Year in Review: Looking back on the first half of 2017, Part 2

Published 9:42 am Monday, January 1, 2018

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second in a two-part series looking back at the year 2017 in the Greater Valley Area.

July 5

St. Jude Miracle Walk nets $1,681 for children hospital

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A St. Jude Miracle Walk to Fight Childhood Cancer was held on the Drew Ball Field in Lanett’s West Shawmut community on June 10. Four participants raised a total of $1,681.

Coordinator Ms. Essie Mae Harris has organized these fundraising events for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital since 1979. “We want to thank everyone for their donations,” Ms. Harris said. “Each and every contribution helps St. Jude in its continuing mission of finding cures and saving the lives of children who are battling cancer and other deadly childhood diseases. Thank you so much for your support.”

July 19

Mill demolition uncovers 150-year-old water turbine

A story that’s been handed down from generation to generation in the River View community is that the original water wheel that powered Riverdale Mill when it first went into production in 1866 was still under the mill building. That’s been proven true.

The old mill is being taken down by the Henry Hudson Company. The salvage value of its heart pine timber and antique brick cover the cost of doing this. Sadly, the sight of historic mills coming down is a very common sight these days not just in the local area but throughout the Deep South where the textile industry once thrived.

July 28

EAMC-Lanier detox unit offers lifeline to addicts

Headquartered in Anniston, The Journey Detox & Recovery LLC offers 24-hour-a-day consultation. It can be reached at 800-583-2197. Each of its five units is an inpatient medication detoxification and recovery facility where all phases of recovery are managed. Ward is the CEO and Kathy Evans the chief financial officer (CFO).

“The desire for long-term sobriety is a goal which is achieved one day at a time,” Lamar Ward said. “The disease of addiction is a chronic, progressive and fatal disease of the mind, body and human spirit. Addiction will not only destroy the addict or alcoholic. It will also cause them to destroy all the things and people in their lives. With the right treatment and education about the disease of addiction, recovery is possible.”

Aug. 8

Times-News sold to Boone Newspapers

The Valley Times-News reached an agreement in principle for sale of operating assets and real estate of The Valley Times-News by Valley Newspapers Inc. and its owner, Nell Walls.

The transaction’s legal paper work was completed and signed in September and the transaction closed Oct. 1.

The buyer is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Boone Newspapers Inc. (BNI) of Tuscaloosa, Ala. BNI manages newspapers in similar sized communities in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee, Texas, Michigan, Mississippi, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia.

“We are honored to succeed Nell Walls, appreciate the strong foundations she and her late husband Tom Walls put down for these newspapers,” Boone said. “My family and I will see that our obligations are fulfilled to these communities and the Walls family.”

Aug. 22

Solar eclipse finally seen after 47 years of waiting

Aug. 21, 2017, was a date VT-N News Editor Wayne Clark had looked forward to for a long time. Forty seven years to be exact.

A total eclipse of the sun is a rare event and can occur only due to some unusual circumstances. The moon is much, much smaller than the sun but because of its closeness to Earth, around 225,000 miles, it looks to be 400 times larger than the sun. Coincidentally, the sun is actually around 400 times larger than the moon.

In the path of totality during an eclipse, the moon blocks out all sunlight except that from the corona.

Aug. 31

Raisin Bran box features 102-year-old Bill Addison

If you asked former Valley resident Bill Addison his secret for longevity, he will probably tell you it has something to do with his choice of breakfast food. For more than 40 years, Addison has enjoyed a bowl of Kellogg’s Raisin Bran every morning, and recently celebrated his 102nd birthday. But he didn’t expect a surprise gift commemorating his loyalty.

First of all, Addison was honored by the LaGrange American Legion Post for being the oldest living World War II veteran in Troup County. He served his entire Air Force career in the pharmacy at Gunter Field in Montgomery.

Addison also received a new box of Raisin Bran from the Kellogg Company in Battle Creek, Mich. However, it wasn’t the typical box found on the shelves of grocery stores. This one had his picture on it along with a special message that read, “102 never looked so good. You’re our ray of sunshine, Bill! Thank you for being a fan for 40 years.”

Sept. 7

Going solar in LaFayette

LaFayette is home to the largest solar panel farm in the state of Alabama. It’s been a massive undertaking.

There are a total of 338,662 solar panels in the plant. They should be good for 20-25 years of usage before they need to be replaced.

Project Engineer Luigi Soper said the LaFayette plant will have a significant impact on Alabama’s solar energy production. “Prior to this project, Alabama was near or at the bottom of solar energy production,” he says. “This will move the state up to No. 42. The U.S. is moving more toward solar energy. There’s lots of construction going on all over the country right now.”

Sept. 29

The Fate of Langdale Mill

Thursday, Sept. 28. at city hall, a closing took place on the sale of Langdale Mill to the Henry Hudson Company.

“The money’s in the bank,” Valley Mayor Leonard Riley told The Valley Times-News.

The sale price was $324,500. A total of $200 in legal costs was subtracted from that.

The Henry Hudson Company is tearing down the building and selling it for scrap. They have been doing that at the Riverdale Mill site. The contents of old mill buildings have considerable resale value, particularly the 19th century longleaf pine beams.

Oct. 23

One dead, several hurt in Lanett nightclub shooting

One person was killed and several others injured in a weekend shootout at a local nightclub.

The incident occurred at Club Addiction on 19th Street in Lanett when shots were fired both inside and outside the club.

Oct. 30

Lanett routs LaFayette 42-16 for region title

It was sweet for the No. 2-ranked Lanett Panthers (10-0, 7-0) as coach Clifford Story’s team tallied 28 second half points to turn a 16-14 deficit into a 42-16 rout of rival and No. 3-ranked LaFayette (7-2, 6-1) at Morgan-Washburn Stadium and claim the AHSAA 2A-Region 5 championship.

While the Panthers offense has a myriad of talented athletes and gets and has earned most of the press, it’s Lanett’s team defense which set this team apart from as one of the school’s best in the last two decades.

Oct. 31

Man arrested for armed robbery

A LaGrange man was arrested after leading police officers on a short vehicle pursuit and attempting to rob a store on Sunday morning, according to a LaGrange Police Department news release. Ean Sparks, 28, was arrested after allegedly attempting to rob the Dollar General on Colquitt Street.

Sparks was charged with armed robbery, two counts of aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during commission of a crime, kidnapping and multiple traffic violations.

Nov. 8

Tramell ekes out close win in WP mayor race

For the second time in four years, West Point had a razor-thin outcome in a mayor’s race, and both times challenger Deedee Williams came up short by a handful of votes.

In 2013, Williams was some 26 votes short in a race against incumbent mayor Drew Ferguson. This time she was just 25 votes shy in a race versus Mayor Pro Tem Steve Tramell.

Nov. 13

Search continues in Troup County for missing woman

A missing 75-year-old Troup County woman, went missing in early November.

Sgt. Stewart Smith with the Troup County Sheriff’s Office said Carol Evans, who suffers from an “altered mental state,” was inside her home on Lower Lovelace Road in West Point when her husband went to cut grass Friday around 2 p.m. When her husband returned, she was no longer there.

“We believe she left the house on foot and got disoriented and was not able to make it back to the house,” Smith said.

The search was called off a few weeks later with no real leads.

Nov. 14

Rivalry Restaurant hosted big crowd

A crowd estimated to be in the neighborhood of 3,500 people was on hand for November’s Rivalry Restaurant right on the state line between Georgia and Alabama.

They enjoyed some great food and lots of fun courtesy of Chickfil-A. It was a fantastic tailgate event some 30 miles northeast of Jordan- Hare Stadium, the site of this year’s Auburn-Georgia game.

“It was truly an outstanding event,” said Chris Busby of the CCDA staff. “In terms of the turnout and the fun people had it couldn’t have been better.”

Nov. 21

Givorns ATM stolen, store suffers severe damage

At 3:02 a.m. on Tuesday, November 21, a stolen 1999 white Dodge Ram backed into the front glass foyer of Givorns Foods on Fairfax Bypass in Valley, then proceeded to pull out, turn around and enter the building through the same foyer area nose-first.

Two African-American suspects were caught on video surveillance removing the ATM from the store, loading the ATM into the back of the stolen vehicle and driving away.

“We received an alarm at 3:02 am,” Valley Police Chief Tommy Weldon said. “Officers responded immediately. Entry had been made into the building at the front glass foyer area, the ATM had been removed and the suspects were gone. The suspects were in the store for approximately six minutes.”

Dec. 4

Lanett overwhelms Sulligent 59-28

The unbeaten and No. 2- ranked Lanett Panthers (14-0) put on an awesome overall performance as coach Clifford Story’s team posted a 59-28 rout of the Sulligent Blue Devils before a big crowd at Morgan-Washburn Stadium.

It was, simply put, a devastating showing of pure athleticism, speed, terrific team play on offense and defense and was as good a showing in the state playoffs by any local team.

Dec. 11

Locals enjoy early winter snow

The residents of the Greater Valley Area were treated to an early Christmas present this past weekend when 1-2 inches of snow was dropped, according to the National Weather Service.

Chris Payne and his wife got out Saturday morning to see what the merry go round in Valley looked like covered in snow.

“I’ve seen more [snowfall] before but for Valley, Ala., this is something else,” he said.

Indeed it was something else with Valley, Lanett and West Point, as well as LaFayette the day

before, getting just enough snow to give everything a white coating but not enough to cause any major issues with power or traffic.

Dec. 13

Doug Jones handily carries Chambers County

Chambers County voters backed Democrat Doug Jones over Republican Roy Moore by more than 900 votes. The final tally showed Jones ahead 4,247 votes to 3,308.

Jones captured 11 of the county’ 20 precincts. He piled up big margins in Lanett (1,043 to 400) and LaFayette (654-207) and was slightly ahead in Valley (1,130-1,072). Moore did well in the rural areas, winning boxes in Huguley (448-305), Cusseta (91-86), Waverly (64-51), Lakeview (106-62), Fredonia (133-79), Penton (58-14), Union Hill (89-13), Sparkling Springs (27-7), Milltown (59-41) and Standing Rock (99-19).

Dec. 15

Heavy fines likely after mill fire

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.

Dec. 22

Major employer coming to area

The Greater Valley Area and Chambers County have gotten a nice Christmas present in the form of the announcement of a major employer coming this way. It could mean more than 200 new jobs in the local area in the first phase of production and as many as 700 jobs when phases two and three are included over the next six to seven years.

John Soules Foods, based in Tyler, Texas, has purchased a 266,000- square-foot building off Towel Avenue in Valley for the purpose of expanding its production capabilities to a third plant. At present, the company has a plant in Tyler, Texas, and a second plant in Gainesville, Ga.

“This is an important and exciting expansion for John Soules Foods. With the additional manufacturing capabilities, we are creating a position to handle the growing needs of our customers that allow us to be more responsive across the Grocery and Food service markets,” said Mark Soules, Co-Chief Executive Officer of John Soules Foods.