2019 – The Year in Review

JANUARY
Man-made destruction
in downtown D’ville

(1/10/19) On Sunday evening, January 6, Michael Anthony Torrance was traveling west in a Jeep Grand Cherokee on Second Street in the City of Donalsonville. Torrance failed to maintain his lane and traveled onto the north sidewalk of Second Street and his vehicle struck and completely destroyed one of the BetterWay Initiative’s  trees. Torrance then traveled back onto Second Street crossing both lanes of traffic, then traveling onto the south sidewalk. The vehicle then struck some planted flowers on the sidewalk in front of Vince and Minora Edenfield’s store before striking the front of the store, breaking the store window with its front end. The driver then backed up, and drove away from the store, traveling westbound on Second Street. Turning north on S. Knox Ave. Torrance attempted to turn left into a private driveway. He missed the driveway, traveling onto the west shoulder, and then onto private property. The vehicle then struck a metal handicap ramp with its front end and performed a U-turn and pulled into another private driveway, coming to a controlled rest facing west on Three Notch EMC private property.
Torrance was taken into custody and then released on bail. Torrance was charged with leaving the scene of an accident, violation of the open container law, driving under the influence and failure to maintain lane.
Stewart sworn into BOE office
(1/10/19) A large group of family and friends was at the Seminole County Courthouse Monday, January 7th as Seminole County Probate Judge Michael Jon Rogerson made it official and gave the oath of office to newly elected Seminole County Board of Education member Spencer Stewart. Stewart replaces long time BOE member Jamaca Coachman and will represent the citizens of District One.
Will Cobb is the STAR Student for SCMHS

(1/17/19) Seminole County Middle/High School proudly announces Will Cobb as its 2019 STAR Student. Cobb, selected on the basis of his SAT scores, class standing and scholastic averages, has chosen Mrs. Maribeth Burke as his STAR teacher,
Will is the son of Janna and Anthony Cobb and the grandson of Norma and Brad Hornsby and Alice and the late Allen Cobb. Will has lived in southwest Georgia all of his life, and has attended Seminole County Middle/High School since 2015. Will is honored to be the 2018-2019 STAR Student and would like to thank his school and family for helping him to make it happen.
Will is a member of the National Honor Society and is an honor roll student. Will has been a part of Future Business Leaders of America, 4-H, and the Principal’s Advisory Council. Will is an active member of the Seminole County Literary team and has been the student director of the high school One Act Play and Chorus. Will has also been a member of the Seminole Legacy Show Choir for three years. After high school, Will plans to attend college and earn a degree in musical theater.
Register to retire as
School Superintendent
(1/17/19) Seminole County School Superintendent Brinson Register announced his intentions to retire at Monday night’s meeting of the Seminole County Board of Education. Register said this decision was made after a great deal of thought and prayerful consideration. He assumed the office of Superintendent on July 1, 2015 following in the footsteps of Monroe Bonner, who retired with 31 years of service to the local school system. Register’s retirement will become official on June 30, 2019.
In announcing his retirement to the Donalsonville News Register commented,  “I can’t begin to express how much I have enjoyed working for the Seminole County Board of Education for these many years. I have a collection of priceless memories and formed lifelong friendships with many people throughout the years including colleagues and countless parents. I will be eternally grateful to the Seminole County Board of Education and the community for affording me the opportunity to be part of such a wonderful school system for so many years.”
In his more than two decades of service to the Seminole County School System Register was a special needs teacher from 1994 to 2004, the Assistant Principal for Seminole County Middle/High School (SCMHS) from 2005 to 2008, SCMHS Principal from 2008 to 2015 and Superintendent of Schools from 2015 to 2019.
Park clean up at
$3,000,000 and growing
(1/24/19) Since the day of  Hurricane Michael’s devastation on October 10, officials at Seminole State Park have been working nonstop to get the park cleaned up. They still have a long way to go, but Seminole State Park’s staff sees positive progress. The cost of clean up and park restoration efforts so far – has reached three million dollars. Park manager Lupe Lazarine commented, “That figure counts for manpower, equipment, and contractors, and the price tag for clean up and park restoration will continue to rise due to more equipment needed and other issues that are sure to come up.”
The park, as with most areas in Seminole County, lost a tremendous number of trees and the ground work is still far from being completed. The park’s cottages are 90% done; however, its campsites and nature trails have not been touched. Park officials are looking at an reopening date of May 1st – maybe. “It could be sooner or it could be later, but that is the date set for now. I will know more as time gets closer,” added Lazarine.

FEBRUARY
ABAC’s economic impact swells to $529,838,507
(2/7/19) Thanks to a higher number of students, more employees, and more expensive off-campus housing, the economic impact of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College on Southwest Georgia soared to a record $529,838,507 in fiscal year 2018, according to a recent statewide study.
Tifton and the Southwest Georgia area certainly benefited as the 2018 report revealed that 444 jobs at ABAC resulted in 1,382 jobs off campus for a total impact of 1,826 jobs in the area. The previous fiscal year report in 2017 showed ABAC with 230 on-campus jobs resulting in 886 off-campus jobs for a total impact of 1,116 jobs in the area.
Dr. Renata Elad, Dean of the Stafford School of Business at ABAC, analyzed the USG numbers for ABAC and found the ABAC economic impact a monumental 31 per center higher than the $369,874,664 impact in the 2017 fiscal year.
“ABAC needs Southwest Georgia, and Southwest Georgia needs ABAC,” Elad said in her analysis.  “With total employment of over 1,800 jobs directly from student spending activities and an overall labor impact of almost $66 million, ABAC is definitely a strong partner in regional growth.”
With instructional sites in Tifton, Moultrie, Bainbridge, Blakely, and Donalsonville during the 2019 Fall term and a record enrollment of 4,291 students, ABAC President David Bridges believes the economic impact of ABAC will soar again next year.
Young Farmers honored at annual convention
(2/7/19) The 49th annual Georgia Young Farmers Association convention was held this past weekend at the Augusta Marriott Convention Center in Augusta. On the opening night of the convention awards program, Jeff Braswell was announced as the State Winner of the GYFA Chapter President Award. The Seminole County Young Farmer Chapter was also presented an award for its membership increase, and former Seminole County Extension Agent Andrew Warner was presented with the GYFA South Region Young Ag Leader Award.
The Outstanding Farm Family presentation was the final awards presentation of the night. Seminole County’s Dee, Paige and IV Miller were recognized as one of the four state finalists and awarded a plaque for their accomplishment. In the spokesperson contest, Emily Braswell represented Seminole County.  Emily prepared a five minute statement on “The Use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in Agriculture” and presented her speech before a panel of judges.  In addition, she was challenged for ten minutes to a number of questions concerning her topic.
The Terrell Weeks Scholarship award presentation was held on the last night of the convention. Five Senior students selected from applicants submitted by every Young Farmer chapter in the state were called to the stage with their families and advisors. Seminole County FFA and Junior Young Farmer member Carson Deal was one of the five elite
Seniors honored.
At the conclusion of the GYFA convention during Saturday night’s banquet, the 2018 GYFA board of directors was retired, the newly elected board for 2019 was announced and Seminole County’s Stan Deal was announced as the 2019 GYFA President-Elect. Jeff Braswell was also announced as a 2019 GYFA South Region Junior Director.
Scott Mitchell selected
Ag Person of the Year
(2/14/19) Each year the Donalsonville-Seminole County Chamber of Commerce and the Seminole County Young Farmers honor one individual  who makes valued contributions to the agricultural industry of Seminole County and presents them with the Ag Person of the Year award.
At the chamber’s 20th Annual Farmer Appreciation event, held as a luncheon last Thursday, February 7th, Scott Mitchell was announced as this year’s recipient.
Mitchell has been involved in agriculture since he was a young boy excelling in cattle and hog shows, and working in the stockyard. He might even could have been found following an area veterinarian around the office and county farms. This individual began scouting cotton and peanuts at the age of 15 and continued through his college years.
After graduating high school he continued his education at the University of South Alabama, graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering. From 1993-2003, he was employed with LMC before becoming loan officer at Merchants and Farmers Bank, now Ameris, from 2003-2008. He is the executive vice president at Clover Leaf Gin and Warehouse, and has served on the board of directors of Southern Southeastern, Inc. which represents cotton growers and ginners throughout the southeast region as well as serving as the president of the board of directors of AFG Feed, LLC since its establishment.
Investigation continues in
local woman’s disappearance
(2/14/19) The Donalsonville Police Department continues its  search for 43-year-old Sharon Michelle Crawford, who was reported missing from Donalsonville on November 27.
She is described as a 43-year-old woman around 5-feet-7 inches tall, weighing around 125 pounds. She has black hair and brown eyes. An extensive search has been ongoing by multiple law enforcement agencies with no results in locating Crawford or uncovering clues of her location.
Anyone with information about Crawford’s location is asked to contact Donalsonville Police Chief Woodrow Blue, Jr. or Chief Investigator Greg Long. at the Donalsonville Police Department. The telephone number to call is (229) 524-2175.
Phillip Daniels promoted
to defensive line coach
(2/14/19) The Philadelphia Eagles have done good business promoting their own in recent years, and have now rewarded another current staff with a promotion.
According to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Eagles are promoting defensive quality control/assistant line coach Phillip Daniels to defensive line coach.
A former Seminole County Indian, this native of Donalsonville played college football at the University of Georgia from 1992-95 and finished his college career with 244 tackles, 18 tackles for loss and 12 sacks. He started at three different positions for the Bulldogs, including defensive end, defensive tackle and linebacker, while serving as a team captain as a Senior. A 15-season NFL veteran with the Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Bears, and Washington Redskins, Daniels joined the Eagles coaching staff during the 2016 offseason as the team’s defensive quality control/assistant defensive line coach. Before joining the Eagles he served as the director of player development for the Washington Redskins.
Daniels and his wife, Leslie, have four children: DaVaris, DaKendrick, Damara and DaKiya.
Cindy Meadows, Andrew Warner
selected as Co-Citizens of Year
(2/28/29) The theme for Thursday’s Donalsonville-Seminole County Chamber of Commerce annual meeting was all about working together to make today just a little better than yesterday. That theme was echoed by the selfless actions of this year’s Citizen of the Year co-recipients, Cindy Meadows and Andrew Warner. Meadows, Seminole County’s 4-H Extension Agent and Warner, the former Seminole County Ag Agent, were both cited for their year-long efforts to go above and beyond the call of duty of their job descriptions, giving  extra time and energy to helping the youth of Seminole County prosper and grow.
Meadows and Warner were also praised by their nominator and the judges for their countless selfless acts performed for the betterment of Seminole County  and its citizens before, during and after Hurricane Michael.
Seminole State Park to
reopen, in part, March 1st
(2/28/19) Seminole State Park is reopening, at least in part, on Friday, March 1st. After four and a half months since the day of destruction caused by Hurricane Michael, the park’s cottages, group shelter and day use areas – the boat ramp and canoe and kayak rentals – will reopen this Friday.
The park’s camp site areas and nature trails received extensive damage from the storm and much work is still needed in those areas. Park Manager Lupe Lazarine commented, “We are hoping to open at least some of our campsites for Memorial Day weekend.

MARCH
Literary Indians take region crown, again!
(3/7/19) The 2019 Seminole Indian Literary Team, coached by Maribeth Burke, swept the competition at Monday’s Region 1A Literary meet, held at Bainbridge College. Seven schools in the region vied for the trophies in several events. Seminole County placed first in nine of the competition’s twelve events. Will Cobb placed first in Boys’ Solo, Quartet and Duo Interpretation. Dallan Heard placed first in Domestic Extemporaneous Speaking, Quartet, and Duo Interpretation. Bailey Fields and Jordan Williams placed first in Quartet. Torie Lambert, Autumn Sherrer and Abigail Grantham placed first in Trio, and Abigail placed second in Girls’ Solo. Samantha McLendon and Bailey Dixon placed first in Argumentative and Rhetorical Essay, respectively. Radhika Patel placed second in Personal Essay. Will Pace placed first in International Extemporaneous Speaking. David Pollock and Caden Kearns placed first in oral interpretation, comedic and dramatic.
Mark Earnest selected lone
finalist for Superintendent
(3/14/19) At the March 11th regular monthly meeting of the Seminole County Board of Education, the Board selected Mark Earnest as the lone finalist to be the next Superintendent of the Seminole County School System.  From a pool of over twenty-five applicants, Earnest emerged as the clear choice.  Board Chairman Dr. Michael Kirkland commented, “His professional accomplishments impressed the Board and his combination of accomplishments, experience, vision, and passion for Seminole County was unmatched.”  In its search for a student-centered leader with high standards and expectations, the Board unanimously agreed on this selection.  “We also found the input from the school leadership teams to be informative, and their collective evaluation of Mr. Earnest’s fit for the position was positive,” added Kirkland.
Once approved, Earnest will begin his official duties on July 1st, 2019.
Seminole County receives 2019 GECC Communications Team of the Year honor
(3/14/19) Seminole County’s E-911 Coordinator Paula Whaley recently attended the 10th annual Georgia Emergency Communications Conference (GECC) in Columbus.  With Seminole County Sheriff Heath Elliott in the audience, Coordinator Whaley accepted the award for 2019 Georgia Emergency Communications Team of the Year.  The 911 Team consisted of Pam Helms, Rhonda Glover, Morgan Cross and Coordinator Whaley.   This award is presented annually to a group of two or more communications officers for their exemplary handling of a specific 9-1-1 emergency or other situation that involves the coordinator of multiple public safety resources.  Seminole County’s E-911 staff were nominated by both Sheriff Elliott and CPL Jim Shingler for their hard work during and after Hurricane Michael.
Coordinator Paula Whaley also received the 2019 Tom Wahl Legacy Award for her continuous commitment, professionalism and dedication to the mission of emergency communications.  The recipient of this award is chosen by the executive board of the Georgia Chapters of APCO and NENA.
It’s time to Rodeo
(3/14/19) Planning is almost over and the fun is set to begin. Finally, Rodeo Days have arrived in Donalsonville. Well, almost. This Friday and Saturday, March 15 and 16 at 7:30 p.m., “Welcome to the Donalsonville-Seminole County Chamber of Commerce  Boots & Roots Rodeo” will be announced in the Chris Thomas Arena and the rodeo will have officially arrived. In addition to the level of competition increasing from year to year this year’s show will feature  the International Professional Rodeo Associations’s All-Around Champion Cowboy Justin Thigpen, Announcer of the Year Matt McGee and Clown of the Year Mike Wentworth.
The Chamber of Commerce has joined forces again this year with T-T Rodeo Company, out of Waycross and its top ranked stock will soon be in the house and ready to excite and amaze all in attendance with a first class rodeo featuring cowboys and cowgirls competing in eight of the world’s most action packed events. Get ready for bareback riding, steer wrestling, calf roping, cowgirls break away roping, saddle bronc riding, team roping, cowgirls barrel racing, and the always exciting bull riding.
The event is a fund raising vehicle for future community projects of the chamber and a percentage of the profits will be donated to the youth of this community – the Seminole County Green Machine Band, the 4-H, local Scouts, The Friendship House and a Seminole County Agriculture Scholarship.
Donalsonville Fire Chief Dean  King commended by Governor Kemp for service
(3/14/19) Donalsonville Fire and Rescue Department Chief Dean King has received a commendation from Governor Brian Kemp for outstanding service to the firefighting profession. King was presented with the honor at a ceremony held in February at the Capitol in Atlanta.
The commendation read: “Whereas the Georgia State Firefighters Association (GSFA) recognizes the importance of acknowledging outstanding service to the profession; and Donalsonville Fire Chief Dean King recently completed his tenure on the GSFA Board of Directors, having served in many officer positions, including President from 2014-2016 and Immediate Past President from 2016- 2018; and whereas Chief King has served in  the fire service for over 40 years and  has been an instructor  and mentor  locally, across the state, and nationally. He  has helped many departments  design and build fire training grounds  and worked at  the  Georgia Fire Academy, and
Whereas Chief King is credited with pulling together the group of individuals to create the Georgia Cancer Coalition and begin work on the Firefighters Cancer Bill; and is also a charter member and Past President of the Southwest Georgia Fire  Chiefs   Association  and  currently  serves  as  the  Chairman  of   the  Training Committee, now
Therefore, I, Brian P. Kemp, Governor of the State of Georgia do hereby commend Donalsonville Fire Chief Dean King for his outstanding service to the profession.”
Davis Ponder is now
U. S. Army Ranger Ponder
(3/14/19) On Friday, March 8, the U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence announced that Davis Ponder and 150 additional soldiers met the standards and graduated the Ranger Course at Ft. Benning in Columbus.
Davis is the son of Karen and Ernest Ponder of Donalsonville. Beaming with pride and proudly displaying his ranger badge on his left shoulder Davis commented, “I would like to thank each and every person who has played a part in my life to get me to this point. I am looking forward to serving my country with pride and determination.”
Davis will now continue his service to his country as a member of the 10th Mountain Division stationed at U.S. Army Fort Drum in New York.
Literary Team State runner-up
(3/21/19) It’s another winning year for the Seminole County High Chorus and Drama department! The Literary team, who recently won first place at Region competition, traveled to Georgia Military College in Milledgeville last Saturday, to compete with many schools from all over the state. After a long day of singing, writing, acting and speaking, the Seminoles earned a coveted spot on the platform.
After this year’s competition, Seminole now has the reigning 2019 State Boys and Girls Soloists, Will Cobb and Abigail Grantham and Samantha McLendon won the state’s first place medal  in Argumentative Essay.
Results for each member of the State Runner-up Literary team include Bailey Fields, third in quartet; Jordan
Williams, third in quartet; Autumn Sherrer, third in trio;
Abigail Grantham, first in girls’ solo, third in trio; David
Pollock, third in humorous interpretation; Samantha McLendon, first in argumentative essay; Radhika Patel, fourth in personal essay; Dallan Heard, third in quartet, second in duo interpretation; Will Cobb, first in boys’ solo, third in quartet, and second in duo interpretation; Will Pace, third in International
extemporaneous; Torie Lambert, third in trio, and Caden
Kearns, fifth in dramatic interpretation.
Decatur-Seminole Forestry Unit named South Georgia
Co-Unit of the Year
(3/21/19) The Decatur-Seminole County Forestry Unit was named a Georgia Forestry Commission 2018 South Georgia Co-Unit of the Year.
This is the third time the Decatur County unit has earned this distinction, and the first time the combined Decatur-Seminole County unit has earned the unit of the year. This marks the fifth time the Decatur County unit has been nominated. The Worth County unit was named as the other South Georgia co-unit of the year.
The Decatur-Seminole Forestry Unit consists of Chief Ranger Rodney Heard, Decatur County Rangers Bryan Cottles, Terry Heard and Van Smith, and Seminole County Rangers Gabe Lowry and Keith Revells.  The Forestry Rangers traveled to Georgia’s Capitol in February to be recognized by the Governor and members of the General Assembly.
Members of the unit assisted in the clearing of roads within hours of Hurricane Michael’s passing, and they are continuing numerous efforts toward the recovery of the devastating storm. The rangers also assisted the county’s emergency management agency with emergency shelters such as deploying cots and other supplies such as pallets of water and food.
Firehouse BBQ Festival and Cook-off to heat up April 5, 6
(3/28/19) The first annual Fire House BBQ Festival and Cook-off, sponsored by the Donalsonville Downtown Development Authority, is set to fire up the grills and cook up a fun filled event for the entire family Saturday, April 6. The Georgia Barbecue Association sanctioned event will be held at the new Donalsonville Fire Station located at 300 North Tennille Avenue in Donalsonville.
The Georgia Barbecue Association Cook-off opens with a cooking team meeting at 5 p.m. on Friday, April 5.  Once each team has been cleared for participation, flames will be lit and smoke will rise to signal the cooking to start and the competition  will officially begin. BBQ teams will cook through the night hoping, that with the morning light, their grilling skills, secret techniques and ingredients will have helped them to grill up the winning recipe for their part of the event’s $10,000 prize package.
On Saturday, April 6 the BBQ Festival officially opens at 10 a.m. Live music featuring the Dallas Waddle Band will perform from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. and a wide variety of food and beverage selections for the entire family will be on hand. The Seminole County Young Farmers will be selling hamburgers and BBQ sandwiches, and additional vendors will be offering flavored coffees, smoothies, drinks, Italian ice, funnel cakes, cotton candy, candy apples and more.
A huge fun zone will be open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. for the young and the young at heart. Kid Zone arms bands will be sold for $10 and will give the wearer unlimited all day fun.
There will be something for everyone to do on Saturday; take a tour of the BBQ team tents and watch the master chefs in action, walk back in time as you visit the Memories Antique Car Show and don’t forget to buy a ticket for the festival’s end of day basket raffle.
Awards and cash prizes will be presented at 4 p.m. The event’s payout for cooking categories of pork loin, pulled pork and ribs is $10,000. The Grand Champion and Reserve Champion will receive $2000 plus a trophy; first through fifth place winners will receive a cash award plus a trophy and sixth through tenth place winners will receive a cash award plus a certificate.
Abigail Grantham crowned Miss Donalsonville
(3/28/19) The Miss Donalsonville pageants were held this past Saturday, with the theme of “Singin’ in the Rain: Stronger After The Storm”. The first pageant was a competition among several contestants vying for the titles of Baby Miss, Teeny Miss, and Tiny Miss.  At the end of the competition, the queens were as follows: Baby Miss Donalsonville is Wrenli Alday, Teeny Miss Donalsonville is Charlotte Bradley, Tiny Miss Donalsonville is Harper Kelly.  In the Peoples’ Choice category chosen by all the audience members, the winner was Ms. Georgia-Kate Hill.
The second pageant featured the contestants from the Little Miss to the Miss divisions.  Each contestant in these divisions prepared a short statement about how the area has overcome the hurricane, and also competed in categories such as interview, modeling, formal wear, and on-stage questions.
The 2019 Miss Donalsonville Royal Court queens were judged to be Director’s Choice Halle Roberts, Miss Hospitality Cassidy McConnell, Miss Donalsonville Darling Tiffany Peterson, Little Miss Donalsonville Maggie Miller, Young Miss Donalsonville Brinn Womack, Tiny Miss Donalsonville Harper Kelly, Junior Miss Donalsonville Anna Claire Mock, Teen Miss Donalsonville Hattie Harrision, and the 2019 Miss Donalsonville is Abigail Grantham, daughter of Holly and Bradley Grantham.
The pageants were under the direction of Mrs. Mindy Strickland and Ms. Dainyell Long.

APRIL
Ameris Bank donates to Donalsonville Hospital
(4/4/19) Donalsonville Hospital is the beneficiary of a major gift from Ameris Bank. As part of the Georgia HEART Hospital Program, Ameris has contributed $1.65 million in financial support to 16 rural hospitals in the bank’s service area throughout Georgia, which is more than double its contribution of $800,000 in 2018.
Donalsonville Hospital will receive $40,000 from Ameris and bank officials made the presentation last week to Hospital Administrator Chuck Orrick, Chief Financial Officer James Moody and Comptroller Katie Hatcher.
The Georgia HEART Hospital Program, funded through the Rural Hospital Tax Credit, enables Georgia businesses and taxpayers to redirect their Georgia income tax liability to help support these qualified hospitals.
SCHS Tennis Indians are
Area 1A Champs
(4/18/19) On Wednesday and Thursday the Seminole County Middle High School boys tennis team competed in the Area 1-A Tournament in Bainbridge.  The Indians clinched the Area Championship and moved into the final sixteen by defeating Marion County and Taylor County.
They will now head to state competition with the goal of bringing home the top prize.
The Indians will enter the state tournament as the number one seed and face the number four seed from Area 4.
Karsyn Blanchard majorette for Troy University Band
(4/18/19) One of our community’s own, Karsyn Blanchard, has been selected to join Troy University’s Sound of the South Band’s majorette line for the 2019-20 school year. For the last ten years, Karsyn has been an active twirler at Persnickety Studios where she now teaches baton.
She attended Seminole County High School and was a member of the Green Machine majorette line her Freshmen year and captain of the line her Sophomore year. Karsyn has been feature twirler for the Miller County High School Pirate Pride her Junior and Senior years.
Karsyn is the daughter of Gary and Angela Turner from Jakin and the late Dale Blanchard. Her siblings are sister Kaylee Blanchard and brothers Cullen and Justin Turner. Her proud grandmother is Marla Touchton.
Williams steps down
as Indians’ head coach
(4/18/19) Seminole County Middle High School Head football coach Wes Williams informed School Superintendent Brinson Register and the Seminole County Board of Education of his intentions to step down as the head football coach for the Seminole County Indians.
Williams commented, “I have decided to resign as the head football coach at Seminole County. I knew when I took the job that we were going into somewhat of a rebuilding phase and I feel as though we have made significant strides towards that goal. Making the playoffs this year with all the difficulties our school and community went through is something I am very proud of. We have a lot of young talent in our program right now and several of the teams in our region are losing lots of  key players. I feel like now is the time for someone new to come in and lead our program to the expectations of competing for region and state championships every year. I appreciate tremendously the support of my assistant coaches and the touchdown club.”
Jernigan elected to FPCB Board
(4/18/19) First Port City Bank of Bainbridge, Georgia, is pleased to announce the recent election of Nancy Jernigan to its Board of Directors.
Nancy has been employed with First Port City Bank since October of 2015 and has served as Executive Vice President and Chief Lending Officer. She has a BBA degree from the University of Central Arkansas, was the Graduate of Distinction in her class at the Georgia Banking School at UGA, and also graduated from the Graduate School of Banking at LSU. Nancy is very active in the southwest Georgia community as she is member of the Donalsonville/Seminole County Chamber of Commerce, the Donalsonville Lion’s Club, and the Donalsonville Woman’s Club. She serves on the Seminole County Library Board, the Seminole County Industrial Development Board, and the Community Foundation of Southwest Georgia Board.
Nancy and her husband, Alex, have four children and attend the Friendship United Methodist Church in Donalsonville where she serves on the Finance Committee and the Family Ministries Committee.
SCES to perform Disney’s
Little Mermaid, Jr. on
Cherry Street May 2
(4/25/18) Hurricane Michael may have wreaked havoc with the physical facilities at Seminole County Elementary School; however, it did not destroy the spirit of its students, especially the ones practicing and preparing for their musical performance of Disney’s Little Mermaid Jr. – Thursday evening, May 2. Michael may have damaged the school’s auditorium, but as they say in show business, the show must go on – and it is. This year’s annual Seminole County Elementary musical extravaganza performance will be held in downtown Donalsonville on Cherry Street.
The cast of third, fourth and fifth grade students,  directed by Tony and Joy Buczek with the assistance of Angie Carr, will take you under the seas right in the middle of downtown. First and second grade students, under the direction of  Robbie Smith, will provide a short concert at 5:45 p.m. and the production of The Little Mermaid Jr., will begin immediately after the first and second grade performance.
Tennis Indians advance to Final Four
(4/25/19) The Seminole County Indians tennis team has served notice that  its  #1 goal is winning the State Championship. On Tuesday team members served themselves one step closer to that goal by defeating Irwin County 3-1 and advancing to the Final Four.  The team will travel to Commerce, Georgia on Friday, April 26 and play at 11 a.m.  The team consists of Chandler Hinton #1 singles, Carson Odom #2 singles, WC  Craft #3 singles, Preston Drake and Jay Palmer #1 doubles, and Cortavius Faison and Parth Patel #2 doubles.  Alternates include Jad Deal, Moses James, Ricky Coachman, and Rudra Patel.
Hurricane Michael upgraded to Category 5
(4/25/19) We all awakened on the morning of October 10th last year with a feeling of fear and foreboding. We had gone to bed with a strengthening category 3 hurricane 220 miles south of Panama City. We awakened to the worst news possible. The hurricane was a category 4 storm with top winds of 140 mph and there seemed to be no end to the pressure drop. The central pressure was down to 943 millibars and it continued to fall at a dizzying rate.
There had never been a hurricane rated category 4 or higher on the Florida Panhandle, and now that seemed a certainty. And certainly, it couldn’t become a category 5. Could it?
Scientists at NOAA’s National Hurricane Center conducted a detailed post-storm analysis on all the data available for Hurricane Michael and have determined that the storm’s estimated intensity at landfall was 140 knots (160 mph). This final wind intensity is a 5 knot (5 mph) increase over the operational estimate and makes Michael a category 5 storm on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale at the time of landfall near Mexico Beach and Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida.
Michael is the first hurricane to make landfall in the United States as a category 5 since Hurricane Andrew in 1992, and only the fourth on record. The others are the Labor Day Hurricane in 1935 and Hurricane Camille in 1969. Michael is also the strongest hurricane landfall on record in the Florida Panhandle and only the second known category 5 landfall on the northern Gulf coast.

MAY
Georgia Tourism awards funding to chamber
(5/2/19) Georgia Tourism, a division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development(GDEcD), announced last week that it has awarded a tourism product development grant in the amount of $5,000 to the Donalsonville-Seminole County Chamber of Commerce.
In an effort to support and encourage Georgia’s tourism entities to create new tourism product, Georgia Tourism offers this grant to communities who participated in the department’s Tourism Product Development Resource Team program. The Tourism Product Development Resource Team program works to evaluate a community’s  potential for tourism growth and development through innovative and unique experiences based on a community’s  local culture and heritage.
The Donalsonville-Seminole Chamber of Commerce will use the funding for the creation and printing of marketing materials including a full-color area attraction brochure and attractive directional signage
Diamond Indians to host state playoff series at home
(5/2/19) The Seminole County Baseball Indians, (19 wins, 7 losses)  the #7 seed in the state Class A public school power ratings, received a bye in the first round of the state playoffs. The Diamond Indians will host the Wilcox County  Patriots, (11 wins, 11 losses) in the second round in a best-of-three series beginning today, Thursday, May 2nd with a double header.
The first pitch is at 4 p.m. and the second game will immediately follow beginning around 6:30 p.m. If a Friday game is necessary, it will begin at 5:00 p.m. The Diamond Indians have a season record of nineteen wins and seven losses.
Team players include Shamal Hopkins, Ty Moulton, Kase Barber, Ty Williams, Ashton Childree, Aubrey Johnson, Cleve Cofty, Baylor Williams and Owen Cross; Logan Jones, Payton Price, Isaac Long, Jacob Jarvis, Aiden Sherrer, Chase Smith, Peyton Bishop, Hunter Hodges and Brock Dixon. Truett Johnson is the head coach and Wes Williams and Chris Johnson are assistant coaches.
Lady Indians take top
honors in Area 1-A Golf
(5/2/19) The Seminole County Lady Indians Golfers came out on top once again in the Area 1-A Golf Tournament held in Hawkinsville.  This is the third year in a row the Lady Indians have claimed the title.  The Ladies will now advance to the State Golf Championship that will also be held in Hawkinsville at Southern Hills.
Indians Linksters claim Area 1-A Championship
(5/2/19) The Seminole County Indians Boys Golf team capped off a successful season by winning the Class 1-A Area Golf Championship this past Monday in Hawkinsville. The boys will now advance to the State Golf Championship on May 20th and 21st in Warner Robbins.
Tennis Indians make history in their State title loss
(5/9/19) The Seminole County Indian tennis team had already made history even before they took the courts in Tuesday’s State Championship match. These Indians had advanced higher than any other tennis team in the school’s history by playing their way into  the state finals. The season may have not ended as the team had hoped, falling to Telfair County 3-2; however, as the team members hoisted the state’s runner-up trophy, every green-bleeding Seminole County Indian fan who had followed their tremendous success this season still considered them number one.
The Indians defeated Commerce Friday, April 26, three matches to one to advance to the title game. They defeated Irwin County, three matches to one, to reach the Final Four.
Diamond Indians in
final eight
(5/9/19)The Seminole County Diamond Indians won Friday’s home playoff series game against Wilcox County in a deciding third game by a score of 7-3.
The Indians advanced to the final eight round of the GHSA State Baseball Playoffs and will play a best of three series with Gordon Lee in Chickamauga, Georgia in a double header scheduled for May 8. A third if necessary game would be played on May 9.
Veteran coach Trey Woolf hired to lead Indians
(5/16/19) The Seminole County Indians have a new head football coach. The Seminole County Board of Education voted Monday night to hire former Early County football head coach and athletic director Trey Woolf to lead the Indian football program.
Woolf retired from Early County High School in  Blakely,  in June of 2017 after 27 years with the school system, including the last 16 as its head coach. A graduate of Early County High School and Valdosta State, Woolf began his 32-year coaching career when Seminole County head coach Walt Landing called and asked him to join the Indians’ staff as an assistant football and baseball coach in 1986. From 1988-89 he was the assistant football coach, assistant basketball coach and head baseball coach at Fannin County. In 1990 he joined the Early County Bobcat  staff as its assistant football coach, assistant baseball coach and head golf coach. He became the Early County head football coach in 2000 and added the title of the school’s athletic director in 2005
Woolf is the winningest and longest tenured coach in Bobcat football history. He guided Early County to 105 wins, taking eight of his 16 teams to the state playoffs. His 2001 team reached the Class AA state championship game.
Woolf succeeds former Indians head football coach Wes Williams who announced his retirement from the position in April.
Council appoints three to preservation commission
(5/16/19) At the May 7 meeting, the City Council of Donalsonville selected three citizens, Becky Grantham, David Maxwell and Sheila Williams, to serve on the city’s newly formed Historic Preservation Commission. In approving the appointments it was noted by the city manager and council that each of the appointees has a heart for the preservation of the City’s history and also are experienced in creating opportunities for growth by working with other groups such as the Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Development Authority, the BetterWay Initiative and Donalsonville-Seminole County Economic Development Authority as well as local governmental entities. These three will work closely with the Council and the State of Georgia Historical Development Commission to secure training and resources to help establish the organization, as well as the priorities and goals of this commission.
The establishment of the Historic Preservation Commission also moves the city, chamber of commerce and development authority one step closer in the application process of applying for designation as a Georgia R.U.R.A.L. (Revitalizing Underdeveloped Rural Areas Legislation) Zone,
Passed in 2017 by the Georgia State Legislature,  the Rural Zone program offers an attractive package of economic development incentives for a five year designated period.
Seminole County Commissioner Darius Culverson honored as ACCG Advocate of the Year
(5/16/19) The Association County Commissioners of Georgia, also known as ACCG or Georgia’s County Association, recently awarded Seminole County Commissioner Darius Culverson with the 2019 Leadership Development Advocate of the Year Award. Each year, ACCG uses its Awards and Recognition Program to honor individuals that work to further the mission of county government, ACCG, or both. Culverson accepted the award during the 2019 ACCG Annual Conference at the Savannah Convention Center. Culverson is one of two commissioners to receive the award.
Culverson was first elected as Seminole County Commissioner in 2011. By 2013, he not only became a Certified County Commissioner, but he also completed his first specialty track course – Water Management. Since 2013, Culverson has successfully completed 45 specialty track classes including the recent completion of his 44th and 45th specialty track at this year’s ACCG Annual Conference.
Seminole County golf teams capture Top 5 finish in State
(5/23/19) The Seminole County High School boys and girls golf teams completed another successful season by finishing fifth place overall in GHSA state competition on Monday and Tuesday.  The boys team carded a two day total of 716 to capture the top 5 finish.  Jay Palmer led the Indians with rounds of 87 and 85.  The Lady Indians also captured a top 5 finish this year, led by Macy Williams who shot 94 and 83 to place the lady’s team.

JUNE
Georgia Press Association awards the Donalsonville News for its service to the community
(6/6/19) Each year the Georgia Press Association (GPA) partners with the Georgia Municipal Association and seeks annual nominations for its Service to the Community Trophy. This award honors the work local newspapers perform throughout the year and is presented to the one newspaper in Georgia judged to have made the greatest contribution of lasting social importance to its local community. At last Thursday’s opening luncheon of the Georgia Press Association’s 133rd annual convention, the 2019 Service to the Community Trophy was presented to the Donalsonville News.
The recognition cited the newspaper’s service to its community before and during the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, its contribution to the betterment of the community, the promotion of the BetterWay Initiative, the paper’s identification of specific issues of concern, its support for solutions to the problem and honored the personal involvement of the newspaper’s staff for making a positive, clear and lasting effect on the community.
In addition to the Service to the Community Trophy, the Donalsonville News received six additional awards from Friday’s 2019 Georgia Press Association Better Newspaper and Advertising Contests. The Donalsonville News was awarded first place in the small page advertising category, second place for lifestyle and community service, second place in special sections for its Veterans Day Salute, second place in full color advertising, second place in classified page design and second place in advertising campaign category.
Downtown Development
Authority receives
Rural Business Grant
(6/20/19) In a signing ceremony last week at City Hall the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) officially awarded the Donalsonville Downtown Development Authority (DDDA) a Rural Business Development Grant (RBDG) in the amount of $99,999. As a stipulation in receiving the grant the DDDA must provide a $10,001 contribution in matching funds to be applied to the proposed scope of  work of the grant’s designated downtown revitalization project.
The $99,999 grant funds received, along with the DDDA’s contribution of $10,001, will be used to purchase, repair and renovate the Front Porch Marketplace building located at 100 East Second Street in downtown Donalsonville. The Front Porch Marketplace, developed as a small and emerging private business incubator through a USDA grant received by the DDDA four years earlier, has been leasing the Second Street location since its inception.
Southern Regional names new President
(6/27/19) Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) Commissioner Matt Arthur has appointed Southern Regional Technical College Provost James “Jim” Glass, the new president to lead Southern Regional Technical College (SRTC). SRTC has instructional sites located in Seminole, Decatur, Early, Miller, Grady, Colquitt, Mitchell, Thomas, Tift, Turner, and Worth counties.
Glass has worked for Southern Regional Technical College for four years since merging with Moultrie Technical College in 2015 where he worked since 2003. Glass began his postsecondary career as Director of Instruction for Albany Technical College in 1999. Prior to his leadership roles at Georgia technical colleges, Glass spent 13 years in secondary education as a teacher, assistant principal, and principal in Albany.
Glass holds an Associate of Science degree from South Georgia College, a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Augusta State University, and a Master of Education degree from Georgia Southwestern State University. Glass will assume his new role effective July 1st.
The State Board of the Technical College System of Georgia approved Commissioner Arthur’s appointment of Mr. Glass on Tuesday, June 25th in Atlanta.
JULY
Mayor Dan Ponder elected to GMA Board of Directors
(7/4/19) Donalsonville Mayor Dan E. Ponder, Jr. was elected to the Board of Directors for the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) during the association’s annual meeting in Savannah June 23.
Ponder was also appointed to serve as First Vice President of GMA’s Tenth District. The district includes cities in the following counties: Seminole, Terrell, Lee, Calhoun, Dougherty, Worth, Colquitt, Thomas, Grady, Mitchell, Baker, Decatur, Miller, Early and Calhoun.
10U All Stars in
Dixie Youth Final Four
(7/11/19) On July 5th, the Seminole County 10U All Star team traveled to Cochran, Georgia for the opening weekend of the Dixie Youth Baseball State Tournament. Unfortunately, Seminole County did not play their best baseball in game one vs Cochran and found themselves on the wrong end of  a 14-2 score. With their backs against the wall, Seminole County came back Saturday, July 6th, with something to prove, needing to win both games to have a chance to move on to the Final Four, to be held next weekend.
Saturday found Seminole County facing off with Dooly in their second game of the tournament. Thanks to a complete game thrown by Luke Akers, a solid catching performance from Cullen Hicks, and some excellent defensive plays from Jack Palmer, Ellis Denham, and Brody Rogerson, Seminole County was able to outlast Dooly, 2-1.
That meant all that stood between Seminole County and a return to Cochran for a Final Four appearance, was the Wrens All Star team, who returned nine players from their team that placed second at state last year.
In the top of the sixth inning Preston Deal was hit by a pitch and Luke Akers got a hit, to put two runners on when Reed Phillips hit a line drive double down the right field line, scoring Deal and Akers. That ended up being the dagger, boosting Seminole to a 4-2 win. Also aiding in the victory were solid pitching performances from Colt Williams and Luke Scott.
The Seminole County 10U All Star team will return to Cochran Friday, July 12th, to compete in the Final Four, along with Irwin County, Cochran, and Taylor County in a four team double elimination format.
Murder suspect captured
in Donalsonville
(7/11/19) Early Monday morning, July 1, around 2 a.m., Decatur County E911 dispatched Bainbridge Public Safety (BPS) officers to the Emergency Room of Memorial Hospital in Bainbridge in reference to a person shot.
According to BPS Investigator Chip Nix, a card game at a residence on Dennard Street in Bainbridge turned into an altercation, resulting in the shooting of Leon Monroe Chandler, 34. The shooter, who fled the scene, was identified as Jamel Christopher Jackson, 48 and was considered armed and dangerous.
At approximately 4:23 p.m. that afternoon (July 1) the Donalsonville Police Department  (DPD) received information from Seminole County E911 that Jackson, the murder suspect wanted in Bainbridge, was believed to be inside a local business in Donalsonville. DPD officers Sgt. David Brunson, Lt. Greg Long and Officer Tyler Hickman responded to investigate.
Upon arrival at the business, the officers entered, identified Jackson and quickly took the suspect into custody without incident. Jackson was transported to the Seminole County Jail and later picked up by Bainbridge Public Safety Investigators and taken to the Decatur  County Jail.
Booster Club formed
to benefit all sports!
(7/18/19) The Seminole County School System proudly announces the creation of the Seminole County Athletic Booster Club.  This non-profit 501(c)3 organization has been formed to support all the student athletes within the local middle-high school.  Instead of multiple groups trying to support a specific sports team, this group of community leaders has been formed to support all the teams, from football to cross country, basketball to cheerleading.
The purpose of the Seminole County Athletic Booster Club is to support, promote and encourage all Seminole County Middle-High School athletes. The club’s general fund financial support will vary from year to year. However, the funds will primarily be used for encouraging school spirit in various ways, capital improvements not covered by the school, recognition banquets and receptions, equipment replacement and maintenance not covered by the school, team travel expenses not covered by the school, senior athlete gifts, athletic signage and banners, and anything else the sports teams need that the organization votes to support.
The club’s goals for the upcoming year in addition to the selling of club sponsorships include the staffing of all sports’ concession stands, the design and sale of T-shirts, holding a Fall and Spring athletic banquet and the staging of community pep rallies. The first pep rally is set for August 15, the night before the Indians season opening scrimmage game against Early County. The pep rally will be held at Seminole Stadium and the gates will open at 6:30 p.m.
Bryant Garland tragically killed
(7/18/19) Citizens of Seminole County, Southwest Georgia and throughout the tri-state region mourned the sudden loss of the 2018 Seminole County Ag Person of the Year, Bryant Garland. Co-owner and operator of Seminole Stockyard in Donalsonville and a friend to every person he met, Garland was tragically killed in the line of duty at the Stockyard Monday evening, July 15. Funeral services for Mr. Garland will be held on Thursday, July 18 at 11:00 a.m. in the chapel of Evans-Skipper Funeral Home in Donalsonville.

AUGUST
Cindy Meadows receives
4-H Booth Award
(8/1/19) Cindy Meadows of Seminole County was recently awarded the Southwest District William H. Booth Award which recognizes the outstanding work of Georgia extension agents involved in the 4-H program.
The Booth Awards, sponsored by Georgia Electric Membership Corp., were presented on July 25th in Atlanta during the Annual Georgia 4-H State Congress. Georgia 4-H’ers and county/state faculty and staff were honored at a banquet held the final evening of the three-day event.
Meadows has worked in extension for 19 years in Seminole County and was appointed as county extension coordinator. In her role as an extension agent, she has led 20 students to be District and State Officers, 44 students to State Congress, and 1,000 members to participate in 4-H Judging Teams.
The William H. Booth Award is an honor acknowledging both peer recognition and career achievement. Extension agents from all four districts were elected from their district for seven+ years in 4-H professional achievement, 4-H educational development, professional and university service, and philosophy. Nominees must complete a rigorous application and interview process.
APGG opens state-of-the-art blanching facility
(8/8/19) American Peanut Growers Group (APGG) hosted a special ribbon cutting celebration Tuesday, August 6th at 11 a.m. to mark the opening of its new state-of-the-art blanching facility within the APGG complex located at 5212 Georgia Highway 39 in Donalsonville.  The new blanching facility will add 17 full time jobs, a substantial increase to the local property tax base, and will be an economic boost to the Donalsonville and surrounding tri-state communities.
President and CEO Neal Flanagan welcomed a standing room only crowd of employees, board members and community, state and national leaders. Speaking to the crowd after Flanagan,  Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black praised the company for its far forward thinking  and its positive impact on the Southwest Georgia region and beyond. Dignitaries addressing the crowd also included USDA’s Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach and Donalsonville Mayor Dan Ponder.
APGG is a grower owned peanut shelling facility with 109 member owners from southwest Georgia, northwest Florida, and southeast Alabama.  The APGG project is an exemplary model of a community growing from within, and has gained support and attention from both state and national levels.
Zack Alday’s jersey
to be retired Friday
(8/15/19) During halftime of the Seminole County, Early County scrimmage game Friday night, August 16, the Seminole County Indian football #75 jersey of former Indian Matthew “Zach” Alday will be ceremoniously retired.
Navy Hospitalman (E-3) Alday paid the ultimate price in service to his country  when he was killed in action during combat operations against enemy forces in Qaim, Iraq.
Standing 5’ 9” and weighing in at 175 pounds, Alday played linebacker for the Indians and graduated from Seminole County High School in 2002.
Alday becomes the fifth Indian to have his football jersey retired, joining Timothy Jones, Gerald Cainion, Eddie Carthon and Phillip Daniels.

SEPTEMBER
Joyce’s Jog closes chapter with donation for free
mammograms
(9/5/19) Joyce’s Jog founders Karen Ponder and Steffey Vines presented Donalsonville Hospital with  a $13,000  generous donation to close out the twelve year race tradition. Donalsonville Hospital was honored to receive the donation and will be able to offer free mammograms for the entire month of October.
James Moody, Chief Financial Officer at Donalsonville Hospital said, “We are so thankful to Joyce’s Jog for allowing us to fulfill the legacy of Joyce Payne Henley by offering patients the best in 3D mammography diagnostic testing.”
While Joyce’s Jog has officially ended, the tradition and meaning will live on in the newly created Rejoice Run & Mom’s Mile.
Beginning Sept. 24 dial 911 for a Police emergency
(9/12/19) Effective Tuesday, September 24 all emergency callers to the Donalsonville Police Department (DPD) are asked to dial 911.
“Safety and providing the most efficient service to our citizens are our number one priorities,” commented Donalsonville Police Chief Woodrow Blue.
By directing all emergency calls through the Seminole County 911 Center’s system  DPD will have access to an accurate address for each caller and a recording of the call.
Non emergency callers to the Donalsonville Police Department will dial 229-524-2175.
Big Jim’s cooking for state title at Jekyll’s Shrimp and Grits Festival
(919/19) Chef Aaron Rognstad, along with mom and dad, Reed and Steve Rognstad of Lake Seminole’s Big Jim’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar, will battle it out in the “Georgia’s Best Shrimp & Grits” cooking competition this weekend at Jekyll Island’s Shrimp & Grits Festival held annually at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel.
The Seminole County team will take on eight other chefs from eateries across the state including the 2018 defending champion, Eagle Creek Brewing Company from Statesboro, the 2016 champion, West Egg Café in Atlanta, and returning competitors Sweet Potato Café from Stone Mountain, Honey Café in Millen, and the Jekyll Island Club Resort. New contenders joining Big Jim’s include The Blue Bicycle in Dawsonville, Natalia’s in Macon, and The Lodge at Sea Island, located on neighboring St. Simons Island.
Fire Chief Dean King receives 2019 President’s Award
(9/26/19) GAFC President Charles Wasdin presented the Georgia Association of Fire Chiefs 2019 President’s Award to Donalsonville Fire Rescue Chief Dean King in recognition of his many years of dedicated service, accomplishments, and contributions to the Georgia Fire Service.
President Wasdin presented the award to Chief King at the annual Georgia Fire Service Conference held last week in Albany.
Will Pace appointed to
Student Advisory Council
(9/26/19) Seminole County Middle/ High School is proud to announce that Will Pace has been selected among an  elite group of young people to represent our school and our area at the State Capitol.  Mr. Kent Richardson, school principal, states, “We would like to congratulate Will and offer him our total support as he begins this exciting endeavor in representing Seminole County and for his many accomplishments in achieving this honor.”
The State Superintendent of Schools’ student advisory council is a group of students in grades seven through twelve who discuss how decisions made at the state level are affecting students throughout Georgia.

OCTOBER
Green Machine earns Superiors
(10/3/19) Last Saturday the Seminole County Green Machine Marching Band traveled to Alabama to participate in the ninth Annual Rehobeth High School Marching Festival.  Twenty seven bands from Georgia, Florida, and Alabama performed under a scorching sun for ratings and school pride.  Each band was judged in the following areas:  Drum Major, Color Guard, Majorettes, Drum Line, General Effect, Music, and Marching and Maneuvering.  Each area is scored from a one (superior, top score) to a four (poor, lowest score), with Seminole County earning ones (superiors) in all areas.
This was the fifth year in a row that the Green Machine made all Superiors in marching and/or concert band, and marks eight out of the last ten years that they earned at least an overall superior at every marching and concert festival they have attended.   Additionally, the Green Machine won “Best Overall Band” at the 2016 BandJam Festival here in Donalsonville.
Little Miss Donalsonville to participate in the
National Peanut Festival Pageant
(10/03/19) Maggie Miller, the seven-year-old daughter of Joey and Jessica Miller, was crowned Little Miss Donalsonville in March. Since being crowned, she has been preparing to represent Donalsonville in the Little Miss National Peanut Festival Pageant which will be held at the Dothan Civic Center on Saturday, October 12th at 6 p.m. EST. Forty-six contestants will vie for the title from Georgia, Florida and Alabama. The young ladies will compete in an interview that morning and on-stage competition that afternoon. This Summer the girls wrote an essay for the written communications portion of the pageant.
Maggie is in the second grade at Southwest Georgia Academy. She enjoys dance, baton twirling and livestock showing. She has one brother, Paxton.
Public hearings set to discuss proposed property tax increase
(10/10/19) The Seminole County Board of Commissioners has announced its intention to increase the property taxes it will levy this year by 6.71 percent over the rollback millage rate.
Each year, the board of tax assessors is required to review the assessed value for property tax purposes of taxable property in the county to re-determine the value of such property and adjust the assessment. This is called a reassessment. Additional decreases in property values have occurred as a result of the extensive damage caused by Hurricane Michael.
When the total digest of taxable property is prepared, Georgia law requires that a rollback millage rate must be computed that will produce the same total revenue on the current year’s digest that last year’s millage rate would have produced had no reassessments occurred.
The budget adopted by the Seminole County Board of Commissioners requires a millage rate higher than the rollback millage rate; therefore, before the Seminole County Board of Commissioners may finalize their tentative  budget and set a final millage rate, Georgia law requires three public hearings to be held to allow the public an opportunity to express their opinions on the increase.
Indians’ cross country team wins Region 1-A
(10/17/19) The Seminole Co. varsity boys took first place overall and were crowned Region 1-A champions this past Tuesday in Camilla. The boys edged out second place Baconton Charter by three points to take home the first place hardware.
The Indians were led by Senior Larry King, who finished Region runner-up with a strong second place finish. The Indians placed two more inside the top 10 as Senior Terryan Bryant finished eighth overall and Sophomore Baylor Williams finished tenth.
The Indians will now compete in the area championship this Thursday in Americus for the right to get to the GHSA state competition in Carrollton.
Seminole runner Macy Batchelor was the Region 1-A individual champion in the girls meet on Tuesday in Camilla. Batchelor, a Junior, blew away the field to claim the title with a stellar time of 24.57. Senior Larry King was Region runner-up in the boys race. Both look to continue their success at the area meet in Americus.
Mom Anne is race’s namesake
(10/17/19) Joyce’s Jog and its twelve year run set the bar high and Steffey Vines with this year’s Rejoice Run and Mom’s Mile plans to continue that high standard of excellence in raising awareness and funds for the fight against breast cancer here in Seminole County.
Steffey’s parents, Anne and Emilio Coirini, were always involved in each year’s previous races and her mom, Anne, is the namesake for the new name of the new run and walk.
Anne was diagnosed with breast cancer in November of 2004 after a routine mammogram. She had a lumpectomy and then had mammosite targeted radiation therapy. She was proud of being a survivor and loved being an active part of Joyce’s Jog.
“Mom passed away in 2018 and I wanted to name the fun run in her memory. I chose Mom’s Mile because not only will she live on in the race she loved but it will help honor others moms who have fought breast cancer,” commented Vines
Handford charged in murder of two-year-old
(10/24/19) The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) has made an arrest in the September death of two-year-old Zayden Brown in Donalsonville. Paresij Handford, a twenty-eight-year old female, was arrested on Thursday, October 17.
On September 12, at approximately 8:16 p.m., the GBI was requested by the Donalsonville Police Department to help conduct an investigation into the death of Brown,  who was pronounced dead at Donalsonville Hospital earlier that day.  The child, born in September of 2016, was later determined to have died from unspecified injuries. After an autopsy was performed at the GBI Crime Lab, Brown’s death was found not to be accidental and was determined to be a homicide.
GBI agents and Donalsonville Police officers interviewed witnesses, obtained evidence related to the case and worked with a GBI medical examiner and staff to conclude the death was not accidental.
On October 17, at approximately 3:00 p.m., Handford, who was reported to be the current girlfriend of the child’s father, was charged with the Brown’s death.  Handford was arrested on one count of felony murder and one count of cruelty to children in the first degree. She was booked into the Seminole County Jail after her arrest.
Agents and police continue to conduct witness interviews and process evidence recovered from the scene and during the investigation.  This case remains active and ongoing.
Any person with information related to the case is urged to call the Donalsonville Police Department at 229-524-2175 or the GBI office in Thomasville at 229-225-4090.
PeoplesSouth Bank supports Donalsonville Hospital
(10/31/19) PeoplesSouth Bank has committed $25,000 to Donalsonville Hospital through the Georgia HEART Rural Tax credit program.
The State of Georgia uniquely empowers its citizens and businesses to make 100% tax credit-eligible contributions to qualified rural hospitals of their choice and help enhance rural healthcare for thousands of Georgians, including those served by Donalsonville Hospital.
“This program has had a tremendous impact on our hospital! In 2018, Donalsonville Hospital raised $590,675 in HEART contributions, which we spent on fire-safety upgrades, technology and communication improvements, and new physician recruitment and startup costs. Georgia HEART contributors like PeoplesSouth Bank have directly enhanced the healthcare services we offer our patients and we thank you,” said James Moody, CFO.
Dallas Burke, Randi New
selected Teachers of the Year
(10/31/19) The Seminole County School System has selected its teachers of the year for 2019-20 school term. Dallas Burke, Seminole County Middle/High School band teacher and director of the Green Machine Marching Band has been selected as the middle/high school teacher of the year. Randi New, Seminole County Elementary School fifth grade social studies teacher has been selected for the elementary school teacher of the year.
Unlike previous years and to provide additional fanfare for the honoree, the Seminole County School System Teacher of the year will not be announced until later in November of this Year.
Sheriff’s Office investigators
make arrests, recover stolen firearms, jewelry and more
(10/31/19) Seminole County Sheriff Heath Elliott has announced the arrest of two individuals, clearing numerous burglaries and thefts in Seminole County dating back to August of this year. Items taken included firearms, jewelry,
a generator, numerous tools, a laptop computer, video games and various collectables.
The two individuals, Michael Stephen Allen and Michael Todd McDaniel, were operating separately and have no known connection between them.  Both subjects were arrested by Investigators Lee Owens and Kyle McLeod of the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office along with members of the Decatur County, Georgia Sheriff’s Office and the Houston County, Alabama Sheriff’s Office.
The first individual is identified as Michael Stephen Allen, 32 years of age from Blakely, Georgia.  Allen is charged with three counts of burglary, one count of felony theft by taking and one count of entering an auto.
The second individual is identified as Michael Todd McDaniel, 44 years of age, from Ashford, Alabama.  McDaniel is currently charged with four counts of burglary, one count of arson in the second degree and 18 counts of theft by taking. Numerous other charges are pending against McDaniel at this time.

NOVEMBER
Councilman Travis Brooks
re-elected; Anne Odom Stark wins Iron City seat
(11/7/19) Vote totals in Tuesday’s General Special Election in Seminole County were dismal, due in part to only two contested races on the ballot.  Incumbent Travis Brooks faced challenger Lola Givens for a City of Donalsonville Council seat representing District 1, Post 2, and incumbent Sara Robinson faced challenger Anne Odom Stark for Town of Iron City Council seat representing Post 1.
With only 141 votes to be counted, Incumbent City Councilperson Brooks received 84 of those votes and defeated challenger Givens, who received 52. Five votes were cast for write in candidates. Brooks received 31 advance votes, one absentee vote and 51 Election Day votes. Givens received 15 advance votes, one absentee vote and 35 Election Day votes. Each candidate had one provisional ballot cast.
In the Iron City race, with only 49 votes to be counted, challenger Stark received 30 of those votes and defeated incumbent councilperson Robinson who received 14. Five votes were also cast in that race for write in candidates. Stark received six advance votes, one absentee vote and 22 Election Day votes. Robinson received four advance votes, one absentee vote and eight Election Day votes. All vote totals are unofficial until certified by the Georgia Secretary of State.
Donalsonville awarded $300,000 CHIP Grant
(11/14/19) Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) has announced the awarding of more than $6.7 million in grants through the state’s 2019 Community HOME Investment Program (CHIP) to 21 Georgia communities and $300,000 of that amount is headed to the City of Donalsonville.
CHIP funds may be used to provide down payment assistance or homeowner rehabilitation funding to eligible low-income and moderate-income households. Eligible communities are those outside of a HUD-designated Participating Jurisdiction as defined by the HOME Program.
Gridiron Indians headed to the playoffs
(11/14/19) The Seminole County gridiron Indians defeated the Miller County Pirates last Friday night 34-16 and the victory in the last home game of the season earned the Indians a spot in the Georgia High School Association Class A State playoffs.
The 5-5 Indians will face the 8-2 Region 2A Wilcox County Patriots Friday night in Rochelle, Georgia. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
The winner of the game will advance in the playoffs to face the Pelham Hornets.
Dallas Burke selected System Teacher of the Year
(11/21/19) The Seminole County School System has selected Dr. Dallas Burke as its System Teacher of the Year for the 2019-20 school term. The Seminole County Middle/High School band teacher and director of the Green Machine Marching Band was previously selected as the middle/high school teacher of the year. Randi New, Seminole County Elementary School fifth grade social studies teacher was selected for the elementary school teacher of the year.
Dallas Burke is a 1990 graduate of Seminole County High School.  He went on to earn his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Troy University, and his Doctorate from the University of Georgia, earning membership in both Phi Kappa Phi (academic) and Pi Kappa Lambda (music) honor societies.  He has additionally earned credits in Composing for Film & TV from Berklee College of Music and is a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia.
“I am humbled to be selected as the teacher of the year,  There are so many teachers, at both schools, that I admire and look up to for my own growth and inspiration,” commented Burke.
Spirit of Christmas festival and parade is Dec. 7
(11/21/19) Organizers of the weather-delayed Harvest Festival and the annual Spirit of Christmas parade  have combined forces to create a kick off the holidays event in downtown Donalsonville on Saturday, December 7th.
Festivities will begin at 1 p.m. and continue through the evening. The Spirit of Christmas Parade will begin at 6 p.m.
At 1 p.m., there will be a Santa Fun Run,   and all participants must wear some element of Santa Claus’ suit to run. Beginning at 2 p.m., the vendors will be open for business, so plan on a late lunch or early supper and get some Christmas shopping done.  “We will have basically the same children’s activities that we had planned for the Harvest Festival, our Motorcycle Stuntman is coming, Caliber Band will perform and Santa Claus will pose for pictures with the kids somewhere near the old Fire Station which will still have the Fine Art Show going on,” commented Chamber of Commerce President Sarah Avery.
If you would like to sign up to be a vendor or a volunteer for the festival call the Chamber at 229-524-2588. If you wish to submit an entry in the parade call Virginia Harrison at 229-400-3772.
DPD awarded Traffic
Enforcement Grant
(11/28/19) The Donalsonville Police Department (DPD) announced that it has been awarded a $20,000 major traffic enforcement grant from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) in Atlanta.
Donalsonville Police Department received the grant in recognition of its lifesaving work as the coordinating agency of GOHS’s Southwest Region Traffic Enforcement Network. There are sixteen traffic enforcement networks across the state that help enforce Georgia’s year-round safety belt, speed and impaired driving, click-it or ticket; One Hundred Days of Summer HEAT; CIOT Border to Border; Operation Zero Tolerance; Operation Southern Shield; Hands Across the Border; and Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, and the Thunder Task Force campaigns.
Commercial State Bank is changing its name
(11/28/19) On December 9, 2019, Commercial State Bank (CSB) in Donalsonville will change their name to Georgia Community Bank (GCB); New Name, Same Faces, Same Commitment.
Commercial State Bank operates as an affiliate bank of a Bank Holding Company, Georgia Community Bancorp, Inc., which has offices in Dawson, Georgia. Along with the name change you will see a new logo, signs, website, and letterhead.
“Our employees will be the same as will our commitment to our community and customers,” commented CSB’s Daivd Fain
One of the exciting aspects of this change is an upgrade in technology and more products. Georgia Community Bank will have a new mobile app., mobile capture, pay to pay and have the ability to be even more responsive to its customers.
On December 16, 1938, Commercial State Bank opened for business on Donalsonville’s Main Street and has been a full service community bank since then providing more than eight decades of service to Seminole County and wiregrass area residents.
Recreation Department teams win Super Bowl
(11/28/19) The Seminole County Recreation Department competed in the Super Bowl in Blakely last Saturday. The A team (11 and 12 year olds) defeated the Eufala team 21-13. This is the first time an A team from Seminole County has won the Super Bowl in this league. The B team (9 and 10 year olds) defeated the Blakely team 12-0. This team was also Super Bowl champions last year.
Members of the nine and ten year old team include Kelvontae Hamilton, Christian Kimble, Keagan Johnson, Jayden Swasey, Zymere Chrispen, Jamaree Hatten, Denija Johnson, Detravious Evans, Ellis Denham, Drew Rogers, Devin Hamilton, Lovondrick Brown, Julian Bastian, Christopher Grigley, Jeremy Barnes, Zalin Martin and Terrance Sims. Coaches are Larry Gray, Shannon Hopkins, Lawrence Martin, Emmett Denham and Terry Sims.
Members of the eleven and twelve year old team include Zariah Martin, Tavarius Cunningham, Bryce Ross, Zakari Henderson, Kamauri Smith, Quentin Chrispen, Devon Gale, Urius Taylor, Kamauri Johnson, Ethan Gravlee, Bryce Murrell, Zackary King, Khamauri Brown, Timothy Brown, Quantez Anderson, Lemon Ceasor, Michael Beard, Daniel Singuefield, Robert Barber and Jimmy Powell. Coaches are Nathan Martin, Jesse Smith, Richard Martin, Eric Elijah, Freddy Holland, Lemon Ceasor and Justin Gravlee.

DECEMBER
Taurus officially opens new facility at Commodore Park in Bainbridge
(12/12/19) Taurus USA made its big move to Georgia official with a grand-opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony in Bainbridge , and the Governor couldn’t be happier.
Taurus’ new U.S. manufacturing facility and center of operations is expected to create 300 jobs in Bainbridge. The company said it outgrew its previous facility in the Miami area and needed to find a new location.
Taurus’ five-year plan foresees continued expansion in U.S. engineering and production for the Taurus, Rossi, and Heritage Manufacturing product lines, and continued investment in Bainbridge. Taurus, manufacturer of premium handguns for defense, hunting, and sporting applications, moves to Bainbridge after four decades in Miami.
SCES to perform Annie, Jr.
(12/12/19) Leapin’ Lizards! Seminole County Elementary students will perform one of the most-loved Musicals, Annie Jr. this weekend at the Seminole County Elementary School (SCES) Auditorium in Donalsonville. Show times are Friday, December 13 at 6 p.m. and Sunday, December 15 at 2:30 p.m.
Show directors Tony and Joy Buczek, along with countless performers and volunteers, have been working non stop for weeks preparing and rehearsing for the performances.
Annie Jr. is dedicated to the memory of Betsy Kelley who worked tirelessly for the furtherance of “The Arts” in Seminole County.
Pole of Light vandalized
and moved to private property
(12/19/19) Due to an act of vandalism and a complaint to the City of Donalsonville by a local resident, Seminole County Warpath on Cancer’s (SCWC) Pole of Light has been moved from its Second Street location to private property.  SCWC’s holiday symbol of hope is now under video surveillance and illuminated by a private citizen’s electricity under the giant flag at the corner of U.S. Highway 84 and Tennille Avenue in the center of downtown Donalsonville.
Sunday evening, December 15, Jan Taylor and David Maxwell discovered the pole’s string of lights had been cut as SCWC’s Taylor attempted to plug in the lights for the evening’s illuminated display. The incident was immediately reported to the Donalsonville Police Department.  Located on Second Street at the north end of Cherry Street, the display was not under video surveillance and determining the identity of the vandals is under investigation by the Donalsonville Police Department.
Last week, the City of Donalsonville also received a complaint by a local citizen stating the Pole of Lights in the shape of a twenty plus foot tall Christian cross, located on public city property in downtown Donalsonville and using city provided electricity, was a violation of their Constitutional rights
The cross’s location on public (city) land potentially violates the First Amendment’s establishment clause, which prohibits the government from favoring one religion over others.
“In an effort to ensure that our municipality is not in violation of the establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution, the lighted cross at the intersection of Cherry Street and East Second Street has been relocated to private property at the center of our City,” commented Donalsonville City Manager Steve Hicks.
The tradition of lighting the Pole of Lights began last December. After losing the opportunity to light the Tree  of Hope – Hurricane Michael destroyed the downtown tree in October of 2018 – SCWC, at the suggestion of Taylor’s daughter suggested the organization light a power pole, not only in memory and in honor of local cancer patients and victims but also as a thank you to all the linemen who sacrificed endless hours to bring the Seminole County community back into the light in the Fall of 2018.
Donalsonville Hospital named one of state’s top three
medium sized hospitals
(12/19/19) Donalsonville Hospital has been named #3 top medium sized hospital in Georgia by Georgia Trend Magazine for 2019. For this list, which includes hospitals that provide a range of services, Georgia Trend evaluated each hospital in the state that participates in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services ( CMS) Hospital Value Based Purchasing Program.
A total performance score based on information including clinical process, patient experience, outcome and efficiency was used to rank hospitals of similar size and mission.
Hospital Administrator Chuck Orrick said, “This top ranking is a testament to the hard work and patient centered care our physicians, nurses and staff provide our community. We are constantly striving to provide the healthcare services, technology and access to care that our patients need and deserve. We are proud to be a leader in community healthcare.”
For more information on the services, physicians and clinics affiliated with Donalsonville Hospital please visit out website www.donalsonvillehospital.org
SCMHS Principal
Kent Richardson retires
(12/25/19) The Seminole County Board of Education announced last week the retirement of Seminole County Middle High School (SCMHS) Principal Kent Richardson. Friday, December 17 was Richardson’s official last day.
On his last day Richardson commented, “It has been a honor and a privilege to be a part of the Seminole County Indian family. The students, faculty, and staff will always hold a special place in my heart.”
Richardson’s tenure with the Seminole County School System began in the Fall of 2008, serving seven years as SCMHS Assistant Principal. He began his top leadership role at SCMHS in the Summer of 2015, serving four and a half years as Principal.
Seminole County School Superintendent Mark Earnest expressed, “We want to wish Mr. Kent all the best on his recent retirement. He has meant so much to so many in our school system. He told me back in November he is ready for the next chapter in his life, and he wants to spend more time with his family. He certainly deserves this time. We appreciate his service to our schools and students.”
The Seminole County Board of Education is currently taking applications for the middle/high school principal vacancy. The position is being advertised on TeachGeorgia, Southwest Georgia RESA website and the Donalsonville News. The deadline for applications to be received by the board is January 31.
The Seminole County Middle/High School council will be involved in the interview process and the board wishes to have a qualified candidate selected and in place for approved at the February board of education meeting.
Blue Tarp Project repairing roofs, restoring hope
(12/25/19) A long-term recovery group founded by area churches and community leaders, the Blue Tarp Project of Seminole County is funded by donations. It operates in partnership with the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), which is working in southwest Georgia to coordinate long term recovery efforts for those impacted by Hurricane Michael. While the Blue Tarp Project focuses on roofs, UMCOR focuses on repairing and restoring the interior of homes, said case manager Josh McElyea.
Most roofs the Blue Tarp Project repairs cost anywhere from $6,000 to $10,000 to replace, and homeowners are responsible for a portion of the cost. Minto and her husband, Glenn, paid for about 30 percent of the cost of their repairs.
While the Blue Tarp Project is helping provide tangible relief, it’s also giving hope and encouragement to people who have lost much, said case manager Billy Williams.
“Some of these people have just accepted the way they’re living,” said Williams, who vets applicants and coordinates aid for the Blue Tarp Project from his office at Friendship UMC. “Their houses leak every time it rains. It’s hard to fathom that more than a year after a hurricane you’ve got this much damage left.”
Williams, a local pharmacist, volunteers his time to the Blue Tarp Project and works tirelessly to advocate on behalf of homeowners. In the two months he’s been involved, 10 roofs have been repaired. There’s probably about 150 more left to fix, he said.
“There are still a lot of needs down here.”
As attentive as Williams is to the homeowner’s physical needs, he’s even more in tune to what’s going on with their spirit. He listens to their stories, meets needs, helps when and how he can, and lets God do the rest.
“The Blue Tarp Project is really a continuation response to the great needs in this community.  Simply put, the goal for the ‘Blue Tarp Project’  is to remove as many tarps as possible,” said Williams.
Through  a generous financial investment designated for Hurricane Michael relief, Blue Tarp Project seeks to assist and help relieve the financial burden for non insured owners who are in need of roof repair.
Part of the challenge now is just identifying those who most need the help. The program is funded through donations, but homeowners are asked to chip in what they can,” added Williams.
The local recovery group also hosts teams doing debris cleanup and general repair volunteers from all over southwest Georgia. “We have about a mission team a week coming in right now. We provide them a space to sleep and eat and just be comfortable while they’re here,” says Lehman.
County residents still in need of roof repairs are encouraged to fill out a short application on the recovery group’s Facebook page. Log in to Facebook and search for the Seminole-Donalsonville Long Term Recovery Group page.
Donations towards the Blue Tarp Project are accepted at Friendship United Methodist Church in Donalsonville.
Blue Tarp is a non-profit organization and depends on donations, when the funds are depleted the project will be suspended. However, a web site called Givelify is receiving donations for Blue Tarp. You can access at Givelify.com then  select Blue Tarp.

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