Demopolis BOE holds first meeting of new academic year

Praising Demopolis City Schools for an “extremely smooth start,” School Supt. Kyle Kallhoff said it was the best he has experienced in his 20 years in education.

At the Board of Education meeting Monday, Kallhoff said the work on the buildings and the efforts by the teachers and administrators were reflected in the ease back into the school year for the system’s 2,300 students.

He showed the board a three-minute video of the first day of school at all four campuses.

The superintendent told board members the system is fully staffed with the exception of a nine-month custodian at Demopolis High School.

That said, the board still had work to do to complete the start-up for the 2017-2018 year, beginning with the need to advertise for a part-tiime LPN for Demopolis Middle School.

The 20-hour per week position is needed, Kallhoff said, because the health needs of the students have grown. The RN at the high school cannot divide her time among schools because of the increased number of students with diabetes at DHS.

Evelyn James, the CFO of the school system, said revenues are up by $883,000 over the same time in 2016, while expenses have decreased by $29,000. She said the system has 3.11 months of revenue in reserve. The state Board of Education requires a minimum of one month.

Her report was followed by the state auditor, Emily Tyler, reporting no problems found in the audit done for the 2015-2016 year.

To keep revenue flowing into the school system, the board approved a resolution presented by Kallhoff to petition the Marengo County Commission to consider a renewal of a three mill tax for District 2, which includes the city of Demopolis. The tax requires voter approval for renewal every 10 years. He asked members of the board to attend the Sept. 12 meeting of the Commission when he presents the request for the tax renewal.

First readings were held for two board policy changes, both required by the Alabama legislature. The first, the Jason Flatt Act, involves youth suicide awareness and prevention. It calls for employees to receive annual training to identify characteristics of students who may be considering suicide.

The Religious Liberties policy requires that there will be no discrimination of students or their parents for religious beliefs. A public hearing for both policies will be held Thursday, Sept. 7, beginning at 9:30 a.m.

Also approved by the board was a lease agreement with TEQlease for Impero Computer Monitoring Software. Kallhoff said the five-year lease, at $5,000 per year, would serve the school system in three ways:

First, it would allow the monitoring computers to restrict use to certain websites, preventing users from visiting inappropriate sites. Second would be a time-saving feature, allowing IT to install programs in multiple computers from one base unit instead of having to install programs individually.

The third feature allows those monitoring the use of school computers to flag any words or searches that could pose any dangers.

In other action the board approved:

  • The Equipment Financing Agreement with Government Capital Corporation for the Active Panel Promethian installation project.
  • Renewal of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Demopolis Police Department for two School Resource Officers. The school system will pay half their salaries.
  • A hold harmless agreement with the DPD for the use of the DMS football field for National Night Out on Sept. 12.
  • Contract for Susan Hollinger to provide psychometrist services to administer testing for special education and gifted students.
  • Overnight and/or out-of-state trips for the DHS cross country team Sept. 16 and Sept. 30 to Meridian, Miss., and Nov. 10-11 to Moulton.

Personnel matters included:

  • Hiring Rebecca Hasty as bookkeeper at DMS.
  • Substitute hiring of Annie Collins and Betsy Stephens.
  • Head tennis coach changed from Sam Mosley to Dana Hill.
  • Maternity leave request for Whitney Mosley, USJ, to begin Feb. 18, 2018.
  • Maternity leave request for Kristi Stokes, USJ, to begin Jan. 3, 2018.
  • Family medical leave request for Tammi Western-Scott, DMS teacher.
  • Katrina Sprinkle as long-term substitute for Western-Scott.
  • Rodney Lewis as DMS assistant football coach for supplement of $1,189.
  • Norvie Womack as DMS athletic director for supplement of $1,400.
  • Name correction from Aug. 2 personnel report from Javalynn Williams to Javalynn Wilson Henderson.
  • In a special called meeting Wednesday, Aug. 2, the board accepted the resignation of Annette Gwin, the DHS culinary arts instructor. Gwin had been a teacher in the system for 16 years.

The superintendent set public hearings for the 2017-2018 budget For Sept. 7 at 10 a.m. and Sept. 11 at 4:30 p.m., followed by a called meeting at 5 p.m. to approve the budget.

He also invited board members to attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony Sept. 15 at 9 a.m. for the new Pre-K program at Westside Elementary School.

At the same time there will be dedication of wooden planter boxes. The brainchild of a UWA student, the boxes were constructed by Cemex employees. Three have been placed at all four campuses.

The next regularly scheduled board meeting will be Monday, Sept. 18, at 5:15 p.m.

Deer management workshop set for Aug. 18

An “Intense Deer Management Workshop” for Blackbelt area landowners is planned for Friday, Aug. 18, at the Blackbelt Regional Research and Extension Center in Marion Junction,

Registration will begin at 9 a.m., and the program will start at 9:20 a.m.

Program topics will include: Understanding the relationship between deer, deer populations and habitat, how invasive plants kill good habitat and what to do about them; habitat management to provide what deer need year round; the management of food plots, including what, when and where to plant; how to conduct camera surveys and interpret data, and the effectiveness of predation and predator management.

A registration fee of $20 is required in advance. Seating is limited, and lunch and breaks are provided.  To properly plan for lunch, please call and RSVP before the deadline of 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 16.

This program qualifies for Continuing Education Credits, (5) PLM hours, SAF and CFE, 3 hours CAT (1), and one hour of CAT (2) credits.

McCampbell talks redistricting with Demopolis Rotary

Armed with maps, Alabama Rep. A.J. McCampbell explained to Demopolis Rotarians Wednesday, July 26 how the latest redistricting in Alabama could further water down the city’s representation in Montgomery if it is accepted.

McCampbell, representative for District 71, is part of a lawsuit brought against a highly gerrymandered drawing of districts in the state that would go into effect for the 2018 election. The decision is in the hands of the three-judge panel of the 11th Judicial Circuit.

The judges can accept the Republican version, choose a plan submitted by the Black Caucus or even come up with their own.

Currently McCampbell represents portions of six counties in west Alabama, stretching from Choctaw to Tuscaloosa. Under the Republican leadership plan, he would have all of Sumter County, a small part of Marengo, a portion of Green County and a larger section of Tuscaloosa, including some 4-5,000 residents in the southwestern part of the city of Tuscaloosa.

McCampbell, a Democrat, now represents a district with 71 percent African-American voters, he said. The new plan would lower the number to 57 percent; however, 42 percent of all the voters in the district would be in Tuscaloosa, which is up to 90 percent Republican.

“That’s going to be a concern” for him in the election next year. The district could lose a representative to an urban area.

The city of Demopolis is split in two both in the current district set-up and in the Republican plan. “It’s all about keeping a safe district for Republicans,” he told Rotarians.

Voters also must be aware that they will not be able to cross party lines to vote in the primary and run-off elections, he continued. Even though the state doesn’t require a voter to declare a party affiliation, the legislature has passed a bill prohibiting a voter from choosing one party in the primary and another in the run-off.

In many Alabama counties, the majority of local races are among Democrats, while the state offices are Republican. Voters will have to choose whether to vote for local candidates or state ones in the primary.

McCampbell said he introduced a bill in the last session that would place all candidates on the same primary ballot, saving cash-strapped Alabama the expense of a run-off election.

“It didn’t get anywhere because the Republican Party buried it,” he said.

He plans to reintroduce it again this year but doesn’t hold out much hope.

McCampbell touched briefly on two other topics at the meeting. He said the proposed prison bill “died a real interesting death.”

A federal judge has made a ruling about the mental health issues in Alabama prisons, which the state will have to face. “It’s going to cost a lot of money.”

As for the proposed gas tax, “It died a slow death on the House floor” after passing the Senate, he said. It was “a rugged fight” with special interests lined up to lobby their positions.

The gas tax may come back in the regular session, but it is unlikely to be voted on in an election year when no politician wants to raise taxes.

Pine Apple man killed in Wilcox crash

SELMA POST – A single-vehicle crash at 5:25 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 5, claimed the life of a Pine Apple man. Wilson Ross Jr., 61, was killed when the 1999 Dodge Durango he was driving left the roadway and struck several trees. Ross, who was not using a seat belt, was ejected and pronounced dead at the scene. The crash occurred on Alabama 21 near the 83 mile marker, approximately two miles south of Snow Hill. Although circumstances surrounding the crash are still under investigation, alcohol is believed to be a factor. Nothing further is available as Alabama State Troopers continue to investigate.

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

They say there’s one in every crowd. Well, there were two in this crowd. Seniors Demetrius (aka DeDe) Davis and Erin White snag a little extra camera time during Demopolis High School’s media day.

2017 HWY 80 Songwriters Fest (gallery)

Demopolis man charged with murder after Friday shooting

A local man faces murder charges after a shooting left one dead Friday. Demopolis Police Department officers responded to a shooting call at 171 Starmont Road in Gallion Friday. Upon arrival, officers located a female suffering from a gunshot wound. The victim, whose name is being withheld pending notification of her family, later died after having been transported by emergency personnel to Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital.

DPD officers later arrested Dalton Martin Jowers, 19, of Demopolis and charged him with murder in the case. Further details are unavailable at this time as the case remains under investigation.

Sumter duo arrested for burglary in Mississippi

Authorities in Lauderdale County, Mississippi arrested two local men for burglary charges this week. Keenan Law and Quindarius Jackson face charges of burglary after Mississippi investigators say they were caught in the act.

Chief Deputy Ward Calhoun of the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Department indicated that a concerned citizen reported seeing a car slowly towing a lawn mower without a trailer. When deputies pulled the car over, they found that Law and Jackson had taken multiple items from a camp house in the area.

The Lauderdale County office worked alongside the Sumter County Sheriff’s Department late Tuesday to recover more stolen items found at a residence in the Morningstar community. Calhoun indicated that investigators believe the duo had been to the camp house multiple times throughout the day.

Jackson is also charged with possession of cocaine. His bond is set at $20,000. Law’s bond is $10,000.

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 www.naheola.com.

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.