Year in review January-March: New restaurants open in West Point, COVID was still around
Published 10:00 am Wednesday, December 28, 2022
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in four-part series looking back at the year 2022 in Chambers County.
SCHOOLS PROCEEDING CAUTIOUSLY WITH REOPENING
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It’s hard to remember it, just based on how much life has moved on almost a year later, but in early 2021, local schools were very concerned about students returning to class with COVID-19 numbers again on the rise. “I encourage you to remain diligent in your efforts to protect yourselves,” wrote Lanett Schools Superintendent Jennifer Boyd. Just a few days into the semester, the Chambers County school District had to go virtual on Thursday, Jan. 13 and Friday, Jan. 14.
REAVES NAMED OFFICER OF YEAR
Brittani Reaves was named Lanett Police Department’s Officer of the Year. Lanett Police Chief Johnny Wood presented the award to Reaves, a school resource officer, at a Lanett City Council meeting.
GEIGER ANNOUNCED AS NEW EAFD CHIEF
Jacob Geiger was announced as the new fire chief for the East Alabama Water, Sewer and Fire District. Geiger replaced Kerry Pickard.
MCCANTS NAMED LANETT EMPLOYEE OF YEAR
Lanett Recreation Director Trent McCants was named the City of Lanett’s employee of the year. “They give me a lot of credit, but I want to say it’s not just me,” a humble McCants said.
IVEY CUTS RIBBON AT NEW WELCOME CENTER
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey cut the ribbon on the new Alabama Welcome Center in Lanett in January. “It’s a pleasure to be here in Chambers County today to open Alabama’s newest welcome center,” Ivey said.
Karvelas opens in West Point
Karvelas Pizza Company opened its third location in Troup County in January, when it officially opened its doors in West Point.
EAHC sets new hospitalizations high
Just a year ago, East Alabama Health set a new record for daily hospitalizations during the COVID-19 pandemic. There were 96 hospitalizations during a two day stretch, passing the previous high from September 2021.
BULL’S HIBACHI 3 OPENS IN WEST POINT
Bull’s Hibachi 3 opened in West Point on Jan. 27, becoming the third restaurant for the company. The other two are in LaGrange.
CCSO RENAMES TRAINING FACILITY AFTER FULLER
The Chambers County Sheriff’s Department Training Facility was renamed in memory of Captain Jason Fuller, who died of naturally causes at a young age in 2020. The training facility is located in the former Valley Rescue Squad building on Phillips Road near the intersection with Highway 50.
16-year-old killed when gun
Antavious Walton, 16, was shot and killed after a gun being held by a 17-year-old was discharged. The shooter told police they were attempting to unload the gun when it fired.
Man charged with murder of Lanett woman
Jay Davis Gamel, 37, was arrested for the murder of his girlfriend, Tracy Shepard, 47, of Lanett, according to the Troup County Sheriff’s Office.
Kemp helps unveil new Kia Sportage
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp went to Kia Georgia Wednesday to help unveil the Kia Sportage. “It’s another great vehicle KIA is going to produce,” Kemp said. “We’re glad to have it in Georgia.”
Story signs with Clemson
Lanett High School’s Caden Story signed with Clemson on National Signing Day. “This decision was the hardest decision of my life,” Story said. “I wanted to choose all three schools, but I could only choose one.”
NEW AXE THROWING BUSINESS COMING TO WEST POINT
Purge Nation, a new ax throwing business, announced it was going to open in West Point in March.
WORK BEGINS ON NEW LANETT
Just over a year after a fire burned it down, work began to rebuild the athletic field house at Lanett High Schools. The projected cost was $1.9 million.
MISS ALABAMA VISITS CHAMBERS ACADEMY
Miss Alabama Lauren Bradford visited Chambers County in February as part of the school’s “Real Life Wednesday” program.
LANETT, HUGULEY FIRE DEPARTMENTS BATTLE FIRE AT
The Lanett Fire Department and Huguley Fire Departments battled a fire at Norbord Barton Mill for approximately six hours in February. “It could’ve been a whole lot worse,” said Lanett Fire and & EMS Chief Johnny Allen.
Former Lanett resident, first Black student at University of
Autherine Lucy Foster, who had lived in Lanett during her life, died. Foster was the first Black person to enroll at the University of Alabama. Her application for admission to the university was accepted by mistake.
Hunt sworn in on Chambers County Board of Education
Jennifer Hunt was sworn in as a new board member for the Chambers County Board of Education. Longtime board president Bill Martin also resigned that night due to health reasons.
LaFayette Council tables discussion on lifting mask mandate, city attorney walks out
LaFayette City Attorney Mack Tucker walked out of a meeting in LaFayette after presenting evidence toward ending a city’s mask mandate. After Tucker’s presentation, the council voted 3-2 to table a discussion on changing the mask mandate.
Teacher charged with abuse of a child
Valerie Lynn Whitehead, 30, of Valley, has been charged with abuse of a child under 18 after allegations of abuse were made during a Children’s Advocacy Center interview.
CCSD announces initial
It’s changed some since the initial announcement, but the Chambers County School District announced its first consolidation plan that included merging LaFayette High and Valley High. The board continues to work to get federal approval for the plan.
Former Lanett Panther, participant in first Super Bowl dies at 81
David “Dave” Hill, a local sports legend, passed away at age 81. Hill was born and raised in Lanett and played for the Kansas City Chiefs in the first Super Bowl. He also played in Super Bowl IV.
Hundreds gather for motorcycle ride for Tallapoosa Girls Ranch
More than $30,000 was brought in through the Jason Fuller Memorial Motorcycle Ride. The ride benefitted the Tallapoosa Girls Ranch.