Pastor at Shawmut United Methodist Church and coordinator of the Interfaith Food Closet Donnie Erwin-Brown, center, was the guest speaker Wednesday at the weekly meeting of the West Point Lions Club held at Riverside Country Club. Erwin-Brown told club members of the important role the Interfaith Food Closet fills in aiding those in need in the Greater Valley Area. Shown alongside Erwin-Brown are Jerry Ledbetter, left, program chairman; and Joel Finlay, WPLC president. (Photo by Scott Sickler)
By SCOTT SICKLER
LANETT — One of the most important service organizations in the Greater Valley Area, which serves a multitude of people in need, is the Interfaith Closet, located in Valley.
Playing a leading role in the success of the local organization is Donnie Erwin-Brown, pastor at Shawmut United Methodist Church.
Now in its 31st year, Erwin-Brown noted, the Interfaith Food Closet is able to help persons and families in need of basic nutritional care and serves all of the Greater Valley Area, including Valley (35 percent), Lanett (57 percent) and West Point (8 percent.)
An all-volunteer organization, the Interfaith Food Closet members put in 2,800 hours of service annually to help those in need of basic food items.
“Our organization was involved in feeding 1,430 households and produced 15,732 meals,” Erwin-Brown added.
A total of 2,576 adults were served and another 1,357 children, which makes up 35 percent of its work.
Counting, Erwin-Brown noted, is very important in the Christian faith and especially the Interfaith Food Closet.
The Interfaith Food Closet is made up of 20 local churches which provide one or more of three things: 1) food donations; 2) money; and 3) volunteers.
The organization serves 100-150 families per month with basic food items such as milk, oatmeal, peanut butter, spaghetti, cornmeal, crackers, flour, beans, rice, fish, meat, vegetables and more.
Donations of food, money and manpower hours of volunteers are crucial to the success of the organization. The cost to feed 100 families per month is approximately $1,635.
A total of 300-plus people are served per month and one-third of that number is children. In addition, 35 percent are first-time users and families utilizing the program are able to be served six times during one calendar year.
The hours are Monday and Wednesday 9 a.m. to 12 noon and Tuesday and Thursday, 1-4 p.m.
Interfaith Food Closet also provides emergency food. A copy of a utility bill and ID are all that’s required for assistance.
For additional information, contact the organization at (334) 756-3443 or Erwin-Brown at (706)590-0600 or email@example.com.
By THE TIMES-NEWS
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — When the Alabama Legislature convened for its constitutionally mandated organizational session last week, the leadership of the Alabama State Senate named Gerald Dial (R-Lineville) the new chairman of the Senate Health & Human Services Committee.
Sen. Dial will serve as chairman of the committee for the full four-year legislative quadrennium. He follows Sen. Greg Reed (R-Jasper), who held the position the previous term when it was referred to as just the Senate Health committee.
“Health care is one-fifth of the economy and personally affects every Alabama citizen,” Dial said. “As the next chairman of the Senate Health & Human Services committee, I will focus on rural health issues while helping make health care more accessible and affordable.”
Accordingly to the newly adopted Senate rules, the Committee on Health and Human Services receives all bills and other matters concerning the health of the people of Alabama, including the operation of programs managed by the Department of Human Resources; the needs of senior citizens; welfare reform; and any other matters which affect the health care of the citizens of Alabama.
The committee has 13 members, including Vice Chairman Jim McClendon and Deputy Chairman Greg Reed.
"Leading the Senate Health & Human Services committee is a big responsibility. We consider and debate the second most number of bills of any committee. I thank Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh and the other members of Senate leadership for entrusting me with this responsibility,” Dial said.
"It is my goal to use this position to make a positive and lasting impact on our state since this is my final term in the legislature," Dial concluded.
By WAYNE CLARK
VALLEY — Industry Training Center Executive Director Alfred Davis Sr. sees the east Alabama area as one of the fastest growing parts of the state. There's much promise, but meeting the area's potential will likely come down to having a skilled, well-prepared workforce that can drive this economic prosperity.
During Wednesday's noon hour meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Valley, Davis talked of how a 44-member council he is a member of is tasked with the leadership and accountability that's needed to see this through. Local members of the East Alabama Workforce Investment Network (EAWIN) Council include Ken Sealy director of the Chambers County Career Technical Center, and Sherry Gaddy, manager of the local Alabama Power Company office.
EAWIN serves a five-county area including Chambers, Lee, Russell, Macon and Bullock counties. The council brings together major industries, local businesses, non-profits, colleges, career tech programs, lots of government agencies and six Chambers of Commerce in developing a strategy to meet future job needs. The primary target areas include construction, manufacturing, health care, services and tourism.
Three community colleges in the district — Southern Union, CVCC and Trenholm State in Montgomery – have collectively received over $5.1 million in workforce development funding since 2008. Of this, SUSCC has gotten around $2.3 million, CVCC $2 million and Trenholm $660,000.
There have also been some industry grants backing workforce development initiatives.
The focus is on youth. "That's the important area for us," Davis said. "All career opportunities don't require a four-year degree. Our target audience is the eighth grade group. We want to expose them to a lot of career opportunities."
Eighth graders are ideal because they are deciding on coursework pathways for their high school years and beyond.
Davis said that EAWIN will be hosting a Career Discovery Expo at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum (the old arena) on the campus of Auburn University on Feb. 17 and 18. An estimated 4,000 eighth grade students from public and private schools, plus students who are being home schooled, will have the chance to check out 11 career clusters.
These will include agriculture, architecture and construction, communication and information technology, education and training, hospitality and tourism, manufacturing, automobile manufacturing, health care, public service (law, police, fire, corrections, military, etc.), transportation, distribution and logistics and energy and utilities.
Students will have the opportunity to visit each career cluster and learn about careers that are available close to home.
Recent studies indicate that approximately 28 percent of ninth grade students nationwide are intent on getting a four-year education following their high school graduation, another 32 percent intend to start their post-secondary education at the community college level.
A disturbing trend is that around 30 percent of ninth graders nationwide drop out before they finish high school. "They have no skills, no training and in many cases are in the streets," Davis said. "We have to hope they are not at our houses while we are at meetings like this."
Davis said that he's really excited about the Expo and that he thinks it will be a really good experience for the region's eighth graders. It's also going to be fun. "There will be some interactive things to engage them," he said. "We'd like for this to be an annual event. We'd like to impact 4,000 eighth grade students every year."
"We'll be using the entire concourse level," Davis says of the planned event at Beard-Eaves. "Some of the clusters will be on the outside and will have some exhibits. We will have student guides for all the eighth graders. There will be an open house on the first day, and anyone can come to it. We'd love to see you there."
"If you have the opportunity to come I am sure you will enjoy it," he added. "If you would like to help us there's plenty of room for volunteers. It won't be taking up your entire day. It starts at 8:30 in the morning (Central time) and will be over around 2 p.m."
The East Alabama Workforce Investment Network (EAWIN), Inc. is a non-profit workforce development organization with a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS.
As part of the Governor's Office of Workforce Development strategy, the state is divided into 10 regions, including EAWIN (District 8). The state's 10 workforce development councils provide a direct link to the workforce needs of business at the local level. EAWIN is business-driven and business-led and works within its member counties to develop a regional strategic plan and comprehensive workforce development system that supports local economic and job development activities, helps build a better workforce and improves economic conditions of the region.
For more information, go to www.eawin.org.
By Scott Sickler
Times-News Sports Editor
We’re nearing the conclusion of what has been another terrific season of local high school basketball action as four teams may all win 20 or more games as we head to the area and region tournaments, regionals as well as state tourneys.
•Heading the list is the No. 3-ranked Springwood Lady Wildcats as coach Rick Johnson’s team is 17-3 and will be a solid favorite to win the area tourney and compete for the AISA 2A state championship in February.
•The No.10-ranked (ASWA; No. 2 Max Preps) Lanett Panthers are 16-4 and with six games left in the regular season, will more than likely already pass the 20-win mark before the area tourney even begins. Coach Richard Carter’s team has played as tough a schedule as any school in Alabama, is battle-tested and ready to make another serious run for the 2A state championship.
I also stand corrected as Lanett has already clinched the right to play the boys area tourney at the Panther Den, regardless of what happens in tonight’s showdown at rival LaFayette. The Bulldogs had lost a region game earlier this year at Reeltown and have two losses while Lanett is unbeaten.
•The LaFayette Bulldogs (15-4) are also having a great season and along with Lanett, will be a real threat in the state playoffs. In fact, don’t be surprised to see both Lanett and LaFayette at the Southeast Regional.
•The Chambers Academy Rebels (15-5) are the defending AISA 1A state champions and peaking at the right time, according to coach Jason Allen.
CA has the skill players and big game experience to make another run at the title this winter as well.
•In basketball Thursday, the Valley Lady Rams (11-11) won a thriller in a 60-59 overtime decision over Harris Co. on the road.
Takayla Bussey led the Lady Rams with 14 points, Ariel Patton added 12.
•In the boys game, the Runnin’ Rams (3-19, 1-5) fell to Harris Co., 71-67.
Deavin Foreman led Valley with 16 points, six rebounds and one assist. Keshawn Hicks added 13 points while Gabe McCants and Jarrious Jefferson each had 12 points.
Valley plays at Callaway High School Saturday.
By Scott Sickler
Times-News Sports Editor
LANETT — The Springwood Wildcats will close out the home schedule this evening against East Memorial Christian Academy (EMCA) and it will be a special evening honoring lone Lady Wildcats senior Jordan Self as well as some other interesting items taking place.
Among those items are the Lady Wildcats three international players, who will all start tonight for coach Rick Johnson’s No. 3-ranked team.
They include Irene Sevillano from Madrid, Spain; Rosey Truong, from Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam; and Maria Ukkonen, who hails from Helsinki, Finland.
In addition, a player from the Georgia side along with Self, an Alabama product, will consist of the five starters.
“It’s a special night for us at Springwood Friday in honoring Jordan Self, our lone senior, our three international students and a player from Georgia as our starting five,” said Rick Johnson, Lady Wildcats coach.
“Jordan is our lone senior and has played basketball for her entire junior and senior high career here at Springwood,” noted Johnson.
Self signed Wednesday to play softball at East Mississippi Community College.
“Jordan has been a three-year starter on the girls basketball team, helping to resurrect the program that had six wins from 2010-2013 to one that has reached 34 wins in the past two seasons,” said Johnson.
“Our lone Georgia starter will be a mystery starter earning the spot this week through a variety of shooting contests,” Johnson said. “Our three international students — who did not have any basketball experience upon arrival — will start and play the first few minutes of the game tonight. The girls are Maria Ukkonen from Helsinki, Finland; Rosie Truong from Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam; and Irene Sevillano, who calls Madrid, Spain her home,” noted Johnson.
The international trio have been great ambassadors for the school.
“Since August, these girls have been living in The Greater Valley Area with host families in this area,” Johnson said. “They have been terrific students and wonderful additions to our school. They are at Springwood as a result of the school's partnership with Educatius International. The Educatius organization focuses on opening the doors of education primarily in the United States to students from around the world. Educatius offers high quality education through a wide range of academic programs in both public and private institutions,” noted Johnson.
Springwood currently has six international students this year with the others from China, Thailand and Norway.
The local international coordinators are Robbye Smith and Ann Hixon, director of admissions, and both have helped to develop the program.
By Scott Sickler
Times-News Sports Editor
LANETT — The Lanett High boys and girls basketball teams picked up a sweep Wednesday evening with a pair of wins over visiting Park Crossing High School of Atlanta.
Coach Richard Carter’s No. 2-ranked (Max Preps, based upon strength of schedule) Panthers (16-4) rolled over Park Crossing 64-49 while coach Jennifer Norris’ Lady Panthers also posted a 52-38 win.
It was Lanett’s third game in the last five nights but the team didn’t seem to mind as the super-quick Panthers easily rolled to another big win.
Lanett is ranked No. 2 in 2A according to Max Preps, Carter noted, based upon its very challenging schedule.
The Panthers are only behind Francis Marion in the Max Preps 2A boys poll.
Sophomore post player/power forward Anquaevious Pollard led Lanett with a team and game-high 23 points, Tavaris Geiger added 10 and Justin Jones scored nine.
Other scorers for Lanett included Joshua Holloway and Terrion Truitt both with six points each, Anterrion Stephens tallied five and Jalen Madden scored four.
•In the girls game, sophomore Ataiya Bridges led the Lady Panthers with 20 points, 10 rebounds, six steals and four assists.
Alycea Sharpe added 10 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, one block and seven steals, Jasmein Martin chipped in with nine points and six rebounds, Zapporiah Hutchinson tallied four points, had seven rebounds, one steal and one assist and Jadyn Wynn scored four points, had seven rebounds, four steals and one assist.
•Lanett will play at rival LaFayette Friday in a big area showdown.
VALLEY — Ms. Mary Jean Finley, 58, of Valley died Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015, at her residence.
Funeral services will be held Saturday, Jan. 24 at noon CST at Vines Funeral Home Chapel in LaFayette with Bishop Micah Bonner officiating. Burial will follow at Handy Cemetery in LaFayette.
Vines Funeral Home of LaFayette is handling arrangements.
WEST POINT — Mrs. Winnie Wade Fulghum, 87, of West Point died Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015, in LaGrange.
Funeral services are planned for Saturday, Jan. 24 at 2 p.m. at Happy Valley Baptist Church with the Revs., John Samanie and Mark McGee officiating. Burial will follow at Oakwood Cemetery in Lanett.
Services have been entrusted to McCarthy Funeral Home of West Point.
VALLEY — Mrs. Dorothy Floyd Goodwin of Valley died Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015, at Bethany House Hospice in Auburn.
Funeral services are scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 24 at noon EST at Burrell Chapel A.M.E. Church in Opelika, with Pastor Wayne L. Baker officiating. Burial will follow at the churchyard cemetery.
Davis Memorial Mortuary of Valley directing.
OPELIKA — Mr. Travis Hambrick, 34, of Opelika died Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015, at East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika.
Funeral services are planned for Saturday, Jan. 24 at 1 p.m. CST at Macedonia Baptist Church in Five Points, with the Rev. Tommy Carwell, pastor, officiating, and the Rev. Joe Cofiel, eulogist. Burial will follow at Rock Mills Baptist Church Cemetery in Roanoke.
Silmon-Seroyer Funeral Home is handling arrangements.
LANETT — Mr. David Plair, 26, of Lanett died Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015, at Bethany House Hospice in Auburn.
Funeral services are planned for Sunday, Jan. 25 at 3 p.m. EST, 2 p.m. CST, at Jeff Jones Funeral Home in LaFayette with the Rev. Joe Schuck officiating. Burial will follow at Hillcrest Cemetery in Lanett.
Jeff Jones Funeral Home of LaFayette is handling arrangements.
LANETT — Ms. Rosie Lee Ramsey of Lanett died Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015, at her residence.
Funeral services are scheduled for Monday, Jan. 26 at noon at New Zion Baptist Church in Lanett with Pastor Jackie Banks, eulogist, and the Rev. Vernon Carter, officiant. Burial will follow at the churchyard cemetery.
Davis Memorial Mortuary of Valley is handling arrangements.