School systems seeking to assist children with disabilities

Public schools across Marion County are searching for children with disabilities or who are suspected of having disabilities in order to provide special services.
The program, simply referred to as Child Find, is a statewide program that is sponsored by the state Department of Education’s Division of Rehabilitation  Services, Early Intervention, and the Division of Special Education Services.
The program is an effort to locate, identify and evaluate individuals from birth to age 21 who have disabilities or who are suspected of having disabilities.

 

‘It’s a divine miracle’


Gunner Pendley (right) is shown with his sister, Kayla.

BIRMINGHAM - The father of Gunner Pendley is crediting God and prayers for the unexpected improvement of his son’s health.
“It’s a divine miracle from our Father in Heaven,” said Hamilton Police Department Lt. Jimmy Pendley, whose son was expected to either die or be brain dead after suffering a severe brain injury.
On Wednesday, July 24, Gunner Pendley, 20, Hamilton, son of Jimmy Pendley and Kimberly Reese, was involved in a tractor accident around 1:30 p.m. while working in the Wayside Community in Fayette County.

Brown’s Pottery an Alabama Maker with a national legacy


Jerry Brown is shown in a photograph which is featured above his pottery in the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

(Writer’s note: Sandra Brown and the late-Jerry Brown were featured in the Alabama NewsCenter’s “Alabama Makers” section on Monday, July 15. The article featured a gallery of photos and a short video. The Journal Record is running the article by courtesy of Alabama Power. SJ)

Alabama Power pulling payment service from Hackleburg

HACKLEBURG - Hackleburg residents will no longer have the ability to make payments to Alabama Power at the town hall after Wednesday, August 31.

Alabama Power, who recently made the decision to shut down its Hamilton location, has now made the decision to pull its payment service from the Hackleburg Town Hall building in downtown.
While the service is being removed from the building, individuals will still be able to make payments online and through other authorized stores.

 

Five arrested after hotel drug discovery

WINFIELD- Five people were arrested on numerous drug possession charges after a hotel maintenance man discovered two people asleep in a Hampton Inn hotel room on Monday, July 15.
Winfield Police Chief Brett Burleson said hotel management contacted police after two people were discovered asleep in a room they should not have been in.
“They had paid for one room and had told the front desk that the air conditioner wasn’t working,” Burleson said. “So the hotel gave them another room and they just kept both rooms and had them a little party in both rooms.”

City announces reception for art exhibit

HAMILTON - City officials have  announced an opening reception for the “Alabama Then & Now 1819-2019 Traveling Bicentennial Art Exhibition,” which will be stationed at Hamilton City Hall beginning Thursday, Aug. 1.
The opening reception will take place at city hall on Friday, Aug. 2, from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m., where artists from around the state will be demonstrating  “en plein air” (in plain air, or outdoor) painting  at the historic Ernest Baxter Fite House built in 1927-1928.

Council hires two police officers, approves promotions


Winfield Police Chief Brett Burleson asks the council to approve hires at the Tuesday, July 16, Winfield City Council meeting.

WINFIELD - At the recommendation of Winfield Police Chief Brett Burleson, the Winfield City Council voted to hire two new police officers at its Tuesday, July 16, meeting.
Burleson appeared before the council to request the hires, along with some promotions within the department.

Catfish, bass labeled hazardous

MARION COUNTY -  Individuals who have enjoyed fishing for Channel Catfish and Largemouth Bass in Bear Creek’s upper reservoir located in Marion County have been warned of chemical contamination by the Alabama Department of Public Health.
Channel Catfish has been deemed safe to eat as a meal only once every month, while Largemouth Bass has been deemed unsafe to consume entirely at this time.

Slatton hires Hulsey for investigator vacancy


25th Judicial District Attorney Scott Slatton (left) and Investigator Rusty Hulsey are seen here outside the Marion County Courthouse in Hamilton on Tuesday, July 23.

HAMILTON - 25th Judicial District Attorney Scott Slatton has announced that the chief investigator position left vacant since 2016 has now been filled.
Lt. Rusty Hulsey, formerly the chief investigator at the Winfield Police Department, has been hired to fill the position.
The position has been vacant since 2016 when Gov. Kay Ivey appointed the former 25th Judicial chief investigator Tommy Moore as sheriff of Winston County.
Slatton said having no chief investigator in his office has hindered his ability to investigate cases.

 

Region sees uptick in unemployment numbers

MONTGOMERY -Marion County’s unemployment rate ticked up six percentage points to 4% from May’s record low of 3.4% according to data released by the Alabama Department of Labor.
In May, only 440 people of an available labor force numbering 12,857 were looking for jobs as compared to June when 515 people in Marion County were looking for work. The labor force is the number of people aged 16 and over who are either working or looking for work.

Chronic Pain, part 2: The disease

HAMILTON - Newton’s third law of motion states that, “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” According to Dr. Brent Boyett, the chief medical officer of Pathway Healthcare, the same rule applies to drugs. The disease of addiction Boyett describes addiction as a chronic disease that effects the pleasure/pain center of the brain. He said that pain and pleasure dictate everything we do. According to Boyett, the feelings of pain and pleasure are critical in survival.

Habitat for Humanity builds 20th house


Shemale Archie and her daughter, Ny’Kenzie Nalls, is pictured here outside their home that is under construction in Twin on Saturday, July 13.

TWIN - Some places become known for good things and some places become known for great things. Through the Habitat for Humanity of Northwest Alabama, Marion County is becoming known for kindness and hospitality.
This year, the local Habitat chapter is celebrating it’s 20th home-build and college students from across the nation have been trekking to Twin since February to experience the hospitality and to also make the dream of owning a home a reality for a Winfield family.

New DEA data reveals Marion Co. supplied 23M pain pills from ‘06-‘12

According to newly-released data from 2006-2012, Marion County recorded the second-highest opioid prescription rate in Alabama with an average of 108 pills prescribed per resident.
Marion County comes second only to neighboring Walker County, which saw an average of 140 pills prescribed per person.
From 2006-2012, Marion County was supplied 23.1 million prescription pain pills. Walker County was supplied 66.4 million.

Ivey awards grants to help young victims

MONTGOMERY -  Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has awarded a $378,605 grant to assist a non-profit organization that helps children in Marion and Walker counties who are victims of abuse or who have witnessed violence.
The Walker County Children’s Advocacy Center will use the grant funds to continue providing forensic interviews, therapy and advocacy to victims of sexual or physical abuse and their families at no cost.
“Victims of these horrible crimes should have access to help specifically tailored to fit their needs,” said Ivey.

Funding Community Action Agency

HAMILTON - The Marion County Commission unanimously voted to fund the Marion-Winston Community Action Agency (MWCAA) with around $12,000 to pay for rent and mortgage assistance and to supplement its food program during a regular meeting on Monday, July 15, in Hamilton.
According to Jeff Fleming head of the MWCAA, this funding is known as the Phase 36 funding plan.
“I appreciate the commission for the support,” said Fleming.

Council votes to refinance bond issue

HAMILTON - The Hamilton City Council voted to begin plans to refinance the city’s 2014 bond issue payments at its Monday, July 1 meeting.
The new payment plan would be adjusted to take advantage lower interest rates compared to when the bond account was opened in 2014.
The 2014 bond issue, which totalled $11,320,547.82, was used for several projects; such as purchasing new fire trucks, building the Hamilton Splash Pad, and purchasing the current city hall building.

Hamilton Back-to-School cleanup set for Aug. 10

HAMILTON - Hamilton residents are organizing a back-to-school cleanup bash to help kick off classes going back in session.
Volunteers will meet at the Hamilton High School football field parking lot on Saturday, Aug. 10, at 7 a.m. to organize into groups and begin work.
Marion County Schools held their first day back in school on Wednesday, Aug. 7.
Event organizer Tyler Knight requested volunteers bring hedge trimmers, weed eaters, pressure washers, rakes and gloves.

 

Fuel costs 12 cents less than last year


Amanda Emerson of Hamilton fills up on Wednesday, July 17, at the Junior Food Mart-Shell in Hamilton, where prices were $2.39 per gallon—4 cents lower than the daily statewide average.

Despite tensions with Iran, Hurricane Barry and the summer travel season, gas prices in Alabama have remained low.
According to Clay Ingram, a spokesperson for the American Automobile Association (AAA) in Birmingham, low global demand for gas— combined with large amounts of domestic production—have insulated prices at the pump.
Ingram told the Journal Record at the time of the interview (Wednesday, July 17) gas prices in Alabama were averaging $2.43 statewide. This is 10 cents more than one month ago ($2.30), but 12 cents less than one year ago ($2.55).

Four accused of burning charity-funded home for insurance payout

WINFIELD - Two homeowners and two other suspects are accused of intentionally burning a Habitat for Humanity-funded home for an insurance payout.
The Alabama Fire Marshal’s Office announced on social media on Tuesday, July 9, that homeowners Jonathan Casey Morgan, 32, and Sydni Roshele Morgan, 32, both of Winfield, were arrested following indictments handed down by the Marion County Grand Jury on June 11 for the burning of the Morgan’s home in February 2018.

Real Chapel CME celebrates 100 years in Guin


Michael McCollum gives a history of the Real Chapel CME Church during a special service on Sunday, June 30.

GUIN - One-hundred years ago, a group of people began holding church services in a barn along Purgatory Creek south of Guin.
What they started continues to this day as the Real Chapel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, a church that is now located just up the hill from that same spot.
“This church is full of history and I am proud to be a member of Real Chapel,” said chairman of stewards Michael McCollum during the church’s 100th anniversary celebration on Sunday, June 30.

BSCC gets largest performance-based increase

MONTGOMERY - Bevill State Community College’s (BSCC) will receive the largest performance-based funding increase among the state’s 23 community colleges.
The Alabama Community College System (ACCS) Board of Trustees approved a $320.6-million operation and maintenance budget at its board meeting on Wednesday, July 10, in Montgomery—a $19.3 million boost from the previous year.

322 enrolled in summer courses

HAMILTON - There were 322 students enrolled at Bevill State Community College (BSCC)-Hamilton Campus during the summer months.
According to a report published  by BSCC on Monday, July 1, on its website, there were 2,471 enrolled  in BSCC systemwide during the 2019 Summer Semester, producing 17,119 credit hours for the college.
This includes 467 dual enrollment  (high school) students who registered.
BSCC enrollment counts students online and on its campuses in Hamilton, Fayette, Jasper, Carrollton and Sumiton.

 

Mitchell’s charges dismissed

HAMILTON - Rape and sodomy charges have been dismissed for a Hamilton man.
On Thursday, June 3, 25th Judicial Circuit Judge Lee Carter dismissed charges  against 21-year-old Denzel Mitchell, who had been accused of rape and sodomy.
 Those charges were dismissed following a hand- written letter filed in court in March by the alleged victim, who wrote on a piece of notebook paper, “I do not want to pursue the case.”
The girl who pressed charges against Mitchell will remain unnamed as she was under the age of 18 when the incident occurred.

Fred’s to close Guin location, 11 other stores in Alabama

GUIN - The discount merchandise store Fred’s announced that it will be closing the Guin store along with 129 other stores across the nation, including 11 other stores across Alabama.
Liquidation sales have already begun at the stores to be closed.
"While it is never easy to make decisions that impact our valued employees and customers, this initiative represents another necessary step in our continued efforts to stabilize our business by simplifying our store portfolio and product assortment," Fred's Chief Executive Officer Joseph Anto said in a statement.

Sales tax holiday set for end of July

MARION COUNTY - Alabama’s annual Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday is coming up on Friday through Sunday, July 19 through the 21.
Shoppers will be able to purchase clothing, school supplies, books and computers without having to pay state and local sales tax on items under a certain cost.
Items exempt from sales tax include:
•    Clothing items that cost no more than $100 each (this excludes items like sports gear and jewelry)

 

$500 fine, potential jail time for illegal dumping

IMAGE TAG HERE

HACKLEBURG -  The Hackleburg Town Council approved and signed a local ordinance that will allow the town to punish those who illegally dump into the Hackleburg sewage system during a regular meeting on Monday, July 8, in Hackleburg.
During a regular meeting in May, Tyler McKeller with the sewer treatment plant told the council that there was suspected illegal tapping and dumping into the sewage system in the town.

Funds a major concern for new county jail

HAMILTON -  Marion County Commissioners Kenneth Cochran, Tim Estes and Bobby Burleson, along with 25th Judicial Circuit Court Judge Daryl Burt met with Marion County Sheriff Kevin Williams and PH&J Principal Architects Patrick T. Addison and Renis Jones to discuss the ongoing Marion County Jail project on Thursday, June 27, at the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.
Jones began the meeting by expressing his belief that Marion County is in great need of a new jail building, as the current jail does not meet the needs of the county.

Council discusses new jail, Pledge and prayer

HAMILTON - The Hamilton City Council discussed the possibility of a new jail facility for the county during its Wednesday, July 10 work session.
The county commission is ready to move forward with plans for a new jail facility, which would likely include a court complex.
“What judicial system?” asked councilwoman Tammy Lewis Williams. “Are we talking about moving the court from the courthouse?”
“That’s what’s in discussion,” said city attorney Scott Hunt. “That’s not a firm decision, so it’s not ironclad.”

 

County to apply for DA, Drug Task Force grants

HAMILTON -  The Marion County Commission unanimously approved  two grant applications for the 25th Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s office and the Drug Task Force during the regular meeting on Monday, July 8, in Hamilton.
The grant for the District Attorney’s office will go toward the salary and operating expenses for the assistant D.A. who handles domestic violence cases.
The grant for the drug task force will be used for payroll and various equipment and administrative costs.

 

NWA, JR named ‘Most Improved’ newspapers


The Journal Record’s editorial staff received two second-place statewide awards in “Most Improved” and “Best Local News Coverage” categories in the 2019 Alabama Press Association Media Awards contest. Shown are (from left) staff writer and photographer Michael E. Palmer, news editor Scott Johnson, staff writer Louis Mellini and managing editor Matthew Puckett.

HAYLEYVILLE - Two newspapers owned by Haleyville-based Mid-South Newspapers— the Northwest Alabamian and the  Journal Record—were recognized as being the most improved publications statewide.­
(Mid-South Newspapers also owns the Fayette County newspaper, the Times-Record, and the Pickens County Herald in Carrollton.)
The Alabama Press Association (APA) held its summer convention on Saturday, June 29, at the Perdido Beach Resort in Orange Beach, where the winners of the 2019 APA Media Awards (AMA) contest were announced.

Council discusses plans for old city hall

HAMILTON - The Hamilton City Council discussed options for the old city hall building during its work session on Wednesday, June 26.
The old city hall currently serves as the police station and will soon house a West Alabama TV Cable office on July 25.
The building, located at 422 2nd St. SW, across from Hamilton High School, has seen better days, according to the city council.

 

Guin votes to stay in C3

GUIN - The Guin City Council voted unanimously to remain in the C3 Economic Development Alliance (EDA) of Northwest Alabama during its Monday, July 1, meeting.
The C3 is a marketing alliance of three counties—Marion, Fayette and Lamar counties—and certain towns within those counties, that markets the region to businesses and industries looking to locate or relocate.
Guin Mayor Max Maddox opened the discussion by noting that the council voted to pay the $10,000 membership dues in 2017 and 2018.
Councilman Bobby Bellew made a motion to pay the dues.

Official closing date set July 31

HAMILTON - Officials with Alabama Power have announced that the Hamilton business office’s closing date has been set for Wednesday, July 31.
Initially, information released by the power company only said the Hamilton office would be closed by Aug. 30.
Tuscaloosa-based Alabama Power Western Division Public Relations officer Danielle Kimbrough confirmed with the Journal Record on Monday, July 1, that the July 31 closing date had been decided upon.

Airport receives $400,000 grant

HAMILTON - The Marion County-Rankin Fite Airport in Hamilton will receive $474,166 as a part of the state-wide $9.7 million Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grants awarded by the Department of Transportation.
The grant will go towards construction of the taxiway at the airport which is located on Airport Rd off of Military St South in Hamilton.
U.S. Senator Richard Shelby made the announcement on Tuesday, July 2, stating that the grants will significantly aid development projects in local airports across the state.

 

Tour coming to Hamilton City Hall Aug. 1-Sept. 23


Alabama Plein Air Artist Director Sharon Gates paints during an open air session in Gulf Shores.

HAMILTON - The “Alabama Then & Now 1819-2019” art exhibit by the Alabama Plein Air Artist will be stationed in Hamilton beginning next month in celebration of Alabama’s Bicentennial year.
The artists will be displaying their “Alabama Then & Now” collection which is a commemorative and educational art exhibition of 30 original paintings.
The exhibit will be hosted in the Hamilton City Hall lobby area from Aug. 1 - Sept. 23.

New law requires notices for Medicaid estate recovery

HAMILTON -  Alabama Medicaid will likely increase recovery claims against estates.
A new law will require estate  claim notices be mailed directly to Medicaid in a measure which Alabama lawmakers hope will better enable the state agency to recover healthcare funds spent on individuals.
Marion County Probate Judge Paige Vick told the Journal Record that under the new law passed during the 2019 Legislative Session, estate claims opened after Sept. 1 of this year will be required to mail notices to the state Medicaid agency.

First Fridays returns Aug. 2


The Yellow Hammers performed during the Hamilton Area Chamber of Commerce’s First Fridays event held on Friday, May 3, in downtown Hamilton. Shown performing are (from left) Conner Nix, Colby Nix and Cody Bass.

HAMILTON - The Hamilton Area Chamber of Commerce will be hosting its final “First Fridays” downtown shopping event on Friday, Aug. 2.
The chamber’s final First Friday’s event was originally scheduled for Friday, June 7. However, it was cancelled due to rainy weather.
The final summer event will take place from 7-9 p.m. with local and satellite vendors setting up booths lining the city square and downtown businesses extending their usual hours to host shoppers.

Frustrations arise amid new gas tax setup

HAMILTON -  The Marion County Commission voted 3-2 in favor of reallocating funds received from gas taxes after a heated debate during its regular session meeting on Monday, June 24, at the commission office in Hamilton.
Before the reallocation was approved, each of the five districts were receiving an even 20% each, a motion approved in 1971. The new reallocation changes that — Districts 1, 2 and 3 will receive 22% and Districts 4 and 5 will receive 17%.

Four injured in two-vehicle wreck


Emergency personnel tend to an injured victim after a two vehicle wreck on Highway 129 in Winfield on Monday, June 17.

WINFIELD - Two people remain in critical condition at North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo, Miss., after a two-vehicle wreck at 2 p.m. on Highway 129 at Marion County Road 38 in Winfield on Monday, June 17. 
According to information released by the Winfield Police Department, Gregory Monroe Bourland, Brilliant, driving a green 2007 Chevrolet Uplander van, was pulling out of the Cedar Landing Restaurant parking lot when the vehicle was struck by a 1998 Mercury Mountaineer driven by Denita Monique McCollum, Fayette County. 

Local deer farmers seek more research into CWD


Deer farmers Brock Palmer (left) and Kevin Armstrong are seen here at Armstrong’s deer farm on Tuesday, June 25.

HAMILTON - When most outdoorsmen think of the fall hunting season, they think of pleasant days spent in the woods hunting with friends and family. But for a few local deer farmers, the upcoming hunting season brings fear and trepidation and thoughts of the destruction of their livelihood.
“It’s scary, it really is scary,” said deer farmer Kevin Armstrong.  

North Fork Creek Bridge project complete


The new bridge over Northfork Creek between Hackleburg and Hamilton is now open to traffic, rendering travel somewhat safer. The original bridge was built in 1931 and reconstructed in 1982. Over the years a number of deaths resulted from the traffic accidents that officials attributed to the terrain and design of the old bridge. The new bridge is wider and straighter. For a comlete story see page 6A.

HACKLEBURG -  The project to make the journey to and from Hackleburg safer and easier is now coming to an end.
After a slight delay, W.S. Neal of Montgomery, who was awarded the building contract in April 2018, has completed the bridge running over North Fork Creek.

Education tax drops for second month

HAMILTON - Marion County’s sales tax for education has now tracked its second month in lower collections.
Marion County Superintendent of Education Ann West told the Marion County Board of Education during its meeting on Tuesday, June 11, that the county collected $129,983 in May—$4,0734 less than the previous year.
“For some reason, we were down again,” West said.
The collection was $18,000 lower than the April tax collection, when $148,082 was recorded. April also recorded lagging sales tax figures.