Saturday, November 17, 2018

Public School Blues

Losing 90 students from its system isn't the only thing Sheffield has to worry about. From a reader:

In the past 5 years Sheffield has lost 90 kids? How about in the past 3 years (under Lankford), Sheffield lost almost 80 employees. Teachers, administrators, and staff have fled in droves.
The other article about the JROTC program says that Sheffield High School’s enrollment is down to 270. 270!!!!! The question no one is asking is WHY? Why is enrollment so low? Why did employees quit, retire early, give up tenure, seek other employment? Why did Lankford board member Steve Hargrove resign at practically the same time? Why has Hargrove’s resignation from the board been kept secret? The Times Daily never reported it.

How long has the Lauderdale County BOE been covering up? From another reader:

To the $1.5M decline in fund balances and the voluntary annual forfeiture of $250K in TVA in lieu of tax funds to the ill-conceived Ag-Center Consortium, add the Federal EEOC gender discrimination lawsuit now pending against the BOE, filed by three female county office workers, which the board will more than likely lose, costing the school system between $360K and $500K in back pay, benefits, and penalties.  The plaintiffs’ case is quite sound but it is in the board attorney’s financial interest to drag the case out as long as possible and collect as much in legal fees from county taxpayers as he possibly can.

How soon will consolidation start? And when it's announced, there are those who will say, "Why didn't anyone tell us?"

Friday, November 16, 2018

Gerald Winston Surratt Jr. - Let's Lock Him Up

We've blogged on Gerald Winston Surratt Jr. before. Some know him as Jerry Surratt, the name under which he has a very colorful Facebook page. He has enough merchandise listed for sale to open his own catalogue return shop.

Police are currently searching Florence and the surrounding area for Surratt who went on a crime spree earlier this week. Crime is certainly nothing new for Surratt. During the past seven years, the Florence man has racked up 26 separate arrests on even more charges. Yet he continues to walk free.

Perhaps two of Surratt's most serious offenses are only alleged. A grand jury failed to indict Surratt in an attempted Sheffield rape, and detectives never accumulated enough hard evidence to arrest him in a UNA robbery/kidnapping. Other charges have been pleaded down.

Several readers have asked us why Surratt has not faced more strenuous prosecution. We'd say family money can retain some very good attorneys. Surratt himself now brags that he's Judge Ben Graves' second cousin. We sincerely doubt that Graves would risk his career for someone of Surratt's ilk. 

If you've ever been a victim of Gerald Surratt, we suggest you watch the prosecution of these cases very carefully. When (and if) Surratt is convicted of his most recent felonies, write a letter to the judge. This doesn't guarantee that the perennial bad boy will be locked up for a long time, but it's a start.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Lauderdale County Board of Education - Part I

The Lauderdale County BOE is not alone in facing difficulties. The question is: Does it have the leadership to face these problems?

One member doesn't even list his bio even though the district website has requested it:

Yes, the member without the biography is the same person who was recently quoted in the TimesDaily as stating how many THC and CDB had killed in this country. 

The main question facing the board will be consolidation. We don't envy any of them when it comes time to face the public with their decisions. Yet it would seem consolidation may be the only route after the loss of TVA in lieu of tax money.

From a reader on lost funds: overall decline of $1,526,000 in fund balances during the Fiscal Year Ended September 30, 2018, which includes a $619,000 decline in State required operating reserves,...

We're not sure how our readers feel, but this appears to be quite a large chunk of change to us. Yet the public continues to elect those who feel past experience in driving a school bus is relevant to the position.

Perhaps we need board members with actual financial experience?

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Rogersville Follies Return

We've recently had two readers who've been concerned about events in the town of Rogersville. First a letter from a regular commenter:

Several weeks ago I was back in Rogersville's court with my granddaughter. I'm starting to appreciate how the Amish do things. You never see them in traffic court.

Anyways, court was on a Wednesday, if memory serves me, which I found unusual. So, being the naturally curious sort, I did some checking around. Most small towns hold court once a month, usually on the first or second Tuesday of the month. Some have court twice a month.

Rogersville's court used to be on a Tuesday. Notice: I said 'used to'. So why change it? Apparently, it was changed to accommodate one officer. You read correctly. From what I learned, one Rogersville police officer was supposedly having difficulty making it to court. The officer? Non other than the son of Rogersville's very own Chief of Police. So, instead of making a shift change, or admonishing the officer re: his civic and legal responsibilities, the entire court is moved. Now, ain't that something?

As always,

Elk River Native

We have the greatest respect for those who work in the EMS field. We also realize it's easy to inadvertently give out information that HIPAA frowns upon. According to a local source, approximately a year ago, the Rogersville EMS began posting calls on its Facebook page.

These posts state the name of the location to which the responders reported, as well as the general problem. Is that a HIPAA violation? One response we looked at had 23 homes and another street had 16. Could this be narrowed down to identify the patient?

When in doubt it's always better to err on the side of caution.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Inspiration Landing or Desperation Ditch?

In March of this year, Memphis developer John Elkington introduced plans for a Germantown town center to be constructed in the Saddle Brook area. By July (a scant four months later), Elkington's financial backer had pulled out of the project. Elkington then said he was waiting until after the November city elections to redo the project, but so far the only word has come from a Texas company wanting to build on the same parcel.

Does that have any bearing on Sheffield's Inspiration Landing? We welcome comments.

For those who may need their memories refreshed, next month will mark three years since Elkington announced his Inspiration Landing project. As of today, Elkington has mentioned difficulties in securing various environmental permits, but no names of financial backers for the project. That would be with the exception of the City of Sheffield which has coughed up quite a bit and is about to borrow 4.5 million dollars for infrastructure.

The first deadline was announced as a completed amphitheatre ready by Spring 2018; then the deadline was moved back to beginning construction by December 31st. We have six weeks left until the end of the year. Neighbors of the proposed project have reported no work as of yet.

And if this deadline isn't met? What will be the next date presented to the Sheffield believers? Perhaps more to the point, who will pay the interest on the infrastructure loan while Elkington continues to seek funding?

Monday, November 12, 2018

The Monster That Ate Sheffield

The Sheffield resident saw the monster and immediately called for help. Whether one or two patrol officers made it round to the site first, we don't know. We do know that there were reportedly two on the scene by the time it was decided more help was needed. They called their DI.

When the inspector arrived, he too was shocked at the enormity of what they were facing. He called the acting police chief who was out jogging around city hall. When the acting chief arrived, he also recoiled in horror. Even more help was needed. A call was placed to animal control.

Yes, finally animal control was called, and Flower Jr. was rounded up and presumably released into the wild. Who knew Sheffield police officers were so unfamiliar with handling skunks?

(The above story was sent to us by a Sheffield resident. If there should be errors, we'll be happy to correct them.)

While speaking of things that stink in Sheffield, we know the city is in money-saving mode. That's good - just not in all areas. Several months ago a magistrate left Sheffield and went to work for the City of Muscle Shoals. Did Sheffield seek a replacement? Apparently not. Sheffield then re-hired the woman part time to work in collecting fines, etc.

Is this unethical? Or perhaps the word is illogical? Imagine this conversation:

Mr. Smith: Hi, I'm here to pay $100.00 on my speeding ticket as I promised in municipal court.

Clerk: Hmmm, Mr. Smith, don't you still owe $100.00 on a similar fine in Muscle that you haven't paid on this month?

Mr. Smith: Yes. Is that a problem? I'm here now wanting to pay this to Sheffield.

Clerk: I suggest you pay Muscle Shoals first. Then if you have any salary left this week, come back and give the remainder to Sheffield.

See the problem with sharing an employee?

Next: That Inspiration Landing loan and the Midnight Rider expounds on the railroad crossing problem.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Veterans Day 2018

Did you ever wonder why we celebrate Veterans Day on November 11th? The rest of the world celebrates Remembrance Day on the anniversary of the Armistice, but the United States already had it own form of that observance to commemorate those lost in the War Between the States. In fact, our country already had two if you count one for USA military and one for CSA military.

So as the rest of the world remembers those who fell in the Great War and subsequent conflicts, we honor all veterans. This year we should all give special notice of those who died in the 1914-1918 War. Alabama was one of the first states to send troops after our country entered the war.

There's no way our losses even approached those of Great Britain. Yet our country was nonetheless diminished. Undoubtedly there are those who still grieve for the relative they never knew in person. Wars won't end before our planet does, but let's hope we can diminish their impact. Now let's make it happen.