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May 31--  A solicitor has been appointed to determine if misdemeanor charges will be filed against State Senator Blake Tillery of Vidalia.

Senator Tillery was involved in a traffic accident last Spring that killed bicyclist Mark Takaya on Highway 292 between Lyons and Vidalia. 

District Attorney Hayward Altman announced in December there is no evidence to support a felony prosecution and transferred the case to Toombs County State Court where both Judge Tommy J. Smith and Solicitor Justin Franklin recused themselves to avoid any perception of a conflict of interest.

Houston County Solicitor Amy Smith has been named to represent the state in the case and Treutlen County State Court Judge James Garner will hear the case if it is prosecuted.

May 31--  An Ailey woman is being charged in the traffic-related death of 52-year-old Henry Walker, Jr. of Higgston.

jesihardenAccording to the Montgomery County Sheriff's office accident report, Jesi Harden shared a residence with Walker at 1585 Old Dairy Road in Ailey.

On Wednesday, May 17 she came to the house in a pickup truck accompanied by Trey Squires of Uvalda.  The two got out of the truck on the driveway and were met by Walker armed with a gun. As they got back in the truck and fled, Walker jumped in the truck bed and pointed the gun through rear sliding window of the truck.  Harden told police she felt the revolver barrel on her temple and explained she took her eyes off the road and struck a tree on the side of Old Dairy Road.

After impact she hid the gun from Walker in the woods and Squires left the area. Walker walked to the house where he was later found in the bathroom by ambulance personnel and investigators.

He was transported to Meadows Regional Medical Center with injuries to his left side and back which investigators believe occurred when he was thrown against the rear of the cab.  He was transferred to a Macon hospital and died four days later.

Walker's relatives claimed he was the victim of an assault that took place in the house where Walker and Harden lived, however, the police report says authorities found no blood nor signs of an assault in the house.

Harden is being charged with second-degree Homicide by a Vehicle, failure to maintain lane and driving with an expired license.

May 31--  Last year the Toombs-Montgomery Emergency Medical Service answered more than 7,400 calls and logged more than 30,000 miles a month on the county's ambulances.
County Commissioner Wendell Dixon heads the county's Public Safety Committee and was among those attending an appreciation luncheon for the county's 24 Emergency Medical Technicians.
"I'll put up our people against anybody in the state of Georgia.  They do a great job and we've got some good people working for us.  One month they did 702 calls in one month in Toombs and Montgomery County.  That's a lot.  They put their lives on the line everyday just like police officers and firemen and they do a great job," Dixon said.
emt1 3
emt2 3
Dixon presented the "EMT of the Year" award to Mike Young  (left photo) and to Jon Braddy (right photo) who was named the "Paramedic of the Year."
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The first Howard Hill Distinguished Service Award was presented to Jeff Glaser whom EMT Lieutenant Laurie Holland (right) described as "brave, dedicated, willing and reliable."
"Howard has been one of us for so many years and he has meant so much to us.  It's hard to describe, it's just not the same anymore without Howard.  We all loved him. He was a brother, he was the best first responder and he was there for us," Glaser said.
Barbara Hill assisted with the presentation.
The EMT's paid tribute to the late Howard Hill who was nearing completion of the Advanced EMT course at Southeastern Tech at the time of his death.  Dr. Barry Dotson of the college presented an honorary diploma to his widow, Barbara.
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The EMT's also honored Director Drew James for his leadership. Lieutenants Ashley Williams (left) and Laurie Holland presented the award.
"I think the majority of us can back to earlier in life, whether it was an encounter with an EMT or a paramedic, which led us into this calling or profession.  They are definitely passionate people, they are loyal to it and definitely give a part of themselves to serve their fellow man.
"You are not going to receive any higher level of care than the EMS staff which serves Toombs and Montgomery counties.  They take great pride in what they do and it's a great honor to be able to serve with them," James said.

May 29--  A patriotic crowd at Southeastern Technical College in Vidalia attended the 2017 Memorial Day observance presented by the J. Barry Jones VFW and hosted by its Auxiliary.

mem2017Lieutenant Colonel Ian Lauer and Shirley Curl of the VFW Auxiliary.

A battalion commander from the 3d Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Lieutenant Colonel Ian Lauer, was the keynote speaker and says Memorial Day has special meaning for members of the Army, many of whom are combat veterans.

"It's a chance for us to reflect on our losses and those who have made the final sacrifice.  In recent years it's had a more personal meaning to many of us who've served in combat.  We've seen the price of freedom and it a more deep sense to us,  New generations are coming up and it's important for us to reflect with our soldiers on what this means and what we've asked them to do," he said.

 As for the soldiers he leads, "The soldiers who are coming in today recognize they'll be asked to deploy abroad multiple times and it's a very difficult, uncertain situation in the world.  They still volunteer to do it and I think it's amazing.  I tell them often how impressive that is and that they should take pride in that decision."

Members of the Auxiliary read the names of 82 local citizens who gave their lives in four wars.  Fifteen died in World War I, 48 were killed in World War II, seven died in Korea and 12 in Vietnam.


May 27--  Toombs County EMA Director Lynn Moore provides the following Hurricane Forecast from the National Weather Service.

For the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 through November 30, forecasters predict a 45 percent chance of an above-normal season, a 35 percent chance of a near-normal season, and only a 20 percent chance of a below-normal season.

"As a Florida resident, I am particularly proud of the important work NOAA does in weather forecasting and hurricane prediction," said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. "These forecasts are important for both public safety and business planning, and are a crucial function of the federal government."

Forecasters predict a 70 percent likelihood of 11 to 17 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 5 to 9 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 2 to 4 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher). An average season produces 12 named storms of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.

These numbers include Tropical Storm Arlene, a rare pre-season storm that formed over the eastern Atlantic in April.

“The outlook reflects our expectation of a weak or non-existent El Nino, near- or above-average sea-surface temperatures across the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, and average or weaker-than-average vertical wind shear in that same region,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

Strong El Ninos and wind shear typically suppress development of Atlantic hurricanes, so the prediction for weak conditions points to more hurricane activity this year. Also, warmer sea surface temperatures tend to fuel hurricanes as they move across the ocean. However, the climate models are showing considerable uncertainty, which is reflected in the comparable probabilities for an above-normal and near-normal season.

“NOAA’s broad range of expertise and resources support the nation with strong science and service before, during and after each storm to protect lives and property and enhance the national economy as we continue building a Weather-Ready Nation,” said Ben Friedman, acting NOAA administrator. “From our expert modelers to our dedicated forecasters and brave crews of our hurricane hunters, we’ll be here to warn the nation every step of the way this hurricane season.”

NOAA's 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook.
Dr. Gerry Bell discusses the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season.

NOAA brings exciting new observing, modeling, forecasting and communications tools to the table this year to improve our hurricane warning capabilities and aid public readiness:

  • Even before its final positioning, the sophisticated camera on NOAA’s new GOES-16 satellite will give our hurricane forecasters a sneak peek at its greater image resolution, sharp detail and rapid-refresh rate. One of the powerful instruments aboard GOES-16, the lightning mapper, will allow forecasters to see lightning strikes that build within tropical cyclones – a possible signal of strengthening.

  • The combination of two high-resolution hurricane models will improve forecast guidance for the National Hurricane Center this season. The upgraded Hurricane Weather Research Forecast model adds better representation of storms at higher vertical resolution, and has advanced data assimilation and improved physics. With these upgrades, the model can improve intensity forecasts by as much as 10 percent and track forecasts by as much as seven percent. NOAA’s Environmental Modeling Center also is replacing the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory Hurricane Model with a new hurricane model called HMON, for Hurricanes in a Multi-Scale Ocean-Coupled Non-Hydrostatic, which has superior track and intensity forecast skill.

  • NOAA’s National Hurricane Center is providing a suite of new forecast and communication tools this season. Forecasters there will issue Storm Surge Watches and Warnings operationally this year, in addition to issuing advisories, watches and warnings for disturbances that aren’t yet a tropical cyclone but still threaten land with tropical storm or hurricane conditions within 48 hours. The center added a new experimental visualization tool so the public can easily see when damaging winds are forecast to reach their community. Also, beginning this year, the public will be able to click on the hurricane track cone graphic and see how far outside of the cone hurricane and tropical-storm-force winds extend, which can be hundreds of miles.

"Regardless of how many storms develop this year, it only takes one to disrupt our lives," said Acting FEMA Administrator Robert J. Fenton, Jr. "Get ready now with these easy, low-cost steps that will leave you better prepared and will make all the difference: Have a family discussion about what you will do, where you will go and how you will communicate with each other when a storm threatens; Know your evacuation route; tune into your local news or download the FEMA app to get alerts, and finally – listen to local authorities as a storm approaches.”

The 2016 season was the most active since 2012, with 15 named storms, including 7 hurricanes and 4 major hurricanes.

NOAA will update this outlook in early August, just prior to the peak of the season.

May 26--  Coastal Plains Education Charter High School is opening five campuses this summer in South Georgia including one in Toombs County.  The other four are in Candler, Long, Lowndes and Wayne counties. These sites will join a Coastal Plains campus already operating in Glynn County.

Coastal Plains is a public charter high school with a statewide attendance zone, meaning any Georgia student age 14 to 20 may attend tuition free. Students who complete the necessary classwork then earn an accredited Georgia high school diploma.

Coastal Plains is a second-chance high school, designed to meet the needs of a variety of students. For some students, traditional high school classes are not a good fit. Some students have full-time jobs. Others must balance school with caring for a child. Still others gave up on school at some point, but now see the value of obtaining a high school diploma.

To help students succeed, Coastal Plains offers numerous advantages. The school uses a blended classroom. Here, a student works at his or her own pace on the computer with a certified teacher in the classroom at all times. The classrooms have a maximum 15:1 student-to-teacher ratio, which is much lower than a traditional classroom. The smaller classes allow more individual attention for each student. Another advantage is that attendance is flexible, allowing students to come to classes at a time that works for them. Classes are held Monday through Thursday, from 4-9 p.m., and run year-round, so students can enroll anytime throughout the year.

Not only does the Coastal Plains model allow students great flexibility, it provides each student with a tremendously strong support system. All students are paired with a mentor, a counselor, a graduation coach and, if needed, a tutor. These professionals help ensure that each student stays on track and has all the support needed to finish school and obtain a high school diploma.

Coastal Plains Education Charter High School campuses are designed not to compete with local schools, but rather to complement them.

School boards in Vidalia, Toombs County, Treutlen County and Montgomery County have entered into a partnership with the school and the superintendents of each of the school systems serve on the Coastal Plains governance board.

The Toombs County school will be located in the Southeastern Early College and Career Academy behind the Southeastern Tech campus in Vidalia.

In Glynn County, where a Coastal Plains site opened in January of this year, educators are already seeing the benefit of offering a second-chance high school to area students.

“Our school is a place of opportunity and hope for students who need another chance or a different environment,” said Mark Warren, co-director of the Coastal Plains’ Glynn site. “We provide the opportunity and the student provides the willingness and effort. It is truly a joy to watch students succeed and be rewarded for their efforts.​”

For more information on Coastal Plains Education Charter High School, contact Kim Alexander, Site Director, (912) 326-1228; or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Denis Watkins, Site Director, (912) 293-0625; email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Ricky Rentz, executive director, by phone (912)399-0985 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; or visit the Coastal Plains website:

Save on Advance Tickets for The Temptations Review Concert on Sat. June 10th

Advance tickets for The Temptations Review featuring Dennis Edwards are on sale at the Vidalia Onion Museum/Vidalia Convention & Visitors Bureau office and at City Hall in the Downtown Vidalia Association Main Street Office.

To purchase tickets online go to:

Advance General Admission tickets are $10 each. Advance Reserve tickets are $15 each and include seating on the grassy area adjacent to the stage. A limited number of parking passes are available to Advance Reserve ticket purchasers for $5.

Ticket prices at the gate will be $20 for Reserve (if available) and $15 for General Admission.

Gates will open on Saturday, June 10th at the Stage at City Park at 6:00 pm. Music will start at 7:30 pm. 

May 26--  The Auxilians at Meadows Regional Medical Center presented a $100,000 check to the Tommy and Shirley Strickland Cancer Center. This donation represents the final third of their five-year $300,000 pledge to the center.


“Our auxilians are among our greatest advocates and marketers in our community,” said Meadows Regional Medical Center President and CEO, Alan Kent. “Daily they help make this much more of the hospital, cancer center, and health care system that we aspire to be!”

The Meadows Regional Medical Center Auxiliary was established in 1968, and to date has donated over $1.1 million to the hospital in support of programs, technology and expansion. Over the years members have contributed a total of 457,393 service hours around the hospital including the front desk, gift shop, surgery waiting, family waiting, radiology, and the cancer center. The group is currently comprised of 100 members who contribute 20,500 hours of service annually.

For more information about the Meadows Auxiliary, please call Hillary Tapley, Assistant Director of Volunteer Services, at 912-277-2170.

May 26--  The Class of 2017 at Montgomery County High School graduates Friday night and its two top students have a lot in common.  Both already have college classes under their belts and both plan careers in medicine.

mchsval17The Valedictorian is Jacey Thomas and says, "I'm so honored to be the Valedictorian in the Class of 2017.  I've worked since elementary school to get to this point and my grades have always been my number one priority."

Because she's been taking college classes at Brewton Parker, Jacey will be a sophomore when she starts classes at Georgia Southern in pre-Med, "I want to become a family doctor because I was hospitalized and I want to help other people like they were able to help me.  I want to use my Spanish degree to help people who aren't bilingual and one day I want to go overseas and do mission work and offer my services to people who need it," she says.

mchssal17Harley Stanfield is the Eagle Salutatorian even though she's spent her senior year in college classes, "I actually started in my sophomore year going to Southeastern Early College and Career Academy, then to Southeastern Tech and later I transferred to East Georgia.  In my senior year I haven't stepped foot into a high school classroom and that's been challenging facing nothing but college classes, but it's been a blessing because most of my college has been paid for and I'm only 14 hours short of my Associate's Degree."

After getting her degree in nursing at Georgia Southern, Harley hopes to come home, "I plan on getting a job at Meadows Regional Health Center and that will be a big deal for me.  I'm trying to give back to the community as much as I can."

pettrioMay 25--  These three four-month olds are looking for a forever home! 

They are German Short Hair Pointer/Lab mix and are playful, friendly and perfect if you want a pup to call your own. 

For info, call April Braddy at the Vidalia Animal Shelter on Airport Road, 537-8866. 

The adoption fee on all animals for the remainder of May has been reduced from $40 to $20 till the end of May.

(Courtesy Vidalia Veterinary Clinic)

May 25--  Toombs County EMA Director Lynn Moore reports a tornado touched down in Vidalia Wednesday night just before midnight.  There were no injuries.

According to the National Weather Service, the tornado was classified as Low End which indicates winds from 86 to 110 miles per hour as it moved through the area at 60 miles per hour.

He says an eyewitness saw the twister on the ground as it took down trees, damaged buildings and disrupted power starting in the Maple Drive area and moving across Highways 280 and 292.

tormotelRoofing on the motel behind Shoney's was blown away.





torpecanBig pecan trees in the Garbutt orchard on Highway 292 were downed.

tortaltonDebris in the area near the dental office of Dr. John Talton on Maple Drive.




torartscraftsTrees crushed a fence at the Arts and Crafts Show Grounds on Airport Road near the Vidalia Community Center.






toronioninnDebris near the Onion Inn on Highway 280.




torgapwrGeorgia Power Crews Thursday morning restoring power disrupted by downed power lines behind Meadows Regional Medical Center.


May 25-- The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) announced today that the unemployment rate in the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha region in April was 5.9 percent, unchanged from March. In April 2016, the rate was 6.3 percent.

While the rate was unchanged, more people became employed and the labor force grew. 

There were 153 more residents in the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha area employed in April than in March, pushing the total number to 110,243. There were 2,043 more people employed in April than in April 2016.

The labor force, which consists of employed residents and those who are unemployed and actively looking for jobs, grew by 129 to 117,117. That total represents an increase of 1,591 over the past 12 months.

The number of initial claims for unemployment insurance, a measure of new layoffs, rose by 424, or 61 percent, to 1,119. Most of the increase came in manufacturing and wholesale trade. Over the year, however, claims were down by 148, or 11.7 percent, from 1,267 in April 2016.

Metro Gainesville had the lowest area jobless rate at 3.9 percent, while the Heart of Georgia and River Valley regions had the highest at 5.9 percent.

Meanwhile, Georgia’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for April was 5 percent, down from 5.1 percent in March. It was 5.4 percent in April 2016.

Job seekers and employers are encouraged to use GDOL’s online job listing service to search for jobs or recruit new employees. In April, 819 new job openings in the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha region were posted on Employ Georgia. Throughout the state, 75,183 new job openings were posted.

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

May 25--  Construction of the new Vidalia High School is ahead of schedule according to Tony Wright of TQ Constructors, the company in charge of the project, "Right now we're about two months ahead of schedule because of hard work and good weather," he says.


Wright brought Vidalia Rotarians up to speed on the project Wednesday and reminded them of the economic impact it has on the area's economy, "There's a lot of money that goes into these schools and a lot of money goes back into the local economy.  In Vidalia you're looking at something in the $5 million range going back into the economy through primary contracts and that doesn't account for the food, gas and lodging of the workers who come and work on this project."

Wright says input from teachers and staff at the high school in the planning stages two years ago is now paying off.

"It's very important because you get everything in place like you want it in the very beginning and you don't have teachers coming in during the project saying 'This won't work for me and change it.'  That costs money and it costs time and Vidalia City Schools did a very good job of doing this," he said.

In addition to state-of-the-art facilities, Wright says the school system should be able to save money on its energy bills, "You should see a significant energy savings in this school.  We're doing spray foam insulation on the outside of the school which totally encapsulates the building, we have an energy recovery system on the air conditioning which is really highly efficient and we have LED lights throughout the whole school so a lot of thought has gone into energy savings," he said.

At 175,000 square feet, School Superintendent Dr. Garrett Wilcox says the new school is about 40,000 square feet larger that the current high school and is anchored by a 600-seat auditorium and a new gymnasium.

The price tag is $27.5 million with the state kicking in about $9 million and the balance financed by 20-year bonds to be repaid using sales tax revenue, according to the Superintendent.

Construction should be completed by April of next year.


May 24--  Nine area citizens have graduated from a training course conducted by the Georgia Academy for Economic Development designed to give them an understanding of economic development on the local, regional and state levels.


(L-R) Ryan Waldrep with the Georgia Department of Economic Development, graduates Eddie Toole, George McLendon, Jake Cleghorn, Mandy Britt, Kris Stovall and Araina Reaves with the Georgia Electric Membership Cooperatives.  Not pictured are graduates Harry Moses, Doug Roper and David Sikes.

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(L-R) Ryan Waldrep, Chad Kenney and Araina Reaves. (L-R) Lance Hooks, Candice Tucker and John Koon.

“One of the goals for the multi-day regional Academies is to encourage multi-county cooperation,” says Corinne Thornton, Director of the Georgia Academy for Economic Development. “Many times the participants discover the issues facing their community are the same as those facing other communities in their region, and can then combine limited resources to address the issue.”

The Academy’s multi-day program, taught one day a month over a four-month period, includes training in the basics of economic and community development, plus specialized segments on business recruitment and retention, tourism product development, downtown development, planning, and other essentials for community success. In addition, the curriculum features specific leadership skills such as consensus building, ethics in public service, collaborative leadership and other segments needed for effective community leadership in economic development.

 The next Region 9 Georgia Academy for Economic Development will begin in February 2018. For more information on this, please contact Lynn Ashcraft, Region 9 Representative at (478) 484-0321 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ..

May 17--  The Vidalia High School Class of 2017 graduated Friday night and the top students in the class are Valedictorian Jessie Morris and Salutatorian Staci Wood.

vhsval17Jessie (right) is going to the University of Georgia to study pharmacy and takes with her great memories of Vidalia High School, "It's meant everything and I truly understand what Indian Pride is.  I was a member of the softball team and I love those girls so much.  We really endured a lot and I love this school," she said.

Staci believes Vidalia High School has prepared her for college and says, "I think it has prepared me a lot for what I'm going into since we offer so many Advanced Placement and Honors classes and that helped me get prepared for Georgia Tech where I'm going to major in Physics and minor in Astrophysics, then I plan to go to Dartmouth and major in Astrophysics."  Her goal is to work for the National Aeronautical and Space Administration.

May 23--  Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits reports the following arrests:

Moore, Demarco Shane- B/M-22 YOA- 524 29 St. Apt. C Des Moines, IA- Theft by Shoplifting(Felony)

Douberly, Heather Sheleigh- W/F-37 YOA-3770 Hwy 221 S. Mount Vernon, Ga- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense

Byrd, Don Marquise- B/M- 30 YOA- 603 White St. Vidalia, Ga-Indecent Exposure/Bench Warrant Toombs County

Mills, Kaynisha Antoinette-B/F-32 YOA- 206 Sixth Ave. Glenwood, Ga-Warrant Served (Felony Probation)

Tillery, Aldarreis Emmanuell - B/M 17 YOA/ 711 West St. Vidalia, Ga. / Battery

McNeal, Alan Michael L-B/M- 26 YOA- 616 Church Dr Glennville GA, 30427- Battery  

Bond, Zachary Christopher- W/M- 17 YOA- 708 Bostwick Dr Vidalia, GA- Racing Highway Or Streets

Harper, Janice Marie- W/F-54 YOA- 312 Jerriel St Apt 2 Vidalia, GA- No Drivers License/ DUI 1st offense

Gibbons, Nathaniel Jonathan - B/M 22 YOA/ 1406 Aimwell Rd. Vidalia, Ga. / Possession of Marijuana Less Than Ounce

Tomberlin, Barbara Leigh- W/F- 33 YOA- 745 Griffin Ln. Dublin, GA- Theft by Shoplifting (Felony) (Probation Warrant Served- Dublin, GA)

Townsend, Demarcus Antonio- B/M- 19 YOA- 19565 US Highway 17 Townsend, GA- Possession of Marijuana LessThan Ounce

Salem, Curtis Lamar- B/M- 19 YOA- 2620 Cadillac Dr. Vidalia, GA- Possession of Marijuana Less than Ounce

McLendon, Ja’darius D. S. – B/M- 19 YOA- 314 Jenkins St. Vidalia, GA- Possession of Marijuana Less than Ounce

Moore, Randell Lashawn- B/M- 20 YOA- 404 E. Sixth St. Vidalia, GA-Possession of Marijuana Less than Ounce

Daniel, Malik Ramon- B/M- 19 YOA- 903 Brantley Rd. Vidalia, GA- Possession of Marijuana Less than Ounce

Jones, Delwyn Lavelle - B/M 51 YOA/ 701 E. Seventh St. Vidalia, Ga. / Parole Warrant

Williams, Brandy Elizabeth - W/F 28 YOA/ 3204 Lyons Center Rd Lot D Lyons, Ga. / Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense (Citation) (MISD)

Beecher, Harvey Vincent- W/M- 18 YOA- 1011 Dead River Rd. Uvalda, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense (Citation)(MISD)

Bostic, Fondanius O’Brian- B/M- 21 YOA- 605 Orange St. Vidalia, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense (Citation)(MISD)

May 24-- The Bay Street sports complex owned by the city of Vidalia is being sold to Vidalia Heritage Academy.

The property was put up for sale and Vidalia Heritage submitted the lone bid of $100,000 for 9.6 acres bounded by 3rd Street on the North, 5th Street on the South, Bay Street on the West and the city drainage canal on the East.

The school is leasing the city pool back to the city this summer after which it will be demolished, according to City Manager Nick Overstreet, who says the city's new pool on Airport Road will be ready for use next year.

VHA Headmaster Jeff McCormick says, "What we're looking at doing now is to go in there and renovate the football stadium.  Eventually, the pool will be demolished and we're hoping to build a new baseball field there at the Bay Street Complex.

"We're very excited about having our own complex there where we can do baseball, football and cross country and perhaps build new tennis courts there sometime in the near future."

McCormick says the school, in keeping with its own name, plans to likewise maintain the heritage of the football field.

"We wanted to keep the name of Charles Wood Field for the football field there.  We reached out to the Wood family and they were elated that we wanted to keep that name and we're going to continue to call that the Charles Wood Field.

"Our first varsity football game will be there August 25th with Appling Christian Academy and we'll have varsity football returning to Charles Wood Field," he said.

The headmaster estimates the school will spend another $100,000 to make improvements to the property, something Nick Overstreet says will be "good for the neighborhood."


May 23-- stcgrad17Southeastern Technical College graduated its 2017 class with two ceremonies held in Vidalia and Swainsboro.

As over 600 graduates waited in anticipation, President Larry Calhoun encouraged the students of both campuses to continue to learn and to find their happiness in life.

“This is the beginning of the next phases of your life,” stated Calhoun. “So find your passion, love those around you, and believe you have a higher purpose. With that, you will find your happiness.”

The Vidalia address was given by guest speaker, Dr. Alan Kent, president and CEO of Meadows Regional Medical Center who received his doctorate in Health Administration last week from the University of South Carolina.

Using the theories of inertia and momentum, he encouraged the student to never stop moving. “The path to success is found in motion,” stated Dr. Kent.

He then continued by telling the students to have vision and plan for what is to come. “Look forward and not backwards. You must use your past to plan your future,” said Dr. Kent. He also encouraged them to give abundantly and to unplug from the many distractions in their lives.

He finished by imploring the students to continue learning. “Be a lifelong learner,” stated Dr. Kent. “You will never regret the time you spent gaining knowledge.”

On the Swainsboro campus, Dr. Sylvia Rozier, Director of Nursing RN to BSN Bridge at East Georgia State College, addressed the student body. Dr. Rozier used lessons learned from her early childhood to encourage students to set goals despite their visible challenges and to prepare them for their future career endeavors.

“I don’t care what goal you set, you can do it,” stated Dr. Rozier. “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish and I am proud of you for finishing what you started.”

Other speakers included Reverend Jimmy Dupree, Vice Chairman of STC’s Board of Directors, Brain Tootle, Vidalia President of STC’s Student Government Association, Michael Harden, Swainsboro President of STC’s Student Government Association, Lester Allen, Dr. K. E. McNeal of Johnson Chapel Church, and Vice President of Student Affairs, Dr. Barry Dotson.

abbygreenMay 23--  Abby Green, a senior at West Laurens High School, is the 2017 recipient of the Courtney Wilkes Scholarship.

The $1,000 annual scholarship was established by the Vidalia Onion Business Council following the death of Courtney, a student at Toombs County High School, while she vacationed with her family in Florida.

The scholarship is available to graduating high school seniors in the Vidalia Onion region who plan to pursue a career in agriculture or veterinary medicine.

Abby will attend Abraham Baldwin College and major in Agriculture Education.


May 23--  A class action suit initiated against Montgomery County nearly three-and-a-half years ago is being dropped.

Clerk of Court Keith Hamilton brought the suit to force the County Commission to refund proceeds from the Insurance Premium Tax to property owners in the unincorporated parts of the county.

"I learned one thing and that's suits never end up the way they start out.  They evolve over time and it's not necessarily the way you want it to end up, but it was not without merit.  I think we discovered and come to consent with the county government on things they were and were not doing in regard to record keeping and so forth, so I'm proud we did it," he said.

The Georgia Supreme Court has upheld a Georgia Court of Appeals opinion which ruled against the lawsuit with the caveat that the county must show it operated convenience centers for trash collection for the primary benefit of citizens in unincorporated parts of the county.

"Recently about 4,000 documents were delivered to my attorney from the county and they were mainly weight tickets from the landfill.  That indicated that in 2009 there were about 900 tons collected out in the county from the convenience centers whereas, at the same time, there were about 1,300 tons collected in the cities of Mount Vernon, Uvalda and Ailey which I believe represents about 38% of the population, the county representing about 60% of the population.  So, in light of those figures, we decided it would not be worthwhile to pursue and cost the county the expense of a jury trial and so forth," he noted.

Hamilton's attorney, Tom Peterson IV of Vidalia, has notified the court they are seeking voluntary dismissal of the suit and intend to publish a newspaper ad notifying all members of the class action suit of the decision.


May 22--  Cynthia Winge, Kiosk Attendant at Meadows Regional Medical Center, has been awarded the hospital’s "Meadows Moment Award."

cindywinge(L-R)  Meadows Regional Medical Center President & CEO Alan Kent; Meadow Regional Medical Center Kiosk Attendant Cynthia Winge; Meadow Regional Medical Center Dietary Director Terry Hall.

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.

“I am so fortunate to have a family team member like Cynthia,” said Terry Hall, Meadows Dietary Director. “Every morning when I make my rounds and stop at the coffee kiosk, Cynthia is always cheerful with a smile on her face.”

“Cynthia is such a great friend to all of us at Meadows, and to all who pass by the coffee kiosk every day,” said Meadows President & CEO Alan Kent. “She makes our lives better and brighter!”

Winge has been employed with Meadows for four years and currently resides in Baxley.

May 22-- Sheriff Doug Maybin announced that Investigator Justin Fountain has been selected as the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Employee of the Month.

Investigator Fountain began his career with the Sheriff’s Office in February 2013 and was promoted to Investigator in June of that same year. He holds certifications in Criminal, Narcotic and Crime Scene investigations.

maybinjustinSheriff Maybin presented Investigator Fountain with a $50 gift card (courtesy of a Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office supporter).


May 22--  Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

05/15     Vickie Evelyn Sanders                        Vidalia, Ga.                           Criminal Trespass, Simple Battery (FVA)

05/17     Demario Rashawn Roundtree          Vidalia, Ga.                           Probation Violation

05/17     Antwon Lamar Jones, Jr.                   Tarrytown, Ga.                     Diving w/Suspended License

05/19     Stuart Malone Reynolds                    Vidalia, Ga.                           Aggravated Assault, Possession of Methamphetamine

May 22--  Starting next school term, the school nurse in the Montgomery County school system will have instant access to a physician via the Internet.

Registered Nurse Brandy Goff says, "Like if a student reports to the clinic with a fever or sore throat, I could actually connect with a laptop and allow the physician to visualize the throat and I could allow the physician to listen to heart and lung sounds. They can examine skin for abnormalities and for ear aches they can examine the ear drum, so there are lots of things which can be evaluated here at school."

Nurse Goff says the tele-medicine doctors are available around the clock, "They have doctors available 24/7 so we can see the child that day and not have to wait.  We can log on and do the visit.  The child would be examined and we could write a prescription for whatever is needed and the parent could go to the pharmacy that day after school and it will be there waiting for them.

"A lot of times when we have a child that comes to the clinic and you know the symptoms, it allows me to connect to the professionals and we can get what we need for the child.

"I hope the parents are as excited as I am about this.  Parents will benefit with this because it will be less time off work and I think all the way around it will be a huge impact in a positive way for the school system," she says.

The Montgomery County school board approved participation in the program at its May board meeting.



Accident 5 18 17May 20--  According to Sheriff Alvie (Junior) Kight, on May 18, 2017, at approximately 1:28 P.M., Toombs County Deputies responded to a call at US Highway 1 South/Aimwell Ext. Road, involving a semi truck and a pickup. 

When deputies arrived on the scene the pickup was in the south bound ditch and the semi was in the north bound ditch.  Toombs EMA, EMS and the Fire Department arrived on the scene shortly. The occupants of the pickup were Russell Gavin Schnelle, forty-two-year old male of Vidalia and his two juvenile sons. All three were air lifted to Savannah.  The semi driver Charles E. Martin fifty-five-year old male of Albany, Georgia, was not injured.

It appeared the pickup pulled from the west side of US 1 into the Semi’s path and Mr. Martin attempted to miss the pickup but hit the passenger’s side which caused the pickup to rest in the south bound ditch. The semi came to rest in the northbound ditch.

The Toombs County Sheriff’s Office and the Georgia State Patrol are in charge of the investigation.

THS 2017 Val Sal 2Salutatorian Tyler Summeral (left) and Valedictorian Seth LoveMay 19--  The top graduates from the 2017 graduating class at Treutlen High School stand out on the playing field as well as in the classroom as both are multi-sport student athletes. 

Valedictorian Seth Love says it takes a lot of time to excel at both.  “It feels pretty good.  I worked hard to get to where I am now.  I had to go through some hard classes.  It definitely takes more time out of your schedule.  You don’t have as much free time to do some of the other things you would like to do other than sports.”

Seth added, “Work hard and study hard.  I didn’t do as good of a job as I should have and it definitely might get me in college.  Just study hard and do your best.  I am going to East Georgia College and get my Biology degree then go on to med school and be a pediatrician.”

Salutatorian Tyler Summeral says that even though he and Seth were teammates on the field, a friendly competition in the classroom helped to push them both to do their best.  “I gave him trouble for four straight years.  Not academically, but just telling him that I’m going to get him.  I think he finally left me in the dust at the end.”

Summeral added how the work ethic required to succeed in sports helped in the classroom.  “I honestly don’t know if I would be number two in my class if I didn’t play sports.  It has instilled a work ethic in me that I don’t think I would have without sports.  I’d like to thank all my coaches that push you on the field.  They also make you work harder in the classroom.  That’s one of the requirements if you’re going to be a Treutlen Viking.” 

“I’d like to give all the glory to God.  I know that sounds a little cliché but he has blessed me more than I could ever tell anyone in an interview.  I’d also like to thank Mr. Robbie Byrd for all the time he has put in with me, hours and hours like I’ve been his son.  That’s what he’s treated me like and I’d like to thank that man publically for what he’s done for me,” Summeral added.

Tyler has big plans for the future.  “I want to go to Statesboro and get a degree and become a lawyer one day and maybe be a politician if it all works out.”

VHA 2017 Val SalSalutatorian Christian Calloway (left) and Valedictorian Brayden PriceMay 19--  The second graduating class from Vidalia Heritage Academy has named their top graduates for 2017 and these two young men have very bright futures.

Valedictorian Brayden Price is honored to take the top prize.  “It’s an honor, especially being a part of just the second graduating class from this school.  I started striving for this in sixth or seventh grade when I started noticing year after year I was getting the highest GPA award.  I thought then that Valedictorian was something that was feasible,” said Price.

Some of subjects come easier than others to him.  “Some subjects like History and Literature come naturally to me while others like Math I had to do a little more grinding to get.  My parents have always been a huge supporter of me in everything.  They never let me settle.  They never let me think that something was good enough.  They always wanted me to excel.”

Price added, “I plan to go to UGA this fall and hopefully after graduating with a degree in History, I want to pursue a law degree.”

Salutatorian Christian Calloway said friendly competition helps to motivate everyone.  “It’s an honor and a major accomplishment for me as it’s always been close with all of our classmates.  It’s always been a friendly competition amongst all of our classmates to see who could come out on top,” said Calloway.

“Just keep persevering.  For a while I was back and forth between second and third but just keep trying and eventually you’ll get there.  I’m going up to August University and pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Radiological Sciences,” added Calloway.

May 19--  The top two students in the Class of 2017 at Robert Toombs Christian Academy are Valedictorian Hope Denmark and Salutatorian Josilynn Dasher.

hopevalDenmark was also a standout RTCA athlete and hopes to build on that in the future.

"I hope to go to Armstrong in Savannah and get a degree in physical therapy.  I wanted to stay close to sports and stay involved with people and kids as much as I can.  I've always had injuries so I know more than I should know, but I've always wanted to go for a degree in physical therapy," she said.

She also credits RTCA for much of her success and says, "It's brought very close friendships with my friends, coaches and teachers and I'm very thankful I went there."

josilynnSalutatorian Josilynn Dasher has spent lots of class time the past two years in dual enrollment classes at East Georgia State College in Swainsboro and Southeastern Technical College.

"Going into the college atmosphere has really pushed me hard and this is one of the goals I set years ago," she said.

Her dual enrollment work has already earned her two years of college credits and she's planning on another year at East Georgia before transferring to the University of Georgia where she's planning on a marketing degree from the business school.

Honor's Day at RTCA

Robert Toombs Christian Academy held its annual Honors Day, Tuesday, May 9, at the RTCA gym. This year’s valedictorian is Hope Denmark and salutatorian is Josilynn Dasher.  After graduation, Hope plans on attending Armstrong State University to pursue a degree in Sports Management or Exercise Science as a preliminary to obtaining a doctorate in Physical Therapy. Josilynn plans on attending East Georgia College State College for one year then pursuing a degree in Marketing at the University of Georgia. Honor graduates from the class of 2017 are Hope Denmark, Josilynn Dasher, Bradley Williamson, John Kight, Jared Durden and Baylee Mixon.

Various scholarships were awarded to RTCA seniors. The Bridgett Green Memorial Scholarship and the Ned Shuman Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Senior Jesse Stephens. Senior Jesse Standard received the Stewart Family Scholarship and the Mercer University Scholarship. Senior Hope Denmark received the Coca-Cola Scholarship. The Scott Meehan Scholarship was awarded to Senior Jessie Ford.

Senior Beta Club members were corded by advisor Mr. Frank Champion. The Beta members are: Jesse Standard, Bradley Williamson, Hope Denmark and Jared Durden. The National Honor Society received their gold cords from Mrs. Ann Smith, advisor for the National Honor Society. Seniors Becca Keating, Madi Adams, Jesse Stephens and Toby Upshaw received Community Service Recognition. RTCA takes pride in helping our community, and these students did an excellent job. RTCA provides Move On When Ready courses for eligible students that wish to take college level coursework for credit towards both high school and college graduation requirements. Move On When Ready students are: Josilynn Dasher, Drew Carroll, Jarrett Jackson, John Kight, Maegan Sager, Jesse Stephens, Denton Tapley, Kailee Williamson and Rebecca Keating.

This year’s Honor Roll students included Freshmen MiKayla Manning, Samantha Threlkeld, J. J. Jones, Grayson Osborne, Madison Moncus, Sophomore Hannah Keene, Juniors Andi Brinson, Hannah Coursey, Wil Duvall, Cassi Heath, Anna McComas, Evan Venable, Seniors Jared Druden and Jesse Standard. Students who made Headmaster’s List were Freshmen Hunter Brotman, Landon Botelho, Riley Corner, TJ Jackson, Fernando Zayas, Sophomores Cody Masterman-Smith, Sarah Tuck, Juniors Emily Hutcheson, Kate Sullivan, Seniors Hope Denmark and Bradley Williamson. Sophomore Travis Williams was awarded Excellent Attendance.

Teachers awarded students with Subject Awards in English, Math, Science, Social Sciences, Bible, Art, Spanish and Computer Apps. English awards were given to Freshmen Fernando Zayas, Carson Burton, Sophomores Cody Masterman-Smith, Kara Sanders, Juniors Wil Duvall, Sterling Damron, Seniors John Kight and Jesse Standard. Math awards were accepted by Freshmen Samantha Threlkeld, Fernando Zayas, Sophomores Makenzie Harper, Cody Masterman-Smith, Sarah Tuck, Junior Ansley Spivey, Seniors Jesse Standard, Jesse Stephens and Abby Vaughn. Science awards were given to Freshmen Landon Botelho, Sophomores Makenzie Harper, Sarah Tuck, Juniors Sterling Damron, Emily Hutcheson, Dylan Mulling, Francie Stanley, Seniors Hope Denmark and Jared Durden. History awards were accepted by Sophomores Cody Masterman-Smith, Shelby Thomas, Juniors Sterling Damron, Wil Duvall, Emily Hutcheson, Seniors Hope Denmark and Bradley Williamson. Junior Ansley Spivey was awarded the Art subject award. The Spanish awards were given to Sophomores Cody Masterman-Smith, Kara Sanders, Sarah Tuck, Juniors Sterling Damron and Emily Hutcheson. The Computer Apps subject awards were given to Freshmen Carson Burton and Fernando Zayas.

Overall Academic Average Awards were given to students to high school students who received the highest and second highest overall overages. Freshmen, Fernando Zaya received highest overall and Tanner Jackson received second highest. Sarah Tuck and Cody Masterman-Smith received highest and second highest for the Sophomore class. For the Junior class, Emily Hutcheson received highest overall average and Evan Venable received second highest overall average.  Hope Denmark and Abby Vaughn received the highest and second highest overall average for the Senior class.

findley17The Upper School Teacher of the Year is Mrs. Findley. She is a veteran teacher of over 30 years and has a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Science for Teachers. She is also a Georgia Humanities Council Georgia Scholar. In her first year at RTCA, has motivated students and engaged them in the newly formed Student Government Association and had her students participate in National History Day.

Emily Hutcheson, Wil Duvall, Hannah Coursey and Kate Sullivan were recognized as Junior Marshalls. Senior Class Honor Graduates include Hope Denmark, Josilynn Dasher, Bradley Williamson, John Kight, Jared Durden and Bailey Mixon.

May 18-- The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) announced today that the state’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate decreased to 5 percent in April, down one-tenth of a percentage point from 5.1 percent in March. In April 2016, the unemployment rate was 5.4 percent.

“Our rate declined in April as we saw more people become employed, the labor force continued to grow and our employers reduced the number of new layoffs,” said State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler.  “New claims for unemployment insurance, a measure of new layoffs, dropped to the lowest level we’ve seen in nearly 19 years.”

There were 15,179 more Georgians employed in April than in March, pushing the total number to another record of 4,778,503. There were 156,700 more people employed in April than a year ago in April 2016.

Meanwhile, the labor force, which consists of employed residents and those who are unemployed and actively looking for jobs, grew by 10,545 to 5,031,142. That total represents an increase of 145,983 over the past 12 months.

The number of initial claims for unemployment insurance declined by 3,386, or 13.5 percent, to 21,633, its lowest point since May 1998. Most of the decrease came in manufacturing and administrative and support services. Over the year, claims were down by 4,712, or 17.9 percent, from 26,345 in April 2016, with manufacturing and administrative and support services again contributing to the decline.      

Even as there were more employed Georgians, the state lost 2,800 jobs in April, dropping to a total of 4,466,700. Job losses came in construction, 3,000; trade, transportation and warehousing, 2,600; leisure and hospitality, 2,400; professional and business services, 1,200; and education and health services, 600. The job losses were offset somewhat by gains in manufacturing, 2,200; information services, 1,800; other services, including repair and maintenance, 1,600; and government, 1,300.

“Georgia continues to be a national leader in over-the-year job growth, as our employers added 113,600 jobs since April of last year,” Butler continued. “That represents a growth rate of 2.6 percent, which is a full percentage point higher than the national rate of 1.6 percent.  And, we saw growth in every job sector.”

Job gains included: professional and business services, 28,900; leisure and hospitality, 19,500; trade, transportation and warehousing, 17,000; education and health services, 14,900; financial activities, 9,900; government, 9,100; construction, 6,600; information services, 3,800; manufacturing, 2,400; and other services, 700.   

May 17-- On Tuesday Toombs County Schools honored their system retirees for the 2016-2017 school year with a county-wide breakfast.

tcteacherretirees17These teachers have given their best to Toombs County! there hard work and dedication to our students is greatly appreciated.

(L-R)  Mr. J. B. Cone, Toombs County High School; Mrs.Dana Faircloth, Lyons Primary School; Mrs. Kay Summerset, Lyons Upper Elementary School and Mrs. Elaine Allen. Toombs County Middle School.

May God bless each retiree as they begin a new chapter of their lives.

May 17--  What was the Vidalia Cancer Center on the campus of Meadows Regional Medical Center in Vidalia is now the Tommy and Shirley Strickland Cancer Center.

stricklandribbonRibbon-cutting for the $5 million expansion was held Wednesday for the project which quadruples the size of the center and puts both radiation therapy and chemotherapy under one roof.

Meadows CEO Alan Kent says, "The technology is like the building, it's a facilitator, it helps us do the job.  What's most important in this organization is what's most important to this community and that's its people.  We are blessed to have some of the finest physicians, technologists and support staff and that's what makes this cancer center a destination location for healthcare throughout our region.

"I want to give special attention as we honor Mr. Tommy and Mrs. Shirley Strickland for whom our beautiful center here is named for their generosity in helping bring this to fruition.  This community can never thank you enough."

The Stricklands moved to Vidalia from Claxton eight years ago and he sees the center as a memorial to his parents, "My mother and father both died of cancer and when they started talking about this, that was on my mind for a long time.  I'm proud I could do it.  I hope it touches a lot of lives.  I just can't imagine it being here in this little town," he said.



May 17--  Former Toombs County Tax Commissioner Julie Ann Newsome has entered a guilty plea to theft by taking and for violating her oath of office.

julienewsomeA Toombs County grand jury indicted Newsome for stealing more than $91,000 from the county tax office after an audit revealed the missing money starting in late 2011 and continuing during 2012.

Judge Robert Reeves ordered Newsome to repay the missing money, serve up to six months in a probation detention center and 15 years probatioin.


May 17--  Vidalia School Superintendent Dr. Garrett Wilcox reports shuttle buses will be running Friday to help alleviate a parking shortage at Vidalia High School due to new construction work.

"In an effort to accommodate all those attending Vidalia High School's 2017 Graduation on Friday, May 19, the Vidalia City Board of Education will be providing a shuttle service to assist with parking.  Due to construction of the new Vidalia High School, parking is limited around the current school.

"Shuttle service will be available at two locations:  Tabernacle Baptist Church and the STC Economic Development Center.  Shuttle service will begin at 6:00p.m. at both locations.  All those utilizing the service will enter the stadium off of the back gate on Oxley Blvd.  At the completion of graduation the shuttles will meet at the back gate on Oxley Blvd. to return those participating to their drop off points.  There is no fee for this service."

STC Economic Development Center, 100-A Brinson Rd.

Tabernacle Baptist Church, 1715 Mt. Vernon Highway

May 17--  Four area school systems are cooperating to open a night school for high school age students who have dropped out of school and still want to get a diploma.

At its May board meeting Monday night,the Montgomery County school board agreed to participate in the school starting this coming school term at the Southeastern Early College and Career Academy (SECCA) in Vidalia, according to School Superintendent Hugh Kight.

"We're trying to give our students a second chance if they've dropped out and want an opportunity to graduate. The Coastal Plains Education High School will be housed at our SECCA building and Toombs County, Vidalia, Treutlen County and Montgomery County have partnered to get this going.  We're really excited about it.  It will be a night school, Monday through Thursday, four p.m. till nine p.m.  Students who have to work during the day can go to school at night.  We're going back through the last three years for students who have dropped out and we're giving them another opportunity go graduate," he said. 

Vidalia School Superintendent Dr. Garrett Wilcox says the school is a subsidiary of a night school system in North Georgia.  He says the $50,000 upfront fee is being shared with Vidalia and Toombs splitting 70% and Treutlen and Montgomery splitting the remaining 30%.  He says the systems will be reimbursed by the state.

Five other South Georgia high school are also participating including Metter, Ludowici, Jesup, Brunswick and Valdosta.

"It's another attempt for us to reduce our dropout rates and give these young people a chance at a high school diploma which can make a big difference in their lives," Dr. Wilcox said.





May 16--  The financial management office in the Vidalia City School System has been awarded the Award of Distinction by the Georgia Department of Audits. 

normaSchool system Finance Director Norma Croft (left) accepted the award from the audit department's Caroline James for excellence in financial reporting and thanked her staff, Sandy Seidling and Billy Goodwin, for their assistance in earning the award.

The award was presented at the May meeting of the Vidalia Board of Education. 

Fire Statistics:

  • The fire is currently 152,231 acres (84-acre increase due to more precise mapping) and 18 percent contained.
  • Firefighting resources include 11 helicopters, 3 fixed-wing air tankers, 107 wildland fire engines, 73 bulldozers, 6 hand crews, and 944 total personnel.

Fire Situation and Planned Actions:
No new fire starts were detected yesterday. Taking advantage of moderate fire conditions and drier, more navigable roads, crews made significant progress reinforcing and mopping up firelines, particularly on the southern half of the fire. Pockets of unburned vegetation on the northcentral side of fire well within the refuge—for example, Blackjack Island—burned moderately yesterday. On the northwest side, firefighters continued to identify structures needing protection, which crews will plumb today (i.e., lay out a network of fire hose and pumps).

With the recent arrival of additional firefighters and equipment, the night shift was fully staffed. Crews reported no significant fire activity as they patrolled the fire perimeter for hotspots.

During this morning’s operational briefing, fire managers identified two priorities for firefighters today: initial attack and mopup. Although a group of firefighters is specifically dedicated to initial attack, all firefighters are available and ready to respond to any new fire starts. Mopup is a critical phase of fire suppression. Infrared flights continue to detect numerous areas of heat scattered within the fire’s perimeter. Working from roads and firelines, crews are locating and extinguishing as many as those heat sources as possible. If not mopped up, a smoldering stump, for example, could start to actively burn, posing a threat to containment lines if it were to spot across the line to ignite unburned vegetation.

On the east and west sides of the fire, crews will also extend their presence northward. They will scout and collect preliminary information to identify staffing and equipment needs and values at risk. If the fire should spread to the north, fire managers and crews will be able to respond more quickly.

Weather and Fire Behavior:
High temperatures, low relative humidity, and gusty winds—conditions that favor active fire behavior and spread—will persist for the next several days as high pressure continues to build across the fire area. Today’s temperatures will be in the mid-90s, the minimum relative humidity will be in the mid-20-percent range, and easterly winds, although generally light, are expected to gust up to 15 mph this afternoon.

Significant fire activity is possible today, and new starts could spread quickly, even if winds are not as gusty as predicted.
The vegetation has dried significantly since Saturday’s rain event. Pine needles, grass, and other light vegetation, with a moisture content of approximately 3 percent (kiln-dried lumber is typically 5 percent), will ignite and burn readily. Once established, fire could potentially spread a half mile per hour and airborne embers could travel up to a half mile from the main fire front.

Air Quality:
With today’s easterly winds, light amounts of smoke could affect communities west and northwest of the fire, such as Fargo and Valdosta. Air-quality specialists do not anticipate any health concerns due to smoke today, unless smoke output increases this afternoon because of active fire behavior.

Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge:

  • The refuge remains closed.
  • Main Entrance (Suwannee Canal Recreation Area, Folkston): closed
  • Secondary East Entrance (Kingfisher Landing, between Folkston and Waycross): open - day use only

Note: Wilderness Canoe overnight stops are closed.

  • North Entrance (Okefenokee Swamp Park, Waycross): open
  • West Entrance (Stephen C. Foster State Park, Fargo): closed
  • Secondary West Entrance (Suwannee River Sill, Fargo): closed

Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR):
A TFR is in place for all aircraft, including unmanned aircraft:

Burn Bans:

  • Florida: Baker and Nassau counties
  • Georgia: Brantley (new), Charlton, Clinch, Glynn, Pierce, and Ware counties

West Mims Fire History:
This lightning-caused fire was reported on April 6, 2017, approximately 2.5 miles northeast of the Eddy Fire Tower in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. The Southern Area Red Type 1 Incident Management Team is managing the fire with Georgia Forestry Commission, Greater Okefenokee Association of Landowners (GOAL), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Florida Forest Service, and USDA Forest Service.

May 15--  Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.



05113 jpg



May 15--  Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

 05/08     Tyriq Dashone Maxwell                     Mt. Vernon, Ga.                   Possession of Marijuana w/Intent, Obstruction of Officer


 05/08     Chance Halsey Collins                       Uvalda, Ga.                          Felony Probation Warrant Served

 05/11     Jason Michael Cook                           Vidalia, Ga.                           Felony Probation Warrant Served, Possession of

                                                                                                                                Controlled Substance, Possession of Drug Related


 05/11     Cameron Allen Martinez                   Hazlehurst, Ga.                    Speeding, Driving w/Suspended License

 0512       Robert Austin Carver                          Uvalda, Ga.                          Felony Probation Warrant Served


May 15-- Georgia drivers and their passengers are being warned to buckle their seat belts or face the consequences of being hit with a traffic ticket during this summer.

State and local law officers in Georgia are increasing their enforcement of the state's seat belt law during the annual Click It or Ticket mobilization that begins on Monday, May 15. 

“Georgia law requires drivers and passengers to wear their seatbelts for one important reason, it saves lives,” Harris Blackwood, Director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety said. “More than half the people killed in traffic crashes in our state were not wearing seatbelts, and many of them would still be alive today had they been buckled up.”

According to the United States Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 9.784 people killed in traffic crashes in 2015 were not wearing seat belts at the time of the crash.  

Fatalities involving people not wearing their seat belts are also more prevalent at night when 51 percent of those were killed between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 5:59 a.m. were unbelted in 2015.

In Georgia, more than 50 percent of those who died in passenger vehicle crashes in 2015 were not buckled up according to NHTSA.  There were 1,007 people killed in passenger vehicle crashes in Georgia in 2015 with 519 of those victims were not wearing seat belts or there was no way to determine if they were belted.

This year, all 16 of the Governor's Office of Highway Safety's Regional Traffic Enforcement Networks will join agencies across half of the United States who will be conducting simultaneous patrols and road checks looking for all traffic violations especially those who are not properly restrained.

This border to border enforcement effort begins at 4:00 p.m. on Monday, May 22 and sends the message to all motorists in Georgia there is nowhere they can drive without the realistic chance of getting a ticket for not wearing their seat belt.

"Summer is usually a time we unfortunately see an increase in the number of people killed in traffic crashes," G.O.H.S. Law Enforcement Services Director Roger Hayes said. "Getting people to wear their seat belts every time they get in a vehicle will help reduce the rising number of deaths we have seen on our roads in the last two years."

NHTSA estimates that seat belts have saved more than 347,000 lives over the last 40 years.  Even though the Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement mobilization will end on June 4, state and local officers enforce Georgia's seat belt law year-round.

May 15-- Robert Toombs Christian Academy held its annual Baccalaureate Service for the Class of 2017 yesterday.

Baylee Mixon opened the service with a prayer and was followed by Toby Upshaw introducing this year’s speaker, Hayne Brant, Assistant Headmaster. Mr. Brant spoke about the many opportunities, challenges and experiences the Seniors are about to experience. He encouraged them to never give up and find something in every day to continue to learn. After Mr. Brant spoke, 6th grader Shannon Sigler sang “In Christ Alone” by Natalie Grant.

rtcabaccCoach Henry Gardner, shown with Jared Durden, presented this year’s Bibles to the Senior class, a favorite tradition for the Senior class. Jesse Standard closed out the service with a prayer.

The RTCA Class of 2017 with graduate on May 20th at 10:00 a.m. at Southeastern Technical College.


May 15-- My name is Jennifer Coursey and I wanted to reach out to see if you could help us.

williejOur nine-month-old Boxer, Willie J,  jumped out of our truck on Oren Sharpe Road Sunday afternoon about 4 o'clock . We have looked and looked and knocked on doors.

We are offering a $100.00 reward for his return.  We have 3 boys at home who are very heartbroken.

If you have seen Willie J, please call Jennifer at 478-272-0023 or email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


May 15--  Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits reports the following arrests.

Gaffney, Antonio-B/M 35 YOA-801 Thompson St. Ext. Vidalia, GA-Simple Battery

Riner, Sheila Dawn- W/F- 47 YOA- 309 Mosley St. Apartment 9 Vidalia, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 2nd Offense (Citation)(MISD)/Possession of Marijuana Less Than Ounce/Possession of a Controlled Substance

Dowd, Timothy Paul- W/M- 55 YOA- 309 Mosley St. Apartment 9 Vidalia, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense (Citation) (MISD)

Everett, Gregory- B/M- 57 YOA- 506 Brantley Rd. Vidalia, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense (Citation) (MISD)

Mobley, Amanda Machella - B/F 47 YOA/ 1208 Easter Dr. Apt. 5 Vidalia, Ga./ Executing, Negotiation Fictitious Check (Felony)

Crawford, Mahalika Keanna - B/F 32 YOA/ 1208 Easter Dr. Apt. 57 Vidalia, Ga. / Theft by Shoplifting (Felony)

Boyles, Christina Ann- W/F- 36 YOA- 183 Hammonds Church Rd. Lyons, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 2nd Offense


May 15-- The Lyons Lions Club Student of the Month program is a program that recognizes deserving students for their “Dedication, Commitment and Service to Others”.  

For the month of April the awards were presented to Hope Denmark of Robert Toombs Christian Academy and Luke Anderson and Cameron Panick of Toombs County High School. 

The Lyons Lions Club Student of the Month Program is sponsored by Peoples Bank. 

lionsaprilLeft photo:  (Left to Right)  President Robbie Rosier, Lion Hayne Brant, Hope Denmark (RTCA Student of the Month),  LaRee Findley (RTCA Teacher)

Right photo:  (Left to Right)  President Robbie Rosier, Luke Anderson and Cameron Panick (TCHS Students of the Month), Lion Richard

May 13-- Jeramie Thomas Leslie, 31, of Guyton, Georgia, was sentenced earlier this week by United States District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood to 112 months in federal prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release.  Leslie was the last of 13 defendants convicted as part of a joint federal and state operation targeting methamphetamine trafficking in South Georgia. 

The additional 12 defendants sentenced to federal prison for their roles in the meth trafficking ring included:

John Christopher Paulson, 40, of Rincon, who was sentenced to 132 months and 3 years supervised release;

William Preston Gibbs, 22, of Glennville, who was sentenced to 82 months and 3 years supervised release;

Jeremiah Jones Richardson, 29, of Statesboro, who was sentenced to 70 months and 3 years supervised release;

Jason Todd Smith, 44, of Fleming, who was sentenced to 230 months and 3 years supervised release;

Jeremy Nicholas Taylor, 27, of Ellabell, who was sentenced to 82 months and 3 years supervised release;

Samori Jodan Smokes, 35, of Eden, who was sentenced to 132 months and 3 years supervised release;

Scott Lamont Pointer, 35, of Ellabell, who was sentenced to 52 months and 3 years supervised release;

Timothy Wayne Davis, 49, of Ellabell, who was sentenced to 48 months and 3 years supervised release;

Christopher Gage Floyd, 21, of Pembroke, who was sentenced to 46 months and 3 years supervised release;

Kenneth Jordan Lane, 24, of Pembroke, who was sentenced to 52 months and 3 years supervised release;

Jeffery James Taylor, 28, of Ellabell, who was sentenced to 48 months and 3 years supervised release; and,

Casandra Rae Hendrix, 24, of Ellabell, who was sentenced to 24 months and 3 years supervised release.

Acting U. S. Attorney Jim Durham commended the work of the agencies involved in the joint federal-state investigation, including the DEA, GBI, the Bryan County Sheriff’s Office, the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office, the Chatham-Savannah Counter Narcotics Team, the Statesboro-Bulloch Crime Suppression Team, the Richmond Hill Police Department and the Pembroke Police Department.  Assistance was also provided by the Rincon Police Department and the United States Marshal’s Service. 

May 14-- Meadows Regional Medical Center announced the successful completion of its new accreditation process from DNV GL Healthcare.

meadowslobbyAs part of the accreditation process, surveyors visited the Meadows Regional Medical Center to evaluate the hospital’s adherence to patient safety and quality standards established by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

“Every part of the hospital they visited reported their upbeat and positive approach, and they were highly complementary of our facility and organization,” said Alan Kent, Meadows President & CEO. “The DNV GL program is consistent with our long-term commitment to quality and patient safety,” Kent added. “The ability to integrate such high quality standards with our clinical and financial processes is a major step forward. I am proud to be part of a team, from every level of our organization, which focuses on providing the best healthcare to our patients and community.”

“Ensuring patient safety while providing top quality care is a top priority of Meadows,” said Michele Malone, Meadows Chief Nursing Officer. “This achievement would not be possible without the hard work and effort put forth by our employees and medical staff.”

DNV GL Healthcare Inc. is an operating company of Det Norske Veritas in Norway with corporate offices in Houston, Texas and Cincinnati, Ohio. DNV GL Healthcare is managed by a group of dedicated medical professionals with extensive healthcare operational experience in the U.S. that understand the dynamics of a complex healthcare organization.

May 13--  Two Toombs County Bulldogs heading off to the University of Georgia are the top students this year at Toombs County High School.

orenmorganvalOren Morgan is Valedictorian and says, "It means a lot of hard work has paid off and I'm just happy to be here. I get to make a speech to my class and friends talking about the future and trying to rally the class as we face the future and more forward and also thank all the people who have helped me along the way to get where I am."

Oren believes the Class of 2017 has a lot of challenges, "Things have gotten a lot harder and there's a lot more social pressure on kids and a lot more things you have to learn and grasp.  The world is changing and new jobs are being created for things that have never existed before so there's a big learning curve for our generation.

Oren's dad has a farm near Statesboro and he's planning on studying Agricultural Engineering at UGA.

bryceharrisonThe Salutatorian is Bryce Harrison and he and Oren were neck and neck for top honors, both had GPAs of 4.0, "It feels geat, but you always have that little feeling that you could have made that little push but I'm happy where I'm at and glad to be here."

On the way to graduation practice, Bryce and his classmates who started their education at Toombs Central Elementary School went back to see where it all started.

"It's to remember where we came from and not forget and to remember our roots,  It's a nice place out there with nice teachers and its a homey, nice place," he says.

As for his memories of Toombs County High School, "It's been wonderful here.  I can reflect back on all my days in sports and how much they taught me and how that translated to success in the classroom.

Bryce plans to major in Social Studies Education and become a coach.

May 12--  As this school year draws to a close, the Vidalia City School system thanked four retiring personnel at the school board's monthly meeting.

vidschoolretirees17(L-R) System Nutrition Director Denise Parson thanked Gloria Helton for her nine years as the cafeteria manager at J.R. Trippe Middle School and Maria Sasser was thanked for 21 years teaching by J.R. Trippe Middle School Principal Sandy Reid.

Not pictured are retiree Joyce Rogers, a school nutrition assistant at Vidalia High School and school nutrition bookkeeper Susan Cheshire from the system's central office.  


May 12--  Longtime Southeastern Technical College welding instructor Michael Crumpler was named a finalist this year in the Technical College System of Georgia's 2017 Instructor of the Year competition.

The winner of the award is Ashley Strong-Green of Augusta Technical College.

crumplerThe finalists for the award were recognized and congratulated by TCSG Commissioner Gretchen Corbin during a banquet in honor of the system’s best instructors and top students at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Atlanta.

“Michael is a perfect example of what our instructor of the year should look like,” said V.P. of Academic Affairs, Teresa Coleman. “He goes above and beyond what is asked of him and always keeps the students in the forefront of everything he does. Michael is an outstanding instructor in the classroom and is well respected by his peers both at the college level and statewide. I am extremely proud of him and thrilled he is representing us this year. He also keeps the cleanest welding lab I have ever seen!”

8M7B4383 XLL-R: Sentor Blake Tillery, Helen Baird (Briley's Friend & Classmate) Mallie Braddy (Briley's Sister), Briley Braddy, Governor Deal, Brandon Braddy (Father), Faye Ricks (Grandmother), Donna Jean Braddy (Mother), Jeff McCormick (Headmaster), Bobby George (History Teacher) and Representative Greg Morris.May 10--Youth Legislator Scholarship Competition winner, VHA Freshman Briley Braddy, with her family and friends in Governor Nathan Deal's office for the official signing into the Georgia Code a new law that her essay helped create.

The contest, sponsored by Senator Blake Tillery, inspired Him to draft and sponsor Senate Bill 258 based on Briley's essay, which bars a holder of public funds owed to a municipal government from holding civil office.

"Our Youth Legislator Scholarship was designed to engage young citizens in the political and legislative process,” said Sen. Tillery. “Briley’s idea was a good idea; you shouldn’t be making decisions about other people’s tax money if you haven’t paid yours! I’m proud to help her move it through the General Assembly."

Congratulations Briley!

bpcground17May 12-- Brewton-Parker College launched a new campus building and renovation program Thursday with groundbreaking for a $350,000 men's dormitory on the western side of the campus. 

Another dorm is planned for next summer as part of the $1.5 million "Rise and Shine" campaign at the college.

May 9--  A Vidalia woman is reported on life support at a Savannah hospital after an alleged beating at a local motel.

alpherdjonesAccording to Vidalia police, Alpherd Jones, Jr. is charged with the aggravated assault of the woman in a room at the Royal Inn in Vidalia last Thursday. 

Toombs County EMS and Vidalia police found the woman unconscious after Jones call E-911.  He claimed she had fallen in the shower and later in the motel room after throwing up blood in the bathroom.

The woman, whose identity has yet to be released by police, was taken to Meadows Regional Medical Center and later moved to Memorial Hospital in Savannah where police were told she appeared to be brain dead.  She also had six broken ribs and facial injuries.

Police say Jones has previously been jailed in Virginia for beating a woman there.

May 9--  The Vidalia City Council held its May meeting Monday night.

*Toombs County Development Authority Executive Director Bill Mitchell informed the council that a German company which had considered locating an auto accessory plant in Toombs County has decided instead to expand one of its plants in Kentucky.  Mitchell also reported no progress with solar companies which sought property tax breaks in return for multi-million dollar investments in solar farms in Toombs County.  According to Mitchell, one of the companies has turned down the Toombs offer of 50% abatement for 25 years and the other two companies have provided no information regarding their intentions.

*Vidalia Tourism Director Alexa Britton reported the city's concert series for 2017 will premier Saturday, June 10th on the Stage at City Park with a return show by "The Temptations."

*City Finance Director Bill Bedingfield reported local option sales tax collections are slightly up so far this year, special purpose local option sales taxes are down nearly 3%, hotel/motel taxes are down just over 4% and alcohol tax revenue is up about 10%.

*Jimmy Kirby, who oversees the city's dilapidated housing program, reported 25 buildings have been removed, five have been repaired, nine are ready for removal and 25 more are pending removal.  Overall he said the city has opened 71 cases this year.

City Manager Nick Overstreet reported:

*McLendon Enterprises has been awarded a $641,300 contract to extend Mose Coleman Road to Ezra Taylor Road.

*Sikes Brothers has been awarded a $146,912 contract to repave the parking lot in front of the Vidalia Municipal Annex.

*The city will build a new helipad, corporate hangar and taxiway extension at Vidalia Regional Airport.  Site work preparation will be done by McLendon Enterprises in a $147,000 project primarily funded by the Georgia Department of Transportation.

*The Vidalia Fire Department is seeking a $106,089 federal grant for a trailer which will be used for community fire safety education and training.

*The city is replacing the heating and air unit at the Vidalia Community Center and renovation work will be done at the Darby Gymnasium.



May 9--  Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits reports the following arrests.

McRae, Eric Dante - B/M 31 YOA/ 311 Epstein St. Vidalia, Ga. / Aggravated Assault (FVA), 2 Counts of Cruelty to Children in the 3rd Degree

Wadley, Keith- B/M- 40 YOA- 122 New Life Road Swainsboro, GA- Possession of Marijuana Less Than Ounce/Carrying Concealed Weapon

Gentry, Amir- U/M- 34 YOA- 931 S. State Street Lot B7 Lyons, Ga 30434- Warrant Served (Jones Co. SO)

Bryant, Hollis Alan- W/M- 21 YOA- 4231 Cedar Crossing Rd Uvalda, Ga 30473- Driving While License Suspended Or Revoked 1st/ Defective Equipment- No Horn, Headlight, Taillights

Atkins, Steve- B/M- 45 YOA- 705 E First St Room 109 Vidalia, GA- Driving While License Suspended Or Revoked, Possession Of A Controlled Substance, Controlled Substance Not In Original Container, Failure To Maintain Lane


May 8--  A robber was killed at a Lyons liquor store over the weekend.

According to Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker, "We had a subject who attempted to rob T-Bird's Package Store here in Lyons about 11 o'clock Saturday night. 

"He walked in, brandished a gun and attempted to take money out of the register.  There were three employees in the store at the time and they got into a tussle with him over the gun.  One of the employees was armed with a handgun and pointed it at the suspect and attempted to get him to drop his gun.  The subject didn't and the employee fired, striking him in the head, and the subject is deceased.

"His named is Derrick LeShawn Johnson, Jr.  He has a Lyons address and is 26 years of age.  I haven't run a criminal background on him, but I'm not personally aware of any criminal history he has.

"There wasn't a whole lot of conversation, it happened really quick. Basically, he actually jumped the counter to where the register is and pulled the til open on the register and began to take money out of the register and pointed the gun at one of the employees.  That's when the altercation ensued as the employee grabbed the gun and they began to tussle over it.

After conducting interviews, at this point, we're calling it a justifiable shooting."

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is assisting the Lyons Police Department with the investigation.

May 8--  Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

05/01     Kevin Alexander Harpe                     Mt. Vernon, Ga.                   Bondsman Off Bond

05/04     Ladarius Devonte Cobb                     Vidalia, Ga.                           Felony Probation Warrant Served

05/05     Randy Michael Tharpe                      Mt. Vernon, Ga.                   Parole Warrant Served

05/06     Kyonia Symone Lane                        Vidalia, Ga.                           DUI, Speeding

05/07     Olivia Lee Knies                                   Uvalda, Ga.                          DUI, Failure to Maintain Lane, Driving w/o License

May 6—The 26th Annual Southeast Georgia Soap Box Derby was held Saturday at Derby Hill at Partin Park in Lyons. A total of fifty-seven cars competed in the Stock and Super Stock Divisions for an opportunity to race in the Soap Box Derby World Championships this summer in Akron, Ohio.

Cayson Hayes from Summerville, South Carolina is this years’ winner of the Soap Box Derby in the Stock Division. Cayson is the younger brother of last years’ winner Thayne Hayes.

Anna-Kate Martin a fifteen year old sophomore from Toombs Co High School is the Super Stock Division winner. Both winners will receive a check for $1000 to help with expenses to Akron, Ohio.

Super Stock
5 6 17 Super Stock Winners
5 6 17 Stock Winners
Front: 1st Place Anna-Kate Martin
Middle (L-R): 4th Place Taylor Hutcheson, 3rd Place Brock Nobles, 2nd Place Alexie Carroll
Back: Soap Box Derby Director Michael Williamson.
Front: 1st PlaceCayson Hayes
Middle (L-R): 4th Cash Driggers, 3rd: Ava Bullard, 2nd: Cassidy Martin
Back: Soap Box Derby Director Michael Williamson 



May 5-- Jonathan Shane Culbreth, 21, was sentenced yesterday by Chief U. S. District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood to serve 5 years in federal prison for starting a fire last summer that destroyed a historic building in the heart of downtown Glennville.  The fire, which Culbreth began before dawn on June 5, 2016 by igniting a junk pile in a back alley, required more than 13 hours to control.  Firefighters from nearly a dozen agencies in four counties responded to extinguish the blaze.

Culbreth will serve his federal sentence without the possibility of parole.  Following his release from prison, the United States Probation Office will supervise him for three years.  Additionally, Culbreth will be required to make restitution of $892,410 to the businesses affected by his crime.

Acting U. S. Attorney James D. Durham stated, “With one foolish decision, this defendant not only endangered the lives of dozens of firefighters, but he also stole from Glennville a structure nearly as old as the town itself.  This U. S. Attorney’s Office will continue to work with its federal and local partners to bring to justice arsonists and other violent offenders who threaten the safety and security of law-abiding citizens.”

The arson was investigated by the ATF, the Georgia State Fire Marshal’s Office, the Tattnall County Fire Department, the Glennville Police Department, the Tattnall County Sheriff’s Office, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and the Long County Sheriff’s Office.

May 5--  The man accused of murder in the death of Montgomery County Sheriff Ladson O'Connor took the stand Friday in his own defense.

Sheriff O'Connor was killed nearly two years ago when his truck wrecked while he was chasing Jim Lowery and his girlfriend Dixie Best who is Lowery's co-defendant in the case.

According to Advance newspaper reporter Kathy Hilt, "He said when he saw the initial blue lights he was scared and that he's always been afraid of the law.  He denied ever shooting directly at any of the officers.  He said he only fired in his own defense.  He said he never hit any of them.  District Attorney Tim Vaughn asked him did he not shoot the tire on Deputy Brett Humphrey's patrol car and did he not shoot the windshield out of Georgia State Trooper Bryan Screw's car? 

"Mr. Lowery got a little upset at that and asked Mr. Vaughn where was the proof that he did that.  It went a little back and forth at that and Judge Sarah Wall called a recess until cooler heads could prevail.  Lowery said what they thought may have been gunfire was actually his truck back firing.

"He said he didn't know if he had actually hit Sheriff O'Connor's truck with any gunfire.  He said the reason he was trying to get away from Sheriff O'Connor was because Sheriff O'Connor was ramming him with his pickup truck and that was why he lost control and that was why Sheriff O'Connor wrecked," Hilt reported.

Hilt reports that Lowery has been smiling and smirking during this week's trial and that his demeanor only changed when he was questioned by the District Attorney.

"He kept blowing kisses to his family in the audience all day.  When he was on the stand with his attorney he was more demure, but you could tell from the very get-go that he wanted to be more defensive and irate when District Attorney Tim Vaughn started questioning him,' she said.

Dixie Best was expected to testify Friday afternoon but changed her mind during the noon recess.

Lawyers for both sides are expected to give their closing arguments Monday morning after which the jury will begin deliberating.

The Temptations Review featuring Dennis Edwards Coming Back to Vidalia!

20170610TemptationsMay 5-- Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Dennis Edwards and the Temptations Review will headline this year’s Outdoor Concert Series brought to you by the Vidalia Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The Temptations Review featuring Dennis Edwards will kick off this year’s series on Saturday June 10th. Advance tickets will be on sale for $10.00 each and a limited number of reserved seats will be available for $20.00 and will include parking. Tickets the day of the event will be $15.00.

Dennis Edward’s was selected as a replacement for the lead singer of the Temptations David Ruffin in 1968 and for more than 30 years has been considered a moving influential force in the R&B music industry. Dennis Edwards began his music career with the Contours in the 1960’s. Utilizing his unique style and smooth delivery of music The Temptations achieved the first Grammy award for Motown records with Dennis Edwards as lead singer.   Some of the hit recordings include “Ball of Confusion” , “Cloud Nine”, “Papa was a Rolling Stone”, Can’t Get Next to You”, “Psychedelic Shack”, “ My Girl”, “Just my Imagination” and many, many more. Dennis Edwards has earned 14 Gold albums, 6 Platinum records, and 7 Grammy Awards, as well as, being a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Alabama Hall of Fame.

The second concert will be held on Tuesday July 4th and will feature Atlanta’s A-Town A-List. The A-Town A-List has been playing amazing events all over the Southeast and around the entire country since their 2010 debut. The A-Town A-List is a carefully curated combination of performers with impressive musical, vocal, dance and theatre experience. With resumes that include performances alongside the likes of Bruce Springsteen, The Black-Eyed Peas, and Stevie Wonder, the band members each bring to the stage a combination of unique talents. Together, they form a magnetic energy that will entice every partygoer to the dance floor. The band plays timeless classics to modern hits, from groovin’ funk to soulful, slow-burning ballads. All three singers’ performance chemistry is infectious, evoking the emotional delivery of nearly every fan-favorite of the past 60 years ...from Bruno Mars to Frank Sinatra and from the Beatles to Katy Perry and Beyonce. The concert will include the City of Vidalia’s annual 4th of July Firework show, which has become one of the area’s favorites and draws attendee’s from miles around. Tickets for the 4th of July event will be $5.00 per ticket and may be purchase at the gate.

Rounding out the series will be the 2nd Annual “Savor Vidalia. A Celebration of Wine, Food & Jazz” featuring the return of Joe Gransden and his 16 Piece Big Band. Gransden and his band blew away the attendees during last year festival and have quickly become one of the busiest groups on the jazz scene. Originally formed in 2009, Joe and the guys have continued to build momentum and are performing numerous shows around the country. The band’s new release entitled "It's A Beautiful Thing" has sold incredibly well and is getting radio air play all over the world! The cd was recorded live at Cafe 290 in Atlanta where the band holds a steady gig twice every single month. "The Big Band truly has its own sound and really swings!" says Gransden, "I attribute that to the arrangements that were all written by jazz trombone great Wes Funderburk! It's such a pleasure to front a band of top musicians that can interpret Wes' arrangements perfectly! These guys are the best!" There legion of fans continues to grow as well.

Savor Vidalia will take place on October 21st at the Stage at City Park and will also feature food and wine vendors from all over the state. Keep an eye out for ticket information for this event and the rest of the Outdoor Concert Series by going to the Convention and Visitors Bureau webpage at and Visit Vidalia on Facebook.

May 5--  Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits reports the following arrests.

Courson, Billy Joe- W/M- 44 YOA- 12 Rocky Creek Circle Vidalia, GA- Warrant Served (Jeff Davis Co SO- Bench)

Heggs, Danielle Latisha- B/F- 33 YOA- 305 Peachtree St. Vidalia, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense (Citation)(MISD), Willfully Obstruction of Police Officer Simple/Verbal, Disorderly Conduct

Jones, Alphred- B/M- 46 YOA- 705 E. First St. Room 115 Vidalia, GA- Aggravated Battery (FVA)

Farrow, Austin Blake- W/M- 20 YOA- 137 Old Petross Circle Vidalia, Ga- Warrant Served ( Sale, Manufacture, Distribution Of Methamphetamines

Bentley, Anthony Jerome - B/M 40 YOA/ 708 Georgia St. Vidalia, Ga. / Probation Warrant (Crisp County S.O)

Beck, Lee Vaugh- B/M- 35 YOA- 1414 Orange St. Vidalia, GA- Theft By Shoplifting 1st Offense, Warrant Served (Laurens County SO)

Taylor, Melanie Nicole- W/F- 33 YOA- 204 E. First St. Vidalia, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 2nd Offense(Vidalia Pd Bench Warrant)/Theft by Shoplifting 3rd Offense/Possession of a Controlled Substance (x3)

Jackson, Cavarus - B/M 37 YOA- 405 Bay St. Lot 2 Vidalia, Ga./ Aggravated Assault (Fel), Possession Of Firearms By Convicted Felon, Simple Battery

Peeples, Daquan Taqial - B/M 24 YOA/ 201 S. Smalley Dr. Vidalia, Ga. / Driving While License Suspended or Revoked 1st

Terry, Jackie C. – W/F- 55 YOA- 545 Pat Dixon Rd. Hazlehurst, GA- Possession of Marijuana Less Than Ounce

Brooks, Kevin Kirbo-W/M 52 YOA-120 Persimmon Pt Alma, GA-Disorderly Conduct

Parks, Cedrick Dushun- B/M- 31 YOA- 726 E. Seventh St. Vidalia, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 3rd Offense (Citation)(MISD)

Simon, Jamie Nicole - B/F 39 YOA/ 509 Lydia St. Vidalia, Ga. /Failure to Yeild Right of Way, Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (First)

Blanding, Franquielle Manieshae- B/F- 24 YOA- 406 Ward St Apt. D Vidalia, GA- Disorderly Conduct

Phillips, Nicholas Devon- B/M- 31 YOA- 510 Thompson St. Vidalia, GA- Possession of Marijuana Less Than Ounce (Warrant Served- Toombs County Probation)

Smith, John William- W/M- 34 YOA- 3145 Hwy 130 E Unit 1 Lyons, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense (Citation)(MISD)

Taylor, James Dillion- W/M- 19 YOA- 312 Ponderosa Rd. Lyons, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense (Citation) (MISD)

Ramirez, Victor Manuel- H/M- 20 YOA- 814 Church St. Vidalia, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense

Foreman, Jaudon- B/M- 25 YOA- 500 Toombs St. Vidalia, GA- Battery (FVA)


May 4--  The state rested its case Thursday in the murder trial of Jim Lowery and Dixie Best accused in the death of Montgomery County Sheriff Ladson O'Connor nearly two years ago.

On the third day of testimony Thursday, Advance reporter Kathy Hilt says much of the day was spent hearing testimony from law enforcement officers who were involved in the police chase that led to the fatal wreck that killed Sheriff O'Connor.

One of those testifying was Georgia State Patrol Trooper Bryan Screws.

"Trooper Screws is the one who actually did the maneuver that ended the race with Jim Lowery that night.  He testified that he had heard the sheriff on the radio that he was in pursuit.  Trooper Screws backed off waiting on him to come by, but when he saw the Avalanche come by with Lowery and Best in it, he took off after it.  They showed a video of him in pursuit of Lowery and no less than six times he was fired upon, both out the driver's side door with the long gun and he also thought Lowery may have used a handgun because he was shooting through the sunroof.

"Trooper Screws also said he was very fearful for his life and that he had never been more afraid that his life was going to end that night," Hilt reported.

The trooper also testified that Dixie Best assisted Lowery during the chase, 'He said he was 100% confident that Lowery had help driving that night and that Best may have been helping," Hilt said.

The state called 18 witnesses before it rested and "The two defense attorneys asked the judge to consider a directed verdict for acquittal and Judge Sarah Wall said she would take that under consideration," according to Hilt.

Depending on the time it takes for the defense to make its case and closing arguments, there's a chance the jury could start deliberations Friday, however, Judge Wall says she will delay charging the jury till Monday if testimony and arguments take up most of the day Friday.

May 4--  Four members of the area Thunderbolt Junior R.O.T.C. Regiment won region Drill Team competition and advanced to state. 

The board of directors of the Southeastern Early College and Career Academy (SECCA) congratulated the team for its achievement.

jrotcdrill(L-R) SECCA CEO Shelly Smith, Cadet Hailey Mixon, Vidalia High School.  Back Row, Cadet Malik Thornton, Vidalia High School; Cadet Joshua Smalley, Vidalia High School; Cadet Tristen Little, Toombs County High School and JROTC Lead Instructor Captain Carlos Ware.

May 4-- The House of Representatives passed legislation today that will repeal and replace Obamacare, once and for all. Congressman Rick W. Allen (R-GA-12) released the following statement in support of the American Health Care Act:

rickallen17“For seven years, Americans have been subject to Obamacare. Premiums have skyrocketed, coverage has dwindled and access to physicians has decreased. Some Georgians in the 12th District have only one choice when it comes to insurance providers—and often not the choice they want. Enough is enough.

Today, I supported the American Health Care Act because President Trump and Congress made a promise to repeal and replace Obamacare. President Trump has said he is behind our efforts 100%, and I am committed to fighting to restore patient-centered, cost-effective and market-driven solutions to our health care system. Simply put, my goal is to have a healthcare system that works for my constituents, and I believe the American Health Care Act is the answer.

I call on my colleagues in the Senate to quickly take up this legislation so that those in Georgia’s 12th district and throughout the country can find relief from the binds of our failing health care system.”

The American Health Care Act:

  • Dismantles Obamacare taxes
  • Eliminates individual and employer mandate penalties
  • Guarantees coverage to Americans with pre-existing conditions
  • Helps young adults access insurance by allowing dependents to continue staying on their parents’ plan until they are 26
  • Empowers individuals and families to spend their health care dollars the way they want my strengthening Health Savings Accounts
  • Establishes a patient and state stability fund to meet unique needs of their patient populations
  • Modernizes and strengthens Medicaid
  • Protects current Medicaid beneficiaries
  • Provides monthly tax credits to low and middle-income individuals and families who do not receive healthcare through work or government program

May 4-- Triston Ricks was named the recipient of the Shot and Jean Strange Endowment Scholarship at the annual STC Foundation Barbeque.

This scholarship is awarded to students who meet the following criteria: student(s) must be enrolled in a degree or diploma program; student must maintain a grade point average of 3.0 or higher; student must be a resident of Emanuel County or Toombs County; student must maintain full-time enrollment. This scholarship is awarded at the rate of $500 per semester.

strange17(L-R) Vicki Moore, daughter of Shot Strange; Triston Ricks and Shot Strange.

Ricks graduated from Wheeler Co. High School and currently resides in Vidalia. He is enrolled in the Criminal Justice degree program at STC and employed full time with DOT Foods. “I look forward to becoming an active member of the law enforcement once I graduate and begin working in the field,” Triston said.  “Receiving this scholarship will enable me to continue to make progress toward my degree in preparation for a career in Criminal Justice.”

“It has been a real honor to be part of the Southeastern Technical College,” Shot Strange said. “It has done so much for our community and counties. It gives me great pleasure to help in preparing our students for a better opportunity in life.”

The STC Foundation plans to award 40 scholarships to students in the fall semester of 2017.

May 4-- The Robert Toombs Christian Academy Chapter of the National Honors Society held its 2017 Induction Ceremony on Tuesday, May 2nd in the RTCA gym. The RTCA chapter of the NHS was established in 2004; four new students were added to the list of members this year.

This year’s inductees were Sophomores Hannah Keene, Mary Hayes Palmer, Sarah Tuck and Cody Masterman-Smith. Each of these students pledged to maintain a high scholastic standing, hold an untarnished character, courageously be a leader and volunteer their services to others.

Alumnae Beth Benton (2007) was the guest speaker. She encouraged the inductees and the other high school students to thank their parents for putting them in a great school and to thank their teachers for pushing them academically to prepare them for college. Lunch was served to the new inductees, their parents, and all other NHS members. Mrs. Ann Smith, high school teacher, is the advisor for the National Honor Society.

rtcahonor17Front Row (L-R): Hannah Foskey, Cassi Heath, Sarah Tuck, Hannah Keene, Cody Masterman-Smith, Mary Hayes Palmer

Back Row (L-R): Hope Denmark, Kelsey Yongue, Josilynn Dasher, Tom Waller, Evan Venable, Kate Sullivan, Anna McComas, Jared Durden, Wil Duvall, Emily Hutcheson, Hannah Coursey, Bradley Williamson, Frankie Toole

May 3--  The second day of testimony in the murder trial of Jim Lowery and Dixie Best for the death of Montgomery County Sheriff Ladson O'Connor consisted of expert testimony introduced by the prosecution.

Sheriff O'Connor was killed in a wreck while chasing the two nearly two years ago.

Kathy Hilt with The Advance newspaper says the court heard from expert toxicologists, pathologists and Georgia State Patrol investigators.

"Sergeant Tommy Sturdiman, an expert in accident reconstruction, said the swerve pattern was consistent with the sheriff trying to avoid gunfire at the time he wrecked.  He also said that, in his professional opinion, based on where the .410 shotgun shell was and the wadding in different areas, there had actually been two shots fired and not one as originally thought," she reported.

"They don't think his vehicle was ever hit.  The truck was so messed up that they couldn't check it for bullet holes or anything.  They did find that he had hit three trees after he went airborne," Hilt said.

kennyclarkCaptain Kenny Clark explains to the jury the significance of finding a spent .410 shell and wadding at Sheriff O'Connor's crash site.

Toxicologists confirmed Tuesday's testimony that Sheriff O'Connor had been drinking prior to the chase, "Two toxicologists took the stand to talk about the blood alcohol of Sheriff O'Connor at the time and determined it was 0.068.  It had peaked earlier in the afternoon and was on the way down,"she said.  There was also no evidence of drugs in the sheriff's blood, the experts said.

As for the defense attorneys Wednesday, "They're not saying a lot.  They're asking questions, but they are not really getting anywhere right now," Hilt observed.

May 3--  The 26th Annual Southeast Georgia Soap Box Derby is this weekend on Derby Hill at Partin Park in Lyons.

For the second year, a SuperKids race will take place at ten o'clock Friday morning to give special needs young people a chance to race.

At six p.m. Friday, adults can go down the hill in the "Run Whatcha Brung" race, there will be a "Challenge for Charity" race to raise money for a family battling childhood cancer and the Soap Box Block Party will also kick off with music, games and family fun.

Saturday morning's opening ceremonies for Derby are scheduled to start at 9 a.m. followed by a full day of racing.  The winner will travel to Akron, Ohio this summer to race in the All-American Soap Box Derby.

May 2--  Defense attorneys for two people indicted in connection with the death of Montgomery County Sheriff Ladson O'Connor say he had been drinking the night he was killed during a police chase.

According to Advance newspaper reporter Kathy Hilt, attorneys for Jim Lowery and Dixie Best presented the evidence during the first day of testimony in the trial which is being held in Bleckley County.

"The defense brought up that the alcohol level of Sheriff O'Connor was .068 or .069 at the time of the accident when they did the blood test and the legal limit is .08," however, prosecutors noted, "He was off duty and when he heard his deputies were being fired on he thought he needed to see about it," she said.

The police chase the night of June 30, 2015 started in Toombs County and eventually ended up in Montgomery County where prosecutors said Lowery fired at officers from his truck.

"While Deputy Brett Humphrey was in chase of the vehicle, Lowery was firing at his patrol car and the deputy said at one point Lowery had all of his upper torso hanging out the driver's side of his truck firing at him and one of the bullets did hit his front tire but he kept going on the rim because of the magnitude of the chase at that time," Hilt reports.

Meanwhile, Best, who was in the truck with Lowery, is being characterized as a victim by her attorney.

"Her attorney, Kim Beaufort from Hazlehurst, is claiming that Miss Best had nothing to do with it and, in fact, she was a victim of it and was basically being  held hostage by Jim Lowery in the truck," she said.

That raises the question of who was steering while Lowery was shooting, "The Assistant District Attorney said there's no way somebody else was not holding the wheel while he was shooting at the deputies," HIlt said.

Court officials say testimony and closing arguments could take several days before the jury gets the case.

May 2--  Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.






May 2--  Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

04/24     Lourae Meredith Clements                 Mt. Vernon, Ga.                   Bench Warrant Served

04/24     Cardell Russell Sweat                         Uvalda, Ga.                          Burglary-1st, Entering Auto

04/26     Ibarra Garcia Margarito                     Vidalia, Ga.                           DUI

04/28     Bernard Harden, Jr,                             Vidalia, Ga.                           Giving False Information

04/28     Michael A. Cohen                               Pooler, Ga.                            Speeding, DUI

04/28     Ponce, Jose                                           Mt. Vernon, Ga.                   Failure to Yield, Giving False Information, No Driver’s


04/29     Charlie Cobb                                        Vidalia, Ga.                           Manufacturing Methamphetamine, Sale of


May 2-- The Meadows Healthcare Foundation is pleased to announce the appointment of Beth Benton as new Executive Director of its healthcare foundation. Benton’s appointment will strengthen foundation relationships with donors and businesses that support excellence in local healthcare. The recently expanded Tommy and Shirley Strickland Cancer Center on the Meadows campus was made possible in large part by the generosity of foundation donors.

bethbentonBenton has been employed with Meadows as Director of Business Development and now has accepted the additional responsibilities as Foundation Director.  Benton is responsible for developing and managing charitable support for the Meadows Healthcare Foundation. 

Her role as the foundation’s Executive Director also includes building and maintaining strong partnerships with the community to help sustain existing programs and identify additional funds in support of new and emergent initiatives.

“Working with community members and organizations to support the Meadows Healthcare Foundation is vital,” said Meadows President & CEO Alan Kent. “Since joining this year, Beth has proven to be a valuable asset by working hard to build strong relationships with physicians and communities we serve. I am confident she will continue to build relationships with the community as well.” Kent added, “Beth also brings a wealth of creativity, knowledge and experience to the Meadows Healthcare Foundation. Her relationships and dedication to serving the Meadows community will help the foundation support the hospital in continuing to provide high quality healthcare to their patients."

“I am very excited about this opportunity,” says Benton. “I look forward to working with the foundation board and the hospital to help promote and expand our services to our community and surrounding areas. In addition, I look forward to supporting the staff and volunteers who are the anchor of health and wellness in our community.”

Benton is a graduate of Robert Toombs Christian Academy and completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communication at Georgia College and State University. She is currently involved with both United Way and Kiwanis, and is a board member of Georgia Society for Healthcare Marketing and Public Relations. She recently joined the Association of Staff Physician Recruiters.

From its inception, the mission of the Meadows Healthcare Foundation has been to provide citizens an opportunity to invest in the future of the area’s healthcare. 

Donations to the Foundation are used for facility construction and improvements, education, equipment, programs and other services. Most recently, the foundation completed the construction of the Tommy and Shirley Strickland Cancer Center.

Coach Reid HonoredThe Vidalia Kiwanis Club honored Vidalia Girls Basketball Coach Chunk Reid at their meeting on Tuesday with a plaque recognizing Reid’s contribution to the Youth in the community.

Reid who spoke to the club prior to the presentation, announced his retirement two weeks ago after coaching the Lady Indians for 47 years. During his talk, Reid credited the Kiwanis Club for caring about the community and for being involved in the lives of the young people of this area. “People like you and others in this community are a lot of the reason I have been successful and the reason Vidalia High School Athletics has been successful.” Reid went on to say “The community people who get involved, are at times the only solid relationships that some of these kids will ever know, and that makes a difference in their lives.”

Heather Gourley who is serves as the Secretary for the Club, said the board decided to honor Reid because of his service and dedication to the community and the young people whose lives he has touched. “Kiwanis is for kids in the community and I can’t think of anyone who has supported children and their lives for 50 years, more than Coach Reid has.” 

L-R John Sharpe (Incoming President) Coach Reid, Heather Gourley (Secretary) & Tom Hall (Presenting Member)

May 2--  Opening statements and witness testimony will be heard today in the murder trial of two people accused in the death of Montgomery County Sheriff Ladson O'Connor nearly two years ago.

The trial of Jim Lowery and Dixie Best is being held at the Bleckley County courthouse in Cochran after a change of venue was granted due to pre-trial publicity.

The pair led law enforcement officers on a two-county police chase June 30, 2015 before their capture.  Sheriff O'Connor was killed when his truck wrecked during the chase.

Superior Court Judge Sarah Wall presided Monday as attorneys for both sides worked their way through more than 100 potential jurors before selecting 12 jurors and three alternate jurors to hear the case.  There are six men and nine women on the jury panel, according to Kathy Hilt who is covering the trial.

May 1-- Meadows Regional Medical Center is now nationally accredited by the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC) for its echocardiology program.

Echocardiography is a test that uses sound waves to create a moving picture of the heart to view structure, movement and blood flow. This procedure is used to detect heart disease and other signs of serious or life threatening cardiovascular conditions.

mrmcheartFront row left to right: Ree Rowland, Dr. Christian Higgins, Heather Walters, Landra Williams. Back row left to right: Connie Williamson, Grant Johnson, Chuck Bondurant, Travis Roose. Not pictured: Michele Malone, Kim Akins, Tracey Kennedy, Penni Seaman, Stephen Smesny, Clay Raper, Nick Jones.

As part of Meadows comprehensive approach to heart care, a team chaired by Dr. Christian Higgins has achieved the highest possible echocardiography quality for the hospital and Meadows’ two cardiology clinics. "We know we provide outstanding care so we set our sights on achieving national accreditation and did so fairly quickly,” says Higgins. “It's a testimony to the expertise on our care team and to Meadows' dedication to making sure patients get the best care right here.”

Echocardiography is an important aspect of the cardiology program at Meadows, which houses the area's only interventional cardiac cath lab and has become the regional center for emergency care of serious heart attacks.

“This accreditation is a rigorous team effort that requires consistent excellence in three different practice sites,” said Connie Williamson, Cardio Services Echo Supervisor. “We're proud to be nationally accredited for this important cardiac test.”

IAC accreditation is a “seal of approval” that patients can rely on as an indication that the facilities have been carefully critiqued on all aspects of its operations considered relevant by medical experts in the field of echocardiography.

May 1--  The Lyons Police Department is the recipient of a top honor from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

The award for a small police department getting the most impaired drivers off the roads in 2016 was awarded at the Cobb Galleria in Atlanta and Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker says more and more impaired drivers are on prescription drugs.

"That's hard to detect for the average officer and I've spent officers to school in order to detect certain signs which tells them the driver is under the influence of drugs.  That's increased our numbers and Sergeant Lynn is one of those Drug Recognition Experts who has helped us a lot in making our roads safer in Lyons," Chief Walker said.

Sergeant Matthew Lynn received an individual award from MADD.  Of the 223 impaired driver arrests the Lyons Police Department made for drunk driving in 2016, Sergeant Lynn made 117.

"I'm grateful for the recognition, but we saved a lot of lives.If we just save one life, that's one life.  We're seeing a little decrease this year and I hope the word is getting out that we are going to prosecute you.  Hopefully our enforcement efforts and visibility will help people understand they need to stay off the highways and keep up safe," he said.

Harris Blackwood is the Director of the Governor's Office of Highway Safety and says, "This is a great example of the kind of partnerships we have around the state.  To win an individual award and a department award in one agency says volumes about their dedication to getting impaired drivers off the road and that is very important."

According to Blackwood, one in four traffic deaths in the state is due to drunk drivers.

"It's about 25% where we find alcohol was a contributing factor.  As Chief Walker said we're seeing more and more drugs and we're training officers to be Drug Recognition Experts and their testimony holds up in court in testifying to what extent people they arrest are impaired." he said.

maddaward(L-R) Lyons Police Sergeant Matthew Lynn, Harris Blackwood and Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker at last week's meeting of the Vidalia Rotary Club.