Alabama’s new cases of the COVID-19 virus continued at an alarming pace last week, with an increase of more than 11,000 new cases and 189 new deaths. The number of cases hit an all-time daily high increase of 2,283 new cases from July 22 – 23. The news was slightly better for Fayette County, which registered an increase of 23 new cases and no additional deaths for the seven-day period from July 20-27. Last week, Fayette had a seven-day increase of 31 new cases and four additional deaths reported by the Alabama Department of Public Health.
The Fayette County Board of Education held a work session on Thursday, July 16 to present a tentative working “roadmap” for reopening school in Fayette County this fall. All current board members were present. Superintendent Jim Burkhalter said that the scheduled start date for students remains Aug. 20. He said that on-line, remote and virtual classes during the new school year would be much more difficult and challenging then the classes that the school system finished the spring semester with. “Our objective is to be as safe and efficient a school system as possible,” Burkhalter said.
Former Berry City Councilman Wesley Jacobs and political newcomer Robert Townley were the big local winners in the July 14 Republican primary runoff election. Jacobs defeated Roger Morrison 395 (58.52 percent) to 280 (41.48 percent) to secure his nomination for the County Commission District 4 seat. Current District 4 Commissioner James Knight was defeated during the March 3 primary, and since there will be no Democratic opposition for the commission seat in November, Jacobs is virtually assured a position on the commission.
The Fayette City Council approved a change in benefits that will allow Tier II employees to receive the same benefits as Tier I employees at retirement. Councilwoman Linda McCraw was absent, with all other council members present. Tier II employees were hired on or after Jan. 1, 2013, and most of the employees perform the same tasks that Tier 1 employees perform. Tier II employees have to pay a higher percentage into the retirement system and normally receive a lower retirement benefit.
The Hamilton post of the Alabama State Troopers reported that, “A single vehicle crash on Heartline Road in Fayette County claimed the life of a Bankston man. Scotty Wayne Keeton, W/M, DOB 3/1/72, died after being run over by a vehicle. The incident occurred at approximately 8 p.m. on 7/13/20.” Nothing further was released by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) State Troopers, as they continue to investigate the incident.
Fayette County recorded its largest weekly total of new COVID-19 cases last week, as the numbers spiked following the Independence Day holiday. From Monday, July 13 - Monday, July 20, Fayette County had an increase of 31 new COVID-19 cases, bringing its total at press time to 121 cases. The largest previous increase in one week was 26 new cases for the seven-day period concluding on June 15. On July 13, the Alabama Department of Public Health was still reporting only one death in Fayette County from the coronavirus.
The Fayette County Commission discussed raising the retirement benefit of Tier I employees to the level of Tier II employees during a work session that proceeded its July 13 meeting. All commissioners were present for both the work session and the meeting. Tier II employees are employees that were hired on or after Jan. 1, 2013. These employees perform the same tasks as Tier I employees, but pay a higher amount into the retirement system while receiving less in benefits at retirement time.
An accident in Glen Allen on Wednesday, July 8 claimed the life of a Fayette County resident. Gaylon Wayne Dubose Jr., 53, of Glen Allen, was killed when a Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) train struck him on a section of tracks near Glen Allen. The accident happened at approximately 7 p.m., and according to investigators, Dubose died on the scene. Lieutenant Dustin Hulsey, investigator for the Winfield Police Department, was one of the officers who responded to the scene.
After experiencing a decline in the number of new COVID-19 cases within the county during the past three weeks, the latest figures released by the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) show an increase of 19 new cases during the past seven-day period. As of Monday, July 13, Fayette County has recorded 90 total cases of the coronavirus with one reported death.
Several individuals qualified for municipal offices during the first week of qualifying in Berry and Fayette. The towns of Glen Allen and Belk reported no early qualifiers for office.
In Berry, incumbents in four of the five places for council, as well as the incumbent mayor have already qualified. These qualifiers are as follows: Mayor: Jimmy Madison, Place 1: Mary Sue Lollar, Place 3: Russell Madison, Place 4: Troyce Townsel, and Place 5: Calvin Madison. No one has qualified yet for Place 2, including the current incumbent Chris Rice.
The Berry Town Council approved two resolutions pertaining to its upcoming municipal elections during its July 6 regular monthly meeting. All council members and Mayor Jimmy Madison were present for the meeting. Councilman Calvin Madison made a motion that was seconded by Councilman Chris Rice to designate Town Clerk Marie McCluskey to perform certain mayoral duties as they apply to the municipal election in place of Mayor Madison. Mayor Madison said that this is due to the fact that he is planning to run for re-election.
The Glen Allen Town Council met in regular session on Tuesday, July 7 at the Glen Allen Community Center. Councilwoman Gail Bircheat and Councilman Dustin Youngblood were not in attendance for the monthly meeting. Following standard operating procedures, Mayor Allen J. Dunavant announced the notice for the election of municipal officers. Citizens will elect the mayor and council members for each place on the town’s governing council.
An investigation into the recent death of an inmate who was in custody at the Fayette County jail is being conducted by the State Bureau of Investigations. A statement released last week by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) stated the following: “On Wednesday, June 17, 2020, at the request of Fayette County Sheriff’s Office, Special Agents with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) are investigating an in‐custody death reported on Wednesday, June 17, 2020, at the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office.
The July 14 primary runoff election features no Democratic ballot and a short Republican ballot for eligible voters. Voters who voted in the Democratic primary on March 3 are barred by law from “crossing over” and voting in the Republican runoff primary on July 14. Voters who did not vote in the March 3 primary, or who only voted on the Constitutional amendments, are eligible to vote in the runoff, along with the Republican primary voters.
Fayette Medical Center’s Long-Term Care facility registered its first confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus last week, according to a spokesperson for DCH Health System. Andy North, vice-president of marketing and communications for DCH, issued the following statement concerning the virus at the facility: “Late last week, a few residents at Fayette Medical Center’s Long-Term Care facility began showing symptoms of COVID-19.
Qualifying opened on July 7 and will continue until 5 p.m. on Tuesday, July 21 for the four municipalities located within Fayette County. Municipal elections for Glen Allen, Belk, Berry and the City of Fayette will be held on Aug. 25, with runoff elections to be held on Oct. 6 if necessary. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. All city council seats will be up for election, as will the mayors in each municipalities. Candidates for office will have to qualify at their respective town/city halls during regular business hours.
The Alabama Department of Revenue (ALDOR) would like to remind taxpayers that an important deadline is right around the corner. July 15 is the deadline for any Alabama taxpayer whose payment and filing deadline for state Individual Income Tax, Corporate Income Tax, Financial Institution Excise Tax (FIET), and Business Privilege Tax (BPT) was extended from its original due date by executive order on April 10.