Sweet Water woodsheds Shields for Region 1 win

(Photo by Johnny Autery)
DB Braiden Broussard (2) returns an interception deep into Panther territory

Sweet Water made quick work of Class 1A, Region 1 foe J.F. Shields Friday night, coasting to a 61-8 road victory.

The Bulldogs scored 40 points in the first quarter to take a commanding lead. Jonah Smith hit Shamar Lewis for a 49-yard touchdown pass. Jaylon Williamson added the conversion run to make it 8-0. Smith punched it in from 3 yards out before a Jacory Brown conversion run to make it 16-0.

(Photo by Johnny Autery)
Sweet Water QB Jonah Smith calls his own number and runs for a big gain.

Jonah Smith then threw to his younger brother Sasha Smith for a 33-yard touchdown. Brown’s conversion plunge made it 24-0. Smith then hit Trent Sams for a 16-yard touchdown strike. Williamson’s conversion run pushed it to 32-0. Lewis then ran it in from three yards out ahead of Brown’s conversion run, which made it 40-0.

Jaland Lewis-Horton added a 9-yard touchdown run in the second quarter while Kaleb Greene had a 4-yard scoring sprint to set the halftime lead at 53-0. After Shields got on the board in the fourth, Lewis returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown. Lewis-Horton added the conversion run for the final margin.

Smith was 7 of 8 passing for 170 yards and three touchdowns in addition to his 20 rushing yards and one touchdown rushing. Lewis-Horton had 52 yards on seven carries to lead all Bulldog rushers. Lewis had two catches for 62 yards and a score. Braiden Broussard intercepted a pass for Sweet Water.

Sweet Water (3-1, 3-0) is off next Friday and will host Linden Oct. 6.

(Photo by Johnny Autery)
Bulldog defenders, Michael Allen Cole (76), Brodie Echols (75) and Chance Broussard (48) gang tackle the Panther RB

Last-second INT seals Demopolis win over Calera

9-22-2017 — Demopolis, Ala. — Demopolis’ Aaron Collier (21) watches as C.J. Williams (26) concentrates on completing an interception in the end zone. Williams’ pick would would seal the Tigers’ Homecoming win over the Calera Eagles.

Sophomore corner C.J. Williams watched the ball bounce around in his hands momentarily before clamping down on it as he fell to the ground in the end zone. The catch was the biggest of his young career and represented the interception that effectively handed Demopolis a 21-17 win over Calera with 1.4 seconds left on the clock.

9-22-2017 — Demopolis, Ala. — Demopolis’ Brandon Simmons runs in the open field during the Tigers’ Homecoming win over the Calera Eagles.

“We put three guys deep, played man under. We told the safety to knock it down and he does,” Demopolis coach Brian Seymore said. “Fortunately, C.J. is laying on the ground. We’re blessed that he made the pick and we were able to go to victory.”

Demopolis clung to a 21-17 lead as Calera pushed the ball down the field after taking over at its own 24 with 59 seconds remaining in the contest. Eagle signal-caller Cornelius Brown hit William Ray for a 22-yard gain to move it to the Calera 46. After spiking the ball to stop the clock, Brown found William Smith for 12 yards to get into Tiger territory at the 42.

Brown dropped back on the next snap but had little time to survey the field as Tavion Brown blew up the pocket and took down the Calera QB for the sack, forcing the final Eagle timeout.

Brown’s heave down the sideline on the next snap caromed off the hands of Dylan Killingsworth and appeared to fall harmlessly to the ground before a penalty flag quickly followed its descent. The pass interference call moved the ball to the Demopolis 30 with 16 seconds to play. Two snaps later, Brown chucked it to the back right corner of the end zone where Williams’s focused heroics nullified the threat and brought an uproar from the raucous homecoming crowd.

“Our kids showed a little character right there at the end. We needed a game like this to grow on. We needed to face adversity like this,” Seymore said. “I’m just proud that the community and the alumni that came back had a chance to see us win.”

Demopolis largely moved the ball at will in the first half but found itself plagued with turnovers. The Eagles proved ready to capitalize. Orlando Harris picked off a pass to end the first Demopolis possession before returning a Tiger fumble 63 yards for a touchdown on the ensuing drive.

9-22-2017 — Demopolis, Ala. — Demopolis RB Antonio Besteder gets loose on a good run during the Tigers’ Homecoming win over the Calera Eagles.

“We moved the ball really good, just couldn’t finish some drives. The turnover bug got us again a little bit and put us in some tough situations,” Seymore said. “We felt like we had a pretty good call on the speed option and kind of got the pitch a little bit behind and they scooped and scored.”

Demopolis worked its way onto the scoreboard early in the second quarter when it capped a 16-play, 82-yard drive with a 13-yard scoring pass from Andrew Patterson to Jeremy Jackson on 4th and 5. The PAT attempt failed, leaving Calera up 7-6.

Demopolis took the lead with 4:50 to go before half when A.J. Jackson punched it in from 14 yards out. Antonio Besteder added the conversion run to set the advantage at 14-7.

Calera’s attempt to get points on the board before the half traversed 57 yards to the Demopolis 11 before the clock appeared to expire ahead of Brown’s attempt to spike the ball. A conference by the officials resulted in adding 0.9 seconds to the game clock, allowing Zachary Ford to connect on a 28-yard field goal to cut it to 14-10.

Demopolis made the most of its first possession of the third quarter when it covered 79 yards in 12 plays and watched A.J. Jackson scored on a 12-yard run for the 21-10 advantage. Demopolis snuffed the ensuing Calera drive and looked poised to take full control of the contest when a muffed punt bounced free at the Demopolis 16. Calera pounced on the opportunity. Three plays later, Brown hit DeCorean Mickens on a dump off and the Eagle tailback ran it 16 yards for the touchdown. Ford’s kick proved to set the final margin.

Demopolis amassed 338 yards of total offense, led by Besteder’s 19 rushes for 104 yards. A.J. Jackson added 97 yards on 28 totes. DeDe Davis caught nine passes for 65 yards. Russ Logan also intercepted a pass in the game for the Tigers.

With the win, Demopolis sits alone atop Class 5A, Region 3. Demopolis (4-1, 3-0) is off next week and returns to Class 5A, Region 3 Friday, Oct. 7 when it travels to Dallas County.

9-22-2017 — Demopolis, Ala. — Demopolis RB A.J. Jackson (4) runs between the blocks of Matt Dollar (62) and Chris Williams (right) during the Tigers’ Homecoming win over the Calera Eagles.

2017 DHS Homecoming Pep Rally (gallery)

Patrician airshow grounds Longhorns

Marengo Academy’s Trey Etheridge runs the ball against Patrician Academy. (Photo by Collin Sheffield)

Marengo Academy was unable to climb out of an early hole Thursday night, finding itself down 35-0 at halftime before succumbing to a 42-14 defeat at Class A, Region 2 rival Patrician.

The Saints got the passing game going early as Anderson Newman went over the top to Blake Reid for a 35-yard touchdown pass. Later in the first quarter, Newman found Reid on an 83-yard strike to stretch the lead.

Newman ran it in from 10 yards out in the second quarter to move the lead to three scores. Far from finished, Newman later hit Reid for touchdown passes of 67 and 75 yards. Sabastin Getz made all seven of his extra-point kicks on the night.

The Longhorns got on the board in the third quarter when Gavin Thompson broke a 26-yard run for a touchdown. Patrician’s final score came in the fourth quarter when Logan Atcheson scored on a 2-yard run. William Drake punched it in from a yard out before Thompson added the conversion run to cap the scoring.

Marengo ran for 203 yards in the game but managed only 230 yards of total offense. The Saints countered with 461 yards of offense, highlighted by 346 through the air.

Newman finished 11 of 13 passing for 346 yards and four touchdowns. Reid caught six passes for 296 yards and four touchdowns.

Drake led Marengo with 18 carries for 76 yards. Thompson added 72 yards on seven rushes.

Marengo (1-4, 1-2) travels to Macon-East next Thursday night. Patrician (3-2, 2-0) travels to Southern.

Marengo Academy’s Hunter Parker runs the ball against Patrician Academy. (Photo by Collin Sheffield.)

Black Warrior among 19 Alabama electric co-ops working in wake of Irma

Black Warrior Electric Membership Corporation is among 19 Alabama rural electric cooperatives that sent crews to Florida last week to help fellow electric cooperatives in that state restore power in the wake of Hurricane Irma. In all, a total of 210 linemen from Alabama cooperatives were dispatched to assist in Florida, where the hurricane left more than 75 percent of the state without electricity.

Confronting the aftermath of high winds and heavy rain, mutual aid linemen from more than 25 states are working at co-ops in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, according to the Alabama Rural Electric Association. In some spots, full restoration could take weeks, officials warned.

“Alabama’s cooperatives are always willing to help our fellow cooperatives when there is a need,” said Fred Braswell, president and CEO of the AREA, which represents Alabama’s 22 electric cooperatives.

Black Warrior EMC General Manager Daryl Jones said crews from Black Warrior left Tuesday headed for Florida.

“As usual, we had every field employee volunteer to assist our fellow cooperatives,” Jones said.  “Additional BWEMC crews will be swapped out later if needed.  This allows us to maintain reliability for our own members while helping others in need.”

The mutual aid among cooperatives is a nationwide network that provides assistance when disaster strikes.

Terry Barr, president of the Black Warrior Electric Board of Trustees, said cooperation among electric utilities in responding to widespread power outages is critical and benefits members of Black Warrior.

“Our crews are always prepared for when bad weather hits, but hurricanes and tropical storms are a special challenge,” Barr said. “Getting the lights back on quickly often requires additional manpower beyond what the local cooperative can provide on its own. So we are happy to assist other cooperatives when they need help, knowing they will be ready to help us when we need it.”

Alabama’s rural electric cooperatives deliver power to more than 1 million people, or a quarter of the state’s population, and they maintain more than 71,000 miles of power lines.

Black Warrior Electric Membership Corporation serves about 26,000 customers in 12 counties in west central Alabama. For information, go to www.blackwarrioremc.com.

Mobile District campsites host thousands displaced by Hurricane Irma

MOBILE, Ala. – Tina White’s family was relieved to call Carters Lake campground home over the weekend while she and her family rode out Hurricane Irma after being forced out of their southern Georgia homes.

White’s Carters Lake campsite was one of 535 sites at 10 project areas that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District made available to accommodate Hurricane Irma evacuees.

“Many district campgrounds remain open this time of year,” said Amy Cobb-Williams, program manager for the district’s Natural Resources Division, “and the district delayed scheduled seasonal closure of some campgrounds to meet the potential demand for evacuees displaced by the storm. In all, we estimate that we hosted thousands of Irma evacuees.”

Mobile District’s Commander, Col. James DeLapp, spearheaded the initiative to keep the additional campgrounds open for hurricane evacuees.

At another of Mobile District’s campsites, the Black Warrior-Tombigbee’s Foscue Creek Campground, many local campers gave up their campsites to accommodate the influx of evacuees fleeing the storm. In addition, local civic and church groups welcomed the evacuees by bringing them hot meals.

“This was a small initiative, but I was happy to see that so many people came to our campsites. If we kept one family safe from Hurricane Irma, it was worth it,” DeLapp said. “I really appreciate the efforts of all of our rangers and project staff who helped with this initiative. I am also grateful for the volunteer organizations, churches and Boy Scouts that delivered meals to the evacuees.”

White decided to ride out 2016’s Hurricane Matthew in her trailer home, located in Guyton, Ga., and vowed she would never do that again.

“Going to north Georgia was definitely a better plan,” she said. “Six family members and I left our home on Saturday and headed north to the Carters Lake campground. We didn’t have much money but we stopped and bought an $85, 10-man tent and reserved the campsite for $18 a night.”

White set up camp with her husband, two daughters, son-in-law, grandson, 11-month-old grandbaby and even her dogs and cats.

“It was nice weather the day we set up and then the rain and 60 mph wind came ripping through,” she said. “It was scary but no trees fell. The whole family was stuffed in there but we held up good. It was really a decent experience. The park rangers were nice and kept checking on us. The bathrooms were great and well-supplied. Everyone there was helpful.”

The family stayed through Monday and returned to their home in southern Georgia on Tuesday.

“There were a couple of limbs down and a lot of water but nothing major happened,” she said. “I’m definitely glad we left. It was important to get my family out of harm’s way. Protecting our lives was the most important thing. We were all dirty and it wasn’t fun but we managed and stuck together.”

Marengo County Sports Hall of Fame turns 10 years old

In the summer of 2007 Tom Boggs, Tony Speegle and Johnny Brooker met to discuss how to recognize and publicize the tremendous sports history of Marengo County with emphasis on recognizing individuals, teams, and how to exhibit memorabilia concerning events, teams and individuals.

The Marengo County Sports Hall of Fame was born from those first meetings on the 27th of November 2007 when the corporation was officially organized and filed with the Probate Office of Marengo County, subsequently receiving tax exempt status under Section 501 (c ) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

The goals set were to select individuals who have made an impact on Marengo County through their exploits in sports over the years, to host an annual induction ceremony, to recognize championship teams, to award an annual scholarship to a high school senior, and to provide a place for display of Marengo County Sports memorabilia, so as to instill pride in the entire County.

A 12-person Board of Directors was organized, and on the second Monday of February, 2009, the first banquet and induction ceremony was held at the Demopolis Civic Center with a sold out crowd.

There were six inductees that year, and although all six of those individuals had excelled in football, the following eight banquets have featured men and women covering not only football, but basketball, baseball, softball, track, boxing, wrestling and even umpiring.  The Tenth Annual Banquet and Induction Ceremony is planned for the second Monday of February, 2018 at the Demopolis Civic Center.  The board voted to move the start time to 6 p.m. rather than 7 p.m., with a gathering period at 5:30 p.m.    Tickets will be made available starting around December of 2017, with the price for the night’s entertainment and an excellent meal remaining at $25.00 each.

There will be a special emphasis on encouraging past inductees to be present for this 10th anniversary, and there will be a souvenir program featuring not only the new inductees, but all 46 of the past Hall of Fame members.

There is still time for submission of nomination packages to be delivered to Tom Boggs or to Tony Speegle, the package to include a picture, letter of recommendation, and a vita sheet setting out information about the family of the nominee, as well as a summary of athletic accomplishments.

The memorabilia collected for the last ten years is exhibited by courtesy of the Demopolis Library Board in a back room at the Demopolis Public Library, and everyone is encouraged to visit those exhibits to share in the pride of the County.


UWA’s freshman class grows by 22 percent for fall 2017

LIVINGSTON, Ala.—The University of West Alabama has announced its fall 2017 enrollment, including triple-digit growth percentages in freshman interest and an increase in overall on-campus enrollment for the third consecutive year.

UWA’s freshman enrollment is up 22 percent from last year, from 370 to 453. This is UWA’s highest freshman enrollment since 1995, the year the school’s name was changed to reflect its commitment as a regional institution providing not only quality education, but also improving the quality of life for the citizens of west Alabama.

According to Dr. Blake Bedsole, director of admissions and enrollment management at UWA, the significant increases are the results of several efforts to grow enrollment.

“Our University has made an intentional effort to improve our communication plans,” Bedsole explained. “We’ve expanded our multi-channel marketing efforts, and our traveling counselors and in-house admissions staff have worked extremely hard to produce this kind of result.”

The enrollment number is not the only significant increase. UWA saw a staggering increase in freshman applications for the fall 2017 semester, growing by triple-digit percentages in several categories.

“These numbers prove that UWA is becoming a top choice for many students, and that more students are considering UWA than ever before. Equally impressive is the fact that the significant growth of the freshman class comes with no degradation in academic quality,” Bedsole said.

In this year’s freshman class, the average ACT score is 21, and average high school GPA is 3.35. Many of these students were valedictorian or salutatorian of their high school graduating class.

UWA’s 2017 freshman class represents 57 of Alabama’s counties, 16 states in the U.S., and five other countries.

Overall on-campus enrollment is up 3 percent, from 1,772 in fall 2016 to 1,819 students enrolled in on-campus classes for fall 2017. This number does not include online enrollment, which when factored in increases overall enrollment by 18 percent, from 3,514 to 4,148.

“This year’s admissions and enrollment numbers are very encouraging for UWA, especially considering that enrollment is flat or declining in many institutions across the U.S.,” said UWA President Ken Tucker. “Our University is committed to building on these efforts and continuing to recruit outstanding students, growing our academic and student offerings, and providing a high-quality, safe, and enjoyable educational experience that will prove an excellent return on investment for students for years to come.”

Established in 1835, the University of West Alabama is a fully accredited, four-year public institution located on a 600-acre campus in Livingston, Ala. UWA offers nearly 60 undergraduate and nearly 40 graduate degree programs. For more information on admissions, visit enroll.uwa.edu.

University Charter School Board names Wedgworth Head of School

LIVINGSTON, Ala.—The Board of Directors for Sumter County’s new University Charter School has just completed an interest inventory in an effort to prepare for the school’s August 2018 opening. The survey has been conducted by the newly-named head of school, Dr. J.J. Wedgworth.

The interest inventory, conducted through a survey collected online and via hard copy distributed to accessible public locations throughout the county, was designed to gauge the current level of interest in enrollment, as well as the specific educational needs of families interested in enrolling at University Charter School.

“We are pleased with the level of response we received from the interest inventory, and we are already working to ensure that these needs are addressed in our planning efforts,” Wedgworth said. “In preparing our application over several months, the team worked diligently to identify our county’s needs, most of which are common throughout the Black Belt region and even other rural communities throughout the nation. Conducting this interest inventory gives us solid information from the families University Charter School will serve and helps ensure that we work through this planning year to address their needs.”

Named head of school in September, Wedgworth will be responsible for oversight of all academic programs and curricula; faculty and staff hiring, professional development, compensation, other personnel matters; and student enrollment, and attendance, and will also oversee budgeting, financial management, fundraising, technology, and management of school facilities.

Wedgworth will also assist and guide the board of directors in making decisions in all areas covered under school governance and contract guidelines with the Alabama Public Charter School Commission.

The head of school will work closely with the principal of the school after that position has been established and filled.

Wedgworth said that the board will soon announce employment opportunities as well as application and enrollment periods. Enrollment will be open first to Sumter County residents, followed by a subsequent enrollment period for non-Sumter County residents of Alabama. If enrollment exceeds the school’s capacity, a lottery will be held.

Wedgworth has played a lead role in the school’s establishment, from feasibility research to application preparation, which proved successful when the Alabama Public Charter Schools Commission voted unanimously in July to approve the application. The school was the only one of three applications approved unanimously, without condition for this application cycle.

Consistent among Wedgworth’s professional efforts are successful efforts in improving the region through education, from scholarly research presentations on solutions to public health issues and quality of life assessments in the region to expertise in managing data and implementation of programs and initiatives resulting from that research.

Wedgworth said that as head of school, her mission is to do what’s best for students in every scenario.

“My mission is to have the courage to do the right thing for the children, day in and day out,” she said. “I will strive to successfully consult and collaborate to bring out the best in others in support of the students. I envision the faculty and staff of UCS as one that embodies a sustained, relentless commitment to improvement and to becoming a better version of themselves.”

According to Wedgworth, instilling that commitment will provide a single-minded focus to working on behalf of the students in the long-term, despite inevitable ups and downs. She hopes to continue building on the foundation of support that has brought the project to this point.

“We have received such strong support from the UWA Board of Trustees and from President Tucker, with their leadership and commitment to the mission. Mr. Johnnie Aycock and the application team worked diligently to develop an amazing framework for our school, and our community has shown tremendous support through this process.”

The University Charter School Founding Board of Directors includes President Mr. Micky Smith, Vice President Rev. Byron Franklin, Secretary Mr. Kyle Edmonds, Treasurer Ms. Veronica Triplett, Dr. Robert Witt, Ms. Leslie Prystup Emory, Mr. Anthony Crear, and Dr. Jan Miller.

“We have embarked on a mission to equip children to pursue their passions and to create a better future for themselves and our area,” Wedgworth said. “The coming year will be filled with promise and possibility, and fresh opportunities to learn, and grow and inspire.  I will strive to place ‘passion for students’ above everything else, and I will always consider it a privilege to serve in this role.”

Prior to this position, Wedgworth served as director of research integrity in UWA’s Office of Sponsored Programs and Research, having served in the department since 2014. During her tenure in this department, she facilitated the development of many successful grant applications campus-wide, developed a research compliance infrastructure for the university, and was also successful in co-authoring two major grants, including a National Science Foundation award and funding to establish the Steelcase Active Learning Center in UWA’s Lyon Hall. She has also served as an adjunct instructor for eight years, teaching classes for both the College of Education and the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

Before coming to UWA, Wedgworth was employed at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa as a research project manager for more than six years, as well as a tutor for athletic student services.

A Sumter County native, Wedgworth is a 2002 graduate of Sumter Academy and returned as a faculty member teaching high school science classes there while also coaching volleyball and softball. She holds a bachelor of science in biomedical science and psychology from Auburn University; a master of science in human environmental science with emphasis on rural health from the University of Alabama; and a doctorate in environmental microbiology, also from the University of Alabama.

To learn more about University Charter School, call 205-652-5459 or visit www.uwa.edu/charterschool. The page also includes a link to submit the interest survey or download a printable copy. Frequently asked questions are also addressed on the page. Enrollment, employment, and other information about the school will be advertised as it continues to be developed.

Homestead exemption for property owners at hand

Property owners over age 65 may qualify for an extra ad valorem tax discount on their homesteads, but they must register for it per Alabama law. To make it easier for residents to understand their required actions for claiming this exemption, Revenue Commissioner Sharon Barkley will be going to the Demopolis and Linden Senior Centers to talk about homestead exemptions.

On Tuesday, Sept. 26 at 11 a.m. Barkley will be in Demopolis at the West Alabama Senior Center and on Wednesday, Sept. 27 at 11:30 a.m. Barkley will be at the Meals for Elderly Building in Linden. Those who have never applied for the exemption before are encouraged to attend. Inquiries and concerns are directed to the Revenue Commissioner’s Office at 334-295-2214.