Top stories of 2008

Published 6:08 pm Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The year 2008 was a roller-coaster of a year for many people nationwide and in our area. It was a year highlighted by several negative stories, some of which had positive stories or perhaps less negative stories to follow.

Here is a listing of the top 10 stories from our area for 2008:

10. Gas price extremes: Nothing resembles the roller-coaster year like gas prices during the latter half of 2008. On June 17, The Demopolis Times showed a photo of gas prices at $3.919 per gallon. In December, they had plummeted to $1.419.

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9. Linden Lumber Co. layoffs: After dodging foreclosure in 2007, Linden Lumber Co. was bought by American Hardwood Industries on April 9, a move bolstered by the Marengo County Commission’s assistance that helped stop the foreclosure proceedings, allowing the company to find a buyer. However, the company still was forced to lay off several workers, including 125 on Nov. 20.

8. Governor tours New Era: On Oct. 8, Gov. Bob Riley toured the New Era Cap plant in Demopolis after learning that many of the baseball caps worn by Major League Baseball players were made in his home state.

7. Elections: Where do we begin? The Presidential election was one for the history books, as a record outpouring of voters took part. Locally, the mayoral races were on everyone’s mind, as Mike Grayson beat incumbent Cecil P. Williamson and Linden City Council member Mitzi Gates beat Charles Moore. Dr. Fred Sakon won the Myrtlewood mayor’s seat in a runoff election.

6. Dog-fighting ring broken up: Seventeen arrests were made during the last week of July in Linden as a dog-fighting ring was raided by the Marengo County Sheriff’s Department. The suspects were each charged with felony counts of dog fighting as well as possession of a controlled substance (powder cocaine).

5. Manuel resigns: Demopolis public safety director Jeff Manuel resigned his position on June 20. The Demopolis City Council named Sgt. Tim Williams as the interim police chief until one was named following the change of the council in November. Mayor Mike Grayson has announced that the city has 10 candidates that it will consider, and hopes to have a permanent police chief by the end of January.

4. Linden mayor dies: Linden mayor Ray Pascal “Pat” Vice passed away on June 17 at the age of 73 following a three-year battle with cancer. Alvin “Butch” King, the city’s mayor pro tem, filled the position until the August election.

3. Four homicides in Demopolis: The city of Demopolis experienced four murders in 2008, including one double-homicide on Nov. 13. On Feb. 16, Randy Douglas Warren was found shot to death in his Ash Street residence. That case is still under investigation. On Nov. 13, Henry Green and Ron Elmore were shot to death in front of a Decatur Street residence. Two suspects have been arrested and another is in custody. On Dec. 26, Fitsjerl Eugene Johnson was stabbed to death in a breezeway at Crossgates Apartments on U.S. 43 South. Debra Allen was charged with that crime.

2. Industry: CTCO Shipyard of Alabama LLC is scheduled to begin operation at the Demopolis Airport Industrial Park in January, helping to bolster employment and commerce in the area. Debra M. Fox, executive director of the Marengo County economic Development Authority, began work with a vengeance in May and has worked with county and civic leaders to help bring more industry and business to Marengo County.

1. Assistant coach arrested: Nathan Wesley Hallman, 24, an assistant coach with the Demopolis High School baseball and football teams, was arrested on March 19 on charges of second-degree rape and enticing a child for immoral purposes. His attempt to resign was denied by the school board, which later terminated him. In late August, he waived arraignment.