Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Next Mayor of Florence? - Part III

Mickey Haddock is the third of three mayoral candidates we're showcasing this week. The election is still two months away; citizens of Florence have ample opportunity to meet each of these three gentlemen, ask pertinent questions, and choose wisely. From Mr. Haddock's website:

Mickey Haddock has been a lifelong resident of Lauderdale County. He attended Central High School, Northwest-Shoals Community College, and Faulkner University. He married Linda Salyer in 1969 and they have two grown sons, Chris and Heath; two daughter-in-laws (sic), Suzi and Beth; and three grandchildren, Skylar, Kiah, and Chloe; all residents of Florence.

Mickey’s service to the area is unquestionable as he has always been involved in civic organizations and more often than not he has served in a leadership role. His heart is and always had been right here in Florence and as Mayor he will continue to make this a better place to live, work and play. 

In March of 2011, I announced my candidacy to run for Mayor. This decision was in the making for several years and it was made with much thought and prayer. I have a long history of service to this area and am known for being not only a civic leader, but a leader who is pragmatic, compassionate and fair minded. A person who sets goals and then works hard to reach them.

I will bring that same conviction to the Mayor’s office and appreciate your support as my vision for our city is for meaningful employment,  a strong sense of community, outstanding schools for our children and opening doors of opportunity.


Over the past three and one-half years, we've been contacted and asked many times to do articles about numerous individuals--not those whom we deem local heroes, but those who have behaved in a less than honorable way. We do not do such articles about private citizens. 

Who is a public personage? The definition of a public figure is: anyone who has gained prominence in the community as a result of his or her name or exploits, whether willingly or unwillingly.

For our purposes, this would include elected or appointed officials who are paid with or who regulate our tax dollars. This would also include those who break the law (current legal cases) or those who have contacted news media in an attempt to promote unethical or immoral actions.

So if you contact WAFF, Rick & Bubba, and us; if you're featured on television and in ALFRA newsletters; if you're arrested for drug crimes, theft, and burglary; yes, that makes you a public person. Don't expect us to keep silent when you harass an innocent family on Facebook. We'll add that anyone facing a felony conviction should be much more concerned with his legal problems than what we may or may not think...


Friday, June 29, 2012

The Next Mayor of Florence? - Part II

Billy Ray Simpson is one of three Florence candidates seeking the office of mayor on August 28th. He has no website, but we'll present his vision for the city in his own words excerpted from a TimesDaily interview:

“We need someone who can keep the council in line and doing what they are elected to do. I see other people (on the council) wanting to be the mayor who were not elected mayor. I can be a little tougher than this mayor, even though he is a wise man.

“Areas east and west of downtown still need help. They need businesses. The west side of town has no fast-food restaurants or people that compete for business. When you have to go too far to shop, it makes it hard on people. They spend more money getting there than they should have to.

“Jobs allow them to become good fathers and family members. Training programs are an important part of getting good jobs. We already have companies on board with us to provide that only intoxicant that occurs naturally, something created by God.

“Experience has taught me that some laws should be changed when they are not good for the majority of people. It’s (marijuana) coming in from other places and they are putting things on it that make people hallucinate. We can’t regulate that now.”


Obviously Mr. Simpson has some interesting viewpoints. We didn't know the mayor of Florence could regulate or deregulate marijuana or any other controlled substances...


Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Next Mayor of Florence? Part I

Current Florence mayor Bobby Irons has chosen not to seek re-election. Three candidates are vying to succeed him. Below is a short bio of candidate Rick Singleton:

Why I Want to be Mayor of Florence 


I was raised in Florence, and have lived my life in the Shoals area. I graduated in 1969 from Coffee High School, and went on to UNA to pursue my degree in Law Enforcement/Business Administration. I graduated from UNA in 1976 and soon enrolled in the University of Alabama to pursue a Masters in Criminal Justice, which I achieved in 1982. 

About Me:

Florence is one of the most beautiful cities in the country and I have called it home for the last 52 years. Those years are filled with a lifetime of memories from my days in elementary school to my future retirement from the Police Department in the next few months, and while I cherish those memories, they are in the past. What excites me now is thinking about the future and the new opportunities that await this great City!

After nearly forty years in the law enforcement profession I am ready and eager for new challenges. I have a vision of what Florence can look like 10, 20, or even 50 years from now. I see a vibrant city with job opportunities like we've never seen before. I see considerable growth in the business sector that will clearly define us as a tri-state retail center. Our public schools and University will be ranked among the best in the nation, and our medical facilities will be second to none. I see a city that will be a leader in the areas of recycle and energy conservation, a city that others will emulate and look to as an example of what can be done when a government and its citizens work together toward a common goal.

Immanuel Kant once said, "The best way to predict the future is to invent it." I want to be a part of inventing that future! I want to see that vision become a reality, and, knowing this city and its people, I know WE can make it happen! That's why I want to be Mayor of Florence. 

Grad School:


Chief of Police, Shoals Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, Owner of Singleton's Barbeque, Anti-Terrorism Task Force: U.S. Attorneys Office for the Northern District of Alabama, Law Enforcement Executive Development Association, Attorney General's Law Enforcement Advisory Council, International Association of Chiefs of Police, Alabama Association of Chiefs of Police, F.B.I. National Academy Associates, Alabama Peace Officers Association, and the Fraternal Order of Police.


Later in the week we'll look at mayoral candidates Mickey Haddock and Billy Ray Simpson


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Florence Depot/Bryan Gibson

If the Sweetwater/East Florence area is ever to live up to its name of Arts & Entertainment District, such eyesores as the old train depot will have to be renovated. This building is only three to four minutes from downtown Florence, and the reader who sent us the photo suggested it would be perfect for a casual eatery dubbed "The Whistlestop."

Thanks to Mary Carton for the photo and the idea. Mary is in the forefront to preserve historic buildings in her hometown of Tuscumbia.


We've received a few questions about Bryan Gibson, owner of the new Shoals Ambulance Company. Mr. Gibson has been involved with several emergency service companies over the years, and those who have communicated with us have specifically asked about his connection to Rural/Metro Ambulance.

Obviously, we don't have a day to day biography of Mr. Gibson, but we can say that we have found no connection with Mr. Gibson and an Alabama lawsuit alleging Medicaid fraud. The suit was initiated in 2009, at which time Mr. Gibson was employed in Arizona by the Southwest division of the company. Here's a short bio:

Mr. Gibson has more than 20 years of experience in the ambulance and fire protection industry, having begun his career as a paramedic for the Memphis Fire Department. Mr. Gibson joined Rural/Metro in 1997 following the acquisition of his company, Priority EMS, as Division General Manager of the mid-South market. Mr. Gibson was promoted in 1998 to Director of Business Development for the Company's South Emergency Services segment. He served from 2001 to 2005 as Division General Manager for EMS operations in West Tennessee, Alabama and Northwest Florida, as well as the Company's national specialty fire protection division. In 2005, he was promoted to Group President of the South segment, and in 2008, he was given additional responsibility as President of the Southwest segment. In April 2010, Mr. Gibson's responsibilities were expanded to include oversight on an interim basis of all operating segments nationwide.

If anyone has any information concerning alleged wrongdoing by Mr. Gibson, please send us the info or link and we will be happy to publish it.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Just Which Is It, Commissioner Fulmer?

Is Lauderdale EMS the best ambulance service for Florence and Lauderdale County? Most efficient and economical? Those with experience in such matters will have to decide that; we do think the contract needs to be bid whenever there's a promising new player in town or if there have been complaints concerning the current ambulance service.

Have there been complaints about Lauderdale EMS? What does Commissioner Rhea Tays Michael Fulmer think? That seems to depend...

Fulmer and Thornton said they have received complaints about slow response time by Lauderdale EMS. Fulmer said she has expressed concerns to Lauderdale EMS officials. Fulmer said the commission would be obligated to look at the possibility if better service can be provided. - From the June 6, 2012 TimesDaily

Lauderdale County Commissioner Rhea Fulmer said...she had some concerns about response time issues with Lauderdale EMS but those have been addressed by Lauderdale EMS Director Bruce Carson. Fulmer asked if the commission was looking at the possibility of rebidding the contract because Shoals Ambulance Service is trying to locate in the area. - From the June 13, 2012 TimesDaily

Fulmer said she doesn’t understand why the county is leaving “good quality” EMS service. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” she said. - From the June 26, 2012 TimesDaily

So what occurred in that seven day period that produced such a 180 degree turn in Ms. Fulmer's thinking? A conversation with the Lauderdale EMS manager? Without similar conversations with those who are not connected to the current ambulance service, we doubt Mrs. Fulmer would get a very unbiased picture of why there's a delay in response time.

Is rebidding because Shoals Ambulance has entered the picture? Certainly. Remember that county commissioners should want the best for their citizens, be it Shoals or Lauderdale EMS. What does it hurt to let Shoals Ambulance tell you what they can do...that is unless your mind is already made up by whatever happened between June 6th and June 13th?


Some readers have contacted us concerning the high number of patients being transported to Huntsville Hospital by Lauderdale EMS. The ambulance service is affiliated with Keller EMS which is in turn affiliated with Huntsville Hospital. We consulted with a physician who offered this:

This likely has to do with the state plan for handling accidents. Anytime there is a loss of consciousness or a potential for head trauma the EMS must institute the state plan which calls for the patient to be taken to a Level I trauma service. Huntsville is the closest one. Keller does not even participate in the State Emergency Plan, and ECM is a level III because we do not have neurosurgical coverage 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If we did we could qualify for Level I and in the future with a new hospital I look for us to go to a Level II if we can recruit the right people.


We've been lax in adding to our Shoals Eyesore List. We will have some more entries with revealing photos later this week. If you have a candidate for our list, send it on. There's plenty of competition.


Monday, June 25, 2012

Some Navistar Basics

A new type of truck engine Navistar developed to meet tougher emissions standards hasn't passed muster with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. And a court recently invalidated a deal with the EPA that allowed Navistar to keep selling its noncompliant engines.-- Crain's Business, June 25, 2012

In case you're wondering just how much of Navistar's total production was affected by the court ruling, it's 25%. The company's troubles have been fodder for several financial publications in recent days, but just how serious are these setbacks? Some analysts have suggested Navistar has a new traditional engine in the works to fall back on. If they have, they're not saying. If they don't?

Several financial pundits have predicted the possibility of bankruptcy, citing: "Company's high costs, low margin, slower sales in some key markets and overall poor financial performance." and "Navistar is highly underfunded."

Does any of the above financialese translate into information that will predict the future of the Barton plant? If anything stands out to us, it's simply the possibility that growth at the plant will be slower than what had been predicted. Let's hope that's the worst case scenario.


Rumors? What? Here in the Shoals? If you've been trying to sort through several new rumors concerning the proposed site of the new RegionalCare hospital, here's a great run down:


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Dana Myhan Allen: Avoiding a Trial

Dana LaShana Myhan Allen has accepted a plea agreement that may or may not keep her out of prison. Let's look at some facts in the case of this married basketball coach:

1. "The boy will brag about it all his life." Really? If he's 14 or 44, it's still adultery. Bragging about that doesn't say much for him.

2. Why just the one charge? The other youths with whom Myhan allegedly had sex were over 16, the age of legal consent in Alabama.

3. Why the plea? A trial might have resulted in the others youths testifying against Myhan. Also, if convicted by a jury, the judge would have control over her ultimate sentence (he still does, but would have to provide a valid excuse for failing to accept a plea that both sides had agreed on).

4. Why only 36 months? Didn't Amanda Watkins get five years on two counts? Watkins was convicted by a jury. She was also a teacher; Myhan was only a volunteer coach at Wilson High School. Plus, different counties and different prosecutors were involved, making too many variables for the sentence to have been the same.

5. Will she get probation? That will also ultimately be up to Judge Jones. We predict she won't.

6. After conviction, will she get to see her underage children? Since this was Second Degree Rape and no forcible sexual molestation took place, there should be no problem with her having contact with any children whether her own or others.

7. Why even call it rape? Many object to this term, yet the consentual sex between an adult and a child under 12 qualifies as First Degree Rape. The word "rape" seems to have taken on more narrow connotations to some, just as "molest" has. We receive frequent reports of dogs molesting walkers in all areas of the Shoals, just not sexually we hope.

8. Isn't she really innocent since she had a "mental defect?" Everyone has some mental defect. Your next door neighbor may harbor an unreasonable fear of snakes or your best friend avoid escalators at all costs--that fact does not prevent them from knowing right from wrong, whether the crime is rape or murder.

Now Allen and her victim(s) wait for July 26th when she'll face her sentencing. We'll also learn at that time if she will be eligible for any early release programs. We don't envy Judge Jones these decisions.


The June court appearance of Kimberly Dawn Bynum has been postponed again. Bynum is accused of having consentual sex with a student under the age of 19. This month marks one year that the 30 year-old Vina teacher's life has been in limbo due to legal charges. The guilty verdicts and pleas of others in similar cases do not bode well for this former Franklin County teacher.


Saturday, June 23, 2012

More Highlights of Lowlifes Alexander & Milam

Jonathan (Seth) Alexander
Sadly, there will probably be no Life Without Parole for Jonathan Alexander, aka Seth. Any crimes he's been found guilty of seem to have been non-violent; however, we can hope for a Life With sentence for this loving father of two.

Alexander and Jennifer Marie Thomas Milam seemed to have known each other for only a month when they robbed Ray's Southside Market in Russellville. Both were apprehended within hours of the May 2010 crime. Milam's encounters with the law after that incident are apparently all drug related, while Alexander has added numerous robberies and attempted robberies to his rap sheet.

Then we have the problem of their "marriage." Alexander and Milam use different last names and portray themselves on Facebook as engaged, yet when arrested they're married? We've blogged on common law marriage in this state before. If their defense attorneys can establish a marriage, neither will have to testify against the other. Just another little perk of living in Alabama.

According to two sources, Alexander's daughter is living with her mother. She did visit with her biological father, and it's unknown if such visits were supervised. The 17 month-old son of Alexander and Milam is living with Jonathan's mother. Our source tells us the boy was born addicted to meth and has severe handicaps.

As one of our readers asked, just how does something like the subject of sex with children come up? Did one say, "Hey, I'm finding you just a little boring. How about we add two kids to the mix just to see what happens?"

Another reader, our regular commenter Justin, has suggested sterilization. We certainly think it's appropriate in the case of these two Cretins, but sadly we doubt that the courts of the land will allow it.



Friday, June 22, 2012

Jonathan Alexander+Jennifer Milam=Scum

At left is Jonathan Daniel Alexander, 29, better known as Seth. Why Seth? There's a relatively famous pop singer named Seth Alexander who's about Jonathan's age; perhaps our Franklin County all-American boy decided to cash in on Seth's fame and glory. Not that Jonathan hasn't had some fame himself, or at least infamy. Among the many crimes he's been accused of are the burglaries of Family Pharmacy in Russellville.

Yes, that was plural. Jonathan and his brother Jason Christopher Alexander robbed the same pharmacy twice. Apparently returning to the scene of their original crime was bad luck for the dangerous duo since police had the drug store surrounded during their encore engagement in February 2011. Jonathan may have felt right at home when he was returned to jail, since he was already under indictment for similar charges relating to a burglary that also involved his wife.

Jennifer Marie Thomas Milam, also 29, is pictured at right. This loving couple who got together in April 2010 seem to have done much together, including having their probation revoked in early February of this year. Upon their latest release from the Franklin County jail, Alexander and Milam found they had no home, but caring relatives took them in. After the couple moved to a picturesque trailer park approximately three weeks ago, the homeowner found letters the lovebirds had written to each other while incarcerated.

If you've read the news accounts, you know the letters contained plans to sexually abuse children, one as young as 17 months. The homeowner was obviously a distant relative of the pair since he or she had the common decency to turn over the missives to DHR. Police immediately arrested Milam, and Alexander turned himself in Thursday night.

Now...let's get down to business. Guess what. According to his Facebook page, Jonathan has a daughter and a son. Yet it's his daughter that's his "life" and his "world." Lovely, isn't it? It gets worse. His son? Yes, he's around 17 months old and presumably Milam's child as well.

What can these filthy excuses for human beings expect if they're convicted of these charges? The white washed name for their crime is "facilitating the solicitation of unlawful sexual contact with a child under 16." The punishment for this Class C felony is one to 10 years in prison. We can only hope that Jonathan Alexander has enough previous convictions to be tried as a habitual offender, in which case he could receive a life sentence. If there are any violent crimes in this heathen's resume', Franklin County District Attorney Joey Rushing may even be able to get Life Without for this piece of trash.

Unfortunately, the mutant skank Milam will probably be out in time to beat her biological clock and give birth to some poor child whom she will proceed to abuse physically, sexually, and emotionally. Let's just hope that wherever she lands child services will be aware of her previous crimes.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Curse of the Shoals: Navistar to Lose 3 Billion?

If you're over 40 or so, you've probably heard the term "Curse of the Shoals." Simply stated, it means if anything good business wise comes to this area, it quickly goes south. Could this be the case with Navistar?

Apparently not all is well with this industrial giant. Known for its engine production, Navistar has placed its eggs in the basket of EGR technology, a type not yet approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (and this is just one of several problems now facing the manufacturing giant). Obviously Navistar's competitors don't want this new technology approved. What if it isn't?

Pundits at CNBC feel that the loss of 4K jobs and eventual bankruptcy would be inevitable. For those who wish to delve a little deeper into this possibility, here's the link to Herb Greenberg's article:


Are the bigwigs at Helen Keller Hospital, executives whose salaries are paid by Huntsville Hospital, now telling employees at the Colbert County facility that it's only a matter of time until HH buys out RegionalCare? More on this later...


Sex offender of the week profile:  Robert Henry Locklayer


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sam Pendleton is Right on the Money

A Guest Editorial by John Q. Health-Care-Consumer

The people of Lauderdale County and Florence deserve better than what they are being fed, and they have no idea of the workings behind the scenes by the two opposing hospitals to keep RegionalCare from building a new facility. One only has to ask themselves what HH and HKH have to fear from RegionalCare replacing their aging outdated structure which they currently occupy. Sam Pendleton is right that the battle has been one sided. After the new Shoals Ambulance Service in Muscle Shoals was essentially, but temporarily, shut down by strong arm tactics from the HKH administration, and behind the scenes wrangling by HH (the puppet master), people began to see how things were going to play out.

As HH pours more and more money into HKH there is no way for them to recoup their losses except by eventually acquiring that hospital and its employees. Currently HH owns or operates every hospital in north Alabama with exception of Moulton, Russellville, and the former ECM. They have already made a play for Moulton, essentially sealing the corridor across north Alabama. Having seen this type of widespread acquisition before, I can tell you the next step. These outlying hospitals become feeder units for the big HQ in Huntsville. You start to lose essential services and they maintain a few beds and an ER. It requires transport of the more critically ill patients a long distance, and in an emergent situation time is precious.

I for one do not want to see the Shoals lose its access to good quality care. There is only one hospital on the north side of the river serving Lauderdale county and portions of the southern Tennessee counties. Pendleton is right, unless the city and the county stand up to these bullies we stand to lose a great deal, which not only includes access to medical care but the economic stability the presence of this hospital brings to the area. Business leaders should make sure that they consider what is at stake.

As I understand it, the certificate of need board (CON) meeting is scheduled to be held in November here in the Shoals. Strategic placement of one of the board members has already been accomplished by the forces opposing the new hospital and it will be an uphill battle. However, the only logical decision  by this board will be to allow the construction since it is a replacement, not a new facility, and it includes surrendering a number of beds to the CON.

For once I can agree with Mr. Pendleton, it is time to take a stand and make the facts known.


It's also been pointed out that many of the TimesDaily articles enumerating hospital activities don't feature events at ECM. Their recent article on volunteers at HKH is a prime example. According to a very knowledgeable source, ECM has basically the same program and a much larger volunteer staff. This source feels the TD's bias has become very transparent.

We have to agree and we have to ask why? Why is Shelton Publishing so intent upon featuring HKH to the exclusion of ECM/RegionalCare? Why does the Colbert County Commission seek to exclude Shoals Ambulance? Why do Rhea Fulmer and Fay Parker seek to prevent a bid on ambulance service for Lauderdale? The answers, if we ever get any, should be most interesting.


The Connection has begun a new series on the ambulance situation in Colbert County. We hope their investigative staff can come up with some rationale for the 911 board and commission's recent actions.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Boys & Guns/Paperhanger on the Loose

Some crimes are just more humorous than others. We doubt those who thought they were being shot at Thursday night will find humor in the culprit's social networking site, but Jabari Jaron Young's motto certainly fits his crime. 

The 20 year-old Young is no stranger to scrapes with the law since leaving high school, and we'll surmise these proclivities led to his latest arrest. In December of last year the Muscle Shoals resident was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, and in March of this year he was arrested for being a minor in possession of alcohol. Now Young's being charged with theft of a gun, as well as shooting in the direction of several people on Burroughs Avenue and firing into an occupied vehicle. 

His motto? Tha peace sign is just tha trigga and tha middle finger. Perhaps he'll decide on a new theme after this latest arrest.


Police have arrested Zackery Zooey Lord for cashing counterfeit checks in Florence. Lord is no stranger to the wonderful world of wallpaper; in 2002 while living in Madison Hts., Michigan, he was arrested on three counts of passing bad checks. Authorities say Lord didn't act alone and they're still looking for his partner who cashed similar computer generated forgeries. If you have information concerning this fugitive, Crime Stoppers is offering a reward. Call 256-386-8685.


Monday, June 18, 2012

What's the Status of Sweetwater District?

It's officially called the Sweetwater Arts & Entertainment District, and we usually receive about two questions a month concerning its status. For those of you who speak legalese, here's the official plan for the SAED:

The plan was scheduled for 99% completion by October 2011. Below are the results and status of the area garnered from several sources:

1. The Sweetwater area comes up short on parking to be used for an entertainment district. We're going to guess that any improvements in this area of Royal Avenue/Huntsville Road will have to be made by property owners themselves.

Former Site of Sweetwater Mill
2. At least two properties in the area are being touted by the City of Florence as "shovel ready." One is the old Foundry site. The city refused Richards' Metal Plating a license to move its business there and is seeking a greener operation on this very prominent corner. It wants a similar business to locate on the site of the old Cherry/Sweetwater Cotton Mill, diagonally across from the Richards property. How long this will take is anyone's guess, and in the interim both properties have been referred to as eyesores.

3. There's also been much recent speculation concerning the old Brandon School property a few blocks to the east of the above referenced corner. Located at the corner of Cole Avenue and Ironside Street, this 13,000 sq.ft. edifice is owned by New Vision Church. The name may sound new age, but it's part of the United Methodist Conference. As of December 31st of last year, several tenants in the building moved out, ostensibly to avoid increased rent. Officers of New Vision blamed the rent increase on their almost 9K a month utility bill, but there has been speculation that the church has never lived up to its master plan and may be in the process of selling the property. 

4. That brings us to speculation on who might purchase the Brandon property. It's currently not zoned for retail or industry. It does sit in a neighborhood of small houses that could be easily torn down. Who in this area is infamous for buying and tearing down older homes? Two institutions come to mind, but only one stands out as possibly being interested in property this easily accessible to Colbert County residents.

If any readers have updates or other new information on the Sweetwater Arts & Entertainment District, we welcome them. This area has been underutilized for too long.


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day 2012

There are bad fathers, good fathers, and absentee fathers.
There are happy husbands and sperm donors.
Which are you?

We would like to believe good fathers are in the majority, but sadly we know that's no longer true. We live in a world where 30 year-old men have produced almost that many children and consider themselves good fathers simply because they know all their names. We live in a world where sperm donors seek to deprive children of their legal, loving fathers. We live in a sad world.

If you have a child, dedicate yourself to being the best husband and father you can. Yes, they go together.


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Chip Dillard Exhonerated of Charge

On August 25, 2010, a Huntsville television station published a report concerning Florence attorney Edward Ray (Chip) Dillard. We picked up the report and blogged on August 27th concerning the attorney's arrest for "lewd" behavior. The problem? There was no lewd behavior.

Dillard is partner to Lauderdale County Commission attorney Chis Smith who was widely reported at the time to be a candidate to succeed retiring probate judge Dewey Mitchell. Our main thrust in the blog was the impact such charges would have on Smith's candidacy. While Smith, for whatever reason, did not run, both Democratic and Republican candidates for the position are juris doctors, and the office will now be in good hands.

Obviously, we also have a major interest in protecting local children; however, no children were present at the UNA lion habitat when the incident occurred. Yes, this was also reported by the television station, but we have been forwarded copies of both the original arrest report and a later December 2011 Lauderdale County District Court affidavit by Robert G. Pastula, head of UNA police, stating that no children were present at the time Dillard urinated in bushes while well covered.

We do wish Mr. Dillard had contacted us earlier concerning this outcome. We are happy to publish followups and corrections on any issue on which we comment.


Friday, June 15, 2012

Is the Florence Animal Shelter Crumbling?

Most of you are probably familiar with the term "Built-In Obsolescence."  Simply stated, many things in today's world are built not to last, but to run their course within a set time frame--usually a short one. Have you taken a look at the Florence-Lauderdale Animal Shelter lately? We haven't used the proverbial magnifying glass, nor have we been inside recently, but it looks good from the outside. What are we missing?

The shelter was built in 1987, that's 25 human years ago. There's no reason it shouldn't last another 25 years if properly maintained. Yet we have TimesDaily letter writers calling the shelter "inadequate and crumbling." It certainly may be inadequate when it comes to size, but crumbling?

Don Lambert designed the shelter and Smith General Contractors built it. Has the city not maintained it properly or are its defects more intrinsic?

There may be little we can do about the condition of the shelter, assuming it's as bad as stated, but there is something many can do about the strained space. Adopt a dog or cat from the shelter. There's quite a good chance your new canine companion will be in better health than a puppy purchased from many breeders. It's the only love money can buy.

Just ask "The Brown Recluse." We and Roscoe think she's a hero...

 Photo Collage by The Brown Recluse


Thursday, June 14, 2012

A History of Violence & Defying Authority

18 Year-Old Killer of Eight
Hammad Memmon was 14 when he shot and killed Todd Brown, the minimum age that can be tried as an adult in Alabama. Originally charged as a juvenile, his name was not released until a judge ordered his case transferred to an adult circuit court docket. Now if found guilty, he can be sentenced to Life Without Parole--a sad fate for an individual so young. Yet, psychiatrists who have examined Hammad have stated he has a history of violence and defying authority.

Let's look at another young man. We'll call this hypothetical teen Dakota Holt. He has a similar history of violence and defying authority. Just a few months ago he attacked his own father, breaking the older man's ribs. For whatever reason, no charges were filed. What a mistake that turned out to be.

Now Dakota has admitted he shot and killed a young man whose only crime was to befriend him...and Dakota's mother has allegedly attempted to cover up her son's role in the death. Yet Dakota is ten months shy of his 14th birthday; he can legally be tried only as a juvenile and be held only until his 21st birthday.

There's an old Southern saying that every tub has to stand on its own bottom. Yet the hypothetical parents of any child of 13 who commits murder have a great deal to answer for. We can't help but wonder if Dakota's victim would be alive if only his father had pressed charges against him. That's obviously something we'll never know.


Juvenile Killers in Alabama:

  • Imposes JLWOP (discretionary). Minimum age is 14.
  • Ala. Code § 13A-5-40 (LexisNexis 2005 and Supp. 2007) (LWOP for murder); see also §§13A-5-6, 13A-5-9 (LWOP habitual offenders).
  • Ala. Code § 13A-15-34 (LexisNexis 2005 and Supp. 2007). Prosecutorial discretion to transfer any child 14 years or older to adult criminal court; transfer hearing required.
  • 62 youths serving JLWOP sentences.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Local News: A Lost Cause Says Rheta Johnson

Do you love to read Rheta Grimsley Johnson? We do. No, we don't always agree with her ultra liberal politics, but we deeply appreciate her down home writing. After all, she hangs her hat in Iuka, so she has to be someone worth reading. Her column this week concerned the loss of printed news four days a week in Mobile, Birmingham, and Huntsville. Like Ms. Johnson, we lament the actions of the Newhouse group that owns these former bastions of print.

What we didn't agree with was her take on lost local news. She compared news gathering via Twitter to sending a cocker spaniel to purchase groceries. We say: Thank God for blogs and local Internet magazines. Let's look at some local stories the TimesDaily either failed to cover or dropped the ball on.

* Most recently, our local rag failed to mention the UNA candidate in the Miss Alabama contest. How does something like that happen? Wait...we know. The one-size-fits-all article was written in Decatur where they apparently think the Shoals is some mythical parallel universe.

* Local Colbert County Commission candidate Troy Woodis was recently profiled in The Connection concerning his wage garnishments. After the online magazine leaked the story, the TD did something of a follow-up and referred to the original source as "social media" while leading readers to believe the garnishment was totally for unpaid business purchases. Didn't they think it was important that Woodis also owed thousands in back child support?

* Former Lexington resident Keith McGuire lost his teaching license last year after the Alabama Board of Education declared him guilty of rape, among other things, and morally unfit to teach. You would have thought since his rape trial had been held in Lauderdale County that the TD would have covered this. Nope.

* The death of acclaimed local writer Margaret Phillips? No, nothing on that from the TD.

* The death of former TD editor Fred Dillon? We believe you're smart enough to have guessed no TD coverage on that one either.

The above are just some examples of the TD's failure to report. There are many more of the TotallyDecatur's production of some highly sanitized versions of important news stories. In other words, if you think cheerleading is only present in athletic venues, think again.


We've added Brave Mable to our sidebar today. Mable is the artistic offspring of Amy Collins. If you missed Amy's blog on Walmart, be sure to check it out: Link

We've also added a Flickr link to some very telling photographs of the Sweetwater ruins taken 14 months ago.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

More Charges in Dylan Milam Murder?

Dylan Milam
Sources close to the investigation into 13 year-old Dylan Wayne Milam's murder say more charges are possible. A family member of the 13 year-old shooter reportedly gave information on the youth's behalf that has been proved false. If Colbert County does charge the family member, it will likely be for hindering prosecution, but a former Colbert law enforcement official has stated the family member could also be charged as an accessory after the fact. The case will likely be presented to the next Colbert County grand jury.

The shooter reportedly lived with his mother and her boyfriend on the outskirts of Leighton. He was a student at Colbert County High School and would have entered the 8th grade next autumn. As reported earlier, this young man was no stranger to law enforcement in Colbert County. Do you remember what you were doing at the age of 13, gentle readers? We're going to guess it wasn't plotting or covering up a murder while being abetted by an adult.


Shoals Ambulance is again in the news. The company is looking into bidding on the Lauderdale County contract, assuming it's put up for bids for the new fiscal year starting September 1st. Commissioners Rhea Fulmer and Fay Parker have publicly stated they see no need for a bid in the first year of a new three-year contract period for Lauderdale EMS, a subsidiary of Keller EMS. Really? How interesting...

We had been told an attorney general's opinion on Shoals Ambulance's initial foray into local service was possible by the start of this week; however, owner Bryan Gibson has yet to hear. We're betting on such an opinion being favorable to Gibson and the City of Muscle Shoals.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Names of Youthful Offenders?/TotallyDecatur Strikes Again

We've discussed Youthful Offender status before, as in the cases of Matthew Fox and Autumn Wood, one 21 at the time of his crime and the other 17. Both cases involved the taking of an innocent life, and both individuals were denied such status. If it had been granted, it would have been for legal purposes only--surely the greatest need or want for each of them. In other words, their names had been published by all news outlets in the Shoals; there was no possibility of anonymity by then. What of Dylan Wayne Mylam's killer?

The killer of Dylan (pictured at right) is only 13, the same age as his victim. Legally there was no doubt as to his status at arrest and of his keeping such. We have to ask: Is this the purpose of the Youthful Offender status?

A young man is driving around with his cousin/older brother/friend when the companion decides to rob a gas station. Does this 15 year-old boy have the mental capacity and/or experience to know to try to escape? To know to make a pretense in order to leave the car? To immediately report the crime? He may well not...and this is the purpose of the Youthful Offender status.

The killer of Dylan Wayne Mylam already had a record of sorts. Yes, frightening isn't it? Does he deserve anonymity?

To be continued tomorrow...


Did you like the article the online TimesDaily published on the Miss Alabama contest Saturday night? Perhaps you missed it since it was only a few lines? Those few lines listed the names of the local contestants.

Well, sort of. The article listed the names of those from Morgan and Limestone Counties. Miss UNA, Anne-Marie Hall (pictured at left) received nary a mention. Makes you proud to have a local newspaper doesn't it?

Thank you, Anne-Marie, for representing our local university, the Shoals, and your Franklin County home. We at Shoalanda Speaks are proud of you!


Be sure to catch the weekly local sex offender report in The Connection. This week it's a twofer...


Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Sunday Treat - Yes, Really!

We didn't know such a film existed. What a treat to see Mr. Frank Potts at the end!


Tennessee Valley Historical Society presents Helen Keller Festival Week Speakers: In recognition of Northwest Alabama history diversity and Helen Keller Festival Week activities, the Tennessee Valley Historical Society is sponsoring three guest speaker presentations to be held at Cold Water Bookstore, 101 West 6th Street, Tuscumbia, Alabama.

The presentation line up is as follows:

Thursday- June 21 - Time: 2 p.m. - “The American Star” Tom McKnight, TVHS President, will give a Power-Point presentation on ‘The American Star,’ the African-American, Muscle Shoals Missionary Baptist Association newspaper, edited and published by Professor George Washington Trenholm in Tuscumbia. Artifacts of recently discovered rare issues that were not known to exist covering the 1940s and 1950s will be on display.

Friday - June 22 - Time: 5:30 p.m. “Rediscovering the Poarch Creek Band of Creek Indians” Robert Thrower, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Poarch Creek Indians, will discuss “The Forgotten Creeks of Alabama: Rediscovering the Poarch Band of Creek Indians”. The presentation will explore the origin, struggles and accomplishments of the Poarch Band. A number of Creek cultural items will be on display for both discussion and demonstration.

Saturday – June 23 – Time: 12 Noon - “General Joe Wheeler Museum” Scheduled speakers will be Melissa Beasley, Site Director of the General Joe Wheeler Museum, Pond Spring, Hillsboro, Alabama and Kara Long, Museum Curator. Power-point presentation will cover the restoration effort that restored the Wheeler Home Museum, the family’s furnishings and artifacts that now occupy the historic site and historic insights of General Wheeler who served his home and country as a Confederate General, Congressman and West Point graduate. Miss Annie Wheeler’s service in the American Red Cross during three wars and her devotion to helping others will also be discussed.


Tomorrow we'll have some newly released info on the alleged murderer of Dylan Mylam. It's a sad commentary on the state of some families as well as our legal system.


Saturday, June 9, 2012

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Autumn Marie Wood Claims Self-Defense

Brooklyn Ann Hollins

Brooklyn Ann Hollins was two weeks short of her 15th birthday when she was stabbed to death at an unsupervised teen party last March. Now Autumn Marie Wood has claimed self-defense in the death, stating she was attacked by the girl nicknamed "Boogie." According to initial reports, Hollins had stepped into an argument turned physical in order to help defend a friend. Reports from yesterday's initial hearing for Wood state that the 17 year-old defendant had done the same.

We have to ask: Self-defense? How does one claim self-defense if one stops a pummeling long enough to open a kitchen drawer and retrieve a knife? Or is someone now saying a third party handed Wood the knife? Judge Carole Coil Medley has ruled the evidence is sketchy enough to warrant a grand jury hearing. This was a very necessary ruling to prevent any grounds for appeal in the case. The truly sad part is Brooklyn's family having to sit through such testimony.


We've seen the girl who gave the party praised for staying at the side of Brooklyn Ann Hollins while others, including Autumn Wood, fled. It was, after all, her home. Her parents had forbade any guests while they were away, but this young woman persisted in giving a party that reportedly included young males and alcohol. Obviously only her parents can mete out punishment for the young woman, but grounded for life sounds pretty good to us.


There's also new evidence in the alleged murder of 13 year-old Dylan Wayne Milam of Leighton. Look for it on Monday...


Friday, June 8, 2012

Dylan Wayne Milam: Why?

It was 40 years ago, but it seems like only last month to the two families involved. The 16 year-old boys had been hunting that Saturday. The early evening knock at the door wasn't unusual; if the parents heard the voice of their son's best friend, they would have found it reassuring, not an indicator of a tragedy that within seconds would change their lives forever.

Yet their son's hunting companion arrived on a mission, holding his weapon in his hand. He asked his long-time best friend if he was indeed now dating a certain girl. When the boy honestly replied in the affirmative, his friend shot him. The young victim died hours later after surgery at ECM Hospital, the wound in his stomach too large to contain.

When the news of the murder reached the public, the reaction was almost universal. Sixteen? How can one as young as 16 contemplate murdering his best friend? Here we are in 2012, and we're asking the same question, but now the age of the accused and his victim is only 13.

Last Sunday, Dylan Wayne Mylam was shot a few minutes before 9:00 p.m. at this residence in Leighton, an act his friend who lives in the home has confessed to. The young man originally told authorities the shooting was accidental, but investigators believe the shooting was deliberate. Now their friends and classmates are left to speculate on the motive.

All juvenile proceedings are closed, but the shooter could be incarcerated until he's 21--in other words between six and seven years. No football games, homecoming parades, harvest festivals, Christmas parties, proms, or graduations in this boy's future. No college either, at least until he's released at the age of 21. He may not technically have a felony conviction to report to school registrars, but they will know he has no regular high school diploma. This is not something that can't be overcome. The guilt is another matter.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Nunley Twins: On the Game & Out of Control

Tiffany Marie Nunley and Jessica Lynn Nunley are fraternal twins. The 21 year-olds appear to have taken separate paths in the past few years, but now both will be facing a trip down south. They, along with John Junior Minton, have been arrested for the murder of David Lynn Pennington, a 50 year-old disabled man who was reportedly stabbed over 80 times by Tiffany Nunley as her two companions waited outside in their car.

Sources say the twins often traded sex for drugs and/or money, but on the night of Pennington's murder in April 2011, only Tiffany entered the victim's home. All three are facing Capital Murder charges due to the added element of robbery. The State will seek to prove Minton and Jessica Nunley knew Tiffany planned to kill the wheelchair bound Pennington, but a Felony Murder conviction seems a much more likely outcome for the pair.

Minton, 30, has a number of previous convictions. In 2003, he and three other young men stole and torched a Lauderdale County school bus. In 2008, he was charged with possession of a controlled substance--non-marijuana. Both he and Jessica Nunley have been arraigned for Pennington's murder and have been assigned court appointed attorneys; sources say Tiffany Nunley, a one-time cosmetology student at Shoals Community College, should face an arraignment hearing before the end of the month.


Jeremy Wade Risner, the Tennessee man for whom a warrant was issued last week, has been apprehended and is in custody at the Florence-Lauderdale Detention Center. Jeremy's last name caused some undue problems for Kenneth Eugene Risner of Florence when Sheriff Ronnie Willis confused the two. Jeremy Risner now faces attempting to elude and resisting arrest charges in Lauderdale County, as well as the original burglary charges in Wayne County, Tennessee.

Related post:  Just a Little Confused


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Bubba's Take on Deard Hill Arrest

Deard Hill Jr.

A Special Report from Bubba Leroy Smuckpucker II: If you all follow local arrest reports, you recently read of the arrest of my ol' buddy Deard William Hill Jr. on May 27th. They got Deard for two counts of Failure to Appear. I feel like he'll be okay cause it's sure not his first rodeo.

Deard and me go back a long way and so does his rap sheet. His first big arrest was in 1990 for Felony Murder, but it really wasn't ol' Deard's fault. Deard (some people call him June Bug) and his Uncle Bobby Ray and Cousin Ricky Wayne all piled in their van to go over to Tony Ticer's place and teach him a lesson. But ol' Tony had other ideas. When Ricky Hill hit Tony over the head with the broken handle to a sledge hammer, ol' Tony ran in the house, got a gun and started shootin'. He wasn't that great a shot, but he did manage to hit Bobby, so all the Hills got back in the van and left.

Don't really recollect who was driving, but I guess it's not that easy when you're being shot at, and the van got stuck in a bush. Yeah...a bush. While Deard and Ricky was trying to push it out and get back on the road, they both got shot too. All of 'em got back home, but ol' Ricky was shot up pretty bad and he went and died on 'em. That's when the DA decided to arrest Ricky's daddy Bobby and his cousin Deard for Felony Murder. If'n they hadn't been beatin' up on ol' Tony, he wouldn't have shot at 'em to start with.

As you might guess, that didn't set too well with some of the Hill family. Ricky's mama Betty hadn't been married to Bobby for quite a spell, but I guess you could say there was still some embers and all, so she decides to go down to the courthouse and set up a picket line. Yeah...that's what she did. Got some other members of the family to picket too, but it didn't do no good. The county still tried Deard and his uncle for murder, attempted murder, assault, and discharging a firearm into a occupied building.

I guess the jury felt kinda sorry for 'em and only convicted the pair for Attempted Murder. Since Bobby and Deard had guns too, that upped the sentence to 20 years. Yep, a hard lesson to learn, especially since Bobby lost an eye in the fracas. You really need good vision to walk around a prison yard, but they both made it back home in a few years.

I was hopin' Deard's luck would change when he got out, but it only changed for the worst. Yeah, ol' June Bug had a brother who wasn't really great guns in the romance department and when his wife left him back in 2005, Deard and the rest of the family got into it with Renee'. Seems like poor Deard took the worst of it. Renee' stabbed him and her son shot him and her new boyfriend beat up on him. It had to have hurt, I would reckon. Then the DA got Renee for witness tampering and some other crimes, but I don't think that made ol' June Bug feel any better. Them gun shots take a time to heal up real good.

So if you see ol' Deard's name in the paper, don't go too hard on him. He hasn't had the easiest life. And remember to see me for all your septic tank and automotive needs if you're pert near to the Dog Ear community.


We've been hearing that representatives for Clint Eastwood have been in the area scouting locations for a new movie. Urban rumor? We have no idea, but if you have any info send it our way.


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Update on Joshua Dillon Honey Murder

On Friday, July 9, 2011, Joshua Dillon Honey (pictured top) was at his East Florence home with friends when he answered a knock on the door. Witnesses say Dillon was then shot during what is being called a robbery attempt. Three youths, all 19 at the time, were charged with Capital Murder the next day.

Devante Taija Barnett, aka T-Bug (pictured bottom left), is currently incarcerated at Kilby Prison on unrelated charges, with a release date of January 5, 2014. The attorney representing him on the murder charge is Dane Perry.

LaMarcus Letrie LeShore (pictured bottom right) is currently being held in the Florence-Lauderdale Detention Center without bail. His attorney is Vickie Willard.

Tyrus Montrell Thompson (not pictured) also remains in the detention center without bail. His attorney is Melinda Morgan Austin.

Sources say forensics and requests by attorneys have delayed the three trials. You may visit a memorial page for Dillon at this link: RIP Dillon Honey.

Related post: UNA Robber Devante Barnett


Monday, June 4, 2012

Autumn Wood: Back in Court on June 8th

As summer approaches, a hand full of high profile murder cases will again be in the news. This week should see Autumn Marie Wood back in court. Her first appearance since being denied youthful offender status will be on June 8th.

Since Wood was denied such status and since she has admitted stabbing Hollins, her attorney will probably attempt to negotiate a plea. We don't see Autumn Wood as coming across as very sympathetic to a jury. What type of sentence would the Lauderdale County District Attorney's office be willing to offer? Our guess would be in the 25 year range, but it could be less due to her age. No matter her final sentence, Wood obviously needs help with anger management. We hope she gets it.


As we mentioned in a previous blog, new state sex offender laws will be coming in the next few years. We have to ask, if registered sex offenders can be made to report at various times throughout the year, why can't they be required to undergo long-term therapy? Yes, this would cost the state initially, but it would save money spent on trials and imprisonment for those who relapse, not to mention protecting possible new victims.

This week's featured sex offender in The Connection is:


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Not Local, Just Southern

After we enumerated some local business chains yesterday, a reader asked about Guthrie's Chicken. Is it local? We had no idea, but discovered the answer is both yes and no. If you want to keep your hard earned dollars supporting close-to-home enterprises, here's a run down on a few more.

Guthrie's Chicken - Originated in Haleyville, Alabama. 27 locations--mainly franchises.

Demos' Steak & Spaghetti House - Home office in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Five stores in two states.

Krystal - Home office in Chattanooga, Tennessee. 420 stores in the Southeast.

Chick-Fil-A - Home office in Atlanta, Georgia. 1,614 stores in 39 states.

Whitt's Barbecue - Originated in Athens, Alabama.  Locations in two states.

Rosie's Mexican Cantina - Originated in Huntsville, Alabama. Four stores in North Alabama.


Today's TimesDaily reports that the power is off at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame; however, the museum's Facebook page states that it was restored on May 24th. We have to wonder just how wily Wiley Barnard, current director, really is in taking the helm of this stepchild of the state.

Related post: John Briggs


Saturday, June 2, 2012

Just What Is a Mom & Pop Store?

Walmart has just achieved another milestone in its bid to open a second store in Florence. Since no graves have been found outside the historic Coffee Cemetery, we may assume the new big box store is now a done deal.

We were a little amused by one proponent's assertion that the new Walmart won't put any local enterprises out of business--he would always shop Big Star and Fred's. While it's true that many national and regional chains are franchised, most are not. Fred's certainly isn't, at least in the Shoals. Let's look at a few.

Fred's Dollar Stores - Home office in Memphis, Tennessee. 670 stores nationally, plus 24 franchises.

Dollar General Stores - Home office in Goodlettesville, Tennessee. 10,000 stores in 40 states.

Family Dollar Stores - Home office in Charlotte, North Carolina. 6,800 stores in 44 states.

Jack's Hamburgers - Home office in Birmingham, Alabama. 100s of stores in four states.

Rick's Barbecue - Home office in Leoma, Tennessee. Seven stores in two states, plus franchises.

So, are Family Dollar Stores local? Charlotte is not exactly a day trip from the Shoals. How about Rick's? They're close to home, but most of the tax dollars produced by these stores go to Tennessee.

It would be great to be able to shop only Mom & Pop stores; unfortunately, that's no longer possible for every purchase. Does that mean we welcome a new Walmart? No, it doesn't, but we do realize things change. Just look around for a video store. How many do you see? That's okay. Payday loan stores soon filled the buildings left vacant...


Friday, June 1, 2012

Ronnie Willis: Just a Little Confused

If It wasn't so sad, it would be funny. Yesterday morning, Lauderdale County Sheriff Ronnie Willis (pictured right) received communication from Wayne County, Tennessee, that a local man was wanted there. Willis then informed his deputies to be on the lookout and promptly called the Lauderdale County Detention Center where Kenneth Eugene Risner's sister works, asking her to have Kenneth turn himself in. Other members of the sheriff's office called various individuals. We had received two reports on Risner's supposed activity before noon.

Why is this sad/funny? The name on the warrant wasn't Kenneth Eugene Risner, pictured at left, but Jeremy Wade Risner, pictured center. The latter Risner had also recently been a guest at the Lauderdale County Detention Center, and Kenneth's sister had remembered a Tennessee investigator confusing the two. When she asked Willis to double check the name, he then confirmed he was looking for the wrong person.

A worker at the detention center (not Kenneth's sister) first contacted us about Willis' mistake and demanded we issue a HUGE retraction. We're happy to correct the information, but suggest she look at the source. This area is home to many named Risner.

We're still not sure which Risner ran from a deputy in Waterloo, but we're guessing it was Jeremy. Nor do we know if Jeremy Wade Risner has been apprehended. He is a convicted sex offender, as well as being sought in connection with a burglary. We do know that Kenneth Eugene Risner's court date is still set for June 26th...and we're also pretty sure yesterday's snafu at the sheriff's office didn't help his chest pains.