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September 20, 2014
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Despite loss of arms and legs, art remains Guinn's passion
Despite loss of arms and legs, art remains Guinn's passion

Becky Guinn (at center), a former art teacher at Valley High, was the guest speaker at this week's meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Valley, held Monday evening at San Marcos Restaurant in Valley. Around 12 years ago, Mrs. Guinn overcame the loss of her hands and feet to continue her love of painting and teaching art to high school students. She did so with prosthetic devices she learned to master. Mrs. Guinn retired from the Chambers County system in 2007 but still inspires youth to express themselves artistically though a grant-funded program. She and another former VHS teacher, Becky Cairnes, have teamed up to have integrated art and science classes all over the state. They reach an estimated 2,000 Alabama school children every year. Mrs. Guinn likes to kid with them that she's the perfect person to get them "hooked" on art. Above, Mrs. Guinn, her husband David (at right) and program chairman Sam Bradford (left) display some paintings Mrs. Guinn has done in recent years. (Photo by Wayne Clark)


VALLEY — On Monday of this week, former Valley High teacher Becky Guinn talked about her love for art and continuing to teach it to young people after having overcome a severe disability. Guinn was the guest speaker at Monday's meeting of the Valley Lions Club.

She was accompanied by her husband, David, and brought with her some recent paintings she's done.

In the early 2000s, Guinn nearly died during the replacement of a heart valve. She had an allergic reaction to a blood thinner. With the medication having the opposite effect – making the blood thicker rather than thinning it – Guinn flat lined a couple of times and at one point was given only a five percent chance of making it.

She survived that close scare but, tragically, lost both her hands and feet. For a 14-year art teacher, losing one's hands is a devastating setback but if there was any way Guinn could be fitted with artificial limbs and go on doing what she loved to do she would do that.

It was a complicated procedure to receive prosthetic hands and to learn how to use them, but Guinn was determined to do that. She won that battle and went back to the classroom at Valley High, teaching art seven more years before retiring in 2007.

There was a problem with that, though. "I wasn't ready to stop when I retired," she told the Lions Club members.

She found a way to continue painting and sharing her love of art with children through a grant-funded advocacy position with the Alabama Art Education Association. She teams up with another former VHS teacher, Becky Cairns, to travel the state, reaching as many as 2,000 children a year with some novel integrated science and art classes.

They've also done their program outside the state and before groups of English as a Second Language (ESL) students. Art has a way of speaking for itself, overcoming all language barriers.

Guinn and Cairns are in their fifth year of doing the program.

Kids sometimes stare at Guinn's artificial hands and ask "What happened to you?" She explains the health crisis she went through, encouraging them to realize that people can overcome such setbacks and to find a way to keep doing what they love to do.

She kids with them that she can't high-five them anymore but that she'd love to "high two" them.

Guinn says she's never forgotten having a young boy tell her that he'd never be as good an artist as her because he had hands, not hooks.

"They're really cute," she says of the children she meets. "I've really enjoyed going to the different schools. We didn't know what we were getting into."

Guinn and Cairns are now meeting a lot more children than they thought they would when they started the program. At first, they thought they'd meet maybe 500 school kids in a year's time. They saw that many in one day recently in Florence, Ala.

The children that day learned what gorgets were, how Native Americans wore them around their necks and then tried their skill at making them.

Whenever she meets with children Guinn shows them how her hooks work. "They are body powered," she says. "You learn to pick things up and to do delicate tasks like opening up straws."

"My brain doesn't know I don't have hands and feet," she says.

Guinn travels from place to place in an unusual looking van. "The kids love seeing it," she said. "They like crazy stuff, like a van with art pictures all over it. We're having a good time doing this. It's a positive experience for the kids."

With her hooked hands, Guinn had to learn how to paint an entirely new way. "You have to learn new techniques, new ways of doing things," she said. "It's challenging, but rewarding."

In a recent session at Bayside Academy in Daphne, Ala., Guinn painted four different art works featuring flowers, explaining to the children it was like doing finger painting with a brush. That got started by one child in the back yelling out "Paint a rose!"

"I sometimes come home all covered in paint," Guinn says. "The kids love the talking part of the program."

In showing a painting she recently did of a soccer ball being kicked, Guinn said it took three days for her to do it, working an estimated four to six hours each day. "I'm a lot slower than I used to be when I had my hands," she says.

Guinn likes to call her programs Hooked on Art. "They get it when I raise my hands," she said. "When we started it, I had no idea this program would have had the impact it's had or would last as long as it has. I'm pleased to have been able to do this. When I lost my hands they kept telling me that art was in the heart, not in the hands. That's so true."

Guinn says that what she has overcome its nothing compared to what a man from Fairhope, Ala., has done. The man was a pen and pencil artist before losing his eyesight in an accident. He's somehow learned to overcome that and to still produce really good works of art. "He's fantastic," Guinn says. "Tt shows that if you have a dream and are passionate about it you can make it happen."

Becky's husband, David, jokes that he's the "Vanna White" of the couple, displaying her works of art in the way the Wheel of Fortune hostess displays items.

A sports chaplain for the Olympics, David will be in Brazil in a couple of years when The Games are in Rio de Janiero. He recently had hip replacement surgery. "I've been joking with her that we are now the bionic couple," he says. "I tell her that she's getting a new husband one joint at a time."

David says he loves going to the Olympic Games. "All the world comes together once every four years," he says. "There's an opportunity to share the Gospel with people from over 200 countries, some of whom have never heard it before."

Small towns can't avoid gangs and gang violence
Small towns can't avoid gangs and gang violence


WEST POINT — Gangs and gang violence pose one of the biggest problems law enforcement officials face on a daily basis across the U.S., but it’s also an issue locally in the West Georgia and East Alabama area, according to Ray Ham, a certified gang investigator and one of a five-member Special Investigations Unit for the LaGrange Police Department.

Speaking before members of the West Point Lions Club Wednesday at Riverside Country Club, Ham detailed the multitude of problems associated with gang and gang-related violence.

He said it’s important to identify the problem and combat the many issues of gang violence.

Ham said it’s not just a national problem but also a local one as well and he and various other law enforcement officials in the two-state area are united and meeting the many challenges and combating the problems head-on.

“A lot of kids who get into gangs have had no parental guidance,” Ham said. “They’re looking for a place to belong. Many of these kids grow up on the streets. They’re what we call CATS (Criminal Addictive Thinking). There’s a problem in the USA. Let’s face it, a lot of these kids come from homes that are broken.”

Ham said it’s important to try to reach the kids early on or if they’re already involved, counsel them to help them get on out and live a responsible, crime-free life.

Ham said he’s spoken to 37 different school groups and approximately 2,200 kids on educating youngsters on the dangers of gang-related issues.

Working with kids for the better part of 25 years, Ham says it’s a tough problem but he and others in law enforcement are committed to tackling the issues of gang violence and crime.

The numbers of those involved in gang activity across the nation are a lot more than most people think, Ham noted.

“There are 1.4 million gang members in the USA,” Ham said. “That’s more than the standing USA Armed Forces right now.”

FBI figures, Ham noted, said there are gangs in every community in the USA with a population base of at least 10,000 or more people.

From 2009-11, the FBI, Ham stated, started a street gang threat assessment and revealed more startling numbers.

About 56-90 percent of all violent crimes are committed by street gang members, Ham said, and two out of three of all violent crimes — approximately 60 percent — are those in or associated with gang activity.

To help combat the problem, the Troup County Counter Gang Activity Unit was started in 2013 on which Ham works full-time on gang activities.

Troup BOE approves purchase of new school buses
Troup BOE approves purchase of new school buses


LaGRANGE — During a brief Troup County Board of Education meeting, board members discussed school bus purchases, the removal of buildings, a possession of weapons ordinance reading and replacing a roof at one of its schools.

The Georgia Department of Education has provided bond funds for bus purchases for the 2014-2015 school year and Superintendent Pugh recommended that the board approve a purchase order of $640,852 for five 84-passenger buses and one special education bus from Yancey Bus Sales and Service of Macon, Ga.

The school system, he explained, will receive $463,320 from the state.

"The balance, $177,532, will be funded by SPLOST IV (special purpose local option sales tax) funds totaling $177,532," he said. "The buses will replace six older units and upgrade the overall fleet."

The last bus purchase was in October 2014, when five buses were purchased.

A motion to purchase the six buses was made and seconded and was unanimously approved.

Pugh made a recommendation to the board that the three buildings of the old Center School, located at 4864 West Point Road, be demolished.

The buildings include the school building, gym and a house building.

He explained that the buildings are no longer used for educational purposes and have fallen into disrepair.

"They have been used for storage for the past several years, but are no longer necessary for our storage needs," Pugh said.

The board had previously approved the budget for the demolition of the facility in the Ethel Kight project.

The cost to tear down the old school will be $149,475 and will include asbestos abatement of the building before demolition begins.

Freeman and Associates will handle the job.

Board members also approved a motion to replace the roof at Berta Weathersbee Elementary in LaGrange, at a total cost of $47,167.

The cost will include the removal of 5,000 square feet of asbestos-containing roof materials.

Board members held the first reading of a board policy concerning weapons in schools.

It points out that the school system's policy prohibits all people, licensed or otherwise from bringing or possessing weapons on any school property, as well as any building owned of leased by the board of education, including administrative buildings and facilities or school buses or other modes of transportation.

The policy applies during school hours, as well as non-school hours and applies to all persons, students, teachers administration or others.

It includes pistols, revolvers, any weapon designed to propel a missile of any kind, bowie, switchblade, ballistic or any other type of knives, straight-edge razors, razor blades, spring sticks, knuckles made form metal, thermoplastic, wood or similar materials, blackjacks, bats, clubs or other bludgeon-type weapons, flailing instruments such as nun chucks, chains, or pointed blades, as well as any other type of weapons.

The superintendent announced that Oct. 20 - 24 will be School Bus Week.

The board also approved the final June financial report and approved the August financial report.

Personnel recommendations were approved, as well.

Sports Sports icon 1 Sports icon 1 Sports icon 1 Sports icon 1

Troup falls in 43-41 shootout to 5A G.W. Carver
Troup falls in 43-41 shootout to 5A G.W. Carver

By Times-News Sports Staff

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Twelve touchdowns, 961 yards in total offense and it all came down to point-after attempts as Carver High edged Troup 43-41 Thursday night at Memorial Stadium.

It was a game for the record books. Both teams scored six touchdowns as both had offenses that were clicking on all cylinders. Troup scored three times on the ground and three times through the air. Carver had four rushing TDs and two passing.

Outstanding individual performances were numerous. Carver’s Nate Barley had nine receptions good for 198 yards and two scores. Troup’s Dexter Shealey rushed for 113 yards and a score. Two other Troup backs, Mess Bonner and Cameren Russell had more than 90 yards rushing and a touchdown each.

It was a night of big plays. Troup’s passing touchdowns came on plays of 56, 76 and 27 yards. Its rushing TDs came on runs of 74, 56 and 62 yards. Carver had a 76-yard passing TD and a 53-yard rushing TD.

Troup had two turnvovers, one a meaningless one on a fourth-down pass into the end zone at the end of the first half. Each team fumbled the ball away in a hectic fourth quarter.

Carver led most of the game but could never put away the visiting Tigers.

For such a high scoring affair, the first quarter of play was relatively mild. Troup put the ball in play at its own 37 after the opening kickoff and quickly drove into Carver territory with two rushing first downs. The drive stalled at the Carver 32 after a procedure penalty and a fumbled snap slowed the Tiger momentum.

Carver ran three plays, including a fumble, and punted to the Troup 11. Troup ran three plays and a short punt gave Carver good field position at its own 46.

From there the homestanding Tigers moved 54 yards in six plays, overcoming a 10-yard illegal block penalty, to score.

The big play in the drive was the first of Barley’s nine receptions, good for 36 yards down to the Troup 28. Carver picked up another first down by drawing Troup offsides on a fourth-and-three play, and two snaps later quarterback Jawon Pass hit Barley for a 12-yard TD pass. Xi Jacobs kicked the point-after and Carver held a 7-0 lead with 59 seconds left in the first quarter.

The offensive tempo picked up thereafter.

After returning the ensuing kickoff to its own 33, Troup moved 67 yards in four plays for a score. Most of that yardage came on a 56-yard scoring toss from quarterback Will Smith to Dexter Shealey. Michael Young’s PAT kick was just about a foot wide of the uprights, leaving Troup trailing 7-6 with 10:31 left in the second quarter.

Carver came back with a quick strike of its own. The Tigers moved from their own 23, following a face masking penalty, to the Troup end zone in two plays, all but one yard in the drive coming on a pass from Pass to Barley good for 76 yards. Jacobs’ PAT attempt was blocked, leaving Carver ahead 13-6 with 9:33 left in the quarter.

Two plays later, Troup was back in the Carver end zone and tied the game.

The Tiger drive got off to a good start with a 15-yard penalty against the Carver band, which was playing while Troup was trying to call signals.

The penalty yardage didn’t matter, because two snaps later Mess Bonner got loose in the Carver secondary and rambled 56 yards for a score. Young’s PAT kick knotted the score at 13-13 with 7:58 left in the half.

The Troup defense was able to contain Carver on its next possession and forced a punt to the Troup 26. Two plays later Troup took the lead.

After an incomplete pass on first down from the Troup 26, Cameren Russell took the inside handoff and darted 74 yards for a Troup TD. Young kicked the point-after, and Troup led for the first time in the game, 20-13 with 5:15 left in the half.

That lead would not hold. Carver answered with a six-play, 62-yard drive that featured a 40-yard pass completion to Barley. That pass put the ball at the Troup 12, and on third-and-one from the three, Isham Alexander went in for the score. Alexander then ran a two-point conversion to give Carver a 21-20 lead with 2:46 left in the half.

Troup had time for another first-half score after the ensuing kickoff gave the Tigers the ball at their own 41. Troup picked up a couple of first downs on the ground to reach the Carver 30, but the Carver defense stiffened and on fourth-and-eight from the Carver 28, a halfback pass by Shealey was intercepted in the end zone with one second left in the half.

After a high-scoring first half, spectators could hardly have expected even more offensive fireworks in the second half, but they got them.

Carver received the opening kickoff and returned to its own 40. Two plays later Alexander ran 53 yards for a Carver TD. Darius Love ran the two-point conversion, and with 11:21 showing on the third quarter clock, Troup was suddenly two scores behind, 29-20.

The Troup offense could get nothing going on its first possession of the second half and punted on fourth-and-four from its own 36. Carver went three-and-out on its next possession, punting to the Troup 17-yard line.

Troup ground out three first downs with the rush to reach the Carver 46 before Smith hit Travis Johnson with a 46-yard scoring strike. Young added the point-after kick, and Troup had cut the lead to 29-27 with 1:55 left in the third quarter.

Carver came back to score on the first play of the fourth quarter, culminating a seven-play, 56-yard drive. Carver mixed the rush and the pass effectively in the drive with Barley’s 15-yard reception the only big play of the drive. Pass got the TD on a one-yard plunge, the two-point conversion failed, and Carver led 35-27 with 11:52 left in the game.

Disaster struck on Troup’s next possession as the Tigers fumbled the ball away at their own 38, and Carver took advantage of the turnover.

Six rushing plays moved the ball into the Troup end zone with Alexander getting the score on a one-yard run. Pass then passed for the two-point conversion to Barley, and Carver led 43-27 with 7:42 left in the game.

The Tigers were down but not out. On the first play after the kickoff, Shealey rambled 62 yards for a Troup score. He then ran a successful two-point conversion, and Troup had cut the Carver lead to 43-35 with 7:12 left in the game.

Carver had a chance to ice the win on its next possession, driving all the way to the Troup two-yard line before fumbling the ball away.

That gave Troup the ball at its own four-yard line with 2:46 left in the game. A personal foul call against Carver got Troup 15 yards, and then Troup wedged out a first down on the ground to its own 31. Smith then hit Tremayne Tolbert with a 42-yard completion down to the Carver 27, and on the next play hit Tolbert with a 27-yard completion for a touchdown.

With 1:28 left in the game, Troup had a chance to tie the score with a successful two-point conversion. The Tigers ran right but the play was stuffed, and the score stood at 43-41. Carver ran out the clock for the win.

Troup, after losing on consecutive weeks to 5A opponents, has a 2-2 record for the season. The Tigers entertain Callaway High next Friday at Callaway Stadium.

Springwood JV blasts Lakeside 44-6
Springwood JV blasts Lakeside 44-6

By Scott Sickler

Sports Editor

LANETT — The Springwood Wildcats junior varsity football team clicked on all cylinders Tuesday evening as coach Alan Watkins squad rolled to a big 44-6 win over the visiting Lakeside Academy Chiefs.

Christopher Lancaster led the Wildcats offense with 136 yards on just eight carries and scored on an 80-yard run on the first play from scrimmage.

Lancaster had three TDs in the win.

Andrew Davis tacked on a 48-yard scoring run and tossed a 52-yard scoring strike to Lancaster.

In addition, Harrison Spivey added a 66-yard fumble recovery scoop and score for Springwood.

Wyatt Albertson scored on a punt return for the Wildcats as well.

Defensively, Albertson led the way with six tackles while Kyle Campbell tallied five stops.

Jonathan Davis recorded two tackles and a forced fumble.

Big games on tap this week for local teams
Big games on tap this week for local teams

By Scott Sickler

Sports Editor

LANETT — If the Lanett Panthers are going to win back-to-back region titles for the first time since claiming four straight from 1992-95, a road win over region rival Woodland Friday will be a must.

Coach Clifford Story’s team (2-2, 1-1) is coming off a stunning 49-35 loss last week to region rival Ranburne High Bulldogs.

If Lanett is going to defend its region championship from a year ago, they’ll need to win out with Woodland, Randolph Co., LaFayette and Reeltown still left in 2A-Region 5 play.

The pressure is on Lanett and look for a senior-laden Panthers team to answer the challenge Friday.

Depending on what Ranburne does, Lanett may also need help to claim an all-important region championship.

•In other high school action this week, the Valley Rams host 7A Smiths Station, the Springwood Wildcats entertain AISA 1A Cornerstone Christian, and the Troup Tigers play the 5A Carver Tigers Thursday at Memorial Stadium in Columbus.

Coach Marshon Harper’s Valley Rams are looking to get back on the winning path Friday and it won’t be easy against a strong Smiths Station team at home.

Valley fell last week to Chelsea in its homecoming game 43-20 but the Rams will have to put together its best game of the season Friday in order to win.

Coach Thomas Hill and the Springwood Wildcats kept its postseason hopes alive last week after an impressive 48-14 win over Northside Methodist of Dothan.

The Wildcats host Cornerstone Christian Friday in a non-region contest as Springwood hopes to continue to build confidence and make a run in region play and earn a playoff berth.

Coach Lynn Kendall and the Troup Tigers dropped a hard-fought 28-21 game to Harris Co. last week and the schedule doesn’t get any easier this week as well in facing the 5A state-ranked Carver High Tigers Thursday at Memorial Stadium.

The Tigers ground game has been outstanding as it was last season when Troup ran for well over 3,000 yards.

In just three games this season, Troup has 763 yards rushing and nine running TDs.

Troup will need to play its best game of the season to upend a solid Carver team Thursday.

•In other games Friday, Beulah hosts Fultondale, LaFayette plays at Ranburne and Chambers hosts Lowndes Academy.

Coach Jarrod Wooten and the Beulah Bobcats picked up a huge 12-0 region win on the road last week at B.B. Comer.

It was just what the Bobcats needed to be rewarded for all their hard work with a big region victory.

Beulah will have its hands full this week against a very strong Fultondale team.

“Fultondale is probably right there with Montgomery Academy as the top teams in our region,” Wooten noted. “They are extremely athletic and physical. We have a great plan but we must be able to execute it on Friday night,” said Wooten.

“We’re working and improving daily,” says Wooten. “Fultondale is a team with lots of speed and that creates matchup problems. They have become a great program going back to Ardarius Stewart and his younger brother is on the team now making big plays. They took Lanett down to the last second in the playoffs last season and I expect them to play with a lot of confidence. We will have to contain their speed and keep the ball away from their offense.”

At LaFayette, coach James Lucas and the LaFayette Bulldogs are looking to get over what was a disappointing shutout loss last week to region rival Horseshoe Bend.

The Bulldogs have got to get its offense in gear as they did in a 35-0 season-opener win over Loachapoka.

LaFayette will have a tough task ahead of them with a game at Ranburne Friday.

Ranburne defeated No. 5 Lanett on the road last week 49-35.

Coach Jason Allen and the Chambers Academy Rebels earned its first win and a big region victory over Ashford on the road last week 40-15.

The win kept CA in the 1A postseason hunt and gave the team a much-needed confidence boost.

The Rebels host Lowndes Academy Friday at Torbert Field.


Obituaries for Friday, September 19, 2014
Obituaries for Friday, September 19, 2014


OPELIKA — Mr. Nicholas "Nick" Christian Sr., 70, of Opelika died Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014, at his residence.

Funeral services are planned for Saturday, Sept. 20 at 10 a.m. at River View First Christian Church in Valley with Pastor Frank Rittenberry officiating. Burial will follow at Fairfax Cemetery.

Johnson Brown-Service Funeral Home of Valley is handling arrangements.


AUBURN — Funeral arrangements are pending for Ms. Dominique E. Jackson of Auburn, formerly of Lanett, who died Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014, at her residence.

Funeral services and survivors to be announced by Davis Memorial Mortuary of Valley.

Obituaries for Thursday, September 18, 2014
Obituaries for Thursday, September 18, 2014


OPELIKA — Funeral arrangements are pending for Mr. Nicklaus Christian, 70, of Opelika, who died Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014, at his residence.

Johnson Brown-Service Funeral Home of Valley is handling arrangements.


ATLANTA — Ms. Margaret A. Clark, 69, of Atlanta died Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014, at Crestview Health and Rehab Center in Atlanta.

Funeral services are planned for Friday, Sept. 19 at 11 a.m. CDT at Silmon-Seroyer Funeral Home Chapel in LaFayette with the Rev. Douglas Jones officiating.

Silmon-Seroyer Funeral Home of LaFayette is handling arrangements.


VALLEY — Mrs. Betsy A. Ford of Valley died Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014, at her residence.

Funeral services will be held Sunday, Sept. 21 at 3 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Lanett with the Rev. Ronnie Jordan officiating. Burial will follow at Hillcrest Cemetery in Lanett.

McCarthy Funeral Home of West Point is handling arrangements.


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