Monday, January 31, 2011

Cherokee on Eve of Destruction?/HKH's Country Club Business Style

Cherokee on Eve of Destruction - Part I

By C.R.

Budget Battle Looming

This coming Tuesday the Cherokee City Council will meet and decide what to do about the city's dwindling finances. During the last city council meeting several ideas were tossed around. One idea was to stop paying for the diesel fuel for the Cherokee Rescue Squad and Fire Department. The city pays over one thousand dollars a month to provide the fuel to the two volunteer organizations. During the meeting the Cherokee Fire Department Assistant Chief and Fire Marshal spoke and advised cutting off the fuel funding would cause fire insurance to go up for the cities citizens. The vote would cause the ISO Rating to go up and cause rates to increase. I would like to point out that this is false. There are around thirteen volunteer fire departments in Colbert County and only four of them receive free fuel from a city. The four are Muscle Shoals, Tuscumbia, Sheffield, and Cherokee. The ISO Ratings are based on a lot of things but not on who pays for the fuel. The Assistant Chief and Fire Marshal suggested that cutting the pay of the police officers could help save money.

The City of Cherokee is also paying a seven hundred dollar a month truck payment for the fire department. During the Willis administration Fire Chief Chuck Lansdell told the Cherokee City Council that an older model city fire truck with a five hundred gallon tank did not meet ISO standards and if they did not purchase a new truck the ISO ratings could go up. Lansdell told the city council that they had to buy a new fire truck. Lansdell purchased a bush truck that has a three hundred gallon tank. After buying the truck the ISO Rating is still the same. The rating did not drop after the purchase of the new bush truck. Looks like the city council got took.


Currently the city has seven full time employees; two city/sewer workers, one city/court clerk, and four police officers. In private the city council is considering major cuts in the police department. The city council wants to cut three full time police officers and make the positions part time. There are a lot of drugs and break-ins in Cherokee and this would have a disastrous effect on the city. This could run away the few businesses that are left in town.

Mayor Lansdell and Councilwomen Lambert proposed to cut the four hundred and thirty dollar payments to employees that decline the cities health insurance. At least four employees receive the payments.

Stop Payments Until Audit

I am sure everyone has heard about the Colbert County 911 office worker that allegedly took money from the 911 office. Well this person was also the Cherokee Rescue Squad Treasurer. It is alleged that the same person took money from the rescue squad and it was discovered that money was taken. Another rescue squad member and local business owner paid the money back and law enforcement was not contacted. This is not the only alleged misdeed going on at the rescue squad by its members. Several rescue members were swimming at a fellow member’s house and the pool pump went out. The rescue squad bought a new pump for the member. Who is this member with the broken pump? It is alleged that the member is Mayor Lansdell.

During Christmas the rescue squad gave its volunteer commander five hundred dollars for running a lot of calls. The rescue squad has not missed a call for over a year. No other members received any money for their service. The commander lives at the Cherokee Fire department with his school age son. Who is allowing the rescue squad commander to live at the fire department? Could it be no other than Fire Chief/rescue squad member/Mayor Lansdell? Could this be payback?

It is also alleged that city property has been taken and given to the fire department under the direction of the Mayor. Manly light bars, when a new light bar is ordered for the city fire truck the old one is taken off and put on another none city fire truck. The red lens could be changed out and used on the city’s police cars. This costs the city money.

To be continued tomorrow...


Two interesting new sites:

Ripples From Sweetwater (a new blog that we hope to hear more from)

Sweetwater Memories (a Facebook page similar to Remembering Florence)


More on Helen Keller Hospital from a reader. This source has given us much info before and has not yet been in error:

Huntsville has been paying the administrators at Keller a while before it came out in the paper. The hospital even though it’s loosing money pays country club dues for them. From what I understand in the agreement with Huntsville Hospital, if Keller is sold Huntsville has right of first refusal. If it is sold to another group, HH gets 50% of the money. I haven’t seen a copy of the agreement to confirm this.

In the agreement that has been going on for a few years, Cardiology services not offered at Keller, the patient is sent to Huntsville even though it is offered at ECM. If the patient said they wanted to go to ECM instead of HH, the patient was told they needed to find another Cardio. So you have the travel expenses, plus hotel and miscellaneous costs that are a hardship on the family. With the latest agreement it expands to other services such as gynecology. Keller wanted to be the big dog and call the shots in the failed agreement between Coffee Health and Huntsville. That’s the biggest reason it failed not CHG debt.


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Where's Mallard Fillmore When You Need Him?

We're not usually too enamored of the comic strip Mallard Fillmore. Obviously most newspapers carrying the strip do so in order to balance Doonesbury or other cartoons that may be considered of the liberal genre. Still we hope the conservative duck was on alert last Friday when most newspapers carried articles on the anniversary of the Challenger disaster. In case you missed this quote from a TimesDaily article, let's play "Which One Doesn't Belong Here?"

There has been a growing list of calamities since then: Waco, Oklahoma City, Columbine, 9/11, Space Shuttle Columbia, Katrina, Virginia Tech, and now Tucson.

We hope none of our readers had difficulty in finding the odd man out. Why in the name of J. Edgar Hoover would Waco belon
g in a list of calamities/tragedies that affected innocent citizens? We realize the TD doesn't proof its own articles, much less those of the Associated Press, but hope springs eternal. Perhaps our local rag could at least find a volunteer to check content before it's published.


While on the subject of cartoons, we've previously mentioned the often offensive Argyle Sweater. Did any among us truly find a joke about Walt Disney's frozen head to be humorous--tastefully or otherwise? For a paper so afraid of offending local business interests, the TD doesn't seem to put much thought into what's published in a family oriented section.


It seems Cherokee has recently been a focal point for even more controversy. We'll have a full report from C.R. tomorrow.


Saturday, January 29, 2011

HKH Loses CEO/Cherokee Loses First Lady

Helen Keller Hospital is losing its longtime Chief Executive Officer Bill Anderson; however, plans for a search for his replacement are already in place. Huntsville Hospital CEO David Spillers will be leading the search. Spillers say he knows what the Sheffield based hospital needs.

We have no lack of faith in Spillers' qualifications in deciding what any medium sized hospital needs in order to run efficiently and economically. We do hope the Huntsville CEO will take the opinions of Colbert Countians into consideration. It is their hospital...or at least it was.


It seems Tina Lansdell has left Cherokee Mayor Chuck Lansdell and is joining the opposing camp. We have no word on whom she will actually support in the next mayoral election, but we do have a (slightly edited) report from J. J. Ray:

It has been confirmed that the wife of Mayor Señor De La Viagra has separated herself from him. Apparently, the posting on his facebook page struck a painful nerve with the missus. Apparently the facebook episode was the last straw that ended 18 years of marriage.

The fire and rescue squad was observed meeting in a Tuscumbia restaurant on Monday without Mayor Señor De La Viagra. Something must be amiss in the quaint village. My goodness, has the mayor sinned and been caught?

Perhaps he is a candidate for the Pillory instead of the city clerk Mrs. Malone. I hope this is a reprieve for her and perhaps the alienated spouse of the mayor would like the rotten vegetable concession for the cad. Apparently, Karma has struck the mayor with a vengeance.


Tuscumbia Post Office in mid-1950s: Link

Related Posts: Tuscumbia Post Office Mural


Friday, January 28, 2011

Ron Sparks Gets a Raise

As Agriculture Commissioner, Ron Sparks made $79,026.00 annually. Now as Gov. Bentley's pick to direct the newly minted Rural Development Office, he'll be making 80K a year. Where else but in Alabama politics? Several pundits have already commented on Bentley's lack of organization...and from our point of view, they were being overly kind. Of course, Sparks is nothing if not rural and he's done quite a bit of developing of his own finances...


Two local items were on the January 2011 Certificate of Need meeting canceled by Gov. Bentley. You may see the entire agenda here: Link


Want to hear more from Mo Brooks? Or would that be less? It seems Mo is now on Twitter. Shades of TK the AG, you can find him at MoInTheHouse.

Okay, we have to say it, please tell us it doesn't include audio clips of Rep. Brooks rapping...


Will it be a Publix? Or a Whole Foods? With our luck, it'll be a new Pete's Meats...


Thursday, January 27, 2011

South of the Tennessee River...

Barry Obama and the Redheaded Step Children

By J.J. Ray

Most will be wondering what Barry has to do with the redheaded stepchildren south of the Tennessee River. The answer is nothing right now. Actually many folks have asked me to quote on the State of The Union address by Barry. The Pepto-Bismol was ready and I took some after the speech. The nausea left and I slipped serenely into sleep. Of course, there is nothing that we can do about the rhetoric and baldfaced misnomers he loosed except shrug and hope for better days in 2012.

Now about the rest of us that live on the south side of the river in cities like Muscle Shoals, Sheffield, and Tuscumbia. Has anyone ever wondered why we have to go to Florence all the time to eat or shop leaving our tax dollars in Lauderdale County when they should stay here? Driving through the main shopping areas on any given night, the eateries are full and store parking lots are full of Colbert county tags. Where have our leaders on the south side been? Asleep at the wheel apparently. What happened to our mall--it sits empty, the new Wilson Dam road, restaurants or Movie Theater?

Apparently, Tuscumbia, Sheffield and Muscle Shoals are content to remain the epicenter of the world for minimum wage employment. Mr. Mayors, why do we not have large chains moving here? Oh, I forgot we have a Billion Dollar White Elephant in Barton, that great golf course in Ford City and 43 new jobs coming to Wise Alloys. Mercy, I may have to increase my heart medication the shock is to great.

Could it be the liquor on Sunday law in Florence? Perhaps. The real reason however is much deeper than that. How about the old south mindset and the old money portrayed in so many books and movies. Why if the folks over here were to make a living wage instead of minimum wage, poverty could decrease and they might have a say in government. My goodness prosperity could set in, crime might go down and then the minimum wage folks would not have to live like third-rate citizens. The old money and lazy politicians would lose control of the minimum wage workers and that would be calamitous for them. They might have to move into the 21st Century.

Why are the armies that threw out the bums last election not ringing the phones at city halls? Why do we have to fly to Memphis and change planes to get to Atlanta? That is kinda like going around your elbow to get to your thumb. Bottom line is it is not necessarily the economy but the reluctance of our civic leaders to actually do their job. While we are talking about leaders, has anyone seem the phantom representative Mo Brooks over on this side of the state or our State Senator Abstaining T. Irons?

Be proactive--take a stand. Call or write those in charge get involved don’t just gripe. After all, we do pay their salaries they are supposed to work for us not the reverse.


Another great column from J.J., and we understand he has a big story lined up. Stay tuned for a shocker...


For all you on Facebook, be sure to check out Larry Fisher's Remembering Florence page. He's begun to sign off each day with a very interesting quote.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Gangstas fo' Profit; Gunstas fo' Fun

Gangsters, aka ganstas, use weapons to secure ill-gotten gains; gunsters, aka gunstas, use guns to have fun. That's right--they just wanna have fun...along with protecting their own and killing the odd stray animal. Who could find fault with this?

Yesterday's TimesDaily published an in depth article on the size of ammunition clips available in the United States. Here's what three well-respected law enforcement officers had to say:

“Extended magazines should not be allowed on handguns.” Bobby Timmons, President of the Alabama Sheriffs Association

“As an officer, I would not want to come across someone with one of those things with evil intent.” Colbert County Sheriff Ronnie May

“There’s no need for a law-abiding citizen to need that many rounds.”
Florence Police Chief Rick Singleton

Are there those out there who disagree? Apparently so, judging from some of the comments on the TimesDaily forum. Here's a few remarks of rebuttal in green; our comments in red:

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. Notice the term "well regulated militia."

I say that if citizens can't have it, COPS or the military shouldn't have it either.
Wow, we can't wait to get our first nuclear ground to air missiles.

I can’t reload fast with only one hand which is arthritic.
Sir, if it takes you 30 shots to disable the home intruder(s), sorry, but you'll be gone first any way.

Now, for those who still may be in doubt, or those who just like to make jokes about men and their guns, here's a most interesting article (PG-13):

Scientists Discover That No Matter How Many Guns You Own...


The results for the Red Mountain Theatre search for Tracy poll should be published sometime today. Here's a link to their Facebook page: Link


Another Sheffield Centennial flag: Link


Monday, January 24, 2011

Bentley's Edict: Where Does It Leave ECM?

If you haven't heard, our new governor has steered our ship of state into some uncharted medical waters; specifically, on Tuesday he ordered that the Certificate of Need Board not meet until further notice. When this notice might come or what those facilities with petitions before the board will do until then is unknown.

It was a given that Helen Keller Hospital would contest any expansion by ECM and the Coffee Health Group, but if anyone saw Dr. Bentley's take on medical expansion coming, we're not aware of it. We're sure RegionalCare is lobbying furiously to end this moratorium.


Want to see Stephanie Smith of Rogersville play the lead in Hairspray? Today's the last day to vote: Link


Any Cloverdale Dairy collectors out there: Link


Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Tale of Two Houses (Or It Just Ain't Cooth)

Their children long grown, the old couple continued to live in their Victorian home in downtown Florence. The old man died first, then his wife. Paint began to peel from the wooden exterior as dust thickly coated the home's furnishings. Next door the couple's son sat, partially disabled and drifting into a world of his own.

Vandals entered the vacant edifice, spray painting the walls and breaking the light fixtures, but the son still refused to sell the property. Shrubbery grew without fear of the pruning shear, and the old Victorian lady began to look like...well, like what the Jaycees wanted to use it for...a haunted house.

The son was livid. Use his parents home for something as tawdry as a spook house? How dare they even ask? The word "shotgun" was used, and the young Jaycees quickly exited the old man's home. Both houses are now apartment buildings, their once elegant furnishings long removed, but at least the son died knowing he had preserved the home of his youth from such an ignominious fate.

Ah, but you say it was for a good cause. Let's take a quick look at the cash-strapped Smithsonian Institution. The Washington based Smithsonian has recently been seeking uses for its Arts and Industries Building erected during the nation's centennial; however, they have steadfastly refused such "undignified" endeavors as nightclubs, hotels, or similar functions.

Apparently those now in partial control of Sweetwater Mansion have no such qualms. We were recently contacted by the Committee to Save Sweetwater, asking for information. Unfortunately, at this time we have very little info that has not been widely dispersed over the years. We can enumerate some of the indignities the once elegant home has been forced to endure in the name of fund raising: Promotional posters in black and orange depicting bats flying from the attic, ghost hunts led by a stage magician, book signings by a UFO/Bigfoot paranormalist, and now a horror movie filmed at the home.

Yes, Tormented is scheduled to be released January 31st to various film festivals. We'll leave you with the trailer, apparently entitled a Public Service Announcement by the filmmakers. Public Service? We concur completely...just not for the same reasons, we're sure.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Wallace Sears & An Ambitious Idea

Wallace Sears has an ambitious idea--he plans to make a 90 minute movie about the early recording industry in Muscle Shoals. Apparently the only thing holding Mr. Sears back is a lack of funding...and, to be perfectly honest, perhaps his association with the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in Tuscumbia.

This kind of publicity would be invaluable to the area. Let's hope our local governments take note and intervene to get this film in theatres as soon as possible. Sears states he has one thousand venues lined up once the film is completed.

Good luck, Mr. Sears and all those working on the film: Link


One of the writers for the film Sweet Home Alabama: The Music of Muscle Shoals is Terry Pace. Terry does a tremendous job with his Florence Library film series, as well as Pillar of Fire Productions. Terry is also involved in many other projects for which he receives no credit.

We can't think of anyone more fitting for a local hero than Terry Pace. Thank you, Terry, for all your efforts in bringing first class entertainment to the Shoals.

What's up with this: The Franklin County Firefighters' Association had long suspected treasurer Pam Gay Taylor of theft? What? They didn't want to hurt her feelings? Well, it is Franklin County.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Gulfstream (a/k/a Wing & A Prayer) Airlines

Why will no big name airlines bring service to the Shoals? Perhaps since most frequent flyers prefer to drive to Huntsville or other larger cities to embark, these airlines know the downward spiral will never stop. Fewer passengers mean higher fares, and higher fares mean fewer passengers.

A reader sent us this comparison:

Muscle Shoals to San Francisco Round Trip - $518.40, with travel time of 9.5 hours

Nashville to San Francisco Round Trip - $232.80, with travel time of 7.5 hours

Huntsville to San Francisco Round Trip - $360.80, with travel time of 7 hours

Birmingham to San Francisco Round Trip - $366.80, with travel time of 7 hours

(Travel time approximate)

Now, who wants to fly from Muscle Shoals? Apparently Gulfstream Air is willing to take a chance that at least some will choose the Colbert County town as their favorite point of embarkation, but why? Gulfstream has faced some serious problems in the past year.

Gulfstream Files Chapter 11

Inspector Wanted to Ground Gulfstream

Gulfstream Airlines to be Sold

Many thanks to Bryan Van Devender for the links associated with this story. Obviously at this point, if we need unbiased info on any topic concerning the Shoals area, we need to consult Google rather than the TimesDaily.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Let's Improve Our Airport & Do Away With The National Debt

Like today's blog title? The two topics are not even related, you say? Yes, they do have one commonality: Both may be impossible.

We've recently been focusing on improving the Shoals and have stated the easiest thing we can do as individuals is demand an area wide cleanup. So, technically, a few coats of paint and perhaps some architectural renovations could improve our airport, but is this what we think of when discussing how to better the Northwest Alabama Regional Airport?

We've heard great misgivings concerning the past makeup of the Airport Authority Board, but often the representative chosen by various Shoals governments is the only one who applied. This seems surprising in itself since being a member of the Airport Board sounds vastly more appealing than, say, the City Dump and Refuse Committee. Finding those to serve on any local board is a major problem in this area. The only larger problem seems to be acquiring the then necessary approval for the new member.

There's no easy answer to this lack of interest, but we do suggest replacing the small classified announcement of such openings with a larger ad. The improved quality of applicants would be well worth the extra expense.

However, a lack of local interest in airport governance is hardly the most pressing problem. What's an airport without air service? A local wag has suggested we could turn the runway into a drag strip, but obviously the field will always be needed by local pilots. The questions: Is that all we expect from the Northwest Alabama Regional Airport?

Tomorrow: Gulfstream Airlines


More on Eyesores:
We will be limiting our list to the ten worst eyesores in the Shoals--at least those known to us. As one is taken care of, we will add another to take its place. Please continue to send in your nominations on commercial eyesores.


Florence American Legion Home 1946: Link


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sarah's Oil/Vote For Local Shelters

Defending Sarah and Her Oil

By J. J. Ray

Today has been a real record breaker with folks wanting me to defend Sarah Palin. I gave it some serious thought and decided to have a look. Here we have a woman from a small town in Alaska who was elected mayor. Because she did such an outstanding job, she was elected governor and then became a candidate for Vice-president in the '08 campaign. She moved from a salary of $125,000.00 per year to a little less than 20 million two years later. This woman is anything but stupid, as those who make a lot less money would have us believe. In fact, most of them are unknown on the national stage. My only regret is that I am not as dumb as she is.

I do not know how many readers watched her on the Fox Network show with Greta but they went to ANWAR and filmed it. We were told the area was pristine land with mountains and wild game everywhere where the drilling was to be done... What a lie. The area is just flat tundra, which is frozen most of the year, with little to no game. Can anyone say liar, liar pants on fire to those liberals for that big one?

As to the oil there, a report by the U.S. Geological Survey estimated that there was between 5.7 billion barrels and 16.0 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil in the designated 1002 area, and that most of the oil would be found west of the Marsh Creek anticline. That’s a lot of oil.

The reserved area in Alaska where ANWAR is located is One Million Nine Hundred Thousand acres. Do you know how large the entire drilling area including all compound buildings, the drilling rig, support buildings, vehicle/equipment storage areas, living quarters and all items necessary to get the oil out of the ground would be? If you don't know feel free to estimate. “6 acres”, about the size of the Walmart in Florence.

Do not news channels like CBS, CNN, ABC & NBC along with the Democrat party make it seem like the entire state of Alaska and all forms of life, as we know it will be tainted forever if drilling in ANWAR were permitted.

Liberal spin--nothing like it. What was that comment used in the movie Forrest Gump “Stupid is as stupid does.” Who then are the stupid ones?

Americans are now paying other countries some $1.15 billion per day for continued dependence upon foreign oil. That is 482 billion dollars per year at current prices. The plan is to stop all coal usage also.

Now that makes perfect sense doesn’t it? I guess she is right about our energy problem. Perhaps that is why those wily liberals fear her. Stupid she is not. Perhaps Cherokee could entice her to come visit. That would make some great news. Hey, people over there in Cherokee land I have her address if you would like to write.


Animal Rescue Site 2011 Shelter Challenge - Here's the chance to vote for local shelters. Let's make a difference.


We've received several photos of private homes that are undoubtedly eyesores. We may in future publish these snapshots, assuming we can verify the street addresses. At present, we are limiting our "Eyesore Awards" to local businesses. Today we're adding Bama Signs in Russellville.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Jefferson Davis? Really?

According to M.J. Ellington, Montgomery based reporter for both the TimesDaily and the Decatur Daily, yesterday was not only the holiday honoring the birth of Martin Luther King Jr. but also a state holiday dedicated to Jefferson Davis.

Perhaps Ms. Ellington had President Davis on her mind since our new governor referred to him in his inaugural address...or perhaps she doesn't know the difference between Davis and Gen. Robert E. Lee? Obviously she has some brushing up to do for the sesquicentennial.


Bloggers being only human (yep, we're pretty sure), sometimes become tired, or retire, of perhaps just take a vacation. We've recently deleted two links from our blog list due to inactivity. Rest assured, if these blogs are resurrected, we will again add them to our "must read" list. In the mean time, we're adding On the Road Again, a weight loss blog by our favorite Brown Recluse.


We hope everyone will read one of our newer blogs today...Dino's Deliberations. Today's topic is a fact of life for most of us at some point in our lives. We hope you'll view the video and the beautiful picture of Molly and remember those who are no longer at your side.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Our New Governor: "Doctor" Bentley

What do you think of when you hear the word "doctor?" Perhaps many immediately think of a physician, but there are also many for whom the word conjures up images of the halls of academia. At some point today, the State of Alabama will have a new governor--a dermatologist no less. He is neither businessman nor seasoned politician, and many have no idea what to expect from this oddity.

Considering the alternative--Ron Sparks--we're happy that we will now have Dr. Bentley to call governor. Yet, deep inside at least a few of us harbor the nagging fear that we have elected Guy Hunt with a medical degree. We need look no further than the campaign to find our first reason for misgivings. From the October 8, 2010, Dothan Eagle:

Before the governor’s race began, Bentley was well known in the Tuscaloosa area as both a state legislator and a dermatologist. “Everybody in Tuscaloosa knows him as Dr. Bentley,” said Angi Smith, Bentley’s campaign manager. “That’s who he is.”

Bentley’s campaign planned to build the “Dr.” title into his marketing, Smith said, with signs that read “Dr. Robert Bentley” and an ad campaign stating “Alabama needs a doctor.”
Smith said GOP leaders were initially fine with Bentley appearing on the primary ballot with his medical title listed as part of his name. She said the party leadership later changed their minds and told Bentley he could use only his legal name.

“Someone suggested that he could solve that pretty simply by going down to the probate office and changing his name to Dr. Robert Bentley,” Smith said. “It cost 17 or 18 dollars.”
So, on March 30, Robert Julian Bentley became Dr. Robert Bentley.

But party leaders refused to yield, Smith said, telling Bentley he couldn’t use “Dr.” as his name on the ballot.
On April 5, Bentley spent another $17 or $18 at the probate office, and again became Robert Julian Bentley.

Let's just collectively say, "Only in Alabama," and pray for the best.


What if other politicians followed Bentley's example of selecting a political moniker to fit their reputation? We can see it now...

Pork Passin' Bedford

Abstaining T. Irons

Cartwheel Black

Traffic Cone Tays

You gotta admit, it would make for a more fun ballot.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Larry Fisher & Ben Tate--Getting It Right

Ramon's on South Court Street

Today the TimesDaily published an extremely well done piece on Remembering Florence, the Facebook page run by Florence native Larry Fisher. Thanks to Tom Smith for an excellent article on an endeavor that adds to our city and the entire Shoals area.

We've done blogs on Larry's contributions to our area before, but today we're going to add Ben Tate to the list of those who are selflessly attempting to improve our town's image. Ben is an excellent photographer. If you haven't yet seen his many original photographs, you are in for a treat. Ben has spent countless hours documenting Florence as it is today; those who come after us will undoubtedly learn more about our town in the early 21st Century from his work than from any other source.

However, if you haven't yet visited the site, don't expect it to be all new photos. Old images are appearing every day. We're going to compare it to YouTube's cache of old Hank Williams videos--images no one knew existed.

We've called Larry a hero before for standing up to those from Sweetwater who were verbally abusing anyone who asked questions about its owner and its finances. Now, we're calling him a hero twice over for his time-consuming work of love.


TimesDaily Article

Remembering Florence

Meet Larry Fisher

Larry Fisher Fan Page



Saturday, January 15, 2011

Pam Casey to be Sworn in as Youngest Female DA

Tomorrow, Pamela Casey is scheduled to become Alabama's youngest female district attorney. Pam will be sworn in as the Republican District Attorney for the 41st District; speaking at the ceremony will be K K Edgill-Hargett of Muscle Shoals. Look for Pam to become an influence in state politics in the near future. We're predicting a run for Lt. Governor in 4 to 8 years down the road.


Sex offender activist Derek Warren Logue has announced he's returning to Ohio to live. Why? It seems the cost of living in Sheffield is just too high. Sheffield? Sheffield, Alabama?


Are you a fan of Paranormal State, the A&E series that chronicles regional spirits? It seems the show just finished filming this past Wednesday at controversial ante bellum mansion Sweetwater. When word leaked out locally, several individuals attempted to observe the filming, much to the dismay of those currently in control of Sweetwater. Angela Zills, "historical archivist" for the old Weeden Home, quickly posted on the site's Facebook page, "Closed Set!" Who knew ghosts needed so much privacy?


O.B.'s Corner has just posted Sweetwater...Fail...Part II.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Winners...Plus Some Users & Abusers

Congratulations to those who are being sworn into office today. William Smith tells us that the investiture ceremonies for Billy Jackson, Carole Medley, and Gil Self will be at 3:00 p.m. in the Fifth Floor Courtroom of the Lauderdale County Courthouse. The public is invited to attend the event.

Users: There seem to be new storms brewing concerning the renovation of Sweetwater Mansion, aka the Weeden Home. We have no idea how many underage (or adult) volunteers are involved in the interior part of the restoration, but O.B.'s thoughts on the matter are well worth reading...

Abusers: We offer the following account in the "For What It's Worth Department." This short narrative of Andrea Gonzalez' death was sent to us quite some time ago. If it should be true, it's unfortunate that the tale doesn't include the disposition of the body. We doubt the skull found in the Fox Trap Community north of Russellville is that of the missing girl. If it should be, we would hope either Kim or Paul Gonzalez would come forward with more information concerning Andrea's death.

An alleged communication from Kim to her mother that was then forwarded to a third party:

Andrea was in bed between me and Paul. I heard her gagging and I woke up. She had vomited all over herself and had wet the bed. I took her to the bathroom and took off her pajamas. I tried to clean her up with a towel, but she kept fidgeting, so I decided to put her in the tub.

I ran the water and lifted Andi into the tub and she started screaming. I didn't think the water was that hot, but I lifted her out. She just kept on screaming. I told her to be quiet and not to wake up Paul. I figured he was pretty much out of it, but he didn't like to be woke up.

I got some Noxema and started putting it on her legs, but that just made her cry harder and she started to yell. In comes Paul and he was mad. He told her to shut up, but she didn't. Finally he slapped her and she fell and hit her head on the tub. I kept trying to wake her up, but she wouldn't come to. He didn't mean to do it.

A drug addicted prostitute for a mother, an abusive pot-head for a father, and a pregnant easily-controlled stepmother--which of these three was capable of raising Andrea? Obviously none of them. We hear over and over, "I would never give my child up to the state," or "I could never let my child be adopted." Really? Would you rather he or she ended up like Andrea? Think about it.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Shady Court Closes/Andrea Gonzalez' Skull?

We were about to add the Shady Court Motel on East 12th Avenue in Sheffield to our Eyesore list when a reader sent us a link concerning its closing. The building, open or closed for business, is still an eyesore; however, it is apparently no longer the home for several registered sex offenders.

The Alabama Department of Public Safety still lists three registered offenders as residing at the motel. We hope the Sheffield Police Department knows where these individuals are currently living...because the State seems to have no clue.


Above is a map of the Fox Trap Community (bottom right) in relation to Littleville in Colbert County. Last week a supposedly human skull was found in the Fox Trap Community--a skull that was initially identified as belonging to a child. Forensic investigators from Florence have since stated the skull is that of an adult; however, we've had several inquiries as to the possibility of the remains belonging to Andrea Gonzalez, the young girl who disappeared from her Russellville home in 1993.

For those who might not be aware of the details of Andrea's disappearance, here's a link giving the most accurate background for the troubled child: Link

Do we think the skull is Andrea's. No. We're not even sure it's human, considering the famous bear foot find of last year. If it is human, either an animal dragged the skull away from the rest of the body or the head was severed from the body and each dumped in different locations. We sincerely hope the skull does belong to an animal or a long-dead native American. The problem with the latter, due to the acidity of local soil, bones may totally decay in less than a century.

And if it is Andrea Gonzalez? Many months ago a reader sent us a transcript of a statement attributed to Andrea's stepmother Kim. We'll publish it tomorrow.


Looking for good news about Cherokee? Here's a new Facebook site: Remembering Cherokee


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

New Live Comedy Show: Our State Senate

That's right, our state senate will be offering streaming video to those of us who can't make it to every day of its regular sessions, special sessions, or not-so-special sessions:


Need a job in the Shoals? A local employment agency offers the following suggestions:

Kohl's, Pizza Hut, Terminex, J.C.Penney, Sears, Davita, AT&T, Sonic Drive-In, Murphy USA, Jo-Ann Fabrics, RGIS, Burger King, and K-Mart

Okay, that's a in jobs for those just out of high school or those looking for part-time extra work. What about those degreed individuals who have humongous college loans, a family to support, and wish to remain in the Shoals? Sorry, folks. Our source says "good luck with that."


Want to read more on what diseases are exacerbated by domestic violence? We had a reader ask for more info on the study we mentioned in yesterday's blog. We mistakenly attributed the article to Dr. R. Horan Jones. The study was published by Drs. R.F. Jones III & D. L. Horan. It can be found at this site: Link

Most public libraries subscribe to medical and legal databases, as do college libraries. You can read scholarly publications at these locations without cost.


Since the discovery of a supposedly human skull near the Colbert/Franklin County line, there has been much speculation concerning its origin. Tomorrow we'll publish an "eye witness account" of a Franklin County death that is still officially unsolved.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Remembering Florence/"He Just Failed As A Dad"

Look for the TimesDaily to do a story on the Facebook page Remembering Florence. Larry Fisher tells us the article may be published as early as this weekend.

Related Links:

Remembering Florence

Larry Fisher: Real Person, Real Hero


We're strong believers that those teachers who commit sex crimes should have their teaching licenses permanently revoked, but what about those guilty of domestic violence? Last week Muscle Shoals teacher/coach Jonathan D. Shirah was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of domestic violence against his wife. Shirah has seemingly always been known for his affable manner with students, but what about at home?

His daughter has characterized him as having "failed as a dad," while Mary Elaine Shirah's aunt has commented, "
I also know this is not the first, second or third abuse by Shirah. And you can see by so many nasty comments, why so many wives do not come forward about their abuse...Would your boss let you include in your job yelling, throwing things, hitting, punching, shoving, breaking things, throwing down a fellow employee like he threw his infant into a crib once upon a time...He got in her face after throwing her against the wall and started choking her until she saw stars and was passing out and he picked her up and threw her into a very thick glass topped kitchen table and it broke all to pieces and she landed on the floor with the broken glass covering her all over and three broke ribs among all the other bruises. If God had not protected her and she had not had on a thick turtle neck shirt and thick clothing, as she had just come in from the outside she would be dead today."

Elaine Shirah reportedly suffers from Crohn's disease, resulting in limited diet choices and loss of weight. In a 1997 paper, Dr. R. Horan Jones linked Crohn's disease to domestic violence. In other words, women who are the victims of abuse are much more likely to develop the disease, aka irritable bowel syndrome.

Does Shirah deserve to keep his teaching license? Elaine Shirah is filing for divorce. Without her to abuse, is it possible he will turn his anger toward his students? Our children deserve better...much better.

Related Links:

A Tale of Two Coaches

No Defense Here

*This link is to Margaret's Musings. If you don't read her blog, you are missing out on one of the best writers in the Shoals.


Local authorities are urging Shoals residents to refrain from driving until Thrusday. Please be careful if you have to venture out. Do so only during the day and remain on well-traveled highways and away from bridges. So far there have been few accidents in the Shoals; let's keep it that way.


Monday, January 10, 2011

Snow If You Get My Drift/Cherokee & Self-Destruction

Photo by Anita Pace

Snow If You Get My Drift

Powdery white topped with stunning bright
Blinds those who in its hold delight.
Gasps of cold produce a croak

From those who gambol in its wintry cloak.

What is missing as the white siren bids?

Alas, we have no trash can lids.

SS (who can remember when every home had a metal trash can)


Cherokee and Self-Destruction

By J.J. Ray

Tuscumbia attorney Rebecca Narmore has insinuated that I wish to see the city of Cherokee destroyed. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The city is doing quite well without much outside help. As a pundit, I only comment on what is or has happened on a variety of subjects. As an investigative journalist, my goal is to expose and tell the truth based strictly on the facts. The facts in Cherokee fortunately are a matter of public record in print and on video.

Having never lived in Cherokee I can only be an observer. Some years ago, I did have an opportunity to purchase a home there but fate intervened and I moved to another city, which was most fortuitous. In my years in the corporate world I have been witness to many companies self-destructing but nothing like the Cirque d Ole in Cherokee.

They have taken total destruction to a completely new level without much help from the outside world with a couple of exceptions and I think most know who that is. The tragic part of this completely sordid affair is that several members of the city council have tried in vain to do the right thing for the city. They along with the city clerk and the citizens of Cherokee end up the losers.

Fortunately, for the city council the law firm that will be defending this abhorrent lawsuit will do most of the exposing of the truth. Not the truth some would have us believe but the truth based on the record. The shame of this ridiculous situation is that it need not happen except for fear of prosperity plus the greed and the lust for control by some in the present and past city government.

The dynamic law of prosperity could be called the eighth wonder of the world. When you look at it and really see it, you will stand in awe. It is invisible but has very visible results. It is profound but simplistic.

Conversely, the “Fear of Prosperity” is a real dynamic, a type of cancer that infects city, county and national governments to fail along with businesses, churches and individuals. Why do some fail and others prosper? Let’s compare two cities here in the valley. Cherokee is broke and completely dysfunctional but Muscle Shoals is prosperous and efficient.

Then why is Muscle Shoals prospering? The leaders are proactive, practical, and function, as a governing body should, planning for present and future city growth. Cherokee suffers from internal gridlock floundering around in a sea of backward and reactive thinking unable to function at all.

With all this negativity, how many businesses would locate in Cherokee based on their current record? Unless it is the circus, none I suspect. Perhaps this lawsuit will be the final nail in the coffin of a once prosperous and functional city. Alternatively, could the election of 2012 hold a solution and stave off the death of the city? Who knows now?

One thing is certain most of us will sit back and watch, some with disgust, others with delight. Personally, I’ll just observe, comment, eat popcorn and enjoy the show.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Medicaid or Pork?/U.S. Constitution is Back in Vogue

Medicaid or Pork?

A Guest Commentary By

State Sen. Horatio Leander Smooter IV

First, thanks to Shoalanda for asking me to explain why our great state of Alabama can't add anymore Medicaid programs. Shoalanda, bless her heart, doesn't understand the way our overworked and underpaid state legislature works. She's like a lot of people who think a little honesty, mixed with some logic, could go a long way to fixing what's wrong with our state. Well, I'm here to tell you it can't be fixed, and even if it could be fixed, do you really want it fixed?

A lot of people talk about "pork" like it's a dirty word. Bless their hearts, it isn't. If it weren't for pork I wouldn't have been able to secure that Olympic size heated indoor pool for my hometown of U-Turn, Alabama, population 217. And let me tell you, the mayor's daughter really needed that pool more than anybody with cerebral palsy needs a home health aide. Yessir, Peaches Parker is going to the next Olympics and is going to put U-Turn on the map. Can you say the same about somebody with CP? Why, most of them don't even vote because they can't get a ride to the polls from the nursing home, bless their hearts.

Besides, our esteemed legislature has its hands full passing all those new get tough on crime laws. Any state can send a murderer to prison, but how many are willing to send an unemployed pregnant woman to prison for stealing a quart of milk and a loaf of bread. Bless their hearts, those pregnant women sure can eat, can't they?

I could go on all day about our wonderful legislature, but I'm going to have to cut it short. I have to be in the next county to testify for my gardener Jose'. Just because he's an illegal alien and raped those three nuns doesn't mean he should automatically be sent to prison. A good gardener is hard to find in U-Turn.

So you all think about what I've said and remember to keep voting for the same Democrats that have served the state so well all these years. Progress is overrated. As long as Alabama keeps on producing winning football teams, you should be happy. Money can't buy happiness you know. I'm just hoping it can buy the prosecutor in Jose's case.


U.S. Constitution is Back in Vogue

by Gary Palmer

One thing that we can count on in 2011, the United States Constitution will be front and center in policy making and politics. To start the year off, on January 6th the new Republican majority in the United States House of Representatives mandated that the Constitution be read from the floor of the House.

Frankly, simply reading the Constitution may not be enough. The Republicans may need someone on hand to explain it, especially to the remaining liberal members from the previous Congress who repeatedly voted for legislation that created the biggest expansion of the federal government since the New Deal.

Millions of Americans have engaged in the Tea Party movement because they want Congress to abide by the Constitution and the checks and balances that our Founders so meticulously developed and put into it to limit the scope and power of the federal government. In fact, the 2010 election was really a revolt by a majority of American voters against the out-of-control growth of government and the perception that we have lost the Constitution.

Apparently the Republicans in the House got the message.

According to the Republican House members who pushed for having the Constitution read from the floor, the purpose of having it read is to give emphasis to and raise public awareness about the limits on the power of our government that our Founding Fathers went to great lengths to ensure were in the Constitution. The Republicans have indicated that they will not be satisfied with simply reading the Constitution and then getting back to business-as-usual. They say they want to put the principles of limited government back into practice.

As Roger Pilon pointed out in The Wall Street Journal, the Constitution does not authorize much of what Congress has done to make states as well as individuals so dependent on the federal government. Over the years, Republicans and Democrats alike have taken advantage of provisions in the Constitution that were broadly written by the Founders to allow for contingencies to enact legislation that gives the federal government almost unlimited power. Thus, Constitutional government has been replaced by an administrative state ... a government of unelected bureaucrats whose names we may never know and whose agencies we may only be vaguely familiar with.

Already the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is implementing its own version of economy-crippling regulations that were part of the cap-and-trade legislation rejected by Congress. And the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is issuing regulations regarding end-of-life counseling that was removed from the health care bill because of public opposition to what was seen as "death panels." Liberals claim that the extension of bureaucratic government authority and power over practically every aspect of our lives is justified under the powers granted by the "Commerce Clause," the "General Welfare Clause" or the "Necessary and Proper Clause."

For instance, supporters of Obamacare cite the Commerce Clause as justification for the requirement that every individual have health insurance or face federal fines. Fortunately, the individual mandate provision in the national health care law has been ruled unconstitutional by a federal circuit judge. Other actions by the federal government such as the greenhouse gas regulations issue by the EPA are being challenged by states that have filed lawsuits claiming these actions are unconstitutional.

The requirement by the Republican majority in the House of Representatives to read the Constitution from the floor of the House and further require that all new legislation include the citation of specific constitutional authority is at least a step in the right direction toward restoring the Constitution as the guiding authority for American government. And it is a small step toward restraining the growth of government that threatens to bankrupt the nation. Requiring sponsors of bills to cite specific constitutional authority for the bills they want to pass should keep the Constitution at the forefront of the policy debate for the duration of this Congress and into the 2012 elections.

While reading the Constitution to open the 112th Congress and requiring citation of constitutional authority for every new bill introduced is great, the effort to restore constitutionally limited government will require more. As Pilon wrote, "Congress has to start taking greater responsibility. Congress must acknowledge honestly that it has not kept faith with the limits the Constitution imposes."

The Republican leadership must take responsibility for holding their own members accountable; they must be willing to challenge rulings by federal judges and they need to stand alongside the attorneys general from states that challenge the constitutionality of federal legislation and regulations in an effort to restore the proper balance between state and federal government.

The Republicans in Congress, along with any Democrats committed to restoring a constitutionally limited government, must pass legislation to rein in the out-of-control federal agencies that are exercising almost unlimited power over all of us.

It should be fairly easy to cite constitutional authority for legislation such as that.

Gary Palmer is president of the Alabama Policy Institute, a non-partisan, non-profit research and education organization dedicated to the preservation of free markets, limited government and strong families, which are indispensable to a prosperous society.

Note: This column is a copyrighted feature distributed free of charge by the Alabama Policy Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the author and API are properly cited. For information or comments, contact Gary Palmer, Alabama Policy Institute, 402 Office Park Drive, Suite 300, Birmingham, Alabama 35223, 205.870.9900, or email

hanks to our friend Mark Davis for the above commentary.


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Jonathan & Elaine Shirah: A Tale of Two Coaches

Jonathan D. Shirah is in his tenth year as track and field coach of the Muscle Shoals Trojans; his wife Mary Elaine has been volleyball coach for the Sheffield Lady Bulldogs. The parents of a teenage daughter and son would seem to have been living an ideal life. Jonathan Shirah has coached winning track teams the past few years, while Elaine has won her own awards in various local runs. Photos of the family look like adverts for Nordic Track. Yet, apparently not all was what it seemed with the Shirahs.

On Monday night, Tuscumbia Police were called to the Shirahs' home on Chess Lane in Tuscumbia's Colonial Heights, a neighborhood where houses are valued in the 200K range. There they found Mary Elaine Shirah lying on the floor, having been thrown "through a glass coffee table." Obviously the more expensive the table, the thicker the glass. Yet sources on home furnishings laud all such glass as extremely hard to break.

Who called the police and how long had Mary Elaine Shirah been lying where her husband had thrown her? These are still unanswered questions. We can state that her condition was such police felt the need for her to be checked out at the Emergency Room.

Jonathan D. Shirah spent the requisite 12 hours in jail--standard on domestic violence charges. Sources inform us that by Thursday morning he had returned to Muscle Shoals High School where he engaged in a verbal confrontation with the assistant principal. Shirah was then removed from the school by a Student Resource Officer.

Now Shirah has been charged with misdemeanor assault. It's only a stroke of fate that the coffee table glass broke in such a manner as to prevent serious injury--he could have conceivably been charged with Felony Murder at the end of the night's melee.

So far this week, Shirah has abused his wife and cursed his immediate superior; is this the kind of teacher Muscle Shoals wants to educate its youth? We have no idea where the Shirah marriage is headed, but judging from past events in Alabama, Jonathan D. Shirah will soon be teaching at some unsuspecting school in South Alabama.


A recent column by J.J. Ray questioned the ethics of Tuscumbia attorney Rebecca Narmore. Ms. Narmore has contacted us concerning the blog. According to Narmore:

I obtained an opinion from the Alabama State Bar General Counsel's office regarding my representation of Marsha Allen in her claim for backpay. The Alabama State Bar stated that I do not have a conflict in this matter. In the future, you might want to be careful as to whom you allow to post information and opinions about people and their work ethic. I do expect that the individual(s) who posted that article are the same ones set on destroying Cherokee. That doesn't surprise me because ethics is not in their vocabulary.

We are happy to make this addendum to the account of current legal actions in the Town of Cherokee; however, ethics is often, like morals, in the eye of the beholder. We're sure many local attorneys, having been terminated by the town, would never have looked back at the floundering municipality.

We will also add that J.J. Ray does not live in or near Cherokee. We doubt he wishes to see the town destroyed. If there should be any out there who do, it would seem all they need to do is wait--it's doing a pretty good job of destroying itself.


For the truly serious collector of Sheffield memorabilia: Link


Friday, January 7, 2011

Amanda Duboise Watkins Bipolar?

Was Amanda Duboise Watkins in the midst of a bipolar manic episode when she allegedly performed fellatio on a 15 year-old former student? The one-time junior high English teacher and her defense attorney Ralph Holt may well run this scenario up the flagpole. According to one psychiatric journal:

People with bipolar disorder experiencing hypersexuality may:

  • Have multiple sex partners
  • Think about sex constantly
  • Have one-night stands
  • Be more interested in pornography
  • Notice a difference in their sexual behaviors
  • Engage in other reckless behaviors like driving too fast or gambling
It's a pretty good guess the state's psychiatrist will play down any manic behavior in Watkins' past.

Related Posts: Delmer & Amanda Duboise Do...Their Students




The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has completed the draft environmental impact statement for the proposed disposal and redevelopment of 1,400-acre of its Muscle Shoals Reservation. We invite your comments on it; comments should be submitted by February 28, 2011. Copies are available at public libraries in the Muscle Shoals area and online at

See the website for more information on the proposal, instructions on submitting comments, and how to request a copy of the document. You may also contact:

Stanford E. Davis, Senior NEPA Specialist Tennessee Valley Authority
400 West Summit Hill Drive, WT 11D
Knoxville, TN 37902
Phone: 865-632-2915


Eyesore of the week: Travel east on Tennessee Street, enjoy the mix of old and new, stop at the traffic light on Poplar Street. The first five seconds are enjoyable. You're looking at the Knight & Humphries Real Estate office, a very attractive office. The second five seconds at the red light are less enjoyable. What's that rusted sign in front of the Knight & Humphries building? Is it a donut?

Yep, that's a rusted donut left over from the 1970s...or was it the 1960's. This sign is even more hideous than the WVNA white elephant adjoining McFarland Park. Surely Knight & Humphries can either find a fitting sign for their business or, if not, simply remove this monstrosity from the streetscape. Considering the work put into making their offices attractive to the passing public, they have to know this past its prime pastry is no selling point for their business.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Shoals Prosecution: They Can Preach It Either Way

A young preacher, badly in need of a job, sat before a church board. A member asked the aspiring applicant, "How do you feel about divorce and remarriage?" Without hesitation, the young preacher replied, "Just tell me how you feel. I can preach it either way."

Preaching it either way seems to be popular with local district attorneys. Yes, we realize not all cases are slam dunks; accepting a plea is often preferable to what could be unfavorable results in a jury trial. It's also preferable in many sexual abuse/rape trials in which the victim is young and testifying against the abuser is extremely traumatic.

A plea should never have been acceptable in the case of white supremacist Shaun Shapley. Shapley had a long record of drug use, assault, abuse of women, attacks on minorities, frivolous lawsuits, and...rape of his two stepdaughters. Psychologists have long theorized those who hate those of another race also hold women in low regard.

After killing the younger stepdaughter by strangulation, he attempted to cover up his crime by shooting her and testifying he was attempting to prevent her suicide. Yet, there were several who could have testified of the stepdaughter's claims of sexual abuse; DNA evidence proved Shapley was the father of the older stepdaughter's two children.

How was this man ever offered a plea of only 25 years? In Chris Connolly's own words:

At the hearing in which Shapley pleaded guilty, Connolly told Jones that if the case had gone to trial he would have presented evidence that Shapley was attempting to sexually assault Bragg when she died. “She made the statement prior to her death that the next time he attempted to sexually assault her, she was going to stop it,” Connolly said. “We expect the evidence would have shown that when she attempted to stop him, he strangled her.”

Considering Shaun Shapley's record for frivolous lawsuits, we may infer this will not be his only appeal. Appeals cost the state money--Read: Appeals cost you and me money. No, we don't expect Shapley to win any appeals. We do expect him to be released from prison in 2033 at the age of 70. Conceivably he could enjoy many free years--years that his stepdaughter Jennifer Helen Bragg will never enjoy.

Shapley's conviction counts as a win for Lauderdale District Attorney Chris Connolly. It was hardly a win for those who knew and loved Jennifer.

Read more about Shaun Shapley: Murder in Lexington