The year in review: What were county’s biggest stories in 2018?

Published 2:29 pm Monday, December 31, 2018



Today, we will take a look at Shelby County’s biggest news stories from the past year.




Students starting semester in current THS

Thompson High School students will return to the current THS campus to begin the second semester of the 2017-2018 school year, and will move to the new THS building after Alabaster City Schools receives the go-ahead from the state building inspector, ACS leaders announce during the Christmas break.


Residents flock to rec center opening

Dozens of Pelham residents show up for the ribbon cutting for the Pelham Recreation Center on Friday, Jan. 5. Residents have a chance to tour the facility after the ribbon cutting. The Pelham City Council, school board members and other city leaders show up to celebrate the opening of the center. The construction of Pelham’s two-story recreation center, which cost roughly $6 million, began Jan. 25, 2017.


Montevallo MLK march celebrates progress

The Montevallo Martin Luther King Jr. Day Unity March commences around 9:45 a.m. with an opening prayer led by coordinator and master of ceremonies the Rev. Kenneth Dukes of Holly Grove Baptist Church in Montevallo.


Snowstorm hits Shelby County, closes schools

Shelby County offices, school systems, local businesses and roads close in response to a snowstorm that hit the area on Tuesday, Jan. 16. During the snowstorm, up to two inches of snow accumulated on the ground in Shelby County. This is the second time within the past two months that it has snowed.


Alabaster man killed trying to cross interstate

Troopers from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency respond to reports of a fatal accident near the northbound lane of Interstate 65 in Alabaster on the morning of Monday, Jan. 29. According to the ALEA, the body of a pedestrian was discovered between I-65 northbound and exit 238 shortly after daybreak.




Community mourns loss of ‘servant leader’

Allen Fulton was known for many things in the community, and touched thousands of lives between his birth on Aug. 22, 1943, and his death after a yearlong battle with brain cancer on Jan. 31.


Chelsea woman found after massive search

Pelham Police Chief Larry Palmer gives a detailed account of events surrounding the search and rescue of Chelsea resident Lisa Holman during a news conference at the Pelham police station on Monday, Feb. 12, at 3 p.m.


Restaurant, motel destroyed in Calera fire

A Calera restaurant that was scheduled to open Friday, Feb. 16, and most of a hotel are destroyed in a Wednesday night fire that took Calera firefighters all night to extinguish.


Man charged with meth lab at Walmart

A 43-year-old Sylacauga is charged with bringing a rolling meth lab into the Alabaster Walmart parking lot on Feb. 23 and causing a multi-agency response to clear and decontaminate the scene.




VHS honors 50th anniversary of integration

The first integrated class at Vincent High School 50 years ago is recognized at a Black History Month assembly on Tuesday, Feb. 27, and a member of that class urged current students to strive for unity and love.


The Harlem Wizards dazzle Pelham High crowd

The Harlem Wizards perform for an excited crowd in the Pelham High School gymnasium on Friday night, March 9, as they took on the Pelham Dream Team in a fun-filled game.


Pelham woman killed in UAB shooting

A Pelham resident, 63-year-old Nancy Turnage Swift, is identified as one of the victims in a workplace shooting that took place at UAB Highlands on Wednesday, March 14.


Helena Hollow hosts inaugural Bunny Hop

Spring officially sprung the weekend of March 24 at Helena Hollow, formerly known as Griffin Farms. Thousands attend the farm for the inaugural Bunny Hop at Helena Hollow Egg Hunt and Spring Celebration as there is something fun for the whole family.




THS teacher named as LifeChanger finalist

Thompson High School pre-engineering teacher Brian Copes is recognized as one of the top five contenders for the LifeChanger of the Year award during a surprise announcement on Tuesday, April 3.


Day Out with Thomas draws thousands of visitors

Families travel from near and far to enjoy A Day Out with Thomas at the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum from Friday through Sunday, April 13-15.


CVA earns school safety award for third straight year

Coosa Valley Academy on Wednesday, April 18, is presented with the Attorney General’s Safe School Initiative Award of Excellence for the third consecutive year.




One killed in Helena vehicle-bus collision

A two-vehicle accident involving a passenger vehicle and a Shelby County school bus results in one fatality and the closure Alabama 261 Starkey Street morning of Friday, April 27, in Helena.


Columbiana library opens new space

Staff at the Columbiana Public Library celebrate the recent expansion of the library during a ribbon cutting ceremony on the evening of Thursday, April 26. The Columbiana Pubic Library recently incorporates 3,600 square feet of space donated by the Mildred B. Harrison Regional Library, which shares a building.


Buck Creek Festival sets records following 17th year

The weather couldn’t get much better the weekend of May 11, as thousands make their way to Helena for the 17th annual Buck Creek Festival in what is estimated to be the most successful festival to date.


Missing African Serval cat found and returned

The missing African Serval cat that was reported missing on April 24 has been found and returned to its owner, according to the Pelham Police Department.


Thousands graduate from local high schools

Students in Shelby County’s public and private schools take a major step in their lives as they earn their diplomas and prepare to move on to college, careers or the military.




SCAC celebrates Arts Center groundbreaking

Members of the Shelby County Arts Council celebrate one of the first steps to achieving a long-time goal during the groundbreaking ceremony of the Shelby County Arts Center on the morning of Thursday, May 31.


CityFest sees success, large crowds at new Thompson High School venue

CityFest is held throughout the day on Saturday, June 2, at the new Thompson High School campus at 1921 Warrior Parkway. This year marked the first venue change for the festival in its 15-year history, as CityFest traditionally was held in the city’s Municipal Park.


Brooks wins tightly contested race for superintendent

Lewis Brooks wins a tight election over Kristi Sayers on Tuesday, June 5, to become the next superintendent of Shelby County Schools. Brooks received 12,626 votes, or 50.7 percent, to Sayers’ 12,259 votes, or 49.3 percent in the Republican Primary Election.


Chelsea moving to purchase sewer system

The city of Chelsea announces its intent to purchase the sewer system that currently serves the city at a regularly scheduled council meeting on Tuesday, June 19.




Storms cause widespread power outages

High-speed wind gusts down hundreds of trees throughout Shelby County on the afternoon of June 28, causing widespread power outages throughout the county and much of Alabama, and causing Alabama Power crews to work throughout the night in an effort to restore electricity.


Man drowns in OMSP lake on Fourth of July

Shelby County Coroner Lina Evans identifies the man who drowned in the lake at Oak Mountain State Park, on Wednesday, July 4, as 23-year-old Guatemala native Nicolas Juarez.


Hoover passes tax increase ordinances

The Hoover City Council votes on several ordinances to raise taxes during a special called meeting on the evening of Tuesday, July 10.


Makalyn Heaslett crowned Miss Shelby County

Makalyn Heaslett is crowned Miss Shelby County at the 31st annual Miss Shelby County Pageant held at the Shelby County High School auditorium on July 20 sponsored by the Vignette Club, a member of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs. Deseray Stone was also crowned Miss Shelby County Teen. The pageant is preliminary to the Miss Alabama/Miss America Scholarship Pageants.




Judge Fuhrmeister says goodbye

A host of county and state leaders gather at the Shelby County Courthouse on Friday, July 20, to bid farewell to Shelby County Probate Judge Jim Fuhrmeister who is set to retire at the end of his term in January 2019.


Child killed after train collides with vehicle

A 4-year-old child is killed and the child’s mother is airlifted to UAB Hospital after their vehicle was struck by a train at a crossing on Fulton Springs Road, according to the Alabaster Fire Department.


Students shake first day jitters across county

More than 21,000 students in seven different communities throughout the county returned to the classroom on Tuesday, Aug. 7, marking the first day of class for Shelby County Schools.


City of Harpersville names new fire chief

Harpersville’s new fire chief is a familiar face around town. Heath Confer is recognized as the new chief at the meeting of the Harpersville Town Council on Monday, Aug. 6, when former chief Wade White was also honored.


City halts 119 home construction for a year

Alabaster leaders place a hold on new residential development along the Alabama 119 corridor for the next year to allow the city to develop a plan to handle the heavy traffic in the area, as the City Council voted to approve a temporary moratorium during an Aug. 27 meeting.




Court upholds life sentence for teen

The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals upholds the murder conviction for Eric Matthew Blackerby, a Shelby County teen who was found guilty last year of killing a victim with a baseball bat during a 2015 fight.


SPHS majorette creates illuminated batons

Spain Park High School majorette captain Lauryn Kortman was denied her dream of fire baton twirling, but she instead used the opportunity to create a solution to the problem. Fire batons are not possible on artificial turf fields such as the one at Jaguar Stadium because of potential damage to the expensive surface, so Kortman engineered a baton illuminated by multicolored and programmable LED lights.


Jury finds former Chelsea coach guilty

A jury on Friday, Sept. 14, finds former Chelsea High School coach Donald Teague guilty of sexual contact with a student in 2014.


Chelsea set to add athletic fields, splash pad and fire station

The Chelsea City Council passes a $9.2 million operating budget along with a $12.8 million capital projects budget at its meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 18.




Student charged with making threats at CHS

The Calera Police Department arrests a 15-year-old juvenile in connection to terroristic threats that recently circulated on social media.


Police: No animal cruelty at state fair

Pelham Police Chief Larry Palmer said an unfortunate accident, not animal cruelty was the cause of death for a petting zoo goat at the Alabama State Fair, that was set up in the parking lot of Oak Mountain Amphitheatre.


New retail, apartments and hotel planned

A developer is looking to bring a new development featuring retail space, a hotel and an apartment complex to the area adjacent to Alabaster’s South Promenade shopping center, according to plans presented to the city.


Chubbfather’s crew feeds storm victims

After Hurricane Michael, a strong category 4 system, barrels through the panhandle on Oct. 10, causing widespread wind damage and leaving thousands without water or electricity, Chubbfathers owner Will Cholewinski immediately begins looking for a way to help out.




Randy Fuller celebrates retirement after 42 years

A framed basketball jersey with the word “FULLER” in all caps and No. 42 across the chest is proudly displayed in the gym of the newly renovated Shelby County Instructional Services Center the evening of Wednesday, Nov. 1, as administrators, family and friends gathered to celebrate the retirement of Shelby County Schools Superintendent Randy Fuller.


Local venues celebrate, remember veterans’ service

The American Village in Montevallo hosts a Veterans Day “Poppy Service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving” Sunday, Nov. 11, that includes a religious service and a wreath-laying at the village’s National Veterans Shrine. The event came a few days after volunteers spent several hours placing American flags on every grave at the nearby Alabama National Cemetery to honor the sacrifice each veteran made.


Sheriff’s Office honors outgoing chief deputy

A standing-room-only crowd at the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office Training Center on Nov. 15 serves as a testament to the impact Chief Deputy Chris George has had on the county during his more than 21 years with the agency.


Alabaster approves curbside pickup changes

Beginning in April 2019, the Alabaster Public Works Department will begin collecting curbside heavy trash twice a year, rather than every week as they currently do, as the Alabaster City Council votes unanimously during a Nov. 19 meeting to make the changes. Council members say they are considering alternative methods of helping residents dispose of heavy trash weekly once the changes take place.




Mike Jones resigns as Helena City Council president

After missing the last several Helena City Council meetings citing personal and work-related reasons, Helena City Council President Mike Jones has announced his resignation effective immediately.


OMMS donates 2,000-plus toys to kids in need

Oak Mountain Middle School collects more than $23,000 for Toys for Tots, allowing for the purchase of more than 2,000 toys for those in need this Christmas. The results of the school’s annual Toys for Tots effort is announced during a special assembly on Wednesday, Dec. 5.


Alabaster boil water notice lifted, water safe again

The Alabaster Water Board lifts the boil water notice for portions of the city after testing reveals the water is again safe for drinking and cooking.


AWC welcomes bald eagle named Shelby

A 2-year-old bald eagle, lovingly named Shelby, commands the attention of the crowd as she takes her first pubic flight in her new home, called a mew, at the Alabama Wildlife Center in Oak Mountain State Park on Saturday, Dec. 15.