Tuesday, July 6, 2021
Tifton, Georgia
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GrapeNew
WALB-TV photo
Authorities conduct search for missing man Monday at an Ashburn pond.
MISSING JET SKIER FOUND DEAD IN ASHBURN POND
Staff Reports
Authorities on Tuesday found the body of a man who had been missing since early Monday when he fell into a large private pond in Ashburn.

Jason Cooper, 33, was found dead in the pond at the end of Weaver Way.

Authorities said they received a 911 call at approximately 5 a.m. Monday about two people jet skiing on the pond and that one of them fell into the water.

The Ga. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) law enforcement division led the search assisted by first responders from multiple counties and Ashburn police. A helicopter from the Georgia State Patrol searched the pond area from above.

The pond is up to 9 feet deep, the DNR said. At one point, there were six divers on the scene.

Although the man's body was found, the investigation continues into the incident, authorities said.
NFL TEAM CUTS ASHBURN NATIVE AFTER FELONY MURDER INDICTMENT
Ashburn native Tamorrion Terry has been cut by the NFL's Seattle Seahawks after being charged with felony murder in the shooting of a woman at an Ashburn nightclub in 2018.

Terry, a former Florida State wide receiver, is among 11 people recently indicted by a Turner County Grand Jury on charges they killed a 21-year-old woman in a gang-related mass shooting in June 2018. The victim, Za’Quavia Smith, was among at least seven people shot at the Studio 2.0 club during the incident.

Initially in 2018, only Jontavious Coley, 17, was arrested and charged with felony murder and aggravated assault; authorities had charged that Coley was one of several people who fired multiple shots into a crowd of fleeing people.

Now, Terry, 23, and Devascea Blanks, Martez Edwards, Tavis Greene, Malik High, Devian Morgan, Quantavious Morgan, Brandon Nixon, Demetrice Smith and Damias Ward, have all been charged with felony murder, a charge applicable when a death, even accidental, occurs in the commission of a felony.

Terry, who played football for Turner County High, played for the Florida State Seminoles from 2018-2020 after redshirting his first year. He played in 31 games for FSU, finishing with 118 receptions for 2,221 yards and 18 touchdowns during his career.

Terry signed with the National Football League's Seattle Seahawks as an undrafted free agent in May, but was waived by the team Wednesday after being charged with the felony murder.

According to ESPN, Terry is the second former FSU receiver indicted on murder charges this year; Travis Rudolph, who led the team in receiving in 2015 and 2016, was charged with first-degree murder in April following a fight at his Lake Park, Fla., home.
ABAC RENAMES SCHOLARSHIP TO HONOR VINCENT KEESEE
The newly renamed Dr. and Mrs. Vincent A. Keesee and Marian Girtman Scholarship at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College will enable art students to carry on Keesee's legacy; he was a retired ABAC art and humanities professor who died in March. 

“Dr. Keesee was a beloved member of the ABAC faculty and shared his love of art with many on campus and in the community,” said Dr. Deidre Martin, ABAC chief development officer. “We are honored to have this endowed scholarship bearing his name and the name of his wife and mother-in-law. It will benefit students on our campus for years to come.”

Keesee spent 30 years as a faculty member and originally created the scholarship in 1982 as the Marian Girtman Art Scholarship, named for the mother of his wife, Marianna. The renamed scholarship will be partially funded from proceeds of a coffee-table art book showcasing a collection of Keesee’s artwork. 

“Hallelujah: A Lifetime of Paintings” is an autobiographical book filled with Keesee’s artwork inspired by faith and life in the South. The book includes descriptions and reflections alongside his figurative and narrative art from 1953-2019.
Among Tifton folks participating in the annual 10K AJC Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta were, front row from left, Cindy and Andy Marzen, David Vann, Ernest Lang, and Rick Register.
ROAD AT ATLANTA'S PEACHTREE RACE FILLED WITH TIFTON RUNNERS
By FRANK SAYLES JR.
Tifton Grapevine
Once again, Tifton was well represented at the 52nd Annual Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race last weekend in Atlanta.

The 10-kilometer (6.2 miles) race has become a Fourth of July tradition which was held over two days – Saturday and Sunday – this year because of COVID-19 precautions.

Tifton's running contingent was led by Ernest Lang and David Vann, who have both run the Peachtree Race now for 43 consecutive years. Lang's daughter Aimee, a Tifton native who lives on the West Coast, also once again ran with her dad.

Other local runners included Rick Register, Gina Purvis, Amy Hightower (that's Purvis and Hightower in the above photo with former Tiftonite Melissa Ewing on the left) – and Shannon and Stephanie Millette Dorman, who both finished their 10th consecutive Peachtree Road Race.
Local running enthusiasts Andy and Cindy Marzen of Tifton also again participated. Andy Marzen said the Richard and Kelly Golden family of Tifton joined the race this year.

“The Golden children all finished in the top 500. Emily was the 42nd female finisher; Blair Golden finished in 40:09 and was the 380th overall finsher; he was the fastest Tifton person," Marzen said.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, this year's Peachtree Road race had about 30,000 participants in the two-day span, about half the number from two years ago. Last year's race was held virtually because of the pandemic.

Pictured at left are Stephanie & Shannon Dorman
JOHN AULTMAN
KLOIE VARNADOE
TWO TIFT COUNTY STUDENTS RECEIVE AG FOUNDATION SCHOLARSHIPS
The Georgia Foundation for Agriculture (GFA) is awarding scholarships to John Aultman and Kloie Varnadoe, who both just graduated from Tift County High School and are pursuing agriculture-related degrees.

They are among seven recent high school graduates statewide receiving a $3,000 scholarship each.

Aultman, son of Jerri Kaye Aultman of Tifton, will attend Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College this fall to pursue a plant pathology degree. He served as the TCHS FFA chapter president and competed in FFA land judging, poultry judging and extemporaneous speaking competitions.

Varnadoe, daughter of Brandi and Lee Varnadoe of Omega, will attend the University of Georgia this fall pursuing a degree in pre-veterinary medicine. As a TCHS junior, she was dual enrolled at Southern Regional Technical College and dual enrolled at ABAC her senior year. Varnadoe was a member of the TCHS Lady Devils soccer team throughout high school and was named the 2019 Junior Varsity Most Valuable Player.

The GFA scholarships recognize outstanding college students pursuing degrees in agriculture or an ag-related degree at a college in the University System of Georgia, Berry College or Emmanuel College, according to the Georgia Farm Bureau.
TIFT COUNTY RECORDS 5 NEW COVID-19 CASES WITHIN TWO-WEEK PERIOD
By FRANK SAYLES JR.
Tifton Grapevine
Tift County has recorded 5 additional confirmed coronavirus cases in the past two weeks, according to the Ga. Department of Public Health (DPH) on Tuesday.

As of Tuesday, the DPH said Tift has had 101 deaths and 3,492 total confirmed cases of COVID-19. Tift County's positive testing rate during the two-week period is 2.4%.

According to data from Emory University, Tift County's daily average of new confirmed cases was 4.1 per 100,000 population. The state's daily average was 3 per 100,000.

On Tuesday, Georgia reported 1,023 new cases with 17 additional deaths and 67 new hospitalizations. The state has had a total of 905,068 confirmed cases and 18,534 related deaths, the DPH said.
UGA TIFTON STUDENT NAMED NATIONAL UNDERGRADUATE SCHOLAR
Samantha Wegener, a UGA Tifton student involved in research to improve cotton fiber quality, is one of six students nationally selected as a 2021 Borlaug Undergraduate Scholar, a competitive program awarded by the National Association of Plant Breeders.

Her work focuses on understanding the expression of genes transferred from sea island cotton into upland cotton through transcriptomics — the set of RNA transcripts produced by the cotton genome. Her ultimate goal is to identify the genes that enhance the length of cotton fibers through the hybridization of the two species.

Wegener received a small grant from the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences' Undergraduate Research Program to fund her research; earlier this year, she presented her results at the Beltwide Cotton Conference, the nation's top cotton research conference.

“Sam is very intelligent, has a strong work ethic and is highly driven to pursue her career goal of becoming a plant breeder. I believe Sam has a bright future and has great potential to make a significant impact in the field of plant breeding and genetics,” said Professor Peng Chee of the University of Georgia Tifton campus.

This summer, Wegener is working with Christopher Saski, associate professor of systems genomics at Clemson University, to use CRISPR technology to study the function of the genes she has identified. In the Saski Lab, she is learning transformation technology, which she hopes will help identify new clues on improving cotton fiber quality.

After earning her bachelor’s degree in agriscience and environmental systems with an emphasis in plant breeding and genetics, Wegener plans to pursue a master’s degree through UGA’s Institute of Plant Breeding, Genetics and Genomics while continuing to work in the Chee lab. Her goal is to make discoveries in plant breeding and contribute to agricultural biotechnology improvements. 
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TIFTON GRAPEVINE'S CAT OF THE WEEK
This cat is on stray hold at the Tift County Animal Shelter. If not claimed, the cat will be available for adoption. To find your next pet, visit the Animal Shelter from 1-6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, or call 229-382-PETS (7387).
Pets of the Week are sponsored by:
Branch's Veterinary Clinic
205 Belmont Ave., Tifton, 229-382-6055
TIFTON LIGHTS UP TOWN
– JULY 6, 1900
On July 6, 1900, S.G. Slack sold the City of Tifton 10 arch street lights which burn gas generated from gasoline, creating a "beautiful mellow light. The 10 will be sufficient to light up the principal business streets of the town," according to news dispatches of the day.
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