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May 25, 2017
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Aubie visits EAMC-Lanier Nursing Home during special week
Aubie visits EAMC-Lanier Nursing Home during special week

Residents at EAMC-Lanier Nursing Home received a surprise visit from nationally award-winning Auburn University mascot Aubie the Tiger Friday, who joined their continuing celebration of National Nursing Home Week. Daily activities throughout the week included a fish fry, pajama party, Super Hero Day, a luau and beauty pageant. (Photo by David Bell)

Chambers BOE approves reconfigured elementary schools
Chambers BOE approves reconfigured elementary schools


LaFAYETTE — In a called meeting Wednesday afternoon, the Chambers County Board of Education took action on two separate matters that involve some controversy. In each case, the school board unanimously backed the recommendation made by Superintendent Dr. Kelli Hodge.

In one action they supported her decision to reconfigure two elementary schools; in the other they went along with her recommendation to suspend the Valley High band director one week without pay.

The school change will be taking place at the start of the coming school year this August. The attendance zones for Bob Harding-Shawmut and LaFayette Lanier Elementary are being combined into a new zone. Bob Harding-Shawmut will convert from a pre-k through fifth grade school to a pre k to second grade. LaFayette Lanier will make the switch from kindergarten to fifth grade to third grade to grade five.

The proposed change was discussed at length in last week’s regular board meeting. This gave board members the chance to discuss it with constituents before meeting in a called session for a vote.

Dr. Hodge told the board that she’d gotten two e-mails in support of the change and nine that were opposed. Two of those e-mails were from people who had attended one of the schools in their youth. Dr. Hodge said she’d gotten a couple of phone calls on the subject and that one person had come by to talk to her about it in her office.

Board Member Judy LaFollette said that she had gotten some feedback from people on the free and reduced lunch issue that was involved.

“There’s a lot of misunderstanding out there why this is being considered,” Board Member Chris Busby said, asking Dr. Hodge to talk about some legal reasons that are involved in this.

Dr. Hodge explained that public schools in Chambers County are still under the Lee vs. Macon federal court case from the 1960s. The only way to come out from under it (as some affected districts have) is to be granted unitary status. That would mean the local school district could make decisions without someone peeking over their shoulder.

“We really haven’t tried to achieve unitary status,” Dr. Hodge said. “In the last two years, we have had four visits from the Justice Department and the Legal Defense Fund. Our board has been discussing this with our attorney. I am trying to be proactive and to do what is in the best interests of our students and their parents. If we let the feds decide for us, they will only look at numbers on paper.”

The kinds of numbers they will be looking at is the fact that Bob Harding-Shawmut is overwhelmingly white while LaFayette Lanier has a majority black student population. They could consider that de facto segregation and order one of the two schools closed altogether. The local school board acting on its own can keep both of them open, making one of them pre-K through the second grade and the other a third through fifth grade school. The two schools would be much more racially balanced than they are now.

The key point to remember is that if the local board doesn’t act on this, the federal government can step in and force more radical changes.

“We are trying to gain unitary status,” Dr. Hodge said. “It could take us 10 years to do that. Without it, our hands are tied on a lot of things. You really don’t understand it unless you live it every day.”

Board Member Vicki Leak thanked her for that explanation. “The public needs to understand this and what it means to have unitary status,” she said.

LaFollette said that when she was a central office employee in 1991 she went to Washington, D.C., to explain why the local board was going through some school consolidation for financial reasons. “The litigation people are not easy to deal with,” she said. “We had a hard time back then. We closed River View School and the parents had no say in it. Chambers County High School in Milltown closed, and they had no say so. We also closed Five Points High.”

LaFollette said there’s always hard feelings when such action takes place. “There’s no easy fix,” she said, adding jokingly, “I had brown hair back then.”

“It’s a hard pill to swallow,” she said, “but it’s better for us to fix it and not wait for them to do it their way.”

Board Member Jeffrey Finch said that Chambers County residents should be looking to the future. “People need to understand that we are in a good position now,” he said. “We have considered consolidation before. Chambers County loses out on a lot because of the way our schools are designed. There are benefits with having consolidated schools. We lost a lot when the mills closed. We need to get out of the box, away from individualized thinking. We need three schools, an elementary school, a middle school and a high school, and to get away from individual thinking.”

Board President Bill Martin said that he was PTO president at Bob Harding-Shawmut when the consolidation took place in 1991. “I found out then that it was best to make changes on your own and not wait for the federal government to do it. I think that what we are now considering will be an excellent fit.”

Dr. Hodge said that such issues as arrival times, and having parents’, grandparents’ and awards days on the same day could be worked out. If a bus needs to be added to get the children to a school that can be worked out, too.

“The principals are excited about this,” she said. “It allows them to narrow their focus on what they need to be expert about.”

Leak said she thought parents’ minds would be at ease if they had a clear understanding of what was going to be done.

“People are always scared of change,” Dr. Hodge said. “The teachers like what we are doing. They are on board with us. The big thing is that change is scary. I think the kids will adapt to it with no problem.”

“If parents have a good, excited attitude toward something, their kids will, too,” Leak said. “One question I’ve been getting is ‘Why are we doing it so quickly?’”

“We want to be proactive and jump on it while we can,” Dr. Hodge said.

“One question I’ve been getting,” said Busby, “is ‘Why these two schools and why not others?’”

“Just because these two schools are being done now doesn’t necessarily mean that other changes won’t be coming,” said Dr. Hodge. “Don’t think that schools that aren’t being discussed today won’t be discussed later on.”

Another change that’s coming involves start times at LaFayette schools. They will be later in the coming school year to have the same start times at the Career Technical Center for the students who are coming over from Valley.

“We’ve had to make changes across the county,” Dr. Hodge said. “There are some huge changes at the Career Technical Center.”

Following board approval of the reconfiguration of Bob Harding-Shawmut and LaFayette Lanier, Dr. Hodge said that she would be sending letters to parents explaining in detail what was taking place.

The board then went into executive session to discuss a matter relating to the Valley High Band program.

After a closed-door session approximately 25 minutes in length, the open session resumed. Dr. Hodge recommended that Band Director Shannon Chandler be suspended without pay for the period of May 18-26.

This is in response to what happened with a gag award made by band members to a fellow band member. It’s a tradition for the band members to do this, and it’s all intended in good fun. In most cases, the recipient of this lighthearted award is a senior who’s about to graduate.

Mr. Chandler knew of this, had no problem with it and it had never presented a problem until this year. A parent complained that the classmate recognition their child had received was racially insensitive, treating their Latino heritage differently and in a hurtful sort of way.

Rather than first reporting it to the board, the parent made her complaint on Facebook, causing it to blow up in a widely talked about issue before the school board had a chance to deal with it.

In a second closed-door hearing, the board discussed personnel changes heading into the 2016-17 school year. This discussion takes place every year at this time and involves terminations and transfers, effective at the end of the final working day of the current school year. The recommendations made by Dr. Hodge were unanimously backed by the board. Board President Martin abstained from one of the votes because it involved a relative.

Troup continues to add jobs as unemployment rate down to 4.3%
Troup continues to add jobs as unemployment rate down to 4.3%


ATLANTA — Employment continued to grow in Troup County during April, according to reports from the Georgia Department of Labor.

Troup County’s unemployment rate fell to 4.3 percent in April from 4.5 percent in March as the county’s employment number rose along with its civilian labor force.

In April employment in Troup County passed the 35,000 mark, reaching 35,003, compared to 34,865 in March. The county’s civilian labor force grew by 71 to 36,591.

Unemployment in the county fell to 1,588 from March’s 1,655. Last year in April, Troup’s unemployment rate stood at 4.7 percent.

Harris County saw its unemployment rate decline as well, falling to 4.2 percent in April from 4.4 percent in March. Employment was stable in Harris, 15,107 both months, but Harris’s civilian labor force contracted slightly to 15,775 from March’s 15,807.

Harris County unemployment rate a year ago was 4.5 percent.

Unemployment rates for area cities include LaGrange, 4.9 percent, down from 5.1 percent, and Columbus, 5.9 percent, down from 6.2 percent.

Statewide, Georgia’s unemployment rate was 5 percent in April, down from March’s 5.1 percent. Employment in the state grew by more than 15,000 month over month.

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Beulah's Wooten steps down, will be DC at Straughn
Beulah's Wooten steps down, will be DC at Straughn

By Scott Sickler

Times-News Sports Editor

BEULAH — After four years at his alma mater, Beulah High football coach Jarrod Wooten has decided to step down from his post and take a position as defensive coordinator next fall at Straughn High School, Wooten told The Times-News late Wednesday evening.

“I'm going to be the defensive coordinator at Straughn,” Wooten said. “I need to step away from the extra things that go with being a head coach for a while. I'm definitely disappointed with this situation, because I don't feel like the kids have had the chance to fully develop their potential. Ultimately, I’m the head coach and I’m accountable for the outcome. Regardless of who makes a decision and whether it impacts the program positively or negatively, it is still the head coach’s responsibility.”

Wooten cited a lack of stability for part of his frustration in leading the football program.

“I'm on my fourth daily schedule in four years, so I feel like I'm doing a different job for the sixth year in a row. I told Joey Biddle when I arrived, that I wanted to bring some stability to the program, but it's been anything but stable. The players that stuck with us have done all they could do within the guidelines of the situation they were given.”

Wooten thinks Beulah can have a successful team next fall but is still lacking more depth and in 3A play, it’s a must to have a 35-40 man roster. The Bobcats had 26 out for spring ball.

“This core group that is coming back next year will have a chance to win and get to the playoffs again," Wooten noted. "They just need to catch every break they need in terms of being healthy and finding some depth somewhere. It's very stressful to feel like you have to go into every game with a perfect game plan. Ten or more players could have a huge impact on the program, if they would work together with the guys who have been there all along.”

Wooten compiled a four-year record at Beulah of 8-32, including 6-19 in region play.

This past season was his ninth year overall as a head coach. He previously served as head coach at Houston Co. for three seasons (2008-2010) where he went 13-18 but had a stellar 8-3 year in 2009. Wooten also was head coach at Parrish High in 2012 (5-5).

Wooten is 26-55 overall in nine seasons and is 0-2 in the state playoffs. He was also the 12th coach in Beulah’s football history which began in 1973.

He was the school’s fourth head coach since 2005 (Jeff Lamb, Steve White and Craig Hall preceded Wooten.)

Beulah’s last region championship was in 1995 under coach Kelley Farrar.

A championship football program requires commitment and dedication from the top on down and, make no mistake, it’s a year-round task in order to compete.

“We have fought the mindset that you can take 1-to-3 years off playing and working out and then try to come back out and play at a high level,” Wooten added. “High school sports has been a year-round thing for a long time. Lifting weights year-round has been a thing for a long time. Every single sport has a need for year-round weight training. You can’t be successful today without it. Anyone who truly knows me knows that I worked for 20 years to get here and I never thought that leaving here was something that I would want to do. It’s still not what I want to do, but I think it’s time. In these circumstances, I actually think it's the right thing to do. I love these players who have fought every day with me, and I take it personally when the others have quit on their teammates. It's going to take a group to make the commitment to stay together all the way through, no matter what. We had an all-state player three years in a row and every senior player last year had been offered at least a tryout for the next level. This is because they got the job done in the classroom as well. I'm going to miss the close relationship with the boosters and Roger Keel. Those folks make Beulah go. My prayer is that the right person is hired who can pull all the things that these kids deserve into place, be successful and get this program over the hump. That's not as far away as it has been made out to be.”

Troup's Glisson named FCA West Georgia Coach of Year
Troup's Glisson named FCA West Georgia Coach of Year

By Scott Sickler

Times-News Sports Editor

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Third-year Troup football coach Tanner Glisson is doing some amazing things with the Tigers football program in terms of building not only a winning program but also developing young men of strong faith, character, discipline and future winners in the game of life as well.

A member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Glisson is busy getting his team ready for the upcoming season after coming off an 8-3, GHSA 4A Region 5 runner-up and state playoff season in 2016.

After going 1-9 in 2015, Glisson and staff have done a terrific job of building the program and have the kids believing once again they can challenge for the region championship and make a run in the state playoffs.

It’s been Glisson’s infectious enthusiasm, faith and dedication to the young people in his program which have made the young coach one of the most popular in all of GHSA football.

And his relentless commitment to work in the FCA program and Troup football hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Glisson was named as the FCA West Georgia FCA Coach of the Year at the May 22 FCA banquet held in Columbus Monday evening.

The award involves 10 counties and over 25 schools.

“I’m so proud of our staff, players and organization as a whole," Glisson said. “This is a great honor.”

•Troup returns a plethora of talented players on both sides of the ball as the Tigers look to win its first region championship in 30 years this fall.

Wildcat pitcher West signs with Huntingdon College
Wildcat pitcher West signs with Huntingdon College

By Scott Sickler

Times-News Sports Editor

LANETT — After a stellar career for the Springwood Wildcats baseball team, senior student-athlete Noah West will continue his college career at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, West announced in a signing ceremony at the school last week.

A five-year starter, West put up some impressive numbers on the mound for the Wildcats diamond nine.

His career totals include the following:

A .370 batting average, 70 RBIs, a 3.4 ERA and 25 wins in his five years on the mound.

As a senior, West hit for a .400 clip, had 15 RBIs, a 3.2 ERA and a sparkling 5-1 record.

West will also participate at the AISA Senior All-Star game June 5, Drew Dorsey, Springwood athletic director, told The Times-News.

In addition, Noah was named as the Springwood baseball most outstanding player this spring.


Obituaries for Thursday, May 25, 2017
Obituaries for Thursday, May 25, 2017


LANETT — Mr. Willie Bailey of Lanett passed away Wednesday, May 24, 2017, at EAMC-Lanier Nursing Home in Valley.

The family may be contacted at the residence of Mrs. Annie Thelma Bailey, 1531 27th St. SW, Lanett.

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


VALLEY — Mrs. Renea Adams Clark, 45, of Valley passed away Tuesday, May 23, 2017, at East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika, Ala.

Funeral services will be held Saturday, May 27 at 2 p.m. at Happy Valley Baptist Church with the Rev. John Samanie officiating. Burial will follow at Fairfax Cemetery.

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


ELLENWOOD, Ga. — Mr. Eric Orlando " Big Eazy" Cumberlander, 42, of Ellenwood, formerly of Lanett, passed away Thursday, May 18, 2017, at his residence.

Funeral services will be held Friday, May 26 at 2:30 p.m. at St. John Community Baptist Church with the Rev. Eric Dowdell, pastor, the Rev. S. Dewayne Drakeford, eulogist, the Rev. G.L. Fanning, Minister Robert L. Brock Jr., the Rev. Dr. Candy Thacker and the Rev. Billy Drake officiating. Burial will follow at the church cemetery.

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


LANETT — Funeral services for Mr. Michael Quantez Vines, 31, of Lanett will be held at 1 p.m. Friday, May 26 at Greenwood Missionary Baptist Church, 4829 Veterans Memorial Parkway, Lanett, with the Rev. Dr. James McTier Jr. officiating. Burial will follow at the church cemetery,

Mr. Vines passed away Friday, May 19, 2017, at East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika, Ala.

Harris Funeral Home of Opelika is in charge of arrangements.

Obituaries for Wednesday, May 24, 2017
Obituaries for Wednesday, May 24, 2017


LaFAYETTE — Funeral arrangements are pending for Mr. George Carlisle, 55, of LaFayette, who passed away Wednesday, May 24, 2017, at Bethany House in Auburn, Ala.

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


VALLEY — Mrs. Renea Clark, 45, of Valley passed away Tuesday, May 23, 2017, at East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika, Ala.

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


LANETT — Mr. Lester Huguley of Lanett passed away Tuesday, May 23, 2017, at EAMC-Lanier Hospital in Valley.

The family may be contacted at the residence of David and Doris Huguley, 1015 South Fifth St., Lanett.

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


WEST POINT — Ms. Sherika K. "Weenee" Trammell, 40, of West Point passed away Wednesday, May 17, 2017, at EAMC-Lanier Hospital in Valley.

Funeral services will be held Thursday, May 25 at 2 p.m. at St. John Baptist Church with the Rev. Charles Trammell, the Rev. Marcus Lovelace, the Rev. Anthony Williams and the Rev. Michael Stiggers officiating. Burial will follow at the church cemetery.

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

Obituaries for Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Obituaries for Tuesday, May 23, 2017


VALLEY — Mr. Ervin L. Bailey, 85, of River View passed away Sunday, May 21, 2017, at LaFayette Nursing Home in LaFayette, Ala.

Funeral services will be held at First Christian Church of River View, where he was a member, Thursday, May 25 at 2 p.m. with Dr. Frank Rittenberry officiating. Burial will follow at Fairview Cemetery.

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


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