Chambers County sees drop in meth production

Meth 1

Local law enforcement officials hosted a press conference last week to discuss the progress made in eradicating the production and use of methamphetamine in Chambers County. Changes in state laws have greatly aided law enforcement as they fight meth. Only one meth lab has been busted so far this year, compared to 88 in 2011. Pictured, from left, at the press conference, are LaFayette Police Chief Kenneth Vines, Lanett Police Chief Angie Spates, Valley Police Chief Tommy Weldon, Lt. Robert Chambers, Director of the Chambers County Multijurisdictional Drug Task Force; Sheriff Sid Lockhart, Fifth Judicial Circuit District Attorney Chief Assistant Damon Lewis and Lt. Johnny Wood, Drug Task Force Commander.

Over the past two years, the manufacture and sale of methamphetamines in Chambers County has significantly declined, thanks in part to state legislation and anti-meth programs that have aided law enforcement agencies.

A press conference was held this past Thursday by local law enforcement officials to highlight the progress made in the fight against meth in the county. Chambers County Sheriff Sid Lockhart, along with District Attorney Chief Assistant Damon Lewis, Valley Police Chief Tommy Weldon, LaFayette Police Chief Kenneth Vines, Lanett Police Chief Angie Spates, Drug Task Force Project Director Lt. Robert Chambers and Drug Task Force Commander Johnny Wood, were on hand to discuss the Alabama anti-meth legislation that is considered some of the toughest against the drug in the nation.

In 2012, the state passed comprehensive legislation designed to assist law enforcement in the battle against meth, as well as reduce the sales of precursor ingredients to individuals who purchase them with the explicit purpose of manufacturing illegal substances, a practice referred to as “smurfing.”

Since that time Chambers County law enforcement officials have been able to dramatically reduce the manufacture of the drug. The results are evident in the numbers. Lt. Chambers said that in 2011 the Drug Task Force busted 88 meth labs, that number decreased to 40 in 2012, then to four in 2013. So far this year, the Task Force has busted just one lab in the county. As a result, meth use has also declined. “Before these laws were passed in 2012 Chambers County made over 120 meth-related arrests,” Chambers said. “This year, we have made only 13 arrests.”

“Alabama is leading the nation through our efforts to prevent meth production and use in our communities,” Lockhart said. “In Chambers County we have made tremendous progress. All the men and women in law enforcement in Chambers County and the surrounding counties have worked extensively to ensure that this dangerous drug is being eradicated and kept out of our communities.”

Lt. Chambers said that the new laws have made “smurfing’ a felony and that had greatly aided in the fight. He also credited the national NPLEx reporting system. “This system tracks the sale of pseudoephedrine (PSE), which requires a government issued photo ID, and will block a sale if someone has exceeded their daily or monthly allowable limit,” he said.

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BOE approves 2014-15 budget

The Chambers County Board of Education approved the 2014-15 school year budget at a called meeting last week. The approval came days before the State Department of Education’s mandated cutoff date of September 15. The Board also approved the school year transportation plan at the meeting.

The budget amounts to approximately $42 million, and has seen relatively few changes since it was first drafted. Superintendent Kelli Hodge said the spending plan has seen minor changes in the amount of about $83,000 and that some late-arriving revenues and expenditures had to be accounted for. The increased expenditures are related to the hiring of a new school resource officer, an increase in per-student expenses and an additional $28,000 in transportation costs.

Dr. Hodge also noted that federal funds for the Title VI program had yet to arrive and will be amended into the budget at a later date.

In comparison to the previous year, the new budget has an increase in the local match due to the system losing teacher units from the state due to declining enrollment. Hodge did say that enrollment numbers for the current school year are not in yet, but that she expects them to be relatively unchanged from last year. She said that Fairfax Elementary and LaFayette High School appear to have increased enrollment, but that Eastside Elementary is down.

The transportation plan approved by the Board is a checklist of items that the local system must comply with in order to meet state guidelines.

The system has 45 route busses and 12 spare buses. The plan notes that county buses must detour around 16 bridges that are unsafe, which add 114 miles round-trip each day.

The previous school year, system busses traveled about 700,000 miles. This includes 644,280 miles on regular routes, 11,823 for field trips and approximately 20,000 for athletic events.

Fall programs have started at library

By Rachel Johnson

LaFayette Library Manager

Fall programs are underway at the LaFayette Library. StoryTime starts on Thursday, September 18th at 12:30 pm CST. This program is for pre-school children and guardians.

If You Give a Cat a Cupcake story and dessert will be held on Tuesday, September 23rd at 3:30 pm. Come listen to this fun story and decorate a cupcake to take home. Registration is required for this program by calling 334-864-0012.

Space is filling up for the Lunch-N-Learn on Friday, September 26th at noon. Author and Neurosurgeon, Dr. Warren, will speak about his time in the Iraq War. Reserve your space today.

We would like to remind everyone to check out the programs that Bradshaw Library offers. Bradshaw Library is located across from Wal-Mart in Valley. Adult Programming Coordinator, Connie Beilfuss is busy planning day trips as part of the Library Travelers program. Call Connie at 334-768-2161 for more details.

Bradshaw Library is hosting “A Night Out at the Library” on Saturday, September 27th. Enjoy a four-course meal by candlelight. After dinner enjoy a movie and popcorn. The cost is $12 per person. You may register and pay at either library.

In addition to the Library Travelers program, registration is underway for a trip to the National Infantry Museum & Solider Center in Columbus, GA on Friday, October 3rd. The cost is $30 and includes transportation, an IMAX movie: D-Day Normandy 1944, drink and popcorn, a guided indoor tour and a guided tour of WWII Company Street. The cost of lunch is not included. The deadline to register is September 19th.

For more information about any of the programs call LaFayette Library at 334-864-0012 or Bradshaw Library at 334-768-2161.

LaFayette council gets update on upcoming movie shoot

It was announced last week that scenes from the upcoming independent film “White Water” would be filmed in downtown LaFayette. Monday night, the LaFayette City Council learned some specifics about the film shoot from Richard Patton, the Location Manager for the film.

Patton told the mayor and council that the film production crew will be shooting from September 29 through October 1 here in LaFayette, and that he would provide a more detailed schedule in the coming days. Patton said that most of the scenes would be exterior shots taking place on the sidewalks around the courthouse square. The filming will require some assistance from the city with utilities and controlling traffic, mainly on Highway 431. Patton added that traffic would only need to be stopped or rerouted for about three minutes at a time.

Modern vehicles around the square will need to be temporarily moved, and Patton noted that some “period cars” would be brought in. While the exact locations of the scenes has yet to be determined, Patton said that he expected scenes to take place along both Hwy 431 and side streets around the square.

“White Water,” is a film based on a children’s book co-written by Michael Bandy, an author originally from Opelika, and Eric Stein. The book is about a black child growing up in the early 1960s in Opelika during segregation.

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‘Show Us Your Library Card’ campaign kicks off in LaFayette

Books are not the only bargain a library card can get you during national Library Card Sign-Up Month celebrated at the Chambers County Libraries in September. A number of local merchants are partnering with the Chambers County Library System to save library cardholders money by taking part in the “Show Us Your Library Card” campaign.

Simply show your current library card at participating businesses and restaurants to receive a discount or free item. Be sure to visit the libraries in Valley or LaFayette for a complete list of merchants and discounts available in LaFayette, Lanett, Valley and West Point.

LaFayette participants include: Abanda Bake Shop, Buds N Blossoms, LaFayette Barber Shop, LaFayette Library Book Sale, The LaFayette Sun, LaFayette Tru Value Hardware, Lowe’s Pharmacy, Newman’s Farm Supply, Parker’s Foods and Whaley’s Upholstery.

There is still time for other businesses to join the “Show us Your Library Card” campaign. Simply call the LaFayette Pilot Public Library at 334-864-0012 and have your business added to the list.

Library cards are free to anyone who resides or works in Chambers County, or West Point, Georgia. Your address will need to be verified by showing the library staff a driver’s license or a piece of mail. A parent or guardian’s signature is required for children under 16 to receive a card. There is an annual fee of $10 for anyone living outside of Chambers County and an annual fee of $15 for out of state residents.

Library Card Sign-Up Month is a great time to discover all the wonderful services available at your public library. In addition to services such as free public access to the internet, workshops, Cobb Memorial Archives for genealogical research and over 50,000 circulating volumes, Chambers County Libraries offers a variety of special programs and events.

For more information about the programs scheduled in September and throughout the year, please call Bradshaw Library at 334-768-2161 at or the LaFayette Pilot Public Library at 334-864-0012. You can also visit the libraries or the website at www.chamberscountylibrary.org. Click on the calendar or the blog for program details.

LaFayette Police make arrest after shooting

LaFayette Police have charged a man with attempted murder after a woman was shot in the neck early Sunday morning.

At approximately 1:30 am CST on Sunday, August 31, the LaFayette Police’s investigation division, with the assistance from the patrol division, was dispatched to 1271 County Road 98 in reference to a verbal argument. While responding officers were traveling to the scene, dispatch advised them that there was an unknown male with a gun in the front yard of the residence. The caller then stated informed dispatch that shots had been fired, which resulted in one injury.

Upon arrival, officers located a female subject lying in the yard suffering from a gunshot wound to the neck. The female was subsequently identified as Jessica Stewart of 7274 County Road 54 in LaFayette.

LaFayette EMS responded to the scene and then transported Stewart to East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika. She was later transported to UAB Hospital in Birmingham, where she was last reported in stable condition.

After investigators conducted several interviews at the scene, they determined that enough information had been gathered to make an arrest.

At approximately 3 am, about an hour and a half after the initial incident was first reported, LaFayette Police arrested Danny Larry McVey, 36, from LaFayette, for attempted murder and discharging a firearm into an occupied vehicle. McVay was transported to the Chambers County Detention Facility. He was later released on $100,000 bond.

Anyone with any information about this case or any other cases is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-756-5200 or the LaFayette Police Department Investigation Division’s Lt. Steve Smith at 334-864-2214 or Sgt. Chris Trice at 334-864-2200.

September 5, 2014 | Posted in: Local, News | Comments Closed

Grand Jury issues report

The Chambers County Grand Jury presented their fall term report on Friday of last week to Circuit Judge Tom Young, and it included 293 true bills and a long list of recommendations for improving the county courthouse.

In addition to the cases heard, the Grand Jury conducted physical inspections of the Chambers County Detention Facility and the Chambers County Courthouse.

They commended Sheriff Sid Lockhart and his staff on the manner in which the Detention Facility is operated and maintained. “We found the staff to be knowledgeable and efficient and the facilities were clean,” the report stated.

Assistant District Attorney Roland Sledge led the Grand Jury on a tour of the courthouse. They commended the County Commission for their work in helping to preserve the Courthouse, however, the following recommendations were made for further repair and improvement:

• Hot water is needed in all parts of the Courthouse.

• All three courtrooms need better chairs and cushions.

• The pews in the three courtrooms need to be cleaned, repaired or replaced as the case may be.

• The speaker on the last radiator on the left side of the upstairs courtroom should be replaced or removed.

• The wall on the stairwell needs to be painted.

• The paintbrush on the crown molding above the door leading to the jury room in the upstairs courtroom should be removed.

• The ceiling under the balcony in the upstairs Courtroom should be painted.

• The broken blinds in the upstairs courtroom should be replaced.

• There is black mold in the juror room in the upstairs courtroom. This should be corrected and the room painted. Read the rest of this entry »

September 3, 2014 | Posted in: Local, News | Comments Closed

Movie scenes to be filmed in city’s downtown square

LaFayette got some exciting news last week when it was announced that the city would be the setting for scenes in an upcoming movie.

Much of the filming of the independent movie “White Water” is being shot in nearby Opelika, but filmmakers have notified local officials that they wish to shoot some scenes here in LaFayette.

The idea to shoot the movie in the city fell in to place last week, when director Rusty Cundieff and first assistant director Wayne Witherspoon took a drive from Opelika looking for locations to shoot a select number of scenes. Both are from Los Angeles and unfamiliar with the area, but they stumbled upon LaFayette Tuesday and were impressed.

LaFayette Storefront Group member Carolyn Wheeler happened to see the two taking photographs of the downtown square and stopped to tell them more about the city. They told Wheeler that that they were interested in filming parts of the movie in the city and it moved quickly from that point.

Production Designer Shazz Hunter and Witherspoon returned to LaFayette on Wednesday to scout locations around the square and visited the Chambers County Museum to look at possible props to be used for filming. Read the rest of this entry »

Painting the town teal

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Local volunteers have “Painted the Town Teal” this week in LaFayette and surrounding cities. Ribbons, like the one pictured above are being displayed throughout LaFayette, Chambers County and the Auburn-Opelika area recognizing National Gynecologic Cancer Awareness month. A reception featuring AU Women’s Golf Coach and cancer survivor, Kim Evans, will be hosted on Thursday, Sept. 4 at East Alabama Medical Center’s Health Resource Center beginning at 6:00 pm. The public is invited to attend.

Council names new fire chief

The City of LaFayette has a new fire chief. At Monday’s meeting of the City Council, Heath Cotney was unanimously approved as the new chief.

Councilwoman Tammie Williams, chair of the Police and Fire Committee, made the recommendation at the meeting, noting that there were about nine applicants for the position.

Cotney, along with his family, was in attendance at the meeting and thanked the mayor and council for the appointment. Cotney has been with the LaFayette Fire Department since March of 2010 and has previously served as interim fire chief.

His appointment took effect immediately. Cotney will have a six-month review period during which time he will be compensated $55,000 annually. After the review period is over, he will earn $58,000 annually. Read the rest of this entry »

August 27, 2014 | Posted in: Local, News | Comments Closed