Clay County Chamber of Commerce Holds Annual Meeting

The Clay County Chamber of Commerce’s  annual meeting drew a nice crowd on Thursday, February 8, 2018 at the Central High Cafeteria. Those is attendance enjoyed a nice meal catered by Young House BBQ in Lineville and some left with several nice door prizes donated by local businesses. 

Chamber CEO Tiffany Young gave a recap of some of the events the Chamber had participated in for the year of 2017, most recently, Christmas in the Park at Lineville City Park and the life-sized hand-painted Christmas Card Collection in conjunction with surrounding counties and East Alabama Tourism.

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Young spoke of upcoming events that would take place in the 2018 year, such as the Clay County Fair, which will be held on the weekend of April 12-14 at the EDC Industrial Park on Hwy 9 across from Airport Rd between Lineville and Ashland. This event will feature up to 18 carnival rides, vendors and attractions. Arm Bands can be purchased for this event available at the Chamber Office during business hours. Call 256-396-2828 for more information or visit their website:

Young was also excited to announce the Chamber would be partnering  in the first Southeastern Agricultural Expo to held in conjunction with the Fair. Heading up this committee is Alicia Homburger, who spoke briefly on their expectations of this event, which main focus is to highlight and showcase the farmers of the county and the members of the Cattlemen’s and Jr. Cattlemen’s Association.

Kim Cain also gave a very brief description of the first Yellow- Meated Watermelon Festival to be held on August 11th and was hopeful to see a lot of community participation in this event.  

Afterwards, guests were very entertained by Award-winning country music singer and songwriter, Jeff Bates, as he shared details of his life story that included his hard-fought battle with drug addiction and how he overcame those demons with the help of Jesus Christ and his rise from the ashes to become a well-respected singer and songwriter. There wasn’t a person in the room who wasn’t touched by his story. For  more details of Jeff’s story, click here:

The lovely evening was capped off by the presentations of awards for the 2018 year ( Pictures below).  We congratulate all of these winners:

  • Volunteer of the Year: Kim Cain
  • New Business of the Year: Cheaha Music
  • Business of the Year: The Clay Times-Journal

Appreciation awards  were also awarded the following businesses:

  • Young House BBQ
  • Court Square Cafe
  • First State Bank
  • TruCabinetry
  • Wellborn Cabinets

An appreciation certificate was also presented to Lee and Debbie Harrison for their loyal participation in each Chamber event.

It was a very enjoyable event and we commend Tiffany and her Board for their hard work in making this such a successful event. 




Clay County Alabama Candidate List

The qualifying deadline for candidates was Feb. 9th for the statewide general election on November 6, 2018.  Here are your candidates in the Clay County race:

Circuit Judge, District 40, Clay & Coosa Counties:


  • John Keith Warren
  • David Law

Clay County Circuit Clerk:


  • Julie Poe ( Incumbent)
  • Donna Mathews

Clay County Probate Judge:


  • Dianne Branch ( Incumbent)
  • Kevin Moon

 Clay County Sheriff:


  • Jim Studdard
  • Monty Giddens
  • Mike Burdette
  • Mike Watts


  • Henry Lambert
  • Jean Dot Alexander

Clay County Board of Education, District 1:


  • Blaine Lacy ( Incumbent)


  • Keith Harris

These candidates will face off in the Statewide Primary election that will take place on June 5, 2018, with the exception of Board of Education, District 1 candidates.




Suspect lead Deputies on Afternoon Chase

On Tuesday afternoon, January 16th, Sheriff’s Deputies responded to a domestic disturbance off County Road 31 north of Highland. When deputies approached the residence in question, a white male, identified by deputies as Randy Earl Moore, was seen with rifle type weapon.

As deputies prepared to approach the suspect, Moore fled into a nearby wooded area. Information received from the complainant suggested Moore’s behavior as concerning and possible violent. Sheriff’s Deputies aided by Lineville Police Investigator Chris Mathews and Ashland Police Officer Michael Harris quickly set up a surveillance around the wooded area Moore was last seen entering. Within the hour, St. Clair Department of Corrections (DOC) K-9 Tracking Team was on the scene. Sheriff’s Deputies and DOC Officers spend the entire afternoon attempting to locate Moore.

At or around the 6 pm hour, Deputies were alerted to a possible sighting of Moore. Responding to the area in question, Moore was eventually located and taken into custody without incident.

Moore was charged with Domestic Violence 3rd, 2 counts of reckless endangerment, and one count of fleeing law enforcement.  Weapons recovered from Moore was a 30 cal. Carbine Rifle and a 9mm pistol. Moore remains in the Clay County Detention Center.

Sheriff Latham expresses a special thanks to personnel assisting in the apprehension of Moore. When faced with the knowledge that the suspect was armed with a long gun and pistol, law enforcement personnel maintained their professionalism and dedication to eliminate the threat to the surrounding community and keeping our citizens safe. It was with their continuing communication with various family members of the suspect that this incident was brought to successful ending without injury to any personnel.

Clay County Sheriff’s Office/ United States Marshals launch Operation Frozen Clay

Several months ago, Clay County Sheriff’s Deputies and the United States Marshals, Northern District of Alabama began an investigation into persons who were listed on the Clay County Sex Offender Register.

The investigation was aimed at compliance with registry requirements as stated by the Sex Offender Laws and their individual reporting requirements.  The Clay County Sheriff’s Office currently has 71 Sex Offenders that require monitoring by Sheriff’s Deputies.

On Thursday, January 11, 2018, that investigation was completed. Of the 71 sex offenders investigated, 68 were found to be in compliance and 4 were not.

Coy Lee Ingram

Arrested and charged with Sex Offender Registry Community Notification Act (SORNA) violations were: Casey Glenn, age 27 of Ashland; Coy Lee Ingram, age 52 of Ashland and Donald Hunter, age 51 of Lineville.

Casey Glenn
Donald Hunter

Additionally Fernando Rojas Hernandez remains a Clay County Fugitive on SORNA violations. Although Hernandez has ties to the Clay County area, he is believed to have fled to Cuba.  Should anyone have any information concerning the whereabouts of Hernandez, please call the Clay County Sheriff’s Office @ 256 354 2176.


During the investigation, United States Marshals and Sheriff’s Deputies obtained information that a fugitive sex offender from Florida had been seen in the central Alabama area, with possible sightings in Clay County.

On Friday afternoon, January 19th, Investigator Shanon House received information as to a location of the fugitive. Sheriff’s Deputies responded to a residence at 1969 County Road 7 were the fugitive, James Patrick Ostrander age 54 of Broward County Florida was located and arrested on local SORNA violations.

James Patrick Ostrander

Also charged was 66 year old George Willard Vix of Talladega. Vix was arrested on charges associated in the harboring, concealing or withholding information of a fugitive from justice. Ostrander had been on the lam since November 30, 2015, with several jurisdictions obtaining warrants since that time on Ostrander. Both Vix and Ostrander remain in the Detention Center with bonds totaling $45,000.00.

George Williard Vix

Sheriff Latham would like to commend Deputy Johnny Hamlin, Deputy Rick Shaddix, Investigative Supervisor Shanon House and the United States Marshal Service personnel on their work associated with the sex offender compliance registry in Clay County.

Traffic Stop in Ashland Leads to Drug Bust

 Below is a press release issued by Ashland Police Chief Joseph Stanford:

On Saturday, January 20, 2018, at approximately 1:30 a.m., Sgt. Corey Dickinson noticed a vehicle driving on AL-9 N, and traveling at a high rate of speed. Sgt. Dickinson pulled the vehicle over and made contact with the driver.

Once at the window, Sgt. Dickinson detected a smell of marijuana coming from the vehicle. Sgt. Dickinson got the driver and three passengers out of the vehicle, and conducted a search of the vehicle.

Sgt. Dickinson was able to find four (4) bags of marijuana, one (1) hydrocodone pill (a controlled substance), two (2) pistols, and over $10k dollars in money. The subjects were identified as Jaleen Freeman-Jenkins, 24 of Clarksville, TN; Keshun Hester, 24, Clarksville, TN; Dorris Acree, 20, Clarksville, TN; Kamren Bennett, 19, Clarksville, TN.  

One of the pistols came back as stolen from Clarksville, TN, and all four subjects were charged with the following charges: 

  • 1 count each of Possession of Marijuana 2nd Degree 
  • 1 count each of Receiving stolen Property 3rd Degree 
  • Freeman was charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance 
  • Bennett was charged with Possession of a Pistol without a permit 

Warrants were obtained and the subjects were still in the Clay County Jail at the time of release.  

Arson Suspected in Multiple Fires In Roanoke to Create Distraction for Attempted Bank Robbery

Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018- According to a reliable source, there have been multiple fires in Roanoke over the past few hours, all within a few miles radius.

Since around 3:00 am this morning, a mobile home, a house, and a business on Roanoke called Relentless have burned to the ground. Also, fire depts were called to Roanoke Walmart, where upon investigation, a strong burnt rubber smell was present, but no fire was found.

It is believed all of these fires were set to created a distraction for someone to rob the Ft. McClellan Credit Union.  Some of the windows were found to be broken at the Credit Union, but nothing has been stolen at this point.

Multiple fire departments from in and around the surrounding area have been called in to assist and the suspects are still at large. This is a breaking story and I will update you as the information comes in.

Couple Loses Everything to House Fire

A early morning fire on Cragford Rd destroyed the home and all the belongings of  Stephen and Danielle Denney.  The cause of the fire was a small electrical heater that shorted out.

The Denneys were using the space heater to keep their three dogs warm in one of the interior rooms of the older house. Sadly, the beloved pets perished in the fire.

The Denneys lost everything in the fire, including their vehicles. There was no insurance on the home and only liability insurance on the vehicles lost.

If anyone is interested in making a donation to the Denneys, you can do so here on their gofundme page, or dropping off at Cheaha Music on the Ashland Square between the hours of 12-6 Monday-Friday and 9-12 Saturday.

Stephen wears a XL in shirt and 40/30 in pants. Danielle wears an XL shirt in Juniors and a size 9/11 pants, also in Juniors. Any help would be much appreciated.

Clay County Law Enforcement Make Drug Arrest

Press Release Issued by Clay County Sheriff Ray Latham:

On December 7, 2017, Clay County Sheriff’s Deputies initiated a traffic stop on a vehicle traveling south on Highway 77 near Antioch Road. As Deputies approached the vehicle, the driver fled in the vehicle and continuing south on Alabama 77. A pursuit began as deputies attempted to stop the fleeing driver.

Ashland P.D. & Lineville P.D. was called to assist, as the vehicle was traveling into the Ashland area on Alabama 77. The vehicle was followed for several miles, turning onto Idaho Road, back to Antioch, then again on Alabama 77 where the driver lost control in a driveway off Alabama 77 and attempted to flee on foot.

Following a short foot pursuit, the suspect was taken into custody. It did not take long for deputies and police to realize the reason for the evasion. Arrested was Gerry Brannon Walker, age 36 of Talladega. Walker was charged with Trafficking in Methamphetamine, (ICE), Unlawful Possession of Marihuana 1st, Unlawful possession of Controlled Substance, Unlawful Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, and fleeing or attempting to elude Law Enforcement.

Also arrested was Jessica Susan McCook, age 28 of Goodwater. McCook was charged with Trafficking in Methamphetamine, (ICE), Unlawful possession of Marihuana 1st, and unlawful possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Walker remains in the Detention Center with bonds totaling $97000.00. McCook also remains in the Detention Center with bonds totaling $81000.00.

Sheriff Latham and staff would like to thank the Ashland and Lineville Police Department’s Personnel for their assistance in this arrest.  

Country Music Artist Jeff Bates to Play at Historic Ashland Theatre

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. “   Jeremiah 29:11

Country Music Artist and Songwriter Jeff Bates is a testament to this scripture. At the age of 54, Jeff has seen the best of times, the worst of times, and is now using these life lessons as a tool to help others. His incredible story is one of inspiration that should be written in stone to be shared with the world in order to show people that no matter how bad things are going in your life, there is always room for redemption. This is his story:

Jeff Bates was born in Mobile, Alabama on September 19,1963 to a life he was probably fortunate enough to not remember. At just 3 months old, Jeff was placed on the doorstep of a sharecropper couple in the wee hours of the morning. Awakened by his cries, they were startled to find a very sick infant in a basket in a soiled diaper wrapped in a blanket on their porch. The blanket he was draped in, as well as much of Jeff’s little body, was covered with burns and he had double pneumonia. The Bates opened their hearts and home to this child, as they nursed him back to health. He was an answer to their prayers, a gift from God…

The Bates had only been married just a couple of years and desperately wanted a large family, although despite the prayers and efforts, had not happened yet. Both had come from abusive homes and wanted as many children as God would bless them with so they could give them a loving and secure home they had never had.

For the next year, The Bates did everything they could to find out who Jeff belonged to by placing ads in  newspapers in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisana, but no one ever came forward. So, after a year of silence, they formally adopted Jeff and raised him as one their own. The Bates would go on to have the large family they had always dreamed of by rearing eight children, in addition to Jeff.

As he grew into a boy, Jeff would never question why he was the only one out of nine children not to have blonde hair and blue eyes. At the age of seven, Jeff got into a fight on the school bus with another boy who would reveal this life-altering information by lashing out “You don’t really belong to those people. You’re not a Bates and you don’t belong here.”

Jeff ran home crying with these questions for his parents and his fears were confirmed. Jeff’s mother told him the truth in a very honest method. “I just want you to know that out of all these kids, you’re special, because we got to pick you.” Jeff didn’t take this news well, and really started paying attention to the differences between him and his siblings. He felt like he didn’t belong anymore and began to withdraw from friends. His introverted behavior would follow him throughout his high school years.

Jeff’s mother was a huge musical influence in his life because she, too, was a singer. None of his siblings would have this gift. Jeff could remember sitting out on the porch at night listening to her sing and singing along with her. It would ignite a passion for music in him that would carry him throughout his life. At the age of 11, Jeff traded a rusty old 57 Chevrolet Bel Air given to him by his father for his first Fender guitar. That guitar was always by his side wherever he went.  He would sleep with it and take it to school with him.

When Jeff was 15, he accepted Christ as his Saviour. And although he would stray later from these beliefs, he would eventually find his way back.

People began to take notice of his “Conway-style” voice and at the age of 17, Jeff got his first gig playing at a night club. Unfortunately, Jeff began to take notice of new ways to numb his pain from feeling misplaced in the world. He began to drink heavily, followed by the introduction of crystal meth in his life, which sent him into a downward spiral. The first time Jeff did meth, he was hooked. He did whatever he could do to get his next fix, which included stealing from family and friends.

So, the pattern was pretty much set for Jeff for the next 20 years. He would work a daytime job and then play gigs on the weekend. This destructive path he was on eventually tangled with law enforcement world and his problems began to mount. Jeff had given up on his faith in God. He no longer believed that God, Jesus, or even the devil didn’t exist anymore, it was only the survival of the fittest.

But on March 14, 2001, things would come to a head when Jeff found himself in the back of a police car after being arrested for grand theft in Nashville. Many would think this was the end of his story, but for Jeff, it was his saving grace. “It saved my life”, he admitted, “I was slowly dying.”

In jail, they told Jeff he was looking at a sentence of six to fifteen years. It was a sobering revelation, and he hit his knees to pray to God to show him the way. Jeff knew that his actions alone had landed him in jail, so he didn’t ask God to get him out, but yet, he asked God to change him. “I had lost everything I’d ever had. I had ruined every relationship I had ever had in my life with lies, emotional abuse, used them, or stole from them.”  

Jeff was given the option to attend a 12-step rehab program, and he willingly entered the program. Part of Jeff’s rehab was to make a list of all the people he had wronged and then make amends. Jeff said he asked God to be with him as he placed calls to everyone on his list with his apology and promise to pay them back somehow. Another step was to make a list of everybody he had ever felt anger and resentment for in his life. Jeff said he surprised himself when he turned in a 40- page letter three days later. “I had blamed everyone else for everything that had ever happened to me in life but myself. But I was the problem, so I kept working on that.”

45 days into his jail sentence, as he continually asked God to help let go of the anger and guilt, Jeff got his epiphany, when a Biblical scene began to play out before his very eyes just like watching a movie, where religious leaders were trying to trick Jesus into saying something wrong, so they could kill him. Jeff said was the realest thing he had ever experienced, and he began to let go of all those harbored feelings. With the weight finally from his guilt-ridden shoulders, he went to bed and slept better than he had in years. He finally felt free.

The very next day, Jeff got his first jail visitor, his song plugger from Warner Chapel, a record deal he had lost when he went to jail. During that visit, Jeff was then informed that some of his songs he had written had been recorded that very day by big name country artists, such as Gene Watson, Montgomery Gentry, and Tracy Lawrence. Another gift from God, he said.

Jeff continued his daily prayer ritual for God to show him the way and was once again blessed when the judge gave him a 15- year suspended sentence and one- year probation. He got out of jail with only the clothes on his back and was given a life line by a friend, who he had once stolen from. This friend shoved the very guitar Jeff had once stolen from and told him to start writing songs again and get his record deal back. His friend also gave him a place to stay and some clothes.  Jeff got a job pouring concrete and slowly began crossing names off his list of people he had once stolen from to pay back. Within a year, he had paid every one of them back.

And the rest is history…

One year to the day he got out of jail, he got a call from RCA records for a record deal. At the age of 37, Jeff’s dream was finally coming true, thanks to God and perseverance. His first album “Rainbow Man” produced two hits on the Billboard national chart, “Long, Slow Kisses” and “I Wanna Make You Cry”. He would go on to have seven songs on the Billboard charts over time. At present time, he has a #9 song on the Christian Country Inspirational Chart called “Judging Judas”. He still writes songs and has a couple of songs on hold by Alan Jackson.  

Over the course of his career, Jeff has probably written over 2000 songs. He travels from town to town playing gigs all over from bars to small venues. And on Sunday morning, he’s in church sharing his story.  He remains clean and sober after 17 years of that fateful incident that re-shaped his life.

Jeff is completely content with his life and has dedicated his life to helping those facing drug and alcohol addictions. Through the Jeff Bates Ministries, he travels to jails, prisons, and recovery programs to share his story with others to let them know that they are not alone and there’s a better way. “We spend most of our lives trying to make others happy and fail miserably. What does work is making ourselves happy through Christ. Then we can help others”, Jeff says with a smile.

On Friday night, Dec. 1st, Jeff Bates will play at the historic Ashland Theatre “An Acoustic Christmas” and will feature his Christmas CD “Once Upon a Star”. All songs on this CD were wrote by Jeff and tell the story of Christmas in his own way. Jeff reconnected with his love for Christmas through his 12-step program 16 years ago, and now embraces it in every way. Jeff and his seven-year-old daughter spend a lot of quality time watching those old Christmas classics, such as “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer”. Jeff invites everyone to his performance for a night filled with the Holy Spirit and the Christmas Season.


You can find Jeff on Facebook: his website:






Ashland Police Make Arrest in Local Burglaries


Press Release Issued by Ashland Police Chief Joseph Stanford
On November 14, 2017 Ashland Police and Clay Sheriff’s Deputies made contact with a suspect that was believed to be involved in several of the burglaries in our area.

The suspect was identified by some witnesses as a person of interest, and both agencies sought him to speak with him about the cases. Ashland Police Department Sergeant Tony Hubbard, and Clay County Investigators Jason Freeman and Shannon House spoke to the suspect, Brandon Edwards, and admitted to the burglary on Tyson Road from November 4. He also admitted to several other burglaries that the county had outstanding.

As always, we at the Ashland Police Department would like to thank the Clay County Sheriff’s Department and the Lineville Police Department for their assistance in solving this case.

The Nitty Gritty – Clay County News and Events