Blue Cross to Stay in Tiftarea But Leaving Behind 74 Georgia Counties

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia has agreed to offer health insurance coverage in the state insurance exchange in the 85 counties that will have no other health plans in 2018, including most counties in the Tiftarea. Tift, Turner, Ben Hill, Irwin, Cook and Berrien counties are among the 85 that the insurance company will continue to offer coverage. The local counties were at risk of having no health insurer available to provide individual coverage next year. The agreement was reached with state Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens after Blue Cross announced in June that it was planning to leave the entire individual insurance market in Georgia next year. Insurance exchanges were created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to help individuals, who do not have job-based or government health benefits, to buy their own coverage. “It’s a big deal,” said Jay Florence, deputy insurance commissioner. “If they had decided to pull out, people in those counties would have had to move, change jobs or go without coverage,” Georgia Health News reported. The insurance exchanges’ long-term future has been uncertain with the recent congressional attempts to repeal and replace the ACA, known as Obamacare. This year, Blue Cross has offered individual plans in all 159 Georgia counties but said, “A stable insurance market is dependent on products that create value for consumers through the broad spreading of risk and a known set of conditions upon which rates can be developed. … The continued uncertainty makes it difficult for us to offer individual health plans statewide.” President Trump has threatened to eliminate the subsidies that go to insurers in the exchanges to help customers, with modest incomes, to obtain health insurance. A lack of subsidy funding, Blue Cross said, “introduces a level of volatility which compromises the ability to set rates responsibly.” More than 490,000 Georgians signed up for exchange coverage this year, federal officials reported.

Source: Tifton Grapevine

“Monkeying Around” at Tifton City Hall Fun Channel’s Bobo Finds New Home

Some folks may refer to local politics as a circus; well, Tifton City Hall now has its own resident monkey. But it’s not just any monkey — “Bobo,” the famous fixture that sat on Second Street for more than 15 years, has a new home on the second floor of City Hall. Bobo is the 275-pound concrete monkey that was a sort of mascot for Hayward Fowler’s “Fun Channel” local-access cable TV station, now known as “Your Local Tifton Channel.”  For many years, Bobo watched traffic across the street from Fowler’s office. Residents and visitors alike took their photos with Bobo through the years. Some left candy and other items in Bobo’s arms. “There was a rumor that if you rubbed his head six times and turned around, and if you were trying to get pregnant, you would get pregnant,” Fowler said. “Now, that’s just a rumor.” Bobo received widespread fame when he was kidnapped about a dozen years ago. The Tifton Gazette ran several articles about Bobo’s disappearance. “A couple of college kids took him to Florida to the beach,” Fowler said. “They sent me pictures.” Fowler ultimately got a tip about Bobo’s whereabouts on Ferry Lake Road. He confronted the students and made them return the monkey to his rightful spot. He was then secured with Liquid Nails. Bobo also had a “girlfriend” for awhile. “Miranda,” a similar concrete monkey, sat next next to Bobo until a motorist backed into her, damaging her beyond repair.  Fowler said the time came for Bobo to find a new home. There was concern that someone would trip over him, or that he would be stolen again. The city recently pulled him loose to do some sidewalk work, and Fowler thought about bringing him home but his wife Glenda wasn’t keen on that idea. Instead, City Manager Pete Pyrzenski told Fowler the city would be glad to give Bobo a new home, from Second Street to the second floor of City Hall. “We are trying to preserve some of the fun relics in Tifton, and they will be secure inside City Hall for all to see,” Pyrzenski told the Tifton Grapevine. “Bobo will be safe on the second floor, hopefully never to disappear again, and it will always remind a few of Downtown Tifton.” “I have let the city have my monkey,” Fowler announced in a Facebook video. “He’s given us a lot of pleasure in Tifton. We have mixed feelings about moving him off of Second Street, but I think it’s going to be all right. He looks pretty good in his new spot.” Fowler noted that the city has spruced up Bobo, and he looks better than ever. “He looks good; I’m very proud of him,” Fowler said. “I used to think that I would be in City Hall, but Bobo beat me to it. I guess he made a monkey out of me,” Fowler said, chuckling. “If he made people smile, then it did what it’s supposed to.”
Source: Tifton Grapevine

SRTC Auto Tech Program Receives Highest Accreditation

Southern Regional Technical College’s (SRTC) automotive technology program was recently awarded the highest possible industry accreditation by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF). “Achieving master level accreditation solidifies our program’s standing among the top-rated schools in the nation for automotive technology. We understand that students have a choice of where they receive their education, and we want to make that choice easier by offering superior instruction and relevant work experience,” said Mason Miller, SRTC automotive technology program chairman. Since 1983, NATEF, the educational equivalent to ASE (a master mechanic certifying agency), has accredited qualified automotive service programs in schools across the country. “Institutional and program accreditations are important as they indicate quality and excellence within an institution and its academic programs. We are proud to inform the public and the business and industry community that our automotive technology program has once again achieved NATEF accreditation and that our students are graduating from a highly regarded, accredited and industry-recognized program of study,” said Dr. Craig Wentworth, SRTC president. SRTC offers more than 148 degree, diploma and certificate programs and 27 general education courses that transfer to the University System of Georgia institutions and 19 private colleges and universities in Georgia. SRTC has sites in Ashburn, Cairo, Camilla, Moultrie, Thomasville, Tifton and Sylvester. Fall semester begins Aug. 22.
Source: Tifton Grapevine

Restructures Academic ABAC Schools, Names New Dean for Arts and Sciences

Dr. Johnny Evans has been named dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC) as a result of restructuring the schools of study. Evans previously served as dean of the former School of Science and Mathematics. The School of Arts and Sciences will now house the departments of English and Communication, Fine Arts, History and Political Science, Science and Mathematics, and Rural Sociology. In this structure, all general education core curriculum courses are now offered through the School of Arts and Sciences. Previously, three schools and three deans had oversight for the courses. “Now, with the consolidation into one school, we needed an experienced dean to lead and guide the programs,” said Dr. Jerry Baker, provost and vice president of academic affairs. “This consolidation will also merge the faculty and the cultures that have allowed the previous programs to be successful.” Evans said the restructuring is a good move.
“Because we offer the core curriculum within our school, we serve as the foundation of academic success for all ABAC students,” Evans said. “Core curriculum develops critical thinking skills, writing and creativity. And since all the core curriculum is under one umbrella, we can streamline and improve core classes more easily.” Evans said he took on this new role because he feels his calling is giving students life-changing opportunities. “I won’t be teaching this fall but I hope to teach in the coming semesters, even if it’s just one class,” Evans said. “I love being in the classroom and will miss that environment.” Once classes resume for fall on Aug. 16, Evans thinks the transition will be seamless: “Students won’t really feel the effect of the restructuring because all the department heads and faculty will be the same, as will the classes. We are simply combining the administration.”
Source: Tifton Grapevine

ABAC Alumnus to Speak at Frosh Convocation

Hundreds of freshmen will enter Gressette Gymnasium on Aug. 15 for the 13th annual Freshman Convocation at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. The 11 a.m. ceremony serves as the opening of the academic year. Louise Hill, recipient of the George P. Donaldson Award at ABAC commencement in 1977, is this year’s convocation speaker. While an ABAC student, Hill was editor of the campus yearbook and was involved in the Student Government Association. Long after her student days, Hill continued to support the college by serving as president of the ABAC Alumni Association. Hill is the senior public service associate for the Fanning Institute at the University of Georgia (UGA). She has guided community leadership development programs, including those in program design, curriculum development, and teaching adult leadership education. She also provides executive level coaching. Prior to joining the Fanning Institute faculty, Hill served as director of development and alumni relations for UGA’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.  From 2003-2009, Hill led the Georgia Rural Development Council’s Community Leadership Initiative. More than 8,000 Georgians have participated in multi-day leadership retreats or training  sessions that Hill led on such topics as leading community change, group decision-making, collaboration and effective communication. Hill also worked with the Georgia Farm Bureau Federation from 1979 to 1996 in volunteer training, program development, organizational management and strategic planning.
Source: Tifton Grapevine

28th Run for Love Aids Cross Country Teams

The 28th Annual Run for Love, supporting the Tift County High School cross country teams, is set for Aug. 5 at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. The one-mile fun run begins at 7:15 p.m., and the 5K begins at 7:45 p.m. at the Red Hill Athletic Center on the ABAC campus. This year, the Tift County Animal Shelter will be at the event with pets available for adoption. Race registration is $15 for the one-mile run; $20 for the 5K. Registration for both events is $30. Families may register for $70. 

Source: Tifton Grapevine

Tifton’s Danielle Hicks Releases Original Album

Tifton native Danielle Hicks has just released an all original 10-song blues-rock album, “Honey,” recorded live at Plyrz Studio in Valencia, Calif., with seven-time Grammy-winning producer and engineer Jim Scott. “‘Honey’ is a dream come true for me. Before working with Jim Scott, I spent a lot of money recording at another studio, but I was never quite satisfied with the quality of the production. Now, I have a record that I am truly proud of, and that is priceless to me,” Hicks says. “Jim selected some of the finest musicians in the industry so that we could create a record that is memorable and timeless. I hope you’ll add this blues-rock/indie album to your music collection; I put a lot of love into it.” Scott has produced the rock band Wilco and has worked as an engineer with a variety of bands including the Rolling Stones, Dixie Chicks, Tom Petty, Sting, Roger Daltrey, Crowded House, 7 Worlds Collide, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Santana, Styx and Matchbox Twenty. Hicks, a daughter of John and Jessica Hicks, is currently based in Savannah and has been performing since she was seven years old, singing with her father’s local Southern rock band, “Mood Doc.” She now performs throughout the greater Savannah area and the Southeast with her band, “The Resistance.” After high school, Hicks had moved to New York City to attend the American Musical and Dramatic Academy and continue her career as a performer. She later came back south to Savannah and has become one of the most sought-out and celebrated singer-songwriters along the Georgia-South Carolina coast. She is nominated to be on the cover of Savannah’s South magazine, which will be chosen based upon online voting.

Source: Tifton Grapevine

ABAC Grad Making Difference with N.C. Farm

A graduate of Tifton’s Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College is making a difference in a North Carolina community with his family’s organic farm and support of the farm-to-table movement. Cody Brodfuhrer, 24, was profiled last last week in the Wilkes Journal-Patriot in North Wilkesboro, N.C. Brodfuhrer, who grew up in Winter Springs, Fla., got a degree from ABAC in agri-business and agricultural marketing. A few years ago, his family bought a 39-acre berry farm outside Moravian Falls, N.C., and rechristened it Brushy Mountain Berry Farm. The Brodfuhners, including Cody’s mother, father and brother, have built an expansive greenhouse where they grow strawberries, vegetables and herbs hydroponically year-round. They also allow customers to visit and pick blueberries out of the field. They have established relationships with local processing plants and restaurants, and sell at local farmers markets. “Working with the community and local chefs in support of the whole farm-to-table concept is something we’re all 100 percent committed to at this farm,” Brodfuhrer told the newspaper. “From having folks come to the farm and pick their own berries, to educating customers and their kids at the local farmer’s market about the wholesome food they’re buying so they understand where it comes from, how it’s grown and the health benefits just helps reinforce our mission and what we stand for. I believe there’s something really special about meeting the farmer who grew your food. It makes it more personal. Making a genuine connection with the land, the food and the people who eat it and doing right by them, that’s what it’s all about for me.”
Source: Tifton Grapevine

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