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February 28-- A local bank is alerting residents to a scam which has already cost one its customers $1,800.

Freddy Thompson explains that a Vidalia Federal customer got a call from someone claiming to be with Microsoft and offering an anti-virus upgrade with a $200 refund.

“Once they gave her access to the computer, she had to sign-on to her online banking account so they could get information to make a deposit to her account. She said her screen filled up with all these updates, but what they were doing in the background was transferring money from one of her checking accounts to the other checking account in the amount of $2,000. They came back on the phone and said they made a mistake doing the $200 refund and accidentally sent her $2,000. She pulled that checking account up and saw the $2,000 deposit and thought that’s what really happened not knowing they had transferred money from one account to the other account.

“She said, ‘just pull it back” and they said they couldn’t but told her to go to Walmart and get some Google gift cards because Microsoft owns Google and that way they could get the money immediately. So she bought the gift cards and they called back and got all the card information and basically defrauded her of $1,800,” Thompson said.

“We have also had other people who have had messages left on their machines saying they were somebody from Microsoft doing an anti-virus upgrade and offering a refund, so it’s not just this one person,” and Thompson advises, “You should never accept a phone call when they’re asking to get access to your computer or your online banking. You should always be the person who initiates the call and if you have any doubts you should go and look the number up yourself, don’t trust their callback numbers. Hang up the phone, look up the number of the company and contact them that way so you’re the person initiating the call.”

February 27--  It took a Toombs County jury less than an hour to return a verdict Wednesday morning in the trial of a man who beat a Vidalia woman to death nearly two years ago.

ajonesIn the trial that started Monday, prosecutors produced evidence and witnesses detailing how Alpherd Jones, Jr. beat Lashawnda January in a room at the Royal Inn in Vidalia on May 4, 2017 in an attack witnessed by the woman's seven-year-old son.  Jones called 911 to the room and told police she had fallen in the shower and later in the motel room after throwing up blood in the bathroom.  She was moved from Meadows Regional to Memorial in Savannah where police were told she was brain dead, had six broken ribs and facial injuries.

At the time, policed said Jones had previously been jailed in Virginia for beating a woman there.

According to Chief Assistant District Attorney Tripp Fitzner, the jury found Jones guilty of felony murder and aggravated battery.

Superior Court Judge Robert Reeves sentenced him to life in prison without parole.

Before her death, January had been at the Refuge Domestic Violence Shelter in Toombs County and Director Betty Dell Williams was at the trial.

She related how the dead woman's sister read excerpts from January's journal expressing her fears about the relationship with Jones.  Also, a tape that the woman's son made with Sunshine House counselors detailed what the boy saw Jones do to his mother was shown to the jury. 

She says the woman's death is a message to all women, "I just have to think Lashawnda knew the red flags, she had learned the red flags and she knew she had to get out of the situation.  What I would say to women is come to our support groups, call us and let's go over safety plans and what the red flags are in a relationship.  If you do see these red flags, you need to get out of the relationship because your life is more important than your relationship with this man who is going to abuse you and even abuse your children and ultimately lead to death."

February 26-- It was a big night serving "SPAY-GHETTI" Tuesday night at the Vidalia Community Center as the Sweet Onion Animal Protection Society (SOAPS) held its 10th annual dinner to raise money to save stray dogs and cats in the area.

soapsvolsFriends of SOAPS worked in the kitchen packing plates and out front serving plates of "Spay-Ghetti" and salad.

According to SOAPS leader Therisa Ingley, 2018 was the third year in a row SOAPS placed more than 1,700 animals with rescue groups, "It is very difficult to continue what we do because there are more and more animals.  People, surprisingly, even though we offer a great price, don't get their animals spayed and neutered.  There's more work for us to do because there are more animals to spay and neuter and there are more animals to place.  Money is always a critical issue because the population of animals continues to grow.  It's like we take two and put in the bucket and six more come flowing along, so it's very difficult."

Also in 2018, SOAPS got more than 700 animals spayed and neutered and Ingley urges animal owners to get that done when they get a new pet, "As soon as they're old enough, usually about four to six months, they need to plan on having their animal sterilized so there are not more puppies and kittens. In the long run, it improves the health of the animal.  As far as I know from experience and from reading, there are no negative benefits to sterilization, there are all positive benefits. It helps prevent certain cancers and helps prevent roaming behavior where animals get in fights and get hurt.  There are no negatives, it's all positive," Ingley said.

SOAPS is in its 21st year of operation and Ingley is happy the recent puppy factory fiasco in Higgston has been resolved, "It breaks your heart because we know that is not an isolated case.  That is going on in many places in this area because there are so many backyard breeders.  I don't think it's my place to judge them and I'm not going to do that, but I do appreciate the people who stepped in and finally got something done."

February 25-- Street and gang crime continue to plague our area and four area pastors address the issue this week on the local radio program “Straight Talk With Wilson Johnson.”

Discussing a spiritual alternative in addressing the problem will be Reverend Willie Edwards, Jr. from the New Vision Baptist Church, Reverend H.W. Miller of the Mount Zion Baptist Church, Reverend Carl Wardlaw of the First African Baptist Church and Reverend Ronald Miller of St. Paul A.M.E. Church.

The program will be heard Thursday morning, February 28 at 8:05 a.m. on NewsTalk WVOP, AM 970 and FM 105.3 and streaming on the web at

You may call the program with questions or comments at 912-537-9202.

February 26--  Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits reports the following arrests.

Mackey, Terrell Dejon – B/M – 25 YOA -321 Jerrell St Vidalia,Ga / Giving False Information/ Suspended License/NoTag/No Insurance

Yates, Timothy Joseph W/M 45 YOA / 22865 GA Highway 121 S Metter, GA Drivng While License Suspended 1ST Offense (Misd) / Suspended Registration (Misd)

Mann, Michael Mitchell – B/M – 65 YOA – 211 Victoria Cir. Vidalia, Ga / Theft by Shoplifting

Shaw, Leann Nicole /WF 32 YOA / 211 W Pine St Vidalia, GA/Theft By Shoplifting 3Rd Offense (Misd) / Warrant Service (Bench Warrant Toombs Co)

Neesmith, Stacey Denise / W/F-35 YOA / 191 Bonnie Rd Lyons, GA (Probation Warrant Toombs Co)

Hinojosa, Leonardo / W/M-27 YOA /179 Bobby WilliamsonRd Lyons, Ga /Possession of Marijuana Less Than Ounce(Misd)

Davis, Zeary Devontae / BM 25 YOA/ 220 Peggy St Uvalda,GA / Murder (Fel) /Aggravated Assault (Fel) / AggravatedBattery (Fel)

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Christopher Boyles, No insurance, no tag, operating vehicle with suspended registration, driving without license on person

Kahyte Blalock, Green Cove Springs, Florida, DUI, failure to maintain lane

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

John Hamilton, Vidalia, failure to appear

Roderick Harvey, Vidalia, probation violation

Kristy Ivory, Surrency, theft by taking

Joshua Jacobs, Lyons,probation violation

James and Jeanette Edwards, Lyons, cruelty to animals

Teleshia Stovall, Vidalia, theft by conversion

Charles Willis, Jr., Vidalia, battery, probation violation

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

02/18-Jekori Antonio Mills, Soperton, Driving w/Suspended License, Obstruction of Officer

02/20-Victoria Ann Oliver, Vidalia, Felony Probation Violation

02/21-Raphael Dashon Holloway, Metter, Felony Probation Violation

02/23-Trevor Grimes, Uvalda, Items Prohibited for Possession by Inmates, Violation of Oath of Public Office

02/23-Michale Paul Dees, Mt. Vernon, Transmission of Photography or Video Depicting Nudity or Sexually Explicit Conduct of an Adult, DUI/Child Endangerment

02/24-Samuel Lewis Martin, Metter, Arson-2nd, Cruelty to Animals-1st (2 counts)

(This is the third in our series of stories regarding this year's Teen Maze in Toombs County)

February 25--  It's tough to get a message through to young teenagers who are influenced more by pop culture and peer pressure than by the realities of drug and alcohol abuse.

Jamie Wardlaw, a counselor with the Department of Community Supervision, knew it was a tough sell when he addressed 8th graders as part of the Teen Maze sponsored by Toombs County Family Connections and the Southeast Georgia Health District.

"We have social media and the main stream media today making kids feel as though, if they don't do certain things, if you're not using drugs, if you're not using alcohol, then you're really not cool, you really don't have it going on.  The peer pressure is one of the things that is really causing a lot of kids to turn to drugs and alcohol, just to fit it, to be accepted and be one of the in-crowd.  What we are doing today is to let them know that using drugs and alcohol is not what's in, crack is whack!"

Wardlaw sees people everyday who's lives have been turned upside down by drugs and alcohol.  He hopes the kids in the Teen Maze will hear and take to heart his warning, "If they engage in behavior where they're using drugs and alcohol, that could lead to a life of crime and ultimately to where the big boys play down at the felony probation office.  They could lose their whole life.  We see this everyday where people are being sentenced to an alarming amount of time just by using drugs and alcohol.

"I'm hoping that even though they can't see the serious of the legal consequences that come with it, today if can reach just one of them and let them know they could lose their freedom and understand the seriousness of their actions, then I think it's all worth it," Wardlaw said. 

February 25--  The Georgia Power Company presents a $2,000 check to Vidalia High School to support the school's Robotics Program. 

robotics(L-R) Georgia Power area manager Greg Hudgens, Georgia Power Key Account Manager Julie Southall, Robotics Faculty Sponsor Kevin Head and VHS High School Principal John Sharpe.

According to Greg Hudgens, the contribution is part of Georgia Power's effort to support STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs in the school system.

February 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. 

lyonslionsstudfeb19 For the month of January the award was presented to Zaida Maldonado of Toombs County High School. 

(Left to Right):  Lion Barry Waller (Toombs County School Superintendent),  Nicki Balcziunas (TCHS Teacher), Zaida Maldonado (TCHS Student of the Month), Christy Smesny (TCHS Counselor) and Marissa Morris (TCHS Principal). 

February 25--  "Ruben" is an eight-month old Lab-mix at the Vidalia Animal Shelter who needs a forever home. 

rubenFor information on Ruben or the other pets, contact April Braddy at the Vidalia Animal Shelter on Airport Road, 537-8866. (Notice courtesy of Altamaha Animal Clinic)

markwardlawFebruary 25--  Marc Wardlaw (left) holding his poster of Black Colleges & Universities in the US and Konner Owens with his poster of Famous African-Americans.

These posters were made by the students as part of the recognition of Black History Month at Vidalia High School.  

By State Representative Greg Morris

The 2019 Session passed the mid way point last week. Day 27 is fast approaching , and will be the last day a bill can pass from the House to the Senate in its current form. These are a few important bills on the bubble.

Tax Cut/H.R.306. Last year the Legislature passed H.B. 918 that cut the income rate from 6% to 5.75%. H.R.306 would further cut the income tax rate to 5.5% as promised. This is an across the board tax cut for all personal and corporate taxes. All bills that deal with revenue must be introduced in the House by the 20th day of the Session by the way.

Voting Machines/H.B.316. This bill would switch Georgias voting system to a touch screen voting machine that produces computer printed paper ballots passed the House Governmental Affairs Committee last week. H.B.316 is very important since it will change the way all 7 million Georgia voters cast ballots. Its not cheap either , costing around 150 million. With these voting machines , you would still use a touch screen computer to vote , but a copy of the ballot would be produced on paper . Support and opposition to the bill is split along party lines and is very contentious.

Certificate of Need. This is the decades old law that requires applicants hoping to build new heath –care facilities to prove the need for the project in the community . This is basically a fight between public hospitals and owners of single and multi-specialty health centers. This fight was going on when I was elected in 1998. The supporters of repeal say access and quality of health care will increase, particularly in rural areas. Repeal would limit the licensing process to 60 days, while now it usually takes a year and a half. Opponents of repeal say it would give specialty medical centers an unfair advantage because the hospitals are required to treat everyone, not just paying patients. Non-profit hospitals also point out that they provide money losing emergency –room and obstetrics services. Opponents say repeal would siphon off imaging and outpatient surgery patients from community hospitals causing more to close. About every high level lobbyist in the Capitol has been hired to represent one side or the other . What makes this different though is the support of high ranking House members for repeal of CON such as Majority Caucus Chair Matt Hatchett and Appropriations Chair Terry England. This issue has the potential to effect more lives of everyday Georgians than any we will vote on.

(This is the second in a series of stories based on this year's Teen Maze in Toombs County)

February 25--  There's an old adage that says the older you get, the smarter your parents get!  That's the message a resident of the Paul Anderson Youth home had for eighth graders in this year's Teen Maze organized by Toombs Family Connections and the Southeast Georgia Health District.

"I just want them to realize that the small decisions they make can impact their whole life," and he feels coming from someone who's now trying to turn his life around, maybe the kids will listen, "I'm just a little bit older than them, I'm only 18 and I've been exactly where they are.  They think they're superman and that they're not going to listen to their parents at this point in their life.  I was exactly the same way, but I feel like if they can hear it from a different perspective, from someone who's nearer their age, they might be able to get it a little bit better," he said.

From the perspective of this resident of the Youth Home, wrong decisions can ruin your life, "It starts with just one small decision.  My biggest thing was, I'm just going to try drinking just one time.  I'm gonna try smoking weed just one time because they say it won't really affect you, but it's addictive and it takes over your whole body.  Just skipping school one time can lead to one big thing to where you get into a habit of it and it drags you into a hole you can't get out of."

mazecasketVidalia First Baptist Church Youth Minister Scott Morrison discusses the consequences of poor decisions with Teen Maze participants from Toombs County Middle School.

In the front of the classroom where this discussion took place was a casket, something young people don't relate to, but that's where one of our speaker's friends ended up as a high school student, "We were at a party one night and they thought it would be a good idea to leave and go to a different party.  The last thing I told Ely was to be safe. He's not here today to tell his story and that's hard for me.  That's not something a friend or parent should have to do, but I"m here today to tell his story and I hope they can apply it to their lives because it's true and it happens every single day."

February 24-- U.S. Congressman Rick W. Allen (R-Ga-12) announced today that his staff will be holding Community Office Hours across the 12th district during the month of March.

These office hours offer the opportunity for constituents to receive personal assistance from Congressman Allen’s office in their local communities. There will be no formal presentation nor will Congressman Allen be in attendance. The office hours are about one-on-one visits between staff and Georgia-12 constituents. Staff will be available to assist with a number of federal issues, including problems with federal agencies, such as Social Security, Veterans Affairs, Medicare, and others.

“Constituent service has always been a top priority of mine since being elected to represent Georgia's 12th district in Congress," said Congressman Allen. "My staff and I stand ready to help with issues experienced at the federal level and I am pleased to offer this opportunity for my office to provide constituents direct assistance closer to home.”

Congressman Allen has permanent offices located in Richmond, Toombs, Laurens, and Bulloch counties; therefore, community office hours will not be held in these counties. Please see below for a list of Community Office Hours dates, times and locations by county:

Treutlen County

WHEN:      Friday, March 1 from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

WHERE:   Treutlen County Commissioners Office
                  1830 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive
                  Soperton, GA 30457

Montgomery County

WHEN:      Friday, March 1 from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

WHERE:   Montgomery County Courthouse
                 400 S. Railroad Avenue
                 Mount Vernon, GA 30445

Wheeler County

WHEN:      Friday, March 1 from 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

WHERE:   Alamo City Hall
                 105 Commerce Street
                 Alamo, GA 30411

Coffee County

WHEN:      Tuesday, March 5 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

WHERE:   Douglas/Coffee County Chamber of Commerce
                 114 N. Peterson Avenue
                 Douglas, GA 31533

Jeff Davis County

WHEN:      Tuesday, March 5 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

WHERE:   Chamber of Commerce
                 95 E. Jarman Street
                 Hazlehurst, GA 31539

Burke County

WHEN:      Thursday, March 7 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. 

WHERE:   County Commission Boardroom, Burke County Courthouse
                 111 E. 6th Street
                 Waynesboro, GA 30830

Effingham County

WHEN:      Thursday, March 7 from 12:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. 

WHERE:   Effingham County Board of Commissioners Administrative Complex
                 601 N. Laurel Street
                 Springfield, GA 31329

Columbia County

WHEN:      Thursday, March 7 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. 

WHERE:   City of Grovetown
                 103 Old Wrightsboro Road
                 Grovetown, GA 30813

Screven County

WHEN:      Thursday, March 7 from 2:45 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. 

WHERE:   Screven County Courthouse, Commission Boardroom
                 216 Mims Road
                 Sylvania, GA 30467

Jenkins County

WHEN:      Thursday, March 14 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. 

WHERE:   Millen City Hall
                 919 College Avenue
                 Millen, GA 30442

Emanuel County

WHEN:      Thursday, March 14 from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

WHERE:   Emanuel County Commission Board Room
                 101 N. Main St.
                 Swainsboro, GA 30401

Candler County

WHEN:      Thursday, March 14 from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

WHERE:   Metter City Hall
                 49 S. Rountree St.
                 Metter, GA 30439

Appling County

WHEN:      Wednesday, March 20 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

WHERE:   Appling Courthouse Annex, Commissioners Meeting Room
                 69 Tippins Street
                 Baxley, GA 31513

Tattnall County

WHEN:      Wednesday, March 20 from 12:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.

WHERE:   Glennville Welcome Center 
                 136 S. Veterans Boulevard
                 Glennville, GA 30427

Evans County

WHEN:      Wednesday, March 20 from 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. 

WHERE:   Claxton City Hall
                 206 W. Railroad Avenue
                 Claxton, GA 30417

February 24--  State Senator Jack Hill of Reidsville provides an update on this past week's state legislative session.


The Senate and House came to an agreement on the FY 2019 Supplemental budget.


-          $60.4 million for school safety- $30,000 per school

-          $8.4 million APEX Program- support counselors for mental health service in high school

-          $20 million for southwest Georgia farmers' loan program- Hurricane Michael

-          $2 million- assistance for hospitals affected by hurricane Michael in rural counties

-          $500,000 for coding labs in middle schools in rural or low wealth schools

-          $500,000 for Augusta University to fight women's/ childhood cancer

-          $71.9 million in increased funding for Medicaid

-          $250,000 to reduce waiting list for Meals on Wheels

-          $350,000 for Alzheimer's public awareness campaign

-          $350,000 to GBI to fund an app for school safety, "See Something, Send Something"

-          $180,000 Security for 4-H camps


SB 1: "C.J.'s Law"; makes it a felony for "knowingly" committing a hit and run accident that results in a serious injury.

SB 17: Authorizes Telephone Cooperatives to expand their authority to include broadband services.

SB 32: Provides immunity from liability for people who rescue or attempt to rescue animals locked in motor vehicles.

SB 48: Identifies and supports students in pre-kindergarten through 2nd grade with dyslexia. Provides teacher preparation programs for instruction relating to students with dyslexia.

SB 55: Allows members of the Employee Retirement System of Georgia (ERS) to purchase Supplemental Guaranteed Lifetime Income annuities.

SB 67: Provides eligibility for funding to educational facilities that are destroyed or damaged by fire or natural disaster to repair, update, or replace the portions of the building that were not destroyed. Allows low wealth eligibility for consolidating school systems

SB 72: Changes the dates for hunting season to allow for an extended archery only season until January 31st. Raises the bag limit to 12 deer daily. Modifies the provisions related to hunting for wild hogs.

SB 99: Allows applicants for a license from the Department of Natural Resources to designate "Organ Donor" on their license and shares donor information with organ procurement organizations.                     


SB 107: Creates a monument to honor the memory and legacy of Zell Miller on Capitol grounds

SB 108: Requires courses in computer science for students in middle and high school.

SB 109: Allows for physicians to allow up to eight advanced practice registered nurses to administer radiographic imaging tests in non-life-threatening situations.        

SB 110: Creates a state-wide business court.

SB 112: Prevents the financing of nuclear power plants through the taxation of public schools.

SB 113: Requires nursing homes to have a backup power source to provide power in the event of a blackout.

SB 114: Revises provisions relating to Certificate of Need (CON) requirements. Establishes the Health Strategies Council.     

SB 115: Allows for telemedicine licenses to be issued to licensed medical professionals in other states so they can practice medicine with patients in Georgia through telemedicine.

SB 119: Requires all tax bills to receive an economic analysis before being adopted by the House or the Senate.                   

SB 120: Requires an economic analysis of certain income tax credits and exemptions.

SB 121: Increases the length of time that prescription information is retained to five years. Authorizes the Attorney General's Medicaid fraud Control Unit to access the data.

SB 123: Reinstates the surcharge for disposing of coal ash in municipal solid waste disposal facilities.

SB 131: Establishes the Georgia Major Airport Authority, a state authority over the Atlanta Airport.


HR 51: Creates the Georgia-North Carolina and Georgia-Tennessee Boundary Line Commission. This commission will be used to resolve border disputes between Georgia and Tennessee.

HB 63: Requires health benefit plans to establish step therapy protocols.

HB 184: Streamlines the deployment of wireless broadband in the public rights of way.

HB 158: Ensures that Medicaid recipients have the same access to antiretroviral regimens used to treat HIV and AIDS as those included in the Georgia AIDS Drugs Assistance Program.

February 23--  A pre-dawn shooting early Saturday at the Huddle House in Vidalia killed a Wheeler County man and seriously injured a Vidalia woman.

According to Vidalia police, 28-year-old Roderick Harvey, Jr. of Alamo and 33-year-old Rosanna Simpson of Vidalia had words inside the restaurant with 25-year-old Zeary Devontae Davis of Toombs County.   The verbal altercation spilled out onto the parking lot where Davis is accused of opening fire on Harvey's vehicle as it exited the parking lot and crossed U.S. Highway 280 where it struck a tree.

Harvey was killed by the gunfire and the woman suffered serious injuries in the wreck and was transported to Memorial Hospital in Savannah for treatment of her injuries.

zearydavisDavis is under arrest and charged with murder, two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of aggravated battery.

February 22--  A Vidalia businessman accused of child molestation has been released on bond.

Middle Judicial Circuit District Attorney Hayward Altman says 49-year-old John Welch was released from the Emanuel County jail Thursday after Judge Robert Reeves approved a $50,000 bond in a hearing Wednesday.  He had been denied bond is his first bond hearing.

Welch has been in jail since early January when he was arrested by the GBI and charged with six counts of child molestation and two counts of aggravated child molestation.

GBI Special Agent Lindsey Wilkes says Welch engaged in sexual acts with multiple underage females on various occasions over a period of years dating back to 2013.  One of his victims still lives in Vidalia and two others were Vidalia residents at the time of the crimes, according to the GBI.

Welch lives just north of the Toombs County line in Emanuel County and Wilkes says all of the warrants taken against him thus far are for molestations which occurred in Emanuel County.  She says the investigation is continuing and there could be further charges.

The District Attorney says he expects to seek indictments against Welch as soon as next week before an Emanuel County grand jury.

Welch is listed as the Chief Executive Officer of Accordia Urgent Care in Vidalia, Dublin and Warner Robins.

February 21--  Eighteen teams competed Thursday night at the Vidalia Community Center in the first annual DOT Foods/Vidalia Rotary Club "Trivia Challenge" to benefit the Alzheimer's Foundation.

triviawinnersThe event raised $6,560 with the winning trophy going to the STC Patriot's team of (L-R) Mike Lewis, Chip Greene, Daniel Hancock and Latrelle Mercer.

February 21-- The Vidalia Charter Chapter of the American Business Women's Association held its annual awards ceremony Thursday night.

abwasuziPeoples Bank Vice-President Suzi Braddy (right) is the chapter's "Woman of the Year" and was presented by 2017 "Woman of the Year" Mary Lou Henry.

"I just think it's a huge honor and if it hadn't been for the Good Lord, my family, my work family and my church family, it would have been really hard to do.  I'm just very thankful," she said.

Suzi has been with Peoples Bank for 25 years and is proud of the difference the bank has made in people's lives, "It's meant that you have people who support you and care about you.  We start people with their credit and help them answer all their dreams and the things they want to do.  We invest in the community heavily," she said.

Mrs. Braddy has been a member of the business women's group for six years and is a former chapter secretary, "It's a place where we can brainstorm and do our fundraisers.  The Vidalia Onion Festival Pageant is our big one and we spend a lot of time on that, but it's a lot of emotional support, too.  It's a really good organization," she believes.

abwachadEach year the chapter names it's "Business Associate of the Year" and this year it's Chad Hutcheson, co-founder of Serenity Hospice and Meddix Ambulance Transport.

"It means a lot to me.  I appreciate the people who work with me and I always try to listen to what my employees have to say.  I'm very humbled and appreciate the employees who nominated me.  It's truly and honor.  As I was saying earlier, it's all about the people who work for me, my family, my friends and God, first and foremost."

(This is the first in a series of stories based on this year's Teen Maze in Toombs County and the realities facing today's generation.)

February 20--  This year's Teen Maze included a class hosted by The Refuge Domestic Violence Shelter in Toombs County and testimony from a young lady who for years was sexually molested by a family member.

"My stepfather sexually assaulted me for the majority of my life.  For a long time I didn't realize it was something wrong.  I thought that was just how Dad's were. As I got older I realized it wasn't normal and that something was going on.  One day it just kind of slipped out and now I'm here.  It's been almost five years since I told.  I went to the Sunshine House for two years and I'm still struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and depression and anxiety, but every day it gets a little easier," she said.

The young victim told the 8th graders she addressed at the Teen Maze that if someone similar happened to them, "Talk to somebody who is close to them whether it's their parents or teacher or friend and understand they are not alone.  There are people out there going through the same thing. I continue to tell my story because I needed that support and I know there are others who are struggling with it, whether they've told or not, and they need to know there is help."

mazerefugeSusan Wortman (left) is a Children's Advocate at "The Refuge, "We see that a lot unfortunately and there could be somebody in the midst of that who may need that assistance and encouragement to come up out of what they are in."

She also encouraged girls in the class to recognize and avoid unhealthy relationships with boys, "We encourage them and show them what the red flags look like and how to break up safely.  They also need to know what healthy dating relationships look like, too," she said.

February 20--  Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits reports the following arrests.

Martinez, Shawn Mitchell- W/M- 32 YOA- 16249 Williams Cemetery Metter, GA- Theft by Taking (State Warrant)

Clemmons, Ladarius Dewayne- B/M- 19 YOA- 245 N. Victory Dr. Lyons, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense

Garner, Terry Lee B/M 52 YOA / 606 Mike St Apt A Vidalia, GA / Warrant Service (Lyons PD) / Possession Of A Controlled Substance (Fel)

Carter, Jennifer Diane- W/F- 42 YOA- 410 Randolph Dr. Apt. 8C Vidalia, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense

Jordan, Eugene- B/M- 57 YOA- 616 First Ave Vidalia, GADUI- 1st Offense, Failure to Maintain Lane

Reynolds, Stuart Malone- W/M- 32 YOA- 724 Mike St. Vidalia, GA- State Warrant Served (Simple Obstruction of a Police Officer), Willfully Obstruction of Police Officer

Dowdy, Shantae Brion- B/F- 34 YOA- 502 Thompson St. Vidalia, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 2nd Offense

Stevenson, Jaquez D. - B/M- 25 YOA- 705 E. First St. Vidalia, GA- Warrant Served (Toombs County SO- Bench)

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Sonia Santoyo, Lyons, driving unlicensed

Fernando Laca, Lyons, DUI, possession of marijuana and drug related objects, open container, expired tag and license, failure to maintain lane

Jonathan Holcomb, Lyons, warrant served

Mathew Powell, Lyons, DUI, running stop sign

Cami Childs, Lyons DUI, child endangerment, headlight

Ashley Bobbitt, Lyons, DUI, child endangerment, open container, driving while license suspended/revoked, warrant served

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Samantha Deen, Uvalda, theft by taking

Norman Hargrove, Savannah, possession of marijuana, speeding

Martin Neal, Swainsboro, DUI, driving while license suspended/revoked

Shannon Oliver, Vidalia, probation violation

Kirby Partin, Vidalia, hold for Pooler police

Joshua Raper, Uvalda, six counts purchase, possession, manufacture, distribution, sale of drugs

Charles Strickland, Lumber City, DUI

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

02/13-Uriah Chakwuemeka Jackson, Alamo, Misdemeanor Probation Violation

02/13-David Elvis Thompkins, Mt. Vernon, Obstruction of Officer, Criminal Damage to Property-2nd

02/17-William Bryan Wood, Mt. Vernon, Driving w/Suspended License

02/17-Alexander Wright, Wrightsville, Possession of Marijuana <1oz., Window Tint Violation

02/17-Christopher Lamar Lomaneck, East Dublin, Felony Probation Violation

February 19--  A former Vidalia attorney and federal prosecutor has been given jail time for aggravated stalking.

rickthompsonjailshotLast Friday 62-year-old Rick Thompson was sentenced to three years in prison with the remainder of his 20-year sentence to be served on probation.

Superior Court Judge Stephen G. Scarlett passed sentence on Thompson following a bench trial in Brunswick January 31.

Last summer Thompson violated a restraining order to stay away from his former girlfriend Mary Ella Kent and a warrant was issued for his arrest in Glynn County where they resided.  He was arrested in Toombs County July 27 where he was found on a county road sitting in his car with a pistol to his head.

Judge Scarlett's order warns Thompson he will serve the remainder of his prison sentence should he make any contact with Kent or her family or violate any terms of his probation which includes a prohibition on entering the confines of the Brunswick Judicial Circuit.

Thompson was named U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia by President George W. Bush in 2001 and resigned three years later after he was found to have abused his authority by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue appointed him Chairman of the State Board of Workers Compensation from 2009 to 2013.  Later he was a partner with a workers' compensation law firm and was living on St. Simon's Island.

February 19--  The Vidalia City School System is looking for a new principal at Sally Meadows Elementary School starting next school term.

At its monthly meeting, the school board named current Principal Tammy McFadden to succeed Ginger Morris as the system's Director of Federal Programs.  Morris has been named to succeed Assistant Superintendent Lucy Claroni who is retiring this summer.

speceddriverThe school board also recognized Wanda Sharpe as the system's Special Education Employee of the Year.  For years Ms. Sharpe (right) drove the system's special education school bus and was presented the Debra Brantley Award by Katrina Blount-Woodard, the Vidalia Schools' Director of Student Services.

The board also voted to award a contract for $142,985 to PlaySouth of Atlanta for new playground equipment at J.D. Dickerson Primary School and a contract for $40,168 to GHA Technology for 150 Chrome Books at Sally Meadows Elementary School.

Week 5 In the Senate

blaketillery2019 By: Sen. Blake Tillery (R – Vidalia)

 Rubber hit the road this week on the Senate. The following four bills were vetted and passed on the Senate floor:

  • SB 38 – Clarifies language having to do with fees for electronic filing of leaves of absences and conflict letters in court.
  • SB 16 – Allows Georgia to enter into the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact which would give doctors moving here from other compact states an expedited licensing process. We hope this will encourage more doctors to move to our state and fill the shortage of doctors we see in rural Georgia.
  • SB 6 – Would make it a criminal offense to use a drone for the transportation of contraband or taking pictures or video above an incarceration facility. While drones are fun to fly, they pose a serious threat because of their ability to fly packages inside prison airspace. This is a good bill to protect both inmates and the men and women who work inside these facilities.
  • SB 52 – The annual code revision bill that makes updates regarding redundancy, punctuation, grammar and sentence structure to the Official Code of Georgia.

Each of these bills are on their way to the House. You can track their progress on the General Assembly’s website here:

I’ve told you for several weeks that I expect big moves on broadband and healthcare this year.  This week saw movement on both. 

Much like electric membership co-ops (EMC’s) were started to bring electricity to rural areas almost 100 years ago, many people think EMC’s can be used to bring broadband internet access to rural areas now.  Senate Bill 2, taken up this week by the Senate Regulated Industries Committee, does just this.  It also allows EMC’s to apply for federal grants to extend broadband service to new areas.

This week also included major news on healthcare.  Governor Brian P. Kemp unveiled his “Patients First Act,” his plan to address the high cost of health insurance for Georgia’s working families.  Today, health insurance for many Georgians is financially unattainable.  For those that can afford health insurance, many Georgians are spending more on monthly premiums than they are on their home mortgage!

Governor Kemp has made it very clear that he feels Medicaid is a broken system and expanding a broken system makes sense for no one.  I agree.  Instead, Governor Kemp has asked the legislature to grant him the authority to ask the federal government to allow Georgia to develop its own healthcare plan, waiving certain federal requirements and tailoring a solution to problems affecting Georgians.  President Trump has actively asked states to request such waivers.  I look forward to keeping you informed as this bill moves through the legislature.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns about legislation, please do not hesitate to let me know. I am more than happy to answer your questions via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone at 404-656-0089. Thanks for the opportunity to serve you.        

February 19-- Congratulations to four Vidalia City Schools singers who earned the right to perform with the prestigious Georgia Music Educators Association All State Chorus for 2019.

vhsallstatechorus(L-R) J.R. Trippe Middle School 8th grader Autumn Harris, Vidalia High School juniors Walker Wheeler and Luke Stinnet and J.R. Trippe 7th grader Landry Wheeler were selected for All State membership this year.

Each student proved their talents in a rigorous audition process before professional judges. The 2019 All State Chorus performed a beautiful concert in Athens this past Saturday.

Students who elect to enter All-State auditions endure a two-tiered elimination process. The first audition consists of three “a capella” scales, a prepared art song (solo), and three sight-reading exercises. Sight-reading means that students must read music that they have never seen before and accurately sing it before the judge after studying it for only thirty seconds. Over 8000 students from across the state competed this year for positions in this chorus. Some were selected to go on to the second tier of auditions that were held in January. This final audition required all students to sing their vocal lines from the actual literature that the All State Chorus performs in concert.

Only the finest singers from the final audition make the cut, and these four Vidalia students did just that. GMEA awarded Walker Wheeler (son of Buddy and Tina Wheeler) his fourth consecutive All State membership. Luke Stinnett (son of Eric and Michelle Stinnett) is an All State member for the third consecutive year, while Autumn Harris (daughter of Brent and Carrie Harris), and the Landry Wheeler (the younger son of Buddy and Tina Wheeler) made All State for the first time. Stinnett also performed in 2017 as a member of the All National Honor Chorus in Orlando, a position only available to All State Chorus members who audition. Walker Wheeler scored a 100% perfect second audition score, obtaining a gold seal on his All State certificate. Harris is the first female chorus student to make All State from VCSS in many years. Because so many females audition from across the state, it is much more difficult to make the cut as a girl.

Vidalia students compete against students from school systems of every size and classification in the state for membership in All State. Larger school systems have several distinct advantages over VCSS, including more funding and more choral staff (VCSS is the only system represented at All State with students from more than one school with only one choral director on staff), yet our students proved they are the best in the state. Of the 66 AA-size high schools in the state (excluding AA magnet arts academies with audition-forced limited enrollment in larger school systems), VCHS was one of seven schools with All State members, and our students represented 20% of the double-A members. JRTMS was one of four middle schools in Georgia feeding AA high schools, with our students representing 28.5% of AA All State members. No other AA school system in our GMEA district or GHSA region was represented except magnet arts schools, and no single-A public schools were represented in the entire state. VCSS remains the system of choice for gifted and talented students in our area, providing opportunities to excel usually afforded only to larger school systems.

Prior to the Allstate performance, the students endured 11 hours of rehearsals with the group, and presented a wonderful concert on the Classic Center stage. The world's finest choral conductors covet an invitation to conduct the GMEA All-State Choruses, considered among the finest in the nation. Congratulations to Autumn Harris, Luke Stinnett and Landry and Walker Wheeler, and to John Morgan, Choral Director at Vidalia Comprehensive High School and J. R. Trippe Middle School.

February 18--  Health officials are trying to help 8th graders in Toombs County prepare to safely find their way through the maze of choices they will face in their teenage years.

This is the third year the "Teen Maze" has been offered by the Southeast Georgia Health District and Toombs County Family Connections. 

mazepartyThe sessions are held at the former Lyons Primary School and consist of eight stations meant to show teens the consequences of poor choices made at a party.  Jariyah Williams, a junior at Vidalia High School, plays the role of hosting the party while her parents are out of town and says it's very realistic, "A lot of my friends have either been made pregnant or gotten killed as a result of parties like this.  Kids need to know about it so they don't become a statistic."

Jariyah feels targeting eighth graders is the right way to go, "If we did this for high school students, it probably wouldn't impact them as much as eighth graders. They're going through a tough time in middle school.  It's three years where they're going through a lot of changes and trying to fit in and find out who they are.  With the 'Teen Maze" as you get ready to go into high school, you'll have the tools to know what you should do and not do."

Ambi Bess organizes the program for the Southeast Health District which is one of the smallest in terms of population but ranks fifth in terms of problems among teens in 18 health districts.

"Talking to kids, they say they don't have anything else to do.  That's what I constantly hear.  I'm engaging in sexual behavior, I'm engaging in these parties and drinking and alcohol because there is nothing else to do.  That's why things like this are so important to let them know there are resources and things out there.  That's what breaks my heart when we have kids in a situation they can't get out of because they didn't know resources, so education is key," Bess said.

Students from J.R. Trippe Middle School in Vidalia, Toombs County Middle School and Robert Toombs Christian Academy work their way through the maze and Bess says it's worth the effort if one life is saved, "If one child changes their behavior, we've done our job. Hopefully we'll get more, but if one child takes in what we did, we've changed one person and that's enough for me.  I want more, but as long as we've touched somebody..."

mazewreckA teenage girl was killed as a result of alcohol and drugs at the party.  Local police and and EMS personnel responded to the simulated accident.

February 15--  Senator Jack Hill of Reidsville, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, says fiscal year-to-date revenue collections are "disturbing."  His remarks are contained in his weekly "Notes From the Senate."

Notes from the Senate

February 15, 2019


January revenues came in at an astounding minus $314.1 million less than January of last year. For Individual Income Taxes this calculated to a minus 12.2 % decline on revenues of $2.2 billion. It had been feared that both December and January would be problem months because of the rush a year ago by taxpayers to file taxes to take advantage of deductions being eliminated in the federal tax cut.


When you add it all up, the FY 19 Year revenues picture is disturbing. In the seven months so far, state revenues are up $202.8 million, an increase of only 1.5%, well below the amount needed to make budget.


Net Sales Taxes came in at 2.0% for January, fairly consistent for this year and reflecting fairly good Christmas sales. Corporate Income Taxes were negative at -18.6%.


Tag, Title and Fees was negative at -6.3% and Title Ad Valorem Taxes were minus 9.8%. Tobacco taxes were up 10.2% and Alcoholic Beverages Taxes were also positive at 7.8%.


Fuel excise taxes, impact fees and hotel/motel fees altogether were up slightly overall at less than 1%, 0.7%.

With only 5 months to go before the end of the fiscal year, revenues must have positive months every month to have a chance to meet the FY 19 budget.


SB6: Makes it unlawful to use drones to transport contraband into prison grounds or to photograph prison facilities.

SB16: "Interstate Medical Licensure Compact Act"; Allows for expedited licenses for licensed health care professionals of other states. Requires each applicant as a health care professional to have satisfactory reports from a fingerprint records check report conducted by the Georgia Crime Information Center. Creates the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact Commission.

SB38: Eliminates electronic filing fees for some groups including the state, its agents or subdivisions as in the Attorney General, Secretary of State, district attorneys, public defenders, municipal corporations and county governments.


SB80: Removes old provisions about the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame being self-sufficient, and provides language about the intrinsic value of the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.

SB82: Creates the role of Chief Innovation Officer for the Department of Transportation. This new role will be appointed by and will serve under the Director of Planning.

SB83: Allows public schools in grades nine through 12 to have courses in History and Literature of the Old and New Testament Eras and provides a basic outline of concepts to be covered in those courses.

SB84: Removes the requirement of a fee for the issuance of a renewal for a weapons carry license or a temporary renewal of a weapons carry license.

SB86: Prohibits public high schools from participating in or sponsoring interscholastic sports events conducted by any athletic association unless the association has separate regions and playoffs in the classification for schools with an enrollment of 640 students of less.

SB88: Allows Georgia taxpayers to make voluntary contributions to agencies who assist disabled veterans on their tax returns.

SB97: Provides limits to the fees charged and collected by self-service storage facilities for the late payment of rent. Provides for liens and the enforcement of liens for fees for the late payment of rent.

SB98: Allows for ranked voting for runoffs by overseas citizens and military personnel.

SB99: Allows for hunting, fishing, and trapping license purchasers to designate an anatomical gift.


HB23: Broadband service, authorizes electric membership corporations to provide broadband services. Authorizes certain financing and partnerships for the provision of broadband services. Prohibits cross subsidization between the provision on broadband services and an electric membership corporation's natural gas activities or electricity services activities.

HB62: Requires notification to patients and a mammogram report if the patient has dense breast tissue.


Visitors from Candler, Effingham, Bulloch, and Emanuel counties, representing students with dyslexia, Farm Bureau, Public Libraries, as well as a Page from Candler City.

February 15--  The Toombs County Board of Education honored its Employees of the Month at its February meeting.

xtramilefebThe "Extra Mile Award" was presented to Toombs County High School teacher Melanie Dixon (center) by school Principal Marissa Morris and School Superintendent Barry Waller.

wowfebThe "WOW" are for classified employees was presented to May Dennard (center) by Lyons Primary School Principal Chris Bell and School Superintendent Barry Waller.

February 15--  The Georgia First Amendment Foundation is urging citizens to let their lawmakers know it's a bad idea to ban recordings of the kind which exposed the two-faced political practices of former Georgia Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle.  If you agree, let your state senators and representative know how you feel.

How Senate Bill 59 will protect the bad guys

By Richard T. Griffiths 

Nightclubs catering to underage teens, a significant security breach at Hartsfield-Jackson airport, a con artist ripping off brides-to-be. Each one was exposed through the work of undercover journalists in Georgia who made secret recordings. The recordings both proved and vividly illustrated the

Richard T. Griffiths, Georgia First Amendment Foundation president

shenanigans, leading to change and significant action.

Recording in secret is a tool journalists use to help them protect the public’s interest and uncover the less savory parts of our society. For most news organizations, going undercover is reserved for the most difficult stories and often means some personal risk for the journalists.

Right now, in Georgia and 37 other states, that kind of investigative journalism is legal. Only one participant in a conversation needs to agree to a recording that secretly captures evidence of bad behavior. Georgia’s current law matches federal statutes.

But a bill proposed by state Senate Rules Committee Chair Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, would change that. His bill, Senate Bill 59, would require that all parties agree to being recorded. It would change Georgia from what is called a “one-party consent state” to an “all-party consent state.”

Why would lawmakers propose or support such a change? Here’s the background:

A recording last year of Republican gubernatorial front-runner Casey Cagle seriously damaged the then-lieutenant governor’s campaign. The secret recording was made by another gubernatorial candidate, Clay Tippins. In it, Cagle could be heard saying he supported “bad” policy because it would hurt another candidate in the race. The embarrassing recording was made public during Cagle’s GOP runoff against Brian Kemp; voters resoundingly rejected Cagle.

The power of that recording got lawmakers’ attention. Now some want to make such recordings illegal, and in the process they would make it a criminal act for journalists to use one-party recordings to expose wrongdoers.

But it’s not just journalists who would become criminals.

  • A domestic abuse victim who records threats or abuse on a concealed mobile phone would be a criminal, too. The illegal recording might be thrown out as evidence in court. And the victim of abuse could actually end up being prosecuted.
  • Even going live on Facebook could create risks. Would everyone being recorded have to agree before the recording is posted? Would video of a street-corner shouting match cross a legal line? Would police have the only authority to record video of a traffic stop?
  • And what about those doorbell cameras? Would recording a conversation with a suspicious visitor at your door be illegal? Would your effort to fight crime by posting that video to alert your neighbors now itself be a crime?
  • And if you recorded a scammer who keeps calling an elderly relative offering high-cost services they don’t need, that could be illegal, too.

This bill would take away from Georgia citizens’ ability to protect themselves.

The only people in Georgia who would benefit from Senate Bill 59 are bad guys who are likely to be embarrassed by or even imprisoned because of undercover recordings. For the millions of Georgians who don’t break the law, don’t do or say things they shouldn’t, there’s no reason for this misguided proposal.

Richard T. Griffiths is president of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation.

February 15--  Georgia School Superintendent Richard Woods issued a statement today regarding new legislation clarifying stopping for school buses in the state.

“I have been concerned about our students’ safety since House Bill 978, which addressed passing a stopped school bus on a highway divided by a turn lane, was signed into law last year.

Today, Senate Bill 25 was signed. It reverses the change and takes effect immediately – it is once again clear that in Georgia it is illegal to pass a stopped school bus unless on a highway divided by a grass median, unpaved area, or physical barrier.

I commend Governor Kemp and our legislators, including Senator Heath and Representative Ehrhart, for acting swiftly in the interest of students’ safety. I can rest a little easier tonight, and I believe that’s true for our school transportation directors and parents as well.”

February 15-- Kailey Dees State Farm is excited to announce the new “Quotes for Good” program sponsored by State Farm.

Robert Toombs Christian Academy has been chosen as this month’s "Quotes for Good" organization.

kaileyrtcaUp until RTCA’s annual Auction on March 7th, for every person contacts Kailey Dees State Farm and completes an auto, fire, life or health quote, the agency will make a $1 donation to RTCA!

For quotes to qualify, an individual can be a new customer or a current State Farm customer that has policies with the office. If an individual currently has policies with the agent, they will need to quote business they do not already have with the agent.

When calling in/stopping by for a quote, be sure to mention "Quotes for Good" and RTCA for the quote to qualify.

To get a quote, stop by at:

Kailey Dees State Farm at 205 Rigsbee Drive in Vidalia OR call the agency at 912-537-AUTO (2886).

Kailey Dees State Farm is excited about the opportunity to generate donations and create more awareness for organizations in our community. If you know of a non-profit organization that may be interested in participating this program, contact Ashley at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

February 15-- – U.S. Congressman Rick W. Allen (R-Ga-12) issued the following statement last night on the last-minute spending package.

“Late yesterday evening, my colleagues and I were finally given the opportunity to see the over 1,000-page spending bill.  With only about twenty-four hours to review this legislation, I simply could not offer my support,” said Congressman Allen.

“Our nation is facing a very real crisis, and this bill does not go far enough to secure our border and stop the influx of illegal immigration and deadly drugs that are pouring into our country, nor does it provide the much needed disaster assistance for Georgia farmers who were devastated by Hurricane Michael last October.

I’ve said it many times – we must get our appropriations process back to regular order so we can avoid scenarios where we have such a short amount of time to read and vote on a giant spending package. We can and must do better.”

Senator Jack Hill's 2019 Questionnaire


Here are questions on some issues that may be voted upon this session. Please take the time to give me your opinion.

 1. Are you in favor of setting up a process in Georgia that allows the growing of the cannabis plant that produces medical marijuana?

  • Favor
  • Oppose
  • Undecided

2. Do you favor taxing streaming services to extend broadband to rural areas of the state?

  • Favor
  • Oppose
  • Undecided

3. Do you favor voting machines that produce a printed paper ballot vs. a paper ballot that the voter fills out?

  • Printed ballot
  • Voter-Filled Ballot
  • Undecided

4. Would you favor the licensing of the growing of hemp, recently legalized by federal farm bill?

  • Favor
  • Oppose
  • Undecided

5. Do you support the exemption of military retirement income from state income taxes? (All citizens 65 and older are presently exempt up to $65,000 per spouse)

  • Favor
  • Oppose
  • Undecided

6. Would you be in favor of changing the definition of "unemployed" to allow federal government employees to collect unemployment benefits in the event of a government shutdown?

  • Favor
  • Oppose
  • Undecided

7. Would you favor changing the classification of possession of a small amount (less than one ounce) of marijuana from a misdemeanor to a fine offense in a municipal court?

  • Favor
  • Oppose
  • Undecided

8. Do you favor legalizing horse racing in Georgia?

  • Favor
  • Oppose
  • Undecided

9. Do you favor raising the mandatory age of school attendance from 16 to 17 years old?

  • Favor
  • Oppose
  • Undecided

10. Do you favor the State of Georgia ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)?

  • Favor
  • Oppose
  • Undecided

Please email, mail, or fax your response to one of the below:

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

(404) 657-7094 (fax) or (912) 557-3522 (fax)

234 State Capitol, Atlanta , GA 30334


P.O. Box 486, Reidsville, GA 30453 

February 14--  Emily Harvill, The Tommy and Shirley Strickland Cancer Center Registered Nurse, received the February DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses.

daisyfeb19(L-R) Vice President of Revenue Cycle Operations/Information Services Mike Hagan; Director of Cancer Care Services Samantha Walker; Cancer Center RN Emily Harvill; Chief Nursing Officer Jeffrey Harden; Vice President of Physician Enterprise Mid McCain.

“Emily is a very deserving recipient,” said Meadows Regional Medical Center Chief Nursing Officer Jeffrey Harden. “She is extremely caring and always provides excellent care. However for this patient, her attention to detail, going above her required duties, and continued pursuit for an answer, her actions most likely saved a life. We are extremely proud to have Emily on our team helping us lead the way as we strive to always provide the best care to our patients, community, and employees.”

Harvill has been employed with Meadows Regional Medical Center for two years, and is one of the Chemotherapy and Immunotherapy Certified Oncology Nurses at The Tommy and Shirley Strickland Cancer Center.

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.

February 14--  Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits reports the following arrests.

Corouthers, Justin Allen B/M 24 YOA / 907 Scott Drive,Vidalia Ga,Theft By Shoplifting (Citation) (Misd)

Bryant, Hollis Alan W/M 23 YOA / 148 Ponderosa Rd Lyons,GA/ DUI 2ND Offense (Misd) / Hit & Run Property Damage Or Injury/ Failure To Stop / Leave Scene (Misd) / Driving While License Suspended Or Revoked 2ND Offense (Misd)

Mikel, Michael A.- B/M- 28 YOA- 606 NE Main St. Vidalia, GA- Warrant Served (State)

Brown, Jacmiracle Hope- B/F- 18 YOA- 517 Martin Luther King Drive Apartment C Vidalia, GA- Simple Battery

Johnson, Lamarius Jermaine- B/M- 30 YOA- 204 Lee St.,Vidalia, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense

Grimes, Charles Edward- W/M- 31 YOA- 21 Outreach LN, Soperton, GA- Warrant Served (Toombs County SO Probation)

Kersey, Justin Lyle W/M 25 YOA / 214 Davis Rd Vidalia, Theft By Shoplifting 3rd Offense (Misd)

King, Charles Cedric W/M 54 YOA / 221 Chambers Rd Uvalda, / Willfully Obstruction Of Police Officer Severe / Forceful (Fel) / Disorderly Conduct (Misd)

King, Anthony Glen W/M 50 YOA/ 1006 Church St Vidalia, GA/ Willfully Obstruction Of Police Officer Simple/Verbal (Misd)

Simpson, Benjamin Tyler W/M 22 YOA/ 292 Green Oak Rd, Lyons, GA/ Parole Violation

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests,.

Jose Garcia, Lyons, affray, public drunkeness, disorderly conduct

Jose Rodriguez, Lyons, driving unlicensed

Taylor Phillips, Lyons, hands free law violation, driving while license suspended/revoked

Fernando Gonzalez, Lyons, DUI, hands free law violation, driving without license on person

Jaquan Bryant, Glenwood, DUI, speeding, reckless driving, open container, underage possession, purchase, consumption of alcohol

Anthony Dewayne Smith, Lyons, pedestrian under the influence

Matthew Powell, Lyons, DUI, failure to stop at stop sign

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Donnie Edmunds, Vidalia, purchase, possession, manufacturing, distribution and sale of a controlled substance

Felicia Evans, Lyons, probation violation

Robert Herndon, Lyons,probation violation

Alexander Pitts, Moultrie, terroristic threats, electronically furnishing obscene material to minors

William Tant, Lyons, forgery, burglary, possession of firearms by convicted felon; purchase, possession, manufacture, distribution and sale of methamphetamine

Kevin Taylor, Vidalia, purchase, possession, manufacture, distribution and sale of a controlled substance.

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

02/05-Randall James Douglas, East Dublin, Bench Warrant, Bondsman Off Bond

02/06-Yancey Thomas Kemp, Mt. Vernon, Speeding Driving w/Suspended License

02/07-Shandon Debray Greene, Vidalia, Theft by Taking, Burglary-2nd

02/08-Amy Nicole Williams, Mt. Vernon, Theft by Taking

02/09-Rhonda Johnson, Sutland, MD, Aggravated Assault, Disorderly Conduct, Giving False Information

February 13--  Congratulations to Victoria Strange of Vidalia, winner of a Valentine's Evening for Two at Steeplechase Grill and Tavern in Vidalia.


Victoria's name was drawn Wednesday morning on Vidalia Communications radio stations Your Favorite 98Q, NewsTalk WVOP and Sweet Onion Country 1017, WYUM!

By the way, if you're away from home and want to hear what's going on in the Vidalia area, the stations are streaming live on

They are also on ALEXA for listening at home!

February 13-- The 71st Annual Vidalia Citizens of the Year Banquet was held on Tuesday to recognize the Man and Woman of the Year for 2018. The banquet is sponsored each year by the Vidalia Kiwanis Club, the Vidalia Rotary Club, and the Vidalia Lions Club.

therisaThis year’s recipient of the Woman of the Year is Therisa Ingley, who, among other things, was honored for her dedication leading the Sweet Onion Animal Protection Society, “I’m really at a loss for words and that’s not often true. I’m thankful to the community for this honor and to those people who work along beside me, I could not have done it without them," she said.

The Vidalia Man of the Year for 2018 is Zack Fowler. Fowler said “Two weeks ago when I was fortunate enough to go to Athens for induction in the broadcasting Hall of Fame, I was pretty emotional but it wasn’t like tonight. When you’re in front of your hometown folks and you know that they love you, there is nothing that compares to that.”

Fowler added, “This is such a special town and a special county. It’s all about great people. I am so blessed to be able to work in this town doing what I enjoy doing. The Lord works in mysterious ways and he puts people where they need to be and gives them opportunities. If you just do the right thing and be prepared, when the door opens you can make a difference in the world.”

zcitize4n“It’s a privilege to be able to work and live in this wonderful town”, added Fowler, pictured here with his wife, Anne, and Richard Martin who presented the award.

February 12--  "The Mercy Ministries" announces the appointment of two new board members.

vanesshillA former patient of the Mercy Clinic, Vanessa Hill, is the board's patient representative.  "I was asked to represent the patients of "The Mercy Ministries" by taking this seat on the board and I'm happy to do so," she said.

angelalaneAngela Lane is the new board secretary.  Why Mercy?  "To help promote and advance the work of the ministries and to serve the Lord by being the hands and feet of Jesus Christ," she said.

Mercy Ministries in Lyons started in 2009 as a faith-based, non-profit medical clinic, began offering a dental clinic in 2012, added its Mercy Helps Ministry in 2013 and its Mercy University life-skills and work-readiness programs in 2015.

Most recently it opened a second clinic in Graham, Georgia.

February 12--  Two area high schools are among 230 in the state which are Advanced Placement Honor Schools, according to the Georgia Department of Education.

Vidalia High School and Swainsboro High School are two of the 44 high schools in Georgia identified as Advanced Placement Challenge Schools.  These are schools with less than 900 students with students testing in the four core areas of English, math, science and social studies.

“It’s essential that we offer a robust set of opportunities to Georgia students, and Advanced Placement is an important part of that,” said State School Superintendent Richard Woods. “I congratulate the educators and leaders who worked to create strong AP programs in these 230 Georgia schools, ultimately connecting students with high-level coursework and the opportunity to gain college credit.” 

AP exams are administered by the College Board, which also administers the SAT. AP courses are one of several ways Georgia students can access college-level learning at the high-school level; students who receive a 3, 4, or 5 on an AP exam may receive college credit.

February 12--  The City of Vidalia is considering the use of two "Red Light" cameras.  At its meeting Monday night, the city council proposed the cameras be employed at the intersections of Church Street and Highway 280 and Jackson Street and Highway 280.  A vote on the measure is expected at next month's council meeting.

Meantime, the council okayed the use of speed control cameras in the city's four school zones starting next school year.  Drivers who exceed the posted speed limit by more than ten miles per hour in school zones will be photographed and sent a ticket.

The council also approved a measure requiring that citizens who want to speak at council meetings must submit a written request no later than the Thursday before the council's regular monthly meeting the second Monday of the month.  City manager Nick Overstreet says the procedure will allow the city to better address citizen concerns.  He claims some concerns can be resolved without going to the council.  In other cases, it gives council members a heads-up and will help them prepare to respond in a more informed manner.

In other actions, the council:

* Approved a bid of nearly $70,000 from Game Time, Inc to provide new playground equipment at the Ed Smith Recreation Complex.  Half of the cost is being paid by a grant and the other half by sales tax revenue.

* Approved a bid from Trinity Technical of nearly $5,000 to improve acoustics at the Vidalia Community Center by installing acoustic panels to absorb sound.

* Okayed $9,871.00 for the police department to buy Taser cartridges and battery packs and $2,275.00 to replace the rear entry roll-up door to the Municipal Annex.

*After an executive session, the council confirmed the appointment of Matt Smith as interim Director of the Vidalia Recreation Department following the resignation of Homer Waller. 

February 11--  STAR students and their STAR teachers from five area high schools were honored Monday night in ceremonies at Vidalia High School.


They are (left to right with teacher behind them) Montgomery County High School STAR student Adam Morris with STAR teacher Ashley Lynn, Robert Toombs Christian Academy STAR student Cody Masterman-Smith and his STAR teacher Ann Smith, Toombs County High School STAR student Alex Boyett and STAR teacher Megan Morris, Vidalia High School STAR student Logan Reid and STAR teacher Ben Beck and Vidalia Heritage Academy STAR student Elliott Sammons and his STAR teacher Steve Miller.

The STAR ceremonies are organized locally each year by the Vidalia Kiwanis Club coordinated by Rebekah Arnold with support from Altamaha Bank & Trust, Peoples Bank, Million Pines Community Bank, The Printed Word, Vidalia Federal Savings Bank and the Vidalia Rotary Club.

Comments from each of the students and their teachers are featured this week on Newsbreak from Your Favorite 98Q, NewsTalk WVOP and Sweet Onion Country 1017FM.  If you are out of the coverage area, the stations' programming is streamed live on

February 11-- 4-H: The Greatest Show was the theme for this year’s Southeast District 4-H Project Achievement held earlier this month at the Rock Eagle 4-H Center.  Over 40 middle and high school students from Vidalia and Toombs County schools joined more than 500 others from across Southeast Georgia. 

The weekend was filled with project competition, officer elections for Southeast District Junior and Senior Boards, special award presentations, recreation and community service learning projects.

4hfeb19Eleven Toombs County senior members in (grades 9 – 12) attended this year’s competition for a chance to represent the Southeast District at State 4-H Congress in July.  In projects with 8 or more contestants, sweepstakes trips are awarded. 

Placing first was Hannah Page (Flowers, Shrubs, & Lawns). 

Second place participants were Logan Harvey (Arts and Crafts), Jodi Kramer (General Recreation), James Poppell (Human Development), JadyLyyn Hooks (Textiles, Merchandising & Interiors) and Carlie Morgan (Workforce Preparation & Career Development).

Kacey Scarboro Companion Animals) and Gracie Hamlin (Performing Arts – Vocal) placed third. 

Receiving honorable mention were Lydia Baker (Food Fare), Desirae Cannon (Communications) and Bret White (Photography).

Six students will advance to State 4-H Congress in July.  These include Gracie Hamlin, Logan Harvey, Jodi Kramer, Carlie Morgan, Hannah Page and James Poppell.

In the Junior Division, twenty nine members participated.  First place participants included
Ally Donahue (Dairy Foods), Bailey Hutchins (Health), Riya Patel (Safety), Georgia Hamlin (Dog Care & Training), Landon McDonald (Flowers, Shrubs, & Lawns), Tami Gonzalez (Human Development), RJ Florez (Pizza), Brittney Bryant (Textiles, Merchandising & Interiors), Grace Holt (Veterinary Science), Kaitlyn Story (Food for Health & Sport) and Cindy Mata (Poultry & Egg Science).        

Second place participants included Kaleigh Howard (Food for Fitness), Grace Gordon (Sports – Team), Denzel Cannida (Computers Information Technology), Keishay Smith (Food Fare), Kailie Query (Human Development), Mackenzie Grimm (Outdoor Recreation), Kelsi Rowland    (Photography) and Adam Copeland (Outdoor Recreation). Mackinzie Lyles (Cat Care).  

Third place participants included Adelyn Williams (Public Speaking), Mary Laura Tippett (Performing Arts – Dance), Emily Helms (Performing Arts – Vocal), Morgan Strange (Workforce Preparation & Career Development), Bobby Brinson (Dog Care & Training) and Hailey Morgan (General Recreation). 

Other participants receiving honorable mention included Lalane Angeles (Performing Arts – General), Jolette Hernandez (History) and Yailyn Moran-Aguilar (Better Breakfast).

Toombs County received four Awards of Excellence for the event.  Awards received included Most Participation (1st), Greatest Increase in Participants (1st), Highest Percent of Junior Winners (3rd) and Highest Percentage of Senior Winners (3rd).

Four graduating seniors were recognized and presented with graduation cords from the Georgia 4-H Foundation.  Graduates of the Class of 2019 include Logan Harvey, Carlie Morgan, Kacey Scarboro and Bret White.  

holtJunior 4-H Member Grace Holt was elected as representative on the SE Junior Board of Directors.


James Poppell (left) was elected as the SE District Senior Board President and is congratulated by immediate Past President Arham Shah of Emanuel County..  Both will attend a statewide training in May and assist with planning district events for 2019-2020.

Extension staff members accompanying the group included Cheryl Poppell, 4-H Coordinator and Mallorie Talvan, 4-H Program Assistant.  Volunteer leaders Carole Hester, Lili Hester, Leigha Kirkley and Riley Wimberly assisted with the event.

February 11-- Nearly 300 guests gathered at First Baptist Church of Lyons last week for Brewton-Parker’s annual Warren C. Crawley, Sr. Gala.

crawley19Celebrating African-American History Month and the diversity of our community and the church, the evening honored the legacy of Warren C. Crawley by providing funding for scholarships for students in need.

A Heritage of Reconciliation

Warren C. Crawley was an ex-slave and a vital figure in the history of the college. In 1904, Crawley encountered several local churches that dreamed of establishing a Christian school in the community. At the time, these churches did not have sufficient acreage to establish the school, so Crawley, in a Christ-like act of reconciliation in a segregated time, donated five acres of his own land. These five acres comprised one-third of the original tract and enabled the foundation for Union Baptist Institute’s inaugural campus. This campus would later become Brewton-Parker College. Crawley made this astounding contribution knowing that the strict segregation of the pre-civil-rights South would prohibit his own grandchildren from enrolling.

Over a century later, BPC’s campus now flourishes with a diverse student body that consists of 45 percent minorities, an unimaginable diversity during Crawley’s lifetime.

In recognition of his humanitarian deed and in honor of his heritage, BPC initiated the annual gala in 2017 to raise funds for the construction of a new male dormitory. Due to the outstanding support of the local community and foundations, BPC was able to raise sufficient funds to begin construction on the Warren C. Crawley Commons, which currently has a projected completion by May 2019.

February 11--  State Senator Blake Tillery of Vidalia reports on last week in the Georgia Senate.

Week 4 Highlights

"This week in the Senate, we passed two pieced of legislation and heard several more in committee. I know that many of you are excited to hear legislation concerning broadband and healthcare, and I can assure you that those are coming up shortly, we’re just working on perfecting them as much as possible.

"The first bill of this session hit the Senate Floor. Senate Bill 25 clarifies ambiguous language in last year’s House Bill 978 that allowed drivers to pass stopped school buses when driving in the opposite direction with only the separation of a turn lane. This was pretty confusing for most people as it was different than previous law, and law enforcement officials were concerned that students crossing a street with a turn lane might get hit. SB 25 clearly states that drivers can only pass a stopped school bus while driving in the opposite direction if there is a grass median, unpaved area or physical barrier separating the roadways. There should be no more confusion as you should always stop for school busses unless there is one of the mentioned barriers between you and the bus.

"Our area is pivotal to moving freight from the Ports of Savannah and Brunswick throughout the Southeastern United States. The truck traffic increase on US Highways 341, 280, and Interstate 16. Even Highways 1 and 441 are all evidence of this. I want to see our area lead in logistics technology, including warehousing, trucking, and rail, so we can use these assets to provide quality paying jobs to our friends and neighbors. Many of these jobs also come with health insurance benefits, which would further strengthen our rural hospitals. Senate Resolution 19 does this by creating Georgia Commission on Freight, Innovation and Logistics. This commission would be charged with recommending where funding for future projects should be allocated to enhance the logistics industry. It would also be tasked with coming up with additional routes that improve travel for infrastructure. This commission is vital to ensuring that we are creating the best possible infrastructure for freight transit without clogging up our roads and endangering the safety of our citizens. I support this bill and have asked Senate Leadership to consider appointing me to this commission should it also pass the House.

Governor Kemp also released the first part of his healthcare agenda. While the idea does not yet have a bill number, this attempt will focus on development of a high-risk pool for the purpose of reducing the cost of healthcare insurance premiums for all Georgians.

Each week we have many special guests in chamber, but I was especially excited to see the Wheeler County 4-H club on Thursday. All the work 4-H does is wonderful and their involvement in both rural and urban communities certainly helps our students make friendships and connections across the state. Additionally, we had the UGA Blue Key chapter, of which I was a member several years ago, in the chamber this week. I am glad they made the trek up here to experience a day in the life of a Georgia state legislator under the Gold Dome!

Many of you like to visit or bring your children to page on our two busiest days - Crossover Day and Sine Die. We now know when those days will be: Crossover Day will be on March 7, 2019, and Sine Die will take place on April 2, 2019. If you or your children would like to page one of those days, please call my office to schedule. If you are curious to know or want to schedule to visit on another “session day” – the days when we’re in chamber voting on legislation – those dates are available online at

As always, if you have any questions or concerns about legislation, please do not hesitate to let me know. I am more than happy to answer your questions via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone at 404-656-0089. Thanks for the opportunity to serve you.        


February 11--  "Notes From the Senate" courtesy  of State Senator Jack Hill of Reidsville.


The Senate passed SB 25, clarifying 2018 legislation on passing a stopped school bus and correcting a drafting error from the bill.

A bill passed in the 2018 Session that changed state law concerning when a driver must stop for a stopped school bus.

Current law, as a result of that bill now holds that a driver on a divided highway need not stop for a school bus if the lanes are divided by a turn lane.

SB 25 removes the current language allowing vehicles to pass a stopped school bus if the highway is divided only by a turn lane and replaces this with language that a vehicle must stop unless there is a grass median, paved median or a barrier.

The bill also explains that violations will be adjudicated and punished according to the law as it existed at the time the violations occurred.


The Senate passed SR 19 which will create a commission to study Georgia's system of moving cargo to market. Logistics are vitally important and heavily impacts the ability of the ports of Georgia to compete worldwide and grow.

This commission will study Georgia's system of moving freight and develop funding objectives to continue to increase the efficiency of the state's system looking at things like alternative freight routes.

The Commission consists of 16 members, including members of the legislature, private citizens and the executive directors of both the Georgia Municipal Association and the Association of County Commissioner.

The Senate and House Transportation Chairmen will co-chair the Commission. The Commission will issue a report by December 31, 2019.


SB45: "Rural Georgia Jobs and Growth Act" would legalize horse racing in Georgia.

SB47: Retirement Benefits; provides creditable retirement service for military service members who have served at least two years since January 1, 1990.

SB48: Identifies and supports students in pre-kindergarten through 2nd grade with dyslexia. Provides teacher preparation programs for instruction relating to students with dyslexia.

SB54: 'Georgia Lottery for Veterans Act'; creates a lottery game whose proceeds will benefit veterans.

SB59: Changes current law so wiretapping is only legal when all members of the communication have given prior consent.

SB60: "Jeremy Nelson and Nick Blakely Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention Act"; Educates high school athletes about the nature and warning signs of sudden cardiac arrest, and prevents athletic activity under certain circumstances.

SB61: Exempts integrated surgery centers from certificate of need requirements.

SB66: "Streamlining Wireless Facilities and Antennas Act"; expands broadband by authorizing rural phone companies to offer broadband. Streamlines the deployment of wireless broadband in the public right of way. Also provides fees for permitting to collocate devices in a right of way.

SB67: Allows drawdown of K-12 capital outlay funding to complete restoration of fire or disaster damaged school buildings. Educational facilities that are more than 20 years old and are extensively destroyed or damaged by a fire or natural disaster can supplement insurance to rebuild all of the building, even undamaged parts. Expands low wealth category to include systems consolidating schools but lacking sufficient ESPLOST capability.

SB70: Raises the mandatory age of school attendance from 16 to 17 years old.

SB72: Changes the dates for hunting season to allow for an extended archery only season until January 31st. Raises the bag limit to 12 deer daily. Modifies the provisions related to hunting for wild hogs.

SB74: Eliminates a number of certificate of need (CON) requirements for all health care facilities except certain long- term care facilities. Expands the Rural Hospital Tax Credit to $100 million up from the existing $60 million.

SB77: Provides additional protections for government statues, monuments, plaques, banners, and other commemorative symbols.


SR66: Ratifies the Equal Rights Amendment, ERA, to the U.S. Constitution.


--Onion growers from Toombs, Tattnall, and Bulloch Counties, The Brew Pub Industry, 4H Members from Emanuel County, and hospital representatives from Emanuel, Evans, Candler, and Tattnall County, along with young artists from Bulloch County

February 11-- The Montgomery County Board of Commissioners will be closing Alston-Center Road due to road construction on March 3, 2019. The road will remain closed through March 15, 2019.

During the construction period, the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners recommends the following detour routes:

Detour for Eastbound Traffic Toward the Toombs County Line

Motorists in Montgomery County who travel eastbound towards Toombs County, on Alston-Center Road, will need to detour north on Georgia Highway 135 and travel to the intersection of Petross Road. At this intersection, motorists will turn east and travel eastbound on Petross Road to the intersection of Cedar Crossing-Vidalia Road. At this intersection, motorists will turn south and travel southbound on Cedar Crossing-Vidalia Road to the intersection of Lyons-Center Road.

Detour for Westbound Traffic toward the Montgomery County Line

Motorists in Toombs County who travel westbound toward Montgomery County, on Lyons-Center Road, will need to detour north on Cedar Crossing-Vidalia Road and travel to the intersection of Petross Road. At this intersection, motorists will turn west and travel westbound on Peteross Road to the intersection of Georgia Highway 135. At this intersection, motorists will turn south and travel southbound on Georgia Highway 135 continuing through the City of Alston to the intersection of Dees Street, also known as Alston-Center Road.

Signs directing motorists will be displayed throughout the detour routes.

Should you have any questions, please call the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners’ Office at 912-583-2363.

February 10--  Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits reports the following arrests.

Rowland, Austin Heath W/M 22 YOA / 705 Donovan St Apt C
Vidalia, GA/ No Insurance 1st (Misd) / Operating A Vehicle
While Registration Is Suspeneded , Cancelled Or Revoked
(Misd) / Driving While License Suspended Or Revoked 2nd
(Misd) / Seatbelt Violation (Misd)

Smith, Tyreece Anthony B/M 18 YOA / 706 Loop Rd Apt 606
Vidalia, GA / Possession Of A Controlled Substance (Fel)
/Controlled Substance Not In Original Container (Misd)

Foreman, Kylan J B/M 21 YOA/ 509 Durden St Vidalia, GA /
Bench Warrant (VPD)

Green, Shandon – B/M 30 YOA / 705 E First St, Rm 124
Vidalia, Ga / Theft by Deception

Reyes, Quinones Hector Javier – 124-2 Oak Grove Court
Lyons, Ga / DUI / Open Container

Shaw, Leanne Nicole W/F 32 YOA / 211 Pine St Vidalia, GA/
Bench Warrant (VPD)

Downs, Sean Matthew W/M 22 YOA / 410 Randolph Dr Apt
7D Vidalia, GA/ Simple Battery /FVA (Misd)

Brown, Ravin B/M 36 YOA / 119 Blake Dr Vidalia, GA /
Warrant Service (Probation Violation Toombs County)

Hill, Janet Louise W/F 65 YOA / 738 Browning Rd Ailey, GA /
Disorderly Conduct (Misd)

Brown, Quiesha D’Eaugera- B/F- 26 YOA- 213 Oak St.
Vidalia, GA- Simple Assault, Simple Assault, Battery, Willfully
Obstruction of Police Officer Simple/Verbal, Cruelty to
Children (FVA)

Page, Janette Kay- W/F- 39 YOA- 2694 GA Hwy 19 S Dublin,
GA- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense

Dixon, James Franklin- W/M- 32 YOA- 4384 Hwy 15 Vidalia,
GA- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense/Willfully Obstruction of
Police Officer Simple/Verbal

Rhymes, Hunter Wayne- W/M- 21 YOA- 108 Central Dr.
Vidalia, GA- Disorderly Conduct

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Sherri MacLeod, Lyons, cruelty to children, DUI,

Whitney Thigpen, Cobbtown, giving false info to officer, warrant served

Nathan Noe, Claxton, possession of drug related objects, no tag

 Maria Gonzalez, Lyons, driving unlicensed

Jimmy Johnson, Lyons, possession of marijuana

Tykeavis Walker, Vidalia, criminal warrant

Catrina Griffin, Reidsville, possession of drug related objects

Alonzo Carter, Jr., Lyons, warrant served

Tony Abler, Reidsville, DUI, tail lights

Earl Browning, Reidsville, DUI, possession of drug related objects

Cotrina Buckley, Reidsville, possession of drug related objects

Bobby Lewis, Lyons, DUI, headlights required

Martonia Cephus, Lyons, DUI, traffic violations

Juan Magallon, Lyons, DUI, traffic violations, open container, possession of a controlled substance

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Laderon Banks, Vidalia, possession of firearm or knife during commission of a crime; purchase, possession, manufacture, sale of drugs

Christoper Beasley, Mt. Vernon, aggravated assault and battery, possession of firearm or knife during commission of a crime, drug charges

Jerome Frazier, Savannah, probation violation

Joe Gillis, Jr., Lyons,parole violation, traffic violations

Paul Harden, Vidalia, possession of drug related objects

Eric Hester, Lyons, simple battery

Markesia Johnson, Vidalia, drug charges

Brandon Jones, Vidalia, giving false info to officers

Carl Jones, Swainsboro, possession of prohibited items - contraband

Christopher McKinney, Mt. Vernon, possession of drugs and firearms

Daisy Muns, Twin City, obstructing police, giving false information

Lonzo Skinner, Jr., possession of drugs and firearms

Joshua Troupe, Jr., possession of drugs and firearms

Shamaya Watson, Swainsboro, possession of firearms, drugs

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

01/28-Kristi Nicole Cross, Dublin, Felony Probation Violation

01/29-John Lewis Jackson, Ailey, Driving w/Suspended License, Stop Sign Violation

01/30-Shawn Mitchell Martinez, Cobbtown, Burglary-2nd

02/01-Brittney Lynn Burkett, Vidalia, Contempt of Court – Violation of Bond Order

02/02-Luis A. Rosario-Matos, Lyons, Driving w/Suspended License

February 8--  The new chairman of the Toombs-Montgomery Chamber of  Commerce has a long-term vision for the community.

patbrianPat Dixon accepted the chairman's gavel from outgoing Chairman Brian Bishop at the chamber's annual meeting, "You have definitely got to look ahead.  That's what the Georgia State Chamber is telling us to do and that's exactly what we're doing this year.  We've got to look ahead and educate our community.  We want to keep people in this community and that's what I'm going to strive for this year.  You may not see the results today, but you will see the results in the next ten years."

The new Chamber leader agrees with state Chamber leaders who say the place to start is with young people in elementary schools, "They are preaching to us that we need to get out today and work with our third graders and fifth graders so we can help them to go into a trade or college. We've got to grow entrepreneurs and you have to start them at an early age because they are our future leaders.  We need them to stay in our community and we have got to have things to offer them that makes them want to stay here, that's exactly what we want."

Dixon believes one of the best things the Chamber has done  is sponsorship of  Toombs-Montgomery Leadership classes and the Chamber recognized the program's coordinator, Debby Evans, for her 25 years of service to the program.

The 2019 Board of Directors includes (L-R) Chairperson Pat Dixon, Carol Stewart (AmericInn), Mike Hagan (Meadows Health), Jennifer Evans (Dot Foods), Executive Advisory Member Allen Rice (Savannah Luggage Works), Terry Thompson (The Temples Company), Steve McComas (Pineland Telephone Cooperative),  Chairman-Elect Tres Herin (Altamaha Bank & Trust), Mitch Johnson (Peoples Bank), Ross Kelly (Lovins Realty), Charles Faulk (Four Rivers Veterinary Center) and Allen Morris (Farmers Insurance Group).


February 8--  Montgomery County High School has named its Valedictorian and Salutatorian for the Class of 2019.


The Eagle Valedictorian is Adam Morris (L) and the Salutatorian is Zack Barrow.

February 8-- Vidalia Heritage Academy entered two high school chess teams in the Georgia Independent Christian Athletic Association chess tournament and both made it to the championship rounds with one making to the final round!  A parent overheard someone quip, “I reckon the only thing they do in Vidalia is pick Onions and play chess.”  Sweet Victory! 

vhachess19Team members Devin Burrell 8-0, Jackson Williamson 8-0, Gaige Brantley 7-1 and James Hagan 6-2 dominated their competitors. 

The middle school team made it to the quarter-finals and the elementary team went five rounds!  All played well!

The team is coached by Jim Beall, Assistant Professor of Education at East Georgia State College. 

East Georgia State College supports several chess programs in our region for both public and private schools. For more information contact Jim Beall at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

February 8--  Vidalia native Anne Kaufold-Wiggins is one of 25 people named by Governor Brian Kemp to serve on the state Judicial Nominating Commission. The Commission makes recommendations to the Governor to fill vacancies on state, superior and appellate courts in Georgia.

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

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

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

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

February 8--  State Representative Greg Morris of Vidalia reports from "The People's House."

New bills are starting to make their way through the House committee system. We are also beginning to hear on the effectiveness of some passed in previous sessions.

Rural Broadband. The House Economic Development and Tourism has approved legislation that authorizes EMCs to provide broadband service in rural Georgia. The bill clears up the uncertainty of state law governing EMCs on the subject and would give them the ability to access over $600 million in loans and grants from the federal government as well as $1.75 billion dollars in the new Farm Bill earmarked for rural broadband. The bill would prohibit EMCs from combining income from broadband services with their traditional revenue from electricity or using one income to subsidize the other. Neither would EMCs be allowed to disconnect service to broadband customers when they don’t pay their electric bill. This bill will move very fast.

Dual Enrollment. One of the best pieces of legislation the General Assembly passed in the last few years allows high school students with opportunities to get free college credits. To show how popular the program is look at how much it costs now. In fiscal 2015 the program cost 16 million. In the current fiscal year we will spend 105 million. It is kind of the same challenge we have with the popularity of the HOPE Scholarship. And when I said free I probably should use the word “earned”because we are investing a lot as taxpayers to fund dual enrollment. The Governor in his FY 2020 Budget has proposed two changes. The first is to limit dual enrollment to students in their junior and senior year. The second would limit the amount private colleges receive to offer dual enrollment to the average award that the states public colleges receive. Governor Kemp feels strongly that these moves are needed to ensure the long term viability of dual enrollment.

Hands Free /Cell Phones. According to the latest statistics, the bill that took effect in July prohibiting holding cell phones while driving is having a positive effect on safety. Traffic deaths fell 3.4% in 2018. The frequency of accidents involving injuries has also declined for the last three quarters. Some credit ,according to House Insurance Committee testimony , can be attributed to built in hands- free devices and automatic braking found on newer vehicles. The one bit of bad news is that although insurance claims have fallen, the costs of the claims have risen. That was primarily attributed to the higher costs of vehicles .

February 7--  The man indicted for the murder of a Vidalia men's store manager has entered a not guilty plea.

The arraignment for 29-year-old Tyrone Burns was held Thursday morning in Toombs County Superior Court nine days after he was indicted for the murder of 31-year-old Brooke Joiner last November at R.J. Pope's Menswear in Vidalia.  Members of her family were at the arraignment.

District Attorney Hayward Altman says a mental competency hearing for Burns is still pending.  At the time of his arrest, Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight said Burns admitted the crime and was not mentally incompetent.   He described Burns, who has three prior felony convictions in Florida, as street smart and able to "talk the talk."  He is being represented by a public defender.

The Toombs County grand jury which indicted Burns also returned 17 other indictments.

*Samuel Lee Hayes was indicted for obstruction of an officer by injuring a probation officer.

* Joseph Edward Cash was indicted for hijacking a motor vehicle.

* Anthony Ryan Dees was indicted on two counts of aggravated assault and one count of aggravated battery by attacking his mother Nellie and brother Eugene Hale with a sword.

* Hunter John Brannon was indicted for attempted murder, two counts of aggravated battery and one count of aggravated assault by stabbing Ashley Barron multiple times.

*Brandon Deon McCall was indicted on three counts of child molestation, aggravated sodomy and aggravated child molestation of a female under the age of 16.

*Danny Eugene Auvil was indicted for burglary of the Fairview Baptist Church in Lyons.

*Steve Barton was indicted for statutory rape, child molestation and enticing a child for indecent purposes to Vincent Faison Park in Lyons.

*David Lee Query was indicted for aggravated stalking and terrorist threats.

*  Daniel Joshua Lara was indicted for burglary at Walmart in Vidalia.

*Tiffany Nicole White was indicted on two counts of forgery and one count of burglary at the home of Mary Francis Carroll on Aimwell Road in Vidalia.

* Steve Atkins was indicted on two counts of burglary at Calvary Baptist Church on Aimwell Road in Vidalia and New Vision Ministries on Smith Street in Vidalia.

*Nancy Lahelen Hurst was indicted for aggravated battery and aggravated assault of Jesse Griffin.

*Eric Donte McRae was indicted for aggravated assault and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

*Caleb Marty Beasley was indicted for cruelty to children for whipping a child with a belt and causing extensive bruising.

* Darien Keith Mincey was indicted for armed robbery and aggravated assault.

February 6--  The 2019 STAR student at Montgomery County High School is Adam Morris.  He is in the top ten percent of his class and has the highest SAT score. 

mchsstar19Adam selected Mr. Ashley Lynn as his STAR teacher.

STAR students and teachers from area schools will be recognized Monday in ceremonies starting at seven p.m. at Vidalia High School.

The public is invited to honor the top students.

February 6-- U.S. Congressman Rick W. Allen (R-Ga-12) issued the following statement this evening after attending President Donald J. Trump’s 2019 State of the Union address in the House Chamber.

“Over the last year, Congress worked hand-in-hand with President Donald Trump to sign historic pieces of legislation into law that have unleashed the economic potential of America and helped secure our nation, from rolling back Dodd-Frank to combatting the opioid crisis to providing certainty to rural America in a 5-year Farm Bill.

On the heels of yet another jobs report exceeding market expectations, we are continuing to see the incredible results of the deregulation efforts and pro-growth policies implemented under a Republican-led majority.

“In tonight’s address, President Trump made it abundantly clear that we still have work that needs to be done. We must continue our fight to safeguard America’s national security interests, halt the influx of illegal immigration, drugs, and crime that pour into our country, enact school choice, and lower the skyrocketing costs of healthcare and prescription drugs due to the failures of Obamacare – and he’s asked both parties to join with him to accomplish these goals.

In calling for unity and compromise, he outlined compelling solutions that we can all rally behind, and I stand ready to work with President Trump and his Administration to accomplish his proactive agenda and continue choosing greatness for America.”

February 5--  Democrats in New York and Virginia have come out in favor of killing babies, infanticide, and Democrat Senator Patty Murray of Washington blocked an effort in the U.S. Senate to provide protections for any infants born alive after attempted abortion procedures.

Gady Youmans, Director of the Sweet Onion Christian Learning Center, reacted with the following.  It's long, but worth the read if you are concerned about the direction of our country and its abandonment of Christian principles.

"Ever wonder HOW or WHY someone can be okay with or even consider killing an infant inside or outside the womb? My students are asking these questions, so I thought I'd offer a take that I have YET to see on social media, the news media, or even from local pastors. So seriously, have you ever stopped to ask, "What logic or rational does one have to believe to make this make sense?" It's easy (and very true) to leave it at, "well, they are hard heart-ed to the truth of God's Word, therefore they are okay with this." But maybe  if we seek to understand this crisis in our culture we might can better minister to those on the opposing side of the sacredness of life.

"Let's start with history. Infanticide (the killing of infants), is not new to mankind. Pharaoh in Egypt, Herod in Israel, and even the Spartans and Romans did this. The Spartans and Romans would actually throw babies off of cliffs or into the trash mounds if any imperfection in them was found. If we flash forward to the slave trade of the America's (as was in any era) people were considered property and could do as they wished with their property, including infanticide.

"Let's move even closer to our day. Look at Hitler, before he killed 6 million Jews he had killed 100's of 1,000's of his own people due to their physical or mental disabilities, young and old. He saw those who were "lesser" as a drain on society, resources, and damaging to the reproductive gene pools. Therefore he exterminated men, women and children for pragmatic reasons.

"Now let's look at modern day America. Abortions are legal and post-birth abortions are being openly discussed. The most common theme of the argument you may read or hear from both sides is: A) The life is a child the moment of conception, its a PERSON! or B) It's the mother's body, it's her CHOICE!

"But have you ever stopped to think about these two polarized views? For someone in either camp it is impossible for them to understand the other it seems, which indicates a philosophical difference and a foundational starting point that needs to be addressed. The Scriptures tell us not to be carried away by false teachings/philosophies, so let me explain...

"Roe V. Wade legalized abortion in the United States for one reason: A child conceived was not a "PERSON" until birth. The US constitution gives the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to "PERSONS", and at the time, science was not advanced enough to verify that the life inside the mother's womb was a "person". Now you may think this is crazy, but keep following.

"The philosophical argument was this: Being human does not equate being a person. The foundation of this is a value statement. People have value, humans don't. Much like the Ancient Greek/Roman logic of the past, a person was not valuable unless they contributed to society, therefore if they were of no value then they could be treated how one desired. This thought process has lingered for millennium. Slave owners didn't view slaves as people, but as humans. Their value was in their human ability to do work that animals could not, but their person-hood was of no value to the slave owners life or perspective of society as an equal.

"God created all men equal. There is only one race, and its the HUMAN race. The Bible defines being humans as being a person and vice versa... so let me tie this back to our culture.

"Roe V. Wade made abortion possible, but then something happened. We mapped the human genome, we realized that at conception life takes its own unique DNA form with its own 23 pairs of chromosomes. It is no longer biologically the body of the mother, but a separate organism inside the mother. A single celled organism on Mars would be considered life because it is just that, and science has proven this. But it doesn't stop there, we can now detect heartbeats, track neurological processes such as pain and pleasure of fetuses in the womb, and even when a child is born in the 2nd trimester we can keep them alive and perfectly healthy due to medical advances. This has caused a problem for those who view the Human/Person dualism as their foundation.

"So it use to be an argument of:  
Person-hood (Human at birth has value) > Humanity (simply being a human)

"Now the argument as evolved to:
Person-hood (value of humanity based on feelings) > Humanity (simply being a human)

"What I mean is this, the liberal abortion and infanticide debate has lost their original argument because SCIENCE has proven that at conception a human is created and they are a person. However, they changed the argument to define a "person" based on what is pragmatic, just like the Ancient Romans/Greeks did.

"Think about it, if you hold the view that my "feelings" and my "desires" are all that matter, that that is what defines truth, then you are clearly sinning by committing idolatry. You have made yourself God, and you define value for everything based on your feelings. Romans 1 says that you are of a depraved mind, a mind that dwells on yourself instead of the Lordship of Jesus.

"If a person believes that VALUE comes from their feelings of what is valuable, then the logic of the abortion/infanticide becomes more understandable (yet still evil). They do not value the conceived child because it will hinder the lifestyle or professional goals of the mother. They do not value the child in the womb because due to rape the child will cause the family too much emotional harm. They do not value the child yet to be born because it will have some deformity that will be a drain on society, resources, and muddy the genetic pool in our world. (sounds like Hitler right?) Therefore ending the life of the HUMAN in the womb is okay because they are not a PERSON. They are not valuable in the eyes of the owner (mother) therefore they can do as they please with their property. 

"I hope that this is making sense, even as evil as it is. There is purpose to my telling you this. You see, while Christians believe in a dichotomy of Soul/Body, we believe that they are unified and that everything we do in one area (spiritual/physical) has an impact in the other. The Bible teaches that all humanity has value as each individual is created in the image of God.

"Let's keep going. Our society has accepted that truth is relative, and there are no absolutes. Morality is pragmatic, or whatever works best for the majority. Therefore the argument that women should be Pro-Choice is philosophically okay with them. Yet the problem is that now we are seeing the logical ends of this disastrous view of mankind. 

"Just like with Hitler, Stalin, the Romans, Slave owners, etc., when you view mankind as only valuable when it meets your needs or your view of "valuable", you are the sole definer of who deserves to live... Read that again... if WE define VALUE, then WE can decide WHO LIVES. This is the current state of this debate. But it gets worse!

"Infanticide is the killing of a child within the first year of its BIRTH (like outside the womb birth). The Gov. of VA, who is a medical doctor who has delivered babies, last week said that after a baby is born that the mother ought to have the right to decide whether or not she wants to keep the infant, and if not, then death is an option. This evil logic is predicated on the idea that a HUMAN is not VALUABLE, only PEOPLE have value, and a Human is not a Person unless you and I think that they have a value based on our pragmatic feelings towards that Human.

"History tells us where this will go next, and what I'm about to state is not a scare tactic, but the logical end of this reasoning AND the already proven history of those who carried it to it's logical end in practice.

"How much value does the elder have or do they devalue society or your life? How much value does the 7 year old little boy who is not in a vegetative state because of a car accident have? How much value does your spouse have who require medical treatments to survive and thrive, but cost a lot? Who gets to make these value judgments? Who gets to tell you and I how much value a human, a person, a man/woman made in the image of God has?... The government or the Lord Jesus?

"There may come a day when you and I are faced with the threat of being "put down like a dog" because the government sees no value in our life. It could come at the hand of a dictator or at the hand of a government run health care system that is struggling financially. (Remember the argument for death panels with Obama-Care? This is more than just a talking point now.) Or maybe you and I will be put down because our organs are valuable to some research facility and it just makes too much sense financially to not care this idea out in practice (Planned Parenthood anyone?).

"So What Do WE as Believers in Jesus Need to Do?

"Guys, we need to pray. If you are reading this, I thank you for taking the time. But you need to pray. Pray for darkness to be removed, for the blinders to be taken off, for the Holy Spirit to open hearts and minds. Pray that God would use you to take the fight for this world to the powers of darkness with a well articulated TRUTH only found in the message of Jesus Christ and His divine creation and sacredness of HUMAN life as PEOPLE created in HIS IMAGE at conception! 

"We can win this fight. Christians were the SOLE force responsible for the downfall of the hedonistic and devaluing of human life in the early church. Christians were the key then as they spread the Gospel and truths of God's Word, and if we will put our feet to the work, we can be the force that is empowered by the Holy Spirit again today to see a world where 60,000,000 babies don't have to die at the hands of "Choice".

February 5--  Students at J.R. Trippe Middle School in Vidalia are working on their writing through a new program of instruction and teachers are enthusiastic about what they're seeing in their classrooms.

Julie Caraballo is an 8th grade English Language Arts teacher and says, "I've told many people I wish I had learned this when I was growing up.  It would have helped me tremendously to write my own stories and to take standardized tests and know how to develop writing pieces of different types."

The curriculum is based on a program called "Calkins Reading and Writing Workshop," and Caraballo observes, "As we started to do some of the sessions, we saw the writing improve, we saw students writing longer pieces and putting some of their feelings into their writing.  They were able to really develop their thoughts and bring the writing to life through dialogue and different strategies we gave them.  We didn't realize quite how much it was going to give them a voice.  When they started writing their own stories and personal narratives, it was almost like therapy for some of our students.  They were very open and honest about things they've been through and I think it was really special for them to do that."

Caraballo also believes the more they write, the better they read, "Students are not going to become better writers if we don't give them the opportunity to write.  This is a month of writing every day, and then when you do a reading unit, they read fast and furiously.  We're challenging students to read 60 pages a day and we're seeing great strides with reading." she said.

"I think we're going to see great growth over the years and I feel like if we adopted this at the elementary level, we would see even better growth."

Julie reports some teachers at  Sally Meadows Elementary School are expected to run a pilot of the new instruction in the future.

February 4--  Concerted Services is a non-profit social services agency which has been serving citizens in southeast Georgia for years, but now it has a new name.

actionpactAction Pact leaders were guests of the Vidalia Rotary Club.  (L-R)  Executive Director Bryan Singleton, Toombs County Coordinator Scovia Paulk, Deputy Director Shelli Tyre, Rotary Club President Angie Holsinger McDaniel and program sponsor Kris Stovall.

Bryan Singleton is the Executive Director of what is now called Action Pact operating in 30 counties with a nearly $21 million budget funded primarily by the federal government.

"We certainly work closely with federal and state agencies.  That's where we receive the majority of our funding, but we're the ones doing the work day in and day out.  They allow us to do the work and the freedom to do what that community needs," he notes.

Action Pact is responsible for a myriad of programs including Head Start for pre-schooler's, Court Appointed Special Advocates for children and Meals on Wheels for seniors plus other programs.

The Action Pact coordinator for Toombs County is Scovia Paulk who knows from personal experience how the agency can help folks in need,"I actually had a cousin who said I'm going to take you to this place to help pay your light bill.  I had just lost my husband and didn't have any money and didn't have a job. They walked me into Concerted Services and I had no clue what it was.  They paid my light bill and I was sitting there and God told me 'Ask for an application.' Prideful, I wasn't going to do it, but I asked for an application and here I am today.  He always has a purpose, so whenever someone comes into my office, I can relate to where they are and it makes my job a little easier to help them and not to be ashamed to come and ask for assistance."

Senior citizens frequent the Action Pact Senior Citizens Center in the Vidalia Community Center and Paulk says volunteers who spend time with them get more out of it than the senior citizens do, "I don't think the realize once they are able to give them just a smile for the day, it touches their hearts and they usually want to come back because they get fulfillment from it."

If you can help volunteer an hour or so, contact Scovia at 537-0453 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

February 1--  Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits reports the following arrests.

Mendez, Eliseo - W/M 28 YOA/ 1693 E Hwy 30 Glenwood,
GA. / No Driver’s License, No Proof of Insurance.

Knight, Danny Lee Jr B/M 32 YOA / 406 Ward St Apt C
Vidalia, GA / State Court Violation

Delegal,Althonia Leonard B/M 29 YOA/ 1208 Easter Dr Bld 1
Apt 14 Vidalia, GA/Probation Violation (VPD)

Kersey, Justin Lyle- W/M- 25 YOA- 214 Davis Road Vidalia,
GA- Theft by Shoplifting 2nd Offense

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Cheyenne Moore, Lyons, no insurance, license suspended-revoked, tail light, warrant served

Lucy Lopez, Lyons, driving unlicensed, failure to obey traffic control device

Charles Hunnewell, Lyons, possession of controlled substance/drug related objects, crossing guard line with weapon, intoxicants or drugs

Brittany Whitaker, Lyons, possession of drug related objects

Kristen DeLoach, Statesboro, DUI, traffic violations, no license on person

Jason Powell, Uvalda, DUI, possession of drug related objects, no insurance

Loren Evans, Lyons, warrant served, license suspended/revoked, traffic violation

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Dewey Altman, Hazlehurst, 8 counts theft by receiving stolen property, 2 counts entering automobile, 2 counts burglary

Franklin Boone, Lyons, warrant failure to appear

Rodney Burns, Vidalia, DUI, speeding, open container

Ronald Collins, Vidalia, theft by receiving stolen property

Treyon Day, Vidalia, probation violation

Charlie Glisson, Uvalda, purchase, possession, manufacture, distribution and sale of methamphetamine, driving with suspended/revoked license

James Hawkins, Lyons, probation violation

Anthony Heard, Vidalia, theft by taking

Amber Hitchcock, Augusta, DUI

Terry McCllelland, Vidalia, DUI, traffic violations

Nathalie Medlock, Statesboro, probation violation

Deandre Pryor, Vidalia, Hands Free violation, traffic violations

Kreyland Richards, Soperton, traffic violations,giving false information to officer, hold for Wilkinson Co

Jeffrey Scott, Vidalia, 5 counts theft by receiving stolen property

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

01/21-Adrain Fields, Uvalda, Theft by Taking

01/23-John Austin Campbell, Vidalia, Possession of Methamphetamine w/Intent, Possession of Marijuana <1oz., Parole Violation

01/23-Pamela Howell Miller, Tarrytown, Possession of Methamphetamine w/Intent, Possession of Marijuana <1oz.

01/24-Larry Donnelle Brady, Hinesville, Trafficking in Methamphetamine

campbellThe on-going effort to fight drug trafficking in Montgomery County continued this week with two arrests. On Wednesday, January 23rd, a search was executed by the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and the Oconee Drug Task Force on the 143 Campbell Lane, Vidalia, home of John Austin Campbell where Methamphetamine was found. Campbell was arrested and charged with Possession of Methamphetamine w/Intent to Distribute and Possession of Marijuana <1oz. He is currently on parole and the State Board of Pardons and Paroles issued a Parole Violation warrant as a result of these new charges.

bradyThe following day, Larry Donnell Brady of Hinesville was arrested and charged with Trafficking in Methamphetamine. This drug arrest resulted from a routine traffic stop and subsequent search of his vehicle where over 28 grams of Methamphetamine was seized. The estimated street valve of the Methamphetamine from these arrests is valued at $ 2,500.00.

February 1--  Lyons Primary School has named its "Students of the Month" for February.


Pre K:  Left to right: Christian Gonzalez, Carter Bridges, Cristiano Espinosa, Lucas Perez, Aranza Gonzalez-Solorano


Kindergarten:  Front: Lizbeth Garcia, Blayce Bacon

Back: Jahchris Kinsey, Pete Lewis, Braiden Carter, Randy Espinoza Missing Zaine Creamer, Liliana Maldonado, Jayci Wheeler

February 1--Georgia Republican Congressman Tom Graves,  a member of the bipartisan Conference Committee to secure the border, issued the following statement on the Democrat’s opening offer regarding construction of a wall on the country's southern border with Mexico.

“One week ago today, we reached a deal to open the government and begin border security negotiations. I was optimistic about our ability to strike a deal and restore confidence in the legislative process.

“In one week’s time, the committee has met once for routine opening remarks. In that meeting, all parties expressed an intent to engage with open minds and in good faith. However, it came to light afterward that Democrats had already written a bill with zero funding for the wall. A bill summary was finally released yesterday, but the 70+ pages of legislative text are still being kept secret from the public.

“We are two weeks away from the next government shutdown. The House adjourned until Tuesday. There are no meetings scheduled. Yesterday, Speaker Pelosi drew a hard line on wall funding, effectively ending negotiations. Democrats have fallen in line and reduced their wall funding position from $1.6 billion to zero. Is that negotiating in good faith?

“The country was led to believe this would be a real negotiation. It’s not too late to turn this around and get back on track. I urge Democrats to put forward a legitimate offer that includes wall funding. President Trump and Republicans put forward offers that attempted to meet in the middle. It’s time for Democrats to negotiate in good faith.”

February 1--  In response to a request for information, Vidalia City Manager Nick Overstreet confirmed that Vidalia Recreation Department Director Homer Waller has resigned after little more than a year on the job.

He said the department's operations manager, Matt Smith, has been named interim director while the city evaluates its personnel needs over the next couple of months.  Overstreet expressed the "utmost confidence in Matt Smith's ability to lead our recreation department."

Homer Waller was hired in October, 2017 to succeed Tommy Sasser when he retired the end of that year.  In the same period, Smith was hired to succeed Gary Adams who retired as the Assistant Recreation Department Director.  Smith made the move to Vidalia from the Laurens County Recreation Department.

January 31--  Vidalia's newest restaurant held a ribbon-cutting Thursday at its new home on Highway 280 East.


In the center, Vidalia Mayor Ronnie Dixon with owner's Jennifer and Lee Evans.

January 31--  A report from the state Capitol by State Representative Greg Morris of Vidalia.

The 2019-2020 Session of the General Assembly is now underway. The beginning of a new Legislature and the swearing in of a new Governor includes a lot of ceremony but now we have to get down to work on some very pressing issues. I will go into detail on those in subsequent articles. These are the highlights of the first week.

Inaugural/Swearing In. For the first time since 1999, I missed the opening day of the Legislature. The week before, I came down with a case of acute diverticulitis and was hospitalized in an Atlanta hospital. (I won’t go into detail, but trust me, don’t get it). I was sworn in on Tuesday in the House Chamber by Supreme Court Justice John Ellington. I also need to thank Caleb Williams of Montgomery Co. for standing in and holding the Bible while I took the oath. Caleb was one of a group of students who was visiting the Chamber at the time of my swearing in. Another Legislator who missed the swearing in was Agriculture Chairman Tom McCall of Elberton. He was sworn in by a local judge in a hospital bed just before being sent into surgery for triple bypass surgery on his heart.

Committee Assignments. House Speaker David Ralston reappointed me as Chairman of the House Banks and Banking Committee. My committee will hear all bills affecting banks both big and small, as well as independent loan companies and credit unions. I will also remain on the Appropriations, Rules, and Natural Recourses and Environment Committees. I will go into detail what these committees do in later reports.

Issues/What to Expect. I can only talk in broad detail about issues. Of course, there are the continuing challenges of healthcare, rural economic development and education. Bills affecting these issues are being introduced and assigned to committees, the most important being the mid-year budget and the 2020 Budget. Governor Kemp has called for specific spending, including a $3,000 dollar pay raise for teachers, a 2% raise for state employees and 30,000 dollars for each school in Georgia to invest in school security. Passing good conservative legislation in the House was not made easier by the November elections. Just like our pollsters predicted this summer, we had our rear ends handed to us, losing eleven Republican seats mostly in Gwinnett, Henry, and Cobb counties. It will be practically impossible to get 120 votes needed to pass constitutional amendments. We still have a clear majority though, and should be able to prevent bad legislation from passing.

Contact Information. My office is in the Capitol, Rm. 226 on the second floor. My administrative assistant is Donna Harley, and my office number is 404-656-5115. My cell number is 912-293-0725 and my e-mail is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

January 31--  It's tough times for many farmers in Georgia thanks in part to Mother Nature, government action and congressional inaction.

The Dean of the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences was in Toombs County with the college's annual AG Forecast and said it's a long road back for farmers in Southwest Georgia hit by last Fall's hurricane, "A lot of farmers depend on that cash flow and some of our farmers lost their entire cotton crop this year.  One of the saddest stories I heard was a farmer who'd been in business 45 years, had the best cotton crop he's ever had and didn't pick single acre."

ugadeanDean Sam Pardue is hopeful tariffs initiated by the Trump administration will be advantageous to Georgia farmers in the long run, but in the meantime, it's hurting sales overseas.  "We'd like to see a level playing field in the international markets.  China is the largest importer of soybeans and if we're not selling soybeans to China. our friends in Argentina and Brazil will be happy to provide those.  It's created some challenges for us.  I know our pecan producers in the last several years have sold tremendous amounts of pecans to China, but less so this year.  We're hoping eventually those things will workout and in the long run we'll be more successful," he said.

And then there's the old bugaboo of farm labor. 

"Everyone in the current administration and many in Congress want to see immigration reform so we can have worker visa programs.  Nothing is more frustrating than to have a great crop and not be able to get it out of the field because of a lack of labor.  I read an article recently where in California they were offering $20 an hour and still were struggling to get people.  It's hard work.  That's a challenge we have and that drives a lot of desire for mechanization," Dean Pardue observed.