MARCH 7, 2017
Tifton, Georgia



Downtown Tifton is in the running once again for Independent We Stand's America's Main Streets contest.

The second annual national contest rewards a deserving Main Street with $25,000 in cash and sponsor-related prizes. 

"In our inaugural Independent We Stand 'America's Main Streets' contest last year, we saw an outpouring of hometown pride from across the country," said Independent We Stand co-founder Bill Brunelle

"We know small businesses on these Main Streets help them thrive and have a measurable economic impact. Now we want to hear those stories. It's as simple as going online and telling us what makes your Main Street great or what could make it even better."

Independent We Stand is an organization promoting independently owned businesses across the country and touting the benefits of "buying local."  The organization says Main Streets play an important role in the long-term success of communities and help build a sense of place.

You can go online and vote for Tifton's Main Street until 11:59 p.m April 23. The Main Streets with the top 25 votes will become a quarter finalist. 

Only one vote per day is allowed from an Internet IP address. So if you have several people in a home or office with one Internet connection, only one vote per day is allowed. However, you can vote multiple times in a day if you use different Internet connections or use a non-Wifi connection on your mobile device.

To vote, Click Here! and search for Tifton.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture has i mposed sanctions on a Tifton produce transportation business for violating the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA).
JLP Farms Wholesale Retail Produce Transportation LLC is currently barred from operating in the produce industry for not paying reparation awards issued under PACA.

The USDA's order claims that JLP Farms  failed to pay  a $165,302 award in favor of a New Jersey seller. The reparation order lists John L. Pettiford, Diane M. Royster and Anthony D. White as members of the business.

In the past three years, the USDA resolved approximately 3,500 PACA claims involving more than $58 million. Its staff also assisted more than 8,000 callers with issues valued at approximately $140 million, according to The Produce News.


Each morning, Omega Elementary students raise both the United States and the Georgia flags. 

Students are taught the importance of both national and state symbols beginning in kindergarten. As the students grow older, they are given the opportunity to participate in the symbolic act displaying their patriotism by raising the flags each morning before school and taking them down each afternoon after school

Students are taught how to correctly raise and take down the flags, as well as the correct way to fold both flags. 

Pictured are Landon Dotson, Jude Hawsey, Allie Conley and Allyssa Stephens.


Lawton E. Bassett III of Tifton has been promoted to president of Ameris Bank and banking group president of Ameris Bancorp

"I am honored and excited to be leading the talented and knowledgeable team of bankers that comprise Ameris Bank," said Bassett. 

"Our goal at Ameris is to provide personalized service and establish broad customer 
relationships by offering a full range of services. I am committed to continuing this philosophy by 
 providing the best service and financial products for our customers."

Andy Cheney, who previously held this role, will now step into an oversight and advisory role by serving on the executive team of Ameris Bank as chief banking executive of Ameris Bancorp.

Bassett has been with Ameris Bank for more than 19 years. He most recently served as executive vice president and chief banking officer for Georgia and Alabama. In this role, he was responsible for all core banking activities throughout Georgia and Alabama, and was also responsible for specialty banking groups, providing oversight of all bank-wide commercial banking initiatives, including construction and municipal lending, treasury and cash management, and government guaranteed/SBA lending.

" Lawton is a highly principled and fair-minded banker who will continue to make a difference at Ameris Bank," said Ameris Bank Chief Executive Officer Edwin W. Hortman Jr. "Since joining the bank in 1997, Lawton has been very impactful in various lending and senior management roles and is an extremely gifted banker and leader. His leadership style, banking background and goal-oriented approach is important as we continue to grow and expand."

Bassett has more than 25 years of financial and banking experience. He served as Ameris Bank regional president, where he oversaw the core banking activities in 19 markets, and led teams in these markets through the integration of 9 financial institutions acquired by Ameris Bank.

He also served as the chief executive officer of Citizens Security Bank, an independently charted Ameris Bancorp-owned financial institution, until it was consolidated into Ameris Bank in 2006. Prior to joining Citizens Security Bank, Bassett served in various commercial lending and leadership roles at Barnett Bank and SunTrust.

Bassett earned an associate's degree in business from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College and a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Georgia.  He is an honor graduate of the Banking School of the South at Louisiana State University, Graduate School of Banking and is an alumnus of Leadership Georgia and Leadership Tifton.  

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"Pet therapy" before a recent nursing exam apparently helped the students score higher, says an instructor at  Southern Regional Technical College (SRTC).

"The nursing students were really involved with the dogs and vice-versa. It was obvious that the interaction was incredibly genuine, and students thoroughly enjoyed their time with the dogs. To me, this interaction had a tremendous positive effect on the students before the exam. I saw an approximate 10-point increase in the students' test grades on this course material after their pet therapy session in relation to previous classes," said  Terry Harper with the associate of science nursing faculty.

"This experience has entirely changed my thoughts on pre-examination relaxation techniques. I would love for our students to have this opportunity every semester," Harper said.

The therapy session was a 
collaboration between SRTC's veterinary technology program and the associate of science in nursing program. The project, a brainchild of SRTC veterinary technology instructor Sharon Poitevint, was so popular with participants that there is potential for it to become a staple on the school's Thomasville campus.

"Originally, we thought this would be a great chance for a few dogs to possibly find their forever home and for some stressed-out nursing students to relax for a few minutes before taking a major test," Poitevint said. 

"The day before the event, vet tech students bathed the dogs, trimmed their nails, cleaned their ears and sprayed them with doggy perfume. Then, the morning of the event, my students arrived as early as 7 a.m. to be in the courtyard with a dog so any nursing student coming into the building could be greeted." 

Poitevint said she was " incredibly excited that Mrs. Harper experienced measurable improvement in the test grades. For me, this further iterates the adage that 'dogs can change our lives.' "

SRTC has instructional sites located in Ashburn, Cairo, Camilla, Moultrie, Thomasville, Tifton and Sylvester.


Ron Gitaitis, a plant pathologist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, was inducted into the Vidalia Onion Hall of Fame by the Vidalia Onion Committee at its annual awards banquet recently in Vidalia.

"We also wanted to recognize Dr. Gitaitis' contribution to the Vidalia industry, especially since the University of Georgia has played a key role in providing critical crop research and helping the industry by providing unbiased, scientific data to the growers," said Vidalia Onion Committee Director Susan A. Waters.

Based on the UGA Tifton Campus, Gitaitis researches bacterial diseases on Vidalia onions, and he was the first scientist to discover three species of onion bacteria

He has published numerous reports and journal articles, and he has mentored scientists at UGA and other institutions throughout his career. Many of his discoveries shaped production practices in the Vidalia region. After 37 years of service to UGA, he plans to retire in June.

"Dr. Gitaitis is an instrumental leader of our research and Extension team at UGA. His wealth of knowledge has helped to make my job easier over the years," said Cliff Riner, coordinator of the UGA Vidalia Onion and Vegetable Research Center and the Vidalia-onion-area.


Mary Shoup of Tifton is one of three Berry College students named 2017 Kirbo Scholars getting money for their research projects.

Kirbo Scholars awards are up to $1,250 to support projects related to academic research or growth experiences such as study abroad, internships or artistic endeavors. 

Shoup is researching a method that could help stop Chagas disease, which affects 8 million people worldwide with a mortality rate of about 20,000 a year.

The other scholars are Hannah Stanley of Chatsworth, who is  evaluating tick-borne pathogens found in ticks removed from domestic animals; and  Jennifer Wayman of Tampa, Fla.,  studying the expected increase of male to female embryos when fertilized through in vitro fertilization.

From left are Alfa President Jimmy Parnell, agent Christina Moore of Tifton, District Manager Paul Blanchard and Al Dees, marketing executive vice president.

Alfa Insurance agent Christina Moore of Tifton was recently honored with the 2016 Top Commercial Producer Award for Georgia during the company's annual awards ceremony. 

She also received the Distinguished Service Award -- Bronze Level.
The ceremony, held Feb. 21 at the Montgomery, Ala., Performing Arts Centre, recognized Alfa's best agents and managers for their service to policyholders. 
Moore has served as an Alfa agent since 2004. Alfa and its affiliates provide insurance and other financial services to nearly 1 million customers in 11 states.


Tiftarea Academy's Upper School Literary Team participated recently in region competition. Three students are moving on to state competition; pictured from left to right are:  Rylee Vance and Maggie Shannon, who  will compete in oral interpretation,  and Natalie Yaeger, who  will compete in  essay.

They will compete in the Georgia Independent School Association's state competition on Wednesday, March 15, at Valdosta State University


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