Saturday, July 31, 2010

Why is Will Foster Misidentified on the Sex Offender List?

William Carl Foster could have had a brilliant career in music. Foster (pictured at right in the early 1980s) was voted the Most Promising Bass Player of the Year by the American Bluegrass Association in 1981. Despite his musical roots, Foster chose a career as a gymnastics instructor.

After being indicted on three counts of the second degree sexual abuse of three former students, Will Foster faced what could have been a long prison sentence. Choosing to plead not guilty, the Foster Family String Band member hired Florence attorney Ralph Holt to defend him at trial--a trial that never took place.

According to court records, Foster was facing charges involving children:

"The actions reportedly began when the girls were 11 and 12 years old, from 1997 to 2001."

However, before the scheduled December 2005 trial, two other former students came forward to report similar abuse. Both girls were 12 and students at the Shoals School of Gymnastics when the alleged abuse began.

Now Foster faced f
ive charges based on five separate but extremely similar accounts of sexual abuse beginning before the young women were 13. Foster agreed to plead guilty to misdemeanor charges. From the April 4 , 2005, TimesDaily:

"As part of the plea agreement, the 39-year-old Foster will serve six months in the Lauderdale County Detention Center and must register as a sex offender."

Was Foster guilty? At the sentencing in Mike Jones' courtroom, William Carl Foster apologized to his victims for any suffering he had caused. The victims and their families had every reason to believe Foster would not be allowed in the proximity of young children. From the Alabama Code:

(5) Criminal sex offense involving a child. A conviction for any criminal sex offense in which the victim was a child under the age of 12 and any offense involving child pornography.

(f) No adult criminal sex offender, after having been convicted of a criminal sex offense involving a child, shall loiter on or within 500 feet of any property on which there is a school, child care facility, playground, park, athletic field or facility, school bus stop, or any other business or facility having a principal purpose of caring for, educating, or entertaining minors.

So why was Foster not arrested at Chuck E Cheese, or at least made to leave? Apparently the state Community Information Center has the wrong data on file:

This can and should be changed. Now we have to wonder just how many other sex offenders have been misidentified...


Ssssh. It's coming to the Shoals soon...

Friday, July 30, 2010

Will Foster & the Alabama Sex Offender Registry

Last Friday, Will Foster of Florence attended a birthday party at Chuck E Cheese in Sheffield. An alert customer spotted Foster and called the Sheffield Police. Why?

William Carl Foster is a convicted sex offender--and has been since 2006. The customer thought Foster was committing a crime by being at the chain restaurant noted for its children's birthday parties. We agree with her; however, based on the Alabama Sex Offender Registry, Foster had every right to be there. Why the confusion?

"Why?" indeed. Isn't the Registry accurate? 'Fraid not, but first let's look at Foster's crimes.

According to court records, Foster was charged on July 22, 2005, with:

"production of obscene matter of a person under 17, three counts of first-degree sexual abuse and nine counts of enticing a child for immoral purposes."

However, after the case was presented to a Lauderdale County Grand Jury, the charges were reduced to:

"three charges of second-degree sexual abuse."

We may never know why the grand jury chose to indict on such reduced charges, but perhaps Foster's standing in the community played a major role. William Carl Foster is the son of Dr. Bill Foster, a retired UNA professor, and was at the time of his arrest a part of the Foster Family Band. Foster had also been a respected gymnastics instructor for many years--a position that placed him with numerous underage girls.

Once the initial charges were published, many speculated that others would come forward--and they did. What happened next is a case of plea bargaining at its best.

Tomorrow: How William Carl Foster avoided prison.


Ssssh. It's coming to the Shoals soon...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Rape? Get Life...Rape & Murder? Get 25 Years

Judge Gil Self yesterday sentenced Ronald Szezrak Jr. to two consecutive life terms for the rape of a six year-old girl. It is unlikely that Szezrak will ever be a free man.

Thanks to Judge Self for his common sense. Unfortunately it doesn't work that way in every case. Shaun Shapley raped and murdered his 17 year-old stepdaughter and received a sentence of only 25 years. Shapley was a habitual offender with a long history of violence against women; he should have been put away for life. It's a sad commentary on our judicial system in Lauderdale County.


Daniel Horton of Dirrty Apple Productions informs us there will soon be a new episode of Belgreen Cops. Here's the trailer:


Just how accurate are sex offender records at the Alabama Department of Public Safety? Tomorrow we'll look at some of these records and their shortcomings...


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Lewd Lawayne Back in the News/Smile for the Camera

Lawayne Harrison, mayor of Leighton, announced Monday that he didn't care if he had a council to work with or not. Harrison is no stranger to controversy:

Sex and Lies in Leighton

Same Song, Second Verse


Thanks to Doc's Political Parlor for mentioning Lecia Ford's excellent account of her early life in Leighton. We'll have more from Lecia later. If you've never visited Doc's Parlor, you've been missing the best political blog in the state.


Be sure to catch Trader's new review of Ichiban in Sheffield: Link


The latest on the Cherokee Council meeting this morning from C. R.:

Smile for the Camera, Cherokee

With WAFF TV cameras rolling Councilman Steve Glover withdrew his motion and vote in relation to the hiring of his mother-in-law Becky Berryman Wadkins. Councilman Glover submitted a letter to be put into the town’s minutes that explained Glover’s oversight on the vote. Councilman Glover stated “he did not realize that it was an ethics violation to vote on a matter relating to his mother-in-law.”

Mayor Chuck Lansdell had a statement put into the town’s minutes. The Mayor stated “I told and the City Attorney told Councilman Glover his actions were in violation of the law and he decided to vote on the matter anyway.” The Burger King Four Malone, Glover, Mason, and Franks voted to allow the withdraw and Mayor Lansdell and Councilwomen Lambert voted against it.

Councilman Mike Malone made a motion to abolish any part time as needed office vacancies until the next council meeting on Tuesday August 3rd. The Burger King Four passed the motion.

There are currently no part time open vacancies, so one could conclude the council has realized the hiring of Steve’s mother-in-law last week was illegal. The matter will be brought back up at the next meeting. It might be time for the council to attend a few ethics violation classes.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Breaking News from Cherokee

During the July 14th Cherokee City Council meeting several ethics violations were committed by the city council. A special called meeting has been scheduled by the Cherokee City Council for Wednesday July 28th @ 9:00a.m.

Several citizens in Cherokee have said Councilwoman Mason told a few people that the meeting is in relation to the ethics violations. Those on the council that committed any ethics violations are going to reverse or withdraw their vote.

Everyone must remember that Councilman Steve Glover was told by the Mayor and City Attorney that he was committing a violation and he did it anyway. What has changed his mind?

This is kind of like sex. Once you get the girl pregnant, it does not really matter if you withdraw or not. It has already happened.

Thanks to C.R. for this interesting (and humorous) report.

It's All Bull...

We always knew there was a lot of bull in this area; now it's official. Ross Hill (pictured) is the 27 year-old current American Bull Fighting Champion. Hill also owns a farm in Muscle Shoals that produces prize bulls.

Props to Hill for his acumen; apparently these matches pay around 15K to the winner--and that's no bull.


Are you buying this bull?
This week the Alabama Music Hall of Fame Board of Directors announced that it's seeking to establish an Alabama Music Hall of Fame Foundation for the purpose of raising funds for the HOF in Muscle Shoals. The establishment of such a foundation would seem prudent--except for the fact that there already exists such a group.

The Friends of the Alabama Hall of Fame has been in existence for several years and supposedly fills the function of fundraiser for the the HOF and related museum. Earlier this year, Hall of Fame Board Director Buel Springer questioned the role of the Friends group and its accounting practices. Since then we have learned that Colbert County accountant Tim Leigh is president of the Friends organization. Obviously, accounting is not the main issue the Hall of Fame Board has with the Friends organization.

Amazing how close the word duplication is to the word duplicitous.


If the Lauderdale County Commission is about to split the duties of EMA/911 Director, why is it revamping George Grabryan's job description now? Don't they have more pressing wastes of time to attend to? Here's a link to the very woolly-bully meeting: Link


Finally, we say bully to O.B.'s Corner in its memorial to Bill (Harvey) Allgood on his birthday.


Monday, July 26, 2010

Sex Offender at Chuck E Cheese

An alert customer informed Sheffield Police that a convicted sex offender was seen Friday at Chuck E Cheese on Hatch Boulevard. Authorities arrived within minutes of the complaint, questioned the suspect, and released him. Since the offender's listed victim was over the age of 12, he is allowed to attend functions where young children are present.

Our contact at the Sheffield Police Department identified the subject, and while the offender's specific charge is indeed listed as abuse of a 13 year-old girl, he was also accused of sexual contact with a child as young as 11. Like many others, he was an authority figure, from a well-known family, and not one fitting the mold of a "dirty old man."

Is it any worse when those who abuse our children are those to whom we have entrusted their care? Perhaps not, but it should certainly be a wake-up call to all parents. Kudos to the customer who informed the authorites.


C. R. reports from Cherokee on another ethics violation:

Friday Cherokee Councilpersons Glover and Mason found out that an ethics complaint was filed against them. The complaint stated both councilpersons voted on matters related to their family members. Monday morning Councilman Mike Malone will learn the same thing. The complaint against Malone has to do with voting on matters related to a family member. Rumors around town state a fourth city councilperson will have an ethics complaint filed against them; which will add another charge against three other councilpersons.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Joe Jolly Co.: Another No-Bid Contract

We've mentioned before that the State of Alabama does not place professional services under its bidding umbrella. Why? Obviously there is more to consider than the bottom financial line in such contracts. It's also obvious that such no-bid provisions can lead to, as many have termed it, "good ol' boy" politics at its worst. Ironically, when Mayor Bobby Irons and the late Councilman Scott Carrier sought to open up the position of Financial Advisor to the city, they were the ones accused of wanting to place their cronies in the job.

The Joe Jolly Co. made the news today when its Shoals representative Johnny Dill announced that local bonds financing the Robert Trent Jones Golf Courses were on schedule to pay off early. The Joe Jolly Co. has been the Financial Advisor to Florence since 1979. It also serves in similar capacities to Muscle Shoals and numerous towns across the valley. Like Florence, these cities do not place their contracts out for bids.

By all accounts the Joe Jolly Co. has served Florence and other cities well, but its exclusive contract bothers many. In other words, the City of Florence cannot use any other brokerage firm but Jolly's, located in Birmingham. Is this troubling?

We don't have the financial expertise to answer that, but we do question how anyone would not find the contract anything but good ol' boyin' at its best. Local Jolly representative Dill is the son-in-law of the late Elton Darby. Interestingly, the Joe Jolly Co. has previously donated large amounts to the campaign of Roger Bedford, another Darby son-in-law.

Looking on the bright side, Mayor Irons favored giving the contract to J. P. Morgan, the company that lost its shirt in the Birmingham Sewer Bond boondoggle. We have Scott Carrier to thank for that not coming to fruition.


An update on Kiwi's Haven from Renee' Miskell:

Instead of opening the paypal account (which would take too much time that I don't have), I wanted to let you know that the Elgin, Alabama Co-op is allowing donors to call in their credit card numbers. The Elgin Co-op phone number is 256 247 3453. Mention that they want to apply credit to the Jeff & Renee Miskell account. This way we can buy feed, halters, corral panels, medicine, etc.

I have rescued 37 horses, 5 cows, and 3 dogs. Joanne Gutknecht (was my friend) was not feeding them, letting them starve to death; two died. Now I am going to court Aug. 19 on the hearing. Then hopefully the horses can be placed in new foster homes. It's been quite a project! Never a dull moment. Tank got excited by all of the mares, broke 4 wood panels, cut his leg wide open, treating that now. He should be okay. A mare cut her leg, treating that. A gelding cut his leg, treating that. Walking 7 dogs morning and night. Feeding and treating 37 horses with rain rot, cutting manes and tails that were matted. Two horses looked like they had a fifth leg because the tail was so matted and touched the ground. I've made quite a stir in the Arabian horse community, been in the newspaper and on two tv stations. Spent $5000 already. Taking donations.

Really hot...105...grass is drying up. Already feeding our winter hay supply to Joanne's horses.

Renee Miskell
6901 County Road 50
Rogersville, AL 35652
256 247 1727


Now here's Johnny & Roger, uh, Moe & Joe...

Thanks to Matt Osborne for the idea for today's blog on Joe Jolly.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Revisiting Sheffield Sex Offenders

When last we visited Sheffield, the Alabama Public Safety Registry listed 27 Sexual Offenders/Predators as residents. We've heard the theory that such numbers are skewed by zip codes extending beyond city limits, but that can hardly be the case in this land-locked Colbert County town.

Among those listed are Rudy Stanback, now deceased, and James Roy Sibley, currently incarcerated in the Lauderdale County Detention Center. Joining the exodus as of Wednesday is McKenzie Corey Johnson, 29, who on September 20, 2002, forced sexual contact on a 10 year-old female.

Johnson, who while awaiting trial managed to commit Third Degree Robbery later that year, served five years for Sexual Abuse and was released on April 29, 2007. Since that time, he has been living with his sister Tamika on Dover Avenue, just one block north of bustling Second Street.

Now Johnson has been arrested in Tuscumbia for a laundry list of crimes, including lying about his identity. If these Colbert County charges aren't enough to put him away for the immediate future, he also faces charges in Bibb County.

Three down and 24 to go...


If the name McKenzie Corey seems familiar to you, there's good reason. Johnson was apparently named after a popular 1970s soap opera character. McKenzie Corey was the requisite millionaire industrialist who appeared regularly in Another World. It's unfortunate that his namesake didn't follow in Mac's footsteps. The State lists Johnson as unemployed, a popular condition among Sheffield SOs.


On Cherokee: "Granted undercover operation is probably what some people would consider what Mason did. It was certainly not what one would expect from The fabulous four. Too bad some of the other problems cannot be solved the same way. At least some good came out of it and I am sure Mason's friends are happy. Am pretty sure problems were in and around her home and district if truth be told. As for phone calls to council members are concerned; I think they all have phones off hook half the time. You can't even call the Mayor and get an answer half the time." - "Anonymous" referring to our lackluster use of spell check. Mea Culpa--covert should have been culvert.


We've received kind words concerning our new Shoals Blog Directory, as well as our links to various local blogs. With the exception of one or two we've found demeaning to the Shoals or containing plagiarism, we've tried to list all that originate in our beautiful part of the Tennessee Valley.

Two great blogs have recently updated their logos and are worth a second look if you haven't visited recently. Both Margaret's prose and photography in The Brown Recluse rival work found in much larger metropolitan areas.

If you're looking for a new family member, don't fail to check out DOGed PURRsuit. While the blog isn't connected to our blogging group, it is written by our Nurse Nan. Be sure to send her any news of pet adoptions and similar events.


Today C. R. officially joins us in the vineyard. Welcome, C. R.; we appreciate your reports from Cherokee and Colbert County and are delighted that you're now a permanent part of our group.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Cherokee Ethics Violations/Leighton Memories


By C. R.

Several citizens present at the Cherokee City Council have formally filed ethics complaints against multiple city council members. The ethics violations occurred during the July 14 council meeting. After being advised by City Attorney Becky Narmore that it was illegal to vote on matters involving a family member, Councilman Glover and Councilwomen Mason still voted on matters that related to their family and violated Alabama Law. The complainants state they have evidence to prove the violations occurred and will testify against the council members. Other ethics complaints will be filed for other violations committed during other council meetings.


Memories of Leighton: The Tale of a 1960’s First Generation Corvair & a Future Colbert County Sheriff Candidate

by Lecia Ford

(The name of the car thief in this story has been changed to John Smith. Lecia's account of a memory from her youth was inspired by C. R.'s commentary Second Chances.)

In the 1960’s a father for a daughter, that should have been a boy, purchased a 1962 (the year of her birth) First Generation Corvair, green in color, with push button gears on the dashboard. The daughter, daddy’s pick of the litter, so they say, would learn how to drive in a cow pasture in the Green Machine. She would show out in front of the cousins and visitors on holidays. They would all line up to take the next ride around ‘town’.

When the Green Machine would pull up to the gate, (a loading shoot that was used for cattle) “next in line” she would say and they would pile in the little Green Machine. Around and around they would go, from the front to the back of 20 acres. Dodging cow patties, and sinkholes, the passengers would ‘whoop and holler’, and dread the time their country ride would end.

Summer was a fun time in the 60’s. Neighbors were relatives and relatives were friends, friends were loved ones. Everyone would gather for food, fun, fellowship…all in the middle of the 20-acre plot, and there would always be the Green Machine. The Green Machine was one fun ‘toy’, although it was the main transportation for this father to travel to work and back every day, it was a ‘toy’.

It happened on Main Street, Leighton, Alabama, where it was safe to leave your car windows down, your screen door unlocked for the evening breeze to gently cool the sweat off your brow. A safe place to raise your children, to be taught right from wrong, and if you disobeyed, you were corrected; by whatever means it had to be. Granted, we were never beaten, we may have thought we were, and before it happened we were always told, ‘this is going to hurt me more than you’, a quote that you never really grasp until you have children of your own. Only one day in the late 60’s would it prove to be a mistake, a mistake that would never be forgotten...

Two young men, one of which went by the name John Smith, would walk right up to the Green Machine and drive away, unknown to the father who was busy working providing for his family. The father went home that afternoon; the disappointment on his face could only be read by one, the pick of the litter.

It broke his heart to have to tell her that the Green Machine was gone, but he did it. When the Green Machine was recovered, it had been submerged in Gnat Pond, on Sixth Street, and painted with a can of spray paint, RED…

The father would not file charges against the two, ‘they were just being boys, maybe they will learn a lesson, give ‘em another chance’… (Leighton, A Place for Second Chances). The sentence for one of the young men? The Green Machine had to be sanded and the original green restored. The color was back, but the glory was gone. The Green Machine would never run another day…

I find it strange, I suppose, that a ‘future political candidate’ would never apologize for an act such as this, and considered his ‘punishment’ stupid, silly, and embarrassing--after all, it was ‘just for fun’. And proclaim…

" If elected, I will be a 24 hour sheriff-working harder than any other. I will fight drugs, solve property crimes, help get your possessions back, and serve the public for your safety." John states, "As Colbert County Sheriff, I will fight diligently to keep illegal drugs off our streets and out of the hands of our children. Drugs are a poison that ruins the lives of thousands of young people every day. We must work together to rid our county of this evil and give our children a safe learning environment that allows them to reach their potential."

“I am not afraid to stand up for you!”

And John Smith was not afraid to take a vehicle in broad daylight, paint it and submerge in a pond...


Facebook page of Christopher Lee Sutherland, arrested yesterday in Tuscumbia for possession of child pornography: Link


Our sincerest sympathies to Brad Holmes and his family in the passing of his father Keith Alan Holmes. Our prayers are with them at this time.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

To Dye or Not to Dye?

Apparently there's no middle ground when men dye their hair. Perhaps someone should tell Quinton Hanson that the Mel Gibson Look is out this season. (Left-Q. Hanson; Right-Greg Burdine-Candidates for HR District 1)


The Shoals Turn Signal Blues: According to the latest Phewwww Report, 49% of Shoals drivers don't use signals to turn or change lanes; 49% illegally signal for the driver in front of them; and the remaining 2% have given up driving due to nervous breakdowns caused by the other 98%.



By C. R.

The heavy rains have taken a major toll on Cherokee city streets, sewer, and drainage systems. Several citizens have been calling their District 4 Councilwomen Mason complaining about two major drainage problems. Two street coverts have become damaged and allow water to overflow the street. When the water starts to overflow several houses become over run with water. The property owners contacted Councilwomen Mason and asked for help. Councilwomen Mason stated that the problem would have to be presented to the council at a future meeting.

On Sunday Councilwomen Mason went to Mayor Lansdell’s house and informed him of the problem. Monday morning both street coverts were replaced with new and bigger coverts. The problem was fixed within 24 hours of the mayor being made aware of the problem.Councilwomen Mason decided to cross some imaginary line created by the former Mayor Wills and ask for help. The mayor responded very quickly to the request and had the problem fixed.

It appears that everyone on the council has got so tied up trying to protect a loved one's job or to get a loved one a job that they have forgotten what their main job is. To serve the citizens of Cherokee and help them when the need arises. On Sunday Councilwomen Mason put aside all preconceived notions and did what was right. Mason served the citizens of Cherokee and allowed the mayor to do his job, to oversee the city’s workers and allocate its resources. Both street coverts were fixed and a possible law suit was adverted. I would like to thank Mayor Lansdell and Councilwomen Mason for working together and making the citizens of Cherokee the priority for one day. We can only hope that the entire council will learn from this.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Kiwi's Haven & Renee' Miskell

If you're a regular reader of our blog, you know the name Renee' Miskell. Renee' has written several guest commentaries for us in which she has demonstrated her concern for those who are abused and otherwise mistreated.

Now, Renee' and her husband Jeffrey are extending that concern to a large group of animals recently confiscated in Minor Hill, Tennessee. Here is Renee's story in her own words:

I just rescued 37 horses, 5 cows, and 3 dogs from Joanne Betty Gutknecht, 76, of Minor Hill, Tn on 7/10/10; who was arrested on 7/2/10 by the Giles County, TN, Sheriff's Office. There are photos at (search Animal Cruelty). The Times Daily kindly printed the article on 7/14/10. Several of the horses were severely emaciated, and two died from starvation.

I will one day be starting Kiwi's Haven, a non-profit organization; but first the case will be heard August 19, 2010 at 8:00 at the Pulaski, TN, Giles County Courthouse.

My husband, Jeffrey Miskell, and I are not millionaires and we are personally taking on this responsibility for the health and welfare of these poor animals that were locked in a world of living hell. Joanne Gutknecht and I were friends but I had to make a decision between severing our friendship over actively speaking out against this painful life of the horses that were literally starving to death.

If anyone is interested in making a financial contribution to our cause, please have them call us at 256-247-1727 and please be sure to leave a message. I assure you that we are not trying to get rich. The cost of bringing back a horse to good health from this type of malnourishment is costly and could rise to the level of $3000-5000 per horse depending on whether they get ill because of their immune systems being down, it could be even more costly.

We need horse halters, horse panels, medicine, feed and hay. I have been blessed already with several phone calls and even one volunteer who came yesterday to assist with the horses after she read the article! I thank the Florence Times Daily for running the article and I thank all of the lovely people who have helped in this rescue operation including cattle haulers, friends, and the Giles County Sheriff's Department.

Thank you Shoalanda for your blog. You are reaching many folks on several important causes.

We have encouraged Renee' to add Kiwi's Haven to Facebook causes. Those wishing to donate may do so via PayPal. We'll be updating this story once the site is set up.

Photo by Matt McKean


Demise of BlogNetNews: We have been members of the BlogNetNews Alabama site almost since the very inception of our column. We were honored when their sister site Blogophilia named us the best new Alabama Political Blog of 2008.

Sadly, due to lagging revenue, this aggregate of political blogs has bitten the dust. We hope the site owners will be able to find a way to resurrect their website before the November elections.


From C. R.:


Any citizen having a house telephone in western Colbert County is very concerned today. Over the weekend news broke about former Mayor Mignon Willis being allowed to hang around the Cherokee Telephone Company for hours at the time. Furthermore, Willis is being allowed to use the telephone company’s computers that hold personal information about the company’s customers. Monday a flood of concerned customers were calling the home office of the telephone company in Jackson, Mississippi. and complaining about the news. We will have to see what action the telephone company takes.


Because of the ongoing feud between the Burger King Four and the city clerk, Mayor Lansdell believes the citizens are not getting the help they need. If you have called city hall or your councilperson and have not received help, please e-mail the mayor and he will respond to your request. The issue has come up after a house was damaged by backed up sewage. To contact the mayor email,


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Nathan Johnson Not Best Choice for Cherokee Judge?


A Guest Commentary By

C. R.

Nathan Johnson told a few people that he has ties to Cherokee. The ties are with Mignon Willis. Nathan is Mignon’s sister's lawyer. Nathan is handling a child support case for Mignon’s sister. Nathan, there are no secrets in Cherokee. Also, could Nathan Johnson’s hiring cost the City of Cherokee a lot of money? Rumors are floating around that Nathan is akin to one of the police officers. If so, every case the officer has will have to be handled by another judge. Way to go City Council Members Glover, Mason, Malone, and Franks. They were in such a hurry to fire and hire someone they did not do a proper back ground. Now this could cost the city a lot of money.

(More from C. R. Tomorrow)


As Cherokee Turns Part II

A Guest Commentary By

J. J. Ray

Gee-Whiz, Holy-Cow, Batman, the circus has come to Cherokee. Do the citizens even care that they have become the laughing stock of North Alabama, maybe Alabama as a whole or perhaps the nation. No, I think the former governor of Illinois has a lock on that. There is little doubt; tickets must be sold at the next event. If it weren’t so funny, it would be tragic. From the accounts, I have read and the citizens I have interviewed personally most are shell shocked that their elected officials now resemble circus folk. Primarily the clowns. There seems to be little doubt they have no use for the law and have become vigilantes dispensing justice that they decide on in secret. Sounds more like Dr. Death meets Eric Holder--now that could be a movie.

The soap opera in Cherokee probably would get better ratings than Days of Our Lives. All that is missing is Stefano DiMera, his son and the Victor Kiriakis bunch. Surely, the Hatfields and McCoys will be jealous that they have been upstaged by the “Burger King Four” as C.R. refers to them, quite well actually. Has anyone explained to them about:

Section 36-25A-1 — Purpose; short title

a) It is the policy of this state that the deliberative process of governmental bodies shall be open to the public during meetings as defined in Section 36-25A-2(6). Except for executive sessions permitted in Section 36-25A-7(a) or as otherwise expressly provided by other federal or state statutes, all meetings of a governmental body shall be open to the public and no meetings of a governmental body may be held without providing notice pursuant to the requirements of Section 36-25A-3. No executive sessions are required by this chapter to be held under any circumstances. Electronic communications shall not be utilized to circumvent any of the provisions of this chapter.

(b) This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Alabama Open Meetings Act”

There is actually a manual called “The Alabama Open Meetings Act No. 2005-40” which is available online and a Power Point Presentation to teach you what it is all about and they are free. No need to try and find someone to sign a check or is there anyone that Perhaps you believe you are above the law “Bad Mistake”. If I am not wrong, that’s what happened to Richard Nixon and that person with the bad hairdo, Jimmy “The Bull” Traficant. He just got out of Federal Prison.

Maybe the Attorney General should be contacted but Mr. King has problems of his own. There is of course a DA in Colbert County but I’m told that he is pro McCoy. Therefore, he would have to recuse himself. There is Chris Connolly in Lauderdale County but he is or was supposed to be prosecuting the Mayor of Leighton. “Whats up with that Mr. Connolly?"

We now have West Enders and East Enders to make news, humor or sadness depending on where you live. My suggestion would be to find an independent prosecutor like Kenneth Star, invite the media and you would truly have a three-ring circus. Then Cherokee could build a Burger King, “Wait they already voted that down or maybe it was Hardees”. Whatever, I’ve never seen folks that fear prosperity as much as the bunch in Cherokee.

Let’s sum up the activities as reported, there is vigilantism, nepotism, usurping the mayors authority, and last but not least violations of the "Alabama Open Meetings Act”. Wow Batman now that is many goings-on. Folks, if you do not start conducting city business lawfully and with common sense, you will end up like “Iron City”. Oops did I say Iron City, actually, it died.


What's up with this: We see the TotallyDecatur newspaper chose a gentleman from Franklin County for its man-on-the-street view of the floundering rail car plant. Nothing wrong with Franklin County views--it's just that only Lauderdale and Colbert are paying the extra two cents tax per gallon of gasoline to fund the project. Perhaps the honchos from Decatur weren't aware of that...


Monday, July 19, 2010

Mike Curtis "Fighting" for Memphis-Atlanta Highway

There's nothing like a well-informed politician. Yes, we mean nothing, since whoever heard of a truly well-informed politician in the Shoals? Mike Curtis just proved that he is not breaking that mold.

The Memphis to Atlanta Highway has been in talking stages for around twenty years. About three weeks after the initial route through Huntsville and the Redstone Arsenal was approved, along came a little thing called 9/11. That would have been almost nine years ago, and the army base soon reneged on its promise of access due to security reasons.

According to Alabama Department of Transportation officials, the project was shelved nearly a year ago. Yet, Rep. Mike Curtis of Greenhill stated last week that this was the first he's heard of it (TimesDaily 7/18). Nevertheless, he's going to keep fighting for it.

Do you think we should tell him that Huntsville has already initiated plans for its own new Southern Bypass that eliminates the old Redstone route? There might just be a little duplication there, Mike, but with your keen sense of timing, we're sure Washington is just waiting for your input to get back on track with the project.

Or maybe, just maybe, the voters are wondering why you didn't know the project had been shelved almost a year ago. You might want to look into that...

If you missed it the first time: Link


While on the subject of hypocrisy, Sunday's TimesDaily also editorialized on the lack of formal history in the Shoals. Hmmm, didn't there used to be a weekly historical column in the TD until the new editor took over some months ago?

If it's only in print, is the foot still planted firmly in the mouth?


Quote of the week from Steve Wiggins: Let's all keep trying, and pull The Shoals into the 20th Century whether it likes it or not. And that was NOT a typo.

What's up with this: A whole day has passed and not a peep out of Cherokee. Don't worry, we'll have more tomorrow.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Lowlifes on High Street?

It seems High Street residents in North Central Florence have little luck when contacting Florence Police concerning rampant theft and drug dealing. We suggest a neighborhood meeting to set up surveillance teams. Videotape doesn't lie--it would seem to be your best bet in this case.


Columnist Reg Henry may win our Favorite Quote of the Year Award with this one referring to Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions: It is widely known that the graves will open before the senator's mind does.


According to Saturday's TimesDaily, the Alabama Music Hall of Fame Board of Directors is seeking Troy King's opinion on the amount of vacation pay due fired director David Johnson--this should be interesting. In fact, it was one of the most interesting tidbits in the article, considering the fact there have apparently been no problems with Johnson's vacation pay during the 21 years he served as director. For someone who claims he hates negative publicity, John Briggs certainly courts it at every opportunity.


And now, another opinion from Cherokee. This one by A. W. who provides some interesting food for thought.:

In regard to your post of July 10, News from Cherokee by C. R., some of it is misleading.

  • As long as there are no more than three (3) council members together at one time (it takes four (4) to make a quorum) no law is broken.

  • It is the responsibility of the council members to research any issues before them.

  • Any research that is done has to be done prior to the meeting.

  • Discussing the issues and sharing their research is the accepted practice in most political circles.

  • Lobbying other council members to gain their support for a motion you plan to make is also accepted practice.

As for as the town clerk having set hours for lunch, in as small a town as Cherokee, I personalty don't think it is that important. However, if they do want to set a lunch hour, let the Mayor relieve her. That way the citizens will know when they can catch the Mayor in his office. Yes he is part time but being part time does not preclude him having set hours also.

The statement about them trying to oust Lansdell and Lambert, I don't know. If they are conspiring such wouldn't you think they would have some one lined up for District 2 to replace Glover? Mignon can't serve on the council unless she gives up the water board appointment, and I don't think that is even a remote possibility of that.

Stay tuned next week when Desperate Cherokee Housewives meet the Cherokee Council Apprentices at the Big Betty House.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Cherokee: Fiction...or Fact?

The Dark Town

A Guest Commentary By

Bailey Quarters

The grey woman walked eastward across Colbert County and the fireman followed. Riding on a golf cart, a fire hose on each hip, Chuck arrived at City Dance Hall. Turning the knob to the weathered door, he found the office locked. Those who were perceptive enough thought they saw a tear in Chuck’s eye.

Mad Melinda had once been the finest clerk the Dark Town ever had, but now she deserted her office to attend sports functions that were foreign to Alabama and notarized documents without reading them. After all, this wasn’t the grey woman’s first visit.

Remounting the golf cart, Chuck headed toward Thelma’s Tea Room. If he had a friend in the Dark Town, it was Thunderin’ Thelma. She had taught him how to ride a golf cart all those years ago, and he had fond memories of the first woman he ever shared a Whopper with.

Thelma never hesitated as she accepted Chuck’s request for an ally, and the newly minted twosome rode stealthily toward the railroad tracks. They sensed the grey woman before they saw her, a magical accountant’s cloak pulled around her broad shoulders and a moth-eaten fur hat loosely draped across her cropped hair. Her magic seemed palpable at this close a distance.

Behind her stood four members of the council, their eyes glassy and blank. Chuck wasn’t sure if they were armed, but none of the four seemed afraid of him. Indeed, they didn’t seem to acknowledge him. If they even noticed the great seal of an EMT on his shoulder, they felt no respect for it.

This was it—the battle between evil and even worse evil had begun…

Want to know which side is which? No? You couldn’t care less? Well, if you change your mind, stay tuned for the next council meeting, brought to you by Cherokee Citizens for a Crazy City.


Cherokee’s Newest Religion: Chuckism

A Guest Commentary By

T. R.

To be a good Chuckist, your regard for truth should be very low. You must be a blind follower. Agreeing with Mayor Lansdell only 9 out of 10 times is strictly forbidden. Total devotion and followership is a requirement. Such an egregious mistake of having the nerve to ever have a differing opinion will have you reduced to the level of a Non-Chuckist. Do not under any circumstance suggest that the great one might be wrong.

Another requirement is the ability to ignore any Lansdell wrong-doing. For instance, you must ignore that in the history of Cherokee, at least the last 40 years, we have always had a placard to let citizens know when the Town Clerk would return if they were out of the office for ANY reason. The fact that Melinda Malone follows this time honored practice, and that the Mayor is always manufacturing a flaw against her must never be mentioned. The FACT that this is merely a witch hunt to slander someone hired by the previous Mayor should never cross your lips. Never consider that the Town Clerk applied for vacation over a month in advance and was told to wait until the following month to apply, to only be turned down for insufficient notice. Another employee was able to take vacation the previous Friday with no approval. You can see the benefit of being a loyal Chuckist.

If you are a devoted Chuckist, never, never expose that one of the mandatory characteristics of a good leader is embracing opposing ideas and opinions. You must also not be cognizant of the fact that Rebecca Narmore becoming his personal adviser is no deviation from what has been happening for the past year. Mentioning that her unprofessional and personal bias that has manifested itself in all town council meetings is strictly forbidden. The Mayor now has the least professional attorney in the Shoals on a Pro Bono basis, but this is taboo to discuss.

If you are one of the 20 or so Chuckists, you must attend every Town Council meeting so that you appear as a majority. Never mind that it isn’t true (refer to paragraph one). You must be willing to sacrifice yourself, skip normal order of any meeting, and blurt out in a manner that would make Jethro Bodine look like Prince Edward. You could mention that the Mayor calls himself a minister yet spews hatred at anyone that has the nerve to think that he is not perfect, however, if one does, they will become the enemy. At this point, your access to any public services this township offers will be terminated immediately. Major problems will be ignored. Time sensitive matters are of no consequence. You will effectively be ousted from any consideration by the Mayor no matter what.

Now a word to the truly wise, the hundreds of Non Chuckists. If you have any issue that needs immediate attention, you may have to fight fire with fire. Leak the information that you think the Town Clerk may have misspelled a word. Then wait outside Town Hall, and you will have the Lansdell/Lambert posse complete with cronies appear within 15 minutes ready for action!

P.S. - If you are truly blind and do not realize that all the controversy in Cherokee only started after Mayor Lansdell decided to run for mayor again 2 years ago, you could challenge C.R. to be the right hand when the Great One comes to gather his flock.


All Calm in Cherokee

A Guest Commentary By

C. R.

While bad weather threatened the small town of Cherokee, all appeared calm at city hall. The day began Friday with Mayor Lansdell, city clerk Melinda Malone, and recently fired part time city clerk Marsha Allen at city hall. Marsha Allen's status is unknown but we do know that the mayor and Allen have been working on a grant proposal that could bring the town over a million dollars. If this is true, the city council are huge idiots for firing someone with the knowledge and drive to bring in needed revenue to the town. Not all is lost, the new part time city clerk Becky Watkins can read the National Enquirer at Olympic speeds.


There you have it--three interesting views of the train wreck that is Cherokee...


Friday, July 16, 2010


Jerry O'Dell Kelley Jr. escaped last night from the Franklin County Jail. Kelley is a 34 year-old white male originally convicted of the first degree rape of a 13 year-old in Michigan. He had been living in Franklin County unregistered for several months before his arrest for the attempted first degree rape of a minor in the Bear Creek area.

Kelley has several tattoos on his arms and upper body. Our sources indicate Kelley can be violent; do not attempt to approach, but call local authorities.


Tuscumbia PD, under the direction of Chief Tony Logan, just nailed Kelley at Spring Park in Tuscumbia about 30 Minutes ago (around 5 PM). He was apprehended after a short foot chase and is back in custody. - From TPD

Many thanks to Tuscumbia Police!

WVNA/WLAY plus More From Cherokee

WVNA/WLAY Off-The-Air Because Of Rent Dispute

A Guest Commentary By

Steve Wiggins

I was truly surprised to find one morning that WLAY AM-1450 on the dial was off the air. Then I read in the Times-Daily that both ‘lay and WVNA AM-1290 were going to be dark for several weeks.

It so happens that the property owner of the land where both radio stations have their transmitters more than tripled their rent and forced the stations to look elsewhere for a site. So now the owner, URBan Radio Broadcasting, Inc., has engineers from several of their stations across America scrambling to find a suitable transmitter site and secure FCC approval for it. Not an easy task.

Meanwhile ex-landlord Elton Darby, Jr., is keeping silent on why he did what he did. I tried to contact Mr. Darby five times in the past week, but have had no success in getting his side of the story.

I spoke with General Manager Dale Powers at URBan’s Shoals Radio Group in Tuscumbia on July 7th . He told me that Darby’s action took him completely by surprise.

Mr. Powers said that it was his understanding that lease negotiations were settled. Evidently he was mistaken. Mr. powers arrived in The Shoals last November. At that time negotiations between URBan and Mr. Darby had been on going for several months. According to Mr. Powers, Mr. Darby had approached URBan with the desire to sell the broadcasting company the property and towers. URBan decided it was in their best interest to continue leasing the property, and declined the offer. Then, at the end of May, URBan was informed that the rent on the property and towers was going up sharply.

This could not have come at a worse time. Radio stations, particularly AM stations, are having a rough go of things nowadays. Their revenues are dropping faster than a barometer in a hurricane due to a combination of forces. The worldwide economic downturn has curtailed many traditional radio-advertising sources, namely local mom and pop businesses. The second major threat to AM radio is New Media: The World Wide Web in general, and XM/Sirius satellite radio, as well as talk and music from wireless sources like the phone companies. Because of dropping ad sales, stations are trimming expenses wherever they can. And that is the case for WVNA/WLAY. Sometimes cost cutting becomes the decision point between continuing, or pulling the plug on the whole shebang.

So why the debacle? We may never know the whole story. Was Mr. Darby mad because URBan declined his offer? Was he being vindictive because the company wouldn’t pay his asking price? Did he think it was reasonable to give a Broadcaster, who had been at the site since the early 1950’s three days notice before tripling the rent? I wanted to give Mr. Darby the benefit of telling his side of the story, but I couldn’t reach him. Sorry.

This is not a simple story of a landlord-tenant dispute. This story is about the uprooting of two radio stations that have for decades been an institution here in The Shoals. They mean something to us. And when they suddenly go off the air because of a simple money dispute, and without any warning, the residents here suffer an injustice. How much money and power is enough? When is it time to start thinking about a legacy? Mr. Darby’s father, Elton, Sr., founded WVNA. His name will forever be attached to the radio station’s history, for better or worse. I find it quite ironic that the individual who may have set the wheels in motion for the station’s demise, is the son of the man who put it on the air in the first place.


That was Steve's first guest commentary, and we hope it won't be his last. Since we're continuing to receive numerous guest commentaries concerning Cherokee, we will be publishing one each day in addition to our other regular material.

Here's another great update from C. R.:

Rumors of a Recall

One day after the Cherokee City Council fired the city attorney and part time city clerk, rumors of a recall have surfaced. One local citizen stated "by Monday there will be a petition out to recall the fools on the town council". On a local blog a post calls for the citizens to rise up and take back the town. The poster encourages all Cherokee citizens to unite and demand State Senator Rodger Bedford and State Rep Johnny Mack Marrow sponsor a bill that would allow a recall. Currently Alabama law does not allow a recall for a Class 8 Municipalities. The petition would show Sen. Bedford and Rep. Morrow that the people of Cherokee have the majority support of the citizens.

What Will Happen

Becky Watkins was hired as an part time clerk under former Mayor Mignon Willis. Becky Watkins turned in a letter of resignation. Watkins was called back into work after the resignation by city clerk Melinda Malone. While at city hall Watkins hurt herself and is now filing a workers comp claim against the city. Because Watkins was brought back to work after she resigned Mayor Lansdell fired Watkins because she was never rehired by the mayor or city council. Several citizens complained to Mayor Lansdell that the full time city clerk was taking off too much and leaving the city hall closed too often. Mayor Lansdell hired former full time city clerk Marsha Allen in the open part time position.

During the 14 July meeting Steve Glover, Patrica Mason, Mike Malone, and Joe Franks voted to fire the part time clerk Marsha Allen and rehire Councilman Steve Glover's mother-in-law Becky Watkins. Sources at city hall believe the firing of Marsha Allen and rehiring of Councilman Steve Glover's mother-in-law were illegal. Steve Glover should not have voted on the issue because it related to his mother-in-law. Patrica Mason should not have voted because she is related to Marsha Allen's son. The vote was 4-2 and when the two illegal votes are removed the issue would be tied and not passed. Since the vote was illegal, Mayor Lansdell could move to fire Becky Watkins and hire Marsha Allen again. The next few days should be very interesting.


We've received several inquiries concerning Jimmy Sandlin's abrupt termination of Juvenile Officer John Winston; however, we have no further news on the situation. If any readers have additional info on this or other Sandlin terminations, please forward it to us for publication.