NOV. 1, 2016
Tifton, Georgia

Georgia voters are facing four  proposed amendments to the state constitution when they go the polls, which are now open. Early voting ends in Georgia at 5 p.m. Friday, when the polls will be closed until election day Tuesday, when they will be open 7 a.m.-7 p.m.

Many Georgians are perplexed about the constitutional amendments they are facing on the ballot, and the wording can be confusing.
Here is a synopsis:


Shall the Georgia Constitution be amended to provide greater flexibility and state accountability to fix failing schools through increasing community involvement?

This is the "Opportunity School District" authorizing the governor to create a statewide school district, with its own appointed superintendent, composed of schools "determined to be failing."

This proposal has been controversial. Gov. Nathan Deal is promoting the amendment, saying it will benefit Georgia's most vulnerable students by focusing attention and resources where needed. Opponents charge that is a "power grab" by the governor and that local control would be diminished, with the state and private companies given control of local "failing" schools.


Shall the Georgia Constitution be amended to authorize penalties for sexual exploitation and assessments on adult entertainment to fund child victims' services?

The amendment creates additional fines for people convicted of certain crimes, and adds a new fee for adult entertainment businesses. Agencies, faith-based organizations and non-profit groups providing services to child victims of sex trafficking could apply to the "Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund."


Shall the Georgia Constitution be amended to reform and re-establish the Judicial Qualifications Commission and provide for its composition, governance, and powers?

The amendment replaces the current independent commission with one whose members would be picked by the governor and two legislators -- the Senate president and the House speaker.  The Judicial Qualifications Commission is a disciplinary group that investigates judges' conduct and may remove them from office.


Shall the Georgia Constitution be amended to dedicate revenue from existing taxes on fireworks to trauma care, fire services, and public safety?

The amendment could direct more funds toward trauma care, firefighter equipment/training and local public safety agencies.

The Georgia Supreme Court ruled Monday that guns are prohibited  on school property unless a person is picking up or dropping off a student.

The case involved two conflicting bills that the General Assembly passed and the governor signed in 2014

House Bill 826 allowed licensed gun owners to bring weapons onto school property. But one day after signing that law, the governor signed House Bill 60, which only allowed guns on school property when someone is dropping off or picking up a student.

Because the two laws "cannot 'reasonably stand together,' the later enacted bill controls," the high court ruled.


Home Free, the a cappella singing group whose members include Tifton's own Austin Brown, is  re-releasing its holiday album on Nov. 11.

Renaming the album  "Full of (Even More) Cheer," it  includes  new songs, new packaging and new vocals. There is a  full studio version of "Colder Weather" and a version of "How Great Thou Art."

The latter song has a new video filmed in the Swiss Alps when the band was  on tour in Austria.

Check out the video below:

By the way, Home Free is starting its " A Country Christmas Tour" on Nov. 9 in Green Bay, Wis. 

Sorry -- the tour is not coming to Georgia; the closest performance is in Tennessee.

Take the stress out of the holiday!

We can prepare a full family dinner for you to pick up ~ with turkey, ham, cornbread dressing, cranberry sauce, giblet gravy, butter beans, sweet potato soufflé, cream corn, rolls, pecan pie & pumpkin pie.

It is not too soon to plan for Thanksgiving.
We are  taking orders now! 
Call me at 229-392-2913.
Orders may be picked up on the evening of Nov. 23 ~
the night before Thanksgiving.
BJ is also taking orders for Pecan Pies, Pumpkin Pies, Sweet Potato Pies, Pound Cakes, Caramel Cakes and Coconut Cakes.

Call us: 

BJ's at Springhill 
     "Where Everyone is Welcome!"

         5 E. Springhill Road, Tifton


The husband and wife duo of Scotty Phillips and Sara Eastwood perform at 7 p.m. today, Tuesday, Nov. 1, during "A Night of Woodwinds" at the First Tuesday Concert Series in the Chapel of All Faiths at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. 

This free concert is open to the public.

Phillips is a saxophonist who has been acclaimed and heard in performances across  the United States, Canada , and Europe . He recently performed at 
Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall and has appeared as a soloist with the Florida State University Wind Orchestra, the Flagstaff Symphony, the National Music Festival Orchestra and the Taneycomo Festival Orchestra.

Phillips has taught master classes at ABAC, Oklahoma State University and in Poland. He is currently a freelance woodwind player and private teacher based in Orlando.  He has a doctorate of musical arts in performance.

Sara Eastwood, an instructor of saxophone and clarinet for the ABAC music program, maintains an active career as a recitalist, orchestral musician and educator. She recently received her doctorate of musical arts in performance from the Florida State University School of Music. She also teaches woodwind students at ABAC.

A Michigan native, Eastwood maintains a private studio in the Tallahassee area and resides in Orlando.

The First Tuesday series, now in its 15th year, features regional professional artists on the first Tuesdays of five months during the year.  For information, email


The weather was great for the 2016 Georgia Sweet Potato Festival last Saturday in Ocilla. The First Place winner among floats in the annual parade is Sunny Dale Training Center, pictured above. 


Shelby Whitfield was a double winner in the  Tift County 4-H Pumpkin Decorating Contest at Tiftarea Academy.

The 4-H'er received First Place -- Fifth Grade in the contest for "Pumpkin Snoopy" and also received the award for Best All Around.


On  Monday evening, hundreds of costumed folks stopped at merchants along Main Street for Tifton's annual Halloween safe trick-or-treating

Many pounds of candy was given out to a variety of little goblins, princesses and super-heroes.

"Best-Selling Truck for 39 Straight Years"
511 West 7th Street
(229) 382-1300

Pecan and cotton crops took the brunt of the agricultural hit by Hurricane Matthew, and Southeast Georgia pecan and cotton farmers are still assessing the damage.

"The one crop that experienced extensive damage was pecans," said Wade Parker, Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) program development coordinator for University of Georgia Cooperative Extension's Southeast District.

"There were two ways that they were impacted: Multiple, multiple trees have been blown over and a lot of the green pecans that were in the trees were blown onto the ground as well. This came at the worst time; we can't pick up the pecans and begin to harvest because we have so many trees on the ground."

Lenny Wells, UGA Extension pecan specialist at the UGA Tifton Campus, said the worst damage occurred along a line from Appling County through Tattnall and up into Screven counties.

With more than $12 million worth of pecans spread over 7,000 acres, Tattnall County was the sixth highest-grossing county for pecans in Georgia in 2014, according to the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development. Production will slip this year and the damage could have a lasting impact, said Tattnall County ANR agent Chris Tyson.

Parker said that farmers who have experienced pecan damage can apply for federal cleanup funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency (FSA). They are encouraged to go to their local FSA office and apply.

"The storm will affect the overall yield for Georgia, but it's hard to say exactly how much. There's a significant amount of production in the eastern part of the state, but it's definitely not the hub of pecan production in Georgia. The losses will definitely cut down on overall yields some," Wells said.

Pecans are a big industry in Georgia. They are the 10th highest-grossing commodity in the state, bringing in more than $300 million in 2014.

"Outside of areas where the storm hit, production looks good this year," Wells said. "From the visual size of the crop, it looks like one of the best years we've had in quite a few years."


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