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December 17, 2017
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Heavy fines likely after mill fire
Heavy fines likely after mill fire

KEEPING IT SUPPRESSED – Lt. Chris Taylor and Battalion Chief Jacob Geiger of the East Alabama Fire Department keep a stream of water on a smoldering pile near the site where Wednesday’s fire spread into what was left of Fairfax Mill. They were back at the mill site Thursday afternoon making sure it didn’t flare back up.

By WAYNE CLARK

Times-News News Editor

Historic building torched during what is assumed was a controlled burns

VALLEY — Someone may have to pay a hefty fine for the Wednesday fire that destroyed most of what was left of Fairfax Mill.

According to state law, anyone attempting to do any burning on an industrial site must have a permit in advance from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM).

ADEM representatives have told county officials that was not done and even if it had been the request would likely have been denied due to the windy conditions on Wednesday.

East Alabama Fire Chief Neal Marberry told The Valley Times-News on Thursday that the mill fire started sometime Wednesday after spreading from a debris pile on the south side of the mill site.

“It spread into the building from the pile,” he said.

Most of Fairfax Mill was built in the period between 1913 and 1915 and went into production in July 1916. Within its first few years of operation, the mill gave the surrounding community the nickname “Towel City USA” for the Martex towels that were produced there. It was a profitable textile mill for many years before suffering the same fate as the vast majority of U.S. textile plants in the first decade of the twentieth century.

It shut down in the early 2000s, its production was shifted to nearby WestPoint Stevens plants, but by 2008, all local production was off-shored to cheap labor markets.

Fairfax Mill had been in the process of demolition in recent years. There’s still a lot of rubble on the site, and as the Wednesday incident revealed, a lot of combustible material.

The original mill building had been razed to ground level. Most of what was left were some concrete floors supported by huge wooden pilings. As Wednesday’s fire spread into the mill building. those huge heart pine pilings caught fire. This caused the concrete floor to collapse in sections, causing loud booms that could be heard throughout the Fairfax community.

By early afternoon on Wednesday, the fire was mostly a smoldering event that produced an enormous white cloud of smoke that could be seen from a great distance away. Fanned by the wind, it got hotter as the afternoon ensued and flames could be seen in isolated locations inside the remaining structure.

Chambers County Commissioner and Tony Segrest, general manager of the East Alabama Water, Sewer and Fire Protection Authority, conferred on the matter, and it was decided to send in East Alabama firefighters to keep a growing fire from getting out of control.

There are some legal issues involved in responding to fires located on the mill sites. They are in industrial parks, and it’s up to officials from the county, not the city, in deciding what to do.

With Wood and Segrest in agreement that something needed to be done, East Alabama firefighters responded to the incident. They were in for a long, grueling night.

“It spread quickly on us,” Chief Marberry said. “We made some good progress on it for a time, but then it would pick back up.”

A major factor in this were the sporadic gusts of wind that whipped over the mill site.

At times, the fire was extremely hot with flames leaping a good 15 to 20 feet in the air. The difficult period came from 7 p.m. until around ten o’clock.

“It was a fully involved structure fire with support posts burning away and decks collapsing,” Marberry said. “We kept our guys a safe distance away and kept fighting it.”

Thanks to the hard, determined work of the East Alabama firefighters, the hot fire was reduced to hissing steam.

“It’s going to continue smoldering for some time,” Marberry said. “It will be a slow process, and could go on for a week or so.”

The firefighters have soaked the perimeter of the mill site to keep if from spreading into the nearby neighborhoods.

Commissioner Wood said that someone has some explaining to do as to why this happened. She said that someone should have gotten a burn permit before setting fire to the debris pile.

She added it was her understanding that asbestos had been removed from the building but that other hazardous substances such as lead-based paint more than likely went up in the blaze, potentially endangering the health of people who live nearby.

Rotary Club has a 'Merry' good time
Rotary Club has a 'Merry' good time

By STEVEN THOMAS

Managing Editor

The West Point Rotary Club held its weekly meeting at the Valley Merry Go Round where they received a brief history of the ride and then rode it themselves.

The meeting was held in the heated tent in front of Langdale Mill. After a brief lunch the members listened as club president Debbie Kelley read a few short announcements before announcing the group would be listening to Roger McDonald speak on the history of the Merry Go Round followed by members taking a few turns on the ride itself.

McDonald spoke highly of the Merry Go Round, saying what started out decades ago as a way to promote the different cities in the Greater Valley Area became something that drew everyone together.

After finishing the history lesson, Rotary members headed outside but had to wait a few moments while the current riders, a number of young children, could finish their turn.

The club members were all in high spirits as the ride started up. Some took photos of themselves while others chatted to those around then. All had smiles on their faces.

After a few minutes the ride stopped so photos could be taken.

It was at this time the child inside the riders came out with nearly all waving for the camera and a few made silly poses.

Once that round had ended, this week’s meeting was officially closed.

The Rotary Club will meet at its regular location, the Lanett Hampton Inn, next Thursday at noon.

Jealously may have fuelled Valley man's role in Sept. 19 murder
Jealously may have fuelled Valley man's role in Sept. 19 murder

Special to Times-News

The capital murder case against a man suspected of shooting another man to death as he drove down Highway 280 Sept. 19 has been bound over to a grand jury.

Judge Kim Taylor made the decision to send the case to a grand jury after hearing evidence and testimony in a preliminary hearing Wednesday. Included in what the judge heard was information suggesting that suspected killer Nicholas Seth Harrison of Valley may have still had feelings for a former girlfriend who was in a relationship with the victim Denzel Pope at the time of his death.

Pope, 21, of Sylacauga died after being shot while traveling in a light gold four-door 1993 Acura Legend on Sept. 19. Pope’s vehicle came to a stop on the side of the westbound lanes of Highway 280, just west of Tallapoosa Ford and across from McDaniel Supply and Storage. Members of the victim’s family sat quietly in the courtroom during the hearing, with Pope’s mother holding a framed picture of her son throughout the proceedings.

Alexander City Police Department Det. Drew Machen testified about written statements from witnesses in the case, including one from Pope’s girlfriend and her close friend.

Machen read statement excerpts that claimed Harrison was part of a plot to set Pope up for being unfaithful to his girlfriend. Another woman was then used to send messages to Pope and arrange a meeting. But rather than a woman showing up, witness statements indicate Harrison confronted Pope and chased after him from Walmart where the meeting was held.

Alexander City Police Department Det. Riley Foshee testified about how Harrison was identified as a suspect and his role in the investigation.

A short time after authorities were called to the scene and discovered Pope deceased in his vehicle, a car was stopped for reckless driving by Dadeville Police Department officers, Foshee’s testimony confirmed. The driver of that car was identified as Harrison and bullet holes, a 9 mm handgun and five 9 mm shell casings were found in Harrison’s Ford Fusion, according to testimony from Foshee.

Other facts that came out in court included:

• Foshee testified that he performed a gunshot residue test on the hand of Harrison and it was positive, indicating that hit had been exposed to gunpowder.

• Machen said an autopsy report listed a gunshot to the head as the cause of death and the means of death was listed as homicide.

• Machen testified that no gun or shell casings were found inside Pope’s vehicle.

• The ballistics reports have not been returned from the crime lab, checking to see if the weapon and projectiles match the gun found in Harrison’s vehicle.

• Video from Walmart and from Satterfield machine Shop and Outdoor Living was also gathered and were said to depict the vehicles of the suspect and victim.

• Harrison was represented by Alexander City attorney Tim Davis and Victor Revill. They asked why the women who allegedly helped in the plot had not been charged and if they had been given immunity or offered any type of deal. Machen said to his knowledge, he didn’t know why they hadn’t been charged and had not been given immunity.

The defense raised concerns about not have received any evidence from the state prior to the hearing, despite a court order granting it.

“We don’t think it’s fair to come in and hear evidence that will determine probable cause that we haven’t had the opportunity to examine,” Davis said.

“We don’t think it is constitutionally fair to have Mr. Harrison sitting in jail for how ever long, when the state has not given us any evidence, despite a court order,” Davis said.

Taylor reminded Assistant District Attorney Kevin Hall of the order and said that he had 21 days to produce everything that the state had.

“They can have it in less than 12 hours if they will walk to the other end of the hall when we are done with this hearing,” Hall said.

Taylor also denied a defense motion to drop the charges from capital murder to murder due to the circumstances of the case. Taylor denied that motion.

No additional court hearings were set and it was unclear when the case could be presented to a grand jury.

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LeBron gets triple-double as Cavs beat Lakers
LeBron gets triple-double as Cavs beat Lakers

The Associated Press

CLEVELAND (AP) — Lonzo Ball got an up-close look at the biggest baller of them all.

LeBron James recorded his 59th career triple-double in front of Ball and his brothers, Kevin Love scored 28 points and the Cleveland Cavaliers won for the 16th time in 17 games, 121-112 over the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night.

James finished with 25 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists to move into a tie with Larry Bird for sixth place on the career triple-doubles list. James also put the Lakers away in the final minutes with a dunk and short runner, leading Cleveland to its 10th straight home win.

For Ball, his first on-court encounter with James was eye-opening.

‘Watching him doesn’t do him justice,’ Ball said. ‘He has that size, that speed. I’d say he’s the best player in the world right now.’

James, who has been complimentary of the 20-year-old Ball in the past, met with the Lakers highly touted rookie on the floor following the game. As cameras recorded the moment, James and Ball, whose all-around games and backgrounds are very similar, covered their mouths so the world couldn’t listen in on their conversation.

James said he was humbled to learn the former UCLA star patterned his game after him. James has become a fan of Ball’s game.

‘It’s always team,’ James said when asked what he admires most about Ball. ‘He passes the ball. Pushes the ball up the floor. Someone you want to play with. This is a team game. Everyone gets so caught up in this whole individual thing and it’s, the whole team game gets overlooked, but then, I’m not going to go there.’

Love scored 13 in the third quarter, when the Cavs opened an 11-point lead. Jose Calderon added a season-high 17 points for Cleveland.

Brandon Ingram scored 26 for the Lakers and Ball had 13 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds.

The first game between James and Ball had the buildup of a playoff game as the world’s best player matched up against a budding star.

Ball’s father, LaVar, did not attend the game but his brothers, LiAngelo and LaMelo, sat behind L.A’s bench. LaVar Ball launched his ‘Big Baller Brand’ to promote his three talented sons. James gave the family a lesson in the business of basketball.

Of course, James’ impending free agency has led to speculation he may sign with the Lakers. Because of his connections to Los Angeles (he owns a film production company, and recently bought another home there) and some Twitter posts he’s made about Ball, the Lakers are believed to be a potential landing spot for the three-time NBA champion, who scoffed at the conjecture about his future or his relationship with Ball.

‘I see all the stupid noise that happens,’ he said. ‘You know I can’t buy a home in L.A., I can’t live in L.A. It’s funny noise. But I don’t get involved in it. When I post things I don’t look at comments because I’m so far removed from the white noise and the noise doesn’t matter to me.’

TIP-INS

Lakers: C Brook Lopez shot consecutive air balls from the foul line in the second quarter, drawing a huge cheer from the crowd. ... Rookie G Josh Hart made his first career start in place of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who was scratched for personal reasons. ... Coach Luke Walton has been impressed with how well Ball has adapted to the pros. ‘He plays the hardest position in the NBA,’ Walton said. ‘He’s 20 years old and he’s doing it in a huge market and one of the greatest organizations in sports. He’s handled all that, good press, bad press, people talking about his shot, people talking about this and that. He’s been solid. Teammates love him.’

Cavaliers: F Tristan Thompson was a late scratch after he experienced soreness in his left calf while warming up. Thompson returned on Tuesday and played six minutes in his first game since Nov. 1. ... Coach Tyronn Lue did not have any update on G Isaiah Thomas, nearing a return from a hip injury that has delayed his Cleveland debut. The All-Star recently started taking contact and playing 4-on-4. ... Thomas will have his No. 2 jersey retired by Washington on Feb. 15. ... With his second 3-pointer, J.R. Smith passed Chauncey Billups (1,830) for 11th place on the career list. ... Cleveland made 15 3-pointers and has made at least 10 in a club-record 18 straight games.

BIRD IS THE WORD

James was humbled to move into the same company as Bird.

‘He’s one of the greatest players to ever play the game,’ James said. ‘Kid from French Lick (Indiana). Boston. He just played until he literally couldn’t play the game no more. He gave everything he had. And for young guys that don’t know him, they think of Larry Bird as a jump shooter. But he was so much more than that. He was a passer. He averaged double-digit rebounds. He defended. He took charges. And it’s just straight up complete basketball player and me as a small forward, Scottie (Pippen), Bird, Doc (Julius Erving), George Gervin, the guys I kind of looked up to being a small forward.

‘I’ve always been a fan of Larry Bird and if I’m linked with any of the greats, especially like him, it’s pretty cool.’

Lanett's Pollard to play in Ala.-Miss game
Lanett's Pollard to play in Ala.-Miss game

By WAYNE CLARK

Times-News News Editor

HATTIESBURG, Miss. — Lanett High football star Anquaevious “Long” Pollard is a member of the Alabama All-Star team that will be playing the Mississippi All-Stars at 1 p.m. EST on Saturday, December 16th at M.M. Roberts Stadium. The game will be televised on the Raycom Network and can be seen locally on WTVM, channel 9 in Columbus.

Pollard, who stands 6-7 and weighs a little over 200 pounds, is being recruited by a number of colleges for his football and basketball skills. He was a key member of the 2016 and 2017 basketball teams that won back-to-back 2A titles and this year’s football team that capped off a 15-0 season by winning the state championship game last Friday, 33-15 over Leroy at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa.

Pollard caught a total of 130 passes for 51 TDs in his Lanett High career. This year he had 34 catches for 817 yards and 12 TDs. The biggest catch of his career may have been late in the first quarter of the championship game. With Lanett trailing 15-0 he made a terrific catch near the sideline, using his height to get to the ball over a much shorter defender. It came on a fourth-and-11 play near midfield. The Panthers scored a couple of plays later on a 10-yard run by Terrion “Ty” Story and were back it the game. Sophomore quarterback Kristian “Ken Ken” Story couldn’t have thrown that sideline pass any better than he did.

That drive started a 33-0 run by Lanett to seal the school’s first-ever playoff title on a very memorable snowy day across Alabama. The final score of the game, a 19-yard pass from Story to Pollard, brought his career TD-catch total to 51.

Once he completes his high school football career, Pollard will be back on the basketball court trying to help the Panthers achieve the rare feat of a three-peat. A number of the best players in football are also on Coach Richard Carter’s basketball team.

Coach Carter’s team has been severely undermanned with so many players on the football team. He can’t wait to get Pollard, Dee Dobbs, Trikweze Bridges, Ken Ken Story and Quae Houston back on the hardwood and into the flow of the game.

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 Friday, December 15, 2017
Obituaries for Friday, December 15, 2017

MS. HORN

LAUREL, Miss. — Ms. Jerri Lynn Simpson Horn, formerly of Lanett, passed away unexpectedly at her home in Laurel, Miss. on Wednesday, December 6th at the age of 47.

Lynn will be cremated and her ashes will be interred at Rest Haven Cemetery along side of her parents and brother. Service time is pending at this time.

MRS. SCOTT

LANETT — Mrs. Grace T Scott, 79, of Lanett passed away Thursday, December 14, 2017 at Midtown Medical Center in Columbus Ga.

Arrangements are pending.

For online condolences please visit our website at www.blufftonfuneralservices.com. Services have been entrusted to Bluffton Funeral Services, Lanett, Ala.

MRS. WILBURN

WEST POINT — Mrs. Mary Lou Wilburn of the Drummond community in West Point, Ga. passed away on Wednesday, December 13, 2017 at her residence.

M.W. Lee Mortuary of West Point is handling the arrangements.

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