Thursday, June 30, 2011

Randy Gist Guilty/Drowning Machine Claims Another Life?

Former Good Samaritan Hospice co-owner Randy Gist has pleaded guilty to fraud in Federal Court. According to sources there my be at least one sexual harassment civil suit still outstanding against Gist.

Along with Good Samaritan, A & E Hospice and Blue Water Hospice have also closed their doors. Florence's Hospice Complete has a new owner, and reportedly a new name will be forthcoming. Keller recently formed a holding company for its affiliated hospice. Most hospices in this area are honestly managed, but with the abundance of competition and tighter government controls, we expect to see at least one other such enterprise go under within the next year.

Related posts:

Hospice Wars: Good Samaritan

Hospice Wars III: Another One Bites the Dust

Hospice Hijinks


Apparently signs aren't enough, but who is responsible for the five lives lost since the Cypress Creek weir was built in 1980? An article in today's TimesDaily states that boaters actually seek out such environs when they are at their most dangerous. There's little chance the missing kayaker will be found alive, but we can still hope.

It was only three week ago that we commented on the dangers:

The Drowning Machine


It was good to see the TD's Trevor Stokes off the Russellville beat in today's edition. Is he no longer in exile?


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Lynn Greer 35+ Years Later

In May 1975, Rep. Lynn Greer of Rogersville announced he would submit a bill in the next legislative session that would restrict voting on the Lauderdale County Superintendent of Education to voters residing outside the city limits of Florence. At that time, Osbie Linville of Florence was superintendent. That bill was effectively scuttled by a group led by then Rep. Bob Hill of Florence. Over three decades later, Greer has again introduced a bill that would limit voting on the superintendent's race.

Obviously Greer feels strongly about the issue, but why? We've received several e-mails requesting information concerning Greer's mindset, but none that offers any insight into unannounced motives. Considering Greer's long-standing opinion on the matter, there may be no motive other than a strong personal opinion--an opinion with which we disagree. In days to come, we'll provide updates on the issue; however, there doesn't seem to be the proverbial snowball's chance that Greer will have more luck now than in August 1975 when the bill was defeated the first time.


Across the river in Tuscumbia, the board of education's Mark McIlwain seemed either confused or in desperate need of grammar lessons. He indicated the board never discussed issues with more than two present, but had discussed it among themselves. We predict the termination of Joe Walters will continue to garner headlines, and not the good kind.


We're not sure which wag at The Connection is responsible for this quote concerning Cherokee, but it's certainly worth sharing:
Water has been pouring into City Hall this morning so now the mayor can actually walk around on the inside (of) the building.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Joe Walters Put Tuscumbia Residents First

When current Tuscumbia superintendent Joe Walters took office in 2007, as many as one-third of the students entering Kindergarten were from outside the city. Due to proration, Walters put a stop to non-resident students. Now at least one source states this may have cost him his contract renewal.

Tuscumbia is a small town with relatively little in the budget for the superintendent's salary. When they last interviewed four years ago, several applicants asked to be taken out of consideration when they found out just how little the demanding position paid. It will be interesting to see who now applies for a job with so little security.


If brother kills brother over an air conditioner, as has happened more than once in Alabama, we can only imagine what the theft of beer would produce. Tony Curtis Wilson states his brother stole his beer and he retaliated by attempting to burn the house down. Wilson apparently isn't very good at impulse control, having a 2005 arrest for shoplifting meat from Hometown Market in North Florence and several arrests for burglary, not to mention a domestic violence charge in 2009. We wonder what it will take to keep Wilson in prison.


We sympathize with those residents living on unpaved gravel roads, but there is humor in their story. Who names a narrow gravel road "Paradise Drive?" We see fodder for Jay Leno...


It's the 31st anniversary of Larry Fisher's 39th birthday. Happy birthday, Larry!


Monday, June 27, 2011

Meet Tim Howard...Quite a Hero

The Shoals area not being a hotbed of English football fans, we'll identify the player in our photograph. Tim Howard excels in several sports, but he's chosen soccer for a career. In fact Tim is so good he once played for Manchester United. Now he's goalie for the U.S. team. That's more than fitting since Tim is in fact all American, born in New Jersey.

On Saturday, the U.S. team played Mexico in a Gold Cup match. The game was played in the Rose Bowl, and you can't get much more American than that. Unfortunately for our team, Mexico won 4-2, and after the game Howard had quite a bit to say, even using some colorful language to boot. Was Howard lamenting the U.S.'s loss?


Let's pretend we're viewing an avant-garde motion picture and dramatically switch scenes. It's the Seventeenth Century and your Huguenot ancestor has just arrived in North America; what's one of the first things he did? It's now mid-Eighteenth Century and your German ancestor just docked in Philadelphia; what did he do almost immediately? Perhaps your ancestor was a Johnny-come-lately who arrived from Italy at the end of the Nineteenth Century; what did he hasten to do?

We hope you answered that your ancestors learned English almost immediately. Or perhaps for those who arrived after the Revolution, they immediately sought to be citizens. It's called assimilation, and until the latter part of the Twentieth Century, it was something all immigrants did to the best of their ability. Think it's still that way? Think again.


Tim Howard looked into the stands Saturday and saw rows upon rows of Mexican flags--flags held by American citizens of Mexican lineage. Then Howard heard the boos. That's right, the "good Americans" who were rooting for Mexico were also booing the U.S. team. Howard later stated that these cat calls were not unanticipated.

After the U.S. loss, Howard was prepared to congratulate the winning team...until...he heard the first words of the awards ceremony. These words were in Spanish. That's when Tim, shall we say, lost his cool. The following is a direct quote from Howard, with just a tad of censoring for one over-used expletive.

'[tournament organisers] CONCACAF should be ashamed of themselves. I think it was a [expletive] disgrace that the entire post match ceremony was in Spanish. You can bet your ass that if we were in Mexico City, it wouldn't be all in English.'

What did one Mexican fan have to say about the fans' behavior?

'I didn't have a choice to come here, I was born in Mexico, and that is where my heart will always be.'

This 37 year-old man didn't have a choice? Perhaps he means it was his parents' choice. Well, he certainly has a choice now...and he can go back to Mexico...and take quite a few more with him. Is that dogmatic? Perhaps, but most of us who feel that way have arrived at that decision because of the actions of those south of the border immigrants. If you don't see a problem, you aren't looking at the facts.

Viva la Tim Howard!


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Magic Memories? Where's TK?

It was hard to miss the account of the arrest of sex shop owner William Posey Wilson, 72, of Leighton. Wilson was arrested for failure to register as a sex offender and being a convicted felon with unrestored rights in possession of several firearms. He was not arrested for selling sex toys at his shop Magic Memories .

Has Luther Strange quietly instructed his minions not to prosecute those who own such shops, technically illegal in Alabama? The fact that former attorney general Troy King enforced the sex shop law, a law that was accidentally passed, did nothing to ensure his legacy. Now, if Big Luther will remove the laundry list of crimes of moral turpitude that TK added while in office, perhaps the current attorney general will indeed leave a worthwhile legacy.


Our quote of the week concerning UNA's move to Division I: After all, UNA's football team was beaten last year by Arkansas Christian College with three student preachers in the backfield. - Bobby Boone.


In honor of the Helen Keller Festival, here's a link to a great article on Teressa Conley Booth, the first actress to portray Keller at Ivy Green:


Saturday, June 25, 2011

"They're Trying to Destroy..."

"They're trying to destroy us." - Richard Nixon (No he did a pretty good job of destroying himself.)

"They're trying to destroy Michael Jackson." - Fans who disliked Martin Bashir's documentary about the troubled star. (Again, here's someone who destroyed himself.)

"They're trying to destroy Sweetwater Mansion." - Various members of the Sweetwater Historical Tour committee. (No, the current owner let Mother Nature and vandals do that long before anyone reported on the scam to "restore" the old house.)

"They're trying to destroy Cherokee" - Chuck Lansdell commenting on reports in the Internet magazine The Connection.

At one time, the appropriate response from someone who didn't wish to discuss a problem was, "No comment." Now it seems the favored response is to accuse the accuser. Of what, we're not sure. We're also not sure if anyone has officially filed any ethics or other complaints concerning the misuse of fuel in Cherokee. If not, they should. This brief account is quite telling:


Sources with Lauderdale County say the toddler found walking along Highway 101 last Tuesday has been returned to his mother. We understand that DHR's goal is to keep families together if at all possible. We hope this young mother will now get some help with her parenting skills.


You may have noticed our comics section vanished some weeks ago. As far as we can tell, the site had gone to cyber heaven, so we need to replace it. Not being able to find a comparable widget for the funnies, we're about to launch a music player. Send us the names of your favorite songs...they may just show up here.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Missing Lauderdale Child/1000th Post

Do you know where your children are? Apparently one East Lauderdale mother didn't Tuesday afternoon. Deputy Tracy Vanderford (pictured) found a misplaced toddler walking approximately one-half mile from his home, wearing only a dirty diaper.

The boy, who was described as filthy, is now in DHR custody. There's no word if charges have been filed against the 19 year-old mother who lives along Highway 101, a 12 mile two lane road stretching from the Tennessee State line to Wheeler Dam.

What could have happened to the youngster if Deputy Vanderford hadn't spotted him? The child could have been seriously injured in traffic or even lost his life; a childless couple passing through the area could have decided on an unconventional adoption; or someone with less altruistic intentions could have picked up the child. We recently mentioned that individuals should have to obtain a license before having children. This is a perfect example of why.


Obviously not all parents are like the one discussed above. We hope our readers will enjoy a blog written by a couple expecting twins...twins who could possibly have medical problems during the last stages of pregnancy or delivery:


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Was He Set Up?/How to Lose Your Family

For the past two days, we've looked at the case of Dwayne Charles Holcombe, former vice president of the Farmers and Merchants Bank of Waterloo. We continue to receive e-mails indicating that Holcombe was set up--asked to falsify records or asked to take the blame for those who actually did falsify the documents.

What would you do if you were asked by your janitor/secretary/co-officer/president to modify records illegally? We hope you would refuse. The worst case scenario would be that you would lose your job. You would not go to jail, lose your family (we hope), or have to repay money which you didn't take. You would also be able to apply for a position elsewhere that was similar to the one you lost--something Holcombe is not able to do since he is now barred from working at any licensed bank in Alabama.

If Holcombe is indeed innocent, he should have shouted it from the rooftops when he was first accused. Of course, his attorney may have advised him to remain quiet until he was legally charged with the crimes. We're glad that Mr. Holcombe has so many friends to come to his defense; but we don't believe they're looking at the facts of the case with an unbiased eye. If Dwayne Charles Holcombe is innocent, we hope he proves so in court, as well as implicating the guilty party/parties.


We always solicit guest commentaries. Sometimes we receive a guest blog that we hold until an appropriate subject arises. This is the case with our guest blog today by Bailey Quarters, a regular contributor:

The Re-Attached Limb

I've had many friends over the years who have committed crimes. These were honest people who made a mistake, some more serious than others. A good friend once killed her boyfriend. This friend had experienced more tragedy in life than most of us ever will, but she did have a large extended family. She lost the support of most of her family when she committed her crime.

After she had served her sentence of many years she tried to reconnect with her mother and children. It wasn't easy and she has never been able to restore these relationships fully. She once told me it was like a severed limb that had been reattached. It was there and had some feeling, but would never function as it should completely.

Before anyone commits a crime, they should ask themselves how their family will feel when it comes to light, as it almost always does. It's not just the person who commits the crime who suffers, it's their entire family. I'll add here that many times the family is also guilty of not giving the support their relative needed before the crime. They are the ones who raised him or married him. They have to share the guilt. They should also be the first ones to forgive.


Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) announced today that he will hold a Town Hall in Killen on Thursday, June 30, from 6 to 7:30 PM. The event will be held at the Killen Town Office at 231 J C Mauldin Highway, Killen, AL 35645. Congressman Brooks said, “I’m looking forward to meeting with folks in Killen to talk about the issues that are important to them. The town hall is a question and answer session, so please come with your questions. All resident from the fifth district are welcome to attend.”

The town hall will open with brief remarks by Congressman Brooks, and the remainder of the event will be devoted to Q&A with the audience. For questions or directions, please contact the Huntsville District Office at (256) 551-0190.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Good Ol' Boy Handshake Loans/Help Me!!

Our blog yesterday focused on the indictment of Dwayne Charles Holcombe, former vice president of the Farmer and Merchants Bank of Waterloo. Several readers responded with their take on the case, many blaming newer banking rules for forcing Holcombe to falsify records in order to accommodate long-time customers who were behind on their repayment schedule. Sadly, the days of the Jimmy Stewart type banker are over. Still, if this is indeed what happened with Mr. Holcombe, he deprived other investors of profit in his attempt to save a chosen few.

Others wanted to know more about the small Waterloo bank where Holcombe wore many hats. The bank was established in 1914 by Buck Sharp. Tom D. Ray is the current president. Mr. Ray is known as a supporter of small town banks and has taken an active stand against standardization of banking policy without regard to size of the institution.

In his own words:

Community banks fund their operations by taking deposits and holding loans for the long term. Many of our financial instruments are not readily marketable.

We oppose the proposed accounting treatment for core deposits. The calculations would be expensive and time consuming, particularly for smaller banks like ours that have limited staff resources.

We oppose requiring institutions to record demand deposits at fair value. We also oppose requiring fair value calculations for loans that are held for the long-term to collect cash flows.

Fair value measurements will not provide a better understanding of the values of illiquid agricultural loans held by small banks in rural areas such as this bank.

Community banks such as this bank create and hold small business loans for which there is no active market; it would be very difficult and costly to mark them to market.

Did this policy influence Dwayne Holcombe's actions? It should be an interesting trial.


We obviously read a lot of local, state, and national blogs--both just for fun and to prepare for our commentaries. The following is one of the most profound and astute local observations we've read in quite some time:

Yesterday at 12:16 p.m. was the Summer Solstice, but only for purists. The rest of you Druids may continue to celebrate today as well since it is only two seconds longer than yesterday. So by request...


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

You Can't Bank on Dwayne Charles Holcombe

Dwayne Charles Holcombe graduated from the University of North Alabama in 1983 with a degree in Business Management. The former 4-H club standout soon became vice president of the small Farmers and Merchants Bank of Waterloo and headed its Central Plaza branch. From all outward appearances, Holcombe, along with his wife Lisa, was going somewhere; the only question now is "where?"

In August 2010, the Alabama Banking Association found that the long-time Waterloo resident had altered accounts by changing Social Security numbers of loan holders in the bank's maintenance system. At that time, the Association forbade Holcombe from working in any bank or lending institution licensed by the State.

The 49 year-old Holcombe, son of Mrs. Herschel Holcombe, has now been officially charged with one count of bank fraud and three counts of altering bank records. The Federal indictment does not specify how much, if any, of the missing 1.4 million dollars Holcombe received during the six year period covered in the investigation. FBI agents have stated that this information will not be published before the trial.

While it's a sad end for Holcombe's career in banking, it's certainly more so for the bank's investors who expected more from its officers. These investors may also wish to know why it has taken 10 months to indict Holcombe. The trial should prove especially interesting to all West Lauderdale residents, but especially Farmers and Merchants Bank depositors who just may wish to know who benefited from Holcomb's convoluted web of deception.


We're adding another location to our list of Shoals eyesores. The old B.M. Ingram building on South Seminary Street in Florence stands near collapse. There appears to be a for sale sign attached to the former store. Good luck with that.

Thanks to M.C. for the photo.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Interesting New Work at National Alabama

Unfortunately the new work at the National Alabama Corp. site in Barton isn't designed to bring in any income. Instead, it only uses RSA money for... Well, let's see, should we say fun or busy work or some other word that has nothing to do with producing income.

Yes, it seems the employees at National Alabama are already re-doing their softball/volleyball field, picking up stray rocks and adding more sand...and all for only 16.00 to 20.00 an hour. We have to wonder if the powers that be at the rail car plant ever considered sending these employees to Phil Campbell or Hackleburg to work...


Third Street in Cherokee lies two blocks off old Hwy 20 and three blocks off Hwy 72. It is the location of a historic cemetery that has become the object of vandalism, not just once, but three times in the past month. All in all, 15 tombstones have been vandalized--broken in two. Even if these tombstones can be repaired, they will always show the scars of what these Cretins have done.

And just who are these miscreants? We'll wager they're male, fairly young, chronically ignorant, and abusing alcohol or other drugs at the times of vandalism.

Do you know who they are? If you have any information, please report it to the Cherokee Police or the Colbert County Sheriff's Department. We'll make sure you receive at least a meager reward.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

What Is the Purpose of UNA or Who Wants to Be a Small Frog?

Dr. I. M. Sensible once related the following story:

As a retired educator, I'm often called upon to join accreditation committees at various schools. Since I knew the principal at Uppity High School, he asked me to come join a cross-section of educators who were evaluating the school, a school that had many problems mainly because it tried to be all things to all people--students, parents, and faculty alike.

The first day I received a copy of Uppity's mission statement and read, "We're a social institution that seeks..." I read no farther before commenting to my friend the principal. "No, you are not a social institution. You are an institution of learning." I lost his friendship right there.

Now, that begs the question: Just what is the main goal of the University of North Alabama? Is it currently placing education of its students first? Does it think a move to Division I athletics will enhance the university? Will it at some point decide to rejoin Division II?

We think the answer to questions two and four is "No." We have absolutely no idea what might be the answer to question one; however, here are some excellent recent takes on UNA's infamous decision.


Wishing everyone, especially the dads, a fantastic Father's Day! The old adage "Actions Speak Louder Than Words" is especially true for fathers. Pray for God's guidance to rear your children.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Ashley N. Liles & Alabama Chrome

Ashley N. Liles graduated from Hazlewood High School in Town Creek in 2006. A short time later she gave birth to a son, now four years old. The 23 year-old single mother moved from Town Creek to Moulton in 2010, but was a regular visitor to her home town.

It was at an apartment in Town Creek that Liles allegedly bound her son's hands and feet and covered his mouth with duct tape, colloquially known as Alabama Chrome for its multitude of uses.

That brings us to the friend who provided Liles with the tape. We doubt any of these characters were members of MENSA, but does anyone believe the provider of the tape didn't know what the mother of a screaming toddler was going to do with it?

Our newly elected Republican legislators have stated they want less government, but we have to ask if requiring a permit to have children wouldn't be something to look into.


Want to know more about the current brouhaha over the Lauderdale County Superintendent of Education? Dino has an excellent take on it: Link


Seventh Street, Sheffield, now on eBay: Link


Friday, June 17, 2011

Character: Dave Soldo Has It; Kimberly Bynum Doesn't

Good character seems to be a rare commodity these days. At one time attorneys were the usual brunt of jokes about shady character, but teachers must be rapidly closing in on first place. Kimberly Bynum-Garner, a math teacher at Vina, is our sextactular teacher du jour.

Bynum-Garner teaches algebra, trigonometry, geometry, and statistics at Vina High School...or did until arrested for having "deviant sexual intercourse" with a student under the age of 19.

What kind of person is the 29 year-old Bynum-Garner? Here's a brief description in her own words:

I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama where I graduated from Hewitt-Trussville High School. I earned my Bachelor's of Science in Mathematics and Secondary Education from the University of Alabama. I am married to Nathan L. Garner, band director at Hamilton High School. We reside in Hamilton with our children, Ladybird (chocolate lab) and Bandit (ninja cat).

If convicted, Kimberly Bynum-Garner could face 20 years in prison. Sources say her 28 year-old husband, a Hamilton native and one-time drum major at the high school where he now teaches, has already moved on. We wish him the best.


We commented yesterday on Dave Soldo, fabrication manager at National Alabama, who has left the beleaguered rail car company. In that blog we referred to Mr. Soldo as an engineer. We have received this e-mail from Mr. Soldo :

My name is Dave Soldo and as your article states am currently employed with National Alabama Corporation. Although I find your article flattering I feel that some parts of it have been somewhat over dramatized and in fact are not accurate. So in interest of clarity and to be fair to many hard working people in that organization, please allow me to state some actual facts.

I am not an Engineer and at national Steel Car in Canada I held position of Project Manager. I was not a "GUY" responsible for feasibility of projects at NAC for that is responsibility of a group of people and is very much a team effort. Without me NAC will not come to a screeching halt. Although I provided inputs in all outsourced projects, others were very much involved.

In conclusion I personally feel that NAC will be successful company and this community's support has been the best I have ever seen. I can only hope that this will continue. We will all see that company achieve great things. To all my friends at NAC, Best of luck and I will miss you.


Thank you, Mr. Soldo, for your clarification. May we say you qualify as someone of great character, or as we in Alabama are apt to express it, a "class act."


J. J. Ray has left our blogging group. We wish him the best in his future endeavors. If you would like to become a regular member of our team, or just contribute from time to time, please feel free to contact us. Thanks to all our readers who make our blog worthwhile.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Top Engineer Leaves National Alabama

David (Dave) Soldo is an engineer, in fact quite an accomplished one. While at National Steel Car in Canada, he was considered part of the elite in both management and production. When NSC opened what was to become National Alabama, Soldo moved to the Barton plant. His title with National Alabama was "Fabrication Manager."

Yes, we says "was" since Mr. Soldo is no longer with the company. This may not be a total surprise for many since his Linked-In profile states he's interested in new job offers. It was a shock to many who currently work at National Alabama where he had also taken a lead in community projects, including one to support the Lauderdale/Colbert Girls' Attention Homes. One source told us:

Mr. Soldo was THE guy responsible for making sure ANY project National Alabama Corporation undertook was feasible. Without Mr. Soldo and his expertise, all production at National Alabama comes to a screeching halt. Dave Soldo was among the original group of Canadians that came in 2007. In late 2009 he was among those that resigned from the Canadian entity and hired on with National Alabama Corporation. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, was fabricated, or even THOUGHT of being fabricated, unless Mr. Soldo "OK'd" it.

What does this bode for National Alabama? Will the company hire a new engineer? Do they need a new head engineer since they have no new projects? We welcome input from those familiar with the company's current status.


Yesterday we commented on Larry Fisher being named Sweetwater citizen of the year for 2011. Apparently some readers were bemused by this. Sweetwater is a common name for all the East Florence, and sometimes Weeden Heights, communities. Mr. Fisher does not have anything to do with the purported efforts to restore Sweetwater Mansion, nor does he support the individuals behind them.

Other readers have reported to us that those on the Sweetwater Tours Committee have been setting up at First Fridays in Florence with collection jars. Until the books of this organization are made public, we cannot in good conscience support these individuals nor encourage our readers to do so.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sweetwater Reunion/Webster Hotel Closes

For the past twenty years those who grew up in East Florence, aka Sweetwater, have been holding an annual reunion. According to Ruth Rickard, a member of the Sweetwater Reunion Committee, “We try to honor someone who has been well known in the community and someone who grew up here and helped Sweetwater over the years.”

The honoree in 2011 will be Larry Fisher. Now a resident of Shreveport, Louisiana, Fisher has never forgotten his Sweetwater roots. In 2010, he founded the Facebook page Remembering Florence. The page now has over 3,800 members. Fisher also has a political page and is the subject of his own fan page.

This year's reunion will be held August 13th at the Florence Coliseum. We'll have more information before the big day. Congratulations to Larry--it's a well deserved honor.


Sources say the Webster Hotel and Suites in Sheffield has closed. The hotel has been faced with financial problems the past few years and suffered from extremely unkind reviews from the public. As with the Southland Restaurant, we hope someone can purchase the facility and restore it to its former glory.


It's been some time since we've honored a local hero. Today we want to thank Kerry Gilbert for all he and his band do for this area, especially Franklin County. It's hard to pick just one video to showcase the KGB, but we think this one's a real crowd pleaser:


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Southland to Close

The Southland Restaurant, a Sheffield landmark for decades, will close its doors on July 11th. According to the owners, the building and equipment will be auctioned off. We're hoping someone with a love of Sheffield and its traditions will purchase the eatery and continue to serve Shoals citizens for another fifty years.


It's now official that the University of North Alabama will be joining Division I athletics...or should we insert the word "attempting" into that sentence? Steve Pierce, long time advocate for the move, has stated we should not expect to see any immediate good come from this change.

Hmmmm, we just read an article concerning such statements. Enjoy:

Code Words?

Have you heard? Zip City may actually become a city...or at least an incorporated town. There's so much material here that we're not even sure where to start...

Related post: Zip City--Tourist Attraction


Monday, June 13, 2011

Civil Disobedience Ain't What It Used to Be

How do we feel about civil disobedience? It ain't what it used to be. Let's look in our billfolds and purses; what do we see? It isn't a pound note drawn on the Bank of England, so civil disobedience has its place...or did have.

In today's world of computerized record keeping, a simple arrest for a misdemeanor may follow a person his or her entire life. If your career doesn't depend on a spotless record, then go for it. If your vocation calls for a squeaky clean life, then consider letter writing as your best bet to effect change.

Why this topic today? It seems those opposed to Alabama's new immigration law have invited us to a protest of sorts to be held in Selma, of all places, on September 10th. We are encouraged to give an illegal immigrant a ride--around the block we suppose--in order to test this new law.

Our take on the law is that, while it may not be too little, it is too late. We've already spent thousands of our tax dollars on illegals who have added nothing to our culture. Yes, Alabama needs more education, but the state is not going to obtain it from Hispanic Indian farm laborers. Of course, we're not sure Wal-Mart in Russellville can survive without them...


Should Florence voters have a say in electing the Lauderdale County School Superintendent? As long as they pay taxes, yes. The argument that county residents spend money in Florence doesn't hold much water. As far as we know, no one is making them do so; however, Florence citizens are legally bound to pay taxes to Lauderdale County schools.


A study has shown Florence and Lauderdale schools should be merged, the superintendent appointed, and higher standards set for the new system's teachers. The good news is we didn't pay for this study; the bad news is that it was conducted in 1965, and not one point from the study was ever incorporated into either the Florence or Lauderdale system. Did we hear someone say the more things change...?


It's a sad day for Alabama that her one of our finest writers has passed away:


Sunday, June 12, 2011

How Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down on the Prison Farm?

Our regular readers know that we oppose prison time for white collar crimes and early parole for those who have committed violent crimes. Now it seems the passage of HB56 may speed up parole for many of our state's inmates.

One provision in the newly passed immigration bill is to outlaw any correctional incentive time (good time) or early parole for illegal aliens convicted of any crime. It remains to be seen how this will affect Alabama's overcrowded prison system, but early release for legal residents may be one unintended result.


I'm with Phil

Over the past twenty years, there have been several Phil Campbell celebrations attended by those guessed it...Phil Campbell. This year's celebration, called I'm with Phil, will be a special one. Here's a link to the website promoting the June 17th-18th celebration. Good luck to all you Phils out there.

I'm with Phil Website


University of North Alabama President William Cale concerning the proposed move to Division I athletics: "We should all have confidence that the board will act in the best interests of UNA.”

We're publishing that statement just in case you missed the original memo.


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Who's Here Illegally?/Opportunist?

Several liberally slanted groups have called Alabama's new immigration law racist. Yet there are 50K illegal Irish immigrants in the U.S., some living in Alabama. The new E-Verify will undoubtedly impact their lives here. How will Franklin County fare?

Judging from our e-mails, many will be leaving Franklin County, possibly headed to Texas or California. HB56 goes into effect September 1st. That gives illegal immigrants 90 days to...get legal? Leave? Hope for the best? Just what will they do?

Illegal immigrants aren't gasoline, or computers, or any other 20th Century arrival that we can no longer do without. In fact, Hispanic and other immigrants from south of the border were relatively rare 25 years ago. If HB56 isn't effectively challenged in the courts, in two years we will no longer notice any difference in our economy. In fact, Franklin County may even become the subject of a few documentaries. We suggest they use the publicity to their advantage.


He's not a predator, but an opportunist? The word opportunist usually gets a bad rap, but there is no sin in taking advantage of a legal opportunity. What Quinnon William Riddle did to small girls was nothing short of predatory sexual behavior and that is a sin. Let's hope the 46 year-old Marion County man, now residing in the Franklin County jail, will have the opportunity for free state room and board for many years to come.


Friday, June 10, 2011

They're Here (Already)!

The title of today's blog is a line spoken by Kevin McCarthy in Invasion of the Body Snatchers. In 2011, most citizens aren't worried about pod people, but illegal aliens. Our legislature proved that today with passage of HB56, supposedly the toughest immigration bill in the country. Is this good or bad? Depending on whom you ask, it could go either way.

No, we're not waffling in our opinion of the bill, but it will cost the state possible millions in implementation. Is it racist? No. Hispanics come in all colors, and many illegal immigrants from south of the border aren't Hispanic--they speak their native Indian dialects.

Since mentioning a roofing company that worked on the Phil Campbell Fire Department some weeks ago, we've received several accounts of similar companies who hire nothing but "illegal aliens." We're at a loss as to how observers know the immigration status of the workers, but one reader sent us a particularly interesting e-mail today.

It seems Coleman Cleaners on East Tennessee Street is re-roofing this week, and the workers communicate in Spanish. Our reader's complaint? All the employee trucks had Morgan County license plates.


Be sure to check out J.J. Ray's latest article: Dysfunctional Cherokee Government.


Yesterday began our third year using StatCounter to keep track of our unique hits and page views. In the past two years, we've had 284K hits with 425K page views. Many thanks to all our readers.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

G.H.O.S.T. Story/Civil Wars Auction

It was a dark and stormy night...well, actually it was a hot, humid day with a temp of 98 F. in the shade. Our intrepid hero has found parking twenty miles from his destination. With an injured Achilles tendon, he's plodding through the steam rising from the pavement when he sees signs of civilization in the distance. Yes! Target is now visible through the glare and steam, but so is something else.

There in one of the few coveted handicapped parking spaces is a G.H.O.S.T. vehicle--all white and shiny in the sun with the company's ubiquitous logo in several strategic places. Having been a Boy Scout, our hero reaches into his pocket protector and pulls forth a notepad and pencil. Such a blatant misuse of a handicapped space on this torrid a day is inexcusable, but wait...what does he see? There's no point in writing down the tag number to give to Target security, the white minivan has a handicapped license plate!

For once the ever-ready former boyscout is at a loss; just how did the owners of G.H.O.S.T. acquire a handicapped license? Our hero thinks it's a job for...Shoalanda.


Obviously Shoalanda has no idea how Robert Simone or his wife acquired a handicapped license plate. Let's see what criteria the State of Alabama has for eligibility:

If you are disabled, you can apply for a special license plate or placard that entitles you to park in disabled-access parking spaces. You must own or partially own the vehicle you wish to license if you want a license plate; otherwise, you'll need to get a placard―the portable plastic license to hang from the rearview mirror. The placards can be used in any vehicle transporting disabled passengers.

You will need to complete Form MVR-326-230 (Application for Disability Access Parking Privileges). License plates are $23 for cars and $15 for motorcycles, while placards are free.

The application process includes your doctor certifying that you have difficulty walking or breathing while walking.

The placards and license plates are subject to renewal every five years, but after you complete the first application, you can save time and effort by certifing yourself if you have a long-term disability. To recertify, just use the same MVR form listed above, and sign it at the bottom in the recertification box.

Hmm, look at the statement highlighted in bold: The application process includes your doctor certifying that you have difficulty walking or breathing while walking.

Haven't the Simones advised those taking their tours to wear comfortable shoes and clothing since the terrain is often rugged? Ahh, well, it's obviously one of life's mysteries...

Related post: Robert Simone of G.H.O.S.T.


We understand the Jimmy Neese/Delana Darby Blake divorce finally reached a courtroom yesterday. At least one reporter from the TimesDaily was present. We suggest that once the precedings are finalized, unless sealed, the records will be extremely useful in discovery of where much of the Bliss Block money went. Good luck to Delana in putting this part of her life behind her and to the City of Florence in any efforts legally available to them in recovering lost funds from the ill-fated project.

Related post: Bliss Block: The Fleecing of Florence


The Civil Wars are sponsoring an eBay auction to raise funds for local tornado victims. The nine day auction started last night. Be sure to drop by and place a bid on something that strikes your fancy. Many thanks to John Paul White for his efforts on behalf of those who lost all during the April tornadoes.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

No More Gas Chambers/Finally a Legal Family!

Beckham--Survived Gas Chamber

The Alabama Legislature has passed Beckham's Act: By December 31, 2011, all animal gas chambers in the state will become illegal. Interestingly, the only two remaining chambers are located at the Florence Shelter and the Colbert County Shelter. What does this say about our area?

We don't believe the Shoals cares less about animals than other areas of the state. We do believe this area has been the recipient of some very bad advice concerning animal euthanasia. We're seeing comments from various sectors that the next step should be no-kill shelters. Our opinion is the next step should be a state law requiring all counties to provide an up to date and staffed animal shelter. Sadly, we have to look no farther than Franklin County to find one that doesn't.


When a long time couple marries, we're apt to hear "It's about time they made it legal." We're extremely pleased that we can today announce Rylan Kade and his parents are finally "legal." No one can now legally hope to take this child away from his parents...and we hope those who sought to do so will now take down their Facebook pages and retire their warped and magical thinking, allowing this family the peace and security they've been seeking for the last three years.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Drowning Machine in Cypress Creek

Photo by L. Wray Dillard
The dam located near Florence's Cypress Creek pumping station has claimed more than one victim. In March 1982, two years after the structure's completion, Jerry Roberson and Allen Weeks drowned after their canoe capsized in the strong current.

In August 2004, Max Harlan died at the low-head dam. The next June, Will Pannell also drowned. At that time, civil engineers suggested retrofitting the weir, calling it a "drowning machine." So far the city has not performed any work on the dam, but has reportedly increased the number of warning signs at the dam's approach.

It's been six years since Pannell's death, but there is no guarantee that the strong current produced by the dam won't claim other lives in the future. Florence is about to vote on settling a wrongful death suit brought by Pannell's family, but it should not be a matter of dollars and cents. Florence should do whatever it takes to make Cypress Creek safe.


Photographer L. Wray Dillard has posted a portfolio of stunning local photographs on the Panoramio site. You can view more photos of Cypress Creek at this link:

Monday, June 6, 2011

Alabama Supreme Court: Only Your Mayor Can Hire & Fire

Apparently Cherokee isn't the only Alabama municipality suffering from Mayor-Council Clashitis; the towns of Daphne and Fairhope have also experienced a war of the egos. Their cases were recently heard by the Alabama Supreme Court, and on May 27th the Court ruled that only mayors have the authority to hire and fire in Alabama.

How this will exacerbate Cherokee's ongoing feud remains to be seen, but tomorrow night's council meeting holds the promise of, shall we say, interesting events. Stay tuned...


Under the heading of "We Certainly Get Some Interesting Mail," a reader commented on our link to the blog Women of a Certain Age. The reader was disappointed--thinking it had referred to all the Pretty Young Things currently being hired by the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Office. We hear the latest is only 19--it's good to know our sheriff has a plan to keep our youth busy this summer.

From another letter, are we attempting to embarrass Rita Montesi into selling her property by commenting on her brother's conviction for sexual assault and his attorney's legal problems? No, dear reader, when Ms. Montesi called the 2005 news conference that was covered in the TimesDaily, her comments on both Colbert County and her brother's defense attorney became both common knowledge and public record.

What do we think of Rita Montesi siding with her brother, a felon with a laundry list of crimes including the killing of their father? We think Ms. Montesi is defending the man who sexually assaulted her nieces. Do not expect any sympathy here for either pedophiles or their supporters.

Related posts:

Noah Monroe Tidwell

Who is Rita Montesi?


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Is ALFA Your Insurance Carrier? Maybe Not Anymore...

You can't live in Alabama and not see their ads...either on billboards, televisions, or mailers. They're ALFA, formerly Alabama Farm Bureau, a company that changed its name years ago because...well, their rationale was a little sketchy, but nevertheless ALFA the company is now. Is it your insurance carrier? Then this blog is for you.

If you don't have other insurance with ALFA, as in car or boat, don't expect to renew your home policy with the insurance giant when your renewal date comes up. According to insurance experts, this could affect one in seven homes in our state or approximately 73K customers.

You've been warned, so start looking for another carrier. You might also want to write a sweet letter to your agent, the company CEO, and the state insurance commission telling them how much you appreciate the company's response to the recent tornadoes that destroyed much of four Alabama counties including Franklin. It won't make them reconsider, but it just might make you feel better.


If you haven't met Nadine Nozbedder, you're missing out. She is the latest addition to O.B.'s blogging stable and can she tell it like it is! Here's her latest:


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Noah Monroe Tidwell--Unrepentant to the End

Colbert County Sheriff Ronnie May described Noah Monroe Tidwell of Leighton as someone who was no stranger to local law enforcement. Tidwell and his brothers Leon and Grover had theft and similar charges dating back to the early 1960s. After an August 1965 violent quarrel, Noah Monroe Tidwell killed his father with a single shotgun blast. In 2003, a Colbert County grand jury indicted Tidwell for the sexual assault of two female relatives, both minors at the time of the alleged crimes. Obviously Tidwell was no angel, but would the evidence show he was capable of sexually assaulting members of his own family?

Tidwell, then 62, hired Florence attorney Tim Case to represent him. At the time of Tidwell's arrest, Case stated his client was innocent, but also admitted he knew nothing of his past record. In order not to compromise the prosecution at Tidwell's trial, much of his previous record was not admitted.

In December 2004, the bricklayer was convicted on ten counts of various sex crimes against his victims and sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole. Tidwell's family, including sister Rita Montesi, defended him. Montesi had particularly strong words for her brother's attorney Case who was at that time suspended from the Alabama Bar for violating rules of professional conduct. Montesi also had angry words for Colbert County and is now in a dispute with the county concerning the State's acquisition of property she owns on Wilson Dam Road.

In January 2005, Tidwell and his new attorney, John Taylor of Decatur, filed a motion for a new trial, referencing Tim Case's inadequate defense. The motion was denied by Judge Hal Hughston. Tidwell, an admitted long-time alcoholic, is now serving his sentence in the Hamilton facility for the aged and infirm.

Nevertheless, Noah Monroe Tidwell is not too infirm to continue filing lawsuits against Colbert County. His latest claimed an illegal indictment due to his brother sitting on the grand jury that indicted him. The brother, Freddie Tidwell, did not vote on Noah Tidwell's indictment, but did hear testimony in the case. The suit also alleged prosecutorial misconduct in not allowing Freddie Tidwell to testify in his brother's defense. A U.S. Court of Appeals denied Tidwell's claims in March 2011, but considering the former bricklayer's track record, we doubt that Colbert County or its taxpayers have heard the last of him.

Related post: Who is Rita Montesi?


Update on Sheffield Post Office: A source with the local USPS confirmed today that while Sheffield post office boxes will remain open to patrons indefinitely, the window service will not. During most days, one window will remain open, in all probability manned by the Sheffield Postmaster himself. This is progress?


Friday, June 3, 2011

Who Is Rita Montesi & Is She Seeking Vengeance?

The last leg of the Wilson Dam Road widening project in Muscle Shoals/Tuscumbia has hit another snag. Rita Montesi has refused to sell her property for the 43K offered her by the state. She was reportedly also unhappy with the 115K appraisal by the last Colbert County panel to value her lot--a lot that is losing access via Wilson Dam Road. The property may still be accessed via Sheridan Avenue. Montesi has hired attorneys Vincent McAllister and Steve Baccus to represent her in her quest for more money...or is it a vendetta against Colbert County?

The Cordova, Tennessee, resident owns several parcels of land in Colbert County, with the Wilson Dam parcel being appraised for tax purposes at slightly over 59K. The monetary value of the land does not take into consideration any income earned therefrom. In other words, if Rita Montesi had sold a portion of the land for the original offer of just over forty thousand dollars, she may have lost more in future years from lack of rental income. about 115K; would she lose more in rental income if she received the latter amount? Now it becomes doubtful. Why pay attorneys to fight the state and Colbert County?

Rita Montesi is the sister of Noah Monroe Tidwell, a man convicted in Colbert County in 2005 of sexually abusing his two daughters. After the guilty verdict was handed down, Montesi held a news conference in which she accused Tidwell's attorney Tim Case of offering ineffective counsel and claimed that Colbert County did not provide a fair trial for her brother, wrongfully convicting him of crimes for which he was sentenced to life in prison. Tidwell is currently suing Colbert County, costing the taxpayers money and flaunting his deviant behavior.

Many say those who have held up and still are holding up the Wilson Dam Road widening project are responsible for any deaths which occur on this narrow stretch of road. That premise is debatable, but the condition of the narrow highway certainly does nothing to prevent such accidents.

If Rita Montesi is putting the kibosh on the Wilson Dam Road widening project out of revenge for the conviction of a sexual pervert who used his own daughters to gratify his sick cravings, the citizens of Colbert County need to know about it. The hearing on the most recent offer will be held Wednesday; we hope Montesi will agree to sell at that time.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Muscle Shoals Loses 33K in Linda Stanley Theft

Former Muscle Shoals magistrate Linda Stanley has pleaded guilty to theft charges and agreed to pay back all known missing funds. The TimesDaily lists a total of $86,157.00, a total that may include court costs. Whether these are included or not, the bonding company is not repaying the city a total of 33K. This may be small change to the City of Muscle Shoals, but it is still their money...and the money of its citizens. How long will it take Ms. Stanley to repay her former employer?

The answer to that is nebulous, but if sentenced to five years, she will have served her time in 20 months if on her best behavior. Her parole hearing could conceivably be in seven months. This in itself is good for the city, since work release inmates make notoriously low wages.

A second scenario involves Linda Stanley winning probation. Special Prosecutor Doug Evans has said he will fight any requests for probation in her case, and considering Stanley's former position of trust with the city, it's our opinion he will win. No matter the outcome, unless the one-time magistrate completes training for a new occupation, she will undoubtedly take years to repay the city and the bonding company.

Related post: Is Linda Stanley Guilty?


THE MALL MARCH AGAINST SEXUAL VIOLENCE will take place on Saturday, June 4 at Regency Square Mall. From 8:30-10:30am. Join together with Rape Response and walk to show support for victims of sexual violence. All funds raised will stay in the Shoals Area to provide critical services such as our 24-hour crisis line, counseling, hospital, and legal accompaniments. Pre-register before the Friday, May 27 deadline and receive a Mall March T-Shirt! The registration fee is $10 in advance or $12 the day of the March. Call 256-765-0025 or visit for more information.

(Apologies for not running this item earlier. This is an extremely important event and we encourage all who can participate to do so.)


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

She Had No Running Water

Late Monday night we received this e-mail. It has been edited for length and to remove names and identifying data.

I ran into ***** last night. I had heard he didn't care for the current Sweetwater crowd, so I made it a point to ask him about it. I also had seen his name in your blog so I know you think he's truthful. He said quite a bit, but the most shocking was about Lettie Region, the caretaker.

When he first met her (don't know how long she'd been at the Weeden Home at that time) she didn't have an indoor bathroom or running water. He contacted ***** who owned ***** Plumbing Company who installed a small bathroom at no cost. I would have thought living this way would have been against some Florence or health dept. regulation. I have read in "Ripples"* about the owner's home in Atlanta. How could she let Miss Region live without running water?

We don't know how long Emmer Lettie Region lived at Sweetwater before a benefactor provided her with running water and a bathroom. However long it was, it was too long. According to Miss Region's 2004 obituary, she had no surviving parent, spouse, or child. For whatever reason, she chose to live on her own at Sweetwater. No one forced her to take the job or remain there once she discovered the conditions that permeated the old house.

We've heard it said it's all in what you get used to, and apparently Miss Region was used to the conditions at Sweetwater, making do with what she had at hand, making do with no water, air conditioning, or adequate heat. Supposedly the 24 ft. by 24 ft. rooms have 12 ft. ceilings. We can only imagine how far space heaters would go in heating an area that large.

Did owner Susan Leigh Smithson pay Miss Region any actual salary in addition to a roof over her head? The answer to that question may be lost in time...or Miss Region's surviving family in Rogersville may have answers to this and other questions. No new caretaker took Miss Region's place after her death.

Why was there no water in the home? The house was certainly built before indoor plumbing was standard and had stood vacant for many years (at least five) before being purchased by Smithson. At least for the Weedens, the lack of adequate plumbing could have been grandfathered in.

How did Smithson circumvent any building department requirements to provide a bathroom with running water for her full-time caretaker? It's not beyond the realm of possibility that Miss Region was so fearful of losing her only home that she convinced any inspector she was present only during daytime hours.

It's also possible that Florence building inspectors had no idea anyone was living at the mansion. The current tax value of the eight room house is only 10K. No, that wasn't a typo, the once grand old home is currently so dilapidated that county appraisers consider that a fair value, or at least an appropriate one before renovations began 18 months ago.

How much has been accomplished in the past year and a half? Here's a link to some very telling photographs:

Sweetwater is Worth What?

Inside Sweetwater

The photographs in the above blogs were taken April 23rd, or five weeks ago. It's obviously not quite ready for the proposed June 2011 opening of a bed and breakfast...the bed springs out back are a nice touch though...

* Ripples from Sweetwater Mansion