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May 27, 2015
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Valley public safety personnel recognized for rescue effort
Valley public safety personnel recognized for rescue effort

On Tuesday, the Valley City Council honored three Valley police officers and two Valley EMS paramedics for their actions in a swift water rescue that took place in rain swollen Moore's Creek on April 25. They pulled a 68-year-old Opelika man in danger of drowning from his car, got him out of the water and to safety, administered CPR and saw that he was airlifted to a hospital by helicopter. In front, from left, are Paramedic Michelle Wiggins, Officer Sammy Cox and Sgt. Michael Jones, who had to have 10 stitches in his right arm from a cut he received in the rescue attempt. In back, l-r, are Public Safety Director Tommy Weldon, Officer Dustin Bicknell, Paramedic Jamie Wiggins and EMS Director Scott Hamil. (Photo by Wayne Clark)

West Point asked to support conversation on race
West Point asked to support conversation on race

By CY WOOD

WEST POINT — The City of West Point was asked Tuesday to assist in funding a program planned for Troup County to encourage a conversation on race and trust building.

Former Troup County Chairman Ricky Wolfe and former State Rep. Carl Von Epps were present at the Mayor and City Council work session to lay out the ambitious plan to promote racial harmony and trust throughout the county.

Wolfe explained that while commission chairman he met regularly with the mayors of Troup's three municipalities, and it quickly became evident that any topic up for discussion eventually would lead to race. "This racial divide keeps us from solving problems," he said.

Looking into what other communities are doing to address the issue, Wolfe said they found some programs but none in Georgia. By the time he and Epps were both retired from public office, they were asked to look into solutions.

They eventually found two organizations, Southern Truth and Reconciliation (STAR) in Atlanta and Hope in the Cities (based in Richmond, Va.), that had shown effectiveness in addressing racial divisions.

"This will probably be the hardest work we have ever done," Wolfe said. "How do you rebuild lost trust?"

Wolfe outlined how during March 40 Troup residents gathered at LaGrange College for an initial session focusing on having a conversation about race. The participants learned a lot about themselves and others during the two days, he said.

The Troup program envisioned by Wolfe and Epps would have three levels. The first level would involve training similar to what that initial group of 40 received. Over the course of 18 months, four groups of 40 would be trained. They would then go to level 2, where they would be taught the tools needed to engage in conversations that build trust. Finally, three to five of the group would be designated as facilitators, who would go forward with the program.

Initially, the expertise would come from STAR and Hope in the Cities. Ultimately, Wolfe said, Troup's facilitators would handle the program as it proceeded.

He noted that for the program to be successful, Troup residents have to acknowledge the past and its impacts, but many people are reluctant to confront their history. "It's hard to accept the truth for some people," he said.

He said the program would require a budget of about $150,000 and they are asking local governments to provide the seed money and to support the effort.

Epps said the bottom line is trust building.

Wolfe asked for feedback from the council.

Councilmember Jerry Ledbetter said it was a great idea and much needed, just 35 years late.

Councilmember Ben Wilcox said he would like to know more about the budget for the work. Wolfe said $107,000 was earmarked for training, $30,000 for travel expenses for STAR and Hope in the Cities staff and $20,000 for administrative expenses, which he said he would prefer to get through volunteers.

He noted that he and Epps were not being compensated. Once the program is in place, fundraising should keep it going, not government funding, he said.

Wilcox asked where the 160 would come from, and Wolfe said all over the county. Of the facilitators, he asked if one would be in West Point.

Wolfe responded that the facilitators would work wherever they were needed.

Councilmember Steve Tramell asked how far the program was from starting. Wolfe said the next meeting with the first group of 40 is set for June 6, so it's a tight timeline. He would like to have another group of 40 start in July, he said.

Councilmember Sandra Thornton asked about the outcome in Richmond, and Wolfe noted that one councilwoman there said that without the program, the city would be financially, morally and spiritually bankrupt.

Councilmember Gloria Marshall said she saw the need to build trust, noting that as a child she was taught she couldn't trust white people, and suspected white children were taught the same about black people.

Wolfe said the cost of the program needs to be weighed against the cost of doing nothing and allowing the racial divide in Troup County to continue to thwart progress here.

Mayor Drew Ferguson IV said that in talking with people he has sensed "a hunger for something like this" and assured Wolfe the city would act on his request as quickly as possible. "I want to learn how to have this discussion the right way," he said.

Drug Task Force gets new drug dog named Goose
Drug Task Force gets new drug dog named Goose

By WAYNE CLARK

VALLEY — The Fifth Judicial Circuit Drug Task Force now has its own drug dog. Nineteen-month-old "Goose," has been in service approximately one week and has already played a major role in a drug seizure in a traffic stop on I-85. An estimated three ounces of "ice," or methamphetamine, was confiscated in that drug trafficking incident.

A Belgian Malinois, Goose was born in the Czech Republic and trained at the Alabama K-9 Academy in Tuscaloosa. He becomes the fourth drug dog in service in Chambers County. The Sheriff's Office has two of them, and the Lanett Police Department has one.

Agent Rodney Arwood completed four weeks of training at the K-9 Academy and is Goose's handler.

Capt. Robert Chambers says that Goose will be a big help to the Task Force. "We're no longer limited by scheduling," he said. "With our own dog we don't have to borrow one from another department."

Goose has been trained in the detection of marijuana, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and MDMA, the principal ingredient in ecstasy.

In addition to the four local dogs, the CCDTF also had the use of "Stanley," a Lee County dog. "We want to thank our sponsors for making the donations we needed to get Goose," Capt. Chambers said.

They include Gaines Lanier, Mikey Givorns, Langley Motor Company, King Ford, Kenny Knox Tire Center, Valley Collision, Walmart, Four Seasons Heating & Air, Chris Clark Grading & Paving, Dr. Eric Hemberg, Jeff Jones Funeral Home, Marvin's Building Materials and the late Brent Dean.

"We're still accepting donations for the upkeep of our K-9 program," Capt. Chambers added.

For additional information, contact the Drug Task Force at (706) 773-2694.

The Task Force shares a building off Fairfax Bypass with Valley Police Department's Criminal Investigation Division (CID).

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Strickland named to The Sporting News NAIA All-America team
Strickland named to The Sporting News NAIA All-America team

By Scott Sickler

Times-News Sports Editor

WEST POINT — Point University senior kicking specialist David Strickland has been named an NAIA first-team All-American by The Sporting News in its 2015 college football annual which hit newsstands last week.

The preseason honor is the third straight season Strickland has been named an NAIA All-American.

Strickland was just one of two players from Deep South schools on The Sporting News NAIA All-America team.

The other player is Southeastern (Fla.) sophomore standout running back Jarrell Reynolds.

After playing at Wallace State Community College, Strickland transfered to Point University, where he played for former Auburn All-Americans Kevin Porter, David Rocker and now for coach Mike McCarty in his senior season.

Strickland has proven his talents on a consistent basis throughout his career at Point.

He’s been an NAIA national leader in net punting average as well as hang time.

Former Auburn All-American Terry Daniel worked with Strickland last year and helped the youngster hone his skills with an eye on playing professionally following his college days.

As a senior for the Skyhawks, coach McCarty will count on Strickland and others for leadership in what should be a much improved Point team this fall.

The Skyhawks senior class also includes standout running back Rufus Mason, quarterback Charles Fortis and linebacker Albert Trammell.

Mason and Fortis are national high school hotbed talents from Texas and California and Trammell was a standout player for the Callaway High Cavaliers.

A Beulah High graduate, Strickland is the son of Daryl and Vickie Strickland of Beulah and enjoyed a standout prep career for the Bobcats.

He was a two-sport standout in both football and baseball for Beulah High. He played tackle and kicker in football and a pitcher, first baseman and catcher in baseball.

Troup's Tyler Bunn inks baseball scholarship with ABAC
Troup's Tyler Bunn inks baseball scholarship with ABAC

By Scott Sickler

Times-News Sports Editor

LaGRANGE — Troup senior baseball standout Tyler Bunn will take his talents to South Georgia next spring after the Tigers stellar outfielder this week signed a baseball scholarship with Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC) in Tifton, Ga.

A four-year player for coach Craig Garner, Bunn had an outstanding career for the Tigers in all phases of the game.

He posted one of the highest batting averages on the team, had good speed on the base paths and was one of the best on the team and in GHSA 4A-Region 5 play defensively with an array of assists from his outfield spots.

He was versatile and Garner could count on him for error-free ball in both left and rightfield.

Bunn also saw action on the mound and was clearly one of the most well-rounded players on the team.

He played a big role in Troup posting 17 playoff wins over his career, including a GHSA state-best 14-4 road mark.

Bunn smashed a grand slam against Handley earlier this season and his sensational, diving catch against Sandy Creek preserved a no-hitter for teammate in righthander Bo Halcomb.

Tyler is expected to play a key role next spring at ABAC.

Lanett Recreation track program has successful season
Lanett Recreation track program has successful season

By Scott Sickler

Times-News Sports Editor

LANETT — Now in its fifth season of competition, the Lanett Recreation Department’s youth track and field program just wrapped up another successful season, Ronnie Tucker, Lanett Recreation Director, told The Times-News this morning.

“We’ve had a track and field program for the last five years and actually had 46 kids the first year we had signups,” Tucker noted. “We had 15 youngsters come out for the program this spring and did well. We hope to have more kids in the program next year as well,” added Tucker.

This is also the first year Lanett track and field has competed in the Alabama Recreation & Parks Association (ARPA) meets, Tucker noted.

The 15-member squad competed at the district held in Opelika two weeks ago and had two youngsters qualify to compete in Lincoln last week at the ARPA state championships, Tucker said.

London Roberts led Lanett with an outstanding fourth-place finish in the 50-yard dash at the state meet to highlight local performances.

•For additional information about the program, contact: Tucker at (334) 644-4316.

Obituaries

Obituaries for Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Obituaries for Wednesday, May 27, 2015

MRS. COBB

LANETT — Mrs. Bettie C. Cobb, 88, of Lanett passed away Tuesday, May 26, 2015, at EAMC-Lanier Hospital in Valley.

Funeral arrangements will be announced by Johnson Brown-Service Funeral Home in Valley.

MISS TURNER

LANETT — Miss Ke'La S.B. Turner, 23, of Lanett died Saturday, May 23, 2015, at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

Funeral services will be held Thursday, May 28 at 1 p.m. at the Mt. Hermon Baptist Church Family Life Center with Pastor Louis Upshaw, Pastor Vernon Carter, Pastor Tony Avery and Pastor Michael Jackson officiating. Burial will follow at Pine Hill Cemetery.

Unity Mortuary of Valley is in charge of arrangements.

MRS. VINES

CAMP?HILL — Funeral arrangements are pending for Mrs. Thelma Vines, 91, of Camp Hill, who died Tuesday, May 26, 2015, at her residence.

Vines Funeral Home of LaFayette is in charge of arrangements.

Obituaries for Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Obituaries for Tuesday, May 26, 2015

MRS. McKINNEY

LaFAYETTE — Mrs. Jessie Bell McKinney died Monday, May 25, 2015, at East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika.

Services will be announced by Silmon-Seroyer Funeral Home of LaFayette.

MR. PIKE

FIVE POINTS — Mr. Willie R. "Bill" Pike, 93, of Five Points died Sunday, May 24, 2015, at Wedowee Hospital.

Funeral services will be held Wednesday, May 27 at 2 p.m. at Quattlebaum Funeral Chapel in Roanoke with the Rev. Derek Farr officiating. Burial will follow at Bethel Baptist Cemetery in Chambers County.

Quattlebaum Funeral Home of Roanoke is in charge of arrangements.

MR. STRENGTH

SEBASTIAN, Fla. — Mr. James "Terrell" Strength, formerly of Fairfax, died Monday, May 18, 2015, in Sebastian.

A memorial service will be held Sunday, May 31 at 11 a.m. CDT at Macedonia Christian Church in Tallassee, Ala.

MRS. WOODGETT

LaFAYETTE — Mrs. Ida Mae Woodgett, 85, of LaFayette, formerly of Kansas City, Kan., died Tuesday, May 19, 2015, at LaFayette Nursing Home in LaFayette.

A memorial service will be held at Vines Funeral Home Chapel in LaFayette Tuesday, May 26 at 1 p.m. CDT with Elder Jerome Cofield officiating.

Vines Funeral Home in LaFayette is in charge of arrangements.

Obituaries for Monday, May 25, 2015
Obituaries for Monday, May 25, 2015

MRS. BARTLETT

WEST POINT — Mrs. Geneva Lucile Brown Bartlett, 95, of West Point passed away Saturday, May 23, 2015, at West Georgia Hospice in LaGrange from complications following a stroke at her home in West Point.

Graveside service will be conducted at the West Point (Marseilles) Cemetery Tuesday May 26 at 11 a.m. with Dr. Tom Tucker officiating.

McCarthy Funeral Home in West Point is in charge of arrangements.

MR. FREEMAN

HUGULEY — Mr. Doyle Memory Freeman, 57, of the Huguley community passed away Friday, May 22, 2015, at UAB Hospital in Birmingham, Ala.

Funeral services will be held Wednesday, May 27 at 3 p.m. at Johnson Brown-Service Funeral Home Chapel in Valley with Pastor Al Smith and the Rev. Bill Parker officiating. Burial will follow at Resthaven Memorial Gardens.

Johnson Brown-Service Funeral Home in Valley is in charge of arrangements.

MR. GAINES

LaFAYETTE — Mr. John Wesley Gaines, Jr., 74, of LaFayette, formerly of Opelika, died Friday, May 22, 2015, at Bethany House in Auburn.

Graveside services will be held Tuesday, May 26 at 10 a.m. CDT at Ozias Baptist Church Cemetery in Camp Hill with the Rev. C.W. Fielder officiating.

Vines Funeral Home in LaFayette is in charge of arrangements.

MR. HOLLOWAY

LaFAYETTE — Funeral services are pending for Mr. Bobby Holloway, 37, of LaFayette, who died Thursday, May 21, 2015 at EAMC-Lanier Hospital in Valley.

Silmon-Seroyer Funeral Home in LaFayette is handling arrangements.

MRS. STANLEY

LaGRANGE — Mrs. Ruth Ann Stanley, 75, of LaGrange died Monday, May 18, 2015, at East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika.

Services were held Sunday, May 24 at 2 p.m. in Cremeens Funeral Chapel, 75 Grape St., Gallipolis, Ohio, with the Rev. Eugene Harmon officiating. Burial followed at Ridgelawn Cemetery.

Cremeens Funeral Home of Gallipolis is in charge of arrangements.

MISS TURNER

LANETT — Funeral services are pending for Miss Kela Turner, 23, of Lanett, who died Saturday, May 23, 2015, at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

The family contact is her mother, Sonya Adams.

Unity Mortuary of Valley is in charge of arrangements.

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