Our favorite stories of 2014

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 31, 2014


Year brought strong community pride

The year 2014 will be remembered as one of great community pride in Andalusia.

Andalusia went all-out in hosting the traveling Smithsonian exhibit, “The Way We Worked,” in January.

The exhibit opened to much fanfare on Jan. 4, and the month included many exhibits, collections of local history, and storytelling. Residents from a number of states signed the visitors’ book for the exhibit at the Chamber of Commerce, and volunteers served as hosts there each day.

One of the most well-attended events was a front-porch visiting style performance in which seven long-time Andalusians told stories about the ways they have worked. They included Bob Brooks, Danny Posey, Roger Powell, Tom Savage, Ab Powell, Rosalyn Tiller and Gail Grissett.


Ice, ice, baby!

It probably wasn’t our favorite story of the year, but it’s one no one in these parts will soon forget.

Winter Storm Leon didn’t stop the world in January of 2014, but for a while, it felt as if it did. Walmart closed at 5 p.m. on Jan. 28; on Jan. 29, The Post Office, Shaw, Vector Aerospace, and SaeHaeSung didn’t open. The roads were so frozen, it was virtually impossible to get people to and from work.

Some commerce resumed by Thurs., Jan. 30, but travel was still sketchy, and it was Friday before things really began to return to normal. By Saturday morning, the weather was practically balmy for the annual Cancer Freeze in Florala, which raised $51,000 to benefit nine cancer patients and their families. There 423 people in the 5K event alone.


Breakfast, anyone?

In April, Andalusia City Schools launched a universal breakfast program for students in grades kindergarten through fifth grade, with breakfast being delivered to their classrooms each mornings at no charge to them.

The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and is designed to address hunger needs. National studies show providing breakfast has proven to help the overall academic lives of students.


Now that’s a lot of beef

Local business owner Woody Clark became the first Covington County resident to be elected president of the Alabama Cattleman’s Association last spring, and has spent a good part of the year traveling to promote the cattle industry.

In Alabama, beef accounted for $526 million in the state economy in 2013, and it created 10,000 jobs.


Help for littlest victims

DHR director Lesa Syler announced in an outdoor ceremony in April at Andalusia Regional Hospital that Covington County will soon have its own child advocacy center.

The center will be a partnership between ARH, DHR, the district attorney’s office, and law enforcement agencies throughout the county. The center centralizes services for child victims of sexual abuse or violence.


Welcome, bikers

Also in April, Andalusia hosted the Alabama Tandem Weekend, welcoming cycling enthusiasts from across the country. The group liked the area so much, the event is scheduled here again in 2015.


Hammett in governor’s office

Gov. Robert Bentley in May announced the appointment of Andalusia’s Seth Hammett to serve in the Bentley Administration as interim chief of staff.

“Seth and I have worked together for many years, dating back to my time in the Alabama Legislature. He is a proven leader with a strong record of public service. He served as my Interim ADO Director, and I look forward to Seth joining my team again to continue our mission of job creation for the people of Alabama,” Gov. Bentley said.



In June, Andalusia’s Holiday Inn Express celebrated its fifth anniversary with some pretty high accolades.

The facility ranked No. 24 in the country among all locations of Holiday Inn Express for guest satisfaction. The ranking is based on guest surveys and inspections.


Hall of Fame

The Andalusia High School Quarterback Club and Hall of Fame Committee honored four former players and a championship football team in its fifth annual induction ceremony in August. Inductees included Ricky Vinson, Fred Locklier, Don Ganus, Joe Cope, and the 1976 Bulldog football team (13-0-1) which won the Class 3A state championship.


State winners

Two Covington County were among the winners in the 2014 Alabama Retailer of the Year awards in September. Darby’s Village Pharmacy earned the Bronze Retailer of the Year Award in the annual $5-$20 million sales category. J.R.’s Lawnmower Shop in Opp earned the Silver Retailer of the Year Award in the annual $1-$5 million sales category.


A Bulldog again

After weeks of waiting for an announcement, the Andalusia Board of Education named local native and former Bulldog Trent Taylor as the new head football coach for Andalusia High School.



The city ended the year in the same way it began it – with lots of volunteers working together to promote local pride and bring people to town. Andalusia’s town square became a winter wonderland in December as part of the city’s “Candyland” Christmas theme. Throughout the month, there were snow flurries and squeals of delight from adults and children alike when Candyland was open.