It’s Now “Capt” Steve Hyman of The Tifton Police Department

Steve E. Hyman, who has been with the Tifton Police Department for more than 34 years, has been promoted from lieutenant to captain. Capt. Hyman is now supervising the department’s uniform patrol division. Police Chief Buddy Dowdy made the formal announcement Monday to Tifton City Council. “I think everyone in town knows Steve,” Dowdy said. “I love him like a brother; respect him like no other.” Hyman, an Alapaha native, has served in various capacities with Tifton Police, including patrol officer, field detective, field training officer supervisor, police community relations and Crime Suppression Unit supervisor. The governor has appointed Hyman to the Georgia Police Officer Standards and Training Council. Hyman has also been named local Police Officer of the Year numerous times and has received the Tifton Sertoma Club’s Service to Mankind Award. Chief Dowdy said Hyman wanted to be a police officer since he was a child, doing “ride-alongs” with the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office when he was 14 years old. Hyman has served as president of the Georgia Crime Prevention Association and has served on numerous boards of local community organizations, including the Tift County Commission on Children and Youth, the Tiftarea YMCA, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), Tift County Recreation Advisory Board and PLIGHT — “Proud Loving Individuals Giving a Helping Hand to Teens.”
He is a graduate of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, of the FBI National Academy and of Georgia Command College.

Source: Tifton Grapevine

Tiftarea Academy Names New Upper School Principal

Michael Heitzman has joined the faculty and staff of Tiftarea Academy for the 2017-2018 school year as the Upper School principal. Heitzman spent eight years in the classroom teaching at Sandalwood High and Atlantic Coast High schools in Jacksonville, Fla., and most recently, at Fitzgerald High School. He was the 2016-2017 Teacher of the Year at Fitzgerald High. Throughout his career, Heitzman has taught a variety of mathematics and social studies courses including Algebra 1, Geometry, AP U.S. History, AP Human Geography, U.S. History, Geography and Civics. He has coached softball, tennis and soccer. Heitzman earned his bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University in social science education. He earned his master’s degree, from the University of New England, in educational leadership. He has an extensive background in differentiation, technology-based instruction, lesson design, curriculum mapping and gifted instruction.  Heitzman has been married to his best friend Hillary for almost a decade. The Heitzmans reside in Irwin County and have four children. In their spare time, the family enjoys traveling, geocaching, hiking, swimming and soccer.  “We are excited to welcome Michael Heitzman to our staff at Tiftarea Academy. Mr. Heitzman comes to Tiftarea with a strong curriculum background and an excellent reputation of incorporating technology into classroom instruction. I am also confident his experience with vertical alignment between high school and middle school in all academic areas will serve us well,” said Headmaster Stacey Bell.

Source: Tifton Grapevine

Tifton Teacher Chosen for Select Training Len Lastinger School Educator Attends Library of Congress Summer Teacher Institute in Washington, D.C.

Congressman Austin Scott, R-Tifton, this week welcomed Tracy Ingram, a Georgia Science Ambassador and a second-grade teacher at Tifton’s Len Lastinger Primary School, to Washington, D.C., as she was chosen from more than 300 applicants to attend the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Summer Teacher Institute during the week of July 17-21. Ingram was chosen for the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) teaching conference through the Library of Congress. She is a past recipient of an Excellence in Teaching Award from the Tift County Foundation for Educational Excellence and is a former staff writer for The Tifton Gazette.   “Investing in our teachers means more opportunities for our schools and brighter futures for our students,” said Rep. Scott. “I congratulate Tracy Ingram on her selection to this program, and I look forward to hearing what innovative ideas Mrs. Ingram brings back to our classrooms and shares with her colleagues.” Each year, the Library of Congress provides an opportunity for a group of K-12 educators to attend one of its five teacher institutes in Washington. During the five-day program, participants work with library education specialists and subject-matter experts to learn effective practices for using primary sources in the classroom, while exploring some of the millions of digitized historical artifacts and documents available on the Library of Congress’ website. During the week, activities draw on subject-related treasures of the Library, with an emphasis on such topics as the nature of science, scientific and engineering practices, interdependence of science, technology and engineering, the historical context of discovery and invention, and more. Educators attending the teacher institutes participate in and develop primary source-based teaching strategies that they can take back to their school districts, apply in the classroom and share with colleagues. All educators may freely access classroom materials, teaching tools and strategies for teaching with primary sources from the Library of Congress’ web site for teachers. 

Source: Tifton Grapevine

Georgia Best Shrimp &Grits … Downtown Restaurant Gets Nod to Represent Region at Competition

A Downtown Tifton restaurant will once again represent the state’s “Plantation Trace” region in Georgia’s Best Shrimp & Grits cooking competition in Jekyll Island. The results of online voting were announced Monday, and Tifton’s The Local Kitchen + Bar restaurant on Main Street is once again a regional winner, and now its Executive Chef David Scarbrough will compete against other chefs from around the state to determine “Georgia’s Best Shrimp & Grits.” “We at The Local would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who participated in the online voting process, and a huge shout-out to all the restaurants who participated,” The Local noted Monday on its Facebook page. “We are so thrilled to represent our region and the great state of Georgia! On to Jekyll!” The contest begins at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 16, during the annual Jekyll Island Shrimp & Grits Festival. The other regional winners who will compete in the Best Shrimp & Grits cooking competition are: Atlanta Metro: Sweet Potato Cafe; Classic South region: Honey Café (Honey Catering); The Coast: Southern Soul Barbeque; Historic Heartland: Aubri Lanes; Historic High Country: Johnny Mitchell’s Smokehouse; Jekyll Island: Jekyll Island Club Resort; Magnolia Midlands: Eagle Creek Brewing Co.; and N.E. Georgia Mountains: Valhalla Resort Hotel. Last year’s champion was West Egg Cafe in Atlanta.

Source: Tifton Grapevine


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.
Source: Tifton Grapevine

Library Foundation Bringing Elton John – Billy Joel Tribute Dinner, Concert is Tift Library Foundation Fundraiser

Return to the 1970s for one night only as the 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 impersonators of the Billy Joel-Elton John Face2Face Tribute show conjure the piano men in both sound and image. Backed by his band The Stranger, Mike 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-energy 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 1970s 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.

Source: Tifton Grapevine

Design Plans Begin for $15.5M ABAC Project New Fine Arts Building, Carlton Center Renovation

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 University 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. “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.

Source: Tifton Grapevine

SRTC Tifton Student First Local Recipient of Scholarship Honoring Ex First Lady

Chiffon Johnson is the first Tifton recipient of the Shirley Carver Miller Scholarship and the first for Southern Regional Technical College. Eight Georgia residents were recipients in 2016. The scholarship, created by the Technical College System of Georgia, honors Georgia’s former First Lady and wife of former governor and senator Zell Miller. It is awarded to GED diploma recipients who are nominated by a Certified Literate Community Program, are legal residents of Georgia and are accepted for enrollment or currently enrolled at a TCSG technical college. Johnson is enrolled at Southern Regional Technical College, Tifton Campus, in the medical billing and coding program. She plans to eventually earn a diploma in early childhood development. “I would like to work in the medical field and one day open my own child day care,” Johnson said. She began GED classes in January 2015 to be a better mother and provider for her kids. “My main goal is to get off public assistance,” she said. Johnson worked in fast-food restaurants until her youngest child was born in 2014. “Caring for my own children has taught me the need for quality day care,” she said. “This scholarship will help me be able to attend SRTC and get a job in medical billing or early child care. A better job will mean better benefits and working hours.” In her letter of recommendation, Johnson’s GED teacher Judy Abell, an adult education instructor at SRTC Tifton, wrote: “Chiffon did not give up even though she faced some personal family difficulties and also had to take off a period of time for surgery in 2015. However, she came back strong and has persevered to obtain her GED. Chiffon is a single mom with a young child still at home.” According to the scholarship website, “Shirley Miller is a warrior for literacy. As a former first lady of Georgia, she became and remains one of adult literacy’s strongest advocates. Her passion is that Georgia stays focused on the eradication of illiteracy through support of literacy programs, adult education and the Certified Literacy Community Program in Georgia. Literacy Volunteers of Tifton-Tift County is one of 37 Certified Literate Communities in the state. As executive director of LVTTC, Bonnie Sayles nominated Johnson, saying, “I am proud of Chiffon for trying to make a better life for herself and her children. She is a real example to others in Tifton in her same situation and as such, will spark others to make the effort to attend Adult Education at SRTC Tifton.” For information about tutoring through Literacy Volunteers, call 229-391-2527. For information about free-of-charge GED and English language classes at SRTC Tifton, call Adult Education at 229-391-2615. Pictured is from left are Melissa Burtle, SRTC adult education director; Judy Abell, adult education instructor at SRTC Tifton; Chiffon Johnson, scholarship recipient; Bonnie Sayles, executive director of Literacy Volunteers of Tifton-Tift County.

Source: Tifton Grapevine

2017 Georgia’s Best Shrimp & Grit’s Cooking Competition

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 take place September 15-17 and Jekyll Island has once again invited chefs from top restaurants around the state to battle it out in a professional cooking competition for the title of “Georgia’s Best Shrimp & Grits.” Help your favorite area restaurants qualify for the final: Online voting for the top restaurant from each Georgia region begins at 9 a.m., Friday, July 7. Cast your ballot indicating your favorite restaurant from each region. Voters may cast a ballot a maximum of one time per day. Voting concludes Friday, July 14, at 5 p.m. The chef/restaurant with the most votes in each regional will be named regional champion and advance to the Georgia’s Best Shrimp & Grits competition to compete against the other regional winners at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 17. Please visit and cast your vote today.

Source: Tifton-Tift County Chamber of Commerce

Tift Regional Medical Center to Host State Health Care Reform Task Force Meeting

Georgia’s Health Care Reform Task Force will hold its third public meeting, hosted by Tift Regional Medical Center, at 10 a.m. Monday, July 10. The group will hear from health-care experts and is evaluating reforms to enable rural communities to develop high-performance health-care systems. “Georgia’s health-care system demands reforms. Statewide, costs are too high — and increasing by too much, too quickly — while access and choices for care are too limited,” said Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle. “It is time for Georgia to act on behalf of all our patients, families, and communities across all geographic regions of our state.” Cagle said the task force is committed to working collaboratively with stakeholders to find solutions that reduce and control the costs of care, that modernize delivery models to better match patients’ needs and that encourage innovation and market competition.

Source: Tifton Grapevine