Camp Hill to name city buildings after Philstavious Dowdell and Karmeshae Thomas

Camp Hill, Alabama
Camp Hill, Alabama(Source: City of Camp HIll)
Published: May. 8, 2023 at 2:50 PM CDT
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CAMP HILL, Ala. (WTVM) - The city of Camp Hill, Alabama, is naming two buildings in their Municipal Complex after two young residents who lost their lives.

One is Phil Dowdell, who passed away during the deadly mass shooting in Dadeville almost three weeks ago at his sister’s Sweet 16 birthday party and Karmesahe Thomas, a well-known resident within the Camp Hill community who lost her life in a car accident in 2014.

Camp Hill’s Municipal Complex buildings were purchased in 2021, formally known as Camp Hill Baptist Church. Mayor Messiah Williams-Cole said they’ve been calling the buildings Town Hall and the Council Building since the purchase.

“For the past four or five months, we’ve been trying to decide on names for it,” said Mayor Williams-Cole.

It wasn’t until the recent deadly mass shooting in Dadeville that Mayor Williams-Cole heard one of Camp Hill’s own, Philstavious Dowdell, was shot at his sister’s birthday party. This prompted the nominations on who the two buildings would be named after.

“Just knowing that it happened to him and knowing that something that had happened so close to home and affected our citizens, my citizen’s people that I grew up with,” he said. “Phil has always been in my life, no because he and I are family but because he literally grew up four-minute walk from my house.”

Next Monday, in a city council meeting, city officials will vote on the council building to be named “Philstavious L. Dowdell Memorial Community Building” and Town Hall to be named “Karmeshae N. Thomas Memorial Town Hall.”

Karmeshae Thomas was a beloved member of the Camp Hill community. The 19-year-old tragically lost her life in a car accident in 2014.

She was set to attend the Southern Union State community college in Wadley to play volleyball. Her sister, Ashanti Thomas, said her death had a major impact on the community.

“She was very sweet, very ambitious, very smart. She had this energy that would like light up the room, you know, like that would make people gravitate toward her,” said Ashanti.

Karmeshae Thomas was known as a star athlete and straight-A student who also took on the responsibility of a full-time mother while attending Dadeville High School.

“It’s legendary to me. I feel like that’s something that my niece will always be able to look at and be like. That building is named after my mom because the impact she had on the community and the people around it,” said Ashanti.

Ashanti Thomas is in the mental health field and is currently in school to be a counselor to help those who have been through traumatic experiences like herself. She was in the car with her sister when the accident took place, along with Karmeshae’s boyfriend and her daughter. Ashanti said she wants to help change the world and help others struggling with coping.

“I feel like if I got through it, I can help somebody else.”

Mayor Williams-Cole said he hopes the community will attend the city council meeting Monday to support.

“I wanted to choose two people who I thought positive of, two people who I thought represented what it was like to be a good Camp Hillian.”

If the resolutions do pass on Monday at the city council meeting, the official renaming will be celebrated next year at their annual Black History Month event on February 29th.

The mayor said since the hail storm that took place a few months ago, it’s done a lot of damage to the buildings, and he wants to make sure everything is taken care of before they officially name the buildings after both Phil and Karmeshae.