JAN. 20, 2017
Tifton, Georgia


Tifton Grapevine

The day dawned bright and frosty in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Jan. 20, 1977 Although the sun was shining, the temperature was in the teens and a recent snowfall had left mounds of ice and snow in yards and alongside roads.
The Carters take a walk.
As I headed to an early morning religious service at the Lincoln Memorial , a radio commercial noted a closeout sale at "Jerry's Ford," a local car dealership; on this day  President Gerald Ford would be succeeded by  Jimmy Carter , the former Georgia governor who lived in Plains , just up the road from Tifton  outside Americus .

I was a young journalist covering my first inaugural. At the Lincoln Memorial that morning, the Rev. Martin Luther King Sr., "Daddy King" of Atlanta, spoke on the steps: "I am on hallowed ground where, not quite 14 years ago, my son stood here and delivered his great speech, 'I have a dream....' "

The elder King said that "Martin Luther King Jr. gave his life" so that the "poor and oppressed will never be forgotten," and he implored the incoming president to remember those less fortunate.
Frank Sayles Jr. on inauguration day, Jan. 20, 1977.

Following the swearing-in ceremony, Carter became the first president to walk from the Capitol to the  White House  in the post-ceremony parade. When the Carters stopped their limousine, got out and began walking, a roar went up from the crowd around them.

At the end of the long day, following the inaugural parade, I found a discarded Nixon mask left on the grounds of the National Mall. Watergate and Vietnam were just a few years behind us, and, as with any inaugural, there was hope for a new day ahead.

Of the many words Carter spoke that day 40 years ago, these are the ones I remember: "Let us learn together and laugh together and work together and pray together, confident that in the end we will triumph together in the right."


Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue of Bonaire , Georgia's first GOP governor since Reconstruction, is President-elect  Donald Trump 's choice as secretary of agriculture, a move that local and state officials are applauding.

"Governor Perdue's nomination as secretary of agriculture is great for the entire state
but  particularly for South Georgia ," said Brian Marlowe , president & CEO of the Tifton-Tift  County Chamber of Commerce and the Tift County Development Authority.

"Tift County is in the heart of one of the most diverse agricultural regions in the country, with regards to production, research and innovation. He understands this, and his appointment will provide all of our agri-businesses another strong voice in Washington," Marlowe told the Tifton Grapevine.

Congressman Austin Scott, a Republican from Tifton, said: "Agriculture is Georgia's leading industry, so we're glad to have someone who understands our state's agricultural needs and act as a champion for the needs of our farmers, ranchers and manufacturers in the U.S. Department of Agriculture."

"I know he will work hard to represent all farmers and ranchers, as well as rural communities, across our nation. He has vast knowledge from serving as governor, owning and operating an agribusiness and being a veterinarian. I am confident he will bring great things to USDA," said  Georgia Farm Bureau President Gerald Long.

"It really boils down to the farmer," said Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black. "I think what the president-elect has done is select a farmer's choice. Agriculture is in Sonny Perdue's DNA, and now it's really going to have an opportunity to flourish."

Perdue, 70, is a Perry native who served two terms as governor. He would be the first Southerner as agriculture secretary in more than two decades. He received a doctorate in veterinary medicine from the University of Georgia in 1971 before joining the Air Force, where he rose to the rank of captain. Perdue has owned a number of grain- and feed-processing, farm transportation and crop-export businesses.


Tift Regional Health System (TRHS) announced Thursday that Cook Medical Center's emergency services in Adel will be consolidating with Tift Regional Medical Center's emergency room in Tifton.

Cook Medical Center's ER will close at 11:59 p.m. Feb. 28, and a clinic in Adel will begin offering extended hours for minor injuries and illnesses on March 1.
WFXL Fox 31 photo

Hospital officials said the move is designed to ensure the long-term sustainability of other hospital-based services in Cook County.  

"Ongoing reductions in reimbursements across the nation have created a risk of closure for one-in-three rural hospitals nationwide," said Chris Dorman, TRHS president and chief operating officer. 

"This environment creates a unique challenge of providing a higher quality of medical care at a lower cost to ensure longevity. Approximately 22.7 percent of Cook County's population is uninsured, which led Cook County residents to seek minor medical care in the most expensive care setting -- the emergency room."

Dorman said Cook Medical Center has lost approximately $2.6 million annually since 2012, with the emergency room being the main contributor.
"By consolidating this service, TRHS will be better positioned to invest in additional healthcare services for Cook County," Dorman said. "These additional services could include out-patient primary care services with access to prenatal care and education, as well as the addition of specialists to drive improved health outcomes in much-needed specialties such as cardiovascular disease, teenage pregnancy rates, obesity rates and diabetes management."

"It is a trend nationwide for smaller hospitals to close or consolidate emergency rooms, and more is expected in the future," said Cook Medical Center CEO Michael Purvis .

"Six rural hospitals in Georgia alone have closed since 2013, and we want to prevent that from happening at Cook Medical Center."

Click here for "Frequently Asked Questions" (FAQ) and answers compiled by TRHS.

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House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway, R-Texas, has reappointed Congressman Austin Scott, R-Ga., to serve as chairman of the Agriculture Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy and Credit for the 115th Congress.
"It is an honor to serve as chairman of the Agriculture Subcommittee," said Scott of Tifton. "I thank Chairman Conaway for his trust in me for leading this respected Austin Scott committee. I am proud to represent agriculture producers back home in Georgia during the 115th Congress."

Scott added that 
"our work this Congress on behalf of producers, ranchers, manufacturers and American citizens will prove to be vitally important as we move towards writing our next farm bill."

Scott's subcommittee has jurisdiction over the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Rural Development, lending institutions and agriculture credit and loan operations within the Farm Service Agency.

Scott is serving his fourth term as the U.S. House of Representatives for Georgia's 8th Congressional District, and this will be his second term chairing the Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy and Credit.

He graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in risk management, and owned and operated an insurance brokerage firm for nearly 20 years. Scott is also a member of the House Armed Services Committee.


Tifton's J.T. Reddick School, for the second consecutive year, has been recognized by the state with a Gold Award for Greatest Gains.

The awards from the Governor's Office of Student Achievement are based on the scores of the Georgia Milestones Assessment, a cumulative test that a majority of public school students take toward the end of the year.

"J.T. Reddick was recognized by the governor and the state board of education recently as a great place to learn and grow, and that's a great thing. There can be no doubt that Reddick earned its Georgia Gold Award for Greatest Gains," said Principal Jim Torell.

"Six years ago, our little 'sixth grade-only school' became Tift County's bridge from the
elementary schools to the middle and high schools, and the transition was not easy," Torell said.

"Greatest Gains schools earned a three-year average CCRPI (College and Career Ready Performance Index) progress score ranking in at least the 93rd percentile, according to the state Board of Education website. Of the roughly 2,300 public schools in Georgia, only 127 earned the greatest gains distinction. Reddick is indeed in elite company," he said.

Torell said Reddick is one of seven schools in Georgia to receive the award for both 2015 and 2016.

As the General Assembly got underway last week in Atlanta, Georgia House members were sworn in to their new terms. 

State Rep. Penny Houston, R-Nashville, whose district includes part of Tift County, had her daughter Lowery May, left, hold the Bible during the swearing-in ceremony.

Houston was sworn in to her first term in 1997.

A $3,800 grant from the USPOULTRY Foundation has been awarded to Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College to assist in the recruiting of poultry science students.

The grant was made possible by an endowment gift from the Don Dalton Student Recruiting Fund. Dalton had a long career in the field of poultry, at one time serving as president of the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association and the USPOULTRY Harold E. Ford Foundation.

"The poultry industry has grown significantly in South Georgia, thus the career opportunities for well-prepared college graduates are increasing in ABAC's region. This grant will allow us to raise awareness of this field of study among current and potential ABAC students," said  Dr. Martha Moen, assistant professor of animal science.
In 2016, the USPOULTRY Foundation board approved student recruiting grants totaling $291,000 to 32 colleges and universities with a poultry science department or industry-related degree program. The Harold E. Ford Foundation provides annual recruiting funds to colleges and universities to attract students to their poultry programs.

or call  229-848-2366

The 27th Annual Tift County Forestry and Pine Seedling Scholarship Pageant promoting and protecting the forestry industry, is set for  Feb. 25 at the  Tift Theatre for the Performing Arts on  Main Street.

The pageant is open to contestants in all surrounding countiesThere will be a winner and three runners-up named in each age group:
  • Baby Miss -- birth to 23 months
  • Teeny Miss -- 2 to 3 years
  • Tiny Miss -- 4 to 6 years
  • Little Miss  -- 7 to 9 years
  • Junior Miss -- 10 to 12 years
  • Teen Miss -- 13 to 16 years
  • Miss -- 17 to 24 years
The Baby through Junior Miss categories are scored on personality, beauty, gown, poise and overall appearance. The Teen and Miss contestants are scored on gown, public speaking and interview.

No pageant experience is required. The winners will receive the official forestry round crown, custom sash, silver-engraved tray, crowning pin, savings bonds and cash scholarships.

The winners will also receive their entry fees paid to the 78th Annual Miss Georgia Forestry Pageant, which will be held in Tifton during the summer, and the Tift County queens will serve as the host city queens.  

Contestants are also eligible to compete in the U.S. National Forestry Pageant.
The Miss Georgia Forestry Pageant is the oldest running scholarship pageant in Georgia. It was started in 1940 to offer educational opportunities while promoting the forestry industry.

The Tift County forestry winners will represent the industry by lighting the turpentine still at the Georgia Museum of Agriculture, Hometown Holidays, fashion shows and ribbon cuttings.

Reigning queens are Baby Miss, Paisley Lindsey; Teeny Miss, Kambree Barnes; Tiny Miss, Abby McDonald; Little Miss, Allie Goddard; Junior Miss, Kylie Barnes; Teen Miss, Lindsey Westberry; and Miss, Kayla Acord.

To enter, call 229-386-2681 or 229-238-2851 or email

. a Glance

  • Senior Dance, 7 p.m., Leroy Rogers Senior Center, Tifton
  • Back Roads of Georgia photo exhibit & reception, 5-6 p.m., Ga. Museum of Agriculture, Tifton

In Memoriam

JAN. 13
James Wesley "Jimmy Mac" McAllister, 59, Ocilla
David M. Dunn, 66, Omega
Joseph Earl "Wamo" Salensky Jr., 73, Tifton

JAN. 14
Robert C. Littleton, 65, Pelham
Janice Ford Register, 72, Worth County
Margaret Elizabeth Layton, 92, Nashville

JAN. 15
Jimmy Lee Benefield, 63, Tifton
Henry Daniel "Dan" Drawdy, 73, Omega
Gail Wyles, Sylvester
Allen Carter, 61, Adel
Mary Roberts Kersey, 68, Milledgeville

JAN. 16
Vonice Paulette Butler, 71, Tifton

JAN. 17
The Rev. Robert "Bob" Nipper, 70, Sylvester
Paul Higgs, 83, Adel

JAN. 18
George Thompson, 82, Ty Ty
Sonny L. Franks Sr., Sylvester
Doris Lillian Parke, 81, Lake Park

JAN. 19
Carl Lott Smith Jr., 77, Tifton
Shirley Jolyn Baker, 83, Albany


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