2013 Year in Review

Published 9:46 am Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Demopolis native sets American powerlifting record

Demopolis native Ray Williams made a name for himself at the Alabama Powerlifting State Championship on Saturday, Feb. 23 in Mobile. In only his second powerlifting competition, Williams, who weighs 361 pounds, set a new U.S. record for the raw 275-pound plus division with an 860-pound squat.

African choir performs, children visit John Essex while traveling country

The Watoto Children’s Choir from Uganda made a stop at John Essex High School in March during their six-month tour of the United States.

The Watoto Children’s Choir from Uganda performed at John Essex High School in March as well as Demopolis First United Methodist Church.

The Watoto Children’s Choir from Uganda performed at John Essex High School in March.

The show the choir performed is called “Beautiful Africa: A New Generation.”

Each of the children in the choir has suffered the loss of their parents, either through disease or war, and they now live in one of the Watoto childrens villages, which have a total occupancy of 2,700 children.

Demopolis says goodbye to former Mayor Austin Caldwell

Former Demopolis Mayor Austin Caldwell passed away on Saturday, March 24 at DCH in Tuscaloosa. He was 86.

In February 2013, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement award during the Chamber Celebration. Said the Rev. Art Luckie of the mayor from 1985-2004: “He was a gentleman. He was also a gentle man. He was a man of honesty integrity, character, faith and humility.”

Caldwell is heavily credited with building the city’s financial reserves. The SportsPlex and the Ravine in Demopolis were built during his tenure.


Hospital to keep Labor Unit, Whitfield CEO says there are no ‘short-term solutions’

Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital’s board voted to keep its labor and delivery unit open after an almost four hour-long meeting April 25.

“We are going to try to do everything we can to keep it open, while we contnue to work on mid-range and long-range solutions,” said hospital CEO Mike Marshall.

At a meeting earlier in April, Marshall stated that the hospital was losing $400,000 to $500,000 per year on labor and delivery. The losses stem from a higher percentage of births that are Medicaid or indigent care.

“It’s gotten harder and harder to support programs that have high Medicaid or indigent populations,” Marshall said. “(Concerning Medicaid), we get paid less than our cost providing the service.”

Commissioner arrested but grand jury doesn’t indict

Marengo County Commissioner Freddie Armstead Sr., and his son, Freddie Lee Armstead Jr. were arrested April 1 on five counts of first-degree theft of property.

The charges stemmed from vehicles taken from the Marengo County Sheriff’s Office impound lot.

A Marengo County grand jury decided in June 2013 to not take the case to trial.

In a press release from the law firm of Gibbs & Sellers, Armstead said he had a $2,292 check for the cars mailed to Sheriff Richard Bates after they were weighed.


Four of a Kind, Marengo Academy champs again

For the fourth straight year, the Marengo Academy Lady Longhorns Softball team were AISA state champions.

Seniors on the team were Katie Tucker, Taylor Barley, Reesa Holifield, Carole Ann Gunter, Alexia Johnson and Marti Breckenridge

Wreck Claims Student’s Life

Demopolis High School student and football player, Cody Webb, lost his life May 10 on Highway 43 in a two-car accident involving a log truck.

Head football Coach Tom Causey reflected on Webbs’ character, “He was a Christian who spread his faith by his actions and the way he lived his life. He never saw adversity, he just only saw opportunity.”

Miss Demopolis High Pageant is held

The Demopolis High School Anchor Club helped host the annual Miss Demopolis High pageant in May 2013. The winners are as follows: Peoples Choice Award, Victoria Webb; Miss Congeniality, Ashley Thomas; fourth runnerup, Katelyn Beshears; third runnerup, Madelyn Couch; second runnerup, Victoria Webb; first runnerup, Alexandra Poole; and Miss DHS 2013 Victoria Washburn.

Demopolis High School Graduation

One hundred forty-one students graduated on May 24, 2013.

Class president Sutton Aiken opened the ceremony with a prayer. Followed by the salutatory speech by Alexis Jones, in which she reflected on the groups’ road to graduation.

Jones also won both the Dr. James I. Bell award, given to a female student based on character and leadership, and the Balfour Award, which is based on scholarship, achievement and loyalty.

The Tommy Brooker Award, given to a male based on character and leadership, went to Brock Montgomery.

The “I Dare You” award, given to both a male and female student, went to Aiken and Tucker Jones.

Valedictorian Chance Martin also reflected on the class’s journey from Westside through graduation in his valedictorian speech, “We will never forget our most interesting teachers,” he said. “We feel that we are old and wise but we still have so much ahead of us. We all want to achieve excellence.”

More than 10 arrested in counterfeit check ring

The Demopolis Police Department arrested 10 Greensboro individuals the last week in May in an alleged counterfeit check scam. According to authorities, the Demopolis Walmart filed a complaint after the fake checks were cashed. The suspects allegedly would present forged State of Alabama checks at Walmart to be cashed. The checks weren’t real but rather printed off a home printer.