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March 31-- This week the GBI issued three more murder warrants in the deaths of Wayne and Mercedes Hackle and Bobbie Lynn Moore.  Investigators added malice murder charges against Keyante Greene who previously had  been charged with concealing the death of another person.

KeyantagreenKeyante Greene (left)        jonathanvann

Jonathan Vann (right)


Nashville, GA (March 28, 2019) – On Thursday, March 28, 2019, the GBI obtained additional arrest warrants for Keyante Greene. Greene was charged with two counts of malice murder for the deaths of Wayne Hackle, Jr. and Bobbie Lynn Moore in Atkinson County, Georgia. In Berrien County, Georgia, Greene was charged with one count of malice murder for the death of Mercedes Hackle. The GBI Medical Examiner’s Office in Macon, GA has also confirmed the identities of the remains as W. Hackle, Jr., B. Moore, and M. Hackle.

Nashville, GA (March 15, 2019) – On Friday, March 15, 2019, the GBI obtained arrest warrants for Jonathan Vann and Keyante Greene. Vann was charged with two counts of malice murder for the deaths of Wayne Hackle, Jr. and Bobbie Lynn Moore in Atkinson County, Georgia. In Berrien County, Georgia, Vann was also charged with one count of malice murder for the death of Mercedes Hackle and for arson in regards to the burned vehicle. Greene was charged with two counts of concealing the death of another person in relation to Wayne Hackle, Jr. and Bobbie Lynn Moore in Atkinson County. Greene was also charged with one count of concealing the death of another person in relation to Mercedes Hackle in Berrien County.

Nashville, GA (March 15, 2019) – On Thursday, March 14, 2019, the GBI recovered the remains of the third missing individual.  Kayante Greene, 25, was arrested for charges related to the death of the three individuals.  Efforts are still being made to positively identify the remains.


Nashville, GA (March 14, 2019) – On Wednesday, March 13, 2019, the GBI arrested Jonathan Douglas Vann, 20, of Nashville, in connection to the disappearance of three persons and subsequent death of two of them. The two deceased are not yet positively identified. The third person is still missing.

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Office requested the GBI to assist with the missing persons investigation following the discovery of a vehicle on fire. On Tuesday, March 12, 2019, at approximately 5:30 a.m., the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene of a vehicle on fire in the area off Highway 135 at the Alapaha River near the Atkinson County line in Berrien County. As a result of the investigation, it was determined that the car was being used by Bobbie Lynn Moore, 22. Further investigation determined that Moore, Ronnie Wayne Hackle, Jr., 27, and Mercedes Maelyn Hackle, 17, were not responding to attempts to make contact. The GBI, with the assistance of the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office, Atkinson County Sheriff’s Office, Georgia State Patrol, and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, have since located the remains of two individuals whose identities have not yet been confirmed. The remains are being sent to the GBI Medical Examiner’s Office in Macon, GA, for autopsy and identification. Vann was booked into the Berrien County Jail.

The investigation is active and ongoing. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office at (229) 686-7071 or the GBI Douglas Office at (912) 389-4103.

by State Senator Jack Hill of Reidsville


Both the House and the Senate agreed on a conference committee report of the FY 2020 General Budget for the State to begin July 1, 2019.

The final agreement featured a $3000 pay raise for Georgia's teachers and other certified school personnel including counselors and librarians. This raise will begin July 1, 2019 and will become part of the teacher pay scale.

This is a $530.8 million budget addition and will raise the starting state base teacher pay from $34,092 to $37,097.


Also included in the FY 2020 General budget is a 2% increase for state employees, Board of Regents faculty and employees, TCSG faculty and employees and non-certified school personnel.

Additionally, the Public School Employees Retirement System benefit for non-certified school employees like school bus drivers and school cafeteria employees was increased by .25 to $15.50 per month for each year of service.


The horrible torture and murder of two children in Effingham County caused a re-examination of the process of children being withdrawn from school. HB 530 attempts to create a failsafe if parents might be withdrawing children for reasons other than homeschooling. It requires the Georgia Department of Education to provide local school systems with the required Declaration of Intent by parents to utilize a home study program. If a withdrawn child is out 45 days and there is no transfer or declaration, it requires the Division of Family and Children Service to conduct an assessment. This bill now awaits the governor's signature.


HB 130: Authorizes the Georgia Foundation of Public Education to establish a nonprofit corporation to qualify as a public foundation.

HB 310: Requires the Department of Insurance to submit a report on autism coverage to the General Assembly by June 15, 2019, and annually by June 15 thereafter.

HB 344: Exempts property owned by public charities like Habitat for Humanity that is held exclusively for the purpose of building or repairing single-family homes from ad valorem property taxes. This bill is subject to approval by the electors of the entire state in the November 2020 election.


HB 26: Joins Georgia to the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact for psychologists to practice telepsychology and practice face-to-face temporarily in the state for up to 30 days. Authorizes the State Board of Examiners of Psychologists to conduct background checks.

HB 287: Creates a new income tax credit for licensed physicians, advanced practice registered nurses, and physician's assistants who provide uncompensated preceptorship training to medical students, advanced practice registered nurse students, or physician's assistants students.

SB 118: Requires insurers to cover the cost of healthcare services provided through telemedicine and telehealth. Prevents insurers from having an annual maximum on coverage for telemedicine or telehealth services other than the maximum that applies to the aggregate of all items and services covered under the policy.


HB 91: Allows the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to retain fingerprints when an agency is participating in the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's program.

HB 227: Prohibits insurers from denying or refusing to insure a victim of sexual assault. Adds provisions to protect victims of sexual assault in the same ways that victims of family abuse are protected.

HB 281: Increases the penalty for pimping and pandering so the second offense is considered a felony punishable by a term of imprisonment of one to ten years. Requires that the penalty for a person who is found guilty of keeping a place of prostitution, pimping, and pandering where the offense involves the conduct of a person under the age of 16 to require both a term of imprisonment of ten to thirty years and a fine of up to $100,000.


HB 83: Requires schools to schedule 30 minutes of daily recess for students between kindergarten and fifth grade.

HB 266: Raises the allowable state income tax deduction for contributions to the Georgia Higher Education Savings Plan from $2000 to $4000.

SB 167: Allows for DFCS to stop considering a relative of a child as a placement option if they have failed to demonstrate an interest in and willingness to provide a permanent home for a child for a period of six months. Allow for a child who has been with his or her caregivers for a period of 12 months to be allowed to remain in the care of those caregivers if it is in the child's best interest, and requires that a change of placement is a failure by DFCS to make reasonable efforts to finalize the permanency plan.

Full transcripts of bills may be found at Simply type the bill number into the box at the top left-hand corner of the screen and specify if it is in the House or the Senate. The FY 2019 budget (HB 30) may be found at As always, I welcome any questions you may have.

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

Herrera, Calvin – W/M – 22 YOA – 1703 NE Saron Dr, Vidalia / Simple Battery

Gaffney, Antonio – B/M – 37 YOA – 801 Thompson St Ext., Vidalia / Criminal Trespass, False Report of a Crime

Bolin, William Gabriel Andrew W/M 18 YOA/ 1153 Hwy 152 Lyons, Ga/Shoplifting (1st Offense) (Misd)

Johnson,Dianna Zelea W/F 18 YOA 1153 Hwy 152 Lyons, Ga / Shoplifting (1st Offense) (Misd)

Telfair,Tamorria Alexis B/F 18 YOA 910 Georgia St. Vidalia, Ga /Crimnal Damage to Property 2nd Degree(Felony)

Higno, Brilly Yosuani- H/F- 23 YOA- 702 Donovan Street Vidalia, GA- No Driver’s License, Failure to Yield Right of Way

Ramsey, Gerald Dwayne- W/M- 42 YOA- 2123 Shorty Johnson Road Marshalville, GA- Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (First), Operating a Vehicle While Registration is Suspended, Canceled or Revoked

Davis, Chris Mitchell W/M 45 YOA/ 456 Hillsboro Cemetary Rd Lyons, Ga / Probation Warrant (Tattnall Co)

Kitchens, Alicia Lynns W/F 52 YOA/ 3963 Tower Cir Cobbtown, Ga/DUI 1st Offense

Booth, Jerry Dustin W/M 45 YOA/ 119 Country Estates Blvd Vidalia, Ga/ DUI 1ST Offense (Misd)

Conner, Joshua Wayne W/M 37 YOA/ 2229 Sawmill Rd Ailey, GA/ Bench Warrant (VPD)

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Jeremy Summersett, Vidalia, DUI, possession of drug related objects, expired tag, windshield and stopping in roadway violations

Tony Kight, Lyons, false imprisonment, public drunkeness, criminal trespass, simple assault

Christopher McCoy, Vidalia, warrant served

Cassandra Bryant, Lyons, DUI

Nechelle Bacon, Claxton, DUI, possession of marijuana, traffic violations

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Barbie Birkheimer, Lyons, battery

Ronald Collins, Vidalia, hold for Emanuel County

Charles Cowart, Lyons, hold for Houston County

Daquan Daniels, Vidalia, possession of marijuana

Jason Durrence, Metter, probation violation

Richard Heyward, Savannah, failure to appear, obstruction/resisting arrest, giving false info to officer, traffic violations

Charlie Johnson, East Dublin, fraudulent insurance claims, conspiracy to commit crime

Valerie Jordan, Vidalia, bench warrant

James Ogletree, Uvalda, probation violation

Benjamin Paul, Lyons, failure to appear

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

03/17-Tykeavius Desmond Walker, Vidalia, Speeding, Possession of Marijuana <1oz., Possession of Cocaine, Obstruction of Officer, Burglary -2nd (3 counts), Theft by Taking (3 counts), Theft by Receiving Stolen Property (3 counts)

03/17-Quadir Jamaal Harris, Vidalia, Possession of Marijuana <1oz., Possession of Cocaine Burglary -2nd (3 counts), Theft by Taking (3 counts), Theft by Receiving Stolen Property (3 counts)

03/18-Hunter Wayne Rhymes, Mt Vernon, Burglary – 1st, Theft by Taking, Criminal Damage to Property – 2nd

03/22-Roberta Tonya Gerald, Ambrose, Ga., Stop Sign Violation, Driving w/Suspended License, Expired Tag

03/22-James Clay Ogletree, Uvalda, Misdemeanor Probation Violation

03/24-Meressa Ann Hunter, Monroe, Ga., Possession of Marijuana w/Intent, Crossing Guard Lines with Weapons/Drugs/Intoxicants, Items Prohibited for Possession by Inmates

03/24-D’Quan Montrell English, Monroe, Ga., Possession of Marijuana w/Intent, Crossing Guard Lines with Weapons/Drugs/Intoxicants, Items Prohibited for Possession by Inmates

March 27-- Falyn Holland, a junior at Toombs County High School, was chosen by Altamaha EMC to go on the Washington Youth Tour.

toombsauthorFalyn is among the top scorers on a written exam and successfully completed an interview to be selected. She hopes to use the experience to help her become a leader in our community where she already serves as a member of Beta Club and FCCLA. Congratulations to Falyn and her proud parents, Jonathon and Teresa Holland .

Each year each Electric Membership Cooperative in the state selects three deserving juniors and seniors for an all-expense paid trip to learn more our nation's government, build leadership skills, and meet with political representatives.

Young Author Winner

Zaida Maldonado, a senior at TCHS, competed against 12th graders from 18 counties to win the Coastal Young GA Authors Writing Competition.

tchszaidaZaida with literature teachers Megan Morris and Dr. Joseph Depenhart, assistant principal.

Her writing skills have also helped her earn the Goizueta Scholarship, a $10,000 award which will fund her first of year college at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College.

She plans on joining her brother and sister at ABAC in the fall, where she will study Agribusiness. 

March 28--  Lyons native Jackie Alexander is the 2019 Lyons Citizen of the Year and is the sixth woman to be so named since the Lyons Merchants Association started the annual recognition program in 1971.

jackiealexanderMrs. Alexander accepts award from last year's honoree Ramon Powell who praised her accomplishments and community service.

She told those gathered at the ceremony Thursday night, "I certainly don't feel deserving of this award, but I am so grateful to be in the league with Jane Benton, she's one of my mentors, and with Nan Price, Roy Stewart and others like John Adams and Wayne Smith and I just thank you very much.  I just can't tell you in words, I'm just so overwhelmed and humbled."

Mrs. Alexander loves her hometown, "I grew up here and have watched children grow up and I love everybody here and I love my hometown and wouldn't want to be anywhere else," and she also hopes the younger generation will seek to serve the community, "That would be my long time wish for young people, to learn how to love others and to serve others."

Five other women who have been recognized at the Lyons Citizen of the Year include Jane Benton in 2005, Nan Price in 2011, Sabrina Campbell in 2013, Kathy Mann in 2014 and Carolyn Cooper in 2016.

March 27--  Last year the Georgia Forestry Commission purchased two aircraft for dropping water on forest fires and the planes came to Vidalia Regional Airport to demonstrate their capabilities to area fire departments.

fireplanesClay Chatham is the Chief of Air Operations for the Georgia Forestry Commission, "These are what we call initial attack platforms and they are most beneficial early.  If we can get on the fire as quickly as possible, we can hopefully slow it down and allow the firefighters on the ground to get in there and do their work," he says.

Many of us have seen the large multi-engine aircraft dropping up to 10,000 gallons of water and fire retardant on the big fires that plague California.  Chatham says the Fire Commission's new planes are much the same, but with a capacity of only 500 gallons per flight, "It's very similar in principle to what you've seen on the news.  It's the same thing but on a smaller scale.  This allows us to deliver more water more quickly and get on that fire to extinguish it as quickly as possible."

Chatham and his pilots brought the aircraft to Vidalia and met with area firemen, "Our purpose is to let local fire departments know what we can do and to ask for their support when we come to work in Toombs and Montgomery counties.  If we come here, we'll need them to help us get water so we can help them fight wildfires."

The Fire Commission has been using helicopters for years, however, Chatham says they can only handle 200 gallons of water.  The single-engine fixed wings planes were made in Georgia, "This is a Thrush 510-G made in Albany, Georgia, an 800-shaft aircraft that goes about 160 miles per hour and we can be most anywhere in Georgia in about an hour," Chatham said.

March 26--  Not-For-Profit hospitals in Georgia like Meadows Regional Medical Center in Vidalia could be required to provide more financial data to the public under a proposal offered by State Senator Blake Tillery of Vidalia.

According to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, the Senate Finance Committee approved a Medicaid funding bill that would:

*require detailed financial statements, patient revenue details and the location/price of the land they own.

*require the listing of how much money they have in the bank.

*require an accounting of the salaries and fringe benefits of their ten highest paid administrators.

*require release of details from questionnaires and audits of programs.

Senator Tillery was quoted as saying he introduced the bill to add a "little bit of transparency" for hospitals.

Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan supported the disclosure requirements on Twitter and said, "Are big Atlanta hospital conglomerates really going to oppose $900 million of Medicaid dollars because they're opposed to basic transparency?  If so, it makes you wonder what they are hiding."

March 26--Yesterday evening U.S. Congressman Rick W. Allen (R-GA-12), on the House floor, asked Democratic leadership for unanimous consent for the full House of Representatives to consider H.R. 962, the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, of which Congressman Allen is an original cosponsor. This legislation would require any health care practitioner present at the time a child is born alive after an attempted abortion to provide the same care that they would for any other child. This marks the 20th time that House Republicans have asked for consideration of H.R. 962, and each time, House Democrats have refused.

Speaker: For what purpose does the gentleman from Georgia seek recognition?

Congressman Allen: Mr.Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that the Committee on Judiciary be discharged from further consideration of H.R. 962, the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, and ask for its immediate consideration in the House.

Speaker: Under guidelines consistently issued by successive speakers as recorded in section 956 of the House rules and manual, the Chair is constrained not to entertain the request unless it has been cleared by the bipartisan floor and committee leaderships.

Congressman Allen: Mr. Speaker, if this unanimous consent request cannot be entertained, I urge the Speaker and the Majority Leader to immediately schedule the Born-Alive bill so we can stand up and protect the sanctity of human life, and I would ask all others to join in that request.

March 26--  The City of Soperton is buying real estate to improve the looks of its downtown, according to Mayor Royce Fowler, "It shows pride in the community.  We may be a small town, but we have a big heart."

sopertonbldgsAt its March meeting, the city council agreed to pay owner John Ellington $67,000 for five vacant storefront buildings in the downtown area.

Mayor Fowler says the move is part of an ongoing effort, "We need to do all we can through either negotiation, donation, direct purchase or whatever is necessary to get ourselves as far as local government in a position to remedy some of the dilapidated spots in what we consider downtown.  However, at some point in time, we have to be realistic and let the burden be placed on the landowner.  We can't go all over town and purchase every piece of property that we think is not up to par."

Mayor Fowler says the city will remove the buildings, "There will be nothing there but bare ground and we'll plant grass on it and stabilize it until at some point in the future we get ready to do something with it or somebody else does."

March 26--  After this year's Southeast Georgia Soap Box Derby in May, Derby officials are planning to mount a capital fund drive to erect a Derby building at Partin Park in Lyons where Derby races are held.

Currently the Derby is using space at the former Lyons Upper Elementary School building at the intersection of Highways 152 and 292, but it's not practical, according to Derby Chairman Matt Driggers, "Throughout the year, we're housing about 50 cars and our equipment including four trailers, sound equipment, scales and all that and we have to move that across town for races.  We might be out of this building in another month and in another building, so we need our own permanent place."

Lyons City Manager Jason Hall says the Lyons Main Street Program is donating $10,000 to kick start the campaign which has a goal of $40,000.

March 25--  One man was shot about 2:30 o'clock Saturday morning at Raymonia Apartments in Vidalia.

According to Vidalia police, 35-year-old Lavoris Nails of Vidalia suffered a gunshot wound to the abdomen while in the breezeway near Apartment 77 at Raymonia.

That apartment is the home of Nails' girlfriend, Shaneiqua Ford, who told police she heard gunshots and walked out on the breezeway and found Nails.

She drove him to the emergency room at Meadows Regional Medical Center.

Nails told police he did not know who shot him.

March 25--  Two Vidalia men are under arrest in connection with break-ins at three businesses in Higgston.

According to Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin, Elaine's Hair Salon, Hot Spots Tanning and Jackson Payroll were burglarized overnight March 15.

On the night of March 17, a deputy sheriff stopped a speeding vehicle in Mount Vernon and smelled the strong odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle.  A search turned up a .32 caliber revolver, an AR-15 and AR-22 rifles, cocaine, marijuana and tools and clothing used in the Higgston burglaries.

mocowalkerThe driver of the car, Tykeavius Walker, is charged with speeding, possession of cocaine and marijuana, three counts each of burglary, theft by taking, theft by receiving stolen property and obstruction of an officer.

mocoharrisQuadir Harris is charged with possession of cocaine and marijuana, three counts each of burglary, theft by taking and theft by receiving stolen property.

Montgomery County officers met with Vidalia police and executed two search warrants in Vidalia which recovered more evidence from burglaries and thefts in Montgomery County and Vidalia.

Vidalia police are charging Walker with criminal damage to property for an attempted break-in at the ATM at Vidalia Federal Savings Bank and report more changes may be filed as their investigation continues.

Sheriff Maybin commended Deputies Justin Phillips and Jeffrey Taylor for taking the time to go beyond a traffic stop to recover items that led to the arrest of those responsible for the Higgston burglaries.


March 25-- Due to the increase of technology, Tom Meredith and Riley McDonald of Meredith Industries are looking for more skilled workers.  They hosted a recent tour of their manufacturing plant in Vidalia to broaden the students’ knowledge of the manufacturing arena. 

Potential work-based learning students of Mrs. Donna Collins at Southeastern Early College and Career Academy will have opportunities to interview for jobs as machine operators, graphic designers, and mechanics.  According to Mrs. Collins, “This is a wonderful opportunity for our students.  It is manufacturers like Meredith Industries that allow our students to get a first-hand look at opportunities available in our community and hopefully become gainfully employed.” 

seccameridithHeli Patel, Reagan McDonald, Drake Schnelle,  Riley McDonald, Kayla Horne, Jaheim Robinson, Tom Meredith, Emmanuel Hampton, Kaylie Gunter, Shamiya Beauchamp, Dalton Schnelle, Princess Knowles,  and India Snell.

March 25--  As reported last week, Meadows Regional Medical Center has received $200,000 from Ameris Bank as part of the Georgia HEART Hospital Program which allows taxpayers to take a tax credit for contributions to rural and critical care hospitals throughout the state.

amerisbankdonationAt the check presentation are (L-R) Ameris Bank Board Member Chris Hopkins, Ameris Bank Branch Manager/Lyons Michelle Dixon, Ameris Bank Branch Manager/Vidalia Lisa Strickland, Ameris Bank Board Member Pollyann Martin, Meadows Regional Medical Center President & CEO Alan Kent and Ameris Bank Board Member Jeff McClain.

“We are truly grateful for this donation from Ameris Bank,” said Alan Kent, Meadows Regional Medical Center President & CEO. “So many rural hospitals in Georgia are struggling. This donation helps ensure our neighbors will continue to have quality, lifesaving medical care right here in Vidalia.”

Along with Meadows Regional Medical Center receiving support from the bank are Colquitt Regional Medical Center in Moultrie, Liberty Regional Medical Center in Hinesville, Coffee Regional Medical Center in Douglas, Irwin County Hospital in Ocilla, Tift Regional Medical Center in Tifton, and Appling Healthcare in Baxley.

lostpupMarch 25-- “Help, I’m lost!” 

This handsome fella was found at Four Rivers Veterinary Center in Vidalia this weekend, and now he needs help to find his way home!

If you recognize this pup or know to whom he may belong, please contact Four Rivers at 912-535-8165, or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

by State Senator Jack Hill of Reidsville


A recent State Supreme Court Case, Elliot v. State, ruled that under the Georgia Constitution it is a person's right against self-incrimination to refuse a breathalyzer test in criminal cases, which prevents prosecutors from bringing up a refusal to take a breathalyzer in trial.

House Bill 471 updates the script that an arresting officer must read when arresting a person suspected of DUI, hunting under the influence or operating watercraft under the influence. When arresting a person suspected of DUI, the arresting officer must state that the privilege to drive on Georgia's highways is stated upon the person's submission to chemical tests of blood, urine, breath, or other bodily substances and notes that the driver's refusal to submit to a blood or urine test may be offered into evidence against the driver at trial. If they are found guilty of driving under the influence after refusing to submit to a state administered chemical test, their license will be suspended for a minimum of one year.


HB 168: Extends the sunset by five years for tax exemptions from sales and use taxes regarding the sales or use of tangible personal property to nonprofit health centers like FQHC's.

HB 185: Includes banks and credit unions chartered by states other than Georgia, national banks, federal credit unions, and federal savings and loan association under the definition of "financial institution" if they have federal deposit insurance. Allows the Department of Banking and Finance to obtain more background information of incorporators, directors, or proposed officers of the trust company.

HB 192: Provides definitions for "Appraisal Management Company". Updates registration requirements for appraisers and gives the Georgia Real Estate Appraisers Board the authority to establish registration requirements.


HB 35: Provides tax exemptions from sales and use tax for poultry diagnostic and disease monitoring services.

HB 212: Allows for the retailers and retail brokers of manufactured or mobile homes or a residential industrialized buildings to be exempt from the definition of "mortgage broker". Also exempts retailers and retail brokers who limit their residential mortgage loan activity to compiling and transmitting residential mortgage loan applications to licensed mortgage lenders or communicating with applicants to complete the residential mortgage loan application.

HB 405: Allows for the affiliate of a manufacturer who can hold the goods of the manufacturer to be exempt from ad valorem taxes on the inventory of goods by the governing authority of a county or municipality.

HB 507: Allows the income approach to be used by tax assessors to determine the fair market value of income-producing property to be utilized if the data is available.

HB 374: Allows trained medication aides to administer liquid morphine to hospice patients in an assisted living home. The initial dose of morphine must be administered by a licensed hospice health care professional. The trained medication aide is limited to administer no more than 50 milliliters of morphine per hospice patient.


HB 501: Authorizes the Board of Natural Resources to promulgate rules and regulations necessary to develop and cultivate the oyster farming industry. Changes the permitting requirements to require fisherman to obtain a commercial fishing license with a shellfish endorsement. Allows for the leasing of intertidal water bottoms for a maximum of ten years at a time for a cost no less than $15 an acre.

HB 223: Removes the requirement to notify the Environmental Protection Division about the application of pesticides when conducted in a manner consistent with labeling and about air emission from animal waste at a farm, including decomposing animal waste.


HB 226: Extends the sunset of the 1.5% traffic citation surcharge that is used to help fund the Georgia Driver's Education Commission which funds scholarships for driver training.

HB 325: Requires the Police Officer Standards and Training (POST) Council to retain the investigation records of all law enforcement officers investigated by the Council for a period of 30 years.

HB 387: Allows for nonprofit fire departments to file liens on properties for fire services requested by property owners.

HB 197: Establishes the Georgia Data Analytics Center within the Governor's Office of Planning and Budget and provides controls for the information that is stored and transmitted.

HB 196: Requires public retirement system trustees to complete a minimum of eight hours of education within one year or appointment or election as a trustee.

Full transcripts of bills may be found at Simply type the bill number into the box at the top left-hand corner of the screen and specify if it is in the House or the Senate. The FY 2019 budget (HB 30) may be found at As always, I welcome any questions you may have.

I may be reached at

234 State Capitol, Atlanta , GA 30334

(404) 656-5038 (phone)

(404) 657-7094 (fax)

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

Or Call Toll-Free at

1-800-367-3334 Day or Night

Reidsville office: (912) 557-3811

By: Sen. Blake Tillery (R – Vidalia)

The past few days have been very heavy. Part of this is probably due to the schedule as the General Assembly draws to an end - the days often start at 6 a.m. and end at 10 p.m. Part is likely due to the volume of work yet to be done – we have over 180 House Bills still under consideration in the Georgia Senate and many Senate Bills still active in the Georgia House of Representatives. Most of these will not pass, but they all must be carefully read and vetted. The largest portion of this is due to the incredible weight of the issues we have considered this week. We have been asked to lay out a budget during a time we see increasing storm clouds on the horizon. We’ve been asked to weigh safety vs. privacy. On the matter of abortion, we have literally been asked to weigh life vs. death.

Let me start with the issue we face every year: The State Budget. The Senate passed the 2020 Budget out of committee Thursday morning. It will likely be on the Senate Floor Monday. Senator Jack Hill (R-Reidsville), our Senate Appropriations Chairman, is a master of this task. We do see storm clouds, however, on the horizon. Next year’s budget (which actually starts on July 1, 2019) is predicated on 2.3 percent growth. While this figure is very modest, as I’ve mentioned before, we are currently off pace to meet the demands of this year’s budget, much less a 2.3 percent growth. If the economists have it wrong and revenues continue to not meet budget, significant cuts will have to be made, perhaps sooner than many realize. Since many of our area’s largest employers are school systems, prisons and other state-funded entities, I am fully aware of how significantly this will affect us.

While other bills were debated and passed this week, they paled in comparison to the time, energy and weight of House Bill 481, the “Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act.” As you know the states of New York and Virginia have recently taken positions that a baby, even if it has been born, can be aborted. Georgia and Governor Kemp have taken a radically different approach, enshrining in law that personhood is enshroud as soon as a heartbeat can be detected, even on a baby in the womb. Since personhood is tied to a heartbeat, once a heartbeat is detected an abortion would no longer be allowed except a very narrow set of circumstances, including medical emergencies and non-viability of the pregnancy. The law goes even further, allowing parents to claim a state tax deduction as soon as a baby’s heartbeat is detected and counting the unborn child in the state’s census as well. After the testimony of 64 witnesses in committee, threats against Senators, thousands of protestors in the halls and almost six hours of debate on the Senate Floor, this bill passed the Georgia Senate. The Senate floor debate was particularly emotional and included life stories of babies lost by my colleagues that many had never shared. I will never forget those hours in this body. The bill now goes back across to the House for final approval and will hopefully soon reach Governor Kemp’s desk. This stand for life will be one, if not the, strongest Pro-Life bill in the nation.

Next week, the Senate will continue to review the remaining 180 pieces of House legislation. We are in session Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday with Wednesday serving as a full-committee day. Rest assured, committees will meet throughout the session days as well. If you wish to look up the status of a still-pending bill, you can do so at

If you have a question or comment on such legislation, please feel free to let me know that as well. Our number up here is still 404-656-0089 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. As always, thank you so much for the opportunity to serve you in Atlanta. Please know I am looking forward to wrapping up this year’s session and making it back home to all of you soon.

March 22--  The Toombs County Board of Commissioners took the following actions at its March meeting.

*Started proceedings on a request to close the Green-Tippett Road.

*Turned down a request to increase fees for trash collection by Republic Services.

*Awarded contracts to Lassetter Equipment of $56,600 to buy a new grass tractor and mower and to Yancey Brothers of $334,249 for a new landfill bulldozer.

*Approved submission of a request to the Georgia Department of Revenue regarding the distribution of sales tax revenue.

*Agreed to participate with Montgomery County on a community development block grant request.

*Heard from County Manager John Jones that collections of local option sales taxes are up about 5% this year.

*Were informed by County EMS Director Drew James that 530 ambulance calls were made in February.

March 22--  The Montgomery County school board hired six new teachers for next school term at its March meeting, according to School Superintendent Hugh Kight.

They are Kaylee Coleman---Special Education Teacher, Elementary School; Emily Gibson-Roberson---High School Band Director; Katie Selph---Special Education Teacher, Elementary School; Jessica Allen---PreK Teacher, Elementary School; Stanley Garland---Spanish Teacher, High School; Kristen Garland---Family and Consumer Science Teacher, High School.

The board also promoted Johnny Culver from Assistant Principal at Montgomery County Elementary School to Alternative School Director/Student Workbase Coordinator and named Eric Burns from the Alternative School to succeed Culver as the Assistant Principal at the elementary school.

The superintendent also briefed the board on the following points.

Superintendent’s Report

March 18, 2019

--Upcoming Important Dates:                                                                                                  

            * March 15-----------Teacher Work Day---Student Holiday

            * March 19-----------Report Cards go Home

            * March 29-----------Bus Driver Emergency Evacuation Drill Day

            * April 1-5------------Spring Break!!

--AdvancEd Accreditation Visit was an awesome experience. Continuous improvement is the goal!

--Middle/High School Update:

            * The ice machine is here---Larry started the installation today.

* Parking Lot area made great progress since last week---should be ready for asphalt soon!

* We are in the process of pricing shades for the new school:  We received three quotes. Palmer Furniture was the low bidder.  Other bidders were Windows on Wimbledon and Terry's Contract Flooring, LLC.

--Safety Funds from State should be coming soon----Approximately $30K for each school to be used for safety enhancements. Looking at a safety feature for our elementary school---rep will be attending our next work session (AlertPoint Security).

--Our Governor has approved a $2775 raise for our certified staff members and a 2% raise for classified staff. Other classified staff will be funded locally.

--GA Power rebate check should be received soon---received email confirmation.

--Brick Fundraiser Update: We have set our goal to $25K to be completed by July. A private donor has agreed to match the $25K if we can reach the goal. We received a donation check from Altamaha Bank and Trust for $1000. Total as of today is $2625, including on-line purchases.

--We met with Ricky Wheeler Friday regarding the transformation of our old gym into an Ag Center. We are searching for possible grants.

--Athletic Events Update:

*Baseball, Track, and Soccer participation is going strong!

--We are going through the process of getting bids for our new greenhouse concrete foundation. We must pay for the foundation—CTAE pays for the greenhouse and installation.

--We are registered for the GSBA Summer Conference--- Hotel Rooms at the Holiday Inn Express are reserved beginning June 5th (After 4pm). Conference begins on the 6th.

--Our Recreation Department has presented the Gym Lease option to the Commissioners for consideration. Mr. McCloud would like to come to our next work session to discuss agreement after his board has their work session.

--We received notice last week that our system will receive FTE funds for our new Elementary Ag Education program next year! Schools approved for the pilot list are eligible to receive this funding.

--SECCA has local sponsors to host a summer Energy Camp again this June. Last summer we had 7 students attend.

--SECCA Electives for next Fall:

            *JROTC                                 *Nursing                  *Auto Mechanics

            *Cosmetology                    *Drones                   *Energy

            *TAP (Teaching as a Profession)                      *Health Care

--Next MCBOE Work Session – Thursday, April 11th @ 5:00pm

March 22--  A 33-year-old ex-convict is going back to jail for a long time for killing 75-year-old Marie Warnock of Vidalia in December, 2015.

Mrs. Warnock was killed in the parking lot of Chatters Restaurant in Lyons during an attempted robbery. 

acostaAccording to Assistant Chief District Attorney Tripp Fitzner, Carlito Soldiew-Acosta, a native of Puerto Rico, will spend the next 30 years in prison before he is eligible for parole. 

He was sentenced by Superior Court Judge Kathy Palmer after entering a guilty plea to malice murder Thursday in Toombs County Superior Court.

Acosta had been out of jail for less than a month and was homeless at the time he struck Mrs. Warnock in the head with some kind of club which Fitzner says has never been recovered.

He was released from Telfair State Prison November 14, 2015 where he was served a 12 year sentence for burglary in Long County in 2004.

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker released the following statement following the sentencing of Acosta.

"On December 1, 2015, Lyons Police Department was called to the scene of a homicide, the first since my appointment as Chief. It was obvious by evidence at the scene it was not an accident. I called for the assistance of every agency that could help with the investigation. Everyone I spoke with was more than willing to help. Once assembled this team quickly put a plan into action and within a few hours had a suspect. With help from the community and tirelessly working around the clock, we had enough evidence to place the suspect in custody. Many agencies assisted in building our case and after a lengthy investigation, there is closure to this heinous crime.

"On March 21, 2019, Carleto Soldiew-Acosta plead guilty to the murder of Marie Warnock and was sentenced to life in prison. This could not have happened without the hard work of the men and women in law enforcement in our community. This was a successful prosecution and I hope that it brings some relief to the family and friends of Mrs. Warnock. My heart and prayers go out to those individuals for their loss.

"The Lyons Police Department cannot take all the credit for this success. I would like to thank all the agencies that put in so many hours working with us on this case: The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Toombs County Sheriff’s Office, District Attorney Hayward Altman and his staff. Let’s hope that our community can heal from the loss of such a wonderful lady."

March 22--  The Georgia Chamber of Commerce has honored Debbie Evans with the Toombs-Montgomery Chamber of Commerce for 30 years of service and dedication. 

debbieThe presentation was made at the state chamber's Staff Development Conference in Macon.

March 21--  Fourteen high school seniors applied for Vidalia Rotary Club college scholarships this year and Wednesday Scholarship Committee Chairman Tres Herin announced the selection of three applicants who will receive $1,000 scholarships.

rotaryscholarsLeft – Libby Jackson, Frank Moore Scholarship recipient.  Senior at Vidalia Heritage Academy, currently ranked 1st in her class.  Future plans – Attend UGA with plans to become a Physical Therapist in sports rehabilitation. Libby’s parents are Curtis and Michelle Jackson.

Middle – Ginny Grace Gourley, Smitty Snell Scholarship recipient.  Senior at Vidalia High School.  Future plans – Attend Auburn University with plans to become a Pharmacist. Ginny Grace’s parents are Greg and Heather Gourley.

Right – John David Hodges, Rotary Presidential Scholarship recipient.  Senior at Vidalia High School, currently ranked 1st in his class.  Future plans – Attend either Georgia Tech or UGA with plans to become an engineer. John David’s parents are David and Leslie Hodges.

March 20--  Last summer residents of Broughton Street in Ailey were awakened as gunshots erupted from two speeding cars on Saturday night, June 16.  Two people in one of the cars were wounded and authorities believe the shooting spree was a result of an incident which had occurred earlier in Mount Vernon.

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin says hard work by the GBI and his investigators has resulted in the arrest of six people involved in the shooting.


The sheriff said the front car was driven by Haley Nicole Cardell of Ballground, formerly of Glenwood, with passengers Saviyah Brantley of Vidalia (center) and Jabari Beasley of Mount Vernon.  Cardell and Brantley were wounded. 

All three are charged with one count each of Aggravated Assault.

mocomobleymocopricemocoadamsThe second car was occupied by  (L-R) Delvin Devonte Mobley, Nyque Price and Marcus Drae Adams, all of Mount Vernon.

Mobley and Price are facing three counts each of Aggravated Assault and Adams is charged with two counts of Concealment of Facts Obstructing Investigation.

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

Howard, Izsaiah Maurice- B/M- 22 YOA- 704 Bay St. Vidalia, GA- Willfully Obstruction of Police Officer Simple/Verbal, Possession of Marijuana Less Than Ounce, Warrant Served

Horne, Brandon Shamer B/M 18 YOA/ 142 Green Oak Rd Lyons, GA/ Child Molestation / Sexual Exploitation Of A Child

Gaffney, Alonzo Wayne- B/M- 62 YOA- 1805 Edwina Dr. Apt. 17 Vidalia, GA- Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (First)/No Insurance 2nd

Dees, David Allen- W/M- 29 YOA- 161 J. Thigpen Rd. Lyons, GA- Warrant Served (Toombs Co Probation)/Possession of Methamphetamines

Daniel, Malik Ramon- B/M- 21 YOA- 203-B Martin Luther King Ave Vidalia, GA- Terroristic Threats (State Warrant)

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Carl Johnson, Collins, DUI, failure to maintain lane

David Anderson, Lyons, warrant served

Drafus Brewton, Reidsville, DUI, possession of marijuana, traffic viiolations

Andrea Oglesby, Claxton, DUI, hands free and traffic violations

Edwena Edwards, Lyons, possession of amphetamines, DUI, speeding

Talmadge Moore, Lyons, entering auto with intent to commit theft, felony

Anthony Smith, Lyons, public drunkeness, possession of marijuana

Paul Walden, III, Lyons, DUI, traffic violations, warrant served

Red Coker, Atlanta, DUI, child endangerment, traffic violations, warrant served

Andrea Newell, Vidalia, DUI, open container, traffic violations

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Brittany Beasley, Alma, probation viiolation

Zonnie Beasley, Vidalia, possession of marijuana, DUI, obstructing police, traffic violations

Clinton Clark, Lyons, criminal trespass

Treyon Day, Vidalia, criminal damage to property, probation violation

Jason Foskey, Vidalia, reckless driving

Cynthia Gaffney, Vidalia, theft by shoplifting, violated bond conditions

James King, Vidalia, speeding, driving with suspended license

Tesha Sanders, Vidalia, probation violation, obstructing police

David Santiago Avila, Vidalia, speeding, no insurance

Don Sharp, Lyons, theft by conversion

Jada Snell, Vidalia, obstructing police

Justin Spires, Vidalia, probation violation

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

03/11-Sheree Anne Sikes, Lyons, Deposit Account Fraud

03/12-Mark Wesley Bryant, Mt Vernon, No Valid Driver’s License, Cancelled Registration

03/13-Christopher O. Young, Ailey, Felony Probation Violation

03/16-Jason Howard Johnson, Uvalda, Speeding, DUI

03/16-Norconda Dushane Locke, Hazlehurst, DUI/Drugs, Possession of Controlled Substance

03/17-Jasmine Monay Martin, Sugar Hill, DUI, Possession of Marijuana <1oz.

March 20-- Southeastern Early College and Career Academy (SECCA) in Vidalia received a $2000.00 donation from Georgia Power for SECCA’s new Energy Pathway. 


Greg Hudgins, left,  Manager at Georgia Power, and David Avery, Director of High School Programs at SECCA.

The pathway will be offered in the 2019-2020 school year and offers students skills necessary for employment and success in the energy industry.  The Generation, Transmission, and Distribution Pathway prepares individuals for careers  in the designing, planning, maintaining, generating, transmission, and distribution of traditional and alternative energy. 

“With the monetary help and support of Georgia Power, the Energy Pathway will become a reality,” said Avery. 

The donation will be used to purchase equipment, supplies, and other items needed for the program. 

March 19--  A Savannah design firm is proposing that Toombs County replace its courthouse with a justice center, build a government annex and expand its jail.

justiccenterToombs Commissioners were briefed at their March meeting on a nine-month study conducted by the firm of Hussey Gay Bell.  The firm considered seven concepts but is recommending one to reconfigure the current location in Lyons. 

It would add a pod with up to 60 more bed to the county jail and build the new courtroom complex adjacent to the jail to facilitate inmate access to court hearings. 

The government annex would be built on land currently occupied by the EMA and Ross Bowen buildings with the old courthouse being torn down and turned into parking and green space.

Toombs Commission Chairman David Sikes says, "For the rest of 2019, we'll work with Hussey Gay Bell for the actual costs as we prepare for our funding for this project.  If we have an opportunity to start this project, it would probably be in 2021.  The next step is to hire them to begin design of our courthouse, the jail expansion and government annex."

ericjohnsonPreliminary cost estimates come in at $39.5 million, according to Eric Johnson with the design company, "Both the jail and the courthouse have flexibility to grow so, as Toombs County grows, you can come back in ten years and add on more administrative space or more jail space.  Unfortunately, if we gave them everything they wanted looking forward 20 years, first of all we don't know what that need is, but it doubles the price tag."

Chairman Sikes says the Commission would ask the voters to approve continuation of a one percent special purpose local option sales tax to finance the long term debt the county would assume to build the project.

March 19--  Voters in Toombs County voted to extend a one penny sales tax for education in Toombs County Tuesday.

Toombs County Election Supervisor Carey Alligood reports 542 "YES" votes and only 93 "NO" votes.

The school boards in Vidalia and Toombs County estimate the sales tax will raise $27 million dollars over a five year period.

Vidalia will use most of the money to help pay off $20 million in bonds used to build the new Vidalia High School.

Toombs County school's will use the revenue to pay off the $4 million it still owes on the Toombs County High School and to build new athletic facilities near the high school plus make renovations at Toombs Central Elementary School.

March 19-- On Wednesday, March 13, 2019, the Tattnall County Sheriff’s Office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation arrested Christopher Glenn Grooms, 39, of Savannah, for three counts of 1st Degree Forgery as a result of a lengthy investigation.

The investigation concerned the utterance of multiple forged documents at several different financial institutions and entities.

Additional charges are forthcoming. Anyone with information concerning the investigation should call the Tattnall County Sheriff’s Office at (912) 557-6777 or the GBI Statesboro office at (912) 871-1121.

March 18-- Yesterday the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) arrested Timothy Hill, age 42, on charges of Malice Murder, Felony Murder, and Aggravated Battery for the death of Tywanna Jackson, age 52 . 

On Sunday, March 17, 2019, the GBI was requested by the Tattnall County Sheriff’s Office to assist with the death investigation.  At approximately 6:38 P.M., the Sheriff’s Office was notified of an unresponsive female at a residence in Beards Creek Trailer Park off of Highway 196 in Glennville.  Jackson was pronounced deceased on scene by the Tattnall County Coroner.  Jackson and Hill lived together at the residence in Beards Creek Trailer Park.   

Jackson’s body will be sent to the GBI Crime Lab for an autopsy. 

Anyone with information concerning the investigation should call the Tattnall County Sheriff’s Office at (912) 557-6777 or the GBI Statesboro office at (912) 871-1121.

March 18--  Meadows Regional Medical Center in Vidalia is one of 16 rural hospitals in Georgia to share $1.65 million dollars donated by Ameris Bank.

Meadows is receiving $200,000 as part of the Georgia Rural Hospital Tax Credit which enables Georgians to redirect their Georgia income tax liability to Georgia rural hospitals which meet the criteria established by state law.

The hospitals receiving donations all operate in communities served by Ameris Bank and will be used in ways that best fit their specific needs to serve patients.

"As a community bank grounded in service and character, we consider it a great honor to be able to make these contributions to support families across rural Georgia," said Ameris Bank CEO Dennis J. Zember Jr. “We are neighbors in these communities, and we are committed to doing our part to help bring them financial peace of mind and advance access to quality healthcare.”

The 16 rural Georgia hospitals receiving donations from Ameris Bank include: Brooks County Hospital (Quitman), Coffee Regional Medical Center (Douglas), Colquitt Regional Medical Center (Moultrie), Crisp Regional Hospital (Cordele), Donalsonville Hospital, Effingham Hospital — Springfield, Grady General Hospital (Cairo), Irwin County Hospital (Ocilla), Jasper Memorial Hospital (Monticello), John D. Archbold Memorial Hospital (Thomasville), Liberty Regional Medical Center (Hinesville), Meadows Regional Medical Center (Vidalia), South Georgia Medical Center - Berrien Campus (Nashville), South Georgia Medical Center - Lakeland Campus, Tift Regional Medical Center (Tifton) and WellStar Sylvan Grove Hospital (Jackson).

March 18-- Today the GBI’s Commercial Gambling Unit, along with the Dublin Police Department, and in cooperation with the Georgia Lottery Corporation and the Georgia Department of Revenue, executed two search warrants in Dublin for violations of Georgia’s gambling laws.

Search warrants were executed at two business locations in Dublin. The business locations were:

  • Quick Stop #3, 907 N. Jefferson Street
  • Dublin Food IGA, 807 N. Jefferson Street

During the course of a lengthy investigation, agents discovered businesses operating Coin Operated Amusement Machines (COAMS) where customers were receiving cash payouts for winning credits. In Georgia, COAMS must be properly licensed by the Georgia Lottery and credits may only be redeemed for lottery tickets and/or store merchandise.

While searching the locations, agents collected evidence related to crimes of commercial gambling and seized monetary assets gained from the illegal use of gaming machines. Multiple arrests are pending.

March 18 — Georgia gas prices continued to climb last week. The state average has increased 30 of the past 32 days, for a total of 28 cents. During the past week alone, Georgia gas prices rose an average of 5 cents per gallon. 

"Drivers saw a jump have seen a steady increase at the pump due to rising demand, reduced refinery output, and lower gasoline supplies," said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA - The Auto Club Group. "Unfortunately the springtime surge may not be over quite yet. These seasonal factors could keep upward pressure on prices at the pump through Memorial Day weekend."

Georgia drivers are now paying an average price of $2.42 per gallon for regular unleaded, which is the highest daily average price of 2019. Although Sunday's state average is 23 cents per gallon more than a month ago, it remains 2 cents less than this time last year. 

Gas prices increased because: 

  • Gasoline demand increased for the fourth consecutive week, according to weekly data from the EIA
  • Gasoline supply levels declined for the fourth consecutive week, according to weekly data from the EIA. 
  • Refineries are conducting seasonal maintenance leading to reduced output.
  • Summer-blend gasoline is hitting the market, as required by the EPA, in effort to reduce smog levels. Because this blend of gasoline requires more additives, it is more expensive to produce.  

Georgia Metro Prices:

  • Most expensive city averages – Brunswick ($2.49), Hinesville-Fort Stewart ($2.49), Savannah ($2.47)
  • Least expensive city averages – Warner Robins ($2.35), Albany ($2.35), Rome ($2.37)

Crude Oil Prices

The price of oil also reached a new 2019 high, last week.  Settling at $58.61 per gallon on the NYMEX last Thursday, crude oil has climbed a total of $12 per barrel this year. The price of crude is now only $2 per barrel less than this time last year. Last March, oil prices peaked at $64.94 per barrel, dragging the daily average price for gasoline in Florida up to $2.64/g. 

Find Local Gas Prices

  • Daily national, state, and metro gas price averages can be found at 
  • Motorists can find the lowest gas prices on their smartphone or tablet with the free AAA Mobile app. The app can also be used to map a route, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance.

March 18--  A family farm in Toombs County has been honored by the Vidalia Onion Committee.

brettmcclainBrett McClain of McLain Farms is the "Grower of the Year" and he dedicated the award to his father, James McClain, who died last year, "This means a lot to us.  We work hard at it.  We lost our father last year.  He was our mentor and the one who pushed us back when we were young.  We didn't want to be pushed, but he pushed us anyway.  It means a lot to get this and honor his memory."

(L-R) Rusty McClain, Brett McClain, Onion Committee Chairman Troy Bland and Onion Committee Executive Director Bob Stafford.

Brett does the growing and his brother, Rusty, does the packing and shipping and says the award is all about teamwork, "This is a really big team effort from the growing, the planting, the transplanting, clipping, packing, logistics and sales, it's a whole team effort and that's what I want to emphasize.  We wouldn't be here today if it weren't for our awesome employees and team."

krieizenbeckThe Vidalia Onion Committee also inducted a seed scientist into its Hall of Fame.  Roy Kreizenbeck from Bakersfield, California was honored for his life's work of developing new varieties of Sweet Vidalia Onions, "It means a lot. It's your accomplishments you've had in life and it means so much when it impresses these people who make a living at it and they appreciate what you've done."

(L-R) Onion Committee Chairman Troy Bland, Hall of Fame inductee Roy Kreizenbeck and Onion Committee Executive Director Bob Stafford.

Brett McClain says Kreizenbeck's work helps Vidalia onion farmers keep moving forward, "Weather conditions change, seasons change and older varieties which used to be good have been replaced by newer and improved varieties which help our yields, our shelf life and our sweetness and flavors.  These guys don't ever stop and it makes us look good."

Kreizenbeck started working with Vidalia Onion farmers back in 1984, "It was such an ugly onion when I first got here. They were buying it from a seed company which was selling to the third world.  I said I can do better than that in a New York minute and that's how we got  going," he remembers.

As for this year's crop, the Grower of the Year is happy with it, "We're looking good.  We're going to have a real nice crop with some quality onions to ship.  They're going to be big and they're going to be sweet," Brett McClain said.

brittannybraddyThe awards ceremony was held Saturday night at the Vidalia Community Center and included recognition of former Montgomery County High School student Brittany Braddy, the recipient of this year's Courtney Wilkes Agriculture Scholarship from the Vidalia Onion Business Council. 

March 15--  Two students from Vidalia Heritage Academy were judged the top student delegates in their roles at this year's Harvard Model Congress.

vhaharvawardsSenior Bryson Henriott played the role of Deputy Secretary of the Interior and worked with fellow cabinet officers in dealing with problems officials in Washington have to deal with on a regular basis, "The problems we were simulating up there are actually problems going on in the world.  We were dealing with the Venezuela crisis, education and Title 1 reform and also the opiod crisis."

Headmaster Jeff McCormick (center) presented the Harvard awards at a VHA student assembly.

Junior Briley Braddy played the role of Deputy Secretary to the United Nations and said her background from Vidalia Heritage helped her bring a Christian perspective to the table, "Vidalia Heritage taught me the Christian perspective of this world and I maintain that even though we are the minority up there.  Most of those kids have never heard the name of Jesus Christ, the come from secular schools.  However, coming from Vidalia Heritage, we are able to look at a secular world and issues we face through a perspective that Christ would see."

Another VHA student, Elliott Sammons, got Honorable Mention from Harvard and Headmaster Jeff McCormick says it's a great honor to lead the way among the more than 50 schools which participate.

"This is very significant for us because this is the first time in the seven years we have been attending that we've had students recognized the Harvard staff as the best delegates.  It's really quite an honor for our student.

"I think one of the things it does is immunize our children to what they see out in the world.  They are able to take on different roles that help them understand how government works, how to pass legislation and how to work behind the scenes.  This year we took 23 students, the largest group we've ever taken, and it was just a phenomenal experience for all of them," the Headmaster said.


(L-R) Front row: Macy Todd, Libby Jackson, Lydia Sammons, Olivia Harrelson, Mattie Durrence.

Second row: Gaige Brantley, Elliot Sammons, Cameron Gilliam, Sam Spring, Allie Spring, Helen Baird.

Third row: Dalton Henriott, Caleb Proenza, Mason Beacham, Hugh Baird, Jacob Thompson, Briley Braddy, Grace Mixon.

Fourth row: Jackson Williamson, Jordan Powell, Cole Moxley, Bryson Henriott.

Not Pictured: Cameron Kirkland

March 17--  Two Vidalia residents and two visitors to the area were killed in weekend accidents.

Two Vidalia men died in a wreck Friday night on I--16 in Laurens County when they ran a roadblock and wrecked in the ensuing police chase.  Laurens County officials identified the two as the driver, 22-year-old Tevin Lamar Page, and a passenger, 27-year-old Preston Alexander Coleman.  A second passenger was injured and is reported in critical condition at a Macon hospital.

Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits says an accident related to the fatal crash in Laurens County occurred in Vidalia overnight Friday.  According to the Chief, three Vidalia women were en route to Dublin when their car overturned on Highway 292 West near Earnie's nightclub.  The chief said one of the women, 26-year-old Marquita Gilchrist, is the mother of the baby of one of the Laurens County traffic victims.   She was a passenger in the car driven by 24-year-old Lakendria Sipp with another passenger, 29-year-old Chenese Brooker.  All three were taken to a Savannah hospital in serious condition, according to police.

An ATV accident killed a teenager visiting from Waynesboro.  According to Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight, 17-year-old Savannah Loper was a passenger on an ATV which overturned at Buckhorn Creek Trail Rides in southwest Toombs County. 

harriswreck2A one-car wreck in Vidalia killed a man early Sunday morning.  Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits says 38-year-old Christopher Hill of Jacksonville was in town visiting family.  Officers report he died when his vehicle ran off Harris Industrial Boulevard and hit a tree.

gregmorris2015By State Representative Greg Morris of Vidalia

March 17-- Crossover Day at the Capitol (the last day a bill can pass from one chamber to another) has come and gone, revealing the bills that passed and may yet become law. These are the major ones generating interest.

H.B.481 . Better known as the “Heartbeat Bill” this measure would effectively ban abortions in Georgia when a heartbeat is detected in an unborn child. If H.B.481 becomes law it will be the strictest anti-abortion law in the nation. It hangs by a thin thread though passing the House 93-73 , a paper thin margin since 91 votes are required to pass a bill in the House. I proudly voted for this legislation.

H.B.316/Voting Machines. This bill has passed the House and Senate and will become law with Gov. Kemp's signature. The current voting machines will be replaced with new ones that produce a verifiable paper confirmation for the voter. The new machines will be touch screens like the current ones. Like H.B.481, this bill was controversial with legislators voting largely along party lines. The Democrats advocated for straight paper ballots but the Republican majority rejected that notion as to susceptible to voter fraud.

H.B.324./Medical Cannabis. This measure would allow the cultivation of marijuana for the purpose of producing cannabis oil . Ten companies will get a license to produce the product. There will be up to 60 dispensaries statewide. I voted no on this measure . In my judgment we are on the path to legalization and this was just the next step. I may be wrong about this vote. Only time will tell.

H.B. 426./Hate Crimes. This measure would increase penalties for crimes motivated “by the victim’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, mental or physical disability.” The increased penalty starts at three extra months imprisonment, and a fine of up to $5,000.00. For felonies, a hate crime gets two years or more extra time on a sentence. Another close vote, this bill passed 96-64. I voted no on H.B. 426.

There are still ways that measures that did not make Crossover Day to pass. They can be attached to other bills of the same subject matter that did pass. Among these bills are casino gambling, gun control, private school vouchers, and taxes on streaming services. Watch for words like Committee, House or Senate substitute, to be alert to changes in current bills. That will be my job over the last 8 legislative days left.

March 16-- Toombs County Middle School held its school pageant in the Toombs County High School Auditorium. Ten girls competed for the title of Miss T.C.M.S. Sixth grader Miss Jaycie Willet, daughter of Dusty and Ashley Carpenter and Jason and Amy Willett, is recognized as Miss T.C.M.S. 2019!


(L to R) Kensley Davis, 1st Runner-up

Jaycie Willett, Miss T.C.M.S. 2019

Melea Pittman, 2nd Runner-up and Most Photogenic award

MaKayla Sapp, People’s Choice award

Kinsley Monroe, 3rd Runner-up.

Congratulations to Jaycie and her court!

March 16--  Lyons Primary School has announced its Students of the Month for March.

lpsprekmar19Pre-Kindergartern:  Left to right: Divory Williams, Jazlynn Cruz, Rebekah Cruz, Madison Trimble, Adyyn Worthy

lpskindermar19Kindergarten:  Left to right: Lylia Garrett, Avah Kooy, Talaysia McRae, Terran Owens, Bryleigh Sharpe, Annisten Smith; Not Pictured: Alexsander Figuero, Whitley Lightsey, Lena Robins, Maren Young


First Grade: Front row: Magali Rodriguez, Shaylah Williams, Gabby Arredondo, Lawrence Turner; Back row: Alexis Brunson, Payton Maldonado, Hailey Freeman, Jamaria Wadley


Second Grade: Front row: Chloe Copeland, Conner Story, Brayson Colmenares;  Back row: Cooper Bishop, Jose Borja Gonzalez, Sebastian Evans, Caylee Oliver, Zyheim Sanders

March 16--  Vidalia Fire Chief Brian Sikes reports the department responded to 56 calls in January and February.

6- Building Fires

6- House Fires

3- Electrical Fires

3- Smoke Removal 

3- Grass Fires

1- Dumpster Fire

3- Gas Leaks 

3- Automobile Fires 

8- Automobile Accidents 

17 - False Alarms 

2- Medical Assists 

1- Miscellaneous 

March 16-- Vidalia Comprehensive High School’s Show Choir and J. R. Trippe Advanced Chorus attended the Georgia Music Educators Association (GMEA) District One Large Group Performance Evaluation (LGPE) Wednesday and came home with the highest ratings awarded in performance and sight-reading.

Vidalia City School System was one of two school districts classified (by the GHSA) as AA (school enrollment size) to have a choir representing VCSS at the event. In fact, VCSS was represented with both Middle and High School choirs. One other AA school system, Screven County, had middle school and elementary school choirs sing at the event, while Vidalia High was the only AA high school choral program represented at LGPE in the entire GMEA District.


The Vidalia Show Choir received a Superior (I) rating in their performance of a “split program” of Class B and Class C literature, including “Soon Ah Will Be Done,” a spiritual arranged by William Dawson, and “Jesu Dulcis Memoria” by Vijay Singh, sung in Latin. Both pieces were performed from memory and A Cappella for the judges, who awarded the highest rating. Judges’ comments included “…fine crafting throughout,” and, “…you sing very expressively.” Former VCSS Choral Director Sarah Montford helped prepare the choir for performance with expert advice, and accompanied the choir on their trip to perform. The VCHS Choir then received an additional Superior (I) rating on their sight-singing adjudication, having only five minutes to prepare and sing an A Cappella piece they had never seen before.

Members of the VCHS choir who participated in the 2019 performance evaluation were: Bryanna Beasley, Makynna Beasley, Canyon Beck, Emma Braddy, Cheylyn Cowart, Miguel Cruz, Faith Futch, Ashlynn Goodwin, Kaylie Gunter, Kolby Hulett, Angel Humphrey, Landon Lindsay, Kylie McCoy, Joy McCullough, Landon Miller, Reagan Miller, Makenna Rakes, All-State Chorus Member Luke Stinnett, Lyric Wardlaw, and All-State Chorus Member Walker Wheeler.

jrtchorusFor the first time in many years, J. R. Trippe Middle School also sent a choir to the LGPE event and received a Superior rating.  The choir, accompanied by Sarah Montford, performed “Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel,” a traditional spiritual arranged by Roger Emerson, and “Deo Dicamus Gratias” by Victor C. Johnson, singing the latter piece in Latin.

The choir sang beautifully, and the judges awarded a Superior (I) Rating in performance, with comments such as “…nuanced performance,” “…fine interpretation,” “…some lovely phrasing in both pieces,” and “…well-prepared.”  JRTMS chorus also received a Superior (I) Rating from Sight Reading Judge, proving that their lifelong journey to musicianship is not merely learning repertoire, but gaining the skills to master music reading.

Thirty-eight students participated in LGPE from JRTMS. They were: Aylin Angel, LaLane Angeles, Andrea Battle, Saraiah Bauldwin, Sophia Cabe, Angie Cardinal, Ethan Chambers, Josie Conner, Trendon Darden, Andrew Davis, Micah Davis-Brown, Kaya Day, Laura Googe, Emilie Greenwald, All-State Chorus Member Autumn Harris, Racheal Hayes, Emily Helms, Kaleigh Howard, Jaquan Johnson, Angelina Kicklighter, Mackinzie Lyles, Emily Moran, Joel Munoz-Rosa, Belle Ogle, Cailey Oliver, Meghan  Onate-Leon, Amy Palma, Jayla Phillips, Mikayla Powell, Kailie Query, Savannah Sikes, Keishay Smith, Morgan Strange, Olivia Taylor, Anevya Vann, Ja'Via Walton, All-State Chorus Member Landry Wheeler, and Hannah Wood.

John F. Morgan, VCSS Choral Director, expresses gratitude to each chorus student for their dedication to musical excellence. Morgan also expressed thanks to the chorus parents, to Sarah Montford (accompanist), to Superintendent Dr. Garrett Wilcox, the Vidalia City Schools Board of Education, VCHS Principal John Sharpe and JRTMS Principal Dr. Sandy Reid.

March 16--  State Senator Jack Hill of Reidsville provides an update from the state Capitol in his "Notes From the Senate."


Net tax revenues showed an increase of $67.6 million, or 5.5% for February over February of 2018. Individual income tax refunds were down $24 million, withholding payments were down $28.5 million and individual income tax return payments also down $14.5 million.

Net sales taxes were back up at 4.1%. Corporate income tax collections increased $46.2 million. Tag, Title and Fees were up 8.6% while Title Ad Valorem tax collections were down -3.1%. Tobacco collections were negative -3.6% while alcohol beverages increased 10.2%. Fuel taxes were up slightly 3.8%, impact fees were down -$571,000 and hotel motel fees were up $718,000. Total DOT taxes/fees were up 3.5%.


Overall revenues still lag at 1.89%, growing $270.4 million after 8 months. Individual Income Taxes continue negative for the year at -1.1%. Net Sales Taxes continue consistent at 5.9% growth and corporate income taxes remain well up at $124.1 million. Tobacco, Alcoholic Beverage and Tag, Title and Fees are all up YTD, while Title Ad Valorem taxes are down YTD. Motor fuel taxes and fees are up 2.55% YTD.


House Bill 316 passed the Senate (35-21) and the House agreed, so the bill now awaits the Governor's signature. This bill provides the legislation for new voting machines across the state. The new machines would require the voter to fill out the ballot on a computer, which would produce a printed version of the ballot that the voter can review before placing into a secure box to be counted by an electronic ballot scanner.

The ballot must have human readable text. It must include a candidate's political party, and it will indicate if the voter has skipped a contest.

Election superintendents are now required to ensure directions are posted with signs reminding electors to verify their ballots before submitting their final ballot into the scanner.

The bill also changes the provisions for removing voter registrations, allowing the registration of a former Georgian to be revoked if a copy of their new out of state registration is provided to the county board of elections. Changes the term "no contact" to lengthen the time to five years, and to include not submitting an absentee ballot application or voted with an absentee ballot.

State and county elections will be included in the type of elections for which electronic ballot delivery is available to overseas and military electors. Non-felons in jail who have not updated their mailing address will be allowed to have an absentee ballot mailed to the jail. Voters will be able to cancel their absentee ballots and vote in person if their ballot has not yet been returned to the elections office.


SR 266: Encourages the Georgia High School Association to assess the operations of their organization and to consider more practical locations for tournaments and playoff sites.

HB 166: Creates licensure requirements for genetic counselors.


HB 83: Requires elementary schools to provide a daily 30 minute recess for all students in kindergarten through grade five.

HB 118: Makes it a felony to make an unlawful request for emergency services if the request results in bodily harm or death. Includes lying about an individual who has committed a criminal act involving the use of physical force or violence or act posing an immediate threat to a person's life or safety.

HB 382: Redefines the applicants who are eligible to receive Outdoor Stewardship grants to include qualified local governments, registered recreational authorities, state agencies, or nongovernmental entities. Allows for up to 5% of the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund to cover costs incurred by the Department of Natural Resources in administering the program.

HB 424: Includes sex crimes in the definition of criminal gang activity.

HB 444: Revises the structure for funding relating dual enrollment classes by placing limitations on the number of state funded credit courses versus other funded credit courses. The student is limited to 30 hours of covered dual credit courses, but may take non-covered dual credit courses at the student's expense or by the utilization of lottery funds. Lottery funded courses taken would count against the hourly cap of 190 quarter hours or 120 semester hours. Allows a maximum of 16 hours per semester and requires a meeting with an academic advisor prior to participating or after attempting 15 and 30 hours as required. Rates are published and determined by Student Finance Commission.

HB 454: Prohibits the operation of motorized mobility devices on sidewalks except in areas where it has been authorized by a local ordinance or resolution. Creates rules for authorized motorized mobility devices to follow, including yielding to pedestrians, signaling to pedestrians when passing and leaving two feet of space when passing a pedestrian. Allows people to move a bicycle or motorized mobility device with care if the device impedes the flow of pedestrian or vehicular traffic.

HB 459: Requires local Boards of Education to submit a list of full names and driver's license numbers to the Department of Public Safety for every person employed to be a school bus driver.

HB 470: Requires a DNA sample to be collected from individuals charged with a felony but sentenced as a first offender or under a conditional discharge.

HB 478: Improves the central child abuse registry by requiring more information such as the date of the incident and the date of the report. The name of the child abuser and a copy of the report will be included in the child abuse registry. The child abuser will be advised of the right to a hearing to dispute the investigator's determination and the consequences of being named in the child abuse registry.

HB 527: Changes the program weight for funding purposes for different education programs to increase the funding for grades K-8, programs for persons with disabilities, programs for intellectually gifted students, remedial education programs, alternative education programs, and English for Speakers of Other Languages programs. Decreases the funding in grades 9-12 in career, technical and agricultural education laboratory programs.

Full transcripts of bills may be found at . Simply type the bill number into the box at the top left-hand corner of the screen and specify if it is in the House or the Senate. The FY 2019 budget (HB 30) may be found at As always, I welcome any questions you may have.

I may be reached at

234 State Capitol, Atlanta , GA 30334

(404) 656-5038 (phone)

(404) 657-7094 (fax)

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

Or Call Toll-Free at

1-800-367-3334 Day or Night

Reidsville office: (912) 557-3811

March 15-  The GBI is investigating three deaths in Berrien County after sheriff's deputies responded to a vehicle fire early Tuesday morning on Georgia Highway 135 near the Alapaha River near the Atkinson County line.

The bodies of three people were later found and have been sent to the GBI Medical Examiner's Office in Macon for positive identification.

The presumed victims are 27-year-old Ronnie Wayne Hackle, Jr., his 17-year-old sister Mercedes Maelyn Hackle of Chauncy and 22-year-old Bobbie Lynn Moore who was driving the car.

The GBI has made two arrests, 25-year-old Keyanta Greene and 20-year-old Jonathan Douglas Vann of Nashville.

hacklejrRonnie Hackle, Jr. was released from jail last November after he had been locked up for a parole violation.  He had been arrested in Montgomery County in November, 2016 for sale of methamphetamine and for giving false information to a law enforcement officer.  At the time, he gave a Lyons address.  Prior to that, he was indicted in Toombs County in 2015 for theft by receiving stolen property.

His father, 46-year-old Ronnie Hackle of the Ponderosa Road in Lyons, was indicted by a Toombs County grand jury in July, 2015 for manufacturing methamphetamine.


Nashville, GA - On Friday, March 15, 2019, the GBI obtained arrest warrants for Jonathan Vann and Keyante Greene. Vann was charged with two counts of malice murder for the deaths of Wayne Hackle, Jr. and Bobbie Lynn Moore in Atkinson County, Georgia. In Berrien County, Georgia, Vann was also charged with one count of malice murder for the death of Mercedes Hackle and for arson in regards to the burned vehicle. Greene was charged with two counts of concealing the death of another person in relation to Wayne Hackle, Jr. and Bobbie Lynn Moore in Atkinson County. Greene was also charged with one count of concealing the death of another person in relation to Mercedes Hackle in Berrien County.

Nashville, GA (March 15, 2019) – On Thursday, March 14, 2019, the GBI recovered the remains of the third missing individual.  Kayante Greene, 25, was arrested for charges related to the death of the three individuals.  Efforts are still being made to positively identify the remains.


Nashville, GA (March 14, 2019) – On Wednesday, March 13, 2019, the GBI arrested Jonathan Douglas Vann, 20, of Nashville, in connection to the disappearance of three persons and subsequent death of two of them. The two deceased are not yet positively identified. The third person is still missing.

The Berrien County Sheriff’s Office requested the GBI to assist with the missing persons investigation following the discovery of a vehicle on fire. On Tuesday, March 12, 2019, at approximately 5:30 a.m., the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene of a vehicle on fire in the area off Highway 135 at the Alapaha River near the Atkinson County line in Berrien County. As a result of the investigation, it was determined that the car was being used by Bobbie Lynn Moore, 22. Further investigation determined that Moore, Ronnie Wayne Hackle, Jr., 27, and Mercedes Maelyn Hackle, 17, were not responding to attempts to make contact. The GBI, with the assistance of the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office, Atkinson County Sheriff’s Office, Georgia State Patrol, and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, have since located the remains of two individuals whose identities have not yet been confirmed. The remains are being sent to the GBI Medical Examiner’s Office in Macon, GA, for autopsy and identification. Vann was booked into the Berrien County Jail.

The investigation is active and ongoing. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office at (229) 686-7071 or the GBI Douglas Office at (912) 389-4103.

March 14--  A woman and her boyfriend have been indicted in connection with the death of the woman's baby son.

TASHASIKESHAYESA Toombs County grand jury indicted 27-year-old Tasha Lynn Sikes and her 26-year-old boyfriend, Jason Vernon Hayes of Vidalia, for Murder in the Second Degree and two counts of Cruelty to Children. 

Last March Vidalia police were called to the Royal Inn in Vidalia where they found the four-month-old boy on the motel bed turning blue.

According to the indictment and Assistant District Attorney Jessica Wilson, the two were under the influence of drugs and were sleeping in the bed with baby who died of asphyxiation.

The infant's 18-month-old brother was in a playpen in the room and, according to the indictment, had methamphetamine and cocaine in his system.

Other Indictments:

*Kevin Andrew Woods was indicted on 12 counts of sexual exploitation of children through possession of digital photos depicting sexually explicit conduct.

* Eric Johnson was indicted for possession of cocaine and theft by receiving a stolen firearm.

*Christopher C. Thomas was indicted for aggravated stalking in violation of a protective order.

*Larry Wayne Cash, Jr. was indicted on six counts of burglary in Lyons and one count of theft by taking a vehicle from Onion City Motors.

*Travis Badie was indicted for stealing a Nissan Sentra from Woody Folson Nissan in Vidalia.

*Keaundre Deshaun Brown was indicted for an armed robbery at Toombs Finance and attempted armed robbery of Jack Moxley and for aggravated assault in both cases.

*Joshua Dewayne Troupe, Jr. was indicted for the aggravated battery of Jarvis Murphy.

*Telly Lamont McLemore was indicted for aggravated stalking in violation of a protective order.

*In a shooting which happened near McDonald's in Vidalia last October, Antoine Dejaquis Miller was indicted on six counts including the armed robbery and shooting (aggravated assault) of Jonathan Lanier, Jr., possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and three counts of cruelty to children.

*Marcus Antonie Wideman was indicted for aggravated assault, battery and two counts of cruelty to children.

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

Grimes, Marcus Lance W/M 32 YOA / 801 W Second St Vidalia, Ga / Possession Of Marijuana Less Than Ounce (Misd)

Young, Christopher Octavious B/M 33 YOA / 202 N Pine St Ailey, Ga / Probation Violation (Montgomery County)

Jackson Linda Joe W/F 46 YOA / 201 Commanche Rd Lyons,Ga/Theft By Shoplifting (2nd Offense)

Clements, Ira Dale – B/M /43 YOA/ 206 Lake Dr. Vidalia –Disorderly Conduct

Denson, Gerald Jermaine – B/M / 29 YOA – 1307 Queen Elizabeth Cir. Vidalia / Disorderly Conduct

Denson, Silver – B/F / 55 YOA / 1717 Telfair St. Apt D-4 Dublin / Disorderly Conduct

Denson, Jeletha – B/F – 31 YOA – 511 Idelle Walker Dr. /Eastman – Disorderly Conduct

Mimbs, Jeremiah WM/ 31 YOA/ 114 Ricky Rowland Dr Lyons, Ga/DUI 1st Offense

Edwards, Samantha Lorin WF/ 21 YOA/ 1503 Cadillac Dr Vidalia, Ga/Shoplifting

Andrews, Sammy Lee W/M 37 YOA/ 1243 Altamaha Rd Hazlehurst, GA / Bench Warrant (VPD)

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Melissa Mulligan, driving while license suspended, no insurance

William Poole, warrant served

Shane Evans, Uvalda, possession of methamphetamine and drug related objects, traffic violations

Andrea Oglesby, Claxton, DJUI, hands free law, traffic viiolations

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

William Bentley, Twin City, DUI, Fleeing/Obstructing police, traffic violations

Jose Cruz, no insurance, no license, traffic violations

Eric Lawrence, Lyons, methamphetamine purchase, possession, manufacture, sale and distribution

Lorrey Lynn, Lyons, burglary, family violence battery, controlled substance, possession of firearm by felon/probationer, failure to appear

Catherine McCarty, Uvalda, theft by taking, probation viiolation

James Smith, Vidalia, cruelty to animals

Jason Taylor, Ocala, FL., possession of marijuana, speeding

Dominick Thomas, Lyons, no insurance, driving with license suspended/revoked, no vehicle registration

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

03/04-Russell Eugene Mathis, Mount Vernon, Sodomy, Aggravated Child Molestation

03/04-Sedric Donell Sanders, Mount Vernon, Failure to Maintain Lane, No Proof of Insurance, Driving w/Suspended License, Driving w/Suspended Registration, DUI

03/06-Tyrese Jamal Madison, Mount Vernon, Criminal Trespass, Entering Automobile (x2), Theft by Taking (x2)

03/06-Lori Beth Presgraves, Ailey, Felony Probation Violation

March 13--  Voters in Toombs County will decide next Tuesday if they want to continue a one penny sales tax for the schools in Vidalia and Toombs County.

Vidalia owes $20 million on its new high school and School Superintendent Dr. Garrett Wilcox says the lion's share of the sales tax revenue will go toward that debt, "The big thing in Vidalia for the E-SPLOST renewal is for the school board to hold to its promise.  When we had the bond referendum to build the new high school, we promised that the one penny would be used to pay for the building.  We do pay for some school buses and technology along the way, but the bulk of that money is going to pay for the new high school."

The Toombs County school system will use the sales tax money to retire the $4 million it still owes on the four-year-old Toombs County High School plus it has some other needs according to School Superintendent Barry Waller, "The two large projects we have are down at Toombs Central Elementary where we will continue to do some upgrades down there as well as the athletic facility that was supposed to be at the high school when it was built but got cut at the very end. We're going to build baseball, soccer, track and a practice field for football and soccer at the new high school."

Both superintendents agree that a sales tax is the best deal for Toombs County citizens by holding property taxes down.  According to Waller, "the good thing about E-SPLOST is that it's a tax everybody pays.  Folks come into our area to purchase goods and shoppers from Tattnall, Montgomery and Appling County come in and make purchases which help pay for our schools.:

You can vote in advance through Friday at five p.m. at the Voting Registrar's Office on West Lincoln Avenue in Lyons.

If you don't vote in advance, you can vote Tuesday at your regular voting precinct from seven a.m. till seven p.m.

Dear Friends:

As many of you know by now the Georgia House passed House Bill 481, known as the Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act. This will prevent abortions after a doctor has determined there is a heartbeat. This bill sponsored by Representative Ed Setzler and supported by Governor Brian Kemp passed through the House of Representatives late Thursday night (see Index Article: Heartbeat Bill Passes Georgia House) by a 93-73 vote. The bill now will have to proceed to the Senate before it has a chance to land on the desk of Governor Kemp.

At present this bill has been assigned to the Science and Technology Committee, chaired by Senator Renee Unterman. Please see my video update of the bill status (See below). The bill is scheduled to be heard and hopefully voted on Thursday afternoon at 3:00 PM.

Upon approval of the committee, the bill will go to the Rules Committee where it will await approval to go the Senate floor for a full vote before April 2nd, which is the final day of the Georgia legislative session.

You can play a big part in the final passage of this important lifesaving legislation! Please make plans now to contact the Science and Technology Committee (click here for members list) and ask them to vote in favor of House Bill 481! In addition to contacting the committee, please contact your state Senator (find your here!) and ask them to vote in favor of the bill and to encourage other Senators to do the same! 

Please be in prayer as we look forward to passing the most significant piece of pro-life legislation in the state of Georgia since Roe vs. Wade.

Pressing on for Life,

Mike Griffin

Public Affairs Representative

Georgia Baptist Mission Board

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

March 12--  Twenty lawyers from the Leadership Academy of the Young Lawyers Division of the state bar spent nearly two days in Vidalia as part of the Academy's professional development efforts.


Toombs County Magistrate Judge Rizza O'Connor is the President of the Division this year and wanted her peers to get exposure to rural Georgia, "Seventy percent of the young lawyers are in the metro Atlanta area, so it's very rare to have a President outside of Atlanta, so I wanted to show these young lawyers the experience of being in a rural county and practicing in a rural county."

Before going on farm tours, the group heard from Vidalia native and the newest member of the Georgia Supreme Court, Justice John Ellington, who challenged them to become leaders, "I tell everybody all over Georgia that the quality of life depends on the quality of leadership. These young lawyers are the future leaders of our state, not just in the legal community, but statewide.  There are many avenues of service throughout the community.  Certainly there are elected positions, but there are many volunteer positions in our churches, civic clubs and courthouses."

One of the young lawyers, Ken Mitchell, Jr. has a Toombs County connection. He's the son of Ken Mitchell, Sr. of Lyons and the nephew of longtime Lyons city councilman Ben Mitchell.

He agrees with Justice Ellington that lawyers need to be leaders, "I think that's important because the state is growing and we've got so many different things that are changing.  In order to facilitate that change, we need competent, responsible people to help us bridge the gaps and to bring everybody to common ground.  In Georgia, we've got to figure out how we can all come together and compromise to get it right."

The lawyers also volunteered their time to help First Responders in the area with wills and estate documents.

March 15--  Advance voting is going on through Friday of this week on extension of a one penny sales tax for education in the Vidalia and Toombs County school systems.

Voters can vote at the Toombs County Voter Registration Office in Lyons at 125 West Lincoln Avenue.

The E-SPLOST election will be held Tuesday, March 19 from seven a.m. till seven p.m. at all voting precincts in Toombs County.

20190312 holocaust survivor 01Manuela Mendels Bornstein sharing her story of survival. March 12- On Tuesday, March 5, Brewton-Parker College along with the community witnessed the remarkable story of Holocaust survivor, Manuela Mendels Bornstein. The event was held in Saliba Chapel and was hosted by Fountain-New Library, who partnered with the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust to host the event.

During the evening, Bornstein was welcomed on stage to share her story about the traumatic events that her family endured during the Holocaust. Born in France to a Dutch father and a German mother, her childhood centered around the struggles of Jewish persecution during World War II. In July of 1942, the Germans moved into France and began a search for the Jewish people to take to concentration camps. As Bornstein explained to the audience, her family was forced to leave their home many times in fear for their lives. Bornstein shared a series of numerous miracles and stories of heroic individuals who risked their lives to help her family survive.

Morgan Parris, a BPC sophomore, stated, “We always hear about people who were taken to the camps, but rarely do we get to hear someone’s account about how they were able to escape and what fear they lived in.”

Deanna Ballard, another student who attended the event, explained, “It gave me a better look of some of the things that were happening other than the camps”.

BPC strives to provide students and community members with such events which bring history to life. Many students have learned about the Holocaust in history class, but rarely do they have the chance to hear a living account of the past. Bernstein’s story provides a whole new perspective, as the audience received new outlook of the Holocaust through the life and fear of a little girl and her family who survived in miraculous ways.

20190312 holocaust survivor 02 20190312 holocaust survivor 03
Students and attendees enjoying the reception and exhibit on display at the Fountain-New Library.

Following the event, those in attendance made their way to the Fountain-New Library for a reception. As part of a larger series from the Fountain-New Library, the event launched the arrival of the library’s latest exhibit. Titled “Fashioning a Nation: German Identity and Industry, 1914-1945,” the new exhibit explores the powerful history of the German fashion industry and honors the legacy of the Jewish Germans who contributed to its rise. BPC is proud to collaborate with the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust to provide its students and local community with the opportunity to discover.

Brewton-Parker College is the only accredited four-year Christian college south of Macon and north of Jacksonville, FL. The mission of Brewton-Parker College, a Georgia Baptist college, is to develop the whole student through the application of Biblically-centered truth to a liberal arts curriculum in a community of shared Christian values.

By Suzanne Hewett
BPC Student Writer

March 12--  A Mount Vernon resident is being charged with several auto break-ins on the campus at Brewton-Parker College where cash and weapons were stolen.

mocobpcarrestAccording to Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin, his office and the Mount Vernon Police Department obtained warrants and Tyrese Jamal Madison was arrested after a search of his residence at 620 Wooten Street turned up two stolen weapons. 

Madison is charged with criminal trespass, two counts of entering automobiles and two counts of theft by taking. 

Toombs Central February Students of the Month

tcstudentsfeb2019Back Row (left to right):  Ella Herndon (First Grade), Laura Zamorano (Fifth Grade), Kelsey Guerrero (Third Grade)

Front Row (left to right):  Angelina Tinoco (Kindergarten) & Anthony Berry (Pre-K)

Not Pictured:  Malik Walker (Second Grade) & Jalen Harvey (Fourth Grade).

March 12--  This past Saturday Girl Scout Troop 30396 of Fort Stewart and Troop 30138 of Hinesville donated 454 boxes of Girl Scout cookies to the Tommy and Shirley Strickland Cancer Center in Vidalia.

When given the chance to donate to a charity of their choice, they decided to give to cancer patients since the disease has affected many families in their troop. The girls named their campaign “If you can’t eat them, treat them.” Individuals who purchased cookies donated them back to the troop for patients at the Cancer Center.


Samantha Walker, (left, with the Girl Scouts), Director of Cancer Care Services, plans to give a box to cookies to each patient after their treatment.

March 12-- Sheriff Alvie Kight reports that the Toombs County Sheriff’s Office along with the Southeastern Regional Drug Enforcement Office conducted a joint investigation of drugs and guns, lasting several months, leading to the arrests of a father and son.

According to Sheriff Kight, a search warrant was executed March 5 at 7545 US Hwy 1 South in Lyons.

Arrested were 45-year-old Stephen Eric "Mo" Lawrence and his son, 24-year-old Eric Ryan Lawrence, both of Lyons.

EricLawrenceEric Ryan Lawrence has been charged with three counts of use of communication facility (a phone)  during the commission of a felony along with three counts of sale of methamphetamine.


Stephen Eric Lawrence has been charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

March 11--  The Vidalia city council spent much of its meeting Monday night discussing the pros and cons of red light cameras and in the end tabled a city ordinance that would have allowed a third-party contractor to put cameras at up to four intersections.

Mayor Ronnie Dixon said the sole purpose of the cameras was to make the city safer for motorists and denied there's a profit motive behind the proposal.

Five citizens spoke out against the proposal and one claimed it would make Vidalia comparable to the Ludowici speed trap of years gone by.  Another, Charles Faulk, made  a presentation to the council and asked members to slow down their deliberations.

"I think it was the correct move to table the ordinance.  I don't think the unintended consequences have been explored by these folks as deeply as they need to be. There's nobody in the room who's against safety, we're all for that, but unintended consequences are going to be a trade-off and the economics I don't think are going to work well.

"There will be a dramatic increase in rear end collisions and all of those have to be worked by the police department.  Also, you will have a community image that doesn't fit what we're all about here in Vidalia," Faulk said.

After hearing the discussion, Council Member Lisa Chesser made a motion seconded by Kailey Dees to table the ordinance and it was approved unanimously.

March 11--  A Vidalia man is facing cruelty to animals charges.

smithanimalsToombs County Sheriff Junior Kight says 66-year-old James Hoyt Smith of 512 Cedar Crossing Road is facing 15 counts of animal cruelty.

horseThe sheriff says a concerned citizen notified his office about the well-being of horses on Smith's property.  He reports 37 horses were found with fifteen malnourished, underweight and in extremely poor health. 

Those fifteen were turned over to the state with additional horses turned over to rescue services.

The Georgia Department of Agriculture assisted with the investigation which started February 18.

March 11--  Since 2015, the Mercy Ministries in Toombs County has graduated twenty-two classes of "Faith and Finance" students to help them get a handle on their finances and to manage their money in accordance with Biblical principles.

Charles Yawn and his wife, Rebekah, are graduates of the latest class, "It meant a lot being able to do it with my wife.  We're a few years away from retirement and we wanted to get things in proper perspective before we do retire.  I'd highly recommend this for anybody, young or old," Charles Yawn said.

Another couple, Regina and Clarence Best, also endorse the course, "This course really made my wife and I focus on where our money is going and focusing on the Biblical aspect of how we need to do what God wants us to do with our money and support our community and those in need.  With two boys and a grandson, it helped us make sure we're putting money where we need to put money," Clarence said.

Kayla Herndon from Hazlehurst drove back and forth to the course for eight weeks and says it was worth it, "We talked about emergency funds and setting a budget. It's going to help me follow how the Bible and God thinks you should handle money.  Once I get my money in order, I can help the community better," she says.

mercygradsmar19Graduates are (front row, L-R) Pamela Snyder, Regina and Clarence Best, Hazel Johnson; (back row, L-R) Paul Anderson Youth Home residents Lane, Jackson and Will, Charles and Rebekah Yawn, Kayla Herndon.

The next class will start in April and reservations are currently being accepted at the Mercy Clinic in Lyons.

March 11--  Notes from the Georgia Senate by Senator Jack Hill of Reidsville.

Notes from the Senate

March 8, 2019


SB 182: Encourages the harvest and mariculture of wild farm oysters by providing rules and regulations that allow for commercial oyster farm harvesting.

SB 158: Provides additional safeguards and protections against human trafficking. Extends DFCS's authority to include providing care and supervision to children who are victims of human trafficking.

SB 97: Sets limits on late payment fees on the monthly rent for self-storage facilities to be a maximum of $20 or 20 percent of the monthly rent, whichever is greater.

SB 31: Removes liability from police officers who are attempting to remove pets from vehicles.

SB 60: "Jeremy Nelson and Nick Blakely Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention Act"; Requires schools to have informational meetings and training on recognizing warning signs of sudden cardiac arrest. Requires students who exhibit symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest to be prevented from returning to participation until they have been cleared.


SB 83: Allows schools with grades 9 and above to offer elective courses in the Old and New Testament.

SB 170: Designates the "Honor and Remember" flag as the state's emblem of the service and sacrifice of the members of the armed forces. Adds special day of remembrance.   

SB 92: Prevents professional licensing boards from refusing to issue a license to person who is in default under an educational loan.     

SB 56: Requires physicians, hospitals, and insurers including emergency rooms to disclose specific coverage. Requires insurers to pay out of network emergency medical costs. Provides penalties for violations.


SB 77: Provides additional protection for government statues, monuments, plaques, banners, and other commemorative symbols.

SB 9: Provides penalties for coercing a person into sharing depictions by phone of an individual engaging in sexually explicit conduct or in a state of nudity.

SB 161: Adds "A" grade for a 0.5 point increase for grades achieved in advanced placement, dual credit, or international baccalaureate courses when calculating the GPA for HOPE scholarship and Zell Miller scholarship eligibility.

SB 175: Requires certain public employers to make employer and employee contributions to the Teachers Retirement System of Georgia for half-time retiree employees.

SB 183: Requires each person who files a Form 1099-K with the Internal Revenue Service to also file an electronic copy to the state revenue commissioner before the federal deadline.

SB 208: Responds to State Supreme Court's decision that a person's refusal to submit to a breathalyzer test can be used as evidence against them in a criminal trial is unconstitutional. Requires an arresting officer to read a script to a person suspected of DUI, to clarify that only a refusal to submit to a blood or urine test can be used against the driver in court.

SB 211: Prevents food sellers from labeling food as meat if it is less than 90% flesh, offal, or other by-product of a live animal or if it is lab-grown animal tissue.

SB 216: Allows local governments to accept prepayments of ad valorem taxes.


SB 131: Creates the Georgia Major Airport Authority and places the Hartsfield- Jackson International Airport in Atlanta under the jurisdiction of the Georgia Major Airport Authority.

SB 108: Requires middle schools to offer exploratory computer science courses beginning in 2022. Requires all high schools to begin to offer courses in computer science on a rolling basis beginning in the 2022 - 2023 school year and ending in the 2024 - 2025 school year.

SB 2: Authorizes electric membership corporations and affiliates to provide broadband services. 

SB 171: Increases the minimum salary for various county government officials.


SR 237: Calls a Constitutional Convention to limit the number of terms that a Senator or Representative may be elected to the United States Congress.

SB 138: Provides disabled first responders free motor vehicle license plates and exemption from state and local title ad valorem tax fees. Exempts all payments to a disabled first responder from state income tax.

SB 110: Creates provisions regarding the new State-wide Business Court.

SB 163: Allows home schooled students to participate in extracurricular and interscholastic activities in the student's resident public school system.       


SB 167: Allows for DFCS to make the foster home the preferred placement six months after the child was removed from their home for children who do not have any relatives or fictive kin who are willing and able to provide a permanent home.

SB 177: Requires the Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Office review any proposed local districting plans before a vote is held.

SB 214: Reduces the apprentice hours by half for registration as a cosmetologist, barber, etc.

SB 219: Requires high school students and students seeking a GED to take the United States Citizenship Civics Test as part of the civics course.

SB 210: Requires schools to schedule recess for students between kindergarten and fifth grade.


Homeschooled students from Tattnall, Emanuel, Bulloch and Effingham Counties. Educators from Bulloch, Candler, Tattnall and Effingham.

Full transcripts of bills may be found at Simply type the bill number into the box at the top left-hand corner of the screen and specify if it is in the House or the Senate. The FY 2019 budget (HB 30) may be found at always, I welcome any questions you may have.

I may be reached at

234 State Capitol, Atlanta , GA 30334

(404) 656-5038 (phone)

(404) 657-7094 (fax)

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

Or Call Toll-Free at

1-800-367-3334 Day or Night

Reidsville office: (912) 557-3811

By: Sen. Blake Tillery (R – Vidalia)

Week 8 was our busiest week yet.  Several hundred bills were heard in committee; most died there or died in the subsequent Rules Committee.  67 bills and resolutions made it out of committee, out of Rules Committee, and were heard and passed on the Senate floor.  Why were so many more bills heard this week than the weeks before? Thursday, March 7, was the 28th day of our 40-day legislative session.  It is also known as “Crossover Day.”  If a bill does not make it out of one chamber by the end of Day 28, it is dead for that session.  Hence the rush on bills this week.

Because of the amount of bills handled this week I’ll limit my review to a few of those that passed the Senate:

  • Senate Bill 83 expands curriculum to provide elective courses on the Old and New Testaments of the Bible in high schools.
  • Senate Bill 119 is an idea many of you supported in our recent poll requiring an economic analysis to justify any special tax break.
  • Senate Bill 168 makes it easier for nurses from out of state to move in and work in our area.
  • Senate Bill 170 allows local governments to display the “Honor and Remember” flag in dedication of armed servicemen and women who died in the line of duty.
  • Senate Bill 56 tackles “surprise bills” from health care providers by forcing insurers to be more transparent on who’s in and out of network.
  • Senate Bill 77 protects any and all monuments from any U.S. War, including gravestones and plaques. This bill penalizes people from damaging something because they are personally offended.
  • Senate Bill 184 helps support FQHC healthcare centers found all across our district, including Wheeler and Appling Counties.
  • Senate Bill 208 fixes a problem with our state’s DUI laws in the wake of a recent Supreme Court decision.
  • Senate Bill 2 tackles the issue of rural broadband by authorizing EMCs to provide broadband services.
  • Senate Bill 58 provides a new avenue for attacking Medicaid and other fraud stealing taxpayer dollars.
  • Senate Bill 162 allows financing opportunities for individuals trying to bring broadband to their property.
  • Senate Bill 163 allows home school students to participate in public school sports and other extracurricular activities in the student’s designated public-school system.
  • Senate Bill 195 requires insurers and pharmacy benefit managers (PBM’s) to post the list of drugs covered under their health care plans and the tier of coverage on their webpage.
  • Senate Bill 200 allows a process for appeal when the Georgia Department of Transportation rejects the low bid for public works projects.
  • Senate Bill 167 and Senate Bill 225 make several updates to state law concerning foster care allowing the state to find permanent homes for foster children more quickly and to assist those turning 18 and aging out of the foster care process without permanent homes.

This is just a summary of the bills that passed I think you may find interesting.  You can view all legislation that passed the Senate at

I still have concerns about this year’s budget.  February’s preliminary tax revenues were up, but not significantly enough to catch up with the $300 million loss of January.  I’m keeping a close eye here. I think we have stormy weather ahead and I’ll continue pushing for us to tighten our belt now.

From here on out, the Senate will be hearing mostly House bills and resolutions in committees, so I encourage you to reach out if you have any comments or concerns.  There are several, including the pro-life “Heartbeat” bill, in which I know many of you have expressed interest.  As always, please do not hesitate to reach out and thank you again for the opportunity to serve you.

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

Jackson, George Devis Sr BM / 62YOA / 507 Lydia St Vidalia, Ga / Simple Battery (State Warrant)

Price, Nyque Martiez BM 28 YOA/511 N. Jackson St. Mt Vernon, Ga/Out of County Hold

Berry, Anthony Tyrone BM 27 YOA/220 Geiger St. Mt Vernon, Ga/ Parole Violation

Gibbons, Nathaniel Deandre-Johnathan BM 24 YOA/800Ward St. Vidalia, Ga/Warrant Served/Carrying Concealed Weapons

Boyd, Jarvis Jataka BM / 26 YOA / 519 Flint Ave Albany Ga/ Arson 1St Degree (Felony)

Perez-Ortiz, Arael H/M/41 YOA/ 1468 GA Hwy 292 E Lyons Ga / Driving Due Care Hands Free (Misd) / No Drivers License

Dixon, James Franklin / WM 32 YOA/ 4384 Hwy 15 Vidalia Ga /Warrant Service / Theft By Receiving Stolen Property

Forrest, Patrick B/M 39 YOA / 408 Dickerson Dr, Vidalia, Ga/Expired tag, No Drivers License, Warrant Served (Toombs Co.)

Dixon,Tara Renee – W/F – 45 YOA – 233 E. Thompson St. Lyons, Ga / Theft by Shoplifting

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Franky Banderas, Lyons, possession with intent to distribute cocaine

Rollison Higgs, Collins, DUI, open container, traffic violations

Caleb Cook, Lyons, DUI, possession of amphetamines, speeding

Kaitlynn Joyner, Lyons, possession of amphetamines, drug related objects, crossing guard lines with prohibited items

Hunter Clifton, Vidalia, possession of amphetamines

Kayte Blalock, Green Cove Springs, FL, DUI

Nicole Correll, Vidalia, DUI, open container, traffic violations

M. Brubaker, Swainsboro, warrant served

William Campbell, McRae, possession of a controlled substance and drug related objects, illegal parking

James Mathews, Oak Park, DUI, possession of methamphetamine and drug related objects, traffic violations

Vickie Dees, Lyons, DUI

Shontavia White, Lyons, public drunkeness, disorderly conduct, possession of drug related objects, obstruction

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Brianna Berry, Vidalia, false statements, concealment of facts

William Campbell, McRae, probation violation

Robert Carver, Uvalda, probation violation

Vickie Dees, Lyons, DUI

Anthony Garrett, Lyons, driving with suspended license

Charles Graham, Lyons, probation violation, possession / sale of controlled substances

Daniel Rountree, Vidalia, theft of auto, theft by taking

Eugene Spears, Lyons, financial card fraud

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

02/25-Tiffani Michelle Hardee, Dublin, Bench Warrant, Bondsman Off Bond

02/25-Carlos Hernandez, Vidalia, Driving While Unlicensed

02/25-Abiezer Mezquititla Garcia, Vidalia, Driving While Unlicense

02/25-Nikki Leeann Hullender, Tarrytown, DUI/Drugs

02/27-Corey Derante Hunt, Vidalia, Items Prohibited for Possession by Inmates

02/27-Linda Kaye Higginbotham, Glenwood, Theft by Receiving Stolen Property

03/02-Clint Walker, Vidalia, Speeding, DUI

03/02-Connie Dean Halligan, Ailey, Disorderly Conduct

March 8--  Nine student employees of Chick-fil-A in Vidalia each received a $2,500 college scholarship from the corporate Chick-fil-A Foundation in a presentation ceremony Friday afternoon attended by local officials, friends and family. 

chickchecksBritt McDade, Operator of the Vidalia Store, presented checks to Brandon Hinkson, Mary Zeigler, Christopher Scoggins, Ryan Rutan, Jenna Grace Morrison, Caleb Henry, Taylor Dykes, Brandon DeLeon and Bailey Burgess.

(This is the sixth in our series of reports on the 2019 Teen Maze in Toombs County)

March 8--  Judges, prosecutors, public defenders and juvenile case workers tried to get the attention of eighth graders during this year's Teen Maze in Toombs County.

Public defender Kim Cameron from the Oconee Judicial Circuit said her bottom line to the middle school students was think before you act, "A lot of the things that carry the greatest consequences are simple things they never imagine will get them the penalties and punishment they end up with.  It's those simple things that carry the most weight.  We're just trying to get them to think before they do certain things and we're hoping we can touch them a little bit in that respect."

Adrian McClellan is a case worker with he Department of Juvenile Justice and he believes the Teen Maze is serving its purpose,"It's great. Looking at these eighth graders, you can tell by looking at their eyes that it really hits home and they didn't know.  You see the wheels turning like 'maybe I shouldn't have done so-and-so and I'll stop it.'  It has been a big help and also it's good exposure so they know how with juvenile probation and the court system we're not out to get them, we're here to help them.  They just think we're here to lock everybody up, but at the end of the day, we're trying to help prevent them from being locked up."

Toombs County State Court Judge Tommy J. Smith said he wants the kids to know that if they end up in court, there can be serious consequences, "Even though they may be a juvenile, they could be charged as an adult.  We let them understand that for some of these offenses, they could actually be facing life in prison.  A juvenile can be charged and prosecuted as an adult in certain circumstances and we tried to communicate that to them."

March 7--  On Tuesday Vidalia High School hosted the Region 2-AA Literary competition at the new high school and VHS students won the Region title for the sixth year in a row.

The competition included 12 events and high school students from Vidalia, Metter, Jeff Davis County, Toombs County, Bryan County and Swainsboro.

Vidalia students won first place in seven of the twelve events.  The winners advance to state competition in Warner Robbins on March 16th.

Vidalia student winners include:

Boys Quartet – Landon Miller, Landon Lindsey, Walker Wheeler, and Luke Stinnett.

Trio –Emma Braddy, Joy McCullough, and Lyric Wardlaw. Boys Solo –Walker Wheeler.

Duo Oral Performance – Hannah Conner and Dylan Dykes.

Humorous Oral Performance – Jariyah Williams. International Extemperanious Speaking – Walker McCord.

Rhetorical Essay – Hannah Conner.

Also placing for Vidalia and earning team points were:

Girls Solo – 2nd -- Joy McCullough.

Domestic Extemporaneous Speaking – 4th –- Mikkelle Peters.

Vidalia finished with 55 overall points. Metter placed 2nd with 44 points, Jeff Davis 3rd with 38 points, Toombs County 4th with 19 points, Bryan County 5th with 15 points, and Swainsboro 6th with 10 points.

Carrie Beth Davis is the Literary coordinator for Vidalia High School, and John Morgan is the Music Director.

vhsliterary19Members of Vidalia High School Literary Team who won the Region 2-AA title are (L to R) Dylan Dykes, Walker McCord, Reagan Miller, Walker Wheeler, Landon Lindsey, Landon Miller, John Morgan – Music Director, Joy McCullough, Emma Braddy, Jariyah Williams, Hannah Conner, Carrie Beth Davis – Literary Coordinator. Not Pictured – Luke Stinnett, Ryan Norfleet.

March 7-- The Toombs County High School Guitar Ensemble earned straight superior ratings at the Giocoso Guitar Festival this past Saturday in Suwanee, Georgia.


Ensemble members are (L-R) Alex Meads, Jayden Walters, Tony Walker, Clayton Creamer, Carlo Latoy, Juan Guttierez

The group celebrated their accomplishment at Antico Pizza in Atlanta. The Ensemble is under the direction of Noah Bullard. 

March 6--  A Vidalia Heritage Academy student, Noel Smith, won the state title in piano in the Division A GICAA literary competition and Briley Braddy won first in region competition for International Extemporaneous Speaking.

vhapianoThe VHA team finished third in the State Championship (just one point away from 2nd place), with some outstanding performances:
            1st place and State Champion, Noel Smith for Piano.
            2nd place, Briley Braddy for International Extemporaneous Speaking
            2nd place, Bryson Henriott for US Extemporaneous Speaking
            2nd place, Will Hutcheson, Lauren Adams, Olivia Harrelson, Elliot Sammons for   Quartet/Ensemble
            3rd place, Lauren Adams, Olivia Harrelson, Lydia Sammons for Girls Trio
            4th place, Helen Baird for Dramatic Interpretation

The VHA Literary Team finished as runner up in the Region with these impressive individual awards:

            1st place, Briley Braddy for International Extemporaneous Speaking
            2nd place, Bryson Henriott for US Extemporaneous Speaking
            2nd place, Noel Smith for Piano
            2nd place, Lauren Adams, Olivia Harrelson, Lydia Sammons for Girls Trio
            2nd place, Will Hutcheson, Lauren Adams, Olivia Harrelson, Elliot Sammons for Quartet
            3rd place, Helen Baird for Dramatic Interpretation
            3rd place, Will Hutcheson for Boys Solo
            3rd place, Macy Todd and Helen Baird for Duo Interpretation
            3rd place, Bryson Henriott for Rhetorical Essay
            4th place, Elliot Sammons for Argumentative Essay

vhaliterary19Front Row: Elliot Sammons, Helen Baird, Macy Todd, Lydia Sammons, Lauren Adams, Christy Scoggins

Back Row: Bryson Henriott, Briley Braddy, Will Hutcheson, Noel Smith, Olivia Harrelson

Coach Christy Scoggins praised her team, “These students did so well and we are so proud of first year participant, Noel Smith, and her state championship for piano. She was amazing. We are disappointed we didn’t win the overall state title for the fourth year in a row but understand that it is not always about winning and losing. It’s about learning, growing, and representing Christ.”

This year’s region event was held at Brewton-Parker College and the State Championship was held at Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, GA.

March 6--  An Emanuel County grand jury has returned a 17-count indictment against a Vidalia businessman.

johnwelchForty-nine-year year old John Welch was arrested by the GBI in early January on six counts of child molestation and two counts of aggravated child molestation.

District Attorney Hayward Altman sought additional charges against Welch and the grand jury indicted him on eight counts of child molestation, three counts for enticing a child for indecent purposes, three counts of sexual battery against a child under age 16, two counts of aggravated child molestation and one count of statutory rape.  The allegations in the indictments date back to 2014.

The GBI says one of Welch's victims lives in Vidalia and two others were Vidalia residents at the time of the crimes.

Welch lives just north of the Toombs County line in Emanuel County and is Chief Executive Officer of Accordia Urgent Care in Vidalia, Dublin and Warner Robins.

March 7-- The City of Lyons in saving millions of dollars and increasing the distribution capacity of its wastewater treatment plants in a move that has major economic development implications for Toombs County.

At its March city council meeting, the council selected the low bid from McLendon Enterprises of Toombs County of $5,871,623.36 to upgrade the city's north and east wastewater treatment plants and to build a sewage main connecting the two plants. 

The connector enables the city to shift treatment capacity to where it's needed most, according to Mayor Willis NeSmith, "A forced main pipe that is actually going to be able to force main it from the East Plant to the North Plant, and vice versa, so if one of them is getting close to capacity we can pump it to the other plant and that's a great thing for us.  That's going to help us at our North plant to be able to give us about another two to three hundred thousand gallons a day capacity for the industrial park.  We're looking at about 400,000 gallons additional capacity we can offer potential industries."

Two years ago the city council was stunned when the lowest bid on the project was nearly $17 million dollars, so it went back to the drawing board and allowed contractors to design their own approaches to solving the city's wastewater treatment problem.  McLendon Enterprises was one of four companies that took part in the process.

"We're looking at around $6 million we're going to be spending to get all this done.  These plants will be able to go another 30 years and that's going to be a great savings. It's taken a long time, but we feel like the time and heartache we'll been through is going to be well worth it," the Mayor said.

The shortage of wastewater treatment capacity at the Toombs County Industrial Park on U.S. north of Lyons has limited the number of companies interested in locating in the park's new "spec" building.

Toombs County Development Authority Director Michelle Johnson says the action by the Lyons city council will make Toombs County more competitive recruiting new industries.

March 6--  Vidalia's historic Pal Theater underwent a $2.1 million dollar remake at city expense and reopened its doors in January, 2018. 

After more than a year of operation, the city held a grand opening to give citizens a look at the finished product which showcased a $57,330.50 interior decorating project.

pal3City records show that "The Pal" lost just over $25,000 during its first year not including the interior decorating costs which were classified as a one time capital expenditure.  Salaries of $22,295.79 plus operating expenses led to the deficit.

Rentals of "The Pal" for events like wedding receptions and business meetings earned the most money at $8,185.00, special events like concerts netted $1,309.96 and the showing of movies during the year lost $638.55 including ticket sales and concessions. 

City Finance Director Bill Bedingfield calculated the theater needs an average movie attendance of 42 to break even but only averaged 23.

Meanwhile, the owners of the Sweet Onion Cinema in Vidalia object to what they call unfair competition from the city.  Melanie Parker says, "It's difficult enough running a small business and being successful in it in today's world.  When you are faced with a competitor who doesn't play on the same playing field as you, it makes it even more difficult and challenges us to work harder just a little bit more.  We don't have the same benefits as the city in operating a business.  We have to turn a profit in order to pay our bills.  We don't have the unlimited tax base money that they do."

Vidalia City Manager Nick Overstreet reacts by saying, "Our facility is geared toward live events.  We've had plenty of them already and during 2019 we have at least have one live event scheduled for every month.  As far as the movies go, they are not primarily the Pal's function.  We are not showing new movies, but actually show movies which have been out for some time, so we don't actually consider that competition for our local cinema."

The city manager says an overall loss in the first year of operation was not unexpected, however, he predicts a much better year in 2019.

"The Pal" operates under the overall umbrella of the Vidalia Convention and Visitors Bureau which is funded by local hotel and motel taxes.

In 2018, it showed revenues of $249,173.20 and expenses of $296,705.24 for a loss of $47,532.04.

March 5--  The Toombs County Development Authority held a welcome luncheon for Robert Bolden, new manager of the Ingersoll-Rand Trane plant in Vidalia.  The plant has been in Vidalia since 1990 and is a major employer manufacturing residential air handlers.

BOLDEN(L-R)  Greg Johnson, Vidalia City Council; Allen Crump, Trane; Kailey Dees, Vidalia City Council; Harry Moses, Toombs County Development Authority; Mayor Ronnie Dixon, City of Vidalia; Greg Hudgins, Georgia Power; Pat Dixon, Toombs-Montgomery Chamber of Commerce; David Yarbrough, Southeastern Technical College; Michele Johnson, Toombs-Montgomery Chamber of Commerce and Toombs County Development Authority; Scott MacGregor, Trane; Brenda Macoy, Georgia Department of Labor; Robert Bolden, Trane; Terry Thompson, Toombs-Montgomery Chamber of Commerce; Nick Overstreet, City of Vidalia; Tres Herin, Toombs-Montgomery Chamber of Commerce; John Robison, Toombs County Development Authority; Jason Hall, City of Lyons; and Donnie Alderman, Toombs County Development Authority.

March 5--  Last night 21 students from Vidalia High School, Toombs County High School, Montgomery County High School and Robert Toombs Christian Academy graduated from the Toombs-Montgomery Youth Leadership Program.

The program is designed to motivate the future leaders of our community and is organized by the Toombs-Montgomery Chamber of Commerce with Co-Chairs Jose Caraballo and Sean Sasser.

Applications for next year’s class will be delivered to each school counselor the last week of March. Students in grades 10th-12th may apply.

tmyl19jpgFront row (L-R):  Carlie Morgan, Hannah Keene, Carrington Long, Nancy McKenzie, Mackinzie Craft, Grace Blount, Stella Fulford, Kayla Waters, Sarah Tuck, Mary Hayes Palmer.

Back row (L-R): Payton Nance, Shane Moore, John David Hodges, Cody Masterman-Smith, Darby Connell, Baylee Williamson, Haleigh Moses, Adam Morris, Logan Reid, Zachary Barrow, Fernando Zayas.

(This is the fifth in our series regarding the 2019 Teen Maze in Toombs County)

March 4--  Georgia ranks 33rd in the country in teenage suicides and middle-school students who took part in this year's Teen Maze in Toombs County were encouraged to seek help by mental health counselor Ashley Moore with the psychotherapy firm Leighann White and Company, "We hope to relieve the stigma of therapy, you're not crazy if you reach out for help.  Everyone needs to reach out for help.  We all need that connection with others."

ashleymooreSuicide ranks second behinds accidents as the biggest killer of teens, "A of times kids will have already tried to verbalize these feelings to others.  They don't typically do it directly, but have other little ways to reach out and say I need some help or I'm having these feelings.  It gets overlooked so often and then we start to see drastic changes in behavior, lashing out, being secluded and isolating themselves and withdrawing from humanity.  That helps them get to the point of the drastic decision to commit suicide.

"I feel like there's definitely a crisis, not only in our country, but in this community as well with kids feeling they are unheard and their absence wouldn't even be felt if they decided to make that choice," Moore said.

The Teen Maze provided an opportunity to discuss coping with life, "We want them to be able to cope with life in appropriate ways so they're not feeling secluded or isolated.  Also, so they can express themselves in appropriate ways to be able to reach out to others and not cause themselves trauma or to be able to recover from trauma inflicted on them by others," Moore noted.

She also has advice about how you may be able to help, "You know, they might not open up to you immediately, but just let them know you are there for them and that your priority is their well-being, not about punishment or condemning them for any decisions they've made.  It's most important for kids to know we support them and to also provide them with resources.  If they're not comfortable with us, at least get them to talk with someone else."

March 4-- The Alston-Center Road is closed from now through March 15 for repaving and the county is urging motorists to stay off the road. 

roaddetourCounty Manager Brandon Braddy reports motorists are driving around the barricades and urges them to follow the detour signs which are up at the work site.

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.

By State Senator Jack Hill of Reidsville


The Senate passed SB106, "The Patients First Act". This bill will allow the Governor to submit an application to the United States Secretaries of Health and Human Services and the Treasury for an 1115 waiver and a 1332 waiver of applicable provisions of the Federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

If the waiver is approved, the state is authorized to implement waivers that could extend Medicaid coverage to citizens with incomes below 100% of the poverty line with certain other conditions that could include work requirements and incentives to visit primary care physicians instead of emergency rooms.

The 1332 waiver would allow the state to employ innovative tactics, like high-risk pools and re-insurance programs, to encourage more health insurance companies to join the Georgia market and drive down costs for citizens purchasing individual health insurance plans.


SB 68: Adds "financial management" to the list of skills and training required of local board of education members. Requires the Department of Audits and Accounts to designate certain schools as high risk and requires those designated schools to submit and approved correction plan.

SB 73: Allows for fines collected for the Peace Officer's Annuity and Benefit Fund to be deducted and remitted by the clerk of the court directly to the secretary-treasurer of the fund.

SB 66: Streamlines the deployment of wireless broadband in public rights of way.

SB 18: Allows physicians to enter into direct primary care agreements with patients for a fee and without being subject to insurance regulations.

SB 115: Allows the Georgia Composite Medical Board to issue telemedicine licenses to physicians outside of Georgia who are licensed in Georgia.

SB 118: Requires health benefit plans to provide coverage for telemedicine and telehealth services.

HB 62: Requires health care facilities to notify a patient when a mammogram demonstrates dense breast tissue.

SB 15: "Keeping Georgia's Schools Safe Act"; Requires public and private schools to perform threat assessments. Requires GEMA to develop a program for certifying school safety coaches. Creates a smartphone app to anonymously report suspicious activity.

SB 65: Provides that the transfer of a title between legal entities owned by the same person does not require a second TAVT fee payment.

SB 149: Eliminates the requirement that a law enforcement officer have a vehicle towed that does not have the proper tag validation.

HB 183: Allows a taxpayer to appeal their property tax assessment even if they failed to file a property tax return.


HB 85: Exempts organ procurement organizations from sales and use tax.

HB 105: Exempts payments to taxpayers from disaster relief or assistance programs administered by the United States from state income tax.

HB 226: Extends the repeal date for Joshua's Law (Driver Training) to June 30, 2022.

HB 228: Raises the minimum age of marriage from 16 to 17 years old, and requires that those who are 17 years old be legally independent. Requires premarital education.


Homebuilders from Tattnall, environmentalists from Candler and Emanuel, educators from Effingham and Bulloch, a judge from Tattnall.


SB 160: Requires all occupants, including children under 8, of a passenger vehicle to wear a seatbelt in both the front and back seat.

SB 161: Allows for weighted scores for AP, Dual Enrollment, and International Baccalaureate courses adjusting the GPA for HOPE Scholarship and Zell Miller Scholarship eligibility.

SB 164: Revises provisions regarding what circumstances persons accused of crimes may be released on their own recognizance including offenses that are violations of local ordinances. Prohibits persons charged with a felony from being released on their own recognizance.

SB 165: Provides for the designation of a nonprofit organization to govern high school athletics in Georgia.

SB 175: Requires school systems to make employer and employee contributions to the Teachers Retirement System of Georgia for TRS retirees working less than 50%.

SB 199: Requires the drinking water in child care learning centers and schools to be tested for lead contamination.

By: Sen. Blake Tillery (R – Vidalia)

 This week marked days 21-25 of the 40 day legislative session. The pace of the process has continued to crescendo toward the Crossover Day deadline (Day 28), with the Senate taking up 28 bills this week.

The Senate has heard the cries of our friends and neighbors loud and clear on healthcare cost, including health insurance premiums. Tuesday, five bills passed the Senate that attack this issue from various angles.  Imagine being able to speak to a doctor via FaceTime on your cell phone or computer.  How much time could you save if the doctor could give you instructions at home and assess whether you needed to visit a hospital at all? How much cheaper would this visit be? Senate Bills 115 and 118 employ telehealth (allowing doctors visits over internet connections) technologies and provide mechanisms for these visits to occur and be covered via health insurance plans.  These bills passed the Senate unanimously.

What if you could avoid insurance companies altogether and contract directly with your doctor for care? Senate Bill 18 addresses this matter and clarifies that such contracts are NOT bound by insurance company regulations.  It passed the Senate overwhelmingly.

What if the state could place work requirements on Medicaid benefits?  Senate Bill 106 allows Governor Kemp to apply for two waivers from the federal government; one would allow Georgia to reform Medicaid by possibly including work requirements, incentives to visit primary care physicians instead of emergency rooms, and co-pays for doctors’ visits, among other reforms. The 2nd waiver would allow Georgia to develop a re-insurance or high risk pool program to drive down the monthly premium costs many of our citizens are paying for their private market individual health insurance plans. 

Right now we only have one insurance company selling individual health insurance plans in our area.   If there were only one gas station in town, how high would the cost of gasoline be? Re-insurance and high risk pool programs encourage other private insurance companies to re-enter the Georgia market, driving down private market health insurance premium costs for all Georgians.  Senate Bill 106 passed the Senate on a party-line vote 32-20.

With Crossover Day coming Thursday, bills must be out of committee before 10:00am on March 4th to be considered this year.  Several major pieces of legislation have not yet cleared that hurdle.

One is Senate Bill 2- allowing EMC’s to expand broadband. Years of hard work and compromise have gone into making this legislation as perfect as it can be and I would like to see it pass.

Additionally, in both the Senate (SB 218) and the House (HB 481), legislation was introduce to protect our state’s most vulnerable population: our unborn children. This legislation essentially bans abortion, pending the overturn of Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court.  This a priority of the Governor, as he understands the sanctity of life begins at conception. These bills were filed late, so they may not make it over the Crossover deadline, but they are some of the measures I’ll be supporting throughout the course of the session.  Should they not make the Crossover deadline, they will still be available next January.

Items getting a lot of attention this year that I don’t believe will make it through by the Crossover deadline include gambling, horse racing, and Certificate of Need reform. While the gambling and horse racing bills are being pushed as supporting rural Georgia, they include a requirement that one of the races be held “within 50 miles of a 5-runway airport.”  The only 5-runway airport in Georgia is Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta.   I’m not sure how an Atlanta horse race helps us in Southeast Georgia. I recently including an amended requiring the new business court be located in Macon instead of Atlanta.  If the individuals advance horse racing really want it to benefit rural Georgia, let’s see them include similar language requiring all races occur “more than 100 miles outside of Atlanta.”  I do not think they are willing to do that.  As for Certificate of Need Reform, we’ll continue to look at this as an option to reduce healthcare cost for our state in the future. 

So many other things are occurring right now, I feel this column is only beginning to scratch the surface.  Revenue numbers for February will come in this week.  If they are anything like the dismissal $300 million decrease we saw in January, there will be no additional money for any state endeavor, including education and healthcare.   In fact, should this continue, those areas, like all others, will likely see cuts. 

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.         


By State Representative Greg Morris of Vidalia

March 4-- Crossover Day is scheduled for Thursday of this week. That is the last day a bill can pass and move from one Chamber to the other. These are measures that have either passed last week or are still moving through committee

2020 Budget. The House passed next years state budget last Thursday. The budget spends a record $27.5 billion. 79% of the 1 billion dollar increase is being spent on education. Most of the rest of it will be spent on the ever increasing cost of healthcare. Of course, this budget is balanced as required by the Constitution. I will point out that currently only six states spend less per citizen than Georgia does. In fact how much we spend per person has not changed significantly in the last 15 years. The increase in spending is because of our population growth.

Teacher Pay Raise/Education Funding. The budget does, for the second year in a row, fully fund the QBE formula for public schools. The budget also calls for a $2775.00 raise for teachers, as well as all other certified school employees such as counselors, and psychologists. Gov. Kemps original budget called for a $3000 raise for 100,000 classroom teachers at a cost of 480 million. That was 35 million less than it would cost to cover all certified educators . The House chose what we felt like would be a more equitable plan and give all educators the same raise. Local education officials that I have talked to said the move will save local dollars in that they would have been compelled to raise the non-classroom educators themselves.

Casino Gambling/ Constitutional Amendment. I mentioned last week I thought the effort to put casino gaming on next years ballot may succeed this session. That came one step closer when Gov. Kemp signaled he would not oppose the the amendment being placed on the ballot if the new funds were used to fund the HOPE Scholarship. Remember, the voters would choose themselves in the November 2020 General Election whether to allow casinos in Georgia. The question on the ballot would be “Should casino gambling be legalized to preserve the long-term financial stability of the HOPE scholarship and other education programs?”.

Hemp Farming. The House voted to allow farmers to grow industrial hemp last week. Hemp can be processed into cannabidiol- also called CBD- is legal under federal law because it contains lees than 0.3% of THC. CBD is processed into droplets,capsules and creams and found in most nutrition stores. This was H.B.213. Another bill, H.B. 324, would allow the cultivation of medical marijuana containing 5% THC. I do not support H.B. 324.

Pro-Life/ H.B.481. If we are successful, Georgia would have the most restrictive abortion law in the United States. H.B. 481, introduced by Rep. Ed Setztler , would require physicians performing abortions to determine the existence of a heartbeat before performing an abortion. This would be much tougher than the bill we passed that bans abortions after 20 weeks. I support this bill wholeheartedly, and Gov. Kemp has committed to signing it if the Legislature passes H.B.481.

(This is the fourth in a series of reports on the 2019 Teen Maze in Toombs County)

March 1--  Smoking is down among teenagers, but vaping is up and that's not a good thing according to Ursula Spence with Rural Health Works.

ursulasigs"There was a 78% increase in 2018 of high school students vaping these nicotine cartridges and a 48% increase among middle school students.  The unfortunate part is when these young brains are developing, users are introducing nicotine into their system which are increasing nicotine receptors on their brain which in turn will turn them into some kind of addict of nicotine down the line."

Spence and representatives from the Central Georgia Cancer Coalition spoke with 8th graders during the Teen Maze and warned them about chemicals associated with vaping.

"Recently the Food and Drug Administration removed the use of Diacetyl in vape cartridges because it's a chemical that's been linked to lung cancer and other cancers.  It's a horrible combination of addiction and trying to show that it's safer than smoking.  Smoking and vaping are not safe and kids should just stay away," according to Spence.

"They are unaware that one vaped puff is the equivalent of two cigarette's worth of nicotine.  Kids might smoke the entire cartridge in a day and that's 20 packs of cigarettes in one day worth of nicotine that they are exposing their brains to," she noted.

Zack CapitolATLANTA (March 1, 2019) Sen. Blake Tillery (R – Vidalia) welcomed Zack Fowler, his family and Georgia Association of Broadcasters President Bob Houghton to the Senate in honor of Mr. Fowler’s induction into the Georgia Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

Front Row (L-R) Senator Tillery, Anne and Zack Fowler, sister-in-law Jane Frisbee; Back Row (L-R) Senator Jack Hill of Reidsville, Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan, brother-in-law Rick Frisbee.

“I was honored to have Mr. Fowler and his family with me in the chamber to recognize this accomplishment and the commitment he has shown to our community and nation,” said Sen. Tillery. “He is a tenacious, hard-working and – most importantly – fair broadcaster who works to uphold the highest standard in journalism. Not only has he served his community through his career as a journalist, but also through 27 years of military service and volunteer work with a multitude of organizations, including the Boys and Girls Club and United Way. Our community is indebted to him for his work to ensure we are up to date on all the local and statewide news. He is truly a man worthy of this Hall of Fame induction.”

Fowler is a native of Vidalia and a graduate of the Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia. He is General Manager of Vidalia Communications which provides the main source of news to a 50 mile radius through three radio stations and an online news service.

Fowler served in the U.S. Army for 27 years where he was Director, Army Broadcasting Service and Commander of American Forces Radio and Television networks in Europe and Korea.