Neal Marberry, second from left, and Kim Bonner, third from left, of the East Alabama Water, Sewer and Fire Protection District, were guests of the Kiwanis Club of Valley at Wednesday's noon hour meeting. This is Marberry's 10th year with the East Alabama Fire Department and his third year as chief. Chief Marberry said that he's seen some growth within the department in the 10 years he's been in Valley. A $400,000 grant allowed the department to take on five more full-time firefighters. There are now five full-time people on all shifts, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. In Chief Marberry's first year, 2005, EAFD received a total of 290 calls. For the past two or three years, that's jumped to the 650-call range and this year is on pace for an estimated 775 fire calls. "The demand for service keeps growing," Marberry said. "We're also seeing an increase in the need for EMS service." At left is Jeff Goodwin, program chairman, and at right, Tammy Merritt, club president. (Photo by Wayne Clark)
By WAYNE CLARK
VALLEY — At Wednesday's noon hour meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Valley, East Alabama Fire Department (EAFD) Chief Neal Marberry talked about the growth he's seen with the department in the 10 years he's been with it, the last three as the chief. When he arrived at the department in 2005, EAFD was receiving an average of less than 300 calls per month. That jumped to around 500 calls a month in 2008-2011, 650 a month in 2012-14 and this year is on track to have as many as 775.
"The demand for service keeps growing," he said. "We're also seeing growth with Valley EMS along with Valley EMS. We're also seeing more traffic on the river with people in boats, kayaks and canoes,"
One factor in this growth is a larger service area for East Alabama than it had in 2005. Since then, what once was the Lee-Chambers Water District was reorganized into a Beulah district with the Chambers County service area going over to East Alabama. Because of this, the EAFD needed a second fire station to keep its ISO rating of 4. Acquiring a former farm supply business on Highway 29 south of Valley, refurbishing it as a second station and keeping a truck there enabled this. The second station has everyone in the service area within five miles of a fire station.
EAFD plans to continue both its base station on Fob James Drive in Valley along with the substation on Highway 29 plus one more location. East Alabama recently purchased an eight-acre site near Fairfax Mill. Old timers know it as "the kingdom," or the place where houses for mill officials were built almost 100 years ago.
"We will build a new fire station there," Chief Marberry said. "We will be building it over the next two years and hope to staff it with an engine on a 24/7 basis 365 days a year. We'd like to have a training center with a tower. It would be a place local fire department personnel, paramedics and first responders could be trained together."
As with any fire department, East Alabama has a focus on fire prevention. "It's something you can't quantify," Chief Marberry said.
Something that does point to success with this is an overall reduction in building fires in the larger service area EAFD now has.
Something EAFD does that the firefighters enjoy is going to local elementary schools and talking to kids about fire prevention. "We go to the schools a lot," Chief Marberry said. "We read to the younger children and talk to all of them about fire safety. We like to do this once a month or so and think we have formed a good connection in the community this way. The kids know the firefighters and are glad to see them at their school."
Two things people could do to promote fire safety, said the chief, is to never smoke indoors (Do it outside!" he said) and to be careful around the stove. "Close to half the fires we have in our service area are cooking-related fires," he said. "It's the number one cause of house fires and injuries in our area."
Sometimes these kitchen fires get started when someone gets distracted by a phone call or a neighbor coming for a visit. There have been other instances when someone comes home from work, and then puts something on the stove to cook. They'll then go and lie down to rest for a minute, fall asleep, only to be awakened by a house full of smoke.
Chief Marberry urges people to frequently check their smoke detectors. "We've found smoke alarms in homes that didn't work because of dead batteries," the chief said, adding that an estimated two-thirds of fire deaths in the U.S. take place in homes without a working smoke alarm.
New smoke alarms on the market have lithium-ion batteries, which last up to 10 years.
One thing that sets the EAFD apart from other fire departments is that it has a swift water rescue team. It's one of very few such teams in the east Alabama region. Chief Marberry said that swift water rescues often take place in unforgiving environments. Two dramatic rescues took place in Valley this year, one in Moore's Creek at Johnson's Curve and another one on the river at River View Dam.
"It's not easy being a firefighter, especially in a swift water rescue," Chief Marberry said. "It takes over 100 hours of intensive training to do this. Some of these classes are 16 hours long."
"Hiring firefighters is very competitive," the chief added. "Their skills are in demand. They often go to other departments where they can make more money. Training them is expensive. They are hired and being paid when we send them to school."
By THE TIMES-NEWS
LaFAYETTE — The Chambers County Sheriff’s Office has made arrests in a July vandalism case at a county church.
The Chambers County Sheriff's Office received a report of burglary, criminal mischief and theft of property that occurred at Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church on County Road 176. Individuals had forced entry into the church and caused approximately $25,000 in damage to the interior and the building.
During the following weeks, investigators worked diligently to solve this crime, Sheriff Sid Lockhart said. With help from several anonymous callers, investigators were able to develop several suspects.
Tuesday, investigators arrested Anna Lauderdale, 18, of LaFayette, Hayley Cheyenne Bassett, 18, of Lanett and a 16-year-old juvenile. Each was charged with burglary third degree, criminal mischief first degree and theft of property third degree.
Sheriff Lockhart would like to extend his appreciation to those individuals that provided information in the successful resolution of this case.
Anyone having any information on this or any other case, please call Chambers County Sheriff’s Office at 334-864-4333 or CrimeStoppers at 334-756-8200. Callers to CrimeStoppers can remain anonymous and may qualify for rewards.
By THE TIMES-NEWS
ATLANTA — The July unemployment rate in Troup and Harris counties went up, although Troup reported strong job growth for the month.
According to Georgia Department of Labor reports, Harris County's unemployment rate rose to 5.9 percent in July, up from 5.7 percent in June. Employment in the county dropped by 21, while the county's civilian labor force increased by nine. Unemployment in the county rose from 885 in June to 915 in July.
Troup County actually added 239 jobs during the month of July, but the employment increase was offset by a 523 jump in the county's civilian labor force. That resulted in the county's unemployment rate rising to 6.9 percent from June's 6.2 percent.
Unemployment in the county rose sharply as well, hitting 2,551 compared to 2,267 in June.
Major cities in the region also saw increases in their unemployment rate. Columbus' rate went to 7.9 percent from June's 7.8 percent, and LaGrange saw its rate rise to 8.2 percent from June's 7.0 percent.
Statewide, Georgia’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for July was 6.0 percent, down from 6.1 percent in June. It was 7.2 percent in July 2014.
By Scott Sickler
Times-News Sports Editor
LaGRANGE — After an intrasquad scrimmage and two preseason outings against Spencer and Upson-Lee, it’s now the real deal for coach Tanner Glisson and the Troup Tigers in its season opener Friday against arch rival LaGrange.
The Tigers have worked very hard in fall camp, trying to catch up and get everyone on the same page as Troup made the move to a new offense and added a number of new coaches this summer as well.
For the better part of the last three weeks, Glisson has been looking for continuous improvement and getting the right personnel in the right positions.
And give Glisson and his staff credit, that’s exactly what they’ve done.
Friday will be a big test for Troup as LaGrange looked very sharp in a 45-20 blowout win over a formidable Callaway High team last week.
This is the 28th all-time meeting between the two schools in a rivalry which began in 1968.
Troup has won four of the last five contests but LaGrange still leads the series 19-8.
The Tigers led 36-0 at half last year, the largest halftime margin in the 27-game series.
The only time a region title was in the balance between the two came in 1996 when the Grangers led 31-6 at half and rolled over the Tigers 52-6.
“I’m looking forward to this Friday and I'm sure the kids are excited,” Glisson told The Times-News Wednesday. “It's a big task, their offense hasn't been stopped yet and what they did to Callaway was impressive. I'm not sure that we can play four quarters of good football yet, but hopefully we can play good in spurts and try to stay in the game. I'm sure it will be a great atmosphere and hopefully we can give our folks something to cheer about,” Glisson noted.
•Troup and LaGrange will kickoff Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET at Callaway Stadium.
By David Bell
Times-News Staff Writer
BEULAH — Freshman Lonzie Portis has been chosen by coach Jarrod Wooten to lead the Beulah Bobcats in their season opener on the road against Woodland Friday night. Portis was one of three quarterbacks vying for the starting position this year.
"Even though I haven't seen a lot of separation among our players at the quarterback position, I've decided to go with Lonzie as our starter," said Wooten.
Sophomore Nolan Earle will be the backup for Porter and will likely see some playing time Friday night. Wooten said sophomore Trent Lewis, the team's third quarterback, is on injured reserve this week.
Beulah played two scrimmage games last Friday against Horseshoe Bend and Loachapoka at Bobcat Stadium, losing to the Generals in the first game 14-0 before battling the Indians to a scoreless tie.
Wooten said he was pleased with the way his team got better as the evening progressed, especially on defense.
This week, with the decision to go with Portis as the starter, Wooten hopes to see a solid performance from his offense.
Woodland lost their home opener Friday 21-7 in a non-region game against Cleburne County. The Bobcats' only score came in the first quarter.
Second-year coach Randy Boyd exhibits an old-school approach to the way he runs his Woodland football program, selecting team captains himself rather than allowing players to choose among their peers. Boyd says he learned the technique from former Randolph County head coach Ron Watters, and it has proven to be a successful method of establishing players in leadership positions.
•Kickoff for Friday night's game is 7 p.m. CDT at Woodland High School.
By Scott Sickler
Times-News Sports Editor
While the Alabama and Georgia public schools open Friday in non-region contests, that’s not the case for the two AISA schools in the Springwood Wildcats in 2A and the Chambers Rebels in 1A play.
For Springwood and Chambers, it’s a jump into the fire of reality immediately as the Wildcats and Rebels host crucial region showdowns in Week 1.
In short, if Springwood and Chambers want to earn home state playoff games, wins Friday are very important. Both programs are on the upswing and trying to get back to the glory years in the 1990s and early 2000s.
•Coach Thomas Hill’s Springwood team is looking to even the score against the Lakeside Chiefs Friday after absorbing a beatdown in last year’s opener in Eufaula.
This is one of the biggest games of the season for Springwood, especially with five-time state champion Edgewood looming later in the season. With a win over Lakeside, Springwood will have a great shot at securing a 2A state playoff game in holding the head-to-head tiebreaker matchup. Springwood’s first three games are all region contests.
•The Chambers Rebels are also in the same scenario as Springwood.
Coach Jason Allen’s Rebels need a win over region foe Cornerstone Christian Friday to hold the tiebreaker and gain a huge region win. CA lost last year to CC 33-32 and it cost them a home state playoff game.
CA can make a run in 1A this fall.
FIVE POINTS — Funeral services for Mrs. Marjorie Woodrough Gay, 95, of Five Points will be held Saturday, Aug, 29 at 11 a.m. CDT at Standing Rock Methodist Church. Burial will follow at the adjoining cemetery.
Mrs. Gay passed away Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015, at her residence.
Quattlebaum Funeral Home of Roanoke is in charge of arrangements.
LANETT — Mrs. Mildred L. Walker, 90, of Lanett died Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015, at Golden Living Center in Lanett
Graveside services will be held Thursday, Aug. 27 at 2 p.m. at Resthaven Memorial Gardens with the Rev. Chuck Anderson officiating.
Johnson Brown-Service Funeral Home in Valley is in charge of arrangements.
LaFAYETTE — Mr. Jimmie Fred White, 74, of LaFayette died Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015, at LaFayette Nursing Home in LaFayette.
Graveside services will be held Friday, Aug. 28 at 1 p.m. CDT at Handy Memorial Cemetery in LaFayette with the Rev. Douglas Jones Sr. officiating.
Silmon-Seroyer Funeral Home in LaFayette is in charge of arrangements.
ROCK MILLS, Ala. — Funeral services for Mr. Tommie Ray White, 53, of Rock Mills will be held Friday, Aug. 28 at 4 p.m. CDT at Quattlebaum Funeral Chapel in Roanoke with the Rev. Howard Johnson officiating. Burial will follow at Randolph Memory Gardens.
Mr. White passed away Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015, at the Cancer Treatment Center of America in Newnan, Ga.
Quattlebaum Funeral Home of Roanoke is in charge of arrangements.
No obituaries were reported today.
LANETT — Mr. Marvin Reese, 65, of Lanett died Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015, at EAMC-Lanier Memorial Hospital in Valley.
Memorial services are scheduled Wednesday, Aug. 26 at noon CDT at Friendship Baptist Church #1, LaFayette, with the Rev. Cornelius Reese Jr., pastor, and the Rev. Terry L. Magby eulogist.
Davis Memorial Mortuary of Valley is in charge of arrangements.
LANETT — Mr. Robert Lee “Sonny” Scott, 79, of Lanett died Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015, at his residence.
Funeral services will be held Wednesday, Aug. 26 at 1 p.m. at Goodsell United Methodist Church in Lanett with Dr. Randy Kelley, the Rev. Lawrence Watts, the Rev. Ricky Johnson and Minister Valerie Bailey officiating. Burial will follow at Pinehill Cemetery.
M.W. Lee Mortuary of West Point is in charge of arrangements.