Pediatric Associates of Valley has two special young patients who received a special visit from Santa at the doctor's office Tuesday morning. Shown left is two-year-old Morgan Campbell, who had an abdominal tumor and who just completed chemotherapy. She was cancer free as of Dec. 2. Brett Strength, right, who's nine years old, is being treated for leukemia and has another year of treatment. Shown center is Santa. (Photo by Anne Glenn-Holliday)
By THE TIMES-NEWS
MONTGOMERY — Chambers County's unemployment rate moved further downward in November, falling to 5.5 percent from October's 5.8 percent reading.
The county had a lower rate than the state, which registered 6.0 percent in November, down from 6.3 percent in October.
Statistics released by the Department of Labor showed Chambers County's civilian labor force contracting in November, falling to 14,500 from October's 14,653. Employment in the county was also lower at 13,703, compared to 13,805 in October. However, unemployment in the county dropped to 797 from October's 848.
Jobless rates fell in neighboring counties as well.
Lee County, which has one of the lowest rates in the state, had an unemployment rate in November of 4.2 percent, compared to 4.6 percent in October.
Randolph County saw its rate fall to 5.7 percent from October's 6.2 percent, Macon County registered a drop to 6.9 percent from October's 7.6 percent and Tallapoosa County's rate fell to 6.5 percent from October's 6.8 percent.
“Alabama’s unemployment rate has not only continued its downward trend, but has reached a level we have not seen in more than six years,” Governor Robert Bentley said. “Additionally, we continue to see strong growth in wage and salary employment, which is also at its highest point in nearly six years. This is a testament to the economic progress we have made in Alabama, and our efforts will continue until every Alabamian who wants a job has the opportunity to acquire one.”
The last time that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Alabama was at or below 6.0 percent was October 2008, when the rate was 5.9 percent.
Over the year, wage and salary employment increased 33,700, with gains in the professional and business services sector (+11,100), the leisure and hospitality sector (+8,900), the manufacturing sector (+7,400), and the construction sector (+4,700), among others.
Wage and salary employment grew in November by 7,700 to 1,954,400. Monthly gains were seen in the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (+6,200), the education and health services sector (+1,500), and the government sector (+1,100), among others. The last time wage and salary employment was at or above the current figure was December 2008, when wage and salary employment totaled 1,964,400.
The annual increase in wage and salary employment represents job growth of 1.75 percent, the highest since June 2006, when it was 2.21 percent.
“The job growth we are experiencing in Alabama is encouraging,” Alabama Department of Labor Commissioner Fitzgerald Washington said. “What is even more encouraging is that of the sectors in which we are experiencing the most growth, three sectors have average annual salaries of more than $45,000. These are good, high paying jobs that are helping Alabama families grow and succeed.”
JobLink, the state’s online free jobs database (www.joblink.alabama.gov), registered 22,974 active job orders in November. The Help Wanted Online (HWOL) data showed 48,261 total job ads were placed online in Alabama. The most advertised careers continue to be truck drivers, retail supervisors, and registered nurses.
All 67 Alabama counties saw either no change or a drop in their unemployment rates this month. Additionally, 84 percent of the counties have lower unemployment rates now than they did one year ago.
Counties with the lowest unemployment rates are Shelby County at 3.8 percent, Lee and Cherokee counties at 4.2 percent and Cullman County at 4.3 percent.
Counties with the highest unemployment rates are Wilcox County at 12.2 percent, Bullock County at 11.8 percent and Dallas County at 10.7 percent.
By THE TIMES-NEWS
WEST POINT — The President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll once again includes Point University among its list of colleges and universities noted for “solving community problems and placing more students on a lifelong path of civic engagement.”
This designation is the highest honor a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement. Point was one of 16 institutions in Georgia given the distinction this year.
“Point University is committed to the idea that every believer is a minister,” said Wye Huxford, vice president for spiritual formation at the University. “We also are intentional when it comes to the idea that an important part of any education that includes biblical studies must be the expression of what we believe. The most obvious sign of our commitment to Christ is our service to others.”
Point University’s service to the community includes a large number of individual and small group projects, including internships in locations ranging from a local hospice to a village in Africa; volunteering at local nursing homes and Christian summer camps; and a campus-wide recycling effort led by student volunteers.
This fall, more than 400 Point University students, faculty and staff served the people of Lanett as part of the University’s Impact Week. The Point community painted and repaired houses, cleaned up cluttered yards and completed numerous other projects at 61 different properties in conjunction with The Fuller Center’s Block of Blessings initiative.
More information about the Point University’s community service efforts can be found at point.edu. More information on eligibility and the full list of Honor Roll awardees can be found at nationalservice.gov.
By Scott Sickler
Times-News Sports Editor
GREENVILLE, Ala. — The No. 10-ranked Springwood Lady Wildcats (9-3) defeated rivals Lee-Scott (41-35) and Fort Dale (49-27) over the weekend to win the Fort Dale Christmas tournament.
It was another stellar pair of showings for coach Rick Johnson’s Lady Wildcats, who are serving notice they’ll once again be a challenger for the AISA 3A girls basketball state title later this winter.
Springwood used a zone press defense, Johnson noted, to pull away from Fort Dale in the semfinals in posting a convincing 49-27 win.
The Lady Wildcats outscored Fort Dale 21-10 after the first quarter and held a 31-13 lead at the halftime intermission.
Tazsa Garrett-Hammett led Springwood with 18 points, sister Fannasy Garrett-Hammett tallied 13, Jordan Self added 12 and Madison Meigs scored four.
For the second time this season, Springwood earned a big win over Lee-Scott, previously posting a 55-48 win Dec. 2.
Springwood outscored Lee-Scott 14-9 in the first quarter but trailed 20-19 at halftime.
The Lady Wildcats trailed by six heading to the fourth quarter and proved their mettle under pressure, outscoring Lee-Scott by a whopping 13-3 margin to record a 41-35 win for the tourney championship.
Sophomore Langley Matthews and junior guard Fannasy Garrett-Matthews were named to the all-tournament team.
Tazsa Garrett-Hammett was named as tourney MVP.
Springwood plays at the Heritage School Christmas tournament in Newnan, Ga., Dec. 29-30.
•In other Springwood action over the weekend, the boys team (8-4) defeated Fort Dale 54-39 and Saturday fell to Lee-Scott 48-40.
In the game against Fort Dale, Springwood was led by Andrew Oswalt with 18 points and Agrlin Braxton with 14. McLane Martin added seven while Merqui McClellan and Maurice Fears each had six.
Against, Lee-Scott, Springwood trailed 14-7 after one period but outscored Lee-Scott 18-7 in the second to hold a 25-21 halftime lead.
The Wildcats were outscored by 12 in the second-half.
Braxton led Springwood with 11 points, Fears tallied 10, Shykee Thomas added seven, Oswalt had five and McClellan chipped in with four.
Oswalt and Braxton both named the all-tourney team.
•In other high school basketball action over the weekend, the Valley Runnin’ Rams (2-8) fell to Harris Co. 46-43.
Gabe McCants led Valley with 14 points, three rebounds and one assist. Jamon Presley added 10 points and Broski Peterson scored nine.
Valley returns to action Dec. 27 at the Battle of the Borders tournament at LaGrange High.
•In other basketball, the Lanett boys and girls teams both posted wins over Jackson High out of Atlanta.
The Lanett boys are now 6-1 on the season. No other information was reported on the Lanett boys and girls games.
By Scott Sickler
Times-News Sports Editor
LaGRANGE — The Troup School Board of Education (TCBOE) announced Thursday that Troup High football coach Lynn Kendall has been released from his football duties effective at the end of the 2014-15 school year.
Kendall just completed his third season as the Tigers coach in 2014 as Troup posted a 3-7 overall record.
Troup started off well this fall with a 3-2 record, including impressive wins over rivals LaGrange and later against Callaway.
The sweep over LaGrange and Callaway gave Troup the title of overall Troup Co. champions in the first year all three local schools played.
Troup faced a tough challenge with six Top-10 ranked foes on the schedule, including four in GHSA 4A-Region 5, the toughest region in the state.
The Tigers faced Top-10 region rivals in Sandy Creek, Carrollton, Whitewater and Woodward Academy as well as Carver and Harris Co., both Top-10 teams in 5A play.
After a solid start, Troup was unable to produce a region win, going 0-5 and winless in region play for the first time since Rob Ridings led the Tigers in 1998.
Off the five region games they lost, Troup led in four of the five contests.
Kendall succeeded Dr. Charles Flowers as Troup head coach in 2012, posting a 3-7 record.
In 2013, Kendall led the Tigers to the 4A state playoffs, losing at Gilmer Co. in the first-round, and posted a 6-5 overall record. The Tigers rushed for well over 3,300 yards in the split-back veer offense.
His three-year overall record at Troup was 12-19.
Kendall also served as head football coach at Pacelli of Columbus in the 1997-98 seasons.
By Scott Sickler
Times-News Sports Editor
The 2014 high school football season wrapped up the first weekend in November when both the Springwood Wildcats (2A) and the Chambers Academy Rebels (1A) both fell in the first-round of the AISA state playoffs.
As it turned out, Springwood (7-5) and Chambers (6-5) were the lone two local schools among seven to earn postseason berths.
With three weeks left in the regular season in early October, as many as six of the seven local schools had chances to earn playoff spots.
In short, it was a tough year success-wise for local teams as Valley (3-7), Lanett (4-5), Troup (3-7) and LaFayette (1-9) all struggled while the Beulah Bobcats came within one win of earning an AHSAA 3A berth.
LaFayette won their first game and then lost its next nine, Valley was 3-0 before dropping its last seven, Lanett — ranked No. 2 in the preseason — was up and down all year and finished out of the playoffs with a disappointing 4-5 overall record.
The Troup Tigers started off 3-2 and won the Troup Co. championship defeating rivals LaGrange and Callaway but then lost all five region games and didn’t qualify for the postseason.
Coach Jarrod Wooten’s Beulah Bobcats (4-6) just missed out on the playoffs, falling to Prattville Christian in Week Nine.
•Award winners include Lanett’s Marlon “MJ” Bridges and Valley’s Martravious “Tre Tre” Williams as Co-Offensive Players of the Year.
Both youngsters had stellar seasons and capped sensational careers for their respective schools on both sides of the ball as two-way players.
Bridges and Williams will be locks for all-state honors.
Defensive stars were many but two stood out including Troup defensive back/safety Vanquez Bonner and Springwood’s linebacker/lineman Steven Stuntz as Co-Defensive Players of the Year.
Bonner had a terrific season for the Tigers and had a pair of pick-6s, including one against three-time state champion Sandy Creek early in the game for a quick 7-0 Tigers lead.
Like Bridges and Williams, Bonner is fast, athletic, tough, has great instincts and should earn all-state honors and play college football.
Stuntz led an aggressive Springwood defense which played outstanding football, particularly the second-half of the season, and powered its stretch drive to the 2A state playoffs.
Springwood’s shutout win over Glenwood was the Wildcats best overall defensive performance in many years.
A solid all-state pick, Stuntz and a host of his teammates will also have opportunities to play college football.
Leading their teams to the state playoffs earned Springwood’s Thomas Hill and Chambers Jason Allen both well-deserved recognition as Co-Coaches of the Year.
VALLEY — Mrs. Mary Marjorie Edwards, 91, of Valley died Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014, at East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika. Her two daughters were with her when she passed away after a brief illness.
Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 23 at Fairfax First Baptist Church with the Rev. Steve Garnett, Rev. Nathan Ziglar and Rev. Brad Reed officiating. Burial will follow at Resthaven Memorial Gardens in Lanett.
Johnson Brown-Service Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.
VALLEY — Mrs. Johnnie Pearl Ray Taylor, 86, of Valley died Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014, at her residence.
Funeral services will be held Wednesday, Dec. 24 at 11 a.m. at Johnson Brown-Service Funeral Home Chapel in Valley with the Rev. Frank Rittenberry officiating. Burial will follow at Fairview Cemetery.
Johnson Brown-Service Funeral Home of Valley is handling arrangements.
LaGRANGE — The celebration of life service for Apostle Jemal Dexter Trammell, 45, of LaGrange will be held at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2014, at Williams Grove Church of Deliverance in Pine Mountain. Apostle Louis Trammell will officiate. Burial will follow at Meadoway Gardens Cemetery.
Lakes-Dunson-Robertson Funeral Home, LaGrange, is in charge of the arrangements.