A look back at 2013

Published 11:37 am Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The year 2013 was full of good news, bad news, and all kinds of news in between. Here’s a look at some of the headlines that made news in the year.



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Two nabbed

in violent robbery

A call placed to Atmore law enforcement from Selma, Ala., police resulted in the arrest in January of two men wanted in connection with a December robbery in Dallas County.

Derrick Williams, 18, and JaQuenton Craft, 21, both of Atmore, were taken into custody by the Atmore Police Department after Selma officials alerted them to the men’s status as suspects, according to Drug Task Force Agent Scott Walden.



Byrd leaves ECHS

In January, the Escambia County Board of Education officially accepted the resignation of Zickeyous Byrd, who had served as the school’s principal for nearly three years.

Byrd announced his intentions of leaving the position in December to BOE Superintendent Randall Little.




DTF uncovers

record pill stash

A search warrant executed the night of Wednesday, Feb. 13, yielded what Drug Task Force Agent Scott Walden called the largest collection of pills and other narcotics his team had ever encountered.

Officers executed the warrant at approximately 6:30 p.m. at the home of Samuel and Gloria Angelo, located at 3636 U.S. Highway 31, where they found a total of 4,706 scheduled narcotics, including pills, pharmaceutical injection medications and marijuana.




‘Heroes’ save

woman’s life

Two local men were heralded as heroes Saturday, March 2, pulling a local woman from Brushy Creek following a car accident that left her vehicle upside down and partially submerged in water.

“I don’t know about being heroes,” Danny Wilson said.

Wilson, along with his son, Chris, pulled 23-year-old Kayla Stewart, of Rabun, from the water and called 911 after noticing clothing hanging from tree branches above the creek bottom.


Murder suspect

takes plea deal

A Pensacola man scheduled to go on trial Monday, March 18, for the murder of an Atmore man in August of 2011, instead reached a plea agreement that will send him to prison for nearly three years, according to Escambia County District Attorney Steve Billy.

Antonio Alberto Crenshaw was arrested in 2011 for allegedly shooting to death 23-year-old Christopher Payne Andrews on Maxwell Street in Atmore.


Fuqua named

new ECHS principal

The Escambia County Board of Education on Thursday, March 21, changed the status of an administrator to put an end to the search for a principal at Escambia County High School in Atmore.

Dennis Fuqua went from serving in an interim position to being named principal for the Atmore school, in a unanimous decision by board members.




Explosion destroys

family home

What was described as “an explosion” resulted in the total loss of a home on McCullough Road the afternoon of Thursday, April 13. One resident was mildly injured.

John Brewton sustained burns to his forearms when he attempted to enter his burning residence, where two family pets were located.


FBI seizes Freemanville Water Board records

Deputies with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Department and agents with the FBI seized records and computers from the Freemanville Water Board office on Alabama 21 at approximately 8:45 a.m. on Friday, April 26, according to members of the water board.

Vice Chairman Jethro Dailey and Chairman Edward Adams were on hand in the hours following the raid and said law enforcement officials were likely looking for evidence of misallocated funds.




Murder suspect

turns himself in

Kendrell McCants, the 28-year-old Atmore man wanted for the April 28 murder of Marvin Norman, was taken into custody Saturday, May 4.

Atmore Police Chief Jason Dean said McCants turned himself in to officers at Atmore Police Department Saturday at 2:26 p.m., almost exactly 24 hours after the warrant for his arrest was issued.

Dean said McCants was charged with murder and transported to the Escambia County Detention Center in Brewton.


ARTmore holds

inaugural event

The wait for the inaugural ARTmore event is over and artists from all over made their way to Atmore’s downtown district in preparation for the Saturday, May 18 festival.

Event organizer James Amerson said he was thrilled the event became a reality, after months of preparation.

“A lot of work has gone into this,” Amerson said. “I think it’s going to be very good for Atmore.”




EA replaces

headmaster; student gets diploma

after controversy

An interim administrator replaced then-headmaster Betty Warren in early June at Escambia Academy. EA basketball coach David Walker was named interim headmaster, and Nancy Deabler was eventually chosen as the new headmaster.

Also during the months of May and June, EA senior Chelsey Ramer was initially told that her family would have to pay a $1,000 fine in order for her to get her diploma, because Ramer wore a feather in her hair at graduation in violation of the dress code. However, that fine was later rescinded in late June and Ramer received her diploma.

At the time of Warren’s May 28 resignation, school board chairman Chris Kirk said the two circumstances were not related.


Man charged with arson, murder

A 60-year-old Atmore woman died in a house fire in the early morning hours of Saturday, June 8 — and later that day Atmore police arrested and charged a convicted felon with her murder.

Collis McCaster, 40, of Atmore, confessed to the crime, police said Tuesday, June 11, after the suspect volunteered for and took a polygraph test. He was charged with capital murder in the death of Mildred Jackson Morris, along with first-degree arson and first-degree sexual abuse, police said.




Woman mauled

by dogs

A Nokomis woman is recovering at USA Medical Center after a vicious bulldog attack that resulted in the amputation of her right arm, according to family members, and Escambia County officials have reported both dogs captured.

Sandra Lambert, 63, was walking with the two dogs she had taken in as strays in the 8000 block of Jake’s Road in Nokomis Thursday, July 18, when they attacked her just before 6 a.m., said Escambia County Sheriff’s Office Spokeswoman Sena Maddison.


Man pleads guilty

to murder

An Atmore man pleaded guilty Monday, July 22, to felony murder in the June 2012 shooting death of Atmore businessman Kendrick Lamon Dortch.

Damien Deonshay Jones’ guilty plea — which came as attorneys were preparing to select a jury for his trial — also paves the way for Jones to testify against the man who authorities say pulled the trigger in the case, then-16-year-old De’Anthony Dailey, Jones’ co-defendant.




Perdido man indicted for murder

A Perdido man involved in a police chase earlier this year has been indicted on a reckless murder charge in Escambia County, according to officials with the Escambia County Circuit Clerk’s office.

Roil Lamar Hadley, Jr. was indicted by a grand jury in August, after he allegedly fled from Poarch Creek Tribal Police officers and Alabama state troopers in May. According to the indictment, Hadley’s passenger, Benjamin Harrison, was ejected from the vehicle and died from injuries sustained in a crash during the chase.




Little Caesars announces return

Pizza fans in the Atmore area can look forward to a little more variety, as Little Caesars announced plans in September to open a new store in town.

The pizza chain once had a presence in Atmore as part of the Kmart location on Lindberg Avenue that closed in 2003.

Bob Mazziotti, vice president of franchise development for Little Caesars, said the decision to open an Atmore store has been made and the company is working to settle on a location that he hopes will be open by September 2014.


Gun leads

to lockdown

A stolen .22-caliber gun prompted the lockdown of both a high school and a day care Wednesday, Sept. 18, in Flomaton.

School officials quickly secured the campus of Flomaton High School at approximately 9 a.m. as law enforcement officials from all over the county swarmed to the area, after a man allegedly stole a gun from the vehicle of Buckshots Tire Center owner Chris Walther. A nearby day care at First Baptist Church was also on lockdown during the incident.




JDCC’s Bain

placed on leave

Jefferson Davis Community College president Dr. Dan Bain was apparently escorted from the Brewton campus and placed on administrative leave Tuesday, Oct. 1, according to officials.

David O’Brien, counsel for the Alabama Community College System, confirmed that JDCC has an acting president, Camille Cochrane, but could give no other information about the transition.


Floyd guilty

of murder

Cedric Floyd, of Atmore, was convicted of murder Monday, Oct. 7, in connection with the fatal shooting of Tina Jones. The conviction came following the longest criminal trial in Escambia County history.

The jury recommended that Floyd face the death sentence. An Escambia County judge will announce Floyd’s sentence during a hearing later this month.




Wind Creek opens entertainment center

Wind Creek Casino and Hotel opened its long-awaited entertainment center Thursday, Nov. 1, with a ribbon cutting.

The expansion that offers an eight-screen movie theater, a total of 20 lanes of bowling, a 45-game arcade, a sports bar and a coffee and self-serve frozen yogurt bar, was built with the community in mind, said PCI Property Manager Arthur Mothershed.


Strand closes doors after 84 years

A downtown landmark now sits empty for the first time in 84 years, as Atmore’s Strand Theater closed its doors in early November.

Sheryl Vickery, executive director of the Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce, said the Strand had been the longest continually operating theater in the entire state of Alabama.


Taco Bell


It’s official — Taco Bell is coming to Atmore.

Atmore Mayor Jim Staff and the members of the Atmore City Council unanimously approved the sale of a parcel of land in the Rivercane subdivision, to Tacala, LLC, the Vestavia Hills-based parent company of 164 Taco Bell franchises in the Southeast. The land is located on State Route 21, about 4.5 miles north of Atmore and near Exit 57 of Interstate 65, on land where the brick Rivercane sign previously sat.






Walmart buys

property from city

The “sold” sign on a plot of land facing North Main Street makes it official — Walmart is coming to Atmore.

Atmore Mayor Jim Staff said that DBS Corporation, of Chattanooga, Tenn., would serve as the general contractor for the construction project, which began in early December. Walmart plans to build a 70,000-square-foot facility on the property, which is located between the Oak Hill Cemetery and the Atmore Realty headquarters.


Hotel burns

in major fire

A massive fire engulfed the Southland Motel on U.S. Highway 31 in Atmore on Saturday, Dec. 7, and authorities are unsure what may have caused the large blaze.

The fire began at 3:58 p.m., as flames made their way through many of the structure’s rooms, forcing the hotel’s residents to quickly leave. There were no major injuries, Atmore Fire Chief Gerry McGhee said.


Missing woman found in crashed car

The search for a 42-year-old Atmore woman, who was missing for more than two weeks, finally ended Thursday, Dec. 19.

The body of Marcie Brewton Morgan was found in the Lincoln Town Car she had been driving. The vehicle left the roadway on Perkins Loop Road and landed in a deep ditch, said Escambia County Sheriff Grover Smith. The accident happened less than five miles from Morgan’s home in Canoe.