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August 29--  Vidalia's new police chief says he's received a warm welcome during his first few weeks on the job and told Vidalia Rotarians, "I think it's a great city.  My wife and I are very pleasantly surprised at how hospitable the citizens here are."

rotaryvpdcbhiefRotarian Hal Chesser (left) invited Chief Scott (center) to address the club, Rotary President Steve McComas.

Chief Brian Scott came to Vidalia from the much larger Glynn County Police Department, but says being a police chief in a small town has always been his goal, "This was my ultimate goal and actually it was the ultimate goal to be a police chief in a small community.  So I was basically able to kill two birds with one stone here in Vidalia.  It's definitely been a blessing to be here.  I think God put us in this community, my family and I, and we're definitely thankful for it."

Chief Scott is interviewing each member of the department as part of his orientation, "It's a slow process. I've got 35 employees so it's going to take me a little while to gt to every one of them but the City of Vidalia has a lot of good men and women working at the Vidalia Police Department.  They're working really hard and they're dedicated to the community.  I think we just need to support them," he said.

The new chief is talking with the department's patrol chief, Captain James Jermon, about community relations, "You know just getting the citizens to know the officers through community events, public outreach and getting out into the community by doing community walks and letting the citizens know we're just like them and we all live in the same community together."

He's also reached out to neighboring law enforcement agencies and favors participation in the regional drug task force, "I've met with Sheriff Kight and Chief Walker in Lyons.  They're great guys and I think we're going to have a good working relationship.  I think we need to be a member of the drug task force and as we start getting some of our vacant positions filled, I'll look at allocating resources to some of these specialized divisions."


August 29-- Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said Thursday that the Heart of Georgia region saw a rise in its labor force in July.

 Preliminary results showed the 17-county area also saw its annual number of initial claims decrease in July.

“Georgia continues to perform well in terms of jobs, claims and other data I’m seeing,” said Butler. “Georgia’s strong economy was also clear in our local communities in July, a month that saw several again set records.”

Nationally, the unemployment rate was unchanged in July at 3.7 percent. Georgia’s rate dropped 0.1 percentage points to settle at 3.6 percent.  A year ago, Georgia’s unemployment rate sat at 3.8 percent.

 Rates fell or held steady across nine of Georgia’s 12 planning regions.

In the region, the unemployment rate rose in July by 0.4 percentage points, settling at 5.8 percent. A year ago, the rate was 6.5 percent.

The labor force increased in July by 457. The July total was 116,964. That number is down by 1,709 from the total from July 2018.  

 The Heart of Georgia region ended July with 110,157 employed residents.  The number decreased by 101 in July and fell by 791 as compared to last July.

 The number of unemployment claims rose in July by about 108 percent. When compared to last July, claims were down by 41 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.

August 29--  The Mercy Clinic in Lyons is leading the way nationally in providing health and spiritual care to its patients.

The clinic's Mercy University led by Clint Hutcheson regularly offers "Faith and Finance" classes and the company which provides the curriculum reports he has conducted more classes than any of the other 10,000 ministries it serves in the country.

The Mercy Clinic is a non-profit which helps the unemployed with medical care, but Hutcheson says it's much more, "People aren't numbers.  Everybody has a story, everybody has a life and we're all connected together.  We're able to do what we're doing here in this community because of the community.  As we work together as the body of Christ and give our talents and our resources, this can be one amazing community.  There's no need for anyone to be left out as we work together.  We can solve all of our problems through Christ."

Mercy Clinic is able to take care of a patient for an average cost of $1,000 a year, "None of us are islands.  We all need each other and it's time for us to take back some of the freedoms we've given away.  We can do healthcare here in this county and we're a good example of that happening right here," Hutcheson says.

"We believe this is a great model for everyone to look at.  When a community looks at the resources God has given them and be able to come together, we can definitely make decisions in Toombs County which are better for Toombs County than Washington or anybody can.  The process for us to quit looking out for answers and to start looking at what we have here can revolutionize healthcare and other industries.  It's happening here in such a way that people are recognizing it and saying 'You know, we can do this better.'  That's just the way God intended it to be," Hutcheson added.

The Mercy Clinic is partnered with the Vidalia Rotary Club and other Rotary Clubs in the area to supply needed medicine free of charge to Mercy patients.  Members of the club held one of its meetings at the Clinic for an update.


(L-R) Rotarian Greg Hudgens, Mercy Ministries CEO Carly Benton, Rotary President Steve McComas and Rotarian Tres Herin who spearheaded the Rotary partnership with Mercy Ministries.

August 28--  Georgia's senior Senator in the U.S. Congress today announced his retirement.

senatorisakson"It has been the honor and privilege of a lifetime to serve the state of Georgia in the Georgia State House, Georgia Senate, U.S. House and U.S. Senate. As you know, I have been battling health challenges for several years, and after much prayer and consultation with my family, I have decided I will leave the Senate effective December 31, 2019.

"I am leaving a job I love because my health-challenges are taking their toll on me, my family and my staff. My Parkinson’s has been progressing and I am continuing physical therapy to recover from a fall in July. In addition, this week I had surgery to remove a growth on my kidney.

"In my 40 years in elected office, I have always put my constituents and my state of Georgia first. With the mounting health challenges I am facing, I have concluded that I will not be able to do the job over the long term in the manner the citizens of Georgia deserve. It goes against every fiber of my being to leave in the middle of my senate term, but I know it’s the right thing to do on behalf of my state.

"I thank you for your continued support. Without it, my years of service would not have been possible and because of that I am forever grateful."

By Bobby George

August 28-- Students in the Dual Enrollment United States History class at Vidalia High School participated in a mock debate concerning the Boston Massacre.

bostonmassacreThe students are (front row left to right): Ryan Norfleet, Logan Roose, Jesslyn Phillips, Reagan McDonald, Madison Burton, Campbell Adams

(back row): Clay Morris, Anthony Murphy, Reagan Miller, Jackson Crawley, Jonathan Morris, Yordin Barrios Mendez, Dawson Campbell, Walker McCord, Ethan Wright, Reid Cabe

The Juniors formed groups and researched primary source articles from the 1770's, written by  British officials, American eye witnesses, and the Boston Gazette.

The students planned their debate strategy to defend their group's perspective and to prove that the responsibility of the massacre was on their opponents.

This was a hands-on educational activity to learn how to use primary sources to understand key facts and perspectives, how to work within a group to formulate a valid argument, and how to develop effective discussion and debate skills.

The students enjoyed this debate and plan to conduct more throughout the course as they study the various conflicts in American history.

August 27--  A legendary figure in Georgia high school sports history died Tuesday afternoon after a long illness.

Georgia Sports Hall of Fame basketball coach Chunk Reid was surrounded by his family at Community Hospice in Vidalia.

He retired as Athletic Director at Vidalia High School in April due to his health.

Coach Reid is the all-time winner in Girls high school basketball in the state of Georgia with a record of 881wins and 382 losses. His teams won 11 Region Championships. In 47 years he had only 8 losing seasons. He had 25 seasons with 20 or more wins. His teams played in two Final Fours and finished as state runners-up in 2010. His last 9 seasons of coaching his teams were 208-56. 6 5 18 Chunk and Sissy

At the time of his induction into the Hall of Fame, he said “It's just an honor to be in there with the group you are with. Coach Cravey was inducted three years ago. I think the biggest thing is the appreciation of all of the young female athletes that I had an opportunity to coach."

Coach Sissy Anderson and Coach Reid at his induction ceremony.

Vidalia High School Principal John Sharpe said, "I have a real heavy heart right now.  I hurt for his family, but at the same time, we can celebrate the memory of a tremendous man who had a great impact on many people. We're going to mourn, but as we move on we'll celebrate his legacy and all he has meant to Vidalia High School, the Indian Nation and Vidalia.

"When we think of iconic figures at  Vidalia High School, you think of Buck Cravey and Ralph Parsons and Chunk Reid and a lot of us try to emulate the characteristics and qualities that we saw in them.  I think that Indian legacy will carry on for years to come.

"There are a lot of wonderful things I'm going to miss. One of my highlights was when we would drive to ballgames together and he would tell stories all through our history and he had a story on everybody.  That's one of the things I'll miss and him coming up to have lunch with us at the high school.  Those are the things I'll always cherish."

Current Vidalia AD and Boys Basketball Coach Tommy Dalley added, "The Vidalia Family has lost an iconic figure and we are all deeply saddened by the passing of Coach Reid. He was able to touch so many lives during his time at Vidalia as a teacher, coach, and athletic director. He was such a well respected coach and friend to so many of his peers from around the state. He has had a tremendous impact on everyone that he has come in contact with, but we know he is at peace now and our prayers are with the Reid family."

6 5 18 Chunk Reid Plaque

Coach Reid was 75.

Funeral arrangements will be announced by Ronald V. Hall Funeral home.

August 27--  The Washington-based "Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights" is praising a decision by the Jeff Davis County Board of Elections to re-open a polling place in the county's majority-minority voting precinct.

The group says the Board's reversal is due to a joint grassroots and advocacy campaign which it and other organizations in Georgia orchestrated.

“This is a victory for African American voters across Georgia who are too often subject to a relentless campaign of voter suppression,” said John Powers, Counsel of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.  “This reversal shows the power of resistance and the impact that we can have by leveraging our voices against injustice.  We are pleased that the Board has seen fit to bow both to needs of the electorate and the dictates of the law and reject this poorly conceived polling place consolidation.  The right to vote is the most sacred civil right in our democracy and we stand fully prepared to defend that right.”

In May, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law sent a pre-suit demand letter to the Jeff Davis County Board of Elections and Registrars objecting to the consolidation of the majority-minority Hazlehurst Precinct and urging the Board to reverse its decision immediately.  The demand letter was issued by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law on behalf of the New Georgia Project and the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda.  Following the release of the letter, the New Georgia Project and the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda led a petition drive, signed by numerous Hazlehurst Precinct electors, formally objecting to the consolidation.  The Georgia State Conference of the NAACP organized turnout by affected voters at Jeff Davis County Board meetings and worked with other Georgia organizations to coordinate outreach with local and state election officials.  The local Community League, led by Glen Davis, worked with the Jeff Davis County Board of Commissioners and organized grassroots efforts in Hazlehurst in support of the reversal.

“This decision is a tribute to the minority voters of Jeff Davis County,” said Helen Butler, executive director of the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda.  “They have spoken out loudly against the consolidation, and we applaud the Board of Elections for heeding their call to abandon it.  It makes no sense to risk disenfranchising voters in the 2020 elections.”

“We applaud the Board of Elections for making a decision that makes voting more accessible,” said Phyllis Blake, president of the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP.  “As we approach the 2020 elections, the focus should be on improving access to the ballot for Georgia voters, not on closing polling places and placing unnecessary burdens on voters.”

August 27--  Taxing authorities in Montgomery County are holding the line on property taxes this year.

At a called meeting of the Montgomery County Commissioners, the board approved a property tax millage rate of 14.917 mils, a slight one-tenth of a mil increase.

It also approved the school board's millage rate of 15 mils, the same as last year.

County voters will have two opportunities next year to vote on extending one penny sales taxes to pay for capital expenditures by the county.

The Commission is starting consideration of projects to be funded if voters approve extension of the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.   County Manager Brandon Braddy said one project being discussed is paving nearly two miles of Jones Road off Highway 135 near Uvalda.  He says the county already has right of way on the road.

The Commission is planning to meet with elected officials of the county's municipalities to discuss distribution of revenue if voters okay a five-year extension of the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.  Braddy says the county would use proceeds for buildings and grounds, equipment and vehicles.  He expects a new ambulance would be included and possibly construction of a new EMS station for the county.

He notes the use of sales tax money helps the county avoid increases in property taxes.

Meanwhile, the Commission is considering seeking federal rural development loans and grants to refinance some county equipment and to buy more. 

August 27-- Robert Toombs Christian Academy held its official class ring ceremony for the Class of 2021.

Junior Carleigh Defee welcomed family and friends to the ceremony, Junior Justin Johnson led the Pledge of Allegiance and invocation and Kaitlyn Reaves explained the ring tradition.

Hayne Brant, Administrator at RTCA, presented the rings to the class and a representative from Herff Jones Company gave the official declaration.

rtcaringsgirls19   (L-R) Carolina Mead, Carleigh DeFee, Anna Cuevas-Ortes, Katie McDuffie, Maison Garbutt, Kaitlyn Reaves, Madison Glisson


(L-R) Jadon Robertson, Andrew Mead, Ashton Scott, Ridge Vause, Rob Moore, Justin Johnson, Steven McDonald, Trey Brant

August 26--  Pineland Paper Company in Lyons donated funds generated by its Memorial Golf Tournament to the Mercy Clinic in Lyons.

Mercy Clinic CEO Carly Benton said, "A Big THANK YOU to Pineland Paper Company and all those that made the Guy Branch Memorial Golf Tournament a success on Friday.

mercytourney(L-R) Pineland President Tommy Branch, Carly Benton and Pineland General Manager Judy Waller.

"Together you sponsored five Mercy patients’ care for a whole year with your donation of $5,000. Wow!

We are so grateful for Guy’s legacy of community service and passion for helping others through Pineland’s partnership with The Mercy Ministries.

"Thank you @Tommy Branch and @Judy Waller for continuing this legacy! What a blessing you are to our community!"

August 26-- Jessica Covington, Registered Nurse at the Tommy and Shirley Strickland Cancer Center, received the August DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses.

“We are so proud to have Kasey on the Meadows team,” said Meadows Regional Medical Center Chief Nursing Officer Jeffrey Harden. “Her effort to make her patient’s day in the Cancer Center slightly better by ensuring that she had books warms my heart. While many people would have been too busy with the daily tasks of simply providing care, Kasey slowed down long enough to make a personal connection with her patient and identify a need that in many settings would not have been met. I am so proud of the amazing Cancer Center and the wonderful technology we can offer to the community, however it is the team of people inside like Kasey who truly make it the best place to receive care.”

mrmcdaisyaug19(L-R) Assistant Vice President of Quality and Process Improvement Robert Lummus; Vice President of Physician Enterprise Mid McCain; Cancer Center RN Kasey Rentz; Chief Nursing Officer Jeffrey Harden; Chief Operating Officer James Nixon; Vice President of Revenue Cycle Operations/Information Services Mike Hagan; President & CEO Alan Kent.

Rentz, from Hazlehurst, has been employed with Meadows Regional Medical Center since October, and is one of the chemotherapy nurses at The Tommy and Shirley Strickland Cancer Center.

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

August 27--  Vidalia Police Chief  Brian Scott reports the following arrests.

Knowles, Antonio Devon, B/M, 39 YOA, 1798 Aimwell Blvd, Vidalia, Warrant Served

Tyer, Clifford Wayne- W/M- 50 YOA/ 270 Rock Springs Rd.- Uvalda, GA- Driving While License Suspended Or Revoked

Raburn, Emma Leigh W/F- 19 YOA- 1503 Cadillac Drive Vidalia, GA- Aggravated Assault/Criminal Trespass (FVA)

Hunnewell, Charles Brittin W/M- 28 YOA- 359 Sharpe Spur Rd Ailey, Ga- Theft by Shoplifting 2nd Offense

White, Steven Brian W/M- 41 YOA- 303 Woodhollow Rd. Vidalia, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense

Moore, Talmadge Stacey W/M- 47 YOA- 154 E. Thompson Ave Lyons, GA- Financial Transaction Card Fraud/Financial Transaction Card Theft

Robinson, Richard- B/M- 44 YOA- 204 E. First Street RM 39 Vidalia GA- Theft by Taking

Clark, Clinton Gage- 19 YOA- W/M- 212 Ben Roy McLendon Rd. Lyons, GA- Give False Name, Address, Birthdate to LE, Possession of Marijuana Less Then An Ounce

Murphy, Christopher Dion- B/M- 48 YOA- 204 Savannah Ave. Vidalia, GA- DUI 1st Offense, Driving While License Suspended or Revoked 1st (Bench Warrant)/Operating a
Vehicle While Registration is Suspended, Canceled or Revoked

Altman, Kassey Nicole- W/F- 19 YOA- 678 Beach Rd Baxley, GA- Driving Without License on Person (Bench Warrant)

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Belinda Singleton, Lyons, shoplifting

Daniel Johnson, Soperton, DUI, failure to maintain lane

Brande Lewis, Lyons, DUI, possession of drug related objects, driving without license on person, failure to maintain lane

Clinton Scarboro, Vidalia, criminal trespass, obstructing police, interference with government property, headlights

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Kenneth Clifton, Lyons, criminal trespass, obstructing police, criminal damage to property, forgery

Kent Clifton, Lyons, probation violation, criminal trespass, obstructing police, criminal damage to property

Britany Coleman, Vidalia, no insurance, driving while license suspended/revoked, registration and license of vehicle

Stephanie Dyal, Baxley, simple battery

Daniel Johnson, Soperton, DUI

Almaz Khabirov, Vidalia, simple battery

Anthony Pittman, Uvalda, Burglary

Derek Sanders, Vidalia, probation violation

Lisa Smith, Uvalda, DUI

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports no arrests.

August 26--  Here's who qualified for what office in area municipal elections on November 5.

Mount Vernon

Incumbent Mayor Joey Fountain is facing opposition from Mackey A. Hill.

Four candidates running for three at-large city council seats are incumbents Pete Horton and John Roller and newcomers Nakia Brazell and Elizabeth Williams.  Incumbent Charlie Williams is not running for re-election.

Craig Snead is running unopposed to complete a two-year term for the seat he gave up when he ran unsuccessfully for county magistrate last year.


Four people are running for three at-large seats on the Uvalda City Council.  They are John Carpenter and incumbents Arren Moses, Janice Braddy and Bennie Sammons.

Uvalda voters may also vote November 5 to extend Sunday alcohol sale hours.  Currently the hours are from 12:30 to 6 p.m., however, Ladson's Food Mart would like the hours extended to midnight.  A petition is currently circulating to get the question on the November 5th ballot. 


Higgston's incumbent Mayor Donna Powell is not seeking re-election.  Jesse Ledford and Christopher McLendon have qualified for the office.

Five people have qualified for the five at-large city council seats including Travis Coxwell and Angela Wheeler Wynns Smith and incumbents Shirley McCord, Jerry Powell and Ed Wonn.


There's no need for an election in Ailey because there are no contested races.

Incumbent Mayor James Mitchell Fulmer, Jr. is unopposed.  Erica Harrison is running for the Post 5 seat being vacated by Cress Hardeman and incumbent Mindy Thigpen is unopposed for the Post 6 council seat.


Likewise, there's no city election in Soperton November 5.

Incumbent Mayor Royce Fowler has no opposition.

Ward 2 incumbent Johnny B. Johnson is unopposed and Misty Brantley is running without opposition for the Ward 5 seat being vacated by John Koon.

August 26--  Two Vidalia natives are running in the November 5th city election to succeed Fourth Ward City Council member Lisa Chesser who is not seeking re-election.

Logan Lawrence is a recent UGA graduate who works for a Vidalia law firm. His opponent, Loyd Mobley, is an executive with Building Materials Corporation.

We asked them both why they are running and here's what Logan Lawrence had to say.

loganlawrenceheadshotLogan Lawrence

"Every accomplishment and opportunity in my life can be traced back to this community and an amazing school system.  I went to Vidalia city schools.  They are fantastic and unrivaled in the state, the educators there are and they are so encouraging.  So I owed it to this city to come home and get involved after I graduated from the University of Georgia and my time as an intern at the White House came to a close.

"My late grandfather, Henry Holmes, owned and operated a business here for over 40 years.  One of my earliest childhood memories is sitting on a counter in his store greeting our patrons.  His honesty and love of his community somewhat drives my passion to represent all of our small business owners and to promote local enterprise and have a voice in supporting them.

"My family has lived in the 4th Ward since the late 1960's and when I purchase a house by the end of this year, I plan to continue that tradition.

"The decision to run was my decision.  I'm proud I wasn't drafted by any small town political insiders and that I'm running my own campaign.  I stay up until the wee hours of the morning studying the budget and trying to educate myself so that when I make an assertion or promise to the people it's backed by fact.

"I'm optimistic about working with the council if I'm fortunate enough to be elected, but I do understand now there are tough questions that need to be asked and the people of this city deserve honest answers.  That's the reason I decided to jump into this race."

August 26--  Two Vidalia natives are running in the November 5th city election to succeed Fourth Ward City Council member Lisa Chesser who is not seeking re-election.

Logan Lawrence is a recent UGA graduate who works for a Vidalia law firm. His opponent, Loyd Mobley, is an executive with Building Materials Corporation.

We asked them both why they are running and here's what Loyd Mobley had to say.

loydmobleyLoyd Mobley

"I've been here all my life and raised my kids here.  I've always been proud to say I am from Vidalia.  I've always thought about doing it and think this might be the right time to take the step.  The city could use someone who has experience in some areas where I think I can help.  I look forward to getting out and talking with my friends and neighbors over the next few months and sharing my vision for Vidalia.

"I want to focus on the future and now dwell on the past.  In the next four years I want to take advantage of the opportunities we have in the city and go with what we've done through the years.  I'm proud of what our forefathers have done and I want to carry that on.

"I see some areas we should really work on.  We should really make the crime in Vidalia a top priority.  Like everywhere else, it's escalated.  That's not anything against our police force, but we need to put more resources to get a better handle on it and that's something that's a priority for me.

"I'm very proud to hear they are doing a pay study for our police department and fire department employees.  That's something that's needed.  We need to pay them a fair wage and that will help us get started. 

"The important thing is to listen to what the people want, not just what I want or somebody else wants.  You're there to work for the people who elected you and that's what I want to do. 

"Anyone who wants to talk with me, my cell phone is 293-5737 and I'm open to talk with anybody."

August 24-- On Thursday, August 22, 2019, at approximately 4:30 p.m., the Georgia Bureau of Investigation was requested by the Glennville Police Department and the Tattnall County Sheriff’s Office to investigate an officer involved shooting that occurred in the city of Glenville.

Preliminary information indicates that a Department of Community Supervision Probation Officer was in a local pawn shop and waiting on another law enforcement officer to arrive.

Riley Eugene Peay, 39, of Glennville, GA, walked into the business and attacked the probation officer without warning or reason. Peay spat on and punched the officer, at which time the officer retreated from the suspect and drew his service weapon and gave verbal commands to the suspect to stop. Peay continued his aggression to the officer and the officer fired at Peay to stop the attack.

Although the officer hit the suspect in the shoulder area when he initially fired his weapon, Peay continued his attack on the officer causing the officer to fire additional shots to stop the attack. The suspect was incapacitated by the second round of shots and subsequently died at the scene.

The officer received injuries to the face from the punches by Peay. 

The GBI will continue its independent investigation. When the investigation is complete, it will be turned over to the Atlantic Judicial Circuit District Attorney for review.

By State Senator Jack Hill of Reidsville


Some, for whom complicated things are always very simple, often decry the size of the state budget and note "It was only $20 billion or less just a few years ago." After many years of observing government and actually writing budgets, there are a few truths that I have observed not just of state governments, but of all levels of government that spend taxpayers money.

  1. There is always a perceived need for expansion of government, more positions, more bureaucracy and more land for government functions.
  2. These costs continue to rise and the only way to reduce their growth is some kind of tax cut or payment back to taxpayers periodically or from budget cuts.
  3. Employee benefits, whether better or trailing private industry, will never be perceived as sufficient and there is always pressure to increase them.
  4. One positive of a recession is tighter spending, employees' stability and less pressure on elected officials to increase budgets.

The state as a governmental entity is somewhat different from local governments. The state of Georgia depends on the state Income tax, levied on individuals and businesses, a tax with many exemptions and credits. But, nevertheless, this is a fixed income tax and the state does not control what comes in. The other major source of tax revenue for the state is the state sales and use tax that applies only to certain purchases and again, has a number of exemptions.

Here is a list of the major tax and fee sources that fund state government:

            Individual Income Tax                        52%                 $12.7 Billion

            Sales and Use Tax                               27%                 $6.5 Billion

            Fuel Tax/Fees                                      9%                   $2.1 Billion

            Corporate Income Taxes                     5%                   $1.2 Billion

            Tag & Ad Valorem Taxes                   2%                   $1.0 Billion

            Other                                                   2%                   $844.03 Million


                                                                        Percent of State        

                                                                    Funds                 Actual Amount

         Education                                             54%                 $14.9 Billion

         Pre-K                                       1%                  $378.7 Million

                      K-12                                        39%                $10.7 Billion

                     University/Technical College       10%                 $2.8 Billion

                        Student Scholarships                                      

            for Higher Education              4%                  $1.0 Billion

Medicaid & PeachCare                       13%                 $3.6 Billion

Roads & Bridges                                 7%                   $1.9 Billion

Corrections, Supervision, Pardons

And Paroles                                          5%                   $1.4 Billion

Debt Service, Restricted Uses                5%                   $1.37 Billion

Behavioral Health/Disabilities                  4%                   $939.1 Million

Human Services                                     3%                   $830.6 Million

All Other Agencies (Judiciary,

Public Safety, Secretary of

State)                                                     9%                   $2.5 Billion    


  1. Enrollment-From 2010, the low point in the budget for the last 10 years to 2019, here are the increases in enrollment in the various state programs that are funded through formulas:

                                                       Increase in Enrollment

K-12 Education FTE's                                    112,026

Regents FTE's                                                21,728


  1. Entitlement enrollment and prison inmates:




Medicaid Enrollees



496,081-- Net 385,501

PeachCare Enrollees












*2018 figures.

During that same period, Georgia's population was estimated to increase 831,822.            


Positions that are filled make up the population of state employees that include those who work in state government, Board of Regents and TCSG staff, employees and faculty and includes K-12 school teachers paid by the state QBE Formula. The chart below shows the number of filled positions in 2010 and the number in 2019.




Public Safety



DHS - Division of Family and Child Services (DFCS)






Natural Resources



Public Health Counties









General Assembly



Governor's Office/ Agencies



Public Defender's Council



Secretary of State



Technical College System of GA









Court of Appeals



So, it is readily apparent that state government has not grown much in the number of employees. Keep in mind that the state's population grew by approximately 831,822 people from 2010 to 2018.

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

August 24--  There are only two contested races in municipal elections in Toombs County November 5 and both of them are in Vidalia.

The At-Large council seat currently held by Kailey Dees is being sought by former Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits and Bob Dixon, a finance executive at Building Materials Corporation.

The Fourth Ward race for the seat currently held by Lisa Chesser is between Logan Lawrence, a legal assistant at the law firm of Craig & Calhoun, and Loyd Mobley, single family operations manager at Building Materials Corporation.

Neither Dees nor Chesser is running for re-election.  Third Ward incumbent John Raymond  Turner is unchallenged in his bid for re-election.

In Lyons, all three incumbents are unopposed including Mayor Willis NeSmith, Jr., Third Ward Councilman Ivy Toole and Fifth Ward Councilman Rick Hartley.

In Santa Claus, incumbent Mayor Vince Meadows is not running and Amy Lawler has qualified for the office.  Post Two city council incumbent Timothy Horton is not running and Donita Bowen has qualified.  Post Three councilman Tad Bryant is unopposed.


August 23-- Mrs. Tonawanda Irie  (left), Principal of Toombs Central Elementary School, is proud to announce the Mrs. Michelle Padgett has been named the school's 2020 Teacher of the Year.

Mrs. Padgett teaches English to Speakers of Other Languages to students in grades K-5. 

Congratulations Mrs. Padgett!

By Lion Larry Griggers

August 23-- Two classes of First Grade students at Robert Toombs Christian Academy were delighted to take a break from their studies to "look at the kaleidoscope” inside a fancy looking box and have their vision screened by members of the Lyons Lions Club.

The high-tech, state-of-the-art vision screening device, which the club was recently able to purchase, gives an instant indication of whether the student's vision is within acceptable range or needs to be formally examined by an eye doctor.

After the screening, the school was given a report and 12.5% of the students taking the exam had an indication their parents needed to have their eye's checked.

lionsvision(L-R) Maggie Joseph of the Lions Lighthouse Foundation Savannah office and Lyons Lions Club members Alysa Marsicano, Debbie Griggers, Lucretia Nobles and Nan Price. Lions present to assist with the project, but not pictured, were Hayne Brant, Larry Griggers, and Jason Hall.

First Vice President Larry Griggers said, "Parents often are unaware that their child has a vision problem. Good vision is critical to academic success and the earlier these problems are detected and corrected, the better the student will perform at school. The members of the Lyons Lions Club are thrilled that we were able to purchase this vision screening device and add these free visions screenings to the list of services we provided to the Lyons community.”

Lions President Jason Hall said that it was the goal of the local club to provide free vision screening to all of the children in each of Toombs County’s schools, grades 1-3.

Helping people in the community to have good vision is one of the five major initiatives of Lions International. The motto of Lions International is "We serve!” and the Lyons Lions Club is striving to be responsive to that call!

August 22--  Action is being taken to replace the Toombs County Family and Children Services building in Lyons.

The building has been a maintenance headache for years and County Manager John Jones says the county is in the process of initiating a 20-year lease with an Atlanta-area developer who will build a new building behind the current structure at 162 Oxley Drive and tear down the old building once the new building is complete.  He expects construction will start this Fall and be finished early next year.

At the August meeting of the Toombs County Commissioners, the board approved a change order to a paving contract with Dykes Grassing adding $98,000 to pave Kelly Collins Road and $65,000 for some paving in the Eastwood sub-division.

Jones says he expects the Georgia Department of Transportation will start work replacing the bridge on the Green-Tippett Road in the next six months.

He also reports collection of sales tax revenue in the county is up nearly 12% this year and, unlike in the past, the county E-911 Center is operating in the black.

Also at the meeting, State Senator Blake Tillery presented resolutions passed by the State Senator honoring the service of two Toombs County Deputies on their retirement.


Captain Bobby Ray Smith (right center) is retiring after more than 30 years and Deputy Skipper Smith (left) has been employed with the Sheriff's Office for nearly 17 years.

August 22, 2019 – Dr. Samuel Holton of Southeastern Technical College has been installed as Chairman of the Georgia Association of Literacy Advocates.

GALA was formerly known as the Georgia Reading Association and is an affiliate of the International Association of Literacy.

stcholtonDr. Holton, Learning Support and Speech Instructor at STC, says, “I am honored to have the opportunity to serve GALA. I look forward to the opportunities to assist GALA as the organization continues in advancing literacy learning and teaching for all of Georgia.”

GALA aspires to:

  • Empower members of the Georgia Association of Literacy Advocates and local councils to become effective leaders in the field of literacy.
  • Provide quality literacy education services to all Georgia educators.
  • Recognize exemplary individuals and local and state literacy efforts.
  • Promote goals and objectives of the International Literacy Association.
  • Assist in implementing the Georgia Standards of Excellence.
  • Support literacy and other educational goals set for Georgia by the Georgia Department of Education.

August 22--  Vidalia Police Chief Brian Scott reports the following arrests.

Boston, Antonio Sherad- B/M- 30 YOA- 404 Mosley StreetVidalia, GA- Criminal Trespass (FVA)

Ayeni, Fatima Natasha- B/F- 40 YOA- 312 Washington St. Vidalia, GA- Possession of a Firearm During Certain Crimes, Possession of Marijuana Less Than Ounce (x8), Possession With Intent to Distribute, Possession of Controlled Substance, Possession of Controlled Substance With Intent to Distribute, Trafficking in Ecstasy

Munford,David Lee- B/M- 38 YOA- 808 E. Fourth St. Vidalia, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense/Warrant Served (Toombs County SO-Probation/State)

Hammonds,Howard Verdine B/M 49 YOA 3302 Highway 15 Lot C5 Vidalia-Driving While License Suspended/Warrant Service

Ransom,Tyson B/M 34 YOA 705 Georgia St Vidalia-Tag and Tail Light Requirements/No Drivers License

Baldwin,Shelley Elone B/F 35 YOA 900 Peacock St Vidalia- Driving While License Expired/Warrant Service

Spivey, Justin Arnold- W/M- 29 YOA- 760 Hilton Memory Rd. Vidalia, GA- Stalking, Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (First), Possession of Marijuana Less Than Ounce,
Possession of Drug Related Objects, Reckless Driving

O’Neal, James Matthew- W/M-33 YOA- 556 George Hill Rd. Lyons, GA- Theft by Shoplifting

Luna, Jamie Jonathan- H/M- 22 YOA- 428 Ezra Taylor Rd. Lyons, GA- No Driver’s License

Foreman, Tracy Lee Jr. - B/M- 21 YOA- 312 Washington St. Vidalia, GA- VGCSA. drug charges

Downs, Sean Matthew- W/M- 23 YOA- 918 Clyde Blvd. Vidalia, GA- Criminal Trespass, Possession of Marijuana Less Than Ounce

Mallard, Kelby Nicole- W/M- 19 YOA- 401 W. North St. Vidalia, GA- Exploitation of Elderly, Financial Card Theft, Financial Card Fraud x43 (State Warrants)

Giles, Larry Brian- W/M- 40 YOA- 940 Bud Jordan Rd. Uvalda, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense

Gardner, Henry- B/M- 27 YOA- 725 Bostwick Dr. Vidalia, GA- Battery (State Warrant)

Childs, James Christopher- W/M- 43 YOA- 1509 New Normantown Rd. Vidalia, GA- Battery (FVA)

Williams, Derremus Dashod- B/M- 28 YOA- 700 Second Ave Vidalia, GA-Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense/Theft by Shoplifting (Bench Warrant)

Miles, Charity Ann- W/F- 23 YOA- 519 Cauley Rd. Baxley, GA- Giving False Name, Address, Birthdate to LE Officer

Stewart, Cassandra- W/F- 33 YOA- 204 E. First St. Rm 32 Vidalia, GA- Theft by Taking

Hernandez, Pablo Landa- H/M- 35 YOA- 889 US Highway 280E Lyons, GA- Warrant Served (I.C.E.-Homeland Security)

Young, Jerome Dwayne- B/M- 36YOA- Swainsboro, GAWarrant Served (Muscogee County SO- Probation)

Beasley, Donnie Tyrone- B/M- 64 YOA- RT 1 Box 394 Ailey, GA- Theft of Lost Mislaid Property

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Cheryl Wright, Lyons, driving while license suspended, defective equipment, turn signals, improperly transferred tags, giving false information

Angel Contreras, Odum, driving unlicensed

Shontavia White, Lyons, drunkeness, disorderly conduct, possession of drug related objects, obstructing police

Thomas Loeffler, Newport Richey, FL, disorderly conduct

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Darryl Allen, Vidalia, probation violation

Gilberto Antonio-Pacheco, Lyons, driving unlicensed

Anthony Caron, Reidsville, forgery, possession, purchase, manufacture, sale of controlled substance

Ira Clements, Vidalia, failure to appear

John Edge, Lyons, aggravated battery

Roberto Hernandez, Vidalia, child molestation

Anthony Johnson, Lyons, DUI, child endangerment, driving while license suspended/revoked, open container

Steven Sanchez, Lyons, disorderly conduct, obstruction, possession of drug related objects

Shaquinton Scott, Lyons, driving unlicensed

Sheree Sikes, Vidalia, theft by taking, aggravated assault, bad checks

Darrington Solomon, Baxley, driving unlicensed

Ashley Tant, Lyons, purchase, possession, manufacture, distribution and sale of methamphetamine, giving false info to officers, possession of drug related objects

Michael Yeomans, Lyons, driving while license suspended/revoked

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

08/13-Tanya Maldonado, Mt Vernon, Theft by Deception

08/17-Michael Lee Denmark, Vienna, Loud Music, DUI, Possession of Controlled Substance, Possession of Drug Related Objects

08/17-Luke Michael Wilkes, Uvalda, Possession of Marijuana <1oz., Possession of Firearm/Knife During Commission of Crime, Under Age Drinking

08/18-Richard Vantrious Houston, Augusta, Warwick PD Warrant Served

August 22--  Both candidates who have qualified to succeed Vidalia At-Large City Council Member Kailey Dees say they are seeking the job because they want to serve the citizens of Vidalia.

We asked both Bob Dixon and former Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits the same question, Why Are You Running?

Here's what  they said.

Frank Waits:  "I think the council needs to do what the citizens of Vidalia want, not what the council wants.  If I win, I want the public to come to council meetings and be able to talk without having a time limit.  I want the public to know that we work for them and it's not the other way around that they work for us.  I also want the employees to know they're citizens, too. You have to take care of your employees as much as you take care of anyone.  That's what made me decide to run.  I want to be a council person for everyone, not just certain ones."

Bob Dixon:  "I think just the desire to continue serving and help and encourage people has been the key and I think I can do that. I think my accounting background will help with budgeting and the efficiency of the city by trying to run it like a business.  I just feel like it's a good opportunity and a good time to do it.  It's something I've wanted to do for a while and it's an opportunity to serve.  I just love Vidalia.  My grandfather came when he was a young man and raised my Dad and his brothers and Dad had us in Vidalia.  We've all stayed around and now we're trying to get this generation up and plugged in to serve the community.  That's what my grandfather taught me and that's what my uncles and my Dad have done for years.  Now it's an opportunity for me to step up and serve and I hope he people of Vidalia will allow me to do that."

In an upcoming report we'll talk with the other two candidates for the Fourth Ward seat being vacated by Lisa Chesser, Logan Lawrence and Loyd Mobley.

August 21--  UPDATE:  Lyons Mayor Willis NeSmith, Jr. qualified for re-election today.

In Santa Claus, Donita Bowen qualified for the Post Two City Council Seat held  by Timothy Horton who has yet to qualify.

August 20--  Only one incumbent on the Vidalia City Council is seeking re-election in the November 5 city election.

Ward Three city councilman and Vidalia Mayor Pro Tem John Raymond Turner is seeking re-election.

In the Fourth Ward, incumbent Lisa Chesser is not running.  Two people who have qualified for her seat are Logan Lawrence and Loyd Mobley, market manager for single family homes at Building Materials Corporation in Vidalia.

Council Member At-Large Kailey Dees is not seeking re-election.  Seeking the seat are former Vidalia Police Chief Frank Waits and Bob Dixon, nephew of Vidalia Mayor Ronnie Dixon and a Financial Director at Building Materials Corporation in Vidalia.

Council member Dees released a statement regarding her decision not to run again.

"As I reflect on the past 4 years, I promise the citizens of Vidalia that I have upheld my council position with the highest integrity. While I yearn to continue serving this community, I have decided not to seek re-election due to personal reasons. I am humbled to have been given the opportunity to serve this community and work alongside fellow citizens who use their talents to continue moving Vidalia in the right direction.

"It has been my honor to represent the citizens of Vidalia as Councilwoman At Large. Throughout my campaign in 2015, I promised to be active, authentic, and accessible. I pledged to serve the citizens of Vidalia in an honest manner. I vowed to make decisions for the current and future best interest of our community based on facts. I have never taken for granted the impact of my vote. I am always mindful that I serve this whole community, whether you voted for or against me. I never promised to make popular decisions, but I did promise to make the right decisions for the benefit of Vidalia. I have focused on fulfilling these promises every day.

"I love this community, and I am thankful for the opportunity I have had to serve. "

Three incumbents on the Vidalia Board of Education have qualified including Doug Roper III., Bruce Asberry and Julie Torrance.

Qualifying closes Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. for Vidalia candidates.

In Lyons, Fifth Ward Councilman Rick Hartley has qualified for re-election.  Mayor Willis NeSmith, Jr. and Third Ward incumbent Ivy Toole are expected to qualify later this week.

In Santa Claus, Amy Lawler has qualified for Mayor while incumbent Mayor Vince Meadows has yet to qualify.  Post Three city council member Tad Bryant has qualified while Post Two incumbent Timothy Horton has yet to qualify.

Qualifying in Lyons and Santa Claus closes Friday at 4:30 p.m. 

August 20--  The Lyons City Council drew a crowd at its August meeting which was held in Partin Park's Callaway Community Center.  The larger venue was needed as the council honored a lifesaving act, state softball champs and Soap Box Derby winners.

Daisy, faithful companion of Franklin Bradham of Lyons, and Lyons Police Sergeant Kevin Mathis were recognized for finding Mr. Bradham after he wandered out of his home on Belvue Avenue early on the morning of July 23.  Mr. Bradham suffers from dementia. 

Lyons police mounted an all-out search of the area and were about to give up hope when Sergeant Mathis noticed Daisy who led him to a storm drainage ditch when her Master had fallen. 

The council honored Daisy and Sergeant Mathis for their role in the rescue as well as the efforts of the Lyons Fire Department, the Toombs County Sheriff's Office, the Georgia State Patrol and the Appling County Sheriff's Office in the search.lyonsdaisy

(L-R) Caregivers Mary Berkworth, Rosa Powell and Theresa Jones, Sergeant Mathis and Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker who presented Sergeant Mathis a special award from the Police Department for his outstanding performance of duty.

The council passed a  proclamation honoring the Lyons "8 and Under" girls fast pitch softball team for winning state championship this summer in the Georgia Recreation & Parks Association tournament.  The girls beat Wayne County 20-9 to take the title.

lyonssoftballMembers Members of the "8 and Under" team are Annabelle Coe, Kylah Gay, Jerney Griffin, Elin Haygood, Ella Herndon, Londyn Johnson, Lindy Morris, Bella Otero, Braylin Pittman, Raeann Smith, Mary Frances Stanley, Kanijah Toby and Layla Winge.  Their coaches are Becky Pittman, Ivan Herndon and Abigail Lynn.

The council passed proclamations recognizing the 13 representatives of the Southeast Georgia Soap Box Derby at this year's First Energy All-American Soap Box Derby in Akron, Ohio.

lyonssoapboxCash Cash Driggers won the title of First Energy Rally Stock World Champion, Cassidy Martin is the First Energy Local Stock World Champion and placed third in the All-Star Race, Casen Hayes placed first in the All-Star Race and third in the All-American Rally Stock Race and Joey Todd placed fifth in the Super Stock Race.

Other Southeast Georgia Soap Box Derby winners who competed in Akron are Jordan Campbell, Levi Dopson, Aidyn Driggers, Cayson Hayes, Thayne Hayes, Alexis Head, Alyssa Head, Shauna Hutcheson and Trenton Jraisat.

By Toombs County School Superintendent Barry Waller

Over the last four years, trend data shows that scores on the Georgia Milestone’s Assessment System at both Toombs County Middle School and Toombs County High School have shown steady gains in both Developing Learner and above as well as in Proficient Learner and above categories.

At Toombs County Middle School, highlights show steady growth since 2016 in 6th grade English/Language Arts, 6th grade Math, 7th grade Math, 8th grade English/Language Arts, 8th grade Math, 8th grade Science, and 8th grade Social Studies.

TCMS Principal Dr. Renee Garbutt says, "Continued growth on the Georgia Milestones at TCMS is attributed to dedicated faculty and staff members who work relentlessly to individualize instruction and to encourage a growth mindset in all of our students.  When our students bring their best in terms of attendance, behavior, and effort, we are committed to doing the rest”!

Scores at Toombs County High School have seen similar patterns with a continued positive growth over the last several years on End of Course Tests (EOCT).

Student’s scores are at or above the state average in both Biology and Economics content in Proficient and Distinguished Learner categories, while showing increases in Geometry, Algebra I, American Literature, and 9th grade Literature subjects.

TCHS Principal Marissa Morris states, “Our teachers have worked really hard with our students by adjusting teaching practices and implementing strategies to increase EOC scores in all areas. We are excited about the growth in EOC scores and are working to continue this trend to increase student performance and success”.

Superintendent Barry Waller says, “One of our highest priorities in our school system is to support our teachers who invest daily into the lives of our students. We are proud of the gains we are making at both TCMS and TCHS, but know there is still work to be done. We are grateful for our teachers and students and the wonderful things in our system”.

August 19--  The Vidalia school board has followed through on its promise to help fund the Vidalia Learning Center.

At its August meeting, the board okayed $50,000 to assist the after-school program for 150 children of working parents during this school term.  Toombs County Family Connection runs the program and is applying for federal funds to operate the program next school term.

In other actions the board:

*  Okayed a $19,000 bid from Triton Security of Vidalia for additional security cameras at Vidalia High School and is planning on spending up to $90,000 in state funds for cameras at the other three schools in the system.

*  Authorized an $8,000 purchase of two heating and cooling systems from the Mingledorf Company of Savannah.

August 19--  The City of Lyons is seeking two federal grants to help with infrastructure projects.

At its August meeting, the city council discussed plans for a grant to extend water and sewer north of the Toombs Corporate Center to accommodate relocation of Robin Builders in Lyons to the industrial park site north of Highway 130.  It also approved a resolution to seek a $500,000 grant for storm drainage and street improvements at a site to be determined in the city.

The council turned down a bid of $572,000 for sports lighting at Partin Park.  Mayor Willis NeSmith, Jr. said the bid from Trinity Electric Service was too high.

It authorized the use of the Callaway Community Center in Partin Park for Red Cross blood drives, approved a $1,500 annual lease with the G&W Railroad for the Lyons Depot and okayed participation in the local "Complete Count Committee" for the 2020 census.

The council appointed seven citizens to the Lyons Recreation Advisory Board including Phelisha Caraway and Dirk Brantley for one year terms, Deroyce McCloud and Brian Stanley for two year terms and Dewitt Davis, Bryan Benton and Lisa Miller to three year terms.

August 19--  The Vidalia Police Department made one arrest and seized drugs, guns and cash in a weekend drug bust.

According to Chief Brian Scott, officers searched a house in the 300 block of Washington Street where they found suspected cocaine, marijuana and ecstasy plus more than $8,000 in cash.

traceyforemanTwenty-one-year old Tracy Foreman of Vidalia is facing 14 criminal charges including eight counts of marijuana possession, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of a Schedule 1 Narcotic with intent to distribute, drug trafficking, possession of a firearm during commission of a crime and one charge of making vpdsearchphototerroristic threats.

Foreman was also arrested in June by the Toombs County Sheriff's Office on multiple drug-related charges.

August 19--  Former Montgomery County Deputy Sheriff Todd Yancey is seeking a Superior Court ruling expunging criminal charges against him.

toddyanceyheadYancey was one of six people charged with burglary at the office of Montgomery County Sheriff Ladson O'Connor the night he was killed in a police chase wreck on June 15, 2015.

The original indictment against him was quashed by the Georgia Court of Appeals and a second effort to indict him in June, 2018 was rejected by a Montgomery County grand jury.

The cases of the other five defendants in the case were resolved last December when the state dropped charges against Montgomery County Manager Brandon Braddy for Sheriff O'Connor's secretary Kathy Rudd.  Charges against them have been expunged from the public record.

The state agreed to reduce the charge from a felony burglary to misdemeanor criminal trespass against defendants Matt Waller, Brent Braddy and Mount Vernon Mayor Joey Fountain.  Waller pleaded no contest and the other two pleaded guilty to the lesser charge.

Yancey argues the charges against him are inaccurate, incomplete and misleading because he has not been convicted of the crime and the grand jury refused to indict him.

Oconee Judicial Circuit District Attorney Tim Vaughn says he refuses to sign off on the expungement of the charges against Yancey because they were never resolved in court.  He says he agreed to the expungement of the Braddy and Rudd charges because of the court case last December.

A hearing date on Yancey's request has yet to be set in Montgomery County Superior Court.

August 19--  Candidates can qualify this week for election to six offices in Vidalia and three in Lyons.

Qualifying in  Vidalia is Monday through Wednesday for three seats on the city council and three seats on the board of education.

City council seats up for election are in Ward Three now occupied by John Raymond Turner, Ward Four held by Lisa Chesser and the At-Large seat held by Kailey Dees.  Chesser had announced she will not seek re-election and Logan Lawrence has announced his intentions to run in Ward Four.

Board of Education seats are in the First Ward held by Doug Roper, III;, Third Ward held by Bruce Asberry and At-Large held by Julie Torrance.

Qualifying in Lyons is Monday through Friday.

Candidates will qualify for Mayor currently held by Willis NeSmith, Jr., Third Ward City Council held by Ivy Toole and Fifth Ward City Council held by Rick Hartley.

Qualifying for all the races will be held at the Toombs County Board of Elections and Registration Office at 125 Lincoln Avenue in Lyons.

By Toombs County School Superintendent Barry Waller

August 16-- Test scores at both elementary schools in the Toombs County School System continue to rise. The school system is happy to report that scores at both Lyons Upper Elementary School and Toombs Central Elementary School are out-performing the state average in both Developing Learner and above categories as well as Proficient Learner and above categories on the Georgia Milestones Assessment System (GMAS).

Individually, the students at Toombs Central Elementary School continue to perform well in all tested areas and have scored double digit percentage points above the state average in all of the tested areas of the Georgia Milestones (3rd grade English/Language Arts, 3rd grade Math, 4th grade English/Language Arts, 4th grade Math, 5th grade English/Language Arts, 5th grade Math, 5th grade Science, and 5th grade Social Studies).

TCES Principal Tonawanda Irie says; “The importance of teachers knowing their standards and the consistency of practice in using the language of the standards in all grade levels and all subjects is the key to our success”.

Meanwhile, Lyons Upper Elementary School continues to excel as well, with students performing at or above the state scoring average on the Georgia Milestones in 3rd grade English/Language Arts, 3rd grade Math, 4th grade Math, as well as 5th grade Math, Science, and Social Studies.

LUES Principal stated; “Our staff knows that education benefits every aspect of a child’s life, health, and well-being, so it is our goal to teach the whole child and prepare him/her to be positive contributors to our community. We are proud of the work our staff does on a daily basis and the continuous support we receive from our community.

Toombs County School Superintendent Barry Waller concludes, “We are so proud of the investment by our administrators, teachers, and staff into the lives of our students at both of our elementary schools. Our school system is a special place and our folks work tirelessly to ensure our students get what they need to be successful not only in the classroom but in life”.

August 16-- The American Red Cross Annual Battle of the Badges blood drive event is Wednesday, August 21st and Thursday, August 22nd.

This two-day drive will pit the Vidalia and Lyons Fire and Police Departments, Toombs County Sheriff’s Department, Toombs/Montgomery County EMS, Toombs County Volunteer Fire Departments and Toombs County EMA against each other in a friendly battle to see which department can have the most participants donate blood.

Donors do not have to be an employee of the department.

The drive is sponsored by Altamaha Bank and Lark Builders. These businesses will make a financial contribution to each badge for every unit of blood donated.

The drives will be held at the Vidalia High School on Wednesday, the 21st and the Toombs County High School on Thursday the 22nd.

Each drive will be held from 1-6 PM. Donors can donate only once at either drive and with each donation, can vote for the “Badge” of their choice. The winning department will receive a plaque and more importantly, bragging rights for the year.

“We are very excited to help the Red Cross save lives. Someone in the USA needs blood every two seconds,” Vidalia Fire Chief Brian Sikes said.

“This is a great opportunity to have a little fun for a great cause,” commented Lynn Moore, EMA director and longtime blood donor.

“Our badges and first responders put their lives on the line each day. This is a great partnership where we can relax, have a friendly competitive department rivalry and also save some lives at the same time,” Biram Chapman, Red Cross Account Representative added.

The goal for the two-day event is 100 units.

Donors can make an appointment by going to and entering zip code 30474 in the search box. Walk ins will be taken but priority given to those donors that make appointments.

For more information, please call or text Biram Chapman at 912 663 6721.

August 15--  The remains of Army Corporal William Silas Smith are back in his hometown of Vidalia 69 years after he was killed in the Korean War.

His nephew, Robert Manders of Toombs County, was notified in June that his uncle's remains had been recovered and positively identified and that set in motion the process for his return.

smithreturn1Vidalia Funeral Home Director Ron Hall picked up his casket at the airport in Savannah Thursday morning, "Once we left the Patriot Honor Guard led us with the Georgia State Patrol ahead of them and the Toombs County deputy sheriff's behind.  As we came through Pooler there were two ladder trucks and once we hit Highway 280 through Pembroke there was a nice crowd there.

"When we got to Reidsville, there was an incredible amount of folks including Canoochee EMC that had their bucket truck with a flag on it and even people were at the end of a dirt road who had their whole family there with flags honoring Corporal Smith.  When we got to Lyons, fire and police with good representation were there and at the hospital in Vidalia where we turned there were some folks there paying tribute.  When we came by J.D. Dickerson Primary School, they had let the whole school out and I though that was fabulous and then Vidalia Fire Chief Brian Sikes had the ladder truck and flag as we came into the funeral home," Hall recounted.

Among those paying respects in Vidalia, Tracey Dismuke, "It just  touched my heart to see that someone who has been missing for such a long time can finally come home and we just wanted to come out and show our love and respect for him."

Another woman came because her father, Bill Gillis of Glenwood, was in the Korean War, "My Dad was in the Korean War and it could have been my Dad and I would not have been here," and like many vets, she says her father doesn't talk much about it, "My nephew asked him about it for a school project and he told us some about it."  Her Dad was in the Army Signal Corps, "He said he'd be on the telephone pole putting the wires up and the bombs would be flying over his head and the shooting and all that," she remembered.

Corporal Smith's funeral with full military honors is Saturday morning at 11 o'clock at Pinecrest Cemetery in Vidalia.

August 15--  A mid-afternoon thunderstorm in the Vidalia area Wednesday afternoon was accompanied by lightning strikes which took out phone and computer systems in some businesses and started a house fire.


pinetreeFire Chief Brian Sikes says the home of the John Pointer family at 803 5th Street suffered serious fire damage to the interior after lightning hit and split an 80-foot pine tree in the front yard.

No occupants were injured, but a fireman suffered a cut on his arm fighting the fire, according to the chief.

mrmcafterschool Left to right: Meadows Regional Medical Center President & CEO Alan Kent; Toombs County Family Connection Director Paige Williamson; Vidalia City Schools Superintendent Dr. Garrett Wilcox; Administrative Assistant/Medical Staff Coordinator Sha'Keema Wooden; Meadows Chief Operating Officer James Nixon; Toombs County Schools Superintendent Barry Waller.

August 15--  Meadows Health donated $15,000 to Toombs County Family Connection in support of community after school programs. The donation, divided between Vidalia City Board of Education and Toombs County Board of Education, will be used for program staffing, bus drivers, background checks, and supplies.

The donation is part of a community effort to sustain the program for a year after the federal grant which funded the effort was denied this year.

“Toombs County Family Connection has written and been awarded three 21st Century federal grants, totaling $4,550,000 in the span of eight years,” said Paige Williamson, Director of Toombs County Family Connection. “We have always been responsible for day to day operations, hiring, and administrative duties while the schools have taken legal and fiscal responsibility, in addition to providing the space for the programs. Our partnerships with our local school districts are strong and that strength has proved to be a major part of why our programs have been so successful in the past.”

“To have our hospital support our efforts to sustain our programs is tremendous,” Williamson added. “Meadows Health recognized the negative impact that displacing 300 students countywide could have on our community, and the toll that it would take on working parents. We are so thankful for Meadows Health’s generous donation to our after school programs.”

“Toombs County Family Connection is an essential organization in the community,” said Meadows Regional Medical Center President & CEO, Alan Kent. “We are thrilled to support their mission of investing in education and expanding opportunities for our young people, understanding the amazing work being done already and the impact these programs have on our children and families’ lives.”

Combined, Toombs County Afterschool and the Vidalia Learning Center programs will continue to serve approximately 250 families during the 2019-2020 school year. This year’s programs will be available from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday. Parents submitted applications for after school at all of the schools’ Open House events this year. Parents will be called in the next few weeks if their child was accepted into the program. Both after school programs will begin the Wednesday after Labor Day.

August 14--  A grateful nation recognized the sacrifice of Toombs County Green Beret Staff Sergeant Dustin Wright Wednesday.  He and three other Green Berets were killed nearly two years ago when their patrol was ambushed by insurgents in Niger, West Africa.


The commander of the 1st Special Forces Command, Major General John Deedrick, presented the Silver Star to Sergeant Wright's family in ceremonies before a packed house at the Santa Claus Community Center.


"Dustin was a hero.  Soldiers like Dustin are our national treasures.  They place the safety and well being of others above themselves and they demonstrate the true meaning of service and dedication through their sacrifice.  For those of you who knew Dustin and those of you who served alongside him, I'm not telling you anything you don't already know. Each of you has memories of him that are special and this medal will become another part of those memories.  We'll always cherish and never forget his life and we will continue to reflect on his sacrifice in the weeks and years to come," General Deedrick said.

Dustin's father, Arnold, and his brother, Will, also spoke at the ceremony and Will challenged American's to follow his brother's example. 

The family has established the "Dustin M. Wright Foundation," according to his mother, Terri Criscio, "We're doing it to honor Dustin.  What we're doing through the Foundation is gathering information on different organizations so that when veterans come to us with a need, we can help them out.  We'll provide them with a link or phone number or even funding them to go somewhere for help whether it's medical, PTSD or anything veterans might need."

The foundation may be reached via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

August 14--  The Vidalia Police Department reports the following arrests.

Corouthers, Dominique L. - B/F- 30 YOA- 321 Jerriel St. Apt. 35 Vidalia, GA- DUI- 1st Offense (Probation Warrant)

Montes, Mariella Aguilar- H/F- 42 YOA- 39 Clyde Rd. Baxley, GA- No Driver’s License, Failure to Obey Stop/Yield Sign, Child Restraint Violation Over 8

Newell, Anquanette Nicole- B/F- 28 YOA-709 Winona St. Vidalia, GA- Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (First), Seatbelt Violation, Child Restraint Over 8

Williams, Shantell Latrice- B/F- 29 YOA- 707 Stuart St. Vidalia GA- Speeding, Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (First) Child Restraint Violation Under 8 (Second Offense)

Jennings, Adam Morris- B/M- 23 YOA- 800 Maple Dr Apt 8B Vidalia, GA- Criminal Trespass (FVA)

Connor, Robert Earl- B/M- 44 YOA-1301 Meadows Lane Vidalia, GA- Simple Battery (FVA)

Latimore,Verdree Lamonte- B/M- 48 YOA- 3370 Monte Carlo Dr. Augusta, GA- Warrant Served (State- Aiken County SO)

Flowers, Christopher J. -B/M- 40 YOA- 709 Fourth Ave Vidalia, GA- Criminal Trespass (FVA)

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Johnny Mosley, Lyons, open container, no tag, driving while license suspended/revoked

Jimmy Sanders, Vidalia, obstructing police officer, giving false info to police officer

Larry Dixon, Claxton, possession of controlled substance, drug related objects and firearm by a convicted felon, controlled substance not in original container.

William Gordy, Reidsville, DUI, failure to maintain lane

Lavada Booth, Helena, driving while license suspended/revoked

Melissa Cutlip, Lyons, theft by taking

Brian Rolen, Lyons, forgery

Roberto Mendoza, Baxley, hands free, driving unlicensed, seat belt, no proof of insurance

Victoria Labar, Vidalia, hands free, driving unlicensed

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Ayla Heckel, Mt. Vernon, cruelty to animals

Ann Griffin, Baxley, probation violation

Shakita Munford, Waycross, driving while license suspended/revoked

Daniel Padgett, Helena, probation violation

Alex Varner, Brooklet, possession of marijuana

Demetrio Ventura, Metter, driving unlicensed

Diamond Washington, Lyons, speeding, driving while license suspended/revoked

Annaser Williams, McRae, simple battery

Louis Estrada, Lyons, driving unlicensed

Loren Evans, Vidalia, theft by taking

Jonathon Fountain, Vidalia, no insurance, driving while license suspended/revoked

Thomas Greene, Baxley, burglary

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

08/06-Jimmy Lee Sullivan, Ailey, Pedestrian Under the Influence, Public Indecency

08/07-Katyiah Nishay Clark, Ailey, Speeding, Driving w/Suspended License

08/07-Jimmy Lee Sullivan, Ailey, Public Drunkenness

08/08-Assunta P. Collins, Glenwood, Driving while Unlicensed

08/08-Skye Rhnee Pennington, Ellabell, Chatham County Warrant Served

08/08-Alexis Michele Moxley, Vidalia, Chatham County Warrant Served

08/10-Tonya Angel Johnson, Milledgeville, Items Prohibited for Use by Inmates

August 14--  Nearly 69 years after he was killed in the Korean War, the remains of Toombs County native, Corporal William Silas Smith, will be returned home this week.

Vidalia Funeral Director Ron Hall says Corporal Smith's remains are being flown by the U.S. Army from Honolulu to Savannah where they will be picked up and brought to Vidalia Thursday.

Corporal Smith will be escorted by motorcyclists from "The Patriot Guards," the Georgia State Patrol and the Toombs County Sheriff's Office.

For citizens who wish to pay homage to Corporal Smith, the entourage will travel through Lyons on U.S. Highway 280, take a right turn at Meadows Regional Medical Center in Vidalia and then a left turn on Highway 292 and travel west to the Ronald V. Hall Funeral Home. 

Hall says time of arrival in Vidalia  is dependent on when the plane from Hawaii arrives in Savannah.  He estimates the arrival in Vidalia will occur between 12:45 and 1:30 p.m. Thursday.  His funeral will be held Saturday morning at 11 o'clock at Pinecrest Cemetery.

Corporal Smith was reported missing in action in South Korea on September 1, 1950 and declared deceased by the U.S. Army on December 31, 1953.

His only living relative, Robert Manders of Toombs County, was notified in June by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency that his uncle remains had been recovered and positively identified.  More than 7,000 service members are still unaccounted for in the Korean War.

August 13--  Vidalia's new police chief is on the job.  Chief Brian Scott assumed his duties Monday and was introduced at the City Council's August meeting Monday night.  Chief Scott said he and his family are getting settled in and he's looking forward to serving the citizens of Vidalia.

The council gave the go ahead to advertise the city's 2019 property tax rate which is expected to be approved in September.  The property tax digest is about $2.7 million less than last year and will require a millage rate of 4.201 mils which will raise about $8,000 less than last year. 

The city's property taxes have been decreasing for the last five years prompting City Council member Kailey Dees to note a raise in the property tax rate may need to be addressed in the future.  A study of the city's employee compensation package and job descriptions is scheduled to start next month by the Carl Vinson Institute at the University of Georgia.

Council members refused to second a motion by Dees that would have allowed Toombs County citizens who don't live in the city but who own or operate businesses in the city to serve on the Vidalia Recreation Board.  The board recommended the change and noted about a third of the Rec Department participants live outside the city limits.

The council approved ordinances setting fees for potential media companies which might want to do film production in the city and another supporting increased internet broadband capacity.

It also approved closing of Southeast Main Street for a few hours adjacent to the former Woodland Oil complex to allow demolition of the building.

The council approved recommendations from the Zoning and Planning Commission to allow construction of luxury town homes on a nearly four-acre site on Mose Coleman Drive and the annexation of three acres on Green Acres Drive for residential construction.

The following expenditures were approved:

*  $46,100 to purchase two police cars from Woody Folsom Dodge Chrysler.

*  $35,475 to replace 20 fire hydrants.

*  $60,825 for computers and software.

* $18,556 for Rec Department football uniforms, pads and helmets.

Fire Chief  Brian Sikes reported the Fire and Police Departments are reinvigorating "Safe Kids Toombs" in cooperation with Safe Kids Georgia and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. The kickoff celebration is Saturday morning at 11:30 a.m. at the Walmart Super Center in Vidalia.  The program focuses on preventing childhood injury.

August 12--  Owners of the privately owned Sweet Onion Cinema in Vidalia are again asking the City of Vidalia to cease showing movies at the tax supported Pal Theater in downtown Vidalia.

Theater co-owner Melanie Parker first requested relief at a city council meeting in May, then met with city officials in June and Monday night made her third appeal at the August meeting of the city council.

Based on limited information gained through Freedom of Information requests, Parker claims the movie showings alone are in the hole by almost $6,000 since the Pal began showing movies last August. She says the city has promised a full accounting next month.

"I think that up until now we basically have encountered not much help and not much understanding of what we're trying to get across.  I think once the City completes the evaluation they promised, supposedly next month, if they include all of the date pertinent to the operation of the Pal showing movies then I think they will be shocked and surprised at the loss of revenue as a movie theater competing with our theater," Parker said.

Parker and her husband, David, applaud the use of the Pal as an event venue, however, they think it's unfair for a private business to be forced to compete with the City for customers.

City Manager Nick Overstreet promises an accurate profit and loss statement by the middle of September, "We will take the statistics from August 1 of last year when we began showing movies through July 31 of this year.  We'll evaluate that as far as expenses and revenues and other items.  It does involve movies, concessions, staff and different variables.  Once we do that, we'll give them the information they requested around mid-September."

In the past Overstreet has said he doesn't think the Pal competes with the Sweet Onion Cinema because he said it doesn't show first run movies, however, Parker cites an example when the movie "Unplanned" was shown at the Pal and resulted in lost ticket sales for the movie at the Sweet Onion Cinema.

August 12-- A correctional officer at a federal prison has been charged in a 14-count indictment with accepting bribes in return for smuggling cigarettes to an inmate.

Michael Kerr, 30, of Vidalia is charged with 12 counts of Bribery, one count of Providing Contraband into a Prison, and one count of making a false statement to law enforcement, said Bobby L. Christine, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. The charges carry possible punishment of up to 15 years in prison.

The indictment alleges that on 12 occasions Kerr, a correctional officer at McRae Correctional Facility, a private prison operated under a federal contract in Telfair County, accepted payments ranging from $400 to $640 in return for smuggling cigarettes to the inmate. The indictment alleges Kerr then lied when confronted about the allegations by claiming the payoff occurred only once, for $100. The forfeiture allegation included in the indictment contends Kerr accepted bribes totaling of $5,790. 

“The corrections officers in our federal prison system perform outstanding work under difficult conditions,” said Bobby L. Christine, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. “Any guard who violates their oath makes the job for all the others more difficult, and as a consequence merits prosecution.” 

“Introducing contraband undermines the integrity of federal prisons and creates a danger for correctional officers, prison staff, and inmates,” said Special Agent in Charge James F. Boyersmith, Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General, Miami Field Office. “Bribery and smuggling contraband into federal prisons will not be tolerated, and our agents will continue to root out these schemes. I’d like to thank U.S. Attorney Christine for his partnership in this effort.”

An indictment contains only charges. Defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty in court.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Inspector General, and prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorney Marcela C. Mateo.

August 12-- On Saturday, August 10, 2019, at approximately 8:16 a.m., the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Eastman Office was requested by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office to investigate the death of Sheriff Thomas Smith.

Sheriff Smith was discovered at a residence where he was residing in Tennille, Washington County, Georgia.

On Monday, August 12, 2019, an autopsy was completed at the GBI Headquarters Crime Lab in Decatur.

The preliminary results of the autopsy indicate that Sheriff Smith died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. 

If anyone has information about this investigation, please contact the GBI Eastman office at 478-374-6988.

August 12-- On August 5, 2019, an Application was filed with the Federal Communications Commission seeking consent to the Assignment of Broadcast License consent to the Assignment of Broadcast Licenses of Radio Stations WTCQ (FM), Vidalia, GA; WYUM (FM), Mount Vernon, GA; WVOP (AM), Vidalia, GA; and W287CR (FX), Vidalia, Georgia, from Vidalia Communications Corporation to RadioJones, LLC.

WTCQ (FM) operates on the assigned frequency of 97.7 Megahertz, with an effective radiated power of 4.3 Kilowatts; WYUM (FM) operates on the assigned frequency of 101.7 Megahertz, with an effective radiated power of 3.6 Kilowatts; WVOP (AM) operates on the assigned frequency of 970 Kilohertz, with an effective radiated power of 4 Kilowatts day and 60 watts at night; and W287CR (FX) operates on the assigned frequency of 105.3 Megahertz, with an effective radiated power of 250 watts.

The Officers, Directors and Shareholders with 10% or more voting rights in Vidalia Communications Corporation are Brice Ladson, William Ledford, Jr., and John Ladson, III. The Officer and Member with 10% or more voting rights in RadioJones, LLC is Dennis Jones.

A copy of the Assignment Application is available for public inspection on-line at

Blake Tillery HealthcareAugust 12-- Senator Blake Tillery met Thursday with a group of local concerned citizens, industry leaders, and business owners at the Toombs-Montgomery Chamber of Commerce building to hear their concerns on the healthcare industry in the state of Georgia and how it effects them.

Tillery was recently named to the 40 member Healthcare Waiver Stakeholder Group by Governor Brian Kemp. The stakeholder group is comprised of members of all aspects of the healthcare industry in Georgia to come up with solutions to drive down healthcare costs.

“It’s 40 members who are trying to look at this plan to provide a little feedback on the waiver process. A lot of those are academics, some are insurers, some are healthcare providers, and some are hospital systems. Where I view my role, I want to make sure we are putting a face behind those statistics,” said Tillery.

The stakeholder group came about as a result of Senate Bill 106 guided by Senator Tillery. Tillery said, “Senate Bill 106 did start this process, seeing if we can find more creative ways to help healthcare costs. I was carrying it on behalf of the Governor, he really gets the credit if this works.”

“Participations been is what participation is, people are busy and I appreciate the folks who have shown up. We’ve probably had 15 or 20 at each and I’m grateful for that. It really shows us that healthcare really is a huge issue in our area, second only to jobs,” said Tillery.

Abenego Primary Care RCAugust 8--  Dr. Geoff Conner and family along with the staff and local dignitaries were on hand for the official ribbon cutting at Abednego Primary Care at 1608 Meadows Lane in Vidalia.  Abednego Primary Care is open Monday thru Thursday 8-6 and Friday 8-12 serving patients from age 5 and up for all your primary care needs. 

rickallenAugust 8-- Congressman Rick Allen is making his rounds throughout the district during the month of August while on break from Washington. Allen touted the economy and jobs.

“We have the best economy in the world. We have more jobs than job seekers. Everybody I talk to, and I spend a great amount of time with business people, especially small businesses, and their business is great but they just can’t find a skilled workforce out there,” said Allen. He added, “I was at the White House six months ago when we signed up four million apprenticeships. The President announced at his last rally that we’re up to twelve million apprenticeships.”

China is another issue that needs immediate attention. “Obviously we’ve got this battle with China. I’ve just told the President we just need to find somebody else to do business with. We’ve got to find somebody that will give us a reasonable price for our cotton and then agree to buy the shirts they make,” said Allen. He added, “we need to do this sooner than later, this stuff takes time.”

The politics in Washington is making it hard to get anything done. “I’m going to say something here; there are politicians that could give a flip about the American people. They could give a flip about God fearing people having the ability to protect themselves,” said Allen.

He added, “It’s all about winning elections and power and anybody who gets in their way, you can’t imagine the demonization. I’ve been demonized about my beliefs and what they’re saying about the President, it’s awful.”

ASN Press Release ASN Bridge Graduates: (Front L-R) Carson Stone, Sarah Lewis (Middle L-R) Jennifer Robbins, Emily Mincey, Jennifer Foxworth, Katie McKenzie, Jessica Aaron, Hailey Copeland, Melanie Hosmer, Crystal Bramblett, Ansleigh Dickey, Michelle Hart, Dorsie Smith (Back L-R) Erin Merrill, Audrey Tharpe, Jamie Wilson, Morgan Yawn, Alex Farlow, Jessica Griffis, Ariana Croft, Nicole Moore (Not pictured) Pamela SelphAugust

August 7--  The Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) Bridge Pathway Class of Southeastern Technical College (STC) held a pinning ceremony for its summer 2019 graduates on July 25 in the Swainsboro-Emanuel County Auditorium.   

The members of the ASN Bridge graduating class were: Jennifer Foxworth, Michelle Hart, and Dorsie Smith from Swainsboro, Jessica Aaron and Crystal Bramblett from Millen, Jennifer Robbins and Jamie Wilson from Lyons, Pamela Selph and Carson Stone from McRae, Hailey Copeland and Jessica Griffis from Vidalia, Morgan Yawn from Baxley, Erin Merrill from Reidsville, Nicole Moore from Glennville, Emily Mincey from Uvalda, Sarah Lewis from Kite, Melanie Hosmer from Hazlehurst, Alex Farlow from Metter, Katie McKenzie from Midville, Ariana Croft from Tarrytown, Audrey Tharpe from Mount Vernon, Ansleigh Dickey from Waynesboro.

ASN Instructor Shannon Veal said, “STC is very excited to be pinning our second cohort of ASN Bridge pathway nursing students. The students have worked extremely hard to reach their goal and we are very proud of each and every one of them. We wish them the deepest of congratulations.”  

The ASN Bridge Pathway option is offered on the Swainsboro campus and allows qualified individuals who possess current, Georgia unrestricted licensure as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Paramedic (EMT-P) to bridge his or her education and training into the Associate of Science in Nursing Degree. The traditional option course work (RNSG courses) is completed within four (4) semesters. The ASN Bridge Pathway option allows qualified applicants to complete nursing program course work (RNSG-B courses) within three (3) semesters.  The ASN program is designed with curriculum to provide students with the necessary knowledge, skills, and attitudes to practice competently and safely as an entry level nurse in acute, long-term, and community healthcare settings. Students receive classroom instruction and coordinated clinical experiences in the nursing care of clients at local hospitals and community agencies under the supervision and guidance of the nursing faculty.

Medical Assisting 7444 press release Medical Assisting Graduates (Front L-R): Patricia Ontiveros, Carla Johnson, Dallas Smith, Tabitha Webb (Back Row L-R) Emily Kilgore, Rhonda Barber, Nikki Anderson, Kayla Ricks, Tasya Burns, Julia Smith, Shadaya Latimore, Remonica Davis August

August 7--  The Medical Assisting program on the Vidalia campus of Southeastern Technical College (STC) held a pinning ceremony for its summer 2019 graduates on July 29 in the Tattnall Auditorium.

The graduates were Nikki Anderson, Carla Johnson, Emily Kilgore, Tabitha Webb from Lyons, Rhonda Barber and Dallas Smith from Reidsville, Shadaya Latimore and Julia Smith from Vidalia, Tasya Burns and Kayla Ricks from Soperton, Remonica Davis from Uvalda, and Patricia Ontiveros from Glennville.

Instructor Stephannie Waters said, "This class is very resilient. They all had challenges during the year, either personally or academically, and yet they all rallied around one another and supported one another like family. I am very proud of each one of them for their accomplishment and even more honored that I was able to be their instructor. I feel sure they will go out into the world and do great things.”

Carly Benton, Executive Director of The Mercy Ministries, was the guest speaker. She addressed the graduates, "There is no other profession like healthcare where you get to bring encouragement and hope to so many people every single day. Sometimes that hope comes in the form of medicine, sometimes in the form of health education - empowering people with the knowledge needed to make positive lifestyle changes, and sometimes it is emotional and spiritual like a kind word or prayer. So, wherever you go, don't just be a certified medical assistant; be a beacon of hope to those you serve."  

STC’s Medical Assisting Program provides area clinics, hospitals, and other medical organizations with graduates who have a wide medical knowledge base and the skills to become invaluable team members. Medical assistants are multi-skilled allied health professionals dedicated to assisting with patient care management in an ambulatory care setting, such as physician's offices, clinics of all sizes, and other outpatient facilities. Whether performing administrative or clinical tasks, medical assistants are an important part of any health care setting, and Southeastern Tech’s program can open the door to these opportunities.

For more information on careers in Medical Assisting at STC, visit or call 912-538-3100 or 478-289-2200. 

August 7-- Robert Manders doesn’t usually answer his phone while at work, especially when it’s a number he doesn’t recognize. One day this past June was different; he was on break and answered the unrecognized number anyway. He’s really glad he did.

“It happened to be a gentleman from the DPAA (Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency) and he relayed the news to me that they had found Corporal William Silas Smith,” said Manders.

Manders’ uncle Army Corporal William Silas Smith was reported missing in action on September 1st 1950 in South Korea. The Department of the Army declared him deceased, December 31st, 1953. Manders never knew his uncle personally, only through stories from his mother and grandmother. As the only living relative of Corporal Smith, the news brought closure for him.

Manders said, “I remember growing up hearing my family talk about him, saying he really never had a chance. I always wondered, what do you mean he didn’t have a chance. Then my grandmother said he was killed in the war.” Manders added, “For my family and myself this is a huge relief and a big step towards closure.”

Even after years of no news, Manders always kept hope that he would be found. “Back in the fifties, all my grandmother got was a telegram saying he was listed MIA. I always had that feeling he would be discovered, I just didn’t know when,” said Manders.

Corporal Smith will reach his final resting place on August 17th. “I know there is a lot of people in this community that would enjoy the opportunity to come salute and pay their respects because he paid the ultimate sacrifice,” said Manders.

With over 7,000 soldiers still missing from the Korean War, Manders has words of advice for those still without answers. “Don’t give up hope. Don’t give it up. Because without hope what do we have, nothing.”

August 6--  Southeastern Technical College is proud to announce the 2019 summer semester President's List. These students earned a 3.75 GPA or higher for the semester:  

Candler County - Dana Googe, Howard Googe

Montgomery County - Sonny Bailey, Nancy Maldonado, Hunter Payton, Lonnie Whitaker

Toombs County - Robert Riner

Treutlen County - Ashley Lampp

For information on programs offered at STC, visit or call 912-538-3100 or 478-289-2200.

August 6--  Vidalia Police report the following arrests.

Gaffney, Antonio- B/M- 38 YOA- 801 Thompson St. Ext. Vidalia, GA- Disorderly Conduct (Bench Warrant)

Brewster, Misty Lea- W/F- 38 YOA- Homeless- Criminal Trespass, Willfully Obstruction of Police Officer Simple/Verbal, Possession of Drug Related Objects

Smith, Jim- B/M- 75 YOA- 607 Old Dairy Rd. Ailey, GA- Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (First)

Singleton, Leroy III- B/M- 26 YOA- 707 Thompson St. Vidalia, GA- Criminal Trespass

Brewer, Ben Kevin- B/M- 24 YOA- 2104 West Smalley Vidalia, GA- Loitering/Prowling

Mackey, Mitchell Jurell- B/M- 47 YOA- 301 E Mary St. Dublin, GA- Warrant Served (Toombs County- Probation)

Atkins, Daniel- B/M- 30 YOA- 800 Estelle Dr. Vidalia, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 2nd Offense (Bench Warrant)

Badie, Justin Sentell- B/M- 37 YOA- 408 Winona St. Vidalia, GA- Burglary (State Warrant)

Sanders, John Kelvin- W/M- 38 YOA- 245 Dr. Uvalda, GACriminal Trespass/Give False Name, Address, Birthdate to LE Officer/Warrant Served (Contempt of Court- New Mexico)

Ellis, Nichole Shereece- B/F- 42 YOA- 2200 Dykes Cir. Vidalia, GA- Dog Running Loose 1st- Nuisance (Bench Warrant)

Anderson, Chad- W/M- 21 YOA-115 Lannie Strickland Rd.- Reidsville, GA- Loitering and Prowling

Davis,Mary-32 YOA B/F-1208 Easter Drive Vidalia – Giving False Information/ Driving Handsfree /Fleeing,Attempting to Elude/ Stop Sign Viol./Reckless Driving/Suspended License

Towns, Johnny- 64 YOA B/M-708 Symonds St. Vidalia-Possession of Marijuana Less Than an Ounce/ Possession Of A Controlled Substance

Williams, Deremmus- 28 YOA-1208 Easter Drive Vidalia-Theft by Taking. (Warrant Served)

Jackson, Levalle/B/M- 43 YOA/637 College St. Ailey Ga. –Possesssion Less Than an Ounce (Misd)/Driving Due Care Hands Free (Misd)

Jackson, Jenee Michelle / B/F 40 YOA/637 College St. Ailey, Ga. –Possession Less Than Ounce

Myers,Kortni Marie W/F 31 YOA / 234 DL Durrence Rd Reidsville, Ga / Theft By Shoplifting 1st Offense (Misd)

Andrews, Christopher M-B/M-  44 YOA/ 114 Mclendon Rd. Vidalia, Ga- Disorderly Conduct

Emery, James William Jr. - B/M- 56 YOA- 405 Second St. Vidalia, GA- No Insurance 1st, Failure to Obey Stop/Yeild Sign, Driving While License Suspended or Revoked (Probation Warrant) 

Atkins, Kayana Ruth- B/F- 21 YOA- 1208 Easter Dr. Vidalia, GA- Driving With Expired Tag (Bench Warrant)

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Nikayla Wright, Lyons, accident-duty to report, speeding, failure to maintain lane

William Harrison McWhorter, Swainboro, DUI-Less safe, Possession of Methamphetamines, Possession of Marijuana less than ounce, Possession of drug related objects, Driving without license on person, Failure to maintain lane, Improper turn right or left

Samuel De Jesus Miranda-Juarez, Vidalia, Seatbelt violation 18 and up, driving while unlicensed

Julius Felton, Simpson, Vidalia, DUI-Combination 1 of 3, Failure to maintain lane, Open container, No proof of insurance, Forgery-1st degree

William Herman Gordy, Reidsville, DUI-Combination 1 of 3

Lavada Lee Kersey Booth, Helena, Driving while license suspended or revoked(first)

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Kayla Hatfield, Vidalia, Citation Arrest Warrant-Affray

Mitchell Hatfield, Vidalia, Citation Arrest Warrant-Affray

Christopher Joyner, Lyons, Citation Arrest Warrant- No Insurance

Allena McCoy, Alston, Citation Arrest Warrant-Safety Belts: Required usage, Reckless Driving, DUI/Alcohol/Less Safe

Angelica Porter, Lyons, Probation-Magistrate Warrant, Probation Violation-Misdemeanor

Jamie Toler, Lyons, Citation Arrest Warrant-Driving while license suspended or revoked-Felony(4th or over)

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

07/29-James Clay Ogletree, Uvalda, Driving w/Suspended License

07/31-Keith Lamont Snell, Mt Vernon, Possession of Controlled Substance w/Intent, Possession of Methamphetamine w/Intent, Possession of Cocaine w/Intent

07/31-Terry Antwan Williams, Mt Vernon, Possession of Controlled Substance w/Intent, Possession of Methamphetamine w/Intent, Possession of Cocaine w/Intent, Possession of Firearm by Convicted Felon, Theft by Receiving Stolen Firearm, Cruelty to Animals

07/31-Nicholas Nikita Monroe, Mt Vernon, Possession of Cocaine w/Intent, Possession of Firearm by Convicted Felon, Theft by Receiving Stolen Firearm, Cruelty to Animals

07/31-Abdullah Amaan Bashir, Atlanta, Felony Probation Violation

08/01-Roy Lee Loyd, Uvalda, Original Container, Tag Light Violation

08/02-Byron Shinholster, Uvalda, Theft by Taking, Criminal Trespass

08/02-Angelica Tenece Porter, Lyons, Speeding, Driving w/Suspended License

08/02-Jatoya Chantel Locke, Uvalda, DUI/Under 21yoa, Failure to Maintain Lane, Distracted Driving

08/04-Quincy Tyler Phillips, Soperton, DUI, Open Container

Aug 6--Sheriff Maybin reports: On July 22nd, Agents of the Savannah Regional Drug Enforcement Office assisted by the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and Mt. Vernon Police Department, arrested Timothy Jermaine Thomas of Mt. Vernon for Felony Possession of Marijuana, Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Distribute, and Possession of Drug Related Objects. The Savannah R.D.E.O. began an investigation after receiving information regarding suspicious activities of Thomas and items delivered through the United States Postal Service to his address.

Sheriff Maybin also reports the following: On July 31st, Mount Vernon Police Department assisted by the Oconee Drug Task Force and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office arrested Terry Antwan Williams, Keith Lamont Snell, and Nicholas Nikita Monroe all of Mt. Vernon.

These arrests resulted from an on-going drug investigation and information received from recent drug arrests and investigations by the Oconee Drug Task Force and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office. MVPD Chief Calvin Burns made a traffic stop which resulted in the recovery of multiple narcotics. The traffic stop was followed by additional searches in Mt. Vernon. The Oconee Drug Task Force, Mount Vernon Police Department and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office recovered more evidence of distribution (scales, baggies and a currency counter), more narcotics and a stolen firearm. Also found in the search was a large dog that was caged inside a building without access to food or water.

Williams was charged with Violation of the Georgia Controlled Substance Act (Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Distribute, Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Distribute and Possession of Hydrocodone with Intent to Distribute), as well as, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, theft by receiving a stolen firearm and cruelty to animals.

Snell was charged with Violation of the Georgia Controlled Substance Act (Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Distribute, Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Distribute and Possession of Hydrocodone with Intent to Distribute).

Monroe was charged with Violation of the Georgia Controlled Substance Act (Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Distribute), possession of firearm by a convicted felon, theft by receiving stolen firearm, and cruelty to animals.

Sheriff Maybin states, “we will continue to work diligently on the use and sale of narcotics in our county and I urge the citizens of Montgomery County to inform us of any illegal activity.”

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Nicholas Nikita Monroe Keith Lamont Snell Timothy Jermaine Thomas Terry Antwan Williams
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Drugs – Monroe, Snell, Williams Arrest Baggies, Scale, Currency Counter – Monroe, Snell, Williams Arrest Drugs – Timothy Jermaine Thomas Arrest

August 6--  The Director of the Georgia Labor Department Office in Vidalia believes the area generally has an adequate labor force, that the pay scale should be higher and that too many people are gaming the system when it comes to unemployment pay.

This area's unemployment rate is 5.4% compared to the statewide rate of 3.7% and Brenda MaCoy says that means there's enough labor here to support new industries, "I think we are prepared for that.  We have individuals going to the tech schools.  As we know, more is needed in the technical skills and we have seen that throughout the state."

MaCoy also told Vidalia Rotarians more than 4,000 people leave Toombs County everyday to work outside the county, "Over 4,000 are actually driving outside the area  to go to work.  We want to capture those individuals and pay them better so they won't leave to go outside.  We hear so many times,'We don't have anybody to work, we don't have the workforce,'  Well, obviously we have the workforce if 4,401 people are driving outside the area.  We've just got to find a way to capture those individuals to stay in the area," she said.

On the subject of fraud, "They have to be looking for work to draw unemployment benefits," she notes, but admits many people give lip service to job hunting and she wants them to be reported by prospective employers, "We have a fraud line that is set up.  We would like to know because it could be adjudicated and they could lose their benefits," she said.

MA Pinning Swainsboro Edited(Front Row L-R) Kandace Roberts, Kristen Stark McMillan (Second Row L-R) Crystal White, Quanisha Mack (Back Row) Kimberly Brown, Medical Assistant Program Director/InstructorAugust 5--  The Medical Assisting program on the Swainsboro campus of Southeastern Technical College (STC) held a pinning ceremony for its summer 2019 graduates on July 23.

The graduates were Kristen Stark McMillan, Kandace Roberts, and Crystal White from Swainsboro, and Quanisha Mack from Metter.

Medical Assisting Program Director Kimbie Brown congratulated and pinned the graduates. “I am extremely proud of this group of students. They have persevered through many obstacles over the last 18 months to successfully complete the coursework and requirements to graduate from the Medical Assisting program. Each of them will be an asset to the medical assisting profession throughout our serve area.”

STC’s Medical Assisting Program provides area clinics, hospitals, and other medical organizations with graduates who have a wide medical knowledge base and the skills to become invaluable team members. Medical assistants are multi-skilled allied health professionals dedicated to assisting with patient care management in an ambulatory care setting, such as physician's offices, clinics of all sizes, and other outpatient facilities. Whether performing administrative or clinical tasks, medical assistants are an important part of any health care setting, and Southeastern Tech’s program can open the door to these opportunities.

For more information on careers in Medical Assisting at STC, visit or call 912-538-3100 or 478-289-2200.

 Cathy Richardson and Della Lane 2 edited Press Release (L-R): Simply Hygiene Clinical Specialist Cathy Richardson presenting Professional Growth Award to Della Lane August 5--  Dental Hygiene student Della Lane was presented the Simply Hygiene Professional Growth Award.  

Being a great dental hygienist is more than just making the grade. With this award, Simply Hygiene takes the focus off the GPA and applauds a student that has overcome great obstacles to successfully complete the Dental Hygiene program.  

Many students have dealt with overcoming personal situations and working just a little bit harder. Della faced college dealing with incarcerated parents who battled addictions. What she lacked in emotional support and financial assistance, she gained in a support network from her STC family and our local community.   

“I interviewed dental hygienists when I got my teeth cleaned and it became my dream,” said Della.    Because of competitive admissions into the Dental Hygiene program and limited space in the class, Della was not accepted the first year she applied, but says, “I’ll always remember the day of my acceptance call a year later.”  

Then, what began as a discussion for a rental property with retired court reporter Kathy Lynn, turned into a friendship and mentorship for Della. Della said, “There are so many around us who truly care and I’m grateful to each of them. Mrs. Kathy is certainly one of those. She let me live with her during week days to go to school here so I didn’t have to commute from Hoboken. I hope to always make her proud.”

Della expressed the love she has for classmates and her instructors for playing such a large role in her success and emotional support. “Dr. Jennifer Gramiak supported me even thought I didn’t make it easy. She believed in me when I didn’t know how much farther I could go. My sister could tell me I could do it, but when my program director told me, I know she understood what I was going through in the classroom. I thank her for her patience. I thank Mrs. Melanie Bryson and Mrs. Lori DeFore for dedicating time for practice. They may have known that someone needed a little extra time, but we weren’t singled out. They did spend extra time with me on clinical skills. And Mrs. Kim Yongue for being so helpful and supportive,” said Della. Regarding her classmates, “I’m surprising shocked by the bond and closeness of our cohort. We supported one another. We’ve now planned a vacation trip together. Some introduced me to their bible study. I plan to stay in touch with each of them.”  

To honor STC’s shared commitment to the profession, the Simply Hygiene Professional Growth Award is a crystal vase with four distinct points representing pillars of success; encourage professional development, promote superior patient care, foster new careers, and help develop confidence and leadership skills.  

“The thing that separates Della from many students is that failure wasn’t an option. We can’t help the cards we’re dealt, but Della chose to finish and always took responsibility,” said Dr. Jennifer Gramiak, Program Director for STC Dental Hygiene. “There’s something to be said for perseverance. Others may quit or blame someone else, but not Della. She always kept a positive spirit and a smile on her face.”  
Della also had the desire to go above and beyond in patient care. With work and school, she found time to volunteer at events including career fairs and working the Georgia Baptist Association Mobile Dental Van.  

Despite it all, Della stayed positive in the face of adversity and went the extra mile to achieve academic success. She passed the Clinical Board July 19, making a grade of 100. She plans now to seek work in Waycross, close to her hometown, and continue to help others. “I’m drawn to help people. It makes me feel good. I’m empowered by my past instead of being embarrassed by what I couldn’t control. I know many students have similar situations and I want to encourage and motivate them,” said Della.  

Della’s message to other is, “Never give up. If I can, you can. Technical school made it cheaper and I got what I needed. I kept PELL and Hope the whole time and didn’t have to take out loans. I want others to see they can do college also. I’ve worked multiple jobs and many weekends to get through school. I’ll no longer have to work weekends!”  

 For more information on careers in Dental Hygiene or to schedule an appointment in our clinic, visit or call (912) 538-3100 or (478) 289-2200.

August 5--  Alliance Home Medical, a division of Meadows Health, has been named a finalist for this year’s HME (Home Medical Equipment) Excellence Award. The winners will be honored at a networking reception at the 2019 HME News Business Summit, September 22-24 at the Ritz-Carlton in Cleveland, Ohio.

This award recognizes the best medical equipment providers in the industry that provide incredible customer service, take pride in their employees, and make a difference in their communities. Judges evaluate company performance based on quality control, staffing, financial, and community involvement.

“On behalf of myself and my team, we are honored to be selected as a finalist,” said Johnny Carroll, Meadows Health Medical AVP Post Acute Care. “To be selected and recognized nationally in a world of many companies is a very big honor.”

“We are humbled and excited that Alliance Home Medical has been nominated as a finalist for this prestigious award,” said Meadows Regional Medical Center President and CEO, Alan Kent. “It reaffirms our dedication and service to our customers and the communities we serve. I could not be more proud of our staff.”

For more information about HME Excellence Awards, visit www.

Jessica Covington Daisy AwardLeft to right: Assistant Vice President of Quality and Process Improvement Robert Lummus; Chief Nursing Officer Jeffrey Harden; PCU RN Jessica Covington; Inpatient Clinical Supervisor Candace Floyd; President & CEO Alan Kent.August 5--  Jessica Covington, Meadows Regional Medical Center PCU RN, received the July DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses on Wednesday, July 17.

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

“Jessica is an outstanding clinician,” said Jeffrey Harden, Meadows Chief Nursing Officer. “She has served as a mentor for new employees, and always provides high-quality patient care. It is no surprise that two family members noticed her going the extra mile for their loved one in order to make her a little more comfortable. We are proud to have Jessica on our team.”

Covington has been employed with Meadows Regional Medical Center since 2014, and currently resides in Baxley.

August 5--  The effort to bring a golf course back to Vidalia is meeting with some success and organizers are extending the campaign to raise $500,000 to the end of August.

At the end of July, the campaign had raised more than 60% of the goal and one of the organizers, Vidalia businessman Michael Kay, is making an appeal for more people to join those who have already contributed, "A lot of people have stepped up to the plate.  A lot of people who don't even play golf have stepped up to the plate and a lot of people who've made a living off this community have gotten behind this push, but we need everybody to get behind it for the community,"

Kay believes a golf course is an economic development multiplier for the Sweet Onion City and notes the millions of dollars made over the years for worthy causes by charity golf tournaments.  He's also concerned about the signal it's sending future generations, "Strictly this is all for the community.  We've had one of the best golf programs in the country at Vidalia High School and for us not to even have a golf course anymore is completely unacceptable.

Vidalia High School Golf Coach Chad Barker says without a course in Vidalia, the future of the Indian golf teams is bleak, "The reason we need a golf course is to make sure our golf teams survive and that we are able to continue to compete at a high level.  Our high school has won 15 state golf championships and if a golf course is not built we're going to end up losing our golf program because the kids have nowhere to play," Coach Barker said.

If the goal is reached, a corporation governed by a volunteer board of directors will be formed to rebuild nine of the 18 holes at the former Rocky Creek Golf Course and, according to Kay, this is the last chance Vidalia has, "We just need everybody to get behind this.  We need every business to give something, no gift is too small, and if everybody gets behind it we can make this last push to get to our $500,000 goal.

Vidalia attorney Tom Everett is managing the escrow account and may be contacted via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

If the campaign is unsuccessful by the end of August, Everett will return donations to those who contributed.

By State Senator Jack Hill, Reidsville


The recent groundbreaking in Effingham County for a 290,000 square foot refrigerated warehouse by Americold only adds to the growing reputation of the Port of Savannah for speed and efficiency but also speaks volumes about the future of food logistics for our area.

The new refrigerated warehouse, located on industrial property in Effingham County just off I-16, will receive refrigerated produce from around the world and distribute in the U.S.

This is a big win for the Ports Authority, since most fresh produce has been coming into the U.S. on the East Coast at other ports. Savannah's reputation for fast service and its strategic geographic location is a huge part of this success story.


Once constructed, the warehouse offers the opportunity for further imports of fresh produce like grapes, kiwi, starfruit, mandarin oranges, apples, peas, onions and potatoes. All to complement an already fast growing export business for poultry and pork and agricultural commodities through Georgia's ports.

Americold, in the process of looking for a location for a Port location for the warehouse, discovered and purchased a location and an additional resource in the existing PortFresh 100,000 sq. ft. cold storage warehouse built in 2017, at industrial property in Effingham. So the new sister fresh cold storage warehouse will join the former PortFresh facility with extensive room (163 acres) to grow both as necessary.    


Americold owns and operates 156 facilities in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Argentina. They rank number 17 on the Transport Topics top 50 list of largest logistics companies in North America and number 2 on the Transport Topics list of top refrigerated warehousing firms.

The recent appointment by Gov. Kemp of Kent Fountain of Screven to the Board of the Ga. Ports Authority is important since he is a cotton and peanut farmer and processor and will represent agricultural interests in imports and exports.


The Georgia Council for the Arts is now accepting applications for the Vibrant Communities grant. This Arts Grant is aimed at counties who did not receive any previous FY 20 grant under the Project, Partner or Arts Education Programs. Checking the list, all counties in the Fourth District are eligible: Bulloch, Candler, Effingham, Emanuel, Evans and Tattnall.

Vibrant Communities funds programs such as performances, exhibits, residencies, workshops, festivals and others. The grant is open to any nonprofit organization, government entity, library, school, college or university located in an eligible county.


Applicants may request $1000 to $5000 but the grant requires a cash match.

The Council for the Arts is offering a vibrant communities applicant training webinar on August 8 at 10:00 a.m. Registration is at   


The Department of Natural Resources has published the 2019-2020 Georgia Hunting Seasons and Regulations both online and in print. This guide gives a complete picture of season dates, bag limits, hunting licenses, wildlife management quotas, youth opportunities and a lot more.

This guide is available at: Also, if you live near a DNR Office, you can pick one up there as well as at some vendors of licenses.

Here are some of the major changes to hunting regulations this year:

--New Public Hunting Opportunities-Several new or additional properties will be available, including Canoochee Sandhills WMA (Bulloch/Bryan Counties), Bullard Creek WMA (Appling County), Rum Creek WMA (Monroe County), Berry Creek Area (Monroe County) and Lanahassee WMA (Webster County). More info at

--Air Guns are legal weapons for hunting big game during primitive weapons and firearms seasons. DNR suggests reviewing definitions and restrictions.

--Extended Archery Season and additions-Bibb, Chatham, Clarke and Henry have been added to the list of counties where archery season is open until Jan. 31.

--Bears-Central Zone hunt moved to third Saturday in December. Camden County was added to the Southern Bear Zone.

--Deer-Either Sex Days-The number of either-sex days increased for Banks, Franklin and Hart Counties and decreased for counties in the Mountains and Ridge Valley regions. All Chattahoochee National Forest lands east of I-75 are closed to antlerless deer hunting during archery, primitive weapons and firearms deer seasons.


--Quail/Rabbit Opening Date-Nov.16, 2019

--Crow Season (Who knew?) Nov. 2, 2019-Feb. 28, 2020

--Ossabaw Island Either-Sex Deer Quota (Nov. 28-30, 2019) is a Youth Hunt, not available to adults

For more info, go to

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

August 2--  Vidalia Police report the following arrests.

Mitchell,Mark Lendon-50 YOA –B/M 1208 Easter Drive, Apt 17. Vidalia, Ga. Driving On Suspended, /License/Speeding/
Warrant Served

Lee, Malik Juwan – 20 YOA – B/M – 803 Aimwell Rd Vidalia ,No Drivers License / Stop Sign Violation

Brinson, Michael Lamar-B/M 24 YOA -606 Mike Str. Vidalia, Ga. /No Drivers License (30 Resident Requirement) /Driving Due Care Hands Free

Rosen, William Anthony- W/M- 31 YOA- 1327 Edwin Street Soperton, GA- Warrant Served (Treutlen Co SO- State)

Robertson, Kamyah Shontell- B/F- 20 YOA- 406 N. Tacetrack Road Swainsboro, GA- Battery/Cruelty to Children (FVA)

Corouthers, Milton Jr. –B/M- 43 YOA- 907 Scott Dr. Vidalia, GA-Simple Battery

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

White, Terrence Dwayne- W/M- 44 YOA- 701 Laurel Dr. Vidalia, GA- Warrant Served (Treutlen Co SO- Bench)

Muniz, Martin Geronimo- H/M- 43 YOA- 171 Tina St. Lyons, GA- Failure to Obey Stop/Yeild Sign, No Driver’s License

Edge, JonPaul- W/M- 28 YOA- 1810 Taylor Springs Rd. Vidalia, GA- Theft by Shoplifting 1st Offense

Cates, Randa Lynn- W/F- 40 YOA- 112 Salt Creek Road Lot 24 Savannah, GA- Warrant Served (Savannah PD)

Mainer, John- B/M- 59 YOA- 902 Jungle Rd Vidalia, GA Failure to Maintain Lane/DUI- 1st Offense/Possession of Marijuana Less Than Ounce/Open Container

Cason, Leon- B/M- 50 YOA- 307 Thompson Street Vidalia, GA- Theft of Lost or Mislaid Property

Lyons Police Chief Wesley Walker reports the following arrests.

Frederick Simunovic, Hialeah, FL., Loitering/prowling

Nikayla Wright, Lyons, accident-duty to report, speeding, failure to maintain lane

Lirio Lomas, Metter, driving unlicensed, improper lane use

Samuel Miranda-Jaurez, Vidalia, driving unlicensed, seat belt viiolation

Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight reports the following arrests.

Mark Allen, Baxley, probation violation

Ryan Allen, Hazlehurst, probation violation

James Boggs, Hagan, driving while license suspended, speeding

Lavell Holland, Lyons, probation violation

Bryant Hollis, Lyons, stalking

Tyrek Lee, Vidalia, probation violation

Antonio Martinez, Statesboro, driving unlicensed

Silas Smith, Uvalda, obstruction

Steve Strickland, Lyons, failure to appear

James Taylor, Vidalia, burglary, theft by taking

Shawn Thomas, Lyons, probation violation

Montgomery County Sheriff Doug Maybin reports the following arrests.

07/22-Timothy Jermaine Thomas, Mount Vernon, Possession of Drug Related Objects, Possession of Marijuana w/Intent to Distribute, Possession of Marijuan

07/24-Nelson Hermino Hernandez, Vidalia, Burglary-1st, Theft by Taking (2 counts)

07/24-Ashley Jonee Claxton, Mount Vernon, Driving w/Suspended License, Child Restraint Violation, Seatbelt Violation, No Tag

07/26-Cynthia Louise Conner, Statesboro, Bench Warrant

07/28-Michael Eugene Collins, Albany, DUI, Failure to Maintain Lane

August 2 — In the wake of 2 recent and related recalls, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is advising consumers to avoid buying or feeding all pig ear pet treats… and for retailers to stop selling these products.

Pig Ear Dog Treats

What Caused the FDA Alert?

Together with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the FDA is investigating a suspected link between pig ear pet treats and human cases of salmonellosis.

As of July 31, 2019, the CDC reports that there are now 127 cases of human infection tied to exposure to pig ear pet treats with Salmonella.

Twenty-six people have been hospitalized. There are no reported deaths.

The FDA has traced back some of the pig ear treats associated with cases of illness to sources in Argentina and Brazil.

Human Salmonella Outbreak
Now Includes 33 States

The growing human Salmonella outbreak related to contaminated pig ears treats now includes the following states:

Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin.

CDC Salmonella Outbreak Map
Updated July 31, 2019

People infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella related to contaminated pig ears treats by state of residence:

CDC Salmonella Outbreak Map for July 31 2019

August 1--  The principal at Vidalia High School says the Georgia Milestones Report which reports academic performance of students doesn't accurately reflect the story at Vidalia High School.

The state report showed most Vidalia students were not proficient in seven of eight subjects, however, Principal John Sharpe says that's because the state report doesn't include end of course scores for "all students."

"Basically the state only reports scores from the Spring so all of our students who took Milestones tests the first half of the year at Christmas were not included in that data while data that we do is compiled for the whole year. 

"Also, one of the things that skewed our results is that all of our students who are in need of support take the Milestones all year long and are tested in the Spring so our lowest achieving students are the ones who test in Spring and that skews our data.

"Another is that our 9th grade honor students take three of the Milestones subjects, 9th grade Algebra, 9th grade Literature and Physical Science in the 8th grade and they're not included in that data the state reports.  These are our top achieving students and when you add those in once they get to the 9th grade it shows a different score because we're taking the top third of our 9th grade students and they're not counted in the report which the state sends," Sharpe said.

Bottom line is that when you include all students who took the tests, the results in most cases are much different, "Overall we look at the scores from a longitudinal perspective and we are up on six of eight milestones.  There are still some areas where we need to improve.  We look at data and the teachers really buy into it and the teachers want to see that every student has the opportunity to achieve their full potential," he noted.

The school provided the following chart showing comparisons of this year's Milestones percentages compared to last year.  Beginning learners do not demonstrate proficiency in the subject, developing learners demonstrate only partial proficiency, proficient learners are prepared for the next grade level and are on track for college and career readiness, distinguished learners are well prepared.


9th Grade Literature


Level I


Level II


Level III


Level IV












*The state report shows a Level I/Level II total of 57% in 2019.  The school's report totals 48%.                      

American Literature


Level I


Level II


Level III


Level IV












*The state report shows a Level I/Level II total of 100% in 2019.  The school's report totals 66%.


Algebra I


Level I


Level II


Level III


Level IV












  *The state report shows a Level I/Level II total of 82% in 2019.  The school's report totals 69%.



Level I


Level II


Level III


Level IV












*The state report shows a Level I/Level II total of 67% in 2019.  The school's report totals 62%.


Physical Science


Level I


Level II


Level III


Level IV












*The state report shows a Level I/Level II total of 87% in 2019.  The school's report totals 74%.



Level I


Level II


Level III


Level IV












 *The state report shows a Level I/Level II total of 30% in 2019.  The school's report totals 23%.

Social Studies

US History


Level I


Level II


Level III


Level IV












 *The state report shows a Level I/Level II total of 71% in 2019.  The school's report totals 72%.



Level I


Level II


Level III


Level IV












*The state report shows a Level I/Level II total of 74% in 2019.  The school's report totals 74%.

August 1-- Georgia Public Library Service (GPLS) is proud to launch eRead Kids, a new digital library available through all 407 public libraries in the state. The collection of almost 15,000 electronic and audio books is for children from pre-k through fourth grade. 

“Kids will build confidence and reading skills - and have fun - through eRead Kids,” said State Librarian Julie Walker. “eRead Kids will empower libraries to support young readers by offering a format convenient for traveling and entertaining kids, while growing their reading skills.” 

The collection is a mix of fiction and non-fiction ebook and audio book titles that can be downloaded onto computers, tablets and smartphones. 

All Georgia families now can freely check out electronic books for their devices, encouraging the early reading that is so important to educational success.

GPLS has worked with children’s librarians across the state to select titles and identify the most advantageous offerings and pricing. eRead Kids is made possible by funding proposed by Gov. Brian Kemp and approved by the Georgia General Assembly. 

“At GPLS, we strive to create programs that can be shared by all of our libraries, urban and rural, large and small. We can create economies of scale by leveraging our buying power for materials and services for statewide use,” said Walker.

To access eRead Kids, you simply need your Georgia public library card and an internet connection. Visit or your local library to learn more.

August 1-- Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said Thursday that the Heart of Georgia region saw fewer new claims for unemployment filed in June.

Preliminary results showed the 17-county area also saw its number of employed residents and labor force decrease in June. 

“Georgia’s been in an extended growth cycle,” said Butler. “In June, our state and local communities added jobs and employed more people.”

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.

In the region, the unemployment rate rose in June by 0.7 percentage points, settling at 5.4 percent. A year ago, the rate was 5.3 percent.

The labor force decreased in June by 1,168. The June total was 116,389. That number is down by 1,462 from the total from June 2018.  

The Heart of Georgia region ended June with 110,140 employed residents.  The number decreased by 1,949 in June and fell by 1,406 as compared to last June.

The number of unemployment claims dropped in June by about 11 percent. When compared to last June, claims were down by about 34 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 741 active job postings in Heart of Georgia  region for June.

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.

August 1--  According to the latest Georgia Milestones Report on academic performance, Vidalia High School students who are not taking part in dual enrollment courses are having a difficult time with proficiency in their classes.

Assistant School Superintendent Ginger Morris says, "Those students we pull out for dual enrollment for college classes do really, really well," but the Milestone report shows that non-dual enrollment students in six out of seven subject areas need help to meet proficiency standards at the next grade level.

The only subject where the majority of those students shows proficiency is Biology.

In American Literature and Composition, fully 100% need help, 87% need help in Physical Science, 82% in Algebra 1, 74% in Economics, 71% in U.S. History and 67% in Geometry.

Because the scores of all the students are not reflected in the Milestones report, Morris believes it's not a true reflection of the overall academic performance at the high school, "Because of dual enrollment and the high school credit in the middle school and how that affects what the overall score looks like, the grade or the raw date doesn't truly reflect the good work that's going on in the school system.  We always encourage our stakeholders to come in and visit and watch a class because I think we're phenomenal in so many different areas.  There's always room for growth because we always want to be moving forward, but we've got a lot of good things going on."