Archives for December 2017

Commission takes first step to approve new voter registration system

Bob Dooley of Keet Consulting Services addresses the Marengo County Commission in its Tuesday meeting. (WAW | Jan McDonald)

Marengo County commissioners Tuesday took the first step to approve a new system of voter registration services.

Bob Dooley with Keet Consulting Services in Pelham explained how KCS would gather all of the Marengo County data on voters and information on the precincts for house, senate, commission, council and city precincts.

Such information on their software would eliminate the Marengo County Board of Registrations having to spend months updating records when KCS could do it in 24 to 36 hours, said Dooley.

He told the Commission the one-time start-up fee for the service is $7,500 for the size of Marengo County, with a $500-per-month maintenance fee. There would be no contract.

If the county chose to forgo the start-up cost, the county would be charged $675 per month.

Board of Registrars member Barry Hunt told commissioners that “It’s taking a long time” to update all the county records using paper maps and spreadsheets. Bringing KCS on board “would certainly help us.”

Commissioner Freddie Armstead challenged the company to lower its start-up fee. At the end of the Commission meeting, and after KCS representatives had left, members voted to accept KCS’s proposal if Chairman John Crawford can negotiate a price reduction either for the start-up fee or the monthly charge.

The county approved a resolution for the redemption of Bonds for Series 2011-B Warrants taken out for the renovation of the courthouse and the annex. The move was made because for the first time the county can pay more than the minimum on the bonds, which now are set to mature in 2034.

Traffic from overloaded trucks is causing undue wear and tear on County Road 1. Commissioners voted to prohibit trucks weighing more than 25 tons from using the road and to post signs to that effect. Any company shown violating the restrictions would be fined a bill for repair.

The Town of Sweet Water will have a speed bump installed in front of the school subject to a formal request by the city. The town will purchase the speed bump for a cost of about $400, said county engineer Ken Atkins, and county workers can install it and put up signage.

Commissioner Calvin Martin asked if there were any way the county could finish paving roads that are now only

Justin Coleman was recognized for his completion of the Alabama Jail Training Academy. (WAW | Jan McDonald)

partially paved. “That’s something that we as commissioners need to look at,” said Martin.

Armstead said ADECA won’t honor a request to lump all the roads together in a grant, but the county could float a bond issue to pay for it.

Atkins agreed, adding that the cost of paving one mile of road is about $350,000. Funding sources for roads haven’t changed since 1992, he added.

In other action, the Commission will look into replacing the uncomfortable wooden chairs in the small courtroom.

Ricky Hall and Carolyn Rogers were reappointed to the E911 Board from Districts 3 and 5 respectively. Armstead will make his recommendation for District 1 at the January meeting.

Commissioners recognized Corrections Officer Justin Coleman for completing the Alabama Jail Training Academy.

Tears and Laughter: What makes a good day good? 

We tell people all of the time to “have a good day.” I tend say have an “easy” day. Some people carry it so far as to say “have a great day,” but…I guess that is where I draw the line.  

It is a positive practice to be grateful for all days. Relish every hour you can because it’s all so very temporary, but even with the mindset of gratitude – not all days are great. 

With any luck and careful planning, most days are good. But some will be bad. Some will be awful. Some…you will literally just have to survive. You just have to live through them. 

It is often the bad days that help us recognize the goodness in ordinary days. If you are relatively healthy, not grieving the loss of anyone, and nobody close to you is in pain or suffering – it’s the start of a good day. Time teaches that to everyone. 

And sometimes, when you aren’t planning it and when you are least expecting it, a really great day happens. 

I had one of those days Monday. 

Once a year, for just over 20 years now, a couple of friends and I go Christmas shopping. We pick a city and a date, and we plan the thing all year. We send each other reminders for months in advance and do a countdown waiting for it to arrive.  

On that day, we always leave earlier than any of us are used to functioning, so nobody has enough coffee, sleep, or mascara. That is part of the fun, and so is the drive. We claim we have shopped the full radius around us, including so far south we could practically see saltwater.  

This year it was narrowed down to the Galleria, or Prattville. After much deliberation, Prattville won out because it is closer and we can take backroads the entire way. 

So Monday by noon we had blown through several stores, a flea market, and a few sips of Sangria. It had been so cold at the flea market that two of us began to experience the first stages of hyperthermia. There were still patches of snow everywhere. Our other friend said she would normally have been cold too, but due to hot flashes, she was comfortable. We had walked through old memories and talked our way back again. 

It was at one of our last stops for the day. The afternoon was ticking too quickly along, and I was making final decisions at the jewelry counter when out of nowhere a familiar voice behind me said, “Hey, your mom is in here somewhere.” 

It was my stepdad and he was motioning towards where she was when I saw her. She was just standing there, her back was to me. Sunlight was pouring through the overhead windows around her. 

They live far on the east side of Montgomery. It is not unusual for us to have our own day together, especially now that she is retired and my kids are older. But it was unusual for us to meet in such an unexpected way and place. It struck me later how lucky I was to have had such a simple experience.  

That was my final thought that night after the day was done and the trip complete. Not all days are great and are ever perfect. But every once in a while, like snow in South Alabama, they happen…and those are the ones we treasure forever.

Amanda Walker is a blogger and contributor with AL.com, The Thomasville Times, West Alabama Watchman, and Wilcox Progressive Era. Contact her at walkerworld77@msn.com or athttps://www.facebook.com/AmandaWalker.Columnist

DECA drive contributes 300 coats

Pictured are Holiday Cleaners employees with DECA members, Courtney Roberts and Brionna Howerton.

Demopolis High School DECA launched their “DECA is Driven” Coat Drive Campaign during the month of November to help make this Christmas season warmer for children and families in Marengo County. Coats and monetary donations were collected from classes at Demopolis High School and U.S. Jones Elementary.

The classes held a friendly competition to see who could win a wing party catered by Batter Up! Several local businesses also had donation jars to help the cause. ​This year’s coat drive was a huge success with 303 coats, nine stuffed animal toys, and $225.82 in donations! Donations were delivered to Marengo County DHR. The donated jackets and stuffed animals were generously cleaned and mended by the staff at Holiday Cleaners.

Linden girls, Demopolis boys win Saturday

Demopolis and Linden split the varsity portions of their basketball rendezvous Saturday night.

The Lady Patriots did most of their damage in the first half and held on for a 45-43 win over Demopolis. Linden outscored Demopolis 14-10 in the first quarter and 15-12 in the second to hold a 29-22 hafltime lead.

The Demopolis defense kicked in during the second half, limiting Linden to 16 points in the final 16 minutes of play.

A pair of Shacorie Cockrell threes in the fourth quarter narrowed the gap and gave the Lady Tigers a chance in the end but Linden proved too much.

Linden senior Amber Richardson led all scorers with 22. Precious Rogers had 10 points while Tyroneisha Charleston scored nine.

Shakesaney Bell paced Demopolis with 22 points. Cockrell finished with 12.

The win puts Linden at 2-0. Demopolis drops to 2-2.

Demopolis rode a 25-point second quarter to a 68-53 win in the varsity boys game.

Tiger senior Melvin Childers led all scorers with 21 points. Nelson Haskin added 10 points while Michael Spencer and Shakari Wiliams each finished with nine.

Graderius Brown made six threes in a 20-point performance to lead Linden. Isaiah Scott and Zackree Bishop each had nine points for the Patriots.

Linden drops to 1-1 with the loss. Demopolis moves to 5-1 with the win.

Demopolis travels to Francis Marion Tuesday while Linden goes to Thomasville.

Marengo varsity teams sweep Thomasville

Marengo High opened its basketball season Thursday night with a pair of varsity wins over Thomasville.

The Lady Panthers downed their Tiger counterparts 42-39 behind a trio of double-doubles. J’Mya Hall finished with 12 points and 13 rebounds. Scottianna Harris had 12 points and 12 rebounds. Angela Bouler notched 10 points and 11 rebounds. Tiyanna Blanks led the Lady Panthers with 14 points.

The varsity boys game saw Marengo pull out a 49-43 win. Keshawn Fountain led the way with 19 points and seven rebounds. Roosevelt Thompson had 14 points. Dominique Harris finished with 10 points. Braxton Williams paced Thomasville with 18 points.

Sweet As Ever: Bulldogs grab first state title since 2010

12-7-17 — Tuscaloosa, Ala. — Sweet Water’s Jacory Brown cuts through a gaping hole in the Pickens County defense during the Bulldogs’ AHSAA Class 1A State Championship win over the Tornadoes.

TUSCALOOSA – Sweet Water reclaimed its once-familiar place atop Class 1A Thursday night with a 20-6 state championship game win over Pickens County. The Bulldogs utilized their trademark bludgeoning ground game and ball-hawking defense to walk away with the 10th state championship in school history.

“It’s just a super effort on our guys’ part. I couldn’t be more proud of a group of guys that come to work every day. I’ve said the last couple weeks how resilient they are,” Sweet Water head coach Pat Thompson said. “We’ve been behind in our last few playoff games. These guys just keep fighting and I couldn’t be more proud of a group of guys.”

The pivotal moment of the contest came with a little more than eight minutes to play. Pickens appeared poised to tie the game, trailing 14-6 with 8:28 left and the ball at the Bulldog 23. AlJaron Edwards danced around and through the Sweet Water pass rush for a 25-yard completion to Jacaurian Washington earlier in the the drive. Edwards looked to recreate that magic when Jacory Brown popped him and jarred the ball free. Shamar Lewis fielded the bouncing oblong and returned it 64 yards for his second scoop-and-score in the last two rounds of the state playoffs.

12-7-17 — Tuscaloosa, Ala. — Sweet Water’s Jaylon Williamson races toward the end zone during the Bulldogs’ AHSAA Class 1A State Championship win over the Pickens County Tornadoes.

“Nothing but green. Touchdown,” Lewis said of what he saw when he gained possession of the ball.

“That’s a huge play. I saw the ball come loose and it just so happened our best football player was waiting for it to bounce up to him so he could take it in. He’s been around the ball all year long,” Thompson said of Lewis, who has finishes the season with three defensive touchdowns. “We got great pressure.”

The play moved the Sweet Water lead to 20-6 with 7:55 to play.

Pickens backup quarterback Clifford Morton came off the bench after Edwards was injured on the previous snap. Morton quickly went 3 of 4 passing for 59 yards before Sweet Water jarred the ball loose from a Tornado receiver and it fortuitously bounced into the arms of Luke Davis for the fumble recovery to all but seal the game with just over five minutes to play.

Sweet Water moved the lead to 14-3 with 7:12 to go in the third quarter when Jaylon Williamson punched it in from three yards out to punctuate the 11-play, 68-yard march that opened the second half of play.

12-7-17 — Tuscaloosa, Ala. — Sweet Water’s Chance Broussard (48), De’Shawnterion Blanks (52) and Kaleb Greene (13) take down Pickens County’s Ta’Darien McIntosh during the Bulldogs’ AHSAA Class 1A State Championship win over the Tornadoes.

After pounding the ball deep into Tornado territory on each of its first half possessions, Sweet Water cashed in and wrested control of the game on a 2-yard touchdown plunge by Brown with two minutes remaining in the second quarter. The drive lasted 10 plays and covered 60 yards.

With the 7-3 lead, the Sweet Water defense held despite a flurry from Pickens as Jonah Smith intercepted a pass at the Bulldog 2 in the closing seconds of the second quarter to preserve the advantage.

“It’s just a super effort on our guys’ part. I couldn’t be more proud of a group of guys that come to work every day,” Thompson said. “I’ve said the last couple weeks how resilient they are. We’ve been behind in our last few playoff games. These guys just keep fighting and I couldn’t be more proud of a group of guys.”

Pickens took a 3-0 lead with a 26-yard field goal from Jermaine Hill with 5:40 left in the half. The Tornadoes’ final points came on a Hill field goal from 28 yards out with 4:10 left in the third.

The state championship is the first for Sweet Water since 2010 when Thompson was the defensive coordinator. Thompson earned state titles as the Sweet Water DC in 2007, 2008 and 2010.

12-7-17 — Tuscaloosa, Ala. — Sweet Water’s Shamar Lewis runs in the open field during the Bulldogs’ AHSAA Class 1A State Championship win over the Pickens County Tornadoes.

“It’s unreal to be the head coach of these guys. I’ve been in on three at Sweet Water,” Thompson said. “I never realized what (Coach Stacy) Luker went through getting us ready for that. It has been a crazy week. But these guys stayed focused”

Brown led all rushers with 103 yards on 25 carries. Williamson finished with 95 yards on 12 carries. Lewis had 95 yards 16 rushes. Jah’Darius McIntosh led the team with 10 tackles. Luke Davis recovered a fumble in the game.

The state championship is the second of the 2017 calendar year for Sweet Water, which saw its baseball team bring home the Class 1A crown in dramatic fashion in May. The two accomplishments were not disconnected according to Smith, the Bulldogs quarterback and MVP of the 1A baseball series.

“I think it had a ton (of impact). It helped us a lot,” Smith said. “It helped us know that it’s going to be a big stage, a lot of people are going to be there. Just stay calm.”

Lewis earned Most Valuable Player honors Thursday night with 95 yards rushing, a fumble return touchdown and an interception, the 28th Bulldog INT of the season. Sweet Water finished the year with 41 forced turnovers on defense.

12-7-17 — Tuscaloosa, Ala. — Sweet Water’s Jacory Brown strip sacks Pickens County’s AlJaron Edwards during the Bulldogs’ AHSAA Class 1A State Championship win over the Tornadoes. Shamar Lewis would pick up the fumble and run it in for the Bulldogs’ final touchdown of the game.

DHS DECA leads entrepreneurship program for DMS students

For the second year in a row, Demopolis High School DECA conducted a course on entrepreneurship for the students who participate in the Demopolis Middle School After School Program.

This year, DHS DECA named the program, “Who’s the Boss?”. “Who’s the Boss?” was a seven week program that taught sixth, seventh, and eighth graders the basics of entrepreneurship.

During the seven weeks, students had the opportunity to create a service that would benefit the community. While learning how to run their businesses effectively, they also developed skills on how to make a commercial to advertise their businesses.

The finale for this event took place during DECA’s Global Entrepreneurship Week on Wednesday, November 15, 2017. For the finale of “Who’s the Boss?”, students presented their businesses and commercials to a panel of judges which consisted of local entrepreneurs, Kirk Brooker, Sinda Fendley, and Ashley Coplin.

Upon conclusion of the presentations and the scores were tallied, the group with the highest score was presented with gift cards that were donated by Naheola Credit Union and all groups were recognized for their accomplishments.  A reception was held for all of the participants and their families that were in attendance.

Tears and Laughter: There is something about a small town Christmas parade 

The Thomasville Christmas parade was this week. We went. We almost always do. It’s tradition. We will go and stand in the middle of a closed-off Wilson Avenue with people we will recognize and know but haven’t seen in years.  

Together we will wait for the heavily adorned floats and firetrucks. Trinkets and beads and candy will rain down around us. We will feel the drums from the approaching marching bands. It all moves quickly forward, yet I like many, drift back in time. 

The sidewalks are very familiar to me in downtown Thomasville. They serve as a portal to what used to be. Part of the parade route was the way I walked every afternoon when I was in elementary school. I would walk downtown to where my dad’s truck would be parked at the old city hall on Wilson Avenue. He would get off from work with the city at 3:30. 

Every day there would be several of us walking together when we left the school, but before we made it to the bank at the corner of Alabama Avenue, everyone would have scattered, turning off on the streets they lived on. 

Sometimes, if I had saved enough break money, I would stop by Spink’s Drugstore and buy pretzels. Other times I would walk on down to the Dollar General and speak to Ms. Kat, the manager. It was still on West Front Street back then, diagonally across from Zeke’s Service Station. 

I used to love being downtown during Christmastime, especially on cloudy days. I’m sure it was just the colorful lights and the reflecting tinsel, but I always thought the spirit seemed especially bright when it was cloudy. I still tend to feel that way. 

For a game, we would try and avoid the cracks in the sidewalks. Over time, the repetition committed to memory the cracks, the streets, the houses, buildings, and storefronts. We knew the shortcuts, which buildings to cut behind to come out where we needed to be.  

The Christmas Parade used to be on a Thursday afternoon, shortly after school was out. That day, was the only day the sidewalks would be brimming with people. Everybody’s mama would be there, some of them trying to keep the little brothers and sisters we never saw while we were in school out of the street. 

Several dads would be helping drive the floats and keep everything and everyone moving forward in an orderly fashion. Grandparents would be there too, including my own from both sides of the family.  

I can’t remember when the parade moved from Thursday afternoon to Saturday before evolving into an evening event that includes a downtown stroll. It has been a nice change. It allows for more mingling…and shopping at downtown businesses. 

But every year, when we all line up shoulder-to-shoulder on Wilson Avenue waiting, it’s just like they are there again. At moments, their energy feels as strong as the beat of the drums in the band. 

I guess that is why most all small towns have a Christmas parade. They allow for memories and feelings and festive walks back down the sidewalks of time.

Amanda Walker is a blogger and contributor with AL.com, The Thomasville Times, West Alabama Watchman, and Wilcox Progressive Era. Contact her at walkerworld77@msn.com or athttps://www.facebook.com/AmandaWalker.Columnist

UWA to recognize nearly 700 graduates on Dec. 9

LIVINGSTON, Ala.—The University of West Alabama will honor nearly 700 graduates during fall commencement exercises Saturday, Dec. 9. The undergraduate ceremony begins at 10 a.m. in Pruitt Gymnasium on the UWA campus. The graduate ceremony will begin at 1:30 p.m., also at Pruitt Gymnasium. Presidential Receptions will be held prior to each ceremony and are open to all graduates and their guests at 8 a.m. and noon in the Bell Conference Center.

Guests must have tickets, which are available from the graduates, to attend each ceremony in Pruitt Gymnasium. Overflow seating to watch the commencement exercises will be available in Bibb Graves Auditorium. Ceremonies will also be streamed live online at www.uwa.edu/live.

The University will confer degrees in the colleges of liberal arts, natural sciences and mathematics, business, and education during the morning ceremony, and the school of graduate studies during the afternoon ceremony.

The University will recognize students graduating from the UWA Honors Program and those graduating with honors. There will also be special recognition for the faculty recipients of the Nellie McCrory Service Excellence Award, the McIlwain Bell Trustee Professor Award and the William E. Gilbert Award for Outstanding Teaching.

The University will also induct four individuals into the Society of the Golden Key, a prestigious organization established to honor University alumni, faculty, and staff who have brought distinction to their alma mater through exceptional service in their fields. The four inductees are John D. Crawford of Valdosta, Ga., Amelia Hawkins Mackey of Demopolis, Ala., James W. Brown of Montgomery, Ala., and Tim Mansour of Loganville, Ga.

Director of Choral Activities Christopher Shelt will lead the UWA Choirs in a special performance honoring graduates. Livingston United Methodist Church minister Steve Spining will give the invocation and benediction.

For more information on UWA Commencement Exercises, contact Dr. Tina N. Jones, commencement chairperson, at tnj@uwa.edu or 205-652-3833.

Demopolis Singers Present “Christmas In our Home Town”

The Demopolis Singers will present the “Christmas in our Home Town” on Thursday, Dec. 7 at First Baptist Church of Demopolis. The community is invited to attend.