GrapeNew
     June 17, 2016
           Tifton, Georgia

    (478) 227-7126



TIFTON ADOPTS CITY BUDGET
EMPLOYEES GET FIRST RAISE IN FOUR YEARS

Tifton City Council on Thursday adopted a $43.9 million city budget for Fiscal Year 2017 beginning July 1.

"Hallelujah! We have a balanced budget without a property tax increase," said City Manager Larry D. Riner.

The budget includes a 3 percent cost-of-living increase for city employees; they have not received a pay increase in four years because of the sluggish economy, Riner said.

The $43,915,473 budget was approved unanimously.

Also Thursday night, Mayor Julie Smith issued a proclamation celebrating Jim Willkomm's 21 years of service to the Tifton Police Department upon his retirement. Willkomm, 87, began as a parking enforcement officer and is retiring as senior staff assistant/police coordinator. He also served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1946-72, retiring as a lieutenant colonel.


TIFTON'S NEW VA CLINIC
INFORMATION SESSION SCHEDULED THIS SATURDAY

Officials with the Veterans Administration Clinic being constructed in Tifton are holding an information session Saturday about programs and services that will be available at the new VA clinic.
Tifton VA Clinic Manager Donna Ammons discusses the informational fair during the Tifton-Tift County Chamber of Commerce membership luncheon Thursday. Maryalice Morro, director of the Carl Vinson VA Medical Center, is at right.

The "informational fair" will be 8 a.m.-noon Saturday, June 18, at Tifton's Leroy Rogers Senior Center, 315 W. Second St.

Attendees will learn about VA programs, services, benefits, eligibility and enrollment. The new Tifton VA Clinic, expected to open later this summer at 1824 N. Ridge Ave., will offer primary care, mental health and basic healthcare services. Additional services will be available through Tele-Health, a new VA initiative allowing veterans to access healthcare needs using interactive visual technology.

"We are thrilled to have a brand-new clinic to serve veterans in Tift County, Maryalice Morro, director of the Carl Vinson VA Medical Center, told the Tifton-Tift County Chamber of Commerce on Thursday.

"This has been in the planning process for several years, and we are happy to see it come to fruition."

Veterans are advised to keep appointments already scheduled at other VA facilities until their care is transferred and appointments are scheduled at the new Tifton center.

Veterans not currently enrolled in VA healthcare may obtain an application form at www.va.gov or may visit the clinic after the opening.

The Tifton clinic will serve about 5,000 veterans. It will open with one physician, Dr. Christopher Richards, and eventually will have three more primary care physicians. It is the sixth outreach clinic for the VA Medical Center in Dublin.

For information about the informational fair or services available at the clinic, contact Tifton VA Clinic Manager Donna Ammons at Donna.Ammons@va.gov or by calling 478-272-1210 ext. 2427.


BRIGHTEN ROAD RAMPS TO OPEN
BUT WORK CONTINUES ON OVERPASS

Though work remains to be done on the Exit 66/Brighton Road overpass on Interstate Highway 75, the contractor hopes to open the ramps later this month, according to the Georgia Department of Transportation.

The interchange closed Dec. 3 for reconstruction and was originally scheduled to reopen in 180 days. That timeline has been revised because of weather issues and the availability of materials. Construction of a Mechanically Stabilized Earth (MSE) wall on the west approach to the bridge also has taken longer than anticipated. The soil fill behind the segmental block face of the MSE wall is held in place by long, metal straps for stabilization.

The contractor plans to start pouring the barrier wall on the bridge next week. Work remaining to be done includes final grading, pouring the slabs on the approaches to the bridge and paving on Brighton Road.

Weather permitting, permanent striping is expected to be done on the ramps early next week, and the ramps could open June 24. The overpass is expected to remain closed for an additional three weeks.

Georgia DOT is conducting maintenance and construction activities on interstates, state routes and bridges across Georgia this summer. Officials advise motorists to plan ahead an visit  www.511ga.org or call 511 before traveling.



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ATWATER TELLS ROTARY 
GOOD THINGS HAPPENING
IN SCHOOL SYSTEM

Tift County Schools Superintendent Patrick Atwater, pictured at right, speaks with Tifton City Councilman Jack Folk after the Rotary Club of Tifton's regular meeting on Wednesday, June 15. 

Atwater told Rotarians and guests of several good things going on with the school system: A high teacher retention rate (90 percent), 10 of 11 schools' climates rated above average, J.T. Reddick sixth-grade school named in the 99 percentile by the state of Georgia, an 83 percent graduation rate with nearly 500 graduates this year and a record enrollment of nearly 8,000 students. 

Atwater has been superintendent for 11 years and has worked in the Tift County School System for 27 years.



BB&T SUPPORTS LITERACY

BB&T representatives present a check for $3,500 to Literacy Volunteers of Tifton-Tift County. 

Jay Montgomery, BB&T marketing president, left, and Victor Pires, bank branch manager, present the check to Bonnie Sayles, executive director of Literacy Volunteers of Tifton-Tift County
The donation will provide citizenship classes and GED tutoring for residents of Tift County residents. A letter from the bank said that the adult literacy, education and citizenship goals of the organization and the bank are in sync. 
WIREGRASS  BIKE TO FARM TOUR SET SATURDAY IN TIFTON

The Fourth annual Wiregrass Bike to Farm Tour is scheduled for Saturday, June 18, in  Tifton

Participants will visit six sites within seven miles in this family-friendly half-day event. 

Online registration and information is available at  Active.com

 
Sen. Kirk, left, and Rep.  Pirkle  at the  Tifton-Tift County Chamber of Commerce meeting Thursday.

SEN. KIRK, REP. PIRKLE MEET WITH TIFT CHAMBER

Two members of the legislative delegation representing Tift County -- freshman state Sen. Greg Kirk from Americus and freshman state Rep. Clay Pirkle of Sycamore -- addressed the Tifton-Tift County Chamber of Commerce membership luncheon Thursday

They discussed their experiences during the past year.

"The one thing about South Georgia legislators is that we all have to pull together," said Kirk. 

He discussed the Religious Liberties Bill, HB 757. "It passed both chambers, got to the governor, and he decided to veto the bill," Kirk said. 

The bill would have allowed private businesses, based on their religious beliefs, to refuse to serve homosexuals After the Gov. Nathan Deal's veto, Kirk said he and the governor had a good sit-down meeting to discuss their differences so they could "let it go, and go forward. I still have a good, open relationship with the governor."

Pirkle  told the audience: "Tifton-Tift County is a great place to raise a family, and a great place to be in business. It has been an honor and a pleasure to represent you in Atlanta."

He said the House had a "tremendous bill" including a tax credit for rural hospitals. "When it went to the Senate side, it got watered down and came out as a good bill. It could have been a tremendous boost to rural Georgia." 

He said it started out as a $100 million tax credit and went to a $52 million tax credit.

Asked about his biggest surprise as a freshman representative, Pirkle said it was learning that it was frowned upon to be against a committee chairman's bill or diverting a bill supported by the governor. "You have a hierarchy." 

Kirk said his biggest surprise was how much debate there is in the General Assembly. "It's OK to disagree," he said.

Pirkle added that he was pleasantly surprised at how many "God-fearing men and women" serve in state government. When his mother had a stroke, his colleagues began gathering in clusters to pray for her. 

"The fervent prayers of a righteous man availeth much. To see that played out among dadgum politicians was great," he said.

LOCAL PASTOR ORDAINED ELDER 
IN UNITED METHODIST CHURCH

Paula Lewis, pastor at Pinson United Methodist Church in Sylvester and former associate pastor at First United Methodist Church in Tifton, was ordained an elder in the UMC on June 11 during the South Georgia  Conference  of the United Methodist Church held in Tifton.

Also o rdained in the United Methodist Church were, from left, Anna Miller (deacon), Chance Ward (elder) and Lewis (elder).

'WHAT PET SHOULD I GET?'

Dr. Larry Branch, a Tifton veterinarian, and his canine sidekick Ralph read aloud to children Thursday at the Summer Accelerated Reader (AR) Center. Tifton is vying to be the Read Aloud (ReAl) Capital of the World, as well as the Reading Capital Local "celebrities" are reading aloud each Tuesday and Thursday at the Summer AR Center located at the United Way of South Central Georgia on Fourth Street.

By the way, after reading Dr. Seuss's "What Pet Should I Get?", Branch took and passed an AR test on the book, scoring 100 percent.

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YOUR WEEKEND happy_fathers_day_blue.jpg
                 ...at a Glance

FRIDAY, JUNE 17
  • 9th Annual Tifton Coin Show, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Tifton Masonic Lodge, 1480 Kennedy Road
SATURDAY, JUNE 18
  • Downtown Tifton Farmer's Market, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Old Train Depot Platform, Tifton
  • Wiregrass Farmers Market, 9 a.m.-Noon, Georgia Museum of Agriculture, Tifton
  • 77th Annual Miss Georgia Forestry Pageant, 6 p.m., Tift County High Performing Arts Center, Tifton

SUNDAY, JUNE 19
  • Happy Father's Day!
In Memoriam
BowenDonaldson

JUNE 9
Louise Cooper Putnal, 96, Adel
Gerald Allen Sumner Sr., 72, Enigma
Eleanor F. Harvey, 95, Tifton
David Wayne Fennell, 47, Valdosta
Mary Marie Manion, 84, Alapaha
Alfred Earl Gibson, 76, Irwin County
Grace Raines Evans, 91, Ashburn

JUNE 10
Bobby Earl Grantham Sr., 81, Tifton
Charles David Howe Sr., 75, Moultrie

JUNE 11
Joe "J.D." Massey, 69, Tallahassee, Fla.
Mildred Westmoreland Knight, 88, Adel
Eula Edwards, 94, Sparks
Euretha Daniels, Ashburn

JUNE 13
Cortez Hickman Tucker, 94, Tifton
Carl Wright Willis, 79, Tifton
"Wayne" Floyd Evans, 65, Tifton
Vivian Dentmon, 55, Nashville
Nathaniel Slaughter, 79, Doerun

JUNE 14
Cleo Harrell Douglas, 91, Poulan
Ernie Mae Napier Spires, 71, Enigma
Mattie Ellen Smith, Sylvester

JUNE 15
Gary O'Neal, 57, Tifton
Nina Connell Smith, 88, West Berrien
Clayton Jones Jr., 83, Sycamore
Robert H. "Bobby" Dix Sr., 86, O cilla
David Roberson, 67, Fitzgerald

JUNE 16
Larry Scott Nixon, 67, Leesburg
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