Year in Review Part III: Wood retires as police chief, Gray awarded by Biden

Published 9:00 am Friday, December 30, 2022

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the third part in a four-part series reviewing the year 2022.

July 1

Community members speak minds on consolidation plan

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A courtroom in Opelika was packed as community members spoke up about the Chambers County School District’s consolidation plan. The plan has continued to be tweaked — and is still awaiting federal approval after a site in Valley was chosen by CCSD — but this hearing in late June was the next step in the process.

July 6

Lanett police chief announces retirement

Lanett Police Chief Johnny Wood announced he was retiring after 25 years serving the city of Lanett. He retired on July 29. He’d been police chief since 2018. A retirement lunch was held for Wood at the end of July.

July 7

Tucker sworn in as newest Lanett City councilman

Ronnie Tucker was sworn in as the newest Lanett City Council member, succeeding Charles Looser, who had resigned because he was moving.

July 13

GRAY AWARDED MEDAL OF FREEDOM

Civil Rights attorney Fred Gray was presented with the Medal of Freedom by President Joe Biden on July 7. Gray, still an active attorney in his 90s, was one of the first African American members of the Alabama Legislature after Reconstruction.

July 14

Lanett discusses alternative trash collection options

The Lanett City Council expressed concern over the job Amwaste was doing as the city’s waste management collector. The city has since bid out its trash services.

July 19

Ride honors fallen deputy

The Fallen Hero Memorial Honor Ride for Deputy J’Mar Abel saw a large participation as 130 vehicles participated in the 42-mile event. Abel, a Chambers County deputy, was killed when assisting in a vehicle pursuit.

July 20

LaFayette and Valley offer land for potential school site

Both the cities of LaFayette and Valley offered land to the Chambers County Board of Education for possible development of a consolidated high school. Ultimately, months later, the Valley site was chosen, but that decision still needs federal approval.

Casner tapped as interim Lanett police chief

The Lanett City Council appointed Richard Casner as its interim police chief at the city council meeting in July. Casner took over for Johnny Wood, who was retiring.

Aug. 2

Reality television star visits West Point

June Edith Shannon, also known as Mama June, visited West Point in July, signing autographs and taking photos with fans.

Aug. 5

Pike pleads guilty to 1985 murder

David Anthony Pike pled guilty to murder of Calvin Lee Irvin in 1985 and was sentenced to 240 months. Pike was located in Puerto Rico in 2019 after decades.

Aug. 10

West Point police chief resigns

West Point Police Chief Donald Britt submitted his resignation on Aug. 3, with his final day being Aug. 24.

WPPD officers placed on administrative leave after viral video surfaces

West Point Police Officer Donald Bramblett was shown on security camera tossing a security camera away from a house. Bramblett and additional officers were placed on leave as an investigation was conducted. Ultimately, Bramblett and Elizabeth Wegeinka were fired following the investigation. Bramblett was fired because his actions were “outside the scope of authority by discarding personal property” without just cause. Wegeinka was fully complied with the investigation and was fired “for reasons unrelated to this internal investigation,” per WPPD.

Aug. 18

Suspect in I-85 shootings taken into custody in LaFayette

A man involved in three separate shootings on Interstate 85 — in Auburn, Montgomery and LaGrange — was arrested in LaFayette. The suspect was 39-year-old Jerel Raphael Brown of Montgomery.

Sept. 14

CCSD hosts first of two town hall meetings on school site

Chambers County School District hosted the first of two town hall meetings on the new school site in September, the next step of the consolidation process. Meetings were held in both LaFayette and Valley. Ultimately, the Valley site was chosen, pending federal approval.

Sept. 15

Amwaste underbid for Valley contract

The City of Valley has ultimately chosen to move away from Amwaste as its trash collection partner, but that all began in September when the company was underbid by two firms. One of those was C&C Sanitation, which won the bid.

Sept. 16

Howell named Narcotics Officer of the Year

Valley Police Department Officer Lawrence Howell was recognized as the Alabama Narcotics Officer of the Year. In the past year, Howell had arrested 84 people on a total of 117 charges, bringing in over $7500, 1500 grams of marijuana and 1200 grams of methamphetamine.

Sept. 24

Carter discusses being named WPPD interim chief

Kevin Carter, who was named the interim police chief for the West Point Police Department, discussed his vision for the police department. Carter has been with the WPPD since 2010.