Archives for January 2018

WINTER WEATHER: Closures for Wednesday, Jan. 17

Demopolis City Schools
Linden City Schools
Marengo County Schools
Marengo Academy
Patrician Academy
Little Horns Daycare
First Baptist Church WEE School (Demopolis)
Tender Years
Funtastic Tots Learning Center
West Alabama Christian School and Daycare
Bright Beginnings Daycare
Kids World Learning Center
Marengo County Courthouse
Demopolis Public Library

Marengo, Linden, Demopolis schools closed Wednesday

With a winter storm system settling in over much of the state Tuesday afternoon and an expectation of icy roads and frigid temperatures well into Wednesday, school systems are again facing decisions regarding hours of operation. The first local system to declare its schedule for Wednesday is Marengo County, which will be closed.

“Due to high probability of bad weather for Marengo County, which includes icy roads and temperatures in the teens along with Governor Ivey’s declaration for a State of Emergency, there will be no school Wednesday for the Marengo County School system,” Superintendent Luke Hallmark told The Watchman via text message. “The school system will be open on Thursday.”

The decision follows suit with the Marengo County Courthouse, which will be also be closed Wednesday. Demopolis City Schools and Linden City Schools each confirmed their Wednesday closures as well at 3:05 p.m. Tuesday.

The West Alabama Watchman will update closings on its website, Twitter, and Facebook page as more information becomes available.

UWA closed Tuesday due to winter weather threat

Due to threatening winter weather conditions, the University of West Alabama be closed on Tuesday, Jan. 16. Day and evening classes will not meet, campus events for the day and evening are canceled, and administrative offices will be closed.

Campus dining facilities will close early at 2 p.m.

UWA faculty, staff, and students may receive emergency notifications by subscription via UWA Alerts, the University’s emergency alert system, at

WINTER WEATHER: Closings for Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018

We are posting school and business closings as soon as we are made aware. Please check back here and we’ll update any closings as they’re announced.
Demopolis City Schools
Linden City Schools
Marengo County Schools
Sumter County Schools
Perry County Schools
Hale County Schools
University of West Alabama
West Alabama Christian School & Daycare
Marengo Academy
Little Horns Daycare
Bright Beginnings
Tender Years
Tammy Tucker Daycare
Funtastic Tots Learning Center
Patrician Academy
MedCenter Demopolis
Demopolis Public Library
Shelton State
Robertson Banking Company closing at 11 a.m.
Naheola Credit Union closing at 11 a.m.
Trustmark Bank closing at 11:30 a.m.
Region Bank closing at noon
Marengo County Courthouse closing at 2 p.m.
Demopolis Animal Clinic closing at noon

Sumter sweeps Demopolis varsity squads in Area 7 tilts

Sumter 65, Demopolis 38

“All gas, no brake” adorned the front of Sumter-Central’s shooting shirts as they took to the floor for warmups in a highly anticipated Class 5A, Area 7 tilt with Demopolis Friday. When the ball tipped, Sumter lived up to its own frenetic billing en route to a 65-38 shellacking of the Tigers.

Sumter hung 10 points on the board before Demopolis got a three off the hand of Melvin Childers to attempt to stay the Jaguars. Unfazed and unflinching, Sumter continued to pour it on as it inflated the advantage to 17 points by halftime.

Demopolis connected on only five shots from the floor in the first half and shot a paltry 6 of 14 from the free throw line. Despite a strong start to the third quarter, virtually nothing improved for the Tigers in the second half.

Sumter used its pace and space offense to drive the lead into 20s before finally going up by 31 in the fourth quarter and triggering the running clock to mercifully shorten the game. Jacorey Turnipseed scored a game high 19 points to pace Sumter. Three other Jaguars finished in double figures as Desmond Ward had 15, Tyler Presswood finished with 13 and Greg Brunson scored 10.

Shakari Williams led Demopolis with 13 points.

The Tigers fall to 15-5 on the season. Sumter improves to 24-3.

Sumter 41, Demopolis 39

Jada Watkins rebounded a missed put back opportunity, set herself, took one power dribble and put the ball in for the go-ahead layup with 5.7 seconds to play Friday night. The Sumter forward’s calmness in the game’s biggest sequence proved enough to beat Demopolis and prevented a near collapse in the fourth quarter in which the Lady Jaguars blew an eight-point lead.

Demopolis whittled away at the Sumter advantage in the fourth quarter after trailing for the entirety of the contest. Freshman Shug Billingsley entered the game and dropped in a layup off a Shakesaney Bell pass to narrow the deficit to three. After a Sumter bucket, sophomore Dalaysia Benn sunk a pair of free throws to cut it to 39-36 with 41.7 seconds to the play.

Demopolis pulled the game even when Aniya Johnson knocked down a triple off a Bell bounce pass with 21 seconds remaining. Sumter missed a pair of open looks before Watkins seized control of the game.

The Lady Tigers would find one more look at the basket off a timeout with 4.4 seconds to play. The ill-fated shot would come nowhere close to the basket as Demopolis fell to 4-7 overall and 0-1 in Area 7 play. Sumter moves to 18-5 with the win.

Chardai Watkins led Sumter with 16 points and six rebounds. Jada Watkins finished with 13 points and seven rebounds. Shacorie Cockrell had 12 points for Demopolis. Johnson finished with 12 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Bell had 11 points, nine rebounds and four assists.

County commission considers jail maintenance bids

Under the gavel of newly installed chairman Calvin Martin, the Marengo Country Commission accepted the low bid for maintenance work on the jail but put restrictions on the proposal.

Southern Painting and Insulation bid $29,500 for the work but did not provide a bid bond. Neither did any of the other three bidders.

County Attorney W.W. Dinning said this is a service contract, not a purchase, and companies that provide such work don’t regularly bid on government jobs.

Commissioner Jason Windham questioned whether any of the companies recognized the repair work involved more than simply repainting the exterior. The job requires patching the walls with a product that can be difficult to find.

The commission accepted the low bid based on the assurance that the company provides a 10 percent bid bond and use the correct material for repair. If not, the next low bid will be approved.

The commission tabled until the next meeting a motion to close the west side of Country Road 33.
Property owners on the dirt road want it to be permanently vacated or have the county maintain it, said Commissioner John Crawford. It is an issue that has been going on for almost 30 years, he said.

Dinning told Crawford to get the names and addresses of the property owners, and he would take care of the paperwork.

The commission presented a resolution honoring Sweet Water High School football team for winning its class state championship.

Chairman Martin also congratulated other Marengo County teams for advancing to the playoffs

In other action the commission appointed Gloria Hayes Pritchett to the South Marengo County Water and Fire Protection Authority and Major Burrell to the E911 Board from District 1.

The Severe Weather Preparedness Tax Holiday was approved for Feb. 23-25.

The Marengo County Economic Development Authority director Chris Bontreger thanked the commission for its support during his first year in the position.

New sign goes up at BWWMH

Workers at Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital ready to put up the new sign denoting the facility’s affiliation with UAB.

U.S. Jones coding program earns CLAS Banner School distinction

U.S. Jones Elementary School now is recognized as ranking among the leaders in Alabama education.

The school has been named a CLAS Banner School by the Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools. Through a rigorous application process, USJ was one of 24 schools out of 107 applicants to receive the honor.  Three schools from each district were named. The other two from District 5 are Pike County High School and Booker T. Washington High School in Macon County.

“We’re out there as one of the leading schools in this age group,” said Leon Clark,principal. The program USJ submitted began as a desire to have students understand technology and give them a chance to become creators instead of consumers, said Amelia Mackey, the teacher who spearheaded the project.

It first was offered to extended day students, but seeing how quickly they caught on, administrators wanted to offer all USJ students the opportunity to learn coding.

Mackey attended a workshop in the summer of 2016 to be trained to code using robots and STEM activities.

With grant support from the Demopolis City Schools Foundation, USJ began a weekly Coding and Robotics class for all its students.

With further DCSF funding in January 2017, USJ was able to purchase ministries for fifth grade students.

“We could not be where we are without our school Foundation,” said Clark.

“It did not take long to see that our students were very motivated and catching on quickly and that there was a need to have a more scaffold program,” said Mackey.

At first the coding curriculum was the same for all grades. It now employs a model with fourth and fifth graders building on what they have learned.

“The atmosphere has changed for all of our students,” Mackey continued. “There is no pressure to perform or memorize a lot of information. This is a learning experience where the students are excited, motivated and eager to try new things.”

Mackey added that other results have been seen.

“Sensory learning, improved socialization, hands-on innovations and the level of rigor have all increased due to the introduction of the curriculum.”

On Feb. 26 the school will be making a presentation before educators using a one-minute video of the school and its project. USJ students will do the filming and provide the narration, said Clark. But the video also will highlight other activities, he said.

“We’ll be showing off all the good things going on.”

Authorities recover body of Sumter man following Dec. 27 crash

The body of an Emelle man killed in a single-vehicle crash Wednesday, Dec. 27, was recovered Saturday, Jan. 6. William Anthony Scott, 61, was killed when the 2002 Chevrolet Tahoe he was driving left the roadway, struck several trees and entered a pond.

The crash occurred at 4:05 a.m. on Alabama 39 near the 12 mile marker, approximately one mile north of the Sumter County line. Nothing further is available as Alabama State Troopers continue to investigate.

UWA to seek SACS approval for doctoral program in rural education

LIVINGSTON, Ala.—The University of West Alabama has announced plans for offering its first doctoral program in the near future. Pending approval from its accrediting body, UWA will soon offer through its Julia S. Tutwiler College of Education a unique Ed.D. in rural education.

The proposed program will offer two tracks to best meet the needs of educators. The teaching and learning track is designed for teacher leaders in a variety of settings, instructional coaches, directors, team leaders, and lead teachers. A track for organizational change and leadership is designed for curriculum leaders, instructional leaders in a variety of settings, directors, team leaders, lead teachers, higher education leaders, or leaders of non-profit organizations.

“ACHE’s approval of our Ed.D. in Rural Education is outstanding news for our university,” said UWA President Ken Tucker. “This innovative and unique doctoral program, the only one of its kind in the nation, has the potential of being a national model for other universities in rural environments.”

The University received approval from the Alabama Commission on Higher Education in early December, and the proposed degree program will go before the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) Commission on Colleges in the summer of 2018. Should SACS approve the proposed degree program, UWA will begin offering the Ed.D. in rural education in the fall of 2018.

“The entire UWA family is excited about our unique doctorate of education degree in rural education and are very thankful to the Alabama Commission on Higher Education for their support and approval,” Tucker said. “Pending SACS approval, this will be the first and only doctoral degree in our university’s history.”

The proposed program is geared toward working adults, with courses created in conjunction with partner schools in an effort to provide relevant experiences unique to rural education.

According to dean of the College, the proposed degree offering answers a growing demand from both within the UWA community and beyond.

“The demand from our current students and alumni for an advanced degree such as a doctoral program has been an ongoing request for the last several years,” explained Dr. Jan Miller, dean of education at UWA. “It is common practice for an advanced graduate student to want to continue his or her education. Our current students, alumni and prospective students have expressed their excitement about the opportunity to learn and to network with others throughout the state and the nation to improve rural education and rural communities.”

Miller said that the plan for an advanced degree in rural education has developed as part of the college’s commitment to meeting the region’s greatest needs with the unique tools and programs necessary.

“UWA’s Ed.D. in rural education is our response to a growing demand to educate highly qualified professionals trained in rural K-12 education and trained in better understanding the dynamics within rural communities,” Miller said. “Thriving rural communities need thriving rural schools.”

UWA’s commitment to rural education has continually grown over recent years, including the establishment of the Black Belt Teaching Corps, partnerships with the National Rural Education Association and the Rural Schools Collaborative, a position as the Alabama Affiliate for Rural Education, and a broad slate of programs and initiatives designed to equip rural educators. The college is a Teacher Quality Partnership grant recipient, awarded $3.3 million for training the region’s best educators.

“Dr. Jan Miller, dean of the College of Education and Online Programs, and Dr. B.J. Kimbrough, dean of Graduate Studies, were the primary architects of the proposal and deserve accolades on the excellent work they did,” Tucker said. “This degree, once approved by SACSCOC, will align nicely with that part of our mission which addresses rural education and rural economic and workforce development.”

UWA Provost Dr. Tim Edwards said that the program offering brings a new opportunity to the region and to the nation.

“This new doctoral program in rural education has transformative potential for this institution and this region,” Edwards said. “As our graduate dean, Dr. Kimbrough, says, ‘It’s a game changer.’ And it truly is. But really it’s just one more aspect of a larger transformational vision President Tucker has charged our university with realizing. Exciting times are ahead at UWA.”

For more information on UWA’s plans for offering an Ed.D. in rural education pending approval from SACS, please contact College of Education Dean Dr. Jan Miller at