A stalwart member of the Belk community beginning her eighth term on the Belk Town Council passed away on Friday, Dec. 18 after losing her battle with the COVID-19 virus. Jeannie Hollingsworth, age 69 of Belk, had been visiting with her daughter Dana Hollingsworth in Charlottesville, Va. during Thanksgiving week when she became ill and was taken to the hospital. Dana Hollingsworth said that her mother was admitted to the hospital with “COVID-related symptoms” from which she never recovered.
Editor’s note: As we approach a new year, we pause to take a look back at some of the top news stories of the first six months of 2020. In a year that was dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic, there were also numerous other newsworthy stories throughout the year.
Former Fayette City Councilman, Robert Neil McCabe, passed away at his home on Saturday, Dec. 19 following a short illness at the age of 90. McCabe was first elected to the Fayette City Council in 1992, then was re-elected to a second term in 1996. He served his first term under the direction of Fayette Mayor Jerry Bobo, and his second term was served under the leadership of Mayor Wayne Meherg.
The year 2020 has certainly been a year for the record books, and not in a very positive manner. The COVID-19 pandemic dominated the news throughout the year and has affected almost everyone’s daily lives. The past couple of months have been especially difficult, as numerous friends and family members have contracted the coronavirus. Almost nothing concerning the year 2020 has been anything like normal, with people suffering physically, emotionally and financially due to the virus.
Although Fayette County no longer leads the state in the positivity rate of COVID-19 tests during the past two weeks, the county still ranks in the top 10 with a positivity rate of 51 percent. As of Sunday, Dec. 20, Fayette County had recorded 236 positive test out of a total of 453 tests performed during a two-week period. Two weeks ago, Fayette County had the highest rate in the state with 56 percent of the tests being positive.
The Fayette County Commission recognized one of its employees at the beginning of its Dec. 14 meeting for excelling in scholastic achievement while attending Bevill State Community College. All commissioners were present at the meeting. Preston Jones, the county maintenance supervisor, received the 2020 New Century Workforce Scholar for the State of Alabama and received a $1,250 scholarship award. Jones also received the Carl A. Elliott, Sr. Student Achievement Award for the 2019-20 academic year.
The Berry boys’ basketball team defeated Marion County 53-41 in a game played on Dec. 14.
Isaiah Kizzire led Berry with 13 points, followed by Tyler Lollar with 12 points. Blake Johnson and Colton Abernathy each scored eight points, followed by Johnathan Locke with seven points and Colton Cunningham with five points. The Berry girls were defeated by Marion County 82-42.
The Fayette County High School varsity basketball teams have had to not only battle their opponents this season, they have also had to battle the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.
Fayette’s boys opened the season on Nov. 20 with a 56-44 loss to the Carbon Hill Bulldogs. The Tigers were led in scoring by Kealand Savage with 13 points.
The Hubbertville Lions boys’ and girls’ basketball teams each played South Lamar last week on Dec. 14 at Hubbertville. The boys’ team lost to the Stallions by a score of 70-50. Gage Alexander, playing in his first basketball game for the Lions after recovering from an injury received during football season, led Hubbertville in scoring with 16 points and seven rebounds.
A concerned parent addressed the Fayette County Board of Education prior to its Dec. 8 meeting concerning recent events and issues within the Fayette County School System. Bryan Afshar, a 2000 graduate of Hubbertville School, introduced himself to the board and read a prepared statement. He began the statement by saying that his wife teaches at Hubbertville School and that they have three children attending Hubbertville.
The Fayette City Council made its annual appropriation to the Fayette Medical Center (FMC) Board from the one-half cent hospital sales tax during its Dec. 8 meeting. Councilwoman Virettia Whiteside was absent, with all other council members present. Prior to the beginning of the meeting, Caleb Hall led the attendees in prayer, followed by Macy Hall leading the Pledge of Allegiance. Fayette Medical Center Administrator Donald Jones was present at the meeting, along with several members of the local hospital board, to accept the check from the city council.
The Fayette County Board of Education approved several personnel items and changes during its Dec. 8 meeting. Board member John Aaron was absent from the meeting, with all other board members present. Prior to the beginning of the meeting, local parent Bryan Afshar addressed the board by reading a prepared statement concerning the recent security issue – bomb threat that occurred within the school system. His statement and the response of the school system and law enforcement officials is addressed in a separate article in this week’s paper.
The Berry High School basketball team matched one of the accomplishments of the football team when they captured the Northwest Alabama Conference (NAC) title with a 77-43 win over Brilliant on Dec. 11. Tyler Lollar led Berry with 24 points, followed by Colton Abernathy with 21 points. Noah Darty scored nine points, Johnathan Locke had eight points, Blake Johnson added five points, with Deon Mayfield and Isaiah Kizzire scoring four points each. Colton Cunningham scored two points for the Wildcats against Brilliant.
The Hubbertville boys and girls basketball teams each fell to both Hackleburg and Lynn during the week. On Dec. 8, Hackleburg defeated the boys’ team by a score of 51-47. Gage Key led Hubbertville with 17 points, followed by Austin Berryhill and Brady Porter with eight each.
A Belk woman who had been missing since Saturday, Dec. 5, was found safe in the City of Tuscaloosa on Monday, Dec. 7. According to the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office, Marilyn Watkins, 70, was last seen at approximately 11 a.m. at her home in Belk. She had reportedly left her home driving a 2012 Infinity G37. Law enforcement authorities issued an alert because Watkins was thought to have a medical condition that might impair her judgment while traveling alone. Fayette County Sheriff Byron Yerby said that there were reports of her being seen in the Tuscaloosa area on Sunday, Dec. 6.