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BOE hears concerns over U.S. Jones, coach

Voices of concern were heard Monday as members of the community addressed the Demopolis Board of Education on changes being made at U.S. Jones Elementary School as well as issues concerning the Demopolis Middle School boys’ basketball team.
Represented by District 1 Marengo County Commissioner Freddie Armistead and Dr. Milton Young, graduates of U.S. Jones High School showed up to show their concern for the future of the building.
In his address, Young said he had heard rumors about the historic structure such as a potential name change, the boarding up of windows and making it a career technical center.
Young then asked if there are any alternatives to changing U.S. Jones and finding common ground.
Superintendent Kyle Kallhoff stated, “There’s never been a proposal to change any names. That’s never been a proposal and will not happen while I’m superintendent here. I’ll never make that recommendation to the board.”
Kallhoff also dismissed the notion there had been plans to board up windows at the building, stating that has not been discussed.
The superintendent then highlighted the 2016-2017 capital plan has been an ongoing process for months, including hosting several public hearings for community input stemming from the strategic plan and how to manage facilities moving forward the next 30 years.
“Just because we’ve approved a capitol plan doesn’t mean we’re breaking ground tomorrow. Funding is a big thing that has to take place,” Kallhoff said.
To conclude the discussion, the superintendent said he’d like to schedule a community meeting to discuss in greater detail the capital plan and receive input from members of the community. He said he would coordinate the effort with Commissioner Armistead. The meeting wouldn’t take place until January 2017 at the earliest.
Armistead highlighted that the old New Era building on Cedar Street is available to be renovated and used by the system and the city would be willing to aide in that process.
Heather Wilson appeared in front of the board on behalf of the parents of the DMS boys’ basketball team in hopes that former coach Jesse Bell Jr. could be reinstated as the team’s coach.
Wilson said that she, other parents, and the players’ would like to see the coach return to the position. Wilson read a letter expressing those thoughts to the board.
Bell was arrested in June 2016 and charged with second degree possession of marijuana and a charge of obscenity and was placed on paid administrative leave. Those charges have since been dropped and Bell was reinstated as a physical education teacher at DMS, but not as a basketball coach.
Charles Jones is currently the head coach of the DMS squad as well as the high school junior varsity team.
No action was taken on the matter.
Other business matters discussed at the board meeting will be highlighted in the Saturday, Nov. 19, edition of the Demopolis Times.