Thomaston holding town-wide yard sale

Sweet Water at No. 2 to open ASWA preseason football poll

(Photo by Johnny Autery)
Sweet Water coach Pat Thompson instructs his team during the first day of fall practice Monday. The Bulldogs are the highest ranked squad in the county, debuting at No. 2 in the ASWA preseason poll.

Changes abound as Marengo County high schools ready for the 2017 football season. A year marked by turnover at the top, four of the six high school football teams in the county have welcomed new head coaches.

In Class 5A, Brian Seymore is in from Class 7A Mary Montgomery and his Tigers debut in the Alabama Sports Writers Association preseason poll on the outside looking in. The Tigers, who were 7-4 a season ago, are the highest vote getter in the classification not to make the Top 10. Joining them in the “others receiving votes” category are notable powers Russellville, Jackson, Charles Henderson and Mortimer Jordan as well as region foe Calera. Topping the Class 5A ranking is reigning champion Beauregard, which received 23 of 31 first place votes. Briarwood Christian is No. 2 and garnered three first place votes. St. Paul’s received two first place votes and sits at No. 3.

Reigning champ and perennial power Maplesville tops the Class 1A poll with 29 first place votes. But Marengo County is well represented in the AHSAA’s smallest classification as three school populate the Top 10. Sweet Water sits at No. 2 off a 9-3 season saw them finish in the quarterfinal round. They tallied 261 total points, putting them just ahead of Linden. The Patriots, who are in their first season under new head coach Demetrice Jackson, were 13-1 a season ago and ended their campaign in the semifinals. Marengo High pulls in at No. 9 in the preseason poll, just one point ahead of No. 10 Notasulga. Eberne Myrthil’s Panthers were 6-5 last season and lost a thrilling first round playoff game to Brantley.

Marengo Academy has been a dominant force in the AISA and looks to continue that trend in 2017. New coach Lebo Jones and his team will have to earn every bit of respect they get this season as the Longhorns are well outside of the Top 10 in the “others receiving votes” category following an offseason permeated with coaching questions before the late hire of the new head man.

A.L. Johnson, which saw the departure of Johnney Ford two weeks ago and the hiring of Roosevelt Moore late last week, is the lone Marengo County team not mentioned in the preseason poll.

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL POLL Preseason – Aug. 9, 2017

(First-place votes and 2016 record in parentheses)

 Class 7A
1. Hoover (29) (12-2) 366
2. Central-Phenix City (1) (10-2) 261
3. Thompson (5-5) 229
4. Hewitt-Trussville (1) (11-1) 191
5. James Clemens (8-4) 179
6. McGill-Toolen (13-1) 171
7. Spain Park (8-3) 114
8. Bob Jones (7-4) 83
9. Auburn (8-4) 64
10. Enterprise (10-2) 56
Others receiving votes: Gadsden City (7-6) 22, Mountain Brook (8-3) 10, Vestavia Hills (5-5) 8, Lee-Montgomery (0-9) 5, Murphy (6-5) 5, Sparkman (4-6) 3.

Class 6A
1. Ramsay (18) (13-2) 297
2. Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa (4) (11-1) 233
3. Blount (1) (10-3) 201
4. Austin (2) (10-4) 194
5. Opelika (13-2) 184
6. Pinson Valley (5) (8-4) 180
7. Oxford (10-1) 155
8. Daphne (1) (9-3) 108
9. Muscle Shoals (7-6) 76
10. Park Crossing (13-1) 44
Others receiving votes: Spanish Fort (10-3) 43, Gardendale (8-4) 12, Hazel Green (6-4) 8, Jackson-Olin (8-3) 8, Clay-Chalkville (6-5) 5, Sidney Lanier (8-3) 5, Wetumpka (8-3) 5, Decatur (10-2) 4, Saraland (6-5) 3, McAdory (8-4) 1, Pell City (6-5) 1.

Class 5A
1. Beauregard (26) (13-1) 350
2. Briarwood Chr. (3) (12-2) 270
3. St. Paul’s (2) (9-4) 260
4. Vigor (8-4) 183
T5. Alexandria (5-4) 127
T5. Carroll (12-1) 127
7. Central-Clay Co. (9-3) 97
8. Wenonah (11-3) 90
9. Eufaula (8-3) 87
10. Brooks (9-3)56
Others receiving votes:  Demopolis (7-4) 25, Russellville (8-4) 19, Jackson (9-4) 15, Charles Henderson (7-4) 11, Mortimer Jordan (10-3) 10, Scottsboro (12-1) 10, Etowah (9-3) 9, Calera (8-4) 7, Guntersville (6-5) 6, Fairfield (7-5) 5, Pleasant Grove (4-7) 2, Moody (4-6) 1.

Class 4A
1. Handley (29) (13-2) 365
2. Andalusia (12-2) 257
3. Madison Acad. (11-4) 188
4. UMS-Wright (1) (9-3) 172
5. Rogers (12-1) 162
6. Leeds (1) (8-4) 142
7. St. James (10-2) 101
8. Hokes Bluff (9-5)  80
9. Cordova (9-3) 74
10. Fayette Co. (5-7) 61
Others receiving votes: Tallassee (9-4) 54, Cherokee Co. (10-3) 26, Wilson (8-3) 25, Madison Co. (6-5) 19, Thomasville (9-3) 12, Bibb Co. (8-4) 7, Dale Co. (7-4) 7, North Jackson (6-5) 6, Munford (6-5) 4, West Blocton (6-5) 3, Haleyville (9-2) 2.

Class 3A
1. Piedmont (27) (15-0) 351
2. Mobile Chr. (3) (13-2) 271
3. Gordo (1) (13-1) 268
4. Ohatchee (12-2) 165
5. Montevallo (10-2) 162
6. Opp (9-2) 110
7. Oakman (8-5) 109
8. Pike Co. (9-3) 85
9. Weaver (9-4) 72
10. Randolph Co. (10-3) 59
Others receiving votes: Clarke Co. (4-6) 43, Hillcrest-Evergreen (5-7) 24, Lauderdale Co. (7-5) 12, T.R. Miller (8-3) 12, Fultondale (8-3) 9, Bayside Acad. (8-5) 5, Plainview (6-5) 4, Wicksburg (8-4) 4, Lexington (8-4) 1, Straughn (4-6) 1.

Class 2A
1. Fyffe (28) (15-0) 354
2. Aliceville (1) (13-2) 272
3. Lanett (1) (11-3) 230
4. Elba (10-3) 225
5. G.W. Long (1) (12-1) 154
6. Tanner (9-4) 128
7. LaFayette (12-1) 125
8. Leroy (8-4) 110
9. New Brockton (7-5) 52
10. Sand Rock (9-3) 43
Others receiving votes: Reeltown (6-5) 17, Sheffield (9-3) 13, Goshen (8-4) 12, Southern Choctaw (10-2) 12, Cleveland (8-4) 5, Washington Co. (6-4) 5, Horseshoe Bend (6-5) 4, Cold Springs (5-6) 2, Westbrook Chr. (3-7) 2, Luverne (7-4) 1, Red Bay (8-3) 1.

Class 1A
1. Maplesville (29) (14-0) 365
2. Sweet Water (9-3) 261
3. Linden (2) (13-1) 246
4. Pickens Co. (11-4) 210
5. Brantley (7-5) 166
6. Addison (13-1) 110
7. Cedar Bluff (8-4) 107
8. Spring Garden (10-2) 79
9. Marengo (6-5) 50
10. Notasulga (7-5) 49
Others receiving votes: Hackleburg (9-3) 30, Houston Co. (6-5) 22, Loachapoka (3-8) 13, Georgiana (12-1) 12, Wadley (10-1) 12, Decatur Heritage (10-3) 10, Isabella (10-2) 10, Ragland (7-4) 5, Sumiton Chr. (9-3) 3, Hubbertville (10-2) 2 South Lamar (6-5) 2, Millry (4-7) 1, Talladega Co. Central (4-6) 1, Woodville (5-6) 1.

1. Autauga Acad. (28) (13-0) 353
2. Bessemer Acad. (2) (13-1) 283
3. Escambia Acad.  (8-5) 247
4. Monroe Acad. (1) (11-2) 215
5. Glenwood (8-4) 185
6. South Choctaw Acad.  (8-3) 139
7. Chambers Acad. (12-1) 127
8. Abbeville Chr. (7-6) 77
9. Pike Liberal (6-5) 49
10. Lee-Scott (7-5) 41
Others receiving votes: Clarke Prep (4-8) 21, Patrician (5-6) 14, Cornerstone Chr. (8-3) 5, Marengo Acad. (11-1) 5, Southern Acad. (4-7) 4, Lakeside (5-6) 1, Lowndes Acad. (8-3) 1.

The Alabama Sports Writers Association prep committee members are: Paul Beaudry (Chairman), Alabama Media Group; Lizi Arbogast, Alexander City Outlook; Josh Dutton, Andalusia Star-News; Joe Medley, Anniston Star; Andrew Garner, Atmore Advance; Gary Estwick, Birmingham News; Rob Rice, Blount Countian; Shannon Fagan, Cherokee Herald; Ross Wood, Clarke Co. Democrat; Jake Winfrey, Cullman Times; Johnathan Bentley, Daily Mountain Eagle; Justin Graves, Decatur Daily; Nicholas Finch, Demopolis Times; David Mundee, Dothan Eagle; Lee Peacock, Evergreen Courant; Craig Thomas, Florence TimesDaily; Cody Dowler, Fort Payne Times-Journal; Jeremy Smith, Freelance (Demopolis); Chris McCarthy, Gadsden Messenger; J.J. Hicks, Gadsden Times; Daniel Boyette, Huntsville Times; Ben Thomas, Mobile Press-Register; Stacy Long, Montgomery Advertiser; Scott Fields, Opelika-Auburn News; Shannon Allen, Sand Mountain Reporter; Jason Bowen, Scottsboro Daily Sentinel; Thomas Scott, Selma Times-Journal; Alec Etheridge, Shelby County Reporter; Lavonte Young, Talladega Daily Home; Joey Chandler, Tuscaloosa News; Evan Dudley, Wetumpka Herald.


Marengo County 4-H S.A.F.E. shooting sports programs begin new year

School is back in session and the new 4-H year is in full swing!  Youth ages 9-18 have several opportunities to participate in 4-H Shooting Sports in Marengo County.  We offer 4-H Clubs in the areas of Rifle (BB and Air Rifle) and Archery.  Certified instructors lead the clubs, and equipment is available for use. There is no cost for the clubs. 4-H Youth will learn basic firearm safety as well as life-skills such as teamwork, patience and personal discipline.  At the end of the season, club members will have the opportunity to compete with other 4-H youth from across the state. Clubs will meet at the Marengo County Extension Office in Linden, AL.  The address is 2400 East Coats Avenue. For more information, call Beth Yates at 334-750-4964.

Opportunities include…

4-H Basic Rifle Class– Mondays in September from 5:00 pm-6:30 pm. This class will cover the basics of rifle safety and marksmanship.  Call 334-295-5959 to sign your 4-H youth up for this class and find out more details.

4-H BB Rifle Club– First Monday night of the month from 5:00 pm until 7:00 pm when school is in session. (October-March)

4-H Air Rifle Club– Thursday nights from 6:00 pm-7:30 pm when school is in session (October-March)

4-H Archery Club– Tuesdays in January after school from 3:30 until 5:00.

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.

In Memoriam: Thomaston loses hidden gem in William Gebhardt

By Bruce Gwin

William Gebhardt.

Many people won’t recognize that name. Some knew his face and never knew exactly who he was or what he did.

Pool table man. Rock-Ola man, or machine man was what some called him. Many would say he was a recluse since he didn’t mingle with the Thomaston locals, or any locals, for that matter.

At age 13, he stopped me as I was walking home from school one day in the one-stoplight town of Thomaston. He said he’d seen me around town doing my odd-jobs…delivering papers, cutting grass, really anything I could find to do to make a dime. He told me he needed some help and of course I was willing since I needed money, being an ambitious teen.

My job would be the real work—unloading and loading Pac-Man machines, moving equipment, assembling new machines—all the stuff he didn’t want to do. We would make rounds to the locations where he had machines in the juke joints of Marengo, Greene, Perry, and Sumter Counties to count coins, refill cigarette machines, fix pool tables, and put the latest 45s on the jukebox…and sometimes, we wouldn’t roll back into Thomaston until 2 a.m.

I soon learned William was not only a shrewd businessman, but an electronics genius. Often, he’d get a call from the Rock-Ola factory technician to find solutions for a problem they couldn’t fix, and William not only knew the problem, but knew exactly how to fix it.

He was raised in Orrville by his grandparents and quit school in the 10th grade to become the local TV repairman as a teen.

Rumor has it that he accidentally set his grandparents’ porch on fire while making fireworks.

He told me his teacher sent him home early one day because he wasn’t paying attention in class. When she asked him why, he told her he already knew everything she was lecturing on—and truthfully, as we all learned, he probably did.

William was a walking encyclopedia, had a photographic memory, and still managed to stay current on modern technology till his death.

While he was a relatively unknown law-abiding citizen of Thomason, Gebhardt’s expert knowledge and keen mind will be missed by all those who were fortunate enough to know him.

Marengo, Linden advance in 1A, Area 4 girls tourney

LINDEN – The high seeds advanced through the first round of the Class 1A, Area 4 girls tournament Monday evening. Marengo High, the tournament’s No. 2 seed, opened with a thrilling 61-57 win over county rival A.L. Johnson.

In a game that saw Marengo open a nine-point lead early, Akayla McGhee continually pulled her team back into the contest. The sophomore pulled off a steal with 2:28 to play in the game and dished off to Dinecia McGhee for a layup to cut it to 57-52. She then hit a free throw and later connected on a put-back layup to make it 57-55. The Lady Eagles could pull no closer as LaKisha Lucy hit a free throw with 5.7 left to put the game away for Marengo. Lucy previously made a buzzer-beating three to end the third quarter and stretch the advantage to nine points.

Freshman J’Mya Hall paced Marengo with 27 points, eight steals and six rebounds. Iesha Bouler added 20 points and 12 rebounds. Kadijah Crispin added six points, 11 rebound and six steals.

Akayla McGhee spearheaded the effort for ALJ with 24 points and 25 rebounds. Danicia McGhee added 13 points and four rebounds. Ja’Lani Mair had nine rebound and five steals.

A.L. Johnson ends its season at 4-9. Marengo (6-12) heads to the title game Friday night where it will face top-seeded Linden.

Linden 66, Sweet Water 26

The Lady Patriots romped in their first round win over Sweet Water, downing the Lady Bulldogs 66-26. Linden relied upon its press to storm out of the gate to a 20-0 lead. Linden led 26-3 after one quarter of play and stretched the advantage to 47-11 at half. Linden played its starters sparingly after the first quarter.

Amber Richardson finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds. Tomysha Boykin had 20 points. Imiya Agee had six points and six assists. Dajia Miller had six points and five steals.

Sweet Water gave heavy minutes to all six of its players. Gabby Cassity led her team with 14 points including four three-pointers. She also had three steals. Skylar Robertson had 13 rebounds while Shakedra Brothers grabbed 12 boards.

Sweet Water finishes its season at 4-12. Linden (19-4) eyes an Area 4 title tilt with Marengo Friday.

Photo of the Day



Thomaston Mayor Jeff Laduron, center, takes the oath of office for his third consecutive term on Monday, Nov. 7. Issuing the oath is Marengo County District Court Judge Vince Deas, left, and accompanying Laduron is Thomaston Baptist Church pastor David Traywick. (WAW | Contributed)

Municipal elections from around the county

Incumbent Charles Moore faces a runoff election for the mayor of Linden with challenger Kenneth Barrineau.

Moore had a total of 299 votes to Barrineau’s 328 in municipal elections Tuesday. The third candidate, Frank Lankster, received 54 votes.

In the Linden District 1 city council race, Jan Cannon won with 80 votes to Denny Baynham’s 42. In District 2, Mike Smith won with 82 votes, and his opponent, Johnathan Owens, had 40. Jimmy Pope, with 63 votes, and Milton Vick, with 54, will meet in the runoff for District 5. The third candidate, Robbie Smith, had 45 votes.

Linden saw 38 percent of its 1,800 eligible voters turn out for the election.

The town of Thomaston had only one race, for city council District 1. Peggy Pritchett garnered 40 votes to challenger Heath McClure with 6, out of the 60 eligible voters in the district.

In Myrtlewood, incumbent Jane Vick will remain as mayor after receiving 49 voters to the 18 earned by her challenger, Joseph Beverly.

Thomaston has 109 eligible voters on the roll, but a town spokesman said some 15 or 20 have moved away but not removed their names from the list.

Thomaston municipal election results


Jeff Laduron (I)(unopposed)

District 1

Peggy Pritchett (I) – 40

Heath McClure – 6

District 2

Jason Stokes (I)(unopposed)

District 3

W.L. Drake (I)(unopposed)

District 4

Bernard Cade (I)(unopposed)

District 5

Eddie Jones (I)(unopposed)

A.L. Johnson players deliver donuts to law enforcement

A.L. Johnson football coach Johnney Ford along with players Leo Baker and Deaundra Bridges pictured with Demopolis Police Department officers Scott Cannon and Don Johnson.

A.L. Johnson football coach Johnney Ford along with players Leo Baker and Deaundra Bridges pictured with Demopolis Police Department officers Scott Cannon and Don Johnson.

As the A.L. Johnson Eagles ready to kick off their 2016 football season, Johnney Ford is working to ensure his team is engaged in character development. Ford, the football and basketball coach of the Thomaston-based Class 1A school, and the Eagles launched their Eagle Giveback initiative Monday by delivering Krispy Kreme donuts to law enforcement officers around the county.

“Eagle Giveback is something we are trying to do to make sure our players are thinking about others and are aware of all the great many people that support them,” Ford said. “We spent the day delivering donuts to the sheriff’s office and all of the police departments in the county. Our police officers do such a great job of protecting us and being there to support us at our games.”

Ford explained that the initiative is part of a larger goal of instilling good citizenship within his players while preparing them for life beyond athletics.

A.L. Johnson, a member of Class 1A, Region 4, is set to open its regular season Friday, Aug. 19 when it hosts R.C. Hatch.