Friday, March 19, 2021
Tifton, Georgia
Tifton Grapevine
The tourism situation in Tifton and Tift County is looking optimistic, said Dereck Sumner, chairman of the Tifton-Tift County Chamber of Commerce during its membership meeting via Zoom on Thursday.

“We have our fingers crossed that we’ll have some normalization of things very soon,” Sumner said.

His remarks followed a discussion by representatives of the Tifton-Tift County Tourism Association, who said local hotel occupancy is rising again, and more people are searching Tifton on social media.

The Tourism Association is starting a new campaign theme – “Something for Everyone.”
“Whether it’s dining, shopping or playing, everyone will discover something they enjoy to create lasting memories to bring home,” said Angela Elder, tourism event coordinator.

The Tourism Association considers Tifton and Tift County to have three major attractions, Elder said: The Georgia Museum of Agriculture and Historic Village, Downtown Tifton, and two you-pick farms – Berry Good Farms and Rutland Farms.

She said many visitors who did not grow up with agriculture consider picking their own fruits and vegetables and learning how cotton and peanuts grow to be novel activities.
The recent filming in Tifton of the movie “Gasoline Alley” with Bruce Willis and Luke Wilson also had an economic impact with the film's cast and crew using a total of 1,279 hotel-room nights. “The movie crew spent over $118,000 just on hotel rooms,” Elder said.

She said they filmed on Commerce Way, on Main Street, at the airport, at the Town Terrace Motel, in private homes and even filmed a chase scene. The production crew rented buildings, bought props and gas, ate in local restaurants, used a local caterer, went bowling and played golf while in Tifton.

“At least two more movies are to be filmed in Tifton, starting in April,” Elder said. 

The November-December 2019 filming of “The Tiger Rising” with Queen Latifa and Dennis Quaid generated approximately $52,000 locally. They used 748 total room nights over three weeks, she said.
Chamber members were told that Tifton has 16 hotels with a total of 1,200 rooms. An additional 200 rooms are expected in the next two years. Tifton has three conference centers – at UGA, Museum of Agriculture, and the Tiftarea Conference Center. Five hotels have small meeting rooms.

Tifton and Tift County have more than 100 restaurants, and more than 40 of them are local.

Upcoming local events include the YMCA Tour de Tifton bicycle ride on March 27; ABAC Homecoming, April 5-10; and the Downtown Spring Fling, April 10
For All Open Tifton Positions:
Sales, Warehouse, CDL and Service 

Saturday, March 20
9 a.m. to 3 p.m. 
Special Military-only Hour: 8-9 a.m. for active, reservists & veterans
UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center
15 RDC Road, Tifton, GA

To be considered, all applicants must apply online before the event.

Apply by Clicking Here!
VIDEO: Click image to see a preview of the final season of "Dwight in Shining Armor,” co-starring Tifton’s Caitlin Carmichael.
Tifton Grapevine
Tifton-born movie and TV actress Caitlin Carmichael's fifth and final season of her current television series premieres this Sunday.

She co-stars in BYUtv's family-oriented adventure series "Dwight in Shining Armor," which begins its final season at 8:30 p.m. Sunday, March 21.

“I can't even begin to express how proud I am of our final season. The amount of love, dedication, and hard work that was poured into every episode from our cast and crew was unbelievable,” Carmichael told the Tifton Grapevine on Thursday from California.

“We were able to film all 10 episodes during COVID-19 without a single positive COVID-19 test from any of our cast and crew. I am forever grateful to our team for keeping each other safe, and so thankful we were able to escape to the magical world of 'Woodside' during this pandemic. 

“The last episodes of Season 5 are my favorites we've ever filmed, and I can’t wait to see them edited together on TV. Thank you to everyone who has watched our show and supported us for the past four seasons. I hope you love our final adventures as much as we do.”

The TV series, in which the "Middle Ages meets Middle America," co-stars Carmichael as Gretta, a gothic princess who has been magically sleeping for a thousand years and is awakened by Dwight (Sloane Morgan Siegel), a modern-day teen. Others awakened along with the princess are a host of sidekicks and medieval villains.

Carmichael, 16, was discovered on a Disney cruise when she was three years old and has been acting ever since. Her latest film, "Midnight in the Switchgrass," stars Bruce Willis and Megan Fox, and is in post-production.
Tifton Grapevine
Average daily cases of COVID-19 in Tift County have now dropped to their lowest level since last April 6, according to data compiled by Emory University.

In its latest report dated March 16, Emory shows 6.3 average daily cases per 100,000 residents in Tift County, the lowest level since the first weeks of the pandemic. Tift hit a peak on Jan. 4 when the county was averaging 126 daily cases per 100,000 population.

In the past week, Tift County reported 10 new cases and one additional related death. In
two weeks, Tift has seen 18 new cases of the coronavirus, which translates to 44 per 100,000 population, the Ga. Department of Public Health (DPH) said, The county’s positive testing rate during the period is 2.7 percent.

Since the pandemic began, Tift has reported 3,382 cases with 93 deaths.

On Thursday, Georgia reported 1,286 new cases with 57 additional deaths and 86 new hospitalizations. The state has had a total of 839,823 cases and 16,053 related deaths, the DPH said.
Tifton Grapevine
The unemployment rate dropped in January in all Tiftarea counties as well as statewide, the Georgia Department of Labor announced Thursday.

Tift County saw a 4.3 percent jobless rate, down from December's 4.9 percent. Georgia’s unemployment rate dropped 0.2 percentage points in January to reach 5.1 percent – decreasing 7.4 percentage points since the start of the pandemic.

Georgia’s January unemployment rate was 1.2 percent lower than the national unemployment rate.

“In our first month of 2021, we saw the unemployment rate continue to drop, signifying Georgia is pushing through this pandemic," said Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “I look forward to getting more Georgians back to work."

Cook County recorded the area's lowest jobless rate at 4.1 percent, a 0.6 drop in the previous month's rate. Turner County continued to have the Tiftarea's highest unemployment rate at 7.2 percent, which still was a major improvement over December's 8.5 percent, the DOL reported.

Other jobless rates in January included: Berrien, 4.3; Irwin, 4.9; Worth, 4.9; and Ben Hill County, 7.1 percent.
Tifton Grapevine
The existence of quality greenways in our community can dramatically affect its economic vitality, Patty Timper, president of Tift Area Greenways Association (TAGA), explained to the Tifton Rotary Club on Wednesday.

TAGA started in 2011 as a group of people who wanted safe bike lanes for families to ride bikes together and who wanted safe routes to school. While it continues to emphasize the benefit of families exercising together, the organization has evolved to propose trails which will attract visitors and new residents to come to Tifton.
One of the proposed trails is a greenway that follows a former rail bed starting behind the Tiftarea YMCA and heading toward I-75, ending behind Chick-Fil-A. “This will be ideal for walkers, runners, bikers, skateboarders, who will all share the path for this to be successful,” Timper said.

For travelers staying at the many hotels or eating at the restaurants along U.S. Highway 82 near I-75, “it will be an opportunity for people to walk their dogs, let the kids run, take a needed break before they get back on the road again,” Timper said. 

“At the same time local pedestrians, runners and cyclists can use this. People exercising often want to eat, so access points to restaurants will need to be included.” 

The other proposed trail is a two-way multipurpose roadside trail from ABAC to the Tifton-Tift County Public Library downtown.

“It would be painted a bright color to stand out to motorists sharing the road,” Timper said. It would utilize smaller streets such as Sixth Street, “which is really wide and has low traffic,” she said, compared to Eighth Street. It would include spurs off the trail to Len Lastinger Elementary School and Eighth Street Middle School. It would continue to Love Lane to the library. 

Timper mentioned that the UGA Tifton campus has a lot of international visitors walking and riding bikes to Tifton from their homes. 

She said grant funds are needed to match what the city or county puts into accomplishing these trails. She invited listeners to be advocates, “spread the word and talk to our community leaders” to encourage funding for these trails.
“The Moultrie Greenways Trail is the most used recreational facility in the city,” she said. Realtors in the city of Greenville, S.C., use the proximity of homes to its “Swamp Rabbit Trail” as a selling point to prospective new home buyers.
“Young professionals want to have these trails,” Timper said. “It’s a way to get them to move here and to stay here.”

The group has a Facebook page and a webpage. Membership is $10 a year. The group plans to resume meeting in person at 12:15 p.m. April 7 at the Tift County Recreation Department. 
Tifton Grapevine
"Baskets on Parade" are springing up all over Tifton as a fundraiser for Literacy Volunteers of Tifton-Tift County, celebrating spring just before Easter.

Sixteen baskets from area businesses and organizations and a few donated paintings and pieces of jewelry are available for bidding on the Literacy Volunteers website right now and throughout the month. Click here to bid.

Participating businesses are: Annie’s Place, Ashley Home Stores, Bula’s Antiques, Bob’s Flowers, Calhoun Produce Georgia Grown, the Georgia Museum of Agriculture, the Georgia Peanut Commission, The Hippy Chick, The Howard Diet Center, Indulgence Massage & Spa, The Local Restaurant, The Market at Rutland Farms, Pet Sense, Pineapple Post, Pit Stop Restaurant, Plantation 59 & Surchero’s, Simply Sweet Celebrations, Southern Grace Farms, Southern Pickers, Southwell & Wisham Jellies, Spring Hill Suites & Springhill Country Club, T&L Collectables & Roasters Edge Coffee, Tifton-Tift County Tourism Association & the Tifton Grapevine, and more are joining daily.

A collection of jewelry, framed paintings, and prints have been donated by Liz Carson Keith, a longtime supporter of adult literacy and former board member of LVTTC.
Bidding is now open on the actual photos, and the winning bidders will be announced April 1. Those who win bids will go to the business to pick up the item, supporting local area businesses. 

For more information, email or call Literacy Volunteers at 229-391-2527.

The Howard Center is sponsoring the event, which benefits literacy programs in Tift County. LVTTC provides and trains tutors to work with local residents wanting to improve their reading skills or work toward earning their GEDs.
Marlee Cox, left, and Dona Sumner have been named Tiftarea Academy Teachers of the Year.
Tiftarea Academy has presented its 2020-2021 Teachers of the Year awards.

Marlee Cox was named Upper School Teacher of the Year, and Dona Sumner was awarded Lower School Teacher of the Year.
Cox is the Upper School art teacher and has taught at TA for two years. She graduated from Valdosta State University with a degree in fine arts. She and her husband Jordan are expecting their first child later this month. 

Sumner has been teaching for 24 years. She has spent 23 of them at Tiftarea Academy and has served as the school's media specialist for 20 years. She received her bachelor's in early childhood education from Valdosta State and obtained her media specialist certification in 2007. She and her husband Alex have two adult children, Alexis Westmark and Eli Sumner

"Both of these ladies work extra hard in their specialties to make sure our students are engaged and learning," said Headmaster Stacey Bell. "We are so thankful for their hard work and the time, dedication, and love they pour into each and every one of their students."
ABAC students, faculty, staff, and administrators wear purple for International Women’s Day as a part of Women’s History Month.
Women have always played a role in the leadership of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College since it opened as the Second District Agricultural and Mechanical School in 1908.

As part of Women’s History Month activities at ABAC, Dr. Marjorie J. Spruill will speak in a virtual presentation on “One Woman, One Vote: The Long Road to the 19th Amendment” at 6 p.m. March 22. Spruill is a historian and emeritus professor at the University of South Carolina. The speech is open to the public via Zoom at

The latest ABAC female administrator to move to a featured role is Deidra Jackson, named ABAC’s vice president for finance and operations in December. 

She is one of many female administrators who fill key positions across the ABAC campus. Among others:

  • Dr. Darby Sewell, assistant vice president for academic affairs, engagement, learning resources, and compliance;
  • Dr. Amy Willis, assistant vice president for academic records and registrar; 
  • Dr. Renata Elad, dean, Stafford School of Business;
  • Dr. Wendy Harrison, department head, English and communication;
  • Dr. Susan Roe, department head, fine arts;
  • Bernice Hughes, dean of students;
  • Donna Webb, assistant vice president for student affairs;
  • Olga Contreras, director of multicultural educational programs;
  • Jessica Swords, director of student accounts and veterans affairs certifying official;
  • Brenda Taylor-Hickey, director of financial aid;
  • Debbie Pyles, lieutenant, ABAC Police;
  • Cindy Barber, digital media director;
  • Carmen Counts, Health Center director;
  • Tracy Dyal, manager, Stallion Shop;
  • Polly Huff, museum curator;
  • Donna Sledge, athletic trainer;
  • Dr. Deidre Martin, chief development officer;
  • Jodie Snow, chief operating officer, ABAC Foundation;
  • Lynda Fisher, alumni director;
  • Lindsey Roberts, director, marketing and communication;
  • Sue Mastrario, director, operations and accounting.
William Bowen of Tifton has been elected chairman of the Georgia State Board of Funeral Service. He was appointed to the board in 2016 by Gov. Nathan Deal.

The Georgia State Board of Funeral Service administers the funeral service law for the purpose of better protection of life and health, preventing the spread of contagious, communicable, and infectious diseases, and regulating the practice of embalming and funeral directing.

The board also licenses funeral establishments and funeral directors/embalmers.

Bowen is a fourth generation owner and partner of Bowen-Donaldson Home for Funerals and owner and managing partner of Bowen Land and Timber LLC. He is a director of Ameris Bancorp and a board member of Southwell/Tift Regional Medical Center.

He is also a member of the Tifton-Tift County Tourism Association and past president of the Georgia Funeral Director Association. Bowen is a graduate of ABAC and the University of Georgia.
Spring officially arrives at 5:37 a.m. Saturday, March 20, but it has already made its presence known, as seen in this recent photo, by Li Wang, of the Future Farmstead on the University of Georgia Tifton campus.
Bernice Hughes, dean of students at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, has been selected as a 2021 Phi Theta Kappa Distinguished College Administrator.

“Dean Hughes was selected because of her outstanding support for the Omega Delta Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa at ABAC,” said Dr. Charlotte Klesman, advisor to ABAC’s PTK chapter. 

Hughes will be honored virtually at the PTK Catalyst 2021 Live on April 9.

“I am honored to receive this recognition from Phi Theta Kappa,” Hughes said. “I was really shocked when the PTK headquarters contacted me and told me about the honor."

After serving as the assistant housing director at Middle Tennessee State University, Hughes joined ABAC in 1998 and became dean of students in 2004. She received the E. Lanier Carson Award in 2003 as the top administrator at ABAC.

Hughes has lived on campus at Comer Hall for the past 22 years. She is getting a new apartment this fall at ABAC Place.
The South Georgia Council of Boy Scouts recognized 30 new Eagle Scouts during 2020. 

They include several in the Tiftarea: Kaleb Chance Carroll of Troop 62, Tifton; Kenneth Forester Clark of Troop 454, Nashville; Greston T. Griner of Troop 686, Nashville; Joel Mann of Troop 832, Ocilla; Lane Gunner Paramore of Troop 100, Sylvester; Micah Peters of Troop 144, Pelham; and Ross C. Peters of Troop 62, Tifton.

Each Eagle Scout led a service project to benefit the community. Projects included installing a HF radio antenna for the Air Force Auxiliary, repairing walking bridges in public parks, and restoring and repairing an abandoned church cemetery. Each of the 30 projects averaged 62 hours of service.

The South Georgia Council serves thousands of girls and boys in scouting in 28 counties in South Georgia.
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“Spunky," a male Husky mix, is ready for a home. He can be adopted at the Tift County Animal Shelter, located on Highway 125 S. The shelter is open to the public for adoptions from 1-6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

For more information, call 229-382-PETS (7387).
Pets of the Week are sponsored by:
Branch’s Veterinary Clinic
205 Belmont Ave., Tifton, 229-382-6055  
Noel F. Brown Jr., 73, Sylvester
Barbara Ann Hathaway, 71, Ozark, Ala.
Karen “Faye” Hedge Coleman, 64, Tifton
Richard Lynn “Ricky” Griffin, 66, of Nashville
Phyllis Ann Grice, 74, Fitzgerald
Simon Billington, 83, Tifton

Cynthia “Cindy” Grace Pritchard Lovett, 58, Tifton
Grace Hand Doss, 81, Tifton
Joyce Evelyn Garrick Johnson, 90, Tifton
Kathy White O’Neal, 76, Fitzgerald
Herman Webb Sr., 79, Leesburg
Evelyn Polk, 60, Sylvester

Robert Vinson Outlaw, 61, Nashville
James Richard “Rick” Evans, 70, Irwin County
Christine Watson Brown, 89, Sycamore

Janie Ruth Roberson, 75, Fitzgerald
Elaine Walls, 67, Fitzgerald

Sara Beth Luke, 28, Tifton
Richard Lynn “Ricky” Griffin, 66, Nashville
Glendale Martin, 68, Fitzgerald
Dorothy Dowdy Young, 81, Fitzgerald
Marcus Tucker, 48, Coffee County

Debra Smith, 60, Tifton
William "Bill" Glock, 59, Montgomery, Ala.
Sonya Faye Daniels, 55, Tifton
Danny Keith Marshall, 56, Fitzgerald
Frances Marie LaRock, 78, Adel
Joan Laminack Posey, 84, Fitzgerald

Daphine S. Peavy, 84, Ocilla
Milton Sledge, 77, Ty Ty
Tifton Grapevine
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