Friday, November 4, 2016

Detached leg found in Lamar County

I made a disturbing discovery this morning at the intersection between my house and dairy: a leg.

If you are familiar with the area, you've probably noticed that we have a pair of pasture gates on the Vernon side of the intersection. We often run cattle down the road between those gates and our dairy, and it is not unusual to see fresh litter on the side of the road when opening or closing those gates. Fast food bags, cans, cigarette butts, scratched CDs, and dirty baby diapers are not unusual to find, no doubt flung out the window by someone who couldn't wait to find a garbage can. But a leg? That was a first.

It is bad enough to see a detached leg on the side of the road, even worse when it is so close to where you live and work. I'll certainly be more vigilant in the coming days, but my gut tells me this was probably an isolated incident and we don't have a serial limb-hacker running around the countryside. I have no experience in criminal justice or investigative work, but I've seen enough "Law & Order" to deduce that the victim was more than likely a tall blonde and knew her attacker. If you recognize the leg in the photo below or have any potentially relevant information, please share it with the appropriate authorities.

Will Gilmer is the founder and publisher of The Lamar Countian. A graduate of Lamar County High School and Mississippi State University, he co-owns and operates his family's dairy farm in the Shiloh community along with his father. You can follow Will on Twitter at @gilmerdairy.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Discussing Vernon's Future: Communication is Key

by Chris Robertson

I am grateful for the interest and positive feedback I received on the introduction of my op-ed series about the upcoming city elections and the future of Vernon. I understand that Vernon is a small town with a lot of family connections, and many people don’t feel comfortable voicing their opinions publicly. Just keep sending me those texts, Facebook messages, and pulling me to the side when you see me in town. I will be happy to be your voice when it comes to asking questions and seeking answers about your concerns for your city government. In my introduction, I wanted to make sure that readers understand my goal. I wanted to give credit where credit is due for the good people working hard to make Vernon better. Now in “Part One,” it is time to start discussing ideas for improvement.

In one of my all-time favorite movies Cool Hand Luke, Captain (Strother Martin) expounds upon the situation by telling Luke (Paul Newman), “What we've got here is failure to communicate.” A lack of communication raises questions where there should be none and leads to distrust and suspicion. Unfortunately, we have a communication problem with our current administration.

I have already stated my case against the way the city sales tax increase was implemented in the past. I have talked to several local business owners since writing that piece and asked them how they learned about the tax increase. All of them told me they read about it in the paper. It is tough for small town businesses to compete against the big boys, and this tax increase made it a little tougher. I understand the need for more funding as costs of infrastructure skyrocket. I’m not even arguing that the tax increase was not justified, but it certainly was not communicated to the community properly. It would not have taken much time or effort for the current administration to meet with local business owners, give a brief explanation of why the increase was necessary, and listen to their concerns. But that did not happen, or at least not with the businesses with whom I spoke. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Valedictory address given by Hayden Duncan to LCHS Class of 2016

(The following is the text of the valedictory address given by Hayden Duncan to the LCHS Class of 2016)

To start, I would like to thank all of you for coming here tonight. I would also like to congratulate the class of 2016 on making it through the insanity of high school and getting to that next big step in life. When I look at my fellow classmates, I see limitless potential and a group of hard workers. Although there are some that may not have put as much effort into class work as they could have, I truly believe every single one of you will put forth the effort to make something of yourselves in the future and become successful. By “successful,” I don’t mean living in a huge house, driving a nice car, and making tons of money (although I do wish that all of you could have that). One of the best descriptions of success I’ve heard comes from comedian and actor, Marlon Wayans who said, “Success is not a destination but a road that you’re on. Being successful means that you’re working hard and walking your walk every day. You can only live your dream by working hard towards it.” 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Discussing Vernon's Future (Introduction)

by Chris Robertson

I noticed the other day while perusing notes from recent city council meetings that the mayor and all current council members are seeking re-election. This made me reflect for a moment on both what the current administration has achieved and on what I would like to see from the next administration.  In an effort to encourage issues-centered conversation between Vernon's citizens, the incumbents, and their potential challengers, I will be submitting a small series of op-eds listing my hopes and concerns for Vernon's future over the coming days. But before doing so, I would be remiss not to recognize some of the most notable achievements that have occurred under our current administration's leadership.

The City Center/Auditorium has become a true source of pride for us all. It's hard to remember that building as the one I attended high school in some thirty years ago. The refurbishing and modernization have created a beautiful, functional building. The downtown murals, lampposts, and flower pots have brightened up a lot of old bricks and given character to the area. The city park looks better than it has at any point since it was built. The additions of a splash pad, playground equipment, and very nice landscaping have not gone unnoticed.

Now, let's get ready to discuss the future. What do you think, Vernon? What is on your wish list for the new administration? I talk to people in town every week who express both their happiness and frustration with our leaders. Remember, communication is key! Stay tuned...

Chris Robertson is a 1985 graduate of LCHS and spent 16 years with Flowers Foods before health issues forced his retirement in 2004. He now devotes his time to his faith, his family, and arguing with "progressives". Follow him on Twitter at @chipinbama

Friday, April 29, 2016

Pastor vs Evangelist

by Scott Bouldin

This week, our church has enjoyed worship services that would be normally classified as ‘revival meetings’. It has been a wonderful series of services with evangelists Bro. Charles Miller, who has led worship, and Bro. Michael Mason. Both men have yielded to the Holy Spirit and led and preached as the Lord has called them to do. I appreciate both of these men for their service to the Lord and for the way that they have led us during the week. I pray that seeds of revival have been planted and that they will be nurtured for future growth. With revival in mind, I would like to share a thought or two about the reception of an evangelist in the church.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

My journey from "new girl" to state Beta Club President

by Ashlynn McCain

​In the early months of my junior year, it was announced that an election would soon be held for the office of Beta Vice President. Originally, I didn’t think about it much. I saw the others who had signed up and figured I didn’t have a very good chance at winning. However, the day of the deadline, I decided to throw caution to the wind and sign my name to the list. I had no concept of what this small action would do for me and my school.
The day of the election came, and all Beta Club members were summoned to the lunch room to hear a quick speech from those running. I had only been part of Lamar County High School for a little over a year, and the “new girl” feeling had just worn off. I knew many members of the club, but I was still afraid that I was an outsider, and that my loud personality had probably made many feel uncomfortable, dooming me to last place. Despite my worries, I ended up in a runoff. It was my name called over the intercom a day later, and I was shocked beyond words. Nervousness crept in as I realized in several months, I would have to speak in front of over 2,000 people. I knew I had leadership skills, and that I could really make a difference if I were elected into state office. But would I be able to pull it off? Though the question hung within me, I knew that I had to try.

​When March rolled around, Mrs. Leanne Burks and I began to brainstorm over different themes for my campaign. Because the show had become so popular with my friends, I had begun to watch Grey’s Anatomy a couple months previously. The characters were not only intelligent, but strong and enduring. I admired many of them and wished to accomplish great things as they did. We agreed that Beta’s Anatomy should be the theme, and I immediately began on my speech.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Lamar County Schools Win Big at State Beta Convention

The 76th annual Alabama Senior Beta Convention was recently held in Birmingham where over 2000 students and chaperons gathered to participate in various areas of competition. Students from Lamar County High School and Sulligent High School came home with numerous awards. The highlight for these schools involved the campaigns for state office which resulted in two students from our county being elected to represent our state. Ashlynn McCain, a junior at LCHS, was elected as the new state president, and Collin Carruth, a junior at SHS, was elected as the new state secretary. In addition, LCHS received the 1st place award for campaign skits, and Sulligent was awarded 2nd place.

The following students from LCHS also received individual awards: 

McCain, Irvin, Robertson, Allen, Hankins
Regan Robertson- 1st place in painting, 1st place in watercolor, and 1st place in onsite acrylic painting;
Julia Irvin- 1st place in spelling, 3rd place in mixed media art, and 3rd place in onsite colored pencil;
Katelyn Allen- 3rd place in oratory; and
Madison Hankins- 3rd place in poetry.

Sulligent was awarded 3rd place in quiz bowl and was named as a finalist in special talent. Nicholas Roberts placed 2nd in the social studies academic test.

The state convention was planned by Mrs. Leanne Burks of Lamar County High School who is currently serving a two-year term as the state sponsor. She was assisted by Ms. Rebecca Green of Sulligent High School, who is serving as state sponsor-elect. They would like to thank LCHS Principal Vance Herron, who is serving on the state council, and their fellow sponsors in the county (Ernestine Chandler, Portia Johnson, Janet Adams, Tracy Windle, Molly Wheeler, and Brooks Moss), who all helped organize and carry out various competitions. Such an event would not be possible without the cooperation of dedicated teachers and administrators. Most of all, they would like to thank the students for representing our schools in such a distinguished manner.

Pictured L to R: Portia Johnson, Ernestine Chandler, Leanne Burks, Ashlynn McCain,
Vance Herron, Collin Carruth, Rebecca Green, Janet Adams, Molly Wheeler, and Tracy Windle

Congratulations and best wishes to these schools as they prepare for nationals in New Orleans this summer. Any support and encouragement given to these young people would be greatly appreciated.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Celebrating "Earth Day" Every Day

by Will Gilmer

"Earth Day" began nearly half a century ago as a way to celebrate and show support for protecting our environment. For dairy farmers like myself and others throughout the agriculture community, every day is Earth Day and April 22nd is simply the day on the calendar that everyone else acknowledges what we’ve always appreciated. We farmers strive to be responsible stewards of the environment because our livelihood and family legacy are connected to the health of the land, air and water we share.

Dairy farmers work hard to protect these precious resources which provide the foundation for the cows we raise to produce milk, but also because we live on this land with our families. Many families like mine have been living on the same land we have farmed for over 100 years, and we hope to pass it along to future generations just as it was passed down to us. This is why sustainability is so important, because we need to be able to produce nutritious and affordable foods like milk and grow crops while maintaining or even reducing the amount of land required to do so.

Captured dairy manure is used to
fertilize forage crops and pasture grasses.
Advances in the dairy industry have allowed us reduce our overall “carbon footprint.” We can now produce 60 percent more milk, using 64 percent fewer cows than half a century ago. In fact, it takes about 90 percent less land to produce a gallon of milk compared to 1944.

Dairy farmers now do more than ever before to re-use and recycle the waste their cows produce. Like many other dairymen, we take our manure and spread it around in our fields to fertilize grass, corn or other crops. Others use dried out manure as sanitary bedding for cows, while other are using it to create electricity via anaerobic digesters.

Dairy farmers like me have lived “green” for decades, not because it’s a movement, but because it’s the right thing to do and happens to be good for business. So if you’re looking for a way to celebrate Earth Day, raise a glass of milk or thank a farmer for what they do the other 364 days each year.

Will Gilmer is the founder and publisher of The Lamar Countian, and is a graduate of Lamar County High School and Mississippi State University. Along with his father, he co-owns and operates his family's dairy farm in the Shiloh community. You can follow Will on Twitter at @gilmerdairy.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Day Superman Died

by Brent Morrison

NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt standing alongside his iconic black #3 Chevy
February 18, 2001, is a day that many of us will never forget. It is a day that continues to stir our memories and emotions, eliciting thoughts of triumph and tragedy, feelings of joy and pain.

It was the day Superman died. 

Dale Earnhardt didn't wear a cape, but he did things in a stock car most young boys can only dream about. Kids revel in the thrill of riding bicycles down long, steep hills, furiously pedaling to the brink of  "wiping out". For most, that's where the speed-induced adrenaline rush ends. Dale was able to chase that feeling every Sunday with ease and grace. He was an everyman; a self-made millionaire from a dirt poor family in Kannapolis, North Carolina. Dale lived out his boyhood dream but never forgot where he came from. He would spend his days working on his farm and handling his day-to-day life no different from you and I before slipping into his Superhero outfit and dazzling us every Sunday. These were the qualities that made him stand out among his peers, the qualities that made him so appealing to the common man. He was a superstar, but he was a relatable superstar.

He was our superstar.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

How important is a candidate's faith to Christian voters?

by: Will Gilmer

One of the many questions a Christian should reflect upon is to what degree does (or should) their faith inform and shape their political views. Do they only support politicians and policies that are in lockstep with their understanding of Biblical teachings on such issues as the sanctity of life and marriage, or are they willing to be flexible in some areas in order to make gains in others? Which is more important: piety or pragmatism?

Donald Trump holds his Bible aloft
during a recent campaign rally.
For many, a candidate's faith is also an important consideration when deciding who to support in a political race. This is the primary consideration for many voters, and one of the last for others. Some place great importance on a candidate's willingness to regularly proclaim their faith in public, while others prefer to look more at what they do (or how they vote) than what they say. For most, the answer probably lies somewhere in the middle.

This week gave us contrasting examples of two Republican presidential candidates approaching the topic of faith. One cited Scripture during what was presumably a prepared speech he delivered in front of a packed arena at Liberty University. The other shared the Gospel in response to a presumably unscripted question from a self-avowed atheist during a small town-hall meeting. 

Take a few minutes to watch these candidates' remarks in the two videos linked below, and then let me know what you think.  As for me, it reinforces my disapproval of the former and helps solidify my support of the latter.   

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Local official addresses recent controversy

Lamar County Board of Education Member Banks Hattaway found himself in the center of controversy last month when published an article featuring a "screenshot" of a comment Hattaway made on Facebook about Muslim immigration. The comment drew predominantly negative reactions across social media, both for the political viewpoint Hattaway expressed and for the manner in which he expressed it. Some went as far to suggest his position on the Board of Education served as an indictment of both the Lamar County school system and local electorate.

Yesterday, Mr. Hattaway addressed the situation on The Lamar Countian's Facebook page. In it, Hattaway alleges that did not give him an opportunity to share his side of the story and attempts to explain his comment from the month prior. The following is a screenshot of Mr. Hattaway's comment on our Facebook page:

We asked Mr. Hattaway to provide further clarification about his allegations against, which he did in two subsequent comments. You can read those comments (along with others) here.

Banks Hattaway is currently seeking a third-term on the Lamar County Board of Education (Place #1).