Cherokee County Health and Rehabilitation Center began the year with good news, announcing a 24-room addition, increasing the number of private rooms by a total of 48 to help the facility meet increased requests for single-resident living quarters, said Administrator Cindy Cline. The expansion cost $1.2 million.
With an earlier primary in March, campaigning began in late December and was in full swing by January as Incumbent Brian Johnson, a Democrat announced plans to seek re-election. Dewandee Neyman, a Democrat and incumbent on the Cherokee County Board of Education Place Four, announced plans to seek re-election. Newcomer Mark Green, a Republican, also announced plans to run for the Place Four Board of Education post.
Soon other candidates announced their plans to run, including Incumbent Dewayne Amos, a Democrat, who ran upopposed for Cherokee County Circuit Clerk; Suzanne Bishop, a Democrat, who ran for Cherokee County Board of Education Place Three; Ben East, a Republican, who ran for superintendent, Cherokee County Schools; Brett Keasler, a Democrat, who ran for superintendent, Cherokee County Schools; and Tony O’Neal, a Republican, who ran for Cherokee County Commission Chairman/Probate Judge.
The Cherokee County Board of Education, in January, adopted a resolution honoring Team Cherokee, the local robotics team, which placed first in state competition and advanced to international competition in St. Louis in April.
More candidates announced plans to run for office including Kirk Day, a Republican, for Cherokee County commission chairman/probate judge; Sid Garrett, a Democrat, for Cherokee County commission chairman/probate judge; Trudy Lowe, for Cherokee County Board of Education Place Four; Kimball Parker, a Democrat, for Cherokee County Commission Chairman/probate judge; Wade Sprouse, Democrat and incumbent who sought re-election to the Cherokee County Commission Place One and Elbert St. Clair, Democrat and incumbent who sough re-election to Cherokee County Commission Chairman Place Three.
The Cherokee County American Legion Post 62 launched a new program in the winter 2012 to honor first reponders including firefighters and law enforcement officers. The first ceremony was held in the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce headquarters on the campus of Gadsden State Community College-Cherokee.
“This is our first appreciation and recognition for our local people that work for our benefit, our safety and our well-being,” said Alabama District 13 American Legion Commander David Hartline.
The City of Centre in the winter of 2012 received another glowing report on its finances.
“I would like to commend you again,” noted Auditor Forrest Frost to Mayor Tony Wilkie and council members. “The economy is tough and as tough as everything is, you are managing your finances well.”
Two more candidates were added to the roster of local political candidates for 2012, including Shaunathan Bell, a Republican, for Cherokee and Dekalb County Circuit Judge Place One and Don Stowe, a Democrat, who sought re-election to the Cherokee County Board of Education.
The Cherokee County Juvenile Court, at the direction of District and Juvenile Court Judge, the Honorable Sheri W. Carver, was awarded a grant for $204,000 by the Alabama Department of Youth Services in early 2012.
The grant funded the Saving Teens At-Risk (STAR) Adolescent Day Program in Cherokee County to serve youth who have been charged with delinquent offenses. This program provides a remedy for minors who once may have been placed elsewhere in the state by the court because they could not receive the services that they needed locally.
On Jan. 31, 2012, Gail and Marty King, Sharon Freeman, Larry Smith (ALTOTA), Jim Hotalen, David Crum and Jim Lewis met with timberman Gene Todd at the intersection of Cherokee County Roads 95 and 99 near Alpine, Ga. to plan for tree removal and to inspect the general area for an archaelogical dig.
Sharon Freeman applied for a grant on behalf of the Alabama Trail of Tears Chapter and received $15,000 from the Alabama Historical Commission for the study of two sites connected with Cherokee Indian removal in 1838.
Randall Cole, a Democrat and incumbent, announced plans to run for re-election as circuit judge for Dekalb and Cherokee Countys. Randy Jones, a Republican, announced his candidacy for Cherokee County Commission District One.
A huge number of friends, aquaintenances and family members gathered for the funeral of Mary Coffey Wood who passed away Jan. 31. Following Mrs. Woods final wishes, Civil War re-enactors, Sons of Confederate Veterans members and others gathered at the Coffey Family Cemetery in the Blanche area of Cherokee County for a Confederate Memorial Service in Mrs. Wood’s memory.
George Wallace Jr., son of former Alabama Governor George Wallce came to town for a booksigning in early February following the release of his new book, Governor George Wallace: The man you never knew by the man who knew him best, his son, George Wallace Jr. The booksigning was held at the Cherokee Historical Museum.
A good crowd attended the event which included a slide show presentation by Wallace who also shared both humorous and serious moments from his father’s time in office.
Local Attorney Marcie Foster announced her plans to run for Cherokee County Commission District Three in February.
Lilly Ledbetter, who became know around the world because of her battle with Tire Magnate Goodyear over pay inequities between men and women, addressed the Cherokee County Democratic Party in February. It was because of her efforts that President Barack Obama signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Act.
The Jacksonville State University Gospel Choir performed during Traditions, a Black Histroy program held on the campus of Gadsden State Community College-Cherokee in February. PUSH Ministries, which involves local students, also participated in the program.
Geraldine Stitts, a local citizen, recalled that the black citizens of Cherokee County provided their children with an education to the best of their abilities in the early 1900s.
The church, she said, has always been the center of the community. They built their churches to provide a place to worship God because God was first in their lives.
Carolyn Landrem, president, Weiss Lake Improvement Association, met with the Cherokee County Commission in February and informed the commission about grant monies they had received. The WLIA set out plans to hold pump out workshops at Broomtown, Leesburg and Gadden State Cherokee. At these workshops 60 vouchers were given out to have residential septic tanks pump or repaired which were approved by the health department.
First Lt. Adam Cochran who served as chaplain for the First 131 Aviation Assault Helicopter Battalion, Alabama National Guard, presented New Prospect Number Two Baptist Church with the American Flag which flow over their area of opeartiosn in Iraq. During the unit’s deployment from April 15 through Dec. 15, 2011, members of New Prospect continuously sent care packages, prayers and other means of support to the soldiers.
Linda Archer, a Republican, announced her candidacy for Cherokee County Board of Education Place Three.
In March, voters went to the polls for the primary election and overwhelmingly approved continuation of the one-cent sales tax to assist with local school system expenses. At press time with 24 of 26 boxes counted, the vote was 3,871 in favor of the tax to 1,716 against it.
The Cherokee County Commission implemented the one-cent sales tax in the summer of 2011 to save the Cherokee County Career and Technology Center from closure.
For Superintendent of Education, Challenger Brett Keasler ousted Incumbent Brian Johnson by a vote of 1,561 to 1,053 in the Democratic race. IN the Republican race, Mitchell Guice was the winner with 1,677 votes to Ben East’s 1,138.
For Cherokee County Commission chairman/probate judge, Sid Garrett won the Democratic race by a vote of 1814 to 798 for Kimball Parker. In the Republican race, Kirk Day was the winner with 2,055 votes to Tony O’Neal’s 771.
In the Cherokee County Board of Education races, Suzanne Bishop defeated Incumbent Don Stowe by a vote of 1,647 to 955 in the Place Three Democratic race. On the Republican side, Linda Archer defeated Randy Hunter 1,201 to 1,184.
In Place Four, Incumbent Dewandee Neyman defeated Challenger Trudy Lowe by a vote of 1,318 to 1,277.
For Cherokee County Commission, Lanny Starr defeated Incumbent Elbert St. Clair in District Three by a vote of 1,438 to 1,203 in the Democratic race.
In Place One, Incumbent Wade Sprouse had no Democratic opposition.
The Cherokee County Board of Education, in February, interviewed four cabdudates fior the principal position at Gaylesville School. The position was vacated by Paul McWhorter who retired earlier in the year.
Candidates interviewed included Brian Clowdis, a language teacher at Gaylesville School; Rashida Dupree, a kindergarten teacher at Centre Elementary School; Scott Hays, assistant principal at Gaylesville School and Barry Peppers, a teacher in the Chattooga County, Ga. School System.
Following the primary election, Brian Johnson, superintendent, Cherokee County Schools, took a few moments to rextend his appreciation to those who have supported him during the past two terms.
After a four day review of schools, district governance and 400-plus interviews of educators, parents, students and community members, the AdvancED Quality Assurance Review Team recommended full district accreditation for Cherokee County Schools in March.
The external review team provided the district with four commendations and three required actions.
The community grieved for Dr. Clark Smeltzer, a former local physician, who passed in March 2012. He was described as a “doctor, fisherman and hunter who loved the Everglades and often said that he had a wonderful life. He was an interesting and smart man who loved everyone he knew but never met a strangers.
Dr. Smeltzer was a graduate of the Webb School of Knoxville, the Unvierstiy of Tennessee and the University of Tennessee Medical School in Memphis.
Members of the Cherokee County High School Girls Softball Team and the Cherokee County High School Boys’ Baseball team joined forces for the second time in March on the CCHS Athletic fields, for the Annual Hitting for a Cure event to raise funds and awareness about cancer. With the girls clad in pink and the boys clad in blue, the girls won 4-1 over Southside and the boys lost to Cleburne County 7-0. All were proud once again, however, to strike another blow against cancer.
Three citizens met with the Cherokee County Commission in March concerning a proposed sewage ordinance to help clean up Weiss Lake. These included Dr. Brian Perry, a local physician; John Bundy, superintendent, Little River Canyon National Preserve and Larry Wills, a local citizen.
The Cherokee county Board of Education, in March, officially named Scott Hays as principal of Gaylesville School. Hays, who previously served as assistant principal at Gaylesville School, was one of four candidates who interviewed for the position.
U.S. Senator Richard Shelby visited the area in March, making a stop at Three Style Pizza in Leesburg to hear concerns from local citizens. Shelby touched on energy, rising gasoline prices, the every growing national debt and other concerns during his visit.
The Centre City Council, in late March, began the process of declaring at least 15 dilipatidate structures in the city limits as nuisances and voted to notifiy owners of the structures they had 45 days to respond and either repair the structures or demolish them.
City Building Inspector Mark Welsh showed the mayor and council photos of the structures located throughout the city including Tol Street, South River Street and Bay Springs Road among others.
The Utilities Board of the Town of Cedar Bluff was notified that it earned the Silver Risk Management Award to be presented at the 2012 Annual Convention of the Alabama League of Municipalities in Birmingham May 21.
The Children’s Advocacy Center of Cherokee County once again partnered with local mauors to proclaim April as Child Abuse Awareness Month 2012. The ceremony was held at the CAC headquarters, 203 North River St., Centre.
Members of the CAC Multidisciplinary Team each presented some of the latest statistics on chuld abuse, demonstrating how they work together both on the front lines and behind the scenes every day to handle abusive or potentially abusive situations and that combating child abuse has to be a combined community effort.
COMING IN NEXT WEEK’S CHEROKEE COUNTY HERALD: More highlights of 2012.