First steps toward a new jail

Marion County sheriff Kevin Williams (standing) speaks to members of the commission on Monday, Feb. 4 during a special called meeting. Pictured are (seated, from left) Dale Holt, Bob Burleson, Kenneth Cochran and Keith Nichols. Not pictured is Tim “Ears” Estes.

HAMILTON - Over the past few weeks, a parade of architects, designers and consultants hoping to win a contract to build a new jail in Marion County have presented themselves to Marion County Sheriff Kevin Williams and the Marion County Commission.
Representatives from such architectural and design firms as Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood, PH&J Architects, Volkert, Inc. and Hamilton architect Andrea Harbison have all made presentations to the commission.

County, city school officials take a stand against AAA

The Marion County Board of Education and Winfield Board of Education have joined school districts across the state in calling for the repeal of the controversial Alabama Accountability Act (AAA).
Marion County school board members unanimously adopted a resolution at its meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 12, calling for lawmakers to repeal the act in the upcoming 2019 session, which begins on Tuesday, March 5.
The Winfield Board of Education also approved a resolution recommending Legislators repeal the AAA at its Wednesday, Feb. 13, meeting.

 

County offices see new, returning faces

(Editor’s note: This is Part 2 of 2 stories for the swearing in of county officials. See our last paper on Wednesday, Feb. 13, for Part 1.)
County officers elected during the 2018 election cycle have all taken their turn in raising their right hand and have sworn to serve the people.
The new and returning officers all officially assumed their positions on Tuesday, Jan. 15, not including the elected Marion County Board of Education members, who took their seats in December.

 

Bussler JBAF’s 2019 featured artist

The Northwest Alabama Arts Council has announced that Christine Bussler, an artist from Fayetteville, Tenn., has been selected as the featured artist for this year’s JBAF. Her artwork will be featured on the 2019 commemorative T-shirt. Bussler, who is a self-taught painter, is returning to the JBAF for the fifth time.

HAMILTON - Commemorative T-shirts for the 17th Annual Jerry Brown Arts Festival (JBAF) are now on sale.
The annual JBAF is set for Saturday and Sunday, March 2 and 3, in south Hamilton at the spacious Tombigbee Electric Cooperative facility. Admission is, as always, free and hours are Saturday from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. The event is sponsored by the Hamilton-based Northwest Alabama Arts Council.

Superintendents, Estes not in favor of charter schools’ use of public monies

Both public school systems in Marion County have gone on the record recommending the repeal of the Alabama Accountability Act (AAA).
With the Marion County School System approving its resolution on Wednesday, Jan. 23, and the Winfield City School System following with the same on Wednesday, Feb. 13, leaders of the two school systems left no doubt where they stand. Nor did newly-elected District 17 State Rep. Tracy Estes.

 

Vick hires same staff

HAMILTON - Marion County has split ways with Monroe County in south Alabama and is no longer one of two counties in Alabama using a fee model to operate its probate judge’s office.
Special legislation passed in 2017 has now taken effect in January 2019, ordering the Marion County Commission to furnish the local probate judge and office staff with paychecks and benefit packages through the county’s General Fund.

Preparations in full swing for JBAF

HAMILTON - Gears are beginning to turn in preparation for the 17th Annual Jerry Brown Arts Festival which will be taking place on Saturday and Sunday, March 2 and 3.
In its normal fashion, the Hamilton City Council voted to waive the city’s business license requirement for vendors at the festival this year at its meeting on Monday, Feb. 4. The artist will still be required to pay city and state sales taxes.
Northwest Alabama Arts Council President Tony Williams approached the council during the meeting, noting that the event is a hallmark for the city.

Officers awarded medal of valor

Sgt. Marcus Carroll (left) and Officer Jimmy Galbreath (right) were awarded the Medal of Valor for their actions after an automobile wreck on Dec. 4, 2018. They are pictured here with Winfield police chief Brett Burleson on Wednesday, Feb. 13.

WINFIELD - Two members of the Winfield Police Department were awarded the Medal of Valor for saving a wreck victim’s life last December.
Sgt. Marcus Carroll and Officer Jimmy Galbreath both entered a burning vehicle to free the unconscious driver from the wreckage.

‘Happy to have found Hamilton’

Love’s Travel Stop & Country Store Real Estate Project Manager William Gleason appeared before the Hamilton City Council during its Monday, Jan. 22, meeting to discuss a new truck stop which will be built on Interstate 22’s Exit 14.

HAMILTON - Love’s loves Hamilton.
In the wake of the announcement of a new Love’s Travel Stop & Country Store to be built in Hamilton, Love’s real estate project manager, William Gleason of Oklahoma City, Okla., appeared at the Hamilton City  Council’s meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 22.

According to Hamilton Mayor Bob Page, Love’s is planning to purchase 20 acres on River Road Drive, right off of Interstate 22’s Exit 14, for a large truck stop.

 

Partnership results in 50 automotive scholarships

MONTGOMERY - Fifty automotive scholarships are up for grabs.
Alabama Community College System (ACCS) Chancellor Jimmy Baker announced on Thursday, Jan. 31, that  the ACCS and the Alabama Automotive Manufacturers Association (AAMA) have partnered together and are giving away 50 scholarships to students who want to pursue a career in the automotive industry. The deadline to apply is Thursday, Feb. 28.

TripAdvisor rates Hampton Inn Winfield best in state

Number one in the state
The Hampton Inn in Winfield has been rated the number one hotel in the state of Alabama by TripAdvisor in 2018.

WINFIELD -  The Hampton Inn in Winfield has been ranked as the number one hotel in the state of Alabama in 2018 by TripAdvisor.  The award is given based on guest scores received through TripAdvisor.com.  
The hotel opened in February, 2011 and, for six out of the last seven years, has received Hampton Inn’s Lighthouse award for being in the top 5 percent of all hotels in the company. Hampton Inn in Winfield has  also received a Certificate of Excellence award from TripAdvisor every year since the location opened in 2011.  

Count of homeless taken in Marion, Winston counties

HAMILTON - The Marion-Winston Community Action Agency (MWCAA) conducted a Point-in-Time (PIT) count  on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019.
The PIT count determines the number of sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons on a single night in January and helps the two counties receive funding towards resources and support for the homeless in the area.

Over $10,000 raised for charity

HAMILTON -  Paul Davis, an organizer for the Salvation Army Red Kettle campaign in Marion County, has extended his heartfelt thanks to the city of Hamilton and Marion County for volunteering their time and efforts during the holiday season of 2018.  
“From Nov. 23 to Dec. 23 of 2018, several dozen of your friends and neighbors stood in front of the Walmart Supercenter in Hamilton next to a red kettle ringing a little red bell in support of the Salvation Army,” said Davis.

Volunteers desperately needed in Marion Co.

Foster Grandparent Project Director Jessica Latham and coordinator Rena Prince are desperately seeking more volunteers for the program for the upcoming school year.
“We are needing volunteers in all the schools,” Prince said. “We are wanting interested persons to call us now at (256) 332-6800 so they have time to get their applications in and get trained before school begins.”
Schools on the waiting list for volunteers include Brilliant, Guin, Hackleburg, Hamilton and Winfield.

 

Obituaries

Audrey Laverne Fikes

Audrey Laverne Fikes, 83, Hamilton, passed away on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019. 
Funeral services were held on Saturday, Feb. 9. 
Hamilton Funeral Home • Hamilton, ala.

Mary Magalene Nix Green

AEA...dead or not?

Flowers
Steve Flowers

The Alabama Education Association (AEA) was the most powerful and influential political organization in Alabama for close to three decades. The late Dr. Paul Hubbert was the builder and king of this powerful organization.

Long-time officials take oaths once again

Marion County Sheriff Kevin Williams was sworn into office for a record sixth time on Wednesday, Jan. 9, at the Marion County Jail in Hamilton. With Williams’ wife, Renee, and their granddaughter, Cara, 4, the daughter of Carl and Lacy Williams, holding the Bible, the sheriff was sworn into office by the official who has performed the ceremony every time since his first swearing-in ceremony in 2003 on his behalf, retired Marion County Judge of Probate Annette Bozeman Haney.

HAMILTON- Two long-time county officials have taken their oaths once again to serve the people.
Marion County Commissioner District 5 (D-5) Bob Burleson and Marion County Sheriff Kevin Williams are now the longest serving individuals for their respective capacities.
Marion County commissioners Keith Nichols (D-1) Kenneth Cochran (D-2), Dale Holt (D-3), Tim “Ears” Estes (D-4) and Burleson were all seated after taking oaths at a ceremony on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018.

 

Jones emphasizes Census 2020 participation

Scott johnson/staff
Northwest Alabama Council of Local Governments (NACOLG) Planning and Transportation Director Jesse Turner told the Marion County Commission that the regional agency has found than $10 million in additional funding for Northwest Alabama while confirming addresses for the Census Bureau in preparations for the 2020 Census. Turner said that every counted individual equates to about $1,600 in grant money an area can claim.

HAMILTON - Marion County residents should be readying themselves to participate in the upcoming Census.
Local officials are already being briefed on the vital and rapidly approaching decennial Census in 2020, which will determine the amount of funding and congressional representation Alabama can lay claim to for the next 10 years.

Fifth month for record sales tax; West credits shopping local to swelling tax figures

January was School Board Recognition Month and area principals appeared at the Marion County Board of Education’s January board meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 23, with student-made cards and gifts to thank the local education officials. “I think we have an excellent board and I’m grateful for each one of you and what you do for our students,” said Marion County Superintendent of Education Ann West. Marion County District 2 (D-2) Board Member Joyce Fowler (left) is shown receiving students’ gifts from Guin Elementary School Principal Josh Weatherly (front, right). Also shown is D-4 member “Coach” Don Jones (center) and D-3 member Daryl Weatherly.

HAMILTON - December 2018 saw the most sales tax for education on record collected for the month of December.
Marion County Superintendent of Education Ann West told the Marion County Board of Education during its meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 23, that sales tax for December 2018 collected nearly $20,000 more than the previous year.
This marks the fifth-consecutive month of record-breaking collections for the county school system.
“Sales tax in December was fantastic,” West said. “I believe that this is because a lot of people did their shopping at home this year.”

‘Happy to have found Hamilton’ n Love’s official speaks to council

HAMILTON - Love’s loves Hamilton.
In the wake of the announcement of a new Love’s Travel Stop & Country Store to be built in Hamilton, Love’s real estate project manager, William Gleason of Oklahoma City, Okla., appeared at the Hamilton City  Council’s meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 22.
According to Hamilton Mayor Bob Page, Love’s is planning to purchase 20 acres on River Road Drive, right off of Interstate 22’s Exit 14, for a large truck stop.
The City of Hamilton owns a three-acre plot of land at the site.

Housing funds awarded for NW AL

hamilton - Gov. Kay Ivey has awarded a $275,000 grant to help homeless citizens in Northwest Alabama find immediate housing and to assist others who are in danger of becoming homeless.
Ivey announced the grant funding on Wednesday, Dec. 26, which is a portion of a larger $2.5 million distribution to 14 government and community agencies. The funds are  from the Emergency Solutions Grant program, whose funds are available through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Jobless rate up slightly in county, more jobs added across the state

HAMILTON -  Marion County’s unemployment rate ticked up slightly from 3.8 percent in November 2018 to 4.1 percent in December. Though slightly up, the number marks the end of a downward trend that began in January 2018 when the rate was at 7.6 percent.
In December, 510 people in the county were unemployed, up from the 482 in November. In December 2017, 448 people in the county were unemployed.

Vick hires same staff; Commission implements probate office changes

HAMILTON - Marion County has split ways with Monroe County in south Alabama and is no longer one of two counties in Alabama using a fee model to operate its probate judge’s office.
Special legislation passed in 2017 has now taken effect in January 2019, ordering the Marion County Commission to furnish the local probate judge and office staff with paychecks and benefit packages through the county’s General Fund.
Up until now, the probate office has been funded by fee revenues collected from services provided by the probate judge. This was known as the “fee system.”