Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Dewey Mitchell's Ethics Questioned

From a Republican press release:

Judge Dewey Mitchell’s decision to “retire from his elected position as Probate Judge and Chairman of the Lauderdale County Commission. Mitchell was elected to the position of Probate Judge, which also serves as Chairman of the Commission, in 2006 for a full six year term. He is currently the Democratic candidate for the newly created part time position of Commission Chairman and announced his “retirement” effective Wednesday, October 31.

“This decision is a perfect example of a politician making a decision based on what is best for them personally instead of what is best for the voters who elected them,” said Bill Armistead, Chairman of the Alabama Republican Party. “Dewey Mitchell ran to serve a six year term and now is stepping aside two weeks early – and all while seeking election for the same job he is retiring from today. While this move will increase Dewey Mitchell’s retirement pay, it leaves voters without a Probate Judge going into a historic election that promises record turnouts. This raises real questions about Dewey Mitchell’s ethics and commitment to the people of Lauderdale County.”

Dewey Mitchell has served for 18 years as Probate Judge in Lauderdale County, a position that pays him about $117,001 per year and also requires him to preside as Chairman over the County Commission. In 2010 the Legislature separated those two jobs, creating a lower paid part time position for Chairman of the County Commission and a full time Probate Judge position.

“Lauderdale County voters need to go ahead and retire Dewey Mitchell for good,” said Armistead.  “Eighteen years is long enough and it is time for new, conservative Republican leadership that can bring new jobs, cut wasteful spending and finally stop the good old boy politics that puts money into Dewey’s pockets and gets voters nothing in return.”


We hope everyone will be safe tonight. A Happy Celtic New Year to everyone!


Shoalanda Says Boo!little animated ghost Pictures, Images and Photos

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

How "Juvenile"/Tetter Welch Arrested

The two youths arrested for the savage beating of a Leighton youth have received "juvenile" status. The TimesDaily is therefore not releasing their names. Pen-N-Sword has previously identified the former fugitives as Demetrius Hampton and David Hill. It's our opinion that anyone old enough to intentionally shoot, stab, or otherwise attack an individual--then either run from police or lie about the crime--is old enough to be treated and tried as an adult.

Related content: Leighton Assault


 Tetter Welch's New Tattoo

Tanisha Tetter Welch, first-cousin of Ronald Weems, failed to appear at her hearing on harassment charges last week. She was reportedly arrested at work today on additional charges and taken to the Tuscumbia City Jail where female prisoners are held.

Related post: Tetter and Ron



Monday, October 29, 2012

Ronald Weems Baptism on Video/Correction

The baptism of Ronald Eugene Weems, aka Ron Wikkid, continues to cause controversy. One family member even videoed the ceremony and downloaded it to Facebook. Here's a still from the baptism:

According to WHNT, even Colbert County Sheriff Ronnie May was unaware of the off-premises baptism and has banned the "missionary" who orchestrated the affair. For those who have asked, obviously Weems was unshackled during the baptism and also while he mingled with family afterwards. If reports are correct that there was only one deputy present, it would have been quite a security breach.


D.K. has informed us we were in error stating Tony Woods was not indicted for Capital Murder. Woods was indicted for this charge, but a jury convicted him only of Felony Murder. Again this shows how many steps are involved in bringing justice for a victim or family.



Sunday, October 28, 2012

The TimesDaily: Journalism Ain't What It Used To Be

If you're old enough, you can remember when the TimesDaily was a locally owned newspaper. Extended coverage was usually given to murder trials; an article covering a day's proceedings could take up half the front page and testimony was published verbatim. Things change and so has our local rag's coverage of almost everything, including murder trials.

D.K. has often commented that the casual reader is not informed of much that goes on in the court room. Whether this is for purposes of controlling article length or other reasons, we don't know. We do know that for many years, Dennis Sherer covered murder trials in the Shoals. His tenure as the legal correspondent ended last July, and Hannah Mask is now in charge of memorializing murder for the masses. So, how's she doing?

From D.K.:

After the sentencing in the Tammy Woods case, the new Times Daily reporter Hannah Mask wrote this at the end of her story:

"Tony Woods spoke quietly with Donnie Cottingham, away from the crowd, after the sentencing. "I told him we didn't have any hard feelings toward his family, and he felt the same," Cottingham said "I told him I'd pray for him, and he said he'd prey for me."

We were at the sentencing and with the family until they carried Tony Woods out of the court room, we never saw any such between Donnie Cottingham and Tony Woods, and the Tammie Woods family has said that never happened !

A misprint or mistake is one thing, as Hannah saying Jeff Woods was Tony Wood's dad, he is really Tony's brother. But adding words that were not spoken or heard is so wrong !

I for one would like to trust what is put in print, but when things as this  to is put into our TD,  it's hard to trust what the truth maybe when we not are there.

As I said Hannah is new, her first trial, she replaced Dennis Sherer. Many of the victim's family had noticed how she slanted her stories in what they thought to favor the defendant, his picture on front page each day, until the day of the conviction and then on back page in small print. Not one picture of the victim that whole time. I only wish Hannah the best and hope she learns what and how to report in these type stories when emotions are on edge. 

"Justice For All--Even The Victims"


While on the subject of the Tony Woods' trial, we'll add we're surprised Woods wasn't indicted for Capital Murder. He fired into a retreating vehicle and struck his estranged wife. If Junior Clemmons is guilty of Capital Murder (he has so far only been indicted), then why wasn't Tony Woods?

Yes, justice in the Shoals, or perhaps anywhere, would seem to be a crap shoot. Grand juries, supportive or non-supportive families, district attorneys, trial juries, and judges all play their role in the final outcome. Yet it's our belief that if the citizens don't demand justice, they will rarely see it meted out. More tomorrow...



Saturday, October 27, 2012

Ron Wikkid Weems: A Controversial Baptism

...they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.

When we first began our blog slightly over four years ago, we did not consider the possibility of writing on the act of baptism. Yet here we are, addressing a subject that has caused some diverse opinions--all because of one controversial convert, Ron Wikkid Weems.

As far as we know, it's always been the practice to allow any prisoner who so wishes to be baptized. Last Tuesday, Ronald Eugene Weems and an unknown number of inmates from the Colbert County Jail were taken to a church building where they were baptized in some manner. We say in some manner since we don't know what they proclaimed or professed before the act. The building pictured is obviously not home to the more conservative among our local believers--note drum set to the right. That does not mean the baptisms themselves were carried out by members of this particular religious group.

Some have compared the trek to the church building to a field trip. Others have objected that it allowed Weems to spend approximately one hour in a serene setting with two of his children and other family members. Still others have questioned the sincerity of Weems, accused of killing Amanda Taylor and dismembering her body. One of our contacts has informed us that Assistant Colbert County District Attorney Kyle Brown was unaware that Weems was in the group that had requested to be baptized. Was there special security?

One of our readers even questioned how many in this group had been baptized before, but chose to again "put on Christ" in order to escape the tedium of incarceration for a few hours. Some readers of the Baptist faith felt there was no need for the baptism since in their faith it is unnecessary for salvation.

We cannot and will not judge Weems' sincerity in this matter. While we do not personally like Ron Wikkid, we do not begrudge him the opportunity to change his life. We do hope that the vast majority of his future life is spent in a maximum security prison setting. There Weems will have ample time to reflect on his past crimes, sins if you will. We also regret the district attorney's office was not able to charge Weems with a second crime related to Amanda's death in order to try him for Capital Murder. It will be up to the public, those who want justice for Amanda and her family, to make sure Weems is not granted parole.

In the "It's just the thought of it" department, we note that Weems is sitting on what is commonly called the Lord's Table, the article of furniture were communion is placed before being served to the congregation. We have to wonder if this image will come to the minds of congregants as they take the Lord's Supper...


We've just read the latest TimesDaily update on the firing of Sheffield Police Chief Greg Ray. It was a sobering article...up to a point. Then it became hilarious. We're sure our readers with good memories and a strong sense of irony will similarly be amused.



Friday, October 26, 2012

Bubba on John Barleycorn

When my pappy caught me with his stash of Playboys, I told him the truth...I was readin' the articles. So today I can truthfully tell all y'all that I just love to read the Quad-Cities Daily for all them fine articles Steve and Sheri Wiggins write and Mary Carton too. The mug shots have absolutely nothin' to do with me visitin' the site everday. Course, I do look at 'em while I'm there, and that got me to thinkin'.

There was one young man there, not much older than my Bubba III, who was charged with bein' a minor in possession of alcohol, ol' John Barleycorn as my pappy used to say. Actually most of 'em there were in the hoosegow because of drinkin', but this one young fella really stood out. If he coulda just waited two days and a few hours, he woulda been legal. Instead, for his 21st birthday he got his picture splashed all over the Shoals and all the way down to Dog Ear. I just gotta ask if it was worth it?

Seems most of the alcohol arrests are in Shurfield. Last time I looked they even got 'em one of them Eyetalian movie stars. So my advice to everone is not to drink, but if you hafta drink, don't drive in Shurfield.

Bubba Leroy Smuckpucker II
Dog Ear, Alabama

Editor's note: We currently have two submissions for Bubba's new profile picture. We'll wait until November 1st to select the one we feel best represents our correspondent from Dog Ear; send your entries to


Update on Lance Martin attack: Link


Lance's family has contacted both us and Pen-N-Sword concerning the hunt for Lance's attackers. They have been particularly disappointed in lack of coverage by the TimesDaily. We have no way of knowing how the TD prioritizes its daily news articles, but we do know much news never reaches its pages. The days of a single news source are over. We can assure readers that we, Pen-N-Sword, and the Quad-Cities Daily are happy to receive your input and news articles. In return we ask that you publicize us as much as possible. Many thanks.



Thursday, October 25, 2012

Some Prank, Some Grammar, Some People

Some Prank: An October 15th posting on Craig's List has offered a young man for sale for $1,200.00. Obviously this is a prank since anyone who has ever had any contact with boys of this age know their worth rarely approaches $12.00--unless you need lessons in video games.

According to a local woman on Facebook, "This was Kids fooling around and it was accidently posted.I know this child well and his Mother is Very, Very upset att this posting. This child is very loved and taken care of!"


Some Grammar: The TimesDaily has an interesting poll today, or should we say one of the answers is very telling.


Some People: Apparently Demetrius Hampton and David Hill are still wanted for a serious physical assault that took place in Leighton on Monday afternoon. Pen-N-Sword has the story:



Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Charles Moore/A Preview

Tuscumbia resident Charles Moore was the owner of J&M Cycles on Cox Boulevard in Sheffield. At the time of his arrest in December 2009, he had approximately forty dollars in his business  account. Moore was so far behind on his rent that the building's owners had threatened him with eviction.

Promising to bring his account up to date, Moore allegedly visited owners Bailey and Betty Nichols at their Hatton home where he murdered the couple. While robbery wasn't a primary motive, some documents pertaining to Moore's lease were later found in his possession. The now 64 year-old Sheffield businessman has denied any involvement in the murders and is currently being held without bond in Lawrence County on two counts of Capital Murder.

From D.K.:

A Pre-trial in Lawrence County - The Capital Murder Case of  Betty and Bailey Nichols who were murdered over 2 years 8 months ago at their Highway 157 home in the Hatton area was set for Sept. 10. A Defense Attorney asked to be excused because of some type of witness in the case. The judge had no choice but to appoint another Defense Attorney since Capital Murder cases have to have two Attorneys.  Charles Moore from Colbert is the defendant in this case. As I understand it at the time of the pre-trial hearing, Mr. Moore had been caught with contraband after his cell had been  searched. So now a very disappointing delay in the Justice System for the Nichols family. Please keep these wonderful people in your thoughts and prayers.

"Justice For All--Even The Victims"

We'll have some other extremely interesting reports from D.K. later in the week.


Besides D.K.'s upcoming stories on crime and crime reporting in the Shoals, we have Bubba lined up to report on "Drinkin' & Drivin' in Shurfield" and a most intriguing tale of a mysterious attack on a family dog...or was it mysterious at all?



Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Belle Foods: Competition for Publix?

Many Shoals residents can't wait for Publix to open its doors to the promised land of fresh and exotic groceries, but newcomer Belle Foods is determined to make a dent in their market. Between Halloween and Thanksgiving, three local markets will be rebranded Belle Foods. Belle purchased the parent company of Bruno's, Southern Market, Food World, and Piggly Wiggly (select franchises).

Expect to see Florence and Muscle Shoals Food Worlds not only turn purple and green, Belle's trademark colors, but to completely overhaul the limited selections the chain had come to be known for the past few years. Some Belle stores even furnish a staffed nursery where mothers can drop their little ones while they shop; no word yet on the availability of that option in the Shoals. We hope Belle Foods lives up to its press--certainly many of us don't look forward to a weekly trek onto the parkway and its ubiquitous traffic signals just to purchase groceries.


Two sets of rumors, but no one seems to know even who's on first. There are apparently no plans for Halloween festivities at the Weeden Home this year. We will revert to calling Sweetwater Plantation, or what's left of it, by its common name since owner Susan Leigh Smithson has completely disbanded the committee that had been in charge of these events for the past two years. Readers have asked if there are pending lawsuits. While there may be, we have found no record of any filed in Lauderdale County. If any readers have updates, please send them our way.

A second set of questions concerns the shooting of Jesse Rainey at Crooked Oak. We're sure rumors abound for many reasons; it seems no two news sources are reporting the same facts in the case. Even the number of youths present (8 or 9) at the unsupervised house party is in question. We have a contact in the Colbert County Sheriff's office and will post an update as soon as we can verify some of the information we've received.



Monday, October 22, 2012

Let's Bring Back Florence Wagon Works

...and while we're at it, let's bring back all the video stores, one-hour photo developing shops, and typewriter repair businesses. Why, you ask. After all there's no market for these businesses any longer.

Of course, but we have hope the Democrats can correct that. Since we didn't express that eloquently enough, here's a comment on Facebook concerning the upcoming election:

Obama wants is to take this country back to the way it once was, when we had manufacturing in this country and pensions and good wages, and every one prospered business and workers, and you people are hell bent on giving it away even further.

No, gentle readers, once a business is no longer needed, it goes the way of the flesh; it dies. Twenty years ago, the Internet was just a small, somewhat organized tangle of bulletin boards. Now look. Twenty years ago we wouldn't have been here. Thoreau said for everything you gain, you lose something. How many of you want to go back to typing on that trusty IBM Selectric and mailing your missives? Didn't think so.

Instead of lamenting over what's lost forever, let's move forward. You (that means you Sally, Sue, Jim, and Joe) have more opportunities than at any time in history. Don't look back too much or you'll miss your future.


A reader recently commented on cock fighting, and we asked him if he thought Jesus would attend such a match. After re-reading our blog later, we had to ask ourselves if Jesus would have called anyone "White Trash?" We came to the conclusion that He wouldn't have.

People who abuse animals are misguided at best. We're not sure what kind of help these people need, but name-calling isn't it. Let's all work to make laws against animal cruelty stronger. 



Sunday, October 21, 2012

Two Big Days:4/1500

We published our first blog four years ago today. Tomorrow will mark our 1500th post. Both milestones are causes for celebration.

We sincerely wish to thank D.K. who has been here since the beginning and Bailey Quarters who joined us more recently. Also many thanks to TBR and J. Redmon who contribute.



Saturday, October 20, 2012

It's That Time of Year...Time for a Ghost Walk!

Haunted History of the Shoals Ghost Walk

10th Annual Tour

October 19th thru October 31st

Wilson Park

Start: 7:30

$10.00 adults/$8.00 Children

See you there! Boo!

The following are questions from readers; some have been consolidated: 
1. Why was Beth Weir placed on leave? A teacher in the system has indicated it was because of a Facebook post. If this is correct, it would be the second instance of FB being the undoing of someone in the local education system. Unless you work for yourself, it's best not to comment online about your job.

2. What will happen to the young man who shot Jesse Rainey? The Colbert County District Attorney's office is seeking an indictment--whether for Manslaughter, Felony Murder, or something else we don't know. If the shooter is indicted, he will be given a chance to plead. His attorney will also obviously seek youthful offender status for his client. The case should be presented to the grand jury in December or January.



Friday, October 19, 2012

Justice Delayed in Franklin County?

The Franklin County trial of former Vina teacher Kimberly Bynum has been delayed for the fifth time; her new day in court is scheduled December 10th. The relative newness of the sex charge against Bynum may be behind the delays, but those affected by Bynum's case certainly wish for the proceedings to take place as quickly as possible. Similarly, the Felony Murder trial of Hershel Dale Graham, also in Franklin County, has been postponed for the fourth time. We're not sure who holds the record for the longest string of postponements--Tommy Arthur or Tre' Wells or someone else, but we hope Graham's attorneys don't come close to breaking the record.


We're glad that Grace Episcopal Church has had something of a reprieve; however, much of the garniture has been stripped and sold. The Quad-Cities Daily has an album of pictures taken just before the windows, mouldings, and pews were removed.


Apparently Navistar has had another blow to its well-being, albeit a small one. Pen N Sword has the latest Navistar updates, plus all Navistar articles archived for easy perusal.



Thursday, October 18, 2012

Polly & Nemo Aren't Animals/Insubordination?

Hide yo' kids...
Hide yo' husbands...
Hide yo' wives...
Hide yo' chickens...
Mark Dutton be abusin' erbody up in Moulton.

After all, humans don't have four legs or fur, so they, like Polly, Nemo, and the chickens out back must not be animals and are not entitled to protection from abuse. On a more serious note, could the Cumberland School of Law take back Mark Anthony Dutton's juris doctorate; or perhaps the Lawrence County Bar Association could eject him for giving attorneys a bad name? Yes, we know, the latter would be hard to do in some cases.

Or perhaps we should think more kindly of Dutton, aka Larson E. Pettifogger. After all, he probably realizes it won't be long until the five defendants in the infamous cockfighting trial will be in the dock for more serious charges. as well as their wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, or almost anyone who chooses to associate themselves with such white trash.


A historian speaks on cockfighting: Does cockfighting go back thousands of years? Yes, indeed it does. So does slavery, execution for petty theft, lack of suffrage for women and the poor, and of course throwing Christians to the lions. Do we practice any of those deviant or socially suspect behaviors today? No; however, I'm with Shoalanda on this one. Perhaps we could take those who abuse animals and throw them to the lions. Few thinking people would object. Leo and Una might need some Pepto Bismol and rabies vaccinations.


Florence Middle School teacher Beth Weir has been "found guilty" of dereliction of duty and insubordination, but she and the current incarnation of the school board would like us to know it's not anything to do with her teaching. Hmmm...dereliction of duty doesn't affect teaching? How interesting.

Just what did Ms. Weir not do? She's a math teacher, so we assume lesson plans don't change with current events. Did she forget to celebrate Blaise Pascal's birthday? Did she not show proper respect for the assistant principal, principal, school board, or superintendent? That could cover both charges and seems more than likely. Perhaps the next in service training day should include a mini course on how to genuflect.



Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Mark Dutton: Mentally Ill or Just Plain Cruel?

Mark Anthony Dutton is a 51 year-old attorney from Moulton. This small town is obviously not a gold mine for practicing lawyers, but Dutton seems to have hit a new low. According to Marky Mark, animal cruelty is legal as long as it's done on private property. Hmmm...the things we learn from those willing to make a buck anyway they can.

We haven't heard of any cock fighting matches at the Florence-Lauderdale Coliseum or Tom Braly Municipal Stadium, so we're guessing it's usually done on private property. Dutton may be feeling lucky since he just recently represented the family of an accident victim who sued local weatherman Gary Dobbs. It seems Dutton and his team repeatedly referred to Dobbs as a local celebrity. We think they meant Dobbs has celebrity; does that mean Mark A. Dutton now has notoriety?

No, Mr. Dutton, it's animal cruelty anywhere it takes place. Now if you really want to do the right thing, you'll donate your fee to the local animal shelter. So, how about it, Marky Mark? It's either that or a new fur coat for Melissa. The public is watching...


We've had several readers inquire why the Colbert County shooting of Jesse Rainey is going to be presented to a grand jury. We can assume the district attorney wants to dot every i before pressing any charges. Should he press charges? Since we don't know the basis of his decision to present the case to the grand jury, we can only defer to his legal expertise. It's an extremely sad situation for all families involved.

That being said, parents, do you know where your children are and what they're up to on weekends? It just might be a good idea if you did.

We recall a recent blog by our friend OB in which he stated that at 3:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning he, as a teenager, would have been in bed asleep--no choice involved whatsoever. It seems he had a very intelligent and loving mother, as did I. It's sad that not everyone did and does.


Saluting a great mother: Get well soon, Annie Walker Neidert!



Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Trials & Tribulations--We Got 'Em

The trial of Brandon Shane Mundy was scheduled to begin today in Lawrence County; however, the former North Courtland police officer has asked for a delay. The Circuit Court judge's ruling on the request should be made known sometime this morning. Mundy is charged in the 2010 traffic deaths of Gary and Sandra Cox.

Today also marks the start of the Jason Dewayne Green trial for Felony Murder in Franklin County. It's expected to last the entire week, if not longer. Green's defense will maintain his fiancee' Shay Ledlow shot herself. The State maintains that the evidence doesn't back up that claim.

In Colbert County, the trial of Tanisha Tetter Welch will begin this morning at 9:00 a.m. Welch, first cousin to accused murderer Ron Wikkid Weems, is accused of harassing a friend of victim Amanda Taylor's family.

Also in Colbert County, District Attorney Bryce Graham has announced he will present the shooting of Jesse Rainey to the next grand jury. If the shooter should be indicted, authorities will then decide if he will be tried as an adult. Rainey remains in critical condition in Birmingham. Whether the shooter is indicted or not, Rainey's family could, and probably will, sue the person or persons responsible for Jesse's condition. Patients with traumatic brain injuries have a long and expensive road to recovery. Here's hoping young Jesse's path will be swift and he can return home to his family in good health.

In Lauderdale County, Andrew Daniel Scott, aka Hottie Scottie, has again been released from jail. This last ten-day stint was the result of a "failure to obey" the conditions of his bond. We'll have info on his trial or plea bargain as soon as it's available.


Monday - October 22
Shoals Democratic Party Headquarters
1529 Broadway St - Sheffield
(between the Kia Dealership & McDonalds)
Begins at 7:30 p.m.
Bring finger foods to share
Public Invited
For additional information, call 256-978-5635 or 256-627-8530



Monday, October 15, 2012

Special Report: Helen Howard Has Passed

Helen Laurence Howard was a native of Florence, Alabama, the only child of Mr. and Mrs. Francis Howard. She is survived by her daughter Lauren Carroll and her son Jack Carroll.

She grew up on Wood Avenue in Florence, attending the Kilby School and graduating from Coffee High School.

Helen was a graduate of the University of North Alabama, studying theatre and journalism. While attending UNA she was active on the stage. She is a charter member of the Gamma Psi Chapter of the Alpha Gamma Delta Sorority, selected by a panel from International.

Growing up Helen developed an interest in the stage. She would joke that she was almost baptised in a theatre. First Presbyterian Church in Florence was being renovated at the time and was using the Alabama Theatre for services. Her mother made arrangements to have her baptised at another church.

She was active in the production of the play "The Miracle Worker" in Tuscumbia, Alabama at Ivy Green, Helen Keller's home. As a small child she wrote to Keller (and received a response), happily telling her that she was named Helen, too. Helen was at Ivy Green working on the play the night Helen Keller died. Helen started in the play in one of the children's roles, and after many years increased her participation, eventually directing the play for several years. During her tenure as director new sets were built and professional lighting was added. Once while she was directing she was asked to portray Keller's teacher Anne Sullivan in a segment on the television series "American Lifestyles". She last visited Ivy Green in 2011 to attend a production of "The Miracle Worker".

Helen also got her start in broadcasting in the Shoals, working at AM radio stations including WLAY and WBCF (the former WOWL). She started in television as an anchor on WOWL-TV. She later worked at WQLT-FM, a station owned by Sam Phillips of Sun Records fame. She loved to tell how Phillips called her "Little Lady".

She was also a competitive swimmer as a child. Growing up she would practice at a nearby hotel because they had a large pool. It was at this hotel where most of the artists stayed when they visited the Shoals to record. Helen met many of these musicians, and had plenty of stories to tell, from her and her school friends hanging out with the Osmonds during their free time when they were recording at FAME to being i
n the studio when Lynyrd Skynrd recorded the original demo version of "Free Bird".

Helen said she never intended to make broadcasting a career, with her interest being the stage, but a small job at WAAY-TV in Huntsville, Alabama changed her life's path. She was originally hired to work on a morning show, but one day they needed someone to fill in as an anchor. Though some at the station doubted she was ready, the show must go on and she did the job. She worked at WAAY-TV several years as a producer, anchor and reporter.

More career opportunities were presented to Helen and she followed the path upwards in broadcasting, working more and more behind the scenes as a producer and manager in many of the larger television markets. Helen possessed a quick wit and articulate speech that took her far, blazing trails in areas that were previously closed to women.

Eventually Helen arrived in Phoenix, Arizona, where she was destined to spend much of the rest of her life. During this time there were positive changes in Helen's life, in addition to continued career success. Helen became a mother of two children, of whom she was immensely proud after marrying Steve Carroll.

The oldest (sic) child is Lauren, a student a Duke University. It is tempting to say that Lauren is following in her mother's steps as a journalist, but that would be a simplification. Lauren is charting her own course as a print journalist, often working on complex investigative stories. She is Managing Editor at The Chronicle, the daily independent newspaper at Duke. Her work is also seen in regional and national news outlets.

Jack is a high school student. His interests lie in the area of music. He is already experienced in mixing and editing music. He inherits an artistic curiosity from his mother, sampling new music while still enjoying his favorites.

In addition to having a career and being a wife and mother Helen was involved in many community activities in Phoenix. She was a member of the Junior League, active with the Valley Youth Theatre and worked with the American Red Cross, earning a Clara Barton Medal.

Eventually Helen returned to Alabama, but for her friends here the few years she stayed was all too brief. Eventually she returned to Arizona, which was her adopted home, earlier this year, residing in Scottsdale. It was there where she became ill and was hospitalized. This illness claimed her li
fe this evening.

The above was written by Bryan Turner of Huntsville. I've personally known Helen for several years and counted her as a dear friend. At one time she had considered becoming part of our team. It's our loss that we never finalized the matter. The world is much worse for her absence. 

Bubba Has a Request

“None of us can help the things life has done to us. They’re done before you realize it, and once they’re done they make you do other things until at last everything comes between you and what you’d like to be, and you’ve lost your true self forever.” ― Eugene O'Neill, Long Day's Journey Into Night 

Many consider the above to be one of the most profound quotes in literature. It sprang to mind due to various situations some very fine people have found themselves in this past week. Does this mean we're given a free pass to do as we see fit? Obviously not, but before anyone cries unfit, insult, assault, or whatever particular "crime" they wish to accuse someone of, we suggest they look within themselves and ask what they did to precipitate those actions.


On the opposite side of the coin, we're constantly surprised at how many emails we receive defending a rapist/statutory rapist/hit-and-run driver/whatever. Those who communicate with us invariably state the offender isn't responsible because he/she was drunk. We have no doubt that most of those in these situations would not have committed the crime if they had not been under the influence of some mind altering drug, but they chose to drink/do drugs; they therefore must shoulder the blame for whatever crime they committed while under the influence.


Now for some lighter fare, our good friend Bubba Leroy Smuckpucker II gets fan mail. In fact, we think it may have just slightly gone to his head. He's stated he would like a photo to accompany his future blogs, but doesn't have one...or a digital camera (apparently the Dollar General in Dog Ear doesn't sell those new-fangled things). We're asking readers to send us a picture of Bubba. The photo can be one you've taken or one you've found online that isn't copyrighted. Send your vision of Bubba to: We'll debut Bubba's new logo when he next makes an appearance.



Sunday, October 14, 2012

Jesse Carl Rainey Still Critical

Jesse Carl Rainey

According to news reports, Jesse Carl Rainey remains in critical condition at Children's Hospital in Birmingham. The son of Regina Barfield Pencak, Jesse was one of eight 15 and 16 year-olds who were at an unsupervised house party near Tuscumbia Saturday morning around 3:30. According to WAFF, Jesse was hiding in a closet pretending to be an intruder when he opened the door and another youth shot him. News reports indicate several hand guns as well as long guns were in the home.

Jesse is the third youth this year to be injured at the home of a friend/schoolmate. The other two youths were killed. Autumn Wood and Dakota Holt are awaiting trial for Felony Murder in the deaths of Brooklyn Hollins and Dylan Milam, respectively.



Saturday, October 13, 2012

Jim Fisher Resigns--Florence Loses

We receive, on average, five comments/questions a day. Some days we receive a great deal more due to whatever topic makes the news. We certainly received several comments on the recent raise that the Florence School Board gave Dr. Janet Womack, superintendent.

Apparently board member Jim Fisher did also; he published his rationale for voting for the raise--on Facebook. We asked Jim if we could use his material, but it had been removed by the time we got around to it. Should he have posted it? We say yes. After all, would you rather a school board member, or any other elected official, simply say how he votes is none of your/our business?

We don't know the other Florence board members personally; however, it's difficult to imagine that any could care more about the system than our friend Jim. It's Florence's loss.



Friday, October 12, 2012

St. John's Episcopal Church

Our friend Mary Carton has written an excellent article on the historic St. John's Episcopal Church in Tuscumbia. The reclamation of this church building should be of concern to all of us who care about this area's past, no matter on which side of the deep and wide river we live.


The young man sat in Sunday School deep in thought. Finally he raised his hand and asked the priest, "Can one have the opportunity of salvation outside the Episcopal Church?"

The priest pursed his lips, hesitated, and then spoke slowly, "Yes, one could...but a gentleman wouldn't avail himself of it."


The Lauderdale County Commission vote on ambulance service bids will be on Monday, October 22nd, at 9:00 a.m. Our previous article had incorrectly stated the vote would be held on October 15th. All interested in this important issue are encouraged to attend.



Thursday, October 11, 2012

Do You Know What Your Name Is?

Do You Know What Your Name Is?

A Guest Commentary By

Bubba Leroy Smuckpucker II

I really love this Internet age since Miss Shoalanda has allowed me to say my piece and made me famous, but I guess not everone has been so lucky. Take my friend Billy Ray Collard. Billy Ray's grandpaw was also Billy Ray (God rest his soul). Then along came Billy Ray Jr and my best friend in school Billy Ray III.

Just about the time we graduated from Dog Ear Junior High, Billy Ray's grandpaw died. It was the biggest funeral Dog Ear Holiest of All Churches had ever seen. After a coupla years, Billy Ray Jr. decided to just drop the junior from his name since he figured his daddy wasn't comin' back. My pal Billy Ray graduated from Dog Ear High and made everbody proud by goin' to junior college. He took a course in weldin' and just moved on up from there.

Then Billy Ray made his mistake. He took his certificate in weldin' down to the pipefitters union hall and signed on. It seems the officers at the local were just good ol' boys and Billy Ray was afraid a moniker with a "III" after it wouldn't get him very far, so he registered as "Billy Ray Collard Jr."

The local sent him over to the nuclear plant in the next county where Blackheart Special Ops Construction (no job too small or too dirty) had a contract. Billy Ray didn't have no problem gettin' the job since the only bad thing on his record was pullin' the fire alarm in 7th grade. Boy we had fun that day lemme tell ya. Miss Nohalter the gym teacher was so scared she called up her girlfriend and proposed.

Well, Billy Ray just kept movin' up in the ranks of Blackheart until last week. It seems his daddy done somethin' pretty bad. I get mad just thinkin' about it, so we won't go into details, but lets just say I hope he goes away for a long time, him callin' himself a preacher on weekends and all. The arrest report just called him Billy Ray Collard, but when some news people looked into his credit records and all they discovered he was a junior and used that name in their stories.

Then Homeland Security over at the nuclear plant read the stories and put Billy Ray III on suspension. Looks like they woulda saw his age and picture didn't match, but I guess they thought better safe than let a good candidate for blackmail work there.

I hear he's got it all cleared up now, but it seems like a good lesson for all of us. Check out your online listings and get 'em corrected if they're wrong. I have and I didn't know there were so many ways "Smuckpucker" could be misspelled. I hope they don't hear about that down at the Dog Ear Rotary Club.



Wednesday, October 10, 2012

James O'Neal Wilson To Have No Bond

Florence resident James O'Neal Wilson has been denied bond in Lauderdale County today. What the eventual charges against Wilson will prove to be depend heavily on the toxicology report. Wilson has a history of drug abuse and DUIs plus convictions for theft.

If convicted, what kind of sentence could he expect? With his previous convictions, Wilson should face Life With Possibility of Parole--none of the previous charges involved violence. Will he be convicted? Witnesses have already testified that Wilson was driving the truck registered in his name. We're not going out on too long a limb to say the case against James O'Neal Wilson should be a slam dunk.


As we stated earlier in the week, many of our readers seem totally unaware that our blog is mainly editorial in nature. Just today we answered a reader:

You omitted the fact that we at Shoalanda always ask, even beg, for opposing viewpoints as long as they don't support violence or sexual abuse. We get very few who take us up on our invitation.

We make no secret of having Republican and conservative leanings. We also make no claim to being more than editorial in nature. We do often present news stories that are not covered in other media.

Please consider this an invitation to write something for us. We look forward to hearing from you soon...

BTW, the term "wonk" applies to anyone, student or not, who delves into the minutiae of a subject.

The above invitation is sincere. We welcome guest editorials. The individual to whom we addressed the above recently commented on two guest columns--one supporting widgets and one against. He apparently didn't like either blog. Do we like widgets? We have no opinion on them, but we were happy to publish the opinion of two of our readers. So have at it, faithful readers, send us your thoughts on widgets, family court, or mug shots. We'll publish them...


Some interesting news about our local Navistar plant: Layoffs



Tuesday, October 9, 2012

James O'Neal Wilson/Florence Ambulance

This is James O'Neal Wilson, a man with a criminal history dating back several years. Lest you think the above photo depicts Wilson in Halloween costume, this mug shot is from a June 2012 booking for Public Intoxication and Unlawful Possession of a Controlled Substance.

Monday evening at approximately 7:30, Wilson was driving on Hendrix Road when his truck left the road and struck a 13 year-old boy who was taking out the trash for his family. Tae Ingram died later that night at ECM Hospital.

The Lauderdale District Attorney's office has a hold on Wilson, so he won't be bonding out immediately. Let's hope the DA's office can find appropriate charges for this scum bag.


A Guest Commentary by Hank Thomas

Since the local news will not report to any degree on the City Council vote for a new ambulance service for the city of Florence, I feel a few  facts should be made public. First, the present ambulance service had only 1 complaint in 40,000 calls for service. This is an outstanding record for any type of business. Second, the present service held their prices to the current prices now being charged to the citizens of the city and the county. The bids to provide this service were equal on all aspects, according to representatives of the city and county with the exception of the pricing. The service company awarded the contract, pricing is almost twice as much as the present service provider. The bid laws of Alabama as i understand them, require government entities to consider all aspects of a bid and if all things are equal and all parties meet the specs of the bid proposal then the bidder with the lower price should get the bid.

I have not heard a reason for choosing the higher bid, and do not understand how the council can move forward considering my understanding of the Alabama bid law. This will be an added costs to someone already experiencing a life changing event simply by being in need of ambulance service.

The Lauderdale County Commission will vote on who to award the ambulance contract on Monday the 15th of October. This is a city and county service contract covering both areas of Lauderdale county. Please contact your commissioner and let him/her know your feelings on this matter. I feel sure some of the commissioners will take the position that with the city taking the action they did, then they must follow suit. I do not believe the commission has to vote as the city does, if so why have a commission, let the city make decisions for the county. In my opinion, the county can vote to take the lower bid and cause the bid process to be reopened to try and achieve the lowest cost for the citizens of Lauderdale county, while still receiving the best service possible.

Please do not take my letter as an endorsement of either bidder. I just believe the citizens of the city and county should ask their representatives to consider the cost to the citizens when all other aspects of a bid are equal and meet all specs. Your voice is important, let it be heard.



Monday, October 8, 2012

Kathleen Raskin on Lauderdale DHR

We recently received a comment from Kathleen Raskin on her battle with Lauderdale County DHR and Circuit Court. Here's a partial quote:

Since July 20, 2012, when I found myself Judge Billy "Rubber Stamp" Jackson's Kangaroo Court, we're built quite a network of hundreds of people who have the same story over and over and over. It's heartbreaking, and it MUST stop.

We have filmed for TV, and we will appear before a Senate Sub-Committee in January. We are collecting more and more information each and every day with the intent to bring every offender to Justice.

We'll have more as she prepares to testify. It should be interesting. Will it change our system in Lauderdale County and Alabama itself? Obviously no system is perfect, but our local family courts are the targets of constant criticism. Perhaps an overhaul is in order?


For the reader who asked, this from the Alabama Department of Public Safety Sex Offender site:

If the offender was convicted of an offense upon a child under the age of 12, he/she cannot loiter on or within 500 feet of a school, child care facility, playground, park, athletic field, or any other business having a principal purpose of caring for, educating, or entertaining minors.

The law is clear on this. It may be true that an 11 year-old victim had reached puberty, but that fact has no bearing on the law. We don't know what punishment a sex offender could expect for violating this provision. We also don't know why one would be foolish enough to do so.



Sunday, October 7, 2012

Who Will Stand Up For Alabamians?

It's nice to win awards. They make us feel good about ourselves and our work. They let others know we're special. Yet sometimes the awards we win say a great deal about us. We hear of frat boys winning drinking contests or of young women winning wet tee-shirt contests, and most of us don't think they've won anything of particular value. In fact, most of us probably think the winners should be ashamed to have participated in such a contest.

Today's TimesDaily lauded Scott Morris and Robert Palmer for a series of articles they wrote on, or perhaps we should say against, Alabama's HB156. It seems these two journalists have won the 2012 Carmage Wall Award. Who was Carmage Wall? We checked Wikipedia, and Mr. Wall so far has no entry in his name. Other sites tell us that Mr. Wall was a journalist whose career spanned seven decades; he fought for the rights of others--altogether a good thing as long as the rights of still others aren't trampled in the process.

The article didn't mention that along with the plaques honoring Morris and Palmer will come a thousand dollar prize. We imagine the two will split it 75/25...or perhaps the Wall family will be generous and offer each gentleman 1K.

But now we have to ask: Who will stand up for Alabamians? Who will put the needs of legal citizens first? We advocated dipping into the state's trust fund in order to keep Alabamians working. As long as such financial voodoo hoodoo is necessary in this state, we have no reason...or advocate for illegal immigrants.

We're happy to publish opposing views of anyone who doesn't think Alabamians should come first.



Saturday, October 6, 2012

An Endorsement/A Word, Please

We are proud to endorse Jeff Masterson for Russellville City Council District One. Jeff isn't afraid to question the status quo--something many politicians in Russellville cannot say. The Franklin County seat will have a new mayor next month, and we predict he and Jeff will make a great team. Help pull Russellville into the 20th Century (and as our friend Steve Wiggins says, no, that wasn't a typo.)


Every controversial or popular topic brings new readers to us here at Shoalanda. Often these readers don't know what we stand for, and with almost 1500 posts to our credit, they don't have time to go back through every one.

We do not report on the personal problems of any private citizens, unless it includes an arrest that Shoals residents need to know about or that person has thrust himself/herself into the news in some manner. We have reported on elected or appointed officials who use our tax dollars to give their cronies or girl/boyfriends a job.

Private businesspeople may do as they wish, and it's no one's business. We do not condone such behavior, but neither do we think it's our job to comment on it publicly. Similarly, elected officials may divorce, but they have not asked our advice, and we are not the keepers of their morals. We do advise each voter to research both the public and private lives of candidates before they mark their ballots.

Neither do we publish information on the arrest history of local individuals unless they commit a new crime.We hope no one judges the local politician or store owner on the basis of a 30 year-old drug arrest or the local attorney, author, or businessman on 10 or 20 year-old charges of tax fraud. These are not crimes of moral turpitude and we certainly don't judge anyone on the basis of such long past personal history. This obviously would not include convicted sex offenders who lobby for fewer restrictions or who flout the restrictions placed on them.

That being said, please feel free to send us questions concerning any matter on which we've commented. We will attempt to answer as soon as possible.



Friday, October 5, 2012

Another Term for Bill Shoemaker

A word from Tuscumbia Mayor Bill Shoemaker:

Run off is less than a month away!! October 9 is the big day! Around town, signs are being taken up and disappearing.... Which is not a good thing. Also, people have been saying "Oh Bill has nothing to worry 'bout"... If you hear people saying that, please tell them to go vote anyways.... The more votes the better! Thanks!

Mayor Shoemaker has the experience Tuscumbia needs. While we hope Fire Chief David Cole will continue to participate in city politics, we wholeheartedly endorse Mayor Shoemaker for another term.


For those who can't get enough mug shots, The Quad-Cities Daily has added Marshall County to their gallery. There's also not a better source for Sheffield News than QCD.


Pen N Sword has an informative article on accused child molester Freddie Hovater of Franklin County. PNS covers Lauderdale, Colbert, Franklin, Lawrence, and Limestone Counties, plus more. 



Thursday, October 4, 2012

Andrew Daniel Scott Returned to Custody

Our source at the Florence-Lauderdale Detention Center states Andrew Daniel Scott of Killen was returned to custody yesterday. The informant didn't know if this was a new arrest or a violation of the terms of his release approximately one week ago. We'll have more information on our favorite candidate for the Eddie Haskell Lifetime Achievement Award as it becomes available.

Related post: He's In The Jailhouse Now


From a Reader/Contributor:

There are several possibilities concerning this alleged rape:
1) It NEVER happened
2) It DID happen, but is being handled quietly/carefully due to possible evidence being acted up on slowly/carefully
3) It DID happen and UNA is covering it up, fearing a mass exodus of female students in the wake of a 'serial rapist on campus' announcement.

Our personal take is that something happened on campus, but it wasn't a rape. We do not believe the university would attempt to cover up something of that magnitude.



Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Ledlow Family Hopes for Justice This Month

The murder trial of Jason Dewayne Green is expected to begin October 15th in Franklin County. Green is charged with the shooting death of Shay Ledlow with whom he shared a home. Green initially told officers that Shay had committed suicide, but forensics failed to bear that out. He was free on 400K bail when he and his father were arrested for illegal activity at their salvage business.

His bond revoked, Green has remained incarcerated until recently when he was allowed to leave jail on house arrest. Shay Ledlow's family has been understandably upset by Green's release, and hope to see Green convicted for the murder. From Shay's cousin:

Since Green has no previous violent record, the strongest sentence that could be expected for Felony Murder would be Life With the Possibility of Parole. Green's attorney is Billy Underwood of Colbert County.

Related posts:

Shay Ledlow

Jason Green

The Democratic Party will host a presidential debate watch party on Wednesday, October 3 at 7:30 p.m. at party headquarters located at 1529 Broadway St., Sheffield (between the Kia dealership and McDonald's).  Please bring finger foods.   


UPDATE Second Rape at UNA Yesterday?

Update from UNA:

I noticed your blog post today about a possible second rape at UNA. Just want to let you know that neither the UNA Police nor the Florence Police have received any such reports.

Josh Woods
Director of Communications and Marketing
University of North Alabama
(From earlier today:

A source with the Florence Police Department has informed us of a possible second rape on the UNA campus that occurred either late Monday night or early in the day on Tuesday. No further details are available.)

The Staff at Shoalanda Speaks

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

"Busted 'N the Shoals"/Red Bay Ambulance Wars?

A new Shoals site arrived on the scene a few weeks ago. Busted 'N the Shoals contains local mug shots and more:


Apparently Muscle Shoals isn't the only local city to have ambulance wars. Red Bay has a few problems of its own, as evidenced in these reports:



Monday, October 1, 2012

Damien Lee Nix Caught; Three at Large

Damien Lee Nix (right), one of four escapees from the Florence Detention Center, has been arrested. Nix reportedly separated from the other three prisoners after their Saturday night escape. Authorities speculated Nix might return to Russellville in order to contact girlfriend Ashley Thompson.

Nix and Thompson (left) were arrested last December for the robbery of a guest at the Greenwood Motel in Russellville. Sources in the Russellville Police Department stated they were watching for Nix at the Chinese restaurant where Thompson works; however, he was apparently apprehended before he made it back to Franklin County.

Robert Brown, Wesley Gibson, and Ricky Lawson remain at large. Lawson's father, Earnest Earl Lawson was arrested for facilitating the escape. Authorities say the elder Lawson is no stranger to law enforcement and is currently held in the detention center on felony escape charges.


Ever wonder what those slit eyebrows mean? Escapee Robert Brown can be seen sporting two slits in each brow. For gang members, it can indicate how many they've killed. For the less dangerous thug element, it can mean they have no objection to certain drugs. For some, it's apparently a fashion statement. Well, the slits in Brown's eyebrows probably cost less than a Chanel bag...