Mining layoffs, image seen in hospital door topped headlines in 1983

Posted 1/4/19

In the tradition of starting a new year by making lists about the last one, let's take a look back at the top 10 stories from 35 years ago. We'll start with number 10 from the special section …

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Mining layoffs, image seen in hospital door topped headlines in 1983


In the tradition of starting a new year by making lists about the last one, let's take a look back at the top 10 stories from 35 years ago. We'll start with number 10 from the special section published by the Daily Mountain Eagle on Dec. 31, 1983.

• Mother Nature busy during '83

Snow blanketed the county on Jan. 20 and again on March 24.

August was one of the hottest months on record. After five straight days of temperatures rising over 100 degrees, the Carbon Hill schools released children early due to a lack of air conditioning. 

In November, a tornado touched down in Curry and caused $60,000 in damage to an Alabama Power substation.

The year ended with the coldest temperatures ever recorded for Walker County in December. The high on Christmas Day was 12 degrees.

• Med center broadens services

Walker County Medical Center was renamed Walker Regional Medical Center and switched to local administration after severing ties with its management agency of nearly three years. 

The hospital also implemented a policy that only licensed professionals would handle direct patient care. Positions previously filled by unlicensed personnell such as orderlies and nurses aides were eliminated.

• Bids for "change" OK'd, rejected

Residents in several cities and towns contemplated whether the grass would be greener under a different form of government.

In May, Dora switched from a commission to the mayor-council form used prior to 1980.

Cordova, meanwhile, adopted the commission form, and Carbon Hill voters rejected it in separate referendums in July.

Residents of Jasper had voted in 1981 to adopt a mayor-council form, but it had yet to be implemented. During the delay, the Jasper Committee of Concerned Citizens had filed a federal lawsuit alleging racial discrimination in the city's municipal election procedure. The suit alleged that at-large elections discriminated against black residents, a claim bolstered by the fact that no African American had served as an elected official in Jasper to that point.

• Lisa becomes state's first lady

Lisa Taylor Wallace of Jasper had no idea when she married George Wallace in 1981 that he would be running for governor again. Wallace began his fourth term in office on Jan. 17, 1983.

Wallace told the Eagle she tried to keep a low profile and spend as much time as possible with her eight-year-old son.

• Conflict follows Cordova council

The vote to switch to a commission form of government came after months of firings, hirings and suspensions by the Cordova City Council.

Police Chief Roy Bunn had been suspended without pay in January. Bunn, who was formally dismissed in April, sued the city over $25,000 in overtime pay that he said he was owed.

In July, Police Chief Marvin Wilcutt and City Clerk Mary Kelly were suspended by Mayor Boyd Jackson over "refusal to cooperate with the mayor's office." Both were later reinstated.

• Door draws national attention

Seventeen-year-old Ray Naramore, a Martin High School student who had been in a motorcycle accident, was dangerously close to death in Walker Regional Medical Center's operating room when his father saw an image in a door leading to one-day surgery. Many believed the face was that of Jesus. 

Naramore made a full recovery, and more than 130,000 people visited the door in 1983 alone.

• Rebels fourth in national tourney

Walker College had the fourth best basketball team in the nation in 1983. The Rebels, who finished the year with a 29-4 record, lost their only two regular season games after Coach Glen Clem suffered a heart attack on Nov. 22. Going into the National Junior College Tournament, the team had a 17-game winning streak.

• Grant monies flow into county

The largest grant awarded during 1983 was $515,150 to Oakman for a three-year revitalization program. Other significant grants included $350,000 to construct a sewer system for East Walker residents, more than $46,000 for park improvements in Jasper, Nauvoo and Sumiton and $150,000 to pave streets in Dora.

• Remap prompts special election

After being in office for only a year, Walker County's legislative delegation had to seek election again after a federal court approved a new reapportionment plan. District 14 Rep. Carl Brakefield of Carbon Hill, District 5 Sen. Charles Bishop of Jasper and District 13 Rep. Tom Nicholson of Jasper all returned to Montgomery representing districts that looked vastly different due to reapportionment.

• Shutdowns leave miners jobless

There were 2,500 coal miners out of work in Walker County by the end of 1983. The national turndown in the industry was blamed on imports of foreign steel and automobiles.

T.J. Phillips of Nauvoo, who had worked at Alabama ByProducts for 26 years, expressed the frustrations of many miners as he left his last shift in September: "What else are we going to do after working in the mines so long? I don't know how to farm or pulpwood. All I've done all my life and all I know how to do is mine. I'm too old to start somewhere else and too young to retire so all I can do now is get my unemployment. One thing about a coal mine — we don't get a whole lot when we don't mine coal."

Jennifer Cohron is the Daily Mountain Eagle's features editor.