Think of it as Trading Spaces, Broadway Edition! The upcoming productions of Love Letters and Honeymoon in Vegas are swapping theaters. Love Letters, which was set to play the Nederlander Theatre, will now begin performances at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on September 13. Meanwhile, Honeymoon in Vegas will now play the Nederlander beginning November 18 (instead of the previously announced Brooks Atkinson). The venue switch, which brings the musical to the larger house and the play to the more intimate space, will not affect the start or opening dates for either production. Honeymoon in Vegas, which features a score by Jason Robert Brown and a book by Andrew Bergman, tells the story of Jack Singer (Rob McClure), a commitment-phobe who finally proposes to his girlfriend Betsy (Brynn O’Malley). The couple heads to Vegas to get hitched, but when the smooth talking gambler Tommy Korman (Tony Danza) falls head over heels for Betsy, he arranges for Jack to lose big in a poker game so he can claim the bride-to-be as his own girlfriend. The Gary Griffin-helmed production also features Nancy Opel, Matthew Saldivar and David Josefsberg. Tickets that were purchased prior to the venue changes will automatically be issued for the production’s respective new home. A.R. Gurney’s Love Letters follows two friends, rebellious Melissa Gardner and straight-arrow Andrew Makepeace Ladd III have exchanged notes, cards and letters with each other for over 50 years. The play will open with Brian Dennehy and Mia Farrow. The two will be followed by stars including Alan Alda, Candice Bergen Carol Burnett, Anjelica Huston, Stacy Keach, Diana Rigg and Martin Sheen. Gregory Mosher will direct. View Comments
Star Files Kaye won Tonys for her performances as Duchess Estonia Dulworth in Nice Work If You Can Get It and as Carlotta in The Phantom of the Opera. She was also nominated for her roles in Mamma Mia! and Souvenir. Her other Broadway credits include Ragtime, On the Twentieth Century, Sweeney Todd and Grease. Judy Kaye Related Shows It’s possible! Tony winner Judy Kaye flies into the Broadway production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella beginning September 12 as the Fairy Godmother. Kaye steps in for Tony winner Victoria Clark and joins a cast that includes the newly crowned Keke Palmer as the titular princess and Sherri Shepherd as Madame, Cinderella’s wicked stepmother. Show Closed This production ended its run on Jan. 4, 2015 Cinderella View Comments In addition to Kaye, Palmer and Shepherd, the current cast of Cinderella includes Joe Carroll as Prince Topher, Ann Harada as Charlotte, Stephanie Gibson as Gabrielle, Peter Bartlett as Sebastian, Todd Buonopane as Jean-Michel and Phumzile Sojola as Lord Pinkleton.
Here’s a quick roundup of stories you may have missed today and over the weekend. View Comments Michele Pawk & More Set for Vanya and Sonia… We now know who will be appearing in the previously reported production of Christopher Durang’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike at Paper Mill. Directed by Don Stephenson, the comedy will feature Tony winner Michele Pawk (Hollywood Arms) as Sonia, Gina Daniels (All the Way) as Cassandra, Carolyn McCormick (Equus) as Masha, Mark Nelson (After the Fall) as Vanya, Philippe Bowgen as Spike and Jamie Ann Romero as Nina. The show will play January 21, 2015 through February 15, with opening night set for January 25. Rachelle Rak to Play 54 Below Broadway vet Rachelle Rak (Cats, Fosse, Catch Me If You Can) will perform her one-woman show, Sas with One ‘S’™ at 54 Below on January 4, 2015 and January 29. Expect to hear songs from Starlight Express, Smokey Joe’s Cafe, Fosse, The Jack Cole Project, Rak’s signature song “SAS” and more. We now know where we’ll be bringing our sas in the New Year! Sondheim’s Startling Scoop In Case You Missed It (how?) we’ve been writing about the upcoming Into the Woods movie for quite some time. You know, the film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s classic tuner starring Meryl Streep as the Witch, the role originated by Bernadette Peters on Broadway in 1987. And then Sondheim goes and tells the LA Times something that blows our minds. Streep taking on the role was “ordained because the lady who played the Witch on the stage and the lady who’s playing the Witch in the movie, their last names are anagrams of each other.” Streep, Peters—in all our endless column inches how could we not have noticed that before? Cicely Tyson & Marcia Gay Harden Head to Shondaland Shondaland is tapping Broadway again! Tony winners Cicely Tyson and Marcia Gay Harden will guest star and recur, respectively, on How to Get Away with Murder opposite two-time Tony winner Viola Davis. According to The Hollywood Reporter, details of Tyson’s role are being kept quiet; Harden’s character will be a foil for Davis’ Annalise Keating. The hit ABC show will return to our screens on January 29.
View Comments On The Twentieth Century Related Shows Peter Gallagher stopped by The Today Show on June 17 to chat about returning to Broadway in On the Twentieth Century. The Tony nominee reminisced about his time in the original company of Grease on the Great White Way (we can just see him in a T-Birds leather jacket!). Although Gallagher admitted that the “hardest work you can do in showbiz is eight times a week in a musical” he believes that “some of the best roles I’ve ever had,” have come from his time on the boards. And what about his co-star Kristin Chenoweth? “She is remarkable…I’m trying to soak up everything she does.” Check out the interview below then catch On the Twentieth Century at the American Airlines Theatre through July 19. Show Closed This production ended its run on July 19, 2015
Related Shows Star Files Hamilton View Comments Lin-Manuel Miranda Tony-winning certified genius Lin-Manuel Miranda appeared on 60 Minutes on November 8 to discuss with Charlie Rose a little show called Hamilton. Like you, presumably, Miranda can recite the entire Hamilton cast recording (because, uh, he wrote it), but when exploring his childhood home, the composer showed off an impressive collection of cast albums while reciting a bevy of Camelot lyrics. Have you ever heard anyone else say that show has the “dopest beat”? Rose is impressed by his encyclopedic knowledge of musical theater lyrics, but Miranda, ever humble, revealed that while he can fire off “The Lusty Month of May,” he doesn’t know his own Social Security number. Take a look at the segments from CBS, which also feature interviews with Miranda’s parents, biography writer Ron Chernow, members of the cast and more, to see why Hamilton has transcended the Broadway community and gotten the attention of celebrities, political figures and the hip-hop world. But don’t think that’s gone to Miranda’s head. “At my age, Hamilton was treasury secretary and creating our financial system from scratch,” he quipped. “I wrote two plays.” from $149.00
Tuck Everlasting Andrew Keenan Bolger & Sarah Charles Lewis in ‘Tuck Everlasting'(Photo: Greg Mooney) We’ll have this one on repeat forever and ever (and ever). Tuck Everlasting, starring Andrew Keenan-Bolger and newcomer Sarah Charles Lewis, is set to release a Broadway cast recording. The DMI Soundtracks album will be available digitally on June 10 and in stores on July 1.Helmed by Tony winner Casey Nicholaw and featuring a score by Nathan Tyson and Chris Miller, Tuck Everlasting began performances on March 31 and will officially open on April 26 at the Broadhurst Theatre. The story follows a young girl and her friendship with Jesse Tuck and his family, who become immortal after drinking from a magical spring. Based on the 1975 children’s novel by Natalie Babbitt, the story has twice been adapted for the screen.Fans of the enchanting musical already got a taste of Lewis, who plays Winnie Foster, in the number “Everlasting,” as well as Tony nominee Carolee Carmello’s emotional “My Most Beautiful Day” as Mae Tuck, the matriarch of the ageless clan.In addition to Keenan-Bolger, Lewis and Carmello, the Broadway cast of Tuck Everlasting also features Tony nominee Terrence Mann, Michael Park, Robert Lenzi, Fred Applegate, Valerie Wright, Pippa Pearthree and Michael Wartella. View Comments Related Shows Show Closed This production ended its run on May 29, 2016
The In the Heights movie is on! The big screen adaptation of the Lin-Manuel Miranda musical is set to begin production in the spring, produced by the Weinstein Company. According to Variety, Miranda won’t reprise the role of Usnavi, however he is likely to appear as another character, either new or pre-existing.Pulitzer Prize winner Quiara Alegría Hudes, who wrote the book for the 2008 Tony-winning musical, has penned the screenplay, while the previously speculated Jon M. Chu has been tapped to direct.Featuring a Latin and hip-hop infused score, In The Heights opened at the Richard Rodgers Theatre (coincidentally the home of Hamilton as well) in 2008 and marked Miranda’s Broadway debut. The show won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Score for Miranda, who was also nominated for his performance. In the Heights follows the story of three days in the life of Washington Heights, a tightknit community at the top of Manhattan.Miranda is also working on another, as yet untitled film with Hudes; additional upcoming projects include Moana and Mary Poppins Returns. Star Files Lin-Manuel Miranda ‘In the Heights'(Photo: Joan Marcus) View Comments
Nathaniel Stampley & Carrie Compere(Photo: Twitter.com/StampleyN & Y.E.C. Creations) Must be somethin’ to fuss about! Nathaniel Stampley and Carrie Compere start performances in The Color Purple as Mister and Sofia, respectively, beginning on November 15. Both Isaiah Johnson and Danielle Brooks departed the Tony-winning revival on November 13.Both Stampley and Compere have roots in Purple. Stampley appeared in the ensemble of the 2005 production and understudied the role of Harpo. He has also performed on Broadway in The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess and The Lion King. Compere has been performing as one of the original Church Ladies in the John Doyle-helmed revival. She has also performed on Broadway in Holler If Ya Hear Me and off-Broadway in Sistas the Musical.The Color Purple features a book by Marsha Norman, lyrics by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray and music by Russell and Willis. Based on the novel by Alice Walker, the tuner tells the story of Celie, a woman who, through love, finds the strength to triumph over adversity and discovers her voice in the world.In addition to Stampley and Compere, the current cast includes Tony winner Cynthia Erivo as Celie, Jennifer Holliday as Shug Avery, Kyle Scatliffe as Harpo, Jennie Harney as Nettie and Patrice Covington as Squeak. The production is scheduled to close on January 8, 2017. View Comments The Color Purple Show Closed This production ended its run on Jan. 8, 2017 Related Shows
Wade warns against adding sand to Georgia’s clay-laden soils in an attempt to increasedrainage. “You can create cement,” he said. “That would be detrimental.” Recent wet winter weather reminds us of why good drainage is important for healthyperennial beds. “Just dig a hole in the bed and fill it with water,” Wade said. “Come back 24 hours later,and if the hole still has water in it, you have poorly drained soil.” To avoid those critical pockets of standing water, start with a good drainage system. Some homeowners try to help their beds’ drainage by removing their mulch. “As long as the water is moving off of the bed, you don’t have problems with wetweather,” said Gary Wade, a University of Georgia Extension Service horticulturist.”When the water is standing in the bed, you have big problems.” While Georgia seems to have had an abundance of rain this winter, he said, it’s actuallynormal February weather. “That does more harm than good,” Wade said. “If you remove the mulch, you’re exposingthe roots. When we get a few sunny days, the roots will be damaged by the drying effectof the sun. Just leave your mulch in place and cross your fingers that we don’t get muchmore rain.” “We have to remember that most perennials have very shallow, fibrous root systems,” hesaid. “So those that are hurting now are those in badly drained beds that allow water tostand and suffocate the root systems.” If you don’t know if your bed has poor drainage, try a simple perk test. “You can also raise beds four to six inches above the grade,” he said. That will not onlyallow the bed to drain better but will help people see the color display better, too. Instead, Wade recommends bringing in good topsoil. If you have bad drainage, about the only relief you can offer your beds is to carry thewater off the site. “If you have water problems now, there isn’t much you can do, short of ripping out yourperennials and starting over,” Wade said. “You have to create a good drainage systemfrom the beginning.” He recommends tilling as deeply as possible to break up any hardpan that lays beneathyour beds. Wade said some perennials such as Siberian and Japanese iris, hosta, liatris, lobelia, astilbe,phlox, monarda and physostegia are very tolerant of moist sites and can survive wetperiods without a scratch. Yellow flag iris, he said, will grow in standing water and isoften used in pondscapes.
Shad Dasher had catastrophic insurance coverage on his Vidalia onion crop, which pays a maximum of 70 percent of the crop’s market value per acre.With 95 percent of his crop ruined, the insurance would have given Dasher $1,800 an acre had the damage happened in the last phase of onion production, near harvest time.Dasher’s insurance adjuster, however, ruled that the damaged happened earlier, around a late frost, which means he will get only $1,080 an acre. That won’t cover the cost of his fertilizer, he said.Meanwhile, on the other side of Tattnall County, Kelly Folsom said he lost 70 percent of his crop but will be reimbursed for most of his costs. His crop was figured to have been damaged in the final production stage.Reid Torrance, the Tattnall County extension coordinator with the University of Georgia Extension Service, says the discrepancy between insurance companies is one of the issues making federal disaster relief a necessity for southeast Georgia onion farmers.”The lucky ones may get their production costs back,” he said. “But they will be the ones in the minority. That’s why the growers are petitioning to get some kind of emergency relief.”The number of Vidalia onion farmers has been declining in recent years. “If we don’t get any aid,” Torrance said, “I’m afraid we’re going to have even less onion growers than we had this year.”Torrance said several meetings have already taken place with Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) and Sen. Max Cleland (D-Ga.) to try to get federal aid for the onion farmers.There have also been discussions in the state legislature about standardizing the production stages insurance companies use to decide the amount of damages they pay a farmer.As it stands, Torrance said, the criteria vary among companies. They can become even more arbitrary with the interpretations of individual adjusters.
By Sharon OmahenUniversity of GeorgiaWhen this year’s pests invade your yard, keep safety in mind before you start spraying pesticides.”There are several factors to consider before you set out with your handheld or backpack sprayer,” said Paul Sumner, an engineer with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.For the past 25 years, Sumner has studied pesticide application methods on farms. When it comes to small areas, he said, handheld and backpack sprayers are inexpensive tools for controlling weeds, insects and diseases.”Effective pest control depends on whether you apply the proper amount of pesticide,” he said. “This can only be done if the spray equipment is calibrated accurately.”Do this firstSumner suggests a simple, quick test. First, fill your sprayer with water. Then spray a paved surface in your normal spraying manner on a warm day. In a few minutes, the drying pattern will show how the spray was distributed.”Fast-drying areas indicate low application rates, while slow-drying areas reveal high amounts of spray,” he said. “Uniform drying without streaks indicates a uniform application. Using this test as a guide, practice spraying until the water is distributed uniformly.”Before you spray, remember the wind.”You want a buffer area between you and downwind because of the possible chemical drift,” Sumner said. “You don’t want the wind to blow the pesticide to an adjoining area like your flower bed.”Federal regulations prohibit spraying pesticides outdoors if the wind speed is 10 miles per hour or higher. Sumner is even tougher. “If the wind is blowing more than 5 mph, you shouldn’t spray,” he said.Know the wind direction first. “Select a spraying time when there is little wind or the wind is blowing gently away from unaffected plants,” he said. “If the conditions aren’t right, consider another method of control or wait to apply the pesticide.”Know your sprayerHandheld and backpack sprayers have three main parts: a tank for the spray mix, a pump to provide pressure and a nozzle-wand to spray the chemical.Most backpack sprayers have pressure regulators that allow spraying at a constant pressure.”Few handheld sprayers have pressure regulators,” Sumner said. But it’s important to keep a constant pressure, and “fairly even pressure can be maintained if the hand pump is operated at a constant number of pumps per minute.”You must know the volume of your tank to know the area you can spray per tankful, he said. Most backpack sprayers hold 4 to 6 gallons and handheld sprayers 1 to 3 gallons.After you spray, immediately clean your sprayer to prepare for next time. First remove any remaining pesticide and triple-rinse the tank, he said.If you’ve sprayed a fungicide or insecticide, clean the sprayer with soap and water. Allow the solution to circulate through the sprayer for several minutes. Then flush the system three times with clean water before storing your sprayer.Tougher jobTanks used for spraying herbicides require more attention. Rinse the tank with kerosene, diesel fuel or a comparable light oil. Spray a small amount through the nozzles, too. After rinsing, fill the tank one-fourth to one-half full with a solution of 2.5 tablespoons of household ammonia to 1 gallon of water.It’s best, Sumner said, to have two sprayers, one for fungicides and insecticides and another for herbicides.”Cleaning your sprayer is essential,” he said. “If you don’t, the chemicals can dry inside the container, and the residual that bonds to the tank and pump parts will be released the next time you use your sprayer.”Finally, always follow the pesticide label recommendations precisely.”Most chemicals sold for homeowners don’t require you to wear protective gear,” he said. “But it’s never a bad idea to wear long sleeves, long pants and shoes when applying pesticides.”(Sharon Omahen is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)
The fourth annual Art at the Rock juried art show is set for Nov. 17 and 18, 2012 at Rock Eagle 4-H Center in Eatonton, Ga. The show will open at 10 a.m. and close at 4 p.m. on Saturday and open at 11:30 a.m. and close at 4 p.m. on Sunday.The show’s artists will exhibit a wide range of work, from painting and pottery to jewelry and woodcarving. Artists working in paint, clay, metals and fibers will display their work at this juried art show and sale that attracts more than 50 artists and a thousand visitors each year. Joe Belt, a Columbus, Ga., resident who grew up in west Texas, has been selected as the show’s 2012 featued artist. He trained in the fine arts at Texas Tech University, and his art has been shown nationally and collected in half a dozen foreign countries.Belt works with many subjects such as wildlife, portraits and ranch life, but he is best known for his highly detailed pencil drawings of Native American subjects from throughout North America. His work in pastels, charcoal and watercolors has been featured on movie posters, book covers, album jackets and architectural murals. Other Art at the Rock artists will exhibit and sell their oils and watercolors, pottery, jewelry, weaving, sculptures and many other art forms in an indoor exhibit hall. The show will feature live music, and homegrown and homemade items will be sold in the show’s marketplace. Food and beverages will also be available.A 5K race will be held Sunday, Nov. 18 in conjunction with Art at the Rock. The race will begin at 2:04 p.m. Pre-registration is $18 and on site registration is $22. Overall winners will receive a piece of artwork from an Art at the Rock artist. To register for the race, visit www.cloverglove.com.For more information on the 2012 Art at the Rock event, contact Tina Maddox at firstname.lastname@example.org or (706) 484-2873.
Think back to your teenage years. Did you feel awkward, especially given the changes with your body and emotions? Today’s teens are no different. They are quiet, forgetful and sometimes even surly. They consume large amounts of food and sleep all the time. If I sound like I know them well, I do. I have two teenagers in my home and I have to remind myself daily that they are not little adults. They are experiencing monumental changes that affect their interactions.The physical changes are obvious. They gain weight and seem to be sprouting up at superhuman rates.Just like their bodies, teenagers’ brains are also still under construction and not fully developed. In fact, several studies indicate that teenagers’ brains “are not fully developed until late in adolescence.” The neurons are literally not connecting. This under-construction phase is a challenging time for teens and sometimes the entire family. Both of my teens make decisions that are not based on logic, experience or common sense. Mind you, they are not bad decisions, just not well thought out.Now that we are clear about what is going on, let’s look at how we can assist with this transition into adulthood.Help them to make healthy choices about the foods they eat. Anyone who has been in contact with a teenage boy knows the struggle of keeping them full. Foods with more fiber keep them full longer. Make sure they keep the sweet foods and carbs, including drinks, chips, crackers, pasta and bread, to a minimum, as this can affect acne. Suggest calcium-rich foods, like collard greens, cheese, yogurt and fortified cereal, to support strong bones. Building strong bones now can prevent bone loss later in life and decreases the chances of osteoporosis. Currently, I buy two gallons of milk per week and a large box of fortified cereal. They are happy and so am I.Ensure that they are getting enough sleep. More sleep is required to do the heavy lifting of adolescence. Research suggests teenagers need an average of nine-and-a-half hours of sleep.Finally, keep trying. A good friend advised me to continue to plant the seeds with my teenagers. She insists that one day the seeds will take root and grow.I had to pause and reflect on the number of times my own great-aunt told me the same things over and over. As much as I hate to admit it, I remember the signs of adolescence I now see in my own son and daughter.To all of us helping teenagers make it to young adulthood, take a deep breath, keep up the good work and remember, one day, the seed will take root and the plant will grow.
To successfully establish a new tall fescue lawn or interseed an existing lawn, consider the following techniques and practices from University of Georgia Cooperative Extension.Grass seeded earlier than September or October is subject to heat stress and diseases. Planting later leaves the plant vulnerable to cold weather. Seeding in December and early spring is generally not recommended because the plant does not have adequate time to develop a deep root system needed to survive Georgia’s hot summers.Preemergence herbicides are needed to minimize weed pressure. These herbicides pose the least amount of risk to tall fescue that was seeded the previous September and October. Tall fescue seeded in November and treated with preemergence herbicides the following February has lower turfgrass quality ratings and reduced stand density compared to tall fescue seeded in October.Proper soil preparation is critical for effective seed establishment. Ridding the lawn of debris, tilling, incorporating lime and fertilizer and smoothing the surface are all necessary prior to seeding.Add amendments, like organic matter or topsoil, for soil improvement and till thoroughly into the existing soil. After initial preparation is completed and the area is properly leveled, collect a soil sample to obtain soil fertilizer recommendations. Submit soil samples to the local UGA Extension office. If starter fertilizer and lime are recommended, incorporate 3 to 4 inches into the soil. Tilling deeper is always better.To ensure you plant high-quality pure seed, search for the blue certified seed tag on the bag. In the retail market, most tall fescue seed is available as a blend of several tall fescue cultivars. Single cultivars are also available but often at a higher price.The ideal seeding rate for tall fescue is 5 to 6 pounds per 1,000 square feet. To minimize skips and gaps, divide the seed into two equal portions and broadcast half in one direction and the remainder at a right angle to the first direction.The seed can be lightly raked into the upper quarter-inch of soil or pressed into the seedbed with a roller. Apply a straw mulch to retain moisture for improved germination and prevent erosion.After seeding, keep the upper 1 to 2 inches of soil moist, not wet, for uniform germination. This usually means daily watering of about one-tenth to one-quarter inch for the first three weeks. As the seedlings develop, irrigate less frequently but wet the soil profile deeper. Under good conditions, tall fescue seed will germinate in 5 to 10 days and be ready for its first mowing between 2 and 3 weeks.Begin mowing at a height of 2 inches. As the seedlings mature, raise the cutting height to the 2.5- to 3-inch range. Once mature, the lawn can be maintained between 2 to 2.5 inches, but a height of 3 inches is suggested during the summer months. Use a mower with a sharp blade and mow often enough so no more than a third of the leaf height is removed in a single mowing. Do not mow a grass, especially young seedlings, when it’s wet.If the lawn needs reseeding, estimate the percentage of tall fescue loss and multiply that number by the establishment seeding rate of 6 pounds per 1,000 square feet. For example, if 50 percent (0.5) of the stand is lost, reseed with 0.5 x 6 = 3 pounds per 1,000 square feet. Spring reseeding is less successful because of the shorter establishment time before summer heat and moisture stress.Seed-to-soil contact is necessary to assure successful reseeding. First, mow the lawn at a height of 1 to 1.5 inches. Disturb the soil by coring or vertical mowing before and/or after seed distribution. (Equipment for this task is available at rental or garden centers.) Reseed thin areas at 2 to 6 pounds per 1,000 square feet. Getting the seed below the existing turfgrass canopy and to the soil surface improves germination. Apply a starter fertilizer at 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. Lastly, keep the soil moist as discussed for new lawn establishment.Successful seeding depends on proper soil preparation, good soil-to-seed contact and proper water management.
For more than a decade, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offered through the University of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS) Department of Financial Planning, Housing and Consumer Economics has offered free tax help to Georgians with low-to-moderate incomes, persons with disabilities, the elderly and limited-English-speaking taxpayers.In 2017, with help from UGA Cooperative Extension, the program expanded to offer online services to reach eligible taxpayers in more rural areas of Georgia.Joan Koonce, UGA Extension financial planning specialist, is looking forward to watching the program grow again this year after watching the progress of the online program with UGA Extension. The program began in 2017 with agents from southwest Georgia and now includes agents from all four districts.“We only did it a few days each week for one month in the first year,” Koonce said. “We saw what worked well and what didn’t work well. Really, we had greater demand than we could actually keep up with.”To develop the online program, Koonce worked with Lance Palmer, financial planning professor and director of VITA for UGA, and Andrea Scarrow, director of UGA Extension’s Southwest District, who was the district’s FACS program development coordinator at that time.“I wanted to expand as much as we possibly could to serve as many people as possible,” said Koonce, adding that agents completed 115 tax returns in 2017. With the help of numerous county Extension agents, taxpayers from every district in Georgia received assistance in 2018 and the service more than doubled the number of tax returns completed to 387.Like last year, the service will be offered throughout the tax season, from Feb. 1 through April 12, when taxpayers from districts all over Georgia will be able to go to select county Extension offices to meet with county agents who conduct a brief interview and gather the required documents. Afterward, the county agents return the required documents to Koonce using an encrypted email service and an email set up specifically for the program.Students on UGA’s Athens campus prepare the tax returns early each week, then hold virtual meetings with individual taxpayers later in the week to discuss the returns.“The students are a big part of this,” Koonce said. “It’s a lot of work, but it is so rewarding.”The service benefits both Georgia taxpayers and UGA undergraduate and graduate students, who gain real-world training in addition to the course credit they earn for their participation.“We have a lot of elderly people who are in the southwest and southeast districts who have retirement income and all kinds of tax-related things going on,” Koonce said. “So the students get to really learn about a variety of tax situations.”She estimates VITA saves each taxpayer served an average of $300.But perhaps the greatest return is captured in what Koonce says motivates her, and many others, to contribute their time and their efforts to this program. “I enjoy helping people,” she said.The UGA Extension offices in the following counties participate in the Vita program: Appling County, Bibb County, Clayton County, Crisp County, Colquitt County, Dougherty County, Elbert County, Lincoln County, Morgan County, Oconee County, Quitman County, Richmond County, Spalding County, Sumter County, Tattnall County, Tift County, Washington County and Wilkes County. To find out whether the UGA Extension office nearest you participates, call 1-800-ASK-UGA1.
Erica Chaney and Shamona Willis, both Talbot County natives, have joined the staff of the local University of Georgia Cooperative Extension office in that county.Chaney is the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) program assistant and Willis is the county Extension 4-H educator. “I’ve always liked working with people and meeting new people,” she said. “When the job with UGA Extension became available, I saw it as a good opportunity to go back to my community and give back.”Chaney will be teaching Food Talk nutrition lessons in the community through EFNEP, a federally funded program that is free to low-income Georgians.“There are eight Food Talk sessions and after completing them all, participants receive a certificate and a recipe book,” she said. “I’ll be teaching how to prepare budget-friendly, quick, healthy and affordable meals.”Chaney is searching for partners to work with to reach as many people in the county as possible.“I can go out anywhere in the community as long as I have a table and a skillet,” she said. “I’m from Talbotton (in Talbot County), so I know a lot of people, but there are also a lot of new people. I really think this program will be good for the community.”So far, Chaney has met with the local senior center, the Talbot County Housing Authority and Family Connections to discuss offering EFNEP to their clients. She would also like to teach EFNEP sessions to Head Start staff, to parents and in churches.“Talbot County is really spread out, so I really want to go to each town — Woodland, Box Springs, Junction City and Geneva. I want everyone to have an opportunity to attend the EFNEP classes.”Chaney has a heart for her hometown and county, and she is emotional when she talks about the tornadoes that ripped through the county this year.“This is my home and when I came back to visit and help, I didn’t recognize my home. It was devastating,” she said. “But we are rebuilding, and everyone is okay. That’s all that matters.”A 1990 graduate of Central High School, Chaney attended Tuskegee University and Flint River Technical College. She later earned her Certified Nursing Assistant license and worked in the medical field and with the Talbot County Board of Education in the Head Start program, the Early Reading First program and as a substitute teacher.Willis, the new 4-H Educator served at the Talbot County Library for 18 years, beginning as a circulation clerk and serving as branch manager for the past 10 years. She also ran the bookmobile for two years, which allowed her to get to know a lot of residents.“Through the library, I worked with the last 4-H agent and that drew my interest to the position,” Willis said. “I enjoy doing crafts and working with children. So far, this position has opened me up to a lot of different areas; I’m learning right along with the kids.”Willis meets with the elementary, middle, and high school students on the third Monday and Tuesday of each month. Georgia 4-H curriculum is designed to educate children is specific areas, but the 4-H agent is able to personalize the lessons.“Right now, I’m teaching agriculture and science-based lessons and then we will move into healthy living,” she said. “With my ninth graders, we are learning about money. I tweak the programs so that I can deliver them in a fun, interactive way.”A 1997 graduate of Central High School, Willis graduated from North Central University with a master’s degree in business administration-management in 2017. Willis grew up participating in Talbot County 4-H and her daughter, Kimeyata Willis, also participated as a Talbot County 4-H’er. She remembers going to camp at Rock Eagle 4-H Center and sending her daughter there.“Now, I will be the one reassuring the parents that I will bring the children back the same way I got them,” she laughed.Willis looks forward to bringing new 4-H programs to the county, like poultry judging and BB sports.“There are a lot of different things that other communities do that we have been missing out on,” she said.For more information about Talbot County Extension, visit the office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, at 401 Washington Avenue, Talbotton, Georgia.