2022 REVIEW: Big news stories shape Franklin County

From business to schools to community events and city news and more, it was another banner year in Franklin County. Here are some of the top headlines that might define 2022 in the proverbial history books.


FC Cattlemen’s Association names Andy Pounders Cattleman of the Year

The Franklin County Cattlemen’s Association held its annual meeting Jan. 23 at the Ralph C. Bishop Center in Russellville. The association selected Andy Pounders as Cattleman of the Year. Pounders said he was excited and surprised to be chosen. A resident of East Franklin, he said he enjoys the work he does with his family on their farm, Daybreak Farm.


Phil Campbell revives Shelby Grissom Memorial Fashion Show

After skipping a couple of years because of COVID-19 precautions, Phil Campbell High School resumed its annual Shelby Grissom Memorial Fashion Show Feb. 10. Held in memory of PCHS senior Shelby Grissom, who passed away Nov. 9, 2008, the event serves as a fundraiser for the scholarship created in Shelby’s memory to benefit a PCHS senior at Northwest-Shoals Community College.

Faith-based addiction recovery center for women breaks ground

The Place of Grace founder and director Jocelynn James Edmonds, of Phil Campbell, in partnership with her church, Community Church at Hackleburg, took another step in making her dream a reality Feb. 10. Edmonds and supporters broke ground on a faith-based addiction recovery center for women. It’s a dream that’s been nine years in the making – one that’s inspired by Edmonds’ own experience with addiction and recovery.

Franklin County remembers 34th circuit judge Terry Lee Dempsey

The community mourned one of its own when Judge Terry Dempsey, 55, of Spruce Pine, who served as Franklin County circuit judge, passed away Feb. 17 at UAB Hospital after a brief illness.

MARCH 2022

Extension coordinator receives education award

During its annual professional development conference March 2-4, the Alabama Community Education Association selected Franklin County Extension Coordinator Katernia Cole Coffey for its Outstanding Benefactor Award. The inscription reads “for outstanding contributions that foster the programs of Community Education.”

Supporters host Mullins remembrance dinner event

Friends and supporters of Chucky Mullins held a remembrance dinner March 12 at Doe’s Eat Place in downtown Russellville. The event was hosted by the Class of 1988 Chucky Mullins Scholarship Committee, which has continued with many efforts over the years to preserve the memory of Russellville’s Mullins, who reached widespread notoriety after a bad tackle on the football field made him a quadriplegic.

APRIL 2022

Brian Hamilton swears in as Franklin County circuit judge

Russellville lawyer Brian Paul Hamilton was sworn in as Franklin County circuit judge April 10 in a public ceremony, conducted by district judge Paula McDowell at the Franklin County Courthouse. His selection filled the 34th circuit judge seat left vacant by Judge Terry Lee Dempsey’s passing.

MAY 2022

Long-time Russellville SPAN coordinator retires

Remona Roberson spent her career working to improve the lives of young people, retiring from Franklin County’s SPAN in May.

Caboose moves to new home in downtown Red Bay

Visitors and community members alike came together in downtown Red Bay to watch as Jeremy Funderburk and his team transported a caboose from its temporary location at a trucking company lot just up the road to its new home across the street from the Red Bay Museum. The lot, next door to the Red Bay Hotel, is also the site of Red Bay’s nearly 120-year-old wooden water tank, which was moved there in July 2021.

RCS schools earn state awards

Russellville Elementary School was named a School of Distinction by the 2021 Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools and was also named the 2021 Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools Banner School for District 7 – one of eight schools in the state to receive a banner school designation. For the second year in a row, Russellville High School made the U.S News & World Report’s list of the Top 25 High Schools in Alabama, coming in at No. 22 on this year’s list – out of 718 high schools in the state.

Russellville’s CNP director earns top state honor

In a congratulatory reception at the Russellville City Schools central office, RCS Child Nutrition Program Director Elaine Vaughn was honored as the Alabama School Nutrition Association’s Director of the Year.

Gov. Kay Ivey visits Red Bay

While speaking and touring Tiffin Motorhomes during a visit to Red Bay May 9, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey voiced her support for the State Parks Amendment, the only constitutional amendment on the May 24 primary ballot.

New director takes helm at Russellville Public Library

Joshlyn Bowen jumped into her new role as director of the Russellville Public Library May 16.

The Russellville City Council appointed Bowen as library director during its April 4 meeting.

Splash pad opening heralds holiday weekend

The Russellville Splash Pad opened in time for Memorial Day weekend, kicking off with a celebration that Friday. Originally planned to open July 4, 2021, Russellville’s splash pad, located between the John Blackwell Sports Complex and Sloss Lake on Highway 24, saw its share of setbacks.

JUNE 2022

Furr Fest fundraiser sees success

Blue Springs Volunteer Fire Department held Furr Fest as a means to help stray animals in Franklin County. A bake sale, along with the sale of hamburgers and hot dogs, helped raise funds, and the fire department accepted donations of dog and cat food during the event.

Russellville fire chief earns state Career Fire Chief of Year honor

Russellville Fire Chief Joe Mansell received the distinction of being named the Alabama Career Fire Chief of the Year. He was officially recognized June 23 during the Alabama and Southeastern fire chiefs conference in Mobile.

David Palmer retires as Franklin County engineer

A little more than 31 years ago, David Palmer began paving the way forward for his engineering career in Franklin County, getting his start Jan. 7, 1991, as assistant county engineer. Sept. 11, 1995, he took over as the county engineer. June 30, 2022, he retired from the department.

The Franklin County Commission issued a resolution June 17 honoring Palmer on his retirement, and a party June 28 at the Franklin County Courthouse Annex celebrated his career and achievements.

JULY 2022

Russellville City Schools holds grand opening for new RHS building

Russellville City Schools held an open house Monday for the public to view the new addition to Russellville High School. It houses all of the administrative offices and meeting spaces for RHS, the RHS special education department, the Spanish and English as a Second Language classes, art and all of the classes in the RHS science department, including two new science labs for biology and chemistry.

Council names deputy fire chief

Russellville now has a deputy fire chief. The Russellville City Council approved Russellville Fire Department Chief Joe Mansell’s recommendation, made during its July 18 meeting, to promote Capt. Randy Seal to the role. It’s a move Mansell said makes sense for ensuring things run smoothly, promoting increased safety for Russellville.


Distinguished Young Women names local winners

Forty-three young women from Franklin, Colbert and Lauderdale counties competed in the annual Distinguished Young Women scholarship program in August. Jayce Vinson, of Red Bay High School, was chosen as this year’s Distinguished Young Woman of Franklin County. Sarah Morgan, a Colbert County resident and student at Russellville High School, was chosen as this year’s Distinguished Young Woman of Colbert County. Vinson, daughter of Jason and Jessica Vinson, was also the Franklin County category winner for fitness, self-expression, scholastics and talent.

New principals take the reins of local schools

New principals stepped up at several city and county schools this year.

At Phil Campbell Elementary School, former principal Channing Wright departed to be the assistant principal at Russellville Elementary School, and she was replaced by Dawn Rogers. Michael Nanney took the principal role at Red Bay High School.

Ann Scott retired from West Elementary, replaced by Alicia Stanford, whose past position was as Scott’s assistant principal. Russellville Elementary bid farewell to retiring principal Kristie Ezzell and welcomed Tiffany Warhurst to the role, from the assistant principal chair.

Russellville Elementary receives recognition for reading program

The Alabama State Department of Education named RES a Science of Reading Spotlight School – one of 12 in the state. “This is a very special selection to us because it shows the hard work and dedication of our faculty and staff,” explained RCS Superintendent Dr. Heath Grimes at the time. “In order to be a Science of Reading spotlight school, the entire faculty and administration must clearly evidence a commitment to learning and teaching using the Science of Reading.”

Russellville Municipal Airport celebrates grand reopening

The city held a ribbon cutting at Russellville Municipal Airport grand reopening. The airport was closed for several months for necessary maintenance and upgrades.

Russellville student sings as part of youth choir at World Games ceremonies

For 14-year-old Lakin Derrick the summer brought the exciting opportunity to sing as one of 80-85 children in the youth choir in the opening and closing ceremonies of the World Games in Birmingham.


Landfill withdraws expansion request

In a Sept. 8 letter issued by Franklin County Land Management Inc., to the Franklin County Commission, FCLM withdrew its request seeking major permit modifications to expand and change the nature of the Franklin County landfill. The changes were being sought for ADEM SWDF Permit No. 30-04. The expansion had been hotly opposed by guest speakers and commission meeting, by letters to the editor printed in the FCT and by a social media campaign.

RBHS ag teacher receives Honorary American FFA Degree

Red Bay High School agriculture teacher Jarod Massey was selected for an Honorary American FFA Degree in recognition of his “outstanding contributions to supporting the next generation of leaders.” Massey was honored during the 95th National FFA Convention and Expo in October.

Phil Campbell swears in new councilman

The Phil Campbell City Council has a new face – that of Rodney Kuykendall. Selected during the Sept. 27 meeting, Kuykendall was officially sworn into office by Franklin County Probate Judge Barry Moore during the council’s Oct. 4. meeting. He replaced Councilman Jeremy Kastberg, who resigned in August.


Spruce Pine enjoys addition of community park

Spruce Pine resident Michael Mann built Madalynn Park for the community. The park remains privately owned but is open to the public. It’s located next to the old store by the museum, across from the community center.


RCS BOE recognizes Marching Hundred percussion
The Russellville Marching Hundred percussion section members received special recognition from the Russellville City Schools Board of Education for winning the 5A Outstanding Percussion Award at the Alabama State Marching Band Competition.


Russellville First Baptist hosts Walk Thru Bethlehem

An event new to the community this year was Russellville First Baptist’s walking nativity experience titled A Walk Thru Bethlehem, an outdoor adventure meant to take people back to the time of Christ’s birth. Hundreds of volunteers made the event possible, and hundreds took the free tour.


Franklin County

Republican primary run-off election for county commission seats takes place April 16


Historic Roxy Theatre celebrates 75th Anniversary with upcoming entertainment

Franklin County

PROGRESS 2024: Veteran Spotlight – Mark Dunbar

Franklin County

Franklin County makes seven drug trafficking arrests


Why Knot car show cruises into downtown Russellville


Get free weather radio at VFDs

Franklin County

PCHS FBLA hosts Little Miss Dream Girl Pageant

Franklin County

PROGRESS 2024: Veteran Spotlight – Johnnie Pounders


Sam Warf: From Tennessee to the White House and beyond

Franklin County

PROGRESS 2024: Veteran Spotlight – Mousey Brown


Russellville First Baptist Church receives historical marker

Franklin County

PROGRESS 2024: Meeting a higher standard – Russellville High School JROTC


RCS BOE announces new superintendent  


Miss Dream Girl Pageant names winners

Franklin County

First Metro Bank hosts FAME Girls’ Ranch donation drive


PCHS holds annual Shelby Grissom Memorial Fashion Show

Franklin County

PROGRESS 2024: VFW Post 5184 – ‘No One Does More For Veterans’


Supporting students’ futures


Red Bay Garden Club discusses amaryllis planting

Franklin County

UA announces local students for fall 2023 President’s, Dean’s, graduation lists


School news

Franklin County

PROGRESS 2024: Veteran Spotlight – Troy Oliver

Franklin County

Appropriations bill passes, allots more than $3 million for new Russellville library/multipurpose center 

Franklin County

Franklin County Cattlemen’s Association names Cattleman of the Year