Commissioners Respond to Lawsuit involving Animal Shelter Funding

In response to the letter from the Clay County Animal Shelter, regarding the lawsuit surrounding SB65.

(Please click on green wording below to view the lawsuit in its entirety, along with Senate Bill 65, which also serves as Exhibit A in the suit)

Commission Lawsuit

lawsuit supported document

The Clay County Commission has supported the animal shelter to the tune of $5000 per year. Those funds are included in the 2017 budget and currently there have been no plans made to change any of that. However in response to the commission stance to oppose this bill, let’s look at the whole picture.

Senator Dial took it upon himself to introduce this legislation in Montgomery without so much as discussing it with the commission or any other leaders in this county. As a commission we must make decisions based on what is best for the county as a whole. Funds continue to shrink, people continue to move away, and no new funds become available. We want what’s best for this county. Period. But is it fair for a senator to divert money without discussing it with the people it affects? Now if he wants to put it on a ballot and let the people of the county decide to give that money to the animal shelter, we will gladly back away, even if we have to cut funds elsewhere. Because that’s what will happen. As it stands now, this has been much like taxation without representation. When an elected official just decides to use his office to heavy hand the local government. Does that sound fair?

The Commission is challenging the constitutionality of SB65 because:

A. The state constitution states that public money cannot be distributed to a private entity not under the control of the state or any of its subdivisions unless those appropriations were approved by a 2/3rds vote of all members elected to each house. SB65 violates article IV ss 73 of the Alabama constitution
B. Only 16 of 35 members of the senate and 18 of 105 members of the house voted in favor of this legislation. Clearly this is not 2/3rds in either house.

It is important to note that we continue to lose funds from the state and federal government. For instance federal payment in leiu of taxes ( for national forest) dropped from $83,850 in 2016 to just $48,277 in 2017.

As for the statement made by the animal shelter that due to this action by the commission they can no longer accept animals, how is that the case? There have been no funds removed from the shelter. Not one dime. The same funds that the shelter has been receiving will continue. This lawsuit is to stop more funds from being pulled from the county and shifted to the animal shelter. So how does that stop the operation of the shelter? It has been operating until notification of this action. And just so the public knows, even if the action was allowed to stand, no funds would go towards the shelter until NEXT year. How does that affect the shelter today?
The bottom line is this. The money is not there to offer that much support to the animal shelter. Where should we cut services to do so? Because that is what will have to happen if that much is pulled away from the general fund.

For informational purposes here is a breakdown of the county general fund expenditures for 2017 thus far

For 2017, there has been general fund expenditures of $2,397,487.23:

$1,234,956.06 to the sheriffs office and jail. That’s roughly 55% of the general fund
$478,336.36 was For commission office, staff, upkeep of all county buildings
$33,006.50 for board of registrars
$3,470.74 for airport
$9,153.36 for farmers market
$43,465.11 for county maintenance department
$106,161.94 for EMA
$14,262.58 for coroner
$213,747.73 for probate office and staff
$29,115.75 for courthouse (utilities)
$17,761.01 for courthouse security
$14,218.75 for the supernumerary pay (retirement to former Sherriff
$8,072.47 for the recycling center
$34,754.52 for the elderly transport
$5000 for rescue squad
$5000 for animal shelter

Also included in these are the commission responsibilities for state offices located here in the county. We are required by the state to pay these.

$82,160.34 for the revenue commissioner
$3,226.63 for phones in circuit judge
$1,825.28 for phones in circuit clerks office
$5,259.87 for telephone and utilities for district attorney
$316.80 for phone for juvenile probation office
$257.76 for phone for drivers license office
$4,452.32 for utilities and phone for extension office

Clay County Commissioners. Photo courtesy of The Clay-Times Journal

Signed, Clay County Commissioners

  • Bennie Morrison, District 1
  • Donald Harris, District 2
  • Ray Milstead, District 3/ Chairman
  • Greg Denney, District 4
  • Ricky Burney


The Clay County Animal Shelter has stated that without these funds, they may be forced to close their doors and have established a Gofundme account. Click here to donate:



A letter to Senator Dial Regarding County Funds not Being Allocated to Shelter

Below is a letter filed by Sharon Forbus, on behalf of the Clay County Animal Shelter to Senator Gerald Dial about the $50,000 the Senate Bill 65 which would allocate funding to the Clay County Animal Shelter. In this bill, 18% of the tobacco tax collected in Clay County would go to the Shelter. However, there is a lawsuit in place at this time regarding this allocation. And because this is a pending lawsuit, it is going to be very hard to get any comments from the Commission on this subject. I am going to attempt to get a statement of some kind though from the Commissioners and from Senator Dial. 


Dear Senator Dial,

I’m certain that you have heard by now that the Clay County Commission, namely Benny Morrison, Ray Milstead and Mary Woods have filed a complaint for declaratory judgment and other declaratory relief against Clinton Carter, Dr. Kathleen Baxter and the Clay County Animal Shelter seeking the Circuit court of Clay County to declare SB65 AS unconstitutional and void, for a permanent injunction against providing that CCAS any of the tobacco receipts, plaintiff’s attorney’s fees and any other relief deemed appropriate by the court. As you know the shelter is run by volunteers and donations are used for it’s survival. In the past, we received $5,000/yr from the Commission, $500/Mon. from the City of Ashland and $150/mon. from the City of Lineville. Our treasurer, Frankie Gravette was informed by Ray Milstead that the shelter would no longer be receiving funds from the County. We are uncertain as to how to proceed. We do not have funding to hire an attorney and even though I practiced law in the Army for 16 years, I am not admitted to the Alabama bar and, therefore, cannot represent the Shelter in court. Without funding this shelter cannot stay in operation. We Don’t know what to do.

Please help our shelter.

Sharon Forbus

BOE Approves Hires for AES Teachers; Discuss Important Dates

In a special called session, The Clay County Board of Education met Tuesday, July 18 at the Central Office. The sole purpose for this meeting was to approve a few priority personnel action items that needed to be addressed for the upcoming school year.

The following personnel actions items were unanimously approved:

  • Donna Medforth, Janitor – Ashland Elementary School
  • Anita Harris – Teacher at Ashland Elementary School
  • Jessica Burney Hammonds – Teacher at Ashland Elementary School

BOE Member Chris Jackson was excited to announce that Clay Central now had a Fishing Team. There will be six teams that  represent school in a bass nation tournament.  Les Robinson was instrumental in the establishment of this team, generously donating his time and efforts by Coaching this team until someone else can step in and take the reins. “This team will provide additional opportunities for both male and female students who are not interested in other extracurricular activities, such as football, baseball, cheerleading, band, etc., ” said Jackson. Members of this team will also be eligible for scholarships.

The 2017-18 Clay Central High Fishing Team


Discussion before the closure of this meeting included important dates to remember regarding the kickoff of the new school year:

August 2nd,  4th, 7th– Teacher InService days

August 3rd– Open House for all schools:

  • Ashland & Lineville Elementary: 1:00-7:00 PM

Special Information for Lineville Elementary:

*Tuesday, August 1: Parents’ Night – Kindergarten at 5PM and 1st Grade at 6PM (This is for Kindergarten and 1st Grade ONLY)
*Thursday, August 3: Open House (1-7PM)
*Tuesday, August 8: First Day of School

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  • Central Jr. & Sr High- 8:00 am-3:00 PM

    12th​ 8:00-9:30​​​​​​
    11th​ 9:30-10:45​​​​​​

    Lunch 11:00-12:00

    10th​ 12:15-1:30
    9th​ 1:30-3:00

    Schedules will be issued in the CAFETERIA LOBBY. Students are to pick up schedules upon arrival.
    Lockers may be rented in each homeroom for $25.00

    Jr High Schedule
    8th​ 8:00-11:00 (Jr High Building)
    7th ​12:15-3:00 (Jr High Building)
    Lockers may be rented in 1st period class.

    Parking permits will be sold in Room 156 for $25.00 for students who must drive to school. (Must have a valid Alabama driver’s license and proof of insurance to purchase).

    ALL STUDENTS GRADES 7-12 WILL HAVE SCHOOL PICTURES MADE ON THIS DAY. AS SOON AS SCHEDULES ARE PICKED UP PLEASE GO TO THE JR HIGH LUNCHROOM TO HAVE YOUR PICTURE MADE. This is taking the place of fall pictures and is required for INOW and the yearbook. There will be a make up day but students are encouraged to have them made at this time. ALL SHIRTS MUST BE IN DRESS CODE FOR PICTURES.

    All students must see their teachers for fees due.
    All checks are to be made out to Central High School of Clay County and a receipt will be issued. ALL CHECKS MUST HAVE A PHONE NUMBER. CHECKS MAY NOT BE WRITTEN AND CASHED BY THE SCHOOL.

    New students needing to enroll or students needing to withdraw must see the school counselors at the given times per grade.

    Any problems or issues with schedules will be addressed by grades beginning the first day of school. Please follow the schedule you are given until your grade is called if you have a problem with the schedule.

    Students may also put money in their meal accounts during Open House by going to the Cafeteria. All checks for meals must be made out to CNP. Forms for free and reduced lunch can be picked up at this time.

August 8– Students first day

The next Board meeting will be held July 27, 2017, during which time the 2016 Audit Report will be presented.  BOE member Blaine Lacy was absent from this meeting.




Bunner Receives 52 Year Sentence for Murdering Ex- Girlfriend

July 13, 2017- In a Clay County Courtroom today, Loren Daniel Bunner withdrew his Not Guilty Plea and entered in a plea of Guilty  for the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Jolee Nicole Callan, age 18. After an hour and half of testimony and hearing state’s evidence, Judge George Simpson handed down a sentence of 52 years incarceration to Bunner. The murder took place on August 30, 2015 in a densely wooded area along the Pinhoti Trail of  Cheaha State Park.

Bunner had originally been granted youthful offender status by Judge Simpson, which only carries a maximum of three-year sentence and goes off your record at age 18. However, Simpson revoked this status is November 2016. Bunner was released on a 150,000 bond after serving just a few days in jail.

After Bunner’s youthful offender status was revoked, his attorney, Greg Varner, made a motion requesting Simpson reinstate the youthful status, claiming no new charges or additional evidence have been filed against Bunner. Simpson denied Varner’s motion in December 2016.

Bunner’s story at the time of the murder was that he and Jolee had a suicide pact. They were supposed to jump off the cliff together Romeo and Juliet style, but when they got there, neither could go through with it. So, Bunner had said that Jolee wanted to be shot in the back of the head, so she “wouldn’t see it coming.” A story that would prove to be false after autopsy proved Callan had been shot not only once in the back of the head, but point-blank between the eyes as well before Bunner threw her body off the cliff. Bunner then left the scene and called 911, confessing to the murder shortly afterwards.

The State’s Defense stated that Bunner had confessed to the murder many times, through a 911 call, several law enforcement agencies, and had even bragged about it to his cell mates.

One cell mate account was that Bunner said he had killed his girlfriend and he wasn’t sorry, because if he couldn’t have her, no one else could. Another  story from Bunner said he had killed his girlfriend, shot her and threw her off the mountain and he would have gotten away with it if he hadn’t confessed.

Clay County Law Enforcement take Bunner into custody. Photo courtesy of the Clay Times Journal.

Allison Davidson, Jolee’s English & Theatre Teacher at Vincent High, gave her testimony. Davidson stated that Jolee took Theatre classes for two years, during which time, she got to know Jolee very well. Davidson described Jolee as very intelligent, funny and bright, compassionate and kind. Davidson referred to Jolee as an excellent student, who was also in the gifted program. Davidson said she became very fond of Jolee, and soon they became friends outside of the classroom. Even after Jolee graduated from Vincent, She kept in touch with Davidson through texts, calls, and visits. Davidson stated Jolee came to see her three days before she was killed, and they had a nice visit. “She was the happiest I had seen her in awhile. She looked good and was in a great mood. She told me she was dating a new guy named Matt, but was still getting numerous calls from Loren threatening suicide, and when this would happen, Jolee would go ‘talk him down from the ledge’. I advised her that Loren was a grown man and could take care of himself and that she needed to move on with her life.”

Davidson knew all about the troubled relationship between Bunner and Jolee because Jolee confided in her throughout the life of the relationship. “Jolee said he played video games a lot, and they argued frequently. Loren isolated her from her friends, only allowing Jolee to hang out with his friends.” Davidson recalled prom night where they seemed to be a lot of tension between the two. Davidson said that Jolee was not suicidal, that she even told her on that last visit that she had decided to go to Montevallo, a college which she had been accepted in when she graduated. But not knowing exactly what she wanted to do with her life, Jolee had taken a babysitting job over the course of that summer, giving herself time to really think about what she wanted to do with her life. “She was very excited about the prospect of going to college. The last thing I told her on that visit was that I was proud of her for cutting ties with Loren and that I knew she would have a bright future,” said Davidson.

Photo courtesy of The Clay Times Journal.

Jolee’s father, Michael Callan was next on the stand, dressed in a purple oxford button down, with a beautiful purple ribbon adorned with an angel on the pocket in honor of his daughter. Callan described his daughter as just a great kid, who never got into any trouble. ” I never had to spank her. Everyone who knew Jolee liked her. She had lots of friends and dearly loved animals. We had a great father/daughter relationship,” said Callan.

Callan’s description of Bunner mirrored what her former teacher had said. ” He played video games a lot, was quiet and kind of controlling”, said Callan,” They pretty much did whatever he wanted to do. He said he got the same texts and had the same conversations that Davidson talked about. ” She would tell me about him threatening suicide all the time, and I tried to tell her just to move on. But everyone who knew Jolee knew that if they were in trouble and needed a friend, she would be the first one there, and he knew if he called her and threatened to take his life, she would be there, and she was. She was always helping others.”

Callan spoke briefly about the tremendous impact that losing his daughter had had on not only him, but his family. ” It’s been terrible. My Mom and Dad’s house burned two weeks after Jolee’s death. I lost my Dad a little later, due to a stroke. I firmly believe that if Jolee hadn’t been killed, my Dad would still be here today. It’s just taken a toll on the whole family. Everyone loved her.”

Callan said that he too, suffered a stroke a year ago from the stress of losing Jolee. ” I celebrate Jolee’s birthday at her grave site with balloons every year. I think he should get life in prison or the electric chair.”

The 911 Recording was entered in as state’s evidence and played, which included a clear confession from Bunner: “I want to turn myself in for the murder of my ex-girlfriend, Jolee Callan that happened just a little while ago on Cheaha Mountain.”

Bunner’s court appointed Attorney Greg Varner felt that a reasonable verdict would be 20 years incarceration, a consistent judgement with prior sentencing of the Clay County District Court and also that Bunner had no other priors, other than a traffic ticket for running a stop sign.

But District Attorney  disagreed, using words such as cold-calculated and pre-meditated to describe Jolee’s murder. ” There are three cases of homicidal violence in this case. First, he lured her to the mountains for a symbolic hike, and then he shoots her in the back of the head while she’s looking at the view. Then, he flips her over and shoots her point-blank between the eyes, I think, because he wanted to look at her in the eyes, if she was still alive. Then, he drags her body to the edge of the cliff and throws her 40 feet off the cliff. Not to mention, two days before the murder, he tried to take Jolee’s new boyfriend out by soliciting a friend to kill him.”

When Bunner was given an opportunity to say something to the courtroom before hearing his sentence, he declined.

Bunner’s 52-year sentence includes 10 years for the use of a firearm in the commission of murder. He will also have to pay restitution of $9, 255.00 to the Alabama Crime Victims Commission, attorney fees totaling $1500, and court costs.








Seeking Justice for Jolee, Once and For All…

We can live forever even with an impactful shorter-life.” 

― Aniekee Tochukwu Ezekiel

So few words, yet such a bold statement.  How does one begin to measure the weight of an impact a person can make on their life? The honest truth…you don’t really know until they are gone…That’s the way it is when God puts a shining star in our lives, it burns so bright that it burns itself out quickly, yet its beauty is never forgotten. Jolee Callan left the imprint of her footprints in every heart of those around her.

Jolee Callan

Jolee Callan was a magical little slip of a girl, yet her presence was larger than life. At 4’10 and all of 90 lbs, her waif-like aura was powerful, as people were drawn to her quiet, yet infectious zest for life. Those who knew her best said she was one of a kind, and there would never be another like her anywhere.  To say that she was immensely loved by all who knew her would be an understatement. Yet, her time on Earth was to be short-lived. Her life would be snuffed out at the tender age of 18 in such a shocking,  brutal manner at the hands of someone who claimed to truly love her. And with that, Jolee would become a statistic of domestic violence. Yet the lives she touched in her brief time on Earth would live forever.

Although there were many things reported on during the time of Jolee’s murder, no one talked about HER. She simply became a statistic on paper to those who never knew her.  No one reported that Jolee Callan , born December 29, 1996, had this massive heart for people and animals. That she was very sensitive, empathetic and kind to everyone she knew. Her love for the theatre was also close to her heart, as she participated in several plays. In her Junior year,  she played a part in Grease and then Wizard of Oz in senior year. She played the part of the china doll to perfection. Jolee made good grades in school and never got a spanking in her life, nor did she get in any trouble. Her favorite couple was purple.

Jolee was 17 when she began dating Loren Bunner. Father, Michael described him as a quiet person, who kept to himself, but seemed like a decent guy. They dated about a year, with frequent breakups throughout the span of the relationship.  They did stuff with his friends, but not her friends. He was described by many as manipulating and controlling.

Every time Jolee would try to break free of him, he would prey upon her sympathy by threatening to kill himself if she didnt come back to him. Afer some time, she grew tired of this threat, and ended their relationship for good around the time she graduated from Vincent High School.

Jolee was described as a much happier person free from Loren, as she started seeing someone else. But Loren continued to call her, wanting her back. Jolee still wanted to be his friend, so she tolerated these calls, which continued throughout the course of the summer.  But her father had no idea she had agreed to go on what was referred to as a “symbolic hike” to Cheaha Mountain with Loren on August 30, or he said he would not have let her go. The hike was labeled as symbolic because Jolee thought this was going to be a transistion to a platonic friendship, or that was what Loren had led her to believe. The last time Michael saw his daughter was Friday night, when she told him she loved him right before she left and he told her that he loved her too.

Jolee’s best friend texted her the night before ( Saturday night, telling her she was staying at Loren’s house that night, sleeping on the couch and they were going on their symbolic hike the next day to Cheaha.  She jokingly told Callan not to let him take her off in the woods and kill her, to which she replied ” LOL, well if something happens to me, you’ll know who I was with”. This was the last time she would ever speak to her dear friend.

What events played out on that fateful Sunday will remain a mystery, and all police had to go one was Bunner’s account, which seemed to change several times. Bunner called the Oxford Police Department around 6pm that night, stating that  he had “murdered his girlfriend on the trail”.  Bunner then led the lawmen through the densely wooded area to the edge of the cliff just off the Pinhoti Trail. There, they discovered Jolee’s body about 40 feet down off the rock cliff with her backpack still on. No remorse could be seen on Bunner’s face at the scene.

Loren Bunner

Bunner’s story was that they had a murder/suicide pact, but he was unable to go through with his suicide after shooting her. He had told law enforcement that he had only shot her once in the back of the head, because he said “she didn’t want to see it coming”. However, an autopsy would later reveal that she had also been shot point blank between the eyes as well. He said he then threw her body off the cliff, House said. An autopsy revealed Callan had been shot twice – once from behind and once between the eyes. Police recovered a Bear Claw .22 from Bunner, and observed “a large amount of blood” at the area where the shooting apparently took place. There was also blood on Bunner’s steering wheel.

Picture Bunner posted to Instagram moments before her death

Another chilling note, was that shortly after Bunner had committed this murder, he had posted pictures of their hike that day on Instagram, and had also posted this on Twitter.

Bunner was taken into custody at the Clay County jail, where he remained for the next nine months, as his court dates kept getting continued. His original court date was set for October, but a verdict was not reached until late May 2016.

Before the records were sealed, they did show the defense attorneys were investigating whether Bunner had Asperger’s Syndrome.  Because of this investigation, it was believed that a youthful offender status was granted to Bunner,  which only holds a three-year sentence maximum, a suspended sentence, or simply probation. Under the youthful offender status, this would not go on his record after his sentence was served. However,  the youthful offender status was revoked in December 2016. Bunner spent only 15 days in jail and has been out on a 150,000 bond since January 2017.  

It’s been a long, hard road for the Callan family and those who knew Jolee so well, but they remain hopeful that some sort of justice will be served in the her death. On Thursday, July 13, 2017 @ 10:00 am, at the Clay County Courthouse, Bunner will go before Judge Simpson for a change of plea and there is a good possibility Bunner will receive his sentence at this time.

This horrific crime has touched my heart since day one. My heart breaks for this family, for Jolee, who did nothing to deserve the unspeakable act of violence that ended her short life. I am asking that this county support this family during this sentencing tomorrow. In honor of Jolee and in support for the family, I ask that you wear purple tomorrow, maybe place a purple bow, lay a flower or sign on the courthouse lawn. Perhaps you could even be there, outside standing on the lawn just to show your support. Folks, its the least we can do for this family for everything they have lost and everything they have had to go through just to get some justice for Jolee. This county has always had the best people and have always been there for others in times of need. Well, this family needs you tomorrow. Let’s show them that we care….








County Watershed Overflow Big Problem for Cattle Owners

Jacky Dingler

July 10, 2017- At Monday’s planning session, Mr. Jack Dingler of Delta, AL, was present to plead with the Commission to help him save his cattle. Mr. Dingler went on to explain that his pasture, along with his neighbor,  Mr. Merrell Bell’s pasture which adjoins Dingler’s land in the Shinbone area, has been flooded with all the excessive rain that has fallen over the past three weeks.

Over half of Dingler’s 20 acres of pasture land is several inches underwater and his 28 head of cattle are having a hard time finding dry land. Over 3/4 of Mr. Bell’s pasture acreage has been affected as well. Even with the waters receding somewhat at times between the rain showers, the grass is now dead. So because of this, Dingler said he, along with Bell, will soon be forced to sell their cattle if something doesn’t give soon. On top of the flooding, the stagnant waters have brought about horrible odors and an abundance of flies and mosquitos to the area affected.

While a simple solution could fix this problem without Dingler having to come address the Commission, but the owner of the land, Mr. White,  where the county watershed resides is having no part of it. The owner of this property is very adamant that the water level not be reduced to alleviate the flooding of the pastures because he says he has stocked the lake and doesn’t want to lose his fish. Commissioner Morrison said the whole thing just sounded “fishy” to him to begin with. ” Here we are, and we’ve got two other farmers who are being affected and if we don’t open that up to reduce the water on their pasture land, they are going to lose their cattle. ”

No, this is not lakefront property. This is how far the flood waters have come to Bell’s house. This should all be pasture land.
Dingler’s flooded pasture

After much discussion  in the general meeting on this issue, County Attorney Greg Varner said even though he still had to look at the deeds where the property lines and easements ran in more detail, but he did say this to Commission in conclusion: ” There is no liability to Whites or the Dinglers here, but we do control the operation of the watersheds. You have the ability, its your call as to your decision.  Mr. White having fishing is subject to our operation. Either way, there’s no liability to the county. It’s a discretionary measure on the county’s part as to what decision is made. If you elect to order the water shed to be reduced, make it conditional on my approval on the fish issue.”

Morrison’s motion went as follows: “Contingent on Varner’s findings, I make a motion we reduce the amount the water held by that water shed until it gets back down to the original contour. I don’t see where we should allow one individual to cause two other individuals to have to sell their cow herds just because they want to hold as much as water behind that dam.” This motion was followed by a second and unanimously approved.

On behalf of the Clay County Hospital,  Debbie McKinney and Joel Tate addressed the Commission with a possible list of nominations for vacancies on the hospital board. Once these vacant positions are filled, they will look on the expired terms. This list was handed out to all Commissioners to review.

McKinney and Tate

Morrison inquired why it took so long to fill these positions. Tate responded that it wasn’t easy to find people to be on the Board. McKinney also stated that since many people had traded land lines for cell phones, making it hard to get into contact with them with no access.  six vacancies vacant. The following people were appointed to the Hospital Board:

  • District 2 : David Williams and Andy Howard
  • District 3: Ricky Farr, Claude Bennett, Sonny McCollum were all nominated, but was tabled.
  • District 5: Tabled

County Engineer Jeremy Butler stated they had received their new side cutter last week.  Butler said that First State Bank had given them a great financing rate, and was asking for a resolution to finance with them. This was approved.

There was a question in the planning session about the appointment of Millerville Water Authority. After looking into the minutes from the previous meeting, it was discovered that Kenny Packer had been appointed from District 4, and Lorenzo Caldwell from District 5 had been re-appointed, leaving District 2 open. Harris requested to re-submit Gary Chandler from District 2, which was approved.

Commissioners also approved a one year renewal on the health contract for the inmates. There were no changes to this contract.


EMA Director Theresa Daugherty announced she had secured a Homeland Security Grant in the amount of $22,826 for a new repeater in the Coppermine/ area in the North End of the county. The 20 yr old repeater that was in this area had went out some time ago, but luckily, they were able to re-program an old repeater to replace it temporarily, however this left them with no backup.  This repeater is a very important piece of equipment, used by both the EMA and fire department and is also used to sound the sirens.This is a 100% grant that requires no matching funds by the county.  The new dual- band repeater to be purchased is now being offered on the State Bid list. The Commission approved this request  to go ahead and purchase the new repeater and commended Daugherty on securing these funds.


Tiffany Young, Chamber CEO was present to ask the Commission for their support in the Clay County Fair to be held October 19-21 at the AES Practice Field. This event will feature carnival rides, vendors, food, and live entertainment. Commissioner Morrison said he felt this event would be very beneficial to the county and they should support by doing a platinum sponsorship in the amount of $1000. This would require an amendment to the budget and will have to be ran in the paper to be put on the agenda for the next meeting before it can be voted on at the next meeting.

John DeCourcey approached the Commission about re-applying for


grant money to paint the runway at the Airport. DeCourcey stated they  had grant money left over and the FAA notified them and said they were going to distribute it to another airport, because they didn’t have a need for it here. However, it was discovered upon inspection that the numbers on the runway were unreadable and needed to be re-painted.  The total project cost will be just over $40,000, with matching funds coming from the county just in excess of $2000. This request was approved.

Morrison made an inquiry about the overtime budget, wanting to make sure the amounts put into place for both the Engineering and Sheriff’s Office had not been exceeded in order to make sure the budget wasn’t affected. The Sheriff’s Department is allotted 20,000 and have only used 5,500 thus far,  the jail allotted 15,000 , have only used 5,600 and the Engineering Department budgeted 20,000, used only 10,000. There are no other county departments who are allotted an overtime budget.

In other business, Morrison explained that Chairman Ray Milstead’s self appointment to the EDC ( Economic Development Council) was not legal at their last meeting because it was never brought before the Commission for a vote, therefore every business item that took place at this at meeting  was null and void. Milstead had explained that he did not appoint himself to the Board, but was just filling in until he can appoint somebody at the next meeting. His future appointment should resolve any further issues.

Other agenda items approved involved the following:

  • budget amendment to pay Hurst Construction in the amount of $63, 859.31 for work at the Courthouse.
  • Approval to participate in COLA for County Retirees.

Probate Judge Dianne Branch presented a check to the Commission in the amount of $11,394, funds she had secured in a grant that will secure the contract for maintenance of the 2004 Election Machines. This brought about a round of applause for Branch.

Sheriff Ray Latham present a check for approximately $20,000 to the Commission for housing federal inmates.


Before the conclusion of the meeting, Rep. Steve Hurst spoke brieflybefore the commission, thanked the Commissioners and the Sheriff for everything they had done. He expressed his concerns over some things going on within the state that will affect us a later date. He invited everyone to come see him if there was a need.




















Clay County BOE meeting June 29, 2017

The Clay County Board of Education met Thursday, June 29, 2017 for their regular scheduled session.

Technology Coordinator Bradley Strother addressed the Board with a TECH update.

The following agenda items were unanimously approved:

  • Approval of the minutes from the June 1, 2017 meeting
  • Approval of All financial statements from the month of May 2017
  • Approval to award bid for milk and milk products for the 2017-18 school year to Dean Dairy Holdings Barber Milk LLC. This bid will be effective from August 1, 2017 through June 1, 2018, with an option to extend if mutually agreed one year to June 1, 2019. This was the lowest bid received.
  • Approval to award bid for bread and bread products for the 2017-18 school year to Flowers Baking Company of Birmingham. This bid will be effective from August 1, 2017 through June 1, 2018, with an option to extend if mutually agreed one year to June 1, 2019. This was the only bid received.
  • Approval to request to enter into a joint federal grant bid with Pike County and Polycom, an American multinational corporation that develops video, voice and content collaboration and communication technology. Clay County’s share in this collaboration would be $256,500 total. However, these funds would come from different areas and would be broken down like this:

$195,800 grant funds received. This money would be used to fund additional polycom sites and AES and LES; improve the existing structure at CHS and CJHS and provide more one-on-one device carts for use by all students as Clay County works to set up an infrastructure that supports speech/language, occupational, physical teletherapy from both inside and outside providers and to improve efforts to partner with parent advocacy and support agencies, such as Alabama Parent Education Center, APEC and Altapointe’s Regional Mental Health Center, to provide parents with more support.

$60,700 match ( $31,462 being ‘in-kind’ ( based off of non-federal technology purchases)

$29,238 non-federal cash, which could be reduced over a three year period.

Approval to declare the Lineville Vocational School as surplus property and have it appraised for value.

  • Approval of the following Personnel Action items:
  1. Resignation of Laura Tonks as Teacher at Ashland Elementary.
  2. Resignation of Ann Thompson as Career Tech Director
  3. Transfer Jan Martin from AES Teacher to LES Reading Coach
  4. Transfer Kate Ponder from CHS English Teacher to CJHS English Teacher
  5. Transfer Meredith Denson from LES Special Ed Teacher to LES Librarian
  6. Employ Emily Watts as LES Teacher
  7. Employ Cassidy Elliff as CHS English Teacher
  8. Open Position for two (2) Certified Teachers at AES
  9. Open Position of Career Tech Director
  10. Open Position of Certified Teacher for CJHS Math or English Preferred
  11. Approval for Substitute Justine Smith in all lunchrooms


The next regular meeting will take place July 27, 2017 at 4:00 PM.

Clay County Deputies assist in Search; Arrests

On Wednesday June 21st, 2017, Clay County Sheriff’s Office received a call, via Tallapoosa County 911, of a reported stolen boat. That boat was being followed by its owner, as he was attempted to provide local law enforcement a description of the vehicle towing the boat and trailer and his location for recovery.

As Clay County Sheriff’s Deputies proceeded on Alabama 9 south of Ashland, information was relayed that the vehicle towing the boat and trailer had ran off the roadway at the intersection of Alabama 9 South and Highway 63. The suspects fled into the wooded area west of Alabama 9. Clay County Sheriff’s Deputies quickly arrived on the scene and began the search. New Site Police, Coosa County Sheriff’s Deputies, Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s Deputies were quick to respond and aid in the search.

After a short time, Clay County Deputies were able to take one of the suspects into custody. That person was questioned and identified his accomplice. The search for the additional suspect went well into the night by Clay County Sheriff’s Office personnel. At approximately 11pm, Clay County Sheriff’s Deputies located the 2nd suspect just off County Road 63 and was taken into custody without incident.

Both suspects were returned to Coosa County Sheriff’s Office on charges of theft and other related offenses. Arrested was James Douglas Hubbard, age 28 of Sylacauga and Camryn Seth Collier, Age 23 of Rockford, Alabama. Other charges may be filed as area law enforcement investigators continues their investigation into these individuals, states Sheriff Latham.

A Tribute to My Mother, Valera Tidwell

In memory of my mother, Valera Tidwell


You’re 5 yrs old…

Mom calls you in so she can measure you for that Sunday dress she’s making you….again. Geez, why can’t she just let me play?? *Sigh*

Life is SO hard….


You’re 9 yrs old…

You are mad at her for some reason you can’t even remember now. So, you and your sister( Rhonda) are going to run away. You tell her you are leaving and she doesn’t even flinch. You both go outside and hide around the side of the house where you think she can’t see you and wait on her to come after you, but she doesn’t. You can’t believe she doesn’t care. Every now and then, you poke your head in the window to see her steadily sewing. Eventually, you get tired, and go back in, and try to act like nothing has happened. Somewhere down the road, she tells you that she knew where you were the entire time and that she could see us peeking through the window, and that she wasn’t going to let you leave. You feel as if your mother doesn’t understand you…

Will life always be this hard?


You’re 10 years old…

You decide you want to smoke, because you’re old enough now. She catches you one day and says nothing, but throws you a pack of cigarettes and tells you that if you’re going to do it, not to hide it. So, you take the pack and begin to smoke them, one by one. Well into your third one, you begin to feel your stomach churning, until you finally throw up. Suddenly, the cigarettes don’t look so appealing anymore. Well-played Mama.

You knew it wasn’t that hard to get your point across…


You’re 12 yrs old…

She is gone with her boyfriend . So, you and your sister decide to have some friends over. There is alcohol, so you think you will drink your little broken heart away from the man who would later become your husband.  You don’t drink much, but it is effective. The dark liquor is no match for your virgin veins. Soon, you are throwing up violently, and she walks in in the midst. She tells you later how mad she was, but she still holds your head while you cry and puke, but does take some pleasure in your hangover. That is the last time you will ever drink dark liquor.

Life just seemed hard….


You’re 14 yrs old…

A child bride and now very soon, a mother. No one told you the pain would be this bad! She’s right there holding your hand. A new generation is born and it doesn’t take much time to figure out how unconditional a mother’s love is.

But man, sometimes it can be really hard…


You’re 17 yrs old…

You’ve just suffered 1st-3rd degree burns from your pressing job at Higgins Slacks. The pain is terrible, and she’s always close by, changing your dressings and watching over you.

Life is very hard…


You’re 30 yrs old…

A simple outpatient surgery turns into a fight for your life. Every time you wake up, you see her worried face above you. She wipes your brow with concern showing on her face. Her presence soothes you…

Life is hard….


You’re 32 yrs old…

Your 17- year marriage has ended. You’re devastated. She’s there to console you every step of the way. Assuring you that life will not only go on, but be much better once the grieving process was over. She was always right, but for now….

Life is extremely hard….


You’re 40 yrs old…

Your body is changing and you approach this phase in your life. She’s there for the hysterectomy and the craziness that follows.

Life is crazy hard….


You’re 44 yrs old…

Mom isn’t doing so well. Due to complications of a triple bypass, she battles to come back stronger than ever. It’s now your turn to be there for her. You learn just how much she means to you. You forget the stubbornness, silly arguments and petty things that once drove you crazy. You learn that despite what you’ve always thought, she’s ALWAYS been there. Although she’s down, never count her out, for this woman has had to fight all of her life. And she comes back with a vengeance….but whew, that was really a close one…

Life can be hard….


You’re 48 yrs old…

She’s now in the midst of the battle for her life. One that she won’t be able to come back from. Your role has now reversed. You are the caregiver. You hold her hand while she hurts, console her when she cries. You watch her frustration as she loses her ability to do all the things she loved and once took for granted. You have to watch her lose that independence that was the heart and soul of her. Her dignity is stripped from her as there comes a time that she cannot even perform the simplest tasks. Losing her mobility is the final straw for her, as the fight begins to leave her. You are there for her every step of the way, although sometimes it nearly kills you watching her steady decline.

Life is harder than you could ever imagine….


You’re 49 yrs old…

Her battle is ending…her final moments are upon you. This is the hardest time of your life as you watch her struggle for each last breath. You sing her favorite hymns softly and cradle her head in your arms as you watch the light go out of her beautiful blue eyes. Your tears fall like rain as you feel that last little bit of life slip out of her.

So many words you wanted to say. So many moments along the way you wish you could take back. The times you felt she was a nuisance in your earlier years, the times you felt she embarrassed you in front of your friends in your teens. That stubborn streak she had that could drive you insane. And that fiery temper that could lead to some of the pettiest arguments between us.

And then you realize just how much like her you really are. That’s why there was always friction along the way. At one time, you would’ve hated coming to this realization, but now it makes you stand proud. You are your mother’s daughter, and because of that, a part of her will live on.

I just wish I could’ve told her proud I was of her. The strong essence of life she possessed. Her ability to make a masterpiece out of a piece of cardboard. How she could take a few scraps and turn them into beautiful works of art. How she could take a blank canvas and turn it into a gorgeous landscape. How she could find just the right words to create some of the most beautiful poems I’ve ever read. Her witty repertoire, that golden sense of humor, and those sweet melodies she could sing. Everything about her was the very essence of life and she touched so many people throughout hers. And with all of the hardship she faced in her life, she never gave up.

I look down at my hands, and they are hers. I look in the mirror and I see her staring back at me. I can just see her saying “Don’t make the same mistakes I made along the way. Use God in every aspect of your life and one day, we will be together again.” I cling to this thought as I struggle with the thought of losing her. Of never being able to pick up the phone and call her when something happens. I miss her terribly, and when the longing nearly overcomes me, the reassurance that she suffers no longer is my saving grace.

She looks absolutely beautiful in that casket, wearing her favorite peach outfit, or coral, as she referred to it as. Her skin has a deep sun-kissed glow from the hours she sat in the sun trying to “warm her bones”. She wears very little makeup because she never needed it. Her skin is almost flawless, but then again, she never did look sick.

Her casket is draped with one of the most beautiful quilts she ever made, hand-sewn and without a pattern.

Mama never really needed a pattern, she would just look at something and say “I can make that”…and she did. She would have been more than pleased with the colorful flowers that covered the church. She always did love those bold colors. The lovely service draws to a close. It was a very fitting tribute from those who knew her best. One that surely made her smile down as she watched from the Heavens above.

The coffin is now closed as we exit the church and walk to the grave site, during which I had a little talk with God that went something like this…

“Thank you, God for giving me such a wonderful mother. I know you created her just for me. She was prefect for the job, although it took me a long time to see it. I guess this is proof that Your way is always the right way, even if it’s sometimes seen in hindsight. I’m giving her back to you now, so please take good care of her until I can be with her again. But I know you will. Thank you for allowing me to see her through her through this journey called life and don’t be surprised when I call on you for strength every now and then. Have patience with her as she tries to re-decorate Heaven and sew beautiful angel wings. I can tell you from experience that the end result will be nothing short of a masterpiece. And every now and then, please let me feel the flutter of her hand, or presence of her spirit so I don’t forget what it was like. Most of all, please let me catch the soft notes of her beautiful voice in the breeze when I’m having a bad day. In all of these things, I pray. Amen.”

Valera Tidwell April 3, 1949 – June 26, 2017

Lineville AllStars 10U Boys Face Elimination Bracket in State Championship Today

Sunday, July 2, 2017- Today, these eager young boys will compete for the State Championship at the Carl Ripken State Tournament in Mobile. It’s been a long, hard fight for them, but they have proven that with determination and dedication, you can overcome any obstacles.

Front Row: Wesley Sparks, Dontavious Cummings, Taylor Boyd, Conner Sims. 2nd Row: DaMauri Whetstone, Michael LaShall, LaBrian McKinney, Cameron Wilson. 3rd Row: J.T. Wilkerson, Tyler Boyd, Hollis Snider, Kalvin Simmons. Back Row: Assistant Coach Henry Simmons, Head Coach Freddie Morris, Assistant Coaches Quamain Simmons and Bubba Snider.

This team went UNDEFEATED to win the District Title and as of last night, are now ranked #6 out of 17 teams in the State and will face Opp in the Elimination Round at Noon today!

I don’t have to tell you that earning this ranking has been easy for them because the road to greatness is not paved with stone.  These guys have played through blistering heat, sprains and injuries, all while maintaining a winner’s attitude and that, folks, is how Champions are built.

In Game 1 of the State Tournament, they deafeated Saraland with a score of 13-4. Game 2 was a thriller as they pulled out a spectacular comeback to defeat Robertsdale by 11-8.

Game 3 took a little wind out of their sails, as they came up short with Bay Minette, losing by a score of 10-8. But they rallied on to crush Citronelle with a impressive 17-4 win to advance to the Championship Round.

Guys, whether this teams wins or loses the Championship today, I think they are winners already. It takes a lot of heart to get to this level and my hats off to not only them, but the Coaches and Parents as well for their guidance and support.

Good Luck to these “Lineville Boys” as they show Mobile how we grow them in Clay County. They may not be as big as their opponents, but they are all heart, so look out!



The Nitty Gritty – Clay County News and Events