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July 27, 2017
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Lanett unveils design for downtown renovation project
Lanett unveils design for downtown renovation project

Phase One of Lanett’s downtown redevelopment will see some really attractive crosswalks and a very different triangle. The crosswalks will be made of concrete and stamped in a manner to resemble red brick. One will cross First Street in front of the First Christian Church and another will cross North Lanier Avenue on each side of the rebuilt triangle. (Photo by Wayne Clark)

By WAYNE CLARK

LANETT — Approximately 20 people with a business or office space in downtown Lanett met with members of the Lanett City Council Wednesday afternoon to discuss how the coming streetscape project will affect their businesses.

Mayor Kyle McCoy told the group that the work area would be a mess for a time but that it will be well worth it in the long run.

Work is about to begin on the first two phases on a three-phase project that will extend from the downtown area and along North Lanier Avenue to the Georgia state line at West Fourth Avenue in West Point. There will be some new crosswalks in the downtown area, a larger triangle with a refurbished fountain, new sidewalks, planters with small trees that extend slightly into the street and a number of decorative lamp posts with LED lighting. The lamp posts will display banners similar to the ones on the John C. Barrow Bridge in West Point.

The new look will be very similar to what’s already in downtown West Point. The lamp posts will be approximately the same height but will be black instead of green.

The city has 10 days to make any changes before the final bids are approved. Wednesday’s meeting was held to get feedback from downtown business people prior to the work getting started. “This is the time to tell us of any concerns you may have,” Mayor McCoy said.

Answering questions were Tim Kant, a horticulturist and former mayor of Fairhope, and landscape architect Scott Harris of Harris-Gray LLC, West Point. Both are serving as consultants on the project.

Construction is expected to last some 90 days. The Chambers County Highway Department will assist city workers in tearing up and removing what needs to be taken out for the new concrete to go in.

“We want to be finished before Christmas,” Kant said.

There’s a backup plan to have the downtown Christmas tree near the Jane Farrar Event Center in case the work is still going on around the triangle at that time.

Sandy Fitts of Norman’s Cleaners (just across the street from city hall) asked if there would be any traffic disruptions. “What should I expect for my customers?” he asked.

Harris said there would be traffic controls in place and that there would be places for people to park. “They will have to provide access for you,” he said.

“We will work with all property owners to keep this from being invasive,” Kant said. “The crews will be working pretty fast to get the concrete in.”

Attorney Curt Johnson asked if the work would ever stop traffic from coming down North Lanier. Harris said that would not be happening.

“It will look much like what you see in West Point,” Kant said of the project. “The triangle will be larger than it is now. The fountain will be taken out, refurbished and put back in.”

The triangle will be divided into two islands with a turn lane in between. The Bluffton-Lanett historical marker will be moved from its present location to the smaller island, or the tip of the new triangle.

The triangle will have grass instead of crushed red brick. The nearby crosswalks will look like brick but will be made of concrete that’s been stamped to look like brick.

Many of the water and gas lines that cross North Lanier will be relocated. Some of the lines in the downtown area have been moved to the back of the buildings. The relocation will avoid the necessity of digging up the street in the event repairs are needed to the lines.

Some of the power lines going to the buildings could be placed underground. Drainage along North Lanier will be improved as well.

The final step in the project will be to resurface North Lanier.

North Lanier will continue to have lanes that are 11 feet wide. That’s only one foot smaller than a lane on I-85.

Mayor McCoy commended the city’s water and gas departments. “They have been working several months to get ready for this,” he said.

“This will be a challenging period,” McCoy said of the coming construction. “It’s going to be torn up for a while, but we will get it fixed.”

“If we want to attract good, quality businesses to the downtown area we have to make it look attractive,” Kant said.

Fitts asked about the economic impact such projects have. “Everywhere this has been done in Alabama it’s attracted new businesses and property values have gone up,” Kant said. “Just look at what’s happened in West Point.”

As one example, commercial property that was going for $40,000 thirty years ago in Fairhope can now go for $500,000.

Shopping patterns have changed over the years. “If you are going to compete with Walmart you are going to have to have something different,” Kant said. “All studies have shown that downtown improvements benefit communities.”

Mayor McCoy asked the business owners to feel free to look at the architectural drawings that were on display and to ask questions about the project.

Fitts thanked city officials for having the meeting and for their efforts in trying to improve the appearance of the downtown area.

West Point millage rate will remain the same in 2017
West Point millage rate will remain the same in 2017

By CY WOOD

WEST POINT — The millage rate in West Point will be unchanged for 2017, but the city should realize $89,464 more in property tax collections over 2016.

During Tuesday’s work session of the Mayor and City Council, City Clerk Richard McCoy presented a summary of the city’s tax digest for consideration. City Hall staff is recommending that the city keep its 9.303-mill rate in effect.

McCoy’s report shows that the city’s gross tax digest actually contracted in 2017, falling to $345 million from $385 million in 2016. However, the net digest, after exemptions are deducted, actually increased by almost $10 million.

That means the city would collect $1,492,929 in 2017 with the same millage rate, $89,464 more than the city collected in 2016.

City Manager Ed Moon said because the digest did not increase due to reappraisals, the city is not required to hold any public hearings, as would have been the case had the increased revenue been derived from reappraisal increases.

The mayor and council are expected to approve the millage rate at the city’s Aug. 14 meeting.

The mayor and council will also be asked to approve the city’s participation in the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing. West Point would be teaming with Hogansville, LaGrange and Troup County in participating in the statewide effort to promote access to more affordable housing.

The city will provide $3,000 to cover travel expenses for the six committee members from the city who will attend the GICH’s required training sessions twice a year.

Moon explained that the committee will study the city’s housing needs and work through the organization to develop solutions.

Moon advised the mayor and council that the city had identified a grant for $750,000 that could be used in renovating the old West Point High School building.

Moon said the estimated cost of renovating the building, exclusive of the basement area, would be $2.8 million.

Moon said the city is already facility heavy and can’t realistically continue to add to what the city has maintain and operate. He said the city could look for ways to generate revenue from the building but otherwise it would not seem prudent to issue debt to cover the renovation.

Moon said there has been some discussion of an early childhood education program with Point University that might be considered for the building.

If the city is successful in getting the grant, that doesn’t mean the city would have to renovate the facility, he said.

In other action at the work session:

Ashley Crane, executive director of the Greater Valley Area Chamber of Commerce, gave a quarterly report to the city.

•WellStar Physician’s Office at 1009 Highway 29 requested the city extend permission to operate the office in a temporary building until Sept. 30, 2018. Jerry Fulks, president of WellStar West Georgia Medical Center, said in a letter the hospital is looking for a permanent location in West Point and stressed that WellStar wanted to remain in West Point.

•Were advised that amendments to the city’s zoning ordinance are being prepared to accommodate the opening of a microbrewery in downtown West Point. The changes will cover areas such as hours of operation, direct sales and the volume of growlers.

June unemployment rate edges up in Troup and Harris
June unemployment rate edges up in Troup and Harris

By THE TIMES-NEWS

ATLANTA — The unemployment rate in Troup and Harris counties inched upward in June as both counties had increases in civilian labor force and slight declines in employment.

Harris County’s unemployment rate rose to 4.7 percent from May’s 4.3 percent as the county lost 13 jobs (employment fell to 15,117) while the civilian labor force in the county rose by 46 to 15,857. Georgia Department of Labor reported 740 unemployed persons in the county, compared to 681 in May.

Troup County saw its unemployment rate rise to 4.9 percent from May’s 4.5 percent as employment in the county declined by 123 to 35,303 while the civilian labor force grew by 16 to 37,115. Unemployment in the county rose to 1,812 from 1,673 in May.

Both counties were among the 47 of Georgia’s 159 counties with unemployment rates below 5 percent.

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Valley, Beulah compete Thursday in OTAs
Valley, Beulah compete Thursday in OTAs

By Scott Sickler

Times-News Sports Editor

VALLEY — The Valley High Rams and the Beulah Bobcats will compete in various organized team activities (OTAs) Thursday morning at the VHS football practice field, Buster Daniel, Rams football coach, told The Times-News Tuesday.

The Rams-Bobcats skills workouts will take place from 10 a.m. to 12 noon ET, Daniel said.

The schedule is as follows:

•Devotion, warm-ups, fundy with cross coaching, 1-on-1s, half-field skelly, full-field skelly, 11-on-11 and offensive line vs. defensive line.

This is the first year as head coaches at their respective schools for Daniel at Valley and Flournoy at Beulah.

A 1983 Valley grad, Daniel has been at Opelika High for the last 22 seasons while Flournoy, a Smiths Station grad, has served at Central-Phenix City as well as Smiths Station

Valley opens the season with Lanett at home Aug. 25 while Beulah will open at home Sept. 1 vs. Spring Garden at Bobcats Stadium.

Physical, deep CA seeking another run for 1A title
Physical, deep CA seeking another run for 1A title

By Scott Sickler

Times-News Sports Editor

LaFAYETTE — The Chambers Academy Rebels enjoyed perhaps the greatest season in school history last fall and a last-minute, gut-wrenching, 34-33 loss to the Marengo Longhorns in the state finals is gladly past history and in the rear view mirror as coach Jason Allen’s squad looks to make another run this fall.

CA was one of three local schools to have scored over 600 points last year and they’ll be potent once again this season.

As we turn the page to the 2017 season, there’s absolutely no reason to weep for the Rebels as CA will once again field an excellent team.

Despite losing a terrific senior class, the Rebels have a lot of size, skill and perhaps more depth in the offensive line and backfield than they’ve ever had, Allen noted.

CA’s skill personnel played well last week in a 7-on-7 camp the Rebels played host to along with Springwood, Lee-Scott and Glenwood.

“It was a really good opportunity for us to get reps, not only in our pass game but also the defensive side,” Allen said. “The work we get done in 7-on-7 is invaluable to us in preparation for fall camp and really cuts down on us having to work on those things against ourselves. It was a good afternoon for all teams as their were no injuries and the weather cooperated for the most part.”

CA will have 6-7 players who can all see action in the backfield with a nice mix of power and speed.

High school football season opens August 17
High school football season opens August 17

By Scott Sickler

Times-News Sports Editor

Troup hosts Hardaway at Callaway Stadium Thurs., Aug. 17 in the 2017 high school football season opener in what promises to be another exciting season this fall.

Four of the seven local schools in The Times-News area qualified for the state playoffs last season, including three schools — LaFayette, Lanett and Chambers — all of whom scored over 600 points in record-setting seasons.

LaFayette and Chambers each won region championships last season and made playoff runs while Lanett and Troup both had excellent seasons.

LaFayette advanced to the AHSAA 2A quarterfinals while CA missed out on winning the AISA 1A state finals in a heartbreaking, last-minute 34-33 loss to Marengo at Troy.

Lanett made it to the AHSAA 2A semifinals for the first time since 1994 and gave eventual state champion Fyffe all they could handle at Morgan-Washburn Stadium.

Troup went from 1-9 to 8-3 and the No. 4 seed in the GHSA 4A state playoffs. The Tigers are loaded to have another terrific season with skill personnel on both sides of the ball.

Two schools — Valley and Beulah — have new coaches in Buster Daniel with the AHSAA 5A Rams and Cody Flournoy with the AHSAA 3A Bobcats.

Springwood's Thomas Hill welcomes back an experienced, physical offensive line as the Wildcats look for a turnaround season and AISA 3A playoff berth this fall.

It’s time to kick off the season.

Obituaries

Obituaries for Thursday, July 27, 2017
Obituaries for Thursday, July 27, 2017

MRS. CALHOUN

CAMP HILL, Ala. — Mrs. Mary Calhoun, 91, of Camp Hill died Tuesday, July 25, 2017, at her residence.

Funeral services will be held at Jeff Jones Funeral Home in LaFayette at 3 p.m. CDT Friday, July 28 with the Rev. James Calhoun officiating. Burial will follow at the Mt. Zion Baptist Church Cemetery.

Jeff Jones Funeral Home in LaFayette is in charge of arrangements.

MR. FETNER

ROANOKE, Ala. — Mr. Alan “Doodle” Fetner, 60, of Roanoke died Wednesday July 26, 2017, at LaFayette Nursing Home in LaFayette.

Graveside services will be held Thursday, July 27 at 2 p.m. CDT at Mt. Zion Christian Church Cemetery in Roanoke with the Rev. Johnny Bishop officiating.

Jeff Jones Funeral Home in LaFayette is in charge of arrangements.

MR. HOLT

COLLINSVILLE, Ala. — Mr. Kenneth Jerome “Jerry” Holt, 66, of Collinsville, formerly of Chambers County, passed away Tuesday, July 25, 2017, at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Birmingham, Ala.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, July 29 at noon EDT at Pine Grove Church on Highway 29 in Lee County with the Rev. Robert Rhodes and the Rev. Mark McCarty officiating.

Johnson Brown-Service Funeral Home of Valley is in charge of arrangements.

MINISTER JACKSON-LEWIS

LANETT — Minister Alice Faye Jackson-Lewis, 74, of Lanett passed away Sunday, July 23, 2017, in Phenix City, Ala.

Funeral services will be held Friday, July 28 at Eagles Nest Cathedral at 2 p.m. with Apostle Melvin A. Cartwright, pastor, eulogist, Bishop Donald Lancaster, Bishop Bryant Lancaster, Pastor Connie Hall, Bishop-elect Bertha Hodge and Pastor Willie G. Wimberly officiating. Burial will follow at Greenwood Baptist Church Cemetery.

M.W. Lee Mortuary of West Point is in charge of arrangements.

Obituaries for Wednesday, July 26, 2017
Obituaries for Wednesday, July 26, 2017

MR. ENGLAND

BROOKS, Ga. — Mr. Raymond E. England, 82, of Brooks passed away Friday, July 21, 2017, at Southern Regional Medical Center.

Visitation with the family of Raymond E. England will be held Saturday, July 29 from noon until 1 p.m. at Conner-Westbury Funeral Home.

Following the visitation a memorial service will be conducted at 1 p.m. in the Chapel of Conner-Westbury Funeral Home. Brother Mark Worster will officiate.

Conner-Westbury Funeral Home, 1891 W. McIntosh Road, Griffin, Ga., is in charge of the arrangements.

MRS. TAYLOR

OXNARD, Calif. — Mrs. Lura Dell Taylor, 82, of Oxnard, formerly of Camp Hill, died Wednesday, July 12, 2017, in Oxnard.

Funeral services will be held at New Canaan Missionary Baptist Church, 26403 Veterans Memorial Parkway, Camp Hill Thursday, July 27 at 1 p.m. CDT with the Rev. Justin Freeman officiating. Burial will follow at the church cemetery.

Vines Funeral Home in LaFayette is in charge of arrangements.

Obituaries for Tuesday, July 25, 2017
Obituaries for Tuesday, July 25, 2017

No obituaries were reported today.

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