Archives for October 2017

UWA students crown Elizabeth Jones of Tuscaloosa Homecoming Queen

The UWA 2017 Homecoming Court, pictured left to right, are sophomore maid Ma’Kiyah Hall of Reform, Ala.; LaPrease Sparks of Birmingham, Ala.; Chloe Paige of Hattiesburg, Miss.; UWA’s 2017 Homecoming Queen Elizabeth Jones of Tuscaloosa, Ala.; Lauren Sevenish of Tuscaloosa, Ala..; Quenterica White of Sawyerville, Ala.; and freshman maid Rian Crawford of Pell City, Ala.

LIVINGSTON, Ala.—During Homecoming festivities on Saturday, Oct. 28, the University of West Alabama announced its 2017 Homecoming Queen, Elizabeth Jones of Tuscaloosa. Jones and the Homecoming Queen’s court were nominated and elected by the UWA student body as the leading ladies of the week.

The queen, a closely guarded secret, was announced and crowned on the field during halftime festivities at the UWA vs. West Florida game on Saturday.

Homecoming Queen Elizabeth Jones is a senior from Tuscaloosa. A graduate of Hillcrest High School, Jones is majoring in elementary education. She is a member of the UWA cheerleading team and is vice president of Phi Mu Fraternity.

Jones serves as a UWA Orientation leader and vice president of the student ambassador leadership council. She is a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, Kappa Delta Pi, and Blue Key Honor Societies. She has served as a UWA CARES peer mentor and was named to Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges.

Jones is the daughter of Steven and Lisa Jones and the late Katharyn Jones. She was escorted on the field by her father.

Chloe Paige, a senior from Hattiesburg, Miss., and nursing major, is a member of the court. A graduate of Hattiesburg High School, Paige is a member of the Student Government Association and Student Nurses Association and also serves as treasurer of her nursing class.

Paige works as a student recreation attendant at Hughes Gym, UWA’s Rec Center.  She is a Trustee Scholar and a 2017 John Brown Scholar through the First Presbyterian Church of Livingston. She is the daughter of the late Arthur Ray Russell and Tamika Paige, and she was escorted on the field by her brother, Keirston Paige.

Lauren Sevenish, a senior from Tuscaloosa, is a member of the court. She is a graduate of Tuscaloosa County High school and is majoring in Integrated Marketing Communications with a focus in graphic design. Sevenish is a member of Phi Eta Sigma, Phi Kappa Phi, Alpha Chi, and Lambda Pi Eta. She serves as an Orientation leader and Ambassador for UWA’s Office of Admissions. She also serves as the public relations chair for the UWA Student Government Association.

Sevenish is president of Blue Key Honor Society, president of Cardinal Key Honor Society and president of the UWA Ambassador Leadership Council. She is the daughter of Rick Sevenish and Shell Ann Golden, and she was escorted on the field by her father.

LaPrease Sparks, a senior from Birmingham, is a member of the court. Sparks, a graduate of Ramsay High School, is majoring in elementary education. She is a member of Alpha Phi Omega, Alpha Chi Honor Society, Phi Kappa Phi, and Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.

Sparks is the acting Anti-Basileus and Epistoleus of Sigma Gama Rho Sorority, Inc. She serves as a resident assistant for UWA Housing in Gilbert Hall. She was recognized by Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges. She is the daughter of laPerrian Sparks and Melvin Davis and was escorted on the field by her father.

Quenterica White, a senior from Sawyerville, is a member of the court. She is a graduate of Francis Marion High School and is majoring in elementary education. White has been a member of the UWA Scarlet Band for almost four years and has served as a member of Side Court Posse for one year.

White is a pledge of Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity. She has been named on the Dean’s List several times at UWA. She is in her second year serving as a UWA resident assistant for Hoover Apartments. She is the daughter of Randall and Malinda White and was escorted on the field by her father.

Ma’Kiyah Hall, a sophomore from Reform, is the court’s sophomore maid. Hall is a graduate of Pickens County High School. Ma’Kiyah is a member of UWA’s Scarlet Band as a Scarlet Guard. She is the daughter of Marlin and Jennifer Hall and was escorted on the field by her father.

Rian Crawford of Pell City is the court’s freshman maid. Crawford attended Pell City High School. She is a member of the UWA Cheerleading Team.  A criminal justice major, she is the daughter of Willard and La Tonya Crawford and was escorted on the field by her father.

Brookwood woman killed in Hale County crash

A single-vehicle crash at 12:50 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 29, claimed one life and injured another. Kayla Kathleen Camp, 21, of Brookwood was killed when the 2006 Chevrolet Malibu she was driving left the roadway and struck a tree. Camp, who was not wearing a seat belt, was pronounced dead at the scene. The passenger, Garron Hunter Slayton, 22, also of Brookwood, was injured and transported to UAB Hospital in Birmingham. The crash occurred on Alabama 25 near the 39 mile marker, approximately six miles north of Faunsdale. Nothing further is available as Alabama State Troopers continue to investigate.

Moundville man dies in Greene County crash

A single-vehicle crash at 4:26 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 29, claimed the life of a Moundville man. Steve Earl Nevels, 54, was killed when the 2002 Oldsmobile Intrigue he was driving left the roadway and overturned. Nevels, who was not using a seatbelt, was ejected and pronounced dead at the scene. The crash occurred on Greene County 191 approximately two and a half miles north of Union.  Nothing further is available as Alabama State Troopers continue to investigate.

University Charter School announces PK-8 opening structure

University Charter School signed its official charter on Thursday, Oct. 26, marking the beginning of a five-year contract with its authorizer, the Alabama Public Charter School Commission. Pictured left to right at the charter signing ceremony are University of West Alabama President Ken Tucker, University Charter School Board President Micky Smith, APCSC Chairman Mac Buttram, UCS Head of School Dr. J.J. Wedgworth, and Logan Searcy of the Alabama State Department of Education. The University of West Alabama sponsored the application for the new charter school in Sumter County, which is set to open for grades pre-k through eight in August 2018. The school will add a grade each year to become a pre-k through 12 school in 2022.

LIVINGSTON, Ala.—Sumter County’s new University Charter School has now entered into contract with the Alabama Public Charter School Commission with a pre-k through 8th opening grade structure. At the charter signing ceremony, held Thursday, Oct. 23, in UWA’s Tutwiler Conference Center, school leaders and the Alabama Public Charter School Commission signed the contract outlining a final plan for opening, enrollment, and development of the school.

A standing room only crowd gathered in support of the charter signing. APCSC was represented by Chairman Mac Buttram and Logan Searcy. UWA President Ken Tucker offered support on behalf of the University of West Alabama, and UCS Board President Micky Smith thanked all in attendance for the continued support shown to the effort.

Buttram commended the community and school organizers for the work that has been done thus far to establish the school and provide opportunity and choice to students. He also recognized UWA for offering leadership in the application process, referencing the University’s long history of providing teacher education to the region.

“I hope some other universities will look at what UWA has done and follow their lead,” Buttram said, referencing several other higher education institutions that were once teacher colleges, like UWA.

Opening in August of 2018, the school will serve grades pre-k through eight and will add one grade per year to reach grade 12 by the 2022-23 academic year. The finalized contract is a framework that has evolved to accommodate the needs and interests expressed by the community, including grade structure and enrollment eligibility.

“We are excited to solidify plans for University Charter School and begin the process of registering and enrolling students for the 2018-19 school year,” said Head of School Dr. J.J. Wedgworth. “We believe we have a strong plan for moving forward and for meeting the needs and interests of the community as determined through the interest surveys we have collected.”

Wedgworth explained that the school was first expected to open for pre-k through 5th grade, but an interest inventory conducted throughout the community following the school’s application approval showed the need for additional grades. She said that the Commission allowed flexibility if plans could be backed by significant research.

“The goal is for UCS to provide an educational option to as many of the children in our region as practically possible,” Wedgworth said. “Based on the results of our recently-conducted interest survey, the practical grade structure based on enrollment interest is pre-k through 8th grade. Although we originally planned to open with a pre-k through 5th grade structure adding the remaining upper grades in Year 2, we saw an opportunity based on survey results to expand the opening grade structure and provide an educational option to more children in Year 1.”

Capacity for the first year is set at 350 students. Enrollment will include three phases: pre-registration, seat offering and acceptance, and final registration.

Pre-registration for kindergarten through 8th grade will begin Nov. 15, 2017, for students residing in Sumter County. With pre-registration for Sumter County residents concluding on December 13, if the number of Sumter County pre-registrants exceeds the facility’s capacity, a lottery for Sumter County residents will be held on Dec. 14.  If pre-registration does not exceed capacity, this lottery will not be necessary, and students will be offered available seats on a first-come, first-served basis.

A second pre-registration period will be held for students who do not live in Sumter County, including Mississippi residents who live within 15 miles of the Sumter County line or whose guardian works in Sumter County. These students can pre-register for kindergarten through 8th grade beginning January 3, 2018, through January 31, 2018. If the number of pre-registrants exceeds space remaining after Sumter County registration, a lottery for non-Sumter residents will be held on Feb. 1, 2018. If the number does not exceed availability, this lottery will not be necessary, and students will be offered available seats on a first-come, first-served basis.

Pre-kindergarten will be open to students who will turn four years old on or before Sept. 1, 2018. Enrollment for pre-kindergarten will be announced at a later date, as directed by the Office of School Readiness policies and procedures for First Class Pre-K Classrooms.

“UCS will continue pre-registration until all seats are filled or until we feel that we have reached a sustainable founding class size,” Wedgworth explained.

Following pre-registrations and any lottery drawings that may be necessary, parents and students will receive letters from UCS with an offer for a seat in the grade in which they pre-registered. Parents must then accept or decline the seat in that grade in order to move into the final registration process. Following acceptance of a seat offer, the seat is held for the student, and the student’s more detailed application will be completed for enrollment.

“For all three phases of enrollment—pre-registration, seat offering and acceptance, and final registration—UCS will utilize SchoolMint, which is a mobile and cloud-based student enrollment platform,” Wedgworth said. “We believe this system is a good fit for our needs, and it’s easy to use. I encourage all students and their families to set up a profile now on SchoolMint to become familiar with the platform and to be prepared for the opening of pre-registration.”

Beginning November 15, the pre-registration application will be available to families residing in Sumter County, but parents can access UCS’s SchoolMint platform now to create an account at https:// universitycharterschool.

Anyone who would like assistance or has limited access to a computer, mobile device, or internet can participate in one of six on-site pre-registration sessions, three for each pre-registration period. For Sumter County resident pre-registration, the sessions are scheduled for Nov. 20, Dec. 4, and Dec. 13. For non-Sumter County resident pre-registration, the sessions are scheduled for Jan. 4, Jan. 15, and Jan. 30. All sessions will be open from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., held in Lyon Hall Room A136.

UCS will be housed temporarily in Lyon Hall, which is home to the University of West Alabama’s Julia S. Tutwiler College of Education.

“Plans are already being made for constructing a standalone, independent facility for University Charter School,” Wedgworth said. “As the school grows and develops, a new facility will be built to reflect the school’s needs and offerings. This will be built in a different area on campus already designated to University Charter School. We look forward to matching the innovative school plan with a facility that will house its many offerings and accommodate a growing student body.”

University Charter School is the result of an innovative collaboration between UWA and its surrounding community. A rural, regional public institution of higher education, UWA, in fulfillment of its mission to “improve the region through education and outreach” fostered the development of UCS as a solution to some of the unique challenges facing rural public education in the Black Belt region.

By partnering with UWA, UCS will open with the support of an experienced board of directors, well-trained teachers and staff, and proven systems to implement the innovative educational model. The University partnership will bring to UCS relationships within the education and philanthropic communities and experience in the design, implementation, and support of staff from the Julia S. Tutwiler College of Education that are formally trained in rural education.

“University Charter School was designed with input from and support of the community to meet the needs and desires of the community and this will continue to be the priority for the school,” Wedgworth said.

To learn more about University Charter School, call 205-652-5459 or visit www.universitycharterschool. org. Further information on enrollment, employment, and other operations of the school will be announced as it continues to be developed.

State Attorney General addresses Demopolis Rotary

Mayor John Laney, Attorney General Steve Marshall and Demopolis Police Department Chief Tommie Reese.

Alabama ranks No. 1 in the country for the number of prescriptions written per capita for opioids state Attorney General Steve Marshall told the Demopolis Rotary Club Wednesday.

Opioid use is one of the most pressing issues facing the nation today, he said. Some 147 people die daily from opioid overdose, more fatalities in three weeks than died in the 9/11 disaster.

Marshall said he is among those appointed by Gov. Kay Ivey to a task force to determine what actions can be taken to stem the use of addictive prescription drugs, what he said is more a public health issue than one of law enforcement. He is firmly convinced of the need to actively take steps to solve the problem rather than just talking and studying the issue.

He referred to previous success in curtailing meth labs in the state. Because of steps taken, the number of meth labs plummeted 90 percent in just five years.

Law enforcement officers are becoming mental health professionals today, Marshall continued, and jails are more often than not turned into detox facilities. He said the country has to get over the stigma of seeking help for mental health issues.

Former Gov. Robert Bentley appointed Marshall to become Alabama’s attorney general to finish out the term vacated by Luther Strange, the former AG, who Bentley appointed to the U.S. Senate. Marshall said he already had been planning to run for the post and is expected to campaign for the job in the next regular election.

The attorney general post is the last state elected job he will strive for, he promised. “I don’t want to be your governor. I don’t want to be your senator,” he told Rotarians.

When he took the AG post, Marshall asked people what they expected of him.

“Don’t embarrass us,” was the response he got most, which he said was very sad.

“We should be held to a higher standard,” he stated.

Calling himself a storyteller, Marshall related three cases he tried in which he learned lessons that have stayed with him since his start in Marshall County. The first concerned a young woman who was an addict and drug dealer murdered by an irate client. While the prevailing attitude was that the community was better off with one less dealer, Marshall treated her case the same as any other, and the murderer received a 108-year sentence.

The woman’s mother said her daughter had made some bad mistakes in her life, but her murder “took away her chance to change.”

Through his actions, he said, the community began to see law enforcement in a new way. Distrustful residents began to cooperate with police officers. “We saw a safer place.”

The second case saw Marshall prosecuting a respected police officer who offered to make tickets or arrests disappear if certain women he cited would do him a favor. His accusers were a stripper, drug addict, thief and body piercer, none of whom ordinarily would gain sympathy from a jury.

“I have a responsibility to enforce the law,” said Marshall. “I did the right thing for the right reason,” and the officer is serving jail time.

Every day we get to change lives, he said, as he told a third story. A 12-year-old girl testified against her step-grandfather for sexual abuse, which he denied. After the man’s conviction, the young girl looked into Marshall’s eyes for the first time and thanked him for believing in her when no one else would.

Among those attending the Rotary meeting were three Demopolis police officers, including Marshall’s good friend Chief Tommie Reese. When Marshall was asked if law enforcement is as well respected around the state as the officers are in Demopolis, the AG said, “I don’t know of anyone more respected than Tommie Reese.”

Smaller communities have a kinship that can be lacking in larger cities, Marshall continued, and added he is willing “to work with those who are willing to risk their lives for total strangers.”

Sweet Water plunders Pirates for perfect Region 1 record

Sweet Water put it away early Friday, scoring four first-quarter touchdowns on the way to a 63-0 win over Fruitdale. Jacory Brown scored on a pair of 7-yard touchdown runs before Shamar Lewis got in on the fun with a 30-yard scoring run. Jaylon Williamson added a 38-yard touchdown sprint to put the Bulldogs up 26-0 after one quarter of play.

Sasha Smith returned an interception for a touchdown early in the second quarter. The onslaught continued with a 46-yard Lewis touchdown run before Jaland Lewis-Horton ran it in from 35 yards out for a 47-0 halftime lead.

Walker Thompson added a 2-yard touchdown run and Devonte Blanks a 4-yard scoring plunge in the fourth quarter.

The Bulldogs outgained the Pirated 412-43. Smith and JahDarius McIntosh each picked off a pass for the Sweet Water defense.

Sweet Water (7-1, 7-0) wraps up a perfect run through Class 1A, Region 1. The Bulldogs travel to New Brockton next week to cap the regular season.

Demopolis skunks Jemison to wrap Region 3 play

10-27-17 — Demopolis, Ala. — Demopolis RB A.J. Jackson stretches for the Tigers’ first touchdown of the night against Jemison.

Demopolis wrapped up an unbeaten Class 5A, Region 3 schedule Friday with a 48-7 victory over Jemison. The win marked the 26th consecutive region victory for Demopolis.

10-27-17 — Demopolis, Ala. — Demopolis’ Derrick Birl breaks up a pass against Jemison.

“I think that was the goal for all the kids. You definitely want to be the No. 1 seed and have the ability to host a first round playoff game, but I’m definitely glad for those seniors to be able to go unbeaten in region,” Demopolis coach Brian Seymore said.

Deompolis hung 20 points on the board in the first quarter of play. A.J. Jackson scored on a 12-yard touchdown run with 8:34 to go in the first quarter. Antonio Besteder later ran for an 8-yard score to stretch the lead to 13-0. On the final play of the opening quarter, Jackson ran for an 88-yard touchdown and moved the lead to 20-0.

DeDe Davis caught an 83-yard touchdown pass in the second before Besteder added a 24-yard scoring run. The Tigers led 34-0 at half.

Brandon Simmons turned a jailbreak screen into a 46-yard touchdown pass in the third. Davis added a 19-yard touchdown run to cap the Demopolis scoring and move the lead to 48-0.

Adrian Jackson scored on a 16-yard run with 3:01 left in the game to set the final margin.

Demopolis amassed 512 yards of total offense in the game. Jackson rushed 11 times for 164 yards. Besteder ran for 100 yards on 15 carries. Davis had 134 yards from scrimmage.

10-27-17 — Demopolis, Ala. — Demopolis’ Demetrius Davis breaks free on an 83-yard touchdown run against Jemison.

Jackson defeated Citronelle 31-0 in Class 5A, Region 1 Friday, setting Demopolis up with a first round playoff matchup against Williamson, who finishes as the No. 4 seed in Region 1.

“You always look a little further down the road for possible playoff matchups. I think that’s our mindset for our players and our coaches,” Seymore, whose team travels to Class 7A Auburn next week. “Williamson will be a very athletic team. Dedric Sumter is the head football coach there and he has done a tremendous job there. They have a lot of skilled athletes and they are very multiple on both sides of the ball. They’re very good on defense and they play an attacking style. I think our kids will be prepared and it’s a great opportunity for our program. We’ll put our focus on Auburn and look at that in a couple of weeks. The Auburn game has the opportunity to give us that same kind of atmosphere.”

10-27-17 — Demopolis, Ala. — Demopolis RB Antonio Besteder breaks free for a touchdown run against Jemison.

Marengo High dusts McIntosh for final Region 1 win

Marengo wrapped up Class 1A, Region 1 play Thursday night with a 52-0 road victory over McIntosh. The Panthers featured a balanced attack that saw six different offensive players score touchdowns in the game.

Calvin Ferguson rushed for 52 yards and a touchdown on only three carries. Phelix Hosea had a 10-yard touchdown run. Deldrick Bouler ran for 54 yards and two touchdowns on five rushes. Quindaris Ausbon completed 3 of 4 passes for 71 yards and three touchdowns. Curtis Autery caught a 10-yard touchdown pass. De’Angelos Crispin hauled in a 23-yard touchdown while Roosevelt Thompson caught a 30-yard scoring strike. Alphonzo Lewis ran for 40 yards on his lone carry.

Sophomore lineman Ronald Bouler shined on the defensive side of the ball, running roughshod over the Demon offensive line. Bouler finished with 10 tackles including four for loss, two sacks, a safety and a blocked punt.

Kevian Cade had five tackles including two for a loss. Daryl McItonsh had five tackles. Thompson had four tackles. Deldrick Bouler and Phillip Hosea each intercepted a pass.

Marengo (5-3, 4-2) is set to host Class 2A Southern Choctaw next Friday.

Oliver George Smith

Smith. (WAW | Contributed)

Oliver George (Papa) Smith of Providence, passed away October 22, 2017.

He was preceded in death by his wife of 39 years, Mary Jane Smith, parents, Gladys and O.B. (Tom) Smith, sister, Virginia Skinner, daughters, Jan Smith and Sheila Hinson, and son, Ben Smith.

Mr. Smith was born on August 22, 1936, in Half Acre, Alabama. He worked at Gulf States Paper and retired from Borden Chemical Corporation. Earlier in life, he worked as a mechanic at the local car dealership in Linden before joining the Army. While serving our country, he received the Medal of Commendation; the highest peacetime medal of that time.

His parents brought their family to a farm on the Chickasaw Bogue north of Linden in 1949. Mrs. Smith later raised his own children and resided there until his passing. He attended both Providence Baptist Church and Beaver Creek Baptist Church.

He is survived by his children: Sandra Reaves (Randy), Karen Fleming (Randy), Pam Smith, Charles Turner (Tanya), Angelia Osburn (Jerry), and Christopher Smith (Linda), as well as his younger sister, Betty Jean Hurst, also of Providence. His legacy includes his much beloved 9 grandchildren, 9 great grandchildren, nieces, nephews, great and great-great nieces and nephews.

Pallbearers will be nephews, Jim Skinner, Bill Skinner, Steven Skinner, Lee Gibson, and grandsons, Luke Barley and Corey Smith.

Visitation will be held at O’Bryant Chapel Funeral Home on Tuesday, October 24, 2017 from 5 to 7 pm. Funeral services will be held at O’Bryant Chapel Funeral Home on Wednesday, October 25, 2017 at 2:00 pm with Rev. David Stidham officiating. Burial will follow at Demopolis Memorial Gardens in Demopolis, AL.

Arrangements by O’Bryant Chapel Funeral Home in Linden, AL.

GP donates $1,000 to DMS Robotics

Members of the Demopolis robotics team receive a check of $1,000 from Georgia Pacific. The DMS Robotics team is coached by Trey Smith.