A pair of tragic deaths, one in an automobile accident in which a mother was charged with reckless murder, and another in which murder charges were dropped against a teenage suspect, were among the top stories in Eclectic in 2018.
- County blasted with snow, extreme cold
A blanket of snow covered Elmore County between Jan. 16 and 19.
Jan. 16 started with temperatures in the 40s but flakes began falling by midnight that night.
Throughout those three days, temperatures steadily decreased while police said car accidents increased.
Elmore County chief deputy Ricky Lowery said the sheriff’s office responded to more than 50 calls concerning wrecks or stranded motorists.
- Eclectic third-grader killed in accident
Eclectic Elementary School third-grader Myah Bowden was killed on Jan. 11 after the vehicle she was traveling in crashed into the back of a garbage truck on Highway 63.
State troopers said Myah was riding in her mother, Robyn House’s, 2004 Trailblazer and was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident.
Elmore County High School principal Wes Rodgers said counselors were brought in to Eclectic schools to help students grieve Myah’s death.
House was charged with the reckless murder of Bowden in August, and her trial is slated for Jan. 28.
- ECHS graduates dodge rain
Despite the threat of rain, the Elmore County High School class of 2018 walked across the stage at Burt-Haynie Field and received their diplomas.
The class valedictorian was Kayson Wallace, and the salutatorian was Jordan Singleton. The class of 2018 was awarded more than $1 million in scholarships on senior night.
Students who elected to join the military were also recognized at graduation.
- Refuge Baptist declares Arvel Griffith Day
On July 15, Refuge Baptist Church celebrated the 99th birthday of member Arvel Griffith and named the day in his honor.
According to pastor Steve Scarborough, Griffith was recognized for his “untiring service and heart to see the Kingdom of God expanded to all people.”
Griffith is a Red Hill native and has been a member of the church for 79 years.
- Winslett joins Eclectic council
Eclectic resident Carmen Winslett was sworn in as a member of the Eclectic Town Council on July 16.
Winslett replaced former councilmember Joe Creamer, who resigned after moving outside of town limits.
Winslett was unanimously selected from five candidates, including Nathan Collins, Robert Newman, Josh Pack and Stephanie Stepney.
- Sunset Park unveiled in Eclectic
Children in Eclectic’s Woodlawn subdivision welcomed a new place to play on July 17.
Eclectic resident Jason Stepney said he built the Sunset Park playground by expanding on a donated swing set. Stepney also added a trampoline and planted two trees nearby.
Throughout the construction process, about 30 people volunteered to help paint and build.
- Cotton festival draws thousands
More than 7,000 people flocked to Eclectic’s downtown area for the town’s 26th annual Alabama Cotton Festival. Mayor Gary Davenport said the turnout set a new record and was roughly seven times Eclectic’s population of 1,100.
The cotton festival featured the Miss Cotton Queen pageant, live music, an antique car show, art and baking contests, races, a dog show and an area for kids.
Davenport said the cotton festival was started by local merchants and serves to honor the town’s roots in the cotton industry.
- Murder charges dropped against teen
Charges against an Eclectic teen accused of killing his parents were dropped on Oct. 22.
Ninteenth Judicial Circuit District Attorney Randall Houston said charges against 19-year-old Jesse Madison Holton were dropped due to insufficient evidence.
Holton was arrested in 2016 after his father, Jesse Michael Holton, was found fatally shot, and his mother, April Owenby Holton, was found suffering from severe gunshot wounds in their Eclectic home.
April Holton was later pronounced dead in a Montgomery hospital.
Defense attorney Tom Azar said Holton plans to attend college and is considering postgraduate work.
- Class-action suit filed against ABC Board
A lawsuit was filed by Eclectic resident Cary Reagan Jr. against the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board on Oct. 30.
The lawsuit claims that the 6-percent sales tax the ABC Board has applied to the 56-percent excise tax placed on hard liquor is in violation of the Code of Alabama.
Reagan’s attorney, Jim DeBardelaben, said the ABC Board is unauthorized to apply the sales tax.
Because of the sales tax, DeBardelaben said the ABC Board has overcharged Alabama residents up to $50 million since 2010.
- Elmore County overwhelmingly red
During the statewide general election on Nov. 6, the majority of Elmore County voters cast their ballots for Republicans.
Republican and incumbent Gov. Kay Ivey, who received 21,743 votes from Elmore County, defeated Democratic opponent Walt Maddox.
The county’s only uncontested election was for a seat on the Elmore County Board of Education. Because no candidates formally qualified, Wendell Saxon was elected via write-in votes. Saxon defeated former BOE member Patrycya Tucker and candidate ElWanda Penn.