Friday, December 24, 2010

The Truth Hurts, but It's Good for Us...

How does that old joke go? Atlanta envies New York, Birmingham envies Atlanta, Huntsville envies Birmingham, and Florence & the Shoals envy Huntsville. We're here to tell you that after reading the TimesDaily the past few months, Florence and the Shoals should envy...Florence and the Shoals.

There may be some crime; there may even be a modicum of bickering among local leaders, but there's no true recession here. Jobs are plentiful in most fields, and if they aren't in yours, stick around because they will be after a few more months of SEDA recruiting.

The National Alabama rail car plant is set to explode--just tell them when. The Alabama Music Hall of Fame now has a second group to solicit funds for the HOF. According to TD staff writer Russ Corey, the formation of a foundation to seek additional funding for the Tuscumbia boondoggle is a positive thing. If you refuse the first one to ask for a contribution, you'll feel bad and contribute to the second one? We wonder how many will now give to neither since the whole situation smacks of a family feud?

The new year will also see a new Internet company based in Lexington--we're guessing because the Snow Masters company has so much more experience in that sort of thing than AT&T. Heaven forbid the TD portray such a project as anything short of the second coming. It will only be when National Alabama, the Hall of Fame, a Francisco Guerra company, or a similar endeavor goes under that the local press will be missing in action.

For real news concerning the local economy, look at the obituaries--that's right, the local obituaries. Those of a certain age who pass on have fewer and fewer least living in the Shoals. If they do have resident children, their grandchildren have migrated to the lush economic pastures of larger cities. Even those who stay here for personal reasons are quick to paint a bleak picture of life in northwest Alabama. The Shoals is saturated with attorneys, nurses, and accountants. Many in these highly skilled professions barely eke out a living, at least compared to their colleagues in other geographical areas.

Nevertheless, we can rejoice because Florence will now have one of the top five school systems in the state...and not leave any child behind to do so. How do we know this? The TimesDaily has told us so. Belief in one's self is essential, but it takes more to make the system work. If local stores took inventory in the same manner the TD takes stock of local industry, we're afraid most would go bankrupt very quickly.


Hard words are often necessary. We've recently encouraged readers to write those in state and national government to request a link to the interstate highway system. We still think that should be the number one project for the area, but what would be the second?

Several things come to mind, but the easiest is community clean-up. Would you want to put a restaurant in the East Florence Entertainment District (whatever that may be)? Would you want to open a large chain store in downtown Sheffield? Would you want to place an upscale art gallery in downtown Leighton?

We're betting you answered no to all three questions. If the answers are ever to change to yes, local governments are going to have to treat the offending property owners in a fair, but extremely strict manner. Junk is junk, no matter who owns it.

We'll add that the City of Sheffield should appoint Steve Wiggins to head a monumental clean up campaign. The city should give Steve authority to do what it takes to clean up what used to be a beautiful town. There are only two choices, and those who choose to do nothing should expect nothing. Think about it.


It's Christmas Eve, and the above subjects of urban and economic decay in the area, while necessary, aren't exactly uplifting. If you're looking for a treat on your afternoon off, we suggest you take a look at Remembering Florence. If you haven't visited Larry Fisher's Facebook page recently, you'll be amazed at the added material. There are now over 300 photos of Florence and the surrounding area. Thanks again to Larry for creating and monitoring this wonderful sight.

What's up with this: It's 12/24 and we haven't heard from J. J. Ray. Will Santa escape Rhea Fulmer Michael Tays' evil plot to ruin Christmas? Let's hope everyone has a joyous and fantastic holiday!