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| Home | Top | Choose A Destination | Header | Toombs County, Georgia News Radio | Apr 30 | Toombs Relay for Life | Apr 29 | Highway 15 Added to Four-Lane List | Apr 28 | Traffic Deaths | One-Way Contract in Negotiation | Oral Arguments Set | Apr 27 | Onion Market Opens April 28 | Apr 26 | Spring Proms Prompt Questions, Again! | Business Boost in Downtown Lyons | Council OK's Downtown Game Room | Apr 23 | Sewage Spill in Mount Vernon | Apr 20 | Governor Flies Over Vidalia | Onion Cook-Off Winners | Apr 19 | Vidalia Visitors | Apr 18 | Sexual Exploitation Charges Filed | Weekend Fight Results in Arrests | How "Sweet They Are" Labels Cause Conflict | Apr 16 | Funeral for Dog Bite Victim | Apr 15 | Sonny Wednesday | New Toombs High Principal Named | DOT Announces Summer Projects | Apr 14 | Shoney's "Drive-In" | Slim Supply of Onions for Festival | Apr 13 | Vidalia Schools "Strong Financially" | Apr 12 | Onion Shipping Date Set | GEMA Approves Toombs Grant Request | Darby Growing in Savannah | Apr 11 | Vidalia City Council Meets | Public Employees Privacy N/A To Elected Officials | Marketing Push for Vidalia Onions | Onion Queen Crowned | Drug Arrests | Apr 7 | Former Onion Council Employee Indicted | Water Warning in Montgomery County | Apr 1 | Shiavo Case Sparks Interest in Living Wills | References | Bottom |

Toombs County, Georgia News Radio

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(A Note to Readers: The items on these pages are summaries of local radio news stories aired on the three radio stations operated by Vidalia Communications Corporation, i.e., WVOP, 970AM; WTCQ-FM, 98Q at 97.7 mhz; and WYUM-FM, Sweet Onion Country, at 101.7FM. Complete reports are aired near the bottom of almost every hour on these stations.)

April 30

Toombs Relay for Life

April 30-- Hundreds of walkers made their way around Charles Wood Field in Vidalia Friday night in the annual Relay for Life to support cancer research. In closing ceremonies Saturday morning, chairperson Denise Stevens announced this year's campaign raised $95,115, three thousand dollars over the goal. The relay team from Vidalia Federal raised the most money this year, $15,619.

April 29

Highway 15 Added to Four-Lane List

April 29-- If you go to any Georgia football games from South Georgia, you're familiar with Georgia Highway 15 which makes its way from south of Vidalia to Athens. Governor Sonny Perdue came to Middle Georgia Friday afternoon for a ceremony at the intersection of Highway 15 and the Fall Line Freeway just north of Sandersville. The purpose was to sign legislation sponsored by Senator Tommie Williams of Lyons to four-lane Highway 15. The law adds the north-south highway to what's called the Governor's Road Improvement Program (GRIP). Senator Williams says it'll take up to ten years to start work on the project, but this bill makes it eligible for state funding. Meanwhile, Governor Perdue wants to see work starting faster on highway projects all over the state. He supports outsourcing of engineering studies to speed the construction process.

April 28

Traffic Deaths

April 28-- Two area residents have died in traffic accidents. The Georgia State Patrol reports 69-year-old Charley Roberts of Montgomery County was killed in a head-on collision on Highway 297 north of Vidalia. Troopers believe an oncoming car veered over the center line and hit Roberts' vehicle. Roberts was a director of the Georgia Sheriffs' Youth Home board and was returning from a board meeting at the Herrington Homestead when the accident happened early Wednesday afternoon.

The other traffic victim is Rodney Ashley LaBoone of near Lyons. Police in Pooler say his car hit the back of a parked truck on the side on Interstate 16 early Thursday morning. He was on the way to work at Coastal State Prison in Savannah and police believe he may have fallen asleep.

One-Way Contract in Negotiation

April 28-- The Georgia Department of Transportation says new bids were not opened this month to build the Highway 280 one-way pairing project in Vidalia. Instead, a spokesman reports the department is continuing negotiations trying to reduce the cost of the latest apparent low bid which Vidalia city officials said was about $14.8 million. If negotiations aren't successful, new bids may be sought for the June contract letting, according to Senator Tommie Williams of Lyons. The project has been in the works for years and has been stalled since last Fall while the DOT tries to find a contractor.

Oral Arguments Set

April 28-- Lawyers for the Savannah Morning News are asking a Richmond County Superior Court Judge to dismiss civil suits filed against the paper by Vidalia city manager Bill Torrance and his daughter, Sarah. Oral arguments on the suit are scheduled Thursday in Augusta. The Torrances allege they were slandered by the paper in a series on Vidalia published in February, 2003. The paper claims it is protected under the 1st and 14th amendments to the Constitution and was only doing its job of reporting information the public has a right to know.

April 27

Onion Market Opens April 28

April 27-- Vidalia Onion farmers are shipping their sweet onions to market and a handful of farmers are paying extra to certify the sweetness of their product this year. Anthony Cowart farms 500 acres of onions in south Toombs County, and he feels its worth paying National Onion Labs to certify the flavor of his onions. According to Cowart, certified sweetness makes his onions more competitive with sweet onions from South America which are gaining a foothold in the U.S. This year's crop, despite wet weather, should be a good one in terms of onion size and quality, according to Cowart.

April 26

Spring Proms Prompt Questions, Again!

April 26-- Last year Toombs County High School attracted national attention because students were sponsoring three private proms. Since then, the school board okayed a school-sponsored prom and school principal Ralph Hardy says plans are on track for one consolidated school prom May 14th.

However, an article in the Macon Telegraph says such is not the case in nearby Treutlen and Montgomery counties where separate private proms for black and white students still exist.

Montgomery County school superintendent Dale Clark says its not a racial issue and that students of both races have attended private proms together. Clark says the school board is not prepared to pay for a school prom nor does it want to get involved in discipline issues which would be imposed at a school-sponsored prom.

In Treutlen County, school superintendent Chuck Ellington reports the school board has yet to take action on recommendations to establish a school prom next school year if there is sufficient student interest. He expects a board decision will be made once a poll of students is taken. However, Ellington says students would have to raise funds for the prom since public funds would not be used.

Business Boost in Downtown Lyons

April 26-- The long-vacant old Piggly Wiggly building in downtown Lyons has had a facelift and is home to a new grocery store. Ribbon-cutting ceremonies were held Monday for the new Sav-A-Lot store, part of a chain of 1,250 stores in 39 states. Lyons Mayor John Moore welcomed Randy Brenneman of Palmetto Foods which also operates Sav-A-Lot stores in Statesboro and Aiken, South Carolina. Brenneman thanks Lyons citizens for their warm welcome. The new store will have 20 employees.

Council OK's Downtown Game Room

April 26-- In downtown Vidalia, the city council has approved the license for a new game room on Meadows Street to be operated by Kimberly Dawn Pittman. The council also was informed the police department will continue to issue tickets and impound cars when owners cannot produce insurance cards. Even though insurance can now be confirmed by police via computer, Captain Kevin Collins says you are required to have an insurance card in your vehicle in case of an accident.

April 23

Sewage Spill in Mount Vernon

April 23-- The City of Mount Vernon reports what the Environmental Protection Division calls "a major spill" from the city's Twin Street Sewage Lift System March 29th, two days after heavy Easter Sunday rains. Mayor Joey Fountain says flooding from creeks infiltrated the city manholes and caused the lift system to overflow. At least 10,000 gallons of sewage dumped into Limestone Creek, a tributary of the Oconee River. The mayor reports the city is applying for a grant to help finance an upgrade to avoid a recurrence.

April 20

Governor Flies Over Vidalia

Georgia Governor Sonny
Perdue made the inaugural flight of the Vidalia Onion Festival Air Show with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels Wednesday morning at the Vidalia Regional Airport

April 20-- Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue made the inaugural flight of the Vidalia Onion Festival Air Show with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels Wednesday morning at the Vidalia Regional Airport. The governor was flown by U.S. Navy Lieutenant John Allison in a series of aerobatic maneuvers, bombing runs and aircraft carrier passes. He also got to handle the controls of the FA-18 Hornet for a couple of turns. Afterwards he said, "Now I know why we have air superiority in combat." The Blue Angels will perform at the Vidalia Onion Festival Air Show Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

Onion Cook-Off Winners

April 20-- The annual Onion Festival Cook-Off hosted by the Vidalia Rotary Club had a first Wednesday night. A Sweet Vidalia Onion Wine concocted by Bobby Brigman and Bob Lawlor won first place by a landslide with the judges. Both a red and a white wine were served. Sabrina Toole won second and third place for her Sweet Onion Seafood Pie and Sweet Onion Strawberry Spinach Salad. Cathy Moses won fourth place for her Sweet Onion Soup.

Team-cooking competition winners included first place Harton Automotive, second Threlkeld Motors, third the Kiwanis Club, and fourth the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

Brigman says his sweet wine is made from two-and-a-half pounds each of Vidalia onions and potatoes, eight pints of water, grape juice concentrate, and sugar. It takes three months to ferment five gallons.

April 19

Vidalia Visitors

Mayor Ronnie Dixon welcomed members of The Georgia Cities Foundation to downtown Vidalia

April 19-- Georgia's small towns are the "Heart and Soul" of the state and a group of citizens reviewing their progress made their way to Vidalia Tuesday. Mayor Ronnie Dixon welcomed members of "The Georgia Cities Foundation" to downtown Vidalia. Aboard the bus tour, Mike Beatty, the state's Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs, who said downtown Vidalia is an example of progress which can be made when government and private business owners work together. Government funds renovated the downtown infrastructure several years ago, and downtown property owners have been restoring downtown buildings.

April 18

Sexual Exploitation Charges Filed

April 18-- A Vidalia man is charged with sexual exploitation of children. The GBI reports 46-year-old Wally Ford, Jr. of 308 Brantley Road was arrested following an investigation by the GBI and Vidalia police. According to the GBI, the charges relate to the possession of digital photographs depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Ford turned himself in at the Toombs County Sheriff's office Monday.

Weekend Fight Results in Arrests

April 18-- A weekend fight at the Latino Ballroom on U.S. Highway One north of Lyons resulted in four arrests. Toombs County Chief Deputy Barry Brown says four Hispanic men were arrested for public drunkenness, disorderly conduct and felony obstruction of police officers who were called to break up the fight. None of the deputies were injured.

How "Sweet They Are" Labels Cause Conflict

April 18-- A Superior Court judge has refused to impose a second restraining order to prevent some Vidalia Onion growers from contracting with a private company which claims it can certify "sweetness." Bo Herndon of Herndon Farms in Vidalia opposes the labels from National Onion Labs and says they are a threat to the industry. The president of the laboratory company, David Burrell, claims the certification will help with consumer confidence, however, Herndon says it's too expensive and that the certification is spotty. Burrell claims his company has contracted with five Vidalia onion growers for testing and labeling this year.

April 16

Funeral for Dog Bite Victim

April 16-- Funeral services were held Saturday afternoon for a 73-year-old woman who was killed by her two dogs at her home in Glenwood. Police broke into the home of LaVerne Ford late Wednesday night after neighbors reported hearing noises coming from inside her house. Inside they found her mauled body near a large mixed-breed dog. Another dog was found in the house and officers reported both dogs had the woman's blood on their bodies. She was a known animal lover and was known to pick up and feed stray dogs and cats.

April 15

Sonny Wednesday

April 15-- Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue visits Vidalia Wednesday morning for the first day of the Onion Festival. The governor is scheduled to fly with the U.S. Navy Blues Angles at 11:30 at the Vidalia Regional Airport.

New Toombs High Principal Named

April 15-- An assistant principal at Tattnall County High School has been named to head Toombs County High School next year. At its April meeting Thursday night, the Toombs County school board approved the selection of Gail Clark, who lives in Toombs County, to be the new Toombs principal. She has been a STAR teacher in Tattnall County eight times, and succeeds veteran Toombs High School principal Ralph Hardy. Hardy is retiring after 39 years in public education, the last eleven of which were spent at Toombs County.

The school board also honored high school athletic director Kevin Hill who was recognized this year as the state's "Athletic Director of the Year" by the Georgia Athletic Director's Association.

Lyon's Primary School celebrated National Library Week by inviting local citizens to read to youngsters in the school library. Media specialist Rosemary Wickstrom says the week of reading reinforced the on-going accelerated reader program at the school.

DOT Announces Summer Projects

April 15-- The Georgia Department of Transportation expects to have a busy summer of construction work. The department released a list of projects it hopes to start or complete in Southeast Georgia including the one-way pairing of Highway 280 in Vidalia which has a bid opening coming up Friday. Other highway work includes continued widening of U.S. One in Emanuel County and ramp improvements along Interstate 16 in Treutlen and Laurens counties.

April 14

Shoney's "Drive-In"

April 14-- There were no serious injuries at noon Thursday when an out-of-control car crashed through a front window at Shoney's in Vidalia. Vidalia Police Captain Roger Callaway says a senior citizen from Treutlen County "hit the gas instead of the brakes" while attempting to park in front of the restaurant. He reports one person was taken to the hospital with cuts from flying glass and a few others were "shaken up" because of the accident. Luckily there was no one sitting at the window table, he says.

Slim Supply of Onions for Festival

April 14-- The chairman of the Vidalia Onion Growers' Committee says there will be "some" onions available in time for this year's Vidalia Onion Festival, but not many. Bo Herndon says he expects a good quality crop this year from most growers, but the number of acres planted is down so the overall quantity will be less than last year. The majority of the crop will not start coming in until late April or early May, according to Herndon.

April 13

Vidalia Schools "Strong Financially"

April 13-- The Vidalia school board has approved next year's tentative school system budget totaling just over $26 million and including about $3 million in local funds. School superintendent Dr. Tim Smith says, unlike past years, the state is not imposing cuts and that's allowing Vidalia schools to restore some teaching positions. The new budget includes salary increases for teachers and staff, increases daily pay for substitute teachers, and raises supplements paid to athletic coaches. Dr. Smith is optimistic that the state, being threatened with a law suit by rural school systems about state allocation of funds, will come up with a system that will further benefit Vidalia schools. The Vidalia city school system has a cash reserve of about $3 million which Dr. Smith expects to maintain through the next budget year. The final budget is expected to be approved by the school board at its May meeting.

April 12

Onion Shipping Date Set

April 12-- For the first time, Georgia has set an opening date for the Sweet Vidalia Onion season. State Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin says the official onion marketing season will begin April 28. The move was recommended by the Vidalia Onion Grower's Committee to ensure Vidalia Sweet Onions are mature and sweet enough to eat when they hit the country's grocery stores. Growers can still ship before April 28, but they will face tougher inspection requirements and shipments must include certificates showing they meet federal standards.

GEMA Approves Toombs Grant Request

April 12-- Toombs County is receiving nearly $80,000 in state and federal funds to help pay for road repairs as a result of Tropical Storm Frances last Fall. The county's application included repairs on 24 county roads. A second application for nearly $250,000 is still pending to repair the John Dees Pond dam which was washed away by the storm.

In other actions at its April meeting, commissioners were informed negotiations are continuing regarding right-of-way condemnation in order to pave some three miles of the Clifford Rogers Road. Commissioners approved $20,000 to buy a half-acre of land and the voting precinct building in Cedar Crossing from Johnny Beasley; agreed to provide $18,000 to the city of Lyons for a fire truck which responds to county fires; and amended the just-passed county mobile home ordinance to allow relocation of mobile homes older than ten years if the homes were already in the county before March 1st and if they can pass inspection.

Darby Growing in Savannah

April 12-- Vidalia's Darby Bank is continuing its expansion in Savannah. An article in the Business Report and Journal says the bank will spend more than $3 million this year expanding, relocating and building branch banks in the city. A new branch will be located in Pooler and another is being considered on either Whitemarsh or Wilmington Islands. Since opening its first branch in Savannah in 1996, the bank's assets have grown from $55 million to $500 million, according to CEO Walter Bowden.

April 11

Vidalia City Council Meets

April 11-- Vidalia officials say the contractor working on Broadfoot at Highway 280 in Vidalia has three months left on the contract to finish the construction. City manager Bill Torrance told the council Monday night that wet weather and some problems with materials have delayed the project past the six weeks he initially thought it would take. The project has closed a major thoroughfare between Highways 280 and 292 in the city.

At its April meeting, the council appointed Johnny Whited of Vidalia to succeed Dr. Geoff Conner who resigned from the city Recreation Board. It also agreed to cut down several aged trees in the 400 block of Jackson Street.

The council also held an executive session to discuss a civil suit pending against the city in the Georgia Supreme Court. David Lovins of Vidalia is seeking reversal of a Superior Court decision which ordered him to remove a hangar from the Vidalia Regional Airport. The case is scheduled for hearing in June. Plus the council was briefed on the efforts of a subcommittee which is working on a search for a new city police chief.

Public Employees Privacy N/A To Elected Officials

April 11-- The Georgia legislature passed a law this year that exempts from public disclosure certain items of information about public employees. The law exempts home addresses and phone numbers, social security numbers, insurance and medical information of public employees to include school teachers and public school employees.

State senator Jack Hill of Reidsville says the new law does not apply to elected officials.

Marketing Push for Vidalia Onions

April 11-- The marketing director for the Vidalia Onion has big plans to raise the sweet onion's profile in May, Vidalia Onion Month. Jeff Hall is taking an entourage including onion mascot "Yumion" and his girlfriend "Sweetie" to New York City for magazine interviews and appearances on "Fox & Friends" and "The Today Show." Hall also plans to distribute Vidalia Onion goodies at many New York landmarks like Radio City Music Hall, Carnegie Hall and Times Square. Hall says one of his messages is to inform consumers that Vidalia Onions are now available until December thanks to modern storage facilities by the growers. He wants consumers to ask their grocery stores to order Vidalia Onions in the Fall.

Onion Queen Crowned

April 11-- A Georgia Southern student from Metter is the 2005 Miss Vidalia Onion Queen. Rebekah Faythe Rotton was crowned Saturday night at the annual Vidalia Onion Festival Pageant sponsored by the Vidalia American Business Women's Association. The Junior Miss Onion is Montgomery County High School student Kaneesha Adams. Winners in other age categories include Little Miss Onion Seed Faith Braner of Cobbtown, Little Miss Onion Sprout Logan Amanda Williamson of Lyons, and Miss Spring Onion Lisa Ranee Caststeel of Vidalia.

Drug Arrests

April 11-- State revenue agents have pulled the license of a Toombs County store for selling alcohol to minors. Toombs County Sheriff Junior Kight also reports the operators of the Ponderosa Grocery in east Toombs County are facing drug charges. He says Greg Fields and Joel Franklin McCullough were arrested during a search of the grocery and McCullough's residence and charged with possession of marijuana and selling beer to minors. The sheriff reports McCullough's probation may be revoked due to the new charges.

April 7

Former Onion Council Employee Indicted

April 7-- Nearly a year after being arrested, the former office manager for the Vidalia Onion Growers Committee has been indicted on multiple counts of forgery and theft. Thirty-six-year old Tina Wheeler of Tarrytown was indicted by a Toombs County grand jury for 255 counts of forging checks and 95 counts of taking money from the onion growers by writing unauthorized checks to herself and to her debtors. Investigators estimate she stole $639,000 in a seven-year period from 1998 to 2004. The 78-page indictment claims Wheeler forged the signatures of former onion growers' officials W.J. Grimes, R.T. Stanley, Ronald Collins and Anthony Cowart. Wheeler was released from the Toombs County jail on a $125,000 property bond last June.

The grand jury also indicted eleven people on cocaine-related charges including Aaron Mathews, Vonical McCloud, Mathew Jordan, Corey Johnson, Ronald Waters, Jr., Tyrone Polke, Michael Powell, Dedrick Griffin, Sherman Kirkland, Tito Brown, and Dennis Hancock.

Lenny Ashford was indicted for child molestation. Indictments relating to armed robbery were returned against Brandon Wright, William Springer, Michael Anthony, Jr., Jeffery McSwain, Aaron Mathews and William Springer.

Indicted for robbery are Aaron Mathews, James Law, Travis Mobley and Michael Scott. Aggravated assault indictments were returned against Aron Trebino and Bernard Gaffney; burglary indictments were approved against Jason Selph, James Law, Travis Mobley and James Law. Terry Garner was indicted for entering an automobile to commit theft, and Telly McLemore was indicted for damaging a Vidalia police car.

Water Warning in Montgomery County

April 7-- Montgomery County citizens who get their drinking water from the Lazy River Estates Water System on Dead River Road are being warned not to drink the water or to boil it before drinking. The Environmental Protection Division tested the water system last month and reports that "potentially harmful bacteria" may be present. The private water system is owned by W.T. Coleman of Vidalia, and the EPD says the case has been referred to the Attorney General's office for enforcement of state laws. Coleman also has other problems with the water system. Montgomery County officials have asked him to remove water lines from county right-of-way so paving of Dead River Road can proceed. He refused their request at the March meeting of the commissioners.

April 1

Shiavo Case Sparks Interest in Living Wills

April 1-- The Terri Shiavo case in Florida has more people realizing they need to take steps while they're healthy to make sure everyone knows their wishes before a medical emergency. Registered nurse Pam Gerbis at Meadows Regional Medical Center says the hospital has a limited supply of critical care planning guides to help people inform family members and doctors of their desires. The guides can be completed without a lawyer and Gerbis says copies should be readily available in case of emergency. For more information, contact Nurse Gerbis at 538-5313.


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