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Usually a hot spot, the Dixie Youth Baseball fields became vacant in the spring

2020 - Year in News

By Michael Butler

The year 2020 turned in a different direction when the term coronavirus interrupted our normal way of living.

More than 50 articles on Tallassee Times were posted in the calendar year since COVID-19 became news. It has affected all of us in some way. But on a brighter note, maybe the end is in our sights. The vaccine is now being administered as the year is coming to a close.

There were several good news items in 2020. Below are some of the highlights of the year. Click on the links for the full stories or visit our Archives page for more articles from the year of the pandemic.

Chamber of Commerce director Jerry Cunningham (far right) with award winners (from left): Brad Davis, Brooke Rigsby, Lamar Godwin.

In January, Reeltown High School student Isaiah Taylor took the oath of office to become a law enforcement officer, a lifelong dream.

Also from Reeltown came another honor. Highway 120 that runs alongside the school was named the Duane Webster Highway for the legendary football coach. Speaking of football, the Reeltown vs. Tallassee football rivalry returned in 2020. More on that and the documentary that was produced by Tallassee native Myron Williams in the Year in Sports.

(Left to right): Taylor receiving an honorary badge from Tallapoosa County Sheriff Jimmy Abbett, Coach Duane Webster with his wife Vera and daughter Venita, Bill Goss and Tallassee mayor Johnny Hammock.

The school year was put on hiatus as well as all extracurricular activities in the spring. There were mandatory shutdowns across the board with only essential workers permitted to venture out during a statewide "Stay at Home" order.

Many businesses were forced to close. Tallassee mayor Johnny Hammock and police chief Matthew Higgins addressed the citizens with the advent of the coronavirus.

The Joneses. Eric and Travis

Tallassee Fire Department Chief Travis Jones stepped down from his position. His younger brother Eric Jones stepped up to assume the role.

There were more honors for locals. The Tallassee Chamber of Commerce had its annual awards banquet, pre-COVID. Lamar Godwin was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award. Brad Davis was the recipient ofthe Francis Wagnon Award. Brooke Rigsby's Studio B Dance Center was named Business of the Year.

The Tallassee High School Alumni Association's annual Hall of Pride honorees were also recognized. Jerry Cunningham, the late Jackie Davis and Billy McKenzie were the inductees. Coach Carl Stewart was the Service Award winner. A previous Hall of Pride inductee, Bill Goss, celebrated his 90th birthday and was presented a key to the city for his contributions as historian.

The City of Tallassee obtained ownership of the east side mill property.

There were changes in the Tallassee School System. Superintendent Wade Shipman retired. Dr. Brock Nolin assumed his position. At Tallassee High School and Southside Middle School there was also a changing of the guard. THS principal Matt Coker retired. He was replaced by assistant principal Chet Stewart. SMS principal Micah Cook also departed with Tim Collier taking over. The school year returned in August with a virtual/classroom mix.

Work on a new high school began also in late 2020. The date of completion is slated for August of 2022.

A new high school is coming. Despite COVID hurdles in 2020, groundbreaking occured in December.

Tallassee student Carly Hornsby was named Elmore County Junior Miss. And, THS homecoming happened in 2020 - just a little later than planned. Emma Kate Holley was crowned queen.

Crowning Moment - Emma Kate Holley and her father John with the announcement of THS homecoming queen

The award for heroism goes to Tasha Moyers. The ER nurse spent 13 weeks in New Jersey during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Longtime First Baptist Church pastor Derek Gentle retired from the Tallassee church. He spent 24 years there. After 28 years as a teacher at Southside Middle School, Mahua Ghosh retired.

2020 was not only a presidential election year but also a municipal election year deciding positions for the Tallassee school board, city council and mayor. Mayor Johnny Hammock won a second term.

At the forefront of conversation in 2020, after the coronavirus, was talk of a new mega prison just outside of Tallassee. Gov. Kay Ivey announced that a facility to house up to 3,900 inmates would be located on Rifle Range Road.