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July 30--  The Georgia Department of Education Milestone Report on academic performance shows there's a lot of work to be done to get students at J.R.Trippe Middle School in Vidalia to a proficient level.

However, Assistant School Superintendent Ginger Morris says students are closing the gap, "In every academic core content area at J.R. Trippe, we have increased their proficiency level as well as being able to work with our sub-groups and close the gap,"

Among six graders at J.R. Trippe, 51% were reading at or above grade level, however, 64% are categorized as beginning or developing learners who need help preparing for the next grade level in English Language Arts and nearly 80% are in that category when it comes to math.

In the seventh grade, 67% of the students were reading at or above grade level, but 72 percent need help in English Language Arts and 65% need help in math to become proficient.

Regarding eighth graders, 58% were at reading at or above grade level, but like in the lower grades, 61% needed help in English Language Arts, 76% in math, 75% in science and 66% in social science.

The Assistant Superintendent says the school is addressing the academic challenges it faces, "When we look at our scores, one of the things we want to make sure is that we're moving our students to a more proficient or distinguished level. We are going to work on more evidence-based methodology to close the gaps between our sub-groups and that's really where our focus will be," Morris said.

She also says its critical to a student's performance that all the stakeholders be in sync, "The best opportunity we have to insure a child is successful is if our parents get involved and we work together for the benefit of those students who are coming through the halls of the Vidalia City School System."

In our next Milestones report, we'll examine the report on Vidalia High School.

echoJuly 30-  "Echo" is a one-year-old mixed hound at the Vidalia Animal Shelter looking for a forever home. 

He's good with people and other animals and is a "gentle soul," according to Shelter Manager April Braddy. 

For adoption info on "Echo," call April at 537-8866 or stop by the Shelter on Airport Road. 

(This appeal for "Echo" is brought to you by Altamaha Animal Clinic in Vidalia.)

July 30--  The Georgia Department of Education has issued its annual "Milestones" report on academic performance of students in Georgia schools.

It identifies the percentages of students who are beginning or developing learners and who need substantial or additional academic support to be prepared for the next grade level.  Also noted are percentages of students who are proficient or distinguished students and who are prepared or well prepared for the next grade level.

At Sally Meadows Elementary School in Vidalia, nearly two-thirds of third graders hit the top two categories in math while more than two-thirds need help in English Language Arts.  In reading, more than 60% were reading at or above grade level.

Assistant School Superintendent Ginger Morris said, "We're in the process of working in math, ELA and reading.  The math scores looked really good this year, especially at the third grade level.  There are some other areas that need work and we've got some consultants coming in to help us in the content area.  We've also got a leadership change and we're expecting a lot of good things to come out of it this year."

Fourth grade scores at Sally Meadows show that 54% are reading at or above grade level, however, more than 70% need help in both English Language Arts and math to be prepared for the next grade level.

Nearly 60% percent of the fifth graders are reading at or above grade level but 65% need help in English Language Arts  as do 70% in math.

Morris says emphasis continues on reading because that's a building block for other subjects, "We're working with a new balance literacy approach because reading flows out into other content areas.  When we hit grades four and five, we're working with their writing because it's a reflection of their reading comprehension skills."

In an upcoming report, we'll break down the Milestone report regarding J.R. Trippe Middle School in Vidalia.

July 29-- The Georgia Department of Education School Nutrition Program announces its policy for free and reduced price meals for children unable to pay the full price served in schools under the National School Lunch Program and/or School Breakfast Program. Local school officials have adopted the following family size and income criteria for determining eligibility.




If family income is within



If family income is within









0             to       16,237

0             to         21,983

0             to         27,729

0             to         33,475

0             to         39,221

0             to         44,967

0             to         50,713

0             to         56,459

16,238     to         23,107

21,984      to         31,284

27,730      to         39,461

33,476      to         47,638

39,222         to       55,815

44,968         to         63,992

50,714     to           72,169

56,460     to           80,346

For each additional family member, add $5,746 per year to the income level for free meals and $8,177 to the income level for reduced price meals.

Children are eligible for free or reduced price meals under the following:

  • Children from families whose income is at or below the levels shown in the table above.
  • All children in households receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
  • Foster children that are under the legal responsibility of a foster care agency or court. Families with foster children should contact the school for information regarding benefits.
  • Children participating in their school’s Head Start program.
  • Children who meet the definition of homeless, runaway, or migrant. Contact the school for information regarding benefits.

Children in households participating in WIC may be eligible for free or reduced price meals. Please send in an application.

The reduced price breakfast costs no more than 30 cents and the reduced price lunch costs no more than 40 cents.

Application forms are being sent to all homes with a letter to parents or guardians. To apply for free or reduced price meals, households should fill out the application and return it to the school. Use one Free and Reduced Price School Meals Application for all students in your household. The information provided on the application will be used for the purpose of determining eligibility and may be verified at any time with each school district required to verify a sample annually. Applications may be submitted at any time during the year. Additional forms are available at each school.

For school officials to determine eligibility, households receiving SNAP or TANF must list the child's name, their SNAP or TANF case number, and the signature of an adult household member. Households not receiving SNAP or TANF must list child's name, names of all household members, the last four digits of the Social Security number of a parent or guardian (or an indication of no Social Security number), the amount of income received by each household member identified by source and frequency, and the signature of an adult household member certifying that the information provided is correct. An application that is not complete cannot be approved.

Under the provisions of this policy, a school official will review applications and determine eligibility. If a parent is dissatisfied with the determination, he/she may contact the school either orally or in writing.

The information provided by the household is confidential and will be used for the purpose of determining eligibility and verifying data. We may inform officials connected with other child nutrition, health, and education programs of the information on your form to determine benefits for those programs or for funding and/or evaluation purposes.

A child’s free or reduced price eligibility status from the previous year will continue in the same school district for up to 30 operating days in the new school year. If a new application is not approved or the child is not directly certified by this time, meals will be charged at the full price.

If a household member becomes unemployed or if the household size increases, the household should contact the school. Such changes may make the children of the household eligible for benefits if the household's income falls at or below the levels shown above.

The Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act requires the information on this application. You do not have to give the information, but if you do not, we cannot approve your child for free or reduced price meals. You must include the last four digits of the Social Security number of an adult household member. The last four digits of the Social Security number is not required when you apply on behalf of a foster child or you list a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program or when you indicate that the adult household member signing the application does not have a Social Security number. We will use your information to determine if your child is eligible for free or reduced price meals, and for administration and enforcement of the lunch and breakfast programs. We MAY share your eligibility information with education, health, and nutrition programs to help them evaluate, fund, or determine benefits for their programs, auditors for program reviews, and law enforcement officials to help them look into violations of program rules.

Non-Discrimination Statement: This explains what to do if you believe you have been treated unfairly.

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at:, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

(1)        mail:     U.S. Department of Agriculture

           Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights

1400 Independence Avenue, SW

Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;

(2)        fax:      (202) 690-7442; or

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

July 26--  Meadows Regional Medical Center in Vidalia is expanding its services to offer immediate care to residents in the Vidalia area.

mrmcimmediateAt a ribbon cutting for the new Meadows Health Immediate Care Center, Meadows Vice-President Mid McCain says the new facility is a more affordable alternative to the medical center's emergency room.

"When we look at the emergency room, there is a high percentage of patients who are going to the emergency room who are going for non-emergency care.  When you look at what's available after hours, you don't always get sick during normal doctor's office hours or the emergency room is not the place you want to go for care. We offer what you would normally find in a primary care office.  If you've got a cold or flu or respiratory issues, a sprain, a cut, feel a little dehydrated  or need your blood pressure checked, we work with the primary care physicians in the community so we're going to get them information back on what we did with you today so they will be up to speed.  It's all about continuity of care," McCain said.

The immediate care staff is in contact with the Meadows Emergency Room for needed assistance, however, it's a less expensive alternative, "When you go to the emergency room, you're going to have several tests just to rule out different things that may occur, but if you come here we've got access to a lot of records and can communicate with other offices.  We're priced just like a regular physician's office so if you come in you will see prices very similar to what you would see with your regular primary care physicians.

The Immediate Care Center is located behind the Meadows Wellness Center and is open from 11 a.m. till nine p.m., seven days a week.

July 26-- Yesterday 12th District Congressman Rick W. Allen participated in a special order hosted by the House Energy Action Team, or HEAT, to highlight the importance of nuclear energy, specifically to Georgia's 12th District. To watch the video, click here

I am proud to be a member of the House Energy Action Team, a coalition of Members of Congress who are focused on energy policy, and I was honored to be selected as the Nuclear subteam leader. This will allow me to do my part to advance our nuclear energy priorities through Congress and allow America to remain a dominant player in the global nuclear industry. The theme for this special order is the American Energy Renaissance- and I have to tell you- after President Trump took office, the war on energy and the war on business was over. It was like flipping on a light switch- America was back open for business again -- and the American people responded. We have the best economy in the world. 

Since then, we have continued to invest in our own energy resources and have successfully made the United States into being energy independent- who would have thought that 10 years ago. Georgia’s 12th Congressional District is on the front lines of the American Energy Renaissance, with the first two new nuclear reactors being built in the United States in the past thirty years at Plant Vogtle. Just in March, I had the opportunity to be with Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and see the placement of the top of unit 3 containment vessel, which was truly a historic moment! Finishing construction of these two units means that America can still do big things, and I look forward to units 3 and 4 coming online as soon.

Nuclear energy plays an important role in Georgia’s energy portfolio, as it accounts for more than a quarter of all power generated and is the only clean-air source that can produce large amounts of electricity around the clock. Georgia-12 is also home to all of Georgia’s nuclear capabilities with four nuclear reactors, two already online at Plant Vogtle and two at Plant Hatch. These facilities currently employ almost 2,000 people year-round, high skilled employees and the construction of Units 3 and 4 at Plant Vogtle is the largest construction project in Georgia, with more than 8,000 workers on site. 

When we talk about clean energy in this country- we don’t need out-of-touch, costly socialist policies like the Green New Deal.  That would devastate the best economy in the world! We’re talking about unleashing private sector innovation like nuclear power. According to the Nuclear Energy Institute, Georgia’s nuclear energy facilities alone avoid more than 21 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year- the equivalent of more than 4.4 million passenger cars!

It is of the utmost importance that we ensure these nuclear power plants continue to provide energy in a safe, reliable, and affordable manner. Georgia has been selected 6 years in a row as the best state to locate your business-- a big reason for that is our low energy cost.  Overall, I believe we must continue to pursue a proactive, responsible, and all-of-the above energy policy that will benefit hard-working Americans and lower the cost of energy in this nation. The House Energy Action Team will continue to be laser focused on continuing America’s Energy Renaissance, and I am so glad to be a part of it and with that I yield back.

July 26-- Five drug-trafficking conspirators and affiliates of the violent Ghost Face Gangsters criminal street gang are being sent to federal prison just days after prosecutors notched the final convictions of all 43 defendants in Operation Vanilla Gorilla.

Those sentenced this week for drug trafficking conspiracy and firearms violations include a purported leader of the conspiracy and an enforcer of gang rules, said Bobby L. Christine, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia.

“Outstanding work from our law enforcement partners and prosecutors wrapped up these cases with convictions of every defendant just eight short months after their indictments,” U.S. Attorney Christine said. “The significant federal prison sentences for these criminals should make it clear that we will not tolerate street gangs who peddle poison in our neighborhoods and violate the safety of our citizens. We will find them, and we will shut them down.”

U.S. District Judge R. Stan Baker sentenced five more of the 43 defendants to substantial prison terms, and upon completion of their sentences each will serve an additional three to five years of supervised release. To date, 21 defendants have been sentenced for their roles in the criminal conspiracy. Those sentenced this week are:

David McCloskey, a/k/a “Larchmont,” 47, of Augusta, Ga., was sentenced to nearly 24 years in prison: 165 months for Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute 50 Grams or More of Methamphetamine, and 120 months for being a Prohibited Person in Possession of a Firearm. McCloskey was a leader in the drug conspiracy.  

Joshua McNelly, 26, Savannah, was sentenced to 210 months in prison for Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute 5 Grams or More of Methamphetamine;

Dillon Myrick, a/k/a “Country Crack,” 31, of Port Wentworth, Ga., was sentenced to 120 months in prison for Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute a Quantity of Methamphetamine. As a “violator” in the Ghost Face Gangsters, Myrick’s job was to collect drug debts, settle disputes, and assault those believed to be enemies of the street gang.

Crystal Wilson, 37, of Bloomingdale, Ga., was sentenced to 65 months in prison for Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute a Quantity of Methamphetamine; and,

Kari Neely, 27, of Statesboro, Ga., was sentenced to 24 months in prison for Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute a Quantity of Methamphetamine.

Some of these defendants were on probation or parole when they committed the offenses, so the federal sentences will run consecutive to the sentences for violating state probation or parole.  There is no parole in the federal system.

As noted in court, these five defendants had a combined total of at least 19 state convictions, including at least three felony convictions, and had previously violated state probation at least four times. 

These five defendants were members of a major drug trafficking organization that distributed kilogram quantities of crystal methamphetamine (“ice”) in the Southern District of Georgia and elsewhere. McCloskey received pounds of crystal methamphetamine and delivered it for others to distribute.  When Effingham County deputies arrested McCloskey on April 16, 2018, he had in his possession a kilogram of crystal methamphetamine, a firearm with two fully loaded magazines, $2,225 in cash, and drug trafficking scales.  McNelly transported and distributed kilograms of crystal methamphetamine and possessed firearms. Myrick served as a “violator” for the Ghost Face Gangsters, and both Wilson and Neely stored, transported, and distributed drugs for the organization. 

“These sentences will ensure the incarceration of dangerous criminals and contribute to the restoration of order and peace,” said Beau Kolodka, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

Operation Vanilla Gorilla was investigated under the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF), the premier U.S. Department of Justice program to dismantle multi-jurisdictional drug trafficking organizations. The case was investigated by the ATF, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Chatham-Savannah Counter Narcotics Team (CNT), the Georgia Department of Corrections Intelligence Division, the Savannah Police Department, the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office, the Bryan County Sheriff’s Office, the Richmond Hill Police Department, the Pooler Police Department, the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office and the Bloomingdale Police Department, with assistance from the U.S. Marshals Service.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys E. Greg Gilluly Jr. and Frank Pennington.

July 25--  Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker is the new president of the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police.

walkersworninChief Walker was sworn in by Lyons Mayor Willis NeSmith, Jr. during the Association's summer conference in Savannah.

"This is probably the highlight of my career.  I've been in law enforcement for over 30 years and it was just so humbling to stand before the members of that Association Tuesday at lunch and be sworn in as President of that Association for the state of Georgia."

According to Chief Walker, the Association's primary mission is to set and maintain high standards among Georgia's chiefs of police, "The main functions are training and professionalism.  We are responsible for providing training for the chief executives of law enforcement agencies in the state.  We all come together and the association provides that professional training we need each year to stay up with legal issues and to maintain our certifications."

Chief Walker says one of his main goals is to improve recruiting and retention of police officers in the state, "I want to form a committee to look at the hiring and retention of police officers for law enforcement.  One of our biggest struggles these days is trying to hire good quality officers and retain them.  I think are some things the state can do to assist local jurisdictions in combating that problem that we have right now. "

Also at the meeting, former Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits was honored with a lifetime membership in the Association.  He's a past president of the Association and as a current Vice-President was in line to become the first chief in the state to hold the position twice before his forced resignation by the City of Vidalia. 


                             Georgia Power Local Managers Brent James and Greg Hudgins presented a $3,200 donation from the company to Paul Anderson Youth Home in Vidalia.

                              The Paul Anderson Youth Home is committed to helping transform the lives of troubled young men and their families. The youth home provides a fully accredited high school program, vocational and life skills training courses. Each individual who lives in the home receives a plan tailored to meet their specific needs at the physical, emotional, mental, social and spiritual levels.

Georgia Power’s donation was part of the company’s Club of Hearts employee match fund that allows individuals to donate portions of their paychecks to causes and agencies close to their hearts.

The Georgia Power Foundation – the non-profit arm of the company – matches any employee contributions to approved Club of Hearts agencies dollar for dollar, up to $10,000.

                              Georgia Power and the Georgia Power Foundation are proud to support organizations and programs dedicated to making the state’s communities successful. In 2018, the company and the foundation invested more than $11 million in programs that enhanced the well-being of Georgians. 


July 25-- Governor Brian P. Kemp has named  Senator Blake Tillery  of Vidalia to serve on a 40-member Healthcare Waiver Stakeholder Working Group which held its first meeting last Thursday.

blaketillery2019“I am honored to be appointed by Governor. Kemp to serve as a member of this stakeholder group,” said Sen. Tillery. “Many in our district find health insurance cost-prohibitive. The folks who can afford coverage are paying two and three times the amount of their home mortgage just on premiums. That’s simply not sustainable. I am solely committed to finding innovative solutions to drive down healthcare cost for all Georgians.” Sen. Tillery added, “My appointment reflects Governor Kemp’s commitment to rural Georgia and addressing our biggest issues.”

The impetus of this stakeholder group was Senate Bill 106. Sen. Tillery guided SB 106, which allows the Georgia Department of Community Health and the Governor to request waivers to administer Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act differently in Georgia than they are administered in other states. Gov. Kemp and Sen. Tillery have frequently referred to these possible waivers as “providing Georgia solutions to Georgia problems.” You can read the full bill here.

With his work on this healthcare stakeholder group, Sen. Tillery is hosting numerous listening sessions in Senate District 19. “I want to hear your experiences of how healthcare costs have affected your families.  I also want to hear your ideas on how we can do better.  I still believe the people of Georgia best know how to solve Georgia’s problems.  Please join me to share your healthcare cost stories and ideas on resolving this crisis so I can relay them to my colleagues.”

The following are the dates, locations and times of the meetings:

Appling County Meeting:

When: August 8, 2019, 2:00 p.m.

Where: Appling County Courthouse Annex - Commissioners Meeting Room

69 Tippins St.

Baxley, GA 31513

Jeff Davis County Meeting

When: August 2, 2019, 2:00 p.m.

Where: The Big House

25 E. Coffee St.

Hazlehurst, GA 31539

Long County Meeting

When: August 6, 2019, 4:30 p.m.       

Where: Long County Public Library

270 S. Main St.

Ludowici, GA 31316

Telfair County Meeting

When: August 2, 2019, 9:00 a.m.

Where: J. Herschel Selph Public Safety Building

81 E. Oak St.

McRae-Helena, GA 31055

Toombs County Meeting

When: August 8, 2019, 9:00 a.m.

Where: Toombs-Montgomery Chamber of Commerce

2805 E. 1st St.

Vidalia, GA 30474

Wayne County Meeting

When: August 6, 2019, 2:30 p.m.

Where: Jesup Train Depot

176 NW Broad St.

Jesup, GA 31545

July 24--  Three hundred kids in the Vidalia and Toombs County school systems will have after-school programs in the new school term after all.

A couple of months ago officials of the local 21st Century program were floored to learn their grant request for federal funds had been denied and they were facing the real possibility that the program would end.

However, Wednesday program administrator Paige Williamson announced the Vidalia Board of Education has indicated it will approve $50,000 to help fund what will now be called "The Vidalia Learning Centers."  Earlier, the Toombs County Board of Education had agreed to fund up to $75,000 to keep the program going for one more year pending renewal of funding by the U.S. Department of Education.

"We are absolutely blown away by the support of our school districts.  The agreements come with the understanding that this is to sustain our after-school programs for one year.  While we are running those programs, we will be seeking additional federal funding to sustain the program after this upcoming year." Williamson said.

The program is for kids in kindergarten through the eighth grade whose parents are working, "The kids start off with a snack and have some outdoor time, then they transition to homework time and academics and then end the day with the enrichment block with activities like art, potentially cooking and physical education.  Because we're running on a bare bones budget this year, the day will end at 5:30 p.m. instead of 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday," the program director said.

Vidalia School Superintendent Dr. Garrett Wilcox says the work of the 21st Century staff the last three years convinced the school board of the need to continue, "The work they've done with the young kids is reflective of the school board being willing to support this for a year.  The opportunity to have a safe environment everyday after school and folks to help with homework plus the relationships the staff has built with these children each and every year is a long term benefit to our community."

July 23-- State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said today that Georgia added more than 20,000 jobs in June, pushing the state to a new record high.

Butler also noted that preliminary numbers showed year-over-year gains in

employment and workforce. At the same time, claims for unemployment insurance were near record lows.  

“The numbers for June are very impressive,” Butler said. “We set yet another record for jobs, passing 4.6 million. Fewer people filed unemployment claims and our number of employed residents is climbing. There’s plenty to be encouraged about in the June report.”

Nationally, the unemployment rate inched up 0.1 percent points in June to reach 3.7 percent. Georgia’s rate dropped 0.1 percentage points to settle at 3.7 percent.  A year ago, Georgia’s unemployment rate sat at 3.9 percent.

Meanwhile, Georgia added 20,200 jobs in June, pushing the total to 4.61 million jobs – a new record for the state. That number is up more than 80,000 from the same time last year.  

Georgia had four job sectors that added more than 2,000 jobs in June:

  • Education/health services, 3,600
  • Information, 2,900
  • Professional/business services, 2,700
  • Leisure/hospitality, 2,200.

In terms of annual change, education/health services, professional/business services, leisure/hospitality and construction and all added 10,000 or more jobs.

In June, the number of employed residents went up for the first time in four months. The gain of 2,175 in June brought Georgia’s number of employed to 4.91 million.  

Georgia’s labor force slipped again in June, dropping by less than 1,500 versus a total work force of more than 5.1 million. And, even with the monthly loss, the labor force total was still higher than the same month a year ago.

 At the same time, fewer residents were filing new claims for unemployment. The total number of claims filed in June, at 18,410, was the second lowest filed in the past 45 years.

New claims for unemployment were down by about 11 percent compared with last month.  When compared to June of 2018, claims were down by 16 percent.   

In June, noted just under 80,000 job postings.

Visit to learn more about career opportunities, Employ Georgia and other GDOL services for job seekers and employers and to connect with us on social media.

July 23--  The Montgomery County school board okayed the school system's tentative fiscal year 2020 budget at its July meeting Monday night.

School Superintendent Hugh Kight reports the $11.5 million budget is about $40,000 less than this year, "It's going to be a little tighter but we're going to be under budget from this year so we'll have some reserve and we'll just have to spend wisely."

The school system has $1.2 million in reserves which comes in handy for emergencies and to provide some payroll flexibility, "We always try to keep at least $1 million in reserve cause things happen and if you want to pay teachers early in December instead of waiting until December 31 when the state gives us the money, you can pay them when they go out for Christmas break." Kight noted.

Public hearings on the proposed budget will be held Monday, August 12 at 12 p.m. and Monday, August 19 at 5:30 the school board's central office in Mount Vernon.  The board will meet following the second hearing to approve the budget.

Students return to class in Montgomery County Friday, August 2, "We've got a motto to begin the new year and it's "FIRE," Focus on Improvement, Relationships and Education," the superintendent said.

Three days before school starts, the system is sponsoring a "Back to School Bash."  Last year, school supplies were given to more than 700 students and Kight would like to provide even more this year, "We invite all Montgomery County parents to come on July 30th from two to six p.m. at the Community House in Mount Vernon.  We're going to give out books bags and all the school supplies they need.  Our goal is to give everyone in our schools a book bag and supplies and get them ready to go."

In other actions, the Board of Education:

* Added $57,000 to the Career, Technical and Agriculture Education budget.

*Approved a spending resolution adding up to $70,000 from reserves to the budget.

*Authorized purchase of a new Blue Bird school bus for $96,000 with a state reimbursement of $77,000.

*Awarded Matt Waller a $8,800 contract for roof repair work on the football field house.

*Renewed the contract with the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office for Deputy Mickey Moore to continue as the school system resource officer.

After an executive session, the board approved the following personnel actions.

Approved Resignations:

Rhonda Waters, Payroll Clerk

Joy Cox, Bus Driver

Malena Weeks, Bus Driver

Substitute Approvals:

Zellene Robinson, Teacher

Lula Ann Jordan, School Nutrition

New Hires:

Thomas Hillard, Contracted Services---Federal Programs

Rhonda Edge, Bus Driver

Randall Tarpley, Bus Driver

Karen Taylor, Bus Driver

Latoya Sneed, Bus Monitor

Twila Reese, School Nutrition


Approved Amy Wickstrom from Federal Programs to Payroll Clerk

July 25--  Vidalia Police report the following arrests.

Davis,Joshua Emmanuel-B/M-18 YOA-2001 S Maple Dr Vidalia, Ga-Hit And Run/Property Damage or Injury/Fail To Stop,Leave Scene (Misd)

Hamilton, Brandon Leon-W/M- 48 YOA- 803 N Hwy 19 Glenwood, GA- Warrant Served (Toombs County

Brewer,Ben Kevin-B/M-24 YOA-2104 W Smalley, Vidalia- Warrant Service

Hernandez,Pablo Landa-W/M-36 YOA-889 US Highway 280 E, Lyons-Driving Due Care Hands Free, No Driver License

Gonzalez, Teresa Michelle- W/F- 39 YOA-519 Red Breast Lane- Reidsville, GA- Shoplifting

Cawthon, Ella Elizabeth- W/F- 38 YOA- 300 Patrol Road- Forsyth, GA- Shoplifting

Blaise, Colby Thomas- W/M- 22 YOA- 530 Hallock Hill Road Peru, New York- Warrant Served (New York State Police- Bench)

Rodriguez, Juvenal- H/M- 39 YOA- 254 East Tifton Ave Lot 25
Lyons, GA- Expired Driver’s License

Dingle, Olivia Montaga- B/F- 28 YOA- 813 Scott Dr. Vidalia, GA- Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (First), Warrant Served (Tattnall County SO- State)

Hutchinson, Nolan- W/M- 18 YOA- 706 Adams St. Vidalia, GA- Possession of Marijuana Less than Ounce

Johnson, Delvin Brian- B/M-24 YOA- 2017 Cason Dr. - Vidalia, GA- Headlight Requirements, Driving Without License on Person, Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (First)

Jones, Anthony Jeremiah- B/M- 18 YOA- 405 Thompson St. Vidalia, GA- Tail Light and Tag Light Requirements, Driving Without License on Person, Possession of Marijuana Less Than Ounce

Moore, Jim Carl- W/M- 17 YOA- 407 Jim Gordy Rd. Lyons, GA- Drag Racing

Edwards, Adam Lee- W/M- 18 YOA- 906 Ben Usher Rd. Lyons, GA- Drag Racing

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Bridgette Barnes, Lyons, possession of marijuana

Alex Ashley, Lyons, possession of marijauana

Linda Wood, Collins, DUI, Child Endangerment, hands free, seat belt, no license on person

Bobby Rewis, Lyons, DUI

Liriio Lomas, Meter, driving unlicensed, traffic violation

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Marcos Agular, Lyons, DUI

Charles Carter, Vidalia, battery cruelty to children, criminal trespass

Martonia Cephus, Lyons, driving with license suspended/revoked, tail lights

Clinton Clark, Lyons, failure to appear

Cindy Crapps, Baxley, controlled substance, crossing guard lines, failure to appear

Timothy Durling, Lyons, probation violation

Khalil Harris, Vidalia, probation violation,possession of firearm

Calvin Herrera, Lyons, battery, family violence

John Johns, Uvalda, Electronic pornography and child exploitation

Anthony Mincey, Lyons, child support

Thomas Reynolds, Reidsville, failure to appear

Jacob Taylor, Lyons, probation violation, failure to appear

James Taylor, Uvalda, burglary

Travion Williams, Vidalia, probation violation

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests,

07/15-James Emanuel Thomas-Mount Vernon, Deposit Account Fraud

07/16-Tyler Graeson Wilson-Adrain, Felony Probation Violation

07/19-Jordan Cecil Truitt, Mount Vernon, Aggravated Assault (2 counts), Possession of Drug Related Objects

07/19-Brandon Edward Pells, Soperton, DUI, Driving w/Suspended License, Following too Closely

July 22--  "The Sassy Sweet Onion Girls" from Girl Scout Troop 30186 in Vidalia took first place in the 3rd Annual Quest Fest in Savannah competing with troops from around the United States.

girlscoutwinnersThe girls won individual gift bags and $3,000 for the troop and are (L-R) Ja'niyah Willis, Katie Zabski, Caroline Page, Madyson Bruce, Danika Robbins, Jamie Gunter and Alexis Bishop.

Troop leaders are Kelly Bruce and Karrie Page with Moms Jennifer Gunter and Ann Zabski also participating. 

For information on Girl Scouting in the Vidalia area, call Kelly Bruce, 478-697-1494.

July 22--  Georgia Department of Transportation announces a temporary road closure in conjunction with culvert pipe replacement on Georgia Highway 56 in Toombs County.

Highway 56 will be closed between Cedar Crossing Road and Del Conner Road with traffic detoured starting Monday, August 5 and remain closed until further notice.

The existing pipe, maintained by Georgia DOT, will be replaced under the roadway then roadway reconstructed. Message boards will be utilized to alert the public of the upcoming changes.

Motorists will be guided through the state route detour with directional signage via US 1, SR 29, US 280, SR 130 and SR 135.

Motorists will be able to access residences up to work zone.

July 22--  The federal government is proposing changes to the program that allows foreign workers in the country for farm work.

The proposed changes have been put out for public comment and Bob Stafford with the Vidalia Onion Committee believes they would streamline and simplify some of the red tape onion farmers have to go through to get help with their crops.

"We've been excited about working on this for quite some time and it's just going to make it a little less cumbersome for growers to use it.  It's a program we've got to have because we've got to have a legal workforce. They're making it easier to work with the paperwork and it still protects the American workforce.  They're still working on it, but it's good help they're giving us right now," Stafford said.

Stafford says former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, who is now  the Secretary of Agriculture, has been pushing to improve access to labor, "He's come up with some good ideas and we're real happy with the work they've put into it.  It's a step in the right direction and when the comment period is over and they come out with the final version, it's going to help our farmers a good bit."

The proposal also expands the program to cover employers engaged in reforestation and pine straw activities and updates procedures regarding animal shearing, custom combining, beekeeping and reforestation.

payhhome19July 21--  Riders from the Paul Anderson Youth Home in Vidalia returned home Saturday after a week-long, 500 mile trip that took them from Flagler Beach in Florida up to Augusta and back home.  The 14th annual ride raised nearly $140,000 for the youth home to continue its mission of transforming lives.

July 19--  The Chicken of the Sea plant in Lyons will celebrate its 10th Anniversary in the Toombs Corporate Center September 23.

Company Human Resources Director Kathryn Roseen provided an overview of plant operations in a presentation to the Vidalia Rotary Club.

rotarykathryn(L-R) Vidalia Rotary President Steve McComas, Kathryn Roseen and Rotary Club program sponsor Steven Rigdon, Ameris Bank City Manager. 

Chicken of the Sea's 300 employees process tons of tuna and ship it worldwide each week. 

The plant in Lyons is the worldwide company's only  plant operating in the United States and Roseen told Rotarians they are pleased with the plant and want to maintain a presence in the United States.

July 19-- On Tuesday an Emanuel County Grand Jury indicted seven members of a Bloods-affiliated racketeering enterprise after receiving testimony from Special Agents of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Eastman Office and the Washington County Multi Agency Gang Unit. 

Tony Lenard Williams, age 43, of Swainsboro, identified as the leader of this drug commerce racketeering enterprise, is alleged to have employed Blood criminal street gang members to achieve the criminal objectives of the enterprise.  Co-conspirator Travis Lee Brown, age 36, of Swainsboro faces two counts of Racketeering for his role in sustaining the Enterprise during the incarceration of Tony Lenard Williams.

The indicted crimes include Murder, Aggravated Assault, Weapons Charges, Drug Charges, Gang Act Charges, Entering Automobile, Escape, Affray, and Tampering with Evidence.

Neshawn Brown, age 19, of Swainsboro, Talik Reaun Williams, age 22 of Swainsboro and his father Tony Lenard Williams face counts of Racketeering and Murder for the 2016 homicide of Angela Katrice Gillis. 

Talik Reaun Williams is also charged alongside his father, Tony Lenard Williams and Richard Curry Anderson, age 31, of Lyons for the 2017 homicide of Zaveion Ricks. 

Victor Jammal Hall, age 27, of Swainsboro and Walter Lee Figueroa, age 22, of Adrian also face charges that include Racketeering and Gang Act for their role in the continuing operations of the Tony Williams drug enterprise. 

The 44-count indictment, which includes murder, aggravated assault, drugs and firearms charges, as well as violations of the Street Gang Act and Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) is the culmination of investigative efforts spanning five years and involving multiple agencies.  

These agencies include the Middle Circuit District Attorney’s Office, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Southeastern Regional Drug Enforcement Office, Georgia Department of Corrections State Security Threat Group Unit, Georgia Department of Community Supervision, Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Emanuel County Sheriff’s Office, Swainsboro Police Department, Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, Toombs County Sheriff’s Office, Lyons Police Department, Soperton Police Department, Twin City Police Department, Adrian Police Department, Cobb County Gang Unit, El Paso Police Department (Texas), and the DEA.

This joint investigation remains ongoing and additional indictments and arrests are anticipated.  Anyone with information pertaining to this case are encouraged to contact the Eastman GBI Office at (478) 374-6988.

July 18--  The man who killed a Vidalia men's store manager last year will spend the next 45 years of his life in prison.

BURNSSENTENCETwenty-Twenty-nine-year old Tyrone Burns pleaded guilty to felony murder and aggravated assault  in the death of Brooke Joiner.

Chief Assistant District Attorney Tripp Fitzner recounted the crime in the plea hearing Thursday before Judge Kathy Palmer in Toombs County Superior Court, "On November 16, 2018 the body of Brooke Joiner was found with a single gunshot wound to the abdomen at the R.J. Pope Menswear in Vidalia, Toombs County, Georgia.  She was shot as a result of this robbery which occurred at the R.J. Pope and he did get some money and that brought about her death."

Burns' defense attorney told the court two mental health experts had examined her client and found him mentally competent after which he was questioned by Judge Palmer.

"Mr. Burns, did you hear the outline of fact as presented by Chief District Attorney Fitzner?"

"Yes m'am."

"Are those basically the facts to which you plead guilty here today?"

"Yes m'am."

"Are you guilty?"

"Yes m'am."

The Joiner family was in the courtroom for the hearing and chose not to make a statement, after which Judge Palmer passed sentence.

"Count five is the felony murder for the murder of Miss Joiner.  The judgement sentence of the court is that you serve life in prison.  For the aggravated assault upon Miss Joiner, which is the basis of the felony murder, I sentence you to 15 years of incarceration which is consecutive to the life sentence."

Fitzner says Burns must serve 30 years on the murder charge before being eligible for parole and that the consecutive 15 year term means he will be in jail for at least the next 45 years.

July 18--  A 19-year veteran of police work will be the new police chief in Vidalia.

BRIANSCOTTAfter meeting more than two-hours in executive session Thursday, the Vidalia City Council voted to accept the recommendation of City Manager Nick Overstreet to hire Brian Scott who is currently the Chief of Staff of the Glynn County Police Department in Brunswick.  Scott was among six people interviewed for the job.

"I'm excited.  There are a lot of good men and women who work for the Vidalia Police Department and I've got some plans in place to help move the department forward and I think we can work together to do that," Scott said.

The new chief started his career with the McIntosh County Sheriff's Office and then worked for the Brunswick Police Department before joining the Glynn County Police Department.

"In Glynn County we started a Community Relations Unit in April of last year.  I'd like to see something similar to that up there with officers out in the community on bikes building a relationship with at-risk teens and youth in the community to let them know members of the police department are people they can trust and look up to.  Like down here in Brunswick, Vidalia has a lot of kids being raised in fatherless homes so we need to have a police department they can look up to.  The community expects more out of law enforcement these days and one of the things they expect is transparency and that's one thing I'm going to be pushing for is transparency with the community and the council so the community knows what's going on with the police department," the new chief said.

Chief Scott also plans to reach out to other agencies, "One of my first priorities is to reach out to the Chief of the Lyons Police Department, the Special Agent in Charge of the GBI up in that area and also Sheriff Kight to build relationships with those agencies and also Emergency Management and Fire and Rescue because we're all there to serve a common purpose and that's to serve the citizens of Vidalia and Toombs County."

City Manager Nick Overstreet said, "Mr. Scott's leadership experience and professionalism will be an asset to the future of the Police Department.  We look forward to working with him to protect and serve the citizens of our community."

The chief and his wife of 23 years have a grown daughter who lives in Brunswick, a son in the U.S. Navy and a 12-year-old boy who will attend J.R. Trippe Middle School.

His first day on the job will be Monday, August 12.

July 17--  The Toombs-Montgomery Chamber of Commerce is accepting nominations from chamber members for four new board members who will join the chamber board in January.

The deadline for nominations is July 23rd to a member of the nominating committee.

Tres Herin
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Ginger Morris
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Michele Johnson
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Pat Dixon
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Trent Williams
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July 17--  The Toombs County Board of Commissioners is expected to name Courtroom A in the Toombs County courthouse for the late Judge Marvin Hartley of Lyons.

Judge Hartley is the only Superior Court judge from Toombs County to serve on the bench in the Middle Judicial Circuit.  At Tuesday's commission meeting, retired  Vidalia attorney Reid Threlkeld made a presentation recommending Judge Hartley for the honor with endorsements from the Middle Judicial Circuit Bar Association, the Toombs County Bar Association and the cities of Vidalia and Lyons.

Under county policy, public facilities are not named in someone's honor until 25 years after their death, however, Commission Chairman David Sikes said the Commission would consider an exception for Judge Hartley and make a decision as a future meeting.

Judge Hartley graduated from the University of Georgia in 1958 with a BA degree and received his LLM from the University of Georgia School of Law in 1961. He passed the bar and was admitted to the practice of law in 1961. After practicing law briefly in Sandersville, he moved to Toombs County and joined Ross and Malone Sharpe’s law firm in Lyons. The practice later became Sharpe, Hartley, Newton and McNatt. Mr. Hartley was elected state court judge and in 1977 was appointed by Gov. George Busbee to the Superior Court bench where he served until December 31, 2000.

In other actions at its meeting, the board:

*  Authorized the Savannah architectural firm Hussey Gay Bell to proceed with Phase Two of the project to build a new county courthouse and expand the county jail.  Phase Two is design of the new complex in order to make a cost estimate.  It also named a company to advise the commission on financing of the project.  Davenport and Company will charge up to $40,000 for the service according to County Manager John Jones.

* Renewed the county's liability insurance with Bishop & Durden of  Vidalia for an annual premium of $229,456.00.

* Made three equipment purchases for the Public Works Department including $53,000 to Lassiter Equipment of Toombs County for a tractor; $27,328 to Diamond Mowers for a limb cutter boom kit and $6,681.55 to Yancey Brothers Caterpillar of Statesboro to replace electronic controls on a motor grader.

*  Passed a resolution for the county to take part in a "Complete Count Committee" as part of the 2020 Census.

*  Approved a quick claim deed to Jimmy and Patricia Dixon for Glory Drive off of Bostwick Circle.

* Heard from the county manager that county expenses are "under budget" and the county remains "in the black" at the mid-year point.

July 17--  The best of the best from across Georgia will gather in Atlanta Tuesday, July 23 for the 77th Annual State 4-H Congress.

The 4-H Congress is the end of the year highlight for many of Georgia’s youth with more than 400 members joined by hundreds of staff and University specialists for the four-day event. Members will compete in project competitions, attend leadership award banquets and educational tours.

Eligible members qualified in February during District Project Achievement competition.

4HstateRepresenting Toombs County are (front row, L-R)  Carlie Morgan (Workforce Preparation & Career Development)James Poppell (Human Development), Jodi Kramer (General Recreation), and (back row, L-R) Hannah Page (Flowers, Shrubs, & Lawns), Logan Harvey (Arts and Crafts) and
Gracie Hamlin (Performing Arts – Vocal).  

Extension staff members accompanying the group are Cheryl Poppell, 4-H Coordinator, Mallorie Talvan, 4-H Program Assistant and Lillian Hester, 4-H Intern.

For more information about 4-H in Toombs County, contact the local office at 912- 526-3101 or visit Toombs County Extension online at

July 16--  The Vidalia Police Department reports the following arrests.

Andrews, Heather Nicole- W/F- 29YOA- 1188 Ga Hwy 29South, East Dublin-Ga. - Warrant Served

Caron, Anthony William- W/M- 20 YOA- 43 Gloria Jean Rd. Reidsville, Ga- Possession of a Controlled Substance/ Forgery- 4th Degree/ Warrant Served

Miller, Tevin- B/M- 26 YOA- Homeless Vidalia, GA- Give False Name, Address, Birth date to LE Officer/Willfully Obstruction of Police Officer Simple/Verbal/Warrant Service (Treutlen County SO- Probation)

Daniels, Herbert Lewis- W/M- 37 YOA- 205 David St. Vidalia, GA- Driving While License Suspended or Revoked, Removing or Affixing License Plate, Red Light Violation, No Proof of
Insurance (Bench Warrant)

Moore, Christian Ryan- W/M- 23 YOA- 3536 GA Highway 297 Vidalia, GA- Possession of Marijuana Less Than Ounce/Possession of a Controlled Substance

Harden, Bernard Jr. - B/M 24 YOA- 509 Bay St. Vidalia, GA Possession of Marijuana Less Than Ounce

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

Claxton, Ashley Jonee-W/F 31 YOA- 500 S. Railroad St. Apt. F2 Mt. Vernon, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Ronald Harrell, Sr., DUI, no insurance. open container, disorderly conduct, obstruction of an officer, traffic violations

Kylie Walker, East Dublin, warrant served, no insurance

Robert Moody, Glennville, possession of drug related objects and a controlled substance, no brake lights

David Losolla, Lyons,possession of marijuana

Arnold Knight, Vidalia, warrant served

Robert Moody, Glennville, possession of a controlled substance, warrant service

Amber Davis, Lyons, no insurance

Madison Evans, Lyons, possession of methamphetamine and drug related objects, open container, possession of alcohol by a minor

Vincent Matthews, Tarrytown, shoplifting

Michael Johnson, Lyons, criminal trespass, aggravated battery, false imprisonment

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Calem Campbell, Lyons, theft by taking

Miranda Campbell, Lyons, probation violation, license suspended/revoked, acquiring license plate to conceal identity of vehicle

Brandon Cook, Lyons, purchase, possession, manufacture, distribution and sale of methamphetamine, failure to appear, possession of drug related objects

Josha Cowart, Vidalia, contempt of court

William Crowe, Lyons, aggravated assault, possession of drug related objects, possession of firearm by convicted felon/probationer

Justin Edge, Lyons, aggravated assault, cruelty to children

William Poole, Lyons, failure to appear

Jody Rollins, Vidalia, operating watercraft under the influence, refusal of blood/chemical tests, child endangerment, owner's liability for allowing another to operate while intoxicated

Tyler Smith, Uvalda, probation violation

Vianey Tinoco, Vidalia, open container, failure to maintain lane, driving unlicensed

Travius Williams, Claxton, probation viiolation

Eric Wright, Vidalia, simple battery

Jayson Wright, Vidalia, simple battery

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

06/26-Roderick Blair Barwick-Rockledge, Forgery-4th (4 counts), Theft by Taking (2 counts)

07/08-Leslee Fowler, Uvalda, Possession of Methamphetamine w/Intent, Possession of Marijuana w/Intent, Possession of Controlled Substance w/Intent (Xanax)

07/08-Tyler Smith, Uvalda, Toombs County Misdemeanor Probation Violation Warrant Served

07/09-Tayna Lynn Detillion, Reidsville, Forgery-4th

07/09-Herman King, Stockbridge, Theft by Taking Motor Vehicle, Theft by Taking, Possession of Firearm by Convicted Felon

07/09-Thomas Dorsey Smith, Vidalia, Felony Probation Violation

07/09-Timothy Carlton Jones, Chauncey, Driving w/Suspended License

07/10-Diane M. Watson, Tarrytown, Burglary-1st

July 16-- The Toombs County School System is excited to offer a variety of new academic programs this year to give the students  various options at all levels of its schools.

According to Superintendent Barry Waller, “Our goal is to give all of our students opportunities to shine. We are working at all levels to provide the most positive school experience for our kids."

The school system is starting a Performing Arts program at the elementary level to begin a show choir/children’s choir. The program will feature music and chorus classes at both Lyons Upper Elementary and Toombs Central Elementary and will lead to an after school show choir/ensemble. “It is our goal to establish this program and hopefully add a Middle/High program in the future that can work collaboratively with our marching band and concert band to create a competitive Performing Arts Program for our school system," Waller said.

Toombs County Schools will also begin the process of implementation of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) classes to be taught during connections at Toombs County Middle School.

TCMS Principal, Dr. Renee Garbutt shared, “We are very excited to be able to expand our curriculum at TCMS and provide this valuable opportunity to our students. These foundational STEM courses will provide a basis for future coursework and careers in life."

The classes will vary by grade level and cover material from Engineering, Innovation, and Technology fields while teaching students to problem solve. These classes are introductory courses that can lead into various pathways at Toombs County High such as  Engineering Pathway, Construction, Ag Mechanics, the Arts and the new Energy Pathway being taught at SECCA (Southeastern Early College and Career Academy).

System STEM Coordinator, Attallaka Harris-Williams states, “STEM is important because it pervades every part of our lives…Most jobs of the future will require a basic understanding of STEM principles and giving students opportunities to explore STEM and its related concepts, will help them to hopefully develop a passion for learning and possibly pursue a job in a STEM related field."

Toombs County High is also bringing back Construction as a course elective and pathway for its students. TCHS Principal Marissa Morris states, “We are excited to be adding to our CTAE pathways at TCHS. The Construction pathway will provide hands-on learning opportunities that provide a foundation in building a skill necessary to compete not only in the workforce but in life."

Waller concludes, “Our school system is committed to providing opportunities for all of our students. Starting and sustaining these and other new programs long term is vital to the success of our district. We have great things going on in all of our schools and I want to commend our board, administrators, teachers, staff and students for all of the hard work it takes to makes us shine."

July 16--  Local and regional officials are gearing up to make the 2020 census as accurate as possible.

The census figures are important in determining our area's political representation in Atlanta and Washington and, according to Toombs County Manager John Jones, the population is directly related to how much federal and state funding is available to local governments.

"The census estimates for the state of Georgia that each person counts for $1,339 in federal funding that would come into the state.  The more people we have here locally, that increases our funding we get from the federal and state levels because a lot of the grants we get from them are based on population numbers." Jones said.

Local officials have been working since last year to get a complete data base of addresses which have been furnished to the Census Bureau.  Jones reports much of the census will be done online in the first quarter of 2020 with followup visits made to addresses which don't participate online.

He believes the county will reach the 30,000 goal as of April 1, 2020, "According to the U.S. Census, they estimate as of July 1 we're at 26,887 people.  The 2010 census had us at 27,223 and that's a one percent drop they're estimating we experienced since 2010. That's going to impact us as far as industry and for any kind of national marketing look at us.  We're confident and our goal is to try to get to 30,000.  We think we have 30,000 people in Toombs County and our goal is to try to reach that 30,000 mark."

Jones says the county is working with the Toombs-Montgomery Chamber of Commerce to form a "Complete Count Committee" to get assistance for a full and accurate accounting of people living in Toombs County.

By Senator Jack Hill, Reidsville


June marks the end of the state's 12 month fiscal year. June's report showed a gain of 7.4%, an increase of $146.04 million for the month. After a topsy turvy year of up and down revenue reports, June's report pushed the total revenue increase to over one billion dollars on total revenues of $22.7 billion.


Individual Income Taxes in June were very good at 10.2% increase showing refunds down $71.9 million while estimated payments increased $10.3 million and Individual Non- Resident payments increased $24.6 million. Withholding payments decreased $23 million. Corporate Taxes continued an excellent year increasing $43.1 million in June.


Net Sales taxes wound up an excellent year with a 4.0% increase totaling $20.4 million. Title Ad Valorem Taxes showed -$10.8 million while Title Tag and Fees were negative -$4.1 million. Tobacco Taxes were down $-9.1 while alcoholic beverages were positive 5.3%.


The fuel elements increased $4.2 million with impact fees slightly negative.


In the old time radio show, the announcer would ask threatening questions and query, "Who Knows?" and answer the rhetorical question, "The Shadow Knows!" Well, if there is any expert who can explain completely the last 12 months of Georgia's revenue record and provide an analysis that makes sense, I will certainly tip my hat to him.

Georgia's revenues have run the gamut the past 12 months. We saw three months come in negative. We had one tremendously negative month and then in April had a blockbuster month that wiped away all our cares...


The numbers for FY 2019 are excellent:

            Total Revenues                       $23.7 Billion

            Percentage Increase                4.8%

            Net Increase                            $1.086 Billion


This category is probably the one category that causes some concern. The increase of 4.6% is a positive increase but does not demonstrate vibrant growth. Of course, given the fact that state withholding rates now reflect a reduction in the state income tax rate, maybe that increase should be celebrated.


FY 2019 will be remembered for some excellent category increases. Here are some of those:

            Corporate Income Returns                 26.6%  Increase $266.9 Million

            Net Sales Taxes                                  5.3%   Increase $313.7 Million

            Alcoholic Beverages                          1.6%   Increase $3.0 Million


Title Ad Valorem Taxes                     -5.6%  Decrease -$51.2 Million

            Tag, Title and Fees                             -2.6%  Decrease -$10.4 Million

            Tobacco Taxes                                    -0.7%  Decrease -$1.5 Million


            Total Revenues           $2.033 Billion

            Increase                       $42.7 Million


So, in this time of a booming economy, low unemployment, solid job growth and growing income, you would expect state revenues to grow satisfactorily and that appears to be precisely where we are.           

Yes, revenue reports are boring and probably you, my faithful reader, roll your eyes when I publish this information. But when you read of another state having financial difficulties or failing to make budget or failing to pass a budget, you can be thankful to live in Georgia and for the smooth process we have had in serving citizens through the state budget.

But the budget depends on tax collections and it is the state's responsibility to collect and report to you. So, it's important, I think, to share this information with you, even if it is just a "thumbs up or thumbs down "takeaway for you.

The FY 2020 budget (H.B. 31) may be found at As always, I welcome any questions you may have.

I may be reached at

234 State Capitol, Atlanta , GA 30334

(404) 656-5038 (phone)

(404) 657-7094 (fax)

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

Or Call Toll-Free at

1-800-367-3334 Day or Night

Reidsville office: (912) 557-3811

July 12-- On Saturday, July 13th, the Soperton-Treutlen Chamber of Commerce is hosting its 2nd Annual July Jam Free Music Festival and since 2019 marks the 100th anniversary of Treutlen County, the County Commissioners added a Centennial Celebration to the event to honor the occasion.

truetlenmuralTo To build excitement and involve the community, the Commissioners asked Treutlen County native, Alison Beck Cox, to help plan the event and design a logo and mural.

After more than 100 hours of work, which included preserving the character of the original brick wall, the mural was completed on Thursday, July 11th, and the Chamber and Board of Commissioners hosted a ribbon-cutting to showcase the new artwork.

The mural is located on a 2,500 square foot wall facing the Treutlen County Courthouse where a new parking lot for the courthouse was recently constructed.

It is a replica of the County's Centennial logo that celebrates Treutlen County becoming an official county in 1919, and includes images that represent Treutlen County's past and present.

The County Courthouse fills the top left quadrant of the middle 0 of the "100" design, and pine trees tops fill the right. On the bottom, Viking Nation is represented with the county's school mascot, and a farm scene reminds the locals and travelers passing through of the impact that agriculture has always had on Treutlen County.

About the July Jam and Centennial Celebration:

Saturday, July 13, 2019

10:00 am until dark - Huge Firework Finale!

• Vendors, Bouncy Houses, Food, Car Show, Sidewalk Chalk, Hopscotch

Live Music ALL Day; Evening Lineup:

5:00 - American Lesion

6:00 - Indulgence

7:00 - Pete Salazar

8:00 - Lance Stinson

Old-Fashioned Centennial Games for all ages begin at 3:00 (right near the stage so you won't miss the music!):

3:00 - Sack Race

3:30 - Wagon Wheel Relay

4:00 Watermelon Seed Spitting Contest

5:00 - Greased Pole Climb ($100 Cash Prize at top of pole)

6:00 - Greased Pig Chase

7:00 - Awards and Photos

Old-Fahioned Corn Cob Doll Contest - judged by public all day - Cash prize for Overall Crowd Favorite

treutlenmuralworkingAlison Cox graduated from Treutlen County High School in 1997 and went on to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2001.

She has always worked in fields related to the arts, being a graphic designer for over 15 years, and owning her own Photography and Art company for the last 11 years, AlieCat Photos and Art.

She lives in Soperton and is Editor of The Soperton News and will start an Art Program as a teacher at Treutlen Middle/High School this school year. 

July 12-- Twelfth District Congressman Rick Allen issued the following statement after House passage of H.R. 2500, the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act.

“For decades, the National Defense Authorization Act has been a widely bipartisan measure, ensuring our troops are fully funded and supported on an annual basis. However, in their first year back in power in the House of Representatives, House Democrats have upended this tradition, including damaging, partisan provisions that many Republicans could not support and President Trump would never sign into law,” said Congressman Allen.

“While this legislation does include the full authorization amount for the next military construction project at Fort Gordon, which I proudly support and have championed, too many poison pills were included for me to vote in favor of final passage.

I am hopeful that the House and Senate can work together with the Trump Administration to craft a final bill that robustly supports our troops who so selflessly serve and protect our great nation.”

The following are partisan provisions included in H.R. 2500:

  • Does not fully fund our military at the President’s requested levels
  • Blocks funding for construction of a border wall
  • Does not include key initiatives that are critical to deter our adversaries, such as the plutonium pit production mission that could come to the Savannah River Site
  • Includes over $1.2 billion in military personnel funding cuts

July 11--  Parts of thirteen streets in Vidalia will be resurfaced and re-striped this Fall.

According to City Manager Nick Overstreet, the city will use more than $500,000 from the state plus a ten percent local share for the work on Commerce Loop, Ardella Court, Moses Drive, Mitchell Drive, Meadows Lane, Lightfoot Court, Manor Drive, North Maple Drive, Morris Street, North Pine Street, Manning Drive, Aimwell Road and West Third Street.  A request for bids is expected to go out in August and will include a requirement for thermoplastic striping instead of paint for longer wear.

The City also has plans next year to upgrade eight railroad crossings at an estimated cost of $157,500.00.

At it's July meeting Monday night, the council approved $100,149.20 in capital spending for a new pickup truck, an utility vehicle, a mosquito fogging system, two grass mowers, purchase and modification of two used vans for use by inmate details, an automatic gate at the Brinson Road Convenience Center and security fencing.

In other actions, the council:

* Appointed Robert Toole to the City Recreation Board to succeed Russ Bell.  The council is also considering a proposal allowing county residents to serve on the Recreation Board if they own or operate a business in the city.

* Agreed to make $2,800 worth of improvements to the city animal shelter following a state inspection.

* Okayed the use of  "The Stage at City Park" by private promoters and others to generate revenue for the city.

* Approved $26,055 to fund removal of ten dilapidated houses from city neighborhoods.

Mayor Ronnie Dixon reported the city is investigating a return to the area drug task force following a June raid in Vidalia by federal, state and county officials. The strike excluded the Vidalia Police Department because it has not been a member of the drug task force since 2006.  At the time, the council voted to approve a recommendation of former Chief Frank Waits to pull out and use the money to fund drug investigations conducted by Vidalia officers.

Former city councilman Kay Stafford defended Chief Waits and noted Vidalia police arrested ten people the end of January and confiscated weapons, cash, drugs and cellphones in what Chief Waits called "a criminal enterprise."

Stafford has been a staunch supporter of Chief Waits since he was told to retire or be fired by the city in April and Stafford again voiced his concerns during the public participation portion of the city council meeting.

July 12-- The Vidalia Police Department reports the following arrests.

Haynes, Lashonda Renia- B/F- 40 YOA- 406 Symonds St.- Vidalia, Ga.- Warrant Served

Kirby, Marcus Tyler- W/M-25 YOA-706 Loop Rd.- Vidalia, Ga.- Warrant Served

Hampton, Frank Lee- B/M- 35 YOA- 706 Ward St. Vildia , Ga. -Loitering and Prowling/ Possession of Marijuana less than 1 oz.- Burglary 2nd Degree

Singelton, Leroy- B/M- 26/ YOA- 707 Thompson St- Vidalia, Ga- Disorderly Conduct

Aguilar, Marcos Antonio- W/M-19 YOA- 115 Sam Beasley R.- Lyons, Ga-Suspended License/ Possesion of Marijuana- less than 1 oz/ Warrant Served

Dowd,Shirley E-W/F-60 YOA-1705 Cadillac Dr,Vidalia- Battery FV

Williams,Deremmus Dashod-B/M-28 YOA 700 Second Ave,Vidalia-Shoplifting/Warrant Service

Davis,Chris Mitchell-W/M-45 YOA-306 AW Brazell St, Reidsville-Criminal Trespass

Tompkins,Latasha Nicole-B/F-33 YOA-756 Allen Drive Vidalia Ga-Driving While License Suspended (Second)

Asberry, Daniel Terrence- B/M-31 YOA- 807 5TH Av. Vidalia, Ga- Simple Battery

Rollins, Kayla Marshaye- W/F-24 YOA-180 South State St. Lyons, Ga- Disorderly Conduct

Edmondson, Heather Nicole- W/F- 41 YOA- 1997 River Ridge Rd. Reidsville, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense

Mikel, Michael A. - B/M- 29 YOA- 709 Martin Luther King Blvd. Vidalia, GA- Possession of Marijuana (Probation Warrant)

Shealy, Dana- W/F- 34 YOA- 1256 Chelsey Rd. Baxley, GA Warrant Service (Treutlen Co SO- Probation)

Cason, Leon- B/M- 50 YOA- 307 Thompson St. Vidalia, Ga- Cruelty to Animals

Corouthers, Justin Allen- B/M- 24 YOA- 907 Scott Dr. Vidalia, Ga- Loitering and Prowling

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Alicia Arredondo, Lyons, Hands Free Law, no insurance

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

Ronald Harrell, Sr., Lyons, DUI, open container, seat belt, disorderly conduct, obstruction of law enforcement officer,  traffic violations, tire and headlight requirements

Kyle Walker, East Dublin, no insurance, warrant served

Yesenia Rodriguez, Vidalia, driving unlicensed

Craig Ely, Vidalia, DUI, possession of marijuana, drug related objects and controlled substance not in original container; open container, headlights

Thomas Smith, Vidalia, DUI, possession of drug related objects, no horn, headlights, tail lights, no insurance

Timmithe Morrison, Uvalda, DUI, failure to maintain lane, warrant served

Ricardo McCampbell, Lyons, cruelty to animals

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Franky Banderas, Lyons, battery, criminal damage to property

Tasha Barwick, Lyons, family violence, criminal damage to property

Lee Beck, Dublin, probation violation

Porshia Braddy, Wahiana, Hawaii, speeding, license suspended/revoked

Larry Cauley, Lyons, bench warrant

Damon Edge, Lyons, drug related objects, license suspended/revoked

Jason Garrett, Dublin, probation violation

Fernando Gonzalez, Lyons, DUI, possession of marijuana, no vehicle registration or license plate

Kelly Grantham, Lyons, probation violation, license expired

Tina Griffin, Lyons, cruelty to animals

Allen Herrington, Lyons, battery

John Jackson, Ailey, theft by taking

Kelsi Oliver, Lyons, auto theft

Ronald Phillips, Lyons, DUI, traffic violations

Danielle Thompson, Lyons, failure to appear

Marcus Trull, possession of marijuana, seat belts

Nechema Walker, Alto, probation violation

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

07/01-Zackery William Phillips, Uvalda, Felony Probation Violation

07/01-Kiera Rishon Wilbur, Mt Vernon, Driving w/Suspended License

07/02-Brandy Palmer Tanner, Vidalia, Treutlen County Contempt of Court Order Served

07/06-Jerry Lamar Miller, Vidalia, DUI, Driving w/Suspended License

07/07-Dontavious Marquese Leggett, Duncan, SC, Speeding, Driving w/Suspended License

July 11--  If you have friends or family in Louisiana, Mississippi or Arkansas, be aware of what's coming their way.

According to AccuWeather, hurricane watches have been issued, a state of emergency has been declared in Louisiana and mandatory evacuations have been ordered in some places as Tropical Storm Barry formed over the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday morning.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) declared Barry the second named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season with maximum sustained winds 40 mph and moving west at 5 mph.

Barry is forecast to make landfall along the Louisiana coast Friday night or Saturday.

"There is a fairly high chance that Tropical Storm Barry will become a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale before making landfall," according to AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski. If so, Barry will become the first hurricane of the 2019 Atlantic season.

Warmth Erased - Late Week

Barry's flooding rainfall to have much more impact than a typical Category 1 hurricane

In terms of impact, AccuWeather is initially designating this a level 2 storm on its RealImpact™ Scale for Hurricanes. The scale ranges from a 0 to a 5 with 5 having the most severe impact.

"Our greatest concern is for torrential rain that would result in life-threatening flooding," Kottlowski said.

"Heavy, flooding rainfall is expected over a large area especially over much of eastern Louisiana into parts of southern and central Mississippi and parts of southeastern Arkansas."

Rainfall totals will average 10-18 inches with an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 24 inches.

Storm surge severity to depend on track, strength of Barry

How strong the storm becomes and the exact track the storm takes may be critical for both flooding rainfall and storm surge flooding, especially in the city of New Orleans.

Some rise in water is likely along much of the upper Gulf Coast, especially along the central and northeastern Gulf Coast.

"AccuWeather meteorologists expect a maximum storm surge of 3-6 feet mostly along and just to the right of the storm's path," Kottlowski said.

July 11--  Coach Tommy Dalley says one of his goals in life was to become a high school athletic director and he's happy that it happened at Vidalia High School.

rotarydalleyRotary President Steve McComas (Left) with Coach Dalley.

The new VHS Athletic Director addressed the Vidalia Rotary Club Wednesday and said his new role is to support the coaches who lead the high school's athletic programs.  He wants to continue the school's winning tradition, but emphasized the most important thing coaches do is build character and instill positive values in young people.

Coach Dalley is proud of the athletic facilities at Vidalia High School and has identified two needs.  He says the school needs a resurfaced track and an eight-lane track allowing the school to host state track meets. He's also concerned about the future of the high school golf program because golf teams have nowhere to practice since both of Vidalia's golf courses closed in the past three years.

The new Athletic Director has instilled a winning boys basketball tradition at Vidalia High School since his arrival in 2008.  Dalley's teams have had two state championship appearances and three other visits to the Final Four.  The Indians won four consecutive region titles starting in 2012.  Coach Dalley's record at VHS is 255-65.

Previously Coach Dalley coached the Lady Barons at Brewton-Parker College four years and was the boys coach at Appling County for five years.

He and his wife, Wendy, have one son, Ty, who is a sophomore at Vidalia High School this year.

The Vidalia Rotary Club meets Wednesdays at noon at the Meadows Wellness Center.

July 10--  For the second time in his high school career, Vidalia High School senior Luke Stinnett has been selected to sing with the All-National Honor Ensemble Mixed Choir by the National Association of Music Education.

lukestinnetLuke will join students from all 50 states in a concert this Fall in Orlando, "It's a distinct honor to be representing Vidalia.  It may not mean much to anybody else, but it's a pretty big deal.  It's a big community and you get to go and meet other people and find out what other interests besides music that you have."

He credits Vidalia High School music director John Morgan with inspiring him to reach his potential as a bass singer, "You know some days I was just done and I wanted the day to be over with.  Mr. Morgan's class was the second to last class of the day and I just had fun in his class.  It's just absolutely great to have Mr. Morgan as a teacher and to me personally as a friend," Luke said.

John Morgan, meanwhile, is proud of his All-State Chorus member, "Luke is one of the finest young men we've ever had in our choir program.  I"m so glad he stepped up to the plate and decided to lend his talent to the Vidalia High School choral program. I'm so glad our school system recognizes the diversity of our school population.  Without these fine arts programs, it would be impossible for some of these kids to find a good motivation to come to school, plus they find a social group they can be part of and become a team member."

Michelle Stinnett, Luke's mom, thanked the school system for investing in a diverse curriculum, "I think a community without any kind of art education is a sad thought.  It's an outlet for these kids and you just don't know who's going to walk through your door in an art class, a theater class, a choir class or in a metal shop class, you don't know who you're going to get and what you're going to unlock."

The Vidalia school board recognized and congratulated Luke at its July board meeting Tuesday.

The board also heard a request from Toombs County Family Connection to help it fund an after-school program for at-risk kids when the program is scheduled to resume in September.  A decision is expected in the next few weeks.  The Toombs County school board has already pledged to spend up to $75,000.

tillerybg2July 9--  The Boys and Girls Club of Toombs County celebrated National Summer Learning Week Tuesday by giving a local group of supporters a tour of the Club on Third Street in Vidalia and by making State Senator Blake Tillery of Vidalia an honorary member.

The Executive Director of the Georgia Alliance of Boys and Girls Club, Kellie Brownlow of Atlanta, was also on hand, "What we focus on at Boys and Girls Clubs is academic achievement.  We want our kids to graduate from high school.  We want our kids to be prepared for post-secondary success whatever that may be, military, college, community college or straight into a career.  We have to give them the life skills to do that and we serve all youth, especially the ones who need us most.  Unfortunately, the number of kids who need us most is growing in Georgia and across the country."

Senator Tillery volunteered at the club when he was growing up and knows first-hand what it's doing, "This club provides a refuge where we can keep students on the straight and narrow to make sure our community is in a position to continue to grow.  It was so encouraging to see the seven students who led us around today, ages from nine to 14, who were so excited about this club.  Also, the folks who took their time today, the business leaders, to come out here and visit so the students could see people in the community who are successful and, hopefully, have some direction themselves in the future." 

The Georgia Alliance Director was impressed with community support of the local club and how the club is also supporting the community with its summer feeding program, "When you have this support from the community, in addition to the funding, you have this kitchen here and the Boys and Girls Club is serving the rest of the community.  It's all about partnerships.  You can't survive without sincere community support, the community has to own it, and what I saw today, the community owns it at every level."

The club has a membership of more than 250 members in Vidalia and Lyons and is inviting the public to its big fundraising event in August.  An adult prom with an 80's theme is being held at the Vidalia Community Center Saturday, August 17.  Tickets are available at the Altamaha, Ameris, Mount Vernon and Peoples Banks in Vidalia or at the club at 800 Third Street.

July 9--  Mitchell Fagler has been named Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness for Southeastern Technical College (STC).

faglerstcIn Fagler’s more than 18 year career with the college, he has served STC, and formerly Swainsboro Technical College, as Director of Financial Aid, Acting Vice President for Student Affairs, Executive Director of Student Affairs/Financial Aid, and Director of Admissions.

“I am excited about the opportunity to take on new responsibility with Southeastern Technical College,” Fagler said. “Southeastern Tech is key to economic growth and prosperity of our area and I look forward to playing a role in the college’s continued success.”

Responsibilities of this role include Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges accreditation, strategic planning, information technology, safety and security of the college, and director of the Swainsboro Campus.

Fagler will be visiting and holding meetings with stakeholders around the college’s service area in the coming weeks as he begins his new role.

Fagler is a 1987 graduate of Swainsboro High School, a 1989 graduate of East Georgia State College, earned a BA in Journalism from the University of Georgia in 1991, and holds a MBA in Management from Georgia Southern University, earned in 1993. He is also a graduate of the Georgia Academy of Economic Development Regional Economic & Leadership Development program and the Technical College System of Georgia Executive Leadership Academy.

Fagler has twice served on the Board of Directors of the Swainsboro/Emanuel County Chamber of Commerce and is a past Chairman. He also served two terms on the Emanuel County Hospital Authority, including a term as Chairman. He is a past member of The Sunshine House Children’s Advocacy Center Board of Directors. He is a member and Past President of the Swainsboro Rotary Club and served on the Downtown Swainsboro Revitalization Committee. Fagler also manages the annual Don E. Braswell Jr. Memorial Scholarship endowment, presented to Swainsboro High School seniors.

For the Technical College System of Georgia, Fagler has served on many committees including the Risk Assessment Team, Quarter-to-Semester Conversion, BANNER Merger, Financial Aid Peer Risk Reviews for ten colleges, and Year-round PELL Study.

Fagler and his wife Stephanie are the proud parents of two boys, Luke and Jacob. They are members of the First United Methodist Church of Swainsboro where Mitchell serves as Chairman of the Finance Committee. They reside in Swainsboro.

July 9--  It's been a year since former Georgia Senator Tommie Williams of Lyons joined the Trump administration representing the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Rome as the U.S. Minister Counselor to the United Nations.

tommiewilliamsitaly"We deal with food security and feeding the hungry in the world through World Food Program.  I'm working on agricultural policy and how to help countries become food secure and feed 800 million people who don't have enough to eat everyday," Williams told us from his home in Rome.  "Most of those 800 million are in countries with conflict and just being able to get food to them is dangerous.  I haven't done a lot of travel to those places, but I'm probably going to do some in the upcoming year.  It's very interesting work and it's benevolent work teaching people how to feed themselves."

"Primarily the problems we're having are in Africa.  There are some undernourished people in Central and South America, but countries in Africa have lots of conflict and people just can't get beyond that to be able to feed themselves," he said.

During the first year of his appointment by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Williams visited China, where he lived 30 years ago, and was impressed with its farming techniques which have made it self sufficient in feeding it's people and now an exporter of food.  The same is true of India, he notes. 

He's excited about school feeding programs in countries like Guatemala where he visited and noted how it can help not only with better health and education for children, but can also create conditions to curb migration, "You know people sometime complain about how much we give, but they also complain about immigration.  If you can keep people secure in their homes and have their kids educated and be able to create the revenue of the local community through farming, they are more likely to stay and less likely to try and cross the border."

Just as he learned dealing with legislators while in the Georgia Senate, Williams says the key to getting things done is building relationships, "As in all walks of life, it's building relationships.  This past Sunday I went to church with a Nigerian ambassador who is one of the wisest people I've met in my life.  He and I have become friends and when we're dealing with problems related to Africa, I'm able to go to him.  The same is true about the ambassador from Zimbabwe.  He's a very conservative, Christian man I'm able to talk with about positions the African Union has taken.  It's all about building friendships and we're able to work together on things because we've built relationships."

July 8-- U.S. Congressman Rick W. Allen (R-GA-12) announced that the Military Academy Nomination Application for 2019 is available to prospective students online at his website

“One of my greatest privileges as your representative is to nominate young people to our United States Military Service Academies. The Military Academy Nomination Application for 2019 is now live on my website! If you – or anyone you know- may be interested in applying to one of our nation’s Service Academies, I encourage you to look on my website for more information and complete the Military Academy Nomination packet,” said Congressman Allen. “Because there is a great deal of information required by the Service Academies for a nomination, this is not a process to be taken lightly-- and I encourage you to begin as soon as possible. I look forward to reviewing this year’s qualified applicant packets and nominating the best and the brightest to our U.S. Military Service Academies.”

The Military Academy Nomination packet must be received by Congressman Allen’s office by 5:00pm on October 11, 2019 to be considered. For questions or more information about the nominations process, students can contact Congressman Allen’s Service Academy Coordinator, Paul Lynch, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

July 8--  The Georgia Department of Education has selected the Treutlen County school system to receive its Pupil Transportation Safety Award.

treutlenbusThe Treutlen school system is one of 16 systems in the state named by a panel of judges based on issues impacting school bus safety.

School Superintendent Dr. Bradley Anderson says, "It really comes from the hard work of our drivers and our Transportation Director Miss Alice Heath who does a meticulous job making sure our records are correct and making sure our folks go above and beyond in terms of the safety requirements of the Georgia Department of Education to make sure our students have safe travel."

"This award looked at our safety record and our maintenance records that we have to keep on each bus," he said, and noted the system recognizes the need to attract and retain good bus drivers, "We have re-examined our bus driver salary scales and have been able to give incremental increases based on years of service.  We believe good pay is one of the things, but we make sure we've got a good fit and find the right person to be a bus driver and sometimes that can be a challenge. Alice Heath has done a fabulous job of making those matches come together."

"This award certifies and assures parents that we do have a safe mode of transportation and do our very best and take pride in that safety everyday," the superintendent said.

July 6-- Early Childhood Care and Education students from the Vidalia campus of Southeastern Technical College (STC) volunteered to assist at Little Folks Farm and Childcare facility.

Southeastern Tech students were honored to volunteer as the First Lady of Georgia Marty Kemp and Bright From The Start Commissioner Amy Jacobs were in attendance to promote agriculture.

stcvolsSTC students (L-R) Chavarie Bryant, Raelyn Davis and Haley James assisted in the classrooms, as well as with individual projects the children in the center were conducting.

Little Folks Farm and Childcare is a quality rated center from Bright From the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning. The mission of Little Folks Farm and Childcare is to give children an outdoor classroom so they have the opportunity to use the natural world as an integral part of their learning and teach them the importance of good health and physical well-being.

“We are always excited to help our community providers when needed,” stated Mindy Sumner, Early Childhood Care and Education Instructor at Southeastern Tech.

July 6-- Southeastern Technical College (STC) announces the retirement of Registrar Karen Vereen. Vereen’s decision to retire was effective June 27, 2019.

vereenVereen served STC for 20 years, first as administrative secretary where she maintained budgets and kept up with advisory board meetings and minutes, to director of admissions and registrar when the college was Swainsboro Technical College, and most recently registrar for STC.

Vereen worked in the registrar’s office for fifteen years and said she’s always enjoyed her job. “It’s about bringing in students, getting them enrolled, and ultimately seeing them walk across the stage at graduation. Though my role wasn’t teaching, it was advising and encouraging students. It’s wonderful to see them out in the world and know the difference we’ve made,” said Vereen.

During her career, Vereen has worked alongside five college presidents and said there have been many changes. “In this time, we’ve become a college and now offer degree programs and implemented the semester conversion, to name a few,” said Vereen.

Vereen was responsible for maintaining safe keeping of student records and ensuring that the procedures of the registrar's office were strictly followed. She also compiled quarterly lists of students on the President’s List and planned and implemented graduation and certificate ceremonies. Vereen updated course catalogs and student schedules.

President Larry Calhoun about Vereen, “Karen was always on top of everything. I never worried about anything with the registrar’s office because I knew it would be just right. She’s made our whole system a lot better.”

Vereen’s retirement plans are to spend as much time as possible with her two grandchildren and to favor her lawn and flowers.

July 6--  The Ailey woman facing animal cruelty charges in Montgomery and Candler Counties has been indicted by a Candler County grand jury.

angelapowellmcshoFifty-one-year old Angela Powell was indicted on one count of aggravated cruelty to animals for causing the death of a dog and 31 counts of animal cruelty for failing to provide adequate food and sanitary conditions at her German Shepherd breeding facility in Candler County.  Last January the Candler County Sheriff rescued more than 160 dogs from the property and 91 other dogs were discovered living in filth at her kennel in Higgston.

She is also facing charges in Montgomery County but has yet to be indicted.

Last month Powell's attorneys notified local and state officials they are seeking $3 million in damages for alleged "harassment and unfair treatment" of their client.

July 6--  The body of a 27-year-old Baxley man was found in the Altamaha River Friday afternoon.

According to the Toombs County Sheriff's Office, the Toombs County 911 Dispatch Center got a call from a fisherman who saw the body in the river near Morris Landing in Appling County.

Officers responded to the scene and recovered the body later identified as Eric Harvey who had been seen camping alone on a sandbar about 9:30 p.m. Thursday, July 4.

Authorities say the death is being treated as an accident at this time, however, Harvey's body is  being sent to the GBI Crime Lab for an autopsy.

A joint investigation is being conducted and anyone with information is asked to call the Toombs County Sheriff's Office, 912-526-6778, or the Appling County Sheriff's Office, 912-367-8120.

July 5--  The Vidalia Police Department reports the following arrests.

Griffin, Tina Marie- W/F- 46 YOA- 301 E. Sixth St. Vidalia, GA- Cruelty to Animals (State Warrant)

Smith, Milton E.- B/M- 55 YOA- 717 Winona St.- Vidalia, GA / Simple Battery, Cruelty to Children

Jackson, Ricky Deneil Jr. - B/M- 24YOA- 301 Jane Dr. VidaliaGA- Theft by Shoplifting /Warrant Served (Toombs County SO- Bench)

McCullough Steve Blake- W/M- 21 YOA- 5596 Knotxmill Road Soperton, GA- DUI- 1st Offense

Kelly, Dennis- B/M- 55 YOA- 713 Stuart St. Vidalia, Ga- Warrant Served (GDC Parole Warrant)

Baker, Wilbert Jeremiah- B/M- 55YOA- 510 W. Toombs St. Vidalia, Ga- Possession of Firearms by Convicted Felon

Johnson, Vermaris Devonty- B/M- 41 YOA- 1208 Easter Dr. Apt. 11 Vidalia, Ga- Speeding, Possession of Firearms by Convicted Felon

Conrad, Bryan Aaron- W/M- 26 YOA- 204 W. Fourth St. Vidalia, GA- Battery (FVA)

Knight,Danny Lee Jr.-B/M-33 YOA-610 Mosley, Str. Vidalia Ga-(Warrant Service)

Powell,Rhianna Chantae-B/F 24 YOA-809 East Fifth Str. – Simple Battery (FV)

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Danielle Croman, Glennville, expired tag, driving while license suspended/evoked

Evelyn Harrell, Lyons, warrant served

Dewayne Hall, Hazlehurst, no tag or insurance, following too closely

Andre Govan, Lyons, DUI, possession of methamphetamine and marijuana, open container, vehicle registration suspended, license suspended/revoked

Bobby Rewis, Lyons, family violence battery

Tasha Herrick, Lyons, possession of methamphetamine and drug related objects, DUI, failure to maintain lane

Eugene Spears, Lyons, DUI, traffic viiolations

April Carroll, Lyons, criminal warrant

Christopher Foskey, Lyons, warrant served

Jason Hattaway, Vidalia, warrant served

Beth Padgett, Metter, DUI, laying drag

Rafael Duran-Nopal, Reidsville, hands free law, driving unlicensed

Yesenia Rodriguez, Vidalia, driving unlicensed

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Jasmine Gonzalez, Vidalia, driving unlicensed, safety belts child passenger

Brandon Green,  Vidalia, purchase, possession, manufacture, distribution, sale of methamphetamine

Joel Jackson, Uvalda, theft by taking, criminal trespass

Jessica Simpkins, Vidalia, fraud in obtaining public assistance

Tykeavius Walker, Vidalia, criminal damage to property

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

06/25-Jerry Wayne Jacobs-Uvalda, Bench Warrant Served

06/27-Atron Dewayne Walden, Daisy, Felony Probation Violation

06/28-Matthew Chase Mixon, Vidalia, Aggravated Stalking

06/28-Joshua Lewis Foskey, Uvalda, Theft by Taking

july42019July 5--  The Sweet Onion City celebrated America's Independence Day Thursday night at City Park in downtown Vidalia with a spectacular fireworks show following a concert by "The Swinging Medallions."


July 3-- Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said Wednesday that the Heart of Georgia region added employed residents and increased its labor force in May.

Preliminary results showed the 17-county area also saw its number of unemployment claims fall in May as compared to April. 

“In May, we saw much needed growth in our labor force in many local areas,” Butler said. “We also saw more Georgians become employed. Overall, we head into the summer with a good jobs report.”

The unemployment rate rose in May. The rate rose 0.5 percentage points in May, settling at 4.6 percent. A year ago, the rate was 4.4 percent.

Nationally, the rate stayed constant at 3.6 percent. Georgia’s rate maintained at 3.8 percent. 

The labor force rose in May by 767. The May total was 117,542. That number is down by 167 from the total from May 2018. 

The Heart of Georgia region ended May with 112,083 employed residents.  The number increased by 113 in May and fell by 474 as compared to last May.

The number of unemployment claims dropped in May by 31 percent. When compared to last May, claims were down by 8 percent.

The Heart of Georgia region includes Appling, Bleckley, Candler, Dodge, Emanuel, Evans, Jeff Davis, Johnson, Laurens, Montgomery, Tattnall, Telfair, Toombs, Treutlen, Wayne, Wheeler, and Wilcox counties.

Employ Georgia, the GDOL’s online job listing service at showed 755 active job postings in Heart of Georgia  region for May.

Visit to learn more about career opportunities, Employ Georgia and other GDOL services for job seekers and employers and to connect with us on social media.

July 3-- On Wednesday, June 26, 2019, the GBI’s Douglas Regional Office received a request from the Baxley Police Department to assist with a use of force investigation.

On Sunday, June 16, 2019, Baxley Police Department Lieutenant John Jones responded to a call regarding an assault at a local business.  After responding to the incident location, Lt. Jones took a sixteen year old male into custody.  Lt. Jones transported the juvenile to the Appling County Jail on charges related to the assault.  Once at the jail, the juvenile was noncompliant while Lt. Jones attempted to remove him from the patrol car.  Once the juvenile who was handcuffed in the front was under control, Lt. Jones used unnecessary force when he struck the juvenile several times and then choked him to unconsciousness. 

Based on these facts, Lt. Jones was arrested on July 2, 2019 for the charges of Battery, Cruelty to Children in the First Degree, and Aggravated Assault.

The investigation is active and ongoing.  Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Baxley Police Department at (912) 367-8305 or the GBI Region 4 office at (912) 389-4103.

July 2-- Cotton producers are invited to participate in a “Healthy Soils for Sustainable Cotton” field day, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., July 23, at Sunshine Place Farms, 213 Byne Sunshine Rd., Millen, GA 30442. After an overview of Sunshine Place Farms and its soil health management system, producers will travel to the Southeast Georgia Research and Education Center to tour a long-term soil health management system study.

The activity has been organized by the Soil Health Institute to increase soil health on U.S. cotton farms, as well as help farmers prepare for industry’s increased focus on sustainability as identified in “U.S. Cotton Ten Year Sustainability Goals: Pathways to Progress.”

There is no charge for participation.

The field day will include demonstration and discussion of soil health practices for building drought resilience, enhancing nutrient availability, reducing erosion, and other benefits that can be achieved by improving soil health.   The goal of the field day is to help producers begin designing a soil health management system to meet consumer demand for sustainable cotton. Discussions will be led by Burton Heatwole, Sunshine Place Farms, who is successfully employing soil health practices on his farm, along with local extension and USDA-NRCS specialists and the lead trainer of the Soil Health Institute.

All cotton producers are invited to participate.  Lunch will be provided.

Farmers are asked to register for the event by calling Peyton Sapp, County Extension Coordinator Southeast District, College of

Agriculture & Environmental Sciences, University of Georgia, at 706-554-2119 by 4:30 p.m. July 19.

“Healthy Soils for Sustainable Cotton” is supported through the generosity of the Wrangler® brand, the VF Corporation Foundation, and the Walmart Foundation.

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July 1--  The J.R. Trippe Middle School in Vidalia is one of 48 schools in the state to receive a Department of Education grant to develop a computer coding curriculum.

According to Principal Sandy Reid, the $25,000 grant will get the course started this school term, "We will begin implementing a coding course this year at least for one grade and then hopefully we'll transition into being able to offer computer coding at different grade levels.  The money will be used to purchase the technology to teach the course and for training of our computer instructor, Stephanie Wardlaw, to be able to be prepared to teach the course."

Principal Reid says Mrs. Wardlaw spearheaded the effort to obtain the grant, "She has put in a lot of time and work to make this happen for the kids.  She is also a huge advocate of career development and she recognizes what an open field technology is for these kids as far as career options.  If this of interest to them, the doors are wide open for them to explore this more as they go through high school and college or technical school."

The state grants specifically target middle schools in rural, under served or high poverty areas and Georgia School Superintendent Richard Woods says computer science is an essential academic subjects to prepare students for successful careers.

Other middle schools in the region to receive the grants are in Bulloch and Evans counties.