APRIL 6, 2018
Tifton, Georgia

Liz Carson Keith, left, receives Georgia's Literacy Honor Roll designation from Bonnie Sayles, LVTTC executive director; CLCP State Director Annaliza Thomas; and Martha Ann Todd, deputy commissioner of the Technical College System of Georgia.


The Technical College System of Georgia has named Liz Carson Keith, a former board member of Literacy Volunteers of Tifton-Tift County (LVTTC), to Georgia's Literacy Honor Roll for her years of service and dedication to adult literacy.
The announcement was made Wednesday  during  Georgia's Certified Literate Community Program's annual retreat at the Unicoi Lodge in Helen.
Keith has served multiple terms as president, vice president and secretary of LVTTC through the decades. According to Bonnie Sayles, LVTTC executive director, Keith has gone beyond the typical duties of these roles. She has also organized and hosted the agency's longstanding Carnival of Knowledge and Choc-It-Up for Literacy events, especially when the agency was between directors.
"Each year, she donates vacations at her own home in the mountains of North Georgia as a prize in both events," Sayles told statewide directors of literacy programs during the ceremony.
"She organized, coordinated and promoted a fundraising concert with an internationally renowned opera singer. She also donates jewelry and luxurious coats to silent auctions for Literacy Volunteers and continually encourages monetary support from board members and her friends on social media."
Keith's connection with adult literacy began 25 years ago when she worked with the Job Training Partnership Act program at the Regional Development Center and referred students to a lab that the RDC and then Moultrie Technical College jointly operated. She also served as a language arts teacher.
She was subsequently named to the board of Literacy Volunteers of America, Tifton-Tift County, which later became Literacy Volunteers of Tifton-Tift County.
Keith served on the board until last December. She helped spearhead Tifton's designation in 2010 as a Certified Literate Community by the State Department of Technical and Adult Education. The designation was a 10-year process that involved literacy goals across many segments of the population and involved assessment of needs and improvement.

During this time, she was hired by Moultrie Technical College (now Southern Regional Technical College) as lead teacher in Worth County, where she improved literacy involvement countywide.
When an opening became available in Tift County, she was transferred to Tifton and served at the main campus as lead teacher. During her tenure in Tifton, she improved the attendance and enrollment of the Adult Education student body by 100 percent, adding funding and staffing to expand offerings throughout the county.  
After several years, Keith was promoted to Adult Education director for what is now SRTC's Tifton Campus . She continued her close association with LVTTC, growing its influence and helping it achieve grants and funding as a collaborative partner with the technical college .

Keith is the second person from Tifton to receive this award. The late Luz Marti was named to the state's Literacy Honor Roll two years ago.

The front of the UGA Tifton campus has a new flagpole with the United States and Georgia flags. It's located in front of the newly renovated Agricultural Research Building and the previously renovated Tift Building.

The University of Georgia on Wednesday  rededicated the renovated Agricultural Research Building on the Tifton campus.  Formerly known as the Animal and Dairy Science Building, the 80-year-old structure underwent a $5 million renovation completed in the past few weeks.

The 12,000-square-foot structure was originally completed in 1938. The college's animal and dairy science department takes up the first two floors, and the first floor includes new
UGA President Jere Morehead, right, speaks at the building rededication in Tifton. At left is student ambassador  Kelly Paulk and  College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Dean Sam Pardue.
laboratories. The third floor houses the entomology department.

The Agricultural Research Building sits at the front of the UGA Tifton campus, next to the H.H. Tift Building, which was renovated in 2016.

At Wednesday's rededication, UGA President Jere W. Morehead highlighted UGA Tifton's impact on the community and the research the newly renovated building will facilitate.

"This facility helps ensure that UGA faculty, staff and students have the space they need for our critical agricultural research and education programs," Morehead said. "I would like to thank the state and the University System Board of Regents for their investment in this project, which ultimately is an investment in both the future of the UGA Tifton campus and the vitality of Georgia's No. 1 industry." 

Renovations to the building include the addition of high-efficiency LED lighting, extensive fiber-optic cable and wireless internet capabilities. The building retains many of its original features, including the windows. The front of the campus was also improved with new permanent signage, a new flagpole and a new parking lot has been added next to the Plant Science Building.

"We are a campus that prides itself on groundbreaking research that impacts the world. Being able to renovate one of our original buildings will only enhance that research," said Dr. Joe West, UGA Tifton assistant dean. "We strive to make this community and the state of Georgia proud of who we are. We want the UGA Tifton campus to truly reflect the image of the University of Georgia. I feel like we're accomplishing that."


A Tifton family is among those  representing Team USA in the 2018 International World Sport
Drew, Will and Kaylea Pridgen of Tifton are part of Team USA in the World Sport Stacking Championship this weekend.
Stacking Championship  this weekend in Orlando .

Drew, Kaylea and Will Pridgen of Tifton are part of the  United  States team competing against 18 other countries in the in the cup stacking competition.

"This is such an exciting honor and opportunity for them to represent our country in this competition," says their mother, Dawn Pridgen of Tifton.

Dawn Pridgen says her children had just begun learning to cup stack five years ago: "There was a tournament posted online in Orlando, Fla., and it happened to be the week of their spring break; so they loaded up just to
be a spectator. They had no idea that it was the Olympic of Cup Stacking where different countries were competing against one another," she says.

"Fast forward five years and it is a full-circle moment. This year, because it's being held in the USA again, they have the honor to present and compete on behalf of the USA. Last year it was in Taiwan, and the year before it was in Germany."

VIDEO: Watch Will Pridgen in a previous cup-stacking contest.


Kip Hall, an assistant professor of forest resources, received the top award presented to a faculty member at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College -- the W. Bruce and Rosalyn Ray Donaldson Award for Teaching Excellence -- on Wednesday at the annual Honors Day ceremony.  
Other top award recipients at the ceremony included Wayne Jones, director of the Arts Connection, who received the Roy R. Jackson Sr. Award for Staff Excellence; and Dr. Darby Sewell, assistant vice president for academic affairs-engaged learning, who received the E. Lanier Carson Leadership Award for College Administrators. 
ABAC President David Bridges, center, congratulates award winners from the ABAC Honors Day ceremony. They include, from left, Dr. Heather Cathcart, Kip Hall, Bridges, Wayne Jones, Dr. Justin Ng and Dr. Darby Sewell.

Dr. Justin Ng, an assistant professor of agronomy, received the W. Bruce and Rosalyn Ray Donaldson Excellence in Advising Award; and Dr. Heather Cathcart, an associate professor of biology, received the W. Bruce and Rosalyn Ray Donaldson Award for Excellence in Student Engagement.

Hall received his bachelor's degree in biology from Marietta College and his master's degree in forest resources from Penn State. Inducted into the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa honor society in 1979, Hall has been a faculty member in the School of Agriculture and Natural Resources at ABAC for 32 years.
As a part of his duties, Jones has coordinated the annual ABAC Foundation-sponsored event, "An Evening for ABAC." The event raised $100,000 for student scholarships in 2017. He also coordinates the ABAC Performing Arts Series which featured six events this year.  In a variety of roles including choral director, Jones has been a member of the ABAC community for 28 years. 
Sewell received her associate degree from ABAC, her bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Georgia and her Ph.D from Iowa State University. She started her ABAC career as an instructor in 2002. She was interim dean for a year before becoming the dean of human sciences in 2010 Sewell has also served as acting dean for the School of Agriculture and Natural Resources.  
Ng received his bachelor's degree in biology from Trinity University, his master's degree in environmental science from the University of Texas at San Antonio, and his Ph.D in soil science from  Texas A&M University.  He has advised students on their ABAC classes since 2013 and has a current advising load of 70 students. 

Cathcart began teaching at ABAC in 2012. She received her bachelor's degree in biology cum laude from Armstrong Atlantic State University, her master's degree in biology from Georgia Southern University, and her Ph.D from the Medical College of Georgia.


The Exchange Club of Tifton has named Senior Trooper Ben Taylor of the Georgia State Patrol as the club's recipient of the 2018 Officer of the Year Award Taylor has been in law enforcement for 18 years and also serves as a field training officer. In photo from left,  Regenia Wells, Exchange Club public safety chairman, presents the award to Taylor, center. At right is GSP Post Commander Sgt. Duane Massey.


The first of three  $25 credits for the Vogtle nuclear expansion will be applied to Georgia Power Co. customers' bills beginning this month. A total of $75 in bill credits this year, or  $188 million overall, were approved by the Georgia Public Service Commission as part of its order to continue construction of Vogtle 3 & 4. 

Additionally, the PSC recently approved a plan to deliver  $1.2 billion  in customer benefits because of the federal  Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The benefits were confirmed in March as part of an agreement with PSC staff and include approximately  $130 million  in reduced taxes on financing costs for the Vogtle nuclear expansion;  $330 million  in direct credits to customers as a result of lower federal income tax rates in the next two years and approximately  $700 million  in future benefits to be addressed in the company's next base rate case in 2019

Under the plan, the typical residential customer using an average of 1,000 kilowatt-hours per month could receive approximately  $70  in refunds during the two-year period. 

From the beginning of the Vogtle expansion, Georgia Power says it has worked with the PSC to pursue available benefits for customers and minimize the impact of the new units on electric bills. In addition to the 2018 bill credits, the company recently announced a lower projected rate impact for customers of 9.8 percent with more than half of this impact already in place on bills. 

This projected rate impact is below original projections of approximately 12 percent because of new federal tax laws, anticipated customer benefits from federal production tax credits, interest savings from loan guarantees from the U.S. Department of Energy  and the fuel savings of nuclear energy.


The Tiftarea YMCA's 9th Annual Tour de Tifton/Ilse Boyette Memorial Charity Bike Ride is set for 8 a.m. Saturday, April 14

The ride begins and ends at the TIftarea YMCA Hunt Park on 1823 Westover Road. There will be a beginner's 11-mile course, intermediate level 25- and 45-mile, and 62- and 100-mile century routes for advanced riders.
All individual pre-registered participants will receive a T-shirt. Family registrants will receive one T-shirt per family. Participants completing either of the century courses will receive a special gift. Lunch will be provided.
Proceeds benefit Tiftarea YMCA programs and scholarships for underprivileged youth, and the book fund for Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College nursing students in memory of Ilse Boyette.
For information, call the Tiftarea YMCA, 229-391-9622, or email


In Georgia, it's planting season for watermelons. Usually, growers aspire to produce high yields of a sweet crop but they shouldn't ignore firmness and texture, says Tim Coolong, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension vegetable horticulturist in Tifton.

" Sweetness is a major component to watermelons, but without the right flesh firmness the overall texture can be unpleasant," Coolong said. "Consumers don't like that."
During statewide winter production meetings, Coolong discussed the previous year's variety trial research, which focused on yield, sweetness and firmness. He classifies firmness in terms ofconsumers' expectations. If the fruit is too soft, then the texture is poor and the fruit isn't appealing to eat. If the fruit is too firm, then the consumer may consider it unripe.

" Watermelons are an important crop for our growers in southern Georgia. The market can fluctuate during the summer, so planting desirable watermelons is key to a productive season," Coolong said. 

"One part of that success is having a melon with the firmness that consumers want. Based on my research, there are some watermelon varieties that consistently do this better than others and that's what I wanted to convey to farmers."

To test for firmness, Coolong uses a penetrometer, a hand-held device with a probe 11 millimeters wide that registers resistance, measuring the firmness of the fruit when it's pushed into the flesh. In order to generate comparable readings, Coolong and his crew must insert the probe at the same speed and in the same location in every melon.

Most melons land in the middle of the firmness scale, which means that they're not too crisp or too soft.

Variety trial research is an important part of Coolong's work at UGA. He tests between 25 and 30 varieties to get a good sample of what's on the market.

"Certainly, we are only one part of a large effort that goes into bringing products and varieties to market for Georgia growers. We hope our research provides everyone with the best available information to make them more profitable," he said.

In 2016, watermelon's farm gate value in Georgia was estimated at $ 124.4 million, according to the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development.



Congressman Austin Scott, R-Tifton, has set mobile office hours around the congressional district this month. 

During the hours, staff from Scott's Tifton and Warner Robins district offices will offer constituents assistance with federal issues such as Medicare, Social Security and veterans benefits.
Call the Tifton office at 229-396-5175 or the Warner Robins office at 478-971-1776 for any questions.

The mobile office locations will be:

Tuesday, April 17
Moultrie: 9:30-11:30 a.m.,  Colquitt County Library
Sylvester 2-4 p.m.,  Worth County Margaret Jones Library
Wednesday, April 18
Hawkinsville 9:30-11:30 a.m.,  Pulaski County Annex
Abbeville 2-4 p.m.,  Wilcox County Library  
Thursday, April 19
Pearson 9:30-11:30 a.m.,  Satilla Regional Library
Lakeland 2-4 p.m.,  Miller Lakeland Library
Tuesday, April 24
Gray 10 a.m.-noon,  W.E. Knox Civic Center
Irwinton 2-4 p.m.,  Wilkinson County Chamber of Commerce

Wednesday, April 25
McRae 9:30-11:30 a.m.,  Telfair County Library
Fitzgerald 2:30 -4:30 p.m.,  Ben Hill County Library
Thursday, April 26
Quitman 9:30-11:30 a.m.,  Brooks County Library

ABAC'S TOP STUDENT:  Olivia Nicole Minish from Royston was named the top academic student at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College on Wednesday during Honors Day. She is a senior agriculture major with a concentration in crop and soil science.  Minish received the  J.G. Woodroof Scholar designation because of her perfect 4.0 grade point average, and because she  has been on the President's List for eight semesters while pursuing her bachelor of science degree in agriculture. ...  SEEING BLUE:  April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month,  and folks are asked to wear blue today -- Friday, April 6 -- to show support for efforts to combat and prevent child abuse.


The Tift County Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) is holding its Sixth Annual Golf Tournament and Annual Fundraiser on Saturday, April 7at Springhill Country Club

All money raised will help the local FCA send students to camps, provide Bibles and support the FCA with other events. 

For information or to become a sponsor, contact Lynn Kelley at 229-382-2421Derek Sumner at 229-402-9983, or Marvin West at 229-347-1249.

The Miss Tift County Relay for Life Pageant will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 7, at Southern Regional Technical College in Tifton.

Age groups are  Baby Miss (0-12 months), Teeny Miss (1-2 years), Toddler Miss (2-3), Tiny Miss (4-6), Little Miss (7-9), Pre-Teen Miss (10-12), Teen Miss (13-15), Miss (16-18) and Ms. (19-23, married or unmarried).

Admission is $5 with children under age four admitted freeAll proceeds from the pageant will be donated to the American Cancer Society

For information, call Connie Cone, 229-392-1001 or 229-386-4703.

The annual Tift County Relay for Life is scheduled for April 27.


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. a Glance

  • ABAC Plant Sale, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., ABAC Farm, Tifton
  • American Legacy Quilt Show, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Peanut Museum, Tifton
  • ABAC Alumni Awards Luncheon, 12:30 p.m., Gressette Gym, Tifton
  • Gee Haw Whoa Back Rodeo, 7 p.m., ABAC Rodeo Arena, Tifton
  • Jason Michael Carroll Concert, 9:30 p.m., ABAC Pull Track, Tifton

  • Folk Life Festival, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Ga. Museum of Agriculture & Historic Village, Tifton
  • Wiregrass Farmers Market, 9 a.m.-Noon, Ga. Museum of Agriculture, Tifton
  • American Legacy Quilt Show, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Peanut Museum, Ga. Museum of Agriculture, Tifton
  • Southeastern Southern Gospel Music Conference, 1 p.m, UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center, Tifton
  • Miss Tift County Relay for Life Pageant, 2 p.m., Southern Regional technical College, Tifton


In Memoriam

Herman E. McDaniel, 77, Tifton
Brenda Claudette Montgomery Smith, 78, Ty Ty
Margie McDonald Peek, 69, Fitzgerald
Marlene Rountree VanBrackle, 77, Adel
Myrtle Brown Harper, 87, Fitzgerald
Betty Hewett, 84, Sparks
David Clifton "Billy" Hendley, 86, Nashville
Evelyn Supers, 82, Sparks
Tommy Eason, 65, Quitman
Durwood Howard Sr., 74, Monticello, Fla.

Cathy Demaris Toole Ditty, 66, Tifton
Melvin Vernon Gray, 82, Tifton
Opal Fennelle Morris, 90, Tifton

Antansyn Pierson Atkins, 83, Tifton
Edward Lee Autry Sr., 86, Sumner
Jade Danielle Brady, 24, Nashville
Leoda Bryant Maddox Alsobrook, 91, Lenox
Jerry Griffis, 69, Lakeland

Steven Edward Miller, 54, Sycamore

Robbie Ruth Steele Morgan, 98, Tifton
Daniel Jackson Connell Jr., 68, Adel
Carolyn Stone Pridgen, 68, West Green
Joe Allen Towles Jr., 69, Alapaha

Jimmy L. "Shorty" Chambless Jr., 56, Sylvester
Diane Emily Tucker, 63, Fitzgerald
Lois Milton, 98, Ocilla

Nolia Paulin, 79, Tifton
Jim Bridges Jr., 54, Sylvester 
Ronald Joe Gaskins, 71, Quitman

Ruth Thrasher McCormick, 94, Tifton

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