March 15, 2016
        Tifton, Georgia

   (478) 227-7126


U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., announced the winners of the 2016 Congressional Art Competition at an awards ceremony and reception on Sunday, March 13, at the Colquitt County Arts Center in Moultrie.
First Place winner Sophie Anderson with U.S. Rep. Austin Scott.

The winners are:
FIRST PLACE:  "Looking to the Future" by Sophie Anderson from Thomas County Central High School She receives a trip to Washington, D.C., to attend the National Congressional Art Competition Awards reception in June and to see her artwork hanging in the U.S. Capitol. The winner will also be eligible for a scholarship from Savannah College of Art and Design.

SECOND PLACE:  "Paradise" by Kristina Galeano from Lowndes High School in Valdosta The second place winner will display her artwork in the congressman's Tifton District office for one year.
THIRD PLACE:  "Smell My Feet" by Shelby Stamback from Perry High School The third place winner will display her artwork in the Warner Robins congressional district office for one year.
PEOPLE'S CHOICE AWARD:  "Snow Train" by Logan Hambrick from Perry High School.  The People's Choice Award was chosen by constituents across the Eighth Congressional District through Congressman Scott's facebook page. The winner will display his artwork in the Washington office for one year. 
HONORABLE MENTIONS:  "Go" by  Paige Gates of Tift County High School; "Tiger" by  Brooke Carrington of Tift County High School; and "Birdie" by  Grayson Durham of Thomasville High Scholars Academy.


When qualifying for political office ended Friday, Congressman Austin Scott, R-Ga., of Tifton received opposition from his own party; business owner  Angela Hicks of Macon is challenging Scott in the 8th District Republican primary. 

The GOP nominee for Congress will then face a Democrat,  James Neal Harris, who is a private investigator from Gray, in the November election.

In Tift County races of note, Tift  County Commissioners Grady Thompson,   Melissa Hughes and  Buck
Rigdon have no opposition for re-election.

But Kim Rutland, chair of the Tift County Board of Education, is being challenged by local businessman Jonathan Jones. Another contested race involves Amy Johnson and John Waddell both seeking election to the Tift BOE District 3 seat.

Incumbent Sheriff Gene  Scarborough  is being challenged by  Steve Wood.  
And the open  Clerk of Superior Court position has four candidates:   Charleston Carter, Gail Taylor Drayton,  Ken Dunn and  Clay Pate.

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Because March is National Peanut Month, the Georgia peanut industry is celebrating by hosting the annual PB&J Day at the Georgia Capitol in Atlanta on Wednesday, March 16.

Plenty of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, along with grilled PB&Js, country-fried peanuts, boiled peanuts and more will be given out.

"Peanuts are Georgia's official state crop, and the state boasts the largest share of peanut production in the U.S. at 57 percent for the 2015 crop," says Armond Morris, chairman of the Georgia Peanut Commission. "Georgia's 3,500 peanut farmers contribute approximately $1.25 billion annually to the state and local economy."

The Georgia Peanut Commission and Peanut Proud will also donate 10,080 jars of peanut butter to the Atlanta Community Food Bank during the event. The Atlanta Community Food Bank (ACFB) provides food and grocery products to more than 600 nonprofit partner agencies with hunger relief programs throughout 29 counties in metro Atlanta and North Georgia. 

"A recent study of our service area showed that 80,600 people are served each week by programs supported through ACFB including food pantries, local community kitchens, women's and children's shelter, and homeless shelters among others. Peanut butter is a very nutritious and important product to those clients because it has a stable shelf life," says Ben Burgess of the Food Bank. "One jar can make several meals for a family or individual in need. That means this donation will help the nearly 20 percent of Georgian residents and the one in four children in the state who are food insecure, meaning they don't always know where their next meal is coming from." 

Coincidentally, March is National Nutrition Month; one serving of peanuts is a good source of protein, vitamin E, niacin, folate, phosphorus and magnesium. Peanuts are naturally cholesterol-free and low in saturated fat.

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The American Red Cross has scheduled blood drives in the area; especially needed are donations of blood types O negative, A negative and B negative, as well as platelets and type AB plasma.

Local blood drives include:

Thursday, March 17: 2-7 p.m., Turner County Civic Center, 601 E. Madison St., Ashburn
Friday, March 18: 3-7 p.m., Margaret Jones Library, 205 E. Pope St., Sylvester
March 22: 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Bell Plantation, 7902 Magnolia Industrial Boulevard, Tifton
March 23: 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Southern Regional Technical College, 52 Tech Drive, Tifton
March 29: 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, 2802 Moore Highway, Tifton
March 31: 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Dorminy Medical Center, 200 Perry House Road, Fitzgerald; 3 p.m.-7 p.m., Omega Baptist Church, 219 Oak St., Omega

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1984 Women's basketball state champions are, from left, Coach Keith Barr, Sheila Williams, Terri Lee, Lisa Howard. Rose Wilcher, Patricia Mitchell, Cynthia Hargrove, Jernese Thomas, Allison Handley, Glenda Maddox and Peggy McConnell.


On the night of March 3, 1984, Keith Barr had to be the happiest man in Tifton. His Golden Fillies basketball team at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College had just beaten Emmanuel College, 62-60, in Gressette Gym to win the first women's state basketball title in ABAC's history.

"It feels unbelievable," Barr said at the time. "Unreal. Winning the state title won't hit me until tomorrow morning."

In his third year as the head coach of the Fillies, Barr guided the team to a 20-8 record, the state championship and a seventh place finish in the National Junior College Athletic Association tournament in Senatobia, Miss. 

Barr and the team will be honored April 1 when they will be inducted into the 2016 class of the ABAC Athletics Hall of Fame at the Alumni Association Homecoming Awards Dinner in Gressette Gym. Tickets to the 6 p.m. ceremony are $30. The event also includes top award winners from the ABAC Alumni Association as a part of the 2016 Homecoming Week activities. 

Tickets may be purchased from the ABAC College Advancement Office at 229-391-4895. The ticket deadline is March 21. There will be no tickets sold at the event.


In response to a growing number of people entering the pecan business in Georgia, the University of Georgia is hosting a pecan production workshop for farmers just getting into the business. 

 UGA Cooperative Extension pecan specialist Lenny Wells wants to help growers get all of the information they need at the workshop on Monday, April 11.

"The main thing we are trying to do is meet the demand we've had for the information," Wells said.

The free workshop is open to the public and will begin at 9 a.m. in the old auditorium at the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center. It will last until 4 p.m. There will be snacks and a meal provided.

The workshop will cover the growth of different varieties, best irrigation and fertility practices, and information about the planning and equipment needed to grow pecans.  A similar workshop was held in 2012, and it was well received. Wells hopes to see similar results again this year.

"We do hope that we can reach people new to the pecan business," said Wells. "The pecan production workshop is for people who are new to pecans, those who feel like they need more information and for people who might be interested in growing pecans in the future."

Farmers interested in attending may call Debbie Rutland at 229-386-3424 to reserve their space.


With warmer weather, Georgia's mosquito season will soon be here. Each year, entomologists and public health officials urge Georgians to help keep the state's mosquito population in check by eliminating mosquito habitats from their yards

This year the remote chance of a Southeastern U.S. outbreak of Zika -- a mosquito-borne virus now prevalent in parts of South America -- has them doubling down on their message. 

"Mosquitoes aren't active in Georgia yet, but it's not too soon to start eliminating containers that collect water and getting into the habit of dumping them out," said Eric Jens, a risk communicator with the Georgia Department of Public Health

There's a limited risk of a large-scale outbreak of Zika here, but further reducing that risk requires only basic mosquito control practices. Eliminating standing water and trimming back vegetation will reduce populations of nuisance mosquitoes this summer as well as disease-transmitting species, making outdoor spaces more pleasant for summer evenings to come. 

"I would advise caution. People need to be aware that standing water produces mosquitoes and that mosquitoes can transmit diseases that are preventable," said Elmer Gray, an entomologist with University of Georgia Cooperative Extension

"Everyone needs to work to eliminate standing water, make sure their screens are intact this spring, use Environmental Protection Agency-approved mosquito repellents according to their directions and wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothes to minimize exposure." 

Eliminating larval habitats, where possible, is the key to reducing populations.

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