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November 30--  Vidalia police say they have been conducting an undercover narcotics investigation which so far has resulted in the arrest of one person.

Twenty-five-year old Henry Lee Walker of Lyons is charged with sale of prescription pills and marijuana as well as the sale of drugs with a thousand feet of a Housing Authority and using a cellphone to facilitate drug sales.

Lieutenant Jimmy Sims says the investigation is ongoing and more arrests are expected.

kightchurchNovember 29--  The courtroom at the Toombs County courthouse was nearly full Tuesday night as representatives of area churches gathered to learn about security.

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight called the meeting to emphasize the importance of congregations being proactive when it comes to security.

jordankightCaptain Jordan Kight with the Toombs County Sheriff's office provided a framework churches should consider in the event a shooter attacks their congregation,"Some people have the mindset it doesn't happen here in a small town, but it does happen and it has happened all over the United States. We need churches to be proactive.  Planning and preparedness are the best things you can do to cut down on the amount of damage that can be done.  It may not happen the way you planned it, but you're going to get things done, you're going to communicate better, you're going to get law enforcement there faster and you're going to save lives by making an effort to have a plan in place," he said.

A member of the Lyons First Baptist Church says they have had five disturbances at the church in the last few years which re-enforced the need to be security minded, "I'm just encouraged by this and it's a great thing.  Any security you have, no matter how small it is, is security and it's better than nothing at all."

A Methodist layperson says her denomination is conducting security training on the internet, "I just think it's very important that we look at this and take it very seriously to do what we can for our own church.  We need to be more concerned about what's happening durng the church service when adults are sitting in the worship service and children are being taken care of.  How safe are they?  It's just really on my heart because I've been involved in church work for a long time," she said.

Captain Kight is available to consult with churches and may be contacted at the Sheriff's office, 526-6778.


November 29-- The Federal Communications Commission announced that it will vote on December 14 to enact the exceptionally misleadingly titled “Restoring Internet Freedom” order.

If passed, it will do the opposite of restoring anything resembling freedom — it will repeal the current net neutrality rules which were enacted to ensure that Americans would have equal access to the Internet.

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re already interested in the topic. Still, some quick background:

Renamed “Open Internet” a while back, net neutrality provided a regulatory framework that specifically prohibited:

  • Blocking: Broadband providers may not block access to lawful content, applications, services or non-harmful devices.
  • Throttling: Broadband providers may not deliberately target some lawful Internet traffic to be delivered to users more slowly than other traffic.
  • Paid prioritization: Broadband providers may not favor some Internet traffic in exchange for consideration of any kind. Internet service providers are also banned from prioritizing content and services of their affiliates.

In its place the FCC is proposing to “Restore Internet Freedom” as follows:

  • Reinstate the “information service” classification of broadband Internet access service first established on a bipartisan basis during the Clinton Administration.
  • Restore the determination that mobile broadband is not a “commercial mobile service” subject to heavy-handed regulation.
  • Restore the authority of the nation’s most experienced cop on the privacy beat – the Federal Trade Commission – to police the privacy practices of ISPs.

What it means for agencies, advertisers and marketers

We’ll get to the winners and losers below — and there will be plenty of each — but as something of a silver lining, this regulatory shift would open up a wide-range of opportunities for agencies, advertisers and marketers. This could be a perfect opportunity to pair programmatic creative with programmatic media buying. There will be hundreds of different rate plans targeted at specific cohorts. There will also be opportunities to create new consumer and brand experiences that include “unlimited” bandwidth or “free” bandwidth offers.

The restoration of this version of “Internet freedom” will change the media distribution landscape dramatically. It will be the perfect place for new creative ad units and offers. Think about how your brand can be positioned as a trusted, needed, content companion. It’s an unintended consequence, but the FCC is about to give a lot of smart marketers an opportunity to shine.

About those winners and losers, though: this is where the silver lining begins to tarnish.


Big Internet service providers and wireless carriers such as Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, etc., come out on top. The bigger you are, the happier this makes you. These organizations will be able to craft any kind of data packages that the market will bear. They will be able to throttle bandwidth, lie about unlimited plans, favor big payer or affiliate partner traffic over competitive traffic. (Imagine Comcast favoring Xfinity over Netflix or throttling down your bandwidth if you were watching Star Trek: Discovery on CBS All Access.) Pricing will not be market driven; most ISPs are de facto monopolies in their specific territories.

Alcatel-Lucent, Broadcom, Cisco, Corning, Ericsson, IBM, Intel, NokiaSolutions and Networks, Panasonic Corporation of North America, Qualcomm and 50-plus other tech companies who signed the original letter against Title II (which the FCC is planning to repeal as well) also come out on top. As do lawyers, especially attorneys for… well, just about everybody involved.


Netflix and every other content provider. The goal of net neutrality was to ensure that Comcast did not favor delivery of its own content over competitive content such as Netflix. Or Amazon. Or Hulu. Content providers who do not own their own distribution are now at serious risk.

The list of losers is long: Dropbox, Ebay, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Reddit, Tumblr, Twitter, Vonage Holdings Corp., Yahoo! Inc. and about 150 other companies that signed the original letter in favor of net neutrality are among them. Less friction for consumers means better business for big tech. Although, it will be interesting to see whether or not big tech likes this particular recipe for restoring Internet freedom. They may.

Small businesses and start-ups. If you can’t afford high-speed bandwidth, too bad. If your start-up uses lots of data, or its new augmented reality app requires consumers to have access to enough bandwidth to use it, too bad. If fill-in-the-blank needs equal access to the Internet, too bad. If your online service competes with an online service that the big telecoms or ISPs favor, too bad.

You. If you’re a normal person and you want access to the Internet, get ready for all kinds of airline industry-style charges. You’ll either accept a slower connection or pay extra for going over a threshold on your unlimited data plan. In practice, you’re likely to get amazing speed and service for video content you don’t care about and terrible service while trying to use the things you really want. The solution … pay more.

A few closing thoughts

I am not advocating for any specific type of government involvement with the Internet. I think government has proven that it has no business being in any business. But I believe we should govern America for the best possible GDP (as opposed to governing to enrich a big few big corporations). Al Gore may not have invented the Internet, but his metaphor about it being an information super-highway was pretty good. Imagine an America where a private company could close the left-lane of I-95 between NY and Hartford because they didn’t have the money to maintain it, or worse, wanted to use it for themselves and their friends. How would that affect commerce on the I-95 corridor?

Our world is digital – all digital. To make the most of it, my delivery truck and your delivery truck should have equal access to the same highway system and connecting roads. Just like we do in the physical world.

Lastly, this is a huge topic that will impact every person in the United States. It’s worth some of your time to go a bit deeper and to decide for yourself how the “Restoring Internet Freedom” act is going to change your life – because it absolutely will.

Author’s note: This is not a sponsored post. I am the author of this article and it expresses my own opinions. I am not, nor is my company, receiving compensation for it. Shelly Palmer leads The Palmer Group, a digital strategy and solutions company.

November 28--  Imagine you're seven years old and have had 113 blood transfusions in your young life!  That's why Irelynn Rose of Statesboro is coming to Vidalia next week to promote a holiday blood drive by the American Red Cross.

irelynnroseIrelynn has a rare blood disorder called Diamond Blackfan Anemia, her body does not produce red blood cells, according to her Dad, Nick, "Think about that, 113 people have donated their blood and given our daughter life and the ability to live.  Everyday, every Thanksgiving, every birthday, we're just so thankful for blood donors.  They came through, it's a miracle and we're just so thankful she is here with us today,"

Irelynn's mother, Melissa, says her daughter has been in remission for more than a half year, "Every month Irelynn got blood all of her life until the last seven months when she has gone without a transfusion.  This is a miracle because only 15 to 20% of DBA patients can go into remission. 

We don't know how long it will work and that's why we want to promote blood donations for people who need blood transfusions."

The Red Cross is making a push to gather blood for the holidays and a drive in Irelynn's name is coming up Thursday, December 7th from 12 till six p.m. in the Activities Center of the Vidalia First United Methodist Church.

Biram Chapman is a Red Cross coordinator, "I have so many stories.  I was in Soperton a couple of months ago and a middle-age guy gave and I asked him if he'd share why and he said, 'My God-daughter was in an accident and needed six units of blood.  Before then, I'd never given, but I'll never miss again," Chapman recounted.

Chapman will sign you up for the drive if you call his cell, 912-663-6721 or you can preregister at


November 27-- Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits reports the following arrests.

Mccray, Brian Marquell-B/M- 28 YOA-201 Jerriel St Apt 10 Vidalia, Ga- Warrant Served (Parole)

Griffin, Layshun- B/F- 43 YOA- 6503 Cameron Rd Morrow, Ga- Warrant Served (Bench Warrant- Toombs County)

Mundy, Ariel - W/F 20 YOA/ 000 General Delivery Vidalia, Ga./ Simple Battery, Cruelty To Children

Rouse, Crystal Lissette - B/F 36 YOA/ 414 Beech Rd. Dublin, Ga./ Theft By Shoplifting 1st Offense

Wise, Sanovia Monique - B/F 27 YOA/ 11024 Ga. Hwy 15 Soperton, Ga/ Theft By Shoplifting 1st Offense/ Driving While License Suspended Or Revoked 2nd Offense

Jones, Katrina - W/F 58 YOA/ 184 Jennifer Cir. Lyons, Ga./ Speeding, Driving While License Suspeded Or Revoked 2nd, DUI 1st Offense

Johnson, Darius Lashun - B/M 27 YOA/ 712 Montgomery St. Vidalia, Ga./ State Warrant (6 Counts Of Theft By Taking)

Mosley, Barron Lamar- W/M- 43 YOA- 501 Old Savannah Rd, Ailey, GA- Bench Warrant (VPD

Fain, Reginald-B/M-38 YOA- 708 Symonds Street Vidalia, Ga- Warrant Served (Arkansas Parole)

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Mario Adderson, Vidalia, Parole Violation

Shaffran Benton, Vidalia, Speeding, Suspended/revoked license

Meagan Bryson, Lyons, Assault/Battery, public drunkeness

Juan Carlos, Lyons, Driving Unlicensed, speed restrictions

Samuel Crews, Vidalia, DUI, no insurance, license suspended/revoked, vehicle registtration suspended/revoked, failure to exercise due care, failure to carry license

Lashunda Haynes, Vidalia, probation violation

Adrian Ibarra, Jr., Lyons, DUI

Fernando Ibarra, Lyons, obstructing police, underage consumption, disordely conduct

Angela Jernigan, Adrian, probation violation

Corey Mayes, Hinesville, DUI, tampering with evidence, purchase, possession, manufacturing and distribution of a controlled substance

Marcus Moultrie, Jr.,Lyons,  probation violation, entering automobile, crossing of guard lines without consent of warden, giving false name, etc to officers

Tevin Page Blount, Lyons, violating probation, obstructing police

Teresa Swain, Uvalda, probation violation, obstructing police

Gregory Terry, Vidalia, warrant served for Douglas Co Sheriff's Office

Charles Willis, Jr., Vidalia, battery

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

11/21 – Joshua William Raper, Uvalda, Ga., DUI/Drugs, Failure to Maintain Lane, Too Fast for Conditions, Prohibited Acts/Possession of Cigarettes Under 18, Seat Belt Violation

11/24 – Terrence Alexander Green, Uvalda, Ga., Probation Violation

11/24 – Timmy Jermaine Jackson, Mt. Vernon, Ga., Sale of Cocaine (x2), Possession of Marijuana w/Intent, Possession of controlled Substance w/Intent (Ecstasy), Possession of Controlled Substance w/Intent (Hydrocodone), Possession of Cocaine w/Intent, Possession of Firearm during Commission of Crime

11/25 – Johnny Z. Moody, Hazlehurst, Ga., Financial Identity Fraud (x3)

11/26 – Jodi Alaina Dixon, McRae, Ga., DUI, Failure to Dim Headlights

November 27--  Annual performance reports on Georgia's school systems show that Treutlen High School students advanced academically over last year, however, both the middle and elementary schools got failing grades.

According to School Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Conley, "We were at 75.6% at the high school last year and we came up to 78% this year.  Although our middle school is at 56.5% this year, last year we were at 41.6%, so that has come up tremendously.  At the elementary school, it has dropped.  We were at 63.9% last year and it has dropped to 53.3%. 

"We are in the process now of drilling down all of our data and we will be presenting it to our school board in December.  We would like to present and explain all of this to our community in January.  We're planning to have our first ever "State of the System" address and we want our community to understand these scores," she said.

Dr. Conley says one of the contributing factors is poor attendance, "Attendance is not only affecting our student achievement, it's affecting our district and our extracurricular programs.  If the kids are not here and they get behind, then they have to take all academics in high school and they don't have time for extracurricular activities.  We're trying to instill that attendance is important early in the education career," she said.

System Performance Snapshots

* Treutlen's overall system performance is lower than 93% of school districts.

*Elementary students' academic growth is lower 97% of school districts.

*Middle school students' academic growth is lower than 96% of school districts.

*High school students' academic growth is higher than 84% of districts.

*The four-year graduation rate is 78.3% which is lower than 89% of school districts.

*Nearly 60% of graduates are college ready.

November 27--  There's good news and bad news in the school performance reports this year in the Montgomery County school system.

According to School Superintendent Hugh Kight, the good news is that scores for the middle and high schools are up over last year, "We're very proud of our middle and high school.  Our middle school improved four points and our high school increased eight points.  Also, the high school had a 90.7% graduation rate.  We're focusing on standards based teaching trying to get some of our kids back home again in our schools," he said.

While both the middle and high schools have grades of "C," which is the state average, the Montgomery Elementary School got an "F" and is 22 points below the state average.

"Speaking with the principal, of course we're disappointed with the score, but we've made some changes trying to find the root causes for the decrease. We reinstated our reading program, we're restructured our intervention process, restructured our class schedule and our teachers now have a better understanding.  They meet every week to talk about the standards and they plan together every week plus we have a new lesson planning format.  We've put in a lot of new stuff for our elementary and we have the dedicated teacher to get us where we're going.  I'll be surprised if this time next year we're not looking at a lot higher score in our elementary school," Kight said.


* Overall performance is lower than 96% of the schools in the state.

*Its students' academic growth is lower than 96% of the schools in the state.

* Less than half of its 3rd grade students (46.9%) are reading at or above the grade level target.


* Overall performance is lower than 55% of the schools in the state.

* Its students' academic growth is higher than 63% of schools in the state.

* Nearly 71% of its 8th grade students are reading at or above the grade target level.


* Overall performance is lower than 57% of the schools in the state.

* Its students' academic growth is lower than 67% of the schools in the state.

* Its four-year graduation rate is 90.7% which is higher than 71% of the schools in the state.

*48.9% of its graduates are college ready.


November 27--  A vital aspect of post-secondary education is establishing what your belief system is and learning how to present it to others. In Southeastern Technical College's (STC) Move on When Ready program (MOWR), students are asked to do both.

Pete Frost is an English Instructor at STC, and she's adopted a new strategy when it comes to teaching about persuasive writing. Rather than have her students write an essay for their grade, they instead have a classroom-wide debate over a variety of current issues.

stcdebateShe lets the students choose the topics they want to debate, and the students begin researching their sides of the issue and prepare their presentations. Topics range from national issues like anthem protests to local ones like whether or not public schools are better at educating students than private schools.

"They're at an age where they are forming their belief systems and learning how to defend them," Frost said. "Everyone has been very respectful and considerate of their peers in the debates."

Frost said that most of these students have never had to get in front of others and give a speech or deliver a presentation. She says that this assignment often makes them come out of their shell and helps them work on their presentation skills.

Frost grades the assignment as she would any other essay, but adds a delivery and presentation component. The students must submit a reference page citing used sources. After a debate, the students in the audience are allowed to ask additional questions and then vote on who won the debate. The voted winner receives an additional two points to the assignment's grade.

November 23-- State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said today that the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha region saw the number of unemployed residents climb and its unemployment rate increase in October.

The October unemployment rate, at 6.1 percent, was up from 5.5 percent in September. The rate rose as the number of unemployed residents increased by 653 to 7,141. The October rate compares favorably to last October when the rate was 7.5 percent.

“Ideally, we’d rather not see the rate go up in any single month,” Butler said. “But it’s not alarming because the trend over the past year continues to look good. The numbers fluctuate from month to month.”

In October, the number of employed residents decreased by 441 to 110,794. However, there are 2,850 more employed residents now than in October 2016.

At the same time, the area’s labor force, which includes the total number of residents with jobs and those unemployed but looking for work, rose to 117,935, up by 212. The labor force is up by 1,219 since October 2016.

Unemployment claims were up by 16.5 percent to 2,223. Claims were filed in administrative and support services and manufacturing. When compared to last October, claims were up by 10.5 percent from 2,012.

Employ Georgia, the GDOL’s online job listing service at showed 535 new active job postings in Heart of Georgia-Altamaha region for October.

The Georgia Department of Labor tracks labor force data for the state, 37 cities with populations of 25,000 or more, all 159 counties, 14 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) and 11 Regional Commission (RC) areas.   

Visit to learn more about career opportunities, Employ Georgia and other GDOL services for job seekers and employers and to connect with us on social media.

The Montgomery County Board of Commissioners held their regular monthly meeting on Monday, November 13, 2017 at 5:30 pm. Members present were Leland Adams, Chad Kenney, Greg Palmer, Clarence Thomas and Tim Williamson.

These are excerpts from the unofficial minutes of the meeting.

County Manager Brandon Braddy introduced two representatives with the Southeastern African Farmers Organic Network. Tamara Jones and Blaine Snipstal.

Appearing before the board was Michele Johnson, incoming Director of the Toombs-Montgomery Chamber of Commerce after the retirement of Bill Mitchell at the end of December. Ms. Johnson informed the Board of upcoming Chamber events.

Joe Filippone, Executive Director of the Development Authority, gave his report. Mr. Filippone informed the Board the Development Authority will be hosting a dinner for the businesses in the County next March. There are Seven people who have signed up for the Economic Development class to represent Montgomery County. A new business, Hardeman’s Hardware and General Store will be having ribbon cutting ceremony on Monday, November 20th at 10:00 am. This business will be in the former Allcare Pharmacy building. Mr. Filippone is working with another prospect to open another business in the County perhaps at the business park on 280. Mr. Filippone requested for the rest of the trees and debris to be cleaned up at the business park on US 280.

Probate Judge Rubie Nell Sanders appeared before the Board to announce a scholarship is being offered by the County Officers Association of Georgia. Judge Sanders also requested an Express Pole machine for the early voting. This machine will cost around $500.00. Judge Sanders also informed the Commissioners they may want to consider combining some of the voting precincts to save money. Other Counties are combining some of their precincts. Judge Sanders also asked if the County will replace some of the voting machines with the machines that the state of California is discarding. These will cost around $500.00 as well. Judge Sanders informed the Board that she is in the process of working with Judicial Alternatives of Georgia to increase the traffic fines for the County.

Brian Myers appeared before the Board to express concerns about litter on County Roads. Mr. Myer was informed that littering is an ongoing issue throughout the County.

Under Reports, Homer Rivers informed the Board about the requirement for first responders to be a volunteer fireman. Mr. Rivers recommended this requirement to be abolished. Mr. Rivers stated there is a need for more first responders. The requirement for a first responder to be a volunteer fireman is hindering others from volunteering to be a first responder. The Commissioners agreed with Mr. Rivers request.

Under Road Department reports, the Road Department held a safety meeting on October 31st with the topic being boom truck safety. There were nine employees at the meeting and there were no accidents in October.

The Board reviewed the pending work orders and projects list. The Board discussed the bump on Red Bluff Road at the bridge. Road Superintendent Fountain will check on renting a grinder from Brooks in Dublin to grind the bump down. The Board also discussed the dip on Spur 56. After it is inspected to see what needs to be done to repair the dip, the Board may ask Sikes Brothers to apply leveling over the dip while the company is working in the City of Mt. Vernon.

County Manager Brandon Braddy and Road Superintendent Milton Fountain completed Commissioner Kenney’s questionnaire regarding the need for a dozer. Copies of the questionnaire were distributed to the Commissioner to review.

The Board discussed the cost of base and paving of the roads in Tara Plantation. Road Superintendent Fountain estimated it would take around $89,000.00 for rock.

The Solid Waste roll off truck is at Sweet Onion Truck Center. They are determining what needs to be repaired before a decision is made. The backup roll-off truck’s alternator went out Friday and a Road Department employee repaired it.

The Board reviewed the financial and accounts payable reports.

Under Old Business, the Board adopted the amendment to the Nuisance Ordinance (Res. No. 17-11-01) on a motion by Commissioner Thomas, seconded by Commissioner Kenney. Motion carried unanimously.

The Board agreed to adopt the Oconee Drug Task Force Intergovernmental Agreement for $13,379.00 per year on a motion by Commissioner Thomas, seconded by Commissioner Kenney. Motion carried unanimously. Sheriff Maybin has already signed the agreement and has been assured they will continue with the work they have been performing.

The Board discussed purchasing a new Zero-Turn lawn mower. County Manager Braddy presented the Board with the following quotes:

Westover Lawn & Garden      Hustler FasTrack SDX Kohler, 60 in              $6,250.00

Vidalia Small Engines             Hustler 25 hp Kawsaki Engine, 60 in             $6,300.00

Bragg Motor Service               Hustler x-one Kawsaki Engine, 69 in             $8,596.00

Alston Saw Shop                    Lazer z 29 hp Kawaski Enigne, 60 in             $,8850.00

After further discussion, the Board made no decision on purchasing a new lawn mower at this time.

House Bill 146 requires a supplemental cancer insurance policy to be carried on firefighters effective January 1, 2018. County Manager Braddy presented the Board with the following quotes on cancer coverage:

                                                                        Number              Annual                    Total

of members        Premium                 Annual

Agency                                                                                       per Member            Premium

Adamson Insurance Agency -VFIS/SE          74                     $ 186.00                $ 13,764.00

Partners Benefit Group                                   74                     $ 266.40                $ 19,713.60

Taylor Insurance Services                               74                     $ 469.48                $ 34,741.80

(If all members are non-smokers)

Taylor Insurance Services                               74                     $ 704.29                 $ 52,117.56

(If all members are smokers) 

On a motion by Commissioner Kenney, seconded by Commissioner Thomas the Board agreed to accept the quote from Adamson Insurance Agency – VFIS/SE for $13,764.00 annually with funding to be determined. Motion carried unanimously.

After discussion on the Insurance Premium Tax Resolution and perhaps meeting with the Cities to ask them to contribute toward the firefighter cancer policy, the Board postponed adopting the resolution at this time.

On a motion by Commissioner Thomas, seconded by Commissioner Kenney the Board agreed to adopt the Private Probation Contracts for the Probate Court and Magistrate Court.   Motion carried unanimously.

After receiving bids for road striping, the winning bid came in at $20,450.00 lower than the grant proceeds. This created funding for an additional 16.2 miles of County roads that can be striped. The Board agreed to adopt the change order allowing additional roads to be striped on a motion by Commissioner Palmer, seconded by Commissioner Kenney. Commissioner Thomas abstained because he was not present when the bid was accepted and awarded. Motion carried.

Commissioner Palmer requested establishing a fee policy for mowing the Development Authority property and for performing work in the incorporated areas. Commissioner Palmer alleged that the Road Department equipment was damaged by performing work on the Development Authority’s property. Chairman Adams disagreed with Commissioner Palmer’s allegation. Commissioner Palmer asserted that the Cities and Development Authority should pay for work provided by the Road Department. Chairman Adams explained that the Cities pay for their own materials and the County provides the labor. Chairman Adams was concerned with double taxation within the incorporated areas by explaining that the incorporated and unincorporated areas pay the same property tax millage rate. Chairman Adams asked Commissioner Palmer, “You got a proposal or fee you want to charge or what you want to charge?” Commissioner Palmer stated “I think we need a fee for anything, I don’t why you sitting there smiling. I mean this is business.” Commissioner Adams responded, “Well, you want to look sad and cry?” Commissioner Palmer said, “No, I want you to act like you concerned about it instead of sitting there looking like a jackass eating briers.” Commissioner Adams replied, “Hey now, that’s not necessary.” Commissioner Palmer believes the County needs a price chart for services. Commissioner Palmer made a motion to create fees to charge the Development Authority and municipalities. The motion was seconded by Chairman Adams. Commissioner Palmer voted in favor of the motion. Commissioners Adams, Kenney, Thomas, and Williamson voted against the motion. The motion failed by a vote of 1 to 4.

Commissioner Kenney presented the Board with a draft of a Board Appointment Policy to consider. During discussion, Commissioner Palmer expressed stern opposition to the policy. Commissioner Kenney informed the board that the proposed policy will allow for transparency as the Commissioners consider candidates for boards. The intent of the policy is to inform the public of vacant or expiring board seats for those boards that the Commissioners are responsible for appointing and to provide for an applicant process. Commissioner Kenney stated that he wanted to give the expiring board member and everyone else the “same opportunity.” Also, Commissioner Kenney stated the policy will allow for time to review the applicants to “make sure they meet the qualifications”. Commissioner Palmer’s response was, “So that you will have time to try to dig up some dirt on somebody as you nominate them. Right?” Commissoner Kenney responded, “No Greg.” Commissioner Palmer asked Commissioner Kenney, “Why now? Why now? Why is this on the heels of the two appointees that I…” Commissioner Kenney interjected and requested the floor. The Chair granted Commissioner Kenney’s request and Commissioner Kenney continued with presenting the proposed policy. Commissioner Kenney expressed the need for the Commissioners to do their due diligence and to have procedures. Commissioner Palmer continued with asking, “Why now on the heels of last meeting we got two old timers put off and two new people coming in and now we changing the policy.” Commissioner Kenney responded, “We used your recommendations for that. I don’t know why you are complaining?” Lendle Hamilton, a citizen at the meeting asked if he could say something. Chairman Adams allowed Mr. Hamilton to speak. Mr. Hamilton stated his son was one of those appointments and he felt like Commissioner Kenney was doing this because his son was one of these appointments. The Board made no decision on the board appointment policy at this time.

County Manager Brandon Braddy presented the Board with a contract from Kenwood USA Corp. to provide a radio system design for the County’s emergency agencies. Commissioner Thomas made a motion to adopt the engineering and design contract with Kenwood USA Corp., seconded by Commissioner Kenney opening the motion up for discussion. This engineering and design contract will cost $12,975.00. This cost may be reduced if they County goes with Kenwood Communications. Commissioner Palmer stated if Kenwood would give us 20 hand held units in lieu of this cost of the contract he would go along with it. Commissioners Kenney, Thomas, and Williamson voted in favor of the motion. Commissioner Palmer voted against the motion. Chairman Adams abstained. Motion carried.

Commissioner Palmer stated he felt the meeting needed a public comment section on the agenda. The Commissioners agreed to discuss the development of a policy in a work session.

Under Comments, County Manager Braddy gave the Board the upcoming board appointments and board qualifications. These Boards are the Heart of Georgia Altamaha Regional Commission, Health Department Board, and Development Authority

Also, under Comments Commissioner Palmer stated, “I would like to read a statement into the minutes regarding recent policy changes the Montgomery County Commissioners have implemented. It seems that I am in a constant battle with the other Commissioners and the County Manager in experiencing retaliation for policies that I try to put forth. If the Commissioners and the County Manager put as much effort into trying to quash and destroy my efforts to make Montgomery County a better place as they did running the county we would have far less problems in the county and maybe save some money in the process. Case in point if you want particulars. The key policy, implemented that, when I got a key to go look in a couple buildings. Work sessions, we never seem to have them but all of a sudden, we going to have one next week. That’s great, been trying to have it ever since I took office. Tonight’s changes in policy of nominating board appointments. That just popped up. Pricing and buying used equipment. I just want to say, that we taking bids on a bulldozer. It’s going to be around $150,000 next month and I found a used one, perfect condition, 90% under carriage, little over 3000 hours, it sold for $51,000 on the sale Thursday. Selling surplus equipment, which we can’t ever seem to ever get around to. A working relationship with the fire chiefs and the property owned by the county and support them and that’s it.

Commissioner Thomas said he was not here at the last meeting but after the meeting with the Kenwood representative he asked what could be done right now and was told “nothing”.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 7:50 pm on a motion by Commissioner Williamson, seconded by Commissioner Adams. Motion carried.


November 22--  A Longpond resident is the new director of the Montgomery County Senior Center.

seniorcitizendirEvelyn Carpenter was hired Tuesday during a called meeting of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners. 

She succeeds Kathleen Fennell who is retiring the end of this year. (L-R) are Montgomery Commission Chairman Leland Adams, Mrs. Carpenter and Montgomery County Manager Brandon Braddy.

“I am pleased to announce that Mrs. Carpenter will be the new Director of the Montgomery County Senior Center,” says Chairman Leland Adams.  “I am thankful when the County has the opportunity to hire someone locally for leadership positions in the County.  I am looking forward to Mrs. Carpenter leading this vital service that is provided to the County’s aging population.”

She and her husband, Chris, have two boys, Jacob, 13, and Jonas, 7.

The primary purpose of the Montgomery County Senior Center is to provide a nutrition program for the County’s elderly and to deliver hot meals to those who  are home bound. 

The Senior Center’s nutrition program is primarily funded by the Heart of Georgia Altamaha Area Agency on Aging.  Supplemental funding is also provided by the United Way of Toombs, Montgomery and Wheeler Counties.  In addition to the nutrition program, the Senior Center provides activities for seniors. 

The Montgomery County Senior is located at 391 West Morrison Street in Mount Vernon and is open 9:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.


November 22--  An arrest has been made in a downtown Vidalia armed robbery.

lewisjonathanVidalia Police Lieutenant Jimmy Sims reports 33-year-old Jonathan Lewis of McRae was arrested Monday for the September robbery of Personal Finance and Tax Service on Church Street.

Two black men wearing ski masks entered the office.  One brandished a pistol and the other stole nearly $6,000 from the cash drawer.

Lieutenant Sims says the case remains under investigation and more arrests are expected.

November 21--  The chairman of the holding board at Meadows Regional Medical Center in Vidalia says aggressive recruiting of top quality medical personnel will continue following a nearly $12.9 million settlement with the federal and state governments alleging over payment of some physicians by the hospital and questionable billing practices in violation of the False Claims Act.

Mike Calhoun has been board chair for 20 years and makes no apology for spending money to attract good physicians, "Just because we live in a rural community doesn't mean we should have lower quality heath care than someone who lives in an urban area. We're going to press forward and always try to recruit the highest quality physician, nurse and practitioner that we can for our community.

"It might mean we have to be a little more aggressive. I equate it to football in the sense that Atlanta Falcon quarterback Matt Ryan might throw an interception every now and then, but that doesn't mean they stop passing the ball.  They come back out and they have to pass and that's what we're going to do.  We're going to keep working and recruiting aggressively to bring these good quality physicians and nurses to our community," he said.

alanbriefingMedical Center CEO Alan Kent briefed a breakfast group of citizens Tuesday morning and explained the hospital's settlement with the government and said the first part of the payback is a check from the medical center to the Department of Justice for nearly $2.9 million.  He said the medical center's insurance company will also make a partial payment and the balance will be paid in installments over a five-year period depending on the hospital's net income each year.

Among those attending the meeting, Vidalia insurance agent Steve Brown, says you can't put a dollar value on the lives saved by the doctors at Meadows, including his own.

"During these last 20 years in Toombs County, I had the opportunity to seek care wherever I wanted to go.  It was in the beginning stages of some of these physicians who were recruited by our hospital and, as a result of that, my life was saved by a doctor who was recruited.  When you make a tremendous difference and you take some risks sometimes, there are consequences even if you don't really understand them as you're making them.  In retrospect, they are a lot of Monday morning quarterbacks, but I'm still going to be supportive because I wouldn't be standing here today in the absence of it," Brown said.


November 21-- Because of the Thanksgiving holiday, "Straight Talk With Wilson Johnson," will be heard Thursday, November 30 at 8:05 a.m. on NewsTalk WVOP.  This month's guests are Lyons Mayor Willis NeSmith and Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker.

Levin Gets FOX Show

Mark Levin, nationally syndicated talk show host, starts a weekend show on the Fox News Channel in February.  "Life, Liberty and Levin" will debut in February and will be broadcast Sunday nights at ten p.m.

Levin hosts his radio show weeknights from six till nine p.m. on NewsTalk WVOP, AM 970 and FM 1053. in Vidalia.

November 21--  In the aftermath of a multi-million dollar settlement with the federal and state governments, Meadows Regional Medical Center CEO Alan Kent says he is disappointed, but it will not impact the hospital's ability to serve the community.

"I'm very disappointed and we accept the responsibility for not having met some of the government standings in their review," Kent admitted.

"This is about contractual relationships between the hospital and a handful of physicians over a period years.  This is not going to have an impact which is going to cause us to sell the hospital or layoff employees.  We are committed to continue to move forward and do the mission oriented work that we have always been able to do," he said.

The government announced a settlement of up to $12,875,000 contending that Meadows submitted claims referred by physicians who were being overpaid by Meadows and that the arrangement violated federal law and the Anti-Kickback Statute.  Federal officials said reimbursements to hospitals should be based on a patient's best interest and not the financial interests of its doctors.

Regarding compensation paid to doctors, Kent says, "It really comes down to a matter of fair market value.  Just like in the appraisal of a home, there might be more than one opinion about that number, fair market value is a range. Going forward we have already instituted a number of better practices that will help us create a better definition of fair market value.  This will let us run the organization at a higher degree of compliance and structure that will meet the expectations of the federal government, the state government or anyone else who would review our contracts."

Part of the settlement requires Meadows to enter into what's called a "corporate integrity agreement" giving the government more oversight regarding compensation and other management decisions.

Meanwhile the hospital has five years to pay the government, "We're making an initial payment, but the government has allowed us to structure this over time so we don't have to write a check for all of this at once.  Also, part of the settlement is contingent on our hospital's performance over the next five years," Kent said.

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

Wright, Jayson Santos - B/M 20 YOA/ 458 Regency Rd. Vidalia, Ga./ Bench Warrant (Theft By Shoplifting 1st Offense)

Lewis, Jonathan- B/M- 33 YOA- 6 W Grant St. McRae, GA- Armed Robbery

Austin Rowland, Soperton, DUI

Chet Lomax, Eastover, SC, Probation Violation

Gregory Watson, Vidalia, Probation Viiolation

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Latrenda Miles, Baxley, DUI, Possession of Marijuana and Drug Related Objects, Failure to maintain lane and to dim headlights.\

Edward Bullard, Lyons,DUI, Hit and Run, Failure to Yield

Victor Ramos, Metter, DUI, Driving while license suspended/revoked, failure to maintain lane, driving on wrong side of road, open container violation

Tyson Ransom, Lyons, Possession of Marijuana, Possession with intent to distribute cocaine, no insurance, Driving unlicensed

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Kevin Allgood, Bloomingdale, Disorderly Conduct

Jaudon Foreman, Vidalia, Probation Violation

Emory Gaffney, Reidsville, No Safety Belt, Failure to maintain lane, Driving while license suspended/revoked

James Golden, Reidsville, Probation Violation

Jarrett Henry, Dudley, DUI, obstructing police, No seat belt, failure to maintain lane

Mark Kirkland, Vidalia, Failure to Appear

Rigoberto Mata, Lyons, Trafficking Illegal Drugs, 3 counts of purchase, possession, manufacture, distribution and sale of Methamphetamine

Stephen Paul, Lyons,DUI, failure to maintain lane

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

11/14 – Hozie Cannida, Hephzibbah, Ga., Felony Probation Violation

11/15 – Bobby Lee Akins, II, Lyons, Ga., Trafficking in Methamphetamine, Use of Communications Facilities to Violate Provisions Prohibited

11/15 – Ginger Michelle Moxley, Vidalia, Ga., Felony Probation Violation

11/16 – Penny Geanette Fountain, Mt. Vernon, Ga., Possession of Methamphetamine, Possession of Firearm by Convicted Felon, Felony Probation Violation

11/16 – Rickey Edward Holland, Baxley, Ga., Possession of Marijuana, Possession of Drug Related Objects

11/16 – Andrew Eric Morris, Glenwood, Ga., Possession of Methamphetamine

11/17 – Roger Odell Demmer, Uvalda, Ga., Cruelty to Animals

11/18 – Wendell Royce Williams, Baxley, Ga., Trafficking in Methamphetamine, Obstruction of Officer, Fleeing/Attempting to Elude Police Officer





November 20--  Remember back in June when a couple was caught on video accosting the owner of a Baxley chicken restaurant and her daughter?

smithchickensFriday 45-year-old Nathaniel Eric Smith and 28-year-old Latasha Denise Smith of Savannah entered a guilty plea for aggravated assault and cruelty to children in Camden County Superior Court.

The beating was captured on surveillance video that aired on every major network and many other news outlets. It first showed Latasha Smith beating Jeanette Norris, the owner of the Qwik Chick in downtown Baxley in June. When Norris’ 15-year-old daughter got out of a vehicle to help her mother, Nathaniel Smith punched her in the face knocking her down, the video showed.

Norris suffered a broken nose and her daughter was treated for a concussion.

After Latasha Smith complained that her chicken was cold and she wasn’t given enough food, Norris refunded her money but the woman persisted in cursing Norris and beating on the restaurant’s takeout windows before attacking Norris.

The Smiths were easily recognized on the video and warrants were issued for their arrests. There were at large for days but finally surrendered to the Bryan County sheriff and were taken back to Appling County for booking.

Superior Court Judge Robert Guy accepted the Smiths’ guilty pleas and will sentence them at a later date.

The case was moved to Camden County because of extensive publicity in Appling County.




November 20--  Sally D. Meadows Elementary School in Vidalia got an "F" on its School Performance Report from the Georgia Department of Education.  The other two schools in the system, J.R. Trippe Middle School and Vidalia High School got "C's" which is the state average.

"We're maintaining at Vidalia High School and J.R. Trippe, but we're concerned about the score for Sally D. Meadows Elementary," said Vidalia Assistant School Superintendent Lucy Claroni. "The principal at Sally Meadows is working hard with her staff analyzing all the scores and performing professional learning sessions with the teachers to not only analyze the data deeper, but to develop strategies and determine what are the issues causing this score not to be as high as it should be."

Claroni says kids coming out of J.D. Dickerson Primary School have some of the best reading scores in the state, but there's a different dynamic when they enter elementary school, "Reading instruction at kindergarten and first grade focuses on fluency and vocabulary and when you hit second, third, fourth and fifth it focuses on comprehension, so that's sort of what we're leaning toward.  What should we be doing to increase the comprehension scores at Sally Meadows."

Tammy McFadden is the new principal at the elementary school and she's confident they can do better in the future, "We have to remember as each kid moves up a grade level, the skills they are trying to accomplish get more difficult.  You may just be learning sight words at one point, but now we're reaching comprehension level so kids need to actually know what they're reading. By the time they finish second grade, they should be ready to read and from third grade on they're reading to learn.  We have a wonderful staff here and they're on board with all of the new initiatives we are doing and we're really proud of the success we're going to see," she said.


*The school's overall performance is higher than 11% of all schools in the state and is lower than its school district.

* Its students' academic growth is higher than 6% of schools in the state.

*48.9% of its 3rd grade students are reading at or above the grade level target.


*The school's overall performance is higher than 40% of schools in the state and is higher than its school district.

*Its students' academic growth is higher than 57% of schools in the state.

*57.1% of its 8th grade students are reading at or above the grade level target.


*The school's overall performance is higher than 61% of schools in the state and is higher than its school district.

*Its students' academic growth is higher than 62% of schools in the state.

*Its four-year graduation rate is 91.7% which is higher than 75% of high schools in the state.

*61.7% of graduates are college ready.



November 17--  Meadows Regional Medical Center in Vidalia has settled a federal lawsuit out of court according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Georgia.

"Meadows Regional Medical Center, Inc. (“Meadows”) and others have agreed to pay the United States and Georgia a total of up to $12,875,000 to resolve allegations that they violated the False Claims Act.

The United States and State of Georgia contended that Meadows and others violated and conspired to violate the False Claims Act by submitting claims referred by physicians with whom Meadows had improper compensation arrangements, in violation of the Stark Law and the Anti-Kickback Statute.

As part of the settlement, Meadows has also entered into a corporate integrity agreement with the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG).

“This Office prioritizes the investigation of improper financial relationships between health care providers and referral sources because services reimbursed by federal health care programs should be based on the patients’ best interests, and not on the financial interests of their doctors. We will continue to use all available resources at our disposal to pursue culpable providers, executives, and physicians,” said United States Attorney R. Brian Tanner.

“In the early stages of this investigation, Meadows made available its executive team, voluntarily produced large numbers of documents, self-identified potential issues, proposed monetary and non-monetary corrective actions, and followed through on those proposals. Meadows should be commended for its response, which resulted in a resolution that acknowledged the substantial efforts Meadows made on its own accord.”

“Once Meadows learned of payments to providers for hospital referrals they quickly acknowledged the wrongdoing and took positive steps to correct the problems,” said Derrick L. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge of the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “It is essential that patients and taxpayers be confident medical decisions have not been tainted by illegal financial considerations.”

“Georgia’s Medicaid program depends upon the integrity of referral sources for healthcare services,” said Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr. “Our office, through the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, will continue to safeguard our citizens from activity that places profits above patients. Providers like Meadows who voluntarily cooperate with investigations and take proactive remedial steps make protecting our programs much more effective.”

This investigation was conducted by Special Agent David Graupner, Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, Investigator Kimberly Reinken, United States Attorney’s Office, and Law Clerk Alison Slagowitz. The United States was represented by Assistant United States Attorney J. Thomas Clarkson. The State of Georgia was represented by Assistant Attorney General James Mooney with assistance from Investigative Auditor Denise Colson.

The claims resolved by the settlement agreement are allegations only and there has been no determination of liability.


November 17-- Georgia Apply to College Day was held at Toombs County High School

collegeapsThis was an exciting opportunity in which over 100 Seniors completed an application to a College/University or Technical College during the Apply to College Day event. These Seniors have completed the first step toward beginning their post-secondary goals.

TCHS staff were also able to represent as Alumni of colleges from which they graduated. 





Toombs County High School Chapter of Technology Student Association) in partnership with Ohoopee Regional Library hosted the first meeting of F.L.A.M.E.S (Females Learning the Application of Math Engineering and Science), a group created for girls to enhance, enrich and expand their interest in science, technology, engineering and math through various hands-on activities and experiments.

F.L.A.M.E.S. events are open to all girls in the 3rd – 5th grades.

stemBack: Attallaka Harris-Williams, (coordinator/ TSA Advisor) Margarita Busto Gonzalez, Matthew Stembridge and Cameron Asbell (not pictured)

Front: Khloe Smith, Jean Peterson, McKenna Gardisser and Sophia Tillman






Toombs Central Elementary October Student of the Month

We are all smiles for our October Student of the Month!

TCESSTUDENTSBack Row: Alejandro Tinoco (Fifth Grade), Jisel Delgado (Third Grade), and Jose Osorio (Fourth Grade) Front Row: Jovany Tinoco (Kindergarten), Aireonna Bessent (Pre-K), Yunuen Ramirez (First Grade), and Josie Morris (Second Grade). Congratulations students on a job well done!










petersonDermatologist Letty Peterson donated money to purchase t-shirts for students in Camp Bulldog, a community based instruction and transition program at Toombs County High School.

Partners like Dr. Peterson allow students to learn valuable information in the community that will assist them with independent living and life skills. 

Pictured left to right are:  Brandon Walker, Speech Therapist, Charles Freeman, Dr. Peterson, Keshon Toby, and Tanner Roberts.



November 16--  A middle school Social Studies teacher is the "Teacher of the Year" in the Montgomery County school system.

mocoteachersSahira Wadley (center) was named at a Thursday morning ceremony in the Mount Vernon Community House.

Teachers of the Year at Montgomery County High School are Spanish teacher Melissa Mullins (left) and Maria McBride, a pre-K teacher for 25 years at Montgomery County Elementary School.

"I do it for the kids and I'm just thankful that my peers and others see that my work is not in vain.  I enjoy seeing my kids learn.  When I see those that struggle actually comprehend, it really makes my day and let's me know I'm doing my job and helping them," Ms. Wadley said.

November 16--  Montgomery County Clerk of Court Keith Hamilton resigned October 31.

Hamilton has served for 13 years and still had three years remaining in his current term of office.  He says he has turned 67 and wants more time to pursue other interests.

tammyfoskeyHis deputy, Tammy Foskey, (right) has been sworn in as interim Clerk of Court and plans to run for the office in a special election that will be held in conjunction with the general primary election May 22 of next year.  Tina Williamson (left) is the new deputy clerk.

November 16--  Two of the six people indicted in connection with a burglary at the office of Montgomery County Sheriff Ladson O'Connor the night he died are asking a judge to quash the indictments against them. 

Lawyers for Mount Vernon Mayor Joey Fountain and Matt Waller appeared before Superior Court Judge Sarah Wall Thursday morning in Montgomery County Superior Court. 

A similar request filed earlier on behalf of defendant Todd Yancey is pending a decision by the Georgia Supreme Court.  Yancey contends he was on duty the night of the sheriff's death and that the District Attorney violated state law by not allowing him to testify before the grand jury.

Waller's attorney Mitch Shook argued that his client was also a deputy sheriff and had been sworn in by Sheriff O'Connor.  District Attorney Tim Vaughn disputed the claim and noted he carried the office title of Operations Manager.

Fountain's attorney Howard Kaufold asked the judge to rule on his written motion which claims on technical grounds that state law on burglary is not applicable to the break-in at the sheriff's personal office.

Shook told Judge Wall it is understandable if she reserves ruling on the motions pending a decision on the Yancey case by the state Supreme Court.

She gave him 20 days to file his motion in writing and the District Attorney ten days thereafter to respond to Shook's argument.



November 16--  Twelfth District Congressman Rick Allen voted for tax cuts today in the bill which passed the U.S. House of Representatives.  The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration where observers say its faces an uphill battle.  Congressman Allen issued the following statement after today's vote in the House.

“As a businessman for 40 years, I never dreamed that I would have the opportunity to cast a vote to cut, simplify, and reform taxes for middle class families and small businesses. Today, I proudly voted to do just that. Our growing economy is proof that rolling back regulations and reducing the size and scope of our government works. Under the Trump Administration we are getting our economy back on track, but nothing can compare to the effect that tax reform will have on jumpstarting the economy, expanding small businesses and creating jobs.

“Our current tax system is broken, taxes are too high, and our families and businesses are the ones paying the price. The hardworking people of Georgia-12 and across America deserve to keep more of their paychecks and have the opportunity to grow their businesses. Today we took the next step in making tax reform a reality by passing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and I was honored to cast my vote for historic legislation that will protect the American dream for hardworking families and remove the tax burdens strangling our economy. I am proud of the work the House has done and am hopeful that my Senate colleagues will join us to get tax reform on President Trump’s desk soon.”  

Key Components of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act:

  • Lowers rates for individuals and families
  • Preserves retirement savings options, such as 401(k)s and Individual Retirement Accounts, as Americans know them today
  • Creates a new lower tax rate and structure for small businesses
  • Increases the standard deduction
  • Increases the child tax credit
  • Preserves the Adoption Tax Credit
  • Preserves and extends the Nuclear Production Tax Credit, which is critical to the construction of the two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle
  • Preserves the deduction for charitable contributions
  • Protects the home mortgage interest deduction
  • Lowers the corporate tax rate to create jobs and promote competitiveness
  • Allows individuals to write off the cost of state and local property taxes up to $10,000
  • Streamlines higher education benefits
  • Allows “expensing” of capital investments to boost the economy
  • Provides immediate relief from the Death Tax by doubling the exemption and repealing the Death Tax after six years
  • Repeals the Alternative Minimum Tax
  • Eliminates loopholes for the wealthy, protects bedrock provisions for the middle class

November 16-- Attorney General Chris Carr and a coalition of 22 states filed an amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to protect the practice of lawmaker-led prayer at public meetings.

“The tradition of legislative prayer dates back to our country’s founding and is a time-honored practice in Georgia," said Attorney General Chris Carr. “The amicus brief shows that lawmaker-led prayer, at both the state and local level, is fully consistent with the Constitution and our nation’s long tradition of non-coercive expressions of faith in the public sector. We have a strong interest in preserving this form of liberty.”

The coalition filed the brief yesterday asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear arguments in Lund v. Rowan County, a case involving a North Carolina county’s practice of opening its meetings with prayer offered by its commissioners. The multi-state coalition’s friend-of-the-court brief is filed in support of the North Carolina county and asks the Court to confirm the constitutionality of that practice. Such a decision would establish clear national precedent permitting the longstanding practice of lawmaker-led prayer.

Georgia joined this brief along with West Virginia, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin, and the Governor of Kentucky.

A copy of the brief is available at

 November 15--  Nick Jones, Meadows Regional Medical Center PC Network Technician, has been awarded the hospital’s prestigious Meadows Moment Award.

Jones was nominated for this award for going above and beyond to assist with equipment set up at R.T. Stanley Health Center.

“Nick was supposed to come over to RT Stanley today to hook up some new printers, but he has stayed and helped us with so many other issues and we are so very grateful,” said Makayla Anderson, Front Office Assistant at RT Stanley Health Center. “He has been over to our office a few times before, and I have never met anyone so dedicated to doing the job. He has gone above and beyond each time he has been here to help us.”

nickjonesLeft to right: Stephen Smesny, Meadows Regional Medical Center Assistant Vice President of Information Services; Nick Jones, Meadows Regional Medical Center PC Network Technician; Chuck Bondurant, Meadows Regional Medical Center Vice President of Information Services/CIO.

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.

“We are very fortunate to have dedicated staff members like Nick,” said Stephen Smesny, Meadows Regional Medical Center Assistant Vice President of Information Services. “He graciously takes ownership of problems and works to resolve them.”

Jones has been employed with Meadows for eight years and currently resides in Lyons.

November 15--  Toombs County School Superintendent Richard Smith issued the following news release after the state reported results of annual performance testing in Georgia schools.

"The state of Georgia released their 2017 College and Career Readiness Performance Index this past week. The results show that the Toombs County School System has among the best elementary schools in the 18 system First District RESA Area, behind only the three large systems of Camden, Bryan and Effingham.

Toombs Central Elementary School posted a CCRPI score of 89.3, an increase of 6.3 points over the 2016 mark. Lyons Upper Elementary’s score was 82.1, expressing a gain of 8.3 points over last year. Out of 102 elementary schools in First District RESA, TCES and LUES ranked as the 13th and 28th best, respectively.

One component the CCRPI score takes into account is student growth from one year to the next. In Georgia’s Student Growth Model, each individual student is compared to academically-similar students across the state. The model considers how much progress a student made from one year to the next, taking the student’s starting point into account. In 5th grade English Language Arts, TCES had the 3rd largest growth of all elementary schools in the area. Toombs Central was 10th and Lyons Upper was 20th in growth for 5th grade math progress. For growth in overall elementary math, Lyons Upper ranked 17th in the RESA, while Toombs Central was 28th.

Toombs Central Principal Tonawanda Irie stated, "Through hard work and dedication from our faculty, staff, students, and parents we continue to see progress in our CCRPI scores. Through consistency of instructional practices, our students continue to meet student growth targets and we are seeing an increase in proficient learners in Reading and Math. I am very proud of our faculty, staff, and students for the exceptional job they have done. We are ‘Stinging with Success’ at TCES!"

“At LUES, we are so proud of all the hard work that has been put forth by our staff, students, parents and Board of Education,” said Tabatha Nobles, Principal at Lyons Upper Elementary. “We attribute success to the combined efforts of all involved in making Toombs County an excellent place to get an education.”

Toombs County High School earned a CCRPI score of 66.3, increasing over 2016 by 3.9 points. Toombs County Middle School celebrated a 4 point increase with a score of 61.2.

“We are very proud of the progress our schools are making,” said Superintendent Richard Smith. “Having all schools show an increase over last year is a step in the right direction. It is not an accident. It happens because of the deliberate, purposeful action by our teachers and leaders. They work hard each day to make Toombs County Schools better for our students. And we have amazing students, students who want to learn. When you pair that with the tremendous support of our community, positive things can happen. It’s a team effort. Our goal is that all students have the opportunity to achieve whatever they want out of life.”

November 15--  Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Michael Holton, Vidalia, DUI, speeding, failure to maintain lane

Charles Hunnewell, Lyons, DJUI, Possession of Drug Related Objects, Tail Light/Tag Light, Driving while license suspended/revoked

Arlonzo Gaffney, Lyons, DUI, Failure to Maintain Lane, Driving While License Suspended/Revoked

Jacob DeLoach, Glennville, DUI, Possesson of Marijuana, Possession of Drug Related Objects

Clayton Legette, Walterboro, SC, Possession of Methamphetamine, possession of drug related objects

Latrendan Riles, Baxley, DUI, Possession of Marijuana, possession of drug related objects, failure to maintain lane, failure to dim headlight

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Joseph Cash, Lyons, Driving while license suspended/revoked, no seat belt

Shawn Cribbs, Lyons, Probation Violation

Donnie Martin, Vidalia, Parole Violation

Mark Mitchell, Vidalia, Child Support, DUI, Hit and Run, Driving while license suspended/revoked

Rosanna Murray, Lyons, DUI, headlight

Berdo Rigoberto, Baxley, Driving While Unlicensed

Vanessa Torres, Collins, Speeding, Driving while license suspended/revoked

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

11/06 – Stuart Malone Reynolds, Vidalia, Ga., Possession of Methamphetamine, Possession of Drug Related Objects, Seat Belt Violation, Bondsman Off Bond

11/07 – Tyvorris Jerrell Jones, Vidalia, Ga., Burglary, Entering Auto to Commit Theft, Theft by Taking

11/08 – Benjamin Rubio, Lyons, Ga., Driving w/Suspended License

11/10 – Victoria Rogers Brisco, Mt. Vernon, Ga., Possession of Methamphetamine, Possession of Controlled Substance, Possession of Drug Related Objects, Driving w/Suspended License, Driving w/No Insurance, Failure to Stop at Stop Sign, Giving False Information, Reckless Driving, Felony Probation Violation

November 15--  The Vidalia school board honored four teachers of the year at its November meeting Tuesday.  One of the four will be named the system-wide Teacher of the Year after Thanksgiving.;

teacherjrtJ.D. Dickerson Primary School

Charlene Wood with Principal Scott Stephens has been teaching at J.D. Dickerson as a 1st grade teacher for 28 years. She started at the school as a student teacher.

teacherjddSally D. Meadows Elementary School

Erica Palmer (R) with her Principal Tammy McFadden is a gifted student teacher and has been teaching 18 years.






teachersdmJ.R. Trippe Middle School

Leslie Seabury (L) with Principal Sandy Reid has been teaching special education at J.R. Trippe for eight years.




Vidalia High School

Ben Beck (L) with Principal John Sharpe has been teaching science at VHS for seven years.

November 15-- The J.R. Trippe Chief Chess team participated in the Ogeechee River Scholastic Chess Association chess tournament in Statesboro Saturday. 

chessThis is the first year J.R. Trippe has had a chess team and this was the first tournament in which the students participated as a Chief. 

The Chief Chess team ranked 1st overall in the team middle school division, bringing home the gold. Conner Higgs completed the tournament second overall in the middle school division for individual scores. Other top finishers include Landry Wheeler in 5th, Peyton Corbett in 7th, and Alan Johnson in 9th. 

November 14--  The reward in the search for the person who fired a weapon at a Lyons police officer has more than doubled.

Earlier this month the Toombs-Montgomery CrimeStoppers approved a $1,000 reward for information leading to the person who fired shots at Lyons police officer Timothy Sullivan.  At the time, he was working as an off-duty security officer for an apartment complex near the corner of 11th Street and Grady Street last month.

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker this week added $1,200 to the reward bringing the total to $2,200.  He believes the case is gang-related and is asking for anyone with information to come forward to make Lyons safer.

In you have any information, call CrimeStoppers at 912-386-4480.  You do not have to give your name and can claim the reward if your information leads to an arrest.


November 14--  The City of Vidalia has approved a contract to repair six streets damaged by Hurricane Irma in September.

At its meeting Monday night, the City Council awarded a $421,000 contract to McLendon Enterprises of Vidalia to repair damages on Darby Circle, Rocky Creek Drive, Lewis Drive, Stella Avenue, Kissingbower Road and Clydette Boulevard.

The city has applied to the state and federal governments for hurricane relief funds to pay for the contract and work will not start until the funds are provided, according to Vidalia City Manager Nick Overstreet. 

The council also approved a request from Republic Services and Environmental Services Group which will increase the price residential customers will pay for trash pickup starting in January.  The rate will increase $1.28 per month.  The rate for commercial pickup is also increasing $4.27 per month.

The cost of basic cable is going up in January for Northland Communications subscribers.  The company notified the city the increase is tied to rising costs of programming and operations, however, the amount of the increase has yet to be announced.

The council and mayor recognized the Vidalia Recreation Department as the First District Agency of the Year in the Georgia Recreation and Parks Association.  Outgoing Recreation Director Tommy Sasser thanked his staff and all the recreation program volunteers for winning the recognition.

recdeptawardMembers of the City Council and the Recreation Department Board of Directors joined Mayor Ronnie Dixon and Tommy Sasser in accepting the award.


howardentranceNovember 15--  The contributions of the late Howard Hill to the Boys & Girls Club of Toombs County were recognized with the naming and dedication of the Club's new Teen Center in his name.

howardtshirtHoward's widow, Barbara, was presented an University of Tennessee T-Shirt by B&G Club Director Ralph Goethe in memory of Howard as UT's Number One Fan.

Howard was a longtime member of the Club's Board of Directors and devoted his time and talents "above and beyond" to the welfare of its members.

November 13--  State School Superintendent Richard Woods is running for re-election next year and paid a visit to the November meeting of the Toombs County Republican Party.

richardwoodswgroupThree area school superintendents were at the meeting to hear Woods' comments. (L-R) Toombs County Superintendent Richard Smith, Mr. Woods, Vidalia School Superintendent Garrett Wilcox and Tattnall County School Superintendent Gina Williams.

Woods has 22 years experience teaching in the Irwin County school system and wants to see less mandated testing in Georgia schools,"We require more mandated testing in Georgia than what the federals require.  What's the purpose of a test?  I'd like more of a diagnostic type of testing throughout the year.  Right now we have what I call the autopsy report at the end of the year.  Ultimately it's about our children and making sure they are learning the content of material and not the test.  I think that to better address their needs, we need to look at it throughout the year," he said.

One thing Woods likes in our public schools is the emerging career academy concept much like the Southeastern Early College and Career Academy in Vidalia which includes students from four different school systems.

"For Georgia to be successful, we've got to have a diverse workforce.  Not everyone needs to go to a university and not everyone needs four classes of subject 'X'.' Also, giving kids a choice is important.  Some kids have a desire to go to a university, some want to have a technical experience and some want to go into the military or go straight into the workforce.  If we give them a strong background of learning, they can make that choice.  My job is to try to that because at the end of the day there is a lot of opportunity for technical work throughout the state right now," he said. 

Two potential Democrat opponents to Woods are Sid Chapman of Clayton County, current president of the Georgia Association of Educators, and Otha Thornton, a Fort Stewart defense contractor and immediate past president of the national Parent-Teachers Association.


November 13--  Two local Veterans Day observances paid homage to Toombs County Green Beret Staff Sergeant Dustin Wright who was killed in an ISIS ambush last month in the African country of Niger.


Members of the Thunderbolt Junior R.O.T.C. Regiment marched in memory of Staff Sergeant Wright in the Lyons Veterans Parade.

vetflagsThe parade on South Victory Drive in Lyons passed by crosses adorned with Old Glory in honor of Toombs County veterans.

vetmonumentSome of Staff Sergeant Wright's family members and members of the VFW and VFW Auxiliary gathered at the Toombs County War Memorial where his name was added to the list 82 Toombs County citizens who have given their lives for their country.

November 11--  The family of Staff Sergeant Dustin Wright of Toombs County attended the "Honor Our Veterans" program Thursday at the Vidalia Community Center.  Staff Sergeant Wright was killed in an ISIS ambush last month in Niger along with three other members of his Green Beret unit.

The program is organized each year by the Downtown Vidalia Association and DVA President Ross Kelly asked those attending this year to also honor military families who sacrifice while their loved ones serve the country and, as in the case of Staff Sergeant Wright, lose their lives.

dvaardieDustin's father, Ardie, addressed the veterans and thanked the community for the love and support that was displayed when his son was brought home.

dvakidsThe Cornerstone Children's Choir regaled the vets with their rendition of "Yankee Doodle Dandy,"





dvaflagsAmerican Legion members presented service flags representing the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard while the songs of each service were performed by the Vidalia High School Sound Tribe.


November 9--  A graduate of Vidalia High School and Georgia Southern University is the Teacher of the Year in the Toombs County School System.

burkettWhitney Burkett is a sixth grade language arts teacher at Toombs County Middle School.  This is her third year of teaching there and the first year she was eligible to be considered for the award, "It means a lot to me.  I never thought I would get teacher of the year after only three years of teaching, but I've had a lot of compliments from parents and students and other faculty members and it makes your heart feel good," she said.

She chose teaching because she enjoys being around students and says her tenth grade English teacher, Mrs. Betty Fulton, was her main inspiration to pursue teaching language arts.

Even though she's only 25 years old and hasn't been out of high school that long, she sees changes, "It's very different.  I have to keep up with their lingo and the songs they like and what's popular now because it's still different from when I was in school even though it hasn't been that many years."

And while technology provides more teaching tools today, Ms. Burkett says one thing is the same, the role of parents, "It's extremely important.  If we meet with a parent, or they know we're going to meet with parents, their demeanor changes a lot because accountability comes into play," she notes.

toombsteachersWhitney is joined by Teachers of the Year in other schools including (L-R):

Jessica Toole, Lyons Primary School;

Hollie Braddy, Lyons Upper Elementary School;

Andrea Kelley, Toombs Central Elementary School

and Joey Montford, Toombs County High School.




November 9--  Veterans Day is coming up Saturday and students at Sally Meadows Elementary School in Vidalia had their annual Veterans Day Celebration Thursday.  Many veterans were there in person and students brought in photos of veterans for display in the school media center,.


November 29--  The United Way of Toombs, Montgomery and Wheeler Counties exceeded its goal this year by nearly $50,000.

At the campaign's victory luncheon Thursday, some big donations by area companies pushed the total raised to $596,229.38, well beyond the goal of $550,000.

Trane employees and the company raised $146,000, Plant Hatch donated $85,000 and Tumi turned in $20,000, according to United Way Executive Director Patricia Dixon, "We had a lot of our big industries which did their campaigns late so they came in late, but they came in big.  I really appreciate all the work they did and their employees for giving the United Way and supporting the community in doing that.  We'll probably get some more money in before we do the allocations and we're just so blessed, God has truly blessed us."

This year's campaign chairman Thomas Bowers said, "Thank you to everyone who has put in the effort this year.  It takes a lot of people to get this going and to raise that kind of money for the agencies around here."

The United Way provides funding to 23 community service agencies.  Paul Underwood has been on the board for 17 years, "This really helps our community.  We've got a lot of people who are in need and the United Way is a great way to make certain those needs are met.  Just because we may have a better time, doesn't mean everybody does.  The United Way fills that gap and makes sure people get what they need."

November 9--  The non-profit Community Project Hope gives young people in trouble with the law a second chance by advocating for them in the courts of the Middle Judicial Circuit.

WILSONAt its annual appreciation dinner in Vidalia, founder Wilson Johnson thanked citizens for their support, "We're unfunded and we have to show the people we are doing something good for the community. We help young men who got in trouble and the courts gave them the opportunity to live their lives free.  They have to go to church, get a job and, if they haven't graduated from high school, we steer them in the direction to get a GED and perhaps go to college.  I just want to thank all the people who are here tonight for their support," he said.

SHELLYAmong the speakers, Shelly Smith, CEO of the Southeastern Early College and Career Academy in Vidalia, talked about a program called "The Great Promise Partnership" which tries to keep people out of the court system.

"Wilson Johnson catches the kids after they've already dropped out, they are about to be adjudicated and may face time in jail or in prison.  Every student we can keep in school and get employed is one more kid that Wilson Johnson's program does not have to find in the court system," she said.

Assistant District Attorney Tripp Fitzner says Community Project Hope helps judges offer alternatives to prison, "I think our goal doesn't always have to be punitive. Sometimes you can give somebody and helping hand and that makes the community a better place.  We're very happy at the District Attorney's office to support the program and look forward to doing so in the future."

November 7-- Vidalia businessman Greg Johnson has won the Second Ward City Council seat in Vidalia.

Johnson defeated former Vidalia city manager Bill Torrance 298 to 207.

"There are a lot of people in this community who know me.  I got the opportunity to go knock on a lot of doors of the ones who didn't know me and introduce me and share with them some of my beliefs and let them know about me and my family.  I tried to knock on every door in the district," Johnson said of his victory.  He also thanked God and congratulated Bill Torrance for running a clean campaign.

In the race for the Ward Four Lyons council seat, John Moore, Jr. beat Tyler Peebles 64 to 36.

Moore is following in the footsteps of his late father who was a longtime member of the city council and mayor of Lyons, "I'm honored by the people of Ward Four who are giving me this opportunity.  I've always said in my life if I could be half the man my Daddy was and  the servant he was to the city, then I'd be doing okay.  I'm looking forward to the challenge," he said.

Lyons voters also approved the Sunday sale of alcoholic beverages 108 to 72 and the Sunday sale of alcohol by the drink 105 to 75.

There was also a Sunday sale of alcohol referendum in Soperton Tuesday and voters approved the measure 101 to 39.

November 7--  Former Uvalda city councilwoman Elaine Manning was elected Mayor Tuesday.

Manning beat challenger Wade Carpenter by 13 votes, 85 to 72.  Running unopposed for city council were Manning's successor, Arren Moses, and incumbents Martha Jackson, Lloyd Moses and Mary McLain.

Uvalda voters also approved Sunday sales of alcoholic beverages by a vote of 100 to 50.

November 7--  Meadows Regional Medical Center has received the Healthgrades 2017 Outstanding Patient Experience Award.

This distinction recognizes Meadows Regional Medical Center among the top 5% of hospitals nationwide, according to Healthgrades, the leading online resource for comprehensive information about physicians and hospitals.

“We are pleased to be recognized by Healthgrades as one of the top hospitals in the nation for outstanding patient experience,” said Meadows Regional Medical Center President and CEO, Alan Kent. “This award helps validate the hard work and dedication of all our team members who are committed to delivering a truly remarkable experience for each patient.”

Healthgrades evaluated performance by applying a scoring methodology to 10 patient experience measures, using data collected from a 32-question patient experience survey of the hospital’s own patients.

The survey questions focus on patients’ perspectives of their care in the hospital. The topics of these questions ranged from cleanliness and noise levels in patient rooms to factors such as pain management and responsiveness to patients’ needs. The measures also include whether a patient would recommend the hospital to friends or family.

In order to be recognized by Healthgrades, hospitals must meet eligibility requirements for consideration, which in addition to number of survey responses, includes clinical performance thresholds. Nationally 2941 hospitals met those requirements with 443 hospitals outperforming their peers, based on their patients’ responses in order to achieve this distinction. Meadows Regional Medical Center’s performance places them among the top 5% in the nation.

“Patient experience and satisfaction metrics resonate with consumers as they evaluate hospitals and select where they want to receive care,” said Brad Bowman, Chief Medical Officer, Healthgrades.  “We commend those hospitals that have achieved the Healthgrades 2017 Outstanding Patient Experience Award for their commitment to delivering superior care experiences to patients during a hospital stay.”

November 6-- Governor Nathan Deal announced this week that beginning in January 2018, the state will expand the HOPE Career Grant to offer students greater career opportunities in five of Georgia’s fast-growing industries, increasing the total number of programs that qualify for this grant to 17.

The Governor made the announcement in conjunction with heralding Georgia’s 5th consecutive title as the best state for business by trade publication Site Selection.

“These additional fields are the result of polling of industries, talking to local businesses, and speaking with economic development organizations to better understand the jobs skills needs that are unfulfilled,” said Gov. Deal. “All five new programs, as well as the preceding ones that are currently in our offerings, meet that criteria. By adding these five additional fields, we are incorporating moving trends of the workforce to ensure Georgians are qualified to meet the obligations of the jobs available today and in the future.” 

Students who receive the HOPE Grant and who wish to study aviation maintenance, automotive technology, distribution-materials management, electrical line working or several construction-related programs will also qualify for free tuition provided by the HOPE Career Grant.

This grant already offers free tuition to students pursuing certificates or diplomas in 12 other high-demand fields: certified engineer assistant, commercial truck driving, computer programming, computer technology, diesel equipment technology, early childhood care and education, health science, industrial maintenance, movie production/set design, practical nursing, precision manufacturing, and welding and joining technology.

Majors in the construction field that will be covered by the grant, starting with the 2018 spring semester in January, include air conditioning technology, carpentry, construction management, electrical construction and maintenance, masonry and plumbing.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled about this additional opportunity to connect Georgia students with the state’s growing industries,” said Gretchen Corbin, Commissioner of the Technical College System of Georgia. “We so appreciate Governor Deal’s support of technical education’s role in workforce development and his consistent encouragement to explore ways in which we can expand our services to Georgia students and businesses.”

“The Georgia Student Finance Commission is proud to partner with the Governor’s Office and our eligible colleges around the state to offer these new categories for the HOPE Career Grant as one more way we can strive to offer a postsecondary education to every Georgian,” said Caylee Noggle, Interim President of the Georgia Student Finance Commission.

Industries covered by the HOPE Career Grant were identified by Governor Deal’s High-Demand Career Initiative as strategically important to the state’s economic growth. The grant is among the many forms of financial assistance available through the Georgia Student Finance Commission.

November 6-- Sheriff Doug Maybin announces that Deputy Justin Phillips has been selected as the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Employee of the Month.

Deputy Phillips began his law enforcement career in July of 2011 and joined the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office in July of 2013. He is a vital member of our team and we are thankful for his service to our community.

mocoemployeeSheriff Maybin presented Deputy Phillips with a $50 J&B’s gift card (courtesy of a Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office supporter).

November 6--  Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits reports the following arrests.

Rodriguez, Rodolfo- H/M- 34 YOA- 234 Otis Collins Rd. Lyons, GA- No Driver’s License/Disobedience to Authorized Persons Directing Traffic
McCall, Brandon Deon- B/M- 36 YOA- 800 NE Main St. Lot 11B Vidalia, GA- Cruelty to Animals (x5 State Warrant)

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Brandon Adams, Lyons, Warrant Served

Michael Holton, Vidalia, DUI, Speeding, Failure to Maintain Lane

Charles Hunnewell, Lyons, DUI, Driving While License Suspended, Tail Lights/Tag Lights, Possession of Drug Related Objects

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Rebecca Wolfe, Uvalda, Revoked Bond - Violated Bond Conditions

Daniel Morgan, Vidalia, Probation Violation, Battery

Stephen Stanford, Mount Vernon, DUI

Yeva Ducas, Cummings, DUI, Speeding

Justin Ivey, Waynesboro, Hold for Greenville, SC

Jackie McNeil, Lyons, Speeding, No Insurance, Registration and License Violation

Miranda Agustin, Lyons, Driving While Unlicensed

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

11/02 – Katelyn Elizabeth Helmick, Sylvania, Ga., Possession of Methamphetamine w/Intent

11/05 – Jesse Lee West, Mount Vernon, Ga., DUI, Excessive Music, Failure to Yield






November 6--  An Army Blackhawk helicopter flew overhead, Old Glory was flying and about a hundred people gathered at the Toombs County courthouse in Lyons for the first 9/11 Remembrance Walk organized by Toombs County Deputy Sheriff Elliott Coursey.

walkThe walk was also an opportunity to honor the memory of Toombs County Green Beret Staff Sergeant Dustin Wright killed last month in an ISIS ambush in Africa.  Lauren Stone was at the walk, "It's for a good cause and it's to remember someone very near and dear to our community and a bunch of other people we've lost along the way," she said.

Among military members walking was Marine Corps Sergeant Ivanna Davis, "I recently lost a couple of friends in the Marine Corps and for us to be able to be a part of this walk is another way for us to say thanks," she said.

November 3--  The City of Vidalia is seeking a contractor to repair six streets damaged by Hurricane Irma in September.

City Manager Nick Overstreet says a request for bids was sent out this past Monday to repair damage on Darby Circle, Rocky Creek Drive, Lewis Drive, Stella Avenue, Kissingbower Road and Clydette Boulevard. 

Companies have until November 13th to return bids and Overstreet says he hopes repair work can start before the end of November.

Airport Management

The city has changed the management structure at the Vidalia Regional Airport.

Airport manager Kevin Britton is no longer a city employee and has formed a company to manage the airport.  City manager Overstreet says the contract with Britton's Kilo-Bravo, LLC will save the city about $36,000 a year in pay and benefits to Britton.

November 3--  A Vidalia High School teacher resigned Friday after a parent complained she made a student kneel and beg to have her cellphone returned.

According to a social media post, the student's phone fell out of her pocket in the class of biology teacher Tiffany Strickland. When the student returned after school to reclaim the phone, the teacher told her to "Get down on her knees and beg for it."   The student's mother said this occurred in front of other students and shamed her daughter.

In a Facebook post, the teacher said she has done this in the past with other students and that it was intended to be '"lighthearted, not demeaning."  She claims this is the first complaint the school has received about her practice and advised other teachers to follow the school handbook when dealing with students.

Principal John Sharpe says the policy is for students not to use cellphones in class.  If they violate the rule, teachers may confiscate the phone and return it at the end of the school day.  Repeated violations can result in the student having to claim the phone after school in the principal's office.

Strickland has been teaching at Vidalia High School for the past seven years and said in her resignation letter it had always been her dream to teach at the school from which she graduated.  She thanked the school system for the opportunity to teach, said she loves the school and that her resignation is bittersweet.

November 1--  Last month a Lyons police officer was fired upon while working a second job as a security officer at a Lyons apartment complex.  Officer Timothy Sullivan was not hit, but a reward is being offered by Toombs-Montgomery CrimeStoppers to find the shooter.

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker says, "I've got an officer who's been shot at who was doing nothing but working an off-duty security detail trying to make some extra money to support his family.  It's gotten to the point they can't even sit in uniform in a marked patrol vehicle without their lives being in danger.  This is the first incident like this that's happened in Lyons since I've been here and I'm taking it very seriously.

"I've come to CrimeStoppers to ask for reward money to hopefully entice witnesses to come forward and tell us who the shooter is.  We're going to do everything we can under the law to hunt down, arrest and prosecute this person for doing this," he said.

Officer Sullivan said two or three shots were fired at him from a vacant lot near South 11th Street and East Grady Street the evening of Wednesday, October 18th after he observed a group of young black males who scattered and ran after seeing him.  One, however, took a shooting stance and fired at the officer.  He missed but bullet marks were found on the side of a nearby church.  He was seen wearing a pink or salmon colored sweatshirt and blue jeans.

Police have found a .22 caliber pistol which may be related to the incident and also found two stolen shotguns and a rifle in nearby woods.

Chief Walker believes the cast is gang related.

If you have any information, call CrimeStoppers at 912-386-4480.  You do not have to give your name and you can claim the reward if your information leads to an arrest.