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May 3, 2016
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Former victim describes horrors of human trafficking
Former victim describes horrors of human trafficking

A large crowd of participants that included law enforcement, human service representatives, medical personnel and clergy attended a special seminar Friday on human trafficking, its impact on people and our community, at Spring Road Christian Church in Lanett. Shown above, Tajuan McCarty, a former victim of human trafficking who later founded an organization that rescues and assists current victims, shared her experience with participants. (Photo by David Bell)


LANETT — A near capacity crowd comprised of law enforcement, human service representatives, medical personnel and clergy attended a special seminar Friday that focused attention on the issue of human trafficking and its impact on people and our community.

The seminar was held at Spring Road Christian Church in Lanett, presented and co-sponsored by the Circle of Care Center for Families through its Renew Hope initiative.

One of the guest speakers was Tajuan McCarty, founder of The WellHouse, a non-profit, faith-based agency dedicated to rescuing women from sexual exploitation and human trafficking. For many years, McCarty was a victim of human trafficking herself, and gave seminar participants a riveting account of her experience.

"I first ran away from home at the age of 12 after being raped by a group of boys," McCarty began. "I encountered my first pimp when I was 15, was arrested for prostitution at age 16 and eventually turned to drugs to help me cope with the horror."

McCarty was a runaway on the streets of Atlanta when she was approached by a man who offered to buy her a hamburger. The man was a human trafficker, and she fell prey to his criminal enterprise.

"I have been sold in every state except Alaska and Hawaii, and was even trafficked in Mexico on several occasions," McCarty recounted. "I have been beaten so many times that portions of my face no longer have feeling, and my throat has been cut with a straight razor."

"Prostitution is never a choice," McCarty added. "Anyone who says they do it by choice is in denial. They are victims of someone else's abuse and greed."

Finally, in 1997, McCarty mustered the courage to escape her captors and seek help. Even though she would later relapse and ultimately spend time in prison, McCarty was successful in earning master's degrees in public health and public administration.

In 2012, a woman in Birmingham anonymously donated a run-down house to McCarty for the establishment of a rescue and recovery shelter for victims of prostitution and sex trafficking. It continues to provide shelter, food, clothing, spiritual guidance, substance abuse treatment and mental health counseling to dozens of women each year.

"The youngest victim I've rescued was a one-year-old infant who was being used for child pornography," stated McCarty. "The oldest victim so far has been 55."

Another speaker at the seminar was Pat McCay, chair of the Huntsville-Madison County Human Trafficking Task Force and past chair of the Madison County Coordinated Community Response Task Force Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.

"Human trafficking is the number two criminal enterprise in the world, second only to drug trafficking," said McCay. "The reason this activity is so prevalent is because it's enormously profitable, grossing $150 billion per year."

The "trafficking triangle" that includes our local region runs from Memphis to Atlanta to Mobile, primarily along the interstate highway system. Victims are sold at truck stops, rest areas and lodging establishments at virtually every exit.

"Runaways, displaced or homeless, physical or sexual abuse victims and latch key kids are most vulnerable to traffickers," said McCay. "These are very nasty and vile people who will stop at nothing to keep their victims enslaved. Some traffickers even resort to branding their 'product' with barcode tattoos or other symbols of ownership."

McCay added that the emergence of social media has given traffickers a new method of recruiting. They first develop friendships with their victims through chat rooms, and that eventually leads to personal encounters.

"Breaking the cycle of this activity is not beyond our ability to resolve," McCay said. "Coordinated efforts like the one we are involved with today can be successful in bringing such atrocities to an end."

Following a break for lunch, seminar participants engaged in round-table discussions about networking to increase awareness and provide a greater level of assistance to potential victims.

Renew Hope is a program dedicated to educating, informing and training community leaders and front line workers in issues related to human trafficking in Chambers County. It has been established under the Circle of Care Center for Families in Valley.

For more information, call 334-768-4091, or go online at www.renewhopeinitiative.com.

Message in Foundry bottle will remain a mystery for the present
Message in Foundry bottle will remain a mystery for the present


WEST POINT — Thanks to Carol Wood's good memory, a time capsule was recovered from the West Point Foundry building Friday morning. It had been hidden away for an unknown number of years in a metal pole on the front side of the building.

Several weeks ago when she read of plans to tear down the building in The Valley Times-News, she remembered being told by her husband, Keith Wood, back in the 1960s of a time capsule having been put in the building.

"It jogged my memory when I read about it in the paper," she told The VT-N on Friday. "I remember Keith telling me about a conversation he'd had with Smith Lanier Sr. Mr. Lanier had told him they'd put a time capsule in that metal pole on the corner."

Carol told Betty Lanier, widow of Smith Lanier II, about it and she in turn passed on word to Point University officials. Plans were then made to take a look inside the pole once it came down.

The pole had stood at the Foundry's front entrance off West Third Avenue and West Ninth Street for many years. Workmen from the W.T. Miller demolition company of Columbus, Ga. brought it down a few days ago and took a look inside the pipe and saw something that might be a time capsule. They passed on word to Point officials, and a ceremony was set for 9 a.m. on Friday to have that capsule exposed to the light of day for the first time since it was placed inside the post many years ago.

Point University President Dean Collins had the honor of removing it. What he and the crowd that had gathered saw was a clearly transparent bottle with a note inside. A cork inside the bottle's neck kept the piece of paper from aging to the point of disintegration.

It resembled a message in a bottle one would toss in the ocean, one big difference being that this written note wasn't allowed to venture at the whim of the sea; it was being kept at one location in the hope someone would find it and read it one day. Keeping the story alive in local oral history could very well make that a reality.

Local historian Joe Thompson carefully placed the bottle in a styrofoam container and took it to Cobb Memorial Archives, where it will be transported to Montgomery for analysis. Preservationists will carefully remove the piece of paper inside the bottle and attempt to read what it says.

"It will be a few days or weeks before we know what it is," Thompson said. "We want experts to look at it first."

A foundry on this site is thought to date to around 1870. A machine shop and blacksmith shop was on the same city block at that time. William Bradley was the overall superintendent and W.H. Stywald the foundry superintendent. Stywald had run a foundry in Richmond, Va., before and during the Civil War.

In the foundry's early years, power was provided from a steam boiler that came from a locomotive. It's possible the boiler may have been one that survived destruction at the hands of Union troops following the April 16, 1865, Battle of West Point.

Later on, a cotton oil mill and an ice plant were added. By 1901, the oil mill was producing an estimated 30 tons of cotton seed oil per day, and the ice plant was making around five tons of ice each day.

The foundry building is coming down to make room for a new, four-story residence hall for Point University. This promises to be an exciting addition to the downtown skyline and should be a landmark feature for years to come.

Some painstaking efforts have been made to preserve as much as can be done with what's coming down and being removed. Point University's Troy Higdon gives the W.T. Miller Company much credit in doing a good job of this. Several pallets of brick have been saved along with some of the green shades that covered the windows, some fire doors and some unusual items such as an old scale, an old pump and a pulley system that's thought to have run an elevator.

Some heart pine beams have been salvaged, but much of the other wood in the building was too far gone to be saved. Most of the green window coverings were not in good condition. They were made of fiberglass and had gotten in bad shape over the years. "It was a feat to save what's been saved," Higdon said.

The 15-foot hollow pole that held a time capsule all these years has been spared, too.

Hike/Bike/Run week arrives in Greater Valley Area
Hike/Bike/Run week arrives in Greater Valley Area


VALLEY — This Saturday, May 7 is Hike/Bike/Run Day at Valley Haven School. It’s an exciting event for the whole family that you won’t want to miss and it is all taking place at Valley Haven.

The May 7 events are scheduled to begin with registration at 7 a.m. EDT. There will be free giant blow-ups and games for children all day. Free food is provided for all participants. The Hike/Bike/Run awards will be given out at 11:30 a.m. EDT.

Come on out this Saturday and help support Valley Haven and have fun. Make plans to be a part of the fun and excitement of Hike/Bike/Run. You can support Valley Haven School through your participation in any of the Hike/Bike/Run events.

There are events for everyone. You can enjoy the day by running the 5K at 8:25 a.m.; walking five miles at 8:30 a.m.; walking one mile and/or walking your dog at 8:30 a.m.; riding your bike 10 or 20 miles at 9 a.m., and also the 10.5K run starts at 9:15 a.m.

This year again there will be a seven-mile Memorial Walk in memory of Jane Carmack. This walk will start at Capital City Bank in West Point at 8 a.m. and end at Valley Haven School.

If you have your pledges and would like to go ahead and register, you can register at the school Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Top Hike/Bike/Run fund raisers will win prizes. Some of the prizes this year are a Kindle Fire, a gift certificate from Bridges Boot Outlet and Western Store; meal certificates, gift certificates and prizes from many local businesses, gift bags, lots of food and restaurant gifts; and many other items for the top fund raisers.

If you need more information, call Valley Haven at 334-756-7801 or 334-756-2868.

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

No. 2 Troup baseball team shocked by Madison Co.
No. 2 Troup baseball team shocked by Madison Co.

By Scott Sickler


LaGRANGE — A memorable season for the No. 2-ranked Troup Tigers baseball team (21-7, GHSA 4A-Region 5 champions) came to a stunning end here Friday in the first-round of the GHSA 4A state playoffs at Tiger Field.

Coach Craig Garner’s Tigers, the No. 1 seed from Region 5, were upset by the No. 4-seeded Madison Co. Red Raiders from Region 8, by scores of 6-3 and 3-1 thus ending the Tigers season.

It was a shocking day all around as Troup only allowed three Madison Co. three hits in a 6-3 Game 1 loss but defensive and mental errors, a lack of moving runners along and not enough patience at the plate all hurt Troup in the first game loss.

Troup outhit Madison Co. 9-3 in the first game but left nine men on base in the process and in playoff baseball, you just can’t strand men on base.

Troup led in both games 1-0 only to see Madison Co. rally in both contests with a combination of timely hitting, along with a number of uncharacteristic miscues by Troup, it all spelled doom for the Tigers.

Madison Co. tallied all of the runs they’d need in Game 1 with four markers in the third while Troup added one run in the second and two more in the fourth but couldn’t rally in the 6-3 first game loss.

Troup once again jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the must win Game 2 contest only to see Madison Co. use a tape measure, three-run homer in the third inning for a 3-1 lead that stood the rest of the game.

The Tigers were only able to earn two hits in Game 2 while Madison Co. had six.

Despite the loss, Troup won its first region championship in 21 years but loses an outstanding 10-member senior class and will be young but talented next spring.

The Troup senior class leaves the school as one of the best in the Tigers 61-history.

The 10-member class went 82-38 overall, 43-15 in region play and 10-7 in the state playoffs.

Since 2006, Troup went 35-23 (plus-12) in the state playoffs, by far the best playoff record among the three schools in Troup Co.

Troup's 61-year baseball record is 814-511 overall, a plus-303, one of the best marks in all of GHSA baseball.

'Fab Four' leads Troup in its quest for 4A baseball title
'Fab Four' leads Troup in its quest for 4A baseball title

By Scott Sickler

Times-News Sports Editor

LaGRANGE — A standout group of four players, including a trio of seniors and one super sophomore, lead the No. 2-ranked Troup Tigers baseball team (21-5, 14-1) into today’s first-round of the GHSA 4A state playoffs against the visiting Madison Co. Red Raiders.

Senior centerfielder Miles Cameron, senior right-handed pitcher and second baseman Winston Turner and senior righthander and rightfielder Bo Halcomb have all enjoyed sensational final seasons and careers for the Tigers but have some unfinished business left as well.

With Cameron, Turner and Halcomb and add in sophomore sensation in shortstop Ryan Bliss, you’ve got the ‘Fab Four’ of GHSA baseball.

All four players are among the elite in GHSA baseball, one of the nation’s best states for producing professional baseball talent.

The unfinished business is winning the school's first-ever baseball state championship. You can bet that's the only goal left for a super-talented Troup team, one of the best in school history.

The 'Fab Four' have been exactly that and then some.

Turner has 108 career hits, 70 RBI, averages of .319, .366 and .471 clips his last three years at the plate, scored 84 runs, 34 stolen bases and belted six home runs.

In addition, Turner — along with Halcomb — have combined to give coach Craig Garner perhaps the best 1-2 combination on the mound in the GHSA.

Turner has a career mark of 21-9 on the mound with 146 strikeouts, a senior season ERA of just 1.68 and a WHIP of 1.08.

Halcomb’s numbers are outstanding as well.

Halcomb has banged out 117 career hits, 54 RBI, averages of .321, .387 and .488 the last three seasons, scored 80 runs, 52 stolen bases and three homers.

On the mound, Halcomb has been a stopper as well with outstanding numbers.

He has a career record of 17-3, 103 strikeouts, ERAs for the last three years of 2.291, 0.936, and 0.438 and a 0.844 WHIP.

Cameron has really come into his own the last two seasons for the Tigers as well.

He’s banged out 96 hits, including 71 the last two years, 68 RBI, averages of .379 and .438 his junior and senior campaigns, scored 77 runs, 41 stolen bases and cranked out eight roundtrippers, including a team-high six bombs this spring.

Bliss has been a member of the team for just two years but he’s been as productive as anyone in the state both defensively, where’s he’s been on absolute lockdown at shortstop but also offensively as well.

As a freshman in 2015, Bliss hit at a .337 clip with 29 hits, 14 RBI, scored 25 runs and had 17 stolen bases.

His sophomore season, he’s been on fire this spring.

Bliss has tallied 29 hits, belted three home runs, 23 RBI, scored 35 runs, 17 stolen bases and hitting at a .392 clip.

Troup Baseball Notebook —

•Troup is 814-509 in 61 years of baseball, including 284-163 (plus-121) in the 15-year tenure of coach Garner. Garner has led Troup to the state playoffs in 13 of his 15 seasons. Garner is 39-27 in the state playoffs. Troup is a plus-126 in run differential in 2016 (210-84) and a plus-103 in region play (145-42). The Tigers are on a nine-game winning streak, the third longest in 4A play. St. Pius leads with a 12-game streak, Thomas Co. Central with 10, Troup 9 while Buford and Heritage are tied with 8-game streaks. Troup’s 7.6 rating of schedule difficulty was the third highest in 4A baseball next to Carrollton’s 8.2 rating and Upson-Lee at 7.9. Garner is 14-11 all-time vs. rival LaGrange and 10-9 vs. LaGrange HOF coach Donnie Branch, who retired following the 2012 season. Troup’s senior class is 82-36 overall, 43-15 in region play and 10-5 in the state playoffs. The Troup seniors are 4-2 vs. LaGrange. MaxPreps lists Troup as its No. 3 team in its playoff predictions model. Buford is No. 1, Locust Grove No. 2 and Troup No. 3. Since 2006, Troup is 35-21 (plus-14) in the state playoffs compared to LaGrange 15-15 (even) and Callaway 22-25 (minus-3). If Troup advances past Madison Co., they’ll host the winner of the Cairo-Eastside series next week.

Springwood ousted by Northside Methodist in semifinals
Springwood ousted by Northside Methodist in semifinals

By Scott Sickler

Times-News Sports Editor

DOTHAN, Ala. — A terrific season unfortunately came to an end here Wednesday evening as coach Jason Walls’ Springwood Wildcats baseball team (12-17) dropped a doubleheader to the host Northside Methodist Knights (30-11) by scores of 5-4 and 11-0 in AISA 2A semifinal play.

It was an outstanding year for the Wildcat baseball program and Walls, the first-year coach and former standout pitcher at Springwood, Troy University and the San Fransisco Giants organization.

Over the course of the last two seasons, Springwood has posted a 34-24 overall record (22-7 in 2015 and 12-17 this spring.)

Led by the return of a number of talented players, Springwood should field an outstanding team next spring.


Obituaries for Monday, May 2, 2016
Obituaries for Monday, May 2, 2016


WEST POINT — The Rev. Jim O. Avery of West Point died Sunday, May 1, 2016, at Golden Living Center in Thomaston, Ga.

Funeral services and survivors to be announced by Davis Memorial Mortuary of Valley.


WEST POINT — Mrs. Kathleen Harmon of West Point passed away at her home Thursday, April 28, 2016.

The family will plan a celebration of life service for Mrs. Harmon at at later date.

Higgins LaGrange Chapel is in charge of arrangements.


WADLEY, Ala. — Ms. Jessie Lee Kelley, 73, of Wadley passed away Wednesday, April 27, 2016, at her residence.

Funeral services will be held Tuesday, May 3 at 1 p.m. CDT at Greater Pine Hill Baptist Church in LaFayette with the Rev. Rodney Thomas, pastor, officiating and the Rev. Calvin Trammell, eulogist. Burial will follow at Mt. Olive United Methodist Church Cemetery in Wadley.

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


LaGRANGE, Ga. — Mr. James C. Mackey Sr., 79, of LaGrange passed away Saturday, April 30, 2016, at his residence.

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


OPELIKA, Ala. — Mr. William Arthur Norred, 82, of Opelika died Saturday, April 30, 2016.

Funeral services will be held Wednesday, May 4 at 11 a.m. EDT at Johnson Brown-Service Funeral Home Chapel in Valley with the Rev. Jeff Redmond officiating. Burial will follow at Garden Hill Cemetery in Opelika.

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


VALLEY — Mr. Jerrall Ray Skinner, 69, of Valley passed away Saturday, April 30, 2016, at his residence.

Memorial services will be held at Johnson Brown-Service Funeral Home Chapel in Valley Tuesday, May 3 at 4 p.m. with the Rev. Bernie Deffinger officiating.

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


LANETT — Mrs. Mozell A. Turner, 85, of Lanett passed away Monday, May 2, 2016, at her residence.

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


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