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The Florala News
Florala , Alabama
December 31, 2008     The Florala News
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December 31, 2008

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,,I,LL i u  -,,,t N E"Y',P..-t'.PER S 5026 CALtFORi',ttA AVE SV",/ SEATTLE ",." Y81G1--'0 ii,i,,I,,!,,,,!i,,11,,11,,,,,i1,,I,!!!,,,i,,I,,,I,1,1!,,,!,,!! ESTABLISHED 1900 Location Of One Hundred Thirty-Eight Consecutive Annual Masonic Celebrations ONE HUNDRED EIGHTH YEAR" NUMBER 37-WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 3 !, 2008- ! 0 PAGES- 50 PER ISSUE [SALES TAX INCLUDED) 2008 -the year in review JANUARY The Prescription Drug Monitoring Program database, designed to keep track of class two through class five drugs, as they are defined by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency and the State of Alabama has been checked more than 30,000 times since it became functional last year. The database is regularly checked by doctors, medical license boards, law enforcement officials and others who track the prescriptions and sales of controlled substances in the state. The database collects information on oxycontin, valium, and other pain killers but doesn't keep track of non con- trolled substances like antibiotics. Drugs that are given in hospital, hospice and nursing homes aren't tracked through the system. The Walton County Sheriffs Office (WCSO) in- vestigated the discovery of a body found January 2 in Pax- ton. Deputies were dispatched to a wooded area near Pitt- man Road where the body of a black male was located. The body was identified as Randy Gardner, age 24, of Daytona Beach, FL. Investigators confirmed that Gardner was the same individual for whom deputies spent approxi- mately 10 hours searching the woods of north Walton Coun- ty in December of 2007. Deputies had responded to a 9-1-1 call to search for a male who was lost in the woods. Canine units searched the woods but without success. A vehicle was discovered abandoned nearby the scene. Further search of the scene uncovered marijuana, methamphetamine, and cocaine. A Florala man, stabbed during the Mullet Festival in Niceville, FL on October 21, 2007, has been arrested and the stabbing classified as self defense. The stabbing victim, 18-year-old James Walter Suttles of Florala, was arrested and charged with burglary to an oc- cupied vehicle with intent to commit battery. The man who stabbed him, 18-year-old Ryan McCurley, also of Florala, was not be charged with a crime because police ruled the stabbing as self defense. Covington County law enforcement officials arrested an 18-year-old man and charged him with theft of prop- erty for stealing air conditioners from Damascus Baptist Church. The estimated damage to the church was $1,600. Jacob Dunnigan was arrested by authorities who said the teen stole the air conditioners in order to get to the copper inside to sell to recycling centers. Authorities were searching for two other suspects 21-year-old Dal William Hardison and 36-year-old Benja- min Lee in connection with the burglary. According to an Okaloosa County Sheriffs Department arrest report, Hardison had been arrested and charged with stealing air conditioners from Bethel Assembly of God in Laurel Hill, FL. The report alleges that Hardison stole two free standing condensers estimated at $1,900 and cram- aged a third by cutting its electrical and refrigerant lines. Hardison had been charged with grand theft and criminal mischief. He was subsequently arrested by the CCSD. FIRST NEW YEAR BABY IS A FLORALA RESIDENT - Florala's newest resident, Mary-Lynn Elizabeth Thames, was the first baby born in Opp when she made her entrance at Mizell Memorial Hospital at 7:33 p.m. on Jan. 3, 2008. She weighed 6 pounds 7 ounces and was 20 inches long. Proud mother, Brittany Kelly of Florala, was presented with a congratulatory basket filled with a variety of products do- nated by Mizell OB nurses and area merchants, and valued at more than $600. Also pictured are, standing from left, Melissa Chirico, RN, OB unit supervisor; Dr. Bhagwan D. Bang, pediatrician; and Dr. Robert Bowen, OB/ GYN. ment agencies who financially to the DTF, which are the Andalusia Police Department, Opp Police Department, Flo- rala Police Department, Lockhart Police Department and the Covington County Sheriffs Department. Alabama State Senator Jimmy Holley, who represents Covington County, announced that he was no longer a member of the Democratic party, but had switched to the Republican party. Holley's record shows that he has consis- tently voted like a Republican since 2003. The four-way stop that intersects at Highway54/Hickory Street and Fifth Avenue was restriped by the Alabama Department of Transporta- tion. The lane pattern was changed to accommodate semi trucks. The eastbound lane has been merged two lanes to one. A new sign was also erected to warning motorists. The 22nd Judicial Drug Task Force (DTF) and the Alabama Beverage Control Board (ABC) arrested twelve alleged drug dealers. A month long investigation was conducted that culmi- nated with a round up of suspects targeted for the sale of illegal narcotics. Those arrested during the county-wide roundup were Arthur Olmstead, age 27, of Florala was ar- rested and charged with two counts of distribution of a con- trolled substance and was held on a $200,000 bond; Dustin Beverly, age 29, of Florala was arrested and charged with two counts of distribution of a controlled substance and was held under a $200,000 bond; Bobby Lee, age 22, of Florala was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana in the second degree and possession of drug paraphernalia and was held under a $6,000 bond; Jeffrey Henderson, age 32, of Lock_hart was arrested and charged with one count of distribution of a controlled substance and was held un- der a $100,000 bond; Megan Brooks, age 23, of Lockhart was arrested and charged with distribution of a controlled substance, possession of marijuana in the second degree and possession of drug paraphernalia and was held under a $106,000 bond. Others arrested were Grady Lee, Jr., age 29, of Heath, Joshua Lee, age 26, of Andalusia, Christopher Parkin, age 34, of Andalusia, Terry McClain, age 25, of Andalusia, Cody Johnson, age 20, of Andalusia, John Rolling, age 62, of An- dalusia. The Covington County Commission's first meeting of 2008 saw a standing room only crowd as over 100 resi- dents attended to voice their opinions at a public hearing regarding enforcing a 1989 ordinance mandating compli- ance with regulations of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The ordinance regulates construction in flood zones. The ordinance was adopted 19 years ago but has never been enforced and in doing so, the county risks the loss of flood insurance. FEBRUARY 40-year-old Michael Raymond Kelley of Florala was killed on Alabama State Highway 55 in a one vehicle ac- cident. A Baker, FL man was found dead Sunday afternoon by a friend after riding off on an ATV (all terrain vehicle). Donald Price, age 57, was found in a hole of water off Blue Valley Drive just of County Road 4 between Florala and see YEAR page 2 Covington County District Attorney Greg Gambril di- vided his office's share of the proceeds from an auction of the Bowers estate, seized during a 2006 drug raid in Flo- rala, between the Drug Task Force (DTF) and Covington County Incident Response Team. Gambril presented DTF and ICT Agents Ray Dixon and Paul Hudson both with checks totaling more than $4,500. He donated $2,850 to the Drug Task Force to be used for undercover narcotic operations and $1,680 to the IRT to purchase much needed radio and communication equip- ment. Once all outstanding debts against the property had been settled law enforcement agencie s throughout the county were left to divide the remaining $159,525, off the top the circuit clerk's office at the Andalusia Courthouse received five percent which was $7,976. The remaining amount, $80,894, was pro rated among the agencies that participate in the DTF. The proceeds were broken down to the agencies based on the amount they contributed: the DA's office, which contributes 28.4 percent to the DTF re- ceived $23,055 and the DTF received $60,655; the remain- ing funds were divided among the remaining law enforce- FIREMEN ATTEMPTED to put out a fire at the home of Tim and Wendy Hardage on Cherokee Street in Lockhart early Monday morning. The cause of the fire is uknown at this time. Lockhart and Florala fire departments responded along with the Florala Police Department, Covington Coun- ty Sheriff's Office and Florala EMS. by Jan Allred The Florala City Coun- cil Chamber was filled to capacity last week as residents gathered to find out who wouldbe hired as the Florala's new Chief of Police. The city has been without a perma- nent chief for almost two years. During the last admin- istration, Florala resi- dent Caleb Davidson was appointed to the posi- tion but resigned several months after accepting the position. After Davidson re- signed, then Mayor Dan- ny Franklin appointed former Coffee County Sheriffs Deputy Mark Anderson as chief without discussing the appoint- ment with the Florala City Council. Anderson was never hired for the position by the council. Lockhart resident Bruce Maddox was the last person hired for the chief of police position. His career was short lived and he submitted his res- ignation in April of 2007, citing health reasons. Following the resigna- tion of Maddox, Franklin once again appointed An- derson, who remained at the department in a cap- tain's slot, as acting chief until the newly elected administration took of- rice. At last Monday's meet- ing, Florala Mayor Rob- ert Williamson explained that the vote for police chief would be a voice vote. He explained that a voice vote is conducted by allowing each coun- cil member to voice their choice for the position. The three applicants re- maining were Sonny Bed- sole, Tim Hardage and Chris Jackson "Each council mem- ber will say the name of the individual they want for chief and after that process is complete, the coucncil will vote on the applicant whose name has been said more than the others," Williamson said. District One Councih woman Hazel Lee said ei- ther of the final three can- didates were more than qualified for the position and she assured residents she had weighed the pros and cons for each appli- cant. Lee told Lockhart Po- lice Chief Tim Hardage what a fantastic job he did during the meet and greet. She said of the three applicants, he was more at ease answering Bedsole selected as Florala Chief of Police the questions and he gave precise answers. Lee said she liked Act- ing Police Chief Chris Jackson's educational background; but one thing working against him was his lack of experience. When Lee spoke of ABC Agent Sonny Bed- sole, she began to express uncertainty of whether he would be good fit for the city because she had been told by people in her district the one bad thing about him was the fact he has a volatile temper. According to Lee, Bed- sole's experience and management capabilities are what Florala needs said based on the factors she outlined, she would have to recommend him for the position. Lee told Bedsole she would like to see Jackson remainat Florala and '%e %b take over the position when Bedsole re- tired. She said Jackson had a lot of potential and she wanted to see that potential utilized because he is and would be an as- set to the city for a long time. Lee concluded stating, "I am so sorry, I know I am going to pay for this in iny district but I must act logically 'and not emo- tionally." District One Council- man Marvin Willford echoed Lee's remarks adding he had known Bedsole personally for years and felt he was the right man for the job. Williford weighed all three applicants' experi- ence and just what they would being to the table and though he felt any of the men would do a good job, but felt Bedsole would do just a little better and right now that is exactly what Florala needed. District Three Council- man Danny Thames said he agreed Bedsole is more than qualified, but felt Jackson should be given the job and at least be given a a chance. District Four Coun- cilman Jimmy Waldrop said he had no comments, good or bad, to make and stated his choice was Bedsole. District Five Council- woman Gloria Cassady said she listened to the residents in her district and recommended Bed- sole for the position. After a voice vote, in which Bedsole had the majority of votes, Wil- liamson asked Florala City Clerk Kathy Rathel see CHIEF page 10