It seems that no matter how ignorant of the Bible people are, there is one verse that everyone knows. No, it’s not John 3:16. Some people still don’t know that one; however, everyone seems to know Matthew 7:1, wherein Jesus says, “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (KJV). In fact, the less of the Bible people know, the more they’re prone to know and repeat this verse. If we had a nickel for every time someone accused us of “intolerantly” violating this verse, we could pay our server costs and possibly quit our day jobs. - Kim Olsen
You can avert your eyes, but not your ears. The man in the next booth at your favorite restaurant is asking why schools teach Spanish, but not English. The woman behind you in the checkout line is relating how her brother lost his 50K a year job to an illegal immigrant. You manage to suppress your desire to laugh at these individuals, but not the need to question their sanity. After all, only those with serious mental impairment would be that xenophobic...
Yet, perhaps a little wariness comes genetically built in. Why else would we be surprised that the December graduation speaker at the University of North Alabama holds dual American and Iranian citizenship? Haleh Esfandiari is an impressive woman. If you doubt it, read her biography on Wiki.
Still, we're surprised there's actually a market in the US for Persian studies unless those students plan a career in the CIA...or perhaps a cloistered life living in their parents' garage apartment. Ms. Esfandiari is also a champion of women's rights, at least in the Middle East. We're not sure what that would entail in countries where women are not allowed to even drive, much less vote. Nevertheless, this sounds positive, and we're pretty sure Bill Gates isn't available to speak on December 17th.
Let's continue reading her bio. In 2007, Esfandiari was detained while visiting Iran and forced to remain in that country for over three months before being released. And her release? Apparently the fact that she's a noted apologist for Iran's heritage and culture was the deciding factor in restoring her freedom.
And the main factor for UNA choosing Ms. Esfandiari? According to Vice President of Student Affairs David Shields: “She provides a profile of courage and leadership and inspires graduates to be champions with a great responsibility to help the world.” Indeed some graduates will see the world. Some will see a battlefield in Afghanistan. Others will remain in Alabama, perhaps even choose to stay in the Shoals with its second to last wages and standard of living. We feel pretty certain that in ten years most won't remember Esfandiari's speech at all, but just to be on the safe side, next year could we bring in Hank Hill?
Apparently most of us are, at least if we purchase new merchandise online. Ideally, anyone making an online purchase makes note of the amount and when filing their state tax return the next year adds a 4% use tax to their annual tax bill.
So, are we as a state actually doing this? According to the State Department of Revenue, 1.8 million individuals filed returns for 2009, but only 6,800 paid this online use tax.
This brings us back to what we can do to improve the economy in the Shoals area. The State of Alabama is upset at losing its 4% sales tax, but makes no mention of the taxes lost by county and municipal governments. Of the 1.8 taxpayers, not one paid these local taxes. How do state, county, and municipal governments recoup this lost revenue? The answer is there's probably no way to do so unless the online retail businesses charge these taxes--we're not holding our breath.
Judging by readers' questions concerning ethics complaints filed in the state, most of us are equally in the dark concerning this area of government. Today, The Connection published Part I of its series on ethics, violations, and specifically charges currently being pursued by Rhea Tays Michael Fulmer against Lauderdale EMA Director George Grabryan. You can read this informative article here:
Have you ever heard the recipe for mouthwatering gypsy chicken soup? Well...first you steal a chicken. No, we're not suggesting anyone steal anything. We are suggesting the Shoals area has to start somewhere in its quest for better jobs and a higher standard of living.
About three months ago, the TimesDaily published the results of a study showing the Shoals has the second lowest wages/standard of living in the state. This is nothing to be proud of. We realize that the lowest, second lowest, etc., will always belong to some area, but with the natural resources found in the Shoals, it should not belong to northwest Alabama.
After the study was published, there were numerous posts on the TD's forum concerning the problem. For every solution offered, at least one individual produced a rebuttal as to why it wouldn't work. Almost all the posters had valid points, proving that it's not just one thing holding the Shoals back.
We agree that the Shoals will never be the industrial power it once was. We also agree that simply a road, or roads, will not miraculously transform our community into a Detroit or Akron; however, we do think it's a place to start.
If funding were to be secured at this very moment, it would still be 10, 15, or even 20 years before such a connecting link was finished. The important thing is that it would be finished, it would bring some new industry...and that new industry would in turn bring other new industry.
In a little over a month, this state will have new representatives in both Washington and Montgomery. You don't have to be a paid lobbyist to lobby for something. We urge everyone who wants a better future for this area, for this area's next generation, to immediately begin lobbying for a connecting link to I-65.
If we can be as passionate about our area's economic future as we are about football, we'll be well on our way to that bright future everyone talks about, but no one does anything about.
Roads, roads, everywhere a road...well not quite. The State of Alabama is also still working on finishing the southern leg of Highway 133, aka Wilson Dam Road, in Colbert County. What's holding it up?
While we understand most property owners have now agreed to sell the required rights-of-way, there are still a few hold outs. These property owners do not live on these parcels of land, but purchased them for investment purposes; and there's certainly nothing wrong with wishing to make a profit on land sales. There is something wrong with beating the proverbial dead equine.
We recently talked with a gentleman who has several businesses, one of them "playing the stock market." He stated that anyone who deals in stocks on a regular basis and says they've never lost their shirt is telling a lie. We're sure these Colbert County property owners hoped to make a mint off these contested parcels; we're also sure they've made a nice profit off other land deals over the years--you win some, you lose some. These land owners now need to suck it up and sign on the dotted line. We doubt any of them are losing their shirt in this deal; they just aren't making a killing from this particular investment and now they're refusing to play nice.
When eminent domain condemns a homeplace, we feel for those affected. When it condemns land belonging to speculators who don't care about this area, we say more power to it.
If there should be any of this state's population who didn't have a favorite in yesterday's game, we would guess them to be under the age of three. That means at least half the adult population of Alabama is crying in its turkey today. If we injected an "it's only a game" at this point, we're sure many readers would slam down the cover of their laptops or engage in a violent mouse toss if sitting in front of a desk top.
There's nothing wrong with caring so ardently about one's favorite team. There is something wrong if we care more about football than we do the world in which we live and in which our children will live. It's getting closer to 2011 with every tick of the clock, and by all reports Alabama has lost ground in almost every area this year.
Is there nothing we can do to improve our lot here in the state time forgot? Obviously we don't feel this way or we wouldn't be writing a political blog every day. Tomorrow we'll hone in on a major problem facing the Shoals, and...you know what...it's not one that's insurmountable.
Tomorrow: The road that time and Mike Curtis forgot.
We haven't seen TimesDaily cub reporter Trevor Stokes around in some time. A quick check of the TD archives shows that he hasn't had a byline in a little over two months. Stokes' last article, dated September 19th, came just three short weeks after he reported the current problems at the Barton rail car plant. Of course, we will not be so brazen as to suggest there may be a correlation there; we'll let our readers decide for themselves. After all, the TotallyDecatur wouldn't want to keep its Shoals readers in the dark concerning the state of the economy in our fair corner of the state, now would it?
We regularly receive e-mails from those who claim to be psychic and have even published one or two. Some we receive are cryptic in nature, whether intentionally so or not. We have this week received information from a psychic concerning a local ghost, a ghost that's apparently not resting easy since the demise of his mortal shell a few years ago. Ordinarily we wouldn't publish this particular communication, but since it concerns our favorite haunt Sweetwater, we're eager to hear from any readers who can elucidate us on the subject.
You make fun of Sweetwater, but there's at least one ghost there, I know for certain. He called himself a vampire, the Dead Angel. His girlfriend was a dead countess, also a vampire. The Dead Angel carried a knife and threatened others, but some still loved him. One of those killed him. The Dead Angel doesn't think his murder has been avenged as yet. His killer is now free to roam the grounds at Sweetwater, firing his guns at random and pretending to be someone from the past. If you really want to see a ghost try calling up the Dead Angel.
We've also heard from two readers who purport to have inside info on the payroll situation at the Colbert County 911 office; however, their report of corruption was vague and not nearly as entertaining as that concerning the Dead Angel.
Currently, Crystal Huddleston and a friend have opened Two Peas in a Pod, a monogramming business in Cherokee, and, if there is a real case against the former office manager, it has not yet gone to the grand jury. We understand The Connection will be having more reports on this and related problems in the very near future.
The above illustration came from a website describing the early days of television in the United States. The text announced that in 1949 television was so rare families who had the wonderful device included it in every aspect of their daily, or even holiday, lives. Now it's 2010, and we suspect that here in Alabama not much has changed in the past 61 years.
Let us all give thanks for our families and friends this Thanksgiving Day--even the ones who support (fill in the blank with Alabama or Auburn). We here at Shoalanda are thankful for all our readers and hope each and every one of you has a great day.
Late yesterday we perused our e-mail and, judging from the amount of communications concerning Rhea Tays Michael Fulmer, we felt another blog devoted to that champion of roaming delinquent traffic cones would most likely be a given; but surely those readers in Colbert and Franklin Counties were now bored by our local practitioner of the absurd. So, as a good friend and correspondent would say, "What will you write about today?"
Have no fear, a reader from Colbert County has saved this Thanksgiving Eve. We shall wax poetic on the subject of Viagra.
"But, Shoalanda," you say, "are you sure this is a proper subject for a political blog?" Hmmm, good point, but it is the mayor's Viagra. We received the following communication from a reader in Cherokee:
Wants you or someone to figure out why this public official and/or so called PREACHER would post anything like this on FB or any kind or social networking site,
Chuck LansdellI am thankful this year that my Viagra only lasted 3 hours and 59 minutes so i didn't have to go to the hospital.
about an hour ago This is the most ridiculous, disgusting thing I have ever read from a GROWN man. I think this just goes to show everyone how classy this man is. This is what he posted on his FACEBOOK site, quote or no quote from Jay Leno, This just shows he is starving for attention and is going to do or say anything to get it. I think that you should do a story on this to show everyone how disrespectful and PATHETIC this man really is!!!!!! Perhaps the question is, after Thelma's Thong, does the Preacher's Potency seem that lurid? Let's ask some thought provoking questions here:
1. Would Florence Mayor Bobby Irons discuss erectile dysfunction on Facebook? 2. Would Mrs. Sanford appreciate Ian broaching the subject of their sex life? 3. When was the last time you heard your preacher tell a Viagra joke, on the Internet no less? 4. Would anyone blame Chad Coker for lying about once being Cherokee's Municipal Judge? 5. Does anyone now think Cherokee is anything less than a joke? 6. Did Chuck bet he could get his name in today's blog? 7. Did Rhea pay Chuck to take the heat off her? 8. Does anyone have a photo of Chuck in a thong they could send us? 9. Is the bird in your kitchen a bigger turkey than Chuck?
Check back tomorrow for updates on any recall or divorce actions...
Thirty-five individuals initially applied to become the next director of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame; the special selection committee narrowed the choices down to ten. From that ten, the Hall of Fame Board chose two to interview--in executive session for approximately 90 minutes each.
A public board may call "executive session" if a person's good name is in question--too bad Rhea Tays Michael Fulmer never heard of that; however, we have to agree with the TimesDaily on this one. If the two candidates had so much "iffy" behavior in their pasts, why were they even considered in the first place? Of course, it could be that with the Board's background of terminating employees via e-mail, there were no actual top rate candidates who applied.
Now the candidate chosen by the board has refused the job offer, and the search continues. As of last week the Music Hall of Fame has been without a director for seven months. We can hope the HOF will have a new director by the one-year anniversary of David Johnson's infamous e-mail firing.
Been wondering how to impeach a county commissioner? Well, here's the skinny:
Alabama Code 36-11-1 through 36-11-25 outlines impeachment for many elected officials. Section 36-11-19 mentions county commissioners and provides five grounds: willful neglect of duty, corruption in office, incompetency, intemperate use of intoxicating liquors or narcotics, or offense(s) involving moral turpitude in office.
Typically, a district attorney requests that a grand jury investigate alleged misconduct or incompetence for impeachable offenses. If the findings indicate cause, the DA prepares a statement of the facts and a complaint requesting for process and relief to the appropriate trial court of jurisdiction.
An impeachment process requires citizens to meet to determine the evidence or issues regarding incompetence or other charges, and then present their evidence directly to legal counsel or the DA.
After charges are filed with the court, the judge sets a jury trial. During the trial, witnesses for both sides would testify to facts they know that show the accused is or is not guilty of the charges made.
From Doc's Political Parlor concerning Roger Bedford's loss of power and its effect on Russellville (Jumbotron) High School:
The Russelville Tigers have been a football power long before Roger Bedford knew what the four letter words on the Russelville High School boys’ bathroom wall meant.
The Tiger football players will reware (sic) their socks now and ride to the game in the same school bus more than once, that’s all.
Having heard so many stories about ECM I was very reluctant to go to Shoals Hospital for a diagnostic test. Surprise, surprise not only were they on time but totally professional and respectful. I did get the opportunity to inquire about the takeover. Most comments were positive but there seemed to be an underlying thought that most danced around.
As fate would have it, a relative became extremely ill and most of our families have been at ECM for the last ten days. Once again, the staff has been extremely professional and helpful with the exception of some on the night shift.
Now we will talk about the food or lack thereof. In my sixty plus years on this earth, I have seen some ghastly food but it cannot match the rubbish ECM tries to call nourishment. I really have tried to find a word to use to describe it but there does not appear to be any word in any language besides garbage. There is a definite possibility that dumpster diving downtown would be more preferable than that the refuse they serve there. Now to make matters worse they even close the cafeteria and grill at ridiculous times especially on the weekends when visiting is the highest so people will be required to drive into town to get some editable food to feed the patients and of course spend more money for the parking garage.
The Really Bad
Once again, there appears to be an absolute absence of intelligence in the food service department. The billing department is the same. Each day they would bring a bill up to the room and present it to my relative even though he was not coherent. Fully expecting him to come out of the stupor and write them a daily check. The clerk would walk into the room and lay the envelope on the tray. Then she would retreat close to the open door as if ready to make a rapid departure. She stood there dutifully and waited for the patient to read the bill. It reminded me of an old silent movie. She would stand there and the patient who could not open the envelope just gazed at the paper and once again went back to sleep. The only thing I did wrong was not having my camera so I could document the bizarre scene. It would have gone viral on YouTube.
Other than the business office and refuse (food) department everyone with a couple of exceptions were great. The comments I did hear from the staff had to do with the loss of medical benefits. Their comment was “Don’t get sick and go somewhere else besides ECM because that only leads to Bankruptcy”. No one ever did mention how much they cut but it was a large amount. They all thanked the County and City leaders for dumping them on a company that only has an eye for the bottom line and no compassion for its workers. Could it be they trained in the Obama White House?
I wonder what the business office will do to those folks that cannot write daily checks? Maybe they will hold them in pawn until someone can come and bail them out or perhaps they will have to take out a mortgage on their children or grandchildren so the business office can get their daily money.
One other idea would be to get the city council and mayor from Cherokee to run the hospital. Mayor Lansdell's first job would be the erection of a debtor’s prison and pillory. At least Melinda Malone would be safe for a while.
An article in today's TimesDaily states there are currently 29 registered sex offenders in the Colbert County town of Sheffield. The Alabama Department of Public Safety lists only 27. Of the 27 listed, one is James Roy Sibley, currently incarcerated in the Florence-Lauderdale Detention Center.
We're sure due to processing lags and other factors, such numbers never match; however, we do believe the citizens of Sheffield have a right to know just who their neighbors are. Perhaps the next issue of Hard Times will showcase the two offenders whose names have not yet reached the state's website.
Look for links to Alabama Inmate Search (state inmates) and VINElink (county inmates) in The Connection.
What's up with this: Flat bottom boats don't float? Who knew?
We know very little of Mr. Sam Blackman. He sits on the Lauderdale 911 Board; he was appointed to that position by the County Commission; and he trains emergency personnel/first responders in safe driving techniques. Whether Mr. Blackman is paid for his services or how much he might be paid, we don't know.
We also know that Lauderdale EMA Director George Grabryan lent Mr. Blackman approximately 50 traffic cones to use in these driving classes. No money changed hands; no personal favors were offered or taken. Assisting and organizing such training is in the job description of the EMA director. Mr. Grabryan apparently felt this was a good use of county property even if other counties also benefitted. We do also.
Now, if Mr. Grabryan is, as an official appointed by the Lauderdale County Commission, guilty of an ethics violation, why is Sam Blackman not guilty of the same offense? Why did Rhea Tays Michael Fulmer not file an ethics complaint against Sam Blackman? Fulmer has stated she was obligated by her elected position to file the complaint against George Graybryan. Why was she not obligated to file a similar complaint against 911 Board member Sam Blackman?
Again, Ms. Fulmer, we ask you to respond: Why were you not obligated to file an ethics complaint against Sam Blackman if you were obligated to file one against George Grabryan?
Sources! Last week we reported information from a very reliable source that 3G would be in the Shoals by this week. We will admit that, even given the source's credibility, we were dubious. Now, 3G has arrived just as our source informed us it would.
Do reports from our sources usually turn out to be factual? Yes, they do; however, many reports involve the good name of Shoals individuals. Therefore, even if we believe the reports to be true, we do not immediately use the information forwarded to us.
We do appreciate the information. Rest assured we don't delete these e-mails, but retain them for a time when more information is available from authorities or others who are in a position to make an official announcement.
The Lauderdale County Commission will meet tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. in Room 301 of the courthouse. Those who are unhappy with the way our commission is currently being used by a certain commissioner to promote her personal agenda are asked to be there. It's your commission; make your voices heard.
No, we don't actually have one for sale, but we wanted to get the name copyrighted before anyone else. So...someone will have one on the market soon? We would certainly expect someone would--that is if someone...anyone...actually had such a process to market.
How much would something like that be worth? Let's try a few billion dollars. Well...that's a lot of money. If someone has such a process, wouldn't he/she patent it and immediately market it? One would certainly think so. Okay, but what if he/she didn't know how to get a patent or how to set up a marketing company? Good question--after all it's not like there would be any companies like Nikon, Kodak, Xerox, Polaroid, etc., interested in a photographic process that would change the world as we know it.
Seriously, gentle reader, we don't care if you believe in ghosts or not, but if you think there's actually a man in Tuscumbia who can "desaturate" digital images in order to produce photos of those mischievous little ghosts who rifle through your sock drawer while you're trying to sleep, may we suggest you contact him immediately. After all, you wouldn't want to miss out on such a ground floor opportunity.
Now, let's return to Robert E. Simone of G.H.O.S.T. Mr. Simone has recently added some disclaimers to his Sweetwater Mansion page. Mr. Simone states in the second paragraph:
Any and all monies collected shall go to the Sweetwater Restoration Fund exclusively... This may be totally true of Sweetwater, where CNN videoed one night of the investigations; however, in the last paragraph, Simone states:
The GHOST organization founders and staff members receive no monies for their help organizing the investigations at Sweetwater or anywhere else, we are volunteers. However, what about the Saunders Mansion in Lawrence County; is the Mauldin family not financially able to maintain that majestic home? What about other edifices which Simone and his crew investigate--investigations that according to the site are now available for bookings?
Here's a rundown on the costs...
So...if three individuals scrape up $120.00, they can spend three hours in a haunted building. Or if one can't make it, the other two will have the same three hour tour for only $100.00--plus the opportunity to purchase books and tee-shirts for the requisite commemorative souvenir. Nice work if you can get it.
Tony Randall Woods and his wife Tammie argued on the night of July 13th; as she drove away, he shot into her vehicle. Tammie Woods managed to drive one mile from the home the two had once shared before she collapsed and later died. Tony Woods has now been charged and arraigned with Capital Murder--if convicted he will either forfeit his life or spend the remainder of it in an Alabama maximum security prison.
Woods claims that although he did shoot intentionally, fatally wounding his wife was not his intention. Sorry, Mr. Woods, you have now met the law in Alabama: fire into an occupied vehicle, killing any occupant, and you are guilty of Capital Murder, no matter your intentions.
Mr. Woods may arrange a plea deal, or he may be tried and found not guilty for whatever rationale the jurors find that suits their collective conscience. That would still not make Tony Randall Woods any less guilty of Capital Murder by the letter of the law. If you don't like the law, legislate to change it. Alabama certainly maintains a laundry list of Capital Murder offenses. That in itself does not make Woods any less guilty.
Tony Randall Woods is a murderer, an abuser, and a coward. Let's all pray for justice for Tammie Woods.
How do you embezzle 40K and your family not know it? We've received that question concerning the Colbert 911 office manager recently terminated for the alleged payroll theft of over 41K. While such a sum considered as a whole may seem large, one needs to remember that this was taken over a period of time and done via legal payroll.
We may assume that only 30K or so actually reached the office manager, and this could have well been over a time frame of five years or more. Would anyone notice their friend or neighbor had an extra 6K a year in income? Probably not. Would her husband or other family notice? The office manager has stated her husband had a very good job; even so, driving each day from a remote community, raising two young sons, paying utilities in super cold or super hot weather, plus helping parents whom she admitted had financial problems would soon add up. No, we don't think it odd at all that her husband, family, and friends suspected nothing.
Do we think this office manager should be prosecuted, or simply allowed to repay any missing money? Our personal choice would be the latter, but unfortunately many insurance companies demand criminal prosecution of such money crimes. How many people fall into such traps, not thinking of the consequences? More than most of us realize.
The Alabama Department of Education has notified us that the teaching license revocation hearing of Brian Keith McGuire will be held December 14-15, 2010, in a location yet to be named. A reader recently sent us a thought provoking question:
Do you think it's funny McGuire was found not guilty of rape last year, but wound up in prison anyway? (McGuire is reportedly now working as a prison guard.) Yes, the irony was not lost on us. At the end of the day, McGuire does go home to a wide screen television, Internet, a comfortable bed, decent food, or whatever amenities he may have; yet he spends the majority of most waking days with those who are not the most scintillating of companions. O. Henry could not have written it better.
So...does Rogersville remain dry or go wet? Just when you thought it was all over, not one, but two votes may make the difference. The two votes in question were apparently cast by those not living inside the Rogersville town limits. Hmmm, now how does this work? Can anyone identify the two ballots in some manner? It's not supposed to work that way. Will those who voted illegally answer truthfully how they voted? Perhaps they will, but how would that hold up in court? Will there be a new election? That seems the most logical premise.
This scenario doesn't mention the supposedly lost vote referenced by the ShoalsInsider. We've heard no more about that since election night. We can see the new campaign now...perhaps one side will even bring in John Travolta and Tom Cruise.
If you live in Cherokee and care about that city, you need to be aware of a new Facebook site. Public Meetings of Cherokee, Alabama has just launched; it will offer times, dates, and locations for all Cherokee public meetings, as well as video of the proceedings. Be sure to visit this site and become a fan:
Whether you live in Florence or not, we encourage you to share your memories of this beautiful river city on a new Facebook page. Our friend Larry Fisher launched his homage to this wonderful town only two days ago, and the site already has well over 600 members. Let's see if we can get it to 1K by the end of the week.
While on Facebook, be sure to become a fan of Mr. Fisher himself. Larry is not only a strong supporter of his former hometown, he doesn't shirk when it comes to speaking up for the truth. We hope all those who become members of the Remembering Florence community will also become fans of Larry.
Not only does Lauderdale County now have an elected Republican judge, this northwest Alabama bastion of the Democratic party now has its first elected Republican county school board member:
Daniel Patterson, the first Republican elected to the Lauderdale County Board of Education, will be sworn in this Tuesday, November 16th at 8:30 a.m. in Judge Carole Medley's courtroom on the 4th floor of the Lauderdale County Courthouse. The event is open to the public.
Speaking of Democrats, Lauderdale District 1 Commissioner D. C. Thornton barely won reelection to the county commission. Whether this was due to the mistaken premise that actual campaigning wasn't needed to return him to office or if his near-defeat was the result of unrest among the electorate, we won't attempt to speculate here. Still, it does not bode well for Rhea Tays Fulmer in 2012. Her recent antics have brought her more criticism than praise.
Now some Reader Q & A:
Q: Doesn't Shoals Hospital also do cardiac caths? Why is this different that Keller doing it? A: Our source tells us that Shoals does not do catheterization procedures; they do angiograms which are supposedly less invasive. The source further stated that things do go wrong with these procedures at times and the patient is immediately transferred to ECM. Whether this would be a good point for Keller to argue, we don't know, but it is an interesting comparison.
Q: How many applied for Lauderdale EMA director when George Grabryan was appointed? A. Thirty individuals applied for this position. Among others, Mr. Grabryan beat out Colbert County Coroner Carlton Utley and Anderson Police Chief Mark Bowers.
Q: Who hired George Grabryan? A: The Lauderdale County Commission hired Mr. Grabryan as EMA Director. The 911 Board hired him as its director; the commission appoints the 911 Board.
According to a social networking site, Crystal Sutton Huddleston was not only the office manager for Colbert County's 911 office, but currently serves as treasurer of the Cherokee Rescue Squad. According to her online bio, her hours at the 911 office were not strenuous; however, the Cherokee High School and Shoals Community College grad has been accused of writing herself unauthorized checks for overtime and sick pay. First Cherokee librarian Paige McWilliams (currently in work release) and now Crystal Huddleston--at this rate Mayor Chuck Lansdell won't have any employees left.
As the war between RegionalCare (ECM/Shoals) and Helen Keller Hospital heats up, employee concerns have so far been overlooked in the press. Besides numerous reports of disgruntlement concerning RegionalCare employee insurance, we've received an interesting communication concerning the disposition of ECM retirement funds. From a reader:
Commissioner Fulmer should be concerned about the status of the Coffee Health Group pension for its former employees. They have not received a statement since Jan 2009 for 2008. Former employees cannot find out from Aetna or from HR of Regional Care (which did not take over the fund) where our money is and what has happened. Those in the know retired or resigned before May 31 and were able to roll their full amount into an annuity fund. Those retiring after only can get monthly payments at age 62 with 25 yrs service or at age 65. Employees were notified of the changes on June 23 effective June 1. Employees are being told the money is there. When MHA was sold those employees were allowed to roll their retirement into something else.
Indeed this does sound like a situation in need of investigation by the Lauderdale County Commission. We urge all concerned ECM/Shoals employees to contact the commission. Understandably RegionalCare may know nothing concerning the funds, but Aetna should be required to answer the commission's questions concerning the current status of these retirement accounts.
What's up with this: Two men were arrested yesterday attempting to break into Sweetwater Mansion while carrying a ladder. Well, no one ever said crooks have intelligence...or good taste.
If there's one constant in our e-mail inbox, it's a steady stream of questions concerning local events. The newest rumor seems to be that AT&T will be implementing 3G in the Shoals next week. On the other hand, we understand that the local mug shot mag Hard Times (of all publications) has an article on Mt. Everest getting the elusive 3G before the Shoals.
Apparently Colbert County is in more need of Rhea Tays Fulmer's debatable investigative skills than is Lauderdale. The secretary for the Colbert County 911 has been terminated after more than 41K turned up missing in an audit of that agency. God forbid anyone should find she also left her office to run errands.
We understand Colbert EMA director Mike Melton has also come under fire recently for certain controversial decisions. More on this later.
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?
While we had no doubt concerning the veracity of our source's comments, we didn't expect them to be proved so literally. After Tuesday's work session of the Lauderdale County Commission, there can be no doubt that every move the EMA director makes is closely monitored by a member of his staff. Perhaps the most important question is: Which one is Rhea Tays Fulmer's pet?
Or, perhaps, the most important question is when did Fulmer begin emulating Howard Dean at his worst? If this is what the commission's work sessions have now become, we can only imagine what the regular meeting will offer next Monday.
Victims beware!!! The Alabama Public Safety and Sentencing Coalition is trying to introduce a bill for the next legislative session regarding alternative sentencing. In the bill, it includes an act to do away with the mandatory notification act for victims of violent crime when offenders are being considered for parole. VOCAL was invited to participate in this coalition under the guise this would only affect non-violent offenders. Crime Victims are strongly opposed to this! This will set victims' rights back before the early 80's.
PLEASE CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS, JUSTICE SUE BELL COBB (creator of the coalition), and THE PAROLE BOARD to let them know YOU ARE AGAINST THIS BILL! If this bill passes, victims will not be notified by certified mail! If you or a loved one is a victim of a violent crime, this affects you!
Our local hero today is William Valentine, Lauderdale County Superintendent. Mr. Valentine had the intestinal fortitude to put Commissioner Rhea Fulmer in her place Tuesday. Kudos, Mr. Valentine; we're sure you've won many a new fan for your candor concerning Fulmer's abilities.
It was 92 years ago today, and Frank Buckles at 109 still vividly remembers the Armistice. He's an American treasure and we salute him today. We also salute all the other military veterans out there--more this year than last, yet still diminished.
This past year we've lost some who came home from war and led a full life, but their families still grieve. We've lost some who were tragically taken much too soon, and their families grieve at such unexpected loss. We thank God that we had these brave men and women to serve their country.
The line about failure to communicate entered pop culture years ago, but apparently it's still applicable today--at least concerning the Lauderdale Emergency Management Agency. The long awaited in depth article concerning the validity of Rhea Tays Fulmer's attack on EMA Director George Grabryan was published in The Connection yesterday--and, yes, there were some surprises.
We'll let readers have sufficient time to digest the article before we comment:
The voters have spoken; buyer’s remorse has sunk the Democrats nationwide. Many talking heads agree that the election was remorse by the voters. Is that factual? Most of the exit polls suggest Obamacare and the economy as the reason for the results.
Many independents and democrats were sold a bill of goods in the “08” election called “Change you can believe in”. Most of them would have bought some swampland in Arizona that year if the world’s number one snake oil salesman had just offered it.
The good news of course is the tea party is finally showing the far left the back door and the triad of Socialisiim is no longer in power. The Prez was almost contrite, almost. Comrades Pelosi, Reid and the Prez have pretty much been neutered. Over 500 state seats have moved to the right and now the fight begins to restore this country to some common sense traditional values.
Cherokee did not have their monthly brawl because the members were voting, Tammy Irons was elected and Carole Medley became the first Republican woman ever to be a District Court Judge and the Alabama House of Representatives is now Republican. Now, that is change you can believe in, Mr. President.
I am told there was no scrap on the View this week and President Bush proclaimed that he is not a racist as Kayne West so ably labeled him. West even admitted he too was accused of being a racist. I learned the proper way to scramble an egg. For some my learning to scramble an egg is not news but you would have to consult my wife the ultimate restaurant manager for her determination. My inability to cook is right up there with my lack of math skills. The JJ motto is, “If it can be nuked that is cooking and thank God for calculators”.
Auburn is now 10 and 0 and there is a possibility we may have another national championship and perhaps another Heisman. Unemployment in the Shoals is down. Sufficient to say this has been such a historical and great week, putting all the good news down on paper would take up a lot of space.
One thing that I did learn during all the politicking was negativity. It is so easy to be negative and listen only to the bad news we forget the good. When you read the various online e-zines, newspapers and TV there is a common thread and that is bad news.
Therefore, I made a decision to find some good news this week and every week. The current environment dictates that we do desperately need good news. Remember:
“Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don't know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!” - Anne Frank
The 1915 Florence Fire Department? Let's hope someone local purchases this find and returns it to the Shoals:Link
Empsie Goodloe is a former Whitesell Mfg. employee; after losing a hand while working at the Tuscumbia plant, Goodloe has filed a three million dollar lawsuit...but not against Whitesell Mfg. or its owner Neil Whitesell. Goodloe's attorney William Hovater has stated such a suit is not unusual. We'll take Mr. Hovater's word for that, but we have to wonder just how deep are the pockets of the seven named defendants. Those listed in the suit are:
David A. Francois - General Manager/Finance & Administration; Muscle Shoals resident
David E. Roggenbuck - Florence resident
John L. Tate
William L. Wellman
Jeffrey A. Schrier - Muscle Shoals resident
Cameron Brooks - IT Executive Manager; Muscle Shoals resident
John Sughroue - Director
It should be noted that it's not uncommon to see some initial defendants dropped from a lawsuit before it reaches trial. Good luck to Mr. Goodloe.
God Voting? If God voted in Rogersville, keeping that beautiful little town dry, did He also vote in Priceville, a city that went wet by one vote? Despite some not too well chosen words by a Baptist minister, God did not vote in Rogersville. God gives each of us free will. We hope that everyone who voted in any election this past Tuesday prayed for God's guidance.
Realistically, we can assume the local Rogersville scientologists did not pray to our Creator...and all this time so many were worried about the Pastafarian vote. We'll leave you today with this thought:
There is something wrong with youth who are not liberal; likewise, there is something wrong with those of a certain age who are not conservative.
As Lloyd Hollis Hayes sat in the Florence-Lauderdale Detention Center awaiting bond, he called Florence Fire Chief Charlie Cochran to express the love he had for his job, or more to the point, his former job. Employed under the Civil Service Act, Hayes was entitled to a due-process disciplinary hearing over which Cochran would preside. The fire chief stated at the time that friendship with Hayes would not influence him in his decision.
On January 25, 2002, Cochran heard three hours of testimony in Hayes' hearing, after which he recommended the former fire marshal be placed on leave without pay until the charges against him were adjudicated. Hayes was luckier during his hearing in District Court three months later.
District Judge Deborah Bell Paseur dropped the seven charges relating to distribution of child pornography since no money changed hands in the transfer of the images. Now, Hayes faced only three counts of possession of obscene material.
Hayes later agreed to a plea bargain in which two of the three remaining charges were dropped. Judge Mike Jones sentenced the former firefighter to a 30 month sentence. Under the agreement, Hayes wore an ankle monitor for nine months, while spending two years on probation. His defense attorney was quick to point out that the children pictured on Hayes' computers were not local. Well, thank goodness they were only children from third world countries.
Today Lloyd Hollis Hayes remains on the sex offender list, as he will for the remainder of his life unless current sex offender laws change drastically. It's a dismal ending for a once bright future; however, once he reaches the age of 60, Hayes will begin to draw his state retirement--our tax dollars at work.
Possess computer images of adults in various states of sexual interaction and, while it may be sickening to some, it's not a crime. Possess photos of children in the same state, and you can go to prison for up to twenty years--in some states, the sentence is life.
For legal purposes, children are defined as being under 18 years of age, but most who are so horribly used, and even raped, for the gratification of those willing to pay for such images, are much younger. Florence Fire Marshal Lloyd Hayes agreed to plead to the charges on which he was indicted, so only those who were part of the legal investigation, prosecution, and defense know exactly what was on both Hayes' home computer and the computer provided him at work by the City of Florence.
From the July 17, 2007, New York Times:
Experts have often wondered what proportion of men who download explicit sexual images of children also molest them. A new government study of convicted Internet offenders suggests that the number may be startlingly high: 85 percent of the offenders said they had committed acts of sexual abuse against minors, from inappropriate touching to rape.
While Hayes may be part of the 15% (3 out of 20) who did not act on his fantasies, he was at least so addicted to child pornography that he risked his job, a very well-paying job, by keeping at least part of his pornographic collection stored on his computer at the Florence Fire Department. When a routine audit on January 11, 2002, discovered the illicit images, police also confiscated his home computer, finding more of the same.
The City of Florence placed the 45 year-old Hayes on paid administrative leave on Tuesday January 15th, a day after the fire marshal was arrested on three counts of possession of child pornography and seven counts of distribution of the same. His bail was 50K, not a difficult amount for someone in Hayes' income bracket to produce.
A short time later, Lloyd Hollis Hayes' status was changed to unpaid administrative leave; and his wife filed for divorce. If Hayes was to salvage anything from his downfall, he was going to need a lot of luck and a great legal defense.
Note: Recent events concerning the Lauderdale EMA and various local fire departments have increased our mail concerning these entities. No matter how we feel about the charges now being flung at the EMA director, we are strong supporters of all local fire departments. In answer to their requests, we now begin a series of columns on Lloyd Hayes.
In May 1984, the Killen Fire Department of thirty plus volunteers announced that 28 year-old Capt.Lloyd Hollis Hayes was their new chief--for the second time since the previous December. A spokesman for the department would say only that the small group was a victim of internal problems. Now, Hayes was on his way to a successful career that lasted 18 years.
Married to the former Carol Lynn Mason Gresham, Hayes was the father of two young children and by 1989 had joined the Florence Fire Department where he served as captain. In 1994, Hayes ascended in rank to fire marshal, a position he held until he was terminated in 2002.
As part of his role with the Florence department, Hayes regularly participated in childrens' learning activities during National Fire Prevention Week each October. Hayes himself announced that the Florence program involved reaching young children not just in local public schools, but day care facilities as well. At the state level, Hayes helped establish youth groups connected to various fire organizations.
If Lloyd Hollis Hayes was unduly concerned with children, no one seemed to notice until January 2002. It was at that time the City of Florence conducted a routine audit of municipal computers. No one expected to find what appeared on Hayes' computer.
After Hospice Wars, could Hospital Wars lurk far behind? Sadly, the cans of roach spray and lawsuits by the TimesDaily do nothing to instill confidence in our local health care system. It's not 1910, and physicians no longer accept pigs or chickens in lieu of cash payments. Blue Cross/Blue Shield dictate payments for medical care--care that costs thousands of dollars.
If it's already this bad, can you imagine what it will be like when ECM actually requests a CON for its new hospital? It might even rival...Cherokee.
A few years ago, Littleville predicted the demise of their small town if Russellville should go wet; now they're more optimistic. Liquor sales provide approximately one-third of all Littleville tax revenue, but just what have alcohol sales brought this southern Colbert County town? Since going wet circa 1980, the town has a new city hall, but not exactly a plethora of other new municipal facilities.
As for private enterprise, the town has seen a new car wash, Dollar General Store, satellite television service, and a family clinic complete with reader board that advertises "Skinny Pills." From liquor mecca to diet mecca? It just might work.
Remember the old Florence Courthouse? Unfortunately, this particular post card is no longer available, but you may easily download the image for wallpaper: Link
Isn't it funny how various paths in our lives cross at unexpected times? Yesterday, Carole Coil Medley won a hard fought election against Florence Municipal Judge James E. Hall II. I personally supported Carole, but if Judge Hall had won the election, I would have still felt the Lauderdale District Judgeship was in more than capable hands.
My pressing problem in that case would have been whether to support Janice Keeton or Marshall Gardner as his replacement (I had friends lobbying on both sides). Now, I'm sure Florence City Court is safe with Judge Hall for at least two more years.
Due to the elections and the problems facing Lauderdale EMA, this blog has been lax concerning various public announcements, causing a friend to inquire why the Community Health Fair was overlooked this year. My apologies to this wonderful effort combining the forces of the Community Health Clinic and the UNA School of Nursing. While it was too late to advertise the clinic, I did ask my friend to inquire concerning the status of Andrew Daniel Scott, aka Hottie Scottie, supposedly a student at the CON.
According to two faculty members, Scott never made it to the actual College of Nursing, although he probably did take some preparatory courses. One instructor for the small college (they accept approximately 50 applicants each year), said specifically they didn't want someone with Scott's record in their college. If this information should be in error, I'm sure Mr. Roger Scott, Andrew's father, will immediately contact this blog. Judging by the above poster condemning a fine attorney/judge, Scott is still in denial concerning his son's actions.
Most of Andrew Daniel Scott's supporters on his Facebook "Cause" page appear to be relatives or young individuals who simply failed to check the facts in the case before joining this more than misguided effort. I'm personally thankful that the Shoals area has attorneys and judges (yes, even Jimmy Sandlin) who support a two parent home, a home in which parents manage to stay off drugs, stay out of jail, and know the responsibilities of parenthood involve more than simply being a sperm donor.
The caption on the poster Roger Scott created reads: What you fight for tells everyone about your character. It certainly does; as for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord. For more info on Andrew Daniel Scott:
Congratulations to Lynn Greer, Chad Holden, Carole Coil Medley, and Shannon Oliver on victories in well-fought races. Other election results remain more nebulous.
Who will run for Lauderdale County Commission Chairman? We've already received several e-mails that Rhea Tayls Fulmer will be the first to cast her hat into the ring; we hope this part time position will lure several more learned candidates as well.
Liquor in Rogersville? As of right now, only one vote separates the Yes and No votes. Among those heading the "No" forces was Morris T. Lentz who worked tirelessly to keep Rogersville dry. Shanna Reed Dudley, a major force for the wet vote, did her cause no good with the, shall we say colorful, language she used to describe her opponents. She walks in beauty as the night...at the longshoreman's ball.
It was a very close contest between Greg Burdine and Quinton Hanson. Perhaps Mr. Hanson should request some of his fees back on the ads in which the announcer couldn't pronounce "Yorkshire."
Music Fell on Alabama? Get the definitive text on Amazon: Link
The national trend is to give the liberal Democrats their walking papers. That is great in Washington but what about Montgomery? We have one of the highest tax bases in theUS, 19th in energy cost, and tax on groceries. If it can be taxed, Alabama will tax it. Twenty-five percent of the gambling revenue from neighboring states comes from the citizens of Alabama. Maybe they can find a way to penalize that. Add one of the highest corruption rates in the country and there you have it, the Democrats in power.
Oddly, we keep sending the same politicians back to Montgomery to continue pillaging our meager incomes. The tax, tax and spend Democrats have been in power for over 160 years. When will we learn our lesson? When will good-ole-boy politics end? We have a slight chance this election to tell Montgomery no more taxes and we want some prosperity. Our unemployment rate is one of the highest. All of those plants that the politicians said would never leave are gone.
Yet the same Democrats are in power. When will our elected Democrats do something for Northwest Alabama besides our billion dollar white elephant in Barton? The TV is full of lip service but no action. The Birmingham, Montgomery, Tuscaloosa and Huntsville areas do get new industry. We get white elephants and golf courses.
Is it not time to tell these hypocritical Democrats enough is enough? We need some realleadership here in the Shoals and all of Northwest Alabama. On the other hand, are we destined to stay the red-headed stepchild who occasionally gets a few scraps thrown at us?
How can the rest of the country tell the Democrats we are mad as hell and we are not going to take this anymore? Yet we sit on our duffs and say go-ahead break it off in us some more. Go to Montgomery and pass another big pay increase we do not mind the scraps and poverty.
For the first time we have a slim chance of moving into the twenty-first century. When you go to vote on Tuesday the second, remember we have a duty to not only our children but also our grandchildren and ourselves. Are we going to leave them more of the same?
On the other hand, are we going to give them a future of a realistic life or just a meager existence? Vote wisely.
An October Lauderdale County Grand Jury failed to indict Chasity Shook in the June shooting death of her husband Scott. The fact that Chasity's attorney allowed her to testify on her own behalf speaks volumes concerning her innocence.
Did you know? Over 50% of all adults in the United States did not have the right to vote until 1920?
No, we're not talking about any immigrants from South of the border. It seems the Sweetwater Historical Tour group added a book signing to their list of decorous entertainment offerings. Among the authors present on the evening of October 29th was Brent Raynes.
Raynes (pictured) is the author of Visitors from Hidden Realms, as well as On the Edge of Reality: The Mastering of Time and Space. According to a short bio, Raynes is associated with the UFO Contact Center International, as well as being an expert on Big Foot. Wouldn't you love to see his CV?
In other words, it seems Raynes fits right in with Robert Simone of G.H.O.S.T. and the resident fortune teller. We have been unable to verify this, but there have been several reports that at least one young black lady was told she was descended from the Patton family's slaves. Classy, no?
While we're sure the Patton/Weeden family is happy to have this once beautiful ante bellum mansion restored, we're also sure at some other level they're cringing at the circus these tours have become. On the bright side, the tours have been marked down to only ten dollars, but don't go just yet. At this rate, you can take the grand tour for only five dollars if you wait until December.
It's with great pleasure that we endorse Ty Barrett for Lauderdale County Sheriff. Ty comes highly recommended by our contact with the Killen Police Department, as well as many others in law enforcement.
Traveling south to Franklin County, we are happy to endorse Shannon Oliver for sheriff. Mr. Oliver is a dedicated law enforcement officer and will be an asset to the county.
Wonder what Sheffield looked like in 1907? Here's the view: Link