Monday, February 28, 2011

"Remembering Florence" Books Are In

Remembering Florence is now in, and all pre-orders have been shipped. You may order yours at:

We're also pleased to announce there will be an autograph party on Saturday, March 5th, from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. at Ye Ole General Store on Seminary Street across from the post office. We'll see you there.


Remember those infamous 2007 pay raises our state legislature voted themselves? Gov. Bentley wants at least a portion of the raise repealed. Here's one take on it:

Republican Sen. Gerald Dial says he and others will offer a resolution to repeal the raise. But he doubts their proposal will pass because some legislators have become addicted to the higher pay.

Can you say "grandstanding?" If Dial's proposal doesn't pass, perhaps he could lobby for a legislative tag sale. How much would Marcel's $480.00 cart wheel bring? Link


Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Parrots of Winter

The Parrots of Winter

A Guest Blog By


Cold, rainy days seem to bring out the parrots. Flocks of 400 birds are common, and those up to 700 are not unheard of. That they can fly at all is probably as remarkable to them as it is to me. Flailing and thrashing to stay aloft, they barely overcome gravity. They are immune to gracefulness, both in their aeronautics and in their natural voice; they screech as they flog the wet air with voices that remind one of nothing more than bad brakes on a pumper truck.

No one can agree on their origin in Pasadena. Some argue that a few pets just escaped and flourished into the flocks, others tell stories of a traveling circus the parrot cart of which wrecked. Some say the Ritz Carlton hotel used to keep an aviary full of them for the entertainment of its winter guests and let them go when the guests got tired of them. The local historians only admit that it’s a mystery.

The green Amazons and African Grays don’t migrate. If you ever saw them fly, you’d understand why. Why they flock and fly in the winter is anyone’s guess. Mine is that the tropical birds must fly to keep warm, and it sounds as though they fly under protest, so I’m sticking with that hypothesis.

California is unlike Alabama in so many ways. One of them is that winter is when California is green. About the time the dogwood and redbuds bloom so conspicuously and gloriously there, California will revert to its tawny, dry norm. The parrots feast on grass and other seeds now, and will be fed by thousands of happy volunteers the rest of the year. So much so, that they seldom flock, but hunker in every neighborhood and silently enjoy the good life.

Non-native as they are, the parrots have assimilated to an urban environment, same as the red-tailed hawks and crows that more elegantly decorate the local skies. Perhaps, out of their natural element, the parrots approach symbiosis with us humans now. If for no other reason than to see their comical attempts at flight, I’m for it.

Thanks to our West Coast corespondent and publicist for this beautiful story. We hope it will be the first of many he sends us.


We've heard that during the storms Thursday night, many of the sirens in Colbert County weren't working. As far as we know, the power remained on over the entire county, but if that had not been the case, the sirens would have been only too necessary. Let's hope Mike Melton and associates have them ready for our usual spring tornado season.


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Marty Lynn Baskins/Asbestos in Hospitals

We have received a question concerning convicted felon Marty Lynn Baskins of Florence. Baskins' first noted foray into crime occurred in September 2007 when he was charged with four counts of illegal possession and use of credit cards. The then 20 year-old was sentenced to a stint in Lauderdale County Community Corrections.

According to a reliable source, in 2008, Baskins tested positive for marijuana and was remanded to the Lauderdale County Detention Center. In March of 2009, Baskins was again for whatever reason a free man and participated in a home invasion in Killen. Baskins, along with three other men, severely beat their victim and stole $200.00.

Baskins pleaded guilty to these charges and, again for whatever reason, was this time given probation. Two months later, Baskins shot into an occupied automobile, hitting a passenger in the head. Baskins' victim was not seriously hurt. In September 2009, Baskins was again arrested for breaking into a vehicle, two counts of theft, and 20 counts of the unlawful use of a credit card. These crimes merited the now 22 year-old actual prison time.

Where is he serving it? If you guessed the Lauderdale County Community Correction facility, you are indeed astute. Marty Lynn Baskins will end his sentence on January 6, 2012.

Note: Since Baskins is serving a state sentence, he is eligible for parole. If you would like to protest any early release for Baskins, please write:

Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles
Re: Marty Lynn Baskins, AIS #255211
Post Office Box 302405
Montgomery, Alabama 36130-2405


Asbestos In Hospitals

A Guest Commentary By

Eric Stevenson

Hospital safety is an extremely complex field, with many human and environmental factors to account for. Preventing the spread of contagious disease is, of course, a very high priority, but there are other dangers that need to be kept in mind. One of these is the dangerous mineral asbestos, which, before the 1980s, was included in many construction materials to increase their strength and heat resistance. Asbestos-cement sheet was used in the construction of many public structures, including hospitals. Tragically, we now know that asbestos is responsible for health problems like lung scarring, asbestosis, and even symptoms of mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer of the lining of the lungs.

A 2008 report by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration stated that the highest OSHA fines imposed on hospitals were due to asbestos violations, costing the health care facilities an average of $8,000 per citation. For comparison, blood borne pathogen citations – the most commonly-cited OSHA standard for hospitals – averaged only around $600 per citation. Environmental Health and Engineering expert Bryan Connors attributed this to aging buildings that required renovation and a lack of understanding of the intricacies of the hospital environment.

Renovations are an extremely common source of asbestos hazard. While the asbestos-containing materials like cement sheeting are intact, the fibers remain harmless, but when they are disturbed, as happens during renovation or removal, they are released into the air. Breathing these fibers in can, over time, cause mesothelioma symptoms. It is imperative that hospitals follow all proper OSHA and EPA standards while performing construction or renovation, employing professional abatement teams who have the proper protective equipment and isolating any affected areas from the rest of the building’s occupants.

Luckily, mesothelioma remains a rare form of cancer, but it is highly deadly. Mesothelioma life expectancy is poor – the five year survival rate is only around 10%. Hospital staff, especially those working in older buildings, need to be aware of the dangers posed by asbestos. New construction and insulation materials containing safe and often environmentally-friendly alternatives to asbestos need to be installed if the asbestos-containing materials are in poor condition. Paying attention to environmental hazards will not only protect the health of the occupants, but also save the hospital from costly fines.


Friday, February 25, 2011

New Hospital Still Planned for Lauderdale

A department head with ECM Hospital has contacted us concerning the confusion over the location of the new RegionalCare hospital. Despite the suggestion of Drs. William Heaton and Hisham Ba'albaki that the new facility could possibly be built on TVA land south of the river, the plans remain in place for the hospital to be constructed in Lauderdale County.

While we feel a merger of RegionalCare and Helen Keller Hospital is in the interest of all Shoals citizens, it should be pointed out that ECM cardiologists stand to gain if the merger comes to fruition. Currently, Keller is sending patients requiring stents and similar procedures to Huntsville--these same procedures are done, and done well, at ECM.

Again let us stress, if citizens of Colbert County feel the partnership with Huntsville Hospital is the wrong path for their health care, they need to contact their county commissioners...and contact them now. For too long both the citizens and commissioners of Colbert County have let the Keller Board blindly lead them. They deserve better.


If any readers have family that are currently or have in the past been incarcerated in the Lauderdale County Work Release program, please contact us concerning problems they may have encountered.


Speaking of inmates, we today read that Alabama is third in the nation. In what, you may ask. Unfortunately not in any desirable area. It seems that Alabama falls behind only Florida and Delaware in the percentage of populace who have permanently lost their right to vote.

While Attorney General, Troy King added numerous crimes to the standard list of offenses of moral turpitude. We hope once he becomes acclimated to his new office, Luther Strange will remedy many of the excesses of TK the AG.


We've heard from our blogging sister Mary Carton. Despite her new role as blogger for Grit magazine, she assures us she will continue with Rosedale Gardens. The Shoals area is truly blessed with numerous great bloggers. Thanks, Mary, for your wonderful tales of flowerbeds and hooligans.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Yes, Peanut's Attacker Was Beaten

Joseph Wade Vinson, the man who has admitted to assaulting mentally handicapped Stephen (Peanut) Michael, was himself brutally attacked in the Colbert County jail. According to an informed source, jailers placed Vinson in a type of bullpen with as many as ten other inmates Tuesday night. After discovering the injured Vinson, deputies transported him to the Helen Keller Hospital E.R. where he was treated around 12:30 a.m. Wednesday morning and released. Vinson was then placed in protective isolation. WAFF has reported that Vinson was later taken to Franklin County Jail.

The source further states that if Sheriff Ronnie May had followed the correct protocol, Vinson would have been placed in isolation upon his arrival. Now, Colbert County citizens will be footing the bill for Vinson's medical treatment, as well as a possible lawsuit. Did we say possible? Let's make that probable.


Russellville Police Chief Chris Hargett is in the news again. It seems the city has had a vacancy for the office of captain for some time. After new Franklin County Sheriff Shannon Oliver left the force in early January, the department was lacking two captains. Five Russellville officers were finalists for the two openings.

The Russellville City Council narrowed their choices down to three: Lts. Cary Hitt, Mike Prince, and Johnnie MacKay. Only MacKay possesses a master's degree in Criminal Justice. Also, Hitt, whom Councilman Lanny Hubbard opposed, owns a local photography business--which might or might not pose time restraints on Hitt's schedule. It's unknown if other applicants for the two postions also divide their career time.

When asked to pick two from the three on the short list, Chris Hargett picked Hitt and Prince, stating, "We need someone who is unified toward a common goal." Perhaps Hargett could explain that mish-mash of a statement. What goal? Why is MacKay not "unified," whatever that might mean? We understand that not all who possess post graduate degrees are leaders, but Russellville Police Chief Chris Hargett just left that cash-strapped city in a tenuous legal position.

Related post: Inspector Clouseau


Former Muscle Shoals Municipal Court Magistrate Linda Stanley was arrested Wednesday on charges of embezzling over 86K in city funds. District Attorney Bryce Graham has recused himself; he is expected also to recuse in the missing 911 funds case.

Related post: Is Linda Stanley Guilty?


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tuscumbia's Joseph Vinson: Spineless Felon

Joseph Vinson, 28, of Tuscumbia has been arrested in the brutal attack on Stephen (Peanut) Michael. As of six o'clock last night Vinson, reputedly the son of Danny and Darlene Keenum Vinson of Spring Valley, was still being held in Colbert County Jail. There were reports later in the evening that Vinson had been attacked by ten inmates, badly beaten, and transferred to Helen Keller Hospital.

The animosity being shown toward Vinson on Facebook and similar sites is revealing. If the reports of his injuries at the hands of other inmates should be true, it would be the citizens of Colbert County who would suffer the financial responsibility--unfortunately.

Vinson's Facebook page gives little insight into his personality. He laments losing contact with a six year old daughter and states he's looking for a soul mate. Obviously, we may infer alcohol was involved in Joseph Vinson's conduct last Saturday night, but it cannot ameliorate his guilt--either with the courts or those he will meet the rest of his life in the Shoals.

Related sites: Peanut


Due to the severe weather in January, many are facing the loss of utilities for non-payment. One would think local utility departments are in need of all the good press they can muster; however, some employees don't seem to be doing their part.

Here's a great commentary from O.B.: Link


Congratulations to Tuscumbia's Mary Carton on being chosen as a blogger for Grit. You can read Mary's blog (at least for the time being) at Rosedale Gardens.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

RegionalCare is Lesser of Two Evils

We recently mentioned that two local physicians support RegionalCare over the Helen Keller/Huntsville Hospital alliance. A reader asked:

Drs Heaton and Ba'albaki's letter leaves some unanswered questions:

1. How could a hospital in Colbert county pay taxes to both Colbert and Lauderdale County? I am sure they have this all worked out with the tax people at the courthouses.
2. The agreement/contract to sell ECM to Regional Care specified that the new hospital be built in Lauderdale County. How are they going to get around this?
3. How can 2 hospitals be combined without significant loss of jobs at one hospital or both?

They may be HEART doctors but it seems they are trying to mess with our MINDS.

We'll attempt to answer partially--although such answers may be debatable. The Coffee Health Group was non-profit and probably paid little or no taxes to the county governments--remember they owned hospitals in both Colbert and Lauderdale. Therefore, Lauderdale, if it should be deprived of tax revenue from RegionalCare, won't be losing any longstanding tax dollars.

As recently as last August, ECM CEO Joe Roach was still painting a rosy picture of a state-of-the-art facility in Lauderdale County. If that should be of great importance to Lauderdale citizens, they may just be out of luck. The Coffee Health Group has no desire to negate the contract and take back the hospitals. RegionalCare has already changed the name of the proposed facility once, so we doubt that anything is written in stone.

Considering the size of the new facility, we don't foresee many losing their jobs if Keller were to be swept up by RegionalCare. As it is now, no one seems to have job security at either hospital.

We hope that other physicians and department heads will offer some input into these questions. We welcome all comments, both pro and con; however, as the title of today's blog suggests, RegionalCare would seem to be the lesser of two evils. Lauderdale County has no choice--Colbert does. If you're a citizen of Colbert County, please make your wishes known to the county commission.


The Connection has published Part I in their series of articles on the Colbert 911 missing funds: Link


Monday, February 21, 2011

What Kind of Person...?

Beats a mentally deficient person who never hurt anyone? Apparently someone out there in the Shoals who was "just having fun."

From C.R.:


If you have spent any time around the shoals, then you have met Peanut. Normally Peanut can be found around a local restaurant or walking the city streets. Peanut has never met a stranger. He will say hi and sometimes ask for a ride home. Peanut can only be described as a kind hearted man that trusts everyone.

This trust has been violated by someone. Peanut was in the Muscle Shoals area Saturday night and asked for a ride home. A stranger agreed to take Peanut home and assaulted Peanut. At some point the stranger pulled out a gun and struck Peanut in the head several times. The stranger threw Peanut into a ditch in the Spring Valley area.

Peanut had to have several stitches and is in extreme pain. If anyone has any information, please call the Colbert County Sheriff’s Department.

From Morris Lentz: Update on Peanut

In all probability the person or persons responsible will be caught. It's then that the public will need to demand adequate prosecution for the crime. We will have more details as they become available.


Covers up the crime of theft for a friend? Apparently there are many in this area who see it as doing a service. We've recently been contacted by those who helped someone avoid prosecution by repaying stolen funds. Unfortunately, this sends the wrong message and can be illegal in itself when it hides the theft of public funds. Their rationale? The culprit is really a much nicer person than other thieves in the area. We will have more later on this also, but look to The Connection to have an in depth report on these thefts and other related criminal activity.


Hates a pair of successful authors so much they threaten to have their utilities cut off? We'll leave it to our readers to figure out that one.


A quote from Melanie Phillips--well worth reading:

What was prized instead was a person’s worthiness or achievement — in other words, issues of character. In our egalitarian age, however, such values are associated with snobbery and elitism. The lowest common denominator has become instead the only acceptable game in town.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Life Span of Hospitals & Oak Trees

We'll start with Oak trees first, and apologies to Phillip Oliver. Several have asked what kind of Oak does not live in North Alabama. Apparently the oak trees at Toomer's Corner are "Live Oaks," so called because their leaves are evergreen. The beautiful White Oak is the one seen most often in this area. Best wishes to Auburn in its efforts to preserve these trees.


Has Helen Keller Hospital reached the end of its lifespan? Two local physicians recently wrote a letter to the TimesDaily in which they have no encouragement for those who wish to keep the facility open. Per Drs. William Heaton and Hisham Ba'albaki:

Keller’s board was well intentioned, but at some point its members have an obligation to reassess the situation in the best interest of the citizens they serve. With Keller’s assets declining, the legally mandated fiduciary responsibility of Keller’s board becomes a question.

The Colbert County Commission has had its collective head in the sand for far too long. It's time for them to take control of the hospital and do what's best for the citizens of Colbert County. RegionalCare's new mega-hospital is to be constructed on the south side of the river and will be capable of serving all the Shoals for generations. What more does the Commission want?


Per today's TimesDaily:

Only one in 2,500 teachers lose their teaching credentials. That compares to one in 57 physicians and one in 97 lawyers.

Can we say "Pass the trash?"


Saturday, February 19, 2011

All Is Not Well in Sheffield?

From C.R.:

Citizens Unhappy

The Sheffield Police Department is in turmoil. It appears citizens that live in Sheffield do have a say in their government. Several citizens have been filing complaints with their Sheffield City Council Members and Mayor. The complaints stem from a lack of control with the police department. The citizens call over and over again complaining to the Police Chief about problems in their neighborhoods and no action is taken. When the citizens call their respective council member and in turn the council member calls the police chief, nothing is done.


There are three main complaints coming from the citizens. The police department seems to care more about writing a traffic ticket for speeding a few miles an hour over the limit than doing something about drugs. The second complaint deals with the way some police officers are treating the citizens. One citizen was quoted as saying the department is speaking to and treating people like dogs. The third complaint is the lack of visible patrol in the city’s neighborhoods.

The citizens are not the only people complaining; several police officers are complaining of mistreatment and other officers complain nothing is being done about drugs. It is also alleged that Police Chief Ray broke federal law. When one military reservist turned in notice of a deployment, Ray informed him he could not hold his job and made the officer resign. Ray tried to make a second military reservist resign after turning orders in for deployment but the officer refused. Both incidents are a violation of federal law and could cost the city some major money. One employer had to pay a military reservist over one million dollars for improper termination. I hope the both officer reads this and file a law suit against the city.

The council has not been happy with Ray over the last few months but the final straw could have been the death of an inmate in the city jail.


The Sheffield City Council had a meeting with Police Chief Greg Ray. During the meeting Ray was told he had until 8:00 am Monday morning to resign or be fired at Monday night’s city council meeting.

Police Chief Greg Ray had a meeting with some of his officers Friday evening. He informed the officers that they might hear rumors about being asked to resign. Ray admitted the rumors were true.

A couple of the supervisors have started to put pressure on their officers to attend the council meeting Monday night and show support for the chief. If several officers show up for the council meeting Monday night the council should take that under advisement. The officers are being made to show up.


Interestingly, we have heard some stories similar in nature to C.R.'s report. Many in Sheffield who have contacted us have expressed hope that Curtis Burns will be made chief should Ray resign of be terminated.


Two very different views of Toomer's: Check out both O.B's Corner and Rosedale Gardens for two very different views of the situation facing Auburn.


Friday, February 18, 2011

Who Embezzles & Why?

Crystal Sutton Huddleston was terminated as 911 office manager in November of last year when 40K was reported missing. She has has yet to be indicted on any charges. Since that time, several of her friends have e-mailed us concerning the charges against her. Is she an unlikely candidate for the such a crime? Statistics show those who embezzle are female, long-term employees, and those with no previous criminal record.

Friends have responded that Huddleston was not to blame for the missing funds, but placed the responsibility on others in the office; however, C.R. recently reported that funds were also missing from the Cherokee Rescue Squad where Huddleston acted as treasurer. Huddleston's husband and a local businessman have reportedly repaid the rescue squad.

Huddleston is a 1994 graduate of Cherokee High School and received an Associates Degree from Shoals Community College in 1997. Married and the mother of two sons, Huddleston has previously stated she helped her parents financially when they experienced reverses due to "government interference."

From Huddleston's blog entry three years ago:
I am tired of my family always making me out to be the "bad person". No matter what me or XXXXX have to say it is always taken out of context and turned into a big HUGE ordeal. I have decided that my main goal is to make sure that XXXXX, XXXXXX, and XXXXX are taken care of and happy, and the rest can fend for themselves. Don't get me wrong I love my family with all my heart, but they take a toll on me emotionally, and I just can not deal with it anymore.

There's certainly nothing wrong with wishing to provide for one's family, but we're sure the Colbert County taxpayers would prefer it's not with their money.


Sometimes the oddest things brings people together. Check out this site:

Tide for Toomer's


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Not Sheriff Ronnie Willis' Greatest Week

Sources at the Lauderdale County Courthouse state that Sheriff Ronnie Willis was served last week with three lawsuits, presumably all personal in nature, but involving his position as sheriff. Two of these lawsuits allegedly involve the altercation between Deputies Ronnie Valentine and Terry Woods.

Related posts:

Lauderdale County Deputies Battle It Out

Deputy Terry Woods Charged With Harassment


From a reader:

Re: National Alabama: One can't help but wonder IF the main administrative portion of the plant will ever be finished? It is supposed to house a 400-seat cafeteria, theater for training/sales purposes and even have an elevator, as well as house the executive offices. To date, the floor hasn't been poured, no wiring done, etc, etc, etc. It is also has no security/alarm system installed...yet....leaving the whole plant vulnerable to unauthorized entry. So much for the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on the CCTV/alarm system.


David Darryl Thompson is a drug-dealing murderer. Sadly, yesterday he was sentenced to only 15 years in prison for taking the life of Killen nurse Melissa Kenney Garrett. As soon as Thompson is assigned an AIS number, we will publish it and the address to protest any parole or work release status that Thompson may request.

Will Powell and the Lauderdale County District Attorney's office did a great job in their prosecution of Thompson. Sadly it wasn't enough. We understand that Thompson has quite a criminal record that couldn't be admitted into testimony, but does indicate any freedom he may have down the line will be short lived.

Related post: Who's a Throw-Away Person?


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Franklin County's Calling... (Trapp & Pilati)

It's fair to state that Franklin County always has the most, shall we say, interesting political and crime news in the area. Two stories originating from that fair county yesterday just beg for a comment.

The name Howard Ray Trapp is not unknown to the citizens of Franklin. In 1985, the senior Howard Ray testified at the trial of Russellville Police Chief "Buckshot" Saint. Trapp admitted to being a well-known bootlegger who served as a driver for Bobby Dawson for two years. Saint's defense attorney: Roger Bedord, now state senator.

Now, Howard Trapp Jr. is again in the news. In 2005, the 28 year-old and his 55 year-old girlfriend were arrested for burglary in a series of post office break-ins. Trapp was charged with theft from post office boxes in Athens, Haleyville, Red Bay, and Bear Creek. At that time, Russellville Police Chief Chris Hargett stated Trapp had already served time in state and Federal prisons.

By June 2010, the younger Trapp was living in Phil Campbell when he was arrested for drug possession and forgery. Last December, Trapp made front page news when he and his current wife attempted to run down a home owner who had returned and found the pair in the act of breaking and entering.

While in jail on that charge, Trapp has stabbed himself twice and cost the taxpayers over $50,000.00. Franklin County has now turned Howard Ray Trapp Jr. over to Federal Marshals. Apparently Trapp was on Federal probation related to the post office break-ins. We're sure the people of Franklin County wish the Feds had kept him.


Is John Pilati a sex offender? The judge who presided at his trial on civil rights violations required that the former Franklin County District Attorney register as a sex offender upon his release from Federal prison. Was the judge acting within the law? That would be beyond our scope of knowledge to answer, but an appeals court has ruled that part of Pilati's sentence must stand.

Pilati claims he was merely attempting to insure those young men providing urine samples (some at Pilati's private residence) did not pull a switcheroo. If any readers are unfamiliar with the protocol of such tests, the proper way to determine that fact is by immediate temperature testing. Sorry, John, your story just sounds totally lame for a man of your intelligence.


If you're on Facebook and have not yet friended the wonderful Whippoorwill Hollow Films, please do so now. The Sheffield based film company is shooting for 1K likes--it shouldn't be hard considering all Steve and Sheri Wiggins have done for their home town: Link


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Do You Rate an Obit? Lauderdale Executive Session?

When, at the age of 101, you die peacefully in your sleep, will you rate an obituary? Probably least if the Decatur Daily continues to publish our local rag; however, it was no better with the New York Times as owner.

Last week we mentioned the death of local author Margaret Phillips; the TimesDaily did not. We received several e-mails thanking us for remembering such a great woman. There are many great authors in this area, most of whom are experts on various facets of local history. We don't expect Random House or Doubleday to publish books that have only a narrow interest range, no matter how well written. Yet, Mrs. Phillips enjoyed much success with national publishers including HarperCollins. Among her fans were Eugenia Price and Jan Karon, yet she didn't deserve a special obituary in the TimesDaily.

Mrs. Phillips was not alone. A few years ago, former TD editor Fred Dillon died. Did he merit an obit? Apparently not. So who does? We would guess those who have the money to advertise on a regular basis with the TotallyDecatur.


Our source at the Lauderdale County Courthouse informed us the county commission went into executive session after their regular meeting yesterday. Among those present was an attorney for the county's insurance carrier. No other details were available to us, but we hope the TimesDaily will have more information when they publish later today.

If you haven't yet read it, The Connection recently had an excellent article on the findings of the Alabama Ethics Commission concerning Rhea Tays Michael Fulmer's complaint against EMA Director George Grabryan: Link


Monday, February 14, 2011

St. Valentine's Day 2011

Write a Letter to an Old Friend

Ask Your Neighbor if He/She Needs a Hand

Take a Bag of Food to the Animal Shelter

Rekindle an Old Flame

Happy Valentine's Day!


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Mayor Troy Oliver Goes to the Dogs

Mayor Troy Oliver doesn't think Russellivlle needs a leash law. Why? He implied only Brenda Hopson had asked for an ordinance to control roaming dogs--no one else supported it. Yet Councilman William Nale says dogs running loose in his district is the largest complaint among his constituency. He plans to introduce a leash law in the immediate future.

Dogs running loose in any town is always
a major complaint. Good luck to Mr. Nale in his effort to bring humane animal enforcement to Russellville. Good luck also to Mayor Oliver in any attempt at a realistic appraisal of Russellville. You may remember Mayor Oliver's recent foray into revising Franklin County history: Link


All is not lost in Russellville. After losing its Hardee's, Sonic, and Dairy Queen in the past few years, Bojangles' Famous Chicken is set to open on Hwy 43 on March 1st. Similarly, after lying dormant for two years, the Sonic is set to open in a few weeks. No word on the Chik-Fil-A some pols have been promising...


The past week has seen much talk concerning local photographs and their impact on the next generation. It seems that Patricia Landrum Counts' book of early photos has sold out. You may still buy note cards: Link


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Utility Bills: How does 200K/Month Sound?

We've done several blogs over the past months on the problems and general malfeasance at National Alabama. Many of these problems seem to have overshadowed smaller ones, if 200k a month could be considered small. Yes, that's what the Barton plant's utility bill usually runs, at least a ballpark figure.

The facility has 2.2 million square feet of floor surface and is 80 feet high. There are suspended ceilings in the approximately 10% of the plant that comprises the office area. We haven't done the math as to cubic feet, but it's safe to say the rather dubious word ginormous would be a fitting adjective.

So...200K a month for 12 months a year? That's not including payroll for the more than 120 hourly workers at the plant and the few executives in residence. We've often heard of families who will bankroll a child in business, but set a time/money limit. In other words, if the child doesn't make it in two years of after 100K dollars, the parent will pull out. We have to wonder if National Alabama's parent RSA has such a limit...


On a positive note for National Alabama, the plant may not have fire hoses, but does have a sophisticated sprinkler system. We sincerely hope it's never needed.


Several readers have recently written to inform us that Lauderdale County Commissioner Rhea Tays Michael Fulmer has gone "blackout" on her Facebook page. In other words, if you don't know her personally, you can't see her page or communicate with her. Perhaps she didn't like the negative feedback over her ethics complaint against George Grabryan?


Friday, February 11, 2011

The Opossum Fire & Who's On First (Responder)?

National Alabama Corporation - Building for Tomorrow; how apt a logo, since they don't seem to be building for today. Our source inside the plant feels an order for rail cars is inevitable, but can place no time frame on the much anticipated event. Apparently one thing management is not anticipating is a second fire, since our source has determined it was by management's order that the 50 plus fire hoses were removed last December.

The previous fire at National Alabama occurred in the early hours of Saturday, September 12, 2009, when an opossum invaded the plant's electrical sub-station. Gasoline powered generators kicked in when electrical power was interrupted, but vapors from the elevated equipment caused a ceiling/roof fire that damaged a 20 foot by 20 foot section of the plant. Per protocol, a 911 call went out to first responders, at that time the Barton Volunteer Fire Department.

Per our source, management at National Alabama was so disappointed in the leadership of the Barton force that it designated the better trained Cherokee department as the new first responder. While Barton would undoubtedly assist in the event of a major conflagration, Cherokee is indeed the fire department that would lead the other teams in attempting to quell the blaze. We doubt this is anything the Barton VFD announced in its newsletter.


In the "For What It's Worth in Cherokee" department, a reader writes:

Thought I would let the good citizens of Cherokee know that Friday night when Melinda Malone was moving things out of her office to the new downtown city hall, Mignon was at the Middle School helping Melinda pack and move. Hummm, so she had access to all of the city documents that have been locked up, that even the mayor himself couldn't get into.

Our take? If ever a town needed a city manager, it's Cherokee.


According to his blog, pedophile/sex offender advocate Derek Warren Logue has now finished relocating to Cincinnati. Until Logue's appearance on the scene, we were unaware of the existence of such advocates; the fact that they exist should reinforce our need to be ever vigilant of our children. We doubt that anyone is sorry to see Logue go...


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Cherokee: Bigger Than You Thought/Remembering Florence Book

As promised, we have J.J.'s latest take on Cherokee, but first we want all our readers, especially those with Lauderdale County ties, to be aware of the new book Remembering Florence. This beautifully done treasure will be available March 1st. Contact: Link


Cherokee and the City Council

By J.J. Ray

You have to give credit when it is due and the city council aka the Burger King four get a real Atta boy for the tough decisions they made at last weeks meeting. Unfortunately, this gave Señor De La Viagra a soapbox forum from which to allege a list of problems.

One is the $1029.00 bill for fuel at the fire department. This started me to thinking, which is always dangerous but when you divide out that bill that equates to 343 gallons of fuel per month. Then when you figure about 6 miles per gallon you get 2058 miles driven. Some of those vehicles will do better. How do you drive 2058 miles in an area the size of Cherokee?

How many fires do they have on a monthly basis? What is their patrol area? My goodness it must go all the way to Florence. Does the fire department purchase fuel for everyone on the staff? What happened to conservation?

When you make a statement like that there has to be some kind of explanation. No one in their right or left mind would want a fire department to do without fuel or the equipment needed to accomplish their mission. Give me a break Mayor Señor De La Viagra how about some justification here. Is there no coordination on the number of vehicles used or do they just drive up and down the roads extinguishing cigarettes?

Really, Mr. Mayor how long have you known about the financial condition of the city. Did you just find out last week? I do not think so. No chief executive would wake up one morning and say we are broke. In this tough economic climate, revenues have fallen off for most cities and I am sure Cherokee is no exception. According to the record Mr. Mayor, you have been aware of the financial condition of the city since January 10 and 12, 2010. That was the time of the brawl, lest you forget.

When you make a statement like that on TV and in print there must to be some answerability. How about disclosure in the form of an audit for the fire department and rescue squad? That should settle any disputes. Mr. Mayor, do you really want to settle the controversy?

Have you decided to become the Alcalde Masculino the sufferer for a cause and perchance rest in the pillory that you and your faithful cohort wanted for Ms. Malone? I really do not think sainthood is in the offing for you. I can give the address for the Vatican though, if you choose to apply.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Groceries?/Barton Metro!/Coming Soon...

Reasons Not to Buy Groceries Before Snow

1. You have no teenagers who consume $100.00 of food every 12 hours.

2. You have a fridge the size of Wisconsin.

3. You have to justify the extra 2K expense for 4-Wheel drive on your vehicle.

4. You need to lose weight and when was Dan ever right anyway?

5. You need a great story of deprivation to tell your grandchildren.


Several readers commented on Cherokee's role in any future fire at National Alabama. It seems the community of Barton has a volunteer fire department that would be in command of such a situation, with Cherokee as first backup. Locust Shores and other departments could be called in as needed.

We discussed chemical fires with one reader who tells us that even a small department would have some resources to fight such an event; however, we doubt it would be enough to control a flash fire in a mile-long facility.

Another reader broached the possibility that the hoses were not intentionally discarded, but stolen over the holiday break. We doubt that scenario due to the extensive security at the rail car plant; however, if true, after six weeks the hoses should have already been replaced.

For those in Cherokee who took great umbrage to our article...the intent was not to degrade the Colbert County town due to its financial problems, but to showcase the distinct possibility of great financial loss at National Alabama in case of a major fire.


For those who do want another humorous look at Cherokee, be sure to check in tomorrow for J.J. Ray's latest take on the town and its financial crisis.


Is someone expecting an AARP card this week? Happy birthday, Jim!


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

!!! Fire Drill at National Alabama !!! or Murphy's Law at Work

We all know Murphy--he's that unlovable Irishman who makes sure "if it can go wrong, it will." Apparently Murphy has been working overtime at National Alabama, aka the Barton Rail Car Plant. Yesterday we presented three hypothetical murders; today we'll present a hypothetical the Shoals' largest hypothetical employer. Doesn't the phrase "hypothetical employer" really suit National Alabama?

After a fire at the Barton facility in August 2009, you know the manufacturing plant is on its toes to prevent any major recurrence...or at least it should be. We would think unannounced fire drills would be standard at National Alabama, the fallen star in the RSA's crown, so let's take a look at one.

The alarm sounds; employees scramble. Is is a drill or is it real? The smell of smoke wafts through the mile-long plant--it's real. Trained workers reach for the more than 50 fire hoses fitted strategically around the plant, but something's wrong. The hoses aren't there. Even worse, it's rumored they were tossed into a dumpster in one of the plant's routine renovations...this in a plant that could be considered unused...feel free to smile at that one.

That's right. Apparently over the two-week Christmas break all the fire hoses were removed from the building. Did someone think they weren't needed? After all, what in the mammoth plant would be highly inflammable? According to our source, plenty.

Among the highly combustible materials at National Alabama are paint, solvents, and cutting oils (all by the barrel full). Since welding is involved in rail car manufacture, there are also various compressed gases...and if the hypothetical fire should reach the ceiling? The roof is made of plywood and rubber.

Ah, but you, gentle reader, are saying, "Have no fear. The fire department will save the day." Really? Just which fire department has jurisdiction over Barton. If you guessed Chuck Lansdell's volunteer brigade from Cherokee you are indeed astute at geography.

The Cherokee Volunteer Fire Department, the same fire department that has just had it's fuel allocation slashed, the same fire department that is selling at least one of its trucks. Yes, that same Cherokee Fire Department will be the one to attempt to save National Alabama. Notice the adroit placement of the word "attempt" in the previous sentence.

We have to wonder what Dr. David Bronner would say if his beloved National Alabama burned to the ground. If the fire produces no injuries and the facility is properly insured, he just might breathe a sigh of relief.


Monday, February 7, 2011

Who's a Throw-Away Person in the Shoals?

Bill Fences is moving to the Shoals; we're calling this hypothetical richest man in America "Bill Fences," since we wish no ill luck on any real person...and Bill Fences will meet quite a bit of that in these hypothetical tales. Yes, one of the world's richest men is moving his family here--possibly because of the bass fishing, fine dining, and lure of watching those 1,800 rail car workers clock in and out each day. Alas, Bill soon meets unexpected trouble in our little Shangri La.

Scenario One: Bill and his family settle into their gated community only to be awakened one night by Clovis "Mad Dog" Smoot who has wrecked his chopper and scaled the electrified fence to reach a telephone. Mad Dog likes the way little Bill looks and decides to take advantage of him, ultimately choking him to death. Mad Dog tries to cover up his crime by shooting Bill and claiming his death resulted from a suicide. When forensics prove this is impossible, just what kind of sentence will Mad Dog receive for killing the richest man in America?

Substitute the name Jennifer Helen Bragg for Bill Fences, and you could anticipate a sentence of only 25 years. Link

Scenario Two: Bill's wife is out of town and he invites his new friend Mad Dog over to bring the refreshments. Surprisingly, after enough refreshments, Bill and Mad Dog begin to argue. When Mad Dog shoots Bill, he claims to have been trying to save Bill from suicide (popular defense, isn't it?). Forensics prove the shooting couldn't have happened the way Mad Dog described, but since both men were overly "refreshed," what kind of sentence would you anticipate in this case?

Substitute the name Melissa Kenney Garrett and you could expect 20 years at most. The nurse's killer David Darryl Thompson has not yet been sentenced, but he was convicted of only manslaughter. We will give praise where due: Will Powell and the Lauderdale District Attorney's office did try Thompson for murder.

Scenario Three: Bill's a friendly kind of guy and accepts an invitation to a party on the 12th floor of Courtview Towers where he runs into his old friend Mad Dog. The two men retire to the balcony, enclosed by a four-foot wall. Sadly, only Mad Dog leaves the balcony the traditional way, grabbing his coat and running out of the apartment. After Bill's broken body is found much later in the evening, four of those at the party give statements. Only Mad Dog does not come forward, but has to be located by investigators almost two days later. After questioning, Mad Dog admits Bill's death was not an accident, and authorities arrest him for murder. Mad Dog refuses to say more about Bill's death, and calls a local minister as a character witness. What kind of sentence would Mad Dog deserve in this case?

Substitute the name Bryan Christopher Tackett for Bill Fences, and his killer would receive a plea deal of only one year actual prison time. Tracy Scott Lyndon, claiming to be a friend of Tackett, never offered any explanation for the strange death, but accepted the sweetheart deal the day before the trial was to begin.

Ah, justice in the it all who you are or who you know? We hope not. Yes, some contribute more to society than others, but there should be no throw-away people.


Are there those among our readers who fondly remember Charles Gaisser at UNA? He oft stated: If they can bus your children to a certain school, they can bus you to pick cotton.

Now the above statement may be overkill, but it does come to mind with the new laws concerning the purchase of pseudoephedrine. Because of a certain few--those of low standards and even lower IQs--many no longer buy the sinus medication at all.

Will restrictions on this drug stop those who cook meth? Hardly. Will the next step be banning growing poppies in our flower gardens? If so, perhaps the American Legion can intervene...


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Bubba Interprets the News/Margaret Phillips Dies

We understand that outsiders are often at a disadvantage to interpret news from Alabama, but it's not as common for natives to be at such a loss. Still, Alabama being Alabama, there is a time when an extra dose of commentary is needed, and we felt this was the proper occasion. We've asked our old friend Bubba LeRoy Smuckpucker II to give us his take on recent events in eastern Lauderdale County.

Thanks, Shoalanda, I'll do my best, but this story is a little confusin' even for me and I'm related to all of 'em. I think I'll just do this by the numbers as they say in Montgomery, which everbody knows is the cradle of the Confederacy, but that'll be a blog for another day.

1. My cousins Gregory Alton Smith and Kenneth Patrick Givens are cousins to each other.
2. They both got sons that I'll call lil Greg and lil Ken so I don't reveal their real names, since I can't remember 'em anyways.
3. Lil Ken goes over to see Greg and lil Greg Wednesday night (after church I would think), and Greg gives lil Ken a beer. Ol' boy ain't got good sense since the mule kicked him.
4. Lil Ken then goes home and tells his pa. He shouldn't oughta done that.
5. Kenneth then gets all mad and drives his truck over to Greg's used double wide that he got after his ol' lady runn oft and took him for everthing he was worth which wasn't much.
6. Don't rightly know what Kenneth was thinkin', but he rammed his truck in the side of the trailer, right between the kitchen and guestroom, which was sorta a good thing since Greg and lil Greg was sleepin' in the other bedroom.
7. Ken hurt his shoulder and didn't do his truck no good cause it caught on fire, but luckily his brother was in the area and come up just in time to pull him out 'fore it caught fire good.
8. Then Greg comes out of the trailer and sees the fire, but he can't get no water cause the truck done busted the water line so he goes back in the house and gets milk and sodas to pour on the fire but it was just too little late. Yep, truck and trailer was a complete loss.
9. Then all of a sudden Greg can't breathe, so he thinks he havin' a heart attack and goes to the hospital with Ken. Don't rightly know if it was in the same ambulance or not.
10. Both Ken and Greg are goin' to be all right, 'cept for them both bein' arrested and DHR comin' out to investigate and all. I'll make notes at the trial so I can keep ya'll better informed next time.

Bubba LeRoy Smuckpucker II
Dog Ear, Alabama

Foghorn Junior High Class of 1982


The Shoals has lost a great treasure. Local author Margaret L. Phillips passed away this week. Among her many works were: Rebekah, Letters to Barbara Bush, Doctor of the Cotton Patch, Songs of the Good Earth, and Governors of Tennessee. Her works were often praised by Eugenia Price and Jan Karon. Our sincerest sympathies to her family.


We think you'll enjoy Sugie Bee, a new blog on the Shoals scene. Sugie Bee contains not just interesting tales from the author's past, but fantastic recipes as well.


Saturday, February 5, 2011

RSA: Investing Good...& Bad

A reader recently called the February Advisor to our attention. For those not a member of the Retirement System of Alabama, the Advisor is a newsletter from the Montgomery based organization. The February installment boasts an article written by head honcho David Bronner himself entitled Investing in Our State.

While the RSA holds stock in many Alabama companies, in fact owning some outright, there are two local companies that are noticeably absent from Dr. Bronner's article. If you guessed Wise Alloys and National Alabama (Barton Rain Car Plant), you are indeed able to add two and two.

No, we don't expect every RSA investment to prosper. Neither are we overlooking the success of the Robert Trent Jones golf courses in this area. Wise has always been a dicey proposition, and losses there are not unanticipated. It's our beloved rail car plant, the would-be jewel in our local crown, that seems to hurt the most. Our Federal government tells us the economy is now on an upswing...any rail car orders yet?


In our February 3rd column, a reader commented that Sweetwater Mansion had not paid property taxes for 2010 and was several months late. This reader has again contacted us with an update. Susan Leigh Smithson did indeed pay her taxes on February 1st and payment was posted to the county website on Februray 2nd. There was a late charge of almost $33.00.

We would also like to note for our reader and others who may not be aware, while property taxes are due and payable on Octobter 1st each year, they are not delinquent until after December 31st; therefore, the Sweetwater taxes were only 32 days delinquent.


A video recently sent to us by our friend Mark Davis (For those of us of faith, it's truly inspiring):


Friday, February 4, 2011

Shay Ledlow/DOC Pays 100K for Legal Services?

This photograph of Shay Nicole Ledlow was taken January 18th. Ten days later the man in the photo, Jason Dewayne Green, allegedly shot Shay in the forehead with a .44 calibre handgun. Now Green, a scrap metal dealer, is free on bond in the cosmetologist's death.

Green contends Ledlow killed herself; not many suicides shoot themselves in the forehead, and Green had been arrested this past December on charges of domestic violence against his live-in girlfriend. Shay's Facebook page listed her favorite quote as: Life is short. Live it to the fullest.

Because of Jason Green, Shay Ledlow's life was all too short. Investigators have said alcohol was involved. Is anyone surprised?


Questions prompted by new state ethics laws concerning the Montgomery law firm of Capell and Howard have brought to light a contract with the Alabama Department of Corrections. It seems that beleaguered department pays a 100K yearly retainer for...well, we're not sure for what.

Does the firm represent the state in inmate filed suits? Does the firm advise on the legality of new DOC policies? 100K is a lot of moolah to most of us. We daresay if the state should be sued over a wrongful death or other major issue, there would be additional fees. Too bad none of this money is going to new prisons or at least renovations of older ones.


Overheard cellphone conversation in the check-out line: Go ahead and sign my name to it. A little forgery isn't a bad thing. It's only when it's a lot that you can really get in trouble.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

They Love Their Jobs?/Chuckles Duckles

We're not sure of the job descriptions of all seven Cherokee employees who lost their insurance benefits this week. One street/sewer worker has stated he was working for the insurance. We were already pretty sure he wasn't working for the joy and prestige the position would obviously bring.

Our fellow blogger C.R. has stated the small Colbert County town will lose most employees and be forced to hire those who are less desirable. We're not so sure the town of Cherokee will be able to hire anyone who wishes to work beyond a few days for a few dollars to spend on...what's the latest? Bath Salts?

If Iron City can give up its charter, why can't Cherokee? It will always have its community identity and would no longer be the focus of so much ridicule...we would hope.


We've been aware for some time that Cherokee Mayor Chuck Lansdell has an alter ego he uses on Facebook and other Internet sites (ones that presumably don't boast of his Viagra use). We've previously seen no need to fuel the humor associated with the eastern Colbert town, but somehow it now seems appropriate. Yes, Chuck is known as Chuckles Duckles, and, no, we have no idea why. We just hope Bobby, Ian, and others won't follow suit.


From a reader:

I'm not a member of the Committee to Save Sweetwater Mansion at this time, but I am fixing to join. I've said very little about the goings on at the old Weeden Home, but was contacted this week by Cynthia Colburn Johnson who is Director of the Sweetwater site, whatever that means. Ms. Johnson was very cordial, but referred to libel about the current restoration efforts there. I have asked her what has been said or written by any group that is libel and she has not answered me.

She stated that she and those who work for her are making sure the money is well spent to restore the house and they are working to do everything within the law. I would like to ask her, since she singled me out, why the current property taxes are three months late if they are trying to abide by the law. They should put paying taxes before doing cosmetic work on the dilapidated mansion.

Its my belief the house and property will be sold for taxes, foreclosed on, or sold by the current owner within the next couple of years. I won't take up your space to list all the reasons the house would not make it as a bed and breakfast hotel but I hope the committee's website will.


Look for some important news coming soon from Larry Fisher's Remembering Florence Facebook page.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Cherokee Tightens, Not Lightens, Up

From C.R. who was present at the Cherokee Council budget meeting last night:

Cherokee Council Meeting

At the end of the Cherokee Council Meeting I do not believe one person in attendance was happy with the outcome of the council meeting. The Cherokee City Council started to cut programs and showed no emotion while severely changing the lives of their employees and citizens of the city. This day could go down in history as the day the City of Cherokee buried itself.

The City Council members known as the Burger King Four, Mason, Glover, Malone, and Franks moved with precision to cut all health benefits to every employee. The Council voted to cut off the monthly payments to employees that decline health benefits, fuel for the rescue squad and fire departments, and cut two hundred and fifty dollars out of the city’s library monthly payments. The council put the police chief on salary and cut overtime to the police department.


When a city starts to cut the benefits of its employees it normally does not take long to see good employees leave and rejects show up in their place.

Representatives from the fire department have said that the fire department budgets are tight and losing the fuel funding could cause the department to sell a fire truck. This could cause the ISO Rating to go up and insurance rates to climb. It took a lot of hard work and years of sweat to get the ISO rating lowered and could take years to get it lowered back again.

With the library funds being cut back what will happen to the library’s hours? Will this have an effect on the children in the area?

Both Sides

One might say everyone brought on their own demise. The fire department should have learned to save fuel, not waste it, and should have never overextended its budget. If the city was not paying a fire truck payment, the city might be able to pay for the fuel. The police department should have written more tickets and someone could have discovered the fraud at the library sooner. The city council could have done more to bring more business to the city.

Special Called Meeting

The Cherokee Fire Department is calling a special meeting to discuss the cuts to funding by the city council. I encourage all city council members and the Cherokee citizens to attend the meeting and learn about this serious situation. I encourage the fire department to open up its books and let the citizens see what is going on and help them to see how devastating the cut is.


Dawn Fountain has commented on J.J. Ray's recent post:
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.

According to Ms. Fountain: The meeting between 4 Cherokee Rescue Squad members including myself, Dawn Fountain, was with a East Colbert Rescue Squad member and was in reference to the State AARS meeting that the two squads will be hosting together in February.

We assume Mayor/Chief Lansdell is not connected to the planning of the festivities. Apologies to Ms. Fountain for the mistake. J.J. contributes many articles of interest to our blog and we will attest to any errors being innocent on his part.


Speaking of J.J., we understand he's about to officially begin his blog at The Connection. If you haven't been reading the Internet mag's humor columnist Collette, you've been missing all too hard to find wit...we're already hearing her referred to as Alabama's Erma Bombeck.

You also might want to check out The Brown Recluse who's having a photo challenge. We're going to leave that to those more talented than we, but thanks to Margaret for a great concept.

Several commented they couldn't get the link to work to the new blog Ripples From Sweetwater Mansion. This should take you there: Link


New video of the West Texas Waltz (first seven minutes--bet you can't watch without smiling):


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Florence Herald Reprints/Cherokee Eve of Destruction II

1884...the year the Florence Herald debuted. Some old issues are on microfilm at the Florence Library, but for those genealogists and historians who like to work in pj's, the Florence Herald is about to make it easier for you. Back issues starting in 1958 are now online. Scanning the entire Herald archives will be time consuming, so check back frequently for new issues or add your name to their e-mail list.


We received an interesting response concerning our Saturday blog:

"Why in the name of J. Edgar Hoover would Waco belong in a list of calamities/tragedies that affected innocent citizens?"

Because 74 Innocent people, i
ncluding more than 20 children, two pregnant women, and Koresh himself were massacred by their own government.

Sorry, sir, our government didn't massacre anyone, at least at Waco. Waco is a prime example of social Darwinism. We're pretty sure a logical argument won't change your conspiracy-filled mind, but here goes...

Were those at Waco in their own homes being battled by the elements (Katrina)?
Were those at Waco in school attempting to earn an education (Columbine/Virginia Tech)?
Were those at Waco serving our country (Columbia)?
Were those at Waco carrying on day to day business (Oklahoma City)?
Were those at Waco buying groceries or talking with their elected officials (Tucson)?

No, those at Waco were defying the orders of Federal Marshals...and you have sympathy for them. Please tell that to a young woman we know who lost her grandfather in the Oklahoma City bombing. We're quite sure she would have a much less cordial response than ours.


And now more from C.R.:

Not So Non-Profit

Did you know that the Cherokee Rescue Squad charges the patients' private insurance? When a patient calls for an ambulance the Cherokee Rescue Squad charges the patient for the call, normally four to five hundred dollars. If the person does not have insurance nothing is charged.

Not to be out done, the Cherokee Fire Department charges five hundred dollars for a house fire. If you get into a wreck and become entrapped in your car, that will cost over one thousand dollars to free you. If the person does not have insurance nothing is charged.

Service Area

The Cherokee Fire Department service area is from Allsboro to Barton. The Cherokee Rescue Squad's service area is even bigger. The fire department has gone to Oakland to help on an entrapment and the rescue squad has done patient transfers to Memphis and Birmingham. When both departments return to town they fill up at the city gas pump. The Cherokee citizens should not have to pay for this.


These rumors have been circulating around Cherokee for awhile now. After the last council meeting I started to ask a few questions about the rescue squad. Within the last two weeks the Rescue Squad seems to be trying to silence this story. A local citizen claims they saw the rescue squad ambulances filling up at a local gas station. A source inside the rescue squad claims this is an attempt to stop these issues from coming up at the council meeting.

Illegal Fuel

A source inside the city hall claims the city does not have any on road vehicles that require diesel fuel. The only city equipment that requires diesel fuel is the city's backhoe.

Another source told me the fuel used by the fire department and rescue squad is off road diesel. It is illegal to drive any vehicle on the roadway that has off road diesel in the gas tanks. The person driving the vehicle and the person that supplied the fuel could be charged.

What Action Should be Taken?

No employee’s benefits or pay should be cut until all discretionary funds are cut. This would include diesel fuel for the two volunteer departments, the fire truck payment, funds for the library, and senior center. The city should cut off all funds until an audit is done on both volunteer departments. That should save the city around two thousand dollars a month. If that is not enough then cut the four hundred and thirty dollars payments. This would save the city around another two thousand a month for a total of four thousand dollars a month. That would be forty eight thousand a year saved. If that is not enough then make one of the city/sewer workers part time. That would save another two thousand a month. The city only had one full time city/sewer worker until the Willis administration.


The Cherokee Rescue Squad and Fire Department receive grants, Property tax add-ons, and insurance payments. No city worker's pay or benefits should be cut until all discretionary funds are eliminated. There is a rumor that the city council will use a state law and make a move to replace the fire chief and fire marshal. If they are not willing to help the city get out of financial trouble then it might be the time to use that law and replace them.

The Colbert County Sheriff’s Department needs to investigate the allegations about stolen money at the Cherokee Rescue Squad. It could help build their 911 case.

Do not give either volunteer department money until an independent audit is done. If the Cherokee Rescue Squad and Fire Department want free fuel from the city then the city council should appoint all of their officers and board members.

If the rescue squad has really started to buy their fuel, the city council should still officially vote to cut it off.

Another possible solution could be to temporarily make the cuts till June. At that time reevaluate the need for the cuts.