Thursday, July 30, 2009

Deputy Terry Woods Arrested for Harassment

Lauderdale Deputy Terry Woods has been arrested on charges of harassment relating to his alleged attack on fellow deputy Ronnie Valentine. Florence attorney Ralph Holt is representing Woods; the trial will be August 27th in District Court.

According to previous reports, Valentine has also filed for workman's compensation. Lauderdale Sheriff Ronnie Willis (pictured) has just completed an internal investigation and suspended the 11 year veteran Woods for five days sans pay.

Since Valentine has filed a criminal complaint against Woods, it's unclear why Sheriff Willis chose to conduct an in-house investigation rather than ask the Alabama Bureau of Investigation to step in. We will assume if Terry Woods is found guilty of the misdemeanor charge, Willis will then initiate further action against the deputy.

Charges of favoritism in Willis' department have always been rampant; now is the time for Sheriff Ronnie Willis to disprove these charges to the citizens of Lauderdale County.

Haleyville's King Cockfight on Facebook: I took the "Which Racist Alabama Governor Are You?" quiz and I was Patterson.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Keith McGuire Now Awaits Decision on Teaching License

Today a jury of six men and women, after deliberating over a period of three days, returned a "not guilty" verdict in the rape and sodomy trial of Brian Keith McGuire. It is doubtful the victim will initiate any civil proceedings against McGuire, who has not worked as a teacher in over a year.

The victim is hardly a total loser in the proceedings. Testimony in the trial revealed that McGuire had been diagnosed with an STD at least two years before his unprotected sexual encounter with the young woman and that during his divorce proceedings he initiated DNA testing on his children. Such tests proved him not to be the biological parent of the older child, perhaps one reason the Lexington native has distanced himself from his family over recent years.

However, McGuire still faces the loss of his teaching license due to allegations he fondled at least four students while teaching at Clements School in Limestone County. Robin Greene of Athens has stated she has the names of at least 50 young women McGuire has sexually touched over his teaching career. The former teacher is suing Greene for slander.

Within the next few days or weeks, Chief Administrative Law Judge Walter Turner will announce his ruling in the license hearing of Brian Keith McGuire. It's a verdict for which many have waited years and one in which we should all be interested. Our children deserve a good education. While we may not be able to provide the best educators in every classroom in the state, we should be able to provide those who have their students' best interests at heart. It's time Alabama made an effort to ensure that.

What's up with this: It seems the Colbert County District Attorney's office recused itself in the trial of Leighton Mayor LaWayne Harrison. Perhaps such recusals only occur when there's a mayor involved?

Bob Riley Needs 193 Good Men & Women

If you have some free time and a desire to serve the State of Alabama, Bob Riley is looking for you. Actually, h
e's looking for 193 of you.

In a press release earlier today, Governor Riley announced 193 vacancies on Alabama Boards. For those in the Shoals who oft complain about a lack of input at the state level, this is a prime opportunity to have your say.

Warning, some of the boards listed may not be everyone's cup of tea; however, if you've always wanted to serve on the Elevator Inspection Board or think you might find the Scrap Tire Commission fascinating, now's your chance. Another caveat: Now might not be a good time to join the Prepaid Affordable College Tuition Board.

What's up with this: Anyone have any idea why Rep. Artur Davis abstained from voting on a resolution recognizing Hawaii's fifty years of statehood? We can at least rule out the possibility he's a "birther."

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Meet Pamela Casey

While we usually focus on Shoals and Northwest Alabama politics, we're going to stray slightly to the southeast today, more specifically to Blount County. It's not every day that we meet someone like Pamela L. Casey and we want our readers to get to know her as well.

Pam's home town is Snead, Alabama, a small town in Blount County that is roughly the size of Killen. After graduation from high school, Pam attended Rhodes College in Memphis and earned her juris doctorate from the Seattle School of Law in Washington state. Currently, Pam is a member of the bar in both Washington and Alabama.

After serving an internship in Washington, Pam returned to Alabama where she began work as an Assistant Attorney General. Some in the Shoals area will remember Pam as part of the team that prosecuted Daniel Wade Moore for the murder of Karen Tipton in Decatur. Now Pam is again in our corner of the state, this time leading the prosecution team in the Keith McGuire rape case.

Pam has told us that the law is her passion, and that fervor shows in her dedication to her work. A member of the Republican Party, she is about to launch her campaign for District Attorney of Blount County. Remember her name; Blount County needs someone like Pam Casey, but we have a feeling Montgomery will be calling as well.

Feeling Empowered? Check out the Zelda Lily website. It offers a new view on the power of women in today's society. Don't think you'll agree with most of it? No problem--it welcomes debate in the comment section.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Goat Hill News

We have frequently advocated political blogs as the ideal way to keep abreast of notable events from Montgomery to Dothan to the Shoals. From the "just the facts" of Doc's Political Parlor to the outrageous humor of King Cockfight, there's something for everyone in the Alabama blogosphere.

A new blog of note is Goat Hill News. Perhaps the initial draw is the blog's author: Fob Wallace. Now, tell us you can resist a name like that.

Goat Hill keeps it short and sweet with multiple entries each day that are economical of word. Wallace also promises to "leave no rumor unsaid." Considering the amount of e-mails this blog receives that easily fit into the rumor category, Wallace should have plenty of grist for his mill, a mill that will assuredly be running overtime as 2010 approaches.

What's up with this: Are we sure Ron Sparks is running for governor? Some stores in Russellville still display "Ron Sparks for Commissioner of Agriculture" signs. Well, at least they're in English.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Vinnie Grosso Wants the Scoop on Offenders

Vinnie Grosso, head of Florence Animal Control, wants to get the scoop on certain local offenders--or should we say poop. Apparently McFarland and Deibert Parks are the regular recipients of unwanted gifts from canine visitors. Grosso states that animal control can do little about complaints without evidence--either DNA or video.

Grosso (pictured at right with reptile friend) is requesting funding for surveillance cameras at both parks in order to catch the regular offenders. This idea has merit, but we wonder just who would be responsible for monitoring the hours of video at each park. Even with fast forward and a trained eye, it sounds like a monotonous, time-consuming exercise.

If such cameras are installed, we hope one is focused on the dispenser of plastic poop bags in each park. Still, if the Florence Recreation Department can't keep tissue and soap dispensers filled in the restrooms, there's little hope for doggie poop bags.

Photo by Jim Hannon

What's up with this: Handy Week is almost over, and there have been complaints of not enough diverse music. We're not sure what these nay-sayers thought was lacking, but many thanks to Nancy Gonce and her cohorts for another wonderful fest.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Cherokee Library - Paige II

With a population of just under 1,300 and negligible sales tax receipts, the town of Cherokee (Main Street pictured) in western Colbert County is fortunate to have a library; however, the town isn't sure just how long this good fortune will continue. Allison Paige McWilliams was the town's third librarian in just over four years; now the small community has filed a $43,000.00 lawsuit against McWilliams.

Our May 16th column initially reported that just under $17,000.00 was missing; updated preliminary audits now indicate that McWilliams used the library's credit card for purchases of $16,054.50--mainly at Wal-Mart, Chevron, and Shell. State Certified Accountants have just begun the forensic audit that may turn up other unauthorized charges, and the town is unable to press charges with the District Attorney until such an audit is completed.

With only $200.00 in the library's bank account, and unable to get new state funding while open less than 16 hours a week, the town has pressed forward with a civil suit. The suit, filed by town attorney Rebecca Narmore, also alleges Paige McWilliams forged library chairperson Ella Nelson's name on an official document, having town clerk Melinda Malone notarize the signature. McWilliams has denied the allegations and announced she will defend herself against the charges.

It's unfortunate the citizens of Cherokee are having to suffer for lack of library funding, but the town itself must shoulder some blame in this situation. Any checking/debit or credit card account should be balanced and monitored by someone other than those in control of the funds. As for Ms. Malone notarizing a signature she did not herself witness, that speaks for itself.

Note: Last chance to see the Drive By Truckers tonight. You don't always have to leave home for great entertainment.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Hermitage Drive: The Good, the Bad, & the Insipid

Many things are capable of speaking for themselves; however, few of them ever get to if there's a politician around. On Tuesday, the Florence City Council approved $13,000.00 for flashing signals on Hermitage Drive. The purpose of the signals--to remind motorists to slow down near Florence Middle School--is certainly good and long overdue.

From the July 22nd TimesDaily:

Parents have complained that drivers used the road as a short cut. It passes Florence Middle School. “People didn’t realize the school was there until they were right up on it,” said Mayor Bobby Irons.

Hermitage Drive has existed in some form since 1813. Originally the path that Gen. Andrew Jackson forged to New Orleans was called Jackson Military Road. Added amenities turned the road into Jackson Highway before its name was again changed in the 1950s to its current designation of Hermitage Drive. In the early part of this decade, the northern stretch of Hermitage received still another designation when Florence declared it part of the newer Darby Drive. Many, including local historian William Smith, disagreed with this arbitrary name change. At best it was unnecessary, and at worst a bad example for future generations.

For decades, Hermitage Drive has been a major artery linking Cox Creek Parkway/Darby Drive to downtown Florence. When it became downgraded to a "shortcut" is anyone's guess and probably only existed as such for a brief moment in our mayor's mind as he sought to dramatize the situation.

That brings us to the Florence Middle School that "people don't realize is there." The building was constructed in 1948 to house Coffee High School. If most motorists don't know it's there by now, we're not sure if flashing lights will be of any help to them.

Perhaps Mayor Irons is so accustomed to having to defend his actions, as well as those of the council, he seeks to rationalize them to the point of insipidity. Then again, perhaps he's just a politician and can't help it.

Pictured: Pope's Tavern & Museum on Hermitage Drive

What's up with this: Will Stutts has announced the cancellation of the Smothers Brothers' Summer Theatre series performance. Obviously he's correct that just too many activities were scheduled in the Shoals for July, but we have it on good authority that some entities work with each other to avoid such conflicts.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

CASA of Colbert County is Here

CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) for Children has arrived in Colbert County. Thanks to Karen Snead and Tina Miller Parker, juveniles in the Colbert County court system will now have the same opportunities as their Lauderdale counterparts to obtain guidance and the extra help they need during a trying time in their lives.

While the CASA support organization already has over 100 members, the office itself still lacks a permanent facility. If you have an appropriate office space for rent, or even better, to donate, please contact their temporary headquarters at 335-0726 or Executive Director Karen Snead at All donations are tax deductible.

Thanks, Karen and Tina, for all your efforts on behalf of Colbert County youth.

What's up with this: Paige McWilliams, former Cherokee librarian, is getting a lot of attention on librarian web sites these days--not so much for her legal problems as her first name. Well, humor is where you find it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Coffee Health Group Lays Off 50 Employees

We constantly hear of the shortage of nurses and other health care workers, but just how acute is the shortage here in Northwest Alabama, the Shoals in particular? Seemingly not that dire at ECM Hospital and its affiliates where several Registered Nurses received their walking papers yesterday. The nurses were a part of 50 who comprised what has been termed the first round of layoffs for the local health authority.

This is particularly disturbing considering the current nurse-patient ratio at both Eliza Coffee Memorial and Shoals Hospitals. For years, both hospitals have complained of the shortage of available nurses, particularly Registered Nurses; however, the shortage more accurately has referred to nurses who were willing to work the floor (the most strenuous of nursing occupations) at the wages Coffee Health Group was offering. It has been only two years ago that ECM phased out all LPNs (trade nurses) in favor of RNs (professional nurses); now even Registered Nurse positions are being cut in the attempt to turn back the sea of debt the health authority is facing.

The Coffee Health Group spends small fortunes in advertisements that exhort us of the Shoals to use their facilities rather than travel to Huntsville or Birmingham. Each ad assures the reader that the quality of care is equal, if not superior, to that found elsewhere in the state. Quality health care cannot be accomplished without nurses, or even those maintenance technicians who keep the plant running smoothly. Interim CEO Jody Pigg owes the Shoals an accurate appraisal of just what yesterday's and future layoffs will mean to its health care consumers.

Technoratic Validation: d6gpn8y7qs

Monday, July 20, 2009

Ms. Birdie Joiner is 104 Today!

A faithful reader made us aware of a special birthday today, and we couldn't be more happy to recognize this landmark event.

One hundred and four years ago today, Birdie Ora Brown was born in the Lexington community. Birdie's mother died when she was still a child, thrusting her into an early adulthood as she cared for her younger siblings. In 1923, Birdie married Willie Price Joiner; their marriage lasted 39 years until his death in 1962.

Ms. Birdie still lives in the home in which she raised her five children. Son Dell and daughter Ophelia died at relatively young ages. Three sons lived to adulthood and married. Sons Harlon and David are now deceased; son Conred and his wife Betty Sue live nearby. Among Ms. Birdie's grandchildren are Willie Joiner, principal of Lexington school, and Killen businessman Joey Joiner. Ms. Birdie also has numerous great-grandchildren.

Health permitting, on Sundays you will find Ms. Birdie at the Killen Church of Christ where she is a member. Weekday nights find Ms. Birdie visiting with her favorite, Larry King. So if you plan to call to wish her a happy birthday, be sure to check the television listings first.

Happy 104th, Ms. Birdie Joiner!

Who can find a virtuous woman? For her worth is far above rubies. Proverbs 31

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Keith McGuire Rape Trial Set for Tomorrow

Nineteen years after a Lauderdale County woman says she was raped and sodomized by Brian Keith McGuire, formerly of Lexington, Jan Simpson* will finally have her day in court. McGuire, who was 30 at the time of the incident, claims the sex with the then 19 year-old woman was consensual.

Jury selection will begin Monday at 8:30 in Lauderdale County, with Franklin County Judge Terry Dempsey presiding. Dempsey has just completed the unenviable task of officiating at the Christie Bray Scott murder trial where he managed to keep a check on attorneys Robert Tuten, Joey Rushing, and Doug Evans. Residents of Lauderdale County should be extremely grateful to Judge Dempsey for stepping in when Lauderdale Circuit Court judges recused themselves due to their association with McGuire's father, Lexington Mayor Bobby McGuire.

Associated Press reporter Jean Cole has been following the case from Limestone County, where Keith McGuire has been accused of fondling at least four female students while a teacher/coach at Clements School. Cole reported last week that neither defense attorney Jeff Austin nor prosecutor Pamela Casey would comment on the case at that time. Should McGuire be found not guilty, he still faces the prospect of losing his Alabama teaching certification due to the Limestone incidents.

While Simpson did not file charges against McGuire until 2006, three years is too long to wait for justice. We hope this trial will soon be over for the sake of both accuser and accused.

* Name changed to protect victim's anonymity

David Bronner on the National Alabama start-up delay:
"I have too much damn money in it to see it fail." Well, it's nice to know he considers the RSA's money his own...we think.

What It Was, Was Football

What's dearer to the heart of the average Alabamian than his coon dog? Why, Alabama football of course--that is unless he's an Auburn fan, but that's a story for another day. Those who can neither define nor pronounce the word proration can recite Coach Nick Saban's salary history without so much as a stutter. Perhaps they can't comprehend the enormity of it, but they will quickly tell you since the taxpayers don't fund Alabama football, it's none of their business to start with.

So, just how much does Nick Saban make? Perhaps the easiest way to comprehend the magnitude of his salary is to compare it to that of others. Currently the University of North Alabama, an institution reportedly eager to ascend to Division I athletics, offers head coach Terry Bowden a base salary of $100,000.00 per year, well over that of the average citizen in this Heart of Dixie. Sounds good, but wait, let's look at the above chart and compare it to Nick Saban's.

What does this say about the mentality of most Alabamians? If Johnny can't read, or doesn't have a book to read, does it really matter as long as he can catch a spiral pass? Perhaps we should look on the bright side; at least Nick Saban can afford to buy us all another Big Orange.

Note: Curious as to how your salary stacks up against Nick Saban's? Simply type in your annual income for some very revealing statistics: Salary Comparison.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

You Can Tell It's Handy Week...

...and if you can't, you didn't accidentally wander into the throngs flocking to Sax in the City or the car load of Kudzu Queens. The temperature is actually bearable, so there's no excuse not to make as many events as possible.

Here's the schedule for this year: W. C. Handy Festival 2009


Since our column yesterday on Good Samaritan Hospice, we've been inundated with e-mails from former employees. According to most, yes, their last pay check did indeed bounce, and this was hardly the least flattering comment most had to make concerning their former employer. Obviously, accusations are just that until they've been documented, but we hope to bring you an update on the Good Samaritan bankruptcy in the future.


Shoalanda Speaks in now on Facebook. If you haven't joined that social networking sight, we think you'll like it. We've discovered one advantage already--we get to read Jim Fisher's computer column a day early. See you there.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Hospice Wars III - Good Samaritan Bites the Dust

In a totally anticlimatic event, Good Samaritan Hospice closed its doors for the last time Tuesday. The empire that Randy Gist and Ragesh Boorgu founded in October 2003 has joined A & E Hospice on the casualty list of enterprises that ran afoul of Medicare regulations, dripping of red ink at the end. According to court documents, Good Samaritan has outstanding debts of five million dollars.

Gist, CEO of Good Samaritan, initially filed for bankruptcy earlier this year at which time the company claimed 100 patients. The hospice listed only 40 patients in its care when it closed this week. From our February 18th blog:

Gist filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in a Decatur Federal Court. His attorney, Stuart M. Maples of Maples & Ray PC, is asking that Good Samaritan's payments to Medicare be reduced from $84,000.00 to $25,000.00 per month. Gist claims an average monthly income of $212,000.00, making the currently scheduled payment almost 40% of the agency's gross receipts.

Stuart Maples stated this week that it was Randy Gist's decision to close the hospice doors at this time. One may infer that with a shrinking number of patients and rising debts, Good Samaritan no longer had the financial means to make payroll.

According to Maples, the company's assets will be sold to repay its debts. The salient question now has to be just what are the company's assets? The Haleyville and Madison offices were closed months ago and their assets presumably liquidated at that time. Those who have visited the company's offices on Dr. Hicks Boulevard in Florence usually came away remarking on the sparseness of furnishings, if not the outright shabbiness. How did the company accumulate five million dollars of debt in less than six years, and where did the money go?

We're sure quite a few creditors will be asking that last question at the July 28th hearing in Decatur. We're also sure there will be some surprising answers.

Reminder: Be sure to catch Sheffield native Will Stutts in the UNA Summer Theatre production of Amadeus, running today through Sunday.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Lauderdale County Deputies Battle it Out!

Lauderdale County Deputy Terry Woods is in the news again, this time accused of assaulting fellow deputy Ronnie Valentine. Deputy Woods is no stranger to notoriety; in 2001 while en route to the scene of a chase already under control, he wrecked a Lauderdale County patrol car on a straight stretch of road. For some time after the crash, Woods was assigned to child support collection, but by 2004, he was again in the field.

In June of 2004, he was accused of asking a victim of domestic abuse to "contain" her attacker, who was later killed by the woman's husband after deputies did not arrive in a timely fashion. Woods indicated he did not respond when the woman called his personal number because it was his day off. By early 2008, Woods had been assigned to the "Internet Safety for Children Program."

According to at least one local attorney, Woods has been involved in other unreported incidents over the years. Now Terry Woods is in danger of losing his job and costing Lauderdale County taxpayers what could amount to thousands of dollars over his alleged attack on fellow deputy Ronnie Valentine.

On the afternoon of July 7th, witnesses say Woods, by now an 11 year veteran of the sheriff's department, and Valentine, a relatively new hire, became involved in a war of words. Some called the verbal sparring all in jest, but others present say it was more sinister. Woods temporarily left the room where he and Valentine had talked, but soon returned and asked Valentine to accompany him to another part of the Lauderdale County Courthouse.

After the two deputies left the public area, there were no witnesses, but Valentine has charged that Terry Woods took him to the old jail, an area that has not been used for over 15 years, and repeatedly pushed him against the bars of a cell. Deputy Ronnie Valentine claims his back was seriously injured and has filed for workman's compensation, as well as privately stating his intentions of a lawsuit. Lauderdale County Sheriff Ronnie Willis has announced an internal investigation, rather than turning the matter over to the Alabama Bureau of Investigation.

In order to avoid any appearance of partiality, Willis would do well to leave the investigation to another agency. Such shenanigans have been reported before under his watch and do nothing to enhance the credulity of the department or Sheriff Ronnie Willis himself.

Happy Birthday: We wish Red Bay native Mac McAnally and Shoals restauranteur Timm Glass a very happy birthday! Timm is the owner of the fantastic Pizza Marina; if you haven't eaten there yet, you're missing a marvelous treat.

Tom Magazzu - He's Our New Hero

Florence's Tom Magazzu is the editor of the Courier Journal, that ubiquitous newspaper all residents of Northwest Alabama find in their mail boxes each week. As editor, Tom writes the obligatory commentary. Usually we agree with him; on rare occasions we don't, but still enjoy his innate wit and way with words.

We received the July 15th edition in our mailbox this afternoon and were pleasantly shocked at Tom's choice of subject this week: Steve McNair. Since McNair's July 4th murder, we've read endless media spins on his death and the suicide of his girlfriend. We have seen this backstreet affair termed a romance, and few if any comments on how all this has affected McNair's wife and children. Certainly there have been no in depth looks into what kind of young woman dates a married man and brags about it to her family--a family that included a nephew who said she "had it made" with McNair.

When we think the world has sold out to political correct drivel, someone comes along and tells it like it is. That someone in the McNair death is Tom Magazzu. We sincerely hope everyone will read Tom's insightful commentary on this murder-suicide. He manages to say what should have been said by all the other writers who have covered this crime, but have lacked the courage or, sadly, the morals. Thanks, Tom, for what you do for this area.

What's up with this: Lauderdale County law enforcement has made headlines twice already this week, and not in the good way. Isn't it time the citizens of this county demanded accountability from both elected and appointed officials?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tommy D. Arthur - Life Without Parole?

The DNA evidence, or what's left of it, has been examined and doesn't match that of Thomas Douglas Arthur. Specifically, the semen collected from Judy Wicker's underwear matches that of her husband Troy. Judy Wicker, who now uses the name Mary Turner, has changed her story many times; the facts of her husband's execution style murder may never be known. Does that mean Arthur will soon gain his freedom?

At the time of his arrest for Wicker's murder, Arthur was serving a life sentence at the Decatur Work Release Center for the 1977 murder of Eloise West, the sister of his girlfriend/common-law wife Shirley Dodd, a crime he freely admitted. Arthur also admits that on the day of Troy Wicker's murder he was not at his assigned job, a disciplinary offense that would hinder his chance of parole for West's murder.

After Arthur's arrest for the 1982 murder of Wicker, he escaped the Colbert County Jail while awaiting a second trial. During the escape, Arthur used a gun his daughter Sherrie Arthur Stone ostensibly smuggled to him in a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Arthur wounded a jailer in the neck while escaping.

Once free, Arthur fled to Knoxville, Tennessee, where he robbed a bank of $9,000.00, abducted a hostage, and stole two cars. He still faces a 30-year sentence for those crimes should he ever be released from the Alabama Prison System.

Tommy Arthur's chances of release are seemingly nil. Even if the Wicker conviction is overturned, Arthur faces charges in Alabama of escape and attempted murder, for which he would be tried as a violent habitual offender. If convicted, he would be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

Is his conviction for these crimes a given? Considering his track record, nothing seems a certainty for Arthur. For over thirty years, he's provided the public with more thrills and chills than a Saturday matinee. Stay tuned.

Tommy Arthur trivia: According to one source, Eloise West and Shirley Dodd are sisters to Donald Bray, father of convicted Russellville murderess Christie Bray Scott. It's a small world.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Tina Parker Announces Candidacy for Colbert District Judge

For those who weren't able to attend the kick-off picnic today, here's the official announcement we've been waiting for. Several of us here have known Tina Parker for quite some time and have seen her intelligence and compassion first hand.

If any of our readers have specific questions for Tina or the other announced candidates, please feel free to relay them via this column. We will be publishing and comparing platforms later in the election season.

Tina Miller Parker is a Shoals attorney who was born and raised in Colbert County, and she is a candidate for District Court Judge in 2010. Tina’s family roots in the county go back over a century. She was taught by her family that she has a moral responsibility to help others in need, and she fosters that belief both in her law practice and by volunteering for worthwhile local organizations in her spare time.

Tina grew up in Muscle Shoals, where she still lives. She graduated from Muscle Shoals High School in 1989 and from the University of North Alabama in 1993. She fell in love with the law at an early age while working for a small law firm during college, and it was then that she knew she wanted to become a lawyer. She obtained her law degree in 2001 from the Birmingham School of Law while working full time as a paralegal. She practices law throughout northwest Alabama with offices in Muscle Shoals and Florence, and she spends the bulk of her professional time helping people who are injured both on and off the job. She also offers advice to Shoals area residents who are struggling in the economic downturn, and she has handled a wide array of other types of cases. Tina served as Women’s Caucus Chair for the Alabama Association for Justice last year, and she has been recognized in “Who’s Who of American Law”. She taught business law at her alma mater, the University of North Alabama, in 2007 and 2008.

A strong advocate for victims’ rights, Tina volunteers and raises money for local organizations such as Safeplace, PAWS, and the Colbert County Animal Control Association, and she has helped build a Habitat for Humanity home. She also serves on the Board of Directors for C.A.S.A. of Colbert County, an organization that supports abused and neglected children who have been removed from their homes for their protection. As a former child care center owner and director, Tina holds a certification in early childhood development from Northwest-Shoals Community College.

Tina is excited about the opportunity to serve the people of Colbert County as District Court Judge and will maintain integrity in that office. She looks forward to reconnecting with old friends and meeting new people in the months leading up to the June 2010 primary and would be happy to speak to any interested groups. She may be reached at 386-5590 or by e-mail at , and her campaign website address is .

"Be a good American; be an informed American." Dick Biddle

Friday, July 10, 2009

Do You Want Stephen Wayne Caldwell to be Your Neighbor?

Stephen Wayne Caldwell likes to read. The trouble is he likes to read child pornography, as well as sell it.

Caldwell was arrested in Kentucky on August 13, 1994, and convicted of possession and distribution of child pornography on June 19, 1997. As a convicted sex offender/predator, Caldwell is required to register as such wherever he lives; as well as reside a distinct distance from day care facilities and other educational establishments.

By 2006, he was working at Pilgrim's Pride Poultry in Russellville and residing at 630 West Lawrence Street, a working class neighborhood of small homes where American, Mexican, and Guatemalan manual laborers frequently reside. Caldwell last listed the Lawrence Street home in Russellville as his official residence on February 9th of this year.

By June 30th, Caldwell was living with a roommate at 2148 Highway 101 in the Town Creek mailing jurisdiction. Town Creek is a small Lawrence County community located near the cusp of the Lauderdale and Colbert County border. Neighbors who were aware of Caldwell's status reported to Lawrence County Sheriff Gene Mitchell that the roommate's three children frequently spent the night with the two men at their home midway between downtown Town Creek and the village of Hatton to the South.

Caldwell is now being held on $15,000.00 bail in the Lawrence County Jail. After he resolves his current legal difficulties, Stephen Wayne Caldwell will be looking for a new residence. We wish him well as long as he maintains the required distance from children.

What's up with this: Many have questioned for some time why the TimesDaily offered no coverage of Lauderdale teacher Keith McGuire's legal problems at Clements School in adjoining Limestone County. Sources have recently reported that McGuire's sister, Susan McGuire Adams, is a close friend of Bob Gruber who served as TD publisher during most of that period. Nuff said.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Should Christie Bray Scott Die?

Joey Rushing says convicted murderess Christie Michelle Bray Scott should die. Joey Rushing says a lot of things.

The Franklin County District Attorney is quoted in Thursday's TimesDaily as stating:

There's nothing worse than a mother murdering a child for insurance and because they didn't want him.

We're not sure to whom the word "they" refers. Observers said Christie couldn't handle the child. Friends said Jeremy was more interested in work and possessions than he was his own son. William Markam, the man who admitted on tape to being Christie's emotional lover said he didn't care for the child, a child he thought should have been "whooped" more.

Surely, these others in Mason Scott's life deserve some of the blame for his death. No, they didn't murder him, but they apparently made no attempt to intervene in what was obviously a pathological situation, a textbook dysfunctional family.

This morning Joey Rushing will request that Judge Terry Dempsey sentence Christie Scott to death by lethal injection, an Old Testament eye for a eye. Surely spending the rest of her natural life in the hell hole that is Tutwiler Prison would be enough punishment for this sick, sick woman.

Then again, let's not forget defense attorney Robert B. Tuten says it's not over yet...

What's up with this: It was the observation of several in the Franklin County courtroom that Joey Rushing should ditch his pink candy-striped English tie and take some lessons from the very GQ Doug Evans.

Tina Parker Kick-Off Picnic This Saturday

Shoals attorney Tina Miller Parker is having a picnic this Saturday and wants to see you there! We understand there will be a special announcement for all citizens of Colbert County, plus plenty of food, sodas, and entertainment. We've even heard rumors of karaoke, so you might want to bring the throat spray and plan to join in.

For more information about the event, please visit this link.

Two or Tina's favorite causes, animal welfare and the eradication of violence against women, have long been at the top of our list also. We feel sure that once you meet Tina you'll become a fan just as we are.

Besides Tina, you can expect to visit with Brad Holmes, announced candidate for Alabama House of Representatives, and several other local politicians who are eager to hear what Shoals citizens have to say about problems facing this area. Now is the time to make your voice heard, as well as have a good time with friends both old and new. We hope to see you there.

What's up with this: We understand authorities are looking into just who leaked information concerning the subpoenas of accused rapist Keith McGuire's phone records. It's beginning to look like the McGuire trial may prove as riveting as that of Christie Bray Scott.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Are Alabama Fathers Really Ignored?

Greg Allen writes a blog entitled Daddy Types, everything the new father needs to know. According to Allen, he's generally ignored when his wife is present--something he's learned to live with.

Perhaps that's a situation Allen and others can find humor in, but what about legal situations, specifically those involving custody? Do Alabama judges still ignore the father when a mother is in the picture. According to many non-custodial fathers, this is the case.

Gary Lee Parker Jr. of Franklin County is one such father. Parker divorced his wife Lorrie Jane in 2004, at which time Lorrie was awarded custody of their only child. In 2006, Lorrie petitioned the court for permission to move to Huntsville where she ostensibly had a better job. In private, she told her ex-husband her principal reason for the move was to distance him from their daughter. Under the Parent-Child Relationship Protection Act, such moves are subject to approval by family court. Judge Terry Dempsey promptly approved Lorrie Jane Parker's request.

Gary Lee Parker then appealed Judge Dempsey's decision, only to have it upheld by the higher court. Gary Parker also requested custody in order to assure continuity in his daughter's education. This request was also denied, even after it was proved Lorrie Parker's salary in Huntsville would be less than her previous wages in Franklin County.

Is Lorrie Jane Parker a fitter parent than her ex-husband? In all probability, no. Did Judge Dempsey allow Lorrie Parker to retain custody of her daughter simply because she is female? In all probability, yes. That begs the question: Is the Parent-Child Relationship Protection Act administered fairly in Alabama? Unfortunately, there may not be a simple yes or no answer to this question.

There are no winners in divorces. We certainly don't envy family court judges who are required to make such life changing decisions on a daily basis. Yet judging from many of the e-mails we have received recounting legal quandaries extremely similar to Garry Lee Parker's, we suspect that Rodney Dangerfield isn't the only male who gets "no respect."

Note: We understand Crocodile Ed's in the former Emerald Coast building will be opening next week. Good seafood is hard to find in this area, and we encourage everyone to give them a try.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Rape: He Said; She Said

How often are allegations of rape actually false? Apparently, it depends on which scientific studies one wishes to believe.

While some studies document the rate of false allegations of sexual assault as one out of fifty, a 1996 study found such false reports to number one out of four. Certainly the latter, if correct, is a frightening number, but is it really accurate?

The 1996 study includes reports submitted by the families of underage girls who lied about a consensual relationship, as well as cases in which the accusation was almost immediately retracted. Perhaps even more to the point, this study included actual stranger rapes in which the wrong person was identified as the attacker.

So, just how many men are falsely accused of rape, arrested, and brought up on charges? While we may never know the actual number, it would appear to be very few.

The two supporting statements for rapists that we see most often are: "She's just trying to get even," or "She was asking for it." If any readers of this blog actually believe the latter to be a defense, please allow me to recommend a good psychotherapist.

That brings us to the Keith McGuire rape trial scheduled to begin in Lauderdale County on July 20th. In less than two weeks, twelve ordinary men and women will have to decide the fate of this former teacher from Lexington. Besides being accused of raping a 19 year-old woman when he was 30 (McGuire contends the sex was consensual), the former coach has also been accused of fondling at least four teenage students while serving as a physical education instructor at Clements School in Limestone County.

We have been aware for some time that Florence Police detective Suzanna Taylor has been looking into allegations of threats from the McGuire camp. Now the ShoalsInsider has reported Keith McGuire's mobile and land line phone records have been subpoenaed within the past few months. Authorities have not stated their reasons for looking into these records. In some instances, subpoenas are merely fishing expeditions, while in other cases these records are used to establish actual patterns of threats and intimidation.

After years of innuendo and accusations, we hope the trial will offer at least partial closure to those involved. All concerned deserve no less.

Read about the Keith McGuire rape case here.

Hermon T. Graham - Don't Play Without Him

Somehow after Sarah Palin announced she no longer wanted to be the Governor of Alaska, it's fitting that Hermon T. Graham has announced his candidacy to succeed Rep. Tammy Irons in the State House. Graham currently serves as Florence City Councilman for District 3, largely located in the Eastern end of the city.

Graham has previously stated he was being encouraged to run for state representative, although he never bothered to mention the names of those who were doing the encouraging. Graham's district is one of the most economically depressed in Florence, and it's quite possible the good councilman has grown tired of it.

It was only a few years ago that Graham butted heads with Martin Dean, Scott Carrier, and several concerned East Florence residents over the proposed Bass Pro Shop to be located in District 3. When Graham refused to address his constituency's concerns, they proceeded to take the matter into their own hands. Graham's reaction: How dare they?

From the June 2, 2006 TimesDaily:

In the message, Graham said Dean should not have called for a meeting "about things in other people's district(s)," Carrier said.

"I don't approve of having (a) meeting in my district I represent, (when) I'm out of town," Graham stated on the message. "He's playing with fire and whoever is helping him is, too."

Carrier said Graham's message indicated that residents need Graham's permission to assemble in the district Graham represents.

We're sure we're not alone in the belief that a representative should represent, not thwart the will of the district he serves. Considering the amount of the interest in the District I seat, we doubt Hermon T. Graham will be a viable contender.

Quote of the day:
“Some people would be better off with poor eye sight than more credit.” - Bobby W. Miller, Florence Author

Sunday, July 5, 2009

"Goodbye, Miss Liberty..."

"...We won't see you again unless you do an about face."

It was early in 1919, and an almost endless stream of returning Doughboys reached New York Harbor daily. In an era less than two decades after the introduction of the flying machine, a time when only the richest of society contemplated trans-Atlantic cruises, it doesn't seem odd that returning American forces uttered the above quote as they saluted the most recognizable of all national icons.

I know the Doughboy from Athens who recounted the above anecdote never saw her again in person. We hope that today Miss Liberty and what she represents still lives in all our hearts, whether we've seen her in person or not.

Ninety years later, our political ideals have changed, have morphed and expanded like the ever-changing universe until we often forget to reflect on the core of the beliefs that brought our ancestors here. I choose to think they're still with us. I choose to think that our daily ordeals and political infightings are not worse than what the Continental Congress faced; they're simply larger and more apparent to the average citizen due to our immediate access to any and all events at the touch of a button.

I hope ninety or one hundred years from today, there will be someone writing about the military forces who returned from Iraq and Afghanistan, how they felt, and what challenges they confronted. I used the word "hope," because we can never be sure. Democracy is ours now; it's up to us to make certain it's still around for our grandchildren to enjoy.

Artwork by Sandra Baker

Warning: Don't eat too many hot dogs this weekend. Tina Parker is officially launching her campaign for Colbert County District Judge at Gattman Park next Saturday at 11:00. We understand the food will be delicious and the company divine.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Dr. Christopher Parker Gay - A Danger to His Patients?

Sheffield's Christopher Parker Gay is a 41 year-old Osteopath and, until recently, a staff member at Helen Keller Hospital. On May 20th, the Alabama Medical License Commission voted to suspend Dr. Gay's certification to practice in the state, and, according to many of his patients, it came as no surprise.

Christoper Gay graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 1994 with a major in biology. Fifteen months later, Gay enrolled at the Kansas City University of Medicine and Bioscience where he received his Doctor of Osteopathy degree in 1999. Immediately following his graduation, the newly minted D.O. began an internship and residency at the Northwest Regional Medical Center in Anniston, before moving to Sheffield in 2002.

By all accounts, Dr. Gay was well liked by both patients and colleagues. Gay purchased a home on Harbor View Drive overlooking the Tennessee River and indicated he planned to make the small Colbert County town of Sheffield his permanent home. A friend remarked the only shadow on Gay's life was an unspecified chronic illness that afflicted his wife.

By early 2008, friends and patients began to notice a change in Christopher Gay. The Osteopath began to put on weight and often missed office appointments. He instructed his staff not to open shipments of narcotics which he immediately removed to his home. As Gay began to spend less and less time at his office, he frequently left signed blank prescriptions with his nurses to use as needed for patients.

It's unclear how long Dr. Gay could have continued in this manner, but on April 30th a family member reported him to the Alabama Physicians' Health Program, an organization that promotes the mental and physical well being of the state's doctors. The APHP then notified the Medical License Commission which attempted to talk with Dr. Gay in person. After several failed attempts, the Board finally contacted Dr. Gay by phone. It was during this interview that Gay admitted the occasional use of Lorcet and Xanax, but denied he had a problem.

When pressed for drug testing, Dr. Gay thwarted the Commission's requests by shaving his body and trimming his nails. Without hair or nail samples, the Commission was then unable to determine the length or extent of Gay's drug usage. They did note his growing obesity and the abscesses surrounding what appeared to be needle marks. On May 20, 2009, the Alabama Medical License Commission suspended Christopher Parker Gay's license to practice in the state, stating that he "may constitute an immediate danger to his patients and the public." Dr. Gay will have an opportunity to answer the charges at a Montgomery hearing on August 23rd.

What's up with this: Helen Keller is the only local hospital currently in the financial black. It will be interesting to see if any lawsuits result from Dr. Christopher Gay's actions.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Rain for 2009 Spirit of Freedom Celebration?

Planning on attending this year's Spirit of Freedom celebration at McFarland Park? Then consider packing some rain gear along with the sunscreen. Weather prognosticators are predicting a 35% chance of precipitation on Independence Day.

The festivities begin this year at 10:00 a.m and end at 10:00 p.m. Lets hope the TimesDaily photographers can find some more flattering images of the festival than those they captured last year.


Our column on Florence's battle with Nelson Engand Auto Salvage attracted the attention of Clay Eals, author of the definitive biography of legendary Steve Goodman. For all you Stevie fans out there, here's Mr. Eals web sight: Steve Goodman Biography. If the bio is half as impressive as Mr. Eals' sight, it will be a fantastic read.


Today's TimeDaily reports that Holland Noah Elkins, one of two young men shot in a failed Colbert County home invasion last December, has again been arrested on burglary charges. Many of us here are lifelong friends of this young man's family. He obviously has a problem for which he is not getting the needed help. I hope that everyone who knows this family will contact the Lauderdale and Colbert County probation officers and ask how we can assist him.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

If You Can't Take Care of Your Disabled Child...

The only individuals who know the anguish and hardships of taking care of a disabled child are those who are that position. You or I may think we know how we would react, but do we really?

Certainly, everyone has a great big pat on the back for a parent who is the only, or at least primary, caregiver to a child with multiple disabilities, but that's were it usually ends. Not too many "concerned individuals" are willing to give of their time to help this mother or father in their daily lives.

So, how do these caregivers make it? First, they have no time for themselves, but that is their decision. Second, they have no time for their spouse or other children. That's when it becomes more problematic.

Many readers of this blog and various forums that I visit are quick to condemn Christie Bray Scott for murdering her handicapped son. Let me stress here, she has not yet been convicted, but the evidence seems overwhelming that she did it. Several have said she should have just given Mason to someone who could have taken care of him properly. If she had done so, what would the public have said then? I'll wager it wouldn't have been kudos.

One of the finest Christian women I've ever known, the late Ferrill Hill, once told me the best thing she ever did for her family was to place her mentally disabled son Billy in a home. She was then able to concentrate on her marriage and her two healthy children who needed her. Billy was happy with those who were similar to him and actually had a better quality of life in a group home.

If you are in the position of caring for such a child, if you feel that the child is not receiving proper care, if you feel that your family is suffering because of it, please don't let others outside your family influence you in this decision. I know I would not personally think less of you; I would think a great deal more.


We see Russellville Det. Scotty Lowery has removed his Bud Light aluminum bottle from his profile...

What's up with this: The Christie Bray Scott trial is sure to continue well past July 6th. Judge Terry Dempsey is scheduled to officiate at the Keith McGuire rape trial in Lauderdale County on July 20th. All concerned hope there will be no more delays.

"And the Graveyards of the Rusted Automobiles"

"Honestly, I don't notice it," she said of the salvage yard. "It just doesn't bother me because it's a legitimate business." She added that what people in the city see as junk, the England brothers see as profit. - Rhea Tays Fulmer, Lauderdale District I Commissioner

While Lauderdale County Commissioner Rhea Tays Fulmer may be blinded by dollar signs, others in the Shoals have been at odds with the England brothers for the past 15 years. Brothers Nolan and Nelson (Red) England own adjoining salvage yards at the eastern entrance to Florence. The twin junk yards lie on the north side of Florence Boulevard in an unincorporated area. In other words, nothing the city fathers have to say about the businesses matters, and the Lauderdale County Commission continues to turn a blind eye, stating the regulation of such enterprises is not within its current legal domain.

When Nelson England first opened his salvage yard in 1965, the area was still considered rural, and junked autos were hardly the most unsightly adornments along U.S. Highway 72. By 1994, the Alabama Department of Transportation initiated a suit against England, claiming he had encroached on its right-of-way and was violating the Highway Beautification Act. In March of that year, England planted trees and erected fencing in an attempt to shield his business from the passing public, but the DOT declared these were also on state ROW and mowed them down while moving utility lines. In August 1994, Circuit Court Judge Larry Mack Smith gave Nelson England 60 days in which to remedy the problems.

England retained Florence attorney John Morrow to represent the salvage business, and Morrow managed to obtain delays in enforcing Smith's order. By 1996, Morrow himself became the subject of an investigation into the embezzlement of clients' funds, and the DOT lawsuit fell by the rusted and littered wayside.

At the urging of Florence City Councilman Tommy Pirkle, the Alabama DOT resurrected the suit in 2003, and Circuit Court Judge Mike Suttle imposed a second 60 day order to shield the business from public view. This time, England was represented by Harold Peck, the former partner of disbarred attorney John Morrow, who attempted to find a compromise that would amicably settle the suit.

Friends of England questioned why Paul N. Johnson was not subjected to a similar suit for his large stretch of similarly junk-ridden property. Did the City of Florence and the State DOT have it in for Nelson England personally? According to officials with the DOT, Johnson's property was classified as a construction site and did not fall within the range of their regulations. Without home rule, Lauderdale County lacked any legal footing to force Johnson to clean up his perpetual earth moving operations riddled with rusting equipment very similar to that found on England's property.

It was during this period that England learned he was entitled to sue the State DOT for the trees and fencing destroyed in the 1994 utilities move, delaying any permanent settlement yet again. Now, five more years have passed. The State of Alabama has not reimbursed Nelson England for the property it destroyed, and England has not complied with the court order to install new screening. Unfortunately, not everyone is as blind as Rhea Tays Fulmer to the gardens of broken glass and rusted metal that mark England Salvage--just as Steve Goodman had it pictured.

What's up with this: New Coffee Health Group CEO Jody Pigg is looking for ways to improve cash flow at its three facilities. Perhaps a look at nepotism policies would be in order?