Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Two Thoughts on Waterloo

Watershed Moment in Waterloo

A Guest Commentary By

Hank Thomas

Recently the Concerned Citizens of Paradise Drive wrote a letter to the Lauderdale County Commission and to the Chairman Dewey Mitchell regarding 5 major defects affecting the safety of the citizens on the road. Mr. Mitchell and has yet to address the letter. His subordinates the County Attorney and County Engineer also received a copy of the letter and they decided they would put signs in the Town of Waterloo alerting citizens to the fact that the road is curvy and steep. Neither took any action on the need for guardrails, loose and unstable road surface and warning signs at dangerous blind turns and hills on the road. They were also forewarned as well as Mr. Mitchell that inaction could lead to serious injury or loss of life.

Sadly on May 30, 2012 a young man from Killen was traveling on the road when the vehicle he was riding in exited the roadway on one of the blind curves and a very steep hill and plummeted some 75 feet to the bottom of a ravine. Unfortunately the young man lost his life. The accident may have been prevented if only Mr. Mitchell as Chairman of the commission and Mr. Irons and Mr. Thornton as commissioners had followed the lead of Ms. Fulmer and Mr. Parker who voted to amend a 1981 county resolution to allow improvements to the road and to address the obvious and noted defects on the road. For reasons known only to them Mr. Mitchell, Mr. Thornton and Mr. Irons voted NO to any changes and to leave the resolution in place.

Under the leadership of Mr. Mitchell who is up for reelection the commission continues to live in the past. Operating under a resolution that was adopted 31 years ago shows no vision on his part. 31 years ago this road was for fish camps, now there are people living and driving on the road full time. 31 years ago many things we now take for granted were not in use, such as cell phones, laptops, and many other tools we use today. Under his leadership we had to wait 4 years for a new emergency management plan. The one we were operating under was written in 1989. The commission paid $10,000 in 2008 and we just now have what they are calling a new plan. What plan takes 4 years and is paid for in advance. Answer: Lauderdale County Commission’s Emergency Management Plan.

Now the county commission Chairman Mitchell is saying we have to re bid the present Lauderdale EMS ambulance service contract because the City of Florence wishes to do so. When has anyone entered into a partnership where one partner tells the other what they must do. The contract should have made it clear that if either party wishes the contract to remain in effect then the contract stays valid until it expires. No complaints have been presented, nor breach of contract on the part of the ambulance service. With 2 years remaining on the contract what is the need. What if the contract comes back with bids that overall increase the cost to the county. Lack of leadership again raises these questions.

Please join me in calling your commissioner and requesting that the commission address all of these issues and to change the time of the regular commission meeting to 6 pm to allow working citizens to attend the meetings to see for themselves how ineffective this commission led by Chairman Dewey Mitchell has become. Two of the commissioners have voiced support for a change in the meeting time. I leave it to you to decide which 3 commissioners wish it to remain at the present inconvenient time for most of you.

Editor's Note: Dewey Mitchell is technically not up for re-election, but is seeking the new post of Commission Chair. Until this election, the Lauderdale Probate Judge acted as chair. Florence Councilman Sam Pendleton has called Mitchell the worst probate judge in county history. Thankfully, both Democratic and Republican candidates for this post are juris doctors. We would hope Alabama will some day amend this office description.


If you purchased a Sunday TimesDaily, you may have read the regular Shoals Area insert featuring local communities. It seems one Lauderdale town was missing. Has Waterloo defected to Mississippi?


1 comment:

  1. I have no dog in the race, but I've been watching you go around spouting your nonsense for months now. I'm sorry, but you bought the property KNOWING the road was not "county maintained" and using this young man's death as fodder for your personal agenda to improve the property value is disgusting to me. That road has NEVER in my over 40 years of living been maintained by the county. YOU say there have been many wrecks -- I live out here and that's just not true. The wrecks that occur are when people are "jeep riding" or "4-wheelin" and wrecks are an inherent possibility -- that is the fun of it. There were many factors in that wreck and I'm sorry the young man lost his life, but had he been wearing his seatbelt -- as is the law in Alabama -- he might not have been killed either, but that is not the county's fault and the county is not responsible for this young man's death anymore than you or I are. It was a tragedy and the fact that you are now using this young man's death for your own personal agenda to get your road pristine to up your property values is wrong. Waterloo will never be the "Gulf Shores of North Alabama" nor will it compare to Pickwick. Please realize that most of us out here disagree with you and your tactics. We mourn the loss of the young man and pray for the mother and you should be ashamed of yourself.