Year in Review

One could say 2013 was a year for a fresh start as the President of the United States began a new term as did several local and state office holders.

January 2013

On Jan. 3, Mitchell Guice was sworn in as the newly-elected superintendent of the Cherokee County Board of Education.

Guice brings 28 years of experience to the job. He taught Industrial Arts for the Opelika City Board of Education for two years and was an Agri-Science instructor with the Tuscaloosa County Board of Education for eight years.

According to Cherokee County Sheriff Jeff Shaver, a domestic violence situation ended in an apparent suicide in Cedar Bluff Saturday evening, Jan. 5.

A call was received at approximately 3 p.m., Shaver said, from a woman reporting that her husband had struck her in the face with a handgun and had also shot at her. Cedar Bluff Police responded to the residence on Summer Place Road. Further investigation revealed that the 23-year-old man had apparently shot himself.

A host of friends, family members, colleagues and loved ones gathered in the Cherokee County Administration Building t honor Cherokee County Commission Chairman/Probate Judge Melvyn Salter who completed his term of office in 2012.

“This is a great occasion for us,” said Cherokee County Administrator Tim Burgess. “We want to honor Judge Salter. He has been a mentor, he has been a great leader to us and we just want to take this opportunity to thank him. He has his family here today and we are so glad they could be with us.”

YEAR from 1A

January 2013 (cont.)

It was good news for the city of Centre in early 2013 when the city received another clean audit report for Fiscal year 2012-2013. Forrest Frost reviewed the audit with Mayor Tony Wilkie and council members.

“It is a pleasure to work with you again this year,” said Frost.

“I know it has been tough, finances have been tough, but I think the city does a marvelous job of controlling their budget. That is why you don’t have a lot of debt you have to worry about paying back.”

The Cherokee County Board of Education, in January, approved the certified transfer by agreement of Brett Keasler from math teacher at Gaylesville School to director of the Cherokee County Career and Technical Education/Principal at Cherokee County Career and Technology Center. The board approved the transfer upon the recommendation of Superintendent Mitchell Guice.

The Cherokee County Herald in January moved from its former location, 107 West First Ave., Centre to 1460-E West Main St. in the Piggly Wiggly Shopping Center. The Herald was pleased to welcome customers to its new location.

The Investiture Ceremony of Circuit Judge Shaunathan C. Bell of the Ninth Judicial Court of the State of Alabama took place in January.

Opening remarks and welcoming statements were made by the Honorable Michael L. Brownfield who is a Federal Administrative Law Judge of the United States.

Also in January, Kirk Day was officially sworn in as Cherokee County’s Probate Judge at the Cherokee County Courthouse. Tim Burgess, Cherokee County administrator, addressed the crowd and welcomed everyone to the ceremony. He then recognized all local officials who were in attendance.

Cherokee County Sheriff Jeff Shaver, in January, began seeking input from the community on how best to ensure school safety for local students. During a meeting of the Cherokee County Board of Education, Shaver announced his intention to form a committee composed of educators, public officials, parents and others and asked for the board’s participation.

A group of local citizens ventured to Washington, D.C. to watch history being made as President Barack Obama officially took his oath of Office as part of Inauguration 2013. Ethel Carson first made the trip in 2008 and felt privileged she had the opportunity once again to witness the nation’s commander-in-chief being sworn in.

“We left out Saturday evening, Jan. 19 from Gadsden to D.C.,” said Carson. “I thank God that I was fortunate enough and I won’t give out the name of the person that gave me a ticket so that I could go see the inauguration. I thank God for that. And it was just unbelievable.”

The Centre Lions Club, in January, paid tribute to more than 90 deserving local students as part of its Sixth Annual John L. Ellis Sr. Youth Leadership Forum held in the community room of Gadsden State Community College-Cherokee. Centre Lions Club President Norbert Falk recognized some of the many special guests in attendance, which included city council members, mayors and other prominent figures and also the principals and guidance counselors who accompanied the students to the forum.

Because of an increasing caseload, the Centre City Council, in January, approved creating a second investigator position for the Centre Police Department. The council, upon the recommendation of Centre Police Chief Kirk Blankenship, approved posting the new investigator position and also the full-time patrolman position.

Governor Robert Bentley announced on Jan. 22 plans to further streamline and better coordinate state-level law enforcement services, a move that he felt would leave to stronger public safety and greater government efficiency.

Previously, more than 20 state-level agencies and departments had various law enforcement functions. By improving coordination between those agencies, the Governor’s plans were made to help minimize redundancies in administrative functions and focus more resources on strengthening the law enforcement services delivered to the public.

February 2013

Students and faculty in the career and technical education programs in Cherokee County celebrated Alabama Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month on Feb. 1-28. This year’s theme was Career and Technical Education Works!

The month-long celebration emphasized the role of career and technical education in the future career success of students and its importance to their academic achievement. Along with February being CTE Month, FCCLA Week was Feb. 10-16 and FFFA Week was Feb. 16-23.

“We invite everyone to find out more about the courses offered at the Career Tech Center and career tech courses offer through the Ag and Family and Consumer Science programs in the county schools,” said Brett Keasler, Career and Technical Education Director for the Cherokee County School System.

In February, a reception was held for Debbie Bankson who retired as chief clerk for the Cherokee County Probate Judge’s office after 35 years of service to the county.

“I am thankful I have had the opportunity to work for the county for 35 years,” said Bankson. “There’s a lot of good memories, a lot of good friendships. It is just time to go.”

Alabama Career and Technical Education Month continued. Instructor Larry Walker who teaches engine performance, electronics, steering suspension, brakes and repair at Cherokee County Career and Technology Center shared his role with students in learning a future career.

“We have a program the state pays for,” said Walker. “I can assign one student to engine repair, another to engine performance and another one on brakes, whatever they are enrolled in this semester. This course takes them through step by step. It is not just introductory there is some advance level stuff they can also get to help them prepare for the hand on part.”

The Cherokee County Board of Education, in February, approved an agreement with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office to provide an extra law enforcement presence in local schools. The board agreed to help with overtime pay for deputies who perform extra duties.

The Leesburg Town Council approved reinstating the police officer reserve program.

Police Chief Lanny Ransum said the program should be up and running as soon as applications, training and qualifications would be evaluated.

The cost would come from workers comp, and the reserve officers would not have arresting powers. The reserve officers have to provide their own shirt.

Cherokee Medical Center hosted a special reception to honor some of its outstanding employees including Josh Garmany, director of plant operations/safety/security who was named Division One Non-Clinical Manager of the Year by parent company Community Health Systems; Clemmie Gardner, R.N. Infection Control Coordinator who was honored as a Hospital Hero by the Alabama Hospital Association and Becky Smith, RN, who was chosen as Clinical Manager of the Year.

Marie Williamson, cosmetology instructor, Cherokee County Career and Technology Center, shared what her program offers for local students as part of Career and Technology Month. According to Williamson, the Cosmetology Program at Cherokee County Career and Technology Center is a three-year program giving students the opportunity to earn 500 hours of training per year.

“Our program is the only one in the state that has completers,” explained Williamson. “What that means is that after they are with me for three years, they can go ahead and take their state board and go work in a salon. And that is good because a lot of students may not have the opportunity to go to a secondary school.”

The Centre City Council agreed to contribute $1,000 toward the CED Mental Health Center SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) Conference scheduled to kick off Wednesday, March 6 in the Gadsden State Community College-Cherokee Arena.

The conference, according to Nancy Steed and Rebecca Garner who made the request on behalf of CED, would involve all seventh and eighth grade students in the Cherokee County School System who would travel to Gadsden State Community College-Cherokee by bus that morning and back to their individual schools that afternoon. Steed said they would provide breakfast, lunch and a snack for the students during the day.

The Cherokee County Board of Education in February approved a low bid of $38,895 from Technical Training Aids, Inc. for a Robot Training Cart and Certification Program for the Electrical Technology Class at Cherokee County Career and Technology Center.

Kim Nichols reflected on the collision repair technology program at Cherokee County Career and Technology Center and how the training can provide students with the skills necessary to make a good living during Career and Technology Month.

According to Instructor Nichols, students can become completers after two years and have the option for a third year.

“We do everything from the older vehicles to the newest things,” said Nichols.

“Just look around the shop you will see there are older cars, newer cars, we’ve got a variety of vehicles that we have been working on. I usually average around five or six completers. This year I am going to have nearly 20 completers because I have a lot of third year students.”

The Centre City Council approved revised polices and procedures to accommodate up to 10 reserve police officers to fill the city’s safety needs. The city would be responsible for providing liability insurance and also the uniforms/clothing for the officers. According to Centre Police Chief Kirk Blankenship, who started out in a law enforcement as a reserve deputy himself, said these officers are required to qualify each year with handguns and are also free to attend training classes which the regular police officers attend.

At the request of the Cherokee County Library Board, the Cherokee County Commission agreed to promote Elaine Henry to library director with a two step promotion and wage increase and agreed to appoint Henry as acting director at her current salary plus 5 percent of that amount and to post openings for the positions of director and assistant director of the Cherokee County Public Library.

The Cherokee County Career and Technology Center Construction Technology program continue to equip interested students with the skills they need for the future. According to Instructor Ricky Witt, the program at CCCTC is a two-year program, which offers students the option to completed a third year if they desire.

“We cover the basics of safety on construction jobs,” said Witt. “Then after we get that covered, we go into the shop and we start covering a little more in depth on the building. And we are also covering masonry now with the NCCR Curriculum.”

March 2013

SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) in partnership with CED Mental Health Center kicked off its tri-county conferences in early March at the Gadsden State Community College-Cherokee Arena in Centre. The conferences were held at schools in Cherokee, Etowah and Dekalb Counties.SADD has been around for more than a decade and is aimed at education young adults and preventing issues such as substance abuse, bullying and mental health from becoming larger problems.

To give students and teachers more minutes in the classroom in an ever-changing school environment, the Cherokee County Board of Education voted to adopt a Modified Block Schedule to a Traditional Block Schedule, which will become effective for the 2013-2014 School Year. During a meeting of the board, Dewayne Pierce, coordinator for curriculum and instruction for Cherokee County Schools, said moving back to the traditional four-period block schedule would ensure less disruption than some of the other alternatives.

The Cherokee County Commission, in March, met with David Savage of Pioneer Green Energy and Evan Morgan of Constantine Engineering who discussed with commissioners the possibility of doing ecological and artifact studies along the right of way for the proposed windmill project.

Also with them was Bill Jones, a local resident who serves the project as a consultant. The commission will revisit this at a subsequent meeting as more information becomes available.

Todd Hindsman with Hindsman-David P.C. gave the yearly audit report for Cedar Bluff in March stating “the town received an unqualified opinion which is the highest rating that an accounting firm can give.”

What started out as a Christmas Miracle for Centre First United Methodist Church and the community has apparently gone year-around thanks to the continued support of an anonymous benefactor. In March, more than 200 church volunteers provided meals, Easter baskets and games for more than 200 families as part of Easter Eggstravaganza 2013.

Several Cherokee County residents remained without power in March after storms rolled through the area bringing lightning, heavy winds and hail. While trees and power poles were snapped throughout the county, fortunately no serious injuries were reported.

The Cherokee County Board of Education, in March, approved one of the most “compact” school calendars in the history of the school system. The newly designed calendar for 2013-2014 was a result of requirements made by the Alabama Legislature, which mandates that students and teachers attend 180 days per school year and also the starting date and ending date for the school year.

The Cherokee County School System honored its Best of the Best during the 2013 Annual Teacher Recognition Banquet held in the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce meeting room on the campus of Gadsden State Community College-Cherokee in March.