Despite rainy weather on Sunday afternoon, there was a good turnout for the 3 p.m. exhibition opening at Bradshaw-Chambers County Library of "The Way We Worked." Valley is one of only a handful of Alabama cities that will be hosting this traveling exhibition of the Smithsonian Institution. It will be here through Jan. 23, 2015. Those coming out on Sunday were the first in the local area to see a video on this theme that was produced by the University of Alabama. Among local people to appear in the video are VT-N publisher Cy Wood, Chambers County School Superintendent Dr. Kelli Hodge, EAMC-Lanier CEO Cary Owen, retired textile worker Geraldine Burton, John Ayers, Ruth Johnson, Curtis Guy and Sim Floyd Jr. (Photo by Wayne Clark)
By THE TIMES-NEWS
MONTGOMERY — Chambers County recorded a 5.8-percent unemployment rate in October as employment grew by 125 and the number of unemployed fell to 854 from September's 909.
The county's .4-percent drop in its unemployment rate was welcome news for Valerie Gray, executive director of the Chambers County Development Authority.
"We can credit this lower rate to the hard work of many local people and our state partners," Gray said. "With recent announcements of Knauf, Norbord, Hantal, KMIN and expansions of local businesses, we anticipate a brighter future for Chambers County.
"Our leaders in LaFayette, Lanett, Valley, Chambers County and our towns all support us at the CCDA and enable us to do our jobs," she continued. "Our primary goal at the CCDA is to create job opportunities and build wealth within the community. It has not been an easy path for us to follow, but finally we are beginning to see the benefits of our cooperative teamwork The CCDA remains committed to it's diversification plan and committed to supporting its existing businesses."
Chambers County also experienced an increase in its civilian labor force over September, rising to 14,658 from 14,588. Employment stood at 13,804 in October.
Jobless rates in neighboring counties included Lee, 4.6 percent; Macon, 7.6 percent; Randolph, 6.3 percent; and Tallapoosa, 6.8 percent.
Statewide, Alabama's jobless rate dropped to 6.3 percent in October from September's 6.6 percent reading.
“The October unemployment rate is good news for Alabama,” Gov. Robert Bentley said. “We are seeing healthy growth in the number of jobs our economy is supporting, and that is a testament to our efforts to recruit quality companies that bring good jobs to Alabama. We have not seen this many jobs in more than five years, before the recession hit Alabama, and I am confident this trend will continue.”
Wage and salary employment, totaling 1,948,600 in October, increased by 9,800. Monthly gains were seen in the professional and business services sector (+2,900), the government sector (+2,700), and the trade, transportation and utilities sector (+2,400), among others.
Over the year, wage and salary employment increased by 33,100. This also represented the largest percentage gain in job growth (1.73 percent) since June 2006, in addition to being the largest year-over-year gain during 2014. Yearly gains were seen in the leisure and hospitality sector (+12,100), the professional and business services sector (+10,100), the manufacturing sector (+7,500) and the construction sector (+3,200), among others.
The last time that wage and salary employment was at or above 1,948,600 was December 2008, when wage and salary employment totaled 1,964,400.
By WAYNE CLARK
VALLEY — Jimmy Gilson talked about his growing up days in River View at last Wednesday's noon hour meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Valley. Being at the club, he said, was as close as one could come to being at home and speaking from the heart.
He said that he had been born in the old Langdale hospital, which was located on the hill across from the Langdale Methodist Church meeting site. He and his wife of 52 years live in the Langdale community, and Gilson represents the area as a member of the Valley City Council.
But it was River View (or Riv Vu, as it's commonly called) he wanted to talk about. "When I was growing up there we had the whole world at our fingertips," he said. "We had the river, the mill, a ballpark, a theater, a gym, a grocery store and a drug store. We could play ball, go fishing or hang out at the gym."
River View has changed much since those days. "The stores are gone," Gilson said. "The theater is gone, and the gym will be coming down soon. The houses aren't like they once were. Many of them are rental houses that aren't kept up the way they once were."
Gilson said that the late Doss Leak was his mentor. "I loved him like a daddy," he said. "He told us of lots of things that had happened in River View over the years, some of it funny and some of it hard to believe, but all of it taking place in River View."
One thing with a River View connection many people aren't aware of is that a River View baseball team once played two exhibition games against the Auburn University (then API) baseball team. The first game was in River View and the second at Auburn. River View won both games. The Auburn coach was so impressed with one of the River View pitchers he tried to get him to come to Auburn.
The River View coach stopped it right in its tracks. "You'll have to get him out of grammar school first," he told him.
Everyone broke up laughing at the story and Gilson proceeded with another interesting story about a River View man who once had a big day at the Pentagon. He was drafted into service in WWII and was discharged in Japan at war's end. He went back home to River View and was working in the mill when he received a letter in the mail from the U.S. Army postmarked Washington, D.C.
"They told him they wanted him to come to Washington and talk to them about an assignment they had for him," Gilson said. "They told him they would pay for everything. They just wanted to talk to him. He took them up on it and went there."
In Washington, they told him they had been most impressed with his service record and that many people who had known him while he was in the army had told them how good a soldier he was and had been especially knowledgeable in armaments. They took him on a tour of the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., and told him they would like for him to be on the staff there to teach weapons and tactics to cadets.
They asked him to think about it, but he politely told them, "It sounds nice, but I've got this weaving job at Riverdale Mill I can't leave."
Gilson said that C.J.'s Service Station in River View had been a popular place for guys to gather and tell tall tales. He remembers one guy who was tall and skinny who used to come there. "If he turned sideways and stuck out his tongue he would look like a zipper," he said.
Gilson remembers a funny story told him by a patrolman named Fletcher Williams. He told the guys at C.J.'s that he had been out on patrol near the backwater area on a Saturday night and got behind a car that was weaving all over the road. He knew the driver had to be well over the limit and pulled the car over.
Both the driver and a passenger were highly intoxicated. He took both of them to jail, mostly for safety's sake. One of them was so out of it he thought he was still in the car being driven by his drunken companion. When a car would approach from behind the patrol car, he'd turn and say "Be careful. They're still following us."
River View was such a small place, said Gilson, that when a teenage boy took an interest in a girl he'd talk to his parents about it to find out if they were related.
Gilson said that both River View and Langdale had been good places to live and that West Point Manufacturing and its successor companies had been good to work for. He said the company once sent him to a job in Mexia, Texas and that had been an experience. When he first got there, he found it to be a rather small town, much like the Valley. To find out what life was like there, he talked to some people who had lived there all their life.
"I talked to a 95-year-old man who knew some local history," he said. "He told me it had been a really wild place at one time. In the 1920s there had been an oil boom there and close to 100,000 people were there. There were churches, brothels and beer joints everywhere. One time the sheriff called the Texas Rangers for help in controlling what had become a wild west town."
Several days later a man rode up on a mule asking where the sheriff's office was. He was given directions there and introduced himself to the sheriff as a Texas Ranger. "They sent only one?" the sheriff asked. "One is all it will take," the ranger replied.
"After he'd shot down six to eight people it became a tame place," Gilson said.
Gilson said one of the biggest people he'd ever seen was a security guard at the plant where he worked. He was an Indian who carried with him a huge knife by his side. Gilson one day asked him why he had that and was told, "You never know I may have to one day kill somebody here."
He then had to persuade him that having a knife on him in the work place was not a good idea,
The plant had a bulletin board everyone called "the snake board." That's because every time someone killed a copperhead or a rattlesnake on the plant grounds they kept a tally of it. That number got pretty big after a while, and people became especially leery of snakes.
That was apparent one day when a worker in the plant was carrying a large bundle when a snake peered out at him only inches from his face. "He was hollering and screaming and running back and forth," Gilson said. "When he'd pass by me I'd tell him to put it down, but that went on for the longest."
People who watched it wondered who was the most frightened, the man or the snake? When things did get under control, it was determined that the snake was a harmless black racer. Even so, it went up on the board, too.
Before his retirement, Gilson also had the experience of running a textile mill in an urban area. Being in downtown Atlanta, he said, was very different than the Valley or Mexia, Texas. "One day we had a drug dealer trying to sell drugs in the plant," he said. "It's an everyday thing in a big city. You just don't have that in a small town. People don't come up to you every day and try to sell you drugs."
A small town, said Gilson, is a place where people truly care about each other. "They will help you if you are in need," he said. "Everyone knows each other, and you are thankful for little things. One thing I am thankful for is that I've spent most of my life in a small town."
Gilson said that he's enjoying retirement. "I have a recliner that loves me," he joked.
By Scott Sickler
Times-News Sports Editor
TROY — It was another big weekend for the Springwood boys and girls basketball teams as both squads swept Pike Liberal Arts Academy here Saturday.
Coach Drew Dorsey’s Wildcats (3-1) defeated PLA 49-41 while coach Rick Johnson’s Lady Wildcats (3-2) posted a big 61-32 win.
•In the boys game, Springwood led 10-9 after one period and 21-12 at the halftime intermission.
The Wildcats tallied 17 points in the fourth quarter and were able to hold off PLA down the stretch for the 49-41 final score win.
Maurice Fears led the Wildcats with 25 points while Agrlin Braxton added 10.
McLane Martin scored six points, Merqui McClellan added four, Andrew Oswald scored three and Steven Stuntz had one.
•In the girls game, Springwood routed PLA 61-32.
The Lady Wildcats jumped all over PLA early and often as Springwood led 20-6 after the first period and 31-22 at the half.
Springwood used another big surge, this time in the third quarter, outscoring PLA 21-6, to take firm control of the game in posting the 61-32 win.
Tazsa Garrett-Hammett led the Lady Wildcats with 22 points, Jordan Self scored 14, Fannasy Garrett-Hammett tallied nine while Carson Leva and Langley Matthews each scored eight.
Springwood’s starters shot an impressive 62 percent from the field.
The Lady Wildcats have played the leading team in each of the AISA classifications in Lakeside, Evangel and Glenwood.
•In other high school basketball, the Valley Runnin’ Rams and Lady Rams both dropped openers Saturday at Auburn High.
The Runnin’ Rams lost 57-39 while the Lady Rams fell 55-38.
By Scott Sickler
Times-News Sports Editor
LANETT — The Springwood boys and girls basketball teams split action with visiting Evangel Christian Academy here Thursday evening at Boswell gym.
Coach Drew Dorsey’s much-improved boys team (3-1) defeated Evangel by a 65-58 score while coach Rick Johnson’s Lady Wildcats (2-2) fell to a highly-acclaimed ECA girls squad by a 53-46 score.
In the boys game, Springwood jumped all over ECA, leading 21-7 at the end of the first period before visitors rallied, outscoring the Wildcats 24-13 as Sproingwood held a 34-31 lead at the halftime intermission.
ECA outscored Springwood 14-6 in the third to take a 45-42 lead before the Wildcats rallied in the fourth for the win.
Springwood outscored ECA 25-13 to post the 65-58 win.
Agrlin Braxton had a super game for Springwood, scoring a team, game and career-high 33 points.
Maurice Fears tallied 19 points as well and McLane Martin continued his fine game, chipping in with 10 points.
•In the girls game, Springwood led 16-11 after the first period and were up by two at 26-24 at the half.
ECA, however, rallied in the second-half to defeat the Lady Wildcats 53-46.
Tazsa Garrett-Hammett led Springwood with 19 points, sister Fannasy Garrett-Hammett chipped in with 13 while Langley Matthews scored eight.
Other scorers for Springwood included Jordan Self with four points and Anna Drake with two.
Coach Johnson says he expects the two teams to see each other later this winter in tourney play.
Springwood made the AISA 3A girls Final Four last winter and has all the tools in place to make another run this winter as well.
•In the boys junior varsity game, Springwood won 32-16.
Christian Lancaster led Springwood with 13 points while Chris Lancaster added 10.
By Scott Sickler
Times-News Sports Editor
VALLEY — A stellar prep career both in the classroom and on the athletic playing field has led a Valley High softball star to fulfill her dream to be rewarded with a softball scholarship.
Valley High senior student-athlete standout Lacy Striblin signed a national letter-of-intent (grant-in-aid softball scholarship) Thursday with NCAA Division II Peach Belt Conference power Georgia Southwestern College.
Striblin has been a standout for coach Adam Hunter’s Lady Rams throughout her career and in the process, she’s become one of the greatest softball players not only in Valley history but also AHSAA via the record books.
She’s been a versatile player throughout her career, playing left field, first base, third base and pitcher.
Valley’s career record during Striblin’s career is 92-52 with a season to go, including a postseason mark of 18-8.
Valley set a school-record last season in posting a 34-14 overall record and earning a spot at the prestigious AHSAA Elite Eight state tournament at Lagoon Park in Montgomery. In addition, Valley won the region title last season in what was a record-setting year for the Lady Rams.
Valley won back-to-back area titles in 2013-14 and was area runner-up in 2012.
With her senior year still to play, Striblin has 189 hits in 406 at-bats, a sizzling .466 average at the plate with 111 singles, 50 doubles, nine triples, 19 career homers, including 78 extra-base hits. Lacy also has put up a sensational .773 slugging percentage.
Her on-base percentage is outstanding as well at a clip of .556. She’s also has scored 154 runs and had 141 career RBIs.
This spring, Lacy will have a chance at moving very high on the list of all-time AHSAA softball records, including: 1) single-season HBPs; 2) needs 12 hits to make the AHSAA record book for career hits; 3) she’s 26th all-time in the record book with 50 doubles; 4) needs just one home run to make the record book for career HRs; 5) needs just three RBIs to earn recognition for career RBIs.
VALLEY — Mrs. Phyllis Ellen Crowder, 59, of Valley died Friday, Nov. 21, 2014, at East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika.
Funeral services were held Sunday, Nov. 23 at 4 p.m. at Johnson Brown-Service Funeral Home Chapel in Valley with the Revs. Aaron McCullough and Chuck Anderson officiating. Burial followed at Hillcrest Cemetery in Lanett.
Johnson Brown-Service Funeral Home of Valley handled arrangements.
LaFAYETTE — Mr. Daniel Lee Williams, 64, of LaFayette died Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014, at East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika.
Funeral services are planned for Tuesday, Nov. 25 at 1 p.m. CST at Antioch Baptist Church in LaFayette with the Rev. Calvin B. Marshall, pastor, officiating. Burial will follow at the church cemetery.
Silmon-Seroyer Funeral Home of LaFayette is handling arrangements.