Eastside students take part in KidCheck Plus program

 Over 140 Eastside Elementary students took part in a free health screening program last week at the school. The free screenings were part of Sight Savers America’s KidCheck Plus program. At Eastside, the program partnered with nursing students from Southern Union to provide head to toe screenings. KidCheck was created in 2008 by then Gov. Bob Riley’s Rural Action Commission. It now operates under the non-profit umbrella of Sight Savers America. District 13 Senator Gerald Dial was on Riley’s Rural Action Committee when the program was started and he was on hand at Eastside to see the program in action. Along with Dial (center), KidCheck COO Chad Nichols (right) attended the Eastside screening, and both praised the statewide program.

Over 140 Eastside Elementary students took part in a free health screening program last week at the school. The free screenings were part of Sight Savers America’s KidCheck Plus program. At Eastside, the program partnered with nursing students from Southern Union to provide head to toe screenings. KidCheck was created in 2008 by then Gov. Bob Riley’s Rural Action Commission. It now operates under the non-profit umbrella of Sight Savers America. District 13 Senator Gerald Dial was on Riley’s Rural Action Committee when the program was started and he was on hand at Eastside to see the program in action. Along with Dial (center), KidCheck COO Chad Nichols (right) attended the Eastside screening, and both praised the statewide program.

Students at Eastside Elementary got a check-up last week. Sight Savers America’s KidCheck Plus program, an award-winning children’s free health screening program in Alabama, conducted free head to toe health screenings for more than 140 kindergarteners through fifth graders at Eastside on Wednesday.

KidCheck partnered with Southern Union State Community College’s nursing students to administer the health screening, which included examinations of height and weight with BMI, vital signs, chest and abdomen, ears, eyes, nose, throat, skin, musculoskeletal system, vision, hearing and dental. Thanks to a grant from the Verizon Foundation, the program uses wireless technology, and at the end of the screening, a Parent Report Form is generated for each child. The report shows each test performed and any problems discovered. They are sent home to parents and kept on file at the school.

The KidCheck program was created in 2008 by then Governor Bob Riley’s Alabama Rural Action Commission. In 2011, KidCheck was moved from the state government to Sight Savers America, an Alabama-based nonprofit, with the full support of Governor Robert Bentley’s Administration including the Governor’s Alabama Rural Development Office and the Alabama Department of Education. KidCheck helps to build partnerships between interested school systems and college nursing schools. College nursing students administer KidCheck, under faculty supervision, and receive practical experience and valuable clinical hours.

KidCheck Plus COO Chad Nichols said that over 100 screening events in Alabama take place each year and he hopes that number will continue to grow. He said that on average approximately 30,000 children receive free screenings each year.

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Jobless rate falls to 7.1%

After two consecutive months with an increase, Chambers County’s unemployment rate dropped in the month of March. The Alabama Department of Labor announced that the county’s preliminary unemployment rate for last month was 7.1 percent, down from February’s revised rate of 7.6 percent. The rate one year ago for Chambers County was 7.3 percent.

The numbers for March in the county represent 1,059 unemployed individuals. Chambers County had 1,118 unemployed in February. Last months’ employment was up to 13,779 compared to 13,682 in February. The county’s civilian labor force also increased in March to 14,838 from 14,800 in February.

Chambers County ranked 43rd out of Alabama’s 67 counties in unemployment. The county’s average ranking for 2013 was 32nd.

Chambers fared well compared to neighboring counties. Randolph County’s unemployment rate was 7.3 percent in March, ranking 39th in the state. Tallapoosa County ranked 17th with a rate of 8.9 percent. Clay County’s rate was 8.1 percent, ranking 27th and Macon County had a 9.7 percent rate, ranking 13th in the state. Lee County had the second lowest unemployment in the state at 5.7 percent.

Chambers County’s rate was slightly higher than the state as a whole. For March, Alabama’s unemployment rate was 6.7 percent which is above February’s rate of 6.4 percent, and above March 2013’s rate of 6.6 percent. March’s rate represents 144,628 unemployed persons, compared to 137,232 in February and 141,015 in March 2013.

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LaFayette Day raises over $12,000 for Valley Haven

The weather was perfect and the crowds were large for the 17th annual LaFayette Day for Valley Haven. Over $12,000 was raised to help support Valley Haven's Hike/Bike/Run fundraiser.

The weather was perfect and the crowds were large for the 17th annual LaFayette Day for Valley Haven. Over $12,000 was raised to help support Valley Haven’s Hike/Bike/Run fundraiser.

The 17th annual LaFayette Day for Valley Haven took place on Saturday and organizers are calling this year’s event “the most successful LaFayette Day yet.” Record crowds and beautiful weather highlighted a day in which over $12,000 was raised toward this year’s goal for Hike/Bike/Run for Valley Haven School.

This year’s event saw maybe the biggest turnout ever, with an estimated 1,000 people taking part.  Event organizers continue to be amazed and appreciative of the incredible participation by the LaFayette community.

“I really believe it was the best one ever,” LaFayette Day Co-chair Lyn Oliver said. “Everything was just amazing. We had so much of an outpouring of support. Everything was just so much bigger from the crowds to the vendors. It truly was amazing.”

“It was a great day with an amazing turnout,” Co-chair Craig Brown said.  “I can’t thank the people of LaFayette, the volunteers and vendors enough for making the 17th annual LaFayette Day for Valley Haven one of the best ever. And we are already looking forward to next year for the 18th edition of LaFayette Day.”

For 17 years LaFayette Day has been able to make a sizeable contribution to the Hike/Bike/Run fundraising campaign, which is Valley Haven’s single biggest source of local support.  Many employees and clients of Valley Haven were on hand for Saturday’s festivities and they, along with the other patrons, had plenty to keep them entertained. The day featured dozens of food and craft vendors, musical entertainment and kids games and rides.

The Annual Hike/Bike/Run Motorcycle Ride was part of Saturday’s festivities. It started at the Georgia/Alabama state line and ended at LaFayette Day. Approximately 40 riders took part in this fun event.

The LaFayette Day Antique Car Show also had record participation, with nearly 70 vehicles taking part in the event.

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Council tackles dog issue again

Dogs were once again a topic of discussion at Monday night’s LaFayette City Council meeting. The issue has been brought up several times in the past by members of the council, in particular by Councilwoman Tammie Williams. Monday night, LaFayette residents Margaret and Calvin Miller were on the agenda to discuss their issues with loose dogs.

Mrs. Miller said that one of her neighbors has pit bulls and they often go free and come into her yard. “If I’m outside, I can’t run. I’ve had knee replacements, and I can’t get out of the way of the dogs,” she said. “I don’t know whether they’ll bite me or what.”

Miller said that she had gone to court about the dogs and the neighbor was told to keep them put up. But, she said, the dogs continue to roam free.

“The city has a leash law and it needs to be enforced,” Miller said.

Councilman Terry Mangram said that the council had discussed the issue time and time again and it was time to do something to make the citizens feel comfortable. “Not only can the elderly people not get out of the way, but children cannot get out of the way,” Mangram said. “If they start to attack, they’re going to attack. We’ve got to step up and do something to show the citizens that we mean business.”

Williams said she had been talking about this issue for over a year and will keep doing so until something is done. “No one should have to be in fear to go outside because of dogs,” she said. “It’s awful and someone’s going to get hurt.”

Councilman Mike Ellis said that the city needed to get someone properly trained and certified to handle the dogs.

Mangram agreed, but said that it’s not just about the person who catches the dogs, it’s about the citizens who disobey the laws. He asked that a work session be called immediately to address the situation. The council agreed and a work session was set for Tuesday at 5 pm in City Hall.

The council unanimously approved Resolution No. 2014-04-14-01 at the meeting. The resolution authorizes the submission and commitment of local funds to apply for a Transportation Alternatives Grant. The city’s grant writer Louise Campbell explained to the council that the grant could be for as much as $400,000 and would require a 20-percent match from the city. She said the grant funds would be used to rework the city streetscape around the downtown square. That includes replacing and repairing sidewalks, creating handicapped access ramps, replacing lighting and creating areas for landscaping.

Also at the meeting the council voted not to use the wrecker services of Best 4 Less Towing, located in Opelika. Public Safety Director Kenny Vines said that the company had a good record but he had some concerns about their distance from LaFayette. Williams also noted that their rates were extremely high. The city will continue to use the services of just two wrecker companies.

Mayor Barry Moody commented that the turnout for LaFayette Day on Saturday was outstanding and he offered thanks on behalf of the city for all those that participated and volunteered to make the event a success.

Sheriff’s Office to host Special Needs Rodeo

The Chambers County Sheriff’s Department has announced that they will host the First Annual Chambers County Sheriff’s Special Needs Rodeo on Thursday, May 8 at the Chambers County Agricultural Park here in LaFayette.

Sheriff Sid Lockhart said the rodeo is not an event where the general public can participate, but is for students, teachers and organizations that care for individuals with special needs. The general public is invited to attend and support the event.

The rodeo will include activities such as face painting, a mechanical bull, pony rides, music and more.

Lockhart said that his office will feed all the participants at no cost and that any individuals, churches or organizations that wish to help or volunteer should contact Major Mike Parrish at the Sheriff’s office.

The event will begin at 8 am CST on May 8.The day after the Special Need’s Rodeo, the annual Sheriff’s Rodeo will begin. It will take place on May 9 and 10 at the Chambers County Agricultural Park.

LaFayette Day is Saturday

After months of planning and preparation the 17th annual LaFayette Day for Valley Haven is finally here. On Saturday, April 12 hundreds of people will fill the courthouse square for one of the city’s biggest events. Dozens of vendors and numerous musical acts will be on hand for a day that’s purpose is both to celebrate the city of LaFayette as well as to raise funds for Valley Haven School.

LAFAYETTE DAY IS SATURDAY. The 17th Annual LaFayette Day for Valley Haven is coming up this Saturday, April 12th on the courthouse square here in downtown LaFayette. This year’s LaFayette Day for Valley Haven will include lots of family activities such as arts and crafts, kids rides and games, a big yard sale, antique and classic cars and trucks, a motorcycle ride, fun, food, barbecue, musical entertainment, and many other activities. Remember you’ll be helping your community support a great cause and you’ll have a great time too. LaFayette Day begins at 8 am CST and ends at 3 pm. Above is a scene from last year’s LaFayette Day celebration.

The 17th Annual LaFayette Day for Valley Haven is coming up this Saturday, April 12th on the courthouse square here in downtown LaFayette. This year’s LaFayette Day for Valley Haven will include lots of family activities such as arts and crafts, kids rides and games, a big yard sale, antique and classic cars and trucks, a motorcycle ride, fun, food, barbecue, musical entertainment, and many other activities. Remember you’ll be helping your community support a great cause and you’ll have a great time too. LaFayette Day begins at 8 am CST and ends at 3 pm. Above is a scene from last year’s LaFayette Day celebration.

Starting at 8 am CST, LaFayette’s streets will come to life in what is sure to be an exciting day. The event has continuously grown since its inception. LaFayette Day was started in 1998 with the intentions of allowing the city of LaFayette to have a unique contribution to Valley Haven’s annual Hike/Bike/Run campaign. Since its inception, LaFayette Day has been able to provide a sizeable contribution to the campaign and that contribution has grown each year. The very first LaFayette Day raised just over $2,000 for Valley Haven, while the 2013 event raised nearly $10,000.

Valley Haven is an independent, non-profit organization that is designed to help the community meet the needs of its infant and adult citizens with special needs. Each person served is supported in ways that suit the individual’s strengths and learning style. Valley Haven currently offers skilled training to 120 people ranging in age from 3 months to 75 years, and is known throughout the state as a model and a strong advocate for the best services for people with special needs.

“Hike/Bike/Run started as a small fundraiser to supplement the local match for Valley Haven,” LaFayette Day Co-chair and Valley Haven teacher Craig Brown said.  “It has now grown to be the single biggest source of local support for Valley Haven, and with LaFayette Day, many more people have been able to help Valley Haven School. The reason for the continued growth of Hike/Bike/Run and LaFayette Day is that people want to be a part of helping Valley Haven.”

LaFayette Day’s hallmarks are the many food and art and craft vendors that line the streets around the courthouse. But that’s not all the day has to offer; there are numerous aspects of the event that make it so special and unique.

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April 9, 2014 | Posted in: Local, News | Comments Closed

Industrial projects could bring 400 jobs

Chambers County Manager John Dendy told members of the Chambers County Commission’s Rules, Ways and Means Committee that revenues are less through the first half of this fiscal year that they were at this time a year ago. Dendy said there was a slight increase in ad valorem taxes collected, but that other tax revenues are down.

Ad valorem taxes collected so far in this fiscal year totaled $2,394,996.77 compared to $2,390,332.34 last year. In contrast, other tax revenues, including rental taxes, beer taxes, cigarette taxes, lodging taxes, mortgage and deed filing taxes, West Point Lake patrol fees, solid waste disposal fees, felony and misdemeanor fees, worthless check fees and cable franchise fees, are down more than $170,000 from those collected last year. At this time in 2013, total collections were at $3,690,084.54 compared to the current collections of $3,519,376.61. The biggest drop was seen in solid waste disposal fees, which were down $29,000 from this time last year.

Dendy said he wasn’t trying to signal an alarm, but said that some figures were hard to understand. He noted the lodging tax, which was down $4,300 compared to last year, and included the time period of Auburn University’s football season, typically a strong time for hotel occupancy. He said the decrease in beer taxes could be attributed to Randolph County’s vote to no longer be a dry county. As for the landfill fees, Dendy said that county officials were under the impression that the landfill had gotten plenty of use over the past six months, so the numbers were perplexing.

Chambers’ unemployment rate rises again

Chambers County’s unemployment rate rose for the second consecutive month according to a report released by the Alabama Department of Labor last week. For the month of February, the county’s preliminary unemployment rate was 7.6 percent. January’s revised rate was 7.1 percent. The county’s rate in December 2013 was 6.3 percent. In February 2013, the Chambers County had an 8.1 percent unemployment rate.

The February ‘14 rates represent 1,120 unemployed individuals, compared to 1,047 in January. There were 13,690 employed individuals in February compared to 13,691 in January. The difference in math resulted from an increase in the county’s civilian labor force from 14,738 in January to 14,810 in February.

For January, Chambers County ranked 45th out of Alabama’s 67 counties in unemployment. The county’s rank last month was 40th and the average ranking in 2013 was 32nd.

The county’s rate was favorable compared to surrounding counties. Randolph County posted a 7.6 percent unemployment rate for January, ranking 44th in the state; Tallapoosa County’s rate was 9.2 percent, ranking 18th in the state. Lee County, which had the second lowest rate in the state, had 5.9 percent unemployment. Clay County’s rate was 8.7 percent, Macon County posted a 9.3 percent rate and Russell County’s was 7.7 percent.

Statewide Alabama’s preliminary February unemployment rate was 6.4 percent, up from January’s rate of 6.1 percent, and below the February 2013 rate of 6.6 percent. February’s rate represents 137,256 unemployed persons, compared to 130,456 in January, and 142,855 in February 2013.

“Although we saw an uptick in the state’s unemployment rate, we also saw an increase in the number of people working, as well as the number of people in the labor force,” said Alabama Department of Labor Commissioner Tom Surtees. “These indicators, combined with an increase in the number of jobs reported by employers, tell me that more people are out in the workforce – either looking for jobs or working, and that is certainly good news.”

In February, the number of people working in Alabama increased to 1,996,720 from 1,990,938 in January (seasonally adjusted). The Civilian Labor Force, or people who are either working or actively seeking work, increased to 2,133,976 from 2,121,394 in January (seasonally adjusted).

Wage and salary employment, which is the measure of how many jobs Alabama’s economy supports and is reported by employers, increased 8,700 over the month. Gains were seen in the professional and business services sector (+3,000), the government sector (+2,700), the education and health services sector (+1,600), and the leisure and hospitality sector (+1,200), among others.

Counties with lowest unemployment rates are: Shelby County at 5.1 percent, Lee County at 5.9 percent, and Autauga County at 6.3 percent. Counties with the highest unemployment rates are: Wilcox County at 16.9 percent, Perry County at 13.3 percent, and Dallas County at 13.1 percent.

Career Tech Center students to compete in Electrathon

Students form the Chambers County Career Technical Center will compete in the Electrathon Marathon Competition at Barber Motorsports Park on April 7. Their participation was made possible thanks to a grant from the Coosa Valley Resource Conservation and Development Council. The grant funds were used to purchase a kit to build the electric vehicle used in the race. Pictured above, along with the school’s electric car are, from left, Ken Sealy; CTC Director, Eddie May, Coosa Valley RC&D Executive Director; Brandon Smith, CTC student; Jacob Fowler, CTC student; Senator Gerald Dial, Dr. Kelli Hodge; Chambers County Superintendent; Michael Pester, CTC student; Seth Stehouwer, CTC Engineering Instructor; Chris Langley, Coosa Valley RC&D Council member.

Students from the Chambers County Career Technical Center will compete in the Electrathon Marathon Competition at Barber Motorsports Park on April 7. Their participation was made possible thanks to a grant from the Coosa Valley Resource Conservation and Development Council. The grant funds were used to purchase a kit to build the electric vehicle used in the race. Pictured above, along with the school’s electric car are, from left, Ken Sealy; CTC Director, Eddie May, Coosa Valley RC&D Executive Director; Brandon Smith, CTC student; Jacob Fowler, CTC student; Senator Gerald Dial, Dr. Kelli Hodge; Chambers County Superintendent; Michael Pester, CTC student; Seth Stehouwer, CTC Engineering Instructor; Chris Langley, Coosa Valley RC&D Council member.

Students at Chambers County Career Technical Center are busy putting the finishing touches on their Electric Car, which will compete in the Electrathon Marathon Competition at Barber Motorsports Park in Leeds on Monday, April 7. The Electrathon is a type of electric marathon. The winner is determined by driving an electric powered vehicle as far as possible in one hour, on a closed loop course using limited battery power.

Kits for the electric cars were provided through a $3,000 grant from the Coosa Valley Resource Conservation and Development Council. State Senator Gerald Dial and State Representative DuWayne Bridges were very instrumental in making these funds available.

Career Tech instructors Seth Stehouwer, Daniel Smith and Peter Cutler have been very busy over the last several months working with the students in putting the car kits together and explaining the rules of the marathon race. The vehicles are single person, lightweight, aerodynamic, high efficiency vehicles with three or four pneumatic tires. They must meet specific design and safety rules. They are powered by standard non-leaking lead acid battery packs not exceeding 73 pounds.

Career Technical Center Director Ken Sealy commented that projects such as these provide students with real world challenges with the opportunity to work in areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math in an integrated environment across the campus. “This is exactly the direction we want to be headed with our future STEM Academy here in Chambers County,” Sealy said. “We cannot adequately express our gratitude for this grant. We couldn’t have done this project without it.”

Coosa Valley RC&D is a 501-c-3 nonprofit organization composed of eleven counties in east Alabama. There are nine councils in Alabama. Chris Langley, Joe Blanks and Bill Thomas are the Chambers County council members.

Yard sale returns as part of LaFayette Day

LaFayette Day for Valley Haven School is scheduled for April 12, and for the fourth consecutive year a community yard sale, sponsored by the Baptist Men, will again be held on the grounds at LaFayette First Baptist Church in downtown LaFayette on Hwy 431. The yard sale begins at 7 am CST.

Anyone wanting to sell typical yard sale items, clothing, household items, furniture, etc., should call the church office at 864-8545 to reserve a space. Reservations are not required but are preferred.

A $10 donation to Valley Haven School is required for each space.  All other proceeds from a vendor’s sales are theirs to keep.

The Baptist Men encourage all to do some early spring-cleaning and bring your items to the yard sale. Free coffee and parking will be available and it is a great way to support LaFayette Day and Valley Haven School.

Food vendors will not be allowed to participate in LaFayette Day yard sale on the church grounds and should contact Lynn Oliver at 864-4397 for a space in the main area of LaFayette Day on the courthouse square.