November 1--  The county commission in Montgomery County has reprimanded one of its board members.

{mosimage}County Commissioner John Carpenter of Uvalda received a written reprimand at a called meeting Tuesday after he authorized a private contractor to dump debris from a demolished building on county right of way.

Commission Chairman Franklin Brantley said, "It's not part of his duties and he was given a written reprimand banning him from having anything to do with the road department or obtaining any kind of contracts, either written or verbal. We decided we had to make some kind of move to help Mr. Carpenter understand he cannot perform those sorts of duties without it coming from the board.  Each one of us as a commissioner has no authority and we work as a board.  We wanted to inform him of that and rekindle his understanding of that and hopefully this has done so."

Carpenter said he accepted full responsibility for his actions but noted that he discussed the dumping in advance with Commissioner Clarence Thomas and County Manager David Curry.

The commission also asked the county attorney to check into Carpenter's eligibility to take his oath of office in January since he has tax liens against him from both the Internal Revenue Service and the Georgia Department of Revenue.

"I understand he has been charged again for  personal tax evasion, I'm not sure what, and it's just a concern of this board if he's really eligible to be a commissioner in this county," Brantley stated.

Meanwhile, the county has a garnishment notice for Carpenter's back taxes and the commission voted to have the county attorney determine if the $400 a month Carpenter is paid as commissioner meets the legal threshold for garnishment of wages.

In other actions, the commission voted to seek local legislation in the next session of the Georgia General Assembly to place Montgomery County under a county manager form of government.  The legislation would replace an existing county ordinance which earlier authorized a county manager.

It also awarded a $14,000 contract to Johnny Smith Paving of Wrightsville to pave the new sheriff's office parking lot in Mount Vernon.

 

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October 31--  The Sweet Onion City was filled with trick-or-treaters for the goblin gathering and costume contest hosted by the Downtown Vidalia Association.

Scariest - Braydon Davis {mosimage}

Best Overall - Hudson Deloach & Kylie McCoy {mosimage}

Group Winner - The Wubben & Albin families {mosimage}

Age Nine & Up - 1st Emma Stephens (r), 2nd Chasity Oliver (l) and 3rd Audrey Nettles (center){mosimage}

Ages 5-8  -  1st Ava Grace NeSmith (center), 2nd Kaden Bruce (l) and 3rd Jackson Allen (r) {mosimage}

Ages 0-4 (l-r)  - 1st Peyton Williams, 2nd Kash Waller and 3rd Cason Barnard.{mosimage}

October 30--  A Superior Court judge from Dublin will decide how local option sales tax (LOST) revenue will be divided for the next ten years among Toombs County and the towns of Vidalia, Lyons and Santa Claus.

{mosimage}Judge Gibbs Flanders conducted a nearly ten-hour hearing Tuesday at the Toombs County courthouse on the first LOST case in the state to make it to court.

The Toombs County commission wants a bigger share of sales tax collections and has been unable to get it after negotiation and mediation sessions with the towns.

After hearing arguments from both sides, Judge Flanders has to decide on one of three options presented at the hearing.

He can approve an offer from Lyons and Santa Claus to leave the distribution the same as it is now with the county and Vidalia each getting 42.17%, Lyons  14.66% and Santa Claus 1%.

Another option is to approve the Vidalia offer which keeps everything the same until 2017 when the county's share would start being reduced by just over one percent and end up in 2022 at 38%, an overall reduction of just over 4%

The third choice is the county's proposal to increase its share by almost 10% starting in three years.

Former Toombs County manager Doug Eaves, who now consults for other counties in LOST cases, testified for Toombs County and was accused by lawyers for the cities of inflating Toombs County population figures in order to justify an increase.

County Commission Chairman Buddy West says the county went to court because, "It's all about tax equity.  We represent all the citizens of the county and when you get an unbiased third party maybe we can get a true answer for what we've been seeking."

Michael Brown of Savannah, a former city manager and adviser to cities, testified for the towns and claimed city residents are subsidizing county services to residents who live in unincorporated parts of Toombs County while paying 65% of all county property taxes.

Vidalia Mayor Ronnie Dixon believes the city had a good day in court. "I think we presented our case.  We're trying to do the right thing.  We're not asking for a whole lot of money, in fact, in the beginning we wanted to leave it like it is now.  We presented an offer we thought was fair and wanted to get at least what we're getting now and no less," he said.

Officials estimate the local governments are spending up to $80,000 in tax money to resolve the issue.

According to Mayor Dixon, "The taxpayers are having to pay for it and we could have avoided this if we had sat down and worked it out."

However, Chairman West believes it's money well spent. "What's the price of doing something right?  This is a ten-year decision and if it's made right, then it's well worth it," he believes.

Judge Flanders is expected to render a decision in the case before the end of the year.  The new distribution scheme will take effect January 1 and continue through 2022.

 

 

{mosimage}October 29-- Altamaha EMC lineman load their bucket trucks with supplies and equipment late Saturday night.  They departed Sunday morning for Maryland where they will assist with power restoration efforts following Hurricane Sandy.  Pictured (L-R) are:  Raymond Strickland, Frank Stokes, Dennis Morris, Jesse Lowther and Wil Ledford.

Their assignment is to help crews at Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO) repair the damages after the storm passes through the area.  SMECO serves over 152,000 members in 4 Maryland counties:  Prince George’s, Charles, St. Mary’s and Calvert.  A crew from Altamaha EMC aided SMECO in August of 2011 following Hurricane Irene.

In addition to the 5 linemen from Altamaha, approximately 85 electric linemen and a large contingent of equipment from 11 electric cooperatives in Georgia are also headed to Maryland.  Some crews departed for the long journey as early as Saturday morning.  EMCs participating in the effort at this time are:  Altamaha EMC in Lyons, Carroll EMC in Carrollton, Central Georgia EMC in Jackson, Flint Energies in Reynolds, Irwin EMC in Ocilla, Jackson EMC in Jefferson, Middle Georgia EMC in Vienna, Mitchell EMC in Camilla, Snapping Shoals EMC in Covington, Southern Rivers in Barnesville and Tri-County EMC in Gray. 

According to Tammye Vaughn, Marketing & Communications Manager for Altamaha EMC, Georgia’s EMCs have been in constant contact with electric cooperatives in the path of Hurricane Sandy.  “It took just one phone call from Maryland to get our crews and equipment moving in their direction.  Being an electric cooperative means calling upon your neighbors during emergencies.  In the past, we’ve asked for and benefited from the assistance of other cooperatives when we’ve been hit by storms.  It is our duty and privilege to assist others when needed.”

Jim Wright, Vice-President of Training, Education and Safety for Georgia EMC, also serves as the Statewide Crew Assistance Coordinator for Georgia’s 42 EMCs.  Wright says, “Georgia EMC and other utilities have arranged through the Georgia Department of Public Safety Motor Carrier Compliance Division, to provide for the expedited movement of utility trucks and equipment through Georgia heading to the mid-Atlantic.  In addition to the Georgia crews headed to Maryland, we’ve also had preliminary discussions with several other states and additional crews will move out immediately if we receive their call for help.”

Destructive winds and heavy rainfall are a great threat during hurricanes.  The potential for damage from Hurricane Sandy is even greater since the impacts will extend across a widespread area, blowing electric poles and structures to the ground and knocking trees on power lines, shutting off power to many consumers.

Once in Maryland, the EMCs in Georgia will rely on their extensive experience in restoring power following a variety of weather events, including ice storms, tornadoes and hurricanes.  EMCs are prepared to send additional workers and equipment if more help is needed.

 

 

 

October 29--  Most public school officials in Georgia are asking voters to reject an amendment to the state constitution that would allow creation of a state-run charter school system.

However, supporters of the amendment say it's more important to give students options to get a better education.

The public policy group American's For Prosperity supports the amendment, according to its Georgia director Virginia Galloway.

"I am less concerned about supporting systems than I am about finding a school that will work for students.  We have one of the highest dropout rates in the nation and one of the highest rates of incarceration and those two are definitely connected," she says.

Galloway says charter schools which have been created by the state have a better record than public schools in the same communities.

"I see kids taken from a school where there is a 45% graduation rate and put in a charter school and they have a 92% graduation rate there.  This was in one of the worst areas of Atlanta.  Down in Bulloch County they have a charter school and their graduation rate is about 25% higher than the local public high school, so there really is a difference," she points out.

Critics of the amendment say it takes away local control of a school, but Galloway says it's parents who will have the authority to apply for a school charter.

"What's closer to the people, the school board or the parents in that home.  The parents are the ones who need the local control.  Almost any parent can tell you if their school is working out well for their child and if the child is motivated, challenged and served by that school.  That's not happening in a lot of cases," she says.

She also rejects the notion that for-profit companies are bad for education and notes that a private company called Omsbudmen already has more than $18 million in contracts running alternative schools for local school boards.

"Remember charter schools are normally started by parents who say we need something different in our community.  Those groups of parents aren't necessarily skilled in running a school.  I think it's awesome that the private sector has offered this service and can provide education at a lower cost than your traditioinal system school and get great results," she notes.

Voters will decide in the November 6 general election if they want to pass the amendment.

October 24--  Local merchants are being warned about the circulation of counterfeit fifty dollar bills in the Vidalia area.

Alan Thigpen at the Mount Vernon Bank says some of their customers have been burned by taking the bogus $50's.

"Based on what we've been told by people who have come in from our customer base, it's fifty dollars bills which look legit.  We have a machine that will actually catch those things, but a pen will not.  They just need to be careful taking $50 bills and if they'd like to have any checked they can bring them into the bank and we'll run them through the machine," he advises.

October 24--  A Toombs County mom is part of a Parent Advisory Council named by State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge.

{mosimage}Staci Worth has a first grader and a fourth grader in the Toombs County School System.  She attended her first council meeting last week in Atlanta.

"One of the things they said which stuck with me is that schools cannot replace the home or the family.  That said volumes to me.  If we want to raise children who are going to be good citizens, we have to be a partnership," she said.

Staci is among 36 parents from all over the state who will provide feedback to the state department of education and also work to keep their own communities informed.

"We met with Dr. Barge two different times during the day and with his staff.  We're working on a survey for parent involvement and we were also able to find out about some of the cutting edge things that are coming out in Georgia education.  All the parents there were from a variety of schools, urban schools and rural schools, and there was a variety of parents, too, grandparents, single parents, and guardians.  it was neat to get feedback from them and from the staff at the Department of Edication," Worth said.

The advisory council will serve for two years and Staci believes it's worth her time.

"I felt like we were there for a purpose.  We are a piece of the puzzle, we're not all of the puzzle, I'm not an educator, but they definitely wanted to hear what we have to say," she believes.

 

 

October 23--  The Georgia Department of Transportation is alerting motorists to upcoming one-lane traffic at the intersection of U.S. One and Highway 130 north of Lyons.

"This Monday October 29 through Thursday, November 1, motorists should prepare for possible traffic disruptions and delays due to north and southbound lane closures at the intersection of U.S. 1 and new realigned section of Georgia 130. 

The closures, which will begin on U.S. 1, will accommodate construction for a new realigned section of S.R. 130 approach to U.S. 1 and join the new realigned section of S.R. 130 to the current roadway of S.R. 130.

The new realignment of S.R. 130 will be opened to traffic Thursday, November 1, if weather permits construction to stay on schedule. The new realignment section of S.R. 130 is part of the U.S.1/S.R. 4 widening project in Toombs County.

Planned closures are as follows:

8 AM - 5 PM; Monday, October 29

Single lane closure on U.S. 1/S.R. 4 near the intersection of S.R. 130

8 AM - 7 PM Tuesday, October 30 - Thursday, November 1 Single lane closure on S.R. 130 near the intersection of U.S.1/S.R. 4

Georgia DOT crews will lead both north and southbound motorists through this work zone with a pilot vehicle while the northbound U.S. 1/S.R. 4 and S.R. 130 lane closures are in place. Motorists should pay close attention to the instructions of the flagmen and the Georgia DOT pilot vehicle and do not attempt to pass the pilot vehicle.

This is a WORK ZONE and extreme caution is necessary.  Motorists are advised to reduce speeds as they travel through this construction work zone and expect delays in this area. Message signs, barrels and/or cones will be utilized to alert the public of the upcoming changes. Drivers should be aware that personnel and equipment will be operating in close proximity to travel lanes. Because of possible lengthy delays motorists are strongly urged to use alternate routes if possible."

 

 

 

October 23--  The Augusta Chronicle is endorsing State Representative Lee Anderson of Grovetown for the 12th Congressional District seat currently held by Congressman John Barrow.  The paper's editorial board posted the following editorial in Monday's edition of the paper.

"How thoroughly fitting that Lee Anderson’s congressional campaign headquarters in Evans is in the former Strictly Country gift store at Washington and Belair. Nothing the erstwhile shop could have offered to the public, after all, could’ve been more country than Anderson himself.

His campaign signs feature a tractor. He was born and raised on the three-generation family farm in Columbia County he still operates. He went to Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College and Brewton-Parker Christian college. He’s served the Columbia County Farm Bureau for over 27 years, as a past president and current board member. He’s a member of the Georgia Cattlemen’s Association.

Lee Anderson is homegrown, down to Earth and as real and unassuming and reliable as the land he has worked all his life.

Our modern sensibilities wonder how candidates will look and sound on television and such. Our modern sensibilities, of course, are way out of alignment with the vision of our founders – who no doubt envisioned a Capitol bristling with genuine sleeves-rolled-up Americans with a bit of soil under their fingernails and homespun wisdom under their hats.

So the concern is that Anderson isn’t slick and city-polished like so many of today’s entrenched politicians, including the incumbent he’s challenging in the 12th Congressional District, John Barrow.

Then again, what’s all the polish in Washington done for us except give us a big fat shiner? The collection of careerists in Congress have sweet-talked their way completely through our wallets and into the Chinese’s, bankrupting America along the way. They’re chewing through America’s foundation as surely as a colony of termites. But we’re supposed to be afraid how an ordinary person might sound in this den of thieves? Good grief.

Shame on anyone who tries to sell you that tower of babble. But there are those in this community – reputed Republicans among them – who are trying.

The unvarnished truth is, Lee Anderson represents everything that’s right with America. Hard work and self-reliance. Faith and family. Simple dignity and wholesomeness. Restraint and humility. And, above all, the common sense not to eat one’s own seed corn.

“It’s time for us to get back to basics,” Anderson says – covering up his own photo on his website with the words “Balance the Budget.”

“I am what this district is.”

Voters have already recognized and rewarded that fact, more than once. He was elected to the Columbia County Board of Education for eight years, the Columbia County Commission for four years, and since 2008 the Georgia House of Representatives.

In contrast, his opponent represents everything that’s wrong with Washington. We noted two years ago that the Democrat was talking out of both sides of his mouth – having sent mailers to one group of voters claiming he was working hand-in-hand with Barack Obama, but sending another mailer to other voters saying he’s standing up to the Democratic leaders in Congress. Talk about wanting it both ways!

He’s no more coherent in 2012: Despite trying to sell himself in ads as an independent, Barrow sent out a Democratic fundraising letter bragging that “I have supported the President and the Democratic leadership 85 percent of the time.”

Does that sound like the 12th District of Georgia to you?

However Lee Anderson comes off on camera, you can bet he won’t have two faces.

“I consider myself to be a work horse, not a show horse,” he says.

It’s beyond us why the district chose to be represented in 2010 by someone who has to vote against his party in order to represent his voters. Lee Anderson won’t have that problem.

It’s time to get real in Washington. It’s time to send a reliable conservative there – not to pose pretty, but to vote steady.

Elect Lee Anderson to Congress."

 

October 22--  The mayor of Uvalda is facing obstruction of justice charges following a contentious city council meeting last week.

Uvalda Police Chief Lewis Smith filed the charges against Mayor Paul Bridges because the mayor refused to leave the meeting when directed to do so by the chief at the request of the city council.  Officials say Councilman Jeff Dopson wanted the council to meet in executive session to discuss ongoing problems with Mayor Bridges.

Earlier this year the council voted to strip away the Mayor's authority to oversee city operations and most recently instructed city attorney Tom Everett not to respond to requests for legal advice from Mayor Bridges.

Ironically, a representative from the Georgia Municipal Association was at the meeting to brief the mayor and council on Georgia's new open meetings and open records act.  Pam Helton says she advised the mayor to leave because the council could take no votes in executive session.  She says she's unsure if it's legal for the council to meet in executive session without the mayor because, "I'm not sure this has ever happened before."  Since Mayor Bridges refused to leave, the executive session never occurred.

Also present at the meeting was Graham Mayor Bob Fogarty who asked Mayor Bridges to cease making racism charges against Chief Smith who is also a parttime police officer in Graham.  Fogarty says a Graham citizen complained that Bridges called her and alleged Smith gives more tickets to Hispanics and blacks than to others. Graham Police Chief Kenneth Flowers accompanied Mayor Fogarty to Uvalda and said a count of tickets issued in Graham does not support Mayor Bridges' accusations.

Chief Smith says he is considering filing a civil slander suit against Mayor Bridges.  The mayor, meanwhile, reported to the Montgomery County Sheriff's office and posted a $1,500 bond in the obstruction case.

 

October 22-- U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., today announced that Jared Downs, his regional director for Southeast Georgia, will hold an open office day for constituents Thursday,  Oct. 25, 2012, in Vidalia.

Downs, along with Kathryn Murph, regional representative for U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss, will be available on Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012, from 4 p.m. until 5 p.m. at the Vidalia Municipal Annex, 302 First Street East, Vidalia, Ga. 30474.

Isakson encourages constituents to come talk with Downs about any issues concerning the federal government, federal legislation or federal agencies, such as Veterans Affairs, the IRS, Medicare, or the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services.

“This open office day will help ensure that the views, concerns and local efforts of all Georgians are reflected in the operation of our office,” said Isakson.

As a regional director, Downs is responsible for overseeing day-to-day activities in his region and acting as a representative for Isakson when he is unable to personally attend events in the area.

 

October 22--  The Vidalia Police Department issued the following news release Monday regarding two drug arrests last Friday in Vidalia. 

"On the afternoon of October 19, 2012, officers and investigators of the Vidalia Police Department, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and the East Central Drug Task Force executed a search warrant at 405 East Second Street in Vidalia Georgia.

The execution of the search warrant was a result of several months of investigation based off of complaints of illegal drug activity occurring at the residence. An estimated $915.00 worth of methamphetamine, controlled substance, and marijuana was seized along with $495.00 of suspected drug money, and a handgun was found to be inside the residence

The search warrant resulted in the arrest of two adults. James “Jimmy” Lee Partin, Age 30 of 405 West Second Street in Vidalia Georgia was taken into custody and charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance, Possession of Methamphetamine, Manufacturing Methamphetamine, Possession of Marijuana less than an ounce, Possession of a Firearm during the Commission of a Crime, and Possession of a firearm by a Convicted Felon. Mallory Nadine Allen Partin, Age 23 of 407 West Second Street in Vidalia, Georgia was taken into custody and charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance, Possession of Methamphetamine, Manufacturing Methamphetamine, Possession of Marijuana less than an ounce, and Possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.

Chief Frank Waits would like to express his appreciation to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, East Central Drug Task Force, and the District Attorney’s Office of the Middle Judicial Circuit for all their assistance with the investigation. The investigation is still ongoing and more arrests are suspected to follow."

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October 22--  Vidalia's newest veterinary clinic, the Four Rivers Veterinary Center, held its ribbon-cutting last week.  The center is in the former Montgomery County Bank location on Highway 292 West in Vidalia and is owned and operated by Dr. Chuck Faulk, a 1993 graduate of Vidalia High School.

October 19--  The Vidalia High School One-Act Play Cast and Crew won the Region 2AA Literary One-Act Play Competition held at Irwin County High School on Thursday for their production of Bell, Book, and Candle

Chanta Robinson won the award for Best Supporting Actress, and Caroline Smith won the All-Star Cast Award. 

The cast and crew will advance to state competition on Saturday, October 27 at Warner Robins High School. 

See the Award-Winning Production 

The cast and crew will be presenting the community performances for their region championship-winning production at the Pal Theatre in downtown Vidalia on Monday, October 22, and Tuesday, October 23, at 7:00.  Admission is $5.00, and tickets may be purchased at the door. 

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Front Row (from left to right): Chambria Harrison, Jose Lopez

Second Row (from left to right): Logan Riddles, Emily Combs, Evan Clark, and Emily Arnold

Third Row (from left to right): Tori Fabacher, Sarah Flanders, Kelsey Hinton, Jennifer Jones, David Roberts, Cassidy Long, Taylor Fabacher, Margaret Wolfe, Kennedy Wright, Caroline Smith, Maja Mitchell, Victoria Strange, Margaret Pournelle, Stephanie Stanley, Tanisha Bowles, Adrianna Collins

Fourth Row (from left to right): Ben Wolfe, Hunter Mitchell, Kelsey Thigpen, Trace Calloway, Aly Helms, Breanna Spence, John Victor Wolfe, Chanta Robinson, Elizabeth Holman Back Row: Chris Garza

October 19-- State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge today named 50 students from around Georgia to serve on his 2012-2013 Student Advisory Council.  As members of the council, these students will meet two times throughout the school year to advise Superintendent Barge on how state policies are having an impact in the classroom. The Student Advisory Council will also discuss other education-related issues and will serve as the Superintendent's ambassadors in their respective schools. 

"The Student Advisory Council allows me to hear directly from students in our schools and discuss major initiatives with them," Superintendent Barge said. "The Council also gives students the opportunity to share with me their ideas and concerns, which we can use to shape future state policies.”

More than 750 students from 121 districts applied to be a member of the Student Advisory Council and answered essay questions. Students were chosen based on the strength of their essay answers.

"It was very difficult to choose the members of the Student Advisory Council because there were so many great applications," Superintendent Barge said. "I’m excited about working with this group of students because I know they will be prepared to share their ideas to make education work for all students.”

The first meeting of the Student Advisory Council will be held Nov. 28 at the state Department of Education offices in Atlanta.   

Name

Brendan Bell

School System

Henry

High School

Stockbridge High School

Donnie Pulliam

Liberty

Liberty County High

Allison Walls

Hall

Flowery Branch High

Sheena McEachin

Jackson

East Jackson High

Jesus Ontiveros

Statewide

School for the Deaf

Cole Harper

Irwin

Irwin County High

Ezra Hall

Cartersville

Cartersville City High

Alexander Pegues

Houston

Houston County High

A'Ja Johnson

Lamar

Lamar County High

Eliza Kate Leiter

Cobb

Pebblebrook High

Joshua Lewis

Dekalb

Cross Keys High School

Abbey Padgett

Richmond

Westside Comprehensive

Jamesia Robinson

Atlanta Public Schools

Henry W. Grady High

Faith Strickland

Coweta

East Coweta High

Christian Griffiths

Camden

Camden County High

Staley Reed

Oconee

North Oconee High

Dionne Black

Fulton

Creekside High

Brianna Barkley

Rockdale

Salem High School

Juliann Watson

Jefferson City

Jefferson City High

Ethan Perkins

Bulloch

Southeast Bulloch High

Wensday Sailers

GA Cyber Acad.

GA Cyber Acad./K12

Jena Lane

Carroll

Bowden High

Maggie Rollins

Columbia

Greenbriar High

Charles Chang

Gwinnett

Brookwood High

Jasmine Reese

Emanuel

Emanuel County Institute

Kayla McGhee

Morgan

Morgan County High

Allison Woody

Lumpkin

Lumpkin County High

Alexandra Wang

Lowndes

Lowndes County High School

Morgan Akridge

Stephens

Stephens County High School

Millie Collins

Bleckley

Bleckley County High School

Destini Shelton

Douglas

Chappel Hill High School

Benjamin Weinhardt

Fayette

Sandy Creek High School

Jordan Cown

Walton

Walnut Grove High School

Erin Wolf

Putnam

Putnam County High School

Rani Tilva

Cherokee

Woodstock High School

Jim Beatty

Oglethorpe

Oglethorpe County High

Jamar Feggins

Muscogee

Jordan Vocational High School

Fabian Kopp

Bibb

Central High School

Zachary Grimsley

Pulaski

Hawkinsville High School

Sanquez Fair

Long

Long County High School

Faithe Robinson

Towns

Towns County High School

Hezikiah Johnson IV

Dougherty

Westover High School

Gresham Conway

Jenkins

Jenkins County High School

Tyler Heath

Treutlen

Treutlen County High School

Alice Francis

Union

Union County High School

Sarah Pounds

Jones

Jones County High School

Bobbi Owens

Thomas

Thomas County Central High

Christian Hopper

Cartersville

Cartersville City High

Ashton Hosta

Thomaston-Upson

Upson Lee High School

 

 

Vidalia Heritage Academy Students Are Harvard Bound

by Headmaster Jeff McCormick

October 18-- When Vidalia Heritage Academy began its high school program last year we set our goals high and have now achieved what some thought impossible. In just its second year of existence, the high school at Vidalia Heritage Academy has had five of its students selected to participate in the Harvard Model Congress.

Those selected are 10th grader Jaeda Bragg and 9th graders Kaylee Randolph, Makayla Martin, Harley Statum and Logan McQueen.

Harvard Model Congress in Boston takes place February 20-24, 2013 and is our nation's premier government simulation experience for high school students.  This conference has grown to become the largest high school US government simulation in the world, bringing together more than 1,600 of the brightest high school students from all over the country. Entirely run by Harvard University students, the conference simulates the workings of the United States Congress.  By providing an opportunity to see how policy is created, bills are passed, and how Congress functions, the Harvard Model Congress allows high school students to serve as Representatives, Senators, White House Staffers, Cabinet Members, Congressional Media, and Lobbyists.

“We are incredibly proud of our Model Congress students and at the same time humbled and privileged that in just two short years we have been chosen to be a part of something so prestigious”, says Jeff McCormick, VHA Headmaster.  “Plus, with our initial trip we are guaranteed selection each subsequent year so we could have some of our high school students attend the Harvard Model Congress four years in a row. That looks incredible on any college application.”

Vidalia Heritage Academy’s classical education approach equips their students to think, to organize their thoughts into viable presentations, and then defend their positions. According to McCormick, “There is no better way to do that than to have them involved in Model Congress. I can think of no better way to positively influence our communities, our state, and our nation with a biblical worldview than to have them involved with the political process at an early age.” VHA has confidence in all of their students and will send this group of five prepared to learn and prepared to share as they know this is not just an educational field trip but a mission trip.

The estimated cost of attendance is $1000 per student but the school’s delegation is trying to reduce the cost by actively fundraising. If you are interested in making a donation to the VHA Model Congress team or for more information about the trip, contact Jeff McCormick at 912-537-6679 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

October 18--  A Lyons businessman and civic leader is denying allegations by three former employees that he engaged in "sexually-oriented inappropriate conduct and unconsented physical contact."

Thriftway CEO Michael Grimes says "It's not true" that he engaged in such behavior with three female cashiers who quit their jobs in August and September.  

The three have filed civil suits under Georgia's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.

Twenty-year-old Jessica Beasley was employed more than five years and alleges Grimes engaged in sexual advances on multiple occasions before she quit after he "touched her inappropriately" on September 6.

Other instances are alleged by 19-year-old Skylar Moore, who worked at the store for more than four years and left in September, and 20-year-old Chelsea White who was employed for a year before leaving in August.

The trio is represented by Soperton attorney Keith Pollette who requested and was granted a temporary injunction by Superior Court Judge Kathy Palmer.  The injunction prohibits transfer of any of Grimes' assets and orders him to stay away from and not communicate with any of the three women.

Judge Palmer has scheduled a hearing for November 9th regarding continuance of the injunction.

The trio seeks a jury trial in Toombs County Superior Court and compensatory and punitive damages in the millions of dollars.

Grimes says he will be represented in the case by Statesboro attorney Susan Cox.  

Meanwhile, Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker says his department is "looking into the allegations to determine if there have been any criminal violations." 

Grimes was named the "Lyons Citizen of the Year" in 2008 and was elected to the Toombs County school board this year with no opposition.

October 17-- The Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) released its schools’ 2011 and 2012 statistics for graduate totals and job placement rates earlier this month, and Southeastern Technical College ranked in the top seven in job placement.

“Despite the stagnant job market in Georgia, STC continues to excel in its placement of students,” said Lance Helms, director of career services at Southeastern Tech. “It's a testimony to STC and technical education in the work place arena. STC is becoming a first choice to more high school students each and every year.”

Southeastern Tech’s total placement rate for 2011 was 99.1 percent, higher than 19 of the technical colleges in the state. Of those same graduates, 88.2 percent were placed in a job in their chosen field.

“Our graduates have obtained the knowledge and skills needed to become a productive member of the workforce,” said Karen Vereen, STC’s registrar. “We are proud of all of them and salute them for their hard work and dedication.”

Southeastern Tech graduated a total of 657 students from its Summer Transition Quarter in 2011 up to the summer semester of this year. This number is down from the previous year, though the college’s move from quarters to semesters since then made the decrease not entirely unexpected.

“Instead of having four exit and graduation points throughout an academic year, we now only have three,” said Dr. Barry Dotson, vice president of student affairs at Southeastern Tech. “With fewer cohorts graduating in a given year, this would account for the slight percentage decrease in our number of graduates.”

October 16--  A company which provides cell phone service was busy in Vidalia Tuesday handing out free cellphones to poor people and those on government assistance.

{mosimage}Representatives from Life Wireless set up a tent on North Street and began seeing a steady stream of patrons.

Paul Donsky with Life Wireless says, "Several years ago the government expanded the program to help subsidize the cost of cellphone bills.  We actually go into communities with our tents and attract lots of people who otherwise would never have known about this government benefit which has been around for decades."

The program was actually started in 1985 by the Federal Communications Commission to provide telephone service to low income citizens.  In 1996, Congress created the Universal Service Fund allowing phone companies to charge customers to help pay for the program and this year the program was modified to include cell phone service.

"There's no tax money involved.  The cellphones themselves are paid for by the cellphone companies.  The Lifeline program just covers the monthly bill," according to Donsky.

Life Wireless receives up to ten dollars a month from the Universal Service Fund for each customer it enrolls.

"We've had customers who've gone years and said they had to use phones at their next door neighbor's house.  I don't know what it's like down in Vidalia, but there are fewer and fewer pay phones and you're pretty lost without one," Donsky observes.

One new customer says it's her first free cellphone.  "That's why I'm trying to get one now.  It's going to help me a lot, I'll be able to call people," she said.

October 16-- The State of Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division (EPD) has withdrawn King America Finishing’s (KAF) water pollution permit today, and is requiring the company to perform an anti-degradation analysis.

EPD had issued the permit in August 2012 after heated opposition by the public and Ogeechee Riverkeeper (ORK), who challenged the State on the basis that the draft permit would allow excessive amounts of ammonia and other toxic chemicals to be released into the Ogeechee River. On September 7, 2012, Ogeechee Riverkeeper filed a permit appeal in the Office of State Administrative Hearings stating the permit continued to allow King America Finishing to pollute the river.

With the appeal and subsequent withdrawal of the permit, Ogeechee Riverkeeper has successfully forced EPD to do a careful analysis of whether the degradation of water quality KAF’s permit allows is justified. “We appreciate that EPD is going to undertake a review of this permit to see whether the pollution this plant causes makes sense given the huge environmental impact it has,” says Hutton Brown, attorney with Greenlaw who is representing Ogeechee Riverkeeper.  “We hope that EPD will use this opportunity to require that KAF eliminate any pollutants from going into the river.” The Ogeechee River experienced the largest fish kill in Georgia’s history last year and it has still not fully recovered from that devastation. Wildlife and fish sightings are rare and people are afraid to recreate along the river for fear of toxic pollution.

Don Stack of Stack & Associates, another environmental law firm also representing Ogeechee Riverkeeper says, “We appreciate that the State has finally recognized its latest error in a long series of errors in permitting any discharge from KAF without following the legally required procedures to determine the effects that those discharges will have on the precious Ogeechee River.  However, it is truly amazing and very disheartening that the citizens of this State must engage in protracted litigation to force the State itself, let alone the polluter, to obey the law.  The citizens and the River continue to pay the price for the State’s failure to adequately preserve and protect its natural resources.” 

Codified as part of Georgia’s water quality standards, Georgia’s Anti-Degradation Policy states in part:

“Where the quality of the waters exceed levels necessary to support propagation of fish, shellfish, and wildlife and recreation in and on the water, that quality shall be maintained and protected unless the division finds, after full satisfaction of the intergovernmental coordination and public participation provisions of the division’s continuing planning process, that allowing lower water quality is necessary to accommodate important economic or social development in the area in which the waters are located. In allowing such degradation or lower water quality, the division shall assure that there shall be achieved the highest statutory and regulatory requirements for all new and existing point sources…” Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. r. 391-3-6-.03(2)(b)(ii)

“We are glad the state of Georgia has decided to take King America Finishing’s pollution seriously,” states Dianna Wedincamp, Ogeechee Riverkeeper. “The discharge limits of toxic chemicals by KAF’s permit would cause irreparable harm to the fragile ecosystem of this blackwater river, and allowing KAF to add effluent equaling 10% of the flow of the river is outrageous. We hope the anti-degradation analysis will show that allowing KAF to dump toxins into the Ogeechee at any level is absolutely unacceptable.” 

Because the permit has been withdrawn by the Environmental Protection Division, Ogeechee Riverkeeper will be submitting an order to the court dismissing their current permit appeal. There is always the opportunity to file another appeal if an unsatisfactory permit is issued again.

 

October 16-- Monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for nearly 62 million Americans will increase 1.7 percent in 2013, the Social Security Administration announced today.

The 1.7 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits that more than 56 million Social Security beneficiaries receive in January 2013.  Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 31, 2012.

Some other changes that take effect in January of each year are based on the increase in average wages.  Based on that increase, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $113,700 from $110,100.  Of the estimated 163 million workers who will pay Social Security taxes in 2013, nearly 10 million will pay higher taxes as a result of the increase in the taxable maximum. 

Information about Medicare changes for 2013, when announced, will be available at www.Medicare.gov.  For some beneficiaries, their Social Security increase may be partially or completely offset by increases in Medicare premiums.  

The Social Security Act provides for how the COLA is calculated.  To read more, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/cola

 

October 15--  During "Domestic Violence Awareness Month," the Refuge Domestic Violence Shelter believes you can do something to stop the violence.  It is sponsoring a showing of the movie "Sin by Silence" Monday night, October 22, at seven o'clock at the Calvary on Aimwell Church in Vidalia and invites you to attend.

Betty Dell Williams, Executive Director of The Refuge, provides insights into the scope of the domestic violence problem.

"October is designated as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. There are many facts about domestic violence of which most people are unaware. Did you know that 1 out of every 5 victims of domestic violence (DV) will not report the crime? An estimated 1.3 million women will experience DV in their lifetime.

"Did you know that children from violent homes suffer from many problems such as depression, fear, anxiety and loss of hope for the future? They may also suffer from social isolation and aggression and they may have difficulty making friends. Many also have physical ailments, and trouble in school due to violence or delinquency.

"These children many times continue to suffer these problems as adults. This is why it is so crucial that these children receive help at an early age. Witnessing violence between one’s parents is the strongest risk factor for becoming an abuser as an adult. Boys who witness abuse are twice as likely to abuse their own partners or children when they become adults.

"In this day and age, it is easier than ever for an abuser to control their victim through the use of current technology. An abuser can use technology such as cell phones, e-mail, texting and online social networks to control, monitor, or harass victims. They may use cell phones to send an excessive number of messages, calls or pages to the victim or to monitor the victim’s whereabouts or activities.

"They may also coerce the victim into “sexting” and check the phone regularly for information. Social networking sites, such as Facebook, may also be used by the posting of inappropriate information or threats of using the site to humiliate or degrade the victim. This is yet another reason that we must continue the fight against domestic violence. No one deserves to be treated in this manner.

"We must not allow any kind of abuse to go un-checked and we must all be on our guard and alert to the signs of domestic violence and sexual assault in our community. To better help you do that, The Refuge has designed a presentation which we will present, free of charge, to your place of employment, or to your civic or religious group. It is not only informative, but is very interesting as well.

"Our community has unfortunately been severely affected by domestic violence and has even seen two deaths from it in recent years. By working together, being educated and reaching out, we can help stop the violence and let those affected know there is help and many re-sources dedicated to making them free from abuse.

"As you are enjoying the month of October, please take a moment to remember the many victims of domestic violence and consider partnering with us by scheduling a Refuge presentation for your group.

"As always, we will continue the fight by offering aid and assistance to all domestic violence victims. Please call us at 912-538-9936. God bless you all."

 

 

 

October 15--  Retired educators in Toombs County are urging voters to reject an amendment to the Georgia constitution allowing the state to establish charter schools.

Shelly Smith of Vidalia is the former director of the Regional Education Service Agency which provides expertise and support to 20 counties in southeast Georgia.

She worked in public education for 41 years and says voters need to know for-profit companies stand to benefit most if the amendment is approved by voters in November.

"The charter schools that would be created are primarily for profit.  The funding for the politicians who are pushing this as well as funding for the campaign is coming from outside the state, tens of thousands of dollars from out of state corporations that want to run for profit schools in Georgia.  The issue that runs against the grain for me is that taxpayer money will be diverted from public schools to run those charter schools," she notes.

Smith believes its wrong for the state to create a for profit parallel school system while for years it has been shortchanging public schools.

"With the austerity cuts we've been having here in Georgia, school systems have been receiving only 50 to 60 percent of what they earn to fund public education.  The charter schools would receive the same number of dollars per child that a local school system is due to receive but they would receive the entire amount and to make matters worse, it will come out of the local coffers," Smith says.

Smith believes charter schools are a good thing, but only if they are created and operated by local school boards accountable to local voters.  She says they should not be run by five people appointed by politicians in Atlanta.

 

October 12--The Diocese of Savannah has filed suit in federal court seeking to block the Health and Human Services mandate that would force religious employers to provide medical services in violation of their religious beliefs.

 

The Archdiocese of Atlanta, Christ the King Catholic School in Atlanta and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Atlanta joined in the lawsuit. Named as defendants are the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The lawsuit was filed October 5 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia Atlanta Division.

 

With this action, the Catholic Church in Georgia joins more than 50 other dioceses, schools, hospitals, social service agencies and other institutions that have filed suit in federal court to stop these three government agencies from implementing a mandate that would require them to cover and provide for free contraceptives and sterilization in their health plans.

 

Bishop Gregory John Hartmayer, OFM Conv. commented, "Our challenge to the federal mandate is not about whether people in this country should have access to the services covered by the mandate; but rather, it is about the fundamental issue of whether the government may force religious institutions and individuals to fund services which violate our religious and moral beliefs.

 

The Diocese of Savannah has filed the suit because the federal government is requiring religious organizations, under penalty of law, to provide, pay for, and/or facilitate access to abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception in violation of their religious beliefs.

 

The lawsuit states, "Plantiffs acknowledge that individuals in this country have a legal right to these medical services; they are, and will continue to be, freely available in the United States, and nothing prevents the Government itself from making them more widely available. But the right to such services does not authorize the Government to co-opt religious entities like Plantiffs into providing or facilitating access to them."

 

While the government has recognized a religious exemption to these mandates, it is so narrowly worded that many religious institutions do not qualify for it. To qualify for an exemption, a religious institution must submit to a governmental investigation into whether their "purpose" is the "inculcation of religious values," whether they "primarily" employ persons who share their religious tenets," and whether they "primarily" serve such people. Catholic schools and the social service programs of the Diocese of Savannah are open to people of all faiths and do not consider religious affiliation in hiring for most positions.

 

Bishop Hartmayer said, "We bring our heritage of faith and dedication to the poor and needy who have been served by the agencies of the Catholic Church in Georgia with generosity and commitment since 1850. We become one more voice that must be heard by the courts as they consider the legality of this action."

October 12-- Gov. Nathan Deal announced today that Georgia’s net tax collections for the month of September totaled $1.59 billion for an increase of $59.5 million, or 3.9 percent, compared to September 2011. Through the first quarter of this year, net revenue collections totaled $4.2 billion — an increase of $175 million, or 4.3 percent, compared to last year.

“This trend of revenue growth for the ninth consecutive quarter alongside several other solid economic indicators proves we are moving in the right direction,” said Deal. “Because there is still a lot of room for improvement, we will maintain a cautiously optimistic economic outlook for the state over the next several months.”

The following changes within the various tax categories led to the overall net revenue increases in September:
 
Individual Income Tax: Individual Income Tax collections for September totaled $827 million — up from $812 million in September 2011—for an increase of $15 million, or 1.9 percent.

The following notable components within Individual Income Tax account for the increase:
 
•      Individual Withholding payments were up $24 million, or 3.7 percent
•      Individual Estimated payments were up $1.25 million, or 0.9 percent
•      Individual Income Tax refunds (net of voided checks) were down $3.75 million, or -11 percent
•      All other Individual Income Tax categories combined for a decrease of $14 million

Sales and Use Tax: Net Sales and Use Tax collections for September totaled $459.5 million — up from $441 million in September 2011 — for an increase of $18.5 million, or 4.2 percent. The monthly Sales Tax distribution to local governments totaled nearly $389 million, which was a decrease of $6.5 million, or -1.6 percent, compared to last year’s distribution.

Corporate Income Tax: Corporate Income Tax collections for September increased $17 million, or 12.8 percent, from $133 million in September 2011 to $150 million in September of this year.

The following notable components within Corporate Income Tax make up the increase:
•      Corporate Tax Estimated payments were up $41.5 million, or 43.4 percent

•      Corporate Tax Return and S-Corp payments were down a combined $29.5 million

•      All other Corporate Tax categories (including refunds) combined for an increase of $5 million

October 12--  A lifelong Democrat and former chairman of the Montgomery County Commission has left the Democrat Party and moved to the Republican ranks as a matter of conscience.

Commissioner Brandon Braddy informed fellow commissioners of his decision at the October meeting of the county commission and explained why.

"I can't be part of a Party that's going to reject God.  On September 5th at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, they had a vote on the floor of the convention to insert 'God' and 'Jerusalem' back into the platform.  The moderator had to call for the vote three times because there were so many who were against it.  If they had taken a show of hands vote, I'm not sure they would have had even a simple majority.  I'm just concerned about that because if there's a time we need God in our country, we need him now more than ever before.  I just can't be attached to a Party which just rejected him flat out on the floor of the convention," Braddy said.

"My conscience just really bothered me about remaining a Democrat.  I contacted the Montgomery Republican Party and filed the appropriate paperwork to finish out the remainder of my term as a Republican.  I'm grateful to Mike Gibbs and his team for allowing me do that.  This is a decision me and my family made together and I'm thankful that I did it," he concluded.

October 11- Dr. Barry Dotson, the Vice President for Student Affairs at Southeastern Technical College, has been named to the University of Georgia’s first Vice President for Instruction Advisory Council, according to Laura Jolly, Vice President for Instruction at the University of Georgia.

{mosimage}"Barry maintains a strong commitment to the success of undergraduate students, not only in his official capacity with Southern Technical College, but also with his alma mater," said Laura Jolly, UGA's Vice President for Instruction.

The Vice President's Advisory Council for Instructional Excellence at the University of Georgia serves as a sounding board for instructional programmatic initiatives through the Office of the Vice President of Instruction (OVPI) involving the academic enhancement of the student experience at UGA.

Dotson has been employed with Southeastern Tech since 1994 and is the second longest-serving vice president of the Technical College System of Georgia’s 26 schools. He has a Doctorate in Education Administration from the University of Georgia and a Master’s Degree in Higher Education from Georgia Southern University, as well as a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of Georgia. 

He is a native of Toombs County and active in the local community.  He was a member of the charter class of the Leadership Toombs (now Leadership Toombs-Montgomery) program through the Toombs-Montgomery Chamber of Commerce. He was also a charter member of the Ambassador program and served as Junior Chamber Leadership Advisor for several years.  He has served on the Board of Directors of the Vidalia Onion Festival Committee, the Vidalia Christmas Parade Committee, and the Vidalia Tourism Council.  He served as Co-Chair of the Toombs County Centennial Committee. 

He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Toombs-Montgomery Crimestoppers, the Toombs-Montgomery-Wheeler United Way, the Altamaha-Heart of Georgia Workforce Investment Board, and the University of Georgia Alumni Association.

"He is a strong supporter of the UGA Alumni Association and makes sure to get in touch with Vidalia area students at UGA whenever he visits Athens,” said Jolly. “Valued for his breadth of experience and commitment to supporting undergraduate education, we are pleased to have Barry on board as a member of UGA's OVPI Advisory Council."

 

 

October 9--  The Atlanta Business Chronicle reports the CEO of Oxford Industries is retiring but will retain his position as Chairman of the Board.

"Oxford Industries Inc.’s long-time CEO J. Hicks Lanier will retire at the end of the year and be replaced by Thomas C. Chubb III.

{mosimage}Lanier, who has been Oxford CEO for 35 years, will remain chairman of the board following his retirement as CEO on Dec. 31.

Chubb is Atlanta-based Oxford’s president. He came to Oxford (NYSE: OXM) as a summer intern in 1988 and joined the company full time as an in-house attorney in 1989. He was promoted to general counsel in 1999. He became executive vice president in 2004. In 2009, he was promoted to his present position as Oxford’s president.

“I am delighted to pass the torch to Tom, whose management capabilities and experience have prepared him well to lead Oxford now and in the future,” Lanier said, in a statement. “Tom has played a central role in our strategic and operational plans, particularly over the pivotal past decade as we have evolved into the brand-centric company we are today. He has provided key leadership in all of the significant transactions we’ve completed during this time, from the purchase of Tommy Bahama in 2003 through the acquisition of Lilly Pulitzer in 2010, all transactions which were critical to Oxford’s transformation.”

October 8--  The city of Vidalia is investigating running some of its police cars on propane gas.

At Monday night's city council meeting, City Manager Bill Torrance was given the go-ahead to investigate converting up to six police cars to propane gas to save money.

With the price of gas at current levels, Torrance estimates the city could save more than $16,000 per year after recouping one-time conversion charges of $6,300 per vehicle.

In other actions, the council tabled a recommendation to pay entry fees for four city officials to play in this year's Chamber of Commerce golf tournament.  Torrance said the payment could be interpreted as a gratuity to the chamber and intimated it could be a point of contention "at the end of this month."  The city and the county have a court hearing October 30th to determine how sales tax revenue will be divided among Toombs County and it's three municipalities.

The council okayed purchase of a used backhoe for $59,000.  It also approved, pending legal review, a no-bid deal with McLendon Entrprises to repair drainage problems in the Second and Adams Street area.  Torrance says the project could cost up to $91,000 if accomplished as a maintenance job, but could cost twice that much due to red tape and engineering charges if put out for competitive bidding.  City attorney Reid Threlkeld was asked to review the approach and provide a recommendation on its legality.     

October 8--  The murder trial of a man accused of killing a Toombs County teenager in Florida over a year ago has been delayed.

According to Assistant State Attorney Bobby Elmore, one of the defense attorneys for 23-year-old Steven Cozzie withdrew from the case and his new lawyer was granted a continuance.  The trial had been scheduled to start this week in Walton County Court in Defuniak Springs, Florida.

Cozzie is accused of killing 15-year-old Courtney Wilkes on June 16th, 2011 while she was on vacation with her family in Seagrove Beach.  

A hearing is scheduled November 1 to set a new trial date.  The prosecution is seeking the death penalty in the case. 

October 8-- The BPC Women’s Fellowship at Brewton-Parker College is hosting its 1st Annual Baron Bash fundraiser on the Mount Vernon Campus from 10 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 10.  Many departments, programs and student organizations will be involved in the event that will feature fun, food, and games for children and adults of all ages.

There will be many activities during the day including a chili cook-off, Scottish games for adults and children, Math & Science Festival, children’s arcade, pictures with Santa Claus, local entertainment, Montgomery County Elementary School art show, face painting, hay rides, Historic Village tours, paddle boat rides, a fire truck and race car to explore, plus a craft and lawn sale. There will also be hotdogs, drinks, and popcorn available.

Spaces are available for the yard sale and entries are being taken for the chili cook-off. For more information, or if you have questions, contact Bonnie Simoneaux at 912-583-4700 or Jennifer Blaylock at 912-583-3202

October 8-- The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) announced today that some long-term unemployed workers may be eligible for additional Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) in Georgia after Sunday, Oct. 7. The GDOL is mailing notifications to those who may be eligible and instructing them to begin filing for benefits.

EUC was established in 2008 to aid the long-term unemployed. Federal law mandates that a state in which EUC is provided must have a three-month seasonally adjusted unemployment average of 9.0 percent to qualify for the EUC Tier 4 program. This program allows extended benefits for individuals who have exhausted first, second, and third tiers of EUC and have no potential eligibility for regular unemployment insurance benefits.

Georgia will “trigger on” EUC’s Tier 4 unemployment insurance program during the week beginning Oct. 7 because the state’s average jobless rate has risen in the last three months, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Georgia’s unemployment rates for June, July, and August have averaged 9.2 percent.

During the week ending July 7, Georgia “triggered off” the program because the state’s jobless rate had declined below 9.0 percent during the three-month period, which included March, April, and May. Georgia’s jobless rate was 9.0 percent in March, but dropped to 8.9 percent in April and May. 

For additional information, visit the GDOL website at www.dol.state.ga.us.

 

The Real Squeal: Lyons Barbeque & Music Festival

by Alexa Carter Britton

October 3-- Lyons Better Hometown is hosting its 3rd annual Kansas City Barbeque Society sanctioned barbeque cook-off October 12th & 13th in Lyons.

"The Real Squeal" Lyons Barbeque & Music Festival consists of two barbeque contests, amateur and professional.  The local amateur contest is Friday October 12th in downtown Lyons along with the Squealin’ Cruise-In, Street Dance with music by The Georgia Rhythm Band, and to cap off the evening, a fireworks display at 9:30.  See the Car Show in downtown Lyons on Saturday from 9am to 2pm.

The professional teams compete in Partin Park on Saturday October 13th where there will be many other festival events including music by Damon and the Shotkickers and the Eric Culberson Band,  a kid’s creative play area, an Indian Artifact Show and Primitive Skills Demonstrations, People’s Choice barbeque tasting, an Artisan Show,  Car Show, Corn Hole Tournament and Outdoor Expo. 

New events located outside the park on Saturday are the 1st Annual Trap & Skeet Shootout at the Quint Shrine Club and the RazorBack Mud Run. For more information on rules, fees, tickets and other activities call the Lyons Better Hometown office at 912-526-6445 or go to www.therealsqueal.com,

 

 

October 3--  The city of Lyons is buying the abandoned National Guard Armory building on South Victory Drive.

The state of Georgia is selling the building and gave Lyons first refusal, according to Lyons Mayor Willis NeSmith.

"It's just too nice a building to let it go elsewhere.  They offered it to us first and we decided we wanted to buy it," he said.

The city is paying $130,000 for the property and is considering options for its use.

"We have not made any definite decisons on it.  We have groups interested in buying or renting it from us, but we're going to take our time and try to make the right decision on that," Mayor NeSmith reports.

October 2--  The Republican candidate for the 12th Congressional District kicked off his "Tractor Tour" with a gathering at the Vidalia Onion Factory Tuesday afternoon.

{mosimage}State Representative Lee Anderson of Grovetown (right) was endorsed at the rally by State Representative Greg Morris of Vidalia.  Representative Morris said Anderson's opponent in the race, four-term Democrat Congressman John Barrow of Augusta, is not the conservative he claims to be.

"He's not a common sense conservative like he says.  It's not anything personal, it's political, but he's one of those chardonnay-sipping, Barbara Streisand ticket-holding liberals and that ain't who we want representing us.  We want somebody like Lee Anderson," Morris told the crowd.

A political blogger this week speculated that the challenger is afraid to debate the polished incumbent because of Anderson's thick southern accent.  Anderson says that's untrue.

"That's not the reason.  The reason is that John Barrow won't telll the truth.  When he will say that he's going to vote for Obama for President, then I'll consider debating him.  I'm here to tell you that I'm voting for Mitt Romney and I'm proud to have a southern accent," Anderson explained. 

With considerably less campaign money than Barrow, Anderson says he's burning shoe leather working the grassroots asking for votes.

"The people are sick and tired of Obamacare and the way our country is going.  They want less government, they want their freedom and liberty back, they want businesses to create jobs and not government and they want someone they can communicate with.  My state representative's card has my cell phone number on it, 706-394-1812, and people know they can get in touch with me and I'm here to serve them," Anderson said.

October 2-- Hastings Wyman of Southern Political Report offers his perspective on the race for Congress in the 12th Congressional District between incumbent Democrat John Barrow of Augusta and his Republican challenger State Representative Lee Anderson of Grovetown.

"Georgia 12 (Augusta, etc.): Redistricting was not kind to fourth-term US Rep. John Barrow (D), the last remaining white Democratic member of Congress in the Deep South. The percentage of African Americans, generally loyal to Democratic candidates, declined from 43 percent of registered voters to 33 percent. Indeed, John McCain would have carried the 12th District under the post-redistricting lines by 56 percent. But Barrow has a couple of advantages. First, he’s got plenty of money: $1,388,000 on hand as of July 11, to $117,000 for his Republican opponent, state Rep. Lee Anderson, reported on August 1 after an expensive primary and runoff. Secondly, Anderson won the GOP runoff by a mere 200 votes, leaving some Republicans disgruntled. And third, Anderson is saddled – or blessed, depending on one’s point of view – with “a rural Southern accent so pronounced that it ought to be preserved in amber for future generations to examine and enjoy,” wrote the Atlanta Journal & Constitution’s Jim Galloway. Some upscale GOPers, many of whom backed Anderson’s runoff foe, may not cotton to Anderson’s syntax, so Anderson has been avoiding a debate with Anderson. Still, on balance, leans Republican." 

October 1--  Access to bank loans to grow is a big obstacle facing small manufacturers according to Dianne Zimnavoda of RCF Technolgies in Vidalia. 

{mosimage}Her plant was one of three in Toombs County visited Monday by 12th District Congressman John Barrow.

Congressman Barrow says that's not the first time he's heard that many banks are not lending.  He blames it on federal regulators.

"It tells me we've got to help the banks get back into the banking business because I hear that all over.  Many banks are sitting on capital they could lend out because regulators are overreacting to their failure to prevent the big meltdown a few years back.  Now their abusing their discretion the other way around by being overly restrictive and forcing banks to sit on good money they could lend out to their customers.  That needs to change," Congressman Barrow noted.

Congressman Barrow is running for his fifth term in Congress against Republican Lee Anderson of Grovetown.  Anderson's campaign claims Barrow is too closely associated with President Obama's policies to represent the conservative 12th District.  Congressman Barrow disagrees.

"The association is simply contrived by folks who want to have this choice on who represents the 12th District evolve into a referendum on someone else.  Last time I checked it's me and my opponent who are running to represent this district and not anybody else.  I've been endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Federation of Independen Businesses and the National Rifle Association.  I've been endorsed by these organizations because of the values that I carry and the voting record I've achieved.  That speaks for itself," he said.

Conressman Barrow also visited the onion processing plant at Vidalia Valley and Chicken of the Sea.

Lee Anderson, meanwhile, visits the Vidalia Onion Factory late Tuesday afternoon to kick off his "Tractor Tour" of the district.  His campaign says he'll be there from 4:30 till six p.m. 

October 1-- The Georgia Department of Revenue announces that the “Energy and Water Efficient” sales tax holiday weekend will be October 5-7.

Energy efficient products that will be exempt from sales and use tax will bear the ENERGY STAR® label and have a purchase price of $1,500 or less per item. As for water efficient products, in order to be exempt from sales and use tax, they will need to have the WaterSense® label and have a purchase price of $1,500 or less per item.

More information concerning the sales tax holiday and tax exempt items can be found of the Georgia Department of Revenue website at: https://etax.dor.ga.gov/

 

October 1--  Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight's office released the following information Monday.

 

{mosimage}"According to Sheriff Alvie Lee Kight, Jr., Kenneth Brian Dismuke, thirty-six-year-old white male of Evans County , was taken into custody in Evans County after a two day search.

 

Toombs County 911 received a call in reference to a burglary that occurred at 2573 Highway 147, Lyons , between twelve and two o’clock , Saturday, September 29. When Toombs County Deputies arrived on the scene they discovered that the door had been kicked in and several items were stolen.  

 

The K-9 Unit was called and they followed the offender’s tracks through the woods and up to the cemetery.  The offender had fled the scene before the officers got there.

 

After further investigation the suspect was later found at a residence in Evans County . When the Officers arrived at the residence the suspect left the residence in a vehicle. After a short chase Dismuke wrecked the vehicle and escaped on foot.  The suspect was apprehended Sunday morning by Georgia S.W.A.T. team in Evans County .

 

Dismuke is being charged with Burglary in Toombs County along with other charges in Evans County and is being held at Evans County Detention Center .