2007 Year in review

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 7, 2008

Compiled by Kelli Wright/ The Demopolis Times

The indictment of Demopolis Mayor Cecil P. Williamson, th closing of Southern Pride Catfish, massive layoffs at Linden Lumber and the retirement of longtime Demopolis City School Superintendent Dr. Wesley Hill were the top stories of 2007.

The following is a highlight of 2007&8217;s top news stories by month:

JANUARY

BOE approves athletic complex After months of debate, the Board of Education for Demopolis City Schools approved a plan to build a new athletic complex on part of the land at the current Demopolis High School. The complex will be built using both state issue bond funds and also a 20 year financial commitment from the board.

FEBRUARY

On Feb. 8, Demopolis Mayo Cecil P. Williamson was indicted on two charges of theft of property in the first degree related to accusations she had received health benefits dating back to 2004 that were not approved by the city council. Williamson turned herself into the Marengo County Sheriff&8217;s Office on Feb. 9 and was released on $2,000 bond &045; which was set at the lowest amount because the authorities did not consider her a flight risk. After pleading not guilty to both charges, Williamson was later granted two trial continuances and the case is still pending.

Demopolis resident, Boyd Duckett, became the eighth Bassmaster Classic rookie ever to win the title when he competed in the Classic held in Birmingham. He also became the first angler in 36 years of Bass history to win a competition in their home state.

MARCH

More than 150 people lost their jobs on March 31 with the close of the Demopolis Southern Pride Catfish plant, which decided to consolidate their operations. Some employees were offered hourly wage positions at their Greensboro location, but many were laid off completely with the change.

Wayne Vickers was named the superintendent of Demopolis City Schools following the retiring of Dr. Wesley Hill, who had been with the system for 30 years.

APRIL

Tom Causey, who previously coached at Andalusia High School, was chosen from among the over 40 applicants for the titles said Demopolis High School principal Isaac Espy. Espy said Causey and four others were chosen from the field of applicants to come to the school for an interview and at the end of the day Causey was deemed the best fit for the school and program.

MAY

A train carrying fuel cells for a space shuttle derailed in rural Marengo County, bringing rescue workers from three counties and the state to the scene.

JUNE

The Forkland community was rocked when a bus crash in Kentucky injured several residents and claimed the life of Carrie Walton.

JULY

Back-to-back fires raise the summer temperatures. One fire destroyed two houses on East Jackson Street. The second fire burned a polishing pond at the closed Southern Pride Catfish plant.

AUGUST

After a contentious battle over past controversies, the Demopolis City Council hired Ronnie Few as the city&8217;s next fire chief. Few was originally hired by a unanimous decision and survived a recall vote by a 3-2 margin.

The Marengo County Commission approved a $7 million bond issue as a loan to Linden Lumber to stave off foreclosure and save 425 jobs.

SEPTEMBER

The Demopolis City Schools pursue the former location of West Alabama Prep as a possible means of alleviating overcrowding at elementary and high schools. The deal would later break down after WAP stockholders declined the school district&8217;s offer.

OCTOBER

The Marengo County Commission asks for blanket resignations from members of the E-911 Board. The move came after months of complaints about the lack of a quorum at board meetings.

NOVEMBER

County officials joined with municipal leaders to create the Marengo County Economic Development Authority. The authority is charged with recruiting new business and creating jobs in Marengo County.

DECEMBER

The Forever Wild Land Trust agrees to purchase a portion of the Farqhar Cattle Ranch from the state. The ranch was closed by the state in an effort to make the Department of Corrections more financially solvent.

Southern Academy and Sweet Water High School claim state championships. This was Southern Academy&8217;s fourth consecutive title. It was Sweet Water&8217;s second consecutive title and third in four years.