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June 23, 2017
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Chamber, Boys and Girls Club recognize students of month
Chamber, Boys and Girls Club recognize students of month

The Boys and Girls Club of Chambers County and the Greater Valley Area Chamber of Commerce announced their June Students of the Month Thursday. Club participants are selected for the honor based on activity involvement, personal achievement and good behavior. This month’s recipients received a certificate of recognition and Dunkin’ Donuts gift cards. Shown above are, from left, GVACC Executive Director Ashley Crane; Huguley kindergarten student Adyson Morgan; Treshun Mitchell, an eighth grade student at W.F. Burns Middle School; and GVACC Executive Assistant Carrie Royster. (Photo by David Bell)

Girls Ranch provide life-changing opportunities for youngsters
Girls Ranch provide life-changing opportunities for youngsters

By WAYNE CLARK

VALLEY — Stays at the Alabama Sheriffs Girls Ranch in nearby Tallapoosa County have been life changing for a growing number of Alabama girls from broken families. Jimmy Harmon, director of the ranch, talked about what goes on there at Wednesday’s noon hour meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Valley.

He was introduced by Chambers County Sheriff Sid Lockhart, a long-time supporter of both the Boys and Girls ranches in the state. “The Girls Ranch is close to my heart,” he said. “Without it, some of these girls would be out on the street.”

Harmon’s life has revolved around the youth ranches. He was practically raised on the Boys Ranch in Baldwin County, where his dad has been the director for some 35 years.

In the mid 1960s, Alabama sheriffs got together and decided to start a boys ranch. “They were seeing boys they knew were going to get in trouble with the law one day without doing something,” Harmon said.

In most cases they’d been abandoned by their parents in their pre-teen years and were fending on their own as best as they could. More often than not they were heading for trouble with the law.

The first boys ranch started with a double-wide trailer on 100 acres of land. With broad support from state residents it grew into a 2,500-acre site with a dairy farm, beef cattle operation, a pond, a pool and a fire station. There was lots to do for boys who’d come from troubled backgrounds.

The first girls ranch started in 1973. “It has gone through periods of growth and regression,” Harmon said. “We have been trying to restore it to what it once was. We’ve truly been blessed.”

The Tallapoosa County ranch has three separate homes for the girls with each one being headed by trusted house parents. “We have 17 girls on the property at the present time,” Harmon said. “There’s a 24-person maximum (including the house parents).”

When school is in session, the girls rise at 5 a.m. each day, make their beds and take care of chores before breakfast. “They stay busy,” Harmon said. “We try to teach them skills, a good work ethic and to have self confidence. They do their homework and do lots of reading.”

That regimen appears to be paying off. This past year, the girls had a cumulative grade point average of 3.26. “They are doing really well educationally,” Harmon said. “In many cases they had to overcome low self esteem. They’d been told that they’d never amount to anything.”

Building self confidence is usually a slow, gradual process. “We start off with small things and build up to bigger things,” Harmon explained.

The girls get a break in the summer months. “We let them sleep until 8 a.m.,” Harmon said. “We work them from 9 a.m. until noon. Behaviorally, they are doing great.”

In many cases, the girls were being raised by their grandparents, who were hard pressed to do this. “Their mom would be on drugs and their dad in jail,” Harmon said.

Harmon is very proud of the Girls Ranch success stories. One girl recently graduated with honors from Reeltown High School and is planning to continue her education at Troy University. “I kind of wished she’d gone to Auburn,” Harmon, an AU grad, joked.

“We continue to care for them past 18,” Harmon said. “We have a Seniors in College House.”

There are some truly heartbreaking stories about these girls. “One girl’s only fault was that she looked just like her mom,” Harmon said. “Her dad had remarried and the stepmother couldn’t stand her because she looked so much like the first wife.”

The girl received abusive punishment. In one of those harsh disciplinary measures, the step mom made her maintain a sitting position for long minutes next to a wall. That will hurt anyone when there’s no chair underneath them. After being forced to do this repeatedly, the girl had some health problems when she arrived at the ranch.

“Her knees were really messed up,” Harmon said. “She had to have surgery to repair the damage.”

Some of the girls came by way of being the proverbial baby on the doorstep, a parent having given them away when they were an infant. In one situation, a teenage girl was living under a bridge with her younger sister. She supported herself and her sister through prostitution.

Harmon said he’d never forget what the girl told him her first day at the ranch and saw a well-stocked food pantry. “I’d hate to have to tell you what I had to do to get that before I came here,” she said.

Harmon said that he appreciated how supportive the surrounding community had been to the ranch. “Churches do food drives for us, and people bring us toilet paper and paper towels,” he said. “Such donations mean so much to the girls.”

Harmon expressed thanks to the contributions that have been made by those who volunteer for a community garden in Fredonia.

There are plans to build a barn at the ranch. “We could use people with building skills,” Harmon said. “We welcome any kind of volunteer help we can get. We especially need those who have specialized skills.”

“The purpose of the ranches is to keep kids out of trouble,” Harmon said. “If they have already been in trouble we can’t take them.”

Going to a youth ranch gives a young person the chance to turn their life around before running afoul of the law. “They have an opportunity in life they wouldn’t otherwise have,” Harmon said. “They are so much better off than what they are accustomed to.”

The ranch is looking for a new set of house parents. “We want someone who will make a difference,” he said. “You have to give your heart, your soul and your hard work in the effort to have long-term gains. In the end, it will be very rewarding for you.”

“The ranch is a very special place,” Harmon said. “Some of our girls have told us they felt loved for the first time when they were there.”

Troup Schools set tuition rates for out-of-county students
Troup Schools set tuition rates for out-of-county students

By THE TIMES-NEWS

LaGRANGE — The Troup County School System is now accepting applications for non-resident students. Any eligible student living outside of Troup County can pay a tuition fee and attend the Troup school closest to their home address.

School students living in Georgia, but outside Troup County, will be assessed a $300 annual tuition fee, while students residing outside the state of Georgia will be assessed a yearly fee of $5,500.

Criteria for acceptance include:

•Student compliance with TCSS’s rules of conduct.

•Complete non-resident application.

•$25 non-refundable application fee.

•Student must meet GHSA eligibility requirements.

•Students will be assigned to the school that is geographically nearest their residence.

•Transportation and associated costs must be provided by parent or guardian; not to be reimbursed by TCSS.

Application forms are available online at www,troup.org under Forms & Links > Registration. A complete application must include the following:

•Complete official transcript or academic record from previous school.

•Complete attendance records from previous school

•Any records reflecting the conviction or adjudication of any felonies or delinquent acts.

To learn more about the Troup County School System, visit www.troup.k12.ga.us.

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Inaugural BCW Basketball Camp set for June 26-30
Inaugural BCW Basketball Camp set for June 26-30

By Scott Sickler

Times-News Sports Editor

LANETT — Three local basketball legends will combine over 100 years of high school basketball expertise June 26-30 when Thermond Billinglsea, Rev. Richard Carter and John T. Woody headline the inaugural BCW Basketball Camp held at the Lanett High gym.

The camp features three of the greatest coaches in AHSAA history in Billingslea (Lanett High and Troup High and nearly 40 years), Rev. Carter (Bullock Co., Valley, Greenville, Ga. and Lanett High for 46 years) and Woody (LaFayette High for 35 years).

The Chambers Co. trio have combined for approximately 1,500 wins, five state championships, 12 state final appearances and nearly 25 Final Fours.

“The BCW basketball camp was started to give young men and women an opportunity to enhance their fundamental basketball skills in the areas of ball handling, passing, rebounding and shooting,” said Charlie Williams, girls coach at Lanett High and former standout on Billingslea’s Panthers boys team in the late 1990s. “The camp is named in honor of coach Billingslea, coach Carter and coach Woody, all of whom have been pillars of their communities, as well as leaders in the academic and athletic arena for years.”

Coach Carter is already in the AHSAA Hall of Fame and Billingslea and Woody are also locks for the HOF in the future as well.

“They have coached and mentored thousands of young people, who have gone on to compete at the collegiate level and beyond,” Williams noted.

The camp is open to boys and girls ages 8-18.

Registration will take place on site beginning at 8 a.m. the first day of camp.

The cost is $50 per camper and two sessions will be held — Session I: 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. for ages 8-13; and Session II: 2-5 p.m. for ages 14-18.

For additional information, contact camp instructors Charlie Williams (706) 773-2451 or Morris Finley (205) 381-2499.

West Point Recreation to host 10, 11 & 12U baseball tourneys
West Point Recreation to host 10, 11 & 12U baseball tourneys

By Scott Sickler

Times-News Sports Editor

WEST POINT — If the weather will cooperate, we’ll have youth baseball tournament action Saturday at West Point City Park in three different age divisions, George Greene, West Point Recreation Department assistant director, told The Times-News Friday morning.

West Point will serve as host for the 10U, 11U & 12U tournaments.

The 11U West Point all-star team will play Peachtree City at 9 a.m. ET and another game at 11 a.m.

In 12U play, West Point will host Peachtree City at 10 a.m. and 12 noon.

The 10U West Point all-stars will also play Saturday at times to be announced.

Blake Craft takes over as Troup boys basketball coach
Blake Craft takes over as Troup boys basketball coach

By Scott Sickler

Times-News Sports Editor

LaGRANGE — The Troup High Tigers didn’t have to go far to find its next boys basketball coach.

It was about 10 miles, in fact, as Blake Craft, an assistant at arch rival LaGrange High for the last five seasons, was recently named as the new boys coach at Troup High.

A native of Conyers and former standout at Heritage High (Ga.) and LaGrange College, Craft also played tennis in college.

He is a high energy coach with a fire and passion for the game.

Troup fans will like what they see on the court next winter with all-out hustle, strong team defensive play and up-tempo, fast break offense.

Craft played a key role in what was a remarkable run of success at LaGrange High for the last five seasons.

He served two years as the ninth grade coach, one as head coach of the middle school program and his last two seasons under coach Mark Veal as the top assistant on the boys varsity.

Craft cut his teeth on a Granger program that is historically been one of the best in GHSA history.

LaGrange has won four state championships, runner-up five other times, claimed 23 all-time region championships and has had a plethora of great college players.

They currently have 12 players in the college ranks, one of the highest totals in all of GHSA basketball.

Craft served under veteran coach Mike Pauley early in his career at LHS and his last two years under coach Veal on the varsity as LaGrange recorded a 49-11 two-year mark, won three successive region championships and four region titles in his five years with the school.

The Heritage High grad has a deep passion and energy for the game, an infectious, positive, can-do attitude and is as hard a worker as you’ll ever find.

In short, Craft was a perfect fit for the Troup High boys basketball program and is excited to take the reigns of the program.

He’s been hard at work this summer meeting with the players and leading skills and conditioning drills.

Troup returns every player from last year in what should be a much improved team this winter.

One of his goals has always been to be a head coach. That’s now reality and he’s excited to put his stamp on the program.

“I believe Troup is a gold mine, Craft said. “We have everyone back on a team that made it to state playoffs for the first time in six years. We have some strong guards coming back with great toughness and leadership. One of the biggest strengths of the team will be the inside presence we have. Our goal for this year is to get better each day, and to trust the process. The kids are really buying into it, and it is fun to watch. I thought Paul Brewer and his staff did a great job last year in starting the rebuild process.”

Craft is trying to lay the foundation for a Tiger boys program which enjoyed tremendous success under coach Thermond Billingslea. Billingslea led the Tigers from 2001-2002 through the 2012-13 season.

The Tigers also went 22-0 in the regular season in the 2004-05 under Billingslea in a GHSA 4A state runner-up 28-2 campaign. The Tigers fell to Dunwoody in the state finals in Macon. ?Billingslea won over 125 games in his 12-year tenure at the school and won 20 or more games five times.

The program fell on hard times the last four seasons, sporting a 29-69 overall record, including 10-37 in region play.

But Troup made progress last year, going 10-18 and 4-8 in region play to earn a No. 4 seed in the 4A state playoffs.

It was Troup’s first state playoff appearance in the last five seasons.

The Tigers lost five games by six points or less and with every player returning from last season, Troup could have a solid season this winter.

Craft will have all the pieces in place to do just that.

Troup has won three region titles in its history (1966, 1968 and 1974.)

Obituaries

Obituaries for Friday, June 23, 2017
Obituaries for Friday, June 23, 2017

MR. BURTON

LaFAYETTE — Funeral arrangements are pending for Mr. Garey L. Burton, 61, of LaFayette, who passed away Thursday, June 22, 2017, at East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika, Ala.

Silmon-Seroyer Funeral Home in LaFayette is in charge of arrangements.

MR. PORTER

LANETT — Mr. George Melvin “BooBoo” Porter, 64, of Lanett passed away Tuesday, June 20, 2017, at his residence.

Funeral services will be held Monday, June 26 at 1 p.m. at Mt. Hermon Baptist Church with the Rev. Dr. Lamar D. Johnson, pastor, Bishop Donald Lancaster, eulogist, the Rev. Karanja Story, the Rev. Alfred Booker and the Rev. Robert Ray officiating. Burial will follow at Pinehill Cemetery.

M.W. Lee Mortuary in West Point is in charge of arrangements.

MRS. STILWELL

LANETT — Mrs. Geraldine Stilwell, 90-year-old resident of Lanett, passed away Wednesday, June 21, 2017, at Bethany House in Auburn, Ala.

Funeral services will be held Saturday, June 24 at 1 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Lanett with the Revs. Ronnie Jordan, Mark McGee and Gene Webb officiating. Burial will follow at Oakwood Cemetery in Lanett.

Bluffton Funeral Service in Lanett is in charge of arrangements.

MRS. STONE

LAFAYETTE, La. — Mrs. Patsy Smallwood Stone, 70, of Lafayette, formerly of Lanett, passed away on Saturday, June 17, 2017, at her residence in Lafayette after a prolonged battle with MS.

Graveside services will be held Saturday, June 24 at 2 p.m. at Oakwood Cemetery in Lanett.

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

MR. WRIGHT

LANETT — Mr. Richard "Head" Wright Sr. of Lanett died Wednesday, June 14, 2017, at his residence.

Funeral services are scheduled Saturday, June 24 at noon at Mt. Hermon Baptist Church in Lanett with Dr. Lamar D. Johnson, pastor, officiating. Burial will follow at Mt. Hermon Cemetery in Lanett,

Davis Memorial Mortuary of Valley is in charge of arrangements.

Obituaries for Thursday, June 22, 2017
Obituaries for Thursday, June 22, 2017

MR. BRANCH

LANETT — Mr. Wilson E. “Mud Hole” Branch, 84, of Lanett passed away Wednesday, June 21, 2017, at LaFayette Extended Care in LaFayette, Ala.

Funeral services will be held Friday, June 23 at 11 a.m. at Johnson Brown-Service Funeral Home Chapel in Valley with the Rev. Mark McGee officiating. Burial will follow at Oakwood Cemetery in Lanett.

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

MR. DANIEL

HUGULEY — Mr. Freddie E. Daniel, 83, of Huguley passed away Wednesday, June 21, 2017, at his residence.

Funeral services will be Friday, June 23 at 2 p.m. at Johnson Brown-Service Funeral Home Chapel in Valley with the Rev. Steve Johnson officiating. Burial will follow at Hillcrest Cemetery in Lanett.

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

MR. McCLURG

VALLEY — Mr. Nicki McClurg, 72, of Valley died Tuesday June 20, 2017, at his residence.

Funeral services will be held Sunday, June 25 at 2 p.m. CDT at Jeff Jones Funeral Home in LaFayette with the Rev. Milton Newton officiating. Burial will follow at Midway Methodist Church Cemetery.

Jeff Jones Funeral Home in LaFayette is in charge of arrangements.

MR. NEWMAN

LaFAYETTE — Mr. Clarence Newman, 77, of LaFayette died Wednesday June 21, 2017, at East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika, Ala.

Funeral services will be held Saturday, June 24 at 11 a.m. CDT at Penton Church of God with the Rev. Mike Campbell, the Rev. Larry Rice and Dr. Dru Strickland officiating. Burial will follow at the church cemetery.

Jeff Jones Funeral Home, in LaFayette is in charge of arrangements.

INFANT SMITH

GOODWATER, Ala. — Graveside services for infant Carter Wyatt Smith of Goodwater will be held Friday, June 23, 2017, at 10 a.m. CDT at Smyrna Cemetery. Andy Watkins will officiate.

Carter passed away Monday, June 19, 2017, at Children's Hospital of Alabama.

Radney Funeral Home of Alexasnder City is in charge of the arrangements.

MS. STILWELL

LANETT — Ms. Geraldine Stilwell, 90, of Lanett passed away Thursday, June 21, 2017, at Bethany House in Auburn Ala.

Services and arrangements are pending.

Bluffton Funeral Services in Lanett is in charge of arrangements.

MRS. STONE

LAFAYETTE, La. — Funeral services will be held Wednesday, June 21 at 1 p.m. CDT in Martin & Castille's La Fleur de Lis Chapel in Lafayette for Patsy A. Stone, 70, who died Saturday, June 17, 2017, at her residence in Lafayette after a prolonged battle with MS.

Interment will be held Saturday, June 24 at Oakwood Cemetery in Lanett.

Martin & Castille-Southside of Lafayette is in charge of arrangements.

Obituaries for Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Obituaries for Wednesday, June 21, 2017

MR. DANIEL

HUGULEY, Ala. — Funeral services are pending for Mr. Freddie E. Daniel, 83, of Huguley, who passed away at his residence Wednesday, June 21, 2017.

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

MRS. TAYLOR

COVINGTON, La. — Mrs. Peggy Elaine Horne Taylor, beloved wife of Jimmy C. Taylor, passed from life Monday, May 29, 2017 at Christwood Retirement Community in Covington.

A celebration of life will take place at Christwood Retirement Community in Covington July 28 beginning at 1 p.m. A private committal service will take place at Southeast Louisiana Veterans Cemetery in Slidell, La.

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