Sunday, January 31, 2010

Would You Survive Being a Patient at ECM/Shoals?

Shoals Hospital - A former employee tells of a staph outbreak affecting an entire floor and of nurses on second shift covering 16 patients.

ECM Hospital - A family member tells of a patient with congestive heart failure being served a sugar free diet, rather than the appropriate salt free fare.

ECM Hospital - Today Denise Crosslin of Killen reports in the TimesDaily that her husband, a cardiac patient, went eleven and one-half hours without a meal and waited 26 hours to see a physician.

Are these isolated incidents or are they the norm for Coffee Health Group? We understand that of the recent layoff of 65 employees, almost 40 were Registered Nurses. What does this say about the quality of health care in the Shoals?

No one wishes to see our local government sell ECM and its affiliated institutions, but things change. We don't pay our medical doctors with pigs and chickens, nor do physicians with tens of thousands of dollars in college loans deliver babies for a pittance.

There will be change in our local health care; it's up to us to accept it and ensure than it's the right change. Investigate the four hospital groups seeking to purchase the Coffee Health Group and make your voice known. Make it known now--don't let CHG become the next Florence Golf and Country Club.

Notice: Due to UNA's closing and the related inclement weather, the Lauderdale County Volunteer Firefighter Association banquet will be rescheduled at a later date.


Friday, January 29, 2010

Robert Hendon for Florence-Lauderdale Tourism Board?

The Lauderdale County Commission has now made a second nomination for the open seat on the Florence-Lauderdale Tourism Board. If the name Robert Hendon was unfamiliar to you, you're not alone. None of us here was familiar with the retired iron worker.

Apparently one documented claim to fame for Mr. Hendon is a sizable contribution to Democrat Tammy Irons in her campaign for the Alabama House of Representatives. In certain segments of the population, that would not be an asset.

Probate Judge/Commission Chairman Dewey Mitchell has said that it's time to stop the craziness. If this is what he indeed wants, the county's nomination of Mr. Hendon will not do it.

What's up with this: It's raining and the temperature is 34 degrees; it's Friday, and workers leaving their jobs are stopping by local banks. We hope none of them uses Bank Independent, an institution whose employees are apparently afraid of getting wet. We're not sure what time BI closed today, but some irritated customers have been spotted at several branches.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tuscaloosa News Forum

Forums: Politics, crochet, gardening, hate, cake decorating--you name it, and they're out there. Yes, we used the word hate to describe some since there's no better description. The TimesDaily boasts that its online news site, complete with reader forum, is the largest read site in the Shoals. Yet, rumors persist that editor Scott Morris has plans to discontinue this popular venue.

Apparently the TD isn't the only newspaper to be the subject of rumors. The Tuscaloosa News, unlike the TD, is still part of the New York Times group, a company that has announced it will be eliminating its forums come February. So what of the TNF?

According to sources at the Tuscaloosa News, that newspaper will continue its popular forum, buying the current software or finding a format that is compatible with the present forum. Why should we in the Shoals care?

Visit the Tuscaloosa News Forum and count the number of members from the Shoals. The number grows daily for a variety of reasons. The TNF seems to have actual moderation--effective moderation at that. We invite you to visit it. You just might like it.

What's up with this: Andy Betterton is advocating that Blackberry Village subdivision revert to R-1 zoning. Fairly easy to advocate de facto zoning, isn't it? We've supported the R-2 zoning as an improvement over the former trailer park; obviously Eugene Sak is living up to his promise of doing what's best for Florence and the subdivision's neighbors.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Drive-By Truckers in Huntsville Tomorrow Night

For all you DBT fans out there, the band will perform in Huntsville tomorrow night. For details, you can visit Crossroads Cafe.

Since most of us engage in that bourgeois institution of work, that necessary evil may prevent many from being present tomorrow night. For those who fall into that category, we offer you an excellent video by Florence's Matt Osborne. Visit our link to Osborne Ink or view his insightful works at The Huffington Post. (The Three Great Alabama Icons is also the title of one of the late Byron Wilkes' most famous works, pictured at right.)


Jimmy Sandlin's Paternity Court

The TimesDaily today published an article featuring Jimmy Sandlin's Paternity Court. Judge Sandlin oversees what is commonly referred to as "family court," but we have no idea what "paternity court" may entail.

Perhaps the TD was actually referring to parenting classes that are mandated in some divorce/custody trials. With Judge Sandlin's flair for unusual wording to create colorful acronyms, we can't be sure...


During a town council meeting Monday night, the town of Anderson "fired" seven reserve officers--individuals who serve as police officers without training or pay. Such officers can be a boon to towns with an extremely small budget for public safety, but they can also present a great liability. Apparently the latter had become an issue, and Mayor B. J. Tully, along with a majority of the town council, voted to terminate the reserve force until further notice.

That leaves only Chief Mark Bowers to patrol the extremely small Lauderdale County town at this time. Bower's brother Brian was one of the seven officers who were dismissed. Commenting on the situation he stated:

If we're not around to protect him (Mark Bowers), watch his back, uh, they could actually hurt him or kill him. So, that's their agenda.

Are we to understand it's the agenda of the Anderson Town Council to hurt or kill the current police chief? Stay tuned--the council meets to discuss Chief Mark Bower's employment next Monday, February 1st.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Kangaroo Fights Plastic Profits

The Kangaroo mini-mart chain is on a crusade, albeit we fear a futile one. Visit any of their stores across the valley and you will find signs asking that you sign their petition against excessive debit and credit card rates. Lest you think this is really no concern of yours, remember that Kangaroo passes these expenses on to the customer.

Just how much does Kangaroo have to pay their bank(s) for each dollar processed through debit or credit cards? Judging by their apparent large volume of business their charges should be on the lower end of the scale, or approximately .01 for each dollar paid via a debit card and .03 (or less) for each dollar paid via credit.

If this seems like a relatively small amount, consider your gasoline purchases in yearly dollar amounts and calculate one percent of that--that's the minimum Kangaroo and all other gasoline vendors have in all probability added to your per gallon cost. Then consider they may have added as much as three percent--just in case.

Does Kangaroo think these petitions will actually lower bank processing fees? We doubt it...but it looks good to customers.

What's up with this: Want to see the Cherokee town council fight of the week? Click on this link and give us your opinion. Our opinion is the video is confusing at best and would prove worthless if the Colbert County District Attorney should decide to bring charges against any one of the three involved.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Cherokee Mayor's Family Heads to Circuit Court?

Most of us don't care if a person with a disability uses a standard (read: not modified for street use) golf cart to complete a journey of a few blocks any more than we care if a motorist is traveling 46 mph in a 45 mph zone. Apparently 72 year-old Betty McKinney, a resident of Forest Lane in Cherokee, does care if her neighbor Tina Lansdell uses such a cart on their suburban street. Why does McKinney object so vigorously and why does the 42 year-old Lansdell, wife of Mayor Chuck Lansdell, insist on continuing this illegal activity? At this point, we're not sure if even the participants in this ongoing legal battle remember their initial motivations.

Chuck Lansdell was first elected mayor of the small Colbert County town in 1992. After serving three terms, Lansdell decided that the part-time job was interfering with his care of wife Tina who suffers from Leber's Optic Neuropathy Plus. Besides blurred vision, this rare form of neuropathy also produces muscle weakness that is similar to that found in patients with Multiple Sclerosis.

From 2004 until 2008, Mignon Willis, a close friend of Betty McKinney, served as mayor of Cherokee, but chose not to run in the last election. While Mayor Lansdell has not publicly criticized Willis, he has stated his goal in returning to office was to unify the town. So far, he's batting zero.

When McKinney first complained of the use of the illegal cart last September, Chuck Lansdell was quick to label the charges as being politically motivated. The case first reached Cherokee Municipal Court in October 2009 when Tina Lansdell, Charlie Lansdell (the Lansdells' 16 year-old son also known as Char-Char) and Councilwoman Thelma Lambert pleaded not guilty. Judge Bill Marthaler finally heard the case earlier this month, after Cherokee Municipal Judge Chad Coker recused himself. Coker was appointed by former Mayor Willis and is currently seeking the office of Colbert County District Judge.

We haven't heard the official verdict on charges brought against Lambert, but Marthaler found Tina and Char-Char Lansdell guilty. Now, defense attorney Tim Case plans to appeal the verdict in Colbert County Circuit Court, ostensibly because the town of Cherokee has not officially adopted the Alabama state laws against such unmodified vehicles being allowed on public roads. Obviously, along with safety issues, the state seeks to force the owners of such carts to purchase licenses for their vehicles. In the eyes of the state, it's just as illegal to drive an unlicensed golf cart on public roadways as it is to drive an unlicensed Ford or Chevy.

Why do the Lansdells not simply pay their fine, modify their cart, and drive to their hearts' content? Why indeed? Most individuals would jump through hoops in order to avoid being tried in circuit court; yet the Lansdells are seeking to waste Colbert County tax dollars just to win a victory over Betty McKinney. Let's hope there are alternatives in the 2012 Cherokee mayor's race.

A rose by any other name: With Chuck, Charlie, and Char-Char, someone has to be named Charles somewhere...


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Valley Views--Your Two Cents

Seen and heard around the Valley this week:

Is it supposed to be ironic that Fat Boy's sells wrist bands? - JKM Films on Twitter

I was very disappointed with the quality of the basketball. The kids need helmets if their (sic) going to play the game this way. - Heeters commenting on the inept referees at the annual Lauderdale County Basketball tournament

* We’ve been wearing shoes here since the 1970s, and the largest city in the state (Birmingham) has had a black mayor for decades. Of course, the most recent occupant is going to federal prison for corruption. - Jay Nordlinger in On Alabama

* If the Shoals wants us to use it's (sic) airport, wouldn't it help to update your website? Hasn't been since 2008! - abstractrandom on Twitter

* A Shoals area teacher charged with a sex crime was fired from her position. - Nick Lough of WAFF on Amanda Watkins (Shouldn't the words "because of" be inserted in place of "from"?)

* Hunter’s parents may own “Beck Boys Plumbing” however, “Beck’s Plumbing” is not associated with Hunter Beck, his parents, or any other Beck family member in any way form or fashion. - CEO Beck's Plumbing (Our apologies to Beck's Plumbing for the error--what a difference the word "Boys" can make.)

* Talk about your two cents worth: It's not enough that the Lauderdale County Commission recently wrote a check for five cents, in December they actually wrote one for two cents. - Yours Truly commenting on the December 14, 2009, meeting minutes. (Since it costs approximately $1.00 to cut and mail a check, wouldn't a journal entry have sufficed to erase this debt to another county entity? For that matter, would a debt of only two cents be that monumental if it weren't paid at all?)


Friday, January 22, 2010

She Said...

Yesterday we published information provided by friends of Hunter Beck, a Florence youth accused of first degree rape. Those who read us regularly know that we support swift and sure punishment for those who commit crimes of violence against women. Similarly, we hope all who bring such charges falsely receive the proper legal punishment.

Friends of the young woman who has accused Beck have also now contacted us, assuring us that she is indeed a victim and will continue to pursue her charges against Hunter Beck. In no way do we support Beck over his accuser or claim to know the facts in this case; however, we are happy to make known the support of his friends.

Hopefully, this case will see a speedy legal resolution.


Morris Lentz, president of the Lauderdale County Volunteer Firefighters Association, invites everyone to the 32nd annual awards banquet to be held on January 30th at the Guillot Center on the campus of UNA. The banquet will begin at 6:00 p.m., and admission is $15.00. We hope all who can will attend and let our volunteer firefighters know how much we appreciate their efforts.

Note: As far as we can ascertain, the communications we have received supporting Hunter Beck have come from legitimate friends; however, we are updating the photo of Beck in order to assure accuracy.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Was Hunter Beck Falsely Charged with Rape?

Several readers have contacted us concerning Florence native Hunter Beck. After attending a party on Chisholm Road last Friday night, Beck returned to the residence of his father Jim Beck at 220 Mauldin Avenue in the Bellmeade Subdivision. Hunter, whose age has alternately been listed as either 18 or 19, attended Florence High School where he has many friends who contend the teenager has never been in any serious trouble.

Florence police arrested Beck at the residence of his father Jim and stepmother Donna early Saturday morning. He is currently free on $50,000.00 bond and has retained Tim Case as a defense attorney. Case and Hunter's supporters contend the sex was consensual.

The friends who have contacted us feel the accusations result from a misguided case of revenge. Sources say that Hunter's personality changed as he entered high school, where he was a star on the track team. On his MySpace page he lists an annual income of $250,000.00--quite a salary for someone not yet out of his teens; however, Hunter's family owns Beck Plumbing and may be perceived by many as an easy financial target. One friend tells us that Hunter has often been misjudged because of his bravado, the result of his two-older half siblings enjoying a higher standard of living. Jessica Beck West and Chace Beck, the children of Cindy Rideout Beck Mitchell, do not list their younger half-brother among their Facebook friends. Others say Hunter's relationship with his biological mother was strained.

No matter Hunter's personal problems, they do not necessarily make him a rapist. If he is innocent as his friends claim, we hope his accuser, also 18, receives a full measure of punishment for bringing false charges. If Hunter Beck is a rapist, then he deserves the maximum punishment.

Other voices: Sources at the Florence Police Department speaking off the record state that Hunter Beck's accuser has changed her story several times.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Stevenson Worth 4K/Year More? Mitchell Worst Probate Judge Ever?

Phil Stevenson is the current Purchasing Agent for the city of Florence; as of last night he is also the new media czar, adding four thousand dollars to his annual salary. Are Stevenson's added duties worth 4K of the Florence taxpayers' dollars? As we understand it, Stevenson will speak with only media--that would include newspapers, television stations, and us humble bloggers. If an average Joe or Jane Citizen poses a question, it will still be routed through the appropriate department head. Well, perhaps Florence got a bargain--Stevenson at one time boasted his raise would be 10K/year.

As dramatic as the issue of media czar has been, perhaps the most startling revelation of last night's Florence City Council Meeting came from Sam Pendleton who pronounced Dewey Mitchell the worst Lauderdale Probate Judge in the history of Lauderdale County. Mitchell, who does not possess a juris doctorate has come under scrutiny for many of his past decisions, as well as his attempt to rid himself of his extra duties as Lauderdale Commission Chairman.

We want to hear our readers opinions on Dewey Mitchell. Have you had a personal experience with Judge Mitchell? How does he compare to former Judge Bill Hanbery, whom he replaced? Does Mitchell earn his salary? All opinions will be published anonymously and edited for language and libelous statements.

What's up with this: Sheffield Junior High teacher Amanda Watkins has officially been fired by the Sheffield School Board. She, like Jason Lyn Gasque, will continue to draw her salary until her legal problems are resolved. Just what will the Board do if Watkins should be found not guilty of rape and sodomy charges?


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Free Entertainment Tonight--Florence City Hall

Tonight's a toofer, folks--that's right, those lucky enough to claim seats at the semi-monthly Florence City Council meeting tonight should be greeted with mirth, catcalls, fireworks, and God only knows what else. We may make Cherokee look like Mitford.

A sizable delegation from Save Cypress Creek should be present again this week to make their (and our) feelings known concerning the city's proposed purchase of the 157 acre Florence Golf and County Club. If that isn't enough to bring you out, there's more...

The position of Florence Media Czar is also on the agenda. Tonight we'll learn if Phil Stevenson will be adding three, four, or ten thousand dollars to his annual salary. We should also learn if the mayor and various council members actually know how to count. What a night, it really is, what a night.

Reminder: For those who are able, please attend tonight's Florence Council meeting to support Save Cypress Creek. It's our town, it's our creek, it's our money, it should be our choice. Can I get a witness?


Stanley Elkins--Another Brick in the Wall has Fallen

Since Noah Stanley Elkins passed away last week in his 86th year of life, much has been written and spoken about him. Many of us here have commented on Stanley's professional behavior at all times--he came out of semi-retirment to personally help some of us when we unexpectedly lost a loved one. His work with the Alabama Eye Bank was invaluable.

There is one aspect of Stanley's life that has not been mentioned. As a three-time Lauderdale County Coroner, he always ran as a Democrat. In that era, it was almost a given that a Democrat would automatically be elected to any position for which he or she ran.

Interestingly enough, this can still hold true for many offices in Lauderdale, Colbert, and Franklin Counties; but it's changing. With the death of Stanley Elkins, another brick in the solid Democratic front of this area has fallen.

The end of an era is always sad. Our sincerest sympathies to Mr. Elkins' family.

More thanks: While on the subject of Mr. Elkins, we offer thanks to another who has served this area for many years. Carl Zills worked closely with Stanley Elkins and always gave selflessly of himself in others' time of need.


Monday, January 18, 2010

Bill Batson, Trevor Stokes, and Who's on Second?

Bill Batson is the Chairman of the Lauderdale County Republican Party; Trevor Stokes is a reporter for the Florence TimesDaily. Either one, or both, of these gentlemen is very confused.

Yesterday, we published John Odem's announcement of his candidacy for Lauderdale District Judge--an office currently held by appointed Republican Carole Coil Medley (pictured). Also publishing Odem's announcement was the TimeDaily. In an article written by Stokes, the TD announced the names of three current District Judges, all of whom are actually serving as Lauderdale Circuit Judges.

Perhaps the most startling aspect of Stokes' article was the quote by Bill Batson that no Republican has yet announced his or her intention of running for District Judge. In fact, Ms. Medley announced on August 13, 2009, that she would be seeking four more years of the district judgeship, a fact recorded in the TD by Stokes'
fellow journalist Bernie Delinski.

And Lauderdale County often wonders why it's ignored in Montgomery?

What's up with this: Sources familiar with the now infamous Cherokee Council scuffle (dubbed Thrilla in the Kee by one local wag) are stating the Lansdell's son, known as Char-Char, will definitely be involved when all charges are finalized.


Sunday, January 17, 2010

John Odem Announces for Lauderdale District Judge

Florence attorney John Odem has officially announced his candidacy for the position of Lauderdale County District Judge. Odem will run against James Hall II in the June Democratic primary.

John Odem, 30, is a Lauderdale County native and a graduate of the University of Alabama and Miles Law School. Odem has a private law practice in Florence specializing in Civil Litigation, Criminal Defense, Estate Planning, and Family Law. He is a partner in the firm Odem & Odem with his father, Dennis Odem.

The Lauderdale District Judge deals with Civil Litigation up to $10,000, evictions, traffic violations, misdemeanors committed in the county, as well as felony cases in their pre-indictment phase. While there are three Circuit Judge seats, only one District Judge is responsible for the entire county caseload at the District level, geographically reaching from Rogersville to Waterloo. Odem is running on a platform of Judicial Efficiency.

“We are on the brink of substantial State cutbacks and proration. Statewide, our court system faces serious and immediate financial challenges. The courts are responsible for efficiently utilizing the taxpayer’s money without costing citizens their constitutional right to a speedy and fair trial.” Odem says, “I have the experience and knowledge required to implement this and a plan to make these things happen now. I have an open door policy and welcome any questions or suggestions. My two primary interests are making the district court run efficiently and ensuring that everyone is treated fairly.”

Odem is a legal enthusiast and trial lawyer. He is also seasoned in the field of aviation, piloting both commercial helicopters and airplanes. An accredited musician, he performs with his family band The Cadillacs. John plays banjo, guitar, and bass. The band is known for playing local shows and benefits.

The Primary election will be held on June 1, 2010, and the General Election will be November 2, 2010.

Correction: While Cherokee Mayor Chuck Lansdell is Cherokee's Fire Chief (and a member of their EMS), he works for the fire department gratis, receiving only the official salary from the mayor's office. He is, still, his own boss it seems, not only in one, but two other city departments. While this may be common in small towns, it is not sound practice.


Friday, January 15, 2010

Florence-Lauderdale Tourism? Not Quite...

To no one's surprise, the battle over the re-appointment of Bill Hunt to the Florence-Lauderdale Tourism Board continues--now with new and improved accusations. Florence Councilman Sam Pendleton seeks to establish a Florence Tourism Board, abandoning the current city and county collaboration. Others propose Lauderdale join with Colbert and Franklin Counties to create an area-centered board.

In an attempt to gain insight into what such a collaboration among the counties would entail, why don't we look first at the current Florence-Lauderdale plan of action to snare those coveted visitors to the state's most northwest county. Ready? Here we go: Florence, AL USA.

Let's see, here we have references to Helen Keller, Ivy Green, Muscle Shoals Sound, the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, the Cherokee Coon Dog Cemetery--not to mention the cities of Muscle Shoals, Sheffield, and Tuscumbia themselves. These references are all located on the homepage; we haven't yet clicked any links to see what other "Florence-Lauderdale" attractions may await us there.

Do we object to advertising the entire Shoals area? Certainly not, but what is the point of having several boards and agencies that overlap? Mr. Pendleton, we believe you have the best interests of Florence at heart. If we're to have a Florence Tourism Board, let's make sure it promotes the city of Florence, Alabama. After one glance at the current Florence-Lauderdale page, we fear we may be only one short click away from North Carolina.

What's up with this: It seems there's some question concerning who may be paying for a private attorney to represent the family of Cherokee Mayor Chuck Lansdell in their claims against chronic critic Betty McKinney. Our question is why the case would even be heard in civil court--is this type of action (no matter who assaulted whom) not a misdemeanor to be handled by the town or county prosecutor?


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Battlin' Betty Belts Tyrannical Tina? Or Was It the Other Way Around?

Let us return now to that idyllic town of Cherokee. No, wait, that was Camelot. Cherokee is hardly idyllic; in fact, it's hardly a town, but more of a group of motley miscreants attempting to win their own reality show.

First, let us consider Mayor Chuck Lansdell, pictured at right. Look closely and you, dear readers, will note that Lansdell is a man in uniform. That's right--he's also the town's fire chief. How he governs himself is a question worthy of any ethics class final, not to mention those worrisome words--double dipping.

It seems that Lansdell's wife Tina suffers from Multiple Sclerosis, a debilitating disease, but also an ailment that often goes into remission. In other words, your best friend may suffer from this condition without your ever knowing about it. The gravity of Tina Lansdell's condition has been debated, but in recent years she has taken to riding up and down her narrow suburban street in a neighbor's golf cart--an illegal action similar to riding on a public street in a four-wheeler and dangerous to both her and her driver.

Enter Betty McKinney, a neighbor and critic of Mayor Lansdell. McKinney reported Mrs. Lansdell's illegal activities to the authorities and brought the small town of Cherokee more publicity of a type the rural community didn't need. Now, Tina Lansdell, who is apparently in a state of remission, has accused McKinney of attacking her after a town council meeting. McKinney has countered that Mrs. Lansdell called her a bitch, claiming her only action was to touch her detractor's arm while chastising her for such unladylike behavior in public. Both women agree that at some point the Lansdell's sixteen year-old son joined in the melee, attacking McKinney and receiving some injuries of his own. All three were treated and released at local hospitals.

Betty McKinney has retained Tuscumbia attorney Billy Underwood, who has called Tina Lansdell "potty mouthed." We agree that it is best for the mayor's wife to describe her enemies in the privacy of her own home, but using the b-word in public may not qualify in 2010 as potty-mouthed.

Chuck Lansdell has so far not commented. Regular readers will remember that Lansdell was partially responsible for the hiring of Paige McWilliams as the town's librarian. Mrs. McWilliams is currently under indictment for theft and forgery, and the town clerk has faced questions as to her supposedly blindly notarizing a document for McWilliams that has not as yet been identified, but was worthy of Lansdell and the town suing the former librarian for 40K.

Who needs the real housewives of Washington, D.C., when we can have the real shrews of Cherokee, Alabama?

For more on Cherokee and Mayor Lansdell: Link


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

"Our Goal...Was to Convict Everett Gamble of a Felony"

The above statement was made by Lauderdale County District Attorney Chris Connolly. Just why is Everett Carter Gamble such a danger to the general population that Connolly was determined to convict him of a felony?

Carter Gamble is a Florence native, a family man who resides with his wife Willa in Windsor Heights, a United States Postal worker, and until last March, a man who had never had a serious brush with the law. In fact, Gamble is related by marriage to a former Florence police chief--not the sort of chap one would expect the District Attorney's office to be hellbent on convicting of a felony.

However, last March 21st Gamble suffered a serious lapse in judgment. A 27 year-old male owed Gamble a sizable amount of money, and the 59 year-old Gamble had not been able to collect it. Arming himself with an unloaded handgun, Gamble visited the younger man at this home in Northwood Hills. There the debtor and his wife attacked Gamble with a baseball bat. Both men were injured, but Gamble required extended treatment in Huntsville.

Gamble was initially charged with attempted first degree robbery and third degree assault, but on the advice of his attorney, chose to take a best interest plea, admitting to the third degree assault charge, for which he will receive probation.

Obviously, Everett Carter Gamble, now 60, made a bad choice--a terrible choice. Did Gamble deserve to be convicted of a felony? What of the younger man and his wife? Why were no charges filed against them? What are the missing facts here? Did Gamble's relationship to a former police chief sway the county prosecutor's office?

Do we think Gamble acted in a totally unacceptable manner? Yes. Do we think he deserved to be convicted of a felony? No.

What's up with this: We hear the town of Cherokee is now sponsoring wrestling matches. Think any felony convictions will come out of this latest incident?


Sell Your Gold & Silver--Support CASA

Go through your jewelry boxes and pull out those mismatched earrings, kinked necklaces and bracelets, out of style gold or sterling silver jewelry you no longer wear, class rings, gold or silver coins, sterling flatware, etc. and GET PAID CASH for it on Thursday, February 11th! You get top dollar cash for your unwanted things, and you help support CASA at the same time!

You will get paid top dollar based upon the price of gold and silver on that day. Our buyer pays top dollar and has done fundraisers for several organizations, including the girls' volleyball team at Lauderdale County High School. This is a reputable dealer who gives back to the community.

Just bring your jewelry that you wish to sell in a Ziploc bag anytime between 5 pm and 8 pm on FEB. 11th to the Colbert County Board of Education building on Highway 72 in Tuscumbia. Your jewelry will be separated according to 10k, 14k, and 18k, and weighed in front of you. You will be offered cash on the spot for your unwanted jewelry!

PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD! The more, the merrier!! We will have refreshments for you to enjoy while you're there. Thank you for supporting CASA and our foster children in Colbert County!


Tina Miller Parker


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Calling Commissioner D. C. Thornton

Lauderdale County Commissioner D. C. Thornton has just announced that he has heard no opposition to the creation of the position of a part-time commission chairman--a job that pays $40,000.00 a year. We're not sure of the good commissioner's auditory acuity; we are sure that of the hand full of e-mails we have received, no one has been in favor of such a new position.

If any of our readers feel the 40K annual salary for a part-time position seems fair, please let us know. For those who feel otherwise, please contact:

D.C. Thornton - District 1
13100 Highway 72
Rogersville, AL 35652

Rhea Tays Fulmer - District 1
170 Fox Den Road
Killen, AL 35645

Larry Irons - District 2
699 Longshore Drive
Florence, AL 35634

Fay Parker - District 2
P.O. Box
Waterloo, AL 35677

Do We Need Two Deweys?


Monday, January 11, 2010

Why Do Walks of Fame...

Invariably turn into walks of shame? Perhaps shame is much too strong a word, but such projects often become magnets for controversy. Several years ago when the city of Athens proposed memorial and honorarium bricks as a revenue producing project for the state's veterans' museum, no one foresaw the heated controversy that eventually arose over the donation of bricks in the names of those who had not served in the military.

Conversely, Florence's Walk of Fame has garnered little bad press, perhaps due to the fact the project received little publicity before its completion. Now the town of Tuscumbia wishes to establish its own Walk of Fame, with Mayor Bill Shoemaker openly requesting nominations of those who have performed "meritorious" service to the small Colbert County town.

Names mentioned so far include Helen Keller, Hienie Manush, Howell Heflin, G. W. Trenholm, and various members of the Deshler family. Does one's nativity constitute meritorious service? If so, the city of Sheffield should be giving Lawrenceburg a tough time over its claim to Fred Thompson.

No mention has been made of honoring those still living, as does the Florence Walk of Fame. Obviously, philanthropist Harvey Robbins would head this list, but we wish to nominate a native Colbert Countian who now makes her home in Tuscumbia. Beverly Beaver, aka Beverly Barton, is known worldwide for her scores of best-selling romantic mysteries, yet she continues to reside in and contribute to the town of Tuscumbia. It won't be a true Walk of Fame without her.

Apologies: Yesterday's column on Tuscumbia author Jim Smith failed to mention his second book Miss Bernice. It's also available at Coldwater Books in Tuscumbia and at


Sunday, January 10, 2010

"Walk Through Town" with Jim Smith

We knew when we published yesterday that we would inadvertently omit a few long-time TimesDaily Forum posters who have recently been banned by the Shelton family, new owners of the Shoals' only daily newspaper. One of these was local author Jim Smith.

As Too Old to Care, Smith was a recent victim of TD Forum bannings and has not been able to find anyone at the TD to respond to his questions. If you're not familiar with Tuscumbia native Smith, he is the author of Walk Through Town.

Walk Through Town tells the story of a ten year-old paperboy in 1946 Tuscumbia. We've perused excerpts from Smith's account of life in post-war Tuscumbia, and it's truly a joy to read. You can purchase Walk Through Town at Coldwater Books in Tuscumbia or order a copy form Amazon Books for only $10.00--a small price to pay for such valuable memories.


Apologies also to long-time TimesDaily Forum member DixieChick who was also a victim in the last round of bannings--banishments apparently meted out to any who would question why the current owners have eliminated the Private Message and Quote functions from their forum, all standard in other eve based software.


Saturday, January 9, 2010

We're with the Banned...

Their number may not be legion, but those politically inclined posters banned by the TimesDaily forum increase daily. True, not all of those banned are guilty of having original political thoughts--some are just downright nasty in temperament, but many seem to have run afoul of the Decatur Daily's resident liberal Paul Crawford.

The Decatur Daily, you ask? Just what does a newspaper 45 miles from the Shoals have to do with the local forum. It seems since the Shelton family purchased the TimesDaily, the positions of moderators have been scuppered. Any moderation, real or imagined, seems to originate quite haphazardly from the Decatur offices, banning the good, bad, and mediocre with the same delete button.

Those who use the eve format on other forums would be hard pressed to find a resemblance to the TimesDaily of 2010, a forum that has morphed into retro simplicity. Gone are private messages, quotes, links, and photographs. Apparently here to stay are draconian banning of any and all who dare to initiate and post on topics that create the need for human moderation and administration.

So, today we salute those who have fallen, perhaps to rise again in a new incarnation...or then again, perhaps not.

The Banned:

Basement Cat
Big Red Afro
King Julien
Original Bama
Philly Phan
The Bald Guy
Wild Irish Prose

Stay tuned; we fear the obituary for the forum itself looms nearer each day.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Today We Present: "King of the Field"

I tell you what, if Texas can keep Alabama from scoring, I'll give away free propane tanks. - Hank Hill

I believe in good sportsmanship in theory--that's not in practice, of course. - Peggy Hill

If we win, can I eat the elephant? - Bobby Hill

Aunt Peggy, is this lipstick crimson? I wouldn't want to wear the wrong color today. - Louanne Platter

I just put an upside down elephant on the truck. Classy, huh? - Dale Gribble

Shug, I don't think you can wear that Texas Alumni shirt unless you actually graduated, or at least attended some classes. - Nancy Gribble

Yhe, ol Tyxus gwon ter upt yep sho naf. - Jeff Boomhower

Hank, do you think it'd be okay if I sat on the Alabama side since they have prettier girls? - Bill Dautrieve

Good Luck, Alabama!

Psychic Says Farron Barksdale Murdered

We here at Shoalanda are evenly divided on the subject of psychic power. Yet even those who do not believe in the ability of those who claim to see beyond the natural realm realize that those who have inside information often use such self-proclaimed psychics to pass on information that cannot safely be transmitted in other ways. Therefore, today we're presenting an edited communication that we received from an Athens area psychic:

I am a psychic. This was one of the hardest cases I have ever worked. Emotionally that is. To hear that someone is going to be murdered and not be able to stop it is very overwhelming. I don't know who you are and this is nothing more than I gave Buck and Jake (attorneys in the case). Also, my promise to Farron "I"ll be there."

Why the state did kill him: The ********** family used insurance money to have Farron killed. I also knew ********** was involved when I shook his hand. I was lost in Capshaw, found a tree cutting business and was asking for directions. They asked me where I lived, and I told them I was staying with the Barksdales. One of the employees told me he was friends with the ********** family and they paid to have Farron killed. Yes, I was lost and found this person.

The call about Farron came at 1:28 am. When the phone was answered no one was there. The caller came up unavailable. I told my companion, I hope that wasn't a spirit call. I explained to him sometimes spirits will ring my phone. The phone started ringing again at 5:30pm on Sunday. Farron was on every news channel, family was calling, and so were the doctors from Baptist Memorial South. We packed and left.

When we got there someone in clergy took us to find Farron. When I saw him I prayed for him and I began to ask him what happened. Although he was in a coma I could hear him in my head. He told me about the guards, he told me they over medicated him, he told me how they beat him. ALABAMA NEEDS TO REVISE THEIR CODES AND STATUTES!!!

He gave me descriptions of the guards, and what they used on him, things they were saying to him while they were cutting off his air supply. The only thing I couldn't figure out was why they kept having to suction blood. My former brother in law is **********, a real medicine man on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Without knowing anything about Farron, he told us where the blood had been coming from and why.

This knowledge was not known before autopsy. Farron gave me the initials of ***. I left the hospital the first day down there and went to CVS drugs and Kinko's. I was right, even before the doctors told the family, I knew other details about this case and the faces of the men who killed him. I think why I didn't know where the blood was coming from is because Farron was already unconscious. And **** is a known medicine man, more gifted than I am.

This was a plotted murder of a mental patient which every state system to protect him and others failed them all. Even though I was not family or legal council the doctors let me in at times disregarding the state guards. Farron had the best legal representation possible--Jake and Buck. Jake promised to do something, and I'm sure he will.

I just wanted someone to know this because of your article. I am a former legislative assistant, I actually cared about constituents. Farron needed help.

The above tale is presented in the "for what it's worth department." We have intentionally not identified the author, but we greatly appreciate her sending it to us. No matter the source of the above account, no matter what mental illness caused Farron Barksdale to do, if any of the above statements are true, remember this could be your relative next. Mental illness is just that--an illness. Until we address those who are no longer able to function in our society, we will continue to have the loss of innocent life, continue to have murders and hatred. Let's lobby our legislators for improved mental health care in the State of Alabama.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Those We Lost in 2009 - Part II

Family and friends:

Doyce Truitt

Doyce Truitt lived into his tenth decade. In his lifetime he saw major wars and a depression. All who knew him loved and admired him and his spirit. Even though his body was diminished, his spirit lives on in his family, cousins, and friends.


Lucille Crunk Calvert

Mrs. Calvert was a graduate of Central High School and Larimore Business College. An avid reader, she also enjoyed writing, movies, crossword puzzles and socializing with friends. A romantic at heart, she was known for her quick wit and love of life and learning. For several years, she acted as classroom "grandparent" in the Foster Grandparent Program at Weeden School, Brandon School, and Hibbett School, where students cherished her patience and warmth.

All of us at Shoalanda

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Those We Lost in 2009 - Part I

We lost two wonderful individuals from Lexington:

W. O. Killen

W.O. Killen was a great and wonderful husband, father, grandfather (papaw), father-in-law, uncle, brother, son, and friend. His love for his family and his church (Mary's Chapel Church of the Nazarene, Lexington, Alabama) was obvious in everything he did in life. As a business owner/operator (Valley Crane Service in Decatur, Alabama, and then in Muscle Shoals, Alabama), he worked many hours a week to provide for his family.

One of the greatest joys in his life was being the mayor of Lexington, Alabama, a job enjoyed from 1984 until 1996. The accomplishments he achieved while in office were plenty. Some of these accomplishments went unnoticed until he was out of office. The town of Lexington was lucky to have a man like W.O. Killen as their leader for 12 years.

We miss you Daddy!

Sandra Killen-Burroughs


Mike Nix

I met Mike Nix three times--each time when he came by to see me at work. Each time he asked me to church with him at the Lexington Church of Christ, and each time I refused due to other commitments. I didn't know who he was the first time I met him, but I realized later that I knew his wonderful mother--who had obviously sent him. The last time he visited, he said that if I ever needed anything, I could count on him; and I'm sure that I could have. I regret that I did not have the chance to know him better.

Mike was voted Music Educator of the Year for Alabama in 2009, an honor he received shortly before he lost his battle to cancer. Lauderdale County schools were much the better for having Mike Nix as Director of Music Education for 32 years. My sincerest sympathies to his family.

Nurse Nan

Monday, January 4, 2010

Who Knows the Population of Florence?

Today's TimesDaily featured Mayor Bobby Irons' answer to critics of his new Media Czar. In his statement, prominently featured in the Opinion Section, Irons mentioned the not-so-burgeoning population of Florence as approaching 38,000. Is it?

Also released today were several predictions by Federal Census mavens:

Alabama's population will be undercounted in the 2010 census, says Annette Jones Watters, manager of the Alabama State Data Center at The University of Alabama. "So what, you ask?" Watters says. "It means millions of lost dollars in federal domestic assistance for our state over the coming decade." And if past experience means anything, some of the most unresponsive will be people who don't own their own homes, college students, people of minority races, high school dropouts, people living in poverty, and people whose first language is not English, Watters predicts. And those are often the people who need the federal assistance most.

According to University of North Alabama officials, their foreign student enrollment is now at approximately 10%, or 780. Most of these students obviously do not consider the United States their home and will be wary of including themselves in census data. Adding the other groups mentioned by U.S. Census officials, there would seem to be a great possibility of a substantial under count, not just in Florence, but in all Shoals cities.

In 2000, the town of Russellville admitted its census numbers fell far short. The population of Florence at that time was 36,364--a mere .9% growth from the 1990 census. Has the city of Florence fared that much better under the Irons' administration?

FYI to the TimesDaily Editorial Board: The "naughties" have not yet officially ended; the next decade will not commence until January 1, 2011. Then again, as regular critic John Crowder would second, the TD does aspire for the lowest common denominator in its reading audience.


Saturday, January 2, 2010

Jeff Redcross--A Friend to UNA

On Monday, Florence Police Chief Rick Singleton officially discharged Sgt. Jeff Redcross for policy violations. Redcross has retained Florence attorney Tim Case to represent him in an appeal; Case is also currently representing Tuscumbia Police Chief Tony Logan, a former Deputy Chief to Singleton.

Whatever the outcome of Redcross' current problems, he has always been a staunch supporter of University of North Alabama football. A 1990 graduate of Sparkman High, Redcross played four seasons as a defensive end for Coach Bobby Wallace and was voted the Most Valuable Defensive Player of 1993. He is currently a sidelines/color commentator for Lions' football. Redcross is also a former member of the Marine Reserves, having served in Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield, and completed his degree in Criminal Justice at UNA in 2001.

Thanks, Jeff, for your continued support of UNA.


This week we will be paying tribute to family and friends that we and our readers lost in 2009. If you have anyone you would like remembered, please forward the information as soon as possible.


Friday, January 1, 2010

A New Year's Prayer

A reader sent us this New Year's Prayer. We've been unable to ascertain the author of the poem and for this we apologize. Our only suggestion to improve the prayer is to add a petition for our local and national elected officials that they lead us well in 2010.


A New Year Prayer

Holy Father,

God of our yesterdays, our today, and our tomorrows.

We praise You for Your unequaled greatness.

Thank You for the year behind us and for the year ahead.

Help us in Your new year, Father, to fret less and laugh more.

To teach our children to laugh by laughing with them.

To teach others to love by loving them.

Knowing, when Love came to the stable in Bethlehem, He came for us.

So that Love could be with us, and we could know You.

That we could share Love with others.

Help us, Father, to hear Your love song in every sunrise,

in the chriping of sparrows in our backyards,

in the stories of our old folks, and the fantasies of our children.

Help us to stop and listen to Your love songs,

so that we may know You better and better.

We rejoice in the world You loved into being.

Thank You for another new year and for new chances every day.

We pray for peace, for light, and for hope, that we might spread them to others.

Forgive us for falling short this past year.

We leave the irreparable past in your hands, and step out into the unknown new year knowing You will go with us.

We accept Your gift of a new year and we rejoice in what's ahead, depending on You to help us do exactly what You want..

I say it again, we rejoice!

In Jesus name,



Happy New Year!

Free Cab Service?

Several readers asked us if local cab companies still provide free rides on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day to those who state they're too inebriated to drive. We haven't found any reports that local taxi services will be doing this for the New Year's weekend, but we hope those who choose to drink, don't choose to drive as well.


The ShoalsInsider's new poll let's readers decide the fate of accused Shoals rapist/teacher Amanda Watkins. Prison or no? Interestingly, a 38 year-old Idaho teacher has been convicted of having sex with her 13 year-old male student. The punishment: Twenty Years.

Thanks: To all our readers for making it a wonderful 2009!