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March 28-- The third annual Chick-fil-A Vidalia Road Race earlier this month attracted 485 runners and 28 teams and exceeded its fundraising goals for this summer's WinShape Camp and the Paul Anderson Youth Home in Vidalia.

This year's goal was to raise $10,000 for each organization, as shown at the check presentation, however, the race raised more than expected and both groups are receiving $11,628.

Representatives from local businesses sponsoring this year’s event presented the checks to each organization at a luncheon hosted by Britt McDade, owner/operator of Chick-fil-A Vidalia. The sponsoring businesses along with Chick-fil-A Vidalia are ZORN Insight, Spivey Orthopedic Clinic, South Georgia Radiology Associates and Ameris Bank.

Britt McDade commented, “What a great pleasure it is to continue the partnerships that our Chick-fil-A Founder was so passionate about.  S. Truett Cathy was the first donor to the Paul Anderson Youth Home and he commonly referred to it as his “second favorite charity.” The first, which he founded, is WinShape Camps, an extension of the vision for ‘Shaping Winners’ that he had so long ago. “

PAYH Check


PAYH Check photo from left to right: Mindy Morrison, Chris Zorn, Jake Cleghorn, Dr. Casey Spivey, Britt McDade, Caleb Leonard, Brian Clift, Dusty Todd, Dr. Anna Franklin and Marissa Brown










WinShape Check photo from left to right:  Mindy Morrison, Chris Zorn, Jake Cleghorn, Dr. Casey Spivey, Britt McDade, Mitch Bellflower, Tracy Todd, Jana Parks, Dusty Todd, Dr. Anna Franklin and Marissa Brown

The date for the 4th Annual Chick-fil-A Vidalia Road Race has been set for the first Saturday in March, 2019.

March 30--  The United States has filed a civil forfeiture complaint seeking the possession of 63 pit bull-type dogs that were allegedly involved in a dog fighting venture in violation of the federal Animal Welfare Act.  Pursuant to a federal warrant, the animals were seized on March 19, 2018, in Eastman, Georgia, by United States Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General (USDA-OIG) special agents working with the United States Marshals Service, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Georgia State Patrol (GSP), Oconee Drug Task Force, Dodge County Sheriff’s Office, and Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

According to the complaint filed last week in federal court, the animals were seized after GSP troopers conducted a traffic stop involving a vehicle inside of which an injured dog was found.  The operator of the vehicle admitted to having been present at a dog fight in Eastman, Georgia, and provided law enforcement with the location of the fight.  At the reported location, agents discovered a disassembled dog fighting “pit” and more than 60 pit bull-type dogs staked to the ground by heavy chains.  The condition of a majority of the dogs, including scarring and aggression towards other dogs, was consistent with dog fighting and related training.

After obtaining a search warrant, agents found numerous indications of dog fighting at the Eastman property, including a treadmill with a rope attached to the front part of the machine, antibiotics and other injectable veterinary medications, and a jenny mill, which is used to develop a dog’s endurance and musculature by enticing the animal to run on a circular track.  From four grave areas, agents unearthed the remains of seven dogs, five of which had scarring consistent with dog fighting and one of which had a broken leg.  During the search, agents noted that none of the live animals had access to food, and most did not have access to water.

Following the seizure, the United States Marshals Service took custody of the animals.  K2 Solutions, Inc. and the Humane Society of the United States are assisting with the care of the dogs, at least some of which are pregnant.

“Dog fighting is a barbaric spectacle that has no place in any civilized society, and it will enjoy no quarter in the Southern District of Georgia,” United States Attorney Bobby L. Christine said.  “We know that animal fighting ventures often entail other forms of illegal activity involving drugs, firearms, and gambling, and this Office will continue to work with its law enforcement partners at all levels to investigate and successfully prosecute those who contribute to the proliferation of crime and seek to profit off the abuse and suffering of helpless animals.”

USDA-OIG Special Agent-in-Charge Karen Citizen-Wilcox stated, “The United States Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General-Investigations, actively investigates allegations of animal abuse.  This agency has made animal fighting a high priority in order to demonstrate that these blatant acts of cruelty to animals will no longer be tolerated.  We would like to thank United States Attorney’s Office for aggressively prosecuting perpetrators of animal fighting.”

“The Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division is pleased to have partnered with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the U.S. Marshals Service, and federal and state law enforcement in this joint effort to remove these animals from harm’s way, pursuant to federal law, as quickly as possible,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey H. Wood for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “We applaud the agents and attorneys who worked tirelessly and acted on very little notice to achieve this successful outcome.”

Dog fighting is a violent contest in which two dogs that are bred and conditioned for fighting are released by their owners or handlers in a controlled environment to attack each other and fight for purposes of entertainment or gambling.  Fights usually end when one dog withdraws, when a handler “picks up” his dog and forfeits the match, or when one or both dogs die.  Persons engaged in dog fighting typically use “pit bull”-type dogs, which dog fighters prefer for their compact muscular build, short coat, and the aggression that some display toward other dogs.

The federal Animal Welfare Act makes it a felony punishable by up to five years in prison to fight dogs or to possess, train, sell, buy, deliver, receive, or transport them for that purpose.  The statute further authorizes the seizure and forfeiture of animals involved in dog fighting.  Once the dogs are forfeited or surrendered to federal authorities, they can be evaluated and placed for adoption.  Although federal funds will be used to pay for the care of the dogs while they remain in law enforcement custody, the Animal Welfare Act empowers the government to recover those costs from the dogs’ owners.

Assistant United States Attorneys Theodore S. Hertzberg and Xavier A. Cunningham are pursuing the forfeiture of the dogs on behalf of the United States.  USDA-OIG is leading the related federal investigation.  For any questions, please contact the United States Attorney’s Office at (912) 652-4422.

March 30--  Employees of U.S. Pet Nutrition in Lyons are advised the plant will be closed for operation next Monday and Tuesday, April 2nd and April 3rd.  The announcement was made by Human Resources Manager Kathryn Roseen.

March 30--  There's a new headmaster at Robert Toombs Christian Academy in Lyons starting in June.

Travis Absher graduated from Montgomery County High School in 2000 and got his Bachelors Degree and Masters Degree at Georgia Southern.  He comes to RTCA from Tattnall Square Academy in Macon where he's been since 2013 as assistant headmaster and facilities director.

travisabsherThe incoming Headmaster visited with Vidalia Rotarians Wednesday.  He is spending this week at RTCA while Tattnall Square is on Spring break.

His reaction to the new challenge, "Excited, growing up here I always knew Robert Toombs was a great school and a great place to be.  I'm just excited to bring my children back home to a great community."

Travis and his wife Courtney have twin two-year-old sons, Canon and Cason, and he's looking forward to carrying on the Robert Toombs tradition, "That school was founded 48 years ago by a group of parents with similar thoughts and concerns and I think now-a-days there are still those concerns out in this world.

"I want our students to feel safe and I want them to feel safe while they are being challenged.  I want to challenge them and push them as hard as I can while we have them there with us, while they're sitting around our tables eating dinner at night before they move off to college.  I want to show them what failure feels like and what success feels like after that failure.  The best time to do that is now when we can put our arms around our kids every night and can look them in the eye and says that's okay, now what can we do to get better, and do it all in a Christian atmosphere.  To me, there's nothing better than building leaders," he said.

Robert Toombs has about a hundred fewer students than Tattnall Square and the incoming headmaster says that's an advantage, "Being able to hold kids accountable for everything they do in those class sizes is a big key for me.  We want those kids to have those relationships with teachers where they are more than a number, that their teachers really care about them, and that's what we're going to have there."

The new headmaster's wife is also a Georgia Southern grad and will get her Master's in Health and Physical Education from Georgia State College and University in Milledgeville in May.  She's been coaching at Tattnall Square for the past three years.




2018 Miss Southeast Ga Soap Box Derby Queens

Baby - Adalynn Plante

Toddler - Annsleigh Turner

Tiny - Carlynn Mauldin

Little - Jansley Odom

Petite - Jordie-Grace Kight

Young - Hailey Burton

Junior - Melea Pittman

Teen - Emma Waters

Miss - Faith Ayala

March 29--  Vidalia City Manager Nick Overstreet issued the following statement regarding complaints about the Vidalia Recreation Department.

Citizens of Vidalia:

"In the last few days, many rumors/comments have been posted on social media regarding volunteers at the concession stand and other aspects of the Vidalia Recreation Department. These rumors/comments are inaccurate. Also, at this time, the Vidalia Recreation Department does not have an “Opening Day”. This is an idea that is currently being worked on.

"Let me assure you, once actual games begin tomorrow (Thursday 3/29/2018), our concession stands will be staffed and fully operational. Secondly, uniforms for the players will be available for the actual games Thursday, Friday, and beyond.

"It is unfortunate in the fine community we are all a part of that individuals take it upon themselves to share inaccurate information without contacting the person(s) that have accurate information. We can all do a better job of asking questions/clearing matters by contacting the people who know the answers.

"Please remember the Recreation Board meets on a regular basis at the Recreation Department and the public is invited to attend to express their concerns and provide input. If you have any questions or concerns, my office is always open and I am available also."

Thank You,

Nick Overstreet
City Manager

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

Griffin,David Neal Jr. 37 YOA / 883 Allen Dr Vidalia, Ga 30474/Forgery First Degree (Felony)

Sapp, Rachel Ann- W/F- 44 YOA- 404 West St. Vidalia, GA- Warrant Served (Toombs Co SO)/Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (Second)

Tootle, Kimberly Michelle- W/F-32 YOA/ 352 Reedy Creek Circle, Vidalia Ga/ DUI-1ST Offense, Open Container, Fail To Change Name, Address W/in 60 Days, Possession Of Marijuana Less Than 1oz

Wright, Nichole Renee - W/F 43 YOA/ 321 Jerriel St Apt 10 Vidalia, Ga./ State Warrant (Houston County)

Taylor, Ernest Kyle - W/M 28 YOA/ 112 Marvin Church Rd Lyons, Ga./ Probation Warrant (Toombs County)

Cobb, Valerie Amber - W/F 39 YOA/705 W Second St Vidalia, Ga./Criminal Trespass, Simple Battery

Tillery, Jonathan Allen - W/M 27 YOA/106 W Seventh St Vidalia, Ga. / DUI 1st Offense(Misd)/Driving With Expired Tag(Misd)/Driving Without License On Person(Misd)/No Proof Of Insurance(Misd)

Bass, James Devin - W/M 17 YOA/ 1003 Jackson St. Vidalia, Ga./ Simple Battery

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Neyre Ramirez, Vidalia, DUI, failure to maintain lane, driving unlicensed, open container

Elton Burnett, Glennville, Shoplifting

Billy Joe Davis, Lyons, family violence simple battery

Fabian Holloway, Vidalia, DUI, failure to maintain lane,

Pauline Valdez, Lyons, Public drunkeness

Richard Handly, Lyons, failure to stop at stop sign, driving unlicensed

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Veronica Anthony, Lyons, driving while license suspended/revoked

Christopher Bowen, Lyons, probation violation

Raymundo Castillo-Lopez, Lyons, registration of sex offender, immigration hold

Christopher Cauley, Lyons, probation violation

Sara Gordy, Vidalia, mandatory education for children

Delvin Johnson, Vidalia, speeding, driving while license suspended/revoked

Sabrina Johnson, Uvalda, probation violation

Richard Kemp, Lyons, driving while license suspended/revoked

Robert Manghir, Blackshear, DUI

Audra Meeks, Collins, auto theft

Lannie Mincey, Savannah, probation violation

Cherish Osborne, Soperton, probation violation

Cardell Sweat, Lyons, auto theft

Marcos Vasquez, Lyons, DUI, driving unlicensed, open container, speeding

Rashada Williams, Vidalia, probation violation

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests. 

03/19-Tyriq Dashon Maxwell, Mt Vernon, Felony Probation Violation

03/20-Clayton Shawn Dubberly, Baxley, Felony Probation Violation

03/20-Michel Andrew Bowers, Reidsville, Tattnall County Warrants Served

03/20-Samuel Kurt Miller, Uvalda, Misdemeanor Probation Violation

03/20-Anita Marie Murray, Mt. Vernon, Aggravated Assault

03/20-Destiny Rosemarie Murray, Mt. Vernon, Aggravated Assault

03/21-Jhirmichael Terrell Williams, Adrian, Speeding, Driving w/Suspended License, Giving False Information

03/21-Derrick Stephens, Atlanta, LaGrange Police Department Warrant Served

03/22-Haley Nicole Cardell, Glenwood, Aggravated Assault, Terroristic Threat and Acts, Possession of Controlled Substance, Criminal Trespass, Obstruction of Officer

03/22-Deciderio Ibarra, Uvalda, Aggravated Sexual Battery (FVA)

03/24-Diamond Devonne Calloway, Mt Vernon, Aggravated Assault

March 27-- New traffic signals designed to improve safety and increase traffic flow – especially for left-turn movements – will be installed and activated Wednesday, April 4 at the intersection of Highway 280 East and  Harris Industrial Boulevard in Vidalia.

trafficsignTraffic signals at this intersection will be re-signalized by the Georgia Department of Transportation with what are known as Four-Section Flashing Yellow Arrow traffic lights that will provide an extended period of time for motorists to turn left after yielding to any oncoming traffic.

“The flashing yellow arrow primary purpose is to reduce the often-devastating right angle crashes that occur when drivers turning left are struck by oncoming traffic,” stated Cynthia Phillips, District Traffic Engineer. “This new traffic signal design will give drivers a clear picture of when they may turn left, when to proceed with caution, and when they should prepare to stop.”

The FYA signals will apply exclusively to drivers making left turns. The signal configuration will be a vertical display of four left turn arrows functioning as follows (displayed at bottom):

  • When solid Red arrow is illuminated, no left turn is allowed;
  • When solid Yellow arrow is displayed, drivers should prepare to stop as light is about to turn red;
  • When flashing Yellow arrow is illuminated, drivers may turn left but must yield to pedestrians and oncoming vehicles; and
  • When solid Green arrow is displayed, drivers may turn left.  

Federal Highway Administration studies have shown these signals help reduce crashes of left-turning vehicles by as much as 35 percent.  The FYA also offers clearer guidance to drivers turning left and allows them more movement through the intersection when no pedestrians or oncoming traffic are present, thereby reducing back-ups, engine idling and auto emissions.

By: Sen. Blake Tillery (R – Vidalia)

Monday began the last week of this year’s legislative session.  We will adjourn, Sine Die, this Thursday, March 29. This week we passed 54 House Bills and resolutions, and I expect the twelfth and final week to be a marathon of vetting, amending and voting on legislation. Of the 56 different pieces of legislation we passed this week, I want to highlight a few I believe most resonate with us at home:

•          HB 381 eases the process for landowners to remove abandoned and unwanted mobile homes off their property. We encountered this situtation several times when I was on the county commission, so I was happy to help with a solution.

•          HB 732 would expand the offenses of sex trafficking. We have strict penalties against the suppy side of sex trafficking (think, the pimp). This bill goes after the supply side, (the “John”) and would penalizes knowingly patronizing a person in sexual servitude.

•          HB 792 increases the surcharge from $1 to $3 for counties who have landfills. This would discourage out-of-state trash from being dumped in our landfills, including coal ash. (another bill has the language as well, but coal ash was exempted. Rep. Bill Werkheiser and I are diligently working to have it re-included)

•         HB 701 adds opiods to the list of drugs that are tested for during state employee drug screens.

•          HB 843 helps protect Georgia bases from the next round of BRAC (federal Base Relignment and Closure) by including census tracts in counties containing certain federal military installations in the definition of areas eligible for addition jobs tax credits. This is especially important for places like Liberty, Tattnall, and Long Counties as Fort Stewart will likely be positively impacted by this legislation.

•          House Bill 779 creates the Emergency Operations Command and the Board of Homeland Security that would work to manage Georgia’s public safety emergencies. However, the newly created agencies would not be tasked with the operational authority of Georgia’s public safety.

•          House Bill 906 would allow the personal information of foster parents, like their home address, phone number, banking information and other things known to the Department of Family and Children’s Services, to be shielded from public records.

A big problem that I have heard from many of you is the need for different rules within the trucking industry. Many truckers carry perishable items and materials like food or different animals such as cattle, horses and chickens. Senate Resolution 989 encourages the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to withdraw Electronic Logging Device regulations and in turn fully honor the hours of service provisions for the agriculture industry. This would allow prevent food from perishing, or even worse, animals being trapped in trailers, due to regulations that apply to traditional cargo truckers.

Health care is always a topic of heated discussion and this week was no different with the passage of House Bill 65. This legislation would create a THC Medical Oil Access Study Commission that would be tasked with making recommendations based on medical research in relation to the dosages, patient responses and drug interactions of medical cannabis oil. Additionally, I voted for an amendment to support the expansion of medical marijuana for PTSD, mainly due to stories of veterans and others in our community. While the amendment failed, the THC medical Oil Access Study Commission did pass.

Much more of the work this week took place in committee. Much of that legislation will likely come to the floor of the Senate next week and I’ll do my best to update you then.

In addition to the multitude of legislation and hours of committee work, we also had some very special guests join us in the Senate. The first was Lucas Andrew Warren. Lucas is from Dalton, Ga and was chosen among thousands of applicants as the 2018 Gerber Spokes Baby. Lucas also was born with Down Syndrome. He is the first special needs child to be the face for Gerber. Along with being the cutest visitor to the chamber this week, he was also one of the most inspirational. We were also able to entertain a legend from my childhood, Chipper Jones, and congratulate him on his election into the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. Chipper spent 19 seasons with the Atlanta Braves and was a part of the 1995 World Series Championship team, among a host of other accomplishments that you likely know. What you may not know is that I saw Chipper in person on family vacation to the Braves Spring Training camp in West Palm Beach, Florida when I was about 13 years old. Chipper Jones signed the baseball of the kid on my right. He also signed the ball of the kid on my left, but he skipped right over me! The Senate Chamber didn’t feel like the appropriate place to remind him of that.

The state of Georgia lost a true legacy this week, former Governor Zell B. Miller. Governor Miller is best known for establishing the Georgia HOPE Scholarship, which now sends hundreds of thousands of Georgia high school students to colleges throughout the state by paying some of their tuition costs. When recounting his life in chamber, we were told a story of his childhood when his mother told him that “you can get anywhere in the world from this one place.” And it is because of him that so many across Georgia have been able to peruse dreams that lead them anywhere in the world. He will be greatly missed.

As always, it is a pleasure to serve you. Many of you have my email or cell number and have not hesitated to use it. Please feel free to continue to do so as the 2018 draws to an end.

March 27-- Dublin gynecologist George “Mack” Bird, III, 59, has entered a guilty plea before Senior United States District Court Judge Dudley H. Bowen, Jr. to charges of Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances and Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering, both federal felonies carrying up to five years of imprisonment without the possibility of parole. 

Bird also conceded that approximately $2.7 million of seized assets and five parcels of land were traceable to proceeds of his crimes, and he agreed to forfeit the same to the United States. 

According to information presented at the March 21 hearing, Dr. Bird was the owner and operator of medical practices in Eastman and Dublin, Georgia, from which prescription drugs were sold to patients for cash and prescribed without a legitimate medical purpose.  Those drugs included but were not limited to opioids (such as hydrocodone combination products), alprazolam (Xanax), carisoprodol (Soma), phentermine (Adipex), and phendimetrazine (Plegine). 

In the years leading to his arrest in 2015, Dr. Bird delegated many of his patient care responsibilities to employees who could not legally distribute or dispense controlled substances without a physician’s oversight.  To facilitate the distribution and dispensation of controlled substances, Dr. Bird directed his staff to use pre-signed prescription forms and pre-printed medical notes that were placed in patients’ files to give the appearance that the patients had been examined by Dr. Bird when, in fact, they had not been.

Dr. Bird’s criminal conduct netted him millions of dollars.  Although he kept a significant portion of that money, Dr. Bird used some of his proceeds to pay his co-conspirators and purchase drugs for eventual distribution.

United States Attorney Bobby L. Christine stated, “Blinded by greed, Mack Bird broke the law, sold out his patients’ welfare, and violated his solemn oath to do no harm.  This Office takes seriously the opioid crisis in the United States and will continue to prosecute drug dealers who fuel addiction and poison the community, whether from the street or inside an exam room.”

U.S. Attorney Christine commended the hard work and dedication of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Tactical Diversion Squad and the Oconee Drug Task Force, both of which investigated the case. 

March 27-- Gov. Nathan Deal today announced an increase in the FY 2019 state revenue estimate by more than $194 million over initial projections, bringing the new revenue estimate to more than $26.2 billion. As a result, Deal amended his budget recommendation initially presented in January to include an additional $167 million for K-12 education.

These funds will ensure the state is fully funding the Quality Basic Education (QBE) funding formula and providing local school systems with 100 percent of the state’s share in financing for local schools.  

“Georgia’s strong economic growth in recent years has allowed us to invest heavily in education, transportation, public safety and health care,” said Deal. “These investments have in turn helped to create more economic growth by helping Georgia achieve and maintain its state as the No. 1 state in which to do business. This year, as a result of stronger-than-anticipated state revenue performance and federal tax reform, I’m amending my FY 2019 budget to include additional funding in a number of areas, including education and transit, two areas that companies often cite as important factors in determining where they wish to grow and expand their businesses.

“The addition of $167 million to K-12 education will bring total funding for education to $9.6 billion. This investment will give local school systems the opportunity to provide the programs necessary to improve struggling schools and enhance student performance. During my time as governor, I have consistently heard from educators who have cited a lack of funding as a barrier to achieving success in their classroom. This additional $167 million will ensure the state is fully doing its financial part to address their concerns. Finally, fully funding QBE provides a stronger foundation to lawmakers and stakeholders to reform this outdated formula to accommodate the needs of today’s students and 21st-century classrooms.

March 27--  Friday, April 20 is the day this year that Vidalia Onion growers will start shipping this year's crop to market.

The pack date was set yesterday by the Vidalia Onion Committee and the Georgia Department of Agriculture.

Eighty registered growers in 20 southeast Georgia counties are authorized to sell the Sweet Vidalia Onions under the trademark established by the Vidalia Onion Act of 1986.

Last year officials says Vidalia Onions valued at more than $120 million were shipped to every state in the country.

March 27--  Representatives from three area school systems discussed school safety and security issues in the aftermath of the school slaughter in Florida.

Vidalia School Superintendent Dr. Garret Wilcox, Vidalia High School Principal John Sharpe, Toombs County School Superintendent Richard Smith and the Federal Programs Coordinator in the Montgomery County schools, Julie Harrelson, were guests on "Straight Talk With Wilson Johnson" on NewsTalk WVOP in Vidalia.

Dr. Wilcox says discussions are taking place to control access to the schools in Vidalia, "The biggest thing we've done in the last few weeks is we had a representative from the Georgia Emergency Management Agency come through.  We walked through all the buildings and the worst thing we have is how open our campuses are.  We met with our architect last week about some controlled access points that we feel will be a big help at our elementary and primary schools," he said.

In the Toombs County schools, Superintendent Smith said, "We're looking at ways to better control access to our buildings.  We've had a school resource officer in place through the Lyons Police Department for a number of years and we're looking at ways to add to that number, too."

The Montgomery County school system is planning on more classroom security, according to Julie Harrison, "We're looking at some night lock pieces to go in each classroom on the inside.  In addition to securing the fronts of our buildings, this would also allow our teachers to lock their classrooms from the inside."

Vidalia Principal John Sharpe thinks there's another important step, "One of the biggest things is trying to identify kids ahead of time.  In Florida, there were a lot of red flags that went up.  Everybody on board has to take all of these things serious.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure if we can establish relationships with kids and make a difference with them.  A lot times you have hurting kids and these hurting kids go out and make terrible choices."

Neither Smith nor Sharpe favor arming teachers.  Sharpe said, "For schools which do not have resource officers, maybe they should have someone like an administrator be trained  to have some form of defense, but for teachers, I can't see that.  I think it would be a bad decision," he said.


By State Representative Greg Morris of  Vidalia.

The 2018 Legislative Session will end on Thursday, March 29th. Many of the most important issues are still on the table. Day 39 on Tuesday, and Day 40 on Thursday will be long, contentious, and dangerous because of the speed and suddenness in which an important bill can appear with amendments that can turn a good measure into a very bad one.

2018 Budget. The Senate passed their version of the budget last week. Both chambers spend the extra billion of projected revenues on increased school enrollment, health programs and construction projects. Both chambers agree to spend 361 million of the new spending to shore up the teacher’s pension fund. The Senate eliminated the House proposal to give state retirees a one- time bonus of up to 900 dollars even though the Senate has supported them in past budgets. The Senate says they opposed the plan because current state employees and teachers weren’t getting raises, which is true. The Senate added 2 million to grants to improve school safety bringing the total to 10 million. The most interesting change in the Senate plan was 3 million to provide grants to counties and cities to supplement law enforcement pay. Their pay needs to increase, but state money will always lead to state interference in the policies of the recipients. Local control will eventually be compromised and that is my concern. I have seen it happen more than once. Conference committees from the House and Senate will present their compromise budget probably on Day 40.

Distracted Driving/Mobile Phones. H.B. 673, which would prohibit the handling of cell phones and electronic devices passed the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. The main difference in the two versions are the fines. The House plan called for a minimum fine of $300, while the Senate reduced it to $75 for the first offense, $150 for the second, and $300 for the third. The Senate also reduced the amount of points charged against your license and exempted smart watches from the ban. The Senate version is less punitive and I believe a much better bill than the House version. Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle supports it, and Gov. Deal says he will sign this version. I still have serious reservations about the bill, but I have very little doubt that this version of it is about to become law.

S.B. 17/Sunday Sales. S.B. 17 has passed both Chambers, allowing restaurants to begin serving alcohol as early as 11:00 AM on Sunday instead of the current 12:30 pm. Grocery stores and liquor stores were not included for the earlier time. I voted no basically for personal reasons. There were 63 no votes. Usually there are only twelve of us who have consistently voted against Sunday sales. The proponents have always jokingly called us the “deacons”. Although he is a “tee-totaler” who doesn’t drink, I believe Gov. Deal will sign it.

Rural Internet Service. Whether the Legislature passes legislation that will help bring faster internet service to rural areas is uncertain. For sure, there will be no new taxes on digital products such as Netflix, satellite TV, or music downloads proposed in H.B. 887. S.B. 402 will probably pass very close to its current version. 402 allows the Department of Transportation to lay lines on public right of ways and lease them to internet companies. Local EMCs could begin to offer internet services along with electricity. Some critics say the bill needs language to streamline and standardize the deployment of wireless broadband to effectively increase access to rural areas. Another bill S.B. 426, would provide for 5G wireless internet service through boxes placed on poles in public right of ways . That measure has drawn criticism from local governments for reasons of spoiling the looks of decorative downtown lamps. At the very least, I believe infrastructure improvements will pass, but the funding to subsidize the service in the future is a far from certain.

March 26-- The J.R. Trippe Middle School Chief Chess Team finished its year Saturday by placing first for the season in the Ogeechee River Scholastic Chess Association Middle School Division.

The team participated in three tournaments hosted at Statesboro High School, competing against students from Emanuel County Institute, Robert Toombs Christian Academy, Portal Middle School, South East Bulloch Middle School, Vidalia Heritage Academy, and William James Middle School.

Special recognition goes to Conner Higgs who won 1st place for the season in the middle school division and Peyton Corbett who placed 3rd for the season in the middle school division.

jrtchess2(L-R):  Peyton Corbett, Conner Higgs, Alan Johnson, Landry Wheeler, Logan Irvin

The team was coached by Mr. Jay Youngblood, Mr. Michael Lisenby, and Mrs. Haley McKie.

March 26-- The Georgia Department of Law’s Consumer Protection Unit has received a number of complaints about scammers posing as representatives from Publisher’s Clearing House. 

The scammers call consumers and tell them they have won a big prize through the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes. They then instruct the consumer to send several hundred dollars via wire transfer or a Green Dot MoneyPak card to secure their prize or pay for fees or taxes. Consumers who comply soon discover that the “big win” they had imagined was actually a win for the scammer who made off with the consumer’s money. 

To help you avoid Publishers Clearing House (PCH) scams, the Consumer Protection Unit offers the following tips:

  • Never pay money to receive a prize.Not only is this a sure sign of a scam, it is a violation of Georgia law.
  • PCH sweepstakes are always free to enter, and there is never a fee associated with winning.
  • PCH doesn’t call ahead to say you’ve won; they notify winners of major prize awards in person via their Prize Patrol.

If you suspect something may be a scam or if you have been the victim of a scam, contact the Georgia Department of Law’s Consumer Protection Unit at or (404) 651-8600.

March 26--  Fourteen Vidalia women wrapped up three firearm safety classes Saturday with a live fire exercise at the Vidalia Police Department firing range.  The course includes both classroom and practical training by Vidalia Police Department firearm instructors and is an outreach effort to train women how to safely handle firearms.

guntrainingFront Row (L-R): Julie Morgan, Bonnie Scott, Patti Feimster, Natalie Osborne, Loretta Watson, Wanda Mobley, Teresa Scholfield, Angela Collins, Sherri McDonald, Kimberly Wildes, Sarah Moody, Deanna Ragan.  Not pictured, Laura Smith.

Back Row (L-R):  Captain James Jermon, Major Roger Calloway, Chief J. Frank Waits, Sergeant Daron Tuten, Kimberly Akins, Sergeant Joshua Keener, Lieutenant Aaron Rollins, Corporal Christopher Morgan


March 23-- State Representative Greg Morris of Vidalia led the Georgia House of Representatives in honoring the life and memory of Staff Sergeant Dustin Michael Wright, a United States Army Special Forces soldier who died in the line of duty, with House Resolution 1079.

morriswrightDustin's family was at the Capitol for the reading of the Resolution.

            “It was a great honor to recognize the great sacrifice, heroism and courage of Special Forces soldier Staff Sgt. Wright in the House Chamber,” said Rep. Morris. “Sgt. Wright was one of Georgia’s most noble, patriotic and selfless citizens. He was a compassionate and brave man, and he will be remembered for his devoted service to his country and sincere love for his family.”

            Staff Sgt. Wright attended Georgia Southern University and Fayetteville State University and was a partner of Southern Rain Control before taking ownership of the business.

            Staff Sgt. Wright joined the United States Army in 2012, and he graduated from Advanced Individual Training and completed Army Airborne School training, the Special Operations Preparation Course and the Special Forces Assessment and Selection course. Staff Sgt. Wright was a soldier of the United States Army Special Forces and was awarded the Green Beret in 2014.

            Staff Sgt. Wright died at the age of 29 on October 4, 2017, while serving his third deployment in Niger.


March 23--  Former Georgia Governor Zell Miller died today at the age of 86.  His vision led to the creation of the Georgia lottery to benefit education in the state.

Commissioner Amy Jacobs of the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning praised him for his commitment to education.

zell"The staff of the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning and I were deeply saddened today to learn of the passing of Governor Zell Miller.Governor Miller’s commitment to education as demonstrated by creating the lottery funded Georgia’s Pre-K Program is legend in our state and beyond.

In the early days of Georgia Pre-K, Governor and Mrs. Miller gave every student a copy of one of his favorite books, The Little Engine That Could. Today, Governor, you don't need to say, “I think I can, I think I can.” Instead you can proudly, boldly, and honestly say, “I did.” On behalf of the millions of children who have benefited from his vision, I thank Zell Miller for the immeasurable legacy of Georgia’s Pre-K Program," Commissioner Jacobs said.


March 23--   The 2018 Class of the Leadership Toombs-Montgomery program graduated Friday at noon at the Lyons Depot.  It's the 25th year of the program sponsored by the Toombs-Montgomery Chamber of Commerce to develop leadership skills of community members.  Garrett and Blythe Wilcox helped guide the annual program for the third year and thanked chamber executive Vice-President Debbie Evans for her longtime support and leadership of the effort.

ltm2018Front (L-R): Kelly Tippett, Blythe Wilcox, Valerie Noles, Leah Kight, Tina Lindsey, Mary Edmonds, Amanda Lawler, Miranda Johnson, Mindy Morrison, Heather Helms, Azat Nasretdinov.

Back (L-R): Garrett Wilcox, Marilynn Hopkins, Billy Shiver, John Sharpe, Melissa Hightower, Steven McComas, Richard Smith, Dr. Steven Echols

Not Pictured: Casey Hutcheson and Kristy Bennett

March 22--  A Savannah design firm has been selected to help Toombs County come up with options regarding the county courthouse and detention center.

At its March meeting Thursday, the Toombs County Commission named Hussey Gay Bell & Deyoung International headed by former State Senator Eric Johnson to take on the project.

County manager John Jones says the next step is to meet with the company and make some decisions on the scope of the plans, "What do we need to look like for the next  50 years?  The current courthouse was built in 1964.  We're out of space and we've got to see what our options are.  Do we need to add on to it or build somewhere else and that includes the jail, too. We have a 123-bed facility and we're running most days at near capacity.  We've got to do something to increase that capacity or find another way to house prisoners," he said.

newsomeThe commissioners honored a 40-year employee of Toombs County, Charles Newsome, for his service at the county landfill. (L-R) Commissioners Jeff McCormick, Wendell Dixon, Chairman David Sikes, Charles Newsome, Commissioners Alfred Cason and Darriel Nobles.

A third of the Sheriff's Department vehicle fleet is being replaced at a cost of $357,871.00.  Woody Folsom Automotive is providing six trucks, three cars and a van while Brannen Ford is supplying two used Crown Vics.

Southeastern Center Line of Vidalia won a contract for $102,838.75 for striping of just over 26.5 miles of county roads including five miles on Aimwell Road.

Progressive Landscaping got a contract for $44,815 to construct a park in Normantown.

Central Fence Company in Swainsboro was awarded $24,528 to build a fence around the new county public works building while Southern Davis of Vidalia got $7,570 to provide office furniture for the building.'

County EMA Director Lynn Moore informed commissioners the county has submitted claims to the federal government for $115,000 regarding work accomplished during Hurricane Irma.  He expects the county will be reimbursed about 85% of that amount, however, no one knows when the money will be received.

Citizens were reminded this Saturday is tire amnesty day at the Toombs County landfill.  Private citizens may turn in old car and truck tires at no charge on Saturday.



March 22-- U.S. Congressman Rick Allen (R-Ga.-12) released the following statement following the House of Representative’s vote on H.R. 1625, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, also known as the omnibus package to fund the remainder of Fiscal Year 2018.

"Today, Congress brought the 2018 omnibus bill to the House floor—a 2,200 plus page bill that was released at 8:30 p.m. last night. Spending $1.3 trillion in taxpayer dollars, saddling future generations with more debt and only giving us 16 hours to view this bill is not the way to run this country. Unfortunately, I could not, in good conscious, support this legislation.

The House did its work last year. We debated, amended, and passed all twelve government funding bills in the light of day. We put time and energy into the process to responsibly scrutinize every dollar being spent. We even passed increased defense spending in the House four times – and each time it was stalled in the Senate. The Senate took no action on these bills, made no attempt to take up their own funding bills and because of their inaction, today we find ourselves once again forced to take a vote on a bill that has not been properly vetted by the American people.

We kicked the can down the road with back-to-back-to-back Continuing Resolutions to allow time to work through the process, and yet this was the end result. Leadership in both houses in Congress must come together to find a long-term budgetary solution to our broken budget process and our crippling debt. I will continue to work with my colleagues to achieve this goal as soon as possible. American taxpayers deserve better.”

March 22-- Robert Toombs Christian Academy’s American Government and Economics Classes traveled to Atlanta to observe the General Assembly of Georgia. The students sat in the galleries of both the House and Senate to watch the legislative process in action.

They also met with Senator Blake Tillery and Representative Greg Morris, who answered questions about specific issues facing the state. Of particular interest to the students was the new legislation concerning driving with “hands free of devices.” Mrs. LaRee Findley, the History and Government teacher at R.T.C.A., accompanied the students on the trip.

rtcacapitolPictured left to right:

Front row: Senator Blake Tillery, LaRee Findley, Governor Deal, Representative Greg Morris

Second row: Hannah Coursey, Andi Brinson, Kate Sullivan, Ansley Scott, Catherine Thigpen, Tessa Gibase, Cassi Heath, Addison Wingate, KD Frost, Zoey Thomas, Ansley Spivey

Third row: Justin Dees, Evan Venable, Jacob McMillan, Sterling Damron, Kameron Reeves

Last row: Rose Bishop, Brandon Mainer, Wil Duvall, Torrey Patterson, Tye Lewis

March 21--  The Montgomery County Sheriff's Office reports it and the Wheeler County Sheriff's office helped the Oconee Drug Task Force apprehend an alleged Atlanta drug dealer.

ladirusLast Thursday officers arrested Ladarius Orlando Jackson and seized nearly eight ounces of methamphetamine with an estimated street value of $35,000.  He is charged with trafficking in meth.

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

Crapps, Cindy Ann W/F 47 YOA/450 North Thompson Pond Rd Vidalia, GA 30474/Warrant Served Appling County

Johnson, Taylor Cornelia B/F 25YOA/1208 Easter Dr Vidalia, Ga 30474/ Driving While License Suspended, Expired Tag, No Proof Of Insurance

Maxwell,Tyriq Dashone B/M 18 YOA/699 Geiger St Mt Vernon, GA 30445/Probation Warrant Served/ Montgomery County

Cash, Joseph Edward- W/M- 39 YOA- 187 Monroe St. Lyons, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense

White, Shontavia L. - B/F- 24 YOA- 171 Morris Dr. Lyons, GA- Terroristic Threats/Disorderly Conduct

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Donna Manuel, Lyons, possession of marijuana

Kamarah Woods, Lyons, warrant served

Destiny Clifton, Statesboro, criminal warrant

Debra Collins, Vidalia, DUI, possession of drug related objects, probation violation, no brake lights, driving in violation of conditions of limited permit

Jasmine Edge, Lyons, possession of drug related objects

Ashley Tant, Lyons, possession of methamphetamines, marijuana and controlled substances

William Douglas, Brunswick, possession of methamphetamines and controlled substances.

Cardell Saxon, Savannah, possession of a controlled substance

Fabian Holloway, Vidalia, DUI, failure to maintain lane

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Destiney Clifton, Lyons, hold for Chatham County

Kristie Daniels, Vidalia, driving while license suspended/revoked, seat belts

Eduardo Delgado, Vidalia, no insurance, driving with suspended registration

Viviana Fojordo, Lyons, mandatory education for minor child\

Necole Guy, Lyons, DUI, failure to maintain lane, operating vehicle without registration or valid license plate

Dewayne Johnson, Vidalia, cocaine, violation of Georgia RICO Act,

Stephen McCall, Vidalia, DUI, failure to maintain lane, open container passenger

Dennis Mills, Lyons, bad checks

Benny Murray, Soperton, probation violation

Mallory Partin, Uvalda, probation violation

Jimmie Sanders, Vidalia, battery, cruelty to children

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

03/14-Terry Golden, Savannah, Misdemeanor Probation Violation

03/15-Ladarius Orlando Jackson, Atlanta, Trafficking in Methamphetamine

03/17-Brandon Moxley, Vidalia, Douglas County Probation Warrant Served





March 21--  The Toombs County Grand Jury returned 34 indictments during its February term.

* Marc Robert Paul Bamberg was indicted for sexually molesting and sodomizing a girl under the age of 16 and a boy under age 10.

* Daryl Malcome Correll is accused of the armed robbery, aggravated assault and cruelty to an elderly person, Bobby Dean Driggers.

* Kemasine Arturo Crawford is charged with molesting a girl under the age of 16.

*Christy Lynn Barwick, Kevin Harpe and Ali Smith are charged with burglarizing the home of  Stephen Green in Vidalia.  Smith is also accused of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

*James Childs and Tammie Reese were indicted for attempted armed robbery and burglary of the home of Ira Aaron and Ethal Waters in Lyons.

*Mahalika Crawford is charged with forgery and theft by shoplifting at Walmart.

*Gene Fabian was indicted for assaulting Sheryl McKinney with a knife.

*Zachary Holmes is charged with receiving stolen property and possession of methamphetamine.

*Antoine Johnson is accused of cruelty to children, battery and aggravated assault.

*Caregiver Roxana Joiner was indicted for exploiting and intimidating Lluuanna Williams, an elderly person for whom she was caring.  She's accused of misusing the woman's money and stealing her prescription drugs.

*Alpherd Jones, Jr. is charged with the felony murder and aggravated battery of Lashanda January on May 4, 2017 at the Royal Inn in Vidalia.

*Damian Jones was indicted on two counts of executing fictitious checks.

*Kimberly Kearins is accused of cruelty to children in the first degree.

*Gregg Kent was indicted on five counts including the shooting death of Shadrick Neal last August in Lyons.

*Austin Lariscey faces burglary charges for a break-in at the home of Jackie McNeal in Lyons in January and is also charged with damaging property at the Toombs County Detention Center.

*Freddie Lee Lewis and Jasmine Quintero are accused of possessing marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of cocaine and Alprazolam.  Lewis is also charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and selling marijuana.

 *Charlie Kenneth Mack, Jr. was indicted for trafficking methamphetamine.

*Tracy Lee McDaniel is accused of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

*The trio of Logan McGraw, Anthony Mincey and Marcus Moultrie, Jr. are charged with entering the car of Carlos and Maurico Ibarra parked at Toombs County High School and stealing more than $5,000 in cash.

*Robert Mercer was indicted for possession of cocaine.

*Heather Patrick is charged with stealing a car from Carolyn Patrick.

*Jessica Nicole Phillips is accused of two counts of child molestation and one count of statutory rape of a boy under age 16.

*Nicholas Phillips is charged with burglary at a shed owned by Willie Cummins in Vidalia.

*Floyd Pierce, convicted of statutory rape in 2001, was indicted for failing to register as a sex offender.

*Galin Salem was indicted for stealing a rifle from Steven Partin of Lyons, for entering the auto of Landon Monroe of Lyons with intent to commit theft and for a break-in at the home of Sammy and Ruth Rockett in Lyons.  He and Maurik Anthony are also charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and for entering an automobile in Vidalia.

*Jack Weeks is charged with the aggravated stalking of Amanda Weeks of Vidalia.

*Kristy Yarbrough was indicted for cruelty to children.









March 20--  The owners of Hawk's Point Golf Course in Vidalia say it will take an annual income of $1.2 million dollars to reopen the golf course.

An exploratory meeting to gauge interest in bringing golf back to Vidalia was held at the course Tuesday night and was led by Toombs-Montgomery Chamber of Commerce president Brian Bishop assisted by Sweet Onion Classic chairman Tim Truxel.

Bishop said owner Andy Page is willing to reopen if he can get a commitment from enough people to pay what he says are the annual operating and maintenance costs of the course.  Page closed the course last September when a membership drive was unable to attract 200 members.

Attendees were asked to email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if they were interested in joining.  The amount of the annual dues will depend on how many people sign up.

March 20--  A head-on collision at noon today injured two people including a Toombs County Deputy Sheriff.

According to Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight, the accident happened on Old River Road near McNatt Falls in south Toombs County.

skipperwreckThe sheriff reports a truck driven by Jason Marlow Beasley appeared to cross the center line and hit the truck driven Deputy William R. (Skipper) Smith.

Both were taken to Meadows Regional Medical Center in Vidalia and are reported in stable condition.

March 20--  The just past St. Patrick's Day weekend was not so lucky for a lot of motorists traveling on Interstate 16 in Treutlen County.

Sheriff Tommy Corbin reports his deputies and Georgia State Patrol officers issued 256 citations during the holiday weekend.

Included were 17 for possession of marijuana and one for possession of cocaine.  Additionally, there were two DUI arrests and four for driving with suspended licenses.  The remainder were for speeding and other traffic violations.

March 19--  A Treutlen County commissioner has been notified to appear at a probable cause hearing regarding a criminal warrant.

Ronald Strickland of Soperton has requested that a warrant be issued for District Two Commissioner Homer Rivers alleging he committed misdemeanor offenses of doing business with the county.

Strickland's request included a listing of seventeen county checks to Rivers Heating and Air for jobs at the Treutlen County Sheriff's Office starting in June, 2016 through February, 2018.  The total amount of all the checks is $6,584.00.

County Sheriff Tommy Corbin says he was doing business with Rivers before he became a county commissioner and that his work saved the county money for heating and cooling system repairs at the county jail.

Rivers was appointed to the Truetlen County Commission to fill the unexpired term of Commissioner Forrest Edge at a meeting of the Commission on August 12, 2016.

At the meeting, his work for the sheriff's office was noted by the board and it was not considered an issue, according to a recording of the session.

Rivers is running for re-election in the May 22 primary and is facing opposition from Quinn Mullis.

His work for the county was brought up at the March meeting of the Commission by Chairman Lance Hooks.  The state law which established the Truetlen County Commission in 1935 prohibits commissioners from business interests or contracts with the county.

Rivers told the recent meeting that his company will no longer do business with the Sheriff's Office.

Johnson County Magistrate Judge Mary Jo Buxton will decide if Strickland's request for a warrant will be approved at a hearing Wednesday, April 4 at ten a.m. at the Treutlen County Courthouse Annex.

Meanwhile, a Georgia Department of Revenue examiner is expected to be in Soperton Monday to review operations of the county Tax Assessor's Office.  The peer review was requested over the objections of Chairman Hooks at a called meeting in February. 

Commissioners Rivers, Maynard Edenfield and Cashaunda Smith voted for the state review with Commissioner Cali Hollis and the chairman voting against it.  Hooks said the board should have discussed its concerns with the Tax Assessor's office prior to the vote and that it could prove expensive for the county depending on the outcome of the review.

March 19--  The front lawn of Brewton-Parker's campus was filled with brightly colored eggs and happy children as the college held its annual Community Eggstravaganza.

bpceggsHosted by the Office of Alumni and Special Events, the event featured egg hunts, cookie decorating, and photos with the Easter Bunny.

All children had the option of taking home a goodie bag alongside the other prizes they collected.

March 19--  Nine Vidalia school system teachers have been awarded Bright Light grants totaling $2,287 from the Vidalia Educational Foundation.

The grants are based on requests from teachers seeking money to buy classroom instructional materials.

At J.D. Dickerson Primary School, $300 grants were awarded to Sonja Allmond and Brenda McLain and an $89 grant was given to Belinda Warnock.

Ashley Driggers at Sally D. Meadows Elementary was awarded $199 for learning center materials.

Two teachers at J.R. Trippe Middle School, Lynne Bowen and Sabrina Thompson, were awarded $300 each for their classrooms.

At Vidalia High School, $300 grants were made to Terry Bennett and Beverly Rivers and Kristen Champion received $199.

The Vidalia Educational Foundation is a non-profit founded by former Vidalia School Superintendent Tom Hutcheson to support classroom initiatives by individual teachers.

School officials say the Foundation has fallen on hard times and this will probably be the last year grants are made due to a lack of money in its coffers.

March 19--  The Vidalia Charter Chapter of the American Business Women's Association held its annual awards program and honored its "Businesswoman of the Year" and its "Business Associate of the Year."

This year's "Businesswoman of the Year" is Keri Nester who works in the business office of Meadows Regional Medical Center of Vidalia.  The "Business Associate of the Year" is Suzi Braddy from the People's Bank of Lyons and Vidalia. 

Keri has been a member of the chapter for the past five years and is in her second year heading its Vidalia Onion Festival Scholarship Pageant.  Suzi works backstage each year at the pageant and says she can't say no when it comes to helping out with anything to do with education and children.

abwa18(L-R) Awards program keynote speaker Amanda Lawler from the Toombs-Montgomery Chamber of Commerce, Keri Nester, Suzi Braddy and chapter President Ashley Fox.

By: Sen. Blake Tillery (R – Vidalia)

March 17-- With the tenth week and 35 legislative days behind us, the light at the end of the tunnel is nearing. We have just two weeks until we adjourn Sine Die, leaving very little time to vet, amend and vote on the House Bills that have been sent to us. We passed 22 House bills and resolutions this week, and I expect these next two weeks to be the busiest yet with the 40-day legislative marathon coming to an end.

 One of the bills that I was happiest to see pass the Senate this week was House Bill 831, which I mentioned last week would help create work opportunities for those with disabilities. It is because of the hard work and relentless determination of people from around the state, and one from our own backyard, that this legislation was able to make it to this point. I look forward to this bill receiving the Governor’s signature and becoming law soon.

 We also passed House Bill 769 out of the Senate this week. This bill encompasses several recommendations that were made by the House Rural Development Council over the interim, and I believe it will start to address the problems we are seeing in many rural hospitals across the state. This bill will create the Rural Health System Innovation Center which will be tasked with researching and finding ways to address data collection, workforce needs and ways to finance and deliver health care in rural Georgia. Specifically, this bill would allow an exemption to be made regarding the certificate of need in certain cases, create a grant program to incentivize physicians to practice in rural areas, allow a tax credit on donations to rural hospitals and expand who can place a remote order pharmacy entry.

 One of the biggest problems that we see is not just with access to care, but the availability and number of healthcare professionals. This bill will help incentivize doctors to open practices in rural Georgia by providing them with a grant determined by the average insurance premium rates in their communities. Often times, doctors choose to practice in more urban settings because they would not be as overworked as much as doctors in rural areas of the state. This grant program would give an incentive to doctors to move to these underserved areas, increasing the number of doctors and decreasing wait times at their offices.

Another change this bill makes is increasing the rural hospital donation tax credit from 90 percent of the amount donated to 100 percent. We hope this will encourage more people to give to rural hospitals and in turn, help some of our struggling institutions stay afloat.

The final big point this legislation makes is to remove some of the current restrictions on pharmacists when remotely ordering entries to be filled. As pharmacists in rural Georgia, along with many other medical professionals, are few and far between, the ability to remotely order prescriptions for filling is a necessity for reducing the time it takes to get the order filled. This will enable pharmacists to work in different parts of the hospital and community.

All of these measures are just some ways this bill will help rural Georgians receive the care they need and deserve. I look forward to seeing what other red tape we can work on cutting to help rural Georgia thrive. As always, it is a pleasure to serve you. Let me know if there is anything I can do for you.

By Lyons City Councilman Larry Griggers

March 16-- To help me prepare for meaningful service on both the Public Safety Committee and the Policy Committee, I asked Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker if I could ride along with one of his police officers while they were on patrol. I reasoned that I would be in a better position to properly review budget requests, policy changes and react to community concerns about police protection if I could see first hand some of what was involved in “serving and protecting” our citizens.

griggerspdSo one Saturday afternoon at 5 p.m., I arrived at the Lyons Police Department thinking I was fully prepared for my Saturday Night Ride With Lyons’ Finest.

“Standard policy is that anyone riding with an officer should wear a vest,” Officer Tim Sullivan told me right off the bat.

“By all means!” I replied nervously. I was unfamiliar with the proper way to don a bullet proof vest, so Officer Sullivan helped fit me in the protective device. That was the first reminder I had that our city police officers put their lives on the line every day for the citizens of Lyons.

Chief Walker told me that I would be riding along with Sgt. Matt Lynn on his night shift and I was anxious to make his acquaintance.

I had seen some pretty bad images of police brutality when I was growing up in the 1960’s. Every TV channel, it would seem, showed minorities being set upon by dogs, having fire hoses turned on them or being battered by Billy Clubs for trying to assert their equal rights. There were way too many communities where the police intimidated minorities and were often complicit in keeping the white race firmly in a position of superiority.

Fellow Councilman Ben Mitchell graduated from high school the same year I did … 1966; however, I attended “Lyons High School” and as an African American youth, he was required by law to attend “Lyons Industrial High School”, even the name of which proves it did not meet the “separate but equal” test of the Supreme Court at the time. Finally a new court heard the case of Brown vs. the Board of Education and wisely ruled in 1954 that segregation of the public schools was a violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

I asked Ben, who serves with me on the Public Safety Committee, if he thought our police department was doing a good job of giving equal treatment to everyone. Ben assured me that they were doing a good job and the folks is his Ward were very satisfied with how they were being treated by the police.

Hearing that, I was confident that our police, none of whom were even born during that long ago era were treating our citizens fairly and equally as they conducted their business and exercised their authority.

While I fully expected Sgt. Lynn to have a more modern attitude toward race relations, I was bowled over as to how much this fine officer respects the citizens he serves and how much he loves this city. Sgt. Lynn is also fully engaged with the community and has skin in the game, so to speak, in that he has children in the public schools.

When off duty, Sgt. Lynn is often hired to provide security at school events. My respect for him grew even more when I learned that he donates what he is paid for such services back to the school to support the athletic program.

Sgt. Lynn and I made our introductions, loaded up in the police cruiser, and began the rounds. I told him a bit about myself and asked about his background.

I learned that Sgt. Lynn is originally from Statesboro and has been on the Lyons police force for about three years. He has many areas of concern, but his passion is getting impaired drivers off the road. He has honed himself for that task and has an uncanny knack for spotting people driving under the influence.

As we drove through the neighborhoods, Sgt. Lynn was constantly watching everything while I was asking him questions as fast as I could. I would be just chatting away when all of a sudden I would be pressed backwards in my seat as the took off in one direction or another.

“What’s up?” I would ask, bewildered.

“That car didn’t come to a full stop back there,” he would tell me. As he closed on the vehicle, you could tell the driver had spotted him. They were driving carefully from that point forward, observing the speed limit and stopping completely at each stop. The Sergeant followed him for a bit and then turned off. He had made his point, and stopping the person to give them a ticket was unnecessary. I’m sure the driver let out a “Whew!” and behaved from that point forward.

“You don’t always have to write them a ticket to get their attention,” Sgt. Lynn confirmed. “I’m trying to maintain a good police presence where they think twice before driving in a reckless manner.”

It was clear that nudging the citizens toward safe and lawful driving was his goal, a refreshing notion given the proclivity of some communities to view issuing tickets as a good source of revenue.

That gave me my intro to talk about speed traps, especially the notorious one up north of Lyons, that has caught the attention of several news agencies.

“I appreciate that Chief Walker doesn’t set a quota for writing tickets,” Sgt. Lynn told me. “He trusts our judgement.” But before any person thinks this officer is a soft touch, be warned…

“I have a low tolerance for people driving while impaired,” he said emphatically.

And I believed him.

Of course, I had to be alert that I was not getting a true picture of Lyons’ policing policies, and that Sgt. Lynn might be on his best behavior for this new councilman riding with him, but there was something about his demeanor that told me he wasn’t just putting on a show. The people in the neighborhoods we went into waved at us as if they were happy to see us there. When he would stop to chat with people sitting in their yards or walking down the street, they would come up to the window and greet him enthusiastically by name. He would engage them in a courteous and respectful manner no matter how they were dressed or in what part of town we were. He genuinely liked being a public servant and I was beginning to see what the people we met liked about him.

So, in my mind I put a big check in the block “Treats people equally and with respect”.

The Sergeant told me that just like any city today, Lyons has its share of drug activity. He took me to neighborhoods where drug arrests were common and told me about some of his encounters with people on drugs. He seemed to me to feel compassion for those caught up in the web of opiates, like he wanted sincerely to help them get out of that way of life.

On one occasion he told me about, he arresting a large man whose blood tests taken after his arrest revealed that he was under the influence of PCP, a very bad illegal drug that can give people taking it almost superhuman powers and make them impervious to pain. During the arrest a fight ensued. The drug-enhanced strong man was almost impossible to restrain and almost broke his Sgt. Lynn’s arm in the struggle, but with his determination and his training, he was able to finally restrain him and calm him down. He then took him to the hospital to get a blood sample. After getting the sample, he took the man to jail and locked him up to sleep it off.

The next day, after the man had sobered up and been released, he came to the station seeking Sgt. Lynn. As the Sergeant cautiously approached him in the lobby, he discovered that the man had come back to apologize for his behavior the night before. Seeing an opportunity to put his faith to work, Sgt. Lynn and the man went into a room and prayed together. Afterwards, the man started coming to the Sergeant’s church. Hearing that story brought a tear to my eye.

No sooner than he finished this story than he got a phone call on his cell. He was encouraging the caller not to worry about something and that he would see him Sunday. As he hung up, he called the man by the same name as the man he described arresting earlier.

“Was that the man you were telling me about?” I inquired.

“Yep, he’s going through some issues, but I’ve got him back in church and he’s getting his life in order,” he answered. This showed me that Sgt. Lynn cared more than just about his job … he cared about people.

I continued to ask Sgt. Lynn about his suggestions to make his job better. He gave me a plethora of ideas, but one that stuck out as an easy fix was his wish that homeowners would put their house numbers somewhere on their property where they would be plainly visible to emergency personnel. That is common sense. If the police, fire, and ambulance drivers can’t find you right away, the delay could be fatal.

“When we get an emergency call and don’t know the house, we sometimes waste precious time trying to find the right place,” he told me.

That made me feel guilty. I remembered that the house number I put up at my home had been blown away by high winds some time back and I had neglected replacing it. I made a mental note to get another. I didn’t want the police, fire or ambulance drivers not to be able to find MY house in an emergency!

After riding around for about an hour, we stopped at a local restaurant to eat. Officer Ken Patel, one of our newest officers, joined us.

Officer Patel had a couple of more weeks remaining in his status as a “trainee”, and has a youthful enthusiasm about becoming a full-fledged member of the police force. According to the Chief, he is coming along fine and it was easy for me to tell that he is loving this job. Even though he was not born here, I could see that he shares my love of Lyons, Georgia. That made me instantly like him, because anybody who loves Lyons, Georgia like I do is my friend!

At 8:30 PM, Sgt. Lynn heard on the radio that a sheriff’s deputy was trying to find a truck load of teenagers that had been reported by a citizen out in the county. It was reportedly diving erratically with teens in the bed of the truck playing loud music and throwing objects at passing cars. As the car was believed to be headed toward Lyons, Sgt. Lynn quickly headed to the intersection of Hwys #1 and #280 hoping they might come through there.

His hunch was right, and when he arrived, the sheriff’s deputies had the teens pulled over in front of the old Chinese restaurant. After it was determined that they were just being mischievous and were not impaired, they were given a good taking to by the deputies and their parents were called. Then they let them go face the wrath of those parents. I didn’t envy their positions!

My mind went back to the days of my youth when I had a tendency to want to cut up and see just how fast my brand new 1964 Ford Galaxy 500, with 380 cc’s of pure power and a 4-barreled carburetor, would go. I remember having a police officer answer that question PRECISELY after he clocked me on his radar. That slowed me down for the rest of my life! Hopefully, the kids stopped in Lyons were also scared into good behavior going forward.

Seven minutes later Sgt. Lynn stopped a car with a tail light out. He gave the driver a warning to have it repaired. Each one of these stops had the potential to change behavior and make us all safer.

Thirteen minutes passed and Sgt. Lynn sped over to NE Broad where Officer Patel had made a stop. The guys routinely back up each other when a stop is made for obvious safety reasons. That resonated with me as justification for having three cars out at night instead of two. When a stop is made, it is a good policy to have another car backing them up, and if it requires a sobriety test, it can take 15 minutes or more. That’s when you need that third car still patrolling.

Sgt. Lynn had given several warning up to this point. Just when I was wondering what constituted a “write ’em a ticket” offense, he gave chase to a lady who went through the red light where North Broad intersects with Hwy #1 as if it were not there. He pulled her over in front of City Hall. It became immediately clear to me that this driver wasn’t going to get off with just a warning. Remember me mentioning that Sgt. Lynn is very strict on impaired drivers? Believe me, he is serious about getting these folks off the road.

As he approached the driver, Sgt. Lynn afterwards told me he the smell coming from the car was consistent with marijuana. He then ask the driver to step out and conducted what I would call a sobriety test. Checking to see if someone is under the influence of drugs seems to me to be a lot harder now that alcohol is not the prevailing drug of choice.

Sgt. Lynn is the only Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) on the force, a designation earned only after extensive and expensive training, and thus he gets summoned, whether off duty or not, any time a person is suspected of DUI. He eagerly comes every time they call (did I mention before that he has a passion for getting impaired drivers off the road?), and doesn’t seem to mind. Nor does charge the city for the off duty calls.

I asked him if it bothered him to get these calls during his sleep cycle and he quickly answered “no”. That made an impression on me. I made a mental note to look into the pay policies to see if officers with unique skills were being appropriately compensated for using those skills on behalf of the city.

Sgt. Lynn determined that the diver did indeed appear to be impaired and I transferred to Sgt. Kevin Mathis’ vehicle where Sgt. Lynn could transport the young lady to Meadows Regional Hospital for a blood test to confirm his suspicions.

Riding with Sgt. Mathis confirmed that the great community policing attitude is permeated throughout the Department. He also engages everyone he sees with a friendly and compassionate manner and everyone that greets him does so earnestly and sincerely. You can tell that he, too, cares about the community deeply and loves his job.

I give Chief Wesley Walker kudos for the morale among his officers. They seem to really appreciate his management style. He sets goals and gives them his expectations and then gives them the authority to do what needs to be done. I sensed that they felt respected and appreciated by their boss. It was my observation that they felt pride in what they are doing for the citizens in keeping them safe.

Sometime after 11 PM the three officers meet at Parker’s to give a strong police presence as the store clerk left for the day. I learned they try to be present at each business that closes late to ensure the employees leave safely. It was very poignant to me that such procedures are necessary, but very comforting that our police department considers this a vital service to the local businesses.

Things get real busy as midnight approached. A young teen was stopped for speeding and Sgt. Lynn made him call his mom on his cellphone and hand the phone to him where he could let the parent know what was going on. Then he let him go.

“He’s in trouble with his mom right now,” Sgt. Lynn said as he got back in the car. Again, it is clear that Sgt. Lynn knows what is necessary to change behavior.

This resonated with me. When I was the Director of the Property Tax Division for the Georgia Department of Revenue, I had the authority to fine counties whose property tax digest got out of wack and ceased to be uniform. I remember well when the Toombs County Digest didn’t pass our test and I had the authority to impose a $75,000 fine. That was a lot of money to county government in the 1990’s.

James Thompson was the Chairman of the County Commissioners that year and came to Atlanta with the Tax Commissioner and Chief Appraiser to appeal for leniency. I waived the fine in return for a firm commitment that they would address the problem before the next review cycle.

Why did I wave it? Unless I was dealing with a county with a history of repeated neglect of their duties under the law, I always tried to waive such penalties. I’m a firm believer that whenever possible fines and penalties should be designed to MODIFY BEHAVIOR, not to punish people. If you can modify the behavior without hurting them financially, that’s a win-win in my book. Any government entity that thinks of fines and penalties as a SOURCE OF REVENUE needs an election to change their attitude.

Enough of my rambling, back to our midnight ride …

At another stop of an erratic driver, I was struck with the respect Sgt. Lynn showed him, even after he admitted he had been drinking and smoking marijuana. This time I rode with Sgt. Lynn to the hospital for the blood test. I wanted to observe the procedure.

Sgt. Lynn continued to engage the man while his blood was being drawn. To my untrained eye, the man was what I would describe as impaired but functioning. He was not staggering nor slurring his words, but he wasn’t someone I would want to see him behind the wheel of a car either.

After the blood had been drawn, the case documented and Sgt. Lynn felt assured that he had a ride home (a family member had picked up his car earlier), we left him there at the hospital. As we parted, I was impressed at how the man walked over to Sgt. Lynn, shook his hand and thanked him.

I considered the gravity of what I had just witnessed. A man had been stopped, arrested, charged, had blood taken, and released. He was facing a court appearance, possibly a large fine and potentially increased insurance premiums and yet he told the arresting officer “thank you” and shook his hand. It was proof positive that community minded policing is what people want and appreciate.

The hour rolled around that the various night clubs in the county began to close and Sgt. Lynn and the other two officers stationed themselves at a location where folks were likely to pass on their way home from a night of revelry and drinking. I won’t reveal where it was, but it wouldn’t help if I did anyway.

“We know all the routes they follow to avoid us,” Sgt. Lynn said and I chuckled. People sometimes forget that the police are not stupid. They are well trained, have good instincts and know what most folks are up to. And I would highly recommend to anyone thinking about drinking and driving, that it’s best not to test their determination to keep impaired drivers off the road.

As his shift approached its end at 5:00 AM, Sgt. Lynn headed toward the police station to file his reports. I removed the bullet proof vest and profusely thanked him for allowing me to ride along with him that night and for sharing so much of his feeling about police work.

I came away from the experience with a renewed appreciation … no, it’s more than that … a pride in the force we have working 24/7 to protect the citizens of Lyons. As I had expected, the members of our police force today are a far cry from bad cops we sometimes hear about in the national news, and their attitudes in no way resemble the racist attitudes I remember from the 1960’s. No, our officers treat everyone with great respect and professional restraint.

If you are law abiding, they offer a friendly wave as they pass you by. If you break the law, they are probably going to be watching and when they do catch you, they will be firm but fair.

It was a great honor riding with Sgt. Matt Lynn and Sgt. Kevin Mathis and getting to meet Officer Patel. The experience has made me eager to meet each of our officers in the police department and I can comfortably say that EVERY officer on our force that I have met to date has impressed me with their courtesy, commitment and love of what they do.

Thanks, Chief Walker, you and your officers are a credit to the city and I’m proud of all of you!

March 16--  A Lyons man was killed in an auto accident in Jeff Davis County Thursday morning.

According to the Georgia State Patrol, 42-year-old Dwayne Wesley Hall died after a head-on two-car collision on the Comer Yawn Road, a county maintained road northeast of Hazlehurst.

The Jeff Davis County Sheriff's Office says two helicopters were called in to air evac Hall and the occupant of the other vehicle to a Savannah hospital, however, Hall died enroute.

March 15--  The 2018 Lyons Citizen of the Year is a former Toombs County Deputy Sheriff and current employee of Dot Foods in Vidalia.

ramonpowellRamon Powell was introduced at the annual banquet Thursday night by last year's Citizen of the Year, George Powell (left), who recounted Ramon's service to the community through the Quint Shrine Club, "There have been approximately 142 children and their families in this area who have been assisted by this person and his fellow Shriners. He has served humbly and selflessly and we know tonight he will continue to do so because that's what drives him, that's his passion."

"In looking at past recipients, there's my former boss, Sheriff Durst, who was like a grandfather to me, and it's an honor to be up there with him and the rest of the recipients, Ramon said.

"The Shriner's Hospital is my heart, they are very dear to me and I believe wholeheartedly in what they do.  Unless you have been exposed to that, you really don't understand what they do and the magnitude of what they offer.  It's truly amazing what they can do for kids today and it's an honor to be part of that organization.

"It's an honor to be part of Lyons.  I came to work for the Sheriff's Office here in 1990 and the citizens welcomed me and I'm proud to be part of it," he said.


March 15--  The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is being asked to investigate the alleged beating of a 16-year-old boy by Wheeler County Sheriff Randy Rigdon and two of his deputies.

According to a statement released by the sheriff, Monday night about ten p.m. the sheriff asked the boy what he was doing in a Glenwood neighborhood where several cars were broken into over the weekend.  He said Cameron Brockington smelled of alcohol and marijuana and ran.  The sheriff said the boy fought when he was apprehended and was treated by EMS at the scene and required no medical attention.

The boy's mother told a different story to WMAZ-TV in Macon.  She said her son got stitches, staples and suffered an eye injury.  Yolanda Brockington said her son was walking home from a friend's house and was not resisting nor fighting back.

He faces four counts of obstructing an officer and possession of drugs.

District Attorney Tim Vaughn has requested a GBI investigation.


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

Hernandez, Irasema H/F 28 YOA/759 Snipesville Rd Denton, Ga 31532/Driving Without License And Expired Tag

Smart, Michael Bradley W/M 35 YOA/ 5045 Buck Trl Blackshear, Ga 31516/ Theft By Shoplifting 2nd offense, Warrant Served, Willfully Obstruction Of Police Officer Simple/Verbal

Wright, Nathaniel Derick-B/M 29 YOA/ 715 Georgia St. Vidalia, Ga. 30474/ Criminal Trespass (Misd)/ Simple Battery(FVA)(Misd)/ Possession Of Marijuana Less Than Ounce (Misd)/ Warrant Served

Johnson,Pamela Faye – W/F 35 YOA/479 Almond Rd Twin City Ga. / Bench Warrant

Gaffney, Antonio- B/M- 36 YOA- 801 Thompson St Ext Vidalia, GA- Criminal Damage to Property- 2nd Degree/Willfully Obstruction of Police Officer Simple/Verbal/Criminal Trespass

Loredo, Kevin Bryan- W/M- 29 YOA- 402 Smith Street Vidalia, GA- Battery/Cruelty to Children/Criminal Trespass (FVA)

Green, Amanda Elizabeth- W/F- 30 YOA- 347 GA HWY 292 Vidalia, GA- Possession of a Controlled Substance/Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense

Johnson, Tyler Cornelius Samuel - B/M- 21 YOA- 706 Church St. Apt. A Vidalia, GA- Failure to Obey Traffic Control Device/Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (First)

Mincey, Malik Wanya- B/M- 21 YOA- 1505 Outlaw Ave Soperton, GA- Warrant Served (Toombs County Probation)

Reeves, Heather Cothern 41 YOA W/F 120 Surrency Ln Nicholls, Ga 31554 Driving While License Suspended Or Revoked (First) And Expired Tag

Bobbitt, Eryc Lashone 26 YOA B/M 349 Skyline Blvd Lot 8 Lyons, Ga/ Warrant Service (Toombs County)

Bouie, Jermaine Joaquime 27 YOA B/M 711 Stuart St Vidalia, Ga./ VGCSA

Mosley, Drashawn 25 YOA B/M 407 Wynn Dr Vidalia, Ga/ DUI, Open Container, Possession Of Firearm Convicted Felon

Gicas, Cynthia Kay W/F 60 YOA 410 Randolph Dr. Apt 6F Vidalia, Ga 30474 Shoplifting (Felony)

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Katina Cagle, Lyons, failure to appear

Austin Carter, Lyons, Contempt of Court

Johathan Castro, Hazlehurst, speeding, driving unlicensed

Deidre McCarty, Meter, probation violation

Nikki McRae, McRae, Hold for Jeff Davis County

Tabitha Newsome, Vidalia, disorderly conduct

John Smith, Lyons, probation violation

Rory Wilson, Jacksonville, terroristic threats/intimidation acts

Joshua Conner, Vidalia, failure to maintain lane, driving w/suspended-revoked license, vehicle registration suspended/cancelled/revoked

Michael Denmark, Jr., Reidsville, no insurance

Austin Holcombe, Lyons, criminal trespass, criminal damage to property

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

03/08-Barbara Jean West, Twin City, Felony Probation Violation

03/10-Austin Ashley Brown, Swainsboro, Reckless Driving, Failure to Maintain Lane, Too Fast for Conditions, Stalking

03/10-Bryon Terrel Shinholster, Uvalda, Public Intoxication



March 14--  A 24-year-old Toombs County man died Tuesday night in a traffic accident.

According to Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight, Tyler Matthew Graham of 413 Sam Beasley Road in Lyons was killed in a one car accident on Old River Road at McNatt Falls Road.

The Georgia State Patrol and the Sheriff's Office are investigating the accident.

March 14--  The Montgomery County Commission is considering adding a Code of Conduct for county commissioners to the county code.

According to the local press, the Commission's meetings have been contentious of late and Commissioner Chad Kenny is proposing a Code of Conduct which would impose fines on those who violate the code.

At the March meeting of the Board of Commissioners, he said, "My intent here is to try to get us in a direction that we can proceed as a county.  The way our meetings are being carried out are not living up to the way our citizens should expect from us.  We need to have some decorum and what I'm proposing is only basic decorum.  I think the citizens of Montgomery County deserve that.  If we want this county to grow, we've got to get our act together, plain and simple.  Our tax revenues are basically flat, sales taxes are down, everything's down.  If we can't come together as a county and be able to hold a commissioners' meeting with some civility, then I don't know where we're going to go to be honest with you."

The amendment would fine repeat violators from $100 to $500.  The commission tabled the proposal due to the absence of Commissioner Tim Williamson and is expected to reconsider it at a future meeting.

The commission was informed about a freedom of information request from Doug and Gail Story of Mount Vernon.  The couple asked for any county documents regarding a report that Fulton County was trying to buy the Montgomery County charter.  The Storys said Commissioner Greg Palmer approached them at church and said as a county commissioner he needed to inform the public.

Palmer claimed at the meeting there have been "underyling conversations" regarding the merger of Montgomery and Toombs counties and that "the groundwork has been laid.'

County manager Brandon Braddy informed the Storys that the county has no records concerning the matter and county attorney Paul Cook told the meeting that Georgia counties do not have charters; therefore, they cannot be sold.

The commissioners were also briefed by Kendall Gross, the county attorney for Candler County, on a multi-jurisdictional lawsuit regarding the proliferation of opiod prescriptions.  Gross said Candler County is joining the suit which is being compiled by an Athens law firm.  The commission took no action, but may consider it at a later meeting, according to Braddy.

March 13--  It's been seven months since Hurricane Irma damaged six streets in Vidalia and at least one citizen wants to know why it's taking so long to get them repaired.

Former Vidalia City Councilman Kay Stafford addressed the council's March meeting Monday night and suggested the city spend its own money to fix the streets.  He said waiting on the Federal Emergency Management Agency for funding could take forever.

City manager Nick Overstreet reports the city has already awarded a contract for $421,000 to McLendon Enterprises of Vidalia to do the work once the federal dollars are released.  The city has already received $140,000 from the Georgia Department of Transportation to partially fund the project.  On the radio program "Vidalia Today," he apologized to city residents for the inconvenience, but said, "If we are patient and do not disturb what has been messed up, FEMA will come in and give us money to fix those things and fix them the right way.  If we were to go ahead and disturb those areas, they want give us anything."

Stafford also called for a citizens' oversight board for the Vidalia Regional Airport, suggested term limits for city office holders, wanted to know the city's plan for use of the Ezra Taylor Road sports complex, and questioned the location of the new city swimming pool and the number of vehicles the city furnishes elected officials and employees. 

According to Overstreet, the city furnishes vehicles to eleven individuals in leadership positions including the mayor, city manager, city clerk, fire chief and assistant fire chief, recreation director and assistant recreation director, police chief and assistant chief and two police captains.

Meanwhile, the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police granted re-certification to the Vidalia Police Department and noted it is one of only 126 in the state to be certified. 

vpdmayorDwayne Orrick, Assistant Executive Director of the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, right, presents the re-certification to Vidalia Mayor Ronnie Dixon, center, and Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits.

vpdlawandaChief Frank Waits thanked clerk Lawanda Beasley for her certification efforts and Assistant Chief Roger Callaway for his assistance in the effort.

In other news from the council meeting:

*Tourism Director Alexa Britton reported "The Atlanta Rhythm Section" will perform at this year's July 4th celebration and that the city has hired a manager for the renovated Pal Theater, Michael Harden of Lyons.

* Development Authority Director Michelle Johnson said another food processing firm has expressed interest in the vacant spec building in the industrial park north of Lyons.

*The city is seeking bids from engineering firms to provide support at the airport.  It also noted recent work installing a heliport at the airport did not include sufficient minority representation as required by the contract.

"The council agreed to transfer $200,000 from the general fund to the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax fund to pay for projects.  The money will be returned to the general fund upon receipt of sales tax distribution from the Georgia Department of  Revenue.

*The council allocated $62,891.11 to replace the city's outdated computer server system.

*A resolution was passed affirming the city's support of a Macon-Bibb County bond issue that will generate funds to renovate public housing around the state including $4.3 million for the Grove Apartments in Vidalia.

The city manager urged citizens to take advantage of the city's new web page at



March 13-- U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced today the U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing $276 million in rural electric infrastructure to improve system efficiency and reliability.

In Georgia, Excelsior Electric Membership Corp. will receive Rural Development funds to build 69 miles of line, improve 120 miles and make system improvements. The loan amount includes $25,000 for smart grid projects.

Excelsior serves 20,741 residential, nearly 1,370 commercial and 311 irrigation consumers across 3,200 miles in Bryan, Bulloch, Candler, Effingham, Emanuel, Evans, Jenkins and Tattnall counties. Five of these eight counties are designated as poverty counties.

   “Investing in our nation’s electric infrastructure is fundamental for rural economic growth,” Secretary Perdue said. “USDA’s longstanding partnerships with rural electric cooperatives help ensure that rural areas have affordable, reliable electric service. These investments also increase efficiency and productivity for businesses and residents, and support the quality of life in rural America.”

   USDA’s $276 million investment will build nearly 1,000 miles of line and improve 733 miles of line to meet current and future needs of rural businesses and residents. It will also support $65 million in smart grid technologies to help rural electric utilities reduce outages and integrate new systems.

   Smart grid includes technological enhancements such as metering, substation automation, computer applications, two-way communications and geospatial information systems.


March 12--  A routine traffic stop Friday night in Vidalia resulted in an arrest for drug and gun violations.

jermainebouieVidalia police report they stopped 27-year-old Jermaine Bouie of 711 Stuart Street in Vidalia for a headlight violation and smelled the odor of marijuana inside the vehicle.

vpdgunseizedPolice searched the 2010 Nissan Rogue and found powder cocaine, crack cocaine, ecstasy, methamphetamine and marijuana plus $1,720 in cash and an AR-15 pistol.

Bouie is being charged with possession and intent to distribute drugs and possession of a firearm during the commission of certain crimes.

According to police, more arrests are expected.

March 12--  This year's Toombs-Montgomery Leadership class visited the state capitol and made stops in the House and Senate galleries, attended an informational lunch session with Senator Blake Tillery and State Representative Greg Morris of Vidalia and visited with Governor Nathan Deal.

ltmcapitolFront Row (L-R): Representative Morris, Kelly Tippett, Mary Edmonds, Cindy Williams (Session Chair), Azat Nasretdinov, Melissa Hightower, Miranda Johnson, Marilynn Hopkins, Mindy Morrison, Governor Deal, Blythe Wilcox (Program Co-chair), Heather Helms, Amanda Lawler, Valerie Noles, Casey Hutcheson, Tina Lindsey, Leah Kight, Senator Tillery

Back Row (L-R): Jay Cravey (Bus Driver), Billy Shiver, Garrett Wilcox (Program Co-chair), Kristy Bennett, John Sharpe, Steven McComas, Richard Smith, Steven Echols


By: Sen. Blake Tillery (R – Vidalia)

At this point in the session, bills are flying back and forth between chambers in a constant state of change.  We are in session again tomorrow, which will mark on 32nd day of this year’s session.

Rather than my usual list of legislation, I thought you may enjoy a deeper view on one piece of legislation instead. The “40” day legislative session at times gets heated. Some issues are contentious. Oftentimes, we aren’t making decisions about moral issues, but rather picking winners and losers between doctors and nurses, used cars dealers vs. new car dealers, or even foresters vs. the concrete industry. Sometimes tempers flare. Sometimes the surface issues are facades for underlying disagreements and molehills are turned into mountains.

On some occasions though, usually because of the patient persistence of a certain individual, the stars align and good legislation is produced. It happened earlier this year with Rep. Bert Reeves (R-Marietta) and House Bill 159, the adoption bill.  It also happened recently on a lesser known but equally important issue, House Bill 831, because of our neighbor and friend, Rep. Bill Werkheiser (R-Glennville).

HB 831, brought by Rep. Terry Rogers (R-Clarkesville) seeks to reduce the barriers to employment faced by Georgia citizens with disabilities. People with mental and physical disabilities flooded the Capitol to lobby in support of this legislation. Their stories were overwhelmingly compelling.  Some spoke of how holding a job gave value to their life. Others smiled from wheelchairs about how they were able to support themselves financially without government assistance. One, Joshua Wells from Newnan, told the committee about his three jobs. These individuals did not allow intellectual or physical disabilities steal their joy. And they brought joy to all around them.

As sometimes happens, turf wars developed as some well-meaning groups became concerned with how HB 831 may impact the current model of providing disability services. The chairman of the House Industry and Labor Committee tasked with bringing these groups together was Tattnall County’s Bill Werkheiser.

The move toward consensus was agonizing. I watched over a several-week period as Chairman Werkheiser worked to protect and alleviate the concerns of our community-based behavior health centers while advancing a bill he knew could help many of our most vulnerable. Despite his efforts, after numerous office meetings and several committee and sub-committee meetings, it appeared no agreement could be reached.

A week before the all-important Cross-Over Day, the day by which a bill must pass one chamber to remain available for consideration this session, many in the Georgia House were ready to toss in the towel.  The interested parties retreated to their corners to regroup for another try in 2019. Chairman Werkheiser requested the House leadership give him one more chance to find consensus. Because of his work ethic and reputation at the Capitol, they agreed.

On the final week a House bill could be voted out of a House committee, Chairman Werkheiser assembled the parties and his committee one last time. He stressed the value of this legislation to Georgians and its promotion of the principles of self-determination and individual responsibility. Through a combination of his sheer grit and divine intervention, HB 831 passed committee. In a classy move that mirrors his compassion, Chairman Werkheiser asked Joshua from Newnan to join the committee on rostrum to make the motion advancing the bill forward to where it eventually passed the entire House of Representatives. 

This Tuesday, we voted this same bill out of the Senate Economic Development Committee where I am a member. The same joy filled the stories shared there. Barely a committee member had a dry eye. The usual hustle in and out of committee meetings stalled as we all kept our seats to hear these individuals share with us their joy.

I just passed Rep. Rogers in the hall here at the Capitol, he unequivocally told me, “Blake, this bill clears a path where employment is the preferred option for our citizens with disabilities who wish to do so. You got to see the icing on the cake yesterday [in committee], but none of this would have been able to happen without Bill’s work for weeks before.”

We get things wrong at times in the legislature. We spend time each session fixing issues we unintentionally caused the year before. There are times we wish we could change our vote or objection when the smoke and fog of session has cleared. But Tuesday, we did something right. And we would never have had the chance had it not been for the workhorse our area has in the State House, Bill Werkheiser.

If you would like to see the recordings of these committee meetings and hear the stories of these amazing individuals yourself, visit this link to watch the Senate Economic Development and Tourism Committee meeting:

And visit this link to watch the House Industry and Labor Committee meeting:

You’ll be glad you did.

The Truth behind the Hands-Free Georgia Act

By State Representative John Carson (R-Marietta)

As the bill sponsor of the Hands-Free Georgia Act, I wanted to take a moment to clear up a few things so that both constituents and fellow lawmakers know what this proposed bill really does – and what it doesn’t do.

We all see fellow drivers looking at their phones in traffic, while on their daily commute and on interstates every day, and drivers are doing more than just texting.  Research from the telecommunications industry shows a sharp increase in mobile internet data.  This means people are accessing more internet data for social media and other websites.

After extensive committee hearings over last summer and fall, the House Study Committee on Districted Driving found that distracted driving is killing our loved ones, causing bodily injury and adding to our insurance costs.  Georgia’s traffic crashes increased by 36 percent in just two years according to the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.  Last year alone, 1,550 people died in automobile crashes on Georgia roads; that’s more than four deaths per day.  Additionally, Georgia continues to lead the nation with increasing auto insurance costs.  In 2016, our state’s average premium was twice the national average.  Finally, according to a recent poll by Landmark Communications, more than 82 percent of Georgia voters believe that texting while driving is a major contributor in the number of increased auto crashes.

The law enforcement community has told us that the current law banning texting and internet use is simply not enforceable because officers can’t determine if drivers are texting or simply dialing a phone number.

The study committee also found that of the 15 states that have similar hands-free legislation, 13 have seen a 16 percent average decrease in traffic fatalities within two years of passing legislation.  If this is achieved in Georgia, we could save approximately 250 lives each year.  That’s the size of a high school class.

Under the current legislation, drivers can still talk on their phone and touch their mobile device to dial, receive or end a call.  Drivers can also use voice-to-text technology, as well as GPS navigation.  However, HB 673 does prevent drivers from holding or supporting their phone with their body.  It also prohibits drivers from texting, watching YouTube, streaming Netflix or looking at Facebook while driving.  This is a common-sense bill that will save lives.

Over the past year, I have heard from mothers, fathers, sons and daughters who have lost someone due to distracted driving crashes.  These stories are heartbreaking, and while I can’t take the pain they feel away, I can do something to hopefully prevent another family from facing tragedy.  As a husband and a father, the thought of losing my wife, child or someone else I love to a distracted driver is unimaginable.

The hands-free legislation does not take away your right to talk via your hands-free device; however, it may very well save your life or that of a loved one.

March 10--  For the sixth consecutive year, Robert Toombs Christian Academy’s Literary Team is the Region 2-AA champion.

R.T.C.A. competed in the GISA 2-AA Region Competition on March 6 at Southeastern Technical College and will compete in state competition March 21 at Gordon State College.

First place finishers:
Spelling-Cody Masterman-Smith (Junior)
Humorous Oral Interpretation-Andi Brinson (Senior)
Duo Oral Interpretation-Rose Bishop and Jarron Guy (Seniors)
Extemporaneous Speaking-Shane Moore (Junior)
Girls Solo-Shelby Thomas (Junior)
Boys Solo-Jarron Guy (Senior)
Boys Quartet-Jarrnon Guy(Senior), Fernando Zayas(Sophomore), Travis Williams(Senior), Cody Masterman-Smith (Junior)

Second place finishers:
Argumentative Essay- Evan Venable(Senior)
Dramatic Oral Interpretation-Cody Masterman-Smith(Junior)
Impromptu Speaking- Travis Williams(Junior)
Piano-Hayden Wiggins(Freshman)
Girls Trio-Kate Sullivan(Senior), Rose Bishop(Senior), Shelby Thomas(Junior)

Third place finishers:
Personal Essay-Rose Bishop(Senior)
Rhetorical Essay-Hunter Brotman(Sophomore)

The R.T.C.A. literary coaches are Mrs. Susan Sullivan, Ms. Christina Trowell and Mr. Frank Champion.

rtcaliteraryPictured L-R:  Front: Shane Moore, Evan Venable, Travis Willaims, Mr. Frank Champion, Mrs. Susan Sullivan, Ms. Christina Trowell
Middle: Cody Masterman-Smith and Andi Brinson
Back: Shelby Thomas, Hunter Brotman, Kate Sullivan, Jarron Guy, Hayden Wiggins, Fernando Zayas, Rose Bishop

March 10-- Vidalia High School reports the boys quartet won top honors in area literary competition, according to a news release from Principal John Sharpe.

"Congratulations to the members of the 2018 Vidalia Comprehensive High School Literary Team who received high honors at the Georgia High School Association Region 1-AA and 2-AA Literary Meet on Saturday, March 3, 2018 at Irwin County High School. In an unprecedented move, the Georgia High School Association (GHSA), who oversees both athletic and Literary events, chose to combine the historic Region Literary Meet competitions into a double-region “Area” event, making competition twice as difficult. In the Area that includes Berrien County, Bryan County, Early County, Fitzgerald, Jeff Davis County, Metter, Thomasville, and Toombs County, Vidalia’s music event performers still did well.

vhsquartet(L-R) Luke Stinnett, Walker Wheeler, Landon Miller and Landon Lindsay.

"In the music events division for the GHSA, there are four categories of competition: Girls’ Solo, Boys’ Solo, Girls’ Trio, and Boys’ Quartet. The VCHS Boys’ Quartet, Landon Lindsay, Landon Miller, Luke Stinnett, and Walker Wheeler, performed “Cantate Domino,” and “Now Look Away” Their performance earned them the top honor in the Area Meet and they will advance to State Competition. Walker Wheeler, baritone, took the Area 1st Place Medal as Boys’ Soloist singing “Alma Del Core” in Italian by Caldara and “This is the Moment” by Bricusse and Wildhorn. Walker advances to State Competition as well.

"Girls’ Soloist Chastity Oliver, soprano, placed 1st Runner Up in Region and 3rd Place in Area with her renditions of a Michael Head’s Latin aria “Ave Maria” and “I Think that He Likes Me” by Kooman and Dimond. Angel Humphrey, Lyric Wardlaw, and Lydia Yawn, performing for VCHS as Girls’ Trio, won the region title performing “Old Joe Clark” and “Dona Nobis Pacem,” both A Cappella pieces. Although the group won region, they will not be advancing to State Competition because they placed 3rd in the Area Competition.

"Under Literary Coach Hollie Ikner, VCHS students also excelled. Samantha Stanley earned 2nd Place in Humorous Oral Interpretation category for her performance of “All Dressed Up And No Place To Go”, while Nancy McKenzie earned 2nd Place in Argumentative Essay. Lydia Yawn and Hannah Conner claimed 4th Place in Duo Oral Interpretation and Allison Pittman competed in Personal Essay.

 "The school and community can be very proud of this Literary Team. Congratulations to these excellent students, and to Hollie Ikner, Literary Coach, and John Morgan, Choral Director at Vidalia High."


March 9--  Qualifying closed Friday for the May 22 Primary Election and there are ten contested area races.

For the third time, Lee Burton of Toombs County is challenging State Representative Greg Morris of Vidalia for the District 156 House Seat.

Both State Senator Blake Tillery of Vidalia and Jack Hill of Reidsville are unopposed.

There's one contested race for the District Four seat on the Toombs County Commission.  Randall Clark, Tommy Rollins and Eddie Toole are running for the seat being vacated by Jeff McCormick. District One Commissioner Alfred Cason has no opposition.

There are two races for the Toombs County Board of Education.  Incumbent Russ Benton is challenged by Sonja Eason in District One while District Five incumbent Jonathon Holland faces Stephen Hutchinson.  District Three incumbent Mitch Bellflower and chairman Clint Williams are unopposed.

In Montgomery County, Magistrate Mona Bell is retiring and three candidates are seeking her seat.  Included are her assistant Magistrate Ashley Thornton, attorney John Morrison and pastor Craig Snead.

District Three, Post Two County Commission incumbent Clarence Thomas is unopposed in the Democrat Primary but will meet Charles Robison, running unopposed in the Republican Primary, in the general election in November.  District Four Commissioner Leland Adams has no opposition and neither does Clerk of Court Tammy Foskey.

Robison is giving up his District Three, Post Two seat on the school board and two retired educators, Debra Dobbins Gay and Linda Page, are running to succeed him.  District Four board member Jim Paul Poole has no opposition.

In Treutlen County, two county commission seats are contested.  District 2 incumbent Homer Rivers faces Quinn Mullis in the Republican Primary.  Two candidates in the Democratic Primary for the District Five seat being vacated by Cashaunda Smith are truck driver Phillip Lewis and retiree Thalia Gillis.

Both school board incumbents, Alvin Heath in District Three and Demetria Noble in District Five, are unopposed.

In the race for the 12th Congressional District seat, incumbent Congressman Rick Allen is being challenged by retired Augusta businessman Eugene Yu who is making his third run for the Republican nomination. 

Three candidates are running for the Democrat congressional nomination including Francys Johnson of Statesboro, past president of the Georgia NAACP; Augusta tax preparer Robert Ingham and Trent NeSmith of Statesboro.

Two candidates for the bench are unopposed including Georgia Court of Appeals Judge John Ellington of Soperton running for the Georgia Supreme Court and Middle Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Robert Reeves of Swainsboro.

March 9-- For the second year in a row, the Vidalia Heritage Academy Literary Team won the Georgia Independent Christian Arts and Academics State Championship (GICAA) at Reinhardt University Thursday.

Last week the team won the Region Runner-up trophy and qualified 11 students for the state championship.

A strong team effort catapulted VHA ahead of 12 other schools in the state competition.

Individual Results

1st Place in U.S. Extemporaneous Speaking, Briley Braddy
1st Place in Boys Quartet, Caleb Proenza, Christopher Scoggins, Elliot Sammons, Logan McBride 
1st Place in Spelling, Sam Spring 
2nd Place in Piano, Christopher Scoggins 
3rd Place in International Extemporaneous Speaking, Bryson Henriott
3rd Place in Dramatic Interpretation, Grace Mixon
3rd Place in Argumentative Essay, Elliott Sammons 
3rd Place in Girls Trio, Sam Spring, Lauren Adams, Lydia Sammons

The team is coached by Christy Scoggins. 

vhaliteraryFront row (L-R): Grace Mixon, Christy Scoggins

Second Row: Helen Baird, Lydia Sammons, Logan McBride

Third Row: Lauren Adams, Elliott Sammons

Fourth Row: Sam Spring, Bryson Henriott, Christopher Scoggins

March 9--  An assistant principal at Toombs County High School will assume duties as school principal next school term.

School Superintendent Richard Smith says Marissa Morris was named to the job at a called meeting of the school board Thursday night.

She previously served as a principal at an elementary school in the system and has been an assistant at the high school for the past three years.

Montgomery County Elementary School Principal

The new principal at Montgomery County Elementary School is Dr. Beverly Faircloth.  She has been assistant principal at Liberty County Elementary School for the past five years.  Prior to that she was an academic coach for the school system's seven elementary schools and worked for 17 years as a special education teacher.

March 8--  Imagine that your confined to a wheelchair, that you live in a nursing home and that you always wanted to be a law enforcement officer.  Now imagine that one day officers from Vidalia, Lyons and Toombs County surprise you by showing up to make you an honorary deputy sheriff.


That happened to Grady Williams at the Oaks of Bethany in Vidalia as part of the home's Committed to Caring -Second Wind Dream program, according to Director of Nursing Kelli Sharpton.

"Grady has always been passionate about law enforcement.  He rides around with a badge on every day and we have a little sheriff's sign on the back of his wheelchair.  We wanted to tie it in with the appreciation we have for our local law enforcement and honor both of them, both Grady and our law enforcement officers in the community," she said.

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight presented Grady with a badge and a plaque making him an honorary deputy, "You know we don't give this honor to very many people, but I've learned through the nursing home that he's always wanted to be a deputy sheriff and we felt like that would be a good thing to happen.  He is loved here at the nursing home and they wanted to do something for him and that just tickled me to death to hear that he's always wanted to be a deputy, but he's never had that opportunity. So we've given him honorary deputy status and he's part of our team now," the sheriff explained.

gradyalGrady suffered a birth-related brain injury when he was born and now both he and his mother are residents at the Oaks of Bethany where they are visited by Grady's brother, Al Williams (left) of Cobbtown.

"It means a lot to him.  Grady is 12 years older than I am and ever since I can remember, Grady has always wanted to be 'the sheriff.'  It means a lot to him, it's made his year," Al said.

March 8--  Lori Wingate is retiring this year from her job teaching second graders at Sally Meadows Elementary School in Vidalia.  Her students promised her they would collect the most cans and win this year's recycling competition at the school in her honor.  They were as good as their word and won this year's contest which sponsored by the City of Vidalia and its trash contractor, Republic Services, along with Chic Fil A and Ameris Bank.

sdmrecyclesOverall the student body collected 47,716 cans weighing 1,446 pounds.  Republic Services presented a check for $948 to the school based on the current market value of the aluminum cans.

March 7--  A student at Toombs County Middle School was arrested Tuesday, according to Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker.

The chief says the juvenile was arrested after coming to school with a pocket knife, a powdered substance he allegedly tried to pass off as drugs and something described as an "inoperable device."

Later Tuesday two boys at the high school made what can be interpreted as disturbing remarks in today's environment and Wednesday morning some girls at the high school started rumors about a shooting.  No charges are being filed in those cases, however, School Superintendent Richard Smith says they will be handled in accordance with the school system's disciplinary handbook.

tcesirieMarch 7-- Toombs Central Elementary School students were challenged by their school principal to read 1,000 books during the week of the National Education Association’s, Read Across America (February 26th – March 2nd).

Read Across America is a nationwide reading celebration that takes place annually the week of March 2nd – Dr. Seuss’s birthday. Across the country, thousands of schools, libraries, and community centers participate by bringing together kids, teens, and books.  Mrs. Tonawanda Irie issued the 1000-book challenge on Friday, February 23rd, and the students began logging the books they read throughout the following week.

tcespiggyAs a prize for meeting the challenge, Mrs. Irie promised to give a big smooch to Mr. Squeaks, a locally owned piglet. The week began with students reading their hearts out, and ended the same way – students were motivated and eager to meet the 1000-book mark! Throughout the week, students participated in many festivities and dress up days celebrating the life and works of one of America’s most beloved children’s authors, Dr. Seuss. On Friday, March 2nd, the students celebrated Dr. Seuss’s birthday in the gym with Truffula Tree snacks and Lorax juice… BUT, had they met the challenge?

As the students entered the gym, it was impossible for them not to notice the featured guest – Mr. Squeaks – a 3-month old, black and white, spotted piglet. Mrs. Irie eyed him from afar but, at this point, the grand total had not been revealed. Mrs. Irie, sporting bright red lipstick donated by Merle Norman, a tiara, and wearing a custom-designed t-shirt created by T98, had been anxiously awaiting this moment all week.

Mrs. Crystal Rollins, the Music/Art teacher, had been working with 1st grade students all week on a musical rendition of Green Eggs and Ham. After all the students were seated in the gym, the 1st grade students performed masterfully. The excitement was palpable, but everyone was wondering the same thing – did they read enough books to ensure a happy ending to this fairytale?

tceskissAfter a brief announcement by Mr. Hartley regarding the importance of reading, it was time to reveal the results…AND….Toombs Central students, as always, rose to the challenge with a grand total of 3,849 books read!! When the total was announced, the gym walls shook with excitement.

Mrs. Irie, the princess of TCES, would finally get to kiss her prince!!! After several failed attempts, she approached Mr. Squeaks hesitantly, puckered out her lips, and SMACK!!

The students erupted in laughter and squeals of excitement. A jolt of energy shook Mrs. Irie so hard that her tiara nearly flew off her head!! At the end of the day, everyone was a winner. Sure, the pig didn’t transform into a prince, but TCES students were kings and queens of Reading for the week!

March 7--  Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits reports the following arrests.

Luckett, Nigual Malike - B/M 26 YOA/ 11 E. First Ave. Hazlehurst, Ga./ Driving While License Or Revoked Suspended 2nd Offense

Furman, Karyah Antesia- B/F 17 YOA/ 1072 Ezra Taylor Rd Lyons, Ga/ Simple Battery, Willfuly Obstruction Of Police Officer Simple/Verbal

Lewis, Earnesha A. - B/F 17 YOA/ 600 Washington St. Vidalia, Ga. / State Warrant (Aggravated Assault) (FVA)

Simpkins, Darvin Lydell- B/M- 21 YOA- 302 Madison St. Vidalia, GA- Possession of Marijuana With Intent to Sell, Distribute

Wilson, Orlando Sebel- B/M- 47 YOA- 712 Sly St. Vidalia, GA- Informational Reports- Probation Violation (Dept. of Community Supervision)/VGCSA

Mikel, Michael A.- B/M- 28 YOA- 709 MLK Blvd. Vidalia, GA- Giving False Name to Law Enforcement (State Warrant)/Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Jerry Copley, Lyons, public drunkeness, probation violation

Angela Waller, Vidalia, possession of drug related objects

Brittany Bell, Lyons, DUI, possession of marijuana, failure to obey traffic device

Calvin Ivey, Vidalia, DUI

Michael Key, Oliver, criminal warrant

Kashif Edwards, Riverdale, DUI, possession of marijuana, failure to use headlights

Tara Dixon, Lyons, public drunkeness, controlled substance not in original container

Bryant White, Vidalia, DUI, possession of marijuana, seat belt violation

Tasha Cochran, Lyons, Hinder Apprehension

Lee Beck, Lyons, possession of methamphetamines, possession of a controlled substance, sale/delivery of a controlled substance, cruelty to children

Jerry Copley, Lyons, public drunkeness, probation violation

Lenzie Weber, Lyons, DUI, failure to dim headlight

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Charles Stewart, Lyons, hold for Wayne County Sheriff's Office

Wilbert Baker, Vidalia, Probation Violation

Amber Ferrell, Washington, GA, purchase, possession, manufacture, distribution and sale of marijuana

Beverly Hand, Lyons, purchase, possession, manufacture, distribution and sale of a controlled substance, DUI, speeding, giving false info to officer

Christopher Harrison, Lyons, possession of marijuana, driving while license suspended/revoked

Christopher Henry, Lyons, no insurance, operating vehicle with registration/license plate

Lisa Ownbey, Newnan, possession of contraband

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrest.

02/27-Mallory Allen Partin, Uvalda, Possession of Controlled Substance, Habitual Violator







March 6--  Twenty-one high school seniors from four area high schools graduated Monday night from this year's Toombs-Montgomery Leadership program sponsored by the Toombs-Montgomery Chamber of Commerce.

tmyl18Front row (holding the certificates) (l-r) Brittany Braddy, Aria Leathers, Tom Waller, Andy Escalera, William Velasquez, Bekkah Wheeler, Kenlee Foskey, Corey Pryor, Brooke Morris, Rena McKenzie, Brittney Beckum

Back row (l-r) Kate Sullivan, Evan Venable, Jonathan Stephens, Wil Duvall, Bryce Spivey, Cameron Yarbrough, Jansen Killian, Emily Conner, Cassi Heath, Lauren Floyd 

The program started in 2005 to educate area young people about local career opportunities and to help them develop leadership skills needed for success,  Members of the class come from Vidalia High School, Toombs County High School, Montgomery County High School and Robert Toombs Christian Academy.

Volunteer program leaders for this year's class are Sean and Ashley Sasser and Jose Caraballo.

March 6--  Students from Vidalia High School and Toombs County High School are winners of the annual speech competition sponsored by the Vidalia Rotary Club.

rotarywinners(L-R) Vidalia Rotary Club speech chairperson Linda Johnson, VHS counselor Chris Carroll, Vidalia High School student Nancy McKenzie, Toombs County High School students Abigail Hutcheson and Kevyn Perez and TCHS counselor Christy Smesny.

The first place winner is Nancy Mckenzie who wins $150 plus a like amount for Vidalia High School.  She will represent the Vidalia Rotary Club in zone competition April 14 at the Oconee Fall Line Technical College in Sandersville.  The zone winner will be presented a $1,000 scholarship after speaking at the Rotary District Conference at Jekyll Island.

Second place local winner Abigail Hutcheson wins $75 and third place winner Kevyn Perez receives $50.  Toombs County High School receives $125 from the Vidalia Rotary Club.

March 5--  A 51-year-old Soperton woman has been missing for two months and law enforcement officials have run out of clues.

lisahackleSoperton Police Chief Jason McCoy says Lisa Hackle was last seen January 4th and was reported missing by her sister.  Later, police found her truck parked behind an abandoned house in Soperton not far from her home on Robby Lane.

"We've got several tips which have come in, but none of them have panned out.  We've conducted several searches of wooded areas in the area where we found her vehicle and behind her residence and have not found anything of value.  We're still in the process of trying to locate her and know there's somebody out there who knows something  about where she may be or what might have happened to her.  Anybody who has any knowledge, please contact me at the Police Department at 529-4221 or call the GBI," the Chief said.

Chief McCoy says they've found no evidence of foul play, however, he notes there are similarities between her disappearance and the disappearance of a Lyons woman with whom she was a friend identified as 52-year-old Tonya Wilkins of East Clifton Avenue.

"She ran in the same social circles as Lisa did, so we kind of thought they may be connected at some point, but we've not found anything to confirm that.  All we know is they knew each other very well and we're close friends according to Mrs. Wilkins' daughter," Chief McCoy said.

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker says Tonya Wilkins was reported missing last July 6th and hasn't been heard from since.

Both police chiefs say neither woman has conducted any financial transactions since disappearing.

March 6--  The City of Soperton is apologizing to its residents for delays in garbage pickups for the past three weeks.

The city garbage truck is being repaired and the city is contracting with Republic Services for garbage collection until the truck can be returned to service.

Accordingly, garbage pickup in Soperton will occur only on Thursday and Friday this week.

If the truck is repaired this week, normal garbage pickup will resume starting Monday.  Otherwise, the Thursday-Friday pickup will occur again next week.

Residents may check for updates as well as the city and police department facebook pages plus the municipal sign downtown.

Residents with concerns are encouraged to contact their city council member.

March 5--  Toombs County residents who have old tires to get rid of can turn them in for free Saturday, March 24th at the Toombs County Landfill.

This event allows citizens within Tombs County and its municipalities to bring scrap tires to the Toombs County Landfill located at 2974 Lyons Center Road, Lyons, Georgia for no charge, between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. on this date.

This event ends at 4:00 pm on March 24, 2018. On March 25, 2018, the normal tire disposal fees for tires will resume.

These scrap tires can only be passenger cars and trucks, non-commercial semi-tractor trailer, or non-commercial front and rear farm tractor scrap tires. No heavy equipment tires, especially skidder tires; can be accepted. No scrap tires accepted from retail tire dealers, or commercial scrap tire generators (Farmers, Loggers, Owner-Operator Semi- Drivers, etc.). The specifications for this event will be strictly enforced by Toombs County and the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. There will be no exceptions to the date, times or tire type.

Funding for the program comes from an application by the Toombs County Board of Commissioners to the state Solid Waste Trust Fund, which was established in 1990 as part of the Georgia Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Act. 

For more information please contact the Toombs County Landfill at 912-537-9966 or the Toombs County Solid Waste Director, Thomas Thompson at 912-347-6061.

March 5--  It's been 36 years since a Vidalia Indians' boys basketball team played for a state basketball championship and the city school system is releasing students early Wednesday so they can travel to Macon for the afternoon game.

School Superintendent Dr. Garrett Wilcox says students will be released at 11 a.m. at Vidalia High School, at 11:40 a.m. at both J.D. Dickerson Primary School and Sally Meadows Elementary Schools and at 11:45 a.m. at J.R. Trippe Middle School.

The Indians will play Thomasville High School Wednesday at four p.m. at the Macon Centreplex.

If you can't make the trip, you can follow John Koon's play-by-play on Your Favorite, 98Q (97.7 FM) and on the station's webcast at


March 2--  Qualifying for this year's elections starts Monday and Senator Blake Tillery of Vidalia confirms his intention to seek re-election to his second term of office.  Here is his weekly report from the current General Assembly session in Atlanta.

With the completion of the Crossover Day, we will have officially met our first major deadline. From here on out, much of our focus will be on House bills and ensuring that amended Senate bills have been changed to best benefit the people of Georgia. While we heard 41 pieces of legislation on Crossover Day, one of the most important bills that we will hear all year, and arguably the most important in a decade, was passed on the Senate floor and transmitted to the House. House Bill 918, an overhaul of the Internal Revenue Code, was then sent to the Governor for his approval.

This bill is big news for everyone in Georgia as it would double the standard deduction for filers of all statuses and lowers the top income tax rate from 6 percent to 5.75 percent in 2019 and 5.5 percent in 2020, pending the General Assembly’s approval. Here are a few examples of what that could mean for you: families of four with a household income of $50,000 a year could see a 16 percent reduction in taxes, families of four making $75,000 could see a 12.5 percent reduction and families of four making $150,000 could see a 10 percent reduction in income taxes. This will save taxpayers $5 billion over the next five years. This means that this tax cut truly benefits the middle class and puts money back into your pockets. I am happy to support this measure.

  • Expanding HOPE Scholarship to National Guardsmen

Senate Bill 82 would expand the eligibility for the HOPE scholarship to members of the Georgia National Guard and reservists in Georgia who meet certain residency criteria.

  • Ending Fees on Credit Freezes

Senate Bill 376 would prevent credit reporting agencies from having the ability to charge for credit freezes.

  • New Background Check Standards for Long-term Care Employees

Senate Bill 406 would enact the Georgia Long-term Care Background Check Program and create the Central Caregiver Registry. The bill repeals the existing background check requirements for owners, operators, employees and potential employees at long-term care facilities by creating a new background check process, which includes a criminal background check done by the Department of Community Affairs.

  • Allowing Pharmacist Screenings

Senate Bill 422 would allow pharmacists at licensed clinical laboratory locations to administer and perform over the counter tests or screenings that are otherwise publicly available.

  • Investigating Illegal Aliens

Senate Bill 452 would require arresting officers to report to the prosecuting attorney if the individual in custody is an unlawful resident. The bill also gives more authority to courts to determine the legal status of arrested individuals.

  • Reducing CUVA Discontinuation Penalties on Family Owned Farms

Senate Bill 458 would allow family owned farms who wish to discontinue Conservation Use Valuation Assessment (CUVA) agreements to do so at a reduced penalty if certain conditions are met.

Several bills to expand rural broadband passed the Senate this week. This is the beginning of expanding this service to under served areas of the state and I look forward to looking at any other legislation that brings ideas about this topic to the table. And while these bills did pass, I voted “no” on 426 because I did not see where it would immediately benefit our area.

  • Facilitating Internet Broadband Expansion (FIBRE) Act

Senate Bill 232 would expand access to public rights of way and set regulations for Georgia’s electric membership cooperatives (EMCs) wishing to deploy broadband services, VoIP or wireless services. EMCs who are currently offering the services like the two in north Georgia would be grandfathered in under this legislation.

  • Expanding Offenses for Sex Trafficking Offenders

Senate Bill 335 would expand the offense of sex trafficking to include knowingly patronizing a person to conduct sexually explicit content and clarifies that the punishment for that offense is five to 20 years if the individual who was patronized is 16 years of age or older upon conviction.

  • Surprise Billing

Senate Bill 359 would increase transparency in medical billing by requiring hospitals and physicians to clearly post notices and standard charges on their respective websites. The bill would require insurers to provide enrollees with criteria for in-network and out-of-network coverage. The legislation would also allow the mediation of a bill greater than $1,000 for an elective medical procedure. This is another attempt to counter surprise billing, which is when you are billed for services that you did not know were out-of-network.

  • Solid Waste Disposal

Senate Bill 385 would change surcharge fees for municipal solid waste disposal facilities operated by a private company from $1.00 to $3.00 per ton. Under SB 385, a new code section would be added, enabling the change to the surcharge fee and the effective date would be adjusted from January 1, 1992, to July 1, 2018. This is an attempt to limit out-of-state trash by making it more expensive to dump trash in Georgia.

  • Senator Thorborn ‘Ross’ Tolleson, Jr. Act

Senate Bill 444, also known as the “Senator Thorborn ‘Ross’ Tolleson, Jr. Act,” would create the Georgia Alzheimer’s and Related Dementia State Plan Advisory Council. Under SB 444, the makeup of the 17-member council is outlined along with its duties. Many people across our state suffer from dementia and Alzheimer’s, and this council will help us to better understand the disease and ways we can help Georgians who suffer from it and their families.

Please let me know if you have any questions about this legislation of any legislation crossing over to our chamber over the next few weeks!


March 2--  A native Vidalian is the new President of the Mercer Law School Alumni Association.

anniekaufoldAnne Kaufold-Wiggins was sworn in by outgoing President Anton F. Mertens (L). 

She's a partner with the Atlanta law firm of Balch & Bingham which she joined in 2005 following her graduation from Mercer Law School. 

Anne graduated from Vidalia High School in 1998 and from the University of Georgia in 2002.  

She's the daughter of Oconee Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Howard Kaufold.

Her firm has offices across the Southeast including one in Vidalia headed by attorney Hugh McNatt.



March 2--  Two projects to renovate public parks in Vidalia and Lyons have  been approved for submission to the federal government for funding.

State Senator Blake Tillery of Vidalia reports an $89,000 project for Hallmark Park in Lyons and another for $35,000 to replace playground equipment at the Ed Smith Recreation Complex in Vidalia is being recommended by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources for funding.

The state will ask the U.S. Department of the Interior to provide a grant from the U.S. Land and Water Conservation Fund.

"These projects represent positive improvements to our public spaces that these communities have sought for years,” said Sen. Tillery. “They encourage our children to go outside, experience the outdoors, and hopefully promote long-term wellness. I’m excited to see the benefits of these investments in these neighborhoods.”

March 2-- In advance of the 2018 elections, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, political party representatives, and county-level elections officials will host qualifying for all eligible offices. The qualifying period runs from March 5th through 9th from 8 AM until 5 PM except on Monday, the first day, when it opens at 9 AM and Friday, the final day, when qualifying closes at 12 noon.  

To qualify, all candidates are required to bring a valid photo ID; provide either a notarized notice of candidacy and affidavit or declaration of candidacy; and pay applicable qualifying fees. A list of qualifying fees for federal and state offices can be found here. State court judges and all local county offices qualify with their local elections superintendent or their applicable party. Candidates for sheriff, coroner, tax commissioner, clerk of superior court, judge of probate court, and local boards of education are required to submit an additional affidavit. A full break-down is available here.

Federal and state candidates for partisan offices qualify with their respective parties in the State Capitol building, meeting separate standards.

Federal and state candidates qualifying with the Democratic Party of Georgia may pay qualifying fees by money order, certified check, campaign check, or personal check made payable to “Democratic Party of Georgia” in Room 230 of the State Capitol Building. The party requires signed affidavits with money orders and certified checks.

Federal and state candidates qualifying with the Georgia Republican Party may pay qualifying fees by money order, certified check, campaign check, or personal check made payable to “Georgia Republican Party” in Room 216 of the State Capitol Building. The party requires submission of the party oath.

Independent candidates, political body candidates, and non-partisan candidates for federal or state offices may qualify at one of four Georgia Secretary of State’s office locations: the Elections Division at 2 MLK Jr. Dr., Suite 802, West Tower, Atlanta, GA 30334; the Professional Licensing Boards Division, 237 Coliseum Drive, Macon, GA 31217; the 1903 Bartow County Courthouse, 114 West Cherokee Avenue, Cartersville, GA 30120; or the South Georgia Regional Office at 238 East Second Street, Tifton, GA 31794. Candidates should make their checks payable to “Georgia Secretary of State.”

Qualified candidate information for federal and state races can be found on the Secretary of State’s website as it becomes available.

Please note that all campaign finance filings are completed through the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission. Their website contains

March 2--  The Montgomery County Board of Commissioners awarded two contracts at a called meeting Friday morning.

H.T. Remodeling of Montgomery County was awarded a $6,650 contract to provide labor for interior renovation work in the county-owned building at 302 Richardson Street in Mount Vernon.  The county will provide materials for the work.  The building is being prepared to house offices for the county Tax Commissioner and Tax Assessor.

The Commissioners also awarded a $4,500 contract to Alexander Brothers Heating and Air in Vidalia for a new heating and air unit in the Montgomery County Senior Citizens Center.

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

Walters, Tyeema Regina- B/F 26 YOA/ 404 Randolph Dr Vidalia, Ga./ Operating A Vehicle While Registration Is Suspended, Canceled, or Revoked/ Driving While License Suspended Or Revoked(1st)/ No Insurance (1st)

Parson, Michael- W/M 54 YOA/ 1714 Nicole Ln. Vidalia, Ga./ DUI (1ST)/ Failure To Maintain Lane/ Open Container

Robinson, Richard Benjamin B/M 43 YOA 208 Martin Luther King Blvd Vidalia Ga 30474/ Criminal Trespass

Rodriguez, Anthony E B/M 50 YOA 305 West St Vidalia, Ga 30474 Giving False Name Address Or Birthdate To LEO

Waller, Thomas Ray W/M 18 YOA 121 Center Dr Vidalia Ga/ Possession Of Marijuana Less Than Ounce/ Operating Motor Vehicle Approaching Emergency Vehicle

Carter, Kendra Kashon B/F 31 YOA 606 Washington St Vidalia Ga/ Driving While License Suspended/ Headlight Requirement/ No Proof Of Insurance

Wright, Azirian - B/M 17 YOA/ 510 Washington St. Vidalia, Ga. / Simple Battery, Disorderly Conduct (FVA)

Broomfield, Keauntae- B/M- 27 YOA- 1906 Manning Dr. Vidalia, GA- Possession of Marijuana Less Than Ounce/Possession of a Controlled Substance/Possession of Drug Related Objects/No Insurance 1st/Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (First)/Operating a Vehicle While Registration is Suspended, Canceled or Revoked

Foster, Callie Margaret - W/F 21 YOA/ 50 Wildwood Circle Statesboro, Ga. /Possession Marijuana Less Than Ounce

Theilig, Michael Charly - W/M 26 YOA/ 50 Wildwood Circle Statesboro, Ga./ Possession Marijuana Less Than Ounce

Byrd, Tiara Alescia - B/F 39 YOA/ 1208 Easter Dr Apt. 17 Vidalia, Ga/ Cruelty To Children

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Angel Lopez, Lyons, criminal trespass, public drunkeness, terroristic threats

Vincent Howard, Lyons, disorderly conduct

Stephen Jones, Lyons, warrant served

Karson McLeod, Reidsville, disruption of public schools

Catherine Jimenez, Lyons, reckless driving, warrant served

April Carroll, Lyons, DUI, driving while license suspended/revoked, headlights, failure to dim headlights, giving false name, address & birthdate to officer, warrant served

Heather Palle, Lyons, driving while unlicensed

Travis Wilcher, Vidalia, DUI, failure to stop at stop sign

Michael Willis, Lyons, driving while license suspended/revoked, no tags, headlights, removing license plates

Michael Williams, Vidalia, DUI

Christopher  Barrow, Lyons, DUI

Angela Waller, Vidalia, possession of drug related objects

Brittany Bell, Lyons, DUI, possession of marijuana, failure to obey traffic control device

Calvin Ivey, Vidalia, DUI

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Tristan Beasley, Uvalda, possession of marijuana, speeding, seat belts

Lillian Corouthers,  Vidalia, disorderly conduct

Brenda Denson, Reidsville, driving while license suspended/revoked, no proof of insurance

Ola Durden, Hinesville, open container, DUI, failure to maintain lane

Henry Hankerson, Vidalia, cruelty to animals

Kevin Lovett, Vidalia, probation violation

Michelle Maciel, Lyons, Hold for Cameron County

Kasey McLendon, Vidalia, financial transaction card theft

Timothy Miller, Lyons, cruelty to children, criminal trespass

Levi Mulling, Lyons, driving while license suspended/revoked

Thomas Seagraves, Lyons, probation violation

Michael Smith, Vidalia, bond violation

William Taylor, Lyons, theft by taking

Howard Waters, Warthen, DUI, failure to maintain lane

William Wilcox, Swainsboro, failure to appear

Sharmon Wright, Vidalia, Cocaine purchase, possession, manufacture, distribution and sale; possession of drug related object

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

02/20-Juliet E. Purvis, Valdosta, DUI/Drugs, Following Too Closely

02/23- Dennis Cowart, Soperton, Aggravated Child Molestation (x2), Aggravated Sodomy (x2), Enticing a Child for Indecent Purposes, Aggravated Sexual Battery, Cruelty to Children-1st (x2)

 02/24-Byron Terrell Shinholster, Uvalda, Public Intoxication

March 1--  The Sweet Onion Animal Protection Society (SOAPS)  in Vidalia held its annual "Spay-Ghetti" supper to raise money needed to find homes for dogs and cats in Toombs County.

Volunteer servers helped pass out the "Spay-Ghetti" (L-R) Vidalia Mayor Ronnie Dixon, SOAPS volunteer Holly Zachary, Vidalia City Councilman Cecil Thompson, Vidalia Mayor Pro Tem John Raymond Turner, Kathy Hilt of The Advance, Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker and Vidalia City Manager Nick Overstreet.


According to SOAPS Director Therisa Ingley, "The money for this goes to support the programs we do in addition to the contributions we get from individuals.  We are very financially pressed at this point in time.  The $15,000 that we normally raise with this is a lot of money, but that really only covers our expenses for two months.  Every animal we send out of this community through our program costs a minimum of $100 and when we're sending 1,500 animals out a year, you can do the math and see what we're spending."

SOAPS works with animal shelters around the country to find forever homes for strays found in Toombs County, "Most of our animals go up north to animal rescue groups that are really top notch. They find excellent homes for our animals and we want to maintain that.  We don't want our dogs leaving here and not going to the best," Ingley said.

Spay-Ghetti Cooks! spaycooks

SOAPS' relocation efforts also have a positive impact on the animal population in local shelters, "When we first started about 18 years ago, Vidalia Animal Control routinely might have had a hundred dogs out there at one time.  Now, they may have about 40 and that's because a lot of animals get to us before they get out there and the same is true in Lyons," she reported.

March 1--  The emergency room patient load because of the flu is less than a few weeks ago at Meadows Regional Medical Center in Vidalia, but it's still a menace according to Dr. Justin Osborne.

"We are through the peak but people shouldn't ignore the fact the flu season lasts till May, so we're not out of the woods yet.  This year there has definitely been a detrimental effect, not only in our community, but nationwide.

"It's been incredible the number of patients we've seen this winter.  The typical flu symptoms we see in most patients were to be expected, but the number of patients we saw who suffered from cardiac, respiratory and even neurological deficits was truly at an all time high and was unexpected," he said.

At this point, Dr. Osborne advises, "We do expect several more weeks of flu-related viral illnesses.  It's not too late to get your flu vaccine, especially if you're in a high risk population.  Otherwise, continue to take daily measures to prevent a flu-related illness and if you are diagnosed with influenza and your doctor recommends Tamaflu, please take it."