JAN. 2, 2018
Tifton, Georgia

A Winter Storm Warning is in effect from 1 a.m.-noon Wednesday for the Tiftarea as snow, ice and a wintry mix of weather is forecast for several local counties, including Tift.

The National Weather Service says up to a inch of snow is possible locally, as well as freezing rain and sleet.

"The winter storm is expected to impact portions of southern Georgia and the Florida Big Bend through Wednesday morning," the Weather Service said. " Plan on difficult travel conditions, including during the morning commute on Wednesday."

Because of that, several local school systems have cancelled classes for Wednesday, including Tift, Turner and Ben Hill counties.

"The decision has been made to cancel school for students tomorrow, Jan. 3, 2018. All staff will be asked to report to work from noon-4 p.m.," Tift Superintendent Patrick Atwater said in a written statement Tuesday. 

"While this is an experience many Northern states and counties are accustomed to, we are not adequately prepared to safely transport students in icy conditions," Atwater said.

The  University of Georgia Tifton Campus will open late, at  noon Wednesday , for staff and students. All campuses of  Southern Regional Technical College will be closed. Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College' Tifton and Moultrie campuses will have a delayed start at 1 p.m. Wednesday for staff; students don't report back until Jan. 8.

Also, the City of Tifton and Tift County offices will delay opening to 10 a.m. Wednesday because of the weather.

The National Weather Service says there is a  30 percent chance of snow in Tifton after 2 a.m. Wednesday with a low around 26 Snow is likely before 1 p.m., followed by freezing rain and sleet, the Weather Service reported.

Wednesday night is forecast to be c lear with a low of about 23 degrees.  Wind chill values as low as 17 are expected.


A dozen brave souls plunged into the unheated pool at the Tiftarea YMCA on New Year's Day to raise money for charity.

The YMCA's Polar Bear Plunge this year set records for most money raised and lowest  
water temperature for the annual event. More than $10,000 was  raised with Mayor Julie Smith leading the pack with more than $2,350 raised. Smith did the plunge for the Save Our Pets organization to raise funds to help build a Tifton dog park.

Each of the participants designated a different charity for their funds. The individual raising the most funds, which was Smith, receives 100 percent of their fundraising for their charity. 

All other charities represented will receive a  50 percent split with the  Tiftarea YMCA.

We're Seeking a
Church Pianist

Tifton First United 
Methodist Church

107 W 12th St., Tifton, GA

Tifton First United Methodist Church has an opening for a part-time church pianist.
The pianist is responsible for preparing for and practicing with 
the chancel choir, orchestra and ensemble every Wednesday evening for about two hours and for playing at Sunday 
traditional services  at  9 a.m. and 11 a.m., as well as at special services at Christmas, Easter, etc.  

Interested persons should contact Angie Carr at 
or call   229-382-6100 .

The local owner of Goo-Goo Car Wash has sold his five  franchise locations in Georgia and Lake City, Fla., to the international car wash company IMO. 

The deal was closed in the past two weeks for IMO to purchase, from Todd Buckner of Tiftonthe Goo-Goo car washes in Tifton, Cordele, Douglas, Valdosta and Lake City, reports the Financial News & Daily Record of Jacksonville, Fla. 

IMO says the  locations will remain the same and that gift cards and promotions will be honored.

Professional Carwashing & Detailing reported on  in August that IMO Car Wash Group, a privately owned British company, had bought Goo-Goo corporate.

The Financial News & Daily Record reports
 that Buckner of Tifton plans to create his own brand of car washes, named  Scrubbles, in Jacksonville.

Goo-Goo corporate had been in based in Columbus and had been operated by the same family since 1972, according to the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer.


The newly released University of Georgia "Paulk" muscadine offers reliable yields for growers and bigger fruit for consumers.

Released by UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences plant breeder Patrick Conner, Paulk produces significantly larger grapes than typical muscadine varieties. Paulk is also self-fertile, meaning it doesn't require a pollinator plant to produce fruit. Previously, only female muscadine cultivars could produce large fruit, and they needed the help of a pollinator plant to do so.

"In the past, if the grower wanted a very large muscadine, one that's about 15 grams or so, they had to plant the female cultivars. The primary cultivar they would choose was 'Supreme,'" Conner said. "With Paulk, this is the first time that we've seen self-fertile flowers in combination with fruit that is very large, 15-gram size."

Another important attribute of the Paulk muscadine is its ability to consistently produce high yields.
With female cultivars, the plant's yield can vary from year to year because sometimes the flowers don't always open properly. If the flower doesn't open, it can't be pollinated, and fruit doesn't develop.  With self-fertile flowers, nearly every flower opens and has the potential to be pollinated and produce fruit.

"It's so hard for farmers to deal with the unknown," Conner said. "You do everything right but get a bad pollination season and you don't have as much crop as you need. The release of Paulk takes that year-to-year variation away so they can get the crop load they need every year."

Supreme is Georgia's top muscadine cultivar for the fresh market, or those varieties sold to be eaten rather than for the juice market. Paulk looks and performs very similarly to Supreme. Conner said he hopes that Paulk will eventually replace Supreme.

"When it fully ripens, it's got very good flavor," he said. "The vine is fairly vigorous compared to Supreme. Two years ago, when we were testing the two cultivars at Paulk Vineyards, the Supreme overcropped, and we lost many of the vines over the winter. Paulk had a similar crop load, but it came back the next year and could bear again, so it definitely is more vigorous than Supreme."

Paulk is the third variety Conner has released in the past five years. It follows " Lane," which was released in 2012, and " Hall," which was released in 2015.

" Growers have told us they want to replace all of their female cultivars with self-fertile cultivars. That's in part why we've been releasing so many in the last few years. We're trying to get a range of cultivars out there that they can do that with," Conner said.

The only unknown regarding Paulk is its ability to withstand freezing weather. Research trials are under way to test the muscadine's cold hardiness.


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Family Promise of Tift Area will meet at St. Anne's Episcopal Church in Tifton on Monday, Jan. 8, at 6:30 p.m.

The organization is working to provide aid to local homeless families in Tift County.


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