New Demopolis football coach addresses Rotarians

Demopolis football fans will have to learn to keep up with Coach Brian Seymore’s rapid-fire speech.

In a talk before the Demopolis Rotary Club Wednesday, the new DHS football coach reintroduced himself to Demopolis – he served as an assistant under Coach Tom Causey for a year – but also told stories of his wife and three children, explained the core values he stresses for his players, told how he plans to ready the team for stiff competition and shared some of his strategies.

He also asked for help.

“Somebody find me a kicker,” he pleaded.

Seymore spent the 2007 season as the defensive coordinator of the Tigers before leaving to become the head coach at Andalusia for seven seasons. He has spent the last two seasons leading the Class 7A Mary Montgomery program in Mobile where he began the process of building up a “rock bottom” program.

It was his mentor and friend Causey who encouraged him to apply for the DHS job when it opened, and he and his family welcomed the idea of returning to Demopolis.

“I understand what people expect,” he told Rotarians.

Growing up in Sumter County, Seymore said he always wanted to study beyond the high school level. He enjoyed playing sports under excellent coaches, but his father, who was also a coach, discouraged him from following in his footsteps because of the pressure on family life.

Seymore, who went on to get an undergraduate degree from Auburn and his master’s from UWA agrees, but his wife Nicholas provides a strong foundation for him and their children: daughter Mary Taylor, a ninth grader; son Drew, in the seventh, and fourth-grade daughter, Maggie.

“I’ll be happy when everybody gets here,” he said. “They’ll be a big part of what I do here.”

The Tigers face a tough schedule this fall, “which it should be,” Seymore said. The new coach has definite plans to bring in new assistants and evaluate those that already are here.

“Every good program has a solid weight program,” he continued, and he will be stressing strength work especially for hips and core. He also will be pushing the team mentally to play through fatigue. “The fourth quarter is where you lose football games,” he explained.

Seymore shared the five core values he has posted in the weight room.

First, “You’ve got to earn everything,” he said. “I want our kids to be proud of what we’ve got.”

“Project positive energy” is the second value, he continued. “I come in every day. I’m jacked up,” and he wants his players to be just as positive as he.

Third, “Be honest and use good judgment,” he said. He told members that the first day on the job a student lied to him. That student is no longer with the program.

He also encourages his team to “compete daily.” Seymore is not a coach who believes in giving a trophy simply for participating. “Someone’s trying to beat you every day,” he shares with the players.

The fifth core value is to “Live up to the expectations.” DHS always has been in the top 10. “That’s awesome. That’s the expectation I have for myself,” and he expects every student to act like they are members of a top 5A program.

As for his playing philosophy, “We’ll spread it out a little bit,” he hinted. “We want to be physical.”

He plans on drilling the team on different options to be ready for any opportunity.

As for defense, “We’ll change depending on who we play,” said the coach.

“We’re going to take a lot of chances,” including fake punts or on-side kicks that his team was known for in Mobile.

He also added that no player is assured of a position. “At spring training everything’s up for grabs.”

Spring practice begins May 3, and the team has a Spring Jamboree game against Northridge on May 19.

There’s a new rooster in town

Shown with Col. Bridges are (from left) John Scales, Sheryl Cunningham, Barbara Blevins, Woody Collins, Rachel Walker and Lane Averett. (WAW | Jan McDonald)

When the big bird appeared on the scene, he caused a lot of open-mouthed stares, a grin or two and some outright chuckles.

The 22-foot rooster quickly has become one of the most photographed sights in Demopolis, with families posing children in front of him and friends posting his picture on social media.

Located at the corner of U.S. Hwy. 80 E and South Cedar Street, the rooster is the latest symbol of Rooster Day. The second annual event celebrating the infamous Rooster Auction in 1919 will be held April 8 in the Public Square.

The notion for the two-story bird began shortly after the inaugural Rooster Day in 2016. John Scales first thought of a large display, and he and Woody Collins knocked around some ideas.

At first they envisioned a lighted rooster on a metal frame, but when they consulted Barbara Blevins, director of the Demopolis Horticulture Department, “she told us what we needed to build,” said Scales.

Blevins, Collins and Scales became friends when the two men served on the Demopolis Area Chamber of Commerce board and often worked with Blevins. Whenever the Chamber needed something, she would come up with the solution. In exchange, Collins Communications provides the sound system at no charge to various city functions.

After the rooster was designed came the fun of building it.

Rachel Walker, who has worked with Blevins for about six months, said creating the bird was more “play by ear” that any structured plan.

Blevins and her crew salvaged materials to make the framework from old Christmas light pole decorations that had been damaged. The only item that had to be purchased – with Collins’ help – was threaded pipe.

The frame is covered with Dacron used to repair airplane wings. Blevins said she had some left over from decorations used during Christmas on the River. Landscape fabric forms the tail that ruffles in the wind, a project Walker did whenever she had time.

Construction took about two months with all of Blevins’ crew lending a hand during lunch breaks or after hours.

The biggest challenge was mounting the rooster on the flatbed trailer. The crew discovered that, as originally constructed, the bird was too tall to transport. It wouldn’t fit under utility lines that crossed the streets. The rooster’s feet had to be sacrificed. Even with no feet, it still took some effort to get the unwieldy fowl into place.

To keep the structure stable, the legs are set over 10-foot pipes mounted on the trailer, and then it is held in place with guy wires.

From the time the rooster went up people have talked about it.

There have been a lot of good comments, said Blevins.

“I have not heard anything but complements,” added Collins.

The Rooster Day Committee held a name-the-rooster contest, and it drew 71 entries. On March 8 the tall bird officially became known as Col. “Cold Cock” Bridges.

Col. Bridges will travel to the Public Square for Rooster Day to add even more fun to the day’s activities.

Demopolis BOE adjusts facility rental fees, makes personnel changes in Tuesday meeting

Rental fees for the use of school gymnasiums and auditoriums are going up after the Demopolis City Board of Education voted Monday in a meeting that covered routine items.

The rental for gymnasiums rose from $150 to $250, and for auditoriums, from $250 to $500, effective immediately. The action came after questions about the fees were raised at meetings earlier this year.

The board also agreed with Supt. Kyle Kallhoff to make a general advertisement for elementary, middle and high school teachers in order to have a pool of applications to draw from. In addition, advertisements for library media specialists at Westside Elementary and Demopolis High School and for a DHS custodian are being posted.

The board voted on the personnel report which included:

  • Resignations by Jonathan Casey Moore, special education teacher at Demopolis Middle School, effective March 16, and Jillian Arthur, band director, effective at the end of the school year.
  • Retirements of Lori Giles, WES librarian; Katie Poole, U.S. Jones Elementary teacher, and Tammy Spruell, and Paul Bond, both WES teachers, all effective at the end of the school year.
  • Substitute license for Linda Driver.
  • Medical leave extension for Constance Cleveland.

Kallhoff asked the board to make a revision to the school calendar approved last month. Teachers will have a work day on Aug. 7, with three professional development days to follow. The previous calendar had the work day on Aug. 8 with two professional development days.

Teachers and students from WES and DMS were recognized for their outstanding accomplishments. From WES, office manager Joann Merriweather and second grader Areil Mata were honored. From DMS were 8th grade math teacher Jackie Tripp and 7th grader Ny Kierah Johnson.

Kallhoff said he is working on an application for all school volunteers. Still in the development stage is how to conduct background checks on those volunteers. Local background can be determined, but state and federal background checks may have to be outsourced.

In other action the board approved:

  • Out-of-state or overnight field trips for the DMS Beta Club to Orlando, Fla.; DHS DECA to Anaheim, Calif.; DHS Youth Leadership to Tuscaloosa, and DHS FBLA to Birmingham.
  • Travel reimbursement for the art teacher.
  • Inventory dispositions for unusable computers and printers.
  • DHS auditorium rental by the John Coley Show June 4.
  • 2017-2018 Course Catalogue.
  • Floor machine maintenance agreement for DMS.

Kallhoff asked the board to consider a janitorial bid for WES. He said summer work hours will extend from June 5 to July 28. Schools and offices will be open Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Fridays from 7-11 a.m.

In his report, Kallhoff congratulated board president Conrad Murdock for being reelected to the board by the Demopolis City Council.

He said the Area Special Olympic Games will be held at DHS on April 21, and April is being designated as Autism Awareness Month in the schools.

A job fair will be held at DHS on Thursday by local industries. Juniors and seniors will be interviewing during the day, and after school hours the general public is invited to take part in the job fair.

The next regular meeting will be held April 17. Kallhoff said he expected to have a recommendation for a band director at that time, and he hoped to have a DHS principal applicant as well.

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Rotary Club hears from adult psych director

Rosanne Massee speaks to the Demopolis Rotary Club on Wednesday. (WAW | Jan McDonald)

Almost everyone knows a friend or family member who suffers from some form of mental illness, Rosanne Massee told members of the Demopolis Rotary Club Wednesday.

In fact, she said, one in five adults in America has or will have some form of mental illness. When it comes to serious mental illness, nearly 10 million Americans, or one in 25, experiences it.

Massee, who holds numerous degrees in nursing and behavioral health, manages the newly opened Adult Psychiatric facility at Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital.

Mental illness requires treatment when it affects daily life and relationships, Massee said. The mental health programs offered by the hospital try to address those issues in order to affect recovery in the least restrictive situation.

The services at the hospital are for those 18 years of age and older. When referred, patients are evaluated by the behavioral health staff and one of the three psychiatrists on board. The client can take part in intensive outpatient services, a structured program held four hours each day. If more care is needed, patients are moved to the Partial Hospitalization Program with an interdisciplinary team overseeing their progress.

Only in the most severe cases are patients admitted to the new 10-bed inpatient unit at the hospital. Often admission is made in an emergency situation, such as attempted suicide, homicidal behavior or delusions that warrant further inpatient treatment, Massee said.

Patients usually stay between three days up to several weeks. Some are admitted voluntarily, but in other cases commitment hearings before the probate judge are held in the hospital.

Massee said the hospital admitted its first patient to the new unit in early February. It has taken a maximum of five patients as the staff gets used to the facility, and the unit will be fully opened April 12. “We’re getting better every day,” she said. “I find this an exciting time.”

The hospital only began plans to convert a section of the second floor for the Adult Psychiatric unit after an intensive needs assessment, and it had to meet rigorous standards before opening.

The semi-private rooms “are not aesthetically pleasing,” said Massee, but they are safe for both patients and staff.

The unit includes a communal room for eating and therapy sessions and a seclusion room, which, she said, the staff has “not had to use since the unit opened.”

She sees the unit as a way to give hope to those suffering from mental illness and “a chance for a good outcome.”

The hospital’s secure second floor also houses the Geriatric Psychology unit and a medical detox unit, both of which also hold 10 beds.

Marengo County Economic Development Authority names new director

Chris Bontrager (WAW | Jan McDonald)

Chris Bontrager was introduced as the new executive director of the Marengo County Economic Development Authority (MCEDA) at the Marengo County Commission meeting Tuesday.

In his introduction of the new director, EMA director Kevin McKinney said the search committee he chaired had applicants from several states as well as those with local ties.

Bontrager most recently has been involved with economic development in northwest Alabama where he was deputy director in a regional effort in Marion, Fayette and Lamar counties. He earned both his undergraduate and master’s degree from Auburn University.

“I am proud to lead the development efforts in the county,” said Bontrager. “My background is in rural economic development.”

He said his current goals “are to take advantage of any momentum we already have.”

Bontrager accepted the job a month ago and began work on Monday. He already has been I touch with counterparts in neighboring counties, especially Tuscaloosa, to see how an alliance could work for Marengo County.

McKinney said the other members of the MCEDA search committee were Jim Parr, Aliquippa Allen, Johnnie Jones and Hugh Overmeyer.

The South Marengo County Youth Leadership members, consisting of 10th-12th graders at Sweet Water and Marengo High Schools were on hand for Bontrager’s introduction.

South Marengo County Youth Leadership members were present for the introduction of new MCEDA Executive Director Chris Bontrager. (WAW | Jan McDonald)

Pam Stenz with the county’s Extension Office said the group has met six times during the year to study various aspects of leadership. This is the first year of the program, which is paid for by a grant from RC&D out of Thomasville.

The commission approved a resolution supporting the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act which would split what in the past has been a state-wide group into 10 regions. “It should be good for us,” said Commissioner Freddie Armstead.

Probate Judge Laurie Hall gave official notice as required by Gov. Robert Bentley that a special election to fill the vacancy of former Sen. Jeff Sessions will be held at the same time as the general election in 2018. The governor has appointed Luther Strange to fill Sessions’ position until the election.

In other action, the commission approved:

  • New hire for the road department.
  • Tax abatement for Foster Farms for an expansion to its plant.
  • Liquor license for Popes LLC.
  • The appointment of Johnnie Jones to serve on the Park and Rec Board from District 4.
  • The appointment of Errol Agee Thomas to serve on MCEDA from District 4.

Clee Compton: The Rooster Wrangler

Clee Compton, around 1919. (WAW | Contributed)

As roosters arrived in Demopolis for the famous Rooster Auction in 1919, organizers realized they had to have someplace to put them and someone to care for them.

They thought immediately of Clee Compton.

Compton had his own roosters that he kept on his property near the Public Square, the site of the two-day auction. In fact it was his rooster “Bob Jones” that became the symbol not only for the auction but for the celebration of the event almost 100 years later.

The second annual Rooster Day will be held in Demopolis April 8. Sponsored by the Marengo County Historical Society (MCHS), Rooster Day will start off with a 5K run, offer booths featuring the works of artists and craftsmen, provide entertainment and demonstrations on the event stage and feature a section for children’s games and activities.

The day will continue into the evening with a silent and live auction at Lyon Hall, one of the historic homes maintained by the MCHS.

Funds raised at Rooster Day will be used for the upkeep of the group’s two historic homes and for its other activities during the year.

The Rooster Auction, the brainchild of Frank I. Derby of Sumter County, was held to raise money to build a bridge across the Tombigbee River. The lack of a bridge was the only thing holding up a cross-country highway between Savannah and San Diego, what is now U.S. Highway 80.

Compton’s own roosters took part in cock-fighting, which was then both popular and legal, said his daughter, Putt Perry. An abandoned cock pit, what Perry calls a chicken house, still sits on the Compton Family property.

Bob Jones, held by Clee Compton. (WAW | Contributed)

Perry relishes her father’s stories of the auction, “the biggest thing that ever happened around Demopolis,” he told her. “It was one thing the whole city could enjoy.”

The same can be said of the modern event commemorating the auction.

At the time of the auction, Perry said, her father was a popular 35-year-old bachelor in town. He didn’t marry for another seven years. His wife, Margarete Pritchett, was 22 years his junior. Perry was the youngest of their children and named for her mother. An uncle gave her the nickname.

As Perry recalls, her dad said he didn’t have a lot of time to attend the auction. He was busy feeding and watering the eight or 10 roosters. Since they were sold more than once at the fund-raiser, he had to tote them back and forth from his home to the site of the auction.

His own Bob Jones, the rooster officially donated by President Woodrow Wilson, was chosen because of its brilliant black and red plumage, said Perry. The postcards and buttons advertising the auction were printed in black and white, but Compton said the full color photo was used on banners and other displays.

It is Compton’s hand holding Bob Jones in the photo on the postcard taken by Demopolis photographer Sixty Williamson.

Compton also was one of the small army of men who prepared what at that time was the largest barbecue in Alabama, Perry continued. Although he exaggerated, he told his daughter the barbecue pit was “a quarter mile long.”

Clee Compton. (WAW | Contributed)

The men dug the pit, lined the sides of it with coals, places rods and chicken wire across it and laid whole hogs on top. It took all night and half the next day to barbecue the meat. The men constantly basted the hogs with a mixture of salt, pepper and vinegar and fed the coals.

Another group prepared the gallons of barbecue sauce to serve with the meat.

Thousands of people flooded into the city for the auction. Most came by boat and by train since the roads at that time weren’t kind to cars. Even the state legislature moved to Demopolis for the event.

All those people had to sleep somewhere, and the city had only one hotel. Compton told his daughter that many residents took people into their homes, and other visitors slept on sofas or in their cars.

For more information on events or how to participate in Rooster Day activities, visit roosterdaydemopolis.com.

Demopolis BOE appointing committee to investigate tuition for non-residents

The option of charging tuition for students living outside the Demopolis City Schools territory will be investigated by a committee being formed by Supt. Kyle Kallhoff.

The superintendent announced his decision at the Board of Education meeting Monday.

“I would like to begin exploring the possibility of charging a reasonable tuition for non-resident students,” he told the board. “This is for students who wish to attend our schools but do not live in the city of Demopolis.”

The committee would look into what other public school systems charge and the cost of private schools in the area and determine a fair amount for out-of-area students.

“We offer several services for which we do not receive adequate funding,” he continued. One of those services is school nurses. The system barely has enough funding for three nurses at the four campuses, he explained. “Of their daily medical attention to students, 62 are not residents of Demopolis.”

While Kallhoff said the school system doesn’t want to neglect any students, “We want to make sure we are fiscally responsible for the resources we have.”

He is looking to have the committee in place by next week and said that he would like a member of the board to serve on it.

The board unanimously approved a revision to Policy 5.10.1, adding foster care children to the school system admission policy for homeless, migratory, immigrant and limited English proficiency students.

The board also approved the following changes to system personnel:

  • Hiring of Kacey Barrett as a Special Education teacher upon completion of her bachelor’s degree in May.
  • Hiring of Claire Bell as Special Education para-professional effect Feb. 21.
  • Retirement of Cynthia Whitlock, DHS librarian, effective June 1.
  • Approval of Amaal Bamani and James Davis as substitutes.
  • Katrina Sprinkle to be the long-term substitute for Janie Basinger who is on medical leave until May 1.
  • Brian Bradley to be assistant baseball coach at Demopolis Middle School.
  • Donna Dodson to be long-term substitute for Addy Card who I on medical leave until March 24.

The board okayed out-of-state and/or overnight field trips for:

  • S. Jones and DMS Math Teams to Tupelo, Miss., March 4
  • Demopolis High FBLA to Birmingham April 6-7.
  • DHS Beta Club to Six Flags over Georgia April 21.

Kallhoff said the second annual Young Authors Symposium will be held Tuesday, April 18, at 6 p.m. at DHS.

The board voted to accept the school schedule for the 2017-2018 year, which will have 176 days. Classes begin Aug. 14 and end May 24, 2018.

Kallhoff continued to honor outstanding students and staff at Demopolis schools. Student Jakobe Morris and teacher Gloria Mims from USJ and SGA president Roderick Anderson and teacher Amie Miller of DHS each received recognition and gift certificates.

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Marengo County Commission approves $350k grant proposal

Sheriff Ben Bates is recognized by MCC Chairman John Crawford. (WAW | Jan McDonald)

Thirty families along County Road 53 between Linden and Thomaston soon will have safe drinking water, thanks to action by the Marengo County Commission Tuesday.

Stacy McKean of Grant Management said the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) project would connect the water lines over a 1,000-foot stretch between the two communities.

Resident along the line now rely on old, unsafe wells with low pressure. The $350,000 grant will pay for an 8-inch water main joining the two towns.

The Commission unanimously accepted both the engineering and grant management proposals presented by McKean.

Revenue Commissioner Sharon Barkley got the Commission’s okay to spend $25,000 of her budget over the next two years to take part in an aerial survey of the county.

The state-sponsored project will map one-third of the state over the next three years. Marengo County will be in the first group, which needs to begin immediately while trees remain leafless.

Barkley said the survey would photograph the county at a one pixel per 200-foot scale. She said $10,000 of the cost would be paid this year with the remainder remitted the next fiscal year.

The mapping firm offers two options that Barkley will look into to see if the costs can be met. The first would be a greater photographic resolution, and the second, called planimetrics, would compare the new photos with those taken the last time the county had an aerial survey in 2008.

After discussion, commissioners decided to leave the Tobacco Tax CD at Sweet Water State Bank for six months but extend the EMA CD at First Bank of Linden to one year.

District 2 Commission Jason Windham nominated Justina Quinney Allgood to the Marengo County Economic Development Authority. Nominated from District 3 was Mike Robinson. Both were approved. Calvin Martin asked to table his nomination from District 4 until the March meeting.

The Grand Jury report was accepted, but the Commission voted to direct Chairman John Crawford to look into the recommendation to replace some 50 chairs in the small courtroom.

Sheriff Richard Bates was recognized for having completed the Alabama Jail Training Academy. Bates attended four two-day sessions of the ACCA-sponsored program. At least two of the Marengo County jail personnel have graduated as well.

In other action, the Commission:

  • Approved a resolution for the Alabama County Commissions Association Liability Fund Participation Agreement.
  • Passed county levies for alcohol licensing set by the state.
  • Approved a request from County Engineer Ken Atkins for a resolution on a change in funding for the Gandy Ferry Road project. Atkins said the resolution was needed after the state made an error.
  • Set a one-hour lunch break for all county employees between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. and the clock-out time at 4:30 p.m.

For Williamson, discovering self means serving others

Cecil Williamson displays some of the intricate embroidery work created by the women of Laos.

It was obvious the man seated at the table next to Cecil Williamson was fascinated as she talked about her experiences as a volunteer overseas. He kept looking at her out of the corner of his eye.

Finally, he interrupted the conversation and started asking her questions, saying what she was doing was just what he was looking for. At her prompting, he went on line and, smiling, found the site she suggested.

Williamson’s adventures have drawn admiration from some and shudders of fear from others, but the former mayor of Demopolis has found the outlet she needed at this time in her life.

She wasn’t nervous at all, she said. “I just do it.”

The death of her husband, Wayne, in February 2015 was just the last of a series of losses that slammed Williamson. In the fall of that year she went to Ireland for two months and stayed at a Catholic monastery to work on grief and undergo spiritual direction.

“I could either do something or sit around and wait for God to come get me,” she said.

It’s not like she hasn’t offered her services before. “Everything I’ve done here (in Demopolis) has been volunteer,” including, she joked, her term as mayor. “That was pretty much volunteer.”

She decided to do something new and embarked on “my first real adventure by myself.”

Last September she flew to Laos (pronounced Lao, she stressed) and volunteered with the group Global Vision International (GVI) to teach English to a group of young Buddhist novices for two months. Williamson had never taught anything before.

Williamson seen with her team teacher Alejandro, left, and the group of Buddhist novices she taught during her volunteering stint in Laos. (WAW | Contributed)

Her son, Rob, who works with the State Department in the Pentagon, “was not happy with my going,” she said.

Williamson could have chosen to visit many countries over a two-month period, but, “I’m not a very good sightseer,” she explained. “I really like to know the people. I like to see how they live, I like to see how they work, I like to see what they do. I like to understand the culture.”

GVI has base camps in 37 countries, she said. The group is very organized, and volunteer teachers are placed with a partner to team teach their students. Williamson joined Alejandro, a young Mexican student. Most of her fellow teachers were young men and women in their “gap” year from college.

That’s when she experienced the biggest surprise of her adventure: the diversity of the volunteers.

“It was amazing,” she said. “It was like sitting in the U.N. There is so much diversity.”

Her time in Laos introduced her to an entirely different culture. She did her share of sightseeing, but she also planted rice while wading through muddy paddies, threshed the rice by hand, tried different foods and learned the social taboos.

Williamson threshes rice by hand during her stay in Laos. (WAW | Contributed)

“Every day it was a surprise,” she said.

Not once in the two months did she or Alejandro have any discipline problems. “They have absolute respect for authority,” she explained.

Laos has no public education. If families want free education for their sons, the boys become Buddhist novices at a young age. When they turn 18, they decide whether to become monks or return to the secular world.

Whatever decision they make, said Williamson, the boys need to learn English in order to succeed in their chosen field.

In spite of her adventurous spirit, Williamson did have one complaint. “I don’t mind the food. I don’t care where I sleep,” she said. “My only nemesis was the heat.”

When she arrived in Laos in early September, the temperature hovered in the 100s. Two months later at her departure, it had dropped to the 80s. None of the buildings were air conditioned. “I couldn’t drink enough water,” she said.

Since GVI is a volunteer organization, all those who travel to other countries foot their own bill. For the two months in Laos, Williamson paid $4,200 for room and board, in addition to her travel expenses.

GVI doesn’t require immunization, but after checking with the state Health Department, she took several shots to protect herself.

Williamson admits that such adventures are not for everybody. Many people, she said, “think I’m crazy.” She’s been told she’s brave or that, “I couldn’t eat the food, “I couldn’t do this, I couldn’t do that.”

But Williamson is ready for the next adventure. On Feb. 7 she left for Guatemala for another two months to teach yet again. This time her sojourn was set up by her college roommate.

She has been learning Spanish for her foray to Guatemala, and she is mulling over where to volunteer next. Right now she is whether to volunteer in Nepal or Sri Lanka this fall.

She tells those who share her love of adventure and the desire to keep learning and experiencing new things, “If you think you can do it, you can.”

The man sitting next to her may be one of them. He thanked Williamson, picked up his laptop and left with a determined look on his face.

Williamson is determined to keep volunteering until she no longer can. Paraphrasing from Erma Bombeck, she said, “When I see God I want to be able to say, ‘I used every gift you gave me’.”

Demopolis City Council tables monument talk

Spectators at the Demopolis City Council Thursday left the meeting disappointed when council members failed to take any action on replacing or repairing the Confederate monument.

The soldier atop the pedestal toppled when a Demopolis Police Department vehicle hit the statue last summer. Since then discussion has been going on whether to repair the statue or replace it with another structure, perhaps one to honor soldiers from all wars.

Mayor John Laney moved to postpone discussion on the statue until the committee looking into the situation makes a report, which should come by April.

The committee itself generated discussion when, during public comments, Phillip Spence questioned who serves on the committee and how it was appointed.

Laney said that former mayor Mike Grayson has a vote on the committee, but Laney took himself off to avoid conflict of interest. For that reason Councilman Charles Jones also will be asked not to vote but to serve as a mediator.

Spence then requested Police Chief Tommie Reese not vote since it was the DPD that caused the accident, an action Laney said would be “taken under advisement.”

Spence introduced Pat Godwin who represents the Alabama chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. The UDC in Demopolis raised the money for the statue.

The council voted to amend the contract for the Jackson Street bridge replacement to add $9,818 for Wisener, LLC of Guntersville. The company will handle the property acquisition for the project in order to meet all requirements for the grant request.

The following appointments were made to city boards:

  • Airport: Darren Anderson, Terry Wendell and Gary Holemon
  • MCEDA: reappointment of Aliquippa Allen
  • IDB: Charles Singleton, Dr. William Hill and reappointment of Shawn Hall
  • Cemetery: Edith Scott reappointment
  • Hospital Building Authority: Tom Culpepper reappointment

In the only other action, Tiana Rivas received approval to hold a barbecue cook-off at the George Franks Field on March 18 as a benefit for cancer patient Tina Pope.