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December 15, 2017
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Seniors serenaded to Christmas tunes
Seniors serenaded to Christmas tunes

CHRISTMAS CHORUS – The West Point Elementary Children’s Chorus sings Christmas songs to attendees at the West Point Active Life Center. (Photos by Steven Thomas)

By STEVEN THOMAS

Managing Editor

WEST POINT — Every year children from West Point Elementary visit the elderly at the West Point Active Life Center, formerly the Senior Center, and put on a Christmas performance and this year was no exception.

On Wednesday, 40 students arrived singing Christmas songs and performing small skits

“They [the seniors] love it,” said Carmen Rogers, activities coordinator at the center. “They look forward to having the kids.”

Seniors were serenaded to tunes like “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Holly Jolly Christmas.”

The chorus is considered one of the big events for the month of December so it’s no surprise that the room was packed.

“For this everyone comes out to see the kids,” Rogers said with a smile.

Also on the schedule for the month are a group of seniors visiting Fantasy of Lights at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Ga., and a grilled cheese fundraiser tomorrow.

“Everyone is welcome [to the grilled cheese fundraiser],” she said. “It doesn’t matter what age, you’re welcome to come and eat grilled cheese with us. We’d be happy to have you.”

The center also has Bingo every Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. EST. and this coming Monday is the Senior Christmas Dinner.

Rogers noted that usually the center has more packed into the month but due to the holidays they keep it a little more open.

Anyone interested in visiting can find the center at 1114 O.G. Skinner Drive in West Point, Ga.

Teen recounts trip to Uganda
Teen recounts trip to Uganda

By WAYNE CLARK

Times-News News Editor

VALLEY — Guest speaker Mary Grace Brown was introduced at a recent meeting of the Valley Lions Club as a young lady who’s mature for her age with a good perspective of what she wants to do with her life.

She gave a good indication of that in her talk about some things she’s already done that few people ever get the chance to do. A 19-year-old student at Southern Union State Community College, Mary Grace has already been on a mission trip to Africa and has competed in the Dr. Pepper Challenge for a chance to win $100,000.

Mary Grace it the daughter of Craig and Beverly Brown of the Sparkling Springs community in the northwest corner of Chambers County. She’s also the niece of Leonard and Debra Riley of Valley.

Her dad is the executive director at Valley Haven School, and Mary Grace’s ambition is to work with special needs children.

She had to overcome numerous obstacles to make the trip to Uganda this past summer. It was a case of something that’s meant to be as a way of working itself out.

“Going to Uganda is something I’ve wanted to do since I was 14 or 15 years old,” she said. “A couple came to our church to talk about the experiences they had there, and it inspired me to want to follow their example.”

At the time, Mary Grace was a freshman at Wadley High School. Sports, cheerleading, club activities and making good grades was the primary focus of her life for the next three years. The idea of going to Africa remained with her, though.

“It was always in the back of my mind,” she said. “I still wanted to go, but I wanted to be able to do it in the summer of 2016, right after I graduated from high school.”

When 2016 rolled around, the opportunity to go on a mission trip became a possibility.

“Through our church, I made a connection with some people in Clay County who were going to Kenya,” she said. “I wanted to go with them, but it didn’t seem right. I had been praying for the opportunity to go to Uganda.”

That trip fell through, but a second opportunity came up and this time is was to Uganda. “The pastor of our church, Jimmy Sprayberry, arranged it,”she said. “That’s where I had wanted to go all along.”

It was a dream come true, but there were some problems connected with it.

“I would have to stay in a room by myself, and there would be no one I knew who was my age who would be on the trip.”

Another obstacle was that she’d have to have some vaccinations before she could go there. The one she’d need to safeguard against yellow fever was in very short supply.

“It was looking like I wouldn’t be able to go,” she said. “I called 12 different places before I found somebody who had it, and it was in Birmingham. For a change, something worked out right, and I wept happy tears.”

When everything was set to go, Mary Grace started to feel unprepared for what she needed to do. “I was feeling unworthy to have this chance,” she said. “I felt unprepared to tell people in a foreign country about Jesus.”

Mary Grace made the trip with Rev. Sprayberry and some deacons from the Grace Fellowship Church. When they arrived in Kampala, a city of close to three million people, they heard lots of loud prayer coming from the many mosques in Uganda’s capital city.

“I was a little afraid but tremendously excited,” Mary Grace said. “I was in the place I had wanted to be. I love children, and I would have the chance to be with a lot of them.”

One of the first tours the group took was to a primary school with lots and lots of children.

“They were so happy to see us,” she said. “We didn’t speak the same language, but they smiled at us and wanted to hug us.”

They distributed bibles at the school.

“You would think they were gold bars the way they reached for them,” Mary Grace said. “The people we saw knew we were making a sacrifice to be there, and they wanted us to know they appreciated it.”

Most people in the capital city get around on bicycles.

“They call them budda buddas, and they are everywhere,” she said. “I prayed for God to work things out and for me to see lots of children. When you pray to God, you’d better expect Him to answer that prayer. I saw lots and lots of kids. All of them want to learn English and to be proficient in it. Those who can speak English are considered very smart. They wanted to thank people back home who made our trip possible.

“Things weren’t going as well as I would have liked,” Mary Grace said. “They need so much, and I felt like I wasn’t doing enough to help them. They day before we left, two girls gave me a bracelet and told me they wanted me to come back. That made me feel so much better.”

On the last day in Uganda, the Wadley group went to a refugee camp.

“There was a large number of people there, and most of them had never seen white people before,” she said. “They were glad to see us. They literally have nothing and are so grateful for you to give them anything. We gave them bibles and talked to them about Jesus,”

They also visited an orphanage and a women’s refugee center.

“It helps them get back on their feet and to be independent,” Mary Grace explained. “The children would tell us, ‘This is not my home. I am just a passerby.’ We ate a type of food they called po-sho and beans. It was okay, but I was so glad to get back home and have some real food for a change.”

“I was grateful to be there but felt like I was giving so little to them when they needed so much,” Mary Grace said. “I can only do what God wants. I felt like He wanted me to love on them, and we did that.”

Though the Uganda experience, Mary Grace acquired a great deal of admiration for what missionaries do. “They make such sacrifices,” she said. “Malaria is very common over there. It’s like getting a cold here. It’s something they have to deal with constantly. I would ask you to join with me in praying for the missionaries and the people there.”

Mary Grace said she’s always remember the sunrises and sunsets in Uganda. “They were so very beautiful,” she said. She also remember a safari they went on. “We saw some really big elephants in the open really bellowing at us as our car went past,” she said. “Life is really different in Uganda. It’s overcrowded in Kampala, and it’s hard to get used to.”

Mary Grace said she’d love to do it again sometime. “I have two friends from Wadley who will be going there this coming summer,” she said. “They are going to be in for an awakening, but I’m sure they will like it.”

The trip to Uganda was a wonderful experience for Mary Grace. “It was definitely the trip of a lifetime for me,” she said. “I am very thankful I had the chance to do it.”

Mary Grace will be transferring from SUSCC to Auburn next fall. Several months back, she entered a contest sponsored by Dr. Pepper where college students could win scholarship money. Four finalists would receive $2,500 each for tuition money, and the chance to compete for $100,000. Thousands of college students enter this contest every year, and the finalists get to complete at the SEC championship game in Atlanta.

Each candidate has to make a video explaining what they want to do with their life. The one made for Mart Grace was shown to the Lions Club members, who all agreed that it was so well done that it had to make a big impact on the judges.

One of Mary Grace’s high school teachers who’s quite skilled in making video presentations helped her with it. The video shows Mary Grace interacting with clients at Valley Haven. Another scene shows her walking near a lake in Wadley and stopping by a log cabin. In a scene the Dr. Pepper people must have really loved, a black lab puppy that was with Mary Grace ran to a large inflated bottle of Dr. Pepper and started licking it.

The video ends with a quote from Mary Grace: “Will you help me change the world?”

“After I’d entered the contest, weeks went by and I heard nothing from them,” Mary Grace said. “I’d all but given up on it till I received a call one day telling me I was one of the four finalists. I was blown away by that.”

Mary Grace didn’t win the grand prize but thoroughly enjoyed the experience. She got to see well-known athletes like Tim Tebow and Jordan Rodgers while there. She also made new friends with her fellow contestants.

She also got some unexpected good news from Dr. Pepper officials.

“I was more than happy to get $2,500,” Mary Grace said. “But they quadrupled it to $10,000. It was amazing.”

Crimestoppers offering reward for information
Crimestoppers offering reward for information

By STEVEN THOMAS

Managing Editor

The Greater Valley Crimestoppers is offering a $500 reward for any information leading to the capture and conviction of a suspect in the recent Givorns robbery.

Lorraine Brown, president of the group, said the board voted to approve the offer, adding that Mike Givorns would be matching that with another $500.

Readers will remember that early on Nov. 21, two suspects drove a 1999 Dodge Ram into the front of the store and stole an ATM machine. The vehicle severely damaged the buildings glass foyer and extensively damaged the structure, as well as several items located around the entrance.

Despite the damage, Givorns opened that day and has remained open.

The Givorns family has been in the grocery business for nearly 50 years, building locations in West Point, Ga., and Valley. The Valley store was built in 1989.

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Point drops close one at Truett-McConnell
Point drops close one at Truett-McConnell

Special to Times-News

CLEVELAND, Ga. — Point University (3-11; 0-7 AAC) suffered its fifth loss of the season by a margin of four or fewer points, dropping a 75-73 Appalachian Athletics Conference men's basketball decision at third-place Truett-McConnell University (10-2; 5-2 AAC), Wednesday, Dec. 6, in TMU’s Bear Cave in Cleveland, Georgia. Point led 12 points in the first half and never trailed by more than seven points in either half.

The Skyhawks have lost their last 10 games and are 1-6 this season in games decided by nine or fewer points and 0-5 in games decided by four or fewer points. Truett-McConnell has won five consecutive games, including its Dec. 2 AAC victory over defending NAIA Division II National Champion Union College (Ky.). After defeating Tennessee Wesleyan, 88-72, Wednesday night, Union (8-5; 5-2 AAC), ranked 14th in the NAIA Division II National Top 25 Coaches’ Poll, and TMU are tied for third place in the AAC standings.

The teams began slowly in the first half and did not score for the first 2:28. After a 6-6 tie at 13:04, Point outscored the Bears, 15-3, and led 21-9 with 9:27 left before intermission. However, TMU countered with 14 consecutive points during the next 4:12 and took a 23-21 advantage. Point took a brief 26-23 lead on a three-pointer by junior forward Hakeem Winters (Cartersville, GA) at the 2:58 mark. TMU gained a 32-28 margin at 1:19, tying its biggest lead of the first half, and Point hit a basket with 42 seconds left to make the halftime margin, 32-30.

Point made just 11 of its 31 field goals attempts (.355) and 3-of-13 three-pointers (.231), while TMU made just 9 of its 31 shot attempts (.290) and 4-of-16 three-pointers (.250). The scoring difference came at the free throw line where TMU made 10 of its 21 attempts, while Point made 5 out of 8. Both teams gathered 26 rebounds and had three steals.

After Point scored the first basket of the second half to tie the game at 32-32, TMU scored six consecutive points and led 38-32 with 18:14 remaining and also 40-34 at 17:22 and 46-40 at 14:50. The Bears peaked with three 7-point leads: 49-42, at 13:10; 51-44, at 12:33; and 57-50 at 9:05.

Point came back to trail by two points three times in a span of four minutes and cut the lead to 67-66 at 3:10, when freshman guard Tyonn Stuckey (Columbia, SC) sank two free throws. A pair of free throws by TMU’s Mario Westbrooks at 1:26 gave the Bears a 69-66 lead, and Winters made one of two free throws at 1:09, and cut TMU’s lead to 69-67. Guard Christian Davis made a basket for TMU with 40 seconds left for a 71-67 lead, and Stuckey made one of two free throws for a 71-68 score. The teams exchanged baskets down the stretch with senior forward David Campbell hitting for TMU with 26 seconds left, and senior forward Chuka Okeke (College Park, GA) connecting for Point with 17 ticks left to make the lead 73-70, and Westbrooks hitting with 10 seconds left followed by a three-pointer by junior guard B.J. Brown (Powder Springs, GA) with five seconds left for a 75-73 score.

TMU’s Eddie Hurst gave Point a chance when he missed two free throws with 3.5 seconds left, but after a timeout to set up its defense, Point’s junior forward Lawrence Castor (Powder Springs, GA) missed a three-pointer from a few feet inside the half-court line as time expired.

Four Skyhawks scored 11 or more points. Stuckey led all scorers in the game with 18 points with one three-pointer and 9-of-11 free throws, and also had four rebounds, four assists and three steals. Junior forward Taboris Griggs (Decatur, GA) added 13 points with 4 three-pointers and five rebounds, and freshman forward Jamvis Ponder (College Park, GA) also scored 13 points with one three-pointer and one steal. Okeke chipped in with 11 points and eight rebounds and blocked one shot. Castor grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds and blocked one shot but scored just two points, and Winters added five points and one three-pointer.

Five TMU players scored between 10 and 14 points, led by Westbrooks and Campbell with 14 points each. Westbrooks also gathered eight rebounds, and Campbell had one three-pointer, four rebounds and three assists. Forward Jacob Booke added 11 points with 3 three-pointers, three rebounds and two steals, and Davis contributed 10 points, 2 three-pointers, five rebounds, two assists and one steal. Reserve guard Filipe Goncalves tallied 10 points and had three rebounds.

The Skyhawks made 23-of-55 field goals (.418) in the game, 10-of-25 three-pointers (.400), including 7-of-12 in the second half (.583), and 17-of-26 free throws (.654), including 12-of-18 (.667) in the second half, and out-rebounded the Bears, 43-39. Point also committed 23 turnovers, 12 in the second half, and stole the ball from TMU four times.

Truett-McConnell made 23-of-57 shots (.404), 8-of-28 three-pointers (.286) and 21-of-38 free throws (.553) and committed 16 turnovers and stole the ball from Point six times.

NEXT GAME: The Skyhawks host ninth-place Milligan College (3-9; 2-4 AAC), Saturday, Dec. 9, at 4 p.m. in West Point Park Gymnasium for its final home game prior to the Christmas holiday.

Point wins sixth consecutive AAC Game, 62-48
Point wins sixth consecutive AAC Game, 62-48

Special to Times-News

CLEVELAND, Ga. — Point University improved its records to 8-3 overall and 6-1 in Appalachian Athletics Conference action and won its sixth consecutive game, all in conference, 62-48, at Truett-McConnell University (2-9; 0-8 AAC), Wednesday, Dec. 6, in TMU’s Bear Cave in Cleveland, Georgia. Point, which is receiving votes for the NAIA Division II National Top 25 Coaches’ poll, led by as many as 24 points in the fourth quarter and survived TMU’s 11-1 run in the final two minutes that trimmed the final winning margin to 14 points. TMU has lost eight consecutive games.

Point, which is receiving votes for the NAIA Division II National Top 25 Coaches’ poll, took over sole possession of second place behind first-place Tennessee Wesleyan University (8-3; 7-1 AAC), which sneaked past Union College (5-6; 3-4 AAC), Wednesday night. In other Wednesday action, number 18-ranked Reinhardt University (8-2; 5-2 AAC) fell into a third-place tie after losing a close 70-68 decision at Bryan College (8-3; 5-2 AAC), the defending AAC Tournament champion.

"I thought our players picked it up in the second half and managed to push through Truett's final run,” commented head coach Tory Wooley (Fifth season). Alley Fegenbush (Locust Grove, GA) played with energy and effort and really helped turn the game around. Her senior leadership has been impressive and her three-point basket in the third quarter was huge."

NEXT GAME: The Skyhawks host eighth-place Milligan College (6-6; 3-4 AAC), Saturday, Dec. 9, at 2 p.m., for its final home game prior to the Christmas holiday.

Troup players make all-region team
Troup players make all-region team

Special to Times-News

For three years, Kayla Lane has been a fixture in the Troup softball lineup, and she is coming off an exceptional junior season.

In helping lead Troup to a third-place finish in Region 5-AAAA and a spot in the state tournament, Lane enjoyed a big year at the plate, while also getting it done defensively from the shortstop position.

For her contributions to the team, Lane was one of five Troup players to earn a spot on the all-region team.

Lane and Maddie Weathers are first-team selections, Abby Taylor and Madison McCartney made the second team, and Skye Loftin is an honorable-mention pick.

Lane enjoyed two successful seasons to begin her high-school career, hitting better than .300 both years, and she was even better this fall.

Lane played in and started every game, and she hit .404 with two home runs, 13 doubles and 22 RBIs.

Lane was at her best during the most important games of the season.

In a region-playoff series against Cartersville, Lane had seven hits, including two home runs, and 13 RBIs.

In the series-clinching victory, Lane had three doubles and five RBIs, and she had a grand slam in the series as well.

Lane has one more season of high-school softball to go, and she has already decided where she wants to play after that.

Lane has announced that she plans on signing a letter of intent to play softball at Young Harris College.

Weathers’ time at Troup is already done, and she enjoyed a phenomenal career and a sensational senior season.

Weathers, a four-year starter at catcher, led the team in batting average (.415), RBIs (27) and hits (39), all while playing arguably the most demanding defensive position on the field.

Taylor also had a big season for Troup, both at the plate, and on the pitcher’s mound.

Taylor hit .386 and drove in 13 runs, and she was Troup’s top pitcher with seven wins.

McCartney hit .365 with 19 RBIs, and she was second on the team with eight doubles.

Loftin hit .325, and she was second on the team with 25 RBIs, and she and Lane tied for the team lead with two home runs.

Obituaries

Obituaries for Thursday, December 14, 2017
Obituaries for Thursday, December 14, 2017

MS. BROOME

CAMP HILL — Ms. Jannie L. Heard Broome, 62, of Camp Hill died Monday, December 11, 2017 at East Alabama Medical Center, Opelika. Funeral services will be held at Mt. Lovely Baptist Church, Camp Hill on Friday, December 15, 2017 at 12 noon p.m. (CST). Interment will be in the church cemetery. The remains will lie in state at the church from 11 a.m. (CST) until the funeral hour. Public viewing will be at Vines Funeral Home, Thursday, December 14, 2017 from noon to 6 p.m. (CST).

Vines Funeral Home, Inc., LaFayette, is handling the arrangements.

MRS. LANEY

OOLTEWAH, Tenn. — Mrs. Beverly Wright Laney, 68, of Ooltewah, Tenn. passed away on Monday, December 11, 2017 at the Erlanger Medical Center in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Funeral services will be held on Thursday, December 14, 2017 at 11 a.m. EST at the Langdale United Methodist Church with interment following in Johnson Memorial Gardens. The family will be receiving friends at the church on Thursday morning from 9 a.m. EST until 11 a.m. EST.

Johnson Brown-Service Funeral Home of Valley is directing.

MR. MILLER

WEST POINT — Mr. Earnest Lee “Bo” Miller, 78, of West Point, Ga. passed away on Sunday, December 10, 2017 at his residence.

Funeral services will be held on Saturday, December 16, 2017 at 2 p.m. (EST) at the Johnson Brown-Service Funeral Home Chapel in Valley. Interment will follow in Oakwood Cemetery in Lanett. The family will receive friends Friday evening from 6 until 9 p.m. (EST) at the Johnson Brown-Service Funeral Home in Valley.

Johnson Brown-Service Funeral Home of Valley directing.

MS. SOWELL

WEST POINT — Services are pending for Ms. Regina Sowell of West Point, Ga., who died at EAMC-Lanier Hospital.

Foreman Funeral Home, Valley, is handling the arrangements

Obituaries for Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Obituaries for Wednesday, December 13, 2017

MS. GRIFFIN

ROANOKE, Ala. — Ms. Regina Lynn Griffin, 52, of Roanoke died Friday, December 8, 2017 at Wellstar West Georgia Medical Center, LaGrange, Ga. Funeral services will be held at Sweet Home Baptist Church, Five Points, on Thursday, December 14, 2017 at 12 noon (CST). Interment will be in the church cemetery. The remains will lie in state at the church from 11 a.m. (CST) until the funeral hour. Public viewing will be at Vines Funeral Home, Wednesday, December 13, 2017 from 12 noon to 7 p.m. (CST).

Vines Funeral Home, Inc., LaFayette, is handling the arrangements.

MRS. LANEY

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Mrs. Beverly Wright Laney, formerly of Valley, passed away in Chattanooga, Tenn. at the Erlanger Hospital on Monday, December 11, 2017.

Johnson Brown-Service Funeral Home of Valley is directing.

MS. MACKEY

CAMP HILL, Ala. — Funeral services are pending for Ms. Henreatta Mackey, 84, of Camp Hill, Ala., who died Saturday, December 9, 2017.

Silmon-Seroyer Funeral Home of LaFayette is handling the arrangements.

MS. PATTEN

ALEXANDER?CITY, Ala. — Funeral services are pending for Ms. Annie L. Patten, 62, of Alexander City, Ala., who died Sunday, December 10, 2017.

Silmon-Seroyer Funeral Home of LaFayette is handling the arrangements.

MISS WILLIAMS

LaGRANGE — Miss Mary Williams, 92, of LaGrange passed away Monday at Wellstar West Georgia Medical Center.

Funeral Services for Miss Mary Williams will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday morning from the sanctuary of First Baptist Church. The family will receive friends at the church Thursday morning from 10 a.m. until the service hour of 11 a.m. A private interment will follow in Shadowlawn Cemetery.

Funeral Services for Miss Mary Williams are by Hunter-Allen-Myhand Funeral Home, LaGrange.

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