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Orenza Waddell – Quietly impacting students for generations

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Shelia Mader

Shelia Mader

Sports Editor

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End of summer cleanup planned by Jackson County Parks and Rec

With summer coming to an end, there are fewer people exercising the use of the Chipola River with tubes, boats, kayaks and canoes. With the holiday, this past weekend, what the last of the tubers, and kayakers saw was trash, trash and more trash.  Efforts have been stepped up with measures taken to help alleviate those leaving trash but it’s been far from 100% successful. 

Jackson County officials have organized a cleanup event, to float down and pick up the garbage on the way for Saturday September 8.  Volunteers will kickoff the event at 8 a.m. 

Jackson County Parks and Recreation Director, Rett Daniels is asking volunteers to bring their own flotation device, canoes, or kayaks to help with the process. The county and volunteers will have larger boats to facilitate hauling the trash from there. 

The cleanup will start at the Spring Creek dock on Highway 90 in Marianna and end at Magnolia Bridge.

Daniels said, “We have experienced some high water here in recent weeks so a lot of things from roadways and things like that have washed in and they get deposited up from high water and when the water recedes it gets left on the bank and all it takes is another flood to pick it up and carry it on down the stream.” 

To sign up to volunteer, call the Jackson County Parks and Recreation Department at (850)718-0437 or email .

Orenza Waddell – Quietly impacting students for generations

Orenza Waddell is the last person to want any fanfare brought to him for a job he considers his calling. Waddell is a soft-spoken gentleman who has made day-to-day differences in the lives of those he comes into contact with through his job at Malone School. He teaches social studies to 9-12 grade students.

Principal Doug Powell says of Waddell, “He’s the best. The students love him and he is an amazing man. 

Kim Barber has had the pleasure of working with Waddell and sings his praises, “Mr. Waddell is an awesome teacher and is admired/respected by his coworkers as well as his students, past and present. He teaches in a quiet voice, but it echoes for years in the minds of his students. In my years at Malone, I’ve never heard anyone say anything bad about him. He’s a very quiet but you can observe the students in his room soaking in everything he has to say.” 

Kacee Floyd is now a teacher at Malone and quickly credits Waddell for the impact he made on her life, “It is because of Mr. Waddell’s respect and love of others that his students respect and love him in return. I am grateful for the influence he had on my life as a student, as well as the example he sets as a colleague.”

Toyka Holden worked alongside Waddell prior to moving to the assistant principal’s position at Golson, “Many people are unaware of probably one of the quietest(literally) and strongest teacher-leaders in Jackson County.  Mr. Waddell’s strength is evident in the manner in which he manages his classroom while gaining the respect of students, parents, and colleagues.  Even without a booming voice, his presence speaks volumes in the school. I truly enjoyed working with and learning from Reverend Waddell.” 

Lisa Tidwell has had the pleasure of not only teaching with Waddell for many years, her son Michael had him as a teacher, “My son Michael McArthur had Mr. Waddell in high school and he has said repeatedly that he was the best teacher at Malone that prepared him for Chipola 

and FSU.”

As far as being a co-worker of Waddell’s, Tidwell is equally impressed with him, “I personally think so much of him.  He is willing to do whatever needs doing to help the kids, coworkers or the school.  This year, he gave up his planning period to divide his class of seniors taking economics to all could take the class. He is such an inspiration and great role model for our students. I think very highly of him. I have been paired with him for lunch duty for several years and I love working with him. He is reliable, competent, exceptional, a rare jewel in today’s world.  Our students are lucky to have him.”

Teachers come and go in our lives and our children’s lives and ones like Orenza Waddell who make a difference that impacts us for a lifetime are few and far between. Kudos to Orenza Waddell for making a difference and going the extra mile for his students. 

Fred Cook – Air Force strong for his country

Fred Cook served in the Air Force, joining in November of 1961. He retired 21 years later in August of 1982.  Against his mom’s wishes, Cook left Graceville High School to join the Air Force. 

When asked why he chose the Air Force Cook said, “That is a good question, one is I loved aircrafts. I was a sharecropper’s son, farmhand and I’m from Graceville. I would be out in the field working in Graceville and then Graham Air Force Base was going in and planes would fly over where we lived and would do their training. I said, ‘One day I’m going to get out of this cotton patch and go in the Air Force.’ That’s kind of why I chose the Air Force.”

Cook says of his first assignment in the Air Force, “My first assignment was of course basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. When I first went in the Air Force, I was in the fire department in crash rescue. That school was at Greenville Air Force Base in Greenville, Mississippi. I served in the fire department for approximately three years. Then rank was frozen and you couldn’t move up so I needed to cross-train into a different career field. So, I cross-trained into helicopters and served in ‘Special Operations.’  I started as a mechanic, then crew chief where you’re responsible for the helicopter and the operation of the helicopter. Then came flight mechanic with the additional duties of ‘door gunner.’  I was ‘Door Gunner’ and then later they changed our title to ‘Flight Engineer’, as helicopters got more complicated.” 

When asked where his training took place Cook said, “I went to Wichita Falls, Texas at Shepard’s Air Force Base for training. Back to Eglin Air Force Base for my first assignment and from Eglin I went to Thailand in 1966.” 

Cook says it was very active over in Thailand at that time. He says, “In fact we flew combat missions out of Thailand into Cambodia, Laos and other places we can’t name. Then rotated back to the States and nine months laterI had a set of orders back to Vietnam and spent another 12 months flying combat missions.” 

Cook talked about his experiences flying combat missions, “We did some rescue pickups, but mostly what my outfit did was special operations. We flew across the river into Cambodia and Laos and we worked with Army field special forces in search and recognizance teams in and out, prisoner snatch teams, info gathering teams in and out of places they needed to go. I was shot down twice, but the Lord was with me and he had other plans for me.” 

When asked if he was injured Cook said, “No ma’am, the Lord blessed me in that. I was shot down twice and many times my helicopters would come back filled with holes, but I was never wounded.”

Cook was not in Vietnam when it ended. He was in Vietnam from 1968-1969. 

From Vietnam, Cook went to Bergstrom Air Force Base in Austin, Texas. He was assigned to former President Lyndon B. Johnson’s helicopter after Johnson was out of office. Cook was able to meet the President, “After that, then they were talking about the possibility of another tour to Vietnam, so I went into recruiting for a while. I recruited for the Air Force in Albany, Georgia. After Albany, Georgia I went to Korea. This was in I think, ’72 I’m not real sure on that. After Korea, I went to Hill Air Force Base in Ogden Utah assigned to helicopters. Following that assignment, I was at Hurlburt Field Florida, in special ops, ’73-’74, something like that. The powers that be decided they would close down the 20th Special Ops Helicopter Squadron and they transferred our helicopters to reserve units. I was asked to go to the reserve unit at Luke Air Force Base in Phoenix, Arizona. They were transitioning from rescue to special ops and I was asked to go as an advisor to the reserve unit. I was there two or three years, I don’t remember exactly. The powers that be decided that the Air Force did need a Special Ops Squadron so they reactivated the 20th and transferred me back to Hurlburt Field. I was there for three years maybe and that’s when I tried recruiting again. I went to Pembroke Pines for a couple of years, then they transferred me to Lexington, Kentucky as a supervisor for that region. I was there two years and transferred back to Hurlburt Field, where I stayed until I retired.”

 After retirement Cook said, “Actually, God called us in to some kind of fulltime work. We didn’t know what, so when we retired from the Air Force we went back home to Graceville and I enrolled in college, back then it was BBI (Baptist Bible Institute). I went to school and I lasted two semesters and I had trouble transitioning from a Special Ops Air Force high adrenaline rush job. As a door gunner, you’re standing in the door of a helicopter like that up there, or like these two here, and go into landing zones to pick up teams you had put in. Again, going from there to school, I had trouble transitioning, so I went into law enforcement with the City of Graceville. Off and on, I was there a little over 10 years, but during that time I worked with the school board in truancy and I worked for HRS as a child abuse investigator.” 

Lowell Centers was the superintendent at the time Cook worked with the school board. Cook says of Centers, “He was a history teacher. If you want to get him side tracked ask him how many jumps he made, because he was a paratrooper in the Army. He would start talking about that and you had him off. We weren’t smart enough to realize we were going to be tested over this material anyway.”

Cook went on to say, “Working in law enforcement, I kind of got settled down and I went back to school and finished my bachelor’s. I went on to Troy and completed a master’s degree.”

Cook’s bachelor’s degree is in Theology and his master’s is in Counseling Psychology, “During that time God really spoke to us and he called us his missionaries. My wife and I, we’ve served with the Southern Baptist International Mission Board for five and half years. Our country assignment was Mexico.”

Cook and his wife were in and out of Mexico during those five and a half years. They would be there a couple of years come back to America for a break and go back again. Cook then opened a ministry center in Dothan in 2003 and he was there for three and a half years. In 2007, Cook decided it was time to retire, he did and his retirement lasted just four months. Cook says that he can’t do ‘retired’ and the director of missions in Jackson County at the Chipola Baptist Association Coba Beasley asked him if he would come as the director of the ministry’s center. This month will be Cook’s 11th anniversary at the ministry center. Cook says in 2010 the ministry center distributed 123,352 pounds of food to 7,000 people and last year they distributed 358, 000 pounds to over 24,000 people. 

Cook served his country and continues to serve the people of Jackson County with the same integrity.

Cross-county football rivalry goes to Sneads

  • Published in Sports

Cross-county rivalries are the best in high school football and none is more rivaled than the Sneads Pirates and Cottondale Hornets.  Last year, it was the Hornets hosting and they walked away with a 40-28 win.  Sneads didn’t like the sour taste that first game loss left in their mouths and had an entire year to let it gnaw at their insides. Last Friday night, they had a chance to redeem themselves when Cottondale opened their season on Pirate territory.  And that they did, with a 32-16 victory over the visiting Hornets.

Cottondale won the toss and elected to defer to the second half, putting the Pirates on offense first. The opening kickoff resulted in a penalty landing Sneads on the Cottondale 40-yard line and a short field to work with. Courtavious Garrett scurried inside the five to make it first and goal with just minutes off the clock.  With 9:18 in the first quarter, Sneads was in the endzone with six points on the scoreboard.  The kick was wide right but the Pirates were up 8-0.

Cottondale answered back quickly on their first drive of the game. Early in the second quarter, Dalvin Barnes found the endzone from five yards out to tie the game at six but that lasted for only a second. A two-point conversion behind the legs of Barnes gave the Hornets an 8-6 lead that held until half time.  

After the halftime break, it was a battle with Cottondale picking up a touchdown and a conversion but Sneads coming through four.  All five touchdowns came on the ground for the Pirates with the Hornets mixing it up in the air for one and on the ground for one. 

Cottondale went to the air on a 21-yard pass from Barnes to Logan Pumphrey for their final touchdown of the game. It was again Barnes crossing the white line for the conversion, giving Cottondale 12 points. 

Calvin Stringer showed up and showed out for the Pirates with four touchdowns, 116 yards on 15 attempts.  His longest run was 43 yards.  

Courtavious Garrett finished the night atop the leaderboard with 172 yards on eight carries and one touchdown.  On board with 30 yards on three carries was Trent Smith with Alonzo Hill carrying the ball seven times for 27 yards. 

Defensively, Jay Nathan Hayes led the team in tackles with seven solo and one assist, followed by Colton Mercer and Zach Thomas with three solo tackles each.  Mercer added six assisted tackles.  Ryder McDaniel was on board with two solo tackles and three assists, followed by Ryan Cloud and Matthew Thomas with one tackle each.  

Mercer nailed two punts for 64 yards.  

Sneads will be on the road at Jefferson County Friday night with a 6:00 p.m. kickoff while Cottondale opens at home again Jay. Kickoff for the Hornets will be 7:00 p.m.   Jefferson County is coming off a 50-21 loss to Dixie County last Friday night.  Jay will be looking to break into the win column following a 27-0 shutout by Flomaton Friday night.

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