Stokes crowned 2017 Young Miss COTR (with gallery)

10-10-17 — Demopolis, Ala. — Kylie Elizabeth Stokes (right) reacts as she realizes that she will be Young Miss Christmas on the River 2017 as Adalyn Broox Lindsey’s (left) name is called as first alternate.

Young Miss Christmas on the River 2017 saw 33 contestants compete for the title at the Demopolis Civic Center. They paraded in true pageantry form to show their best style, poise and beauty as the judges chose a top 15. These young ladies presented their best and included Millie Hill, Emery Wideman, Susanna Bell, Elliegh Reid Dossett, Mary Carlton Parten, Madisen Sewell, Maddie Grace Teel, Sha’Keithia Murphy, Kyle Stokes, Olivia Tripp, Anna Kate Morrison, Adalyn Lindsey, Ari Freeman, Ali Basinger, and Bailey Madison Bolden.

After the top 15 contestants walked a second time, the judges narrowed the competition down to a top 5, who were judged on their ability to speak in public and think on their feet by answering the question, “What do you look for in a friend?” These third through fifth grade thought very hard to come up with the best answer to win the judges over. After the judges reflected on their decision, the new Young Miss COTR and her Royal Court were decided.

Placing fourth alternate was Mary Carlton Parten wearing a beautiful white tulle gown with silver and gold sequins. Susanna Bell was awarded third alternate in an off the shoulder elegant princess gown with lots of sparkle. Wearing a fabulous white formal gown with a silver beaded bodice and white rosettes on the skirt was second alternate, Emery Wideman. Adalyn Broox Lindsey earned first alternate wearing a gorgeous white satin gown embellished with crystals.

Crowned Young Miss Christmas on the River was Kylie Stokes in a perfect satin Christmas red gown detailed with crystals. Kylie is the daughter of Wayne and Heather Stokes and attends U.S. Jones. She was extremely shocked and overwhelmed at winning the title. Ms. Stokes is excited and looks forward to riding and waving in the COTR Day parade. She wants everyone to know how much fun it was to compete in this year’s pageant and hopes that everyone will sign up for next year and have as much fun as she did.

Come out and support the last of the COTR pagaents, Little Miss COTR, tonight at the Civic Center at 6pm.

Jefferson VFD to host BBQ fundraiser Oct. 7 beginning at 9 a.m.

Jefferson Volunteer Fire Department will host its annual barbecue on Saturday, Oct. 7, at Jefferson Community Club. Barbecue by the pound will be available beginning at 9 a.m. Visitors can get to-go plates or dine in from 10:30 a.m. until 4 p.m., or until the barbecue has sold out.

The cost is $9 per pound or per plate, which includes barbecue, homemade potato salad and cake, bread, and pickles. The barbecue is cooked over hickory coals at the Club’s onsite barbecue pit by members of the volunteer fire department. Pints of their signature sauce will be available for $3.

In recent years, the event has been a sell-out, so the department cannot guarantee that barbecue will still be available as late as 4 p.m.

“We pack the pit as tight as we can get it to cook as much as we can,” said Dave Compton, who is one of the overnight cooks and serves as maintenance officer of the department.

The meat cooks all day and all night Friday, and on Saturday morning they start pulling it off the pit, shoulder by shoulder, to chop it. The meat is sauced and then makes its way to the kitchen, where another crew starts packing pounds of meat to begin selling at 9 a.m. At 10:30, they begin making take-out plates and serving in the dining room.

The event is the department’s primary fundraiser, aiding the group in maintenance and upgrades to their equipment and facility, which is located next door to Jefferson Community Club. The fleet includes five trucks used to service the community–a service truck, brush truck, two engines, and tanker.

“Our barbecue has been a tremendous help to us over the years,” said JVFD Chief George Norris. “The funds we raise at this event help us do some of the things that we might not be able to do with only restricted funds that are allocated to us. It takes a lot of money and time to maintain a fire department, partly because of all of the equipment that’s required for us to not only pass inspection but to strive for a rating that helps ensure that our neighbors can see the positive results of fire protection when it comes time to pay their property insurance premiums.”

JVFD’s coverage area includes not only the immediate five-mile stretch adjacent to the station, but also mileage of highway 80 west as far as Plaza Golf Carts in Demopolis, County Roads 21 and 57, Rangeline Road, and dozens of dirt roads throughout the community. The department is manned entirely by volunteers.

“Everything we do is a commitment of time from our volunteers, a true commitment,” Norris said. “Our volunteers don’t just show up when we’re paged, fight a fire, then go home. We have a dedicated group of individuals who train several hours each month, keep our facility and trucks clean, perform maintenance, paint and keep the grass and brush clear around nearly 70 hydrants along the roadsides, and all of the other logistics that have to be in line for us to operate.”

Combining all of these efforts, Jefferson VFD volunteers commit nearly 2,000 man hours each year. That’s likely a modest estimate. But their work is necessary.

“Our department was established in 1986 after several properties in our community were lost to fire,” Norris said. “We’re not going to prevent every fire from happening, but we can help provide a sense of security and an awareness for safety when incidents occur. We’ve put an extra emphasis on outreach and fire prevention in the last couple of years, and we hope that every little thing we do to show people how they can be safe will help them if they’re ever involved with a fire or accident that could lead to a fire.”

Jefferson has a small population, but the broad area is literally a map of some of the county’s best pasture land and timber. A high percentage of JVFD’s calls are for brush fires, so controlling the fire safely before allowing it to overcome a property or reach a structure is usually the top priority.

“Fire protection, especially for volunteer fire departments, seems like it used to be a matter of putting water on a flame, but so many factors have changed it over the years,” Norris said. “Making way for every safety measure that we can changes the system. More money has to be spent on safety equipment, more hours need to be dedicated to training than ever before, and we have to keep all of these things in mind while we do the things that before may have seemed like such basic steps. We’re fortunate to have people who are committed to giving what it takes.”

To support Jefferson Volunteer Fire Department, make plans to attend their annual barbecue on Saturday, Oct. 7. For more information, contact a member of the department, follow them on Facebook at, or email

Photo of the Day

If you missed opening night, you still have three chances to see The Canebrake Players performance of “Smoke on the Mountain” at the Canebrake Theatre in Demopolis.

Saturday, July 29th at 7:00pm

Sunday, July 30th at 2:00pm

Monday, July 31st at 7:00pm

Photo of the Day

Fireworks light up the night during Freedom on the River at the city landing in Demopolis.

2017 HWY 80 Songwriters Fest (gallery)

Friday on the Square: Jazz Concert with Cashmere Williams and Band

Join friends, family and co-workers to experience Friday on the Square featuring a jazz concert by Cashmere Williams and his band on Friday, April 28 at 6 p.m.   
Cashmere Williams has become one of the most prominent musicians in the Southeast. He has recorded three albums on Lenoah Records Label established in 1998. He started playing the guitar in church at the young age of seven years old where he honed his skills and learned how to interact with different musicians. In 1995, he was accepted into Berkley College of Music on a partial scholarship where he majored in composition and arranging while studying with world-class musicians. In 2003, he was asked to back Ruben Studdard and began touring nationally appearing on shows like: The David Letterman Show, The Ellen DeGeneres show, the Jay Leno Show, The View, and many more. After three years on the road, Cashmere slowed down so he could focus on spending time with his newly born daughter Harmonie Williams which spawned his latest release “New Birth” Presently, cashmere’s working on publishing his first book due for release in 2016.
“Police Chief Tommie Reese encouraged the arts council to contact Cashmere Williams for a jazz concert on Public Square,” says Two Rivers Arts Council President Carolyn Cowling. “Last year’s concert was a huge success and the weather was perfect. I think our community is in for an entertaining night of music!”
The event is sponsored by the Two Rivers Arts Council.  The event is free and the public is encouraged to bring coolers, chairs, and blankets for this night of jazz in Public Square in historic, downtown Demopolis. In the event of rain, the concert will be moved to the Marengo County History and Archives Museum located behind The Mustard Seed in the Rosenbush Building.
We encourage everyone in Marengo County to support the arts by becoming a member of the Two Rivers Arts Council.  An Individual membership is $25 and a patron membership that includes two membership cards is $60. For more information contact Judy Etheridge at 334-295-4254  or visit us on Facebook.

Photo of the Day

Logan Boone (left) and his fiancé Amber Nelson near the finish line during the Cock’s Crow 5K run on Rooster Day in Demopolis. Boone and Nelson each placed second in their respective divisions. (WAW | Michael Clements)

Demopolis In Bloom hosting 2017 Symposium

Demopolis In Bloom will host its 2017 Symposium at the Demopolis Civic Center, beginning at 9 a.m. on Thursday, March 30.

Teresa Johnson of Johnson’s Garden and Cafe in Duncanville will be speaking about Southern Living Shrubs and plants that grown in the Demopolis area. Mike Randall of BWI will be speaking about turf maintenance for the homeowner. Jane Watson will be speaking about and demonstrating how to establish a cut flower garden.

Demopolis In Bloom is sponsored by Collins Communications, George Franks, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Evans and Barbara Blevins. The symposium is offered at no charge to the public.

Final Ride: Lt. Chris Foster laid to rest Monday

They came from Linden, Jefferson, Dixon’s Mills, Sweet Water and Old Spring Hill – where he had served as a volunteer for so many years. Red trucks with sirens blaring driven by men and women in the formal attire of their respective department. Some came because they knew him. Others came because they knew what his loss meant. They all recognized that they had lost a fellow member of the great fraternity of firefighters.

Lt. Chris Foster of the Demopolis Fire and Rescue Department passed away in his sleep in the early morning hours of March 23, the day after his birthday and just hours after having worked what proved to be his final call.

“He was 150 percent dedicated in everything he did, with his family and with his fire department family. He gave 150 percent. He was a person you could always count on. He would be here,” DFRD Chief Vernon Waters said of Foster, who joined the Demopolis department in 1994. “With 23 years experience and 150 percent dedication, that’s the hole he is leaving in this department. We’re going to miss him dearly.”

Waters strained to keep his emotions in check as he told of Foster’s firehouse brethren the day following his death.

“It has been tough, very tough,” Waters said. “We asked if anybody wanted to stand and say anything and nobody could do it. That’s how much he brought to this department.”

A pair of ladder trucks stretch the Old Glory across the funeral procession of Demopolis Fire and Rescue Department’s Lt. Chris Foster’s funeral procession Monday.

Foster first came to the Demopolis Fire and Rescue Department on a part-time basis while he was working with Cemex. And, despite more than two decades of full-time service in the City of the People, he continued to volunteer with the Old Spring Hill Volunteer Fire Department.

“He got it on his own. When he first started, he worked at Cemex and he worked part time with us. He just loved it so much he just took it on,” Waters said of Foster’s passion for fires service. “He put his two-week notice in and came to work with us and he has been here ever since.”

While it may be hard to pinpoint exactly from where Foster’s love of fire service was born, those who knew him showed little hesitation in pointing toward the genesis of his love of serving others.

“Chris taught my son to drive the firetruck working with the Old Spring Hill Fire Department. Very, very highly respected and thought of by my son and my family. He was a very, very outstanding man growing up, willing to help anybody, go beyond the call of duty when it was necessary,” Shirley Sprinkle Etheridge (South Marengo Fire and Rescue), who had known Foster since his high school days, said. “He was an honest, upstanding man. He stood up for what he believed in, always went forth with all effort possible to accomplish his goals that he set out for. He always looked back and always said that he wanted his kids to be proud of him and his wife to stand by him. In order to do that, he had to be honest, upright, Christian. He was raised with a good family because his family in the past have always been Christian people. His mother and dad always took care of the boys, and always raised them right with good, moral upbringing.”

Photo by Blythe Smith – Fire service vehicles from Demopolis and neighboring agencies filled the front lot of Fairhaven Baptist Church Monday morning as firefighters from throughout the area paid their respects to Demopolis Fire Department’s Lt. Chris Foster who passed away in his sleep March 23.

Billy Carlisle, himself dedicated to fire service in various forms, forlornly remembered the days when he first became acquainted with the man he would later regard as both professional peer and personal friend.

“I was probably 12, 13 years old when I met Chris. I was going to Linden Baptist Church and Chris was very active with the youth department and helping out with the kids. I’ve known Chris just as being a guy who loved to mentor younger kids, help them get a direction in life, especially in the teenage years,” Carlisle recalled of Foster, who many remember as having a disarming smile that both welcomed the world in. “He was always community minded. I really knew him more from the volunteer fire department than I did from the professional fire department just because of his commitment to his community. Chris was always active in the fire service. And he got married, had children and he has been a great father.”

Foster is regarded as having loved life in the simplest, most profound ways; his passion for service perhaps being equaled only by his love of his family.

“He always had little small, odd hobbies. One that stands out to me is beekeeping. He did honeybees. Just recently in the last few years got into that. He was passionate about it. He took on those hobbies mainly just to help his kids get interested in nature,” Carlisle, who works with the Alabama Forestry Commission, said. “Being in the Forestry Commission, he was always asking me different things about trees and wanted to teach his kids more about the outdoors. Chris was always just a genuine person, a trustworthy person, a good friend.”

Fire engines lined the front wall of Fairhaven Baptist Church as the funeral was taking place Monday morning. Demopolis Police Department officers stood in salute as the procession headed toward Foster’s final resting place at Demopolis Memorial Gardens. Several citizens stood next to their vehicles in the highway and somberly placed hand over heart in homage to the passing of a lifelong servant.

The Demopolis Fire and Rescue Department expressed sorrow and gratitude through its Facebook page Monday as local agencies helped DFRD members assist Foster with his final ride.

“The Demopolis Fire/Rescue Department would like to thank everyone for their support during the late Lt. Chris Foster’s funeral procession today. Fire departments, Police departments, Sheriffs and State Troopers from around Marengo County, neighboring counties, and the state come together as Brothers and Sisters to give Lt. Foster his final ride! To the City of Linden, City of Livingston, City of Tuscaloosa and the City of Northport, we can’t thank you’ll enough for covering our city so we could attend the funeral,” the Facebook post read. “Today was a very emotional and sad day for all of us but Lt. Foster looked down and smiled to see all of this take place in his honor.”

Foster, who died the morning after his 54th birthday, leaves behind a wife, Vanya Maria Wilson Foster; daughters, Mary Azilee (13), Rebekah Phares (6 months) and Sarah Ruth (six months) and son, Matthew Lane (11).

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.