APRIL 10, 2018
Tifton, Georgia


Tifton native John Tibbetts II, 27, is one of 15 finalists in an i nternational singer/actor competition conducted by the Kurt Weill Foundation of New York City.

The performers in  the 2018 annual Lotte Lenya Competition, named for Weill's wife, are from Canada, Germany, Israel, Italy and the United States. They will compete for top prizes of $20,000, $15,000 and $10,000.

The finals are this Saturday, April 14, beginning at 8 p.m. at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., and will be live-streamed for free online viewing by accessing the web site:  

Tibbetts is a 2009 graduate of Tift County High School. In 2015, he graduated from Georgia State University with a bachelor's in music and received his master's degree in music in 2017 from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

This winter he debuted with the Kentucky Opera, singing Fiorello in Rossini's "Il barbiere di Siviglia ," or "The Barber of Seville," and just completed their touring production singing the role of Figaro

This summer, Tibbetts returns as an apprentice artist with Opera Saratoga to sing the role of Cascada in "The Merry Widow," and Prince Gabriel III of Belgium's Trainer's Son in David T. Little's "Vikensport," or "The Finch Opera."

All contestants in the Lotte Lenya Competition will perform four selections from the operatic "Golden Age" and contemporary musical theater repertoires, including, of course, at least one number by renowned composer Kurt Weill. Their performances will be adjudicated by a star-studded jury composed of Tony Award-winning actress and singer Victoria Clark, renowned opera and musical theater conductor 
James Holmes, and Jack Viertel, Broadway producer, author and artistic director of New York City Center Encores! 

In addition to the top prizes, individual awards of $3,500 may be bestowed at the judges' discretion in recognition of outstanding performances of individual numbers or excellence in a particular genre or aspect of performance. The Kurt Weill Award of $5,000 may be given for an outstanding performance of two contrasting numbers by Weill. All finalists will receive at least $1,000.


The Irwin County Detention Center is one of three detention centers cited in a lawsuit alleging that f ederal immigration officials are making it difficult for immigrants to communicate with lawyers.

The Ocilla detention center, the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin,  and the LaSalle Detention Facility in Jena, La., are at the center of the lawsuits filed last week by t he Southern Poverty Law Center.

The lawsuit is against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) , U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and several individual officials.

These detention facilities are in remote areas, hours away from lawyers and interpreters, the lawsuit contends. Remote communication by phone or video is difficult, and lawyers who make the trips often face long waits and must meet with their clients in inadequate conditions, the lawsuit reads.

"DHS intentionally selects private companies who operate immigration prisons as cash cows in remote, rural areas of the Southeast that are beyond the reach of most lawyers," the Southern Poverty Law Center said in a statement. An 
ICE spokesman said  the agency does not comment on pending litigation.

The private prison companies operating the detention centers use as small a staff as possible, and many of the access and communication problems that lawyers report are caused by insufficient staffing, the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit alleges violations of the detainees' due process rights. It asks a judge to declare that policies and practices at the three detention centers violate the U.S. Constitution.

The Tift Regional Medical Center Foundation will be holding its annual black tie-optional gala on Saturday, April 14, 7 p.m. to midnight, at the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center.  

The theme of this year's event is "Havana Nights," and all proceeds will go toward the purchase of a mobile clinic to help provide medical care to underserved areas in the region. 

With a focus on preventive care, services offered by the mobile clinic will include well checks, sick visits, immunizations, screenings, referrals to specialty care, chronic disease management, access to community resources and more. 
Tickets for the gala are $125 per person. The event includes a seated dinner, live music, dancing, a silent auction and a diamond giveaway.   

To purchase tickets, visit or call 229-391-3310. The UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center is located in Tifton at 15 RDC Road.

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The 72nd annual University of Georgia Southeastern Turfgrass Conference will be held on Thursday, April 26, at the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center in Tifton.

At the conference, UGA Cooperative Extension researchers will provide updates on turfgrass breeding, muscadine trees and pesticides, says Brian Schwartz, turfgrass breeder on
UGA turfgrass breeder Brian Schwartz, right, examines research plots during a previous turfgrass conference.
the UGA Tifton campus.

"This is a historically relevant program to which people keep coming, and we try to provide information, not only on the future of turfgrass, but on the training they can receive as well," Schwartz said.

Drought-tolerant turfgrass varieties, such as Bermuda, zoysia and centipede grasses, along with technological advancements, like unmanned aerial vehicles and sensors, will be discussed.

" Drones can produce 3-D maps for growers and provide data for irrigation and nitrogen management," Schwartz said.

Schwartz said more farmers are incorporating drone technology into their daily practices. This tool provides farmers with information about soil moisture levels and overall plant health, which can increase efficiency and profits for growers.

Researchers will also address the decline in the bee population and the steps necessary to protect these endangered pollinators.

Beyond the discussion, Schwartz believes that the field training portion of the conference is also vital.

On-site registration for this year's conference begins at 7 a.m. Presentations will run 8 a.m.-4 p.m. and end with an optional field tour of the turfgrass research plots.


Ten high school jazz bands from across Georgia will perform in free mini-concerts from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. April 19 in the annual ABAC Jazz Festival on the campus of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College.  

The ABAC Latin Jazz Ensemble and the ABAC Jazz Choir will also perform.

Sponsored by the Department of Fine Arts and the ABAC Arts Connection, the Jazz Festival promotes jazz and jazz education in South Georgia. The jazz bands will perform in the Meadows at the center of the ABAC campus. 
Tift County High kicks off the Jazz Festival at 10 a.m., followed by Colquitt County High at 10:30 a.m., Americus Sumter County High at 11 a.m., Lee County High at 11:30 a.m., ABAC Latin Jazz Ensemble at noon, Dougherty County High at 12:30 p.m., Valdosta High at 1 p.m., Lanier County High at 1:30 p.m., Hampton High at 2 p.m., Berrien High at 2:30 p.m., Riverdale High at 3 p.m., and the ABAC Jazz Choir at 3:30 p.m. 
In the event of rain, the Jazz Festival will move to Howard Auditorium. A Jazz Clinic with Tim Green for the high school students will be held at 4 p.m. following the performances.  Green is a well-known alto saxophonist who will perform with the ABAC Jazz Ensemble at 7 p.m. in Howard Auditorium in the final concert of the ABAC Presents! performing arts series for the 2017-18 year. 
Arts Connection Director Wayne Jones encouraged season ticket holders to be seated by 6:45 p.m. for the performance. A limited number of tickets to the performance are available at or by calling 229-391-4895.


Matt Wilson Elementary School has added a Rachio irrigation system to  its  raised bed gardening project. The Rachio device is an Internet-controlled, wireless, scheduling and controlling irrigation system. 

U sing a smartphone, a user can set watering cycles and control irrigation. UGA Tifton staff assisted in the installation. 
Pictured in front row from left are Kyle Nixon, Katie Folsom, Joshua Mathews and Eli Pate (Matt Wilson Student Council officers). Back row from left are Penny Peters, master gardener and parent volunteer; Jason Clark, Matt Wilson Principal; and UGA Tifton representatives Dr. Craig Kvien, crop scientist; Michelle Cooper, IT professional; and Brad Buchanan.


Writer, naturalist and activist Janisse Ray will speak at a lecture, "Story, Transformation, and Why Writing Matters," at 1 p.m. April 20 in Room 131 of the Horticulture Building at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College.  

Sponsored by "Pegasus," the ABAC literary magazine, the event is open to the public.
Ray is the author of five books of literary nonfiction and a collection of eco-poetry. She has been the Louis D. Rubin Jr. Writer-in-Residence at Hollins University and won the 2017 Southern Environmental Law Center Award in journalism for her piece on coal ash, 
published online in The Bitter Southerner: "From Ashes Such as These, What Can Rise?"

A 2015 inductee into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame, Ray has been awarded an honorary doctorate from LaGrange College and from Unity College. She holds an master's degree from the University of Montana, where she was the William Kittredge Distinguished Visiting Writer in 2014.
Ray's first book, "Ecology of a Cracker Childhood," a memoir about growing up on a junkyard in the ruined longleaf pine ecosystem of the Southeast, was published by Milkweed Editions in 1999.  It was a New York Times Notable Book and was chosen as the Book All Georgians Should Read.
Besides a plea to protect and restore the pine flatwoods, the book is a hard look at family, mental illness, poverty, and religion.  Essayist Wendell Berry called the book "well done and deeply moving." Anne Raver of The New York Times said, "The forests of the South find their Rachel Carson." The book won the Southeastern Booksellers Award for Nonfiction, American Book Award, Southern Environmental Law Center Award, and Southern Book Critics Circle Award.
Ray's most recent book, "The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food," looks at the movement to reclaim the genetics of our food supply. The book has been translated into Turkish and French, and won the Arlene Eisenberg Award for Writing that Makes a Difference, American Horticultural Society Book Award, Nautilus Gold Book Award, Garden Writers Association Gold Award, and Green Prize for Sustainable Literature Award.


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