Friday, March 13, 2020
Tifton, Georgia
Office of the Governor photo
Gov. Brian Kemp conducts the state's Coronavirus Task Force meeting Thursday in Atlanta.
'We are in this fight together,' Governor says
Tifton Grapevine

Events moved fast Thursday in Georgia regarding the Novel Coronavirus , or COVID-19 , with the state's first confirmed death , a worker at Valdosta's Moody Air Force Base testing positive , all University System public colleges closing for two weeks , and the General Assembly suspending its session indefinitely .

The coronavirus-related death in Georgia involved a 67-year-old man who was hospitalized at Wellstar Kennestone Hospital in Marietta . State officials said the victim, who tested positive for COVID-19 on March 7 , had underlying health conditions .

As of late Thursday , encompassing a dozen counties , Georgia has 12 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 19 presumed positive cases awaiting additional testing.


Gov. Brian Kemp , at a press conference Thursday , said he was expanding his Coronavirus Task Force with subcommittees focusing on emergency preparedness, economic impact, healthcare decisions , and the homeless and displaced populations .

"As our state continues to address this pandemic, I urge Georgians to remain calm and support their neighbors and communities . We are in this fight together ," Kemp said.

The governor issued a “call to action” to schools and day care centers , allowing them to shut down if local administrators think it is necessary . "They have all been freed to take action as they deem fit ," the governor said.

Shortly thereafter, the University System of Georgia  announced that it was temporarily suspending classes for two weeks .

"Students on campus are asked to depart campus by close of business Friday, March 13 , 2020, and to remain away from campus until March 29 ," the University System said.

Atlanta metro K-12 public schools also announced they are shutting down buildings and moving classes online indefinitely.

In Tift County , School Superintendent Adam Hathaway released a letter Thursday noting that Tift schools will continuing operating on normal schedules . "We will continue working in partnership with the Georgia Department of Public Health to determine if and when closures are necessary ," he wrote.

Hathaway wrote that the school system is continuing "increased sanitation efforts" including disinfecting classrooms , school common areas and buses .


In Lowndes County , a Moody Air Force Base worker in its dining hall tested positive for the Novel Coronavirus , authorities announced Thursday .

Also, South Georgia Medical Center in Valdosta announced that a different patient , who was transferred to a Florida hospital , has since been diagnosed with the Novel Coronavirus.

Health officials say the best prevention measures for all ages against any respiratory virus are:

▪  Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least twenty seconds.
▪ If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer .
▪  Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
▪  Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
▪  Stay home when you are sick .
▪  Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue , then throw the tissue in the trash.
▪  Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
A Tifton product is one of 30 from across the state that judges have selected to compete in the second and final round of the University of Georgia’s annual Flavor of Georgia Food Product Contest.

Apple Fig Pepper Jelly from Wisham Jellies of Tifton is a finalist winnowed from a field of 117 products; the finalists will compete April 7 in Athens .

The contest is the state’s proving ground for small, upstart food companies as well as established products looking for recognition or new markets . This year’s finalists represent all corners of the state.
"Year after year, winners tell me that the prestige of the Flavor of Georgia award opens doors for additional business opportunities , whether they are highlighting a product line, considering expanding into new variations, or launching a new product or company,” said Sharon P. Kane , contest coordinator and economist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences’ (CAES) Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development.

Finalists include Costa Rica Tarrazu Coffee from Grassroots Coffee Roasters of Thomasville ; Georgia Fried Peanut Cluster – Vanilla from Georgia Fried Peanut Co. of Edison ; and Vanilla Espresso Pecans from Goodson Pecans of Leesburg
While the unemployment rate rose slightly in January from December throughout the Tiftarea , the rates – for the most – are still far below where they were a year ago , reports the Ga. Department of Labor .

Tift County's jobless rate for January was 3.3 percent , up from 2.9 percent in December ; during January a year ago , it was 4.3 percent , according to the the Labor Department.

In the Tiftarea , Ben Hill County recorded the highest rate at 5.8 percent; it was 7.1 percent one year ago . Irwin's rate in January was 5 percent; Turner , 4.7 percent; Berrien , 4.6 percent; Worth , 3.7 percent; and Cook County , 3.4 percent.

The jobless rate for Georgia held steady at 3.1 percent in January, its lowest level since the government started keeping track in the mid-1970s .

"Over the year, we are still seeing positive data , and our unemployment rates are still some of the lowest ever on record ,” said Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler .
Keep Tift Beautiful has recognized the home of Betty Pope at 410 16th St. as Tifton's "Beauty Spot of the Month."
University of Georgia Cooperative Extension is offering a new seminar, “ Solar Energy in Rural Georgia: Opportunities for Landowners,” on March 26 at the UGA-Tifton Campus Conference Center.

The event, set for 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m., is structured to help landowners understand the benefits and possible liabilities of hosting solar panels on their land. The public is welcome to attend for free, but advance online registration is required.

Investing in solar panels as an energy provider or leasing to outside companies has been a growing topic, and UGA Extension offices are fielding questions about it.

“Landowners should be cognizant of the implications of entering into a solar lease agreement,” said UGA Extension agricultural economist Amanda Smith. “With farm margins so tight, producers need to look at ways to manage their costs."

To register online, Click Here!
Rhonda Lewis , the associate program coordinator of the ABAC School of Nursing , says that ABAC graduates have a 98 percent pass rate on the nursing board exam, or National Council Licensure Exam

“We turn out very good nurses ; we supply most of the nurses in our area,”  Lewis told the Tifton Rotary Club on Wednesday .

ABAC offers associate's degree in nursing for students straight out of high school .

Lewis described the “bridge to the R.N. program” for students who are licensed practical nurses, respiratory therapists, or emergency medical technicians. These students are able to work locally while studying for their registered nurse degree

“It allows people to keep their jobs and go back to their employer as an R.N. ” She said ABAC is one of only two programs in the United States that allows respiratory therapists to participate , so people come here from all over. 

“I have a person from Seattle and another from Northern California ,” Lewis said. They found local jobs while pursuing their nursing degree . “We bring people here.”

Lewis said nursing is the largest single major at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College

Lauren Dotson , a senior student , spoke about her experience as a nursing student .

“All of my teachers have been super wonderful ," she said. "The teachers really care, they go the extra mile. They really want you to pass. We need nurses , because there’s such a shortage . Having people that really push you to pass is something special . I love ABAC !”
News of the coronavirus has some people feeling uneasy. Building a supply of emergency food and water will help ease stress and help Georgians prepare for emergencies , University of Georgia Cooperative Extension representatives say.

" Flash floods, tropical storms, blizzards , whatever the disaster — it pays to be prepared ," said UGA Extension food safety specialist Elizabeth Andress .

"Every family should have at least a three-day emergency food supply to fall back on. If you are concerned about virus quarantine , you should plan on a two-week supply, according to our public health agencies."

Natural disasters, or the slim chance your family is quarantined by the coronavirus, will prevent you from shopping for supplies. The size of your personal emergency food supply depends on the size of your family and storage area. Select non-perishable foods that do not require refrigeration, little or no cooking, and little or no water for natural disasters. For quarantine, you can plan on having your utilities.

Include ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits and vegetables . Add canned juices, soups and canned or powdered milk . Include bottled water for drinking and extra water for mixing powdered milk and diluting the soups. Supply enough fluids (milk, juice, water, etc.) so each family member has at least one gallon per day .

“A person who's normally active needs to drink at least two quarts of water each day, but hot environments can double that amount,” she said.

Include staple foods , like sugar, salt and pepper, too, and high-energy foods like peanut butter, jelly, granola bars and trail mix.

HIGHLIGHTING TRAINERS: March is National Athletic Training Month , and the Georgia Athletic Trainers Association (GATA) is recognizing the athletic training profession this month. In the photo are GATA Southwest Region co-chairs Donna Kay Sledge , left, and Jay Johnson , right. In the middle is Lydia Kingry , 2019 GATA Student Athletic Trainer of the Year . Sledge is the head athletic trainer at ABAC , and Johnson is head athletic trainer at Valdosta State . Kingry , from Turner County , played softball for ABAC then moved on to Valdosta State' s sports medicine program. ... WOMEN'S HISTORY: Sigma Alpha Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority is celebrating Women's History in Tifton at noon March 25 , at the Georgia Museum of Agriculture . For information, call 229-886-1895 .

  • Me, Myself & Meditation, 9 a.m., Reed Bingham State Park, Adel
  • Wellness Hike, 10 a.m., Reed Bingham Sate Park, Adel
  • Food Truck Friday, 4 p.m., Downtown Adel
  • St. Patrick's Day Sip and Stroll, 5 p.m., Main Street, Sylvester
  • Paint & Sip – Ronald the Rooster, 6:30 p.m., Carnegie Arts Center, Fitzgerald
  • "Calendar Girls" play, 7 p.m., Tift Theatre for the Performing Arts, Tifton

  • Community Care Day, 9 a.m.-Noon, Tift County Recreation Department, Tifton
  • Youth Apprentice Information Session, 10 a.m.-Noon, Ga. Museum of Agriculture, Tifton
  • South Georgia Wine Festival, 11 a.m., Paulk Vineyards, Wray
  • Wiregrass Kids: Pie Day, 1:30 p.m., Ga. Museum of Agriculture, Tifton
  • Songfarmers of Tifton, 1:30 p.m., Ga. Museum of Agriculture, Tifton
  • Community Covered Dish Dinner, 5 p.m., Irwinville Community Center, Ocilla
  • Fire Ant Pageant, 6 p.m., Turner County Civic Center, Ashburn
  • "Calendar Girls" play, 7 p.m., Tift Theatre for the Performing Arts, Tifton

  • Regional Prayer Gathering, 7 p.m., UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center, Tifton
Elnita Hendley Thomas, 91, Tifton
Billy D. Lewis, 77, Sycamore
Benny Garcia Jr., 92, Ben Hill County

Dorothy “Dean” Rudean Fussell Copeland, 77, Brookfield
Tammy Elaine Bennefield Pierce, 45, Nashville
Jack Lane Ewing, 81, Ocilla

The Rev. James Allen Brooks, 89, Nashville
Molly Kate Summerlin Johnson, 93, Tifton
Clayton Leon Layfield, 41, Rochelle
Tommy Lee Clements, 65, Ocilla
Elsie Lee Rockwell, 93, Sylvester

The Rev. Bobby Ray Christmas, 80, Tifton
Winnie Ruth Williams Sheppard, 81, Tifton
Dr. William Morris "Bill" Williams, 80, Macon

William “Willie” Nathan Scarbor, 93, Omega
Jeffrey Dwayne Adams Sr., 61, Worth County
James Lee Poulos, 70, Kill Devil Hills, N.C.

Minnie Louise Pittman Benson, 95, Tifton
Wanda Keen, 91, Tifton
Brenda Joyce Ottoson, 68, Fitzgerald

Rhea Roberts, 61, Nashville

Tifton Grapevine
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Frank Sayles Jr.
Editor & Publisher
Bonnie Sayles
Managing Editor
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