Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Best of the Shoals?

Love the Shoals? Want to celebrate your life here? Here are a few "can't live without" products, but we warn you--none of them is made in the Shoals.

1. Muscle Shoals sign on canvas (pictured), 29" x 18", $300.00. From in Lockbourne, Ohio

2. Kilby School hoodie, $40.00. From Schooldigger in Shoreline, Washington

3. Colbert County Indians stein, $24.00. From Zazzle in Redwood City, California

4. Wilson Warriors button, $3.00. From Zazzle in Redwood City, California

5. Red Bay High hockey team towel, $10.00. From the
Tiger Shop, (Okay, this one is in Red Bay, but who knew they had a hockey team?)

All nice products, but we're holding out for the Florence Golf & County Club commemorative print on sale next week at Florence City Hall.

Really need a nice custom tee-shirt? Shop locally at Holt Screen Printing, 1100 North Main Street, Tuscumbia, 383-4658. We promise you'll be exceedingly pleased with both product and service.


Friday, February 26, 2010

Keith McGuire Certification Hearing Reopened

For our 500th post, we return to the subject of teacher sex...

According to sources at the Associated Press, a ruling on the teacher certification of Brian Keith McGuire, formerly of Lexington in Lauderdale County, was to have been handed down by the end of this month. Once again, there has been a delay in a final judge's ruling on the revocation of McGuire's Alabama State license.

For those who came in late, two Clements students accused the teacher/coach of inappropriate behavior in 2002. McGuire stated that he "had a problem" and resigned his position at the Limestone County school without any formal charges being filed against him.

Six years later, other charges from McGuire's stay at Clements came to light, and the Alabama Department of Education sought to have his teaching license revoked for "immoral conduct or unbecoming or indecent behavior." By the time testimony was completed in the hearing, separate rape charges had been levied against McGuire. Presiding judge Walter Turner then placed his decision on hold until the rape case was adjudicated.

A Lauderdale County jury found McGuire not guilty of the rape charges last July, but by then Judge Turner had retired, and the case was referred to a second jurist who had to evaluate the extensive testimony before ruling. According to sources at the Athens News Courier, the replacement judge had promised a verdict by the end of February. Unfortunately for all, this strange case has taken another convoluted turn.

James R. Ward, associate counsel for the Alabama Department of Education and current prosecutor in the State's complaint, has informed us that Judge Walter Turner has returned to the case. Further, attorneys representing McGuire (in all probability provided by the Alabama Education Association) have requested that the case be reopened for additional testimony on behalf of McGuire.

Ward has provided no timeline for the hearing other than it may be "several weeks" before any further action is taken. At this rate, Keith McGuire will be ready to collect his state retirement before a decision is made on the revocation of his teaching license. Surely after eight years, both sides are ready for closure in this highly publicized proceeding.

For the complete background on this case, you may wish to visit the Shoals Crime site.


Of Pastafarians and Colbert County District Judges

With slightly over three months until the primary election, the gloves are beginning to come off for some candidates and their supporters. Actually, one Colbert County District Judge candidate apparently never donned any gloves to doff at the appropriate minute.

Our question today is "Can a Pastafarian be a good Colbert County District Judge?" If you don't know what a Pastafarian is, that's why we have Google. Can he or she be a competent judge? Absolutely. That does not mean that we would vote for such a person, but we have the sensibilities to know that even Pastafarians have the mental capabilities to execute the office of District Judge in Alabama.

We have not officially endorsed any candidate in the Colbert County race (or the race for District Judge in Lauderdale where the campaign remains as quiet as a courthouse cordless mouse); however, we have been seriously surprised by some recent comments concerning Democratic hopeful Chad Coker. Coker is, don't faint, not originally from Colbert County.'s not seems that Coker may have blue blood. With the exception of the stray Vulcan strolling Montgomery Avenue, we were under the impression that all Colbert Countians had blood of various hues of red--even the Auburn fans.

Those who choose to debate the Colbert County District Judge's race on such trivial and misguided excuses for issues do nothing but reinforce outsiders' opinions of us in haystack-filled Alabama. Yes, a native of Lamar County is just as qualified to serve as Colbert County District Judge as anyone born at Helen Keller Hospital.

Second, those who condemn Judge Carpenter for privately endorsing a certain candidate should remember that if he can be banned from such speech, then Shoalanda can be forced to remain quiet on the subject. If Shoalanda can be muzzled on political endorsements, then so can you, gentle reader. It's a slippery slope.

You may choose to vote for Chad Coker, Lamar County native, or not to vote for him, but please do so on other issues than the location of his nativity. That being said, District Judges cannot sentence anyone to death, stop abortion, or enforce nuclear weapon bans. Bone up on the office and the candidates. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing; let's all live dangerously.

Remembrances: If you have any anecdotes concerning Bill Allgood, sometimes known as Harvey or Cliffy, please send them to us. We will be dedicating a column to this cyberspace icon in the near future.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

City Has No Plans for Country Club?

If you live in Florence, or perhaps just shop frequently in the Lauderdale County seat, some of your tax dollars just made 100 individuals $20K richer. Why?

We're not sure. Mayor Bobby Irons has announced that the city currently has no actual plans to expand the current landfill into the Golf and Country Club property--it just didn't want this wonderful deal to slip through its municipal fingers. We know that Councilman Barry Morris' father-in-law benefited from the sale. Who else received money from the purchase of this stately white elephant?

Surely the city didn't buy the FG&CC in order to ensure more paying customers for its Blackberry Golf Course, now hard pressed to compete with two Robert Trent Jones Golf Courses? In our column yesterday on the small Colbert County town of Cherokee, we mentioned the expression "follow the money." It may not have applied to that comical circus near the Mississippi state line, but we have no doubt it does here.

Now we not only own a luxury golf course and club house, we'll be footing the bill for its upkeep. Located on the edge of the city with little use, how long until vandals discover a new venue for their senseless graffiti and destruction?

We expected better from our council. We're just not sure why.

What's up with this: A reader has informed us that Pasquale's in Muscle Shoals has closed. Indeed, it has. Too bad the city to the south of Florence didn't see fit to bail our this icon.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Cherokee Gas & Water Board - More Popular Than We Thought

For the past eight years, Barbara Gayle Carroll has served on the Gas & Water Board of the small Colbert County town of Cherokee, estimated population 1,200. Current mayor Chuck Lansdell would like to see Carroll serve a third term. Apparently at least two other Cherokee residents would like to thwart Lansdell's wishes. Art Walker and Emma Haley have also applied for the opening.

The position pays no money and, presumably in a town with Cherokee's recent history, may carry a burden of built-in angst. So, why the sudden interest in this rather low profile, no respect municipal task?

Carroll is certainly more than qualified for the position, having been a water department watch dog since 1997 when she questioned the need for a 1.3 million dollar water system in a town with only 750 active water accounts. According to Lansdell, Carroll has also volunteered to read water meters when the department has been short handed.

Applicant Art Walker serves under Lansdell in the Cherokee Fire Department; sources say he has often been at odds with Mayor/Chief Lansdell over various city related projects. Both Walker and Emma Haley seem to be favored by most council members whom Lansdell has accused of being supporters of his predecessor Mignon Willis.

Obviously in any political brouhaha, the first order of business is to follow the money; however, since this is Cherokee, the Water & Gas Board may just be a victim of petty grievances that boiled over into other areas. Bottom line: Why doesn't the town let Chuck Lansdell have this job as well--he certainly likes to brag that he runs everything else in the town.

Notice: If you have children who participate in the YMCA after school program in Florence, please contact the admins if you have questions about their teacher/caregivers.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Malones, McWilliamses, & the Cherokee Library

As with many small towns, you'll be able to see the same surnames printed on various storefronts and attached to signage at various city offices. These families who have decided to remain in place in the communities in which they were born are usually those who do the most for the towns of their birth. This can be either a huge plus or a worrisome minus.

Such is the case of Cherokee, now currently in the news for more reasons than we can enumerate without looking at our notes. Two of these old family names are the McWilliamses and the Malones.

In 1966, Mrs. James McWilliams chaired the committee that brought Cherokee its first library, with Ross Malone a charter member. In 1986 Sarah McWilliams (Mrs. James?) is mentioned in Cherokee annals as paying off the library mortgage and donating the edifice to the town. Not a small financial feat, we're sure.

By 2007, Allison Paige Hite McWilliams was appointed the Cherokee Library Director by then-Mayor Mignon Willis, presumably without a background check. It wasn't until Chuck Lansdell's term that a shortfall of almost $17,000.00 was discovered. It also came to light that Cherokee City Clerk Melinda Malone had blindly notarized an (as yet) unknown legal document that was worth thousands to McWilliams. Melinda Malone is married to Cherokee Town Councilman Mike Malone.

Paige McWilliams is currently under indictment for embezzling the 17K, while Lansdell has added a private suit over the secret document said to be worth in the neighborhood of 40K. We're sure there will be more developments to follow, but for now we think there might be a big demand for printed programs to this slug fest.

Overheard at church: I wanted a diamond tennis bracelet for Valentine's and all I got was this ridiculous blue plastic white elephant from Q-Gas.


ALFRA's Recommendations to the Mobilized Parent Protection Act

Find below the Alabama Family Rights Association (AFLRA) recommendations to the House Judiciary Committee Bill (HB 408-VET Sub)

The ALFRA bill is called the Alabama Mobilized Parent Protection Act.

The ALFRA legal research team studied similar laws from sister states. Our version is consistent with those similar laws.


ALFRA Proposed Act - 2010-02-19

Alabama Mobilized Parent Protection Act

SYNOPSIS: This bill addresses (1) custody modifications to mobilized parents in the armed forces; and (2) when any legal action not listed within this Act is filed against a mobilized parent, provisions of the federal Service members Civil Relief Act (SCRA) shall be applicable.




For the purposes of this article the following words shall have the following meanings:

(1) ARMED FORCES. The National Guard and the Reserve Components of the Armed Forces, the United States Army, the United States Navy, the United States Marine Corps, the United States Coast Guard, and the United States Air Force, and any other branch of the military and naval forces or auxiliaries of the United States or this state.

(2) MOBILIZED PARENT. A parent who:

(a) Is a member of the armed forces; and

(b) Is called to active duty or receives orders for duty that is outside the state or country, which is consistent with provision of the SCRA.

Actions filed against a mobilized parent.

A court shall apply the Service member Civil Relief Act to any legal action filed against a mobilized parent while said parent is on active duty in the armed forces.

Temporary modification of decree for child custody or parenting time for children of a mobilized parent.

(1) A court shall not permanently modify a decree for child custody or parenting time solely on the basis that one (1) of the parents is a mobilized parent.

(2) Any modification of a child custody decree based on the active duty of a mobilized parent shall be temporary and shall revert back to the previous child custody decree at the end of the deployment, as appropriate.

Petition for assignment of parenting time rights to legal or biological relatives while a mobilized parent is out of the state on active duty military service.

(a) When a mobilized parent has been called to active duty military service and the active duty service requires the parent to be out of the state for a period of at least ninety (90) days, the mobilized parent may petition the court with jurisdiction of the order granting parenting time for a modification of that order for the temporary assignment of that parent's parenting time rights to a legal or biological relative or relatives, provided said relatives, are determined to be fit, willing and capable of exercising said parenting times. The mobilized parent shall be joined in the petition by the relative or relatives to whom the parent is seeking to assign parenting time rights. The petition shall include a proposed parenting time schedule with the relative or relatives that shall not exceed the parenting time granted to the parent at the time of filing the petition.

(b) A court shall hold a hearing regarding sub section (a) within 60 days from date petition is filed, and shall issue an order within 30 days of said hearing, unless the court has valid concerns to the fitness of said relatives.

(c) Any time a valid concern of fitness regarding legal or biological relative or relatives of the mobilized parent is brought to the courts attention, the court shall order a home study or other investigation as required to protect the children. Said investigation shall conclude within 30 days concerns are brought to the courts attention.

(d) Any findings of unfitness under subsection (c) shall be determined by clear and convincing evidence. The court shall list written findings of fact to support such determination.

(e) Any party that makes false accusations of unfitness against a military parent, and/or legal or biological relative of a military parent regarding sub section (a) shall be fined no less than $5,000, plus reasonable attorney fees payable to the parties required to defend such false accusations.

(f) If the mobilized parent does not petition the court for said temporary modification within ninety days (90 days) of mobilization, the children shall remain first, in the primary care of the non-mobilized parent, provided said parent desires primary care of the children; or second, in the care of the guardian the mobilized parent approved under the military care plan required by the armed services. Said parenting times shall revert back to the previous custody decree at the end of the deployment, as appropriate.

(g) The court shall presume unless the petitioning mobilized parent has been found unfit - by clear and convincing evidence - that said parent has a fundamental parental right to make best interests decisions for said children.

(h) The court shall grant the petitioner's request for assignment of parenting time if the court finds that said parenting time is not inconsistent with this Act, and not inconsistent with the federal Service members Civil Relief Act.

(i) An order granting an assignment of parenting time rights pursuant to this Act shall terminate immediately upon the termination of the petitioner's term of out of state active duty military service.

ALFRA - MD 2010-02-19

Thanks to Mark Davis of ALFRA for introducing this meritorious bill and assisting with its passage.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Will We Ever Know Who Killed the Flippos?

Four months after the explosion that both emotionally and literally rocked the small Franklin County town of Red Bay, three combined teams of investigators were no closer to finding their bomber than they had been on July 11, 1981. The three Flippo daughters had offered a ten thousand dollar reward for any information, with then-Alabama Gov. Fob James matching the amount. That amount of the reward in today's dollars would be roughly $45,000.00--yet, there were no takers.

After four years of no valid clues, then-Gov. George Wallace added still another ten thousand dollars to the available rewards. Investigators decided to release small amounts of information. An ex-boyfriend of the youngest daughter had been cleared, as had a band of Marion County bootleggers who lived near the home of one of the Flippos' older daughters. While never completely authenticated, investigators by now believed that Flippo, the former president of Red Bay National Bank, left the mayor's office in 1975 because of a temporary health problem. They also believe that Ruth, a retired school teacher, heard the bomber as he placed the explosive under the bedroom, causing her to attempt to stand and resulting in her unusual injuries. Those at the scene said her last words were, "Oh, somebody please help me."

By January 1993, Franklin County Sheriff Larry Plott declared the case at a dead end. Without new information, there was nothing left to investigate. The TimesDaily lists the 1985 murder of Florence teacher Tommy Morris as one of the area's oldest unsolved cases. Perhaps Red Bay sits too closely to Mississippi for many in the Shoals to remember the tragic deaths of J. N. and Ruth Flippo.

Their daughters and friends still remember. There's still a $30.000.00 reward offered for any information leading to the murderer(s). Surely someone knows something...

Thought for the day from
Butch Hancock: Life in Lubbock, Texas, taught me two things: One is that God loves you and you're going to burn in hell. The other is that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth and you should save it for someone you love.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

How the Flippos Lived & Died

J. N. Flippo Jr. was born in Hodges, Alabama, not far from the town in which he was murdered. He married his sweetheart Ruth and moved to Red Bay in the 1940s. The family raised three daughters who attended Red Bay Schools, while J. N. worked at a local bank, eventually becoming president.

Seeking to give back to his adopted hometown, J. N. ran for mayor and won the office easily, but decided to leave public service three years into his term. If anyone outside J. N.'s family knew why Flippo had become disenchanted with public office, they kept his secret as their own. Too young for retirement, J. N. opened an insurance office in the small town, and it prospered as had his other business endeavors. Except for the hour each morning J. N. visited with cronies at the local coffee shop, he was never far from the side of Ruth who helped with the insurance agency.

While all three of the Flippo's daughters had done well in school, those who knew the family called them shy. That combined with their relative affluence caused a few to term them snobbish, but those who knew them well said that was far from the truth. By 1981, the older two were married, and the youngest was away at college.

The weekend of Saturday July 11, 1981, one of the Flippos' cars was in the shop. Did someone think the couple was away for the night? A hidden grate behind the house appeared to be undisturbed, while someone had obviously loosened the more visible grate under the couple's bedroom, possibly indicating intimate knowledge of the home's floor plan.

A thundering blast rang through the town at 3:00 a.m. Responders were on the scene within minutes finding the 68 year-old J. N. Flippo, sleeping nearer the wall, already dead. Ruth, also 68, with splinters from the floorboard embedded in the calves of her legs was alive, but died twenty minutes later at Red Bay Hospital.

The entire town of Red Bay was in shock. As word spread that the blast was intentional, neighbors gathered to talk and grieve. Who would have killed the mayor and his family. Almost three decades later, the same town continues to ask the same question.

Tomorrow: The investigation


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Does the Mayor's Killer Still Walk Among Us?

Dead Bay...did anyone call the small Northwest Franklin County town Dead Bay before former Mayor L. N. Flippo and his wife Ruth were brutally murdered early that Saturday morning July 11, 1981? The blast that shook Red Bay, Alabama, at approximately 3:00 a.m changed the community forever. No one has ever been held responsible for the slayings, and after 28 years, no one may ever be.

When first awakened by the blast, neighbors assumed a natural gas line had exploded. Investigators who appeared within minutes of the blast quickly ruled out that possibility. Some were quick to mention plastic explosives since no fire was present--a ball of the highly combustible material could easily have been tossed through the picture window of the Flippo home. Others had a more practical idea.

Large amounts of explosives had been stolen from a Colbert County construction site the month before, never to be accounted for. A loose grate under the Flippos' bedroom and pieces of a shovel handle found nearby indicated to investigators that explosive material had been shoveled under the couple's bedroom and then ignited. Did the Flippos have enemies close enough to know in which bedroom they slept, or was it all a horrible coincidence? Redbay Police, Franklin County officials, and the ABI all chose to issue a gag order on any outgoing information, yet citizens of the small town were bound to talk among themselves.

Who or what had made the Flippo family the target of a lethal bombing? Whoever he was (and most bombers are male), he's never been caught.

Tomorrow: The Flippo family.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Go to War...Lose Your Child?


A Guest Commentary by

Mark Davis

I read in today’s TimesDaily the House Judiciary Committee meets at 9 a.m. Wednesday in room 123 at the Alabama Statehouse to consider a bill that would prohibit a judge from altering custody in a divorce case because a parent has been called for active duty in the National Guard or Reserves.

I found this with interest because the bill I wrote includes same.

I talked to the ALFRA State President Holly Wales, moments ago. She had no word from the legislators working with us to sponsor our bill.

I haven’t seen the bill to be considered in the morning and I haven’t seen a similar one pre-filed, but our bill has been promoted statewide. The military section has been a noted ‘hot topic’ in the political arena.

As for the shared parenting bill , the title of it has changed to, ‘No Parent Left Behind.'

This late in the session, ALFRA is now working toward getting it pre-filed for 2011 session. It wasn’t completed early enough to pre-file in 2010. We have a jr. legislator as co-sponsor but he is waiting for a sr. member to co-sponsor it.

We will have more on this from Mark in days to come.


Local theatre company presents Spiders & Gasoline: Your Childhood Fears Speak.

the end, Florence’s newest nonprofit theatre company, presents Spiders & Gasoline: Your Childhood Fears Speak, Feb. 25, 26 and 27 at midnight and Feb. 28 at 2 p.m. The Stranger, the Clown, the Monster in the Closet and more of your scariest childhood fears come alive in this series of monologues written and produced by local playwrights. Admission is $5 general admission, $10 luxury seating. Thursday, Feb. 25 is our Pay What You Can night. the end is located at 106 S. Pine Street in Florence. Come support local, underground theatre in the Shoals. For details, visit (that’s theatre with an “re”) or find us on Facebook and Twitter.

Quote of the Day: Don't do drugs because if you do drugs you'll go to prison, and drugs are really expensive in prison. ~ John Hardwick


How to Give to Journey into Hope

Often when disaster strikes, we're bombarded with pleas for donations from various organizations. Certainly many of these organizations are legitimate, but even these often have large in-house expenses that consume much of your generous funding. If you want to help those in Haiti and the adjoining Dominican Republic, just how do you make sure your hard-earned dollars go where they're supposed to?

Journey into Hope is a small organization with almost no overheard. JIH owns no fancy airplanes, nor does it provide workers with large salaries. From a site page, this is what they do:

January 15, 2010:
As you can imagine, many former Haitian refugees who are now living in the DR are frantically trying to reach and connect with family members still in Haiti. The number of unidentified bodies in Haiti continues to grow. In the DR, Richard was able to serve lunch to 50 kids today in the Journey Into Hope soup kitchen. He then shopped for more supplies to continue the lunch provisions this week. He has also seen a 17 year old girl who is in great need of surgery. Richard plans to work with her in getting the needed operation set up for her for possibly next week. He did sound tired but good. It seems to take him a couple of days to recover from the long travel day he always experiences in getting down there.

February 1, 2010: Of course the devastation of the earthquake in Haiti has been seen in the Dominican in many ways. Family members are constantly in search of those still in Haiti. Richard has been able to arrange for transportation for some family members to be reunited in the Dominican with their loved ones. He was instrumental in getting over 11 million water purification tablets out of customs in Puerta Plata,DR, and sent by truck to Santo Domingo where they were then flown to Haiti. He is in the midst of trying to get some 200 simple water purification systems completed and plans to drive them to Santo Domingo himself. He was able to get the 17 year old girl the surgery she needed last week. He has aided in several other medical needs as well. The Journey Into Hope soup kitchen remains a priority as the 50+ meals that are served to the children is usually the only meal they will receive. Buying supplies for the kitchen as well as for other hungry families keeps Richard busy.

If you feel this is the kind of small, conservative organization to which you could safely and securely donate money, join us in making Journey into Hope one of your favorite charities. Please send any financial donations to :

New Life Christian Church
P.O. Box 89
Linden, TN 37096
Dominican Mission Fund
(931) 589-2838

Coming soon: A new Food/Dining Blog featuring "Trader," D. K. provides inside details on two grisly Shoals murders, and more breaking news on the Andrew Scott felony drug arrest (our legal eagles tell us it was definitely a felony for which the UNA nursing student was arrested last February 4th at 3:00 a.m. in downtown Florence.)


Monday, February 15, 2010

Andrew Daniel Scott of Killen Arrested

Our series on Journey into Hope will continue tomorrow.

According to the Law & Order report in Sunday's TimesDaily, Andrew Daniel Scott, 20, of Killen, Alabama, has been arrested in Florence for the possession of a controlled substance (non-marijuana) and related drug paraphernalia. Known as "Hotty Scotty," this Brooks High graduate was a frequent subject in Shoals cyberspace late last year when he attempted to win custody of his illegitimate son. Judge Jimmy Sandlin of the Lauderdale County Circuit Court ruled that the child's custodial parents could proceed with finalizing the adoption, at which point Scott appealed the decision. The case was to have been heard as early as April; however, the direction the Scott/Odom families will now take is unknown.

According to Roger Scott, Andrew's father, the younger Scott has already spent thousands of dollars in legal fees and in preparing a home for the child. According to arrest records, Scott listed his current address as 10 Terrapin Close in Killen, the home of his mother Pam Odom and her current husband.

Whether the conviction of this offense, if it should occur, is a felony or misdemeanor, depends in large part on the amount of drugs involved. In either case, Scott would not be eligible for Federal financial programs to assist in his education for one year after the conviction date. Scott is also scheduled to enroll in the University of North Alabama Nursing School next September. His admittance into this program is in jeopardy as well. Most institutions use the "five year rule," making Andrew Scott, if convicted, ineligible to enter the program until 2015.

It has always been the opinion of us at Shoalanda that the best permanent placement of the child is with the stable custodial parents. We also hope this unfortunate incident is a reminder to us all that actions speak volumes of character, while mere words are often as serpentine as the proverbial snake in the grass.

Related Articles: Who are Rylan's Real Parents?, Soylent Green Still Has Some Lessons for Us

Holiday Haze: So wiped out from Valentine's that you forgot today is President's Day? If you really want to celebrate George Washington's birthday, you still have time--it's not until February 22nd. We're sure you can find the comedy The Time of Their Lives on eBay or Amazon. This 1946 film is so amusing that even Florence City Council critics will laugh.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

How's Your Heart This Valentine's Day?

Did you buy her roses that she'll toss in the trash within the week? Did you buy him a tie that he'll hide in a dresser drawer until he thinks it's safe to donate it to Goodwill? Do our readers feel that most money spent on Valentine's gifts is totally wasted? Then why not do something positive, something that will have a lasting impact.

Several days ago we brought you a blog concerning Journey into Hope, a humanitarian organization founded by Florence native Richard Taylor. For some time, this organization has been concentrating its efforts on the Dominican Republic, a small country that takes up approximately two-thirds of the small Caribbean island of Hispaniola. The remaining third is Haiti, a country even more poverty stricken than its neighbor.

Pictured above are two views of the small island nations. The map on the left illustrates the location of Hispaniola in relation to the United States. It doesn't look that far, does it? Approximately 680 miles separate the island from Miami, Florida. In other words, the citizens of these two countries are closer to us in the Shoals than many US states.

While Journey into Hope is still primarily concerned with the Dominican people, obviously last month's devastating earthquake has affected its work. Many Haitians had already taken refuge in the Dominican Republic, and now most of these individuals have no idea concerning the fate of their loved ones still in Haiti.

How big is your heart this Valentine's Day? Take inventory of its size, shape, and disposition--tomorrow we'll look at what Journey into Hope has already accomplished.

The best to all on St. Valentine's Day 2010!


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Is the AEA Protecting Amanda Duboise Watkins?

Amanda Ladel Duboise Watkins is no longer an employee of the Sheffield School System if we are to believe local news reports. Yet, the Sheffield Board of Education refuses to verify that fact, referring all inquiries to their attorney. What does their legal representative say? He has yet to return calls to the Associated Press in Montgomery.

Rest assured that Mrs. Watkins is still a member of the Alabama Education Association, a teachers' union headed by Paul Hubbert, a one-time friend and associate of Watkins' father Delmer Duboise. The elder Duboise served as both instructor and Public Relations Director for Northwest Community College for approximately ten years, leaving the small two-year institution in 1996.

According to newspaper accounts from that era, Duboise, then 47, was arrested on May 27, 1995, for criminal solicitation. According to Franklin County authorities, Duboise offered a 20 year-old male student the munificent sum of $25.00 to engage in a sex act. (Feel free to inject any jokes about the Bill and Chelsea Clinton of Northwest Alabama.) In case you think the amount $25.00 was a typo, rest assured it is not. That amount would equal approximately $34.31 in 2010.

Duboise announced that he had been set up by his political enemies and demanded a trial sans jury. Franklin County was adamant that Duboise should be judged by a jury of his peers--thus producing an extended legal battle in which the AEA provided Duboise assistance. While awaiting trial, Delmer Duboise was assigned to the Institutional Research Department at Northwest Community College.

After a legal battle that finally terminated in the Alabama Supreme Court the next March, Duboise was allowed to be tried without a jury. The Franklin county educator was eventually offered probation for the misdemeanor offense and quietly left academic life. For the past several years, Duboise has been mentioned in various news outlets as a "minister."

Have Delmer Duboise's connections to Paul Hubbert and Jim Folsom Jr. influenced the stance of the Sheffield Board of Education? Their refusal to discuss the incident with the press has not made the sex charges against Amanda Duboise Watkins go away; their refusal has made the Montgomery AP journalist just that more determined to report on the situation.

Note: While we have stated these facts before, we will do so again for those who insist upon promoting rumors about various political candidates:

1. We are not connected in any way to the ShoalsInsider.
2. We have not endorsed any candidate in the 2010 elections.
3. Anyone is welcome to send us commentary/articles. In fact, we encourage it.
4. No political candidate is associated with this blog. We have published one column from Tina Miller Parker concerning CASA, an extremely worthy organization. Any candidate may send us material to publish at any time. Again, we encourage it.
5. No one associated with this blog is familially related to any candidate in Colbert County.
6. The noted columnist that we anticipate joining our blogging group is not a candidate in any election.
7. Any individual(s) asserting anything contrary to the above is merely muckraking and does not serve their candidate(s) well.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Amanda Duboise Watkins' Political Connections

Amanda Watkins has been accused of having sex with a 15 year-old former student. Actually, from early accounts of the arrest, the 38 year-old Mrs. Watkins was literally caught with her knickers down. Now the Sheffield Board of Education is refusing to name the infamous teacher in public reports, and a reporter with the Associated Press in Montgomery is asking why.

Mrs. Watkins' father has been active in North Alabama and State politics since his daughter's birth. In 1972, Delmer Duboise, then a resident of Phil Campbell, ran for delegate to the Democratic National Convention. By 1975, Duboise had been elected to the Franklin County Board of Education. As a member of the Board, Duboise prided himself on his attempts to halt the cash-strapped Board from excess spending. In fact, Duboise was so vocal in his criticism of the Superintendent, few doubted his next move would be an attempt to unseat then Superintendent Jimmy Clements.

By 1977, Duboise had been appointed Franklin County Uni-Serv Director of the Alabama Education Association , becoming friends with Paul Hubbert. In September 1978, Duboise abruptly resigned as Chairman of the Franklin County Democratic Party; the next month saw him ensconced as the administrative assistant to Jim Folsom Jr., then head of the Public Service Commission.

In 1980, Delmer Duboise saw his first political setback when opponents of Folsom presented evidence that the administrative assistant was using a PSC vehicle to travel from Montgomery to his home in Russellville. Duboise's political aspirations hit an even greater snag in 1982 when six black staff members of the PSC accused him of "racially discriminatory action."

By 1984, Duboise was back home in Russellville and seeking to become the first director of the Russellville Industrial Development Board. After not making the final cut, Duboise decided to return to the realm of education. At that time, Northwest Community College, then a separate entity from its sister school in the Shoals, was in need of a Public Relations Director. Sources say Duboise used his influence with Paul Hubbert to secure the position. For the next few years, Delmer Duboise's star was again on the rise.

Tomorrow: How he earned the name "Delmer Dubious"


Thursday, February 11, 2010

A District Judge Needs WHAT?


A Guest Commentary by


I read with some interest the recent interview on the Shoalsinsider website with candidate for Colbert County District Judge Tim Milam. Mr. Milam is an attorney in Tuscumbia who comes from a blue collar background where he started his law career aspirations in the dust of a construction site and now feels he has earned the right to become heir to George Carpenter’s highly esteemed position as District Judge. And how proactive he already is when it comes to judging others!

He states that “It is crucial for any District Court Judge to have children. I have biological children and have adopted a child. Until a person walks in the shoes they should not be allowed to Judge others.” As well as stating that he is a self proclaimed Christian who “have been involved in (the church) for many years prior to my decision to run for District court Judge and not because of the upcoming election.”

Interesting. One one hand, that sounds like someone who is discerning one's character and ability should be based on their ability to produce children in some manner. But yet, a churchgoer would certainly know the old adage, “judge not lest ye be judged.” What a quandary for the position which Mr. Milam seeks! So should we be expected to deduce that anyone who would be a judge without children would clearly not be knowledgeable, fair or empathetic enough to preside over cases that involve impartial honesty and integrity?

That would leave one to believe that the drug court he believes would be such an asset to our court system should not be presided over by anyone who hasn’t had the experience of being a drug addict. Can you proudly claim that as well sir? What about those that do not have the resources to afford a child? Would you suggest that these folks manipulate the system of government assistance in order to procreate and without the financial resources available to them, possibly create a home life that provides future cases for you to oversee in juvenile court? Just so that one day maybe they too can claim to be qualified to run as judge? And how many juvenile cases have you undertaken again sir? I suppose that any person that comes before you in a court of law, be it an attorney or client that represents a minor should not be allowed to do so unless they have had experience as a physical parent.

I hope you can see how ludicrous your point is. I think you are grossly misrepresenting those of us in the community who do as much as possible for others with or without having had the benefit of being parents. I have never met a perfect parent and certainly would not claim to be one myself. I just feel that it was very telling of yourself, that out of what must be a myriad of knowledge and experience you can claim to bring to the table to qualify you as the best choice, being a parent is one of the few things that you spoke of. I highly doubt anyone that goes to vote in this election will think, well he didn’t say much else-but at least he did have kids. That means very little to many sir-including your constituents who themselves, may not be parents. We want to hear more about your ideas, your morals, your experience, and your future goals.

I want relevancy, not barely concealed mud slinging at the childless candidates and how many committees at church you serve on. The position you are choosing to be elected for does not afford us someone who is grasping at straws as to why they should be elected. I will vote for someone who is qualified and who is already a custodian for the betterment of our future. Someone that serves as a role model and parental figure regardless of weather they have their own children. Someone who is qualified to undertake the responsibility for bringing our community into the future with reverence and respect for the law by making decisions that will empower and fulfill the greater good.

This election is not about how many children our candidates have or will have. Nurturing and creating positive productive members of society for tomorrow is all of our jobs, and our future District Judge should be able to discern that.

Tomorrow: Just what are Amanda Duboise Watkins' political connections?


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sexual Predators? The Trials of Three Teachers

The trial of Jessica Heather DeFoor got underway in Morgan County on Monday. The 36 year-old DeFoor, a former second grade teacher at Danville-Neel Elementary School is charged with enticing a 14 year-old girl for immoral purposes.

During yesterday's testimony, it was revealed that DeFoor was dating
Zachary W. Mullins at the time of the alleged rape. The most startling revelation of the trial concerns the victim herself; the young woman is the sister of Mullins, now 22. The victim testified that after DeFoor and Mullins had sex, her brother then raped her repeatedly, starting a period of abuse that lasted 18 months.

When testimony resumes today, DeFoor's defense team is expected to argue the victim is attempting to lessen her brother's guilt by implicating the teacher, the victim's flag team sponsor. No matter the verdict in this trial, pending charges against Zachary W. Mullins are expected to be upgraded to first degree rape.


The Associated Press office in Montgomery has stated the Sheffield Board of Education has not been forthcoming with details concerning the arrest of Amanda Duboise Watkins, a former Sheffield Junior High teacher charged with rape.

Watkins' father is Delmer Duboise, a former Franklin County Board of Education member and one-time instructor at Northwest Community College. Sources suggest this may have influenced the Sheffield Board's stance on the rape and sodomy charges.

We can look for more from the AP office in Montgomery to be forthcoming in the next few weeks. In the mean time, all court proceedings for Watkins have been postponed until May.


Former Clements High School teacher Keith McGuire, formerly of Lexington, was acquitted of rape and sodomy charges last July; however, the Alabama Board of Education has still not ruled on the status of his teaching license.

McGuire's license was originally suspended pending the outcome of the Lauderdale Court case. Chief Administrative Law Judge Walter Turner was expected to rule on complaints that McGuire had fondled at least four students, the youngest 12; however, due to the delays requested by McGuire's lawyers, the trial was not held until after Judge Turner's retirement.

A second judge has been appointed to review the evidence in those cases, none of which has precipitated formal legal charges. Associated Press writer Jean Cole in Athens has stated the new judge should rule by the end of the month. It's our understanding that if the ruling is in favor of the State Board of Education, Keith McGuire would be allowed to appeal to Circuit Court.

For what it's worth: Just how hard is it for a teacher to keep his/her hands off a student? We hope every parent is involved in their child's education. No child or teenager should have to suffer at the hands of those who have promised to protect them.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Man in the Maze

Love everything about the Trail of Tears? Then you won't want to miss the new Indie film The Man in the Maze. Filmed locally, the story follows four young men who decide to follow the trail; when one of them violates a sacred site, the four are transported back to the actual upheaval of the Cherokee people in 1838.

Central native Steve Hester is currently working on script rewrites with Applied Art Productions in Florence. The movie is scheduled for an August 2010 release.

If you like the illustration from the film's publicity kit, it's suitable to use for wallpaper. Just think, you can advertise the film and scare Great-Granny at the same time...

Are we conservatives?: We here at Shoalanda have always considered ourselves more conservative than not; however, semantics is a cruel mistress. Are we in 2010 perhaps more moderate? A reader sent us the following clip from something called the Political Cesspool. While the clip is fairly innocuous, this "conservative" organization is not. The purpose of displaying the clip? It takes place in Sheffield (albeit called Florence by the program's host).


Monday, February 8, 2010

Protests, Clarifications, and Politics as Usual

Vulcan Materials in Tuscumbia pays Colbert County a large severance tax each year, as well as donating materials to local schools, libraries, and other community endeavors. Therefore, a reader was recently surprised to find at least five, and perhaps more, homemade billboards protesting this giant quarry company. These protest signs are located on Hwy 20 between Barton and Tuscumbia, most immediately adjacent to Vulcan's huge plant complex.

A phone call to the company confirmed that there are such signs in place, but the spokesperson would provide no further information. What, after all these years of business in the same area, has Vulcan done (or not done) to spark such animosity?


Chad Holden has now officially launched his Facebook site and invites supporters to join. Chad has asked that we clarify one statement from our recent profile. While he does describe himself as an Independent, he will be running on the Democratic ticket. Mr. Holden feels the word "Independent" is a wise choice for social networking sites that his students will invariably read. We agree this shows wisdom and commend Chad's choice in the matter.


Congratulations to Sandra Killen-Burroughs on the new canine member of her family. After our blog published a small item about Morris Lentz' foundling Squirt needing a new home, she and her family visited and promptly fell in love. We may need to change the name of our column to Adoptions Are Us.


Yesterday, we published a guest commentary by Renee' Miskell. We have been in contact with Renee' for some time since her friend Jennifer Bragg's murder. Renee' would like us to add that her interest in ensuring appropriate punishment for abusers and murderers extends well beyond Jennifer's case, as evidenced by her commentary on the surprisingly light sentence meted out to Kenneth Sylvester.

Renee' knew Jennifer only the short period of time that the Shapley/Bragg family had lived in the Lexington area. Yet, she has been deeply affected by her death, as have many others.

Remembering Jennifer H. Bragg
July 26, 1990 - February 7, 2008

Jennifer is no longer crying out - she is now still - resting comfortably and in peace under the cover of God’s love, grace and mercy. God rest your beautiful soul, Jennifer. You are surely missed.

I knew you only briefly, I wish I could have helped had I known.

Renee Miskell


Happy birthday tomorrow to our favorite computer guru Jim Fisher who will be in the neighborhood of 110. More birthday wishes to our favorite Lipstick Librarian Jessica Piper who will turn 21ish.


Too Nice, Too Lenient?


A Guest Commentary by

Renee' Miskell

On Friday, February 5, 2010, the TimesDaily reports that Kenneth Sylvester pleads guilty to manslaughter in the beating death of Donnie Guyse in Judge Mike Jones courtroom; thus avoiding the possible 99-year prison sentence Kenneth Sylvester could have received had he been convicted of murder. Kenneth Sylvester faces up to 16 years in prison as part of a plea agreement.

I am sure that Judge Mike Jones and the District Attorneys of Lauderdale County are very nice people - maybe too nice to be in their current positions of protecting the public. Getting 16 years in prison for taking another person's life is definitely not enough time to serve in prison (if he stays in prison that long)!

Is anyone else taking notice of how lenient they have been on murderers?

You are clearly sending the wrong message to murderers and to violent criminals.
It is time that we get officials in office who are hard on criminals and time to stop making short-termed prison sentences and plea agreements with these criminals!

If we need more jobs, and the prisons are over crowded, build more prisons, hire more guards and take action to protect the public. Someone who murders is clearly sick and when that person gets out, he or she will do it again.

Wake up and take action people...this is our town, this is our safety that we are talking about here. Let's not be passive about such an important issue.

Renee' is a Rogersville resident who was close friends with murder victim Jennifer Bragg. It has been exactly two years today since Jennifer's murder. Her killer has 23 years left to serve on his sentence. Let's hope he serves it all.


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Meet Chad Holden, Lauderdale Board of Education Candidate

Is it time for some new blood in the Lauderdale County Board of Education? After the events of the past few years, many county voters may think so. For several months, one could not open a newspaper without reading of the legal wranglings of Lauderdale teachers and administrators. A fresh start may restore confidence in this rural system.

Chad Holden of Greenhill has announced his candidacy for Place 2 on the board. Chad identifies himself as an Independent and is the son of Lexie and Sheila Holden; his wife is the former Julia Beth Truitt (in the interest of transparency, we'll note she is a distant cousin of our publisher). Chad and Julia Beth are the parents of a young son and very interested in the direction local education will take in the next decade.

We hope the citizens of Lauderdale County will continue to watch the two Board of Education races and make an informed decision when they cast their ballot. In the mean time, be sure to congratulate Chad on his interest in our children's future, as well as wish him a happy birthday--he'll be 30 on Monday.

What's up with this: We see that Billy Underwood, Chairman of the Democratic Party of Colbert County, has stated the Colbert race for District Judge will be the most hotly contested election in the Shoals this fall. From the vigorous campaigning so far, we agree. All the candidates are relatively young, and the winner may serve in this position for decades. We hope every Colbert County voter will be ready to make an informed decision in this race as well.


Friday, February 5, 2010

What Does It Take?

Those of you who follow our blog know that our group also writes Shoals Crime. For some time we've been researching a murder that took place on a Lauderdale beach in the summer of 1965. One news article from that era stands out: E. W. Wadsworth, then principal of the now defunct Coffee High School, chastised the Florence Times newspaper for stating a girls' social club was officially connected to the school. Of course, there would never be violence in our schools, or even any organization officially connected to them.

Flash forward 45 years and we have more school shootings than we can enumerate. Three killed in Pulaski, Tennessee, a decade ago. Today a young man's life tragically ended in the corridor of a school that many of us have at least passed on our visits to Madison.

Most of us can remember the first time we entered a local courthouse, only to have to pass through a metal detector. Rather irritating, wasn't it? Well, welcome to the 21st century where schools should automatically be fitted with such detectors. If that's what it takes to prevent another child's death, let's do it.

Schools may soon look like something from the SciFi Channel, but if it saves one life, it's worth it. Perhaps we can even get Kurt Russell to make a guest appearance...

The United State's only surviving World War I veteran Frank Buckles was 109 last Monday. Let's all sign his guest book, and, more importantly, continue to lobby for a World War I memorial in Washington, DC.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Martha Beadle's Eccentricities

Yes, Florence artist Martha Beadle has eccentricities, just not any that are disturbing. Her eccentricities come from her needle which she uses to design AbFab pieces of primitive art.

You may view Martha's work at her website, Martha's Needle Eccentricities. Our showcasing of Martha's talent today serves a twofold purpose.

First, Valentine's Day is just around the corner; what better gift for those you love than an original piece of art. Candy and flowers are soon gone, but one of Martha's original creations will be a 365 day-a-year reminder of your love.

Second, tomorrow is Martha's birthday; we believe she will be in the neighborhood of 29, and encourage all her friends to contact her with well wishes.

Florence artist Martha Beadle is truly an asset to the Shoals art community. Thank you, Martha, for all you do!


Our friend Morris Lentz in Rogersville has a puppy he is trying to place. Squirt desperately needs a home before Morris goes bankrupt buying dog food. Thanks, Morris, for your love of animals, as well as your other well-documented heroism.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

As Cherokee Turns


A Guest Column By

J. J. Ray

How wonderful it is to have a new soap going on in the Tennessee Valley. It gives a completely new meaning to frivolous prosecution. This is nothing new for the city of Cherokee that appears to be stuck in a time warp.

Those of us that live in the 21st Century marvel at the level this soap continues to develop from the 19th century town. Seems like only yesterday when the town rejected Jack's restaurant franchise moving there. Folks in the know said, “They did not need that kinda trash food there.” Shoot, there might be a place for some of the kids to work and what city does not need the additional tax revenue?

Now the soap continues with a disabled woman who uses a golf cart to get around to visit friends. My gosh, that golf cart might reach speeds approaching 10 miles per hour and bring this disabled person some level of enjoyment. The venomous city councilwoman who has been watching too much “Days of Our Lives” sets out to seek some kind of justice for the town. Hello, the Scopes Monkey trials are over. Where are William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow when you need them? Perhaps she would be happy if the disabled woman was put in a pillory and veggies thrown at her. I would venture to guess the venomous woman would probably have the concession for the veggies.

But wait, does this mean that the Amish folks are breaking the law with their horse and buggies? What about those folks in some California cities where only golf cart type vehicles are allowed. Lest we forget, Muscle Shoals where there are signs noting that golf carts are crossing the streets.

Hopefully the national media does not pick up this continuing drama. Most people in the country already have a retro opinion of the south. To take this one-step further I asked some towns people what they thought of the drama. Most thought that is was dumb and gave the 19th century town a bad name. A few suggested that they really did not want any new folks moving there with new-fangled ideas.

After spending some time in the 19th Century town of Cherokee there is no doubt that “The Twilight Zone” does exist and its right here in the 21st Century Tennessee Valley. Where are the reporters and film crews from Fox news when you need them? To add to the already confusing trial, the case has been appealed post brawl at city hall, which was captured and shown on local TV. Wonder who the prosecutor will be. Maybe this case needs the attorney general to prosecute. Hello, Eric Holder come on down.

Facebook Friends: We recently sent you a invitation to join "Journey into Hope." Please take a few seconds to respond; there are no financial requests, only prayers and moral support are required. Many thanks.


What Now for the Florence Golf & Country Club?

The City of Florence is preparing to enter into the final stages of the Florence Golf and Country Club purchase. If this mega-real estate deal is finalized, Florence will own a 157+ acre country club for which it has no immediate plans.

Currently, the City fathers state that an addition to the existing landfill will be at least five years away. Obviously, during the next five years, administration may change and plans for the property be scuttled. Even if this is not the case, Florence will enter into five years of grounds keeping for the acreage and its elaborate clubhouse. Even if the golf course is not maintained, the property will have to be manicured to some degree in order to retain most of its current value.

If the City should decide not to use the FG&CC as a new landfill, has anyone considered how much the taxpayers will have invested in its upkeep? Or if the funds aren't invested in maintaining the property, just who will be willing to purchase what may have become another run-down, overgrown municipal white elephant?


Brad Holmes in 2010: Republican candidate Brad Holmes announced his candidacy for Alabama House of Representatives (Place One) some months ago. As spring approaches, campaigning is gaining momentum. If you are interested in becoming part of the movement to elect Brad to the Alabama Legislature, be sure to visit his site: Brad has much to offer Lauderdale County and Northwest Alabama--Go, Brad!


Tomorrow is a big day for two of our loyal readers. Kari-Kay Harp and Emily Davis Oliver will both be...let's see, sweet sixteen seems about right. Don't forget to contact them via phone, Facebook, or other social network to wish them a wonderful day.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Alabama Line

Have no idea where your favorite Alabama candidate stands in whatever race he or she has entered? Don't think Roy Moore is actually as far ahead in the governor's race as he claims? Then here's a must-read site.

Doc's Political Parlor presents the Alabama Line where you can gauge your candidate's progress, or lack thereof, in the 2010 elections. The line that we linked is being updated this week, so make sure to check back from time to time for the latest from Doc and his prognosticators. Just remember, as Doc says, the line is for personal edification and not to encourage your loss of money.


For all you Facebook addicts out there, here's a reminder to send us a friend request. We're going to be more involved with political and social projects this election year, and we want you to be both informed and involved. Keep watching and reading, we hope to introduce another columnist soon--one that you'll be sure to love.


Happy Birthday tomorrow to Tom Magazzu, editor of the Courier-Journal. We understand he will be 29; be sure to call him to wish him well and inquire if he saw his shadow.


Monday, February 1, 2010

Journey into Hope with Richard Taylor

Richard Lane Taylor is a Florence native and a man who wears many hats. A graduate of the University of Florida and Vanderbilt University, Taylor specialized in Latin American history. Currently he resides in Linden, Tennessee, a town 50 miles north of the Shoals boasting a population of only 1,000 residents.

Taylor owns the Singing Wood Guitar Company where he builds custom pieces as well as restoring other stringed instruments. While we're sure this unique talent is noteworthy in itself, this is not our main purpose in showcasing Taylor.

Richard Taylor is also the founder of Journey into Hope, a humanitarian organization that offers aid to the poorest of the poor in Latin America and the Caribbean. This organization is non-denominational and helps those from all walks of religious life.

We hope you take the time to read about Richard's work, as well as to join his cause on Facebook. Richard Lane Taylor is making a difference; something we should all strive for.

What's up with this: The Anderson Town Council meets tomorrow night. So far, WAFF television is the only news outlet to cover the police situation there. We hope other media will be present to report--the meeting falls under the Sunshine Law, and there should be NO excuse for secrecy.