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Homecoming Queen Calen Patterson with father Richie

2017 - The Year in News

By Michael Butler

Reflecting back on the previous 365, here are some of the moments that made headlines.

The annual Greater Tallassee Area Chamber of Commerce awards banquet kicked off the new year recognizing Business of the Year winners Javier and Rachel Barragan of Cozumel Restaurant, Francis Wagnon Volunteer of the Year recipient Laurie Rygiel and President’s Award winner Lee Greer.

New mayor and program speaker Johnny Hammock addressed the audience of approximately 200 with his platform for the next four years with a common theme.

“Let’s work together. I need all the help I can get. Get behind me and Chief Higgins,” said Hammock of newly appointed police chief Matthew Higgins.

“Years ago with Montgomery I thought how cool it would be to retire and work here," Higgins said. "This is home to me. I've coached little league sports and chaperoned choir trips. This is my community.”

City councilman Bill Godwin spoke about the city’s financial status.

Our budget is about $8.7 million," said Godwin. "We have about 85 funding sources in our budget and about 225 expenditure line items. The major four funding sources are gas, water, sewer and sales tax.

"There's nothing magical that's going to happen as far as new dollars. Some people don't expect snow, but when you walk out it snowed last night - that dollars are going to fall like manna from heaven. It just doesn't happen that way."

In 2017, the council had a slight hike in water rates and raised the petroleum gas tax from two cents to four cents per gallon at local pumps.

"Montgomery is at four cents. Prattville's at four cents. Millbrook's at four cents. Shorter's at five cents," Hammock added. "We have potholes, sidewalk repairs, drainage problems. We're $14 million in debt. I looked back with city clerk Barbara Garnett at past years. This time in 2010, the city was bouncing checks to banks in town. Here we are, seven years later, we're up $236,000. My job is to learn the most I can as quickly as I can and be a good steward of the money."

The Tallassee High School Alumni Association inducted its third class of the Tallassee High School Hall of Pride. Five inductees were honored: John L. Allbrittin, Class of 1981;  Samuel Oscar Dunn, Class of 1938;  Ernest Clayton Sonny Hornsby, Class of 1955; Jessee Willard (Bill) Pienezza, Class of 1934; and Marion Woodall Powell, Class of 1974.


During the spring, on the one-year anniversary of the mill fire, cleanup work began on the ruins along the Tallapoosa River.

Mayor Hammock was given an estimated time of 18 months by owners Tommy and Thomas Hudson.

"It could be two years," said Hammock. "People don't understand how big projects like this don't move at the speed of light. You've got to have patience. We're moving in the right direction."

Tallassee lost a former city councilman and service man, Truett Grant. He was 93.

Grant served in World War II and took a role in public service with the city council after retiring from the insurance business.

Charles "CC" Blalock shared a role with Grant on the council for two decades. Like Grant, Blalock had a street named for him.

"That means a lot to me," Blalock stated. "I'm pretty sure when they named that street after Truett it meant a lot to him."

Another local legend passed in 2017. Carl Wayne Mullins was just 59.

Known for his tenure as an employee with Tallassee City Schools, his time on WTLS radio and handing out bulletins at First Baptist Church on Sundays, Mullins was known as "Tallassee's Favorite Son." The city council passed a resolution to name a green space in East Tallassee after Mullins.

Tallassee had more tragedy in 2017 again on the Tallapoosa River. There were two fatalities. One was an infant of a family from the Phenix City area. 31-year-old Charles Edward Stewart died in a kayaking accident.

The city enacted an ordinance requiring those on the river to wear a personal flotation device.

Tallassee City Schools had several administrative changes. Tallassee Elementary School principal Jose Reyes Jr. took the superintendent's position at Scottsboro City Schools. Shanikka Beacher was promoted to principal at TES. Southside Middle School prinicipal Bruce Dean assumed the Beacher's duties as assistant principal. Micah Cook was hired as the new SMS principal.

"Hopefully this is a win-win situation for everybody," Tallassee City Schools superintendent Wade Shipman said. "We're moving forward with new leadership. Personnel decisions can make or break a school system. Having good people do a good job is priceless. You can't put enough money or emphasis on it."

Cook (center) with SMS Assistant Principal Kevin O'Rear and Instructional Coach/Tag Instructor Brittany Spencer

Tallassee High School welcomed back the Class of 1998, crowning Calen Patterson homecoming queen and trouncing Dadeville on the gridiron 54-13.

Longtime Tallassee business Super Foods celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Breaking ground for the new supermarket in 1967

"Our family is extremely grateful for the support and love we have felt since moving to Tallassee in 1967," David Lawrence said. "When “Papaw” first visited Tallassee, he fell in love with the town. My family made their home here and my dad has always said he considers the people we serve to be the salt of the earth. Having grown up here I certainly agree."

One of Tallasseee's hot spots, McDonald's, went on a temporary hiatus for renovations.

"We need it," local manager Akiva "Kee Kee" Long said of the overhaul. The restaurant has been in continuous operation on Gilmer Avenue since 1990.

The City of Tallassee sold two properties; Seven Gables and the Patterson Building.

Noah Griggs, who owns 1220 Café in Tallassee, is the buyer of Seven Gables. He and his wife Pam will reside at Seven Gables.

"It is a beautiful property," Griggs said. "There is a tremendous amount of work that is needed. This is not a real estate investment we've made. It's an investment in Tallassee."

Hosting events such as weddings and receptions are expected to continue at the home on Gilmer Avenue.

"With that, we hope that more people will experience Tallassee, and that will benefit everyone," Griggs added.

Haley and Dylan Daniel purchased the Patterson Building on Ann Avenue.

"Haley and I have a lot of vision for Tallassee and bringing life back into the city," Dylan said. "One good way of that happening is putting lights on in these abandoned buildings, one business at a time. We're going to have a coffee shop, fitness studio and I do car restoration work. That's going to be in there as well, maybe some office space available in the future."

The Tallassee Chamber of Commerce and executive director Michone Roye parted ways prompting the search for a replacement.

The Tallassee High School Music Department wowed audiences with "The Music Man" in the high school auditorium. The Mount Vernon Theatre held auditions for its upcoming play, "Dear Mama: Letters and Music from Woorl War II," which will serve as the grand re-opening for the historic facility in the new year.

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