Friday, June 3, 2022
Tifton, Georgia
SEEING DOUBLE? Bruce Willis, left, shares a table with his stand-in, Eric Buarque, during filming at Fresco Italiano restaurant in Tifton.
DEAD RINGER? Michael Rooker, known for his role in "The Walking Dead," poses on Tifton's Second Street during a break in filming "White Elephant" last spring in Downtown Tifton. The film opens today in select theaters and on the streaming platform AMC+. It is the second Bruce Willis film made in Tifton that opened this year.
Mostly filmed last year in Tifton, "White Elephant," one of Bruce Willis' last movies, opens today in select theaters and is available for home streaming through AMC+.

The action film includes the controversial explosion at Downtown Tifton's Golden Building, which was bigger than anticipated, causing some damage.

Preliminary reviews of the movie have been mostly positive, with actor Michael Rooker, known for his roles in the film “Guardians of the Galaxy” and TV series “The Walking Dead,” said to be "White Elephant's" heart and soul.

Willis, who in recent years has made two movies in Tifton and several in Fitzgerald, has now retired from acting after being diagnosed with aphasia, a condition that affects one’s ability to speak, write, and understand language.

Reviewers say Willis' lines are few in the film, and he is often shown brooding and ruminating over events as the story unfolds. Local audiences will spot several Tifton scenes throughout the film.

The film's director, Jesse V. Johnson, commenting on social media recently about the movie, said: "Love Tiftonheartfelt thanks to all that worked so hard; such great people!"

Also starring in the film are former “Bond girl” Olga Kurylenko, who co-starred with Daniel Craig in the James Bond movie “Quantum of Solace,” and veteran actor John Malkovich.

Willis' film "Gasoline Alley," made entirely in Tifton last year, was released in February. Another movie, "Bandit," starring Josh Duhamel and Mel Gibson, and filmed in Tifton and Valdosta in 2021, is expected to be released later this year.
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Tifton Grapevine
Friday, July 1, will be a big day of celebration in Tifton.

Not only will the city be celebrating the 150th anniversary of its founding with a birthday cake and fireworks that evening, but the day will also be Col. Ralph Puckett Jr. Day honoring Tifton's recent recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Puckett, 95, a Tifton native who resides in Columbus, is scheduled to be present as he is honored at 11 a.m. with a city proclamation, a key to the city, and a Tifton street named in his honor.

The public is invited to attend the ceremony at Tifton's First United Methodist Church.

As he arrives in town from the Henry Tift Myers Airport, local folks are encouraged to line Main Street waving flags and signs.

Puckett, an Army Ranger legend, was honored with the Medal of Honor by the president at the White House last year for heroics during the Korean War, fighting alongside his soldiers as they were severely outnumbered 10 to one during six assaults by enemy troops. Puckett was injured multiple times but refused to leave his men.

While the Puckett observance will be in the morning of July 1, Tifton will continue celebrating that evening with a "Rock the Block" event from 6-10 p.m. with live music, food, drinks, a water slide, a city birthday cake, and fireworks.

Other sesquicentennial events are being planned for later in the year.
Tifton Grapevine
South Georgia watermelons are heading to Dubai and muscadines to Taiwan thanks to the marketing efforts of the Georgia Department of Agriculture, its domestic trade director told the Tifton Rotary Club on Wednesday.

Sarah Cook told Rotarians that she traveled to Dubai in February to visit the world's largest food trade show.
Dubai is a city in a desert where they cannot grow enough food to supply their population,” she said. “They are happy to pay $7 a pound for watermelons that are flown over to the Gulf area.” They will pay top dollars for premium watermelons, she said. 
“The commissioner always says, ‘Agriculture makes Georgians’ lives better,’” she said, referring to state Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black. “Whether you’re a farmer or not, you benefit from agriculture, and it’s our state’s No. 1 industry.

"We have a $69 billion economic impact on the state. Everyone is eating, everyone is clothed, everyone is sheltered, everyone is fueled; that is due, in large part, to our farmers here in Georgia.”

Cook said that in “two-thirds of Georgia counties, agriculture is the first- or second-largest employer. There’s a great chance if you’re not in agriculture that a family member is or benefits from that commerce.” 

Tift County is the 10th-largest vegetable producing county in the state. “We have $200 million worth of produce grown here in Tift County. It’s in the top 10% of all ag production in the state.”

Cook works in the agriculture department's marketing division, whose job is to promote Georgia agriculture to consumers in the state, country, and around the world. One of those ways is the Georgia Grown program, she said. 

Cook has been involved with the Georgia Grown initiative since its inception about 12 years ago. For the first eight years, the initiative’s purpose was to encourage Georgia residents to buy Georgia-grown products to support local producers

“We encourage every Georgian who makes $75,000 to spend $10 a week on Georgia Grown products. If we did that, we’d have a $5.5 million economic impact in our state,” she said.

Even if Georgians only purchased Georgia-grown products, there is still a surplus, so the marketing focus is extending throughout the nation and globe

Through the domestic marketing program, Cook attends 13 trade shows across the U.S. to get producers in front of key buyers, such as supermarkets. “We’ve had a lot of success in the past four years getting on the shelves of Publix, Whole Foods, Kroger and others. 

“Even still, we have an abundance of production,” Cook said. “Georgia is very positively located internationally. We have access to two international ports.”

For the past two and a half years, Cook has been working to get Georgia products to international buyers

“We have been able to host international virtual trade shows in my home office upstairs,” Cook said. From her home in Coverdell, she has been able to connect a farmer in Wray with buyers in Taiwan for his muscadines. She is also working to bring international buyers to South Georgia. Recently, she brought Canadian buyers to Tifton, and next week Indian and Taiwanese buyers are coming to see South Georgia produce.  

She said has a product locator to see where people can buy specific local products, such as crooked-neck squash.
Joy Yost, executive director of the Tifton Council for the Arts, discusses the role of Arts Guild volunteers at a recruitment reception Thursday night.

Yost said the organization has recently changed its name to reflect that the arts in Tifton are more than a building and that expansions are underway to bring the arts to people throughout the Tiftarea.

Guild members help the arts program by docenting for exhibits, addressing patron letters, writing thank-you letters, assisting with take-home art boxes, volunteering for the Celebrate Creativity event and the Kids Summer Camp, fundraising, and planning the annual Gala and exhibit receptions. 
Tifton Grapevine
Tift County's positive COVID-19 cases continue to rise, according to data from the state Department of Public Health (DPH).

During the past two weeks, total positive cases rose by 36 for a total of 79; that includes rapid tests and confirmed PCR tests. These numbers represent only those results reported to the health department and do not include at-home testing.

There were no additional related deaths in Tift County reported during the past two weeks.

Tift County’s total positive cases represent 195 cases per 100,000 population, the measure used across the country to compare case rates among communities and states. Tift's testing positivity rate for the period was 4%, the DPH reported.

Tift has seen a total of 6,325 cases with 164 related deaths, the DPH said.

The state recorded a total of 1,992,974 confirmed cases and 31,836 related deaths, the DPH said. The state reports COVID-19 data once a week.
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Tifton Grapevine
The Tift County Board of Elections is gearing up for the general primary runoff on June 21. The last day to submit an absentee ballot application for the runoff is June 10.

Advance voting begins June 13.

Republican candidates were determined in the primary election, so only Democrats will vote in the state runoff.

In Tift County, members of County Commission District 1 will decide between Democrat incumbent Donnie Hester and challenger James E. Burroughs Jr. 

During the primary, Hester had received 49% with 204 votes; Burroughs came in second with 29%, or 121 votes. A third person in the Democratic race, Sharhonda Hunt-Sears, received 22%, or 91 votes.

Statewide runoffs on the Democratic ballot are:
  • Lieutenant governor – Kwanza Hall vs. Charlie Bailey
  • Secretary of state Bee Nguyen vs. Dee Dawkins-Haigler;
  • Insurance commissionerJanice Laws Robinson vs. Raphael Baker
  • Labor commissioner – William Boddie vs. Nicole Horn.

Georgia is one of only 10 states that require a runoff if no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote.
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Today, Friday, June 3, is National Doughnut Day, which falls on the first Friday in June every year.
In 1938, “Doughnut Day” was established to honor members of the Salvation Army who came to the aid of soldiers during World War I, providing them with doughnuts on the battlefield. Krispy Kreme, which edged out Dunkin' Donuts in a recent poll as America's favorite, offers everyone a free doughnut today with no purchase necessary. 
  • Annual Forest Lakes Neighborhood Yard Sale, 7-11 a.m., Forest Lakes, Tifton
  • Wiregrass Farmers Market, 9 a.m.-Noon, behind the Country Store at Ga. Museum of Agriculture, Tifton
  • Summer Reading Kickoff Carnival, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Tifton-Tift County Public Library, Tifton
  • Rampage Rocks the House, 8 p.m., Nashville VFW, 801 Tifton Highway, Nashville
"Minnie," a female pooch, is ready for a forever home. She is available for adoption at the Tift County Animal Shelter on Highway 125 South between 1-6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. For additional information, call 229-382-PETS (7387).
Pets of the Week are sponsored by:
Branch’s Veterinary Clinic
205 Belmont Ave., Tifton, 229-382-6055  
MAY 26
Kenny Ray Bozeman, 67, Sylvester
Richard "Pee-Wee" Dennard, 83, Tifton
Evelyn Lorene Mobley, 75, Fitzgerald
Sara Elizabeth Clark Griffin, 88, Tifton
Rudolph Tison, 85, Doles
John Weldon “Johnny” Luke Jr., 79, Fitzgerald

MAY 27
Mineva West, 84, Ashburn
Omar Martinez, 58, Omega

MAY 28
Wilber Stanley Moore, 93. Alapaha
Zephus Smith Jr., 71, Tifton
Dustin Chase Hutchinson, 32, Fitzgerald
Blake Edward Owens, 37, Ashburn
Latrume Harrell, 89, West Berrien

MAY 29
Elizabeth Ann Peacock Hughes, 87, Tifton
Harvey Shirrell Ritchea, 87, Nashville

MAY 30
Randal Lloyd Tribble, 85, Adel
Terri Susan Bankin, 69, Tifton

MAY 31
Robert E. Henderson, 71, Tifton
Barry Eugene Matthews, 67, Ashburn
Rosa Mae Barron, 69, Tifton
Dionese Williams Davenport. Tifton
Timothy “Tim” Shepard Johnson, 70, Tifton

Janie Mae Griffin, 66, Adel
Tifton Grapevine
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Frank Sayles Jr.
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Bonnie Sayles
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