A FREE Publication Serving Conecuh County Since 2003
I moved to Conecuh County in 1976, married local and have two children.
Over the past 30 years, chances are you've probably met me at some time - or at the least you've read some of my work.
I started my newspaper career here in Evergreen as a writer/photographer with the Conecuh Countian Newspaper in 1987. The weekly paper was only a couple years old at that time and the owner, Geary Risher, needed someone to help guide the newspaper. Within a few years I became Managing Editor, and with Geary's tenaciousness, my determination and a hardworking staff, the Conecuh Countian Newspaper thrived for many years.
The Countian was a hard-hitting, hometown newspaper that covered major issues concerning local government, while promoting the economic and social wellbeing of country life in rural Alabama.
While working for The Conecuh Countian, I also worked as a correspondent for the Mobile Press Register covering regional and national news.
I've been at this journalism thing for a while now. I brought you news of just about every major event that took place in our area between 1987 and 2003. Then I took an unexpected vacation.
In 2001, the owner, Geary Risher, passed away from cancer and by 2003 the Conecuh Countian Newspaper was in decline. On February 2nd (Ground Hog Day), I got run over by our family Rottweiler and wound up with a fractured femur (three places) and a cracked hip. My daughter was 6-years old and my son was barely a month old. Broken both physically and financially, and with me in a wheelchair, my wife and I started The Monthly View Newspaper from our home on July 4th, 2003.
Over the past 16 years we've continued to break new ground with exclusive stories and articles about issues important to the people of Conecuh County. We've built a monthly print edition with a readership equal to 75 percent of the population of the City of Evergreen - or 1 in 5 people within Conecuh County. And have an active web site that's ranked #35 out of the top 50 newspaper websites in the state of Alabama! And according to one website, we generate some 39,000 visitors per month!
In January 2019 the name of The Monthly View Newspaper was changed to The Countian Newspaper to better reflect our heritage - and we continue to move forward!
For those who may be interested, here are a few brief excerpts from some of my work - and some "blasts from the Past" you might remember. The dates may be off, but I believe they're correct.
I'm going to start with the story I'm most proud of. Even this far down the road and after this many years, I'm not ready to tell you how I came across this information. I'm still thinking about writing a book....
September 24, 1989:
Did Iran Missile Deal Date To 1984? Alabama Man's Testimony Called
WASHINGTON - The shipping of TOW missiles to Iran in a trade for hostages may have had its roots in a 1984 effort by the U.S. government to buy 2,000 Chinese missiles through the operator of an Alabama school for mercenaries, according to testimony presented to a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee.
That would date the government involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal a year earlier than previously revealed in investigations by a presidential panel, a special congressional committee and the trial of Oliver North, former staffer of the National Security Council who directed the Iran-Contra affair.
(NOTE: This article was picked up by the Associated Press and distributed nationally.)
Three Arrested After Salo Abducted From Home
EVERGREEN-The First Alabama Bank of Evergreen's Vice President, Thomas Salo, was kidnapped at gun point from his rural Conecuh County home about 8:15 a.m. Monday, August 22, according to authorities.
Two masked men reportedly hid on Mr. Salo's property and abducted him as he walked to his vehicle preparing to leave for work. Forced to return inside his home, Mr. Salo was made to sign a personal check in the amount of $9,000 before being driven in his own vehicle to a wooded area off County Road 29.
Mr. Salo's vehicle was abandoned about 50 yards off the roadway by the kidnappers who tied Mr. Salo to a nearby tree then fled the scene.
Mr. Salo reportedly freed himself then notified authorities who were waiting at the First Alabama Bank of Evergreen when a subject entered and attempted to cash the $9,000 check.
Mr. Salo was unharmed in the incident and three men were reportedly charged with kidnapping 1st degree.
Conecuh Drug Bust Said One Of Largest
EVERGREEN, Ala. - Local, state and federal authorities zeroed in on Conecuh County Saturday afternoon in what was described as one of the largest busts in south Alabama.
Armed with automatic weapons, bullet-proof vests and 20 drug indictments handed down by a federal grand jury in Mobile, authorities gathered to attempt to serve 15 federal and five state indictments on subjects located in the City of Evergreen and throughout the county.
Arrested on federal charges were 12 men and one woman who are being held in Mobile County Jail.
Chef Putting Years Of "Fine" Cooking To Use In
EVERGREEN, Ala. - Few people eating at the Best Grill in Mobile during 1948 may have noticed the owner's nine-year old son, Vincent. He was only one of 10 children in the Henderson family and worked at the eatery on Davis Avenue, as a rule, after school and on weekends.
But in 1989, 41 years later, Vincent Henderson has made a name for himself in some of the finest restaurants across the country. Working for the likes of T.P. Crockmier's, The Carriage House, Mobile Greyhound Park, Holiday Inn, the Mobile Hilton and Pete Roussos', just to name a few, Henderson has learned the art of cooking from New Orleans to Boston and can best be described himself as a Master Chef.
While working for Pete Roussos' in Mobile, Henderson says he felt he needed a change. Eager to accept a challenge, Henderson got that opportunity in April of last year when he was approached with an offer from Evergreen.
"A friend of mine in Mobile knew him," Pat Poole said, owner of the Quality Inn in Evergreen, "and found out he was interested in making a change. So I approached him about coming up here and managing the motel and restaurant - and he said he would. He's been up here a year and it's been going pretty good. He turned it around."
Reunion Special To Have Special Rider
CASTLEBERRY, Ala. - A very special young lady from Conecuh County will be aboard the Alabama Reunion Special Saturday as the train chugs its way southward from Montgomery to Evergreen as part of the Alabama Reunion.
According to Pam Hammonds of First Alabama Bank, the special coordinator for the event, Sarah Lenn Lanier, the 11-year old daughter of Edwin and Sara Lanier of Castleberry, won first-place in a county-wide contest to win a ride on the train.
The contest was a local idea for Conecuh County, according to Mrs. Hammonds, and involved grades K-5 in Conecuh County Schools.
Sarah Lenn, along with other fifth-grade students, was asked to write an essay of 50 to 1000 words on "Why I Would Like To Ride the First Alabama Special."
What set Sarah Lenn's effort apart is that she has been visually impaired since birth, according to her mother.
Country Singer Launches Career
EVERGREEN, Ala. - Most people don't come to sleepy south Alabama cities to launch singing careers, but that's just what Cathy Deupree Adkinson did Sunday at Evergreen's City Park.
Evergreen was anything but a quiet little town when Mrs. Atkinson made her professional singing debut using the stage name Jett Williams at a festival honoring her late father, country music legend Hank Williams Sr.
Lake Project Work May Finally Begin
EVERGREEN, Ala. - The old adage that "third time is a charm" my hold true for a proposed lake project in Conecuh County that originated some 10 to 12 years ago, according to city and county officials.
"This is actually the third time around that I'm trying to help," said former Evergreen City Councilman Aubrey Padgett. "I probably won't ever live long enough to even see the thing, but somebody will - some of my people will - and I know it's going to benefit the county."
According to Padgett, who is a member of an eight-man committee in charge of the project, the focus and location of the Conecuh County Reservoir Project has changed since its inception. Plans originally called for enlarging the existing county lake, which is in the northern part of the county, but an Auburn University study recommended moving the project to Murder Creek and placing a dam about a mile west of Interstate 65, Padgett said.
Police officers plan their search for a man involved in a bank
robbery Tuesday afternoon
EVERGREEN-According to reports, a lone man walked into the lobby of the First Alabama Bank around noon Tuesday and robbed a bank teller of $590 in cash.
According to official reports at the Evergreen Police Department, the incident began when the man entered the lobby and asked a teller for a dollar's worth of change. Once the cash drawer was opened, the man demanded the teller give him all of the 20 and 100 dollar bills contained in the drawer. After the teller reportedly handed the man several of the bills, he left the bank and fled the scene in a maroon colored Chrysler.
Seven Dead After Head On Collision
EVERGREEN-Seven people were killed last Sunday in a three vehicle accident on U.S. 31 about two miles south of Evergreen when a 1981 Toyota Celica driven by Willie D. Jenkins, 38, of Castleberry, ran head-on into a 1979 Monte Carlo driven by Dempsey Coburn, 75, of Evergreen. The impact of the collision ejected one of the occupants from the backseat of the Celica who was then struck by a 1994 Jeep Cherokee driven by Todd Barnhill, 27, of Pace, Fl.
Sullivan Now Acting Revenue Commissioner
CONECUH COUNTY-With the resignation of former Tax Collector Jim Burden becoming effective March 31, Tax Assessor Terry Sullivan has taken on a new title - Acting Revenue Commissioner.
Due to legislation proposed by the County Commission and passed by the Alabama Legislature on March 3, the offices of Tax Assessor and Tax Collector are scheduled to be combined into one department and fall under the direction of a Revenue Commissioner.
Although the Act still needs approval by the U.S. Department of Justice before it can be placed on the ballot for a vote by the people during this year's election, the wheels of change are already in motion at the courthouse due to the recent resignation of Jim Burden.
Police Officers Earn Recognition At City Council Meeting
EVERGREEN-Six members of the Evergreen Police Department and two Monroe County deputies received recognition last week by the Evergreen City Council, and in some cases, recognition by national and international police organizations.
During a ceremony at last week's city council meeting, Evergreen Police Chief Thomas Booker presented plaques, certificates of recognition, and in one case, a life saving award, to members of his police department and the Monroe County Sheriff's Department.
The following is a list of the officers, their awards, and a brief account of the incidents that resulted in their recognition.
Sergeant James Simpson, Sergeant Wayne Stewart:
Saved By The Belt Award from the International Chief's of Police Association.
On May 2, 1994 both officers were attempting to stop a fleeing vehicle wanted for traffic violations. Sgt. Stewart waited ahead of the vehicle in the downtown Evergreen area as Sgt. Simpson pursued the vehicle north on U.S. 31 at speeds of over 100 mph.
Sgt. Simpson continued to follow the car as it approached Sgt. Stewart's location at the intersection of U.S. 31 and Cooper Street. The vehicle managed to eluded both officers at the intersection and the patrol cars collided causing major damage to both patrol cars. The fleeing vehicle was later stopped by other officers. Sgt. Simpson and Sgt. Stewart were wearing their seatbelts and neither were seriously injured in the incident.
Sergeant William Powe:
Saved By The Belt Award from the International Chiefs of Police Association; Life Saving Award from the National Chiefs of Police Association; Medal Of Valor from the Southwest Alabama Emergency Medical Services System, Inc.
Saved By The Belt Award:
On July 13, 1995, then-Corporal William Powe was patrolling the City of Evergreen when he attempted to turn onto a side road. As he made the turn, his patrol car struck some oil residue in the roadway causing him to lose control of the car which then struck a tree. Powe was wearing his seatbelt and was not hurt in the accident.
Life Saving Award; Medal of Valor:
On January 4, 1996, then-Corporal William Powe was assisting a motorist at the scene of a disabled log truck at the intersection of U.S. 31 and Main Street in Evergreen. While standing by for traffic control, Powe observed the driverless log truck begin rolling backwards down a hill towards the parking lot of the Jr. Food store. Powe then ran on foot ahead of the out of control log truck warning bystanders of the danger and moved a customer standing beside the gasoline pump out of harms way. A moment later the log truck crashed into his patrol car, the gasoline pump, and came to rest on top of the customer's car crushing the hood and blowing out both front tires.
Mr. Bill Hart, Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Southwest Alabama Emergency Medical Services System, Inc., was on hand at the city council meeting to present Sergeant Powe with the organization's Medal of Valor.
Ambulance Service Delivers Baby
EVERGREEN-A Mixonville woman was unable to make it to D.W. McMillan Hospital in Brewton last week and wound up delivering her baby in the back of an ambulance at Smith's Ambulance Service on U.S. 31.
According to members of Smith's Ambulance Service, the young woman had reportedly gone into labor in the early morning hours of Wednesday, October 3 and was travelling to the hospital with family members when the trip was abruptly cut short.
About 8:45 a.m. a family member entered the ambulance service's office and requested paramedics "take a look" at the pregnant woman who was waiting in a car outside. It was discovered that the woman was in full labor and the baby would soon be delivered.
According to Sue Smith, one of the owners of Smith's Ambulance Service, the woman was moved to the back of an ambulance waiting in the parking lot where only minutes later she gave birth to a 4 pound, 11 ounce baby boy. The attending paramedic was Craig Williamson, an employee of Smith's Ambulance Service since August of this year.
After the delivery, both mother and child were transported by ambulance to D.W. McMillian Hospital in Brewton where they were reportedly doing well.
Authorities Continue Search For Suspects In Triple Murder
BROOKLYN-Authorities continue to search for suspects in the murder of store-owner Richard Cary, 52, employee Donald Scott Williams, 39, of Brewton and Timothy Bryan Crane Jr., 13, also of Brewton, who were shot to death Wednesday, November 20 at Cary's Grocery two miles west of Brooklyn.
Investigators with the District Attorney's office, the Alabama Bureau of Investigation and the Conecuh County Sheriff's Department began their investigation soon after the murders were reported about 8:15 p.m. November 20.
Within minutes of being notified of the murders, District Attorney Tommy Chapman said he requested assistance from the Alabama Violent Crime Response Team who rushed to the scene and immediately began gathering evidence.
The Violent Crime Response Team is made up of specially trained investigators from the Department of Forensic Sciences and agents from the Alabama Bureau of Investigation. The Montgomery-based team responded in a fully equipped truck with specialized equipment capable of collecting fingerprints, processing ballistics from firearms, and recovering and storing other evidence located at the crime scene.
Also assisting in the investigation is Dr. Carlos Rabren, head of the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences.