Friday, September 25, 2020
Tifton, Georgia
Tifton Grapevine
Tift and every county in the Tiftarea saw a marked improvement in employment during August, according to the Georgia Department of Labor.

The Tiftarea mirrored the state as Georgia experienced a a decrease of 2 percentage points in joblessness from the previous month with a statewide rate of 5.6 percent.

The national unemployment rate was 8.4 percent.

"We anticipated a drop in the unemployment rate as we have seen many businesses re-engaging in the economy and bringing employees back to work," said Labor Commissioner Mark Butler.

Tift County recorded a 4.3 percent jobless rate in August, nearly 2 percent better than the 6.2 percent rate in July, according to Labor Department statistics.

Of Tift's 19,461 labor force in August, 18,632 individuals were employed, the state said.

"We have recovered over 65 percent of the jobs lost since the pandemic began mid-March," Butler said. "After the substantial decline in employment in April, these types of increases are exactly what we need to get us back on course."

The jobless rates in Tiftarea counties were: Turner, 6.5 percent (Aug.) / 8.2 percent (July); Worth, 4.4 percent / 5.9 percent; Irwin, 4.6 percent / 5.9 percent; Cook, 4 percent / 5.7 percent; Ben Hill, 5.9 percent / 7.5 percent; and Berrien, 4.3 percent / 5.9 percent.
Tifton Grapevine
Time is almost up for Georgians to participate in the 2020 Census, and Tift County's response rate is 57 percent, ranking it 63rd of Georgia's 159 counties. 

Many Census enumerators from Atlanta, other states and even Washington, D.C., are working out of Tifton, along with local Census workers, trying to catch up with those who still haven’t been counted.

Gov. Brian P. Kemp held a press conference Thursday afternoon urging residents to make sure their forms are completed by Sept. 30 so the state can get a fair shake from the federal government. 

“Georgians’ response to the 2020 Census will directly affect representation and funding for our state throughout the next decade," Kemp said. "The federal government has produced over $675 billion to states based on Census data for health care, food, education, and roads. Our rural assistance programs receive critical resources based on response rates, and the Peach State’s congressional representation in Washington is directly tied to how many Georgians take part in the Census. Literally, the stakes could not be higher.” 

Adding to the Covid-19-forced delay of counting efforts, the federal government has sent mixed messages about whether the counting period will stay shortened to Sept. 30 or lengthened.
“We’re asking all Georgians to please do the right thing and not wait to the last minute, but to fill your Census out,” Kemp said. “Do not assume that this deadline will be extended; please respond to the 2020 Census as soon as you can, and make sure it’s before September 30.”

The biggest remaining task for Census takers is to reach people who have been the most resistant to participating, said Anna Miller, co-chair of the state’s Complete Count Committee, according to the Georgia Recorder.

“Now we’re trying to approach people who haven’t historically responded 10 years ago, 20 years ago, and we’re trying to get the message out to people who, for whatever reasons, either aren’t comfortable responding, aren’t responding online or just haven’t been able to see the tangible need for a response,” she said.

To make sure you are counted, go to and follow the instructions. Otherwise, respondents may call 1-844-330-2020. It takes 10 minutes or less to complete.
Congressman Austin Scott, R-Tifton, said Thursday that Georgia is behind national trends, which could mean the state losing a congressional seat. Georgia ranks 45th in the nation in response.

Also, Scott said, “Rural America is behind the trends for metro America. We need more representation from rural America, not less. We need the money for schools, transportation, health care. If you’re not filling out that Census … (we) lose money that is allocated based on population. Fill it out and encourage everyone you know to do the same.” 
Tifton Grapevine
Tift County recorded 12 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Thursday for a total of 1,747 cases since the pandemic began, according to statistics from the Ga. Department of Public Health (DPH).

Tift has had a total of 56 coronavirus-related deaths of county residents and has had 222 residents hospitalized, the DPH said. The testing positivity rate in Tift County is 12.1 percent, according to state figures.

The DPH reported that Tift has seen 293 new cases within the past 14 days.

According to Emory University, the daily average of new COVID-19 cases in Tift County number 30 cases per 100,000 residents. In comparison, the daily average in Georgia is 14 cases per 100,000; the U.S. is 13 cases per 100,000 population.

As of Wednesday's figures, Emory reported that the daily average of new COVID-19 deaths in Tift County numbered 0.4 deaths per 100,000 residents. The daily average of deaths in Georgia was 0.5 per 100,000, and 0.2 deaths per 100,000 nationwide.

Georgia reported 1,452 new cases on Thursday, and 52 additional deaths in the state. Statewide, there have been a total of 311,046 cases in the Peach State with 6,822 deaths, the state reported.
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Lynn Lovett, Tifton area manager for Georgia Power Co., is the
new chair of the Southern Regional Technical College Board of Directors.

Lovett joined the board in 2012 with the former Moultrie Technical College. She began her annual term as chair Sept. 1.
She has worked for Georgia Power for more than 41 years.  Before coming Tifton, she held several positions within the company including Waynesboro area manager, community development representative and accounting analyst.

The SRTC Board advises the college on program direction; serves as a check and balance for the development and implementation of goals, objectives, policies and procedures; and advocates for SRTC within the community. Each local board member is selected and approved by the State Board of the Technical College System of Georgia.
To hear Austin Brown’s song “Earn It,” click on the above image.
Tifton native Austin Brown, a singer with the country a capella group Home Free, has just released his first solo single.

"Earn It," released Wednesday, is a "grooving get-‘r-done anthem," says the website

Brown wrote the song with Asher Postman and Steven Martinez.

"Low-and-slow vocals with a drawling delivery join laid-back lyrics and plenty of plucky country wisdom, as Brown rolls through the virtues of hard work and dedication," the website says.

To read the "Sounds Like Nashville" artcle, Click Here!

Tift County hosts the 19th annual Tift Invitational cross country meet on Saturday, Sept. 26, with high school and middle school teams.

The meet begins at 8 a.m. at the E.B. Hamilton Recreation Complex. Teams will be coming from throughout South Georgia.

Tift County has two regular-season meets scheduled after this weekend: At the Westover Invitational in Albany and the Bearcat Invitational in Bainbridge.
ABAC art professor Donna Hatcher died Aug. 9 after 18 years at the college.
A new student scholarship is being established at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College to honor the memory of ABAC art professor Donna Hatcher, who died at the age of 53 on Aug. 9.

“I believe this will be a fitting tribute to Donna for the many lives she touched while she was at ABAC,” said Chief Development Officer Deidre Martin. “Once we receive the necessary funding, the scholarship will be directed toward students from South Georgia who are enrolled in the ABAC fine arts program.”

Martin said contributions to support the establishment of the scholarship can be sent to the ABAC Foundation at Donna Hatcher Scholarship, ABAC 13, 2802 Moore Highway, Tifton, Ga., 31793.

Born in Albany, Hatcher spent most of her life in Mitchell County where she graduated as the valedictorian at Westwood School in Camilla. She continued her education at the University of Georgia, where she received her bachelor of fine arts degree before earning her master degree in art from Cornell University.

After starting her career in academics by teaching middle school students in Mitchell County, Hatcher began her tenure at ABAC 18 years ago. She taught courses in ceramics, woodworking, composition, painting, and photography.

For information on the scholarship, contact Martin at
"Please request your absentee ballot by September 30!
Early voting begins October 12!
I humbly ask for your vote in the upcoming election.”
The University of Georgia Tifton campus Ambassadors have been selected for this academic year, and are masked up and ready to go.

Pictured from left are: Courtney Conine, Marlyn Grantham, Josh Thrift, Summer Steele, Makenna Mabrey, and Morgan Sysskind.
Second Harvest of South Georgia returns to Tifton on Saturday, Sept. 26, for another free food distribution.

The distribution will begin at 7:30 a.m. Saturday in the parking lot of the Ga. Museum of Agriculture on Whiddon Mill Road. Second Harvest requests that no one arrive in line before 4 a.m.

The distribution will be on a first come/first served basis while supplies last. No ID or proof of income is required but recipients will be asked to fill out a short form.

One food box per family limit, with not more than two boxes per vehicle. An adult member of the household must be present. Because of the pandemic, all food will be placed in each vehicle’s trunk.

The food distribution will delay the opening of the ag museum and country store on Saturday until noon.
A new collaboration between Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC) and Valdosta State University (VSU) provides a gateway for students who seek careers in public service, and Dr. Matthew Anderson would love to see those graduates stay in South Georgia.

“This collaboration will help open the door for ABAC history and government students seeking graduate training in preparation for a public service career,” said Anderson, dean of ABAC's School of Arts and Sciences. 

“We hope that by keeping our students in the region for their graduate education, they will be more likely to stick around thereafter, utilizing their training and talents to help build our local communities."

ABAC graduates with a bachelor of science degree in history and government who meet the criteria will be granted fast-track consideration for entry into the master of public administration (MPA) degree program at VSU, according to a recently signed articulation agreement between the two institutions.
Students are being recruited for a new scholarship program funded by University of Georgia alumni and benefitting qualified students from rural areas of Georgia who want to earn degrees from UGA’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES).

Gifts and pledges totaling $500,000 from UGA Foundation trustee and CAES alumnus Keith Kelly and his wife, Pam, and CAES alumnus Robert Varnedoe will provide annual scholarships for four to six students every fall.

The annual academic scholarship of $7,000 per year will assist in recruiting the most qualified students from rural communities who have excelled academically, have shown strong leadership abilities and community service, and seek a CAES degree.

“The Rural Scholars Program will offer students from rural areas of Georgia a first-class undergraduate experience at UGA. Modeled after the university’s most prestigious fellowships and scholarships, the Rural Scholars Program is designed to give exceptional students from rural communities unique learning opportunities inside and outside the classroom,” said Josef Broder, CAES associate dean for academic affairs.

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This dog is available for adoption at the Tift County Animal Shelter. If not reclaimed, will be available for adoption or rescue at the Animal Shelter, located at 278 Georgia Highway 125 S. It 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
SEPT. 17
John Wayne Bannister, 76, Tifton
William “Leroy” Lane Sr., 83, Tifton
Patsy Tomberlin, 69, Fitzgerald
Michael Shaun Merritt, 39, Tifton
Edith Carolyn Norman Tawzer, 80, Tifton
Kenneth Robert Wilson, 44,

SEPT. 18
Robert "Bobby" Wesley Perry Jr., 67, Tifton
Mary Harris Mathis, 68, Warwick
Evelyn Christine Kent, 80,
Bobby Glenn Morris, 81,
Dorothy Whitley Lott, 87, Ocilla
Barbara Brooks Farmer, 82, Sycamore
Peggy Walker, 84, Adel

SEPT. 19
Mark Andrew Thomas, 55, Fitzgerald
Marvin Hobbs, 87, Ashburn

SEPT. 20
Ross Andrew Echols, 25, Tifton
Dorothy Louise Arrington Hightower, 75, Forsyth
Arline Gandy, 60, Lenox

SEPT. 21
Mitchell Verner Jones, 60,
The Rev. Franklin L. McDaniel Sr., 83, Hahira
Patricia Silcox, 72, Middleburg, Fla. 
W.L. Smith Jr., 86, Wray
Wallace Jimmy “Jim” Freeman, 78, Ashburn
Betty Knight, 79, Ray City
Jesse Lee Jones Sr., 63, Sylvester
Billy Shannon, 67, Sylvester
Mamie Byrd, 94, Ashburn

SEPT. 22
Edith Henderson Powell Burt, 93, Irwin County
Lloyd “Gene” Morris, 85, Fitzgerald
Larry Wayne Spires, 54, Fitzgerald

SEPT. 23
Floyd Beard, 98, Tifton
Esmeralda “Esmer” Rangel, 47, Omega
Russell Floyd "Doodle" Meadows, 71, Adel
Novera Fender Thackston, 81, Nashville
Emma Sue Haney, 76, Fitzgerald
Donald H. “Donnie” Young, 72, Fitzgerald
Seaborn Judge Royal, 82, Irwin County

SEPT. 24
Doris L. Yarbrough, 94, Tifton

Tifton Grapevine
e-published every Tuesday and Friday

Frank Sayles Jr.
Editor & Publisher
Bonnie Sayles
Managing Editor
A Service of Sayles Unlimited Marketing LLC, Tifton, Georgia