Tuesday, May 26, 2020
Tifton, Georgia
GrapeNew
VIRUS CASES DOUBLE DURING MAY IN TIFT
HEALTH REPS SAY RISE MAY BE RESULT OF MORE TESTING
By FRANK SAYLES JR.
Tifton Grapevine
The month of May has been a sobering one for both Tift County and the state of Georgia regarding the total number of COVID-19 cases and related deaths .

Since May 1 , Tift County's positive cases of the novel coronavirus have risen 100 percent – from 117 to 234 cases – and Tift's deaths from the virus have tripled from 5 to 15 .

Since mid-month, May 15 , Tift's cases grew by 38 percent , or 64 cases, while the number of Tift County deaths rose by five , or 50 percent .

Since May 1, the state has seen a 67 percent total rise in both cases and deaths , but Georgia has been recording gradual week-by-week decreases in the number of new cases until the past week .

According to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis of public health data, following weeks of decline the state saw new cases rise by 26 percent in the seven days ending this past Sunday . But it is unclear if the increases represent a new spread of the virus or is merely a result of more testing being done statewide.

The Ga. Department of Public Health (DPH) has said from the beginning that Georgians can expect to see more positive cases as testing ramps up across the state.

As of Tuesday night, the DPH reported a total of 43,983 confirmed cases and 1,895 deaths statewide.
TCHS HOLDS ONLINE
GRAD CELEBRATION
(Click Below)
The  Tift County High School Class of 2020, the largest in school history, would have been graduating this past  Saturday   at  Brodie Field   if the  pandemic   had not  disrupted   the schedule. Instead,  TCHS   had an  online graduation   celebration (see above video) .

Retiring Principal  Kim Seigler   said the high school is still  planning   to hold a  graduation ceremony   on  Brodie Field   once the  governor releases   the  ban   on  large gatherings . The school is possibly considering  June 13   or  June 20   for the  in-person ceremony .
TIFTON-TIFT COUNTY LIBRARY
TO OFFER CURBSIDE PICKUPS
While the Tifton-Tift County Public Library may be closed for physical visits , beginning June 1 the library is offering a curbside pickup service for library materials .

One only needs to have a free  PINES library card. PINES (Public Information Network for Electronic Services) is Georgia’s “borderless library” system that allows card holders free access to books and other materials in 300 library branches and affiliated service outlets throughout the state.

A member may request materials on "hold" through the PINES system. Members can fill out an online request form at  https://www.cprl.org/request  and ask for specific titles, genres or formats, or may call 229-386-7148 .

The library staff will call you when your request is ready and will schedule a time to pick up your items. The pickup point will be just past the book drop, in the alley between the library and the Tifton Museum of Arts & Heritage .

Items will be checked out for two weeks as usual. Renewals can be done online or over the phone . Items can be returned in the book drop . The library is not charging fines during this time because " life is complicated enough ," the library noted; "we look f orward to working with you."
U.S. Army photo
Brig. Gen. John Gentry, left, commander of the Marietta-based 78th Troop Command, and Command Sgt. Maj. Paul Locke, right, senior enlisted advisor, meet with Capt. Athena Brown, center, officer in charge of the Tifton-based 110th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, at Frederick Douglass High School in Atlanta.
TIFTON NATIONAL GUARD HELPS GIVE ALMOST 1 MILLION MEALS IN ATL.
The Tifton -based Georgia Army National Guard battalion recently helped the Atlanta Public Schools (APS) system distribute nearly 1 million meals to families affected by the pandemic .

From April 11 to the mission’s conclusion on May 18, to coincide with the end of the school year, soldiers from the Tifton-based 110th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 78th Troop Command , distributed 948,000 meals to approximately 50,000 families in the APS district.

“A lot of children relied on the school for prepared lunches as part of their dietary needs ,” said Capt. Athena Brown , officer in charge, 110th CSSB APS mission. “So, with the school shutting down due to COVID , that was basically two meals a day that students weren’t getting .”

Before the 110th CSSB arrived, the school system had personnel shortages and pieced together teams of volunteers for food distribution. However, community volunteers weren’t enough. Brown’s soldiers were able to fill in the gaps and increase the number of meals per week from 40,000 to 160,000 .

Brown said the mission aided parents who are now unemployed . Many of the families are already low income and lost even more during the shelter-in-place order, which allowed only essential personnel to continue working.

She said many of those families worried where they were going to get their next meal .

“They were so grateful ,” said Brown . “I had families actually cry because they were so happy that the food was available to get because there are single parents out here that are struggling .”
UGA DEVELOPS NEW VARIETY OF
MUSCADINE GRAPES IN TIFTON
From late summer into fall, Southerners look for muscadines — a popular grape native to the Southeastern United States . Selections run from the dark purple , thick-skinned traditional muscadine to a light golden-green variety.

And soon, growers and consumers can add a new red variety to the mix that has been developed in Tifton .

The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences’ muscadine grape team, led by horticulture Professor Patrick J. Conner in Tifton , developed a variety of muscadine, "RubyCrisp" for those who prefer the sweet taste of a berry with limited muscadine flavor.

“The unusual red color of this berry really makes it stand out,” Conner said. “But the tender skin and crisp flesh of this variety are what truly make it unique . The texture of this variety is a marked change from traditional muscadines, which are often known for having tough skins and a soft pulp .” 

Researchers found "RubyCrisp" to be a good fit for pick-your-own operations and home gardens because of its distinctive taste and texture and excellent productivity. Unfortunately, commercial production is not a good fit for this specialized berry because it often cracks with rough handling .

But RubyCrisp vines can flourish in the backyards of at-home cultivators looking to try the newest muscadine. RubyCrisp originated in Tifton as a result of a cross between Supreme and Tara varieties.

The original RubyCrisp vines were tested on UGA experiment plots in Tifton and at a commercial vineyard in Wray . UGA researchers found that heavy rainfall can lead to fruit cracking . RubyCrisp has a mid-season harvest date around Aug. 21 in South Georgia and has perfect flowers so it does not need a pollinator .

UGA has the oldest muscadine breeding program in the U.S. The program began in 1909 , and since it has released more than 30 cultivars.
DOLLAR GENERAL AWARDS $10,000
TO SRTC FOR ADULT LITERACY
The Dollar General Literacy Foundation recently awarded the Southern Regional Technical College (SRTC) Foundation a $10,000 grant to support adult literacy

The local grant is part of more than $8.6 million in grants awarded to more than 950 schools, nonprofits and organizations across the communities that Dollar General serves. 

“Our service delivery area has communities where 15-27 percent of the adult population do not have a high school diploma or its equivalent ,” said Melissa Burtle , SRTC's director of adult education.

“The Dollar General Literacy Foundation has been a great supporter of the adult education program at SRTC by providing much-needed scholarships for GED testing, tutoring, and promoting literacy efforts in the community. This partnership helps enhance and promote our efforts in ensuring that more of our communities are literate.”

SRTC's Adult Education Program is designed to aid individuals who require assistance with basic academic skills . Flexible programs with non-traditional classroom hours include instruction in basic skills, GED preparation and testing, and English language acquisition. The services are free and available at various locations in Tift, Turner, Worth, Colquitt, Decatur, Early, Grady, Miller, Mitchell, Seminole , and Thomas counties.
FITZGERALD STUDENT NAMED TOPS
IN ABAC BUSINESS SCHOOL
Jennifer Pardo from Fitzgerald has been selected as the top student in the Stafford School of Business at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College and will receive the Award of Distinction .

Pardo is majoring in ABAC’s bachelor’s degree in business. She has compiled a 3.8 grade point average on a 4.0 scale. Her aspiration is to work for the Georgia Chamber of Commerce .

Bilingual in Spanish and English , Pardo has been selected for the Dean’s List and as a Superior Honor Student . She has also served as treasurer for the Cultura Latina Club.

Pardo has worked as the head community assistant in the ABAC housing complex and as an intern with the Human Resources Department at the Tift Regional Health System .
RADIOLOGIST, CO-FOUNDER OF TIFTON'S DIXIE OIL CO. DIES IN TALLAHASSEE
Dr. William Frederick Lindsey , a Lenox native and Tallahassee, Fla. , radiologist who co-founded Tifton-based Dixie Oil Co. with his brother, died recently at his Florida home.

Lindsey, 92 , was born Dec. 11, 1927 , in Lenox . After school and during the summers as a young boy , he worked on his father’s farm and helped take truckloads of produce to markets in Atlanta, Jacksonville, Orlando , and as far away as New York City .

He learned about stock investment from his grandfather and began buying stock as a teenager with his earnings. Lindsey attended Gordon Military College in Barnesville , and, after graduating in 1944 , attended Gordon Junior College and later Emory University .

He was drafted into the U.S. Army and sent to occupied Japan in 1947 after World War II. After serving as a 2nd lieutenant, he returned to Emory and later attended Georgia Medical College in Augusta .

After returning from Japan , he co-founded with his brother the Dixie Oil Co. of Tifton in 1951 . He used his earnings saved from the Army , and, together with his brother and cousin , built the company to more than 100 gasoline stations and convenience stores.

Dixie Oil currently has 15 employees in Tifton and 75 employees across the company in all locations.

Lindsey later spent 40 years as a radiologist with Tallahassee Memorial Hospital , where he served a stint as chief of the medical staff . He later worked with the Veterans Administration .
TIFTON GRAPEVINE'S PET OF THE WEEK
This dog is currently on stray hold at the Tift County Animal Shelter . If not reclaimed, the dog will be available for adoption or rescue . For animal adoptions, visit   the  Tift County Animal Shelter from 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
St. Louis Post-Dispatch photo
Ken Retzer greets President John F. Kennedy after catching the president's first pitch of the 1963 MLB season.
MLB PLAYER, STARTED CAREER IN TIFTON, DIES
Ken Retzer , who began his professional baseball career in 1954 with Tifton's Class D minor league team – a farm club of the Cleveland Indians – and went on to play Major League Baseball with the Washington Senators , died May 16 .

Retzer , 86, died at his home in Sun City, Ariz. A catcher , he played for the Senators from 1961-64 after playing in the minor leagues for eight seasons.

He signed with the Cleveland Indians before the 1954 season and was sent to the Tifton Indians Class D team, where Retzer got his pro ball career off to a good start, hitting .307 with eight homers and throwing out a reported 122 baserunners in his first year .

The Tifton team was established in 1949 as the  Tifton Blue Sox  as a member of the Florida State League. The team moved to the Georgia-Florida League in 1951 . In 1954-55 , the team became the Indians because of its Cleveland affiliation. The baseball team then was renamed the Tifton Phillies in 1956 after being affiliated with the Philadelphia Phillies.

As a Washington Senator , Retzer caught the traditional first pitch of the 1963 season from President John F. Kennedy at D.C. Stadium . He also caught the first pitch of Major League Baseball’s 100,000th game in September 1963 . In that game, pitcher Benny Daniels threw the first pitch, time was called, and the baseball Retzer caught was taken out of the game and sent to the Baseball Hall of Fame .

“I always tell people my fingerprints are on that ball, because that’s the closest I’ll come to getting in the Hall of Fame ,” Retzer later told a reporter.
TIFTON CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
HOLDS MEN'S 'SMOKER'
– MAY 27, 1910
The Tifton Chamber of Commerce will entertain Tifton's businessmen at a "smoker" on the evening of May 27, 1910, at the Elks Club. " About 300 invitations have been issued, and a royal good time is expected," according to press reports. "The entertainment committee expects to have several out-of-town speakers , and the evening will be devoted to the discussion of Tifton's business interests and steps taken to promote her commercial importance."
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Frank Sayles Jr.
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