Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Sweetwater Mansion Debacle - Part III

The Sweetwater Mansion Debacle - Part III

A Guest Commentary By

Sarah Savant

I looked up the number for Miz Scarletts in Atlanta, called, and asked to speak to Susan. I was told Susan was at fashion week in Paris. This was early in January, and I knew the only shows in Paris at that time were haute couture and men's fashion. What prom dress store owner would be invited to something like that? I started laughing, but I did manage to say I worked at Sweetwater and gave them a false name.

Apparently I still gave store personnel too much information because it was only about five minutes later that Cynthia Johnson called me. It seems Susan had called her and was livid. How had I found her "private number?" She related that Susan didn't take calls because she got death threats, was involved in lawsuits, and the list just went on an on. I don't know what any of Susan's personal problems had to do with me, but if I had problems with Cynthia before, I really had them now.

She began telling other volunteers that I was out to get her and wanted her "job." At first I just shook it off, but then something happened that I couldn't just overlook. Cynthia was always relating things using her self-proclaimed psychic abilities, but now she began to tell others that she had a vision of me in the future and in this vision I was being raped.

When I heard this I was angry beyond words; I was sick to my stomach. When I confronted Cynthia she told me she was only concerned for my well being. Apparently she wasn't concerned enough to come to me privately and tell me this. What should I do? I didn't want to be around Cynthia any more, but I really loved Sweetwater, so I decided to stay at least until the Living History Days in April.

I wanted to be sure the stories told during the program were accurate, but Cynthia had her own version of things leading up to the actual event. If anyone ever asked about Susan, Cynthia told them that Smithson was in London working on Kate Middleton's dress for the royal wedding. I wish I could say she was joking, but she was completely serious. If this didn't kill any interest I had in the project, what happened next did.


Well, we can hardly wait for the final installment. Designing Waity Katie's wedding dress? You'd think that would be up there with Jeff Dowdy behind enemy lines in Afghanistan or Hank Klibanoff winning a Pulitzer Prize. Oh, we get it. The TimesDaily just didn't report on it because Susan Leigh Smithson is a woman. Yeah, that must be it.


Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Sweetwater Mansion Debacle - Part II

The Sweetwater Mansion Debacle - Part II

A Guest Commentary By

Sarah Savant

Sweetwater's director Cynthia Johnson liked to paint a perfect picture of the supposedly wealthy owner. She never spoke of Susan Smithson without mentioning her great wealth, but by October of 2010, we began considering the source. We soon saw that Susan didn't pay for anything related to the house. Her mother Edith Smithson paid the bills, and we also soon learned that the money earned from any events was paid directly to Susan's mother.

At first I thought this looked shady, but Cynthia said Mrs. Smithson paid the utilities and taxes for Susan. When I asked Cynthia why the plantation hadn't received tax exempt status, she told me she had sent the paperwork to Susan's mother who had lost it. I didn't ask after that.

I did talk with two other volunteers who had similar stories about the finances at the mansion, but there was never a great deal of money involved. I would guesstimate less than four thousand was taken in each year the mansion was open to the public. Still, we thought this money should have gone to restoration rather than to pay Susan's electric or tax bill. We began to think the mansion would never be restored with Cynthia as director.

As the tours took shape, Cynthia told us stories of the original land owner, Gen. John Brahan, practicing voodoo in the basement and other ghost tales which she seemed to relish. About this time I became friends with another local historian who worked there. She shared her knowledge of Mr. McDonald's history of Sweetwater and also many things she had discovered through her own research. She was in possession of some writings of Jane Patton and other first hand material from that era. The two stories were so different, and Cynthia's was so unbelievable.

I began to use the story told to me by my friend when I led the tours, rather than the more lurid voodoo story that Cynthia had told me to relate. Cynthia then began to follow me around during the tours and "correct" me. I was becoming more and more disenchanted, but Cynthia told me in late October that massive restoration work was set to begin in early December.

I knew that Cynthia had promised this before, but I hoped this time it was true. When I returned to the home after Christmas break, again absolutely nothing had been done. It was then that I decided to call owner Susan Leigh Smithson...


We had quite a response to yesterday's account of the Sweetwater director's vision of a werewolf in a volunteer's photos. According to local author Debra Glass:

That woman told me a story for my first book that I plan to remove on my next printing - and that won't be soon enough! She said there was a werewolf that lived in her house. I put her tale in the book but regret it. That was my Uncle Lee Stutts' house and I feel the story sullied the memory of what a fascinating man he was.

...and meter readers contend they're afraid of dogs.


Friday, July 29, 2011

The Sweetwater Mansion Debacle - Part I

The Sweetwater Mansion Debacle - Part I

A Guest Commentary By

Sarah Savant

All my life I've been surrounded by people who volunteer to improve the community. I've always worked with various well-established school clubs and when I volunteered to work with Sweetwater Mansion, I expected it to be the same. I couldn't have been more wrong.

My first day as a volunteer was in the middle of August, and the director immediately handed me a camera and told me to take photos inside the house and on the grounds. Cynthia Johnson told me she was specifically looking for orbs that would suggest a ghostly presence. I do believe in ghosts, but I had volunteered to help restore the mansion, not take snapshots of what Ms. Johnson wanted to prove was on the property.

Nevertheless, I followed her instructions, and several of us volunteers took photos for Cynthia. After we finished up, Cynthia told one young man he had captured the image of a werewolf in his photos. She then proceeded to show off what she called her psychic powers by offering predictions to our group. My friends and I thought the whole set up was odd, but we believed that the director really cared about the house so her behavior didn't bother us that much at the time.

When we returned in October to begin the tours, we found that absolutely nothing had been done to restore the old home. These things take time and money, so we told ourselves "Rome wasn't built in a day." Cynthia told us that restoration would begin in earnest in early December, and we still had no real reason to doubt her.

As Cynthia began to tell us about the history of the house, she mentioned she had been William McDonald's personal assistant at one time. We found this impressive, but then she continued to tell us about Susan Leigh Smithson, the property's owner. According to Cynthia, Ms. Smithson had been a high fashion model in her younger days and was now a fashion designer. I consider myself pretty fashion savvy and had never heard of Ms. Smithson, so I decided to Google her when I returned home. I found that Susan owned a shop in Atlanta that specialized in prom dresses and she had some odd comments and reviews attached to her name.

Things definitely weren't adding up. I was left to wonder just what other statements we needed to take with a grain of salt...

Tomorrow: Part II (Things begin to deteriorate rapidly.)


Yes, it only gets odder, folks. Many thanks to "Sarah" for sharing her experiences. Stay tuned...


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Who Is Behind Sweetwater Mansion? (A Re-Blog from O.B.)

Yesterday O.B.'s Corner blogged concerning some personal attacks the writer received from Sweetwater Mansion's Social Media Adviser Dot Bowers, aka D. J. Bowers. Since we are about to begin a multi-part expose' written by a former volunteer at Sweetwater, we are publishing slightly edited parts of O.B.'s comments as an introduction:

I just wanted to share a couple of the things I had gotten in messages and let you judge for yourself. I cannot make your minds up for you but it is my belief that the house is not in good hands. That has been my whole purpose in trying to let people know about what is going on. Apparently some people either do not care or are just so wrapped up in the history, they are blind or brainwashed.

With that said…here are a few snippets and my personal response to them. You can click on the snippets to enlarge them.

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I took this as a personal threat from Sweetwater. Real classy.

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First of all, I don’t blog on Ripples. Although I have commented on it. And in this case, the promise is nothing more than a threat wrapped in toilet paper. And me taking the fall? That and back off are two more threats as far as I’m concerned. But Dorkus Jane is correct, I don’t know her. Nor do I want to.

I have never posted her mother's name on my blog. Matter of fact I didn’t even know it. This is the only blog I do. People need to get their facts straight before running off at the mouth. Oh, and Ms. Drama? I have a life and a job. Thanks anyway for your concern.

So you see? This is what is leading the Sweetwater/Weeden mansion. This is the kind of people that are overseeing the goings on at the historical home that continues to lie in shambles. Would you want your child or yourself for that matter to be associated with this kind of temperament? Only you can answer that for yourself. I’ve been accused of trespassing there and even knocking on one of the volunteer's door. Amazing.

And yet again…I get accused of something. I have never mentioned SW having a Twitter account. This is just more of the same garbage these people spew. A hate group? That’s laughable.

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I wasn’t going to even blog this today. I was going to delete the whole thing and just let it go. But I think the public needs to know what the leadership at Sweetwater is doing.

You may click on any image to enlarge.


What is the leadership at Sweetwater doing? Apparently very little according to the reports that have reached us. It was and still is our belief the old house and property will be sold if the owner receives what she considers the right offer. We will assume Susan Leigh Smithson would consider much less than the nine million asking price of record.

Most of the volunteers at the ostensible renovation/restoration of Sweetwater are college and high school students. Tomorrow we'll publish Part I of one such volunteer's experiences working with the current Sweetwater Committee.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Jobs for America? State Dems May Now Be Out of Luck

If Alabama Democrats are hoping to scupper the new laws concerning illegal immigrants scheduled to take effect September 1st, they will receive no support from US Rep. Mo Brooks. In a prepared statement he today announced:

...he has introduced new legislation, the Jobs for Americans Act of 2011. The Jobs for Americans Act removes federal barriers to states who undertake their own legal measures to control illegal immigration.

Congressman Brooks said, “Illegal immigration in our country is a serious problem. Illegal aliens suppress the wages of American blue collar workers, hold millions of American jobs, and drain local and state governments of critical resources.

“The Jobs for Americans Act of 2011 helps states like Alabama, Georgia, and Arizona, who are addressing the illegal alien issue because the federal government has failed to do so. The act ensures that the federal government will appreciate, not punish, states that do the hard work of enforcing our laws.

“Specifically, this bill provides that state and local governments may help the federal government by passing laws that identify illegal aliens, deter illegal aliens from entering the United States, apprehend illegal aliens, or encourage or otherwise cause illegal aliens to leave the United States. In other words, the federal government would give state and local governments the blessing to help the federal government do its job.

"While the Jobs for Americans Act of 2011 supports state efforts to curb illegal immigration, it does not alter the federal government’s roll. The federal government would still retain control over determining who qualifies as an illegal alien."


We recently blogged of Eddie Frank Chandler's attempt to obtain youthful offender status in his upcoming murder trial. We speculated it could be the difference between three years for a youthful offender conviction and perhaps 30 if convicted as an adult. D.K. asked that we elaborate that Chandler, if convicted of Felony Murder, could be eligible for parole in as little as ten years.

This is certainly the case, and if not granted parole after that time, Chandler would again be considered in five more years. That does not mean he would be granted parole at any time, but for such crimes 30 years seems to be the rule of thumb. Obviously, if given a life sentence he could conceivably never be granted parole. With this, as many things in life, it very often comes down to whom you or your family know...or perhaps the whims of whoever may be in the office of District Attorney at the time.

Related posts:

Three Years or Thirty?

The Killer, the D.A., & the Parole


Alabama is implementing new and supposedly improved restrictions for sex offenders. Those bearing the title of "sexual predator" will face dramatically increased restrictions. What constitutes a sexual predator? According to Ohio standards, former Sheffield resident Derek Logue has earned that distinction. Perhaps these proposed, and now adopted, tighter rules were the reason this self-proclaimed sex offender activist left Sheffield? It's a ankle bracelet would have so improved his social life.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Killer, the District Attorney, & the Parole

From our team member D.K.:

Maybe it is just me, right or wrong, I need to express my feelings. I feel Colbert County D.A. Bryce Graham dropped the Ball a couple of weeks ago and let not only the people of Colbert County down, but Joey and Harold Pugh and their family and friends down.

A Parole hearing for Donald Risley was held on the 13th of July, and Mr. Graham not only refused to go in person to protest an early release, but never sent a letter of protest. Yes it is true, Risley only had a year to serve his full sentence, but he agreed to 15 years not 14 years, for helping turn State's evidence against the other four scum bags.

He only had a year left?! A lame excuse for doing him the favor of not protesting. Risley did not assist the State out of the goodness of his heart or remorse for his part in the murders of 11 year-old Joey and his father Harold Pugh, two people only out doing what good fathers do with their children, enjoying a fishing trip to Cane Creek. He did this to save himself from a possible Life Sentence! It is true Risley did not pull the trigger, but neither did the other two who got a Life sentence.

He was a part of a plan to make easy money, Blood Money! Whatever it took to rob banks, and that is what they did the next day. Unlike Risley, Mr. Harold Pugh worked hard the way most all us do to enjoy things in life.

Risley had a 45 cal. weapon and when he saw what was going to happen, as they were taking Joey and Harold out in the boat, he had a chance to possibly save them. It bothers me enough to know this happened, but more so to know Joey had to watch his dad being shot, not once but twice and then himself being shot.

The birth mother of Joey (Harold's ex-wife) passed away last year. Joey's step mother and Harold's wife at the time of this horrible, senseless killing, has been sick and at the last minute was unable to go protest. I am sure other family and friends had written letters to the Parole Board to protest. I heard from someone in the know at Colbert County Court House, Asst. D.A. Kyle Brown, got took to the wood shed because he talked to the media without Mr Graham's approval.

The Parole Board I personally don't think was going to parole Risley: they even stated they wished they could keep him longer than the 15 years. Risley had broken a rule in June, found with Pot.

Thanks to Colbert County Sheriff Ronnie May for sending a letter of protest. Also thanks to the Montgomery Bureau and M.J. Ellington for being there and covering this for the Times Daily, but I wonder why she did not hear as I did in what rule Risley had broken? She stated "Noting Risley had committed an infraction of Prison rules in June. Officials did not elaborate on what rules were violated". Yes the Parole Board did elaborate, by saying "Risley was found with pot."

I wonder who Risley's defense Attorney was. Anyone know?

"Justice For All--Even The Victims"


We especially appreciate D.K.'s information concerning Risley's possession of marijuana. That would be considered a major disciplinary and lower Risley's chance of parole to almost zero. What if Risley had maintained a perfect record for those 14 years? It's our opinion he still deserved to serve his full sentence. This raises many questions concerning Colbert D.A. Graham. We, too, would like answers.


Monday, July 25, 2011

Ya Gets What Ya Pays Fer

We hope the reader who sent this item to us will forgive us using his line as our title today. It seems to fit both his news item and ours. From the regular reader:

A Birmingham based security company was recently in the Shoals area recruiting applicants for a security job at a local defense contractor. The positions require that the security officers placed must be able to possess a TOP SECRET security clearance. That's totally understandable, especially considering the nature of what is being made at the site. What ISN'T understandable is the rate of pay for these TOP SECRET security clearance positions: $8.35/Hr.


Now we'll venture to Sweetwater Mansion, whose Facebook page had a busy weekend. Dorcas Bowers, the Sweetwater media committee member, is now warning attendees at First Fridays not to donate to those taking up money for the mansion's renovation--according to her, they aren't connected to anyone at Sweetwater.

Since one must have a permit to set up at First Fridays, it should be easy to narrow it down as to who is "illegally" collecting funds, if anyone. Our sources tell us that July was at least the second or third month at which collections jars/buckets were set up. It's nice to know that some of the Sweetwater committee wishes to know where this money is going, but they do not reveal how the money they collect is being used. We have had some interesting reports on this and will offer a blog in the near future. Those who have contacted us are concerned that the renovation is almost non-existent. Yes, Ya gets what ya pays fer.


It's no secret that we here at Shoalanda are good friends with several local bloggers not connected with our own political blog. One of our favorite blogs is O.B.'s Corner. We have him linked and doubt that we have missed any of his offerings so far. So it comes as a shock to learn that the Sweetwater media czar, Dorcas Jane Bowers, has accused our friend of mentioning her 89 year-old mother in one of his columns. It also came as a shock to O.B. who knows nothing of Ms. Bowers' mother and states he has never referred to her in any manner.

Again, as much as we would like to see Sweetwater restored and in the right hands, we can't ethically promote the current committee who oversees the work, including fund raising. Ya gets what ya pays fer...and apparently that's not much. Apologies from Ms. Bowers are in order.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Rethinking the (Florence) Police Chase

The following is a guest commentary from a concerned and highly informed Colbert County citizen. His concern lies with the current policy of the Florence Police, a department which gives chase in almost all circumstances. There are always two sides to every issue, but we feel this "catch at all costs" policy causes more harm than good.

The author of this blog mentions mayhem that resulted from chases originating outside Lauderdale County, but there have been many more incidents which were encapsulated in Florence proper--among them the death of Jon Willingham. We understand these individuals did not have to run. Still, it is the job of our police to protect all citizens, even those who have made poor choices.

We want to stress that we receive complaints concerning law enforcement on a regular basis, some verifiable and many more that are not. Of those complaints, the fewest concern the City of Florence Police Department under Chief Rick Singleton. We consider Chief Singleton a paragon of what a leader should be, but that does not mean current policies cannot be improved. We urge everyone to read this:

Late Friday night/early Saturday morning Colbert Sheriffs' Department got a call for a suicidal man on Softly Lane in the Spring Valley community. When the deputies arrived on scene the man took off in his car. The deputies chased the vehicle into Lauderdale County where Florence Police took over the lead in the chase. FPD chased him to his mother's house in Killen where he shot himself in the head.

I am usually a big supporter of LE, but let me tell you the problems I see. Curtis Russell had not hurt anyone else. LE knew who he was and where to find him. By cornering him, in his mind a shot to the head was the only way out. This is the third time in recent years I have seen this same result involving FPD.

This first time was on 6th Street in Muscle Shoals. FPD chased Corey Carwyle who was suicidal, boxed him in, and he shot himself. The next incident was on Wilson Dam Road when FPD chased a man for forging a prescription through Florence across Patton Island and the man crashed his car into a 18 wheeler hauling lumber between 2nd St. and Avalon Ave. on Wilson Dam Rd.

When any emergency vehicle cuts on their lights and sirens it poses a danger to anyone in traffic and the risks of running Code 3 should be heavily considered when a unit is responding. I believe FPD should reevaluate their procedures. Is the risk to life worth chasing someone down who does not pose a threat to others. Especially when LE knows who the person is they are chasing and where they can be found later?

Related post: Another Florence Police Chase & Jon Willingham is Dead



Saturday, July 23, 2011

Brahan-Patton Cemetery

If there is one thing everyone should agree on it's the necessity for preserving the past, especially cemeteries. Obviously many family cemeteries have been lost over the years, and many more have not been maintained. One cemetery to fall into the latter category is the burial ground located on the Sweetwater plantation east of Florence.

Until recently, the cemetery had gone to scrub. No matter what one may think of the methods being used to restore the plantation house or the cemetery, there has been some good to come from these efforts. As of July 1st, the Brahan/Patton/Weeden family cemetery has been declared the Brahan-Patton Cemetery by the Alabama Historical Commission. Surprisingly, the cemetery was submitted to the commission by an anonymous individual not connected to owner Susan Leigh Smithson or the current Sweetwater committee.

Will this make the property harder to sell to a business developer? My source believes that it will. Let's hope this is another step in finding an owner who will commit to the property's restoration. Collection jars at First Fridays don't go very far when millions are required...


Looking at the official list of historic cemeteries in Alabama, it's surprising to note how few are from Lauderdale, Colbert, and Franklin. If you know of a cemetery that needs to be preserved or just listed, please visit this site:


Friday, July 22, 2011

Eddie Frank Chandler: Three Years or Thirty?

Eddie Frank Chandler was 17 when he allegedly murdered Chris Stanback. Because of his age when the crime was committed, he cannot be charged with and tried for capital murder. He is currently being charged with felony murder, a crime that could bring a life sentence with the chance of parole. If convicted, Chandler would at some point be considered and granted parole, but one could expect him to serve as much as 30 years before such a parole would be offered.

What if Chandler should be granted youthful offender status? He would then serve three years. That is what Chandler's attorney is now requesting. We doubt that Judge Gil Self will grant Chandler's request, but if he should, the sentence could be ordered to run concurrently with any conviction for theft that may await Chandler. In other words, if Eddie Frank Chandler did kill Chris Stanback, he could in effect serve no extra time for this heinous murder.

We fervently hope Judge Self will refuse Chandler's request for youthful offender status. The Stanback family has waited long enough for justice in Chris' death.


If you're going to the Handy Parade tonight, be sure to give a shout out to the Kudzu Queens. This wonderful group of women do much good for the area as well as offering some much needed humor.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Slow Disappearance of National Alabama

In March of this year, National Alabama announced it would be producing certain major components for 500 rail cars. The project was scheduled to commence around July 1st and be finished by December 31st. Admittedly, July is still with us, but sources at the plant tell us that no work has yet been done to set up this assembly line--assuming it's still needed. Has the contract been cancelled? How would we know?

In other National Alabama news, a second source reports:

When National Alabama Corporation officially moved in to its new facility in 2009, it wasn't alone. In addition to the NAC employees, several vendors also took up residence, or opened 'store fronts', within the confines of the facility. Originally, it was the 'job' of these vendors to supply the plant with the day-to-day operating materials, tools and constant use items needed in manufacturing. In addition to these vendors, representatives of the manufacturers of much of the state-of-the-art equipment purchased by NAC, with money borrowed from the Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA), also established field offices on site. These representatives supplied on-site trouble shooting and repair services to NAC in the event that one of their products, such as a 'robot welder', developed a 'glitch'.

It has been reported that many of these 'field representatives' have 'closed up shop', apparently due to difficulties in obtaining payment for items ordered and installed within the dormant NAC manufacturing facility. It has also been reported that some of the vendors have 'pulled out' of the site, claiming that there 'isn't enough business' to justify the continuation of services on site.

It has also been reported that as much as 30% of the maintenance department has quit since the first of the year, choosing to seek actual work elsewhere. One can only wonder how much 'maintenance' needs to be performed on machinery that isn't being used.

And Shoals Chamber of Commerce president Steve Holt, pardon...we meant to say Mr. Stephen Holt...uses this as an example of desirable foreign investors?


The TimesDaily seems to have begun a campaign to promote the "college" that a Chinese company may, or may not, have planned for the old Florence Golf and Country Club. What would happen if they built this college?

First, we're not sure what was intended by the Chinese. Was it a college of some ilk or a pharmaceutical enterprise as first stated? How easily it morphed. If it should be a college, it would not be able to grant degrees or even any transferable credits without proper accreditation.

How was it to align with the current College of Nursing at UNA? We have no idea on that subject either since all we have read states the College of Nursing can't change its studies on the mere whim of faculty or even that of President William Cale.

In the For What It's Worth Department, this supposed college could be certified for Chinese students, but how that would help the University of North Alabama is extremely nebulous. Would Chinese students come en masse to study Chinese courses and then return to China to practice whatever they had learned here? It would supposedly help the economy of the Shoals, but so would legalized brothels.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Steve Holt to Leave Shoals Chamber of Commerce?

Steve Holt, aka Mr. Stephen B. Holt (we swear he's listed that way on the Shoals Chamber's web site--thinks a lot of himself, doesn't he?), recently took some hits from us and others for his remarks concerning the recruitment of foreign business in which he used National Alabama as an example. Our quote was: If Mr. Holt, or anyone else, thinks that the RSA's deal with Canada's National Rail Car is a success in any sense of the word, we see the need for more psychiatric treatment centers, not foreign business.

From our friend O.B.:
I see the need for new leadership in not only the Shoals CoC, but also the airport board, Florence city council including the mayor, the UNA board of trustees and the Lauderdale Co. commission.

Sources close to Holt say we may not have him to kick around much longer. The City of Huntsville is seeking a new director for its chamber of commerce, and Holt reportedly interviewed and made the short list.


We're happy to announce that the Southland Restaurant in Sheffield has decided to stay open, at least for the immediate future. Their July 11th auction failed to meet the reserve, and the owners are reconsidering selling the landmark eatery. They're currently keeping shorter summer hours, but should be back to regular business hours in the fall.


Yesterday we published a report from C.R. in which he discussed the drug related arrest of Cherokee street/sanitation worker Douglas Michael Williams. We've learned that Williams had warrants for pending assault charges at the time of his employ with the town. We're sure sanitation workers are hard to find, but surely a quick check for recent troubles should be standard pre-hiring policy for any municipality.


From C. R.:

Part Time Help

When Cherokee's Burger King Four cut the town’s budget, two employees from the police department resigned within a few months. The council’s solution was to hire two part time police officers at nine dollars an hour, with no benefits.

The old saying is “you get what you pay for”. The town hired two people that no other police department would hire. Do you remember Officer Ambien from Leighton? He shot into a wall, because he thought he saw ninjas in his Sheffield apartment.

After being instructed to stop taking Ambien, the officer failed a drug test given by the City of Leighton, according to sources. Ambien was still in the officers system. The officer was told he no longer worked for the police department.

Officer Ambien worked at the Colbert County Sheriff’s Department before Leighton and had to resign after a car wreck while on duty. Sources inside the department have told me that it had to do with a failed drug test.

Many Cherokee Citizens state that Officer Ambien stays in the tri-cities most of his shift, around the Sheffield area.

The other officer hired, a former Tuscumbia officer, already has problems. Several Cherokee Citizens have complained of the officer illegally searching their cars. One woman stated that she went into the gas station and when she returned the officer was searching her car. She stated that she was never pulled over.

Time for a Drug Test

It is time for the Town of Cherokee to pass an ordinance that would require all town employees and all board members to be randomly drug tested.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cherokee Odds & Lauderdale Sheriff Ends

First we have a report from C.R.:

More Bad News for Cherokee

The little Town of Cherokee has been dragged though the mud, time after time. Its current and former elected leaders refuse to work together. The town’s budget was slashed and full time employees were replaced with part time help.

The arrest of a full time town employee has rocked the little town. Douglas Michael Williams a town street/sewer worker was arrested Thursday for unlawful distribution of a controlled substance (methamphetamine) and two counts of unlawful possession of a controlled substance, Franklin County Sheriff Shannon Oliver said.

The employee was hired several years ago by former Mayor Mignon Willis. Willis is currently on the Cherokee Water Board and refuses to take a mandated federal drug test.

More Tomorrow...


For those who have asked about Snicker Doodles, the female English Bulldog who was taken from her kennel last week, she has yet to be recovered. We understand that Doodles' parents had workmen on their property in the days before she disappeared. This should be a reminder to everyone to ask for and check the references of any company that places a large number of workers on your property.


Yes, Virginia, there really is a Belgreen Bear. Apparently two black bears have been seen recently in the areas of Spruce Pine and Bellgreen, Alabama, and Golden, Mississippi. You can read about the sightings, as well as join the fan page here:


We recently commented on the renovations currently ongoing at the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Office in the courthouse. The upheaval has seemingly caused some problems for that department. Many are concerned that all case files are now being housed in the Community Corrections department where even inmates who work there may have access. It's certainly something to think about.

In what we consider a much more significant snafu, the move interrupted communications in the office resulting in officers in the field being unable to check suspects for outstanding warrants. Apparently this problem had not been considered and no backup plan was in place.

Where was Ronnie Willis when his deputies were scrambling for information? We're told Sheriff Willis was away at a sheriff's conference--his third one this year. No one thinks the office of sheriff is easy, but anyone who runs for the position should be prepared to do what it takes to fulfill his or her responsibilities.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Is Steve Holt Serious?

Shoals Chamber of Commerce President Steve Holt shocked many in the community when he held up National Alabama as an example of what other countries can do for this area. Said Holt:

If you look at the more recent investments in this market — National Railcar began as a Canadian operation...

If Mr. Holt, or anyone else, thinks that the RSA's deal with Canada's National Rail Car is a success in any sense of the word, we see the need for more psychiatric treatment centers, not foreign business.


It also came as a shock that the Guizhou Shenqi Group is now being touted as wanting to build a graduate level college specializing in health care management. That's a far cry from the manufacture of natural medicines, whatever that may entail.

We have to wonder why, if Councilman Barry Morris' version of the proposed enterprise is correct, it hasn't been pointed out before. It's not surprising that some considered the possibility of a money laundering operation being involved.

Yes, the Shoals needs economic development from wherever we can get it. If Dr. Morris knew more about the company than was originally stated, he should have come forward much earlier; however, the field of heath care management is far removed from pharmaceuticals. Unless someone clarifies this company's interest in the property, we suggest Sam Pendleton and James Barnhart were correct in asking questions of this Chinese gift horse.


The Lauderdale County Sheriff's office and its dispatch center are being temporarily separated in order to remodel the courthouse's second floor offices. More than one person has suggested to us that Sheriff Ronnie Willis prefers that arrangement be made permanent after the renovations are complete. Should the sheriff's dispatch operation be permanently housed with the county's 911 offices? Just what are the pros and cons? We welcome further input from the community, input both to us and the county commission if there should be a tremendous downside to this arrangement.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Good Judgment is Not Micro-Management

Our third and currently last installment on the Tuscumbia City School situation from a regular reader/contributor:

About two months ago the Administration of TCS allowed an unsupervised senior student campout on the grounds of Deshler. Unfortunately some students in attendance at the camp out vandalized the school. The teachers at DHS were rightly outraged. There was talk of calling off the 2011 DHS graduation. The Superintendent asked the School Board what would be the appropriate punishment for students at a regular school board meeting. Members of the School Board gave varying answers but the dominant theme was the Code of Student Conduct gives direction to the Administration for proper student punishment. The School Board pointed out that the Grievance policy gives any student or parent the right of appeal. This is an example of the Administration asking for micro-management and the Board on reflection pointing out that policy exists to handle the situation. This was not micro-management, just good management.


It seems that the RSA will be out over 900 million in 2011 for its share of state retirement benefits. They predict a shortfall by 2023. Logically, ridding itself of some bad investments comes to mind as one solution, but who would want to purchase National Alabama? The alabaster pachyderm of Barton is fast approaching one billion dollars in costs, and no end is in sight. If you can think of someone who needs a mile long industrial facility located in the boondocks, please let us know and we'll pass it on to Dr. Bronner.


To all residents of Lauderdale County: If you think your property tax is too high, by all means ask for a clarification. Do all that it takes to make it right. We greatly admire Danny Hendrix, but he does not do the actual appraisals. His staff, many untrained, do the appraisals of property in this county.

This brings us back to complaints that these positions are filled by those having only a GED or high school diploma. It's a "who you know" situation when it comes to jobs at the Lauderdale County Courthouse. Contact the Lauderdale County Commission and let them know how disappointed in them you are for allowing this to continue all these years. Property in Lauderdale isn't worth more, or much more, than in Colbert or Franklin Counties--it's just that we have no trained appraisers and apparently no board to mediate disputes. Let's try to change that, shall we?


Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Pound Principal

It may be known officially as the Florence-Lauderdale Animal Shelter, but we all know that most call it the "Dog Pound." Other animals make their way to this, sometimes last, destination, but dogs more than most due to the leash laws. Make no mistake that we support such laws, but the result is more euthanasia...both for dogs, cats, and other small animals.

Our friend the Brown Recluse recently lost her long-time family member, Peppy--the Mound of Round Hound. She and Ol' Boy decided it was time to acquire another canine companion; Peppy would have wanted that for them. Instead of looking at fancy dog magazines or the TimesDaily classifieds, this wonderful couple visited the shelter and came home with their latest addition.

Here's hoping he makes a wonderful new family member. Here's hoping more will emulate the Browns in their wise choice.


We recently received an e-mail with links to several sites listing the cost of illegal aliens in the U.S. Most of the links were not in service and were unverifiable. We did find that two were still working and are worth looking at:

The High Cost of Cheap Labor

Immigration and Welfare


In other news of non-working links, the site Christie Scott Is Innocent is no longer accessible. Most of the points made by Jeremy Scott concerned issues extraneous to the case itself. Perhaps he has wisely chosen to put his efforts and funds into activities that will have a better chance of securing his wife a second trial.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Where is Calvin Roman Hankins?

Calvin Roman Hankins is now confirmed as the main suspect in an early morning stabbing death in Muscle Shoals. Hankins is a 31 year-old Sheffield resident with previous assault arrests dating back several years.


More on Tuscumbia City Schools from a long-time reader:

During the Jim Berry administration at Tuscumbia City Schools the DHS principal did not recommend a DHS alumnae math teacher for tenure. The Tuscumbia Education Association rose in protest. The Board thru management or was it micro-management at the request of the TEA reversed the Superintendent. Over time this action was correct, the teacher is rock solid and a valuable asset! The picture in the Times Daily contains the same retired teachers and wife's of former school board members who asked the board to do the very same thing they now see as wrong. Time dulls memory and logic fades when false piety rule the day rather than true concern for what is best for TCS.


For those who have asked:

The Lauderdale County Sheriff's Office is temporarily relocating to the basement of the Lauderdale County courthouse while demolition and renovation of the old offices, located on the 2nd floor of the courthouse, takes place. LCSO dispatch operations is being moved to 'E-911'. The project is expected to be completed by the first of 2012.

One hopes that 'extreme caution' is used during the demolition process as there is most likely asbestos present in some of the old building materials when one considers the age of the building.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bad Teacher?/Good Immigraton!

We present two views on recent topics. First the Tuscumbia School Board situation--as with any issue, there are always two sides. Failing to renew the contract of the current superintendent may have been done for the wrong reasons, or the right reasons; it is not micromanagement. Surely the superintendent of any system should be the utmost concern for that system's board of education. Here is a take from a regular Tuscumbia reader:

It is peculiar that the same Gene Balding who lives in Russellville and teaches for the Tuscumbia Board of Education is bashing the Board for Micro-management! Not too many years ago he was a member of 11 teachers at R.E. Thompson School who petitioned the Board of Education to over-rule Superintendent Royce Massey who wanted to tenure a principal (Gillespie). The Board over-ruled the Superintendent and Mr Balding's group got it's way. Urging Micro-management? The Pot calling the Kettle black? Hypocrite? Whose community is he talking about? He sends his kids to Russellville, shops there, and lives there. More to come on a similar circumstance at DHS during the Jim Berry administration.

We look forward to more from this concerned citizen and thank him for his input.


We plan to feature several articles on both the good and bad sides of immigration in the days to come. Here is the story of Mary Carton's mother, originally published as part of a larger article in Grit Magazine. This is what our country is about. Mrs. Carton, we salute you.

My Mom was born in Yugoslavia. Her Dad was German and Mom Hungarian. After WWII broke out a German officer rode up to the door of their house and told my Grandfather that he was to report for duty, and if he didn’t, they would come back and shoot him. After much discussion with my Grandmother, he decided to report. He came home a few times, but is listed as MIA in the area of Yugoslavia now known as Bosnia. In the mean time, my Grandmother was taken to a Russian concentration camp. Mom at seven years old was left to fend for herself, begging for food, after her Grandfather’s death, her brothers took off for Germany. After a year on her own, she eventually found her Mother, who was rented out by the Russians to work in farmer’s fields during the day. She was then also placed in the concentration camp with her Mother for 18 months until they paid to escape with a group of 60 from the camp.

After going to Austria, somehow they were united with my two uncles and came to the U.S. as refugees aboard the troop carrier USS Hanselman. How did Mom and Dad meet? My Dad requested a family to come and work for him through the Catholic Relief Services. Another family was to come and work for him, but their children developed the measles, so Mom’s family was selected. After a brief courtship, mostly hiding and kissing behind a stack of milk crates, they were married and had five children.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Chinese Are Coming?

Do you think the Chinese company that wished to purchase the old Florence Golf and Country Club property just threw a dart and came up with Florence? Don't think so. UNA has a recruiting office in China and has in the past announced its intentions of awarding several slots in its nursing program to Chinese students. Money talks, and to think we once were worried about the Japanese buying our golf courses...

We're also curious about this company's alternative natural medicines. Are they talking rhino horns as a homeopathic Viagra? How would this fit in with any existing curricula at the university? From looking at their web site, we would venture any foray into U.S. enterprise would have to be at least partially approved by the F.D.A.

Let's not condemn Mr. Pendleton or Mr. Barnhart until we have the full story. Remember, it was university president William Cale who convinced the Guizhou Shenqi
Group to retract their offer. Perhaps mediation isn't his strong point.

Related post: Chinese Nurses?


It seems Tuscumbia School Superintendent Joe Walters will have to review and act on complaints against the very board of education that recently terminated his contract. We have no concrete idea why Walters' contract is not being renewed, but we can definitely say he is handling his responsibilities for the remainder of his term by taking the high road. We hope to have more on this later.


From Chris Ligon:

I think fundamentally, Shoalanda and I would agree that the ultimate solution would be a society of voluntarianism where people would simply pay other people for services in a non corrupted exchange and not feel entitled to charity that is the end result of the productive class having their labor gleaned at the point of a gun. However, just like the local journalist who I respect the most says, those days are gone.

So what we are dealing with is a fiat currency, manufactured debt and the upward flow of wealth that is channeled into all kinds of programs that do not benefit the people who are actually out here trying to make an honest living. So the question becomes... out of all the ways that the taxes from workers could be more fairly distributed to better our communities, why is it that other poor working people from Mexico should receive most of our outrage. Believe me, the people that brought them here and benefit the from their cheap labor aren't having to worry about paying for their kids' health care. This is a class warfare issue and when I see us fighting over the scraps of wealth instead of looking at who is sitting at the table, it saddens me.

Mr. Ligon's comments are profound, but "class warfare?" It's something to think about. Tomorrow another look at local immigration.


If you see Mary Carton today, wish her a happy birthday!


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Jane Fonda Comes to Florence/RSA Suing?

In a scathing, vitriolic press release, Jane Fonda said she is ashamed of Florence and its government for failing to enter into a business alliance with a Chinese company. After all, it was years ago that the Chinese aided those pesky Viet Cong (who were really nice if you got to know them).

Oh, wait, sorry. It wasn't Jane Fonda, it was UNA's president William Cale. Never mind. (Anyone think the "Gown" portion isn't holding up the "Town?")


In the "For What It's Worth" department, rumors are circulating around the state that the RSA is initiating a law suit against National Steel Car of Canada, the former parent company of National Alabama. We're unsure of the basis of such a suit, if one actually exists, but we're also pretty sure that the RSA has plenty of grounds from which to choose.


From a reader:
I don't blame illegal immigrants for our healthcare problems. Besides, I think every HUMAN BEING has the right to healthcare. What, should we just say "no healthcare" for those people's innocent children?? Wow.

Our answer is simple. The United States cannot afford to provide health care for its own indigent children, but it can do a much better job if no illegals are straining the system. Who should come first: Our children or theirs? It shouldn't be a tough choice.

Neither is health care a right. That's why we pay through the nose for it.


Monday, July 11, 2011

What Illegal Immigration Has Cost the Shoals

Illegal Immigration

A Guest Commentary By

Mary Carton

My Grandmother, two uncles and Mom escaped from a Russian concentration camp toward the end of WWII and applied to come to the USA. Everything had been taken away from them when the Russians took them. The refugees came to this country on a troop carrier with very little in possessions in 1950. They were investigated to make sure they weren’t part of the SS or other Nazi group before getting approval to come. Once in this country they were told that you are in America now, you’ll have to learn English and they did. They were lent, and I said lent $700 and sent to a farm in Alabama to milk cows. They didn’t have the option of not working or where they were going to locate. A few years later, the US government came calling requesting payment of the loan, and they repaid the USA.

Now fast forward to the present. Driver’s license and other state correspondence have to be given in both English and Spanish. They can get free medical care and don’t worry about paying for it. Just give the hospital a false name and address, have your child and disappear. If it wasn’t for the illegals, Coffee Health Group could still be the owners of ECM, Shoals, and Russellville Hospitals. It is rumored that CHG lost ten million the first year they owned Russellville, a large portion of the loss due to illegals. This coupled with low Medicare reimbursements sent CHG on a nose dive they couldn’t pull out of. On the flip side Russellville Hospital would still be delivering babies.

Illegals can get certain lawyers paid for that natives can’t. They can kill someone in a wreck and not have to pay much of a price for it. And they demand and demand for more. A friend of mine who immigrated legally from Columbia made the statement recently that this country just gives too much hand outs, both to illegals and those on welfare who are able to work, but don’t want to. She’s right. It’s time we end the free rides.


My name is Snicker Doodles and I'm in a lot of trouble. I've been dognapped and desperately need your help. Yesterday morning before dawn someone entered my bachelorette pad in Tuscumbia and took me. My mom is frantic.

I don't like to brag, but I'm worth a great deal more than $500.00, so that means whoever took me has committed a felony. My mom will take me back with no questions asked and is even offering a reward. Don't let anyone try to give you a good deal on me. I'm not theirs to sell.

Miss Shoalanda has said if you can help have the dognappers arrested, she'll offer a small reward also. Thanks to her and the folks at The Connection who prettied up my portrait for my press release.

I'm very scared. Please help me!


Sunday, July 10, 2011

UNA Robber Devante Barnett Charged in Murder

Devante Taija Barnett, aka D-Bug, is one of three young Florence men arrested for the Friday morning murder of Joshua Honey. Barnett is a former Florence High School athlete who excelled in varsity football. The one-time Florence running back was arrested in April of last year for receiving stolen property and in January of this year for his part in two late night armed robberies of UNA students. Barnett and his two companions, LaMarcus Lashore and Tyrus Thompson now face capital murder charges.


Tyrone Otis Chandler of Florence was also charged along with Devante Barnett in the January 2011 UNA robberies. A third suspect in that case has yet to be apprehended. It may well be that one of Barnett's two accomplices in the murder of Joshua Honey is the third robber Florence police are still seeking.

Related post: More on UNA Robbery


Now on eBay: Link


Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Hot Summer: Murder & Porn

Statistics show crimes of violence rise during the summer months. Florence had not had a murder in 2011 until two weeks into the summer season. There seems to be more than meets the eye to this homicide, but we won't discount the heat in its ability to make tempers flare.

The 221 South Blair Street home where 17 year-old Joshua Honey was shot and killed early yesterday morning lies between the heavily traveled Huntsville Road and Veterans Drive. Deputy Chief Tim Shaddix of the Florence Police Department has said the investigation has several leads.It shouldn't take long to solve the murder of this young teenager, but the senseless violence can never be undone. Our sympathies to Joshua's family.


Alexander Spence White is a young man who seems determined to make the wrong choices. White was living at the upscale address of 123 White Oak Lane in Florence's Oak Hills Subdivision when he was arrested in January 2008 for drug possession and carrying a concealed weapon. In January of this year, the now 22 year-old White was living in Decatur when charged with violating the conditions of his probation.

Six months later, White was still free and had returned to Florence when he made the mistake of allowing a computer tech to see the approximately 65 images of child porn stored on his computer. Judging from past sentences handed down in Lauderdale County for such crimes, Alexander Spence White won't be receiving probation this time.


We commented some time ago on the new owners/editor of the TimesDaily discontinuing the bi-weekly local history column. We've recently learned that one of the regular contributors to the series was told "they didn't need her kind of writing anymore."

How sad when a newspaper group from a different geographic area will take our money, but not care about our history. That's why we call it the TotallyDecatur.


Friday, July 8, 2011


This is Aldani Faith Byrd of Killen; she's missing for the second time this year. In May, the rising Brooks junior argued with her mother and disappeared for several days while ostensibly trying to make it to Birmingham. Byrd's mother Angela Fountain lives in Killen, and her father in Tuscumbia. After returning home, Byrd began a stint in the Lauderdale County Attention Home for girls. According to reports, Byrd has again absconded.

If you see Byrd, please call the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Office at 760-5757. More photos of Byrd may be viewed at her Facebook page: Link

UPDATE: Byrd has been found around 4:30 p.m. We hope this is her last foray into escape.


How well will City of Florence police contend with texters who drive, or should that be drivers who text? From one reader:

FPD refuses to enforce the current ban on skateboarders downtown, so why should they enforce this latest ordinance? At times, especially on 'First Fridays', one cannot walk without fear of being run over. Skateboarders flaunt their contempt for the ban by skateboarding all around the Lauderdale County courthouse in plain sight of passing FPD officers.


Thursday, July 7, 2011

It's Official: Michelle Eubanks to Shoals Hospital

Sources with Regional Care report that today is Michelle Rupe Eubanks first day with the hospital giant. On Monday, she will officially become the spokesperson for Shoals Hospital. We had reported earlier that the TimesDaily was downsizing; however, we're not sure if Mrs. Eubanks' departure is related to this restructuring or is a rung up the career ladder for the former reporter.

Related post: Let's Hire/Fire Some People


The City of Florence has announced it will vigorously enforce the new texting while driving ban. The ban starts in two weeks, and it should be interesting to see the additional case load on Florence Municipal Court.


Is McLaughlin the answer to problems with the weir at Cypress Creek? Many experienced rafters seem to think so. Perhaps the problem now isn't the answer, but getting the City of Florence to accept it.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Criminal Case Against Jeremy Shane Hall

The Alabama Bureau of Investigation has finished its investigation of Russellville police officer Sgt. Jeremy Shane Hall. The Phil Campbell resident is currently on unpaid leave pending an official hearing.

While four women have filed civil suits against Hall, the ABI's case involves only three, one of whom Hall is reputed to have had sex with. The case will now be presented to the next grand jury session. It was originally reported that five former Russellville City Jail inmates had filed civil suits; however, only four are listed in the May 13th complaint: Elizabeth Daniel Gassaway, Sarah Elizabeth Mayfield, Christy Trapp Sanders, and Christy Kelton. Police Chief Chris Hargett is also listed as a defendant in the suit.

Hall reportedly was married at the time of the complaints and is the father of three children. Sources say his employment hearing will not take place until after the grand jury meets.

Related post: Russellville Hit with 20 Million in Lawsuits


Mayor Chuck Lansdell and Councilwoman Thelma Lambert were again no-shows at the last town council meeting in Cherokee. Reportedly the most important city business to be discussed was the addition of signatory names to the town's bank account; however, we're surprised the duo were not present to protest the action.


Happy Birthday to Len Gregory, a name we hope to see on future Colbert County ballots!


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Michelle Eubanks to Regional Care?

From a reader:

Is it not interesting the Michelle Eubanks announces at Muscle Shoals Council meeting Tuesday night that she is leaving the Times Daily to take a position with Regional Care? Then, today she writes a glowing report in the Times about her new employer? Conflict of interest? Was this already in the works while she was still attending Keller Hospital board meetings and writing articles about them? Does this explain a lot of things about her past articles about Keller?

Let's give her the benefit of the doubt, just maybe she is going to "investigate and report" what happened to ECM hospital's employees retirement fund. Or maybe she will report Carl Bailey's severance package like she did Mr. Anderson's. Did it really include membership to Turtle Point country club despite the fact that ECM was sinking?

We've not been able to find any additional details concerning this, but if true, it does make one pause to reconsider what has recently been written concerning both hospitals.


And from another reader, two conversations that reportedly took place in the Lauderdale County Sheriff's office where a new employee is training:

The first is a conversation which supposedly occurred between one of Sheriff Ronnie Willis' new PYTs and an unknown caller:

PYT: "Sheriff's Office."
Caller: "I need to speak to the Chief Deputy, please."
PYT: "Who?"
Caller: "I need to speak to the Chief Deputy, please."
PYT: "Who??"
Caller (frustration evident): "The Chief Deputy."
PYT: "I don't know who you're talking about."

Another conversation:

PYT: "Sheriff's Office."
Caller: "This is Jenoice. I need to speak to the Sheriff."
PYT: "I don't know if he's in, I can send you to his voice mail."
Caller: "I really need to speak to him. It's important."
PYT: "I can send you to his voice mail."
Caller: "This is Jenoice Bevis. I REALLY need to speak to him."
PYT: "WHO did you say you were with...?"

If true, we consider it karma. We've never been able to get Jenoice on the phone, and her employees don't suggest residence beyond the left side of the bell intelligence curve. Our tax dollars at work, folks.


Monday, July 4, 2011

Tommy: Just As True Today, July 4, 2011

Many may not be aware that Rudyard Kipling lived for many years in the United States and considered seeking American citizenship. It was only a set of untimely events that deterred Kipling in his plan, but he carried the love of his wife's native country with him until his death. His poem Tommy is written specifically about the English soldiers of his day, but is equally true for all armed forces in all eras.

I went into a public-'ouse to get a pint o' beer,
The publican 'e up an' sez, "We serve no red-coats here."
The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:
O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away";
But it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, wait outside";
But it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide,
The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
O it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide.

Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.
Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, 'ow's yer soul?"
But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.

We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;
While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind",
But it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind,
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind.

You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool -- you bet that Tommy sees!

Special thanks to all our troops serving in Afghanistan and other foreign venues. We sincerely hope that by our next Independence Day you will be happily settled back at home with your families.


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Now's the Time to Remember Harold & Joey Pugh

If you lived in this area in the late 1990s, you know who Harold and Joey Pugh were. If you don't know their story, here's a synopsis that features the crimes of Donald Ray Risley:

“Donald Risley, one of Ferguson's codefendants, testified at Ferguson's trial and corroborated most of Ferguson's statement to police.   Risley's wife and Ferguson's wife were first cousins, and Risley had been friends with Ferguson for approximately eight years.   Risley testified that Ferguson had approached him and asked him if he wanted to get involved in the plan to rob banks to get some ‘easy money.’  (R. 510.)   Risley stated that Moore and Maxwell were the ‘leaders of the group.’  (R. 514.)   Risley, like Ferguson, testified concerning the circumstances surrounding the murders at Cane Creek and the bank robbery in Belmont.   Risley testified that on the afternoon of the murders, Ferguson picked him up at a friend's, Daryl May's, house and that he and Ferguson then went to Maxwell's apartment.   From there, Risley said, they went to Cane Creek where they saw the victims' truck parked at the boat landing.   Risley stated that he was armed with a .357 pistol, that Maxwell had a 9mm pistol, that Graham had a Colt .45 pistol, and that Ferguson was carrying a .357 pistol.   Testifying to essentially the same facts as Ferguson did concerning how they approached the Pughs and ordered them into the boat, Risley further testified that Maxwell and Ferguson got into the boat with the victims and Maxwell drove the boat downstream.   Risley said that the victims were sitting in the back of the boat, while Ferguson was standing near the front and was pointing a gun at the Pughs.   Risley testified that neither he nor Ferguson [was] threatened into robbing the Pughs and that no one threatened Ferguson to get him to get into the boat.   According to Risley, when Ferguson and Maxwell returned in the boat, approximately 10 minutes after they had left, neither victim was in the boat and Ferguson was sitting on a pedestal-type seat in the front of the boat.

“Risley continued to testify to the events that occurred after the murders up until the time of the robbery of the bank in Mississippi.   Risley testified to essentially the same facts as did Ferguson in his statement to police.   Risley stated that Ferguson took the pedestal-type seat out of the boat and put it in the truck because, Risley said, Ferguson was afraid that he might have touched it and left his fingerprints on it.   Risley also stated that while he was at Cane Creek, Ferguson never appeared to be sick or upset, and he never saw Ferguson throw up.   Risley further told police that several days after the murders, Ferguson, in response to Risley's question whether he had shot the Pughs, said that he had and further told Risley that he and Maxwell had shot them because they did not want any witnesses.   Ferguson also told Risley that he shot Harold Pugh and that Maxwell shot Joey Pugh. Maxwell, who was also present during Risley's and Ferguson's conversation about the shooting, told Risley that Harold was not dead after the first shot, so he shot him again and he made Ferguson shoot Joey again.

From DK:

There is a Parole hearing coming up July -13- 2011 for one of the defendants for the murder of Joey and Harold Pugh..."Donald Ray Risley", his release date will be 8-9-2012. I understand some Elected Officials from Colbert County are writing letters of Protest, and others may not - saying he only has another year before being turned out, we say he does the full amount of Time Sentenced for his part in this !!

In order to protest Risley's parole, please write:

Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles
South Ripley Street
PO Box 302405
Montgomery, Al 36130-2405
Telephone: (334) 353-7771, 353-8067
FAX: (334) 242-1809
TDD: (334)242-0110
Re: Donald Ray Risley, AIS# 200233


We have received information form Ronnie Pannell that there are in fact only five victims of the low-head dam on Cypress Creek. Again, this is five too many. Let us stress that we do not believe in the Nanny State, and feel each individual has a right to make choices; however, they should be informed choices, and our government should not create machines of death for its citizens.

Please join others who wish to save Cypress Creek from both the dump and the drowning machine at the weir. There will be a regularly scheduled Florence City Council meeting at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday July 5th at the old Municipal auditorium. A work session will precede the meeting at 3:00 p.m. Please be there to support these two causes.