County commissioners sworn in office

Larry Akers, right, is sworn in by Judge Mark Hammitte at the Marion County Commission Office in Hamilton.

By Louis Mellini
Staff writer
HAMILTON — Two new commissioners took to their seats as all commissioners were sworn in before the Marion County Commission meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 16, at the commission office in Hamilton.
Both Larry Akers and Greg Gunnin got their feet wet in their first meeting, setting rules of order for the next term.

Marion County advances to third round of playoffs

Marion County’s Riley Smith (#57) gets his hands on the jersey of a Valley Head runner and drags him to the ground. Also pictured are Jameson Webb (#51), Gavin Cole (#2), Brooks Junkin (#55), Cam Blanchard (#59) and Landon Morrow (#6).

GUIN — The Marion County High School Red Raiders are advancing to the third round of the state playoffs after a 27-6 victory over the visiting Valley Head High School Tigers on Friday night, Nov. 11.

Suicide Riley: A look into local WWII casualty

Ernest Ray Riley

By Luke Brantley
Staff writer
APRIL 1, 1945, OKINAWA, JAPAN —  World War II was ending. The war in Europe was drawing to a close with Germany on the verge of surrender, and now the island of Okinawa stood as the final barrier between U.S. forces and the Japanese mainland.
After over a week of naval bombardment, U.S. troops made landfall. It would be one of the bloodiest battles of the war in the Pacific, with U.S. troops sustaining around 50,000 casualties as the battle raged through April and May, then into June.

Electric vehicle charging stations coming to Guin

Guin has received a grant of $407,000 to install six electric vehicle charging stations. The exact location is not yet known.

By Louis Mellini
Staff writer
GUIN — The City of Guin received a grant of $407,000 from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs to install six new electric vehicle charging stations possibly at exit 26 on I-22, where the Holiday Inn in Guin is located.
State Representative Tracy Estes (R-Winfield) stated he was informed of the awarding of the grant on Monday, Oct. 31.

County celebrates jail groundbreaking

From left, Bob Burleson, Keith Nichols, Dale Holt, Angela Berry, Kevin Williams and Tim “Ears” Estes break ground on the new Marion County Jail facility in Hamilton. Not pictured is Commissioner Kenneth Cochran.

By Louis Mellini
Staff writer
HAMILTON — Marion County Sheriff Kevin Williams and the Marion County Commission joined with government officials and leaders in the county to celebrate the groundbreaking of the new Marion County Jail in Hamilton.
The event took place at the future jail site located at the Bedford Industrial park in Hamilton located near Marion County DHR Friday, Nov. 4.

Mathieson steps up for foster families

By Louis Mellini
Staff writer
HAMILTON — With the growing need of foster families in Marion County rising every year, Marion County has had its need of foster families growing as well.
Luckily for the county, Hamilton resident Melissa Mathieson has been one of a few to step up to the plate.
Mathieson began her journey in foster care after a storm damaged her home in 2017.
“When we were in the process of rebuilding our house, I always felt like we were building our house for something bigger than us or for somebody other than us,” said Mathieson.

Guin Elementary surpasses set goal for test scores

Guin Elementary School surpasses a goal of 70 percent for English/language arts for the school test scores. They reached 72.6 percent.

By P.J. Gossett
General Manager
GUIN — Malcolm X said, “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” Josh Weatherly, principal at Guin Elementary School, prepared a goal for last year’s school test scores. When the results were released, Weatherly found the school not only met the goal but surpassed it.
“Last year for our goal, we wanted to hit 70 percent (for English/language arts),” Weatherly said.

Aniah’s Law on ballot Tuesday

Aniah Blanchard

By Luke Brantley
Staff writer
MARION COUNTY — Next Tuesday night, Nov. 8, an important law will be on the ballot.
Voters will decide if Amendment 1, which will change Section 16 of the state constitution to allow judges to deny bail to violent offenders, will go into effect.

Commissioners award jail bids

Groundbreaking for the new jail will be Friday, Nov. 4, at 10 a.m. at the Bedford Industrial Park. Shown is the old jail.

By Louis Mellini
Staff writer
HAMILTON — In a decision that may have been too close for comfort, the Marion County Commission voted to award several bids that signals the official start of the Marion County Jail construction.
Commissioners had eight bid packages on the table for their meeting on Monday, Oct. 24, at the commission office in Hamilton.
Bids were opened just last month, giving commissioners the cost of contracts for general works, detention and security, plumbing, HVAC, electrical, concrete, masonry and sitework to be done for the new jail facility.

Marion’s XC teams advance to state meet

Hamilton’s teams are, back row from left, Coach Scotty Sanderson, Jonathan Flake, Jake Webb, Josh Webb, Kaden Whitaker, Ian Cole, Lane Taylor, Anderson Streetman and Braden Bannister. Front row are MaKayla Peoples, Anne Wiginton, Madelyn Hulsey, Maya Jones, Jadelyn Dawkins and Jane Wiginton.

By Luke Brantley
Staff writer
MARION COUNTY —  Last Thursday, Oct. 27, Marion County cross country teams competed in sectionals to determine who would advance to the state meet.
Marion County High School, Winfield City High School and Hamilton High School will each be sending at least one team to compete in the state meet at the Oakville Indian Mounds on Saturday, Nov. 5.

Buttahatchee River Fall Fest this weekend

A scene from last year’s festival is shown. Photo by Louis Mellini.

By Luke Brantley
Staff writer
HAMILTON — The Hamilton Area Chamber of Commerce will be holding the 16th annual Buttahatchee River Fall Fest this weekend on Saturday, Oct. 29 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in downtown Hamilton.
Vendors will be selling arts and crafts and other goods, along with food. Other events include a tractor show, a car and motorcycle show, live music, childrens activities and more.

Christmas for Kids returns

By Louis Mellini
Staff writer
MARION COUNTY — Christmas for Kids has returned for yet another year in Hamilton and will aim to help kids in the community this holiday season.
The charity, started in 1985 by Sandy Sandlin, will start its 37th year this November.
The charity organization aims to help children in Marion County by having individuals donate money to purchase clothes and other items for families.
Up through this year there have been $892,899 raised in donations. Gifts have been donated to 12,176 children since the program began.

Marion County and Hamilton back animal organizations to help stray issue

Commissioners Dale Holt (left) and Tim “Ears” Estes view photos of stray animals taken in by Hoof or Paw.

By Louis Mellini
Staff writer
HAMILTON — With the stray animal issue in Marion County continuing to be a problem, organizations such as Hoof or Paw have been left struggling to keep up with the demand of caring for stray animals due to the financial restraints.
This past week, both the Marion County Commission and the City of Hamilton have approved appropriations for Hoof or Paw and other organizations in the county.

Jail looms, county budget blooms

Marion County projects $1.9 million surplus in this fiscal year’s budget.

By Louis Mellini
Staff writer
HAMILTON —Things are looking up at the perfect time financially for the Marion County Commission. With the new Marion County Jail looming over the county's head, things have seemingly been looking negative due to the high cost of the jail’s construction.
According to the county's approved budget for 2023, however, Marion County is in the best financial shape it has been in quite some time.

Multiple cities and hospitals receive grants

Left to right, Tracy Estes, case manager Crystal Barton, director of case management Amanda Taylor and CEO Michael Windham stand with floor plans for the proposed renovations made possible by the USDA grant.

By Luke Brantley
Staff writer
MARION COUNTY —  Multiple cities and hospitals in Marion County have received grants for different projects each city is undergoing.
The largest grant went to the City of Winfield for the hospital, Northwest Regional Care, which received a $1 million U.S. Department of Agriculture Emergency Rural Healthcare Grant.
According to Hospital CEO Michael Windham, the grant investment will be used to renovate rooms and purchase equipment and supplies for the care and treatment of long-term COVID-19 patients.