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Santa in LyonsJanuary 2-- Children in Lyons got a special treat on Christmas eve when Santa took time out of his busy schedule to spend some extra time in Lyons handing out toys along with the Lyons Fire Department and the Lyons Police Department.

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker explained how the event came about. “Our Fire Chief Darel Corley came up with the idea of asking Santa Claus to ride one of his fire trucks around town and meet with the kids and have their picture taken with Santa Claus and give out candy and toys on Christmas Eve and fortunately I had a local church donate some toys to give out to some families at the same time. We took the opportunity to use Darel’s idea to hand out those toys with Santa Claus being there,” said Chief Walker.

“It was special to see the children of our community light up when we were there with Santa Claus to hand out toys. We really thank Santa Claus for taking time out of his busy schedule on Christmas Eve to ride around Lyons and meet the kids of our community,” added Walker.

Chief Walker went on to say, “It’s tough for us to do our jobs in law enforcement and fire fighting if you don’t get support from your local community so it’s very important that we get out and interact with the community outside of our normal official duties.”

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

Singleton,Tyrone-B/M-31 YOA-942 North Circle Dr. Vidalia, Ga-Warrant Service (Aggravated Assault X2, Battery 

Hunt, Ronald Steven- W/M- 34 YOA- 2822 County Rd 423, Lake Panasoffee, FL- Theft By Shoplifting

Hitchcock, Jessica Lynn- W/F- 40 YOA- 732 Amanda Rd. Metter, GA- Willfully Obstruction of Police Office Simple/Verbal, Theft by Shoplifting

Sturgis, Margarita Maria- W/F- 28 YOA- 1680 Ga Hwy 292 Lyons, Ga- Theft by Shoplifting

Grimes, Marcus Lance- W/M- 32 YOA- 1503 E First St, Vidalia, Ga- Criminal Trespass, Possession of Methamphetamine, Possession of Tools for the Commission of a Crime, Warrant Service (Probation)

Barnes, Jason LaMichael- B/M- 32 YOA- 70 Lakeside, McRae Ga.- Theft By Shoplifting 1st , Warrant Service

Harden, Iyana- B/F- 17 YOA- 204 Kenworth St, Vidalia Ga.- Disorderly Conduct

Morris, Jayla Monic- B/F- 23 YOA- 803 Morris St. Vidalia, GA- Aggravated Assault

Goodrum, Lataisha- B/F- 32 YOA- 27 Haygood Ave SE Atlanta, GA- Loitering/Prowling

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Avila, Irene – Vidalia, Felony Arrest Warrant-Aggravated Assault

Berry, Daron, Sr. – Reidsville, Probation Violation – Misdemeanor

Cook, Lloyd - Uvalda, Bench Warrant-Failure to Appear, Probation Violation Misdemeanor

Eason, Jarrett – Brunswick, Felony Warrant, Probation Violation

Harden, Joseph – Lyons, Felony Warrant, Probation Violation Felony

Robertson, Linda – Pembroke, DUI, Failure to Maintain Lane

Rogers, Rickey – Lyons, DUI, Speeding

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Page, Peyton R - Mount Vernon, DUI, Failure to Yield to Emergency Vehicle, Fleeing, Attempting to Elude Arrest, Driving Without License on Person, Possession of Marijuana less than 1 Ounce, Possession of Drug Related Objects

Braddock, Dakota James – Lyons, Possession of Marijuana Less Than 1 Ounce

Williams, Chasidy Chavon – Lyons, Headlight Requirements, Driving Without License on Person, DUI

Lee, Angela Ann – Hinesville, Warrant Service

Clark, Shanna Marie – Reidsville, Simple Battery

Dees, Justin Lamar – Vidalia, Public Drunkeness

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests. 

12/16-Diamond Devonne Calloway, Vidalia, Felony Probation Violation

12/16-Shana Jordan, Glenwood, Defective Equipment (Headlights), Child Restraint Violation, Driving w/Suspended License

12/18-Sedric Sanders, Mt. Vernon, Misdemeanor Probation Violation

12/21-Tony Colt Kight, Alston, battery (Family Violence)

12/26-Lindsey Wilkinson, Blyth, Ga., DUI, Failure to Maintain Lane

12/26-Beverly Elaine Beasley, Lyons, Possession of Controlled Substance, Possession of Drug Related Objects

December 31-- As we move into the new year and a new decade, there are new laws taking effect for residents of the State of Georgia. Governor Brian Kemp signed over 300 bills into law in 2019; some having already gone into effect. Some of these new laws may affect you greatly, some not so much, but here are some of the more popular new laws beginning January 1st.

The bill that garnered most of the attention and was definitely the most controversial was House Bill 481, better known to most as the Heartbeat Bill. The law will ban abortions after a heartbeat can be detected and would have gone into effect January 1st but a federal court ruling in October has the law in limbo for now.

House Bill 63 gives physicians a way to maneuver around “step therapy” which is basically when an insurance company wants you to exhaust every other preferred medication before allowing you to receive the prescription that your physician wants to prescribe for you.

House Bill 478 makes the requirements to be placed on the state’s sex offender registry stricter and by requiring abusers to be 18 years of age instead of 13 to be listed.

House Bill 266 allows people that utilize a 529 plan to save for college to take a state tax deduction that doubles from $2,000 to $4,000 per child for single taxpayers, and from $4,000 to $8,000 for taxpayers filing jointly with a spouse.

House Bill 239 created a new business court that would handle contract disputes, copyright disagreements, and arguments over who came up with a money making idea.

Another law that has already gone into effect as of last Friday is a federal law that prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from purchasing tobacco products of any kind, including cigarettes, cigars, and also e-cigarettes. The law is designed to deter teenage tobacco use and vaping. The Food and Drug Administration still has 6 months to finalize the law even though it went into effect December 27th.

James Nixon Head ShotDecember 30--  Meadows Regional Medical Center’s Chief Operating Officer James A. Nixon, FACHE, is one of 30 outstanding alumni to receive 21st Century Leaders “30 for 30” Alumni Award. He is one of 17 Georgia honorees, who now represent organizations ranging from LinkedIn to NASA, which will be recognized at an awards reception on January 16, 2020 at The Gathering Spot in Atlanta.

In celebration of the organization’s 30th Anniversary, alumni were honored for leading the way in business, leadership, community, educational, and philanthropic endeavors. The 30 award winners represent a diverse group of individuals at different stages in their careers and a wide variety of organizations.

“I am humbled and honored to be recognized by an organization that has poured into me so that I can pour into others,” said Nixon. “21st Century Leaders is the foundation to my formal business and leadership training. These skills have followed me through my internships, early career and even now.”

Nixon has been Chief Operating Officer at Meadows since July 2018. He completed his Bachelor’s Degree in Finance at Mercer University and his Master of Science in Health Administration at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is Board Certified in Healthcare Management as a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Management (FACHE) and has spent the last 10 years as an administrative leader in the healthcare field. A native of Tifton, Nixon served as the Vice President in different capacities and divisions at Tift Regional Health System prior to joining Meadows.

21st Century Leaders is a non-profit organization that connects, transforms, and inspires high school students across Georgia to leverage-diversity, explore career opportunities, and become leaders in their schools, communities, and ultimately the workforce.

About 21st Century Leaders

Since inception in 1989, 21st Century Leaders has served more than 14,000 diverse high school students from over 250 Georgia high schools. 21st Century Leaders is a non-profit organization that connects, transforms, and inspires high school students across Georgia to leverage diversity, explore career opportunities, and become leaders in their school, community, and ultimately the workforce. For more information about 21st Century Leaders, visit

Meadows Health

Meadows Health is a regional health system featuring the only nationally accredited hospital in Montgomery, Toombs, Treutlen and Tattnall counties, a 15,000-square-foot cancer center and a network of physician practices that serve Vidalia and the surrounding communities. We offer the latest in medical advancements including cutting-edge cancer care, life-saving heart attack procedures, women’s services, wound care, orthopedic medicine and more. For more information visit

December 30-- It’s been in the news recently that Georgia Power is planning a rate increase for its customers in 2020. John Kraft of Georgia Power explains the reason for the increase.

“This is our first rate case since 2013. We filed this case back in the summer with the Public Service Commission as we’re required to do and I think it’s going to enable us to continue making the investments in our state’s electrical grid. It’s also about our environmental programs that are required to comply with federal and state regulations. And then it’s also about our storm restoration efforts. After six years of hundreds of storms across that time and three straight years of major hurricanes in Matthew, Irma and Michael, we were under due to storm cost to the tune of $450,000,000,” said Kraft.

Kraft added, “What was included was a measure that will increase about $5.89 for the typical customer which uses 1,000 kilowatt hours a month. Part of our case included an increase in the base service charge. That’s the fixed charge that everyone pays each month regardless of the amount of energy they use. That’s to cover the cost that exists like having the grid available 24/7 whenever they flip the switch, metering, billing, and customer service. It will go up $2 beginning in 2021and $2 in 2022.”

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

Haynes, Lashunda Renia- B/F- 41 YOA- 406 Symonds St. Vidalia, GA- Possession of Drug Related Objects, Willfully Obstruction of Police Officer Simple/Verbal 

Poole, Damien Stuart- W/M- 40 YOA- 220 Jane Dr., Vidalia, GA- DUI, Driving While License Revoked

Hitchcock, Jessica Lynn- W/F- 40 YOA- 732 Amanda Rd. Metter, GA- Willfully Obstruction of Police Office Simple/Verbal, Theft by Shoplifting

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Anderson, Blake, Glennville, Criminal Trespass

Anthony, Iesha, Vidalia, Probation Violation – Misdemeanor

Collins, Katlyn, Lyons, Aggravated Assault, Theft by Taking, DUI, Speed Restrictions

Davis, Chiuro, Swainsboro, Aggravated Assault

Escobar, Andy, Hazlehurst, Hit and Run – Misdemeanor

Evans, Amber, Twin City, Conceal/Destroy/Removal/Transfer Property for Security Interest

Raper, Joshua, Uvalda, DUI, Possession of Marijuana < 1 oz., theft by taking, probation violation

Stewart, Freddie, Vidalia, Simple Battery

Taylor, Tiffany, Vidalia, Controlled Substance-Purchase, Possession, Manufacturing, Distribution, Sale

Tinsley, Shuconda, Soperton, Grand Jury Bench Warrant for Toombs County

Tooke, Christopher, Tarrytown, Aggravated Cruelty to Animals

Walden, Michael, Jr. Lyons, Probation Violation-Felony

December 23-- As the year comes to a close, Georgians across the state are opening their wallets and giving to those less fortunate. Georgia can proudly count itself among the most charitable states in the country. But even as we open our hearts to others, Georgians should be careful to ensure their donations are used honestly and effectively.

“The holiday season is a time when we take stock of the things that are most important – friends, family, community – and remember those who are less fortunate,” said Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. “I encourage all Georgians to continue to give charitably to those in need but, at the same time, to make sure they are donating to causes that will put their contributions to good use.”

Before making charitable contributions this year, please keep these tips in mind:

  • Research Online – If there is a charitable organization or cause to which you would like to donate, research online beforehand to ensure the charity is right for you. The Better Business Bureau, Charity Navigator, Guidestar, and other websites provide evaluations of different charitable organizations.
  • Check For Charity Filings - Before making any donation, be sure to confirm the organization you are supporting is a legitimate 501(c)(3) charity. Ask for the organization’s Employer Identification Number (EIN) and search it on the IRS website, or look for the organization’s 990 tax filings.
  • Effectiveness Matters – Take the time to look at an organization’s financial situation. Tools available online, such as those mentioned above, will provide you with information necessary to ascertain how much of your contribution will actually go to those in need versus administrative or other costs.
  • Do not share personal financial information over the phone – Do not share your credit card, debit card, or bank account information over the phone. Donate by check or credit card, rather than cash. And send the contribution directly to the organization rather than through a third party.  If you donate more than $250, the organization should send you a letter confirming the size of your donation.
  • Tax Deductible Donations – If making a tax-deductible donation is important to you, search the database of tax-exempt organizations available on the IRS website. Before making your donation, ensure the charity you have identified is in fact tax deductible. Then, once you have made the donation, be sure to get a receipt for your contribution.

More donation tips can be found here.

The Charities Division encourages Georgians to contact division staff if they receive suspicious charitable solicitations. To report suspicious activity, call (470) 312-2640. You can also email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to submit a complaint.


December 23-- For a town of less than 150 people, the city of Santa Claus, Georgia is doing big things for fans of Christmas cheer. Sue Grisham has been working as Santa's secretary by postmarking thousands of letters for the past four years and according to Grisham, "some people bring them to me and some mail them from as far as West Virginia to receive an unofficial postmark from Santa Claus, Georgia." 

Many from all over have taken advantage of this opportunity and it has kept Sue Grisham extremely busy. "Last year I had over 4,200 cards and so far this year we have had about 3,900 cards send for postmarking. One day a few weeks ago, we had 529 cards come through in just one day" Grisham said. 

With the massive amounts of rain hitting the state of Georgia over the last few days, Toombs EMA Director Lynn Moore says we can expect flooding by Friday.  "The Altamaha River flood stage is 74.5 feet, the Altamaha at the moment is 73.5 and by Friday we are expecting it to be at 78 feet, or three and one-half feet above the flood stage. All of the low lying areas on the Toombs County side will be flooded, "said Moore.   Not only do citizens along the Altamaha need to pay attention to the flood stage, but "the Ohoopee River's flood stage is 11.5 feet and the National Weather Service out of Charleston, SC is expecting 15.5 by tomorrow (Tuesday)."  The rain that has hit our area isn't necessarily the problem, but as Moore explained, "when they release the water at Lake Sinclair we will see the rivers down here rise significantly as we have seen in the past."  In order to be safe, citizens along the rivers need to plan accordingly and do so in a hurry, as more water comes from the northern part of the state affects our area in days to come.

December 20-- With 2020 fast approaching, getting ready for the upcoming elections is extremely important, especially with all the new changes that are being implemented from the State of Georgia for the upcoming year. Toombs County Election Supervisor Carey Alligood gave an update to the commissioners at their regular meeting Tuesday night.

While the initial cost of the equipment is being paid for by the state, the maintenance and upkeep will be the responsibility of the county. Alligood said, “What we will receive from the Secretary of State’s Office is sixty nine touch units, nine scanners, one central unit which will be located in my office at all times, twenty seven touch pads, and one ballot printer and the program itself.”

“If we had purchased this equipment ourselves at the county level it would have cost us $369,000 but because the state went in and purchased all this equipment under them, the value of the equipment is $242,000,” said Alligood.

While the new systems will be quite a bit different from what voters are used to in the past, they will be very simple and easy to use. “It’s actually like a huge touch pad or a big screen TV. They are about 34 inches high and about 12 inches wide, and that’s what you’ll actually touch to vote. When you are through voting, you will hit print and print out a paper ballot with a bar code at the top. You’ll take that to the scanner and scan that in yourself. That’s when your ballot will be cast and counted,” stated Alligood.

blaketillery2019December 19--  The last quarter of 2019 has certainly been full of hustle and bustle.  You’ve likely already heard of the major employment announcement in Telfair County- the Guidoni Group, a Brazilian company, will bring 455 jobs and a $96 million investment to the space formerly occupied by the Husqvarna plant.  Several other economic projects are in local pipelines and I’m very proud of the team effort our local communities have made toward creating jobs here at home.

While we’re seeing success, the item that has single-handedly limited more success is our local workforce.  Simply put, we don’t have enough workers. Our local Career, Technical, and Agricultural Educational programs (CTAE) and technical college programs have been working hard to fill this void.   I’ve been traveling the state to see how other communities are filling this void and some of the findings have been interesting.

One middle Georgia community our size has its high school students taking YouScience tests and matching the results with local industry. YouScience is a computer-based test which the State of Georgia owns licenses.  The test takes about 4 hours to take.  The test takes a high school student’s interests and abilities and matches these with skills necessary for jobs in the workforce. (I took the test myself to understand it better.  Apparently, I should have been a construction project manager!)

A counselor in another part of Georgia took the step of getting at-risk student’s parents involved after seeing the results of their student’s YouScience tests.  The parents and counselor toured local manufacturing facilities, discussed starting salaries and benefits then presented all this information to the students.  The result was placement of 100% of the targeted students in a job at graduation.  Local businesses loved the help finding labor. In fact, some of the parents were so impressed, they wanted to apply for the job openings too!

This is just one example of ways communities are creatively tackling workforce needs.  Many of our local schools are tackling this need through other outside-the-box measures, including mentoring, internships, and CTAE experiences.  I know Toombs County Schools is using the YouScience program.  I’m sure others are too.  I look forward to sharing what I’ve seen with our local education leaders.

In closing, I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a start to 2020.  May we never forget the reason for this season and may your homes be full of joy and love during this time.  If you have any questions about the topic mentioned above or other items we may face in the 2020 session, please don’t hesitate to call.  My cell number is still (912) 245-9915.  Thank you for the opportunity to represent you in the Georgia Senate.

41MjXZES9mL. AC UL320 ML3

December 18--  About seven to eight years ago, 84 year old attorney Duston Tapley, Jr. sat down and decided to write down various stories that chronicled his experiences and events that he has had as well as dealings with various people throughout the years, without ever really considering publishing, but publishing he did. 

Tapley is the author of the book Ruminations, a book that has stories that will make readers laugh and stories that will make people cry. Although his motivation was not to publish, readers have given him positive reviews. His book is available on Amazon and costs $10.00.

December 18-- On Sunday, December 15, 2019, at approximately 1:29 p.m., the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office requested the assistance of the Eastman GBI Office to assist with a death investigation.  When law enforcement arrived, two individuals identified as 36-year-old Tina Marie Austin of Eastman and 25-year-old Charlie Kiundre Barnes Jr. of Sandersville were discovered deceased outside of Eastman Healthcare and Rehab located at 556 Chester Highway in Eastman, Dodge County, Georgia.       

Autopsies were performed on Tuesday, December 17, 2019 at the GBI Crime Lab in Decatur.  Both individuals died as a result of gunshot wounds.  The investigation indicates Barnes shot and killed Austin. Barnes then committed suicide. The preliminary autopsy results are consistent with the investigative findings. Barnes and Austin were in a relationship as boyfriend and girlfriend.  Both Austin and Barnes were employees of Eastman Healthcare and Rehab; however, only Austin was working on the day of the incident.   

The investigation is active and ongoing.  If anyone has information, please contact the GBI Eastman office at 478-374-6988 or the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office at 478-559-1130.

Taser Training 2December 17--  On Monday, December 16th, 2019, Sheriff Doug Maybin hosted a multi-agency Taser Certification / Recertification Class. Officers from the Mount Vernon Police Department and the Toombs County and Jeff Davis County Sheriff’s Office joined the Montgomery County Deputies to renew their taser certifications. The training class is comprised of classroom instruction, practical exercises, written examinations and voluntary exposures. Toombs County Sheriff’s Office SGT Kevin Collins was the instructor.

Sheriff Maybin continues to be a strong proponent of continued officer training and is appreciative of the opportunity to join forces with other area agencies.

Vidalia Food Bank 2December 17-- For more than 150 years, Georgia Power employees have lived by the motto of being “A citizen wherever we serve.” This holiday season, company employees and members of the Citizens of Georgia Power volunteer chapters in Savannah, Brunswick, Hinesville, Statesboro and Vidalia are making Christmas a little brighter for their neighbors.

Citizens of Georgia Power in Savannah provide donation to Savannah Feed the Hungry

Employees from Georgia Power kicked off the holiday season by providing a sizeable donation to Savannah Feed the Hungry. The Citizens of Georgia volunteer chapter members used the last of their funds raised throughout the year to purchase food and toys for the non-profit.

After a trip to a local Sam’s Club, employees were able to purchase 16 turkeys, a variety of canned good, five playsets, basketballs and footballs for families in need this holiday season. Several volunteers plan to return to Savannah Feed the Hungry to help at their Christmas dinner on December 23rd.

Citizens of Georgia Power in Brunswick support families, senior citizens

The volunteer chapter in Brunswick has been busy this month supporting local families and elderly residents in Coastal Georgia. Last weekend, the Georgia Power employees completed their annual legacy project at Camden House in St. Mary’s. Volunteers and line crews built an outdoor seating area for parents to watch their children at the playground.

Employees also helped install LED lights at the nonprofit and stocked a commercial freezer. Funds for the project and donations were provided by the Georgia Power Foundation, the non-profit arm of the Georgia Power Company. Camden House is a family violence shelter that provides assistance for the community in Camden County.

Members of the Citizens of Georgia Power – Brunswick chapter also served at local nursing homes over the weekend, providing holiday snacks and games for residents and staff.

Citizens of Georgia Power in Hinesville create picnic area at Pembroke Elementary School

The volunteer chapter in Hinesville donated a set of new picnic tables to teachers and students at Pembroke Elementary School in Bryan County. Georgia Power employees helped set up the tables over the weekend that were purchased with a financial donation from the Georgia Power Foundation, the non-profit arm of the Georgia Power Company.

Citizens of Georgia Power in Statesboro sort canned goods for Bulloch County residents

Volunteers from Georgia Power’s Statesboro office gave their time at TMT Farms over the weekend. The Bulloch County holiday light display has over 10,000 visitors during the month of December and collects toys and canned goods for those in need. Members of the Citizens of Georgia Power chapter helped sort those donations.

Citizens of Georgia Power in Vidalia make large donation to local food bank, make the holidays brighter for local children

Georgia Power employees in Vidalia have been working hard this holiday season to give back to their local community. Earlier this week, members of the Citizens of Georgia Power local chapter volunteered at His Works Ministry Outreach & Food Bank in Lyons. The chapter provided a $3,500 donation to the company from the Georgia Power Foundation that went towards new shelving, a printer, a freezer and new signage. Employees and line crew helped install these items on Monday.

Additionally, the Vidalia chapter will be purchasing and donating 20 bicycles for underprivileged children in the area this Christmas.

About Citizens of Georgia Power

Citizens of Georgia Power is the employee volunteer arm of Georgia Power Company. With 42 chapters statewide and more than 3,400 members, consisting of employees and their spouses, volunteers contributed more than 143,000 hours equal to $3.5 million in 2018.

About Georgia Power

Georgia Power is the largest electric subsidiary of Southern Company (NYSE: SO), America's premier energy company. Value, Reliability, Customer Service and Stewardship are the cornerstones of the Company's promise to 2.6 million customers in all but four of Georgia's 159 counties. Committed to delivering clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy at rates below the national average, Georgia Power maintains a diverse, innovative generation mix that includes nuclear, coal and natural gas, as well as renewables such as solar, hydroelectric and wind. Georgia Power focuses on delivering world-class service to its customers every day and the Company is consistently recognized by J.D. Power and Associates as an industry leader in customer satisfaction. For more information, visit and connect with the Company on Facebook ( []), Twitter ( []) and Instagram ( []).

JD Dickerson SOMLeft to right: (Top row) Paisley Toler, Paizlei Beacham, Bailey Walker, Blayke Sasser, and Patrick Pearson; (Third row) Aisley Coursey, Madelyn Morris, Edie Whitaker, and Johnathan Behar; (Second row) Cameron Franklin, Landon Brownlee, Kaisley Phillips, and Major Fields; (First Row) Hudson Bell, Meya Allen, Ashanti Lane, and Marco Kyles; Not pictured: Solomon Johnson and Kamiah RansomDecember 17--  J. D. Dickerson Primary School would like to announce the Students of the Month for December. They were all dressed up in their Grinch Day-best today! Merry Christmas!

December 17-- Last week two rival schools came together for a friendly competition to help raise money for their respective booster clubs and help with blood donations in the process. The Vidalia Indian Booster Club and the Toombs County Booster Club had 66 units of blood donated as well as raised over $1,300 for their student athletes courtesy of McLendon Enterprises. McLendon donated $20 per blood donation to the respective booster clubs.

Biram Chapman, Blood Donor Account Manager for the American Red Cross was pleased with the response from the schools. “We had a great two days. Toombs County won the challenge 41 to 25 and we saved lots of lives and McLendon Enterprises stepped up and donated $20 per unit. Everyone had a wonderful time and we plan to make it an annual event,” said Chapman.

Chapman added, “McLendon donated $820 to the Toombs County Booster Club and $500 to the Vidalia Booster Club. Toombs County gets a trophy to hold on to and bragging rights for the next year. Someone in America needs blood every 2.5 seconds. Bottom line is it was a win-win for everyone involved but ultimately we saved lots of lives with this fun challenge.”

December 17--  Bikes for Kids is a non-profit charity that runs out of Toombs County and was started by five local leaders several years ago.  The volunteers reach out to teachers in elementary and middle schools in Vidalia and Toombs County Schools and they receive a list of kids in need. The charity then takes that list and puts together a number of presents including bicycles, helmets, Bible, t-shirts, hoodies, stuffed animals, and a variety of different toys.  The total product that is to be given out this year totals nearly $150,000 which means many kids in the area will have a Christmas that they might not otherwise would have had. According to one of the leaders of Bikes for Kids, local attorney Frank Smith, "we will be doing one final pack-up, wrapping the remainder of the presents this Saturday and if anyone wants to help out or donate, they can contact me at Smith Law Group."

December 16--  Toombs County Schools Recognizes Employees of the Month

Toombs County Employee of the MonthToombs County Special Education Director, Sabrina Woodruff, Debra Brantley Award Winner, Elaine Allen and Toombs County Middle School Principal, Dr. Renee GarbuttDebra Brantley Award for Special Education

Toombs County Schools Extra Mile WinnerMaria Collins pictured with Lyons Primary School Asst. Principal Reggie Roberts and Superintendent, Barry WallerToombs County Schools Extra Mile Award Winner (Certified Staff)

Toombs County Schools WOW winnerLyons Primary School Cafeteria Manager, Emma Rogers pictured with Toombs County School Nutrition Director, Courtney Gay, LPS Asst. Principal, Reggie Roberts and Superintendent, Barry WallerToombs County Schools WOW Award (Classified Staff)

December 16--  Vidalia Police Chief Brian Scott reports the following arrests.

Nichols, Nicholas Darren- B/M- 27 YOA- 703 Winona St. Vidalia, GA- Operating a Vehicle While Registration is
Suspended, Canceled or Revoked Possession Of Marijuana Less than 1 oz

Brown, Jacquita Anneequa-B/F-36(YOA)-518 Second Ave Vidalia, Ga-Acccident,Driving While License Suspended or Revoked 1st

Dixon, Elizabeth- B/F- 30 YOA- 1049 Arch Street, Soperton, GA- Theft by Conversion (State Warrant)

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Brandon David Spires, Lyons, Aggravated Assault, Criminal Damage to Property

Harley Daniel Davis, Lyons, Warrant Service

Jason Jacob Powell, Lyons, Give False Name, Address, Birthdate to Law Enforcement Officer, Warrant Service

William Stephens, Higgston, Give False Name, Address, Birthdate to Law Enforcement Officer

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Erika Barrow, Vidalia, Theft by Receiving Stolen Property

Magdaleno Estrada, Reidsville, Driving While Unlicensed, Speeding

Charles Glisson, Uvalda, Controlled Substance-Purchase, Possession, Manufacturing, Distribution, Sale, Disorderly Conduct

Cirano, Guerrero, Savannah, Driving While Unlicensed, Speeding

Santiago Lopez, Uvalda, DUI

Andrew Passailaigue, Baxley, Probation Violation-Misdemeanor

Tammie Reese, Vidalia, Burglary 1st Degree, Failure to Appear-Felony

Jimmy Sanders, Lyons, Methamphetamine-Purchase, Possession, Manufacturing, Distribution, Sale, Possession of Marijuana, Prescription Drugs must be in original container

Cassandra Stewart, Vidalia, Bench Warrant-Failure to Appear

Staci Williamson, Vidalia, Theft By Receiving Stolen Property

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

12/11-Penny Geanette Fountain, Tarrytown, Felony Probation Violation

12/11-Sabrina Wicker, Mt Vernon, Bondsman Off Bond

12/11-Bryant Jesse Knight, Broxton, Possession of Marijuana <1oz.

December 16--  Notice from the Governor's Office of Highway Safety

The Governor's Office of Highway Safety is joining state and local law enforcement in warning drivers to avoid the risk of going to jail during the holidays by making the right decision to not drink and drive.

Georgia is once again participating in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's annual Drive Sober Or Get Pulled Over campaign from December 13, 2019 through January 1, 2020.  With more than 100 million travelers expected to hit our nation's roads during Christmas and New Year's, Georgia law enforcement will be continuing their year-round zero tolerance policy during the Christmas holiday season by taking all impaired drivers to jail.  

"Consider this your warning because state troopers, sheriff's deputies and police officers are going to arrest all impaired drivers they find on the road," GOHS Director Allen Poole said. "If alcohol is going to be part of your holiday plans, please include a plan for a sober ride with a designated driver, ride-share service or cab before the party starts."

NHTSA data shows that 839 people lost their lives in traffic crashes involving a drunk driver during the month of December in 2018. During the Christmas and New Year’s Day holiday periods in 2018 alone, there were more drunk driving-related fatalities than during any other holiday period that year. Georgia's alcohol-impaired fatalities last year accounted for approximately 25 percent of all traffic fatalities statewide with 375. While that's better than the national average of 29 percent, that's still 375 too many.

GOHS focuses on impaired drivers during the holiday season, but they are also warning drivers who might never drive drunk that there are still things they can do to help get home safe.

"The holidays are a busy time with so many of us trying to get so much done in a short period of time, and we want to remind people to avoid rushing on the road by obeying the speed limit and complying with Georgia's hands-free law," Poole said.  "And always remember the best defense against a drunk, distracted, or speeding driver is a buckled seatbelt." 

AAA's "Tow-To-Go" program is another option for those who fail to plan ahead for a sober ride home. The service will once again offer free tows and rides up to 10 miles from Friday, December 20 until 6:00 a.m. on Thursday, January 2.  Those interested in the free ride can visit or call (855) 2-TOW-2-GO for more information.

GOHS also offers the following tips for partying with a plan this holiday season:

  • Remember that it is never okay to drink and drive. Even if you’ve had only one alcoholic beverage, designate a sober driver or plan to use public transportation or a ride service to get home safely.
  • If you're hosting holiday festivities, be sure to have non-alcoholic drinks available to encourage designated drivers and be prepared to take keys away from anyone who tries to leave after drinking and make arrangements for them to get home safely.
  • If you see a drunk driver on the road, call 9-1-1, *GSP or your local law enforcement agency.

December 16--  Notes From the Senate


November state revenues continued the very worrisome trend of flat/decreasing state revenues with a monthly total of -1.2%. So not only did the revenues not break even with last year, the total does not account for the increases in budget the state is presently operating under. In other words, revenues should be increasing at least $70 million per month just to meet the budget we are operating with.  
Right now, the state needs a couple of $300 gain months and another month of about $100 million ahead just to meet the present budget the state has passed. Last year, in the final 7 months, here is how they turned out:
Minus $102 million
Minus $314 million
Up $67 million
Up $108 million
Up $559 million
Up $1 million
Up $146 million
So what are the odds?
Within the revenue numbers, Individual Income Taxes for November were negative -$31.3 million or -3.4%. Corporate Income Taxes were also down, -$23.1 million.
About the only bright spot in the revenue report was Net Sales Taxes which regained some ground with a positive 6.9% gain for the month.
Title Ad Valorem Taxes continued a downward trend, coming in at -$14.7 million while tobacco taxes were negative -0.8%. Alcoholic Beverages were positive at 4.3%.
November Fuel Taxes/Fees were down $1.3 million or a little less than 1%. There is no logical explanation why these fees, which include Impact Fees and a $5 per night Hotel/Motel fee, should be negative.
It is really very simple...after five months, the state has not only not matched or increased revenue collections of the same period of a year ago, but revenues have actually lost ground to the tune of $33.5 million or -0.3%.   So far this fiscal year, the state has collected $9.62 billion but a year ago at this time, collections totaled $9.65 billion.
Because the state's budget is based on growth, the state needs to take in about $70 million more each month just to meet this growth and obviously, it has not done that. In plain english, the state is over $300 million under budget for this year so far. Each month that goes by, that difference grows if that month is not a positive month.
Of course none of us knows what the remaining months of the fiscal year will bring. We are hopeful the state will start a positive growth spurt and by the end of the Fiscal Year in June will have gained the $600 million plus that is needed to fund the FY 2020 budget.  
The Individual Income Tax category is down $44.4 million for the 5 month period so far or almost -1%. Corporate Income Taxes are also negative at -2.8%.
November's positive Sale Tax collections improved and now stand at a positive 2.1% YTD. Title Ad Valorem Taxes are down $50.2 million YTD while Tobacco Taxes are negative at minus 3.7%. Alcoholic Beverages are up 5.1%.
No one seems to have a reason why the Fuel Tax/Fees category would be negative after 5 months. Actually the Impact Fee portion is actually up almost 10% and the Hotel/Motel Fees are also slightly positive, up 3%. The main decrease in in Fuel Excise Taxes, based on consumption, which are down about 4 tenths of one percent.
Revenue growth through November:
Year to Date
12 month trailing average
West Virginia
Revenue growth through October:
Year to Date
12 month trailing average
South Carolina
We have run out of room this week, so we'll wait to explore what options may be available.

I may be reached at

234 State Capitol, Atlanta , GA 30334

(404) 656-5038 (phone)

(404) 657-7094 (fax)

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

Or Call Toll-Free at

1-800-367-3334 Day or Night

Reidsville office: (912) 557-3811

December 15-- Finding a proper way to dispose of scrap tires can be a issue for homeowners, businesses, and even county governments. Montgomery County has received a grant to help with that in the form of a tire amnesty event.

Montgomery County Manager Brandon Braddy said, “The Georgia Department of Natural Resources awarded Montgomery County a scrap tire abatement grant. We’ll have a scrap tire amnesty event that will begin on Monday, December 16th through Thursday, December 19th beginning at 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The public needs to follow certain rules about dropping off scrap tires. The tires must be free of debris and some commercial truck tires will be accepted. We certainly want the public to take advantage of this.”

Also, at the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners meeting, the board voted to renew the EMS contract for another three years. “The agreement is with the Toombs County Board of Commissioners and is for $212,467 to be renewed as of January 1, 2020. There will be an increase based on the consumer price index for medical services that will applied to that once we have that information,” said Braddy.

A bid to resurface Church Street was also passed. Braddy added, “The resurfacing of Church Street involves a portion of the City of Ailey, and another portion of that road will be in Montgomery County. The entire project was awarded to East Coast Asphalt for $93,170 with $25,168 being Montgomery County’s portion.”

December 12-- Sidewalks has been an issue for the City of Vidalia for some time now and finding a way to pay for them has been the biggest issue. Well the City of Vidalia just received a big Christmas gift in the form of a TAP Grant for $1,000,000.

Vidalia City Manager Nick Overstreet explained the grant on this week’s Vidalia Today radio show. “Back in January I first approached the council about a new concept that the Department of Transportation was coming out with called a TAP Grant. Out of our Heart of Georgia Altamaha Region, we were the only one to submit an application. The application is for installing sidewalks from Sally Meadows School all through Fifth and Third street area out to Highway 280, over to Green Street. The long and short of it is the City of Vidalia is receiving the grant for $1,000,000 with our portion being $200,000,” said Overstreet.

Overstreet added, “Every time I take my kids to Sally D. Meadows to school I see kids are walking in the street.” So why put the sidewalks there? Why not over here? Vidalia Finance Director Bill Bedingfield said, “You have to meet the criteria. The area has to meet a certain criteria. Getting those grants, you have to meet that. You can’t just say we’re going to put sidewalks out here in front of the radio station.”

Overstreet added, “But if you don’t apply, guess what, somebody else is going to get that money.”

December 11-- The trial of Antoine Miller concluded this week with the defendant being found guilty of all charges. Miller was charged in the shooting and robbery of Jonathan Lanier in October of 2018 when Miller robbed and shot Lanier while he was waiting for his wife to get off work at McDonald’s in Vidalia. Lanier’s children were waiting in the car with Lanier when the incident occurred.

Chief Assistant District Attorney Tripp Fitzner said, “It was an armed robbery, aggravated assault, and cruelty to children case that happened on October 12, 2018. Jonathan Lanier had been playing cards with Antoine Miller that day and Antoine had lost all his money to Lanier. After Lanier left Miller’s house and picked up his kids, he and his kids were waiting for his wife.”

Fitzner added, “The defendant shows up and gets in the car with Lanier and his children and asks for his money back and Lanier said no. Then he shoots Jonathan in the leg, gets the money from him and runs away. Miller is ultimately apprehended on November 9th, 2018 with the assistance of the United States Marshalls.”

On the sentencing of Miller, Fitzner stated, “On the armed robbery he got life with the possibility of parole. For the aggravated assault, he got 20 serve 10 consecutive to the life sentence. For the possession of a firearm by a convicted felon he got 5 years probated consecutive to the aggravated assault. And then for the three counts of cruelty to a child in the third degree he got 12 months to serve concurrent with count 2.”

Fitzner was pleased with the hard work of law enforcement. “I’m happy with the work that the Vidalia Police Department did. The investigator on the case, especially Chris Morgan, he did a fantastic job. It was an investigation that relied predominantly on eye witness testimony. If they hadn’t have done such a good job I know that we wouldn’t have gotten a conviction,” said Fitzner.

December 11-- As Christmas nears, the sound of bells ringing is commonplace, especially as you enter your favorite stores for shopping. Along with the bell is usually a warm smile and a red kettle which means the Salvation Army. The Salvation Army helps people with the basic necessities of life like food and shelter.

Sandy Roberts of the Salvation Army said, “We help year round with households that have things like a medical emergency or lost wages or household bills. We have a food pantry, clothing vouchers, a summer camp program, even a disaster vehicle but most people associate the Salvation Army with Christmas time, but we help year round.”

Roberts added, “The rest of our income for the year is from our thrift store sales. We have over 174 seniors signed up which we do gift cards for groceries and we have kids signed up for the Angel Tree. All the money we raise stays here in the community. The gift cards alone was over $8,000.”

“We need help with the bell ringing all the way up to Christmas Eve. We do it in two hour slots. You can get a friend and split it up to an hour each. It really helps us a lot by not having to pay bell ringers. Most other communities they have to pay the bell ringers but we’re blessed to have such a giving community that they volunteer their time to go out and do it. It’s a great thing to do with your family,” said Roberts.

If you would like to help, call the Salvation Army at 912-538-8203.

December 10-- On Tuesday afternoon, December 10, 2019, the City of Vidalia was contacted by Mr. David Liskey, of the Genesee & Wyoming Railroad, requesting that two railroad crossings in the City of Vidalia be closed while improvements are being made to the crossings.

The crossing at Highway 280 and McIntosh Street (GA 297) will be temporarily closed beginning on Thursday, December 12th through Saturday, December 14th. The crossing closing will create a need for traffic to find alternative routes to temporarily utilize. Citizens can use nearby crossings at Highway 280 and the intersections of Morris, Thompson, and Montgomery streets.

The crossing at Highway 280 and Rigsbee Drive will be temporarily closed beginning on Saturday, December 14th through Monday, December 16th. The crossing closing will create a need for traffic to use nearby crossings at Broadfoot Boulevard and NE Main Street or Highway 280 and Stockyard Road (located by the Vidalia Recreation Department).

If you have any further questions regarding the temporary closing of the railroad crossings, please contact City Hall at 912-537-8718.

December 10--  Vidalia Police Chief Brian Scott reports the following arrests.

Chester, Ottis Charles- B/M- 59 YOA- 700 North St. East
Vidalia, GA- Cruelty to Animals (State Warrant)

Harvey, Clarence- B/M- 35 YOA 218 Lucky St. Swainsboro,
GA- Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (Bench

Sanders, Jimmie Rex- W/M- 55 YOA- 379 Regency Road Vidalia, Ga.- Possession of Controlled Substsance, Possesion of Marijuana Less Than Oz, Controlled Substance not in Original Container

Arkwright, Theron Derek- B/M- 32 YOA- 805 E. 5th St. Vidalia, Ga.- Battery (FVA), Warrant Served (Chatham Co. Bench Warrant)

Brewton, Danielle Leona- B/F- 26 YOA- 404 Winona St. Vidalia, GA- Aggravated Assault, Reckless Conduct, Cruelty to Children, Criminal Damage to Property, Willfully Obstruction of Police Officer Simple/Verbal, Hit & Run, Property Damage or Injury- Fail to Stop, Leave Scene

Aaron, Curtis Robert- W/M- 33 YOA- 902 Fifth Ave Vidalia, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense

Atkins, Natasha Nicole-B/F-35 YOA- 706 Loop Rd.- Vidalia, GA –Disorderly Conduct/ Willfully Obstruction of Police Officer Severe/ Forceful

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Williams, Demetrium, Lyons, Criminal Damage to Property, Criminal Trespass

Merson, Donna M, Waycross, DUI Combination 1-3, Driving While Unlicensed, DUI-Less Safe Alcohol

McGraw, Ansley Claudette, Lyons, DUI-Less Safe Drugs, Possession of Marijuana less than ounce

Smith, Dillon, Lyons, DUI-Less Safe Drugs, Possession of Marijuana less than ounce, Seatbelt violation-18 and up

Lawson Alexandria Shambrell Monay, Vidalia, Criminal Warrant

Rogers, Jeffrey Eugene, Lyons, DUI-Less Safe Drugs, Possession of Methamphetamines, Possession of Drug Related Objects

Childs, Melissa Ann, Vidalia, Possession of Drug Related Objects

Kirkland, Mary Elizabeth, Lyons, Family Violence Provision Simple Battery

Paul, Alexander Emory, Alamo, Headlight Requirement, Tail Light and Tag Light Requirement, Driving While Unlicensed, Open Container, DUI-Less Safe Drugs

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Flagler, Clinton, Vidalia, Bench Warrant-Failure to Appear

Fletcher, Aldous, Lyons, Probation Violation-Felony Warrant

Harris, Jarvis, Atlanta, Probation Violation-Felony Warrant

Lawson, Aleandria, Statesboro, Out of County Hold, Probation Violation-Misdemeanor, Safety Belts, Child Passenger Restraining System, Penalty for Violation

Lewis, Jason, Hazlehurst, Out of County Hold

Martinez, Cecilio, Lyons, Driving While Unlicensed

McGraw, Ansley, Reidsville, Possession of Marijuana less than ounce, DUI-Marijuana

Music, John, Lyons, Driving While License Suspended or Revoked

O’Connor, Donald, Lyons, Simple Battery FVA

Rivas, Selina, Lyons, Possession of Marijuana less than ounce, Safety Belts, Child Passenger Restraining System, Penalty for Violation

Santoyo-Granados, Daniel, Vidalia, Driving While Unlicensed

Singleton, Tyrone, Vidalia, Driving While License Suspended or Revoked

Thomas, Shawn, Lyons, Federal Detainer for U. S. Marshall-Federal Warrant

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

11/29-Justin Allen Corouthers, Vidalia, Criminal Trespass-Misdemeanor (x5), Obstruction of Officer-Misdemeanor (x2), Theft by Taking-Misdemeanor (x2), Theft by Taking-Felony, Driving w/Suspended License

12/03-Shannon Derrick Wyche, Ailey, Deposit Account Fraud

12/06-Brian Todd Keyes, Vidalia, Battery, Battery (Family Violence)

December 9-- Keeping the streets safe in any town is a big task for local police departments. It takes manpower, resources, and of course money. Well the City of Lyons Police Department just received a big boost when they found out they received a grant for $20,000 from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker said “We received a grant from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety for twenty thousand dollars that will help us in purchasing equipment for traffic safety and enforcement and also training and expenses for training those officers on those issues as well. It’s based on the numbers that is sent into the state every year as far as the number of seat belt tickets, speeding tickets, DUI’s, etc.”

“We’ve already received part of the funds and equipment has been ordered. Some of it has come in and I’m sure the community has probably seen or heard that we did a concentrated patrol this past Thursday,” Walker added.

Chief Walker said, “We’re just thankful that we we’re awarded the grant and I think it has a lot to do with the enforcement numbers that the Lyons Police Department produces every year. We do that in order to make the streets of Lyons as safe as possible for the people of the community to travel on.”

Ben MitchellDecember 7--  Longtime Lyons City Council Member Ben Mitchell passed away on Friday.  He was serving in his 8th term as a city council member.  He also served as Mayor Pro-Tem.

Below is a press release from the City of Lyons.

December 9, 2019
From the office of Mayor Willis D. NeSmith Jr.,  and the Lyons City Council
We are shocked and grieving over the untimely death of Lyons Council Member Benjamin Mitchell on December 6, 2019. But one person’s feelings are secondary to the fact that all of Lyons and Toombs County has lost a great man and advocate for unity and community service.   
Benjamin Mitchell became a member of the Lyons City council in 1988.  During his tenure, he was outspoken regarding the safety of the community and unity among its council and the county.  He supported the Mayors and served many terms as Mayor Pro-Tem.  Never one to boast or grandstand, Councilman Mitchell was a steadfast voice for Lyons and the surrounding community.
Councilman Benjamin Mitchell was an active member of St. Luke AME Church and served there in many roles.  Councilman Mitchell also served in the United States Military and was a Vietnam Veteran.  Councilman Mitchell captured the essence of being a public servant. Our heart goes out to his family, friends, colleagues and all city residents.  The council and I urge everyone to honor his memory by serving in your community, in a civic organization, a church or your neighborhood.
Councilman Mitchells arrangements are as follows:
 The Family will receive friends at Vidalia Funeral Home on Friday, December 13th, from 6:30 to 8:00 pm.
 Funeral Service will be Saturday, December 14th at 11:00 am at St. Luke AME Church, located at 327 E. Columbia Ave, Lyons GA  30436.  

December 7--  Notes from Senator Jack Hill


By now most everyone has read of the plight of many rural hospitals. Georgia's Rural Hospital Tax Credit was passed in 2016 to encourage Georgians and corporations who owe state income tax to direct some or all of their state tax obligation towards rural hospitals either by direction to a local qualifying hospital or one of those listed as being in need.


According to a report published by the Southern Legislative Conference, of the 6210 hospitals in the U.S. in 2017, 2250 of those were classified as rural or generally served populations of less than 50,000. This report observed that the average rural hospital showed 56% of revenues coming from two federal reimbursement programs (Medicare & Medicaid). In 2017, that rate was twice as high as in the previous five years.

Southern states had approximately 831 of those rural hospitals and almost 10% of those have closed since January, 2010. In fact, in the South, 27.8% of rural hospitals are considered to be at high financial risk. Alabama had the highest number of hospitals at high financial risk at 50% while Georgia was at 41.3%. Georgia was third highest in the South.


Poverty is one of the indicators of an area where a rural hospital will struggle to survive.   Almost certainly, those hospitals will serve a higher percentage of Medicare and Medicaid patients and a lower percentage of patients with private insurance. Both programs reimburse rural hospitals less than the cost of the services provided.

Uncompensated Care or those services provided to those who cannot pay, called Uncompensated Care, runs into a lot of money. Nationally, Uncompensated Care totaled $619.6 billion in 2017.

Rural hospitals also have difficulty hiring medical professionals and attracting physicians. Larger hospitals have hired many physicians and specialists like hospitalists who free doctors for more regular working hours. This is an advantage for larger hospitals and a quality of life issue for physicians.


Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan was the original author of the underlying bill which provided $60 million in state income tax credits which could be directed to qualifying rural hospitals.  In FY 2018, eligible hospitals reported receiving $59.5 million of donations funded through this tax credit and expended $50.7 million.

The Department of Revenue publishes a list each year of qualifying rural hospitals ranked by need. A taxpayer can dedicate their tax contribution to a specific hospital or choose from the ranked list. Hospitals are limited to $4 million in contributions.


The criteria to qualify as an economically vulnerable rural hospital include:

            --Must be operated by an authority or be non-profit

            --Must be located in a rural county

            --Must accept Medicare and Medicaid patients

            --Must provide amount equal to at least 10% of hospital revenue in Uncompensated Care

            --Must develop a five year plan to expend the contributions


As of Oct. 31, 2019, receipts for Fourth District qualifying rural hospitals show:

Candler County Hospital


Effingham Health Systems


Emanuel Medical Center


Evans Memorial Hospital           



In 2018, the Fourth District qualifying rural hospitals spent the following amounts of contributions for the following purposes:

Candler County Hospital

$764,000 on nurse and physician retention and recruitment

Effingham Health Systems

$679,000 on surgery patient room renovations, monitoring technology and improvements to the Cancer Care Center

Emanuel Hospital

$520,000 on equipment upgrades, replacing an outdated imaging unit, reducing accounts payable and staff retention

Evans Memorial

$902,000 to purchase new radiology equipment and building upgrades, reducing accounts payable and staff retention

As of October 31, 2019, only $36.2 million of the potential total of $60 million in tax credits had been pre-approved. So anyone who is interested in making a contribution of state taxes to rural hospitals can still do so.

For more details, contact DOR or the local hospital. Contact numbers are provided below:


Candler County Hospital

Marty Ray- Director of Public Relations

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


Evans Memorial

Lisa Ryles- Director of Public Relations

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


Effingham Health Systems

(912) 754-6451

Emanuel Hospital

Carmen Tanner- Public Relations


I may be reached at

234 State Capitol, Atlanta , GA 30334

(404) 656-5038 (phone)

(404) 657-7094 (fax)

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

Or Call Toll-Free at

1-800-367-3334 Day or Night

Reidsville office: (912) 557-3811

December 5-- As 2019 comes to a close, it brings good news to the City of Vidalia in the form of higher sales tax collections than in the past. City of Vidalia Finance Director Bill Bedingfield is excited about the trend.

“What we’re seeing is some of the results of the legislature passing some bills that are getting these online retailers to pay tax in Toombs County. Georgia is a point of delivery state, being that when an item is delivered here that’s where the taxes should be paid. We’re beginning to see that and it’s been exciting,” said Bedingfield.

Bedingfield added, “SPLOST for example has been fantastic. For example our latest month versus last year is up 15%, and up 8.9% year to date.” With the holiday season coming up Bedingfield expects that to continue. “Did you see Cyber Monday’s numbers? 6.2 billion. If they’re charging the sales tax correctly and paying to the local counties then we should see a tremendous boost. And we see a boost normally from just local shoppers. We hope people are shopping locally but those that do shop online should be getting those funds back into our city,” said Bedingfield.

SPLOST collections are not the only revenues that are up. “TSPLOST is up too. It’s a one percent tax based with the distribution based on the number of miles of roads you have in your city. Hotel/motel continues to grow also. We’ve had some tremendous growth in that tax. All in all, just good news for Vidalia,” stated Bedingfield.

December 4-- As we get closer to the holiday season, one thing that sometimes gets forgotten is the need for blood. With traveling and accidents up and the blood donations down due to the busy holiday season, it’s more important than ever to give blood.

Biram Chapman of the American Red Cross has come up with a great idea to help out. “During summertime, Thanksgiving break, Christmas break, any of those times, the blood drives just drop off because we’re not able to have the drives at the schools. It’s very important during any major holiday to give blood.”

Chapman added, “We’ve got a blood drive coming up next week, the Battle of the Booster clubs. We’ll be at Vidalia High School on Tuesday, December 10th and Toombs County High School on Thursday, December 12th from 1 – 6 PM each day. Whoever gets the most donors to come in gets a trophy and we hope to make this an annual event.”

“McLendon Enterprises is the sponsor for this and has agreed to donate $20 for every unit of blood given to each of the respective booster clubs. The donor will specify when they give blood which school to make the donation,” added Chapman.

Vidalia Booster Club President Darren McLellan said, “Biram approached us about this and I thought it was a great idea. The winners are those who receive the blood.”

Toombs County Booster Club President Bill Benton said, “The beautiful thing about the boosters is it’s going to touch every kid in every sport, it’s not specifically for one group. It’s huge.”

You don’t have to give at your school; you can give at either school. “Vidalia can donate at Toombs and Toombs can donate at Vidalia so if you can’t make it on that particular day it’s ok,” said Chapman.

Mammography photoDecember 3--  Meadows Regional Medical Center has announced that is the first facility in Georgia to offer GE’s 3D stereotactic biopsy technology that will both increase the capacity for early cancer detection and provide patients with access to enhanced breast imaging services closer to home.

The 3D-guided breast stereotactic biopsy is a minimally invasive procedure that uses mammographic imaging techniques to gather tissue samples from a breast abnormality. The 3D biopsy software is utilized to precisely target and sample asymmetries, masses, architectural distortions, and calcifications in the breast especially those that were best (or only) seen on 3D. The biopsy software also reduces the number of images taken from 12 to four, therefore reducing the amount of radiation the patient receives and the time the patient is in compression. The procedure can be used, in some instances, as an alternative to more invasive surgical biopsies. The good news is that around 70% of breast biopsies are benign. If there is a potential problem, early detection is essential and increases treatment options and the likelihood of successful recovery.

“We are very excited to be the first facility in Georgia to have GE’s 3D-guied stereotactic breast biopsy capabilities,” said Tracey Kennedy, Meadows Regional Medical Center Director of Radiology. “We’re also only one in five facilities in the United States to purchase and receive the GE Pristina 3D biopsy software. The performance and image quality of this system is exceptional. The efficiency of the system features ease of operation, and the ability to visualize fine calcifications and find lesions only seen on 3D. Our mammography technologists say it is the “Cadillac” of stereotactic systems.”

Meadows Regional Medical Center, located at One Meadows Parkway, Vidalia, has been using the GE Pristina 3D biopsy software since October 2019.

For more information about the new technology or to schedule a mammogram today, call Meadows Health Scheduling at 912.535.5679.

December 3-- The Toombs County Commission voted to approve the Inter-Governmental Agreement and Memorandum of Understanding for the continuation of the 1% Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) which expires on December 31, 2020 during their called meeting Monday night.

Toombs County Manager John Jones said, “The 1% SPLOST is basically a tax that allows local governments to buy capital items. It cannot be used for operating expenses. It cannot be used for salaries or anything like that. It can only be used for capital purchases that are identified in the referendum. This is just a referendum to continue that 1% sales tax.”

Jones added, “Fortunately in our community, we are a regional retail hub and so a lot of the sales tax we collect are from citizens outside our county helping to pay for our capital improvements.”

The funds received from the SPLOST are divided between the cities of Vidalia, Lyons, and Santa Claus, along with Toombs County. The percentages that each receive will change slightly from the last SPLOST. “As you know we’re fixing to build a courthouse and expansion to the jail and the plan is to pay for it through sales tax so those percentages have been renegotiated,” said Jones. He added, “the county will get more than it had previously gotten to go directly toward paying for the courthouse and jail expansion.”

“The City of Vidalia will receive 31.72 percent, the City of Lyons will receive 11.98 percent, the City of Santa Clause will receive .65 percent, and Toombs County will receive 55.65 percent,” said Jones.


December 3--  Vidalia Police Chief Brian Scott reports the following arrests.

Stokes, Reginald- B/M- 64 YOA- 610 Second Ave Vidalia, GA- Criminal Trespass

Adams, Willie William- B/M- 48 YOA- 350 B Arena Rd. Perry, GA- Identity Theft

Raburn, Emma Leigh- W/F- 20 YOA- 124 Bethlehem Church Rd. East Dublin, Ga.- Warrant Service (Treutlen County S.O.-

Mathews, Brittany Sierra- W/F- 27 YOA- 141 Arrow Trail, Lyons, Ga.- Warrant Served (Vidalia Probation), Driving
While License Susp/Revoked (1st Offense)

Arnold, Matthew Brian- W/M- 34 YOA- 914 Clyde Blvd, Ga.-Public Drunkenness, Indecent Exposure

Galbreath, John Edward Jr. - W/M- 37 YOA- 931 S. State St. Lot D1 Lyons, GA- No Drivers License 

Gonzales, Marcus T. -B/M- 21 YOA- 303 Poe St. Vidalia, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense/Willfully Obstruction of Police Officer Severe/Forceful

Holloway, Moses- B/M- 57 YOA- 603 Martin Luther King Ave Vidalia, GA- Terroristic Threats

Young, James Albert- B/M- 26 YOA- 209 Epstein St. Vidalia, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense

Towler, Carolyn Denise- B/F- 54 YOA- 1901 Nina St. Apt 613A, Columbus, Ga.- Warrant Served for Columbus Ga Roberts,

Shonda Latrell- B/F- 47 YOA- 2105 Gabbies’s Run Statesboro, Ga.- Driving With Expired Tag, No Insurance (1st)- Driving While License Suspended Or Revoked (1st)

Summerset, Brandon Donnell- B/M- 35 YOA- 1805 Edwina Dr. Apt 35, Vidalia, Ga.- Aggravated Assault (FVA)

Mulling, Levi Blake- W/M- 26 YOA- 380 Dasher St. Lyons, Ga.- Aggravated Assault

Joseph, Ji-yone Kair- B/M- 17 YOA- 301 E. Jenkins St. Vidalia, GA- Possession of Marijuana Less Than Ounce, Possession of Methamphetamines, No Driver’s License (Bench Warrant)

White, Angela Yvonne- B/F- 35 YOA- 507 S. Broadfoot Blvd. Vidalia, GA- Criminal Trespass, Willfully Obstruction of Police Officer Simple/ Verbal  

Celeo, Lemus Alcidez- H/M- 27 YOA- 64 Red Oak Lane Hazlehurst, GA- No Drivers License Powell, Jatwinder Syrita- B/F- 37 YOA- 1234 Susan Way Vidalia, GA- Warrant Served (Dodge County SO- Bench)

Sanders, Jamie Vachon Jr. - B/M- 19 YOA- 800 NE Main St. Vidalia, GA- Armed Robbery, Aggravated Assault

Marshall, Alesia Vantalice- B/F- 30 YOA- 212 Patrick St. Vidalia, GA- Harassing Phone Calls

Gonzalez, Marcus Taejon- B/M- 21 YOA- 1908 N. Maple Dr. Vidalia, GA- Possession of Marijuana Less Than Ounce

Music, John Adam- W/M- 41 YOA- 444 Reedy Creek Cir. Lyons, GA- Theft by Taking, DUI- 3rd Offense, Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (Second)

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Jimmy Williams, Baxley, DUI, failure to maintain lane, driving while unlicensed

James Edward Oglesby, Lyons, DUI, failure to maintain lane, open container

Amanda Kimberly Forbes, Lyons, Driving while license suspended or revoked

Marianne Burk Harden, Lyons, DUI, tail light tag light requirements

Erica Yala Castillo, Lyons, Furnish/acquire alcohol to/for minors

Michael Dylan Conner, Lyons, Underage Possession/purchase/consumption of alcohol

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Martonia Cephus, Lyons, Driving while license suspended/revoked, speeding

Jose Gonzales, Lyons, Driving while unlicensed

Ronnie Hulett, Glenwood, Hold for Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office

Maciel Lopez, Jacksonville, FL, speeding, driving while unlicensed, failure to maintain lane

Nathan Monds, Vidalia, Parole violation

Jonathan Morris, Lyons, Probation violation-felony

Jesus Ortiz, Lyons, driving while license suspended/revoked, windshield and windshield wipers, possession of marijuana less than 1 ounce, DUI

Jatwinder Powell, Vidalia, Hold for Dodge County Sheriff’s Office

Danny Webb, Lyons, Probation violation-felony

Warren Williams, Kite, Parole violation, open container

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

11/28-Lucky Benhur Huyng, Covington, Warrant Served for Forsyth County

11/30-Kiandra A. Geiger, Claxton, Felony Theft by Deception

Board Certified Chris Hopkins newsL-R) STC Board Member Chris Hopkins and STC President Larry CalhounDecember 3-- Chris Hopkins of Toombs County was recently awarded Board Certification from the Technical College Directors Association of Georgia (TCDA).

In order to become TCDA certified, a local board member must complete four required workshops, one elective workshop, two required activities, and eight selected activities which educate board members on various topics that they will hear about and deal with concerning Southeastern Technical College (STC). The workshops also inform board members of state and local guidelines that affect the college.

The required and selected activities allow the board members the opportunity to learn about community advocacy, budgeting and financial management, as well as much more in relation to the operations of technical colleges on both state and local levels.

The majority of the required workshops are taught at a TCDA Leadership Conference each year. The board members then receive their certification at the awards dinner, held during a Leadership Conference, once all of the requirements are officially completed.

The STC Board of Directors meets at least eight times per year to discuss topics related to STC. Board members serve a three-year term and can serve two additional three-year terms, for a maximum of nine years before retiring from the local board.

The TCDA Leadership Conference was held October 28-30 in Savannah, Georgia, in conjunction with the Technical College Foundation Association (TCFA). STC was also recognized as having 100% board certification at this year’s Leadership Conference.

For further information on STC, visit or call (912) 538-3100 (Vidalia) or (478) 289-2200 (Swainsboro).

December 2-- The November term of the Toombs County grand jury returned 40 True Bill indictments.

Drug-Related Indictments

Tasha Michelle Henrick for possession of methamphetamine, DUI

Tiffany Marie Taylor for possession of pregabalin

Andre Govan for possession of methamphetamine

David Allen Dees for possession of methamphetamine

Emory Coy Kirkland for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute

Donnie Edmund for possession of cocaine

Emerry Brook Bailey for possession of cocaine

Diane Williams for possession of cocain

Tracy Lee Foreman for trafficking meth and possession of a firearm during commission of a felony

Marques DeQuan Harris for aggravated assault and possession of meth

Indicted for other alleged crimes are:

Euduen Tatanish Polke for aggravated assault

Billy Joe Courson for aggravated assault

Charles Edward Cowart for aggravated assault 2 counts

Thomas James Drew for aggravated assault 2 counts

Shuconda Tinsley for Medicaid fraud, false statements and writings

Cavarus Jackson for involuntary manslaughter

Michael Kaleb Giles for first degree battery

Ira Mitchell Aaron for first degree burglary

Jessica Nicole Brown for first degree burglary

Miranda Irene Wilson for first degree burglary

James Lamar Taylor for first degree burglary 2 counts

Christopher Conte Tooke for aggravated cruelty to animals

Daniel Thomas Roundtree, Jr. for theft by taking

Brandon K. Green for theft by taking 2 counts

Loren Lewis Evans for theft by taking

Shontavia Lamar White for obstruction of an officer

April Dawn Lynn for incest 2 counts and aggravated sodomy 2 counts

Terry Lee McCoy for aggravated assault and terroristic threats

James Kenneth Luke for aggravated battery, aggravated assault, battery

Channing Chapman for fleeing and attempting to elude

Roberto R. Hernandez for rape, enticing a child for indecent purposes, child molestation

Kenneth Bradley Clifton for criminal damage to property

Kent Clifton for criminal damage to property

Tyreece Anthony Smith for entering an automobile

Davlares Dewayne Lattimore for entering an automobile

Benjamin Tyler Simpson for aggravated assault and battery

Mary Youmans for public assistance fraud

Joshua Payne Tanner for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon

Savalas Montrell Harden for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon

Sheree Ann Sikes for cruelty to person 65 years of age and older

Kenneth Wayne Clay for failure to register as a sex offender, violation of sex offender registry conditions

Billy Benard Hendley for riot in penal institution