JUNE 13, 2017
Tifton, Georgia


John R. Tibbetts of Tifton, who teaches economics at Worth County High School in Sylvester, was named the 2018 Georgia Teacher of the Year at a dinner Monday in Pine Mountain.

State School Superintendent Richard Woods made the announcement. As Georgia Teacher of the Year, Tibbetts will serve
John Tibbetts, right, is presented the state Teacher of the Year award Monday night by State Superintendent Richard Woods.
as an advocate for public education throughout the state, and appear at conferences and give workshops to fellow educators.

"I am grateful to Mr. Tibbetts for his service to our country and his service to the students of Georgia, and I'm honored to recognize him as the 2018 Georgia Teacher of the Year," Woods said. 

"Throughout the application process, it's been clear that Mr. Tibbetts is both an exemplary teacher and an individual who is concerned, first and foremost, about the success and potential of every student who enters his classroom. I look forward to working with him to tell the story of all the great work taking place in Georgia's public schools."

Tibbetts, a former teacher at and graduate of Tift County High School, graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and served 21 years as an officer in the U.S. Army before becoming a public school teacher. He served in Desert Storm, Turkey and Afghanistan, and was working at the Pentagon when it was hit by terrorists o n Sept. 11, 2001.

"As much as any subject taught in high school, economics is part of the very fabric of our daily lives and relevant to what is currently ongoing in the world around us," he wrote in his Teacher of the Year application. "Teaching economics provides the opportunity to affect our students' livelihoods, quality of life and their futures."

Tibbetts has a B.S. in computer science from the Military Academy and a master of military art and science, operational art from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, School of Advanced Military Studies. He has served as a presenter at the National Council for History Education National Convention and the NCHE History Colloquium and is a Georgia High School Association certified wrestling referee.

The Georgia Teacher of the Year program began in 1971 and recognizes an exceptional public school teacher each year based on nominations from local school superintendents.  A panel of judges, including teachers, past winners and administrators, choose 10 finalists from approximately 150 applicants. Judges then listen to speeches and hold interviews with the finalists.


A 12-year-old Tifton girl recently decided people need to "choose kindness" and has created a way to spread the word while helping homeless animals, already raising hundreds of dollars.

Kylei Cutts, an upcoming seventh grader at Eighth Street Middle School, has created a wristband with the message 
Kylei Cutts, right, makes her donation at the animal shelter with shelter Director Brandi Conway.
"Choose KINDNESS GOD Loves YOU! John 3:16," a business card and a Facebook page -- "Choose Kindness Everyday" -- to encourage choosing kindness.

Kylei wants all proceeds from wristband donations to help the Tift County Animal Shelter, and she recently delivered $277.50 for the animal shelter through the Save Our Pets organization.  

"When Kylei was a toddler we visited the animal shelter, and she chose the perfect dog and named her," says Kylei's mother
Laura Cutts

"Kylei loves animals and  chose to help the animals in the  s helter feel love , too."

Her mother adds that "the director at the animal shelter was shocked that a 12 year old created the bracelet and business card and raised so much money to help animals."  

Kylei shares that she has friends wearing wristbands and "sharing kindness" in Alabama, Florida, California, New York, North Carolina and, of course, here in Georgia.  

"A friend of our family said, 'Kylei, you are such a thoughtful person that God is using in a mighty way for this special ministry,'" says Laura Cutts.

For folks wishing to obtain a "Choose Kindness" wristband and donate to Save Our Pets, contact Kylei on the "Choose Kindness Everyday" Facebook page or email

Kylei is the daughter of Chris and Laura Cutts of Tifton.

University of Georgia Cooperative Extension research on new tobacco varieties could help farmers reduce black shank disease in their fields to 15 percent, says Tony Barnes, agriculture and natural resources extension agent in Atkinson County.

If the research proves successful, Georgia tobacco farmers who plant these new varieties could save as much as $1,463 per acre as compared to farmers who grow varieties hit by black shank disease.
Black shank disease badly affects this tobacco field in Coffee County.

"We are seeing success in some of the newer varieties, but in a severe year it doesn't matter what the variety is; black shank will eat it up," Barnes says. "We are getting better responses from these varieties, though."

Black shank is a fungus that turns the tobacco plant yellow as it slowly wilts and dies. The disease spreads through the field and to other fields through water and equipment. Chemical treatment must be applied to ensure older tobacco varieties withstand the disease, which can wipe out a crop under the right conditions, Barnes says.

UGA scientist Paul Bertrand, who studies tobacco diseases on the UGA Tifton campus, recommends growers plant varieties such as CC-143, NC-925, NC-938, CC-1063 or GL-925 in fields with a history of black shank disease.

"A farmer generally makes about $4,180 per acre. If the farmer takes a 50 percent loss due to black shank, which is not uncommon with some of our older varieties, the financial return is reduced to $2,090 per acre. That is just not profitable after input costs are calculated," Barnes says.

UGA Extension's research goal is to reduce the loss from black shank disease to 15 percent. Farmers can sustainably produce tobacco with low levels of black shank disease, Barnes says.

The weather plays a role in treatment applications in severe years. Since black shank moves upward through the tobacco plant, chemical applications must be made to the base of the roots. The roots must then absorb the treatment before it leaches out. If it rains, farmers can't get into the field to apply the treatments, leaving their plants vulnerable.

Georgia tobacco farmers are learning more about black shank disease during the Georgia-Florida Tobacco Tour this week. Participants will learn about tobacco research when the tour visits the UGA Tifton campus on Tuesday and Wednesday, June 13 and 14.


The 2017 University of Georgia Young Scholars Program in Tifton gave students their first community outreach of the summer o n Tuesday, June 6when they met with residents of Maple Court Senior Residence in Tifton.

The goal of the six-week internship program is to encourage outstanding high school students to pursue careers in science

Also, for two hours once a week, the Young Scholars in Tifton gain valuable life experiences through a community service project visiting Maple Court seniors.


The Tift Theatre for the Performing Arts presents live performances of "The Wedding Singer, the Musical Comedy" this week, Thursday through Sunday.

The shows begin at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, June 15-17. The Sunday, June 18, performance begins at 3 p.m.

The musical is set in 1985, and rock star wannabe Robbie Hart is New Jersey's favorite wedding singer. He's the life of the party until his own fiancée leaves him at the altar

Shot through the heart, Robbie makes every wedding as disastrous as his own. Enter Julia, a winsome waitress who wins his affection. As luck would have it, Julia is about to be married to a Wall Street shark, and, unless Robbie can pull off the performance of a decade, the girl of his dreams will be gone forever.

Tickets will be available at the door before the performances and online here.


A Tifton restaurant, for the second consecutive year, has a dish named  in an annual state publication as one of "100 Plates Locals Love."

Buttermilk Fried Chicken at  The Local Kitchen:Bar in  Downtown Tifton is cited in  the 2017 state culinary guide "Georgia Eats," just released by the Georgia Department of Economic Development's Tourism Division.

The state judge comments that "n ot only is this the most delicious fried chicken I have ever eaten, but I also love the fact that they use airline breasts locally sourced from White Oak Pastures. Amazing taste, healthy, local at its best!"

David Scarbrough, chef and owner at The Local, says the restaurant is thrilled to make "t his incredible list" again. "We are so honored to be included with some of the best restaurants in Georgia," he says.

The third annual list of "100 Plates Locals Love" features favorite dishes from across the state. The "Georgia Eats" culinary guide is available at the state's 12 Visitor Information Centers and on the state's consumer tourism ExploreGeorgia website:  Click Here!

Some of the other dishes and restaurants mentioned in Georgia's Plantation Trace region include Southern-Style Catfish at Ray's Millpond in Ray CityBaked Spaghetti at Villa Gargano Italian Restaurant in AlbanyPan-Seared Sea Scallops at Steel Magnolias in Valdosta Filet of Beef at Friends Grille + Bar in Valdosta F.G.T Chicken Sandwich at Jonah's Fish & Grits in Thomasville, and  Burger with Pimento Cheese and Bourbon-Bacon Jam at the Sweet Grass Cheese Shop in Thomasville .

Old Dance

The monthly  SELF (Seniors Enjoying Life Forever) Dance is  Friday, June 16 , at  Leroy Rogers Senior Center in Tifton. Doors open at  6 p.m.

The event is open to all local seniors, who are asked to bring their favorite food dish for sharing.



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