Aug. 30, 2016
        Tifton, Georgia

   (478) 227-7126


The wait is over: Tifton's Veterans Affairs Clinic is opening at  1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 31.
The grand opening  at 1824 Ridge Ave. North at 20th Street, includes a ribbon cutting, guest speakers, information about VA programs and services, and tours of the new clinic.

The Tifton site is the  Carl Vinson VA Medical Center in Dublin's  newest community-based outpatient clinic.
Donna Ammons, RN, is the manager of the Tifton clinic She previously was assistant vice president for nursing at Tift Regional Medical Center. Ammons graduated from the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, with a bachelor of nursing degree, received her master of nursing administration from the University of Texas, Austin, and is currently working on a doctor of nursing practice at the University of Alabama.

The VA said Ammons has diverse experience in health care, having been a travel nurse venturing as far as Hawaii, having owned and operated a home-care agency, and having
Veterans Affairs Clinic in Tifton
been a nursing instructor at the University of Texas. She is a  career nurse with 37 years of experience.

"My family has a long history serving in the military so joining the VA team to care for veterans is an honor for me," Ammons said. "I'm looking forward to getting our Tifton VA Clinic off to a great start and honoring our veterans' service by providing them the best health care possible."

The Tifton VA Clinic is open Mondays through Fridays, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Services include primary care, mental health and other basic healthcare services. Additional services are available throughTele-Health, a new VA initiative that allows veterans to access some healthcare needs using interactive visual technology. Veterans may call the 24-hour nurse triage number at 1-877-424-8212 to speak with a nurse.
For information, contact Ammons at  or by calling 478-272-1210, ext. 2427.


The City of Tifton met with residents Monday during a pre-construction meeting for the 20th Street resurfacing & waterline reloc ation project and said contractors will keep inconveniences to a
Pete Pyrzenski of ESG Operations speaks about the 20th Street project to residents Monday at Tifton City Hall.
minimum during the  six-month project .

Pete Pyrzenski of ESG Operations told residents gathered at Tifton City Hall that any water interruptions will be minimal and that contractors will attempt to keep at least one traffic lane open for travel along 20th Street after the work begins in the next three weeks or so.

The resurfacing of 20th Street will begin at Old Ocilla Road and continue to U.S. Highway 41 at a cost of $1.4 million

The replacement of aging water lines along the route will cost $1.2 million; both parts of the project will be funded through SPLOST V.

Residents with questions about the project may call 229-391-3937.

*Please send resumes to*


Tift County Schools Superintendent  Patrick  Atwater addresses parents attending an informational session last week about Local School Governance Teams, which are being formed as part of the school system's charter system status. Schools are currently taking nominations of parents who wish to be elected to the teams. Anyone interested may contact local school principals.

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For information, call 229-848-7043 or 229-386-3416

Tifton's 2016 Hometown Holiday Christmas Celebration will have the theme of  "Christmas Around The World."

This is the 18th year of the annual holiday festival, to be held in downtown Tifton on Saturday, Dec. 3, from 5-10 p.m.

Online registration and payment are now available here for both the Christmas parade and vendor applications. D eadlines do apply, and spaces are limited.  Food vendors must contact the heath department by the due date for health food permits.

The parade route will start at the corner of 2nd Street and Magnolia Drive, traveling east toward downtown; it will take a left on Main Street and travel north, passing First Community Bank, and ending at the corner of 8th Street and Love Avenue near CVS Pharmacy.

For  information , call 229-391-3966.

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Tifton Mayor  Julie Smith, at left, reads a proclamation declaring September as "Go Purple" month for Alzheimer's Disease Awareness. The annual Walk to End Alzheimer's is scheduled Oct. 29 at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. Standing next to Smith at Monday night's City Council meeting are, from left, Buffy Hankinson, Letha Hartley, Debbie Edenfield, Nancy Seaman and Carla Cooper.

For the Tifton Grapevine

As a child growing up in rural Willacoochee, Donn Perkins looked to the skies above his wooden schoolhouse and saw jets flying through the clouds.  "One day," the youthful Perkins told his friends, "that will be me."

He made good on that promise and more.  The bright young man who spoke with a booming voice and excelled at everything he attempted got his pilot's wings in the U.S. Navy in 1977 at age 23 .

"He was the first black pilot out of Willacoochee, Ga.," the town's mayor, Samuel Newson, said. "We are very, very proud of him."

On Sunday, Aug. 28, the Atkinson County community paid tribute to their "Hometown Hero" in a memorial service at the Willacoochee Elementary School gymnasium. Perkins, 62, died Aug. 18 after a battle with cancer. Following the memorial service, he was laid to rest not far from his childhood home.

The mayor said it was important for Willacoochee to honor Perkins because he represented hope for other young people that if he could do it, they could too.

Flying airplanes was a lifelong pursuit for Perkins. Being a pilot wasn't work for him, said his cousin Otis Johnson of Atlanta: "The things that he got paid for were things that he truly enjoyed doing ,and he would have done it for nothing. ...  That's something that we all should strive to do: Find something that you truly enjoy doing and then go out and do it."

Perkins was a true friend to his hometown people, said Martha Carswell, a childhood schoolmate and a retired Coffee County middle school teacher. Perkins often spoke to her students during Black History Month. 

"My eighth graders were so fascinated with him. They said, 'Miss Carwell, we don't believe he's from Willacoochee. He's a pilot.' I said, 'What? Willacoochee can produce good people.'"

Perkins believed in giving back. Over the years, he sponsored graduates, funded scholarships, paid for weddings and provided financial assistance to those in need. He was a frequent guest speaker for school children, urging them to reach for the sky.

Willacoochee friends described how they would look skyward and see a plane flying low above the city. One Sunday morning, an A-7 military plane circled all of the churches. 

"He would do that quite often," Carswell recalled. "He would fly low around the churches to say hello. He would fly over the house to say hello." Strangers might have wondered about it, but, as Carswell said, "We knew when we saw that plane it was Donn."

Perkins was inspired by another Willacoochee aviator: Maj. Gen. John Robert Paulk, a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot who flew over the city from Moody Air Force Base when Perkins was a youth. 

"He was always the guy that Donn wanted to pattern himself after because Donn wanted to fly," said Perkins' cousin Otis Johnson of Atlanta. He said Perkins told him he got a chance to meet his boyhood idol years later at an air show.

Johnson said Perkins debated whether to join the Air Force or Navy, but finally settled on the Navy. He was a Navy lieutenant and bomber pilot from 1976 to 1983, flying missions that required him to take off and land A-7 attack planes on the USS Eisenhower, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. Perkins went by the call sign of "Black Duck" -- a reference to nicknamed he picked up in school because, as friends say, he walked like a duck.

When his Navy stint ended, Perkins continued to soar, becoming a commercial airline pilot for US Airways. He eventually made his home in Charlotte, N.C.

"He flew high, but he never looked down on me," the Rev. Harvey Williams, pastor of House of Deliverance Church in Willacoochee, said in the eulogy. "This guy was always humble and kind, never forgetting where he came from."

Born in Coffee County in 1954, Perkins spent his boyhood in Willacoochee. He moved to Atlanta with his mother while still in school and graduated from Atlanta's Southwest High School in 1971. He was an ROTC battalion commander, the highest ranking ROTC person at the school, said Charles Prince, one of about a dozen Atlanta area classmates who attended the memorial. 

"Donn became a very accomplished man," Prince said. "But one thing about him, Donn never changed. He was the same lovable guy from Willacoochee, Ga."

Perkins went on to Fort Valley State University, where he received his bachelor's degree in education in 1975.

The aviation community paid tribute to Perkins during an Aug. 26 funeral in Charlotte. Afterward, his casket was flown from Charlotte to Jacksonville in preparation for burial at Oak Grove Church cemetery in Pearson.

Said his brother Larry Perkins Sr. of Atlanta: "Donn wanted to come home. ... He had one more flight to take."


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