UMC Demopolis to hold open house Thursday

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A chartered Delta Airlines Boeing 757 departs Tuscaloosa on Friday afternoon carrying the University of Alabama football team and staff to Dallas, Tx.

Rural Health Scholars visit Bryan Whitfield Memorial Hospital

bwwmh - studentsStudents from across the state visited Bryan Whitfield Memorial Hospital Monday as part of the University of Alabama’s Rural Health Scholars program. They are shown with Dr. James Leeper of the University’s College of Community Health Services. The Rural Health Scholars program allows 25 rising high school seniors from rural counties to live on-campus for five weeks during the summer, taking two classes for college credit and exploring career opportunities in healthcare.

Family of Tre Jones files $10 million wrongful death suit

Tre Jones (left) poses with teammate Larry Cobb in the locker room of Bryant-Denny Stadium following the Demopolis High Tigers' 2009 Class 5A state championship win. Jones drowned during a riverboat sorority party in April 2012.

Tre Jones (left) poses with teammate Larry Cobb in the locker room of Bryant-Denny Stadium following the Demopolis High Tigers’ 2009 Class 5A state championship win. Jones drowned during a riverboat sorority party in April 2012.

TUSCALOOSA — The family of the late Charles “Tre” Jones III has filed a wrongful death suit in the amount of $10 million.

Jones, who was a Demopolis High graduate and student at the University of Alabama during the time of his death, drowned in the Black Warrior River April 5, 2012 when he fell from the Bama Belle Riverboat during a sorority party.

According to the lawsuit, Charles Jones Jr., a city councilman in Demopolis, is seeking damages from the former owners of the riverboat, the sorority and the security company that staffed the party.

Birmingham attorney James Moncus III is handling the case and wrote in the lawsuit that Tre, who was only 20 when the incident occurred, was allowed to drink underage.

The suit goes on to state that Tre’ died of drowning and acute alcohol intoxication, noting that his blood-alcohol content was 0.133 according to the autopsy and toxicology report.

The lawsuit also states that those in charge of the event failed to stop the boat and alert authorities as soon as possible once Tre went overboard. Tre’s body was found in the river the following day.

The lawsuit was filed at 6:30 p.m. Friday, just a day before the statute of limitations for a wrongful death lawsuit would have run out in Alabama.

Andy Phillips headlines Marengo Hall of Fame inductees

Rain and cold didn’t keep the crowds away as several hundred sports fans gathered in the Demopolis Civic Center Monday night for the sixth annual Marengo County Sports Hall of Fame banquet.

Honored were five men whose sports careers began in the county. Joining them were nine inductees from previous years, team members, coaches, friends and family.

Before the five were honored, Dr. Tony Speegle, a member of the board of directors, presented the fifth annual Hall of Fame $1,000 scholarship to Joseph Sammons of Marengo Academy. Sammons was a member of the 2013 state championship football team. Robby James and Webb Tutt, the team’s coaches, were recognized.

Also introduced were team members and cheerleaders from the 1967 Thomaston High School Tigers. The team was the 1A State Champions with a record 12-0.

John Mosley, a 2011 Hall of Fame inductee, introduced the first of the 2014 class, John Atkins. “Everything to be a great coach, he had,” said Mosley.

Coaching both the Marengo County High School Tigers and the Linden Red Devils, Atkins played and made all-county in all three major sports while in high school in Gorgas. He went on to play four years at Livingston State on a football scholarship and was awarded the Billy Walker Memorial Award for Sportsmanship his senior year in 1958.

In accepting the award, Atkins congratulated the 1967 Thomaston team and said the teams in Marengo County make up “one of those strong communities that don’t like to play each other.”

Atkins continued, “I’ve had a good time coaching, I’ve made a lot of good friends, I have a fine family.”

Dr. Robert “Bobby” Barr was introduced by his brother, Terry Barr, who joked that his little brother “had to get tough or die” while playing sports growing up in Linden.

The Hall of Fame, said the inductee, is a worthy endeavor and “serves as an example of the heritage we have in Marengo County. There are so many who were my idols who are here.”

Barr played on three undefeated Linden football teams and on two state championship teams. The school lost only four games in the five years he played running back on offense and cornerback and safety on defense.

Highly recruited, he signed a scholarship in 1967 to Georgia Tech where he played several positions during his four years there. He and his wife Mary reside in Tallahassee, Fla., where Bobby has coached youth baseball, softball and soccer teams.

Also from Linden, Tim Drinkard played three sports at Marengo Academy. He was introduced by his friend and former Auburn University teammate Rusty Dean, who joked, “I can tell you he’s the same person today he was 34 years ago, arrogant and cocky.”

“I was very fortunate that I was raised to work hard by my mom, Pat Drinkard” and his late father, said Drinkard. “Looking back on everything, I wouldn’t trade all the blood and guts for anything.”

Drinkard played two years at Livingston University on a football scholarship, and then walked on at Auburn University. He was voted the top defensive back in the spring of 1981. After graduation, he worked as a graduate assistant to offensive coordinator Jack Crowe, where he worked with the quarterbacks. The team finished ranked No. 3 in the nation. He and his wife Linda make their home in Auburn.

Clifton McKnight spent almost 30 years as a coach at Demopolis High School, leading the 1986 baseball team to the state championship. Eddie Ousley, a member of that team, touched on several of McKnight’s accomplishments as he introduced him.

McKnight excelled at Marengo County High School in baseball, basketball and football. His senior year, McKnight, as quarterback, led his team to an undefeated 1-A State Championship in the first playoff system.

McKnight recalled his championship year at DHS. The team went 11-12 during the regular season but won the area. In the playoffs, the team always advanced through the losers’ bracket and had to come from behind to win their games.

“Any success that I’ve had is the direct result of the players and coaches and divine intervention,” he said.

After graduating from Auburn, McKnight was named the head baseball coach at Wilcox County High School where he developed the first baseball team in school history. His second year, the team made it to the area playoffs.

During his coaching in Demopolis he brought youth baseball camps to the city of Demopolis, and was also invited to work baseball camps for Auburn University. He and his wife, Martha make their home in Dayton.

Former New York Yankee Andy Phillips was introduced by his Demopolis Academy coach Sid Atkins. Phillips, he said, “is an outstanding athlete, but a better person than an athlete.”

Phillips now is the batting coach at the University of Alabama and volunteers with a non-profit baseball camp ministry.

“I have more joy coaching young men that I ever had playing,” he said.

As a player for UA, Phillips held the record in eight statistical categories and was a four-year starter on three College World Series Teams, four SEC Tournament Championship teams and one regular SEC Championship squad.

Drafted by the New York Yankees in 1999, he played 13 years of professional baseball. He and his wife Bethany, and their 5-year old daughter, Isaiah Jewel, reside in Buhl.