tours for fifth and eighth graders at TRMC May 9


Bird's Nest Thrift Store
5 Old Brookfield Road
Tift County
May 9

Ruth's Cottage Nancy Bryan with donated items collected by GFWC Tifton 20th Century Library Club.


The GFWC Tifton 20th Century Library Club presented 1,013 donated items to Nancy Bryan, executive director of Ruth's Cottage and Patticake House, during the third annual " Fashion with a Passion" fashion show Tuesday.
Scholarship recipient Nykia Griggs with club President Shirene Daniell.

Members of the club collected items April 28 at Tifton Walmart as part of the General Federation of Women's Clubs Georgia Statewide Day of Service in support of domestic violence shelters

Bryan told the group how much it meant to get donated items so the shelter workers don't have to spend the shelter's funds on supplies such as paper towels, bathroom tissue, trash bags, shampoo and other personal items

Club President Shirene Daniell expressed the club's appreciation to Tifton residents, especially the many young men who took shopping lists and returned with donated items. "We were so impressed," she said. "You're raising your boys right." 
Daniell also recognized this year's Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College scholarship award winner Nykia Griggs. The club gives a $1,000 scholarship annually to an exceptional graduating senior. The fashion show features women and girls who support community involvement. Many of the models are volunteers in their churches and service organizations. 


Keep Tift Beautiful is recognizing Astro Exterminating Services at 103 12th St. E., left, as the Commercial Beauty Spot of the Month, and Dot Wilson at 2014 Central Ave., below, as the recipient of the Residential Beauty Spot of the Month for May.


Tifton Grapevine

Tifton-Tift County Chamber of Commerce members Thursday learned about a surgical lab at Southern Regional Technical College (SRTC) in Tifton that is the only one like it in Georgia and is one of only three in the nation.

Approximately 15 people toured the Economic Development Department of SRTC's Tifton Campus. Part of their tour included the Surgical Tech Academy where students and surgeons learn to use the latest in medical devices.

"This is one of only three labs like this across the country," said Kelly Daniell, director for economic development at SRTC Tifton. Using cadavers, physicians are able to learn how to
Two seniors graduating in SRTC's surgical technology program in September demonstrate knee replacement while Kelly Daniell and Katrina Bohanan look on. Doug Wilkerson on the left is a former Marine and Richard Dooly, right, is a retired accountant beginning a new career.
implant the newest medical devices, such as knee replacements, without traveling to another state, region or country. Recently, surgeons in Tifton were able to learn a new procedure for replacing a jaw to treat TMJ. 

Certified surgical technicians are needed all over the nation, and the certificate program provided at SRTC is a nationally based certification, Daniell said.   

Katrina Bohannon, a clinical instructor in the program, explained how students are taught to count every instrument and piece of gauze before a procedure begins and after to ensure no objects are left inside a patient. 

Sherry King, the program chair, discussed how surgery has progressed from open procedures to laparoscopic to robotic. She said that telemedicine is already in place and that telesurgery using robotics long distance is the next step. She said SRTC is adding an associate degree effective in 2021 to replace the diploma-level certification. 

King said SRTC's surgical tech lab in Tifton is the only one in the state of Georgia. She said a local physician compared it favorably to one in which he trained in Las Vegas, with the benefit of being here in his own community. "He can be in his own bed at night instead of traveling across the country," she said.  


The Tift County Foundation for Educational Excellence met Tuesday and received a matching gift totaling $5,000 from Prince Automotive. The Foundation also made a $5,000 donation to the playground concept of "Play, Learn, Grow" at Len Lastinger Primary School.

In the left photo are, from left: Foundation Executive Director Mike Brumby, Heather Prince Stripling and Heidi Prince Massey of Prince Automative, and Foundation President Mike Davis.

In the photo at right, from left, are: Brumby, Davis, and  Michele Manzow, Sharon Nixon and  Debby Monfort of Len Lastinger's Primary Parent-Teacher Organization.


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YOUR WEEKEND  mom_clothesline.jpg
         . a Glance

  • Tiftarea Academy Graduation, 6 p.m., First Baptist Church, Tifton
  • Dave Prater Music Festival Street Dance, 6-10 p.m., Cherry Street, Ocilla
  • Professional Cowboy Assoc. Rodeo, 7:30 p.m., Paulk Park, Fitzgerald

  • Wiregrass Farmers Market, 9 a.m.-Noon, Ga. Museum of Agriculture, Tifton
  • Multiple Routes  Quilt Exhibit 5-7 p.m., Plough Gallery, Tifton
  • Professional Cowboy Assoc. Rodeo,  7:30 p.m., Paulk Park, Fitzgerald
  • Mother's Day

In Memoriam

Ernie Kelley Sr., 71, Ocilla
Amelia Jane Griner Williams, 84, Ocilla

Lillian Murray Martin, 89, Thomasville

Rachel Juanita "Nita" Coleman, 70, Tifton
Nancy Carolyn Dorman Chappell, 64, Tifton
Gwynette Barber Powell, 83, Nashville
Willie Manus, 90, Sparks
Anita Jenkins, 87, Quitman

May Joy Miller (Joyce Jones), 84, Quitman

Donald Cleveland "Don" Dove Sr., 68, Tifton 
Henry Lamar Hill, 72, Tifton
Bobby Wayne Tomlinson Sr., 66, Adel
Charles M. "Jack" Hanks, 87, Adel
Everlena Fulmore, 87, Sylvester

Gary Wrinkle, 76, Poulan

MAY 10
Jeanette Brogdon, 88, Nashville

Here at D Coleman Realty,
 we would like to say "Congratulations!"
all the  graduates of
Tift County High School
and Tiftarea Academy!



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