Tuesday, June 23, 2020
Tifton, Georgia
Tifton Grapevine
Georgia on Tuesday had its second-highest daily increase in COVID-19 cases (the highest being last Saturday) while Tift County infections have dramatically increased in the past two weeks .

As of Tuesday afternoon, the  Ga. Department of Public Health (DPH) reported 67,675 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state – more than 1,700 positive cases than the day before. The highest one-day increase was 1,800 new cases reported Saturday .

Georgia on Tuesday reported 2,687 coronavirus-related deaths, 39 more than Monday. More than 10,120 Georgians were reported hospitalized.

In Tift County , the DPH reported 569 positive cases and 25 deaths. Tift’s cases rose by 136 , or 31 percent, within the past week, and increased by 242 , or 74 percent, within the past two weeks, based on DPH data.

"With cases increasing across our region, businesses beginning to reopen, and as we all learn to face this new normal together, the (DPH's) South Health District wants to remind everyone of the importance of continuing to take precautions against COVID-19," the DPH said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the novel coronavirus is spread mainly from person-to-person by those in close contact, or through coughing and sneezing by someone who’s infected.

Symptoms, which may show up within two to 14 days, include fever, cough, chills, headache, muscle aches and shortness of breath. Many people get mild or moderate symptoms but some severe cases can lead to death, the CDC said.

Some people with the virus show no symptoms but can still infect others.
Tifton Grapevine
The teen birth rate has been dropping dramatically during the past 20 years in Tift County , in Georgia and throughout the United States , according to data released this week.

Births to teenage mothers, aged 15-19, have declined in Tift County from a high of 123 per 1,000 in 1996 to 33 in 2018 ; in Georgia , the rate per 1,000 has dropped to 21 , and dropped to 17 nationwide – that's according to the Kids Count Data Book that assesses child well-being in the United States.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation , a national nonprofit devoted to child welfare, releases the data each year. The latest statistics are for the year 2018 .

In a ranking against other states, Georgia again ranks 38th for overall child well-being .

"This data allows us to look at the ways children, families, and communities already had vulnerabilities that affected not only the path of the coronavirus in Georgia, but also how institutionalized racism and societal inequities shape the data we share," said Lillie B. McEntyre, executive director of the Tift County Commission on Children & Youth .

"We remain committed to working with our statewide network and partners to achieve better outcomes for our most vulnerable children and families, which ultimately will lead to vibrant, healthy communities for the benefit of every Georgian."

In individual categories, according to the data book, Georgia ranks 35th in economic well-being, 37th in education, 39th in family and community, and 46th in health. Twenty percent of the state's children live in poverty and 10.1 percent are born with low birth weights – up from 9.7 percent in 2010.

Babies born with a low birth weight have a high probability of experiencing developmental problems and short- and long-term disabilities and are at greater risk of dying within the first year of life. Smoking, poor nutrition, poverty, stress, infections and violence can increase the risk of a baby being born with a low birthweight.

But there was other good news in the data: Only 18 percent of Georgia's high school students didn't graduate on time in 2018 , a much better result than in 2010 when the rate was at 33 percent, according to the report.
As the Fourth of July approaches, the Georgia watermelon harvest season is nearing its peak production time. 

“Now is the time to go visit your grocery store or local farmers market and purchase a fresh Georgia watermelon,” said Georgia Watermelon Association (GWA) President Rob Greene

A watermelon grower in Arabi in Crisp County , Greene says this production season has produced a historically sweet, crisp and delicious product.

Growers in Georgia have been cultivating their watermelon vines since March . From planting to harvest, watermelons typically need 90 days to grow and ripen. With more than 18,000 acres of watermelon harvested on average each year, Georgia ranks in the  top four in the United States for production among Texas, Florida , and California

“This is Georgia’s peak season, so when you check the label on your watermelon you should see 'Grown in Georgia,' ” said GWA Executive Director Samantha Kilgore . “This is the time to support your local economy and those farmers out there who are working hard to provide us with American-grown fresh fruits and vegetables.”
Approximately 200 people gathered Friday afternoon at the Tift County Courthouse for a "Black Lives Matter Peaceful Protest Rally." Folks of all ages and all races held signs and promoted equality. Following the gathering at the courthouse, the group marched peacefully down Love Avenue.

"On behalf of the Tift County Sheriff's Office , I want to thank the organizers and the participants for conducting yourselves in an orderly and professional manner in getting your message out to the public," said Sheriff Gene Scarbrough .

"If everyone in the country would take heed to what you folks did today and how you conducted your protest, I'm convinced we would have a more peaceful and meaningful mission for all concerned in reaching a better world for all of us to prosper and enjoy."
In addition to "Black Lives Matter" signs at the rally, there were also several signs for transgender and gay rights. Several signs had the words "I Can't Breathe," words uttered by George Floyd before dying in police custody in Minneapolis last month.
New Name, Location for Affinity Nephrology
Affinity Nephrology is now Southwell Nephrology. Effective 6/22/20, the practice also will have a new location and phone number:

39 Kent Road, Suite 1
Tifton, Georgia 31794
(located within the Cypress Pointe Professional Park)

Providers include: Melissa Rampal, MD; Brittany Thomas, MD;
James Mason, NP; and Kyle Woods, NP.

Students completing their bachelor’s degree in agricultural education at ABAC celebrate their final semester before the pandemic began.
For the second consecutive year, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College produced more graduates with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education than any college in the southeastern United States, ABAC says.

Dr. Mark Kistler , dean of ABAC’s School of Agriculture and Natural Resources, said the college had 33 agricultural education graduates at its virtual commencement May 7. “There were 30 in the education track and three in the agricultural studies track,” Kistler said.

That number represents a 27 percent increase over the 26 agricultural education graduates at ABAC in spring 2019 , the first time in its 112-year history that ABAC produced bachelor’s degree graduates in agricultural education.

“No other college or university in Georgia had those kinds of numbers this year in ag ed; neither does anyone else in the South,” said Dr. Frank Flanders , ag ed program coordinator.

That was confirmed by Dr. Daniel Foster , associate professor of agricultural education at Pennsylvania State University , who researches the supply and demand of teachers. “ABAC's 33 graduates this year represent the largest class east of the Mississippi and easily in the Top Five in the United States ," he said.

“ABAC is happy to try to end the 30-year drought of ag ed teachers in Georgia,” President David Bridges said in 2018 when the agricultural education teacher preparation program began at ABAC. “For 30 consecutive years, Georgia has produced fewer ag ed teachers than spots available. We are going to do something about that.”

 City of Tifton Update

As many of you have read or heard, the Tift County Board of Commissioners sent Mayor Julie Smith a letter dated June 9, 2020, notifying the City that several services currently being provided by Tift County would no longer be provided to the residents of the City of Tifton.
After reviewing their list of planned discontinued services, the Tifton City Council determined that these services could be provided by the City without a reduction in quality or any increase in cost to City residents. With some of the termination dates approaching, City Leadership is moving forward expeditiously to ensure no interruption in these services occurs.  
The City Council has received several questions about how this change could affect Tifton taxpayers.  In an effort to keep all residents informed, please see responses to some of the most recently asked questions.
Q:    Why is the City “ breaking ” with the County?
A:    The City is not “ breaking ” with the County.  After receiving the letter from the Tift County Board of Commissioners outlining their termination of several services, the Tifton City Council determined that it will be advantageous to the Tifton residents for the services be provided efficiently by the City with no increase in cost to City residents.  The City works with the County on other services and will continue to work with the County Commission for the betterment of all City residents and those in the unincorporated areas, Omega, and TyTy.
Q:  Will my City taxes go up now that the City will be providing these services?
A:      No .  The City does not anticipate any millage rate increase to the City residents.  In fact, since the County will no longer be providing these services in the City, all County residents should be eligible for a tax decrease in their countywide taxes. 
Q:    Will residents of the unincorporated areas of Tift County, Ty Ty and Omega still be able to participate in the Leroy Rogers Senior Center, Main Street functions and the Tift Theatre?
A:    Yes .  Although these services are totally funded by the City, Tifton will continue to offer these services to all senior citizens and residents of the unincorporated area, Ty Ty and Omega at no cost to those residents.

Q:    If I live in the City, can my children participate in the County’s Recreation services?
A:   The County Commission has agreed to continue to provide recreation services to all County residents through July 1, 2021.  In the next 12 months, the City will be analyzing options for alternate recreation services for City residents.  Look for updates as more information becomes available.
Q:  Will there be any decrease in the amount or quality of services once the City has assumed the responsibility to provide these services to City residents?
A:    No .  The City is committed to providing all of the services at the highest quality possible.
Q:    Will the County still provide Emergency 911 service to City residents?
A:     Yes .  Although certain non-emergency dispatch services will be provided by the City in the near future, the County will continue to handle all emergency calls for fire, ambulance service and other emergency calls.
City Leadership understands that residents may continue to have questions
concerning the change in service providers. As planning and implementation moves forward, updates and information will be provided.    
Additional information can be obtained from the meeting of the City Council
held on June 15, 2020, which can be viewed at the following link:  www.tifton.net
 Paid for by the City of Tifton
This kitty is among many available for immediate adoption at the Tift County Animal Shelter . V isit  the Animal Shelter from 1-6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, or call 229-382-PETS (7387).
Pets of the Week are sponsored by:
Branch's Veterinary Clinic
205 Belmont Ave., Tifton, 229-382-6055
– JUNE 23, 1938
The City of Tifton on June 23, 1938 , applied for a loan and grant totaling $170,000 from the federal Public Works Administration to extend water and sewer mains, and to install a sewerage disposal plant in Tifton. City Manager S.A. Youmans said city residents will vote on bonds to finance any part of the project not covered by the loan/grant.
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