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September 29--  Plans are being made to demolish the old Meadows Regional Medical Center building in Vidalia.

Meadows CEO Alan Kent told the Toombs County Hospital Authority Wednesday the demolition will cost less than $500,000 and will get started within the next two months.  He said the building including its foundation will be removed.  The Lucy Pierson Medical Building, the EMT building and the Ronald McDonald house will be retained, Kent said.

Meanwhile, the Hospital Authority plans to meet again next Wednesday after studying a proposal that the Medical Center re-establish its relationship with the Authority to insure access to an estimated $2 million a year in federal funds for treatment of indigent patients.

September 29-- Former Lyons Police Chief Ricky Newsome is free on bond.  At a bond hearing Thursday in Toombs County Superior Court, Judge Bobby Reeves set a $30,000 cash bond and $70,000 property bond.

{mosimage}Newsome has been in jail since his arrest September 19 on three felony counts of distribution of marijuana, theft by conversion and violating his oath of office.

The state requested a $100,000 cash bond and a $200,000 property bond and said Newsome's charges may involve trafficking since the amount of marijuana involved was more than ten pounds.  Assistant District Attorney Charles Howard said investigation of the case is ongoing and could result in "substantial prison time and a $100,000 fine."

Newsome's attorney Joe McGovern argued the former chief is neither a flight risk nor a danger to others or himself.

Judge Reeves ordered Newsome to give up any weapons he may own to the Toombs County Sheriff's office, to have no contact with witnesses in the case and to stay at least 1,000 feet away from Lyons city hall and the Lyons Police Department.

Newsome has been in the county jail in Treutlen County since his arrest and was released on bond Thursday afternoon according to Treutlen County Sheriff Tommy Corbin.

September 29-- Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp announced today that the state will hold its presidential preference primary on Tuesday, March 6, 2012.

Secretary Kemp stated, “My decision to hold Georgia’s presidential preference primary on March 6, 2012 protects the interests of Georgia voters. By holding our presidential primary election on March 6, 2012 we can ensure that the voices of Georgia voters are heard and are relevant in the presidential candidate nomination process.”

The Georgia General Assembly passed House Bill 454 this year, which allows the Secretary of State to set the presidential preference primary date.

Secretary Kemp added, “I want to officially invite the presidential candidates to visit our state and discuss and debate the issues with Georgia voters, just as they have done in the early caucus and primary states for more than a year.

“Finally, I want to stress that we have committed in good faith to abiding by the rules set forth by the Republican National Committee so Georgia will not suffer a loss of delegates, and I highly encourage the Republican National Committee to enforce its rules as this process continues.”


Georgia law previously required the state to hold the presidential preference primary on the first Tuesday in February of a presidential election year. House Bill 454 requires the Secretary of State to set the presidential preference primary date by December 1st in the year prior to the presidential election year, and the date must be no later than the second Tuesday in June of the election year. The state executive committee of each political party must submit the list of candidate names for their primary ballot on a date set by the Secretary of State so the counties can build and print their ballots, and so the state can be in compliance with UOCAVA, the MOVE Act and other state election publication laws.



September 29--  With Georgia's unemployment rate running above ten percent, you may be surprised to hear that jobs are available, but employers can't find people with a work ethic.  That means showing up on time, dressing for success, and being willing to learn and work as a team.

{mosimage}As part of its effort to attract business and jobs, the state of Georgia is embarking on a program to certify workers who can make the grade.  Trish Pridemore is Director of the Governor's Office on Workforce Development and was in Vidalia to hear what employers and others have to say about finding good employees.

"So much of what Governor Deal looks to is what is the proper role of government.  The proper role of government is to make sure Georgia has a great climate that businesses want to come to and where people want to be employed. However we can do that is maybe a cultural change where the government can play a role, but it's really going to take folks like on our panel tonight where you've got pastors, mayors, local law's really going to take everybody's ideas to make a difference," Pridemore says.

One local panelist pointed out that employers are finding many people had rather draw unemployment checks than go to work and another said the government makes it too easy to fail. Pridemore recognizes the problem.

"We've got to make it encouraging for people to go back to work.  Governor Deal knows that behind those unemployment numbers is a person and a family that is longing for a sense of accomplishment and we've got to create an environment to put Georgians back to work," she says.

Other panelists noted employees with a "me first" attitude and no understanding of customer service and teamwork.  Another suggested programs which harness popular culture and media to influence the opinions of young people about work.

The Vidalia feedback session was the fourth Pridemore has held around the state.  She meets with Governor Deal in October to discuss her findings.

September 27--  The Vidalia Kiwanis Club has installed its new slate of officers for the 2011-2012 club year.

{mosimage}Tom Peterson IV (L) passes the Presidency to Paul Threlkeld.  Other officers are President-Elect Doug Roper, Vice-President Susan Bargeron, Secretary Wesley Luhn, Treasurer Nina Thompson, and Directors Blake Tillery, Goodman Craig and Blake Brown.

Annual award winners are Bill Torrance, the Hixon Award; Nina Thompson, Kiwanian of the Year; and Wesley Luhn, President's Award. 

September 27--  The following editorial is from The Brunswick News.

Sunshine laws serve a valuable purpose
Georgia Senate Pro Tempore Tommie Williams, R-Lyons, is refusing to say much about why he and other members of the Senate Committee on Administrative Affairs paid $80,500 in public funds - tax-dollars - to settle a racial bias lawsuit against one of their colleagues in the legislature. Neither he nor anyone else on the committee are willing to give up the name of the individual who has cost Georgians a small fortune or give up any detail of what prompted the suit.

To put it bluntly, it's none of the public's business. Taxpayers do not have to know why they had to fork over $80,500. It might be their money, but tough. Take a hike.

Those are not the words Sen. Williams used when asked why he refused to disclose details of the lawsuit or divulge the name of the individual who is costing taxpayers. He simply stated that the check and the name of the offender are not covered by the state's Sunshine laws, and because they are exempt, the Senate can keep it a secret.

Really? Our money but not our business? Really?

There's little doubt legislators have written and passed exemptions to protect themselves from having to reveal embarrassing moments and unlawful acts. They certainly hide behind them enough.

Most can remember the days when Republicans chastised Democrats, when Democrats were the majority party in the legislature, for keeping secrets. Now, here are the Republicans, the new majority party, doing exactly what they once criticized Democrats for doing.

It was not right back then, and it's not right now, regardless of how many laws members of the state House and Senate write and pass saying it is. They are public figures using public funds, and that makes them and what they do the public's business.

Republicans used to claim to be the party of openness. Either voters failed to read the fine print to that claim or the political party's definition of openness is whatever suits it at the time.


September 27--  Cosmetology students at Southeastern Technical College made a donation of animal supplies Monday at the Vidalia Animal Shelter on Airport Road.

{mosimage}(L-R) First row, Brittany Fowler, Rachel Clements and Sandy Cowart; 2d row Bridget Jordan, Whitney Aldrich, Vance Davis and (in the back) April Braddy.

{mosimage}The students held a bake sale, car wash and cookout and raised about $300 to buy dog and cat food, kitty litter and bleach for the shelter. 


September 27--  Voters in Lyons will be voting at a new location when they go to the polls for city elections in November.

Instead of voting at the old Magistrate's Office on West Lincoln Street, Lyons voters will vote November 8th at the Octagon Building in Partin Park.  Those who want to vote absentee or in the early voting will also report to the Partin Park location during the period October 17 through November 4.  The deadline to register to vote in the election is October 11.

The only contested city race is in Ward Five where Bill Mixon and Paul Mead are running for city council.

In Santa Claus, the city election November 8 includes a challenge to incumbent Mayor Earl Horton, Jr. by Al Lewis and Second Ward city council incumbent Tim Horton is opposed by Kenneth Taylor.

September 26--  An 86-year-old survivor of the Jewish Holocaust reminded students to protect their freedom during a Monday morning presentation at the J.R. Trippe Middle School in Vidalia.

Dr. Eugen Schoenfeld survived the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz in Poland in 1944.  He says the Holocaust happened because the German people were willing to trade their freedom for promises of economic security by Hitler.

"In every country their comes a period when economic conditions become very difficult and people are willing to give up their freedom hoping that some leader will have all the answers.  I come to say nobody has all the answers and if somebody claims he and he alone knows how to solve all the problems in the world, don't trust that person.

"I want to remind all the people and especially the students that we were given one of the greatest gifts next to the Ten Commandments and that is the United States constitution.  As long as we keep the Constitution and maintain the spirit of the Constitution, then this country will remain free and strong," Dr. Shoenfeld says.

{mosimage}After his presentation, many students gathered round Dr. Scholenfeld with questions and one said, "We never met a person who actually went through it before and I thought it was good for everybody to see someone who survived it."

The program was sponsored by the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust adn included presentation of a "Holocaust Learning Project Trunk" containing materials students will use when studying World War II and the Holocaust. Dr. Schoenfeld also presented the school a copy of his book recounting his personal experiences as a teenager who saw family and friends murdered by the Nazi's.

September 26--  A church member is being accused of setting a fire which destroyed a Toombs County church.

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports 44-year-old Timothy William Harden of Lyons is being charged with burglary and arson in the first degree.

The Oasis Church on the Ponderosa Road near Lyons was destroyed early on the morning of Sunday, August 7th.  Sheriff Kight says Harden had stolen musical equipment from the church earlier in the week and set the fire so the thefts would not be discovered when church convened that Sunday morning.

The sheriff reports some of the stolen musical instruments have been found at area pawn shops.

September 26--  There are 45 post offices in Georgia which have been identified for closing by the U.S. Postal Service and the post office in the small Montgomery County community of Alston is one of them.

{mosimage}Alice Ryles from the Postal Service broke the news to Alston residents at a public hearing at the Alston City Hall.

"The Alston Post Office is being studied for closure.  It came out on the headquarters list of offices which met certain criteria." she said.  Nationwide more than three thousand post offices are on the chopping block and Ryles reports its all due to the economy.

"As the economy as hit everybody, it's hit us.  We're trying to make our workload match our workforce," she notes.

An Alston resident says in a small town like Alston, the post office does more than just deliver the mail.

"We use that for a meeting place every morning.  We come here after the mail's up.  The only time we see our neighbors is at the post office.  We might not see them anywhere else for months, but you come here and you'll see different ones every time you come.  I hate to see it close because we've already lost so many businesses here," he said.

As an alternative to a government-operated post office, the Postal Service is offering small communities like Alston an alternative.  It's called the Village Post Office and it can be operated by a private business .

"That's a local decision if someone in the community wants to take on that responsibility.  It would help the community preserve its identity plus still offer post office boxes.  It can be a convenience store, grocery store, feed store, furniture store or anything like that where someone wants to take on the responsibility of serving as a village post office," Ryles suggests.

According to Ryles, it will be as few more months before the final decision on closures is announced.  

September 23--  Get "Hooked ON A Feeling" with this year's United Way campaign video.  Click to view.


September 23-- The Montgomery County Elementary Pre-k Program celebrated Grandparent's Day on Tuesday, September 20th. The Pre-k students had breakfast with their grandparents, and presented them with a special gift. Afterwards they presented a special program for their grandparents where they sang them a few songs.


It was a great time of family fellowship, and enjoyed by everyone in attendance including Grandma Jackie Garnes and grandchild Aazariyah Mann.

Montgomery County Elementary School Pre-k would like to thank all the people that participated in this event to make it so special.


September 23--  Leaders of the United Way of Toombs, Montgomery and Wheeler counties hoped local donors will get "Hooked on the United Way" to the tune of at least $450,000 dollars.

{mosimage}This year's campaign kicked off Thursday with a lunch at the Vidalia First Baptist Church with keynote speaker Sonny Dixon of Savannah's WTOC-TV who urged "selflessness" vice "selfishness" during hard economic times.  He donned the campaign's "Hooked" T-Shirt before leaving the stage.

{mosimage}United Way Executive Director Patricia Dixon with campaign co-chairs Amy Sowell and Garrett Wilcox.

The campaign has already collected about a third of its goal through special events and the contributions of Pacemaker organizations.

The United Way golf tournament raised $11,250; the Sweet Onion Celebrity Bike Ride garned $2,500; Sam Page from Hawks Point Golf Course turned in a $4,500 charitable contribution from the LPGA Futures Tour tournament; Leadership Toombs-Montgomery alumni turned in $2,000 from a charity concert-dance; Soothing Sensations raised $1,900 with massages; the Power of the Purse raised $6,000 with the local Dancing with the Starsw; and Vidalia Ford raised $2,800.

Pacesetter contributions include employee donations of $50,000 from Plant Hatch, $30,300 from Dot Foods, $19,500 from Tumi, $10,000 from Vidalia City Schools and $6,000 from Mount Vernon Bank employees. 

September 22--  CCA, America's leader in partnership corrections, chose 20-year corrections and law enforcement veteran Jason Medlin as the warden at its Wheeler Correctional Facility in Alamo, Ga. Formerly the warden at Lake City Correctional Facility in Florida, Medlin saw this move as an exciting new challenge.

{mosimage}"I am very excited about the opportunity to join the Wheeler team," said Warden Jason Medlin. "The team at Wheeler has a long history of exceptional operational performance, professionalism, and a strong partnership with our government partner."

Medlin has brought his years of experience in security, operations and leadership to his new post, which he began on September 15.

Medlin began his law enforcement and correctional career as a sergeant in the U.S. Army Military Police in 1991, serving in Somalia. After his service he joined the CCA team at Northeast Ohio Correctional Center in 1997, starting as a correctional officer and quickly working his way up to captain and assistant chief of security before he transferred to CCA's Idaho Correctional Center as the chief of security in 2000. While at Idaho he was promoted to assistant warden of operations, a position he held again three years later at his CCA starting place, Northeast Ohio, and then at another CCA facility, Marion County Jail II in Indianapolis, Ind., until 2007. He was named warden of Lake City in 2007 and was serving that facility in that capacity until his recent move to Wheeler.

CCA's Wheeler Correctional Facility is a 3,000-bed facility holding inmates from the Georgia Department of Corrections. The facility is located at 195 North Broad Street in Alamo, Georgia.


CCA is the nation’s largest provider of partnership corrections to federal, state and local government, operating more than 60 facilities, including more than 40 company-owned facilities, with approximately 90,000 beds, in 20 states and the District of Columbia. In addition to providing the residential services for inmates, CCA facilities offer rehabilitation and educational programs, including education, vocation, religious services, life skills and employment training and substance abuse treatment. For more, visit and

September 22--  This year's Toombs-Montgomery Youth Leadership Class started last week with some group-building exercises.


(L-R) Front Row: Robert George, Lindsey Lothridge, Lindsey Murry, Audrey Thompson, Jessica Johnson, Anna Rosenwald, Darby Oliver

Second Row: Ashley Sasser (Co-chair) Joey Pope, Mark Madison, Gray Humphrey, Carson Bacon, Jasmine Cheeves, Lee McCloud, Kaitlin Dotson, Lauren McDonald

Third Row: Jose Caraballo (Co-chair), Jake Stuckless, Chris Warren, Kyle Fabacher, Stephen McCall,

Not Pictured: Ashlee Darsey and Kimberly Warren





September 22--  The 17 counties which make up the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha region had an unemployment rate of 12.7 percent in August, he highest area rate in the state

State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said today that the preliminary unadjusted unemployment rate in the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha was unchanged at 12.7 percent from July to August. The jobless rate in the area in August a year ago was 12.4 percent.

The lowest area rates, at 7.8 percent, were recorded in Athens and Warner Robins.  

Meanwhile, Georgia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 10.2 percent in August, up one-tenth of a percentage point from 10.1 percent in July. The state’s jobless rate was also 10.2 percent in August a year ago. The increase is because about 5,500 new job seekers, as well as more of those already unemployed, were unable to find work.

August marked the 49th consecutive month Georgia has exceeded the national unemployment rate, which is currently 9.1 percent, unchanged from July.  

Local area unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted. Georgia labor market data are available at



September 22--  The director of the Ohoopee Regional Library System, Dusty Gres, announces the visit of a Holocaust survivor to Vidalia and invites the public to hear his presentation Monday night at the Vidalia library.

"Monday evening, September 26, 2011 at 7: 00 pm at the Vidalia-Toombs Public Library, Dr. Eugen Schoenfeld, Education Director of The Georgia Commission on the Holocaust, and Holocaust survivor will share his story about his experiences.

The program is free and open to the public and the library urges all members of the community to come and participate in this special program event.

This program is in conjunction with the Holocaust Learning Trunk Project, a year-long project sharing educational materials concerning World War II and the Holocaust, to be launched that morning at J.R. Trippe Middle School. Senator Tommie Williams, Representative Greg Morris and Principal Gwen Warren will accept the Trunk on behalf of the community.

The project is jointly sponsored by the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust, The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, Inc. and the Georgia Department of Education. The use of art and history unifies students of various backgrounds and beliefs, connecting them through their experiences learning about the Holocaust. The Georgia Commission on the Holocaust, the Georgia Public Library Service and the Georgia Department of Education are working in concert to ensure the Holocaust Learning Trunk Project will cultivate positive character development and foster students’ understanding of the importance of good citizenship.




{mosimage}September 22--  Marty is an eight-month old Black Lab/Bulldog mix who is facing euthanization unless he can find a home.  He is currently at Altamaha Animal Clinic in Vidalia and has had all of his shots and is de-wormed.  The clinic will also provide free neutering if it can find a good home for Marthy.  Can you help?  If so, call the clinic at 912-537-3711.

Georgia Senate pays law firm $80,000, refuses to say why

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The state Senate paid an Atlanta law firm $80,500 on July 28, and Senate leaders will only say the money was for a "personnel issue."

But a top Democratic senator, Vincent Fort of Atlanta, said it was to settle a racial discrimination claim brought by a Senate staffer who is African-American. Channel 2 Action News reported Tuesday that all parties signed an agreement keeping details confidential, although Fort and a leader of the Tea Party Patriots said the public should be told details of the case.

The check was made to the law firm Buckley & Klein after the Senate Committee on Administrative Affairs met in July and approved the payment. The committee, made up of five Republican senators, the Republican lieutenant governor, one Democrat and the secretary of the Senate, meets in private and is chaired by President Pro Tem Tommie Williams. Williams, in a statement, said the Senate is not subject to state sunshine laws and that "the matter related is a personnel matter and we do not release personnel information."

Senate Minority Leader Steve Henson, D-Tucker, the lone Democrat on the committee, also refused to comment. Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle referred all questions to Williams.

The staffer in the claim -- a secretary -- was reached at home by Channel 2 Action News, but she referred questions to her attorney at Buckley & Klein, Dena G. George, who also refused to comment.

Fort refused to name the secretary, whom he hasn't spoken to since the settlement.

"Around the Capitol, it was common knowledge that this person was treated unfairly, that there was some kind of discrimination involved, perpetrated by members of the Senate," Fort said.

The secrecy of the settlement is wrong, Fort said. To protect the secretary, he would not reveal details of the case.

"This settlement was reached with taxpayer money," Fort said. "I'm very concerned this is shrouded in secrecy. The people have the right to know what their taxpayer money is being used for, what their taxpayer money is being used to cover for."

Debbie Dooley, a national coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots and co-founder of the Atlanta Tea Party, agreed.

"If it is taxpayer money, then the purpose should be public and accounted for," she said, adding that if a state employee was the one who discriminated against the secretary, "the employee should be fired."

September 22--  Are you willing to pay another penny in sales tax for the next ten years to fund local and regionial road improvements?

That's the question voters will answer in a transportation referendum currently scheduled for July 31, 2012.

In the 17-county Heart of Georgia region, regional projects estimated at just over a quarter-billion dollars and local projects totaling more than $115-million have been identifed by elected officials from cities and counties in the region.

Both Toombs County Commission Chairman Buddy West and Mount Vernon Mayor Joey Fountain are on the group's executive committee.

According to Mayor Fountain, "This money will be used to finance projects that normally wouldn't get done.  Without this money coming in, there are streets and roads badly in need of repair that just wouldn't happen.  I think a sales tax is the way to go because everybody pays for it and everybody uses the roads and streets."

One of the regional projects in Montgomery County would replace the Altamaha River bridge between Montgomery and Jeff Davis counties.  Other road projects in Montgomery County and in Ailey, Alston, Mount Vernon and Tarrytown have been identified totaling about $3.4 million.

Toombs Chairman Buddy West says officials will meet in Vidalia next month to finalize the list voters will be asked to approve.

"October 13th at 10:30 a.m. at the Vidalia Community Center is when the final list of all the projects in the 17 counties will be approved hopefully.  We've put a lot of work into this and that's when the 34 members of the group will come together and vote on it," West reports.

Regional projects impacting Toombs County total nearly $125 million and include replacement of the Altamaha River Bridge between Toombs and Appling counties and widening of U.S. Highway One south of Lyons plus another $5 million in local projects including paving of the Ezra Taylor Road.

The city of Vidalia has projects totaling more than $5 million and Lyons has $1.6 million in projects.

Treutlen County and Soperon have local projects amounting to about $3 million.

You can see the recommended project list at

September 22-- The annual Sweet Onion Classic golf tournament in Vidalia raised an estimated $70,000 for local charities, according to Classic Board Chairman Lloyd Mobley.


The tournament attracted 124 golfers to Hawks Point Golf Course Wednesday and was won by the foursome of Michael Kay, Jason Palmer, Daniel Ford and Les Ramsey with a score of 15 under par. (L-R John Underwood, Wendell Dixon, Ramsey, Palmer, Kay, Lloyd Mobley, not pictured Ford.)


The tournament donated the first of two $25,000 installments it is making to the Toombs County Boys and Girls Club to help build a new home for the club in Vidalia. (L-R Wendell Dixon, Lisa Bishop in front of Lloyd Mobley, Raymond Turner, Tonja Woodard, Howard Hill, Goodman Craig, Les Ramsey, John Underwood and Tim Truxal.)


It also presented a $10,000 check to Brewton Parker College. (L-R Lisa Bishop in front of Wendell Dixon, Lloyd Mobley, Jessica James, Tim Truxal and John Underwood.)

The Sweet Onion Classic is also providing $5,000 to the Altama Museum in Vidalia and $2,500 each to the Vidalia Educational Foundation and to the Mercy Clinic.


{mosimage}September 21--  Students from four area high schools all united under one color, Army Green, in ceremonies Monday night at Vidalia High School.

A promotion ceremony was held for the new Army Junior ROTC Thunderbolt Regiment which includes 180 students from Vidalia High School and the high schools in Toombs, Montgomery and Treutlen counties.



{mosimage}The Regimental Commander is Jermaine Snell from Vidalia High School who believes the new JROTC program will help develop leaders.

The Thunderbolt's first Regimental Commander takes the Oath of Office.

"I think it means if they can inspire other people to do great things and be leaders and not followers all the time, then life will be better.  That's the way us Thunderbolts think, if you can be a leader and not a follower, things will work out better," he says.

Snell is a senior this year and says he joined JROTC to help him learn to work with other people, "It's something I want to do to train myself on how to get involved with other people knowing that's the job I want to have in life."

The new regimental commander also believes the JROTC program is helping him grow.  "A lot of teachers and students have told me I've changed.  They see the difference. That's why we have this motto, "Deeds Not Words."  Do what you say you're going to do, don't talk about it," he says.

The regiment includes four battalions including the 70 members of the Indian Battalion led by battalion commander Courtney Walker, the Bulldawg Battalion with its 30 cadets led by Mikala Quarterman, the Eagle Battalion's 40 cadets headed by Kaylan Hamilton and the 40 members of the Viking Battalion led by battalion commander Courtney Merrion.

September 19--  The police chief in Lyons is under arrest on drug charges and two other felonies.

Police Chief Ricky Newsome was called to the Toombs County Sheriff's Office Monday morning and informed of the charges by Middle Judicial Circuit District Attorney Hayward Altman.

"He has been charged with distribution of drugs, specifically marijuana, violation of oath of office and theft by conversion.  This is the result of an investigation which has been going on for four months under the direction of the Georgia Regional Drug Enforcement Office, GBI Region 12, the East Central Georgia Drug Task Force, the Toombs County Sheriff's office as well as the District Attorney's office," Altman says.


Newsome is led from the Toombs County Courthouse in handcuffs after his first appearance hearing.  

The DA described Newsome's reaction to the charges as one of "relief and an understanding that he had been doing things which he should not have done." Newsome started at the Lyons police department in 1996 as a detective and was later promoted to chief.

Altman said the investigation started when law enforcement got information "from someone in the community."  He reports no other Lyons police officers have been implicated "at this time."

A first appearance hearing was held before Judge Bobby Reeves Monday afternoon where Newsome inquired about when he could apply for bond.  Meanwhile, he's being held in an out-of-county jail "for his own safety," according to the District Attorney.

Lyons officials appointed assistant Police Chief Danny Coleman as interim police chief and called a meeting of the city council to consider what actions to take.  At the meeting, the council voted to ask retired Lyons Chief Jack Caves to take the job for an indefinite time until a new chief can be found.  City manager Rick Hartley says Caves has told him he will help in any way he can.   

September 19--  A young man who has gone from crime to college is speaking in Vidalia Friday night. 

Robert Jinks says his life was saved by Community Project Hope run by Wilson Johnson in Vidalia.  

"I've come from a broken home, living the street life, stealing, robbing, tried to sell drugs but that didn't work for me.  I've come from the point of no hope to find out that no matter what one has experienced in their past there is an alternative and and a way to move through life to live a successful life. Through God, you can succeed," he says.

Jinks dropped out of Toombs County High School, but with Johnson's help he got his GED, attended Southeastern Tech and is now a 23-year-old business major at Morris Brown College in Atlanta.

"The jist of my message is that through God all things are possible.  You don't have to let your past deter you from being successful in the future," he says.

Community Project Hope is holding a benefit banquet Friday night in Vidalia and Jinks says he will challenge young people, particularly young black men, to get an education.

"From what I've seen so far in the business world, you have to have a certain profile in order to get hired.  A young black man is supposed to keep himself up a certain way in order to get hired.  You have to have something on your resume and know something, or you'll be working in a minimum wage job the rest of your life," he says.

September 16--  The Toombs County Commission has issued a public notice regarding closing of a dumpster site in the southern end of the county and urging residents to use a nearby new convenience center for their trash.

"Effective October 1, 2011 the green box dumpster site at the junction of U.S. 1 and Highway 15(John’s Country Junction) will close. All Toombs County Citizens are welcome to use theConvenience Center on Gibson Rd. /Aimwell Extension off of U.S. 1 or the Tomlin RoadConvenience Center located off of SR 178 for Residential Waste only. The Commission alsoannounces that the Gibson Convenience Center will now be open seven days a week starting October 1st. Please contact the County at 526-3311 with any questions.

Please Note: Residential Curbside collection is now available throughout the County under private contract from Republic Services. Commercial or Industrial businesses should also contact Republic Services at 538-1616."

Gibson Road Convenience Center Location


September 16--  As Israel is surrounded by wars on all borders and the United Nations weighs the Palestinians’ historic bid for statehood, The John Batchelor Show is going the distance to bring listeners the latest information and perspective.    

Joined by 77 WABC’s Aaron Klein, Batchelor will broadcast live from Israel for five nights, starting this Sunday, September 18, with the latest news and analysis from Jerusalem during the expected U.N. General Assembly’s vote to favor the Palestinians over the Israelis. Batchelor will also travel to the besieged and bombarded town of Be’er Sheva, the target of recent rocket attacks.  

The John Batchelor Show is heard from nine till midnight in the Vidalia area on NewsTalk 970, WVOP.

In Batchelor’s words, “This week’s broadcast is a war warning.” 

September 16--  Gov. Nathan Deal announced today that building materials manufacturer GAF will open a manufacturing facility in Statesboro in Bulloch County to produce polyisocyanurate, an insulation material used with commercial roofing applications. The opening of this facility will create approximately 50 full-time jobs. GAF currently has production facilities in Savannah and Cumming.

 “The expansion of Georgia’s existing industries is vital to the growth of our state’s recovering economy,” Deal said. “GAF’s expansion and investment makes a very significant statement about the company’s commitment to Georgia, and is another example of how our competitive assets for expanding companies help us create meaningful opportunities for the people and communities throughout the state.”

 “We are opening  our first polyisocyanurate roof insulation plant in response to continued industry demand, and we believe it will greatly strengthen our position in the commercial roofing business, as well as giving us the ability to produce residential sheathing products,” stated Bob Tafaro, president and chief executive officer at GAF.

 The new GAF plant will be located in the Gateway Industrial Park in Statesboro. Bulloch County is a Georgia Certified Work Ready Community dedicated to progressive economic development initiatives, with a skilled pipeline of talent across a number of industries. In addition to taking advantage of the talented work force in this region, GAF will also benefit from Bulloch County’s strategic location that provides convenient access to rail and seaports. 

“We welcome GAF to Bulloch County and are fortunate to have another company make a significant capital investment in our community and provide much needed jobs to our area,” said David Holland, chairman of the Bulloch County Developmental Authority. “Considering GAF's 125 year history and its record of community support and citizenship, we are confident Bulloch County and GAF will enjoy a long, mutually rewarding relationship

-- Corrections Corporation of America has named Ralph M. Kemp as warden at the new Jenkins Correctional Center, a 1,150-bed prison scheduled to open this month in Millen.

Before joining CCA, Kemp had a long career with the Georgia Department of Corrections.

He began as a correctional counselor in 1966 and advanced to assistant warden, warden, regional director, and deputy commissioner.

Kemp joined CCA in 1998 as assistant warden at the Wheeler Correctional Facility in Alamo, Ga. He was promoted to warden in 2000 and has served in that capacity since that time.

September 15--  A two-term state representative from Columbia County is running for the 12th District congressional seat currently held by Congressman John Barrow of Savannah.  His campaign released the following announcement.

{mosimage}"Conservative State Representative Lee Anderson has filed paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission to run for the 12th Congressional District covering east Georgia.

Anderson, a Columbia County native, long time conservative local elected official, lifelong farmer, and established businessman is popular with agriculture leaders, grassroots Republicans and Tea Party leaders across the district. A formal campaign kick off event will be announced soon for later in September. A temporary campaign website has been launched at

Said Anderson, “Because of the encouragement from community leaders, business leaders, friends, and family, I have decided to run for the 12th Congressional District. We need a leader in our nation’s capitol who won’t back down from doing what’s right. We need fewer DC politicians and more honest leadership and hometown values. I’m tired of the politicians in DC who say one thing and do another. It’s time for a leader who will do what they say they will do.”

“I was raised on a farm and my parents taught me the value of hard work, honesty, and integrity. I’m a family man, a farmer, and a businessman that understands the values and the priorities of the families in the 12th District, and I will never back down in standing up for what they believe in.”

“I’m going to support any and all efforts to cut spending, cap any new spending, and balance the budget. I will introduce a Balanced Budget Amendment and work every day I’m in Congress to pass it. I’m going to support repealing ObamaCare, and I’m going to fight every crazy, liberal proposal the Obama Democrats in Washington try to force down our throats with every fiber of my being. The time for compromise is over. They’re literally destroying our country and ripping apart the values our country stands for. I will not back down. I will not compromise. The time has come to save America from those who are trying to bankrupt the American Dream.”

“These Washington politicians just don’t get it. We’ve had enough! We can’t afford more of the same. We can’t afford their election year promises anymore. We just can’t afford any more ‘leaders’ sticking their finger in the wind. There are people throughout this district who have voted for me, done business with me, or know my family and me– they know they can trust me to do exactly what I promise.”

About Lee Anderson

Lee was born and raised on a farm in Columbia County. Being raised on a farm, Lee grew to understand the value of hard work and the values of faith, family and community. He attended Columbia County Public Schools and graduated from Harlem High School.

Lee attended Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College and Brewton Parker College. He moved back to Grovetown and went to work on the family farm, and through innovation and sharp business principles, Lee is still a full-time farmer and businessman today.

For years, Lee has been active in our community, dedicated to giving back to the community that has given him so much. He has served in the Columbia County Farm Bureau for over 27 years where he presided as President and is a current member of the Board of Directors. He is a member of the Georgia Cattlemen’s Association, served as Chairman of the Georgia Farm Bureau State Young Farmer Committee, and numerous other organizations.

Lee also served on the Columbia Board of Education for 8 years where he also served as Chairman. Lee ran for the County Commission in 2005 to represent District 4. And in 2006, he won re-election convincingly. He served as Vice Chairman of the board in 2007. Since 2008, Lee has represented District 117 in the Georgia House of Representatives. In the State House, Lee was endorsed by Georgia Right to Life and signed the Americans for Tax Reform Taxpayer Protection Pledge.

Lee is married to his high school sweetheart, Columbia County native, formerly Donna Robertson. . Donna is a retired educator and served as the Principal of Columbia Middle School for most of her career. Donna and Lee are the proud parents of Ben and Katie. Lee attends Powell Baptist Church in Harlem where he serves as a Deacon."

September 14--  Organizers of the upcoming "Real Squeal Lyons Barbecue and Music Festival" are happy to learn that a leading professional barbecue cook will be in the competition in October.

Alexa Britton of the Lyons Better Hometown office reports, "We got word today that Myron Mixon from Unadilla, Georgia who is on the show "Pit Masters" and who's team is called "Jack's Old South" will be coming to the Real Squeal to compete.  We're real excited about it.  He's got quite a following and he's made a name for himself, and we're real happy he's coming."

In its first year last year, the Real Squeal attracted 29 professional teams and this year already has 40 confirmed and they're hoping for as many as 50 teams.

The professional competition will be in Partin Park Saturday, October 8, with the amateur "Backyard Barbecue Contest" the day prior, Friday, October 7th in downtown Lyons.  If you'd like to enter, contact Alexa at 526-6445.

Full details about all the events during the two-day festival can be found at



September 14--  The largest and most diverse group of graduating seniors in Georgia’s history took the SAT this year. The SAT participation rate for the Georgia class of 2011 was 80%, a six percent increase from last year, placing Georgia fifth in the nation in the percentage of high school seniors taking the SAT. Of the state’s 2011 college-bound seniors who took the SAT, 46 percent were minority students, up from 45 percent in 2010 and 39 percent in 2007.

Georgia's public, private and home school students scored 1,445 on the SAT, a six point decrease from 2010. The national average was 1,500, also a six point decrease from 2010. Public school students scored 1,431 on the exam and the national average score was 1,483.

“It’s good that we have so many students aspiring to go to college,” said State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge. “However, I believe we have to do a better job of educating our students as to what exam is needed to get into the appropriate postsecondary institution. We have far more students taking the SAT than the number of students going to four-year universities. Many of our postsecondary institutions don’t require the SAT for students to be accepted. When we roll out our career pathways next year, the appropriate postsecondary tests needed for enrollment will be clearly outlined for students.”

The Value of a Core Curriculum and Rigorous Course Work
Completing a core curriculum and pursuing rigorous course work are two critical components of college readiness, and the students who do so tend to perform better on the SAT. Georgia students who completed a core curriculum — defined as four or more years of English, three or more years of mathematics, three or more years of natural science, and three or more years of social science and history — did better on the SAT than those who did not complete a core curriculum.

All 2011 Georgia SAT Takers
                                              Critical Reading     Mathematics     Writing
Core Curriculum                              496                      499               484
Non-Core Curriculum                       456                      455               444
Difference                                       +40                      +44               +40

Georgia's commitment to rigorous standards (Common Core Georgia Performance Standards) builds on the success that has been achieved using other rigorous curricula such as the Advanced Placement (AP) Program. Studies continue to show that students who score at least a 3 on an AP Exam in high school experience greater academic success in college and graduate from college at higher rates than their comparable, non-AP peers.

Georgia students who took English honors or AP courses scored 59 points higher in critical reading and 59 points higher in writing than the average for all Georgia SAT takers. Similarly, Georgia students taking math honors or AP courses had an 80-point advantage compared to the average SAT mathematics scores for the state. Georgia students who took natural sciences, social sciences and history honors or AP courses also scored significantly higher on each section of the SAT than the average for all Georgia SAT takers.

Increased Participation Continues to Depress Mean Scores
It is common for mean scores to decline when the number of students taking an exam increases because more students of varied academic backgrounds are represented in the test-taking pool. As the number of SAT takers in Georgia has increased 18 percent among all students and 19 percent among public school students since 2007, score declines like Georgia has experienced can be expected.  

Average scores for all Georgia SAT takers declined compared to 2010 with average scores for critical reading down 3 points, mathematics down 2 points and writing down 1 point. When looking beyond year-to-year comparisons at longer-term trends, critical reading scores are down 7 points, mathematics scores down 5 points and writing scores are down 8 points since 2007. Public school mean scores have followed a similar trend, with critical reading and mathematics scores down 6 points and writing scores down 9 points since 2007.

Closing the Achievement Gap
Minority students in Georgia's public schools continue to outperform their peers across the country on the SAT. The 2011 SAT report shows that African-American and Hispanic students in Georgia's public schools are outperforming those subgroups nationally.

Georgia’s African-American public school students outscored their counterparts nationwide on two of the three SAT subsections. Mean Critical Reading scores for Georgia’s African-American public school students are two points higher and mean Writing scores are four points higher than that of African-American students in public schools nationwide.

Hispanic students in Georgia’s public schools outperformed their counterparts nationwide on all three of the SAT subsections. Mean Critical Reading scores for Georgia’s Hispanic students are 22 points higher, mean Mathematics scores are 13 points higher, and mean Writing scores are 17 points higher than Hispanic students in public schools nationwide.

The difference between the scores of African-American and White public school students -- called "the achievement gap" -- is 262 points in Georgia, which is 41 points smaller than the achievement gap nationwide (303). The gap between the scores of Hispanic and White public school students in Georgia is 132 points, 88 points lower than the nation (220).

However, Superintendent Barge pointed out that Georgia has very high minority participation on the SAT and the achievement gap impacts our overall SAT scores more than most other states.

“The good news for Georgia is that our achievement gap is much smaller than the nation’s,” Superintendent Barge said. “The bad news is that we still have an achievement gap that must be closed.”

September 14--  The Class of 2011 at Vidalia High School led the area in Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) Scores.

The Georgia Department of Education released the scores Wednesday.  The 72-students at Vidalia High School who took the test exceeded the state mean score by 16 points and fell short of the national mean by 39 points.  All other high schools in the area were under the state and national mean scores.


#Students Tested











Vidalia HS












Jeff Davis HS






Toombs HS






Mont Co HS






Appling Co HS






Treutlen HS






Wheeler Co HS






Metter HS






Swainsboro HS






Tattnall Co HS


September 14--  Property tax rates in the city of Vidalia will remain the same this year as last.

The city council approved the annual levy at its September meeting and city manager Bill Torrance says one way the city keeps the rate the same is by actively seeking and receiving state and federal grants. He notes $2 million in such grants have been received for various city projects.

The police department has received over a half million dollars in grants in the last three years including a $130,000 project for a weather alert system.  Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits says five weather alert sirens have been installed and Torrance says they will be tested soon.

"We just got them where we can run them.  When we test them we do it on a blue sky day and not a cloudy day when it might be bad weather because people might think it's the real thing.  We'll set a date and let people know before the test," he says.

Another grant for $70,000 is helping build a new walking trail at the new Vidalia Sports Complex off the Ezra Taylor Road, according to city rec director Tommy Sasser.  

"It's a 1.2 mile walking and jogging trail around the perimeter of the sports complex.  We'll have a pavillion where it starts with benches along the trail where you can rest and another pavillion at the end of the trail near the pond," he reports.  

The trail has already been marked and work will begin soon, Sasser says.

September 13--  The Montgomery County school board has tabled a motion which would have made it more difficult for members of the public to address board meetings.

Currently a citizen need only sign up before the start of meetings in order to speak.  A proposed change would require notification three days prior to the meeting and recommendation of the school superintendent.

At its meeting Monday night, board members Jim Paul Poole and Jackson Posey said they are against any changes.  The full board voted to ask the school superintendent to review how other school systems in the state handle the issue and report back in October.

Meanwhile,five people spoke to the board with four questioning board decisions and one supporting the board.

The board also reviewed and approved salary supplements for administrators and others.  Non-athletic supplements total $40,800 and athletic supplements amount to $57,950.  Jim Paul Poole voted against the supplements as uncalled for in view of personnel and program cuts made in the school system.

September 13--  The Montgomery County commission's September meeting is noteworthy mostly for what the board did not do.

It tabled a motion from Commissioner John Carpenter to dedicate a half-mil in taxes for the next 15 years to give the county development authority the ability to borrow money for economic development.  Commissioners voted to reconsider the motion next month after legal review.

It turned down a low bid to renovate a building on the courthouse square to serve as the county sheriff's office.  The commissioners concluded they could better use the $267,000 bid amount to build a new metal building for the sheriff at a location to be determined.

The commission also deferred action on a new Tarrytown fire station pending receipt of clear title on the property and delayed acceptance of donated land in Uvalda for a fire department sub-station pending more research.

Finally, it ignored an agenda item to consider the question of putting the question of Sunday sale of beer and wine to the voters.

{mosimage}September 12-- The Vidalia onion industry is responding to the brutal murder of a 15-year-old Toombs County girl who was vacationing with her family in Florida earlier this summer. The Courtney Wilkes Memorial Agriculture and Veterinary Scholarship will be granted annually to a qualifying senior graduating high school within Vidalia onion growing region.  Donations are currently being accepted with the hopes that a thousand dollar scholarship can be awarded for a minimum of ten years. 

Wilkes was a rising junior at Toombs County High School and number one in her class academically.  She was an officer of FFA, star soccer player, and devout Christian.  The young outdoor enthusiast is described by all who knew her as infectiously cheerful, offering everyone around her a bright smile and silly jokes. She loved animals and aspired to be a veterinarian.  Starting spring 2012, the scholarship will be granted once a year to a student possessing characteristics and interests similar to those of the bright, likeable young girl.  Among other prerequisites, applicants must be enrolled in a four year college in an agriculture or veterinary track.

The Vidalia, Georgia, community remains devastated by the June killing that happened at Seagrove Beach outside picturesque, quiet Seaside, Florida.  A 21-year-old area man alleging he was younger befriended the teen and her family.  When the young woman failed to return from a walk at the agreed time, her parents reported Courtney missing.  Shortly thereafter, she was found strangled and severely beaten in a wooded area off a nature trail.  The Walton County Sheriff after apprehending the suspect commended the parents for responsibly supervising the youngsters.  They had only permitted the oldest child, two weeks shy of her 16th birthday, to walk along the beach with the man the last afternoon of the family’s stay.  Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for first-degree, premeditated murder and other serious charges.

The Wilkes family, a close member of whom has long worked in and been a vital contributor to the Vidalia industry, is highly respected by the Vidalia area for being meek, hardworking, Christian people. Following a shocking situation that will be an ongoing source of sadness for Courtney’s family and friends, the farmers would like the scholarship to be a positive tribute to the friendly, joyful young woman filled with a zest for life.  It is their hope that applicants be imbued with Courtney’s strong morals, quirky or fun humor, intelligence, commitment to learning, and respectful appreciation of nature and animals.

Those wishing to contribute at any time to the Courtney Wilkes Memorial Agriculture and Veterinary Scholarship should make out their tax-deductible contributions specifically to GVF Foundation, Courtney Wilkes Scholarship.  Checks should be mailed to Courtney Wilkes Scholarship, C/O Vidalia Onion Business Council, P.O. Box 2611, Vidalia, GA, 30475.  Questions can be directed to Bob Stafford*, Vidalia Onion Business Council. **

September 12--  Onion City Farm Supply in Lyons has a new building and celebrated with a ribbon-cutting Friday.


Front row (l-r) Mac Jordan, Wayne Hartley, Heather Mead, Charles Gillis, Rick Zachary, R.T. Stanley, Jr., Ben Mitchell, Willis NeeSmith and Alan Thigpen; middle row (l-r) Becci Champion, Karie Morgan and Miles Zachary; back row (l-r) Rick Hartley, Fred Stokes and Art Assad.


September 12--  Students from Vidalia Heritage Academy were part of the 9/11 10th Anniversary Remembrance program Friday at Meadows Street Park in Vidalia.  The observance was organized by local Girl Scouts and the Downtown Vidalia Association.

September 12--  The city of Lyons has awarded a community development contract to a local company.

McLendon Enterprises will use the $473,652.77 contract for public works improvements on South Lanier and 10th Streets, according to city manager Rick Hartley.

The Lyons city council has also passed a city law regarding flea markets and yard sales. Folks who have more than two garage sales a year will have to buy a license and owners of flea markets will have to buy a $250 business license plus $50 for each stall which is rented out. 

September 12--  The new president of Brewton Parker College was commissioned last week in ceremonies at the college. 

While overall enrollment at the college is just over 600 students and is down from last year, Dr. Mike Simoneaux sees a silver lining.  "Classes began on August 22 and I'm happy to report we're up in new students, not very many, but that's the direction to be," he says.

Dr. Simoneaux started serving as interim president in March and is quick to note the college's uniqueness.  "We have a new mission statement that describes us as a Christian college that teaches a liberal arts curriculum that is Biblically centered.  Our vision statement is that Brewton Parker College strives to honor Jesus Christ in every area of the academy.  We're serious about the mission and vision statements and we're going to be what we say we are, a strong Christ-centered and Biblically-centered college," he reports. 

The new President is encouraging more community involvement by the college and notes signs of community support.

"I'm pleased to report the annual fund raised over a million dollars without a capital campaign and we had a community work day where over a hundred people from the community showed up to work inside our buildings and outside on the grounds.  It was just great," he notes.

September 10-- The state of Georgia’s net tax collections for the month of August totaled $1.3 billion, an increase of $108 million or 9.1 percent compared to August 2010, Gov. Nathan Deal reported today.

“The second month of fiscal year 2012 has continued the trend of year-on-year comparison growth,” said Deal. “I am particularly encouraged by this month’s results considering the global economic turbulence we are witnessing. It is with that turbulence in mind that I remain cautious about the months ahead.”

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

Individual Income Tax: Individual Income Tax collections for August 2011 totaled $707 million, up from $624 million in August 2010 for an increase of $83.5 million or 13.4 percent.

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

 •      Individual Tax Assessments were up $6 million or $71.5 percent.

 •      Individual Withholding payments were up $56.5 million or 8.7 percent

 •      Individual refunds issued (net of voided checks) were down $7 million or 14 percent

 •      All other Individual Income Tax categories combined for an increase of $14 million

Sales and Use Tax: Sales and Use Tax collections for August 2011 totaled $433.5 million, up from $419 million in August 2010, for an increase of $14.5 million or 3.4 percent. The current month’s Sales Tax Distribution to local governments also increased $27.5 million or 7.3 percent compared to last year.

September 8--  After more than 20 years of bouncing around the state highway department's bureaucracy, the project to four-lane U.S. Highway One north of Lyons is ready to start construction.

According to Toombs County Commission Chairman Buddy West, "I just got an official email this morning stating the project has been awarded.  This has been a long time waiting and I didn't know if it would ever happen."

McLendon Enterprises of Vidalia submitted the low bid to widen nearly 8.5 miles of U.S. One from Oak Park to the northern city limits of Lyons and build two new bridges over Pendleton Creek.  The cost of the contract is $23,071,664.98.

"You always want to keep it local and I'm glad a local vendor got it because of the economy and we all know what the job situation is in this area," West said.

The work is slated to be completed by May 31, 2014 and West says leaders are already pushing to widen U.S. One south of Lyons to the Appling County line including replacement of the Altamaha River Bridge.

"That's our number one project as far as a regional project for Toombs and  Appling County.  I've talked with the Commission Chairman in Appling County and we agree it's a project that will be beneficial to both counties," he reports.

In order for the southern leg to proceed, voters will have to approve a regional one percent sales tax for transportation in a referendum in 2012.

September 8--  The newspaper in Athens reports that Angel Food Ministeries has announced it will not make grocery deliveries that were scheduled for September.

The Monroe, Georgia non-profit distributes discounted groceries through churches across the country.  The Vidalia First United Methodist Church has served as one of its distribution centers.

The paper said its calls to the organization went unanswered because all of its lines were busy.

September 8--  Farmers and businesses in all but nine of Georgia's counties can apply for emergency loans and other benefits from the federal government.  The USDA has determined that production losses due to drought and excessive heat warrant a natural disaster designation.

All of the counties in southeast Georgia are on the list.

September 8--  Please note an exclusive and special three-part interview with former Vice President Dick Cheney will air Friday, September 9th, 2011 on America’s Morning News on NewsTalk 970, WVOP, in Vidalia.

The Vice President speaks about his years with the Bush Administration, his account of 9/11,  the challenges facing President Obama and offers his views on the 2012 Presidential Race.

All of this Friday morning between 6-9 a.m. on America’s Morning News with John McCaslin and Dana Mills.


September 7--  The city of Lyons will have a new mayor in January.  Ward Five councilman Willis NeeSmith has qualified for the office and has no oppostion in the November election.  Incumbent Mayor John Moore did not seek re-election due to illness.

Two Lyons businessmen, Bill Mixon and Paul Mead, are running to succeed NeeSmith on the city council.  Ward Three councilman Ivey Toole is unopposed for re-election.

Meanwhile, in Vidalia, there are no opposed incumbents.  Assured of re-election are city council members Raymond Turner, Lisa Chesser and Brian Frost and school board members Bruce Asberry and Doug Roper.

September 7--  A former bookkeeper at Vidalia High School has been sentenced for taking money from the school.

Brandee Iddins entered a guilty plea to theft by taking charges in connection with some $41,000 discovered missing during a three-year period starting in 2007.

She's  been sentenced to up to 390 days in a Probation Detention Center, 15 years probation, a $1,000 fine and ordered to make restitution of $37,000.

In another case, a former employee of Threlkeld Ford in Vidalia has been given jail time after violating probation.  Rus Monroe had been placed on probation in 2007 for 32 counts of theft by taking and ordered to make restitution of nearly $114,000 to former Threlkeld owner Rueben Hill.

According to court records he violated probation when caught with Methamphetamine August 2 in Reidsville.

He's been sentenced to 20 years in state prison by Judge Bobby Reeves. 

September 7--  Lyons police are investigating the vandalism which occurred at Toombs County High School Monday night.  Police Chief Ricky Newsome says progress is being made and he hopes to announce arrests in the case soon.

Meanwhile, Chief Newsome reports two juveniles from Vidalia High School have been arrested in another case on the campus at Toombs County High School.  He says the two are charged with criminal trespass for removing a Toombs County High School banner from a vehicle in the parking lot and for using shoe polish to write "VHS" on a car at the school.

September 6--  Vandals trashed the interior of Toombs County High School in Lyons sometime Monday night and caused the disruption of classes Tuesday.

According to school principal Doug Alexander, "A lot of toilet tissue was up and down the halls.  A lot of material smeared on the walls is either fecal material or possibly the catfish stink bait you can buy at local bait shops.  Vegetable oil is poured up and down the halls which poses a threat to walking down the halls.  Eggs are busted on the walls and some of the doors have been spray painted with VHS."


Staff members and custodians started the cleanup early Tuesday morning and students were not allowed in the building and waited outside in the school parking lot.

Alexander doesn't know if the building was trashed by ardent Vidalia Indians fans in advance of this weekend's Vidalia-Toombs County football rivalry or if it may have been done by some of his own students.  

Either way it's over the top, he says.  "I grew up in this community and I understand the rivalry, but you've got to use common sense when pulling pranks and that kind of stuff.  When you begin to do property damage and disrupt the education of kids, which is why we are here, then it takes on a whole new meaning.  It becomes very serious and something we're going to have to deal with in our community.  I guess we could start if our parents would talk to their kids and tell them this is not a good idea and it's not funny.  It's caused a real problem for Toombs County High School today," he said.

Last year Vidalia High School was trashed and it turned out to be the work of Vidalia students.  School Superintendent Dr. Tim Smith says they were prosecuted on felony charges. 

September 1--  Local Girl Scout Leader Gwen Warren announces the program schedule for the 10th Anniversary 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony at Meadows Street Park in downtown Vidalia.

Community 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony

“Lest We Forget”

September 9, 2011

9:00 am

Meadows Street Park


Welcome – Girl Scout Troop 30004


Posting of the Colors – Vidalia High School ROTC, Thunderbolt Color Guard


Pledge of Allegiance – Girl Scouts, Sweet Onion Service Unit


Invocation – Reverend Bobby Thompson


Presentation of Memorial Flag – Dr. Lyn Oxley, D.A.R.


Musical Selection – Vidalia Heritage School Choir


Speaker – Reverend Chester Proctor


Retrieve the Colors – Vidalia High School ROTC, Thunderbolt Color Guard


God Bless the U.S.A. – Vidalia High School Band


Memorial Wreath Presentations – Mrs. Barbara Johnson

                                                               Girl Scouts, Sweet Onion Service Unit


Ringing of the Freedom Bell – Vidalia Police Department

                                                       Vidalia Fire Department


Honors Salute – Vidalia High School Band and Thunderbolt Color Guard


Taps – Vidalia High School Band


Retire the Colors – Vidalia High School ROTC, Thunderbolt Color Guard

September 1--  First District Congressman Jack Kingston is talking with farmers in South Georgia about a proposal he hopes to make in Washington to reform the country's guest worker program.

He visited with farmers in Toombs County Thursday and heard a variety of complaints about another federal program that doesn't work.

"What we're hearing is that if America wants to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, we need a workable guest worker program," Kingston says.

Instead of helping farmers, Congressman Kingston says federal agents from the Department of Labor are part of the problem.  He'd like to put the program under the Department of Agriculture.  

"I think that will help because the Department of Labor and other federal agencies are playing 'I gotcha.'  It's costing farmers hundreds of thousands to up to a million dollars in fines for technical issues and not anything to do with treatment of workers.

Kingston says he hopes to enlist the support of 12th District Congressman John Barrow and other Democrats from rural areas in order to give the bill bipartison support.

"We Need More Than A Speech"

We also asked Congressman Kingston what he hopes to hear when President O'Bama makes his jobs speech next week before a joint session of Congress.

"The President has had since January 2009 to help create jobs.  The best way for us to do that is to drill our own oil, rollback job killing regulations, simplify the tax code and stop this spending spree.  If we would do those four things and let the business community do its thing, we'd have jobs.  What we find a lot of times with the President is that he alludes to a plan in his speeches, but a speech is not a plan and I'm hoping we don't just hear one more speech from the President.  

September 1--  Last week, Southeastern Technical College welcomed David Walden to its Board of Directors. Walden, who lives in Soperton, represents Treutlen County and was recommended by the county’s development authority.

{mosimage}Walden, left, takes the oath of office from Don Wilkes, another member of STC’s Board of Directors

Since 1998, Walden has worked with the US Department of Agriculture as an Area Resource Conservationist, responsible for the conservation planning activities within a 42-county area centered in Waycross.

Prior to that, Walden, a UGA graduate with a degree in Agriculture Education, worked with the Department of Agriculture in Cochran as a Soil Conservationist, providing leadership, management and technical assistance to a variety of programs in Bleckley and Twiggs counties.

“I look forward to working with Mr. Walden.  His experience with the United States Department of Agriculture as a conservationist will certainly be beneficial for the College,” said Dr. Cathryn Mitchell, president of Southeastern Tech, “Our Forestry program will directly benefit from his extensive knowledge.  And as a lifelong resident of Treutlen County, Mr. Walden will be a great representative for that area.”




September 1--  A special commissioning of Brewton-Parker College’s 15th President, Dr. Michael Simoneaux, will take place this Tuesday during the 2011 Fall Convocation Chapel. The service begins at 11 a.m. in Saliba Chapel on the Mount Vernon campus.

{mosimage}The community is invited to attend as the college family celebrates the 107th year of Brewton-Parker College and Dr. Simoneaux’s first year as its president.

Karl Hay, pastor of Mount Vernon Baptist Church and BPC trustee, will perform the commissioning ceremony. Dr. Mike Williams, assistant executive director and vice president for operations of the Georgia Baptist Convention, will give the Convocation address.

Convocation is a tradition which symbolizes the beginning of a new academic year and introduces students to faculty members. The formal inauguration of the new BPC president will be held later in the school year.


Fall semester classes began Monday, August 22, on both the Mount Vernon campus and at the Newnan Center. To learn more about Brewton-Parker College, go to