Friday, August 31, 2012

Cherokee Chuckles but No Duckles

Cherokee's Big Fix

A Guest Commentary By

State Sen. Horatio Leander Smooter IV 

Miss Shoalanda has asked me once more to clarify some extremely complicated political goings-on, and I'm happy to oblige, since as you know only we state senators are qualified to make laws, interpret them, and explain them. I'm speaking specifically of the Cherokee city council race, but it's not unlike several we've had in my hometown of U-Turn, Alabama.

The first question seems to be "Can a dead person vote?" Well, I'm living proof that dead people can and do elect representatives. After all, suppose your 98 year-old granddaddy dies three days before the election. You knew how he was going to vote, now didn't you? Don't you think he would have wanted you to carry on in his name?  Besides, dead people in Cherokee probably know as much as the living ones anyway.

That brings us to the second point of voting outside of one's district. A district, like age, is just a state of mind. Suppose your brother-in-law is running in District One, but you live just a few blocks away in District Two, or maybe outside the city limits. Do you think a little thing like that should deprive you of your God-given right to vote for a family member? No, didn't think so.

So now we have a sore loser wanting a recount because she lost by two votes. Why even if the one out of district vote is thrown out, she'll still lose by one vote. That's unless there were some other shady goings on. I'm here to tell you that there are no more under the table or questionable deals going on in Cherokee than there are in U-Turn or Chicago or...

Well, harumph, you get the idea.


Mr. Elbert Davis was murdered this week during a home invasion. Some may say that at 88 his life was winding down. Obviously that's true, but whoever killed him still committed capital murder. Whoever attacked Mr. Davis and stole his wallet deserves life in prison. Let's hope Chief Tony Logan and the Tuscumbia CID soon have the murderer in custody.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

William Smith Goes to Republican Convention

William Smith, a Florence attorney, former Lauderdale County Commissioner, and Republican nominee for Lauderdale County Probate Judge, will be attending the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa Bay, Florida, August 27-30. Smith will be attending the 2012 convention as an Alternate Delegate for Rick Santorum. Four years ago, he attended the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota as an Alternate Delegate for Mike Huckabee.

William has held a number of leadership positions in the Shoals area including serving as president of organizations such as the University of North Alabama National Alumni Association, Lauderdale County Bar Association, and the Tennessee Valley Historical Society. He is a member of the Shoals Chamber of Commerce, Rogersville Chamber of Commerce, Florence Rotary Club, Lauderdale County Cattlemen’s Association, and is a board member of the Lauderdale County Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) Advisory Board. William and his wife, Laura, are active members of Highland Baptist Church where he has served as youth basketball coach, discipleship leader, and international missions worker.

Smith’s family roots in Lauderdale County date back to the 1820s where his forefathers and ancestors were farmers, soldiers, and some of the earliest settlers in the Greenhill and Killen communities. A fifth generation Lauderdale County resident, William is a product of the public education system, and a graduate of both the University of North Alabama and Cumberland School of Law of Samford University in Birmingham.


William is also the Republican candidate for Lauderdale County Probate Judge. He has proved himself and his value to the community time after time. We're extremely happy to endorse William Smith in his candidacy and hope he's able to serve the residents of Lauderdale for years to come.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

He Even Wore His Name on His Shirt

This is the booking photo of Kenneth Durant Newell, recently arrested in Franklin County for receiving stolen property. We don't know anything about the Phil Campbell man's alleged crimes, but we couldn't help but notice he's wearing his "bad boy" tee-shirt for the honors. Talk about your dressed for success...


Some evacuation brought on by Hurricane Isaac was more humorous than others. Take this family:

Gulf Shores resident Billy Cannon is among the evacuees. He's leaving the beach with his wife, ex-wife, daughter, son and four Chihuahuas. 

We wonder how they worked out the room sharing...


Lauderdale attorney and candidate for probate judge William Smith is among the delegates at the Republican convention. Tomorrow we'll take a closer look at one of the area's more erudite candidates.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Vote Today/Jack's Chicken Shack

If you live in an incorporated area, you have the opportunity today to influence the destiny of your fair city. Don't sit home and say it doesn't matter. It does. Heated elections for mayor in Florence, Russellville, and Phil Campbell are sure to produce a large turnout; there may even be a runoff in Florence.

The only endorsement we've given is for David Reed Grissom in Russellville. Our sources in that Franklin County town are predicting a win for Mr. Grissom--God knows Russellville needs some good luck.


Several readers asked about Jack's Chicken Shack mentioned in yesterday's blog. Was it in Sheffield or Florence or both? Here's some quotes we've dug up from the archives...

Across the tracks was Jack’s Chicken Shack, a Negro hangout that sold bootleg liquor after the county went dry around 1952, and Sheffield began to grow more ashen and dusty, shriveling into a near semblance of a ghost town. Jonathan Rosenbaum

I wonder how many different towns have the same story about Mustang Sally as we did in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. I was always told Sally was a waitress at Jack's Chicken Shack across the river in Florence. It was a place the out-late crowd would go to for something to eat, and was a favorite among musicians working late sessions at Fame, or one of the other studios around town. Roger Sizemore

This discussion brings to mind the club Jack's Chicken Shack which used to be just beyond the tracks in Baptist Bottom. Is it still there or is it just a memory for those of us who are a wee bit older? Driving past there on a Friday or Saturday night; you could see and hear that activity going on inside -- party hearty! My dad was an appliance repairman and several times when I was in high school, I went with him on a service call to Jack's. They were nice people -- but, boy it did rock on the weekends. I am just curious if it is still there. Bill Gray

Anyone else have memories of Jack's Chicken Shack?


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Ethics Commission Visits Lauderdale County Sheriff's Office

It would appear a clean, cool breeze has been left in the aftermath of recent storms created by approximately a dozen letters sent to various state agencies. One recipient, the Alabama Ethics Commission paid the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Office a visit last week.

Reportedly, there will several policy changes within the office as a result of the visit. We've not been able to obtain a copy of the letter from a member of the department; however, we're still trying and will publish the contents upon receipt.


Our source in Ronnie Willis' office has stated there are currently six law suits against the Lauderdale sheriff. We're in the process of verifying the suits and their contents. One suit has been filed by Florence Detention Center employee Kelly Pitts who claims he was asked to work overtime hours but not paid.

We welcome any comment from Sheriff Willis.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Murderer v. Rapist?

This past week saw an interesting debate spring up in Shoals cyberspace: Who's more of a danger to society--a murderer or a rapist? Some questioned why convicted rapists have to register, while convicted murderers don't. We're going to speculate that anyone who asks that question hasn't really considered it at length.

Ask any police officer, and chances are he'll tell you that murderers are some of the nicest people you'll ever least of those who make their way through our judicial system. Both crimes are extremely personal, but barring the occasional mad dog bank robber or psychopath, an individual won't kill at random. Many who've committed the crime of murder will state they were driven to it in some fashion. We're not advocating murder as a way to settle a neighborly dispute or end a marriage, but we do say those who commit the crime are not likely to re-offend. One cannot say the same of a rapist.

If you suspect a rapist or other sex offender is not living at his registered address, by all means report it to the proper authorities. Be aware of your neighbors and your surroundings. Visit the Alabama Sex Offender site; it's there for a reason--use it.


We've had a request to add more crime blogs to our links section. If you know of an interesting site featuring ne'er-do-wells, please forward it to us. Here's a new site that promises to be interesting:


Friday, August 24, 2012

Franklin County Follies: Bynum & Common

Vina High School
After two postponements, Kimberly Bynum, 30, will face a jury trial beginning October 15th in Franklin County. She will become the first local teacher tried under the 2010 law that makes consensual sex between a teacher and a student under the age of 19 illegal. The former Vina High math teacher was arrested in June 2011.

Related post: Kimberly Bynum


J.J. Common has reportedly turned down a 25 year sentence plea deal offered by Franklin County. Common faces a distribution charge in Franklin, as well as federal probation violation charges, as well as...well, we've lost count. Common has reportedly fired the attorney who advised him to take the plea and hired Daryl W. Moon of Florence to defend him at trial.

Common allegedly feels the police video of a drug deal could feature almost any black male wearing a baseball cap and hoodie. After all, it is such popular attire in some circles.

Related post: J.J. Common


Looks like the new Lion's Den apartments on East Tennessee Street are ready for occupancy. There may be some legal problems connected with the revamped motel; Krystal circa 1970 wants its color scheme back, and Lego is considering a copyright suit related to the bus stop. Someone designed that? Really?


Thursday, August 23, 2012

That's Big o' Her...or Is That Bigamy?

Yolanda Johnson Faulk

It's not every town that has a chance to elect a bigamist to public office. Apparently Florence is now one of those lucky municipalities.What options does Florence have to fill the soon to be vacant council seat in District One? Yolanda Johnson Faulk is running against Dave Smith, who was only too happy to accompany Paul Faulk to the TimesDaily office to present documents proving Yolanda Faulk had committed bigamy, but didn't "want to get involved."

Good luck, District One. You won't find anyone who can compare to Sam Pendleton any time soon.


Hannah Mask of the TimesDaily has an interesting article on the new deferred action program designed to provide work permits for illegal aliens who meet certain requirements. Of course, Ms. Mask didn't use the word "illegal." She used the ever popular term "undocumented"--four times.

I can see it now...he's not a quack, he's an undocumented surgeon. She's not an unlicensed driver, she's simply undocumented. Drug dealers? No. They're just undocumented pharmacists. Then there could be the highly popular murder defense--He's just an undocumented executioner.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Married for What?/Tim Kent

Would you marry for money? Some would. If you can live with the deal, that's your business. As for others, love comes first. As for still others, we have to wonder.

Been keeping up with the Anthony Woods murder trial? The victim had been married at least three times, and one of her ex-husbands testified today that Tammie Woods had tried to run him down with her car before they married. That's right...before they married and while he was still married to someone else. The defense is using him for a witness...just not one known for his common sense...or morals.


Cold Water Books will host author, Tim Kent on Thursday, August 23. Tim will sign copies of his books from 5-9pm and give a presentation on the Winston Family, Deshler and Civil War History of Colbert County at 6pm. This will take place during the Deshler Tiger Walk, Tuscumbia Market Event.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Who Can View Lauderdale Ambulance Bids?

Are the recently closed bids for a new Lauderdale County ambulance contract public or private? Apparently Lauderdale Commission attorney Chris Smith and administrator Brenda Bryant weren't sure themselves.

Waterloo resident Hank Thomas requested to see the bids from Lauderdale EMS (a division of Keller EMS) and Shoals Ambulance (a new to the area company founded by Bryan Gibson), at which time he was refused. Mr. Thomas then sent this e-mail:

Ms. Bryant and Mr. Smith, I have contacted Ms. Monica Sheeler, assistant attorney general; of the Alabama Attorney Generals office. She works in the department of Public Affairs and deals with FOIA questions.She advised me that if the Ambulance bids had closed and could not be changed nor altered, then it is allowable for citizens to review and/or purchase copies in her opinion .It is my understanding the bids closed on August 2, 2012 and the bidders cannot change the bids in any manner.   She advised the only exception she was aware of was if by my viewing the documents it would be "A Detriment to Public Safety". Please advise if there are other reasons I would not be allowed to view or purchase copies of the documents.

Some days later, Ms. Bryant again e-mailed Mr. Thomas:

After review by this office and Chris Smith we have researched the law  41-16-24(b) and 41-16-27(c)and we have discussed with the Association of County Commissions legal department. At the present time the bid documents are being used to make comparisons and basically is being used as a “work product”. The rebid is very large and has to be reduced and summarized into spread sheets so that the commissioners and city council can compare the bids. However by the end of the week, Thursday or Friday you are welcome to come down the  office and review the bids. Due to the size we are unable to make copies due to time constraints  but you are welcomed to use an office and review the contents. The bids can’t leave the office. If I can be of further assistance please feel free to contact me.

Once the bids have been reviewed, we'll publish an update.


Franklin County's unemployment rate was 9.6% in June; last month it was 9.7%. For every 1,000 workers in Franklin, 97 don't have jobs--that's not a cheery thought. Now the Franklin Pharmacy compounding facility is reportedly closing. We're going to predict the unemployment rate won't be going down for August. From Pen N Sword:


Monday, August 20, 2012

The Horsey Set/More Views on William Combs

For those who wanted to learn more about the new equestrian program at Florence High School, here's some interesting info from a knowledgeable supporter:

As far as we know, this is the first equestrian team in Alabama. The land and facilities and some funds were donated to the school for this purpose. We did purchase two horses and are paying a teacher a small stipend for the extra hours devoted to equestrian training. It has generated a vast amount of excitement from the students.

While the rest of the state did have quite a challenge financially, Florence did not participate in pro-ration. We absorbed our cuts through attrition and were able to keep hiring teachers because of the fantastic financial support we receive from the City of Florence. County schools and other less-stable cities did not have that luxury.

It is simply not possible to hire "more teachers instead of horses" as some are claiming. Teachers can ONLY be hired using money the state and feds give us for teachers. Virtually every dollar we received is earmarked for a specific purpose. We had extra money devoted to expansion of sports programs (and could ONLY, by law, be used for that) and decided to go with this exciting program.


Two diverse opinions on former Hibbett Middle School principal William Combs:

I-Now is a database. The GUI isn't difficult, but it is not intuitive to most users. What amazes me is that this man was either stupid, lazy, egotistical, unable to delegate tasks or a combination of those things. Those aren't qualities that we need in our school's leadership. I am glad he is gone, we need more things like I-Now to test our educators intelligence, integrity, and ability.


Please understand my passion for the subject and pardon me for saying so, but the article re: Combs was, at best, tacky.  What your source showed, intentional, or not, is the HUGE lack of support for school teachers and administrators....from their own ranks. Mr. Combs was...IS...a professional. Ask yourself this: IF what your source claims is true, what made him think he had nowhere to turn for help?

Oh, yeah....the new policy re: out of district enrollment hit Mr. Combs REALLY hard.  He has two (2) 'special needs' children that were formerly enrolled in FCS.  The new policy forced him to choose a less ideal alternative for their education.

As for help, it would seem every other principal in Lauderdale, Colbert, and Franklin Counties did learn to navigate the new system. Our use of the word "funny" simply referred to the stereotype that men don't like to ask directions. Obviously many male educators did either ask for help with iNow or they learned on their own. We understand that there is also an iNow wiki site with tutorials available to all Alabama schools.

The writer of our second comment referred us to Mr. Combs' Facebook page. It seems that as of two years ago the former principal acquired three step-children. We don't know anything of this new enrollment policy, but would be glad to hear from those who do.

We also wish Mr. Combs the best in whatever new endeavor he chooses.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Sad, but Funny, Fall of William Combs

Hibbett School sits in a quiet residential North Florence neighborhood. Built over 25 years ago, the school consolidated Gilbert Elementary and Appleby Junior High Schools and was named for Rufus G. Hibbett, a former Coffee High football coach, superintendent, and founder of Hibbett Sports. When the name of Hibbett School is in the news, it's usually in connection with its outstanding teachers or an award for excellence in some field. That wasn't the case late last week.

As soon as it was announced that William R. Combs III, the principal at Hibbett for just over a year, had resigned, we began to get e-mails. All were supportive of Combs; apparently he was considered a great guy who ran his ship well and made friends wherever he went. Coming just five days before the start of the 2012 fall term, our readers questioned the motive behind a resignation rumored to be at the request of Superintendent Janet Womack.

All schools in Alabama come under the jurisdiction of the state department of education. Local systems may have the freedom to implement or discontinue many programs and policies, but some they don't. This was the case of  I-Now, a scheduling program that the state implemented at the beginning of the 2011 school year.

A core job of middle school principals is to maintain records in I-Now. A knowledgible source told us that if records are entered in a timely fashion, producing a teacher/student schedule for a new year is 80% done by the end of the old year.

Was I-Now user friendly? It seems unfriendly doesn't even begin to cover it, but it was the program selected by the state, and principals in all other Florence City Schools buckled down and learned how to use it. Bill Combs did not.

Why didn't he ask for help? Surely no one would have faulted him for needing help with a new program. Instead, Combs assured teachers at Hibbett that the new schedules would be delivered shortly. Instead, last Wednesday, Combs announced that nothing had been done on the 2012 schedules. With less than five days before the start of the new school year, teachers and administrative personnel rallied together to produce the schedule. This was not part of their job description, and we're going to call them our local heroes of the week for saving the day at Hibbett.

Was Combs asked to resign because he hadn't been able to decipher the new program or because he had continually stated all was well in that area when it most certainly wasn't? We're going to guess the latter played a much larger role than the former.

Why is this funny? Perhaps that's not the best choice of words, but some men never learn to ask for directions even when they're hopelessly lost. Why is it sad? Florence has lost a competent leader/administrator, or at least one with the potential to become one. Combs is now in the position of looking for work elsewhere, and his family will again be uprooted in the process.

We commend the school board for taking care of this situation. Here's wishing Dr. Womack and the board the very best in finding a new leader for Hibbett.

Tomorrow: A look at Florence's new equestrian team.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Scott Beason Has Some Smarts

Alabama State Senator Scott Beason

It's almost back to school time and we have a great idea for all you parents out there struggling to purchase your child's supplies. Instead of getting your own child anything he needs to be successful in life, just go buy something for your neighbor's child instead.

Anyone like that idea? We thought not. Yet that's what many supporters of "undocumented" immigrants would like us to do for them. Thankfully not everyone is on board with this wonderful plan. State senator Scott Beason of Gardendale was quoted in today's TimesDaily as saying:

We cannot solve the world’s problems, but we can make sure we don’t import some problems.

Thank God someone knows what logic is and can actually apply it to everyday life in Alabama.


Parents and teachers alike have been weighing in on the resignation of William Combs at Florence's Hibbett Middle School. Tomorrow we'll have an update on the situation, as well as some surprisingly good news about Florence's new equestrian team.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Hibbett Principal "Resigns"

William R. Combs III, Principal of Hibbett Middle School in Florence, resigned earlier today. Superintendent Janet Womack reportedly asked for Comb's resignation five days before the start of the fall term; however, the official letter of resignation stated family problems were at the root of Combs' sudden departure.

A brief bio of Combs who took the helm on June 1, 2011:  

This is my fourteenth year in education.  My history in education began in Mobile County Schools where I was an English teacher for nine years.  I have also served in Thomasville City Schools and Covington County schools as assistant principal and federal programs coordinator. I grew up in Mobile, Alabama and graduated from Baker High school in 1987 where I would earn a scholarship to play football at Copiah Lincoln Community College.  After my tenure at Copiah Lincoln, I would go on to play at The University of Alabama for Coach Bill Curry where I was a member of the 1990 USFG Sugar Bowl team.  I truly believe that nothing in life comes easy, but the rewards from hard work will continue to pay dividends for years to come.  It is my goal to instill a strong work ethic in your child and help them realize their potential as well as overcome any obstacle that may be in their way. 

Our sources are predicting a scramble to find a replacement; Assistant Principal Rose McGee is expected to fill in. Hibbett came in next to last in two areas in the most recent round of standardized testing. Womack has stated she wishes to make the Florence system the best in the state within five years of her arrival.


On a related note, we've been asked how many public high schools have an equestrian team? We have absolutely no idea. We do know that Florence's is the first in the state. We support such extracurricular activities, but in a time of proration, we can see how some would view this as totally superfluous.

We hope to have a statement from a school board member in the next few days.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Ant is Back!/So Long Sweetwater Reunion

Friday and Saturday mark the return of that celebrity know, the one on those great looking tee-shirts. Downtown Russellville will be reinventing itself as the center of all things fun once more this year. Here's a brief bio of one our favorite bands that will be performing:

Out of Northwest Alabama come The KGB entertaining crowds all around the Southeast with talented vocalists covering every genre of music. A KGB show is so diverse that it pleases all ages and all musical tastes with powerful ballads, tight harmonies and a lot of laughs. They are currently working on their first all original album which will be released soon. Kerry Gilbert is a native of Russellville and in 1986 played his first Watermelon Festival with a local band called Mountain Breeze. The KGB consists of: Kerry Gilbert, Randy Kimbrough, Mitchell Curtis, Shane Goodson, Hugh Banks, Byron Jamerson and David Jones.


Last weekend marked the final Sweetwater Reunion. We were remiss in not reporting on it before now, but it gives us a chance to clear up some misconceptions. The Reunion has been an East Florence staple for 26 years, and event organizers felt it had run its course.

The demise of the annual reunions has nothing to do with discontinuation of work on Sweetwater Mansion. The owner of the old Weeden home has for two years been attempting to bring in tourist dollars with sporadic events. While it's unofficial, we have heard that renovation has stopped on the project due to lack of funding and interest from the local community. Sweetwater's Facebook page has not been updated in three months and the director no longer lists the mansion as among her interests. Anyone surprised?


Where were you 35 years ago today? If you have an interesting memory of that Tuesday, be sure to leave it here:


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Jock Bo Riley Sentenced

A regular Lauderdale County reader was the victim of Jock Bo Riley many months ago. Since that time he's had little assurance that Riley would indeed pay for his crime. Now Riley has been sentenced for a least another of his legal lapses. Riley, accused of attempted robbery in February 2011, was sentenced to serve time in a community corrections program following treatment at a rehabilitation facility. From a local news report:

Jock Bo Riley, 30, 270 Franklin 44, Russellville, pleaded guilty to second-degree burglary and second-degree receiving stolen property on Nov. 30, 2011, and received a 10-year sentence split with a year to serve. According to Franklin County District Attorney Joey Rushing, Riley was given an opportunity to go to a long-term rehab program before he was sentenced for those charges.

The charges Riley originally received stemmed from 2011 incident where a string of criminal activity ultimately led to his arrest by two different agencies. Riley is accused of entering an occupied residence on East Avenue in Russellville during the early morning hours of Feb. 2, 2011. After Riley was confronted by the residents, officials said he demanded money and made a gesture to suggest he was armed. Reports indicate Riley fled the scene a few moments later without obtaining any money or property from the residence.

Riley was caught several blocks from the scene of the incident by night shift officers and was later identified by the residents as the man who had entered their home demanding money, officials said. According to reports, Riley was also found in possession of 2002 Chevrolet Corvette that had been reported stolen from Florence several days earlier and was turned over to the Florence Police Department before being returned to Franklin County. After he serves his Community Corrections sentence, Rushing said Riley will also receive five years probation.

Related post: Jock Bo Riley


A car enthusiast once visited the old Anderson's Bookland downtown. Not finding what he wanted, he asked the clerk if they carried Vette Views. He was quite confused for several seconds when the clerk replied, "No, but we have Dog Fancy and Cat Fancy."


It's been reported that at least one of the ten unacquired properties in the Brandon Block sits in the middle of the proposed new construction. Can one resistant homeowner hold up the new RegionalCare hospital? CEO Russell Pigg has stated all property must be acquired by October 1st; however, the CON hearings have been postponed until February 2013. Will this affect their timeline as to purchases? What happens if a homeowner should die during this possible delay in construction? Would the heirs be held to the sales contract?

Remember: If it can go wrong, it usually does.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Doug Arnold Knows?

Doug Arnold
It seems Helen Keller Hospital CEO Doug Arnold is now interpreting attorney general's opinions for the Colbert 911 board. Wonder what he charges for that? Is this something anyone can attempt or does it require special training? Perhaps we need an AG's opinion on that too...


Identity theft? Many are not aware that simply using someone else's credit or debit card is indeed identity theft. Another area that has gone unreported is the non-criminal area of unauthorized use of names. In other words, if someone claims to be "you," but doesn't profit financially from it, it's still an illegal action.

The District Attorney's office will be quick to tell you that you need to engage a private attorney to bring civil charges, so there's money involved up front if you wish to bring legal action. If the guilty party loses the suit, he or she will be on the hook to reimburse you the court costs and attorney's fee.

This kind of "fun and games" seems to have picked up steam in the past two or so years here in the Shoals, so if you have the financial means, we say by all means sue. Recent court decisions also indicate any forum or blog that knowingly allows unauthorized use of another's name may also be held liable.


Monday, August 13, 2012

The Letter/Republican Rally

The Letter--it's an old song by the Boxtops, a great 70s band out of Memphis. We understand several Lauderdale governing bodies received letters today. There will probably be more delivered to points south of Birmingham tomorrow. What do these letters say?

That we cannot say, because we haven't seen a copy. There's always two sides to every story, and everyone deserves a chance to defend themselves. We don't have the manpower or expertise to conduct such interviews, but we understand Pen N Sword will be examining the content of these letters and discussing said content in depth.

Perhaps we should also mention when we predicted thunderstorms today in the area around the Lauderdale Courthouse, we didn't know the weather was going to be so obliging.


Republican Party Rally

Lauderdale and Colbert County Republicans have selected August 14th to begin their campaign to restore freedom and liberty from the Court House to the White House in the November 6th general election. Local Republicans will hold a campaign rally on Friday, August 17th from 5:00 pm until 7:00 pm at Shelter #1 in McFarland Park, Florence, with Congressman Mo Brooks as a special guest speaker. The event is free, open to the public, and hot dogs and refreshments will be served.

The Lauderdale and Colbert County Republicans picked August 14th to start of the campaign season due to its importance in American history. On August 14, 1765, patriots in Boston known as "the Sons of Liberty," gathered under a large elm tree, known today as the Liberty Tree, to protest the Stamp Act imposed by England. Lauderdale and Colbert County Republicans will gather by the Tennessee River in McFarland Park to voice their opposition to President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and the Democrats scheme to control health care in America. This scheme, Obamacare, has been declared a tax by the United States Supreme Court and will become the largest tax increase in American history further devastating our nation's economy.

Republicans believe Barack Obama does not deserve to be re-elected and be President of the United States for eight years. He does not deserve eight years to continue dividing America. He does not deserve eight years to continue destroying our economic freedom. Candidate Obama promised to cut America’s deficit, reduce unemployment, and restore the American economy. President Obama has mortgaged the future of our children and grandchildren, lost hundreds of thousands of jobs, imposed the largest tax increase in American history, increased unemployment, and crippled the American economy.

On November 6th voters in Lauderdale and Colbert Counties will decide if they want to restore individual liberty and freedom or increase government control of every part of life. Voters will decide if they want to protect human life from birth to death or choose to continue abortion on demand. Voters will decide if they want to promote economic freedom or continue government taxing, regulating, and wasting. Voters will decide if they want to vote for Republicans, who will fight for hard working tax payers, or Democrats, who want to increase the power of government to tax us from the cradle to the grave and beyond. Vote for your Republican candidates and work to restore your liberty and freedom.

Join the Lauderdale and Colbert County Republicans at McFarland Park from 5:00 pm until 7:00 pm on Friday, August 17th to voice your opposition to Obamacare, replace President Obama, and help restore liberty and freedom by electing Republicans from the Court House to the White House. For more information contact:
Lauderdale County Republican Chairman Scott Jones at 256-766-6908
Colbert County Republican Chairman David Black at 256-627-2630


Sunday, August 12, 2012

David Reed Grissom/Storm Warning


"Because I said so."

"I am the boss."

"Hit the road if you don't like it here."

The above statements may be appropriate coming from a parent...or drill sergeant, but not so much from a mayor, police chief, sheriff, etc. Yet we often hear of those words emanating from local offices. We're not making many endorsements in the upcoming municipal races, since most candidates are equally qualified. We do wholeheartedly endorse David Reed Grissom for mayor of Russellville.

Mr. Grissom has promised to work with other leaders in Russellville and the Shoals in order to promote his hometown and create much needed jobs. The constant bickering that now goes on in Franklin's county seat is nothing but a deterrent to progress.

Vote David Reed Grissom on August 28th.


We've had several inquiries about the local weather forecast for tomorrow. We predict the storms will be centered over Lauderdale; we'll even go on record to predict they'll start on South Court Street in the late morning or early afternoon. Stay tuned for updates.


Pen-N-Sword has published a statement from the attorneys of Franklin Pharmacy:


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Jay Parker Dies

John G. Parker was born in Tuscaloosa in 1925. As a child, he moved to Florence, later attending Coffee High School and playing in the band with Sam Phillips. As adults, both men moved to Memphis where Phillips founded his iconic Sun Records label and Parker began work as an artist. In the early 1950s, Parker's mainstay was advertising work and it gave him a chance to create history in 1952.

The two friends from Florence met by chance one day at a Memphis Krystal where Sam told Jay of his new business and asked if he could create a logo. Jay had never created a logo for a record label, but offered to give it a shot. He sold the now famous sun and rooster icon to Phillips for $50.00.

Like Sam, Jay went on to create a name for himself in his chosen field and was known not only for his commercial work, but also as an accomplished water colorist. Among his other iconic commercial works were logos for Alka-Seltzer and Super Bubble Gum. Jay passed away in Memphis on July 30th at the age of 87. Besides his wife and two children, Jay is survived by his brother Floyd "Rusty" Parker of Florence.

Special Thanks to one of our readers for making us aware of this.

It's a nice quiet weekend, almost like a calm before a storm. Perhaps one is coming to the area on Monday?


Friday, August 10, 2012

Franklin Pharmacy?/Melissa Beasley E-Mails?

Initial reports from the FBI on Wednesday identified one of two raided Franklin County pharmacies as Franklin County Pharmacy. Within two hours, the press release had been changed to Franklin Health-Mart Pharmacy. Today a spokesman from Franklin Pharmacy has addressed charges of insurance fraud; we now infer this to be the correct name of the third business raided.

Timothy A. Aaron, owner of Franklin Pharmacy, has previously worked at Sheffield Pharmacy (one of the other two raided) and the Drug Shop in Russellville. He's now listed as licensed in Franklin County only. According to their ads, the pharmacy specializes in a product dubbed Optimal Pain Control, or OPC. Established in 2010, the business operates from a steel frame building just off Hwy. 43 north of downtown Russellville.

The drug store is listed as an LLC; however, it appears to be operating under an umbrella corporation. The pharmacy's principal income is produced via sales of OPC. One source reported to us that its gross receipts from this pain formula last year were 250K. A few other sources that we could not verify have placed the figure much, much higher. Apparently the majority of this revenue is generated through online sales.

One reader reported Russellville Pharmacy still closed this morning, while a second reported it was open at some point. Hopefully any problems with accounting won't affect the day to day operation of these businesses. Employees, including associate pharmacists, have no control over the business practices of their employers. There are reportedly over 300 employees of these three pharmacies, all we assume doing the jobs for which they were hired. Let's remember that.

Want to know more about topical pain creams? Here's part one of Pen-N-Sword's informative report:


WAAY has reported Capt. Melissa Beasley has been demoted to sergeant following an incident at the July 19th Jerry Ivy murder investigation. The Huntsville station is also reporting that retired Florence police officer Pete Williford has accused Beasley of alcohol impairment, sending various news organizations accounts of her behavior at the East Florence scene.

Did we receive one of his e-mails? Several have asked that question of us, so we did feel the need to address it. The only information we have received concerning the investigation came from a member of the Ivy family. If Mr. Williford would like to write a guest commentary on the issue, we will be glad to publish it.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Pharmacy Musical Chairs?/Detective Demoted?

We reported yesterday on FBI raids of three local compounding pharmacies. The FBI has remained mum on further details regarding their investigation; however, locals have had plenty to say. An employee of one of the pharmacies has gone on record as saying the investigation stems from Medicare and Medicaid billing of these compounded specialty drugs. Such drugs don't fall under the standard categories of billing limits for "x" number of pills per month, etc. It's relatively unknown territory in many geographic areas, and reportedly authorities are using these three pharmacies as a test case.

Why a raid? The three pharmacies are said to be cooperating with all government entities, so we've been asked why the necessity of a high profile raid? We can only surmise this may have been to ascertain if there were two sets of books at each business. We would doubt this was the case here, but it has been known to occur in some larger businesses.

Compounding is now a big business. The art was lost in many areas after the advent of big drug companies and standard dosing for almost all meds. The 1990s saw a resurgence in this area, and our sources say Franklin County is one of the leaders in this area with at least one pharmacy making the majority of its sales through a compounded topical pain cream. This has also led to new pharmacies being established and name changes.

Health-Mart is a national chain, much like the old Rexall Company. Online sources list Carrie DeArman as the owner of the Franklin Health-Mart Pharmacy. Ms. DeArman has contacted us stating that she is in no way connected with this company. If you own any local company, we would suggest you research which online sources list your business and if the info is correct. There are approximately a dozen such sites now active listing ownership and posting business reviews, with Manta being one of the largest.

Another reader asked how Rodney Logan could own Sheffield Pharmacy, established in 1949, when he wasn't even born at that time. Many pharmacies change owners over the years, but retain the name in order to benefit from the reputation of the previous owner. Milner Drugs is a prime example of this, having been established in the late 1800s, but still active under the name Milner-Rushing.

As we blogged yesterday, Russellville and Sheffield Pharmacies are listed online as having the same owner. The TimesDaily reported this morning that Franklin Health-Mart Pharmacy is also connected via ownership. Unless these businesses are incorporated in some manner, their owner/s are not listed on official state sites.

We understand Pen-N-Sword is preparing an article on drug compounding, and we'll link it as soon as it's available. We'll also post any updates here as soon as we receive them.

Update: The initial FBI news release listed Franklin County Pharmacy as one of those raided. There is no Franklin County Pharmacy. There is a Franklin Health-Mart Pharmacy that the TimesDaily states is connected to the other two raided. According to sources close to the DeArman family, the couple are now divorced, Carrie DeArman owns only Hometown Health-Mart Pharmacy. We're happy to note this and have requested that she report any additional info to us.


We've been contacted by an individual familiar with the Jerry Ivy murder investigation who has stated the detective who performed the initial on site investigation of Mr. Ivy's death has now been demoted. We have had no official confirmation of that; however, Florence Chief Tyler has promised to make a statement as soon as the investigation is complete.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

FBI Raids Three Compounding Pharmacies

Update: The initial FBI news release listed Franklin County Pharmacy as one of those raided. There is no Franklin County Pharmacy. There is a Franklin Health-Mart Pharmacy that the TimesDaily states is connected to the other two raided. According to sources close to the DeArman family, the couple are now divorced, Carrie DeArman owns only Hometown Health-Mart Pharmacy. We're happy to note this and have requested that she report any additional info to us.

How do local pharmacies make a buck in a Walmart world? Many have become compounding pharmacies. If you aren't familiar with compounding, here's a crash course from Wiki:

Compounding (also pharmaceutical compounding and compounding pharmacy) is the creation of a particular pharmaceutical product to fit the unique needs of a patient. To do this, Compounding Pharmacists combine and/or process appropriate ingredient(s) utilizing various tools. This may be done for medically necessary reasons, such as to change the form of the medication from a solid pill to a liquid, to avoid a non-essential ingredient that the patient is allergic to, or to obtain the exact dose needed. It may also be done for voluntary reasons, such as adding favorite flavors to a medication.

What do Franklin Health Mart and Russellville Pharmacies in Russellville and Sheffield Pharmacy in Sheffield all have in common? The three are compounding pharmacies. The Franklin County area is currently considered a big money market in the topical pain cream market.

Russellville and Sheffield Pharmacies reportedly have the same owner, Rodney Logan; however, Sheffield Pharmacy has been in business since 1949. It's unknown if these two pharmacies also sell the topical pain relief or if they are in any way connected to Franklin Health-Mart Pharmacy whose reported owners are Carrie Dearman and Mark Dearman.

Whatever the connection, FBI agents raided the three local pharmacies this morning, escorted employees from the premises, and began inventorying drug stock. Look for an update tomorrow.

Editor's Note: This is a breaking story. Early reports from the Birmingham office of the FBI listed an incorrect store name in Franklin County. This has been revised. As authorities release new information, we will attempt to update this site also.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Update on Two Lauderdale Circuit Judges

A reader answers the guest commentary on Lauderdale Circuit Court Judge Billy Jackson (pictured):

This entry is very unfair and one sided. How can anyone call this father a “deadbeat dad” when over the past five years he faithfully paid the court ordered alimony and child support? In addition to monthly alimony and child support payments, the Dad paid more than a quarter million dollars through annual installments to the ex-wife over the five year period.

The ex-wife had five years to prepare to move out of a home she did not (nor did she ever) own. She has a four year college degree and does not work. For five years the ex-wife knew the date when she had to leave the home and when the time came she went back to court to fight it. Why was she surprised to be evicted? With all the money received, the ex-wife should have funds to purchase her own home. Stalked and abused?! Considering the other mistruths these statements must also be questioned. The ex-wife chooses to play the victim and pretend she has been wronged. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Keep in mind, Judge Jackson did not preside over the original divorce case. He is simply enforcing the judgment put into place over five years ago. It would have been nice if the court had provided more notice prior to the scheduled eviction but, under the circumstances, the eviction order had to be expected. And understand the ex-wife was not actually evicted. She moved out after getting the eviction notice. The rumor mill says the children (all over the age of eighteen) were not forced to leave the home but decided to go with their mother.

It is not clear whether the Dad is able get life insurance. Judge Sandlin granted the ex-wife alimony (tax free) for the rest of her life. The ex-wife asked the court to guarantee this by having the Dad pay for a substantial life insurance policy but the court never considered the Dad may not be insurable. It is rumored the Dad has no solely owned assets to offer as collateral to guarantee the alimony payments. Sometimes, a person is not compliant with the court through no fault of their own.

The ex-wife received custody of the children along with child support, a generous tax free alimony for life, use of a beautiful home for five years, plus annual payments totaling more than $250K. In what way did the court not treat the ex-wife favorably? It is galling to see the ex-wife state she was mistreated by the court and has the audacity to spread malicious mistruths about the very people who ensure her welfare! Readers should consider the expense and frustration suffered by the Dad over the past five years. Consider he has to pay this ungrateful woman for the rest of his life and beyond! He deserves better than the treatment received in this entry. As do the Judges referenced.

Editor's Note: The fact that the three children all chose to remove themselves from the home at the same time as the mother speaks volumes.


Lauderdale County Circuit Judge Gil Self, a defendant in a civil rights suit initiated by Mark Davis, has recused himself from from Davis' custody case in answer to a motion from early in July.


Monday, August 6, 2012

Murder by Family Feud: The Death of Jerry Ivy

Raymond Junior Clemmons

A long-time friend and reader has provided a detailed account of the feud that culminated with the death of Jerry Lewis Ivy on July 19th. Due to the extremely personal nature of much of this story, we are editing many of the details.

Jerry Lewis Ivy died on July 19th at the hands of his first cousin Raymond Junior Clemmons. The mothers of the two men are sisters, and the months of violence that culminated in Ivy's death have taken a toll on all family members.

(We have deleted a large portion of this account at the request of Florence CID. This concerns an ongoing investigation and we are happy to remove the portions concerning details of the murder.)

Standing 6' 4" tall and weighing 230 pounds, the 42 year-old Clemmons is an imposing man with a reputation to match. He remains incarcerated in the Florence Detention Center awaiting a grand jury indictment.


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Letters to Judge/Parole Board Count for Much

The past few days we've discussed bail, grand jury indictments, and plea bargains. Now we come to a part of the judicial system where almost any citizen can have their say. Those accused who don't accept pleas, automatically go to trial. If found guilty, the judge will order sentencing at a later date. Just as with bail, there are set sentence ranges for each crime, and a judge may be asked to consider probation for the offender.

In any crime, no matter how large or how small, the victim and his/her family are not the only ones hurt. Friends, employers, co-workers, neighbors, etc., are all impacted when one becomes a crime victim. Some crimes are so heinous that whole communities are affected. Judges take letters from the public seriously. We encourage everyone who is concerned with crime in our area to write the Circuit Court judges who are deliberating the sentences of those convicted. Obviously, some letters will carry more weight than others, but this is the public's chance to have input into our judicial system. Let's be sure to take it.


Once convicted and sentenced, the offender is quickly assimilated into the state prison system. Due to tremendous overcrowding in Alabama prisons, early release comes soon for many. Most are released via the state parole system, and this is a second area where your letters count.

As D.K. says, we may not be here in 30 or so years when an offender comes up for parole, but our letters can be. As soon as the offender is issued an AIS number, everyone who has concerns about his/her crime should write the parole board. These letters stay in the offender's file permanently. If you don't give voice to your fears concerning certain offenders, don't complain when you see them on the local streets in only a few months.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Why a Grand Jury & Why a Plea Agreement?

In the 21st Century, grand juries are unique to the United States, and only about half the states employ them in their judicial system. In Alabama, the prevailing theory is to let a grand jury make the decision of who is indicted and for what. It may be an old system, but it does provide some checks and balances for criminal prosecution.

One reader was particularly concerned with the Jerry Ivy murder. It will be up to a grand jury to decide if shooter Junior Clemmons is indicted for Capital or Felony Murder. Since Ivy was in a vehicle when he was shot, it would seem that this case qualifies as a capital crime.

Another reader was also concerned about plea agreements. We've been astounded at some pleas offered in the Shoals area, but in many cases, they are a prudent choice. If a member of your family is killed, you want to see the perpetrator punished. If a case goes to jury trial, the defendant may walk. It comes down to taking a chance on the killer going free or agreeing to a sure 25 year sentence with no chance of parole.

Currently, Junior Clemmons remains incarcerated in the Florence Detention Center. One of our readers who knew both Clemmons and his victim is preparing some information for us, and we'll  publish it as soon as possible.


Pen-N-Sword has published a bio of former youth minister Oliver Brazelle. He's truly a man of many accomplishments, and it's sad that his legacy has been marred by these accusations. It's even more sad that the lives of several young Sheffield men may have been horribly hurt by someone they and their families trusted.


Friday, August 3, 2012

He's In the Jailhouse Now: Bail

Several readers have asked us how they can ensure those charged with crimes receive the punishment they deserve. In the judicial reality of Alabama, that's an almost impossible task. The first issue some readers have is with bail. Comments usually mention Franklin County where the accused is often stated to be held without bond.

Crimes usually come with a standard bail; in other words not much leeway is given, but in some cases the availability and amount are determined by the judge. The smaller the county and its judicial system, the slower the process may be. It's not that those who commit crimes in Franklin County aren't given the chance to bond out--they just have to wait longer to appear before a judge.

Andrew Daniel Scott July 24th Arrest Photo

Interestingly, just as we began to write this article, we received several e-mails informing us that Andrew Scott was back in jail. For this latest go-round, he is accused of three counts of theft, two counts of forgery, and one count of burglary. Scott has two standard bonds totalling 6K, but remains in the detention center--a fact we found surprising. 

We contacted our source at the courthouse who told us Judge Gil Self has a hold on Hottie Scottie. One of our legal eagle friends then added that Judge Self will probably revoke Scott's previous bond if he should be bailed out on these six new charges. In other words, paying over six hundred dollars for a bail bondsman to spring the Killen resident would be for nought.

A very wise friend of the elder Mr. Scott commented: I hope Roger will wake up and see that the boy needs help, and to continually make excuses for bad behavior invites more bad behavior.

Andrew Scott's May arrests on two previous charges (theft/burglary) have not yet come to trial; therefore, he has no previous convictions (his February 2010 drug charges were adjudicated using youthful offender status). In other words, the six most recent charges will also be considered first offenses. We'll be following his day in we hope mandates drug rehab.

Related post: Update on Andrew Scott

Tomorrow: Who has a say in plea agreements?


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Not All Unhappy to See Smokehouse Go

Smokehouse Employee (Passed Out?) on Pool Table

Apparently not everyone was unhappy to see the longtime Shoals pool hall closed. From a regular reader:

I live approximately one block from the now closed Smokehouse Billiards, aka the pool hall. The traffic since Brindley's closed was unbearable and the people who visited the business were not exactly law abiding folk, at least at night.

I'm sending you a photo of (name censored by editor). He worked there until about a month before the business closed. Right now he's in jail for burglarizing cars of patrons at the downtown business. Maybe it's true that it starts with a "P" which rhymes with "T" which stands for "Trouble."


We've had some questions about the Jerry Ivy murder. Tomorrow we'll address how the public can have input into any case, including that of Junior Clemmons (Ivy's admitted murderer), the young car thief passed out in today's picture, or any other defendant in any Alabama county.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Pen? Sword? Pen-N-Sword!

Yesterday we spotlighted The Quad-Cities Daily. Their coverage of the possible sex abuse case in Sheffield has been outstanding. Some readers questioned why no link to the The Connection's new persona, Pen N Sword. Our other Shoals investigative magazine had been offline for a week while installing new software that's more easily updated and user-friendly. We're happy to announce it's now back online, although still tweaking some components in an effort to better serve their readers.

Here's the link, and look for some hard-hitting stories on local government and animal abuse:


It's still a few days until the start of school in the Shoals. Looking for an inexpensive treat for your older children? Something that's not only fun, but provides a much needed service to the area?

May we suggest an afternoon of volunteering at the Florence Animal Shelter? Dress casually and be prepared to bathe, groom, and walk the dogs. We have a feeling they'll even let you cuddle the cats. You don't have to foster or adopt in order to be of service to our animal community. Our shelter is full as of right now, and anything you can do to help the animals find their forever homes will not only be appreciated by the shelter staff, it should also bring you some wet slurpy kisses. What more could you want on a hot day?

Call: 256-760-6676 to set up a time.