Hamilton’s man from down under

Brett Rayner

By Louis Mellini
Staff writer
HAMILTON — While the City of Hamilton isn’t a bustling metropolis that rivals that of New York, featuring a host of residents from all over the globe, Hamilton has had it’s own group of new residents from far off countries who have made the city their home.
Whether it’s a church or a dart hitting Hamilton on a map, people from all over seem to find their way to Hamilton and put down their roots to be a part of the community.

Winfield prepares 2023 city budget

By Luke Brantley
Staff writer
WINFIELD — The Winfield City Council will be voting on the city’s fiscal year 2023 budget in an upcoming meeting during the month of October.
The council discussed the budget during its last meeting for September on the Sept. 20. The council discussed aspects of the budget, but a few items were still being planned and subject to change within the next few weeks.
The council planned to have a work session yesterday, Sept. 27, but it was canceled when a quorum could not be reached on that date.

One big step for the Marion County Jail

Andrew Jackson, president of WAR Construction, is shown opening a bid package during a Marion County Commission bid opening for the new Marion County Jail in Hamilton.

By Louis Mellini
Staff writer
HAMILTON — The new Marion County Jail in Hamilton is a giant step closer to having a price tag on it after bids were opened for the project on Thursday, Sept. 22, at the commission office in Hamilton.
Many were present during the bid opening, including Marion County Sheriff Kevin Williams, who has been waiting desperately for the new building to be completed.

Yielding involved in second murder and suicide

Chris Yielding

By Louis Mellini
Staff writer
HAMILTON — Two Hamilton residents died after a murder and suicide shooting involving a murder suspect who was out on bail.
Chris Yielding, 43, and his father, Charles Yielding, 80, were reported dead to emergency dispatchers by Chris Yielding’s mother on Monday, Sept. 19, at 3:15 a.m.
Yielding was arrested in August of 2020 for the murder of his partner Mandy Dozier and was released from the Marion County Jail in Hamilton on Jan. 25, 2022, on a bond amount of $506,000.

Hamilton happy with new trail

Council members look over plans for the track facility at old Munsingwear property.

By Louis Mellini
Staff writer
HAMILTON — Hamilton’s new Nature Trail and cross country track area have been getting new visitors and has been a hit with local residents.
During a work session meeting last week, Hamilton City Council members discussed the new success the city has had in bringing visitors to their newly updated nature trail at the old Munsingware property.

ADEM approves Brilliant water project

By Luke Brantley
Staff writer
BRILLIANT — Alabama district 17 representative Tracy Estes announced in a Facebook post on September 3 that the Alabama Department of Environmental Management approved a $1.94 million water system improvement project for the town.
Mayor Perry Franks said the project will allow the town to drill a new well for a better water source.

 

School test scores revealing in core subjects

The top three schools in overall English/Language Arts are Guin (72.6 percent), Winfield (72.1 percent) and Hamilton (65.1 percent) elementary schools.

By P.J. Gossett
General Manager
MARION COUNTY — Standardized test scores have been released for the 2021-2022 school year for the entire state regarding public schools. Students took the Alabama Comprehensive Assessment Program, along with the college-entry ACT test. The data is available online for each school or for comparison to other schools or districts.

No arrest made in Bear Creek shooting

By Louis Mellini
Staff writer
BEAR CREEK —Marion County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to a shooting that took place on County Road 99 in Bear Creek on Monday, Sept. 12, at 5:30 p.m.
County Deputies responded to a domestic violence incident that had allegedly taken place.
When deputies arrived,  James Anthony Sparks, was deceased from a single gunshot wound to the chest, according to Marion County Sheriff Kevin Williams.

West selected as District 7 superintendent finalist

Marion County Schools Superintendent Ann West

By Louis Mellini
Staff writer
HAMILTON — Marion County Schools Superintendent of Education Ann West was selected as the School Superintendents of Alabama Superintendent finalist for District 7.
There are nine districts statewide, and each district has a finalist for the Alabama 2023 State Superintendent of the Year.  
“I am certainly honored to have been chosen to represent District 7 as a finalist for the Alabama 2023 Superintendent of the Year,” said West.

Winfield discusses lack of storm shelters

The above picture was taken in the immediate aftermath of the EF1 tornado that touched down in downtown Winfield on Wednesday night, Dec. 29, 2021.

By Luke Brantley
Staff writer
WINFIELD — The Winfield City Council discussed the issue of a lack of storm shelters and storm shelter space in the city of Winfield during its regular meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 6.
During a time to discuss old business, council member Keith Pollard raised a question surrounding access to a storm shelter on the east side of town that is located behind a locked gate on Tiffin Motorhome property.

Sheriff faces burden of old jail

Pictured is the Marion County Jail in Hamilton, which has remained unchanged since its construction in the 1970s.

By Louis Mellini
Staff writer
HAMILTON — Marion County Sheriff Kevin Williams has his hands full as jailer turnover has been high and jail construction is revving up.
“The issue I’ve got is that jailers are underpaid, in my opinion,” said Williams. “People are leaving the job for other jobs that pay a lot more.”
Williams stated that top-out pay for jailers lands at $14.56 per hour.
“The jailer’s job is not a strenuous job, it’s not a manual (labor) job, but it is very stressful,” said Williams.

Political leaders speak out about loan forgiveness

David Hall

By Louis Mellini
Staff writer
MARION COUNTY — President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and the U.S. Department of Education have announced a three-part plan that aims to help working and middle-class federal student loan borrowers transition back to regular payment as pandemic-related support expires. This plan includes loan forgiveness of up to $20,000.
The Journal Record reached out to local political leaders to ask their input on the new plans by the Biden-Harris Administration.

Hackleburg considers dedicated EMS for area

Hackleburg is considering their options for a dedicated ambulance service.

By Louis Mellini
Staff writer
HACKLEBURG — The Town of Hackleburg may soon be looking to have its own dedicated ambulance service serving the area. Mayor Darryl Colburn spoke with the Journal Record, stating that, while no official discussions have taken place, the town is considering looking at options to better emergency services for residents in the northside of Marion County.

Buttahatchee River Fest set

By Louis Mellini
Staff writer
HAMILTON — The City of Hamilton is gearing up yet again for the 16th annual Buttahatchee River Fall Fest in downtown Hamilton. This year’s event will take place on Saturday, October 29.
“We’re trying to make the event bigger and better this year than ever before,” said Hamilton Mayor Bob Page. “We’re bringing back the tractor show and some other attractions that have been missing for a while.”
The event will feature music, arts and crafts, games and a variety of vendors during the festival.

Winfield City Schools accept $1 million SITEL renovation bid

K&A Construction of Tuscaloosa wins $1 million bid for renovating the old SITEL building for the Winfield City Board of Education.

By Luke Brantley
Staff writer
WINFIELD — The Winfield City Board of Education voted to approve a $1,025,400 bid from K&A Construction out of Tuscaloosa to renovate the old SITEL building.
The new renovations will convert the old office space into a new board office, along with several classroom spaces for new career tech programs the school is planning to introduce, such as health sciences, cosmetology and public law and safety.

James Spann holds book signing event

James Spann, meteorologist, signs a copy of his latest book. Spann came to Winfield Aug. 20, on a book signing tour.

By Luke Brantley
Staff writer
WINFIELD — People gathered in Aromas Café in downtown Winfield on Saturday, Aug. 20, to “respect the polygon” and meet James Spann, the famed ABC 33-40 weatherman.
Spann met with people from Winfield and the surrounding area, exchanging jokes and stories about weather events and many other subjects, as well as signing copies of his books.

New EMS replaces RPS as ambulance service

Marion County Emergency Medical Services will now be covering portions of Marion County.

By Louis Mellini
Staff writer
HAMILTON — This week marks the start of Northstar Paramedic Service’s work in Hamilton.
Northstar will be acting as the Marion County Emergency Medical Service, replacing the former Hamilton EMS Regional Paramedical Services.
According to Hamilton Mayor Bob Page, the city was not satisfied with the time it took for ambulance services to respond.

Cochran pleads guilty in Christmas shooting

Christopher Cochran

By Louis Mellini
Staff writer
HAMILTON — On Friday, August 26, Christopher Andrew Cochran appeared before 25th Circuit Judge Daryl Burt and entered a plea of guilty to the charge of manslaughter in connection with the Christmas Day 2018 shooting that took the life of Lorenzo Jose "Joe" Garcia.
Cochran, who was 29 at the time of the shooting, allegedly shot and killed Garcia, 48, on  Christmas day during a child custody exchange at the Hamilton Police Department.

Refereeing shortage becoming a major issue

Sports officials are facing a major shortage this year affecting the entire country.

By Louis Mellini
Staff writer
Being a sports official isn’t the most glamorous of jobs.
Officials have to make the tough calls in the biggest games, and, in doing so, could end up ruffling quite a few feathers of coaches, players and parents.
Perhaps due to the bad reactions that officials get from time to time, sports referees have been harder to come by in recent years, not just in Marion County, but throughout the country.