The 20th anniversary of the fundraising ball held at the historic Rawls Hotel here Jan. 28 marked two significant “firsts,” according to Bill Brooks, who has served as president of the SOS Animal Shelter board of directors for two decades and is co-chairman of the annual event.
Known for 19 years as the Rawls Ball, the annual fundraiser returned to the historic Rawls Hotel on Main Street from a two-year COVID-related move to the Enterprise Country Club with a new name to better reflect its purpose.
This year’s ball was named the Rawls/Paws Ball for the first time, Brooks said. “And the donation this year to SOS Animal Shelter was $13,850, the largest in the ball’s 20-year history.”
Lee Ann Capps, director of communications and corporate recruiter for Navigator Development Group, served with Brooks as co-chairs of the event titled the “Black and White Masquerade Ball.” Gala-goers were asked to wear black or white attire with the exception of their masquerade masks, which were all the glitz and glamour the wearer wanted, Capps said.
The inaugural Rawls Ball, in this century, was a celebration of the hotel turning 100 in 2003, Capps said. Navigator Development Group is based in the Rawls Hotel and Capps was tasked as organizer of the centennial event.
“Its purpose was to celebrate the hotel’s role as a vital part of our community’s past and future,” Capps said. “Because we planned the centennial ball as a ‘one-and-done’ event, we decided to donate any proceeds to a charity.”
When the decision was made to continue the ball, organizers decided to continue donating any proceeds to area charities. The SOS Animal Shelter was the designated beneficiary in 2005. “We contacted SOS, which we knew was a no-kill shelter here that doesn’t receive any outside funding,” Smith said.
Capps said Brooks and his team of volunteers got to work promoting the Rawls Ball ticket sales. “With their support, we had the largest attendance at the Rawls Ball that year,” she said. “SOS, which was founded in 1981, provides such a great service to the area so the committee voted to make them our permanent charity.”
The ball has an all-volunteer steering committee with the common goal of raising the most money for the shelter possible so each person donates their time and talents, Capps said. “We have a lot of creative people on this committee.”
Capps said that will COVID constraints, the fundraiser was moved to a venue that allowed for outside space and was large enough for social distancing, but with this year being the ball’s 20th anniversary, the decision was made to return home.
Built in 1903, the two-story brick building on Main Street in Enterprise with the entrance facing the railroad tracks, the Rawls Hotel was constructed by Virginia native Japheth Rawls, who was in the turpentine business and had moved to Enterprise in search of new pine forests.
The hotel was first named the McGee Hotel after the general manger James Henry McGee. He and his family lived in the hotel,” Capps said. “It eventually became the Hotel Rawls.”
In 1928 a third floor was added but with the decline of the passenger trains the hotel’s customers declined, the building condition deteriorated, and by 1978 was headed for demolition when Hayden Pursely bought it and spent some three years restoring the 64,000 square-foot building. It has been listed in the National Historic Register since Sept. 7, 1980. Keith Gay, owner of Development Group Inc., has owned the Rawls Building since 1999.
Read Across America Week is celebrated from March 2 to 6 every year. It begins on the birthday of the renowned author, Dr. Seuss. The entire month is dedicated to encouraging reading and includes having special guests come to read to school children.
The Dothan Kiddie Center in Enterprise had Enterprise Mayor William Cooper, Enterprise City Councilwoman Sonya Rich, and Enterprise Schools Superintendent Dr. Zel Thomas as special guest readers.
A longtime educator and band director before being elected mayor, Cooper read “My Voice is a Trumpet,” said Kishia Safford, center owner. “He said he will bring back his trumpet to play for them the next time he visits.
“The class learned about Mayor Cooper being the first black mayor of Enterprise as part of our unit for Black History Month,” Safford said. “The children first thought he was the president of Enterprise.”
The New Brockton Pageants are Saturday, April 22, with Baby, Toddler, Tiny, Petite, Young, and Teen Miss competition held on Saturday at 2 p.m. and Future, Little, Junior and Miss at 6 p.m. This year’s theme is “Boots and Bling: It’s a Cowgirl Thing.”
All age divisions are open to any girl that would like to enter except for Little Miss, which is first graders only in New Brockton Elementary School or with a New Brockton address, and Miss, which is 11th grade years of age in New Brockton School or up to age 21 with a New Brockton address.
A meeting for all interested in participating is March 19 at the New Brockton High School Auditorium, 210 South Tyler Street in New Brockton. All entry forms and information will be handed out that day and must be completed and turned in on this day with the entry fee at the following times:
2 p.m.— Baby, Toddler and Tiny Miss. Entry fee is $75. All of these divisions are open. No interview, fee covers pageant, photogenic – two pictures of your choice. Baby Miss is from birth to 15 months; Toddler Miss is 16 months to 23 months and Tiny Miss is two and three year olds.
2 p.m.— Petite, Young and Teen Miss. Entry fee is $85. All of these divisions are open. Entry fee includes interview, pageant entry and photogenic – two pictures of your choice. Petite Miss is for second and third graders, Young Miss is fourth and fifth graders and Teen Miss is sixth and seventh graders.
3 p.m.—Future and Little Miss. Entry fee is $85. Future Little Miss is open to anyone that would like to participate and Little Miss for New Brockton Elementary School first graders. Entry fee includes interview, pageant entry and photogenic – two pictures of your choice and written for Little Miss only. Future Little Miss is for four and five year olds and six year olds in Kindergarten. Little Miss is for NBES first graders.
3 p.m.—Junior and Miss. Entry fee is $85. Junior Miss is open to eighth and 10th graders. Miss is for New Brockton High School 11th and 12 graders or those up to age 21 who have a New Brockton address. Entry fee includes interview, pageant entry and photogenic – two pictures of your choice—and written for Miss only.
3:30 p.m. is a 2022 Queens meeting.
Contact Angi Oakes and (334) 470-0458 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and forms.
Elba High School History Teacher Al Gilmore was selected as the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution John Coffee Chapter Outstanding Teacher of American History.
John Coffee DAR Historian Nell Gilmer submitted his package to State Historian Susan Moore and he was selected as the DAR State Outstanding Teacher of American History and will now compete for the national title.
Gilmore graduated from Troy University with a degree in Social Science and a minor in Political Science. His father, Lyvon Gilmore, was a teacher and administrator in the Alabama and Georgia public school system for over 32 years. His mother, Frances Gilmore, was a teacher in the Alabama public school system for 30 years before she retired. Gilmore’s parents taught him the value of learning not just his own personal history, but the history of the country and the world. They taught him that looking into the past can help shape the future.
Gilmore has been a teacher for 16 years with the last five as a history teacher in the Elba school system. His teaching philosophy is simple; according to Gilmore, his students must be able to read and research information on their own and put that information into sentence or essay form.
“Most importantly, they must be able to answer the question ‘why.’ The students may have any point of view they choose, but if they cannot explain ‘why’ they believe the way they do, then their explanation has no real value,” he said.