Friday, Sept. 24, 2021
Tifton, Georgia
Photo by Bonnie Sayles
Tift County High School seniors Ja’Nasha Holley and Emma Mendieta, from left, pose at the TCHS homecoming parade Thursday. Both students are members of the homecoming court. The queen will be crowned during tonight's football game.
Tifton Grapevine
Autumn arrived this week and with it, cooler weather – football weather. And under the lights tonight at Brodie Field, Homecoming arrives ... along with the Worth County High Rams.

Tift County High's homecoming theme is "Protecting the Brand," and that’s what the Blue Devils hope to do. They have a 4-1 record going into tonight’s game. But Worth County is now at 3-1 this season and is still smarting from last year's 47-0 loss to Tift County at the Ram's home field in Sylvester.

Worth County would love to avenge that loss in Tift's own house. Can they stop the Blue Devils' momentum following their win last week over a tough Irwin County? There is excitement among the Blue Devil faithful, as evidenced by the crowd at Thursday’s homecoming parade in Tifton.

Get ready for “fireworks" both on and off the field, both figuratively and literally. Following the crowning of Tift's homecoming king and queen at halftime, fireworks are scheduled to be shot off from the Tift County Recreation baseball fields.

Many fans hope for plenty of “fireworks" in the end zone as well.

Here’s the boys' and girls' homecoming court for tonight’s festivities:

Freshman BoysYomar Casillo, John Davis; Freshman GirlsKate Carpenter,
Jaliya Miller.
Sophomore BoysEhan Hill, Kaylon Hill, Aaron Patel, Kamari Scott; Sophomore GirlsLaura Bautista; Ahh sha Hardy, Leah Lately, Dinae Robinson.
Junior BoysJavon King, Sergio Martinez, Gabriel Medders, Tyler Parker, Jonta Strozier, Michael Taylor; Junior GirlsLauren Brey, Kylee Cameron, Gloria Dalton, Ella Daniell, Camille Kelly, Hannah Larger.
Senior BoysLino Acosta, Zach Carter, Liam Gray, Ethan Jackson, Christian Massa, Zeke Shivers, Gavin Starling, Tyre West. Senior GirlsJenna Davis, Paige Hill, Ja'Nasha Holley, Jazyiah Johnson, Emma Mendieta, Calli Spikes, Ainsley Toews, Alexis Tucker.
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Tifton Grapevine
During the past two weeks, Tift County has recorded 113 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 272 total cases when rapid Antigen positive cases are added, says the Ga. Department of Public Health (DPH).

Tift County’s confirmed cases in the past two weeks represent 277 cases per 100,000 population, and 666 cases with Antigen positives. Tift's testing positivity rate for the virus was 11.9% during the two-week period, down significantly from the previous period when 14.4% was recorded, the DPH said.

There have been a total of 4,739 confirmed cases and 116 deaths in Tift since the pandemic bean, according to DPH data.

On Thursday, the DPH reported 3,508 new confirmed cases within 24 hours in Georgia, along with 1,268 new Antigen cases, 157 additional related deaths, and 307 new hospitalizations. The state has recorded a total of 1,203,812 cases with 21,865 deaths, the DPH reported.
Tifton Grapevine
Tift County's jobless rate remained at an all-time low of 2.6% in August, but the number of people in the workforce – throughout the region and the state – remains below pre-pandemic levels, says the Ga. Department of Labor (GDOL).

Tift’s 2.6% unemployment rate in August matched July's, in preliminary data that the GDOL released Thursday. In August 2020, Tift County had a 5.3% jobless rate.

The state unemployment rate in August was 3.5%, dropping two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous month, the GDOL said.

But even though Georgia is seeing record unemployment rates and continued increases in employment, the GDOL is concerned about attracting more people into the workforce to fill vacant jobs. The labor force remains 31,000 down from the number of Georgians in the workforce in March 2020, and the number employed remains down 26,000 from pre-pandemic levels.

"Job growth will become stagnant if we don’t fill the hundreds of thousands of jobs that we currently have open right now," said GDOL Commissioner Mark Butler.

"The unemployment rate is calculated by dividing the number of unemployed by the number of people in the labor force, and that includes both the unemployed and the employed. We are not seeing the number of Georgians rejoin the labor force at the same pace as we are seeing employers post jobs, and we are taking an in-depth look at why."

Among Tiftarea counties, the August jobless rates compared to the previous month rates are: Worth – 3.6% in Aug. vs. 3.6% in July; Turner – 5.2% vs. 5.3%; Irwin – 3.5% vs. 4.1%; Cook – 2.7% vs. 2.6%; Berrien –2.9% vs. 2.8%; and Bell Hill County – 4.1% in Aug. vs. 5% in July.
The Ga. Department of Natural Resources is hosting free events across the state to celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day on Saturday.

In addition to the events, a free fishing day is offered to all Georgia residents. On Sept. 25, residents will not need a fishing license or a trout license to fish on any public waters in the state including lakes, streams, ponds, and public fishing areas. 

At Paradise Public Fishing Area (PFA) in Enigma, not only will there be free fishing on Saturday, but Outdoor Adventure Day and J.A.K.E.S. Day will be observed.

From 7:30 a.m.-noon that day, a Kids Fishing Event will be held. Fishermen will provide their own bait.

At 9:30 a.m., a casting contest is scheduled, sponsored by Tifton BassBusters. At 10 a.m., the Department of Natural Resources K-9 unit will give a demonstration.

Registration opens at 9 a.m. for J.A.K.E.S. (Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics and Sportsmanship) Day events, a program sponsored by the National Wild Turkey Federation. Hunter education will be offered to youths, the archery range will be open, and Tift County 4-H will have a skeet range.

Both ABAC Forestry and the Georgia Forestry Commission will have displays available. The Mell Baptist Association is providing free bottled water and snacks. The National Wild Turkey Federation is providing a free lunch at noon in the picnic area; prize drawings are scheduled after lunch.

For information, contact the PFA office at 229-533-4792.
ABAC music faculty and The Waybacks will perform at the ABAC First Tuesday Series at 7 p.m. Oct. 5 in ABAC’s Howard Auditorium. 
ABAC music faculty and The Waybacks will be highlighted in the "Welcome Back to Music Concert" kicking off the First Tuesday Concert Series at 7 p.m. Oct. 5 at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College.

Cancelled last year because of the pandemic, the First Tuesday series has captured the spirits of South Georgians since Dr. Susan Roe created a compilation of talented artists in 2002 for performances on five selected Tuesday nights in ABAC’s Chapel of All Faiths.

First Tuesday moves to ABAC’s Howard Auditorium this year, and Roe promises the series will be bigger and better.

“We are so glad to bring First Tuesday back to all our friends in South Georgia,” said Roe, head of the ABAC fine arts department. “I missed seeing so many fine people last year, and we want to do it up right by moving the series to Howard Auditorium and providing wonderful entertainment at no charge.”

Members of ABAC’s music faculty and The Waybacks headline the free opening event. Roe said the faculty members will serenade visitors with skilled pianists, instrumental experts, and talented vocalists. The Waybacks, a mix of ABAC alumni and students, will perform jazz and blues tunes.

Next up in the First Tuesday series is Mark and Jennifer McQuade along with Joshua and Jen Pifer on Nov. 2. The series also includes performances by the Youngstown Guitar Duo on Feb. 1, the Oconee Chamber Players on March 1, and ABAC’s Broadway Stars on April 5.

For information, contact Roe at   
2012 Pineview Ave., Tifton, Ga 31793
South Georgia Banking Co. is asking folks to help “Spread the Hope” as part of Georgia Peanut Bank Week by donating a jar of peanut butter.

The collected jars will be given to local food banks in the banks' service area, including Tift, Colquitt, Turner, Crisp, Dooly, and Worth counties. Jars of peanut butter may be dropped off at any SGBC branch from Oct. 1-29; bank employees will deliver the boxes of peanut jars to the food banks. If possible, donors are asked to give plastic jars of peanut butter.

Georgia Peanut Bank Week celebrates the contributions that peanut farmers and peanuts make to the local and state economies. According to the UGA Cooperative Extension Service, Georgia is the No. 1 producer of peanuts in the United States, and Georgia peanut farmers provide more than 45% of the U.S. peanut crop each year.

For SGBC locations, visit  
Local residents will have two opportunities to get rid of scrap tires in the coming weeks.

The Tift County Board of Commissioners and the Tift County Public Works Department are holding a scrap tire amnesty event Oct. 8-9, for all Tift County residents.

Then, on Oct. 22-23, the City of Tifton and Keep Tift Beautiful are sponsoring a free tire and electronic recycling event for city residents.

In the first event, Tift countians may bring scrap tires to the Tift County Public Works Department at 2011 Whiddon Mill Road from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 8, and 8 a.m.-noon on Saturday, Oct. 9.

Scrap tires can only be passenger, tractor trailer, or front and rear farm tractor tires. No heavy equipment tires, especially skidder tires, nor tires with rims will be accepted. No scrap tires be accepted from retail tire dealers, or commercial scrap tire generators. 

Participants must bring proof of Tift County residency. For information, call 229-386-7856. 

On Friday, Oct. 22, and Saturday, Oct. 23, Keep Tift Beautiful and the City of Tifton are having a free tire and electronic recycling event from 8:30 a.m.-noon at the Cato Knight parking lot on Central Avenue in downtown Tifton.

Up to 10 tires, 22 inches or less, may be disposed of for free per city household. Participants will unload their own tires, and work gloves are suggested. City residents may also drop off broken or unwanted electronics, including cell phones, keyboards, computers, laptops, cables, VCR/DVD players, and cameras. Televisions and CRT computer monitors will not be accepted
The city event is funded by the Ga. Environmental Protection Division, Local Scrap Tire Abatement Reimbursement (STAR) program. This marks the fourth year the City of Tifton and Keep Tift Beautiful have held this event.

For information, call 229-391-3947 or visit
Staff Reports
A person without a high school diploma who then earns a GED will immediately add thousands of dollars to their annual earnings, the adult education director at Southern Regional Technical College (SRTC) told the Tifton Rotary Club on Wednesday.

“The average person that earns their GED, they instantly earn $10,000 more a year,” said Charles “Andy” Semones. “So, there is a direct economic impact. They may have multiple kids and all kinds of things going on, and they need that GED to get to the next step.”

At the Rotary meeting, Semones discussed the GED and English language programs at SRTC.

He said there are many ways for Rotarians to get involved, even by just reading to their children and grandchildren. “The simple things in getting literacy out there, that’s what matters,” he said.

Semones has been nominated for the Ga. Department of Community Supervision (DCS) Stakeholder Award, a statewide recognition of those who further the DCS mission. 

Semones is being recognized for his work with students seeking to earn their High School Equivalency (HSE) at the Thomasville Day Reporting Center. Each year, the state award recognizes a DCS stakeholder who helps further the DCS mission, or makes significant contributions that increase public safety and/or the community good.

Dawn Hurst, director of the Thomasville Day Reporting Center (DRC), nominated Semones. Across the state, DRCs provide a non-residential prison diversion program targeted at high-risk, high-need people under supervision with a history of substance abuse and non-compliant behavior.

“Andy has been extremely instrumental with our GED program here at the Thomasville Day Reporting Center,” Hurst said in Semones’ nomination letter. “He has a passion for education, and it shows in our GED Program. Through Andy’s dedication to our program, we have had several participants successfully obtain their GEDs and become productive members of our community.”

Semones began working with DRC participants in Thomasville as an adult ed instructor in 2011. Hurst said that his efforts to support students went far beyond his job requirements. Semones has helped to provide educational materials and supplies for the students, and computers, desks, printers, and books.  

Semones told the Tifton Rotary Club that the GED instructor position for the Tifton DRC is open, and he is working to fill it. SRTC provides instructors for the Day Reporting Centers.

In his role as director for SRTC adult education, Semones oversees adult education programs on the college's multiple campuses, which includes providing free GED and HiSET exam preparation classes as well as adult literacy, English language, and career training.

Classes are offered online and in 11 counties. For information about adult education at SRTC, visit
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Worth County Economic Development Authority’s Worth Industrial Complex in Sylvester has been renewed as a state "GRAD Certified Select" site, meaning that it meets rigorous standards and is ready for quick development.

The Georgia Ready for Accelerated Development (GRAD) Program offers more than 68 industrial certified sites around the state that are ready for fast-track industrial projects, thanks to prior due diligence.

The Ga. Department of Economic Development awards GRAD status after proposed sites are reviewed by a third party and earn final approval of a board of advisors comprised of public and private-sector economic development professionals. The GRAD Certified Select status is an indication that a site has met or exceeded rigorous certification requirements. 
Amazon, Facebook, Starbucks, and Q CELLS are just a few of the companies in Georgia that have benefited from GRAD Certified properties,” said Scott McMurray, deputy commissioner of global commerce for the state economic development department.

“By earning GRAD Certified Select status, our communities are not only telling companies they’re ready to work with them on their next big project, they’re showing them. We look forward to seeing the future jobs and companies that these development-ready sites will attract.”
Medicare, Medicaid and most health insurance carriers cover an annual child wellness exam usually with no out-of-pocket expense to the parent, according to board-certified pediatrician Dr. Randi Tatum with Affinity Pediatrics in Moultrie, a service of Southwell.

Tatum says parents often ask if they need to get their kids a medical check-up every year even if it appears that they are healthy.

“It’s important that they come in at least once a year for a check-up, regardless of their age or health,” she said. “The main reasons are preventing medical issues and tracking growth and development.”

There are illnesses and injuries that don’t have immediate symptoms.

“If your child has an exam every year, it will be easier to identify potential problems,” Tatum said. “Plus, it gives the pediatrician an opportunity to treat them. Immunizations are also very important when it comes to prevention. Your pediatrician will make sure your child is up-to-date on all immunizations. An annual exam is also a great time to discuss proper nutrition and safety in the home and at school.”

She said most health plans cover a set of preventive health services for children without charging a copayment, even if a yearly deductible has not been met.

Southwell also has pediatric practices in Tifton, Ocilla, and Valdosta.
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This Saturday, Sept. 25, is National Hunting and Fishing Day. In Georgia, the day is observed by holding a free fishing day when fishing licenses are not needed to toss a line into the water, so "Go fish!"
  • Tift County High Blue Devils football vs. Worth County Rams, 7:30 p.m., Brodie Field, Tifton
  • Tiftarea Academy Panthers @ Pinewood Christian Academy Patriots, 7:30 p.m., Bellville

  • Tiftarea Auto Club's 'Goin Hog Wild Car Show,' 8 a.m.-3 p.m., UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center, Tifton
  • Skate Day at the Park!, 4 p.m., Fitzgerald Skate Park near American Legion Park, Fitzgerald
“Black-Eyed Susie" is available for adoption at the Tift County Animal Shelter on Highway 125 South. To see her and all 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  

Nina Storey Shaw, 67, Tifton
Gail Rogers, 67, of Albany, formerly of Worth County
Deborah Lynn Leach, 68, Nashville
Stacey Johnson, 54, Tifton
Robert Louis Watts Jr., 49, Tifton
Kay "Polly" Roberts, 68, Tifton
William Jimmy Tucker Sr., 82, Hawkinsville
Bonitta Ruth Bowman, Tifton
Glenn Jackson, 65, Sylvester
Linda W. Powell, 72, Worth County
Ashley Bartley Souter, 40, Worth County
Ben B. Mills Jr., 89, Fitzgerald
Harold Dutter, 87, Worth County
Margaret “Diane” Robinson Bostick, 71, Moultrie
William W. “Willie” Douglas Sr., 81, Fitzgerald
William Roger Barrett Sr., 75, Sparks
Clint Rountree, 45, Adel
Kelly Morgan Harper, 53, Irwin County
James Gaston Baker, 85, Worth County
Estelle E. Wynn, 97, Sycamore
Kenneth "Ken" Wayne Marshall, 64, Nashville
Hubert Johnson, 92, Tifton
Jimmy Lynn Barnes, 59, Enigma
Donna Claire Schwekendiek, 84, Tifton
Hugh Wayne Webb, 93, Tifton
Eleanor Lucille Lastinger DeBerry, 90, Tifton
Robert W. “Bob” Chaudoin, 90, Fitzgerald
David Allan Ledingham Jr., 54, Warner Robins
Ricky Ray Barnes, 59, Tifton
Patsy Gibbs Wilson, 82, Sycamore
Tifton Grapevine
e-published every Tuesday and Friday

Frank Sayles Jr.
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Bonnie Sayles
Managing Editor
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