Clay County Alabama

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Clay County Featured on Alabama’s 13 TV

“What’s Working?”: Clay Co. draws tourists with unique finds, natural beauty and resources.

In this What’s Working online video report, Alabama’s 13 Bettina Boateng , Producer Danielle Deavours and Photojournalist Ben Bryson take you to Clay County to show you how officials and locals are working together to highlight destinations ranging from gold panning spots to outdoor recreational retreats in efforts to attract more people to a county that has so much to offer.

Please click here to watch the video.

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Letter From The Chamber President

April 7, 2014

To the members of the Clay County Chamber of Commerce, citizens and elected officials of Clay County:

As chamber president I am proud, excited, saddened and excited (again). I am proud to be able to live and work in Clay County. I am proud of our residents and chamber members that have supported the chamber and its leaders, both past and present, in the work that has been done to improve Clay County. I am proud to serve with my fellow board members and for their dedication, commitment and work ethic as we promote our great county and work to make it an even better place to live, work and play. I am also extremely proud of our Executive Director, Mary Patchunka Smith, and how she has poured herself into the job. Her energy and excitement is contagious and she has worked as hard as anyone I know to put Clay County on the map. Due to her efforts the Clay County Chamber of Commerce was awarded the 2012 Tourism Organization of the Year by the Alabama Tourism Department.

I am excited about the progress we have seen in Clay County and about the potential we have. The things that we often take for granted are highly sought-after and considered prime assets by those who live and work in urban areas. Our beautiful scenery, natural resources, friendly residents and laid-back lifestyle are assets that we can capitalize on. Clay County is located 90 miles from millions of people who love to visit areas like ours when they learn what we have to offer. Business and small industry leaders are looking to locate, or re-locate, in the southeast due to our lower cost and business friendly environment.

However, I am sad that our director will be leaving us. Mary has been noticed by others outside our county for the work she has done here. Community leaders and elected officials from surrounding areas have often commented to me that they wished they had someone like Mary on their team. So, it came as no surprise when Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce contacted her regarding an opening in their organization. Mary’s love of Clay County made it a difficult decision, but after some serious considera-tion (and a few tears) she has decided to do what is in the best interest of her family. She will be joining the Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce as Director of Travel and Tourism effective April 12, 2014. Change can be difficult, but our chamber board is committed to work together to manage this change and keep the momentum moving in a positive direction.

I am excited again; for our friend Mary as she advances into a new position and for our county as we continue to move forward. We are losing a great leader, but we still have the same potential and amazing assets and opportunities. The chamber board will be meeting with our elected officials and community leaders to solidify our common vision and their continued support. We will then seek a qualified and committed individual to fill the position created by Mary’s departure. Public announcements will be placed in the local media outlets so that all interested persons will have opportunity to apply.


Stan Gaither
President of the Board
Clay County Chamber of Commerce

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Adult Basic Computer Classes

Three different classes will be offered on consecutive Monday nights beginning April 14th.

Monday, April 14 from 6:00 – 9:00 Basic PowerPoint presentations
Monday, April 21 from 6:00 – 9:00 Basic Word documents
Monday, April 28 from 6:00 – 9:00 Basic Excel spreadsheets

These classes will be $25 each. Receipts will be given for tax purposes.

The classes are not for beginning computer users, but no prior knowledge of Microsoft Office applications is required.

The classes will be taught by a Microsoft Office Specialist, certified in all three applications.

Classes will meet at Central High School of Clay County, in computer lab #155.

Class size will be limited; preregistration is required.

Please contact:
Ann Thompson Work Phone 256-396- 1400
Denise Keith Work Phone 256-396-1400
Home phone 256-396-6386 (4:00 – 9:00 pm)

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Job Opportunity: Parent Facilitator, Clay County Department of Human Resources

Posted March 06, 2014

Job Opportunity: Parent Facilitator, Clay County Department of Human Resources

Taking applications until March 12, 2014.

Provides home visitation services aimed at preventing child abuse and neglect for an “at risk” population of parents who are residents of Clay County.

Download the full job description, duties, and responsibilities. 2014-DHR-Parent Facilitator

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Economic development forum in Oxford focuses on regional cooperation

by Eddie Burkhalter Anniston Star Jan 23, 2014

OXFORD — Seated at tables inside the Oxford Civic Center Thursday with local officials and business owners were executives from several of the largest companies in Alabama.

The purpose of the gathering, a forum organized by Alabama Power with help from Calhoun County’s Economic Development Council and Chamber of Commerce, was to discuss economic development and job creation through regional collaboration.

More than half of the 120 or so who attended came from outside Calhoun County, which spoke to the name of the forum: Connecting our Communities.

“When we work together, collaboration efforts pay off,” said Larry Deason, the Economic Development Council’s chairman and president of Farmers and Merchants Bank.

Deason pointed to the opening of the Honda plant in Lincoln, Oxford’s Kronospan plant and, more recently, the regional partnership to develop McClellan as examples of collaborative efforts that can create jobs.

Projects like those took regional cooperation and can have regional effects, said Greg Barker, senior vice president of marketing and economic development at Alabama Power.

“And don’t just think about mega-projects,” Barker said. “Every project is important, especially in today’s time, regardless of the amount of jobs or capital investment. This is still a risky economic environment that we’re facing.”

Charlie Waldrep, an attorney at Waldrep, Stewart and Kendrick, was involved with the deal that brought Mercedes-Benz to Alabama, and spoke to attendees Thursday about some little-known details of the project.

Waldrep said Alabama had submitted no proposal to the German auto manufacturer when the company sent out letters in 1993 to each of the 48 contiguous states. A letter from Mercedes-Benz asking about the possibility of opening a plant in Alabama sat unopened in a state office, he said, until the then newly-appointed head of the Alabama Development Office, Billy Joe Camp, opened it and began working to recruit the company.

“We knew it was a Hail Mary to get back into the game,” Waldrep said.

Ultimately Alabama did get the auto plant, but it came only after a combined effort of several municipalities, business leaders and elected officials working together, Waldrep said. Today, Mercedes-Benz pumps $1.5 billion into the state’s economy each year, he said.

But it didn’t come free of cost, Waldrep explained, with the state offering to train workers at no cost to the company, and a deal that took 5 percent of the workers’ pay and gave it to the company. The workers received a state tax credit to make up the difference in their pay, he said.

Mike Oatridge, vice president of manufacturing for Honda Manufacturing of Alabama, spoke about the importance of having the support of local communities.

As the Honda plant in Lincoln grew production, the need for more resources grew as well, Oatridge explained, and Anniston stepped up in 2011 to sell much-needed water to be used in the manufacturing process. Alabama Power supplied additional electricity as well, Oatridge said, and the outcome is that Honda vehicles made there are now shipped worldwide.

“We’ve always been able to rely on local and state communities … and as we expand further into the world we have that assurance that everyone here will always support Honda,” Oatridge said.

William Fielding, dean of Jacksonville State University’s College of Commerce and Business Administration, said during a break at the forum that north Alabama has all the ingredients needed to attract industry.

Speaking of the forum, Ken Grissom, government procurement specialist at the Small Business Development Center at JSU, said it was an opportunity to better understand the importance of regional participation in economic growth.

Grissom also pointed to the partnership of local municipalities and organizations working to develop McClellan as a good example of how working together can have good outcomes.

“It’s an asset,” Grissom said, adding he believes every community in the area ultimately will benefit from the effort.

The theme of regional collaboration continued during the chamber’s luncheon, also held at the Civic Center.

Serving as keynote speaker was Jo Bonner, former U.S. representative for a south Alabama district and vice chancellor for government relations and economic development for the University of Alabama.

Bonner reminded the chamber members that though Alabama is now known as a destination for auto manufacturers, that was not the case decades ago, when state officials worked to attract a Saturn plant to a site near Vance.

Despite that setback, he said, Alabama is now in a better place because leaders back then “made the unpopular decision of working together.”

After Bonner’s speech, Julia Segars, the outgoing chairwoman of the chamber, gave a review of all that the organization accomplished in 2013. She said that at the beginning of the year, area leaders had the idea of combining the efforts of chambers of commerce in the eight counties of northeastern Alabama. She said that the new collaboration has focused on workforce development as well as shop-local events and marketing and tourism campaigns.

Segars said Calhoun County’s chamber has grown to more than 1,000 members, a 30 percent increase in the last three years.

“Success through collaboration is a brilliant idea,” she said.

During Thursday’s lunch, Segars handed over her gavel to Jason Alderman, BB&T Bank market president for east central Alabama, based in Anniston.

“It has absolutely been my joy and privilege to have this job, and I’m leaving it in great hands,” she said.

Alderman said chamber members and local leaders worked hard in 2013 and this year the chamber will focus on making the most efficient use of that hard work.

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Junior Ambassador Program Fosters Creativity

From the Central High School Website at

Friday, January 17, 2014

Making Treasure From Trash

This year CJHS has benefited from a new program called the Junior Ambassadors.  The students selected to participate in this program meet on a regular basis to participate in high level thinking and problem solving projects.  The program is conducted by the Clay County Chamber of Commerce and the Alabama Cooperative Extension.  We greatly appreciated the time and efforts of Mrs. Lisa Runyan, Mrs. Mary Patchunka-Smith, and Ms. Tonya Tomlin.  A special thanks to our three judges, Mr. Stan Gaither, Ms. Kelly Whiteside, and Mr. Larry Lee.

This month the students were put into a small group and asked to make a product from a pile of “trash”.  Each team had to develop a product, write a short business plan, develop a marketing strategy and present their business before a panel of three judges.  Think of it as “Shark Tank” for Junior High.  The students came up with a variety of ideas, including a “redneck security system”, a bird feeder that doubled as a batting tool, a portable mega sports bottle, and a “varmint” trap.  The students showed a lot of creativity and ingenuity. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed this time to “think outside the box” and engage their “right brain”, as Mrs. Runyan directed them.

First Place honors went to the RoboButler 3000 created by AJQ Electronics.

Second Place went to J. Cot Industries for their survival sailboat.

Modern Designs won third place with “The Anything and Everything” organizer.

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Chamber and Economic Development Council Building New Office

Article from Clay Times Journal

By Ray Stansell

People passing through Lineville have noticed the Clay County Chamber of Commerce Office on Highway 9 North is now vacant, and there is a “for rent” sign in the window. People have been asking what has happened, and Chamber President Stan Gaither provided answers in a telephone interview on Friday, January 17. He said the Clay County Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Council (formerly Clay County Industrial Board) is preparing to have a building erected on their property along Highway 9 across from Airport Road. That structure will house both the Chamber‘s and Economic Council’s offices. “The Chamber has partnered with the Economic Development Council because we are both after the same thing, to bring more money into Clay County,” Gaither said. “People want to think of new industry, but that’s not always the case. We may not have everything an industry wants, but the new school is a big plus. Many times, you bring growth through new businesses and playing to other strengths such as tourism. We have Cheaha, Lake Wedowee and beautiful towns and countryside and many local venues that are attractive to outsiders. Council Chairman Terry Meek said the budget for the new building is set at $120,000. Both men said they had hoped the building would be under construction before the end of the year, but the work was delayed by the wet weather. Gaither explained the office in Lineville had been planned as a temporary location in the beginning. Meek said, “The Chamber has been moving around for several years, and the Council really has not had a permanent office, so we are both looking forward to a permanent location so that the public can know where we are.

The Chamber is still in operation, despite the lack of office space. Director Mary Patchunka-Smith is doing the work from her home. The Chamber number, 256-396-2828, rolls to her cell phone, so it is still a viable contact. The Chamber has a new email address:

Gaither explained they expect to have broadband internet in the new office, and this email will continue to be good when they move in there. He added, “We are both here to help economic development on both sides of the county. We are not trying to raise money for the Chamber or the Economic Development Council beyond the cost of operations. If we didn’t feel we were creating more value than overhead, we will vote to close down our organizations.” Gaither continued, saying, “We have reviewed the sales tax receipts records for Clay County for the past five years, and these have increased every year. We feel the work of the Chamber has helped bring this about through promoting our cities and county throughout the southeast.”

“We will keep the public informed on the progress of our new building and our activities, including a groundbreaking, as soon as we have a date,” he said in closing.

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The Historic Ashland Theatre 2014 Season of Events

The Historic Ashland Theatre 2014 Season of Events

January 14th 5-7 pm
AUDITIONS: Romeo and Juliet Choose your Own Ending (Grades 7-12)
Adaptation of the Shakespeare Classic. Great fun with improv as the story changes every night all according to the audience! No experience needed!

January 26th
Student Film Festival
Registration and Workshop
2-4pm FREE workshop for Elementary, High School, and College Students who are registering to participate in our Film Festival. $20 registration fee for each team to enter the competition. Discount of $5 for each team that attends the workshop. Students will have until April to write, film, and edit a 5 minute short film.
A Film Festival to showcase their finished films will be April 19th

February 8th Special Effects Makeup Workshop
10 am-12 pm $30
Fee includes a Ben Nye Student Makeup Kit for each participant.
All ages Welcome! Great hands on learning experience!

February 22nd 5:00 pm GOLDIE Awards
FREE Annual Theatre Awards Night. All participants from the last year are welcome!
The Goldie Award will be presented for the first time! Join us to find out to WHO!?

February 28th, March 1st, and March 2nd
Romeo and Juliet Choose your Own Ending
Become a part of the show! Each night not even the CAST knows the ending.
Its up to YOU the audience! 6pm Shows Saturday and Sunday and 2pm on Sunday
Tickets: $8 for adults $5 for Students/Senior Citizens

March 15th Student Talent Show Registration
10:00am-12:00pm FREE registration for all participants. Elementary and High School Students Welcome. Win Cash and Scholarships to STAR Camp. Be prepared to show your act to us the day of registration!

March 29th Student Talent Show
6:oo pm $5 Admission

April 19th Student Film Festival
4:00pm-until $5 Admission
All competition films must be registered by the Feb. 1st deadline and films must be submitted by April 1st to be eligible.
Student films will be showcased and awards will be given. All ages welcome.

April 26th AUDITIONS Little Mermaid Jr.
10:00am-1:00pm Ages 3 to 18 Welcome! There will be non speaking roles that require very little rehearsal for our little bitties. Singers, Dancers, and Musicians Needed! Have a song prepared to sing at audition. Come ready to dance and read scenes from the script. NO experience required!

June 2-6 STAR CAMP
8am-12:30 pm JR. STAR Camp (Grades 2-6)
12:30pm-5:00pm TEEN STAR Camp (Grades 7-12)
Camp Fee $80 includes t-shirt, headshot photograph, & camp folder. No experience necessary! Audition Skills, puppetry, stage makeup, acting, movement, improv, and more!

July 25th, 26th, and 27th Little Mermaid Jr.
Disney Musical that is great for all ages! Come see all your favorite friends Under the Sea!
Friday and Saturday 6:00pm and Sunday 2:00pm
Tickets $10 Adults and $5 Students/Senior Citizens

September 26th, 27th, and 28th The Diary of Adam and Eve
The Mark Twain Classic brought to life on stage! Comedy, great for all ages!
Friday and Saturday Shows at 6:00pm and Sunday 2:00pm
Tickets $8 Adults and $5 Students/Senior Citizens

October 11th Murder Mystery Wedding
Theatre Fundraiser 6:00 PM $10 Donation Suggested per person.
Come figure out “Who Did It” as our Wedding Party Actors perform an interactive evening right alongside you and your friends. Dress as Hippies to be on the Brides Side or Classy and Formal to sit on the Grooms Side! Or Dress as yourself and choose your OWN adventure!

November 1st
AUDITIONS: Its a Wonderful Life Radio Play
10:00am-12:00pm. All ages welcome to audition! Be prepared to do a reading from the script! Minimal Rehearsals for this show required since it will be performed like a live stage version of a Radio Show. Also looking for people to do Sound Effects Live on Stage.

December 5th, 6th, and 7th Back by Popular Demand!
It’s a Wonderful Life Radio Play
Friday and Saturday Performances at 6:00pm and Sunday Performance at 2:00pm
Tickets $8 Adults and $5 Senior Citizens
Come see behind the scenes of a 1940’s Radio Program taking place LIVE on the stage. Complete with Sound Effects Artists! A beloved Christmas Classic in a new light.

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