O'Barr watches our television
By By LYDIA GRIMES Feature Reporter
Doug O'Barr had just gotten Channel Six back up and running and then it was shut down again by Hurricane Ivan, but things are slowly getting back to normal.
The Brewton television station began broadcasting at Jefferson Davis Community College, but a few months ago the station was moved to Brewton City Hall. It was supposed to take about three weeks to get it up and running there, but it was only recently that the station went on the air with "Coffee with the Mayor and Mabry" and T.R. Miller High School football.
As O'Barr talks, "Coffee with the Mayor and Mabry" is on the screen in the background. It was filmed in the lobby of city hall.
Right now the quarters at city hall are not large but for the time being things are working. There is a stack of electronics that includes three DVD players with one for music; three VHS recorders and eight inputs. Computers are a big part of the operation as O'Barr is also the one who maintains the city computers, in the firehouse, city hall and public library. Some of the equipment belongs to O'Barr, but it will be replaced with city owned equipment.
O'Barr is no stranger to technology. It has been a part of his life for a long time.
He was born and raised in Sylacauga and graduated from Sylacauga High School in 1970. He was a member of the band while attending half days of school and putting in eight hours a day in the cotton mill. He married in 1971 when he was only 19 and his wife, Betty, was 16. They have been married for 33 years.
In 1972 he received a letter from the U.S. Army asking him to report to Fort Campbell, Ken. He served a two-year term and reenlisted in 1974, working in electronics. By that time he and his wife had their first child, Christie, who was born in 1973 while they were at Fort Gordon, Ga. He became an instructor in electronics and went to Germany in 1976 where his second child, Joanna, was born in 1978. The next year they were back at Fort Gordon where he was an instructor in radio fundamentals. In 1980, they had their third daughter, Amy, and in 1981 he was sent to Holland for the next three years working with NATO. He was with Allied Forces Central Europe Repair Department before returning to Fort Gordon in 1984 to be in charge of instructors. In 1987 he went big time when he moved to Washington, D.C., and worked in the White House Communication Agency. He was the senior presidential communication engineer. It was his department's job to survey a city where the president was going to be for the Secret Service Presidential Detail. Anytime the president, his wife or the vice-president was on the move, someone from O'Barr's unit was with them.
After 20 years O'Barr was ready to retire from the military. He wanted to come back to Alabama, and his wife had some relatives who had a vending business in Evergreen. He and his wife wanted to live in a nearby town and Brewton was their choice. He went to work with the vending business that supplies the rest stops between Castleberry and Evergreen.
In 1999 O'Barr took some computer courses and did work study at Jefferson Davis Community College. He was approached by the director of the Alabama Technology Network and was asked if he was interested in coming to work there.
The O'Barrs have one grandchild and another on the way.