$1.5m Arc Grant Amping up Local Welding program

Bevill State Hamilton Welding Instructor Mike Reed leans into a weld.

HAMILTON - Bevill State Community College’s (BSCC) Welding Technology program in Hamilton is getting a shot in the arm through a $1.5 million Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) grant.
The award, which is a part of the commissions “POWER” grant program was announced on Wednesday, Oct. 14, and will fund expansion measures for the Bevill State Hamilton Campus’ welding program by doubling its current capacity.

Mayor vows a ‘double-down’ on drug activity

Hamilton officer Gerald Broaddrick confiscated five pounds of marijuana and an illegal firearm on Monday, Oct. 5, during a traffic stop on Military Street North. According to Hamilton Police Lt. Jimmy Pendley, Broaddrick confiscated another 3.2 pounds of marijuana a few months ago as well.

HAMILTON - City officials say local law enforcement will be cracking down on illicit drug activity in Hamilton.
During a work session on Wednesday, Oct. 14, Hamilton Mayor Bob Page said there has been a “public outcry” concerning illicit drug activity in the city.
“My reaction to this is to double-down on our police department, which I’m doing at this time, and our effort to stop illegal drug sales and use in the City of Hamilton.”


Hackleburg council stands its ground

HACKLEBURG - Big 95.5 radio station owner Hutty Hutcheson will be expected to pay power expenses totaling $2,300 which were incurred during 2019.
At a Hackleburg Town Council meeting on Monday, Oct. 12, Hackleburg Mayor Darryl Colburn attempted to state his case for why he believes the bill should be lower.
Hackleburg Councilwoman Tabby Lolley brought the issue to the council’s attention during the council’s Sept. 28 meeting. She pointed out at the time that Hutcheson has been billed three times for the amount owed and has not paid.

Citizens drive launching to fill the gap

With Christmas for Kids canceled, Jason Rayburn (left) and Stacey Gann, both of Hamilton, are organizing a citizen’s Christmas drive in order to make sure no children go without this holiday season. Also shown is Jay Gann.

HAMILTON - When news broke that Hamilton’s longtime Christmas charity Christmas for Kids would not be able to operate this year due to COVID-19, Jason Rayburn and Stacey Gann felt like they had to do something.
Rayburn and Gann, both of Hamilton and whose families have been friends for years, said they both felt the burden to act when they heard the news.
The two are conducting the drive modeled similar to the Salvation Army’s Christmas Angel Tree program, where individuals adopt children and are given their gender, age,  clothing sizes and wish list.

Weatherly says high expectations, consistency breed success at rural school

GUIN - Josh Weatherly said he believes that collaboration is a key component driving the success and continued academic progress of students at Guin Elementary in rural northwestern Alabama.
Weatherly has been principal for eight years at the preK-6 school. He taught the prior 10 years at Guin Elementary, which recently earned first-time honors as a 2019 National Blue Ribbon School. It is a 2019 ESEA Network National Title I Distinguished School, recognized for exceptional student performance and academic growth.

Benefit concert being held for band

WINFIELD -  The Winfield City High School Marching Band will hold a benefit concert featuring Grammy and Multi-Dove Award winning artist Jason Crabb with special guest, comedian Mickey Bell on Sunday, Oct. 18 at 3 p.m.
The concert will be held on the baseball field next door to Winfield Free Will Baptist Church located at 1960 U.S. Hwy 43, Winfield, AL.
Tickets are $15 in advance for General Admission, $20 at the gate and $30 for VIP tickets (advance sales only).
Tickets may be purchased online at www.itickets.com.

Christmas for Kids canceled this year

COVID-19 has shutdown this year’s Christmas for Kids drive, which provides more than 400 children with christmas gifts each year.
Sandy Sandlin, who has led the seasonal campaign since it began more than 35 years ago, lamented the cancelation, saying that challenges incurred by the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in organizing and executing the drive to be essentially infeasible.
The Marion County Department of Human Resources (DHR) has partnered with the Christmas for Kids to handle and review applications.

Ivey extends mask order

Marion County High School (MCHS) assistant coach Seth Seaborn is shown masked up during MCHS’s game against Meek on Friday, Oct. 2.

MONTGOMERY - Gov. Kay Ivey on Wednesday issued her 18th supplemental emergency proclamation containing an amended Safer at Home Order that includes an extension to the statewide mask requirement.
Individuals will be required to wear a mask or other facial covering when in public and in close contact with other people, as described in the order. This amended order extends until Sunday, November 8, at 5 p.m.
The order will remain in full force and effect until 5 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 8, unless extended, rescinded or modified in writing before that time.

City cuts checks for local schools

HAMILTON - The City of Hamilton distributed $135,000 in special funding to its three local schools from its alcohol tax revenue during a meeting on Monday, Sept. 21.
This marks the third year for the city to make the donation.
Hamilton City Clerk Angela Owen presented the checks to Hamilton’s local principals, high school principal David Cantrell and elementary principal Keith Smith during the meeting. Middle school principal Norman Ballard was unable to attend.


Lolley wants radio station billed again

Hackleburg Town Councilwoman Tabby Lolley questions why Big 95.5 owner Hutty Hutcheson has not paid bills sent to him.

HACKLEBURG - Outgoing town councilors want a final effort to secure obligations they claim are still owed by Big 95.5 owner Hutty Hutcheson.
The local radio station owner, who rents space in the town’s recreation building, is pushing back against the accusations, arguing he’s invested thousands of dollars into the facility and that the council members are bitter because he didn’t support them for re-election.

Leaders pull the plug on state’s virtual school

HAMILTON - Marion County School officials will  “bite the bullet” and fork out additional funds to replace  problematic state-furnished virtual school software.
During a special-called meeting on Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 23, the Marion County Board of Education voted unanimously to contract with a Minnesota-based online school software company, Edmentum. The program will cost an estimated $234,000, which will be adjusted depending on enrollment changes.

Guin Water Works dropping 3M lawsuit

Guin City Attorney Jerry Hester is shown reading aloud a statement from the Guin Water Board that the decision was made to drop the lawsuit against 3M during a regular meeting on Monday, Sept. 21, at Guin City Hall.

GUIN -  Guin Mayor Max Maddox  announced that the Guin Water Works and Sewer Board has decided to drop its lawsuit against 3M during a regular meeting on Monday, Sept. 21.
Maddox stated that the Water Board and attorneys involved in the lawsuit made the decision to sue 3M against his advice.
“I sit on the (water) board, I have no vote, but I do give my opinion,” said Maddox.
“I gave my opinion when we were meeting with the lawyers that they would not do anything until they met with 3M. The next thing I heard, we had a lawsuit.”

Inmate tests positive for COVID-19 post mortem

HAMILTON - A 59-year-old Hamilton Community Work Center inmate has died due to COVID-19.
Christopher Nalls, who was serving a 15-year sentence for theft of property out of Fayette County passed away on Thursday, Sept. 10.
According to a press release distributed on Friday, Sept. 25 by the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC), Nalls, who suffered from multiple pre-existing health conditions, was transferred to a local hospital on Aug. 31 for care unrelated to COVID-19.

Runoff set for Tuesday

Voters are set to return to the polls on Tuesday, Oct. 6, to settle runoffs in multiple races.
Municipal elections will be held from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in each municipality. A photo ID is required to vote.
A photo ID is the only requirement to vote. According to Alabama’s current COVID-19 health order, masks are not required to perform constitutional rights, such as voting. The health order strongly encourages residents to wear a mask, though.

Auditors say city in good financial health

HAMILTON - Financial records from 2019 show the City of Hamilton in good financial health.
The Hamilton City Council heard results from their Fiscal Year 2019 audit during a city council meeting on Monday, Sept. 21.
The audit report spans the previous fiscal year, which occurred during October 2018 and September 2019.
The city’s finances were audited by certified public accountants Leanna Jones and Aimee Gilliland of Riggs Accounting in Hamilton.


Apprenticeship program announced

JASPER - Bevill State Community College is excited to announce the launch of its new apprenticeship program!
Currently, Bevill State is offering a pre-apprenticeship Scholarship in the amount of $2,050.
Dr. Leslie Hartley, Dean of Instruction for Bevill State Community College said, "Bevill State Community College is excited to be offering this new opportunity to students.

Gas tax increasing 2¢ tomorrow

Alabama’s gasoline tax will hike another 2 cents beginning tomorrow, Thursday, Oct. 1.
The increase is the second step in the state’s 10-cent Rebuild Alabama Act, which the state Legislature approved during the 2019 Legislative Session. It was the first increase to the gas tax since 1992.
The gas tax increased 6 cents in September 2019, from 18 cents per gallon to 24 cents per gallon. Tomorrow’s increase will bump it an additional 2 cents to 26 cents per gallon. Additionally, diesel tax will increase from 25 cents to 27 cents.