MARCH 16, 2018
Tifton, Georgia


Tift County fell by 18 places from the past year among all Georgia counties in the  2018 County Health Rankings released Wednesday.

Tift is ranked 103 in health among the state's 159 counties. In 2017, Tift County was ranked 85.

Thirty-six percent of children in Tift County live in poverty, compared with 23 percent of children statewide and 20 percent nationally, according to the ninth annual rankings produced by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

Tift also ranks poorly regarding percentage of residents who smoke ( 21 percent), who are obese ( 33 percent), and who die in auto accidents involving alcohol ( 19 percent).

The 2018 County Health Rankings again showed affluent suburban counties as Georgia's healthiest, with Forsyth ranked as the healthiest county for the sixth straight year. After Forsyth, northeast of Atlanta, the next four are Oconee, Cherokee, Fayette and Gwinnett counties. They are followed by Columbia, Cobb, Harris, Paulding and Coweta.

The five Georgia counties in the poorest health, starting with least healthy, are Quitman, Warren, Crisp, Turner and Early. All are in South Georgia except for Warren, which is in the eastern part of the state.  Last year's rankings also had Quitman as the least healthy county.

"This year's county health rankings highlight the tremendous health disparities that persist in Georgia by zip code, race and ethnicity,'' said Marsha Davis, an associate dean at the University of Georgia's College of Public Health. "One of the key drivers of health status is poverty."

"Until we improve the social and physical environments in which all Georgians live, their income, and their educational achievement, it is unlikely that we can improve their health,'' Davis said. "This will require a close collaboration with public health, education, the private sector, economic development, chambers of commerce and other groups who may not have traditionally worked together."

To see the detailed rankings for each countyClick Here!


Another student has been arrested in connection with bomb threats at a Tifton school.

A student was  arrested Wednesday and  charged  with making terroristic threats at Tift County High School, Tifton Police said.

During an 8 a.m. class Wednesday, a student was reported as having made possible threats regarding a bomb at Tift County High. School staff looked into the allegations, and Tifton Police conducted an Investigation.

On  March 1 , Tifton Police arrested 13-year-old girl in connection with two bomb threats at Eighth Street Middle School .

Tyron Spearman, executive secretary of the National Peanut Buying Points Association and Tifton Tourism  director, leads his Tifton team in serving 700 grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwiches Monday at the state Capitol.

Ga. Ag Commissioner Gary Black and Georgia Peanut Commission Director Don Koehler of Tifton sample grilled PB&J's.
Lawmakers, other officials and state staffers were 
served 700 grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwiches Monday at the state Capitol during the annual Georgia PB&J Day.

March is National Peanut Month, and each year the peanut industry showcases Georgia's official state crop in the legislative halls in Atlanta.

Besides grilled PB&J sandwiches, there were country-fried peanuts, peanut candy and a variety of peanut treats.

"The state boasts the largest share of peanut production in the U.S. at nearly 50 percent for the 2017 crop," says Armond Morris, chairman of the Tifton-based  Georgia Peanut Commission

"Georgia's 3,500 peanut farmers contribute approximately $2 billion annually to the state and local economy," Morris said.

The Peanut Commission and Peanut Proud donated 10,080 jars of peanut butter to the Atlanta Community Food Bank during the event.


Heather Fletcher Tiftarea Academy's director of development and public relations, was the guest speaker Thursday at the Tifton-Tift County Chamber of Commerce's monthly membership meeting.

Fletcher told Chamber members about the private school in Chula. She said all members of this year's graduating class at Tiftarea Academy have been accepted at colleges and universities.


Officer Briechbiel with a furry friend.
MAVING WAVES:  Charleston Carter,  the former court
administrator of the 
Tifton  Judicial Circuit, was recently profiled in a publication of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg County, N.C., judicial circuit. Carter left Tifton in November to become the first black trial court administrator in Charlotte-Meckleburg County -- the largest judicial district in North Carolina. ... A DOGGONE GOOD DEED: While working at the recent Rhythm & Ribs Festival, Tifton Police Officer Jeremy Briechbiel sponsored a couple of dogs that were up for adoption with the Tift County Animal Shelter. Briechbiel not only walked the canines around the park but paid their adoption fees to ensure they went to good homes. ...  DANCING O' THE GREEN Tifton's  Leroy Rogers Senior Center  is celebrating St. Patrick's Day with a senior dance tonight -- Friday, March 16. All dancers are asked to bring a food dish. Doors open at 6 p.m. dining at 7 p.m., and dancing 8-11 p.m.   Everyone is asked to  wear  green .


Six individuals and one team will relive their glory days when they are inducted into the Class of 2018 of the Athletics Hall of Fame on April 6 at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College

Inductees are the 1982 state championship men's basketball team; Luis Paredes of Panama, 1974-76 men's tennis teams; Teresa Cromer Walker of Tifton, 1993-95 softball teams; Andy Vaughn of Douglas,1981-83 golf teams; Jorge Novoa of Tifton, a friend of the tennis program since 1972; Jenni Collins Smith of Cotton, 1980-82 women's basketball teams; and Chuck DeVane, formerly of Valdosta and now living in Hot Springs, Ark., from the 1980-82 baseball teams. 

"This is a great group of inductees, and I'm looking forward to hearing all the stories from their playing days," said  Athletics Director Alan Kramer. "We've been able to connect with some of our top performers from just about every sport at ABAC." 

As an added attraction, Polly Huff, assistant director and curator at the Ga. Museum of Agriculture, will feature an exhibit based on ABAC athletics entitled "The Glory Days" in the Museum Gallery. The exhibit will open to the public April 7 as a part of Homecoming Weekend

"We've got memorabilia ranging from Kyle Farnsworth's glove when he played in the major leagues to pictures and stories from previous Hall of Fame recipients," Kramer said. "The original Golden Stallion statue will be the centerpiece of the room. Anyone who loves sports is going to love this exhibit." 

Tickets to the 5 p.m. reception and dinner at ABAC's Museum of Agriculture are available at 229-391-4930. The deadline for tickets is March 26


J ohn Eunice spoke to the Tifton Rotary Club on Wednesday, sharing the story of his son James He noted "The Clock is Ticking," relating the influence that his son had on others in the 17 years of his life.

James Eunice was a senior at Valdosta High, honor student, and a VHS Wildcat football player when he died in a boating accident in 2011. He had hoped to play football at the University of Georgia.

At left in the photo are Tammy and John Eunice with Tifton Rotary President Shaundra Clark.


Louise Hetzel was the featured speaker Tuesday for the March meeting of the GFWC Tifton 20th Century Library Club at Leroy Rogers Senior Center. She told of her experiences as a transport volunteer for numerous dog rescue operations.

"(Mayor) Julie Smith got me involved. The first dog I transported, I was hooked!" Hetzel said. 
There are three reasons they transport dogs, she said. "One: out of a shelter to a rescue agency; two: from a rescue agency to a foster home; and three: from a foster home to a permanent home." 

Hetzel said her first transport was for Kindred Hearts Transport Connection. "It's a wonderful transport group. When I started five or six years ago, they had 26,000 members and 15,000 pilots all over the U.S. and Canada," she said. "One lady flies to Greece to get setters." 

Some of the rescue agencies have closed several dog meat farms in South Korea. "We lived in Taiwan and the Philippines while (husband) Dave was in the Air Force," Hetzel said. " Dog meat is a part of the culture there." 

She said her first transport was a pit bull that went to sleep with his muzzle in her hand while she drove. Hetzel said her route is from Valdosta to Cordele"You never go much over 100 miles," she said.

Hetzel recommended that anyone who wants a specific breed of dog should search online through rescue groups rather than through breeders. Among the groups she helps are Get Along Dachshunds, Pit Stop Pit Bull Rescue, New Ratitude for rat terriers, Pointer Rescue Organization, Ziggy's Rescue, and National Brittany Spaniel Transport of Canada. 

During the meeting, club members put together nine dog beds for the Tifton-Tift County Animal Shelter using quilting scraps and old pillow cases. Also, Treasurer Susan Saye gave Bonnie Sayles a donation in her honor to Literacy Volunteers of Tifton-Tift County
Club members create dog beds for the animal shelter. From left are Laverne Walker, Melanie Hasty, Laura Whitfield, Sybil Ogilsby, President Shirene Daniell, Bonnie Sayles, Debbie Thomson, speaker Louise Stamps Hetzel, and seated, Genie McCook.


Destination Ag student instructor McKenzie Lewis, left, and Lynn Lovett from Georgia Power with students from Annie Belle Clark Elementary School at the erosion table provided by Georgia Power.


Georgia Power recently made an investment with the ABAC Foundation to fund the building of an erosion/steam table for the Destination Ag program at the Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College Georgia Museum of Agriculture. 

"Georgia Power is proud to support Destination Ag in its efforts to connect students across the area with the importance of agriculture in our lives," said Lynn Lovett, Georgia Power's Tifton area manager. 

"As Georgia's No. 1 industry, agriculture is vitally important to the future of this region, and Georgia Power is dedicated to giving back to the communities we serve."

Museum Director Garrett Boone said the erosion/steam table provides a hands-on experience that puts science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) into action. An interdisciplinary approach to teaching how rivers work creates goo d stewards of natural resources and prepares students for careers in STEM fields, he said.



From bull riding to steer wrestling, the excitement of live rodeo action returns to Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College on April 6-7 when the ABAC Alumni Association presents its annual "Gee Haw Whoa Back" rodeo as a part of the 2018 Homecoming Weekend.  

Following the rodeo April 6, recording artist Jason Michael Carroll will
take the spotlight at approximately 9:30 p.m. to perform some of country's hottest music.

The Professional Cowboy Association-sanctioned rodeo at the ABAC Arena begins at 7 p.m. each night. Gates open at 6 p.m.
Cowboys will participate such events as bull riding, saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, team roping, calf roping, and steer wrestling. Cowgirls will compete in break-away roping and barrel racing. The ABAC Homecoming Court will be introduced at the rodeo April 6, and Stallion Cup Club winners will be announced at the rodeo April 7.   

Carroll debuted at No. 1 on the country chart in 2006 with his album "Waitin' in the Country."  The album featured Top 10 hits including "Alyssa Lies" and "Livin' Our Love Song."  He  has toured with country artists including Carrie Underwood and Alan Jackson

For information call 229-391-4900 or visit


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YOUR WEEKEND  st_patricks_day_gold.jpg
. a Glance

  • St. Patrick's Day Senior Dance, 6 p.m., Leroy Rogers Senior Center, Tifton
  • Kiwanis Club Arts & Music Showcase, 6 p.m., TCHS Performing Arts Center, Tifton
  • Wild Chicken Festival: The Bushmen street dance, 7 p.m., White Swan Parking lot, Fitzgerald
  • 'Home Free' Timeless World Tour concert, 7:30 p.m., UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center, Tifton

SATURDAY, MARCH 17 (St. Patrick's Day)
  • Wild Chicken Festival, all day (begins with 8 a.m. Masonic Lodge Pancake Breakfast), Main Street, Fitzgerald
  • Indoor Yard Sale, 7 a.m.-Noon, Tift County Recreation Department, Victory Drive, Tifton
  • The Gospel Starlights Ninth Annual Hometown Gospel Celebration, 6 p.m., Tift Theatre for the Performing Arts, Tifton


In Memoriam

Willine P. Young, 90, Wray
Ronnie W. Burnette, 67, Fitzgerald
Amy Calhoun Fletcher Kimsey, 94, Sylvester
Richard Lee Romberger, 59, Lakeland
Ola M. Williams, 81, Ashburn
Irene P. Warren, 95, Fitzgerald
Earl Williams, 58, Nashville

Carolyn "Nadine" Simmons Hall Needle, 87, Tifton
Alene Crews Griffin, 88, Tifton
Merle B. Shiver, 91, Sylvester
Futch Rupert Yarbrough, 93, Lakeland

Geraldine Spillers Walters, 75, Ty Ty
Louise Hawthorn Lockerman, 85, Tifton
David Loyd, 79, Oakfield
Henry L. Simpson, 68, Irwinville
Hattie Mae Lawson, 94, Albany
Delmar Hall, Ashburn

Betty Jean Tucker Mathis, 86, Tifton
Charles Lavon Lovett, 77, Ty Ty
Freddy Gaskins, 55, Nashville

Rebecca "Becky" Land Terry, 82, Tifton
Ida "Vivian" Stone Tucker, 94, Tifton
Benny Gillis, 68, Fitzgerald
Glenda J. Hobby, 68, Ashburn

Floyd Stanley McKellar Sr., 70, Tifton
Connie Hilton, 59, Dublin
Arthur Delmus Little, 79, Sycamore

Michael Hopkins Woodward, 74, Nashville
Carol Miles Whaley, 66, Tifton
Linda Williams Suggs, 65, Turner County

Betty Jewell Griffin Freeman, 89, Ocilla

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