Sunday, October 31, 2010

Howl-oween 2010!

Our favorite costume: Antoine Dogson


It was bound to happen...


If you missed it last year: A Limestone Haunting



Saturday, October 30, 2010

Bureaucracy--You Gotta Love It!

Is There Any Intelligence Left in Government?

J.J. Ray

Recently I had to make a trip to the Alabama State Troopers office to get my drivers license renewed. The wait was only an hour, which for them was almost instantaneous. I sat down in front of a nice looking woman who directed me to the eye test machine. She tested both eyes and proclaimed I had twenty-fifteen vision in both eyes. Then the fun began. She asked where my glasses where? I explained that I had eye surgery and no longer had to wear prescription eye wear. Then I asked her about the eye test and my passing.

She explained even though my vision was better than most that I could not get a new license until I had some eyeglasses. I then explained my cataract surgery and how they fixed my eyes. The examiner listened attentively to my story and said, “Take the lenses out so I can verify that you have them in”. I was shocked. “Ma’am I just told you how they did surgery on my eyes and showed you my cards, the lenses do no come out”.

Her retort was, “If I can’t see them you can’t drive without your glasses”.

I felt like I was listening to a Yogi Berra commercial. Once again, I tried to reason with her explaining that I had passed the eye test and there was no reason to wear glasses. She was very rigid and explained if I drove without my glasses, I would be ticketed even though I no longer needed them. I had to call my son to come and drive me home.

Sounds like the end of the story but it gets worse. Arriving home, I called the State Troopers office in Montgomery. After being placed on hold for forty-five minutes this authoritative woman answered my call. Once again, I related my experience. After a brief pause where I was once again put on hold so she could check with a superior, I was told that no new license was forthcoming unless I could produce my eyeglasses and pass the eye test. Once again, I explained that I had passed the eye test without my glasses and that my vision was twenty-fifteen. That did not matter, my old license was restricted to prescription eye wear and that was that. My wife hearing this conversation suggested calling the governors office to ask where they were getting their employees. She suggested perhaps it was a foreign country where no one understood English. Coffee was in order so I sat down to decide on my next course of action. So far, I was batting zero using common sense.

Running out of options, I found the number on-line for the director of the Alabama State Troopers. After explaining my predicament, this nice woman once again put me on hold so she could check with a superior. Ten minutes later, she said that if my doctor would fill out a form or send a letter they would the issue a new license. Hallelujah, I proclaimed hanging up the phone. My wife came running into my office expecting me to have had a new spiritual awakening. Boy was she fooled. More phone calls to the doctor and a fax to Montgomery and a week later it was done. I was legal once again.

The question is simple. Is there no common sense left in Montgomery and/or intelligence? Perhaps we would be better off if the driver’s license division was outsourced to India. At least there, they do speak English, sort of.


Unfortunately, J.J.'s experience is not uncommon. We personally know of the following:

A person attempting to acquire a marker for a Revolutionary War ancestor was asked by an individual with the Lauderdale V.A. office if she knew her ancestor's Social Security number.

A person seeking a title for an inherited vehicle was asked if her relative would again drive the car. We're pretty sure the man in question planned on staying dead.

A woman working in the motor vehicle licensing division at the Florence-Lauderdale Government Building couldn't think of the name of the facility. When another customer offered the name, the clerk replied, "Yeah, what she said." The clerk then went on to tell the customer that he couldn't purchase a business license until after September 31st. We imagine he's still waiting.

We pay the salary of these state/county employees--depressing isn't it?


So firefighters are political...who knew? Many months ago, we mentioned a future blog on Lauderdale sex offender Lloyd Hayes, a former Florence Fire Marshal. We had previously mentioned Hayes in a series of articles on a man indicted and tried for rape; at that time we had many requests to do a story on Hayes. Ultimately, we decided since Hayes had been in no documented trouble since his child pornography charges, we would not do the column.

With local firefighters again in the news, especially in Killen, we've once more received requests to do a column featuring a timeline of Hayes' fall from grace. The story of child pornographer Lloyd Hayes should be published in the next few days, and apologies to those who thought we were giving him special treatment in not offering it sooner. We certainly have no intentions of glossing over any city employee who uses our tax dollars to store photos of the sexual torture of children.



Friday, October 29, 2010

Chad Holden/EMA/Blinker Fluid

In less than one week, we'll go to the polls to elect those who will represent us for the next two to six years. Local politics have always been this blog's theme, and we want our Lauderdale readers to know that next Tuesday they'll have a chance to improve the quality of education many county children receive.

We urge you to vote for Chad Holden for Place 2 on the Lauderdale County School Board. Chad is committed to excellency in education. Moreover, he's not in anyone's pocket. That will be a big step up in itself for Lauderdale County.


If you wish to help support Lauderdale EMA Director George Grabryan, we urge you to write:

Dewey Mitchell

Chairman Lauderdale County Commission
Post Office Box 1059
Florence, AL 35631


Shoals Drivers? If we asked our readers to list their main complaint about area drivers, we're sure a large portion would say, "They must be outta blinker fluid." In that spirit, we suggest you like the following Facebook page:


There have been several reports that small animals are being poisoned and butchered in the area around Cherokee High School. We will have more on this later, but if any readers have information pertaining to these crimes, please contact us.



Thursday, October 28, 2010

Lofton Carl Morgan Jr.

We interrupt our current series of posts for a guest column by request.

Lofton Carl Morgan Jr.
October 29, 1921 - October 25, 2010

By Nurse Nan

If you read the obituaries yesterday, you may have noted the name "Lofton C. Morgan Jr." You may not have known him, but there was never a time in my life when I didn't. He grew up in Meridian, Mississippi, with his younger brother and his favorite cousin, once embarrassing his parents by asking why they didn't love him enough to include him in their wedding pictures.

Being a junior, he was quickly dubbed Sonny by his family, and later just Son. I never heard him say he didn't like his given names, but he usually referred to himself as "the Morg." As a very young man, his country called and he answered.

While stationed in Honolulu, he and another young man soon found they could make the hours of their long infirmary shifts pass more quickly by enticing the nurse to Jitterbug. Later he slept in two inches of water at Guadalcanal. He vowed, once home, never to sleep anywhere without a real bed and clean sheets and never once accepted an invitation to participate in a camping trip.

After the war, he completed his education and began work with TVA, finally settling in the Shoals area. Once in Florence, he met the love of his life, Mary Lena Fowler, whom he wooed for several years before she agreed to become his wife. To Lofton's great delight and Lena's great embarrassment, I'm told I once cried when I realized they didn't live together. At the age of two, I just assumed this wonderful couple who often graced our home were married. During their courtship, he once entrapped a local Peeping Tom who had dared terrorize Lena's neighborhood. He was a man with a plan.

On March 14, 1959, Lofton married Lena at the First Methodist Church in downtown Florence. She wore a blue ensemble and he his first Austin Reed suit. During the rehearsal, the pianist asked what to play for filler music, and the minister replied, "Hold That Tiger." Their marriage lasted over 51 years.

Lofton became a strong supporter of his adopted hometown, attending many Coffee High School football games and becoming a cornerstone in the choir at Wesley Chapel Methodist Church. After his retirement from TVA, he became a regular volunteer at the Help Center downtown. Each Wednesday he would toil at the very important task of measuring the waist of men's pants while sorting donated items. Perhaps some would have considered this chore too mundane for a man of his education, but he truly enjoyed serving those in need. His favorite days at the center involved helping young children, some who stated they had never had a real toy before.

Even as his health declined, he was often seen at ECM hospital visiting those who were seriously ill. He began to walk with a cane. The last time I saw him, he told me how much he loved me.

Lofton Carl Morgan was not blessed with children, but his memory will live on in those he helped and loved over the years. We should all leave such a legacy.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Firefighters & Baking Biscuits?

If you read Tom Smith's article in yesterday's TimesDaily concerning the opposition of some local firefighters to Lauderdale EMA director George Grabryan, you were probably left with more questions than answers--not an unusual result of a TD story. From the article:

Florence firefighter Terry Willett, who is president of the Florence Firefighters Local 270, said there is a lack of unity and cooperation through the EMA department. He said the officers of the Firefighters Local were approached in 2009 about signing a letter after talking with volunteer firefighters.

Okay, the officers were approached by whom, Tom? Don't you think that might have been a salient point in the story? Not to worry--we hear The Connection is working on Part Two of its investigative report concerning the EMA situation. Perhaps we'll have more answers then.

A source close to the Lauderdale County Commission has commented:

I understand a particular commissioner now has her pets documenting every conversation they have with the director and deputy director. Wonder if she even has their notes on when they took their potty breaks so she can try and throw that out there next time?

I heard the Deputy Director never backed down from the tirade of the day at the meeting and couldn't be tripped up even though they tripped up themselves.

I also was told that the look on her face when Joe from TVA came in the room was "classic". Apparently he was late to the meeting so it was obvious.

Last, but in no way least, a comment from a new reader:

They ask all the questions that, according to me, should be questioned by those who are in charge instead of someone that would probably be more suited to be home making biscuits and chocolate gravy. (nothing wrong with that!)


From our friend Morris Lentz:

For those who do not want legal sales in Rogersville, please join this facebook group.


Vote for Republican Luther Strange for Attorney General? We hadn't planned on making any recommendations in this statewide race, but we do have to comment on one of the most asinine commercials we've heard this season. Democrat James Anderson has asked for our votes, because he's a "real attorney."

So, Luther Strange doesn't have a JD? Please Dr. Anderson (see we were nice), don't insult our intelligence. If you want to talk about real attorneys, why don't you lobby for the office of Alabama Probate Judges to require a Juris Doctorate?


Did you know that Boris Karloff's hobby was knitting?


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fugitive Search? The EMA? Really?

The man was on his way to a Muscle Shoals night club, his regular watering hole. The man was driving alone. The man crashed. The man ran because he had outstanding warrants for his arrest. Police find the wrecked car--empty. What should they do?

We asked this question of a retired detective. His answer was simple:

1. Run the tag.
2. Go to the address listed with the car's registration to ask about the man's whereabouts.

That sounds pretty simple, but what if those at that address don't know where the man is...or if they refuse to cooperate because they know he's a fugitive and will be arrested as soon as he's located? What happens next? Should the EMA be involved?

Our retired detective friend laughed at that suggestion. The wreck happened on an area controlled by TVA personnel. Unless they asked for EMA, then the answer was a resounding NO! Now Lauderdale County Commissioner Rhea Tays Fulmer wants to place the blame for Rodney Foust's death at EMA Director George Grabryan's door.

Some time ago one of our attorney friends stated that for many years if a child died, "someone had to pay." He continued that in today's world if anyone dies, someone has to pay. We extend our sympathies to Mr. Foust's family, but we cannot logically place blame with anyone before a toxicology report and autopsy findings are made public. Even then, Mr. Foust would not be dead if he had not been a fugitive, a fugitive who wrecked a car on a straight stretch of road, and then ran, who (for whatever reason) could not tell water from land when he jumped from Singing River Bridge.

We don't blame the TVA police for not finding Mr. Foust, either dead or alive, sooner; and we certainly can't logically blame Lauderdale EMA which was not officially asked to help with the search for the fugitive.

Tomorrow: The Firefighters Speak


From our friend Tina Miller Parker:

Please purchase a ticket to our Whole Hog chicken plate fundraiser on Friday, October 29th from 11 am - 1 pm at the Hospitality House on the Muscle Shoals campus of NW-SCC. You can eat in or carry out. Consider ordering extra plates to take home for Halloween weekend!

Enjoy delicious Whole Hog food and support a wonderful cause at the same time. Tickets are only $8, but we will gladly accept any donation above that amount. See any CASA board member to purchase a ticket, or you may purchase a ticket at the CASA office. Board members are: Patsy Congleton, Donna Franks, Cameron Key, John Lackey, Pam Oliver, Tina Parker, Kristi Phillips, Derek Ricks, Kim Tucker, and Patsy Weems. Our CASA office is located at 2602 S. Wilson Dam Road in Muscle Shoals.



The original from Roger Corman:


Monday, October 25, 2010

Still Saving Cypress Creek

Interested in the latest data on Cypress Creek? Be sure to attend tomorrow's meeting of Save Cypress Creek at which the Highland Technical Consultants landfill study will be discussed. More details of the meeting here: Link


It's going to be a busy week:

The Shoals Republican Club will host a meet and greet for all Republican candidates on the state, local, and federal levels on Thursday, October 28, 2010 from 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. at Stanfield’s Steak House, 1700 Lee Street in Rogersville, Alabama.

All Alabama Republican candidates on the state, local, and federal levels have been invited to attend, including Fifth Congressional District candidate Mo Brooks, Lauderdale County District Court Judge Carole Medley, Alabama State Senate District #1 candidate Dr. Jerry Freeman, Alabama State House District #1 candidate Quinton Hanson, Alabama State House District #2 Lynn Greer, Lauderdale County Sheriff candidate Ty Barrett, Lauderdale County Commission District #1 candidate Glenn Henry, and Lauderdale County Board of Education candidates for Place #1 Daniel Patterson and Place #2 Roger Garner. The event is open to the public and this is your opportunity to ask the candidates about themselves and the important issues facing our country, the state and county. The General Election is Tuesday, November 2nd.

All meetings of the Shoals Republican Club are open to the public. For more information, contact Shoals Republican Club President William Smith at (256) 767-4529, or


We should have more info on the Lauderdale County Commission meeting in tomorrow's blog. In the mean time, you may wish to read Trader's take on the situation; from The Connection: Link



Sunday, October 24, 2010

Monday's Lauderdale Commission Meeting

It may rival a Cherokee Town Council Meeting, or it may just be a recitation of number crunching, but at this point we're urging everyone who possibly can to attend the Lauderdale County Commission meeting tomorrow morning. The meeting will begin at 9:00 a.m. in room 301 of the courthouse.

From information provided by sources close to the current brouhaha over Lauderdale's EMA office and director, there will be continued discussion of George Grabryan's job performance. After an investigation spanning over two years, District 1 Commissioner Rhea Tays Fulmer shocked the audience two weeks ago by revealing Mr. Grabryan had lent traffic cones to an organization that provides driving instruction to various county emergency agencies. Yes, that was sarcasm.

At best the issue should be laid to rest tomorrow. At worst, we'll all get to see a witch a few days early.


From today's TimesDaily:
(Tammy) Irons...said her record speaks for itself. We agree; a vote for Dr. Gerald Freeman is a vote for returning honesty to our State Senate.


A reader has forwarded a criticism of our blog. It seems a local Facebook member asked why we haven't addressed the proposed UNA land purchase from the City of Florence. In fact, we did comment on the issue in a previous blog: Link

The blog focused on two issues; neither of which we have an answer to as yet. Our Facebook critic may rest assured we will have updates on the issue.


Don't forget that this week marks the annual Ghost Walk downtown: Link


Here's some witches we can all love...


Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Cherokee Trilogy

Today we're publishing three views of the current situation in Cherokee, with comments as needed.


A Guest Commentary By

A Concerned Citizen

It seems that there is need of some serious investigation as whether or not the Cherokee town meeting Saturday was an emergency and whether or not the Thursday meeting was legal. Were the citizens properly represented? The Government over the Municipalities should be looking into it.

Was the meeting on Thursday properly called? Are the Citizens in Thelma Lambert's District properly represented? I think not, since she refused to participate. Did the Mayor, Chuck Lansdell resign? He did get up from the council table and stated that he was going to sit with the citizens. Could the council legally proceed with voting on any issue at that point? There are many questions that need to be answered. It seems that if the council wanted to continue with the voting on any and all issues then to be fair to all the citizens all issues would have to be brought to a vote of the people. All of this immature nonsense and vindictiveness needs to stop.

It has also been brought to my attention that Ms. Willis refused to take a drug test. My understanding is that she cannot legally give anyone any instructions nor have anything to do with the gas if something arises which occasionally it does. So why has she not been let go from her position over the water board due to her criminal record and insubordination? Where are the officials on this and what are are they going to do? Something needs to be done for the town of Cherokee.

As for the legality of the meeting, Mr. Rosser, the town's attorney, stated that everything was kosher. That could possibly be overruled by the appropriate court if other concerned citizens decided to take issue with his opinion.

As for Ms. Willis, her conviction was in civil court--not criminal. We do not see how a civil ruling would keep her from serving. Her refusal to take a drug test is another matter. All natural gas departments fall under the jurisdiction of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The FERC usually requires mandatory initial and periodic drug testing of all employees of natural gas companies. Whether the board would fall under this umbrella or not should not be hard to ascertain.

Here is a link to the FERC website: Link The number is toll free and if anyone is seriously concerned over Ms. Willis' refusal to be drug tested, I would suggest they contact them.



A Guest Commentary By

L.P. - Resident of Cherokee

Well another meeting was held in the little town of Cherokee. The article in the TimesDaily stated that on Friday before the close of business, the Mayor, Chuck Lansdell sent an e-mail to the City Clerk, Melinda Malone, all council members and even the City Attorney with only minutes to spare trying to get some things in to put on the Agenda for this months meeting on Tuesday. It seems he was upset that Melinda Malone did not get her e-mail. Well, Melinda Malone was upset that he accused her of not following orders and/or not opening the e-mail. Melinda Malone stated that they could look at her computer to see if she actually did receive the e-mail in the first place. We do not know if that was actually done.

There are many questions on this one. Cherokee might be behind the times a bit, but there is such thing as a telephone and fax machine. If the clerk’ s office doesn't have one, perhaps we could hold a yard sale to raise the money to purchase one or better yet maybe some will donate one to city hall. All of this miss communication problems could have been avoided if the Mayor would have picked up the phone to make sure his employee, Melinda received it or maybe he could have just faxed it or better yet not waited till the last minute and just took it their in person. It was it meant to get to her at all it sure does seem that it may have been planned to not even get to her at all. Another thing that could have made it easier is that Melinda could have phone the Mayor and asked if he had anything for her to put on the agenda since she had not heard from him all day. Hummm .... Questions, Questions. What kind of answer or comment do the Mayor and Clerk have on this?

And what is this about a law that the town council wants to write about taking away the Mayors authority? Can they do that? If they take away the Mayors authority then would we even need the council as well? The town could just become unincorporated and that would solve that problem all together. Would that be right for this little town. Ask Iron City to see if they like it.

The citizens of Cherokee think that this kind of miscommunication is unacceptable. In other places of business, the employees and bosses communicate much better that this. It is clearly seen that no one wants to communicate in a more appropriate, courteous manner here to properly do their job without all of the chaos. It seems they want to keep all the madness going. Are the citizens going to have to hire a unbiased babysitter to make sure they communicate and act accordingly?

Maybe the citizens need to send a list of people to the higher ups that would gladly take the place of the Mayor and Council and ask the Mayor and council members to be replaced immediately.

This has gone on long enough with the childish vindictive people.

The above letter was sent to us in September; we apologize that it has taken some time to publish it. The main thrust of the commentary is still valid a month later...


Cherokee, City of Brotherly Love?

By J.J. Ray

Where else in North Alabama could you find a city council where a mayor had such an aversion for everyone on that council except for Thelma Lambert. Where else could he be overheard listening to Thelma Lambert trying to get the city clerk Melinda Malone fired? Where else could a sitting mayor openly threaten the City Attorney Daniel Rosser with the loss of his bar license for disagreeing with him? Where else could a mayor try to pick a fight with one of the council members, Councilman Glover? Only in Cherokee Alabama the home of the Hatfields, McCoys and the city council circus.

Just to make things worse I understand that the mayor is going to set up the pillory with its first resident to be Melinda Malone, if the new ordinances are passed by the city council on Thursday. If that is not enough, I understand that Thelma Lambert is an employee of a restaurant. Guess where the rotten vegetables will come from? Look out, Melinda, incoming.

If this sounds ridiculous, that's because it is. A city council is supposed to represent the citizens, as is the mayor. The question is whom does Mayor Lansdell represent? The way he conducts himself reminds me of a spoiled adolescent who does not get his way. He constantly complains about the council trying to usurp his authority. Bless his heart he is having delusions of grandeur. Maybe he thinks that Cherokee is a fiefdom and he is the feudal lord, like Lewd Lawayne in Leighton. What ever he believes he is in fact the elected mayor of Cherokee and he should act that way with some dignity and decorum. Not like a spoiled adolescent. This does not exempt the city council. It takes more than one to pick a fight.

Mr. Mayor I have a news flash for you, “ Respect is something earned, not given.” In order to receive you must earn the respect of the council and citizens. True, the title does deserve respect but the holder still has to earn it. There is nothing wrong with articulating your displeasure with the new ordinances that is the democratic way. To act as you have in the past only diminishes you. You and the council have a responsibility to the citizens of Cherokee. You were sworn in and took that oath of office. Did you have your fingers crossed when you did? That is not a part-time oath and neither is the job or the responsibility that goes with it. The same holds true for the city council whether elected or appointed. Acting like the Hatfields and McCoys bickering amongst yourselves in public does not enhance confidence, rather it breeds contempt.

Being the laughing stock of Alabama is not a great title to have for any city council. That is what it has become “ The Cirque du Cherokee” not to be confused with the “ Cirque du Soleil” of Las Vegas. Moreover, you Mr. Mayor are the ringmaster. Tickets are going fast, avoid the scalpers. Call and reserve your seat for the next performance.


Enjoy a good read? We highly recommend two older novels: The Caine Mutiny and The Toy Sword. These two books couldn't have more diverse settings, but they do have one thing in common. Each of these novels boasts a character that could easily be taken from Lauderdale County politics. If you think these statements comprise a teaser for future couldn't be more right.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Backyard Burger --> Zaxby's

It may not be murder, rape, or arson, but the proposed Muscle Shoals purchase of the old Backyard Burger building on Avalon Avenue has certainly generated a lot of talk...and a lot of e-mails to us. The "facts" of the sale seem to change with each passing day.

The latest reports state the 800K maximum includes both the sale price and renovations. Whew...that's a relief. Just how much is the building at 2017 East Avalon Avenue worth? Here's the current real estate listing:

Let's see...asking price $1,150, sale price $550,000.00. Is there a real estate appraiser in the house?

Zaxby's is certainly a much more well established restaurant than Backyard Burger, but what if the famous purveyor of chicken cuisine should decide to bail in a year or two? Perhaps Muscle Shoals City Hall will then have its own cafeteria.



Thursday, October 21, 2010

UFO Over Florence/Readers' Comments

A recent sighting of a UFO over downtown Florence has been the talk of the town; however, after closer investigation by Air Force personnel, the object proved to be just the ghost of Scott Carrier. Officials theorized that former Councilman Carrier was so elated over the recent turn of events at City Hall, he just had to thumb his nose at the mayor once last time.


Readers Write

Our Tuesday blog on the Lauderdale EMA quoted a source as saying:

* remind that volunteer fireman are under the EMA because they are volunteers and not professionals per se and have to have oversight -- they are good at what they do but if they are left to their own accord there would be more infighting and drama than there already is...

From Morris Lentz:

Number 1, we as volunteer firefighters DO NOT and HAVE NOT and WILL NOT answer to EMA. We answer to our local governing authority. That being our local municipality and/or board of directors. EMA has absolutely NO control, input or say so in any volunteer fire department in Lauderdale County.

Number 2, I am a PROFESSIONAL volunteer firefighter. I attend the same classes and have the same certification as "career" firefighters do. There is no difference. I don't remember the "wall" that fell on me back in 2009 asking if I were a "professional" or "volunteer". It hurt just the same.

Number 3, there are two types of firefighters in America. Professional Career Firefighters and Professional Volunteer Firefighters.

Number 4. The Lauderdale County Association of Volunteer Fire Departments is comprised of 14 of the very best volunteer fire departments in the State of Alabama. WE (not EMA) wrote the bill for our permanent funding mechanism that has brought over $65,000 in PERMANENT funding to each volunteer fire department in Lauderdale County. WE (not EMA) are proud to have one of the only full time staffed volunteer fire departments in the State of Alabama.....that being the Underwood Petersville Volunteer Fire Department.

And finally Number 5. The Volunteer Firefighters and Fire Departments in Lauderdale County stood in solidarity over three years ago against EMA to change the EMS Service Provider in our county. All fire chiefs wrote a letter of support in defiance of EMA in support of our current EMS provider (Lauderdale EMS). That change has proven the best move ever made by the City of Florence and the Lauderdale County Commission.

Shoalanda. EMA has never ever ever attended (not one) of the local volunteer fire department meetings nor have they (or will they ever) have any input into the governing of our departments. Whomever wrote these snippets in your blog was WAY OUT in left field.

Thanks for this input, Morris, and it bears out the fact any legitimate criticism concerning George Grabryan involves his choice of ambulance service for the county.


From our October 15th blog:

When George Mangum retired in April 1994, Richard Adams took over as director and held the position until his death in November 1998. Adam's death was termed a hunting accident, but at the time of the shooting the 911 account was overdrawn and many bills had gone unpaid since the previous May. The 37 year-old Adams was found shot in the head one day before the official investigation was to begin concerning the missing funds.

An anonymous reader writes:

You only mentioned Richard Adams because his first wife was Keith McGuire's sister.

While we had heard that McGuire's ex-brother-in-law had committed suicide, we had no idea that it was Richard Adams. If we had known that fact, it would have been mentioned in the article. This fact also sheds light on the recusal of so many in McGuire's rape trial.

The same reader also writes:

Just what is going on with Keith McGuire's teacher license? It looks like he's never going to have a hearing and he's probably teaching kids right now.

From what sources at the Alabama Department of Education tell us, the hearing will indeed take place after the judge reads the transcript from McGuire's July 2010 rape trial. We were not told if the Board requested this action or if the request came from McGuire's lawyer. Other sources tell us that Brian Keith McGuire is currently working as a prison guard in South Alabama, but as long as his teaching license remains valid, he is technically able to teach at any institution willing to hire him.



Wednesday, October 20, 2010

We're Two Years Old!

The past two years have been very exciting for us. We want to thank each and every one of our readers for all your support and input.

Shoalanda, DK, CR, and J. J. Ray*

*Today J.J. officially becomes part of the team.


We recently lost two members of our blogging team, but our loss is your gain. The Connection is growing each day; if you haven't yet visited the newest Shoals Online Magazine, you're missing out on some interesting and unique content.

The Connection


Tis the season...


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Questions About Lauderdale EMA Charges

"Condemnation without investigation is the height of ignorance..." -- Albert Einstein

If you think you saw the above quote recently, it was Rhea Tays Fulmer's quote of the day for last Friday. If you think it's ironic, join the club. We have received more information concerning Ms. Fulmer's investigation into Geroge Grabryan's jobs performance than we can possibly publish in our usual blogging format. Some of it is speculation, some of it is critical, but most of it is supportive of Mr. Grabryan in his role as Lauderdale Emergency Management Agency Director for Lauderdale County.

Obviously, the more we know about a source, the more accurate we consider its information. In lieu of our opinion today on this ongoing issue, we are simply publishing some questions/points our source has forwarded. We ask that you read them, ascertain the answers yourself, and then decide what kind of EMA director Mr. Grabryan has been for our county.

* ask about the EMA budget being "in the black" while most other departments are always in the "red"

* ask how many times the equipment has not worked when on a scene because those testing protocols are in place during training/practice -- or if there was not access to other equipment or even other counties if something went wrong

* ask what else the EMA was responding to the morning the boats hit the marina and where (were those who) felt it was so vital that EMA be there -- instead of being vultures to see the drama -- they were working with real victims of floods to make sure houses and lives were taken care of that morning instead of just the rich people's boats that had gotten away from their dock -- the marina was the biggest drama that day but it wasn't the only drama that day.

* remind that volunteer fireman are under the EMA because they are volunteers and not professionals per se and have to have oversight -- they are good at what they do but if they are left to their own accord there would be more infighting and drama than there already is...

* remind that the EMA covers the FPD, Lauderdale County Sheriff, EMS as well as has to coordinate with troopers, air evac and homeland security -- they are not the volunteers department -- they belong to the county and the city. There is more equipment signed out to other agencies than any other agency in the shoals because they don't just take care of the volunteers -- they take care of everyone

* Also, as to her statement the other day in the paper about "employees reporting to the Deputy Director every 2 hours" -- do they think they don't have to report to anyone?

* As for "pink paper in the employee file" -- is it just that it's pink or is the issue of being written up that is the bigger problem? If you are doing your job you won't get anything but commendations in your file -- so what color does the paper that is used matter?

Pardon us if we now steal a line from Fox News--here are the facts; you decide.


Meet Tom Edwards; we think he's someone you should know: Link


Clyde Air? How Funny...


Monday, October 18, 2010

Two Weeks and Counting...

In two weeks and one day we'll go to the polls to finish what we started last June. One of the most important elections for the Shoals area is the District 1 Alabama House seat. Twice we have asked Florence attorney Greg Burdine for a vision statement, but have so far not heard from the Democratic candidate.

Besides an outdated constitution, Alabama has also suffered for many years from electing unqualified individuals to state offices. Many seem to have an inherent dislike for attorneys, but these oft time pariahs do have the ability to discern needed and passable legislation from the chaff. Too often new laws spring from Rep. Bubba Tidefort's cousin's next door neighbor's misguided animosity toward the Knit & Pearl Brigade of Bilgewater, Alabama, because K&P President Dorcas Poovie once stole his parking place.

Nevertheless, attorneys are not the only ones qualified to serve in our legislature. Many who have not just worked in the business world, but who have founded successful companies, are also qualified. Such a man is Quinton Hanson.

Since the beginning of the campaign, Mr. Hanson has grown in his understanding of what his constituency needs and has, perhaps more importantly, shown an eagerness to address the issues that confront this area and its citizens.

We believe a vote for Quinton Hanson is a vote for progress for this area. God knows we need it.


Several readers have inquired concerning the status of Holland Elkins. Hollard is currently being held without bail at the Lauderdale Detention Center. If he should be released from Lauderdale for any reason, he will have to return to Colbert County where he still faces charges stemming from a home invasion two years ago.


Sex offenders on Hard Times: You've seen the paper on the counter at the mini-mart; you may have even picked it up, you've possibly even purchased an issue or two. Now Hard Times is publishing not only the newest mug shots, but spotlighting one or two local sex offenders in each issue. A reader asks if this is legal?

None of us here is an attorney, but we imagine it would be open to debate. The official Alabama sex offender site is run by the Department of Corrections. Here's a snip from their website:

Is the publication of this information harassment? That would be the debatable question. Our guess is the answer is no. Just how the DOC feels about such info being used for monetary gain might be a different story. How do we personally feel? Refer to one of our previous blogs.


Trick or Treat?


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Cherokee Nation...Will Return?

Indian Reservation
- Words and Music by John D. Loudermilk

They took the whole Cherokee nation
Put us on this reservation
Took away our ways of life
The tomahawk and the bow and knife
Took away our native tongue
And taught their English to our young
And all the beads we made by hand
Are nowadays made in Japan

Cherokee people, Cherokee tribe
So proud to live, so proud to die

They took the whole Indian nation
Locked us on this reservation
Though I wear a shirt and tie
I’m still part red man deep inside

Cherokee people, Cherokee tribe
So proud to live, so proud to die

But maybe someday when they learn
Cherokee nation will return, will return, will return, will return, will return

Yes, the town of Cherokee has returned to the news. J. J. Ray was at the called 9:00 a.m. meeting yesterday morning, as well as representatives from other local media. A short synopsis of the meeting in J. J.'s own words:

This is the ordinance (see below) the Mayor is crying about. As you see it does not usurp his power. It only gives the board the authority to confirm or deny on hires. No difference than any other legislative body.

The mayor refused to call the meeting to order--that had to be done by two members. He then threatened counsel with the loss of his license over a point of order. Then he tried to pick a fight with councilman Glover saying "come on big boy let's git it on." It became a real shouting match.

The mayor read a statement about how the citizens had been mistreated by the board. After the meeting Thelma Lambert begged the mayor to fire Melinda Malone in front of Mike Goens stating "She would do anything if he would just fire her."





Section 1.
The Mayor of the Town of Cherokee, Alabama, (hereinafter called “Mayor”) shall have the power and authority to employ persons as employees of the Town of Cherokee, Alabama (hereinafter called “Town”) only on a temporary basis and only after a vacancy and salary or wage for said vacancy has been established by a majority vote of the Town Council at a previous regular or special meeting. This temporary employment shall be in effect only until the next regular or special meeting of the Town Council of the Town of Cherokee, Alabama,(hereinafter called “Council”) at which time the Mayor shall report in writing to the Council, and cause said report to be attached to or incorporated into its minutes, stating the name, position and salary or wage of the person or persons so employed.

Section 2.
No person shall be employed permanently or indefinitely as an employee of the Town without the consent of a majority of the members of the Council present and voting at the meeting at which said employment is considered by the Council.

Section 3.
If the Council shall fail to act in consenting or not consenting on the permanent or indefinite employment of a person temporarily employed by the Mayor as provided in Section 1 hereof at its’ regular or special meeting at which the temporary employment is reported by the Mayor, such person or persons may remain employees of the Town until such action is taken by the Council to consent or not consent to permanent or indefinite employment.

Section 4.
No person temporarily hired under Section 1 hereof, whose employment has been voted upon by the Council and the required consent not obtained, shall be re-employed on any basis until the consent of the Council shall be obtained as hereinabove provided.

Section 5.
The Council may, by majority vote of those present and voting, employ any person or persons as employees of the Town at such salaries or wages as may be set by them on a permanent or indefinite basis without such person or persons having first been temporarily appointed by the Mayor.

Section 6.
The Council may, by majority vote of the whole number of elected members to the Council, appoint any person as an officer of the Town whose appointment is not otherwise provided for by law, at such salaries or wages as may be set by them on a permanent or temporary basis.

Section 7.
The Mayor may remove any employee for good cause but only on a temporary basis and by at the latest the next regular meeting of the Town Council of the Town of Cherokee, Alabama at which time he shall report in writing to the Council, stating the name of the employee, the position, and the specific reasons for the removal.

Section 8.
No person shall be removed from employment permanently or indefinitely without the consent of a majority of the members of those elected to the Council at the meeting at which said removal is considered by the Council.

Section 9.
If the Council shall sustain the removal of the employee as provided in Section 7, the terminated employee may request a hearing before the Council for the reconsideration of the termination. This hearing shall be held by at the latest the next regular meeting. At the conclusion of the said hearing or by at the latest the next regular meeting, the Council shall by vote of a majority of those elected to the Council to either uphold or overturn the termination.

Section 10.
The Council may, by majority vote of those present and voting, terminate any employee or employees of the Town without such person or persons having first been temporarily removed by the Mayor. The terminated employee or employees reserve the right to request a hearing before the Council for the reconsideration of the termination as provided in Section 9.

Section 11.
No section of this ordinance shall be interpreted as interfering with the Mayor’s duty as otherwise provided by law and said ordinance shall be subordinate to the same.

Section 12.
All ordinances or parts thereof in conflict with this ordinance are hereby repealed.

Section 13.
Each and every provision of this ordinance is hereby declared to be an independent provision and the holding of any provision to be unconstitutional or invalid shall not affect any other provisions of this ordinance.

Section 14.
This ordinance shall become effective upon its adoption and publication as required by law.


An Ordinance establishing the rules of
procedure for the Town of Cherokee, Alabama

BE IT ORDAINED BY THE COUNCIL OF CHEROKEE, ALABAMA, that the order of procedure in all instances for meetings of the council shall be as follows:

Section 1. That the rules or order of procedure herein contained shall govern deliberations and meetings of the council of Cherokee, Alabama.

Section 2. Regular meetings of the council shall be held on the following dates: The First Tuesday of each month with an alternate meeting day on the Third Tuesday of the month

Section 3. Special meetings may be held at the call of the presiding officer by serving notice on each member of the council not less than 24 hours before the time set for such special meetings; or special meetings may be held as provided by Section 11-43-50, Code of Alabama, 1975, whenever two council members (or the mayor) making the request shall have the right to call such meeting. Notice of all special meetings shall be posted on a bulletin board accessible to the public at least 24 hours prior to such meeting.

Section 4. A quorum shall be determined as provided by Section 11-43-48, Code of Alabama.

Section 5. All regular meetings shall convene at 6 o’clock p.m. at the Town Hall and all meetings, regular and special, shall be open to the public. A work session will be held at 5 o’clock p.m. prior to the regular meetings.

Section 6. The order of business shall be as follows:

1 . A call to order
2 . Roll call (visual by the clerk)
3 . Reading and approval of the minutes of the previous meeting
4 . Reports of standing committees (as required)
5 . Report of special committees (as required)
6 . Reports of officers (as required)
7 . Reading of petitions, applications, complaints, appeals, communications, etc.
8 . Auditing accounts (as required)
9 . Resolutions, ordinances, orders and other business
1 0 .Public comments (No action shall be taken on any public comment until the next
regular or called meeting of the town council)

Section 7. No person other than the Mayor, Council, Town Attorney, Town Clerk, Police Officer(s), and Sheriff’s Deputy shall be permitted to be within 10 feet of the Council table while the Council is in work session or meeting without the consent of the majority of the Council present and voting.

Section 8. No member shall speak more that twice on the same subject without permission of the presiding officer.

Section 9. No person, not a member of the council, shall be allowed to address the same while in session without permission of the presiding officer.

Section 10. Every officer, whose duty it is to report at the regular meetings of the council, who shall be in default thereof, may be fined at the discretion of the council.

Section 11. Motions shall be reduced to writing when required by the presiding officer of the council or any member of the council. All resolutions and ordinances and any amendments thereto shall be in writing at the time of introduction.

Section 12. Motions to reconsider must be made by a member who voted with the prevailing side and at the same or next succeeding meeting of the council.

Section 13. Whenever it shall be required by one or more members, the “yeas” and “nays” shall be recorded and any member may call for a division on any question.

Section 14. All questions of order shall be decided by the presiding officer of the council with the right of appeal to the council by any member.

Section 15. The presiding officer of the council may at his or her discretion, call any member to take the chair, to allow him or her to address the council, make a motion or discuss any other matter at issue.

Section 16. Motions to lay any matter on the table shall be first in order. On all questions, the last amendment, the most distant day and the largest sum shall be first put.

Section 17. All meetings of the council shall be open to the public except when the council meets in executive session as authorized by state law.

Section 18. The council may meet in executive session only for those purposes authorized by state law. When a council member makes a motion to go into executive session for an enumerated purpose, the presiding officer shall put the motion to a vote. If the majority of the council shall vote in favor of the motion to go into executive session, the body shall then move into executive session to discuss the matter for which the executive session was called. No action may be taken in an executive session. When the discussion has been completed, the council shall resume its deliberations in public.

Section 19. A motion for adjournment shall always be in order.

Section 20. The rules of the council may be amended in the same manner as any other ordinance of general and permanent operation.

Section 21. The rules of the council may be temporarily suspended by a two-thirds vote of the members present.

Section 22. The chairman of each respective committee, or the council member acting for him of her, shall submit or make all reports to the council when so requested by the presiding officer or any member of the council.

Section 23. All ordinances, resolutions or propositions submitted to the council which require the expenditure of money shall lie over until the next meeting; provided, that such ordinances, resolutions or propositions may be considered earlier by unanimous consent of the council; and provided further, that this rule shall not apply to the current expense of, or contracts previously made with regular salaries of officers of wages of employees of the town.

Section 24. The clerk, engineer, attorney and chief of police, and such other officers or employees of the town of Cherokee, Alabama, shall, when requested, attend all meetings of the council and shall remain in the council room for such length of time as the council may direct.

Section 25. No ordinance or resolution of a permanent nature shall be adopted at the meeting at which it is introduced unless unanimous consent be obtained for the immediate consideration of such ordinance or resolution, such consent shall be by roll call and the vote thereon spread on the minutes.

Section 26. Robert’s Rules of Order is hereby adopted as the rules of procedure for this council in those situations which cannot be resolved by the rules set out in this ordinance.

Section 27. The time limit to have an item placed on the agenda shall be at 4:30 p.m. the last business day preceding the day of the regular meeting. The agenda shall be available as soon as practicable after completion but before the meeting. Only the Council may set the proposed agenda. The Council by majority vote may delegate the assembly of the proposed agenda to the Town Clerk. The Clerk must follow all adopted procedures in the assembly of the proposed agenda. In addition, items should be placed on the proposed agenda in the order in which they are received.

Section 28. This ordinance shall go into effect upon the passage and publication as required by law.

Section 29. All ordinances or parts of ordinances in conflict with the provisions of this ordinance are hereby repealed.


Cam Newton for the Heisman? Sounds good to us. We're just disappointed Auburn didn't score as many points as Deshler did Friday night...


Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Real George Grabryan?

Before his appointment as director of the Lauderdale EMA, George Grabryan was a detective with the Florence Police Department. Does that fact make him immune to dishonest behavior? No, but in our experience police officers are either extremely honest, by-the-book individuals or of "the law doesn't apply to me" school of thought. Looking at Mr. Grabryan's record, we would consider him the former.

Several months ago, we began receiving e-mails, ostensibly from several readers, who had questions concerning Grabryan and his job performance. From the questions we tactfully asked our contacts, we gathered Mr. Grabryan had never been involved in anything more controversial than the selection of NorthStar as the county's ambulance service. Was there anything suspicious about his preference?

We think the answer to that question is no. Mr. Grabryan may have preferred a service that some felt was inferior, and was perhaps in fact inferior, but that has nothing to do with Mr. Grabryan's honesty or integrity. If indeed his judgment was flawed in this matter, is that grounds for dismissal?

Why then is Lauderdale Commissioner Rhea Tays Fulmer requesting that Grabryan resign? Her 90 minute barrage of charges offered little concrete evidence of malfeasance. We're sure that Mr. Grabryan, being human, has made mistakes on the job, but what would prompt Fulmer to engage in what many would deem a witch hunt? Did she just look at George Grabryan one day and decide she didn't like him? We doubt that.

Obviously someone has been more than willing to poison Fulmer's opinion of Grabryan, but why? Either someone has a very strong dislike for Mr. Grabryan or someone would benefit if the current EMA/911 director left the scene...or perhaps both.

If Mrs. Fulmer and the would-be puppeteer have no more evidence of George Grabryan's shortcomings than what was presented at the last commission meeting, the current EMA director should be lauded, not asked to resign.


Melody Court? A reader suggested this mid-twentieth century Lauderdale landmark was located at Emerald Beach. A quick search of TimesDaily archives found a reference to the restaurant/dance hall as being eight miles east of Florence--or approximately the distance to Emerald Beach.


Streit Dairy in Sheffield? Who knew those old bottles would be so valuable? Link


Friday, October 15, 2010

Lauderdale EMA--An Inglorious Past

Earlier this week, we commented on the ongoing problems between Lauderdale County Commissioner Rhea Tays Fulmer and Emergency Management Agency Director George Grabryan. At that time we largely stated a few facts concerning the agency's problems during Grabryan's tenure, without commenting on either the director's job performance or the commissioner's claims against him.

Oddly enough, our e-mail from Grabryan supporters state we slighted him, while our e-mail from Fulmer fans accuse us of painting her as someone with an unfair vendetta. Perhaps the most humorous comment from a Fulmer supporter called our blog "just a gossip column," apparently because we actually refused to publish unfounded (at this time) gossip concerning Mr. Grabryan.

Without touching on current problems, the EMA/911 office was certainly embroiled in controversy for many years before Grabryan became director in early 1999. Federal charges of theft and fraud were brought against long time director George Mangum some months after his retirement to Florida. Mangum pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years probation. While the two remaining defendants were tried in Federal Court in Huntsville, actual fist fights broke out at Crisis Management Team meetings designed to bring more accountability to the Lauderdale EMA. The trial of Richard Hance and Ethelene Duster resulted in a hung jury.

When George Mangum retired in April 1994, Richard Adams took over as director and held the position until his death in November 1998. Adam's death was termed a hunting accident, but at the time of the shooting the 911 account was overdrawn and many bills had gone unpaid since the previous May. The 37 year-old Adams was found shot in the head one day before the official investigation was to begin concerning the missing funds.

After Adams' death, sources reported as much as 400K could have been missing from the 911 account which had been chronically overdrawn in the months before the director died. Some weeks after Adams' death, the figure was adjusted to only 300K; however, to our knowledge the results of the audit have never been made public. This begs the question: Was the audit ever completed?

Ethelene Duster, long time EMA deputy director and co-defendant of George Mangum, applied with 29 others to succeed Adams. The county commission appointed George Grabryan, a Florence police officer, who later terminated Duster. While Duster supporters criticized Grabryan for her dismissal, much criticism of the current director seems to come from responders who have not agreed with his choice of ambulance service in 2002 and 2008. While Grabryan's pick of NorthStar was awarded the contract in 2002, the county commission awarded the latter contract to Lauderdale EMS, an arm of Keller EMS.

Tomorrow: Fulmer's Charges Against Grabryan


From C. R. in Cherokee:

Special Called Meeting

The Cherokee City Council has called a special call meeting for 9 a.m. Saturday morning. The Burger King Four are trying to take away the mayor's powers again. The council cannot pass a law that overrides state law. The council is also dealing with an issue with Melinda Malone. Melinda has refused to pay some of the town's bills. Mayor Lansdell and Councilwomen Lambert had to sign the checks after Melinda refused. I have a question for the mayor. When are you going to fire Malone for failing to perform her job?

It is a Small World

The former Mayor of Cherokee Mignon Willis and current Cherokee Water Board Member was found guilty in a Lee County Mississippi Civil Court. Rehab Solutions PLLC accused then Mayor Willis of failure to carry out her duties as an accountant. The court ordered Mignon Willis to pay Rehab Solutions PLLC over 180,000 dollars.

Rehab Solutions PLLC recently hired Colbert County Attorney Becky Narmore. Narmore drew up paperwork to garnish Mignon Willis' Water Board paycheck. Willis and the Cherokee Water Board have been served with the paperwork. From this day forward a portion of Willis paycheck will go to pay back her court ordered debt. Remember the Mignon Willis controlled city council fired Narmore a few months ago.


A ghost movie for those with a short attention span:


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Carole Coil Medley--A Better Choice

Sometimes selecting a candidate to endorse is easy; sometimes it's extremely difficult. When two more than qualified candidates vie for the same office, it's almost impossible. We chose not to endorse either James Hall II or John Odem for the Democratic nomination since we found them to be equally qualified. The choice has been similarly hard in selecting a candidate to support in the November 2nd general election.

However, we firmly believe Carole Coil Medley will make a great judge, that she is already making a great judge. Over the years, we heard many complaints concerning her predecessor. We aren't hearing those same complaints about Ms. Medley--she's obviously doing it right.

We wholeheartedly endorse Judge Medley for Lauderdale District Judge and ask that you consider her qualifications, that you pray about your decision before you vote. No matter the outcome of the election, we know that Carole will continue to serve the citizens of Lauderdale County--she's that kind of person.


Colbert County will be electing a new district judge for the first time in 30 years. It's no secret that we here at Shoalanda have Republican leanings, but those leanings are influenced by that party almost always fielding the more qualified and desirable candidate.

Kyle Brown is, from what we know of him, a fine man and more than adequate prosecutor; however, his long association with the prosecutor's office is one reason for pause in this type of contest. Even excluding Mr. Brown's long held occupation, we find him to be lacking in the polish and personality that Chad Coker will bring to the office.

We urge you to look at Chad Coker, read his resume', and make your decision. This one shouldn't be hard. Chad Coker is the man for the job.


Our loss seems to be your gain: If you haven't yet visited The Connection, please do so. We've been surprised at how quickly this new Internet magazine has grown. In just one week, it seems to be coming together as the go-to place for the Shoals. Congratulations Trader and Nan on your ingenuity and hard work.


Melody Court & Boat Docks? E-mail us if you have any idea where this complex was located.