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January 29--  Meadows Health in Vidalia is considering partnering with a larger hospital group to sustain service and grow in the future.

At a Tuesday morning briefing, Meadows Healthcare Alliance Board Chairman Mike Calhoun said, "Any rural hospital which is not doing what we're doing right now, looking at options, looking forward and paying attention to the trends, they're going to be in real trouble three, four, five, six years down the road."

mrmcmikealanCalhoun (front) and Alan Kent discuss Meadows' Initiative

Meadows has sent out requests for proposals to a handful of unidentified medical groups and expects to get replies within two to four weeks. CEO Alan Kent says now is the time to test the water, "One of the most important things to realize is that Meadows is profitable, Meadows has a strong balance sheet and this is not a must do situation.  We are certainly not responding to distress.  What we are looking for is the opportunity to see these options for continuing our growth and continuing to be strong and not waiting for a future where we might have fewer options."

Kent says any new partnership must provide a pathway to grow Meadows' medical services, "We are looking for a partner that can help fuel our growth and our mission.  I believe the ultimate partner the board would choose would be an organization that matches us culturally and that is interested in growing our business. I think we've got opportunities for Meadows to expand its reach and expand its employment in the region, not just hold on to what we've got."

Kent says once other organizations respond to Meadows' requests, the board will examine the responses and determine whether to proceed.  If the answer is yes, negotiations on the deal will follow and could lead to a partnership or affiliation with a larger organization in 2019.

Alan Kent Provided Background on Meadows' Plans

"Trends in American healthcare and the constant pressures on hospitals, rural hospitals in particular, are leading to more consolidation throughout the industry. While many hospitals, especially larger ones in more urban areas, are doing well, these pressures have been most intense in smaller and rural facilities, leading to many changes in operations including mergers and acquisitions. Meadows is not immune to these trends. We are approaching the issues from a position of strength before external factors drive us to any position where we might be faced with fewer options.

"Meadows is financially and operationally sound with a modern facility, amazing medical staff, and a solid balance sheet. We are profitable through the first six months of the year and therefore this is not a “distress call” or a must-do situation. Accordingly, the Board has determined that now is the time to plan for the future and how we might best be prepared for the continuing evolution of the American healthcare system. A partner with an appropriate capital commitment can potentially help us meet our financial needs and assist us in achieving our goals to continue to grow in size, quality, and service to our entire region for many years to come.

"We operate in an environment of great complexity and the economic realities of our community have a very real impact on the ability of a hospital to operate profitably. Meadows is unique in the state of Georgia with its history of success in providing the region with advanced medical technology and a wide range of high quality specialty physicians and services that include heart, cancer and obstetrical care. However, we live in a rural market without some of the economic advantages available in larger cities. We have been experiencing the negative impact of growing indigent, charity and uncompensated care due to changes in demographics and government policy. And unlike almost every other small hospital in the state, Meadows receives no financial support from city or county governments.

"One thing is for certain: We will make our determinations with the best interests of this organization, this community, this region, and our present and future patients forefront in our minds. This process is exactly that: an effort to evaluate our options. We have reached no foregone conclusion but plan to examine whether there is an opportunity to partner with an organization that would help us continue to deliver on our mission and ensure a stable healthcare system for many years to come. We are excited about the future of Meadows and believe that this self-examination process will result in the best outcomes for our community."

January 29--  Monday Vidalia police were serving arrest and search warrants on 27-year-old Tyree White at 500 Martin Luther King Drive in connection with the December 27 shooting of Ben Brewer of Vidalia. 

vpdweaponsThe search warrant turned up weapons, cash, drugs and cellphones in what Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits describes as a "criminal enterprise."  Nine people in addition to White were arrested and are suspected of possession of drugs with intent to distribute, possession of a firearm during commission of a crime, aggravated assault and aggravated battery.

Arrested are five Vidalia residents including 21-year-old Joshua Troupe, Jr., 28-year-old Lonzo Skinner, Jr., 21-year-old Laderon Banks, 30-year-old Brandon Jones and 26-year-old Earl Simpson, Jr.  Also, 17-year-old Shamaya Watson of Swainsboro, 21-year-old Brandon Watts of Ailey, 22-year-old Christopher Beasley of Mount Vernon and 20-year-old Christopher McKinney of Mount Vernon.

Police say more charges may be made and ask anyone with information to call CrimeStoppers at 912-386-4480. 

January 29--  Vidalia police are investigating three shootings and one assault which occurred in a three-day period.

The first shooting happened late Friday night when a former Vidalia High School basketball star, 24-year-old  Devon Atkins, was shot in the eye in the yard of a residence at 106 West Ninth Street. Atkins' brother told police that Atkins was outside waiting on a girl to pick him up when the shooting occurred. Devon was unable to give police any details about who fired the shots.  He was taken to Meadows Healthcare for treatment

The next shooting happened Sunday morning near the residence of Allen Smalley at 622 Martin Luther King Avenue where several rifle shell casings were found on the ground.  Police report Tracey Lee Foreman, Jr. was shot in the leg and showed up asking for help at the back door of Kamaria Ayeni at 616 MLK Avenue.  She took Foreman to the hospital.

The assault occurred late Sunday afternoon at the home of 47-yar-old Mark Anthony Kirkland at 605 East Seventh Street.  Kirkland suffered facial injuries and claims he was attacked from behind by a suspect police identify as 28-year-old Naquan Cain of 718 Mike Street.  Later Sunday evening police say Cain was shot at while riding in a car on Orange Street in Vidalia.  He suffered a minor wound from either a gunshot or flying shrapnel from the body of the car and checked himself out of Meadows Health without talking to police. 

January 29--  A Toombs County grand jury has indicted the man arrested for the killing of a Vidalia men's store manager last November.

Chief Assistant District Attorney Tripp Fitzner reports 29-year-old Tyrone Burns is facing five counts in the shooting death of 31-year-old Brooke Joiner at R.J. Pope's Menswear.

burnscourtThe grand jury indicted Burns for malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession of a firearm during commission of a felony.

Earlier Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight said Burns admitted the crime during interrogation following his arrest.

January 29--  The Toombs County Board of Education recognized its "Employees of the Month" at its January meeting.

tcboeextrajan19"The Extra Mile Award" went to Toombs County Middle School teacher Robert George.  It was presented by school Principal Dr. Renee Garbutt and school system  Superintendent Barry Waller.

tcboewowjan19"The WOW Award" was presented to Lyons Upper Elementary School Cafeteria Manager Lou Beall (center) by school Principal Tabatha Nobles and school system superintendent Barry Waller.

January 28--  The annual "Dancing for the Stars" in Vidalia raised thousands of dollars for the United Way of Toombs, Montgomery and Wheeler Counties.

According to United Way Executive Director Patricia Dixon, "It was a big hit and our "Power of the Purse" committee did a great job.  We have 251 "Power of the Purse" members and they were invited to bring a guest.  We had 400 people in attendance.  We raised over $19,000 dollars in votes for our dancers and that was just a blessing for our community.  So many people will be touched and changed and we can't thank people enough for this big event."

dancing19winnersThe winning dance duo was Amanda Lawler Moore and her brother, Corey Lawler.

dancing19groupSix teams competed and they are (Back Row, L-R) Beth Bell, Thomas Babcock, Eric Reuschlig, Robbie Rosier, Evan Clark and Corey Lawler. (Front Row, L-R) Maggie Hilton, Cynthia Hall Joyce, Heidi Reuschlig, Heather Mead, Amelia Culpepper and Amanda Lawler Moore.

January 28--  There's a new Executive Director of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board and Thomas Hammond is on a listening tour while visiting with representatives of Georgia's 3,200 Baptist churches.

thomashammondHammond visited Lyons First Baptist Church as part of the tour to meet with area ministers and said religion has challenges to overcome in today's society.

"I think there are several things which are creating more difficulty for our churches in reaching the lost.  The culture is obviously changing and we're seeing more and more people who weren't raised in church and they don't have any type of a Biblical background. 

At the same time, our churches have become too inwardly focused and we need to encourage them to look out at the mission field because it's ripe under the harvest," he said.

Budget Week Highlights

By: Sen. Blake Tillery (R – Vidalia)

January 28-- Last week the Legislature recessed to hear reports from each state department head on their requests for FY 2020 in what we conveniently refer to as “Budget Week.” It’s hard to sum up everything I heard in our 17 hours of hearings but let me hit a few takeaways from the FY2020 General Budget allocations, as well as where we stand economically as a state.

When it comes to the differences between last year’s budget and this year’s budgets, the biggest dollar change is additional increases in education. If passed as proposed by Governor Kemp, education spending will now make up over 54 percent of the entire state budget.  In fact, the growth in education was so much (about .9% or about $867 million dollars), other areas saw percentage decreases, including Health, Safety, and Transportation, simply because of the education increase. Don’t let this percentage decrease fool you, however. Because the entire state budget has increased overall by about a billion dollars, funds in these areas are increasing as well. Essentially, everyone gets a piece of the pie, but education gets the biggest slice.  (Remember, that “pie” is coming from your pockets, though.  I want to address this. More on this in the coming weeks!)

In general, our state is economically strong. Though not all areas are seeking this growth (rural Georgia particularly, total state revenues are outperforming forecasted amounts.  Revenue growth, however, is down dramatically since October; we are not out of the woods yet when it comes to avoiding a recession.  We must factor this in to every budget decision we make.

Here are some other takeaways from the presentations by department heads at this week’s budget hearings as well as Governor Kemp’s recommendations:

  • $2.3 billion to be used over the next five years to improve non-interstate corridors. The vast majority of these are in rural areas like ours.
  • Almost $67 million be added to this fiscal year budget for school security grants ($30,000 per public school)
  • $505.1 million to increase teacher pay by $3,000 dollars.
  • $21 million to fund the actuarial increase for the Teachers Retirement System
  • $8.4 million for additional mental health counselors in high schools
  • $2.1 million to fulfill increased enrollment in the HOPE Scholarship program
  • $3.5 million to Dual Enrollment to account for the program’s growth
  • $2.1 million to accommodate the growth in technical college enrollment
  • $500,000 to create a Gang Task Force to combat the over 1,500 gangs in Georgia
  • $2 million ($1 million of state funds, $1 million in federal funds) to a Medicaid Waiver program
  • $150 million for new voting machines
  • $35.7 million to repay local systems through the Forestland Protection Act Grant
  • $119 million for the recommended merit based 2% raise for all state employees
  • $14 million for statewide water planning
  • K-12 student enrollment growth has leveled off for the first time this century.  This leveling-off will further compound the need to control growth in education spending in the coming years.
  • Adoptions of Georgia foster children have increased from 820 adopted children in 2015 to 1,200 in 2018. This shows that the House Bill 159 from last session is making a tangible impact on the lives of our children.  However, the number of children in foster care during this time has increased from roughly 10,000 to roughly 15,000 children.  While adoptions are increasing, the number of children needing adoption is outpacing this growth.  We need more loving homes and foster parents immediately; and we need to support them once they’ve given their all to stabilize the child’s life.

With these facts and figures out of the way, I look forward to getting back into the details behind the numbers and other legislation next week. As always, if you have any questions or concerns about legislation that you may have, please do not hesitate to let me know. I am more than happy to answer your questions via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone at 404-656-0089. Thanks for the opportunity to serve you.        

January 28--  After years of pushing by area economic developers, the Georgia Public Service Commission is committing funds and directing Atlanta Gas Light to increase natural gas capacity in rural Georgia.

State Senator Blake Tillery of Vidalia says $4.66 million will be available within a month to start work on an estimated $14 million project, "This is a project our area has fought for for half a decade now.  It's a combined project for Toombs, Montgomery, Wheeler, Treutlen and Emanuel counties and is significant because our gas capacity was strangled and we couldn't add anything else to the line.  All the industrial developers we've had come look at any of those counties in the past several years have needed more natural gas capacity.  We've been able in Toombs County to uniquely solve some of that with propane, but also having that backup option of natural gas allows for competition between natural gas and propane and keeps the natural gas company honest by having propane backup.  It's a necessary step to bring jobs to rural Georgia."

The Executive Director of the Toombs County Development Authority, Michelle Johnson, is elated with the news, "We are so overwhelmed and grateful that the Public Service Commission saw fit to award some money for our project.  We have applied for these funds for the past three years.  We understand it's a huge project but it's immensely important to our county and our region and we are elated at the news."

Meanwhile another piece of the puzzle to make the Toombs Corporate Center north of Lyons more competitive is to increase wastewater treatment capacity, a project that the City of Lyons is addressing and expects to resolve early this year.

January 25--  Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits reports the following arrests.

Ricks, Anna B/F 68 YOA/ 604 E Sixth St Vidalia, GA/
Disorderly Conduct (Misd)

Brownlee,Maurice Ernest B/M 36 YOA/ 2521 Hwy 297
Vidalia, GA /Warrant Service (Parole Violation)

Green, Vernon Keith- B/M- 30 YOA- 297 Jane Dr. Vidalia,
GA- Criminal Trespass

Daniels, Herbert Lewis- W/M- 37 YOA- 205 David St. Vidalia,
GA- Warrant Served (Appling County SO-Probation)/Driving
While License Suspended or Revoked (First)/Removing or
Affixing License Plate With Intent to Concealing Identity of
Vehicle/Failure to Obey Traffic Control Device/No Proof of

Wooden, Sheena Latricia- B/F- 28 YAO- 207 Locke St. Vidalia,
GA- Warrant Served (Twiggs County SO- Probation)

Williams, James Lee B/M 36 YOA 627 ½ Rabun St Mt Vernon,
GA/ Disrupting Of Public Schools (Misd)

Deen, Ned Daniel W/M 50 YOA / 240 W River Rd Baxley, GA/
Warrant Service (Probation Violation VPD)

Mclemore, Megan Alexandra W/F 22 YOA 259 Davis Road
Vidalia Ga, Expired tag, Possession of Marijuana less than
Ounce, Possession of Drug Related Objects, Open container

Bolin, William Gabriel Andrew W/M 19 YOA 283 James
Street Apt 3 Higgston Ga 30410/ Hit & Run

Joyner, Christopher Sage W/M 21 YOA 1509 New
Normantown Road Vidalia Ga, Hit & Run

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Thomas Drew, Lyons, Warrant Served

Zacheriah Wright, Lyons, possession of methamphetamine

Cheyenne Moore, Lyons, no insurance, traffic viiolations

Brittany McKenzie, Rome, DUI, giving false info to officer, warrant service, traffic violations

Shontavia White, Lyons, warrant service

David  Battle, Tampa, printing fictitious checks, failure to give information

Kelman Matthews, Twin City, DUI, no insurance, operating vehicle while registration suspended, criminal warrant

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Joel Beecher, Lyons, Hold for Houston County

Angelo Brown, Lyons, Driving while license suspended/revoked, speeding

Jose Cerna, Jacksonville, Driving while license suspended/revoked

Timothy Childs, Lyons, probation violation

Billy cockrell, Edgefield, SC, DUI, traffic violation

Rodney Hall, Alamo, probation violation

Paul Mills, Baxley, public drunkeness

Nicki Morris, Ailey, probation viiolation

Michael Powell, Lyons, probation violation

Kemira Richards, Soperton, expired license

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

01/14-Angela Belinda Powell, Vidalia, Cruelty to Animals

01/15-Barnie Dasher, Jr., Lyons, DUI, Obstruction of Officer (x2)

01/17-Nikita Lee Turner, Mount Vernon, Possession of Methamphetamine w/Intent to Distribute, Possession of Cocaine w/Intent to Distribute, Seat Belt Violation

01/17-Theron Sutton Grady, Mount Vernon, Possession of Methamphetamine w/Intent to Distribute, Possession of Cocaine w/Intent to Distribute, Seat Belt Violation

01/19-James Sabastain Price, Ailey, DUI, Possession of Marijuana <1oz., Possession of Cocaine

01/19-James Clay Ogletree, Uvalda, DUI, Failure to Maintain Lane, Driving w/Suspended License, Failure to Notify Upon Striking Fixture, Possession of Alcohol

January 25-- After receiving numerous citizen complaints of drug activity and an on-going investigation, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and Agents of the Oconee Drug Task Force executed a traffic stop on Connell Street in Mount Vernon on Thursday, January 17th.

The traffic stop yielded the seizure of a high grade crystal methamphetamine and over forty (40) rocks of crack cocaine that were individually wrapped and ready for distribution. Estimated street value of the drugs was valued over $2,000.00.


turnerArrested in the traffic stop was Theron Sutton Grady (left) and Nikita Lee Turner of Mount Vernon.

They were charged with Possession of Methamphetamine w/Intent to Distribute and Possession of Cocaine w/Intent to Distribute.

Zack Fowler Day DeclarationJanuary 24-- At its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday night January 15th, the Toombs County Commission unanimously signed a declaration recognizing Thursday, January 24th as Zack Fowler Day in Toombs County. January 24th was selected as he will be inducted into the Georgia Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in Athens.

Toombs County Commission Chairman David Sikes stated, “When we found out that Zack Fowler was getting inducted into the Georgia Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame and me being a Georgia Dog and men like Larry Munson being in there, and now all of a sudden Zack Fowler one of our local heroes is in there, we were thrilled.”

Sikes added, “Zack is always honest, has integrity, and always tells people the truth which is what we need. It doesn’t matter if he’s reporting here in Toombs County or Montgomery County or wherever his travels take him, he’s always honest and fair with it. We’re extremely glad that we have a Hall of Famer in our community.”

Zack was completely surprised with the honor. “You never see something like this coming,” Fowler said. “I’m very blessed because I’ve always enjoyed the work I’ve been able to do and that God gave me the ability to do both in the Army and when I came home to Vidalia in broadcasting. It’s my first love except for my wife and family, the good Lord of course, and my bulldog.”

Fowler added, “To be honored by the broadcasters of Georgia is just something that I never aspired to do. I’m just lucky to enjoy doing what I do and then to have my home county proclaim the 24th a day in my honor it’s just overwhelming. To receive that and to go to Athens where I went to college and get a big pat on the back, it’s going to be a big day for the Fowler family. Our sons are going to be there, my wife will be there along with a lot of friends and family.”

When I started out as a teenage disc jockey I never imagined that something like this could happen,” said Fowler.

January 23--  Southeastern Technical College in Vidalia honored its top students and teachers in ceremonies Tuesday night at the college.

Uvalda native Harley Stanfield won the Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership for her performance in the Radiologic Technology course of study.  She was the Montgomery County High School Salutatorian in 2017 and age 20 is the youngest student to win the GOAL award at STC.


Sixteen students were nominated for the award.  The four finalists with STC President Larry Calhoun are (L-R) Dental Hygiene student Haley Grant from Mount Vernon, Dental Hygiene student Karneisha Holloway of Metter, GOAL winner Harley Stanfield and Dental Hygiene student Sarah Trenerry of Jesup.


Cosmetology instructor Linda Hairr (left) wins the Rick Perkins Award as the faculty member of the year. Other nominees pictured with President Calhoun are (L-R) Biology instructor Erica Harrison and Practical Nursing instructor Joanna Bell.

January 23-- Headlining the 2019 Vidalia Onion Festival concert is American country music singer/songwriter, Randy Houser.

randyhouserWith an inimitable voice the New York Times describes as “wholly different, thicker and more throbbing, a caldron bubbling over,” Randy Houser racked up three consecutive No. 1 hits and more than four million in singles sales to date with his Stoney Creek Records album, How Country Feels. He topped the charts with the title track, “Runnin’ Outta Moonlight” and “Goodnight Kiss” (also his first No. 1 as a songwriter) and earned critical acclaim for his powerful delivery of the Top 5 smash and CMA Song of the Year-nominated "Like A Cowboy." Houser added a fourth No.1 to his catalogue with “We Went” from his 2016 album, Fired Up.

Randy Houser’s fifth studio album, Magnolia, was just released this month and marks a new era for Houser. Listeners got their first taste of Houser’s rootsy new sound with Randy’s current single release of “What Whiskey Does,” which debuted at Country radio as #1 Most Added and Rolling Stone immediately dubbed “a classic tears-and-twang drinking song.”

carlypearceAlso playing Saturday evening is the beautiful and talented, Carly Pearce. She released her first number one single, “Every Little Thing”, back in 2017. Carly followed that up this past year with another hit, “Hide the Wine”. She is currently working on her second album and has just released her latest single, “Closer To You”, which is climbing the charts on country music radio. Carly joins Jason Aldean on the RIDE ALL NIGHT TOUR beginning this May, following her appearance at this year’s Vidalia Onion Festival.

This year’s concert will kick off at 4 p.m. with lots of great music, including Justin Dukes and more. The concert will end the day with a fireworks show and performances by Carly Pearce and Randy Houser.

This will all take place at the Stage at City Park in downtown Vidalia Saturday, April 27th.  Advanced tickets are available online at a discounted price of $15 for the first 1,000 tickets sold at These advanced tickets are refundable if the event is cancelled due to inclement weather.  Tickets will also be available for $25 at the gate on the day of the concert.

For more information, please contact the Vidalia Convention & Visitors Bureau (912-538-8687 or

mlksigns192January 21--  The Grand Marshall of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade in Vidalia says Dr. King, if alive today, would urge conciliation from all parties to resolve the impasse in the nation's capitol.

mlkrosemillerRose Marie Rhodes-Miller heads up the Baltimore office of the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission, "I think he would be trying to talk with the Congress and with the President to have them come to some reason with respect to what's going on with this whole issue of the government shutdown.  The blame is not one person or one party, it's all of the politicians up in Washington not trying to meet with a conciliatory spirit, and that's what we need here, a conciliatory spirit."

A member of the Community Men in Action, which sponsors the parade in Vidalia, Martin Luther Wardlaw reminds us that Dr. King, for whom he is named, brought about change in a non-violent way, "He changed the country by using peace, by using non-violence, with prayer and the help of God.  He used those tools that will work, love, peace and patience."

Even though the country has changed since Dr. King's crusades in the 1960's, Luther Wardlaw believes it's still a work in progress.  "It's a shame he would have to fight the same battles today that he had to fight a long time ago and he would have to do it in every community.  It's not just the white community, or the black community, but it's all inclusive and he would be fighting the same battles in every community."

January 19-- Employees from Southern Nuclear and Georgia Power recently participated in SECCA's Lunch and Learn. 

SECCA (Southeastern Early College and Career Academy) personnel gave a tour of the career academy and made a presentation about the energy pathway that will begin in the 2018-2019 school year at SECCA.

seccagapowerLeft to right:  Shelly Smith, SECCA CEO; Greg Hudgins, Manager at Georgia Power; Cory Foskey, Southern Nuclear Engineer/Preventive Maintenance Coordinator; Billy Ring, Engineer/EFIN Team; Tyler Edenfield, Engineer/EFIN Team; Joey Jordan, Engineer/EFIN Team; Brian Jackson, Engineer/Project Manager; and David Avery, Director of High School Programs at SECCA.

January 19-- RTCA is proud to announce that five high school band students were selected to perform with the GISA All-Select Honor Band. 

Seniors Cody Masterman-Smith, Shelby Thomas, Junior Hunter Brotman, Sophomores Trey Brant, and Kaine Parham rehearsed many hours to prepare for this event.

Each player had a chair placement audition in which Sophomore Trey Brant placed 2nd out of nine other trumpet players from around the state!

Most bands have months to prepare for a concert like this; however, these students only had hours! Band Director Christina Trowell says, "she is proud of each of her students and their hard work and effort they have put into participating for this event. They are becoming such talented musicians."  


Front Row-Kaine Parham, Trey Brant, and Cody Masterman-Smith

Back Row-Shelby Thomas and Hunter Brotman

By: Sen. Blake Tillery (R – Vidalia)

The 155th convening of the Georgia General Assembly occurred Monday morning at the state capitol in Atlanta.

It was an exciting week as we inaugurated a new Governor for the first time in eight years and a new Lt. Governor for the first time in 12 years. I am honored to serve as a Governor’s Administration Floor Leader and look forward to working closely with Gov. Kemp on supporting rural Georgia initiatives including expanding broadband, ensuring we all have access to quality healthcare - not just those in the metro area of our state - and increasing opportunities for growth and job development in rural Georgia. Keeping homegrown talent in rural Georgia is crucial to our future and I’m always interested to hear your ideas on this topic.

Along with serving as a Floor Leader for Governor Kemp, I received a few “promotions” in the Senate as well. I will now serve as Vice-Chairman to my friend and Senate legend Jack Hill (R – Reidsville) on the Senate Appropriations Committee. I am eager to serve under his leadership and I am sure our budget will balance appropriate agency funding while remembering it’s not our money, but the taxpayer’s money we spend.  I will also serve on the Assignments and Reapportionment committees, both of which are extremely important to our area with the upcoming 2020 Census. I will continue to serve on the State Institutions and Property and Economic Development committees.

After the pomp and circumstance of inauguration day subsided, it was straight to work.  Governor Kemp rolled out several budget initiatives in his first “State of the State” address Thursday.  These include:

  • $69 million in school security improvement grants for all of Georgia’s 2,294 public schools;
  • $500,000 to create a GBI taskforce to combat growing gang violence;
  • $1 million for crafting healthcare flexibility options for Georgia’s Medicaid population;
  • $8.4 million to address mental health issues in Georgia high school students;
  • $480 million to ensure a $3,000 pay raise for every K-12 public school teacher as a down payment on his promise to increase to a total of $5,000

Gov. Kemp also detailed his plans to keep Georgia moving forward and to make us the number on state in which to do small business. Next week, we will complete our budget committee hearings where every department head presents recommendations and justifications for their expenditure of your tax dollars. I intend to give you a more complete breakdown of the Governor’s budget proposals then.

Locally, we’ve had a few wins early this year: a new cell tower in Alamo finally provides cell service to Wheeler County High School and surrounding areas.  We’re not where we need to be here yet, but this is a long-overdue first step.  After four years of pushing, we were also able to secure the first section of $18 million for expanding natural gas capacity for Wheeler, Montgomery, Toombs, and Treutlen Counties. This is so important because nearly every business looking to expand in or move to our area requires natural gas or propane for energy.  Public Service Commissioners Tricia Pridemore and Jason Shaw were pivotal to this accomplishment

As we start the legislative session, it’s important to remember that this seat belongs to you, I only sit in it. I truly covet your input and feedback. If you have any questions or concerns about legislation, please do not hesitate to let me know. Additionally, my website ( will soon have a survey on issues I believe may come up this session. Please log on and let me know how you feel about these topics. As always, I am more than happy to answer your questions via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone at 404-656-0089. Thanks for the opportunity to serve you.         

January 18--  Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits reports the following arrests.

Mcleod,Octavia Nicole B/F 35 YOF/ 611 Largo Dr Vidalia, GA/ Driving While License Suspended Or Revoked 2ND Offense (Misd)

Smith, Tayniesha Chivon BF 35 YOA/ 709 MLK Vidalia, GA/ Warrant Service (Toombs County Probation Violation)

Beasley,Zonnie Nichelle Jean B/F 23 YOA/ 1602 Clyde Blvd Vidalia, GA / Giving False Name ,Address, Birthdate To LE Officer (Misd)/ Willfully Obstruction Of Police Officer Simple/Verbal(Misd) / Warrant Service (Probation Violation VPD)

Singleton, Tralunda Keirra- B/F- 24 YOA- 1208 Easter Dr. Apt. 72 Vidalia, GA- Disorderly Conduct

Hester, Dewey Vincent W/M 44 YOA/ 1409 Dykes Rd Vidalia, GA/Possession Of Controlled Substance (Fel) / Theft By Shoplifting 2nd Offense (Misd) / Criminal Trespass (Misd)

Stephens, Shad Dalton W/M 18 YOA/ 7070 Shiloh Rd Hahira, GA/ Possession Of Marijuana Less Than Ounce (Misd)

Mims, Jake Morris W/M 19 YOA/ 3940 Windy Valley Dr Douglasville, GA/ Possession Of Marijuana Less Than Ounce (Misd)

Holmes, Jerome B/M 21 YOA/ 472 E Lake Dr Riverdale, GA/ Possession Of Marijuana Less Than Ounce (Misd)

Stargell, Janyah Majaya B/F 18 YOA/ 13 Oakmount Dr Newnan, GA/ Possession Of Marijuana Less Than Ounce(Misd)

Lovett, Kendra Brianna B/F 23 YOA / 301 Jerriel St Apt 48 Vidalia, GA / Simple Battery (Misd)

Powell, Rhianna Chantae B/F 24 YOA/ 809 E Fifth St Vidalia, GA/ Disorderly Conduct

Daniels, Quanayshia Daniels B/F 22 YOA/ 1203 Peacock St Vidalia, GA / Disorderly Conduct

White, Patty Lynn McManus W/F 35YOA/ 2594 Johnson Corner Rd Lyons, GA/ Theft By Shoplifting 2nd Offense

Eason, Roxanne Mcmanus W/F 33 YOA/ 178 Hill Top Rd Baxley, GA/ Theft By Shoplifting 1st Offense

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Cristina Radella, Claxton, traffic violations

Pedro Rubio, Vidalia, possession of drug related objects, open container, traffic violations

Adam Seagraves, Lyons, criminal warrant

Miriam Hester, Lyons, traffic violations

Billy Coursen, Lyons, affray, public drunkeness

Caroline Brazell, Vidalia, affray, public drunkeness

Mike Herrington, Lyons, no insurance, traffic violations

Sherman Highsmith, Lyons, public drunkeness

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

James Allen, Lyons, cruelty to children, aggravated assault

Amber Braddock, Lyons, witness tampering

Bryce Clements, Lyons, entering auto, theft by receiving stolen property

Victor Cupp, Lyons, traffic violations

Madgalen Garner, Soperton, probation violation

Tavarese Glasper, Hinesville, fleeing police, speeding

Tina Griffin, Lyons, theft by taking

Ashley Harris, Lyons, probation violation

Craig Johnson, Lyons, no insurance, traffic violations

Myeisha Joyner, Baxley, probation violation

Juan Morales, Lyons, DUI, traffic violations

Heather Patrick, Jesup, probation violation

Tyrone Polke, Lyons, loitering/prowling, possession of firearm by convicted felon/probationer, obstructing police, failure to appear

Christopher Preston, Lyons, cocaine purchase, possession, manufacturing, distribution sale

Thomas Reynolds, Reidsville, traffic violation

Sheree Sikes, Vidalia, hold for Montgomery Co

Trenton Stephens, Lyons, detain, unsigned bond

Christopher Thomas, Lyons, aggravated stalking

Nafis Wagner, Vidalia, probation violation

Sierra Wright, Vidalia, probation violation

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

01/09-Fransico Sosa-Martinez, Mt Vernon, Driving w/o License

01/13-Paul M. Jackson, Athens, Theft by Taking

January 18--  State Senator Jack Hill of Reidsville chairs the Senate Budget Committee and provides info on the state budget.


The Legislature kicked of the 2019 Session this week and the highlight, outside of the ceremonial activities, was the offering of Gov. Kemp's versions of the Amended 2019 and FY 2020 General Budgets.


Gov. Kemp's Amended FY 2109 budget increased spending 3.3%, totaling $26.933 billion.  Items of interest in the Amended Budget include:

--$68.8 million for school security grants ($30,000 per school statewide)

--$89.6 million for midterm enrollment for K-12 Schools

--$104.9 million ($33.7 million state funds) for growth in Medicaid for growth

--$18.7 million for Disproportionate Share Hospitals (DSH) for private, deemed and non-deemed hospitals for indigent care

--$18.1 million ($5.8 million state) for gene therapy coverage for Medicaid recipients

--$8.4 million in Behavioral Health for Georgia Apex Program to support counselors for mental health services in high schools

--$9.3 million to Mercer University School of Medicine to establish four year medical school campus in Columbus, GA

--$5.8 million for the Georgia Trauma Network Commission to reflect 2018 Super Speeder collections, reinstatement fees and fireworks excise tax collections

--$14.0 million in one-time funds for statewide water planning

--$5.6 million for hazardous waste cleanup activities (DNR Hazardous Waste Trust Fund)
--$1.0 million to the wildlife Endowment Fund to recognize additional lifetime sportsman's license revenues in FY 2018

--$35.7 million additional (over $14.0 million base) to repay counties and local systems through the Forestland Protection Act grant


The FY 2020 General Budget increases spending 2.3% and totals $27.544 billion with $1.249 billion in Lottery proceeds and appropriates $1.925 billion to DOT from Transportation revenues.

--$505.1 million to raise the base salary of certified teachers and certified employees by $3000

--$21.3 million to the Teachers Retirement System to meet employer contribution

--$66.9 million in lottery funds for the HOPE Scholarship for public colleges

--$10.8 million for the HOPE Scholarship for private colleges

--$9.1 million for the Zell Miller Scholarships for public colleges and $3.3 million for the Zell Miller Scholarships for private colleges

--$3.4 million for Dual Enrollment to meet projected need

--$5.1 million to cover the full cost of the scholarship for all new REACH Georgia Scholars


--$337 million for total growth in Medicaid

--$2.3 million for 112 new graduate medical education residency slots

--$500,000 for loan repayment awards for rural advanced practice registered nurses, dentists, physicians assistants, and physicians


--$10.5 million for adult mental services

--$10.2 million for crisis bed capacity

--$8.2 million to annualize cost of crisis centers in areas with greatest need

--$4.9 million for the residential treatment of adult addictive diseases


--$957,000 for 12 additional adult protective services caseworkers

--$945,000 for home-delivered meals to the elderly to reduce the waitlist


--$32.6 million for additional resurfacing projects and capital projects

--$3 million for local road and bridge resurfacing projects

-- $100 million in bonds for bridge repair/replacements statewide


-- $150 million in bonds for the replacement of election voting systems statewide

-- A commission has made recommendations on the type of equipment


-- $5.2 million in bonds for equipment for the Center for Engineering and Research at Georgia Southern

January 18--  The 70-year-old director of Hodges Funeral Home in Metter is charged with "Throwing Away or Abandonment of Dead Bodies."

The GBI charged Percy Hodges after three bodies were discovered last month in a shed on the funeral home property which was being torn down.  The remains were found in two metal containers and a casket which had been removed from the shed and taken to a scrap yard in Metter.

According to the funeral home, the bodies were put in the shed in the late 80's and early 90's awaiting funeral arrangements by family members.

The GBI says the names of the deceased are Theresa McClarin, Leroy Dixon and Mamie Fredericks.

Anyone with information on these names is asked to contact the GBI Statesboro office, 912-871-1121.

January 18--  The Fire Chief in Oak Park has been arrested for theft.

williamsonoakparkAccording to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, 39-year-old Willie Herman Williamson of Vidalia turned himself in at the Emanuel County Sheriff's Office Thursday.

On October 2, 2018, the GBI was requested by the Oak Park Police Department to investigate allegations of misuse of city fuel funds.

Oak Park Police Chief Gerald Price noticed a large amount of fuel being charged by the City of Oak Park Fire Department.

The investigation revealed that Williamson unlawfully took the City of Oak Park Fire Department fuel card and purchased fuel for his own personal use. The illegal fuel purchases occurred between April 2017 and September 2018. 

January 18--  The woman who has attracted national attention because of conditions in her breeding kennels in Montgomery County and Candler County is now facing animal cruelty charges in Montgomery County.

angelapowellmcshoFifty-one-year old Angela Powell of Ailey was charged in Candler County after Sheriff John Miles found 167 German Shepherds living in filth on January 2.  At a meeting in late December, Montgomery County Commissioners were asked to take action regarding Powell's kennel in Higgston where 91 dogs were living in mud, feces and urine.

The conditions attracted animal rights groups who converged on Higgston and Metter to examine and remove the dogs.  Three of the dogs in Candler County were in such bad shape they had to be euthanized, however, Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin says, to is knowledge, none had to be put down in Montgomery County. 

Powell was charged Monday, January 14 and Sheriff Maybin says he held off on filing charges in order not to interfere with rescue efforts, "Miss Powell had voluntarily agreed to give up the dogs to the rescue.  We didn't want to upset that process in any way.  We never promised anything about not charging her or not having any criminal charges, so while she was cooperating with the Guardians (an animal rights group for New York) we waited to get the veterinarian assessments.  We got some of that back, not all of it and we're still waiting on some of it and it may be another week or two before we get all of it, but we had enough and we wanted to go ahead and get her under bond."

Powell was released under a $2,500 bond in Montgomery County and a $10,000 bond in Candler County.

"We feel better about it because all the dogs have gotten rescued and that was our number one main goal.  All of them were checked, all of them were vetted and all of them were micro-chipped with the Guardians. The rescue went well and all of the dogs have been placed.  This problem that has been going on since 2012 or before has finally come to an end," Sheriff Maybin said.

Investigations are still going on in both Montgomery and Candler counties and officers says more charges may be filed.

January 17--  The Vidalia City Council is considering a change to its policy regarding how citizens may speak at its meetings.

Under current policy there's an item on the agenda for public discussion and any citizen may come forward with questions, comments and concerns about city operations and issues in Vidalia.

The proposed change would require a citizen to file a form identifying the topic of discussion on the Thursday preceding the Monday night council meeting.

City council member Kailey Dees says it's not an attempt to cut off debate, but rather to help the council more adequately address the needs of city residents,"It gives us an opportunity as a council to try to represent our citizens and try to answer their questions and concerns before the council meeting.  The other good thing is accountability on our part.  If we don't do our job before the Monday council meeting, bring it forth and we'll see if there's anything we can do at that point.  We are also setting into place that if it is not addressed and we have not answered the question, then it has to go to a committee for follow-up."

Former Vidalia City Councilman Kay Stafford regularly takes advantage of the public comment part of the meetings to ask questions and voice concerns, "I'm all for open transparent government.  I think the more questions asked in a public forum, the more transparency we have.  I don't have a problem with a form as long as it is simplified by using email.  If I were sitting on the council, I suppose I'd like to have a heads-up about what's coming my way.  My purpose in standing up and asking questions is seeking to understand and know the background on certain questions, but I have no problems with a form."

Meanwhile, Councilwoman Dees advises,"Just because you have a question doesn't mean you have to wait for a council meeting.  If there's something you hear that you don't like, reach out to your council person."

The council is expected to take action on the new policy at its meeting in February.

January 16--  Vidalia Fire Chief Brian Sikes reports 25 calls during the month of December.

1- House Fire 

1- Building Fire 

3- Automobile Fires 

5- Automobile Accidents 

3- Gas Leaks 

7- False Alarms 

2- Medical Assists 

3- Miscellaneous 

January16--  Vidalia police are investigating the death of a 23-year-old Vidalia man.

According to police, James Price died Wednesday morning at a Savannah hospital after being shot late Tuesday afternoon at his residence at 911-A Georgia Street.

When Detective Randy Holcomb arrived at the scene, he observed 39-year-old Michael Madison standing in front of the residence.  Madison said he had heard his daughter, 18-year-old Courtney Madison and Price, her boyfriend, fighting inside the house.  He told police he kicked in the front door and that Price pointed a gun at him and fired.  Madison fired his own gun back at Price who police found laying on the floor, but conscious and speaking.  He was taken to Meadows Regional Medical Center in Vidalia and later airlifted to Savannah.

Police say a chrome pistol and a spent shell casing were found on the floor near Price.

Michael Madison was taken to the Vidalia Police Department for questioning. 

Police Chief Frank Waits says the case is under investigation.

January 16-- Senator Blake Tillery of Vidalia has been named to serve as Vice-Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and to serve on several influential committees for the 2019 Legislative Session by the Senate Committee on Assignments.

“I am humbled and excited about the opportunity to serve as Vice-Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee,” said Senator Tillery. “Passing a balanced budget is our body’s only constitutional obligation and arguably the most important as it controls everything from how much our teachers are paid, to which state properties gets a new roof. I hope that serving on this committee under the leadership of Senator Jack Hill from Reidsville will give me an opportunity to learn from one of the best teachers on what true fiscal responsibility looks like.”

In addition to serving as Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Tillery will serve as Vice-Chairman of the Senate State Institutions and Properties Committee, and will serve as a member of the Judiciary, Assignments and Economic Development committees.

“The Senate Committee on Assignments put great thought into our Chair - and Vice Chair - assignments,” said Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan. “Vice Chairs hold an important position in the committee leadership structure and we have assembled an incredibly prepared group of leaders - including Senator Tillery - who are ready to get to work for our state.”

The first session of the 155th Georgia General Assembly convened on Monday  at the Georgia State Capitol.

January 16--  The newest Justice on the Georgia Supreme Court was sworn in by Governor Nathan Deal in December. 


Justice John Ellington of Soperton accepts a Supreme Court gavel from the Governor following the oath of office at the state capitol. 

Justice Ellington served on the Georgia Court of Appeals prior to his election to the Georgia Supreme Court last November.

January 16-- Alan Kent, Meadows Health President & CEO, was awarded the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) Senior-Level Healthcare Executive Award.

Jay Dennard Jr. FACHE, Regent for Georgia, presented Kent with the award at a meeting in Macon,  “Alan is a true example of exemplary leadership as demonstrated by his deep commitment to consistently having patients at the center of all decision making,” Dennard commented. “It is a privilege and honor to be Alan’s friend and colleague.”

alankentKent has been President & CEO of Meadows Health since January 2000. He serves on many community organizations, including as a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives Georgia Regents Advisory Council; chairman of the Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) Advisory Committee of Georgia Southern University; board member of the Georgia Health Information Network; and a member of the Board of Trustees for the Georgia Hospital Association.

A Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, Kent earned his Doctor of Health Administration from the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, S.C. and his Master of Health Administration from Georgia State University in Atlanta. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Health Systems from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.

Criteria for the ACHE Senior-Level Award include: Fellow of ACHE, a CEO, COO, or other senior-level executive within the organization, demonstration of leadership ability, demonstration of innovative and creative management, executive capable in developing his or her organization and promoting its growth and stature in the community, contributions to the development of others in the healthcare profession, demonstration of leadership in local, state, or provincial hospital and health association activities, participation in civic/community activities and projects, and demonstration of participation in ACHE activities and interest in assisting ACHE in achieving its objectives.

January 15--  The Toombs County Board of Education has decided on a school superintendent.

barrywallerLast June Barry Waller was named the interim superintendent and this month the board selected him for the job on a permanent basis, according to School Board Chairman Clint Williams, "It was basically his work ethic.  He's put a lot of hard work into doing what superintendents should be doing and done an excellent job.  He's incorporated a lot of things to bring notice to our kids and faculty who are doing good.  As a board there wasn't even a second thought and it was unanimous to go ahead and make him superintendent.

"He's a hometown fellow and his family has been right here in Lyons and it's just a good fit for us.  It's not the easiest thing to be a boss to friends and family, but I think he's going to do a good job at it," Williams said.

Waller thanked the board for its confidence, "I feel very blessed they have confidence in me.  In this short amount of time we've made some progress on things and anytime you do that and work collaboratively with people to do it, then good things can happen.  This being my hometown, I'm humbled by it, but also I know it's a great challenge.  I'm just excited about going forward and continuing the great things going on in our school system."

The new super feels his past experience in the school system is a plus for the future, "I've worked with some great folks who I've learned from over the years. I think that's been able to help me in this position.  As far as our school system goes, with the things we have planned, just the familiarity with people does help to sit down across the table and create a vision for what has to be done to move our school system forward," he says.

January 15--  Treutlen County Magistrate Judge T.J. Hudson says Monday was one of the "best days of my life" when he administered the oath of office to Georgia Governor Brian Kemp at McCammish Pavilion on the campus of Georgia Tech in Atlanta.



lisachesserJanuary 15--  This month's edition of "Georgia's Cities, published by the Georgia Municipal Association, contains an article authored by city council member Lisa Chesser on initiatives taken by the Vidalia Police Department to serve the community.  

Here's the story.

"The Vidalia Police Department has developed service and education programs for our citizens over the past several years.

“Are You Okay?” is a program designed for elderly citizens who live alone, suffer from serious health issues, or are disabled. The program began in 2006 and currently serves approximately 40 citizens. To be placed on the call list, citizens simply subscribe and indicate how many days per week they would like to be called. A call is placed to the resident and if there is no answer, a second call is made. If the second call is not answered, an officer goes to the residence to make personal contact with the citizen. This health and safety program provides an invaluable service not only to our elderly citizens, but also their children and other family members who, often times, live hours away.

"Our police department also conducts a Citizens Police Academy annually. This 11-week course educates attendees on various topics such as police officer hiring process, patrol operations, elder abuse and family violence, driving and firearm simulator training, criminal investigations and ethics and cultural diversity. The department will conduct its fifth class beginning May 2019.

"Another valuable course taught by the officers of Vidalia Police Department is a Women’s Firearm Safety training class. Attendees in the course are required to go through an application and background check process, must have a valid carry permit, own a firearm and provide ammunition. Two sessions are spent in the classroom and the last two sessions are spent on the firing range where attendees receive rigorous instruction on proper safety handling and firing techniques.

"All of these programs are offered free of charge! Vidalia Police officers willingly provide these programs to serve and educate the public, and more importantly, they embrace opportunity to be involved and build relationships with citizens in our community. The programs have received nothing but positive feedback from attendees. We are proud of the men and women who serve our city."

January 15-- Angus is a four-year-old boy waiting for a home at the Vidalia Animal Shelter.  Manager April Braddy says he's been at the shelter for more than a year and is patiently waiting for a forever family.  She describes him as gentle and good with other animals and people alike. 

angusFor information on Angus, call April at 537-8866. 

This announcement is brought to you by Altamaha Animal Clinic on Commerce Way near STC in Vidalia.

January 14-- Congratulations to the Vidalia students who attended Georgia Music Educators Association District One Honor Chorus at The Yamacraw Center for the Performing Arts last weekend!

These students proved their excellence in local auditions and were selected to participate in the clinic in Savannah for two grueling days of rehearsal culminating in a wonderful performance for their parents and peers.


J. R. Trippe Middle School District Honor Chorus Singers L-R: Landry Wheeler, LaLane Angeles, Ariel Paul, Andrew Davis, Micah Davis-Brown, Ethan Chambers, Autumn Harris, Joel Munoz-Rosa, Jaquan Johnson, Amy Palma, Emilie Greenwald, Ja’via Walton.


Vidalia Comprehensive High School District Honor Chorus Singers L-R: First Row: Walker Wheeler, Makenna Rakes, Joy McCullough, Angel Humphrey, Cheylyn Cowart, Makynna Beasley, Bryanna Beasley. Second Row: Landon Lindsay, Landon Miller, Kaylie Gunter, Emma Braddy, Angel Jackson, Miguel Cruz.

According to Music Director John Morgan, these students rehearsed for several weeks on the difficult and unfamiliar repertoire for the event, and represented our schools well in both their discipline and musical skills under the batons of master conductors. The concerts were thrilling, and many choral parents attended the event.

Mr. Morgan congratulates the students and thanks the parents, chaperones, Principals John Sharpe and Dr. Sandy Reid, and the Vidalia City School System Board of Education for allowing these students to attend this memorable event.

January 14--  A big challenge facing the Toombs County Board of Commissioners in 2019 is what to do about overcrowding at the county courthouse and jail.

davidsikesAccording to Commission Chairman David Sikes, "It's come to a head.  We're out of space.  We have about 20,000 square feet in our courthouse and the feasibility study we commissioned in 2018 came back and said we need 60,000 square feet."  There's also the issue of a 1960's vintage heating and air system in the courthouse basement, "It's an underground system and I don't how it has continued to run, but to replace it would be a million dollars.  That's just not feasible for us to do in a courthouse we need to replace."

The county jail is also overcrowded and has the Commission looking at options, "We actually have six options, three for the courthouse and three for expanding the jail.  The issue we have to look at is what's the best way to pay for it.  Expansions cost money and we don't want to burden the taxpayers any more than they're already burdened.  We're going to work hard at that and see what we can do to practically pay for this," the chairman said.

In 2018 Chairman Sikes reports a number of projects were completed while at the same time balancing the county budget, "One of the things I'm most proud about this past year is another balanced budget.  We were able to lower the millage rate and still have a balanced budget and I commend the Commissioners for the job they've done and continue to do.  We've got a new addition to the board, Tommy Rollins, who is an extremely business-minded and people-minded man, and we're glad to have him on board.  I feel he is going to be great."

Among 2018 accomplishments:

* Completion of a new public works building and removal of the old building near the courthouse to make space for more parking.

* A new park was built in Normantown.

* Improvements were made to the county Recreation Department football and softball grounds and parking area near Toombs Central.

* A third of the Sheriff's Department vehicle fleet was replaced.

* Pendleton Creek Road and the Bud Jordan Road were paved, the Lyons-Center Road was widened and 25% of the paved roads in the county were re-striped.

* A new ambulance was placed in service for the county EMS and four transport ventilators were purchased for the ambulances.

* Joined the cities in initiating a comprehensive transportation study in order to develop a long term transportation plan for the county.

January 12--  Five people are under arrest in connection with recent thefts in Toombs County.

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight says the arrests follow an extensive investigation by his office into numerous burglaries and entering auto cases over the past several months.

He identifies those arrested as 36-year-old Ashley Wade Barron of Vidalia, 21-year-old Anthony Markaza Mincey, Jr. of Vidalia, 21-year-old Dewey Ottis Altman, IV of Vidalia, 19-year-old Landon Bobby of Vidalia and 18-year-old Bryce McKinley Clements of Lyons.


Charges resulting from the investigation include seven counts of burglary, five counts of entering an auto, 17 counts of receiving stolen property, three counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and three counts of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute.

Sheriff Kight reports the recovery of multiple firearms, hunting equipment, an ATV, various electronics, marijuana and cocaine.

The investigation continues and more charges are expected.  Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff"s Office, 912-526-6778 or the non-emergency 911 line at 912-526-9292.

January 11-- Georgia’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Advisory Council announces that the state’s 2019 Martin Luther King, Jr. tribute program will be held at the Georgia State Capitol on Friday, January 18, 2019. 

This annual celebration of the life, legacy and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. will begin at 12:00 noon. 

Governor Brian Kemp and Dr. Bernice King are scheduled to offer remarks during the program. The keynote address will be given by former Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin. 

This event is free and open to the public, however, seating is limited.

January 10--  The Montgomery County Development Authority has been operating with too many members since 1994 and the County Commission plans to fix it.

The Development Authority has nine members but should only have five in order to comply with the local constitutional act which established the Authority in 1966.  The county erroneously revised the act in 1994 to expand membership.

At a working session Thursday night, board attorney Paul Cook said the board's alternatives are to repeal the 1966 act or to remove four members from the Authority.  The original act authorized the County Commission to appoint a member from each of the county's four militia districts and one countywide representative.

Commission members are expected to decide how to get back into compliance with the law at their regularly scheduled monthly meeting Monday night.

January 10--  State Senator Blake Tillery of Vidalia has spent a lot of time in Atlanta since being named Governor-elect Brian Kemp's floor leader and he says the new governor is focusing on the things he promised during the campaign:  healthcare, education, rural economic development, jobs and putting Georgia first.

tillerypatTillery was introduced Wednesday by Chamber President Pat Dixon at a pre-legislative preview luncheon sponsored by the Toombs-Montgomery Chamber of Commerce.  State Representative Greg Morris was unable to attend due to illness.

Education:  Gangs and school safety will be addressed and so will options for parents whose kids are trapped in under performing school systems like Clayton County.  He would like to find a middle ground on school calendars and says he's heard from both sides on a legislative study recommending school start closer to Labor Day and end in early June.

Healthcare:  The state can't afford the long term costs of funding Medicaid.  Senator Tillery notes Medicaid rolls continue to rise even at a time of the state's lowest unemployment levels in decades.  He expects the Senate to search for alternatives and says the middle class is getting shafted by health insurance costs.

Rural Economic Development:  He noted how most of the state population now lives in North Georgia and re-stated Governor-elect Kemp's commitment to the rural areas of the state which put him in office.  Senator Tillery expects several bills to come out of the Senate regarding provision of high speed Broadband internet service to bolster economic development in rural Georgia.  He mentioned possible involvement by the state's Electric Membership Cooperatives to extend the service much as they did last century to bring electricity to the hinterlands.

During a question and answer session, Senator Tillery predicted the continued four-laning of U.S. Highway One in Toombs County will slip from 2019 to 2021, not because of funding, but because of the time it takes to acquire right of way and other issues related to a project of that scope.

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight said prisoners are being released unprepared for jobs and a return to society and reiterated his long-held concern about inadequate mental health services in the state.

Others recommended more state agencies be relocated to rural areas and expressed concerns about young people moving away.  Senator Tillery said we need to understand the mindset of millennials when it comes to jobs and careers and how they are motivated more by lifestyle than by money.

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

Lovett, Tierica B/F 22 YOA 196 Second St Soperton, GA / Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense, Give False Name, Address, Birthdate to LEO

Ricks, Shamaree B/F 17 YOA 196 Second St Soperton, GA / Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense, Give False Name, Address, Birthdate to LEO

Ojeda, Sergio Nahuaca H/M 36 YOA 503 Peachtree St Vidalia, GA/ No Driver’s License (30 Day Resident Requirement)/ Tail Light and Tag Light Requirements

Williamson, Teresa Michelle W/F 33 YOA 707 ½ W Second St Vidalia, GA/ Possession of a Controlled Substance/ Possession Of Drug Related Objects/ Possession of Marijuana Less than Ounce/ Give False Name, Address, Birthdate to LE Officer/ Warrant Service (Toombs County SO- Probation)/Glynn County SO- Probation)

Jackson, Deron Malik B/M 22 YOA/ 179 Geiger St Mt Vernon, GA/ Possession of Marijuana Less than Ounce

Villalobos, Kaiulani Heather W/F 27 YOA/ 2044 Hwy 86 E Lyons, GA/ Warrant Service (VPD)

Hammonds, Howard Verdine B/M 48 YOA / 204 E First St Rm 31 Vidalia, GA / Disorderly Conduct (Misd)

Kersey, Justin Lyle W/M 25 YOA 214 Davis Rd Vidalia, Ga 30474/ Theft By Shoplifting 3rd Offense

Conner, Jaymie Lynn- W/F- 33 YOA- 1336 Woodlawn Cir. Vidalia, GA- Failure to Maintain Lane, DUI-1st Offense

Childs, Michael Stanley- W/M- 17 YOA- 141-2 C.W. Driggers Rd. Lyons, GA- No Driver’s License

Walton, Dymonia Chanae- B/F- 21 YOA- 1208 Easter DR. Apt. 38 Vidalia, GA- DUI-1st Offense/Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (First)

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Cami Childs, Lyons, possession of drug related objects\

Timothy Leggett, Vidalia, DUI, disorderly conduct

Justin McDaniel, Cobbtown, DUI, possession of methamphetamine, giving false info to officer, traffic violations

Brandi Porter, Broxton, traffic violations

Faith Rolle, Mount Vernon, traffic violation

Tammy Manuel, Lyons, traffic violations

Jerry Rouse, Vidalia, DUI, traffic violations

Benjamin Rubio, Dublin, DUI, traffic violations

Jordan Crosby, Lyons, possession of marijuana and drug related objects

Christy Harden, Metter, possession of drug related objects

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Stacy Allen, Uvalda, child support pickup order

Tivean Ashley, Lyons, possession of marijuana, traffic violations

Daron Berry, Sr., Reidsville, DUI, possession of marijuana, probation violation, traffic violations

Ricky Burkett, Uvalda, probation violation

Christopher Conner, Adrian, criminal trespass

Julie Davis, Uvalda, criminal trespass

Floyd Guthrie, Vidalia, simple battery

Sara Guthrie, Vidalia, simple battery

Travis Lamoy, Uvalda, obstructing police

Culley Mincey, Morrow, aggravated battery

David Stone, Santa Claus, criminal trespass, entering automobile, possession of firearm by convicted felon/probationer

Cardell Sweat, Uvalda, criminal trespass

Haylie Wilkerson, Adrian, possession of marijuana, criminal trespass, possession of drug related objects

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

01/02-Julie Michelle Davis-Floyd, Uvalda, Wheeler County Warrant Served

01/02-Cardell Sweat, Lyons, Felony Probation Violation

01/02-Brandon Kyle Durden, Fitzgerald, DUI/Drugs

01/04-Olivia Taylor McCoy, Tarrytown, Cruelty to Children -1st

01/04-Jetuiin McLeod, Mt Vernon, Felony Probation Violation

01/04-Donnie Ralph Powell, Mt Vernon, Felony Probation Violation

01/04-Steve Arthur Galbreath, Vidalia, Failure to Maintain Lane, DUI/Drugs

01/05-John Markham Goode, Vidalia, Simple Battery (Family Violence)

01/05-Deidra Nicole Alvarado, Adrian, Felony Probation Violation

January 9--  The Montgomery County school board held a called meeting Tuesday night and re-elected leaders of the school board.

Incumbent Chairman Dr. Jim Paul Poole was nominated for another term by school board member Pete Ward while incumbent vice-chairman Henry Price was nominated for chairman by new school board member Debra Gay.

Dr. Poole was re-elected on a 3-2 vote with votes from board members Pete Ward and Susan Beard.  Mr. Price was re-elected vice-chairman unanimously.

School Superintendent Hugh Kight updated the board on the first days of school in the new Montgomery County Middle-High School which started Friday, January 4.

The board holds its monthly meeting Monday night, January 14 at six p.m.

January 9-- On Tuesday the GBI arrested 49-year-old John Vernon Welch of Lyons on six counts of child molestation and two counts of aggravated child molestation. 

johnwelchOn October 5, 2018, the GBI was requested by the Emanuel County Sheriff’s Office to investigate an allegation made against Welch of sexual assault against a minor. The investigation revealed that Welch engaged in sexual acts with multiple underage females on numerous occasions. As a result, Welch was arrested and booked in to the Emanuel County Jail without incident.

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight says Welch lives off U.S. Highway One north of Lyons just inside the Emanuel County line and that his office referred the case to Emanuel County when he learned of the allegations against Welch.

The GBI investigation is active and ongoing with possible additional charges.

Anyone with information in this case is asked to call the GBI Eastman Office at 478-374-6988 or the Emanuel County Sheriff’s Office at 478-237-7526.  

January 8--  People ages 12 and up who are sexually molested now have a place to go for help in Vidalia.


Ribbon-cutting for the new Refuge Sexual Assault Center was held Tuesday morning at 605 Jackson Street through a partnership between the Refuge Domestic Violence Shelter in Toombs County and the Haven Battered Women's Shelter in Valdosta.

The Haven's Executive Director Michelle Girtman says the Center will primarily serve victims of sexual assault in Toombs, Emanuel, Treutlen, Montgomery and Wheeler Counties, "We're going to have a nurse here 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with a 45-minute response time.  Not only are we going to provide a service, we are going to be able to provide a quality service accurately and in a timely manner.  A rape victim will have somewhere to go that just concentrates on what's going on in their life and what their need is and to help law enforcement make the investigative process go faster.  That's a big help to not only victims but also to law enforcement and prosecution at the District Attorney's office."

Middle Judicial Circuit District Attorney Hayward Altman says the Center will provide critical evidence for use in court, "Without them, the case can't go forward.  It's extremely important to provide a safe area for the victim.  The experts here can actually do the investigation and give us a good case we can prosecute in the courtroom."

Start-up funding for the Center is being provided through the Georgia Criminal Justice Coordinating Council.  Deputy Director Steven Hatfield says one of the Council's goals is to provide resources to under-served rural areas of the state and he hopes the Center will encourage victims to report sexual assaults,"I think it's something that's very under-reported and something we need to do a better job as a state and nation in getting that outreach out there.  People need to understand this is a problem and there are safe places life the Refuge.  This will be our 23rd state-funded sexual assault center in the state of Georgia.  It's something where we need more education and more advocacy.  There's never enough, but this is a great step forward for this area in Vidalia."

January 8--  The City of Lyons hopes 2019 brings increased wastewater treatment capacity to benefit growth at the Toombs Corporate Center on U.S. Highway One north of town.

willisnesmith2Mayor Willis NeSmith says four companies are competing for the multi-million dollar project,"We're going forward with our wastewater treatment plants.  We've gone through it with the teams and I'd say by February we'll come down to one team and be able to start doing some things on that."

This past year Lyons was able to make more improvements at Partin Park, "We did a Lyons Environmental and Educational Trail and built a pavilion along with that so we've got more walking trails out there now," and in the new year the mayor says improvements will be made at Faison Park, "That's going to be a real big work in process with a lot of phases and hopefully we'll have a lot more to add over that way."

Mayor NeSmith believes 2019 will be the year that Toombs County's first traffic roundabout will be installed,"It's going to be at the crossroads of Highway 292 and Oxley Drive.  It will save us money instead of putting a red light there and it does keep the traffic flowing constantly all four ways."

He's also encouraged about an increase in private investment downtown and says the city is considering some more downtown parking, "The downtown has been growing and we've had a couple of new businesses to open up.  The problem we're having now is parking which is a good problem to have.  We're working on that and expect to do some paving behind our Main Street office so we'll have more parking spaces back there some time this year."

January 7-- Congratulations to Jackie Alexander (left), the lucky winner of the $10,000 Lyons Lions Club Raffle held on December 22 at the Gazebo in downtown Lyons!

lions10kThe fundraiser chaired by Lion Wallace Gordy (right) was successful and raised enough money to enable the club to purchase a device that will enable them to do vision screenings for children in the area schools.  The hand-held device helps detects vision problems in people of all ages and, unlike old style devices, doesn't require children to read letters or symbols.

Statistics show that young children with vision issues do not know that the way they see is not the way everyone else sees. Without early detection and treatment, vision problems can lead to learning difficulties and even permanent vision loss.   Vision screenings do not replace the need for an eye doctor, as only they can diagnose and treat vision problems, but the screenings help determine which children need to see an eye doctor.

The members of the Lyons Lions Club extends its thanks to all the people in the community who purchased a ticket and to Lion Wallace Gordy who served as the chairman of this fundraising event.

January 7--  After completing a couple of multi-million dollar projects in 2018, Vidalia Mayor Ronnie Dixon expects a less stressful pace for the city in the new year.

"We had a really good year.  We completed the Pal Theater and had two or three big projects we were working on.  We had paving projects including Mose Coleman Road, Michael Collins Road, Airport Road and Miracle Lane we completed in 2018.  We had the aquatic center completed which is a very nice addition to our city.  We're hoping 2019 is going to be a little bit less on us.  We had a lot of sales tax dollars which were spent on these projects and we're glad to have those completed," the Mayor said.

On the agenda in 2019, "We'll be resurfacing several roads around town and we're expecting an infrastructure project on water and sewage in the Bay Street area which will be approximately $1.2 million.  We are also planning on having a grand opening for the Pal Theater sometime in January or February," he said.

A big unknown when it comes to city budgeting is the cost of healthcare.  The city self-insures employees for the most part and the mayor says it's a moving target every year.  Otherwise, he's happy with the city's financial status, "We're getting back in a good sound financial situation and I think moving forward we're going to be in really good shape."

January 5--  State Senator Jack Hill of Reidsville provides a preview of the 2019 Georgia General Assembly.


As we enter the 2019 Session of the General Assembly, there is a certain air of anticipation due to the changes brought about by the recent elections, bringing new leadership for our state in Governor-Elect Brian Kemp.  Here in the Senate, there is a new Lt. Governor, Geoff Duncan and a new Majority Leader, Mike Dugan.

In the Senate, we have five new members, two Republicans and three Democrats.  The Committee on Assignments has already started meeting to make committee assignments and name chairmen.

No one can define with certainty the major issues that will come up this Session, but there are some that are carry-overs from previous years or were campaign issues that will draw attention from newly elected or re-elected legislators.  So here is a first review of possible issues for debate and/or action in 2019.


I would expect one of the first acts of the Legislature in 2019 will be the passing of legislation implementing the income tax cut passed in 2018 reducing the top rate from 6.00% to 5.75%.  The doubling of the personal deductions has already gone into effect and will be reflected in tax returns that taxpayers will file for the 2018 tax year.


Broadband coverage is the one issue that affects the entire state and yet is hard to get your arms around.  For sure, there are federal funds to be directed, there are private investment funds that will be expended in more populous areas and there will be state funds generated to jump start these initiatives in the coming year.  Broadband is the central obstacle to economic development in rural areas.


When Gov. Deal allowed agencies to submit appropriations requests to OPB for up to 2% increases, they promptly accumulated some $600 million in requests for increases and formula funding.  At the same time, there is a general feeling among state leaders that some sort of pay increase for state employees is in order considering the state of the economy and the fact that no raises were given last year to employees or teachers.

Promises were made to teachers during the campaign and a substantial raise is a popular thing.  From this viewpoint, though, it is impossible to add up all of the pay raises proposed on top of the agency requests and approach anything like what state revenues will produce.


The recently passed federal Farm Bill legalized federally the growing of hemp (plant with no more than 0.3% THC). There are restrictions which lean heavily on state action legalizing and licensing growers. Hemp is the fiber of the cannabis plant, not used for drugs but in rope, stout fabrics, fiberboard, and paper.  I thought I also saw a House Study Committee come out with a report encouraging a trial program for the production of hemp.  Any movement on growing hemp would require legislation.


A bigger issue than one paragraph will cover.  A lot of attention is being paid to try to find a comfort zone that would increase services for those not presently covered by Medicaid.  Presently state funds expenditures for Georgia's Medicaid system totals $3.081 billion, which amounts to almost $300 for every man, woman and child in the state in taxes.  The House will be looking at the Certificate of Need law on hospital expansion.


There appears to be wide support for expanding the Rural Hospital Tax Credit cap from $70 million to possibly $100 million.  The Governor-elect mentioned it in his remarks to legislators at the Biennial in December.


Not sure of specifics, but there will continue to be efforts by breweries to sell product brewed on site to consumers for home consumption.  Breweries have proven to be good citizens and their cause has picked up steam.


It appears to me, at least from the answers to my questionnaire every year, that casinos are gaining in popularity.  We'll poll it again this year.  My personal reservations have to do with the ill effects I believe casinos would have on the state lottery which generates over $1 billion yearly for Pre-K, the HOPE Grant and the HOPE Scholarship. 


A lot has been said and printed about voting machines in the past few years although they have proven to be secure.  The Commission set up by the Secretary of State will be issuing its report soon and there will probably be a recommendation on updating voting machines.  Of course the real question is who is going to pay for what could be a two hundred million dollar expenditure.  There should be some federal funding, but not assured. My question is: "Why should the state bear the majority of the cost. Shouldn't local governments share the cost?"

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

Harris, Marquevous Dequan B/M 22 YOA/ 700 NE Main St Vidalia, GA/ Possession Of Marijuana Less Than Ounce/ Battery

Page, Jacob Chance W/M 20 YOM/ 608 Ogden Ave Clearfield, PA/ Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (First)

Davis, Zeary Devontae- B/M- 25 YOA- 291 Otis Willis Rd. Lot 3 Vidalia, GA- Failure to Obey Stop/Yeild Sign/ Hit & Run- Property Damage or Injury-Fail to Stop, Leave Scene/Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (Second)/Bench Warrant (Driving While License Suspended or Revoked, Open Container, Possession of Marijuana Less Than Ounce)

Farmer, James Edward Jr. - B/M- 57 YOA- 406 Symonds St. Vidalia, GA- Tail Light and Tag Light Requirements, Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (First)

Campbell, Amy- W/F- 41 YOA- 5021 Avenue B. Saint Augustine, FL- Pedestrian Under the Influence

Showalter, Johnathan- W/M- 36 YOA- 3501 MB Ponce De Leon Blvd. Saint Augustine, FL- Pedestrian Under the Influence

Wooten, Yvonne B/F 44 YOA/ 810 E. Fifth St Vidalia, GA/ Exploitation and Intimidation of Disabled Adults, Elder Persons and Residents; Obstruction of Investigation (FVA)

Smith, Michael Terrel B/M 35 YOA/ 920 N Circle Dr Vidalia, GA/ Criminal Trespass

Mosley, Casey Elizabeth W/F 27 YOA/ 1070 Carl Dasher Road Glennville, GA / Expired Tag, Improper Lane Change, Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (Second)

Taylor, Angela Denise W/F 40 YOA 2631 HWY 15 S. Vidalia, GA/ Warrant Served (Toombs Co SO- State Probation)

Jenkins, Beverly Michelle W/F 41 YOA/ 212 Ben Roy McLendon Rd Lyons, GA/ Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (Second)/ Improper Use of Center Turn Lane/Warrant Served (Toombs Co SO- Bench)

Powell, Joshua Lynn- W/M- 37 YOA- 2698 Thompson Pond Rd. Tarrytown, GA- Theft of Lost or Mislaid Property (State Warrant)

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Paulina Ybarra, Lyons, Disorderly Conduct, obstruction of police

Ashley Barron, Lyons, DUI, traffic violations, no insurance, giving false info to officer, child endangerment

Heaher Anderson, Collins, possession of marijuana and drug related objects

Steven Sanchez, Lyons, criminal warrant

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Christina Boyles, Lyons, theft by receiving stolen vehicle

Joel Cannady, Reidsville, probation viiolation

Lazaro Chappotin, Baxley, DUI, traffic violation

Samantha Deen, Uvalda, driving while license suspended/revoked

Ibrahima Diakhoumpa, Forest Park, driving while license suspended/revoked, taillights

Julie Garcia, Lyons, child truancy, traffic violation

Anthony Gutherie, Reidsville, hold for Tattnall Co Sheriff

Lucas Oliver, Vidalia, DUI, controlled substance, traffic violations

Joshua Powell, Tarrytown, theft of lost or mislaid property

William Tant, Lyons, parole violation, theft by receiving stolen vehicle

Tamika Tukes, Vidalia, theft by receiving stolen property, possession of firearm by convicted felon/probationer, driving while license suspended/revoked

Sandra Williams, Lyons, harassing phone calls, impersonating a public officer or employee

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

12/26-Bryan Dewayne Cronan, Vidalia, Failure to Renew Registration (Sex Offender)

12/27-Hozie Cannida, Hephzibah, Felony Probation Violation

12/29-David Flores Betancourt, Mt Vernon, Driving w/Suspended License

January 4--  Two people were killed early this morning in a Toombs County wreck.

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports two vehicles collided head-on on Highway 297 north of Vidalia near the intersection with Mosley Road at approximately 5:42 a.m.

The Sheriff reports 55-year-old Lonnie Gary Vasser of Vidalia was traveling north on his way to work in Swainsboro when his SUV collided with a SUV heading south driven by 29-year-old Shaquanna Renee Boynton of Swainsboro who was enroute to her job in Vidalia.

wreck2wreck3Both were killed instantly and Toombs County EMA was called to the scene to remove victims from their vehicles.

An investigation of the accident is being conducted by the Toombs County Sheriff's Office and the Georgia State Patrol.

January 4-- Twelfth District U.S. Congressman Rick W. Allen  issued a statement today after the House of Representatives convened to officially mark the start of the first legislative session of the 116th Congress.

Congressman Allen was sworn in this afternoon, beginning his third term as the Representative for Georgia’s 12th Congressional District.

“I am deeply humbled and grateful for the opportunity to continue representing the great people of Georgia’s 12th district in the People’s House,” said Congressman Allen. “We have many pressing issues before the 116th Congress, and I am hopeful that we can build upon some the significant accomplishments we’ve made over the last two years working hand in hand with the Senate and Trump Administration.

Under a new majority in the House, it is imperative that we set our differences aside, work together, and continue to put America first. I will remain a strong voice and will fight for Georgia-12 priorities and I am eager to see what the 116th Congress may bring.” 

January 4-- Every year a child has the chance to be recognized as the first born baby of the New Year.


This year that baby is Mariah Deonia Jones, born Tuesday, Jan. 1, at 6:35 p.m. at Meadows Regional Medical Center in Vidalia.

Mariah weighed in at 6 pounds, 4 ounces and is 19 inches long.

Her parents, Michelle Jones and Marciano Kirkland of Swainsboro, are overjoyed by the safe arrival of Mariah.

January 4--  A woman who breeds German Shepherds in Montgomery and Candler Counties is charged with animal cruelty.

angelapowellAccording to the Candler County Sheriff's Office, Angela Powell turned herself in Wednesday night and was booked in the county jail in Metter.

She moved some of her dogs to Candler County last year after complaints from family and community members about the overcrowding, smell and noise created by hundreds of dogs confined to her kennel in Higgston.

The issue was brought to the attention of the Montgomery County Commission at a meeting last week, however, the county has no jurisdiction in the City of Higgston and Higgston Mayor Donna Powell, sister of the jailed woman, says Higgston has no enforcement officer to enforce violations.

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin has met with state officials regarding conditions at the kennel in Higgston, "What we're working toward is to get these dogs to a better place and then we'll deal with the rest of it."

A New York animal rescue group, the Guardians of Rescue, is working to get the dogs relocated, "There may be some sick dogs out there, but that's what the Guardians are coming in to do an assessment for before we move them out of here.  They want to see which ones are sick, which ones may be hurt or if there are any aggressive dogs so they can handle with them with the different types of rescues," Sheriff Maybin said.

"I think we're coming to a point where we will get all the dogs or a majority of the dogs out of that situation.  I don't think she has a license from the Department of Agriculture to get back in the breeding business again.  That's one thing I'd like to make sure of is that she can't get back in business again, if possible.  I've got to go by what the law does and what the law says and I'm going to do everything in my power to do that," he noted.