Friday, February 5, 2021
Tifton, Georgia
Tifton Grapevine
Tift County Schools will return to “Green” status with daily in-person classes on Monday for the first time since the Christmas holidays.

For the past month, Tift schools have been on “Yellow” status, meaning that some students attended in-person classes on Mondays and Wednesdays, and other students on Tuesdays and Thursdays with everyone having online instruction on other days.

"We have received and reviewed current data from the Department of Public Health, and based upon the continued improvement of the (COVID-19) numbers, all Tift County schools will return to Green status beginning Monday, Feb. 8," the school system announced Thursday.

"We will continue to follow all protocols and procedures, including wearing masks when physical distancing is a challenge."

Average daily cases of COVID-19 have continued to decline in Tift County, now averaging 43 per 100,000 population, according to Emory University data. In early January, Tift was averaging 126 cases per 100,000 daily.

During the past two weeks, Tift County has reported 111 new coronavirus cases, which is 272 per 100,000 population. The positive testing rate in the county during the period is 11 percent, the Ga. Department of Public Health (DPH) reported.

Tift has had a total of 3,292 reported cases and 88 related deaths, the DPH said.

Statewide, 4,011 new cases were reported on Thursday along with 141 additional deaths and 294 new hospitalizations. Since the pandemic began, Georgia has seen 763,077 cases and 13,048 deaths of state residents.
Will Graham, the Rev. Billy Graham's grandson, will conduct an evangelistic celebration Saturday in Tifton, postponed nearly a year because of the pandemic.
Tifton Grapevine
For the first time in its history, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association will conduct a simultaneous in-person and online broadcast of a crusade, the Tiftarea Celebration with Will Graham, and it will be in Tifton at First Baptist Church at 7 p.m. Saturday.

“While it’s not how we had originally planned it, I’m incredibly excited to finally share the hope of Jesus in Tifton,” says Will Graham, the grandson of the late Rev. Billy Graham.

“I pray that Christians across the region will invite their friends and family to attend the event with them, either in person or online, and that God will move in a mighty way in South Georgia. We need hope now more than ever,” he said.

The venue will seat 500 masked, socially distanced people. As of Thursday night, seats were still available. Reservations are required and will be cut off today (Friday). Because physical space is limited, the Tiftarea Celebration will also be broadcast live at To register, Click Here!

Visitors to the website have the option of choosing in person or online. Reservations should be made as soon as possible. 

“I’ll be speaking on the subject of peace,” Graham told the Tifton Grapevine. “Peace of mind and peace with God. Things of this world don’t satisfy the human heart. Things that satisfy are found through knowing Jesus Christ.”

Some people think a new home or a new car will satisfy their craving, he said, and when they get it, they want more. 

“People are searching. They wonder what the world is coming to. They have so many questions. The Bible has answers for us that satisfy.”

The Tifton celebration is also the first time such an event is held at a church. “We work with a lot of different venues,” Graham said, “but not usually a church. This is what works best for Tifton. We really wanted to come to Tifton. The churches worked so hard and the community worked so hard to make this happen.”

Tifton’s upcoming event was the first to be postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He said the organization works two to three years out with scheduling, so 2021 will be full with two years’ worth of events. The organization sponsored many online events in 2020.

“This one will be a bit tricky, with a live audience and an online audience,” Graham said, “but tricky from the standpoint of the preacher, not the technology.” He said there will be trained counselors to follow up with people who make decisions for Christ, both in person and online. 

Musicians participating in the event are Aaron Shust and Rhett Walker, both of whom were slated to perform as part of the originally scheduled three-day event last March. Organizers are encouraging area congregations to organize safe and socially distanced “watch parties” in their churches and homes.

Another first, a video, "The Quest," will be shown for the first time in the U.S. at KidzFest, an hour-long special event designed for children – in person only at 10 a.m. Saturday at First Baptist Church. A virtual-reality gaming concept with a Christian message, "The Quest" features Graham, who will emerge in costume in person from the video. KidzFest will feature live music by kids band Go Fish. As with the evening program, seating is limited and reservations are required at 

Will Graham of Asheville, N.C., is the third generation of Grahams to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ under the banner of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. The grandson of the Rev. Billy Graham and oldest son of Franklin Graham, Will has spoken to more than 1 million people on six continents since beginning his evangelistic ministry in 2006. Previously, he was a pastor in Raleigh, N.C., for two years.   
Tampa Bay Super Bowl LV Host Committee photo
Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, home of Sunday's Super Bowl, has Tifway 419 Bermuda grass developed in Tifton.
Tifton Grapevine
Once again, grass developed in Tifton will be used on the field for Super Bowl LV this Sunday at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

When the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers take the field Sunday, they will be stepping on 18-month-old Tifway 419 Bermuda grass, which has been used at numerous Super Bowls, World Cups and golf tournaments. Last year's Super Bowl in Miami was also played on Tifway 419.

The grass was developed by the late Dr. Glenn W. Burton at Tifton's Coastal Plains Experiment Station.

Tifway 419, released in 1960, has been the standard for golf course tees, fairways and roughs throughout the southern United States for decades before being used on football fields. In fact, the name Tifway comes from a combination of Tifton and fairway

Because it has a fast recovery rate from wear and traffic, Tifway 419 Bermuda grass is used on football fields in many warm-weather locales and in several National Football League stadiums in the South and the West.

Tifway 419, bred and grown in Georgia, is a benchmark product of the University of Georgia’s world-class turfgrass breeding program,” Laura Perry Johnson, associate dean for University of Georgia Cooperative Extension, told the Ga. Department of Agriculture.

UGA turf varieties perform well growing on football fields and fairways, front lawns and backyards. We are proud to contribute to Super Bowl LV and look forward to seeing this vibrant Bermuda grass variety on the playing field Sunday,” she said.

Turfgrass and related industries have an estimated $8 billion impact on Georgia’s economy annually, according to the state.

Sunday's Super Bowl kicks off at 6:30 p.m.
Tifton Grapevine
The Young Writers Initiative, a project of the Rotary Club of Tifton and the Tift County Foundation for Educational Excellence (TCFEE), will allow some Tift County youths to become published authors.

The Rotary Club and education foundation will publish a book of selected writings by Tift County youth in grades ninth through 12th. The initiative is open to all youth in those grades in public schools, private schools and those who are home-schooled.

Students may generate an original story of up to 3,000 words in any genre, such as fiction, non-fiction, memoir, fantasy, horror, biography, etc. All submissions should be in Microsoft Word format and emailed, by April 19, to:

A committee will select the entries to be published. Entries will be judged on originality, creativity and story structure.

"Creative minds wanted – fact, fiction, or wherever your imagination takes you," said Rick Register, Rotary president. "The Tifton young authors program, sponsored by the Tifton Rotary Club and TCFEE, looks forward to publishing select works in short story form. Budding writers, grades nine-12, are invited to have their work recognized."
Kaylar Howard, TCFEE president, said the organization is "thrilled to be able to offer the Young Writers Initiative to students in our area. We are always excited and awed to see the works produced by our talented students. We hope this project will generate more enthusiasm for reading and writing, and remind children in the Tifton area that they can do anything.

"We are looking forward to all the adventures that our young writers have to share."

An online contest is being held to name the book, with the winner receiving one copy of the book. Name suggestions may be made on the two organizations' Facebook pages.

The book will be available to the community to purchase in both digital and printed form. Student authors selected for the book will receive a copy in both digital and printed formats, and will be recognized at a book signing and/or public reading.
Click Here for Available Positions.
Tifton Grapevine
Unemployment rates rose throughout the Tiftarea during December, according to data recently released by the Ga. Department of Labor (DOL).

Tift County saw its jobless rate increase to 4.8 percent from November's 4.4 percent, the DOL reported. A year ago, Tift's rate was 2.9 percent. There were 19,509 Tift countians employed in December, the DOL said.

Statewide, Georgia's unemployment rate rose slightly to 5.4 percent from November's 5.3 percent. But even with that, there were more jobs available than the previous month.

“December is yet another month where we have seen job growth throughout the state,” Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said. “We more than doubled our job growth from November, which is very promising, considering how challenging of a year this has been. Georgia has gained back 82 percent of the jobs we lost at the beginning of the pandemic."

In other local counties, December's jobless rates were: Turner, 8.2 percent; Irwin, 5.6; Worth, 5.4; Cook, 4.5 ; Berrien, 4.7; and Ben Hill, 7.2 percent.
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Dave Hetzel, at middle, president of Easterseals in Tifton, accepts a donation from Ron Branch, Brenda Wood Smith and Joe Pope, owners of Century 21 Smith Branch & Pope.

At each closing transaction, all agents of Century 21 SBP make a contribution to Easterseals with the company matching the dollar amount.

Easterseals is America’s largest non-profit healthcare organization committed to serving individuals of all ages with disabilities, veterans, seniors, and their families. 
Tift County's "Community Care Day," an annual event that provides free resources in the areas of health, fitness, safety, and disability information, has been canceled this year.

“Although we would love to go forward with this community event, we know the safest decision we can make for our overall community is to cancel the event for this year,” said planning committee member Beth Lewis.

“However, we fully intend to have this wonderful event on March 12, 2022, and we now have additional time and resources to plan and prepare. We know that we will be able to come back bigger and better next year, and our community will be better off for us having held off this year.” 
Tifton Grapevine
What will the Tifton Museum of Arts and Heritage look like in 2021 in this time of COVID-19? Built on the experiences of 2020, the museum will continue its virtual classes and workshops, “Take-Home Art Boxes,” Tifton Strong arts contest, art scholarships, modified exhibits, a virtual fundraiser and more. 

Joy Yost, museum director, told the Tifton Rotary Club on Wednesday about the many art opportunities available, especially virtual ones. Most of these features can be accessed through the website For instance, a virtual art store showcases local art and books from local markets.
Upcoming online classes for children and adults may be viewed on the website. The supply kits for class may be picked up at the museum the night before the class after registration. “Chocolate and a Canvas" is a class coming up Feb. 9. "Intro to Drawing" is being offered in separate classes for those aged 12 to 112 on Feb. 18, and for children ages 5-11 on Feb. 25. Tracy Wilson, art teacher at Eighth Street Middle School, is leading the classes.

"Celebrate Creativity," a community art celebration and market usually held in November, was cancelled in 2020 because of the pandemic. The museum has
received a Georgia Council for the Arts grant for the event.

“We’re determined to make it happen, perhaps in the spring,” Yost said. “Its purpose is to celebrate creativity in all its forms.”

The museum has partnerships with other community organizations, including Tifton Tourism, the Downtown Development Authority, Tifton Main Street, the Tifton-Tift County Public Library, the Tifton Housing Authority and many local businesses, restaurants, banks and others. Volunteer opportunities exist among those who would like to focus on and promote the arts.

“One of our goals to make art available to everyone,” Yost said.
Five Tift County High Blue Devils signed letters this week to continue their football careers at the collegiate level. From left are Garrett Sumner, Aurora University (Ill.); Daniel Whitehead, Savannah State University; Wendell McClain, Notre Dame College (Ohio); Trey Barnes, Graceland University (Iowa); and Cade Anders, U.S. Military Academy (N.Y.)
Armond Morris, a Tifton peanut farmer, has been re-elected chairman of the Georgia Peanut Commission.
This is Morris’ 20th term as chairman. He previously served in the position in 1996 and 1997, 2003, and every year since 2005.

“I look forward to serving Georgia’s peanut growers as chairman in 2021. It is a pleasure to serve peanut producers in the state of Georgia, and the commission is continually working to serve all peanut farmers in the state through research, promotion and education,” Morris said.

The Georgia Peanut Commission represents more than 4,500 peanut farm families in the state and conducts programs in the areas of research, promotion and education.
The line was long even before dawn Jan. 23 as the Second Harvest food bank distributed food to residents in Tifton at the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center.
Second Harvest of South Georgia, the region's leading domestic hunger-relief organization, is holding another free food distribution in Tifton this Saturday, Feb. 6, at the Ga. Museum of Agriculture on Whiddon Mill Road.

The distribution begins at 7:30 a.m. Cars cannot line up before 4:30 a.m. or may be sent to the back of the line.

Food will be placed in the trunks of vehicles; no walk-ups allowed. Food will be available while supplies last.

The Second Harvest food bank serves 30 counties with branches in four cities.
A new date has been set for Tifton's 2021 Rhythm & Ribs BBQ Festival, originally scheduled March 6 at Fulwood Park.

"We have confirmed our new date and look forward to seeing you under the pines of Fulwood Park on Oct. 9, 2021," festival organizers said Thursday.

The festival is being postponed because of the pandemic.

"This was a very difficult decision to make and one we were hoping to avoid,” the organizers said in a statement. "However, in order to abide by current CDC guidelines and the governor’s executive order, it is in the best interest of staff, vendors, teams and festival-goers that we postpone to a later date." 

Organizers are working with entertainers, who were originally scheduled, in hopes of confirming them for the new date.

The festival has become popular in recent years with its professional and backyard BBQ competitions, children's games and activities, arts and crafts vendors, food vendors, and live entertainment.
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This male pooch, 2-3 years old, is available for adoption at the Tift County Animal Shelter, located at 278 Georgia Highway 125 S. The shelter is open to the public for adoptions from 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  

Each Friday, area yard sales can be
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thousands of local residents!
Fees are $1 per word, paid in advance
JAN. 28
The Rev. William Sumner Sr., 84, Tifton
Linda Joyce Hasty Allen, 73, Monroe
Alvin Latroy Hightower, 60, Tifton

JAN. 29
Sarah Athleen Mullis Bennett, 79, Tifton
Edward "Ed" Gerald Hammock, 69, Worth County

JAN. 30
William Ernest “Bill” Vance, 82, Tifton
Benjamin “Ben” Hill Flournoy, 79, Tifton
Zelma Sirmans Hargett, 99, Tifton
Allen Darrell Ball, 65, Tifton
Janette Reinhardt Phelps, 94, Tifton
Everett Edgar Parks, 74, Sylvester
Ronda Rowan Rockwell, 58, Valdosta
Elva Kent Shaw, 92, Williamson

JAN. 31
Herbert Benford, 91, Sylvester
Helen Ellenburg Narred, 89, Poulan
Joe Thompson, 87, Doerun
Maxine Shiver "Granny Mac" Etheredge, 88, Doerun
Johnny E. Beck, 89, Fitzgerald

FEB. 1
Thelma Harris Clark, 80, Tifton
Essie Howard Hufstetler Booth, 100, Norman Park
The Rev. Bill McCamon, 81, Worth County
James Ray "Ray Ray" Sumner, 76, Sparks
George "Dean" Barfield Jr., 53, Sycamore
Thelma Clyde Walker Clark, 73, Fitzgerald
James “Jim” Wendell Smith, 65, Fitzgerald
Retha Marie Sumler Coleman, 76, Midway
Lana Cheryl Edge, 78, Fitzgerald
Jackie Anderson, 83, Valdosta

FEB. 2
Bonnie Sue Stone, 48, Nashville
Eddie Lee Edmondson, 69, Ashburn
Sherri Lynn Ellis, 57, Worth County

FEB. 3
William Harry Ferrell, 50, Tifton
Homer Dewitt Adams Sr., 71, Tifton
Frank Xavier Castagna, 93, Tifton
Mattie Mae Harris Bentley, 87, Tifton
June Walters, 73, Worth County
Eloise Clanton, 86, Nashville
Tony Lamar Price, 73, Nashville
Carlos Bennett, 67, Ocilla

FEB. 4
Vina Lackey Myers, 82, Chula
Quenton Saylor, Worth County
Nellie Sue Daniel Lindsey, 88, West Berrien

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Tifton Grapevine
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