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June 22--  Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits reports the following arrests.

Smith, Lee Edward- B/M- 55YOA- 136 North Main Street Lyons ,GA 30436- Theft By Shoplifting 2nd Offense

Jenkins, Brittany- W/F- 25 YOA- 615 East South Central Ave Tennille, GA- Warrant Served (Parole)

Brown, Kristalei- W/F- 25 YOA- 120 Myrtle Way Sandersville, GA- Warrant Served (Parole)

Forbes, Amanda Kimberly-W/F- 28 YOA- 146-2 North Washington Street Ext Lyons, GA 30436- Theft By Shoplifting (FEL)

Wilt,William Greg Jr- W/M-21YOA- 553 Page Lane Lyons, GA 30436-Possession of a Controlled Substance

Allen, Stacy Boyd- W/M- 43 YOA- 4878 Cedar Crossing Rd. Uvalda, GA- Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (Second)


June 19-- Corey Megill Brown, 47, the former Pastor of Second African Baptist Church in Savannah, was sentenced by District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood to 28 months in prison for defrauding his former church and its parishioners of money for over 6 years.  In addition to his prison sentence, Brown was also ordered to pay the Second African Baptist Church $178,140 in restitution.  After serving his prison sentence, Brown will be on federal supervised release for 3 years.  There is no parole in the federal system. 

Brown pled guilty late last year to mail fraud.  The evidence presented at Brown’s guilty plea and the sentencing hearings revealed that from 2008 to February 2014, Brown intercepted checks and others moneys sent to the church as tithes and offerings; then deposited the stolen money into an account that only he controlled and that other church leaders did not know existed.  Brown opened his shadow bank account under the name “Romans 12 Ministries.” Brown used the stolen tithes and offerings for his own benefit, by withdrawing cash; by writing checks to himself that were deposited in his personal bank accounts; and, by using the debit card tied to the shadow account to make purchases from such places as leather goods stores and lingerie shops. 

           Acting United States Attorney Durham said, “Brown’s parishioners thought they were offering their hard earned savings so their church could do good works.  Little did they know, Brown’s idea of good work was to line his own pockets.  Whether you’re an attorney or accountant, a physician or pastor, if you steal from the good folks that trust you the most, then you’ll next serve time at a federal prison.” 

June 19--  Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

06/06     David Rufus Thompkins                   Mt. Vernon, Ga.                   Simple Battery (FVA)

 06/07     Tiger Roberson                                     Mt. Vernon, Ga.                   Aggravated Assault, Terroristic Threats and Acts, Theft

                                                                                                                                by Taking (x2), Obstruction of Officer, Drugs in Original

                                                                                                                                Container, Interference with Government Property

 06/09     Jeffrey Lewis Couch                           Augusta, Ga.                         Warrant Served – Pinellas County, Florida

 06/10     Timothy Allen Whitaker                    Garnett, SC                           DUI, Stopped in Intersection, Expired Temporary Tag

 06/11     Kenneth Alton Parker                         Uvalda, Ga.                          Battery (FVA)

 06/13     Francisco Garcia                                  Uvalda, Ga.                          Battery (FVA), Cruelty to Children-3rd, Obstruction of


 06/13     Christopher Scott Sharpton               Mt. Vernon, Ga.                   Simple Battery (FVA)

 06/13     Timothy Brian Miller                          Uvalda, Ga.                          Battery (FVA), Cruelty to Children-3rd

 06/15     James Vincent Beecher                      Uvalda, Ga.                          Entering Automobile (x2), Criminal Trespass (x2)

 06/15     Kevin Lynn Rice                                  Uvalda, Ga.                          Simple Battery (FVA)

 06/18     John Isiah McLain                              Uvalda, Ga.                          DUI, Failure to Maintain Lane


June 19--  For the third year in a row, WinShape Camp is coming to Vidalia.

The camps were founded nine years ago when Chic-fil-A founder Truett Cathy wanted a camp to "Shape Winners."  This year the week-long day camps are being held in nearly 100 communities across the country with Vidalia's camp starting Monday, June 26th at Sally Meadows Elementary School.

Marissa Brown helped get the first camp started in Vidalia in 2015. It attracted more than 500 campers and turned out to be the biggest camp in the country that year.  She first was a WinShape Camp counselor as a student at Brewton-Parker College.

"WinShape Camps are just different from every other camp.  Most camps you go off and get excited and you get to learn about Christ and build relationships.  When WinShape comes to town, we have local volunteers who are with these kids and who get to continue to invest and disciple and develop these kids who will be our future leaders one day. It also allows kids who wouldn't be able to go off to camp to have the same experience here in their hometown," she said.

This year the camp is seeking 550 campers from the first through ninth grades and Marissa believes it can change lives, "They get to be a part of villages which is all the kids in their age groups.  They can really ask questions and dig deep into who they really are and feel apart of something," she said.

The cost is $209 per camper and scholarships are available.  Preregistration is available online at  or campers can register in person the first day of camp.

For info, contact Tracy Todd with the local WinShape Leadership Team at 293-5327.



June 16--  The Georgia Court of Appeals has ruled that a Montgomery County Superior Court Judge erred when he refused to quash a burglary indictment against a former Montgomery County Sheriff's Deputy.

Deputy Todd Yancey was one of six people indicted for a burglary at the office of Montgomery County Sheriff Ladson O'Connor the night the sheriff was killed in a police chase auto accident.

In a decision issued today, the Court of Appeals ruled Superior Court Judge Frederick Mullis should have quashed Yancey's indictment because District Attorney Tim Vaughn denied Yancey the opportunity to testify before the Montgomery County grand jury which indicted him.

Yancey's attorney Susan Shook of Vidalia argued the District Attorney violated a state law that requires present or former peace officers be notified that an indictment is being considered and to appear before the grand jury during presentation of the state's case and to testify at the conclusion of the state's presentation.

The Appeals Court agreed with Shook and reversed the decision of Judge Mullis.

Shook says the DA now has to decide if he wants to seek another indictment against Yancey while giving him the opportunity to testify on his behalf.

She claims Yancey was helping authorities search for Jim Lowery, the man who has since been convicted of murder in the death of Sheriff O'Connor, and that Yancey entered O'Connor's office through an already-opened door to retrieve files which he thought might help in the search.

The other five indicted in the case are Mount Vernon Mayor Joey Fountain, Montgomery County manager Brandon Braddy, former Sheriff's office secretary Kathy Rudd and citizens Matthew Waller and Brent Braddy.

Files and a lock box were removed from the Sheriff's office.  One of the defendants, Kathy Rudd, has been quoted as saying the Sheriff had told her to secure the files and lock box if anything ever happened to him. 


June 16--  The Vidalia Board of Education congratulated members of the Vidalia High School Girls Golf Team at its June meeting. 

The Lady Indians have won the State AA Golf Championship for the last five years and in six of the last seven years.

golfgteamFront row - Sarah Warnock, Abby Bond, Jessie Dalton, Autumn Carter, and Reba Warnock.

Back Row - Coach Chad Barker, Abby Allmond, Deanna Glisson, Grace Draughn, Abigail Mosley and Madison Strickland.

June 16--  The Vidalia school board has approved a $55 million dollar budget for fiscal year 2018 which starts July 1.

When you take away $7 million in construction costs for the new Vidalia High School, the budget is a bit better than this fiscal year.  In 2017 the school board had to take $916,000 from reserves in order to balance the budget.  In 2018, that number is down to $408,000 and it would have been less were it not for increases in salaries, benefit and health insurance.

According to School Superintendent Dr. Garrett Wilcox, "The cost of healthcare has risen dramatically and that along with increases to the teacher retirement system created a $900,000 deficit.  Our expenditures were going to be $900,000 more in this coming year than they were the year before with no additional staff and that's been the tough part to deal with."

Dr. Wilcox says some of the deficit was reduced by not rehiring two half-time employees and by not filling one full time vacant position.

The school system's reserve fund is projected to be $2.9 millioin in fiscal year 2018.

The school board approved the following personnel actions.

Personnel Resignations: (effective end of 2016/17 school year)

  • Sean Sasser - SDM Principal
  • Clarence Washington - JDD Counselor
  • Jamie Carroll - JDD PreK Teacher
  • Brittany Helms - SDM 4th Grade Teacher
  • Karen Ferguson - VHS Cafeteria Worker

Personnel Recommendations: (for 2017/18 school year)

  • Anthony Payne - Bus Driver
  • Xavier Telfair - Bus Driver
  • Emma Salzer - VHS Math Teacher (49%)
  • Matthew Huddleston - JRT 8th Grade SS Teacher / Varsity Girls Basketball Coach
  • Hollie Mobley - SDM 3rd Grade Teacher
  • Ashley Boston - 4th Grade Math Teacher
  • Margaret Anne Garrett - JDD 1st Grade Teacher
  • Mallory Adams - JDD Special Education Teacher
  • Rachel Phillips - JDD PreK Teacher
  • Maranda Ellis - JDD Receptionist/P.E. Paraprofessional

June 15-- The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) announced today that the state’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate decreased for the fourth consecutive month to 4.9 percent in May, down one-tenth of a percentage point from 5 percent in April. The last time the state recorded a jobless rate as low as 4.9 percent was in October 2007. In May 2016, the rate was 5.3 percent.

“Georgia saw its unemployment rate dip below 5 percent for the first time in nearly 10 years, as more individuals gained jobs,” said State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “It’s a testament to the attractiveness of Georgia’s job market when we continue to see more and more individuals enter and re-enter the job market and find employment.” 

There were 9,685 more Georgians employed in May than in April, pushing the total number to another record of 4,788,627. The increase in the number of employed Georgians in May grew by 155,960 from May 2016.

From April to May, the labor force, which consists of employed residents and those who are unemployed and actively looking for jobs, increased by 3,664 to a record 5,034,975. As the number of employed residents rose, the number of jobless residents declined by 6,021 to 246,348. There were 14,239 fewer unemployed residents than in May 2016.

Meanwhile, the number of jobs in Georgia decreased by 3,800, or 0.1 percent, to 4,465,300. The losses were primarily seasonal jobs in professional and business services, 4,400, and leisure and hospitality, 2,200. Additional reductions came in manufacturing, 2,000; and other services such as repair, maintenance, laundry and personal services, 1,800; and information services, 1,000. The job losses were somewhat offset by growth in trade, transportation and warehousing, 3,400; government, 2,400; construction, 1,400; financial activities, 300; and education and health services, 100.  

Over-the-year, Georgia gained a total of 103,100 jobs, a 2.4 percent growth rate, up from 4,362,200 in May 2016. The federal job growth rate was 1.6 percent. Georgia’s job growth came in the following employment sectors: professional and business services, 23,100; trade, transportation and warehousing, 19,800; leisure and hospitality, 15,400; education and health services, 13,100; inancial activities, 9,900; government, 9,700; construction, 7,400; information services, 3,100; and manufacturing, 1,600. Other services lost 900 jobs.

The number of initial claims for unemployment insurance, a measure of new layoffs, increased by 3,234, or 14.9 percent, to 24,867. Most of the increase came in wholesale and retail trade, health care and social assistance, accommodations and food services, finance and insurance and professional, scientific and technical services. Over the year, claims were down by 5,458, or 18 percent, from 30,325 in May 2016.

Employ Georgia, the GDOL’s online job listing service at, showed 70,120 new job postings statewide for May.

June 14-- Twelfth District Congressman Rick Allen released the following statement in reaction to this morning’s shooting at the Congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Virgina.

“My thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by this morning’s senseless shooting at the Congressional baseball practice.

"As we continue to learn more about these events I hope everyone in Georgia-12 will join me in praying for a speedy recovery for House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, Zachary Barth, Matt Mika, Special Agent David Bailey and Special Agent Crystal Griner.

"I would also like to express my deep gratitude to Capitol Police for their bravery in the face of danger, and for always keeping me and my staff safe here in Washington, D.C.

“On a day like today, we are one united Congressional family. This senseless act of violence is inexcusable and I just thank God that it was not worse.”

June 14--  Bacon County farmers Julian Rigby, Jasper Allen and Benjamin Swain, as well as several entities owned by Rigby, agreed to pay up to $675,000 to resolve allegations that they violated and conspired to violate the False Claims Act. 

This settlement is the first False Claims Act recovery involving the United States Department of Agriculture’s crop insurance program in the history of the Southern District of Georgia.

This settlement resulted from an investigation initiated by the United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”).  On July 1, 2016, the United States filed an action in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia captioned United States of America v. Julian Rigby, et al., 5:16-CV-53. 

In its complaint, the United States contended that Rigby, Allen and Swain misrepresented and conspired to misrepresent the individuals who had an insured interest in an attempt to obtain more favorable coverage.  The United States also alleged that, after filing a claim for losses they supposedly suffered, Rigby, Allen and Swain submitted and conspired to submit false and fraudulent documents to the USDA to ensure payment. 

Acting United States Attorney James D. Durham said, “The federal crop insurance program serves an important role supporting farmers who suffer crop losses due to natural disasters.  This United States Attorney’s Office will root out anyone who seeks to manipulate the crop insurance program for personal gain.”

“Today’s announcement shows how, working alongside our partners in the Department of Justice, we will ensure the integrity of the crop insurance program for American taxpayers and producers alike,” said Heather Manzano, Acting Administrator for USDA’s Risk Management Agency.

The claims resolved by this settlement are allegations only; there has been no determination of liability, the government said.


Isakson Statement on Shooting at Congressional Baseball Practice

‘I hope that all Americans will join me in condemning this senseless act of violence against innocent lives’

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., today released the following statement after the shooting in Alexandria, Va., at the Republican practice for the annual charity congressional baseball game, scheduled for Thursday:

“Steve Scalise is a great friend, and I am praying for him, our Capitol Police officers, the staff members and all those involved in today’s terrible attack. I hope that all Americans will join me in condemning this senseless act of violence against innocent lives. Thank you to the U.S. Capitol Police, our first responders and all who rushed to aid the victims.”

June 14--  Vidalia Fire Chief Brian Sikes 25 calls for the department in the month of May. 

According to Chief Sikes, Vidalia firemen responded to three house fires, two building fires, three vehicle accidents, two grass fires, four power lines down and eleven false alarms.

June 14--  New city employees were introduced to the Vidalia City Council at its June meetnig Monday night.





(L-R)  Vidalia patrol officers Avdo Omerasevic, Cory Bell, Nick Luke, Chief Frank Waits and Dispatcher Fallon Williamson.




Fire Chief Brian Sikes (R) introduced new Fire Captain Matt Ragan (L) and new fireman Pete Phelps (center).








City Finance Director Bill Bedingfield introduced new utility billing clerk Tia Lunn.

June 14--  The City of Vidalia is getting out of the revolving loan business.

At it's monthly meeting Monday, the city council voted to pull out of the state-sponsored program which makes low cost loans available to local businesses in return for job creation or job retention.  Officials said it's hard to find businesses which qualify for the loans and repayment sometimes becomes a problem.

City Finance Director Bill Bedingfield reports the city currently has outstanding loans totaling $285,000 to three companies.  Two of the companies have defaulted and a third is in arrears, he said.

The cash balance of $164,000 in the account is being returned to the state.  In return, the city will receive five bonus points on its application for a $750,000 state grant to improve water and sewer in the city.

Meanwhile, Toombs County remains in the program and currently has $200,000 available to loan.

Michelle Johnson with the Toombs County Development Authority says the county has existing loans in good standing of $125,000 to U.S. Energy and $436,000 to Bo Herndon's Super Fit Greens produce company.

According to Bedingfield, the Georgia Department of Community Affairs has about $7 million dollars being held by more than 70 local governments and is encouraging them to return the money if it can't be used for viable loans.

In his financial report, Bedingfield noted:

*Most of the city's 2017 property taxes have been collected.  There's an outstanding unpaid balance of $162,224.74 which may lead to the sale of property at public auction in September.

*Sales tax collections are slightly ahead of last year, i.e., Local Option Sales Taxes are up .73 of one percent and Special Purpose Local Option Sales Taxes are up only .23 of one percent.

*Transportation Sales Tax collections are down to date from last year 1.19%.

*Hotel/Motel tax collections to date are down .40 of one percent.

*Tax collections on the sale of alcohol are down nearly 8% to date this year.

The council approved a recommendation from councilman Eddie Tyson, chairman of the Water and Sewer Committee, that fees for city labor and materials be increased regarding the installation of water meters and water, sewer and drainage lines.  Tyson said the city has been losing money on such installations.

City Manager Nick Overstreet reported:

*Construction of the Mose Coleman Road extension to Ezra Taylor Road is ready to proceed pending receipt of permits from the Army Corps of Engineers.

*Construction of the Michael Collins Road is being coordinated between city engineers and engineers for the proposed Holiday Inn Express.

*Construction of the Boys and Girls Club addition is complete except from some minor punch list fixes by the contractor.

*Renovation of City Hall is planned for Spring.

*Renovation of the Pal Theater is moving forward and should be completed in late Fall.

*The Darby Gym repainting and repairs have been completed by crews from the Department of Corrections which saved city funds.  Likewise, prison crews and equipment may be used to demolish the Bay Street pool later this year.

*Construction of the new city aquatic center on Airport Road has begun.

*Resurfacing of the parking lot at the Municipal Annex is scheduled to start in July by Sikes Brothers Paving and construction of a helipad and taxiway at the Vidalia Regional Airport by McLendon Enterprises is set to begin in mid-July.





June 14--  A ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday morning opened a new street in Lyons adjacent to Toombs County High School.

Parker Street Extension runs from Bulldog Road to Belvue Avenue which connects to Ezra Taylor Road.


Lyons Mayor Willis NeSmith says the $535,000 project was a cooperative effort with the Toombs County Commissioners, the Georgia Department of Transportation and the Toombs County school board.  He credited former Senator Tommie Williams for helping secure a $250,000 state grant with the balance financed by local sales tax collections.

Mayor NeSmith reports plans are to widen and curb and gutter Belvue Avenue in the next year or two, "We want to make it a more accessible friendly road so we'll have three different entrance ways to get onto Highway 280 then." 

June 13-- Vidalia Main Street has been designated as an accredited Main Street America™ program for meeting performance standards set by the National Main Street Center. 

mainstreetEach year, the National Main Street Center and its Coordinating Program partners announce the list of accredited Main Street America programs in recognition of their exemplary commitment to preservation-based economic development and community revitalization through the Main Street Approach®.

“It is a great honor to recognize this year’s 828 nationally Accredited Main Street America programs for their outstanding work to transform downtown and neighborhood commercial districts,” says Patrice Frey, President   & CEO of the National Main Street Center. “Main Streets are the heart of our communities, and the work they do to create quality public spaces, catalyze local entrepreneurship, and support downtown housing is more important than ever. Across the county, Main Street America programs truly strengthen the economic, social, and cultural fabric of their entire communities.”

 The organization’s performance is annually evaluated by Georgia Department of Community Affairs, Office of Downtown Development & Georgia Main Street Program, which works in partnership with the National Main Street Center to identify the local programs that meet ten performance standards. Evaluation criteria determines the communities that are building comprehensive and sustainable revitalization efforts and include standards such as fostering strong public-private partnerships, securing an operating budget, tracking programmatic progress and actively preserving historic buildings.

 Paula Dees-Toole, Main Street Director shares… "I can truly say partnership with the program has been the key to a successful Main Street program. The revitalization of our downtown historic district that we call “Main Street” has created a Southern town with charm and character.

"The City of Vidalia, private investors, business owners and community staying connected, helps accomplish these goals. The Downtown Vidalia Association and Vidalia Main Street, combined in 1989 as one entity shares in a vibrant downtown lifestyle creating enthusiasm for those who work, live and visit our city. Together we celebrate the economic impact Main Street has provided for Vidalia."

Ross Kelly, President of Downtown Vidalia “Main Street” Association said, “We as an association are reminded of the importance of teamwork. Teamwork could be one of the most important words I feel used to describe the vision of the founders of the Downtown Vidalia “Main Street “Association. A vision that today’s members very proudly portray in their day-to-day duties and interaction with others, providing assets that affect the overall strength of the association itself.

"As President, I can’t think of a time at a meeting where one member stressed a concern or need and another member hasn't quickly flown to the relief of the needy member with ideas or offerings of help. All this is done in the name of charity and good will because our association is a voluntary one!

"There are more advantages to being part of such an organization other than the monetary ones. To work alongside like and different minded, goal driven individuals who at the drop of a hat put aside their own wants and needs for the benefit of their community, their fellow business owner, their customers and each other is one of the greatest feats I see that our great little association has been able to accomplish with ease, led by the “Main Street” approach”.

Vision Statement

Historic Downtown Vidalia takes its place as a vibrant center of community activity. People who live, work and visit appreciate its rich heritage, delight in its places of business and feel the heartbeat of Vidalia-Toombs County’s Future.

Mission Statement

  • Planned economic development, historic preservation, and promotional efforts help to develop existing resources, promote growth, and bring prosperity to our community through increased activity and participation of its member’s downtown and beyond.
  • To increase harmony and unity in Vidalia, by coordinating efforts of individual groups, locally and utilizing resources from State & National Main Street…4-Point Approach*.
  • We recognize that downtown Vidalia is the key to preserving our heritage, and that it serves as the concerted, organized voice for accomplishing specific goals for the betterment of our community.


June 13--  Dodge County's Rhine Drug Company and Andrew “Carter” Clements, Jr. agreed to pay a total of $2.175 million to resolve allegations that they violated the False Claims Act and the Controlled Substances Act. 

This settlement is the largest False Claims Act recovery with a pharmacy or pharmacist and largest recovery of civil penalties under the Controlled Substances Act in the history of the Southern District of Georgia.

Based on its investigation, the United States contended that Rhine Drug Company and Clements violated the False Claims Act by submitting claims to Medicare for drugs that Rhine Drug Company did not dispense to patients.  The United States further contended that Rhine Drug Company and Clements violated the Controlled Substances Act by negligently failing to make, keep, or furnish certain records as required by federal law. 

Acting United States Attorney James Durham said, “Pharmacists are supposed to bill only for what they dispense and they’re to keep accurate records of the prescription drugs they let walk out of their pharmacies.  This U. S. Attorney’s Office will hold accountable those pharmacists and pharmacies that seek financial gain at the expense of the public by cutting corners.” 

“Billing Medicare for prescription drugs that were never dispensed to patients is a serious allegation,” said Derrick L Jackson, Special Agent in Charge of the HHS-OIG Office in Atlanta.  “Our agency, in concert with our law enforcement partners, is dedicated to safeguarding the integrity of all federally funded health care programs.”

“Americans rely on medical professionals, to include pharmacists and pharmacy owners, to keep accurate records of controlled substances, and the DEA is committed to stopping individuals from engaging in such unlawful acts,” said Daniel R. Salter, the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division.  “We are satisfied that Rhine Drug Company and Clements are being held accountable for their alleged violations of the law.”

Rhine Drug Company and Clements fully cooperated with the investigation and promptly approached the United States to reach a resolution.  The claims resolved by this settlement are allegations only; there has been no determination of liability.  While this settlement fully resolves the allegations against Clements and Rhine Drug Company, investigations remain ongoing as to others.


Today, June 13th, the U.S. Government announced the settlement of a civil matter involving Rhine Drug Company. It all began in 2015. Rhine Drug Company has admitted no fault as part of the settlement.

 In the wake of the settlement, Rhine Drug Company owner and pharmacist, Carter Clements, issued the following statement:

 “Rhine Drug Company has proudly served middle and south-central Georgia since 1906, when my great-great-great-uncle first opened for business. Over those 111 years, and through four generations of pharmacists, we have worked hard every day to earn and keep the trust of each of our customers, who depend on us to be there for them and their families. Though we do not believe that we have done anything wrong and therefore did not accept any fault in the settlement, this matter has been stressful and costly. Now that the matter is closed, we can now return our attention to what matters most: seeing to the best health and livelihoods of our patients and their families. We also look forward to continuing our quest to be the best. A truly excellent ultra-rural pharmacy with a staff striving to show our patients, and even the government, what amazing innovative potential we have.”

 “Blessedly, the matter has not affected, and the settlement will not affect, any aspect of the pharmacy, including our staff, services or hours. We are grateful to our patient community for allowing us to care for your families, friends and neighbors for over a century, and we look forward to continuing working hard every day for many years to come.”

June 13-- John R. Tibbetts, an economics teacher from Worth County High School in Sylvester, is the 2018 Georgia Teacher of the Year, State School Superintendent Richard Woods announced today. As Georgia Teacher of the Year, Tibbetts will serve as an advocate for public education in Georgia.

teacher17Georgia School Superintendent Richard Woods (left) said, “I am grateful to Mr. Tibbetts for his service to our country and his service to the students of Georgia, and I’m honored to recognize him as the 2018 Georgia Teacher of the Year. Throughout the application process, it’s been clear that Mr. Tibbetts is both an exemplary teacher and an individual who is concerned, first and foremost, about the success and potential of every student who enters his classroom. I look forward to working with him to tell the story of all the great work taking place in Georgia’s public schools.”

 Tibbetts graduated from the United States Military Academy and went on to serve for 21 years as an officer in the U.S. Army. During his time in the military, he was stationed overseas for more than five years, including service in Desert Storm, Turkey, and Afghanistan.

Following his military service, Tibbetts spent time working in the private sector but ultimately decided to pursue a teaching career– first at Tift County High School and later at Worth County High, where he currently teaches economics.

“As much as any subject taught in high school, economics is part of the very fabric of our daily lives and relevant to what is currently ongoing in the world around us,” he wrote in his Teacher of the Year application. “Teaching economics provides the opportunity to affect our students’ livelihoods, quality of life, and their futures.”

Tibbetts holds a B.S. in Computer Science from the United States Military Academy and a Master of Military Art and Science, Operational Art from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, School of Advanced Military Studies. He has served as a presenter at the National Council for History Education (NCHE) National Convention and the NCHE History Colloquium, and is a Teacher Academy for Preparation and Pedagogy (TAPP) Mentor at Worth County High School. In his time away from school, he is active in his church and is a Georgia High School Association (GHSA) certified wrestling referee.

In the classroom, Tibbetts seeks to create a thought-provoking, challenging, and enjoyable academic experience for students. He focuses on hands-on, active-learning activities that allow students to connect with economic concepts through classroom simulations.

“I suspect every teacher has experienced that lightbulb moment in the classroom when one knows the students have engaged and truly understand the material,” Tibbetts wrote in his application. “Last year, I was approached late in the day by an assistant principal who asked, ‘Mr. Tibbetts, what’s with all the paper cups at lunch?’ The lesson that day involved ‘manufacturing’ paper cups from a sheet of paper to demonstrate the concepts behind the Gross Domestic Product. The [assistant principal] reported that senior football players were proudly showing off their newfound skills at lunch to amaze their tablemates by folding a paper cup and demonstrating it would hold milk without spilling a drop. I was as proud as I could be.”

In a Q&A with GaDOE, Tibbetts described great teachers as possessing the following character traits: “Empathy, patience, and a pinch of stubbornness, as well as a healthy sense of humor.”

As Georgia Teacher of the Year, Tibbetts will represent Georgia teachers by speaking to the public about the teaching profession and potentially conducting workshops and programs for educators. He will also participate in the competitive selection process for the 2018 National Teacher of the Year.

June 12-- In a combined effort of local Crafter's for Christ participants, 115 ministry bears have been created to accompany  Kristin Sharpe on her annual mission trip to Haiti  June 26th - July 3rd.   Sharpe and others will travel to Haiti to share the Gospel, perform ministry tasks, and construction duties. 

Sharpe tells of her last trip, "Sometimes we will go into homes that don't have floors, or if they do, they are dirt."  As for the use of the bears, she stated, "The bears are going to be used as gifts to the children we come into contact with.  These children don't have much at all and are very appreciative and get extremely excited when we are able to bring gifts."

bears(Pictured L-R) Front: Evelyn James, Kathy Profitt, Carolina Lillard, Kristin Sharpe

Back: Carolyn Cooper (FUMC Lyons), Betty Collins, Beverly Cherry (Tabernacle Baptist), Marjorie Albritton

The project, which took the Crafters' over a month to complete, resulted in 115 stuffed bears that bear the saying, "Jezi renmen w" which means, "Jesus Loves You" in the native Creole language.

Although the deadline is fast approaching, Sharpe still lacks about $600 in needed funding for the trip.  Anyone interested in donating to her mission trip may contact Rev. Chester Proctor at Smith Street Baptist Church at 912-537-8661 or by sending their donation to 503 Smith Street, Vidalia Ga 30474 in c/o Kristin Sharpe Mission Trip.

The Crafter's for Christ is a Smith Street Baptist Church ministry open to everyone and meets at 10am every Tuesday morning at Smith Street Baptist Church.

June 12--  Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

0612 3

0612 2

0612 1

June 12--  Toombs County is one of six in the state to be named a "County of Distinction" by the Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG).

toombslogoRoss King is the Association's Executive Director and says the choice was made based on the community's vision to provide quality healthcare in rural Georgia.

"You have outstanding local leadership and attentiveness to critical issues such as healthcare.  You've got a regional pulse and a consistency that's going on.  I've been in this business for 30 years with the ACCG and I've always known of the heartbeat which exists in your part of the state.  You should take great pride.  It's not something that is easily earned and certainly it's challenging to maintain it over an extended period of time, but it has happened in your region and for that reason you should be very proud," he said.

The six "Counties of Distinction" were highlighted in the June edition of Georgia Trend magazine and spotlighted Toombs County because of the success of Meadows Regional Medical Center in Vidalia.

Meadows CEO Alan Kent says, "A lot things that have happened here with regard to healthcare I don't believe could have happened in any other community.  They happened because we have a very engaged community with great leadership at the elected level, at the appointed level, at the volunteer level, at the business level and at church and civic clubs. 

"I think what we do in the hospital is just an integrated part of that.  We have such a fertile environment that the things that need to happen in healthcare have just found a good home in Toombs County to be able to flourish.  I really think those things don't happen in the average rural community." 

The other five counties chosen by ACCG include Augusta-Richmond County for the national cyber security initiative at Fort Gordon, Fulton County for transportation investments, Muscogee County for court system reforms, Oglethorpe County for dollars saved with self-paving projects and DeKalb County for homeless veterans assistance.

Excerpt from Georgia Trend Magazine, June 2017

Toombs County

Vision Becomes Reality

At a time when demographics and healthcare economics are stressing Georgia’s rural hospitals, Vidalia’s Meadows Regional Medical Center (MRMC) is in a spot as sweet as the region’s famous onions. The roots of success for Toombs County’s nonprofit and self-funded hospital stretch back to 2000.

That’s when Meadows took a different approach from the typical rural hospital focus on primary care and began emphasizing specialty medicine. Since then, Meadows’ medical system, which includes a cancer center and outpatient facilities, leapt to 1,100 employees from 376. Its 57 beds now average more than 80 percent occupancy, its ER treats 35,000-plus patients a year and the staff delivers almost 900 babies annually, according to President and CEO Alan Kent.

“If we’ve had a visionary idea, it’s been to have a more regional than local focus,” says Kent. “We are more remote from a tertiary care [highly specialized] hospital than most of the state. So, we tried to step into that gap.”

Meadows did that by becoming what Kent believes is Georgia’s smallest hospital providing a cardiac catheterization lab, medical and surgical specialties and maternal and pediatric services. As a result, Meadows, the only accredited hospital in Montgomery, Toombs, Treutlen and Tattnall counties, routinely recruits doctors from medical schools such as Emory, Vanderbilt and Dartmouth who want to practice their specialty without big-city hassles.

Meadows didn’t travel the path to success alone. “The biggest thing we’ve done is we’ve been a community-based organization,” says Kent. “When recruiting doctors and growing a hospital, it’s a community event. And we have a very engaged community with outstanding leadership that extends way beyond the hospital.” That community, he emphasizes, includes elected and appointed officials and business, civic and church leaders.

The hospital’s success has numerous local benefits, says Toombs County Manager John Jones. “As one of the largest employers, MRMC provides residents an opportunity for a career in the medical field with pay above the local norm. In addition, our residents are provided a higher level of care that otherwise would require lengthy travel.”



June 10-- Southeastern Technical College is proud to announce its 2017 spring semester President’s List. These students earned a 3.75 GPA or higher for the semester:


Erin Jones


Robin Dozier



Juan Alvarez



Amber Ely


Brian Zepeda-Castano


David Wright


Devin Hall


James Canady


Joshua Rowland


Marshall Williamson


Meghan Miller


Rebecca Durden


Starkayla Sanders


Jeff Davis

Austin Carter


Brenda Herrera


James Pope


Oscar Hernandez



Victor Chance



Saul Bocanegra


Tiffany Carter

Amber Gamiza

Brooke Kersey



Jessica Barber



Nicholas Toole


Guillermo Sanchez


Julie Yawn



Dorsey Williams


Michael Cranford


Noelia Santana


Robert Lawson




Katherine Knight


Abigail Lynn


Brian McDaniel


Christian Wheeler


Cierra Howell


Corey Lawler


Cynthia Edwards


Demetrice Baker


Destiny Taylor


Dylan Oglesby


Georganna Tippett


Jacob Pittman


Jennifer Gillis


Juan Giron


Kandiss Horton


Katie Norfleet


Kristin Crawford


Matthew Tracy


Melissa Orellana


Melissa Stephens


Michael Taylor


Morgan Taylor


Ramon Delgado


Yash Patel


Zean Lopez



Amanda White


Jesse White



Sarah Trenerry


June 9-- The Montgomery County School Nutrition Program is hosting a summer nutrition program for Montgomery County. The food is ordered, prepared and packaged by the School Nutrition Program for all children up to age 18 to receive a free lunch.

USDA’s Seamless Summer Nutrition Program bridges the gap by providing FREE food to kids at parks and recreation areas, churches, and other sites in the community during the summer.

We have several approved sites and times.

They are as follows:

Monday- Thursday, through June 29.

Montgomery County Recreation Department 401 West Morrison St. Mt. Vernon, GA 30445

Montgomery Elementary Cafeteria: 900 MLK Drive Ailey, GA 11:30-12:30

Northside Ailey Park: 126 MLK Drive Mt. Vernon, GA 3044511:00-11:30

Montgomery County High School 701C Dobbins Street Mt. Vernon 30445 11:30-12:00

Flipper-New Hope AME Church 313 MLK Street Uvalda, GA 30473 11:30 AM -12:00 PM

This is a wonderful opportunity to help our children this summer! For more information about sites please contact Catherine Parten at 912-245-4576.

June 9-- Anna McComas, a rising Senior at Robert Toombs Christian Academy, has been accepted in the University of Alabama’s Undergraduate Admissions Early College program.

annamccomasUniversity of Alabama Early College students are high school students from across the United States who earn college credit online and are eligible for the UA Early College Summer On Campus program.

Anna will attend the second summer session on the campus of UA and continue in the Early College Program  online during her high school senior year at RTCA. 

Anna plans to apply for acceptance as a Freshman for the Fall 2018 at UA and pursue a degree in Bachelor of Science in Nutrition with a premedical concentration.

June 9--  State Senator Jack Hill of Reidsville has good news regarding the state's economy.


With Individual Income Tax receipts increasing 17.6%, May's state revenues shone a sunny overall increase of 10.3% in a month that has helped the state start to catch up on rainfall. Total revenues of $1.7 billion produced a gain of $161.5 million for the month. Individual Income Tax refunds were down $51.3 million for the month, a good start.  Withholding Taxes were up 10.1%, a positive reflecting payroll increases.

Net Sales Tax growth continued consistent, up 3.5% for the month.  Corporate income taxes were also positive for the month, up 23.2%.  Title Ad Valorem tax fees were negative at -3.1%.  Tobacco tax collections were up 10.7%, but alcoholic beverages were down -1.9%.

Motor Fuel Taxes were up slightly at 1.1% on revenues of $146.8 million for the month.  Highway Impact Fees were down minus -18.5% and Hotel/Motel Fees were flat at 0.1%.  Altogether, the transportation related taxes and fees were up a total of $1.399 million for the month.


Unless there is a huge glut of unpaid refunds lurking out there, FY 2017, closing at the end of June, will see another excellent year of growth for the state. The eleven month revenue total is just shy of $20 billion, at $19.787 billion.  Overall revenue collections are running some $880.3 million ahead of the same 11 months a year ago.  That 4.7% growth is very healthy for the state.

Individual Income Taxes have come in at a very respectable 5.4% rate with corporate tax collections still negative at -3.0%.

Net Sales Taxes are growing at a robust 4.4%. Title Ad Valorem Taxes show a healthy growth of $51.8 million or 6.1% YTD.  Tobacco and Alcoholic Tax collections are both positive at 0.1% and 1.3% respectively.

Motor Fuel Tax collections are up $84.6 million or 5.6% with Impact Fees up 11.1% and Hotel/Motel fees up 15.1% for the 11 months.  Altogether, HB 170 taxes and fees are up $106.6 million year-to-date.


With a month to go in FY 2017, Georgia's revenues exceed the budget appropriated by about $276.3 million.  Any way you figure it, a 12 month trailing average or the 11 months of this fiscal year, state revenues are growing at a healthy 4.7% rate.  And this year, the growth attributed to HB 170, the Transportation tax bill, has slowed and makes up only about .5% of the 4.7% overall non-transportation tax revenues are growing at a healthy 4.2% or so.

Georgia is actually pretty close to the large net revenue growth months of a year ago as transportation taxes and fee growth have slowed month over month. The overall net growth rate in Georgia of about 4.2% is excellent and an indication of the healthy Georgia economy.

June 9-- The executives of Southern Company, the utility holding company headquartered in Atlanta, have been involved in two of the biggest boondoggles in U.S. industrial history.

Georgia Power, the largest of Southern’s subsidiaries, is bogged down with the construction of two nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle that are about $3.6 billion over budget and nearly four years behind schedule.

The first Vogtle unit was supposed to have started providing electricity to Georgia Power customers by April 2016, but nary a kilowatt has been generated.

Mississippi Power, a smaller subsidiary of the Southern Company, can top that.

The company started construction of an experimental coal gasification plant in Kemper County seven years ago that was supposed to cost $2.9 billion and start generating electricity by the end of 2015.

The Mississippi Power facility instead is clocking in at $7.3 billion in construction costs – a number that is still going up. Like the nuclear units at Vogtle, the Kemper plant has yet to begin operations as originally planned.

In many businesses, project failures of that scale would result in dismissals or pay cuts. But not at Southern Company – their top executives saw their annual compensation increase by millions of dollars.

Here is how the three top corporate officials were rewarded in 2016:

• Southern Company CEO Tom Fanning saw his total compensation increase by nearly 34 percent to $15.8 million. 

• Art Beattie, Southern’s executive vice president, enjoyed an even heftier 37 percent increase in his compensation to $5.4 million. 

• Georgia Power President Paul Bowers ended up with a 36 percent boost in his compensation package to $5.8 million. 

I’ll interject a personal note here. I once worked for a utility holding company similar in size to Southern Company. If I had been responsible for a project that ran billions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule, I can guarantee you they would not have given me a pay raise. They would have fired me.

The subject of executive pay hikes is obviously an embarrassing one for Southern Company. Their media spokesmen declined to comment when I asked about the rationale for giving such large increases in the face of mounting problems at the corporation’s two largest projects.

If you read the company’s recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, you’ll see a sentence that claims the executives were given those handsome pay increases because they “demonstrated significant progress in the major construction projects, Kemper IGCC and Vogtle Units 3 and 4.”

Both of these projects fell farther behind schedule and over budget last year. In what alternate universe would that be considered “significant progress”?

As with everything else associated with Vogtle’s cost overruns, Georgia Power’s customers are the ones who will ultimate pay for this in the form of higher bills. 

That’s because the Public Service Commission has declined to exercise any real oversight of the project, instead allowing Georgia Power to pass it all along to their customers.

But the situation may be changing next year. 

Atlanta business owner and former Democratic legislator John Noel has announced that he’ll run for the PSC seat currently held by Chuck Eaton. 

Noel said the massive cost overruns at Plant Vogtle will be one of the defining issues in the race.

“There has been a lack of proper oversight for certain recent projects and it’s time for that to change,” Noel said. 

“There is no excuse for something that is paid for by Georgia ratepayers, that’s billions of dollars over budget, and that’s years behind schedule and is at risk of never providing benefit for the little guys and everyday people who’ve footed the bill,” he added.

I think you’ll also see a credible opponent step up and take on Stan Wise, if Wise should decide to run again next year.

As mentioned before, the Vogtle cost overruns affect not only the customers of Georgia Power, but also the customers of the other partners in the nuclear project: Oglethorpe Power, MEAG Power, and the City of Dalton.

PSC members have steadfastly refused to hold Georgia Power accountable for the boondoggle that is enriching its executives at the same time it is draining its customers’ pocketbooks.

Voters may have something to say about that in next year’s elections.

tomcrawford  Tom Crawford covers government and politics in Georgia. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

palmersopertonJune 9--  Palmer and Associates of Vidalia is opening a new office in Soperton.  Jeffrey Palmer has partnered with Lance Hooks of Soperton to open the new insurance agency and investment business in the Million Pines city.

June 9--  The third Thursday of each month Georgia Tire in Vidalia donates all proceeds from oil changes that day to a local charity.

thirdthusmayIn May Georgia Tire Manager Morris Moses presented a $500 check to United Way Executive Director Patricia Dixon to benefit the United Way of Toombs, Montgomey and Wheeler Counties.

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

Page, Peyton Ray- W/M-17 YOA- 3501 US Hwy 221 N Mt. Vernon, GA 30445- Possession Of Marijuana Less Than Ounce/ Seatbelt Violation/ Driving Without License On Person

Turner, Brenda Brantley- W/F-55 YOA- 303 Jerriel Street Apt F7 Vidalia, GA- Theft By Shoplifting 1st Offense

Rodriguez, Lucero - H/F 27 YOA/ 607 E. Sixth St. Vidalia Ga./ No Driver’s License, No Proof Of Insurance

Mitchell, Christopher S - W/M 20 YOA/ 2612 Ga. Hwy 152 Lyons, Ga. / Driving While License Suspended or Revoked, Leaving the Scene of an Accident, Failure to Yield at Intersection

Hester, Trevor Vincent- W/M- 21 YOA- 2315 HWY 56E Lyons, GA- Failure to Maintain Lane/No Driver’s License/ DUI- 1st Offense

Miller, Eric Jamie - W/M 40 YOA/ 209 Epstein St. Vidalia, Ga./ Tampering With Water Meter

Thomas, Eddie Roy- B/M- 56 YOA- 303 Peachtree St Apt B Vidalia, GA- Possession Of Marijuana Less Than Ounce, Simple Assault

June 9--  An Atlanta group which supports state-funded school choice has issued a report card grading lawmakers on their votes during the last session of the Georgia General Assembly.

The Georgia Center for Opportunity gave State Representative Greg Morris of Vidalia an "A" grade and awarded State Senator Blake Tillery of Vidalia a "C."

sentillerydesk"I think everyone at the Capitol has a little bit of an angle when they print one of these things but that doesn't concern me.  At the end of the day, I'm worried about the folks back here in District 19 who are voting and not the scorecards that folks are passing out in Atlanta," Senator Tillery noted.

Even though Senator Tillery voted for four of the group's six issues, he got dinged for the two he voted against.

School Vouchers

"Vouchers very well may have a place in Georgia, particularly in inner city communities, however, my district's eleven counties are much more rural and folks still feel like they can talk with their school board members, their principals and their teachers.  Folks in DeKalb and Clayton don't feel like that and that's where you're seeing more of the voucher push.

"At the same time, if folks here overwhelmingly support that idea and I start hearing about that, that's something I'll spend a lot more time trying to learn and understand as well, but that's not what I've heard right now.

"We're going to do a questionnaire and send it out to people in the district this Fall preparing for the session coming up in January.  We're going to ask that question again and if those results start to change and people become more concerned about this, then obviously I will to," Senator Tillery said.

Georgia GOAL Scholarships

Senator Tillery voted against an amendment which would have removed a cap on fees which private companies could have charged schools for helping them obtain the scholarships.

"Actually I supported raising the cap on the scholarships, but I voted no on removing the proposed cap on fees. If an entity finds that money for a school, they can charge a finders fee to do so .  The Senate put a cap of 3.5% on the finder fee.  I thought this money was supposed to be going to schools and students and a 3.5% finder fee sounds like plenty to me," he said.

June 8--  Anthony Tyrone Roper, 55, an active duty Colonel with the U. S. Army stationed at Fort Gordon; Audra Roper, 49, the wife of Colonel Roper; and Dwayne Oswald Fulton, 58, a former employee of a defense contracting firm, were indicted this week by a federal grand jury sitting in Savannah, Georgia for their alleged roles in a bribery and kickback scheme.  Each of the Defendants reside in Augusta, Georgia.  According to the allegations contained in the Indictment, beginning in 2008 and lasting almost a decade, Colonel Anthony Roper conspired with his wife, Fulton and others to solicit and accept cash bribes in exchange for rigging the award of over $20 million in U. S. Army contracts to selected individuals and companies.  The indictment further alleges that in an attempt to hide their bribery and fraud schemes, the Defendants attempted to obstruct an official investigation into their criminal conduct.     

Colonel Roper was charged with one count of conspiracy, three counts of bribery, four counts of false statements and one count of obstruction, with a maximum sentence of 85 years in prison and a $1.75 million fine.  Audra Roper was charged with one count of conspiracy, one count of false statements and one count of obstruction, with a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison and a $750,000 fine.  Fulton was charged with one count of conspiracy and one count of obstruction, with a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.  An indictment is only an accusation and is not evidence of guilt.  The Defendants are entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the Government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

June 8-- 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 May the awards were presented to Donnie Barrow of Robert Toombs Christian Academy and Joycelyn Walker of Toombs County High School.

lionsstudentmay17(Left to Right) Lions Club President Robbie Rosier, RTCA teacher Adam Callaway, RTCA student Donnie Barrow and RTCA Assistant Headmaster Hayne Brant.  Miss Walker was unable to attend the presentation ceremony.

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

June 8--  It's been three years since Chris Wiggins was murdered during a holdup of his convenience store in Santa Claus and his family is increasing the reward with the hope that somebody will step forward with information to help close the case.

His mother Dale Wiggins says, "We're not going to let it go. There is a reward and there is a family member who has offered another $2,000 out of his personal account if someone comes forth.  That would make the reward over $8,500.  Anybody who has any information, we need to know it.  You may not think it's important, but it could be important."

chriswigginsWiggins, shown here with his girlfriend Melanie Powell, was 49 years old at the time of his death and would have been 50 the next week.

Mrs. Wiggins says she's heard nothing lately from investigators, "Alvie (Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight) was real good when I was in the Santa Claus store to stop by and tell me anything they had found.  They did send off some guns they were hopiong to match the bullets recovered in the store from the shooting, but they didn't match.  I have been told about some information that's being checked on and whether it's true or not, I don't know, but we'll see."

Sheriff Kight encourages anyone with information to come forward, "I would have thought the reward would have helped and maybe making it higher will get somebody's head spinning. If anybody knows something, please give us a call.  We'll keep your name anonymous so we can work this thing out.  We'd certainly like to hear from you.  We're just waiting on that one bit of information to pull this thing together so we can make an arrest.  If they know anything, even if they think its street talk, call us and let us talk to you so we can find out what's going on."

If you know anything about the Chris Wiggins case, call CrimeStoppers at 912-386-4480.


June 7--  The 4th Annual Miss Georgia Olive Scholarship Pageant was held Saturday at Southeastern Technical College in Vidalia.

gaolive17The 2017 winners are (front row, L-R) Little Miss Sailor Monroe and Tiny Miss  Chloe Morris; (back row, L-R) Petite Miss Meri Alyce Statham, Miss Georgia Olive 2017 Madison Lucas, Teen Miss Hannah Herndon and Junior Miss Addilyn Marsh.

The Miss Georgia Olive Scholarship Program focuses on the importance of education in young women and giving back to their community through volunteering.

The Miss Georgia Olive receives a $500 scholarship.

millionpineribbonJune 7--  Ribbon cutting ceremonies for the new Million Pines Community Bank were held in downtown Vidalia Tuesday afternoon at the corner of Church and Meadows Streets.  The bank is a division of the Bank of Soperton.

Mr. Jim L. (Jimmy) Gillis, III cut the ribbon.

June 7--  The City of Lyons is considering its options regarding upgrades to its two water and sewage treatment plants.

The North Plant primarily serves the U.S. Number One Industrial Park and needs an increase in capacity to satisfy environmental regulations and to meet the needs of Chicken of the Sea and future growth in the park. 

The East Plant's primary customers are residential, but it also needs to be updated, according to Lyons Mayor Willis NeSmith, "We've got to renovate the East Plant and, at a minimum, we've got to renovate the North Plant.  We're looking at anywhere from $4 to $6 million just to do that even if we don't increase our capacity at the North Plant.  We're having to make a decision on what we can do because we have to look at the future of the industrial park. If we get any other industry in like Chicken of the Sea which is a big water user then they'll be sending wastewater to us also and we've got to be able to handle that."

The city's engineering firm, Hofsteader and Associates, was at a called meeting of the city council Monday and said the best option would increase capacity at the North Plant to 1.5 million gallons a day and cost nearly $15 million.

Mayor NeSmith says the city can't afford that proposal but may be able to afford increasing capacity up to a million gallons a day at the North Plant and upgrading the East Plant at a total cost of between $8 and $9 million.

Another option would be to pipe some of the wastewater from the Industrial Park to the East Plant to lessen the load on the North Plant, the Mayor says.

The council is planning a work session June 20 to further consider its options and hopes to vote on a plan at its July 18 meeting.

Whatever the final decision, Mayor NeSmith says property owners don't have to worry about a tax increase, "Property taxes have nothing to do with any of this.  We're mainly going to be doing all of this out of our water and sewer revenues.  We're really aren't even going to be using our Special Purpose Local Option Sales Taxes (SPLOST), we'll use that like a rainy day fund and use it only for emergency purposes."

The project timeline calls for the city to get its plans to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) by the end of August, get an approved plan back from EPD in the November-December time frame and seek construction bids early in 2018.


June 6--  The May term of the Toombs County grand jury returned 24 indictments when it met last Tuesday, May 30.

1.  Donald Ray Thomas was indicted for raping a girl under the age of ten, enticing a child for indecent purposes and child molestation.

2.  Eric Brandon Rhymes was indicted for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and two counts of obstructing an officer by striking two Vidalia police officers.

3.   Jeremye Daquan Eason was indicted for two counts of theft by taking a 9mm gun from Brian Frederick and a .357 pistol from Thomas Spell and two counts of entering their automobiles.

4.  Stephen Rasean Corouthers was indicted for child molestation and sexual battery.

5.  Keith Lee Weeks was indicted for aggravated assault of Michael Jason Cook by cutting him with a knife.

6.  Indictments were returned against Ashleigh Hope Clark, Ricky Ray Cole and Crystal Lee Yates possession of methamphetamine on May 13, 2015.

7.  Marcus Tyler Kirby was indicted on two counts of theft by taking two weapons from Michael S. Smith, entering an automobile and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

8.  Andrew Harris Jr. was indicted for possession of cocaine and theft by shoplifting from Dollar General in Vidalia.

9.  John David Barwick was indicted for burglary in the second degree by entering a storage shed owned by Terry Gordy in Toombs County and for theft by taking tools from Charles and Sandra Screws.

10.  Charles Tavaris James was indicted for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of cocaine and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

11.  Terry Lamar Mobley was indicted for possession of marijuana and fleeing Lyons police.

12.  Noel Rudov, aka Jose Luis Lira, was indicted for theft by shoplifting at Walmart in Vidalia.

13.  Xavier Jaquan Jackson was indicted for theft by receiving stolen property, possession of Alprazolam and giving false information.

14.  Ricardo Armando Zapata was indicted for possession of methamphetamine.

15.  Lawrence Gable Moye was indicted for criminal damage to property and tearing down a mailbox by throwing a bottle and hitting a vehicle owned by Marvin McIntyre and tearing down a mailbox owned by Ron Hall of Vidalia.

16.  Randall Dean Boyd was indicted for aggravated assault, battery and stalking Angela Spivey of Vidalia.

17.  Tyshawn M. Calloway was indicted for burglary in the first degree for entering the home of Linda Branch Fountain at 606 West Street in Vidalia.

18.  Jeramie Devonair Eason was indicted for aggravated assault and battery by shooting Melvin Spikes, Jr. in his left leg.

19.  Duncan Scott Wallace was indicted for theft by taking merchandise valued at more than $5,000 from Hibbett Sporting Goods in Vidalia.

20.  Megan Leah Grimes was indicted on two counts of cruelty to children in the first degree by threatening to use and using an electronic taser on two children under the age of 18.

21.  Michelle Suzanne Sikes was indicted on two counts of cruelty to children by allowing Megan Leah Grimes to obtain an electronic taser and threaten to use it on two children under the age of 18.

22.  Demetrius Beshone Sharpe was indicted for obstruction of Vidalia police officer Sherwin Bell and driving under the influence.

23.  Schrone McLendon was indicted for aggravated assault and criminal trespass for assaulting Malik Daniels with a box cutter and for cutting a tire on a car owned by Jaquetta Powell of  Vidalia.









June 6--  Post 18 of the Georgia State Patrol in Reidsville reports the following activity in the month of May.





Traffic Crashes












Traffic Tickets




DUI Arrests




Speeding Tickets




Seat Belt Tickets




Child Restraint Tickets








June 6-- “I would’ve never thought it was possible,” states Michael Henderson, a former Electronics Technology student from Southeastern Technical College who now works as System Administrator at Chicken of the Sea.

After a serious car accident, Michael returned to Vidalia and began working at a local retail outlet. Knowing he wanted a change, he contemplated going back to school to pursue a career in electronics.

Henderson started his journey in the Electronics Technology degree program at STC. Under the guidance of instructor William “Chip” Greene, he learned practical knowledge about computer software, installation, and support. “Learning under Chip was a great experience,” states Michael. “He gave me the confidence I needed to continue to succeed in the program.”

Michael also participated in the Work Study program allowing him access to hands-on experience in his field. By providing the latest electronic technology and numerous experience opportunities, STC provided him with skills that prepared him for his future career endeavors.

While working on his Electronics degree at STC, Michael accepted a job at Chicken of the Sea working alongside other IT professionals to provide computer support across three locations in Lyons. Within the last five years, he has further advanced his career with a promotion to Systems Administrator. He now mentors new IT employees and oversees IT needs across the other two companies: US Pet Nutrition and Lyons Warehouse.

stcelephantIn March, he was able to represent Chicken of the Sea in Thailand to participate in an IT Conference about his work in electronics. “It was quite an experience,” states Henderson. “It really showed me that the work I do isn’t only local, it affects all global markets.” He states that the conference was so impressed with Chicken of the Sea that they have contemplated the implementation of their ideas at the Thailand location, as well as, international locations across Europe.

Today, Michael continues his work at Chicken of the Sea and owes his motivation to his two children, Arden and Aiden, and his wife Kelly. He highlights his wife’s success through STC’s Associate of Science in Nursing  program where she received her RN degree. “So, I am not the only one in my family that STC has provided a path for career opportunity,” states Michael.

He credits STC with providing him the opportunity to become a strong role model for his family and other upcoming IT professionals.

In the future, Henderson sees himself returning to school to further enhance his education. “I’m not through,” states Michael. He also offers some advice for those considering returning to school after having a family, a career, or both.

“Just do it,” Henderson said. “It’s never too late for anyone. If you are willing to learn there is always an opportunity.”

June 6-- A criminal complaint was filed in the Southern District of Georgia today charging Reality Leigh Winner, 25, a federal contractor from Augusta, Georgia, with   removing classified material from a government facility and mailing it to a news outlet, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 793(e). 

Winner was arrested by the FBI at her home on Saturday, June 3, and appeared in federal court in Augusta yesterday.

            “Exceptional law enforcement efforts allowed us quickly to identify and arrest the defendant,” said Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein. “Releasing classified material without authorization threatens our nation’s security and undermines public faith in government. People who are trusted with classified information and pledge to protect it must be held accountable when they violate that obligation.”

According to the allegations contained in the criminal complaint:

Winner is a contractor with Pluribus International Corporation assigned to a U.S. government agency facility in Georgia. She has been employed at the facility since on or about February 13, and has held a Top Secret clearance during that time. On or about May 9, Winner printed and improperly removed classified intelligence reporting, which contained classified national defense information from an intelligence community agency, and unlawfully retained it.  Approximately a few days later, Winner unlawfully transmitted by mail the intelligence reporting to an online news outlet.

Once investigative efforts identified Winner as a suspect, the FBI obtained and executed a search warrant at her residence. According to the complaint, Winner agreed to talk with agents during the execution of the warrant. During that conversation, Winner admitted intentionally identifying and printing the classified intelligence reporting at issue despite not having a "need to know," and with knowledge that the intelligence reporting was classified. Winner further admitted removing the classified intelligence reporting from her office space, retaining it, and mailing it from Augusta, Georgia, to the news outlet, which she knew was not authorized to receive or possess the documents.

An individual charged by criminal complaint is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.

The prosecution is being handled by Trial Attorney Julie A. Edelstein of the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Solari of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia. The investigation is being conducted by the FBI.

June 6--  The principal at Sally Meadows Elementary School in Vidalia is resigning.  School Superintendent Dr. Garrett Wilcox reports Sean Sasser has submitted his resignation effective June 30 to pursue his desire to become a youth minister.  

Sasser started as a teacher in the Vidalia City Schools in 2007 and became a principal in 2015.

Dr. Wilcox says he has begun the process of finding a successor.


The Class of 2017 at Vidalia High School did something no other class has done in recent history, according to Principal John Sharpe, "They are the first class since I've been here or even since Dr. Wilcox was here which has graduated 100% of the students who started the Fall with us as seniors."

Sharpe says the high school's graduation rate has steadily increased over the past few years, "This year everyone of them made it and we hope this year in the Fall when they release the graduation rate that our rate will at least be in the 90th percentile and hopefully we can exceed last year's 94%. As short as ten years ago we were down in the 60% graduation rate but over the past five or six years years we've seen that rate grow from the 70's to last year when it was 94%.  We're excited about that trend and hope it continues."


When school resumes in August, there will be a new commander of the Junior ROTC Thunderbolt Regiment.

jrotcdraughnCadet Lieutenant Colonel Miyah Middleton (right) is succeeding Grace Draughn at the helm.

"I plan to help other people learn skills to become a better leader, be ready for the real world and to learn discipline," she said, adding "As I joined JROTC, it showed me that later on in life when I leave home, I have to stay on top of my work and make sure I'm a better leader."

The Thunderbolt Regiment includes students from school systems in Vidalia, Toombs, Montgomery and Treutlen counties and holds classes at the Southeastern Early College and Career Academy in Vidalia.



June 5--  Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

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June 5--  Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

05/30     Ryan Allen Beasley                            Oak Park, Ga.                       Felony Probation Warrant Served

 05/31     Stanley Daniel Butler                          Glenwood, Ga.                     Bad Check Warrant Served

 05/31     Jose G. Monroy Ponce                        Mount Vernon, Ga.             Driving While Unlicensed

 06/02     Keisha Lariscey Jolly                          Lyons, Ga.                            Forgery (1st)

 06/03     Benji Ronald Clements                      Alamo, Ga.                           DUI, Driving w/Instructional Permit w/o Valid License

 06/04     Randy Scott Brotman                        Vidalia, Ga.                           Aggravated Assault

 06/04     Kimmthy Franklin Parker                  Uvalda, Ga.                          Possession of Methamphetamine, Possession of Drug

Related Objects

Chamber Accepting Nominees for 2018-2020 Board of Directors

It is time for the Toombs-Montgomery Chamber of Commerce to begin its process of electing board members for the 2018-2020 term.  Our election process allows members involvement and input into the selection of new board members early in the election process. 

This notice begins the election process by notifying you of the members of the nominating committee.  Please forward any suggestions you may have for board members to a member of the nominating committee within seven (7) days of the date of this notice.

The nominating committee is composed of representatives from our current and past leadership, as well as the general membership, and has been appointed for a one-year term.  The committee consists of the following:

Brian Bishop

Bishop-Durden Insurance Group

400 Jackson Street

Vidalia, GA  30474


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Marsha Temples

The Temples Company

P.O. Box 405

Vidalia, GA  30475


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Jason Hall

City of Lyons

161 Northeast Broad Street

Lyons, GA  30436


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Ginger Morris

Vidalia City Schools

301 Adams Street

Vidalia, GA  30474


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Bill Mitchell

Toombs-Montgomery Chamber

2805 East First Street

Vidalia, GA  30474


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June 3--  The Downtown Vidalia Association awarded a $500 grant to the Sandwich Shoppe in Vidalia for improvements to the building.

(L-R) Sandy Dixon, City Councilman Eddie Tyson, Vidalia Mayor Ronnie Dixon, B.J. Davis, Sandwich Shoppe owner Amy Roberson, DVA Executive Director Paula Toole, Wendi James Cason, Vidalia City Manager Nick Overstreet and City Finance Director Bill Bedingfield.sandshoppe

June 3-- Bring Up Grades (BUG), Get Recognition and Pizza!

This statement, backed by The Vidalia Kiwanis Club, helped encourage 228 students at Sally D. Meadows Elementary School to bring up their scholastic average by a full letter grade this semester.

Each year hundreds of students are recognized for their academic achievements, and The Vidalia Kiwanis Club wanted to make sure that even those who may not have straight A's were recognized for their improvements.

"Kiwanis is about the kids," said Chris Keene, Vidalia Kiwanis Club President. "We were honored to partner with the Vidalia school system to encourage and support local kids who worked hard to improve their grades."

bugOn May 17, Kiwanis Club members, along with volunteers from the National Honors Society, hosted a pizza party for students who improved their grades by at least one full letter. Pizza Inn donated pizza, Nabisco donated cookies, and Coca-Cola donated beverages. The Kiwanis Club gave out certificates to the students, recognizing them with the B.U.G. Award (Bringing Up Grades). The Kiwanis Club raised additional funds needed for this event through their Pancake Supper at McDonald's on National Pancake Day earlier this year.

"What I loved about the B.U.G. program is that the students were being rewarded for hard work," said Sean Sasser, Principal of Sally D. Meadows Elementary School.  "We remind students throughout the year that it doesn't matter where you start from, but how you finish. I am so thankful that the Kiwanis Club had the idea and the willingness to implement this program this year."

The Vidalia Kiwanis Club has 154 members. They have several fundraisers throughout the year, the Vidalia Onion Run being the largest. They use funds raised to better the community through service projects such as B.U.G. They also provide thousands of dollars in scholarships to local students each year. The club meets weekly at Captain's Corner on Tuesday's at noon. 

June 2-- U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, today released the following statement regarding President Trump’s announcement that the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate accord:

 “The United States is one of the strongest countries in the world in our commitment to high environmental standards across all industries, including power production.

"Unfortunately, the Paris climate deal was yet another regulatory overreach by the Obama administration and should have been put forward for the advice and consent of the Senate.

"I will continue to work on commonsense approaches to energy production and the environment.”

June 2-- Harry Moses Jr. of Vidalia has completed Development Authority Training provided by the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government for local leaders who have been appointed or reappointed to an authority.

harrymosesMoses is a member of the Toombs County Development Authority which is funded by Toombs County to attract new businesses and retain existing businesses in order to provide jobs in Toombs County.

Participants in the daylong basic training course learn about their responsibilities as members of development authority boards and the role that development authorities serve in the local economic development process. Topics include development authority operations, financing and incentives, and bonds.

In addition, participants learn about strategic planning in community development, project development and management, and emerging issues that affect development authorities.

“Development authorities are a key resource in every community’s economic development toolkit, and our training provides board members with vital knowledge to help them implement successful development plans,” said course instructor Jennifer Nelson, who coordinates the Institute’s training programs for development authority board members, economic development professionals and elected officials.

In addition to basic training, the Institute of Government now offers a certification program for Georgia economic developers, the first of its kind in the state. The Georgia Certified Economic Developer program was created in partnership with the Georgia Economic Developers Association and features a customized curriculum that focuses on five key competency areas. Courses are taught in central locations around the state with rolling course schedules that allow participants to complete certification in as little as three years.

According to Institute of Government Director Laura Meadows, “These programs strengthen community leaders’ practical knowledge for implementing effective economic development projects. The better they understand their roles, the more impact they can have on their community’s growth and development.”

June 2--  CrimeStoppers in the Vidalia area is offering rewards regarding breakins in Vidalia and Toombs County.

Burglars have been hitting temporary storage facilities causing damage to the doors and stealing stored items.

Three of the storage units were at Onion City Mini-Storage at 302 East First Street and the fourth was at Universal Storage on Donovan Street in Vidalia.

Police patrols discovered the breakins at Onion City in February, April and May and owner Darwin Beasley notified police of a breakin and theft of tools at Universal on May 24.

In Toombs County, a reward is offered regarding a May breakin and theft of property including a water trailer at a hunting club at the intersection of Billy Moore Road and Providence Church Road.

If you have information regarding any of these burglaries, call CrimeStoppers at 912-386-4480. 

You do not have to give your name and if your information leads to an arrest, you will collect a cash reward at a local bank with no questions asked.

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

Edge, Jeremy Allen- W/M- 20 YOA- 1077 US Highway 1 S Lyons, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense

McDaniel, Tracy Lee- W/M- 37 YOA- 371 North Lanier St. Lyons, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense

Clifton, Hunter Lee- W/M- 22 YOA- 876 GA Hwy 147 Lyons, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense

Hayes, Mark Alan- W/M- 29 YOA- 27727 Hwy 46 W Metter, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense /Give False Name, Address, Birthdate to LE Officer

Miller, Christa Lynn- W/F- 48 YOA- 903 E 6th St. Vidalia, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense

Hand, Brock- W/M 36 YOA- 157 Tott Powell Rd. Lyons, Ga./ Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense/ Warrant Served (Theft By Shoplifting)

Parks, Cedric Dushun- B/M- 31 YOA- 726 E. Seventh St. Vidalia, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 3rd Offense (Citation)/Obstruct, Hinder Law Enforcement Officer

Hadden, John Thomas - W/M 68 YOA/ 106 Sunset Dr. Vidalia, Ga. / Battery (FVA)

Whorley, Christopher Scott - W/M 44 YOA/ 3647 E. Lousianna Dr. Soperton, Ga. / Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense

Turnbow, Johnny Edward - W/M 50 YOA/ 964 Zellner Rd. Forsyth, Ga. / DUI 1st Offense

Pryor, Deandre Terrell- B/M- 33 YOA- 204 Grand St. Vidalia, GA- Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (Second)


June 1--  The lady who solved problems for patients for 36 years is retiring.

Meadows Regional Medical Center in Vidalia held a retirement reception for Cissy Alderman Wednesday afternoon as she finished her career as the medical center's Director of Social Services.

cissyCissy (left) with Joette Gay, the Vice President of Resource Management.

June 1--  Danny Brooks is the winner of the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) raffle annuounced this morning on Your Favorite, 98Q; NewsTalk WVOP and Sweet Onion Country 1017FM.

Sandra Dowd of CASA pulled the winning name and explained CASA helps the Toombs County Juvenile Court with information and background on juveniles in the court system.  Community volunteers assist CASA and if you'd like info on volunteering to help young people, call Sandra at 245-0487.

Danny wins a four-course dinner for eight at Elements in Lyons.

Sandra thanks raffle sponsors including Community Hospice, the Wardlaw Brothers, Pizza Inn, Girl Scout Troop 30186 and many citizens in the communirty who purchased tickets.