Friday, June 24, 2016

No More Pop-Up Shops in Florence?/TNT Fireworks

Everyone know what a pop-up shop is? If you don’t, briefly it’s a small business that opens for a very short time, one day to two or so weeks, or sometimes a seasonal business that opens once a year. While the term pop-up is trendy at the moment, such businesses have been around for decades. Florence was for many years the site of at least two travelling bookstores which would annually appear in some small storefront to sell publishers’ overruns. We haven’t seen one of those in quite some time. Have they just disappeared because they are no longer economically feasible, or has the city stopped issuing licenses for a competitor of the local Anderson family?

Other such businesses have appeared on a regular basis in Florence in recent years. In March of this year, Singing River Brewery held a pop-up shop called “Pallet Art.” Competition for Tommy Mathis’ art gallery? Christmas 2014 saw the pop-up menswear store Cotton Creek arrive for a short time. Their main store is in south Alabama. Competition for JAR and Coats’ Clothing?

So now such pop-up stores will no longer be welcome in Florence. Or will they? If they are, we’re sure there will be a lawsuit…simply because Mayor Mickey Haddock made what the thought was the right decision?


While on the subject of fireworks outlets, those luxurious and aesthetically pleasing trailers that TNT Fireworks sets up twice a year are such an addition to any city, don’t you think?


Guns? Shoalanda herself is pretty much middle of the road when it comes to guns and the sales of them. Today we’re presenting part one of an article by our fellow blogger J. Redmon, and we didn’t want to miss the chance to take a dig at many journalists and their political hot buttons.

Assault rifle? We’re pretty sure handguns are used to assault as well. Even that first grader’s toy is an assault pea shooter. Another one of our bloggers, L. Stone, sent us this, and we think it really hits the mark:


The AR15 by J. Redmon

Prior to the conclusion of WWII, military planners were already fast at work on the next designs for America’s new battle rifle. The M14, with its 7.62 NATO round, was merely a ‘stop gap’ measure, and saw a very short-lived military service life as a general issue infantry weapon. With the ‘War on Terror’, however, the M14 has seen a new lease on life. What the engineers had in mind was something ‘better’. That something was the AR15 (Armalite Rifle, Model 15), commonly referred to by its military designation, the M16.

The M16 was the brainchild of Eugene Stoner. His brilliant mind gave birth to what has become one of the most successful and long-lived infantry weapons in US history. He designed and supervised its development while he was employed by Armalite, a division of Fairfield Engine Company, during the 1950s.

The M16 was a gas-operated rifle, firing from a 20-round box magazine, and capable of both semi-automatic and fully automatic fire. The new M16 fired a 5.56mm round, known commercially as the .223 Remington. It utilized a 55-grain FMJ projectile, fired at a nominal velocity of 3200 feet per second from a 20-inch barrel.

Mr. Stoner was intent on seeing his new creation in the hands of US servicemen, and vigorously marketed it to the Pentagon. The first branch to show interest was the US Air Force, adopting it as the M16. They viewed it as a pilot survival weapon rather than a general issue weapon. However, once the Air Force adopted it, the other branches of the military lined up. Once adopted by the US Army and the US Marine Corp, the AR15 wore the designation M16A1.

Volumes have been written about the M16’s early ‘failures’. However, its failures were not due to mechanics, but rather to a lack of knowledge by its operators. When first fielded, the M16 was touted as being a rifle that a soldier didn’t have to clean. In fact, the first M16s delivered to US troops came sans cleaning kits. A little known place called Vietnam would quickly dispel that myth.

The M16’s failures in Vietnam are legendary and resulted in a series of congressional hearings. These hearings found that a combination of powder change in the ammunition shipped to Vietnam, and a lack of proper cleaning was at the root of the failures. Once this information was found and acted upon, the M16 became a very reliable service weapon. Its light weight, low recoil and lightweight ammunition were welcomed by soldiers used to humping the heavy M14 and its equally heavy ammunition.

Lessons learned in Vietnam saw to the development of an improved M16A1, known as the M16A2. It featured improved sights, a more robust stock, a 1/7” twist (later changed to 1/9”), a reinforced receiver and the introduction of a 3-shot burst feature. This later feature was intended to replace the full-auto setting found on earlier M16s and M16A1s.

Operation Desert Storm was the proving ground for the M16A2. Most, if not all, of the worries of the M16A2 being incompatible with a sandy desert environment were for naught. All indications are that the M16A2 performed very well, much better, in fact, than many of its rivals.

The M16 series of weapons has continued to evolve over the past 4 decades. A soldier issued an M16 in the early stages of Vietnam would be at home with today’s newest version, the M4 Carbine. The M4 is an attempt to standardize, among the various branches of the military, on one personal individual weapon.

As with most previous military firearms innovations, the M16/M4 has a civilian-legal counterpart, the AR15. Originally marketed to civilians by Colt in the late 1960s as the ‘SP1’, the AR15 and its many variants have surpassed the Winchester Model 94 (your grandpa’s old .30-30) in popularity….and for good reason.


June is fast winding down; another month, another grand jury. It’s like Christmas, isn’t it?

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Fruit Basket Turnover & Team Swindle

From Leslie M. Shoals:

Posted: Friday, March 25, 2016 12:15 am

By Jennifer Edwards Staff Writer

MUSCLE SHOALS — The principal at Muscle Shoals Middle School was voted out by the city school board after two years at the helm.

Matthew Carpenter’s contract was non-renewed at the board’s monthly meeting Tuesday at the school system’s central office.

Carpenter was named principal in May 2014 and started June 1 of that year. At that time Superintendent Brian Lindsey said Carpenter’s experience “made him by far and above the best candidate.”

Lindsey would not comment on what changed.

“I can’t give any reason or make a comment regarding a personnel decision of that nature,” Lindsey said.

The non-renewal of Carpenter’s contract was included in an 11-item personnel report that was passed unanimously at Tuesday’s meeting. There were no comments from board members.

Carpenter was close to the end of a two-year probationary contract. Lindsey said in general new principals in the city school system are placed on probationary contracts.

NOT EVEN 3 MONTHS LATER.....................

Posted: Wednesday, June 22, 2016 12:00 am | Updated: 12:04 am, Wed Jun 22, 2016.

By Jennifer Edwards Staff Writer

MUSCLE SHOALS -- Former middle school Principal Matthew Carpenter has been hired as the district's assistant supervisor of students.

Carpenter was hired in his new position during the city school board's June meeting.His contract as the middle school principal was not renewed in March....

"Dr. Carpenter is very organized and is very attentive to details in dealing with records and paperwork," Lindsey said. "In this position, you need someone that has that skill set."

Lindsey said three people "showed interest" in the position. Carpenter received administrative tenure when he was the assistant principal at the middle school.

"We felt like we needed to go in another direction with leadership at the middle school, and in doing that we decided to non-renew his contract," Lindsey said. "That is not to say he did not have the administrative skills for the right position. He does have the skill set we were looking for in this assistant administrative position."

Carpenter's salary in the new position is $87,621, according to the district's finance officer Sarita Tapscott. That is less than he earned as principal, Lindsey said.

Carpenter's contract begins July 1.


March, 2016 regarding the non-renewal of Middle School Principal contract, Coach Lindsey would not comment on a "personnel decision of that nature" which would make the average taxpayer assume possible reasons for termination were personal actions or otherwise and not job performance. Should there have been a job performance issue as a principal, Coach Lindsey was obligated to give an explanation to the taxpayers, but chose otherwise which only leaves for a reasonable deduction of something concerning personal conduct/good name and character. WHAT EXACTLY IS "THAT NATURE"? To then appoint Kevin Davis as principal to follow Carpenter is an even bigger boondoggle given Kevin Davis was hired at MSHS as assistant principal by his old classmate, Chad Holden, when he had no job and was on administrative leave from Limestone County Schools.

June, 2016 Coach Lindsey is quoted as praising Carpenter on his organization skills and attention to details in dealing with records and paperwork, as most administrators will say about a good secretary. If paperwork and record keeping is the skill set needed in the newly created position, would a top notch secretary perform these duties and at a lower cost just as well? I believe I would question the logic on that if I were a secretary in MSCS.

One could only read between the lines to see that Carpenter has been branded at MSCS as forever an "assistant" since he didn't have the skill set to be a top administrator in a building where he taught and later served as assistant principal.

If memory serves me right, the law was rewritten a few years ago that took tenure away from administrators/contract employees and only grants those who are in the classroom with tenure.Not sure if Coach Lindsey is correct on an assistant principal having administrative tenure. I would tell him to check with that high priced out of town lawyer they keep sending our money to but the truth hasn't been spoken yet, so we won't push for that waste of money.

It appears Coach Lindsey is not addressing the core of the problem and taking control. There is a clear lack of institutional control when kids talk about employees having affairs, cheating, drugs, and other social evils and those who are guilty are transferred to another job, or given an assistant. Maybe Swindle will win the state championship for Basden and you people can quit stealing us taxpayers blind. Basden promised a state championship within the first 5 years of employment and it's now what, year 11? Team Swindle!! We don't care if Russellville is laughing at MSCS. We want a championship! Team Swindle!!!


Leslie M. Shoals

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Bellezza Bella: Comments/Annuals/Nepotism

Comments on Bellezza Bella Club? We certainly received them and will attempt to address at least some of them here:

1. There may be those out there who know the name of the person who wrote the original letter to this blog. Good for you, but we haven’t asked the person’s name and don’t intend to publish it if we should determine it. Just in case you’re not familiar with the term ad hominem attack, it roughly means criticizing a person’s opinion on grounds having nothing to do with the facts at hand. In other words, a person who wears their clothes two sizes too small (and this was the nicest thing the commenter said) isn’t barred from offering her opinions to this blog.

2. Yes, we understand as well as the letter writer that the club in question is not officially connected to Deshler High School. The question is why are members not advised that calling the Bella Club an official Deshler organization is prohibited? It would seem logical to us that those who administer the system would be aware that the club is presented as such and take action.

3. We made a statement based on reader sent screen shots and e-mails that students listed club membership in (paid) bios published in the school’s annual. This was in error, or at least we now believe it to be; however, we have numerous screen shots of online bios which refer to the club as a Deshler High club. Below is one sent to us by a reader as coming directly from an annual. We are publishing these two examples since the student’s name is easily cropped or doesn’t appear. If the administration wants to know the names of those advertising this club as sponsored by the high school, we’ll be happy to send them.

4. Why should the Tuscumbia City School administration care if the Bella Club leads the public to believe it is sanctioned by them? The answer is one word: Lawsuits. Those who initiate such suits might not win, but a good attorney will certainly ask why the board knew that students presented the Bella Club as sponsored by the high school and did nothing to correct it.


Now here is something brought to our attention today, 18 months after we first published it. We’re using the person’s name since she used it publicly in blog comments

In December 2014, we published a reader comment concerning nepotism in local government: The music teacher at Trenholm is the superintendent's daughter-in-law. The teacher's aide is a niece. (Note: the current Tuscumbia superintendent has recently resigned.)

Today, we received this from Grace Mills Kennington: Here, I am the music teacher you wrote about. You implied nepotism. The superintendent was my aunt, not mother-in-law, but more importantly, she did not hire me... the previous superintendent (no relation) did. Lies, slander, posting before getting your facts straight, whatever you want to call it....

Let’s point out some things here:

1. This was a comment by a reader and was clearly stated as such. We didn’t ask for a name of the teacher involved and until today didn’t know it. Ms. Kennington says she is the former superintendent’s niece, not daughter-in-law. We’re happy to correct that.

2. Ms. Kennington says she was hired before her aunt Mary Kate Smith became superintendent, presumably between June 2011 and December 2011. She says she was hired by the former superintendent (Joe Walters).

3. Ms. Kennington does not have a bio on Deshler’s site, but her mother does: Our daughter, Grace, is a 2007 Deshler graduate…Grace teaches elementary music in the Tuscumbia City Schools

4. We may assume that Ms. Kennington obtained her degree in May/June 2011, a time when Joe Walters was indeed superintendent.

5. However, her aunt was at that time the assistant superintendent before (unofficially) assuming the position in December 2011 when Walters left. Both Kennington’s mother and father taught in the Tuscumbia City system at that time. It is easy to see that our reader, as probably many others, did infer nepotism whether rightly so or not. While officially retired, Smith continues to work as Federal Programs Coordinator.


Now we have to ask why the high turnover of superintendents in the Tuscumbia system? Joe Walters served roughly between mid 2007 and late 2011. Mary Kate Smith served (officially) between mid 2012 and mid 2015. Is the shelf life of a Tuscumbia superintendent only three to four years?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

How Do You Spell Whites Only?: B-E-L-L-A

From a reader:

2016 in the "Land of the Free," right? Not only has the South displayed constant intolerance of homosexuality and oppression of African Americans, my town has a "Whites Only" club. Literal segregation in a public school. It's 1956 all over again.

The club is called Belleza Bella, or "Bella" as everyone refers to it. Bella replaced what had previously been "Vanity Club", which was an all-wealthy-white-female organization that would make new members do horrible and humiliating things (my grandmother ate a live bee) and claim them to be their "initiation". Bella is based on those same principles. If you aren't a white female willing to spend a nice thousand dollars or more a year, you cannot be in this club.

Recently Bella began allowing male students into the club, but of course only white males. This club has a strict "whites only policy." If you're African American, Asian, biracial, etc, you cannot be a member. The club claims no affiliation with the public school but only because of the Title IX policy which would make this club basically illegal. However, only students from one specific school can join and every white female in 8th grade from said school is invited to join. I once asked an older "officer" from the club why they didn't allow African American female students to join. Her answer was, "because they're ghetto and Bella is all about class".

Bella also does the destructive initiations. The new girls experience what the club calls "hell week". In this week, the majority freshman girls cannot wear makeup and have to wear ridiculous things such as pigtails and red lipstick as an attempt to make them feel embarrassed about their physical appearance.

Also on a random night, they come and literally destroy your house by putting shredded paper and hay all over (and I mean ALL OVER) your house inside an out: each and every inch of your home and yard and "kidnap" you at 3 AM. This is known as "rush."

This club is solely run on popularity of the white students of the school. You are literally voted out if too many members don't like you; teenage girls voting other teenage girls out of a teenage club. You are voted out if you attempt to date outside your own white race or attempt to bring anyone who isn't white into a club function. You are not allowed to discuss bringing other races into the club.

This club kills self-esteem. The worst part of all of this? Even our board of education knows and does nothing about it. It's a literal under-the-table segregated club at a public school in 2016!

It's been addressed to the head of our school system so many times and yet the club still stands. I'm sick of such an unfair club existing at the school I have to attend. It's 2016! We worked so hard to establish equal rights and this school can just ignore its wrongs.

Please don't let this voice go unheard. I cannot end this club on my own and no one in the town seems to care. The members of this club attack me over social media whenever I try to bring light to the subject, and the administration ignores my complaints. I want to see this club left in 1956 where it belongs.


So what do we think of Bella? While it may be a private club, we have found that members and their "social work" are mentioned in yearbook credits. If anyone knows a good lawyer in Tuscumbia, we think this could easily be taken care of.

Will Bella now go underground? It's certainly possible. We'll add the same advice we've previously given students/parents concerning unfair conditions at local public schools. No one stays in high school forever; in a few years you or your child will be in college, the workforce, or the military. You won't be subjected to these unfair conditions forever. Of course you may find new ones wherever you go.

And those who make and enforce these unfair policies? They'll still be stuck in Podunk monitoring halls for a skirt that's a half-inch too short, any glimpse of underwear, or hair that's not a prescribed color. Doesn't that sound like an exciting life? Whatever it sounds like, it has nothing to do with learning...and that's extremely sad.

Now we'll give some advice to Bella members: If you think all black students come from the ghetto, if you think you're better than anyone because of your skin color, if you think a racially segregated club is pleasing to God...we certainly think you should remain a group unto yourself. We don't want you to rub off on any decent people in Tuscumbia.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Have Sex on Taxpayer's Dime, Lose Vacation Pay?

Several years ago we read one of those pop-psychology articles on theft in the workplace. It seems that those who are not faithful to their spouses are three times more likely to steal from their employers than those who walk the marital line. So how much more prone to theft would employees be that actually commit the sex act at work while on the clock…the taxpayer’s clock to make it worse?

We know that at least two who write here either work at taxpayer jobs currently or have in the past. As far as we know the majority who toil at the Shoalanda blog work in the private sector. What would happen to Shoalanda herself if she were caught in such a compromising position at work in her non-government funded job? She would d*mned well be fired within hours, we can promise you that.

So how do government employees continue to get away with boffing anyone and everyone at work? How do they still keep their taxpayer funded jobs? Are they simply irreplaceable or do they just know where the bodies are buried?

We’ve recently blogged about two local government employees who were literally caught with their pants down and still retained their jobs…at least so far. Just two days ago we were informed of a city department head who was similarly caught in a Shoals town about five or so years ago and who kept his job. Three such incidents in the past five years would indicate the moral decline of our society. The fact that the powers that be have overlooked these incidents indicates much worse.

Why are we discussing this again? It seems that the Lauderdale department head was not fired as Danny Pettus had promised. He did vote to fire the person, he has stated, but others voted to retain the person who lost all vacation pay.

We just hope the sex was worth two weeks vacation to the department head. Now please tell us how much integrity and ethics are worth to those who oversee our local governments?


We’re about to publish an article on the Bella Club at Deshler High School and have asked for input from readers. It seems there is at least one similar club, one perhaps even more shrouded in secrecy. Who out there knows of the Deshler Fight Club? Those who reply will always remain anonymous.


Wanda Ivey Wallace

Wanda Ivey Wallace was murdered in Tuscumbia on Sunday. Her brother Jerry was also a murder victim; from 2012:

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Father's Day 2016

What kind of father are you?

A Nurturer?

An Example?

Someone to Fall Back On?

Always There for Your Child's Mother?

We hope all the fathers out there answered yes to all!

Happy Father's Day from...

The Staff at Shoalanda Speaks

Note: If you're not familiar with our cat family, it's Chessie and her husband Peake who for years symbolized the Chessapeake Rail System. During WWII Peake entered the army, courageously serving in the South Pacific and attaining the rank of major.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Tuscumbia Municipal Elections/Katie Logan

From the Midnight Rider:

We are continuing our series of City/Town Elections. We had made the comment recently that the City of Sheffield may be the powder keg of the elections. We may have been wrong about that. Driving around the City of Sheffield, we have only seen Signs for Penny Freeman. Miss Freeman is running for District 4 for the City of Sheffield. We will be doing an article on her that will be posted soon.

Recently we spoke to two employees of the City of Tuscumbia. Both were excited about the upcoming elections. They were hoping for some change to come to that City Government. As we drive through the City of Tuscumbia, we see a lot of signs up. Most are for Cole and Underwood for Mayor. We have never met either one of the candidates. Mr. Cole is retired from the City of Tuscumbia Fire Department and Mr. Underwood is an Accountant.

Checking on Facebook, Mr. Underwood has a page for his election campaign. It appears that he started campaigning some time ago. I guess getting a jump on the competition.

The first thing listed on his webpage is his platform for the election:

-Support the school system
-Expand Tuscumbia’s boundaries
-Secure new sources of revenue
-Enforce our ordinances to keep Tuscumbia “tourist ready”
-Establish a Small Business Advisory Board
-Begin Town Hall meetings
-Establish a Park & Recreation board
-Begin a new and yet undefined advertising campaign for the city
-Establish departmental oversight and management through the mayor’s office
-Begin the process of paving and repairing the city streets

The above is a well thought out platform. We are interested to see or read how each goal is to be accomplished. We are sure there will be questions asked about each aspect by the citizens of Tuscumbia. They look like good ideas to us.

We checked Facebook for David Cole’s page. He has one there that appears to be personal. Mr. Underwood has one especially for the Election. We looked through Mr. Cole’s page to check his platform. We had to scroll through the page before I found a picture of a door tag with his election info on it. Mr. Cole, as much as some of us do not like Social Media, today’s Society uses it for everything. Build upon your page.

Again, we do not know either candidate so at this point, we are not endorsing either. Do your homework. This will be your chance to get your voice heard. Remember to come out and vote.

Katie Logan For District 1 Election

We had planned on writing the above article and had been making notes. One day, we saw a Katie Logan Election Sign. She is running for District 1 City Council for the City of Tuscumbia. Let me lay this out there. We have never met Mrs. Logan. All we know about her is she is married to Tuscumbia Police Chief Tony Logan. We read that she recently opened a business in Tuscumbia.

As we continued on driving, we started thinking about her running for a place in the City. She owns a business in the City of Tuscumbia. She is young so she would bring young views to the table per say. Contrary to popular belief, young people do vote. She knows how the City of Tuscumbia operates by being married to Chief Logan.

I could see her opponents saying that she would have a conflict of interest. I disagree with that. If she votes on a subject that has to do with the Police Department, there are several other members of the City Council that can overrule or vote against her. She can always recuse herself from the vote. To me, that sounds like the Checks and Balance System that this great Country was founded on. So with that being said, “You go girl.” We think a fresh, young view could help the City.

Until next time,
I am and always will be, the Midnight Rider...


From L. Stone:

Great quote from Tom Gresham - I saw a movie where only the police and military had guns. It was called "Schindler's List."

Both L. Stone and J. Redmon have sent us some salient info on the latest gun controversy. We'll have both up early next week. Plus, we have a guest blog on the Deshler High Bella Club and a great new article for Shoals Crime also scheduled. Remember, we always welcome guest blogs and comments.