Friday, December 31, 2010
We have just received word that Leighton Police Chief Ray Hayse has been suspended. No other details are yet available.
Hayse was the Republican nominee for Franklin County Sheriff in the 2010 general election. He also made news earlier in the year when he suspended Stephen Guthrie after that officer's arrest on a domestic violence charge. Guthrie attributed the July incident to a reaction to Ambien, a commonly prescribed sleep medication.
During the ensuing July council meeting, Leighton Mayor Lawayne Harrison attempted to suspend Hayse, accusing him of not acting quickly enough to reinstate Guthrie. Harrison, known for his erratic behavior and frequent civil court battles, could not get a second to his motion.
We look for Harrison to figure prominently in Chief Hayse's current suspension.
Little official news has been released concerning the fire at Sidelines II in Muscle Shoals. The sports deli located in the former Something Fishy location on Ford Road burned around midnight Sunday. WHNT in Huntsville reported that 25% of the year-old eatery was affected by either fire, smoke, or water damage.
Private sources have reported that a female caller contacted the Muscle Shoals Police before the fire, informing them of the threat of arson. State fire marshals are still investigating the blaze. A sister restaurant in Florence remains open in the former Princeton's location on Cox Creek Parkway.
It's New Year's Eve, and we're pretty sure we're preaching to the choir, but just in case here goes... If you think wearing a seat belt isn't cool, how do you feel about going through the windshield?
The two Lawrence County men who died in a one-car accident Tuesday weren't wearing seat belts. Both were to become fathers in 2011, but that apparently didn't mean much to them. If your family and friends mean something to you, buckle up. Even better, stay sober; we understand it makes for better bussing at midnight.
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Yesterday we addressed the plight of Hayley Cain and those like her in Alabama. According to the July 25th TimesDaily, Sen. Roger Bedford plans to introduce a bill to extend Medicaid waivers to cover adults with extreme physical disabilities. Now today's TD states newly elected Sen. Tammy Irons will also do so. We hope these two will be able to work together. It's not about glory; it's about what's good for those who need medical services the State is not currently providing.
According to today's article, such a bill was introduced as recently as 2007, but failed to pass. Even if the bill should pass in 2011, those who have dealt with Alabama Medicaid know how convoluted the system is. Part of the problem, indeed a major part of the problem, is limited funding. Those who currently qualify as mentally and physically disabled already have to compete for existing Medicaid dollars. Sadly, if no new funding is found, the introduction of home care for the non-mentally disabled will at least initially burden the system more and cause a decrease in services already in place.
And what of similar services that have been previously legislated? Two of our readers contacted us concerning problems in the system they have had to face. From a local nurse advocate:
We've been active in trying to get the state to do something to help those with special needs. The state of Alabama was included in a class action lawsuit but for some reason it was dismissed in our state with a settlement that didn’t provide any help.
There's that word lawsuit again. Sadly, no matter the road taken to rectify this problem on a large scale, it will be a long one.
What's up with this: Have all you guys read the TimesDaily article concerning local car thefts? Let this be a lesson to you: A woman who will steal your pants will have no qualms about stealing your car.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Most people in the Shoals are familiar with Hayley Cain. Hayley is a 21 year old victim of cerebral palsy; she has normal intelligence. Unfortunately for Hayley and those like her, Medicaid in Alabama will not pay for home nursing or aides. To receive these benefits from state funded waivers, a patient must have an IQ below 70.
Now, both state senators Roger Bedford and Tammy Irons have announced they will try to change the law. We have to wonder if they will introduce opposing bills or work together to affect this change. Others have unsuccessfully tried to rectify this situation before, so it is nothing new. Our state legislature is aware of the problem and has been for years.
This brings us to what might be of real help to Hayley. In 1999, the US Supreme Court ruled on a similar case. In what has become known as the Olmstead Ruling, the Court stated:
"states are required to place persons with mental disabilities in community settings rather than in institutions when the State's treatment professionals have determined that community placement is appropriate, the transfer from institutional care to a less restrictive setting is not opposed by the affected individual, and the placement can be reasonably accommodated, taking into account the resources available to the State and the needs of others with mental disabilities."
While Olmstead specifically mentions those with mental disabilities, others of normal or above normal intelligence have used this ruling to secure Medicaid funding in Alabama. Citizens with debilitating physical problems are now living independently or attending college with the help of Medicaid dollars.
Of course, these individuals did not secure these Medicaid services without an attorney...or a lawsuit. This may seem overly harsh and dramatic, but Hayley probably has a better chance of leading a normal life as the winner of such a suit than she will waiting for our state legislature to act.
This is the story of Paul Boyd published November 18, 2010, in a Georgia law blog. Paul is very similar to Haylee...and he has sued the State. All of us should be watching the results of this suit. A member of your family could be the next to need such Medicaid services...or it could be you or me.
A quadriplegic since 1995, Paul Boyd has sued the Alabama Medicaid agency in an effort to get home-based care that would enable him to move out of a nursing home where he now lives.
Boyd argues that the agency would save money by letting him live in a house, with some assistance. He wants to live closer to the University of Montevallo campus, where despite his quadriplegia he is a graduate student in community counseling.
For the first 11 years after his paralyzing accident, Boyd living with relatives. Four years ago, when they were no longer able to serve as caregivers, he moved to a nursing home. However, the nursing home is 13 miles from the university campus.
There is no public transportation to get to his evening classes. He uses his scholarship money to pay a maintenance worker from the nursing home to drive his wheelchair-equipped van back and forth to campus.
You have to admire the indomitable spirit of folks like Mr. Boyd who are determined to live productive lives after a devastating injury. I find it extremely fulfilling to help such folks recover the resources necessary to restore as much of a productive life as possible.
Atlanta Injury Law Blog
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
It was 1976, the nation's bicentennial--red, white, and blue were ubiquitous colors, but it was the blood red marking the walls of Ronald Perryman's apartment in Tuscaloosa that brought Charles Manson to mind. Tuscaloosa homicide detectives were initially baffled by what they found at the murder scene, and the case has never been solved.
Perryman was a Florence native who had attended the University of North Alabama before traveling to Tuscaloosa to study social work at the University of Alabama. While at UNA, Ronnie had been a popular student and had served for a time as Leo, the university's mascot.
After enrolling at UA, Perryman sublet an apartment at the Duncan House on Reed Street. It was there that the Florence student met his death less than three months after arriving in Tuscaloosa. Finding the door to Perryman's apartment unlocked, a neighbor discovered the body on Saturday June 6th; he had been shot in the head and upper chest with a .38 calibre handgun.
Perryman had not been seen alive in four days, and the time of his death was never established with any exactness. There were no similar questions about the brutality of the crime; detectives found epithets on the walls of the apartment...written in the victim's blood. It was in an interview 12 years later that investigators termed the slaying a "Manson type murder."
Investigators finally narrowed the suspects to two men. One of these suspects has never been found. The second and more likely suspect was a long-time friend of Perryman who initially cooperated with the Tuscaloosa detectives. Later this former UNA student left the state and eventually denied even being friends with Perryman.
It has now been over 34 years since Ronald Perryman was brutally murdered, and we may never know the identity of his killer. Yet the killer knows his guilt and carries it with him every day. Let's hope this guilt will eventually lead to justice for Ronnie and the loved ones he left behind.
Monday, December 27, 2010
It seems several who enjoy Larry Fisher's Remembering Florence have asked the TimesDaily to do an article on the Facebook page--so far to no avail. We hope all our readers have visited this wonderful site. Florence is the focus of the page, but other areas are also remembered. If you have old photos of Florence and the surrounding communities, please post them.
If you're interested in history beyond the Tennessee Valley, you will certainly enjoy Kelly Kazek's new book, Forgotten Tales of Alabama. Kelly is a feature writer for the Athens News-Courier. You can find her book on Amazon.com: Link
From Doc's Political Parlor: Robert Bentley hopes Santa brings some Alabama problems that are only skin deep.
Unfortunately, most of the state's problems are far more entrenched, but we wish the best for the dermatologist.
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Have you visited the website Bama Fact Check? Here's a blurb in their own words:
Bama Fact Check aims to provide readers with regular investigations into the statements of state and local politicians and public figures. The statements of highest priority will be the policy ideas of political figures rather than their negative campaign advertisements or off-the-cuff remarks. Staff members hope to continue this endeavor throughout the general election and indefinitely. The project’s goal rests on a fundamental tenet of journalism and democracy: to provide society with the information it needs to be free and self-governing.
Each political statement researched by Bama Fact Check will receive a “Truth Rating” from a group of staff members. The ratings will range from five, meaning the statement is completely true, to zero, meaning the statement is void of any truth whatsoever.
The site states that Alabama politics will take front stage, but local politics will also be in the mix. We plan to regularly ask questions and hope all of you will as well: Link
We're sure you know Santa managed to make his yearly rounds Friday night, but for those who want the juicy details of his release from Lauderdale custody, here's a report from J.J. Ray:
Santa was in court on the twenty third and as expected both Grinches were there. DA Chris Connolly failed in his effort to establish the illegal alien status of the bearded man. The report from Riverbend was read into the record and stated that the man though a little quirky was perfectly sane. There was no law against a person stopping to take a rest while exercising his reindeer.
A local vet testified that the reindeer in question were in remarkable condition given their age. One of the females was expecting though he didn't know the name. After hearing testimony and on a motion from Attorney Janice Keeton. Judge Medley ordered the defendant Kris Kringle was sane and free to go about his business, whatever that was.
Rhea Fulmer Michael Tays was furious and reminded the Judge that she was a Republican and there was another election coming up in six years. Judge Medley ignored the comment and left the court room. The DA would not comment stating he had to do some Christmas shopping. As Ms. Tays was pressed for a comment she uttered a profanity and left. The children are safe for tonight.
A footnote to this drama, my wife and I actually met Santa some years ago in upstate New York at a rest area. He was taking two of his reindeer to a vet. One of the reindeer was a baby and quite playful. Apparently the larger one was the mother because she was not too happy with my wife. He was a very jolly and cordial man. Santa actually gave his card to my wife who at the time was a non-believer. She has had the Christmas spirit ever since.
Merry Christmas to all.
Saturday, December 25, 2010
Friday, December 24, 2010
How does that old joke go? Atlanta envies New York, Birmingham envies Atlanta, Huntsville envies Birmingham, and Florence & the Shoals envy Huntsville. We're here to tell you that after reading the TimesDaily the past few months, Florence and the Shoals should envy...Florence and the Shoals.
There may be some crime; there may even be a modicum of bickering among local leaders, but there's no true recession here. Jobs are plentiful in most fields, and if they aren't in yours, stick around because they will be after a few more months of SEDA recruiting.
The National Alabama rail car plant is set to explode--just tell them when. The Alabama Music Hall of Fame now has a second group to solicit funds for the HOF. According to TD staff writer Russ Corey, the formation of a foundation to seek additional funding for the Tuscumbia boondoggle is a positive thing. If you refuse the first one to ask for a contribution, you'll feel bad and contribute to the second one? We wonder how many will now give to neither since the whole situation smacks of a family feud?
The new year will also see a new Internet company based in Lexington--we're guessing because the Snow Masters company has so much more experience in that sort of thing than AT&T. Heaven forbid the TD portray such a project as anything short of the second coming. It will only be when National Alabama, the Hall of Fame, a Francisco Guerra company, or a similar endeavor goes under that the local press will be missing in action.
For real news concerning the local economy, look at the obituaries--that's right, the local obituaries. Those of a certain age who pass on have fewer and fewer children...at least living in the Shoals. If they do have resident children, their grandchildren have migrated to the lush economic pastures of larger cities. Even those who stay here for personal reasons are quick to paint a bleak picture of life in northwest Alabama. The Shoals is saturated with attorneys, nurses, and accountants. Many in these highly skilled professions barely eke out a living, at least compared to their colleagues in other geographical areas.
Nevertheless, we can rejoice because Florence will now have one of the top five school systems in the state...and not leave any child behind to do so. How do we know this? The TimesDaily has told us so. Belief in one's self is essential, but it takes more to make the system work. If local stores took inventory in the same manner the TD takes stock of local industry, we're afraid most would go bankrupt very quickly.
Hard words are often necessary. We've recently encouraged readers to write those in state and national government to request a link to the interstate highway system. We still think that should be the number one project for the area, but what would be the second?
Several things come to mind, but the easiest is community clean-up. Would you want to put a restaurant in the East Florence Entertainment District (whatever that may be)? Would you want to open a large chain store in downtown Sheffield? Would you want to place an upscale art gallery in downtown Leighton?
We're betting you answered no to all three questions. If the answers are ever to change to yes, local governments are going to have to treat the offending property owners in a fair, but extremely strict manner. Junk is junk, no matter who owns it.
We'll add that the City of Sheffield should appoint Steve Wiggins to head a monumental clean up campaign. The city should give Steve authority to do what it takes to clean up what used to be a beautiful town. There are only two choices, and those who choose to do nothing should expect nothing. Think about it.
It's Christmas Eve, and the above subjects of urban and economic decay in the area, while necessary, aren't exactly uplifting. If you're looking for a treat on your afternoon off, we suggest you take a look at Remembering Florence. If you haven't visited Larry Fisher's Facebook page recently, you'll be amazed at the added material. There are now over 300 photos of Florence and the surrounding area. Thanks again to Larry for creating and monitoring this wonderful sight.
What's up with this: It's 12/24 and we haven't heard from J. J. Ray. Will Santa escape Rhea Fulmer Michael Tays' evil plot to ruin Christmas? Let's hope everyone has a joyous and fantastic holiday!
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Since our brief mention of Cherokee in yesterday's blog, we've had several questions as to what role the Federal government would or could play in that town's political problems in the upcoming year. The answer is probably very little. As long as the town meets any financial obligations to the US government and doesn't defy any Federal employment or environmental laws, we would hardly think Cherokee would be of great concern to Uncle Sam.
We have not yet had an update from our source, but the exact nature of Federal involvement in Cherokee is stated to be: Federal criminal charges and an arrest by US Marshals. If new information warrants, we'll publish a special update.
Has former Cherokee attorney Rebecca Narmore committed an ethics violation in assisting Mayor Chuck Lansdell's secretary in a lawsuit? This is a more difficult question to answer. Narmore was terminated as attorney for the small Colbert County town in July of this year. Now she is representing Marsha Allen in her attempt to recover unpaid wages. According to rules of bar associations in almost all states, an attorney is guilty of a conflict of interest if:
1. The existence of a valid attorney-client relationship between the attorney and the former client.
2. The interests of the current and former clients must be materially adverse.
3. The former client has not given an informed consent to the new representation.
4. The current and former matter are the same or substantially related.
Whether Ms. Narmore is guilty of these four elements would probably be a matter of interpretation. Number four would seem to be the hardest to prove. We welcome comments from any of our attorney friends. As always, they will be published anonymously if that is their wish.
We urge each of you to read this Washington Post article:
Awards?! Who doesn't love them? OB's Corner has just published part one of its awards for 2010. We're extremely pleased that he named us "Shoals Blogger of the Year." This award means much more to us than the Blogophilia award we received in 2008.
O.B. takes time from his busy schedule to blog about what matters in the Shoals. He makes a difference...and in our estimation that makes him an award winner every day of the year.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
A very reliable source has informed us that US Marshals may be headed to Cherokee. Since the details have not been confirmed, we won't publish any other info on this, but look for a story tomorrow.
Pocket Park? How Empty! Most of us remember the mantra "Point Park? How Pointless!" from the campaign to rename the riverside facility to honor veterans. May we suggest a similar new name is in order for Pocket Park, the small park just south of Seven Points on Wood Avenue. This location was home to the Norwood Theatre until it burned in 1968.
For many years the lot sat vacant until the City of Florence constructed the current amphitheatre. The location is now used for festival events and impromptu lunches for those who work nearby.
If you have a suggestion for a fitting name, please e-mail us. Florence Councilman Dick Jordan is an avid local historian and would be a good person to head this campaign. We've very good at volunteering others...
We recently mentioned the WVNA sign on the Florence side of O'Neal Bridge. One may see from the photograph that the sign has experienced no recent upkeep. The tower is rusty, and the time/date mechanism hasn't worked in years.
If the station's owners won't properly maintain the sign, the City of Florence should begin condemnation proceedings. The new owners of the station have experienced financial troubles since purchasing the business from the Darby family, but bad advertising is worse than no advertising at all.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Cherokee Council Served
Four Cherokee City Council members Mike Malone, Daniel Steve Glover, Joe Franks, Patricia Mason and Cherokee City Clerk Melinda Malone have been named in a law suit. The papers were served on the named defendants late Monday afternoon by the Colbert County Sheriff’s Office.
The law suit states that the Plaintiff Marsha Allen was hired on June 14, 2010 as a part-time office worker and personal secretary to the mayor. Allen’s hourly rate of pay was $12.00 per hour and the Plaintiff has not been compensated since the week ending July 11, 2010. No other motion has been made to pay the Plaintiff at a different pay rate. The Defendants have taken no action to set the compensation as is required by law.
Further, the Defendants have at no point terminated the Plaintiff or afforded the Plaintiff a due process hearing and terminated her employment. The Defendants have continued to allow the Plaintiff to work without any compensation for her secretarial services performed. The Defendants intentionally and recklessly violated the Plaintiff's property interests and have continued to do so since the week ending July 18, 2010.
The Plaintiff has continuously shown up for work on dates and times set by the Mayor. The Plaintiff faithfully clocks in at the town time clock where all employees clock in and clock out each day. Defendant, Melinda Malone, as town clerk, is responsible for the removal of the time cards and preparation of the employees' payroll each week. Defendant, Melinda Malone, replaces the time cards with new time cards each week for each employee. The Defendant, Melinda Malone, has willfully failed and refused to remove the Plaintiff’s time cards and prepare a check to be presented to the council each month for the council’s approval. Defendant, Melinda Malone, has removed all other employees’ time cards and has prepared the payroll for every other employee of the Town of Cherokee except for the Plaintiff’s.
Defendant, Melinda Malone, has intentionally and recklessly violated the Plaintiff's property rights and interest. Defendant, Melinda Malone, is liable to the Plaintiff for deprivation of her rights, privileges, and immunities secured by the Constitution and laws in that the Defendant, Melinda Malone, has intentionally and recklessly refused and ignored the Plaintiff’s time cards and refuses to even prepare the paycheck for the Plaintiff to even be presented to the town council.
Defendant, Melinda Malone, as town clerk is responsible for presenting all claims, requisitions and demands against the town to the town council at its next regular meeting for its approval. Defendant, Melinda Malone, has intentionally and recklessly refused to present the demand of the Plaintiff's hours worked to the town council at the regular meetings or special called meetings for the weeks ending July 18, 2010 through the filing of this Complaint. Defendant, Melinda Malone, has failed to properly perform her duties and responsibilities as the town clerk and as a result has intentionally and recklessly deprived the Plaintiff of her property interest under 42 U.S. C. §1983.
The law suit further states the Plaintiff demands judgment against the Defendants, jointly and severally, for back wages owed, interest on said wages and attorney’s fees and expenses for violation of her constitutional rights and due process of law.
How about that for a Christmas present? I think the Defendants should take back their Christmas presents and hire a good attorney.
So, you think you can draw? If the answer to that question is yes...and you have a bent for political or social humor, The Connection would love to publish your cartoons. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This image of the Tuscumbia First Baptist Church appears to be pre-1950: Link
Monday, December 20, 2010
Do You Really Want New Board Members?
A Guest Commentary
By Bailey Quarters
I'm surprised the city of Florence now wants new faces on its boards. It certainly hasn't in the past. In the 1990s there was a two term limit and I applied for an opening on the Florence Library Board. I don't know how many others applied, but having a college degree and a good job in Florence, I felt that I would make a good board member.
The answer I received came from a story in the TimesDaily. It seems the Florence City Council wanted to keep the two-term board member, a professor at UNA. I heard that he had been considering a move to another area and this was one way to keep him here. He was appointed to a third term and then over the next few years just disappeared from the scene. I'm still here and still love and support the library, but I don't have time in my current job to fulfill the duties that would come with any board membership.
It's refreshing that Florence now wants new faces. The city has done little in the past to encourage new people to take part in making our home town a better place to live.
We're going to agree with much of what Bailey has written. One problem with local boards in all Shoals' cities is a lack of participation. While those who do participate are usually more than qualified, many of them do not have the time to serve and attend meetings.
We hope Florence's new policy will encourage new faces on various boards. We would also like to encourage each board to set up at least semi-annual public meetings where concerned citizens who don't have time to serve can have input.
If you read yesterday's blog, you're aware that one common criticism of the Shoals area is lack of easy access. There's that persnickety road problem again. You say roads cost money? Of course they do. Which had you rather have: A Jumbotron scoreboard at your high school alma mater or a new highway that will bring tourists and well-paying jobs to the area?
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Yesterday marked the silver anniversary of the NCAA Division II championship held in Florence. Comments published in the TimesDaily concerning visitor reaction to our area have been universally favorable. We've previously published some negative comments concerning the game's venue, Braly Stadium. Now, here are a few comments from fans and visitors that might not make it to our daily rag:
Pretty low showing. 2nd lowest in 20 years. - Concerning attendance of only 4,027
I don't care what people say, the Shoals is not a hot bed of tourist activity this time of year unless you want to hunt or fish. If the NCAA wants a packed house, then move it to an area that loves football, easily accessible via air travel, has hotels with more than a 2 star rating and a stadium located in an area that is aesthetically pleasing. Braly looks like the neighborhood...ready for the dumpster. If not for the NC game, I would never travel to the Shoals area. The new turf did nothing to make this game look better on TV.
I'm not blaming any organizations, but until someone puts a bunch of promotion to D2 Football and it's championship, I'd expect 4-6k at the game.
Shoals is a pain to get to
sitting alone in a dive of a motel for one more night, I am trying to kill the time. Not much else going on in Florence.
Note: Positive comments are in green; negative in red.
Obviously those of us who live in the Shoals area look at it with love and also with eyes that may not see its shortcomings due to constant exposure. Keeping that in mind, have any of our readers recently looked at the WVNA sign adjacent to the southbound lanes of O'Neal Bridge? This is truly an eyesore and should be either taken down or refurbished.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
To a New York Times journalist, Florence designer Billy Reid may be boring. We consider him prudent. Read about his latest award here:
A recent blog lamented the decadence of the English language in the United States. For an extremely interesting and accurate take on today's misuse of the native tongue, we urge everyone to read:
Update on Santa's arrest from J.J. Ray:
The Lawrence County, Tennesse, courthouse in Lawrenceburg has been widely discussed in recent years. There are many who would like to see the current modern structure razed and an updated replica of the previous building erected in its place. Here's an image of the original on eBay: Link
Friday, December 17, 2010
We urge all our readers to consider the following carefully and act--act now to ensure this law is passed:
The First of Its Kind in Alabama: New Political Action Committee Formed for Animal WelfareEmail: email@example.comWebsite: www.alabamavotesforanimals.orgPhone: 205-482-2992Address: P.O. Box 1868 Alabaster, AL 3500710/7/2010Alabama Voters for Responsible Animal Legislation (AVRAL) is a grassroots, nonpartisan political action committee that works to influence legislation and support the passage of policies favorable to the welfare of companion animals. It is the first organization of its kind in Alabama. AVRAL believes the current approach to animal welfare in Alabama is inefficient, too costly for taxpayers, and does little to address pressing animal welfare issues in the state. AVRAL seeks a greater focus on developing more low cost spay/neuter clinics to reduce overpopulation, strengthening laws against animal cruelty and neglect, banning gas chambers as a means of euthanasia in shelters, ending breed specific legislation, and instituting minimum standards of care in shelters and humane societies. AVRAL aims to accomplish these goals by forming large voting blocs of Alabama citizens who care about animals and will elect city, county and state representatives who champion animal-friendly legislation and policies.AVRAL’s first goal is to ban the use of gas chambers as a method of euthanasia in animal shelters in the state. AVRAL is working with the Alabama Humane Federation to draft an anti-gassing bill. Gas chambers are inhumane devices into which animals are loaded in bulk. It generally takes 30-40 minutes for animals to die by this method. State Senator Del Marsh (R – Calhoun and St. Clair counties) and Representative Steve McMillan (R – Gulf Shores) are co-sponsoring the bill.Some AVRAL members are current or former animal rescuers and know firsthand the key issues that plague Alabama’s companion animals. Millie Harris of Anniston is chair of AVRAL’s political/legislative team and is President of SAVE, a spay-neuter advocacy group in Calhoun County. Sandra Nathan, who serves as chair of AVRAL’s research/legal team, is a freelance journalist in Mobile who writes about the need for municipalities to provide shelter and refuge for Alabama’s homeless animals. Dr. Rhonda Parker is state chair and membership coordinator for AVRAL. A former wildlife rehabilitator, she founded Last Chance Dog Rescue Alabama in an effort to save homeless animals in the Jefferson/Shelby county area.Other AVRAL members come from all walks of life: firefighters, engineers, educators, police officers, postal workers, attorneys, factory workers, physicians, nurses, military personnel, realtors, business owners, retirees, the list goes on. All share a common concern: they are tired of spending taxpayer dollars for animal programs they believe perpetuate a cycle of cruelty and neglect. Those interested in learning more about AVRAL may visit www.alabamavotesforanimals.org.
Let's not turn our eyes away any longer. Yes, the euthanasia of domestic animals is painful for those who have to carry it out, but it should be. What kind of person would find such a task enjoyable? Let's work to improve all shelters in the Shoals area, but let's primarily work to neuter our domestic animals so that euthanasia isn't needed for healthy animals.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
'Twas the Day after Thanksgiving and the Rudeness had Begun
By J.J. Ray
'Twas the day after thanksgiving and I still was full. My wife then announced it was time to shop. Now I’m really not into any type of punishment for pleasure and being born without a shopping gene does not help. There was of course no choice if I intended to watch the big game.
Parking at Walmart was a real exercise in futility as it was full. Therefore, we circled the wagon numerous times and was out fought by a Volkswagen for the last space. I stopped the van and said, “I’ll let you out and continue circling till I fin a spot”. She speculated the statement and agreed. Relieved I pulled out and wouldn’t you know it there was a spot right in front. Yes, she was watching.
A deep breath later, I knew I was doomed to a fate worse than a Tupperware party. Walking into the store my wife asked me to go to HBA and get her some shampoo. I stood there for a moment and she saw my stupidity. “Health and beauty aids,” she fired off. Of course, this is on the other side of the store a mere two acres away. Finding the right aisle was easy--the right shampoo now that is an experience. I backed up against the gondola so I could see all of them. My God, I thought there are hundreds.
It was then when I saw it out of the corner of my eye. The buggy turned left and she was headed right towards me. I had no place to hide. I could see the small child riding in the buggy and it was at that moment I felt the pain. She ran over my toes and never looked back. Her only words were, “Get the H…l out of my way I’m in a hurry.
I do not know which was worse--the pain or the embarrassment as people stared at me while I hopped around. Straitening up and trying to smile I found the bottle and hobbled back to the other side of the store only to find out she was in the shoe aisle. She glanced at me without an ounce of pity as I proclaimed my injuries. “It’s Christmas, get over it”, she replied. Crushed and hurting I found a bench and sat down to give my toes a chance The people scurried around as if they were possessed by some type of shopping demon.
Then the reality set in. This is not Christmas. Christmas is about a man born some two thousand years ago. These people have totally forgotten the real meaning. He came to earth to give us a present whatever our beliefs are. His present is free--all we have to do is to accept it. There is no money involved--just celebrate his birthday, believe and be joyful. While pondering this epiphany my wife circled by and announced she was through, “Let’s check out."
Now this is not the end of the story because at the checkout, you guessed it. Right behind me, it was the toe assassin and she was impatient. Moving out of her way, I allowed her to go ahead of me. My wife seeing my cowardliness whispered, “Is she the one”. I whispered back, “Yes, but do not say anything he would not like it.” She had a quizzical look on her face but I was content. This was Christmas and maybe the toe assassin would remember my kindness and pass it on.
In the car, my wife asked me what was going on. I replied that Christmas is not just one day but it’s a spirit of love and kindness for everyday. Have you passed on a kindness today? He would like it, I am sure.
Per Attorney General Troy King, who is sometimes good for something, Shaun Shapley has attempted to appeal his 25 year conviction for the murder of his stepdaughter. We will have more on this appeal later, but it is beyond our limited legal intelligence how Shapley would be allowed to appeal a conviction based on a plea bargain...unless he now claims he was coerced into the plea or received inferior legal representation--representation his wife sold her assets and those of the victim in order to acquire.
That brings us to Renee' Miskell, our latest local hero. Renee' fights diligently for the rights of those who are not able to fight for themselves. Thanks Renee' for all you do for others.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
In a decade or so, the Shoals will have a new hospital. We will correct the name to North Alabama Medical Center; the name Northwest Alabama Medical Center is currently in use by a small facility to the south of the Shoals.
Why a decade? Sources say Helen Keller Hospital will fight the construction of a new hospital with every legal angle it can muster. One reason may be that RegionalCare is rumored to be looking at two parcels of land in Sheffield--one directly behind HKH on Woodward Avenue.
Obviously RegionalCare is seeking a central location; however, like HKH's affiliation with Huntsville Hospital or not, construction of the new facility on HKH's doorstep could certainly be viewed as a personal affront. Perhaps we should all buy stock in roach spray?
Are you connected to a Mom and Pop store that needs some free advertising. OB's Corner is offering free ads to any locally owned business; he may not conquer Wal-Mart with this plan, but it's a start. Thanks, OB, for supporting our local economy!
Feel the need to vent, but haven't found the right forum? There's a new forum in town called Simply Shoals: Link
What's up with this: The Montgomery hearing involving Keith McGuire's teaching license is currently under way. It should finish up after three days of testimony...yes, three days paid for by the taxpayers. There may not be a decision for a month; we'll report as soon as one is announced.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Jerry Wayne Morris' assault trial has ended in a hung jury. According to a source with Lauderdale County, the evidence against the Anderson resident was iffy at best. We don't advocate striking police officers under any circumstances, but neither do we condone police brutality against innocent citizens. It would seem Hank Sherrod is definitely the go-to attorney in cases involving police infringement of civil rights.
Sources further tell us the Anderson Police Department has made great strides under its new chief. Kudos to Chief Karla McGee for improving the department's image. McGee replaced former DynCorp employee Mark Bowers last May.
If the English language isn't dead, it's mortally wounded and in need of a miracle to save it. A reader board on a local pharmacy recently proclaimed: Get Your Alabama & Auburn Stuff Here! The word "stuff" seems to be running a close second to "like" as the most overused/ill-used word in not only daily conversation, but more formal speech as well.
Of course, we no longer converse, but conversate. We won't mention the name of the Tweeter, but a local UNA student recently wrote: It was fun commentating with ***** at the Florence Christmas parade. We'll be sure to notate that in case we need someone to orientate a new announcer next year. At least we can take solace in the fact that decadent speech isn't just a Southern phenomenon--we've heard the Kardashians speak.
Other sources report that the first of the year will see several long-time Registered Nurses leave ECM's employ, as well as a paring down of some excess baggage at Shoals Hospital. We can understand the need to clean house at Shoals; it's long been reported that nepotism and good ol' boy politics played a large role in their staffing. Encouraging senior RNs with years of expertise to take early retirement in the name of cost effectiveness is a different matter.
After an absence of almost three months, we see Trevor Stokes returned to the TimesDaily on December 8th. Now it they would just bring back the Sunday local history segments...
Monday, December 13, 2010
The word "new" in this topic may be misleading, perhaps we should have said the "now obvious" direction of the TimesDaily. Shelton Publishing, parent company of the Decatur Daily, purchased the Shoals' largest newspaper last year; earlier this year Shelton bought the weekly Courier Journal. Is this monopoly of news outlets illegal? No, but it is still a form of monopoly.
Visit the TimesDaily website and you're offered the chance to click on the sister websites of the Decatur Daily or Moulton Advertiser. Visit one of these two sites and you will not be similarly offered the chance to visit the TimesDaily with just a click of the mouse. While Shelton Publishing expects Shoals residents to find its other two publications of interest, it apparently doesn't think Morgan or Lawrence County readers will find the TimesDaily of either interest or great import.
Apparently it's all right to criticize the Coffee Health Group for choosing RegionalCare to take over local hospitals, but not all right to question the situation at Alabama National rail care plant, a situation that affects all state employees. We're still searching for logic in that one and so far have found none.
Shoals readers are turning to such websites as the ShoalsInsider and The Connection for much news or investigative reporting. For any editorial comment that might criticize local industry (read: advertisers), readers will have to look to various local blogs. We hope one of these news outlets will hire Trevor Stokes--he wasn't afraid to tell the truth...
Many Shoals residents remember Dr. Edward Mullen fondly from his 28 years with Trinity Episcopal Church in Florence. Here's a chance to own a rare copy of his sermons: Link
Sunday, December 12, 2010
“One of the things the board most dearly wanted to accomplish was to take the hospital and the community mentality it had for so many years and make sure the end result we handed back to the community was something as good or better than what it had been.” - Tyndal Davis
While health care will never return to what it was one hundred or even fifty years ago, nor should it, a little community mentality, aka community pride and involvement, is hardly a bad thing. Apparently Tyndal Davis thinks community involvement should be a thing of the past, as least where our local hospitals are concerned. We have to ask: Just how is this different than Helen Keller Hospital signing over total control to Huntsville Hospital?
While it hasn't been widely discussed, what will be the name of our new RegionalCare hospital? We doubt it will carry any connection to the Coffee family. Gone will be ECM Hospital and Coffee High School, leaving only Coffee Road to commemorate one of Florence's founding families.
Security for hire company DynCorp has made the news again. We wonder how many local police honchos now mention this much maligned company in their resume'? Actually, we wonder if some smaller departments even check into the validity of such resume's?
Saturday, December 11, 2010
"If you have the facts, then bring them forward." - Florence Mayor Bobby Irons
Does Councilman Sam Pendleton have any facts concerning the Florence Country Club land deal? Or does he simply have suspicions? There's certainly much to be suspicious of. If you came in late on this now infamous land deal, here's the skinny: The Florence Country Club Deal
If there was no sweetheart deal for the University of North Alabama, we have just one question: Why did UNA not bid on the land they then wanted and still want?
Many of us have placed bids in charity or online auctions knowing winning would be a long shot...but we still placed the bid. Did UNA know how much the City of Florence was going to bid? Or did they know they would get the land they wanted without having to bid?
We look forward to some answers, but do not expect them to be immediately forthcoming.
We here at Shoalanda Speaks have just acquired the intellectual property rights to a new line of buggy whips. We fully expect this acquisition to place us in the forefront of national buggy whip production.
Well, hey, it seems to be news for National Alabama. Now, if they just had some buyers for these new and improved rail cars...
Extremely interesting item on eBay; we're not even sure if it's legal to own or sell this: Link
Friday, December 10, 2010
Rogersville said no (maybe); Priceville said yes; and now some Lawrence Countians are petitioning for a wet/dry election. Apparently many in Moulton government are hoping the petition fails or, barring that, the actual vote will ensure Lawrence County remains dry.
Why? It seems with no home rule/zoning for Alabama counties, it's much easier to maintain law and order in wet cities (think Florence) than wet counties (think Colbert). Pro-liquor forces in Lawrence have stated Moulton officials simply want to keep the revenue reserved for that newly wet town. So far, the petition has not accumulated enough signatures to warrant an election.
Here's a charming Christmas memory from our friend Mary Carton:
My siblings and I grew up on an active dairy farm in Northwest Alabama. Dad would get up early, milk, bottle it and then head out on his milk route. In the afternoon, they would hit the fields, come home to milk the cows, and come in late, so we didn’t get to see much of my Dad. It is rare that Alabama gets snow, much less a white Christmas, but this year we got snow on Christmas Eve! Christmas morning we went out to play and there in the snow were two sled tracks, small hoof prints in between the tracks going across the yard stopping short of the basement door. We also found Santa’s boot prints going to the door. At last we found the answer of how Santa got into our house without a chimney! Years later we found out that the boot prints were Dad’s going to the basement to bring out a merry go round, which explained the sled tracks. The hoof prints turned out to be the dogs following behind Dad. Our parents had spent half the night putting together the merry go round and had to get up early to milk.
Be sure to place Mary's blog Rosedale Gardens on your regular reading list: Link
Thursday, December 9, 2010
This planet and everything on it is decaying--that goes for you, us, and certainly for the ephemera that make up much of museum exhibits. It certainly shouldn't have come as a shock to anyone that exhibits at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in Tuscumbia were deteriorating. The current question seems to be what to do to slow this process.
Since the Shoals area has several museums of various sizes and a medium sized university that also houses such exhibits, one would think there would be several curators in northwest Alabama who would be glad to assist the HOF gratis. Of course, this is not the bureaucratic way.
According to an article in the December 6th TimesDaily, a Utah librarian is having one of his students work on securing a grant from the Grammy foundation that would finance his trip here to study the problem: An associate Preservation librarian at the University of Utah’s Marriott Library, Silverman has a student who is writing a proposal for a grant from the Grammy Foundation.
The same article states that HOF employee Dixie Connell, with the help of Nancy Gonce is writing the grant: Connell said she and board Chairman John Briggs met with Grammy Foundation officials this summer to discuss a grant. Their proposal was accepted and she began writing the grant proposal.
Perhaps both are writing grant requests for this study, a study that will bring Utah librarian Randy Silverman here to assess the museum's preservation problems. After all, since he's from Utah and is charging the HOF, he must be better at preservation than any local curator who might have offered the same services free of charge.
Or perhaps the article was just badly written...or perhaps we shouldn't expect anyone in the Shoals to know who's on any base at any time, much less score. We're just glad it's the Grammy Foundation's money that is being used for this project rather than Alabama tax dollars.
Under the heading of even a stopped clock is right twice a day, we were pleased to read that the HOF has appointed Nashville attorney Hank Adam Locklin as an interim director. Locklin is the son of country music great Hank Locklin who died last year at the age of 91.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Is there anyone out there who wouldn't want a million dollars? Well, it's not totally free; you do have to pass a test first. According to many local folk, the test should be a snap to pass.
Here's the link:
So, if you can demonstrate how you desaturate digital photos to reveal friendly family ghosts or make audio tapes of ghosts who have the bad taste to linger around the Colbert County Court House, here's your chance to make some extra pocket change for Christmas.
We believe in some circles it's termed "being called out."
On a personal note, I once saw a stage magician transfer a twenty dollar bill from a sealed envelope to the inside of a piece of fruit; yes, same serial number, etc. Did it look convincing? It certainly did. Do I know how he did it? Haven't a clue.
I do know if the magician actually had this supernatural power, he would be, if honest, paid millions by various governments to secure sensitive military and industrial documents; or, if dishonest, rich beyond dreams with ill gotten gains from the billfolds of others.
The murder trial for David Darryl Thompson, the admitted killer of Killen nurse Melissa Garrett is underway in Lauderdale County. We have had several readers and bloggers contact us as to why we have not given the trial more coverage.
This was a horrible crime, committed while the victim's young daughter was in the home. We here at Shoalanda abhor violence against women and expect the verdict to be guilty as charged. Thompson should then be given the maximum sentence of life in prison. We do realize this is not always the case (think Shawn Shapley), but the Kenney-Garrett family is firmly behind the prosecution team--something the family of Shapley's victim was not.
There should be a verdict Friday or Monday, and we will report more then. Melissa's father, daughter, and friends have our total support.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
By J.J. Ray
Perhaps this time of year more than most provoke long lost memories of Christmases past. Though I did not participate in “Black Friday,” my wife did punish me severely the day after by going to Walmart. She shopped and I chose the book department. Scanning the best sellers, I noticed a very large thin book staring up at me from the bottom shelf. It was an illustrated “The Night before Christmas” originally penned as "A Visit from St. Nicholas" and authored by Clement Clarke Moore or Henry Livingston Jr. depending on whom you believe.
Some years ago, I was stuck in Hammond, Louisiana. because of an ice storm that passed through the south. After spending what seemed an eternity at a truck stop, reading that book in particular I finally summoned enough courage to try to get home for Christmas.
The journey was perilous but I managed to get behind a UPS truck and we talked on the CB radio all the way to Tuscaloosa. Exhausted because of the overnight trek I stopped at a large truck stop there. Walking into the restaurant it was almost empty save one wretched looking soul sitting at the counter.
Sitting down a chair away from him, I ordered some coffee. He was banged up and bruised. Curiosity got the best of me so I asked him what happened. The poor soul explained that he was from Australia and was on a walk-about through the US when some kids mugged him. He looked hungry and his hands were shaking so I bought him some breakfast and we talked about Australia for a while. The meal finished he said he had to be on his way. Reaching into my pocket, I gave him all the cash I had. This brought a tear to his eye and mine also.
Walking out I stopped to pay the tab when I decided to give him some more money. I took it off my credit card and returned to hand it to him. Looking around I could not see him. After all, we were the only two customers in the place and there was no way he could get passed me to exit. The server looked puzzled when I inquired about him saying, “There was no one there but me”. I ran outside but there was no one there. Puzzled, I once more questioned the server and explained his physical appearance; she replied, “I had been her only breakfast customer that morning”.
Now over the years of traveling which have been many this is the strangest experience I ever had and the most rewarding There is no way to explain the feeling I received when we shook hands good bye. It was like a peace I had never known before. The rest of the trip went on without any problem even though the roads were icy and treacherous. My wife had told me we had no power but that did not matter. All I could think about was that poor soul all alone and hurting or was he?
Each Christmas my thoughts return to that Christmas Eve and I wonder about him. Was he real, was he a spirit or an angel I needed desperately that particular Christmas? Whenever I am down my thoughts return to that morning and the present he gave to me. That gift was far greater than any amount of cash I could have given him. I have kept it in my heart all these years.
Have any of us entertained angels unaware? Perhaps many of us have and remain oblivious as to the good we have done--or perhaps the damage to our hearts if we've failed.
Thanks so much to J.J. for sharing this beautiful story of Christmas. Whether those we meet in need are angels or not, let's remember to consider the possibility.
Monday, December 6, 2010
By J.J. Ray
Local attorney and Zip City resident Janice Keeton has agreed to represent Santa. He appeared before Republican Judge Carol Medley this morning. Judge Medley set bond at $100.00, which was immediately posted by some local citizens. Sheriff Ronnie Willis was chided for using the combined SWAT Teams from Muscle Shoals and Florence to affect the arrest as they were training in the Zip City community.
The eight reindeer have been placed in protective custody and have gone on an apparent hunger strike because of the loss of their owner. Keeton referred to the arrest of the portly old soul as, “A travesty of justice by Commissioner Rhea Tays Michael Fulmer and nothing more than headline grabbing by Chris Smith”. Sheriff Willis had no comment at this time as he was still yawning.
Judge Medley has ordered a competency hearing for the purported Santa and is going to settle the case before Christmas Eve. District Attorney Chris Connolly notified the press that he would personally undertake the prosecution of this case. He stated in an interview that, “The county and nation has to be protected form usurpers like this because in my opinion there is no such person as Santa Claus and on top of that he is probably a Republican. I am sure the Attorney General Eric Holder will send some help down from Washington. There is also a possibility that this person could be an 'Illegal Alien'”.
Commissioner Rhea Tays Michael Fulmer stated in an interview that it was her sworn duty to protect the county from trash like this. Apparently the SWAT team could not locate any reflective cones to put around the sleigh as Commissioner Fulmer had ordered them locked up to keep them away from the EMA director lest he once again use them for something other than county business.
One of the arresting officers said at the scene, “This was a huge and smelly mess”, speaking of the debris left by the eight reindeer. He also stated that he could not understand the constant smile on the face of Commissioner Rhea Tays Michael Fulmer as the cuffs were placed on Santa. He related the smile as “Grinch Like”.
Here’s hoping that Attorney Keeton can affect a resolution of this case soon as the days are getting short before Christmas Eve. I will report from the Trial as it progresses.
There seems to be several new Christmas songs out this year. Here are some we predict will become classics:
Please Unwrap Me, Santa by Thelma & the Thongs
Viagra on the Niagara by Chuck Lansdell with backup by Hugh Hefner
Oh, Traffic Cone, Oh, Traffic Cone by Rhea & the Commissioners
It's going to be cold for the next few days; please remember to bring in your pets or provide them with warm bedding and drinkable water.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Zip City: Reports of an illegally parked red and white sleigh in northern Lauderdale County brought Commissioner Rhea Tays Michael Fulmer and County Attorney Chris Smith out in the cold early this morning. While investigating the case of felony parking, the two also discovered eight cases of animal cruelty.
A reluctant and sleepy Sheriff Ronnie Willis arrested the sleigh's portly owner, an elderly man with no known local address. He's currently being held without bail in the Florence-Lauderdale Detention Center.
Fulmer and Smith immediately called a press conference to announce this was only the tip of the north polar iceberg. Sources say we can expect the arrest of approximately one hundred elves before the end of the month.
Fulmer and Smith's Republican opposition in the 2012 county elections have announced their own investigation into the matter, stating that the arrest serves no purpose in deterring county crime. Privately they have also suggested there may not be a Christmas for anyone under the age of ten this year.
When asked about this possible repercussion of the arrest and subsequent impoundment of the sleigh, both Fulmer and Smith referred all questions to a furry green man in the company of a small dog with antlers. More on this as it develops.
Cherokee: The Cherokee Lions Club served almost 150 guests at its annual Breakfast with Santa. Congratulations to all these Lions and Lionettes for a job well done.
The Shoals: Be aware of a new phone scam similar to the one involving Listerhill Credit Union last year. The current phone calls involve SunTrust bank and have been traced to Honduras. SunTrust is aware of this new scam, but if you should receive a call purporting to be from another institution, be sure to report it to the bank or credit union referenced.
If you've had problems viewing the new Internet magazine The Connection, these glitches should now be taken care of. Part II in their investigative report on Rhea Fulmer's ethics complaint against George Grabryan is scheduled for early in the week. We look forward to their in depth look into what has become a misuse of both county time and state resources.
Saturday, December 4, 2010
The above scene depicts Cherokee in the 1890s. Unfortunately, judging from recent events in that small Colbert County town, we're unsure how much has changed since then.
The Facebook site Public Meetings of Cherokee, Alabama is now up and running with video from not only council meetings, but also from library and water board meetings. We urge anyone interested in Cherokee's future to become a fan of this site, as well as a regular visitor. Not everyone can schedule time to attend these important meetings, but now they can keep abreast of these events with their own eyes and ears--all thanks to a conscientious Cherokee videographer.
Thanks to Joseph Robert Tully for contacting us concerning Anderson's new police chief. Since May, Karla McGee has been in charge of this East Lauderdale town's police department. McGee is a former police chief for Waterloo. Sources say Chief McGee is attempting to rebuild the town's police department and has made great progress since problems first came to light last February.
Congratulations to Deshler for once again making it to the State Playoffs! Yes, we're disappointed they didn't win, but just making the finals once again is a major achievement--something our local sportswriters seem to have lost sight of. Let's hope they know that the entire city of Tuscumbia is proud of their team.
Friday, December 3, 2010
An article in today's TimesDaily lists Mark Bowers as the former police chief of the small Lauderdale town of Anderson. Last February, the Anderson town council terminated the entire reserve force and asked for Bowers' resignation. Bowers refused, and we have neither heard nor read more on the situation until today.
Apparently Bowers left Anderson last May to join the Hanceville police force; however, online records still list Bowers as chief of the small town. Anderson has a population of around 350, with an unemployment rate of over 10%. Perhaps this position is still unfilled?
Congratulations to Shoals recording artist Gary Nichols on his new album. The Way We Do it Down South will be released on December 7th and features songs by various local writers including John Paul White.
If you haven't yet heard Gary, here's a link to his MySpace page: Gary Nichols MySpace Music
We think you'll enjoy these samples, but they are only samples. What better Christmas gift than a complete album by Gary?
Remember the Majestic Theatre in Florence? Link