Wednesday, November 30, 2011

UNA Immigration March/Justice for David Andrasik

Amanda Hernandez

No matter where our feelings may lie concerning the illegal immigration issue, the program following the scheduled Thursday march should be informative. We hope all who have time will also have the inclination to attend.

On December 1, 2011, the University of North Alabama’s Hispanic Culture Organization will be holding the March Toward Understanding. The goal of the event is to educate people on what the immigration bill is doing to not only the individuals targeted, but the community as well.

The event was created in opposition to the recent passing of Alabama’s immigration laws. Amanda Hernandez says the mission of the march is to “educate and inform people on the immigration laws and how the laws will negatively impact the community.” Hank Sherrod from the Alabama chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) will be in attendance of the march. Speakers from the DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act, Alabama Dreamer’s Organization and the Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice will be attending as well.

Both those in opposition of and support of the bill are encouraged to attend since the overall goal of the march is to inform the community on both sides of the immigration law. The group has obtained a permit for the event on December 1. Originally, the march was to begin at McFarland Park but that has since been changed and will begin at Wilson Park instead. The march will still be concluding on UNA’s campus as the participants walk from Wilson Park to the amphitheater on campus.


If you haven't previously, be sure to read the new comments concerning David Andrasik's death. They are located at the bottom of the November 27th blog. While David's murder is scheduled to be on the January Franklin County grand jury docket, there has been no firm date set as yet. We encourage you to join this site:

Justice for David Martin Andrasik


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How is the State of Alabama Spending YOUR Money?

Getting value for money--it's something most of us have been taught from our youth. Yet it seems to be a concept with which those connected to Alabama government are unfamiliar. Our friend Mark Davis recently called our attention to an article in the Alabama Family Rights Association newsletter.

For 2008, the last year for which such data are available, an estimated minimum of 1.31 million individuals (children, parents, guardians) were affected by legal rulings established by Alabama family courts. During that year, DHR received over 143K in Federal funding to assist the state in complying with the Alabama Access and Parenting Program. Just what was accomplished? From state reports:

The Alabama Department of Human Resources show only 677 parents and 695 children were involved in the Alabama Access and Visitation Programs for FY 2008. Further, the government data shows only 217 divorced parents and 246 unmarried parents were served.

Out of these numbers the services provided accounted for only 165 mediation services, 7 Counseling services, 117 Parent Education, 250 Supervised Visitation, 37 Neutral Drop-off sites, and only 26 parenting plans developed.

The question asked and unanswered: Why are there 1,577,765 persons subject to child custody judgments in the state of Alabama and only 26 parenting plans implemented.

We hardly know which is worse--the lack of oversight in these programs or the number of families involved--families torn apart and in which children suffer...


Anyone recognize any of these children from Patton Elementary School in Florence? This eBay listing is described as: Patton Elementary School, Florence, Alabama class picture. From the estate of Ann Huston Acker (Mrs. Guy Acker). Unknown date. This picture may be an old reprint. It is 5" x 7". I believe Mrs. Acker and her sister Miss Ellie Huston were teachers at this school. There is no writing on the back of the picture to identify the students or their teacher. Link


Monday, November 28, 2011

Downside to New Shelter Policy?

We recently blogged that Vinnie Grosso of the Florence-Lauderdale Animal Shelter was seeking input into how to improve adoption rates. Today The Connection announced that Grosso has done away with the drop boxes that many use to abandon animals, as well as to remand lost pets.

A friend has pointed out that many will now simply leave these animals at the shelter's door, to be killed by cars or, in some cases, larger animals. Which policy is better? We've heard many say that taking any animal to the shelter is almost a sure death sentence. Neither the drop box nor the absence of one is ideal.

If you haven't neutered your pets, why not? Don't get Junior or Sissy that puppy or kitten for Christmas unless you have the funds to care for it properly.

Shelter Closes Drop Box


Want to help homeless animals this Christmas? Here's three great places to start:

Florence Shelter
(Food or Cash)
702 East College Street (Behind City Cemetery)

Maisie's Fund
c/o Dr. Joe Cobb
(Food or Cash)
930 Hwy. 20 East

PAWS of the Shoals
(Cash or Foster Home)
Web Site


No matter your personal opinion of director Ken Russell, there's no denying his talent:


Sunday, November 27, 2011

One More Fatherless Home: Update on David Andrasik

David Andrasik & Infant Daughter

We recently came upon the following statistics for our great state; they should be of interest to everyone:

Children from one Parent homes account for:

  1. 85% to 90% of contested Alabama Child custody cases physical custody of the Child goes to one Parent, typically the Mother. (Bureau of the U.S. Census; Taken in to Custody, at page 35, by Stephen Baskerville, PhD., March 2007.
  2. 63% of youth suicides. (Source: U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services, Bureau of the Census).
  3. 71% of pregnant teenagers. (Source: US Dept. of Health & Human Services).
  4. 90% of all homeless and runaway Children. (Source: US Dept. of Health & Human Services).
  5. 85% of all Children that exhibit behavioral disorders. (Source: Center for Disease Control).
  6. 80% of rapists motivated with displaced anger. (Source: Criminal Justice & Behavior, Vol. 14, p. 403-26).
  7. 71% of all high school dropouts. (Source: National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools).
  8. 75% of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers. (Source: Rainbows for all God`s Children).
  9. 85% of all youths sitting in prisons. (Source: Fulton Co. Georgia jail populations, Texas Dept. of Corrections).


The following information is located on the website of the Alabama Department of Human Resources.[1]

  1. Alabama currently has the 4th highest divorce rate in the country.
  2. Only about 50 percent of our Children will spend their entire Childhood in an intact family.
  3. In 2000, 29 percent of Alabama’s families with minor Children were headed by a single Parent compared to the national average of 27 percent.
  4. Divorce and non-marital childbearing have become commonplace and have dramatically altered Children’s lives.
  5. Nationally, 40 percent of Children whose fathers live outside the home have no contact with them. (Does not include data regarding number of Fathers alienated by the Mother.)
  6. The other 60 percent had contact an average of 69 days during the year. (This figure supports current Alabama legal practice for standardized visitation orders issued by Alabama judges for less than 80 days per year.)
  7. Children from father-absent homes are five times more likely to live in poverty, three times more likely to fail in school, two to three times more likely to develop emotional and behavioral problems, and three times more likely to commit suicide.
  8. The chief predictor of crime in a neighborhood is the percentage of homes without fathers.
  9. Up to 70 percent of adolescents charged with murder are from fatherless homes. (Source: U.S. Dept. of Justice).
  10. Up to 70 percent of long-term prison inmates grew up in fatherless homes. (Source: U.S. Dept. of Justice).



This brings us to David Martin Andrasik, the 42 year-old Red Bay man shot to death in early November. We previously blogged that Mr. Andrasik was stepfather to two children as well as the father of an infant daughter not two weeks old. We've received word that David and Carla's middle child, also a daughter, was his biological child as well.

We will publish information on the next Franklin County grand jury as soon as it's available. In the mean time Hershel D. Graham remains free--yes, this man with known mental problems is ostensibly enjoying life while David's family undoubtedly suffered through the holiday weekend. Let's hope Franklin County District Attorney Joey Rushing can hit this one out of the ballpark.

Related post: David Andrasik


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Only in Alabama...

Can we have three holidays in a row: Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Iron Bowl Day. We're pretty sure that the sequence is logical. If the Iron Bowl were to be played first, half the state would not be properly thankful, nor would they feel like spending their hard earned dollars on those who may have supported the opposing team.


Christopher Blake Pyron, 22, of Florence has made not only national news, as reported, but international news, as he became unruly in the Florence Wal-Mart Thanksgiving night. Pyron, who was termed drunk by local police, was tased and arrested for Public Intoxication and Resisting Arrest. Great to have the Shoals in the news, isn't it?


It's that time. May the best team win...

Shoalanda Speaks

Friday, November 25, 2011

Matthew Bassie is NOT a Coyote...

Jerrod Cole, a 19 year-old Waterloo resident, is apparently no fan of coyotes. At approximately 5:30 p.m. on the night of November 8th, Cole shot trespassing bow-hunter Matthew Bassie, also 19. When questioned by Game Warden Johnny Johnson, Cole stated he mistook the 5' 10" neon orange hat-wearing Bassie for a coyote. Cole then shot Bassie with his 20 gauge shotgun, 13 of 34 pellets penetrating the trespasser's chest; however, Bassie remained relatively unscathed by the bird shot and was released from the hospital after treatment. Authorities have not reported if the two men knew each other previously..

While Matthew Bassie has been charged with misdemeanor trespassing on the Cole property at the intersection of County Roads 8 and 100, Jerrod Cole was arrested on November 22nd and charged with reckless endangerment, reckless assault, and hunting at night. The 2011 Wilson High School graduate currently attends Northwest Shoals Community College and is free on bond. Bassie is a graduate of Waterloo High School and attends the University of North Alabama. Apparently neither has taken classes in hunting safety.


Comments: During the early days of our blog, we allowed uncensored comments. After several threats to reveal the name of a rape victim, we decided to discontinue the comment portion of our column. We regularly receive numerous comments on our Facebook page, but we realize not everyone is registered on that social networking site. Therefore, we are resuming comments today, all moderated in advance.

Absolutely no comments containing vulgarity, profanity, or similar language will be published. Neither will we publish libelous comments or remarks in which posters label others with unsavory names. Hint: Calling those who do not share your beliefs "stupid" or "stinking" is hardly intelligent debate and will not be tolerated.

That's it--have at it.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

Yes, today is the day that the Bald Eagle has competition for his place as the national bird. Yet, it should be more than that. We often hear the question, "What would happen if everything was taken from you today for which you had failed to give thanks yesterday?"

For most of us, it would be almost impossible to enumerate our many blessings and give individual thanks in prayer. So which things really matter? If we lost our gold bracelet, or our lucky gold eagle coin, or any number of things, would our lives change dramatically? No.

The things we should be most thankful for are our family and loved ones. These can be taken away almost instantly by a drunk driver, heart attack, or malicious false gossip by the village busybody. These are what we need to offer special thanks for today and everyday.

What if we no longer have even these? We suggest offering thanks for the time we had those loved ones with us...but if those you love are still with you, don't forget to tell them how much you care each day. It's a great day to start that tradition.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Shoalanda Speaks!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Memo to Troy Oliver: "Hispanic" Is Not A Race

Once again, Russellville's mayor Troy Oliver has shown himself something less than a scholar. Defending the town's refusal to issue Yemen native Salah Salah a liquor license, Oliver stated:
We’ve issued alcohol licenses to a Vietnamese and to two or three Hispanics.

While Oliver and Russellville elected officials may have issued liquor licenses to two or three Hispanics, it obviously had nothing to do with race. Here's some photos of well known Mexican Hispanics...

Jorge Ramos - TV Executive - 100% Spanish (Hidalgo)

Carlos Pietro - Native of Mexico City - Former Director of Huntsville Symphony

Guillermo Del Toro - Native of Guadalajaro - Producer of Pan's Labyrynth

Edelmiro Cavazos - Former Mayor of Santiago

Perhaps the word Mayor Oliver was looking for was "Indian?" Yes, these are the ones who come to Russellville--the poorest of the poor--and many not even Hispanic since they speak only their native Indian language. Of course Salah and his attorney Billy Underwood may still be able to argue the race card in this specific case since the mini-mart owner is Middle Eastern--something we understand even the local Hispanic Indians look down on.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Is Graham Berry an Abuser?

Graham Berry

Graham Berry is 19 years old and a test case. The University of West Alabama freshman is a 2010 graduate of Lauderdale County High School where he played varsity football. Now Lauderdale County investigators have charged Berry with domestic abuse, not because he physically attacked his ex-girlfriend, but because of the emotional trauma he inflicted when he disseminated photos of the young woman in a state of undress.

Will a Lauderdale County jury find Graham Berry guilty? Considering that Berry is also charged with the display of obscene material and criminal coercion, he may be in the mood to accept a plea--should one be offered. The latter two charges are felonies, so we may assume by now Mr. Berry has realized he's in some very hot water.

Among Graham Berry's favorite quotations on his Facebook page is "She broke my heart, so I broke her jaw." Perhaps under the circumstances Berry might consider deleting that one.


Vinnie Grosso, head of Florence Animal Control, has asked for ideas concerning ways to improve adoption rates of shelter animals. That's a step in the right direction. Other areas have a much higher adoption rate than Florence and the Shoals. Perhaps we need to look into their methods. If you have ideas on this subject, please contact Mr. Grosso at 256-760-6676


Monday, November 21, 2011

Would You Do Business With An Atheist?

No matter how you answered the question, the fact is you probably do business with atheists on a regular basis. They are much like everyone else in the area; they love their families, run fair businesses, and pretty much blend in with the community.

Why are we asking this question today? First, we took some flack because of our blog on Jeremy Lane Green, the Shoals Humanist who sought to abolish public prayer at Brooks High School functions. We felt our article on Mr. Green was fair. He had every legal ground to stand on. Our main concerns with Green were questions concerning why he chose Brooks High School specifically, rather than addressing the entire county, and his embellishment of his employment on his Facebook page. These were fair questions to ask of someone who had thrust himself into the public arena. There was absolutely no ad hominem attack in what was written, since we felt...and yes knew...he was legally correct in his protest. That does not change whether you or I or anyone else does not like the current interpretation of the law.

The second reason we're addressing this issue today is recent, and not so recent, gossip concerning atheists who do business in the Shoals. Not long ago a small local forum accused a local businessman of being a Satanist because he did not believe in God. We feel pretty sure that if this gentleman did not believe in God, he did not believe in Satan either. Such attacks say more about the instigator than the one being libeled.

Now, we hear a second local businessman is being dragged through the mud by someone who professes to be a Christian--albeit a Christian who is in the same line of business as the atheist. Isn't that some coincidence, folks? I suppose as Christians we should buy products or services only from other Christians no matter how inferior they may be?

We have no problem with anyone selecting friends, mates, business suppliers, or dog walkers on the basis of their religious preference or non-preference. It's when certain people use a person's religious beliefs to smear their work or ethics that we have a problem

We don't believe Jesus commanded us to shun anyone based on his or her lack of belief. In fact, we're pretty sure you won't convert anyone by behaving in this manner. Think about it...


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Jen's 10th Annual Thanksgiving Feast

Once again, Jen's Cafe on South Pine Street in downtown Florence is offering a free Thanksgiving meal. You may contribute to Jen's efforts by reaching her here:

Jen's Cafe


Various local races are heating up; we now have two declared candidates for mayor in Florence. License Commissioner Mickey Haddock has his Facebook page up, and Florence Police Chief Rick Singleton states his will be up shortly.

We posted a question on our Facebook page: Which mayoral candidate once used the words to John Lennon's anthem Imagine in a speech? Vote if you're so inclined, and we'll have the answer soon.


To the left of our blog, we have a list of the ten most popular columns during the week. It's telling to note that for much of last week three of the ten featured teachers accused of sexual impropriety with their students: Kimberly Bynum, Keith McGuire, and Amanda Watkins. How sad those charged with the care of our young don't have the self-control to fulfill this charge.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Bad Boys: Cockfighters Edition

Why would you go to a cockfight? While I'm sure you, gentle readers, are saying you wouldn't, some people do. So...why do they go? After careful consideration we have arrived at the following conclusions:

1. To gamble on who wins.

2. To see two roosters with razors attached to their claws tear each other to shreds because they like the sight of blood, and violence gives them a thrill.

3. To sell concessions; you know, whatever the individuals who fall into the above two groups like--and it's probably not petit fours and fruit punch.

In other words, it's pretty safe to say that everyone attending these illegal events should be arrested, arraigned, tried, and...yes...found guilty. So, why are some caught in these circumstances at the community of Speaks not being made to face the consequences of their actions? Stating lack of evidence, Lawrence County Judge Angela Terry dismissed charges against the following:

* Loyd Leidon Brooks, 7451 Cullman County 1245, Cullman
* Jimmie Dumont Laney, 11466 U.S. 278, Cullman
* Richie Ray Kirby, 10346, Lawrence County 460, Moulton
* Matthew Thomas McDonald, 214 Hopewell Church Loop, Leighton
* Terry Elton McDonald, 160 Piney Woods Road, Russellville

How did those arrested at the August 7th raid defend themselves? From yesterday's TimesDaily:

Rusty Garnett, of Vinemont, said he and others received worse treatment from law enforcement than the alleged acts of cruelty against the animals. “We were laying in ant beds, and they said if we moved they’d Tase us.”

Well, Mr. Garnett, how dare they arrest you while laying? Didn't they know your family needed the eggs?

“People don’t realize this has been going on for hundreds of years,” said Tim McCroy, who wasn’t charged but was at the courthouse Wednesday in support of family. “It was handed down from the presidents.”

Presidents? Okay, that makes all the difference. One word of advice, ladies, if you see any of these men coming with a box of cigars, run...

Related post: Jason Dale Riddle


Friday, November 18, 2011

The Unconquered: Four Faces from the Fifties

Thanks to two local historians and Google, the mystery of the two unknown women on the Helen Keller postcard has been solved. The photograph depicts Helen Keller's last visit to her Ivy Green home on Friday, May 7, 1954. The visit was occasioned by the premiere of a feature documentary of her life debuting in Birmingham the next day.

On the viewers' far left is Nancy Hamilton. Hamilton was a well-known New York song writer and stage actress who produced the documentary The Unconquered. Hamilton will always be best known for her songs How High the Moon and The Old Soft Shoe, but it was the documentary of Keller's life that won her an Oscar in 1955. Hamilton died in New York in 1981.

Second from left is legendary actress Katharine Cornell. The acclaimed actress was one of Keller's closest friends and narrated Hamilton's film. While she appeared in only one motion picture, her stage performances were numerous, and many critics felt it was Cornell's narration that secured the Academy Award for Hamilton's documentary on the woman who became known as America's First Lady of Courage. Katharine Cornell died thirty years after her Tuscumbia visit in 1984.

Third from left is Polly Thompson, Keller's constant companion
and translator. Thompson entered Keller's employ in 1914 as a housekeeper and later succeeded Anne Sullivan as Helen's companion and translator, The native of Scotland suffered a stroke just three years after her visit to Keller's birthplace and died in 1960.

Helen Keller herself, shown here at the far right, never returned to the place of her birth again, but died in her Connecticut home in 1968. The May 1954 visit lasted less than half a day, and Keller and her party traveled on to Birmingham later that Friday night.

Today the film is available on DVD and is sometimes called Helen
Keller in her Story. The following is an Amazon review of the documentary:

While there is nothing fancy about this Academy Award 1955 documentary, HELEN KELLER IN HER STORY is a fascinating opportunity to both hear and see Helen Keller and her remarkable teacher, Anne Sullivan. Using newsreel footage; scenes from a 1919 silent film, DELIVERANCE (that both appeared in); and newly recorded footage, this documentary will give the viewer a rare opportunity to better understand the achievements of two very remarkable women. This is the perfect companion to the 1962 feature film, THE MIRACLE WORKER with Patty Duke and Anne Bancroft. These two films, along with Helen Keller's own book, THE STORY OF MY LIFE, will give you a marvelous insight into one of the most inspiring true stories ever recorded. HELEN KELLER IN HER STORY also give you a chance to walk with Helen Keller at her own home and meet some of the world famous people that she influenced. A VERY VALUABLE RECORD!

Thanks to my good friend and her friend for their work on this postcard's background.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Jason Green Indicted for Felony Murder

Last Thanksgiving Jason Dewayne Green resided in an upscale home he shared with his 27 year-old girlfriend Shay Nicole Ledlow. This Thanksgiving Green will be sharing his holiday meal with numerous other inmates in the Franklin County Jail where he is currently being held on a revoked bond.

The 36 year-old Green has certainly run afoul of the law this past year, starting last December when he was arrested for domestic violence against his live-in girl friend. By the end of January of this year, Green had been arrested for shooting Ledlow dead in the family room of the home they shared. Green used the ever popular "She was trying to kill herself" defense, but forensics indicated foul play. After his arrest, Green was released on a bond of 400 K, but his freedom was short lived.

In September, Green was spotted by law enforcement while driving a vehicle listed as stolen from another county. Upon interviewing Green, the officers determined him to be under the influence and arrested him on both charges. He was returned to the county jail and his bail revoked.

Upon further investigation into the salvage yard Green ran with his father, other stolen vehicles were identified and recovered. At that time officers stated as many as 100 misdemeanor and felony charges could be levied against Green and his father Travis Green, 61, also of Russellville. The Greens had operated Franklin County Recycling and Salvage near the Tharptown community since 2007.

Travis D. Green Jr.

Travis Green remains free on bond, but a law enforcement officer with the county has stated that could possibly change if new evidence is found. The Green's salvage yard is located on County Road 77 near two lakes. Authorities have theorized at least some of the stolen vehicles may have been stripped and abandoned in one or both the lakes. Travis Green has not yet been indicted and could possibly seek a plea in exchange for testimony at this son's trial.

Shay Ledlow made some bad choices in life. Let's hope the Franklin County jury who hears her case will remember not her mistakes, but the caring and vivacious woman her family has described. Her murder demands justice.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Kimberly Bynum's Long-Term Affair?

The image of Kimberly Bynum pictured after her June arrest is in striking contrast to her Vina High School photos. The Russellville woman will be arraigned in Franklin County Court on January 4th and tried possibly as early as February for her part in a sexual relation with a former student, a relationship that may have been begun as early as three years before school officials took notice, or at least action.

However, considering the delays in the trial of Amanda Watkins, it may be 2013 before preliminary legal wranglings are settled. Bynum, like Watkins, could face 20 years in prison for her affair with the 2011 male graduate.
The law under which Bynum is charged was outlined in a bill sponsored in 2010 by Rep. Demetrius Newton (D), of Birmingham.

Newton introduced the bill due to an incident in which a teacher and a 16-year-old student were accused of having a sexual relationship but school officials could take no action against the teacher since the student had reached the age of consent in Alabama. The 2010 law provides that consent is not a defense.


RegionalCare has announced Bryan Lee (pictured) is the new Chief Operating Officer for ECM, not Chief Executive Officer, as announced earlier by WAAY Television in Huntsville. We have to wonder if Lee now questions what he's gotten himself into.

Lee is a graduate of UAB and presumably should know the vagaries of regional politics in the highly competitive world of Alabama hospitals...or at least in the Shoals.


A reader writes that the former Sheffield Dairy King building is now owned by Ralph and Velma Higgins, 6623 Wayne Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19119, (215) 848-9676, and that the Delta property tax listing is for 301 South Montgomery Avenue. If the owners are not aware of the condition of the building, someone in city government should inform them.

Names of other Shoals eyesores are listed in the column to the left of this blog.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Mural Safe/Santa Claus Still Missing...

Ninon Holder has sent word that the Tuscumbia Post Office mural is safe and in storage. Since there is some debate as to who actually owns this long neglected masterpiece, a group of Tuscumbia citizens are looking into the possibility of Federal funds to restore and properly display this Depression era artwork.


Alas, Sheffield's Santa Claus is still missing, ala Gen. Franco who is still dead. Mayor Ian Sanford has mentioned finding an extant one in Louisiana, but the cost was prohibitive to purchase and ship here. Perhaps a benefactor would step up?


More comments on former Coffee CEO Joe Roach:

His policy/willingness to go after people's homes and property were disgusting. Lying and false intentions about looking in Lauderdale Co. for another hospital site, shameful. Motive, greed. Good riddance.

I'm beginning to hear the Banjo from the Movie Deliverance. I'm afraid Lauderdale County and Florence are fixing to get Raped.

Let's hope Roach's replacement is both more ethical and tactful.


A faithful reader has asked if we have identified the owner of the old Dairy King property at 301 Montgomery Avenue in Sheffield. In fact, we've had several to ask...and we know where they were going with this. As far as we can ascertain, the property was purchased by Troy Glidden in 1988. Whether he still owns the dilapidated former dairy bar is another question since the address does not seem to be listed on Delta property records. If anyone knows who's responsible for this molding pile of lumber, please send us the info. Thanks.


Breaking News: Kimberly Bynum indicted. Trial set for January 4th.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Why Sonia Zelada is Wrong...

Sonia Zelada, manager of a local Salvation Army thrift store, recently wrote the following letter to the TimesDaily:

I am an American citizen by birth. So is my 14-year-old daughter. Our bloodline can be traced back to the Mayflower. Our ancestors helped settle the Southeast and the wild west. I am not Hispanic. My daughter is Hispanic.

According to Alabama’s new immigration law, if she were involved in any type of situation that also included police (this includes, by the way, traffic stops, witnessing an incident or even being the victim of a crime), she could be legally “detained” until her immigration status could be verified. To prevent this from happening, my daughter will have to carry documentation proving she has the right to be here ... in the country where she was born.

Does your 14-year-old have to carry such documentation? The answer to that question is no: unless, of course, their skin is the “wrong color.”

World history as well our national history provides us with many examples of why this type of legislation is dangerous.

Have we learned nothing?

I’m told that if you put a frog in a pot of water, and only increase the temperature gradually, the frog will just sit there unaware of his situation until it’s too late.

Wake up people!

We’re already in the water. Do you really want to be a frog?

Sonja Zelada

Several TimesDaily readers have pointed out Zelada's error in quoting the myth of the frog experiment. Let's look at her other errors. First, her daughter is not Hispanic unless Spanish is her first language. We doubt that it is. Her daughter is of Latino heritage.

Second, the immigration law has nothing to do with the color of anyone's skin. The law applies equally to all illegal immigrants, many of them Irish. When our friend J.J. Ray makes light of the over use of the race card, he is on to something.

Third, Zelada is missing the cause and effect principal involved. If so many from south of the border and elsewhere had not illegally immigrated to Alabama, there would be no need for this law. If our residents, both legal and illegal, didn't manufacture and sell crack cocaine, there would be no need for special laws concerning that particular drug.

Ms. Zelada, we say to you that you may be a good mother, but your powers of logic and reasoning are highly suspect. Let's not let Henny Penny rule the day.


From our inbox:
I don’t know of anyone sad at ECM to see Joe Roach leaving. Talk around is about getting some of those Penn State shirts that say “Joe Who?”


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Who Will Replace Joe Roach?

Joe Roach, we hardly knew ye. Where did you come from to start with? Here's a few lines written about the Eliza Coffee CEO when he left his last position--after a 30 day notice:

Roach has been Memorial’s chief executive since 1993. He previously was CEO at Millinocket Regional Hospital in Maine for six years. Before that, he was the assistant administrator and chief financial officer for Sebasticook Valley Hospital in Pittsfield, Maine, and budget director for Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor. He has a master’s degree in business from Husson College and a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from the University of Rhode Island. He earned a course certificate in systems management from Harvard University in 1992.

Province Healthcare bought Memorial in 2002. Roach oversaw the hospital’s transition from a not-for-profit medical center to a for-profit institution. Later that year, Memorial eliminated the equivalent of 96 full-time jobs, but Roach said its purchase by Province had made the hospital better because it was able to focus more on improving patient care. In an interview with the Martinsville Bulletin, he said that “every patient is a quasi-stockholder.” LifePoint acquired Memorial in 2005 as part of an acquisition of Province.

Also in 2002, The Harvest Foundation was established with more than $163 million in proceeds from the sale of Memorial Health Systems. The foundation invests those funds and uses the earnings to support health, education and community vitality initiatives in the Henry County-Martinsville area. In the 2008-09 fiscal year alone, Harvest awarded 31 grants totaling almost $9 million, according to its annual report.

As the hospital’s chief executive, Roach has served on Harvest’s board since 2002, said Allyson Rothrock, the foundation’s executive director. She called Roach “a very strong community leader.” “Joe never had a problem in making decisions,” Rothrock said. “He is a solid decision-maker. He always thought things through ... and made decisions based on what he thought was best for the entire community.”

“We’ll miss him,” added Paul Toms Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of Hooker Furniture Corp. and chairman of Harvest’s board. Roach has represented Harvest on the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp.’s (EDC) board for at least four years and had been chairman for the past three years. EDC President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Heath called him “a great ... chairman.” “He’s as firm of a believer as you could ever have” in the need for recruiting businesses and industries, Heath said, “and he’s let us (EDC staff) do our jobs” in ways they thought were appropriate. During his tenure at Memorial, Roach also has overseen expansions, such as the addition of an ambulatory surgery center in 2006

Thirty days notice? We may infer RegionalCare did not want Mr. Roach's notice. We may infer RegionalCare just wanted him gone. The why of the matter is not as easy to discern. RegionalCare and Roach didn't have the same vision for our new hospital? Does that mean Roach saw it as a boxing arena in which he could defeat those who dared oppose him?

No matter, the question now is who will replace him. RegionalCare recently purchased Essent Care, a three hospital conglomerate. According to press releases, there will be no organizational shake up at RC, leaving some extra Essent executives to look elsewhere or be placed within the RC system. Will one of these be coming here? Stay tuned...


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Bad Boys: Wifebeaters Edition

Jon Thomas Wallis: Our recent report on Wallis' 15 year sentence involved his drug trafficking charges only. Sources say Wallis still faces attempted murder charges in the shooting of his wife Tanya Marie Wallis. We hope that friends and family of Tanya will request the Lauderdale District Attorney's office prosecutes Wallace to the fullest extent.

Related: Jon Thomas Wallis


John Milton Littrell: Since we last reported on Littrell, sources have confirmed this ne'er-do-well has at least 17 previous assault charges. Most assaults are classified as misdemeanors; therefore, we have no idea if Littrell has any previous felony convictions or how many. It's possible that Littrell could be tried as a habitual offender, and at least logical that given his previous record the Class B Felony charges facing this local bad boy could be upgraded, making Littrell ineligible for Correctional Incentive Time.

From a family member, "
I have been following the comments on TimesDaily and want you to know that we find his actions unforgivable. Disappointing does not come close to describing what his daughters expressed in that forum. I have for years known that John was the worst possible person they could be exposed to but he has steadily brainwashed them into seeing the world from his perspective. Honestly, our family doesn't want to be involved at all and only offer up prayers for John that he can change his life. I hurt most for his mother who has had to endure this embarrassment for almost 30 years."

A highly informed take on Littrell's family situation from our faithful reader DS:

Perhaps I can offer some insight on why Littrell's daughters feel the woman he is currently in jail for beating 'deserved' what she received. If Littrell's daughters have grown up witnessing, or perhaps being victims themselves, of Littrell's rage and abuse towards women, they actually perceive such abuse as 'normal'. Over the course of their lives they have most likely been subjected to such events often enough, and the accompanying rationalization of such by Littrell, and themselves, that they actually believe such beatings to be justified.

During what was bound to have been a miserable childhood, Littrell's daughters no doubt were convinced that whenever a woman failed to obey her man, the appropriate response was a beating. In their young formative years, their psyches soon accepted this horrible lie as truth.

Studies have shown that if people, especially children, habitually traumatized women, etc. are told a lie often enough, soon they will believe such lies to actually be the truth. BELIEF in such lies is often THE primary reason victims of domestic violence refuse to leave their tormentor: they have been convinced that 'no one will believe you, no one will have you, you're worthless, etc, etc, etc'.

In a recent study, 30,000 incidences of domestic violence were reported in West Tennessee alone for 2009. Studies indicate that ONLY 1 in 10 cases of domestic violence are actually reported. THAT should make one think.

Related: John Milton Littrell


Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans Day 2011

On this Veterans Day, the 93rd anniversary of the Armistice, we salute all veterans who walk among us each day, largely unnoticed. Thank you for your gift of service to our country. There will always be the few who don't appreciate you, but rest assured most do--we just fail to say it often enough.

This is the first Veterans Day since the inception of our blog that we have not been able to salute Frank Buckles, our second favorite Doughboy who died earlier this year at the age of 110. If you encounter a World War II veteran today, please tell him or her how much their service means to you personally.


Sources in the Red Bay Police Department have identified the shooter in the David Andrasik death as Hershel D. Graham, 49, 806 10th Street NE. Graham, a one-time professional athlete, is described as having a long standing mental condition; however, sources say he has had no previous serious legal problems in Franklin County. His role in Andrasik's death will be presented to an upcoming grand jury session.



Thursday, November 10, 2011

Special Report: Tuscumbia Post Office Mural Missing

Shoals cyberspace is alive tonight with stories of the Tuscumbia Post Office Mural missing in action. Later reports say it was taken down, stored, and its location a mystery.

Mayor Shoemaker and others promised this almost priceless mural would be saved. If it has been destroyed, who is to blame? We urge every caring citizen to call the mayor's office Monday. There are not words to describe this loss if the worst is true...

Mayor Bill Shoemaker:
383-5463, Extension 11

Sexual Misconduct Charges Against Brian Keith McGuire Enumerated

The Alabama teaching certificate of former Lexington resident Brian Kieth McGuire was revoked by the State Board of Education last week, after several investigations that go back nine and one-half years. McGuire is contesting this revocation, and the Board has now made public their reasons for the loss of his license. From Sherrill W. Parris, Assistant State Superintendent:

1. On or about Feb. 1, 2002, and on or about Feb. 28, 2002, you inappropriately touched female students.

2. On or about March 8, 2002, 20 female students complain of your inappropriate conduct toward them, after which an incident/offense report was filed on or about May 5, 2002, with the Limestone County Sheriff’s Department for your inappropriate touch of two female students.

3. In approximately 2002, you watched pornography on your school office computer, as witnessed by at least one of your students.

4. The above incidents and charges occurred during your employment by the Limestone County School System as a physical education teacher during 1995 to 2002.

5. On or around Dec. 20, 1990, you had oral and vaginal sex by forcible compulsion with (alleged victim – name removed), who had not given you any consent and who had been babysitting your brother’s children at the time.

“I disagree with the recommendation of the administrative law judge. I find that the ALJ was in error in his finding that you admitted to having sex with (alleged victim – name removed) to her father and that her father did not accuse you of raping her. The father’s testimony in the criminal trial refutes these findings. Further, I find that the medical records admitted into evidence, which state that the victim reported the rape to her physician support her testimony and should have been addressed in the ALJ’s recommendation when considering the department’s evidence. Based on these findings, I find a direct relationship between those matters and conduct reflected therein and your ability to be an effective teacher, a role model for Alabama public school students, and your fitness to teach. I find your conduct to be immoral, indecent, unbecoming and just cause for revoking your Alabama Professional Educator Certificate.”

We had previously been aware of some of these charges; others we are now seeing for the first time. How nice to know McGuire was using computers paid for by the taxpayers of Alabama (read: You and Me) to view demeaning images of women.

We also understand that Keith McGuire is being investigated concerning harassing communications he sent various individuals in the media and the family of at least one of his accusers. It's interesting to note that while a jury in Lauderdale County found McGuire not guilty of the rape for which he was tried in 2009, the Alabama State Board has, after reading the same testimony, found him to be guilty.

Are there any out there who think Brian Keith McGuire or others like him should be teaching the youth of our state? Let's make the state education motto "No More Pass the Trash."


Kudos to Jean Cole of the Athens News Courier for her tireless work in investigating and reporting on this former Clements teacher.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Death in Red Bay: David Andrasik

David Martin Andrasik

It was 5:30 p.m. last Thursday when a dog crossed the path of David Andrasik of Red Bay. The small western Colbert County town has a leash law, and Andrasik was ostensibly upset that the dog's owners were not keeping their pet confined and out of harm's way. Stopping his car, Andrasik confronted the 17 year-old boy whom he believed to be the owner of the dog. The boy's father stated Andrasik appeared agitated and he entered the verbal altercation in support of his son.

The father also stated he asked Andrasik to leave; however, at no point did either the father or son retreat to the house to call for police. After the argument migrated into the back yard of the dog owner's property, the father stated he felt threatened and shot the 42 year-old Andrasik, a 1987 Gulf High School graduate originally from Port Richey, Florida.

Hind sight is always perfect. We may ask why Andrasik didn't simply report the misdemeanor to the appropriate party the next morning. We may never know why he decided to chastise the dog's owners for their lapse. We may never know why one of the dog's owners took matters into his own hands instead of calling for police. We do know that David Andrasik was pronounced dead at approximately 6:00 p.m. A spokesperson for Red Bay Hospital said Andrasik died from a single gunshot to the chest. His death will be presented to a Franklin County grand jury to determine if the shooter will be tried for felony murder or some lesser crime.
The Red Bay Police have not yet announced the name of the shooter, but we will publish it as soon as it's made available.

Each case is different, and certainly each county prosecutor has his or her own personal litmus tests to apply to such crimes. Still, there is a great similarity to the shooting of Anthony Hunt in 2006. Hunt entered his former father-in-law's property in Lauderdale County where he attacked Neler Keeton. The elderly Keeton then shot Hunt three times, causing the younger man's death. Keeton is now serving a prison sentence for his unfortunate over-reaction to Hunt's attack.

Besides being employed in production at Sunshine Mills in Red Bay, David Andrasik had a keen interest in martial arts. According to Florida corporation records, the shooting victim owned a half interest in a martial arts enterprise, Pasco Himitsu Dojo, in New Port Richey. Andrasik was also step-father to two children, as well as having a new infant who turned two weeks-old on November 5th. Our contacts at Sunshine Mills have told us David was well liked by everyone and the entire plant has been in shock over his violent death.

We wish to offer our sincerest sympathies to David's widow Carla, his family, and his friends who have vowed to fight for the truth. Rest assured we will follow this case as it is presented to the Franklin County grand jury.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Bad Choices, Bad Pennies, Bad Boys

David & Carla Andrasik

David Martin Andrasik was 42 when he died last week, shot by the father of a 17 year-old boy with whom he was arguing. Andrasik, of Red Bay, leaves a wife and a two week old child behind; his killer is apt to be charged with manslaughter. What were these men thinking?


A Tishomingo County grand jury has failed to indict Timothy Carl Yeager on charges of the sexual abuse of a junior high student; however, the Iuka school system has terminated the former Brooks coach. Yeager is now working in his family's stained glass business.

Due to the statute of limitations, the Tishomingo County district attorney has only six months in which to gather additional evidence against the 57 year-old Killen resident. If any readers have had or know of similar encounters with Yeager, please contact us, and we will forward the information to the appropriate authorities.

Yes, it's a bad penny. In modern idiom, a bad penny is: A person or thing which is unpleasant, disreputable, or otherwise unwanted, especially one which repeatedly appears at inopportune times.

It seems just when one thinks justice has finally been done, this former coach shows up again. We'll have more on the Shoals' version of a bad penny as it becomes available.


Monday, November 7, 2011

John Milton Littrell: A Real Saucy Guy

John Milton Littrell is no stranger to local law enforcement. One source tells us his photo has appeared in Hard Times more often than Nick Saban's has made the sports page. The 50 year-old Littrell's crimes seem mainly to involve violence, and we would infer alcohol.

In May 1995, Littrell was wanted for third degree domestic assault in Muscle Shoals. When contacted by a city detective about turning himself in, Littrell cursed the officer and told him to come get him. Officers did just that, but apprehended the inebriated Littrell only after a 20 mile chase that ended in Lauderdale County. Needless to say Littrell's drunken rampage added quite a few charges to his already lengthy list of crimes.

In February 2010, Littrell beat an acquaintance with a bottle of Worcestershire sauce and a fire extinguisher. The attack occurred at the Economy Inn on Tennessee Street in Florence where both men were ostensibly staying. The victim's injuries were substantial enough to require several days hospitalization, but Littrell was charged with only second degree assault.

Now, John Milton Littrell lives either on the streets where he is frequently seen riding a bike or with any "lonely" women whom he can convince to give him a home. One such woman obviously regretted her decision Halloween night.

The Florence Police Domestic Violence Unit has stated Littrell beat his sometime girlfriend for a duration of over 12 hours. The woman received broken bones and internal injuries. Littrell is currently being held in the Florence-Lauderdale Detention Center on a bond of 11K. If convicted of the crimes with which he's been charged, Littrell could be sentenced to 10 years in prison. Unfortunately, these crimes are not Class A felonies, and Littrell would be entitled to "good time." Still 40 months incarceration would be 40 months the Shoals area would no longer have to worry about the violent antics of John Milton Littrell.


Littrell's two daughters are currently posting on the TimesDaily comment section that his victim deserved the violence their father meted out. How sad that new laws against domestic violence can come into effect, but we can't change the opinions of those who think women and children deserve violent beatings and rape.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Regional Care: Who Do Ya Think You're Foolin'?

There's an old joke common among the parents of teenagers, especially teenage boys. After a particularly egregious stunt, one of the parents will invariably say, "Well, he's either going to be the president of his own company or serve time in prison." We're fairly sure the parents of RegionalCare CEO Joe Roach must have had similar thoughts, considering both the quantity and quality of his machinations concerning the location for the new hospital.

Here, from the same erudite reader whom we previously published, is an update (in bold) on current dreams and schemes from Joe Roach and his merry band of pranksters:

Perhaps the 11-2-11 Times Daily comments from a longtime hospital employee have been influenced by the propaganda of her boss. She states:

“RegionalCare has gone to great lengths to find an appropriate location in Lauderdale County; however, it is becoming evident that this is neither economically nor geographically feasible. Roadblocks to that proposal include environmental, logistical, and infrastructure limitations that would be costly to overcome.”

Where does she get this erroneous information? Was she misled by her own CEO, Joe Roach? Are we all being misled by him? The only Lauderdale site under consideration is on Lauderdale County Road 47 according to Rhea Fulmer, who identified this property in a 9-7-11 Times Daily article after meeting with RegionalCare officials. (It appears the Times Daily pulled this particular article from its website already.)

This area includes a 300 acre farm property which is bounded by Cox Creek Parkway, Gresham Road, County Road 47, and Mall Road. Only about a mile from this location is Helton Drive which is the Florence link to Patton Island Bridge. Helton is currently under construction to add more lanes. This 300 acre site is less than ten miles from TVA property, so there should be no distinction between it and TVA as far as being a regional location.

What environmental, logistical, and infrastructure limitations are present at this location? It meets the RCH requirement of being more than 80 acres; it is located on Cox Creek Parkway which intersects HWY 72 as well as the Helton corridor to Patton Island Bridge. This is a good site for the new hospital, whether regional or replacement. It does not interfere with Helen Keller Hospital, and the Cox Creek location already has infrastructure in place including major roads, electricity and water. Too “costly”?

Did Mr. Roach not intend to pay a fair amount for such valuable property after he stressed the importance of “location, location, location”? A prime location is generally very expensive. Roach must honor his contract to build in Lauderdale County. Our politicians must also make this happen. All concerned citizens (and hospital employees) should hold Roach and elected officials in Lauderdale County, as well as the city of Florence, responsible to honor the legal contract. That is the point of a contract.

Someone wrote in to say that this is an ethical issue. Another mentioned integrity. But this is a LEGAL issue. A contract is a legal and binding document. There are serious consequences when legal contracts are not followed.

Roach emphasized that he is not good at losing. Is this really just a game to him? Exactly what, and how much, will our elected officials allow him to risk? If this is a game with high stakes, then the Times Daily appears to be playing along as a pawn. Rather than serve the public, is it serving the hand that buys expensive advertising? How many other letters to their editor have been censored?

Why is Shoalanda Speaks the only one willing to address these questions?

We'll note that after the TimesDaily's reporting on the National Alabama situation, nothing would surprise us concerning this issue.


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Let's Play "Where's Trevor? (Or Know Your Immigrants)"

A recent column by the TimesDaily's Mike Goens gave us an insight into the long-time journalist's view on immigration, legal or otherwise. In defense of his position, Goens mentioned a former co-worker who moved to the area from Canada. While the writer didn't mention the Canadian's name, he was referring to Trevor Stokes who toiled for our local rag for four years. Where is Trevor now?

It would appear that Trevor now labors in the vast wasteland that is known as the New York metro area. In other words, he made good. Trevor, a college-educated, English speaking, non-welfare recipient was held up as what is good with immigration. Indeed he is. Yet we must ask how Trevor Stokes represents the masses from south of our border? The answer is he doesn't. Mike Goens was comparing apples to oranges, work ethic to welfare ethic, college education to no education.

Alas, Trevor has left the building, albeit for greener pastures. It's a familiar scenario with the intelligentsia of this area, but don't worry, there are illegal immigrants willing to populate the Shoals. They pay their taxes when they buy their beer and smokes...and this seems enough for Mike Goens. Is it enough for anyone else?

Trevor Stokes


Friday, November 4, 2011

How Much Time Will Amanda Watkins Serve?/Brian Felber Updates

After being convicted of second degree rape and sodomy, just how much time will Amanda Duboise Watkins serve? More to the point, does Watkins deserve actual prison time?

Those questions will be answered by Judge Jackie Hatcher at Watkins' sentencing. She may receive probation, or at the other end of the spectrum she may receive a hefty sentence. We doubt the latter will be the case.

Such sentences usually run concurrently, and taking Correctional Incentive Time into consideration, if sentenced to the minimum of two years, Watkins would again be a free woman in approximately eight months. In other words, her sentence would be so short that she might be released before a date for a parole hearing could be set. Currently, Amanda Watkins remains free on her original bond.


Cpl. Brian Felber

The family of Marine Cpl. Brian Felber is asking for prayers for the 2007 Florence High graduate. Felber was seriously injured Monday morning while on patrol in Afghanistan. Friends of Felber have set up a Facebook page where his progress can be monitored:


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Special Report: Keith McGuire Teaching License Revoked

The Alabama Board of Education has announced the teaching license of Brian Keith McGuire, formerly of Lexington, has been permanently revoked on the grounds of having been found guilty of inappropriate behavior or conduct. This action has come nine and one-half years after the first complaint of sexual abuse was filed against McGuire. There should be no room in an Alabama classroom (or any other) for a sexual predator. Often our young are not able to defend themselves; therefore, It is up to us to do it.

Best wishes to those who fought so long for this, and...Hound Dog, we wish you were here to see this (In memory of Bill Allgood, a good man and a good judge of character).

Shoalanda Speaks