July 11, 2017 
Tifton, Georgia

Tifton Grapevine

Plans are moving forward for a proposed $15.5 million  project  to build a new Fine Arts Building and to renovate the 
Carlton Center at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton. 

Last Friday, July 7, the  Board of Regents of the Univer sity System of Georgia  issued requests for qualifications from companies to design the project. A selection committee will determine the qualified finalists, who will then need to submit formal  proposals  by September.

"Our focus for 2018 will be to build a fine arts building on the front of the campus," ABAC President David Bridges said recently.
Weltner Hall, site of the proposed Fine Arts Building, is No. 5 above left. The Carlton Center is located at No. 22, upper right on the map.
"We have the design money this year from the Legislature, and I hope we will see construction begin late in the calendar year 2018. We also want to repurpose the Carlton Center, and we have some good ideas on how to do that," Bridges said.

Construction of a 24,000 gross-square-foot Fine Arts Building along ABAC's "Sweetheart Circle" at the front of the campus will allow consolidation of the college's arts programs in one location for the first time in the institution's history. 

Currently these programs, which are part of one academic department, are spread across campus in different buildings.

"The music program is housed in a space (formerly the library) that is too small and very poorly suited for music," the Board of Regents noted in its design request. "Art is currently located in another building along with human sciences and the South Georgia Police Academy. 

"Music and theatre both use the Howard Auditorium and the Drigger Lecture Hall for rehearsal space. The new facility will
replace existing Weltner Hall, which has a prominent location along ABAC's historic Sweetheart Circle. The new building will need to be compatible with the historic buildings along front campus."

The Carlton Center, constructed in 1989, has approximately 61,000 gross square feet and is planned to be renovated to consolidate learning resources and student services into one location at the center of campus. "The consolidation of programs into one building and into a central location will increase student use and reduce overall cost of operations," the Board of Regents wrote in its design qualification request.

"Programs such as the library, student learning, academic support, academic assistance, testing, student development, financial aid, student financial services, counseling, dean of students, student media services, registrar, and the Veterans Center functions will all be housed within a newly renovated Carlton Center," according to the Regents document. " While the building is structurally sound, mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems need upgrading and/or replacement."

The  project  also includes  interior wall modifications and "a major re-working" of the Carlton Center's main entrance.

While the total ABAC project is estimated at  $15,550,000, the Board of Regents notes that  the final  amount may change based upon such factors as program requirements and funding availability.


Approximately 40 percent of children locally and regionally are at the poverty level, and Georgia must find a way to get them access to affordable health care, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle said Monday at Tift Regional Medical Center (TRMC) in Tifton.

Cagle  made the comments during the third meeting of the  Georgia  Health Care Reform Task Force,  whose meeting was hosted by TRMC.

"Statewide, our poverty rate among children hovers at about 25 percent. In 40 counties, including right here in Tift County, 40 percent or more of our kids are living in poverty," Cagle said. 

"It is up to us to find solutions that allow hard-working Georgians to keep more of what they earn. And as our work with the Health Care Reform Task Force continues, it will be up to us to work with issuers, providers and stakeholders in every community of our state to innovate and lower the costs of care, premiums and deductibles so that our families have access to the care we need at a price we can all afford," the lieutenant governor said.

Cagle was joined by several state senators, along with representatives from Tift Regional Medical Center, Emory University and Dr. Keith J. Mueller, the interim dean of the College of Public Health at the University of Iowa. Task Force members discussed policies that could help elevate Georgia as a leader in advancing patient-centered health care reforms.  

"We greatly appreciate this group and their resolve to tackle the current challenges facing healthcare in our state. Tift Regional is also proud to present to this group some of the innovative programs we have launched in order to better address common healthcare issues among rural Georgians," said William T. Richardson, president and CEO of Tift Regional Health System.

The next meeting of the Health Care Reform Task Force will be Aug. 28 in Northwest Georgia.


Executive Chef David Scarbrough of Tifton's The Local Kitchen + Bar restaurant on  Main Street is once again seeking to compete against other chefs to determine  "Georgia's Best Shrimp & Grits" at the annual Jekyll Island Shrimp & Grits Festival.

You can help your favorite restaurants qualify for the final competition. Online voting for the top restaurant from each  Georgia region ends this  Friday, July 14, at 5 p.m.  Voters may cast a ballot a maximum of once per day. To vote, Click Here!

The chef/restaurant with the most votes in each region will be named regional champion and advance to the Georgia's Best Shrimp & Grits competition to compete against other regional winners at  11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 17 in Jekyll Island.

The Local's entry can be found under the "Plantation Trace" region.

The annual  Jekyll Island Shrimp & Grits Festival  is a quintessentially Southern, one-of-a-kind tradition celebrating one of Georgia's most beloved dishes -- shrimp and grits. The 2017 festival  will be  Sept. 15-17.


Return to the 1970s for one night only as t he Tifton-Tift County Public Library Foundation  brings  to Tifton "Face2Face: The Billy Joel-Elton John Tribute."

The fundraiser for the Library Foundation will be on Thursday, Sept. 21, at the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center. As in past years, there will be an optional dinner before the concert.
Taking turns at an onstage piano, the dual imperson ators of the Billy  Joel-Elton John Face2Face Tribute show conjure the  piano men in both sound and image. Backed by his band The Str angerMike Santoro, a  Levittown,  N.Y., native flashes his fingers up and down the keys before he  jumps up to grab the mic to belt out such high-ener gy Billy Joel classics as "Only the Good Die Young" and " Uptown Girl."

For the second half of  the show, Ronnie Smith dons the  iconic sunglasses  and bedazzled suits of a young Elton John as he charts his  style from the 19 70s to  the present. Bittersweet anthems such as " Rocket Man" mix with more whimsical material such as " Crocodile Rock" and " Bennie and the Jets."

Guests will get the chance to dance the night away to the string of hits by both artists.

Sponsors will be able to reserve tables soon. More information will be forthcoming in the next few weeks.

For information, call Foundation President Frank Sayles Jr. at 478-227-7126.

Tift Regional Health System (TRHS) invites all women to attend a free lunch-and-learn seminar on women's health issues on July 20, noon to 1 p.m., at the Tift Regional Community Events Center in Tifton.

The seminar, a part of the TRHS Rejuvenate Women's Health Series, will feature two speakers: general surgeon Tracy Nolan, M.D., and registered dietitian Lauren Saxena, RD, LD, CLC.
Dr. Nolan, a board-certified general surgeon with South Georgia Surgical, will discuss "Women: When is it Time for Surgery?" Women who are dealing with issues such as chronic fatigue, irritation, mood swings, depression or unexplained weight loss or gain may have a disease and not even know it. Common disorders affecting women include diseases of the thyroid, breast and skin. What are the symptoms for these conditions, what are treatment options and when is surgery appropriate? Dr. Nolan will provide the answers at this event.   
Saxena, a registered dietitian with TRHS and Affinity Pediatrics, will provide a presentation titled "Food and Diet Trends: What is Fact and What is Fiction?"  Women are concerned about eating right, getting-in-shape and staying fit. But, sometimes, it's easy to get wrapped-up in the health trends of the moment. From magazine articles to national news segments, these food and exercise trends seem to come out of nowhere and dominate the national psyche. Registered Dietitian Lauren Saxena will discuss what trends are legitimate and what are hype, providing advice on a true healthy lifestyle. 
This event is free and includes a complimentary meal. Seating is limited and registration is required. To register, call 229-353-6316 or visit the calendar of events at  The Tift Regional Community Events Center is located in Tifton at 1657 South Carpenter Road, connected to the Tiftarea YMCA


Pennsylvania-based American Textile Co., a producer of name brand and non-branded mattress protection products, pillows and bedding with a large operation in Tifton, has announced some corporate promotions and hirings as it strengthens its growing business

Among the promotions,  Mark Milani, previously vice president of quality and engineering, has been named vice president of
manufacturing and  distribution. In his new role, Milani oversees the company's newly constructed  state-of-the-art warehousing and distribution facility in Tifton, along with four other American Textile Co. locations in North America. He joined American  Textile in 2012.

The additional Tifton facility is the first tenant in the new Tifton-Tift County Development Authority's Industrial Park and will more than double American textile's shipping capacity to keep up with growing customer demand in both traditional retail and e-commerce sectors.

After opening its first facility in Tift County in 2011, American Textile Co. expanded it in 2012 and opened another  building in 2014. This latest 384,000-square-foot building significantly expands its  Tifton operations.

The expansion comes on the heels of a high-growth year for American Textile Co. in which the company increased capacity at its Dallas, Texas, and Salt Lake City, Utah, locations.

American Textile Co. employs more than 1,100 people worldwide.


614 Old Omega Road, Tifton, GA
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