Safety tips for this weekend

By Rachael Abney

This weekend is the Fourth of July, a time to celebrate our nation’s independence with barbeques and fireworks. With all of these outdoor activities it is important to remember some safety tips to beat the heat and keep your family and pets safe.

With the temperatures rising one of the biggest dangers is heat stroke which is the most serious form of heat injury and considered a medical emergency.

Lafayette Fire Department Captain Kent Wilson said the best cure is prevention and to make sure to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water or drinks with electrolytes. Symptoms of heat stroke are headache, dizziness, lack of sweating despite the heat, and rapid heartbeat. The risk of heat related injuries increases when the heat index rises to 90 degrees or more and the elderly are also more at risk.

If you think someone is suffering from heat stroke it is important to immediately call 911, while waiting for the paramedics to arrive begin first aid by moving the person to an air conditioned room or a shady area. Remove any unnecessary clothing and fan the person while wetting their skin with water. Ice packs can also be placed on the person’s armpits; groin, neck, and back which can help lower their core temperature.

Pets are also at risk for heat related injuries so never leave your pet in a car even with the windows down. Also make sure that outside pets have access to water and shade. No incidences of heat stroke have been reported yet in LaFayette this year, even though temperatures have approached 100 on several days.

Fireworks are a trademark of the Fourth of July but they also come with some risks. Remember to use common sense when lighting off fireworks. Alcohol and fireworks are a bad combination. When setting off fireworks make sure you are in a clear area and have a hose or fire extinguisher nearby. Keep an eye out for snakes when outdoors. Never aim any type of firework at another person.

Another hidden danger that most people regard as harmless are sparklers, which are usually given to children. Sparklers can burn up to 2000 Fahrenheit which is the equivalent to a blow torch. While celebrating, remember that not everyone wants to hear you set off fireworks past midnight and try and be respectful of your neighbors.

Most pets are frightened by fireworks so try to keep them indoors if possible. If a pet must stay outside be mindful that they may try and escape the loud noises and make sure they are secure and have a collar and license in case they do make a break for it.

By keeping in mind a few safety tips, preparing for the heat, and using common sense we can all have a safe and enjoyable holiday.

Fugitive on the loose, possibly in Chambers Co.

On Monday morning, Randolph County Sheriff’s Department received a call from the U.S. Marhsals’ office in Montgomery regarding warrants on a Hispanic male who was living at Watts Trailer Park on Old Highway 431 near Morrison Crossroads.

Audel Cabrera Penaloza, 27, is wanted on three counts of kidnapping in Georgia and is also a person of interest in a homicide in North Carolina. The suspect is not from this area, but is believed to be from the Atlanta area. It is thought he has been in this area for about a month.
Officers with RCSO, U.S. Marshals and Chambers County Sheriff’s Office went to his trailer, but the suspect had run out of the back of the trailer.

Chambers County Aviation and the Department of Corrections K-9 from St. Clair County were called to come and help in the search. The dogs picked up his scent and tracked him across the road and into a pasture where several horses grazed, but then lost him. They made several circles and backtracked, but the dogs did not pick his scent up again. After several hours in the heat, the dogs were tired.

On Tuesday they heard he might be near Donald Wright’s trailer park on County Road 88 in the Corinth North area and so searched up there, assisted by officers from Wedowee PD, Cleburne, Chambers and Lee counties, the ALEA helicopter and U.S. Marshals.

Penaloza is described as being 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds. He was last seen wearing a red shirt, dark jeans and sandals. His hair is shaved close and he has a large tattoo of a woman praying on his upper right arm.

If you believe you’ve seen the suspect or have other information about him, please call 911.

Summer fun at the library

By Rachel Johnson

The Every Hero Has a Story Summer Reading program is at the half way mark. If you or your children have not started reading with the library, what are you waiting for? Library shelves are full of new and exciting books as well as familiar favorites. Remember, the deadline to register all of the books you have read is Saturday, July 18.

In addition to reading, library patrons are participating in various entertaining programs and educational events. Below is a list of the remaining of the upcoming programs at the library. All of these programs start at 1:00 pm. CST unless otherwise noted.

• No programs the week of June 29 to July 4, so take a break and catch up on your reading.
• Monday, July 6 Read-a-Thon: Bring a pillow/blanket and read with us. Feel free to bring your favorite snacks.

• Thursday, July 9 Tom Foolery: High-energy circus show with juggling, comedy and Monster Unicycle. This program is sponsored by Capital City Bank.

• Monday, July 13 If You Give a Dog a Donut! Dress like a dog, listen to a story, and enjoy a donut & craft!

• Tuesday, July 14 Tween/Teen Chocolate Olympics!! Minute-to-win-it games, races, pie eating contest, etc. Winners receive medals. Please call 334-864-0012 to sign-up.

• Thursday, July 16 Heroes of the Old West. Cowboy Bruce brings to life Will Rogers, Lash LaRue and other heroes of the West. This program is sponsored by Vines Funeral Home.

• Saturday, July 18 Steve Urkel and Laura Winslow Family Dress Up Day @ 11 am. Best dressed receives prize! Enjoy watching an episode of Family Matters.

• *Saturday, July 18 LAST DAY TO RECORD BOOKS!* The library will be open from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm. If you plan on attending the Family Day program that day please arrive early to record your books before the program because the library will close at 12:00 pm.

• Tuesday, July 21 Adult Potluck and Recipe Swap. Bring your favorite dish and recipe to share.

Please stop by the library for more details and information or give us a call at 334-864-0012.

Alabama Supreme Court stalls on same sex marriage

By Alton Mitchell

As many are now familiar with the Supreme Court of the United States passed down a 5-4 decision making same sex-marriage legal in all 50 states. Some have cited the events leading up to this decision as the new civil rights movement in America. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in the case and cited equal dignity in the eyes of the law and that being a protected right under The Constitution.

The events leading up to the legalization of same sex-marriages has been a battle in the State of Alabama. In January of this year a federal judge found that Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriages was unconstitutional.

That ban dated back to a 2006 voter approved Amendment 774 to the state Constitution known as the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment. That amendment made it constitutional law that in Alabama marriage can only be between a man and a woman. In February in compliance with the Federal District Court Judges ruling probate offices were suppose to begin issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples in Alabama. However Alabama’s Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore sent word to county probate judges telling them that they did not have to follow the Federal Judges orders and not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in the state.

The events caused for much confusion until the Supreme Court of the United States was able to clarify this month that it is unconstitutional to block marriage of any individual. They were faced with a similar dispute in the 1950’s during the case of Loving v. Virginia in which that states ban on interracial marriage was challenged and found to be unconstitutional. Many have cited that case as a precedent to the case the Supreme Court just finished hearing.

However despite the federal ruling the state of Alabama has again found a way to not adhere to the higher courts decision. On Tuesday the Alabama State Supreme Court ordered probate judges in Alabama not to issue same-sex marriage licenses for a period of 25 days.

It is believed this was done because there is a 25 day period to file a petition to have a case heard before the United States Supreme Court. The ruling and order by Alabama’s Supreme Court is confusing because by law the state of Alabama is suppose to follow the ruling of the higher court.

Failure for a probate to issue the license and follow the Supreme Court’s ruling does hold a possibility of being found in contempt of court. It appears the battle on this controversial topic is still far from over.

The state Supreme Court also passed down a recent ruling that can have a huge impact on economics for East Central Alabama. The court ruled that the state of Alabama cannot keep property seized in a 2013 raid of the massive Victoryland Casino in Macon County. The Supreme Court cited the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution in saying that the State of Alabama was wrong in allowing some casinos to operate in the state and not others such as Victoryland.

This ruling has paved the way for the Casino to reopen. Not only was the massive complex off of Interstate 85 a tourist destination, but it was also the largest employer in the county and did provide jobs for individuals in surrounding counties as well including Chambers County. Owner Milton McGregor has indicated that he plans to get the facility back up and running. Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange plans to possibly appeal the decision. If the decision is appealed it can possibly delay the re-opening of Victoryland.

As this week wraps up the Supreme Court of Alabama has made rulings in two highly controversial cases that may only be beginning. Gambling and the right to marry both hold strong meaning in the hearts of those whom are closely affected by the subjects and it appears the fight may only be beginning for both of these issues.

Alabama fireworks stores not threatened by Georgia law

By Alton Mitchell

The sale of Fireworks has been a big business in the state of Alabama for decades. This has been especially true in locations along the border with other states much like Chambers County. Chambers County fireworks venues had a special advantage that only limited parts of the state would also see. Their regional location to states like Georgia where the sale of fireworks was illegal resulted in a migration of purchasers looking to add a little bang into their holidays.

However during it Legislative session this year the State of Georgia legalized the sale of fireworks within the state of Georgia.

Many fear that this will have a direct impact on the revenue generated in the state of Alabama. Georgia Representative Jay Roberts (R-Ocilla) was the bill’s chief sponsor he is quoted as siting that the bill’s passage will allow for the opening of 50 to 100 stores across the peach state and the creation of between 1000 to 1500 jobs in Georgia.

In the short run established fireworks venues in Alabama seem to not have very much to fear in relation to the new competition across the state line. The Georgia State Safety Fire Commissioners office is in the process of processing over 200 applications for fireworks sales licenses, but there is a backlog on that processing.

July 1st will be the opening day for fireworks sales to take place in Georgia and only a handful of retailers have the approval to start selling fireworks. They include Kansas based Jakes Fireworks which will open 5 stores. The locations will be in Buford, Kennesaw, Athens, and 2 locations in Macon. Phantom Fireworks will also be opening three new stores in Georgia mostly in the metro Atlanta area including locations in Buford, Duluth, and Morrow. Phantom currently has a store in Lanett locally.

Many in Alabama have stated that they do not be fear losing much revenue to Georgia because there is a difference in the level of taxes charged on fireworks between the states. Due to this Alabama may be able to offer better rates for the sale of fireworks.

Four years ago there was a similar fear circulating in the air as Georgia approved the sale of alcohol on Sundays in 2011. Alabama had approved the Sunday Sales several years before and would attract buyers from Georgia to the state to purchase their alcoholic needs on Sundays before the bill. When the new law took effect in Georgia in 2011 state revenue did not decline much. Many believe the fireworks bill will have a similar outcome between the two states and the distribution of revenue.

Chambers County has very well established fireworks vendors such as Phantom of Lanett and the massive Shelton’s Fireworks powerhouse towering over Interstate 85 in Cusseta. The nearest established competition will be the Phantom store going into a former Rooms-to-Go storefront in Morrow, Georgia some 95 miles away. With that distance in question many buyers will still cross the state line to purchase their pyrotechnics.
(Shelton’s Fireworks in Cusseta, AL)

Confederate flag debate rages on in Alabama

By Alton Mitchell

Looking at the United States today the nation seems much more like it is stuck in the 1860’s once again. The country is divided much as it was leading up to the nation’s Civil War and the root of the division goes back to events started in the Civil War. In the wake of the June 17th shooting of the historical Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC a debate has surfaced in reference to the confederate flag being banned.

The shooting is believed to be racially motivated and the accused shooter Dylan Roof has been painted in a grim image as a strong white supremacist. Images of Roof have surfaced online and show him with known symbols of hate including the apartheid flag of South Africa in one image and the flag of Rhodesia which was also an apartheid state in southern Africa.

Later photos surfaced of Roof displaying the Confederate flag and those sparked outrage among some. Many southern states still embrace their history associated with the Confederate flag and the Civil War. South Carolina was included in that preservation being that the state still displays the Confederate flag at its state capitol in Columbia.

Alabama had a similar display at the state capitol in Montgomery until June 24th. A total of four flags were removed from a memorial at the Capitol building. The flags had been at the local Capitol memorial since 1994 when then Governor Jim Folsom Jr. ordered the removal of the battle from atop the Capitol building where it had been since 1963. In the week following the removal of the flags protests have occurred at the Capitol in Montgomery. Governor Robert Bentley chose to remove the flags because he did not want them to become a distraction to bigger issues occuring in the state.

The issue of the Confederate flag is not new. In May a prominent attorney in Union Springs, Alabama admits to removing flags from the graves of soldiers at a Bullock County cemetery. The attorney and a family member removed those flags and took them to the City Hall in Union Springs for owners to claim. He argued to the media that his actions were not meant to spur hate, but rather to create unity.

Much as the attorney in Union Springs had an opinion many residents and officials have also developed opinions about this controversial topic.

“Allow individuals to freely fly the Confederate flag under the auspices of personal belief. As much as many may dispute the fact, it is protected as the freedom of speech. However, I would see it wholly necessary for government entities to completely abolish any likenesses of a Confederate flag from government institutions”, said Kel Boyd President of the Students of Political Awareness Association at Columbus State University in Georgia.

Edwin Hill a student at Auburn University had a differing opinion, “The flag does not support racism it supports freedom just as that of the United States flag does. In history some very dumb people have used it as a racial symbol, but it is more about heritage than hate or separation”.

Many individuals on social media blogs and outlets have been seen to mimic these arguments saying that the flag is not about hate, but about a cultural heritage much as certain groups whom were persecuted in the past have symbolic representations relevant to their groups. The Confederate battle flag is that representative to those whom have a sympathetic viewpoints to the Civil War and the respect deserved to be given to the veterans of that conflict.

Other viewpoints take a more extreme measure as some have argued it represents treason against the nation as a whole by glorifying the separation of certain states from the Union.

The state flag and U.S. Flag fly above the State Capitol in Montgomery.
(2) A historic marker in front of the Alabama State Capitol signifies when the American Flag was raised over the capital

(3) A view up Dexter Avenue toward the Capitol shows American Flags lining the street.

Plenty to do at area’s 4th of July festivities

By Alton Mitchell

Saturday represents one of the most significant holidays in the nation, some would call it the country’s birthday others would call it the day of America’s independence. Either way that argument falls it represents a significant time to get away and enjoy a little hard earned rest and relaxation for many Americans.

With this year’s holiday falling on a weekend the atmosphere for travel is great. Many will trek to the beaches as a getaway, but that is not in the budget option for every person. Our local region will offer tons of fun family oriented activities for the 4th of July holiday this weekend for those who cannot take the out of town trips.

A quick drive from LaFayette can lead spectators to some of the best events in the southeast. Alexander City will host its 10th annual 4th of July Blast at the Lake Martin Amphitheater. The event gates open at 5 p.m. and will host live music from 6-9p.m. and the fireworks should begin sometime around 9pm and last until 9:45p.m.

Also in close proximity will be the city of Auburn’s 4th of July celebration. The event will take place at Duck Samford Park with gates opening at 6 p.m. and entertainment set to begin at 7 p.m. including live music and food. Fireworks will follow at 9 p.m.

The city of Montgomery and WSFA is offering a concert and fireworks show at the Riverwalk Amphitheater featuring Blackberry Smoke. Gates will open at 6 p.m. with the fireworks set to begin following the Montgomery Biscuits baseball game. The Montgomery show is offering advance tickets for $10 and day of the show tickets for $15.

A twist from the fireworks will occur to the north of LaFayette on Lake Wedowee where a patriotic themed parade of boats will occur on the lake starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

Events will also take place on the other side of the Chattahoochee River in the state of Georgia. Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain will host at July 4th Star Spangled Beach Party. The events at Callaway Gardens will be a fun-filled full day of events including outdoor activities, entertainment, and a massive fireworks display to conclude the evening. Park admission fees will apply to attend the event.

The National Infantry Museum at Fort Benning will host its third annual community wide Independence Day celebration known as Freedom Fest starting at 11 a.m. The events of Freedom Fest will include music, kids activities, reenactments, and food. The events will wrap up at 6 p.m. when visitors are encouraged to head to the downtown Columbus and Phenix City for a live concert on the Phenix City Amphitheater and a fireworks display downtown at dark.

LaGrange and Troup County will also offer great festivities on Saturday to include the sweet land of liberty Fourth of July Parade for youth in downtown LaGrange. Later in the day there will be a celebration and fireworks display at Pyne Road Park at West Point Lake.

A trip further north to the big cities of Atlanta or Birmingham can yield results that will include multiple fireworks displays including Atlanta’s famous Lenox Square Mall fireworks display and Birmingham’s Thunder on the Mountain celebration. Atlanta will also start its festivities off early in the day with the running of the 46th Peachtree Road Race the largest 10K race in the world.

The Fourth of July will be packed with something for everyone this year and a quick or long drive anywhere can result in enormous sums of fun including fireworks, racing, music, water recreation, and of course that famous Fourth of July Bar b Que. In the end it is best to remember to be safe and have fun.

By Paul Richardson

Federal officials have confirmed a new strain of rabies has been discovered in southern New Mexico. While it doesn’t present any more of a public health threat than the known strains of the potentially fatal disease, the discovery is generating curiosity in scientific circles because it’s the first new strain to be found in the US in decades.

“It’s related to another bat strain, similar but unique,” State public health veterinarian Paul Ettestad said, referring to animals known to host the virus.

“Bats, skunks, and raccoons usually aren’t tested but dogs, cats, horses, and foxes are.”

It all started when a 78-year-old Lincoln County woman was bitten by a rabid fox in April. Genetic testing at a CDC lab in Atlanta confirmed the strain was one that had never before been identified.

Officials say although just discovered, it has probably been out there for some time.

Woman gets 30 years for running over husband

Attorney General Luther Strange announced a 30-year prison sentence last Thursday for a woman who murdered her husband in Lee County by running over him with her car. Tiffany Andrews, 29, of Russell County, was found guilty by a jury in Lee County Circuit Court on May 11 following a week-long trial. The victim was Michael Andrews, 33. He was a member of the U.S. Army serving at Fort Benning, Ga.

Evidence was presented at trial that the couple had been arguing for days about plans for a divorce, culminating in Tiffany Andrews’ murder of Michael Andrews on the evening of July 1, 2012, on Lee Road 248. Witnesses testified that she had a pattern of chasing him in her car, and that she had been seen doing so earlier that night. A state trooper who is a reconstruction specialist testified regarding forensic evidence that Michael Andrews’ body had been run over by Tiffany Andrews’ car: dents on the undercarriage indicated something soft had been hit very hard, leaving an imprint from his jeans and his belt. In addition, DNA material found on the undercarriage matched that of Michael Andrews. Furthermore, Tiffany Andrews stood to benefit from a $400,000 military insurance policy if Michael Andrews died while they were still married.

“I am pleased that we are able to deliver a measure of justice for this victim who served his country,” said Attorney General Strange. “Tiffany Andrews callously and brutally killed her husband, and she deserves this stern prison sentence for her terrible crime.”

Attorney General Strange commended those involved in the successful prosecution, noting in particular Assistant Attorney General Stephanie Billingslea, chief of the Criminal Trials Division; Assistant Attorneys General John Hensley and James Rutter; Paralegal Lori Arnold, all of the Criminal Trials Division; and Victim Service Officer Ashley Harbin of the Attorney General’s Office of Victim Assistance. He thanked the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, noting in particular Investigator Katie Bonham; Alabama State Trooper Philip Ray; the Russell County Sheriff’s Office and the Phenix City Police Department.

Two Alabamians die in last week’s severe storms

By Alton Mitchell

As the summer heat of July settles in many people spend much of their time focusing on the heat and high humidity values of this region. Yet there is a danger that many forget about this time of year and that comes with the combination of heat and humidity. Summer time pop up thunderstorms can appear out of thin air literally and create mountains of damage in a matter of minutes.

Meteorologist refer to these types of storms as “pulse storms”. These type of storms often have very strong updrafts which can lead to these storms being strong to severe for short periods of times. The features of these thunderstorms are usually short lived, but can include high damaging wind force, hail, downpours, isolated tornadoes, and strong vivid lightning.

In the past week these type of storms have began to fire on a more normal basis in the southeast region of the United States. Bringing with them damage and headaches for people in their path. Residents at the Cougar Village Apartments, a popular west Georgia apartment complex which caters to college students and young professionals became a victim to these summer thunderstorms on Wednesday June 24th. Around 7 p.m. that night a massive severe thunderstorm rolled over that region bringing with it high winds and an amazing lightning show.

The lightning show got a little close for comfort for residents in building one of the complex as a lightning strike went directly through the roof of that building. “I was in my room and heard a loud bang, there was no shaking or anything just a loud bang”, explained Justin Kerr who is a resident of building six in the complex. “I didn’t even realize the building had been hit until I smelled the smoke and then fire department arrived”, Kerr explained.

The three story building was hit directly during the storm and a large fire broke out moments after the strike. The Columbus Fire Department dispatched units to the complex and was able to quickly extinguish the blaze. All the residents of the 12 units of the building were able to escape the blaze without injury. Earlier in the month a home in Columbus was also completely destroyed by fire following a lightning strike. Humans are not the only ones who can fall victim to these type of storms on Saturday June 27th 33 cattle were found dead from lightning in Perry County Mississippi.

The storms of last Wednesday also caused damage in east Alabama as almost 1800 residents lost power in Lee County due to down trees and power lines following the severe storms. As summer fuels up these storms will continue to pop up over our region as well with their associated damage as annually the insurance industry sees over $5 billion in losses due to lightning related damage alone. According to the National Weather Service there has been 15 deaths so far this year in the United States associated with lightning. Two of those deaths came last Tuesday in the town of Opp, Alabama as a couple was struck under a tree and killed. It is hard to know exactly when and where a storm may develop, but when caught in one expert advice is to just stay indoors and wait it out.

Built by The Robot Next Door. Powered by Wordpress.