April board meeting: $500 payments to all system employees

HAMILTON – Teachers will close-out possibly the hardest year of their careers with a parting gift.
Marion County Board of Education members approved Marion County School System employees for a one-time lump sum payment of $500 during its monthly meeting on Thursday, April 22.
Marion County Superintendent of Education Ann West said the payments are similar to actions taken by other school systems to thank their teachers for the measures they are undergoing to provide education during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

County faced with major road repairs following inclement weather

HAMILTON - Following several weeks of extreme weather since the start of the new year, Marion County is now faced with major roads in need of repair after facing extreme freezing and flooding on roads within the county.

Marion County Engineer Mike Shaw released a statement regarding the state of the roads and what needs to be done in the coming months.
“The Marion County roads have suffered significant damage as a result of the recent flood event and ice storm,” stated Shaw in his release.


Invasive species workshop on May 18

The Marion County Extension Office will be hosting an Invasive Species Workshop on Tuesday, May 18, 2021, at the Hamilton Parks & Rec. Building to provided training for landowners, loggers and foresters.
This workshop will take place both indoors and outside. Attendees will learn about worker protection standards, herbicide labels, application methods, invasive plant identification and their control options. After the inside portion, we will transition outside for demonstrations on calibrating sprayers, hack-and-squirt and basal bark application techniques.

Burleson excited by police hire

WINFIELD - Winfield Police Chief Brett Burleson addressed the Winfield City council concerning a young new hire he wants to bring to the Winfield Police Department during a regular meeting held on Tuesday, April 21, at Winfield City Hall.
Austin Elijah Swanigan, 21, will be joining the Winfield Police Department after unanimous approval of Burleson’s recommendation to hire him.
“I’m pretty excited about this young man, he’s put in an application with us a couple of times,” said Burleson.

Roster hits all-time high

HAMILTON - Vaccinations and COVID-19 are complicating the logistical aspects of correctional facilities. Marion County Sheriff Kevin Williams told the Journal Record that on Tuesday, April 6, the Marion County Jail marked an all-time record of 189 individuals in custody. The jail, which was built in 1979, is designed to house just 86. One reason for this super-capacity is the presence of nearly 50 state prisoners who have not been accepted into the custody of the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC), according to Williams.

Firefighters recall the light they found in Hackleburg

When Hackleburg took a direct hit by an EF-5 tornado during the Wednesday, April 27, 2011, super tornado outbreak, people from around the nation found ways to help. According to Hackleburg Fire Chief Steve Hood, two fire departments in particular--one from Mississippi’s Gulf Coast and another from a suburb of Pittsburg, Penn.-- provided exemplary aide. Yesterday (Tuesday, April 27), marked 10 years since the disaster, which left 25 dead across Marion County.

New CEO lands in Marion County

New Northwest Alabama Economic Development Alliance CEO Tom Wisemiller is shown addressing the Marion County Commission during a regular meeting on Monday, April 20.

HAMILTON - The new Northwest Alabama Economic Development Agency President Tom Wisemiller has been on a bit of a Marion County tour in the past week, visiting and introducing himself to the Marion County Commission, Hamilton City Council and Winfield City Council. Wisemiller addressed the Marion County Commission on Monday, April 19, during a regular meeting at the Marion County Commission office in Hamilton.

Sims to make MMA debut in Albertville

Kyle Sims, a police officer in Hamilton, is entering his first MMA title fight on Saturday, May 8, in Albertville.

HAMILTON - Police officer Kyle Sims will premier in his first mixed martial arts (MMA) fight next month. Sims is on the fight card for the Marshall County-based American Fighting League (AFL) for its next event taking place on Saturday, May 8, at the Sand Mountain Park in Albertville. The event begins at 5 p.m. and will be live-streamed online at AFL’s Facebook and Instagram pages. General admission tickets for in-person attendees are $25. As a law enforcement officer in Marion County for the past four years, Sims, 27, is 5-foot-9-inches and weighs 170 pounds.

Fayette Co. willing to partner with Winfield

WINFIELD - Fayette County Commissioner Shane Hughes and Fayette County Probate Judge Mike Freeman visited the Winfield City Council meeting on Tuesday, April 20, to discuss the possibility of helping the city pave roads.
In a regular council meeting held on Tuesday, April 6, at the Winfield City Hall, the City made the decision to pave and chip and seal a number of roads, some of which lie in Fayette County lines.

Photographer recalls April 27, 2011

April 27, 2011 was just one day of a multi-day outbreak.
I was helping a photographer friend from Tuscaloosa shoot a wedding in St. Louis. We drove up from Tuscaloosa in the days and before April 27 and ran into storms in Arkansas and we stopped to take some pictures there. We made it to St. Louis and were staying at a hotel near the airport when the airport got hit by a tornado. We took pics near that area the next day.

Cook says zero COVID cases since February

WINFIELD - Winfield City Schools Superintendent of Education Chris Cook announced that Winfield City Schools has not had a single case of COVID-19 since Feb. 4.
Cook stated this during the Winfield City Schools Board of Education meeting held on Tuesday, April 13, at Winfield Middle School.
“We haven't had a positive case since Feb. 4th, but we have one girl in the elementary school who is awaiting results now. She's shown some minor symptoms, but nothing serious,” Cook told the Journal Record.

Windham gives hospital update

WINFIELD - Northwest Medical Center-Winfield CEO Michael Windham offered a detailed look at goings-on at the hospital during a regular meeting held on Tuesday, April 6, at Winfield City Hall. Windham stated that when he arrived to the hospital last year, the biggest hurdle was the financial situation, which saw the hospital over one million dollars in the red. “I didn’t get to see the financials until I walked through the door. I looked at them and said, ‘This is not right, there’s something not correct here,’” said Windham.

Cooper trial starts May 17

Double Springs - More than five years after the alleged murder of two Hamilton residents in downtown Hamilton, Jimmy Dale Cooper, 61, will be tried and judged by jury.
Cooper was transported from Marion County Jail in Hamilton on Monday, April 12, to Winston County Jail in Double Springs, where he will spend the next month waiting to be tried for two charges of capital murder.

Booth named police chief

HACKLEBURG - City leaders in Hackleburg believe they are making strides toward rebuilding the town’s police force.
Wage competition has led to scarcity of manpower for the department over the last year and town officials have operated with just two full-time officers and recruited part-timers.
Hackleburg Mayor Darryl Colburn believes the town’s new police chief, Jeremy Booth, will help lead in the endeavour.
“I think we can build a really good department with his leadership,” Colburn said.


‘An outpouring of goodwill’

Mike Kastner never planned to serve in international relief, but 10 years after the storm, that’s exactly where he now finds himself.
Kastner was one of a handful of American Red Cross volunteers in Marion County after the April 27, 2011, EF-5 tornado tore through the area, killing 25. He says his experience as a small contributor in the disaster relief efforts in Hamilton and Hackleburg gave him a passion for aid work.

100 dead

One hundred deaths.
Marion County reached the milestone the first week of April, peeking over the hundred threshold to 101 deaths, but rescinded back to 100 by late last week.
According to the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), there are some instances where deaths are reported and then removed after further review, as there may be duplicate records, deaths are found not to be attributable to the virus, or in rare instances a death may be reported and the person is not deceased.

COVID surge during beginning of year reached near-crisis levels

North Mississippi Health Services Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jeremy Blanchard speaks to the Hamilton City Council on April 5.

HAMILTON - Local health care administrators briefed city officials on how North Mississippi Health Services (NMHS) navigated the COVID-19 pandemic.
NMHS Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jeremy Blanchard was present at the Hamilton City Council’s Monday, April 5, meeting along with North Mississippi Medical Center (NMMC)-Hamilton Administrator Robert Trimm to discuss the state of the local hospital.
The NMHS system is based in Tupelo, Miss., and consists of seven hospitals across northeast Mississippi and northwest Alabama, 43 clinics and about 7,000 employees.

Inmate vaccines begin in Hamilton

HAMILTON - Vaccine rollout has reached at-risk inmates housed in Marion County prison facilities.
The Alabama Department of Corrections began vaccinations for inmates at in the Hamilton Aged & Infirmed facility and the Hamilton Work Release Center on Monday, April 12.
Distribution is being prioritized for facilities which house the most vulnerable inmates. ADOC intends to inoculate entire facilities at one time rather than focus on particular age groups or demographics.