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State rep honors legendary coach, teacher

At the presentation, from left, Rep. Alan Baker, Mavis Torrence, Dr. Marian Torrence

News Staff Writer

A state legislature came to the Monday, August 14, Atmore City Council meeting to honor a local coaching legend several months after his burial.
District 66 Rep. Alan Baker presented to the widow of the late Cornell Torrence a resolution that was passed by the Alabama House of Representatives in honor of Torrence, who passed away in March, as well as a certificate signed by Gov. Kay Ivey and the flag that flew over the state capitol on April 4.
“I would have loved for this to have happened sooner than later, but as things happened since his passing back in March, there was a desire for me to try and do what I could as quickly as possible in Montgomery,” the state legislator said. “But sometimes the wheels of government don’t move as quickly as one would like.”
Baker then read House Resolution 55, professing “profound sadness over his (Torrence’s) death” and pointing out that he was a respected teacher and coach in Escambia County from 1956 until his retirement in 1995.
The resolution also included that Torrence, for whom the Escambia County High School (ECHS) gym is named, taught physical education and coached football and basketball at Escambia County Training School from 1956 until 1970. His teams amassed 545 wins under his guidance.
He eventually became head basketball coach and assistant football coach at ECHS, including 1974 and 1983, when the school won its only two state championships to date. The resolution also noted that Torrence worked 45 years as a lifeguard at Houston Avery Park before becoming the park’s director, and that he served two terms on the Atmore City Council.
“Coach Cornell Torrence’s death is recorded with deep sadness, and this tribute is offered to his life and with heartfelt sympathy to his family, whose grief is shared by many,” concluded the formal legislative expression.
Baker presented the documents and the flag to Mavis Torrence, who was married to the late honoree for 68 years and who sat with their daughter, Dr, Marian Torrence, during the presentation.
Baker ended the discourse with assurances that the community leader would not soon be forgotten.
“This doesn’t end our celebration of his life and legacy,” the state lawmaker said. “It goes on forever and ever.”
The council, sitting one member short as District 5’s Chris Harrison was unable to attend, also approved a resolution to purchase a new siren-based weather warning system.
Mayor Jim Staff said the new system, which will cost $48,950.67 and be located near the SAIL Center on East Ridgeley Street, is “one that can be heard all over the City of Atmore.”
In other business Monday, the council:
*Approved a request from Atmore Memorial VFW Auxiliary to use Heritage Park for a stuffed animal drive. The community outreach project, which will take place from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturday, September 16, is to collect small-to- medium-size stuffed animals and give them to Atmore and Poarch emergency responders for domestic and other calls that involve children.
*Approved the transfer of the ABC license for Chevron Diamond 22 to Atmore Convenience 3 LLC. The transfer was previously approved by the Alabama Alcoholic Beverages Control Board.
*Appointed David Dobson to a three-year term on the city’s Board of Zoning Adjustments and appointed Will Hendrix as board alternate.
*Reappointed Anthony Marshall to the Atmore Library Board.
Also during the meeting, the mayor read a proclamation designating the 2023-24 school term as a Student Attendance Awareness period in the city. The proclamation includes that attendance is critical to a child’s education and stresses the negative effect chronic absenteeism has on that education.
“This is trying to get our students to come to school,” Staff said before reading the document. “I think all schoolteachers will tell you how important it is for a child to go to school and have regular attendance. That teaches them what they got [sic] to do when they go to work.”
The proclamation was provided to the city by Dr. Eric Andrews, Guidance and Attendance Supervisor with the Escambia County School System.

Honoring Coach Torrence Several members of the Progressive Civic & Recreational Club attended Monday’s City Council meeting as State Representative Alan Baker honored the late Cornell Torrence. Among his many contributions to education, athletics and the city, Coach Torrence was a past president and faithful member of PCRC. Shown are members at the council meeting with Rep. Baker and Mavis Torrence.