March 30--  The Vidalia Police Department held its annual awards banquet Thursday night and honored officers and employees for their service.

vpdkeenerCorporal Joshua Keener (right, with Chief Frank Waits) spent ten years in the Air Force before he was injured in Afghanistan.  He's been a Vidalia policeman for three years and is the 2017 Officer of the Year.

"What attracted me to being a police officer was the ability to be of service to my community.  I just felt an overwhelming need to be a part of my community and make it a better place," he said.

Former Vidalia City Manager Bill Torrance was the keynote speaker.

"They are important to our community.  They stand in the gap between anarchy and order.  I think we have a very professional group of officers who are well trained and who apply that training everyday to their jobs.  I wanted them to know we appreciate that," Torrance said.

Corporal Keener says he has experienced none of the anti-police rhetoric that has been reported around the country in the aftermath of incidents like the one in Ferguson, Missouri.

"There's an absolute dedication from the community not to let that happen here and to work with the police department and to understand we have a difficult job and that we want to go home to family and friends we care about.  Are there angry people?  Absolutely, but we're trained how to deal with that and how to empathize and resolve the situation," he said.

vpdholwellChief Frank Waits (L) with Officer Micheal Holwell who is the Rookie of the Year.

vpdcolsonMrs. Carol Kennedy is the Employee of the Year, and an award named for her late husband, the Captain Clint Kennedy Supervisor of the Year Award, was presented to Lieutenant Garry Colson.

Corporal Dwayne Carpenter was honored for helping save the live of a citizen last year and Corporal Darren Tuten received a Field Training Officer Instructor and Associate Degree Pin.

Years of Service awards were presented to Dewey Anderson for 25 years, Sergeant Sarah Dodge for 15 years, Madge Collins for 10 years and to Corporal Tim Coursey, Corporal Joshua Blake and Rachel Clements for five years.

March 30-- The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) announced today that the unemployment rate in the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha region in February was 6.4 percent, down seven-tenths of a percentage point from 7.1 percent in January. In February 2016, the rate was 6.9 percent.

The rate declined as employers laid off fewer workers. The number of initial claims for unemployment insurance, a measure of new layoffs, declined by 1,230, or 60.4 percent, to 805. Most of the decrease came in manufacturing and construction, along with administrative and support services and trade, transportation and warehousing. Over the year, claims were down by 115, or 12.5 percent, from 920 in February 2016.

Metro Gainesville had the lowest area jobless rate at 4.1 percent, while the River Valley region had the highest at 6.8 percent.

Meanwhile, Georgia’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for February was 5.3 percent, down from 5.5 percent in January. It was also 5.5 percent in February 2016.

Job seekers and employers are encouraged to use the GDOL’s online job listing service employgeorgia.com to search for jobs or recruit new employers. In February, 573 new job openings in the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha region were posted on Employ Georgia. Throughout the state, 65,461 new job openings were posted.

March 30--  The Toombs County Commission is expected to approve tax abatement for companies considering locating solar farms in the county.

At a working meeting of the County Commissioners and the Toombs County Development Authority Wednesday, the Commission agreed to call a meeting to consider a proposal offering a 50% tax abatement on solar panels.

County Manager John Jones said, "We're going to schedule a meeting for the Commissioners to consider a proposal that was previously presented to us by the Development Authority and see if there is anything in there we'd like to "tweak" before sending it back to the Development Authority so they'll have guidance for negotiations with these solar farm operations."

Development Authority officials have previously met with two solar companies looking to lease a thousand acres or more in the lower part of the county from private landowners.  Another company has also made queries, according to Executive Director Bill Mitchell.

The companies are preparing bids to install solar farms for Georgia Power which is under a state mandate to start using green energy sources.

Estimates are they will invest up to $190 million and need as much tax abatement as possible on their equipment to make their bids to Georgia Power competitive.

A 50% percent abatement over the period of a 25-year lease would generate about $10 million dollars for Toombs County and the county school system.

"It increases the tax digest and will bring additional monies into here that would not be coming, " Jones notes.

County Chairman David Sikes says he's concerned about reclamation of the land at the end of the lease and Jones says the whole project depends on Georgia Power's long term committment.


"We're going to be very methodical in our approach on this and make sure we analyze everything properly.  The biggedy aspect of it is the assurance about Georgia Power and their participation in this.  Part of this process is that we put safeguards in place to insure this is a viable project that will be good for us and the citizens of this community," Jones said.

 

March 29-- The Toombs County Commission issued the following notice regarding the landing on the Altamaha River at U.S. One between Toombs and Appling Counties.

"Due to the demolition of the bridge on US #1 at the Altamaha River, the Landing at this location will be temporally closed effective March 28, 2017. The contractor anticipates the demolition to last approximately 90 days."

The Leadership Toombs-Montgomery Steering Committee is currently seeking nominations for the 2017/2018 class.

If you’d like to nomination someone, please complete the attached nomination form and return it to the Chamber.

Deadline is May 15th.

Click HERE for the nomination form.

Understanding The New I-9 Form & Immigration Compliance
Tuesday, April 18, 2017     |     9:00-10:00 a.m.

Many employers see Form I-9 as a simple and routine part of the hiring process- until they undergo a federal audit and are hit with major fines for unintentional mistakes. USCIS reports that 76% of paper I-9 Forms contain an error that could result in a fine.  The introduction of a new Form I-9, and an anticipated increase in workplace inspections creates a situation that could have costly ramifications for employers.

The new version of the Form I-9, which went into effect January 22, 2017, contains many changes, including new features, instructions and requirements. Join Yane P. McKenzie, Associate at Troutman Sanders LLP, on April 18, 2017 as she discusses key changes and provides practical tips on completing the new Form I-9 so employers can minimize the number of technical and substantive I-9 violations.

We will also discuss the Trump administration's focus on immigration reform and anticipated changes in enforcement of I-9 and E-Verify compliance. This webinar will provide answers to common questions, such as: How does this impact employers? Will this administration increase the number of I-9 audits? What companies or industries might be at risk?

Registration includes the webinar and recording, a week of access to the Georgia HR Library and one hour of SHRM/HRCI credit. 

You can also view the webinar series at participating local chambers. Event details vary by location, so please click on the Chamber name for more information, or contact your chamber directly if you have any questions.

Pricing:

Member Registration: $40
Federation* Registration: $55
Non-Member Registration: $85

*Check to see if your Local Chamber is a member of the Federation, making you a Federation Member, here.

March 29-- For the third year in a row, the Sweet Onion Animal Protection Society (SOAPS) in Vidalia was awarded a state grant to help spay and neuter animals. 

soapsgrant17(L-R) State Agriculture Commission Gary Black, SOAPS Director Therisa Ingley and Mark Murrah from the Georgia Department of Agriculture.

SOAPS was awarded $5,000 to help provide low cost sterilization for dogs and cats in the Toombs County area.

More than a 100 animal shelters, animal control facilities and rescue groups applied for the $600,000 the state raised through revenue generated by the sale of the state spay/neuter license plate. Sixty-six groups were chosen to receive grants that ranged from $1000 to $200,000.

Therisa Ingley said SOAPS provides more than 600 reduced cost sterilizations annually in this area for pet owners who otherwise could not afford to have their animals altered.  "The grant is a huge help,"  Inlgey said, "but it only covers a small portion of what SOAPS spends annually to help control the over population of dogs and cats in our community. This is the only government support we receive, " Ingley added. "SOAPS gets no financial help from the cities or counties we serve.  We rely on the generosity of business and individuals who realize the importance of our work." 


Mrach 29--  Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits reports the following.

Moore, Willie C. - B/M 50 YOA-501 McIntosh St. Vidalia, GA-

Unlawful Use of License Plates, Driving While License Suspended or Revoked 1st Offense

Gaffney, Alana - B/F 31 YOA-247 Findley Cemetary Rd. Lyons, GA-Giving False Name, Address, Birthdate to Le Officer, Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (First), Warrant Served ( DeKalb County)

Butts, Adashae Elvin- B/F-17 YOA- 606 GA Hwy 292 Lot D3 Vidalia, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense (Citation)(MISD)

Kornegay, Kenyetta Smith- B/F- 23 YOA- 7 Parker St. McRae, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense (Citation) (MISD)

Lewis, Dontea Terral- B/M- 29 YOA- 213 Dexter St. Vidalia, GA- Possession of Marijuana Less Than Ounce

Taylor, Sherrilyn Marie-W/F 45 YOA-135 Bluebird St. Mount Vernon, GA-DUI-Child Endangerment 1st Offense,Failure to Maintain Lane, and Child Restraint Violation Child Under 8 1st Offense

Burton, Erica Niketrise-B/F 25 YOA-2502 Waterfront Dr. Augusta, GA-Warrant Served (Vidalia Probation)

Hand, Brock-W/M-36 YOA-157 Tott Powell Road, Lyons GA -Bench Warrant Served (No Insurance)/ Theft By Shoplifting-1st Offense

Barwick, William Randall- W/M- 54 YOA- 202 Currie St Vidalia, GA-Theft By Shoplifting-1st Offense

Warren, Taneka Jaquice-B/F- 26 YOA- 900 Morris St, Vidalia GA- Warrant Served(Obstruction Of An Officer)/ Giving False Information To a LEO

March 28--  Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

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March 29--  Thirty-seven members of the Vidalia Kiwanis Club have 25 or more years as Kiwanians and were honored for their service with the Kiwanis International "Legion of Honor" Award at Tuesday's meeting.

kclubcoxJames Cox has been a Kiwanian for 60 years and previously served as President of the Fort Lauderdale club. He moved to Vidalia and joined the local club in 2007.

"I've enjoyed it.  The background of Kiwanis is good and it's great how we help children.  Of the clubs I've joined before, they were smaller than this club.  We've got a big club and it's a great thing," he said.

Club President Chris Keene says the Vidalia Kiwanis Club with nearly 150 members is the largest club south of Atlanta and he's glad it could honor its longest serving members.

"This is the first time our club has done this and we did it at the request of a club member.  We thought it was a great idea to give our members recognition for being a part of this club for so many years and to give them an opportunity to remember what they've done for the communities they lived in and not necessarily just our community.

In attendance at the meeting are (Front Row, L-R) Sherri McDonald, James Cox, June Hunter; ( Back L-R) Travis DeLoach, Dent Temples, Reid Threlkeld, Matt Oxley, Tom Peterson, Charles Andrew, Brian Frederick, Tony Brooks, Wayne Brantley, Dean Mills, Freddy Thompson.

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Eight members with between 40 and 50 years membership are Donald Estroff, Larry Threlkeld, Charles Andrew, Matt oxley, Tom Peterson, Harry Moses, Reid Threlkeld and Eddie Tyson.

Members with between 30 and 40 years are William McLain, John Talton, Howard Holman, Jimmy dixon, Steve Brown, Dennis Ingley, Freddy Thompson, Mac Suber, Wayne Brantley, Dean Mills, Dennis Donahue and Tony Brooks.

Sixteen members have between 25 and 30 years in the club.  They are Travis DeLoach, Greg Morris, Wendell Dixon, Max Manry, Lloyd Mobley, Romanous Dotson, Terry Whigham, Robin McCullough, Sherri McDonald, Archie Branch, June Hunter, Dusty Gres, Bill Torrance, Bobby George, Dent Temples and Brian Frederick.

March 28--  Four Junior ROTC cadets from the Thunderbolt Regiment headquartered in Vidalia competed with more than 200 cadets from nine high schools in regional drill competition.

rotccadets1Cadet Malik Thornton, far right, won first place in the Individual Drill Competition while Cadet Josh Smalley, far left, won second place.  In the Mixed Dual Competition, the team (center) of Hailey Mixon and Tristen Little placed third.

The Thunderbolt Regiment includes Junior ROTC cadets from Vidalia High School, Toombs County High School, Montgomery County High School and Treutlen County High School.

 

March 28-- On Saturday, March 18, Toombs County High School student Oren Morgan was named the Class AA Domestic Extemporaneous Speaking State Champion.

ORENMORANLITOren's topic revolved around the resurgence of the middle class.

Oren is the son of Dr. Stanley and Dee Morgan. Here, he is pictured with TCHS Literary Coordinator Mrs. Rustin Parker.

March 27--  A Toombs County Grand Jury has indicted 21 people on various charges.

Tommy Salem is facing four charges including the attempted murder of Ricardo Gaffney of Lyons. Salem is accused of entering Gaffney's home on East Clifton Avenue on September 9, 2016 and stabbing him in the head, seriously disfiguring the left side of his face.

Dewayne Copeland is charged with sexually molesting a young  Lyons girl four times starting in 2010 through 2016.  He's accused of sodomy, rape, sexual battery and enticing a child for indecent purposes.

Nyunah Shipley was indicted for beating two Vidalia children with a cord and faces charges of cruelty to children in the first degree.

Six people are accused of drug related charges. The trio of Christopher McCoy, Terry Sykes and Michelle Toole allegedly conspired to manufacture methamphetamine and possessed meth. Joe Gillis, Jr. is accused of selling meth, Christopher Lanier is charged with possession of prescription drugs and marijuana and Forrest Brehs is accused of cocaine possession.

Johnny Ray Beasley, Jr. was indicted for terrorist acts and battery of Robyn Beasley and for damaging the car of Marjorie Carroll.

Russell C. Howard is charged with terroristic threats, criminal damage to property and DUI.

Lyons police told the grand jury about two truck thefts in the city.  Their testimony resulted in the indictment of Tony Anderson for allegedly stealing a truck from James Oglesby and of Robert Anthony, Jr. for allegedly stealing a pickup truck from Salvador Calistro.

Anderson was also indicted for passing four fictitious checks at Janis Market in Vidalia.

John Sears is charged with eleven counts of forging drug prescriptions at CVS in Vidalia in 2012 and 2013.

Five people indicted for burglary are Michael Powell, Khalil Harris, Loquacious Jackson, Elijah Profit, Jr. and Phyllis Hamlin.

Other indictments were returned against Markuise Powell for possession of a firearm by a first offender, Tasha Bottoms of Vidalia for robbery and Milo Daniels for shoplifting.

 

 

March 27--  Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

03/21     Edwin Heath Boney                           Ailey, Ga.                              Theft by Deception

03/21     Marlys Leann Loyd Clark                 Ailey, Ga.                              Theft by Deception

03/21     Connie Frances Mancha                    Vidalia, Ga.                           Probation Warrant Served - Swannee County, Fla

03/24     Henry Lucian Walker, Jr.                   Ailey, Ga.                              Theft by Taking

03/25     Kenneth Wayne Clay, Sr.                  Vidalia, Ga.                           Failure to Register as Sex Offender

March 27--  A Vidalia company has been named to build the new Middle/High School in Montgomery County.

McDonald Construction was chosen from four bidders with an apparent low bid of $13,805,000 to build the new school on a site between the old high school and Brewton-Parker College in Mount Vernon.

According to School Superintendent Hugh Kight, "We're very excited about this opportunity to have a new school in our system and we'll be having a groundbreaking ceremony in the next couple of weeks. It's going to be a two-story building with the bottom story housing the middle school students and the top story for the high school.  It's going to be a nice school and a nice looking school that our whole community can be proud of for years to come."

The good news for property taxpayers in the county is that all but about 15% of the costs will be paid by a state grant and sales tax collections.

"We qualified for a low wealth grant of over $9 million being funded by the state and we have Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST) funds and the rest of the money will come out of our general funds.  Right now we have about $2 million in SPLOST and we have another year-and-a-half to collect on SPLOST before the building is finished so financially we're okay.  Some systems have to sell bonds and get in debt to build schools, but we don't have to do that, so we're blessed," Kight said.

The superintendent says some of the old school building will be retained and parts of its will be demolished for parking.

"Probably the lunchroom will wind up being a wrestling practice room.  As we get the funding, we'll tear down some of the old buildings in the back for parking spaces.  The parking lot will be phase three.  Phase one was the site work, phase two is building the school and phase three will be the parking lot.  After the dust settles we'll see where our funding is and we'll use our existing parking lot until that time," he said.

Construction is expected to begin in late April and Kight says they hope to be in the new school by the Fall of 2018.

Other firms bidding on the project included T.Q. Constructors, $13,831,000; McKnight Construction, $15,376,918; and Dublin Construction, $$15,731,000.

March 25--  State Senator Blake Tillery of Vidalia reports on this past week in the General Assembly.

"Just one more week remains in the 2017 legislative session and while things have been exciting in Atlanta, I am looking forward to heading home next week. Committees have finished meeting, the final bills are making their way to the floor and we have just two legislative days left.

As we all know, nothing in life is guaranteed, not even the bills that could be on the calendar in the last week of session. Imagine that! So here is my prediction on what could possibly be on the agenda next week:

HB 73 would create an income tax credit for certain businesses that create jobs and develop in specified downtown areas in rural communities.

The following bills were passed the General Assembly this week:

HB 222 would allow members of the National Guard and other reservists to be eligible for the HOPE scholarship if they live in Georgia. Many in Liberty, Long and Tattnall counties would benefit from this bill and I am glad it passed unanimously on the Senate floor.

HB 290 would create a tax exemption for certain agricultural equipment from ad valorem taxes.

HB 205 would require private landfills to contribute to county general funds to help offset negative implications and effects of the landfills. It would also add additional regulations and requirements for businesses who have oil and gas drilling permits.

Senate Bill 258, Briley Brady’s bill, was passed on the House floor with a vote of 151-1 at about 6 p.m. on Friday night with the help of Rep. Greg Morris. I look forward to many more ideas from our youth and can’t wait to see what next year’s scholarship contest brings.

On Monday, I am meeting with Appling County farmers who had their crops damaged by the recent freeze in southeast Georgia. Our farmers represent the backbone of our community and I am happy to listen to their concerns and help them in any way I can. On another note, I would like to congratulate two District 19 citizens, Miki Thomaston and Terry Cook on their appointment from the Governor and approval from the Senate. Miki is from Wayne County and has been named to the board of the Department of Natural Resources.  Terry is from Telfair County and has been named to the board of the Nursing Home Administrators.

I’m here to represent your interest and to vote on legislation that will positively impact the life of citizens across Georgia. But I can’t do that if you don’t let me know what you’re thinking, so, please feel free to contact my office or email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Thank you again for supporting me while I’m in Atlanta. As always, it is an honor to serve you at the Capitol."

March 24-- Students in the eighth grade Georgia History class at Vidalia Heritage Academy traveled to the State Capitol in Atlanta to serve as Pages for State Senator Blake Tillery and for State Representative Greg Morris.

The students delivered messages and ran errands for legislators in both houses of the Georgia State Legislatureand met various state government officials including Lt. Governor Casey Cagle and  Speaker of the House David Ralston. This service activity was part of the mission of Vidalia Heritage Academy to equip students to serve as Christ's ambassadors in the world.

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(L-R, Front Row) Jacob Thompson, Logan Roose, Hunter Campbell, Torie Lane, Jesslyn Phillips, Kaitlyn McIntyre, Ayden Tran, Kade Bell

(L-R Back Row)  Andrew Shepherd, Jackson Williamson, Clay Morris, Cameron Gilliam, Jordan Powell, Isaac Willis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ministers to Israel Speak to VHA Students

Students at Vidalia Heritage Academy’s Upper School were blessed to hear Don and Catherine James speak at Friday’s Chapel and in the history classes. Don is a minister at the New Life Church in Orangeburg, South Carolina, and this couple has traveled to Israel several times to support and pray for the people of Jerusalem and throughout the nation. The James provided valuable insights of the geographical, social, political, and religious aspects of Israel as its people continually deal with conflicts within its borders and with the Arab nations that surround this small Jewish nation.

Don presented the history of the creation of Israel in 1948 and Catherine explained the reasons for the conflicts and wars between Israel and the Muslim Arab States of the Middle East. The couple identified the various ethnic groups which live in Israel and clarified that the major problems are between the radical Islamists and the Israeli government, while the peaceful Arab and Jewish citizens are caught in the middle of the conflict. The James suggested ways in which the students could stand with Israel: by praying for the peace of God’s people, by loving them and showing acts of kindness, and by learning more about the issues facing the people of Israel (standwithus.com) in order to inform others how to pray effectively for them.

It is the mission of Vidalia Heritage Academy to equip students spiritually, intellectually, and physically, to love God and serve Him as Christ’s ambassadors in the world. The nation of Israel is the key to the history and the future of the Middle East and of the world, having Don and Catherine James to speak about this important nation was a blessing to the students and staff at VHA. This experience will encourage the students to develop a more global perspective on the biblical worldview of Israel, its impact on history, and its role in future international politics.  

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(L-R) Emily Dopson, Luke Hartley, Bryson Henriott, Jade Disharoon, Julia Pickle, Sarah Alice Connell, Hannah Braddy, Hallie Faircloth, Catherine James, Jack Palmer, Don James, and Whit Sikes.

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Toombs County Middle School February Students of the Month are: Johnathan Yanez, Vanessa Oliver, Rodrigo Cruz Quintino, Emma Beasley, Ana Chavez, Jackson Weekley, Hannah Page, Alejandro Baez Lucio, Jr., Ashton Barwick, Dulce Ramos Osburne, Jacob Powell, Kimberly Romero, Jesus Martinez, Tabahtha Trowell, Karry Williams, and Angel DeLeon.  Not Pictured: Gracie Hamlin.

March 24--  Career Technical Instruction (CTI) students at Toombs County High School raised money to support the club's cancer projects.

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TCHS CTI student Skyler Adams presented a donation to Ms. Megan Morris, club sponsor of Dawgs Against Cancer, for $240.00.  CTI students raised money by having a $5.00 clearance sale in their school store The Barkery.  

(L-R) Megan Morris, Skyler Adams, Principal Melanie McLemore

March 24-- Robert Toombs Christian Academy American Government and Economics classes traveled to the State Capitol in Atlanta to observe the General Assembly. 

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Students toured the capitol building, had their picture made in the governor’s office, and then sat in the Senate Gallery while State Senator Jack Hill of Reidsville described specific elements in the state budget. 

Our local representatives, Representative Greg Morris and Senator Blake Tillery, met with the group for a lunch and learn and led the students in a brief simulation of budget negotiations. 

The students were then given an opportunity to ask questions of the legislators. 

March 24--  Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits reports the following arrests.

McGowan, Dale Robert - W/M 57 YOA/ 202 Pine St. Vidalia,  GA/ Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense (Citation) (MISD)

Jackson, Otis Tibias - B/M 42 YOA/ 1208 Easter Dr. Apt 36 Vidalia, GA/ Theft by Shoplifting (Felony), Willfully

Obstruction of Police Officer Simple/ Verbal, Criminal Trespass

Price, Tracy Ann- W/F- 46 YOA- 1364 Calhoun St. Soperton, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 2nd Offense (Citation) (MISD)

McClung, Johnny Ray- W/M- 53 YOA-401 Church St. Cobbtown, GA- Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (First)/No Insurance 1st

McBee, Patricia Lynn- W/F- 38 YOA- 2806 Old Bristol Rd. Mershon, GA- Theft by Shoplifting (Felony)/Warrant Served (Long County Probation)

Kirkland, Cody Walter- W/M 26 YOA- 187 Old Norman Town Road Lyons, GA- Theft by Shoplifting (Felony)

Cunningham, Jennifer- W/F- 43 YOA- 2106 Ross Way Vidalia, GA- DUI 1st Offense

Tyer, Clifford Wayne- W/M- 48 YOA- 270 Rock Springs Rd Uvalda, GA- Metter, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense (Citation)(MISD)

Tanner, Renae Beth- W/F 31 YOA- 1151 Mack Paul Rd. Wrightsville, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense (Citation)(MISD)/Criminal Trespass/Possession of Controlled Substances (x4)

Moore, Tyler Carl Jason-W/M 18 YOA-Aimwell Rd. Vidalia, GA-Disorderly Conduct/Possession of Marijuana (less than 1 ounce)

Hudson, Kevin Ray-W/M 29 YOA-242 Cauley Rd Lyons, GA-Theft by Shoplifting

Turner, Charles Eric - W/M- 53 YOA- 204 E. First St. Rm 20 Vidalia, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 3rd Offense/Warrant Served (Montgomery County Probation)

Williams, Tonya                Renae- W/F- 34 YOA- 1364 Cedar Crossing Rd. Uvalda, GA- Possession of Marijuana Less Than Ounce/Warrant Served (Toombs County Probation)/Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (Second)/No Tag/No Proof of Insurance

Haynes, Lashunda Renia - B/F 38 YOA/ 710 Mike St. Vidalia, GA/ Possession Of Drug Related Objects, Simple Assault, Simple Battery, Willfully Obstruction Of Police Officer Sever/Forceful, Cruelty To children, Battery, Disorderly Conduct

Hancock, Steven Allen - W/M- 36 YOA/ 710 Woodford Rd. Swanson, SC/ Driving While License Suspended or Revoked 1st / Warrant Served (Tattnall County Probation Violation)

Cribbs, Shawn Eon - W/M- 34 YOA/ 408 Winona St. Vidalia, GA/ Warrant Served (Parole)

Jackson, Christina N. - W/F- 27 YOA- 1500 E. First St. Vidalia, GA- Warrant Served (Laurens County Probation)

Prescott, William Oliver- W/M- 29 YOA- 709 Mosley St. Vidalia, GA- Warrant Served (Toombs County State)/Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (Second)

Shoats, Lang Christopher R. - B/M- 29YOA- 660 Center St. Macon, GA- Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (Second)/Failure to Obey Stop/Yeild Sign/Warrant Served (Jones County Probation)

March 23 --  Toombs County businessman George Powell is the 2017 Citizen of the Year in Lyons.

lyonscitizen17Lyon's 1999 Citizen of the Year Roy Stewart (L) presents this year's award to George Powell.

At Thursday night's annual banquet sponsored by the Lyons Merchants Association, Robbie Rozier lauded Powell for his contributions to the community since his arrival in Toombs County in 1975 through his professional life, his civic life and his spiritual life.

Accepting the award, Powell said, "I just want to say thank you.  I'm very humbled at this honor.  It's a complete surprise and I'm just bowled over to be honest with you," he said.

Rozier noted that Powell could have easily closed his "Andy's Home Center" in downtown Lyons during the economic downturn in 2009, but instead invested more in the business to benefit the downtown area.

"The City of Lyons reminds me of my hometown back in North Carolina.  Being a part of the revitalization of Lyons has been a distinct pleasure of mine.  At the time, we decided the City of Lyons needed a hardware store and I still believe that.  Everybody here has been so supportive of us and I don't know how to say thank you enough.  I'm honored and humbled by it," he said.

March 23-- The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) announced today that the state’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate decreased to 5.3 percent in February, down two-tenths of a percentage point from 5.5 percent in January. In February 2016, the unemployment rate was also 5.5 percent.

“Our unemployment rate fell as Georgia set new record highs for the number of people employed and for the size of our labor force, which crossed the five-million mark for the first time,” said State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “Our employers continued to create jobs at a strong pace and we saw a significant drop in the number of new layoffs.”

In February, the number of employed workers increased by 21,181 to 4,743,443. The state’s labor force grew by 12,480 to 5,010,813. The labor force consists of employed residents and those who are unemployed, but actively looking for work.

The number of jobs increased by 12,000, or 0.3 percent, to 4,452,200. The increase is more than twice the average January-to-February growth for the previous three years, which is 5,900. Most of the gains came in professional and business services, 6,100; education and health services, 4,400; information services, 2,000; and financial activities, 1,200. The job gains were offset somewhat by losses in manufacturing, 2,100; retail trade, 900; arts, entertainment and recreation, 700; federal government, 400; and other services, 300, which includes repair, maintenance, personal and laundry services, 300.  

The over-the-year growth of 114,000 jobs is also more than the previous three-year average of 110,600 jobs for the same period. The 2.6 percent growth rate continues to outpace the national growth rate of 1.6 percent. The job growth came in leisure and hospitality, 24,300; accommodations and food services, 24,200; professional and business services, 23,900; education and health services, 18,200; trade, transportation and warehousing, 17,800; health care and social assistance, 12,700; government, 10,900; financial activities, 8,900; construction, 7,700; and manufacturing, 7,000. Information services lost 1,000 jobs.

The number of initial claims for unemployment insurance declined by 25,411, or 51.1 percent, to 24,307 in February. About one-quarter of the claims filed were due to temporary layoffs, mostly in manufacturing. 

Over the year, claims were down by 5,032, or 17.2 percent, from 29,339 in February 2016, with manufacturing accounting for most of the decline.  

Georgia’s labor participation rate for February increased one-tenth of a percentage point to 63 percent, which is tied with the national rate.

March 22--  A St. Simons law firm has filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit it filed against the Toombs County Commission.

Only days after the Georgia Supreme Court refused to hear a similar case filed against Montgomery County, the Roberts-Tate law firm filed a motion in Toombs County Superior Court requesting that Judge Gibbs Flanders dismiss the case in Toombs County.

The lawyers were attempting a class action suit forcing the county to reimburse citizens in the unincorporated parts of Toombs County for what they claimed were "illegally and erroneously assessed taxes."  They alleged the county used proceeds from Insurance Premium Taxes to operate convenience centers for trash collection which they argued was contrary to state law.

The Georgia Court of Appeals rejected a similar contention in the Montgomery County case.  However, its decision was predicated on Montgomery County proving its convenience centers are for the primary benefit of citizens in the unincorporated parts of the county.  It sent the case back to trial court Judge Robert Reeves for further proceedings on that question.

 

 

March 22--  Toombs County is continuing negotiations for a solar farm in the southern part of the county.

Toombs County Development Authority Director Bill Mitchell informed the County Commission Tuesday that two competing companies are interested in leasing 1,500 acres from landowners near the Altamaha River for a solar panel farm.  

One company is from Houston, Texas and the other from Boise, Idaho.

According to Mitchell, the project entails an investment of up to $190 million and negotiations are underway regarding how much tax abatement the county will grant. 

The Development Authority is recommending 50% annually over the 25-year period of the lease and estimates that will generate $10 million in personal property tax revenue for the county and the Toombs County School System.

The county also wants a warranty for reclamation of the land at the end of the lease.

The Development Authority and the County Commission plan to hold a joint meeting next week to finalize a proposal.

Tickets are on Sale now for the Vidalia Onion Festival Air Show featuring

“Tora, Tora, Tora”

March 22-- The 2017 Vidalia Onion Festival Air Show will feature the Commemorative Air Force’s “Tora, Tora, Tora” show, a recreation of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that signaled the beginning of the American involvement in World War II. Designed as a living history lesson, “Tors, Tora, Tora” is intended as a memorial to all the soldiers on both sides who gave their lives for their countries.

Tora, Tora, Tora began in 1972, when six replica Japanese aircraft used in the movie of the same name were donated to the CAF. The gulf Coast Wing requested assignment of the aircraft and began developing an act for presentation at air shows. The act debuted in 1972 and by 1977, Tora had gained national exposure. By 1978, Tora began to make international appearances in Canada and Mexico. They participated in the numerous commemoration of Pearl Harbor in 1991, the 50th anniversary year, and were in the 2001 Disney movie about the Pearl Harbor attack.

Tora is comprised entirely of volunteers; every single person associated with Tora has volunteered his/her time, skills and financial resources to accomplish one simple feat , the telling of true story, a piece of history. In this respect, Tora is more than just another air show act. Tora is a team of volunteers dedicated to an air show act that can best be described as a living history museum.

Kevin Britton, Vidalia Regional Airport Manager and Air Show Director stated, “The focus for this year’s air show is the aircraft of WWII. We are just so proud to bring Tora to the Vidalia Onion Festival Air Show. A big part of the show is the pyrotechnics, but it truly is a “Lest we forget” story. Along with Tora other warbird acts will include a P-51 Mustang, aT-6 Texan and an F4U Corsair."

Additional acts include Rower Airshows vintage Stearman, Buck Roetman in his Christen Eagle and the Smoke N Thunder Jet car.

The show begins Saturday and Sunday at 2 pm on April 29th & 30th. Gates will open at 11am. Tickets are on sale at the Vidalia Onion Museum, Vidalia City Hall, Lyons Main Street office, and the Vidalia Regional Airport. Advance tickets for adults $8, children $4.

March 22--  While most medical trade groups across the country oppose passage of the American Healthcare Act (AHCA) because it reduces funding of Medicaid, the short term impact in Georgia will be very little, according to Meadows Healthcare CEO Alan Kent.

Since Georgia didn't expand Medicaid under Obamacare, Kent says reductions to the program will not hurt Meadows in the near future.  He's hopeful the new act will change the situation for Georgia hospitals.

"One of the things under consideration is giving states more leeway in how they will work their Medicaid programs.  Under Obamacare, you really didn't have much flexibility for a state to, for example, enter into block grant funding for a state to design its own rules.  Under a GOP-led Congress, I think there is much more probability that Medicaid can be more highly controlled by the states instead of Washington and there might be some great opportunities for experimentation.  

"You know the old saying about in a democracy, the states are a laboratory for learning and for change.  I think that given this opportunity for some other kind of funding, there is the possibility we could come up with some innovative solutions in Georgia that maybe will work better for us than the former Obamacare worked out.  That remains to be seen and it's going to take some courageous decision making on behalf of our politicians and statesmen to try and solve some of these age-old problems," he said.

Kent says Meadows currently loses about $3 million a month providing indigent and uncompensated healthcare and notes some rural hospitals have closed or cut back on services due to lack of funding.  He hopes Congress will take its time and work through the issues it faces regarding healthcare.

"I read a really good editorial that reminded me we did not get into our current situation in healthcare in America in one year or even one Presidential term.  If we will take our time to try and pass incremental changes instead of its all-in like with Obamacare or all-out with the American Healthcare Act, then maybe we have the opportunity to really do some things better than what we have done in the past," he said.

March 21-- On Friday, March 17, 2017, federal Judge Timothy Batten dismissed a lawsuit filed by Common Cause and the Georgia Conference of the NAACP that attempted to overturn a Georgia law that requires regular list maintenance of the voter rolls. Secretary Kemp applauds Judge Batten’s order, which held that “the maintenance of accurate voter rolls is a substantial government interest.”

“Well-maintained voter rolls are essential to election security and avoiding fraud, and I am glad that Judge Batten’s order recognized this important state interest,” stated Secretary Kemp. “In the Peach State, it is easy to vote and hard to cheat, and I will not waver in my commitment to ensuring secure, accessible, and fair elections in our state. I applaud the good work of Attorney General Chris Carr’s office in defending this important law.” 

Under O.C.G.A. § 21-2-234, registered voters are mailed a confirmation notice following three years of “no contact” which election officials. “Contact” is broadly defined and includes voting, signing a nomination petition, or engaging in other legally defined activity. If an individual fails to respond to the postage-paid and pre-addressed confirmation notice within thirty days, he is moved to inactive status on the voter rolls. Inactive status does not prevent the individual from voting. If a voter stays inactive for two federal election cycles without voting or having any other contact with the elections office, he is removed from the rolls.

The Court held that Georgia’s law does not violate the federal National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) as claimed by the plaintiffs, nor does it violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as infringing upon an alleged – but legally unrecognized – right not to vote.  The Court found that Georgia’s law does not remove voters based solely on failure to vote.

The Court also held that there is no violation of the First Amendment because, even if a right not to vote existed, the statute is reasonable and nondiscriminatory, and maintaining accurate voter rolls serves a substantial government interest without impermissibly limiting other avenues of political communication.

Importantly, this statute was precleared by the Justice Department when it was last amended by the General Assembly in 1997. This case was originally filed on February 10, 2016 by the plaintiffs.

March 21--  A judge has denied three pre-trial motions and stayed a fourth in the Ladson O'Connor murder case. 

Jim Lowery and Dixie Best are facing multiple charges in the death of former Montgomery County Sheriff Ladson O'Connor who was killed during a two-county police chase of the pair nearly two years ago.

Lawyers for the two appeared before Superior Court Judge Sarah Wall March 8 at the Montgomery County courthouse in Mount Vernon.

Judge Wall ruled on their motions Tuesday.

A motion for a change of venue for the May 1st trial was placed on hold until Judge Wall can review questionnaires which have been sent to 350 prospective jurors regarding what impact pre-trial publicity and local connections may have on impaneling a jury.

The judge denied motions that Lowery's comments to law enforcement officers after his arrest be suppressed at his trial and that the two be given separate trials.

According to the ruling on Lowery's comments to law enforcement officers, Judge Wall wrote, "I find from a preponderance of the evidence that Defendant was advised of each of his Miranda rights, that he understood them, that he voluntarily waived them and that he thereafter gave his statements freely and voluntarily without any hope of benefit or fear of injury."

She also ruled against a motion filed by Best for the District Attorney to provide additional physical evidence, videos and other evidence regarding the case.  Judge Wall's ruling said the prosecutor reported all relevant evidence has been turned over to the defendants and there's no proof otherwise.

Last September Lowery was sentenced to 15 years in prison by Toombs County Superior Court Judge Kathy Palmer after pleading guilty to assaulting a police officer and to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.  Lowery fired at a Georgia State Trooper when he was apprehended near McNatt Falls in Toombs County the morning after the wreck that killed Sheriff O'Connor.  The trooper returned fire and hit Lowery in the leg.

 

March 21--  Georgia's First Lady Sandra Deal brought her "Read Across Georgia" program to southeast Georgia Monday and read to young students in Vidalia, Lyons and Statesboro.

firstladyreads

In Vidalia, she read to students at J.D. Dickerson Primary School.

"I read 'Will Powers, Where There's a Will There's A Way' by Coy Bowles.  He's A Georgia boy who went through the Thomaston schools.  His mother was a teacher and he plays with the Zac Brown Band and writes some lyrics for them.  He did a really good job with this book because it teaches that if you really want something, you have to work for it.  That's what I want young people to understand.  You have to do your own work, parents can't do it for you," she said.

Mrs. Deal is a former sixth grade school teacher who decided to emphasize the importance of reading when she became First Lady because she saw so many students enter her class with reading problems.  She's read at more than 700 schools since Governror Deal took office.

J.D. Dickerson Primary School has one of the top reading programs according to school Principal Scott Stephens, "We are part of the Governor's Office of Student Achievement program.  They have about 70 schools in that program and our test score is number one in that group so we're very proud of that.

"Our number one priority here at J.D. Dickerson is to have all of our students reading on or above grade level.  When the First Lady of our state can come in and emphasize how important that is to our young children, that's a great benefit to all of us," he said.

March 20--  Queens for the 26th Annual Southest Georgia Soap Box Derby were crowned Saturday at Southeastern Technical College in Vidalia.

Fifty-one contestants competed in nine categories.  The pageant awarded $1,350 dollars to winners in the Miss Division. The Queens will serve as representatives at this year's Derby Race on May 6th plus Rally Races and other Derby events throughout the year.

Carly Lynn Moore was crowned Miss Southeast Georgia Soap Box Derby and was awarded $500 scholarships from the Smith Law Group and Gordy Enterprises.  First runner-up Emily Kate Conner received a $250 scholarship from Zaxby's. Second runner-up Katherine Dawn Frost won a $100 Head Games scholarship and Amanda Anderson was third runner-up.

soapboxqueens

Winners are (L-R Back Row) Emily Odom, Queen Carly Moore and Sydney Dorsey; (L-R Middle Row) Presley Mosley, Karmin Johnson, Cali Driggers and Reagan Corbett; (L-R Front Row) Kennedy Williamson and Jaylee Odom.

March 20--  Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

tcb08

tcb07

tcb06

March 20--  Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

03/14     Katelyn Davis Wilkes                         Vidalia, Ga.                           Manufacturing Methamphetamine, Sale of

                                                                                                                        Methamphetamine, Possession of Drug Related Objects

03/14     Wanda Jean Phillips                            Adrian, Ga.                           Driving w/Suspended License

03/16     Sierra Mercedes Parrish                      Alamo, Ga.                           Driving w/Suspended License, Headlight Violation

03/18     Emily Ann Clark Johnson                  Lyons, Ga.                            Driving w/Suspended License

03/19     Charles Eric Turner                             Uvalda, Ga.                          Felony Probation Warrant Served (x2)

March 20-- Vidalia Heritage Academy’s literary team is the GICAA STATE CHAMPION!

vhaliterary17(L-R) Thomas Rhodes, Cassidy Martin, Bryson Henriott, Ashley Dawson, Ashton Jackson, Ben Sikes, Brayden Price, Christopher Scoggins, Elliot Sammons

 State Champions include:
Cassidy Murray - girls solo


Brayden Price - international extemporaneous speaking


Thomas Rhodes - humorous interpretation 


Ashton Jackson, Christopher Scoggins, Elliot Sammons, Ben Sikes- boys quartet

Runner - up : Elliot Sammons - Argumentative essay

3rd Place: Ashley Dawson - personal essay

4th Place: Lauren Adams, Hunter Campbell, Ashley Dawson - girls trio

Christopher Scoggins - piano

Ashton Jackson - boys solo

Vidalia Heritage Academy Chess Team Advances to State

Vidalia Heritage Academy’s chess team qualified and received an invitation from the Georgia Chess Association to play in the Team State Championship in Suwanee, GA on March 25, 2017. This event is the most prestigious chess event in Georgia and will be represented by Adrian Lee, Veer Patel, Alexander Muzafarov, Lake Wright, Braden Wilkes, and Jack Williams all whom represent VHA’s Primary Team.

vhachess17Primary Team Members (L-R) Jack Williams, Braden Wilkes, Lake Wright, Veer Patel, Alexander Muzafarov, Adrian Lee

VHA’s Chess program is only 2 years old and is coached by Mr. Jim Beall. The year long program participates in the Ogeechee River Scholastic Association and competes though out the year. VHA currently has 4 levels of competition, primary (1st-3rd grade), elementary (4th-5th grade), middle school (6th-8th grade), and high school (9th-12th grade).

Mazrch 17-- This past Tuesday the RTCA Literary team competed at State Competition in Valdosta.

rtstateliterary 

Students competed in several categories, with Cody Masterman-Smith placing second in Spelling and third in Extemporaneous Speaking, Andi Brinson and Blaine Miller placing third in Duo Oral Interpretation, Evan Venable placing third in Argumentative Essay, and Jarron Guy placing third in Humorous Oral Interpretation.

Others students competing at State were: Roya Adkins, Carson Burton, Laci Bishop, Kate Sullivan, and Shelby Thomas. Literary coaches were Mrs. Susan Sullivan, Ms. Christine Trowell, and Mr. Frank Champion.

March 17-- Stormy Knight, a senior at Toombs County High School and a member of the Toombs County FFA chapter, has been chosen as the Central Region Star in Agri-Business for Georgia.

stormyknightKnight earned the honor by maintaining a challenging supervised agriculture experience project through his FFA involvement. An SAE is a year-round developmental program that can be made up of multiple enterprises and activities, including entrepreneurial and/or placement enterprises, development of supplemental skills, learning activities and improvement projects impacting the student’s SAE, home, school or community.

The state Star program is designed to provide an incentive for students who have excelled. The state Star in Agri-Business award program recognizes the most outstanding business based SAE programs among all state FFA degree recipients each year.

Knight’s SAE project is based on his employment at Advanced Fabrications in Lyons. He assists in the fabrication shop by designing and building various metal projects that consist of trailers to conveyor belts. He also assists with doing repairs for customers as well.

Knight will advance to the state Star in Agri-Business competition at the state FFA convention in Macon on April 27, 2017.

Stormy is the son of Vance and Sheryl Knight, he is a senior at Toombs County High School, where he is the President of the FFA and a junior member of the Toombs County Young Farmers. After high school Stormy plans to attend Southeastern Technical College in Vidalia to pursue a degree in welding.

March 17--  State Senator Blake Tillery of Vidalia  has the latest 19th Senatorial District update from the state Capitol in Atlanta.

sentillerydeskAnother week has passed in the Senate. This week, I fell into more of the watchdog role as we

reviewed House bills to ensure nothing was

going to slip through the cracks. I had a hand in crafting amendments to some to make sure we are

protecting consumers and tax payers.

 

In one situation, I amended a 9-1-1 fee bill to re-add a cap on cost recovery fees that had been struck

in committee.  In another, I made an amendment in committee to make sure no kickback could be

paid to any government entity or employee concerning a new e-filing system on court filings. These

are simple consumer and tax payer protections that almost everyone agrees we need, but in the thick of legislating, often

get forgotten. I was proud to be the one to catch them and made sure they were there.

 

Among the 17 bills that were on the Senate floor this week, the Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) General Budget was by far the most important one

that passed. The budget allots approximately $24.9 billion in several areas that will directly affect us. This contains over $4 million for

improvements to the Georgia State Prison in Tattnall County and $3 million for rehabilitation projects to the Heart of Georgia rail way,

including a portion that stretches from Nunez to Vidalia. Funds are also being allocated to fund salary increases for state employees and for

our law enforcement officers and teachers, bus drivers, school nurses and DFACS workers, with teacher increases being this time made to

the pay scale.

 

Some things that I’ll keep an eye out for in the coming weeks include legislation relating to the disposal of coal ash and the rural downtown

development bill. This bill will help the downtown revitalization process, mirroring what we have seen happen in downtown Jesup. In addition

to these two bills, I’m also excited for the opportunity to support a bill coming forward that lowers the state income tax. The current state

income tax rate sits at six percent at the highest rate of income and the new proposal would lower it to a 5.4 percent flat income tax for all.

Strangely, this bill is receiving opposition, mainly from those who want to receive more government funds, but y'all sent me to Atlanta on a

campaign to support smaller, conservative government and reducing taxes goes along with that mission.

 

Thank you again for supporting me while I’m in Atlanta. I’m more anxious than ever to get back home but there is still work to be done and

bills to be discussed. If you have any concerns or questions in these last few days, please do not hesitate to reach out to me or my office. As

always, it is an honor to serve you at the Capitol.

 

Sally D. Meadows Chess Team continues to excel in their first season and will compete for State Championship.

Back Row (L-R) Kayleigh Folsom, Logan Irvin, Landry Wheeler, Peyton Corbett, Max Beverly, Ahmelion Jones, Tymber Harris, Connor Higgs, and Sukumar Paidi.  Front Row (L-R) Alan Johnson, Emma Beck, Cate Wilcox, Emma Vinson, Bralie Carey, Dottie McDaniel, and Jayla Phillips.

sdmchess17

Last Saturday Sally D. Meadows Elementary School closed out the final tournament of the Ohoopee Regional Scholastic Chess Association (ORSCA) season with another second place finish.

The team finished the tournament tied for first with Julia P. Bryant from Statesboro and was awarded second place based on a tie break system. This finish clinched the second place spot overall in the region for the season. Sally D. Meadows also had some players to finish with top honors individually.

Connor Higgs finished 3rd overall in the region. Landry Wheeler finished this tournament in a three way tie for first place and was awarded 2nd after the tie-breaker was applied. Sukumar Paidi was also a part of the three way first place finish and was awarded 2nd in this tournament and 2nd overall in the region this year.

In response to the season finish, Principal Sean Sasser commented, “I am just so proud of these kids for what they’ve done in their first year. Since we kicked off the program in the fall, the students have been excited about learning the game and competing.” Mr. Sasser credits the success of the team to the hard work of the volunteer chess coaches, Mike Lisenby and Jay Youngblood, and the dedication of the students.

To top off a wonderful season, Sally D. Meadows received a personal invitation from Ms. Susan Justice, Chair of the Georgia Chess Association’s Scholastic Committee, to participate in the Georgia 2017 K-8 Team State Championship to take place at Peachtree Ridge High School in Suwannee, Georgia on March 25th.    

This is a United States Chess Association sanctioned event and the most prestigious scholastic chess tournament held in Georgia. Participation is very limited, and accomplished either through qualification tournaments or by special invitation. The top 6 rated students will be traveling to Suwannee to compete as a team against over 20 elementary schools from across the state. The students representing Sally D. Meadows include: Bralie Carey, Peyton Corbett, Connor Higgs, Sukumar Paidi, Emma Vinson, and Landry Wheeler.

    

 

March 17--  Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits reports the following arrests.

McKinney, Yashekia-B/F 20 YOA-1208 Easter Dr. Apt 14 Vidalia, GA-Simple Battery (FVA)

Little, Isaiah-W/M 17 YOA-310 Folsom St. Reidsville, GA-Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense

Mclendon, Samantha Magen-W/F- 30 YOA-901 High St. Apt A, Vidalia, GA- Warrant Service (Parole Violation)

Cooper, Felicia Ann- B/F- 45 YOA- 1400 Aimwell Blvd, Vidalia, GA- Warrant Service(Disorderly Conduct/ Disruption Of Public Schools)

Hamilton, Amanda Victoria-B/F 35 YOA-201 Patrick St. Vidalia, GA-State Warrant (Criminal Trespass/Simple Assault) (FVA)

Lewis, Shameka Bacon-B/F- 26 YOA- 406 W. North St. Vidalia, GA- Warrant Served(Toombs County Probation)  

Lomaneck, Billy Rex - W/M 35 YOA- 211 Pine St. Vidalia, Ga./ Willfully Obstruction Of Police Officer Sample/ Verbal/ Driving While License Suspended Or Revoked 1st, Warrant Served ( Polk City Fla.)

McClendon, Samantha Magen - W/F 30 YOA -305 W Sixth St. Vidalia, GA-Theft By Shoplifting (Felony), Possession Of Methamphetamines (Felony)

Sikes, Sheree Anne - W/F 37 YOA-402 Madison St. Vidalia, GA-State Warrant ( 2 Counts Of Exploitation And Intimidation Of Elder Persons)

Bloodsaw, Ursula - B/F 42 YOA-116 Cascade Cir. Dublin, GA- State Warrants ( 2 Counts Of Forgery 4th Degree)

Roundtree, Stephanie Marie-W/F 27 YOA-3846 Harrington St. Lyons, GA-Possession of Methamphetamines, Driving While License Suspended, Operating a Vehicle While Registration is Canceled, No Proof of Insurance

Sharpe, Zavion- B/M- 24 YOA- 500 Eastview Road Apt 11 Statesboro, GA- No Driver’s License, No Insurance 2nd, Driving With Expired Tag

McRae, Johnnie Mack- B/M- 63 YOA- 123 Agan Dr. Apt 3201 Vidalia, GA- DUI 1st Offense/ Failure To Maintain Lane/ Accident

Wright,Edward George- B/M- 40 YOA- 647 Ivy Brook Way, Macon, GA - DUI 2nd Offense

Maltby, Matthew George- W/M- 28 YOA- 2728 Old Normantown Road, Vidalia, GA- Possession Of Marijuana Less Than Ounce/ Possession Of Methamphetamines

Jimenez, Michelle Lee- W/F- 34 YOA- 1290 Cedar Crossing Road Vidalia, GA- Possession Of Marijuana Less Than Ounce/ Possession Of methamphetamines

March 17--  For the past five years Peggy NeSmith has been helping women overcome drug addiction at a home she calls "The Dream Center" on Highway 292 West in Vidalia.

"It's between me and the Lord.  He dropped a vision in my heart.  I come from this background with a history of addiction in my family and myself.  A lot of times what he brings you out of is what you minister in because you can feel compassion for someone else who is hurting.  It's been by faith and he told me as you go, you'll know.  I didn't have resources, but I had God and along the journey he's put me in front of some great people who've had the same kind of vision to help people come out of addiction.  So, it's been all about the walk," she said.

"The Dream Center" has served about 75 women so far and NeSmith says many used drugs to escape.

"People are escaping from something into something.  They're escaping from fear, from problems, from hurt, from fear, from grief and from disappointment and they're escaping to something that numbs the pain.  If you find the place they're escaping from and you help that place to become whole and healed, then when that placed is pushed again, they will not run," she says.

The nature of drug abuse is also changing because of the availability of prescription drugs.

"It's huge and now it's the opiates, not just the street drugs.  People are becoming addicted because of being on pain medication, not from just trying to escape.  It's an epidemic," she believes.

NeSmith is trying to raise money for a new addition to "The Dream Center" which will help the women transition back to a normal life.

"The goal is to have a second phase for our ladies to help them continue to grow.  After six months they'll be able to go into a second phase to help them with a parttime job or to extend their education.  Our main goal is to continue walking with them during the exit phase of their program which is the most volatile.  

"We want to be there when they come home from work, when they're under pressure from a test and when they begin to live and maintain their environment drug free.  We want to give them that support and protection they need during that time," she said.

The estimated cost of the new addition is $225,000.  NeSmith says she has faith that "God will provide."

March 16-- Last week, a federal grand jury sitting in Savannah returned a 17-count indictment charging Christopher William Sapp, 51, of Collins, Georgia with burglarizing two Tattnall County post offices and stealing parcels and mail on multiple occasions between October 2016 and January 2017.  The indictment also alleges that Sapp forced his way into the United States Post Office in Cobbtown, Georgia and stole 105 blank money orders, as well as a money order imprinting machine, and more than $1,000 worth of postage stamps.  The indictment further alleges that Sapp fraudulently endorsed a stolen check, and used another person’s identity in an effort to cash it.

The federal indictment of Sapp arises out of an investigation by the United States Postal Inspection Service, the United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General, and the Tattnall County Sheriff’s Office.  Sapp’s arraignment was held this morning in Statesboro before U.S. Magistrate Judge G.R. Smith.  Sapp was ordered detained pending trial.  If convicted on all counts of the federal indictment, Sapp could face a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. 

Acting U.S. Attorney James Durham emphasized that an indictment is only an accusation and is not evidence of guilt.  The defendant is entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the Government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.


March 16-- The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) announced today that the unemployment rate in the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha region in January was 7.2 percent, up six-tenths of a percentage point from 6.6 percent in December. In January 2016, the rate was 6.9 percent.

The rate rose as the labor force grew and the number of new layoffs increased.

The labor force, which consists of employed residents and those who are unemployed, but actively looking for jobs, grew by 1,159 to 118,250. The number of unemployed residents rose by 701 to 8,464, while the number of employed residents increased by 458 to 109,786. Over the year, the number of people in the labor force increased by 1,047, as the number of employed grew by 716 and the number of unemployed increased by 331.

The number of initial claims for unemployment insurance, a measure of new layoffs, rose by 28, or 1.4 percent, to 2,035. Most of the increase came in manufacturing. However, over the year, claims were down by 91, or 4.3 percent, from 2,126 in January 2016.

Metro Gainesville and the Georgia Mountains region had the lowest area jobless rate at 4.8 percent, while the Three Rivers region had the highest at 7.4 percent.

Meanwhile, Georgia’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for January was 5.5 percent, unchanged from 5.5 percent in December. It was 5.6 percent in January 2016.

Job seekers and employers are encouraged to use the GDOL’s online job listing service employgeorgia.com to search for jobs or recruit new employers. In January, 686 new job openings in the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha region were posted on Employ Georgia. Throughout the state, 64,018 new job openings were posted.

March 16--  It's official.  All of the schools in the Vidalia City School System are accredited by the AdvancEd Accreditation Commission, the first time ever that the system as a whole has received accreditation.

The accreditation was recommended last October after a five-member team headed by Dr. Cheryl Allread inspected the school system.

"You have a very effective school system.  You have strong leadership from the board and the superintendent.  That's where it starts.  Sometimes if that piece is not in place it's very difficult for the teachers and the staff to do their jobs.  You're very fortunate here to have those kinds of people in those positions and that's a key thing.  They have put the pieces in place to make it happen," Dr. Allread said.

accreditationAn accreditation plaque providing national recognition of Vidalia as a quality school system was presented at Tuesday night's school board meeting. (L-R) School board members Doug Roper, Jr., Tim Truxel, Board Chairman Bruce Asberry, and board members Julie Torrance and Hal Chesser.

School Superintendent Dr. Garrett Wilcox said, "Obviously myself and the staff and all those folks who participated were extremely proud of the results that we got.  I really believe it's just an indication of the quality of folks we have working in the school system.  The bulk of what goes on is teacher-centered and I think they saw a real strong commitment from our teachers and building-level administrators in what they are doing."

The accreditation is good for five years and during that time the school system will continue to be monitored.

Dr. Wilcox says two areas which need improvement are the system's technology plan and professional development of staff and faculty.

Dr. Mark Elgart, President/CEO of AdvancED, stated, “AdvancED School System Accreditation is a rigorous process that focuses the entire school system on the primary goal of creating lifelong learners. Vidalia City Schools is to be commended for engaging in this process and demonstrating a commitment to continuous improvement.”

 

March 15-- Seven construction projects with a value of more than $7 million are underway or on the near horizon in the City of Vidalia.

City manager Nick Overstreet updated listeners on the construction during this month’s edition of the radio show "Vidalia Today" Tuesday morning.

He expects the $1.1 million dollar upgrade of Airport Road to be completed before thousands arrive for this year's Onioin Festival Airshow. "What was a single two-lane road is a divided highway with a median, lighting and foliage running through the middle of it and beautifies it a lot more," he said.

On the southwest side of town, the Georgia Department of Transportation is starting work Thursday on a $1.3 million dollar project to widen the shoulders of Adams Street and resurface the road from Darby Circle to the intersection of State Highway 135.

The city plans to spend $1.2 million to extend Mose Coleman Road from the area west of Lowe's to the Ezra Taylor Road and the city's regional sports complex.

It also is working on a $140,000 project on Michael Collins Road next to Ruby Tuesdays, "We'll take that road, shape it up a little bit, put some curbing on it and make it a connector from Highway 280 back to Sweet Onion Drive where our new pool facility will be located," he said.

Work is now starting on the new $1.5 million Aquatic Center and Overstreet is hopeful it will be ready by June.  Otherwise, the city will probably have to keep the old Bay Street pool open for its final swim season this summer.

Downtown work is moving along on the $1.9 million renovation of the historic Pal Theater which is scheduled to open in November.

Meanwhile, the nearly $700,000 addition to the Toombs County Boys and Girls Club building in Vidalia is all but complete.  It was funded primarily with a $500,000 community grant from the state of Georgia.

In the same neighborhood, the city is requesting another $750,000 grant to help improve drainage, water and sewer in the Bay Street area.

 

March 14-- Five times in a row! Robert Toombs Christian Academy’s Literary Team is the 2017 GISA 2-AA Region Champion. They have earned this honor for the last five years.

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First place:

Girls Solo – Shelby Thomas

Girls Trio – Shelby Thomas, Rose Bishop, and Kate Sullivan

Extemporaneous Speaking – Cody Masterman-Smith

Spelling – Cody Masterman-Smith

Argumentative Essay – Evan Venable

Dramatic Oral Interpretation – Rose Bishop

Humorous Oral Interpretation – Jarron Guy

Duo Oral Interpretation – Andi Brinson and Blaine Miller

Second Place

Boys Solos – Carson Burton

Extemporaneous Speaking – Roya Adkins

Rhetorical essay – Rose Bishop

Also participating was Mary Hayes Palmer. The students will compete in the State Competition in Valdosta on Tuesday, March 14.

RTCA literary coaches are Mrs. Susan Sullivan, Ms. Christina Trowell, and Mr. Frank Champion. Ms. Trowell was awarded Director of the Year award for region 2AA.

March 14-- Coastal Solar, the leading energy and financial solutions company serving the Southeast, has agreed to become a SunPower Commercial Dealer, joining an exclusive network of companies that sell, install and service SunPower products. SunPower (NASDAQ:SPWR) is one of the nation’s top providers of solar solutions and services.

“We are proud to be part of an elite group of companies that SunPower uses to install their products,” said Clay Sikes, CEO of Coastal Solar. “We know that SunPower carefully selects dealers based on exceptional customer service, premier system design, installation practices, expert solar knowledge and leadership.”

SunPower commercial dealers handle every step of the solar process for customers including system design, installation, and maintenance, as well as financing approach, permitting, and rebate processing. SunPower dealers also complete regular, in-depth training on SunPower products and services ensuring SunPower systems provide lasting value to customers.

Keith Freeman, Chief Designer and Project Manager for Coastal Solar, says SunPower’s products will bring even higher quality to customers. “SunPower's vertically integrated commercial PV system design offers not only a more efficient PV system, but a streamlined installation as well. With the most efficient PV modules on the market today, SunPower and Coastal Solar can now offer the highest capacity PV system in the smallest footprint possible - a real plus for our commercial customers."

About Coastal Solar:

The idea of establishing a solar energy company was born out of a vision and concept that principal owner and CEO, Clay Sikes, had in 2013. Through much diligence, research and prayer this vision has now come to fruition with the acquisition of Coastal Solar Power Company of Savannah, a four year old solar company. Coastal Solar Power Company is now a division of The Sikes Group. The Sikes Group is a leading company in real estate, real estate marketing, land acquisition and development, commercial development and their related services with over 46 years of experience. For more information visit www.CoastalSolar.com

About SunPower:

As one of the world's most innovative and sustainable energy companies, SunPower Corp. (NASDAQ:SPWR) provides a diverse group of customers with complete solar solutions and services. Residential customers, businesses, governments, schools and utilities around the globe rely on SunPower's more than 30 years of proven experience. From the first flip of the switch, SunPower delivers maximum value and superb performance throughout the long life of every solar system. Headquartered in Silicon Valley, SunPower has dedicated, customer-focused employees in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North and South America. For more information about how SunPower is changing the way our world is powered, visit www.sunpower.com.

March 14--  Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

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March 14--  Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

03/06     Mayce Fernando Langston  II            Lyons, Ga.                            Cruelty to Children -1st

03/08     James Emanuel Thomas, Jr.               Mt. Vernon, Ga.                   Battery

03/11     William Randall Barwick                  Vidalia, Ga.                           Theft by Taking (x2)

03/12     Ronald Richard Keon Henderson    Pompano Beach, Fl.               Driving While Unlicensed, Speeding

03/12     Margaret Elizabeth Watford             Alma, Ga.                              Speeding, DUI/Drugs, Failure to Maintain Lane,

                                                                                                          Possession of Marijuana, Possession of Cocaine,

                                                                                                          No Seat Belt, Driving While Unlicensed

March 14-- Edward J. Tarver resigned effective March 11, 2017 as the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. 

Mr. Tarver had served in that office since December of 2009.  James D. Durham assumed leadership of the office as Acting United States Attorney.  Mr. Durham has been First Assistant United States Attorney since January of 2010. Mr. Durham has been with the office since March of 2002.

Acting U.S. Attorney Durham said, “As a Captain in the Army, a federal judicial law clerk and as a United States Attorney, Ed Tarver served the American people with honor and distinction for over 20 years.  We thank Mr. Tarver for his great work on behalf of the Southern District of Georgia, and we wish him the very best as he begins the next chapter of his distinguished career.”  

March 14--  The Toombs County school board held its March meeting last Thursday.  School Superintendent Richard Smith provided minutes and excerpts are below.


During the Superintendent’s Report, Mr. Smith informed the board of recent awards received by our schools. Toombs Central was named a 2016 Title I Reward School for Highest Progress. Lyons Upper Elementary and Toombs Central Elementary were both named 2016 “Beating the Odds” Schools for academic performance beyond what is typically expected given the demographic and socio-economic makeup of the school. Both LUES and TCES are to be commended on their accomplishments.

Toombs County High School was named a 2016 AP Challenge School for offering AP courses to students in the four academic areas of English, math, science and social studies. All awards are evidence of the great work being accomplished by our students, teachers, and staff in the Toombs County Schools.

Mr. Smith also shared a legislative update with the board. Members where provided a list of all the education bills that made it through the cross-over day process and are still alive for passage during this year’s session.

Additionally, an update on the facility project was given by Shannon Chambers. First draft drawings of the work at Toombs Central were shared.


On a motion by Mr. Grimes, seconded by Mrs. Wilkes, the board approved the following personnel
recommendations:

Employment Recommendations: Luray Metzler, Teacher, TCMS; Amy Anken,
Teacher, LUES; Kristen Spikes, Teacher LPS; Jamie Lewis, Teacher, TCHS; Ryan Lewis, Teacher,
TCHS; Barry Waller, Central Office; Anthony Payne, Bus Driver.

Transfers: Kellie Bellflower, TCES
Teacher to TCES Media Specialist; Megan Calhoun, TCES to LPS; Kip Hart, TCHS to TCMS; Stephanie
Lawless, TCMS to Elementary Music.

Resignations: Jessica Scott, Teacher, LUES; Deborah Brown,
Teacher, LPS; Jonell Gonzales, Bus Driver.

2017-2018 Certified Staff:

Jaime Aaron, Hunter Adams,
Mallory Adams, Kim Alexander, Marcella Alexander, Michael Alford, John Allmond, Karen Anderson,
Brandi Anthony, Celetta Aultman, Addy Baker, Jessica Baldwin, Candi Barnett, Melissa Batton, Kellie
Bellflower, Donna Beall, Mandy Beasley, Rhonda Benton, William Beasley, Tara Bishop, Christopher
Travis Blewett, Jala Bohannon, Amber Botelho, Sherri Bowen, Deidre Braddock, Brad Braddy, Hollie
Braddy, Karen Braddy, Londa Braddy, Stephanie Braddy, Patricia Brantley, Selina Brantley, Linda
Bratton, Patricia Brinson, Meredith Brodnax, Tom Brodnax, Traci Brown, Noah Bullard, Kayla Burkett,
Whitney Burkett, Jennifer Burns.

Megan Calhoun, Pam Calloway, Sabrina Campbell, Luther Caraway,
Vicki Caraway, Maria Collins, Nicole Corbitt, Tyler Corley, Caroline Coursey, Rachel Cowart, Pat Craft,
Lindsey Crosby, Rita Curl, Haile Thompson - Darley, Jennifer Davis, Michelle Denmark, Angela
Dennard, Melani Dixon, Sonja Dowd, Jessica Downie, Ryan Durham, Debra Dykes, Courtney Edenfield,
Matilda Edwards, Isaac Ferrell, Angela Findley, Brian Fitzgerald, Derrick Fitzgerald, Coopie Foshee,
Jodi Foster, Ashlen Fowler, Bonnie Gardner, Kim George, Eric Gerrish, Rhonda Gerrits, Christi Gillis,
Trina Graham, Shane Griffin, Kim Hamilton, Jared Hamlin, Pamela Harden, Attallaka Harris-Williams,
Lindsey Harris, Judy Hart, Kip Hart, Laura Hart, Melanie Hart, Brandon Hartley, Jessica Hartley, Lacey
Hartley, Michelle Hayes, Nicholas Hayes, Matthew Helms, Sam Hicks.

Marcy Hill 49%, Rob Hilton,
Teresa Holland, Kayci Howell, Melanie Hutcheson, Robin Jarriel, Brad Jeffcoat, Kim Jenkins, Jessica
Jones, Andrea Kelley, Stephanie Kelly, Heather Kight, Miranda Kight, Sherrill Kirkley, Amelia Lane,
Nichole Larsen, Billie Lashley, Kim Lashley, Stephanie Lawless, Destiny Levant, Dana Lucke, George
Lucke, Dorothy Lyles, Janet Lynn, Rhonda McBride, Olivia McClendon, Ashleigh McCoy, Mark
McDaniel, Nancy McDonald, Linda McKenzie, Ruthie McKenzie, Leslie McLendon, Dana Manning,
Diane Manning, Richard Marsh, Jerrod Martin, Marsha Gail Mason, Brenda Gail Miller, Whitney
Milligan, Mark Montford, Joey Montfort, Heather Moore, Mary Georgia Moore, Megan Morris, Phillip
Morris, Cali Mosley, Alisha Moxley, Sharon Moye, Ann Murphy.

Ashton NeeSmith, Ty NeeSmith, Rachel Nuss, Angie O'Conner, Lana Odom, Tammy Oliver, Callen Outen, Tyler Outen, Terri Overstreet, Michelle Padgett, Nikki Page, Kay Palmer, Donald Parker, Kate Parker, Matt Parker, Rustin Parker, Amanda Peterson, Marshia Pierce, Jimmy Price, YaVonne Quigley, Stacy Reese, April Reddish, Kyle Redmond, Michelle Rhodes, Natalie Richter, Pam Riner, Kathy Roberts, Nicole Roberts, Jill Rodgers, Laken Rodgers, Ryan Rodgers, Sam Rodgers, Denise Rogers, Gloria Rowland, Tonya Sharpe, Wendi Sikes, Laberton Sims, Anna Sitzman, Christy Smesny, Julie Smith, Suzanne Smith, Tammy Smith, Windy Smith, Peggy Snow, Therese Standard, Lisa Stanley, Deanna Stoddard, Bernice Stokes, Kay Summerset, Dee Tapley, Mary Ann Tapley, Jennifer Tatum, Deborah Thigpen, Lorie Tillman, Chelsea Todd, Bonnie Tomberlin, Becky Toole, Candace Toole, Janice Toole, Jessica Toole, Franchester Turner, Brandon Walker, Melody Walker, Nichole Waters, Lisa Watkins, Rosemary Wickstrom, Angie Wilds, Angela Williams, Dana Williamson, Brenda Wilson, Pamelia Wimberly, Terresa Winge, Rusty Wright, Elisabeth Zamorano and Nancy Zeigler.

March 14--  Life is about the choices we make and students at J.R. Trippe Middle School in Vidalia got a lesson on the subject when they boarded "The Choice Bus."

choicebusKailey Dees, State Farm Agent (L), with J.R. Trippe Middle School Principal Sandy Reid.

According to school principal Sandy Reid, "It allows us to link education with life long goals.  What income will I make as a high school dropout?  What income will I make if I graduate from high school versus a trade school or college?  Also, it was reported on the bus that 75% of college inmates are high school dropouts.  Those numbers are strong and the kids make note of that.  Also on the bus is a replica of a prison cell and I think this is the first time these kids have had a chance to see what that life could be like.  It demonstrates how their choices today impact their long term goals and what choices they can make to avoid ending up in a prison cell."

The bus tours the country on behalf of the Mattie Stewart Foundation in Birmingham which was founded by Dr. Shelley Stewart in honor of his mother to reduce the dropout rate among high school students.

Its trip to Georgia was made possible by State Farm Insurance and Vidalia agent Kailey Dees was on hand, "It's so great to hear this clear message that education is important and who you surround yourself with is important.  One of the numbers they throw out there is you'll be making a million dollars more in the course of your lifetime if you finish secondary education.  All it takes is discipline and I'm so glad that State Farm is promoting that."

March 13-- For the past three years, Mercy Ministries in Toombs County has conducted "Faith and Finance" and "Work Life" Courses to help people improve the quality of their lives.

merceyclass(L-R) Carolyn Thompson; Allen Bowden; James Healan; Leanette Hudson; Brenda Wiggs; Saraha Bryant; Merle Richardson; Gordy Thursby; Jennifer Pickels; Sendy Helton.  Not pictured: Tara Gerrits; David Swieringa; Linda Swieringa

Fourteen students graduated in the latest class including Brenda Wiggs, "It helped me to realize where my money was going out the window and after this class, I write down every penny I spend and it's surprising how much you're spending.  It's been a learning experience for me and a blessing. I was a 'shopaholic' and I realized that when I got home and started writing down what I was spending.  It was too much, too much," she said.

We heard the same story from graduate Gordy Thurbis, "Me and my wife started doing a budget plan and we actually found we were spending about $600 a month just to eat out.  That's going out the door, out of our bank accounts, just to eat .  Now we're eating at home more and it's a good thing instead of having that money going out the door," he said.

Thurbis agrees with class instructor Clint Hutcheson that you manage your money better when you realize you're a steward of what God has given you.

"They realize that their money is not just for them, but God intends for us to use our money to do his work in the world.  When you think of it that way, it really changes the way you spend it and the way you gain it.  It's really impactful to realize that it's God's money that's being given to us to utilize," Hutcheson points out.

Hutcheson says more than 75 people have graduated from the Mercy Ministry courses and he believes it's one way to transform the community.

"The way it's transforming our community is that individuals learn how to manage their money and they don't have to go to title pawns and such as that.  If money is there, they are able to provide for their kids and their family and pay the bills, so it's just better all around," he believes.

"We have stories coming back from graduates all the time where they've paid off credit card debt.  We have one family which is now teaching their kids this now, so it has generational abilities to change whole futures," Hutcheson says.

The next course starts in April and a one-hour "Sneak Peek" of what you can expect in the classes is coming Tuesday, March 21 at 5:30 p.m.  For information, click on www.TheMercyMinistries.org.

 

barrongodbeeMarch 13-- Lion Barron Godbee (L) was recognized at the Vidalia Lions Club meeting today for 65 years of service to the Vidalia Lions Club by Lion District Governor Larry Varnadoe. 

March 13-- The Lyons Lions Club Student of the Month program is a program that recognizes deserving students for their “Dedication, Commitment and Service to Others”.   For the month of February, the awards were presented to Oren Morgan of Toombs County High School and Toby Upshaw of Robert Toombs Christian Academy.

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Left photo: Lion Richard Smith (Toombs County School Superintendent), Oren Morgan and Rustin Howard Parker (TCHS Teacher).

Right photo: Lion Hayne Brant (RTCA Assistant Headmaster), Toby Upshaw and Susan Sullivan (RTCA Teacher). 

March 10-- State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said today that a business summit called Employers In The Know will be held in Vidalia on Wednesday, April 5. The summit is one in an annual series of 12 being held throughout the state. This is the fourth year the summits have been offered to employers.  

The summits, which help employers learn how to better understand and conquer compliance challenges in the workplace, are sponsored by the Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) and local employer committees.  This one is co-sponsored by the Altamaha Employer Committee.  

The Vidalia summit will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Hawk’s Point Golf Club located at 1801 North Loop Road.     

“We began holding these seminars because employers throughout the state told us they needed better access to information,” Butler said. “At these seminars, the employers get up-to-date information and the opportunity to network with other employers.  And, as a state agency, we get value from hearing directly from the employers, so we can improve and better serve them.”

Employers are encouraged to pre-register by Wednesday, March 22, but may register at the event. To pre-register, visit dol.georgia.gov look in the Spotlight Section and link to 2017 Regional Business Summits. If pre-registered, the cost to attend is $40 per person, which includes lunch. After March 22, the cost is $50.

Commissioner Butler will discuss current GDOL initiatives and programs designed to encourage job growth and economic development throughout the state. The GDOL provides labor market data necessary for economic developers and businesses to make sound decisions about starting or expanding businesses. The GDOL helps match employers with qualified job seekers, as well as helping job seekers be successful in securing jobs and developing their careers.

Additional experts will discuss a range of employment and legal issues of importance to employers. Other parts of the program include presentations on labor laws, unemployment insurance, and how to use social media to make businesses more profitable. 

Recertification credits (3.75) are pending approval by the Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI). 

For more information about the summit, or to request registration forms, contact
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (404) 274-3949.

March 10-- The Toombs County High School Band earned a SUPERIOR rating at the St. Patrick's Invitational Band Festival at West Lauren's High School. The festival is in it's 16th year and is an official St. Patrick's Day event.

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The band is under the direction of Noah Bullard who is in his 6th year as band director at Toombs County High School.

March 10--  Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits reports the following arrests.

Edge, Cody Elijah - W/M 31 YOA-2012 North Goodbread Rd. Mount Vernon, GA-Theft By Deception

Joyner, Kim R - W/F 29 YOA-1509 New Normanton Rd. Lyons, GA-Warrant Served (Parole Violation)

Brown, Ravin-B/M 34 YOA-119 Blake Dr. Vidalia, GA-Theft by Taking

Jones, Salavan Tebee - B/M 30 195 NE Broad St. Lyons, GA/ Warrant Served (Lyons PD), Interference With Government Property

Bland, Shakeva Monique - B/F- 27 YOA- 704 Broad St. Claxton GA- Bench Warrant (Theft by Shoplifting 2nd Offense)

Cardona, Alexander - W/M- 26 YOA- 595 Wilson Rd. Higgston, GA- Failure To Obey Stop/Yield Sign, Possession Of Marijuana Less Than Ounce, No Driver’s License

Brown, Charles- B/M- 46 YOA- 703.5 Kelley St. Vidalia, GA- DUI- 2nd Offense/Speeding/Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (Second)

March 10--  Nearly two years after a police chase wreck killed Montgomery County Sheriff Ladson O'Connor, the trial of two people accused in his death is scheduled to begin in Montgomery County Superior Court.

Jim Lowery and Dixie Best are facing multiple charges including felony murder in a trial scheduled to start May 1st at the Montgomery County courthouse in Mount Vernon.

Oral arguments on pre-trial motions were heard Wednesday by Superior Court Judge Sarah Wall.

The judge is considering motions regarding a change of venue, separate trials for each defendant and a claim that Lowery was not advised of his Miranda rights to remain silent and to have a lawyer at the time of his arrest.

The saga started the night of June 15, 2015 in south Toombs County when Lowery led Sheriff's deputies on a high speed chase which ended when he wrecked his truck on Highway 221 near Uvalda.  He fled on foot and the 36-year-old woman, his passenger, was taken into custody.

Prior to that Sheriff O'Connor's truck wrecked during the chase and he was killed.  Shots fired from Lowery's vehicle also blew out the tire of a Montgomery County Sheriff's patrol car.

Lowery was captured the morning of June 16th after a shootout with a Georgia State Patrol officer near McNatt Falls in which he suffered a leg wound.

The manhunt involved officers from area jurisdictions and agencies including Treutlen County Sheriff Tommy Corbin.  At Wednesday's hearing, he testified that he had given Lowery his Miranda rights and GBI Agent Lindsey Giddens Wilkes testified she witnessed the exchange between the sheriff and Lowery.

Court officials say they are notifying 350 potential jurors to show up as part of the jury pool.

After the nearly five-hour hearing, Judge Wall said she would rule on the motions within ten days. 

Last September Lowery was sentenced to 15 years in prison by Toombs County Superior Court Judge Kathy Palmer after pleading guilty to assaulting a police officer and to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

 

GEORGIA GYNOCOLOGIST INDICTED FOR RUNNING

PILL MILL AND MONEY LAUNDERING

March 9-- A federal grand jury sitting in Savannah returned a 176-count indictment yesterday against George Mack Bird, III, 58, a Georgia physician who operated a medical practice in Dodge County and a diet clinic in Laurens County.

According to the Indictment, Bird instructed certain of his employees to dispense and distribute various controlled substances and highly addictive opioids using prescription forms that he had pre-signed in violation of federal law.  The Indictment further alleged that, because Bird rarely saw or examined his patients, he directed his employees to utilize pre-printed medical notes to give the appearance that patients had been thoroughly examined, when in fact, they had not.  Bird’s unlawful dispensation scheme was remarkably lucrative, generating more than $4.5 million in proceeds, according to the grand jury.  The Indictment alleged that Bird and others conspired to illegally launder those proceeds by using them to pay for the operating expenses of Bird’s clinics.

Bird, who is currently being held in state custody, faces up to a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.  Additionally, the Government is seeking the forfeiture of Bird’s offices, home, investment properties, and a money judgment of at least $4.5 million.  Approximately $1 million in cash was seized from Bird at the time of his arrest, and federal agents have since seized or frozen an additional $3.9 million held in various bank and investment accounts. 

U.S. Attorney Edward Tarver cautioned that an indictment is only an accusation and is not evidence of guilt.  A defendant is entitled to a fair trial, during which it is the Government’s burden to prove a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.    

The Drug Enforcement Administration is investigating the case with assistance from the Oconee Drug Task Force.

March 9-- Members of the  Toombs County High School chapter of Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) joined over 2,500 members at the Georgia State Capitol for FCCLA Week and FCCLA Day at the Capitol.

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The FCCLA Day at the Capitol is designed to stress the importance of being a young leader in their families, careers and communities. The purpose was to meet with Georgia representatives and senators about Career, Technical and Agricultural Education, Family and Consumer Sciences and FCCLA. Students had the opportunity to tour the capitol and learn about Georgia history. 

Bulldog students met with Senator Blake Tillery and State Representative Greg Morris.  Senator Tillery explained budgeting and used real life examples to demonstrate how the Senate budgets money. 

Sophomore Shelby Mosley said, “Senator Blake Tillery took the time out of re-writing a bill to help teach and welcome us into his office. Showing us what he does was very important to him. “

Sophomore Carlie Morgan was excited about her experience saying, “The day at the capital was very educational, meeting State Representative Greg Morris and Senator Tillery was very inspirational. I loved to represent FCCLA at the capitol and see how the legislative process works in real life instead of books in history class.” 

March 9-- A month-long recycling campaign by students at Sally Meadows Elementary School in Vidalia collected more than a ton-and-a-half of aluminum cans.

The idea to see which class could collect the most cans in February came from Leadership Toombs-Montgomery team members Brandon Boston, Sarah Brown and Nick Overstreet who enlisted sponsors Ameris Bank, Chic-Fil-A, Republic Services and the City of Vidalia.

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Salain Meadows Second Grade Class collected cans weighing nearly a quarter-of-a-ton, "I'm so excited.  They brought them in all the time and every kid in this class participated. They have really learned that it's not only about giving to each other, but giving to our world and our community.  I told them we've taken a bunch of cans off the earth that will now be used for different things and they've help clean the earth up, so I'm just excited that they're learning to give back," she said.

The win earns her students a field trip for lunch at Chic-Fil-A which is also providing lunches at school to the other winning classes in various grades including Kristen Palmer's third grade class, Dawn Dasher's fourth grade class and Shea Phillips' fifth grade class.

The school also received an $1,800 check from Republic Services for the value of the recycled cans.

The Leadership Team's Nick Overstreet commented, "The kids really enjoyed it and that's what it's all about.  It paid off in several ways. It gave them encouragement, it helped the environment and the school got a nice check, so I think everybody won."

 

 

 

 

March 8--  This year's Toombs-Montgomery Youth Leadership Class graduated this week.

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Front Row(L-R) JennaGrace Morrison, Layne Culberson, Jessie Willhite, Josilynn Dasher, Harley Stanfield, Brooke Waller and Jacey Thomas

Second Row (L-R) Jessie Morris, Catherine Domingo, Mary Claire Herin, Hope Denmark, Taylor Thompson, Christian Calloway and Elmer Ivon

Back Row (L-R) Oren Morgan, Noah Stuckless, Rebecca Lawrence,  Ashton Jackson, Bricyn Fitzgerald, Cole Wilkes, Brayden Price, Tyler Calloway and Nate McBride

Not Pictured: Jared Durden, Toby Upshaw and Bradley Williamson

March 8-- House Republicans on the Ways and Means Committee and Energy and Commerce Committee introduced the American Health Care Act this week.

This legislation is part of the House Republican agenda to bring Obamacare relief to Americans.

Twelfth District Congressman Rick Allen released the following statement:

“From the beginning, I have always said my goal was to restore patient-centered, cost-effective and market-driven solutions to our health care system. Standing by this goal, the introduction of the American Health Care Act is the next big and needed step in the repeal and replacement process.

"I look forward to reviewing this bill and working with my colleagues as they markup the first draft to produce a final product that will rescue Americans and American families from the binds of our failing health care system. Americans deserve better than Obamacare—plain and simple.”

Click HERE <https://housegop.leadpages.co/healthcare/> to read the American Health Care Act text.

March 7-- On Saturday March 4, Toombs County High School students traveled to Metter to compete in the Region 2-AA Literary Competition.

Students competed in six different events, and three students were named region champions.The team consists of Caelan Elrod who competed in dramatic oral interpretation and argumentative essay, Chasity Denmark who competed in personal essay, Oren Morgan who won the domestic extemporaneous speaking competition, Brooke Morris who won the rhetorical essay competition, and Corey Pryor who won the international extemporaneous speaking contest.Connor Coxwell attended the competition as an alternate, ready to step in if needed.

The first-place-finishers will represent TCHS in the state competition on March 18. The literary team is coached by Mrs. Rustin Parker.

March 7--  A bill suggested by Vidalia Heritage Academy freshman Briley Braddy passed the Georgia Senate unanimously Friday.

Senate Bill 258 came about as the result of a Youth Scholarship competition sponsored last Summer by Senator Blake Tillery of Vidalia.  The rookie lawmaker offered young people in the 19th Senatorial District the opportunity to author legislation they thought should be considered by the General Assembly.

brileysenateBriley's bill proposed that anyone who owes a municipality money not be allowed to hold office in that city or town.  A similar law is already on the books for counties and the state, but a loophole existed for municipalities. 

Briley served as a Senate Page the day her bill passed and had a photo op with Senator Tillery (L) and Georgia Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle who thanked Briley for her idea which he jokingly told the Senate was the best idea Senator Tillery has had so far.

After crossover day Friday, Senator Tillery reported a bill designed to help rural hospitals failed to pass in the House of Representatives.  The bill would have made 90% of charitable donations to certain rural hospitals tax deductible.  Five hospitals in the district, including Meadows Regional Medical Center in Vidalia, would have benefited from the legislation.  He hopes to find a way to get it passed as an amendment to other legislation.

 

March 7--  Vidalia college student Logan Lawrence was among the speakers at a pro-Trump rally Saturday in Washington, D.C. 

“My Experiences at Saturday’s March4Trump in Washington, D.C.”

By: Andrew Logan Lawrence           

            Let me begin by saying that I am honored to have been invited to speak at Saturday’s March4Trump in Washington, D.C., and to have represented the people of the State of Georgia – particularly, those in my hometown. I owe a debt of gratitude to many for their undying support, and the Sweet Onion City will always hold a special place in my heart. The education that I received and the hard-working men and women who influenced me throughout my early years are those who deserve a few words of thanks.

           trumprrally Arguably, there is no place throughout this nation that more so echoes freedom, hope, and prosperity than upon the lawn of the National Mall, in view of the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial. The March4Trump, a rally which was developed in collaboration with the “Spirit of America” rallies, is directed at fostering positive, non-partisan support for the President, and those who are appreciate our nation’s Democratic way of governance. On Saturday, hundreds gathered in front of the Washington Monument, not as liberal or conservative; not as Jew or Gentile; not as gay or straight. We gathered together, in freezing cold, as Americans who support our President, our Democracy, and share a hope for a better tomorrow.

            Our nation is in trouble. Our urban cities are in chaos. Our police, who put their lives on the line every single day to protect us, are waging a war with the common evil. Many are without jobs. For eight years, we have suffered under as administration and a President that has failed to recognize organized, radical Islamic terror for what it is – terror. We have suffered under a failing healthcare program, which many like me – a single, young college student, cannot afford to pay into. We have lost our sense of what it means to be American underneath failing fiscal policies, bathroom rights, and pro-globalist immigration standards. America is a place that is far different from the one I remember as a child in the 1990’s, and it is time that someone gets this nation back on track.

            During my speech, I called upon Americans like me; those who are young and conservative, and optimistic about our future under a Trump administration. I reminded them that the America of today is not the America that we have to accept. The country will not change overnight, but if we lend our support to the man sitting in the Oval Office, we have a far greater shot at beginning the journey to becoming a brighter, better America for everyone. Hoping that the captain of the American ship fails, will mean that we all fail, and I made sure to remind the Antifa protesters of this as they heckled me during my speech.

            I called upon my generation to make their voices heard, but to never infringe upon the rights of others. My message was positive and inclusive, and I invoked the teachings of great leaders like Martin Luther King Jr., who stood upon the Mall some 54 years prior, to spread the message of organized change and peaceful acitivism. Greatness in our country is measured in hard-earned victories. We take ten steps back when we burn buildings, assault others, or infringe on the rights of our fellow Americans. Active communal voices make America the nation that she is.

            I also spoke briefly on the influences of social media, a sword wielded by many young Americans. Social media is no longer be used to serve as a positive communication link between friends and family. Social media is now being used to primarily create fear among the American people, and to foster overt lies, which discredit the Trump administration, damage reputations, and do absolutely nothing to positively support change in this country. The media controls the minds of the masses, and we are allowing ourselves to turn the intentions of President Trump and his administration into one of guilt and culpability. On this day, we gathered on the National Mall, bearing the cold, and a group of violent protesters, to take the second step in no longer being known as the silent majority – we took the first on November 8, 2016, when we elected Donald J. Trump to serve as the 45th President of the United States.

            After the conclusion of my speech, I was rushed by reporters from outlets such as Reuters, Breitbart, NBC, and a number of international public media outlets. I was also approached by a producer with NHK in Japan, who is interested in filming a documentary about my experiences as an LGBT, Jewish, Trump supporter. I have also received an offer to discuss publishing a book I have been working on about young, millennial conservatives. I will accept no money for these ventures, as they run contrary to my goals in making the voices of other young Americans like myself heard.

            I would love to connect with you all on Facebook, and to hear your stories. If you would like to keep up with my journey, connect with me via Facebook or LinkedIn.

 

yenMarch 7--  My name is "Yen" and I'm a mixed-breed Bulldog at the Vidalia Animal Shelter.  I love people and oher animals and I'm yearning for a family, a yard and running in the breeze.  Please call my keeper, April Braddy, at the shelter, 537-8866, and let's get together.  Thank You.

March 7-- The Lyons Lions Club Student of the Month program is a program that recognizes deserving students for their “Dedication, Commitment and Service to Others”.   For the month of January, the awards were presented to Jared Durden of Robert Toombs Christian Academy  and Estreya DeJesus of Toombs County High School.

201701 StudentsoftheMonth
Lion Mark Findley, Ashley Lampp (RTCA Teacher), Jared Durden, and Lion Hayne Brant (Headmaster RTCA) Sabrina Campbell (TCHS Teacher), Lion Richard Smith (Toombs County School Superintendent), and Estreya DeJesus.

March 6--  A Cedar Crossing man is being charged with murder in the death of an Uvalda man in October, 2015.

STEVENPITTMANAccording to Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin, 24-year-old Steven Cody Pittman was arrested at his residence in Cedar Crossing on Friday.  He is being charged with the shooting death and armed robbery of 55-year-old George Nash, Jr. on October 31, 2015.  A family friend found Nash's body in his yard at 400 Isle of Hope Road near Uvalda.  He died of a gunshot wound to the head.

Chief Deputy Ronnie Bivins stated that after the initial report of Mr. Nash’s murder, he and GBI agents interviewed approximately fifty-one persons of interest and subsequently, two persons of interest were given lie detector tests. 

Approximately three weeks ago, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation received new information that had confirmed previous statements taken in 2015. Chief Bivins states, “Cody Pittman was an original person of interest. With the new evidence and information obtained, we have made an arrest. I would like to thank the local citizens who have shared information that assisted in this investigation. Over six agents with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Eastman Office and civilian employees with the State of Georgia assisted in information gathering, interviewing, and evidence collection that helped lead us to this arrest”.

Sheriff Maybin said, “I would like to thank the agents of the Eastman GBI Office for their dedication and hard work. Over the past two years, they have worked tirelessly to ensure that the murder of George Nash did not grow cold. Special Agent Danielle O’Connor was an asset to the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and the new information she received resulted in a break in this case. Thanks to the diligence of Agent O’Conner and the investigators of the Sheriff’s Office, we were able to make the arrest.”

Shefiff Maybin suspects the killing may have been drug-related.  Pittman was out on pass from a drug rehabilitation center in Dodge County at the time of his arrest.

Sheriff Maybin states that the investigation will continue and anyone with information may contact the Sheriff’s Office or the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

 

March 6--  Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

02/28     Tayin Bi-Alika Mitchell                      Vidalia, Ga.                           Possession of Marijuana <1oz., Possession of Drug

                                                                                                                         Related Objects

03/01     Shemika Nekole Jordan                     Vidalia, Ga.                           Felony Probation Warrant Served

03/02     Jontavious Orion Williams                 Ailey, Ga.                              Speeding, Driving w/Suspended License

03/03     Steven Cody Pittman                         Uvalda, Ga.                          Murder, Armed Robbery

03/04     Willie George Campbell                      Vidalia, Ga.                        DUI, Failure to Maintain Lane

03/04     Airion Donquavious Johnson            Mount Vernon, Ga.             DUI, Driving w/Suspended License, Operating Vehicle

                                                                                                        w/o Insurance

March 6--  Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

tcblot6mar

 

 

March 6-- Congratulations to the members of the 2017 Vidalia Comprehensive High School Literary Team who received the highest honors at the Georgia High School Association Region 2-AA Literary Meet Saturday at Metter High School, bringing home the Region Champion trophy for the fourth consecutive year in music and literary events.  In a region that includes Bacon County, Benedictine, Bryan County, Jeff Davis, Metter, and St. Vincent's Academy, Swainsboro, and Toombs County, Vidalia’s performances brought home the Region Title.

In the music events division for the GHSA, there are four categories of competition: Girls’ Solo, Boys’ Solo, Girls’ Trio, and Boys’ Quartet. Under the direction of choral director John Morgan, girls’ Soloist Chastity Oliver, soprano, won the region Girls’ Solo title with her renditions of a Handel’s Italian aria “Care Selve” and “Climb Every Mountain” by Rodgers and Hammerstein. Walker Wheeler, baritone, took first place as Boys’ Soloist singing “Si tra i ceppi” in Italian by Handel and “Ride On King Jesus” arranged by Burleigh.

Kali Hodges, Lyric Wardlaw, and Lydia Yawn, performing for VCHS as Girls’ Trio, won the region title performing Marenzio’s “The Lovely Rose” A Cappella and “Hard-Hearted Hannah.” The VCHS Boys’ Quartet, Anthony Edgerton, Landon Lindsay, Landon Miller, and Walker Wheeler, performed “The Farmer’s Boy,” an English Air arranged by R. Vaughn Williams, and “Bad Buncha Boys Singin’ Barbershop.” Their performance earned them the top honor in the region meet as well.

Under literary coach Hollie Ikner, other VCHS students also excelled. Besides the music events, the other literary events include personal, rhetorical, and argumentative essay writing; dramatic, humorous, and duo oral interpretation; and domestic and international extemporaneous speaking.

First place finishers were Derman Simmons (personal essay writing), Jason Bauer (dramatic oral interpretation), Samantha Stanley (humorous oral interpretation), and Lydia Yawn and Taylor O’Neal (duo oral interpretation). Other team members who contributed to VCHS success were William Velasquez (argumentative essay writing), Alisa Velazquez (rhetorical essay writing), Rena McKenzie (domestic extemporaneous speaking), and Bryce Spivey (international extemporaneous speaking).

VCHS earned First Place overall in the region, bringing home the region trophy. The school and community can be very proud of this Literary Team. Congratulations to these excellent students, and to Hollie Ikner, Literary Coach, and John Morgan, Choral Director at Vidalia High.

March 6-- Toombs Central Elementary School has been named as a 2016-2017 Title I Reward School by the Georgia Department of Education. TCES receives its award as a High-Progress School, showing outstanding growth over a three year period.

Principal Tonawanda Irie states, "I am so proud of our students, faculty, staff, and community! It takes a village to make it happen. This is a testament to the dedication and hard work that is done by my staff on a daily basis!"

“This just further shows the commitment to excellence that Toombs Central has. Mrs. Irie and the TCES staff work hard every day to help students become successful,” said Superintendent Richard Smith

A High-Progress School is among the top 10 percent of the state’s Title I schools making the most progress in improving the performance of the “all students” group over three years on the statewide assessments. A school may not be classified as a High-Progress School if it has been identified as a Priority or Focus School. Between the 2013 and 2015, Toombs Central met this criteria.

“These schools and districts are working against the odds to provide an excellent education for their students,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “This is so much more than numbers or data. We are talking about changed lives for thousands of students. I can’t overstate how proud I am of every teacher, administrator, and parent who worked to make that happen.”

March 6-- Two schools in the Toombs County School System have received state recognition for their high performance and overcoming barriers faced by their students.

Lyons Upper Elementary and Toombs Central Elementary both have been named by State School Superintendent Richard Woods as “Beating the Odds” schools for 2016. They are receiving this distinction for performing better than they are statistically expected on the College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI).

The Beating the Odds analysis predicts a range within which a school’s CCRPI score is statistically expected to fall – given the school’s size, grade cluster, student mobility, and student demographics (including race/ethnicity, disability, English learners, and poverty). If an individual school’s actual CCRPI is above the predicted range, then that school beat the odds.

Of the 1,037 schools that beat the odds In Georgia last year, most (731) of the schools had poverty rates of 25 percent or more, and 437 had poverty rates of 40 percent or more. Over 25% of the families in Toombs County live below the poverty line.

“We view these schools as major success stories,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “In fact, it’s difficult to fully express the magnitude of what they’ve achieved. Statistically, a high rate of poverty presents multiple barriers to achievement, but these schools are beating the odds and doing excellent work on behalf of Georgia students.”

“This type performance is not an accident. It’s because of the leadership of our principals like Mrs. Irie and Mrs. Nobles, and the talented, dedicated staff that work with our students each day. It is a team effort and it only makes our entire system better,” stated Superintendent Richard Smith.

March 3--  Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports three cases regarding sex crimes with children.

gunnerOn January 21, Sheriff Kight says 20-year-old Dalton Gunner Carter of Vidalia was charged with Enticing a Child for Indecent Purposes.  As a result of an undercover investigation, he was arrested after traveling from Vidalia to Lyons to have sex with a child.

bambergOn February 17, 36-year-old truck driver Marc Robert Paul Bamberg of Vidalia was charged with Aggravated Child Molestation and Enticing a Child for Indecent Purposes.  He was denied  bond by a Toombs County Magistrate Judge.

mooresexOn February 23, 42-year-old Larry Jay Moore, Sr. of Lyons was arrested for Child Molestation and Enticing a Child for Indecent Purposes.  He has been released on $10,000 bond.

According to Sheriff Kight, Moore was employed as a bus driver by the Vidalia City School System and as a recreation department leader by the Toombs County Recreation Department at the time of his arrest.  Investigators have not discovered any victims who were under Moore's supervision while employed as a bus driver or recreation department leader, the Sheriff reports. 

March 3-- The Armstrong State University/Georgia Southern University Consolidation Implementation Committee (CIC) will review four key recommendations developed by the Operational Working Groups at its meeting today regarding the naming of campuses and support for student athletes.  

Preserving the name and legacy of Armstrong State University is a priority for the CIC and will be an important part of the new Georgia Southern University. These recommendations reflect the views of the campus community, including Armstrong’s alumni leaders.

“We are pleased to be moving forward with recommendations focusing on the naming of the Savannah and Hinesville campuses as well as athletics,” said Georgia Southern University President Jaimie L. Hebert. “We are grateful to Armstrong’s alumni, students, faculty and staff, who played an important role in developing and vetting the naming recommendation that will be reviewed by the Consolidation Implementation Committee. This is a prime example of the great care and concern that goes into decisions at every stage of this process.” 

In addition, the Athletics working group has worked diligently to form recommendations concerning athletics to ensure that student-athletes have the information needed to make informed decisions about their athletic and academic careers.

“Providing answers to questions affecting Armstrong’s student-athletes, including scholarships as well as transfer status, has been a high priority for the Consolidation Implementation Committee,” said Armstrong State University President Linda M. Bleicken. “We want to ensure that our student-athletes have as many options as possible as the consolidation process moves forward. I am grateful for the collaboration between Armstrong and Georgia Southern representatives as we work to combine the strengths of two impressive institutions with a shared commitment to student success.”

At today’s CIC meeting, the following recommendations will be presented for consideration:

Naming of Campuses in Savannah and Hinesville: The Savannah campus of the new Georgia Southern University will be formally named the Armstrong Campus and the Hinesville campus will be formally named the Liberty Campus.

Name Preservation: All named structures at Armstrong State University will retain their names after consolidation.

Athletic Scholarships: All athletics-related scholarships for affected student athletes will be honored, provided students are making satisfactory academic progress. This plan will allow student athletes who are affected by the consolidation to continue to pursue their college degree at Armstrong and the new Georgia Southern University.

Transfer Status for Division II Student-Athletes: The new Georgia Southern University will compete in Division I athletics. Armstrong State University currently competes in Division II athletics. Student-athletes at Armstrong will be immediately issued open transfer status by Armstrong’s athletic administration, with the exception of softball, whose playing season is currently in progress. When softball season has concluded, the participating student athletes will immediately be issued an open transfer status by Armstrong’s athletic administration. Open transfer status means student athletes do not have to sit out a year if they have the opportunity to play for another college or university.

Detailed information regarding scholarships and transfer status will available on the consolidation website,http://consolidation.georgiasouthern.edu/. Decisions about Armstrong State’s 2017-2018 athletic season and the long-term plan for intercollegiate athletics on the current Armstrong campus will be made at a later date.

On Jan. 11, 2017, the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia voted to consolidate Armstrong State University and Georgia Southern University, ultimately creating a new Georgia Southern University with three campus locations in Savannah, Hinesville and Statesboro. The Consolidation Implementation Committee, Functional Area co-chairs and Operational Working Groups uniting Armstrong and Georgia Southern faculty and staff will spend the coming months examining and working through all aspects of the consolidation.

The CIC will submit, for consideration, a prospectus for the new university to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges in September 2017 and to the Board of Regents in December 2017. If approved, the effective start date for the new institution will be January 2018. The tentative timeline for the first entering class of the new Georgia Southern University will be in fall of 2018.

ABOUT GEORGIA SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY:
Georgia Southern University, a public Carnegie Doctoral/Research University founded in 1906, offers more than 125 degree programs serving 20,673 students. Through eight colleges, the University offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs built on more than a century of academic achievement. Georgia Southern is recognized for its student-centered and hands-on approach to education. Visit GeorgiaSouthern.edu.

ABOUT ARMSTRONG STATE UNIVERSITY:

Armstrong State University, part of the University System of Georgia, was founded in 1935. Today, the university offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate academic programs in the College of Liberal Arts, the College of Science and Technology, the College of Education and the College of Health Professions. Armstrong serves approximately 7,100 students at its main campus in Savannah and at a regional center in Hinesville. The university’s diverse student population comes from 43 states, the District of Columbia and 67 countries. Visit Armstrong.edu.   

March 3--  Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits reports the following arrests.

Maggard, Miranda Lee-W/F 32 YOA- 1809 Holt Rentz Road Hazelhurst, GA 31539- Warrant Served

Padgett, Jeremy Wayne- W/M 34 YOA- 15028 Lake Church Road, Metter GA 30439- Speeding 21-30 MPH/ No Driver’s License (30 Day Resident Requirement)

Pinkney, Joseph- B/M- 36 YOA- 1205 McIntosh St. Vidalia, GA- VGCSA (Violation of Georgia Controlled Substances Act)

Roundtree, Tyler Royshawn - B/M 17 YOA/ 502 Thompson St. Vidalia, Ga. / Possession of Marijuana Less Than Ounce

Holland, Shonta Sheneall - B/F 35 YOA/ 311 Orange St. St. Vidalia, Ga. / Possession of Marijuana Less Than Ounce

Moye, James Douglas- W/M- 35 YOA- 308 Findley Cemetery Rd. Lyons, GA- Obstruction (Simple)/Theft by Shoplifting

Dean, Ryan Lamar-W/M 21 YOA-118 James Johnson Rd Vidalia, GA-Warrant Served (Bibb County)/Possession of A Controlled Substance

Pittman, Stephanie D-W/F 19 YOA-1139 Old Normantown Rd Lyons, GA-Possession of A Controlled Substance

Gardiner, Stephanie Ann-W/F 27 YOA-607 Adams St. Vidalia, GA-Warrant Served (Vidalia Probation)/Possession of A Controlled Substance

Morris, Lannie Howard-W/M 33 YOA-24 S Bell St. Swainsboro, GA-Possession of A Controlled Substance

Clark, Seth Ashon- W/M- 18 YOA- 118 Cat Squirrel Road, Glendwood GA 30428- Possession Of Marijuana Less than Ounce/ Driving With Expired Tag

Howard, Clinton Jr- B/M- 28 YOA- 913 Bay St, Vidalia Ga- Warrant Served (Toombs County)

Simpkins, Antonio Jamar- B/M- 29 YOA- 1208 Easter Dr Apt 11 Vidalia, Ga- Simple Battery/ Cruelty To Children

Jenkins, Beverly Michelle- W/F- 40 YOA- 134 Zandra Ave. Lyons GA- Warrant Served (Probation Warrant- Theft by Shoplifting)/ Possession Of A Controlled Substance/ Possession Of Drug Related Object/ Criminal Trespass

Reed, Shannon Andra-B/F- 31 YOA- 214 Dexter St, Vidalia Ga- Warrant Served

 

March 2--  Twelfth District Congressman Rick Allen reacted to President Trump's address Tuesday night to a joint session of Congress.

allenonfloor“Tuesday night  Americans everywhere heard the President outline his vision for our country. Focused and forward thinking, his vision revives the American spirit— a spirit in all of us no matter our background or circumstances. In his short time in office, we have already seen promises kept and immediate action. Real people have real problems, and the President’s agenda is not a checklist of issues, but rather an acknowledgment and response to the nation’s outcry and demand for change.

For the past 8 years, Americans have been left behind by policies created inside the beltway with little to no regard for the average Joe and Joanne. Not anymore. Our President is using his business sense to begin chipping away at the ice around our frozen economy, rescinding rules and regulations to provide job creators an economy to flourish in. He has made it his top priority to secure our country by rebuilding our military, supporting law enforcement, enforcing current laws and protecting our borders.

While momentum is building, there is much work to be done. Tax reform and Obamacare repeal and replacement lie in front of us. Georgians and folks all across America deserve better than Obamacare and the President is determined to provide relief to Americans at all costs—working across the aisle and asking Democrats to join him. Our President is not afraid to step outside his comfort zone to keep his word to Americans.

These are the reasons Americans sent Trump to Washington, and these are the reasons Georgians in the 12th district sent me to Congress; two businessmen bringing decades of experience in building a business to rebuild America. I am excited to work with President Trump, Vice President Pence and the new Administration to restore America to its full potential. It’s a new day in Washington.”

March 1--  An entrepreneur who took the Vidalia automotive market by storm a few years ago is expanding his dealership into the Paul Thigpen Chevrolet SuperCenter.

thigpenground

At groundbreaking ceremonies this week, Paul Thigpen said his goal is to sell 250 vehicles a month at the new SuperCenter location on Highway 280 East across from the Walmart Shopping Center.

After starting his career with $300 in his pocket at the age of 18, Thigpen believes the sky is the limit for anyone willing to dream big and work hard to make it happen.

"I feel it's all about getting after it.  If you want something, don't make an excuse.  Even if you you don't feel good, go to work, so what!  Get over yourself, go to work.  If you don't want to work 70 hours a week, don't complain when you don't have the dreams come true that your dreamed of," he advises.

Thigpen is proud that his dream is coming true and says about the new SuperCenter, "For me one of the biggest things is bringing something that's going to be beautiful in this community.  We're not doing it halfway, it's going to be outstanding and something for people to say, 'Wow, that looks nice.'

paulthigpenbldg

 

March 1--  A company which started as a rural telephone cooperative in 1951 in Adrian has grown to a full service telecommunications company and is expanding its service to businesses in Vidalia and Lyons.

pinelandribbonPineland Phone, Internet, TV, Computer and Security held a ribbon-cutting for its new office on Maple Drive in Vidalia Wednesday afternoon. The company provides services to residential and commercial customers in a 1,200 square mile area ranging from Washinton County to Evans County.  General Manager Dustin Durden believes the Vidalia market offers a great opportunity for growth.

"We offer the same technology as the big telecommunications companies like AT&T, but the difference is our people. When you call us, we answer the phone and we're always on call," Durden said.

 

March 1-- Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner Ralph Hudgens is urging everyone to change the batteries in their smoke alarms at the same time they change their clocks to daylight saving time on March 12.

“The annual change to daylight saving time is the perfect opportunity to make sure your smoke alarms are working properly,” Hudgens said. “Changing the batteries in each device is the easiest way to ensure continued protection of your family and property.”

In 2016, approximately 106 residential fires in Georgia resulted in 141 deaths. Of those fires, 96 of the homes did not have a working smoke alarm. This year, 22 Georgians have died in 18 residential fires, with only two of the homes having a working smoke alarm.

Commissioner Hudgens encourages all residents to test and clean dust from the smoke alarms monthly. He also recommends that you plan and practice an escape route to the outside of you home in the event of a fire.

Daylight saving time starts Sunday, March 12, at 2 a.m., when clocks are set ahead one hour.

March 1--  A Vidalia college student is among those speaking at a "March for Trump" rally this weekend in Washington.

Logan Lawrence attended the President's inauguration ceremony last month and now is returning to speak at noon Saturday in front of the Washington Monument.  Afterwards those attending the Trump rally will march to a Spirit of America rally in front of the White House.

loganlawrencejpgLawrence describes himself as a millennial with a conservative message for his generation.

"My speech will focus a lot on a call to action for millennial conservatives.  There are very few of us and that's obvious if you're a student at any public university in the United States.  My call to action is really for those who appreciate the democratic form of government who want to come out and show patriotism and show support for the administration because, at the end of the day, President Trump is still the President of the United States," he said.

"I'm touching on the Affordable Care Act, immigration and the media.  I don't think they are doing it well. It's the job of the media to present facts to the people and for the people to use those facts to form their own opinions.  I'll also be talking about how social media is being used to create a sense of guilt and culpability about the President.  A lot of people harbor negative views and intentions they think the President has," Lawrence believes.

Lawrence graduated from Vidalia High School two years ago and is enrolled at Armstrong State University in Savannah.

"You know it's really hard for someone who identifies as a conservative in an university to engage in that discussion with their professors and other students without feeling that you are being attacked.

"There are students who sit in classrooms who are forced to hear the opinionated views of their professor being cast off as scholarly fact who are afraid to speak up because the professor decides if they pass the course.  If they want a degree to graduate and to get a job, they have to pass these classes.  There's a fear among many millennial conservatives to speak up and engage in debate because they're worried if their professor will hold some kind of academic vendetta against them for holding those views.

"If you speak up, you're going against the firing squad in the university.  There are a lot of professors who don't even teach courses which are politically-centered who throw snarky remarks in about the Trump administration or conservatives and just make condescending remarks," Lawrence observes.

"You know it's no surprise that conservatives in my generation are a dying breed," he said. "I grew up in Vidalia which is a pretty conservative place, but as far as influences go, my family has identifed as a Democrat family for many years. However, I'm someone who considers himself as anti-Federalist.  I believe in states rights and I don't believe that the judiciary should be legislating from the bench.  I'm also a very fiscally conservative person and I believe that we should have a stricter immigration policy and health care that those in my generation can afford," he said.

Logan's views have also been presented on the pages of The Savannah Morning News.  He was first invited to relate his experiences at the inauguration and has since written some commentaries.

 

 

February 28-- Congratulations to two Vidalia City Schools singers who earned the right to perform with the prestigious Georgia Music Educators Association All State Chorus for 2017.

vhssingersLuke Stinnett and Walker Wheeler, both freshmen choral students at VCHS, proved their talents in a rigorous audition process before professional judges. The 2017 All State Chorus performed a concert in Athens Saturday.

Students who elect to enter All-State auditions endure a two-tiered elimination process. The first audition consists of three “a capella” scales, a prepared art song (solo), and three sight-reading exercises. Sight-reading means that students must read music that they have never seen before and accurately sing it before the judge after studying it for only thirty seconds. Over 9000 students from across the state competed this year for positions in this chorus. Approximately 1400 were selected to go on to the second tier of auditions that were held in January. This final audition required all students to sing their vocal lines from the actual literature that the All State Chorus performs in concert.

Only the finest singers from the final audition make the cut, and these two Vidalia students did just that, with both students being assigned to the lowest bass section of the choir.

Prior to the Allstate performance, the students endured 11 hours of rehearsals with the group, and presented a wonderful concert on the Classic Center stage.

The world's finest choral conductors covet an invitation to conduct the GMEA All-State Choruses, considered among the finest in the nation. Luke and Walker sang under the baton of Dr. Jeffrey Benson, Director of Choral Activities at San Jose’ State University, performing difficult choral works by Martini, Gjeilo, Benson, Pascanu, Childs and Johnson. Congratulations to Luke Stinnett and Walker Wheeler, and to John Morgan, Choral Director at Vidalia Comprehensive High School.