Chuck Goodwin (second from left), employment specialist, and Joni House (third from left), director of business and finance, the Achievement Center, Opelika, were guests of the Kiwanis Club of Valley on Wednesday, August 17. Goodwin talked about how his life had changed after losing his job two years ago and how he'd found a very satisfying path in life, partly as a minister and partly in helping people disabilities find gainful employment through the Achievement Center. At left is Bobby Ann McCollough, club president and at right, Jeff Goodwin, the program chairman. (Photo by Wayne Clark)
By WAYNE CLARK
VALLEY — Chuck Goodwin had some interesting advice while speaking at last Wednesday's noon hour meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Valley. "When you pray for things you'd better watch what you pray for," he said.
Goodwin found that out the hard way two years ago when he lost his job. His life has changed dramatically since that time. After some soul searching, he was ordained as a minister in 2015 and began a new, and very satisfying, career the Achievement Center in Opelika. He's an employment specialist and helps people who have some kind of disability find work.
"We're a private, non-profit organization," he said. "It's been there since 1961, we receive funding from Easter Seals. A total of 52 people are there. People with some kind of disability, either physical or mental, come to us. When they do, we evaluate them to find out what kind of skills they have. We try to find them employment and to help give them a sense of self worth. We don't look at their disability — we look at what they are able to do and help them become a contributing member of society."
Services offered through the Achievement Center assist a person with some kind of disability obtain competitive or extended employment, help maximize their independent living skills and equip them to live at the highest possible level of independence within the community.
No person is excluded from participation based on race, color, age, sex, national origin or disabling condition.
Goodwin says that the vast majority of the people who come to the Center have a very good work ethic. "Most of the want full-time employment," he said. "Some of our main tasks include light assembly work and light manufacturing work. We pay them a wage, run a business and give people a chance to work who would not otherwise be able to find a job."
In the Achievement Center's work center, individuals receive real world work experience while getting a chance to prove their ability to work. Workers are compensated according to individual rate of production. They also get on-the-job training in a variety of skill areas.
"In many cases, we take people who have never worked before and put them in a work setting," Goodwin said. "We pay them to be there. We're basically paying an employer to train their employee."
For 55 years now, the Achievement Center has served Lee, Chambers, Russell, Tallapoosa and Macon counties in east-central Alabama. "Because of the success we've had, we've moved into west-central Georgia and are providing services to residents of Troup, Harris, Meriwether and Muscogee counties who need us," Goodwin said. "Our business is growing so well that we'll be helping a lot of people we're partnering with."
The Achievement Center will soon be expanding to the Valley campus of Southern Union State Community College. "There's some office space there," Goodwin said. "I'll be working there."
That cuts out the need for a daily drive to Opelika and back.
Goodwin credited civic clubs such as the Kiwanis Club of Valley on having done good work over the years in getting the word out about what the Achievement Center does. The more people who can be helped, the better off society will be.
Goodwin said the hardest people to place in a new job setting are those who have good educations and good work backgrounds but have suffered some kind of setback such as being injured in a car wreck or having had a stroke.
"We want to put people back in the community so they can give back to it," he said.
The Achievement Center has a highly successful Certified Nursing Assistant, or CNA, program. "Close to 100 percent of our graduates are employed," Goodwin said.
The CNA class prepares students to achieve the level of health/science knowledge, patient care skills and abilities that are needed and required to provide basic care to patients/residents in long term care facilities. The class consists of four weeks of classroom instruction and one week of clinical experience. Students are prepared to pass the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program Examination, which gives them CNA status.
"We teach basic skills people can use in a work setting," Goodwin said. "We have lots of success stories. We could not survive without small businesses. We really appreciate them. These hometown-type businesses work really well with us."
"A lot of people we work with want to work full time but cannot do that because of a physical limitation," he said. "Most of the people I work with are between 25 and 40 years of age. They have been referred to us by the Alabama, or Georgia, Department of Rehabilitation. We have to be an accredited facility to work for the government. Thousands of pages of paper work have to be filled out right."
Someone with some kind of disability doesn't have to worry about that. Those who successfully complete the program are placed within a few months. "Some faster than that," Goodwin said. "I am so proud to be a part of the good work the Achievement Center is doing. It's a great organization, and we're growing. I'm excited to have a chance to come back to the Valley to work."
The Achievement Center's production areas include product assembly, packaging, auto bagging, contract work and repair, wood pallets, collating and labeling, inspection and sorting and woodworking.
"We strive to help people achieve their maximum potential," Goodwin said. "Our workforce is ready, willing and able to work for you."
Special to THE TIMES-NEWS
VALLEY — Chattahoochee Humane Society has a three-phase renovation taking place that will transform the relationship between animals and humans in our community.
The new Pet Complex will bring a friendly and inviting space that will increase the value of animals and improve the human and animal condition. It will provide much needed space to promote and provide animal services, plus meeting rooms, offices and play areas that are both inside and outside, for public interaction with pets plus increased storage, a laundry area and separate entrances for animal control and persons seeking to adopt.
The current facility was built in the late 1970s and has served its purpose well. However, with the passage of time and use, the building needs over $300,000 in repairs and updates and sits on a small piece of property that will not allow for more growth.
It has a front entry that is used by the staff, animal control and the public when turning in animals, adopting animals and claiming their lost pets. It is a very chaotic space. The cats reside in small kennels that only allow them enough room to turn around. The dog kennels need all fencing replaced; roof and gutters need replacing; and the block walls are missing so much mortar that light shines in from outside.
When the campaign began last year, the Smith Group of Auburn received pledges of $300,000 from local residents when they were interviewed. The fundraising group helped introduce the campaign and bring the project to a realistic goal to fit our community. Those pledges and other donations have enabled CHS to purchase property and begin the work.
The old cotton warehouse in the Fairfax Mill Industrial Park was the property purchased and is being repurposed into the new Pet Complex. The historical property will soon house dog adoption suites with viewing windows and space for the pets to interact with potential adopters. It will also have kitten play houses plus a free roaming, “glass” walled, interactive cat play room where visitors can enter and spend time with the cats while they play and nap. The building has the space for a pet training and agility center, event center, meeting and office spaces, storage and the county shelter. There will be walking paths for the public to bring their pets or spend time with one waiting for adoption.
There are also plans to add boarding kennels and a grooming salon. These services, along with the event center, summer camp, pet behavior classes and store will help CHS with additional costs to maintain the new complex.
The public will have a designated entrance just for turning in animals and it will be on the same level as the shelter. The upper level provides parking and a separate entrance for those interested in adopting or just visiting to play with the cats, dogs and kittens available for adoption.
The first phase of the project includes the start of the pet adoption center and has already begun. The architectural renderings and plans are in the final stages. Structural, mechanical and electrical engineers have completed their part of the design process. Demolition is completed on the inside and plumbing has begun for the adoption suites along with framing for offices, meeting rooms and storage. The roof has been repaired from the many years of neglect and lighting is completed on the upper level.
Phase Two of the project will include the completion of the Palmisano Pet Adoption Center, named after a generous donation of $300,000 made by the Palmisano family, formerly of West Point. The second phase will also include the county shelter, entrances, and exterior repairs, parking, paving, grading, fencing and beginning landscaping.
Phase Three will include the dog walking trails, the pet agility and training center, a grooming area, the event center and completed landscaping. Boarding kennels will be possible when funding is received.
“Our board and staff are 100-percent committed to the success of this project,” said O’neal Shaw, CHS president. “We know this new facility will increase our presence in the community and improve our relationship with animals. Our ultimate goal is to increase the value of animals and help make the animal-human relationship more rewarding and joyful. We want our community to be known for their kindness which leads to humane treatment of animals. This fundamental behavior will attract more businesses and residents to our area. CHS will fulfill our motto that, a humane community is a safe community so one day we can reach our goal of no more homeless pets,” he concluded.
Campaign Chair Sharon Hawkins talked about how exciting it was to see the plan coming to fruition. “We’re making the transition from animal sheltering to animal services so we can better meet the needs of our community and improve animal welfare.” she said. “Everyone needs to know that they can make a difference and leave a lasting impact by making a donation to this campaign. Donations come in the form of time, money and even plants for landscaping, and many naming opportunities. Don’t miss out in being a part of this new beginning with a positive and lasting legacy.”
To learn more, make a donation, donate, or volunteer, please visit the CHS website, chatthumane.org, or call (334)756-9377 or (706)518-7074.
By DAVID BELL
LaFAYETTE — Last week's political forum in LaFayette, presented by the Greater Valley Area Chamber of Commerce, featured county candidates seeking office in the Nov. 8 general election.
They included the positions of Chambers County school superintendent, school board District 5, county commission Districts 2 and 4, and District Attorney of the Fifth Judicial Circuit.
The forum was held at the Alfa Building on Highway 50, moderated by Gator Kincaid. Each candidate was allowed two minutes for an opening statement, followed by questions submitted by the Chamber and citizens who attended the event. Ninety seconds was given for responses, and all candidates made a closing state-
Chambers County School Superintendent
Incumbent Republican Dr. Kelli Hodge is being challenged by Independent Winford Lee Ashmore, who began his opening statement by saying that many local schools and programs were "not up to par" when compared with others, which he would work to improve if elected.
"LaFayette High School is the only one in the county with a favorable rating by the state in terms of achievement," said Ashmore. "Other schools are below average with much room for improvement."
Ashmore said the school system also needs to be more accountable for spending, and work to improve student safety.
Dr. Hodge cited several accomplishments during her first term as superintendent, including higher graduation rates, new pre-school programs, added career advancement opportunities and better fiscal responsibility through an aggressive energy savings program.
"The career technical center has been a major success," said Hodge. "We have also added culinary and graphic arts to improve job skills."
Hodge said student test score data indicated a weakness in science, which the system is addressing through a partnership with Kia to provide new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) classes.
County School Board District 5
Republican Vicki Leak and Democrat Tracy Culpepper are seeking the District 5 seat on the Chambers County school board. Leak, a retired teacher and principal who spent almost 30 years in the local school system, was the only candidate who participated in the forum.
"I am running for school board because I am passionate about public education and our students," said Leak. "I have an eye toward serving the needs of our students, regardless of their abilities and backgrounds. I have respect for diverse points of view, knowledge about our system's policies, strengths and challenges, and I have the ability to work well with a team. I have the commitment and time required to serve."
County Commission District 2
Democrat Douglas E. Jones and Independent Roger Dale Carlisle are running for the District 2 seat on the Chambers County Commission.
Carlisle said he considers himself a good public servant, having been successful with business and political ventures during the time he formerly lived in Texas.
"If elected, I'll give District 2 my very best," said Carlisle. "I'll listen to the people and be diligent to address their concerns."
When asked what he would do to improve conditions at the county jail, Carlisle suggested privatization may be the answer.
"The jail didn't get in that shape yesterday," said Carlisle. "It has not been properly maintained since the time it was built. Private operation may be an alternative worth considering for the future; just contract it out."
Jones, who is a local pastor, said county officials needed to work collectively to bring more jobs into Chambers County.
"Nobody can make positive changes alone," said Jones. "We must all work together."
Jones said, if approved by the state, he would favor a county gas tax to maintain roads, and would advocate for alternating commission meeting times to allow more citizens an opportunity to attend.
County Commission District 4
Democratic incumbent Henry Osborne is being challenged by Republican Sam Bradford for the District 4 seat on the Chambers County Commission.
Bradford is a retired educator who spent nearly 40 years as a teacher and principal at schools in Chambers and Troup counties. If elected, he said he would concentrate immediately on bringing county audits up to date.
"We are currently about three years behind," said Bradford. "This prevents us from selling bonds for capital improvements, so it must be addressed first."
Bradford said he also favored better communication with city officials and constituents to properly meet their needs, better accountability, a more proactive agenda, increased transparency, and conducting county business under a more open policy.
Osborne said city and county officials are already working well together for improvements of roads and bridges, but a different approach may be necessary to solve issues with the county jail.
"We have a serious problem with the jail system that needs to be fixed, and I know it takes money to do that," said Osborne. "We've had several discussions, and we need to look at the purchase of new property for the construction of a new jail facility."
Osborne added that he has always tried to serve his constituents to the best of his ability, and would continue to do so if re-elected.
Fifth Judicial Circuit District Attorney
Republican Bill Harris and Democrat D. Jeremy Duerr are seeking the position of District Attorney for the Fifth Judicial Circuit, which includes the counties of Chambers, Randolph, Tallapoosa and Macon.
Harris, a Valley attorney who began his career as a law enforcement officer, said the DA's office needs better management to clear a large backlog of cases.
"There are currently 479 cases backlogged in circuit court and more than 500 in district court, some dating back as far as 1991," said Harris. "We must beef up our investigation staff, look at these cases, see if witnesses are still available and evidence preserved."
Harris added that greater accountability and better efficiency for the office as a whole will be crucial elements for bringing the backlogs under control.
Duerr, an Alexander City resident who currently serves as an assistant DA in the circuit, said there will always be a backlog of cases due to current restrictions.
"There is only a limited amount of time for trying cases on the docket," said Duerr. "With our current staff, we would never be able to clear every single case."
Duerr said, if elected, he would take a more active leadership role and be a greater presence in the district. He would also appoint a chief assistant DA and do a better job of working with victim witnesses in preparing them for court.
By Wayne Clark
Times-News News Editor
VALLEY – Valley High head football coach Brad Lowe was the guest speaker at Wednesday’s noon hour meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Valley and talked about a subject that’s most unpleasant for Valley fans: the team’s 26-0 season opening loss to long-time rival Lanett.
As the score would indicate, the Rams made a lot of mistakes in that game, but the coach didn’t make any excuses. The simple truth is that Valley is very young this year, they’re trying to adapt to a new system and there will be ups and downs along the way.
“We’re obviously disappointed,” he said, “because of our mistakes, too many turnovers and a poor kicking game. It’s the kind of thing you take personal because you’re invested in it, and you’ve moved your family here.”
In times of crisis, one has to do some soul searching. “You have to believe in yourself, your system and in your guys,” he said. “Most of the time when you’re going through a transition there are growing pains.”
Lowe thanked the school system’s administration for being very supportive of him in his short time at Valley High. He also thanked Lanett High coach Clifford Story on having befriended him. “This is his eighth year at Lanett. That makes a difference,” he said.
Coach Story would be the first to tell you that he’s had some setbacks in his program. He’s also had a lot of high points, too.
Coach Lowe said that there would be accountability in his program. This means that from the head coach on down everyone will do things the right way. “We have a long way to go,” he said. “We are very inexperienced.”
The team started three freshmen in Friday night’s game with Lanett. Many of the starters on offense and defense are sophomores. That bodes well for the future, but there’s going to be a learning curve to get there. Most of the players had had very little varsity experience prior to this year, and there’s been little chance for leaders to emerge.
“There are a lot of variables we have to address,” he said, “and you can’t neglect any phase of the game. We are trying to get better every day. We need to be more physical and to be more mentally tough. It will take everyone working together for us to be successful. We need to have an exponential curve and take off. We don’t know when it will come, but we will continue to fight and push to get there. And we won’t give up.”
Lowe said his players are responding to what the coaches are teaching them but that it will take some time before they have the consistency they need. “We want to be tough, hard nosed and disciplined and we want that to mean more than something you put on a t-shirt,” he said. “Getting there won’t be easy – it will take some sacrifices – but I will do all I can do, as much as I possibly can, to do it the right way. Whether we win no games, one game or nine, we will do it the right way.”
Lowe thanked the administration for helping the program by installing some new stairs from the field house to the practice field and for painting the locker room. He said he liked some study hall sessions the players are taking to stay ahead with their class work.
“When things go wrong, I’m going to be the first one to look in the mirror and ask, ‘What do we have to do to get better?’” Lowe said. “Some people think that when you change coaches a new staff will come in with a magic playbook and things will be much better. It’s not that simple. Getting better will be tough. Some players will be weeded out before that happens. You have to make tough decisions and live by them. We will try to improve and go from there.”
The team is in pretty good shape health wise heading into Friday’s home opener versus Russell County. “We have a few bumps and bruises but nothing major. We’re not in great, great shape after week one, but we are in pretty good shape. You can’t prepare for a game without practicing, and you can’t prepare without hitting.”
When asked how his team would respond to the Lanett loss, Lowe said that he’s a straight forward, transparent kind of guy. “I don’t know,” he said. “We’re very young and lacking in leadership. We have so many guys who haven’t had to be leaders before. We want our ninth and tenth graders to be talking to our seniors about this. We’re hoping to see a lot of improvement from last week in our game with Russell County.”
The big thing is to avoid mistakes. “Last week’s game would have been a lot different if we hadn’t turned it over five times and had not given up a touchdown pass on a fourth and ten play,” Coach Lowe said. “We have to learn from that. We need to be more disciplined and to avoid those kinds of mistakes.”
By Scott Sickler
Times-News Sports Editor
Pack up the SUV, ice down the cooler, toss in the chips, salsa and sandwiches and head out Friday evening to support your favorite high school football team in the first full weekend of the season.
After Valley, Lanett, LaFayette and Troup all opened last weekend, all seven local schools will be playing Friday in a busy Week 1 of key games.
•The Valley Rams (0-1) are coming off a disappointing 26-0 loss to rival Lanett last week and need to regain its confidence Friday when coach Brad Lowe’s team hosts Russell Co. at Rams Stadium.
Valley struggled on both sides of the line last week and need a solid, all-around game Friday with a big win over the Warriors.
Valley leads the all-time series with Russell Co., 15-1.
•The Lanett Panthers (1-0) will look to continue its outstanding play Friday when coach Clifford Story’s team is on the road at the Notasulga Blue Devils.
The Panthers passing game was in midseason form and Lanett’s team defensive effort was its best since the 2013 region championship season.
Look for Lanett to roll Friday as the Panthers are 7-0 all-time vs. Notasulga.
•The LaFayette Bulldogs (1-0) renew a local rivalry with the Loachapoka Indians Friday in Lee Co.
The Bulldogs were outstanding last week in a 44-29 win over Dadeville.
Expect much of the same for coach James Lucas’ squad as they move to 2-0. LaFayette leads the series with Loachapoka 10-8.
•The Springwood Wildcats will head to Kingwood for its AISA opener and begin its first season in 3A play.
Coach Thomas Hill’s team is big and physical and once they get back a few players who are banged up, they will be a force and tough foe for any opponent.
Shykee Thomas is an outstanding speedster and look for a big season for the senior.
Springwood trails in the series to Kingwood 3-1.
•The Troup Tigers (0-1) and coach Tanner Glisson dropped a 21-14 heartbreaker last week on the road to Hardaway.
The Tigers are improved but still learning the ropes of how to win and gaining the confidence they need on a consistent basis to be successful.
Troup will host Kendrick Friday at Callaway Stadium in search of its first victory.
Troup leads the all-time series with Kendrick 7-0.
•Coach Jason Allen leads the Chambers Academy Rebels as they head to Harpersville to take on Coosa Valley Academy in its season opener.
CA is loaded this fall and hoping to make a serious run for the AISA 1A state championship.
The Rebels looked terrific on both sides of the ball in a jamboree last week.
CA leads the series with CVA 23-8.
•Coach Jarrod Wooten is now in his fourth season leading his alma mater at Beulah High as they head to Spring Garden High.
Earning a big early season win will be huge for the Bobcats confidence and build upon that the rest of the season.
This is the first meeting between Beulah and Spring Garden.
By Scott Sickler
Times-News Sports Editor
We’re only one game into the high school football season but already local players have put up some impressive numbers in a pair of big wins last week.
Lanett senior quarterback Tre Story completed 13-of-20 passes for 209 yards and four scores in a 26-0 win over rival Valley.
In addition, junior wideout Anquavious “Long” Pollard had five receptions for 91 yards and three TDs.
Story and Pollard both enjoyed excellent seasons last year for Lanett and they’re off to great starts this year as well. Lanett’s defense played its best game since 2013 when they pitched a shutout last week.
•In other games, LaFayette senior quarterback Jartavious Whitlow accumulated 425 yards of offense, including 279 rushing and four TDs and another 146 passing yards and a fifth score in a 44-29 win over Dadeville.
A USA Army Top-400 All-American, Whitlow is considered one of the top prospects in the state and already been offered a scholarship by Auburn.
HUGULEY — Funeral services are pending for Mrs. Malinda Bishop Duvall, 51, of Huguley, who passed away Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016, at East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika, Ala.
Johnson Brown-Service Funeral Home in Valley is in charge of arrangements.
WEST POINT — Mrs. Anne Edge Fiquette passed away Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016.
A memorial service will be held Friday, Aug. 26 from 6 until 7 p.m. at First Baptist Church chapel in West Point.
No obituaries were reported today.
CAMP HILL, Ala. — Mr. Bert Bickerstaff, 74, of Camp Hill passed away Friday, Aug. 19, 2016, at Bethany House in Auburn, Ala.
Funeral services will be held Wednesday, Aug. 24 at 3 p.m. CDT at Mt. Lovely Baptist Church in Camp Hill with the Rev. Bernard Harris, pastor, and the Rev. JaCorey Holloway officiating. Burial will follow at the church cemetery.
Silmon-Seroyer Funeral Home in LaFayette is in charge of arrangements.
WEST POINT — Ms. Nora Lisa Dowdell, 51, of West Point, formerly of LaFayette, passed away Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016, at West Georgia Health in LaGrange, Ga.
Funeral services will be held Wednesday, Aug. 24 at 1 p.m. CDT at New Canaan Baptist Church in Camp Hill, Ala., with the Rev. Justin Freeman, pastor, and the Rev. Melvin Owens officiating. Burial will follow at the church cemetery.
Silmon-Seroyer Funeral Home in LaFayette is in charge of arrangements.
LANETT — Funeral services are pending for Mr. Gentle Varner of Lanett, who passed away Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2016, at his residence.
Foreman Funeral Home in Valley is in charge of arrangements.
WEST POINT — Mrs. Ardell D. Winston of West Point passed away Monday, Aug. 22, 2016, at her residence.
Arrangements will be announced by M.W. Lee Mortuary of West Point.