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May 31--  Vidalia City Council member Lisa Chesser says she's not ready to make an announcement on her plans to seek re-election,  but if she does run again, she will face opposition.

loganlawrenceheadshotVidalia native Logan Lawrence has completed an internship at the White House and has returned home to announce his candidacy for the Fourth Ward seat.

He issued the following announcement this week.


May 31-- The Board of Trustees at Brewton-Parker College in Mount Vernon has voted to update the institutional mission statement to better align with the college’s academic growth.

The new mission states, “As a comprehensive Georgia Baptist institution, Brewton-Parker College provides liberal arts and professional programs in a learning community of shared Christian values. Through the application of biblical truth in scholarship and a co-curricular focus on character, servant leadership, and cultural engagement, the college strives to provide a transformational experience that equips the whole student for lifelong learning and service in Christ.”

echolsIn April, BPC President Dr. Steve Echols addressed the board to clarify the need for a stronger, more comprehensive mission statement. He stated, “While true that we are grounded in the liberal arts, with our business and education programs, and with the prospect of adding nursing in two years, strictly speaking we no longer are a liberal arts institution, but rather a ‘comprehensive’ college that offers both liberal arts and professional programs.”

He went on to explain that the revised mission statement would also clarify the college’s goals for teaching, learning, and service. In addition, the revision would align with the college’s foundational statements, including the vision and core values, which are based on elements of the college’s faith confession.

As BPC grows its academic programs with sights on a new nursing program, revising this mission statement to include both liberal arts and professional programs was vital.

The statement defines the college’s role within the higher education community and acts as the foundation for all BPC does. As the only SACSCOC accredited 4-year Christian college south of Macon and north of Jacksonville, Florida, the college maintains this unique role by providing South Georgia with an option for a quality education presented through a biblical worldview.

By updating its mission statement to reflect the college’s comprehensive programs, BPC further strengthens its stance as South Georgia’s Christian College.

May 31--  A 45-year-old Lyons man is facing an 18-count indictment regarding sex with children under the age of ten.

johnjoeybrannonA Toombs County grand jury indicted Joey John Brannon of 292 Green Oak Road for two counts of aggravated sodomy, aggravated child molestation, aggravated sexual battery and 14 counts of sexual exploitation of a child during the first four months of this year.  According to the indictment, Brannon used minors, including a two-year-old, to create digital videos of various sex acts.

Other indictments returned by the grand jury.

* Cole Anthony Dowd and Dalton Gunner Carter for computer pornography by using Craig's List to entice a child under 16 for unlawful sexual acts.

* Rodney Donte Byrd for failing to register in Toombs County as a sex offender on a 2007 conviction in Gwinnett County.

*Three people indicted for food stamp fraud are Lamanda Lewis, Jasmine Oglesby and Jessica Simpkins McCall.

*George Ashley Lewis for accepting insurance payments to Progressive Insurance from clients Melba Martin and Claudia Henry and using the money for his personal use.

* Jarvis Jataka Boyd, Jr. for arson and burglary at the "Inspire Vidalia Church" at 200 Southwest Main Street.

* Lisa June Goodwin, Steve Douglas Strickland  and James Otis Joiner, Jr. for possession of methamphetamine.

*Brett Anthony Hutcheson for burglary at the home of Stephanie Jaurez at 171 Arrow Trail in Lyons.

* Christina Ann Boyles and William Jeffrey Tant for receiving a truck stolen from Augustina Baza.

*  William Alvin Flowers, Jr., for possession of cocaine.

* Anthony Heard for aggravated assault.

May 31--  The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has arrested the sheriff of Bacon County.

baconsheriffSheriff Mark Cothren was booked into the Bacon County jail in Alma after being charged with battery, elder abuse and violating his oath of office.

According to the GBI, the charges stemmed from an incident May 22 when Cothern grabbed 75-year-old John Daniel Melton by the throat while they were talking near the sheriff's office.

The GBI provided no details regarding what led up to the confrontation other to say that Melton was not in custody and that he did not strike the sheriff.

Meanwhile, the Georgia Sheriff's Association has asked Governor Brian Kemp to investigate if Sheriff Cothren should be suspended with pay while the case is pending.

The 50-year-old Cothern was elected sheriff in 2016 after working in the Bacon County Sheriff's office in various capacities since 1990.

May 30--  Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker is running for Sheriff in Toombs County.

walkerfamilyChief Walker made his announcement at Lyons City Hall with members of his family (L-R) sister Holly Jones and sons Spencer and Stetson.

Chief Walker has been chief in Lyons seven years and announced Thursday he will challenge incumbent Sheriff Junior Kight who is seeking his fifth term in office, "It's time for a new face.  It's time for new, fresh ideas to be brought to Toombs County and I've got those, not only from what I've learned here in Lyons, but from other areas in the state of Georgia.  It's not always about what we do here, sometimes you get better ideas from other places, and I've experienced those and I can bring those ideas to the Toombs County Sheriff's Office and make it a better place I think," he said.

walkerofficersMembers of the Lyons Police Department joined Chief Walker for the announcement of his candidacy.

Chief Walker is the incoming President of the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police and has prior experience at sheriff's offices in Camden and Thomas Counties, "I've done everything you can do in a sheriff's office.  I've worked in the jail, I've done patrol, I've done investigations, I've served papers, I've managed a sheriff's office and done budgets and presented them to county commissioners.  Doing the job is not a problem, I've got the training and experience to do that," Walker said.

According to Chief Walker, changes are taking place in law enforcement, "It's a new era in law enforcement.  The way we police has changed over the past ten years.  We have to stay in touch with our community through social media, through our schools and staying in touch with young people.  That's a big part of law enforcement these days, it's not all about just locking up the bad guys, you've got to be in touch with the community and I think I can bring those changes and ideas to the sheriff's office to make a difference," he noted.

The primary election for sheriff is May 19 of next year.

May 29-- Robin Builders in Lyons is planning to double its workforce to 120 and invest $4.6 million dollars in a relocation to the Toombs Corporate Center on U.S. Highway 1 north of Lyons.

robinbuilders(L-R) Harry Moses, TCDA Member; Mayor Willis NeSmith, City of Lyons; Trent Williams, TCDA Chair; Wayne Hartley, President, Robin Builders, Inc.; Chris Hartley, Robin Builders; Michele Johnson, TCDA Executive Director; Senator Blake Tillery; David Sikes, Toombs County Commission Chair; Chris Hopkins, TCDA Member; Reid Threlkeld, TCDA Member; and Donnie Alderman, TCDA Member.

The company is purchasing 49 acres at the intersection of U.S. Highway 1 and Georgia Highway 130 from the Toombs County Development Authority for $407,134.00.

"We are just as excited as we can be.  We have grown through the years and urgently need more space," said company President Wayne Hartley.  Robin Builders located in Lyons is currently landlocked on nine acres of land on both sides of U.S. 1 South. "This will give us the opportunity to create a new facility with processes and equipment and space designed for our needs.  It's the future of our organization and we're just excited and proud to be able to take it to this next level," he said.

Hartley says a groundbreaking for the new plant will be held in the next few weeks. He predicts it will take up to a year to build the new facility and relocate from the old location.

Robin Builders manufactures a wide variety of modular utility structures, including storage buildings, greenhouses, play houses, screen rooms. The structures are sold and distributed direct to the public as well as to a network of dealers located throughout the southeastern United States.

Hartley also noted, “Our company is proud to be operating in the City of Lyons now for 49 years. We are happy to continue to invest in the community as a result of our great partnership with all of our stakeholders, especially the Toombs County Development Authority and the City of Lyons. We look forward to enjoying many more successes together.”

The Chairman of the Toombs County Development Authority, Trent Williams, said, “We are thrilled that Robin Builders chose to expand their facility in Toombs County. The Company has been a great partner for the Toombs County community since 1970. I am confident that this expansion project will positively impact the local community and encourage continued success in Toombs County’s strong manufacturing base.”

“Robin Builders is one of Lyons’ finest corporations,” said Lyons Mayor, Willis NeSmith. “Their expansion into the industrial park leaves additional opportunity and space in a desirable intersection in Lyons and we’re excited where that leads as well.”

“Our community is excited to work with Robin Builders on their expansion,” said Toombs County Commission Chairman David Sikes, “They continue to be a superior corporate partner and we are grateful for the quality jobs and investment in Toombs County.”

“While many communities only chase the ‘next big thing’, the Toombs County Development Authority realizes we already have businesses in our community supporting our local schools, families and tax base,” said Development Authority Executive Director Michele Johnson. “When they succeed, our community succeeds. We are proud to partner in the expansion of a home-grown industry in Robin Builders today and we’re excited about the new jobs and investment they are about to make.”

May 28--  The Vidalia Police Department reports the following arrests.

Cribbs, Christina J.- W/F- 30 YOA- 2595 Johnson Corner Rd Lyons, GA- No Insurance 1st, Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (First),Operate Motor Vehicle with No Tags, Failure to Obey Stop/Yeild Sign

Sharpe, Haskell Edward- B/M- 83 YOA- 403 Second Ave Vidalia, GA- False Imprisonment (State Warrant)

Gonzalez, Jasmine Sierra- W/F- 19 YOA- 317 Blaxton RdVidalia, GA- Prostitution (State Warrant)

White, Terrence Dwayne- W/M- 44 YOA- 701 Laurel Dr. Vidalia, GA- Criminal Trespass (Motor Vehicle)/Cruelty to Children (State Warrant)

Marshall, Alesia –B/F-29 YOA- 212 Patrick St.- Vidalia- Improper use of 911 call

Bentley, Jeshua Jake- B/M- 27 YOA- 107 Tommie Dr. Vidalia, GA- Seatbelt Violation/Possession of Marijuana Less than Ounce

Jordan, Matthew Spencer- B/M- 42 YOA- 508 Brantley Rd. - Vidalia- Driving Due Care Hands Free, Willfully Obstruction of Police Officer Simple/Verbal

Durden, Dennis Domonique- B/M- 29 YOA- 500 Grand St. Vidalia, GA- Warrant Served (Toombs County SO- Probation)

Stewart, Cassandra- W/F-32 YOA- 1503 E First Street #338 Vidalia, GA- Willfully Obstruction of Police Officer Severe/Forceful (State Warrant)

Aldrige, Amber Nicole- W/F- 27 YOA- 122 Regency Rd. Vidalia, GA- Possession of a Controlled Substance, Fraudulently Obtaining Controlled Substance

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Jason Dozier, Lyons, possession of a controlled substance and drug related objects

Daniel Gutierrez, Lyons, warrant served

Justin Woods, Vidalia, probation violation

Michael Hitchcock, Reidsville, possession of a controlled substance

Wendall Edwards, Reidsville, possession of marijuana and drug related objects

Shontavia White, Lyons, shoplifting, criminal trespass

Lillith McKenzie, Lyons, DUI, expired tag

Marcos Aguilar, DUI, possession of marijuana and drug related objects, traffic violations

Justin Connell, Lyons, DUI, child endangerment, possession of marijuana, traffic viiolations

Tyler Bowen, Lyons,possession of marijuana, seat belt violation

Teshia Guyton, Statesborom, warrant served

Edwin Telesforo-Perez, Lyons, public drunkeness

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Jammie Foskey, Vidalia, Contempt of Court

Hector Gonzalez, Lyons, DUI

Hannah Little, Buford, probation viiolation

Diamond Mancebo, Vidalia, no insurance, removing/affixing license plate to conceal identity of vehicle, following too closely

Princess McRae, Lyons, driving while license suspended/revoked

Vincent Page, Lyons, terrorist threat

Anthony Powell, Lyns, theft by receiving stolen property; purchase, possession, manufacture, distribution and sale of methamphetamine; possession of drug related objects

James Rewis, Vidalia, contempt of court, probation violation

Anne Rocco-Kelly, Uvalda, DUI, failure to maintain lane

Tonya Silvers (Poole), Vidalia, failure to appear

Williams Sparks, Jr., Vidalia, DUI, headlights

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

05/20-Robert Jamar Southerland, Vidalia, Driving w/Suspended License

05/21-Mitchell Dewayne Norfleet, Rocky Face, Ga., Felony Probation Violation

05/21-Kevin Wayne Allen, Daytona Beach, Holding for Volusia County Florida

05/21-Chad Tilman Turner, Uvalda, Felony Probation Violation

05/24-Yolanda Lynnette Braddy, Baxley, Affray

05/24-Shamekia Mariea Holt, Uvalda, Affray

05/24-Larry Earl Simpson, Vidalia, Felony Probation Violation

05/24-Simon Ramos, Uvalda, Burglary

05/26-Marcus Antwine Williams, McRae, Speeding, Possession of Marijuana <1oz.

05/26-Luke Michael Wilkes, Ailey, Possession of Marijuana <1oz.


He oversees nation’s farm policy and he has bone to pick with UGA trade deal study

By Secretary Sonny Perdue

The Macon Telegraph and the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

May 26, 2019

The University of Georgia recently published a study claiming the new United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement would cost some Georgia vegetable and fruit growers revenue and jobs.

The sensational assertions are flat wrong. As a proud UGA alumnus, I’m here to tell you USMCA is good for Georgia’s farmers and all American agriculture.

Chapter by chapter, verse by verse, USMCA improves virtually every component of NAFTA and Georgia’s agriculture industry stands to gain significantly. It’s important to note we didn’t get all the improvements we wanted for seasonal fruits and vegetables. While we were hopeful we could make progress in the renewed NAFTA, USMCA isn’t a step backward. The UGA study assumed we lost ground, but the facts are it wasn’t ground we had to begin with. Since the inception of NAFTA more than 20 years ago, agricultural trade between our three countries has boomed. U.S. exports to Canada and Mexico increased by about 300% and our imports increased by almost 500%, benefiting producers and consumers on both sides of our borders.

Let me give you some real data on Georgia’s agricultural output. Over the past 10 years under NAFTA, Georgia growers have seen vegetable sales increase by more than 23%, fruit and nut sales have gone up more than 100% and crop receipts have gone up more than 50%. Farm income in Georgia grew by more than 20% during that period. From USDA’s most recent Census of Agriculture: blueberry harvested acres increased by 37%, pepper acreage increased 157% and eggplant acreage increased by 45%. While fresh cucumber and tomato acreage decreased 8% for each crop, those changes are nowhere near the assumed damages by the UGA researchers. Furthermore, it is not unreasonable that my fellow Georgians would switch to crops that provide higher levels of profit. That is the beauty of our agricultural system – producers plant for the market, not for the program.

USMCA benefits Georgia’s entire agricultural industry. By ensuring better market access and solidifying commitments to fair and science-based trade rules with our top trading partners, USMCA is a big win. For the first time, trading rules specifically address agricultural biotechnology to support innovation and reduce trade-distorting policies. Poultry producers have new access to Canada for chicken and eggs, and expanded access for turkey. Corn growers maintain duty-free access to Mexico, which is the top market for U.S. corn. USMCA updates rules of origin for processed fruits to ensure preferences benefit U.S. producers.

On my first day as secretary, President Donald Trump promised he’d fight for better deals for American farmers – USMCA is proof of that. Our farmers, ranchers, and producers have an abundance of the highest quality products they want to sell around the globe. President Trump is laying the foundation for a stronger farm economy through USMCA and other fair trade deals. When President Trump first mentioned the possibility of withdrawing from NAFTA, the universal hue and cry from agriculture was “do no harm.” Not only has he done that, USMCA is a better agreement than NAFTA on almost every front.

  Read the full op-ed here.

May 28--  A Toombs County native was named to head the Toombs County Department of Family and Children Service in February and is reaching out to the community.

ashleypayneAshley Payne (right) with Vidalia Rotary Club President Angie McDaniel following her presentation to the club.

Ashley Payne is a 2002 graduate of Robert Toombs Christian Academy and has been with the department for 12 years as an investigator and supervisor.  She says the agency's state director, Tom Rawlings of Sandersville, is emphasizing the importance of a responsive local office staff, "He is advocating for what he calls 'A Front Door Staff' and he's trying to make sure we have the staff we need to accommodate the needs of our families and children in the state of Georgia."

One of Ashley's responsibilities is overseeing foster children in Toombs County and it's a big challenge due to a lack of foster parents.  Right now the county has 64 children in foster care, but only nine foster homes in Toombs County, "We're trying to make sure we're getting homes in Toombs County and I'm trying to recruit foster homes here to make sure we can serve the needs of children in foster care, that's my first focus.  Another focus is to make sure we're exploring all options for children before we place them in foster care, whether that means relatives, whether that means service providers, whether that means education for the family and parents, just anything we can do to prevent foster care placement."

There are currently 69 families in the county receiving Temporary Assistantace to Needy Families (TANF) and almost a quarter of the population is on Medicaid and food stamps.

The agency spends a lot of time investigating reports of child abuse and currently has 18 substantiated cases in Toombs County. 

The new director is also well aware of people's concerns about food stamp fraud, "There is food stamp fraud throughout the state of Georgia.  If you believe there's food stamp fraud going on, please report it.  There's a food stamp fraud division that will investigate the allegations and if it's confirmed, there are repercussions."

To contact DFACS in Toombs County, call Ashley Payne in Lyons at 526-8741.

May 28--  If you enjoy fly fishing, check out "Sports Conversations with Loran Smith" this weekend.

loransmith2Loran's guest is Jimmy Harris of Unicoi Outfitters in Helen discussing flying fishing in North Georgia's many streams and the Chattahoochee River.

You can hear the show Sunday night at 8:05 p.m. on NewsTalk WVOP, AM 970 and FM 105.3 plus streaming on the web at

May 27--  This year is the second Memorial Day observed in Toombs County since the combat death of native son Green Beret Staff Sergeant Dustin Wright and at the local observance the brother of Dustin welcomed the keynote speaker from Fort Stewart.

vfwwillcruzWill Wright with three-month-old Abigail welcomes Lieutenant Colonel Alex Perez-Crux to Vidalia.

Will Wright, also an Army veteran, says Memorial Day means even more to him due to the sacrifice made by his brother, "Losing my brother drove it home at what it costs to be an American and the price the men and women of our armed forces pay.  It definitely has a greater meaning to me now"

Will and his family are appreciative that the people of Toombs County have not forgotten his brother, "Honestly one of my greatest fears with his passing was that it would be just that, a passing, not for his family, but for the community as a whole he might be forgotten. Nothing could be further from the truth.  It's been an honor and a blessing to see our community come together and rally around his name and support us and our armed forces."

Staff Sergeant Wright is one of 83 Toombs County service members who have died in wars since World War I.

vfwshirleycruzThe VFW Auxiliary of Toombs County sponsors the community's Memorial Day observance each year.  Auxiliary President Shirley Curt with LTC Perez-Crux.

The keynote speaker, Lieutenant Colonel Alex Perez-Cruz, commands an armor battalion in the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart where 469 "Rock of the Marne" soldiers are memorialized for their deaths in the War on Terror, "I had the honor of commanding in "Iraqui Freedom" and I've seen a lot of  those young men die for their country and for me it's a special day to pay them homage.  All I've ever wanted to do was be a soldier and to be able to command soldiers in the right way, with dignity and respect, and to take them to combat and bring them back, it's an honor," he said.

Following the Memorial Day program, a wreath was placed at the Toombs County War Memorial on Highway 280 East in Vidalia.

memday19(L-R) Suzie Smith (VFW Auxiliary);  Jean Marie Daniels (VFW Auxiliary); Everand Arnsdorff (VFW Post #3562 Quartermaster);  Shirley Curl, LTC Alex Perez-Cruz, Will and Abigail Wright, and Jeannie (Mrs. Alex) Perez-Cruz

 May 25-- Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin congratulates three staff members for jobs well done.

On the morning of March 17th, The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office received a report that a Higgston business had been burglarized. Upon investigating the complaint, it was discovered that two additional businesses located adjacent to the complainant’s business had also been burglarized. The businesses, Elaine’s Hair Salon, Hot Spots Tanning and Jackson Payroll were found to have been broken into sometime between Friday night and Saturday morning.

mcsophillipsAt approximately 10:30 p.m. on March 17th, Deputy Justin Phillips observed a vehicle speeding on MLK Drive in Mount Vernon and initiated a traffic stop. During the traffic stop Deputy Phillips smelled a strong odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle. Additional patrol units arrived on the scene to assist in the search of the vehicle and stolen firearms and drugs were recovered. Also found in the vehicle were tools and clothing used in the burglaries of the three Higgston businesses.   Sheriff Maybin commended Deputy Phillips 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.

Deputy Phillips has been employed with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office since July of 2013. He is a vital member of our team and we are thankful for his service to our community.

mcsowilliamsMs. Melinda Williams serves as an E-911 Dispatcher. She began her employment at the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office in January 2016. She is a loyal and dedicated employee who is an asset to our office operations. Sheriff Maybin thanked her for all she does in the daily operations of the Sheriff’s Office and assisting the public we serve.  

mcsowingeDeputy Jeremy Winge is a graduate of Ogeechee Technical College. He began his employment with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office in May 2017. Deputy Winge is a vital member of our team and we are thankful for his service to our community.

Ms. Williams and Deputies Phillips and Winge were presented gift certificates to Big Ma’s Seafood and Crab Legs Buffet  (courtesy of a Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office supporter).


Deputy Jeremy Winge is a graduate of Ogeechee Technical College. He began his employment with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office in May 2017. Deputy Winge is a vital member of our team and we are thankful for his service to our community.

By Senator Jack Hill, Reidsville


For a new Governor, vetoing 14 bills is about right, I guess. At the beginning of an administration, a Governor might not be plugged into the legislative process as closely. As successive years go by, I would expect earlier involvement in legislation by the Governor and his staff, a quicker engagement in the process and a greater reluctance to veto bills in the future.

--Veto No. 1-HB 598-was vetoed at the request of the author.

--Veto No. 2-HB 83-This was the recess bill that mandated a certain amount of recess for grades one through five on days when physical education or other structured activity was not already scheduled. Governor Kemp cited the importance of local control of schools and vetoed the bill.

--Veto No. 3-HB 187-Required the State Health Benefit Plan to pay for a three-year pilot program covering prescription drugs for the treatment and management of obesity. The Governor related that all projections of costs for the project might increase premiums and vetoed the bill.

--Veto No. 4-HB 279-This bill would have allowed the Dept. of Revenue Commissioner to authorize agency law enforcement personnel to utilize department vehicles while working second jobs involving police powers, a power now granted the Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety. Governor Kemp asserted this action would create potential liability for the state and possibly negatively affect automobile insurance costs so he vetoed the bill.

--Veto No. 5-HB 311--Created a waiver of sovereign immunity for claims brought against the state. A similar bill was vetoed previously by Governor Deal. Governor Kemp stated that a waiver needs to be developed that would not interfere with daily operation of the state and would include those excluded in HB 311 including mental health patients in state facilities. Governor Kemp related that the State Supreme Court has outlined a pathway for suits to be brought against the state and currently, sovereign immunity is waived for state officers and employees involving cases of breach of contract and tort claims.

--Veto No. 6-HB 516-would create a new certificate of registration for a "professional structural engineer." Governor Kemp referred to the existing Georgia Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors which weighs the necessity of new occupational regulation.

This proposal did not come from the Board nor receive statutorily required review and approval so for those reasons, the Governor vetoed HB 516.

--Veto No. 7-SB 15-Outlined a program of requirements for local school systems and schools aimed at improving school safety. Governor Kemp's position was that the bill undermined local control and creates a new position of school safety coordinators that is unfunded and may increase liability for school administrators. He pointed to the $69 million dollars in the FY 19 Amended Budget for school safety grants and felt like systems should have a chance to plan and develop their own safety plans utilizing the $30,000 state grants.

--Veto No. 8-SB 53-Had to do with determining the school districts in DeKalb County and with the process of determining districts of independent school systems. Governor Kemp believes that required referendums would be subject to legislative review under this legislation so he vetoed the bill.

--Veto No. 9-SB 75--Would have increased the membership of the State Board of Veterinary Medicine and authorized the Board to create a professional health program for monitoring and rehabilitation veterinarians afflicted with physical or mental illnesses. Since this information would be shielded from the public, Governor Kemp believed that the public was not well-served. He again referred to the function of the Georgia Occupational Regulation Review Council that weighs new occupational regulation. Since this proposal had not come through that process, Governor Kemp vetoed SB 75. 

--Veto No.10-SB 80-would have removed prohibitions against funding for the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. Governor Kemp asserted that there has been no demonstrated need for state funding to resume for the Sports Hall of Fame which has been funded in recent years by local government appropriations.

--Veto No. 11-SB 103-Would have required commercial airports in Georgia to set aside two parking spaces for veterans. Governor Kemp stated this bill created an unfunded mandate on airports and pointed out that current law does not presently prohibit airports from setting aside parking spaces for veterans.

--Veto No. 12-SB 120-Would have allowed the Chairmen of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee to request up to three economic analyses from the State Auditor annually involving tax credits or exemptions.   Governor Kemp noted that currently fiscal notes are prepared collaboratively by the Director of the Governor's Office of Planning and Budget (OPB) and the state Auditor. This bill would make the analysis action solely a responsibility of the State Auditor and would omit those joint actions with OPB.

--Veto No. 13-SB 153-This bill would have set up regulations for the crime and trauma scene cleaning services industry. The Governor referred once again to the Ga. Occupational Regulation Review Council that weighs the necessity of new and ongoing occupational regulation. Governor Kemp's assertion is that, once again, this legislation was not the result of any recommendation by that Board and not proven necessary.

--Veto No. 14- HR 51- Had to do with creating the Joint Georgia-North Carolina and Georgia-Tennessee Boundary Line Commission. Governor Kemp noted that the other states have not appointed similar commissions.

May 24--  The leading graduates in the Treutlen High School Viking Class of 2019 are Valedictorian Kate Reese (left) and Salutatorian Madison Richardson.  Both credit their families with pushing them to do their best in achieving their goals.

vikingvalsal19Kate plans to pursue a degree in Dentistry after completing her college days at Berry College while Madison plans to spend four years at East Georgia State College and University then attend medical school and obtain a degree in Biomedical Science.

May 24--  The top Eagles in the Class of 2019 at Montgomery County High School are Valedictorian Adam Morris and Salutatorian Zach Barrow.

mchsval19Adam says the top spot has been a goal of his since middle school, "To me it means all my hard work has paid off.  I worked hard all these years and now I'm just happy to stand here and be at the top of my class and represent my class well this year.  I decided in middle school I was going to try for it and I've been working for it ever since then," and now his sacrifices are paying off, "Some people would go out and be with friends, but I'd have to stay home and study, which was okay, and now it's paid off, but that was one of the hardest things.

The top Eagle is about to become a Bulldog as he heads to Athens where he's considering majoring in business at the University of Georgia, but he'll always be an Eagle,"Being an Eagle has meant the world to me.  You can look around and see all the community support we've had over the years. Every time something goes on, they're always here to make us feel special and I'm proud to be part of that."

He also has advice for underclassmen, "Just keep working had and don't let one little failure stop you.  I've make bad grades before, but don't let that one thing stop you and you'll get there."

mchssal19Salutatorian Zach Barrow says he's honored to be at the top of the class, "It's an honor.  I've spent all my life working towards a goal and to be the best person I can be, so I'm proud to be the Salutatorian of Montgomery County High School where I want to be and where my family is.  I've been to three school systems since middle school. I've been to Brunswick High School which has about 2,000 kids and I've been to Montgomery County High School which has about 260 kids, so I've seen both sides of the spectrum and I can definitely say being from a small school means a lot.  It means a lot to be in that close knit community where everybody cares about each other and everybody knows your name."

Zach plans to get an education degree from Georgia Southern and become a teacher and coach, "I've always wanted to inspire younger people. From the time I was in first grade when I wanted to inspire pre-schoolers and now in twelfth grade I want to inspire ninth graders.  It's always been a dream of mine to help out yhounger people and show them the wisdom I've learned."

May 24--  The top academic graduates this year at Vidalia Heritage Academy are Valedictorian Libby Jackson and Salutatorian Elliott Sammons.

vhaval19Libby says she worked hard for the honor, but has a lot of humility in accepting it, "I don't consider myself smarter than my classmates.  Our GPA (Grade Point Average) doesn't define us.  We've all worked equally as hard and mine just says I may have made higher on a test, but we're all equally as smart."

Libby is thankful her parents enrolled here at Vidalia Heritage, "It's more than just a school, it's a family.  They've provided us support, they've been there when we needed them and they've helped guide us along the way.  My parents chose to send me here because it had a Christian education and I'm really thankful that they did.  There were teachers who had the same beliefs that I did and they helped me when I was struggling and really enforced the Bible and Christian education."

Next for Libby is the University of Georgia where she's thinking about studying Kinesiology and get a degree regarding the rehabilitation of sports injuries.

vhasal19Salutatorian Elliott Sammons is also appreciative of what Vidalia Heritage has done for him, "I've definitely enjoyed having the small class sizes because it's allowed me to connect closely to a group of friends I've been with since elementary school.  That's been such an encouragement to me in my academics and every aspect  of my school experience."

Elliott is also attending the University of Georgia to study genetics and then purse a degree in medicine where he plans to apply the same study habits that earned him honors at VHA, "I definitely think I worked pretty hard to get it.  I knew my grades were good and I was surprised that I held my spot in the class because I took some pretty hard classes and there were times I really don't how I did so well.  It was just a whole lot of staying up late at night and studying and then putting in all the time to do your assignments.  I definitely think that paid off and I'm very glad I was able to become the Salutatorian of the class.

May 23-- The Georgia Division of Family and Children Services honored a Jeff Davis County couple as Foster Caregivers of the Year during an appreciation luncheon and awards ceremony in Atlanta.

mcbroomMichael and Barbara McBroom were chosen among foster parents nominated by Division staff statewide based on their outstanding service and partnership with the agency.

“We are grateful for all of Georgia’s foster parents for opening their homes and hearts to children in need,” said Division Director Tom C. Rawlings. “Our Foster Caregivers of the Year, however, deserve special recognition because they consistently go above and beyond what we ask of caregivers.”

The McBrooms have fostered 41 children, including respite placements, during the past six years. They work tirelessly toward the reunification of their foster children with their birth parents. When reunification is not possible, they assist with the transition of the children to adoptive placements. The McBrooms are members of the new Foster and Adoptive Parent Association serving Wayne, Jeff Davis, and Appling counties.

According to the case manager who nominated the McBrooms, they are “the epitome of partnership parents as they are always willing to help the agency and attend monthly trainings and meetings.”

“The McBrooms are partners in every sense of the word,” the case manager said.

The awards program is part of National Foster Care Month, an occasion to recognize that everyone can be a part of enhancing the lives of children and youth in foster care by either becoming a caregiver or supporting foster parents. The theme for this year’s National Foster Care Month is “Foster Care as a Support to Families, Not a Substitute for Parents.”

With the recently passed Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) going into effect soon, Georgia will need even more foster parents as they move children out of group home settings to family-style placements.

To learn more about becoming a foster parent, or ways to support them, call 1-877-210-KIDS or visit Interested individuals will undergo background checks and pre-service training to help them enhance their skills for parenting and nurturing children.

May 23-- The top graduates in the Class of 2019 at Vidalia High School are Valedictorian John David Hodges and Salutatorian Carringrton Long.

vhsvalsal19John David says he did a lot of work to earn the honor, "It means a lot to me because it's a position in which you can represent your class and I worked really hard for it so it shows how much effort I had to put in to earn it.  My time at Vidalia High School has meant a lot to me.  The friends I've made and the experiences I've gone through have shaped me as a person and I feel like that's helped me a lot."

He's planning on studying engineering at the University of Georgia, "Hopefully, it leads to a job, that's pretty much the first thing I'd hope.  I want to be able to do a lot of things with my career and I feel like engineering is the best field for me to go into."

Salutatorian Carrington Long is also going to UGA and is considering a career in school counseling or perhaps speech pathology.  She says her path to the top of the class has included a lot of hard work, "It's an honor to be able to represent my class and to have this reward, it was a lot of hard work and it paid off."

Carrington says her time at Vidalia High School has taught her the importance of friendship, "In Vidalia, it's like a family that we have.  We have each other's backs and we're always able to build each other up and be there for each other, kind of like what we did for Thomas Foskey (a classmate who has battled cancer this year and will walk across the stage at graduation), we threw a dodge ball tournament for him and you can't replace that.  Relationships are the most important thing you can build and that's what we have in this class."

May 22--  A Vidalia man is being charged in connection with a home invasion Tuesday morning.

williamedwardsmithPolice report 54-year-old William Edward Smith is charged with aggravated assault after striking 63-year-old Ann Jyles Chase on the head during a robbery. 

Officers say 64-year-old Wallace McLemore and the woman were at their home at 819 Aimwell Road when she heard a noise in the carport and had an altercation with Smith. Once inside the house, he ordered them to lay down on the living room floor before they were robbed.

She was taken to Meadows Regional Medical Center for treatment and Smith was apprehended by Vidalia police Tuesday night. Police say the investigation is continuing and he may be facing additional charges.

Vidalia police thanked the GBI, the Toombs County Sheriff's Office and the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office for assisting with the investigation.

May 22--  Brewton-Parker is building a new addition to the Phillips Student Center which will nearly double the seating capacity of its dining rooms.

bpcgroundbreakingPictured left to right at the groundbreaking are Carroll Williams, Britt McDade, Dr. Steve Echols, Joe Filipone, Gary Braddy, Brandon Braddy, Emily Williams, Brooke Stille, BL Horne, Terry Thompson, Debbie Evans, Jake Cleghorn, Steven Rigdon, and Todd Muraski

The new addition will also feature renovations to the center's Lakeside Grill including a redesigned interior and a new 1,800 square foot patio overlooking the college’s five acre lake.

bpcechols“We’ve been listening to our students as they explain areas that could be improved, and they need more gathering space,” explained President Steve Echols during the ground breaking ceremony. “As enrollment continues to grow, the need for space will become even greater. Through this new addition, we will meet this need by providing a new student lounge with food services.”

The new patio will provide students with a new location for gathering and will be a great attraction for the local community.

Furthermore, the overall addition will fulfill another growing need as BPC hosts more and more camps during the summer months. This summer alone, the college expects to welcome over 2,000 campers. These camps include a science day camp hosted by the Division of Math and Science, SURGE hosted by the Daniell Baptist Association, and CentriKid Camps hosted by LifeWay.

May 22--  Violation of its own personnel policies in the firing of Vidalia's police chief is costing the city of Vidalia almost $94,000.

In response to a Freedom of Information request, the city issued a press release stating its settlement with Chief Frank Waits amounts to $90,623 plus $3,270 in legal fees.

Chief Waits engaged an attorney with the Georgia Association of Police Chiefs after he was informed by City Manager Nick Overstreet on April 9 that he had four days to retire or be fired.

City policy says personnel facing adverse action will be given written notification fifteen days prior to the effective date of the action and that the employee has a right to a name clearing hearing before the city council.

Chief Waits was afforded none of those rights and City Manager Nick Overstreet says he does not see the case as a violation of city policy and would use the same procedures if he had to do it all over again, "We saw it as the way it needed to be handled and that's the way it was handled.  After consulting with our attorney, we worked through those matters and handled it the way we felt it should be handled."

The city manager says he doesn't believe the manner of firing Chief Waits will complicate the city's search for a new police chief.  He says the city will advertise the position for 30 days and then proceed with the selection process.

The city press release thanks Chief Waits for his 14 years of service to the city and says the police department is in good standing thanks to his leadership.

It also says it hopes a new chief will bring new energy to the police department and focus on growing morale, improving officer turnover and engaging with other law enforcement agencies in the area.

The City of Vidalia ran our Freedom of Information request through the City Attorney and issued the following press release.

This statement is made by the City of Vidalia with the advice and consent of Chief Waits concerning the mutual separation agreement entered into by the parties on May 13, 2019.

The City of Vidalia thanks Chief Waits for his fourteen years of dedicated service to the Vidalia Police Department and wishes him well in retirement. During Chief Wait’s tenure, the police department became accredited by the State of Georgia, and Chief Waits served as president of the Georgia Association of Police Chiefs and unprecedented two terms. The police department is in good standing thanks to the leadership of Chief Waits.

Chief Waits’ retirement provides an opportunity for him to give more attention to the significant health concerns he has suffered over the last few years and to spend time with family. The City understands the challenge it will face in finding a successor to Chief Waits, but the City embraces this time to bring new energy to the police department with focus on growing morale, improving officer turnover, and engaging with other law enforcement agencies in the area.

The mutual separation agreement reached by the City and Chief Waits was reached quickly through the counsel of City Attorney, Justin Franklin and the attorneys at Elarbee Thompson, for the City, and the Georgia Association of Police Chief’s attorney, Michael Caldwell, for Chief Waits.

Through the agreement, the parties avoided costly hearings and appeals; Chief Waits was able to move on to retirement; and the integrity and good standing of the police department was maintained. The City agreed to pay Chief Waits a separation amount of $90,623.00, which approximates 7.5 months of pay and benefits cost to the City for Chief Waits when compared to the average over the past two years.

Pursuant to the confidentiality terms of the separation agreement, neither the City of Vidalia nor Chief Waits are permitted to make any further comment or statement concerning the separation.

May 21--  An effort to renovate and reopen Rocky Creek Golf Course in Vidalia has apparently failed.

Formrustygolfer Vidalia Indian golf star and Florida State University golfer Rusty Mosley helped lead a group which was trying to raise $1.5 million for the project, "Unfortunately we've not gotten much financial support from some of the larger contributors in the community and I hate to say, but it looks pretty bleak.  I think in the beginning we were counting on a few to give $250,000 or even $500,000 to give some momentum and we never got that."

An escrow account set up in cooperation with the City of Vidalia has only collected $61,000 and Mosley observes, "I think there are a lot of people in the community who want a golf course and know the value of it, but unfortunately it just doesn't seem like a good fit right now."

At one time, Vidalia had two golf courses, now it has none.  Rocky Creek closed a little over three years ago and Hawk's Point Golf Course closed in September, 2017.  Since then the community has suffered with fewer charity golf tournaments, no home course for local high school golf teams and a negative for economic development.

At a meeting last Fall attended by Vidalia Mayor Ronnie Dixon, it was announced the city and a majority of property owners in the Rocky Creek sub-division agreed that the city would proceed with annexation of the area into the city but would assume no financial liability for the rebuilding or operation of the golf course.  The annexation was predicated on re-opening the golf course.

Those who contributed to the escrow account will get a refund.

May 21--  Seven area citizens are the most recent graduates of the Georgia Academy for Economic Development sponsored by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.  The course is an opportunity to give graduates an understanding of economic development on the local, regional and state levels.

Graduates from Toombs County are Pat Dixon, Anna Humphrey, Steven McComas, Tonya Parker and Jency Jeffers. Graduates from Montgomery County and Treutlen County are Jean Kenny and Thalia Gillis, respectively.


Front Row:  Pat Dixon and  Anna Humphrey 

Back Row:  Mickey Daniell, Georgia Power, Steven McComas, Tonya Parker, Jency Jeffers, Araina Reaves, Georgia EMC and Saralyn Stafford, Georgia Academy Board Member

jeankennyJean Kenny 


Thalia Harris

May 21--  Vidalia Police report the following arrests.

Powell,James Devon-B/M-35-YOA-507 West St Vidalia, Ga- Warrant Service

Williams, Johnnie L. - B/M- 47 YOA- 1208 Easter Dr. Apt 36 Vidalia, Ga- Defective Equipment- No Horn, Headlights, Tail Lights/1st Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (Bench Warrant)

Smith, William Edward- W/M- 54 YOA- 1507 Clydette Blvd Vidalia, GA- Aggravated Assault (State Warrant- GBI)

Cook, Jessica Winette- W/F- 33 YOA- 502 Poe St. Vidalia, GA Possession of a Controlled Substance

Shoats, Christopher Lang- B/M- 31 YOA- 204 E First St Room 27 Vidalia, Ga- 2nd Driving While License Suspended or Revoked, Failure to Obey Stop/Yeild Sign (Bench Warrant)

Bess, Billy-B/M -74 YOA-300 Jerriel Str. Vidalia, Ga.-DUI (Less Safe)

Snell, Rickerra Oshone-B/F-21 YOA- Hutenson Rd lot # 8 Vidalia, Ga-Warrant Service

Banks, Quavious Treyvon B/M 19 YOS 598 Lamar Ave. Macon Ga.- Possession of Controlled Substance,Giving False Information, Obstruction

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Debra Davis, Lyons, DUI, possession of a controlled substance and drug related objects

Sarah Mosley, Lyons, theft by taking, DUI

Daniel Gutierrez, Lyons, possession of a controlled substance

Bobby Waters, Vidalia, DUI, traffic viiolations

Jose Garcia, Lyons, DUI, driving while unlicensed, traffic violations

Letoi Nunn, Vidalia, DUI, headlights

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

William Poole, Vidalia, violated bond conditions

Joseph Stafford, Lyons, DUI, driving while license suspended/evoked

Bryant Tapley, Metter, DUI

Anthony Tarver, Vidalia,  DUI, traffic violations

Angelia Taylor, Lyons, probation viiolation

James Taylor, Uvalda, probation viiolation

Laquintez Walker, Vidalia, probation violation

Wayland Waters, Uvalda, possession of marijuana; purchase, possession, manufacture, distribution and sale of a controlled substance; possession of firearm or knife during certain crimes

Becky Williams, Vidalia, possession of marijuana and drug related objects; purchase, possession, manufacture, distribution and sale of methamphetamine

Eric Zamorano, Lyons, DUI, traffic violation

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

05/14-Stephen Isabar Stafford, Mt Vernon, Battery (Family Violence), Aggravated Assault (Family Violence), DUI, Open Container

05/15-Lawrence Wesley Vanburen, Mt Vernon, DUI, Equipment Violation

05/18-Jaleel Tamir Montgomery, Soperton, Aggravated Assault (Family Violence), Cruelty to Children-3rd

05/08-Timmy Jermaine Jackson, Mt Vernon, Possession of Marijuana <1oz., Possession of Cocaine

05/08-Marcus Lee Jurwell Wright, Ailey, Driving w/Suspended License, Open Container, Noise Violation, Possession of Marijuana <1oz., Possession of Cocaine

05/08-Deisha Treanna Smiley, Ailey, Open Container Violation, Possession of Marijuana <1oz., Possession of Cocaine

05/08-Sahchi Rachelle Jordan, Ailey, Open Container Violation, Possession of Marijuana <1oz., Possession of Cocain

Additional information regarding above drug arrests.

On Wednesday, May 8th, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Justin Phillips observed a 2015 Nissan Altima speeding and playing loud music. He initiated a traffic stop on Lester Robinson Street in Mount Vernon and upon approaching the vehicle observed loose marijuana in the vehicle being driven by Marcus Lee Jurwell Wright. Further search of the vehicle led to the recovery of three baggies of powder cocaine, a small amount of marijuana and items used to sell/distribute narcotics (ie. scales and baggies). In addition of Wright, Timmy Jermaine Jackson, Deisha Treanna Smiley and Sahchi Rachelle Jordan were also arrested.

Sheriff Maybin commended Deputy Phillips for his diligence and going beyond a traffic stop to get these drugs off the streets.

May 21--  With June 1, the official start of Atlantic hurricane season, just days away, forecasters are urging those living along the coast to prepare for a near- to slightly above-normal season.

AccuWeather’s 2019 predictions have not changed since the initial forecast was released on April 3.

Forecasters continue to call for 12 to 14 tropical cyclones this season.

Of those, five to seven are predicted to become hurricanes and two to four are predicted to become major hurricanes.

Additionally, it’s believed that the United States may endure two to four impacts — though it’s too soon to say where these might take place.

With less than two weeks until the official start of the season, a subtropical storm spun up southwest of Bermuda on Monday and was given the first name on the Atlantic list for 2019, Andrea.

AccuWeather Atlantic Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski has been warning since early April that there are a few locations that warrant a close eye for early season development.

Water temperatures are running above normal to the east of Bermuda and off the southeastern coast of the United States, and in parts of the Gulf of Mexico.

“Those are the areas we’re watching closely,” he said.

While Andrea will steer clear of the U.S., anyone living near the coast should be prepared to act quickly if and when more activity fires up.

May 20--  Vidalia Regional Airport has seen rough times the past few years after a downturn in private aviation following the economic depression ten years ago, however, the bottom line is looking up thanks to the opening of the multi-million dollar Ohoopee Match Club on the banks of the nearby Ohoopee River.

The private club is attracting wealthy golfers and pros and when their jets land at the Vidalia airport, they buy fuel according to Airport Manager Kevin Britton, "We've seen everything from six-seat jets up to 21-passenger jets and most of them are supporting us very well with fuel sales."

City of Vidalia Finance Director Bill Bedingfield reports the airport has sold $164,000 worth of fuel in the first four months of this year which is twice the amount sold during the same period of last year.

Britton notes there's another economic advantage also, "The members go out to the golf course but the pilots are eating in our restaurants, staying in our motels and shopping in our stores, so we're seeing a lot of peripheral type spending going on in and around town as a result of all this and it's been really good for the community."

Britton also says you never know who you'll see coming in to play golf, "The head of the Professional Golf Association has been in, golfers such as Rory McIlroy and Ernie Els, former Heisman Trophy-wining quarterback Sam Bradford is a regular in-and-out, he's a member out there, as well as a number of CEO's from throughout the country."

Meanwhile, the city is preparing a grant request to the federal government for some improvements at the airport to better accommodate the bigger planes.

The Federal Aviation Administration just announced grants of more than $2 million each for upgrades at two other southeast Georgia airports in Baxley and Claxton.

May 20--  The Vidalia Board of Education recognized nine faculty and staff members who are retiring this year.

vboeetirees19(Front Row, L-R) J.D. Dickerson teacher Charlene Wood, 30 years;  J. R. Trippe Middle School teacher Chrystal Waller, 31 years; Vidalia High School Athletic Director Charles "Chunk" Reid, 51 years;  Assistant School Superintendent Lucy Claroni, 42.5 years;  and J.R. Trippe Middle School bookkeeper Jody Haltom, 13 years.

Back Row, L-R) J. R. Trippe Middle School Nutrition Mae Helen Outler, 6 years;  J.R. Trippe Middle School teacher and coach Ladson Helms, 43 years;  J.D. Dickerson Nutrition Lillie Mae Nobles, 28 years. Not pictured, Vidalia High School teacher Jill Murphy, 26 years.

normacroftAlso at the school board's May meeting, the Vidalia City School System's Finance Director, Norma Croft (left), was recognized by the Georgia Department of Audits with its Award of Distinction for Excellent Financial Reporting.  State auditor Caroline James noted the Vidalia school system is one of only 31 in the state to earn the recognition and that it has won it four years in a row.

The school board approved the following eleven personnel appointments.

J.R. Trippe Middle School:  Teachers Hunter James and Caleb Collins; para-professional Victoria Waring.

Sally Meadows Elementary School:  Assistant Principals Ben Helms and Michael Johnson, Teachers Nic McBride, Jenni Gilreath and Anna Sitzman; para-professionals Denita Turner and Lucas Nelson.

J.D. Dickerson Primary School:  Teacher Robin Dees.

Painter Harry Harper was awarded a $34,000 contract to paint classrooms and the gym at J.R. Trippe Middle School this summer.

The school board approved a tentative budget for fiscal year 2020 amounting to $36,859,907.10.  It's expected to approve the final budget at its June meeting.  Citizens with questions are invited to public hearings Monday, June 3 at 12 p.m. and Tuesday, June 11 at 4 p.m. at the board's administrative offices on North Street (the old high school building).


By Senator Jack Hill of Reidsville


In both legislation and in the state budget, health and human services continue to grow as the state reacts to a wide array of needs and a growing senior population in the state. In addition to serving the needs of the elderly, Human Services touch the disabled, women, children and services that reach many who can't speak for themselves. Legislation that came through the Health and Human Services Committee affects every Georgian.


--HB 62-- "Margie's Law" would require health care facilities conducting mammograms to notify patients when results show dense breast tissue. Standard in 36 other states.

--HB 217-- Exempts syringe services programs from civil and criminal liability for possession/exchange of hypodermic needles.

--SB 106-- Governor Kemp's bill to start process to request 1115 and 1332 waivers from the federal government for expansion of medical services

--HB 26-- Would allow Georgia to enter into the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact that would allow applicants with a satisfactory background check to practice telepsychology in the state. Should improve access in rural Georgia.

--SB 16-- Authorizes the Ga. Composite Medical Board to administer the Interstate Licensure Compact. Also allows doctors with a clean disciplinary record to be eligible for an expedited licensure process to practice medicine in Ga. SB 16 also allows compact members to share doctor's disciplinary information and record.

--HB 37-- Would authorize trained medication aides to administer liquid morphine to hospice residents in certain circumstances and limits the amount of morphine that could be stored in a hospice facility

--HB 551-- Prohibits the selling of kratom to anyone under 18 and provides package and labeling requirements for kratom products. Kratom comes from the tropical leaves of the Mitragyna Speciosa plant. It is used medicinally to manage pain, diarrhea and coughing.

--SB 115-- Allows the Ga. Composite Medical Board to issue telemedicine licenses to doctors with a clean disciplinary record who do not reside in the state. The doctors still report to the Ga. Board on patient confidentially and patient record laws.

--SR 202-- Joint Study Committee on Evaluating and Simplifying Physician Oversight of Midlevel Providers

--SR 371-- Senate Protections from Sexual Predators Study Committee


--$2.0 million for 1,053 additional slots for non-Medicaid home and community-based services

--$4.9 million to Behavioral Health for residential treatment of addictive diseases

--$7.9 million to BH /DDS to annualize 125 New Options Waiver and Comprehensive Supports Waiver Program and to add 125 additional slots for the intellectually and developmentally disabled

--$737,000 to DCH for 4 positions, training and operations for increased background checks for owners and employees of long-term care facilities

--$6.0 million in federal and state funds for the SHINES information Technology project following the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA)

--$1.3 million to DHS for 17 adult protective services caseworkers

--$366,000 to DHS for five public guardianship caseworkers to prevent elder abuse

--$1.4 million to DHS for home-delivered and congregate meals to reduce the wait list in each Area Aging Agency (Meals on Wheels)

--$18.1 million in total funds to DCH to provide coverage for gene therapy drugs

--$28.4 million total funds to DCH for revision of hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment System reimbursement

--$1.0 million to Public Health for Maternal Health to screen, refer and treat maternal depression and related behavioral disorders in rural and underserved areas

--$200,000 to Public Health for the Maternal Mortality Review Committee

--$300,000 to Public Health for regional cancer coalitions to enhance screening

--$150,000 to Public Health for the Sickle Cell Foundation for sickle cell screening

--$500,000 to Public Health for feminine hygiene products for low-income clients administered by county health departments

--$9.7 million in total funds to DCH Aged, Blind and Disabled to include seven long term acute hospitals and three additional intermediate rehabilitation facilities as Medicaid providers

--$1.2 million to DCH for a $5 increase in the personal needs allowance for nursing home residents to meet the requirement of $20 per month called for by HB 206 (2017)

--$335,000 total funds to DCH for a 3% increase in the nursing home ventilator reimbursement rate

May 17--  Georgia's "Heartbeat Bill," which some other states are now copying, has strong support in rural Georgia according to State Senator Blake Tillery of Vidalia, "I've had a few folks who were upset, but the overwhelming response from the 11 counties I have the pleasure of representing was positive.  They think life's important and were very happy with the legislation that was passed this year."

Senator Tillery says legislators are not swayed by Hollywood types who are calling for film production boycotts in Georgia, "You never want any group to be upset with you or mad, you want to try to live peaceably with all people, but I think the Governor and Lieutenant-Governor realized it was Georgians who elected them and not folks who live outside of Georgia."

Georgia's law makes it unlawful to kill a baby after a heartbeat is detected while Democrats in the U.S. Congress refuse to condemn the killing of babies who are born late term.  Because of the wide division, Senator Tillery expects a court fight, "Right now I've heard some organizations have already come out and said they plan to challenge it in court.  If that's the case, I guess we'll kick it to the third branch of government and let the courts do what the courts have to do."

rotarytillerySenator Tillery was welcomed to the Vidalia Rotary Club by President Angie McDaniel and provided an update of this year's General Assembly session including his concerns about the state's population shift north of Interstate 20.

May 18--  The Vidalia Police Department reports the following arrests.

Lockhart, Nicola Jaqueena- B/F- 26 YOA- 806 Debbie Circle Vidalia, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 2nd Offense

King, Jamor Antwon- B/M- 34 YOA- 11 Gillis St. Glenwood, GA- Theft by Taking (State Warrant)/Possession of Marijuana Less Than Ounce

Crapps, Cindy Ann- W/F- 48 YOA- 445 N Thompson Pond Church Road Vidalia, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense

Kersey, Justin Lyle-W/M 26 YOA-214 Davis Str. Warrant Service-Theft ByShoplifting 2nd Offense (Bench),Warrant Service (Probation) ,Warrant Service - Giving False Name,Adress,D.O.B To LEO (State)

Murphy,Malcolm Jamar-B/M-31 YOA-186 Railroad Ave Ailey, Ga-Criminal Attempt To Armed Robbery

Rodriguez,Florencio-W/M-50 YOA-168 Dennis Ln Reidsville,
Ga-Driving While Unlicensed

Altman,Dominica-B/F-31 YOA-321 Jerriel St Apt 47 Vidalia,Ga-Shoplifting 1st Offense

Sosa,Alexander H/M YOA 21- Unknown- DUI (Less Safe)

Gaffney, Alfred Jeremy- B/M- 35 YOA- 1221 Jay Bird Springs Rd Chauncey, Ga- Seatbelt Violation, No Insurance 1st

Lewis, Carl Willie- B/M- 64 YOA- 1706 E North St Vidalia, Ga- Warrant Served (Lyons PD)

Waddell, Judy Lanette- W/F- 24 YOA- 204 Sol Anderson Rd Lyons, Ga- Warrant Served (Jeff Davis Co SO)

Laguerre, Marc Herby- B/M- 35 YOA-107 S. Sanford St. Vidalia, Ga- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense

Mikel, Michael Angelo- B/M- 29 YOA- 606 NE Main St. Vidalia, Ga- Theft by Shoplifting 2nd Offense (State Warrant)

Corouthers, Justin Allen- B/M- 24 YOA- 907 Scott Dr. Vidalia, Ga- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense (Bench Warrant)

Dasher, Jayland Maurice- B/M- 20 YOA- 407 Smith St. Vidalia, Ga- Disorderly Conduct, Simple Battery

Bell, Russell- B/M- 60 YOA- 111 W Jenkins St Vidalia, Ga-
Criminal Trespass

Dotson, Robert Lee- W/M- 71 YOA- 196 Bear Trail Rd. Soperton, Ga- Miscellaneous

Jarriel, Donald Jason- 36 YOA- 37 Meeks Rd Adrian, Ga- Expired Tag/Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (First)/DUI 1st Offense/Open Container

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

John Pfluger, Lyons, disorderly conduct, public drunkeness, possession of marijuana and drug related objects

Willie James McKinnis, Vidalia, public drunkeness; sale, manufacture, distribution of cocaine

Neyre Ramirez, Vidalia, DUI, open container, failure to maintain lane, impeding flow of traffic

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Edwin Aaron, Lyons, DUI, seat belts

Tristan Beasley, Uvalda, possession of marijuana; possession, purchase, manufacturing, distribution, sale of controlled substance

Jennifer Brown, Glenwood, hold for Treutlen Co Sheriff's Office

William Campbell, McRae, probation violation

Joshua Carlo, Uvalda, parole warrant

Timothy Childs, Lyons, driving while license suspended/revoked

Shawn Cribbs, Vidalia, child support

Brandi Crosby, Mt. Vernon, driving while license suspended/revoked

Mary George, Richmond Hill, purchase, possession, manufacture, distribution and sale of controlled substance

Donnie Martin, Vidalia, family violence, criminal damage to property

Jesus Mata, Brunswick, failure to appear

Carlos Molina-Perez, Lyons, DUI, hit and run, driving while unlicensed

James Moye, Lyons, probation violation; purchase, possession, manufacture, distribution, sale of controlled substance, driving while license suspended/revoked

William Poole, Vidalia, parole violation

Kyle Toler, Douglas, criminal damage to property

Danny Webb, Lyons, probation violation

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

05/08-Timmy Jermaine Jackson, Mt Vernon, Possession of Marijuana <1oz., Possession of Cocaine

05/08-Marcus Lee Jurwell Wright, Ailey, Driving w/Suspended License, Open Container, Noise Violation, Possession of Marijuana <1oz., Possession of Cocaine

05/08-Deisha Treanna Smiley, Ailey, Open Container Violation, Possession of Marijuana <1oz., Possession of Cocaine

05/08-Sahchi Rachelle Jordan, Ailey, Open Container Violation, Possession of Marijuana <1oz., Possession of Cocaine

05/11-Anthony Chuck Blair, Soperton, Driving w/Suspended License

May 17--  The commander of an armor battalion at Fort Stewart is this year's VFW Auxiliary Memorial Day speaker.  Lieutenant Colonel Alex Perez-Cruz will speak at the three p.m.observance Monday, May 27 at Southeastern Technical College in Vidalia.

ltcperezLieutenant-Colonel Perez-Cruz is a military brat from Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, and grew up in El Paso, Texas where his father was an Air Defense Artillery Sergeant Major. He entered the Army as a Medic in 1994. Having been awarded an Army ROTC scholarship, he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communications from Stephen F. Austin State University and was commissioned as an Armor officer. LTC Perez’s first assignments were as a Tank Platoon Leader, Tank Company Executive Officer, and Battalion Maintenance Officer in the 2nd Battalion 69th Armor, 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division.

LTC Perez deployed C Company to Kuwait for Operation Desert Spring from March to September 2002. In January 2003, the 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor returned to Kuwait, and in March 2003, was part of the invasion of Iraq by the 3rd Infantry Division.

Following graduation of the Infantry Captain’s Career Course in December 2004, LTC Perez was once again reassigned to the 3 Infantry Division deploying as the Task Force 2-69 Security Forces Training Team Executive Officer in Diyala Provence, Iraq training and conducting operation with an Iraqi Army Infantry Battalion. He commanded D Company “Death Dealers” for 27 months, spending 14 months in Eastern Baghdad during the 2007-2008 “Surge.” Following company command, LTC Perez was assigned to the US Army Armor School in Fort Knox, Kentucky, and served as the Battalion S3 and Executive Officer of 1st Battalion 46th Infantry Regiment (Basic Combat Training) and the S3 and Executive Officer of 2nd Battalion 81st Armor Regiment (Abrams Tank Crewmen One Station Unit Training), 194th Armored Brigade.

LTC Perez was selected to attend Spanish Language Command and General Staff College at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation in Fort Benning, Georgia. Upon graduation he was assigned to the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colorado where he served as an Afghan Army and National Police Security Forces Assistance Training Team Chief and then as the Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition Squadron S3, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment in the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team deploying to Eastern and Southern Afghanistan. LTC Perez was then selected to attend the Advanced Military Studies Program. Upon Graduating he was assigned to United States Army North (5th Army) and immediately selected to serve as the Aide-de-Camp to the Commanding General concluding his tour as the Theater (North America) Security Cooperation Plans Chief, G59. LTC Perez was then selected an U.S. Army Fellow at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of Policy where he was a senior policy strategist for the Assistant Secretary for Strategy, Plans, Analysis, and Risk. LTC Perez most recently served as the 3rd Infantry Division ACofS G5.

LTC Perez hold a Masters of Art in International Relations from Webster University and Masters of Military Arts and Science in Theater Operations from the School of Advanced Military Studies. He is a graduate of the Advanced Military Studies Program, Command and General Staff College at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, Airborne School, Armor Officer’s Basic Course, and Infantry Captain’s Career Course.

            LTC Perez-Cruz is married to the former Jeannie Annette Johnson and has two sons, Lucas and Xavier, who live in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

May 17--  A Tarrytown woman has been sentenced to prison in connection with the death of her four-month old son in a Vidalia motel.

Twenty-eight-year old Tasha Lynn Sikes will serve three years in prison and 27 years on probation after pleading guilty to second degree murder and two counts of cruelty to children.

She was indicted in March and sentenced Thursday by Judge Kathy Palmer in Toombs County Superior Court.  Also indicted in the case was the woman's boyfriend, 26-year-old Jason Vernon Hayes of Vidalia.  Disposition of his case is pending.


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 the 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.

May 17-- Congressman Rick W. Allen (R-GA-12) held a telephone town hall Tuesday night to answer questions from residents of Georgia's 12th District. Congressman Allen gave an update on our booming economy, disaster relief for farmers in Georgia's 12th district, his work on the House Education and Labor Committee, actions taken to address opioid addiction and lower the costs of prescription drugs, as well as the mutually beneficial relationship between the United States and Israel.

For those who were unable to participate in the call, here are some of the highlights: 

Bart from Glennville asked about our dire workforce needs.

Congressman Allen: Let me tell you, anywhere I go in the district, it doesn’t matter what business you’re in, we have positions available. Whether it be truck drivers, whether it be welders, carpenters, you name it. There are more jobs available today than there are people looking for jobs. As a former business owner, I know first-hand the challenge of finding a skilled work force. This is why I am proud to have worked on legislation...called the Carl D. Perkins [strengthening] Career and Technical Education for the [21st Century] Act. It provides federal support to state and local career and technical education programs.

 “This bipartisan legislation will improve current CTE policies to help more Americans gain the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the workforce….We want to get the business community involved. In fact, the first thing that I discovered when I got elected to Congress, and served on the Education and Labor Committee, is that we have a huge disconnect between the business community – and the jobs available out there – and the education community. So, we are putting those together, and this legislation does that.”

Barbara Anne from Augusta asked about the growing student loan debt in our country.

Congressman Allen: “When I got to Washington and realized the amount of total student loan debt, which is over 1.5 trillion dollars, I started asking questions about how we got in this position. So, I was honored to work on the PROSPER Act to reform our higher education system. Unfortunately, the PROSPER Act was not considered on the House floor in the last Congress. I look forward to working with my colleagues on higher education to fix this problem in this Congress.

“Just to give you an idea, the PROSPER Act [stands for] Promoting Real Opportunity Success and Prosperity through Education Reform Act. It did pass the House Education [and Labor] Committee by a vote of 23-17. It promoted innovation and access for completion; it simplified and improved student aid, which is what we talked about as far as student loans and ensuring strong accountability were concerned… But right now we need to get this PROSPER Act passed so at least young people will know – if you borrow the money, you have to pay it back.”

Craig from Augusta asked about the taxpayer money spent during the two-year Mueller investigation.

Congressman Allen: “Attorney General Barr has established a special prosecutor that is going to undertake the reason that we had an investigation and spent that money in the first place… The other thing that we are seeing is Senator Lindsey Graham, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee in the Senate, is going to be conducting various hearings to try to get to the bottom of [this]. Why did we have this investigation, and what would have prevented it? [We must] bring to justice those that have caused it, because, frankly, this shouldn’t happen in America…We never want to see this in [our] country again.”

Horace from Augusta asked for my thoughts on H.R. 5, the “Equality Act,” coming up for a vote this week.

Congressman Allen: I am proudly voting no, and I agree one hundred percent with what you just said. It’s shameful that we are even debating something like this on the House floor. It directly contradicts our First Amendment rights, number one. It erases a lot of provisions and protections that we put in the law, like the Hyde Amendment.

 “Certainly, you know, we already have laws on the books that deal with any type of discrimination. I’m hoping that we can have some type of spiritual awakening in this country…I can’t impose those values on other people, but I would hope that their eyes would be open to knowing and doing what is right and what is wrong.”

Gaylon from Evans asked about the monumental costs associated with the radical, socialist proposals that the Democrats are pushing this Congress.

Congressman Allen: “Socialism has not worked. It is nothing more than a power grab. The only reason that any politician would push any socialism would be to have complete control over you and your resources. [Those are] not the principles on which this country was founded, and I promise you that I will do everything in my power to stop it. The latest Democratic social agenda is the Green New Deal, and we know that that will cost $93 trillion over 10 years. We know that Medicare for All will cost $32 trillion over 10 years. The more control the government has, the less freedom the people have. That is the reason we’re on the call tonight – to get that message out.”

Sylvia from Sylvania asked about actions being taken to stop illegal immigration.

Congressman Allen: “In the last Congress, we fell short about 18 votes of passing a comprehensive immigration reform bill. We got no help from the other side of the aisle, zero, and this is a bill that the President would have signed into law. It would have solved all of our problems with our labor as far as agriculture. It would have solved the DACA problem. It would give us a merit-based system. It would have solved a lot of our labor shortages. It was one of the best pieces of legislation that I’ve ever seen, and it died. We’ve got to secure that southern border! The President said, and I agree with him, that immigration reform is priority one.”

If you would like to sign up for the next telephone town hall, please sign up here. If you would like to learn more about the work Congressman Allen is doing in Washington and for the 12th District, please sign up for his weekly e-newsletter here.

May 16--  Two Toombs County High School seniors who want to go into medicine are the top graduates this year.

tchsval19To be Valedictorian has been a goal of LiliAnne Pittman ever since she started high school, "I can say I was surprised, but I really wasn't.  I've been working really hard for it since ninth grade, that was one of my main goals, to be Valedictorian.."

Looking back on her four years, "The highlight has definitely been my sports and meeting new people every year and learning how to work as a team plus my accomplishments as a student athlete."

Moving forward, LilliAnne will study pre-med at Augusta University, where she'd also like to run track, and then study medicine at the Medical College of Georgia, "After majoring in chemistry at Augusta University, I plan to attend MCG to become a surgeon.  My plan for the future is to one day come back and work at Meadows as a surgeon and live in my hometown," she said.

tchssal19Salutatorian Samantha (call me Sam) Ruiz was surprised to claim the number two spot in the class,"I was actually very, very surprised because this past semester I was still number three.  I had to work, sacrifice a lot of things, no sleep, not a lot of social time, I had to work for it a lot."

Like LiliAnne, Sam plans on a career in medicine, "I've already completed my core with a 4.0 and just received my acceptance to start the nursing program at Southeastern Tech so I'll be graduated as a registered nurse by December of 2020 and I hope to gain some experience at Meadows and work on my Bachelors Degree so I can move up to get critical care experience quicker."

And as she wraps up her high school career, "It has meant a lot to be a Bulldog, especially when you have teachers and coaches inspiring you to move up to your full potential."

May 15--  Vidalia police have identified the two men wounded in a shooting last Thursday at the Econo Inn in Vidalia.

According to a police report, 21-year-old Michael Anthony Edwards of Macon suffered the most serious wounds and 25-year-old Justin Lyle Kersey of 214 Davis Road in Vidalia suffered two gunshot wounds.  Both were flown to Memorial Health in Savannah where Edwards was admitted and Kersey was treated and released.

The next day police arrested 19-year-old Aldarreis Emmanuel Tillery of 711 West Street in Vidalia on two counts of aggravated assault.

The case remains under investigation and no motive for the shooting has been disclosed, however, the report said Kersey told police he thought Tillery was the same man who had robbed him earlier on Thursday.

May 15-- Toombs County Commissioner Darriel Nobles has been reappointed and sworn in to serve on the 2019-2020 Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG) Board of Managers to represent the association’s Ninth District.


Nobles was sworn in by Governor Brian Kemp with other Board members during the 2019 ACCG Annual Conference at the Savannah Convention Center in Chatham County.

“On behalf of the association staff and our membership, I would like to congratulate the newly installed ACCG Board of Managers,” said Executive Director Dave Wills. “Each spring, ACCG welcomes its new leaders, and we remain fortunate to be led by a group of true public servants who possess a sincere appreciation for improving Georgia’s local communities. We look forward to serving the citizens of Georgia under the direction of our new Board.”

Nobles stated that “It is an honor to serve and represent the commissioners of the Ninth District. This position will in no way relieve me of any of my duties for my citizens in Toombs County."

May 15-- In 2017, Meadows Health in Vidalia generated $278,530,849 in revenue for the local and state economy, according to a recently released report by the Georgia Hospital Association.

.The organization had direct expenditures of more than $119,000,000 in 2017. When combined with an economic multiplier developed by the United States Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, the total economic impact of those expenditures was $278,530,849. This output multiplier considers the “ripple” effect of direct hospital expenditures on other sectors of the economy, such as medical supplies, durable medical equipment and pharmaceuticals. Economic multipliers are used to model the resulting impact of a change in one industry on the “circular flow” of spending within an economy as a whole.

During the same time period, Meadows Regional Medical Center provided $7,438,256 in uncompensated care while sustaining more than 971 full-time jobs throughout Vidalia and the rest of the state. When a US Department of Commerce multiplier is applied to the jobs number, it is revealed that an additional 2,400 jobs are supported across the state due to the economic activity of Meadows. The hospital spent $75,928,625 directly in salaries and benefits, resulting in total household earnings in the community of $149,457,905.

“Meadows Health’s mission is not only to provide quality health care, but also to serve as an economic engine for our community,” said Alan Kent, President & CEO. “We are proud to partner with Vidalia, Toombs, and Montgomery Counites to offer quality health care services. As a leading employer, we are dedicated to improving lives in our community and entire region.”

“Our hospital is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is dedicated to ensuring our residents receive state-of-the art health care services,” Kent said. “We are constantly challenged with making sure each patient receives quality care regardless of ability to pay. This environment often puts financial stress on our state’s hospitals.”

Meadows Regional Medical Center is a major component of the area’s economic strength; however, the hospital’s leadership, like the rest of the Georgia hospital community, is concerned about economic challenges that affect the hospital’s ability to deliver timely and efficient care. A fast-growing uninsured population and inadequate payments from government insurance programs like Medicare and Medicaid have made it increasingly difficult to meet the community’s health care needs. In 2017, 44 percent of all hospitals in Georgia operated with negative total margins.

According to Kent, every community needs nearby access to a strong, vibrant health care system that will not only meet the health care needs of its residents, but also to attract other industries and businesses to the area.

“Preserving access to health care is extremely important and we are the primary guardian of health in our community,” said Kent. “A healthy community depends on the strength of its hospital, in treating patients as well as financially.”

May 15-- The Meadows Regional Medical Center Medical Staff Youth Advisory Board completed another successful year under the direction of Dr. Susanna Meredith.  

The Board is composed of area high schoolseniors with exceptional academic records and interests in a medically related career. Metter High School, Montgomery County High School, Robert Toombs Christian Academy, Toombs County High School, Treutlen County High School Vidalia Heritage Academy, Vidalia High School and Wheeler County High School were all represented on the board.  

The Board began meeting on a monthly basis in September. The programs each month varied, from topics on healthcare to community issues to special guests discussing topics that were interesting and informative to the students. Students also learned CPR during the year.

Participants learned about the healthcare industry and how integral healthcare is to the wellness and vitality of a community. The motto for the program is "LEADING TODAY’S YOUTH TO A HEALTHIER TOMORROW." The MRMC Medical Staff hopes this program will provide participants with the knowledge, confidence, and skills to encourage them to pursue a healthcare- related career.


                        (First row L-R) Stella Fulford, Grace Blount, Sarah Tuck, Libby Jackson, Kallie Anderson, Samantha Ruiz Santana, Mary Lopez, Carlie Morgan, Sage Jones, and Roya Adkins

(Second row L-R) Keema Wooden, Program Assistant, Adam Morris, Hannah Keene, Carrington Long, Ginny Grace Gourley, Cody Masterman-Smith, Zachary Barrow, Serenity Brown, Lauren Adams, Helen Baird, Elliot Sammons, and Dr. Susanna Meredith, Director

(Third row L-R) Trevor Byrd, Mackinzie Craft, LiliAnn Pittman, Baylor Smith, Ethan Stokes, Caleb Smith, John David Hodges, Nancy McKenzie, Logan Reid and Natalie Owens

May 16--  The two top graduates in the Class of 2019 at Robert Toombs Christian Academy in Lyons are Valedictorian Sarah Tuck and Salutatorian Cody Masterman-Smith.

rtcasarahSarah says it was a close race, "These past nine or so years it's been back and forth between me and Cody.  At Christmas they told us we were a thousandth of a point apart, so we had no clue who was going to get it," and for her, graduation is an emotional time, "It's going to be different because I've been here for 15 years.  I was actually in the first K-3 class and so yesterday, when I was sitting in my history class for the last time, I just started crying because I looked up at my friends and they were all going to be gone and I was never going to have another class with them."

Sarah will be starting at the University of Georgia in the Fall, "I'm ready to start something new, but it's definitely going to be a change from spending 15 years in a school of 300 people to a school of 25,000 to 30,000 people."  Her parents are Lori and Scott Tuck.

rtcacodySalutatorian Cody Masterman-Smith's family moved to the area when he was a third-grader, "I really think that moving here and especially going to Robert Toombs shaped who I've become because of the Christian environment and the focus on interdisciplinary learning.  Moving here from Florida, I was really nervous because I had no friends and we had no family here, but the class just really took me in, we've grown up together and I consider them my family," and he's honored to be Salutatorian, "I really consider it an honor because all through high school I've focused on learning and doing my best."

Cody's next stop is Georgia Tech in Atlanta.  His parents are Stephen and Caryn Masterman-Smith.

RTCA's graduation ceremony is Saturday morning at ten o'clock at Southeastern Technical College in Vidalia.

Honor graduates from the Class of 2019 are Sarah Tuck, Cody Masterman-Smith, Roya Adkins, Makenzie Harper, Hannah Herndon, Hannah Keene, Jacob McMillan, Shane Moore, Mary Hayes Palmer, Jarod Robertson, Kara Sanders, Claire Walden, and Baylee Williamson.

Various Scholarships were awarded to RTCA Seniors. Senior Sensier Carnes received the Coca-Cola. The Stewart Family Scholarship went to Senior Shelby Thomas and the Red Cross Scholarship was awarded to Jacob McMillan. Jarod Robertson was awarded the Ned Shuman Scholarship and the Lamar Bobbitt Scholarship. The Vidalia Kiwanis Club awarded the R.E. Ledford Scholarship to Makenzie Harper and the Vidalia Kiwanis Club Family Scholarship to Hannah Keene. Winner of the Miss Vidalia Onion pageant, Senior Hannah Herndon, was also awarded a scholarship.

Senior Beta Club members were corded by advisor Mrs. Leigh Ann Walden. The Beta Members are: Freshman Ellie Graham, Bailey Holland, Marli McCranie, Jackson Newton, Rileigh Robinson, Madison Williams, sophomores Campbell Adams, Nelson Thigpen, and juniors Clarissa Ledford, and Maria Riera-Soriano.

Those inducted into the National Honor Society are: sophomores Campbell Adams, Carleigh DeFee, Carolina Mead, Kaine Parham, Kaitlyn Reaves, Jadon Robertson, Nelson Thigpen, juniors Samantha Threlkeld, Analise Williams, Maria Riera, seniors Roya Adkins, Jacob McMillan, Shane Moore, Jarod Robertson, Claire Walden, and Baylee Williamson.

Special recognitions were given to junior Hunter Brotman who was selected as a 2019 Washington Youth Tour Delegate. Students who completed over 50 hours of community service work are freshman Karson Evans, sophomore Campbell Adams, junior Fernando Zayas, and senior Roya Adkins. Freshman Karson Evan, sophomore Campbell Adams, junior Maria Riera, and senior Kara Sanders were awarded the Great Christian Leadership Award. RTCA Scholar Athletes of the Year are seniors Sarah Tuck and Cody Masterman-Smith. RTCA Athletes of the Year are seniors Kayla Blackshear and Blaine Miller. Christian Athletes of the year for RTCA are senior Baylee Williamson and junior Fernando Zayas.

RTCA provides Dual Enrollment courses for eligible students that wish to take college level coursework for credit towards both high school and college graduation requirements. Dual Enrollment students are: sophomores Hunter Coley, Anna Cuevas-Cortez, Carleigh DeFee, Steven McDonald, Carolina Mead, Robert Moore, Kaine Parham, Kaitlyn Reaves, Ashton Sowell, Nelson Thigpen, Ridge Vause, Hayden Wiggins, juniors Landon Botelho, Hunter Brotman, Kaitlyn Corner, Riley Corner, Latson Ennis, Christa Fields, TJ Jackson, Cade Jones, Madi Moncus, Sam NeSmith, Payton Phillips, Ella Stanley, Samantha Threlkeld, Analise Williams, Fernando Zayas, seniors Roya Adkins, Robert Brown, Makenzie Harper, Hannah Herndon, Hannah Keene, Jacob McMillan, Shane Moore, Payton Nance, Mary Hayes Palmer, Anna Stanley, Lanna Todd, Claire Walden, and Baylee Williamson.

This year’s Honor Roll students included freshmen Morgan Newsome, Rileigh Robinson, sophomore Anna Cuevas-Ortes, juniors TJ Jackson, Latson Ennis, Sam Nesmith, Maria Riera-Soriano, Ella Stanley, seniors Hannah Herndon, and Lanna Todd. Students who made Yearly Headmaster’s List were freshmen Ellie Graham, Bailey Holland, Marli McCranie, Jackson Newton, Madison Williams, sophomores Campbell Adams, Carleigh DeFee, Kaitlyn Reaves, Nelson Thigpen, Kaine Parham, juniors Landon Botelho, Hunter Brotman, Kaitlyn Corner, Riley Corner, Clarissa Ledford, MiKayla Manning, Samantha Threlkeld, Analise Williams, Fernando Zayas, seniors Roya Adkins, Makenzie Harper, Hannah Keene, Cody Masterman-Smith, Jacob McMillan, Shane Moore, Mary Hayes Palmer, Jarod Robertson, Shelby Thomas, Sarah Tuck, Claire Walden, and Baylee Williamson.

Teachers awarded students with Subject Awards in Literature, Spanish, Art, Math, History, and Science. Literature awards were given to freshmen Ellie Graham, Morgan Newsome, sophomores Katie McDuffie, Kaine Parham, juniors MiKayla Manning, Fernando Zayas, seniors Kayla Blackshear, Cody Masterman-Smith and Sarah Tuck. Spanish awards were accepted by sophomore Kaitlyn Reaves and junior Fernando Zayas. Art awards were given to sophomore Megan McCoy and junior Ella Stanley. Math awards were accepted by freshmen Morgan Newsome, Jackson Newton, sophomores Carleigh DeFee, Katie McDuffie, juniors Riley Corner, MiKayla Manning, seniors Makenzie Harper, Shane Moore, and Shelby Thomas. History awards were given to freshman Ellie Graham, sophomores Kaitlyn Reaves, Jadon Robertson, juniors Hunter Brotman, Tylan Hardy, seniors Jarod Robertson and Sarah Tuck. Science awards were awarded to freshmen Ellie Graham, Morgan Newsome, sophomores Carleigh DeFee, Ashton Scott, junior MiKayla Manning, seniors Makenzie Harper, Sarah Tuck, and Claire Walden.

Overall Academic Average Awards were given to high school students who received the highest and second highest overall averages. Freshman Ellie Graham received the highest overall and Jackson Newton received second highest overall averages. Sophomores Kaitlyn Reaves received highest overall and Carleigh DeFee received second highest overall average. Riley Corner received the highest overall and Fernando Zayas received the second highest overall for the junior class. For the seniors, Sarah Tuck received the highest overall average and Cody Masterman-Smith received the second highest overall average.

rtcakimmonsThe Upper School Teacher of the Year is Mrs. Mary Ann Kimmons. “The quote “Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” sums up why I love working at RTCA. Having the opportunity to work with students for several years, academically and athletically, allows me the opportunity to create meaningful relationships with them even after they graduate. In addition, knowing the character, dedication and ability of all the other high school teachers makes being awarded this honor doubly meaningful,” states Mrs. Kimmons, middle and high school science teacher. Mrs. Kimmons has been taught 6 years in the public school system and has been teaching at RTCA for 13 years.

Landon Botelho, Riley Corner, TJ Jackson, and Fernando Zayas were recognized as Junior Marshalls.

RTCA recognized our Committed Crusaders, Roya Adkins, Shane Moore, Kara Sanders, Shelby Thomas, Sarah Tuck, Claire Walden, Baylee Williamson, and Zaylen Wiggins. These seniors have attended RTCA since kindergarten.

vascularMay 14--  Savannah Vascular Institute opened its new office in Vidalia Monday at a ribbon-cutting hosted by the Toombs-Montgomery Chamber of Commerce.

Dr. Anthony Avino (center)  cuts the ribbon next to his partner, Dr. Justin Brown.

The Institute office is located in the medical office building on Highway 280 East across from the Walmart Super Center.  

May 14--  It's graduation month for the Class of 2019 at area high schools.

The Toombs County High School graduation is Saturday morning, May 18 at 8:30 at Booster Stadium in Lyons.

The Robert Toombs Christian Academy graduation is Saturday morning, May 18 at 10 at Southeastern Technical College in Vidalia.

The Vidalia High School graduation is Friday, May 24 at 7:30 p.m. at Buck Cravey Field.

The Montgomery County High School graduation is Friday, May 24 at 8 p.m. in the gym at the new high school.

The Vidalia Heritage Academy graduation is Saturday, May 25 at 2 p.m. in the historic sanctuary of the Vidalia First Baptist Church.

The Treutlen High School graduation is Sunday, May 26 at 8 p.m. at Bobby Driggers Field in Soperton.

May 13-- A month and four days after Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits was told to retire or be terminated by City Manager Nick Overstreet, the Vidalia city council voted Monday night to accept a proposal from the chief's attorney regarding his retirement.

frankwaites19Waits called in a lawyer from the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police after the city violated personnel policy in handling the chief's case and former city councilman Kay Stafford addressed the council and said the public still wants to know, "What are you going to charge the man with, what wrong has he done?"

Mayor Pro Tem Raymond Turner said the city will not discuss personnel matters, prompting Stafford to note a member of the city council had already violated that policy, "Lisa Chesser discussed it in the Vidalia Advance newspaper."

Chesser told the paper the man who allegedly shot and killed the manager of R.J. Pope's Menswear in November should have been charged in a domestic violence case which happened about two weeks before the murder and which she thought might have precluded the shooting.

Frank Waits says the agreement he signed with the city contains a non-disclosure clause prohibiting him from commenting except to say he enjoyed his time as police chief.

The council also heard an objection from Sweet Onion Cinema owner David Parker regarding the city-owned Pal Theater competing with a privately-owned, tax paying business.  He asked the council to prohibit the Pal from running movies on a regular basis and was referred to the city manager for further discussion.  Parker has unsuccessfully sought relief from Overstreet in the past.

In other actions the council:

*Approved a contract with Altamaha EMC for a 4% franchise fee for power sold in the city.

* Awarded a $22,875 contract to McLendon Enterprises to remove trees from near a runway at Vidalia Regional Airport and got a pat on the back from citizen Fred Godbee for the city's management of the airport..

* Agreed to put a four-way stop at the intersection of Smith and Second Streets.

* Thanked the family of the late former member of the Vidalia Rec Board, Rick Jordan, for a $5,000 donation in his memory to the Vidalia Recreation Department.

debris* Voted to close the Recycling Convenience Center at the the corner of Martin Luther King Avenue and Grand Street due to the inability to enforce dumping guidelines.

May 13--  There's a generational change going on among high school sports referees and umpires and the result is a shortage of officials in Georgia. For example, referees had to be brought in from Tennessee last year to help cover the state high school football playoffs.

Alan Smith of Vidalia, Executive Director of the Georgia Athletic Officials Association, has sent letters to Georgia high school coaches appealing for their help in recruiting new officials,"It's not that we're experiencing getting to a shortage of officials.  It's already here and we need to do something today."

alansmithAlan Smith discussed the need for officials Monday on the Southeast Georgia Today morning show on NewsTalk WVOP, AM 970 and FM 105.3

Smith notes that a lack of officials threatens organized high school athletics, "We're always told as officials that while everything else is going crazy around us, we've got to keep our heads because we are the lynch pins of the game that makes it happen.  Coaches and players, it could not be done without them, but without officials, it's just physical education."

Smith has been officiating basketball for more than 50 years and knows it's a labor of love.  He identifies three challenges facing those called to the job, "Pay and timeliness of pay.  Then, the sportsmanship issue and abuse from coaches and fans and the fear of the arena.  The hours are bad, the pay is low and everyone's a critic, but it is rewarding.  I sometime pinch myself when I think about the number of years I've officiated, the players I've met, the spectators I've met and become friends with and all of the coaches I've worked with.  To be able to be part of a sport I love and to give back to a community I love, it's hard to beat that."

Smith says officials are paid about $16 an hour and receive training from the officials association.

If you'd like more info, his number is 912-585-8391.

May 13-- This year's Southeast Georgia Soapbox Derby, a Lyons Mainstreet Program, partnered with the Toombs County High School STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) program to stage a fund raising event called " Run What Ya Brung."

The race took place on Soapbox Derby Hill in Partin Park and encouraged everyone to create a gravity powered vehicle and race all comers. The event attracted 12 entries and raised more than $600 for the STEM program which plans on this being an annual event.

A check for the proceeds was presented Monday morning at Toombs County High School to STEM coordinator Attallaka Harris-Williams.

STEMCHECK(L-R) Toombs County High School Superintendent Barry Waller, Toombs County High School Principal Marissa Morris, Toombs County High School Junior Crystal Morales, Derby Co-Director Matt Driggers, STEM coordinator Attallaka Harris-Williams, and Lyons City Manager and Derby Co-Director Jason Hall.

This year the STEM program also built and raced 5 soapbox derby cars in the Local race on May 4th. Each car had a team of students that broke down the official soapbox derby cars, made repairs, fine-tuned the mechanics of the car and put them back together. Many of the cars had to be driven by younger students due to size, Crystal Morales raced the STEM Super Stock car on May 4th. Crystal placed 7th in our local and was excited to race. Her Race team consisted of her Father Manuel Morales and her uncle Martin Sandoval.

Matt Driggers the Soapbox Derby co-director stated that he sees a great future with the partnership between the Soapbox Organization and the School System.

Thanks to EZE Photography for shots of these "Run What Ya Brung" entries.


STC Congratulates 2019 Spring Semester President's List

May 13--  Southeastern Technical College proudly announces the 2019 Spring Semester President's List. These students earned a 3.75 GPA or higher for the semester.

Appling County

James Barnes, Brian Castillo, Raelyn Davis, Megan Hendrix

Bacon County

Tyler Hosmer

Candler County

Dana Googe, Howard Googe, Celia Olarte

Dodge County

Almond Varnadoe

Emanuel County

Antoina Jones, Amanda Rivenburg, Virgil Swinney, Jr., Leann Woods

Jeff Davis County

Estefania Flores

Laurens County

George Garren

Long County

Jesenia Flores

Montgomery County

Sonny Bailey, Carmen Osorio, Charlott Whitaker, Lonnie Whitaker, Candace Young

Pierce County

Karen Cruz

Tattnall County

Hannah Beasley, Tyka Carter, Storm Caswell, Nia Dailey, Ebony Frazier, Linnsey Lively, Semonica Martinez-Delgado, Harley Stanfield, Emma Waters

Toombs County

Angel Beasley, Oscar Cruz, Macy Glaze, Caitlin Horton, Elizabeth Loosberg, Carlie Morgan, Shannon Rutan, Morgan Sager, Cynthia Toby

Wheeler County

Kaleb Adams

May 13-- Six future educators were recognized in a signing day at Vidalia High School.

Principal John Sharpe recognized the seniors, all of whom have been accepted to college and will major in education. Mr. Sharpe remarked, “We want to recognize these students who through their experience in high school have decided to make it their own career.” He noted there are multiple teachers in Vidalia City Schools who are products of the system, and that several young teachers have recently returned to teach in their home school system at various schools. Also, several more young teachers will begin this fall who were students at Vidalia High School not too long ago.

vhsteachersRecognized on Friday were Allison Pittman, who will attend Brewton Parker College and plans to teach at the middle school level; Carrington Long, who will attend the University of Georgia and plans to become a school counselor; Macy Stewart, who is attending East Georgia College and plans to teach high school English; Alecia Henry, who will attend East Georgia College and plans to teach at the primary school level, and Carson McClellan, who will attend Georgia Southern University and plans to teach and coach.

Three more seniors who are accepted to college and plan to major in education but could not be at the signing on Friday due to other engagements, are: Paige Poole, who will attend the University of Georgia; Amya Brown, who will attend Georgia State University; and Tahjah Watts, who will attend Newberry College in South Carolina.

Attending the ceremony was school Superintendent Dr. Garrett Wilcox, Assistant Superintendent Ms. Lucy Claroni, several parents, school counselors, a few teachers and a group of juniors and seniors who wanted to see their peers at the educator signing.

May 11-- Toombs County High School recognizes the top ten 11th graders of the Class of 2020 as their Junior Graduation Ushers for the 2019 Toombs County High School Graduation.


Matthew Boyd, Bryce Braddy, 

Carson Burton, Trey Cloud, 

Madison Hall, Falyn Holland, 

Caylee Lynn, Zada Longtin, 

Trevor Sconyers, Jada Smith

By Senator Jack Hill, Reidsville


Just in the nick of time, state revenues took a decided jump and the gain of $559 million for the month of April will go down as the best single month increase in total dollars in state history.

With this increase of 24.2 %, the state is now meeting the 2019 budget forecast and is about $150 million ahead of budget for this fiscal year.


With an increase of $454.6 million, Individual Income Taxes set new records this month. Refunds declined by $40 million and the largest increase came in Individual Income Tax Return payments which totaled $307.2 million. Individual Withholding payments were up $70.7 million and all other categories were up $36.7 million. Corporate Income Taxes were up $69.2 million.


Net Sales Taxes Increased 5.6% or $30.5 million. The Tag, Title and Fees category was up 6.1% but Title Ad Valorem Taxes were negative at -3.6%. Alcohol and Tobacco Taxes were both negative at -4.5% and -9.8% respectively.


The total of Fuel Taxes and fees along with Impact Fees and Hotel/motel fees was almost even decreasing slightly -$45,000 on revenues of $176.8 million.


With April's booming month, state revenues picked up considerably Year To Date. At $19.9 billion total revenues, the state is showing a YTD gain of $939.7 million and the growth rate is back up to 5.0 %

Individual Income Taxes are finally positive, up 4.4% and Sales Taxes YTD are at 5.7%. Corporate Income Taxes continue to encourage at 28.3% gaining $ 221.2 million.

Tag, Title and Fees are up slightly at 0.4%, but Title Ad Valorem Taxes are negative YTD -5.6%

Total Fuel Taxes and Fees, Impact fees and Hotel/Motel Fees were up only slightly YTD gaining $36.5 million or 2.2%.


There is usually not a lot of legislation affecting post-secondary education each Session. There was a good bit of discussion about Dual Enrollment and its rapidly increasing costs, but no legislation passed and the budget was passed which does not meet projections. So, The Student Finance Authority announced last week a change eliminating fund payout of funds for books for students dual enrolled in high school and college or technical school. A future column will touch on these administrative changes.

--HB 218-- Would extend the time period students are eligible to receive the HOPE Scholarship to 10 years from a student's graduation from high school. An exception is made for students who serve in the military during that 10 year period.

--HB 339-- Would create a specialty license plate for Alabama A&M University and proceeds would go to the Alumni Association for scholarships. HB 339 also creates a specialty Tag for the Georgia Aquarium and funds raised would go to Georgia Aquarium, Inc. Additionally, HB 339 creates a specialty tag promoting Autism Awareness. Funds from the sale would go to the Autism Alliance of Georgia. And lastly, a specialty tag is created for Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and proceeds go to the Ivy Community Foundation Inc.

--SB 214-- Contained language from SB 92 which prohibited professional licensing boards for revoking, suspending or denying a person's license for defaulting on a student loan. Applies to both loans through the Ga. Higher Education Assistance Corp. or the federal government. The bill also makes some changes to the cosmetologist and barber regulations and Division of Electrical Contractors for education training.

--SR 464-- A resolution creating the Senate Higher Education Outcomes Study Committee


--$1 million to establish funding for Early HOPE program through Dual Enrollment

--$65.9 million in Lottery funds to increase HOPE award by 3% and meet the HOPE and Zell Miller scholarship demand, including a transfer of $41.6 million from HOPE Grant for both scholarships

--$86.2 million to Board of Regents for enrollment growth, medical education and square footage at USG institutions.

--$6.8 million for USG employer share of health insurance and retiree health benefits.

--$10.8 million in lottery funds to increase the award amount of HOPE scholarships in private colleges and increase TO the Zell Miller Scholarship from $2308 to $2808 at private colleges

-- $262,560,000 in Bonds for Board of Regents Institutions for construction, equipment and renovations

--$3.0 million to the Technical College System for credit hours and square footage

--$348,000 to TCSG for three Aviation Maintenance Technician program instructors

-- $126,785,000 in Bonds to TCSG institutions for construction, equipment and renovations at TCSG institutions

May 10--  The case of two non-identical Vidalia twins arrested in connection with the shooting death of a Brewton-Parker student nearly two years ago has been resolved in Montgomery County Superior Court.

Khalil and Khalif Wagner had been indicted for the murder of 20-year-old Stevenson Derival of Decatur who was shot at an off-campus party in Mount Vernon on September 24, 2017.

khalifjailIn a hearing Friday morning, Khalif Wagner entered a guilty plea to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to five years in prison and 15 years probation plus a $5,000 fine.  The state dropped the charges against his brother, Khalil.

The case had been scheduled to go to a jury trial Monday, May 20th and Clerk of Court Tammy Foskey reminds jurors who had been called that they do not have to report.

May 10--  One person has been arrested in connection with a shooting Thursday night at a Vidalia motel.

tillerymugshotAccording to Vidalia police, 19-year-old Aldarreis Emmanuel Tillery of Vidalia was arrested Friday morning and charged with two counts of Aggravated Assault.

Police say two people were shot at the Econo Inn about 7:45 p.m. Thursday.

Both were seriously injured and air evacuated to a Savannah hospital for treatment.

Police are not releasing the names of the victims at this time.

The GBI is assisting with the investigation and police say a firearm has been recovered that may have been used in the shooting.

May 10-- U.S. Congressman Rick W. Allen (R-GA-12) issued the following statement today after voting in support of H.R. 2157, the Supplemental Appropriations Act, which would provide critical disaster relief funding for farmers and ranchers who suffered devastating losses due to natural disasters, including Hurricane Michael and the 2017 freeze to blueberry and peach crops. H.R. 2157 passed in the House today by a vote of 257-150.  

“When Hurricane Michael ripped through the Southeastern region of the United States, it left behind severe destruction and devastation throughout our agricultural communities and rural Georgia. Finally, after over six months of political charades, we were afforded the opportunity to vote on a standalone disaster package,” said Congressman Allen. “While this legislation is not perfect, today’s passage in the House means that we are one step closer to providing overdue relief to our Georgia farmers. I cannot overstate the importance of getting a disaster package signed into law as soon as possible—our farmers will only continue to face heightened uncertainties and financial burdens if this process drags on—and I will continue to be a voice for Georgia agriculture and rural America.”

The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.  Congressman Allen's office says the Senate may accept the House Bill or fashion its own for consideration by a conference committee made up of members of both chambers.

May 10--  The Vidalia Police Department is looking for man who they suspect attempted a kidnapping late Thursday afternoon.

Police say they responded to the call on Winona Street near its intersections with Second and Third Streets where a middle age white man attempted to abduct a black female teenager.

They say he attempted to lure the girl into a white utility van with visible damages and a Montgomery County license plate. 

The suspect is described as nearly six feet, large build with a facial scar, grey hair and facial hair in his 50's.

Law enforcement agencies have been notified and anyone with information on this van or individual is asked to call Vidalia police at 537-4123.

April 9--  A Toombs County grand jury considered two fatal shooting cases and returned a "true" bill in one case and a "no" bill in the other.

In presentments returned this month, the grand jury indicted 25-year-old Zeary Davis of Toombs County on eight charges including malice murder and felony murder in the death of 28-year-old Roderick Harvey, Jr. of Alamo.  Harvey and 33-year-old Rosanna Simpson of Vidalia had words with Davis inside the Vidalia Huddle House in the early morning hours of February 23.  When the pair drove out of the restaurant parking lot, Davis allegedly opened fire with a bullet hitting Harvey in the head causing him to cross Highway 280 and hit a tree.   Harvey was killed and the woman was injured.  Davis was also indicted for aggravated battery for her injuries.

In the other killing case, the grand jury refused to indict 39-year-old Michael Madison in the shooting death of 23-year-old James Price, Jr. this past January.  The police report in the case said Madison was outside Price's residence at 911-A Georgia Street in Vidalia when he heard  his daughter, 18-year-old Courtney Madison, and Price fighting inside.  Madison told police he kicked in the door and that Price pointed a gun at him and fired.  Madison returned fire and hit Price with what proved to be a fatal wound.

Chief Assistant District Attorney Tripp Fitzner says the grand jury heard testimony from five people in the case and deliberated for a half-hour before returning a "no" bill.

In other cases, the grand jury indicted:

* Willliam James Byrd for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

*  Tracey Phillips for obstruction of an officer by kicking a Toombs County Deputy Sheriff in the stomach.

*  Brian Leon Sanders for entering an auto owned by Zarie Hagan with intent to commit theft.

*  Chasity Marie Carter for burglary at the home of Cathy Pittman at 719 R. Smith Road in Vidalia.

*  Christopher Hooten for possession of prohibited items (marijuana) by an inmate.

*  Christopher Mark Hinson, Jr. for theft of jewelry and a computer.

* Charles Brown for burglary and assault of Martha Mitchell at her home at 308 Epstein Street in Vidalia.

*  Faye Lynette Follow for the aggravated assault of  Judy Brown with a knife.

*  Tamika Rashad Tukes for possession of a firearm by a first offender probationer.

*  Mark Lavontae Williams for entering the automobile of Mattie Holloway to commit a theft.

*  Endia Rebecca Cook for aggravated assault and criminal damage to property by attempting to hit Michael Bryan Johnson with her vehicle.

*  Kourtney Chenese Jackson for executing a fictitious check.

*  Shontaya Lakita Biggs for executing a fictitious check.

*Joshua Lamar Adamson for criminal attempt to commit robbery at Shuman's Cleaners in Vidalia


May 6--  A Candler County company will oversee some facility improvement projects for the Toombs County school system.

The county school board selected TQ Constructors of Metter to serve as its construction manager, according to School Superintendent Barry Waller, "When you have multiple projects going on, it's a lot easier to have one group overseeing them rather than the design-bid--build process where we would be the contractor and have to bid out individual projects, so it's a lot easier to have one manager to oversee all the projects."

The school board plans to use almost $10 million for various projects which will be financed using sales tax revenue over a five-year period starting next year.

"They're going to be overseeing the renovation of Toombs Central Elementary School as well as building the athletic facility at the high school and some renovations to the bleachers and field at "The Pit."  Also, we'll be addressing some of our technology in the classrooms and security issues to make our schools safer, which is the number one priority.  Even though the high school is only four years old, we'll be upgrading with camera systems and also access controls at all of our schools," the superintendent said.

TQ Constructors was selected based on a bid of 4% of project costs.  Other submitting bids in the 5-8% range were Lavender and Associates of Statesboro, McDonald Construction of Vidalia, Garbutt Construction of Dublin and Dabbs-Williams Contractors of Statesboro.

Toombs County Middle School announces their April Students of the Month. These students have worked hard to obtain this by having good grades, attendance and citizenship.201904 ToCo StudentsofMo

Back row: Jackson Jenkins, Brinley Miller, Emigdio, Flores, Rose Quintero, Ethan Story, Leigha Wynn, Justin Perez, and Jessica Spikes. Front Row: Gailan Wilds, Adora Brown, Diego Lopez, Cindy Mata-Tamayo, Jayda Creamer and Caleb Jackson.

May 9--  – Ansley Brantley, a Registered Nurse in the Intensive Care Unit at Meadows Regional Medical Center in Vidalia, is the April recipient of the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses.

brantleydaisyFront row left to right: Inpatient Director Blake Kirby; Inpatient Services Clinical Supervisor Candace Floyd; Inpatient Services Clinical Nurse Educator Myiesha McFarlin.

Back row left to right: Chief Operating Officer James Nixon; Chief Nursing Officer Jeffrey Harden; ICU RN Ansley Brantley; Vice President of Revenue Cycle Operations/Information Services Mike Hagan; Vice President of Physician Enterprise Mid McCain; Chief Financial Officer Tony O’Steen.

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

“We are very proud of Ansley,” said Meadows Regional Medical Chief Nursing Officer, Jeffrey Harden. “Ansley’s connection with her patient truly encompasses the actions that the Daisy Award tries to bring to light. She showed true compassion in a moment that she could have simply not acted at all and it would not have changed the patient's outcome, however, it made a huge difference in the patient’s experience.”

Brantley has been employed with Meadows Regional Medical Center since 2018, and currently resides in Dublin.

May 8--  The animal cruelty charges which were brought against a Higgston dog breeder earlier this year are prompting Montgomery County officials to take a look at animal control options in the unincorporated parts of the county.

doghearingThe Board of  Commissioners invited county residents to a listening session and got a mixed bag of responses.

A woman from Uvalda says there's a need for animal control, "We do need an animal control officer and we need a place to house the animals when they are picked up.  That needs to be county-wide, not just in incorporated areas.  In saying that, have the Commissioners thought anything about getting with the mayors of the towns in the county to see about funding coming from the cities to the county kind of like Toombs has done?" (Editor's Note:  In reality, Toombs County pays Lyons to pick up and house stray animals which are reported in the county.)

A county resident believes the problem is not that big in the rural areas, "Out in the country, we don't have that much problem.  All of this got stirred up from all that in Higgston and that was a very unfortunate thing that happened, but I don't think it's the county's fault.  The way I see it, the Department of Agriculture didn't step in and do what they needed to.  It's going to be an extra cost to the people and I don't think we should be taxed for it."

After hearing both sides, including volunteers who save hundreds of dogs each year through the Sweet Onion Animal Protection Society, Commission Chairman Leland Adams said, "I don't know that it's that big a problem out in the county.  I understand people are sympathetic to the animals, I have animals myself, but it's hard to figure out what's the common ground and what route to take as far as what to do."

April 8--  The Vidalia Police Department reports the following arrests.

Marshall, Alesia Vantalice- B/F- 29 YOA - 212 Patrick St. Vidalia, GA- Aggressive Driving

Brown, Willie James - B/M 48 YOA/ 300 Jerriel St. Apt. A Vidalia, GA- Driving While License Suspended or Revoked

Gillis, John L. Jr. - B/M 47 YOA / 1005 Brantley Rd. Vidalia, GA- Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (First)

Hollis, Darin Lamar- W/M- 34 YOA- 585 Coleman Road Vidalia, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense

Gibbons,Lateisha Nicole –B/F-36 YOA-508 W Toombs St Vidalia, Ga-No Insurance 1st Accident/Duty to Make Immediate Report/Driving While License Suspended

Vivar,Dionicio Grandeno-W/M- 51 YOA-404 W North St Vidalia,Ga-Theft By Shoplifting

Mcrae,Davona Chantil-W/F-31 YOA-1302 Ga Hwy 292 Lyons,Ga-Warrant Service(State)

Smith William Edward-W/M -54 YOA-1507 Clydette Blvd Vidalia, Ga-Theft by Shoplifting/Theft by Conversion/ Warrant Served (State)

Stevenson, Jaquez D. B/M- 26 YOA -705 E. First Street Vidalia, Ga- Criminal Trespass /Warrant Served (State)- Battery (FV) /Warrant Served (State)-Aggravated Assault (FVA) /Warrant Served (State)-Burglary 1st Degree/ Warrant Served (State) –Cruelty To Children 3rd Degree/ Warrant Served (State)-Cruelty To Children 3rd Degree/ Warrant Served (State)

Govan, Andre D. - B/M - 35 YOA -809 E Fifth St. Vidalia, Ga - Possession of Methamphetamines/Warrant Served (Probation)

Towns, Qwaushawn Devonte B/M 20 YOA/ 3291 Hwy 280 Vidalia, Ga. / Loitering Or Prowling.

Mobley, Tosha Renee B/F 43 YOA/ 204 West 6th St Vidalia, Ga/ Aggravated Assault

Ramos, Maynor Alberto- H/M- 38 YOA- 214 E. Clifton Ave Lyons, GA- DUI- 1st Offense/Driving Without License on Person

Usher, Shamira – B/F-21 YOA- 262 Skyline Blvd, Lyons Ga- Criminal Trespass/Simple Battery

Mincey, Keith T. - B/M-34 YOA-1208 Easter Dr. Apt. 31 Vidalia Ga.- Possession Less Than An Ounce/ Warrant Served
(Probation Warrant)

Harris ,Marquevous D. –B/M 23YOA-700 N. E. Main Street Vidalia, Ga. Warrant Served (State Warrant)

Harris, Marquevous Dequan-B/M 22 YOA-700 NE Main St Vidalia, Aggravated Assault, Kidnapping, Criminal Trespass, VGCSA

Marshall, Alesia Vantalice – B/F 29 YOA/ 212 Patrick St Vidalia, Disorderly Conduct

Whorely, Christopher Scott- W/M- 46 YOA- 3647 E Louisiana Ave Soperton, GA- Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (First)

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Guillermina Canuto-Tolentino, Lyons, traffic violations, driving unlicensed

Keith Mincey, Lyons, warrant served

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Allyssa Anderson, Dublin, probation violation

Edward Burkhalter, Glennville, Bad checks

Juan Bustos, Vidalia, hold for Avondale Police

Sherry Dukes, Hazlehurst, probation violation

Noel Encina, Baxley, driving with suspended/revoked license

Jammie Foskey, Vidalia, theft by deception

William Harden, criminal damage to property

Lacey Johnson, Jesup, hold for Wayne Co Sheriff's Office

Ashdyan Meeks, Lumber City, probation violation

Earets Mincey, Lyons, battery, criminal trespass

James Newsome, Vidalia, parole violation, theft by taking, burglary, theft by deception

Marlana Sikes, Lyons, possession of marijuana and drug related objects

Haylie Wilkerson, Twin City, failure to appear

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

04/30-Michael Dillon Lowther, Mt Vernon, Disorderly Conduct

04/30-Clint Jermayne Martin, Mt Vernon, Speeding, Failure to Maintain Lane, Headlight Requirement, Reckless Driving, Fleeing/Attempting to Elude, Driving on Wrong Side of Roadway, Open Container, Failure to Signal while Turning, Passing in No Passing Zone, Driving while Unlicensed

 04/30-Patrick Anthony Deen, Higgston, Possession of Methamphetamine w/Intent, Felony Obstruction of Officer (3 counts)

 erikhall04/30-Erik Christopher Hall (left), Vidalia, Homicide by Vehicle-1st (2 counts), Failure to Stop at Stop Sign, DUI/Drugs

 05/05-Bryon Terrell Shinholster, Stockbridge, Misdemeanor Obstruction of Officer (2 counts)

prek prek

Pre-K (left to right): Cannon Branham, Gracelynn Rigdon, Joselin Utuy-Miranda, William Ramirez-Romero, Charli Weeks

Kindergarten: Front Row: Carlos Otero, Nahchris Kinsey, Eduardo Vasques Valdez, Aubrey Shaw - Back Row: Ava Jones, Iyla Williams, Cole Schuchman, Jaylin Cardwell - Missing: Melissa Quintana

prek prek

First Grade: Front Row: Kenyan Groomes, Wilmer Almanza, Zylee Lopez, Makayla Mathis - Back Row: Kennedi Mann, Layla Williams, Isyss Henderson, Alex Rodriguez

Second Grade: Front Row: Jemma Collins, Austin Wright - Back Row: Evan Kearins, Peyton Hartley, Brandon Johnson, Brisa Gaspar, Tyler Lopez - Missing: Layla Winge

May 8--  The Montgomery County Board of Education has approved the following personnel recommendations.


May 8-- Georgia Future Educators Signing Day was held on Tuesday at Montgomery County High School for Zachary Barrow who has completed Southeastern Early College and Career Academy’s Teaching as a Profession Pathway (TAP).

He also passed the TAP End of Pathway Assessment and has been accepted to Georgia Southern University where he will major in education.

By completing the pathway and passing the assessment, Zachary will receive college credit for his first education course at Georgia Southern.

On hand to witness the signing of Zachary’s letter of commitment were his parents, Dr. Scott and Melissa Barrow, Superintendent Hugh Kight, Montgomery County High School School Counselor Malinda Meadows, SECCA’s Teaching as a Profession Instructor, Sabrina Campbell, and Montgomery County Middle School Mentor Classroom Teacher Lee Burkett.

Zachary is committing to improve the quality of education for students in the state of Georgia. The State School Superintendent, Richard Woods, local administrators, community members, and teachers commend Zachary on making an honorable decision to improve the quality of life for Georgia citizens through the educational process. He will be a great asset as we work towards “Educating Georgia’s Future.”

This program is supported by the State School Superintendent’s Office, Division of Career and Technical Education (CTAE), Georgia Early Childhood Education Foundation (GECEF), and Georgia’s colleges and universities.

zackbarrowFront Row pictured left to right: Melissa Barrow, Zachary Barrow, Scott Barrow

Back Row: Lee Burkett, Sabrina Campbell, Malinda Meadows, Hugh Kight

TCHS 2019 Valedictorian is LiliAnn Pittman

TCHS 2019 Salutatorian is Samantha Ruiz-Santana


TCHS 2019 Honor Graduates with Distinction:

Carlie Morgan, Mary Lopez, Bret White, Cynthia Hernandez, Alexander Boyett, Breannah Hutcheson, Morgan Sager, Olga Reyes, Jenna

Spikes, Emmaline Lucke, Olivia Wright, Abigail Hutcheson, Maggie Wright, Prentie Grace Stephens, Divoria Gaffney, Eden Hodges, Katherine

Van Dyke, Addison Hall, Logan Harvey, Brock Harrison, Jessalyn Partin, Edgar Hernandez, Tabitha Fields, Yarami Lopez, Jada Law, Ethan “

Cole” Graham, Sharon Fitzgerald, Mackenzie Cook, Zaida Maldonado, Camia Jones, Luis Trejo, Alejandra Barbosa-Perez, Yohana Ortega, 

Cari Eason

 TCHS 2019 Honor Graduates

Elim Flores, Ricardo Santana, Amanda Matthews, Allison Conrad, Sage Jones, Leslie Venegas, Robert Alexander Johnson, Ansley McGraw, 

Dustin Boyd, Matilda Wilcher, Sydney McLendon, Treyvon Wiggins, Anna Kate Martin

May 7-- Last Thursday the Georgia Bureau of Investigation was requested by the Wheeler County Sheriff’s Office to investigate an officer involved shooting.

Preliminary information indicates that at approximately 1:15 pm, Wheeler County Sheriff's Office and the Oconee Drug Task Force attempted to serve a bench warrant on 52-year-old David Wayne West at 106 Dry Branch Road in Glenwood.

When officers arrived they observed West outside the residence. He fled on a four-wheeler and the law enforcement officers gave pursuit into a wooded area where a physical altercation occurred.   During the incident, a law enforcement officer discharged his service weapon and fatally wounded West.

The officer involved sustained minor injuries.

The GBI will continue its independent investigation.  Once complete, it will be provided to the Wheeler County District Attorney’s Office for review.

May 7-- Meadows Health Advanced Wound Care has been recognized with two national awards for continued excellence in wound healing.

The center has been honored with the 2018 Center of Distinction Award and the 2018 Robert A. Warriner III, M.D., Center of Excellence award, which were given to the center by Healogics, the nation's largest provider of advanced wound care services.

To receive this national recognition, the Center must achieve patient satisfaction rates higher than 92 percent and a healing rate of at least 91 percent in less than 30 median days to heal, for a minimum of two consecutive years.

“Meadows is proud to have a wound center that has received national recognition for high quality patient outcomes and exemplary patient satisfaction,” said Alan Kent, Meadows Regional Medical Center President & CEO. “These awards are a direct result of the expertise and care Dr. John Spence and his staff delivers to our patients. I commend each of them for their contribution and I appreciate the trust, confidence, and support the community has shown the program.”

Dr. John V. Spence, a Certified Wound Specialist Physician, is the Medical Director at Meadows Advanced Wound Care. He has won various awards over the years, including Healogics’ Center of Distinction Award in 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016, and Healogics’ Center of Excellence Award in 2013, 2016 and 2017.

His clinical and clerical team is comprised of highly specialized front office staff, nursing staff and technicians who are specifically trained in the care of chronic wounds and their treatment.

The center is located in the back of Meadows Wellness Center at 101 Harris Industrial Blvd., Suite E in Vidalia. For additional information call, 912-277-2077.

By State Senator Jack Hill, Reidsville


Sometimes it takes a tragedy like Hurricane Michael to show us the value of agriculture. The astounding values of the crops and timber lost only graphically demonstrates what an important role agriculture plays in Georgia's economy.

This week, we will look at legislation passed during the 2019 General Assembly affecting agriculture and list some of the budget items dedicated to supporting Georgia's agriculture industry.


-- HB 213- Authorizes the growing and processing of hemp in Georgia

-- Legalized by Federal Farm Bill in 2018- Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018

-- Limited to .3% THC

-- Grower must be qualified agricultural producer (farmer)

-- Requires criminal background check-farmers, employees and processors-farmer nor employee can be convicted of misdemeanor or any felony drug offense

-- One License per person

-- Rules by the Georgia Department of Agriculture due July. Public comments follow

-- Farmer license $50 per acre-limited to $5,000 annually

-- Processor license-- $25,000 first year, renewal $10,000

--HB 512-- Creates an Agriculture Commodity Commission for propane-would issue marketing orders, conduct referendums and conduct assessments after a referendum of up to four tenths of one cent

--SB2-- Authorizes Electric Membership Corporations (EMCs) to provide broadband services. Some restrictions on keeping the electricity and broadband services separate

-- SB 17-- Authorizes telephone co-ops to expand their authority to broadband services. Expands allowable area of co-op to areas outside municipalities of up to a 15,000 population size

--HB 324-- "Georgia's Hope Act" makes legal the growing, production, manufacturing and dispensation of low THC oil

--Creates Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission

-- Can issue six production licenses

-- Two classifications of production licenses

            Class I-- 100,000 sq. ft.

            Class II-- 50,000 sq. ft.

Pharmacy Dispensaries, other retail dispensaries and the commission will dispense to registered patients. There are currently 8,400 patients with cards.

--HB 314-- Requires boats and watercraft to be titled. Includes motors 25 horsepower and above

--Title fees: up to 16 ft. - $25, up to 26 ft. - $60 and up...

-- Renew on owner's birthday

-- Sale or transfer of ownership- must be reported to DNR

-- Effective July 1, 2020

-- License valid for three years

-- HB 446-- Hurricane Michael timber tax credit

--provides additional avenue for claiming the income tax credit on timberland damaged by Michael

--allows for restoration or cleaning up the land and not necessarily replanted as presently written

--SB 72 Conference Report-removes the requirement to have a hunting license for hunting in wildlife management areas

--allows use of air guns and air bows for hunting big game in season

--removes prohibition against baiting feral hogs within 50 yards of property line if it does not prevent hunting on adjoining property

-- Allows DNR to modify hunting seasons on bag limits on deer, raccoons, opossums and bears


--SR 367- Senate Gaming and Pari-mutuel Wagering on Horse Racing and Growing Georgia's Equine Industry Study Committee

--SR 442- Senate Study Committee on Creating a Georgia Agricultural Marketing Authority

--SR 460- Senate Agriculture, Forestry, and Landscape Workforce Access Study Committee


--$235,000 to UGA experiment station for two precision agriculture and one vegetable breeder faculty positions in conjunction with $406,000 to Cooperative Extension Service for the same shared positions at the University of Georgia

--$204,000 to annualize Program Manager Position and associated operations for GATE program

--$110,000 to Soil and Water Commission for one erosion and sediment control plan reviewer and one watershed dam support position

--$299,000 to DOE Agricultural Education for camp personnel and operations and $83,000 for local law enforcement security at youth camps when students are present

--$656,000 to Cooperative Extension Service for 12 educator positions

--$747,000 for local law enforcement security at 4-H facilities when students are present

--$1.195 million in bonds for security improvements at Camp John Hope, Fort Valley, Peach County and the FFA/FCCLA Center in Newton County

--$150,000 in bonds to fund security improvements at 4-H centers statewide

--$2.5 million in bonds to UGA for half the cost of a multidisciplinary greenhouse complex

--$1.1 million in bonds to the Department of Agriculture for test trucks and mail and courier trucks

--$1.3 million in bonds to Department of Agriculture for improvements for farmers markets statewide

-- $1.0 million in bonds to the Soil and Water Conservation Commission for rehabilitation and maintenance of flood control structures statewide

High Tech ProgramL to R: Kiaraliz Valentin-Molinda, Student; Sandra McBride, High School High Tech Coordinator; Sarah Craft, Vidalia City Schools Special Education Academic Coach; Candace Mims, Vocational Rehab Field Director May 7-- Last week Vidalia High School held a year end event for high school students with disabilities that participate in the Georgia High School High Tech program.

Vidalia High School Special Education Academic Coach Sarah Craft is in charge of the program. “The Georgia High School High Tech program is a transitional program that partners with vocational rehab that provides support for students with disabilities to help them transition to post secondary options. It gives them opportunities to explore local businesses in the community, colleges to help them with education and employment goals after they graduate high school,” said Craft.

“Every year we add more tours and opportunities for our students and we will continue to use this program as long as the funds are available for us,” added Craft. “The community involvement with businesses and post secondary schools has been excellent. They’ve toured Trane this year as well as Plant Hatch. They’ve toured Southeastern Technical College. Next year we plan to tour Chicken of the Sea and other local businesses and we plan to keep adding to that.”

Craft said, “The students really enjoy the program. It gives them an opportunity to understand the benefits that are available and jobs, what happens when you do receive a high school diploma, and what’s available to them after they leave. We definitely can see that it’s making a difference in keeping students in school and helps them to understand the importance of receiving that high school diploma. You can get a good job that pays well and has great benefits.”

STC Spring GraduatesMay 6, 2019 – Southeastern Technical College (STC) held its Spring Certificate Ceremony April 30, for students who completed certificate programs.

Thirty-four Spring certificate graduates participated in the Certificate Ceremony held at STC’s Swainsboro campus, with some students obtaining more than one certificate.

Shanequa Tekquel Hollaway, Patricia L. Mincey, and Yveka Lekesha Raymond received an Administrative Support Assistant Certificate. Blaine Craft, Jordan Harold Griffin, and Triston Tharpe received a Basic Shielded Metal Arc Welder Certificate. Courteney Michelle Love received certificates for Computerized Accounting Specialist, Office Accounting Specialist, and Payroll Accounting Specialist. Kiera Allen, Angel A. Beasley, Quantiana R. Royal, and Hailey Marie Weeks received an Early Childhood Care & Education Basics Certificate. Jennifer Clark, Tristan English, Kristl Griffin, Sondra Holland, Kori Johnson, and Jasmine Sharp received an Emergency Medical Technician Certificate. Kristian J'na Edwards and Karrie Galbreath received a Health Care Assistant Certificate. Kimberly Dawn Emanuelson received certificates for Healthcare Billing and Reimbursement Assistant and Healthcare Office Assistant. Natavia McGee received an Introduction to Criminal Justice Certificate. Tyka Carter received a Management and Leadership Specialist Certificate. Shanequa Tekquel Hollaway and Patricia L. Mincey received a Microsoft Word Application Professional Certificate. Yveka Lekesha Raymond received certificates for Microsoft Excel Application Professional and Microsoft Word Application Professional. Emma Boudreau, Cornelius Jordan, and Ta'Shayna Odum received a Nurse Aide Certificate. Ty Jackson, Jenifer Sanchez-Flores, Ciané Snead, Dekerionna Shawnie Stephens, and Ta'kayla S. Williams received a certificate for Nurse Aide Dual Enrollment. Tasheona Folsom received certificates for Office Accounting Specialist and Payroll Accounting Specialist.

Students Karneisha Holloway and Haley Grant addressed the attendees. Gail Ware, retired Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness, congratulated the graduates and gave closing remarks.

STC offers more than 60 certificate programs which include automotive, childcare, criminal justice, hair design, healthcare, industrial maintenance, web site development, welding, wiring, and wildlife. These certificates prepare students for numerous entry-level positions. Some programs can be continued into a diploma or degree level education.

For more information on opportunities in technical education, visit or call 912-538-3100 or 478-289-2200.

RTCA Baylee WilliamsonMay 6--  The Lyons Lions Club Student of the Month program is a program that recognizes deserving students for their “Dedication, Commitment and Service to Others” and is sponsored by Peoples Bank. 

For the month of April the award was presented to Baylee Williamson of Robert Toombs Christian Academy. 

20190429 SOCV FlagPoleDamageIn March of 2011 the Montgomery County Sons of Confederate Veterans erected a 40 foot flag pole near I-16. The large pole and 3 smaller poles were on private land. During the Confederate Memorial Day weekend the site was vandalized. Repairs to the pole and other damages will run in the thousands of dollars. A $2,500 reward is being offered for the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible. Contact the Treutlen County Sheriff's office with any information. Contact will be kept confidential. 912-529-3222.

May 4—The 28th Annual Southeast Georgia Soap Box Derby was held Saturday at Derby Hill at Partin Park in Lyons. A total of sixty-one cars competed in the Stock, Super Stock Divisions, and for the first time the Masters Division for an opportunity to race in the Soap Box Derby World Championships this July in Akron, Ohio.

Cassidy Martin is the 2019 winner of the Soap Box Derby in the Stock Division. Cassidy is 13 years old from Lyons and a student at Vidalia Heritage Academy.

Joey Todd is the 2019 winner in the Super Stock Division from Vidalia and is 13 years and a student at RTCA.

Both winners will receive a check for $1,000 to help with expenses to Akron, Ohio.

Aidyn Driggers from Tarrytown is the 2019 winner in the Masters Division and received $250 to help with expenses to Akron this July. Aidyn was the 2018 local stock winner for Southeast Georgia and a former World Champion.

For the fourth year, a Super Kids Race took place Friday to give special needs children a chance to race down Derby Hill with an experienced driver in the car. The winner of the Super Kids Race was Levi Dopson from Vidalia.

5 4 19 Soap Box Winners 1

(Stock Division) 1st Place: Cassidy Martin, 2nd Place: Cash Driggers, 3rd Place: Trenton Jraisat, 4th Place: Josseline Zamorano. 5 4 19 Soap Box 2

(Super Stock Division) 1st Place: Joey Todd, 2nd Place: Alexie Carroll, 3rd Place: Ryan Gay, 4th Place: Alex Gordy (Not Pictured).5 4 19 Soap Box 3 Masters

(Masters Division) 1st Place: Aidyn Driggers, 2nd Place: Thayne Hayes, 3rd Place: Anna Kate Martin, 4th Place: Tucker Copeland.

May 3--  Larry’s Giant Subs in Vidalia has awarded $2000 in college scholarships to three high school seniors based on a Good Citizenship application and essay. Cruz Arredondo of Toombs County High School is awarded $1000 and Carrington Anne Long and Ginny Grace Gourley, both of Vidalia High School, are awarded $500 each.

Mr. Arredondo plans to attend Southeastern Technical College full time and eventually earn a degree in Physical Therapy. Miss Long will attend the University of Georgia and then plans to earn her master’s degree and become a school counselor. Miss Gourley will attend Auburn University in their Pre-Pharmacy program, ultimately hoping to earn her doctorate in Pharmacology.

The three were among 16 high school seniors who completed a Good Citizenship application form and essay that was offered to all high school seniors in Toombs County. Although the owners of Larry’s Giant Subs, Richard and Saundra Hathaway of St. Simons Island, intended to award only a single $1000 scholarship, they felt that because there were three highly deserving seniors, they doubled the total award monies by granting two additional $500 scholarships. “We had three excellent finalists and couldn’t pare it down to only one,” said Mr. Hathaway, “so we gave two more scholarships of $500 each.”

Larry’s Giant Subs has been in business in Vidalia since 2000 and has been managed by Jeanette Scott since 2006. Mr. Hathaway said, “Helping deserving students attend college is a great way to support the community.”

May 2--  Toombs County's longtime sheriff, Junior Kight, is seeking re-election to a fifth term of office.  Prior to his announcement Thursday, it was thought his son, Sheriff's Captain Jordan Kight, would seek the office, however, Sheriff Kight says he's going for another term, "It was true that if I did decide not to run, that he would run.  However, after talking with my family, my friends and my staff, I decided that I want the challenge and I want to run again.  It's very important for the next four years because we're looking at building a new jail and a new courthouse and we've got a lot of things going on that I want to be a part of, so I'm looking forward to running."

kightelectionSheriff Kight (center) announced his run for re-election with his members of the Sheriff's Office in Lyons.

In announcing his candidacy, Sheriff Kight said he's concerned about gang crime, "Our new governor has said he's going to give some money to help us with that.  The GBI has already started on that and I thing you're going to see a difference in the next year or two in the gangs," and mental health, "We need more places and facilities where we can send people with mental problems to get them back on track."

Sheriff Kight is expected to face competition in the May 19, 2020 primary election from Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker.

There will also be changes in the Middle Judicial Circuit in the 2020 election. 

Chief Superior Court  Judge Kathy Palmer will not seek re-election after 20 years on the bench.  One candidate who plans to run for the seat is Toombs County State Court Judge Tommy J. Smith.

After three terms in office, District Attorney Hayward Altman is retiring and his Chief Assistant, Tripp Fitzner, will run.

May 2--  The Vidalia City Council held a closed door meeting Wednesday afternoon but took no votes nor announced any action regarding its ultimatum to Police Chief Frank Waits to retire or face termination.

Lawyers for both sides are in communication, according to informed sources, and are considering their options.

May 1--  The 28th annual Southeast Georgia Soap Box Derby is scheduled to start rolling down Derby Hill at Partin Park in Lyons Saturday morning at nine o'clock.

Derby Chairman Matt Driggers says there are also two other races, "Friday is our Super Kids Race which is for mentally and physically challenged kids where they get to down the hill in a car made for two kids with an experienced driver," and late Friday afternoon there's a charity race called "Run What'cha Brung, "Whatever you're brave enough to build, if you want to come out and ride it down the hill for the Toombs County High School STEM (Science, Engineering, Technology, Math) program, then please do that.  If you can dream it and build it, come out there and race it for a $20 entry fee."

This year's race has a record 61 cars including a new division, "We're adding the Masters Division this year and  we will be sending three local champions to Akron this year versus the two we've sent for the past 27 years so we'll increase our odds up there for sure," Driggers said.

The weather forecast for Saturday is Party Sunny with a high in the 80's and Driggers is inviting you to Partin Park, "We will have good barbecue, hamburgers and hot dogs and stuff like that and we invite everybody to come out, set up your tents on the park side of the track and just enjoy a good day of racing.:"

May 1--  Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin has served warrants on the driver of a pickup truck involved in a fatal collision last Wednesday in Higgston.

Georgia State Patrol Sergeant First Class Eric Wilkes says 25-year-old Erik Christopher Hall of Vidalia is being charged with two counts of first degree vehicular homicide in the deaths of David and Patti Winge of Ailey.  They died after their vehicle was T-boned by Hall's pickup truck at the intersection of Sawmill Road and Highway 15 at the Higgston Baptist Church.

Hall remains hospitalized at Meadows Regional Medical Center in Vidalia and is under guard until such time as he can be released to the custody of Sheriff Maybin who served the warrants Tuesday night. 

He's also being charged with running a stop sign and for driving under the influence of drugs.  Sergeant Wilkes says more charges may be forthcoming once the State Patrol's Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team completes its investigation.  He says investigators will be able to determine how fast he was going when he ran the stop sign.

Meanwhile, Mount Vernon Police Chief Calvin Burns confirms that Hall pumped about $40 worth of gas at a convenience store in Mount Vernon and left without paying only a short time before the fatal accident in Higgston.