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May 31--  A tax preparer in Twiggs County has been indicted on 43 felony charges including identity fraud, computer theft and theft by receiving.  The announcement was made this morning in a press conference at the Twiggs County Sheriff’s Office in Jeffersonville, Georgia.

Jackie Young Elvine of Jeffersonville, was arrested last week to conclude a joint investigation by the Department of Revenue and Twiggs County Sheriff’s Office. Elvine was charged with 18 counts of computer fraud, 18 counts of theft by receiving stolen property, and 7 counts of identity theft. 

Elvine’s arrest concluded an extensive investigation by the Department’s Office of Special Investigations and Macon Regional Office in conjunction with the Twiggs County Sheriff’s Office. The investigation began more than 24 months ago and resulted from a series of complaints involving the filing of fraudulent tax returns and identity theft. 

As of today, the investigation remains ongoing with additional arrests possible, according to Sheriff R. Darren Mitchum. Lead Investigator, Lt. Robert Rodgers of the Twiggs County Sheriff’s Office and representatives of the Department’s Office of Special Investigations were present for today’s announcement. 

May 27--  Gov. Nathan Deal today named state Rep. Matt Hatchett (R-Dublin) to his House floor leader team, replacing Rep. Hank Huckaby (R-Watkinsville) who resigned to became chancellor of the University System of Georgia.

“Matt is a freshman member of the House still learning the ropes, but he’s impressed my office with his winning personality and good attitude,” Deal said. “He’s easy to work with, even as he advocates strongly for his constituents in Middle Georgia. That’s the kind of leader we want on our team. Our other floor leaders, Amy Carter and Doug Collins, are great examples of that. Matt will be a great addition.”

Hatchett was elected in 2010, after serving 10 years on the Dublin City Council. A small businessman, Hatchett owns a Bruster’s Real Ice Cream and Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs franchise in Dublin. Previously, he owned a dry cleaners. Hatchett and his wife Kim also own a women’s clothing store, which Kim runs. Together, they have two daughters, Emily and Camille.

"I'm honored by the appointment as one of the Governor's floor leaders,” Hatchett said. “I'm excited about working closer with Gov. Deal and his administration in moving our state forward."

As floor leader, Hatchett will join a team of three House members who carry the governor’s legislation in the House and who serve as the Governor’s Office liaisons to their fellow members.

May 27-- Environmental officials believe a bacteria called Columnaris is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of fish on the Ogeeche River last week.

However, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division says this bacteria only impacts fish under environmental stress and officials have yet to identify what is stressing the fish.  They also say humans are not known to be affected by Columnaris.

Dianna Wedincamp with the Ogeechee Riverkeepers says they are doing their own tests on the fish and water and have yet to get results back.  Initially she speculated the fish may have been killed by a chemical due to the large burn-like splotches found on their scales and in their mouths.

The dead fish were found in the river about a half-mile below a textile factory in Screven County and as far down the river to Highway 80 near the Chatham-Bryan county line.

Meanwhile, the state warns against swimming or fishing in the Ogeechee River.



May 26--  The Montgomery County school board voted Thursday night to hire a career educator to be the new principal at Montgomery County High School.

Dr. Henry Walding started his career 45 years ago teaching junior high math and science in Hawaii and later spent 12 years in as a school principal in Oklahoma City where he was named the state's administrator of the year in 1995.


Teacher Zellene Robinson welcomes Dr. Walding.

School Superintendent Randy Rodgers says, "The thing about Dr. Walding's application that was so very impressive is the fact he is very strong in instruction and curriculum.  We have a tradition in our school system of achieving and that is our number one priority to make sure our children are prepared for their future."

Dr. Walding has worked in the Liberty County and Pike County school systems and is leaving at job at the private Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama to return to the public schools in Georgia.

"I really miss working with youngsters.  I have enjoyed working with college age students, but my heartbeat is really with the public schools and the instructional process and creating a thriving learning environment for all kids so they can have a successful like as adults," Dr. Walding says.

Dr. Walding succeeds Luke Smith whose contract was not renewed this year.  Smith is consulting an attorney with the Professional Association of Georgia Educators and is considering what legal options he may have to continue employment in the Montgomery County school system.

Meanwhile, his apparent successor says he's heard about the conflicts in the Montgomery County school system and says, "I've heard some rumors about it, but I'm just going to stay focused on doing what's right for children."

May 26--  Each year the Georgia Chamber of Commerce grades state lawmakers on issues which the state business group takes a position.

This year the state chamber gave low "B's" to both State Senator Tommie Williams of Lyons and State Representative Greg Morris of Vidalia.

Both Williams and Morris voted against giving local communities the option of voting to allow Sunday sales of beer, wine and spirits which the Chamber supported.

May 26--  The Georgia Department of Transportation is awarding $55 million in state grants for transportation enhancement projects in the state.

Nine communities in the 12th Congressional District received grants including a nearly $535,000 grant to the City of Swainsboro for completion of a StreetScape project.

May 26--  Georgia's first regional charter school is set to open in August in Vidalia.

The Southeast Early College and Career Academy (SECCA) is a cooperative effort of the Vidalia, Toombs, Montgomery and Treutlen school systems and Southeastern Technical College.

Dr. Ryan Flowers is the director of high school programs and says student response has exceeded expectations.

"It's turned out to be much larger than we first planned for.  Student requests are very high for  Army Junior ROTC and high for auto technology and cosmetology as well. Those are the first three programs we'll be opening up and in the future we can open up other programs which best serve those involved," he said.

Martin Moses of Uvalda has been with the project since its inception six years ago.  He's giving up his post as board chairman and leaves with a great deal of satisfaction.

"It is unbelieveable how this group of people has come together.  Nobody should ever say that this community can't do anything.  The spinoffs from the cooperation among these school systems is amazing," Moses observes.

Dr. Barbara Christmas served as the school's first Chief Executive Officer and is optimistic about what it can do for this part of Georgia.

"This has really been a labor of love for me.  I grew up in this area and I really have a heart for small, rural school systems.  To see the opportunity which is being offered is really exciting.  I also am very interested in seeing the business community form partnerships with the school systems because that is all about economic development and we need that in this part of the state," she says.

The school will be housed in a new $7 million dollar building on the Southeastern Tech campus with some courses also offered on the campuses of the high schools.

Ribbon-cutting for the new building is August 1 with classes starting August 12. 

May 24--  Hundreds of dead fish have been founding floating in the Ogeechee River, according to Ogeechee RiverKeeper Director Diana Wedincamp.

"They start in Screven County and go all the way down to where Highway 80 crosses the Ogeechee.  Late Sunday night EPA came out and said no one should be swimming or eating the fish in the river.  Even though they were out there doing researach Thursday, the citizens didn't find out about anything until late Sunday afternoon," she says.

Because of blotches on the fish, Wedincamp suspects some kind of chemical burn.  

"It looks like a chemical burned them.  Inside their mouths have the same blotches like they have been burned.  Also, it killed catfish who can live in almost any environment.  Where we collected those fish right downstream there were families and children playing on sandbars, so it was very disturbing," Wedincamp said.

Both state officials and the Ogeeche RiverKeepers are having the water tested in labs to detemine what caused the kill and Wedincamp says the public will be notified when results are known.

"We're doing our own testing and there are several citizens groups doing their own testing, too, so there won't be anything slid under the rug on this one," she promises.

May 24--  Gov. Nathan Deal announced today that the Department of Revenue will host a contest open to the general public seeking a design for a new Georgia license plate. The design contest will begin on Monday, May 23, with acceptance of design submissions to conclude on Friday, June 17. 

“We want to embrace the artistic and creative talents of Georgia’s residents by asking for submissions that will provide an exciting new design to appear on millions of new general issue license plates,” state Revenue Commissioner Douglas MacGinnitie said.

The department is scheduled to produce a new Georgia license plate in 2012.

The design contest seeks original artwork for the new license plate and is open to all Georgia citizens or companies authorized to do business in the state. The public will be given the opportunity to select three semifinalists via an online vote from June 24-July 8, 2011. Following the conclusion of online voting, the three semifinalists will then be presented to Deal, who will announce the winning design on July 15. The winning artist will participate in the announcement ceremony, along with MacGinnitie and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle.

Complete rules, guidelines, design template, and an entry-waiver form for the contest may be accessed here:

Contest submissions may be sent to:

 E-mail:                  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 U.S. Mail:             Attn: License Plate Design Contest

                                Georgia Department of Revenue

                                Motor Vehicle Division

                                P.O. Box 740382

                                Atlanta, GA 30374-0382

May 18--  The President Pro Tempore of the Georgia Senate says passenger upgrades from Delta Airlines played no part in his decision to vote the company a tax break on fuel.

Last year Delta gave Senator Tommie Williams of Lyons and six other key lawmakers flight upgrades valued from $1600 to $2400, however, Williams says he doesn't use them.

"I never used it.  It comes in the mail, but I don't use it.  I usually buy the cheapest flight I can find.  My wife usually goes with me and we don't upgrade," he reports.

This year the legislature gave Delta a two-year break on fuel taxes estimated to save the company $30 million.  Williams voted for the bill after trying unsuccesfully to get it changed.

"I don't have problems with the policy of the bill.  However, my approach was to help them when they need it the most.  If fuel goes down to two dollars, they don't need our help.  I didn't win that in the end, but I worked hard to get it in the bill.  I got it in the Senate version, but it didn't pass both sides," he notes. 

Senator Williams says Georgia needs to be a business-friendly state and support companies like Delta which brings thousands of jobs to the state, however, "I think I've got a fairly good reputation among lobbyists that if I feel strongly about an issue, it doesn't matter how much campaign money you've given me, I'm going to be against you on principle," he says.


May 23--  Brewton-Parker College Interim Vice President for College Advancement Jessica James (center)acceptsa $15,000 donation from Mount Vernon Bank Chairman-CEO Don M. Thigpen (left) and President Ronnie W. Green to assist the college in its Annual Fund Campaign.

“It is a great increase in this year’s donation to the Annual Fund,” said James. “We feel so blessed to have our community support us each and every year. The people of Mount Vernon Bank are so very generous to Brewton-Parker College! Don and Alan Thigpen went above and beyond with their donation this year to the Annual Fund and we are so very thankful.”

In addition to giving to the college’s Annual Fund, Mount Vernon Bank sponsors a $1,000 writing scholarship to a deserving Brewton-Parker student each year. The winning student must successfully write a community-topic essay. This year’s winner was junior Marla Hollis, who is also the reigning Miss BPC. Hollis’ winning essay was written in response to the topic, “The Economic Interdependency of Brewton-Parker College to the Local Community.”


Melissa Moore (right) of Mount Vernon Bank presents the Mount Vernon Bank Writing Fellowship Award to Marla Hollis (center) as Dr. T. Ronald Melton (left), BPC Provost, looks on. (Photo by Raymond Minks)

 The BPC Annual Fund supports the operational costs of the four-year Christian college, including facilities, salaries and technology upgrades. James explains of every dollar needed to educate a BPC student, 56 cents comes from tuition and the other 44 cents must come through fundraising efforts like the Annual Fund.

 James may be reached at 912-583-3256 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 The Annual Fund campaign ends June 30.


May 23--  Georgia Congressman John Barrow opposes increasing the federal government's debt ceiling without accompanying cuts in spending.

"I oppose the idea of a straight debt ceiling increase because we need to put conditions on there that will solve the problems which caused us to raise the debt ceiling in the first place.  We need comprehensive reform of all aspects of our federal budget.  We need to get everything under control," he says.

Congressman Barrow also believes some proposals radically changing the Medicare program go too far. "What's happening in Medicare is just a microcosm of what's happening in the health care industry generally.  There's over- utilization with people doing things they don't need to do to because they're not getting compensation for the things they need to do so they try to make it up in volume.  I certainly think Medicare is an area where we need to find a way for getting the healthcare problem in general under control.  What I don't support is saving Medicare from itself by destroying it or turning it into something that is completely different," he says.

The 12th District Democrat was in Vidalia addressing the Vidalia Rotary Club.

May 20--  She set her goal to be the Toombs County High School valedictorian when she was a freshman and Laura Johnson achieved it her senior year.

"At the end of the first semester when I got my first transcript and I realized I was ranked number one, that's when it became my goal and I said if I can do this, then I'm going to do it," she said.

Her next long term goal is to become a speech therapist.  "I plan to go to Brewton Parker for four years and then I plan to go to Valdosta State and become a speech therapist," Laura says.


Second in the Class of 2011 at Toombs County High is saluatorian Josh Allen.  "You have to work to balance it out.  Sports and church and everthing else.  You just have to work hard to do everything you need to do," he says.

Josh, who punted and played on both sidies of the line for the Bulldogs, wants a career related to sports.  "I'm going to Georgia Southern and major in Exercise Science or something like that.  I love sports and that's something I want to do," he says.

Graduation for Toombs County High School is Saturday morning at nine o'clock at Booster Stadium.

May 20--  A future Army officer and a future pediatrician are the top students in the Class of 2011 at Montgomery County High School.

{mosimage}Alex Wilkes is the class valedictorian.  "It's something I've been working on for a long time.  I've trying really hard and studying really hard, it's quite an experience," he says.

Alex won't have much downtime after graduation.  He starts college in about a month. 

"I'll begin school June 20th at North Georgia College and State University.  I've been accepted to the Corps of Cadets up there where I plan to pursue a degree in International Affairs.  When I graduate, I'll be commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army," he reports.

As he leaves MCHS, Alex says, "Montgomery County High School has been the absolute best.  It's my home away from home.  We are really close knit here and are like family.  We really support each other and have been together through everything," he observes.

{mosimage}The class salutatorian, Shimeka Davis, says turmoil in the school system the last few years has brough the class closer together.

"Even though this stuff is going on with the board and everything, we still have good teachers.  Everyone is like a family.  It has really hasn't affected us that much.  Academics are still good and it's really brought everyone together," she thinks.

Shimeka is planning on a career in medicine. "My plans are to attend Mercer University in Macon and major in Biology and become a pediatrician," she says.

Graduation at Montgomery County High School is Friday night at eight o'clock on Brogdon Field.

May 20--  Two young women planning careers in dentistry and medicine are the top students this year at Robert Toombs Christian Academy.

Tayler Brinson is the school's valedictorian.  "It's something I've been working towards ever since I started in the sixth grade at Robert Toombs.  It's quite an accomplishment to reach that goal,' she said.


Tayler (left) is going to the University of Georgia and plans to become a dentist.

Meanwhile, the class salutatorian is Annika Sinha.  "I plan to go to Mercer University.  I got a full tuition scholarship there and have a guarnteed acceptance to medical school so I'm pretty sure I'll get in there," she says. 

She also has advice for underclassmen.  "Study hard and work hard, but have fun with it.  Don't be stressed out because these four years will fly by.  Have fun with it and everything will work out," Annika advises.

Robert Toombs Christan Academy is holding a combination baccalaureate and graduation ceremony Saturday at five p.m. at Southeastern Tech in Vidalia.

May 20--  The academic leaders at Treutlen High School this year are valedictorian Lauren Avery and salutatorian Spencer Salter.


Lauren says the payoff for her hard work is worth it.  "It's good to see all my hard work paying off and I'm very proud of myself," Lauren says.  She'll be attending Georgia Southern this Fall.

Spencer Salter is starting his college career at East Georgia College.  "It's come with some hard work and preparing for my classes and make good grades," he says.

Treutlen High School graduation is eight o'clock Sunday night at Bobby Driggers Stadium in Soperton.

May 20--  After years of promises, the Georgia Department of Transportation is on the verge of contracting for four-laning U.S. Highway One from Lyons to Interstate 16.

Toombs Commission Chairman Buddy West says the regional office in Jesup has told him it expects to award contracts for the project in August with construction slated to start before the end of the year.

The DOT has been acquiring right-of-way for the widening for the past couple of years.  

May 17--  A father and son from Toombs County have been sentenced to federal prison for drug dealing. 

Judge Avant Edenfield sentenced the father, Raymond Florez of the Lyons-Center Road to 20 years in prison, 10 years supervised release and a fine of $17,500.  His son, Gabriel, got 12 years, three months on drug and money laundering charges.

According to court records, drug money was laundered through the Silverado Club north of Lyons and the EZ Pay Auto lot in Vidalia.

The property confiscated in the case was deferred to the Middle Judicial Circuit District Attorney's office.  It netted $284,997.30 with $214,159.43 going to the DA's office and $70,837.87 to the the Lambros Law Firm in Atlanta which was employed by the DA to handle the property confiscation. 

{mosimage}  May 16--  A drug investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and assisted by local lawmen yielded a large amount of cocaine and other drugs.

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight says officers searched five residences in Vidalia and found drugs with an estimated street value of $200,000.  Officers also confiscated two vehicles, cash and bank accounts.

He says two kilos of cocaine, hydro-marijuana and 200 Ecstasy pills were found using search warrants at 717 East 7th Street, 404 Smith Street, 205 Macon Avenue, 507 Virginia Way and 1211 Cadillac Drive.

The sheriff says arrests are pending completion of the investigation.

May 16--  The Georgia Supreme Court decision abolishing the state's Charter School Commission is a step backward according to the President Pro Tempore of the Georgia Senate, Senator Tommie Williams of Lyons.

The court's decision prohibits the state from funding charter schools created without the approval of local and state school boards.

"Charter schools are 20 percent cheaper to operate and have 20 percent better results overall.  Why we would want to go backward to the status quo is beyond me.  What we need are fairly drastic reforms and the status quo is 'send us more money and we'll do a better job," the senator says.

Senator Williams says the decision will close from 15 to 20 charter schools and "is a step backwards."

He believes the legislature may be willing to put a constitutional amendment to a vote by the people to overcome the court ruling and says some Democrats will be willing to join Republicans to make it happen.

"We do have Democrats who now realize that the public schools in certain districts have failed them.  They're looking for vouchers or some other hope to help educate their kids.  Some of these charter schools are actually in economically-disadvantaged districts and I think we can get the votes to pass a constitutional amendment," Senator Williams says.

May 15--  The Toombs County school board is suspending two teachers without pay for violating the school system's code of ethics.

At its May meeting, School Superintendent Dr. Kendall Brantley says teachers Rustin Wright and Trina Graham will be suspended 20 days without pay next school term.  He didn't identify Wright's infraction, however, Graham testified in a public hearing last year she had an affair with school principal Tim Young.  Young was fired and has filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission in a case that is still pending.

"The board is a hundred percent for educators who are doing their job and want to promote the Toombs County school system toward excellence.  It's not going to support teachers who do not support the code of ethics.  We want to send a strong message out there to employees who do not want to follow the procedures we have put in place to make the Toombs County school system better and the board is taking a strong stand," he said.

In other actions, the school board hired Keary Brownlee of Tift County High School to be the new Toombs County High School head basketball coach.  He will also teach in the alternative school and be an assistant football coach.

The board approved a five percent pay raise for non-certified employees.  The raises apply to 189 personnel and will cost about $200,000, according to Dr. Brantley.

Also, Dr. Brantley is retiring as fulltime superintendent, but will remain on the job in a half-pay capacity in the coming year.


Yumion Welcomes Hang-Glider representative Jamie Sheldon.

May 13--  Variety is the spice of life at the Vidalia Regional Airport.  In early April it hosted U.S. Marine jets practicing arrestor landings, the end of April saw the Onion Festival Air Show and a country music concert, and Thursday it was a layover destination for more than 50 hang-glide pilots involved in a cross-country  race.

Friday morning the pilots were getting ready for another leg of the race, but before leaving they donated $1,000 each to young cancer victim Jozalyn Eason of Vidalia and Brandy Williams of Toombs County who lost her leg in an auto accident.

The group sponsors "The Cloud Base Foundation" and organizer Rick Er, a former marketing consultant from near New Orleans, says it's something they do around the world, "It's a way we can give back and do something for children and give back to a community which has welcomed us with open arms," he said.


The pilots say launch and landings are the most dangerous times.

The hang-gliders started this journey near Orlando and initially were planning their final destination in Tennessee until weather patterns changed their itinerary and forced them further east.


Light planes specifically designed to launch the gliders get a pilot airborne.


"Cross-country is the extreme of the sport.  We are going from point to point with no motor.  It's the difference between being in a school bus that you can't roll the windows down and being on a motorcycle that you take off across country.

"It is extremely surreal.  You get this feeling of floaty escape and you get to see things that no one else gets to see.  You just surf the skies and the whole thing is extremely natural.  You're flying like a bird and we are totally unencumbered.  It's freedom," he says.

May 13--  The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools is planning an on-site visit to investigate allegations regarding the Montgomery County school board.

School Superintendent Randy Rodgers says a four-member team will be in the school district June 6-8 to provide all parties the opportunity to provide information and evidence.

SACS Associate Director Jay Wansley reports the agency will use the information it gathers to make an informed decision regarding accreditation of the Montgomery County school system.

Rodgers says the system will cooperate fully with the team and "embraces the process as an opportunity to enhance our organization."

SACS says it has received numerous complaints regarding the school board's governance and leadership standards.

It has cited five allegations including a claim by former Superintendent Dr. Charles Warnock that some school board members seem too personally and politically motivated and that school board member Deloris James campaigned publicly against a referendum to build a new school.

May 13--  Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal today signed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011, which passed both houses of the Georgia Legislature by overwhelming margins.


Governor Nathan Deal with immigration law author, Representative Matt Ramsey.

“Georgia is a welcoming state with vibrant immigrant communities and a highly diverse population,” Deal said. “These are strengths that enrich the culture of Georgia and expand our economy. There’s no better way to promote the quality of life of all who live here and no better way to protect taxpayers than upholding the rule of law.

“This immigration reform measure fulfills my promise to Georgians to crack down on the influx of illegal immigrants into our state. Georgia has the sixth-highest number of illegal residents, and this comes at enormous expense to Georgia taxpayers. Those who claim that this law will have a negative financial impact on Georgia completely ignore the billions of dollars Georgians have spent on our schools, our hospitals, our courtrooms and our jails because of people who are in our state illegally.

“In Georgia, we learned from the state laws elsewhere that raised objections from the federal government. We do not wish to go to war with the federal government. We wish to partner with the federal government to enforce the current law of the nation. Let’s remember: It’s already illegal on every inch of U.S. soil to hire someone who is in this country illegally. What we’ve done in Georgia is create a level playing field for all employers. The use of E-Verify means everyone plays by the same rules – and it protects employers by giving them a federal stamp of approval on their workforce. This also protects workers because those who live in the shadows of our society lack legal protections and they’re vulnerable to fraud and abuse. This legislation was expertly crafted by state Rep. Matt Ramsey to assure that our state protects the constitutional rights of all who live here. Rep. Ramsey knows, as I do, that there’s no better way to promote the rights of individuals than by protecting the rule of law.

“Illegal immigration is a complex and troublesome issue, and no state alone can fix it. We will continue to have a broken system until we have a federal solution. In the meantime, states must act to defend their taxpayers.”

May 13--  Today, Gov. Nathan Deal signed House Bill 47, which will broaden Georgian’s choices for health insurance by authorizing the purchase of healthcare policies across state lines. Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock) was the Senate sponsor of HB 47, which will be effective on July 1, 2011.


“This common-sense legislation will increase healthcare options for Georgians while driving down costs and enhancing the availability of custom and high-quality plans,” said Rogers. “I am grateful to the Governor for signing the bill. With this law, Georgia has become a national leader on free-market healthcare policy.”

HB 47 seeks to increase the availability of health insurance coverage by allowing insurers who are authorized to sell insurance in other states to issue individual accident and sickness policies in Georgia.  The Insurance Commissioner will have the authority to determine whether an insurer satisfies the standards required by this legislation and may not approve a plan that fails to comply.

May 13-- The state of Georgia’s net revenue in April rose $35 million or 2.6 percent as compared to net revenues in April 2010, Gov. Nathan Deal reported today. This marks the 10th consecutive month in FY 2011 that there was an increase in net monthly collections.

“Our consistently strong revenue growth combined with a fiscally conservative budget for 2012 should put state finances on a strong footing in the coming year,” Deal said. “We’re encouraged by the positive trends, but we’ll keep working hard until our job growth is just as strong as our revenue growth.”

 The following changes within the various tax categories led to the overall revenue increase:

Individual Income Tax: Individual Income Tax collections for April 2011 reported an increase of $54 million or 8.2 percent, up from $657 million in April 2010 to $711 million in April 2011.

  The following notable components within Individual Income Tax make up the overall increase:

·         Individual Tax Return payments are up $90 million or 43.8 percent.

·         Individual Estimated payments are up $48 million or 23.1 percent

·         Individual refunds issued (net of voided checks) are up $120 million or 27.3 percent

·         All other Individual Income Tax categories are up $36 million

Sales and Use Tax:  Sales and Use Tax reported an increase in net collections of $10 million or 2.2 percent, up from $450 million in April 2010 to $460 million in April 2011. Gross collections reported an increase of $16 million or 1.9 percent, up from $833 million in April 2010 to $849 million in April 2011. Net Refunds increased by $4 million when compared to the same month last year. The Local Sales Tax Distribution for April 2011 increased by $2 million when compared to the sales tax distribution total of $379 million in April 2010.

May 12--  Seventh grade students at J.R. Middle School in Vidalia spent part of their day Wednesday learning how to be compassionate capitalists.

As part of a social studies marketing class led by Marie Sasser and Julie Caraballo, students formed companies selling goods and services to fellow students.


"Each student came up with a product they could market and sell.  They created a store front to attract people to come to their booths.  Really these were their ideas and they brought all of the supplies in themselves," Caraballo said.

Even more important, the students decided they would contribute all the proceeds from their sales to classmate Jozalyn Eason.

"She's a seventh grade student who found out she has bone cancer a couple of months ago and all of the proceeds will go to her and her family," Caraballo reports.

Her classmate, Darinate Massey, says they are praying for Jozalyn's recovery.  "I've been around her a while.  She's a basketball player and a good student and we're just keeping her in our prayers that she'll get better," he says.

Her brother, Jeremy, says the family appreciates the support. "I feel real great about this because all the money and support will help our family give her support so she can heal," he says.

Thursday school officials reported the students raised nearly $4,000 to help Jozalyn.


May 12--  A Lyons woman is being charged with Identity Fraud and Forgery according to Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight.

The sheriff says 38-year-old Earlene Daphne Jackson of 517 Southside Drive in Lyons is accused of using another person's birthdate and Social Security number to purchase a home with a mortgage from the People's Bank.

She's been released from the Toombs County Detention Center on a $5,000 bond.

May 12--  Gov. Nathan Deal today announced the grand opening of Georgia Biomass, a wood pellet production plant in Waycross in Ware County. The project was announced in January 2010 and is the result of a collaboration between RWE Innogy of Germany and BMC of Sweden that created 85 jobs, representing a $175 million investment. The facility is expected to produce 750,000 metric tons of wood coal annually that will be exported to power plants in Europe. RWE served as the investor in this project, and BMC managed the development of the new facility. Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle helped cut the ribbon for the Georgia Biomass facility, the world’s largest wood pellet production plant.

“The commitment Georgia Biomass is making to Georgia speaks volumes about our state’s competitive resources for companies in the biomass energy sector,” Deal said. “It gives us a great sense of pride to know that the forestry products grown right here in Georgia will soon power communities throughout Europe. I look forward to the company’s success here in Georgia and around the world.”

RWE is a leading energy production utility in Europe, and will use the wood pellets produced at the Georgia Biomass plant to meet the growing European demand for renewable energy. The wood pellets will primarily be shipped for use in the hard coal-fired power plants of RWE in Amer in the Netherlands, which currently uses about 30 percent of biomass products in energy generation. RWE is also planning to convert its existing coal-fired plant in Tilbury, United Kingdom, to a biomass-fired power plant. Upon approval, Tilbury would become the largest biomass-fired power plant in the world, with 50 percent of this plant’s biomass product coming from Georgia. 

“The surplus of sustainably cultivated biomass makes Georgia an excellent location for us to produce wood pellets,” emphasized Sam Kang, executive board member of Georgia Biomass. “Here we found perfect conditions for investment: highly capable key contractors and suppliers, a suitable logistics location for railing and shipping the pellets to Europe and strong support from the local, county and state government. Furthermore, we benefit from the skilled workforce of the region.”

RWE and Georgia Biomass executives, along with local dignitaries, joined Lt. Gov. Cagle to celebrate the official opening of the wood pellet plant. Construction on the facility began in March 2010 and was completed within 12 months. Georgia Biomass has been running on a trial operation basis since construction finished.

“By locating in Georgia, the Georgia Biomass wood pellet plant creates vast opportunities for our state to excel in the production of biomass and positions us for enhanced leadership in alternative energy,” Cagle said. “I am proud that Georgia’s sustainable forestry practices, along with our other key assets, helped secure such a worthwhile operation for our state. I applaud RWE for the number of meaningful jobs created at Georgia Biomass, and I am confident that the indirect jobs to come will positively impact this region and our state.” 

Waycross was selected as the site of the new RWE facility due in part to the area’s abundance of forests necessary to sustain wood pellet production. RWE also chose Georgia for this investment as a result of the state’s advanced logistics infrastructure, with the Port of Savannah playing a key role in the company’s decision to locate in South Georgia.

“The Georgia Biomass project has shown our three greatest assets in Ware County — rail, pine trees and plenty of water,” said Bob Hereford, interim director of the Okefenokee Area Development Authority. “In Waycross and Ware County, we are in the ‘catbird seat,’ which is a most enviable position and is an asset to companies hoping to leverage the resources we have to offer.”

The 85 jobs created were filled from the local workforce in Ware County. As a Georgia Certified Work Ready Community, the local talent pool is among the community’s most competitive assets for attracting new industries to the county. 

Tom Croteau, director of Food, Energy, Logistics and Agribusiness Projects for the Georgia Department of Economic Development, managed this project on behalf of the state.

About Georgia Biomass

Georgia Biomass, LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of RWE Innogy that was formed in 2010 as RWE’s commitment to biomass as a large part of the sustainable energy future. Located in Waycross, with headquarters in Savannah, Georgia Biomass is operating the world’s largest wood pellet plant. The company’s focus and mission is to create a more renewable energy future by delivering the highest-quality pellets under the most sustainable criteria.

About RWE Innogy

RWE Innogy pools the renewable energy expertise and power plants of the RWE Group. The company plans, builds and operates facilities generating power from renewable energies. RWE Innogy aims to vigorously grow renewable energies in Europe.

About RWE

RWE is one of Europe’s five leading electricity and gas companies. It is active in the generation, trading, transmission and supply of electricity and gas. More than 70,000 employees supply more than 16 million customers with electricity and approximately 8 million customers with gas.

May 11--  Seven people with over 160 years combined experience in the Vidalia City School System are retiring at the end of this school term.  The Vidalia school board thanked them at its May meeting.


(L-R) Barbara Daniell, Billy Goodwin standing in for his mother, Teresa Morris, Dr. Brenda Helms, Judy Sharpton, Anne Sweat, Randall Anderson and Maureen Crosby. 

Indian Star Thanked

The Vidalia Board of Education is starting a practice of formally thanking a person in the community who supports the school system.


The first "Indian Star" award was presented Tuesday night by School Superintendent Dr. Tim Smith to Mrs. Lillian Brown.  She has taken it on herself to help children at school bus stop #17 to safely get on and off the bus as they travel to and from J.D. Dickerson Primary School and Sally Meadows Elementary School each morning and afternoon.



May 11--  Two area school systems are planning to cut staffing levels next school term.

The Vidalia Board of Education met Tuesday night and approved a tentative budget of $26.6 million including $4.1 million in local funding.  School Superintendent Dr. Tim Smith reports the initial version of the budget includes a reduction of two teaching positions at Sally Meadows Elementary School and one teaching positon and one support position at Vidalia High School.  He says the reductions will be accomplished by not replacing retiring personnel and could be reversed if justified by increases in enrollment.

The Montgomery County school board also met Tuesday night and approved cuts of nine jobs proposed by School Superintendent Randy Rodgers.

"I'm of the opinion is what we are doing is putting ourselves in a position to serve our kids.  We can't be wasteful in what we do and we have to work smarter with what we are getting.  I believe we're putting our resources in the places that will best impact our achievement and the experience our children have," he said.

Rodgers says the cuts will reduce overstaffing at the county middle and elementary schools.

He reports middle school cuts of three teachers and two support personnel will increase class sizes slightly, but still well below state ceilings.  Rodgers says classes will increase from 14 to 15 in a class to about 19 or 20.

At the county elementary school, two teaching jobs and two support jobs are being eliminated.  Rodgers reports class sizes at the elementary school are larger than middle school classes without any negative impact on performance and points to just released CRCT test results.

"I don't think we'll be any less effective.  Something must be working because in our fifth grade 99 percent met the standard in math and in language arts it was 98 percent," he reports.

May 10--  The newly appointed school board member from Vidalia's third ward took the oath of office Tuesday night at the May meeting of the Vidalia Board of Education.


Vidalia City Court Judge Macky Bryant (L) swears in Doug Roper.

Doug Roper, III is succeeding longtime member Virginia Sharpe who is turning 84 this year and has served on the board since 1995.

{mosimage}"I want to tell everybody that our job is never complete, never.  We are supposed to make sure these children do the right thing, graduate and go out into the community and do the right thing.  We have a lot of wrongdoings in the community and these children have to be taught at home as well as in the school system," she believes.

School Superintendent Dr. Tim Smith says Ms. Sharpe has always kept the board focused.

"I have always referred to Mrs. Sharpe as the conscious of the board.  Regardless of what the topic was, we always knew that she, above anyone else, could also bring us back to the children, and she did.  We are really going to miss her," Dr. Smith said.

Roper graduated from Vidalia High School the year Mrs. Sharpe came on the school board and says he's looking forward to continuing her work.  "I've thought about it and I've talked about it with friends and family.  I care about kids and believe in education.  I'm just tryng to do my part to help insure we educate our kids to the best of our ability and look out and provide for our teachers as well," he said.

The new board member will fill Mrs. Sharpe's unexpired term which end in December.  He plans to seek election to the office in this Fall's election and Mrs. Sharpe hopes he will win.

"In talking to him and him telling me things that he thought, made me think that this man will be good.  I am hoping that he can be voted back in," she said.


May 10--  Toombs County Schools' "Drivers Dedicated to Making a Difference" held their second annual charity auction and donated proceeds to Toombs-Treutlen Relay for Life in memory of  Mrs. Barbara Humphrey who was a school bus driver for many years. 
Her co-workers and family presented the check to Chester Proctor, Chairman of the 2011 Toombs-Treutlen Relay for Life.
Left to Right: Fennie Taylor, Pat Schofill, Transportation Dir., Mona Jones, Johnny Barfield, Bob Kyle, Karen Lillard, Marynell Stewart, Sherri Dixon, Wanda Sharpe, Lucy Coleman, Elaine Wright, Denise Collins, Chester Proctor, Charles Humphrey, Brittany Wilds, Debbie Lightsey, Charles James, Angie Wilds and Tyler Wilds.

May 10--  At the close of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners’ regular meeting Monday, Chairman Brandon Braddy announced he is stepping down as Chairman effective May 31st

The Board of Commissioners elects officers every January to serve a 12-month term.  Because Montgomery County does not elect a countywide Chairman, the Commissioners have to nominate and elect a Chairman each calendar year.  Commissioner Franklin Brantley was elected to finish out Chairman Braddy’s term until the Commissioners hold its regular election of officers on January 9, 2012. 

Chairman Braddy made the following statement regarding his decision: “It has been a privilege to serve as the Chairman.  I would like to thank my fellow commissioners for having the confidence in me to serve in this role for over two years.  I have recently accepted a position with the Mount Vernon Bank.  This new position is going to require more of my time that will limit my accessibility for the County Manager and the Clerk of the Commissioners.  In order for the Chairman to be effective in this role, the County Manager and the Clerk of the Commissioners need to have complete access to the Chairman at all times by telephone or in person.  In addition, there is important county business and meetings with state agencies that the Chairman will need to be available to attend along with the County Manager outside of regular commission meetings.  I want to insure that our County Chairman is available to represent Montgomery County at all meetings that will benefit our County.  I congratulate and extend my thanks to Commissioner Franklin Brantley for completing my term as Chairman and for accepting the responsibilities this office requires.  My decision to step down as Chairman will not affect my duties and responsibilities to serve and represent the constituents of District 3.  I will always be available for all regular and special-called meetings of the Commission.  Again, I would like to thank my fellow commissioners for allowing me to serve as Chairman and I look forward to Commissioner Franklin Brantley representing Montgomery County as the new Chairman.”

Commissioner Franklin Brantley will begin serving as Chairman on June 1st.

May 9--  A Toombs County woman is hospitalized in Savannah with serious injuries after a weekend auto accident.

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports 20-year-old Brandy Williams of the Marvin Community was injured early Saturday morning when her car hit a tree near the intersection of the Marvin Church Road and Clifford Rogers Road.

He says she was thrown from the vehicle and has lost one leg and suffered injuries to the other.

May 9--  It started on the National Day of Prayer May 5th and will continue until the reading of the Bible is completed.


Individuals from 41 area churches and organizations are taking turns reading the Bible in a tent in front of the Toombs County Courthouse in Lyons, according to Vicki Tillery who organized the event in cooperation with the Toombs Area Ministerial Association.

"There is just a need to return to what made this nation great and that is standing on the principles of the word of God," she says.

Tillery says Bible reading marathons originated with an international organization on the Mount of Olivies in 1990.  This is the first time it has been done in Toombs County.

"We are just quietly reading the word of God.  It will take us 90 hours to read it.  We started with Genesis 1 on May 5th and are a little past the halfway mark in Jeremiah today.  We will finish with Revelation 22.  It's been awesome.  I wish everyone could have been here as long as I have and see organization after organization come and read the word of God.  It's just been a blessing to everybody," she says.

The readings are scheduled to end late Wednesday afternoon.

May 8--  A report from the Georgia Hospital Association highlights the impact Meadows Regional Medical Center in Vidalia has on the area's economy.

"Of course our budget every year amounts to over a quarter of a billion dollars and we provide over 700 jobs," says Meadows CEO Alan Kent.

The medical association report claims Meadows pumped over $136 million into the economy in 2009.  Kent says it's even more now due to the opening of the new medical center on Highway 280 in Vidalia.

"We've already seen significant growth.  Our volumes are up on in-patient and out-patient care and we've been very fortunate to be able to recruit new physicians to bring specialty care.  As we bring more business here, we're going to see the economic impact continue to grow and benefit not only Vidalia, but the entire region, " Kent reports.

While many hospitals in surrounding communities are facing deficits, Kent says Meadows is out performing larger hospitals.

"Our hospital generates more revenue than hospitals two or three times our size.  For example, we generate more revenue than a hospital with three times our bed count in Milledgeville and twice our bed count in Douglas," he notes.

According to Kent, Meadows would be doing even better if it weren't for the high volume of write-offs it has to do each year.

"We do millions of dollars in uncompensated care.  That includes not only the indigent care, but also the care we provide which is significantly below our cost for Medicare and Medicaid.  There's also our very high level of bad debt of people who just don't pay the remainder of their care after their insurance," Kent says. 

May 5--  The District Attorney in the Middle Judicial Circuit denies any wrongdoing in his prosecution of the video game gambling case last year in Toombs and Emanuel counties.

Hayward Altman has responded to a suit filed by former Toombs County Commission Chairman James Thompson.  Thompson claims state law requires funds generated by the raids in Toombs County be placed in the county's general fund.

Nearly three-quarters of a million dollars is in question with third-party attorneys and court receivers receiving about 40 percent of the take.

Among other defenses, the DA claims qualified immunity because he was acting within the scope of his authority.

The case is working in Toombs County Superior Court where Thompson has asked that both Judges Bobby Reeves and Kathy Palmer be recused from the case.

May 5--  More than a hundred children met Clifford, the Big Red Dog, at Thursday morning's reading program at the Ohoopee Regional Library in Vidalia.


Members of the Sweet Onion Animal Protection Society were on hand to meet Clifford.  Up front, Tabitha Kitchens with Janie, the Chocolate Lab, and standing (L-R) Marcia Cherry, Clifford, Terri James and Ruth Jenkins.

May 5--  In 1995, Virginia Sharpe began her tenure representing Ward 3 on the Vidalia School Board.  Also that year, Doug Roper III was a senior at Vidalia High School and helped lead the Indians to the state baseball championship.

Last Thursday, Mrs. Sharpe informed the school board she is resigning and recommended Roper take her place.  Board members agreed and appointed Roper to fill her remaining term which expires in December.  He plans to run for the job in the November election.

In another action, the board acknowledged a state requirement to increase the cost of school lunches a nickel starting next school term.  The increase will not apply to breakfast meals nor to students who receive reduced price meals.

The following memo was provided the board by School Nutrition Director Linda Collins.

"We have received notification from the Georgia Department of Education that we will be required to increase student lunch prices this year, and possibly every year until our prices meet a certain rate. According to a memo from USDA, our student full paid lunch prices must eventually be increased to $2.46 a plate. The Accounting Program Manager with the Georgia Department of Education has recommended that we increase these lunches by 5 cents for the 2011-2012. This will only affect full paid lunch prices, not reduced price meals or breakfast.

"I am also recommending that we increase our adult meal prices by a quarter each at breakfast and lunch, because our current prices no longer cover the cost of the food/supplies/labor. Adults will no longer be able to charge their meals beginning in August 2011."

Below is a comparison of the current and new meal prices:

Current Lunch Prices                   Lunch Prices beginning August 2011
Pre-K through Grades 5: $1.25      Pre-K through Grades 5: $ 1.30
Grades 6 – 12:               $1.75             Grades 6 – 12:       $  1.80
Reduced Price:                   .40*          Reduced Price:           $  .40*

Adults Breakfast $1.50                  Adult Breakfast               $1.75
Adult Lunch $2.75                        Adult Lunch                     $3.00

*A federal cap restricts us from increasing the price of reduced meals at either breakfast or lunch.

May 4--  Vidalia police say warrants will be issued for the arrest of those responsible for components of a methamphetamine lab found Tuesday morning in the Doe Run Apartments on Jerriel Street.  Lieutenant Jimmy Sims says the occupants were being evicted when officers found the meth makings packed in a travel bag in the apartment.


Take some household products, appliances and a few other ingredients and you have all you need to make a batch of methamphetamine.  It's highly volatile.  Police say an explosion could have been deadly in the apartment complex.

Some Golf Carts Recovered

Lieutenant Sims also reports three of five golf carts stolen over a period of weeks from Rocky Creek Golf Club in Vidalia have been recovered.  He says leads generated by CrimeStoppers led to their recovery and he expects an arrest will be made soon.

May 4--  Joint meetings of the House and Senate Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Committees will take place throughout the state with a series of public hearings beginning May 16, 2011.  All hearings are from five till seven p.m.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Seney-Stovall Chapel

201 North Milledge Avenue

Athens, GA 30602

(706) 542-2736, (706) 542-5041

Free parking available


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Augusta State University

Jaguar Student Activities Center Ballroom

2500 Walton Way

Augusta, Georgia 30904

Public Information Office: 706-737-1444

Directions: – at the top of page: Index, type in D (for directions)

Free Parking


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Armstrong Atlantic State University

Armstrong Center

13040 Abercorn Street

Savannah, Georgia  31419-1955

(912) 344-2555

Free Parking available


Other Dates and Cities: (specific locations to be determined)

Monday, May 23 – Albany

Tuesday, May 24 – Valdosta

Monday, June 6 – Columbus

Tuesday, June 7 – Cartersville

Monday, June 13 – Macon

Tuesday, June 14 – Stockbridge

Monday, June 20 – Dalton

Tuesday, June 21 – Gainesville

Thursday, June 30 – Atlanta









May 4--  You can help the City of Vidalia get a grant from Pepsi with a simple vote via text or on-line.  Carol Kennedy from the city furnished the following appeal for your vote.

"The City of Vidalia is a finalist in the nationwide Pepsi Refresh contest for a $50,000 grant. The grant will be used to rehabilitate the pond near the new recreation facility.  In addition, a dock and classroom pavilion will be built. 

Vidalia is hoping to receive the support of the community by getting votes.  You can text your vote to 73774 and enter 106247 in the body of the message.  Also vote on the web at    Only the top 10 votes receive the grant so we are asking everyone for their support."


May 3--  The process to build a one-stop cancer treatment center in Vidalia started six years ago and came to fruition Tuesday afternoon under a grove of trees adjacent to the new Meadows Regional Medical Center on Highway 280 East in Vidalia.


Manning the shovels (L-R) are Meadows Healthcare Alliance Board Chairman Mike Calhoun, Dr. Lloyd Darby, Oncologist Dr. Greg Franz, Meadows Board of Trustees Chairman Ronnie Stewart, Senator Tommie Williams, OnCure Board Chairman Dr. Shyam Paryani, Meadows CEO Alan Kent, OnCure CEO Duane Choate and Meadows VP for Development Howard Holman.

 Groundbreaking for the Meadows Regional Cancer Center signals a new era for cancer patients, according to Meadows CEO Alan Kent.

"We think the most exciting part of this is that it continues our mission of providing extraordinarily high quality medicine right here in our community so people don't have to travel," Kent said.

{mosimage} (L-R) Dr. Greg Franz, Dr. Lloyd Darby with his suggested cancer treatment logo and his granddaughter Darby Thompson.

Work is expected to start on the new center within two months.  A local cancer patient, Dr. Lloyd Darby, says he wishes it had come sooner.  "What I like is that it's going to be here.  For my radiation, I had to make 47 trips to Statesboro, each for less than five minutes a treatment.  That adds up to about 5,000 miles and 47 afternoons gone.  The afternoons were worst than the miles," he said.

Meadows is partnering with OnCure Medical Corporation to build the new cancer center.  Its board chairman is also a professor at the Mayo Clinic, and Dr. Shyam Paryani says the new facility is unique for a town the size of Vidalia.

"Basically, it will all be done under one roof.  It's very unique because usually the treatment is scattered like you have now.  This is the difference we are going to provide for this community.  Just as you now have a state-of-the-art hospital, we are going to have a state-of-the-art cancer treatment center to provide all the care you need right here," he said.

Kent says the multi-million dollar project should be completed within a year and will be equipped with cutting edge diagnostic and treatment technology.

 May 3--  Montgomery County School Superintendent Randy Rodgers has responded to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) which wrote the school system on March 28 containing allegations it had received regarding the county school board.  Below are Rodgers responses to SACS in a letter dated April 28.

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May 2--  The Montgomery County school system will consider reducing the number of teachers in its schools at a meeting to be held later this month.

At its May meeting Monday night, the school board heard School Superintendent Randy Rodgers ask for authority to prepare a reduction in force plan for up to seven faculty positions which Rodgers says are not needed due to smaller class sizes and which should no longer be funded due to insufficient local revenue and decreases in state and federal funding.

"I am asking you give me authority to initiate a RIF plan and submit to you a plan at the next meeting which will be a called meeting next week at a date we determine to address this and the hiring of certain system employees," Rodgers requested.

The board approved Rodger's request and also his recommendations for some school level personnel changes next school term.

The instructional coordinator at the elementary school, Brittany Deen, will become the new elementary school principal.  The current assitant principal at the high school, Ginger White, will transfer as assistant principal at the elementary school.

The head of the school system's achievement center, Dr. Tosha Middlebrooks, will become the new middle school principal succeeding Dr. Marvin Howard who moves to run the achievement center.

Eric McDonald, assistant principal at the elementary school, moves to become the assistant principal of the middle/high school.

The school board has yet to name a new principal at the high school to succeed Luke Smith.

In other actions, the board gave the school superintendent the go-ahead to prepare a bid package for its approval for needed repairs to the middle and high school building estimated to cost up to $265,000.  The work would be paid for with sales tax revenue.

Superintendent Rodgers told the board he is currently estimating the system will end the school year with a fund balance of only $40,000.

The board also approved a school calendar of 172 student days next year with school starting August 12th and graduation on May 12, 2012.


Adrian Bell (standing right) is one of three speakers who criticized the school board Monday night.  

The meeting was held in a larger room this month to accomodate a crowd including representatives of Kids First Montgomery County, an organization formed to hold the board accountable for many of its personnel decisions since taking office in January.  One of the speakers, D.B. Baker, said the board is causing stress on the school system staff and is "vindictive" and "self-serving."


May 2--  The World Famous Vidalia Onion Eating Contest attracted a strong field in two of three categories Saturday at the 34th Annual Vidalia Onion Festival.  The contest is sponsored by the Vidalia Lions Club.


A student at Sally Meadows Elementary School in Vidalia, Laila Tye (second from left) won the 11 years and under category.


Jessee Conley gulped down four-and-a-half Sweet Vidalias in three minutes to take first place in the 12 to 16 age category.  Competition was light in this group with only four competitors.


James Fussell entered the contest to set the example for his kids who also entered.  He won the 17 and above age category by gobbling up 13 Sweet Vidalia Onions.





May 2--  May is the last month of school in the Toombs County school system.  Here are some highlights provided by school officials.

Toombs County Middle School Council meets Monday, May 2 at 4:00 p.m. in the conference room.

Lyons Upper Elementary School Council meets Tuesday, May 3 at 4:00 p.m. in the media center.

Toombs Central FTA meets Tuesday, May 3 at 7:00 p.m. in the cafeteria. Second grade students will be performing The Wizard of Oz.

Toombs County High School’s Spring Band Concert is Tuesday, May 3 at 7:00 p.m. in the lunchroom.

The week of May 2-6 is School Nutrition Employee Appreciation Week.  Toombs County salutes all School Nutrition Employees!

Toombs County High School will give End-of-Course-Tests the weeks of May 2-6 and May 9-13.  For more information contact TCHS at 526-6068.

Lyons Primary School Council meets on Thursday, May 5 at 5:00 p.m. in the media center.

Lyons Primary School Field Day is Friday, May 6. Parents are invited to stop by the Parental Involvement booth during the day for information about educational activities for the summer.

Toombs Central Elementary School parents of Pre-K students will register their child for Kindergarten on May 9 at 5:30 p.m. in the cafeteria.  Pre-K children do not have to be present for registration.

Toombs County High School Honors Night is Monday, May 9 at 6:00 p.m. in the cafeteria.

Toombs County Middle School’s Spring Band Concert is Tuesday, May 10 at 7:00 in the gym.

The Parental Advisory Council meets Tuesday, May 10 at 8:30 a.m. at Toombs Central in Cindy Corbitt’s office and at 6:00 p.m. at Lyons Upper Elementary School in the cafeteria. Parents are invited to attend either of these meetings.

Toombs County Board of Education meets Thursday, May 12 at 6:30 p.m. in the boardroom.

Toombs County Band Boosters meet on Thursday, May 19 at 6:30 p.m. in the band room at TCHS.

Lyons Primary School Honors Day will be held on Thursday, May 19 in the gymnasium:

8:30 - 9:30 – Pre-K

9:30 – 10:30 – Kindergarten

10:30 – 11:30 – First Grade

11:30 – 12:30 – Second Grade

Toombs Central Kindergarten Graduation will be held on Thursday, May 19 at 7:00 p.m. at Southeastern Technical College Auditorium.

Toombs Central Elementary School Honors Day will be held on Friday, May 20:

8:30 - Pre-K Cafeteria

9:30 – Grades 1-3 in the Gym

11:00 – Grades 4 and 5 in the Gym

Lyons Upper Elementary School Honors Day will be held on Friday, May 20 in the gymnasium:

8:30 – Fifth Grade

9:30 – Fourth Grade

10:30 – Third Grade

Toombs County Middle School Honors Day will be held on Friday, May 20 in the gymnasium:

8:30 – Sixth Grade

9:30 – Eighth Grade

10:30 – Seventh Grade

Parents are invited to stop by the Parental Involvement booth at TCMS during Honors Day for information about educational activities for the summer.

Toombs County High School Graduation will be held on Saturday, May 21 at 9:00 a.m. at Booster Stadium.

Toombs Central Elementary School Council meets on Tuesday, May 24 at 5:00 p.m. in the media center.

May 1--  The President Pro Tempore of the Georgia Senate says lawmakers will tackle reforming the state's tax code again.

The legislature was unable to pass changes in this year's session, however, Senator Tommie Williams of Lyons says reform is needed so more people will be paying a share of the state's budget.

"At some point in time, our goal is to have a fair tax in Georgia where we tax only sales and/or services and eliminate the income tax.  We tried to do that this session and we could never get the numbers right, so we didn't pull the trigger.  We may take it up in the special session this Summer or next year.  The goal is to have a fairer, flatter tax in Georgia," he says.

Senator Williams says the greatest accomplishment in this term of the legislature was saving the HOPE scholarship program, and he gives Governor Nathan Deal the credit.

"He's got an uncanny ability to take people on both sides of an issue and bring them together.  Those kind of skills don't exist in politics all of the time, but he is really good at it.  He's a kind person, kind and smart and I really enjoyed working with him and the Speaker of the House as well," Williams said.