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February 27--  A million babies a year are being killed by abortion clinics in America and organizations like Planned Parenthood and it's time for pro-life men to take a strong stand, according to the keynote speaker at the annual Rachel's House banquet Tuesday night in Vidalia.

rachelshouseKaty Sammons and Dr. Marc Newman

Pro-life counselor Dr. Marc Newman said, "The culture has largely marginalized men regarding the abortion issue.  Our culture is telling a lot of men that if they don't have an uterus, they don't have an opinion, so they're telling pro-life men to butt out.  I'm telling men that over a million human beings are being killed every single year through abortion in this country. 

"Men need to step us and the best way they can do this is to partner with pregnancy resource centers and clinics such as Rachel's House.  These people are literally standing in the gap.  There are women walking in there making a life or death decision for their child every single day that their doors are open.  That's why they need to be fully funded and fully staffed and then we need to get our message out everywhere.

"The message of Planned Parenthood is that what's in a woman's body from the moment of conception is nothing more than a blob of tissue.  The true message is that for every human being, life begins at conception.  It is wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human being.  Abortion intentionally kills an innocent human being, therefore, abortion is wrong."

In the eight years since opening its doors, Rachel's House has saved the lives of more than 160 babies in our area, according to Director Katy Sammons,"Our goal is to reach women who are in crisis pregnancy situations and don't know what to do and are considering an abortion.  We talk them through this decision-making process and help them make a decision for life.  I say help because we are not using coercion or manipulation or guilt or any tactics like that."

The services provided by Rachel's House, including ultrasound, are free.  For information, go to


February 27-- The City of Lyons is committed to implementing programs that provide safe and reliable service to all of our customers. To that effect, the City has partnered with Georgia Power to install an Automated Meter Reading system (AMI) that makes reading meters more efficient, accurate and provides benefits to both the City and our customers.

Within the next few months there will be contractors working throughout the City changing out water meters so please do not be alarmed. You may experience a period where your water will be off but only should be for a short time span.

Once the new meter is installed there may be reasons where your meter will still need be read manually. Once the system is up and running you will no longer see a city employee visiting your meter monthly.

What benefits are there to Automatic Meter Reading (AMI)?

• AMI provides early leak detection and save our customers and the City thousands of dollars every year. After installation and everything is running correctly you will be given the opportunity to access your water billing account through a web portal which will allow you to update contact data, review usage, and instruct us how you would like to be contacted if your meter detects a leak or problem.

• AMI eliminates the need for a water meter reader to visit your premises monthly and it will improve the accuracy of every bill.
The City is excited to be able to offer this service to its customers. We ask for your patience during the transition and understanding as we adjust to this new system. Please call City Hall at 912-526-3626 if you have any questions or concerns.

February 25--  There was good and bad news in the annual report for 2017 from the Vidalia Police Department.

The bad news is that, when compared to 2016, robberies increased from two to seven and aggravated assaults were up from 43 to 50, however, on the plus side, the amount of overall crime decreased and armed robberies and burglaries went down, according to Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits.

"Our major crime index is down eight percent from last year, but if you look at some of the categories, for example, homicides in 2015 we had none, in 2016 we had one and in 2017 we had one, but if you look at the rape stats, in 2015 we had one, in 2016 we had one and in 2017 we had two and those kind of skew your numbers, but overall we are down eight percent.

"In 2015 we had nine armed robberies, in 2016 we had seven and in 2017 we had four.  Burglaries were down 21 from last year.  It may not sound like a lot, but it's a lot for an area this size and Vidalia is a very safe place to live," he said.

Fewer juveniles were arrested for crimes last year, but there was an increase  of 19 in adults arrested for a total of 578, "The investigators have a higher crime solve rate than they did last year.  We're running right at 40 to 45% and the national crime solve rate is 25%.  I'm very proud of the investigators and all of our people for helping to get these crimes solved," Chief Waits said.

February 23--  State Senator Blake Tillery of Vidalia reports on that past week in the Georgia Senate.

This week in the Senate we heard 19 pieces of legislation on the floor. Our days were filled with long mornings in chamber and longer afternoons in committee meetings. We are working harder than ever, as evidenced by the number of bills that passed on the floor this week.

Some of the most exciting legislation to come before the General Assembly in a long time, House Bill 918, was introduced earlier this week and passed in the House. You may have heard of this legislation because it would reduce the top income tax percentage from 6 percent to 5.75 percent in 2019 and 5.5 percent in 2020. In addition to this, it would also double the standard deduction from $3,000 to $6,000. This bill is now in the Senate for consideration and I look forward to seeing it pass our chamber and being brought to the governor for his signature.

This is great news for all Georgians. Not only are we lowering taxes for everyone, but we are also maintaining a balanced budget. The reason this was able to happen was a result of the tax cuts on the federal level and because of our leader’s foresight to realize that if we didn’t lower taxes now, we could inadvertently be paying more in taxes in the future. I am happy to support this bill and look forward to allowing Georgians to keep more of their money in their pockets. This bill represents just the beginning for tax cuts for Georgians as we hope to continue to find other ways to reduce government’s burden on your pockets while still providing you with the best state in which to live, work and raise a family.

Another bill that I know many from our district will be happy to hear about is the rural broadband bill, SB 402, which passed on the Senate floor on Friday and is also known as the “Achieving Connectivity Everywhere Act”. The bill proposes ‘renting out’ the right of ways on interstates to lay fiber optic cables. These cables would bring internet access to areas of our state that don’t currently have the reliable and speedy internet those in more populated areas enjoy. This broadband bill also has the potential to bring in $50 to $100 million in revenue from the renting out the right-of-ways along our interstates, so it also represents a positive financial investment for our state.

Thank you again for the opportunity to serve you. Next week will be one of the busiest weeks yet in the Senate as we already have 29 pieces of legislation set for Monday. We still have the General FY 2019 Budget to pass and the income tax cut package, but we hope to get those done in the next few weeks. Let me know if there are any questions or concerns you have about this legislation. I’m more than happy to talk to you about bills you find important.

February 24--  Montgomery County attorney John Morrison is running for Magistrate Judge in Montgomery County.  He issued the following announcement Friday.

MT. VERNON, GA. --- Local Attorney John Morrison has announced his candidacy for the position of Chief Magistrate Judge of Montgomery County, Georgia. The Current Magistrate Judge Mona Bell is retiring from the position as her term ends on 31 December 2018. John Morrison is running to fill the position and is basing his campaign on his prior experience as the Chief Magistrate Judge, his extensive legal training as a licensed attorney in Georgia with his almost 24 years experience practicing law in the area, and his pledge to reduce the Magistrate Court’s annual budget by 20% or more while improving the overall quality of service. The election will be held on the 22nd day of May, 2018.

John Morrison’s and his family have extensive ties to Montgomery County. John graduated from Montgomery County High School. He is a veteran of the US Army and Georgia Army National Guard. He graduated from Georgia Tech with a Bachelor of Engineering Science and Mechanics. He worked as a scientist in the industry before returning and joining the faculty of Georgia Tech where he taught graduate courses and did classified research and development for the Department of Defense. This led to his position as a Senior Consultant at NASA’s JSC Mission Control, in the Houston, Texas area.

John accepted a full Presidential Scholarship to Washburn University School of law. He graduated a semester early, while running a computer consulting business and serving on the faculty of the Physics Department at the same time.

After returning and passing the Georgia Bar, John opened his law practice in Mt. Vernon in the family home place across from the post office. He practices law there to this day. John served as the Montgomery County Chief Magistrate from 1994 to the beginning of 1997. Over the course of his career so far, John has served as Wheeler County’s Attorney and attorney the cities of Mt. Vernon, Alamo, and Higgston City Attorneys. In addition, John Morrison has served as the Treutlen County State Court Public Defender; and the Laurens County District Attorney Pro Tem. All on a part time basis in addition to managing his thriving private law practice.

John Morrison has pledged to structure the Magistrate Court in much the same way as he ran it in the mid 1990’s. By staffing the office full time with a well trained Clerk and Deputy Magistrate who works under his close supervision, while John works part time hearing the cases and managing the office. He will accept as compensation less than half the current salary of the Chief Magistrate Judge. In this way, John Morrison says he can reduce the total annual budget of the Magistrate Court by over 20%. Further, with his extensive legal training and experience, John Morrison believes he can provide Montgomery County with an exceptionally high level of judicial performance. John said he is committed to being available day or night when needed by law enforcement, yet all citizens will be treated fairly and equally under the law, thus making a positive contribution to Montgomery County’s legal process. Something he says the citizens of Montgomery County certainly deserve.

February 23--  Students from three area high schools took part in the annual speech competition sponsored by the Vidalia Rotary Club.  The winner will be announced later and take part in district Rotary competition.

rotaryspeech(L-R) Kevyn Perez and Abby Hutchinson, Toombs County High School; Nancy McKenzie, Vidalia High School and Travis Williams, Robert Toombs Christian Academy.

February 23--  Members of the Toombs County 4-H chapter attended the February meeting of the Toombs County Commission.  The 4-H'rs earlier took part in the annual Project Achievement weekend at Rock Eagle and were recognized for their roles in the competition.

4hrockeaglePlacing first among high school students at Rock Eagle were Deyra Colmenares, Kacey Scarboro and Jodi Kramer. 

First place finishers in grades 7-8 were Desirae Cannon, Jadylyyn Hooks, Brantley Grace Smith, Keishay Smith and Kaitlyn Story.

February 23--U.S. Congressman Rick Allen (R-Ga.-12) today announced his staff will be holding Community Office Hours across the 12th district during the month of March.

These office hours offer the opportunity for constituents to receive personal assistance from Congressman Allen’s office in their local communities. There will be no formal presentation nor will Congressman Allen be in attendance. The office hours are about one-on-one visits between staff and GA-12 constituents. Staff will be available to assist with a number of federal issues, including problems with federal agencies, such as Social Security, Veterans Affairs, Medicare, and others.

Congressman Allen stated, “Constituent service is a top priority of mine, and my staff and I stand ready to help with issues at the federal level.  I am pleased to offer this opportunity for my office to provide constituents direct assistance closer to home.”

We do not hold community office hours in Richmond, Toombs, Laurens, or Bulloch counties due to the fact that we have permanent offices located there. Please see below for a list of Community Office Hours dates, times and locations by county:

Columbia County

City of Grovetown
103 Old Wrightsboro Road
Grovetown, GA 30813
Thursday, March 1 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Burke County

County Commission Boardroom, Burke County Courthouse
111 E. 6th Street
Waynesboro, GA
Thursday, March 1 from 9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Effingham County

Effingham County Board of Commissioners Administrative Complex
601 N. Laurel Street
Springfield, GA 31329
Thursday, March 1 from 12:30 – 2:00 p.m.

Screven County

Screven County Courthouse, Commission Boardroom
216 Mims Road
Sylvania, GA
Thursday, March 1 from 2:45 – 4:15 p.m.

Treutlen County

Treutlen County Commissioners Office
1830 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive
Soperton, GA
Friday, March 2 from 9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

Montgomery County

Montgomery County Courthouse
Mount Vernon, GA
Friday, March 2 from 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Wheeler County

Alamo City Hall
105 Commerce St.
Alamo, GA
Friday, March 2 from 1:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Coffee County

Douglas/Coffee County Chamber of Commerce
114 North Peterson Avenue
Douglas, GA 31533
Tuesday, March 6 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Jeff Davis County

Chamber of Commerce
95 East Jarmin Street
Hazlehurst Georgia
Tuesday, March 6 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 pm

Candler County

Metter City Hall
49 S. Rountree St.
Metter, GA 30439
Thursday, March 8 from 9:30 a.m. – 11:00 am.

Emanuel County

Emanuel County Commission Board Room
101 N. Main St.
Swainsboro, GA 30401
Thursday, March 8 from 12:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Jenkins County

Millen City Hall
919 College Avenue
Millen, GA
Thursday, March 8 from 3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m

Appling County

Appling Courthouse Annex
Commissioners Meeting Room
69 Tippins Street
Baxley, GA 31513
Wednesday, March 21 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

Tattnall County

Glennville Welcome Center
136 South Veterans Boulevard
Glennville, GA 30427
Wednesday, March 21 from 12:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Evans County

Claxton City Hall
206 W. Railroad Avenue
Claxton, Georgia 30417
Wednesday, March 21 from 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. 

February 23-- Junior ROTC cadets from the local Thunderbolt Regiment participated in Drill Competition last weekend.

drillThe purpose of the drill competition is to assess the Cadets' efficiency in performing regulation drill movements and their ability to maintain discipline and composure while performing these precision routines. Most of the routines consist of over 50 commands that the Drill Team Commander must memorize and perform in order. Any deviations result in lost points. These Cadets train for hours every day to ensure that they perfect the commands. The Drill Team helps develop Cadets that have high levels of discipline, composure, confidence and leadership. 

The teams that competed at the Drill Competition included the Thunderbolts Regiment with cadets from  Vidalia Comprehensive High School, Toombs County High School, Treutlen County High School and Montgomery County High School.  Teams also came from Southeast Bulloch High School, Statesboro High School, Metter High School and Bryan County High School. 

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

Flagler, Joyce Lynn W/F 61 YOA/ 707 Loop Rd. 3A Vidalia Ga./ State Warrant (Toombs County)

Dennison, Parker Preston W/M 21 YOA 256 Skidridge Rd. Collins, Ga./ Possession Of Marijuana -1oz, Wrong Class Of Driver’s License

Hall, Al Antonio Maurice B/M 33 YOA 205 Jones St. Vidalia Ga./ State Warrant served VPD (2 Counts Of Battery (FVA)/ Cruelty To Children/Criminal Interference With Government Property

Sapp, Michael Neil - W/M 40 YOA/ 672 Gladys Holland Rd. Claxton, Ga./ Theft By Shoplifting 1st Offense

Guiser,Kristie Marie – W/F 35YOA/ 609 Hartzell Rd. Norton, Ohio/ Parole Violation

Lewis, Earnesha A. - B/F 17 YOA/ 600 Washington St. Vidalia, Ga. / Disorderly Conduct

Thompson, Danielle - B/F 32 YOA/ 1208 Easter Dr. Apt, 30 Vidalia, Ga./ Driving While License Suspended Or Revoked 1st, Speeding

Clark, Melvin- B/M- 50 YOA- 406 Adams St. Apt. A Vidalia, GA- Theft by Shoplifting (Felony-State Warrant)/Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense

Matthews, Laquanda S. - B/F- 25 YOA- 1208 Easter Dr. Apt. 65 Vidalia, GA- Forgery-1st Degree

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Al Cheley, Cobbtown, driving while unlicensed

John Tillman, Surrency, possession of marijuana, possession of a controlled substance, headlight violation

Hope Newsome, Kite, DUI

Triderek Hunt, Lyons, driving while license suspended/revoked

Tommy Davis, Lyons, shoplifting, criminal trespass

Natalices Callaway, Macon, inoperative brake lights, child restraint violation

Tracy York, Lyons, DUI, driving while license suspended/revoked, improper start

Vince Howard, Lyons, disorderly conduct

Stephen Jones, Lyons, warrant served

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Steven Hutcheson, Soperton, hold for Treutlen Co Sherff's Office

Jesus Mata, Lyons, DUI, failure to maintain lane

Juan Ramirez, Reidsville, driving while unlicensed, headlight violation

Sheila Riner, Tarrytown, bond violation

Khitsten Cashman, Lyons, probation violation

Cody Deal, Statesboro, DUI, failure to maintain lane, brake lights and turn signals

Patrick Deen, Vidalia, driving while license suspended/revoked

Yashika Salem, Baxley, speeding, driving while license suspended/revoked

Marty Walters, Hartsville, SC, probation violation

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

02/12-Robert Bryant Powell, Jr., Mount Vernon, Aggravated Assault

 02/12-Sarah Freeman, Augusta, Possession of Controlled Substance

 02/12-John Whitt, Augusta, Possession of Marijuana, Possession of Methamphetamine, Possession of Controlled Substance (x2), Driving w/License Suspended

 02/13-Zachery William Phillips, Uvalda, Bondsman Off Bond

 02/13-Ray Sellers, Jr., Tifton, Possession of Marijuana <1oz.

 02/16-wilbert Jeremiah Baker, Hazlehurst, DUI/Drugs, Possession of Marijuana <1oz., Possession of Controlled Substance, Headlight Violation, Driving While Unlicensed

 02/17-Dustin Chase Wilson, Kite, DUI, No Brake Lights, Seat Belt Violation

 02/17-Jim Curry, Glenwood, Driving w/Suspended License, Speeding

 02/18-Brannon Christopher McClammy, Lizella, DUI




February 22--  In local business news, Vidalia car dealer Paul Thigpen Thursday announced the formation of Paul Thigpen Automotive Group and the acquisition of Vidalia Ford-Lincoln, something he tried to do five years ago.

ptcmillerPaul Thigpen, left, with his Ford-Lincoln partner Anthony Miller.

"Most people don't realize this, but I tried to buy the Ford dealership here before I tried to buy GM.  It was a big old circle, but it's worked out like it was supposed to," Thigpen said.

The current Ford dealer, Anthony Miller, becomes Paul's partner is what is now Paul Thigpen Ford-Lincoln, "Awesome and I can't wait to get started. Five years ago Paul tried to buy the store and I said, 'Paul, that's my baby and I can't do it.'  Now, five years later, we've come full circle.  We're partners and I'm very excited."

ptcfamilyThe Thigpen family (L-R) son Nelson, wife & mother Lillian, daughters Sarah (back) & Eva and Paul.

Thigpen grew up poor and credits his success to hard work and his faith.  His advice to young people just getting started is based on that creed, "Be willing to work for what you want.  If you're not willing to work for it, don't whine and moan because you don't have what your Momma has or your Daddy has, don't fuss about it, look at them.  You will very rarely find somebody who has success who doesn't work really, really hard.

"If you want to be that person, you've got to be willing to work for it. If you are, treat people the way you want to be treated and do what's right when nobody's looking.  That's the one that gets them, that's the one that gets them, do what's right when nobody's looking.  When you think nobody's looking, still do what's right. Work hard and everything else works out, and prayer.  For me, it's prayer, more than anything, it's prayer." he said.


February 21--  Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight is charging a local educator with cruelty to animals.

The sheriff reports the charges were filed after investigators found two dead dogs in the yard of Dr. Henry Hankerson at 471 Bostwick Circle just south of Vidalia.

20180221 HankersonHenryLeslie"We got a call from some neighbors and went to investigate and found a dog that was deceased in the yard.  We did find one that was in a bag that we didn't find the first time.  We went back and did some more looking around and that dog had been dead for some time.  The other dog was decomposed and swollen.  It was on a chain and there was no food there.  Water was in the bowls but it looked like rain water," Sheriff Kight said.

Dr. Hankerson was the assistant principal at J.R. Trippe Middle School in Vidalia until the end of the 2016 school term when he became the assistant principal and athletic director at Baldwin County High School in Milledgeville.

Investigators report Dr. Hankerson's mother stayed at the house in his absence and is also a person of interest in the case.

Sheriff Kight says the investigation is continuing, "Right now he's charged with a misdemeanor, but that could change to a felony.  We're getting all of the evidence together and talking to folks and then we'll sit down and talk with the District Attorney about it and go from there.  You know not feeding a dog is one thing, but when  a dog dies from not being fed, malnutrition, that's more severe and is cruelty," he said.

The sheriff said Dr. Hankerson has refused to comment to investigators regarding the case.  He's been released on a $5,000 bond.



January 20--  The administrator of a senior citizens home in Statesboro has advice for caregivers of Alzheimer's patients.

chandler"Make sure you keep yourself healthy.  If you get sick or anything happens to you, you're not helping the person you've got to care for.  Be sure you take care of yourself with proper diet and exercise to include some time away from the person who has been diagnosed.  Find another family member to help you out or do some respite care at a memory care unit," advised Chandler Dennard when he spoke to Vidalia Kiwanians Tuesday.

There is no cure yet for Alzheimer's and Dennard says there are signs to warn you of the disease, "A loss in short term and long term memory.  Changes in behavior like something as simple as we're at the Kiwanis Club today and your loved one loved coming to the Kiwanis Club and now all of a sudden they forget  they've got a meeting on Tuesday or all of a sudden they don't feel like going to the Kiwanis Club.  That type thing, a change of behavior, is a clue that there's something just not right."

Dennard says the disease is usually well along by the time there is a diagnosis and urges family members to be proactive, "Have a hard conversation with the person who has been diagnosed and get all your affairs in order.  Find a good doctor, someone who is experienced with the Alzheimer's diagnosis, and third, have a team in place.  A team of people who are going to help you take care of that loved one, whether it be family members or a facility that has memory care, make sure you have that team available that is going to help you," he said.

Dennard has been director of the Willow Pond Senior Care Center in Statesboro for the past 12 years.  Prior to that he was the head basketball coach at Brentwood Academy in Sandersville  and Bulloch Academy.

For information on Alzheimer's, Dennard advises you go to




juniorFebruary 20--  Junior is an eight-month old Bulldog mix waiting for a "Forever Home" at the Vidalia Animal Shelter on Airport Road. 

Shelter manager April Braddy says he is a friendly boy who loves to go for walks.  Please call April at 537-8866 if you are interested in adopting Junior.

(Courtesy Altamaha Animal Clinic)

February 20--  Eleven members of the Vidalia High School Distributive Education Club of America (DECA) attended the state conference at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Atlanta.

Two members of the club, Natalie Owens and Ginny Grace Gourley, placed fifth in statewide competition and qualified to take part in the international conference coming up in April.

This is the second straight year the two have qualified and is the fourth consecutive year Vidalia High School students have made it to the international competition which this year will include students from 18 countries.

vhsdeca(L-R)  Logan Reid, Bryce Spivey, Tate Brantley, Cameron Yarbrough, Natalie Owens, Ginny Grace Gourley, Ben Cato, Lily Collins, Grayson Sellers, Zury Nguyen, Amelia Culpepper



February 19--  If you travel through the intersection of Johnson Corner Road and Georgia Highway 178, it will be closed for construction starting Thursday, February 22nd for up to two months.  Traffic will be detoured to a section of Tomlin Road while work to upgrade the intersection is underway.

February 19--  State Senator Blake Tillery of Vidalia reports on issues in the Georgia State Senate.

"As we complete legislative days 19 through 22, we find ourselves just six legislative days away from the Crossover Day deadline- the date whereby a bill has to make it out of at least one chamber or can no longer be debated. This week, the Senate was extremely busy with 20 bills passing on the Senate floor. The heavy work remains ahead, however, including Fiscal Year 2019 General budget.

"This week, among other items, the Senate took up a four bill package concerning law enforcement compensation. Senate Bills 366, 367, 368 and 369 do a variety of things, including gathering a wage compensation study to better understand where the gaps in compensation occur, expanding the place an indemnification payment can be made to when an officer gives their life in the line of duty, providing technical support to in-need law enforcement agencies and fixing a hole in the Peace Officers’ Annuity and Benefit fund unintentionally created by criminal justice reform. This is just the start to making sure that the men and women who stick their neck out for us are given the respect and admiration they deserve.

"Another measure that I think resonates with us at home is Senate Bill 362. This bill gives some local control back to schools on how to test their students. As we know, students respond differently to testing methods and schedules, and standardized testing often isn’t the best indicator of student and teacher performance. Senate Bill 362 begins a pilot program allowing the people who are closest to the students-teachers and administrators-to consider what practices work best for their students and share these results with the state so we can better understand how students respond to various testing situations and methods.

"Finally, the Amended Fiscal Year 2018 Budget, also referred to as the “little budget” was passed on the Senate floor on Thursday. This budget is approximately $307 million above the FY18 General Budget and is built on approximately 1.2 percent state fund growth and 2.3 percent Department of Revenue tax revenue growth over actual FY17 collections. It was sent back to the House where they will review our changes to their original bill and will likely create a conference committee to discuss the changes one-on-one. This budget is very similar to the Fiscal Year 2019 budget in that the two big expenditures are in our core areas, education and healthcare. Like I’ve said in the past, approximately 75 cents of every state dollar are spent on these two areas and that’s no different than what we are seeing in this budget. There is also a provision to add over $25 million to expand 11 runways in Georgia to be able to handle larger aircraft, allowing more shipments, business opportunities and additional economic development incentives in our rural areas."

Please let me know if you have any questions about legislation now pending in the Senate. I know that you all are hearing a lot about what is happening here at the capitol and I am more than happy to try to help you clear up any questions you have about legislation in either chamber. As always, it is a pleasure to serve you under the Gold Dome!

February 18--  Plans are being made for renovation work at Vidalia's Grove Apartments. The Vidalia City Council was informed at its February meeting that the $4.3 million dollar project is part of a $65 million bond issue being floated by the Macon-Bibb County Housing Authority.  The Vidalia project is one of 26 in the state covered by the bond issue and plans are to spend an estimated $78,000 on each unit.  No time frame has been announced for the work.

In other news from the meeting:

Downtown Vidalia Association Manager Paula Toole is retiring.  Upon her retirement, the person hired as her successor will become a city employee to enhance salary and benefits.

The council approved $4,472.11 to make drainage improvements on Houston Drive.

The city has developed a price structure and forms for people who want to rent the newly renovated Pal Theater for events and functions in downtown Vidalia.

Walgreen has bought the Rite Aid drug story in Vidalia and the council approved Walgreen's request to transfer the beer and wine license.  The store will continue to operate under the Rite Aid name.

Five dilapidated houses were approved for demolition at 617 Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue, 100 North College Street, 407 West 1st Street, 409 McIntosh Street and 2060 Aimwell Road.

Mike Walton was appointed to fill a vacancy on he Vidalia-Toombs County library board.

Billy Goodwin was named to fill the city's information technology position and $12,300 was approved for technology training.

The city is considering its 2018 community development grant request to the state and is considering a project to reduce "red" water in the city water system.

Paving projects were approved for the half-mile extension of the Michael Collins Road for $188,262.75 by Southeastern Civil, Inc of Statesboro and $210,000 to Jerry Rushing Construction of Statesboro for the new aquatic center parking lot on Airport Road.

The council approved $33,000 for capital equipment purchases by the police, fire and recreation departments. 

City manager Nick Overstreet announced the council will begin holding a pre-planning meeting one-half hour before the start of its monthly meetings.  The session is open to the public.


February 16-- This past Tuesday, Vidalia Regional Airport manager Kevin Britton attended the annual Georgia Airports Association Capitol Fly-In at the state capitol. 

Britton is the President of The Georgia Aiports Association and with other members of the association spent time visiting with legislators encouraging continued support for all airports in Georgia.

This year Govenor Nathan Deal has allocated an additional $25 million for runway extensions at 11 airports around the state. The Vidalia Regional Airport was the beneficiary of a similar program 20 years ago under former Govenor Zell Miller. Britton stated; “The Georgia Airports Association is grateful that Governor Deal recognizes the vital role that rural airports play in the economic development of their communities.”

The mission of the Georgia Airports Association is "to provide, develop, and expand a safe and efficient airports system to meet the future economic growth of Georgia through the full implementation of the State Aviation System Plan (SASP)." The SASP recognizes that airports are an indispensable component of the state's total transportation system that strongly supports the state's economy. More information about the Georgia Airports Association can be found by visiting;

kevinairportReceiving the resolution presented during the session are (L-R) Vernon Lee, GAA Lobbyist; GAA Secretary Lenard Robinson of Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport; GAA President Britton; House Transportation Committee Chairman Kevin Tanner; GAA Vice-President Tom Strong of Jackson County Airport; GAA Treasurer Mike Mathews of Russell Regional Airport (Rome, GA); and GAA Legislative Committee Chairman Mario Evans of Dekalb-Peachtree Airport (Atlanta, GA).

February 16--  Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits reports the following arrests.

Walton, Terry Alexander - B/M 48/ YOA 105 Louisiana Drive Vidalia, Ga. / Warrant Served (Toombs County Probation)

Walker, Kristal Cheyanne - W/F 33 YOA/ 5397 Piney Bluff Rd. Baxley, Ga. / Warrant Served (Appling Coun

Rozier,Quatoya Sharee B/F 24YOA 181 Tapley Street Lyons, Ga Warrant Served (Bloomingdale PD)

Rogers,Charlie Frank B/M 47 YOA 611 MLK Ave Vidalia, Ga Warrant Served (Hardin County Kentucky)

Barwick, Roderick Blair W/M 22 YOA 1897 Rockledge Rd Rockledge, Ga Suspended License

Hersman, Jamie Annette - W/F 42 YOA/ 210 N. Lewis St. Metter, Ga. / Forgery 1st Degree

Wilson, Miranda Irene - W/F 30 YOA/ 1605 Prosperity Ln Vidalia, Ga. / Forgery 1st Degree

Colbert, Randy - B/M- 23 YOA/ 305 Peacock St. Vidalia, Ga./ Loitering/Prowling

Oglesby, Sierra Laquita- B/F- 32 YOA/ 305 Peacock St. Vidalia, Ga./ Loitering/Prowling

Powell, Christopher - W/M 33 YOA/ 135 N. Old River Rd. Mount Vernon, Ga./ State Warrant (Wheeler Co.)

Lovett, Bridgette Renea - B/F 31 YOA/ 314 E. Wesley Ave Lyons, Ga./ Violation Of Class CP License, No Insurance 1st

Spikes, Erik Howell - W/M 26 YOA/ 175 W. Toombs Ave Lyons, Ga./ No Proof Of Insurance

Whitfield, Dorinda Lupe W/F 30 YOA 883 Allen Drive Vidalia Ga, Warrant Served (Toombs County)

Isaac, Marshel Warnet Moye B/F 44 YOA 723 Winona Street Vidalia, Ga. Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (First)

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Carmen Rae Clark, Lyons, possession of a controlled substance

Duston Osbourne, Vidalia, probation violation

Jesus Flores, Reidsville, DUI, speeding, failure to maintain lane

Dylan Silvers, Lyons, driving while license suspended/revoked, seat belt violation

Cindy Michelle Holmes, Claxton, driving while license suspended/revoked, failure to stop at stop sign

Thomas Gerald, Lyons, possession of marijuana

Shaunlake Michel, Vidalia, seat belt violation, no insurance

Alex Miller, Soperton, seat belt violation, defective equipment, driving while license suspended/revoked

Adrian Fields, Uvalda, fleeing, obstruction of police, reckless driving, driving unlicensed, theft by receiving stolen property

Vermaris Johnson, Lyons, sale, manufacture, distribution of marijuana; school zone possession of cocaine

Alex Hunt, Lyons, unlawful possession of firearm

Hope Newsome. Kite, DUI

Triderek Hunt, Lyons, driving while license suspended/revoked

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Efrem Bailey, Jr., Lyons, Theft by deception

Antiquell Barras, Lafayette, LA, failure to appear

Tommy Bryson, Lyons, probation violation

Laprentice Canty, Vidalia, probation violation

Julie Garcia, Lyons, DUI, failure to maintain lane

Jose Garza, Statesboro, Driving while unlicensed

Wanda Herrington, Lyons, driving while license suspended/revoked

Jonatham Holcombs, Lyons, no insurance

Kevin Landing, Millen, driving while license suspended/revoked

Christine Lovett, Soperton, Hold for Dublin police

Wykebia McKinney, Vidalia, probation violation

Antonio Mikell, Portal, possession of marijuana

Pamela Mincey, Vidalia, no insurance

Billy Ricks, Swainsboro, driving while license suspended/revoked

Sharmon Wright, Vidalia, probation violation, possession of drug related objects; purchase, possession, manufacture, distribution, sale of drugs

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

02/06-Dirk Lawrence Davis, Tampa, Fla., Warrant Served / Hillsboro County, Florida

02/07-Kelly Nikia Hart, Vidalia, Bench Warrant Served

02/08-Jerry Wayne Jacobs, Uvalda, Possession of Controlled Substance w/Intent

02/08-Lisa Ann Wilson, Lyons, Possession of Controlled Substance w/Intent

02/08-Terry Wayne Beach, Jr., Baxley, Possession of Cocaine

02/08-Sharon Doreen Chambers, Uvalda, Possession of Controlled Substance, Possession of Cocaine







February 15-- Two longtime Vidalia leaders are the city's Lady and Man of the Year for 2017.

The annual recognition banquet Thursday night honored civic leaders John Ladson and Carol Hansley for their contributions to the city's welfare and progress over the years.

citizencarol"It's very humbling and so unexpected just to be in the company of all the women and all the gentlemen who have been citizen of the year," Hansley said, and noted service is the cornerstone of an organization she helps lead in Vidalia,"I try to live up to the motto of our Concerned Citizens Coalition which says we only expect to pass this way but once.  Therefore, any good we can do, any kindness we can show to any fellow creature, this is the time to do it, right now.  We never know if we'll have an opportunity to pass this way again.  So, I am the one who is blessed when I get to serve.  Vidalia is the best city in the world in which to serve.  There is plenty of opportunity and I'm thankful the citizens trust me and believe in me enough to allow me to participate and to serve.  I look forward to making the city the best it can be."

citizenjohnJohn Ladson has lived in Vidalia most of his life and has worked to foster it's growth and economic development, "I would never have seen this coming in a million years," he observed and said it has most to with his upbringing, "The legacy of my mother in particular.  She loved Vidalia.  This was her home and she worked hard to make it a better place.  Unfortunately, her life ended prematurely before she finished what I think would have been a really great contribution to the community.  I look back on that tonight and think that maybe in a little way I've kind of fallen into what she wanted me to do.  That's the most meaningful part to me."

2016 Man of Year Harry Moses, Jr. (L) presents the award to John Ladson.

The annual recognition program started in Vidalia in 1948 and is currently hosted by three civic clubs including  Kiwanis, Lions and Rotary.

February 14--  Eighth-graders in Toombs County spent time this week learning about things that can change their lives or kill them. After spending time going through various educational stations as part of the "Teen Maze," they heard a testimonial from a mother who's son died five years ago at a pre-graduation party.

donnacollinsDonna Collins son, Dalton, was to graduate the day after he died from Glynn Academy.

"The night before graduation, after a soccer banquet, senior houses were a tradition on St. Simons on East Beach and he participated in funneling which is normally where beer is poured into a funnel.  In his case, a bottle of alcohol was poured down his throat and he passed out.  Another teenager video taped it and posted it on social media not knowing he was recording the last moments of Dalton's life.

"They drug him like a rag doll and placed him on his side in the hall so he wouldn't choke knowing the amount of alcohol in his system.  They continued to party and walked past him and poked and prodded to get a reaction out of him.  Only when his lips were purple and his face was white did they decide to perform CPR.  When that didn't work, they drug his six foot-three, 170- pound body to the bathroom and put him in the bath tub and turned the shower on hoping the cold water would shock him back to life.  When that didn't happen, they called 911 at four a.m., but it was too late.  His heart had already stopped beating and his organs had shut down as a result," she told the teenagers, many of whom cried, "I've never seen so many young girls sitting there crying, and they didn't even know my son."

Mrs. Collins hopes her son's story will have a lasting impact on the kids, "I hope it will teach them to look after one another.  If you find yourself in a situation that you know is wrong, and you know the decision made by someone else is wrong, do something.  Be the person who can make a difference," she advised.  

February 12-- The Toombs County chapter of the Georgia Young Farmers program is one of only six programs nationwide to receive the 2017 National Association of Agricultural Educators Outstanding Postsecondary/Adult Agricultural Education Program Award. The award was presented at the NAAE annual convention in Nashville.

tcffaJoey Montford is the advisor of the Toombs County Young Farmers program, a group of farmers, agri-businesses and agricultural supporters who meet regularly for professional development. Currently the TCYF program organizes 20 community classes annually with topics ranging from production agriculture to estate planning.

TCYF members participate in various events throughout the year, including the Georgia Young Farmers State convention. Recently, the chapter was recognized as the Central Region Outstanding Chapter, and a TCYF member was named Outstanding Member in the region. The TCYF Leadership Team consists of Mitchell Pittman, Clint Sikes, Kelsey Butler, Whitney Hutcheson, and Charles James.


February 14--  A runaway teenager from Charlotte, North Carolina was found Tuesday in Toombs County.

charlottegirlAccording to Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight, 14-year-old Nakia Williams left her home on September 7 of last year.  She told Sheriff's officers she fled because her stepfather beat her.

Sheriff Kight said the girl had made contact with a man in Claxton via the internet and caught a ride to the area with a long-haul trucker who let her off at the Metter I-16 exit.  After spending some time with the man in Claxton, she made her way around Candler and Emanuel counties and was found with a family on the Ben Boatwright Road near Normantown.

The sheriff said the girl's mother picked her up this morning for the return trip to Charlotte.


February 14-- Over 275 people gathered to celebrate the legacy of a great man who directly impacted thousands of college students and indirectly influenced the lives of countless more through those students.

The Warren C. Crawley Sr. Celebration of Heritage Banquet was organized by the descendants of Crawley and the administration of Brewton-Parker College with the sponsorship of Ameris Bank. It was held at First Baptist Church of Vidalia.

Crawley was a man who overcame his early years spent as a slave to become a successful Montgomery County businessman. His generosity helped to found the Warrens Chapel Methodist Church, now known as the Nepsey-Warren United Methodist Church, and the Union Baptist Institute, which is now known as Brewton-Parker College. The latter is especially noteworthy because Crawley donated the five acres required to complete the fifteen-acre tract even when his own children and grandchildren would not be allowed to attend the school due to segregation.

Dr. Steve Echols, President of Brewton-Parker, stated during the banquet: “I think the legacy of Warren C. Crawley is love. A man who had been a slave, who had every right to be bitter…was able to have the kind of love that comes through Jesus Christ.”

In the spirit of Crawley’s legacy of love and Black History Month, nine other influential personages in the Southeast Georgia region were honored at the banquet for their contributions to the community: Samuel Baker, A. Tim Chatham, Johnny Culver, Alice Troup Harvey (posthumously), Erma Wakefield Jenkins, Cora Johnson, Russ Little, Fred Stokes, and James Whitehead.

Stokes - an honoree, Vidalia native, and former NFL player – served as speaker for the event. His message focused on how actions that are done in secret will be rewarded openly. Stokes urged his listeners to follow Crawley’s example: “When you see an opportunity, what are you going to do about it? And yes, this is a great moment to honor a great man. But what opportunities are standing in front of you that you are going to embrace?”

bpcstokesecholsFred Stokes, former NFL player and a native to Vidalia, with Dr. Steve Echols, president of Brewton-Parker College at the Warren C. Crawley Sr. Celebration of Heritage Banquet on February 3.

The banquet was well-attended by local pastors, Brewton-Parker faculty and staff, and more. The desire to celebrate Crawley’s legacy united people of differing races, ages, and even hometowns.

Before the banquet dismissed, Echols shared his vision for the future of Brewton-Parker. This plan includes permanently honoring Crawley’s legacy by renaming the current Baron Ridge area to the Warren C. Crawley Commons. Echols announced that the Crawley Campaign seeks to raise the necessary $350,000 to complete this area with a fourth male dormitory.  “We want to send forth a generation of people who emulate Warren C. Crawley. This day and time needs more than ever to see that kind of love," he said.



February 14--  Here are excerpts of board minutes from the Toombs County Board of Education meeting in February.

The Toombs County Board of Education met for its regular meeting on Thursday, February 8, 2018, at 6:30 p.m. with the following members present: Mr. Clint Williams, Chairman, Mr. Russ Benton, Vice-Chairman, Mr. Mitch Bellflower, Mrs. Toni Wilkes, Mr. Trent Akins, Mr. Jonathan Holland, and Superintendent Richard Smith. Mr. Michael Grimes was absent.

Visitors in attendance were: Juli Alligood, Barry Waller, Tonawanda Irie, Jennifer Davis, Stacy Reese, Daryl Corley, Tabatha Nobles, Shannon Chambers, Kim Corley, Kip Hart, Rustin Parker, Dorsey Hart, Linda Bratton and Danielle Morris.

During the Superintendent’s Report, Mr. Smith shared that the STAR student is Christian Adams, and Coach Richie Marsh is his STAR teacher. A ceremony was hosted by Vidalia Heritage for area STAR students and teachers.

The board was presented enrollment projections with a 5 year history. Mr. Smith shared that the information is provided to principals for the purpose of looking at numbers and trends to determine staffing for the coming year.

Included in the Superintendent’s Report are the results for the survey concerning the FY2019 calendar. Mr. Bellflower asked if the survey was mandatory and inquired as to how many employees we had in the system, given that only 211 employees responded. Mr. Smith stated that we employed close to 500 people, that the survey was sent to everyone who had a Toombs County email address, and that it was not mandatory for an employee to complete the survey.

Lyons Primary is looking for readers for Dr. Seuss Day on March 2. Anyone interested in reading to students should contact Dr. Hellgren at the school.

Regarding the finance report, the board was provided the SPLOST report. There is a bond payment due in April. Deposit account balances are current as of Tuesday. Next, the general fund activities report, the monthly cash flow report, the monthly check register, the Amazon report and employee reimbursements over three hundred dollars from September 2017 through December 2017, as requested by Mr. Bellflower directly from the finance officer. Mr. Smith stated the report was presented as the finance director had developed it, and that if it did not show what was being looked for, they would try again. No action was necessary.

On a motion by Mr. Bellflower, seconded by Mr. Akins, the board approved the recommendation for the 2018 Fleet Insurance Policy with Zorn & Sons Insurance. There is a $3000 savings if paid at one time. The total cost actually reflects a small decrease.

Unanimously Approved

Two versions of the FY2019 calendar were developed by the calendar committee and presented for the board’s review. After review by the board, the faculty and staff will be surveyed as to which they prefer for next school year. A request was made to Mr. Waller, committee chairperson, to bring the calendar committee back together for the purpose of reviewing the survey data and making any adjustments they felt where needed. Mr. Waller informed Mr. Smith earlier in the day that he had polled the committee members by email and they did not see a need to change their recommendations as a result of the survey. Mr. Holland did not wish for the calendar survey to be dispersed to all staff until the he had an opportunity to study comments and compare them to the submitted calendars. He indicated that the board needed to be certain all requests had been addressed. Mr. Smith stated that to give time for everyone to review the materials provided, the calendar selection survey would not be sent out until after the Presidents Day Holiday on February 19th. If any of the members have a question concerning the calendar, they should contact Mr. Smith by Friday, February 16th. Mr. Bellflower asked if the two calendars in the packet were in fact the ones submitted by the calendar committee. Mr. Waller responded that they were.

The board was presented with a proposal to pilot an audio/video enhancement system in 10 classroom. This is the system the board had seen presented at a GSBA Conference a few years ago. The board asked for further information regarding the systems before making a decision.

On a motion by Mr. Benton and a second by Mr. Bellflower, the board approved the following recommendations: Retirement: Matilda Edwards, Teacher – LUES, Terresa Winge, Media Specialist – LUES, Coopie Foshee, Teacher – TCMS, Lisa Watkins, Teacher – TCMS, Kathy Roberts, Teacher –

LPS, Pamelia Wimberly, Teacher – LPS, Gloria Hunt, Paraprofessional – LPS; Employment Recommendation for FY2019: Kaitlyn Pope, Teacher – LPS, Samuel Sapp, Teacher – LUES, Heather

Morris, Teacher – LPS, Jessica Downie, Teacher – LPS, Kay Rushing, Bus Driver (Begin February 9th), Kristen Morris, Paraprofessional - LPS. Resignations: Shelia VanDyke, Donna Beall, Marcy Hill, Yolanda Springer, Audrey Fletcher, and Pamela Simerly.

On old business, Jonathan Holland asked if any changes to the Superintendent’s Advisory Council had been made. Mr. Smith reported that the group has met and discussed ideas to improve the process. Any changes made would be for next school term. Mr. Holland stated that he wanted it to be a group of teachers selected by their peers to be the liaison between the school and board to voice concerns but not be a complaint group. He would also like to see a couple of principals and a couple of board members be part of the group, and that it should be facilitated by the teachers and not involve central office staff.

Under new business, Mr. Williams has some ideas to implement an initiative to teach every child in the system to read a tape measure. He stated it was a vital life skill that students do not have. He has spoken to Handy Andy and hopes to partner with them and a national tool group to provide the materials for this at no cost to the system. He sees it as a math skill for life that is needed.



February 14--  Lyons Upper Elementary School has announced its "Students of the Month" and its "Top Students" for the month of January.


First Row (L to R): Bryar Bishop, Keeley Hall, Clarissa Montoya, Callie Petersen, Reginald Langston, Gy’Doria Mitchell, Nayeli Lopez, and Ja’Meyah Brunson.

Middle Row (L to R): Ivan Hernandez, Erick Nahuaca, Sarah Ellis Walker, Triston Crisp, Omar Andres Martin, Ryder Coleman, Trevion Moore, Kadyn Holcombe, and Catherine Gutierrez.

Back Row (L to R): Makaila Moxley, Rodney Smith, Kaleigh Mann, Tiffany Vargas-Tadeo, Stephanie Eduardo, Kenner Perez, Bryanna Green, Maritza Zamorano, Makayla Sapp, and Matt Poppell.

Not pictured: Riley Kersey


TOP Students of the Month for January

LUESTOPJAN(L to R): Sarah Ellis Walker and Makaila Moxley. Not pictured: Riley Kersey.


February 14--  Montgomery County School Superintendent Hugh Kight made the following report to the county school board at its February meeting.

--Upcoming Important Dates:                                                                                                  

            Feb. 16-19   Winter Break

            Feb. 22nd       Whole Board Training (6:00-9:00pm) MCBOE

            Feb. 24th       RESA Job Fair

--Eagle Express Mobile Classroom Update: In mid-January, we received a $2000 donation from GA Power and a $20,000 Grant from GOSA (Governor’s Office of Student Achievement) to help fund our bus needs. Special thanks to Marcee Pool for completing the paperwork to make this happen. The Bus is running strong!

--We interviewed six candidates from the pool of 23 applicants last week. Special thanks to our Interview Panel---Marcee Pool, Steve McLeod, Leigh Anne Helms, Candace Keen, Kim Yawn, Tim Suttles, and Kaneesha Love. Many hours were spent during this process.

--Our District Admin Team met with each school Leadership Team to discuss their 45 day action plan. Each school is making progress toward their school improvement plan.

--Instructional Coaches, MCES Admin, RESA School Improvement Specialist, Mrs. Pool, and I conducted “Focus Walks” to all classrooms to ensure best practices strategies were used for instruction at Montgomery County Elementary School.

--New MC Middle/High School Update:

*Roof construction is in progress.                                                                  

*Window installation will begin next week.

*Kitchen submittals have been completed.

--We received a grant from USDA for $17,000 to purchase a single-stack Combi-Oven for the Middle/High School. Special thanks to Catherine Parten for her work getting these funds.

--GOSA (Governor’s Office of Student Achievement) has awarded MCS $43,350 for Round 5 of the Connections for Classroom Program. Our score of 83.5 allowed our district to receive 100% of the eligible grant request. This grant will provide 225 Chromebooks for our students. Special thanks to Mary Caraway, Marcee Pool, and Julie Harrelson for the hard work to make this happen!!

--Our Boys Basketball Team is currently ranked #7 in the power rankings! We are the 3A Region Champs!! Go Eagles!

--Drone Class Update: We have received the Drones, Simulators, and Batteries for the class. We are in the process of writing the curriculum and will open it for some gifted class activities this spring and have it ready for coursework next fall!

--A meeting was held today by our System Leadership Team. Items of discussion were staff attendance and our 2018-19 School Calendar.

--All Superintendents from our RESA will be attending a Legislative Meeting in Matt Hatchett’s meeting room in Atlanta on February 15th to discuss teacher shortages and other educational issues.

--Possible/Pending Legislation Positions:

*SB362 Innovative Assessment Pilot---Provides alternatives to the current assessment and accountability systems.

*SB098 Capital Outlay for Pre-K Programs---This bill would provide capital outlay funds for Pre-K classrooms. Currently, no capital outlay funding is provided for Pre-K.

*HB728 Public Education Innovation Fund Foundation Tax Credit---Total amount of tax credits will match what is allowed in the GOAL Scholarship Tax Credit---$58 million vs. 5 million for public education.

The system's school calendar for next year was tabled until the next board meeting.  A called meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, February 20.

The school board approved the following personnel actions in addition to all certified staff for the 2018-19 school year.





February 14-- Robert Toombs Christian Academy competed in its first Chess tournament on Saturday, February 10, at Southeastern Technical College.

R.T.C.A. students competed against teams from Vidalia City Schools, Vidalia Heritage and Toombs County Schools.

rtcachessSixth grader Sukumar Paidi (right) took second place in his group and fifth grader Julian Soto (left) placed first in his. William Soto (center) took first in his division based on judges’ impressions and winning records and performance throughout the tournament.

“I am excited to be helping the Chess Club and cannot wait to see them compete in their next tournament,” states Mrs. Soto, Faculty Advisor for the Chess Club and High School Spanish teacher.

Dental Health

The Robert Toombs Christian Academy K-3 students are currently learning all about their teeth. On Friday, February 9, Abbigail Lynn and Lauren Rhoney, dental hygienist students at Southeastern Technical College, visited the K-3 class to teach them all about their teeth.

The girls taught the class the proper way to brush their teeth, how many times a day they should brush them and read a book to the students. They let them practice brushing using the big set of teeth the girls brought with them. Before leaving, Abbigail and Lauren gave the students goodie bags with toothbrushes, of course!

rtcateeth(L-R) Kinsley Thomas, Landon Brukett, Rachel Salter, Abbigail Lynn, Dallas Montfort, Luke Hopkins, Lauren Rhoney, Tilly Baker, Tatem Pittman, Hughes Maybin and Evelyn Hightower


February 13--  The Salvation Army in Vidalia held a ribbon cutting for its new home on Mose Coleman Drive.


Vidalia Mayor Pro Tem Raymond Turner is chairman of the Advisory Board, "Our mission is to serve Jesus Christ.  By serving Jesus Christ, we serve mankind through him.  This is one of the things I'm proud of about the Salvation Army, that we are able to serve those persons who need us the most," he said.

Salvation Army Major Mark Woodstock made the dedication address and said, "The Salvation Army exists to serve others.  Our motto says 'Doing the Most Good,' and we want to do the most good for people in need.  This center helps us to raise the much needed money to be able to give right back to the people in Vidalia.  the money we raise through our Family Store will be invested right here to help with utility assistance, food, clothing and other types of services that will effect people's lives."

The new building is more spacious than the old location on Jackson Street and will give the Salvation Army a place to expand its community service, according to local manager Sandy Roberts.

"We can do more assistance with programs and classes.  We're planning on doing more in this area.  We didn't do this just to build a store, we did it to build a community," she said.

Major Woodcock echoed Robert's remarks and recalled the basic foundation of the Salvation Army as envisioned by its founder William Booth,"Soup, Soap and Salvation.  It's awful hard to offer someone Jesus if they're hungry, so we want to feed them.  If they're dirty and they need cleaning up and clothing, we want to do that as well.  Then, at the that point, if that opportunity arises, it gives us the opportunity to tell them about Jesus Christ and the salvation they can only have through him."

February 13--  The Vidalia Board of Education accepted the resignation of Vidalia High School Defensive Coordinator Rodney Garvin at its meeting Tuesday evening and approved the hiring of Britt Ingle to join the staff at Vidalia High School. 

Coach Garvin has accepted the job as head coach of the Metter High School football team which Coach Ingle is giving up his jobs as Athletic Director and Head Football Coach at Treutlen High School.

lunchroomsIn other actions, the school board recognized the lunchroom managers in the Vidalia City Schools.  All four lunchrooms received perfect scores of 100% on recent health inspections. 

(L-R) School System Nutrition Director Denise Parson who complimented each of the managers and their staffs for a job well done, Manager Teresa Pittman at Sally Meadows Elementary, Manager Juanita Monroe at J.R. Trippe Middle School and Manager Sue Sullivan at J.D. Dickerson Primary School.  Not pictured, Manager Alta Bray, Vidalia High School.

February 12--  Three area legislators provide their perspectives on activity last week in the Georgia General Assembly.

State Senator Blake Tillery of Vidalia

The fifth week in the Senate pushed us closer to the halfway point of the 2018 Legislative Session, as we are just two legislative days away from the 20 day mark. Before this week, we just thought we were busy. Now we know this session is in full swing. Monday was a huge day for many of our state’s most vulnerable. HB 159, the Adoption Bill, was in the Senate for movement. We have held no short of five committee hearings and six working group meetings on this bill alone. The bill is substantially different from the bill as it originated and as it finally passed the House. And that’s the way this process works. In the end, however, we all agree this bill was meant to help Georgia families solve Georgia’s problem of finding permanent, loving homes for 14,000 children in foster care across our state and it does just that.

One of the compromises we were able to come to with the House concerned the age at which a person in Georgia could adopt. Currently, one must be at least 25 years old, however the House suggested lowering the age to 21. We were able to agree that the adoption age for single adults should remain at 25, but should be lowered to the age of 21 in cases of family member adoptions. Another compromise was reached concerning the revocation period for the surrender of parental rights. Under current law, a birth mother has 10 days to “undo” the surrender of her child. The House wanted to allow a revocation of this 10 day period at any time after 24-hours after the birth (confusing, I know, but think about it as a “double-negative” or “waiver of a waiver”). The Senate suggested the waiver period could not begin until 72-hours after surrender, giving a birth mother at least 3 days to rethink her decision to give up her child. We were able to reach a consensus by scraping the waiver altogether (doing away with the “double negative”), and creating an unwaivable 96 hour period for a birth mother to rethink the surrender of her child.

A fantastic bill I was happy to see pass the Senate this week was Senate Bill 338. Checks and balances are important in every branch of government, but the House and Senate are only in session from January until around March. This makes it difficult to keep tabs on what rules and regulations agencies are implementing in Atlanta the rest of the year. Often times these rules and regulations exceed the scope and desires of legislation they purport to assist. SB 338 checks the power of agencies by strengthening a mechanism for setting aside agency rules or regulations that go too far. I proposed a floor amendment to further strengthen legislative oversight of runaway agency rules and regulations which passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.

As more legislation is now moving, the number of you reaching out to me is growing daily as well. I appreciate that, and I try my best to respond personally to each of you. Many of you have called me about House legislation, particularly HB 778 concerning CTAE programs. In my brief tenure at the state legislature, I’ve learned one thing – legislation changes on a regular basis up here. A floor amendment, committee substitute or even the insertion of a comma or period can alter a bill in its entirety. For example, last year a constituent called to ask me to vote for a certain house bill. The same constituent called me back 10 days later and asked me to vote against this very same measure! What she was in favor of before was now completely different!

Your calls and emails are valued and we keep a tally of those here. Please just remember what you saw on a particular bill number a week ago may not be on the bill being considered now. Suffice it to say with reasonable certainty what you see in one chamber will likely be very different when it reaches the other. At my last check, 853 bills had been filed in the House and 390 had been filed in the Senate just this session. Few of these will ever reach the Senate floor. Even fewer will pass both chambers. Fewest, if any, will look exactly the same as introduced if and when they reach the Governor’s desk. 

Our community also experienced a great loss this week. Telfair County Commissioner Arthur “Skip” Moore passed away unexpectedly Wednesday morning. He was 54 years old. I got to know Commissioner Moore when I was a county commissioner. I will miss his friendship and our hearts go out to his wife, Virginia and his family.

As always, please let me know if you are headed to the Capitol. I’d love to see you. All of our page positions are now full, but sometimes cancellations happen, so feel free to still call. My office will do our best to help your child experience their government in action.

State Representative Greg Morris of Vidalia

Taxes and spending, or how elected officials collect and spend your money, should be the top concern of all citizens. I will dedicate this column to the more important measures being proposed.

Federal Tax Reform. I want you to be aware that the state does have to address a potential windfall that could be detrimental to Georgia taxpayers due to the much needed tax cuts coming from Washington. The state stands to collect $3.6 billion over the next five years in extra revenue from the new federal tax bill. That figure could be much higher though. That is because the new tax law eliminates many of the deductions we have used to lower our state tax bills. Simply put, the new federal law will cause taxpayers to most likely use the standard federal deduction rather than itemized deductions that lowered state taxable income. Nobody but tax preparers ever pay attention to the annual bill that adopts federal tax law changes into the Georgia state tax code, but this one is crucial. Governor Deal has indicated he would not address the subject in this annual bill, but would consider signing a separate bill on the subject. Unless the Legislature makes some changes you may pay less in federal taxes and much more in state taxes. I support changes to make the state revenue neutral so all Georgians can enjoy the benefits of President Trump’s historic tax cut.

Jet Fuel Exemption. Also part of Gov. Deal’s bill would re-instate the sales tax exemption on jet fuel the Legislature eliminated a few years ago. Currently, Georgia has the 4th highest such tax in the country, while some of our competitors for jobs like North Carolina have no tax at all. I know it might not seem right that large corporations like Delta reap millions in savings for these targeted tax breaks. I plan to support the measure because I believe it can create more jobs in Georgia. Lower fuel costs will cause Delta to keep and provide more direct international flights out of Atlanta. In a moment of surprising candor, a top financial tech CEO told me he brought his 1400 jobs to Georgia because direct flights from Atlanta to Asia cut his monthly travel from 17 to 9 days. Who could blame him?

Netflix/ Rural Internet. Streaming services like Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime Video would be taxed to provide money to expand internet services in rural Georgia if H.B. 887 becomes law. All phone and TV sevices that aren’t already taxed would be included. Oh yes, I almost forgot e-books and digital music also. My wife Amy’s reaction to the digital music component gave me some polling information for free. The new money from these revenue streams would be dedicated to providing internet access to the 16% of Georgians in rural areas without it. There are still some big “ifs” to work through. Even with the new revenue it is still unclear what the ultimate cost to provide the service would be, or more clearly how much would the state have to spend to subsidize the construction. No community can attract or keep industry without internet access. Addressing the issue for rural Georgia is unavoidable. Is this the fairest most equitable way to pay for it? Is it best to wait for new technology from the private sector that may or may not provide a solution? Let me know your thoughts. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

State Senator Jack Hill of Reidsville


As the midpoint of the 40 day Session approaches, committees began to consider some of the major legislation in both Houses and some important legislation reached each floor.  The Amended Budget is nearing completion as the Senate version will be considered and differences will be worked out with the House.  The House is hard at work considering the FY 2019 Budget.


--HB 159, The Adoption Bill-- In the Senate's version, the birth mother had 10 days to reclaim a child who has been placed with an adoptive family or if 21 years or older had the option to permanently waive those parental rights at birth. House Amendments remove the birth mother's option to waive parental rights and shorten the 10 day reclamation period to 4 days. At least 6 months state residency is required. Allows for payment of birth parents' expenses and legal fees in both private and agency adoptions. Allows parents to temporarily delegate parental authority through a power of attorney to a relative or approved non-relative.


--SB 331-- Lottery winners of over $250,000 can get anonymity if they request confidentiality in writing.

--SB 333-- Allows local governments to create deferred compensation plans for employees and allows automatic enrollments.

--HB 38-- Expands Veterans Licenses to Georgia residents who served in the National Guard and Reserves in any state. Removes a requirement of Georgia residency at time of enlistment.

--SB 118-- Mandates private insurance coverage of autism in children up to 12 years. Caps per policy payout at $30,000 per year and exempts small business with 15 or less employees.

--SB 352-- Establishes a Commission on Substance Abuse and Recovery. Felonizes patient brokering− years of imprisonment and monetary fines increase with the numbers of patients illegally brokered. Increases the penalties for insurance fraud when drug testing elderly, disabled, or addicted individuals.

--SB 197-- Prohibits the passage of any type of legislation letting individuals receive creditable service in state retirement systems without paying full actuarial cost

--SB 328-- Sets an expiration date of December 31, 2018 for three little-utilized income tax credits: federal qualified transportation fringe benefits, private driver education courses, and diesel particulate emission reduction technology equipment.

--SB 338-- Amends the information state agencies must include in a 30-day notice of intent when proposing new rules or regulations. Makes it easier for the legislature to override or postpone new proposed rules or regulations.


--HB 700-- Allows members of the Georgia National Guard enrolled in graduate programs receive service cancelable educational loans.

--HB 728-- Changes effective date to January 1, 2018 for Public Education Innovation Fund Foundation to implement tax credits for private donations. Donations would fund grants for public schools.

--HB 756-- Changes from December 31 to "180 days after fiscal year end" the deadline by which local governments must publish tax proceeds information from Special Purpose Local Option Sales Taxes (SPLOST).


--HB 275-- Removes prohibition on hunting without a wildlife management area license. Requires boats used for body or wake surfing be equipped with a wide angle mirror to monitor the safety of surfers in the wake. Prohibits boats with an outboard, stern drive, or inboard/outboard engine from creating wake for the purpose of body or wake surfing

--SB 17-- Allows restaurants in cities or counties that allow Sunday sales to sell alcohol starting at 11:00 A.M. instead of the present 12:30 P.M.

--SB 378-- Requires the state auditor to conduct an economic analysis before a tax exemption or tax credit bill can be introduced, amended, or adopted by the House or Senate.

--SB 370-- Increases carve-out of estate value to $25,000 before state seizes for Medicaid repayment. Would be repealed if Federal Agency disallows

Full transcripts of bills may be found at . Simply type the bill number into the box at the top left-hand corner of the screen and specify if it is in the House or the Senate. The FY 2018 budget (H.B. 44) may be found at As always, I welcome any questions you may have.

I may be reached at

234 State Capitol, Atlanta , GA 30334

(404) 656-5038 (phone)

(404) 657-7094 (fax)

E-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Or Call Toll-Free at

1-800-367-3334 Day or Night

Reidsville office: (912) 557-3811



(Editor's Note:  The following article was submitted by attorney Daniel O'Connor.)

February 12-- A Montgomery County civil jury returned a verdict on February 8, 2018, in favor of Phillip Joyce after a three-day trial in which Joyce, represented by Vidalia attorney Daniel J. O’Connor, defended a lawsuit filed by Plaintiffs Robert and Debbie Jones claiming that Joyce had maliciously killed their bulldog.

The trial was notable in that it was the first civil jury trial presided over by newly appointed Judge Howard C. Kaufold, Jr., of the Oconee Judicial Circuit, and it was the first civil jury trial held in Montgomery County Superior Court in over a year. Further, Judge Kaufold noted that he might be the first Montgomery County resident to ever preside as a Superior Court Judge in Montgomery County.

The trial itself arose from claims by Robert and Debbie Jones that Phillip Joyce was liable to them for trespass, conversion, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and punitive damages for killing their bulldog. Joyce filed a counterclaim against the Jones, claiming that their dogs’ entry upon his land was a trespass and nuisance. Joyce admitted that he shot the Jones’ bulldog, but he was emphatic that his shooting was legally justifiable as a defense of his own dog.

According to his attorney, Daniel O’Connor, who practices in the Vidalia law firm of Bryant O’Connor LLP, this case concerned the rights of a property owner to defend his property. “When Phillip came to me after being sued and I heard his side of the story, I immediately believed that his actions were justified under the law,” O’Connor said.

“I also trusted that a Montgomery County jury would not hold a man liable for shooting a dog in defense of his own dog in his rural backyard on Petross Road. However, you never take a group of twelve jurors for granted, and thus we worked very hard to present a case that would vindicate Mr. Joyce,” O’Connor continued. “The Plaintiffs had very skilled and professional trial lawyers representing them in Christian Steinmetz and Garrett Greiner of Savannah.

“We were very happy that the jury not only denied the Plaintiffs any of the money damages that they sought, but they also found in favor of my client on his claims that the Plaintiffs had trespassed and created a nuisance by not keeping their dogs off of his property.” O’Connor added.

danieloconnerAnother notable aspect of this trial is the fact that O’Connor is a graduate of Montgomery County High School, and it is not known whether any Montgomery County High School graduate had ever won a jury trial in Montgomery County previously. “I’m not aware of it, at least in recent history,” O’Connor said. “I’m proud to be a product of Montgomery County schools and to come back to my home county and represent the folks here is very satisfying.”

At the conclusion of the trial, Judge Kaufold noted that his first jury trial was in Montgomery County before O’Connor’s uncle, the late Judge James B. O’Connor. “It was neat that Judge Kaufold’s first jury trial was in the Montgomery County Courthouse in front of my uncle, and now my first jury trial as lead counsel was in front of Judge Kaufold, who probably had as much trial experience as anyone in this area before he went on the bench,” O’Connor said. “Jury trials, especially in civil litigation, have become relatively rare, and thus I’m happy that this opportunity happened in the way that it did.”

February 11--  Following in his father's footsteps, R.T. Stanley, Jr. was inducted into the Vidalia Onion Growers Hall of Fame Saturday night during the grower's annual banquet and awards ceremony in Vidalia.  His father was inducted ten years ago.

onionstanley(L-R) Onion Committee Chairman Troy Bland, Committe Executive Director Bob Stafford and R.T Stanley, Jr.

"I really want to thank the good Lord for the blessings he's bestowed upon me and my family over the years.  Without those blessings, we'd never be where are today.  All of you know how farming is.  It's so unpredictable.  We're competing with Mother Nature every day and all these low prices we have to take for our products and things we can't control.  If we didn't have these blessings from up above, I don't think any of us can survive.  I know the Stanley family wouldn't be here today if it hadn't been for the blessings bestowed upon us.  I thank the Lord every day for my blessings," Stanley told the growers.

He also challenged them to work together to get better prices for Vidalia Onions, "Let's consider forming a co-op or a Vidalia Onion Exchange to get together and we can do it legally.  We need to get together as an industry and make up our mind we aren't going to give our crops away and we're going to get a fair price for them, and if you don't give us a decent price for them, we're not going to sell them to you."

The growers named Omar Cruz  as their "Grower of the Year."  Cruz is the agronomist for Bland Farms in Tattnall County.

onioncruz(L-R) Onion Farmer Delbert Bland, Grower of the Year Omar Cruz, Onion Exec Bob Stafford and Vidalia Onion Committee Chairman Troy Bland.

"It's been a challenge every year growing the crop.  I want to thank Delbert Bland because you believed in me and gave me the opportunity.  I feel humble about being here because each one of you has brought a piece of knowledge to what I try to do everyday in my life.  Thank you to my agronomy team, to all the growers, to this committee for recognizing me with this, and thank you to God for without him nothing would be possible," Cruz said.

February 9--  A Vidalia attorney agreed to retire from his law practice at a meeting Friday with court officers of the Middle Judicial Circuit.

Eighty-two-year old Duston Tapley, Jr. agreed to a consent order stating he will no longer practice law in the Middle Judicial Circuit.  The meeting occurred at the Toombs Courthouse with Chief Circuit Court Judge Kathy Palmer and District Attorney Hayward Altman.  It followed a calendar call for the court where Tapley was representing a client on drug charges.

Tapley drew the ire of a judge in Richmond County earlier this week when he asked to be taken off a child molestation case after a jury had been selected and just before testimony was to begin.  He told Judge Daniel Craig he did not feel competent to defend the accused.

Officials said he also withdrew from a murder case in Wheeler County last week.


Letter From The Tapley Family

Response to Judge Daniel Craig’s attack on Attorney Duston Tapley Jr. (See Augusta Chronicle article below)

Attorney Duston Taplye , Jr., was hired to defend this case in April 2015. Tapley notified the
DA’s office by letter dated May 20, 2015 which is in court records, that the Defense was ready to
try the case. Judge Craig and DA’s office must be very busy because the case has just now come
up for trial in February 2018. I think its inefficiency of our legal process and lack of respect of
the tax payers money by continuing this case for this long and a violation of Defendant’s civil
rights for a speedy trial.

Attorney Tapley has been finishing up cases in order to retire and this case is one of the few he
has to deal with in order to close his law practice.

Court records will show that the following is 100% accurate and true so feel free to get a copy or
just interview the jurors and let them tell the story too.

Yesterday in Augusta in the court room Judge Craig verbally attacked an elderly 82 year 7 month
old Attorney Tapley that was trying to protect our Constitution and the courts rules. Attorney
Tapley filed an order to be released from the trial because he didn’t feel like he could represent
his client in a trial. Attorney Tapley did the most difficult thing to do and told the truth.
Attorney told the court, “after careful consideration of my age, physical ability, and mental
capacity, I can’t try this case.” Judge Craig made Attorney Tapley drive back to Augusta
Courthouse in order to abuse elderly Tapley for almost 2 hours and even brought the jury in to
court room to abuse elderly Tapley further in open court with a court reporter.

Judge Craig said Attorney Tapley lied about his age. Tapley told Judge Craig in a private
conversation off the record he was 83 instead of 82 years and 7 months. Judge Craig new this
was grounds to release Tapley in itself. There was no lie here just an 82 year old man that told
the Judge he was 83, which he will be 83 in June, 2018. I plan to ask Judge Craig how he is
doing when he is 82 and get his answer.

Fact of matter, the only person who should be mad in this case is Attorney Tapley’s client and
not Judge Craig. The client is relieved that Tapley honorably stood up and told the truth. “I just
can’t give you the best in this trial and recommend that you seek other representation..” I guess
Judge Craig doesn’t care about the accused getting a fair and impartial trial.

The real and true scenario: Judge Craig attacked an 82 year old man accusing him of lying about
representing clients and his age. This is what the Judicial system has come to and it is the same
scenario as your grandmother or grandfather being NEGLECTED in a nursing home. It is the
exact same thing as a nursing home worker slapping a helpless elderly resident. The same as not
feeding or taking care of the elderly who is trying to live their life and die with pride. Judge
Craig took this from Attorney Tapley yesterday who tried to follow the rules of the court.

A couple of questions to consider:

1. By Judge Craig attacking an 82 year old elderly man for being honorable and accepting
responsibility, did it make Judge Craig feel powerful by conquering the soul of an elderly man?

2. After Judge Craig attacked an 82 year old elderly man in open court with the jury present
(wasting tax payers money and the juries time), why did he call the Augusta Chronicle to further
humiliate Tapley?
What can be gleamed from this is how incompetent our court system is and becoming worse.
Judge Craig is not a problem solver and he is into drama and loves to hear himself proclamate.
For abusing the elderly, Judge Craig doesn’t deserve a drivers license much less a license to
practice law.

CONGRATULATIONS Judge Daniel Craig, this will probably be what you will be remembered
for ever. The Judge who attacked and 82 year old man who told the truth about his current
condition and accused an 82 year old man of lying about practicing law for 43 years instead of
41. Most smart people in politics are smart enough not to call the media and simply stand clear
but what you did is unforgettable. I bet your parents would be proud of you right now.
This was written for the Tapley Family of Attorney Duston Tapley, Jr. Attorney Duston Tapley,
Jr. didn’t even want to comment he is so disgusted with his career this way being personally
attacked by the system he practiced in for more than 41 years. Whoops, Judge Craig, I caught
myself I meant more than 40 years.


February 8--  A Richmond County Superior Court Judge rebuked a Vidalia attorney Wednesday just before testimony was to begin in a child molestation case jury trial.

According to reports in The Augusta Chronicle, Duston Tapley, Jr. of Vidalia told Judge Daniel Craig he did not feel competent to defend 54-year-old Kenneth Lawrence who is facing five counts of sexual assault against a child during a five-year period starting in 2009.  Lawrence has been represented by Tapley since he was indicted in April, 2015.

Judge Craig granted Tapley's request to withdraw from the case, but not before saying what Tapley was doing was "unforgivable" and the "worst kind of abandonment of a client this judge has ever seen."  He also questioned Tapley's competence to handle other criminal cases.

A link to the newspaper story is at Judge Rebukes Vidalia Attorney

Attempts to reach Tapley by phone for his comments on this story have been unsuccessful.

February 8--  Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits reports the following arrests.

Snell, Rickerra Oshone - B/F 20 YOA/ 106 Arlington Dr. Apt. B Vidalia, Ga./ State Warrant Served (Two Counts Of Theft By Taking)

Hart, Kelly Nakia - W/F 43 YOA/ 1307 Center Dr. Vidalia, Ga./ Warrant Served ( Montgomery Co. Sheriff)

Hall, Erick Christopher - W/M 24 YOA/ 347 Blaxton Rd. Vidalia, Ga./ Willfully Obstruction Of Police Officer Simple/Verbal, Possession Of Marijuana, Possession Of A Controlled Substance

Harrison, Christopher A. - B/M 25 YOA/ 243 White Cemetery Rd. Lyons, Ga./ Possession Of Marijuana , Possession Of Controlled Substance

Johnson,Antwoine- 44 YOA B/M 605 E. Sixth St Vidalia, Ga Served Warrants: Aggravated Assualt, (FV) Cruelty To Children 3rd Degree, Cruelty To Children 1st Degree, Battery(FV)

Turner, Charles Eric- 53 W/M YOA 204 E First St. Rm 23 Vidalia, Ga: Failure to Appear- Theft by Shoplifting 3rd Offense

Sanford, Sha’Mona Antonette- 26 YOA B/F 209 Jones St. Vidalia, GA: Failure to Appear- Driving While License Susp/Revoked, Expired Tag

Allmond, John Matthew- 31 YOA W/M 503 Church St. Apt. C Vidalia, Ga: DUI 1st Offense

Beasley, Zonnie Nichelle Jean - B/F- 22 YOA- 102 W. 9th St. Vidalia, GA- Warrant Served (Johnson County Probation)/Hit & Run- Property Damage or Injury-Fail to Stop, Leave Scene/Seatbelt Violation/No Proof of Insurance

Kelly, Dennis- B/M- 53 YOA- 713 Stuart St. Vidalia, GA- Indecent, Evocative or Provocative Bodily Exposure and Dress in Public

Moore, Dionna Casandra- B/F- 20 YOA- 2902 Fid Mosley Rd. Collins, GA- Warrant Served (Bulloch County-Bench)

Rhymes, Gregory J.T. - B/M- 17 YOA- 500 Epstein St. Vidalia, GA- Possess Firearm, Knife During Commission of, Attempt to Commit Crime/Possess Marijuana With Intent to Sell, Distribute/Possession of a Controlled Substance

Bell, John Frank- B/M- 47 YOA- 111 W. Jenkins St. Vidalia, GA- Burglary 1st Degree/Possession of Tools for the Commission of a Crime/Obstruct, Hinder Law Enforcement Officer

Kirkland, Jasmine Tyre- B/F- 24 YOA- 520 First Ave Vidalia, GA- Theft by Taking (State Warrant)

Wagner, Nasir - B/M 17 YOA/ 915 Georgia St. Vidalia, Ga./ Warrant Served (Criminal GBI)

Kight, Ronald Lee - W/M 53 YOA/ 714 Racket Town Rd. Lyons, Ga./ No Insurance 1st, (Warrant Served TCSO)

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Bernard A. Harden, Lyons, DUI

Willie Lee Bellamy, Vidalia, DUI, bicycle-no headlight

Ashley Houston, Lyons, criminal trespass, false report of a crime, burglary

Dustin Stewart, Lyons, DUI, driving while license suspended/revoked, failure to maintain lane, failure to use due care radio-cellphone, tail light-tag light requirements

Victor Bell, Lyons, DUJI, possession of marijuana, possession of drug-related objects, headlight requirements

Valencia Villareal, Smyrna, Tennessee, DUI, Open container, driving unlicensed, windshield violation

Christopher Karlish, Lyons, no insurance, operating vehicle while registration suspended, failure to dim headlight

William Adams, Lyons, possession of a controlled substance

Melissa Zapata, Lyons, simple battery, disorderly conduct

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Daron Berry, Sr., Reidsville, Speeding, driving while license suspended/revoked

Timothy Childs, Lyons, Driving while license suspended/revoked, headlight requirement

James Gatliff, Vidalia, Theft by taking, criminal trespass

Christopher Thomas, Lyons, financial transaction card fraud, 8 counts

Cody Travis, Baxley, failure to appear

Donald Waters, Soperton, probation violation

Billy Hendley, Ludowici, obstruction, riot in a penal institution

Daniel Mitchell, Waycross, driving while license suspended/revoked

Zackery Phillips, Uvalda, probation violation

Pedro Rubio, Vidalia, DUI, driving while license suspended/revoked

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

01/31-Janice Wilkes Hooker, Vidalia, Arson-1st

01/31-Johnny Heggs, Mt Vernon, Battery

02/01-Nasir Nayim Wagner, Vidalia, Sexual Exploitation of Children

02/03-Justin Nicholas Peeples, Mt Vernon, Terroristic Threats, DUI, Stop Sign Violation







February 6--  The Episcopal Church of the Annunciation in Vidalia is the latest Georgia church to receive an energy efficiency grant from Georgia Interfaith Power and Light.

annunciationcheckReverend Deacon Leeann Culbreath of Tifton presented a $2,300 matching grant to the church's Junior Warden Donnie Alderman during the annual meeting Sunday.  The church underwent an energy audit last year and agreed to make improvements aimed at reducing energy consumption.

The non-profit group has contributed more than $900,000 to Georgia congregations of all faiths since 2007.

February 6--  The City of Lyons is adopting a new approach to modernize its two wastewater treatment plants.

After bids for the project came in millions of dollars higher than available funds, city leaders looked at other alternatives and have settled on a concept called "design-build," according to city councilman Larry Griggers, "It gives each of these companies out there who are putting in sewage systems an opportunity to tell you how they would solve your problem as opposed to having to conform to how you or your engineer thinks it ought to be solved.  It gives them the opportunity to put on the table systems they have built before that they know work and stand behind and it gives us a little bit better price range."

Lyons has been approved for a $14 million dollar federal loan to finance the project, however, the lowest bid came in at more than $17 million and was in the process of being re-negotiated.  At Tuesday night's city council meeting, the council approved a motion by Griggers to reject the bid and proceed with "design-build," something that has been done successfully by the City of Valdosta.

"I compared the cost per gallon that Valdosta paid for their $12 million plant to the one we have.  Ours was five times more and that just told me we need to do something different," Griggers said. 

He also notes the new approach takes costly "change orders" out of the equation and at the same time allows the city to avoid paying back a loan over a 30-year period for a project with a 20-year life span.

"The designers tell you that for 20 years you can depend on it to deliver what we've designed it to do, but after that, maybe or maybe not.  I don't think we ought to commit that much of the city's funds to a design that is only warranted for 20 years.  That was the killer to me, paying for something for 30 years that's only designed to work for 20 is just a showstopper," he said.

Lyons City Manager Jason Hall says he's working to get the project up and running within 60 days.  It calls for increasing the wastewater treatment capacity at the city's Northeast Treatment Plant which serves the industrial park north of town and for modernizing its Southeast Treatment Plant.

The council also okayed a bid of $77,514.60 to buy two fully equipped Ford Explorers for the Lyons Police Department from Woody Folsom Automotive.

Click to read Councilman Griggers' report on the meeting,.



February 5--  Five high school seniors and their teachers were honored Monday night in Vidalia in the annual Student Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR) awards ceremony sponsored by the Professional Associates of Georgia Educators (PAGE), the Georgia Department of Education and the Vidalia Kiwanis Club.

stars2018STAR students with their teachers behind them are (L-R) Brooke O'Conner and Brittany Hobbs, Montgomery County High School; Evan Venable and Ashley Lampp, Robert Toombs Christian Academy; Christian Adams and Richard Marsh, Toombs County High School; Alisa Velazquez and William Harn, Vidalia High School; Katie Dawson and Andrea Towns, Vidalia Heritage Academy.

This year's venue was in the Vidalia First Baptist Church historical sanctuary hosted by Vidalia Heritage Academy.

Contributors to the program include Altamaha Bank & Trust Company, Peoples Bank, Million Pines Community Bank, Vidalia Federal Savings Bank and the Vidalia Rotary Club.

February 6-- The window is now open for area students to apply for a scholarship honoring the memory of a beloved Toombs County teen. From now until March 20th, qualified seniors who wish to apply for the Courtney Wilkes Ag & Vet Scholarship can submit their applications. Vidalia® onion farmers have collected donations to fund the scholarship for at least twenty years in the amount of $1,000.

In June 2011, 15-year-old Courtney Wilkes of Toombs County was brutally murdered while she was on vacation with her family in Florida.  

The Vidalia® onion industry established this scholarship to honor the life of the bright, funny, friendly young woman. Seniors graduating within the Vidalia onion growing region who are enrolled in either Agriculture or Veterinary fields may apply. They must possess many of the positive attributes Courtney displayed each day including strong morals, good humor, intelligence, commitment to learning, and respectful appreciation of nature and animals. Those counties qualifying are: Emanuel, Candler, Treutlen, Bulloch, Wheeler, Montgomery, Evans, Tattnall, Toombs, Telfair, Jeff Davis, Appling, Bacon, Jenkins, Screven, Laurens, Dodge, Pierce, Wayne, and Long.

Courtney was a rising junior at Toombs County High School and number one in her class academically. She was an officer of FFA, star soccer player, and devout Christian.   She was an outdoor enthusiast described by all who knew her as infectiously cheerful and who offered to everyone around her a bright smile and silly jokes. She loved animals and aspired to be a veterinarian, which is why applicants must be enrolled in an agriculture or veterinary track.

Scholarship applications should be submitted by hard copy specifically to:

Courtney Wilkes Scholarship

C/O Vidalia® Onion Business Council

Mail: P.O. Box 2611

In Person: 100 Vidalia Sweet Onion Dr.

Vidalia, GA, 30475

The deadline is Tuesday, March 20, 2018, 5pm EST. For questions or to request an application, contact Bob Stafford at 912-537-1881 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

February 6--  Sally Meadows Elementary School in Vidalia is underway with its second annual recycling contest.

Last year students recycled 100,421 cans and collected $1,800 for the school.  Classes in the school compete to see which one can collect the most cans during the month-long contest which is sponsored by the City of Vidalia, Republic Services, Chick-fil-A and Vidalia realtor Sara Brown.

The contest started last year as the brainchild of three members of the  2017 Toombs-Montgomery Leadership Class to teach students the importance of recycling and to have fun doing it.

Winners will be announced at a Recycling Rally at the school Tuesday, March 6.

recycle18At the kickoff rally are (L-R)Greg Johnson, Councilman; Sara Brown, Realtor; Tammy McFadden, SDM Principal; Amie Vassie, Recycle Robot, & John Nail, Republic Services; Salain Meadows, SDM Teacher/2017 Contest Winner; Cow, Mindy Morrison, & Britt McDade, Chick-fil-A; Nick Overstreet, City of Vidalia; Jake Cleghorn, Ameris Bank


February 6-- Judge Howard C. Kaufold, Jr. presided over Montgomery County Superior Court’s first civil term of 2018 yesterday.

Before calling the court to order, Judge Kaufold invited Russia Little, Quartermaster of the local VFW Post 10229, to lead the court in the Pledge of Allegiance.  Judge Kaufold then proceeded with swearing in Grand Jurors and presided over civil cases to come before the court.

Judge Kaufold is the first Superior Court Judge in the Oconee Judicial Circuit from Montgomery County.  He was sworn-in as Superior Court Judge by Governor Nathan Deal on January 9, 2018. 

During Judge Kaufold’s career as an attorney, he served as county attorney for Montgomery and Toombs counties.  Judge Kaufold’s first jury trial as an attorney was in Montgomery County Superior Court during June of 1978.  Almost forty years later, he is scheduled to preside over his first jury trial today.

kaufoldcourt(L-R) Sheriff Doug Maybin, Quartermaster Russia Little, Judge Howard C. Kaufold, Jr. and his wife, Sherri.

February 5--  An Eastman man was killed early Saturday in a one-car wreck in Montgomery County.

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin says officials believe 45-year-old Daniel Kersey may have fallen asleep at the wheel when his vehicle crashed about 3 a.m. Saturday on Highway 280 near the Calvary Grace Baptist Church on the eastern side of Ailey.  He was a Vidalia native and lived most of his life in Lyons before moving to Eastman about nine years ago.

Sheriff Maybin also reports authorities are investigating a shooting over a $10 dollar bet on the Superbowl.  He says one man was shot in the knee after the game and the shooter fled the scene.  Mount Vernon police are investigating.

February 4--  State Senator Blake Tillery of Vidalia provides an update on the Georgia General Assembly session.

The work in Atlanta continues as we push closer to the mid-way point of this year’s session. This week, six matters came before the full Senate. My colleagues jokingly called Tuesday, legislative day 12, “Blake Tillery Day” as all the bills that made it to the Senate floor that day belonged to me (however, there were only 2!). I am thankful these bills, dealing with Medicaid fraud and the effects of certain juvenile court proceedings on adoption matters, were heard and passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, a big feat for any legislative body.

In Georgia, Medicaid is funded roughly 65% by the federal government and 35% by the state. Fraudulent recoveries are split between the state and feds by the same ratio. Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr pointed out by tweaking certain statutes, Georgia could enhance its split of civil fines and recoveries with the feds to 45%. My Medicaid fraud bill, SB 321, made those tweaks, which I am hopeful increases the pool of healthcare dollars for rural healthcare.

We tackled several other issues in committee this week.  Of particular note was SB 338. Executive agencies have rule making and regulatory authority that many times exceeds anything ever intended by the legislature. SB 338 strengthened safeguards to keep bureaucrats from creating rules the legislature never would have agreed to. In committee, it became clear to me this proposal, while better than current law, did not go far enough. I’ll be working next week with colleagues in the Senate and House to draw a committee substitute that goes even further to protect citizens from bureaucratic rule making and overreach. We already have enough laws. We don’t need to triple that amount and confuse things more with bureaucratic rules and regulations.

One highlight this week was a visit from 55 students and chaperones from Montgomery County Middle School. We toured the House Chamber with Representative Greg Morris and each student stood behind a desk in the 56-member Senate Chamber for a hands-on lesson on how the Senate voting system works. The comic relief moment of the week followed soon after. Students began staring at the name placards on the Senators’ desks.  One student seemed deep in thought.  When question time arrived, he had one: “are all the people [serving in] here alive?”  Somewhat perplexed, I assured him they were. He then turned to the desk of my Senate colleague, John F. Kennedy from Macon, with on simple question, “then where is he?”

If you or a group you belong to would like to join us for a day at the Capitol, I’d be honored to help you arrange it. I’m more than happy to show you around! Thank you for the opportunity to serve you in the Georgia Senate, and let me know if you have any comments, questions and concerns over legislation.

February 4-- Vidalia Heritage Academy's High School and Middle School Scholastic Chess Teams qualified and competed for the GICAA Chess State title in Greensboro.

The Middle School won the state title and the high school team placed third. Three middle school players, Anna Beall, Drake Menard, and Gaige Brantley and one high school player, Devein Burrell, were undefeated for the day! All four were awarded individual medals! Alexandria Lee(MS), Grace Mixon(HS), Jacob Mixon(HS), and James Hagan(HS) had great contributions to their team’s effort.

vhschesschamps(L-R) Gaige Brantley, Drake Menard, Alexandria Lee, Coach Jim Beall, and Anna Beall.

Both chess teams had to promote up a player to fill in for players out with the flu. The high school team was one game away from advancing to the title match. The middle school team did not lose a single game in the final match – going 4-0 defeating King’s Academy from Woodstock. “I am very proud of the concentration and mental fortitude all players demonstrated today competing throughout the day in back to back matches!” exclaimed Coach Jim Beall.

The Scholastic Chess Program at Vidalia Heritage was implemented and supported as part of an East Georgia State College Scholastic Chess initiative in area schools. Assistant Professor Jim Beall leads this effort and has assisted chess programs in Emanuel, Montgomery, Toombs, and Candler counties. For information about this initiative please contact Professor Beall at jbeall

For more information about GICCA (Georgia Independent Christian Arts Association), visit

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

Woods, Jimmie Earl- W/M-30 YOA- 605 Bay Street Vidalia, GA/ Possession Of A Controlled Substance/ Possession Of Drug Related Objects/ Warrant Service

Fowler, Rasheeda N –B/F- 36YOA- 409 Mosley Street Vidalia, Ga/Aggravated Battery

McKinney, Keith Bernard - B/M 47 YOA / 1102 E North St Rm 2 Vidalia, Ga/ Criminal Trespass

Mosley, April Nichole - W/F 38 YOA/ 101 Bluebird Dr. Vidalia, Ga./ Theft By Shoplifting 1st Offense

Taylor, William Joshua - W/M 28 YOA/ 1597 Lyons Center Rd. Vidalia, Ga./ Unlawful Use Of License Plates, Driving while License Suspended Or Revoked 2nd, No Proof Of Insurance

McDaniel, Tracy Lee - W/M 38 YOA/ 366 Green Oak Rd. Lyons, Ga/ Warrant Served (Parole Violation), Possession Of Firearms By Convicted Felon, Willfully Obstruction Of Police Officer Simple/Verbal

Anthony, Curtis James - B/M 55 YOA/ 408 Grand St. Vidalia, Ga./ Driving While License Suspended Or Revoked lst

Joiner, Bernice - B/F 66 YOA/ 718 Winona St. Vidalia, Ga./ DUI 1st, Failure To Yield Right Of Way, Accident

Roosa, Cassi Marie - W/F 23 YOA/ 5740 Main St. Apt A Eastman, Ga./ Warrant Served VPD (Theft By Shoplifting 1st Offense, Willfully Obstruction Of Police Officer Simple/ Verbal)

Williams, Latosha Rena J.- B/F- 44 YOA- 208 Martin Luther King Ave Vidalia, GA- No Proof of Insurance/Operating a Vehicle While Registration is Suspended, Canceled or Revoked

Hippard, Colin Tyree - B/M 23YOA /517 Martin Luther King Blvd. Vidalia, Ga / Warrant Served (Glynn Co Probation)

Lewis, Jimmie Earl - W/M 84YOA/1611 Loop Rd Vidalia. Ga/ Criminal Trespass

Singleton, Treyshaun - B/M 26 YOA/ 209 Schumpert St. Vidalia, Ga. / Warrant Served (Lyons Probation)

Bluitt, Dave Mack II - B/M 31 YOA/ 405 Twelfth Ave. Vidalia, Ga. / Warrant Served (Lyons Probation)

Carter, Melvin Wesley- W/M- 20 YOA- 136 Fields LN Uvalda, GA- Possession of Drug Related Objects/Possession of a Controlled Substance/Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense

Barwick, William Randall- W/M- 55 YOA- 211 Pine St. Vidalia, GA- Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (Second)/Failure to Obey Stop/Yeild Sign (Bench Warrant Served)/Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (Second)

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Amin Odeh. Lyons, Expired tag, driving unlicensed, no insurance

Adrian Fields, Uvalda, Reckless driving, fleeing attempting to elude felony, obstructing law officer, theft by receiving stolen property

Hunter Brannon, Vidalia, warrant served

Alfreddie Mobley, Lyons, Probation viiolation

Tyrone Polke, Lyons, warrant served

Susan Diaz, Lyons, shoplifting

Tyler Moore, Lyons, underage possession, purchase and consumption of alcohol

Cameron Thigpen, Lyons, child molestation, disruption of public schools

Walter Slaughter, Lyons, warrant served

Fermin Tlapanco, Lyons, public drunkeness

Chandler Stewart, Uvalda, Driving while license suspended/revoked

Bernard Harden, Lyons, DUI

Willie Lee Bellamy, Vidalia, DUI

Ashley Houston, Lyons, criminal trespass, false report of a crime, burglary

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Chris Davis, Lyons, Failure to appear

Elijah Scott, Soperton, Probation violation

Billy Bowens, Atlanta, DUI, attempting to allude police, abandonment of dangerous drugs; purchase, possession, manufacture, distribution and sale of marijuana

Mahalika Crawford, Vidalia, forgery, shoplifting, probation violation

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

01/24-John Travis Darden, Vidalia, Theft by Taking

 01/25-Latyal Michelle Moye, Mount Vernon, Burglary



February 2--  Vidalia Fire Chief Brian Sikes reports a busy month in January. 

Firemen were called out 31 times including:

4 - House Fires

2- Building  Fires

4- Auto Fires

7- Brush Fires

2- Gas Leaks

12- False Alarms 

The department also installed 78 smoke detectors in January.

February 2--  A second candidate has announced his plans to run for the Toombs County Commission succeeding retiring Fourth District Commissioner Jeff McCormick.

eddietooleEddie Toole made the announcement in a press release Thursday.

I have lived in Cedar Crossing for over 40 years and served on the Toombs County School Board from 1999-2003. I have always been concerned for the people of the county and have always tried to do what I could to make life better for those of us who live in the rural part of the county. While on the school board, I was able to work with the Sheriff's department to get the DARE program in the Toombs County Schools. I feel like it is time for me to do what I can to help all the people who live in the 4th District. I want to be accessible to all the people in the district at all times and be able to help express their concerns to the Commissioners and work to help our county grow stronger and move forward.

I am a 1983 Graduate of Toombs Central and served as State Vice-President of the FFA from 1982-83.

I attended Brewton Parker College in 1983-85.

I taught school at Ocmulgee Academy in Lumber City, where I was the Head Football coach for two years, 1986 & 1989.

I worked in my families business for over 25 years before leaving and working in the cabinet business in the Savannah area.

I am employed as a Cabinet Designer at Handy Andy in Vidalia, GA.

I have been a minister in the Church of God since 2010 and I attend Cedar Crossing Church of God with my family. 

I live with my family in Cedar Crossing. Penny and I have two daughters, Amber Galbreath (husband Chris) and Ashley Summerlin (husband Marcus). Both of my daughters work at Meadows Health, Chris is a Marine Corps Veteran and is employed at Plant Hatch and Marcus drives delivery trucks for Handy Andy in Vidalia. My family is important to me and so is this county. I want to serve the people of the 4th district because I was born to serve. 

For more information on my candidacy, you can reach me at 912-293-9865.

I will be running as a Republican.

Earlier Tommy Rollins announced his candidacy.

February 1--  Vidalia insurance man Brian Bishop chaired the Toombs-Montgomery Chamber of Commerce ten years ago and Thursday night he assumed the role again.

gingerandbrianOutgoing Chairperson Ginger Morris passes the Chamber Board's gavel to Bishop after receiving a plaque of appreciation for her service to the chamber in 2017.

"We're always trying news ideas and we're trying to do things to keep current and on the cutting edge to keep our members engaged and to benefit our members," Bishop said.

The Chamber's annual meeting attracted a large crowd to the Vidalia Community Center, "That says a lot about our community.  I hear it everywhere I go.  Anyone who have ever moved into our community will tell you there's no other place like this, they are so glad they are here and they wouldn't leave," Bishop observed.

gingerandjohnThe two chamber leaders presented this year's past Chairman's Award to John Koon of Vidalia Communications Corporation who led the chamber in 2016 and is serving as an advisor this year to Chairman Bishop.

February 1--  Toombs County businessman Tommy Rollins is running for the Toombs County Commission to succeed retiring District Four Commissioner Jeff McCormick.

tommyrollinseditedRollins announced his candidacy in a press release and said, “I am running because I want to keep Toombs County growing, taxes low, and a government that is responsive to its citizens.”

Regarding Commissioner McCormick’s decision to not run again, Rollins said, “Jeff McCormick has been a great leader for our county. I had the pleasure of working with him in several roles while he was on the commission and I know that he always put the people of Toombs County first.”

Rollins has owned Tar Land and Timber Company since 1997 and  has been involved with the community,
serving for ten years on the Toombs County Development Authority, three years as Chairman.

He has been married to his wife, Becky, since 1977. They have a daughter, Betsy, who also lives in Toombs County. They are members of Lyons First Baptist Church.

District Four resident Chris Hopkins says about Rollins, “When I heard that Commissioner McCormick
wasn’t running for reelection, I was concerned who would represent my family on the Commission.
When Tommy told me that he was he was throwing his hat in the ring, I knew that he was the right
person to represent district 4 on the Toombs County Commission.”

For more information you can reach Tommy at 912-282-1234. Tommy will be running as a
Republican. The Republican Primary will be held on May 22, 2018.