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October 31--  The two elementary schools in the Toombs County school system have the best performance ratings this year among elementary schools in the immediate area.

Toombs Central Elementary has a performance rating of 82.5 which is five points higher than the state average while Lyons Upper Elementary School improved its rating more than eleven points over last year for a 75.1 rating.

Toombs Central Principal Tonawanda Irie says the school is maintaining the standard it set last year," Once again it's just consistency of practice, great community support and support from our county office.We just continue the course.  We look at the data, we make adjustments and we just keep moving forward. Regardless of the kids who walk through those doors, we stay the course.  We've maintained a "B" for many years and we're very proud of that."

At Lyons Upper Elementary, Principal Tabitha Nobles credits the school's rebound to a combination of hard work and prayer, "There are kids who need us and kids who have deficits that we want to address.  We want to help the whole child and put it in God's hands.  We all pull together, analyze the data and see what our students need moving forward.  One thing we all agreed on was that we would continue to give our students the best and hand those results over to God.  Our big push here is to pray daily that God is going to guide us with what our students need.  We really believe that the big difference is that we've handed it over and we're really blessed."

Primary schools in both Toombs and Vidalia saw significant improvements in their ratings this year and there's more to come on that in a future report.

October 31 -- Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals Honors Outstanding Community Contributions
(Greensboro, GA) – Dr. Alan Kent of Meadows Regional Medical Center was named 2019 CEO of the Year by the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals (the Alliance) at its 36th Annual Conference, held on October 16-18, 2019.
GA Alliance 2 3The Alliance annual awards highlight the impact of member not-for-profit hospitals and their executive leadership on individual patients, the health and wellness of Georgians, and the quality of life of their communities. Dr. Kent is recognized by his colleagues as an executive leader who has expanded and improved the services provided to his community and garnered industry accolades for Meadows Regional Medical Center.
Dr. Alan Kent has served as President of Meadows Regional Medical Center since 2000, having previously served in leadership in hospitals in Alabama, Florida, Virginia, and Newnan, Georgia. He is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.
Dr. Kent is also heavily involved in his community and our industry, including on the ACHE Georgia Regents Advisory Council, as Chairman of the Master of Healthcare Administration (“MHA”) Advisory Committee at Georgia Southern University, and on the board of the Georgia Health Information Network. He has also served on the Board of Southeastern Technical College as a member and as Chairman.
Under Dr. Kent’s leadership, Meadows Regional Medical Center has significantly enhanced access to care in the community by expanding its services to include interventional cardiology and comprehensive cancer services, building a state-of-the-art facility, and significantly improving the quality of care provided to their patients. He has led Meadows Regional Medical Center to broad recognition for excellence in healthcare.
“I am pleased to recognize Dr. Alan Kent for his excellent stewardship as CEO of Meadows Regional Medical Center, for the widespread recognition of the hospital’s high standards for patient care and its constant striving to better serve the surrounding community,” said Alliance President, Monty Veazey.
About the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals
The Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals (GACH) has been working for the best interests of community not-for-profit hospitals and Georgia's health care consumers since its founding in 1983. The Alliance works to foster goodwill among community health care professionals; to advocate the enactment of sound laws, rules and regulations affecting community hospitals; to conduct and disseminate research; and to share ideas that improve the health care delivery system in Georgia.

October 31-- On Friday, October 25, 2019 an incident occurred at the Montgomery County High School that resulted in an unprovoked threat being made. The threat was not relayed to anyone or school officials until Tuesday, October 29, 2019.

The juvenile who made the comments was immediately located and suspended in accordance with school policy.

Upon notification of the incident, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office determined further investigation was warranted. Deputies interviewed witnesses, and as a result of the investigation, a Juvenile Complaint has been filed with the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice for terroristic threats.

The juvenile did not have a weapon on campus nor in his possession that was found or located.

Sheriff Doug Maybin said, "Montgomery County School Superintendent Hugh Kight, Principal Scott Barrow, all school officials, and I would like to encourage anyone who hears or sees any type of threat to notify officials immediately. Notification can be made in person, by telephone or social media anytime, day or night. Working together will keep everyone safe at school and at home."

October 31-- Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said Thursday that Heart of Georgia region added employed residents in September.

At the same time, the unemployment rate decreased in September across the 17-county area, preliminary numbers show.

“Georgia had an amazing month in September,” said Butler. “More than half of our regions set a record for lowest unemployment rate ever.  Many of our counties also posted similar numbers. Those are very strong results.”

Nationally, the unemployment rate dropped 0.2 percentage points in September to 3.5 percent. The nation also grew its labor force, increased the number of employed residents and added more 130,000 jobs.

Georgia’s unemployment rate also fell 0.1 percentage points in September to reach 3.5 percent.  A year ago, Georgia’s unemployment rate sat at 3.7 percent. The state’s all-time low of 3.4 percent was set in December 2000.

Rates fell across all 12 of Georgia’s planning regions. Seven set a record for lowest rates ever.

In Heart of Georgia, the unemployment rate dropped 0.7 percentage points in September, settling at 4.4 percent. A year ago, the rate was 4.4 percent.

The labor force in Heart of Georgia decreased by 609 in September, bringing the total to 116,820. The number has decreased by 36 when compared to the same month a year ago.

Heart of Georgia added 280 employed residents in September, bringing the total to 111,679. The number is up 11 for the year.

Claims for unemployment insurance were up by about 82 percent in September. They were up by about 2 percent when compared to the same month a year ago.

Employ Georgia, the GDOL’s online job listing service at showed 612 active job postings in Heart of Georgia for September.

The Heart of Georgia region includes Appling, Bleckley, Candler, Dodge, Emanuel, Evans, Jeff Davis, Johnson, Laurens, Montgomery, Tattnall, Telfair, Toombs, Treutlen, Wayne, Wheeler, and Wilcox counties.

October 30--  The Montgomery County Middle and High Schools are leading the area in performance according to the Georgia Department of Education.

The Middle School is number one in the Heart of Georgia region with a performance rating of 85.4 which is 13 points better than the state average and more than nine points higher than last year.

The High School shows a ten point improvement over last year.  Its 78.8 performance rating exceeds the state average and is the highest of any high school in the immediate area.

Dr. Scott Barrow is the principal of both the middle and high school, "This is my fourth year here and we've been very fortunate to get some very good quality teachers and we've got a really good staff right now that is doing a great job building relationships and have a standards-based classroom.  The staff and students have bought in to what we're trying to do and I could not be any more proud."

This is the second consecutive year the Montgomery County Middle and High School have exceeded the performance of other area schools and Dr. Barrow says that's a point of pride.

"Montgomery County can be proud and this general area can be proud of what our students are accomplishing.  I've told my students and staff I want them to be able to put on that Montgomery County Eagle pride gear and feel comfortable wearing it anywhere, not just in Mount Vernon.  If they go to another town, they need to be able to wear it proudly, not in a boastful way, but just in a proud way.  Our social media hashtag is #EaglePride and everything we do, we try to represent that, whether we're home or away so to speak," Dr. Barrow said.

While Montgomery County Elementary School is still seven points below the state average of 77.1, the school has improved by nearly eleven points over last year.

October 30-- The Georgia Secretary of State’s Office is making routine and legally required updates to Georgia’s voter file that will reduce the size of the voter roll by 4 percent. These updates are required by federal and state law in order to ensure that the state has the most up-to-date voter information.

 “Election security is my top priority,” said Secretary Raffensperger. “Accurate and up-to-date voter rolls are vital to secure elections, but at the same time I want to ensure that anyone potentially affected by this routine process has notice and opportunity to update their information. That is why my office is releasing the full list to ensure that people who are still eligible voters can update their information.”

The Georgia General Assembly passed additional laws in 2019 requiring election officials to mail a personalized notice to the last known address of people prior to removing them from the voter rolls due to a change in address. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has decided to take the additional step of posting the list of people online.

“States like Nevada, Minnesota, Colorado, Arizona, Illinois, Maryland and Vermont have similar rates of cancellations due to people moving as Georgia,” said Jordan Fuchs Deputy Secretary of State. “The 4 percent rate that we are seeing is similar to what states across the country are seeing.”

Next week, election officials will mail a notice to the last known address of people who have been in “inactive” status for more than three years and had no contact with election officials during that time. A registration is moved to “inactive” status when the person fails to respond to a pre-addressed, postage paid confirmation card asking them to confirm or update their information. The confirmation card is required to be sent to people who have filed a National Change of Address Card with the U.S. Postal Service indicating that they have moved to a new address, had election mail returned as undeliverable, or did not have any contact with election officials (including not voting) for the three prior years.

The process started under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, signed into federal law by then-President Bill Clinton. Additional laws were passed in Georgia regarding list maintenance in 1994 by a Democrat majority General Assembly and signed into law by a Democrat Governor. Lastly, these laws were implemented by a Democrat Georgia Secretary of State.

Both federal and state law require election officials to conduct list maintenance on registration records where the person has died or moved to a different address. Georgia law specifically requires elections officials to remove registration records that have been in “inactive” status for two general elections and have had no contact with election officials during that time.

“Accurate voter lists limit confusion and delays at polling places on Election Day, and make sure voters get the correct ballot,” said Chris Harvey, Elections Director for the Secretary of State’s Office. “Accurate registration lists also allow county election offices to plan for polling place equipment and staffing needs. Accurate voter lists reduce the opportunities for mistakes or fraud.”

“Keeping accurate lists assures the public that our election system works well and that the results are fair,” notes David Becker, the executive director of the nonpartisan Center for Election Innovation and Research, in a blog post last year. “…Good list maintenance is good for democracy, not just because it means more efficient elections, but because it confirms to the electorate that the vote isn’t rigged.”

The Georgia law requiring moving registrants who have had “no contact” with election officials to “inactive” status if they fail to return the confirmation card was challenged in court in 2016, but the lawsuit was dismissed. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a similar Ohio law in 2018.

A bipartisan state law enacted in 2019 added an additional notification to people whose registrations are subject to cancellation in addition to the initial notice. That new notification will be mailed out next week.

Raffensperger is initiating an additional feature beyond the notice required by the 2019 law. As a convenience to those on the list, the notice they get in the mail will include a postage-paid postcard that they can simply sign and drop into any mailbox, no stamps required. He also decided to post the list online.

Anyone can search the list of registrations that are subject to cancellation. Only information that is public pursuant to state law is included. If your name is on the list and you are still an eligible Georgia voter, you can simply update your registration at or contact your county elections office. You may also respond to the confirmation card that will be included with the notice, but keep in mind that the notice is mailed to your last known address of your voter registration, which may not be accurate if you have moved and not updated your registration. Any registered voter can check their registration information to confirm it is accurate and up-to-date at

The list contains 313,243 records, or about 4 percent of Georgia’s total number of registered voters, which is in line with the number of records cancelled by other states according to the 2018 Election Administration and Voting Survey conducted by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. The number is less than the census estimates of people moving out of Georgia during the two-year period since the state last conducted this routine list maintenance process.

Of the inactive registration list, 108,306, or 34.6 percent, filed a change of address request with the U.S. Postal Service showing they have moved to a different county or state. Another 84,376, or 26.9 percent, had election mail returned as undeliverable.

The remaining 120,561, or 38.5 percent, have had no contact with their county election officials since prior to the 2012 presidential election and failed to respond to a confirmation card sent by their county elections office. Contact is usually is in the form of voting – either in person or absentee, but updating their registration, signing a petition, or requesting an absentee ballot also counts. Renewing or updating their driver’s license will also count as a contact with election officials unless the person opts out.

The list of registrations subject to cancellation can be viewed here:

How a registration becomes subject to cancellation:

Step 1:

A registered voter files a change of address request with the U.S. Postal Service or

Official election mail is returned undeliverable or

A person has no contact with elections officials for three years. Contact can be in the form of voting in any election or primary, signing a petition, updating voter registration, or renewing or changing a driver’s license.

Step 2:

  Not responding to a confirmation letter mailed by the county voter registrar.

Step 3:

Having no contact with voter registration for two additional general elections, meaning not voting in any election or primary, signing a petition, updating voter registration or renewing or changing a driver’s license.

Step 4:

  Failing to respond within 30 days to the notice which they are being sent by either

a.  returning the attached postage-paid postcard they will receive or

b.  updating their registration

1.  on

2.  smartphone app, or

3.  visiting their county voter registrar’s office.

October 30--  Election officials say advance voting in Vidalia's city council election has been light.

Voting Registrar Carey Alligood reports about 300 people had voted at close of voting on Tuesday and her office has received about 30 absentee ballots.

Registered voters can vote in advance through Friday at five p.m. at the Vidalia Police Department.

There are two city council races in Tuesday's city election. 

Former Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits and accountant Bob Dixon are running for the at-large city council seat being vacated by Kailey Dees.  The 4th Ward seat being vacated by Lisa Chesser is between corporate executive Loyd Mobley and Logan Lawrence, an Information and Research Services Director for a local law firm.

There is only one place to vote on Tuesday.  All voters will vote at the Vidalia Police Department in the Municipal Annex.  Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.

You can hear election results Tuesday night after the polls close on Your Favorite 98Q  (FM 97.7), Sweet Onion Country 1017 FM and NewsTalk WVOP, AM 970 and 105.3 FM and streaming at courtesy of the Peoples Bank.

October 29--  The Georgia Department of Education released its annual report on school performance and it's not good news for Sally D. Meadows Elementary School in Vidalia.

The school's performance is 20 points below the state average of 77 including a school climate rating of three stars compared to five stars for the other Vidalia City schools.

Scott Stephens is the school's fourth principal in six years and he told the Vidalia school board the school experienced a personnel turnover rate of 37% from last year to this year, "We've had a large turnover in personnel and a lack of consistency with our personnel.  I believe those are the factors that have contributed to the lack of climate, and you see that in our climate rating.  With the lack of consistency in instruction, we've lost ground compared to the state.  We recognize those as problems and we're working on addressing those."

After being on the job for only a few months, Stephens informed the school board during a meeting at the school that he has a plan to make changes, "I can't just make massive changes in the middle of the school year.  That would create more chaos than it would serve, but I do have a plan in place to start the school year off next year.  There will be some pretty significant changes to make some improvements across the board as far as the school is concerned and very specifically in 4th grade."

The elementary school in our immediate area with the best rating is Toombs Central with 82.5 followed by Lyons Upper Elementary with 75.1 and Montgomery Elementary with 70.9.  Treutlen Elementary has the worst rating at 54.9, a drop of ten points from last year.

By State Senator Jack Hill, Reidsville


When I saw the category of "Other Interest, Fees & Sales" on the September State Revenue Report, I thought of a major component-"Unclaimed Property." Every year the state sets aside millions of dollars that cannot be delivered by businesses, governments and other entities and holds it in a trust as "Unclaimed Property."

And it is easy to find out if you have funds being held in Unclaimed Property. 


The Georgia Department of Revenue (DOR) has a free, government website that allows individuals to search and claim their property that has been lost and then remitted to the state. With very minimal required documentation, you can claim it without any company fees or cost to you. Unclaimed property includes, but is not limited to: wages, savings accounts, customer refunds, accounts payable, insurance payments, shares of stock, escrow funds, royalties and contents from safe deposit boxes. Most property is reported to the program after five years of inactivity.


Tucked into September's state revenues was an interesting increase in a surprising category. The "Other Interest, Fees & Sales", which rarely gets noticed for its odd and ends, was up $28.5 million dollars, in September 2019 over September 2018. It jumps out as particularly strange since the month was only up $15.7 million overall. So what is this category that contributed to the small increase in monthly revenues?

The Note 2 disclosure on the revenue release carries some explanation. "Other Interest, Fees & Sales" include payments that have been deposited in the bank, but for which returns may not have been processed. These undistributed tax payments are then re-classified (once the return is processed) to the appropriate revenue tax account. "Other" also includes "Unclaimed Property" collections.

So who has unclaimed property you may ask? Turns out it may be you!


According to the Department of Revenue, property becomes abandoned when an entity has held the property for an apparent owner and has not had any contact with the owner for a specific period of time as set by statute. All private companies (including banks and insurance companies) as well as all Governmental Agencies have a duty to report abandoned property. Once the property is reported to the Unclaimed Property Program, it becomes "unclaimed property".

To search and claim your property or funds that may have been categorized as unclaimed property, it is not necessary for you to contract with asset recovery services or any other business or company asking to assist you. Instead, you make a simple search and then follow directions on the Georgia Department of Revenue website and that is all you need.

A link is on the main website under "Online Services" with Search capacity located at


If you find that you believe you have unclaimed property you add them to your cart and then follow the prompts to submit the required documentation to the Department of Revenue to claim the item(s). If you have moved, you can also search for unclaimed property of yours in other states where you've lived. Each state has a free government-run website that, free of charge, allows you to search and supply documentation to claim your property. The amounts may be large or small, but sure to bring a smile in any amount.


I found an item in my name that was at least 10 years old. So, this is worth the effort to check.

October 29-- Last Wednesday Vidalia High School's one-act play cast and crew won the GHSA Region 2AA One-Act Play Competition with their production of The Death and Life of Larry Benson by Kristin Sergel, adapted from the television show by Reginald Rose.

vhsoneactJariyah Williams won Best Actress for her portrayal of Freda Benson, Keyes Sanders was named to the All-Star Cast for his portrayal of The Boy, and Hannah Conner was named to the All-Star Cast for her portrayal of Jessie Benson.

Community performances will be held Monday, November 4, and Tuesday, November 5, at 7:00 p.m. at the Vidalia High School Theater. Admission is $5.00 and tickets may be purchased at the door.

The cast and crew will advance to state competition at Upson Lee High School in Thomaston Saturday, November 9.  

October 29--  Two Lyons men accused of murdering 26-year-old Brandon Colson of Lyons were in Toombs County Superior Court Monday for their first appearance hearing before Superior Court Judge Kathy Palmer.

bryantcourtphotoJudge Palmer explained the felony murder charges against 24-year-old Hollis Alan Bryant (left) and 19-year-old  Israel Timothy Williams.

Colson had been reporting missing October 4.  His body was found in a makeshift grave last week in a wooded area near Bryant's  residence at 148 Ponderosa Road in Toombs County.

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the two accused were acquaintances of Colson and he thinks the crime was about "money."

Chief Assistant District Attorney Tripp Fitzner expects the case will be presented to a Toombs County Superior Court in late November and more charges may be filed depending on the final report from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

By State Representative Greg Morris of Vidalia

Rural Development Council. Speaker David Ralston has appointed me to serve as a member –at-large on the RDC. The RDC is a fifteen member committee tasked with travelling to rural parts of the state, identifying policies and ideas that will enhance economic opportunity outside of the metro areas. My first meeting as a member will be this week in Camden County at the College of Coastal Georgia in Kingsland. The meetings are public with local government officials, health care providers, civic groups, business leaders, and educators, working together to find ways to encourage economic growth.

Georgia is considered the number one state in the nation for business, generating 750,000 new private sector jobs since 2010. But citizens of rural Georgia have not participated in this economic success. The task of the committee is not to identify the problems. The problems are well known. Our task is to drill down into the issues for specific legislation that will help create good jobs for rural Georgians. It really has to be the number one priority. Government doesn’t really fund education, public safety, and healthcare. The taxes paid by Georgia citizens do. The income, corporate, and sales taxes paid by Georgia businesses, and the taxes generated by the paychecks of the people who work in them pay teachers, and state patrolmen, not government. We forget that at our peril.

Paying College Athletes. As I expected, a Democratic legislator has announced plans to introduce legislation to allow college athletes to be paid. The bill presumably, will be modeled after California law that compensates athletes for the use of their name, image or likeness. The idea is as idiotic as it is asinine. Oh I almost forgot. The athlete would also be allowed to hire agents to represent them. Can you imagine trying to recruit athletes in a state that doesn’t allow it against a school in a state that does? I love college football and couldn’t bear to see it turn into the NFL. When I look as those sidelines I see young student athletes on Dooley Field and I feel proud to see them representing my Alma Mater. Turn on the NFL and you’re liable to see some unpatriotic jack$%@ making 50 million dollars kneeling during the National Anthem. But that’s private enterprise. If people want to pay to see that, it’s their right. This bill would enrich others at the expense of the Georgia taxpayer and ruin college athletics and I will oppose it.

October 26--  There have been 84 domestic violence deaths in Georgia during the past 12 months and supporters of the local Refuge Domestic Violence Shelter are trying to get the word out to women living with abusers that help is available in Toombs County.

refugeballoonsThe shelter observed Domestic Violence Awareness Month by releasing 84 purple balloons in the sky above Vidalia and by dropping purple flowers into the pond at Southeastern Tech.

Major Roger Callaway with the Vidalia Police Department is the board chairman for "The Refuge, "What we're seeing a lot of times when you've got these kind of cases, it deals with finances, it deals with substance abuse, but it starts off real subtle.  It starts off where they just argue a little bit, then somebody gets slapped and then next thing you know somebody gets hurt or killed."

Chief Assistant District Attorney Tripp Fitzner has tried two domestic violence murders in Toombs County, "If anything good possibly could come out of the deaths of these two women, let it be to get their message out there and let it inspire other people to leave their abusive spouses and to get help."

Betty Dell Williams is the Executive Director at "The Refuge, "Let's think about those 84, but let's think about the victims and survivors we have in Vidalia that we have alive.  Let's help them, support them and believe them.  That's the one message I want to get out to people.  If someone comes to you and says they're in domestic violence, believe them and see what you can do to help.  Refer them to "The Refuge" and let's see if we can get them a safety plan and a life free of domestic violence."


If you need help, call 912-538-9935.

October 26--  The Georgia Department of Community Affairs has granted a request from the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners for funds to improve two roads near the Petross Community.

Commission Chairman Leland Adams, Commissioner Chad Kenney and County Manager Brandon Braddy accepted a check for $471,887 to help pay for drainage and paving upgrades on Largo Drive and Ashley Alley.  Total cost of the project is estimated at $518,288 with the county paying a local share of $46,401.  The project is expected to be completed by the end of next year.

Chairman Adams said, “Montgomery County has been very fortunate in the past to have paved several roads in Montgomery County because of this grant program.  Dead River Road, Three Rivers Lane and Southland Drive are three roads in Montgomery County that have been paved with state community development  funds.  The commissioners and I are thankful to receive these grant funds for Largo Drive and Ashley Alley on Montgomery County’s behalf.”

mococdbg.jjpgThe check was presented earlier this month during the Department of Community Affairs Fall Conference in LaGrange.

(L-R):  Executive Director Brett Manning & Director of Economic & Community Development Hugh Darnley of the Heart of Georgia Altamaha Regional Commission; Commissioner Chad Kenney, DCA Commissioner Christopher Nuun, Chairman Leland Adams, DCA Region 9 Representative Lynn Ashcraft and County Manager Brandon Braddy)


October 25--  Two Lyons men are under arrest in connection with a suspected murder.

According to Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight,  26-year-old Brandon Colson of Lyons was reported missing to Lyons Police on October 6.  Authorities found his remains Thursday in a makeshift grave in a wooded area after initiating a search warrant at 148 Ponderosa Road in Toombs County.

Charged with felony murder in the case are 24-year-old Hollis Alan Bryant (top Photo) and 19-year-old Israel Timothy Williams, both of Lyons.

Chief Assistant District Attorney Tripp Fitzner says a first appearance hearing for the two will be Monday morning at 10:30 in Toombs County Superior Court.

Additional charges and arrests are pending in the case and the investigation is continuing by the GBI, the Toombs County Sheriff's Office and the Lyons Police Department.

If you have information, call the GBI at 478-374-6988, the Toombs County Sheriff's Office, 526-6778 or the Lyons Police Department, 526-3638.


October 25-- The Georgia Department of Education today released the 2019 College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) scores.

Statewide, the scores show an increase at the high school level, and decreases in elementary and middle school.

CCRPI Overall Scores – 2019 vs. 2018




Elementary Schools



Middle Schools



High Schools



All Schools



CCRPI scores are based on five separate components – Content Mastery, Progress, Closing Gaps, Readiness and, for high schools, Graduation Rate. While the state averages for Content Mastery, Readiness, and Graduation Rate increased for elementary, middle, and high school, there were slight decreases in Progress scores, and larger decreases in the Closing Gaps component – which requires schools to meet elevated achievement targets for all subgroups.

Governor Kemp and Superintendent Woods’ Remarks – Refinements Needed to CCRPI

Together, Governor Brian P. Kemp and State School Superintendent Richard Woods acknowledged that work still needs to be done to support students and improve student achievement, while expressing a need to refine the CCRPI measurement to ensure it is a fair and stable measure that accurately captures school performance.

“I am a strong supporter of holding schools accountable for increased student achievement, but in a year when we’ve seen nearly across-the-board increases in national test scores and graduation rates as well as Georgia Milestones scores, seeing the CCRPI show a decrease instead raises concerns about the measurement used to determine school and district achievement,” Governor Kemp said. “I believe that we need to engage in a thoughtful process to create an accountability system that paints a true picture of what’s happening in a school. With unprecedented alignment between my office, the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement, and the Department of Education, I’m confident that we’re finally in the right position to make long-needed refinements to this measurement.”

Superintendent Woods emphasized his commitment to work with state and federal partners to reduce the weight of standardized test scores in the CCRPI and move toward a wider and deeper measurement of performance that reflects the true mission of K-12 public schools: preparing students for life.

“As we aim to lessen the number of high-stakes tests our students take, we need the weight of testing in CCRPI to reflect the same priorities,” Superintendent Woods said. “Georgia’s parents, taxpayers, students, and educators deserve a fair measurement of performance that lifts up, rather than labels, our public schools. Working with Governor Kemp and the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement, the time is right to make that shift.”

“Georgia’s public education system continues to receive both national and state-level recognition for its K-12 performance,” said Dr. Curtis Jones, the current National Superintendent of the Year and Superintendent of the Bibb County School District. “Now the State School Superintendent and the Governor’s Office are working hand-in-hand alongside local districts, which finally affords us the opportunity to develop a measurement that fully captures the success we’re seeing across multiple metrics.”

About the CCRPI

Under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) – the replacement for No Child Left Behind (NCLB) passed in 2015 – states are required to have a “statewide accountability system” that provides information on how well schools are performing. Similar accountability systems were required under the No Child Left Behind waivers many states operated under before ESSA was passed, but ESSA gives states more authority over the process.

October 24-- On October 18, 2019, the GBI charged two juveniles with False Report of a Crime and Disruption of a Public School. These charges stemmed from a school threat that was reported on October 9, 2019 involving Wheeler County Middle/High School.

On Wednesday, October 9, 2019, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Eastman field office was requested by the Wheeler County Sheriff’s Office to conduct an investigation into the threat of violence at the Wheeler County Middle/High School. Through investigative activities that included information obtained from interviews, the threats were determined to originate from two juvenile offenders.

The investigation is active and ongoing. Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to contact the GBI Eastman office at 478-374-6988.

october student of the month
Left to Right
Top Row: Abram Holmes, Mason Brunson, Aonest McLendon, Cuyler Lightsey, and Marqivis Johnson
Third Row: Annalise Page, Cutter Roper, Jasmine Jones,  and Grant Long
Second Row: Michael Morgan, Noah Solomon, Janie Beck, Chevelle Fowler, and Kirk Harrison
Front Row: Lawson Worth, Weston Ellis, Daziyna Atkins, Abe Mckinnon, and Ramon Zuniga

October 24--  Wednesday Twelfth District Congressman Rick Allen and nearly 50 other Republican Congressmen tried to confront Congressman Adam Schiff in a basement room of the House of Representatives where Schiff is holding secret impeachment proceedings against President Trump.

Congressman Allen released the following statement.

"When we showed up to the House committee to observe testimony from a witness Schiff called, unbelievably he took the witness and left the committee room.  What was he trying to hide?
"Schiff has denied Republicans in Congress access to investigation documents, witnesses and the transcripts of their testimony. Why?  Because Nancy Pelosi and her handpicked witch hunt leader do not want the American people to find out what is really going on with their investigation.
"Yesterday, my colleagues and I took a stand against these secret impeachment hearings.  It was the right thing to do. I am glad we did it."

Tuesday night Congressman Allen spoke on the House floor in strong opposition to Speaker Pelosi and House Democrat leadership’s impeachment inquiry into President Trump. Congressman Allen’s remarks can be found below.

I rise today to strongly oppose the lack of transparency by Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, our duly elected president.

Instead of following precedent and putting the Judiciary Committee in charge of this process, Speaker Pelosi has empowered House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff to run this effort behind closed doors, with no accountability and in secret – and he is hand-picking what information to leak.

So what happened to Chairman Nadler in Judiciary Committee?

If Democrats truly believe that this is the right thing to do, why won’t they hold a vote?

The Democrats’ complete disregard for following a fair process is alarming and quite frankly, un-American.

They are misleading the American people while ignoring action on the pressing issues at hand.

The truth is they only have one goal, and that is to undermine President Trump and ensure he cannot do what he was elected to do, like passing USMCA, immigration reform, modernizing healthcare and securing our border.

Let’s end this nonsense and get to work on the issues that matter to the American people.

October 24--  Vidalia Police Chief Brian Scott reports the following arrests.

Cuyler, Precious Alondria- B/F- 602A Jordan St. East Dublin, GA- Warrant Served (Houston Co SO)

Harrell, Shellie Lynn- W/F- 33 YOA- 208 Jody Lane Kathleen, GA- Criminal Trespass, Simple Assault, Willfully Obstruction of Police Officer Simple/Verbal

Gonzalez, Marcus Tejon- B/M- 21 YOA- 1908 N. Maple Dr. Vidalia, GA- Disorderly Conduct

Waring, Cynthia Gale- B/F- 53 YOA- 907 Fifth Ave Vidalia, GA- Theft by Conversion

Brewer, Ben Kevin- B/M- 24 YOA- 2104 W. Smalley Dr. Vidalia, GA- Criminal Trespass, Disorderly Conduct

Carswell, Brittney Chante- B/F- 33 YOA- 1208 Easter Dr. Apt. 13 Vidalia, GA- Endangering Security Interest

Poole, Tonya Ann- W/F- 28 YOA- 204 E. First St #32, Vidalia, Ga- Theft by Taking

Simon, JaQuan Coytez- B/M- 20 YOA- 509 Lydia St. Vidalia, GA- Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (First)

Jones, Ronald Dawson- W/M- 25 YOA- 1221 Petross Rd. Ailey, Ga.- Possession of Marijuana, No Proof of Insurance

Wicker, Sabrina Charmaine- B/F- 35 YOA- 211 Smith St. Mt.Vernon, GA- Speeding, Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (Second)

Hayes, Coty Chance- W/M- 34 YOA- 14 N. Hope St. Hampton, VA- Disorderly Conduct

Hall, Nina- B/F- 49 YOA- 1208 Easter Dr. Apt. # 7 Vidalia, GA- Failure to Maintain Lane, DUI- 2nd Offense

Mobley, Qiana Cherie- B/F- 30 YOA- 300 Kenworth St. Apt. A Vidalia, GA- Open Container, DUI- 1st Offense

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Edgar Hugo, Vidalia, Underage possession, purchase and consumption of alcohol

Richard Curry, Lyons, warrant served

Dominique Hall, Vidalia, shoplifting

Nykwan Coleman, Lyons, DUI, headlights

Susan Diaz, Lyons, Under the influence, cruelty to animals

Johnny Clemons, Lyons, DUI

Darius Johnson, Vidalia, DUI, 3rd offense

Leon Losolla, Lyons, driving without license on person

Carlos Vargas, Vidalia, DUI, underage possession of alcohol, traffic violations

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Shane Stuckey, Vidalia, registration of sex offender

Terrence White, Soperton, failure to appear

Joshua Wilkes, Lyons, burglary, theft by deception, crossing guard lines, possession of weapon during certain crimes, controlled substance

Tucker Williford, Lyons, possession of weapon during certain crimes, possession of marijuana and methamphetamine  (purchase, possession, manufacture, distribution and sale)

Erika Barrow, Vidalia, theft by receiving stolen property

Tommy Bryson, Vidalia, Methamphetamine purchase, possession, manufacture, distribution, sale; possession of weapon during certain crimes

Kendra Cook, Vidalia, conceal/destroy/removal/transfer property for security interests

Zackary Davis, Lyons,Methamphetamine purchase, possession, manufacture, distribution, sale; possession of marijuana

Samantha Deen, Lyons, theft by receiving stolen property

Justin Estrada, child support pickup order

Christy Hairr, Lyons, criminal damage to property

Matthew Knight, Soperton, probation violation

Mariano Martinez-Garcia, Lyons, public drunkeness

Gregory Mosley, Vidalia,Methamphetamine purchase, possession, manufacture, distribution, theft by receiving stolen property, battery

Robert Presgraves, Lyons, theft by receiving stolen property, interference with custody, cruelty to children, fleeing police officer, terroristic threats, possession of firearm by convicted felong

Florencio Rodriguez, Reidsvile, driving unlicensed, traffic violation

Miguel Rodriguez, Baxley, cruelty to children, battery

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

10/14-Judson Dennis Brantley, Mount Vernon, Possession of Controlled Substance, Possession of Drug Related Objects, Possession of Firearm During Commission of Crime

10/16-Kevin Wayne McRae, Mount Vernon, Possession of Drug Related Objects, Cruelty to Children-

10/16-Wanda Ann Campbell, Vidalia, Possession of Drug Related Objects, Cruelty to Children-2nd

10/16-Miranda Leigh Maskevich, Richmond Hill, Warrant Served for Chatham County

10/18-Nicholas Scott Diaz, Lyons, Misdemeanor Probation Violation

10/19-Jordan Christopher Dailey, Columbus, Failure to Maintain Lane, Driving w/Suspended License, No Insurance, Uninsured Vehicle, Defective Equipment

10/19-Luther Jerome Hunt, Soperton, Failure to Maintain Lane, Too Fast for Conditions, Driving w/Suspended License, DUI, Parole Violation

Brandon Powell, Lyons,

October 24-- Wednesday morning Sally D. Meadows Elementary School held their DARE Parade in conjunction with Red Ribbon Week to bring about awareness to drug abuse and how to teach children about making good decisions.


Sally D. Meadows Principal Scott Stephens talked about the importance of the parade and what it means. “This is very important, not only for the children but for the community. I’ve gotten the pleasure to see these children grow up from kindergarten to fourth and fifth graders. We need to send a message not only to our children but our community that we don’t want to do drugs. We want to make these children independent successful adults,” said Stephens.

Stephens added, “We have kids now that are exposed to social media like no generation before them. The most important thing we can do is develop relationships with these children. Social media is going to have an influence, good, bad, or indifferent, but if they have positive relationships with adults, that’s the best insurance we have in making them successful adults.”

joyFifth grade teacher Joy Sharpton has been teaching for 15 years and says she sees the positive results and how important the role models are to making the program successful. “It is just amazing to see some of the students that we had in fifth grade that come back as DARE role models. They come back and they support our students and they help them. A high school senior is a really big deal. They really look up to them, especially when our athletes come back. It’s that positive figure in their life that they see out in their community. They know that they’ve faced some of those things and it makes a huge difference,” said Sharpton.

DARE role model Felicity Day, a senior at Vidalia High School, wants to become a teacher and talked about why she chose to be a DARE role model. “I wanted to be a good representation of my school. Younger kids tend to look up to high schoolers because that’s what they want to be when they grow up. They look at us as the cooler kids, that’s at least how I saw it,” said Day.

October 23--  The Sweet Onion Animal Protection Society has $1,500 more to help save the lives of animals in our area.

soapsmooseMembers of the Vidalia-Lyons Moose Lodge held a Bingo Night to benefit SOAPS which will use the money to find homes and save lives of helpless animals. 

SOAPS President Therisa Ingley accepts the donation from Moose members.

(L-R) Thyra Burakowski, Ken Crain, Jamie Stewart, Therisa Ingley, Steve Chambers, Riley Brantley and Everand Arnsdorff

October 22--  Twelve eighth grade students from the Toombs and Vidalia school systems have a better chance of going to college after being selected for REACH Georgia, the state's needs-based mentorship and college scholarship program.

Six students each from Vidalia's J.R. Trippe Middle School and Toombs County Middle School were inducted Tuesday during ceremonies presided over by Toombs County School Superintendent Barry Waller. "This scholarship for when they graduate high school, if they maintain certain parameters. will give them the opportunity to further their education whether it be to a technical college or a four-year university."

The $10,000 scholarships are sometimes matched by participating schools, multiplying the value for the students, "Some universities will do that.  I think the University of Georgia is up to $30,000," Waller said.

This is the third year the program has been underway in the two school systems and Vidalia School Superintendent Dr. Garrett Wilcox believes it motivates students to maintain good grades, behavior and attendance, "I think as they move through the educational process you'll find the first group we had who are now sophomores find it a big motivator," as well as their parents, "I'm not sure who was the most excited today,t he parents who were there or the students."

reach2019The six students from Toombs County Middle School are Martasia Burton, Raymond Florez, IV., Tami Gonzalez, Lola Hall, Cloey Sanders and Breanna Vallejo. 

The "REACH" students from J.R. Trippe MIddle School are Antonio Aguilar, J'Da Bacon, Desarae Lumley, Kynzyerra McGee, Adelyn Williams and Paradyse Jacobs.

October 22-- The Southeastern Technical College (STC) Board of Directors welcomed new board member Chris Hopkins at its October meeting. Toombs County Associate Probate Court Judge Tina Lindsey swore in Hopkins, who will represent Toombs County.

chrishopkinsstc“I am excited to be joining the board at STC. It’s an honor to be able to serve our community in a role that fosters further education. As an employer in the agricultural field, I see firsthand the need for skilled labor. What better place to invest in fostering that talent than partnering with STC. The ability to attract, and most especially retain, skilled employees in our community is of utmost importance to the continued success of our industry,” said Hopkins.

Hopkins graduated from University of Georgia with a master’s degree in Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. He is the store manager for Lasseter Implement Co in Lyons and owner and operator of Hopkins Farms.

(L-R) Associate Probate Judge Tina Lindsey, Chris Hopkins, STC President Larry Calhoun.

Photo (L-R): Associate Probate Court Judge Tina Lindsey, STC Board Member Chris Hopkins, STC President Larry Calhoun


October 21--  The Toombs County Board of Commissioners is honoring a judge who sat on the bench in Toombs County for nearly a quarter of a century.

The Commission is naming the large courtroom in the Toombs County Courthouse "The Judge Marvin B. Hartley, Jr. Courtroom" in memory of the late judge who is the only Superior Court judge from Toombs County ever elected to serve in the Middle Judicial Circuit.

Commission Chairman David Sikes recalls an incident exemplifying Judge Hartley's character, "Pastor Danny Williams made a statement that really solidified my thoughts with the process.  He said it was in the early 1970's and Judge Hartley was a member of one of our local Baptist churches and they had in their by-lays that blacks could not be a part of their congregation.  Judge Hartley got up and said if these by-laws aren't changed, I will find another church because we are all God's children and we are all a part of this.  With a man with that integrity, at a time when that was not a popular stance to take, it tells you his character of loving people."


Judge Hartley's three daughters and his widow, Betty, were on hand to witness passage of the resolution, "We had prayed about that since his death, that there would be some kind of memorial.  He loved his profession so much and his work and the courthouse was his second home. It was very touching to us.  I can't tell you just how touched we were and are just thankful to the people who came through and wanted to honor him.  More than anything else, we're just thankful he will be remembered in that way," Mrs. Hartley said.

(L-R) County Manager John Jones, Commissioners Darriel Nobles and Tommy Rollins, daughter Terri Eisenberg, Betty Hartley, Chairman David Sikes, daughters Joni Callihan and Lori Collins-Crawley, Commissioners Wendell Dixon and Alfred Cason.

Chairman Sikes says not only will the courtroom in the current courthouse be named for Judge Hartley, but if and when a new courthouse is built, a courtroom there will also bear his name.

"I've lost my father, too, and I see what it means whenever you lose a love one and then they are memorialized for great character and what they've done for their community.  You can't ask for a higher honor that that," the chairman said.

bpcgolfcheckOctober 18--  Brewton-Parker College hosted the 3rd Annual Southern Classic Golf Tournament at the Willow Lake Golf Club in Metter.

Through the generous support of business sponsors and local teams, the event successfully raised over $20,000 to further the mission of South Georgia’s Christian College and see the lives of students transformed.

Presenting Sponsor, Tim Redding of Metter Ford (L), presents $10,000 check to BPC President, Dr. Steve Echols during annual golf tournament.

The winners of the tournament included Team Handy Andy (first place), Team Nathan Perkins (second place), and Team City of Mount Vernon (third place).

October 18--  An Emanuel County has grand jury has indicted a truck driver in connection with a fatal wreck a year ago.

bookingconnerWilliam Johnathan Conner was driving a Dot Foods truck which collided with a car driven by 25-year-old Soperton native Doreona Figueroa on the Swainsboro bypass at the intersection of Highways One and 221.

According to the indictment, Conner was indicted on three counts including vehicular homicide, driving under the influence of drugs and running a red light.

Conner has entered a not guilty plea and is scheduled to stand trial in January in Emanuel County Superior Court.

October 18--  The Vidalia Police Department's fleet of patrol cars is getting a new look.  The latest additions to the fleet are sporting a new look appropriate to the Sweet Onion City.

vpdpolicecarBecause the patrol cars rack up lots of miles each year, city officials say three new cars are generally purchased each year to replace the cars with the highest mileage in the 12-car fleet.

So far two new cars have the new look.

October 18-- State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said today that Georgia set a record again in September for total employed residents.

 The record came as Georgia continued to show improvement in other key measures like initial unemployment claims, labor force and the unemployment rate, according to preliminary numbers.  

“September was another strong month,” Butler said. “Setting another record for employed residents is especially important because it proves we are not only producing jobs but residents are getting them.”

Nationally, the unemployment rate dropped 0.2 percentage points in September to 3.5 percent. The nation also grew its labor force, increased the number of employed residents and added more 130,000 jobs.

Georgia’s unemployment rate also fell 0.1 percentage points in September to reach 3.5 percent.  A year ago, Georgia’s unemployment rate sat at 3.7 percent. The state’s all-time low of 3.4 percent was set in December 2000.

 “We continue to approach the record low unemployment rate,” the commissioner said. “That shows just how strong our economy has been.”

Georgia lost 2,100 jobs in September, against a total of more than 4.64 million jobs. Still,that number is up nearly 80,000 from the same time last year.

Georgia had six job sectors that added at least 5,000 jobs since last September:

  • Education/health services, 20,400
  • Leisure/hospitality, 15,900
  • Professional/business services, 14,500
  • Construction, 9,700
  • Government, 8,600
  • Trade/transportation/utilities, 6,000.

“Georgia continues to produce great numbers,” Butler said.

In September, the number of employed residents went up with a gain of 9,172 that pushed Georgia’s number of employed to 4.93 million – a new record for the state.  

 Georgia’s labor force grew in September by 4,355, bringing the total work force to more than 5.1 million. That number was up by 3,615 from the same month a year ago.

 At the same time, new claims for unemployment decreased in September. The total number of claims filed in September fell by 2 percent. They were up by about 2 percent compared with September 2018.

 In September, noted more than 95,000 job postings.

October 17--  Four candidates for the Vidalia City Council were on stage Thursday night for a forum sponsored by the Toombs-Montgomery Chamber of Commerce.

frankandbobRunning for the at-large seat, accountant Bob Dixon (right) and former police chief Frank Waits who called for an united city government, "To bring business to the city of Vidalia and economic growth, the mayor, the council and all city employees have to have a working relationship with the citizens who wish to work with the mayor and council.  You have to have a cohesive mayor and council working together," Waits said.

Dixon said he wants to continue the process which has made Vidalia a business hub, "My agenda is to serve and help the city of Vidalia.  I want to make decisions that I believe are best for all the citizens of Vidalia.  Vidalia has been blessed over the years by a lot of people working very hard to make some tough decisions to continue to grow Vidalia and make it progressive.  I want to continue that process," he said.

loydandloganThe Ward Four seat is between businessman Loyd Mobley (left) and Logan Lawrence, a recent UGA grad working at a local law firm, whose vision is to attract more young people back to their hometown, "We have so much to offer people here.  I want millennials to want to come back to Toombs and Montgomery counties. I want to make policy changes in our community that are going to make college students homesick to return home and make people who currently live here eager to boast about our community and the things we're doing here," Lawrence said.

Growth was also on the mind of Loyd Mobley, "We need to keep Vidalia growing. Partnerships with the Chamber and the Development Authority are extremely important to this.  We need to attract new business and help current businesses continue to prosper.  We must keep crime in check.  I am very excited about what our new police chief is doing and we want to make sure our police have the things they need to do the job they need to do," Mobley said.

Higgston mayoral candidate Jesse Ledford was also included in the forum and discussed his vision for improving the town.

Advance in-person voting started this week for the November 5th election.

October 18--  Vidalia Police Chief Brian Scott reports the following arrests.

Hardy, Gregg- B/M 26 YOA- 802 Brantley Rd.Vidalia, GATheftby Conversion- X3

Douglas, Steven Alexander-B/M- 41 YOA- 2100 W Smalley Dr. Vidalia, GA-Theft by Receiving Stolen Property

Quintero, Selestino- H/M- 47 YOA- 206 Stuart St. Lyons, GAWarrant Service (Soperton PD- Probation), Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (First)

Smith, Shaquon Marques- B/M- 25 YOA- 2099 Deerwood Rd. Soperton, GA- Obstruct, Hinder Law Enforcement Officer/ Give False Name, Address, Birthdate to LE Officer

Paul, Stephen James- W/M- 47 YOA- 141 Oak Grove Ct. Lyons, GA- DUI- 1st Offense/ Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (Second)

Walker, Clent- B/M- 51 YOA- 509 South Jefferson St. Dublin, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense (Bench Warrant)

Dubberly, Marissa Sherea- W/F- 26 YOA- 236 Doris St. Baxley, GA- Possession of Marijuana Less Than Ounce

Salter, Brandon Levon - W/M- 40 YOA- 150-2 Cleveland Ave W. Lyons, GA- DUI- 1st Offense

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Albert Goodman, Lyons, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

William Carter, Lyons, unlawful possession of a firearm or weapon by a convicted felon

Bobbie Barwick, Lyons, DUI, possession of drug related objects, failure to maintain lane

Erin Shelton, Vidalia, Disorderly conduct

Benjamin Peloquin, Ridge Manor, FL., DUI

Daniel Jimenez, Lyons, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon

Galen Salem, Lyons, theft by taking; sale, manufacture, distribution of marijuana, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of firearm/knife during commission or attempt to commit a crime

Shaquinton Scott, Lyons, sale, manufacture, distribution of marijuana, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of firearm/knife during commission or attempt to commit a crime

Watson Brown, Lyons, sale, manufacture, distribution of marijuana, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of firearm/knife during commission or attempt to commit a crime

Kiara Brewton, Lyons, criminal trespass

Dominique Hawkins, Lyons, criminal trespass

Tommie Lee Doyle, Jonesboro, DUI, possession of marijuana, obstruction of police, driving while license suspended/revoked, open container, headlight/tail light/tag light, crossing guard line with weapons, intoxicants or drugs; sale, manufacture/delivery of ecstasy.

Chinetha Chaney, Stockbridge, possession of marijuana, sale/manufacture/delivery of ecstasy.

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Jacob Brannon, Vidalia, cruelty to animals

Clara Brooks, Savannah, DUI

James Childs, Lyons, probation violation

Clinton Clark, Lyons, criminal trespass

Kenneth Clay, Vidalia, court production order

Charlie Cobb, Vidalia, purchase, possession, manufacture, distribution and sale of methamphetamine

Franklin Coleman, Adrian, probation violation

Michael Coleman, Mount Vernon, possession of marijuana

Sydney Coleman, Lyons, cruelty to animals, 14 counts

William Corley, Lyons, DUI

Jose Espitia, Metter, driving while license suspended/revoked, wireless telecommunications device use prohibited.

Ryan Gordy, Vidalia, purchase, possession, manufacture, distribution and sale of methamphetamine

Jeffery Hayes, Vidalia, bad checks, probation violation

James Luke, Lyons, battery

William Prescott, Vidalia, diving while license suspended/revoked

Brian Shinholster, Baxley, DUI, possession of marijuana, no seat belt

Tony Swain, Lyons, probation violation

Wanda Toler, Soperton, probation violation

Chase Wilds, Lyons, driving unlicensed

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

10/02-Clinton Michael Conway, Vidalia, Dog at Large

10/07-Cornelia Janae Stokes, Vidalia, Warrant Served for Clayton County

10/07-Arondii Ali Wadley, McRae, Possession of a Controlled Substance

10/09-Christopher Whorley, Soperton, Warrant Served for Candler County

10/09-William Kyle Stephens, Ailey, Felony Probation Violation

10/09-Jawanda King, Dublin, Speeding, Driving w/Suspended License

10/12-Luis Perez, Uvalda, DUI, Driving While Unlicensed, Leaving Scene of Accident

10/13-Daron Vernard Berry, Hazlehurst, Battery (Family Violence), Criminal Trespass, Obstruction of Officer

October 15-- Resurfacing of 13 streets in Vidalia will be starting soon following award of a contract at the October meeting of the Vidalia City Council.

The city council approved a contract of $570,870.30 to East Coast Asphalt of Douglas to resurface portions of Commerce Loop, Ardella Court, Moses Drive, Mitchell Drive, Meadows Lane, Lightfoot Court, Manor Drive, North Maple Drive, Morris Street, Northeast Pine Street, Manning Drive, Aimwell Road and West Third Street.

Ten percent of the project is being paid for with city funds with the remainder funded by the state Department of Transportation.

Other expenditures approved include $107,952 for a truck and trailer equipped to clear sewer lines and $28,200 for work on the ball fields at the Ed Smith Recreation Complex.

The council also:

*Accepted an $1,100 grant from the Atlanta Hawks Foundation for the Recreation Department.

*Was informed the water and sewer project in the Bay Street area should be finished before Christmas.

*Learned that city employees have completed surveys regarding the city's ongoing pay scale review by the University of Georgia which will hold personal interviews with 44 employees Thursday.

*Approved a ten-year comprehensive plan for the future in conjunction with Toombs County, Lyons and Santa Claus.

*Was informed by Finance Director Bill Bedingfield that the city's general fund is in excellent shape.

October 15--  Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin is seeking information regarding an incident which occurred Friday night when the Montgomery County Eagles hosted the Wheeler County Bulldogs at Brogdon Field in Mount Vernon.

According to a news release, a Montgomery County Deputy Sheriff suffered minor injuries while he was assisting a Wheeler County coach who was escorting a Bulldog football player from the stadium after the player was ejected from the game.

Sheriff Maybin is not releasing any further information while the incident is being investigated, however, he is asking anyone who may have information including cellphone pictures or video to contact Chief Deputy Ronnie Bivins at 912-583-2521.

Deputy Bivins said Tuesday he has yet to receive any evidence in the case.

October 11--  A Millen man died in a weekend accident in Toombs County.

According to Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight, 25-year-old Nikkloas Dylan Wright was found in his pickup truck early Saturday morning after it apparently ran off a bridge over Little Rocky Creek on U.S. Highway One south of Santa Claus.

The sheriff said Wright had last been seen in Millen Friday afternoon when he told his grandfather he was going to "the store."

October 12—A big crowd was at Partin Park in Lyons Saturday for the 10th Annual Real Squeal BBQ and Music Festival. Twenty-eight professional teams competed in four categories for $20,000 in prize money at the KCBS & Georgia BBQ Championship Event. Each team was required to cook ribs, pork, chicken, and brisket. The 2019 Grand Champion was “Que’n, Stew’n & Brew’n BBQ”, a family team of Scott Smith, wife Lynn and son Christopher from Acworth, Ga.10 12 19 Pro Winner Real Squeal 2019

The 2019 Backyard or Amateur Grand Champion was “Bad Habits BBQ”, Justin Aaron and Michael Vaughn a hometown team from Lyons. 10 12 19 Backyard Winner Real Squeal

By State Senator Jack Hill, Reidsville


It was hard to find good news in the state's September Revenue Report as the total revenue of $2.2 billion only showed a $15.7 million gain, just 0.7%. September completes the first quarter of the 2020 Fiscal Year and the revenue results so far are dismal.

Presently, Year-To- Date totals are up only $21.1 million. So far this fiscal year, the state is under budget by about $145 million. This alarming trend is behind Governor Kemp's announced budget cuts of 4% in FY 2020 and 6% in FY 2021.


Individual Income Taxes were negative for September, down -2.4%. Year- to date Individual Income Taxes are also negative at -0.5%. Withholding refunds were up $36.1 million for the month while Individual Withholding payments increased $1.9 million. Individual Income Tax Return payments were up $8.6 million for the month.


For the first noticeable time, Net Sales Taxes, about 28% of state revenues, have slipped in the first quarter, negative -1.0% for September. Importantly, Net Sales Taxes are only up 1.5% for the first quarter.

The other component of Sales Taxes are Title Ad Valorem Taxes, which includes the one- time fee paid on automobiles. These collections declined -$20.3 million in September. For the quarter, Ad Valorem Taxes are down -7.3% or -$16.4 million.

So the total Sales Tax/ Car Fees category, about a third of state revenues, has only grown $7 million on revenues of about $1.7 billion for the quarter.


To sum it up, the two top categories, Individual Income Taxes and Sales Taxes/ Auto Fees, have grown little so far this fiscal year, up only about $7.6 million. That in and of itself explains why the state is under budget $145 million.


The balance of the revenue categories are trending downward as well. Corporate Income Taxes were up $46.2 million in September but after one quarter, are only positive by 0.8%.

Tobacco Taxes were negative in September -10.8% and negative for the quarter -6.7%. Alcohol beverages were up slightly in September, 0.4% and up 1.1% YTD.


One of the steady increases in revenue is usually Motor Fuel Taxes and Fees. But in September, net Fuel Taxes/ Fees were down -1.9%. Year-to-date Motor Fuel Taxes/ Fees are flat, decreasing -$1.9 million on $519.0 million in taxes and fees.

So for the first time, this category has slowed and appears to have stopped growing. Maybe it is going to be difficult to see trends in this era of national tax policies having direct effects in states revenue streams, but it is very confusing and mystifying to hear anecdotally that taxpayers are paying more in Georgia income taxes on their returns and not to see any windfall showing up in the revenue returns.

Regardless, Georgia remains at the lower end of states in revenue growth for the fiscal year as well as the past 12 months.


Whether you are tracking the current fiscal year after three months or looking back a year, Georgia continues to trail other southeastern states in revenue growth. Below are the states we have been able to get current revenue growth figures:



23.1% (Oil revenues causing swing)


8.0 % (Also volatile due to oil revenues)


5.1% (Has traditionally trailed Georgia)







West Virginia

-1.8% (Had extraordinary gains in FY 19-fantasy sports betting, coal)




West Virginia












October was a good month for Georgia's revenues last year and may be this year or it may be hard to beat. While three months is just three months, still it is worrisome that state revenues are so anemic. Additionally, net sales taxes are trending downward as are the fuel tax collections. It is just hard to find any good news in these revenue numbers so far this fiscal year.

October 11-- Robert Toombs Christian Academy hosted a blood drive with the American Red Cross on Wednesday, October 2nd.

RTCA family, friends, faculty, and students were invited to participate in our first annual Battle of the Schools Blood Drive against Bulloch Academy. The school with the most units donated would win the Battle of the Schools trophy.

rtcabloodRTCA students, including Junior Hayden Wiggins (left), donated 29 units of blood, which could save up to 90 lives, and also recruited 13 first-time donors.

RTCA won against Bulloch Academy and would like to thank everyone who came out and donated for a great cause.

We are happy to help increase our community blood supply to ensure hospital patients have the lifesaving blood they need.

October 11--  The Toombs County Board of Education recognized the outstanding performance of two employees at its October meeting.

tcextraoct19The "Extra Mile Award" was presented to English as a Second Language teacher Melanie Hart (center) by Lyons Upper Elementary School Principal Tabatha Nobles (left) and School Superintendent Barry Waller.

tcwowoct19The "WOW Award" was presented to bus driver Elaine Wright (center) by Transportation Director Belinda Denmark and Mr. Waller.

October 11--  Vidalia police arrested a mother who caused a disturbance on a Vidalia school bus.

bookingthompsonAccording to Police Chief Brian Scott, Quintetta Thompson of Vidalia boarded a bus at a stop on Brantley Road and confronted the driver regarding a complaint about her child. Police say she was loud and used profanity while threatening the driver in front of 17 children and the bus monitor.  She was ordered off the bus but refused.  The driver continued his route with the woman on board until she demanded to be let off the bus at which time the driver stopped and she left the bus with her child.

The incident occurred about 6:50 a.m. on Friday, October 4 and about an hour later Thompson asked Vidalia police to investigate.

On Wednesday, October 9, police completed their investigation and arrested Thompson on a felony charge of making Terroristic Threats and a misdemeanor charge of Disruption of a Public School Bus.

Thompson was released from the Toombs County Detention Center Thursday on a $7,500 bond.

October 11--  A former Assistant City Clerk with the City of Soperton has been charged by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for non-payment of her water utility bills.

bookingtaylorAccording to the GBI, 27-year-old Shaquoiya Taylor allegedly did not pay her water bill over a period of several months.  One official estimated an amount of about $800 which means the the theft had been going on for at least a year.  The GBI says she's charged with felony theft of services due to being in a fiduciary position.

Soperton Mayor Royce Fowler says the city asked the GBI to investigate after he became suspicious following an internal audit.  The Mayor says Taylor has been terminated from city employment.

The investigation remains active and anyone with information is asked to call the GBI at 478-374-6988.

October 11--  They don't call it "The Sweetest Little Expo Around" for nothing. 

expoThe annual Business Expo hosted by the Toombs-Montgomery Chamber of Commerce attracted a large group of local businesses and visitors Thursday evening at the Vidalia Community Center. 

The event gives chamber members an opportunity to showcase their goods and services and provides a venue for business networking. 

Chamber officials say about 400 people attended the Expo which featured exhibits hosted by 60 area businesses and organizations.

October 7--  Vidalia Police Chief Brian Scott reports the following arrests.

Greene, Shonciera Marquisha-B/F-21 YOA- 41 Longleaf Dr.- Swainsboro, GA- Driving while License Suspended- Operating Vehicle With Suspended Registration

Thompson, Quinetta – B/F – 29 YOA -502 Brantley Rd, Vidalia/Terroristic Threats or Acts / Disruption or Interferance with Public School

Joseph, Ji-yone Kair – B/M – 17 YOA – 301 E Jenkins St., Vidalia/ Driving while Unlicensed

Jackson, Ricky Deneil Jr. - B/M- 25 YOA- 301 Jane Drive Vidalia, GA- Fleeing or Attempting to Elude Arrest-1st Offense, Willfully Obstruction of Police Officer Simple/Verbal, Reckless Driving, Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (Second)

Hunt, Kayla- B/F- 26 YOA- 1905 Seminole Drive Apt C Vidalia, Ga- Battery (FVA)

Outlaw, Trenton Andrew- B/M- 19 YOA- 504 Ferncliff Dr. Vidalia, Ga- Criminal Trespass/ Exploitation and Intimidation of the Disabled Adults, Elder Persons and Residents Obstruction (FVA)

Clark, Brandi Nicole- W/F- 32 YOA- 304 Victory Cir Lyons, Ga- Theft by Shoplifting 2nd Offense

Foskey, Joey Nicklous- W/M- 26 YOA- 304 Victory Cir. Lyons, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Zoe Beverly, Lyons, Disorderly Conduct

James Darden, Lyons, public drunkeness, possession of a controlled substance

Erin Shelton, Vidalia, disorderly conduct

Christy Hairr, Lyons, damage to private property, disorderly conduct

Raymond Matthews, Uvalda, Stalking

Johnnie Christian, Royston, criminal trespass

Dean Furr, Lyons, DUI, failure to dim headlights

Quentin Jordan, Lyons, driving unlicensed, no tag

Arnold Wright, Lyons, disorderly conduct

Albert Goodman, Lyons, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon

William Carter, Lyons, unlawful possession of firearm or weapon

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Christopher Allen, Baxley, no insurance, acquiring license plate to conceal identity of vehicle, no vehicle registration, required signals

Chasity Carter, Vidalia, failure to appear

Darnell Collins, Vidalia, theft by receiving stolen property, forgery

Shaun Cowart, Lyons, criminal damage to property

John Hayes, Lyons, battery, disorderly conduct

Printress Holland, McDonough, hold without bond for previous Toombs County case

Matthew Holley,  Vidalia, probation violation

George Lewis, Lyons, failure to appear

Christopher McKenzie, Soperton, probation  violation

Cesar Rivas, Lyons, driving with license suspended/revoked, operating vehicle without registration

Michael Scott, Jr., Vidalia, unsigned bond, previous case

Melanie Taylor, Vidalia, probation violation, failure to appear

Jamie Warren, Lyons, battery, disorderly conduct

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

09/29-Carlos Martez Brown, Alamo, Driving w/Suspended License, Possession of Firearm by Convicted Felon

09/29-Regina Holmes, Ailey, Simple Battery (FVA)

09/30-Jhir Michael Williams, Duluth, Felony Probation Violation

09/30-Andrew T. Grimes, Lyons, Misdemeanor Probation Violation

10/01-Joshua William Raper, Uvalda, Improper Stopping in Roadway, Fleeing/Attempting to Elude, Reckless Driving

10/02-Marcus Eugene Warren, Glenwood, Felony Theft by Receiving Stolen Property

10/02-Ronald Lee Kight, Glenwood, Felony Theft by Receiving Stolen Property

10/02-John Herbert Mincey, Reidsville, Printing/Executing/Negotiating Fictitious Checks

10/02-Tony Deron Anderson, Vidalia, Forgery-1st, Possession of Firearm by Convicted Felon

10/05-Clifford Dale Scott, Macon, Speeding, Driving w/Suspended License

October 7--  A teenager shot during an attempted armed robbery has died.

According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, 16-year-old Santana Joyner of Lumber City was wounded during an armed robbery October 3 at a residence at 7 Morse Street in Lumber City.

The GBI reports the homeowner confronted Joyner and two other teenagers during the robbery and fired a shot which hit Joyner.  His alleged accomplices, Ulysses McMillan and LaKyle Harris, both 19, were arrested and charged with aggravated assault and attempted armed robbery.

The investigation is continuing and anyone with information is asked to call the GBI at 478-374-6988.

October 7--  The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is charging a former Bleckley County High School teacher with sexual assault by persons with supervisory or disciplinary authority.

Twenty-five-year old Brantley Aaron Collins was charged with one felony count after the GBI investigated a complaint filed by Bleckley County School Superintendent Steve Smith alleging an inappropriate relationship between Collins and a student at the high school.  Collins resigned September 30.

If anyone has any information regarding this investigation, please contact the GBI Eastman office at 478-374-6988 or the Bleckley County Sheriff’s Office at 478-934-4545.

October 7--  The Lions Club of Lyons named DeVante Willis from Toombs County High School as its September "Student of the Month" for his dedication, commitment and service to others.  The monthly award is sponsored by the Peoples Bank.

LionsStudentSep19(L-R) Lion Mitch Johnson from the Peoples Bank, Student of the Month DeVante Willis and Lions Club President Jason Hall.

jasonedenfield 2October 7--  Jason Edenfield received the Achievement Award from the National Association of County Agriculture Agents during the 2019 Annual Meeting and Professional Improvement Conference held in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Jason Edenfield was one of several honorees who represent the top one percent of the membership selected by their peers and the Director of Extension. 

Jason Edenfield is the County Extension Agent for Toombs County Georgia.  During his career, his main research priority is the world famous Vidalia Onion. Jason has contributed to these trials a chief investigator. The results of these trials have been shared with producers through presentations, posters, journal articles, and extension publications.  These projects have shown producers that UGA Extension is the best source of non-biased research based information on Vidalia Onion production.

TCMSchoolTeachers RonClarkAcademyOct 7--On Friday, September 27th, seven educators from Toombs County Middle School had the opportunity to attend a professional learning experience at the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, Georgia.  The Ron Clark Academy is a " private, non-profit middle school and educator training program in Southeast Atlanta that promotes innovation and inspires its students and educators through energetic teaching balanced by a strict code of discipline."  Educators attended training seminars, observed classrooms, interacted with students and finished the day by sliding down "Big Blue" right out the door and back to Toombs County inspired and ready to incorporate some fresh ideas and strategies into their school and classrooms.  This learning opportunity was sponsored by BB&T, and we are grateful for their support.

By State Representative Greg Morris, Vidalia

With Fall arriving, it is time to resume the People’s House Report. What was a relatively uneventful Summer, turned into very eventful early Fall. Disturbing trends for Georgias economy, the very scary health crisis surrounding vaping, and a disappointing court ruling.

The Georgia Economy. As a member of the House budget writing committee, I attended a hearing in which we were told by the state’s fiscal economist that there was a 50/50 chance of a mild recession next year. We were told to expect a decline in tax collections for the first quarter of this year’s budget. Because of these predictions, Gov. Kemp has ordered state agencies to cut 4% from their budgets for this fiscal year (July ’19 through July’20) and 6% from next year’s budget(July’20 through July’21). The Governors plan would exempt k-12 schools, Medicaid, and transportation. The cuts would trim 200 million this year, and 300 million next year. The severity of the cuts are to adjust to what appears to be a possible economic downturn, but also to reallocate recourses to fund his priorities such as completing the teacher pay raise.

The first two months of fiscal 2020 saw revenue collections fall short of projections by 97 million. Those are serious scary numbers. One of the advantages from being around for a while is that you know a little more about what to expect. The mild recession of 2003 and the Great Recession of 2008 proved there are no easy answers or magic bullets in cutting budgets . The new projected cuts could go deep among the non-exempted agencies, such as the DNR, GBI, Georgia State Patrol and Behavioral Health. And that’s not acceptable either. I applaud Gov. Kemp for taking decisive action on behalf of the taxpayers of Georgia as a precaution. I also applaud Speaker Ralston and Lt. Gov. Duncan for calling House and Senate budget writers to the Capitol early to begin work on the budget early. I just hope the economist and the projections prove wrong

Heartbeat Bill/H.B.481. Federal Judge Steve C. Jones issued a ruling last week that blocks H.B.481 from taking effect Jan. 1 2020. The American Civil Liberties Union, the miserable curs they are, sued Georgia saying the law that bans abortions once a doctor can detect a fetal heartbeat is unconstitutional. The ruling was not a surprise to me but a disappointment nevertheless, and another example of judicial activism overriding the will of the people expressed through their elected representatives. I don’t believe we will prevail in any court other than the Supreme Court, with Justice Kavanaugh hopefully being the deciding vote in favor of life. Gov. Kemp has pledged to keep Georgia in the fight for the unborn, appealing every unfavorable ruling against H.B. 481.

Vaping. Georgia has confirmed at least one death in Georgia that is being blamed on vaping. The Georgia Poison Center has received 19 reports people at emergency rooms suffering from lung illnesses due to vaping. About 25% reported vaping liquid THC. The Center said most of the patients are in their 20s and 30s , but some were teenagers and one was 13 years old. According to a Georgia State study, vaping is not effective stopping tobacco smoking as most smoker wind up using both. It also appears only 20% of THC products on the market are legally produced. Rep. Gerald Greene of Cuthbert plans to introduce legislation banning the sale of flavored vaping products and restricting advertising targeted toward kids which I plan to support.

Oct 4-- Toombs County Middle School announces September Students of the Month. These students are recognized for academic progress, attendance and citizenship. 

September students of the month are: (From the Top) - 1st Row: Gabriel Davis, Melanie Aguilar, and Yovanny Zamorano-Gonzalez | 2nd Row: Jackson Jenkins, Breanna Rodgriguez, and Ethan Story |3rd Row: Maritza Zamorano, LIam Pittman, and Samantha Carter |4th Row: Jeronimo Landa-Sanchez, Layasia Johnson, and Clay Conner |5th Row: Randi Rollins and Aleah Carroll | Not pictured: Marlee Allen
Front Row: Mary Frances Stanley (Junior Miss), Tucker Absher (Little Mister), Kyler Riner (Little Miss), Kennedy McIntire (Tiny Miss)
Back Row: Rob Moore (Mr. RTCA), Samantha Threlkeld (Miss RTCA), and Rachel Threlkeld (Teen Miss)

Oct 4--Robert Toombs Christian Academy held its annual Mr. and Miss RTCA pageant Monday, September 30th at Southeastern Technical College in Vidalia. This year’s theme was “Wild West” and was sponsored by the Junior class. There were 21 contestants who competed in seven categories ranging from Little Mister to Mr. and Miss RTCA. The Mr. RTCA winner was chosen by the people’s votes during the pageant. There was also a $1,000 scholarship awarded to the Miss RTCA winner. The evening's emcee was alumnae Amanda Moore, former Miss RTCA 2009, and entertainment for the evening was provided by Vidalia Ballet. Congratulations to all of the contestants.

Oct 4-- Thank you to Andy’s Home Center for their generous donation to Lyons Upper Elementary School. They donated a picnic table and trash cans for the playground.

Andy’s Home Center
Deven Tennant and Jesse Flowers of Andy’s Home Center, and Joy Weaver of LUES
Trevor Sconyers, FCCLA State Secretary leaving critical information for our Senators and State Representatives advocating for the government to double the investment in CTE.

Oct 4-- The U.S. Capitol was filled with youth from around the country as Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) and Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) professionals united in Washington, D.C. for FCCLA’s Capitol Leadership to advocate for additional funding for Career and Technical Education (CTE) September 30—October 2.
Trevor Sconyers, Toombs County High School senior and Georgia FCCLA State Officer, was the only student from Georgia who attended FCCLA’s Capitol Leadership where he used his voice and passion to join together with youth leaders from across the nation in meetings with congressional leaders promoting the need to double the funding for CTE. Trevor had the opportunity to personally meet with the staffers of Senators Johnny Isakson and David Perdue along with a staffer from the office of Representative Rick Allen to seek support for making Family and Consumer Sciences education available for every student in every state within every school. In addition to Trevor's scheduled meetings, he also had the opportunity to leave materials with our other 13 representatives from Georgia.
“It was an amazing experience to be able to advocate for the organization I am passionate about, FCCLA. FCCLA has helped me grow in so many different ways, and I am proud to be apart of a movement that can help continue our program for as long as possible!” said Trevor Sconyers, Georgia FCCLA State Secretary from Toombs County High School
Capitol Leadership was the first national FCCLA gathering held this school year. FCCLA members and other FCS leaders will continue to strengthen leadership skills, learn important real world skills, and explore Career Pathways through FCCLA’s upcoming conferences and events including: National Fall Conference in Dallas, TX, Industry Immersion in Chicago, IL, and the 2020 National Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C.

October 3--  A couple of weeks ago, Vidalia High School led schools in our eleven-county area with the highest graduation rate and now the school's students have the highest Scholastic Aptitude Scores.

School Principal John Sharpe observes, "It says that those students who are serious about education are being prepared for college.  Colleges are using the SAT as an indicator as to whether a student can be successful.  There's a great deal of pressure being put on students, but they're getting prepared with their classes and are scoring real well."

Vidalia High School's composite mean score of 1,029 points is 21 points higher than its nearest competitor, but Principal Sharpe says the SAT is only part of the equation to get into college, "Not only is it an SAT score and good grades, one of the things a lot of schools are looking for is what is that one thing a child does that distinguishes them from everyone else and that could be school involvement in extracurricular activities, community involvement through volunteering. those are all the things we encourage students to do to make that resume more impressive.

The other area schools in the top five are Appling County High School, Metter High School, Tattnall County High School and Montgomery County High School.

Rounding out the eleven schools in order of precedence are Jeff Davis High School, Emanuel County Institute, Toombs County High School, Swainsboro High School,Treutlen High School and Wheeler County High School.

All of the schools in the area had scores below the state and national mean scores.

2019 Scholastic Aptitude Results in Area High Schools




Total Mean Score

Vidalia High School




Appling Co HS




Metter HS




Tattnall Co HS




Montgomery Co HS




Jeff Davis Co HS








Toombs Co HS




Swainsboro HS




Treutlen HS




Wheeler Co HS




State of Georgia




United States




October 3-- Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said Thursday that the Heart of Georgia region made gains across the board in August.  

Preliminary results showed the 17-county area saw unemployment rates and unemployment claims fall while it made gains in employed residents and labor force.

“Georgia had another strong month in August,” said Butler. “The state set several records. Our local communities saw fewer unemployment claims filed as well as a drop in unemployment rates.”

Nationally, the unemployment rate was unchanged in August at 3.7 percent. The nation also grew its labor force, increased the number of employed residents and added more 130,000 jobs.

Georgia’s unemployment rate also held constant in August, staying at 3.6 percent.  A year ago, Georgia’s unemployment rate sat at 3.8 percent. The state’s all-time low of 3.4 percent was set in December 2000.

Rates fell or held steady across 10 of Georgia’s 12 planning regions.

In the region, the unemployment rate fell in August by 0.7 percentage points, settling at 5.1 percent. A year ago, the rate was 5.1 percent.

The labor force increased in August by 432. The August total was 117,495. That number is up by 985 from the total from August 2018. 

The Heart of Georgia region ended August with 111,465 employed residents.  The number increased by 1,217 in August and rose by 901 as compared to last August.

The number of unemployment claims fell in August by about 60 percent. When compared to last August, claims were down by 21 percent.

The Heart of Georgia region includes Appling, Bleckley, Candler, Dodge, Emanuel, Evans, Jeff Davis, Johnson, Laurens, Montgomery, Tattnall, Telfair, Toombs, Treutlen, Wayne, Wheeler, and Wilcox counties.

Employ Georgia, the GDOL’s online job listing service at showed 733 active job postings in Heart of Georgia  region for August.

9 30 19 JROTC 2October 3-- On Saturday, September 28th, the local Thunderbolt regiment held an area Raider competition on the campus of the Southeastern Early College and Career Academy. Nine teams from eight different area schools competed in the competition.

The participants were Bryan County, Jenkins County, Metter, Southeast Bulloch, Statesboro, two teams from Ware County and the local Thunderbolts. Statesboro won the overall competition and following closely behind were the local Thunderbolt regiment. Metter finished third, Bryan County fourth and the Ware County A Team fifth.

JROTC Lead Instructor Captain DeCarlos Ware was pleased with the competition. “We had a great day today. I want to thank the administrators for providing us with the necessary resources. We had eight teams come out. A lot of good competition today, the teams fought hard. It was all about teamwork,” said Ware.

While winning is the ultimate goal during any competition, understanding the discipline and teamwork needed to do well in these competitions is what Captain Ware wants his cadets to get from the competition. Ware said, “We want to win each week but bottom line we want the kids to understand it’s all about teamwork, reaching down inside and finding out something about yourself you didn’t know you had.”

Captain Ware wants the cadets to remember these competitions later in life and remember the struggles they went through to succeed so that they can use that motivation in their everyday lives. 9 30 19 JROTC 3

October 2--  Ariel Hart of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports on the expected purchase of Meadows Regional Medical Center in Vidalia by the Hospital Corporation of America.

"A private hospital company has signed a contract to work toward taking over the public hospital in Vidalia.

"The company, HCA, or Hospital Corporation of America, already owns the major hospital in Savannah and one in Waycross. Adding the hospital in Vidalia would give HCA dominance in several counties near coastal Georgia.
"The agreement between HCA and the Vidalia hospital’s nonprofit parent, Meadows Health, would include the hospital, its cancer center and outpatient facilities, and, importantly, its network of physician practices.

“The Meadows Health Board is comprised of community members who are passionate about ensuring that our health system remains stable, strong and growing despite the increasingly challenging dynamics in healthcare,” Meadows Health Board Chairman Mike Calhoun said in a statement announcing the agreement.

"The statement does not specify whether HCA will buy the hospital or work out some other arrangement but says they are working toward alignment.

"The current contract is a letter of intent. HCA and Meadows will now begin a period of due diligence and negotiate a “definitive” agreement, the two organizations said in a joint statement. When they have a deal, they will file it with the state Attorney General’s Office and hold a public hearing about it in Vidalia.

"Having a public hospital means having public input and more transparency in what the hospital does, but it also carries risks for taxpayers. Meadows Health and its affiliates were hit in 2017 with a $12.9 million settlement by the U.S. Department of Justice and the state over allegations they were illegally paying doctors to refer patients to them.

"Running a hospital also isn’t cheap. Health costs are rising much faster than overall inflation. Meadows CEO James Alan Kent was paid $929,000 in reportable compensation in 2017, according to tax forms, the latest year public forms are available. That is less than the top doctor was paid. (The hospital notes the CEO’s pay was usually half that amount but that year he received a one-time payout.)

"About the time HCA bought Memorial University Medical Center, by far the largest of three hospitals in Savannah, Memorial had run staggering losses, up to $44 million one year.

"The biggest concern analysts often have for an area when hospital consolidation occurs is that prices will rise as competition decreases. A dominant hospital system can use its leverage as the only game in the region to raise prices substantially. But a spokeswoman for Meadows wrote in an email that “we would expect that cost to our patients would remain largely unchanged.”

"The spokeswoman, Elizabeth Harvill, said patients with private insurance generally have out-of-pocket costs set by the insurance plan, and rates with Medicare and Medicaid are set by government. For uninsured patients, she said, HCA’s charitable care policies are “more generous than many hospitals in Georgia.”

"She did not address costs to insurance companies, which filter down to patients in premium prices."

Nick Overstreet Town Hall PicOctober 2-- Last week the City of Vidalia held a town hall meeting at St. Paul AME Church to get the input from the public about issues they may be having in the city. A large crowd was on hand and listened to each department head discuss their individual departments plus a question and answer session afterwards.

Vidalia City Manager Nick Overstreet shared his thoughts on the meeting. “The reason for the town hall meeting was to allow the public to come out and hear from our department heads, hear what they had to say and what they’re working on and educate them about the everyday happenings of the city. Secondly, it was to give them an opportunity to have a question and answer session with all of us and I think both of those goals were accomplished tonight,” said Overstreet.

Overstreet added, “I think tonight went very well and overall I think everyone was happy with what they were told about and informed and that’s half our battle. We want our citizens to be educated and know what’s going on in the city because he or she may see something and not know what’s going on and this provides us with an opportunity to do that. And yes, we’re going to continue this.”

Christian, a citizen of Vidalia thought the meeting went well. “It was very informative and was much needed. It was a chance for the citizens of Vidalia to come out and meet the people that they may not have known about and hear about the issues that are going on,” said Christian.

He had an issue that he brought to their attention also and was pleased with their response. “I spoke with both the department heads that the issue was regarding and I believe they will analyze it and make the changes that need to be made and to be more receptive to the problems in the community,” added Christian.

Sept 25-- Vidalia High School participated in Active Schools' third Annual 'Take Your Parent to PE Week' on 9/24/2019, where parents were welcomed to join their child in physical education class.
Take Your Parent to PE Week is a fun, immersive way to introduce parents to the physical education program and teachers at their child's school. The weeklong, national campaign encourages parents to engage with PE throughout the year and encourages families to be physically active together at home and in the community.
“At Vidalia High School we know that physical learning plays a vital role in the overall development of our students," said Principal John Sharpe. "Daily activity is crucial for students' healthy physical, social and emotional, and academic development. We are proud to give it the attention it deserves in our curriculum."
Vidalia High School's Parents to PE is led by Coach Missy Owens, who was excited to welcome her students' parents to class and demonstrate the day-to-day physical learning she provides.
"Our school is very engaged with parents, but generally it's the classroom teachers and counselors who get all the facetime when it comes time for conferences and open house," said Coach Missy Owens, "I'm excited to show off my curriculum! A lot has changed for the better since many parents have been to PE class, and I thoroughly enjoyed showing that."
Participating parents attended class and participated in activities such as warm-up activities (running and stretching/Yoga). Parents then lifted weights with their child. Everyone finished up the activity with a fun game "Alphonso Ball" and had a BLAST! Sponsors Spivey Orthopedics and SMILE orthodontics provided sample items that parents could take home with them.

SOM Sept 19October 1--  Toombs Central Elementary Students of the Month.

Back Row (Left to Right)  Antonio Garcia (Fourth Grade), Catie Jane Campbell (Second Grade), Jakob Page (Fifth Grade).  Middle Row (Left to Right) Om Patel (Kindergarten), Harper Underwood (Third Grade). Front Row:  Oakley Mays (Pre-K).  Not pictured:  Angelina Tinoco (First Grade) 

October 1-- Dr. Charles Howell, Pediatric Surgeon at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia in Augusta was in town recently to speak to the local Kiwanis club about the hospital’s work. Though based in Augusta, they do work all over Georgia.

“The Children’s Hospital of Georgia is the pediatric hospital for the Medical College of Georgia. We take care of kids from all over the state of Georgia, all 159 counties that might have a complex or straight forward pediatric medical problem or a complex or straight forward pediatric surgical problem. We are available 24/7 with our 154 bed hospital. We have the highest level of intensive of the neo-natal ICU or pediatric ICU,” said Howell.

When it comes to caring for kids from all over Georgia, funding can sometimes be an issue. “We all know what an unfunded mandate is, when we’re asked to do something but aren’t given the resources to make it happen. Taking care of children is like an unfunded mandate. Most kids across Georgia are covered with Georgia Medicaid,” stated Howell.

“The remainders of children in Georgia are covered by a third party insurance or they don’t have any coverage at all. Our unfunded mandate is to take care of the kids of Georgia,” said Howell.

In addition to covering kids all over the state of Georgia. He added, “You know we’re fortunate that we’ve taken care of kids all over Georgia and we did over 200 procedures on kids from Toombs and Montgomery Counties just this past year. Someone’s doctor down here sent them to us and for that we appreciate it.”