Part of Hwy 21 to be named after corrections officer

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, March 29, 2017

When area motorists drive down U.S. Highway 21, they’ll soon see a familiar name.

A bill, House Joint Resolution 12, will designate a portion of U.S. Highway 21 as the Correctional Officer Kenneth Bettis Memorial Highway. A ceremonial signing of the bill will be held Wed., April 12, at 11:30 a.m. in the Old House Chambers at the state capitol.

Rep. Alan Baker said the origin of him sponsoring the bill came about because Bettis inspired several William C. Holman Correctional Facility colleagues.

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“Naming a portion of Highway 21 that is adjacent to the Holman Prison property as the ‘Officer Kenneth Bettis Memorial Highway’ was thought to be a very fitting tribute to honor the life, work and memory of Officer Bettis,” Baker said. “Shortly after the death of Officer Bettis this past fall, I was contacted by work colleagues of Officer Bettis from Holman Prison who shared this most worthy tribute plan and reached out to me to begin the process, which would require a House Joint Resolution, commonly known as a HJR.”

The portion of the highway that will be named after Bettis is from the intersection of Interstate 65 to the intersection of Highway 21 and Smithfield Rd.

Bettis, 44, died on Sept. 16, 2016, after being assaulted by an inmate 15 days prior at William C. Holman Correctional Facility, just outside of Atmore.

Bettis served as a corrections officer at Holman since 2009. He was a military veteran and had served on active duty in Iraq with the Alabama Army National Guard. Bettis’ military awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal and Southwest Asia Service Medal with Bronze Service Star.

Baker said Sen. Greg Albritton and Rep. Mike Jones were also instrument in providing support and sponsorship for the resolution.

“As Officer Bettis made the ultimate sacrifice while performing his normal work duties, I grieve with and for the family, colleagues and close friends,” he said. “The enduring memory of service and sacrifice of Officer Kenneth Bettis will live on through the naming of the Memorial Highway to honor his life.”