Friday, January 20, 2017

A New Day/A Word from the Midnight Rider


We're not yet 1/12th of the way through 2017 and we have a new president, a leader who promises economic improvement. Sure, we'll have to take his peccadilloes along with the improvements he makes, but the American people did that with Bill Clinton. Let's see how it works out...

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UNA and Division One
By: The Midnight Rider
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This article is about the University of North Alabama and their move to Division 1. This has been going on for years. I remember reading about this back in 1995. It seemed that Steve Pierce wanted this move. Maybe it was his pet project. Flash forward to 2017 and the announcement has been made that the University of North Alabama will be moving to a Division 1 ranking.
Okay, let’s look at this. First and Foremost, that aspect that should be focused on the most is Education. Does the move to Division 1, help the Education of the Students? Education is what keeps the doors open at the University of North Alabama. Parents and Students alike pay Tuition to gain this Education. If this move helps with the Education, we should be for it.
However, the move to Division 1 is not about Education, it is about Sports, namely Football. My thought process is if the University of North Alabama had dominated their Football Division, say for years, maybe it is time for a change. However, the last time the University of North Alabama won that Division Title was in the mid-1990s, with Coach Bobby Wallace at the helm. Now, Coach Wallace almost did it this past year. But now he has retired.
We are a long way from the mid-1990s. There have been several Coaches that have tried to bring that Championship home to Florence. Hudspeth couldn’t do it. Terry Bowden couldn’t do it. Of course, that was a disaster in and upon itself. Why would the University of North Alabama move when they haven’t conquered that area yet?
With the move to Division 1, what about the facilities that the University of North Alabama have now? Are they going to have to build a new Stadium? Are they going to have to build another Baseball Field?  It seems like every time I go out to the mailbox, I am getting something from the University of North Alabama about sponsorships for the University.
I was a student at the University of North Alabama. I paid my Tuition. I did my time there.  I got my Education. If the University needs money for different things, maybe this move should have be postponed or not done at all.
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I am and always will be, the Midnight Rider.

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Another extremely pertinent article from the MR. So how's the new roof for Collier Library coming along? Three who blog here attended UNA, so we're extremely interested in its continued well-being. We welcome both information and comments.




Thursday, January 19, 2017

New Colbert Jail in This Lifetime?


Colbert commission reactivates jail committee - January 6, 2017 

Let's hope THIS TIME, the commissioners will not get side-tracked!

Just a trip down memory lane and reading past news articles from many years, it's no secret this is a worn out debate on financing. It's time to roll up your sleeves, prioritize budgets and get this done.

We hope every local government entity will examine their own spending and cut the excess.

Time for a little common sense budgeting and cut the fluff!!!

Just a FEW of the previous articles - (just back to 2003) - many of our children and grandchildren are growing up reading about the need of a jail. Wonder if their children and grandchildren will still be laughing at this situation?


Colbert closer to new jail - Feb 4, 2003

TUSCUMBIA - An intergovernmental committee studying the construction of a metropolitan jail for Colbert County will recommend its choice of architect to commissioners in two weeks.

County Commissioner Troy Woodis, who is chairman of the committee, said the recommendation will be presented to the commission during its meeting Tuesday, Feb. 5. The commission is required by law to oversee the county jail.

Preliminary cost estimates of the jail range from $8 million-$12 million. Cherokee Mayor Chuck Lansdell, a member of the committee, said the true cost won’t be known until contractors submit construction bids.

The committee also expects to find out whether Helen Keller Hospital will sell 8.5 acres on Avalon Avenue to build the 200-plus bed facility. Woodis said the hospital’s board is expected to make a decision soon. The land is on the north side of Avalon in Sheffield.

The committee has not made a recommendation on paying for jail construction and operation. The most frequently discussed method is adding a fee to all court cases filed in municipal courts and circuit court in Colbert. A $35 fee has been mentioned.


Colbert leaders look into jail cost - June 13, 2007

TUSCUMBIA -- If work began today, it would take roughly three years to complete a new Colbert County jail, a contractor told county commissioners Tuesday.

"Right now, we're just looking," Commission Chairman Rex Burleson said. "We're not proposing anything at this point."

Moore and his associates will provide the commission with two cost estimates.

One will be for a new jail built on the site of the existing jail and another for a new facility on property adjoining the county road department on Alabama 157.

Burleson said the commission will discuss funding options once they see the cost estimates.

Commissioner Troy Woodis said the commission is considering a facility that would house 175 to 225 prisoners.

The existing jail was designed to house 62 prisoners, but Sheriff Ronnie May said it consistently holds 100 or more.

May earlier told commissioners that about 24 inmates were awaiting transfer to state prison facilities.


Colbert County Jail in need of replacing - May 12, 2009

The county needs a new jail, but the commission must address one major issue - how to pay for it.

"That jail thing has been lying there dormant for a number of years," Commissioner Roger Creekmore said. "We realize there's some issues with the existing jail. We want to go ahead and be proactive now about addressing those issues."

Creekmore wants the commission to explore how much a new jail will cost and options for funding it.

Colbert County Sheriff Ronnie May said many of the jail's problems are because of its age.

The jail was designed to hold 62 inmates, but as of May 5, it contained 88 prisoners. May said as many as 125 inmates have been in the jail at one time.

He said the way the jail was built makes it difficult for jailers to monitor prisoners. There is a video surveillance system, but some of the cameras are inoperable and the system does not have a recording function.

"Ideally, we want cameras that monitor physical activity and record it," May said.

The last jail renovation project was in 1986 when the interior was painted and new flooring installed. Broken welds on metal bed frames were repaired. May said the dispatch area has also been renovated.

Security officer Heath Halcomb has been working at the jail for 11 years.

"There are sinks that don't work and toilets that don't flush," he said during a tour of the facility. "There are recurring problems with the plumbing."

Assistant Chief Deputy Mike Aday said freezers and refrigerators are in two or three separate locations in the building and food items often have to be brought from an upstairs storage room downstairs to the kitchen.

A small downstairs pantry is stocked with cans of hominy, peas, green beans, pork and beans, and containers of grits and oatmeal.

On a recent Wednesday, the cook and two inmate workers were preparing food trays with hamburgers, french fries and two cookies.

"It's their favorite meal," Aday said.

The lack of sufficient pantry space requires jail personnel to order food items on a weekly basis, he said.

The jail lacks a place for inmates to exercise outside. During Sunday visitation, friends or family stand outside the cells to speak to inmates through an opening in the cell's metal doors.

In the basement, among a maze of pipes and conduit, sit two industrial washing machines. Across from the washers are stacks of mattresses.

Aday was unsure what some of the electronic junction boxes and wiring attached to a wall were for and whether they were still being used.

He said the recommendation of the last grand jury that toured the facility was to build a new jail.

May said each time the fire marshal, insurance inspector, state jail inspector or health department inspector comes through, they leave a list of items that need to be corrected. The kitchen, however, received a 93 rating from the health department on the inspector's last visit.

"The fire marshal seems to be the one who has been more extensive in his reports about what needs to be repaired," May said.

James Brumley, the county's general fund accountant, said about $200,000 has been spent on jail maintenance in the past five years. The money spent on maintenance is far less than bond payments on a new facility.

Creekmore, one of the commission's two newest members, wants to start looking at what a new jail would cost."We could sit here all day and guess what a new jail is going to cost, how many beds do we need, how are we going to finance it, where are we going to locate it," he said. "We need someone in here with experience in a consulting capacity to help answer those questions."

May said he has asked for a new jail, which would include a sheriff's office, in each of his budget requests dating back to 1999.

The commission had an architect work on a jail design several years ago, Commissioner Troy Woodis said. Woodis was a member of a jail committee that May said met for a time, but interest apparently waned and the meetings became less frequent."The commission received a $10 million cost estimate four years ago, the sheriff said. A new jail would likely cost much more.

May said renovating the jail is not an option."You cannot increase the capacity," he said. "The only way would be to strip out the whole interior and put cells on the second and third floors."

The most popular idea has been a consolidated jail that would house county inmates as well as inmates from Muscle Shoals, Sheffield, Tuscumbia, Cherokee, Leighton and Littleville."The capacity would be increased to hold around 250-275 inmates," the sheriff said.

Commissioner Rex Burleson likes the idea of a judicial building that would include what May was describing. With the current shape of the economy, however, Burleson said the county doesn't have the money to build it.

"I'm not saying we don't need it," he said.Burleson said the expense doesn't end after the jail is built."It's an ongoing thing and you have to look at the expenses after you build it," Burleson said.

"I don't know what the funding mechanism is going to be," Woodis said. "That's what we come back to every time. If you do not have the money to pay back the loan or the bond or however you finance it, you can't do it."

The county does not want a federal judge to order the construction of a new jail."Where the community and the (residents) are going to lose is if the federal courts get involved," May said. "Historically, they have a lot of requirements in the facilities they order done. The cost increases substantially. I've talked to sheriffs all over the state that have been ordered federally to have new facility done. Each one said the cost has been anywhere from $4 million to $6 million more."

Federal court action led to the construction of a new jail in Lauderdale County.In 1993, a U.S. District judge ordered the Lauderdale County Commission to levy an additional 2 mill ad valorem tax to fund the construction of a new jail, county administrator Jenoice Bevis said.The jail was completed in December 1995 at a cost of nearly $6 million, Bevis said.The commission removed the tax in October 2003 after the bonds used to fund the construction were paid off."In October 2001, it was reduced because we knew we would not need the whole two mills to finish it out," Bevis said.

Franklin County avoided federal intervention when the county commission agreed to replace the facility, which was the second oldest jail still in operation in the state at the time. The jail cost the county about $11 million and comfortably houses 140 inmates, Sheriff Larry Plott said. Under most federal court orders now, they maintain jurisdiction over it for two years, so essentially they will be running it," Plott said.



Leslie M. Shoals

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A reader has questioned the sexual torture charge against Nathan Paul Bougher, accused of the physical and sexual abuse of his one-month old son. We agree; it would be extremely difficult to prove Bougher used a foreign object on the boy. His current story is that he may have harmed him while inserting a suppository. 

This may make little difference in the final outcome of Bougher's sentence. Since early last year, convictions of physical and sexual abuse of a child under the age of six have carried the same sentence as sexual torture in this state. In other words, unless Bougher is lucky enough to make a deal, he will get life with the possibility of parole. Of course, it's unlikely he'll survive in prison long enough to be eligible for parole...

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We see that Trip Advisor lists 17 popular escape rooms in Alabama. Escape Room Florence is number 14; let's see if we can't get it ranked higher:


We also see that Rob Carnegie's paid favorite, um, sorry, personal favorite is not even listed...




Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Florence Tourism's Rob Carnegie Playing Favorites?




Playing favorites. Why do people play favorites? We can think of only three reasons: Liking someone, disliking someone, financial gain. So why is Rob Carnegie, Florence-Lauderdale Tourism President/CEO/Head Chinook, playing favorites? We may never know, but we sincerely hope we can put a stop to it. If we can’t put a stop to it, we can at least offset some of his damage.

Remember, a private company/individual may play favorites at will; a public entity may not. Rob Carnegie works for the city/county; he may even be subject to ethics violations—we’ve never had reason to look into it until now.


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Disclaimer:

1. We had never heard the term “escape room” until some months ago.

2. We have absolutely no inclination to visit an escape room, and if we do, we’ll stream a movie from the Saw franchise until it passes.

3. We, as far as we know, know absolutely no one who owns, manages, or works for an escape room in any location. 

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While lackadaisically perusing out Twitter feed earlier today, we came across this:


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In case any readers are not familiar with the word “premier,” its definition is this: first in importance, order, or position; leading.

So Robbie Baby is saying Paradox Escape Room is better than Escape Room Florence. Why? Who owns these businesses?

A quick check tells us Escape Room Florence is owned/managed by Adam Zills and Randy Winborn. Paradox Escape Rooms of Alabama is owned/managed by Martha F. Stevens and Kristie A. Stevens. We’ve never heard of any of these people, but we’re betting Rob Carnegie has.

So congratulations, Escape Room Florence, you’re the winner of a free ad for the duration. That means as long as Rob Carnegie heads Florence-Lauderdale Tourism, we’ll make sure our readers are aware of your excellent business and any specials or innovations you bring to the fray. We’ll even assist you in finding an attorney in case your current one isn’t up to suing Florence-Lauderdale Tourism. 


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Do ads here work? You betcha! Before Christmas we mentioned an eBay site selling 19 John Morgan prints. 48 hours later, the site had sold 14 of them, grossing almost $1,700.00.

Of course, you don’t have to advertise outright with us. If Rob Carnegie decides to play favorites again, we’ll be offering more free ads.





Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Billy Underwood Wins Prestigious Award




In 2015, Martindale-Hubbell reported there were just under 15,000 attorneys licensed in the state of Alabama. How would one pick just 10 out of those 15,000? It certainly wouldn't be easy, and it also would certainly be a great honor to be picked in any category.

Some categories of cases are more difficult than others. In other words, a client should know going in that it's going to be an uphill battle; therefore, many clients have little or no praise for those who have represented them. In these cases, finding an attorney whom clients praise is much like Diogenes' search for an honest man. 

Yet a local attorney has been selected for such an honor. The American Institute of DUI/DWI Attorneys is an independent organization that ranks attorneys who practice in the field. Each year the organization chooses ten lawyers in each state to receive its prestigious award as best of the best.

First a client or a peer must nominate an attorney. Then the institute researches the attorney's background and cases. Finally, after much independent evaluation, the group chooses the ten attorneys for the award. This year, William J. Underwood of Tuscumbia was chosen as one of the ten in this state. Most people in the Shoals know him simply as our friend Billy. 

We often think of Billy as one of the go-to attorneys in difficult criminal cases, but DUIs can also affect an individual's life for years. It's good to know that Colbert County, and yes the entire Shoals, has someone like Billy Underwood to represent them. You can contact the Tuscumbia attorney at 256-383-1791. 


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There was a guy named Guy; got to be a joke here somewhere. 



Looking at his Facebook page we see he can't find a girlfriend. He's not sure why since all the other guys have them. You think it's because he rapes on the first date?





Monday, January 16, 2017

Sears/Sandra Killen Burroughs


The Midnight Rider has already blogged on Sears leaving the area; however, he failed to touch on a couple of things. Since Shoalanda is approximately 75 years older than he, we remember the candy counter at the old Sears store on Tennessee Street, as well as the seasonal toy department where a rotund Santa held court each December and the business office in the back where many cashed payroll checks before banks had drive-in windows. 

When those things gave way to a new store, there were still Kenmore appliances and Craftsman tools. Then those things seemed to move into the background of a busy world. It must be at least a year since we've even set foot in Sears and that was probably to get somewhere else in the mall. Is that what happened with everyone?

Our stream of consciousness moved on to Spiegel; is that former department store still alive and kicking in the cataglogue world? Apparently it is, but their luxurious home furnishing line is no more. When did that happen? Perhaps when the Internet made it as easy to shop in Hong Kong as on Court Street?




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Congratulations to our friend Sandra Killen Burroughs. Sandra is currently working hard for the town of Lexington; keep up the good work, Sandra!





Sandra Killen Burroughs Elected to the Alabama League of Municipalities Executive Committee

MONTGOMERY – SANDRA KILLEN BURROUGHS, MAYOR, LEXINGTON ALABAMA,has been appointed to the Alabama League of Municipalities (ALM) Executive Committee by ALM President Dr. Howard Rubenstein, Mayor of Saraland. Mayor Burroughs will play an important role as a leader of Alabama’s municipal advocacy and resource organization. 

“It’s an honor to be asked to serve in such an esteemed capacity for the Alabama League of Municipalities.   I will proudly represent not only the town of Lexington on this committee but also Lauderdale County, the Shoals area and all of Alabama!!  Remember, no one succeeds alone.  If you surround yourself with positive people, you will have positive results.”

As a member of the ALM’s Executive Committee, SANDRA KILLEN BURROUGHS will meet with other municipal leaders throughout the year to establish the ALM’s strategic direction, advocate on behalf of municipal interests and determine ALM’s operational goals.

“The Alabama League of Municipalities has represented municipalities and their citizens for over 80 years,” said Ken Smith, Executive Director of the League. “Our Executive Committee has the important function of setting the League’s direction, goals and priorities. I want to thank each of the members for their service to our organization and I look forward to working with them during the upcoming year.”
The Alabama League of Municipalities is a nonpartisan membership association of nearly 450 incorporated cities and towns. Since 1935, ALM has worked to strengthen municipal government through advocacy, training and the advancement of effective local leadership. As the recognized voice of Alabama’s cities and towns, ALM’s member municipalities benefit from a variety of member programs, services and activities that are impossible to accomplish alone.

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Sandra isn't the only one of our friends who's been given a tremendous honor. We'll publish more details on that later this week.




Sunday, January 15, 2017

Credille Indictment/Food Stamps?


Jeremy & Ronnie Credille (The Cross is a Nice Touch)

A reader commented on the length of time it took to indict Jeremy Credille in the Muscle Shoals murder of Jason Fox. We were also surprised since Erica Fox had incriminated her boyfriend Ronnie's brother in her August confession. So why was Jeremy Credille allowed to roam free for five months?

Grand jury dockets aren't written in stone. We've seen Bryce Graham get an indictment in a matter of weeks in some cases. Did the Colbert DA have to present the case twice...or more? 

Interestingly, Graham never got an indictment in the case of the two volunteer fire departments with allegedly missing money. Yet, he got a very prompt indictment against a young couple in the death of a visiting child whose mother wasn't watching him.

The expression of the day is: Go figure...


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According to the Sheffield school superintendent, 84% of students in his district live in poverty. Certainly not all households in Sheffield have children between the ages of five and 18, yet the image of 84% of households which do living in what may be considered poverty should be concern making to all of us. 

Once again the term "food stamps" has reared its ugly pointed head in connection with this poverty. The TD isn't the only medium to continue to use this term; however, we're pretty sure the number of individuals receiving food stamps in Sheffield...or anywhere else...is zero. No one in the entire United States has received food stamps since 2004. All such benefits were morphed into the SNAP program by that year and are sent to the public via EBT.


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Speaking of SNAP, there's no tax on food purchased with that program. Yet, Alabama is one of only four states still charging tax on groceries. Humans have to eat just as they have to drink and breathe. We have the image of state legislators charging tax on steam water and oxygen if only they could figure out a way to do so.





Saturday, January 14, 2017

Nathan Bougher: Almost a Protector of Society?


Nathan Bougher: Almost a Protector of Society?
By: The Midnight Rider
NATHAN PAUL Bougher.jpg

On Saturday, January 14, 2017, the Times Daily reported the following:
“Nathan Paul Bougher, 21, East Fifth Street, Tuscumbia, has been charged with sexual torture and aggravated child abuse.
Police Chief Tony Logan said Bougher is accused of torturing and abusing a 1-month old boy.
Sexual torture and aggravated child abuse of a child under 6 are both Class A felonies and carries punishments of 10 years to life in prison with the possibility of patrol, if convicted.
“This is a very serious situation,” the chief said. “Our investigators put a lot of time and effort into working this case and getting to the point where we could make an arrest.”
Our research turned up that Nathan was a Reserve Deputy Sheriff for the Colbert County Sheriff’s Department. Information gained showed that he put in a lot of time in this position. Due to this, when a full time Deputy Sheriff Position came open, Nathan was hired in that position. However, here is where the deception comes in.
It appears that before Nathan was scheduled to leave for the Police Academy, there was a problem with his application. Sources state that the Governing Body of the Police Academy contacted Nathan about the problem. It is further understood, that Nathan did not inform the Sheriff of this problem right off.
From the Times Daily:
“Authorities said Bougher has not admitted to doing anything to the child.
“He has tried to make excuses for the child’s injuries, saying he did nothing intentionally (to harm the baby),” Logan said. “But the baby’s injuries are not consistent with the story he’s telling.”
Logan said the child, who is now at the Infant’s and Children’s Center at UAB Hospital, is suffering from multiple broken bones and internal injuries.
Investigators said the child has “spiral fractures” to his legs, as well as broken ribs and injuries to his mouth.
Police believe the child was tortured with an object or Bougher’s fingers.
“At this point, the hospital is doing a battery of testing on the child to determine all of the injuries and the severity of them,” Logan said.
He said doctors are also trying to determine if the child has suffered any neurological injuries.
“(The baby) is going to beunder constant medical supervision for awhile,” the chief said.”
Furthermore, sources state that Nathan tried to clear up the problem himself. When the deadline got close to him leaving for the Police Academy and he couldn’t clear up the problem, he had to inform the Sheriff.  The Sheriff allowed Nathan to resign. If you can’t go to the Police Academy, you can’t be a Law Enforcement Officer.
From the Times Daily:
“Department officials said the investigation into the allegations of abuse began Jan. 11.
The chief said his department was notified by the Colbert County Department of Human Resources that a complaint of possible abuse and torture had been issued.
Logan said the baby was taken to the doctor by his mother Jan. 9, which started the investigation.
“The baby was sent to Helen Keller and from Keller, he was transported to UAB, where he remains,” the chief said.
Investigators said Bougher was developed as a suspect and was taken into custody for questioning and then charged.
He is being held in the Tuscumbia City Jail on bail totaling $500,00.”
The above information, shows us that Nathan was not destined to be a Law Enforcement Officer. Furthermore, kudos go out to Sheriff Frank Williamson who took care of a problem when it was brought to his attention. Kudos also go to Chief Tony Logan and his Detectives on working this case that led to Nathan’s arrest.
Of course, Nathan is innocent until proven Guilty. However, it is not looking good for him. I know some people do not believe in “Street Justice” or “Frontier Justice”, but if Nathan is Guilty, there is a special place in Hell for him.

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I am and always will be, the Midnight Rider.

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We understand there is to be a fundraiser for this family's medical bills. We will publish the complete information when it's available.