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November 30--  A clerk at the Circle K convenience store on Highway 280 in Vidalia was shot during an armed robbery around 9 p.m. Friday night. An investigation is currently underway and Vidalia Police Chief Brian Scott confirms that an arrest has been made in the case. 

The following Press Release has been issued by the Vidalia Police Department.


On Friday, November 29, 2019, at about 9:00 PM officers with the Vidalia Police Department and
deputies with the Toombs County Sheriff’s Office responded to an armed robbery at the Circle K
convenience store, 905 E. First Street. One of the store clerks, a 48-year-old Vidalia resident, was
shot once during the robbery. The victim was transported to the Emergency Department of Meadows
Regional Health where he was treated and released.

The initial investigation revealed a lone male entered the store armed with a handgun and demanded
money from the store clerk. After complying with the robber’s demand, the clerk was shot once by
the offender who then fled on foot. Vidalia Police patrol officers and investigators worked together
throughout the night investigating the incident and following up on leads. During the investigation,
19-year-old Jamie Sanders, Jr. of Vidalia was identified as having been the person who committed
the robbery and shooting.

On November 30, 2019, at about 3:00 AM Sanders was located hiding inside a room at the Econo
Inn and arrested without incident. He is charged with one count of Armed Robbery and one count of
Aggravated Assault, and is incarcerated in the Toombs County Detention Center.

If you have information on this incident please call the Vidalia Police Department - Criminal
Investigations Division at 912-537-4123 or CrimeStoppers at (912) 386-4480.

November 27 -- For the twentieth consecutive year God's Storehouse and the Jesus Inn in Vidalia prepared for their annual community Thanksgiving dinner. The event took place on Wednesday, November 27th and they fed nearly 1,600 people from the community.  Pastor Tina Houser of God's Storehouse and the Jesus Inn says, "I am doing this for the needy and the people that don't have food. I am trying to provide a home cooked meal for them."  Although God's Storehouse and the Jesus Inn is trying to meet the need for the community, Houser says, "the need is getting greater, not smaller, and it just breaks my heart over the people that are hungry." 

Not only was there a great need this year, the need continues after Thanksgiving. According to Pastor Houser, "the need is still here after Thanksgiving, that is why we have the shelter and food/clothing ministry. We need canned goods and money to support the facility so we can provide food and housing for the homeless."  For those interested in helping combat the problem of homelessness in our community, they can reach Pastor Houser at 538-1730.

November 27-- Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said Wednesday that Heart of Georgia region posted a lower unemployment rate in October.

At the same time, the number of employed residents increased in October across the 17-county area, preliminary numbers show.

“October was a great month for Georgia and our local communities,” Butler said. “We continued to create jobs and people gained employment – often at record numbers.”

Nationally, the unemployment rate climbed in October to 3.6 percent, an increase of 0.1 percentage points. The nation also grew to its labor force by 325,000, increased employment by 241,000 and added more 125,000 jobs. 

Georgia’s unemployment rate, meanwhile, fell in October by 0.1 percentage points to 3.4 percent. That tied Georgia’s all-time low set in December of 2000.  

Rates fell or held steady across nine of Georgia’s 12 planning regions. Seven set or tied a record for lowest rate ever.

In Heart of Georgia, the unemployment rate dropped 0.2 percentage points in October, settling at 4.2 percent. A year ago, the rate was 4.5 percent.

The labor force in Heart of Georgia decreased by 282 in October, bringing the total to 116,150. The number has decreased by 1,239 when compared to the same month a year ago.

Heart of Georgia added four employed residents in October, bringing the total to 111,289. The number is down 822 for the year.

Claims for unemployment insurance were up by about 32 percent in October. They were down by about 31 percent when compared to the same month a year ago.

Employ Georgia, the GDOL’s online job listing service at showed 877 active job postings in Heart of Georgia for October.

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.

November 27--
The Vidalia Board of Education recently met at a called meeting to address assurances for their participation in  SECCA at the High School level and according to Superintendent Garrett Wilcox, "We approved our MOU which allows the four schools systems, Montgomery, Toombs, Vidalia, and Treutlen to enter into an agreement that allows us to combine resources. That being said, it gives our students more opportunities to be exposed to vocational based classes as well as ROTC."
One important goal when it comes to having a program like SECCA is keeping students engaged, something that Dr. Wilcox says, "is evident by all four systems improved graduation rate."
Additionally, SECCA in cooperation with Altamaha EMC and Georgia Power added an "energy pathway" for students to be exposed to job opportunities within the energy field.

November 25-- Sheriff Alvie (Junior) Kight reports that between October 25 - November 1, 2019, there were 87 reported registered sex offenders (RSO) residing within Toombs County, with two being classified as predators, which is determined by the sex offender registration review board to be at risk of perpetrating any future dangerous sexual offense.

There were no homeless offenders or absconders reported to be residing in Toombs County as of October 25, 2019.  

There were 88 attempted residence verifications, which included multiple attempts for each offender during the week of October 25 - November 1, 2019. One warrant was issued for residence violations during this same week.

There were no warrants issued for new sex offenders or for violation of sex offender registration (SOR), other than residence violations.

From the Georgia Sheriff’s Association 

Thanks to an initiative involving Georgia’s Sheriffs, 40 sex offenders were arrested and 147 warrants issued across the state from October 25 - November 1, 2019 for violations of state registration laws. In 2015, the first coordinated effort across the state was launched to conduct residence verification and compliance checks of registered sex offenders during a specific time period. The coordinated initiative became known as Operation Watchful Eye. Due to the overwhelming success of the original initiative, Georgia’s sheriffs have made this an annual operation and recently conducted Operation Watchful Eye IV.

The Office of Sheriff is mandated by law to register sex offenders and to keep the public informed of where registered sex offenders reside, work and attend school. Throughout the year, each sheriff’s office verifies addresses provided by registered sex offenders. While conducting residence verifications, deputies also assure additional registration requirements are being adhered to.

The purpose of this statewide effort is to create awareness that sheriffs’ offices work collectively, network, and actively engage their office by participating in statewide verification checks and other non-compliant matters in order to make our state safer. In numerous counties, deputy sheriffs, U.S. Marshals, U.S. Probation officers and Department of Community Supervision probation/ parole officers worked together to verify sex offenders comply with the law.

Preliminary reporting by 77 sheriff’s offices reveals 9,178 registered sex offenders, 240 predators and 123 homeless sex offenders are currently living in their counties. During the seven-day operation, 7,3535 residence verifications were conducted, 96 new sex offenders moved into the reporting counties, 18 new warrants were issued for residency violations of the sex offender registry law, 13 warrants were issued for new sex offenses, 48 other miscellaneous new charges. More importantly, it was discovered that 190 sex offenders had absconded from their last known address, which will require the sheriff to work with other supporting agencies and track these individuals down.

Remember, for the protection of your family and neighbors, visit your local sheriff’s office website at or visit the for more information on the whereabouts of registered sex offenders in your community.

November 25 --

On Thursday, Nov. 14, Meadows Regional Medical Center nursing staff held a special Clinical
Ladder Awards Ceremony to recognize and promote registered nurses and clinical staff for their level of
achievement. Meadows Regional Medical Center Vice President of Patient Care Services and Chief
Nursing Officer, Jeffrey Harden, presented each recipient with a certificate and check based on their
level of completion within the program.

The Clinical Ladder Program was put in place by Meadows to boost professional development among
clinical bedside leaders and improve quality of patient care. Several models can be used for creating
clinical ladder programs. Meadows’ Clinical Ladder Program includes four levels of development. Serving
as a clinical preceptor for The Bridge to Professional Practice Program where participants serve as
mentors to new graduate nurses and new employees. National certification where nurses and other
professionals are accredited by a professional subspecialty as clinical experts. Clinical Excellence Council
which serves as a form of a shared governance models, these individuals represent each unit across the
organization and come together over the course of a year to develop strategic initiatives that drive
quality, staff retention, and overall organizational improvements, members are then challenged to
initiate and communicate the efforts to their peers within the department. The final level is advanced
healthcare degrees, employees who have obtained a Bachelor's degree or higher are recognized for
their effort for continued education.

“I am so honored to work with this group of professionals,” said Jeffrey Harden, Meadows Regional
Medical Center Vice President of Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer. “We accomplished a
lot as a team this year. This is a wonderful opportunity for our clinical staff to get involved and truly
control their own work environment. I am thankful that our organization can have this type of program
to encourage continued growth and development among our clinical team.”

Clinical Ladder 2019


November 25 -- The Toombs County Redcoat Marching Band competed at the East Georgia Regional Marching Championships on October 26. The competition was held at Statesboro High School. The band received the following ratings in Class AA: 

Percussion - Excellent

Auxiliary - Superior

Drum Major - Superior

Overall - Superior


November 25 -- Toombs County Middle School announces its November Students of the Month.  These students have worked hard to obtain this by having good grades, attendance and citizenship.  Back Row:Tommie Hower, Kimberly Borja, Dawton Hitchcock, Kylee Edwards, Javier Gonzalez, Edlyn Botello, Lashunn McArthur,Jr., and Shivani Patel.  Front row: Michael Polke, LaDiamond Mosley, Denya Ramirez-Leon, Osvaldo Tinoco, Ally Goodwin, and Lynet Casas.

November 25--

Meadows Regional Medical Center Lab Phlebotomist Sheila Gupton and The Tommy and Shirley Strickland Cancer Center RN Candace Martinez received awards Monday, Nov. 11. Gupton received the Meadows Moment Award, and Martinez received the November Daisy Award. The Meadows Moment Award was created to recognize staff members and physicians who are noticed for exemplifying Meadows’ values of compassion, teamwork and integrity. Awards are given to
deserving employees for coming up with new ideas, helping coworkers, and other efforts that bring value to the team.

The Daisy Award was established in memory of J. Patrick Barnes, who died at 33 of complications of Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP), a little known but not uncommon auto-immune disease. The family noticed that during the course of Patrick’s illness the extraordinary care he received from
nurses made a difference not only in his health but his personal well-being. The family wanted to recognize the extraordinary work nurses do daily while performing other duties involved in caring for their patients. The Daisy Award for Extraordinary Nurses is a nationally recognized award that is
celebrated across the country. Recipients from Meadows become part of an elite group of professionals
across the nation. 

“The extra steps that Shelia and Candy both took to ensure one of our Cancer Center patients’ needs were met are extremely touching and also exemplify the types of actions that go unnoticed by so many in the healthcare field but make a lasting impact on the patients’ lives who are affected, “said Jeffrey
Harden, Meadows Vice President of Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer. Gupton has been employed with Meadows since 2008 and currently resides in Vidalia. Martinez has been employed with Meadows since 2013 and currently resides in Baxley.

Sheila Gupton Candace Martinez

Sheila Gupton, Meadows Regional Medical Center Lab Phlebotomist,
and Candace Martinez, The Tommy and Shirley Strickland Cancer Center RN, receives awards Monday,
Nov. 11. Gupton received the Meadows Moment Award, and Martinez received the November Daisy
Award. Front row left to right: Assistant Vice President of Post-Acute Care Johnny Carroll; Lab
Phlebotomist Sheila Gupton; RN Candace Martinez; RN OCN Director of Cancer Care Services Samantha
Walker. Back row left to right: Vice President of Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer Jeffrey
Harden; Assistant Vice President of Quality and Process Improvement Robert Lummus; Vice President of
Physician Enterprise Mid McCain; Vice President of Revenue Cycle Operations/Information Services
Mike Hagan; Chief Operating Officer James Nixon; Chief Financial Officer Tony O’Steen.


Pictured L-R: Vice President of GISA Dr. Stan Whitlock, Mrs. Lampp, and President of GISA Dr. Jeff Jackson

November 25 -- Robert Toombs Christian Academy is proud to announce that Ashley Lampp, High School Science Teacher, was recognized as a GISA Master Teacher on Monday, November 11th at the South GISA Conference in Valdosta. At this conference, the "Master Teachers" were recognized and received a plaque and pin to commemorate all their hard work.

Last school year, Mrs. Lampp was nominated by Mr. Absher to participate in the GISA Master Teacher Program. “Mrs. Lampp encompasses all of the qualities that we want in a teacher. She is extremely knowledgeable in her content area; she is dedicated, approachable, caring, and has a passion for educating young people. Mrs. Lampp goes above and beyond the call of duty and is willing to do whatever it takes to help each one of her students. She has high expectations for her students and pushes them so that they are ready for the rigorous college work that lies ahead,” states Mr. Absher, Head of School at RTCA.

Mrs. Lampp worked on her portfolio during the Spring semester and submitted it to be considered in May. She had to collect letters of recommendation, document her teaching practices, present proof of collaboration with other teachers, write several self-reflections, and even film herself teaching several times. Once all of the qualifications were completed, her portfolio was reviewed by the Master Teacher Review board over the summer.

In August, she found out that out of 36 schools across the state and 160 plus members of the GISA Master Teacher Program, she was chosen to be recognized as a "GISA Master Teacher". “The portfolio was a lot of work, yet very rewarding to see how far I have come since being a new teacher. I think it is very important for experienced teachers to push themselves and not get complacent. I am always looking for ways to push myself so that I can better serve my students. The opportunity to participate in the GISA Master Teacher Program provided opportunities for self-reflection that I feel are necessary for personal growth,” states Mrs. Lampp.

Mr. Absher acknowledges that “after reviewing the portfolio that she turned in to the GISA, I proudly say that she represented our school well and is very deserving of this recognition.”

2019 10 28 12.35.09
L - R: Lion Mitch Johnson (representative from Peoples Bank), T.J. Jackson (Student of the Month), LaRee Findley (Teacher, RTCA)

November 25--The Lyons Lions Club Student of the Month program is a program that recognizes deserving students for their “Dedication, Commitment and Service to Others” and is sponsored by Peoples Bank.

For the month of October the award was presented to T.J. Jackson of Robert Toombs Christian Academy.  In addition to this honor, T.J. has also recently been elected President of the newly formed RTCA Leo Club which the Lyons Lions Club is honored to sponsor.  Teacher, LaRee Findley is the club advisor.

By State Senator Jack Hill, Reidsville


Farmers who have been looking to the production of hemp to give them another cash crop are moving closer to being able to produce the product.

The State Department of Agriculture issued a notice on Oct. 31, 2019 called an interim final rule which   formalized the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program which was published in the Federal Register.

Action by U.S.D.A. in issuing rules and regulations followed the inclusion of allowances for hemp production in the Farm Bill passed by Congress last year.


U.S.D.A. expects to approve state plans within 60 days of submission. Once approved, Georgia is set to move quickly with a Domestic Hemp Production Program and activate the Georgia Hemp Farming Act. Georgia's rules will be finalized after posting final notice for 20 days with the Georgia Secretary of State.


The early settlers in America grew hemp, even requiring its production in Jamestown as a necessary and acceptable resource. States in the 1700's even offered bounties to support its production.

The Declaration of Independence's first drafts were on hemp paper and it is believed that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp on their farms.

As other fibers became common, hemp lost favor and in the 1930's concerns were raised over the narcotic use of Cannabis and the use of marijuana resulting in the passage of the Marihuana & Tax Act of 1937. The act also created the Bureau of Narcotics.

Soon the Bureau announced they would treat and penalize the possession of any plant that could be considered marijuana and would be treated as marijuana.

The United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1970 defined marijuana as a schedule one narcotic. Cannabis sativa L continued to be classified as a narcotic until the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018.


The 2018 Farm Bill did two major things that changed everything for potential hemp growers. One, it defined hemp as the plant Cannabis sativa L with a THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) level of 0.3% or less. This allowed for hemp to be removed from the list of schedule one narcotics.

Second, the 2018 Farm Bill established guidelines for states to set up their own registry and licensing programs for hemp production.

The bill required the regulation of growing in conjunction with USDA and for each state to submit a plan for its regulation to USDA.

Federal requirements include maintaining information on the land for production, procedures for testing for THC level and how nonconforming plants would be disposed of.


Georgia's Hemp production bill closely tracked the parameters of the federal Farm Bill. The Act include procedures for testing and for destroying the crop if THC levels are out of compliance, higher than 0.3% and provides a process for destroying the crop.

There are two kinds of registrations for grower's licenses and processor's permits. One permit can be applied for annually and fees are assessed depending on the number of acres the farmer intends to plant. The fee is $50.00 per acre with a cap of $5000.

Processors can apply for one permit at $25,000 for the first year and $10,000 yearly afterward. There are requirements on both the farmer and processor as far as the background of employees.


As expected, there are a number of very specific rules and regulations regarding the production of hemp. Applicants must list the GPS coordinates of the growing site. Additionally, each site under an acre or visible from the highway must have a 36 inch by 24 inch sign stating that the site is a hemp grower's site listing the licensee, license number Ga Department of Agriculture's phone number.

For further info and registration of intent to register to grow, contact:


This past Tuesday, November 19, a hemp production meeting was held in Waynesboro featuring Dr. Timothy Coolong speaking.

Apparently, the USDA is in the comment period and Georgia's approval won't start until final release of USDA's regulations are complete.

November 22--  Vidalia Police Chief Brian Scott reports the following arrests.

Thigpen, Login Ciara- W/F- 26 YOA- 138 Zandra Ave. Lyons, Ga.- Criminal Trespass

Pinkston, Reggie Tyrone- B/M- 17 YOA- 607 E 7th St. Vidalia, Ga.- Battery-Family Violence

Bostic, Teandrea Dereshoe- B/F- 39 YOA- 624 Fourth Ave. Vidalia, Ga.- Warrant Served, Child Support Violation

Dixon, Rosemary Hulett- W/F- 41 YOA- 705 E First St. Vidalia, Ga.- Theft by Shoplifting 2nd Offense

Lawhorn, Joshua Dennis- W/M- 39 YOA- 607 Lawson Rd. Perry, Ga.- Warrant Served, Failure To Appear

Kirkland, Shanyya V.- B/F- 28 YOA- 903 E. 5th St. Vidalia, Ga. Disorderly Conduct

Atkins, Devin Cortez- B/M- 25 YOA- 911 Bay St. Vidalia, GA Possession of Firearms by Convicted Felon, Possession of Marijuana Less Than Ounce

Phillips, Macobia Anthony- B/M- 26 YOA- 710 Sly St. Vidalia, GA- Possession of Marijuana Less Than Ounce

Jackson, Keith Tyeree- B/M-26 YOA- 900 W. Second St. Vidalia, GA- Possession of Marijuana Less Than Ounce

Phillips, Shacobia Antony- B/M- 26 YOA- 710 Sly St. Vidalia, GA- Possession of Marijuana Less Than Ounce

Nichols, Nicholas Darren- B/M- 26 YOA- 703 Winona St. Vidalia, GA- Possession of Marijuana Less Than Ounce

Collins, Michael - W/M- 22 YOA- 28 Middle Rd. Collins, Ga.- Theft By Shoplifting 2nd Offense

Green, Brandon - B/M- 19 YOA- 352 E Grady Ave, Lyons, Ga.- Robbery

Montano Maldonado, Ronal D. - W/M- 19 YOA- 678 Victory Cir., Lyons, Ga.- Robbery

Baker, Tekelia- B/M- 18 YOA- 318 Toombs St. Vidalia, Ga.- Robbery

Toby, Tyquan - B/M- 18 YOA- 185 North Hall St. Lyons, Ga.- Robbery

Gillis, L.C. Jr.- B/M- 62 YOA- 200 Morris St. Vidalia, Ga- Theft by Shoplifting 2nd Offense

Whitaker, Brittany Lynn- W/F- 29 YOA- 1941 Hwy 1 S, Lyons, Ga- Theft by Shoplifting 2nd Offense

Mclendon, Shannon Michael- W/M- 38YOA- 283 James St. Vidalia, GA- Theft by Taking - Financial Transaction Card Fraud

Durant, Xavier Myshon Tyreek-B/M 26 YOA- 321 Jerriel St Apartment 40-Vidalia, GA- Willingfully Obstruction of Police Officer Severe- Forceful / Simple Battery

Sharpe, Glenn Edward- B/M- 25 YOA- 201 Roller St. Mount Vernon, GA- Warrant Served (Montgomery County SOProbation)

Walker, Tykevious- B/M- 20 YOA- 607 E. Seventh St. Vidalia, GA- Aggravated Assault (x4), Aggravated Battery (x2), Cruelty to Children

Bradley, Tyshon- B/M- 47 YOA- 213 Dexter St. Vidalia, GA Discharge of Gun, Pistol Near Public Hwy, Street/Criminal Use of an Article with an Altered Identification Mark

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Leon Alfonso, Lyons, DUI, open container, traffic violations

Alexander Mainer, Vidalia, DUI, speeding

Jonathan Gillis, Lyons, open container, underage possession of alcohol, failure to dim headlight

Gary Miller, Lyons, possession of marijuana

Koneechee Hudson, Vidalia, child restraint violation,giving false info to officer, driving while license suspended/revoked

Christopher Tooke, Tarrytown, discharging firearm

Michael Britton, Brunswick, open container, public drunkeness

Lynn Cherry, Vidalia, warrant served

Nathaniel Horne, Lyons, shoplifting

Jerome Reddish, Reidsville, DUI, headlights

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

David Garcia, Vidalia, DUI, speeding

Kenneth Griffin, 210 Washington St., Vidalia, registration of sex offender

Justin Kersey, Lyons, aggravated assault, conspiracy to commit crime

James Luke, Lyons, aggravated assault and battery

Andre Mazion, Valdosta, controlled substance, possession of weapon during certain crimes

Wykebia McKinney, Vidalia, probation violation

Ronald Phillips, Lyons, driving while license suspended/revoked

Joshua Raper, Uvalda, theft by taking

Elijah White, Vidalia, theft by taking

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

11/12-Ray Charles Powell, Jr., Mount Vernon, Following Too Closely, Speeding, Driving w/Suspended License, DUI, Open Container, Possession of Cocaine, Possession of Drug Related Objects, Misdemeanor Probation Violation

11/13-Mayce Fernando Langston, Lyons, Felony Probation Violation

11/13-Glenn Edward Sharpe, Mount Vernon, Felony Probation Violation

11/14-Carla Renea Shepard, Vidalia, Possession of Methamphetamine w/Intent to Distribute, Possession of Controlled Substance, Possession of Drug Related Objects

Mercy Clinic FundraiserNovember 21-- The Mercy Clinic in Lyons held their annual fundraising luncheon Tuesday to raise awareness and funds for the upcoming year. The annual luncheon is the main fundraising event of the year for the Mercy Clinic and is essential to meet their needs to assist people in need in the Toombs County area.

Mercy Clinic Executive Director Carly Benton said, “Today’s luncheon was to invite new friends of the organization to make a financial investment in the Mercy Ministries so that we can continue to help those in need right here in our community and to do so in the name of Jesus. We want to be here not just for the next decade but for many years to come.”

Benton added, “In the last decade the Mercy Clinic provided access to healthcare for more than six thousand eight hundred individuals in our county and surrounding areas. Some of these folks we treated for a few months and some for a few years, but they all were accepted because they were uninsured and low income but because they were all chronically ill. I dream of the day we can say yes to every person that is uninsured and does not have a medical home and can’t afford health insurance.”

The cost to sponsor a patient at the Mercy Clinic is approximately $1,000 per year or $84 per month per patient. The luncheon raised $62,000 in cash and pledges to cover 62 of the 150 patients scheduled for next year.

If you would like to help sponsor a patient for next year at the Mercy Clinic and help them reach their goal, call Carly Benton or Clint Hutcheson at the Mercy Clinic at 912-524-4000.

November 21--  Nineteen rural school districts in Georgia are receiving grants from the Georgia Department of Education to provide more fine arts education for their students.

Districts Awarded Funding

School District



Appling County

Altamaha Elementary School


Baldwin County

Baldwin High School; Oak Hill Middle School


Brooks County

Brooks County Middle School


Brooks County

Delta Innovative School


Colquitt County

Colquitt County High School


Colquitt County

Willie J. Williams Middle School


Cook County

Cook High School


Cook County

Cook Middle School


Echols County

Echols County Elementary School; Echols County Middle School


Fannin County

Blue Ridge Elementary School


Gilmer County

Clear Creek Elementary School


Gilmer County

Clear Creek Middle School


Gilmer County

Mountain View Elementary School


Grady County

Cairo High School


Jefferson County

Jefferson County Middle School


Jenkins County

Jenkins County Elementary School


Laurens County

Southwest Laurens Elementary School


McDuffie County

Thomson-McDuffie Middle School; Thomson High School


Meriwether County

Mountain View Elementary School


Meriwether County

Manchester High School


Pierce County

Pierce County Middle School


Quitman County

Quitman County Elementary School


Quitman County

Quitman County High School


Taylor County

Taylor County Upper Elementary School


Thomas County

Thomas County Middle School


Thomas County

Thomas County Central High School


Washington County

TJ Elder Middle School


IMG 0870We would like to announce the November, Students of the Month for J. D. Dickerson Primary School. Congratulations!

Left to right

Back Row: Anna Brooke Burkett, Quinn Driggers, Arianna Perry, Harper Moore, N'khia Hill,  and Brinson Martin

Middle row: Carter Williamson, Kace Rush, La'Monte Parker, RaeShun Corouthers, and Jeremiah Sock

Front Row: Lawson Chambers, Camden Richardson, Sophia Wilcher, Jack Laubacker and Luke Sasser; Not pictured: Cameron Alamo, Phoenix Coggins, Thomas Alonso, and Silas Whitaker

November 20--  Georgia Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan made a swing through rural Georgia Wednesday including Toombs County.

He said he agrees with concerns expressed by State Senator Jack Hill of Reidsville, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, regarding a slowdown in state revenue collections.

"There's no better expert on the budget than Chairman Jack Hill, a tremendous friend and ally of the Senate and the whole state of Georgia.  I think there's a mixed message going on.  I think corporately there's a global slowdown going on with some of the larger companies.  We're still trying to figure it out.  I think we're in a different economy from what we grew up in.  It's a lot more complicated and a lot more global, but I think the Governor is being responsible looking for opportunities to cut spending across the state's budget to make sure we're ready for any slowdown." the Lieutenant-Governor said, and added, "One, I think it's to make us leaner, and two, to be prepared for a slowdown."

ltgovandstevenLieutenant-Governor Duncan (left, with Vidalia Rotary Club President Steven McComas) spoke to Vidalia Rotarians and later accompanied State Senator Blake Tillery of Vidalia on a Toombs County economic development tour,a visit to Plant Hatch and a trip to Wayne County.

When the state legislature convenes in January, Lieutenant-Governor Duncan says he has two major concerns.

"I'm going to continue to gain ground on healthcare.  I think there's an opportunity to increase price transparency and allow patients to really know what they're paying before they get home from the hospital. Secondly, I want to focus on foster care.  This is a group of folks that my faith calls on to take the best care of them.  We champion being the best state in the country to do business, I want to be the best state to take care of foster kids," he said.

Harry Moses Construction 2Seated - Mr. Carroll Williams, Standing L-R - Elaine Deloach and Deanna GlissonNovember 20--  Southeastern Early College and Career Academy (SECCA) has selected Harry Moses Construction as the November Business Partner of the Month.  Deanna Glisson, a senior at Vidalia High School, has been employed with Harry Moses Construction for two and half years while enrolled in the Work-Based Learning Program.  Deanna has learned valuable work ethics as well as formed long lasting relationships with her mentors, Mrs. Elaine Deloach and Mr. Carroll Williams.  

VOD winnersL-R, First Row - Mikelle Peters-VHS, Third Place VOD, Lily Grace Maybin-RTCA, First Place Patriots Pen, Walker McCord-VHS, First Place VOD. Second row, John Sharpe-Principal VHS, Shirley Curl-President VFW Auxiliary, Bobby George-Teacher VHS.November 20-- Each year the local VFW Auxiliary holds their Voice of Democracy competition where local middle and high school students compete in a patriotic themed audio-essay competition with the chance to win college scholarships. The local winners have the opportunity to move on through district, state, and national competitions with the national winner receiving a $30,000 scholarship.

Shirley Curl, President of the local VFW Auxiliary oversees the competition and this year’s theme was “Why is America Great?” Middle school students compete in a similar competition called Patriots Pen. “All the students did extremely well this year, we are so proud of them,” said Curl.

This year’s winners of the Voice of Democracy are:

First Place - Walker McCord, Vidalia High School

Second Place – Briley Braddy, Vidalia Heritage

Third Place – Mikelle Peters, Vidalia High School

And this year’s Patriots Pen middle school winner is Lily Grace Maybin of Robert Toombs Christian Academy.

November 20-- The Montgomery County Board of Education voted Monday night to place a referendum on the ballot in March to extend its local option sales tax for education (E-SPLOST) an additional five years.

The current E-SPLOST, which expires in another year, will remain at the same rate of 1% for the new five year extension if the voters approve the referendum next year.

Montgomery County School Superintendent Hugh Kight says the E-SPLOST funds are vital for the school system and helps relieve the tax burden on the property owners. “It keeps it lower for our property owners and helps them out. You can use this money to purchase equipment, to purchase a school bus, whatever air conditioning needs and repairs. And I hope our community has the trust in us to know that we are going to spend it wisely,” said Kight.

Approximately $566,000 of existing E-SPLOST funds will be used to build a new track facility for athletics at the school. Kight added, “The track is something we’ve been needing for years now. Our school is paid for in full and our track will be paid for in full. We’re really in good shape financially now and we have one of the best small school athletic complexes around.”

Kight is hoping to have the track completed in February so that it can be used this season. “I’m putting pressure on them to have it by February so that we can use it this track season. That’s our goal. Our kids are excited, we’re excited and I think our community should be excited because it’s going to be a community track also.”

November 19--  The one penny sales tax for transportation which local voters approved a few years back is still paying dividents.

The Tombs County Commission used $1,155,036 of the money to award a contract to East Coast Asphalt for paving on the Lyons-Center Road, the New Normantown Road and  Five Points Road.

wallacethompsonToombs County Sheriff Junior Kight recognized Sergeant Wallace Thompson for 30 years service to the people of Toombs County and the Sheriff's Department and thanked him for his dedication and professionalism.

Also at its November meeting Tuesday night, the Board of Commissioners:

* Agreed to pay Brice Ladson's "MPL Ventures" $85,000 in sales tax revenue to buy five acres of land off Bulldog Road as the future home for occupants of the Ross Bowen Building near the county courthouse.  The building will be torn down to make room for planned construction of a new courthouse.

*Approved $6,550 to Whitaker Laboratories in Savannah for a "GeoTech" study of the new courthouse site to determine soil compaction.

*Allocated more than $38,000 in landfill revenue for repairs of landfill equipment.

*Heard a report from County Manager John Jones that county expenses to date are five percent under budget and revenue is up five percent.

November 19--  The state of Georgia has approved a grant to improve technology in the Montgomery County school system.

School Superintendent Hugh Kight says the $395,509 dollars will put Montgomery County Elementary School on par with the county's middle and high school when it comes to technology.

He says the money will be used for classroom cameras,interactive boards and chrome books plus it will allow export of internet "hot spots" via the Eagle Express classroom bus to rural parts of the county.  It will allow 25 students to do their homework on the bus in parts of the county which don't have internet access.

Montgomery County is one of nine rural systems in the state to receive a grant.  Telfair County schools also got a grant for $524,610.

By State Representative Greg Morris, Vidalia

Governor Kemp/Health Insurance. Gov. Kemp has unveiled his plan for a Medicaid waiver that will replace Obamacare in Georgia with a proposal that would help provide affordable health insurance for working Georgians. He has named it “Georgia Pathways”, a more workable and fair plan than a full-scale Medicaid expansion that would eventually bankrupt our state. Gov. Kemp ‘s plan seeks to help Georgias poorest working citizens, that do not qualify for Medicaid. This is what I like about the plan. To qualify, you must be employed, enrolled in school, or doing specific community service for at least 80 hours a month. Gov. Kemp’s point is to not just throw money at the problem but to encourage and promote full time employment. Which is why the liberals naturally hate the idea.

The plan would have to be approved on the Federal level, and although Gov. Kemp is particularly close to President Trump, approval is not a given. And Obama appointed judges in other states have blocked similar waiver plans with work requirements. The cost is estimated be 36 million for the state and 128 million for the Federal government. Gov. Kemp also has a plan to help Georgians with higher incomes qualify for more affordable insurance that I will detail in a later report.

New Voting Machines. In Six counties voters tried out Georgias new voting machines. With a very few glitches, the machines got positive reviews from election officials and voters alike during the elections earlier this month. The new machines will still allow voter to cast ballots on a large electronic touchscreen , but it will also print the selections on paper to be fed through a scanner to record the vote. That adds a step in voting from what we are used to, but now there is a paper ballot to verify results. The state hopes to have 30,000 machines ready for the March 2020 Presidential primary.

#1 Again. For the 7th year in a row Georgia has been named by Site Selection Magazine as the best state in which to locate a business. Factors again included our efforts to cut burdensome regulations, and gearing our post-secondary education efforts to produce a world-class workforce. 50% of the criteria is based on our favorable tax policy.

November 19--  A Tattnall County High School senior won the Miss Georgia Olive Scholarship Pageant in Vidalia.

Seventeen-year-old Emma Waters wins the $500 scholarship from the pageant which promotes self-esteem, self-confidence, self-awareness and the importance of education to today's young woman.

missoliveFront Row (left to right) Little Miss – Chloe Morris, Tiny Miss –  SiAnna Moore and  Petite Miss – Jordie Grace Kight

Back Row (left to right) Teen Miss – Valorie Whitman, Miss Georgia Olive – Emma Waters and  Junior Miss – Kaytlyn Crabbs

November 19--  Four teenagers who snatched a rifle from a teen at a Vidalia convenience store are under arrest.

Vidalia Police Chief Brian Scott says the quartet took the AR-15 from a 17-year-old Lyons boy early Sunday morning in the parking lot of the Circe K at 905 East First Street in Vidalia.

The four fled the scene and were later apprehended by Lyons Police who assisted Vidalia police in the search of a residence in Lyons where the stolen weapon was recovered.

Charged with robbery are 19-year-old Brandon Green and his accomplices Tekeila Baker and Tyquan Toby, both 18, and 19-year-old Ronaldo Maldonado, all of Lyons.

November 19--  Two men are in custody and a third is being sought in connection with a Vidalia shooting.

Vidalia Police Chief Brian Scott reports 20-year-old Tykeavius Walker and 24-year-old Dominique Henderson, both of Vidalia, are charged with the November 9th shooting which hit two vehicles and injured four people on Wiggins Street. 

Walker was arrested during a traffic stop of North Main Street Tuesday, November 12 and Henderson was picked up by U.S. Marshals at his place of employment Friday, November 15.  They are charged with four counts of aggravated assault, two counts of aggravated battery and one count of cruelty to children.

bookingatkinsA third man, 29-year-old Denarius Atkins, also of Vidalia, is also wanted in connection with the shooting and remains at large.

The shooting seriously injured a ten-year-old girl and wounded her mother, 34-year-old Rosanna Simpson of Vidalia, 43-year-old Creg Page and 45-year-old Terrence White, both of Soperton.

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Atkins is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 912-386-4480.


A negative revenue collection month in October of -1.6% has forced state leaders to begin study of a number of revenue issues as Year to Date figures point to alarming totals for the first 4 months of the Fiscal Year.


Individual Income Tax Revenues are flat for October coming in at 0.1% increase. Inside those numbers, Withholding Payments declined by -$52.6 million, while Individual Income payments were up $51.7 million. Refunds were up $17 million. Corporate Income Taxes were up $11.3 million for October.


Net Sales Taxes were a negative -0.4% for October for the first time in memory as Sales taxes have been relatively strong over the past two years. Title Ad Valorem Taxes were down some minus $19.1 million for the month. Tobacco and Alcoholic Beverages were both positive, at increases of 2.8% and 21.7%


Motor Fuel Taxes/Fees, Impact Fees and Hotel/Motel Fees were up slightly, $413,000 or 0.2%.


After 4 months, fully one third of the budget year, the state has dropped alarmingly below budget spending levels. No longer just flat for the year, total revenues now lag 2018 revenues for the first 4 months by $11.1 million. This means when you apply the FY 2020 budget increase, that spending has now exceeded what the state has collected by some $233 million. Each month that goes by accumulates another $50 million or so in spending above last year.


The top category of state revenues, Individual Income Taxes, is now negative for the first 4 months, -0/3%.   This category normally accounts for about half of state revenue.

Corporate Income Taxes are positive YTD, at 4.2%.

The Sales Taxes category has been a relatively stable area of growth for the state the last couple of years. But this fiscal year, Net Sales Taxes have grown an anemic 1.0% YTD.

Title Ad Valorem Taxes are negative some -$35.5 million YTD and Tobacco Taxes are negative -4.3% while Alcoholic Beverages category is positive at 5.4%.


For the first time, I believe, since the fuel tax was updated under HB 170, we have a period of time where Motor Fuel Taxes/Fees are slightly negative, -$1.5 million or -0.2 % for the first 4 months of the Fiscal Year.


No one seems to have the answer as to why state revenues are not even growing a little bit over the first one third of the fiscal year. While it is true the State Income Tax Rate was cut this past January to 5.75%, it is not clear that we have the full effect of that cut on revenues so far this year. Even so, that cut would not explain the Net Sales Tax collections dragging along at 1% growth where normal has been 3-5% over the past two years.

And none of this explains why the Fuel Tax/fees category should be negative for the year so far. Nothing in the economy that we can put our collective fingers on points to a smoking gun that would unequivocally explain this turn in revenues.

The economy is the state continues to hum along and all of the signs of the problems of the world economy have yet to find their way into our calculations, but yet our revenues tell us something is clearly not well with the state economy.


These July-October revenue growth numbers point to the dilemma in Georgia as we struggle to figure out why we are not growing as the state has in the past and why Georgia continues to trial other Southeastern States.


23.3% Growth July- October


8.2% Growth July- October


7.7% Growth July- October


7.6% Growth July- October

South Carolina

6.2% Growth July- October


4.9% Growth July- October


4.8% Growth July- October


4.8% Growth July- September


4.1% Growth July- October


3.4% Growth July- October


-0.1% Growth July- October

West Virginia

-1.7% Growth July- October

image1November 15-- The Toombs County Board of Education honored the school system's teachers of the year at its November meeting.

The system "Teacher of the Year" is Toombs County High School teacher Megan Morris,"I'm really honored because the competition was really tough because we have a lot of really great teachers, and I feel really blessed to have been chosen. I actually graduated from Toombs County High School and this is the only school I've ever taught at. I'm a life-long Bulldog and I'm really proud of our school and everything we've done together."

Toombs County Teachers of the Year were announced at Thursday's Board of Education meeting and are (L-R) Michelle Padgett, Toombs Central Elementary; Lisa  Bishop, Lyons Primary; Teacher of the Year Megan Morris; Lindsey Harris, Lyons Upper Elementary and Hunter Adams, Toombs County Middle School.

New Security Cameras

The school board approved the expenditure of $350,000 for new security cameras at Toombs County's schools.

Nathan Miller, the school system's Technology Director, said  "We're in the process of installing a new video security system. This is a project that's been about two years in the making. We've had a lot of issues with the security system at the high school and especially at the primary school. We've been looking for a solution and waiting for the funding to become available, and we're finally at a point where the two have come together at the same time. Ideally, we'd like to begin the installation over the Thanksgiving break."

November 15-- It was another successful United Way Campaign this year in Toombs, Montgomery and Wheeler counties.

UNITEDWAY19United Way Executive Director Patricia Dixon says the goal was exceeded by more than $35,000, "This year so far we've raised over $585,000, which is really a big number for a community our size. We're real excited because we've got 22 agencies that are depending on our funding and our community has once again stepped up to the plate and we hit a home run. I thank everyone in our community that has done their part to make it happen."

For more than 20 years, Patricia Dixon has been leading the effort to help community service agencies in the three-county area, "I've been the director for 21 years, and the Lord has truly blessed me. I tell people all the time that if you sat in my office and see and hear what I hear, and how the United Way of Toombs, Montgomery and Wheeler counties changes lives, you would never think of the United Way the same. People come here when they are hopeless, but they find hope through our agencies."

For years, Vidalia Communications Corporation has played an active role in supporting the United Way Campaign and this year the United Way recognized retiring General Manager Zack Fowler for support, "We just wanted to recognize Zack for what he has done for our United Way. One of the main things he started was asking our agencies to do public service announcements so people could know what our agencies are doing and just educate our community, and that is so important."

November 14--  One of the two men arrested in the shooting death of a Toombs County man will spend at least the next 30 years in prison.

bryantpleaTwenty-four-year old Hollis Bryant of Toombs County pleaded guilty to felony murder in the death of 26-year-old Brandon Colson of Lyons and was sentenced to life with a chance for parole by Superior Court Judge Bobby Reeves.

Colson had been reporting missing October 4th. His body was found weeks later in a makeshift grave in a wooded area near Bryant's residence at 148 Ponderosa Road. A GBI agent said Bryant and his accomplice, 19-year-old Israel Williams, burned the body and buried it after the shooting.

According to Agent Craig Pittman, Colson had borrowed money from Williams to rent an U-Haul and to get his lights turned on  and the two claim efforts to collect the debt led to the shooting.

District Attorney Hayward Altman said, "It was about money, about money owed and money taken, basically it's greed that happens in these kind of cases," and the DA said authorities aren't sure who did the actual shooting, "According to the testimony of the agent, we don't know exactly which one pulled the trigger."

Regardless of who pulled the trigger, Williams is also being charged with felony murder, "He's been indicted and if he doesn't plead guilty or take other avenues, he'll go to trial," Altman said.

Colson's mother and brother made statements before Judge Reeves passed sentence.  His mother, Beverly Powell, said she hopes her son's killers "find God" and that she is praying for their families.

The District Attorney consulted with the family before recommending life with parole for Bryant,"I explained to them to celebrate their son's life and to let us deal with that hour or two hours of that life and let them celebrate the joys and memories of their son.  It takes a while for family members to get to that point n time, but I always tell people, forgiveness is for the people doing the forgiving.  The defendants in this case may never accept their forgiveness, but it allows them to move on."

November 13--  Vidalia Police Chief Brian Scott reports the following arrests.

McLeod, Octavia Nicole- B/F- 31 YOA- 611 Largo Dr, Vidalia, GA- Warrant Served (Probation)

Walker, Laquintez Sadayvion- B/M- 20 YOA- 604 NE Main St, Vidalia, GA- Criminal Trespass

Powell, Jason Jacob-WM-20 YOA-200 Reedy Creek Circle- Lyons, GA-Loitering-Prowling/ Possession of Marijuana less than 1 0z.

Bellamy, Damion Lashawn-B/M 22 YOA- 700 BAY St. Vidalia, GA-Battery (Cruelty to Children)

Branch, Archie- W/M-55 YOA- 715 E Oxley Blvd.- Vidalia, GA-Driving While Intoxicated/ Improper Lane Change

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Heather Brooker, Lyons, disorderly conduct

Wilson Lee Price, Lyons, possession of marijuana, speeding, driving without license on person

Marcelino Martinez, Lyons, driving unlicensed, tail and tag lights

Alexander Mainer, Vidalia, DUI, speeding

Gary Miller, Lyons, possession of marijuana, obstruction

Koneechee Hudson, Vidalia, driving while license suspended/revoked, child restraint violation, giving false info to officer

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Tiffany Warren, Lyons, driving while license suspended/revoked

Franklin Watson, Hazlehurst, terroristic threats

Terrance Adams, Lyons, simple battery

Robert Carver, Uvalda, probation violation

Louis Estrada, Vidalia, criminal trespass

Joshua Jacobs, Valdosta, probation violation

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

11/04-Tyrone Allen, Jr., Mount Vernon, Telfair County Warrant Served

11/08-Ti’Ara Lenada Williams, Swainsboro, Possession of Controlled Substance (x2), Failure to Dim Headlights, Window Tint Violation

11/08-Tyler Royshawn Roundtree, Vidalia, Possession of Controlled Substance (x2)

11/08-Quashaun Chillious, Mount Vernon, Possession of Controlled Substance (x2), Misdemeanor Obstruction of Officer, Giving False Name/Information

11/08-Michael Chase Coleman, Mount Vernon, Affray

11/08-Dawson Everett Hale, Mount Vernon, Affray

11/08-Levi Joshua Griggs, Fort Valley, Misdemeanor Obstruction of Officer

11/09-Chance Phillip Butler, Vidalia, DUI, Seatbelt Violation, Failure to Maintain Lane

November 13--  Members of the Toombs County Commission attended the November meeting of the Vidalia City Council to thank two retiring members of the council for their service and cooperation during their time on the council.

Commission Chairman David Sikes said, "We as a Commission and county officials wanted to come here tonight and publicly thank Lisa and Kailey for your service in our county and our great city of Vidalia.  We're very thankful for the jobs you have done and are honored and humbled to be a part of serving with you."

lisaalford4th Ward Councilwoman Lisa Chesser is completing her third term of office and is thanked by Commissioner Alfred Cason.

wendellkaileyCity At-Large Councilwoman Kailey Dees is thanked by Commissioner Wendell Dixon.

In other actions at its meeting, the council:

*Heard praise from Ebony Simpson of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs for being selected for renewal as one of the state's "Plan First" communities making it eligible for increased grant amounts the next three years.

*Accepted donation of a small parcel of land and two outbuildings next to the Darby Gym from the Vidalia school board.

*Approved $40,047 to buy Jaws of Life and other emergency equipment for the fire department.

* Okayed $27,835 to make field repairs at the Ezra Taylor Road and Ed Smith Recreation Complexes.

* Was informed that sales tax collections are up significantly over last year.

November 13--  Governing authorities in Toombs County have agreed on how they will share the cost of building a new county courthouse and expand the county jail in Lyons.

Initial cost estimates for the project are in the $34 million range with a bond issue to repay the debt over a 20 to 25 year period, according to Toombs County Manager John Jones.

Authorities plan to use Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) revenue to finance the annual estimated debt service costs of $1.6 million.

According to an annual payment plan worked out between elected officials in Toombs County, Vidalia, Lyons and Santa Claus, Toombs County would pay 59.31% ($949,000), Vidalia 28.13% ($450,000), Lyons 11.56% ($185,000) and Santa Claus 1% ($16,000).

Voters will vote on extending the SPLOST for another six years next March.


November 13--  A man indicted on 18 counts regarding sex with children under the age of ten will be in prison the rest of his life.

johnjoeybrannonAccording to Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight, 45-year-old Joey John Brannon of 118 James Johnson Road in Lyons was sentenced by Toombs County Superior Court Judge Kathy Palmer to four life sentences plus an additional 280 years in prison.

Brannon pleaded guilty to aggravated sodomy, aggravated child molestation, aggravated sexual battery and sexual exploitation of a child. 

According to the indictment, Brannon used minors, including a two-year-old boy, to create digital videos of various sex acts.

tcbookinglynnAlso arrested in the case, but yet to be indicted, was Brannon's live-in girlfriend, April Dawn Lynn, who is charged with aggravated child molestation.  She's in the Toombs County Detention Center pending an $80,000 bond.

According to officials, Brannon and Lynn lived with another couple and molested at least one of their sons.

November 12--  Area veterans were honored Monday at the annual Veterans' Day banquet hosted by the Downtown Vidalia Association.


Youngsters from the Cornerstone Children's Center got the ceremony off to a rousing start with their rendition of "Yankee Doodle Dandy!"

fredThe keynote speaker, former Navy SEAL Fred Godbee of Vidalia, saluted veterans for their service and noted the sacrifices being made today by members of  the United States armed forces, "It's massive  I don't think people understand how increased the divorce rate is, the suicide rate among veteran populations and how many walking wounded have come back.  You've got spouses who are having to step up and deal with a lot of problems."

For those reasons, Godbee would like to see less emphasis on "nation-building," which he says is something for which  the U.S. military is not well suited.

"I think most politicians up in Washington put themselves and their campaigns before their constituents.  They don't think about the impact it's having on people.  We've proven as a country that we're pretty horrible at building nations.  One thing we're great at though, we can punish you, but I'm not sure we're great at all in building nations, so let's let somebody else do that," Godbee said.

Because of the impact the Navy had on him, Godbee would like to see more young people join one of the military services, "I would encourage everybody who's coming out of high school to consider military service.  My son's doing it now and my other two may.  It was the best time of my life, I loved it.  You learn service, you learn excellence, you're serving your country and others and there's a history and comradeship behind it that you can't understand until you get out there and do it," he said.

post97Veterans from American Legion Post 97 presented the service flags of the Marines, Coast Guard, Air Force, Army and Navy.

semperfiSemper Fi!

November 12--  The Vidalia Police Department is searching for this man in connection with a weekend shooting which injured four people including a ten-year-old girl.


November 12-- The Vidalia School Board named its Teachers and Employees of the Year at its November board meeting.

VBOETeachers(L-R) Vidalia High School Teacher of the Year Candace Chomkis, J.R. Trippe Employee of the Year Joe Hall, J.R. Trippe Middle School Teacher of the Year Portia Anderson, Sally D. Meadows Elementary School Employee of the Year Jennifer Cardinal, Sally D. Meadows Elementary School Teacher of the Year Ashley Driggers, J. D. Dickerson Primary School Employee of the Year Ashley Crump, J.D. Dickerson Primary School Teacher of the Year Sonja Hamilton.

(Back Row, L-R) Vidalia High School Principal John Sharpe, J.R. Trippe Principal Sandy Reid, Sally D. Meadows Principal Scott Stephens, J.D. Dickerson Principal Brenda McLain.

IMG 5687 1Nov 12--J.D. Dickerson Primary would like to congratulate its Teacher and Employee of the year; Mrs. Sonja Hamilton and Mrs. Ashley Crump. Mrs. Hamilton has taught for a total of 23 years with 21 of those years in special education and 2 of those years in Pre-K. She has been an asset to the profession and to our school, system, and community.

Mrs. Ashley Crump has been employed with the Vidalia-City Schools System for 10 years as the bookkeeper of J.D. Dickerson Primary School. She has done so with great enthusiasm and excellent job performance proficiency. She too has been an asset to our school, system, and community.

We are thankful to have both of these hard-working women on our team here at Dickerson. Congratulations again from all of the staff, students, and administrators of J.D. Dickerson Primary School.

November 11--  The little girl who was wounded in a Saturday night shooting in Vidalia is reported in stable condition at a Savannah hospital.

The ten-year-old was one of four people wounded when their vehicles were fired upon in a shooting on Wiggins Street. Police are looking for three black males they want to question in connection with the shooting.

One of the shooting victims, 34-year-old Rosanna Simpson of Vidalia, is the same woman who was injured in February in a shooting at the Huddle House in Vidalia which resulted in the death of 28-year-old Roderick Harvey, Jr. of Alamo.

Twenty-five-year old Zeary Davis of Toombs County was indicted for the murder of Harvey and for the aggravated battery of Simpson.

He remains in jail pending trial.

November 11--  A Lyons man drowned Saturday afternoon in a Toombs County pond.

According to Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight, 58-year-old Archie Eugene Foster was driving a side-by-side off-road vehicle in an area off of Keene Road in Lyons when it ran into a private pond.

He was trapped under the vehicle in the pond before being freed by Toombs County First Responders.

Toombs County EMA Director Lynn Moore said Toombs County EMS personnel restored Foster's pulse before he was transported to Memorial Hospital in Savannah where he later died.

The Sheriff said a passenger on the vehicle identified as Tami Lurie of Johnsons Corner  was uninjured.

November 11--  On Sunday, November 10, 2019, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation was requested by the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office to investigate an officer involved shooting and homicide investigation.

Preliminary information indicates that on November 10, 2019, at approximately 1:30 p.m., Montgomery County Deputies were dispatched to 1316 Joe Hilton Road in Vidalia, Montgomery County, Georgia to a report of someone possibly being shot. Once the deputies arrived they made contact with John Fountain on the exterior of the residence. Fountain ignored the deputies’ commands to step away from multiple firearms he was standing near. While talking with Fountain, a deputy observed the body of a female on the ground behind a table near Fountain. Fountain picked up one of the firearms and ignored deputies’ commands to put it down. As a result, a deputy opened fire on Fountain. Fountain was airlifted for medical treatment.

After securing the scene, deputies discovered the remains of Alice Faye Humphrey. Humphrey lived at this location with Fountain. An autopsy will be conducted on Humphrey to determine her exact cause and manner of death.

The homicide investigation of Humphrey is ongoing. The GBI will continue its independent investigation regarding the use of force incident involving Fountain. Once complete, both investigations will be turned over to the Oconee Judicial Circuit District Attorney for review. 

Anyone with information regarding these investigations is asked to contact the GBI Eastman office at 478-374-6988.

November 11-- Amanda Montford, a Registered Nurse at Meadows Regional Medical Center Labor, received the October DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses.

“I am so proud of Amanda, “said Vice President of Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer Jeffrey Harden. “Her keen assessment skills likely saved the life of a newborn infant. Because of her, that family gets to celebrate the first birthday and hopefully, many more to follow. She is an asset to the organization and community.”

Montford has been employed with Meadows Regional Medical Center for six years and currently resides in Vidalia.

The Daisy Award was established in memory of J. Patrick Barnes, who died at 33 of complications of Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP), a little known but not uncommon auto-immune disease. The family noticed that during the course of Patrick’s illness the extraordinary care he received from nurses made a difference not only in his health but his personal well-being. The family wanted to recognize the extraordinary work nurses do daily while performing other duties involved in caring for their patients. The Daisy Award for Extraordinary Nurses is a nationally recognized award that is celebrated across the country. Recipients from Meadows become part of an elite group of professionals across the nation.

daisynov19(L-R)  Vice President of Physician Enterprise Mid McCain; Assistant Vice President of Quality and Process Improvement Robert Lummus; Assistant Vice President of Post-Acute Care Johnny Carroll; Vice President of Revenue Cycle Operations/Information Services Mike Hagan; Chief Operating Officer James Nixon; Vice President of Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer Jeffrey Harden; Labor and Delivery RN Amanda Montford; CMO/Vice President of Medical Affairs Dr. Karen McColl; Chief Financial Officer Tony O’Steen; President & CEO Alan Kent; Director of Women’s Services Heather Hooks.

By State Senator Jack Hill, Reidsville

Return of Georgia Guard Units from Afghanistan reminds us of the vital role the Guard plays in the military reach of the United States. The Springfield unit and the Glennville units, as part of the 48th Brigade recently returned from a second deployment to a Middle East area where the United States is actively involved in fighting ISIS and terrorism.

These citizen soldiers gave up as much as 13 months of their lives to deploy to a dangerous part of the world and fill a vital role in the war on terrorism. Georgia's National Guard sent 2100 troops in this latest conflict.

There are approximately 14,000 Army and Air Guardsmen and women serving in uniform in Georgia today. Since 9/11, some 21,000 Georgia Army and Air Guardsmen have deployed to the Mideast.   Most (11,000) of these Guardsmen are "traditional" or part-time military men and women and hold civilian jobs or are students. Today, there are still 500 Guardsmen deployed around the world in Kosovo, Europe, the Pacific and the southwest border.


The missions of the Army and Air National Guard extend across Georgia and Guardsmen are called to state active duty whenever hurricanes or state emergencies call for their assistance in personnel and equipment. The Air National Guard even flew disaster relief supplies to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

The Army and Air Federal missions can extend around the world with Army Guard units called to active duty in a number of contingencies over the past 3 decades and the Air Guard's missions routinely extending to the four corners of the globe.  


My years in the Guard left me with several positive impressions of Guardsmen who quietly go about serving in both state and federal capacities and at the same time maintaining a citizen occupation. I would submit that these very special individuals succeed in both worlds.

There was a time when the National Guard played a very minimal role in national defense. They were poorly equipped, but that has changed over the years and today, the National Guard is not only better equipped, but plays a key role in supplementing the active force in military commitments around the world.


My years in the Guard showed me several qualities that Guardsmen seemed to share. These are:

- Leadership

- Maturity

- Ingenuity

- Experience

- Perseverance or stick-to-it-ness

This resourcefulness has been greatly used in deployments to the Middle East and in the interactions with local indigenous communities, The "real world" experience of Guardsmen pays huge dividends in meeting these missions.

I found virtually every Guardsman to be uniquely special. The qualities we see in Guardsmen are also seen and valued by employers and that is why you see these individuals succeeding in both arenas.

Why do Guardsmen seem to have these attributes? Well, when you look at the Core Values of the Army and the Air Force, you can grasp a little of why those qualities exist and are so valued in the business and professional environment.




Integrity first


Service before self


Excellence in all we do

Selfless service



Personal courage


A Guardsman gives up a lot to serve. There are weekends and training segments that often exceed two weeks yearly. More and more deployments extend for one year and more. The men and women of the Guard miss many special days, family events and business and job opportunities. (Most employers value Guardsmen as leaders in their businesses and support the Guard's mission.)

That is getting harder to do given the extended deployments that have evolved as a mission of the Guard. Its active role in National Defense means deployments now often extend over holidays. Serving in today's National Guard is a real life, real time experience where Guardsmen are held to the same standards as active duty personnel and they excel at their duties. Today, the Guard is a full partner with the active force and the pressure on Guardsmen has never been more intense.

We owe a great debt to Guardsmen who are balancing military duties with job and personal responsibilities. It takes an unusual person, truly unique, to succeed at all of these assignments. But as said earlier, "all Guardsmen are special."

November 10--  Vidalia police are looking for three black men they believe were involved in a Saturday night shooting which seriously injured a ten-year-old child and wounded three adults.

According to Vidalia Police Chief Brian Scott, three people were shot in one vehicle and a fourth was shot in a second vehicle in a shooting on Wiggins Street about 8:45 p.m. Saturday.

Police say one vehicle was occupied by 43-year-old Creg Page of Soperton, 34-year-old Rosanna Simpson of Vidalia and two children, ages ten and two. The older child was hit once and airlifted to Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah in serious condition.  The woman was hit by several gunshots, Page had a single gunshot wound, and a man in a second vehicle, identified as 45-year-old Terrence White of Soperton, was also hit once.  All three were treated and released from Meadows Regional Medical Center in Vidalia.

Chief Scott said, "It was a very tragic event to have four people shot like this, especially since there's a ten-year-old involved.  We're working diligently to try to get this solved."

The GBI and Lyons Police are assisting with the investigation and Chief Scott doesn't believe it was a random act, "I can't go into a lot of details, but I don't believe this was folks just out randomly shooting citizens.  I think this was a targeted event."

Police are searching for three black men who they believe were in a dark-colored SUV, possibly a Chevy Tahoe, with damage to the passenger side front fender area, scratches on the side and with after-market custom rims, one of which is different from the other three.  It also has tinted rear windows.

Police worked throughout the night Saturday and all day Sunday, according to Chief Scott, "Yes, we do have some leads we're following up on."

Anyone with information is asked to call Vidalia Police, 537-4123, the GBI at 478-374-6988 or CrimeStoppers, 912-386-4480.

November 9-- The Toombs-Montgomery Chamber of Commerce partnered with Toombs County Schools to offer a coffee bar at the chamber office this past Thursday.

Students served as "baristas" and served coffee to members of the community.  The students, who are enrolled in Camp Bullpup and Bulldog at Toombs County Middle School and Toombs County High School, learned valuable job and life skills.

chamberkidsFront Row, L-R:  Toombs County Students Lucy Badie, Ben Rewis, Keegan Pittman and Angel DeLeon.

Back Row, L-R:  Chamber of Commerce staff members Michele Johnson, Dana Brown, Ann Owens and Debbie Evans.

White House Visitor Logs Detail Meetings of the CIA’s Eric Ciaramella

We have conducted an in-depth analysis of Obama-era White House visitor logs, and we have learned a good deal about the people who controversial CIA employee Eric Ciaramella met with while assigned to the White House.

Ciaramella reportedly was detailed to the Obama White House in 2015 and returned to the CIA during the Trump administration in 2017.

Real Clear Investigations named Ciaramella as possibly being the whistleblower whose complaint sparked impeachment proceedings against President Trump. As reported by the Examiner, Fox News’ legal analyst Gregg Jarrett indicated that a key takeaway was the “reported direct relationship” Ciaramella had with former President Barack Obama's CIA Director John Brennan and national security adviser Susan Rice, as well as the “Democratic National Committee operative who dug up dirt on the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.”

The visitor logs also reveal Alexandra Chalupa, a contractor hired by the DNC during the 2016 election, who coordinated with Ukrainians to investigate President Trump and his former campaign manager Paul Manafort, visited the White House 27 times.

The White House visitor logs revealed the following individuals met with Eric Ciaramella while he was detailed to the Obama White House:

  • Daria Kaleniuk: Co-founder and executive director of the Soros-funded Anticorruption Action Center (AntAC) in Ukraine. She visited on December 9, 2015

The Hill reported that in April 2016, during the U.S. presidential race, the U.S. Embassy under Obama in Kiev, “took the rare step of trying to press the Ukrainian government to back off its investigation of both the U.S. aid and (AntAC).”

  • Gina Lentine: Now a senior program officer at Freedom House, she was formerly the Eurasia program coordinator at Soros funded Open Society Foundations. She visited on March 16, 2016.
  • Rachel Goldbrenner: Now an NYU law professor, she was at that time an advisor to then-Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power. She visited on both January 15, 2016 and August 8, 2016.
  • Orly Keiner: A foreign affairs officer at the State Department who is a Russia specialist. She is also the wife of State Department Legal Advisor James P. Bair. She visited on both March 4, 2016 and June 20, 2015.
  • Nazar Kholodnitzky: The lead anti-corruption prosecutor in Ukraine. He visited on January 19, 2016.

On March 7, 2019, The Associated Press reported that the then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch called for him to be fired.

  • Michael Kimmage: Professor of History at Catholic University of America, at the time was with the State Department’s policy planning staff where he specialized in Russia and Ukraine issues. He is a fellow at the German Marshall Fund. He was also one of the signatories to the Transatlantic Democracy Working Group Statement of Principles. He visited on October 26, 2015.
  • James Melville: Then-recently confirmed as Obama’s Ambassador to Estonia, visited on September 9, 2015.

On June 29, 2018, Foreign Policy reported that Melville resigned in protest of Trump.

  • Victoria Nuland: who at the time was assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs met with Ciaramella on June 17, 2016.

(Judicial Watch has previously uncovered documents revealing Nuland had an extensive involvement with the Clinton-funded dossier. Judicial Watch also released documents revealing that Nuland was involved in the Obama State Department’s “urgent” gathering of classified Russia investigation information and disseminating it to members of Congress within hours of Trump taking office.)

  • Artem Sytnyk: the Ukrainian Anti-Corruption Bureau director visited on January 19, 2016.

On October 7, 2019, the Daily Wire reported leaked tapes show Sytnyk confirming that the Ukrainians helped the Clinton campaign.

The White House visitor logs revealed the following individuals met with Alexandra Chalupa, then a DNC contractor:

  • Charles Kupchan: From 2014 to 2017, Kupchan served as special assistant to the president and senior director for European affairs on the staff of the National Security Council (NSC) in the Barack Obama administration. That meeting was on November 9, 2015.
  • Alexandra Sopko: who at the time was a special assistant and policy advisor to the director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, which was run by Valerie Jarrett. Also listed for that meeting is Alexa Kissinger, a special assistant to Jarrett. That meeting was on June 2, 2015.
  • Asher Mayerson: who at the time was a policy advisor to the Office of Public Engagement under Jarrett had five visits with Chalupa including December 18, 2015, January 11, 2016, February 22, 2016, May 13, 2016, and June 14, 2016. Mayerson was previously an intern at the Center for American Progress. After leaving the Obama administration, he went to work for the City of Chicago Treasurer’s office.

Mayerson met with Chalupa and Amanda Stone, who was the White House deputy director of technology, on January 11, 2016.

On May 4, 2016, Chalupa emailed DNC official Luis Miranda to inform him that she had spoken to investigative journalists about Paul Manafort in Ukraine.

Spreadsheets of visitor records are grouped alphabetically by last name and available below:
A – Coi
Coig – Gra
Graz – Lau
Laug – Pad
Padd – Sor
Sorr – Zyz

Our analysis of these Obama White House visitor logs raises obvious additional questions about the Obama administration, Ukraine and the related impeachment scheme targeting President Trump. Both Mr. Ciaramella and Ms. Chalupa should be questioned about the meetings documented in these visitor logs.

It’s Time to Designate Mexican Cartels as Foreign Terrorist Organizations

The Mexican cartels operate largely at will in the United States. Last year the Drug Enforcement Agency declared: “Mexican transnational criminal organizations, including the Sinaloa Cartel … remain the greatest criminal drug threat in the United States.”

Note the reference to the Sinoloa Cartel. The horrendous massacre of nine Americans this week, as detailed in our Corruption Chronicles blog below, occurred in Sonora state in northern Mexico, which reportedly “is being fought over by two rival gangs, … [including] ‘Los Chapos,’ which is part of the Sinaloa cartel.” [Emphasis added]

We can give our law enforcement officials additional weapons to fight these organizations if we designate them as “Foreign Terrorist Organizations.” We produced a white paper back in March explaining the rationale for this designation.

Here is our reporting on this latest carnage.

The massacre of nine Americans by a Mexican drug cartel this week creates yet another excellent opportunity for the U.S. government to finally designate the sophisticated criminal operations as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO). Judicial Watch has long advocated for this and earlier this year published a White Paper providing comprehensive documentation that Mexican drug cartels undoubtedly meet the U.S. government’s requirements to be designated as FTOs.

To meet the criteria for FTO designation requires that organizations be foreign, engage in terrorism or terrorist activity or possess the capability and intent to do so and pose a threat to U.S. nationals or U.S. national security. Mexican drug cartels are inherently foreign, routinely commit criminal acts within the statutory definition of terrorism and arguably represent a more immediate and ongoing threat to U.S. national security than any of the currently-designated FTOs on the State Department list. On Monday one of the illicit Mexican enterprises ambushed and murdered six children—including 8-month-old twins—and three women on a highway in the Mexican border state of Sonora. Other children, including an infant and toddler, survived with some seriously wounded.

Mexico has not identified the cartel responsible for the horrific attack, but reports indicate it was a calculated and well-planned operation typical of an organized criminal enterprise. The victims received no help from Mexican authorities, according to one of the family members quoted in the country’s largest newspaper. Julian LeBaron said that fellow family members responded to the crime scene because officials in Chihuahua and Sonora refused to help. He said he wasn’t sure if it was out of fear, or because they were cowards or in cahoots with the delinquents. In a smaller, Sonoran newspaper article, LeBaron revealed that a young girl, a cousin of his, who survived the ambush walked 14 kilometers with a gunshot wound. The outrageous anecdotes indicate Mexico can’t be relied upon to combat the cartels and the U.S. must act.

Properly designating the major Mexican Transitional Criminal Organizations (TCOs)—including Los Zetas, Juárez and Sinaloa cartels—as FTOs would enhance the federal government’s ability to combat them. An official FTO designation would enable the prosecution of those who provide material support to them, facilitate the denial of entry and deportation of TCO members and affiliates and eliminate the organizations’ access to the U.S. financial system. “FTO designations play a critical role in our fight against terrorism and are an effective means of curtailing support for terrorist activities and pressuring groups to get out of the terrorism business,” according to the State Department. For years Mexican cartels have hijacked and sabotaged buses, commercial trucks and trains, which constitute terrorist activity under U.S. law. Judicial Watch’s White Paper lists specific cases, including gasoline tankers and more than a dozen robberies daily of Ferromex trains, one of the three largest rail transport operators in the country.

Mexican TCOs have also committed hundreds of political assassinations in recent years and members of Los Zetas launched a grenade and shot small arms fire at the U.S. Consulate in Monterrey. Los Zetas members also murdered Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Special Agent Jaime Zapata a few years ago. Judicial Watch’s White Paper also documents Mexican cartels’ use of explosive devices and high-caliber firearms, including rocket-propelled grenades and other military weapons. In 2018 Mexican officials seized nearly 2,000 high-caliber weapons from suspected cartel associates in Mexico City and there have been approximately 150,000 organized-crime related murders in Mexico since 2006. Last year alone, there were nearly 1,200 kidnappings in Mexico, according to official figures provided in the White Paper.

Most of the crimes are financially motivated, but a significant number are executed to intimidate political, judicial, military and law enforcement officials from going after cartel members. Examples include two Mexican federal agents kidnapped and murdered by the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generación, the kidnapping of Veracruz congresswoman-elect Norma Rodriguez and the kidnapping of Hidalgo Mayor Genero Urbano. Under U.S. law the seizing or detaining and threatening to kill, injure, or continue to detain, another individual in order to compel a third person (including a governmental organization) to do or abstain from doing any act as an explicit or implicit condition for the release of the seized individual constitutes terrorist activity. The danger created by these criminal organizations is nothing new. Years ago the DEA determined that Mexican TCOs are the greatest criminal threat to the United States. After this week’s massacre President Donald Trump said the U.S. is willing to help Mexico “wage war on the drug cartels.” His administration can start by officially designating them as Foreign Terrorist Organizations

Sheriff Frees Illegal After Child Sex Crimes, Says Immigration Not His Duty

Sanctuary policies are illegal and dangerous. Rather than follow the law, state and local politicians knowingly place you, your family, and the families of every American (and alien) at risk by releasing criminal illegal aliens onto the streets rather than into the custody of federal authorities. Here is the latest outrage from our Corruption Chronicles blog.

In what appears to be a growing national trend, another elected law enforcement official released an illegal immigrant with a serious criminal conviction—in this case child sex offenses—rather than turn him over to federal authorities for removal. Sanctuary policies ban local law enforcement from honoring Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers placed on illegal aliens who have been arrested on local criminal charges. If the detainer is honored ICE takes custody and deports the criminal rather than release him or her back into the community. When law enforcement agencies fail to honor immigration detainers and free serious criminal offenders, it undermines the federal government’s duty to protect public safety.

This latest case comes out of Buncombe County, North Carolina where the recently elected sheriff, a Democrat, issued a policy earlier this year refusing to cooperate with ICE when it comes to inmates at his 608-bed jail who are in the country illegally. At the time the sheriff, Quentin Miller, proclaimed that enforcing immigration laws is not part of his agency’s duties. Miller also said that “it is vital that members of our immigrant community can call the sheriff’s office without fear when they are in need of assistance from law enforcement.”

Hiding behind that popular open borders rhetoric, the sheriff recently discharged a child sex offender to keep with his county’s sanctuary policy of protecting illegal aliens, even those with atrocious criminal records. The illegal immigrant from El Salvador, Marvin Ramirez Torres, has been on ICE’s radar since 2017 when he got arrested and charged with four felony counts of statutory sex offense with a child. At the time Torres was 23 and his victim was an 11-year-old girl, according to a local newspaper report that also states Torres must register a sex offender for 30 years. The illegal alien was convicted in North Carolina Superior Court for Buncombe County and was sentenced to less than two years in prison. Last week he was freed into the community because the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office refused to honor the federal detainer.

Thankfully, ICE captured Torres a day after he left prison during a targeted enforcement operation in downtown Asheville. The agency blasted county officials in a statement released shortly after Torres was apprehended. “By releasing an illegal alien with a serious sex offense against a child, Buncombe County chose to release a serious public safety threat into the Asheville community where he was free to potentially harm others until his capture by ICE,” the statement reads. In the document, the agency’s acting director, Matt Albence, points out the obvious: “Continued decisions to refuse cooperation with ICE serve as an open invitation to aliens who commit criminal offenses that these counties are a safe haven for persons seeking to evade federal authorities, and residents of Buncombe County are less safe due to these misguided sanctuary policies.” ICE’s regional field director accuses elected law enforcement officials who chose to ignore ICE detainers and arrest warrants of failing to protect their communities and placing politics above public safety.

Incredibly, it is a growing national trend among law enforcement officials that has gained enormous traction throughout North Carolina. About a month ago Judicial Watch reported that nearly 500 illegal immigrants with ICE detainers were discharged into communities throughout the Tar Heel State in less than a year. The offenders included those charged with serious crimes such as homicide, kidnapping, arson and sex offenses. A few weeks before the statewide figures were released by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Judicial Watch reported that the elected sheriff in North Carolina’s largest county, Mecklenburg, released numerous violent offenders rather than turning them over to federal authorities for removal. Among them was a previously deported Honduran charged with rape and child sex offenses. Though they are charged with enforcing the law in counties located about 120 miles from each other, the sheriffs in Buncombe and Mecklenburg counties share the common bond of protecting illegal immigrants who commit the most heinous of crimes in the jurisdiction they were elected to protect. For Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden it was actually a campaign promise. Immediately after getting elected in 2018, he ended the program known as 287(g) that notifies ICE of jail inmates in the country illegally.

Veterans Day – Why We Fight

As we honor the sacrifices of our great nation’s veterans on November 11, I’d like to call your attention again to the Veterans Day speech given in 1985 by then-President Ronald Reagan, particularly this section:

And the living have a responsibility to remember the conditions that led to the wars in which our heroes died. Perhaps we can start by remembering this: that all of those who died for us and our country were, in one way or another, victims of a peace process that failed; victims of a decision to forget certain things; to forget, for instance, that the surest way to keep a peace going is to stay strong. Weakness, after all, is a temptation — it tempts the pugnacious to assert themselves — but strength is a declaration that cannot be misunderstood. Strength is a condition that declares actions have consequences. Strength is a prudent warning to the belligerent that aggression need not go unanswered.

Peace fails when we forget what we stand for. It fails when we forget that our Republic is based on firm principles, principles that have real meaning, that with them, we are the last, best hope of man on Earth; without them, we’re little more than the crust of a continent. Peace also fails when we forget to bring to the bargaining table God’s first intellectual gift to man: common sense. Common sense gives us a realistic knowledge of human beings and how they think, how they live in the world, what motivates them. Common sense tells us that man has magic in him, but also clay. Common sense can tell the difference between right and wrong. Common sense forgives error, but it always recognizes it to be error first.

We endanger the peace and confuse all issues when we obscure the truth; when we refuse to name an act for what it is; when we refuse to see the obvious and seek safety in Almighty. Peace is only maintained and won by those who have clear eyes and brave minds.

I know millions of Americans have “clear eyes and brave minds” and these patriots desire the same qualities in our political and judicial leaders. It certainly reflects Judicial Watch’s modest approach to our mission.

God Bless America!

Until next week …

November 8--  A teacher who's in her fourth year of teaching at Montgomery County High School is the school system's "Teacher of the Year."

Math teacher Brittany Hobbs thought she wanted to farm, but says God had other plans for her life, "It's God's plan.  It all fell into place and he wanted me to be a teacher and I tried to stay away from it, so that's why I'm here."

mocobrittanyTeacher of the Year Brittany Hobbs (left) with School Superintendent Hugh Kight and Assistant Superintendent Marcee Pool.

Dr. Scott Barrow, Principal at Montgomery County High School, observed, "She teachers Geometry and Algebra II and we're glad to have her.  She does an amazing job in the classroom and has a well organized standards based classroom.  It's well deserved and I'm proud for her and I'm proud for the school system."

Brittany believes in getting creative teaching her students, "My goal is to make sure they're up and moving and they're constantly learning and engaged with fun activities.  I've had them singing their formulas and that's a new thing I tried this year and they loved it.  Keeping them engaged and moving is the new key to things," she said.

She also believes she can make an impact on her students' lives, "I hope to be changing their life and convince them they can do more than they think they can.  If they just work hard, they can accomplish anything in life."

Dr. Barrow believes the school environment in Mount Vernon helps teachers make a difference, "We try to do a good job building relationships with our students to make sure they understand that we care about them and we love them so they learn like they need to.  These teachers here and others in the building have really got a good handle on that," he said.

Two other teachers were honored for being "Teachers of the Year" in their respective schools.

mocoskyeFourth grade science teacher Skye Joyce (left) is the "Teacher of the Year" at Montgomery County Elementary School with Superintendent Kight and Assistant Superintendent Marcee Pool.

mocoshannonTwenty-seven-year-veteran math teacher Beth Shannon (left) won the honor at Montgomery County Middle School and was presented the award by Superintendent Kight and Assistant Superintendent Marcee Pool.

November 8--  Vidalia Police Chief Brian Scott reports the following arrests.

Morris, Corinthians Ann- B/F- 41 YOA- 1208 Easter Drive Vidalia, Ga- Driving While Licince Suspended or revoked(2ND) / Failure to Obey Stop Sign

Cash, Joseph Edward- W/M- 41 YOA- 155 S. Lanier Street Lyons, Ga.- Obstruction of Officer/ Warrant Served(Lyons )

Brewer,Ben Kevin- B/M- 24 YOA- 2104 W. Smalley Drive Vidalia, Ga- Warrant Served (Criminal Trespass)

Mikel, Michael Angelo- B/M- 29 YOA- 1208 Easter Drive Apt 38 Vidalia, Ga.- Warrant Served (Probation Violation)

Salazar, Justin Gage- W/M- 25 YOA- 181 Hwy 56 W Lyons, GA- DUI- 1st Offense, Failure to Obey Stop/Yield Sign

Bryd, Jasmin Seirra- W/F- 20 YOA- 251 West Grady Ave. Lyons, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense/Warrant Served (Bench- Jeff Davis Co SO)/Abandon Drugs, Poisons, Controlled Substances

Cribbs, Shawn Eon- W/M- 37 YOA- 707 W. Second St. Vidalia, GA- Theft by Receiving Stolen Property (State Warrant)

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Michael Childs, Lyons, underage possession, purchase and consumption of alcohol

James Thevenin, Lyons, underage possession, purchase and consumption of alcohol

Justin Westberry, Soperton, driving unlicensed, defective equipment

Misael Perez, Metter, driving unlicensed, hands free law

Robert Sharp, Dallas, TX, criminal trespass

Joshua Page, Lyons, DUI, seatbelts, failure to use turn signals

Darnell Collins, Vidalia, theft by deception

Teresa Gonzalez, Reidsville, theft by deception

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Jasmine Bailey, Columbia SC, probation violation

Edward Carter, Baxley, forgery

Brian Colby, Hazlehurst, probation violation

Timothy Conner, Vidalia, DUI, reckless driving, speeding, driving without license on person

Hulan Curtiss, Vidalia, probation violation

Loren Evans, Baxley, failure to appear

Hunter Kersey, Vidalia, obstruction/interference of duties

Mayce Langston,II, Uvalda, simple battery

Marissa Mills, Hattan, ND, probation violation

Jessica Morgan, Lyons, probation  violation

Timothy Morgan, Vidalia, purchase, possession, manufacture, distribution and sale of marijuana, obstructing police

James Odom, Lyons, requesting ambulance when no need exists

Jennier Singletary, Hazlehurst, battery

James Thevenin, Lyons, theft by taking, possession of alcohol by a minor

Keith Williford, Vidalia, probation violation

Harold Wright, Sr., Savannah, failure to appear

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin

10/28-Jaqun Quayshon Jordan, Mount Vernon, Aggravated Assault, Possession of Firearm During Commission of Crime

10/28-Zachary Eugene Woods, McRae, Simple Battery on Peace Officer, Misdemeanor Obstruction of Officer

10/31-Herschel Harper, Jr., Ailey, Burglary, Criminal Damage to Property-2nd

10/31-Tabitha Briana Philyaw, Vidalia, Driving w/Suspended License, Failure to Maintain Lane

11/01-Charlie Edward Glisson, Jr., Uvalda, Driving w/Suspended License, Misdemeanor Obstruction of Officer

11/04-Griffin Tate Wheeler, Villa Rica, Failure to Dim Headlights, Possession of Marijuana <1oz.

November 8--  The Georgia Association of County Agricultural Agents selected the radio stations of Vidalia Communications Corporation to receive its 2019 Mass Media Award in Radio.

mediaawardpicToombs County Extension Service Agent Jason Edenfield (center)  presented the award on behalf of the Association to John Koon (left) and Jeff Raiford.

For the past eight years, Edenfield has produced "Eye on Agriculture" features which are broadcast on radio stations WYUM-FM and WVOP-AM each weekday. 

The award also recognized the support of the two stations plus WTCQ-FM  and their webpage for supporting and promoting 4-H in Toombs, Montgomery and Treutlen counties.

"I can think of no better partner in helping me promote our Extension programs than Vidalia Communications Corporation," he said.

November 7--  The two high schools in Toombs County made improvements this year on their state performance ratings.

Vidalia High School improved its score by ten points while Toombs County High School made a nine point jump.

The 77.4 rating at Vidalia High School is nearly a half-point higher than the state average and is a step in the right direction, according to Principal John Sharpe, "The most exciting thing is the teachers are not satisfied with where they are now, they want to continue to grow."

The Principal says Vidalia High School's low score of 67.2 in 2018 was attributable to how the state scored performance that year,"The year we dropped it was because they changed the way they recorded the scoring.  We had to make the adjustment and I told the teachers it is what is is and we're not satisfied with this score and we're going to have to work hard to get at least above the state average. We've reached that mark and now we're going to continue to hopefully improve next year."

At Toombs County High School the jump to a 71.3 is due to improvements in a number of areas, according to Principal Marissa Morris, "Our scores came up in several areas.  Social studies was really high for us and we made gains in biology.  We've still got a ways to go in math, but we're working on that, and we saw increases in language arts as well. 

"Also, our attendance and our Pathway completers and overall students who attend dual enrollment increased, so that helped us tremendously along with our discipline problems being cut in half," she said.

Overall Principal Morris believes teachers are making progress working with Bulldog students, "We're all about the kids and building relationships that lead to successful academics and overall success in life.  We've worked hard on that and trying to keep stability with teachers and standards and I think that has made a difference for us with consistency."

November 6--  Twelve years ago Peggy NeSmith had a dream to use what she knows as a recovering substance abuser to help other women kick the habit.

rotarydreamcenterPeggy with Vidalia Rotary Club President Steven McComas, left, and Rotarian Andy Hartley after her presentation to the club Wednesday.

"I have the history of drug and alcohol abuse and when I came to the Lord I just felt like this was the ministry he was calling me to so I could help others who are where I've been."

Eight years later she's running the non-profit "Dream Center Vidalia" and estimates that 60% of the women she has helped are off drugs and alcohol. She believes part of that is because she has empathy with the women who come to the Dream Center, "If you've been there, you know it.  I can basically read the hearts and minds and hurts and it's a great thing that I've been there and can better minister to the girls," she said.

Peggy knows it's a hard road back for those who are hooked and that they have to hit rock bottom before they can start to recover, "Each person has to come to the place where they are at the end of themselves.  That is the first step.  If they don't, none of the rest will work.  If they do, it always works. It's the individual who has to come to the place where they are sick and tired of being sick and tired.  I would have to say that is 90 percent of the battle."

The Dream Center is governed by a group of volunteer board members headed by former Vidalia High School principal Larry Cowart, "Peggy came to me one day and she knew I taught a Sunday School class.  She asked me and my wife if we'd go out to the Dream Center to teach some classes out there.  We did and it just sort of  evolved from that.  God just put in my wife's heart and my heart to be at the Dream Center and work there.  It's something that's close to us and we believe in it.  The community has certainly backed the Dream Center and we thank everyone for that.  That's how it started for me.  It's in my heart and I have a feel for it.  Alcohol and drugs have been in my family for a long time and it was just a way I thought I could help," he said.

For information on how the Dream Center may help you, visit their website at

November 6--  Tracy Johnson, President of the Toombs County Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, has been named a "Life Member" of the organization.

naacpjohnsonHe accepted the Certificate of Life Membership from former Georgia NAACP President Reverend Dr. Francys Johnson, right, at the Branch's Fall Banquet.                                                                             

November 6 -- Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin welcomed Pre-Kindergarten students from Montgomery County Elementary School to his office Wednesday.

mocoprekThe children took a tour of the office and got an up-close look at a patrol car.

"Our staff is always excited to have the opportunity to meet children from our community and tell them about the Sheriff's Office," Sheriff Maybin said.

November 5-- Voters went to the polls in four of Montgomery County's towns Tuesday.

Mount Vernon

Incumbent Mayor Joey Fountain was re-elected by a wide margin over Mackey Hill, 435 to 57.

In the race for three at-large city council seats, incumbents Pete Horton and John Roller won with 262 and 254 votes, respectively.  The third seat goes to Elizabeth Williams with 245 votes versus 200 votes for Nakia Brazell.


Three incumbents were re-elected to at-large city council seats.  Among the four running for the three seats Arren Moses got 75 votes, Bennie Sammons 64, Janice Braddy 60 and John Carpenter 45.

Voters also okayed extending Sunday sale of alcohol in Uvalda from 12:30 p.m. till midnight after a petition circulated by Ladson's Food Mart got the question on the ballot.


Voters gave 30-year-old Jesse Ledford 38 votes over challenger Chris McLendon's 16 in the mayor's race.  Current Mayor Donna Powell is not seeking re-election but still got18 write-in votes.

Ledford went door-to-door urging people to vote and promising more openness in city government.


Voters in Tarrytown said no to alcohol sales.  They voted 13 to 9 against liquor sales by the drink and 14 to 8 against Sunday sales.

November 5--  Two men who have spent most of their adult lives fulfilling civic duties in Vidalia will be serving the next four years on the Vidalia city council.

Both Bob Dixon and Loyd Mobley won their city council races Tuesday by large margins.

Dixon defeated former Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits 974 to 225 for the at-large city council seat being vacated by Kailey Dees and said, "I want to listen and learn and I want us to grow and keep Vidalia progressive and moving forward.  Anything I can do that's good for the city, I want to do it.  If anyone has any ideas or thoughts that I can use to make us better, I'd certainly be glad to hear them and be open to the folks, the people."

In the 4th Ward, veteran council member Lisa Chesser will be succeeded by Loyd Mobley who defeated his young challenger Logan Lawrence 362 to 98 and said serving on the city council is a family tradition, "It's a challenge, but I've always enjoyed a challenge and I'm looking forward to it.  My Dad was a councilman for 16 years and he loved it and I think I'll enjoy it.  I know it's a lot of hard work and a lot of responsibility.  It's a big job and I don't take that lightly.  I'll be ready to go to work on January 1 and between now and then I'll be learning all I can about the city,"

Third Ward councilman John Raymond Turner was unopposed as were Vidalia Board of Education members Bruce Asberry, Doug Roper, III and Julie Torrance.

In Lyons there was no opposition to incumbent Mayor Willis NeSmith, Jr. nor to councilmen Ivy Toole and Rick Hartley.

In Santa Claus Amy Lawler takes over as Mayor with incumbent Vince Meadows not running, Donita Bowen succeeds incumbent Timothy Horton who decided not to run for re-election to the city council and incumbent councilman Tad Bryant was re-elected without opposition.

November 5--  The Montgomery County Sheriff's Office has arrested a man in connection with a shooting in Ailey.

bookingjordanAccording to Sheriff Doug Maybin, Jaquan Jordan of Mount Vernon is charged with aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during commission of a crime.

He's accused in connection with assaulting and injuring an unidentified person in Ailey the night of October 25.

The same night shots were fired into a residence on West McKinnon Street in Mount Vernon and a second suspect is being sought in that case.  

Sheriff Maybin says there may be a connection between the two shootings.

The GBI is assisting the sheriff's office and the Mount Vernon Police Department with the investigation.

November 5--  The Toombs County Branch of the NAACP awarded college scholarships during its10th Annual Fall Freedom Fund Banquet over the weekend at Chatters in Lyons.

naacpswinners(L-R) Mrs. Sonja Eason accepts the scholarship of behalf of her daughter Cari Eason, a 2019 graduate of Toombs County High School who is attending Clayton State University; Bakari Woods, a 2019 graduate of Montgomery County High School who attends Albany State University; and Mrs. Valerie Burnette, chairman of the Toombs County Education Committee, who presented the scholarships.

Branch President Tracy Johnson said, "Congratulations to Miss Cari Eason and Mr. Bakari Woods for being our 2019 scholarship recipients. It was a great pleasure to honor these two deserving and high achieving college students from our local area in continuing their future endeavors.

"We also honored several phenomenal individuals who have been outstanding pillars of our community.

"On the behalf of all members and officers we’d like to thank all of our donors, special guests and honorees, and all who were in attendance at this year’s event."

The Reverend Dr. Francys Johnson, former congressional candidate and President of the Georgia NAACP, was the guest speaker and spoke on the theme of the ceremony, "When We Fight, We Win."

November 5--  Voters in Tarrytown are voting today on two questions regarding the sale of liquor in the city limits.

City Clerk Jean Kinney says voters will decide if they want to okay the sale and consumption of liquor on premises and also if they want to authorize the sale of liquor during certain hours on Sundays, the so-called "Mimosa Law."

Voting is taking place at the Tarrytown Volunteer Fire Department station until seven p.m.

November 5--  Some folks in Toombs County think they can vote today for Toombs County Sheriff, but they can't!

Toombs County Voting Registrar Carey Alligood says "a lot of folks" have shown up today to vote for sheriff, however, that race isn't on the ballot until May, 2020.

She says the early announcements by two candidates for sheriff, incumbent Sheriff Junior Kight and Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker, gave people the idea the election for sheriff was today.

The only area contested races today are in city elections in Vidalia and in Mount Vernon, Higgston and Uvalda.

Find out who won those races after the polls close tonight at seven p.m. on NewsTalk WVOP, AM 970 and FM 105.3; Your Favorite, 98Q (FM 97.7), Sweet Onion Country 1017FM and streaming on the web at

The election coverage is courtesy of the Peoples Bank of Lyons and Vidalia.

November 4--  The primary schools in Vidalia and Toombs County showed big improvements in their 2019 performance reports released by the Georgia Department of Education.

In 2018, J.D. Dickerson Primary School had a dismal rating of 44.3, but in 2019, during the last year under Principal Scott Stephens, the school jumped 33 points to a rating of 77.3.  

The new principal at Dickerson, Brenda McLain, has been the assistant principal for the last  14 years and says additions to the curriculum accounted for some of the higher score.

"We had the opportunity to add some extracurricular courses which helped.  We had not had arts and music for several years, but were able to add those back last year and that gave us extra points.  Also, the teachers made sure we were communicating with the community so we could all be on the same page and understand that our mission here is to get them ready and prepared for the next level," she said.

Principal McLain also said the open door policy implemented by Stephens contributed to the five-star school climate rating, "I think people felt like it was great to send their children here and that they were safe when they were here and were learning when they were here, and I attribute a lot of that to that."

Meanwhile, at Lyons Primary School. the performance score jumped eleven points and busted the 80 mark.

Principal Chris Bell says he knows why, "The biggest thing I can say here at  Lyons Primary is that we have a hard working staff that goes above and beyond to try and prepare these students for what comes after the second grade when they leave us.  We're trying to build a strong foundation.  We're not just teaching kids how to read and write and do math, but we're teaching them how to function in a classroom environment and get along with each other.  It's a very challenging job, but we have a building full of people who are up to the challenge."

November 2-- Members of the Vidalia High School chorus attended the Georgia Music Educators Association District One Honor Chorus in Springfield this week.

According to Chorus Director John Morgan, "These students proved their excellence in local auditions and were selected to participate in the clinic for two grueling days of rehearsal culminating in a wonderful performance for their parents and peers."

vhschorus19Vidalia Comprehensive High School was well represented at the annual event by Makynna Beasley, Canyon Beck, Emma Braddy, Autumn Claxton, Maliyah Cooper, Cheylyn Cowart, Miguel Cruz, Felicity Day, Ashlynn Goodwin, Kaylie Gunter, Autumn Harris, Jaquan Johnson, Landon Lindsay, Joy McCullough, Morgan Osborne, Makenna Rakes, Keishay Smith, Luke Stinnett, Ja’Via Walton, and Walker Wheeler.

Landon Lindsay was featured as a soloist in the concert.

"These students rehearsed for several weeks on the difficult and unfamiliar repertoire for the event, and represented our school well in both their discipline and musical skills under the batons of master conductors. The concerts were thrilling, and many choral parents attended the event, Morgan said.

"I congratulate the students and thank the parents, chaperones, Principal John Sharpe and the Vidalia  Board of Education for allowing these students to attend this memorable event" he added.

November 2--  Vidalia Police Chief Brian Scott reports the following arrests.

Wiggins, Shcaya Kenay- B/F- 17 YOA- 1208 Easter Dr. Apt. 43 Vidalia, GA- Disruption of a Public School (State Warrant)

Walker, Tykeavius Desmond- B/M- 20 YOA- 176 Freaman Graham Blvd. Eastman, GA- Warrant Served (Dodge County)

Smith, Tyler Will- W/M- 27 YOA- 2600 S. Old River Rd. Uvalda, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense

Reffitt, Vernon Lee- W/M- 37 YOA- 116 Beechwood Dr. Vidalia, GA- Theft of Mislaid Property/False Statement and Writings (State Warrants)

Smith, Stacey A. - W/F- 33 YOA- 3178 Lyons Center Rd. Lyons, GA- Financial Transaction Card Fraud (x11- State Warrants)

White, Angela-B/F- 35 YOA- 507 S Broadfoot Blvd. Vidalia, GA- Criminal Trespass

Holmes, David Sylvester-B/M-39 YOA- 661 Sherwood Dr. Jonesboro, Ga- Crimnial Trespass

Thevenin, James Paul-W/M-18 YOA- 141 CW Driggers Rd Lot#2- Lyons, Ga-Theft by Taking

Childs, Michael W/M- 18 YOA- 141 CW Driggers Rd. Lot#2- Lyons,Ga-Theft by Taking

Poss, Kyra Mae- W/F- 17 YOA- 1704 E. North St. Vidalia, GA Burglary, Interference with Government Property

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Lon Tosolla, Lyons, driving without license on person

Mayra Juarez, Lyons, battery family violence

Jonathan Zamorano, Lyons, battery family violence

David Anderson, Lyons, seatbelt violation

Michael Childs, Lyons, underage possession, purchase and consumption of alcohol

James Thevenin, Lyons, underage possession, purchase and consumption of alcohol

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Hollis Bryant, Uvalda, felony murder, probation violation, failure to appear

Brittany Carswell, Vidalia, financial card transaction

Kathryn Cortes, Vidalia, bad checks

Michael Cox, Statesboro, aggravated assault, criminal damage to property, possession of firearm or knife during certain crimes

Marquita Johnson, Reidsville, failure to appear

David Milliron, Cobbtown, DUI, hit and run, failure to maintain lane

William Mitchell, Lyons, probation violation

Fermen Ramirez, Baxley, driving unlicensed, operating vehicle without registration/license plate, traffic control devices

Michael Robinson, Lyons, probation weekender

Gudiel Soto, Savannah, driving unlicensed, speeding

Michael Whitfield, Lyons, probation weekender

La Rica Wilder, Vidalia, disruption/interference with operation of public schools

Israel Williams, Lyons, felony murder

Quintavius Williams, aggravated assault and battery

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

10/21-Ginger Michele Moxley, Vidalia, Cruelty to Children-2nd, Possession Controlled Substance w/Intent, Parole Violation

10/22-Bobby Brown, Glenwood, Warrant Served - Chatham County

10/24-Jamie Lynn Allen, Uvalda, Theft by Taking (Felony)

10/25-Fredericka Monice Seay, Lyons, Loud Music, DUI

10/27-Krysanna M. Crapps, Hazlehurst, Tag Light Violation, DUI

By Senator Jack Hill, Reidsville


Dual Enrollment for high school students has existed under different names such as "Move On When Ready" and "Accel" for a number of years.  High school students have always been able to enroll in colleges while still in high school but there were always impediments to full participation. One of the barriers was that school districts lost funding for the period of time that a high school student was taking a college class. Another impediment was that students' credit hours would count against their HOPE Scholarship eligibility later on. An ad hoc committee finally worked out the details of what became known as Dual Enrollment and for many reasons, the program has grown exponentially.


Dual enrollment at a college, public or private, or technical college is free to the student.  When a high school student enrolls in a college course, the state continues to pay the school system under the QBE Formula for the student's regular attendance. If a student takes classes at a TCSG or USG institution, their credit hours count towards the funding formulas for each higher education system. Additionally, the Student Finance Commission pays the college tuition for the student to attend class. The student thus is earning postsecondary college credit or technical college credit towards a certificate at no cost to them.


At the start of the current program, the Technical College System and the Board of Regents System shared about an equal amount of the cost and private institutions had a much smaller portion. In these few short years, private institutions have taken a larger portion of the total cost and along with TCSG have accounted for the bulk of the growth. From FY 2016 to FY 2019 Dual Enrollment costs increased 67.8% at USG institutions, 107.9% at TCSG institutions, and 224.4% at private institutions.

In 2016, Dual Enrollment costs totaled about $45 million in state dollars. In FY 2020 the state appropriation is underfunded at almost $100 million dollars. The original projection for Dual Enrollment called for nearly $126 million in total funding, but the budget was reduced to reflect changes to program which would have happened if HB 444 had been passed this past session.


Costs have leveled out between FY 2019 and FY 2020 due to the decision by the Georgia Student Finance Commission to cease paying for books and fees beginning this coming fall. This decision was made by the commission to maintain the cost of the Dual Enrollment program within the available funding. Unfortunately, the levelling out is temporary because the overall demand for the program is unchanged. For FY 2021, GSFC is projecting it will cost $123 million.


A State Auditor's report in 2018 outlined some of the reasons for the rapidly advancing cost of Dual Enrollment and some of the areas where increasing costs have been rampant. The report pointed out there are no restraints on the number or content of courses students can take under Dual Enrollment. The report also outlined that there is no statewide standard grade requirement and grade levels as low as a "C" can qualify for some colleges.

There is no standard amount that the Student Finance Commission pays all colleges, public and private. Instead, for USG and TCSG institutions, Student Finance pays the standard tuition per-credit-hour rate which varies from $95.00 to $341.93 although, most Dual Enrollment classes taken at USG institutions are at cheaper colleges. All TCSG institutions have a $100 per-credit-hour tuition rate. Private institutions are paid at a fixed rate of $250 for colleges using a semester system and $187 for colleges using a quarter system.


Dual Enrollment classes can be taught on a college campus, online, or on a high school campus. If they are taught on a high school campus the instructor can be a normal college professor who travels to the high school, or the instructor could be a high school teacher who is made an adjunct faculty member at a college. No matter where the class is delivered or who teaches it, the cost is the same. Additionally, there are no statewide standard requirements for Dual Enrollment instructors except that they meet the general requirements to be an adjunct faculty member that each college sets.


Cutting down on what Dual Enrollment funds will lead to short term savings. However, until the growth in demand for the program is addressed, the high cost will return eventually.

Setting a standard award payment across all sectors of Dual Enrollment and allowing colleges to make the choice to continue accepting Dual Enrollment students could help to limit the program's growth. Requiring a minimum standard GPA for all high school students would limit program costs and it could incentivize high school students to get better grades so they can participate in Dual Enrollment. Additionally, eliminating payments for summer classes to align Dual Enrollment with the high school calendar would result in savings.

Limiting a student to 30 credit hours, or ten classes, and then counting credit hours taken above that limit towards their HOPE Scholarship eligible hours would reduce costs and incentivize high school students to be thoughtful in the college classes they take.


Ultimately, it will be up to the General Assembly in the upcoming session to determine what changes will be made to Dual Enrollment to preserve the benefit for future students while addressing the very high cost of the program.

Dual Enrollment at its core is a wonderful advantage for high school students to get ahead in college attendance, get a feel for college while still in high school or attain a trade or skill before graduation that may assist in a job search.

We shouldn't forget that Dual Enrollment is succeeding. The audit report referred to earlier noted that 83% of high school graduates in 2015, who participated in dual enrollment, were enrolled in a postsecondary institution within one year of graduating. Nearly half had earned a credential or degree within six years. 

November 1--  Not many people took advantage of advance voting for the Tuesday city council races in Vidalia.

Voting registrar Carey Alligood reports 457 voters, seven percent of the city's 6,741 registered voters, cast ballots.  She says 43 people have returned absentee ballots so far.

Running city-wide for the at-large seat on the city council are former Vidalia police chief Franks Waits versus accountant Bob Dixon.

The race for the fourth ward is between business executive Loyd Mobley and law firm research director Logan Lawrence.

Rumors started floating around Vidalia Friday that Lawrence was accepting a job in Atlanta and would be moving.  In an interview on NewsTalk WVOP, he denied the rumors.

"That is not true,  I'm not going to be moving to Atlanta right now.  I'm still in the election and asking people to vote for me.  I'm still campaigning, talking to people and hoping for a positive result on Tuesday," Lawrence said.

When asked if he's been offered a job in Atlanta, the candidate said, "That's not something I'm willing to disclose.  I don't really think that's anyone's business," but he reiterated regarding a move, "I have no plan right now to do that."

The polls are open Tuesday from 7 a.m. till 7 p.m. and there's only one voting location.  It's at the Vidalia Municipal Annex.

November 1 -- Toombs County Middle School announces October Students of the Month. These students have worked hard to obtain this by having good grades, attendance, and citizenship.

From The Top
1st Row: Ryan Galbreath, Cassandra Romo, Justin Harrison
2nd Row: from the top: Alicia Montes
3rd Row: from the top: Neal Hower, Alejandro Tinoco Zamora, and Rhyanna Howard
4th Row: from the top:Samual Kelly, Aaliyah South, and Richard Santiago
5th Row: from the top: Aleah Carroll, Jean Peterson, and Jessi Meeks
Not Pictured: Mario Rojas Perez and Autumn Jarriel

November 1 -- Congratulations to our October Students of the Month! We are very proud of you!

Front Row L-R: Dan Giron (3rd Grade), Brooklyn Jackson (Pre-K), and Walker Nabb (Kindergarten)
Back Row L-R: London Bishop (1st Grade), Ivan Tinoco (2nd Grade), and Makenna Gardisser (5th Grade)