2012 in review, part 2Published 12:25pm Monday, December 31, 2012
FROM STAFF REPORTS
We continue our look back at Shelby County’s biggest stories and most well-known names from 2012.
COUNTY EMPLOYEES TO GET RAISES
The Shelby County Commission unanimously approved a resolution to give raises to a portion of county employees during its June 25 meeting.
JURY FINDS TILLMAN GUILTY OF MURDER
Former Vincent pastor Timothy Dane Tillman was convicted of the murder of his wife during a retrial June 22. During a 2009 trial, Tillman was originally convicted of murdering his wife, Janet Lorita Tillman, in the parsonage of the Vincent Revival Center on Oct. 26, 2005.
REPORTER WINS GENERAL EXCELLENCE AWARD
For the sixth consecutive year, the Shelby County Reporter was named Alabama’s best weekly newspaper. The Reporter won the Alabama Press Association’s General Excellence Award.
DREAM DOG PARK OPENS IN ALABASTER
A few nationally known celebrities joined local dog owners and their pets at the grand opening of the new $500,000 Beneful Dream Dog Park dog park on July 12. Eric Stonestreet of TV’s “Modern Family,” pet expert Arden Moore and DIY Network star Jason Cameron attended the grand opening.
LOCAL JUDGE STOPS ‘DEBTORS PRISON’ IN HARPERSVILLE
A Shelby County circuit judge called the Harpersville Municipal Court a “debtors prison” in which the court practices “judicially sanctioned extortion racket.” Judge Hub Harrington wrote the order July 11.
HEAVY RAINS FLOOD THS WEIGHT, LOCKER ROOMS
About 6 inches of standing water filled Thompson High School’s weight and locker rooms the night of July 9 after flooding forced open a metal door and rushed into the facility.
GENTRY PLEADS NOT GUILTY
Daniel Scott Gentry entered a plea of not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect to an indictment charging him with capital murder during his arraignment on July 18. Gentry, 24, of Chelsea, is accused of murdering his grandmother, Carrie Elaine Gentry.
ALABASTER BOE MAKES NEXT MOVE
The Alabaster Board of Education voted unanimously during a July 20 meeting to hire outgoing Jefferson County Board of Education Superintendent Dr. Phillip Hammonds to serve as a coordinator of administrative services.
$38K OF HEROIN SEIZED
After conducting a search warrant July 24, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office seized 126.5 grams of heroin in an Inverness apartment and arrested Tishia Bryant and Michael Magail Bonner for heroin trafficking.
DOG-SKINNING CASE SOLVED
An expert determined that a Montevallo dog that was skinned alive was injured by another animal and not a person. Bama, Montevallo resident Delana Dunnaway’s 1-year-old pug, was found on May 25 missing “90 percent” of his skin, Dr. Rhonda Ellison of Calera Animal Hospital said at the time. The dog was euthanized because of its injuries.
AN ER ON U.S. 280 AFTER ALL?
Brookwood Medical Center will get another opportunity to gain approval for a freestanding emergency facility on U.S. 280 after a state appeals court ruling.
WHITE ROCK GIVES $200K TO SCHOOL
Applause erupted from the staff and faculty of Vincent Middle/High School when White Rock Quarries President and CEO Jim Hurley announced the company was committing $200,000 toward VMHS’s athletic fields and a new field house.
ALABASTER POLICE CHIEF RETIRING
Alabaster Police Chief Stanley Oliver retired on Oct. 1 after more than 40 years in law enforcement.
SHERIFF WANTS BIG BUDGET INCREASE
Tempers flared as Sheriff Chris Curry presented his budget requests during the County Commission work session Aug. 27. In his proposed 2012-13 budget, Curry asked for more than $5.5 million more than the previous year’s budget.
MAN CHARGED WITH PELHAM MURDERS
The Pelham Police Department has charged a 20-year-old Pelham man with capital murder after officers said the man allegedly shot and killed three people in a house in the Chandalar subdivision on Sept. 9. Police arrested 20-year-old Jon Ingram Staggs Jr. at about 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 9 and charged him with capital murder and first-degree burglary.
ELVIN HILL PASSES AWAY
Former long-time and beloved Shelby County Schools superintendent, Elvin Hill, 94, died. His son, State Rep. Mike Hill, R-Columbiana, said Elvin Hill died peacefully Sept. 14.
INFANT DIES AFTER ALLEGED ASSAULT
The 3-month-old allegedly assaulted Aug. 25 by Calera resident Tremain Vanteas Gates passed away Sept. 11. While the infant was in his care, Gates allegedly “slammed (the child) into (the) corner of the wall and threw (him) to (the) hard floor of the residence,” according to court records. Gates was arrested Aug. 29 and charged with domestic violence and first-degree assault charges.
COUNTY BUDGET VIRTUALLY UNCHANGED
The County Commission unanimously adopted the 2012-2013 budget during a Sept. 24 commission meeting. The budget had “basically no significant changes” from the previous fiscal budget, according to Shelby County Finance Manager Butch Burbage. The commission anticipates about $88 million in revenue during the next fiscal year, which is about $8 million more than last year.
MOLD FOUND AT MONTEVALLO SCHOOL
Five classrooms at Montevallo Elementary School were temporarily relocated to portable classrooms to allow cleanup efforts to continue due to issues with mold. The relocation was prompted by the results of air quality testing conducted at the school.
PITT PLEADS GUILTY, RECEIVES PROBATION
Youth minister Matt Pitt pleaded guilty to attempting to impersonate a peace officer during a hearing Sept. 26. Pitt, founder of The Basement, originally was charged with impersonating a police officer after Calera Police deputies pulled him His charge was later reduced to a misdemeanor charge of attempting to impersonate a peace officer.
CALERA TEACHER NATIONALLY HONORED
“People” magazine honored five teachers across the nation in its first Teacher of the Year competition, and Calera High School pre-engineering teacher Brian Copes made the cut.
MAN DENIED GUN PERMIT, SUES SHERIFF
An 18-year-old man is suing Shelby County Sheriff Chris Curry after being denied a concealed pistol permit. Henri Beaulieu III applied for a pistol permit and paid the $20 fee with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office May 3. Beaulieu’s lawsuit stated Curry informed Beaulieu he was denied the pistol permit “for no other reason than because Beaulieu was under the age of 19.”
MAYOR UNSEATED AFTER 44 YEARS
For the first time in 44 years, Helena voters chose to make a change in the mayor’s seat, electing Mark Hall, the city’s former police chief, over incumbent Sonny Penhale in the city’s runoff election Oct. 9. Penhale had been Helena’s mayor since 1968. Hall served as the Helena police chief from 2000-2004.
VINCENT OFFICIALLY BECOMES CITY
According to a letter from the U.S. Census Bureau sent Oct. 3, Vincent is officially a city with 2,003 residents and 901 housing units. To become a city, a municipality must have at least 2,000 residents.
WALKUP RESIGNS FROM SOUTH SHELBY CHAMBER JOB
Stacy Walkup, executive director of the South Shelby Chamber of Commerce, resigned to take another opportunity. Walkup left to work for a retirement community.
DEAD CATS FOUND AT UM
Three dead cats were discovered on the University of Montevallo campus, and the animals “did not die of natural causes,” according to Jamie Bessette, UM director of university relations.
NEW MAYOR FACES BREAST CANCER
The morning after Hollie Cost celebrated her victory in Montevallo’s race for mayor, she received a life-changing call from her physician. Cost, a 43-year-old mother of two, was diagnosed with breast cancer Oct. 10.
COUNTY COMMISSIONER BEARDEN DIES
Friends and family members remembered a “great, caring and funny man” after District 5 Shelby County Commissioner Joel Bearden died on Nov. 8. Bearden, 81, of Helena, won re-election to the District 5 commission seat during the Nov. 6 elections, and had been serving on the commission since the early 1990s.
STUDENT ARRESTED IN CASE OF CAT DEATHS
A University of Montevallo student was arrested in the case of cats found dead of unnatural causes on the UM campus. Montevallo resident Christian Todd Slaton, 19, was arrested by UM police and booked into the Shelby County Jail Nov. 6.
SUPREME COURT TO HEAR VOTING RIGHTS CASE
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case of Shelby County v. Holder, in which the county questions the constitutionality of portions of the Voting Rights Act. The county originally filed the suit April 27, 2010. The county’s challenge concerned sections 4(b) and 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which forbid cities and towns in 16 states, including Alabama, from making any changes in voting practices or procedures without approval from the federal government.
MONTEVALLO TO GET NEW POLICE CHIEF
The Montevallo Police Department got new leadership, as former Chief Steve Holt was not reappointed during a Nov. 14 City Council meeting. The Council appointed Sgt. Jeremy Littleton as the interim police chief.
ALDOT PROPOSES U.S. 280 CHANGES
The Alabama Department of Transportation introduced improvements to U.S. Highway 280 during a public involvement meeting Nov. 19 at the Cahaba Grand Conference Center in Birmingham. The proposed changes would affect 26 intersections between Hollywood Boulevard and Hugh Daniel Drive.
CALERA OPENS NEW SCHOOL
Calera’s newest school was teeming with excitement and some mayhem as students and faculty alike attempted to find footing during the first day at Calera Middle School Nov. 26.
WOMAN SENTENCED IN GILLIAM’S DEATH
A 48-year-old Clanton woman on Nov. 19 was sentenced to 14 years in prison for manslaughter involving a vehicular homicide that killed former Montevallo High School and Calera High School coach Richard Gilliam on April 3, 2010. Lona Mitchell was sentenced by Judge Sibley Reynolds for the death of Gilliam, 71, of Clanton.
PLANS FOR U.S. 280 HOSPITAL BACK ON
U.S. 280 moved another step closer to getting a hospital after the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals Nov. 30 overturned a lower court ruling that blocked Trinity Medical Center from moving to the now-vacant former HealthSouth building. However, Brookwood and St. Vincent’s later announced plans to appeal the Court of Civil Appeals ruling.
ELWYN BEARDEN APPOINTED TO COMMISSION VACANCY
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley appointed Helena resident David Elwyn Bearden, nephew of to fill the Shelby County Commission District 5 vacancy left by the Nov. 8 death of Commissioner Joel Bearden. Elwyn Bearden is Joel Bearden’s nephew, and was appointed by Bentley to a commission term ending in 2016.
SCHOOLS INCREASE SECURITY
The Shelby County School System increased security measures at all local schools in the wake of a fatal Dec. 14 shooting at a Connecticut elementary school.
DEATH PENALTY SOUGHT FOR GATES
The District Attorney’s Office will seek the death penalty for Tremaine Gates, a Calera resident charged with the murder of a 3-month-old boy.