Year in Review part 3: Looking back at headlines from July through September

Published 8:00 am Saturday, December 28, 2019

EDITORS NOTE: This is the third of a four-part series looking back at the year 2019 in Chambers and Troup Counties.

July 2

Lanett business owner charged with tax crimes

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Gladys Rosalynn McCauley, owner of Roz House of Tax, was charged with 20 counts of aiding and assisting in the filing of a false federal income tax return. According to an indictment, McCauley willfully aided and assisted in the preparation of several tax forms to the IRS for multiple individuals. She has pleaded guilty to charges and has not been sentenced as of Friday.

Teen charged in

Bramblett traffic crash

Johnston Edward Taylor, 16, was charged with two counts of manslaughter after killing Rod and Paula Bramblett in an Auburn traffic crash. The Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences confirmed to the Auburn Police Department that Taylor had the presence of marijuana in his system, according to a news release from the department.

July 5

Springwood names new headmaster

Springwood School in Lanett announced Lowrie McCown as the school’s newest Head of School. He replaced Rick Johnson, who left to take job in Georgia after seven years at the post.


Shumate sworn in as TCSS Superintendent

Dr. Brian Shumate, Superintendent of the Troup County School System was sworn in. Shumate served as the superintendent of the Medford School District in Medford, Oregon, a position he has held since 2014.

July 9

Troup County hires fire chief

Troup County Board of Commissioners announced that John Ekaitis would be the new Troup County fire chief, retroactive to June 29. Prior to coming to Troup County, Ekaitis served as the fire chief for the Sumter County Fire Department for about seven years.

John Ekaitis

July 10

Humane Society has first meeting since 2017

The Chattahoochee Humane Society’s board of directors held its first public meeting since having its 501(c)(3) nonprofit status restored. According to board members, the 501(c)(3) was revoked in 2017 following several years where the organization failed to send proper documents to the IRS. The humane society is now back to operating fully and accepting donations.

Current members of the Chattahoochee Humane Society Board of Directors include, from left, Dave Shirley, O’Neal Shaw, Board Chairman Stanley Tucker, John Radford, Vice Chairman Dantz Frazer, secretary Shirlee Ausman and shelter director Shon Sims. — Wayne Clark

July 13

Whit’s Chic revives business in familiar location

Whit Bradley Jr., revived Whit’s Chic, after his father started the business about 40 years ago. Bradley said the restaurant prides itself on its chicken, hamburgers, hot dogs and vegetables.

Whit’s Chic Owner Whit Bradley Jr. drops a few chicken tenders in a basket Friday afternoon during Whit Chic’s first day back in business.

July 19

Owner of Family Tax Services arrested on theft of property charges

Christina Prather Williams was arrested after an investigation into allegations that she had stolen the federal income tax refund from several of her customers.

Since 2016, Williams has owned and operated Family Tax Services, which is located at 85 Trammell Avenue in Valley.

The City of Valley voted a month later to revoke Williams’ business license.

July 23

Valley man arrested for murder

Phillip Warren Wood, 50, was arrested and charged with one count of murder, according to a press release from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.

, 50, was arrested and charged with one count of murder, according to a news release from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office. The news came after Sidney Austin Harmon, 27, from Valley, was pronounced dead at the scene at about 1:30 a.m. on July 21, according to Lee County Coroner Bill Harris.


Estes resigns at president, CEO of  LaGrange-Troup chamber

Page Estes resigned from her position as president and CEO of the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce, according to a news release from the chamber board.

Estes officially resigned after ten years in her position.

LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce President Page Estes speaks at the groundbreaking ceremony for the West Georgia Technical College Callaway Center Culinary Expansion on Friday. (Alicia B. Hill | Daily News)

July 24

Chambers County launches new website

Chambers County refreshed its online presence with a new website in July with a more user-friendly and cleaner look.

Chris Busby, director of commercial and community development with the Chambers County Development Authority, said the goal was to provide more resources for people in the county.

Pictured is the first thing new users will see when logging onto Chambers County’s new website

July 25

Pike to plead guilty to Puerto Rico charges

David Anthony Pike declared his intention to plead guilty to federal charges. According to court documents, Pike, 57, pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft. In December, he was sentenced to two years in prison. He is still wanted on a 1985 capital murder charge for the death of Calvin Irvin

David Anthony Pike was arrested in January.

July 30

West Point bakery closes

Jam-N-Java Bakery in downtown West Point announced on social media it was closing its doors for good.

According to the bakery’s Facebook page, the restaurant closed on July 28.


Aug. 1

Parents of world series champions reflect on wild ride

When the final out was called Wednesday afternoon in Lumberton, North Carolina, tears sprang to the eyes of several spectators in the crowd.

The parents of the newly-crowned world series champs have spent the better part of July in hotel rooms in Tuscaloosa and Lumberton for the state and world series championships.

Chelsea Bunn hugs her son Brayden Bunn in-between games Wednesday afternoon. Valley would go onto win the 2019 Dixie Youth AAA Division II World Series title later in the day.

Aug. 7

County establishes census committee

The Chambers County Commission created a Chambers County Complete Census Committee to ensure an accurate count during the 2020 U.S. Census.  Chambers County Commissioner Sam Bradford said the census is used to distribute more than $7 billion throughout the state. Chambers County Attorney Skip McCoy said a correct count for Chambers County could result in about $500,000.

Members of the Chambers County Complete Counts Committee gathered at the Greater Valley Area Chamber of Commerce Wednesday afternoon to learn about the importance of the 2020 Census. — Dustin Duncan

Aug. 15

Chattabrewchee moves tasting room to Columbus

Michael Denehy, co-owner of Chattabrewchee Southern Brewhouse, said the brewery expanded operations by shifting its tasting room to a larger city. The brewery used to operate in downtown West Point but has since ceased operations. The building at 709 4th Ave. has been purchased by Kesha Edwards- Coniglio and her husband for further use as an event center.

Aug. 17

Lanett announces Tractor supply

Lanett Mayor Kyle McCoy announced that Tractor Supply Company would be the first tenant on the Lanett Mill site since the city acquired the property. Tractor Supply purchased about 3.6 acres from the city for $360,000. The new business opened on Dec. 14.

Lanett Mayor Kyle McCoy says Lanett is open for business after announcing that Tractor Supply Company is the first tenant on the old Lanett mill site. The chain retail store will occupy 3.6 acres on the south end of the site next to 10th Street. — Dustin Duncan

Former Bookkeeper pleads guilty

Rene Welch, 57, was sentenced to 18 months in prison and supervised probation for five years for her involvement in the theft of about $300,000 from the probate office.

According to the plea agreement, between July to December 2017, Welch used her position in the Chambers County Probate Court to steal $299,861.68 that belonged to the court.

The plea agreement says Welch has agreed to pay restitution in the full amount of the stolen funds.

Aug. 20

Lanett hosts film festival

This was the third year for the film festival showing films at New Horizon Theatre in downtown West Point, Lanett City Hall and the Jane K. Farrar Event Center in downtown Lanett. Lanett Mayor Kyle McCoy said this year was the festival’s best year yet.

The film festival showed 70 films over two days.

Aug. 30

Valley police arrest 24-year-old for alleged relationship with 14-year-old girl

Lanett police officer Glenn Edward Caldwell, 24, of Auburn, was charged with transmitting obscene material to a child, a Class B felony, electronic solicitation of a child, a Class B felony and traveling to meet a child for an unlawful sex act, a Class A felony.

On Aug. 16, detectives with the Valley Police Department started an investigation concerning a 14-year-old girl having an inappropriate relationship with a 24-year-old male after questionable texts were found on the juvenile’s phone by social workers, according to the news release from the police. Additionally, police learned the two met over social media.

Valley Police Major Mike Reynolds said at the time there wasn’t any evidence to suggest Caldwell made physical contact with the juvenile.


Sept. 3

Seven injured in shooting outside former school building

Seven people were injured after an argument that spilled over from a Lanett-LaFayette football game resulted in a shooting at Fairfax Kindergarten.

The Valley Police Department responded to the scene at 300 Boulevard around midnight and found two victims, a 24-year-old male from Lanett and an 18-year-old male from Valley, in a vehicle in the parking lot with gunshot wounds.Montavious Demetrel Dawson, 20 of Opelika, was arrested and charged with first-degree assault on Sept. 9 and Arquondus Bernard Todd, 19 of Valley, was arrested on Sept. 23 on similar charges.



Sept. 4


The set of “Electric Jesus” stopped in Valley for its one-day shoot at the skating rink, which is meant to take viewers back to the mid-1980s. Among the movie’s stars are appearances by Judd Nelson, best known for portraying John Bender in “The Breakfast Club,” and Brian Baumgartner, known for his role as Kevin Malone in the television series “The Office.”

The film doesn’t have a release date posted as of Friday.

Chris White, writer and director of the feature film “Electric Jesus,” stands in front of The Skatin’ Rink in Valley. The production is scheduled to shoot a few scenes at the rink next week. — Zachary Bromberg

Sept. 5

Kidnapped woman escapes on Interstate 85

A woman who was reportedly kidnapped out of Montgomery jumped out of a vehicle on Interstate 85, leading the Troup County Sheriff’s Office into a high-speed chase with the driver of the vehicle.

A deputy was sitting at the state line in a construction zone when he saw a vehicle traveling next to him skid to a stop. A female then jumped out of the passenger side of the car, and the deputy exited his vehicle and helped get the woman from the traffic lane.

The woman told the police she had been kidnapped by the driver, identified as Rubin Mack, 40. After a pursuit, the driver wrecked his vehicle in Harris County.

Sept. 6

Suspect shot and killed by police after shooting sister near West Point Lake

A man shot and killed his sister in the 5000 block Riverside Lane, then ran from police toward West Point Lake, according to the Troup County Sheriff’s Office.

When officers located the suspect on a dock, he fired one round, raised his gun and did not comply with officers’ demands. As a result, the suspect was shot and killed by police.

Sept. 12

Body found near substation in Valley

The body of Dylan Lowe McClendon, 29, of Atlanta, was found dead near Alabama Power substation, according to the Valley Police Department. Police say there was no foul play suspected and there were no obvious signs of trauma that could explain the cause of death.

Sept. 14

Sheriff ’s office launches internal investigation

The Chambers County Sheriff’s Office launched an internal investigation as to why proper notice of a sex offender didn’t go out to nearby residents in a timely matter.

According to the Valley Police Department, that offender, Corderell Deonrea St. George, 29, was living near a woman in the 1400 block of 27th Street on Sept. 2 when he broke into the woman’s home, hit her in the head with a hammer and attempted to rape her.

Police records reveal the victim said she was asleep in her bed when she was woken by a sharp pain in her head. She told police that when she opened her eyes she saw her neighbor standing over her holding a hammer and groping her.

Later, the sheriff’s office said a computer error led to the notice being delayed.

Sept. 17

LaFayette looks for new fire chief

LaFayette Mayor Barry Moody announced the city would be looking for a new fire chief after former chief Heath Cotney resigned a week earlier. The resignation was cited as personal issues. In December, the LaFayette City Council voted unanimously to hire James Doody as its next fire chief at a salary of $55,000.

Sept. 20

Snoddy named new extension coordinator

Rachel Snoddy was named the new Chambers County Extension Office Coordinator, succeeding Ken McMillian.

Snoddy had been with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System for the past nine years and has spent the past five years in Chambers County as the local 4-H Agent in the extension office.


Sept. 21

Lanett City Schools faces perceived malware attack

Lanett Superintendent Jennifer Boyd said the school system shut down all computer servers throughout the district after a perceived malware attack. In September, she said it was a safety precaution. The servers were down for a couple weeks but Boyd said no confidential information was breached.

Sept. 27

Vines Funeral homes gets historic marker

The Vines Funeral Homes in LaFayette unveiled a historical marker commemorating its place on the National Register of Historic Places.

Sept. 28

Da Grub Spot moves to LaFayette

The popular food truck Da Grub Spot announced it would be retiring its food truck and opening a storefront in LaFayette. The new location will be at 301 9th Avenue in LaFayette.

The LaFayette location has not opened as of Friday.