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January 31--  This year's "Dancing for the Stars" raised $18,375 for 21 community service agencies supported by the United Way of Toombs, Montgomery and Wheeler counties.


Six couples "skipped the light fantastic" with Melissa Bruce and Harold Fish garnering the most votes for their performance.

The Dancers, below,  included (L-R) Blake and Sara Brown, Sabrina Greenhouse and Hayne Brant, Ralph Goethe and Tamera McClendon, Harold and Melissa, Ned Gross and Josie Dittrick, and Amy Culpepper with Cody Masterman-Smith.


Cancer Center Donation

January 31-- The Tommy and Shirley Strickland Cancer Center, a division of Meadows Regional Medical Center, received a $5,000 donation from Brown Insurance Group of Vidalia.

“We are truly grateful for this generous donation from Brown Insurance Group,” said Alan Kent, Meadows Health President & CEO. “This donation gives us the means to provide the best quality and most technologically advanced care for our patients in a modern, comfortable, and convenient setting.”

bigdonationLeft to right: Blake Brown, Vice President of Brown Insurance Group of Vidalia; Alan Kent, Meadows Health CEO; Steve Brown, President of Brown Insurance Group of Vidalia.

Serving over nine counties, The Tommy and Shirley Strickland Cancer Center helps save lives through early detection and aggressive treatments and impacts the lives of countless patients, caregivers, and family members. The 20,000-square-foot center features state-of-the-art facilities, brand new cutting-edge equipment and the consolidation of a range of cancer services. The center is also the only in the region to offer both radiation and chemotherapy treatment in one convenient location.

Steve Brown commented, “Our family, like many others, has been affected by cancer. We are extremely grateful our local and extended communities now has access to a wonderful cancer treatment center right here at home. It’s our desire to give back to the community that has been so good to us!”

Meadows Promotions

 Meadows Regional Medical Center Vice President of Information Services and Chief Information Officer, Chuck Bondurant, has announced his upcoming retirement in June. Mr. Bondurant joined Meadows in 2002.

 meadowsldrshipMeadows President & CEO, Alan Kent, has appointed Mike Hagan (left) as Vice President of Revenue Cycle Operations and Stephen Smesny as Assistant Vice President of Information Systems/CIO to assume Mr. Bondurant’s duties upon his retirement.

 “Both Mike and Stephen have led Meadows through a period of tremendous growth and transition,” said Kent. “Their exceptional talent for management and operations will keep Meadows moving with full momentum.” 

 Mr. Hagan has served as Assistant Vice President of Revenue Cycle Operations at Meadows since 2011. He graduated from the University of Georgia in 1996 with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management. 

 Mr. Smesny joined Meadows in 2009 as Senior Support Analyst and was promoted to Director in 2010.  He earned the degree of Bachelor of Business Administration in 2003 from Georgia Southern University where he is also currently pursuing his MBA.

Patient Safety Award

Meadows Regional Medical Center was named one of the state’s top hospitals for quality and patient safety at the Georgia Hospital Association (GHA) 2018 Patient Safety Summit.

These annual awards recognize health care organizations for achievement in reducing the risk of medical errors and improving patient safety and medical outcomes. In the “Hospitals With Less Than 100 Beds” category, Meadows won third place for its project entitled "Colon Surgical Site Infection Reduction Bundle."

“Quality and patient safety are top priorities at Meadows,” said Meadows Regional Medical Center President & CEO, Alan Kent. “This award represents the many years of focused effort in infection reduction and demonstrates the commitment and care of our team to our patients.”

meadowsaward Left to Right: Dr. Karen McColl, Meadows Regional Medical Center Vice President of Medical Affairs; Earl Rogers, Georgia Hospital Association President and CEO; Robert Lummus, Meadows Regional Medical Center Assistant Vice President of Quality and Process Improvement; Rhett Partin, Georgia Hospital Association Sr. VP, Clinical Services & Public Health.


adelineJanuary 31-- Adeline Frost, a 2015 Vidalia High School graduate, is interning this semester at the capitol in Atlanta with President Pro Tempore Butch Miller’s office. Adeline is in her third year at the University of Georgia where she is studying Political Science and Spanish.

Here she is pictured with Senator Blake Tillery and Senator Pro Temp, Butch Miller.

Adeline is the daughter of Bruce and Pete Frost.

January 31-- President Donald J. Trump delivered his first State of the Union address this evening. Congressman Rick W. Allen (GA-12) released the following statement in response:

“We should all be proud to be Americans after the successes of President Trump’s first year in office. Neil Gorsuch was confirmed as the newest Supreme Court Justice, we have the lowest jobless claims in decades, our economy is growing at historic levels – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I am proud to have done my part to support the President’s agenda over the past year.”

“Tonight, President Trump reaffirmed his commitment to put Americans first – no matter their political party. Looking to the future, our government must unify to do what is best for the American people by building a safer and stronger nation. Congress still has a lot of important work to do, like providing for our military, investing in our nation’s infrastructure, and securing our borders. We must build on last year’s successes of tax reform and cutting burdensome red tape - continuing to provide all Americans the dignity of work by promoting policies that create new jobs, support hardworking families, and expand opportunities for business owners across the nation.”

“As we read in the book of Matthew, ‘a house divided against itself cannot stand.’ It was an honor to hear President Trump lay out his vision for American prosperity, and now Congress must come together to realize these goals.”     

January 30--  Vidalia City school officials received only one bid to furnish the new Vidalia High School and it's higher than expected.

School Superintendent Dr. Garrett Wilcox reports Georgia Specialty Equipment from Fayetteville submitted a bid of $770,000.  The superintendent says he'd like to get the number down to below $700,000 before a contract is awarded.

January 30--  At its first meeting of the new year, the Toombs County Development Authority approved a budget of $760,000 which is funded by one mil of tax pledged by the Toombs County Board of Commissioners. 

Executive Director Michelle Johnson reported U.S. Pet has paid off it's building in the Toombs Corporate Center north of Lyons ending its property tax deferment on the building.  She says that will add an estimated $43,000 to the county treasury.

Meanwhile, the Development Authority has $182,000 which is available with low interest loans to help local industries grow.  Businesses which can show job retention or new jobs may be eligible for the loans and should call the Authority at 537-4466 for details on the loans.

January 30--  Toombs County Commission Chairman David Sikes has appointed commissioners to serve on committees which oversee county operations.

The 2018 appointments include Commissioner Wendell Dixon and Commissioner Darriell Nobles to the Landfill Committee, Dixon and Commissioner Jeff McCormick to the Public Safety Committee, McCormick and Commissioner Alfred Cason to the Roads and Bridges Committee and Cason and Commissioner Darriell Nobles to the Recreation Committee.

County manager John Jones informed the commission collection of Local Option Sales Taxes in 2017 was down 3.55%.  He also noted E-911 operated at a deficit last year, something he said most 911 operations around the state experience.  Telephone users pay a monthly fee on their phone bills to to help pay for E-911, but when there's a shortfall, county taxpayers have to make up the difference.

The commissioners approved a low bid of $216,805 to an Albany company, Popco Inc., for a grinder at the Toombs County Detention Center.  The grinder is used to break up objects placed in toilets by county prisoners to block sewage lines.

In other actions, the commission reappointed two members to the Toombs County Hospital Authority, Reid McArthur and Larry Threlkeld.

January 29-- Robert Toombs Christian Academy is proud to announce that Evan Venable has been selected as the 2018 Star Student. Evan is the son of Shan and Gail Venable and Connie and Mike Lothridge. During his high school career, Evan has participated in football, wrestling, track, golf and is a member in One Act Play. He is a member of Beta Club, Key Club, Science Club, Y Club and a member of the National Honors Society.  He has maintained Yearly Honor Roll for freshman, sophomore, and junior years.

Evan is a member of this year’s Meadows Medical Staff Youth Advisory Board and the 2017-2018 Toombs Montgomery Youth Leadership Program. He has attended the YMCA State of Georgia Youth Assembly and plans on attending this year.  At the Youth Assembly this year, he will serve as Lt. Governor.  He is involved with the Student Government Association.  He served as Vice President his junior year and is serving as President his senior year.  He has attended Georgia United Nations Assembly his junior year and plans on attending this year.

rtrcastarEvan selected RTCA Science teacher, Ashley Lampp, as his Star Teacher. Evan chose Mrs. Lampp because her classes are always challenging. “Her class is different than any other class I have ever had. She challenges every student to do their best and she thinks of creative ways to teach the class so that everyone can understand the information,” Evan says.

After graduation, Evan plans on attending the University of Georgia where he will pursue a degree in law.

January 29--  Mr. Warren C. Crawley, Sr. left a legacy for not only Brewton-Parker College but for the entire Montgomery County area. Born around 1842 in Richmond, Virginia, Crawley was reportedly stolen from his family and brought to Montgomery County as a slave. In 1867, Crawley married Josephine, daughter of Samuel and Sally McRae Hill. Crawley and his wife had five children together.

In April of 1878, Crawley purchased land in Montgomery County. In 1904, an effort was made by local churches to start the Union Baptist Institute. The Mount Vernon/Ailey location was chosen but the site only had ten of the needed fifteen acres. Crawley stepped forward to donate the other needed five acres. His generosity allowed the establishment of the school to go forward.

Crawley’s donation was remarkable in an era of economic difficulty, but it is even more impressive when considering he knew that the practice of strict segregation would not allow his children or grandchildren to attend the school. In 1905, the Georgia Baptist Convention recognized Crawley for his generosity that crossed all boundaries of race. His was truly a Christ-like act of reconciliation that was remarkable for any time but especially in that day.

Crawley also donated additional land in Mount Vernon for the construction of the Warrens Chapel Methodist Church. The church later merged with Nepsey Methodist Church to become Nepsey-Warren United Methodist Church.

Crawley passed away on October 12, 1925. He was so well-respected by the community that The Montgomery Monitor once described Crawley as one “who had won for himself the favor of both races. . . . He was looked upon by those who knew him as a man of honor and integrity, faithful in the performance of whatever tasks fell to his lot, a good citizen, a Christian man, in whom a great number had unlimited confidence."

Today, over a century later, Brewton-Parker College is seeking to honor Crawley's legacy by the naming of a section of dorms on Brewton-Parker's main campus. The family of Crawley is assisting the college in seeking to raise $350,000 to complete the fourth male dormitory in the Baron Ridge area. Reaching the goal will allow not only the construction to be finished, but also the paving and landscaping to make it a place of beauty to fittingly be renamed as the Warren C. Crawley Commons. As part of the project, a new memorial will also be erected in the front area of the campus that will commemorate his life and generous act that allowed the establishment of the college. Brewton-Parker hopes to begin this project in 2018, an especially significant year because of the remembrance of the fiftieth anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination. In the Warren C. Crawley Commons, students of different races and backgrounds will live amongst one another, a vision of diversity and unity that both King and Crawley could only dream about.

A Celebration of Heritage banquet will be held on February 3, 2018 that will recognize the achievements of African Americans in our community and will honor the legacy of Crawley. This will also serve as the inaugural event to raise the funds for the Warren C. Crawley project. The banquet will be held at First Baptist Church Vidalia. The event will begin at 6:00PM. Tickets cost $25 and can be purchased by contacting Chad Ritchie at (912) 583-3167 or through This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


January 29--  Local officials are considering options for increased natural gas service in a five-county area of southeast Georgia.

According to Michelle Johnson, Executive Director of the Toombs County Development Authority, "The counties of Emanuel, Montgomery, Toombs, Treutlen and Wheeler are working to get our natural gas infrastructure upgraded."

The Toombs County Development Authority was informed at its January meeting that a project to increase natural gas capacity and pressure to Toombs County is on hold pending funding by Atlanta Gas Light company.  If the project remains unfunded by the company,  Johnson says funding assistance will be sought from the Georgia Public Service Commission in June.

Without sufficient natural gas service, Johnson says the county's plans to expand local industrial parks and create new jobs are threatened, "We've have several big gas users and we just could not make them comfortable with the capacity as it is now nor could we make them comfortable with the projections of what we hope would happen in the near future.  Obviously with a big gas user, that's going to play a big part in their location decision," she said.

Given the uncertainty, Johnson says the Development Authority is looking at other options to natural gas and is trying to get smart on Liquid Natural Gas as an alternative,"We have a lot to learn about that, but we are making connections with some providers who can do that on an industrial basis.  We are going to be learning about some options so that, in the meantime, while we have this issue, we can have alternatives to present to prospects when they come here," she said.

Johnson says resolving the natural gas issue and insuring local industries have sufficient wastewater treatment capacity are vital to how state economic developers perceive Toombs County, "It's kind of like you get a reputation of not being able to meet the needs pointblank, so we definitely want to have alternatives for all of our issues," she noted.

January 26--  State Senator Blake Tillery of Vidalia reports on activity in the state senate.

Last week, the Senate began the first week of budget hearings at the state Capitol. While the weather wasn’t great and two days of snow caused delays, we began the process of determining state fund allocations.

Governor Nathan Deal's FY 2019 budget showed only two budget categories with percentage increases- education and healthcare. Some of the most significant allotments the Governor recommended are in these areas, including funding for K-12 enrollment increases and repairs and new projects for technical colleges across Georgia. These education allocations can be broken down into a pretty simple statistic–roughly 54 cents of every state dollar will be spent on education this year. This number is certainly something to be noted, especially because it is increasing year-after-year. While education is vitally important to our state, it’s also important to realize that this trend is not sustainable if we are continue funding other areas of government and look at new initiatives such as broadband. I look forward to working with my friends in the Senate and House to determine where our money is best used for everyone in our state.

The final thing that happened last week was the passage of the adoption bill, also known as HB 159, in the Senate. It’s certainly been a long time coming, and we still have a ways to go, but I am hopeful this bill will find itself waiting on the Governor’s signature at the end of the legislative session.

This week the Senate welcomed several special guests, like southeast Georgia native and MLB World Series Champion, Josh Reddick. We were also able to hear a bill in the Judiciary Committee that I introduced last year that would put a stay, or halt, on an adoption proceeding if parental rights are being terminated or relinquished at the same time. This ensures that the child is never without a parent throughout the process of adoption. The bill also would allow individuals the ability to waive their right to an attorney, as long as it is made knowingly, voluntarily and on the record. As the conversation is going on with updating the adoption code, this is one more piece of the puzzle that makes the process more clear and simple.

Locally, a bill altering the makeup of the Long County Commission, House Bill 682, passed the House and is now in the Senate. Local legislation extending the city limits of Soperton to include Treutlen County High School and the recreation department lands will also soon be on the Senate floor.

If you have and questions or concerns about legislation, please do not hesitate to let me know. I am more than happy to answer your questions via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone at 404-656-0089. Thanks for the opportunity to serve you.


January 26-- The State Transportation Board (STB) passed a joint resolution between the Georgia Department of Transportation (Georgia DOT) and the State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA) to move forward with the I-16 road widening and interchange reconstruction projects at I-16 and I-95.

The$319 million project will expand the roadway from four to six lanes beginning at I-95 to I-516.  Additionally, the interchange improvement project will reconstruct the existing I-16 at I-95 interchange and includes upgrading entrance and exit ramps, constructing new collector-distributor lanes, and installing new lighting and Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) technology. Construction is projected to begin in early 2019.

January 26--  Vidalia minister Chester Proctor served as guest chaplain for the Georgia House of Representatives Thursday at the state capitol.  He opened the morning session with prayer at the invitation of State Representative Greg Morris of Vidalia.  Reverend Proctor is pastor at Smith Street Baptist Church.

chesterchaplain(L-R) State Representative Greg Morris, Reverend Proctor and Speaker of the House David Ralston.

January 24--  A dental hygiene student is this year's nominee for the Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership (GOAL) at Southeastern Technical College in Vidalia.

Noelia Santana from Reidsville was selected from a slate of a dozen students in ceremonies Tuesday night, "I can't voice how important technical education is and how it touches so many lives and so many generations.  I really appreciate this opportunity," she said.

"I'm a first generation college student.  My parents came here over 20 years ago in search of a better life for me and my sister.  I chose dental hygiene because I love it and I also want to create a bridge between the Spanish-speaking community and the American community so everybody would be comfortable and it would benefit everybody," she noted.

Noelia will serve as an STC ambassador this year, "Technical education is often seen as less than an university education, but it's really not.  The technical school system is better for some people than for others.  Nobody's the same and it's helped so many lives," she said.

stcgoal2017(L-R) Noelia Santana, STC President Larry Calhoun and Pete Frost.

Faculty Member of the Year

A teacher who started teaching a Spanish course part-time at STC some 20 years ago is this year's "Faculty Member of the Year."

Pete Frost is now teaching English and some other general education courses full time,"It means an awful lot to me.  I believe a lot in Southeastern Tech and the students at this place," she said.

"My students are very driven, very focused, very serious at this point and eager to give back.  They all have the goal of bettering themselves," she observed.

As for the role STC plays in the community, "I think we have such a diamond in this community and it reaches far beyond Toombs County. We produce remarkable people who go on to do remarkable things," she said.

Both Santana and Frost will now represent Southeastern Tech in statewide technical college competition.


January 24--  Georgia Power donated $2,000 to help with the Montgomery County School System's "Eagle Express Mobile Classroom." 

eagleexpressCounty School Superintendent Hugh Kight (L) said, "We are excited to partner with companies like Georgia Power who care about the education of our children."

Vidalia-area Georgia Power manager Greg Hudgins said it's an honor for the company to partner with education, "This program touches so many children and helps them get the needed tools to prepare them for their successful future.  These children will be our future leaders and together we can make a positive impact."

January 24--  Lyons City Manager Jason Hall reports the city is closing part of North Victory Drive starting next Monday, January 29.

The section between Highway 292 and West Oglethorpe Avenue will be closed from four to six weeks for water, sewer and paving work.

January 24-- The Chess Club at Sally Meadows Elementary School in Vidalia took second place honors among elementary schools in the Ogeechee River Scholastic Chess Association last Saturday in Statesboro. 

Two students won individual honors for high scores including Alexander Muzafarov who took third place followed by Lake Wright in fourth.

sdmchessFront row: Lake Wright, Alexander Muzafarov;

Back row: Aleah Ajohda, Annika Haynes, Zakrey Higgs, Jude Collins, Spencer Mosley, Jack Godbee, Braden Wilkes, Jackson Berry, Tessa Myers, and Mrs. Erica Palmer (chess faculty advisor).  Not pictured: Veer Patel

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

Crawford, Mahalika Keanna - B/F 33 YOA/ 1208 Easter Dr. Apt 62 Vidalia Ga./ Warrant Served (Forgery 1st Degree, Theft By Shoplifting Felony)

Grimsley, Wanda Darnell - W/F 30 YOA./ 130 Pine Dr. NE. Milledgeville, Ga. Theft By Shoplifting 1st Offense

Bryant, Mary Amanda - W/F 34 YOA/ 356 / E. Clifton Ave. Lyons, Ga./ Theft By Shoplifting 1st Offense

Mccarty,Deidre W/F – 39 YOA – 3843 Griffin Ferry Rd, Metter, Ga / Theft by Shoplifting (2nd)

Gaffney,Cynthia B/F – 26 YOA – 611 Washington St. Vidalia, Ga./ Toombs Co. Bench Warrant

Blaine, Jeffery Jr. B/M – 21 YOA – 410 Randolph Dr, Vidalia, Ga./ Toombs Co. Probation Warrant

Orduna, Sonni Diane- W/F- 27 YOA- 2968 Thompson Pond Rd. Tarrytown, GA- Warrant Served (Lyons PD- Probation)

Wiggins, Trayvon Afferny- B/M- 19 YOA- 1400 Aimwell Rd. Vidalia, GA- Racing in Highways and Streets

White, Hank Glenn- W/M- 21 YOA- 308 Findley Cemetery Rd. Lyons, GA- Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (First)/Open Container/Reckless Driving

Burkett, Brittany Lynn- W/F- 27 YOA- 275 Deerwood Rd. Vidalia, GA- Warrant Served (Jeff Davis Co SO- Bench)

Miller, Jerry Lamar- W/M- 55 YOA- 604 Adams St. Vidalia, GA- Driving on the Wrong Side of Roadway/DUI-1st Offense

Johnson, Amber Nicole - B/F- 29 YOA- 38 Spring Ave. Mcrae, Ga. / Possession of Marijuana Less Than Ounce/Failure to Obey Traffic Control Device

Webb, Wendy Melissa- W/F- 45 YOA- 836 Ed Youmans Rd. Swainsboro, GA- Driving on the Wrong Side of Roadway/DUI-1st Offense

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Gabriel Chavez, Driving while license suspended/revoked

Martha Clarke, DUI, Child endangerment, no brake lights, driving unlicensed

Paul Flores, DUI, failure to maintain lane, expired tag

Tyrone Polke, Warrant served

Lavell Holland, burglary

Dominique Hall, obstruction of police officer

Tyreece Smith, criminal damage to property

Alfreddie Mobley, probation violation

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

01/15-Joseph Dwayne Simonds, Vidalia, No Driver’s License

01/16-Leo Taylor West, Mt Vernon, Possession of Controlled Substance, Possession of Methamphetamine, Felony Probation Violation

01/16-Jarone M. Johnson, Pembroke, Possession of Controlled Substance w/Intent to Distribute

01/16-Sophia Walden, Pembroke, Possession of Controlled Substance w/Intent to Distribute

 01/16-Atron Dewayne Walden, Pembroke, Possession of Controlled Substance w/Intent to Distribute

01/16-Lenard Eugene Willis, Uvalda, Possession of Marijuana <1oz.

01/17-Theron Sutton Grady, Mt Vernon, Possession of Controlled Substance w/Intent to Distribute (x6)

 01/17-John Henry Johnson, Mt Vernon, Possession of Controlled Substance w/Intent to Distribute (x6), Misdemeanor Probation Violation

 01/17-Charlie Nobles, Mt Vernon, Possession of Controlled Substance w/Intent to Distribute (x6)

 01/20-Thomas Aaron Adams, Ailey, DUI, Obstruction of Officer (x2), Driving w/Suspended License, Expired Tag

January 23--  The flu outbreak is causing long waits in the emergency room at Meadows Regional Medical Center in Vidalia.

In some cases it's taking up to four hours to see a doctor and Medical Center physicians are advising you to avoid the ER unless you have pre-existing conditions which would make you susceptible to serious consequences.

Emergency Room Dr. Justin Osborne says, "If you're suffering from things where it's really difficult to breathe, you're having severe chest pains, or your mental status has changed, or if you're a diabetic and your immune system is compromised, we definitely need to be seeing those folks on the front end of their viral illness to prevent complications in that population."

On the other hand if you're having normal flu symptoms like dry cough, aching and fever, you might need to avoid the emergency room, "If you're suffering from uncomplicated flu symptoms, then please stay at home and call your primary care doctor.  Your doctor may say let's practice supportive care which is stay at home and stay hydrated with Motrin and Tylenol.  Depending on your history and symptoms, they may recommend TanaFlu or a true medical evaluation at their office or the Emergency Room depending on some concern for complications from the flu," Dr. Osborne said.

Dr, Osborne says sometimes a visit to the Emergency Room can lead to spreading of the flu, "It's hard for the general public to know if they are truly having an emergency or not.  If you feel like your life is in danger or you're suffering from an illness your concerned about, please come see us.  However, if you've read up on influenza or your familiar with what others around you are suffering from and it's simply flu like symptoms, yes, we would rather avoid contamination of others in the community.  Again, if you come out to the waiting room, you'll be sitting with dozens of other folks and if you didn't walk in with the flu, you might walk out with it," he said.



January 23-- Toombs Central Elementary School's December Students of the Month

tcesdecemberFront Row: Jenna McMillan( (Kindergarten), Charlotte Garrett (Pre-K), Grace Tiley (First Grade), and Bryton Kight (Second Grade).

Back Row: Bryce Woodard (Fourth Grade), Noelia Nevarez (Fifth Grade), and Jacob Mares (Third Grade). Congratulations!

January 23-- Vidalia Dermatologist Dr. Letty Peterson donated money to purchase t shirts for students in Camp Bulldog, a community based instruction and transition program at Toombs County High School. Partners like Dr. Peterson allow students to learn valuable information in the community that will assist them with independent living and life skills. 

campbulldog(L-R)  Brandon Walker, Speech Therapist, Charles Freeman, Dr. Peterson, Keshon Toby, and Tanner Roberts.

January 22--  Twelfth District Congressman Rick Allen believes some top officials from the Obama administration deserve jail time for using their positions in an attempt to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Congressman Allen has read a secret House Intelligence Memo on how top officials in the Department of Justice and the FBI allegedly conducted illegal surveillance of Trump campaign officials in an effort to help the Hillary Clinton campaign. 

"My reaction is, based on everything you're hearing in the media, what this memo does is connect the dots and it obviously indicts a lot of people.  I'm all for making the memo public, but immediately we need to have a special counsel to deal with this.  The Justice Department cannot investigate itself.  You've got this 'deep state' there, you've got it in the FBI and in every government agency up here.  We've got to have a special counsel to investigate that and we need to put these people in jail, " he said.

Meanwhile, Congressman Allen believes the government shutdown forced by Democrats in the Senate had less to do with illegal immigrants than it did with their attempt to divert attention from the economic upturn during President Trump's first year in office.

"If this thing was so important to the Democrats, they had multiple opportunities during the second term of President Obama to do this.  I really don't think it's about DACA.  They're using that to try and change the narrative because this President has been very successful and they don't like it.  This President has been the most successful President probably in history in his first year.  They're trying to change the narrative and it makes me sick.  The American people need to know that," he said.

January 22--  Lyons Mayor Willis NeSmith believes "there's light at the end of the tunnel" regarding city efforts to increase wastewater treatment capacity in the city.

The city was surprised earlier when a bid to expand capacity at its North Wastewater Treatment Plant came in $3 million dollars higher than projected.  Without more capacity, the city's ability to handle growth and create new jobs at the industrial park north of town would be in jeopardy, however, at the January meeting of the Toombs County Development Authority, Mayor NeSmith said negotiations with the bidder are making progress.

"Our engineers and upper management with Petticoat-Schmitt (the Jacksonville company which submitted the apparent low bid on the project) met with Jason and I and went over the cuts that have been made and they've made a good bit of cuts already, but we'd want some more cuts.  We need about another million to be cut out and they think that's possible, so they're going back and are working on that and then we'll get with them and see what they've got done.  We're very close on this," the mayor said.

Mayor NeSmith thinks the negotiations will result in doubling the current 750,000 gallons per day capacity of the North Plant, "What we're working on is 1.5 million gallons per day so we'll have that extra capacity for the industrial park and the northern and western parts of town and we'll have that for expansion,"  he said.

If things go as hoped, Mayor NeSmith foresees award of a contract in the next 30 to 60 days.  He says the work will take from 18 to 24 months to complete.

January 20--  U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia issued a statement after saying Democrats blocked legislation to fund the government.

“It’s time to stop the theatrics and get to the business of governing.

“For too long, we have been kicking the can down the road on an operating budget for our government. A continuing resolution is not the path I would choose for good governing. Now, we can’t even put aside partisan differences and agree to move forward on a continuing resolution under which we all agree on the big underlying priorities. We can’t even agree to extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program for six years so that low-income kids and their families can have access to the health care they need.

“We should immediately be funding children’s health care, our men and women in uniform, our veterans and our seniors as well as other critical functions of the government and not playing political games with our country and our citizens. Shutting down the government is the wrong solution and always causes bigger problems in the end.”

vetclinicJanuary 19--  A ribbon cutting signifying a change of ownership was held at Vidalia Veterinary Clinic on West First Street today. 

Dr. Paul May (blue shirt in center) is selling his practice to Dr. Sheryl Sheppard (to his left).  Dr. Sheppard's husband, Melvin (call me Bubba) is to her left.  The couple and their five-year-old son are looking for land with a pond in the Vidalia area to make a home.

Dr. Sheppard is a 2009 graduate of the veterinary school at the University of Georgia and has been practicing until now with a veterinary hospital in Statesboro.

January 19--  Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits reports the following arrests.

Riggs, Angela - W/F 37YOA - 2300 Taft Circle Apt. 356

Baytown,Texas – Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense

Waller, Robert – B/M 23YOA – 604 NE Main St. Vidalia, Ga./ Warrant Served (Treutlen County)

Collins, Darrell James - W/M 54 YOA/ 125 Boxwood Dr. Ellabell, Ga./ Theft By Shoplifting 1st Offense

McCoy, Matthew Daniel - W/M 29 YOA/ 3125 Ga. Hwy 20 Vidalia, Ga./ Disorderly Conduct

Lewis, Earnesha- B/F- 17 YOA- 600 Washington St. Vidalia, Ga./ Possession of Marijuana Less Than Ounce, Disorderly Conduct

Brewer, Ben- B/M- 23 YOA-112 Lang St. Vidalia, GA- Battery (FVA), Cruelty to Children 3rd Degree, Obstruction Emergency Telephone Call (State Warrant Served)

Jackson, Bonnie Jo- W/F- 35 YOA- 1811 N Maple Drive Vidalia, GA- Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (1st)

Davis, Boydaisha Nicole- B/F- 22 YOA- 262 Jimmy Shipes Rd. Baxley, GA- Warrant Served (Probation-Glennville PD)

Binion, Michael Allen- W/M- 29 YOA- 204 Sol Anderson Rd. Lyons, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense

Waddell, Judy Lanette- W/F- 22 YOA- 204 Sol Anderson Rd. Lyons, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense

Eason, Zahporrah Ne’kiyah- B/F- 17 YOA- 106 Louisiana Drive Vidalia, GA- Theft By Shoplifting 1st Offense

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Brian Green, Lyons, DUI, failure to maintain lane, hit and run, property damage/injury, failure to stop, leaving the scene

Gabriel Chavez, Lyons, Driving while license suspended/revoked

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Matthew Evans, Uvalda, Criminal trespass, theft by taking

Paul Fortner, Uvalda, Criminal trespass, theft by taking

Kimberly Keairns, Uvalda, Cruelty to children

Austin Lariscey, Lyons, Burglary

Chad Mann, Baxley, Probation violation

Westley McGowan, Lyons, Probation violation, failure to appear

Tabitha Newsome,Vidalia, Probation violation, failure to appear

Michelle Toole, Lyons, Probation violation

Timothy Yares, Lyons, Hold for Candler Co Sheriff's Office

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

01/08-Tammy Lee Stewart, Uvalda, Warrant Served – Orange County, Florida

01/10-James William Horne, Uvalda, DUI, Failure to Maintain Lane

01/11-Destiny Rose Marie Murray, Mt. Vernon, Possession of Marijuana <1oz.  

01/13-Jordan Ellis Goode, Baton Rouge, LA., Warrant Served – Fort Stewart Army Base

01/13-Kimmthy Franklin Parker, Uvalda, Driving w/Suspended License




January 19--  The recent appointment of Vidalia attorney Howard Kaufold to be a Superior Court Judge in the Oconee Judicial Circuit created two county attorney vacancies where Kaufold had been holding the position.

In a meeting Tuesday, the Toombs County Commission named Blake Tillery of Vidalia as the new Toombs County attorney and the Montgomery County Commission met Thursday night and appointed Vidalia attorney Paul Cook as the Montgomery County attorney.

January 19--  The flu is here with some schools and churches reporting flu-related absences and Meadows Regional Medical Center in Vidalia reporting many flu patients, according to Chief Medical Officer Dr. Karen McColl.

karnmccoll"Our situation with flu right now is that we have a number of staff affected by the flu and we're seeing a tremendous volume of patients," she said, and there have been times when the hospital was full, "We have had the need to be on diversion on and off during this past week.  Currently we are off diversion and are able to admit some patients, but our Intensive Care Unit has been fairly full most of this week," Dr. McColl said.

The hospital has also implemented some restrictions on hospital visitors,"To try to limit exposure, we're asking for the community to hold back with 12 year olds and under coming to the hospital for visitation.  We've also asked members of the community if you fill ill and have symptoms of cough, sore throat or fever, please don't come to visit if it's not absolutely necessary," she advised.

Dr. McColl says you may have the flu if, "The symptoms are primarily headaches, sore throat, fever, cough and body aches.  It typically hits fairly quickly.  You can feel well in the morning and by evening have almost all of the symptoms," she said.

According to Dr. McColl, this year's flu vaccine is only about 30% effective, however, she still recommends people get a flu shot, "Those who have received the vaccine seem to have less intensity of the symptoms if they do get the flu," she said.

The best way to protect yourself, "Hand washing is really the greatest way of decreasing spread and certainly if you are feeling ill, don't go out into the public.  If you have fever, cough, sore throat and body aches, stay home," she advises.

tommyrollinsJanuary 18--  Tommy Rollins (L) was thanked for his years of service as a board member and chairman of the Toombs County Development Authority at the Authority's first meeting of the new year. 

Incoming chairman Harry Moses made the presentation.

January 17--  Work is starting on the twelfth house being built by the Vidalia Area Habitat for Humanity.

Groundbreaking was held Tuesday for the house at 1200 Roosevelt Avenue that will be occupied by the family of Diane Johnson Hall who works with Pineland Mental Health, "I just want to thank God and Habitat for Humanity for this opportunity.  It means a whole lot to my whole family," she said.


(L-R) Project foreman Leander Tufts, Vidalia Mayor Pro Tem John Raymond Turner, Audra Harris, city council members Greg Johnson and Lisa Chesser, Jean Johnson, Diane Hall and Habitat board chairman David Parker.

Leander Tufts is the project foreman for this house, "I think every person deserves a decent place to live and it just gives me great pleasure to know we can help a deserving family," he said, and noted, "What is done through Habitat is we build the home and the person has to have a job and be able to pay for the cost of the house.  The benefit the homeowner gets is they pay no interest, but they do have to invest sweat equity during construction and be willing to help us on the next house."

Mrs. Hall says she'll be there, "I will be here everyday helping and I'll get all my friends out here to help, too."

Meanwhile, the foreman says volunteers are welcome, "Any skills that a person might have that we could use to help us get this house built would be welcome.  We do need skilled people, but we can also definitely us people who are just willing to help," he said.

To help out, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



January 17--  Toombs County School Superintendent Richard Smith provided minutes of the January 11th meeting of the school board. Excerpts are below:

"During the Superintendent’s Report, it was announced that Lyons Upper Elementary and Toombs Central Elementary have been recognized by the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement as “Beating the Odds” schools. This recognizes schools who’s student achievement is better than what can be expected based on their demographic make-up. All schools in Toombs County were recognized for meeting their FY2017 Strategic Waiver School System target goal.

The board was presented with the November Financial Reports, including the December SPLOST and Current Account Balance Reports. SPLOST was up 2% from last December. Further, the board was presented with account balances as of January 2018; they were presented with the general fund budget standing, the monthly cash flow report, and the general ledger which included the detail report for the vendor, Amazon.

On a motion by Mr. Bellflower and a second by Mrs. Wilkes, the board approved the 2018 Board Meeting Dates calendar.
Unanimously Approved

On a motion by Mr. Grimes, seconded by Mrs. Wilkes, the board approved the FY2019 Employment Plan.
Unanimously Approved

On a motion by Mr. Grimes and a second by Mr. Akins, the board approved the following recommendations: Resignation Notice: Janet Poole, LUES.
Unanimously Approved

Mr. Smith shared that the vacant TCHS principal position would be reposted and shared with system employees on Friday, January 12, 2018. Applications will be taken through February 2, 2018.  Applications will be reviewed, potential candidates will be interviewed, and a recommendation would be presented as early as the March board meeting.

Mr. Holland asked the status of the teacher committee. Mr. Smith stated the next meeting of the Superintendent’s Advisory Committee is on January 29th. No changes in the committee have been made at this time.

January 17--  The Toombs County Commissioners wrapped up their first meeting of the new year Tuesday night with an announcement from District Four Commissioner Jeff McCormick, who read the following statement.

jeffmccormick"Over the last seven years I have been honored to represent the residents of the largest geographical district in the county, District 4. I have also been honored to serve seven years as the Vice Chairman, during that time assisting 3 different Commission Chairmen in setting goals and developing programs for the entire county. Throughout these seven years we have continually developed sound fiscal policies which allowed the Commission to lower the millage rate on property taxes four consecutive years and we have never allowed a tax increase during my tenure.

"Together, we developed a road rating system for paving and maintenance which has accounted for more than $10 million in infrastructure improvements. WE were proactive in the purchase of an additional 440 acres for solid waste disposal which will allow another 30 years of capacity. We've implemented community enhancements with the remodeling of parks and recreation facilities across the county. Together we have adopted ordinances which have provided safety and promoted the social and financial integrity of our county residents. We have also collaborated with municipal officials in Vidalia, Lyons, and Santa Claus creating an atmosphere of cohesion that now serves as a model of cooperation within the state.

"When I first ran for office in 2010 the school I serve as Headmaster, Vidalia Heritage Academy had only 100 students. We now we have over 400 with a full range of extracurricular and athletic events. While I have never shirked my responsibility in either of those places, it has certainly been difficult to get to all the countywide events when we had one a school activity every night of the week—and when those activities were the place where I made my living. When I ran in 2010 I never intended to be a "lifer," one who simply stays in office term after term. I firmly believe there is a reason that the President of the United States can only serve two terms. I think we might be better off if that were true everywhere. However, there are some incredible people who have spent their lives in public service and I salute them. That being said, I wanted to officially announce that I will not be running for a third term this year. It is time. I am not ruling out serving in public office again in the future but this is the right time for me and my family. Announcing this now gives men and women the opportunity to explore their options, talk with their families, and search their hearts to see if they might want to seek this office.

"Let me personally thank each of the Commission Members I have served with over these 8 years. I will continue to pray for God's guidance over you, over us, even when I leave the Commission in December of this year. And to all the residents of District 4, thank you for believing in an outsider who moved here in 2006, thank you for trusting me with a wide variety of issues which affect your lives. I pray I have served you well."

Qualifying for the District Four seat opens Monday, March 5 at 9 a.m. and closes Friday, March 9 at 12 p.m.  The primary election will be held May 22.

January 16--  The Georgia Supreme Court is refusing to hear a state appeal of a ruling by the Georgia Court of Appeals which quashed the burglary indictment of former Montgomery County Deputy Sheriff Todd Yancey.

toddyanceyYancey and five others were indicted by a Montgomery County Grand Jury for a break-in which occurred at the office of Sheriff Ladson O'Connor the night he was killed during a police chase June 15, 2016.

The Appeals Court had earlier agreed with a motion to quash the Yancey indictment filed by his attorney Susan Shook of Vidalia,"The Court of Appeals ruled that the trial judge had made an error when he did not grant the motion to quash the indictment because my client had been denied his statutory right to appear before the grand jury and present testimony at the time the case was presented to the grand jury.  Therefore, the Court of Appeals' decision stands and it means my client is no longer under indictment," she said.

District Attorney Tim Vaughn says he will "absolutely" re-present the case during the next term of the Montgomery County grand jury which starts next month.

Yancey's defense attorney says if another indictment is sought, her client will be able to testify before the grand jury, "If the District Attorney does re-indict the case then, pursuant to the court's orders, Mr. Yancey has the right to appear and present testimony," Shook noted.

Others facing trial in the burglary case are Montgomery County Manager Brandon Braddy, Brent Braddy, Mount Vernon Mayor Joey Fountain, Kathy Rudd and Matt Waller.

2018 Vidalia Onion Festival Concert Featuring: Phil Vassar, Love and Theft, and Special Guests.

January 16-- Headlining the 2018 Vidalia Onion Festival concert is singer/songwriter, Phil Vassar. Phil has reached the Top 5 seven times and has topped the charts on multiple occasions with hits like “Just Another Day in Paradise.”

festvassar Phil has released eight albums and has received several awards, including two ASCAP Songwriter of the Year trophies and Billboard Country Songwriter of the year. Known as one of Nashville’s tunesmiths, his songs that other artists have taken to #1 include “My Next Thirty Years” by Tim McGraw, “She’s Right on the Money” by Alan Jackson, and Jo Dee Messina’s “Bye Bye” and “I’m Alright”. Phil has also written songs for some of the newer country artists like David Nail’s “The Sound of a Million Dreams”.

For Vassar, his philosophy about songs has never changed during his time spent writing hits for himself and other artists. It’s important for a song to carry a message and make the listener feel something. Phil launched his own label known as Rodeowave Entertainment. This full-service record label has promoted music by The Lumineers, Neal McCoy, Miss Willie Brown, High Valley, Old Dominion and Sam Riddle. Vassar continues to churn out incisive, soulful lyrics and melodies that capture the heart and soul in the unique and special way that only he can, and he enjoys performing these songs for his fans.

festlovetheftAlso playing at this year’s festival is the young and energetic band, Love and Theft. The band’s latest album, Whiskey On My Breath, marks a significant creative statement for the two singer-songwriter-guitarists, whose resume already includes a long series of career highlights. Having already established themselves as one of country’s hottest young acts with such memorable hits as the #1 country smash “Angel Eyes” and the Top 10 hit “Runaway,” the band continues to produce fresh new hits today. Their latest music finds the pair stripping down to its essence, with spare, largely acoustic arrangements that focus squarely on their impassioned performances and distinctive vocal chemistry.

festhannahPlaying in front of Love and Theft, will be Hannah Wicklund and The Steppin Stones. The American rock ‘n’ roll band from Hilton Head Island has shared the stage with many big name artists from both rock and country music. Now in Nashville, the band has been working on a new album release. Their musical influences include Jimi Hendrix, Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, and Jeff Beck. Wicklund’s classic rock look gets fans listening, but her guitar skills keep them wanting more.

festsouthernhaloAnother band performing at this year’s festival is Southern Halo from Mississippi. The sister trio has a signature sound of multiple country styles and a dash of Southern rock. It’s youthful, energetic music - made immediately recognizable by the sweet sibling harmonies that have become Southern Halo’s trademark. Noted music critic Robert K. Oermann of MusicRow Magazine says the sisters “harmonize like angels.” The band is launching a new album this April and plans on performing many songs from that new album at the festival.

festpinboxKicking off the concert on Saturday will be the Pinebox Dwellers. The Pine Box Dwellers are a musical family of friends from Waycross, GA. With their unique blend of "Swampadelic" Americana the Pine Box Dwellers take you on a free-wheeling trip through a distorted fun house of southern rock archetypes that never stray in to parody, thanks to their spot on skill. Front man Sean Clark’s songs are well crafted stories that the band breaks down and rebuilds with impressive virtuosity.

 The concert will take place at the Stage at City Park, Highway 280 and Durden St on Saturday, April 28th with music starting at 4pm. Advanced tickets are available for $15 online at These advanced tickets are refundable if the event is cancelled due to inclement weather.  Tickets will also be available at the gate on the day of the concert. For more information, please contact the Vidalia Convention & Visitors Bureau (912-538-8687 or

January 15--  The Vidalia Onion Museum averaged 135 visitors a month in 2017 and they came from all over the world, according to Vidalia Tourism Director Alexa Britton.

"We had people from Ecuador, Spain, South Korea, Ireland, England, Belgium, Columbia, France, Denmark, Canada, Belarus, Brazil, Japan, Australia and Puerto Rico," she said.

U.S. visitors came from 43 of the country's 50 states and Britton says, "We get very positive reactions about how much information is here and how friendly our museum guide is and that's Brenda Carroll."

onionmuseumMany local residents bring their guests to see the museum which includes four different parts, "The museum is set up to show you how the industry started, a history section, and then how the farmers came to protect the growing region and the name, then a section on the growing season and the growing cycle and then we have a section on food, the Onion Festival, and all the marketing efforts that have gone in to marketing the Vidalia Onion," Britton reports.

For kids there's a hands-on display where they can "grade" Vidalia Onions based on size.  At the museum entrance, visitors are greeted by two small plots of Vidalia Onions which are planted each year and are the smallest "certified onion farms" in the growing region.  Unless the weather causes a problem, Britton says they should be ready in time for visitors to the 2018 Vidalia Onion Festival the end of April.

January 16– Four Southeastern Technical College (STC) students have been selected as the college’s semi-finalists for the Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership (GOAL), according to Melissa Rowell, coordinator for the STC’s GOAL program.

Chosen as semi-finalists are:

Tracer Gould, Associate of Science in Nursing, from Toombs

LaToya Jackson, Business Healthcare Technology, from Emanuel

Noelia Santana, Dental Hygiene, from Tattnall

Jason Wilcox, Associate of Science in Nursing, from Jeff Davis

GOAL, a statewide program of the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG), honors excellence in academics and leadership among the state’s technical college students. GOAL winners are selected at each of the state’s 22 technical colleges as well as one Board of Regent college with technical education division.

All the college GOAL winners will compete in regional judging, which will include students from the other 21 TCSG’s colleges as well as one Board of Regents college with technical education divisions.

GOAL winners from each college will compete in regional judging in February. In April, all college winners will come to Atlanta where the nine regional finalists, three finalists from each of the three regions, will be announced and compete at the state level in April and one student will be named as the statewide GOAL winner.

"The purpose of the GOAL program is to spotlight the outstanding achievement by students in Georgia's technical colleges and to emphasize the importance of technical education in today’s global workforce," said Rowell.

According to Rowell, a screening committee of administrators at STC selected the four semi-finalists from a list of students nominated by their instructors.

"The next step is for a panel of business, civic and industry leaders from the community to interview and evaluate these four students and select one to be the college’s 2018 GOAL winner," explained Rowell. “The one judged most outstanding will compete in the Central regional judging. Three finalists from the Central region will be named and will compete in the state GOAL competition in Atlanta in April and vie to be named as the 2018 statewide GOAL winner.”

The State GOAL Winner becomes the student ambassador for TCSG and receives a grand prize of a new car provided by Kia, the statewide corporate sponsor of Georgia’s GOAL program.

mlksignJanuary 15--  The frigid temperatures didn't cool the enthusiasm at the Third Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Parade in Vidalia Monday.

The parade is sponsored by the Community Men in Action and Vidalia Mayor Pro Tem John Raymond Turner said next year he'd like to see it go through downtown Vidalia as a tribute to Dr. King, "It's important because Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. did a lot for the country, not just for blacks but for the whole human race and I think it's important that we honor him on this particular day," he said.

The parade Grand Marshal was Lonnie Calhoun who was a teenage civil rights activist and a member of the last segregated high school class to graduate in Vidalia in 1970.  Calhoun now lives in Farmville, Virginia, "I'm very proud of the community because there has been movement.  Part of my frustration back in 1964 was that I didn't see much movement.  I was relegated to this side of the track and there was no opportunity to dialogue with my counterparts on the other side of the track about ways we could bridge differences and work together on common problems. Coming back now I see a lot of bridges have been built so there's hope.  I know hope is not a plan but there are a lot of people in office who've got plans," he said.

mlkcalhounCalhoun was part of a group that worked with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference headed by Dr. King, "He was a man of his time and he came along at an appropriate time when we needed someone to talk about peace.  I looked up to him.  He was a man of faith, and I am, and he was not deterred.  He was a person of conviction and that conviction was one of the things I admired about him," Calhoun remembered.


January 15--  Six couples will be "Dancing for the Stars" this month to benefit the United Way of Toombs, Montgomery and Wheeler counties.

dancersRehearsing for the big night are front row (L-R) Amy Culpepper, Cody Masterman-Smith, Sabrina Greenhouse, and Sara Brown; middle row (L-R) Tamera McClendon, Melissa Bruce and Harold Fish;  back row (L-R) Ralph Goethe, Ned Gross, Hayne Brant and Blake Brown; not pictured Josie Dittrick.

The show is Thursday, January 25 at 6:30 p.m. at Hawk's Point on Loop Road and is sponsored by the women of "Power of the Purse." 

Women who'd like to join the effort may contact Lucy Whigham, 293-0748.

January 15--  Lyons City Councilman Larry Griggers shares his thoughts on the Lyons' challenge of providing adequate wastewater treatment for its citizens and potential industries.  Click her to read his blog at

January 15--  State Senator Blake Tillery of Vidalia reports on the Georgia General Assembly which convened last week.

"The first week of the 2018 legislative session has come and gone, and it was certainly one to remember. On top of the General Assembly convening the Senate appointed and elected a new President Pro Tempore, Sen. Butch Miller of Gainesville, and Governor Nathan Deal delivered his annual State of the State address and of course the University of Georgia Bulldogs played for a national championship.

"We hit the ground running and won’t stop until the 40 day session has come to an end.  Day 3 of this year’s session was as busy as the last week of last year. Day 1 brought a pleasant surprise as I was appointed to the Senate Appropriations Committee. I am extremely grateful for the Committee on Assignments, Lt. Governor Cagle and Appropriations Chairman Jack Hill of Reidsville for allowing me to serve in this capacity. This committee is a prestigious and an important part of our state’s government because of its work on the budget. Next week will be a big week for this committee as it marks the start of “budget hearings” or the time when individual state agencies present their requests to the committee. Passing a balanced budget is the only duty constitutionally required of the General Assembly, so technically we could only pass one bill a year. However, I don’t think it would sit well with our constituents if we spend 40 days on the budget and nothing else.

"In addition to the Appropriations Committee, I am returning as a member of the Judiciary, State Institutions and Properties and Economic Development and Tourism committees. I look forward to working on each of these committees and ensuring that bills coming before the committee are closely looked at.

"Speaking of committee meetings, the first committee meeting of the year took place on Wednesday and we just so happened to pick up right where I left off on sine die in 2017 with the Adoption Bill, or, as it’s known informally, HB 159. This bill is an over 100 page document that updates the adoption codes in Georgia, something that hasn’t been updated since 1990. It’s imperative that we pass this bill for the thousands of kids stuck in foster care and for the many couples out there who want to adopt. This bill was recommitted to the Judiciary Committee on the 40th legislative day and now it is being heard again. Our hope is to have this bill passed in the committee, on the Senate Floor and send it to the Governor’s desk for approval at the end of session. 

"I always love having home folks up at the Capitol and encourage you to please let me know if you are here during the Legislative Session. Already, we had some folks from Wayne, Appling, Jeff Davis, Toombs and Montgomery counties come by this week. Seeing y’all is always a good reminder of how lucky I am to be representing our home in the state Senate.

"If you have any other questions or concerns, feel free to send me an email or call my district office at 912-537-3030 or call my capitol office at 404-646-0089. If you have any questions, comments or concerns about bills or how things work at the capitol, please let me know. I love to hear your ideas and answer any questions I can.

 "Thanks for the opportunity to serve you. "       

January 11--  Vidalia Mayor Ronnie Dixon made the following appointments at Wednesday night's meeting of the City Council.



January 11--  Vidalia police have released more details regarding two separate shooting incidents within three hours of each other Tuesday.

In the first shooting, police found a man identified as Tyrone Allen, Jr. of Helena on the living room floor of Althea Jeffries' apartment in the Raymonia Apartments.  Officer Lindsey Reddish reported Allen had gunshot wounds in his side and forearm and told her he did not know who shot him.  Allen's brother, Milton Gaskin of Mount Vernon, said he was in the back bedroom when he heard three gunshots and came out to find his brother on the floor.

Allen is reported in stable condition in a Savannah hospital.

The second shooting incident happened about noon near the intersection of Fourth Avenue and Dickerson Drive.  Larry Hill told police he was driving his Honda Accord on Fourth Avenue with his mother in the front passenger seat.  After swerving to avoid an oncoming car, Hill said he heard gunshots and said bullets struck his car.  Police later found evidence of two bullet holes in the car.

A resident identified as Robert Madison said he was inside his home when he heard four to five shots followed by a pause and three more shots. Another neighbor said she was outside in her backyard and saw a car in front of Madison's house on Dickerson Drive.  After the shooting she told police the car, described as a grey Ford Crown Victoria with a dark back glass, left the area and turned north on Poe Street.

Lieutenant Jimmy Sims says no arrests have been made in either case and the investigation is continuing.


January 11--  Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits reports the following arrests.

Mendez, Luis Aturo- H/M- 27 YOA- 319 27th St. West Palm Beach, FL- Criminal Trespass

Stokes, Michele Lashanta- B/F- 27 YOA- 800 Ward St. Vidalia, GA- Warrant Served (Toombs Co Probation)

Adams, Justice Dewayne - B/M 17 YOA/ 184 Cypress St. Lyons, Ga./ Warrant Served/ Loitering or Prowling/ Entering An Auto w/Intent To Commit Theft, Felony/ Willfully Obstruction Of Police Officer Simple/Verbal

Eason, Jeremye Daquan - B/M 19 YOA/ 805 E Sixth St. Vidalia, Ga. / Loitering/Prowling

Neesmith, Stacey Denise- W/F- 34 YOA- 191 Bonnie Rd. Lyons, GA- Warrant Served (Parole)

Spooner, Viola Anderson – W/F 61 YOA/ 528 Roderick Clifton Rd. Lyons, Ga./ Theft By Shoplifting 1st Offense

Clark, Shante Reshay – B/F 27 YOA/ 408 Grand Street Vidalia, Ga./ Battery

Harter, Gregory Lee - W/M 34 YOA/ 2549 Ga. Hwy 297 Vidalia, Ga./ Theft By Shoplifting 1st Offense

Mitchell, Tayim B. - B/F 20 YOA/ 126 Oak Ave Reidsville, Ga./ Warrant (Toombs County So.), Possession Of Marijuana Less Than Ounce

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Israel Williams, Lyons, DUI

Shanna Waters, Lyons, DUI, failure to maintain lane

Willie Freeman, Lyons, DUI, expired tag, driving while license suspended/revoked

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Gerall Faulk, Baxley, Arrest for Jeff Davis County

Joseph Johnson, Dublin, Probation violation

Harley Kirkland, Vidalia, Disruption of public schools

Synna Coglin, Fraud

Vargas Martinez, Lyons, No drivers license

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

01/01-Debraca Shariee Fletcher, Tarrytown, Simple Battery

01/02-Yancey Thomas Kemp, Mt. Vernon, Obstruction of Officer, Giving False Information, Driving w/Suspended License, Too Fast for Conditions, Open Container, Leaving the Scene of an Accident, Failure to Report Accident with Damages, Failure to Maintain Lane, Safety Belt Violation

01/03-Ronnie Lee Roberson, McRae, Felony Probation Violation

01/03-Joseph Aubrey Ramage, Uvalda, DUI, Possession of Marijuana <1oz.

 01/07- Felithia Helena Freeman, Forest Park, Items Prohibited for Possession by Inmates, Possession of Marijuana, Possession of Marijuana w/Intent to Distribute

 01/07-Crystal Amber Murray, Forest Park, Items Prohibited for Possession by Inmates, Possession of Marijuana, Possession of Marijuana w/Intent to Distribute







January 11--  This is National Blood Donor Month and the American Red Cross has an urgent need for blood and platelet donors of all blood types to make an appointment to give now and help address a winter blood donation shortage.

Severe winter weather has had a tremendous impact on blood donations already this year, with more than 150 blood drives forced to cancel causing over 5,500 blood and platelet donations to go uncollected. This is in addition to seasonal illnesses, such as the flu, and hectic holiday schedules collectively contributing to more than 28,000 fewer donations than needed in November and December.

In the Southern Blood Services Region, which covers Georgia and parts of Florida and South Carolina, 12 blood drives were forced to cancel due to last week’s winter storm, causing nearly 250 donations to go uncollected.

“Even temporary disruptions to blood and platelet donations can diminish the availability for hospital patients,” said Clifford Numark, senior vice president, Red Cross Blood Services. “It’s the blood on the shelves that helps save lives in an emergency, and that’s why we’re asking eligible individuals to make an appointment to give blood or platelets today.”

While all blood types are urgently needed, there is a more critical need for the following blood and donation types right now:

  • Platelets: The clotting portion of blood primarily given to cancer patients during treatment and always in great demand.
  • Type O negative: The blood type that can be transfused to almost everyone and is what doctors reach for in trauma situations.
  • Type B negative: The blood type that can be transfused to type B Rh-positive and negative patients.
  • Type AB: The plasma type that can be transfused to almost everyone and can be donated through a platelet or plasma donation, where available, or during a regular blood donation.

How to help

Eligible donors can find a blood or platelet donation opportunity and schedule an appointment to donate by using the free Blood Donor App, visiting or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). Donation appointments and completion of a RapidPass are encouraged to help speed up the donation process. RapidPass lets donors complete the pre-donation reading and answer the health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, by visiting from the convenience of a mobile device or computer, or through the Blood Donor App.

Here are where Bloodmobiles are scheduled in our area this month.

1/15/2018: 1 - 6 p.m., Metter Community Center, 435 N. Rountree St., Metter

1/16/2018: 1 - 6 p.m., Higgston Baptist Church, 512 James St., Ailey

1/19/2018: 12 - 6 p.m., Grace Community Presbyterian Church, 274 S. Washington St., Lyons

1/24/2018: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., Vidalia High School, 1001 North St. West, Vidalia

1/25/2018: 8:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m., Jeff Davis High School, 156 Collins St., Hazlehurst

1/30/2018: 1 - 6 p.m., First Baptist Church, 321 West Barnard St., Glennville









January 11--  Eight students from Toombs County qualified for the Dean’s List at Brewton-Parker College in Mount Vernon for the Fall 2017 semester, according to  Dr. Robert Brian, Vice President for Academic Services.

Students are Halee Erin Clemons, Katie Dawson, Grace Alma Jones, Zoe Allena Jones, Marly Jansen Killian, and Carolina Grace Murray, all from Vidalia, and Brenda Tinoco and Julia Toole, both of Lyons

Three Dean's List students from Montgomery County are Megan Hart and Jessica Grace Allen, both of Uvalda, and Morgan Marie Page of Mount Vernon.

One student from Wheeler County, Chloe Elizabeth Hammons of Alamo, made the Dean's List as did one from Emanuel County, Austin Ray Pounds of Adrian.

Qualifying students were enrolled in 12 or more hours and earned a grade point average of 3.6 or better.

January 11-- The nuclear energy industry will need to fill 20,000 positions in the next five years and that's where a cooperative effort between local school systems and Southern Nuclear comes in.

Vidalia Assistant School Superintendent Lucy Claroni says rising eighth-graders in the Vidalia, Toombs, Montgomery and Treutlen schools will be selected to take part, "They're proposing to have a summer academy with ten students from each of the four middle schools in our area.  It would be a week long at the Southeast Early College and Career Academy telling them what careers are possible in the energy field."

Nora Swanson coordinates workforce development for Southern Nuclear, "What we really want to do is kind of open up students' eyes.  The initiative is really to build STEM skills because those Science, Technology, Engineering and Math skills are what our career field needs and also what almost every other career needs.  So, we look at this as a way to engage students in the bigger picture of STEM and introduce them to the possibility of an energy pathway in high school," she said.

Claroni thinks the academy can help students make decisions about what courses to seek in high school, 'Kids will be exposed to a new type of career in energy.  They can take three pathway courses in generation, transmission and distribution and then possibly focus on math and science and see the relevance of what they are doing in school and how it can lead to a career in the future."

Information on jobs in nuclear energy is available at  Other information is also available from the Nuclear Energy Institute,




January 10--  Georgia Governor Nathan Deal administered the oath of office Tuesday to Vidalia attorney Howard Kaufold.  He was appointed last month to fill the unexpired term of Superior Court Judge H. Frederick Mullis in the Oconee Judicial Circuit.

Accompanied by friends and family, Judge Kaufold posed with the Governor at the Capitol following the swearing-in ceremony.

kaufoldoath(L-R) Chad and Kristen Ritchie with daughters Hannah and Rachel; wife Sherri with Judge Kaufold; behind him his sister, Mary Pickle; mother Frances Kaufold; Governor Nathan Deal; behind the Governor brother Mike Kaufold; son-in-law Todd Wiggins and daughter Annie Wiggins with their daughters Laurel Grace and Kate and Vidalia attorney Hugh B. McNatt.

Prior to his appointment, Judge Kaufold practiced law for nearly 40 years and was the county attorney for Toombs and Montgomery counties.

January 9--  A veteran elementary school teacher is the Teacher of the Year in the Treutlen County school system.

sheilaSheila Raiford has been teaching elementary school for 29 years, "I have taught third grade, fourth grade, pre-K and kindergarten and I did a year in second grade and have been teaching first grade about 14 years now.  I enjoy the younger kids and watching them learn when they first learn to read and it all starts falling together which is usually in January or mid-February."

Mrs. Raiford says she chose to be a teacher because of the influence her teachers had on her when she was growing up in the Treutlen school system, "There are some who really stand out and I think that's why I teach.  They helped me through the years.  I was not the greatest student, I was a good student, but I had some like my fourth grade teacher who was probably the best reading teacher that stands out to me.

"I had high school teachers who really stick out like when you have trouble in math or in English, they really push you along.  That's the type of teacher I hope my kids have thought about me through the years, the one who helped them along instead of letting them get lost in the shuffle," she said.

And she's seen a lot of changes in teaching in her nearly 30 years,"When I first started, we taught by what was in the textbooks which were handed us.  Now the state leads with a curriculum and we have to follow that curriculum. Instead of just doing what's in the textbooks everyday, we have to make sure what we teach is lined up with what the state wants us to teach."

Other Treutlen teachers of the year in individual schools are Tina Joiner in elementary grades three through five, Leigh Wilcher in Treutlen Middle School and Miriam Grimes at Treutlen High School. 

January 9--   Sen. Blake Tillery  of Vidalia has been appointed to serve on the Senate Appropriations Committee by Lt. Governor Casey Cagle and the Senate Committee on Assignments.

"I am very honored and excited to join the Senate Appropriations Committee. I am thankful to Lt. Governor Cagle for the opportunity to be able to be more actively involved in our state’s budget process,” said Sen. Tillery. “I hold Appropriations Chairman Jack Hill in high regard. He has a great reputation and demeanor and I am especially excited about working with him. Ensuring that our state’s budget is both fiscally conservative and fair to our citizens is a big task, but I am optimistic that with the help of my Senate colleagues we can create a budget that advances Georgia while remembering every dollar we spend has to come from one of our citizen’s pockets."

In addition to the Appropriations Committee, Sen. Tillery will continue to serve on the Economic Development and Tourism Committee, as Secretary of the very busy Judiciary Committee, and as Vice-Chairman of the State Institutions and Property Committee.

Each piece of legislation in the Senate is assigned to a committee based on its subject matter. If the committee gives the legislation a “do pass” recommendation, then the proposed law is sent to the Rules Committee for consideration. The appointed chairs will oversee the operation and order of Senate committee meetings, including calling for action on bills, resolutions or other matters assigned to that committee.

The second session of the 154th Georgia General Assembly convened yesterday at the Capitol in Atlanta.

January 9--  Newly sworn-in Ward One Lyons City Councilman Larry Griggers has created an online blog to keep his constituents informed on decisions by the city council and how and why he voted on those issues.

The blog is at


January 9--  State Senator Blake Tillery of Vidalia is making another push to reform Georgia's adoption laws.  His efforts as a freshman senator to get the bill passed last year were unsuccessful, but he says the issue is a problem that needs fixing.

blaketillery"The reason is matters is because we've got more than 15,000 foster children who can't find a permanent home.  We're sending out roughly more than 1,400 a year into the world who don't have a family or support system to rely on and we're expecting them to be able to tackle the world without that.  We've got to do a better job on that.

"At the same time, we've got families in Georgia who are going to Florida to adopt children because the laws there are more favorable to them for adoption.  We've got to work that out to insure Georgia families are solving Georgia's problem, not Florida's problem," he said.

Georgia has a ten-day waiting period after an adoption where the natural parents or extended family can reclaim the child if there's a change of heart.  Tillery says that's an obstacle which needs to be addressed.

Meanwhile, Senator Tillery believes the current session of the General Assembly will be impacted by this year's statewide elections, "I think the biggest question we have going into this year is one of uncertainty.  You've got five folks in the body I serve in, the Senate, who are running for governor.  Those folks can't raise money for their governor's race while we're in session, so they're going to want to get out early.  Folks in the House may not have the incentive to get out as early.  That's a dynamic that has nothing to do with the business we're there to pass.

"I'm willing to stay as long as we need to for the issues I think are important.  Those are the things that the House rural caucus passed including broadband and rural healthcare and the ways we try to keep people living in rural Georgia," he said.




November 8-- Instructors at Southeastern Technical College (STC) have nominated twelve of their students for the Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership (GOAL) competition, according to Melissa Rowell, coordinator for the college’s GOAL program.

GOAL, a statewide program of the Technical College System of Georgia, honors excellence in academics and leadership among the state’s technical college students. GOAL winners are selected at each of the state’s 22 technical colleges as well as one Board of Regents college with a technical education division.

Chosen for recognition by their instructors are:

Christy Edge, Welding & Joining Technology, from Treutlen

Kortney Gay, Business Management, from Telfair

Tracer Gould, Associate of Science in Nursing, from Toombs

Lori “Brooke” Harrelson, Dental Hygiene, from Wheeler

LaToya Jackson, Business Healthcare Technology, from Emanuel

Callie Johnson, Dental Hygiene, from Appling

Jennifer Jones, Associate of Science in Nursing, from Emanuel

Sydney “Lauren” Rhoney, Dental Hygiene, from Candler

Regina “Lynn” Stewart, Dental Hygiene, from Bulloch

Noelia Santana, Dental Hygiene, from Tattnall

Joyce Stockdale, Healthcare Science, from Tattnall

Jason Wilcox, Associate of Science in Nursing, from Jeff Davis

 "The purpose of the GOAL program is to spotlight the outstanding achievement by students in Georgia's technical colleges and to emphasize the importance of technical education in today’s global workforce," said Rowell.

A screening committee of administrators at STC will review each of the instructors’ nominations then conduct personal interviews with the students. After the nominees have been ranked, four finalists will then be chosen to compete to be STC’s GOAL winner for 2018.

The four finalists will then take part in another round of interviews and evaluations by a selection committee of representatives from local business and industry. That panel will consider the students’ qualities like academic achievement, personal character, leadership abilities and enthusiasm for technical education.

The student judged most outstanding will be designated as the college’s GOAL winner and move on to the regional competition. Then three from each of the three regions will make up the nine regional finalists, who will be named in April at the state GOAL conference in Atlanta. The nine regional finalists will then move to the state level and compete for the title of State GOAL Winner.

The student who earns the State GOAL Winner title is also awarded the important responsibility of traveling the state as the ambassador for the entire technical college system. To make that travel easier, the winner also receives a new car from Kia Motors, the statewide corporate sponsor of Georgia’s GOAL program.

daisyJanuary 8--  "Daisy" is a mixed-breed pup at the Vidalia Animal Shelter who is friendly with people and other dogs.  She is looking for a family that needs a loving pet. 

If you can give Daisy a forever home, contact April at the Vidalia Animal Shelter on Airport Road, 537-8866.

(Courtesy Altamaha Animal Clinic in Vidalia)

January 8-- On Thursday Jan 4th at approximately 9:37pm, Deputy Autry was on patrol when he spotted a small fire in a wooded area off Tarrytown Road. Deputy Autry had knowledge of a controlled burn in the area, so he stopped to investigate if the fire was part of the controlled burn.

mcfireDeputy Autry quickly realized the fire was not part of the controlled burn area, and that it had jumped the fire break into planted pines, moving quickly towards three residences.

Deputy Autry called for the Tarrytown Fire Department and the Georgia Forestry Commission. The fire departments and Forestry Commission responded quickly and were able to put the fire out.

Thanks to the vigilance of Deputy Autry and the quick response of the Tarrytown, Higgston, and the Montgomery State Prison Fire departments, no injuries or loss of structures were sustained.

January 6--  More economic growth in rural Georgia is among the issues the Georgia legislature is expected to address during its session this year.

gregmorris2015State Representative Greg Morris of Vidalia predicts, "We will have some pretty consequential legislation aimed at helping economic development in rural areas of the state."

Representative Morris says getting trained workers in paramount for industries looking to locate in Georgia, "The reason industries are moving to certain parts of Georgia is because we have a well trained workforce and population to staff their companies.  Rural Georgia is going to have to address first having a trained workforce."

Tax credits, such as those which helped spawn Georgia's growing film industry, may be offered, "There are some controversial plans to present tax credits which would encourage residents to move from more populated regions of the state to less populated regions," Morris said.

He also says efforts to expand access to broadband communications to rural areas will be considered.  In Toombs County, he's supporting an initiative to increase distribution capacity of natural gas needed by the Toombs Corporate Center north of Lyons, "Our capacity is really not what it should be and we do have an effort, I believe it's a $10 million project, that would give us a good reach for natural gas all over our communities," he said.

The General Assembly convenes Monday in Atlanta.


January 5--  A Toombs County farmer has been named to the Farm Service Agency Committee for the state of Georgia by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.

Bo Herndon will serve on the state committee which serves as a liaison between the Department of Agriculture and Georgia producers by keeping them informed and by hearing their appeals and complaints.

boherndonLast June Secretary Perdue visited Herndon Farms with his counterparts from Mexico and Canada.  (L-R) Mexican Secretary of Agriculture Jose Calzada Rovirosa, Secretary Perdue, Bo Herndon and Canadian Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay.

Other members of the Georgia committee are Chairman Allen Poole of Haralson County, Meridith McNair Rogers of Camilla and Donnie Smith of Willacoochee.


 January 5-- Last week Serenity Hospice Care pledged $25,000 to The Tommy and Shirley Strickland Cancer Center in Vidalia where representatives from both organizations met for a check presentation. 

Serenity's David Dixon said,  "At Serenity Hospice, we strive to give back to our local communities and it was important for us to give to the Cancer Center.  We are so blessed to have this local facility to care for patients who are battling cancer."      

serenity(L-R)  Kay Varnadore ,RN, Director of Patient Services at Serenity; Samantha Walker, RN, Director of Cancer Center;

Dr. Geoff Conner, Medical Director at Serenity; Chad Hutcheson, RN, Co-Owner & President of Serenity; LeAnn Stanley, Meadows Foundation Director;

David Dixon, Public Relations Coordinator at Serenity; Julie Hutcheson, Serenity Foundation Coordinator; Keisha Callahan, RN, Clinical Coordinator

January 5-- Brewton-Parker College will host the second annual Defend the Faith Conference on January 20, 2018. Dr. Billy Puckett, Director of Missions for Daniel Baptist Association and Assistant Professor of Theology for Brewton-Parker, started this conference in 2017 to equip youth and college students with the tools necessary for sharing their faith.

The second Defend the Faith Conference will focus on the theology of Creation. Puckett stated, “A strong theology of creation is vital for a solid Christian worldview. Knowing that we are created by God for a purpose enables us to answer important questions about who we are, where we are and why we are here.”

Puckett also said, “Dr. Ricky Cummings,[Pastor of First Baptist Church Vidalia, presents a very strong young earth creationist view. His research on this topic is thorough and his presentation will certainly equip believers to defend a young earth creationist view.”

The conference will consist of two plenary sessions and breakout sessions. Attendees will be able to choose which breakout sessions to attend from options in each time slot.

Puckett stated, “I would like to see our Christian community come together and encourage one another to stand firm in the faith at our second annual Defend the Faith Conference. I would like to see the young people in our area empowered to share their faith boldly.”

The conference will cost $25 per individual, which includes the cost of lunch. This amount can be paid at the door. However, pre-registration is requested. Those interested can contact Puckett at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to receive a link to the registration form.

January 5--  Two new members of the Lyons City Council and a veteran councilman took oaths of office at the January meeting of the council Thursday night.

lyonsoathToombs County Probate Judge Larry Threlkeld swore in (L-R) new Ward 4 Councilman John Moore, Jr., Mayor Pro Tem and Ward 2 Councilman Ben Mitchell who was first elected in 1988, and new Ward 1 member Larry Griggers.

The council also awarded a $596,961 contract to Sikes Brothers, Inc. for street drainage improvements in the Stewart Street area. 

Most of the project will be paid for with a $500,000 community development grant from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

January 4--  A newly elected city councilman and two veteran city officials took oaths of office at a called meeting of the Vidalia City Council Thursday night.

triooathToombs County Probate Judge Larry Threlkeld conducted the ceremony for (L-R) new Ward 2 Councilman Greg Johnson, Mayor Ronnie Dixon who is starting his seventh term of office and Ward 1 Councilman Cecil Thompson who begins his fifth term.

The January meeting of the city council will be held next Wednesday at six p.m. at the Vidalia Municipal Annex.


January 5--  Toombs County Commission Chairman David Sikes is completing his first year in office and is proud of what the commissioners and county employees accomplished in 2017.

davidsikes"The biggest highlight for me this year was our road department building which was built in 1968 next to the courthouse.  We commissioned the building of a new one and it will be finished in the first quarter of 2018.  This one will be taken down and that's something that has needed to be moved and updated.  It will now be in a more central location in the county and we'll have more parking here at the courthouse," he said.

The county has improved more than 20 miles of roads, "What were trying to do is turn more dirt surfaces into hard surfaces whether it be through surface treatment, asphalt or maintenance of our existing roads," he says, "plus we're planning to widen the Lyons-Center Road this summer."

An ongoing program to improve county recreation department facilities at Toombs Central is nearing completion, "We want to bring professionalism to what we do and bring professionalism for our children and for the parents of these kids. We've got great football and baseball facilities being completed this year and it's something to be proud of as a community," Sikes said.

The chairman lauds the work of the county's volunteer fire departments and their work to improve fire protection and bring down fire insurance premiums for county residents, "Within a file mile radius of every one of our volunteer fire departments, we've lowered the insurance ratings and it's saving anywhere from $200 to $500 dollars per household and it's amazing what the volunteer fire departments are doing for the citizens of the county," he said.

Even better, Chairman Sikes says its all been done without raising county taxes, '"That's what I'm really all about, not asking the taxpayers for anymore than what they've already given us and working within the means we have.  The former commission lowered taxes four years in a row.  That's wonderful and it's left us with a balanced budget."

"I've got three more years and I assure everyone in this county I'll give you everything I have and I'm thankful that everyone has given me this chance," the chairman said.

2017 Review


  • Installed Flashing Stop and Caution Lights at 10 intersections
  • Applied for and Received State Safety Grant to redesign intersection at SR 178 and Johnson Corner Road – to be completed in 1st Quarter 2018
  • Applied for and received a Federal Grant for widening Lyons-Center Road by two (2) feet on each side. Contract to be let in July 2018 and managed by GDOT


  • Implemented Year 1 of 10 year paved road improvement plan by armor coating (HA5) 26 roads for a total of 14 miles
  • Paved 7 roads for a total of 3 miles
  • Acquiring ROW’s for paving two roads with CDBG Funds to be completed in 2018
  • Purchased a new motor grader, renovated an existing motor grader and purchased a new dump truck


  • Begin renovation of the Toombs County Recreation Department Complex
  • Football Field complex is 85% complete
  • Baseball Field is 75% complete
  • Cedar Crossing Community Center Track and Parking lot was seal coated and striped
  • Installed new well at Cedar Crossing Community Center


  • Awarded Contract and began construction of new Public works building and demolition and removal of old public works building to be completed in 1st quarter 2018
  • Seal coated and striped Toombs County Health Department Building parking lot
  • New Brick Signs at Health Department
  • Purchased a new HVAC system for kitchen at Detention Center
  • Purchased a new camera monitoring system at the Detention Center
  • Began the process of interviewing and selecting firms to complete a feasibility study for the courthouse and detention center improvement with the firm to be selected in 1st quarter 2018


  • Renovated two (2) water tankers for rural fire department expanding their water capacity by 5,000 gallons each
  • Expanded two (2) fire stations; Marvin Yancey Fire Department Station and McNatt Falls Fire Station
  • Purchased a Fire Truck for Marvin Yancey Fire Department
  • Purchased a Fire Truck for Cedar Crossing Fire Department
  • Completed a water shuttle test for all three (3) departments which lowered their ISO ratings


  • Purchased a new ambulance


  • Recognition as 1 of 7 counties in Georgia as a County of Distinction
  • Closed out a 2008 FEMA project – Dees Pond Dam Project
  • No change in the net millage rate
  • FINALLY, survived Hurricane Irma with little disruption in delivering county services.

January 4--  Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits reports the following arrests.

Sprull, Cynthia Kay – W/F – 38 YOA – 102 Oliver St, Clarksburg WV – State Warrants from Pembroke PD

Wilcox, Calvin Eugene -B/M- 33 YOA- 198-2 Jones Street Lyons, GA- Driving While License Suspended

Trevino, Doroteo- W/M- 47 YOA- 417 NW Ward Collins, GA- No Insurance 1st/No Driver’s License

Rowland, Austin Heath- W/M- 21 YOA- 705 Donovan St. Apt. C Vidalia, GA- DUI- 1st Offense (Bench Warrant)

Lopez, Alfonso Intzin- H/M- 31 YOA- 203 College St. Vidalia, GA- No Driver’s License/Seatbelt Violation

Ford, Darrell Donta- B/M- 34 YOA- 855 Longview Rd. Swainsboro, GA- Warrant Served (Parole)

Pohl, Brittany Renee- W/F- 20 YOA- 1980 South Westcliff Road Odessa, TX- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense

Reyes, Jennifer Annette-W/F- 40 YOA- 1980 South Westcliff Road Odessa, TX- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Terrence Thomas, Lyons, Warrant Served

Loren Evans, Lyons, Warrant Served, Driving while license suspended/revoked, open container, windshield violation, impeding traffic

Angela Eason, Lyons, No insurance

Jeremy Pittman, Vidalia, DUI, possession of drug related objects, driving without license on person, tail/tag light violations

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

12/26-Dixey Lyn McGee, Soperton, Failure to Stop at Stop Sign, Driving w/Suspended License

 12/26-Richard Neil Smith, Uvalda, Fleeing/Attempting to Elude, Possession of Marijuana <1oz., Reckless Driving

 12/28-Tony Orlando Burch, Uvalda, Misdemeanor Probation Violation

 12/31-Kirby Michael Allmond, Vidalia, DUI, Improper Turn


January 4--  City leaders in Lyons are hoping 2018 is the year they can make Toombs Corporate Center north of the city more competitive when it comes to attracting new industry.

willisnesmith2Mayor Willis NeSmith is hopeful the city can add capacity to its North Wastewater Treatment Plant, "We think we can handle a one million gallon per day plant and that's what we're looking at right now." 

Bids for a 1.5 million gallon capacity plant came in way above budget, so the city engineer is looking at cutbacks, "The million-and-a-half plant is just way too much for us, so we're cutting back and going with a million gallon plant.  If we have to cut back with that, we can still refurbish the plant and still have enough capacity, however, we really have to look to the future for the industry that we can get to come in.  That's why we need to look at the one million gallon plant and I think it's feasible, but we've really got to cut some numbers on it.  It's all about jobs and that's why we're here, to get it done," he said.

The other stumbling block is the availability of more natural gas for industries that need it,"The two things they are really looking at is natural gas and the water and sewer.  The natural gas line is something the Development Authority is working on.  It's a regional thing and is something we've all got to work on and we're going to bust it to get our sewer plant upgraded," Mayor NeSmith said.

The city is also rebidding a community development project that came in too high for street improvements on Stewart Avenue.

Last year the city was able to improve traffic near the Toombs County High School with construction of Parker Street Extension and lane changes on Bulldog Road where it intersects with Highway 280.

The mayor is also pleased with successes in 2017 regarding the Tales of the Altamaha folk play, free admittance to the Real Squeal BBQ and Music Festival which boosted attendance and revenue, and a banner year for Southeast Georgia Soap Box Derby participants who brought home three world championship trophies from the international race in Akron, Ohio.

"We ended up very well.  We've had a good bit of accomplishments this year and that's the one thing all of us on the council want and that's quality of life.  We want a good police force, we want to try and keep taxes low and give our citizens good infrastructure with good water, sewer and roads, just everything we can do," he observed.

January 3-- The Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) Class of 2017 graduated in a pinning ceremony from Southeastern Technical College on the Vidalia campus.

The members of the ASN graduating class were: Shelby Allen, Kirby Allmond, Melanie Bailey, Breana Barnes, Alexis Byrd, Rick Cliett, James Coto, Cayla Dyal, Chelsea Dyches, Addison Fisher, Justin Griffin, Chelsea Hadden, Ashley Hall, Nikki Hayes, Macy Hughes, Megan Kersey, Kelley Moore, Scarlett Newman, Samantha Page, Melissa Palma, Coertze Peters, Naomi Pevey, Marlenne Santana, Meghann Sherrod, LaDeshia Simpkins, Jackie Thigpen, Allie Threlkeld, Jamie Vizi, Katelyn White, Kristi Whitney, Keri Williams, and Hal Wilson.

Donna Jean Braddy, ASN Program Instructor at STC, welcomed everyone to the ASN pinning ceremony and congratulating the graduates. “I am standing here tonight like a proud mamma,” says Braddy. “I am so proud of my children, here, sitting on stage.” Braddy recalls the first day of class in August of 2016. “These graduates have worked hard to get to this moment in their lives. Tonight is really not the end, but the beginning of a very rewarding career in the healthcare field.”

Sam Oates, APRN, CPNP spoke about some of the changes in the medical field that she has seen in her 40 plus years of being a nurse. “We change…we nurses are great with changing with technology,” says Oates. “We are great at making do with what we've got in any situation and if you’re not now, you will learn to be. But there are things that have not changed in nursing: listening to our patients, conversations with our patients, touch – how you make a patient feel.” In her last remarks, she tells the students, “go forth, treat the world, have fun, be proud people, be proud that you are a nurse; there is no other more noble calling.”

Graduates were then awarded their pins by Donna Jean Braddy, Jennifer Corner, and Heather Williams, STC’s ASN instructors.

Coertze Peters, ASN Class President, gave the closing remarks. Peters reflected on the good times, as well as the difficult times that had to be endured together. In closing, he thanked the class, “It was a tremendous honor to serve this class. I could not have asked to be associated with a better bunch of people. We were competitive, but never at the expense of friendship. We were serious, but never at the expense of fun. We were ourselves, but never at the expense of what we wanted to be, nurses. And that you are today.”

ASNPinning2017Front L-R: Melanie Bailey, Keri Williams, Marlene Santana, Jamie Vizi, Allie Threlkeld, Chelsea Hadden, Cayla Dyal, Shelby Allen, Megan Kersey, Ashley Hall, Macy Hughes, Chelsea Dyches

Back L-R: Jackie Thigpen, Samantha Page, Katelyn White, Kelley Moore, Kristi Whitney, Alexis Byrd, Rick Cliett, James Coto, Addison Fisher, Hal Wilson, Justin Griffin, Curt Peters, Kirby Allmond, Nikki Hayes, Melissa Palma, Bre Barnes, LaDeisha Simpkins and Scarlett Newman

January 3-- State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said today that the number of employed residents and the labor force in the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha region fell in November.

Meanwhile, the number of unemployment insurance claims increased.  

“Even though the November numbers seem to be flat, for the year the area is doing very well,” Butler said. “I expect the local jobs market to improve again in 2018.”

In November the number of residents with jobs declined by 114 to 110,688. From November a year ago, the number of employed residents was up by 1,158.

The area’s labor force, which includes the total number of residents with jobs and those unemployed but looking for work, decreased to 117,033, down by 907 in November. The labor force is up by 68 since November 2016.  

Unemployment claims were up by 5 percent to 2,344. Claims were up in manufacturing and construction. When compared to last November, claims were by 61 percent from 1,456.

The November unemployment rate, at 5.4 percent, was down from 6.1 percent in October. The November rate compares favorably to last November when the rate was 6.4 percent.

Employ Georgia, the GDOL’s online job listing service at showed 785 new active job postings in the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha region for November.

January 3--  Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight is warning motorists about black ice on the roads in southeast Georgia.

SNOWBROWNINGROADThe sheriff says several accidents have already occurred as freezing temperatures cause roads to ice up and cars to spin out of control.  He says there have been no serious injuries so far, however, he urges you to stay off the roads if at all possible.

The snowfall has been heaviest in the southwestern part of Toombs County, according to the sheriff.

This photo courtesy Cody Clifton on Browning Road near Alson earlier this morning.


December 29--  As a new year kicks off, veteran Vidalia Mayor Ronnie Dixon is optimistic and hoping for job growth in the Sweet Onion City.

mayordixon"The secret to the economy is creating jobs and I think we've done a pretty good job of that, but we do need some new industry and we need to create some new retail which brings a lot of people in.  That's what we need to do and I think we're still going to be moving forward.  The cities and county have been working together for the last year or so and it certainly makes a difference when you work together.  Hopefully we can accomplish some big things in 2018," he said.

The major infrastructure project in the new year will be in the Bay Street area,"We have a community development grant for Bay Street for water and sewer improvements and that's probably our bigger project for 2018," meanwhile, two multi-million dollar projects for this year are wrapping up,"2017 was really good and we had a couple of big projects going on.  We haven't completely finished them including the Pal Theater which was one of our big projects and the new Aquatic Center or swimming pool will certainly be finished in the first half of 2018.  Also, we were able to finish the addition to the Boys and Girls Club with a grant that provided a nice new gymnasium," the Mayor noted.

There are also some new faces in city government, "We've had a lot of changes.  Our city manager for 25 years retired and Nick Overstreet has come in and is doing an excellent job.  In  the recreation department, we've had a couple retiring including Tommy Sasser, the director for 24 years, and his assistant Gary Adams retired plus we've got a longtime city councilman retiring.  So, we've had some changes but they'll be for the better, we think," he said.

Mayor Dixon also believes that the current challenge of improving natural gas distribution in the region will be fixed in the next couple of years,"It's really a necessity if you're going to bring in some types of industry.  Some of them don't need it, but the majority do.  We are trying to get the natural gas people to bring it it.  It's very costly but I'm sure it's going to happen in the next couple of years," he predicted.

January 3--  Here are the latest closings due to today's snow and ice conditions in Southeast Georgia.


January 2--  Treutlen County Schools are closed.  The Treutlen basketball games at Savannah Christian Wednesday have also been postponed to a later date.

The Toombs County High School's basketball games tonight with St. Vincent's and Benedictine are rescheduled to January 22.

Vidalia Heritage Academy has cancelled classes Wednesday and Thursday for students and faculty.

Montgomery County schools are closed Thursday.  Staff and students report at the regular time Friday.

Tattnall Co. Schools are closed Thursday according to WTOC.

Vidalia City School's staff members do not report for duty Thursday but will report on Friday.  School resumes Monday.

Staff members for Toombs County schools do not have to report to work Thursday.


Chicken of the Sea is delaying plant start-up until Thursday, however, admin and maintenance personnel should report if they can do so safely.

For hourly associates, Sanitation should report Wednesday at 5 p.m.; Thaw workers should report Wednesday at 10 p.m; Pack plus Label & Case workers should report Thursday morning at six o'clock.  Employees with questions should call their immediate supervisor or call the company hotline at 912-805-6143.

Vidalia Federal Savings Bank is closed Wednesday afternoon.


The Toombs-Montgomery Chamber of Commerce Pre-Legislative Breakfast scheduled for Thursday morning is cancelled.

The Toombs County Service Center in Lyons is closed Wednesday.

Smith Street Baptist Church services for Wednesday night are cancelled.

Montgomery County government offices are closed until Thursday morning at 8:30 o'clock.

The Toombs County Courthouse is closed until 10 a.m. Thursday.

Paul Thigpen Chevrolet is closed until 8:00am Thursday.