Archives for November 2012

Sweet Water comes up short in semis

SWEET WATER — Two teams. Two classic battles. One team advances.

Sweet Water QB Brett Davis runs behind #40 Deion Waters for yardage against Washington County.

Washington County High School avenged a 20-6 midseason loss to Sweet Water High with a 41-33 victory Friday night, propelling WCHS to the Class 2A state championship game and ending Sweet Water’s first season in 2A at 11-3.

“They made one more play than we did, I guess,” Sweet Water head coach Stacy Luker said. “They are a great football team. But our guys didn’t quit. I thought Washington County handed us a knockout punch numerous times, but our kids have heart. We just needed a stop and couldn’t get a stop.”

Sweet Water found itself with an opportunity to tie the game late when it took over possession at its own 20 with 3:52 to play in the game. The home Bulldogs’ best chance to turn the game ended only two plays later when Lavonte Boman climbed the ladder to intercept a downfield heave and give his team a chance to run the clock out.

Washington County started the possession on a toss to Tyrone Kidd, who pushed a mob of would-be tacklers down the sideline for a 38-yard run to essentially ice the game.

Sweet Water got the ball back one final time with 10.3 seconds to play but could muster only 13 yards before time ran out on its quest for its first 2A Blue Map.

“We didn’t quit, They put us on the ropes. I thought they threw a knockout punch numerous times, but we showed a lot of character, a lot of heart, a lot of resiliency, kept fighting,” Luker said.

Sweet Water opened the scoring late in the first quarter with a 12-yard touchdown strike from Brett Davis to Demarcus Gamble. On the next play from scrimmage, Kidd went 78 yards to answer and put WCHS down 7-6.

Washington County took a lead it would never relinquish midway through the second quarter when DeAnthony Holcombe punched the ball in from two yards out to cap a six-play, 64-yard drive that was anchored by a 59-yard Kidd scamper.

Sweet Water answered with a big play threat of its own just five plays later when Jakoby Aldridge popped around the left side and darted 59 yards for the score. A failed extra point try left Washington County up 14-13.

Washington County answered on the next possession when it covered 67 yards in eight plays, culminating the march with a 31-yard scoring run from Holcombe. WCHS preserved the 21-13 advantage when Boman made an acrobatic interception at his own nine on Sweet Water’s final play of the half.

SWHS capitalized on its first possession of the third quarter with a four-play, 56-yard drive that cut the game to 21-19 when Deion Watters broke a 46-yard touchdown run.

Kidd, who finished the night with 337 yards on 16 carries, again wasted little time answering when he sprinted 54 yards to paydirt only two plays later to stretch the WCHS advantage back to two possessions.

Sweet Water responded with a seven-play, 54-yard march that ended when Davis hit Gamble for a 14-yard touchdown pass. The Taylor Wilson PAT left Sweet Water down 28-26.

Five plays later, Kidd electrified the visiting stands again when he broke a 48-yard touchdown run to up the lead to 35-26.

Sweet Water responded one more time as Daniel Sewell sprinted around the right side for a 36-yard scoring run.

Sweet Water finally got the defensive stop it needed with 8:43 to go in the game. However, the Bulldogs proved unable to take advantage, finishing their drive a yard shy of the sticks.

WCHS countered with one final blow, a strike that came in the form of a 26-yard touchdown pass from Dane Howard to Kerri Pennington with only 4:45 to go in the game.

“They’ve been to three semi-finals and a state championship,” Luker said of his outgoing senior class. “Right now, that doesn’t seem like much to them, but 10 years from now it will.”

Aldridge finished with 122 yards on 18 carries for Sweet Water. Watters added 92 yards on 12 carries.


Watchman managing partner Danny Smith contributed to this report. 

Tarpley crowned St. Nicholas 2012

Kelley Tarpley was named Saint Nicholas for Christmas on the River 2012.

Kelley Tarpley donned the robe of St. Nicholas Thursday night as the 41st Christmas on the River festivities continued in Demopolis.

Tarpley was one of 12 nominees for St. Nicholas this year. The Demopolis native was chosen for her dedication to creating activities for children, especially at the Demopolis Public Library and its summer reading program.

The honor of being named St. Nicholas goes to residents who focus their energy and attention on helping the children in Demopolis.

The new St. Nick will wear the robe and miter of her office at other events during COTR and will ride a special float in the Children’s Day Parade December 1.

Tarpley has been the children’s and young adults’ librarian for five years. Her involvement in directing the Summer Reading Program led to her being named to the state committee for the program.

During her tenure at the library, Tarpley has worked on her master’s of library and information degree.  She will receive the diploma in December.

In addition to her work with the library, Tarpley has been involved with the Demopolis High Band Boosters and with the local soccer program.

She and her husband Donn have three children: Anna Kate, 17; Alex, 16, and Andy, 15.

Before announcing Tarpley’s selection, students from the Westside Elementary after-school program carried lanterns they had made to light the way for St. Nick.

Lots of “oohs” and “aahs” were heard throughout the crowd of more than 250 when city officials turned on the switch to light the tens of thousands of white lights decorating the trees and bushes in the park. More than 400 new strings of lights were added to the display for 2012.

The Rev. J.D. Barnes, pastor of Trinity Episcopal Church, read the Nativity story while students portrayed the familiar tale in a tableau.

As the program closed Santa Claus arrived with a jolly “ho, ho, ho.” Children lined up to have their pictures made with the jolly visitor.

Other St. Nick nominees were Paula Parr, Cindy Hay, Mike Cork, Mike Baker, Theresa Freeman, Mary Jo Martin, Dr. Ronnie Chu, Carl Johnson, Ann Jackson, Chuck Smith and Ben Sherrod.

During the program the four queens from the COTR pageants and their courts were introduced as were three “elves,” who will be helping during the events. They are sixth-graders Jordan Smith, Sarah Margaret Barris and Rose Hall.

Lighting of Town Square, Christmas Story and Saint Nicholas (video)

Lighting of Town Square, Lantern Parade, Christmas Story and Saint Nicholas

Tigers thump Essex in home opening win

After suffering a tough overtime loss Tuesday, Demopolis (1-1) got into the win column Thursday with a 56-30 dispatching of U.S. Highway 80 rival John Essex (1-2).

In the game’s early going, the Tigers showed many of the shooting woes that plagued them against Bibb County Tuesday as they limped to an 8-3 lead after the first quarter.

The Tigers’ complemented their shooting difficulties with a stifling defense that held Essex to 1-of-10 from the floor in the game’s opening period.

“We’re focusing more on defense. We’re just working and working. Offensively we’ve got to execute better,” Demopolis coach Rodney Jackson said. “I didn’t think we executed as well tonight, but I did think we played hard.”

The teams battled to a nearly even tilt in the second quarter as Demopolis outpaced Essex 13-11 in the frame before finding its stroke in the game’s final 16 minutes.

The Tigers hung 15 points on the board in the third quarter and 20 more in the fourth to put the game well out of reach for Essex, whose starting backcourt combination of Michael Moore and Cedric Cooks spent much of the contest’s last period stuck on the bench after fouling out.

Tommy Wilson led the way for Demopolis with 15 points, including a 7-of-8 shooting night from the free throw line.

All nine Demopolis players scored from the floor in the game. Wilson’s charity stripe efforts anchored a 14-of-22 free throw shooting night for Demopolis.

Roderick Davis added 10 points for the Tigers. Rashad Lynch finished with eight while Kiante’ Jefferies had seven.

Moore paced the Hornets with 10 points while Josh Moore finished with eight points and 12 rebounds.

In his first varsity game, Charles Tripp headed up the Demopolis rebounding effort with seven boards to go along with two blocks.

“Every kid that’s on my roster has a job to do. I talk to them about it all the time. We brought Charles up because we thought he would add a big presence in the middle. And I thought he did,” Jackson said. “Once he gets his confidence, he’s going to be a real good player for us. He’s just a sophomore, but he’s going to be a real good player. There’s no doubt.”

Demopolis plays again Friday night when it travels to A.L. Johnson.

Few supporters to approach council

A group of citizens who oppose the recent termination of Demopolis Fire Chief Ronnie Few plan to attend the City Council’s Dec. 4 meeting, and are taking appropriate steps to be placed on the agenda.

At a public meeting held Thursday night at Christian Chapel Baptist Church, the group heard Few share his perspective, and also heard from Few’s recently retired Assistant Chief Carl Johnson.

“This man deserves his job back,” Johnson told the crowd of more than 150. “I’m here tonight not only because I like the man – that’s a plus. I’m here because he taught me how to treat people fairly and he made this department better.”

Johnson said Few brought a higher level of skill and best practices to the department. “He showed me skills I’d read in a book but had never got to practice. I learned a tremendous amount from him.”

Few, who spoke before Johnson, shared several ways he believes he improved the fire department’s overall performance. He mentioned firefighter safety as his top priority, and added that he transformed the department from one that “ran fire calls” into a full-service department.

Few said when he arrived, the department was averaging just over 200 calls a year, which has increased to more than 800 with the expansion of the department’s role into one of emergency service.

He said he implemented an aggressive smoke detector program for new construction in the city, and also a fire education program in the schools that he said has helped reduce the number of fire calls.

“And we did it with no addition to the budget,” Few said. “In fact, we were asked to give 15 percent back.”

Few mentioned some of the criticisms he said have been leveled against him, and responded to each. He said he has been criticized for not personally responding to calls, but said he sees his role as ensuring firefighter safety, “not chasing fire trucks.” He added that he wanted his captains to feel that they can take charge at the scene.

Few said some people believe the city does not need three fire stations, but added that the third station (on U.S. 80 East) was already in the planning stages when he arrived. “There was a foundation already laid out there, and the project was over budget. We finished it, and we did it under budget,” he said.

The former Chief said he occasionally heard that some firefighters were disgruntled, but added that he held an annual “Ask the Chief Day”, in which any firefighter could come to him and share any concerns. Few said he chose not to get directly involved in every personnel issue, but preferred to utilize the chain of management for disciplinary matters.

“My leadership style may be a little different, but I made sure the firefighters were trained and ready,” he said. “I want you to know I didn’t do anything wrong. I’m asking you – don’t let this happen to another individual in this city.”

The City Council voted 4-2 not to re-appoint Few earlier this month.

Thursday’s gathering stemmed from a Nov. 20 meeting at which Mayor Mike Grayson addressed a group of concerned citizens. A spokesperson for that group, former council member Thomas Moore, said the mayor’s answers were not satisfactory, which he said necessitated Thursday’s meeting.

Grayson said after the Nov. 20 meeting that he was not at liberty to share the specifics behind the council’s decision, citing the confidential nature of personnel matters.


Lady Tigers blast John Essex in home opener

The Demopolis Lady Tigers (2-0) ran their way to a 47-17 thumping of John Essex Thursday night in their home opener.

The Lady Tigers carried a 17-0 lead into the second quarter and scarcely let up, holding a 27-6 advantage at the half.

Caleb Washington led the way for Demopolis with 10 points. Jonniece Collins scored eight points while Alexis Jones had seven. Shartisha Tripp chipped in six points in the win.

Kieshandra Fluker led John Essex with eight points in the loss.

Demopolis returns to action next Friday night when it hosts R.C. Hatch.

U.S. Jones holds Geography Fair

U.S. Jones Elementary School recently conducted its annual Geography Fair, awarding prizes to students in third through fifth grades.

Mary Stuedeman and Kendra Elmore, teachers at USJ, were responsible for organizing the fair, a task that included both setup of the projects and the procuring of judges for the event.

Grade level winners each received trophies thanks to the efforts of the PTA.

Brody Osburn took first place in third grade. Fourth grade winner was Ty Lewis while Gabe Daniels and Cooper Manning tied for the fifth grade winner.


Love Lights ignite Christmas on the River 2012

Under a full moon a record crowd of some 300 turned out Wednesday night to begin the 2012 Christmas on the River at the 23rdannual Love Lights Tree Lighting Ceremony.

The Love Light Tree sits atop Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital in Demopolis.

Sponsored by the Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, the ceremony included the lighting of the Love Lights Tree by the 2012 Special Child Windham Thomson Lee, Jr.

Funds earned from selling love lights in honor or in memory of family and friends are pooled with other fundraisers. The money is used by the Auxiliary to provide scholarships for area students who are pursuing degrees in healthcare, purchase much needed equipment for the hospital and pay for other programs that benefit patients, said Rebecca Culpepper, president.

Just this year, she continued, six scholarships totaling $9,000 were awarded and more than $17,500 has been spent on purchases for the hospital.

Love Lights committee member Carolyn Bell said some $1,750 already has been raised through the sale of the lights. Alice Boggs, in charge of the corporate wreaths, said another $4,300 in donations has come in.  Sale of both the Love Lights and wreaths will continue until Christmas, they said.

Chilly temperatures didn’t cool the enthusiasm of the crowd as six-year-old Windham lighted the tree atop the hospital. Even a patient attached to an IV pump looked on.

Children from the First United Methodist Church sang carols, and the hospital treated everyone to refreshments after the ceremony.

Also taking part in the ceremony were the Rev. J.D. Barnes, rector of Trinity Episcopal Church and an Auxiliary member; John Scales, chairman of the Demopolis Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors; Mike Marshall, administrator of the hospital, and Linde McAdams, chairman of the Special Child committee.


Emergency Alert Test set for Dec. 5

The University of West Alabama and the City of Livingston will perform a monthly test of the emergency outdoor

sirens around the UWA campus on Wednesday, Dec. 5 at 9 a.m. Tests are scheduled for the first Wednesday of each month, weather permitting.

The siren will be audible throughout the city for a few minutes, but this is only a test. Siren alerts sounded at other times should be perceived as emergency alerts.

For more information contact UWA’s Office of Emergency Preparedness at 205-652-5563.


UWA to hold Christmas concert

The University of West Alabama and the Sumter County Fine Arts Council present the UWA Christmas Concert on Tuesday, Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. in Bibb Graves Auditorium. The UWA Choir will perform traditional holiday favorites highlighting different cultures and time periods.

The band is under the direction of Glenn Smith, and the UWA Choir is under the direction of Willie Williams. Admission to the concert is free.

For over thirty years, the Sumter County Fine Arts Council has provided quality entertainment and arts education programs to the West Alabama community. The SCFAC, based in Livingston, Ala., is governed by a Board of Directors whose members represent the west central Alabama area.

The SCFAC receives support from the Alabama State Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the University of West Alabama and from other agencies, businesses and individuals. For more information about joining the SCFAC, contact Dr. Judy Massey at SCFAC P.O. Box 1038 Livingston, Alabama 35470.