Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County

Top: Phyllis Colvin sings “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” to set the tone for the Affinis Hospice presentation.

Bottom! Kimberly Kimbrel explains Affinis Hospice’s services and philosophy, while clearing up misconceptions.

The program opened with a beautiful rendition of a verse of “Precious Lord, Take My Hand”.

After she finished, Phyllis Colvin, social services director for Affinis Hospice’s Albany regional office, related to the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County on August 18, “When I think about hospice, I think about how when we come into contact with people, they’re tired and worn and their caregivers are weary. We need to come into their homes and provide them some type of support, and I feel that with hospice care we can come in and be that support, not only to the patient but also to their family members.”

Colvin then turned the program over to Kimberly Kimbrel, Affinis’ regional community outreach coordinator. From its Albany office, Affinis serves 21 counties in Southwest Georgia. In addition to Albany, throughout Georgia, Affinis Hospice has regional offices in Augusta, Cartersville, Gainesville, Newnan, Vidalia, and Watkinsville.

Kimbrel offered some history on hospice care and sought to clear up misconceptions she said people often have about hospice.

According to Kimbrel, the hospice concept originated with Cicely Saunders, a World War II English military nurse who recognized three “very important things people need as they are dealing with the end of life”: dignity and compassion, pain and symptom management, and counseling for psychological and emotional needs.  Hospice Inc. was founded in 1974 in the United States by Florence Wald and hospice care has grown nationwide since that time.

Also, said Kimbrel, “Hospice is not necessarily end of life, that might surprise you.” Affinis can provide services during a life-threatening illness, and it’s beneficial, Kimbrel said, to begin in-home services early “so that we can have a relationship with the family and teach them caregiving tips so that it’s not so hard on them.” Medicare pays 100 percent for eligible clients, she added, including medications and hospital equipment for a wide range of illnesses.

If a patient doesn’t have Medicare or insurance, however, Affinis doesn’t turn them away. Operating under the multi-faceted Community Health Services foundation umbrella provides additional resources, but “of course we have to have a population of people who have insurance so we can survive. We are a nonprofit company” and the foundation helps.

Kimbrel addressed several “misconceptions.”

“I had one family that was in hospital and they would not come on services with us because they thought we were going to stop Mom’s medication. We don’t do that, we don’t stop medication. We don’t stick somebody with morphine and keep pumping it in them. We don’t do any of those things, those are misconceptions. We let the family make all the choices for the caregiving that we do. We don’t do anything without the family knowing. Everything we do has to be approved by the family, because we understand that the family is the caregiver. We’re just there to help.”

Another false idea is that a doctor has to decide when hospice care is needed. “Hospice is not something that a doctor has to say you’re ready for,” Kimbrel said. “You need to make that decision, it’s a patient’s choice. You can actually call us.”

While a doctor does not have to refer a patient, a doctor’s order is needed for Affinis to go into a patient’s home. When a patient contacts Affinis, said Kimbrel, Affinis must contact their doctor and request the order and the patient’s medical records.

Also, Kimbrel added, “Hospice never wants to say you have to sever that relationship with your doctor. We don’t ever say that.” But, “We want to be your 911. If you have an emergency while you’re with us, call us. If you go to the hospital while you’re with hospice, we have to discharge you,” due to Medicare  regulations. “We have to discharge the patient while they’re in the hospital and then we’ll bring them back on afterwards.”

A patient may want to continue being seen in hospice by their regular doctor, but the decision is ultimately up to the doctor, Kimbrel said. Affinis has a local medical director, Dr. Michael Satchell, to monitor its patients, and some people choose to switch over.

“We go over our patients with our medical director bimonthly,” said Kimbrel. “Every two weeks we have a meeting and go over each patient, and the nurses will be there in the meeting talking about different things going on with each patient, if they need medicine changes or if they have a symptom that needs to be managed.”

 

Our club presented a check today to the Dixie League Baseball Association to help building batting cages at the Dixie League park.On hand to accept the gift from President Lance Barnes were Kyle Harrison and Lawson Swan. The funds - $5,981,42 - will be matched with a $5,000 grant approved at last weekend’s Georgia Kiwanis District Conference in Savannah and forthcoming from the Georgia District Kiwanis Foundation.

Our club presented a check today to the Dixie League Baseball Association to help building batting cages at the Dixie League park.On hand to accept the gift from President Lance Barnes were Kyle Harrison and Lawson Swan. The funds - $5,981,42 - will be matched with a $5,000 grant approved at last weekend’s Georgia Kiwanis District Conference in Savannah and forthcoming from the Georgia District Kiwanis Foundation.

Tricia Borsdorf of the Albany/Dougherty County 311 call center explains to Kiwanis of Dougherty members the function and operation of the non-emergency center.


“I get excited, because I really feel  like it’s an awesome service,” said Tricia Borsdorf. “It’s something not all communities have.”
The service Borsdorf was referring to during an August 11 presentation to the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County is Albany-Dougherty’s 311 call center, a non-emergency hotline for people seeking information or to register a complaint or report regarding services provided by the city, the county, or Water, Gas, and Light (WG&L).
Almost right off the bat, Borsdorf emphasized, “If you have an emergency (accident, medical crisis, violent crime in progress, etc.), do not call 311. You want to dial 911. However, for anything else that has to do with city or county government, we are glad to assist.”
“A lot of the time people are calling us because they need services,” said Borsdorf. “They need a pothole filled, their ditches need to be cleaned, a trash pickup has been missed, a streetlight has fallen down, a stop sign has been blocked or there’s grass or bushes covering it.”
“You don’t need to know who any of those services belong to, all you have to do is call 311. Once we find out what your issue is, we have software that actually generates a request” and forwards it to the proper department for a response.
An important element  of the 311 call service, said Borsdorf, is  its “trackability.”
“If you call 311, we take every phone call and we put it into our system so that we’re able to go back and track it.” Non-responses to a report or complaint “escalate” to a supervisor or department director and eventually to the city manager, she added, and “you can be sure nobody wants a service request going up to the city manager and it has not been worked on. I can guarantee if you call 311 and ask for a service that’s provided, we can go back, pull that request, see everything that’s done with it, and we can at least direct you to the right people. If it wasn’t done, we can reopen it, put it back in, and say it wasn’t done.”
Reports called in on issues such as code violations can be made anonymously if the caller wishes, Borsdorf said. She noted, however, “If you do submit something via the web or your (mobile) phone, then you have to register with a valid e-mail address with either of those.”
The 311 call center is manned by live operators from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. five days a week. After regular business hours and on weekends, access is available via voice-mail messaging and by computer or cell phone (with Android or Iphone mobile apps) via the center’s website (www.311.answers.com).
Online or mobile reporting have the added capability of attaching a photo of the issue in question. “A picture is worth a thousand words,” Borsdorf reiterated, so in addition to a word description, the responding department can actually see the situation.
The 311 center can’t control responses to complaints about services by outside entities such as Mediacom, Georgia Power, the state department of transportation, or the railroad, since they don’t fall under city or county authority. What they can do, however, is provide a name and/or number the citizen can contact, but “we can’t control what they do with issues presented.”
Callers to 311 can also obtain information about community events or government functions such as where to pay a ticket or how  to obtain a birth certificate or marriage license. “We pretty much have a schedule of what’s going on in the community,” said Borsdorf. “We try to keep up with what’s happening so we can pass information on to the citizens, and we do get a lot of calls.”
The 311 call center falls under the jurisdiction of the city’s information technology department, said Borsdorf, but funding for it is provided by the city, county, and WG&L.
“I can’t say that I know the answer to every single question,” Borsdorf concluded. “However, I can say that I will research and I will call you back. We will at least attempt to find out who does this and get you connected to them.”

Tricia Borsdorf of the Albany/Dougherty County 311 call center explains to Kiwanis of Dougherty members the function and operation of the non-emergency center.

“I get excited, because I really feel  like it’s an awesome service,” said Tricia Borsdorf. “It’s something not all communities have.”

The service Borsdorf was referring to during an August 11 presentation to the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County is Albany-Dougherty’s 311 call center, a non-emergency hotline for people seeking information or to register a complaint or report regarding services provided by the city, the county, or Water, Gas, and Light (WG&L).

Almost right off the bat, Borsdorf emphasized, “If you have an emergency (accident, medical crisis, violent crime in progress, etc.), do not call 311. You want to dial 911. However, for anything else that has to do with city or county government, we are glad to assist.”

“A lot of the time people are calling us because they need services,” said Borsdorf. “They need a pothole filled, their ditches need to be cleaned, a trash pickup has been missed, a streetlight has fallen down, a stop sign has been blocked or there’s grass or bushes covering it.”

“You don’t need to know who any of those services belong to, all you have to do is call 311. Once we find out what your issue is, we have software that actually generates a request” and forwards it to the proper department for a response.

An important element  of the 311 call service, said Borsdorf, is  its “trackability.”

“If you call 311, we take every phone call and we put it into our system so that we’re able to go back and track it.” Non-responses to a report or complaint “escalate” to a supervisor or department director and eventually to the city manager, she added, and “you can be sure nobody wants a service request going up to the city manager and it has not been worked on. I can guarantee if you call 311 and ask for a service that’s provided, we can go back, pull that request, see everything that’s done with it, and we can at least direct you to the right people. If it wasn’t done, we can reopen it, put it back in, and say it wasn’t done.”

Reports called in on issues such as code violations can be made anonymously if the caller wishes, Borsdorf said. She noted, however, “If you do submit something via the web or your (mobile) phone, then you have to register with a valid e-mail address with either of those.”

The 311 call center is manned by live operators from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. five days a week. After regular business hours and on weekends, access is available via voice-mail messaging and by computer or cell phone (with Android or Iphone mobile apps) via the center’s website (www.311.answers.com).

Online or mobile reporting have the added capability of attaching a photo of the issue in question. “A picture is worth a thousand words,” Borsdorf reiterated, so in addition to a word description, the responding department can actually see the situation.

The 311 center can’t control responses to complaints about services by outside entities such as Mediacom, Georgia Power, the state department of transportation, or the railroad, since they don’t fall under city or county authority. What they can do, however, is provide a name and/or number the citizen can contact, but “we can’t control what they do with issues presented.”

Callers to 311 can also obtain information about community events or government functions such as where to pay a ticket or how  to obtain a birth certificate or marriage license. “We pretty much have a schedule of what’s going on in the community,” said Borsdorf. “We try to keep up with what’s happening so we can pass information on to the citizens, and we do get a lot of calls.”

The 311 call center falls under the jurisdiction of the city’s information technology department, said Borsdorf, but funding for it is provided by the city, county, and WG&L.

“I can’t say that I know the answer to every single question,” Borsdorf concluded. “However, I can say that I will research and I will call you back. We will at least attempt to find out who does this and get you connected to them.”

PHOTO CAPTIONS

Top: Justin Andrews speaks to the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County about Threeforty Creative Group. Justin was introduced as speaker by his wife Erin, left, a member of Kiwanis DoCo. (Photos by David Shivers)

Bottom: Justin and Erin Andrews meet are greeted bu DoCo Kiwanian Tommy Padgett after the program.

One of Albany’s newest businesses is turning out to be a big success, according to one of its owners.

Justin Andrews partnered with Evan Barber and Jeb Tabb just over a year ago to create Threeforty Creative Group, a multipurpose enterprise focusing on using music to give back to the community. Andrews spoke to the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County on August 4 about Threeforty’s mission.

It all began, he said, “with a chicken scratch of an idea that turned into this huge monster, which turned out to be wonderful. We teach music lessons to kids for piano, guitar, bass, violin…anything and everything you can just about think of. Our mission for the area is we want to give back for kids.  It originally began as a program for the city of Albany for children whose families can’t afford to pay for music lessons.” Music curriculums have often fallen victim to cutbacks in schools, and they hope to someday see that corrected.

Threeforty also works with nonprofit and for-profit organizations providing talent, sound, lights, and stage for events. Among other services offered are venue management, concerts/festivals/special events, marketing and graphics, booking, recording, and access to video production.

“We do a raft of things, everything that can help grow your business, help grow your music career,” said Andrews.

Threeforty also produces large-scale music events. “Threeforty is currently involved in six music festivals. They range from the Briar Patch Musical Festival in Damascus, Georgia, all the way to the Flintfest here in Albany to the Georgia Throwdown that we did two years ago, and this year our launch of the Big Pine Music Festival,” slated for October 24 and 25 at the Exchange Club Fairgrounds in Albany.

Big Pine will feature some 41 bands on four stages over the two-day period, according to Andrews, for a ticket price of $35, and “the production quality of the festival will be at the same level (as the Georgia Throwdown), it will be high-end production, it will be something you’d see in Atlanta if you  paid $50 for a ticket to see one band.” Country music luminaries John Anderson and Clarence Carter are in the lineup, as well as such regional favorites The Bo Henry Band, Evan Barber and the Dead Gamblers, Highway 55, Jodi Mann, and many others.

Next April there will be “a little more urban festival,” the 100 Watt Festival hosted by Threeforty Creative Group at the Downtown Art Park on Pine Avenue, featuring music and art. “We have people coming from California, South Florida, Atlanta, and New York” to participate in that, said Andrews. “Until I got into it,” Andrews said of the art park, “I never realized how big of a deal it is to this community. It’s really an interesting part of downtown development, which we’re proud to be part of.”

A successful part of the Georgia Throwdown that Threeforty plans to repeat at the Big Pine festival is opportunities for nonprofits to host fundraisers at no charge to the organization.

“We’re a young company that’s growing really fast,” concluded Andrews, “and I couldn’t be more proud to be part of the company. Our main goal is to give back to the community…We really want to keep this going for the city of Albany and to help grow something really cool and bring up the youth of this city in a positive atmosphere.”

For information about Threeforty Creative Group, their services, or nonprofit cooperation, contact them at 229-496-1633 or info@340creativegroup.com.

 

PHOTO CAPTIONS

TOP: Albany Symphony Orchestra conductor and director Claire Fox Hillard previews the orchestra’s upcoming season for Kiwanis of Dougherty members on July 28.

MIDDLE: Dr. Hillard (right) is greeted by Richard Brown following his Kiwanis of Dougherty presentation.

BOTTOM: Dr. John Inman, Jr. (right) greets conductor Hillard after the Kiwanis meeting.

How does the Albany Symphony Orchestra assist in the area’s economic development efforts?

Dr. Clare Fox Hillard, conductor and director of the ASO and the Darton State College music program, helped connect dots between the two in a message to the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County on July 28.

For one, the ASO is comprised of professional, paid musicians, resulting in an annual payroll of $350,000, Dr. Hillard said.

Also, the orchestra is “a huge aid to economic development. It makes our community different than other communities our size.” He continued that he was “pleased that the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Authority has come up with its new campaign (the widely-advertised ‘There’s Only One Albany, Georgia’). Of course I’m thrilled that one of the main billboards says ‘From Symphony to Soul, Albany has it All.’ I’m delighted that the EDC has included us in the positives of Albany.”

“We are literally a $350,000 small business in Albany,” he said. “It makes cultural viability of our community a selling point for economic development, a better place to live.”

Dr. Hillard offered a preview of the upcoming concert season, which will include four events at the Albany Municipal Auditorium, the orchestra’s home venue. The auditorium will host four concerts, two each in fall and spring. Included in the schedule is a return visit in December by Cirque de Soleil for a Christmas-themed event.

In February an orchestra member turned composer will debut a piece he wrote for the orchestra based on the Flint River. According to Dr. Hillard, the composer “just became enamored with Albany. He’s written a piece he’s called ‘Thronateeska’ based on the Flint River. One interesting aspect of it is he’s going to ask the percussionists to actually have pieces of flint, as well as using drums, to knock together to make sounds associated with the river.”

Then, “In April we’re going to have a Native American flute player come play the flute with the orchestra, Native American folk songs, with slides. The piece is called ‘Gist of the Elk’, based on an Indian legend, and we’re going to do that the same weekend as the Native American Festival at Chehaw.”

In addition to the four main concerts, Hillard continued, ASO will continue with series of four smaller concerts in fall and spring at the Albany Museum of Art, performed by smaller groups of orchestra musicians. These will each be followed by wine and cheese receptions in the museum lobby, where guests meet and talk with the performers.

Hillard also spoke about other things the orchestra does to uphold its commitment to the community.

“For educational purposes, we have collaborated with Carnegie Hall. (Carnegie) has a program called ‘Link Up’ in which it designs children’s concerts. It selects the music, creates the script, makes a Powerpoint presentation, and creates a 54-page full-color student curriculum and provides them free of charge.” This is the fifth year of the collaboration, Hillard said. Teachers receive the materials and prepare the students and they are invited to perform and sing in a March orchestra performance,

“It’s very participatory. It’s something they can easily identify with,” said Dr. Hillard. “The selections from Carnegie Hall are ones that everyone will know. We do that to enhance the educational offerings of the school system.”

Another community program is “Symphony a la Carte”. “If you need something for an occasion like a wedding or a party, like a string quartet or a trumpet,” said Dr. Hillard, the orchestra can help with that. “Quite often we get calls from Kimbrell-Stern (Funeral Home) for a bagpiper, and we have a list of bagpipers we can provide. If you need musicians for any occasion, we’re here to help.”

The death of live music has been predicted for generations due to new technologies, Dr. Hillard remarked, referencing a chart he has of famous people who have made such a prediction. He disagreed. “I would compare it to a phenomenon of why should football teams have games in the stadium when you can watch them on TV You still want to go to live games. Why should we have live music when we have CDs, and downloads and clouds?  The live experience is still something that is engaging, thrilling, that it’s nice to be with other people.

“So, live music is alive and well, and we’re here to provide that for you.”

 

KEN RODD IS DISTINGUISHED LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR
Ken Rodd of was recognized as a Distinguished Lieutenant Governor for Division 5 of the Georgia District of Kiwanis on July 28. The honor was presented by current Georgia District Governor Katrina Baranko, also of Albany, at the weekly meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County at Hilton Garden Inn. Rodd, a longtime Kiwanian and owner of Rodd Electronics, served as lieutenant governor for District 5 during the 2012-13 year. Baranko commended Rodd for his dedication in regularly visiting the 10 clubs in the wide ranging district in this part of the state and staying in contact with them. Carrying on a family tradition, Rodd’s son has served as president of the Thomasville Kiwanis Club. Congratulations, Ken, and thanks for all you do for Kiwanis and our club! (Photo by David Shivers)

KEN RODD IS DISTINGUISHED LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR

Ken Rodd of was recognized as a Distinguished Lieutenant Governor for Division 5 of the Georgia District of Kiwanis on July 28. The honor was presented by current Georgia District Governor Katrina Baranko, also of Albany, at the weekly meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County at Hilton Garden Inn. Rodd, a longtime Kiwanian and owner of Rodd Electronics, served as lieutenant governor for District 5 during the 2012-13 year. Baranko commended Rodd for his dedication in regularly visiting the 10 clubs in the wide ranging district in this part of the state and staying in contact with them. Carrying on a family tradition, Rodd’s son has served as president of the Thomasville Kiwanis Club. Congratulations, Ken, and thanks for all you do for Kiwanis and our club! (Photo by David Shivers)


CLUB, KEY CLUB SET “ELIMINATE DANCE” CONTEST, DINNER
Photo: Darlene Butler provides details of the “Eliminate Dance” at a recent meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County. (Photo by David Shivers)
Area couples who enjoy “tripping the light fantastic” have an upcoming opportunity for dinner, music, and a dance contest.
On Friday, September 19, at 6:30 p.m. the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County and the Southwest Georgia Home School Association Key Club will sponsor the “Eliminate Dance” at the new Sowega Senior Citizen Life Enrichment Center at 335 Society Avenue downtown.
Tickets for the event are $50 per person and are available at Butler Engineering, 1506 Third Avenue; Rodd Electronics, 1211, North Slappey Blvd.; and Cartridge World, 2810 Meredyth Drive. The ticket price includes entry into the dance contest and the dinner catered by Kay Blaylock.
Proceeds from the event will benefit Kiwanis International’s “Eliminate Project”, a worldwide effort to eradicate maternal and neonatal tetanus that is a joint program with UNICEF.
The dance contest, a jazz dance competition, will offer a $250 cash prize for the winning couple. Judging will be done by local dance professionals, with elimination from a field of 30 couples until only five couples remain. The winning team will then be determined by the audience. Entrants must purchase an event ticket to be eligible for the contest.
The SWGHSA Key Club will provide the servers for the evening. For information on dance team sign-up, contact Darlene Butler at 344-4063 or www.facebook/eliminate.

CLUB, KEY CLUB SET “ELIMINATE DANCE” CONTEST, DINNER

Photo: Darlene Butler provides details of the “Eliminate Dance” at a recent meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County. (Photo by David Shivers)

Area couples who enjoy “tripping the light fantastic” have an upcoming opportunity for dinner, music, and a dance contest.

On Friday, September 19, at 6:30 p.m. the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County and the Southwest Georgia Home School Association Key Club will sponsor the “Eliminate Dance” at the new Sowega Senior Citizen Life Enrichment Center at 335 Society Avenue downtown.

Tickets for the event are $50 per person and are available at Butler Engineering, 1506 Third Avenue; Rodd Electronics, 1211, North Slappey Blvd.; and Cartridge World, 2810 Meredyth Drive. The ticket price includes entry into the dance contest and the dinner catered by Kay Blaylock.

Proceeds from the event will benefit Kiwanis International’s “Eliminate Project”, a worldwide effort to eradicate maternal and neonatal tetanus that is a joint program with UNICEF.

The dance contest, a jazz dance competition, will offer a $250 cash prize for the winning couple. Judging will be done by local dance professionals, with elimination from a field of 30 couples until only five couples remain. The winning team will then be determined by the audience. Entrants must purchase an event ticket to be eligible for the contest.

The SWGHSA Key Club will provide the servers for the evening. For information on dance team sign-up, contact Darlene Butler at 344-4063 or www.facebook/eliminate.

PHOTO CAPTIONS

Top: Paxton Pointevint gestures while telling Dougherty County Kiwanians about Southwest Georgia Farm Credit.

Bottom: Paxton Pointevint and Kiwanian Tommy Padgett discuss ag funding after the July 21 Kiwanis meeting at Hilton Garden Inn.

Agriculture is the leading economic sector in Southwest Georgia and has an impact, direct or indirect, on many businesses, as well as consumers.

On July 21, Paxton Pointevent of Southwest Georgia Farm Credit spoke to the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County about his organization and current conditions for major area crop commodities.

Pointevent began by differentiating SWFC from Farm Bureau or the Farm Service Agency. “We are not Farm Bureau,” he explained. “Farm Bureau, they sell insurance. Farm Service Agency is a division of the United States Department of Agriculture. We are Farm Credit and we make loans, we basically lend to agriculture.”

The national farm credit system began in 1916 when the Farm Loan Credit Act was signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson. “Farm Credit is a nationwide network, a borrower-owned entity,” said Pointevint. “We share our profits at the end of every year. Twenty-two out of the last 25 years we’ve made a profit, (with a resulting) dividend distribution.” There are currently almost 90 farm credit associations around the country and in Puerto Rico, serving every county in all 50 states. Loans are primarily to farmers, agribusinesses, aquatic producers – “even though there aren’t very many aquatic producers in Southwest Georgia” - and other agricultural cooperatives.

Farm Credit is not a government entity, said Pointevint, but is government-sponsored, like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It is not funded by taxpayers; it generates its own capitalization and pays its own regulator.

“The Farm Credit Funding Corporation in New Jersey,” said Pointevint, “is out selling debt instruments every day.” A lot of investors like farm credit because it carries an implied guarantee that trades very competitively, he added. “You can actually go to your investment adviser and secure farm credit bonds. Some of our largest investors are going to be the Chinese government” and Japan is very large also.

The funds generated are then passed on to a “funding bank” for farm credit associations, of which  there are four in the U.S. AgFirst, based in Columbia, S.C., is funding bank for Southwest Georgia  Farm Credit. “We’re part of AgFirst, so what happens is the debt comes into AgFirst. Once the debt is sold the funds come into AgFirst. AgFirst provides us with shared services like IT (Internet technology), accounting, things like that. They put a spread on those funds, then those funds are passed on down to us at our cost of funding. We then take those funds and make loans to people in Southwest Georgia.”

Southwest Georgia Farm Credit is headquartered in Bainbridge, with branch offices in Americus, Camilla, Dawson, and Thomasville. Overall, 31 counties are served stretching to Chattahoochee County on the north, eastward to Talbot County, and back south to Thomas County. SGFC has about 1,000 members and assets of around $500,000,000. The average loan size, said Pointevint, is about $500,000, “so we’re a pretty large lending institution compared to some of the local banks.”

As far as commodity crop prices, he said, “It’s been a really good five years. You think about our primary commodities – cotton, corn, and peanuts – those prices have been doing really well over the last three to five years. We’re starting to see some softening of those prices over the last several weeks, couple of months. If you’re doing business with a farmer, some  of this might impact your business.”

Profit margins are down from 2012 for both corn and cotton, he said. One thing that is up is feeder cattle. “This is where you grow the steers up to about 750 pounds before you sell them. The profit there has increased about 60 cents a pound over the last two years.

Southwest Georgia is fortunate to be located above the Floridan Aquifer, one of the largest in the country, said Pointevint. “I think sometimes we don’t realize how valuable our land is here in Southwest Georgia,” despite a current moratorium on agricultural well drilling in place for almost two years. “”If you have irrigated land, you can imagine how valuable it is right now. I would say irrigated land, especially in the Mitchell and Calhoun counties area, is trading for $4,500 to $5,000 an acre. But, that’s seen as a deal compared to some of the land out in the Midwest, where it’s $9,000 to $11,000 an acre in the cornbelt.” The drilling moratorium will likely remain in place until state officials determine that the aquifer is recharging properly, Pointevint predicted.

The area’s crop diversity is also a plus, he said. “We are a hotbed of diversity. You can grow a very diverse crop mix even though we focus on cotton, corn, and peanuts. Sweet corn, you see a lot of sweet corn here. Potatoes are becoming really  big in Mitchell and Decatur counties (especially the variety used in potato chips). It’s just a real diverse use of our property down here. We should be proud of that.”