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Year in Review Part II: Life during COVID-19

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second in a four-part series looking back at the year 2020.

April 1

Going on a bear hunt

West Point native Judy Wilkinson started a local bear hunt for families during COVID-19. Businesses in the Greater Valley Area, along with those in Troup County, put stuffed animals in windows so families could see them on drives or walks.

Three KMMG team members test

positive for COVID-19

Three workers at Kia Motors Manufacturing tested positive for COVID-19. This came about two weeks after five employees went into self-quarantine after potential exposure to the virus.

April 2

Chambers School District announces rest of year plans

After already announcing students would not return to campus for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year, the CCSD announced how the final two months would go for students in the district, including how grades would be counted.

LaFayette joins other Chambers

County cities with declaration

The LaFayette City Council unanimously approved a declaration of emergency, making it the third city in Chambers County to approve the action.

Georgia governor announces

shelter in place order

Georgia Gov. Brain Kemp signed an executive order that implemented a statewide shelter in place order. Kemp said the primary reason for the order was to protect the citizens of Georgia and help hospitals.

April 3

338 unemployment claims filed in Chambers Co.

Two weeks after a COVID-19 test was positive, Chambers County had 338 unemployment claims, which was up 86 percent from the previous week.

April 4

Ivey issues stay at home order

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey and State Health Officer Scott Harris announced the state’s stay at home order. The order stated unless there was an essential reason, citizens were to remain at their place of residence. At the time, Chambers County had 80 COVID-19 cases.

April 7

Volunteers

at SewingMachine.com sew over 500 masks

West Point Mayor Steve Tramell, Sheila Simpson, Penney Daniel and Rachel Ramirez and several other women from the Georgia-Alabama State Line Chapter of the Quilts of Valor made more than 500 masks to donate to hospitals during the early mask shortage at the start of the pandemic.

April 8

Chambers

County up to eight COVID-19 related deaths, second most in

Alabama

Chambers County was a hot-bed for COVID-19 during the first few weeks of the pandemic. In early April, the county had more than 100 cases, which was the sixth county in the state to reach that number and eight deaths, which ranked second in the state.

April 9

Three Lanett City Hall employees test positive for COVID-19

Three Lanett employees tested positive, which led to the closure of city hall for four days of extensive cleaning.

April 10

Diversicare worker tests positive for COVID-19

A Diversicare worker, who was not a direct caregiver to residents or patients, tested positive for the COVID-19.

April 14

Turning the

fountain blue

Lanett’s downtown fountain was turned blue in honor of first responders and hospital workers. It was blue until the fountain went down for maintenance in May.

April 16

Valley council member contracts COVID-19

Valley councilmember Marquetta Madden was the first member of the Valley City Council to test positive for the virus. Madden quickly made a recovery. Later, councilmember Jim Clark tested positive for the virus.

Chambers COVID-19 death toll hits 10

Chambers County was at 225 cases and 10 deaths, which was fourth-most in the state. At the time, there were 118 deaths statewide.

April 17

Health

department holds

testing for COVID-19

The Chambers County Health Department, along with nurses from the East Central District, held a drive-thru COVID-19 testing. At the time of the testing, there were 231 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the county.

April 21

Georgia to allow some businesses to reopen

Gov. Brain Kemp announced that some businesses could start to reopen. Kemp was one of the first governors to allow businesses to reopen after shutting them down.

April 22

KMMG making face shields in response to COVID-19

KMMG started making face shields in response to the shortage of personal protective equipment. Shields were donated to hospitals in Georgia, Alabama, New York and California.

Daniel’s Drive Inn back open, officially marks 70 years in business

After closing for a few weeks due to the pandemic, Daniel’s Drive Inn reopened and celebrated its 70th anniversary. Though it wasn’t able to have a huge celebration, Daniel’s made shirts to celebrate the achievement.

April 28

Valley starts 2020 street paving

program Monday

Chris Clark Grading & Paving started its work on repaving roads in Valley, starting with 29th Boulevard.

April 29

Ivey initiates first phase of reopening

Two days before the shelter-in-place order expired, Ivey announced the first installment of the state’s safer at home order, which allowed some retail businesses to reopen. Businesses were limited in their capacity. Elective medical procedures were allowed to start back as well.

May 1

Circle of Care holds ‘care

caravan’ through Valley

Members of the Circle of Care drove throughout Valley and Lanett honking horns and playing music showing its members that it was still there to serve the community’s needs.

Point University to hold virtual graduation

Point University held its 2020 graduation ceremony virtually. It had a PowerPoint dedicated to the graduating class and had a message from Chick-fil-a president CEO Dan Cathy.

May 2

Local stores start to open

For the first time in six weeks, local businesses started to reopen their doors as the safer at home order went into effect.

May 9

Ivey amends safer at home order

Ivey amended the safer at home order, allowing more businesses to reopen, including restaurants and close-contact services.

May 12

Valley Community Center opens with restrictions

With the safer at home order changed, the Valley Community Center was able to reopen for the first time since March 17. The restrictions limited the occupancy and the hours it was open, as it needed to be cleaned multiple times a day.

May 14

Local schools plan for

graduations

Four of the six local high schools announced their graduation plans. Springwood and Beulah were the first two schools to graduate, while Lanett followed a week later. Chambers Academy was the final school in the area to graduate, nearly a month after Beulah held its graduation. CCSD announced its graduation plans the following day.

May 16

Local govs begin reopening

The LaFayette and Lanett Annexes opened to the public on May 18 with limitations. Valley and Lanett city halls had reopened a week earlier, while LaFayette had a meeting later in the week to decide when to reopen city hall.

May 19

Lanett council member dies

After battling an illness for several months, Lanett council member Shirley Motley died. She was replaced by her son, John, who filled out the rest of her term on the council.

Lunch handouts wrapping up for school year

Both the CCSD and Lanett City Schools gave out free lunches to the children in their school districts. In the 42 days of handouts, 77,680 lunches were given out.

May 20

Lanett police officers, firemen and EMS personnel

receive raise

Lanett Fire Department firefighters received a $2 raise, while police officers received roughly a $4 raise.

May 22

Valley celebrates 40-year anniversary

The city of Valley celebrated its 40-year anniversary as a city. The city incorporated the towns of Shawmut, Langdale, Fairfax and River View.

May 26

Springwood holds graduation

ceremony

The Springwood class of 2020 gathered together one final time on its football field to hold its graduation ceremony. The students participated in a short parade before having the actual ceremony on the field.

Beulah grads participated in parade, cross stage to get diplomas

Members of the 2020 graduating class from Beulah participated in a parade that took them to the front of Beulah Elementary School, where they crossed a stage to get their diplomas.

May 27

Kia shuts down due to supply issues

KMMG suspended production for three days due to positive COVID-19 tests from members of its workforce.

May 28

Valley Council

extends

emergency

agreement

The Valley City Council approved a three-year agreement with the Chambers County Emergency Communications District. The only change was a 2 percent increase, so the CCECD could hire a full-time dispatcher.

June 2

Lanett High School holds graduation ceremony

The Lanett class of 2020 received its diplomas on the field at Morgan-Washburne Stadium.

Floyd named Greater Chamber of Commerce

Junior Ambassador of the Year

Valley High School junior Hazel Floyd was named the 2020 Greater Chamber of Commerce Junior Ambassador of the Year.

June 4

Former Lanett grad name Mister Miles College

Lanett graduate Jaren Ross was named the inaugural Mister Miles College, which is given to the student that represents the college the best.

June 9

Chambers girls donate snacks to first responders

Members of the Chambers Academy athletic teams donated snacks and drinks to members of the LaFayette police and fire departments. Blue snacks were donated to the police department, while red snacks were donated to the fire department.

June 10

LaFayette

graduates 58

seniors Monday

The 2020 LaFayette senior class graduated in its gym. The class received more than $28 million in scholarships.

VHS holds

graduation

Valley High School graduated its 2020 senior class in four shifts. Due to weather, the 184 students graduated in the Valley Community Center’s gym, as students were separated in order to comply with social distancing guidelines.

Lumpkin named principal

After serving as the interim principal for the 2019-20 school year, Bryant Lumpkin was named Lanett High School’s principal.

June 16

CCSD announces tentative restart

The Chambers County School District announced it would start in-person classes on Aug. 12,  which it was able to do. Since starting on Aug. 12, there has been only one shutdown due to a high number of employees quarantining.

June 18

CCSD hires new principal

The Chambers County School Board approved the hire of Chad Smith to be the principal of W.F. Burns Middle School.

June 19

Lanett Mayor Kyle McCoy proclaims Juneteenth a city holiday

Lanett Mayor Kyle McCoy proclaimed Juneteenth a city holiday at a Lanett city council meeting. It was the 10th year in a row that the holiday was recognized in Lanett and West Point.

June 20

Chambers

Academy

graduates 51st class

Chambers Academy graduated its 2020 senior class on the field at Torbert Field. It was the final class in Chambers County to graduate.

June 23

Lanett holds peaceful protest on Sunday

Citizens from Lanett and the surrounding cities held a peaceful protest following the death of George Floyd.