The year in news: What were the biggest news stories of 2018? 

Published 5:02 pm Wednesday, December 26, 2018


CCHS girls defend title against Isabella

Chilton County High School successfully defended its girls county basketball title with a 60-34 victory against Isabella.


CCHS defeats THS with big fourth quarter

Chilton County High School won 60-49 in a back-and-forth game against the Thorsby Rebels and punched its ticket to the county championship game on Jan. 6. The Tigers were clinging to a 43-40 lead heading into the fourth quarter, but the final eight minutes belonged to CCHS, as it outscored Thorsby 17-9 during that stretch.



MHS wins $500 in kindness challenge

Being kind came with a big reward for Maplesville High School students after being selected as a winner in the Middle School Kindness Challenge. Teacher Brittany Yeargan said each of the first 100 schools to complete the challenge, including Maplesville, was awarded $500 toward a Donors Choose project.


Clanton Intermediate honored for state score

Clanton Intermediate School staff was recognized for receiving the highest score in the county on the state’s A-F report card during the Chilton County Board of Education meeting on Feb. 20.

CIS received an 81/B overall. The school received a 91.99 on academic growth and a 66.46 on academic achievement.


Thorsby boys win area title

The Thorsby Rebels put a cap on a flawless season in area play with a 72-60 victory against Billingsley in the Area9-2A championship on Feb. 9.


Schools to partner with officers

The Chilton County Board of Education unanimously approved a motion “to partner with local municipalities and the Sheriff’s Office to place certified police officers randomly in our schools” during a special called meeting on Feb. 23.



Peach crop should be fine

Despite a cold snap this week, the blooming Chilton County peach crop is expected to be largely unaffected.

“Whenever we have a cold front it is always a concern, but the temperature will not get cold enough to be a major concern this time,” Edgar Vinson, Alabama Cooperative Extension Systems fruit specialist, said.



Thorsby wraps up perfect area

The Thorsby baseball team won five times against Verbena and Billingsley and wrapped up the regular season with a perfect record in Area. The Rebels handled business by defeating Billingsley 17-1 and 6-2 during a home series to end area play April 13.


Mulberry Baptist celebrates milestone

Mulberry Baptist Church in Isabella is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year, making it older than the state of Alabama.


Library receives 1,000 books

The Chilton/Clanton Public Library has been named one of only three libraries in the country to receive a 2018 Bookapalooza Program award by the Association for Library Services to Children.

As a recipient, the Chilton/Clanton Public Library will receive about 1,000 books. Library director Savannah Kitchens said these will be divided among the library branches in Clanton,

Jemison and Thorsby.



Sylvia Singleton named county administrator

Sylvia Singleton was approved for the position of county administrator by the Chilton

County Commission during its May 14 meeting.

The process to fill the position had been ongoing since former administrator Crista Madden was placed on administrative leave on March 1.


Martin has had ‘quite a ride’ as probate judge

It has been 29 years and three months since Bobby Martin took up the gavel as Chilton County Probate Judge. That was in 1989, just after his election in 1988.

“It moves so fast, it’s hard to realize that you’ve been here 29 years and three months. It’s hard to describe how fast it goes,” he said.

Beginning mid-January 2019, Martin will be exiting the Chilton County Courthouse and stepping into retirement. But the countdown begins with the June 5 primary elections.



Primary election results show changes to CCS leadership

Chilton County Schools will have a new superintendent and at least four new Board of Education members when the next governmental term begins in January.

Jason Griffin won the Republican primary over incumbent Tommy Glasscock. Griffin received 5,276 votes.


IHS wins 3 track and field state titles

The Isabella Mustangs track team excelled in the throwing

events at the 2018 AHSAA State Track and Field Meet in Cullman.

Sophomore Katelyn Smitherman won state titles in girls javelin and girls discus. Senior Jarred Campbell won in boys shot put, and fellow senior Willie Washington rounded out the podium with a third place finish in the same event.


Peach crop makes drastic turnaround from last year

Last year Alabama’s commercial fruit suffered a loss in productivity from lack of chill hours in the winter. Chill hours are considered to be anything under

45 F.

This is crucial to the productivity and the deciding factor of how each crop of peaches will be. All of the farmers in the county struggled with the lack of chill hours last year and are excited to just have a crop this year.

Peaches were in season this year at the first of May and will continue until the end of August.


Rain stays away for 2018 Peach Jam

Members of the Chilton County Chamber of Commerce may have been holding their breath as heavy downpours and strong winds engulfed the area on June 28, just a day ahead of the annual Peach Jam.

After all, the event was rained out just a year ago. The weather held off the next day, however, and Peach Jam was able to go off without a hitch on June 29.



Calhoun ‘honored’ to be next county probate judge

Jason Calhoun was driving down Highway 191 the night of the Republican Primary runoff on July 17.

He said he had always promised to pick up his campaign signs by the day after the runoff, and he was setting himself to the task right as the polls closed at 7 p.m. Tuesday night.

He did not know that he had defeated fellow candidate and personal friend Rex Cleckler for the position of Chilton County Probate Judge until Cleckler called Calhoun to congratulate him on his victory.

“It was a good call,” Calhoun said. “I parked on the side of the road, and I talked with him for about five minutes. He was very humble and gracious, and he offered to help me in any way he could.”

Calhoun defeated Cleckler in the runoff by just 142 votes in a very tight race.


Glasscock named to state CTE position

Chilton County Schools superintendent, has been named Deputy State Superintendent of Career and Technical Education.

“It’s a pretty big honor,” Glasscock said. “It’s an awesome job.”

The appointment was made official in an Alabama Board  of Education meeting on July 10.


Peoples Southern Bank merging with River Bank & Trust

Peoples Southern Bank announced via press release July 11 that it will be entering into a strategic merger with River Bank & Trust.

The merger will “combine two well-respected banking franchises in Alabama.”

The combined bank will exceed $1 billion in total assets, $660 million in total loans, $890 million in total deposits and will feature 14 locations across the state of Alabama.



Lucas named FFA Advisor of the Year

Thorsby FFA has been through its share of success in recent years, and one of the reasons why is the relationship that has been created between advisor Brian Lucas and his students.

Lucas was recently recognized as the 2018 Alabama FFA Advisor of the Year during the state convention in June.

Members of Thorsby FFA nominated Lucas and pushed for him as a worthy candidate.


Skillet headlines En Fuego 2018

A large crowd full of locals and visitors to Chilton County gathered on a hillside in Verbena for the Christian music festival En Fuego on Aug. 25.

The festival, which was started in 1997, was headlined by well-known Christian rock band Skillet.

En Fuego also featured performances by Bonray, Rhett Walker Band, Ryan Stevenson and Sidewalk Prophets.


Former Clanton police chief sentenced to 10 years

Former Clanton Police Chief Brian Stilwell was sentenced Aug. 28 to 10 years in prison for his conviction of an ethics violation and fraudulent use of a credit card.

According to a press release by the Office of Attorney General Steve Marshall, “Circuit Judge Ben Fuller ordered the prison sentence to be split so that Stilwell will serve three years in prison first, followed by five years of probation. Stilwell received the same concurrent sentences for both convictions.”

Stilwell pled guilty in April. The crimes occurred between 2010 and 2015 when Stilwell was police chief of Clanton and treasurer of the Chilton County Fraternal Order of Police. The Criminal Trials Division of the attorney general’s office presented evidence to a Chilton County grand jury resulting in his indictment on Feb. 2, 2017.



Barlow named IDB director

It has been roughly two months since Whitney Barlow was hired as the director of the Chilton County Industrial Development Board. Although it is very early in the process, Barlow is dedicated to helping the county grow its industrial standing in Alabama.


CIS celebrates student achievement, grant

Clanton Intermediate School celebrated being one of the top 50 schools in the state for third grade reading scores and receiving$20,000 during a special assembly on Aug. 31. The funds are being awarded by the Alabama State Department of Education. Fourth-grade students were congratulated on their hard work the previous year.


BOE approves officer contract

The Chilton County Board of Education approved contracts with the local police departments and the Chilton County Sheriff’s Office for school security and resource officers during the Sept. 18 meeting. “This is one of the best things that we have done since I have been here,” Board member Curtis Smith said.



Senior Connection now under Clanton city umbrella

Senior Connection is now under the City of Clanton umbrella. The Middle Alabama Area Agency on Aging (M4A) formerly paid the majority of the salary of Senior Connection director Vanessa McKinney, while the City of Clanton paid a portion. However, M4A decided to drop its funding of the position. The Clanton City Council voted to cover all of McKinney’s salary at its last meeting

in September.


Clanton man shot, killed in Ollie Park area

A Clanton man was shot multiple times and killed on Oct. 21. Clanton Police Department was notified after a 911 call came in

regarding a subject shot in the area of Ollie Park around 3:19 a.m. According to a CPD press release, “Patrol officers responded and located a subject that had been shot multiple times. It was determined that the subject was deceased, and detectives were notified. Detectives conducted a preliminary investigation and determined that the victim was Alex Nasson Postell, a 21-year-old

resident of Clanton. A short time later, a suspect was identified as Jermik Rashon Lykes, a 25-year-old resident of

Chilton County.”


CCHS receives A+ College Ready award

Chilton County High School has been named a School of Excellence by A+ College Ready based on Advanced Placement courses

qualifying scores from last school year. AP coordinator Jamie Gault said this is the first year for CCHS to receive the award. CCHS is a part of the A+ College Ready pipeline grant, which helps cover costs for offering pre-AP courses for freshman and sophomore students and AP classes for juniors and seniors.


Chilton County celebrates 150th birthday

Chilton County will observe the 150th anniversary of the county’s formation Oct. 20-27. Derric Scott, president of the Chilton County Historical Society, said it is important to host a celebration every50 years. “You always need to remember your history and remember where you came from,” he said. “It’s good to know the how’s and the why’s of things that happened. If you wait longer than50 years, a lot of people will miss out on participating in a big anniversary celebration.”



Joint operation nets drug bust in Maplesville

A joint operation by members of the Chilton County Sheriff’s Office, Clanton Police Department and MaplesvillePolice Department has resulted in the arrest of 39-year-old Wesley Ryan Morrow and 32-year old Bridgett Lee Schoener, according to CCSO Assistant Chief Deputy Shane Mayfield. According to Mayfield, a drug search warrant was executed on Taylor Drive in Maplesville on Nov. 1.


CAEC to offer broadband internet to customers

Over the last two years, Central Alabama Electric Cooperative has been researching the feasibility

of offering high-speed broadband internet to the communities it serves. CAEC has been hosting an online survey

for residents in Chilton County and other areas asking if they are satisfied with their current internet options and if they would be interested in using a broadband service provided by CAEC, if the company decided to make that available.



CCS has AdvancED accreditation visit

Chilton County Schools administration is eagerly waiting to hear from AdvancED the decision on whether the school system will receive district-wide accreditation through this independent entity. While the school system is accredited through the state, AdvancED offers an

additional level of accreditation, which includes an outside source’s review of the school system and can bring additional benefits to graduates.


CCA announces AdvancED accreditation

Chilton Christian Academy has announced its full accreditation through AdvancED. This gives the school accreditation from three accrediting organizations. In addition to AdvancED, the school is also accredited by the Association of Christian

Teachers and Schools and National Council for Private Schools.


2 people found guilty in Payne murder case

Two people involved in the 2015 kidnapping, torture and murder of 29-year-old Samantha Payne of Maplesville have been found guilty by a jury in Tuscaloosa. Marcus George, 37, and Alyssa Watson, 25, were both found guilty of murder and kidnapping in the first degree on Nov. 19. Sentences ranging up to life in prison are possible for each of them. Michael David Belcher of Centreville and Chylli Bruce and Steven George of Brent are also involved in the case.


Business owner, mother jailed for ordinance violation

Two people in Clanton were arrested and sentenced to serve 30 days in jail on Dec. 11 for failure to comply with a city ordinance prohibiting clutter and debris on property inside the city limits. Randy Cleckler, 64, and his 89-year-old mother Odean Cleckler, were sentenced by Clanton municipal judge Hollis Jackson III after Randy Cleckler failed to clean up the property around his business, Cleckler’s Appliances & Parts, within the timeframe allotted by the court.