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Huntingdon College Announces New President

Huntingdon Board of Trustees Chairman Leura Garrett Canary ’78 announced to the College community today a transition of presidential leadership to take place this summer. This morning, the Huntingdon Board of Trustees unanimously elected Dr. Anthony Leigh to serve as the 15th President of Huntingdon College beginning July 1, 2024. Dr. Leigh currently serves as Huntingdon’s Senior Vice President for Student and Institutional Development and Dean of Students. Effective July 1, 2024, Huntingdon President J. Cameron West will assume the role of President Emeritus and Senior Advisor for United Methodist Polity.

In making the announcement of the appointment of Dr. Leigh to serve as President, Canary stated, “Dr. Anthony Leigh has demonstrated an unmatched passion and enthusiasm for serving Huntingdon students. He is a gifted administrator, and he clearly understands the internal operations of the College and effectively communicates the mission of the College to external constituencies. He is deeply respected and admired by students, faculty, staff, alumni, trustees, and across his vast network of contacts. For 15 years, he has been an integral part of the success of President West’s leadership, and we are confident that he is the leader Huntingdon needs to propel the College to its next chapter of excellence and to champion the Heart of Huntingdon campaign.”

“I am humbled and honored by the opportunity to serve as the 15th President of Huntingdon College,” stated Dr. Leigh. “I’ve had a front row seat to the transformational experience a Huntingdon education offers our students. Huntingdon changes lives. Thanks to our outstanding faculty and staff, Huntingdon graduates are prepared to be difference makers in the communities and in the career fields in which they serve. Some of the finest people I know are Huntingdon alumni, and the world is a better place because of the lives of service of Huntingdon women and men. The College enjoys a respected reputation across Alabama and beyond, and I look forward to celebrating and advancing the greatness of the Huntingdon experience around the region. Serving Huntingdon students fuels me, and I’m excited about working with our dedicated faculty and staff in this new role and leveraging the resources of our alumni and friends for the benefit of our exceptional student body.

“Today is a great day at Huntingdon College,” West commented. “The Board of Trustees has named a superbly gifted higher education leader to serve as the College’s 15th President. Dr. Anthony Leigh knows and loves Huntingdon College, has been a trusted colleague to me in crafting and operationalizing the College’s mission, and is a wise counselor in all matters internal and external in the life of this thriving institution of teaching and learning. Huntingdon College is enjoying a bright present and will enjoy a bright future with him at the presidential helm.

President Emeritus and Mrs. West will continue to reside in The Delchamps Residence on the Huntingdon campus until his employment with the College concludes on June 30, 2025.

174-year-old historic church burns in Coosa County

Jim ‘Zig’ Zeigler writes about Alabama people, places, events, groups and prominent deaths. He is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. You can reach him for comments at [email protected].

Fire destroyed a 174-year-old church building in rural Coosa County Monday morning.

The historic Blue Springs Baptist Church, located on Coosa County Road 99 and built around 1850, burned to the ground, leaving nothing but the ash of over a century and a half of memories.

Monday morning, around 3 a.m., a call came in that the church building was fully involved.

Lay Lake Fire, Fayetteville Fire, Stewartville Fire and Marble Valley Volunteer Fire Department all responded, but it was much too late.

The church is in a rural part of central Alabama, near Marble Valley, Fayetteville, Sylacauga, Stewartville and the Pursell Farms Farmlinks golf facility.

Over its 174-year history, the church played a vital role in many lives. Dozens had come to know Christ. Dozens of baptisms have been performed. Dozens of weddings. Dozens of funeral services.

Now, there are no regular church services in the building, but special occasions are still held there, mostly by families who have been part of the church family since 1850.

No plans have been announced for restoring the church building. Since nothing is left to restore, it could only involve a brand-new building.

Photos of the church from YouTube: Blue Springs Baptist Church – Coosa County Alabama 1800’s #old #church #baptist #1800 #shorts (

Monday’s fire is the third time the church has been damaged since 2012. It was vandalized in 2012 and suffered a heavier vandalism attack in 2019.

The Alabama State Fire Marshall’s office asks that visits to the site be limited as their investigation is ongoing.

See the original story HERE

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‘Signing Day’ for high school students who earned jobs: Academy of Craft Training

See the original story HERE

Signing Day in Alabama is a big day in the media and for student-athletes and their families. It’s the day that announcements are made about high school seniors receiving scholarships to play at the next level. But that doesn’t automatically mean college.

Now, a Signing Day has started for seniors who have completed craft training and are being awarded real-world jobs.

Alabama high school students who have worked, qualified and earned job offers were announced on May 7.  A ceremony at Mobile’s Brookley Field included those students, their teachers, their new employers and education officials.

The program is named Academy of Craft Training.

When I was in high school, there was a popular class called “Shop.” Students learned useful skills, mostly for personal use in the home shop.

Now, the 2024 version of “shop” is unrecognizable to a former student of the old shop class.

The Academy of Craft Training prepares students for jobs in Alabama’s booming construction industry – quite a difference from my old shop class.

Trades now included in the craft academy are electrical, HVAC, interior and exterior finishes, welding, and plumbing and pipefitting. Other crafts will be added.

There is a running scoreboard on the academy website. Today, it read:

School participation, 75.

Students accepted annually, 750.

Internships to date, 450.

Total Man Hours, 100,000.

Those totals keep rising.

The Academy of Craft Training is an education/industry partnership between the commercial construction industry and the State of Alabama’s Kindergarten through 12th-grade Career and Technical Education System. Its mission is to recruit, educate, and guide high school students for employment opportunities in the construction industry. The goal is to help these students get the education and skills they need to be skilled workers in the industry.

Students have the opportunity to learn directly from construction industry professionals in a workplace-style environment, work as interns with local construction companies, and receive job offers upon graduation – the newly added ‘Signing Day.’  

The Academy of Craft Training expanded from its original Birmingham headquarters to now include a North Alabama campus in Decatur and a South Alabama campus in Mobile. Other locations may follow.

The academy recruits students from more than 75 Alabama school systems, with team members visiting campuses each autumn. During these visits, 10th and 11th graders can learn about ACT’s career-building opportunities. They may apply with a short essay.

Once interviews are complete, around 750 students are selected to participate each year.

On May 7, high school seniors who had completed the program were awarded job offers from employers in their respective industries.

The Academy of Craft Training gives new meaning to “on-the-job training.”

Jim ‘Zig’ Zeigler writes about Alabama’s people, places, events, groups and prominent deaths.  He is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. You can reach him for comments at [email protected].

Don’t miss out! Subscribe to the1819News newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.

Scenes from Weekend Events 5/3&4

Luxe Glamour Bar Ribbon-Cutting

Owner Brittany Williams welcomed aa great crowd to Luxe Glamour Bar at Suite 103 Coosa Pines Drive in Childersburg for her official Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony. Brittany personally specializes in las extensions, with plans to add plenty of glamour-related services going forward!

Stepping Up for Mental Health

2nd Annual Magnificent Seven May Day

A growing group of community volunteers, the Magnificent Seven hosted their 2nd Annual May Day event in Noble Park, celebrating children with fun & games!

Alabama historical preservationist Jerry Lathan moving, restoring Rosa Parks’ childhood home

Jim ‘Zig’ Zeigler

Marker at birthplace of Rosa Parks
Marker at birthplace of Rosa Parks. Image: Jerry Lathan

It’s a piece of history that has become run-down and in danger of ruination. No more.  

Rosa Parks’ childhood home has been obtained by Mobile historic preservationist Jerry Lathan. The Lathan Company has a plan to restore the historic farmhouse and open it as a museum. Details of the ultimate site of the home are expected to become final this year as plans are being made for it to be disassembled, moved and then re-assembled at the permanent site.

Plans are being negotiated to move it to a permanent site at nearby Tuskegee University, where Parks was born. Right now, the original home site is in Henry County near Abbeville, near the Georgia state line in southeast Alabama’s Wiregrass.

Rosa Parks was a key figure in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. The seamstress was arrested when she declined to give up her seat to a white man on a downtown Montgomery bus. That action was a precursor to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which was headed by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., then pastor of Montgomery’s Dexter Avenue Baptist Church.

One small action by Rosa Parks affected history. It started in Montgomery but spread nationally and internationally.

The home being preserved was where Rosa Parks lived until about age 5, when her parents separated, and she moved to Pine Level in southern Montgomery County.

Rosaparkshome1 Alabama News
Rosa Parks childhood home. Photo: Jerry Lathan

For the rest of the original story, click HERE

Jim ‘Zig’ Zeigler writes about Alabama’s people, places, events, groups and prominent deaths. He is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. You can reach him for comments at [email protected].

Don’t miss out! Subscribe to the 1819News newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.

Iconic ‘Old Hickory’ BBQ recipe found; It will be served FREE on April 27th in Sylacauga

Jim ‘Zig’ Zeigler writes about Alabama’s people, places, events, groups and prominent deaths.  He is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. You can reach him for comments at [email protected].
See the original 1819News article by clicking HERE!

For over a half-century, if you traveled from the Birmingham/Shelby area to Lake Martin, you knew the Old Hickory Barbecue Restaurant in Sylacauga.

If you traveled Highway 280 to Auburn home football games, you may have pulled into the Old Hickory and bought their unique barbecue for tailgating.

The barbecue was so unusual that some folks would make a special trip just to eat at the Old Hickory. It became a destination.

The Old Hickory Barbecue in Sylacauga, famous for decades for its unique taste, has been closed since the 1980s, and the barbecue recipe was presumed lost.

Enter Sylacauga native Lamar “Mole” Humphries. The retiree (Class of ’66 Sylacauga High) took on the mission of finding the recipe and re-creating Old Hickory barbecue.

He did. He located the original recipe, blended the sauce, and barbecued with it.  Voila! A return of the Old Hickory taste and feel.

He then cooked up 17 gallons of Old Hickory Barbecue Sauce and made it his gift to friends in pint jars.

Now, “Mole,” as he is universally known in East Alabama, is taking folks on a trip to yesteryear, back to the Old Hickory era. The gastronomical nostalgic trip is on Saturday, April 27 at Blue Bell Central Park in downtown Sylacauga. Mole is bringing the Old Hickory sauce, setting up his giant commercial-grade smoker, and cooking free for all comers.

Mole will start serving around noon.

No ticket, no RSVP and no money are required. Just show up and get in line. First come, first served. Many coming that day will bring sides for all — baked beans, potato salad, chips, Cole slaw, and desserts.     

It’s the second coming of the Old Hickory.

Blue Bell Central Park is located across the street from the classic entryway to the Blue Bell Ice Cream plant at 436-498 North Norton in downtown Sylacauga.­

Bluebellpark Alabama News
Blue Bell Central Park. Four Square City Guide

The occasion for Mole Humphries’ free barbecue is the annual “Frosty Inn Reunion.”  The “Frosty”, the beloved gathering place for teenagers of the 1960s, 70s and 80s, has also been closed going on 40 years, but those teenagers of yesterday remember and re-create the golden days of their youth each year. The Frosty alums will gather again from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 27 at Blue Bell Central Park.

2024 marks the 14th straight year these Baby Boomers regroup for the Frosty Reunion. This will be the first time they and all the others there will eat Old Hickory Barbecue as their lunch in the park.  

For decades, thousands of Alabama residents drove past the Old Hickory Barbecue each day. The restaurant was located on what was then U.S. Highway 280 and 231 as they traversed Fort Williams Street in downtown Sylacauga. 280 was the main route from Birmingham to Lake Martin to Auburn and on to Phenix City/Columbus, while 231 was the route to Montgomery. Both passed the Old Hickory and then separated paths just south of Sylacauga.

Later, 280 and 231 were re-routed to a new four-lane west of Sylacauga, but the Old Hickory remained for 20 more years.

This won’t be the first time that Mole Humphries has gone the second mile for his fellow yutes of yesteryear. He is known as “Mole the Music Man” and preserved the music of the 1960s, first on a reel-to-reel, then on a cassette, and finally on CDs. Mole has given out free CDs of the music he grew up with at gatherings over the past five years. Generous.

Mole came by his love of 1960s music naturally. His family owned a music/record shop in downtown Sylacauga in the 60s. It was the cool place to go, browse and listen.

So how did Mole Humphries come by his other obsession — to locate the Old Hickory barbecue recipe and cook free for everybody on April 27? Ask him while he’s taking the meat off the grill.

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A “Winning” Night for Watwood

Courtesy of Meredith Wesson Hughes

The A. H. Watwood Elementary School PTO Reverse Drawdown was held Saturday evening (4/13) at Childersburg Parks-Recreation.

We would like to thank everyone who supported our school through ticket purchases and door prize donations.

Our very own Superintendent-Dr. Suzanne Lacey-won the drawdown and gave the PTO her winnings!

We are very thankful for Dr. Lacey and we could not be happier to see all of our hard work pay off in a spectacular way for our school. Thank you to all of the Watwood staff that helped us tonight and our teachers who supported us through ticket purchases.

There are so many people who had a hand in making tonight a success and we appreciate you! On behalf of myself, Emelia Pate Edwards and Adam Aj Jordon- we would also like to thank (Principal) Amy Smith, (Cburg Parks and Rec) Brad Logan, (Asst Principal) Delisha McClure Cardwell, (Talladega Co School Board member) Sharon Landers, Les and Dusti Smith (Cater Up), & (Childersburg Police Department) Officer Brandon Hughes for all your help to make this event successful.