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October 31--  Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits reports the following arrests.

Santos, Valerie Marie- B/F- 43 YOA- 106 Everett St. Apt. 1 Vidalia, GA- Criminal Trespass

Chavis, Jeminey- W/M- 35 YOA- 101 Tompkins- Possession of Marijuana Less Than Ounce

Bohannon, Wanda Gail- W/F- 35 YOA- 101 Tompkins Rd. Hazlehurst, GA- Possession of Marijuana Less Than Ounce

Heard, Anthony Allen- B/M- 55 YOA- 1609 Clyde Blvd Vidalia, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense

Gonzalez, Edith Garcia- H/F- 33 YOA- 126 Mallory Rd. Reidsville, GA- No Driver’s License/Seatbelt Violation/Child Restraint Over 8/Child Restraint Under 8 (First Offense)

Byrd, Rodney Donta- B/M- 41 YOA- 140 Lake Dr. Vidalia, GA- Following Too Closely/Failure to Maintain Lane/Passing Within 200 Ft of Oncoming Traffic/Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (Second)

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Travis Andrews, Lyons, DUI, No Insurance, Driving with Expired License and Tag

Coty Jackson, Lyons, Possession of a Controlled Substance and Marijuana

Thadus Polke, Lyons, Family Violence/Battery

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Kathy Whitaker, Lyons, DUI, Open Container Passenger, Failure to Maintain Lane, Endangering a Child, Safety Belt Violation

Jordan Willis, Reidsville, Methamphetamine Purchase, :Possession, Manufacturing, Distribution  Sale, Marijuana Possession, Seat Belt Violation

Estela Pacheco, Lyons, DUI, Failure to Maintain Lane, Driving Unlicensed

Daquan Peeples, Vidalia, Probation Violation

Jesus Sanchez, Swainsboro, Speeding, Driving Unlicensed

Gabriel Sharpe, Vidalia, Child Support

Martin Drew, Lyons, Failure to Appear

Savalas Harden, Claxton, Open Container, Driving while License Suspended/Revoked, Running Stop & Yield Signs

Devon Meeks, Glennville, Probation Violation

Bryce Clements, Lyons, Marijuana Possession, Headlight

Blake Cook, Cobbtown, Driving with License Suspended/Revoked

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

10/23 – Angel Randell Anthony, Vidalia, Criminal Damage to Property -1st, Criminal Trespass

10/24 – Sabrina Wicker, Mount Vernon, Possession of Firearm During Commission of Crime, Possession of Cocaine w/Intent, Possession of Controlled Substance w/Intent (x2), Possession of Marijuana w/Intent

10/26 – Saviyah Javioun Brantley, Mount Vernon, Bondsman Off Bond

10/26 – Ashtin Brooke Beecher, Uvalda, Burglary

10/26 – Payne Andres Herrera, Uvalda, Burglary (x2) Possession of Controlled Substance (x2)

Earlier this year, Chief Deputy Ronnie Bivins made two undercover purchases of cocaine from Timmy Jackson of Mount Vernon.

montdrugs1On Tuesday, October 24th, agents from the Oconee Drug Task Force, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, and Mt. Vernon Police Department executed a search warrant at the Connell Street residence of Timmy Jackson. Items seized include Ecstasy, cocaine, marijuana, and prescription narcotics.

Sabrina Wicker was arrested and charged with Possession of Firearm During Commission of Crime, Possession of Cocaine w/Intent, Possession of Controlled Substance w/Intent (x2), and Possession of Marijuana w/Intent.

Timmy Jackson remains at large and faces additional charges for Sale of Cocaine (x2), Possession of Marijuana w/Intent, Possession of Controlled Substance w/Intent (x2), Possession of Cocaine w/Intent and Possession of Firearm During Commission of Crime.



October 31--  Eighteen women participated in the City of Vidalia Police Department Women’s Firearm Safety Training Course which included classroom instruction and firing at the police department firing range.  The course was taught over three consecutive Saturdays by Captain Randy Clark, Corporal Daron Tuten, and Officer Christopher Morgan.

Chief Frank Waits reports that it was a great success and he is looking forward to planning a second class.

firearmstrainingFirst Row (L-R) Sharon Robertson, Deloris Brooks, Debra O’Neal, Donna Avera, Connie Szakacs, Kaye Arnold, Brenda Helms, Jennifer Cardinal, Crystal Kennedy, Corporal Daron Tuten, Sergeant Randal Holcomb, Sergeant Ronald A. Rollins

Second Row (L-R) Luann Alley, Lyn Oxley, Lisa Chesser, Meridy Cochran, Judy Gay, Renee Mosley, Pam Hamilton, Captain Randy Clark, Sandra Hammock, Marissa Hammock

Third Row (L-R) Captain James Jermon, Matt Oxley, Officer Christopher Morgan, Carlton Winslett, Lieutenant Garry Colson, Assistant Chief Roger Calloway

October 31-- Three members of the Toombs County FFA participated in the Tree Identification Competition in Augusta.  These students had to identify 25 trees based on their leaves, fruit and bark. They competed as a team and placed 1st and 2nd overall.

Team members include Dylan Wommack, Jarrett Thompson, Brooke Hadden, Mackenzie Cook, Kyle Knight, Olivia Johnson, and Emma Creamer.

In the individual senior competition, Dylan Wommack placed first Jarrett Thompson placed second, Brooke Hadden placed 3rd, and Mackenzie Cook, Kyle Knight, Olivia Johnson each tied for 4th. Emma Creamer placed 1st in the junior individual competition. These students were awarded a plaque and cash prizes for their accomplishments.

ffafair(L-R): Back Row- Jarrett Thompson, Dylan Wommack, Kyle Knight, Mackenzie Cook, and Olivia Johnson.

Front Row: Brooke Hadden, Kayleigh Montford, and Emma Creamer.

October 30--  Almost two-thirds of all Georgians are organ donors and LifeLink Georgia is looking for more.

Tracie Ide works with LifeLink and knows from personal experience the impact donors can have, "With my Mom being a two-time heart and one-time kidney recipient, we know truly the impact of being an organ donor and signing up to be an organ donor because my Mom is now a three-time grandmother because of two people's decision to give the gift of life."

organdonorVidalia Rotarian Angie McDaniel (left) invited Tracie Ide to speak to the club regarding organ donors.

LifeLink Georgia serves as go-between for donors and hospitals, "To be an organ donor, you have to be brain dead and to be brain dead you're going to be in a hospital on mechanical support and the hospital is required by law to contact us.  If you die in a car wreck, we work with coroners and funeral homes who can make a referral to us so we can check with the family to see if a donation is possible," Ide says.

You may be surprised how many people one donor can help, "One organ donor can help 75 people.  We have eight solid organs which can be recovered to help eight individuals.  Then there's all the tissues we have, your skin, bone, tendons, cartilage, and eyes can help up to 60 people.  Put all that together and about 75 people can benefit from one person.  That's a huge legacy to leave behind knowing 75 people are behind because of a decision you made," she points out.

The organization also tries to dispel myths about donating organs, "Some people think that if they're in the hospital, doctors aren't going to try to save their life if they are an organ donor.  That's not true, they are there to save your life, that's their job.  LifeLink comes in only after the doctors have done all they can do.  There's no cost to donation, there's no age limit to donation and the process doesn't disfigure your body.  You can still have an open casket funeral," Ide says.

You can sign-up to be an organ donor when you get your driver's license or you can sign-up online at


October 29-- Larry’s Giant Subs of Vidalia donated 10% of proceeds of sales to Meadows Healthcare Foundation and Team Steppin’ 4 Ta-Ta’s to support local citizens who are fighting breast cancer.

Larry’s Giant Subs Manager Jeanette Scott presented checks to Diane Green, breast cancer survivor and Vidalia’s Steppin’ 4 Ta-Ta’s team member, and Cindy Williams, Meadows Healthcare Foundation Chair. “We are so happy to help with such a well-deserved cause," Scott said. "We certainly expect to continue to do what we can to help those affected by breast cancer in our community.”

larrys Left to right: Robyn Banks, Steppin’ 4 Ta-Ta’s Team Captain; Linda Grimes, Steppin’ 4 Ta-Ta’s Team Member; Diane Green, breast cancer survivor and Steppin’ 4 Ta-Ta’s Team Member; Jeanette Scott, Larry’s Giant Subs Manager; Cindy Williams, Meadows Healthcare Foundation Chair.




PAULAPaula Thomas, Meadows Regional Medical Center PACU RN, received the September DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses.

The award is part of the DAISY Foundation’s program to recognize nurses who go above and beyond in providing excellent care to their patients every day. Meadows Regional Medical Center, a proud DAISY Award hospital partner, recognizes one nurse each month to receive the special award.

Thomas was nominated by Meadows Regional Medical Center Anesthesiologists Dr. Stacie Wong and Dr. Frank Gibase for noticing a patient’s abnormal vital signs after surgery, thus prompting the need for further exploratory surgery. “If not for Paula’s attention to subtleties, this patient would have had a much different outcome,” Wong said. “Paula’s excellent care of this patient is representative of her attention to detail and superb nursing care of all her patients. A job well done.”

“We are delighted to honor Paula with the DAISY award,” said Meadows Regional Medical Chief Nursing Officer, Michele Malone. “She is an excellent nurse who strives to provide the best care to every patient she meets.”

Thomas has been employed with Meadows Regional Medical Center for fifteen years and currently resides in Ailey.

The Daisy Award was established in memory of J. Patrick Barnes, who died at 33 of complications of Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP), a little known but not uncommon auto-immune disease. The care Patrick and his family received during his hospital stay inspired this unique means of recognizing extraordinary nurses who make an enormous difference in the lives of patients.


Samantha Sapp, Radiation Therapist at The Tommy and Shirley Strickland Cancer Center, has been awarded the hospital’s prestigious Meadows Moment Award. She was nominated for the award for going above and beyond to help a patient during her lunch hour.

This special award was created to recognize staff members and physicians who are noticed for exemplifying Meadows’ values of compassion, teamwork and integrity. Awards are given to deserving employees for coming up with new ideas, helping coworkers, and other efforts that bring value to the team.

SAMANTHAJPG“We are very fortunate to have Samantha on our team,” said Samantha Walker, (left) RN OCN, Cancer Care Director at The Tommy and Shirley Strickland Cancer Center. “She goes above and beyond each and every day to make sure each patient and family member is cared for.”

“Samantha is always on the front lines of compassion and service,” said Meadows President & CEO Alan Kent. “We are very fortunate to have her.”

Sapp has been employed with Meadows for four years and currently resides in Claxton.

October 27-- A new director has been named for the Vidalia Recreation Department.

Vidalia City Manager Nick Overstreet says Homer Waller of Vidalia will succeed Tommy Sasser when he retires the end of the year. Waller is currently with Altamaha Bank and Trust following 28 years in charge of the Plant Hatch Recreation Area. 

"I learned to swim at the Rec Department.  I worked and played for Coach Smith and Tommy Sasser taught me how to swim.  I did my internship for my degree at the Vidalia Recreation Department and I guess I've come full circle.

"Coach Smith started this Rec Department and he's one of the few men outside of my Daddy that I hold in high regard and who helped mold me.  I just want to continue what Coach Smith started and what Tommy has carried on and sit down with Nick and city council and be a part of any changes or improvements they want to make.

"I want kids to be able to grow up and think back when they went through the Rec Department and have fond memories of it like I do," he said.

Overstreet says longtime Assistant Recreation Director Gary Adams is also retiring in December and will be succeeded by Matt Smith who comes to Vidalia from the Laurens County Recreation Department, however, Smith will have the title Director of Rec Department Operations.

"I feel like they will do a good job in leading our department because they do have some big shoes to fill," Overstreet said.


alicecasgtOctober 27--  For the third straight year, Vidalia High School has won the Region 2-AA One-Act Play competition.

The VHS production of the play Alice took first place in the region competition Thursday at Toombs County High School.

alicegirlsCarolyn Collins (L) was named to the All-Star Cast for her portrayal of the Chesire Cat and Hannah Conner (R) was also selected for her performance in the title role of Alice.  Margaret Pournelle (center) is the school's drama director.  The school also received honors for Best Set Design in the competition.

The cast will compete in state competition at Baldwin County High School in Milledgeville next Saturday, November 4.

You can see the region-winning production Monday and Tuesday, November 6-7, at Southeastern Technical College in Vidalia.  Tickets are $5 at the door.  The curtain goes up at seven p.m.

October 26--  A crew from NBC Nightly News was in Vidalia this week preparing a news report currently scheduled for national broadcast Sunday night on rural healthcare including an interview with local Obamacare insurance navigator Ursula Spence. The interview took place in the studios of Vidalia Communications Corporation.

ursula"There's a lot of confusion out there as to the Affordable Care Act, that it's dead and it's not being used, but that's not true.We are enrolling folks in our area because I've seen it work in our community," she said.

The enrollment period opens next Wednesday and continues for 45 days.  Because of  big jumps in private insurance premium costs, it's an option worth considering if you're single with an annual income of less than $48,240 or a married couple making less than $64,960 a year.

According to Spence, Meadows Regional and most local doctors are in the network and some deductibles are more reasonable than private insurance.

"Bronze plans have a lower premium which might be enticing, however, the deductible might be quite large.  On the other hand, silver plans are middle of the road.  You get the most savings with the silver plan and through a silver plan you can  use your co-pay to go see your doctor," she reports.

Spence says those who meet the income qualifications don't have to worry about premium increases, "If you are receiving financial assistance as in tax credits or cost share reductions, if premiums increase 20% your tax credit will increase by 20% as well.  So those receiving financial assistance will not feel the burden of a premium increase."

For information, go to






October 26-- State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said today the unemployment rate in the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha region fell in September as the number of employed residents increased.

The September unemployment rate, at 5.6 percent, was down from 6 percent in August. The September rate compares favorably to last September when the rate was 7 percent.

“The combination of a falling unemployment rate and an increase in the number of employed residents shows a region on the rise,” Butler said. “Seeing the number of jobs increase is always a good indicator. However, seeing the number of employed Georgians increase is the ultimate positive result.”

Butler said Wednesday that in September the number of employed residents increased by 1,086 to 111,273. There were 4,051 more employed residents in the area than in September 2016.

Unemployment claims were up by 112.7 percent to 1,908. Most of those were temporary claims filed in manufacturing.  When compared to last September, claims were up by 78.5 percent from 1,069.

“The region continues to head in the right direction,” Butler said.

Employ Georgia, the GDOL’s online job listing service at showed 689 new active job postings in Heart of Georgia-Altamaha region for September.  

October 25--  "Safe Kids Toombs County" is trying to educate students to keep safety first and foremost in advance of Friday's night big rivalry football game between the Vidalia Indians and Toombs County Bulldogs.

ghostoutWednesday afternoon at Toombs County High School students witnessed results of a staged vehicle crash with injuries and a fatality. 

Safe Kids Director Bonnie Brantley explained the accident happened because a student attempted to snatch a large flag from the pickup bed. 

The mounting of oversize flags on trucks to show school spirit is a safety hazard, according to Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker. 

He noted traffic accidents are the number one cause of teenage deaths in Toombs County and advised students 'Don't do something stupid" as they get ready for Friday night. 

Nov 3-- UPDATE:  Vidalia Police report charges reported below against Jessica Collins have been dropped.  Her husband is still facing the charges reported below.

October 25--  A couple which runs a child care center in Vidalia has been arrested.

collinsmalecollinsfemaleAccording to Vidalia police, 54-year-old Timothy Collins and 35-year-old Jessica Collins of Ailey were arrested following an incident at Onion Sprouts Daycare on West North Street in Vidalia.

A customer at the center complained to police that Timothy Collins slapped her son twice and that she had seen the incident on the center's video surveillance tape.

A responding officer also viewed the tape and reported seeing Collins grab the boy by his shoulders, rock him and back and forth and say, 'You need to stop that' after the boy pushed another boy to the ground on the playground.

Later a police supervisor arrived to get a copy of the video only to find both the DVR and Collins gone from the daycare center. 

Collins is charged with cruelty to children, tampering with evidence and obstruction of a law enforcement officer.  His wife is charged with tampering with evidence and obstruction.


October 25--  The Vidalia teenager wanted in the September shooting death of a Brewton-Parker College student has been arrested.

khalillwagnerMontgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports 19-year-old Khalil Wagner was arrested today in Tattnall County when he was apprehended attempting to smuggle prohibited items into the state prison.

He and his twin brother, Khalif, were at an off-campus party in Mount Vernon on September 24th when there was a confrontation with 20-year-old student Stevenson Derival of Decatur.  Derival was shot and killed and another student, 22-year-old Jabari Bridges, of Miami was wounded in the arm.

Khalif later turned himself in, but Khalil, whom authorities suspect is the shooter, has been at-large ever since.


October 25--  A Vidalia man has been charged with animal cruelty after his emaciated dog was found roaming near his house on Adams Street.

Police say the female dog had escaped from a tether at the  house of Curtis Duran at 801 Adams Street and  was taken to the Vidalia Animal Shelter. Later seven of her puppies were found at the address and rescued from a feces-covered back porch.

thindogShelter Manager April Braddy took a photo which showed the dog's apparent starvation on her arrival at the shelter.  Duran says it was because she always lost weight when she was nursing puppies.

fatdogThis photo shows she gained a significant amount of weight after a week of eating at the shelter.

October 25-- Toombs County was honored during the Association County Commissioners of Georgia's Legislative Leadership Conference as a 2017 County of Distinction. Honored for the Meadows Regional Medical Center and innovative approaches to rural healthcare access, Toombs County is one of six counties in Georgia to receive this designation. The conference took place at the Augusta Marriott.

countyPictured from left to right:  Georgia Trend Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Ben Young; Toombs County Chairman David Sikes; Oglethorpe County Chairman Billy Pittard; Fulton County Commissioner Liz Hausmann; DeKalb County Commissioner Kathie Gannon; Augusta Mayor Pro Tem Mary Davis, Augusta City Administrator Janice Jackson, and Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis, Jr; and ACCG Executive Director Ross King. Not pictured:  Columbus-Muscogee County. Photo courtesy ACCG.

ACCG, Georgia’s county association, and Georgia Trend, the state’s leading business publication, regularly partner to honor counties for their innovative approaches to providing cost-effective services to their constituents. The Counties of Distinction designation is a new iteration of the Georgia County Excellence Awards program and continues to recognize counties that focus on improving the community.

This year’s award recipients were chosen for their initiatives to provide better access to healthcare, promote safer streets, combat veteran homelessness, offer alternative solutions to nonviolent offenders, bring jobs to the community, and to establish regional road paving partnerships.

“We are committed to recognizing county governments that aspire to leave a lasting impression in the community,” said ACCG Executive Director Ross King. “Their initiatives have made a difference and have contributed to the overall advancement of Georgia’s counties.”

Toombs County has found a way to mitigate the concern of healthcare access for its rural residents. Community leaders, along with MRMC President and CEO Alan Kent, noted the need for a specialty hospital within the region and shifted focus to become the hospital to provide such services. MRMC is the only accredited hospital serving the counties in its region treating an estimated 35,000 patients annually and delivering close to 900 babies.

The hospital has become well known for its exceptional patient care and job recruitment. As a self-funded, nonprofit hospital MRMC specializes in areas ranging from cancer treatment to pediatric services, and as a result, it consistently recruits health professionals and has become a reputable community-based organization.

“Counties are targeting their areas of vulnerability and finding solutions to strengthen them. The six counties of distinction are a true reflection of what it means for local governments to step up and meet the immediate needs of their citizens,” said ACCG President Allen Poole who serves as the chairman of Haralson County. “Our hope is that this designation not only recognizes distinct county initiatives but inspires others to take their county efforts to the next level.”

October 25--  Vidalia City Manager Nick Overstreet released an update this morning on the city's progress in making repairs to six streets damaged by Hurricane Irma.  Bids will go out Friday seeking contractors to do the repair work.

"The City of Vidalia has been working diligently with its engineers, Hofstadter and Associates, to get the process of repairing the six streets within the City of Vidalia moving forward. During this process, we have been in constant contact with two agencies to ensure that we are not leaving any stone unturned in order to get some financial assistance with repairing the roads.

"After discussions with FEMA/GEMA staff and completion of the paperwork, we have successfully obtained approval of the city’s Request for Public Assistance (RPA). This does not mean that we will be reimbursed for the proposed improvements, but we are on the right track and have been approved thus far.

"We have coordinated with Mr. Brent Moseley, GDOT state aid coordinator, about the possibility of requesting $140,000 of emergency LMIG funding assistance. We submitted an official request last week and it has been sent to the GDOT office in Atlanta. Proposed improvements could exceed $500,000 so the amount of reimbursement from GEMA/FEMA and GDOT is vital to the City. 

"We were directed to ensure we follow all appropriate steps and ensure we didn't put "the cart before the horse" and become ineligible for funding. We have inspected, surveyed, designed, and prepared construction plans for emergency bidding.  These documents have been sent to both GMEA/FEMA and GDOT as supplementary documents to show our progress and severity of the damage.

"The next step is to put these improvements out for emergency bid to at least three (3) qualified contractors. We will allow two (2) weeks for bidding as this is emergency work and follows all state laws. Upon receiving the bids, we will immediately take this amount to council for review and approval. Upon approval, the contractor shall be directed to mobilize to the two (2) locations where the roads are completely shut down (Kissingbower and Darby Circle) and work their way through all of the construction.

 "We have just received word that we may proceed with bidding the project later this week and would remain eligible for reimbursement. The project is scheduled to go out for bid this Friday."

October 25--  With the country in the midst of an opioid drug crisis, this Saturday's designation as National Drug Take Back Day takes on added importance.

It's the day you are asked to check your medicine cabinet for unused or expired prescription drugs and turn them in to various designated locations.

In Toombs County, the Sheriff's Office in Lyons takes drug turn-ins any business day, but will be open from eight till five Saturday, according to Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight, "If you have drugs in your home that you're not using anymore, you can bring them to our office and we'll take them and destroy them for you."

There's a drop box in the lobby of the Sheriff's office where you can deposit the drugs for incineration by the Sheriff's Department.  If you want to be anonymous, Sheriff Kight recommends you peel the labels off the drug bottle or put the drugs in a plastic bag or sack.

The Georgia Council on Alcohol and Drugs says accessibility is the top contributing factor to the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs.  Sheriff Kight also notes,"It's a bad safety situation for small children in a home to have these drugs laying around." 

darekidsOctober 24--  Students at Sally Meadows Elementary School stepped off Tuesday morning in the annual Red Ribbon Week parade supporting the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program at the school conducted by the Vidalia Police Department.

Police Corporal Dwayne Carpenter holds drug and alcohol education classes for the school's fifth graders and is assisted by a corps of DARE role models who are seniors at Vidalia High School including Indian Cheerleader Courtney Shokoh-alai, "It means I'm a leader for all these kids around me and I do my best to be sure I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing.  I don't do drugs or anything like that and I talk with them just to be sure they stay on the right path."

darecheersAnother cheerleader role model is Bekkah Wheeler who remembers how the DARE program influenced her when she was in the fifth grade, "I believe it really taught me about drugs, what they do and how to stay drug free and keep a healthy life style," she said.

(L-R) Courtney and Bekkah

Bekkah also believes DARE has helped her overcome peer pressure to use drugs, "When you get to high school, everybody thinks it's all cool.  You just have to keep your faith in God and know that you've got to do the right thing because you'll be better off in the end." 


October 23-- Congratulations to the Vidalia students who attended Georgia Music Educators Association District One Honor Chorus at Armstrong State University. These students proved their excellence in local auditions and were selected to participate in the clinic in Savannah for two grueling days of rehearsal culminating in a wonderful performance for their parents and peers.

vhssingerswVidalia City Schools District Honor Chorus Singers: L-R: First Row: Mason Galbreath, Allie Whitaker, Joy McCullough, Landon Miller, Tavien Vogt. Second Row: Faith Futch, Ariel Sikes, Ashlynn Goodwin, Cameron White, Bryanna Beasley. Third Row: Walker Wheeler, Jaquan Johnson, Luke Stinnett, Landon Lindsay.

Students representing J. R. Trippe Middle School included Mason Galbreath, Ashlynn Goodwin, Jaquan Johnson, Ariel Sikes, Tavien Vogt, and Allie Whitaker.

Vidalia Comprehensive High School was well represented by Bryanna Beasley, Faith Futch, Landon Lindsay, Joy McCullough, Landon Miller, Luke Stinnett, Walker Wheeler, and Cameron White.

These students rehearsed for several weeks on the difficult and unfamiliar repertoire for the event, and represented our schools well in both their discipline and musical skills under the batons of master conductors. The concert was thrilling, and many choral parents attended the event Saturday afternoon.

John Morgan, Choral Director at J. R. Trippe and Vidalia High, also represented Vidalia City Schools, serving as accompanist at the piano for the Middle School Mixed District Honor Chorus. Mr. Morgan wishes to congratulate the students and thank the parents, chaperones, Principals John Sharpe and Dr. Sandy Reid, and the Vidalia City School System Board of Education for allowing these students to attend this memorable event.

October 23--  Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits reports the following arrests.

Flury, James Ricky II- W/M- 26 YOA- 505 Riverbank Road Reidsville, GA- Theft By Shoplifting 1st Offense

Hunnewell,Charles Brittin- W/M-27 YOA-674 Reidsville Rd Lyons, Ga- Driving while license suspended or revoked

Sikes, Sheree Anne-W/F-38 YOA-402 Madison St Vidalia, Ga-Warrant Served TCSO

McCall, Eric S. - B/M- 24 YOA- 2208 Clifford Rogers Rd. Lyons, GA- Seatbelt Violation/Giving False Info to LEO

Walker, Tiffany- B/F- 23 YOA- Seatbelt Violation/Giving False Info to LEO/ Operating an Unsafe Vehicle/Obstruction of LEO

Cutshaw, Megan Louis - W/F 18 YOA/ 175 E. Brazell St. Reidsville, Ga. / Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense

Vanhaitsma, Clayton Robert - W/M 19 YOA/ 540 Quickrun Rd. Reidsville, Ga. / Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense

Rushing, John David JR- W/M- 35 YOA- 115 W. Grady Ave Lyons, GA- Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (First), Driving with Expired Tag, Seatbelt Violation

Collins, Timothy Michael- W/M- 54 YOA- 1502 Morris Road Ailey, GA- Cruelty to Children, Tampering with Evidence, Obstruction of LEO (State)

Collins, Jessica Patrice-W/F- 35 YOA- 852 Morris Rd Ailey, GA- Tampering with Evidence, Obstruction of LEO (State)

McLendon, Samantha Magen- W/F- 31 YOA- 901 High St Apt A Vidalia, GA- Warrant Served (Parole)

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Travis Andrews, Lyons, DUI, No Insurance, Expired License, Expired Tag

Brandon Green, Lyons, Possession of Marijuana, Driving While Unlicensed, Seatbelt Violation

Coty Jackson, Lyons, Possession of a Controlled Substance and Marijuana

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Jimmy Bell, Lyons, Battery - Family Violence

Daron Berry, Reidsville, Probation Violation

April Carroll, Lyons, Probation Violation, Driving while license suspended/revoked

Tyler Graham, Lyons, DUI, failure to maintain lane

Wayland Hodges, Pembroke, Theft by Taking

Julius Simpson, Lyons, Driving While License Suspended/Revoked

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests

10/17     Nathanial Scott Hardemen                               Mount Vernon, Ga.             Battery (FVA)

10/17     Chelebric Ajene Onnic Lee                Ailey, Ga.                              Aggravated Stalking

10/18     Brittany Morgan Coleman                                Lyons, Ga.                            Warrant Served

 10/19     Kenneth Clifton                                   Lyons, Ga.                            Possession of Drug Related Objects

 10/19     Jeffrey Gayle Squires                          Uvalda, Ga.                          Possession of Controlled Substance, Possession of Drug Related Objects

 10/21     Joann Truett                                         Ailey, Ga.                              Warrant Served

 10/22     Anthony Tyrone Roberson                                Mount Vernon, Ga.             Disorderly Conduct, Obstruction of Officer

On Friday, October 13th, Deputy Justin Phillips made a traffic stop of a motorcycle near Fourth Street in Tarrytown/Highway 29. Upon checking the driver’s license of the operator, it was determined that the driver, Charles Elijah Gillis of Soperton, was driving with a suspended license.

cashDeputy Phillips conducted a search of the motorcycle and found methamphetamine and $2,300 cash. In addition to being charged with driving with a suspended driver’s license, Gillis was charged with having no proof of insurance and possession of methamphetamine.

“As a result of Deputy Phillips’ traffic stop, it was discovered that Elijah Gillis was a suspect in a Treutlen County burglary. The Treutlen County Sheriff’s Office executed a search warrant in Treutlen County that led to the arrest of several individuals and the return of stolen property.” 







October 21--  One of the 95 people killed by domestic violence in Georgia last year was a Vidalia woman.

This is Domestic Violence Awareness month and the local domestic violence shelter, "The Refuge," remembered LaShanda January during its observance of the month.

refugemomThe observance was held in front of Shoney's in Vidalia where she was employed and her mother, Martha, said, "This is by far the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my life.  I'm trying to think back on some of the good memories with LaShanda when she was growing up with her sisters and brother.  There were three things in my household you had to pay attention to.  That was to finish high school, to go to church and there was no such thing as 'you can't' because you can do anything you want to do," she said.  Overcome with emotion, she was unable to say more.

refugeballoonsThe group released 95 purple ballons in memory of each of this year's domestic violence victims and heard board chairperson Karen Brantly talk about the goals of "The Refuge."

"You know, we work together and we live in a great place, but none of us will be satisfied until we see domestic violence eradicated.  We are learning to live with it as an expected thing, but that's wrong.  Together we can find a solution to this.  That's why "The Refuge" was built here, because the numbers were so high that they atrtracted the attention of the governor at the time and he mandated we have one to serve Toombs and Emanuel counties and now we serve five counties.  Together we can and together we will and together, one day, we won't ever have another one of these.  I believe we can, do you?," she said.


October 20--  The Vidalia Onion Committee is unveiling a new logo for the world-famous Vidalia Onion this weekend during the annual Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit in New Orleans.

vidaliaonionlogoInterim Onion Committee Executive Director Bob Stafford is quoted in The Produce News, "“We think the new logo captures the proud history of Vidalia onions that has been handcrafted by generations of grower artisans for more than 80 years in Georgia, yet it also brings an updated, modern look to our brand that we believe will resonate with today’s consumers.”

The Vidalia Onion 2018 marketing campaign will carry the theme "Only Vidalia" and feature the new logo.


October 20--  Attorneys for Vidalia Onion farmer Delbert Bland of Glennville say he will appeal a federal court ruling that he must pay $1.4 million in damages and unpaid overtime owed to hundreds of workers.

The U.S. Department of Labor filed suit against Bland Farms in 2014 claiming he has failed to pay overtime to 460 workers since 2012.

A Labor Department news release quoted the Southeast Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division, neWay Kotowski,  as saying the decision recovers back wages for workers in an industry where such violations are way too common.


October 19--  The Toombs-Montgomery Chamber of Commerce and Development Authority will have a new president starting January 1.

The boards of the two two organizations held a joint meeting Thursday and approved the recommendation of a search committee to name Michelle Johnson to succeed Bill Mitchell when he retires the end of the year.

chamber(L-R) Chamber Chair Ginger Morris, Michelle Johnson, Development Authority Chair Tommy Rollins.

Johnson is the Executive Vice-President of the Development Authority and has been working at the chamber for the past 15 years.

Development Authority Chairman Tommy Rollins says she's the best fit among nine candidates who applied for the job, "From the resumes we received and the committee's selection process, we think Michelle is going to be the best fit for our community."

His sentiments were echoed by Chamber Board Chairman Ginger Morris, "The beauty of this Chamber and the Development Authority is their idea that they work together.  We wanted to make sure we had a person who could see the Development Authority side to help grow our community and the Chamber side to meet the needs of our businesses and she just fit that bill."

Bill Mitchell and Michelle Johnson worked together at Oxford many years ago and he's confident in her abilities, "I think Michelle will do a great job.  She's got a learning curve as it relates to leaving what she does now and taking over the operations of both the Chamber and the Development Authority, but she's capable of doing it."

For her part, Michelle thanked both boards for their confidence and promises continued growth and innovation, "I want to try some new things and we're looking at several progams and ideas at our board retreat in November and, hopefully, we'll get to implement some of those ideas.  One thing we've been really good at is involving our local partners, the local governments, the technical colleges, the utilities and state partners.  I see a lot of opportunities to keep partnering with those folks to offer more programs to improve the economic development in our area," she said.

One of the budgets Johnson will be managing is the one mil of tax the Toombs County Commission provides each year for economic development.  The Commission approved the allocation of $665,000 at a called meeting earlier this month.


October 19--  The two candidates seeking to succeed Eddie Tyson in the Second Ward of the Vidalia City Council will be on "Straight Talk With Wilson Johnson" next week.

Vidalia businessman Greg Johnson and former city manager Bill Torrance will answer Johnson's questions and take callers Thursday, October 26th at 8:05 a.m. on NewsTalk WVOP, AM 970 and FM 105.3.  The program is also streamed on

You can call 537-9202 during the program if you have questions for the candidates.

The Second Ward seat is the only contested race in the November 7th municipal election.  Ward One city councilman Cecil Thompson and school board members Tim Truxel, Ward Two, and Hal Chesser, Ward Four, have no opposition.

vhsmartasiaOctober 19--  Last week was Homecoming Week at Vidalia High School and the Indians capped the week with a football win over Jeff Davis County High School and by crowning Martasia Johnson (left) as the 2017 Homecoming Queen.

Vidalia High School high school reporter Grace Blount reports, "The theme was Vibe with the Tribe, and everything revolved around the Indians. Everything began the evening of Tuesday, October 10, with a Homecoming Dance.  Then, students participated in the week’s festivities by dressing up in pajamas on Wake-Up Wednesday, in clothes from different decades on Throwback Thursday, and in all-Indian gear on Fan Frenzy Friday.

vhshomecomingIn the Homecoming Court, the class of 2021 was represented by Presley Craft and Riley Hammock, the class of 2020 was represented by Mahogany Johnson, Toniyah Cook, Madison Sharpton, and Tyteyana Johnson.   The class of 2019 was represented by Mackinzie Craft, Carrington Long, Kasey Jordan, and Dasia Williams.  the The class of 2018 was represented by Hannah Brantley, Eliza Brantley, Hannah Poole, Rena Mckenzie, Martasia Johnson, and Jasmin Phillips.

The senior class won the Homecoming Decorations contest.


October 18--  President Donald Trump offered his personal condolences to the family of Army Green Beret Staff Sergeant Dustin Wright of Lyons.

Staff Sergeant Wright was killed October 4 in an ambush in Niger, a southwest African country.

According to Dustin's brother, Will, the President called their father late Tuesday afternoon, "It was a lengthy phone call, about twenty minutes, and he was satisfied with the call.  He got to express a lot of the sentiments a father would express after losing a son and President Trump handled it like a president, he let the father get it out."

"Anytime the President of the United States calls, it's a great honor, regardless of the circumstances.  I think as the Commander-in-Chief it's a great gesture to a family who has lost a soldier and a son and a brother.  It was a welcome gesture and I think the timing of it was better now than if it had been earlier," he said.

"The first ten to 12 days we were in the middle of the storm and needed to pull together as a family.  If he or anyone else of that stature had called, we wouldn't have been able to give it the gravity it deserves.  For us, as a family, it was better that it was after things had settled down and we really appreciate that he called," Will said.

The whole weekend of  Staff Sergeant Wright's funeral included a community outpouring of honor and respect starting Saturday afternoon when the highways were lined with local citizens as the hearse carrying his body passed.

One in the crowd, George Powell, made a strong statement at a time when some show disrespect for the flag for which Staff Sergeant Wright died.

"I just wish people all across this country could see the turnout and the support which is being given here, particularly those people who have protested so much about the things which are important in our country.  Young men like this give them the freedom to protest.  They need to see this and see the price which is paid for the things they are protesting against," Powell observed.


October 18-- On Monday, October 2nd, Mt. Vernon Police, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, and Oconee Drug Task Force executed a search warrant on Ailey-Lothair Road.

chrisbutlerChristopher Butler (left) and Chianti Butler (below) were arrested and charged with Possession of Controlled Substance with Intent to Distribute.

chiantibutlerAt the time of this arrest, both individuals were on out of jail on bond for Possession of Cocaine and Methamphetamine with Intent to Distribute from a search warrant executed earlier this year.

On October 5th, Agents with the Oconee Drug Task Force made a traffic stop that resulted in the recovery of over an ounce of Methamphetamine. Lannie Morris and Tiffany Turbyfill of Vidalia were charged with Trafficking Methamphetamine.

Later in the day agents performed another vehicle stop that resulted in the recovery of 14 grams of Methamphetamine. Eric Lawrence of Cedar Grove Community and Michael Glisson of Uvalda were charged with Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Distribute and Possession of a Controlled Substance (Suboxone).

mcleodFinishing up the 2017 roundup, Jetuin McLeod was arrested on October 10th for two counts of Sale of Methamphetamine. The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office assisted by the Oconee Drug Task Force made two undercover purchases from McLeod during the spring of 2017.




Other Arrests from the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office Blotter

10/09     Tanya Marie Maldonado                  Mount Vernon, Ga.             Warrant Served

10/10     Bryon Terrell Shinholster                   Uvalda, Ga.                          Parole Violation

10/11     Omar Rivera Paz                                 Mt. Vernon, Ga.                   Speeding, Driving While Unlicensed

10/12     Edwin Heath Boney                           Higgston, Ga.                        Felony Probation Violation

10/12     Dustin Corbin Tarver                          Higgston, Ga.                        Reckless Conduct

10/12     Joey Wayne Hartley                           Glenwood, Ga.                     Trading with Inmates, Violation of Oath of Office

10/12     William Wright                                     Mount Vernon, Ga.             Child Support Warrant Served

10/12     Kelly Nakia Hart                                 Uvalda, Ga.                          Bondsman Off Bond

10/12     Tony Edward Wells                             Soperton, Ga.                       Driving w/Suspended License

10/13     Charles Elijah Gillis                             Soperton, Ga.                       Driving w/Suspended License, No Proof of Insurance, Possession of Controlled Substance

10/15     Anthony Tyrone Roberson                                Mount Vernon, Ga.             Child Support Warrant Served

October 17--  A 36-year-old roofing contractor from Statesboro is running next year for the 12th Congressional District seat currently held by Republican Rick Allen of Augusta.

trentTrent NeSmith paid a visit to Toombs County Tuesday, "It feels like there's a lack of leadership in D.C. and if we common people in the 12th District don't start stepping up to try and act on the changes we want to see, we're going to be stuck where we're at is the way I feel about it."

NeSmith has traveled around the country overseeing his company's roofing projects and says his perspective is that of a progressive Democrat on most issues.

Campaign Reform:  "My concern for our democracy in general is the extreme amount of money that is being put into these campaigns.  The people's voices are being weakened.  Pay for seats and legislation is an issue," he said.

Medicare for All:  "I think right now with the way the healthcare debate is going, there is no clear 'better' between the two parties.  We're talking about humans' lives, somebody's mortality, and it can't be based on a profit motive," he believes, "so, that's why I'm for Medicare for all."

Legalization of Marijuana:  "I think we need to start talking about marijuana and cannabis.  We saw in Atlanta that the city council said we're wasting our time picking up these criminals for these small amounts of marijuana.  Let's write them a ticket and start cleaning up our prison system," he said.

Green America:  "We got to talk with the mayor of Hazlehurst and he pointed us to a solar farm there.  He was excited about that, the job creation and the dependence on oil being taken out of his city.  We can't keep going in the direction we're going," NeSmith said,.

Immigration:  "We are in dire need of reform in creating a clear path to citizenship for folks.  If you don't have a clear path, that's almost inhumane in a way because these folks are Americans," he said.

NeSmith says he is optimistic the 12th District will turn from red to blue in the next election and points to the long tenure in the district of former Democrat Congressman John Barrow.

October 16--  There are twelve new graduates of Mercy University in Toombs County which conducts classes to help people better manage their money and to prepare themselves to find a job.

The university is one of three missions of the Mercy Ministries headed by Executive Director Carly Benton, "When we are giving our community our gifts and talents by being a participant in the workforce and by managing our finances well, we are helping to make our lives, our families lives and, ultimately, our community a better place," she told the graduates.

Rachel Clements is one of ten people to graduate from the "Faith and Finance" classes, "I was where I didn't want to check the mailbox, I didn't want to answer the phone and I said 'There's got to be a better way to live.'  Being afraid of bills is not a good thing, but then I saw the ad on Vidalia Communications and I thought, well, if I have a babysitter I can go.  That worked out and now I have a savings account and I have money in the bank, and that is comfort," she said.

mercyfinancegrads(L-R) Back Row: Paul Anderson Youth Home class members Tristan, Andrew and Philip; Mercy U Director Clint Hutcheson, and Derek Heath. Middle Row:  Lisa Wynn, Bonnie Faircloth, Rachel Clements.  Front Row: Cynthia Lopez, Helen McKinnon and Mary Ann Peralta.

One of the graduates of the Work Life program is Gail Barwick who recalled how a friend recommended she take the course, "You've got to go to this "60-Minute" tour and I said, 'Alright, if they're going to feed us, I can handle that.'  I went to it and it changed my life.  When I went back to the car and I just started crying and said, 'I can't believe there's a place like this in this town where people care about you," she said.

mercyworklifeWork Life graduates with Clint Hutcheson are (L) Gail Barwick and Abbigail Hughes.

"So, if you haven't had a chance, take that "60-Minute" tour.  If you want to make a change in this community, give them one hour and I promise you will leave a different person," she recommended.

New classes will be starting in the next few months and information is available from Mercy University Director Clint Hutcheson, 524-4000.

October 16-- Secretary of State Brian Kemp wants to remind Georgians that in-person early voting for the November 7th municipal and special elections begins Monday, October 16 and runs through Friday, November 3.

“I want to make sure that every Georgian who is eligible has the opportunity to vote in the November 7th elections,” said Kemp. “Be sure to take advantage of the early voting process.”

Voters can also access information by downloading the “GA SOS” app on their smartphone or by texting “GA” to “2VOTE.”

With this program you can check:

  • Voter registration status using the Secretary of State Office’s “My Voter Page” (MVP)
  • Mail-in application and ballot status
  • Poll location
  • Early voting locations
  • Elected officials
  • Registration information on file with the county office
  • Sample ballot for the upcoming election
  • Provisional ballot status

If you have a paper ballot, mail it in as soon as possible. Any absentee ballot received by the elections/registration office after the close of polls on Election Day will not be counted.

October 16--  The Refuge Domestic Violence Shelter invites the public to a "Purple Thursday" ceremony in memory of a local woman killed this year by domestic violence.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and "The Refuge" will release 95 Purple Balloons in memory of 95 Georgians murdered by domestic violence this past year.

LaShanda January of Vidalia died in May as a result of a beating.  She was employed at Shoney's in Vidalia and the ceremony will be held at 2:30 p.m. Thursday in front of Shoney's on Highway 280 East in Vidalia.

You're asked to wear purple as a show of support.

October 21--  Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits reports the following arrests.

Jordan, Valerie- B/F- 43 YOA- 106 Everett St. Vidalia, GA- Criminal Trespass

Mobley, Travis Jermaine- B/M- 31 YOA- 670 North Orange Edwards Kingsland, GA- Warrant Served (Toombs Probation)

Nails, Lavoris Devon- B/M- 34 YOA- 503 W. Second St. - Seatbelt Violation/Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (First)

Mosley, Barron Lamar- W/M- 43 YOA- 501 Old Savannah Rd. Ailey, GA- Warrant Served (Douglas PD-Bench)/Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (First)

Hunnewell, Charles Brittin - W/M 27 YOA/ 674 Reidsville Rd. Lyons, Ga./ Driving While Licenses Suspended or Revoked 1st, No Tag

Polk, James- B/M- 38 YOA- 144 N. Lexington St. Lyons, GA- Give False Name, Address, Birthdate to LE Officer

Helmick, Katelyn Elizabeth- W/F- 19 YOA- 418 Whitehill Rd. Sylvania, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense (Bench Warrant)

Miller, Christa Lynn- W/F- 48 YOA- 903 E. Sixth St Vidalia, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense (Bench)

Badie, Jonathon Napoleon-B/M- 33 YOA- 706 Loop Road Apt 506 Vidalia, GA- Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (Probation)

Wojciechowski, Jacob Michael- W/M- 20 YOA- 181 Ivey W. Roundtree Rd. Swainsboro, GA- Racing Highway or Streets

Duran, Curtis- B/M- 28 YOA- 801 Adams St. Vidalia, GA- Cruelty to Animals

Chance, Jadaesha Rasheika - B/F 21 YOA/ 126 Munson Dr. Columbus, Ga. /Headlights and Other Lights Required/Driving While License Suspended or Revoked 1st

Edge, Justin Randall - W/M 30 YOA/ 585 Jack Collins Rd. Lyons, Ga. / Disorderly Conduct

Wilds, James Dwayne- W/M- 39 YOA- 1002 Adams St. Vidalia, GA- Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (First)

Garcia, Rolando Perez- H/M- 40 YOA- 251-1 Lent Stephens Rd. Vidalia, GA- No Driver’s License

Straley, Robert Elwood- W/M- 57 YOA- 302 Randolph Dr. Vidalia, GA- Open Container/DUI-2nd Offense/Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (First)

Gault, Renaee Waters- W/F- 55 YOA- 2626 GA HWY 130 Vidalia, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Zack Connell, Ailey, DUI

Bryce Clements, Lyons, DUI, Possession of Marijuana, Defective Equipment

Tyler Kight, Lyons, DUI, No Insurance

Randy Garrett, Hazlehurst, DUI

Bobby Lee Smith, Lyons, Aggravated Stalking

Tucker Williford, Lyons, DUI, Controlled Substance Not in Original Container

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

John Barwick, Vidalia, Probation Violation, Failure to Appear

Johnathan Bobbitt, Lyons, Probation Violation

Aaron Coleman, Lyons, Burglary, Rape

Kevin Harpe, Rochelle, Burglary

Jennifer Roy, Vidalia, Hit and Run, Parole Violation

Bobby Toby, Lyons, Probation Violation




October 15--  Booster Stadium in Lyons was ringed with American flags, the stands were filled with friends and, on the field, family and comrades-in-arms gathered for their final farewells to Army Greet Beret Staff Sergeant Dustin Wright of Toombs County who died nearly two weeks ago during combat in the southwest African country of Niger.

funeralcaptTributes came from many including his Special Forces commander, Captain Scion Brannah, "Most of all, Dustin loved his friends and family.  He loved being from Georgia and he loved being a Green Beret.  In Special Forces, there is a true camaraderie and unbreakable bond and Dustin you will never be forgotten.  Dustin is a hero to us all and a warrior in the face of evil.  Others on the team including myself are alive today because of the decisive and brave actions of Staff Sergeant Wright," he said.

funeralwillOne of Dustin's brothers, Will, addressed members of Dustin's military unit who were at the funeral, "You all have a hard job to do.  There's a team over there that needs every bit of prayer and support they can get.  I ask that you share these words with them and that we keep them in our prayers.  While we're here grieving, they're taking care of business.  It takes a special breed of men who to do what they do and I'm honored to share the lineage of Dustin Michael Wright with every man on this field.  Thank you for coming and honoring my brother.  Tell a story and keep his memory alive.  We shake these men's hands and we stand together as a community and a country and we honor them."

A broadcast of funeral remarks will be aired Monday morning on Southeast Georgia Today at 8:05 o'clock on NewsTalk WVOP, AM 970 and FM 105.3

(Photos Courtesy Kathy Hilt, The Advance)

October 14--  Hundreds of people visited Ronald V. Hall Funeral Home in Vidalia last night to honor the memory of Staff Sergeant Dustin Wright and to support his family during their time of loss.  He and three of his fellow Green Beret soldiers were killed last week in an ambush in the southwest Africa country of Niger.

wrightcoffinStaff Sergeant Wright's body was returned home yesterday in preparation for his funeral this afternoon at two o"clock at Booster Stadium in Lyons.

Interment will full military honors will follow at Harden's Chapel United Methodist Church on Highway 56 East in south Toombs County.

October 14—A big crowd gathered at Partin Park in Lyons Saturday for the Eighth Annual Real Squeal BBQ and Music Festival. Nearly thirty professional teams competed in four categories for prize money. Each team was required to cook chicken, ribs, pork and brisket. The 2017 Grand Champion was “Smoke Me Silly BBQ” Robert Vanderipe and Lex Vanegas a husband and wife team from Madison, Alabama.

10 14 17 REAL SQUEAL PRO CHAMPS 10 16 17 Grand Champion Backyard Fat Daddy Ps
Robert Vanderipe and Lex Vanegas
"Smoke Me Silly BBQ"
Paul and Edie Holmes
“Fat Daddy P’s BBQ”

The 2017 Backyard or Amateur Champion was “Fat Daddy P’s BBQ” Paul and Edie Holmes a husband and wife team from Dublin


arrival3October 14--  A procession which left Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Airport early this afternoon arrived in Lyons a little after 5 p.m. bearing the body of Toombs County Green Beret Staff Sergeant Dustin Wright.

Funeral Director Ron Hall said a ceremony was held at the airport and that almost every overpass down Interstate's 75 and 16 bore a contingent of firemen and law enforcement officers showing respect for Staff Sergeant Wright who was killed in an ambush October 4 in Niger located in southwest Africa.

arrival4As the procession arrived in his hometown of Lyons, U.S.Highway One was lined with citizens holding American flags in his honor.  The procession was led by law enforcement vehicles and included members of the family and an escort of Patriot Guard motorcyclists.

Visitation is being held at the Ronald V. Hall Funeral Home in Vidalia tonight. 

The funeral is Sunday afternoon at two o'clock in Booster Stadium and will include remarks from Staff Sergeant Wright's commanding officer, Captain Sion Brannah. 

arrival2Interment will full military honors will follow at Harden's Chapel United Methodist Church cemetery on Highway 56 East in south Toombs County.

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

Wilder, Jessica Marie- W/F- 34 YOA- 202 Davis Lane Vidalia, Ga- Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (First), Operating a Vehicle While Registration is Suspended, Canceled or Revoked, No Insurance 1st

Jordan, Valerie- B/F- 43 YOA- 106 Everett St. Vidalia, Ga- Criminal Trespass

Walker, Daisy Miranda- B/F- 35 YOA- 226 Old Dairy Rd. Ailey, GA- Warrant Served (State Probation)

Woods, Jimmie- W/M-29 YOA- 602 Bay Street Vidalia, Ga- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense/Criminal Trespass

Watson, Franklin Jr- W/M- 34 YOA- 2883 Cedar Crossing Hwy Uvalda, Ga- State Warrant Served (Tattnall County)

Travis, Cody Allanhart- W/M- 31 YOA- 309 Mosley St Apartment 13 Vidalia, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense

Evans, Lewis Randall - 48 YOA/ 170 Gar Rd. Twin City, Ga./ Warrant Served (Oak Park PD)

Erskine, Charles Marshall- W/M- 47 YOA- 708 Jackson St. Vidalia, GA- Speeding/Driving While License Suspended or Revoke (Second)

Thigpen, Billy Dale - W/M 29 YOA/ 379 Regency Rd. Vidalia, Ga./ Driving While License Suspended Or Revoked 2nd Offense

Edwards, Samantha Lorin- W/F- 19 YOA- 1503 Cadillac Dr. Vidalia, GA- Possession of a Controlled Substance (x2)

Cauley, Paige Jessica-W/F- 24 YOA- 242 Cauley Rd Lyons, Ga- Headlight Requirements, Driving while License Suspended Or Revoked

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Richard Curry, Lyons, DUI, Improper Start, Failure to Maintain Lane

Dakota Harden, Lyons, DUI, Failure to Maintain Lane, No Brake Lights

Israel Williams, Lyons, Possession of Marijuana

Nicholas Casey, Guyton, DUI

David Jenkins, Vidalia, Public Drunkeness and Indecency

Zack Connell, Ailey, DUI

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Corey Varnadore, Lumber City, Felony Probation Violation

Charles Willis, Jr., Vidalia, Driving While License Suspended/Revoked

Christian Reynolds, Claxton, Driving While License Suspended/Revoked

Ricky Rogers, Lyons, Disorderly Conduct

Angelia Taylor, Lyons, Possession of Marijuana, Driving While License Suspended/Revoked

Whitney Thigpen, Cobbtown, Felony Probation Violation

John McKenna, Uvalda, DUI, Reckless Driving

Tucker Ouzts, Vidalia, Driving While License Suspended/Revoked

Don Palmer, Vidalia, Affray

Marcos Auguilar, Lyons, Obstructing Police

Ernest Bazemore, Lyons, Burglary

Brittany Hayne, Vidalia, Felony Probation Violation

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

09/30     Khalif Rafir Wagner                           Vidalia, Ga.                           Murder (x2), Aggravated Assault (x2)

10/02     Christopher Eugene Butler                 Mount Vernon, Ga.             Possession of Controlled Substance w/Intent to Distribute

10/02     Chianti Chardon Butler                      Mount Vernon, Ga.             Possession of Controlled Substance w/Intent to Distribute

10/02     Matthew Ryan Farmer                       Vidalia, Ga.                           Driving w/Suspended License

10/04     Andrew Brian Manning                      Jesup, Ga.                              Felony Probation Violation

 10/04     Lannie Howard Morris                       Twin City, Ga.                      Trafficking Methamphetamine

 10/04     Michael Jerry Glisson                          Uvalda, Ga.                          Possession of Methamphetamine w/Intent to Distribute, Possession of Controlled Substance

 10/04     Eric Ryan Lawrence                           Lyons, Ga.                            Possession of Methamphetamine w/Intent to Distribute, Possession of Controlled Substance

 10/07     Moises Carreon Dominguez              Uvalda, Ga.                          Driving while Unlicensed

 10/07     Kelly Nicole Williams                          Uvalda, Ga.                          Driving w/Suspended License, Speeding

10/08     Deric Sherrod Johnson                        Augusta, Ga.                         Providing Prohibited Items to Inmates




October 13--  Funeral services for Army Green Beret Staff Sergeant Dustin Wright will be held Sunday afternoon at two p.m. at Booster Stadium in Lyons.

dusatin1Visitation will be held at the Ronald V. Hall Funeral Home in Vidalia Saturday night starting at six p.m. "until."

Interment will be in the cemetery at Harden's Chapel United Methodist Church with full military honors.

The Toombs County Sheriff's Office reports that Highway 56 East from U.S. One to Johnson Corner Road will be closed Sunday afternoon from three til six p.m. to accommodate the funeral procession to the cemetery.

Ron Hall reports Staff Sergeant Wright's body is expected to arrive at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Airport Saturday where he will be picked up and brought back home.

The hearst will be accompanied by escorts from the Toombs County Sheriff's Office and the Georgia State Patrol.  According to Hall, the procession will exit I-16 on U.S. Highway One to Lyons where it will turn on U.S. Highway 280 West to Vidalia, turn right at Meadows Regional Medical Center then left on Highway 292 West to the funeral home in Vidalia.  He expects to arrive in the area between 4:30 and 5 p.m. Saturday.

Staff Sergeant Wright graduated from Toombs County High School in 2007 and joined the Army in 2012.  He was killed last week in the African country of Niger in an ambush.


October 12--  It was a week ago that the family of Army Green Beret Staff Sergeant Dustin Wright of Toombs County was notified that he and three of his comrades had been killed in an ambush in Africa.

dustinstandsThursday night at Booster Stadium in Lyons, the community paid homage to the four dead soldiers before the Bulldogs played Benedictine Academy.

Dustin's family at Booster Stadium.

"We wanted to honor one of our own and what better way that at a football game.  It's the community coming together and wanting to do something for Dustin and his family and we want to make sure it's for all four, so we're honoring all four.  We're Americans.  That's what we do," said Toombs County High School Athletic Director Bill Benton.

With the colors presented by cadets from the local Thunderbolt Junior ROTC Regiment, Army Staff Sergeant Edward Roller spoke to the Wright family which was gathered at mid-field.

"He grew up in Lyons and graduated from Toombs County High School in 2007 playing both football and baseball for the mighty Bulldogs. After college, Dustin enlisted in the Army in 2012 and became an engineer for the Green Berets.  He won numerous awards including the Joint Service Achievement Medal, the Army Good Conduct  Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon and he earned the Special Forces Tab and Parachutist Badge

wrightfamilybarry"We are honored to have Staff Sergeant Wright's family with us tonight and we ask you to stand as we honor these four heroes who gave their last full measure of devotion while serving our nation," he said.

The Bulldog's team chaplain, Reverend Steven Toole, offered prayer, "We thank you for their service and great sacrifice. We thank you for their example of selflessness and a willingness to give their life so that others may live free. We thank you for the example of love as they lived out your word...Greater Love Has No Man Than This Than to Lay Down One's Life for One's Friends."

One of Dustin's brothers, Will, spoke for the family and said, "It's indescribable.  It's great to see a community pull together like this.  It just demonstrates how strong our nation is and the values we're built on.  It's time we get back to that."

Dustin's funeral will be held in Toombs County once his body is released and returned home by the Army on a date to be announced.  Ronald V. Hall Funeral Home of Vidalia will be in charge of the local arrangements.

(Photos Courtesy Barry Dotson)

  October 12-- The Vidalia Police Department reports that on Wednesday October 11, 2017 seven arrests were made following the execution of a search warrant on Saturday September 9, 2017 at 803 Clyde Blvd. The search warrant was the product of an extensive investigation concerning the sale and distribution of illegal narcotics.

During the course of the search, a large quantity of marijuana, along with prescription pills packaged for distribution, and weapons were seized.

vpdethancollinsEthan Collins of Vidalia was charged with possession with intent to distribute Xanax, three counts of use of communication facility in facilitating a felony, sale of a controlled substance, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of marijuana, possession of a firearm during the commission of certain crimes, and three counts of sale of marijuana.

vpdshiverJames Douglas Shiver was charged with possession with intent to distribute Xanax, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and possession of marijuana.

vpdcollinslatishaLatisha Marie Collins of Vidalia was charged with party to a crime (possession of controlled substance with intent to distribute), party to a crime (possession of marijuana with intent to distribute) and possession of marijuana.

vpdedwardsSamantha L. Edwards of Vidalia was charged with two counts of possession of a controlled substance.

vpdcollinsDebra Whitley Collins was charged with possession of marijuana less than 1 oz. and two counts of possession of a controlled substance.

vpdconnerConner D. McCoy of Vidalia was charged with possession of marijuana less than 1 oz.

vpdwaters                                                                                                                             Wayland Cody Waters of Vidalia was charged with possession of marijuana less than 1 oz.

                                                                                                                             The investigation is on-going and more arrests are expected.

October 12--  An announcement may be made next week on a new president of the Toombs-Montgomery Chamber of Commerce and the Toombs County Development Authority.

Current President Bill Mitchell has held the job for the past 17 years and earlier this year announced his intention to retire at the end of December.

Chamber Board Chairwoman Ginger Morris and Development Authority Board Chairman Tommy Rollins have called a joint meeting of their boards on Thursday, October 19th at 11:30 a.m. in the chamber boardroom.

Nine people applied for the job and the recommendation of the search committee will be considered by the two boards.


October 12-- Twelfth District Congressman Rick W. Allen released the following statement after President Trump signed an Executive Order promoting healthcare choice and competition across the United States:

“I applaud President Trump's action to improve access, increase choices and lower costs of healthcare today. The healthcare debate is far from over, and while this is a step in the right direction, Congressional Republicans are still dedicated to codifying a permanent solution to the Obamacare nightmare into law.”

For more information on the Executive Order please click here

October 12-- Leaders from Trane recognized seven Vidalia employees for completing a rigorous professional development program called the Team Leader Development Program

traneShown after the ceremony are (front row, L-R) Trina Phillips, team leader; Missy Lowther, team leader; Denise Jones, team leader; Phillip Parker, team leader.

(back row, L-R): Richard Peterson, plant manager; Troy Barney, team leader; John Shepherd, plant safety manager; Kyle Fountain, team leader; Allen Crump, focus factory manager; Raqual Turner, team leader and Erika Basham, Team Leader Development Program training leader.

Richard Peterson,plant manager; Erika Basham, Team Leader Development Program training leader and other leaders honored the graduates for their work during a ceremony held at the plant.

Other leaders in attendance included Scott MacGregor, Vidalia value stream coach; Clark Ponthier, vice president, integrated supply chain, Residential HVAC & Supply, and Doug Uzarski, operational excellence leader, Residential HVAC and Supply, along with several others from the Vidalia plant. 

Each of the graduates presented key learnings and how they plan to apply them in their day-to-day jobs in working with their teams.




Image 0243: Leaders from Trane recently recognized seven Vidalia employees for completing a rigorous professional development program called the Team Leader Development Program

Shown here after the ceremony are (front row, from left) Trina Phillips, team leader; Missy Lowther, team leader; Denise Jones, team leader; Phillip Parker, team leader; and (back row, from left): Richard Peterson, plant manager; Troy Barney, team leader; John Shepherd, plant safety manager; Kyle Fountain, team leader; Allen Crump, focus factory manager; Raqual Turner, team leader and Erika Basham, Team Leader Development Program training leader.

October 12--  Two new Rotarians were inducted into the Vidalia Rotary Club at its meeting Wednesday at the Meadows Wellness Center.

rotarymembers(L-R) Dr. Garrett Wilcox, sponsor for Scott Stephens, Principal at J.D. Dickerson Elementary School, Teresa Coleman, Vice President for Academic Affairs at Southeastern Technical College and her sponsor Larry Calhoun, STC President.

The two were inducted by Rotary President Tres Herin and agreed to live by the Rotary Four Way Test.

1.  Is it the TRUTH?

2.  Is it FAIR to all concerned?


4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?


October 11--  The City of Vidalia has invested $2 million to make the historic Pal Theater a downtown showplace and the work is almost done.

Kelvin Manning with MMI Construction is the project manager, "I'm really pleased with how the project is coming together at this stage of the game, it's really nice. It's been one of the most unique projects I've ever been involved with trying to keep the old Pal and maintain what we have to do now for the building codes, fire marshals and things like that," he said.

palballroomWhile much of the building was gutted, Manning says old timbers from the building were saved and are being used as exposed beams in the main ballroom area, "We milled it and built the beams you see exposed now.  The finished stained beams are from the original Pal in 1927."

palnickCity Manager Nick Overstreet is looking forward to completing the project by the end of November, "I really believe this community will have something it can call a real showplace. 

"It's well done and we've got the right folks in here doing the job.  MMI has done a fantastic job for us and CineVision is here taking care of all the sound and lighting. It's been going on for a while now, and I understand that, but something of this magnitude has to be done right," he said.


palfromstageOverstreet says the city is getting calls about booking the Pal and a wedding reception has already been scheduled for December.

October 11-- Lucy is a 12-year-old miniature dachshund who was last seen Sunday, Oct 8th near the old Fred's store on Highway 292 in Lyons. 

dachsundHer master has ALS and misses her terribly. 

LUCY is under vet care and is on antibiotics.

Please call 912-326-1677 if you have any info. 

A reward is offered.

October 10--  The annual Toombs-Montgomery Chamber of Commerce Golf Tournament can't be held this year because of owner Andy Page's decision to close Hawk's Point Golf Course in Vidalia.

The tournament was scheduled to be held this month before Page's decision September 29th.

Debbie Evans with the Chamber says the decision was made this morning, "Our golf committee met last week and discussed whether we could take the tournament out of town and do a tournament that met our standards.  They agreed we couldn't and made a recommendation to the board.

"Our board met this morning and our fear was we wouldn't have the participation out of town.  Also, we rely on our tent sponsors who pay a good bit of money to come out and take part in the tournament.  With participation being down, we didn't feel like we were giving our sponsors a good return on investment.  In everything we do, we want to make sure our members have a good return on investment and that it will help their business.  So, for that reason, we decided not to do the golf tournament this year," she said.

Evans said on average the tournament raised about $10,000 each year to support chamber programs.


October 10--  Lyons Primary School first grade teacher Mrs. Jessica Toole is the school's Teacher of the Year.

tooleteacherMrs. Toole’s family surprised her at the announcement ceremony.

L-R: Mrs. Matilda Edwards (mother-in-law), Ryan Toole (husband), Jessica Toole, Lawton and Maddox Toole (sons), Debbie and Randall Morris (parents)


October 10--  According to Vidalia Fire Chief Brian Sikes, "The City of Vidalia Fire Department is going Pink and getting Fired Up For A Cure. 

firecancer"For the month of October the firefighters  are wearing a special  Breast Cancer Awareness T-shirt.

"We  are also attending different Breast Cancer Awareness events in the community. The Firefighters are donating and  raising money to give back to a local Breast Cancer Awareness group.

"The firemen will be at the Dairy Queen in Vidalia Wednesday from six till nine p.m. where a percentage of sales will be donated to a local cancer group."

Chief Sikes invites you to stop by and have supper at the DQ "for a very worthy cause."

October 10--  Authorities believe a University of Georgia freshmen intentionally drove his car into Taco Bell in Swainsboro in a crash that killed one person and injured six others.

copeMiddle Judicial Circuit District Attorney Hayward Altman says he doesn't know the motivation of 18-year-old Oliver Cope of Statesboro but has reason to believe it was intentional.

Twenty-three-year old Macy Lynn Mullis of Adrian died of injuries she suffered when Cope's Dodge Challenger crashed into the Taco Bell dining area September 28.  Two other people were critically injured and flown to Augusta for treatment. 

In addition to felony murder, Cope is charged with four counts of aggravated assault and criminal damage to property.

October 10-- The Lyons Lions Club sponsored a City Wide Clean-Up Day on Saturday spearheaded by Dr. Chris Foster, 2nd VP of the Lyons Lions Club.  He reached out to other community organizations, school groups and church groups to assist, forming a community wide volunteer group to assist with the project.

lyonscleanupThe group of about 50 volunteers were from all over the city. Several of the Lyons Lions Club members were there, joined by members of the Toombs County Bulldog football team, the St. Luke A. M. E. Church, the Oaks Baptist Church, the Lyons Main Street Program, the Lyons Recreation Program, the TCHS FCCLA Program, a host of students from Toombs County High School and several other interested citizens that just wanted to help out.

It was a great mix of volunteers that grabbed the trash bags, put on gloves and reflective vests and headed out to collect the trash that has accumulated along the major highways that come into Lyons. There were exchanges of laughter as the volunteers wondered if their friends would see them and think they were working out a "community service" sentence for running afoul of the law. No, these were not lawbreakers repaying their debt to society, rather they were good citizens of this great city wanting to give back to the community and do their part to make it better.

They started at 9 a.m. and finished at noon only to be treated to hamburgers and hot dogs generously provided by the Lyons First Baptist Church.

October 7--  Robert Bell, a Registered Nurse in the Intensive Care Unit at Meadows Regional Medical Center, has received the hospital's "DAISY Award" for Extraordinary Nurses.

robertbellThe award is part of the DAISY Foundation’s program to recognize nurses who go above and beyond in providing excellent care to their patients every day. Meadows Regional Medical Center, a proud DAISY Award hospital partner, recognizes one nurse each month to receive the special award.

Bell was nominated by the Gilchrist family for the compassionate care and emotional support he exemplified during their father’s stay in ICU. “Robert’s compassionate care was shown to our family in the way of being responsive to our many and repeated questions,” said Dorothy Gilchrist. “His professional knowledge was invaluable during our last hours with our father in ICU.”

“Robert leaves a lasting impression on patients and their families because of his exceptional compassion,” said Meadows Regional Medical Chief Nursing Officer, Michele Malone. “He is a key member of our ICU staff and we are very fortunate to have nurses of his caliber at Meadows.”

Bell has been employed with Meadows Regional Medical Center for five years and currently resides in Lyons.

The Daisy Award was established in memory of J. Patrick Barnes, who died at 33 of complications of Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP), a little known but not uncommon auto-immune disease. The care Patrick and his family received during his hospital stay inspired this unique means of recognizing extraordinary nurses who make an enormous difference in the lives of patients.

October 7--  Toombs Central Elementary School issued a news release announcing its Teacher of the Year.

"Tonawanda Irie, Principal of Toombs Central Elementary School is excited to announce that Mrs. Andrea Kelley (right) was selected as 2018 Teacher of the Year for the school. Mrs. Kelley is passionate about teaching and learning.

tcesteacherShe shows great enthusiasm for her concentration areas of Science and Mathematics. Mrs. Kelley has high expectations for all of her students. Mrs. Kelley is honored and humbled by the experience of being the 2018 Teacher of the Year for Toombs Central Elementary.

Mrs. Kelley states that teaching and her students give her life! They give her a purpose! Mrs. Kelley feels like she is making a difference in the lives of her students while helping them to meet their academic, social and emotional needs. She is teaching them how to learn, to think, to be responsible and to exceed at anything they put their minds to.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” Her teaching philosophy is very simple: students do not care how much you know, until they know how much you care.

Mrs. Kelley is respected by students, parents, and teachers for the job she does each day. Mrs. Kelley is a true example of an exemplary teacher in today’s educational setting."

October 6--  The East Georgia Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) exceeded its fund-raising goal with its 2017 "Day for FCA" Radio-Thon on Vidalia Communications' three radio stations.

IMG 20171006 094127028 HDRMary Moon (left) with radio host Chester Proctor manned the mikes from 7:45 a.m. till one p.m. on Your Favorite, 98Q; Sweet Onion Country 1017 FM and NewsTalk WVOP. 

At the end of the day, the effort raised $50,780 with donations from listeners, supporters and corporate sponsors.

October 9--  The highlight of the October Lyons city council meeting was the passage of proclamations honoring three young racers who won world titles in July representing Lyons at the International Soap Box Derby in Akron, Ohio. 

All three advanced to the world championship based on their performance at the Southeast Georgia Soap Box Derby and rally races held in Lyons.

soap1Cassidy Martin of Lyons won the DQ Rally Challenge Stock Championship.

soap3Aidyn Driggers of Tarrytown won the First Energy Rally Stock World Championship.

soap2Cayson Hayes of South Carolina won the First Energy Local Stock World Championship and the Eaton Local Challenge Stock Championship.

shelterpupsOctober 6--  These four pups are among many at the Vidalia Animal Shelter on Airport Road in Vidalia. 

They're looking for a forever home and the chance to make somebody happy. 

Stop by the Shelter or call April at 537-8866 for adoption information.

October 5--  A Toombs County native son is one of three U.S. Army Green Beret soldiers killed in Africa Wednesday.

dusatin1Twenty-nine-year old Sergeant Dustin Wright of Normantown was killed in an ambush by what U.S. officials say were about 50 fighters thought to be affiliated with ISIS.

The U.S. Africa Command says the Green Berets were part of a team assisting and advising local forces in southwest Niger at the time of the attack.

Dustin's father, Ardie Wright, his brother Will Wright and maternal grandmother Elaine Trull were visited by an Army casualty notification team late Wednesday night.  Ardie departed Thursday morning to meet his son's body at Dover Air Force Base in Maryland. He was accompanied by Dustin's mother Terri Criscio and brother Will.

Terri's sister, Ginger Russell, said "The news was shocking and confusing.  There are still so many questions, but we are here to help Dustin's parents and siblings carry this burden.  Dustin was the most lovable, funny jokester who never met a stranger and would give his last dime to help someone in need.  He made the ultimate sacrifice.  He is our homeown hero.  He was loved by so many."

Dustin's cousin, Denise Collins, spent time Thursday morning with Ardie before his departure, "He was naturally very upset and kept saying that no father should have to bury his son.  We agreed, but we know these things can happen when you join the service and are in a different country where they don't care and actually hate Americans.  He was fighting for some of those people," she said.

dustin2Dustin graduated from Toombs County High School in 2007 and joined the Army soon thereafter, "He took great pride in being able to serve his country.  I told someone today that Dustin knew exactly what could happen one day when he signed up and he was ready for it.  He was ready to serve our country to the best of his ability and the fact he was a Green Beret proves to me that he did that.  He was a very special person, a very unique young man," Collins remembered.

Funeral arrangements will be announced by Ronald V. Hall Funeral Home in Vidalia.



October 4--  Ten eighth graders and their parents signed agreements Wednesday designed to get each student a $10,000 college scholarship.

REACH Georgia is a state program aimed at increasing the number of students who pursue post-secondary education in the state.

At a signing ceremony Tuesday hosted by Toombs County High School, five students selected from Toombs County Middle School and five from J.R. Trippe Middle School promised to maintain good grades, behavior and attendance until they graduate in the Class of 2022.

tcmsreachToombs County signees (L-R) are Student: Kodie Cortez, Parent: Chassidy Clements, Student: Esmerelda Medel, Parents: Silvestre Medel-Hernandez and Teresa Avila, Student: Marlana Ramsey, Parent: Christy Ramsey, Student: Adrianna Williams, Parent/Guardian:Paula Montgomery, Student: David Copeland, Parents: Paul and Judy Copeland 

Kodie Cortez is from Toombs County Middle School, "It means a lot to me because I always wanted to go to college.  I just have to get my grades up and I can do better things and go anywhere I can.  My mom has always told me I need to go to college and I want to go to get everything better," he said.

Kodie's mom is Chassidy Clements, "It's a huge relief.  I've always pushed him to go to college and this just paves the way for him to make it now.  Also, it's going to be something good for the community because it improves the kind of citizens they can be when they get out in the real world," she said.

jrtreachJ.R. Trippe signees (sitting, L-R) are Naquaven Atkins, Darionna May, Azayvion Wallace, David Thigpen and Kaitlyn Allen. (Standing, L-R) Bruce Asberry, Danielle Heggs, Ginger Morris, Doug Roper, Rebecca Thigpen, Lucy Claroni, Kenneth and Christy Allen.

One of the five from J.R. Trippe Middle School is Naquaven Atkins from Vidalia, "I think it's a great opportunity for me to get involved in a new life and go on the right road to education and make something out of myself.  I've got to keep my grades up, stay in school and stay positive," he said.

Parents also signed the REACH agreement and Dr. Sandy Reid, principal at J.R. Trippe, says their support is critical to their student's success, "We depend on them to support the students and to support the school. They are only going to meet the requirements of their four-year commitment if they have the support of their parents," she observed.

Toombs County School Superintendent Richard Smith is excited and says, "I think it's a big day for our community.  We are able to take ten students and give them an opportunity to advance their education beyond high school, allow them to become citizens who can add to our community, get into leadership in our community and give them opportunities they would not have otherwise had."



October 4--  For the past seventeen years, the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Vidalia has sponsored the Toombs County Life Chain to speak for the victims of abortion in the United States.

lifechainThis year about 40 citizens formed the chain along Highway 280 in front of Walmart according to coordinator Diane Kersey, "We stretched a little bit further, so we're getting a little bit more community interaction.  There were a lot of youth there as well, so that's good.  A lot of passing vehicle beeped their horns in agreement and we just hope each year it will grow a little bit more.

"We cannot be quiet.  We have to somehow let people realize, in a peaceful way, the magnitude of what's happening in our country>'

Kersey says as many babies are killed by abortion each day in the country as died in 9/11 and quotes Mother Teresa who said, "It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish."

"She is very simple in what she says, but she's very direct.  Women who say they have a choice have a choice in what they do, but when you make a choice and create another human being, that person has a right to life.  You should not punish a child for your mistake.  Things have gotten out of hand for them, but the child should not pay the price for the woman's decision," Kersey believes.

Both Catholics and Protestants took part in this year's Life Chain including a member of Lyons First Baptist whom Kersey said promised to get a strong turnout from her church next year, "Maybe we could stretch it (the chain) all the way from Vidalia to Lyons, that would be awesome," she said.

October 4-- Secretary of State Brian Kemp reminds Georgians they must be registered to vote by Tuesday, October 10th in order to participate in the November 7th municipal and special elections. Additionally, all address changes and other updates have to be submitted by this same deadline to be effective for these elections.  

“I want to make sure that every Georgian who is eligible has the opportunity to vote in the November 7th elections,” said Kemp. “The good news is that it is easier than ever to get registered to vote or change your registration information.”

Voters have many options to register to vote or update their information. Since 2014, Georgia voters can register or make changes to their registration using the Secretary of State’s Online Voter Registration website (OLVR) by using a driver’s license or valid Georgia ID card. Voters can also access OLVR by downloading the “GA SOS” app on their smartphone or by texting “GA” to “2VOTE.”

Steps for Voters to Check Registration:

  • Check voter registration status using the Secretary of State Office’s “My Voter Page” (MVP).
  • Use OLVR, GA SOS, or text “GA” to “2VOTE” to register to vote or to update your voter registration at
  • Visit your local elections office to fill out or drop off your voter registration application before the deadline.
  • If you have prepared a paper voter registration application, do not wait until next week. Mail it in as soon as possible. Applications postmarked by Tuesday, October 10 will be processed by the November 7th election.
  • Stay in touch with the Georgia Secretary of State’s office by connecting with us on Facebook or Twitter for up to date voter information.

Our Nation Can and Must Protect the Most Vulnerable Among Us


October 3-- The House of Representatives passed H.R. 36, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act today. This legislation will protect unborn children from abortion at 20 weeks, when it is scientifically proven that unborn babies feel pain. Congressman Rick W. Allen (R-GA-12) cosponsored this legislation, and spoke in support of the bill on the House Floor:

I rise today to urge my colleagues to support the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. We have a responsibility to defend the most vulnerable in our nation and that’s exactly what this legislation does. It protects unborn children from abortion at five months.

“It is truly disheartening that I have to beg many of my colleagues to support a bill like this, when it is scientifically proven that unborn babies feel pain after five months. Premature infants in the NICU are protected from pain - Children in the womb should be protected from pain also. I will always fight for the right to life and I believe we have a responsibility to defend all innocent lives.

“In fact, this hits close to home. I have four children, one son and three daughters – and I have had to see my wife and each one of my daughters suffer through difficult pregnancies and make difficult choices.  I can’t imagine life without any one of my twelve beautiful grandchildren – every child should be given a chance at life. 

“New life is created by God and we must give a voice to these precious babies who cannot speak for themselves. Our nation can and must protect the most vulnerable among us.”

October 3--  Three prison guards including Glynn Allen Sea of Reidsville have been indicted by a federal grand jury.

According to the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia the three accepted bribes to allow inmates to smuggle contraband into the D. Ray James Correctional Institution in Folkston.

Sea is facing three counts while Tyre Holzendorf of St. Mary's and Phillip Smith of Kingsland are charged with two counts.

The maximum sentence for each count is 15 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and a supervised release term of not more than three years.

jamesjermonOctober 3-- Captain James Jermon of the Vidalia Police Department attended the Chief Executive Training Class for newly appointed chiefs of police and heads of law enforcement agencies at the Dr. Curtis E. McClung Training Center in Duluth last month.

The 60-hour course, administered and provided by the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police (GACP), is required by state law for all newly appointed heads of law enforcement agencies.

The curriculum is designed to give newly appointed law enforcement administrators and command staff personnel training on police management, as well as inform them of laws and policies affecting their departments.

Topics covered in the course include: Managerial Liability and E.E.O.C. Laws, Police Manpower Allocation & Staffing, Community Policing, Budget Administration, Political & Practical Realities, Risk Management, Evolution of Ethics, Media Relations, Departmental Organization, Employee Selection Process, Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Overview, Promotional Systems, United States Department of Justice Programs, Leadership/Management Role of the Chief, Employee Performance & Employee Discipline, Legislative Process, Social Media for Law Enforcement Leaders, and other timely topics.

“The Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police is pleased to provide executive level training for the professional development of Georgia’s new law enforcement leaders.” Said GACP President Dennis Nelson of the Clayton County Department of Corrections.

Captain James Jermon was among 50 law enforcement administrators attending the course.

The GACP provides the executive training for newly appointed heads of law enforcement agencies and command staff personnel twice a year, along with several other training programs throughout the state. It is the largest professional association for law enforcement administrators in Georgia, and one of the largest in the county. The membership of 1,700 includes executives representing municipal and county law enforcement agencies, college and university police departments, corporate and private security firms, and numerous state and federal agencies.

October 3--  The shipping company "Goin Postal" is the latest recipient of a $500 grant from the Downtown Vidalia Association.  Each year the DVA awards three downtown merchants a grant to help pay for improvements that help the appearance of the downtown area.

"Goin Postal" moved to 117 East Meadows Street this summer and installed a new awning on the front of its new building.

goinpostal(L-R) Grant coordinator B.J. Davis presents the grant to owners Frank and Kristen Champion accompanied by DVA Executive Director Paula Toole and Vidalia City Manager Nick Overstreet.

October 2--  Vidalia Fire Chief Brian Sikes reports 23 calls in September.

According to the Chief, firemen were called out to one building fire, three kitchen fires, one car fire, two grass fires, 2 gas leaks, one auto accident, three downed power lines, one rescue and eight false alarms.

October 2--  One of two men wanted in connection with the fatal shooting of a Brewton-Parker College student has turned himself in.  The other, his twin brother, remains at large, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Last week the GBI issued warrants for 19-year-old non-identical twins Khalil and Khalif Wagner of 915 Georgia Street in Vidalia.  Both are charged in the death of 20-year-old Stevenson Derival of Decatur who was shot at an off-campus party in Mount Vernon September 24.  Another student, 22-year-old Jabari Bridges of Miami was shot in the arm.

khalifjailToombs County Sheriff says Khalif Wagner turned himself in at the Toombs County jail Friday night.

"I made contact with his grandmother Friday afternoon and told her that her two grandchildren needed to give themselves up because I was concerned about their safety and officers' safety.  She talked with the mother and the mother called me Friday night and I asked her to meet with me at the jail.  She did and she had Khalif with her.  He was placed in the Toombs County Detention Center and turned over to the GBI," the sheriff said.

khalillwagnerAccording to the sheriff, Khalil Wagner (right) is suspected of being the shooter in the case and he is still at large.

"Hopefully he will decide that it's best to go ahead and turn himself in.  Like I told them, it's only a matter of time before he is caught and arrested," Sheriff Kight said.

If you have information on the whereabouts of Khalil Wagner, call the GBI at 478-374-6988.


October 2--  Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits reports the following arrests.

Kornegay, Jalani F. - W/F- 36 YOA- 606 GA Hwy 292 Lot D3 Vidalia, GA- No Driver’s License, No Proof of Insurance, No Tag

Salem, Curtis L. - B/M- 19 YOA- 2620 Cadillac Dr. Vidalia, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense

Beacham, Tavaris- B/M- 26 YOA- 503 West St. Vidalia, GA- Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (Second)/Giving False Name to LEO

Woolard, Justin Matthew-W/M- 27 YOA- 803 South Satilla Street Apt 25 Kingsland, Ga- Warrant Served (Tattnall County)

Ortega, Mariano- H/M-34 YOA- 2305 Cadillac Drive Vidalia,Ga- Failure To Obey Traffic Control Device, No Driver’s License

Brown, Melissa Marie - B/F 303 Peachtree St. Vidalia, Ga/ Simple Battery, Criminal Trespass (Motor Vehicle)

Lee, Tyrek Dashaun - B/M 20 YOA/ 221 Jane Dr. Vidalia, Ga./ Possession Of Methamphetamines (Fel.)

Bryson, Meagan Riley - W/F 32 YOA/ 1718 N. State St. Lyons, Ga. / Simple Battery (2 Counts), Disorderly Conduct

Blakey, Joshua Luke - W/M 35 YOA/ 605 Adams St. Vidalia, Ga. / DUI - 1st Offense, Fleeing, Attempting To elude Arrest - 1st Offense, willfully Obstruction of Police Officer Severe/Forceful (Fel.)

Douberly, Heather Sheleigh - W/F 37 YOA/ 3770 Hwy 221 S. Mt. Vernon, Ga. / Bench Warrant (Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense)

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

William Dawson, Lyons, DUI, Seat Belt violation

Chandler Stewart, Uvalda, DUI, Driving while license suspended or revoked

James Browder, Kathleen, GA, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, failure to maintain lane, tinted window violation, open container violation, DUI

Ranae Davis, Riverdale, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of a knife/firearm during attempt/commission of a crime.

Telley McLemore, Lyons, failure to stop at stop sign, driving without license on person, DUI, obstruct/hinder law enforcement officer

Rocky Akins, Lyons, driving while license suspended/revoked

Sholo Isaac, Vidalia, possession of marijuana

William Frazer, Lyons, DUI, driving while license suspended/revoked, failure to dim headlight

Dennis Sapp, Reidsville, served warrant

Richard Curry, Lyons, DUI, improper start, failure to maintain lane

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

09/26     Rogelio Ramirez Dema                      Uvalda, Ga.                          DUI, Open Container, Driving w/o Valid License

 09/27     Spencer Matthew Hester                    Lyons, Ga.                            Driving w/Suspended License

 09/28     Elvin Tyrone Jackson                         Uvalda, Ga.                          Obstruction of Officer, Bench Warrant Served

 09/28     Lamar Cook                                         Ailey, Ga.                              Aggravated Assault

 09/30     Grover Irvin Poole                               Glenwood, Ga.                     DUI

 09/30     Lorenzo Varela                                    Vidalia, Ga.                           Driving While Unlicensed

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Brandon August, Vidalia, Driving while license suspended/revoked

Cody Cooper, Charllote, SC, Driving while license suspended/revoked

Cody Faircloth, Vidalia, disorderly conduct, battery

Jessica Flowers, Lyons, Obstructing police

Carolyn Hutcheson, Lyons, DUI

Devon Meeks, Lyons, criminal damage to property, battery

Greg Morris, Lyons, Driving while license suspended/revoked, safety belts violation

Robert Southerland, Vidalia, probation violation, driving while license suspended/revoked

Joseph Trobridge, Lyons, purchase, possession, manufacturing and distribution of cocaine

Jamie Vio, Vidalia, contempt of court





October 2--  Which would you rather do?  Send your state income tax payment this year to Atlanta or send it to help the bottom line at Meadows Regional Medical Center in Vidalia?

Meadows is one of 49 rural hospitals which can benefit from the tax credit program created by the Georgia legislature, according to Jim Creamer, a certified public accountant who consults with hospitals.

"I appreciate what they've done because they recognize the trends in healthcare which are going downward.  It gives the state taxpayer, who's going to have to pay their taxes anyway, an opportunity to make that same payment to a needy hospital.  It's a benefit to the taxpayer and the hospital," he said.

When it comes to finances, many of Georgia's rural hospitals are on the medical equivalent of "intensive care" because "The whole challenge about healthcare is that there is so much of an estimate involved in what the hospital receives from patients.  For Meadows and all hospitals, about 65% of gross revenue comes from government and the government is reluctant to release what they are going to pay far enough in advance for hospitals to plan.

"All hospitals are struggling.  What they get from the government is declining.  What they get from self-pay patients is declining.  There is less and less an opportunity to generate a profit.  Even though Meadows and other authority-based hospitals are classified as not for profit, you can't continue day to day without making some kind of a profit," Creamer says.

Creamer  says because the program is based on tax credits, there are situations where you will actually get credit for more than the amount you contribute.

"The first thing I would do is talk to my accountant and get more information.  That taxpayer is going to have to pay their Georgia state taxes.  They can either pay the Department of Revenue or they can pay it to Meadows Regional and get more of a benefit and be eliminated from having to pay their taxes.  Either way, they are going to pay the same amount of money, they just get more of a benefit by participating in this program," he said.