Ashland Fire Dept. Battle Early Morning Residential Home Blaze

An early morning fire did extensive damage to the home of an Ashland resident. Ashland Fire Department was paged out around 2:00 am this morning for a structure fully engulfed with smoke at the address of 772 3rd Street SW. There were no flames visible at the time of the call, but a blaze did erupt later. The damage to the home was extensive, if not a complete loss.

AFD responded with 3 trucks and 8 men, who fought the blaze for approximately 2.5 hours before fully extinguishing it. AFD Fire Chief Brett Thompson reported the cause of the fire has not been determined yet. There were no injuries reported.


Arrest made in Fatal Shooting of Sylacauga man

An arrest has been made in the shooting death of a Sylacauga man that occurred on Oct. 1st.

Austin Shane Bonner, age 18 from Goodwater has been charged with fatally shooting Josh Bearden, age 35, during a domestic altercation. Bearden was found in his vehicle shot to death on Settlement Rd, on the outskirts of Sylacauga.

Bonner turned himself in at the Talladega County jail on Tuesday night, but has already bonded out at current time. His bond was set at $100,000.

Clay County Commission approves new Farmer’s Market Rental Agreement

The Clay County Commission met for their regular planning and general bi-monthly session on Tuesday, October 13, 2015.

Planning Meeting

Commissioners Wayne Watts, Roy Johnson and Ray Milstead ( also Chairman) were present for this session.

Commissioner Roy Johnson presented Beverly Latham and Michelle Lacy, representing the newly established Clay County Animal Shelter, with a significant donation of dog food to the shelter, with promises of more to come on a monthly basis. The donor has preferred to remain anonymous. Mrs. Latham was excited with the donation and had nothing but kind words to speak of the people of Clay County who had donated generously to the shelter’s needs since the opening date.

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Mrs. Latham stated that 151 animals had been brought in to the shelter since opening in mid-September.Mrs.  Latham also reported that all workers came on a volunteer basis and there was no paid staff. She invited everyone to come view the facility.

County Administrator Mary Woods reported that the extension office has called to see if they could have the DMV office, currently being closed due to state cutbacks in this area. Milstead said it was fine with him since the driver’s license guy wouldn’t be coming anymore on Wednesdays. Watts said it couldn’t be voted on at the moment, because he was hoping it would be a temporary thing.

Commissioner Wayne Watts
Commissioner Wayne Watts

Watts said he was disappointed with this closure because a lot of children and adults have to travel to another county for road tests and permits due to overcrowding on the one day a week when a Trooper was there.  “Hopefully, the state would get their act together. I haven’t been very pleased with the way this process has went for some time now” stated Watts.

Johnson said they needed to find out if this was going to be temporary or permanent, because if it became available again, they would need it. This part of the building has been closed since the state announced numerous closures in DMV divisions all over the state of Alabama.

New Business

A new Farmer’s Market Rental was given to the commissioners to review for their consideration to be voted on at the regular meeting.

Clay County Engineer Jeremy Butler had presented the commissioners with a report on the ATRIP’s Impacts for Clay County. Milstead commended Jeremy for his hard work on this. Milstead also noted there had been questions as to why certain roads were paved and some not. Milstead pointed out that the State were the ones who came out and evaluated the roads to decide which ones needed resurfacing the most. Milstead and Johnson both remarked the paving jobs that were done thus far were excellent work. The ATRIP report provided the following information:

  • ATRIP investments has produced over 39 miles of road improvements in Clay County
  • $4.8 million in improvements delivered in over a 3-yr period is the equivalent to over 9 years of normal federal allocations received by the county
  • The road projects have directly impacted over 1450 residents living along the county routes with ATRIP improvements
  • Improvement of the mobility of over 23 school buses carrying approximately 669 students
  • Sustainment and job creation for 9 contractors

It is estimated that citizens of Clay County received an estimated benefit of $25 million due to the ATRIP investments on the 10 County projects.

Below is a breakdown of the improvements made on County Rd 5 in Clay County:

  • Resurfacing project investment of $886,356.34 of 100% federal funds to provided needed roadway maintenance and safety improvements
  • Over 80 homes, 5 churches and 2 businesses benefited from these improvements
  • Harkins, Liberty Hill, Bluff Springs, and Mt. Zion communities benefited
  • Improved access to 2,286 acres of timber land ( with property values exceeding $4.6 million)
  • Improves access to 479 acres of farm land ( property values exceeding $1 million)
  • Total of 6,441 miles of improvements made possible through ATRIP that could not have been funded with current revenue streams

General Meeting

Commissioner Wayne Watts, Ray Milstead, Roy Johnson and Ricky Burney were all present for this session. This was a very short meeting due to a small agenda.


Before the new Farmer’s Market agreement was put to a vote, Commissioner Watts made the suggestion to possibly have the EMA employees on duty to oversee and monitor any post-event inspection for convenience, so there was no need to have to call a County employee in to inspect. He  stated the county had spent a lot of money on remodeling this facility and felt by handling everything in-house, the whole process would run a lot smoother.

com 2Burney agreed with Watts and the vote was unanimous to accept the Rental Agreement. The motion was made to accept by Watts, with a second by Burney.

new rental agreement
new rental agreement

One of the new stipulations of the rental agreement was an rent increase for local events from $100 to $150 a day, and a $50 refundable deposit, with out-of town individuals paying $250 a day, and a refundable $50.00 deposit.


Local Citizen completes Chicago Marathon in honor of Kara Hay

45,000 runners set out to complete the notorious Chicago Marathon on October 11, 2015, but only 37,000 crossed the Finish Line. One of those 37,000 was Steve Smith, of Ashland, AL. Smith has been in training for this marathon for well over a year, participating in many local events along the way. Many afternoons you could see him out running at Central High School, as well as a couple more places, training for 26-mile trek.


His mission was one of faith and endurance. So, he chose a special t-shirt he had gotten when he ran the “In It to Win It” race in memory of Kara Hay last year because to him , it said it all.  Written in bold letters of a brilliant blue across the front were the words “Finishing with Faith”. Across the back was a cross with Kara’s favorite scripture from 2 Timothy 4:7 ” I have fought the good fight; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.”

Steve Smith
Steve Smith

For those of you not familiar with Kara Hay’s story, she fought a very brave and courageous battle with Cystic Fibrosis, but sadly passed at the tender age of 20 in 2010. Her life may have been cut short in years, but the life in her years were ones filled with inspiration and laughter, for Kara never let her diagnosis define her. She was “In It to Win It”, she would say, and even in the very end, she still felt that she was a winner.

Kara Hay

Smith never knew Kara, but he was very aware of her life story. This was just part of the reason he chose to honor her memory in an event he had been training for over some time. Isn’t it strange how a life can be touched by one person who never even met? To me, it’s just one of life’s purposes, for you never know when you are being an inspiration to others.

On a footnote, I would like to say that I don’t know Smith personally, but I saw him a couple of times running at CHS. I had decided I needed to start back walking for my health and wanted to gradually transistion over to running. Something that never happened, I might add, lol. But the first time I saw Smith running, I noted that he had been out there for an hour and hadn’t stopped. I yelled out to him one time when we met up and said ” You’re my hero! I could never do that.”. He said ” Sure you can. All it takes is a little practice.” Words to live by…

Congratulations to Mr. Smith on this amazing accomplishment and thanks for representing Clay County in such a positive and inspirational light!

Read Kara’s story here:





Weekly recap: Three lives lost, one hangs in the balance


RECAP: Sadly, three lives were lost on Thursday, Oct. 8 in the East Central Alabama region in two separate incidents.

Bobby Trussell (Bobby Lee Gotti)
Bobby Trussell (Bobby Lee Gotti)

Early Thursday morning, a male body was discovered inside a parked vehicle on the Talladega Square in front of the courthouse. The cause of death was a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The man was identified as Bobby Lee Gotti, born Bobby Trussell. It is unknown why Gotti took his own life, but sources say he was having a hard time dealing with a breakup.


Later that day, at approximately 2:30 PM, the discovery of two bodies inside a mobile home is a remote area was made after Dean Carl Stevens, age 50, white male had walked into New Site Town Hall and turned himself in for the killings. Stevens willingly led the Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s Office and New Site Police to 424 Pate Rd, Cragford, AL, the scene of the murders.

Dean Carl Stevens
Dean Carl Stevens

The bodies were identified as siblings, Dianna Mitchell Sharpe, age 48 and male, Robert Wayne Mitchell, Age 50. Both victims had sustained gunshot wounds that resulted in their death.

Stevens, who also resided at the same residence was arrested and charged with Capital Murder and placed in the Tallapoosa County Jail. The victims have been transported to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences for the post mortem examination. This is an ongoing investigation.


On Oct. 4th, another grisly assault took place at the residence of 1020 Mountain View Rd , home of Terry Hayes, age 49. Hayes was allegedly attacked by Raymond Leroy Wiseman, age 59, resulting in a throat-slashing knife wound from ear-to-ear. Wiseman declined to comment on a motive for the assault, other than saying Hayes was an “acquaintance”.

Raymond Leroy Wiseman

The arrest without incident was made at Clay County Hospital, where Wiseman had enrolled in the Journey Detoxification program the day before. Lineville and Ashland Police Department assisted in the arrest.

Wiseman was charged with assault in the first degree and is currently being held on a $50,000 bond. Hayes is currently on a ventilator at Regional Medical Center in Anniston. Wiseman’s charges are subject to change if his condition worsens.

Board of Education meets for September Session

CCHSCC-oblique The Clay County Board of Education met for their monthly session on Sept. 24, 2015. The Board approved all items on the agenda, as recommended by the Superintendent, which consisted of the following:

  • Approval of the following Financial Reports for August 2015.
  •  renewal of the line of credit at First State Bank for use if funds on hand are not sufficient to pay the salaries of teachers and to meet current expenses when due.
  •  Approval of the FY 16 Capital Plan.A
  • Approval to accept the bid from Barry Young, to cut and fertilize the field at Central High School for the hay until December 1, 2017. This was the only bid received.
  •  Approval of the intent to apply for an innovation waiver to implement the Clay County Virtual School Program Policy.
  • Approval of the Clay County Schools Off Campus Learning/Work Agreement.
  •  Approval of the new Technology Coordinator/Technician salary schedule.
  • Approval of 25 Personnel Action Items, including the following:
    a) Jhon Vise was hired as the new Technology Coordinator/Technician.
    b) Jill Harbison was approved to transfer to Central High School as a Math Teacher.
    c) A Math Teacher position was opened at Central Jr. High School.


The Board a very good FY15 audit report, as presented by Nikki Morrison.

With no further business, the meeting was adjourned.

Superintendent Billy Walker reminded everyone that October 12, 2015 would be observed as Columbus Day and no school would be in session. Report cards will be sent home on October 15 , with Parent’s Day on October 20.

The next  Board Meeting will be October 22, at 4:00 PM in the board room.