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August 21, 2017
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Solar panels proliferating at LaFayette solar farm site
Solar panels proliferating at LaFayette solar farm site

A whole lot of panels are in place at the Origis Energy solar farm on the southeast side of LaFayette, but there’s a lot more of them to go up before the 72-megawatt facility goes on line. The initial plan called for a start-up date by the fourth quarter of 2018. As an incentive to locate in Chambers County, the south Florida-based company received a ten-year abatement on ad valorem and on sales and use taxes. Under state law, there is no abatement for school taxes. Local public schools will benefit from this. Those revenues will start coming in once the plant goes on line. For now, it’s most impressive watching it come together on a large tract of land right in the middle of the county. (Photo by Wayne Clark)

Valley's proposed budget includes raise, equipment purchases
Valley's proposed budget includes raise, equipment purchases

By WAYNE CLARK

VALLEY — Approximately 100 City of Valley employees may be getting a raise with the start of a new year on Jan. 1.

On Thursday evening, council members met in a work session with Mayor Leonard Riley to discuss a budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year. It could change before it’s formally approved in late September or in October, but for now the preliminary budget includes as across-the-board two-percent pay raise for 72 full-time and 28 part-time employees.

There are also some minor changes with health insurance. The city has a goal of paying 95 percent of the costs for individual plans and 70 percent for family plans. It’s slightly above that now but is getting closer. Employees will be paying more in the coming year for either individual or family plans. It’s not yet known how much but it could range from a little more than $15 a month in some cases to a little over $50 a year in some cases.

“We don’t yet know what the increases will be,” said Mayor Riley. “We are only talking about a few dollars a month.”

Department heads went over their wish lists for the new year. Some of this will be coming, and some of it won’t. Among the requests Mayor Riley appeared to favor were new patrol cars, radios and video systems for Valley Police Department, a new ambulance for Valley EMS, two pickup trucks and a new zero turn mower for

the Public Works Department, $83,000 in new fitness equipment for the expanded fitness room at Valley Community Center, some resurfacing for the tennis courts off Sportsplex Drive and a new roof for the Shawmut Kindergarten building.

An estimated $1.4 million will be in the budget to cover the second year of a two-year project to expand the Community Center for a new senior center and larger fitness room. That figure could be affected by some carryover from the current year.

Overall, it looks like the city may be spending around $165,000 on new equipment for the various departments and close to $225,000 on new vehicles.

The city won’t be doing as much road paving this year as first thought. Some of this is due to waiting on projects that are being done by East Alabama Water, Sewer and Fire Protection District on River Road and California Road. East Alabama will be building a new fire station on the village green in Fairfax, not far from the mill site.

Mayor Riley said the new fire station could have the positive effect of the city having a better ISO rating, meaning lower fire insurance premiums for city residents.

The mayor said the city needed to keep a close watch on the rising cost of retirements. At present, the city has 24 people drawing retirement benefits.

Riley said that burning had just about been completed on one of the parcels in the industrial park. He said that there wouldn’t be any burning during football season, which could make things unpleasant at nearby Ram Stadium.

The mayor said there’s a possibility the Chattahoochee Fuller Center Project (CFCP) could be doing some home building in the city before the year is out. He said the city could have a bulldozer on the site helping with some land clearing should this take place.

Valley Parks and Recreation Director Laurie Blount was on the end of some good natured teasing on the part of fellow department heads on having an ambitious wish list. She countered by saying that everything she was asking for was for the benefit of city residents, especially youngsters.

These items included a new PA system for the Sportsplex, new goals for the Community Center gym (the original ones are still in place and are not in good shape), improved WiFi capabilities and a new camera system for the Community Center.

Better WiFi might require the installation of a new cable from Sportsplex Drive. Blount said the images from current video equipment are small and grainy. It’s near impossible to make out who’s who in situations should a fight break out.

Blount said there’s also a need for new playground equipment at city park. She said it would also be nice to have a new splash pad just outside the indoor pool at the Community Center. She said this would serve to boost participation.

Troup BOE delays vote on new athletic facilities
Troup BOE delays vote on new athletic facilities

By DAVID BELL

LaGRANGE — After more than an hour of discussion Thursday evening, the Troup County Board of Education voted 4-3 to postpone a vote on the approval of new athletic facilities for LaGrange and Troup high schools until its October caucus meeting. While none of those favoring the delay opposed the overall construction, they did express concerns about certain design aspects and cost overruns.

When the projects were first proposed two years ago, the estimated costs were approximately $9 million each, which included new gymnasiums, classrooms, multipurpose areas and indoor practice fields. However, based on current projections, those costs have escalated to more than $12 million each.

“We’re getting ready to build a whole new elementary school for $16 million, and though I don’t deny the need for these athletic facilities, I think we should take a closer look at what these schools want as opposed to what we can actually afford,” said board member Cathy Hunt.

Fellow board members Kirk Hancock and Brandon Brooks shared Hunt’s concerns and questioned the necessity of indoor practice fields.

“No other school in our region has an indoor practice area,” said Hancock. “Callaway High already has one, and if we include them as part of the construction for LaGrange and Troup, that will give us three. I love football as much as anyone else, but I think we need to be as frugal as possible with our E-SPLOST funds to get the best value on all our investments.”

Board chairman Ted Alford reminded his colleagues that the two projects have been in discussion for more than two years, with design input from several committees made up of business leaders, elected officials, retired educators and private citizens.

“We have presented these proposals before the general public and asked them to continue the local option sales tax that will provide funds for their construction,” said Alford. “We have an obligation to those supporters to follow through on what we said we would do.”

John Radcliffe, Assistant superintendent of transportation and facilities, said design plans for both facilities have been significantly scaled down from their original proposals, and efforts would continue to reduce the overall estimated costs wherever possible.

“I’d just like to remind the board that we were able to construct the last two elementary schools — Ethel Kight and Franklin Forest — under budget. We’ll make every attempt to continue that trend with these projects,” Radcliffe added.

The school board was much less conflicted when it came to approving site work for the new elementary school to replace Whitesville Road. The panel gave its unanimous consent to accept a guaranteed maximum price package of $2.6 million from Carroll Daniel Construction Company that includes preparation for roadways, foundation work, electrical, water and sewer, and site improvements for the new school, which will be built along Davis Road on property formerly occupied by a Kleentex floor mat manufacturing plant.

Currently referred to simply as School “A,” the new campus is expected to be completed and ready for classes by August of 2018.

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Crowe-led Troup holds off Hardaway 31-28
Crowe-led Troup holds off Hardaway 31-28

By Times-News Sports Staff

LaGRANGE, Ga. — The Troup High Tigers came from behind three times to record a season-opening 31-28 win over the visiting Hardaway Hawks Thursday night at Callaway Stadium.

Both teams scored in every quarter, but it was a first quarter field goal that provided the margin of victory for Troup.

Both teams were able to move the ball consistently. Hardaway had the better ground attack with 230 rushing yards while Troup amassed 355 yards through the air and added 58 on the ground for a total offense of 413 yards.

It was a game without a single turnover but a pile of penalties on both sides of the ball.

Hardaway had three fumbles and didn’t lose any of them, while Troup had just one fumble and none lost.

The back-and-forth game came down to a crucial series of downs in the fourth quarter where a penalty against Hardaway proved fatal for the Hawks.

There was plenty of drama before the fourth quarter, however.

The first quarter didn’t look good at all for Troup. Hardaway took the opening kickoff and drove 70 yards in eight plays to take an early lead.

All but seven of the yards in the drive came on the ground, and Hardaway had to convert just one third down play. Ja’Ron Early did the scoring honors from 11 yards out, Freddie Zamudio kicked the point-after and with 9:12 left in the first quarter Troup trailed 7-0.

The Tigers took a touchback on the ensuing kickoff and immediately went to the air. Quarterback Montez Crowe hit for 18 and 17 yard completions to reach midfield, but the Tigers wound up surrendering the ball on downs at the Hardaway 27.

The Tiger defense stiffened on Hardaway’s second possession and forced a three-and-out punt from the Hawks’ 25-yard line. A short kick gave Troup good field position at its own 46. Once again the Tiger offense sputtered and punted after three plays to the Hardaway end zone.

The Hawks, stymied by two penalties, had another three-and-out and punted to their own 44-yard line.

Troup picked up one first down before settling for a 30-yard field goal by Carson Wreyford on the last play of the first quarter, cutting Hardaway’s lead to 7-3.

After a touchback on the kickoff and a three-and-out punt by Hardaway, Troup had the ball at the Hardaway 43-yard line. It took the Tigers seven plays in a drive that was hit by two penalties and a fumble to score. Crowe accounted for most of the yardage in the drive with a 27-yard completion to Mark Anthony Dixon and Tyree Carlisle got the score on a one-yard run. Wreyford’s PAT kick gave Troup its first lead at 10-7 with 7:36 left in the half.

Hardaway answered with a 12-play, 90-yard drive culminated by a 19-yard TD run by Ja’Ron Early. Zamudio tacked on the point-after kick for a 14-10 Hardaway lead with 3:24 left in the half.

The lead would last for just a couple of minutes. Troup came roaring back on Crowe’s arm as he fired completions of 13, 20, 4 and 36 yards to put Troup back in the lead. The score came on a 36-yard completion to Kobe Hudson. Wreyford kicked the point after to leave the score at 17-14 with 1:23 left in the half.

That wound up the first half scoring, and Troup got the opening kickoff of the second half. The Tigers put together a 10-play, 82-yard drive to score. Troup ran the ball consistently on the drive after netting just 18 yards on 8 carries in the first half. Carlisle had a 27-yard gainer and an 11-yard scamper on the drive, and Crowe completed four passes, the last one good for six yards and a TD to Kobe Hudson. Wreyford’s PAT kick gave Troup a 24-14 lead with 8:01 left in the third quarter.

Hardaway answered with a 10-play, 75 yard drive. The Hawks had 54 yards through the air on the drive and the score came on an 11-yard pass from quarterback Dominique Ford to Early. Zamudio’s kick cut the Troup lead to 24-21 with 3:32 left in the third quarter.

Troup managed one first down before punting on its next possession, and a booming 54-yard Wreyford punt pinned the Hawks deep in their own territory at the 17.

Hardaway recaptured the lead with a 13-play, 83-yard drive that was kept alive on a fourth-and-three play at the Troup 36 when running back Marco Lee, who had 150 yards on the night, wedged the ball forward with about two inches to spare for the first down.

Three plays later, Ford hit Jakhari Thomas for a 16-yard TD pass, Zamudio tacked on the PAT and for the third time in the game, Troup was behind, this time 28-24 with 7:33 left in the game.

If anything, the Tigers scored too quickly to retake the lead. It took less than a minute for the Tigers to move from their own 20 to the Hardaway end zone. Crowe hit Hudson for 25 yards, Dixon for 38 yards and Jamari Thrash for 17 and the score with 6:37 left in the game. Wreyford’s PAT kick gave Troup a 31-28 lead.

Troup forced a Hardaway punt on the next possession, after the Hawks had moved from their own 20 to a completion in Troup territory that was wiped out by an ineligible receiver downfield penalty. On the next play, Ford was sacked for an eight-yard loss by Mwikuta King and Hardaway had to punt with 2:37 left in the game. Troup managed a couple of first downs to run out the clock and preserve the victory. The last first down came on a pass interference call against Hardaway on a fourth-down pass by Crowe with seconds left.

Troup is 1-0 on the season and will travel to Columbus Saturday morning of next week to play Kendrick in an 11 a.m. game.

Valley Rams intrasquad game set for Friday at 4 ET
Valley Rams intrasquad game set for Friday at 4 ET

By Scott Sickler

Times-News Sports Editor

VALLEY — The Valley High Rams will hold an instrasquad scrimmage game Friday at 4 p.m. ET at the practice field, first-year Valley coach Buster Daniel told The Times-News Wednesday.

It will be the Rams final warm up before next week’s season-opener with arch rival Lanett at Rams Stadium.

Lanett is ranked No. 3 in the ASWA preseason 2A poll and is coming off an outstanding 11-3 state semifinal season.

Like all local teams, Valley has been busy in fall camp and getting ready for the season.

Lanett soundly defeated Valley last year at Morgan-Washburn Stadium in a decisive 26-0 contest. It marked the first time the 2A Panthers had defeated the 5A Rams since a 24-21 win in 2007.

In 2007, Ronnie Sikes’ Lanett region champion squad was one of the best in school history, going 12-1 but fell to eventual state champion Leroy 18-12 in overtime in the quarterfinals.

In 2008 under Rog McDonald, Valley ended Lanett’s 17-game home field win streak with a 35-12 win over Lanett. The Rams were also region champions and made the second-round of the state playoffs.

The Valley-Lanett game will kickoff at 8 p.m. ET Aug. 25.

Four local football teams ranked in Top-10
Four local football teams ranked in Top-10

By Scott Sickler

Times-News Sports Editor

The 2017 high school football season opens tonight when the Troup Tigers host the Hardaway Hawks at 7 p.m. at Callaway Stadium in LaGrange.

Troup along with Lanett, LaFayette and Chambers, are all ranked in the Top-10 as we open the season.

Coach Tanner Glisson’s Tigers are coming off an 8-3 and state playoff season and once again have high expectations for state honors this fall.

Troup is ranked No. 8 in the recruitgeorgia.com poll.

In addition, a pair of powerhouse and region rivals dominate the poll.

Back-to-back defending 4A state champion Cartersville opens at No. 1 and three-time state champion Sandy Creek is No. 7.

•Other local teams in the Alabama Sportswriters’ Association (ASWA) poll include Lanett at No. 3 in 2A, LaFayette, the defending 2A-Region 5 champions at No. 7 and the Chambers Rebels No. 7 in the AISA poll.

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