During the noon hour on Thursday, City of West Point and Troup County officials took part in a groundbreaking at the Forest Mill Apartments. Work is well under way at an 80-acre site off Pear Street on West Point's east side. Approximately $11.3 million is being invested in the 80-unit multi-family apartment complex. Project contractor Reed Construction Co. LLC of Bay Minette, Ala., is in the process of building 10 two-story buildings, each containing eight units. There will also be a clubhouse/community building on the site. Construction is expected to be completed by June or July 2015. The one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments will be rented at affordable rates. Eight of them will be at the market rate with 72 falling between $300 and $650 a month. The application process will start next spring. West Point Mayor Drew Ferguson (shown above at center tossing a shovelful of dirt) said the new complex will help fill the gap between poverty housing and middle class homes. a problem that has existed for some time in West Point. On the left are J. Myles Reed, president of Reed Construction Co., and City Manager Ed Moon; at right are Troup County Commission Chairman Richard Wolfe and Cathy Smith, director, DASH Neighborhood Revitalization. (Photo by Wayne Clark)
By WAYNE CLARK
WEST POINT — Construction is well under way at the Forest Mill Apartments, an $11.3 million development on West Point's east side. Work should be finished on the 80-unit complex by June or July or 2015 and at that time West Point will have made some major progress in providing affordable housing for those who aren't wealthy but who are clearly above the poverty line.
"West Point has been struggling to fill the gap between low income and middle class housing," Mayor Drew Ferguson IV said at a Thursday on-site groundbreaking ceremony, "This helps with that."
The event was hosted by the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce. Taking part were city and county officials and representatives of DASH (Decent, Affordable, Safe Housing) of LaGrange.
Going up on the eight-acre site off Pear Street are 10 two-story buildings, each containing eight housing units. There will be 16 one-bedroom units, 40 two-bedroom units and 24 three-bedroom units. Eight of the units will be priced at market rent and 72 of them will be below that. These proposed rents fall between $300 and $500 a month for the one bedroom apartments, between $350 and $600 for the two-bedroom apartments and between $390 and $650 for the three-bedroom apartments.
Each unit will be Earth-Craft certified for energy efficiency, will have mostly brick exteriors, balcony and patio areas and will be fully landscaped. The complex will have such amenities as a swimming pool, equipped picnic areas, a gazebo, playground area, computer room and in-unit dishwashers and in-unit washer/dryer connections.
People interested in becoming Forest Mill residents are being asked to watch for information about the application process. That will probably be getting under way this spring. "We will probably be doing that on-site in a clubhouse area that will be completed by that time," said DASH Director Cathy Smith.
A similar housing complex will be going up on Gabbettville Road, between the Kia-Georgia Training Center and Long Cane Creek. Grading has started on the site, which will have a total of 72 units when the work is done.
"I am very happy and very honored to be here this day," Troup County Commission Chairman Richard Wolfe said at the ceremony. "A lot of planning went into this. There were some trips to Atlanta and collaboration on the part of all the partners involved. I want to thank DASH and West Point city officials. If West Point didn't want us here, we wouldn't be here."
Wolfe thanked Cathy Smith for her role in what is taking place at Forest Mill and commended contractor J. Myles "Bubba" Reed for the way everything is shaping up on the site. Wolfe singled out West Point City Manager Ed Moon on having done great work on getting the project to where it is right now.
He cited the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) for playing an important role in the process. He also thanked Gateway Communities for what they've done. Financing for the project is being provided by the Georgia Housing and Finance Authority and Affordable Equity Partners Inc., both from the Atlanta area.
Mayor Ferguson said the apartment complex will mean a lot to West Point. "It will be a huge help to the citizens here and can serve as a launching point for other projects," he said.
City Manager Moon said it had been a pleasure to work on this project, something that offered so much for the city's future. He thanked the city departments and department heads for the good teamwork they've shown in getting the project to this point.
"West Point has a very knowledgeable staff," said Smith. "There have been a lot of good partners working together on this."
By CY WOOD
LaGRANGE — The Troup County Board of Education approved tax abatements for a new industry coming to LaGrange.
Board Attorney John Taylor explained that the school board was being asked to sign a memorandum of understanding, along with other governmental entities in Troup County, to provide tax abatements for Project Hawkeye. The industry involved will remain unnamed until the agreements are finalized, he said.
The new industry will be a distribution center employing an estimated 125 people, he said. It will build a 534,000-square-foot facility with an investment of $23 million on a 50-acre site that will be acquired by the Development Authority of LaGrange. The authority will lease the property to the company, which will make payments in lieu of taxes of approximately 10 percent of the projected ad valorem taxes for 10 years, at which time the property would be fully taxed.
The tax abatements would begin in 2016, he said.
The board unanimously approved the memorandum of understanding for the project.
In other action at Thursday's meeting the board:
•Was advised that Jennifer Pike, registrar at LaGrange High, will assume the position of registrar/career adviser-high school at THINC College and Career Academy, effective Jan. 2, 2015.
•Heard a financial report that showed the system is operating along budget expectations.
•Heard a report from John Radcliffe, assistant superintendent for maintenance and operations, that participation in the school lunch program is increasing.
•Recognized school bus drivers and school lunch workers, including two school lunch workers at Rosemont Elementary, Mary Alice Sivell and Emma Truitt, who have 56 and 54 years of service, respectively, with the school system. Eight school nutrition associates recognized had a total of 287 years of service, and 17 bus drivers recognized had 436 years of service.
By WAYNE CLARK
VALLEY — This weekend's Autumn Leaves Arts and Crafts Show and Sale at Valley Community Center will be giving many local people an opportunity to showcase their artistic talent. There will be a lot of what might be called conventional art on display. This will be in the form of oil, acrylic or watercolor painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, pottery, glasswork and the like.
There will also be some artists exhibiting unusual works of art. Some of the most unusual items at the show will be handcrafted items made by 15-year-old folk artist Stewart Massey. Rather than making art works with paint and a canvas, Stewart makes them out of aluminum cans, tree branches and discarded buttons.
He's truly gifted at it, and some of his items have been sold to tourists at such places as the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga and at The Butterfly Palace in Branson, Mo.
"I've been doing this for three years now," he said. "I like doing things to help people in the community. In November 2011, I wanted to raise some money for the Homeless for a Night event that was done by the Chattahoochee Fuller Center Project. I cut up some aluminum cans and made Christmas tree ornaments out of them."
It was too late to help at the Homeless for a Night promotion but he did make enough money before Christmas to buy groceries for some needy families and to purchase a stam-
ping machine that could help him make a whole host of items in addition to the ornaments. It's helped him make earrings, bookmarks, bracelets, greeting cards, refrigerator magnets and other such collectibles people like.
In May 2012, two families Stewart knows lost their homes and most of their belongings in house fires. Following up on what he'd done the previous Christmas season, he started making bookmarks and jewelry from reclaimed buttons.
"It was kind of quirky how we started that," says Stewart's mom, Carolyn Irvin. "We got some buttons from clothes that burned in the fire at Stewart's friend's house. We first made some bookmarks. When people saw them they asked him to make some earrings."
When he made over $20 his first day of selling them he told his mom, "I'm not making earrings, I'm making money."
Stewart now has his own fledgling company. He calls it Reworkz.
"I'd like to be able to make a living doing this one day," he said.
Though only 15, Stewart is already a budding philanthropist. He takes the money he makes off his craft items and uses it to make other people happy. Last Christmas, he applied his earnings to purchase holiday bags for elderly people. During the Easter season, he did a similar thing. For Valentine's Day, he bought a lot of colorful balloons for residents at Lanier Nursing Home.
Though he's still a few years away from graduating at Valley High, he gave two scholarships to VHS grads last May. Each student got $250 to help them with their college education and $250 for their favorite charity (in this case the Susan Komen Foundation for breast cancer research).
"I've already started preparing for Christmas," he says. "We've bought over $1,500 in toys for the Christian Service Center."
He's done such good deeds as purchasing several truckloads of firewood to help a disabled man get through last year's cold winter and bought groceries for a family whose dad was struggling with brain cancer.
"This has really snowballed in three years," he said. "I just hope I can keep helping people."
Stewart will have lots of items he's made on display at this weekend's annual Autumn Leaves Arts and Crafts Show and Sale. It will be taking place at the Community Center during the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. EDT on Saturday and from 1-4 p.m. on Sunday.
"We encourage people to express themselves artistically," says Valley Arts Council President Suzie Britt. "The purpose of these shows is to get people who have artistic talent to come forward and display what they do. Creativity has no age limit."
"A lot of people dabble in things, but don’t consider themselves artists," Britt adds. "People have found out that they are artists by participating in our shows. It has been a life changing experience for some people. We want our art shows to be fun and to be a beneficial, happy experience for those who take part."
By Scott Sickler
Times-News Sports Editor
LANETT — Come on out and support the Valley High baseball team and enjoy a big day of fishing Sat., Oct. 18 when the Valley High Baseball Booster Club holds the second annual Bass Fishing tournament at Southern Harbor in Lanett.
The tourney will blast off at safe daylight and conclude with the weigh-in at 3 p.m. ET.
The entry fee is $100 per boat or $50 per person, noted Walter Graben, Valley High Baseball Booster Club president.
Cash payouts will take place for first through fourth-place. Payouts include $1,000, $500, $250 and $100.
A $10 big fish pot is also available.
For additional information, contact: Graben at (334) 728-4349.
By Scott Sickler
Times-News Sports Editor
LaGRANGE — The Troup Tigers (3-4, 0-2) opened Thursday’s game against unbeaten, No. 2-ranked and three-time 4A state champion Sandy Creek (8-0, 2-0) in style with a 58-yard pick-6 by senior free safety Vanquez Bonner for a quick 6-0 Troup lead.
Unfortunately, the visitors from Tyrone, Ga. rallied in a game in which the lead changed hands three times as the Sandy Creek Patriots posted a hard-fought 31-21 GHSA 4A-Region 5 win over Troup here at Callaway Stadium.
The Patriots actually took the opening kickoff back 86 yards for a score but was negated on a clipping penalty.
Nonetheless, Sandy Creek marched down the field before Bonner alertly timed his move to the receiver perfectly as he stepped in front of a Patriot receiver at the last second at the Troup 42, snagged the errant pass, and raced untouched down the Sandy Creek sideline for the 58-yard pick-6 score, setting off a big celebration on the Troup sideline.
Troup missed the PAT kick but the Tigers did exactly what they wanted to do to seize the momentum with a score and a 6-0 lead at 7:36 of the first quarter.
But Sandy Creek is a team of many gifted athletes on both sides of the ball and asserted its way on the Tigers in rallying back on its next drive.
The Patriots went on a 12-play drive all the way down to the Troup 32 when the Tiger defense, led by Jonathan Foster and Justice Marable, combined to stuff the Sandy Creek back for no gain on a key fourth-and-one with 3:30 left in the first as Troup took over on downs.
The first quarter ended with Troup holding a 6-0 lead and playing very well on both sides of the ball, but especially defensively and were more than holding their own against a physical Patriot offensive line.
Sandy Creek took its first lead at 9:41 of the second quarter after a nicely executed eight-play, 80-yard scoring march culminated in a one-yard run off tackle.
The Patriots converted the PAT and were now leading 7-6.
After a stop of Troup, Sandy Creek put together another drive to pad its lead to four at 10-6 with 5:01 left in the half.
Sandy Creek drove 66 yards on seven plays and converted a 40-yard field goal for the lead.
But Troup answered the challenge with one of its best drives of the season.
The Tigers marched 73 yards on 12 plays as Foster scored on a two-yard blast off right tackle and with :35.6 seconds left in the half, Troup regained the lead at 13-10.
Sandy Creek had a terrific drive in the last :30 seconds of the half only to see its 37-yard field goal attempt fall wide left as the half ended with Troup leading 13-10.
But as nice as the game opened for Troup on the Bonner pick-6, the Tigers made a crucial mistake to open the second-half on the opening kickoff.
Sandy Creek made a high, arching kick that a Troup player fielded at the Tiger 8 but he was so close to the sidelines, he actually stepped out of bounds as Troup was pinned in deep in its own territory.
Four plays later, Troup had to punt.
Give Sandy Creek credit, they seized the chance and made Troup pay for its error.
After a short punt to the Troup 38, Sandy Creek went in for the score on a five-play drive and after a three-yard TD plunge off the left flank, Sandy Creek was back ahead 17-13 with 9:04 left in the third.
Troup’s second possession of the second-half started at its own 17 as the Tiger kick returner was pinned in deep by an aggressive and super quick Patriots special teams unit.
Starting at the 8 then the 17 is not what Troup coach Lynn Kendall wanted to start the second-half in terms of field position, especially after scoring late before half in taking the 13-10 lead.
But again, give Sandy Creek credit, they’ve played in a lot of big games, sensed a chance to seize momentum, then cash in for points and did exactly that.
Sandy Creek pushed the lead to 24-13 with 10:21 left in the game after a 62-yard, eight-play march resulted in a five-yard scoring run off tackle and now an 11-point hole for Troup.
But the Tigers answered yet again and got right back in the game.
Led by quarterback Will Smith and running backs in Mess Bonner, Dexter Shealey and Cameren Russell, Troup marched 70 yards on eight plays for its third score.
Bonner scored on a two-yard blast up the gut as Troup got a great surge up front from linemen Mitch Mathes and Jason Hernandez.
With 7:44 left in the game, Troup had a great chance to pull the upset in trailing by just three at 24-21 after Smith converted the two-point PAT run.
After a big stop by the Troup defense, the Tigers offense was marching for potentially the game-winning points.
But after a converting a fourth down at its own 17 and 10 plays later, Troup had a great chance and all the momentum.
However, on a second down pass play, Smith was trying to hit a Tiger receiver over the middle near the Sandy Creek 40.
The Patriots safety came over the top on his perfectly timed play, snapped the pass and raced untouched for a 60-yard pick-6 with just 1:16 left in the game to seal a 31-21 win for Sandy Creek.
It was the second pick-6 for Sandy Creek and Troup had one by Bonner from 58 yards out as well. It’s rare to see a pick-6 but three happened in this game.
The second pick-6 by Sandy Creek was a crushing end to the game for Troup as it appeared the Tigers could be driving for the game-winning points and a huge upset and region win.
Troup rushed 51 times for 178 yards while Sandy Creek had 47 attempts for 276 yards.
•Troup will play at Carrollton next week.
By Scott Sickler
Times-News Sports Editor
It’s been a long time since a Springwood football team defeated nemesis and AISA powerhouse Edgewood Academy.
Springwood last defeated Edgewood in the 2000 season although in back-to-back seasons in 2010-11, the Wildcats led late and could have won both contests.
No. 1-ranked and three-time defending AISA 2A state champion Edgewood is on a 52-game winning streak but Springwood has been the lone team to really challenge the green and yellow-clad Wildcats from Wetumpka.
“We look forward to the opportunity to play the best team in the state,” said Springwood coach Thomas Hill. “There is no better test to challenge ourselves and play Edgewood at their place. We are hoping for the first time this year to make Edgewood play the second half of football.”
Edgewood is 7-0 and has scored 420 points, including over 60 four times.
It’s been an interesting series and domination from both teams.
Springwood won the first 11 meetings between the schools while Edgewood has won 12 in a row to take the series lead.
Glenwood, then led by now Chambers Academy coach Jason Allen, was the last team to defeat Edgewood 13-12 in the 2010 season.
The Wildcats have had their chances to beat Edgewood in both 2010 and 2011, only to fall in both in a pair of gut-wrenching losses.
In 2010, Springwood had Edgewood beat 21-20 with less than a minute to go but Edgewood went the length of the field and scored on a TD pass in the closing seconds to take the lead. They also tallied a controversial extra score on the final play for the deceiving final score of 36-21.
In short, Springwood was less than :20 seconds away from defeating Edgewood.
It was just as heartbreaking in the 2011 game at Edgewood.
Springwood led Edgewood in Wetumpka with a 28-27 lead late in the third quarter but a missed field goal and missed on a golden first-and-goal opportunity at the Edgewood nine after a Blake Glaze pick. Instead of a possibe 38-27 lead, it remained 28-27 and Edgewood came back to defeat Springwood 46-28.
The Wildcats hope to end over a decade of defeats to Edgewood Friday in Wetumpka.
It won’t be easy as Edgewood has a talented 59-man roster full of athletes, speed, skill, size and know and expect to win each week.
•In other big games this week, the Troup Tigers host three-time 3A state champion and No. 2-ranked Sandy Creek Friday at Callaway Stadium.
Troup is 0-3 all-time against Sandy Creek and it will take a great effort to pull the upset win.
“We are into our region schedule now and each game is the big game,” noted Tigers coach Lynn Kendall. “Every game in our region from here on out is a playoff game. This week's game against Sandy Creek offers a great opportunity for our players and program.”
In other action, the Beulah Bobcats journey to Prattville to face Prattville Christian with a 3A playoff berth in the balance. If Beulah can win, it will be just the third time in the last 20 years they’ve made the state playoffs.
“We have a hardened group of guys who have been through an indescribable amount of adversity,” said Beulah coach Jarrod Wooten. “We have been in the fire every week since June. I believe in this team and I am looking forward to seeing the fight that we are going to put up on Friday. Prattville Christian poses a big challenge but our guys are excited about the opportunity.”
•In other high school football Friday, coach Marshon Harper and the Valley Rams go to Alexander City for a huge 6A-Region 3 matchup against No. 8-ranked Benjamin Russell.
If Valley is going to get in the 6A state playoffs, they may need to win both of its region contests left in Ben Russell and Pell City. However, if Chelsea defeats Oxford, coach Harper noted, Valley would just need a 1-1 a split and would get in.
• In other games, LaFayette hosts Lanett and Chambers entertains SMCA.