MA’s Breckenridge participates in Boys State

Hutson Breckenridge, son of Dennis and Cindi Breckenridge of Linden, was selected by Marengo Academy to attend the 2017 Alabama Boys State held May 28 through June 3 on the campus of the University of Alabama.

He was a delegate at the Eightieth American Legion Alabama Boys State. Hutson was a credit to his community and to Marengo Academy. While attending Boys State, Hutson was elected to serve as County Commissioner. He developed a plan for the recruitment of an Economic Development Project for his Boys State County and was very involved in the County Government.

Demopolis cheer sweeps UCA camp

Demopolis High School cheerleaders attended UCA cheer camp at Auburn University May 31 through June 3. The occasion marked the first time DHS has had a clean sweep of first place in all categories at the event. The Tiger cheer squad finished first in extreme routine, first in sideline cheer, first in timeout cheer and first in band dance. Some of the group’s main competition included St. James of Montgomery, Northridge of Tuscaloosa ,Opelika High School, and St. Patrick Catholic of Biloxi, Mississippi.

Demopolis High’s Ashley Carter, Sarah D. Culpepper, Ashleigh Ivory, Sally Mackey and Hannah Webb each made All-American cheerleader and were invited to cheer in London at the day parade.

UCA staff invited Carter, Culpepper and Webb to try out for the 2017-18 UCA staff team. The entire squad got invited to cheer at the Buffalo Wild Wing Citrus Bowl at Disney World Dec. 29, 2017 through Jan. 2, 2018. Team captains Culpepper and Webb were invited to cheer at The Varsity Spirit Spectacular pre-parade performance in Disney World Nov. 29 through Dec. 3.

Julia Singleton, the DHS Tiger mascot, received the leadership award from her peers at camp.

“This is what happens when you practice hard and have a drama free week at camp: a clean sweep. We look forward to an awesome football and basketball year of cheering with this group of girls,” Jennifer Lay Jones, who coaches the squad along with Ali Hathcock, said.

The 2017 Demopolis High School cheerleading squad consists of:

Sarah Duncan Culpepper – Senior Captain

Hannah Webb – Senior Captain

Ashleigh Ivory – Senior Assistant

Ashley Carter – Sr.

Savannah Horshok – Sr.

Maggie Bradley – Jr.

Sally Mackey – Jr.

Alex Abrams – So.

Leah Hinton – So.

Khya James – So.

Taylor Smith – So.

Arri Beason – Fr.

Kimberly Branch – Fr.

Brianna Doss – Fr.

Alysse Dunklin – Fr.

Abbie Hathcock – Fr.

Abby Quinney – Fr.

Charity Singleton – Fr.

Jakara Taylor – Fr.

Julia Singleton – Mascot

Tyler Ward – Mascot

Demopolis Class of 2017 Honor Line

The Demopolis High School Class of 2017 Honor Line consists of Katherine Floyd, Baleigh Holtzclaw, Chelsea Monroe, Cheyenne Martin(Salutatorian), Julia Veres, Clayton McVay, Roderick Anderson, Courtney Smith, Abigail Latham, Anna Lonergan, Hunter Compton, R.J. Cox, Summer Earle, Mary F. Brown, Trezha Ruiz, Allison Polk, Nirali Patel, Natalie Saliba (Valedictorian), Lauren Boone, Caroline Overmyer, Ellen Dunklin, Jamie McGilberry and Mary M. Bradley. Not pictured is Will Key​.

Boone receives award in honor of Hope Vann

Demopolis High School Principal Blaine Hathcock and Barbara Hodge present the first Hope Vann Auxiliary Spirit Award to senior Lauren Boone. Hodge is the mother of the late Hope Vann, the beloved Demopolis High School student and auxiliary member who was killed in a car accident in December 2015.

Over $50k raised for Kidz Outdoors in Saturday’s Soggy Bottom Lodge event (includes photos)

A special Kidz Outdoors event was held this year at Soggy Bottom Lodge in Linden, Ala., on May 13, and it was only made possible through the combined efforts of countless supporters, volunteers, and contributors.

Although many people came together to make Saturday great, I would like to personally thank those who went above and beyond for such an outstanding cause.

Specifically, I would like to mention all of the great volunteers: Federal Judge Scott Coogler, who prepared dinner for over 700 people; volunteers who came from the Universities of Montevallo, West Alabama, and Alabama, including the soccer coaches and fishing team from the University of West Alabama; Ready Mix USA and Cemex, who were our cooking team; James Lewis, Olen Kerby, Johnny Lewis, and Tommy Criswell, who prepared lunch. The great people from La Montanita came out to help with the food as well.

Alabama Power volunteer LaDon Glover and his family served and assisted all of the kids and their families; Coach Josh Chapman and former Alabama football players Christian Jones, Marquis Maze, Undra Billingsley, and Kerry Murphy gave their valuable time to take and sign photos for the kids.

Sheriff Brian Harris, of Sumter County, and Tommy Reese, Chief of Police for Demopolis, both came out and delighted everyone by participating in the dunk booth.

The whole day was kept organized by Alec Braswell, who acted as our volunteer Master of Ceremonies for the day.

And finally, a special thanks goes to all of our sponsors, all the way from Gadsden to Mobile, from Mississippi to Demopolis. My friends know how grateful I am that they supported such an honorable cause. Everyone at Soggy Bottom and everyone at Personal Touch, Inc. put forth a great effort, and I couldn’t be more humbled. We hosted between 700 and 800 people, and it would not have been successful without you.

Last year was our first time to host a Kidz Outdoors event, and we were able to raise $25,000. This year’s event surpassed all of our highest expectations and everyone who participated help raise $54,000. Carol and Rick Clarke, the founders of Kidz Outdoors, do such incredible work with special needs children, and it’s a privilege to help in some small way. They contribute so much of their time and effort to helping the children succeed, even inventing tools and equipment to meet each child’s specific needs.

Next year’s event is tentatively slated for Saturday, May 7, and we need your help and support to make it even better. Together, I know we can succeed.

Thank you,

JR Rivas, Owner, Soggy Bottom Lodge

UWA’s Jones spends week as visiting professor in Rennes, France

Dr. Amy Jones, a digital communications professor from UWA, visited France recently to teach MBA and finance students courses in fundraising and event planning similar. IGR-IAE Rennes is one of UWA’s educational partner universities.

LIVINGSTON, Ala.—A University of West Alabama professor recently traveled to France to spend time in the classroom with graduate students at IGR-IAE Rennes, one of UWA’s educational partner universities. Dr. Amy Jones led classes with students from 18 countries during the week-long visit.

Jones is an associate professor of digital communications at UWA and serves as director of integrated marketing communications (IMC) within UWA’s College of Liberal Arts.

IGR-IAE Rennes is the graduate school of management branch of Université de Rennes, and the oldest French graduate school of management. The school offers 40 programs in the fields of management, including marketing, finance, human resources, accounting, MBA, and management.

Jones taught conferences to MBA and finance students. Specifically, she taught courses in event planning and fundraising. She taught the courses in English to students from France, Tunisia, Brazil, Vietnam, Azerbaijan, China, Colombia, Lebanon, Italy, Mongolia, Poland, Georgia, India, Japan, United States, Nigeria, Taiwan, and Peru.

Finance courses may seem like a stretch for a communications professor, but Jones said that the skills and concepts covered in the material lead to successful careers in many different areas.

“The courses were similar to the content that UWA students cover in their IMC Capstone class,” Jones explained. Senior IMC majors at UWA complete their program with a course that includes a capstone project that demonstrates their learned skills in journalism, marketing, social sciences, and more. The capstone project also involves graphic design, marketing, advertising, web design, social media marketing and broadcast combined to generate fundraising initiatives and overall event planning.

According to Jones, UWA’s IMC graduates find work relatively easy with the skills they build through the program.

“Our IMC alumni work in advertising and public relations agencies, colleges and universities, non-profit organizations, professional sports teams, television stations, magazines, newspapers, several levels of government, and quite a few more specialized areas,” Jones said.

“This is an engaging degree program that develops graduates with convergent journalism skills, a keen ability to know and reach desired audiences, and the knowledge to research the effectiveness of media messages,” Jones explained. “Our ultimate goal is to prepare IMC students for success in the digital media age with a well-rounded, integrated education.”

For more information on UWA’s Integrated Marketing Communications degree programs, contact Dr. Amy Jones or 205-652-3558.

To learn more about UWA’s educational partnerships and study abroad opportunities at partner universities, contact Dr. Mark Davis at or 205-652-3570.

Naheola donates to Demopolis High FBLA

Makayla Durden, Michael Osmer, and Anna Kaye Williams.

Naheola Credit Union presented a check to the Demopolis High School FBLA Chapter to provide partial support for three students to attend the 75th Annual A Legacy of Leadership Conference in Anaheim, California scheduled for June 27 through July 3. The 2017 National Leadership Conference will draw thousands of future business leaders to Anaheim, California to celebrate FBLA-PBL’s 75th anniversary.

Members come to test their knowledge and skills through competitive events, share successes, and learn new ideas about shaping their careers through workshops and exhibits.

“I am overwhelmed by the support of Naheola Credit Union,” Demopolis High FBLA sponsor Kelly Gandy said. “We were not sure if we would be able to attend the competition but with Naheola’s support, it became possible. We are excited to have Anna Kaye Williams, Makayla Durden, and Michael Osmer represent DHS FBLA in Anaheim.

“This is an opportunity of a lifetime. I am so excited to represent DHS in Anaheim and with Naheola’s support this would not be possible,” Michael Osmer, a DHS freshman competing in Introduction to Parliamentary Procedures and Financial Literacy, said.

For more information about Naheola Credit Union, visit

Ashley Coplin, Marketing Specialist-NCU, Leslie Davis, Vice President-NCU, Mark Johnson, CEO-NCU, Michael Osmer, Kelly Gandy-FBLA Advisor, and Blaine Hathcock-Principal at DHS.

Pepper Jelly Festival – April 29, 2017

The Alabama Rural Heritage Center and The Town of Thomaston invite you to its annual Pepper Jelly Festival on April 29, 2017. This event centers around the restoration of the Marengo County High School grounds. It is a family-friendly event with plenty of food, entertainment by local talent, arts and crafts, as well as a time to visit with friends and family. Come enjoy the famous Thomaston Bar-b-cue! Get your jar of the most delicious pepper jelly this side of the Tombigbee. Entertainment includes Mitzi Gates, Trey Webb, Kayla Gill, Dana Thompson, Rebecca Vick to name a few! Excitement is in the air! The Town of Thomaston extends an invitation for all to come and experience a real down-home, old fashioned small town event! We start at 10:00 a.m. and the fun lasts through 3p.m.

DPD accepting applications for Youth Leadership Academy

The Demopolis Police Department is currently accepting applications for this summer’s Youth Leadership Academy offered by the department.

The Youth Leadership Academy is open to all Demopolis City School students. The Youth Leadership Academy is a continuation of the Explorer Police Academy and is designed to continue the students’ training and preparation for becoming tomorrow’s leaders. The program turns an ordinary summer week into an extraordinary adventure and turns seemingly unattainable challenges into very achievable successes.

The primary objective of the Youth Leadership Academy is to continue the students’ growth process from child to adolescent to adult leader. The motto of “leadership, discipline, and honesty” is still the foundation of all daily activities. Teamwork, communication, and problem solving skills are the core curriculum.

Each child will learn about the incredible power of teamwork, the importance of respect for self and others, and build the confidence to achieve the impossible.

The program is open to students of the Demopolis City School System ages 11 to 15.

Two sessions are available for the summer. Session one runs June 5-9, with session two running June 12-16.

Applications must be submitted online by May 26 at 5 p.m. For more information or to submit your application, click here.


Student-Athlete award finalists named

In an effort to promote and celebrate the student-athletes of its county, the Marengo County Parks and Recreation Board in conjunction with The West Alabama Watchman will host the second annual Student-Athlete of the Year Banquet, Monday May 22 at 7 p.m. at Linden Baptist Church.

The event is a celebration of the academic, character and athletic prowess that epitomizes the role of the student-athlete. As part of the festivities, the hosting entities will recognize 12 student-athlete award finalists from throughout the county. Two student-athletes – one male and one female – will take home the award of Marengo County Student-Athlete of the Year. The Marengo County Parks and Recreation Board will make a donation of $500 to the athletic department of each winner.

The initiative’s selection committee has worked alongside athletic directors and principals from each of the six high schools in Marengo County to compile a list of finalists.

Finalists for the 2017 Marengo County Student-Athlete of the Year are:

Girls School Boys
Akayla McGhee – So.. A.L. Johnson High School Deandre Croom – Jr.
Abbey Latham – Sr. Demopolis High School R.J. Cox – Sr.
Tomysha Boykin – Sr. Linden High School C.J. Robinson – Sr.
Macey Petrey – Sr. Marengo Academy Weldon Aydelott – Sr.
DaVonyae Lashae Miller – So. Marengo High School Roosevelt Thompson – Jr.
Lara Little – Sr. Sweet Water High School Flynn Mabowitz – Sr.

Tickets for the event are $15 each and include a barbecue dinner catered by A Slab and More of Demopolis. Those seeking to purchase tickets are encouraged to contact The West Alabama Watchman at or Meredith Hammond, Marengo County Commission Administrator, at 334-295-2203. Ticket quantities are limited.

In addition to the presentation of the honorees and announcement of the winners, the event will feature guest speaker Eli Gold, play-by-play broadcaster for Alabama Crimson Tide football.