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April 20, 2014
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Griggs descendants attend Fort Tyler dinner at ancestral home
Griggs descendants attend Fort Tyler dinner at ancestral home

Descendants of Dr. Asa Wesley Griggs, who owned the above house during the Civil War, were special guests at the Fort Tyler Association's annual dinner on Saturday, April 12. They are descended from Asa Griggs Jr., an educator who left the local area and settled in West Columbia, Texas in the late 19th century. He helped start a school district and served as its superintendent as the town grew fast during an oil boom. A high school football field in West Columbia is named for him. The name "Wesley" has been carried down through succeeding generations. The youngest member of the family is named Asa Wesley Griggs III. In the above photo, he's being held by his dad, Blake Asa Wesley II. At left is young Asa Wesley's mom, Vivian. They live north of Dallas. At center is Suzanne Griggs, who lives in the Houston area. On the right are Beth Griggs of Lake Jackson, Texas and Wes Griggs of West Columbia. (Photo by Wayne Clark)

By WAYNE CLARK

LANETT — Some special guests were in attendance at this year's Fort Tyler Association dinner, held Saturday evening, April 12 at the Griggs-Slavich House on North 18th Street.

Descendants of Dr. Asa Wesley and Lois A. Griggs made the trip from Texas to see the home where their forebears lived during the Civil War.

Five generations of today's Griggs family range in age from 95-year-old Beth Griggs to one-year-old Blake Asa Wesley Griggs III. Young Wesley and his parents, Blake and Vivian Griggs, live north of Dallas. Blake's mom, Suzanne, lives in the Houston area. The matriarch of the family, Beth, lives in Lake Jackson, Texas and the elder Wes in West Columbia, Texas.

It was to West Columbia where Asa Wesley Griggs Jr. migrated in the years following the Civil War. An educator, Griggs Jr. helped establish a school district and would later serve as superintendent. Located near Houston, West Columbia was a booming oil town at the time.

West Columbia is of historic importance to the state of Texas in that the first Congress of the Republic of Texas convened there in 1836. The famed Sam Houston lived there at the time.

Growth bypassed West Columbia for Houston. The town had a population of 3,905 in the 2010 census. The Griggs name is still well known in the local area. A high school football field is named for Asa Wesley Griggs Jr.

Today's Griggs family is proud of their Georgia roots and have passed down the name "Wesley" through the succeeding generations.

Blake Griggs, the great-great-grandson of Dr. Asa Griggs Sr.. says that Wesley is his middle name and that lots of other men in the family have that name as well. "Even nephews have it," he said.

"We have a photo of Asa Sr. when he was in a fraternity at the University of Georgia," he said.

While Asa Sr. was a well known physician, succeeding generations of the family have been educators or attorneys.

Asa Sr. was born in Putnam County, Ga., in 1828. He received his education at Franklin College (now UGA) and came to West Point in 1857 following the death of his first wife, Elizabeth Davenport Griggs.

In West Point he married Lois A. McCants, with whom he would live until his death in 1900. Lois was the sister of Major Allen G. McCants, who in 1858 had built the impressive home that's today called the Griggs-Slavich House.

Built with slave labor, the house has stone walls that are more than a foot thick. The original house measured around 40 feet by 50 feet. There was a large room and a wine cellar downstairs. Upstairs there was a hall some 12 feet wide and 40 feet long running through the center of the house with three rooms on each side. The house was built with three sharp gables reminiscent of the period's Gothic revival architectural style. A wide, box bordered walk led from the street to the front steps rising to the upper level of the present porch.

In August 1863, Allen and Olivia McCants conveyed the house and two acres of land to Thomas L. Scott. A couple of months later, Thomas L. and Mary E. Scott conveyed the property by trustee deed to Asa and Lois Griggs for $3,000.

Mr. and Mrs. Griggs lived in that house until their deaths. They had five children. Their daughter, Imogene Griggs Smith (1870-1950) and her husband, Osceola Smith (1873-1948), spent their lives there.

On April 16, 1865, one of the final battles of the Civil War swirled around the Griggs House. Dr. Griggs was away at the time, serving as a surgeon with the 33rd Alabama Infantry Regiment, C.S.A.

Before the fighting started, Mrs. Griggs, her children and servants hastily left the house and crossed a guarded covered bridge spanning the Chattahoochee River to the east side of West Point, where they spent the day with the Major William Reid family. The Reid plantation house was on a hill affording a clear view of the firing of cannons from Fort Tyler and the sounds of battle.

After the fort surrendered and the firing ceased late that afternoon, Mrs. Griggs returned to her home. She found it ransacked and battle scarred but still standing. It was being used as a field hospital where wounded soldiers from both sides were being treated. Joined by other women from West Point, Mrs. Griggs helped care for the wounded and prepared the dead for burial.

Following the war, Dr. Griggs had a long and distinguished career in the field of medicine. At one time he was a "professor of principles and the practice of medicine" at the Atlanta Medical College and practiced surgery at Oglethorpe Medical College, Savannah. He served as president of the Georgia Medical Association in 1890. Three of his sons became doctors. His daughter, Miss Carrie Lou Griggs, taught several generations of children in West Point schools.

Chambers unemployment rate falls to 7.1 percent in March
Chambers unemployment rate falls to 7.1 percent in March

By THE TIMES-NEWS

MONTGOMERY — Alabama’s unemployment rate edged upward in March but joblessness in Chambers County moved in the opposite direction.

Alabama’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 6.7 percent in March, up from February’s 6.4-percent reading.

Chambers County’s rate fell to 7.1 percent from February’s 7.6-percent level.

Chambers saw its civilian labor force grow by 38 to 14,838 in March, employment rose a solid 93 to 13,779 and the number of unemployed persons in the county fell to 1,059 from February’s 1,118.

Neighboring counties had mixed March numbers.

Lee County saw its unemployment rate fall to 5.7 percent from February’s 5.9 percent, Macon’s rate went up t 9.7 percent from February’s 9.3 percent, Randolph’s rate went down to 7.3 percent from 7.6 percent and Tallapoosa’s rate fell to 8.9 percent from February’s 9.2 percent.

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates were Shelby County at 4.8 percent and Lee County at 5.7 percent.

and Cullman and Cherokee Counties at 5.9%. The counties with the highest unemployment rates are: Wilcox County at 16.4%, Perry County at 13.2%, and Dallas County at 12.5%.

Troup school system will cut 30 positions due to budget shortfall
Troup school system will cut 30 positions due to budget shortfall

By CY WOOD

LaGRANGE — The Troup County Board of Education Thursday approved cutting 30 positions from the system's staff.

A projected $3 million budget shortfall for fiscal year 2015 led to the board action.

Superintendent Dr. Cole Pugh explained to the board that the reduction in force would be done under existing board policy.

He said he anticipates that resignations and retirements will cover most of the 30 positions. There may be some reassignments and relocations, he said, but it's highly unlikely that anyone will lose a job because of the reduction in force.

The school system took some significant steps forward in terms of technology during Thursday's meeting.

The board approved spending $311,764.40 to complete the replacement of desktop computers in the system. With this last expenditure, Troup County will have replaced all the system's computers.

Another appropriation, for $440,705.91, will complete the installation of wireless Internet access at all system facilities.

Both bid awards will be covered by Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax IV funds.

The system expects to save around $85,000 a year by going to a new phone system. The board approved a contract for $236,446.35 to convert to voice over Internet protocol (VOIP) service.

The system's current year budget remains in good shape, according to Pugh. At the 75-percent mark of the budget year, the system has collected 82.63 percent of its projected revenues and has expended 73.69 percent of project expenses.

In other action at Thursday's meeting the board:

•Agreed to hold a state-required training session June 3 beginning at 5 p.m.

•Gave final approval to a policy amendment that forbids relatives of system employees from buying items declared surplus by the system.

•Held a 17-minute executive session to discuss personnel matters.

•Approved a $49,550 expenditure to renew an annual software maintenance agreement.

Sports Sports icon 1 Sports icon 1 Sports icon 1 Sports icon 1

Follow Don Cleveland in Monday's Boston Marathon
Follow Don Cleveland in Monday's Boston Marathon

By Scott Sickler

Times-News Sports Editor

Thanks to the technology age, local running fans will be able to keep tabs on Don Cleveland’s check point times in Monday’s 118th running of the Boston Marathon.

The West Point-based attorney will compete in his third straight race at what is considered the most famous marathon in the world.

Cleveland will wear a blue bib with the No. “20930” and will start the marathon in the third corral of the third wave of a running pack which will include 18,000-26,999 competitors.

Cleveland will officially begin his race at 11 a.m. ET, he noted.

“We’re allowed to use a fanny pack to put in your wallet, cell, keys and those type things,” Cleveland said.

All other items such as clothing you take off to warm up before the race, Cleveland noted, are taken up by volunteers and race organizers and donated to homeless shelters and other charities in the area.

Needless to say, the security measures will be very tight.

“They (race officials) will not bus your clothes back to you,” Cleveland said. “There will be a lot of security screening during the race, particularly in areas where people congregate,” said Cleveland.

If you thought 40,000 runners last year was a lot, race organizers are trying to add an additional 10,000 more for Monday’s race and therefore additional law enforcement personnel on hand.

“I’d like to continue to come here and the key of course is to improve my times each year to qualify,” Cleveland said. “You have to beat your qualifying time by at least three minutes to get in,” he added. “I’ve been able to do that and have improved my times all three years I’ve come here, so that’s encouraging.”

Cleveland also said other ways of securing a spot in the coveted field includes those who help raise money for charities as approved through the Boston Athletic Club (BAC), the official organization that runs the race.

The qualifying time for someone in Cleveland’s 62-64 age division is 3:55:00 and he’s been able to beat that all three years fairly easily.

Don says he enjoys the fellowship and friends he’s met at the marathon the last three years, the huge pre-race buffet meal Sunday at City Hall and other events.

“It was really neat in 2012 to have gone on an open house tour of Fenway Park in it’s 100th year, head to the House of Blues and other places,” Cleveland said.

The pre-race meal alone is a logistical masterpiece in feeding — buffet style — 50,000 runners this year.

“When they say you can eat as much as you want, they mean it,” Cleveland added. “They’ll even come around and offer more. Believe me, you won’t go hungry. My plan for Saturday is to head to the North End and the great Italian food.”

•To follow Cleveland Monday, send a text to: “345678” and enter in his blue bib number “20930” and you’ll have four check point times posted on Cleveland’s race times. The intervals will be approximately 10K, 20K, 30K and the finish line.

Valley softball posts 20th win; Troup baseball wins 1-0
Valley softball posts 20th win; Troup baseball wins 1-0

By Scott Sickler

Times-News Sports Editor

VALLEY — The 5A No. 6-ranked Valley High Lady Rams softball team picked up its 20th win of the season as coach Adam Hunter’s team celebrated Senior Night in style with a 2-0 win over visiting Horseshoe Bend High School here Thursday evening at the Valley Sportsplex.

Ryan Simpson earned the win in the circle, tossing a complete game no-hitter, striking out 12 HBHS batters in the process.

Lacy Striblin, Mady Brown, Hayley Vickers and Lexus Burrows all tallied one hit each.

Valley (20-8) travels to Dadeville today and Saturday for the Dadeville Lady Tiger Classic.

•Earlier this week, Valley posted a 1-0 win over Marbury as well.

•In other Valley High sports news, the Rams baseball team (12-20) completed its season after dropping a doubleheader to the Central of Phenix City Red Devils.

Valley dropped Game 1 by a 13-4 score and fell in the nightcap contest by an 8-4 score.

In Game 1, Will Henderson led the offense for coach Matt Ward’s team with two hits, Tri Nix and Mitch Myers each had hits and one RBI while Austin Graben and Ryan Meadows both tallied RBIs on sacrifice flies.

•In the 8-4 Game 2, loss, Michael Vo, Nix, Luke Thompson, Graben and Hudson Shumate all had hits.

Vo added two RBI while Nix and Thompson also had one RBI each.

Graben and Shumate each scored one run as well.

•The Troup Tigers baseball team (12-9, 7-5) moved one step closer to securing a GHSA 4A state playoff berth with a big 1-0 win over Fayette Co. Thursday in Fayetteville.

Coach Craig Garner’s team was led by another sterling effort on the mound from sophomore righthander Bo Halcomb in tossing a complete game shutout.

Halcomb scattered seven hits and junior slugger Jonathan Foster smashed his sixth home run of the season, a solo shot in the top of the seventh, to give Troup the 1-0 win.

Don Cleveland headed back to Boston for 118th marathon
Don Cleveland headed back to Boston for 118th marathon

By Scott Sickler

Times-News Sports Editor

WEST POINT — Like approximately 40,000 other runners from the 2013 race, West Point attorney Don Cleveland won’t ever forget the shocking and tragic events at the 117th running of the famed Boston Marathon last April.

An avid runner for many years, Cleveland is headed back to Boston for the third straight year and that’s not an easy accomplishment for anyone, especially the 62-year-old.

He first ran in the marathon back in 2012 after qualifying for the race with a time of 3:50:00 in January of 2011, Cleveland noted.

His qualifying run took place at the Soldier Marathon run in Fort Benning, Ga.

Cleveland also improved his time with a 3:45:00 in 2012 when he again qualified for Boston in November of 2011 for the 117th running of the race last year.

In the tragic events of 2013, Cleveland had finished the race approximately 10 minutes earlier when he heard what he thought then was perhaps a trash dumpster being dropped or heavy construction work on a building.

As it turned out, it was a pair of bombs in two backpacks which killed three spectators along the race near the finish line and injured well over 100 others in a cowardly terrorist attack.

Cleveland, like all others at the event, was deeply moved by the loss of life but is thankful to have earned another trip back to the “city of champions” next Monday in the 118th running of the race as coordinated by the Boston Athletic Club.

Cleveland earned his third trip to the race this year after posting a 3:42:00 time in November 2012, so he’s most definitely proving as he points out “I’m getting older faster than getting slower with my times,” he chuckled.

With times of 3:50:00, 3:45:00 and 3:42:00, Cleveland is proving he’s like a fine French wine — he’s getting faster and better as he ages.

The 118th running of the Boston Marathon will take place Mon., April 21, Patriots Day, also a federal holiday in the Commonwealth state and one other New England state.

Patriots Day in Boston usually means three things: 1) the marathon race; 2) the Red Sox are playing at Fenway Park; and 3) Lexington and Concord are busy with reenactments of the battles of the British for independence in 1776.

At 62, Cleveland will run in the 62-64-year-old division and his number is “20,930” and will be sporting a blue running bib reflecting his spot in the third corral of the third wave with runners from 18,000-26,999.

As part of the third wave of runners, Cleveland will take off at approximately 10:25 a.m. ET with three intervals starting at 10 a.m. every 25 minutes for three sets — 10, 10:25 and around 11 for the last wave of runners.

In addition, race organizers are planning to push the entry field up to nearly 50,000 for Monday’s race, Cleveland noted.

The entry fee to run in the Boston Marathon is $175 for Americans and $225 for international competitors.

•PART II Friday — learn more about Don Cleveland’s journey to Boston in Friday’s sports pages of The Times-News.

Obituaries

Obituaries for Friday, April 18, 2014
Obituaries for Friday, April 18, 2014

MR. BOHANNON

Mr. Charles Lee Bohannon entered into eternal life with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ Thursday, April 17, 2014.

Funeral services will be held Saturday, April 19 at 2 p.m. in the Striffler-Hamby Mortuary Chapel. Pastor Sam Mitchell and the Rev. Chuck Anderson will officiate.

Striffler-Hamby Mortuary, 1010 Mooty Bridge Road, LaGrange is handling arrangements.

MS. DAWSON

LANETT — Funeral arrangements are pending for Ms. Mary Dawson, who died Thursday, April 17, 2014, at EAMC-Lanier Hospital.

Foreman Funeral of Valley is handling arrangements.

MRS. HILL

WADLEY — Mrs. Minnie Lee Hill, 85, of Wadley died Tuesday, April 14, 2014, at Wedowee Hospital in Wedowee.

Funeral services will be held Monday, April 21 at 1 p.m. CDT at Bethlehem Primitive Baptist Church with Elder Thomas Knight officiating. Burial will follow at the church cemetery.

Vines Funeral Home of LaFayette is handling arrangements.

MISS MAYBERRY

VALLEY — Miss Myrtis Clementine Mayberry, 96, of Valley died Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at EAMC-Lanier Nursing Home in Valley.

A graveside service is planned for Monday, April 21 at 2 p.m. CDT at the New Harmony Cemetery, with the Rev. David Bradshaw officiating.

Langley Funeral Home of Camp Hill is handling arrangements.

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