Friday, Aug. 7, 2020
Tifton, Georgia
Tifton Grapevine
Tift County schools begin the new school year today, a very different experience than in the past because of the pandemic.

"We can’t wait to see our kids online and back in school,” schools’ spokesman Jonathan Judy said Thursday.

All students will begin their first day online today. Beginning next week (and for at least the next two weeks) students who have opted for in-school instruction will be on a rotational schedule: Some will be inside the school buildings on Mondays and Wednesdays, and others on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

On those days when students aren't physically in class, they will receive online instruction, including on Fridays. Approximately 70 percent of parents have chosen physical instruction inside school facilities for their children. The remaining 30 percent have opted for strictly online instruction.

The Tift School System is beginning the school year under a “Yellow” designation. Because of the pandemic, there are three designations governing school protocols. “Green” means schools are open in a traditional manner with enhanced precautions; under "Yellow," schools are open but on a rotational schedule and with additional precautions and protocols; "Red" means schools are closed and learning is accomplished online.

School officials said the Yellow scenario was determined after reviewing data from local and state health officials. The designation will be re-evaluated within two weeks.

"I wish there was a playbook for this,” Tift County Schools Superintendent Adam Hathaway has said.

To read the school system’s Back-to-School “Return Plan,” Click Here!
Following a positive COVID-19 test result, Tift County High School Blue Devils varsity football players are self-quarantining until Aug. 14 when practice can resume, a school system spokesman said Thursday.

The team is following guidelines from the Ga. Department of Public Health and the Georgia High School Association (GHSA), said Tift spokesman Jonathan Judy. While quarantining, the students will participate in online instruction.

Judy said the football coaches may return from quarantine on Monday.

On Thursday, GHSA Executive Director Robin Hines issued additional guidance about extra-curricular activities, eliminating prep football's preseason scrimmage games in the state but allowing football practice to continue in a "controlled environment."

Hines said the decision was made because of "high risk and physical contact." The season's first football game will be on Sept. 4, as previously decided.

The competition cheerleading season is also being adjusted to "align with the proposed new dates for region and state championship," Hines said. The tentative first date for competitions would be Nov. 21, with tentative state cheerleading finals Feb. 26-27.

One-act play competition is tentatively being moved to the spring semester, Hines said.
A 7-year-old boy from the Savannah area has died from COVID-19, the youngest person in Georgia known to have died from the virus, state health officials said Thursday.

While few details about the Chatham County boy have been released, he reportedly had no known previous health issues.

Also Thursday, the Ga. Department of Public Health (DPH) reported that deaths from the coronavirus in the state have now surpassed 4,000. The DPH said total deaths as of Thursday afternoon are 4,026 with a total 204,895 positive cases of COVID-19.

In the previous 24 hours, there were 3,250 additional cases in Georgia, 42 deaths, and 214 additional hospitalizations.

In Tift County, a total 1,297 cases were reported Thursday, an increase of 10 in 24 hours, along with 35 total deaths and 173 hospitalizations. In the past two weeks, 182 positive cases were reported, the DPH said.

Tift County’s cases represent 3,177 per 100,000 population.
The festival committee of Tifton’s Hometown Holiday Christmas Celebration announced Thursday that, "with great disappointment" the city’s annual Christmas festival and parade, scheduled for Dec. 5, in Downtown Tifton, has been canceled because of "the uncertainties of the coronavirus pandemic." 
The decision to cancel the festival and parade came after "careful thought and consideration of the safety of attendees, staff, vendors, sponsors, and entertainers,” the festival committee said in a press release.
“We recognize that Hometown Holidays is a beloved holiday tradition in Downtown Tifton, and while this was not an easy decision to make, we believe it is the right one,” said Abbey McLaren, Downtown Development Authority director.

“Hometown Holiday Christmas Celebration will return next year on Dec. 4, 2021, with gusto, so please mark your calendars,” McLaren said.

The festival requires months of planning and negotiations with vendors and entertainment acts. This year’s event would have marked the 22nd anniversary; the festival usually takes place annually on the first Saturday of each December.
The University of Minnesota football team’s website offers thanks to Tifton’s Rashod Bateman for igniting the team into a Big Ten powerhouse.
Rashod Bateman, University of Minnesota All-American wide receiver – and former Tift County High football star – has opted out of the 2020 college football season amid concerns about COVID-19.

Bateman will forgo his remaining two years of college eligibility to enter the 2021 National Football League draft.

He said it was “the hardest decision that I’ve ever had to make in my life.” Bateman was a third-team All-American and was the Big Ten Conference’s Receiver of the Year.

As a Minnesota Gopher, the Tifton native had 111 receptions (tied for 12th in school history), 1,923 total yards (tied for 8th) and scored 17 touchdowns (tied for 5th) in two seasons.

“Rashod played a pivotal role in helping mold the University of Minnesota into an elite Big Ten program,” tweeted Coach P.J. Fleck. "He was a joy to coach and has developed into an NFL caliber of player. We could not be more proud of Rashod’s historic and All-American career at Minnesota.”

A writer for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune wrote that "Bateman was the talent who made the Gophers look like they belonged in the same athletic stratosphere as Penn State and Auburn."

Minnesota Gophers Athletic Director Mark Coyle added, "He believed in something bigger than himself and wanted to forge his own path. Rashod is a tremendous football player and an exceptional young man. ... He helped change our program forever."
Tifton Grapevine
The coronavirus last week took the life of one of Tifton’s quiet heroes; Don Chandanais Sr., 74, died of COVID-19 related complications on July 31. He was better known around town as “Santa” and “the Balloon Man."

For 17 years, Chandanais delighted hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of children as Santa at the Tifton Mall. As his obituary notes, “He told every child that Christmas was not about Santa, but that it was Jesus’ birthday, so, before you go and see what Santa brought, be sure to look up to the sky and wish Jesus a very happy birthday."
As a friend wrote on social media: "Nothing about Don's appearance was contrived – the beard, the glasses, the belly, and the twinkle in his eyes were all genuine ... the man was born to be Santa. I don't think he ever had an uninterrupted meal in public without a child pointing and whispering, 'Mommy, I think that's Santa;' and he loved it. He would always take time to make them a balloon animal, talk to them and, most importantly, listen to them."

Another post on social media included a photo of a "sweet memorial for Santa" earlier this week at a Tifton Waffle House: "They said every morning he ate breakfast at that spot and was so loved and had a life well lived."

Before retiring, Chandanais worked in the maintenance department at Tifton Aluminum Co. He had also been in the military and had served two tours of duty in the Vietnam War. But for many local people, he will always be remembered simply as Santa.

As one Tifton resident wrote online, "Christmas won’t be the same this year."
Charleston L. Carter of Charlotte, N.C., former court administrator for the Tifton Judicial Circuit, has been elected to serve on the Board of Directors for the National Association for Court Management (NACM) for a term ending in 2021.

Carter was one of three directors to be recognized by immediate past President Will Simmons and awarded the Lady Justice Pin for outstanding leadership and dedication to the association through service on NACM committees.

Carter is a decorated court professional who serves as chair of the Communications Committee. He completed the Certified Court Manager program with the National Center for State Courts Institute for Court Management and recently completed the Institute for Court Management’s Public Relations course.

He currently is the trial court administrator for the Superior Court of North Carolina’s 26th Judicial District, Mecklenburg County.

He received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in criminal justice from Valdosta State University and has earned several certifications, including a master of certificate of court administration from Michigan State University and a certification in judicial philosophy from Harvard University
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Your next pet is ready for adoption at the Tift County Animal Shelter. The shelter, located at 278 Georgia Highway 125 S., in Tifton, 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  
Important Phone Numbers & Web Sites
Willie Pearl West, 77, Nashville
Mildred Louise Walker, 87, Tifton
Deanna Greene, 60, Lake Park
Douglas Houston Morris, 62, Tifton
David Paul Smith, 55, Fitzgerald

Donald R. Chandanais Sr., 74, Tifton
Jo-Ann Carlton Blair, 77, Adel
John Allchin, 60, Nashville
Lenora Folds Gibson, 85, Adel

AUG. 1
Helen Elizabeth Wright Bledsoe, 96, Tifton
Glenda Nichols Grizzard, 74, Tifton
Mary Guadalupe Vasquez, 72, Omega

AUG. 2
Peter Damian Roberts, 58, Tifton
Robert William Doedyns, 79, Kingsland
Norma Raines McCall, 85, Ashburn

AUG. 3
Sudie Green Cross, 89, Scooterville
Bruce Allan Fullerton, 84, Ray City
Bonnie W. Twilley, 91, Fitzgerald
Marvin Thompson, 88, Alapaha

AUG. 4
Karen Lynn Powell, 53, Tifton
Opal Elizabeth Weeks, 90, Tifton
Steve “Sonny” Stinson Jr., 81, Enigma 
Donna Lynne Blalock, 57, Chula
Lucille Watson Hobby, 85, Ashburn

AUG. 5
Phyllis Diane White, 67, Albany
AUG. 6
Joey Martin Hall, 69, Tifton
Clarie Myers Whitfield, 82, Sylvester
Felicia Bayard Barber, 60,
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