LaFayette Day for Valley Haven is Saturday

On Saturday, hundreds of people will fill the downtown square for one of LaFayette’s biggest events.

After months of planning the 18th annual LaFayette Day for Valley Haven is finally here.

Starting at 8 am CST, LaFayette’s streets will come to life in what is always an exciting day. Along with the many citizens and out of town guests, the square will be packed with dozens of vendors, games, competitions and much more for a day that’s purpose is to both celebrate the city of LaFayette and raise funds for Valley Haven’s Hike/Bike/Run campaign.

“Hike/Bike/Run started as a small fundraiser to supplement the local match for Valley Haven,” said LaFayette Day co-chair and incoming Valley Haven Executive Director Craig Brown. “It has now grown to be the single biggest source of local support for Valley Haven. With LaFayette Day, many more people have been able to help Valley Haven School, our area school for children and adults with special needs. The reason for the continued growth of LaFayette Day and Hike/Bike/Run is that people want to be a part of helping Valley Haven. When you support LaFayette Day and Valley Haven, you know you are doing something good, something that really helps our special citizens. It has often been said that this area’s greatest asset is its people. Our residents demonstrate time and time again how caring this area’s residents are.”

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 role has grown each year. The very first LaFayette Day raised just over $2,000 for Valley Haven, while the 2014 event raised over $12,000.

After last year’s record crowd, organizers are expecting this year’s LaFayette Day to be better than ever. In addition to the hallmark activities such as the motorcycle ride, car show, food and craft vendors, and live entertainment, there are new aspects being added this year.

One of the featured additions this year will be a fireman’s competition. Five local fire departments, including Five Points, Huguley, Union Hill, East Alabama and Lanett, are scheduled to compete in the competition. It will consist of three different events, the obstacle course, water-on-roof competition and air-pack relay. Points will be awarded by a panel of three judges in each event and the overall winning team will receive a grand prize. The competition is scheduled to begin at 1 pm.

As usual there will be many arts and crafts and food vendors on site throughout the day. This year several new vendors have signed up to participate, coming from all over the south including Tennessee, Georgia and across Alabama.

Numerous food vendors are registered to attend this year with items including funnel cakes, roasted corn, wraps, snow cones, homemade pies and desserts, barbecue ribs and sandwiches and much more.

A LaFayette Day staple, the Antique Car and Truck Show, will again return featuring classic and modern street rods, antique cars, trucks and tractors. The automobiles will be on display from 9 am to 2 pm on 1st Street SE, and winners in different categories will be announced at 1 pm.

A thrilling sight is the conclusion of the annual Motorcycle Ride, which takes place around noon at LaFayette Day. Each year, dozens of riders participate in the ride that begins in West Point and ends in downtown LaFayette.

Brown will preside over the LaFayette Day opening ceremony at 9:00 and Donna Stewart will sing the national anthem. Trent and Chase Golden will be the first performers on the main stage from 9:15-9:45. Britney Avery will take the stage at 9:50 and Lacie Amason will follow at 10:25. The Star Wonders group will perform starting at 11:00 and Rickey Gooden and Alex Harvey will wrap up the morning events starting at 11:30.

At 12:10 the LaFayette Day Committee will pay tribute to several special individuals. They will recognize the Class 2A state champion LaFayette High boys basketball team for their incredible season.

Following all the presentations, Mike and Greg Lauderdale will perform starting at 12:30. At 1:15, the Holloway and Drake Singers will take the stage, followed by the final act of the day, the Gospel Navigators of Opelika, at 2 pm.

Several other activities will be a part of LaFayette Day. For the fifth consecutive year, LaFayette First Baptist Church will sponsor a yard sale adjacent to the church in conjunction with LaFayette Day. The yard sale begins at 8 am and a $10 donation to Valley Haven School is required for each booth. All other proceeds from a vendor’s sales are theirs to keep.

A special display recognizing the 150th anniversary of the battle at Fort Tyler will be located in the courthouse throughout the day.

Kid’s games and rides will also be prevalent this year with moonwalks, basketball and baseball games, giant slides and train and pony rides.

T-shirts for LaFayette Day are on sale now at Valley Haven School and will be available at the t-shirt booth during LaFayette Day while supplies last. Adult shirts are $10 and kids shirts are $5. A 32” HD flat-screen television will be raffled off and tickets can be purchased for $1 from any LaFayette Day committee member.

Of course, LaFayette Day is absolutely free and open to everyone. So be sure to come out and support LaFayette Day for Valley Haven. Buy a raffle ticket or a t-shirt, support the vendors whose fees support Valley Haven, or simply make a donation. It’s a great day that brings the community together while supporting a cause that’s unique and important to so many families and individuals in Chambers County.

LaFayette Day is one of the biggest events of the Hike/Bike/Run campaign, but there are several other fundraisers taking place in the coming weeks as well. The Valley Haven Auction is on April 17th at the Valley Community Center, and the Bowling Tournament and Bingo are on Tuesday, May 5th at Valley Bowl. Hike/Bike/Run at Valley Haven will be on Saturday May 2nd.

For more information on LaFayette Day call Brown at 334-756-2868 at Valley Haven School or Lynn Oliver at 334-219-2899.

For more information on Hike/Bike/Run call Valley Haven School at (334) 756-7801 or 756-2868 or e-mail them at The website is





April 8, 2015 | Posted in: Local, News | Comments Closed

Chambers County unemployment drops nearly a full percentage point to 5.7 percent in February

Chambers County and nearly every other county in the state saw a surprising increase in unemployment figures for the month of January, but according to figures released by the Alabama Department of Labor on Friday, February’s jobless rate returned to figures in line with what has been reported over the past six months.

According to the Department of Labor, Chambers County posted a 5.7 percent unemployment rate for February. That’s notably lower that the 6.6 percent reported in January and slightly higher than the December 2014 rate of 5.2 percent.

The county’s December rate was the lowest since 2007, and February’s rate was the fourth time in the past five months that Chambers County’s rate was below 6 percent. February’s county rate also fell below the statewide rate, which was 5.8 percent.

The figures for February showed a significant decrease in unemployed individuals and increase in employed individuals, while only a slight drop in the labor force.

February’s rate was also much lower than that of February 2014 when the county’s unemployment rate was 8 percent.

According to the report, Chambers County’s February rate represents 861 unemployed individuals, down from January’s total of 989 and much less than the February 2014 figure of 1,222 unemployed.

There were 14,135 employed in February, compared to 14,059 in January and 14,051 in February of last year.
The county’s civilian labor force decreased from 15,048 in January to 14,996 in February. The labor force was 15,273 in February 2014.

The county ranked 48th out of the state’s 67 counties in unemployment, which was a big jump from the ranking of 39th in January and lower than the 2014 average ranking of 47th.

Chambers County’s rate was lower than nearly every other surrounding county, with only Lee County reporting a lower percentage. Lee posted a rate of 4.7 percent, ranking 66th. Randolph County posted a 6.1 percent unemployment rate, ranking 39th. Clay County ranked 37th with a rate of 6.1 percent and Tallapoosa County had a rate of 6.7 percent, ranking 26th. Macon County was at 7.2 percent, ranking 19th.

The statewide rate decreased from 6 percent in January to 5.8 percent in February, which is the lowest statewide rate in nearly seven years. Every single county in the state showed a decreased unemployment rate from January to February.

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CCDA unveils county’s new branding campaign

Chamberslogo-newChambers County isn’t just a place, it’s people, it’s history, it is a way of life. Chambers County is a brand. And introducing that brand to the rest of the world took a major step forward last week.

On Wednesday, the Chambers County Development Authority (CCDA) launched a new community-wide brand at a media conference in Lanett. That branding includes a logo and tagline that represents the county. The dynamic logo features a gray and red pattern woven within the borders of Chambers County. Referencing roots in the community’s textile history, the tagline, “Strength Woven In,” captures the county’s proud past while embracing its unique spirit of strength in overcoming every challenge it faces.

The “Strength Woven In” design created by Alabama community marketing firm, Red Sage Communications, Inc., will become a symbol for Chambers County, and synonymous for the vibrant strength of the community. The tagline will support the county as it continues to define its vision for the future.

“In today’s global economy and competitive environment, it’s critical to promote your community on a unified front. Site selection consultants, prospective companies and existing industries need to know our resiliency and what all we have accomplished in Chambers County,” CCDA Executive Director Valerie Gray said. “It’s important for people to understand where we’ve been and where we are going.”

The Chambers County Development Authority unveiled a new branding campaign for the county at a media conference Wednesday in Lanett. Part of the new brand includes a logo and tagline, “Strength Woven In,” that will be used to represent and promote all of Chambers County. The brand references the county’s past, while embracing the vision for the future. The brand, tagline, and supporting messages will be used in industrial recruitment and tourism efforts, and as a competitive differentiator from surrounding communities in the Southeast USA. Those that participated in the creation of the brand and were a part of the Wednesday program were, from left, Kevin Hand, Tallapoosa River Electric Cooperative; Caleb Goodwyn, PowerSouth Energy Cooperative; Ellen Didier, Redsage Communications Inc.; Barbara Andrews, Greater Valley Area Chambers of Commerce; Kimberly Carter, Chambers County Development Authority; Valerie Gray, Chambers County Development Authority; Katie Woods, Redsage Communications Inc.; and Bobby Williams, Chambers County Development Authority.

The Chambers County Development Authority unveiled a new branding campaign for the county at a media conference Wednesday in Lanett. Part of the new brand includes a logo and tagline, “Strength Woven In,” that will be used to represent and promote all of Chambers County. The brand references the county’s past, while embracing the vision for the future. The brand, tagline, and supporting messages will be used in industrial recruitment and tourism efforts, and as a competitive differentiator from surrounding communities in the Southeast USA. Those that participated in the creation of the brand and were a part of the Wednesday program were, from left, Kevin Hand, Tallapoosa River Electric Cooperative; Caleb Goodwyn, PowerSouth Energy Cooperative; Ellen Didier, Redsage Communications Inc.; Barbara Andrews, Greater Valley Area Chambers of Commerce; Kimberly Carter, Chambers County Development Authority; Valerie Gray, Chambers County Development Authority; Katie Woods, Redsage Communications Inc.; and Bobby Williams, Chambers County Development Authority.

“The strength shown by our local community many times over has allowed our hospital to maintain its presence in Valley. As far back as 1947, local citizens gave a day’s pay to supplement the building fund, and in more recent times their generosity has come through over and over again,” says Cindy Brooks, Public Relations Director of EAMC-Lanier Hospital. “We are fortunate to have such a strong and caring community throughout our greater Valley area. They are always there for each other.”

“The most powerful brands are those that are defined by residents who are passionate about where they live, not those defined by a company that does not live in or truly know the community,” explained Ellen Didier, president of Red Sage Communications, Inc. “Our job is simply to ask questions, listen well, and then visually capture the unique spirit that is shared with us by residents. We feel the final brand developed, including the logo and tagline, powerfully showcases the community history, spirit and personality expressed to us by the people of Chambers County.”

The brand and tagline revealed serve as the conclusion of the Chambers County Community Branding Project, funded in part by PowerSouth Energy Cooperative, in an effort to expand the community’s visibility through professional branding and marketing materials. Red Sage Communications, Inc. facilitated multiple focus groups with many residents, local officials, community representatives and business leaders to gather core qualities citizens associate with Chambers County. These core strengths were honed into a clear, cohesive, comprehensive brand with the help of a six-person branding committee. After extensive feedback, discussions and revisions spanning 15 weeks, the final tagline and logo were determined by online survey.

“By using the shape of the county in the logo, we were able to encompass each city and town within the county to present unity,” said Kevin Hand, Member Services Representative of the Tallapoosa River Electric Authority. “This is strengthen by the woven pattern which definitively ties the tagline to the logo.”

“PowerSouth Energy Cooperative was happy to be able to play a small role in the Chambers County Branding Project,” said Caleb Goodwyn, Economic and Community Development Representative for PowerSouth Energy Cooperative. “The level of community participation throughout this process lends further proof to the commitment of the citizens of Chambers County and to the dedication and professionalism of the Chambers County Development Authority. It is our hope that this will lead to even greater visibility for the county and continued economic development successes.”

The final brand and tagline present Chambers County as a community of resiliency and strength. A progressive, pro-business attitude and strategic location aid Chambers County in overcoming any challenges that threaten the community. The brand, tagline and supporting messages will be used in industrial recruitment and tourism efforts, and as a competitive differentiator from surrounding communities in the Southeast United States.

In addition to revealing the new logo and tagline, brand implementation by local entities was discussed. Creating a countywide brand portrays a unified front with a strong brand instantly recognizable as Chambers County. The CCDA has created a brand roll out plan for its own publications, and will assist in its implementation by other county groups as requested. The CCDA also plans to incorporate branding activities and events to continue highlighting the stories of strength that are abundant in Chambers County.

“The brand campaign will be incorporated immediately into our website, social media, and promotional and marketing materials,” Gray said. “Our next step is to provide an implementation plan to our cities, county, and local organizations to best incorporate the brand into their marketing plan and everyday activities. No matter where you go in the county, you will observe a consistent brand that says we are united and strong.”

“At the Chambers County Development Authority, we have developed future activities that will utilize the new logo and tagline to be used throughout the county. From LaFayette, birthplace of heavyweight champion boxer Joe Louis, to the rejuvenation of mill towns of Lanett and Valley, strength is apparent in every part of our county,” says Kimberly Carter, CCDA Business Retention Specialist. “Incorporating this new tagline into everyday activities should come naturally because it embodies who we already are as a county. Our hope is that the brand is embraced by all who live in and love Chambers County.”

For more information about the Chambers County Community Branding Project, contact Carter at 334-642-1460.

Board of Education recognizes championship LaFayette basketball team

The LaFayette High School Class 2A state champion boys basketball team continues to receive praise for their outstanding achievement. The team was honored this time by the Chambers County Board of Education at their meeting last Wednesday.

Though some players were not able to attend the meeting due to obligations to other sports and Coach Obadiah Threadgill was in Montgomery preparing to coach in the Alabama-Mississippi all-star game, many Bulldogs were on hand to be recognized by Superintendent Kelli Hodge and the board members.

LaFayette Principal Don Turner filled in for Coach Threadgill and introduced the members of the team present. Each received a round of applause from the board and others present at the meeting.

Dr. Hodge commended the team’s achievements, not just for this season, but two year’s ago when the team finished as state runner-up. She expressed her appreciation for how the athletes represented their school and the Chambers County System during the Final Four tournament. “You did it with character and dignity, and you brought a state championship back home,” Hodge said. “We thank you so much. We are so proud of you.”

Many on the board attended the title game in Birmingham, and board member Judy LaFollette told the team that she had loved every minute of the Bulldogs’ dominant 69-39 victory over Elba High School.

The championship was the fourth basketball title in school history and the first under Coach Threadgill.

A few other routine items of business were handled by the board at the meeting. A contract was awarded to Myers Tire Supply for a Hunter Alignment System for the Chambers County Career Technical Center. At a cost of $24,513, the system will allow more students to work on vehicles at the same time. Funding for the system was approved by the state legislature last year.

The board approved Dr. Hodge’s recommendation for programs and positions for the summer special education and Fairfax Elementary programs.

A request by Valley High Band Director Shannon Chandler for a trip to Orlando, Florida in April 2016 was also approved at the meeting. The W.F. Burns Middle School concert band and Valley High concert and jazz bands will be taking part in the WorldStrides Heritage Performance Orlando Festival. The trip will cost approximately $600 per student and will be funded by school fundraising activities and parents.

During the Superintendent’s report, Dr. Hodge expressed her concern with education issues being discussed by the state legislature. She said that public education seems to be in the crosshairs right now. Dr. Hodge encouraged the board members to go to Montgomery to show support for the school boards association and thanked members of Chambers County’s legislative delegation for listening to her concerns.

Dr. Hodge also noted that the system’s trial run with the Kronos system for employee time-keeping had worked out well and would be implemented system-wide this week.

Before adjourning, Hodge encouraged everyone to attend the Chambers County Special Olympics that would be taking place at the Valley Community Center on March 27 at 9 am CST.

City Council gets update on upcoming LaFayette Day

The LaFayette City Council held a relatively brief session Monday night at City Hall, with most of the meeting focusing on upcoming events taking place in the city.

In discussing the upcoming LaFayette Day for Valley Haven, Chris Busby of the LaFayette Day Committee told the council that the event is scheduled for April 11 on the courthouse square in downtown LaFayette from 8 am to 3 pm CST. He thanked the city for their continued support over 18-year history of the event. “We wouldn’t be able to have the success we’ve had without your help,” he told the council.

Busby noted that last year’s LaFayette Day raised over $12,000 for Valley Haven School and had probably the biggest crowd to date. He said the committee was hoping for an even better turnout this year. In addition to the traditional events, including the motorcycle ride, antique car show, live entertainment and the many food and arts and crafts vendors, this year’s LaFayette Day will feature a firefighter competition with local fire departments participating. The yard sale sponsored by LaFayette First Baptist Church will also return this year.

The council would approve a proclamation, designating April 5-11 as LaFayette Days for Valley Haven in the city.

Pamela Holloway was also on hand to discuss an upcoming Health and Fitness Fair that will take place in LaFayette on April 4. Holloway said the event will include free health screenings, including eye exams, breast exams, AIDS tests, speech and hearing tests and much more. She said that approximately 30 local businesses have volunteered their support. The fair will take place from 9 am to 3 pm.

Holloway added that a special city Bulldog Walk/Parade will be taking place following the fair at 3:30 pm to recognize the state champions LaFayette High boys basketball team. She said that one of the goals of the event will be to raise money to donate to the school to help the athletes purchase state championship rings.

Mayor Barry Moody thanked Holloway for organizing the event and stressed that promoting a healthy lifestyle for the citizens of LaFayette is of great importance.

Mayor Moody told the council that he and City Clerk Louis T. Davidson would be meeting with attorneys next week to finalize the changes recommended for the city’s employee handbook.

The council agreed to pay bills in the amount of $780,679.34 at the meeting. Clerk Davidson told the council that the figure was higher than usual because a transfer was made to the Community Development Block Grant account for the city’s water line project. Davidson said the project is moving along ahead of schedule and so the city deposited a large portion of their required matching funds.

In other business, the council approved a proclamation declaring April 20-26 as Parental Alienation Prevention Week in the city and conveyed cemetery deeds to Angela Brewer and Linda Bradfield.





West Chambers lowers ISO rating to Class 5

The West Chambers Fire District has improved its ISO (Insurance Service Office) rating from a Class 7 to a Class 5 according to Public Protection Classification (PPC) survey that took place at the end of 2014.

The new rating will officially take effect on April 1 and could serve to lower household insurance premiums of those in the West Chambers Fire Department service area.

ISO collects and evaluates information from communities on their structure fire suppression capabilities. The date is analyzed using a Fires Suppression Rating Schedule (FSRS) and then a PPC number, ranging from 1 to 10, is assigned to the community. Class 1 generally represents superior property fire protection, and Class 10 indicates that the area’s fire-suppression program doesn’t meet ISO’s minimum criteria. The last PPC survey in West Chambers took place in 1995.

The FSRS recognizes fire protection features only as they relate to suppression of first alarm structure fires. In developing a community’s PPC, only features related to reducing property losses from structural fires are evaluated.

ISO’s PPC program evaluates communities according to a uniform set of criteria, incorporating nationally recognized standards developed by the National Fire Protection Association and the American Water Works Association. A community’s PPC depends on:

  • Needed fire flows, which are representative building locations used to determine the theoretical amount of water necessary for fire suppression purposes.
  • Emergency communications, including emergency reporting, telecommunicators and dispatching systems.
  • Fire department, including equipment, staffing, training, geographic distribution of fire companies, operational considerations and community risk reduction.
  • Water supply, including inspection and flow testing of hydrants, alternative water supply operations, and a careful evaluation of the amount of available water compared with the amount needed to suppress fires up to 3,500 gpm.

Emergency communications accounts for 10 percent of the total classification; the fire department accounts for 50 percent and the water supply accounts for 40 percent.

ISO assigned West Chambers a 5/10 classification. The 5 applies to properties within five road miles of a recognized fire station and within 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant or alternate water supply. The 10 applies to properties beyond 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant but within five road miles of a recognized fire station.

In the PPC evaluation, West Chambers achieved 8.2 out of 10 credits in the Emergency communication analysis; 22.37 credits out of 50 under the fire department analysis; and 21.40 credits out of 40 under the water supply analysis.

The West Chambers classification is equal to the City of LaFayette’s rating and is lower than the City of Lanett (Class 6).

Unemployment rate rises to 6.6 percent in Chambers County

For the first time in six months, Chambers County saw an increase in the unemployment rate. According to figures released by the Alabama Department of Labor Tuesday, the county’s unemployment rate rose from 5.2 percent in December 2014 to 6.6 percent in January 2015.

Chambers County’s December rate was the lowest since 2007.

Despite the rate increase, January’s figures were still lower than in January of 2014, when unemployment was at 7.7 percent.

According to the report, Chambers County’s January rate represents 993 unemployed individuals, up from December’s total of 790 individuals. It was significantly below the January 2014 figure of 1,178 unemployed.

There were 14,079 employed individuals in January, down from the December figure of 14,276 but higher that at this time one year ago when there were 14,068 employed individuals.

The county’s civilian labor force actually increased in January to 15,072, compared to 15,066 in December. The labor force was 15,246 in January 2014.

January’s rate was still lower than the 2014 average rate of 6.8 percent, but it was slightly higher than the statewide rate of 6 percent.

Chambers County’s rate was favorable compared to surrounding counties, with only two reporting lower figures. Lee and Clay Counties were the two with lower rates. Lee posted a rate of 5.2 percent, ranking 66th out of Alabama’s 67 counties and Clay County was at 6.4 percent, ranking 43rd. Randolph County posted a 6.7 percent unemployment rate, ranking 37th in the state. Tallapoosa County ranked 32nd with a rate of 7.1 percent. Macon County was at 8.2 percent, ranking 16th.

Chambers County ranked 39th in the state in unemployment, which was lower than the 2014 average ranking of 47th.

The statewide rate decreased from 6.1 percent in December 2014 to 6 percent in January, but that was a surprising figure considering the trends in each county. Like Chambers County, nearly every Alabama county saw an increase in unemployment from December to January. The lone exception was Wilcox County, whose rate decreased from 15.2 percent to 14.9 percent.

In December 29 counties had a lower unemployment than the statewide rate, but in January only 14 counties showed that trend.

Despite the rising trends in individual counties, the governor was still optimistic about the statewide rate.

“January’s rate marks 14 months with no increase in our unemployment rate,” Governor Robert Bentley said. “For the past two months, more than two million people are working in this state, which hasn’t happened since November 2008. We continue to remain hopeful that our economy is turning around and Alabamians are gaining employment.”

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates in January were: Shelby County at 4.2 percent, Lee County at 5.2 percent, and Elmore, Tuscaloosa and St. Clair Counties at 5.3 percent. Counties with the highest unemployment rates were: Wilcox County at 14.9 percent, Clarke and Greene Counties at 11.8 percent, and Lowndes County at 11.5 percent.

Commission approves amended Knauf abatement

A recommendation that came out of the Rules, Ways and Means Committee to amend a tax abatement for Knauf Insulation was approved by the full Chambers County Commission at their meeting Monday afternoon.

The amended abatement comes as a result of expansions at Knauf that are happening faster than anticipated.

When Knauf made the decision to reopen their Huguley operation in 2013, the county granted an abatement for a capital investment of $50 million over 10 years for a two-phase expansion. However, increased demand and production has allowed the company to grow at an accelerated pace, requiring additional investments of approximately $16 million.

Kimberly Carter of the Chambers County Development Authority (CCDA) told the commission that Knauf’s continued growth solidifies their footprint in Chambers County. When they reopened two years ago, Knauf employed 140 but with the continued expansion, the company plans to increase that number to 220 over the next four years.

The amended abatement approved by the commission is for $66,146,875 and will follow the previous 10-year schedule approved in 2013. It covers the costs of expansion and the addition of new equipment.

Carter said that the abatement will involve $225,998.90 annually in property taxes and $2,229,891 in one-time sales and use taxes. Non-abated taxes that will go to the local school systems include $1,462,861 in property taxes and $317,984 in sales and use taxes.

Knauf isn’t the only Chambers County industry looking to expand. The Lanett City Council approved an abatement request for MeadWestvaco at their meeting Monday night. CCDA Executive Director Valerie Gray told the council that the company would be undergoing a $19 million expansion that will create 12 new jobs. Gray said the abatement had to come from the City of Lanett, rather than Chambers County, because the plant falls under Lanett police jurisdiction.

MeadWestvaco recently merged with Rock-Tenn, creating a multi-billion dollar packaging company. Gray said the merger would be good for the company and Chambers County because it will drive costs down and make them more competitive in the global marketplace.

Walk-A-Thon set for Saturday in downtown LaFayette

This Saturday, the Mt. Zion Baptist Church Ushers Ministry will host the St. Jude Walk-A-Thon here in downtown LaFayette to raise funds for children stricken with cancer.

A Walk-A-Thon for St. Jude raises funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital through the Special Events for St. Jude fundraising program. St. Jude is one of the world’s premier centers for the research and treatment of pediatric cancer and other catastrophic childhood diseases.

St. Jude depends on community based fundraising programs like Special Events for St. Jude. At St. Jude, families never pay for treatment not covered by insurance and no child is ever denied treatment because of the family’s inability to pay. St. Jude has treated children from all 50 states and around the globe. The hospital freely shares its discoveries with scientific and medical communities worldwide.

The Mt. Zion Baptist Church Walk-A-Thon will take place on the Chambers County Courthouse Square. Registration begins at 8:30 am CST and the walk will begin at 9 am. A minimum donation of $10 is required to walk. The LifeSouth Blood Mobile will also be on site.

CCDA’s Gray gives LaFayette City Council annual economic update

Chambers County Development Authority Executive Director Valerie Gray presented the CCDA’s annual report for 2014 to the LaFayette City Council at their meeting Monday night.

Gray told the council that last year, $91.796 million in capital investments were made in the county and 543 new jobs were created. Five existing industries expanded, two new companies announced they were locating in Chambers County and four new retailers opened.

The county’s most recent unemployment rate was 5.2 percent, which is lower than the statewide rate of 5.7 percent, and much lower than at this time last year, when the rate was 7.6 percent.

Gray said the Development Authority is currently working 30 active projects, of which 21 are industrial projects, five are retail and four are commercial.

She said that work is ongoing to achieve AdvantageSite status for a large tract of land (228 acres) in LaFayette on the Hwy 50 bypass. AdvantageSite status means that a property is “shovel ready.” It is certified by the state of Alabama as an industrial park that is ready to be occupied. Gray said that she hopes to submit the LaFayette site for AdvantageSite certification this fall.

In 2014, the CCDA awarded six small business grants to county businesses, including two in LaFayette, which were Lowe’s Pharmacy and Sam Burch’s Barbershop.

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