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“Visit Tuscaloosa” Welcomes Marion Native Chelsea Barton-Kelly as New Marketing Content Manager


Visit Tuscaloosa has named Chelsea Barton-Kelly the new marketing content manager. Chelsea Barton-Kelly, a native of Marion, Alabama, graduated from Judson College with honors in 2010, having earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and Journalism. She has been happily married to her husband Hayden Kelly for almost two years. 

For twelve years, Chelsea served WVUA 23 as its lead reporter and anchor and is dedicated to improving the Tuscaloosa community through her involvement with multiple local organizations. She has been involved with the United Cerebral Palsy of West Alabama and the Tuscaloosa Police Athletic League since 2011, and she serves on the board for both. Additionally, she is an active participant in the Junior League of Tuscaloosa, where her efforts to improve the local community were recognized by her inclusion in the Tuscaloosa News’ 40 Under 40 list. During her time there, she provided guidance and mentorship to many students who eventually pursued careers in media and communications. Her service is well known to many people in the Tuscaloosa area. 

As a broadcast journalist, Barton-Kelly reported on major events with poise and integrity, keeping the public informed about the COVID-19 pandemic and response as well as the April 27, 2011 tornado which caused extensive damage and tragic loss of life. In addition, she strived to engage her viewers by sharing uplifting stories from the community that she personally found enjoyable.  

In her position as Marketing Content Manager at Visit Tuscaloosa, Barton-Kelly will utilize digital content and media relations to build a powerful tourism brand for Tuscaloosa. She will plan and implement advertising strategies, compile press releases, and work with local tourism partners to advertise the region’s assets. Consequently, she can expect to observe more overnight tourism, spending, and taxes for the city of Tuscaloosa.  We will her Good Luck in her new endeavors. 

(Source: Visit Tuscaloosa) 

MMI Conducts Groundbreaking Ceremony for New Softball Press Box


Press Release

MARION, AL – On Thursday, Aug. 31 at 3:00 pm, Marion Military Institute (MMI) conducted a groundbreaking ceremony for its new Softball Press Box, the newest addition to the college’s athletic facilities. This brand-new structure will consist of two stories containing restrooms, concessions, offices and a media press area, creating one central hub for the softball program. These new amenities will add to the already outstanding MMI Athletics experience.

Designed by LIVE Design Group of Birmingham, the project will move forward with general contractor Harper Brothers Construction of Tuscaloosa with a completion date set for late January 2024.

“LIVE Design Group is very proud to partner with Marion Military Institute. We are confident that these new facilities will be a catalyst for athletic excellence for many years to come,” said Grant Wright, Project Architect.

MMI Athletic Director Dr. Michelle Ivey thanked several supporters for getting this project off the ground: “On behalf of the MMI Athletic Department and the Lady Tigers softball program, I would like to extend a special thank you to Dr. George Rapier for his generous gift that has made this new building possible. Colonel Mollahan (President) and Suzanne McKee (Vice-President for Advancement) have made this project a priority, and it is evident that both have the best interests of the student-athletes in min. Special thanks to them and their leadership throughout this process and across our campus community.”

In addition to MMI staff, faculty, coaches and softball players, special guests in attendance for the groundbreaking ceremony included Grant Wright, architect, and Victor Harper, contractor.

Alabama’s grocery tax reduction: A penny saved, a better future paved


By Akiesha Anderson

The first stop on the road to untaxing groceries in Alabama is straight ahead. Lawmakers achieved a significant victory for the people this year by passing legislation to cut the state’s 4-cent grocery tax by half. That change will begin this Labor Day weekend, as the first 1-cent reduction takes effect Sept. 1.

Ultimately, this small change likely will result in large savings for Alabamians who are working hard to make ends meet. Once the new law is fully implemented, many families will have hundreds of dollars more available each year to spend on food or other expenses.

For decades, Alabama Arise has focused on reducing and ultimately eliminating the state sales tax on groceries, which essentially taxes survival. At the beginning of the 2023 legislative session, Alabama stood as one of only three states with no tax break on groceries. Thanks to determined advocacy by Arise members and other advocates, our state is off that shameful list at last.

The story behind the legislative triumph

Arise collaborated this year with many partners and lawmakers to introduce and pass the grocery tax reduction. That list includes the Alabama Grocers Association, Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth, Sens. Andrew Jones and Merika Coleman, and Reps. Danny Garrett and Penni McClammy. This year’s breakthrough also would not have happened without other legislative champions who laid the groundwork for this moment, including former Reps. John Knight and Thad McClammy, former Sen. Hank Sanders and Reps. Laura Hall and Mary Moore.

The grocery tax law’s passage is a testament to the importance of continuing to hold the line and fight for change for as long as it takes. It’s also a testament to the importance of seizing the moment when opportunity arrives. Something spectacular happened this year as the stars finally aligned after decades of advocacy.

When this year’s session began, many Alabamians were struggling with inflation and higher costs for essentials like eggs and bread. Simultaneously, the state was witnessing strong revenue growth. As elected officials began talking about one-time tax rebates, advocates recognized an opportune moment to make permanent progress on reducing the state grocery tax. And the revenue growth ensured this reduction would not cause severe harm to funding for our children’s public schools.

A positive step forward

State leaders seized this window of opportunity and united across partisan lines to reduce the grocery tax. It was amazing to witness the culmination of decades of hard work. And it was inspiring to see nearly every legislator co-sponsoring this monumental legislation. Many lawmakers tout this as the state’s largest tax cut ever, and it is one that will provide the biggest everyday benefit to people with low incomes.

Ultimately, Alabama Arise remains dedicated to transforming the state’s regressive tax system into a more progressive one. Progressive tax systems levy taxes based on one’s ability to pay, whereas regressive systems work in the reverse. The grocery tax has long exemplified regressive taxation, burdening those with fewer resources by requiring them to pay proportionally more than wealthier individuals.

Reducing the state grocery tax is a step in the right direction for tax justice. This penny saved is symbolic of a better future being paved for Alabama.

What lies ahead

Arise will continue advocating to eliminate the state grocery tax while protecting Education Trust Fund revenues. We look forward to working with the new Joint Study Commission on Grocery Taxation to find a sustainable path forward. Rebalancing Alabama’s upside-down tax system will require both lower taxes for people with low incomes and higher taxes for wealthy households and highly profitable corporations that can afford to pay more.

As this year’s grocery tax reduction takes effect, we celebrate its many champions – most notably the Alabamians who stayed vigilant to ensure their voices translated into tangible policy improvements. We also celebrate this policy change as a symbol of progress and unity, and as a testament to what state leaders can accomplish when they put partisanship aside to pass legislation with profound benefits for individuals and communities.

Cheers to eliminating the first cent, and to the ongoing journey toward a more prosperous and equitable Alabama!

Akiesha Anderson is policy and advocacy director of Alabama Arise, a statewide, member-led nonprofit organization advancing public policies to improve the lives of Alabamians who are marginalized by poverty. Arise’s membership includes faith-based, community, nonprofit and civic groups, grassroots leaders and individuals from across Alabama. Email: akiesha@alarise.org.

U.S. Senator Katie Britt Applauds $34 Million for Marion Military Institute


Press Release

Washington, D.C., August 29, 2023 – U.S. Senator Katie Britt (R-Ala.) today praised the disbursement of $34 million from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology to Marion Military Institute (MMI) for the construction of a Math and Science Building on its Perry County campus.

The new classroom space will enable MMI to expand its course offerings in fields such as computer science, cybersecurity, and information technology. In addition, this investment will centralize all of MMI’s STEM classes and laboratories in a single state-of-the-art facility.

“Every Alabamian deserves the opportunity to live their American Dream, regardless of their zip code,” said Senator Britt. “Turning this dream into a reality starts with ensuring that each young person across our great state has access to a high-quality education. This targeted, strategic federal investment will not only provide a new facility for Marion Military Institute but will also allow the school to offer more courses to its students and better prepare them for the demands of a military or civilian career as they live out the institution’s mission of service.” 

We are excited at the prospect of this new building,” remarked MMI President Colonel David J. Mollahan, USMC (Ret). “It will provide us the classroom and lab space and capabilities to expand course offerings in STEM. This will allow MMI to serve as both a leadership and STEM center of excellence.”

The funding for MMI was initially secured by former Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.).

Earlier this year, Senator Britt met with Colonel Mollahan and MMI leaders and received an update on the campus and MMI’s goals for the future.

A member of the Alabama Community College System, MMI is one of only four military junior colleges in the United States that can commission students as officers in the U.S. Army after two years of study. It is also home to one of the nation’s top Service Academy Programs, with more than 600 MMI cadets receiving Academy appointments in the last seven years. The school counts more than 216 generals and admirals among its alumni.

MMI has an annual statewide annual economic impact of $25 million and supports 394 direct and indirect jobs.

Tracing its roots back to 1842, MMI is also the nation’s oldest military junior college. The institution uses an immersive military environment and a focus on the intellectual, leadership, character, and physical development of a student to prepare them for a military or civilian career while living by the school’s motto of “Truth, Honor, Service.”

Proposal to Implement Tax-Exempt Grocery Shopping in Perry County



A proposal for tax-free groceries in Perry County is being considered. If the proposal passes, every Wednesday and Thursday customers who shop on those days to purchase groceries will save 3% as the county’s sales tax will be waived.  

Beginning October 4, 2023, customers shopping for groceries in Perry County will enjoy considerable savings due to the county’s sale and use tax reduction on food. If the measure passes when considered at the upcoming September 12 meeting of the Perry County Commission, customers will only have to pay 6% in sales tax on applicable items – a reduction from the normal 10%. This is composed of 3% to the State and 3% to either the City of Marion or Uniontown. This tax cut means customers can save 4% on their grocery expenses when compared to pre-September 1 prices. 

Act 2023-554 outlines that all food items that are approved under the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are tax-exempt in the state of Alabama. This means that all types of fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, dairy, bread, cereals, snack foods, and non-alcoholic beverages will not be taxed when purchased in Alabama. Furthermore, the seeds and plants used to produce food in Perry County are also covered by the law and will not be subject to taxation. 

Senior citizens aged 60 and over who shop at FoodValu on Wednesdays can enjoy a 14% discount on grocery items. This is comprised of the store’s 10% senior discount, combined with an additional 1% savings from the state and 3% from the county. So, on Wednesdays at FoodValu, seniors can save an extra 14% on their grocery items. 

If the new proposal is passed, it will be the first of its kind in the whole state, marking a major milestone since the enactment of the State’s grocery tax bill. Furthermore, it will coincide with the launch of the new Dollar General store along Highway 5 in Marion, providing more convenience and options to residents in the area. 

Neighboring communities are encouraged to join in experiencing the savings that come with shopping locally, and will be especially beneficial for our senior citizens, as they will see a decrease in their grocery bills. 

By taking advantage of store sales, coupons, and the state and county exempt sales tax, as well as the senior discount available at FoodValu in Perry County, Alabama, grocery shoppers can save significantly on their budget. Combining all of these money-saving techniques can make an even bigger difference in savings. 

Chairman Turner Holds Talks with State Treasurer Regarding Uniontown Bank

Alabama Treasurer Young Boozer and Perry County Chairman Turner

The State of Alabama is essential to the success of Citizens Trust in Uniontown 

Citizens Trust, a Georgia chartered bank, currently operates two branches in Alabama and is planning to open a third in the near future. 

Chairman Turner and Alabama State Treasurer Young Boozer met in Orange Beach, Alabama on August 23 to discuss the possibility of increasing the State’s deposits in Citizens Trust Bank in pursuit of the bank’s goal of amassing $15 million in deposits for its Uniontown location. Their decision to meet with the bank’s officers the following week demonstrates their commitment to finding a solution that would provide greater security to the Uniontown area. Treasurer Boozer strongly believes that increased State deposits could be incredibly advantageous for the area and has expressed his hope that by working with the bank the goal of reaching the desired deposit threshold in Uniontown will be achieved.  

Chairman Turner was in high spirits following his conversation with Mr. Boozer about the State’s commitment to investing in minority-owned banks. Acknowledging Alabama’s successful eight-year period of economic stability, Mr. Boozer affirmed the need to spread the benefits of such growth throughout the state. 

Plain and Simple: Pig Pickin’ Cake



For the cake: 

14 ounce can mandarin oranges (1/2 cup juice reserved, drain the rest) 

15.25 ounce box yellow cake mix 

1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup), softened to room temperature 

1/2 cup mandarin orange juice 

4 large eggs 

1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

For the topping: 

20 ounce can crushed pineapple (3/4 cup juice reserved, drain the rest really well) 

3/4 cup juice from the crushed pineapple 

4 ounce box vanilla instant pudding mix 

½ cup powdered sugar 

4 ounces Cool Whip (whipped topping) (half a regular tub) 

extra mandarin orange slices, for garnish 


Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. 

Drain the can of mandarin oranges, setting aside 1/2 cup of the juice (discard the rest of the juice). 

For the cake: combine 15.25 ounce box yellow cake mix, 1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup), 1/2 cup mandarin orange juice, 4 large eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Beat for 3-4 minutes on medium-high. 

Add drained 14 ounce can mandarin oranges and gently stir until combined (leaving some of the oranges chunky). 

Spread batter into prepared baking dish and bake for about 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean (oven times can vary). 

For the frosting: 

Drain the can of crushed pineapples very well, set ting aside 3/4 cups of the juice (discard the rest of the juice). 

Once cake is cool, in a bowl, stir together 3/4 cup juice from the crushed pineapple with 4 ounce box vanilla instant pudding mix. 

Stir in ½ cup powdered sugar. Then fold in 4 ounces Cool Whip (whipped topping). 

Finally, stir in drained 20 ounce can crushed pineapple. Note: if your frosting seems a bit too “liquidy” just add in a little more of the Cool Whip until you get a stiffer consistency. 

Spread frosting on cooled cake. To help the frosting finish setting up, place cake into the refrigerator for at least 3-4 hours before slicing. 

When cooled, slice cake into 12 pieces (while in the pan) and then top each slice with extra mandarin orange slices,. Note: I like to put the cake into the refrigerator for about an hour to help set up the frosting.  

Plain and Simple: Buffalo Chicken Wings with Homemade Ranch



1 1/2 pounds chicken wingettes, thawed 

1 cup buttermilk 

1 1/2 cups self-rising flour 

1 teaspoon paprika 

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper 

1 teaspoon salt 

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 

1/2 teaspoon onion powder 

oil for frying (preferably peanut oil) 

1/2 cup salted butter (1 stick) 

1/4 cup hot sauce, I like Frank’s brand hot sauce 

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 


In one bowl, pour in the buttermilk. 

In another bowl, mix together flour, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, garlic and onion powders. 

Dip each wing in the buttermilk, then coat in the flour mixture. 

Place on a large plate. 

Once you’ve dipped all the wings, allow them to hang out on the plate for about half an hour until the coating gets pasty looking. 

In a Dutch oven or cast iron skillet (or a fryer if you have one), heat oil to 375F degrees (using a thermometer to get an accurate temperature). 

Begin to fry the wings in batches (about 4-5 at a time). Fry them for about 8-10 minutes. 

They should begin to take on a nice golden brown color when they start to get done. If you are frying in a cast-iron skillet, I recommend moving the wings and flipping them around as you go so they don’t stick to the bottom or get too dark in one spot and make sure your skillet is only about 1/2 full of oil before you begin frying. 

When wings are finished, place them on a paper towel-lined plate to drain off the extra oil. 

Meanwhile, in a microwave-safe bowl, melt 1/2 cup of butter in the microwave. When melted, stir in hot sauce and fresh black pepper. 

When all the wings are finished, start coating them in the hot sauce mixture. 

Put about 4-5 wings at a time in the bowl and just roll them around in the mixture until fully coated. Keep going until all wings are coated. 

Serve wings with Ranch Dressing or blue cheese dressing and celery sticks! 

For Ranch


2/3 cup mayonnaise 

1/2 cup buttermilk 

½ cup sour cream 

1 clove garlic, finely minced 

1 teaspoon dried dill (or 1 Tablespoon fresh dill) 

1 teaspoon dried parsley (or 1 Tablespoon fresh parsley) 

1/2 teaspoon onion powder 

1 teaspoon salt 

1/2 teaspoon pepper 


In a medium bowl, whisk together all the ingredients. 

Store in a jar(s) or bowl with a lid in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. 

This dressing will thicken up slightly as it sits in the fridge. 

The Final Stretches of the Turner-Jackson Highway Project


The final stages of the Albert Turner-Jimmie Lee Jackson Memorial Highway project are drawing near, with construction crews busy installing the asphalt surface. Once finished, the entire highway from the Dallas County line to the Marion City limits will be marked, complete with center and outside lines. 

Phase One of the project was completed, with reflectors and a center stripe redone from County Road 6 to the Marion City limits. The outside stripe was then added as part of the new resurfacing of the road. The second phase has been completed, resulting in a new wearing surface along the historic route as the beginning leg of the Selma to Montgomery National Trail. The third and final phase of the project will involve the installation of signage along the highway from the Marion City limits to the Dallas County line. This phase is expected to be completed by the end of August. 

Chairman Turner of the Perry County Commission recently praised the Turner-Jackson Highways project, noting that it is the busiest county road in the county. The project is being supported by the Rebuild Alabama Road program as well as a $250,000.00 grant awarded by Governor Kay Ivey through the ATRIP II program. All in all, this million-dollar project offers an opportunity for economic growth and improved infrastructure. 

Central Alabama Cogongrass Control Workshop to be held September 22


Special to Marion Times Standard 

Cogongrass is one of the most invasive species in Central Alabama, and control can be difficult and costly for landowners and cattle producers across our region. This workshop will include sessions covering identification, herbicide demonstrations, control options/management plans and current landowner assistance programs. The meeting will be held on September 22, 2023, from 8:30am to 3:30pm, at the Blackbelt Research and Extension Center, 60 CR 944 Marion Junction, AL 36759. Register for the FREE workshop at www.aces.edu/event/central-alabama-congongrass-workshop .