Monday, April 30, 2012

Ambulance Wars Heat Up in Colbert County

W. Douglas Arnold (pictured) has served 30 years in hospital administration. Perhaps after working in Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, the South Alabama native was happy to move closer to home. After nine months at the helm of Keller, we wonder if he still feels that way.

It does seem that Mr. Arnold became privy to some information on the proposed City of Muscle Shoals switcheroo to the newly minted Shoals Ambulance Service, headquartered at a rival hospital. Our friends at The Connection are calling it "good ol' boysim." Surely not in the Shoals...

You can read their latest offering on Ambulance Wars here:

When Seconds Count


Is the ambulance situation a clear case of cronyism? Maybe not. Here's another reader's take on it:

There have been several Ambulance Services based at Shoals Hospital or in Muscle Shoals over the years. Mike Goodwin's METRO Ambulance had an Office on the ground floor of the Medical building connected to the hospital. Then CareLine had an office in a trailer behind the hospital. Brewer Ambulance was close but I think they were in Sheffield, there was Colbert Rescue till they closed. Baccus is still in business as is Med-Call Ambulance.

I am sure Shoals Hospital is not the first Ambulance Service that has been turned down by 911. If 911 changes their way of giving out 911 calls then every Ambulance Service that was ever denied calls will have a right to sue the 911 board and more than likely win. So the lawyers for 911 know that when you have always done something one way then you have to keep doing it that way or be prepared to stay in court all the time.

As for Cherokee Rescue Squad, why run them down like you have here, they don't even have a dog in that race. Sometimes the closest Ambulance is not the best.


Really? I think the citizens of Muscle Shoals deserve the truth. They need to search and get the facts instead of believing the untruths you are trying to push on them. A lot of the information you are disclosing here is not correct. Have you mentioned Med-Call being in trouble several times for jumping calls or getting into confrontations with responders already on the scene of an accident, guess not.


Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Colbert Countian on Shoals Ambulance

Shoals' Fleet of Mercedes Ambulances

Should the City of Muscle Shoals be allowed to select which ambulance service acts as first responder within their boundaries, of should the county 911 Board have the final say? The ultimate decision on that question has been postponed until the board hears from the Attorney General's office in Montgomery. Here's a Colbert Countian's take on the current quandary:

The city of Muscle Shoals has the right to use who they want inside the city limits. The owner of the new service is a very nice man from Booneville, Mississippi. He also ran the 2nd largest ambulance service in the nation (Rural/Metro) so he knows what he is doing. If you read the article in the paper you will notice Keller talked about money, money, money. Coming from an old school medic I'm going to tell you it bothers me to see that all Keller is worried about is money. Keller's employees are famous for treating patients and the first responders like garbage. 

Fact: One of Keller's EMTs shoved Spring Valley's elderly fire chief at a wreck. There were witnesses to this and a complaint was filed with with the DA's office. 

Fact: When Keller has come out to calls and refused to replace the volunteer fire department's equipment even though Keller is billing for the call. Competition is good. I believe that Shoals Hospital's new service will make Keller better. The bottom line--Muscle Shoals wants what is best for its citizens and Keller is not what is best.


The Connection has published the second part in its series on the Muscle Shoals ambulance situation. Every Colbert (and Lauderdale) citizen should be concerned with the current responder plans.


Friday, April 27, 2012

The Truth About Convicted Rapist Richard Gooch?

Richard Franklin Gooch
February saw two new blogs in the Shoals--neither of which we choose to link here. The intent of both blogs seems to be the defamation of certain people these bloggers feel have slighted them in the past. The author of one of the blogs is married to Richard Franklin Gooch. Yesterday Mrs. Gooch interviewed her husband; however, we have some serious questions concerning many of his/her quotes. We'll look more closely at them here.

Gooch: I told them exactly what happened. They gave me a public defender because I didn't have enough money for an attorney, nor did my parents at that time. They wanted to make a deal because I had already been in trouble for some petty crimes. (renting things and not returning them) They said because of the other crimes they would automatically think I was guilty of the rape and give me a maximum sentence, so they coaxed me into a plea agreement. I said I wasn't guilty of rape, but because they told me I could get a life sentence if it went to a jury trial even if I was innocent. Because they scared me, I was forced into a plea agreement.

SS: First, while we don't know the name of Gooch's attorney, there are some excellent lawyers who provide service to the state as public defenders. The Shoals area is not known as a financial gold mine for the law, and many proficient attorneys are happy to serve in this capacity and serve well. Second, anyone who is familiar with the law will know that Gooch could have opted for a "Best Interest" plea in which he asserted his innocence, if he had so desired. Also, the judge would have specifically asked Gooch if he had been forced in any way to accept the plea.

Mrs. Gooch: Well, we have seen several stories on Shoalanda Speaks and OB's Corner, etc. that you had raped this woman at knife point. Did you use a knife to threaten her?
SS: Until today, we have never mentioned Gooch by name and have never mentioned a knife. We linked OB's Corner on January 29th of this year and answered a comment concerning the alleged crime on January 31st. We have not checked OB's blog to see how often he has or hasn't mentioned Gooch, but no one has seen "several stories" concerning Gooch here because we have not published them. Our purpose in mentioning Gooch's presence at Sweetwater was to point out how easily any unscrupulous person could accuse him of a sex crime and win a large judgment from Sweetwater's owner, forcing her to sell the property to developers.

Mrs. Gooch: I believe the story on Shoalanda says you broke into the woman's house and knifed her and raped her and left her for dead? 
SS: Once again, we have two previous entries concerning Gooch--January 29th and January 31st. Please read these posts yourself and see if any of this was mentioned. It wasn't. Mrs. Gooch either has serious memory problems or intentionally added a great deal to her tale of woe. We leave that for you to decide.

Gooch: No, I didn't even have a knife. There was never any mention of a weapon in my case. These stories have been fabricated. My case is on micro fiche at the Colbert County Courthouse if anyone wants to check it out.
SS: From the May 14th, 1991, TimesDaily

Several other quotes could be examined, but we believe this gives the gist of Mrs. Gooch's post and its lack of veracity. We will add one more quote in the "just because" department. When asked what he saw in his wife, among his answers was this: ...and she doesn't look her age. Ahh, we're glad Mr. Gooch has reached a point in his life where he knows what's important and what isn't.
After reading our entry for today, we wish to offer an addendum. Only three entities know what happened on December 22, 1990--Gooch, his alleged victim, and God. Nor do we know Gooch's state of mind when he accepted the plea deal. Gooch says that he has turned his life around, and we sincerely hope he has. Our only problem with Gooch himself is the dissemination of false information about our blog. We hope both Mr. and Mrs. Gooch will go back and read anything that we have said previously. Perhaps they will be surprised at what we have and haven't actually said?


Thursday, April 26, 2012

David Thompson Gets 90 Days/Shoals Ambulance

From D.K.: This morning (David Darryl) Thompson agreed to 90 days jail time for attempting to run from a traffic stop almost a year ago in the city of Florence. The domestic violence charge by "victim" Thompson's girl friend--she retracted her story, claiming she was not truthful and only wanted Thompson arrested and into trouble.

Because the first step of the Court of Appeals in the death of Mellisa Garrett has ruled the conviction stands, now 3 months into the next and last step of the Court of Appeals expected on average returned in 3 more months, total of 6 months, so at the end or before his 3 months time (in jail), D.A. and family hoping he will not be out. The D.A. talked to the family and they were okay with him serving the 3 months, and by that time thinking the final ruling will be back from Montgomery.


From a reader on the new Shoals Ambulance Service:
If RegionalCare has their CEO on the board of directors of Rural/Metro
an ambulance service company, why would RegionalCare have Bryan Gibson a former high ranking executive at Rural/Metro come to start a new company that competes in the same business as Rural/Metro while RegionalCare CEO Martin Rash sits on the board of directors at Rural/Metro?  It would be self dealing by Rash but Warburg Pincus must have sanctioned it because they own Rural/Metro and RegionalCare.  Must be because Rural/Metro is under several investigations and they must not want to try and start any new ventures with this hanging over them for fear that government officials may be turned off by the investigations. I only hope this company and 130 billing jobs are not brought here only to continue the same unscrupulous business practices under this high ranking executive that he seems to have been a part of at Rural/Metro.  I prefer that my health care money stay local and contribute to affordable local health care not send to some fat cats in New York City.


The latest report on Shoals sex offenders from The Connection:


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Keller Ambulance & the Colbert E-911 Board

Muscle Shoals wants to use the newly formed Shoals Ambulance Service for the city's primary responder; the Colbert E-911 Board says Keller EMS will remain the designated responder for the entire county. Is there a problem? Is there a solution? Is there an ethics violation?

The dispute has been briefly covered in the TimesDaily, and now The Connection is doing an in depth series on the conflict between Muscle Shoals and the E-911 Board. It promises to be an interesting read, but the words "ethics violation" stand out.

At least one concerned citizen has documented what he believes to be two major conflicts of interest on the E-911 Board. From a Colbert County reader:

* The vice chairman of the 911 board is Kirk Jones. Mr. Jones is a salesman for the radio shop on Jackson Hwy in Sheffield. His company sells thousands of dollars of lights and radios to Keller EMS every year, directly benefiting him financially. I believe the ethics commission should take a hard look at that.

* Dewey King is the chairman of the 911 board. He is the fire chief at Sheffield. Sheffield benefits from Keller EMS being based in his city. I think there may be a conflict of interest there too.

You can read more here: How Do You Spell Monopoly?


Sadly, there was the predicted light turnout in yesterday's runoff election. If you didn't vote, you have no right to complain...


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Life Without Walmart/Get VOCAL Tonight

If he were alive today, perhaps John Lennon would add a verse to Imagine. "Imagine there's no Walmart." If the powers that be in Florence have their way, there will be two Walmarts--three miles apart. Some say the city can't support two Walmarts. More to the point, how do we support one Walmart when we can't support Pier I, Linens 'N' Things, Food Max, Stein-Mart, Toys-R-Us, or Old Navy? We could list several more, but you get the idea.

Admittedly, some of the above retail giants went under nationally--not just in Florence, but no matter the cause, the effect was to drive more shoppers to Target, K-Mart, or Walmart. Did we say K-Mart? We're not sure that struggling entity will survive in Florence should a second Walmart come to fruition.The irony seems to be in the fact that the proposed new Walmart has produced more public debate than Division I, a new landfill cell, Charter Schools, and the location of the new hospital combined.

Don't like Walmart? Shop Target, but we warn you there's a possibility you could wind up speaking French.


From D.K.:  

This week is "National Crime Victims Rights Week" April 22nd - 28th - We will have Crosses at Lauderdale County Court house all week.

On Tuesday April 24th @ 7:00 pm @ Wilson Park in Florence, AL. VOCAL will be sharing our Candle Light Vigil again this year with Safe Place and Rape Response. Speakers from each group. Lauderdale County District Attorney Chris Connolly will do the opening and closing of the Vigil . Lucia House will lead a prayer. Daniel Power and Kathyrn Burks will each do a song. You're encouraged to bring a lawn chair.

Our Key Note speaker will be Janette Grantham, formerly one of Attorney General's Victim Service Officers and now Blount County District Attorney Pamela Casey's Victim Service Officer. Janette is a sister of Coffee County Sheriff Niel Grantham who was murdered 30 years ago. His murderer had been on death row all this time, but now has been moved off death row with life without parole, a hearing will take place April 30, 2012 on the matter. Janette has been active with VOCAL and understands the battles of what it is to be a victim. Everyone is welcome !!


This is an appropriate time to thank D.K. for all he does for victims, as well as for what he contributes here. Sharing the grief of others is never an easy task, so on behalf of the entire Shoals area we thank you and your family for your continued support.


While we don't place any significance in the number 13, we are happy to note that this is our 1313th post. On second thought, we'll say that makes us pretty lucky to have such faithful readers.


Monday, April 23, 2012

Reedtown Rapist is Free Again!

Mark Anthony Hurley on 2/1/2012 Release

If you're not familiar with Mark Anthony Hurley, aka the Reedtown Rapist, here's a brief rundown of his crimes/convictions:

4/2000 - First Degree Rape - Unknown Conviction
4/2002 - First Degree Rape - Convicted First Degree Sexual Torture (Free by 7/2003)
9/2003 - First Degree Rape - Convicted  (Conviction Overturned)
9/2009 - First Degree Rape (Pleaded to Second Degree Assault) - Convicted
2/2010 - Possession of Controlled Substance-Non Marijuana - Convicted

Hurley's last charge of drug possession occurred while he was on bond for the September 2009 rape; he remained in jail until his March 2011 plea agreement. Hurley received a split sentence requiring him to serve three years in prison and was given credit for time served. In other words, Mark Anthony Hurley was scheduled to be released sometime in February 2013.

For whatever reason, Hurley was released on February 1, 2012, and returned to Russellville. He presumably still has five to six years of probation to serve. Any crimes Hurley may commit now would qualify him for not only probation revocation, but a life sentence as a habitual offender. We wish Franklin County law enforcement the best...


From D.K.: The (bond revocation) hearing for David Darryl Thompson will be April 25th @ 8:30 on 4th floor in Judge Self's court room.


Vote Tomorrow!


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Desmond Powers/Vote Tuesday

Desmond & Renisha Powers

The above photo was obviously taken during happier times for Desmond Deshawn Powers and his now ex-wife Renisha McDaniel Powers. Witnesses say Desmond arrived at Renisha's home last Wednesday and began arguing with her over pictures posted on her Facebook account. Desmond then shot his ex-wife in the hip before fleeing. He turned himself in at the Florence Police station some hours later. At last report, Renisha Powers was still hospitalized in Huntsville.

Apparently Desmond Powers has no previous arrests, or at least none serious enough to be publicized. What kind of sentence can he expect? If convicted, Alabama law stipulates a sentence of 10 years to life. It's also a Class A felony, meaning Powers would receive no Correctional Incentive Time and, unless paroled, would serve his sentence day for day. At the other end of the scale, Renisha could be willing for the District Attorney's office to offer her ex-husband probation, probably on the condition he agrees to stay away from her in future.

In other words, at least the next ten years of 24 year-old Desmond Powers' life may very well depend on how forgiving his ex-wife is. Hell may have no fury like a woman shot?


If you live in Alabama, you have the opportunity to vote in the run-off election next Tuesday. Not just an opportunity, but an obligation. If you care about your county and state's future, vote.

We have made no recommendation in the District 1 County Commission race in Lauderdale County, but wholeheartedly endorse Keith M. Collier Jr. for District 2. Good luck, Keith.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Elvis Adam Presley Loves His Mama...

...and his mama loves him...enough to get herself arrested...twice. Elvis Presley is a name familiar to Franklin County authorities for more than music. Elvis (middle name Adam) Presley, then age 23, was arrested in March 2008 for theft of a purse and cellphone in the Walmart parking lot. He received five years probation.

After violating the terms of his probation, Presley was remanded to the Franklin County Community Corrections program, from which he escaped in January 2010. His mama agreed to hide him under some clothes in her closet, but unfortunately for the Presley family, officers found the escapee and arrested mama and Presley's girlfriend in the process.

After his release, Presley once more made news in June 2011, this time sans his mama, when he robbed an acquaintance at knife point in downtown Russellville. He was charged with First Degree Theft in the crime that netted him $250.00. Later that year, Presley again faced charges when he was indicted for Third Degree Burglary and Second Degree Criminal Mischief in November. Presley again took it on the run and made Franklin County's most wanted list.

After capture, he was again granted probation, but managed an arrest for Public Intoxication and Probation Violation on March 5th. By now the Franklin County Jail must have seemed like a second home to Presley, who turned to mama for smuggling drugs into the facility. Sadly for both Presleys, the phone call was monitored, and 53 year-old Kathy Presley once more joined her son in jail. Ah, a mother's love. Let's hope they let him buy her a card for Mother's Day.


Has the Colbert County E-911 Board caused the Shoals to lose 130 new jobs? Stay tuned for the Muscle Shoals City Council meeting Monday night--no charge for the fireworks.


Friday, April 20, 2012

"Bastard" is Verboten, but "Bitch" is Copacetic?

Alas, if you have a hankering for "Dirty Bastard" ale, you'll have to purchase this gourmet sounding alcohol outside the state of Alabama; however, if you will settle for "Fat bastard" wine, you're in luck.

It seems some former embodiment of the Alabama Beverage Control (ABC) previously approved "Fat bastard." An older version of the board also approved "Raging Bitch" beer.

We don't know who intended to distribute "Dirty Bastard" beer, but it looks like they may have adequate grounds for a lawsuit if they wish to pursue one. We also question why a beer with the name "Bitch" in its title was ever approved. Welcome to Alabama the beautiful...and mentally deranged.


Thanks to our friend Phillip Oliver (Dirt Therapy), we discovered another fantastic Shoals blog--Amy C. Collins. We're linking it starting today. Enjoy!


We've also added a section at the bottom of this blog with links to The Connection's "Shoals Sex Offender" articles. It's directly above Shoals Crime, and we'll be adding to it each week.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

It's April 19th; Do You Know Where Your Hospital Is?

From the January 18th TimesDaily:

The application was deemed complete Tuesday...but it will not go before the agency board to be accepted or denied until April 18, providing it is not contested.

Our sources indicated that a specific location for the hospital in Lauderdale County would be added by this date. As far as we know, there have been no private or public announcements of location. On April 13th, RegionalCare, headquartered in Brentwood, Tennessee, announced a new cancer center to be built adjacent to the new hospital...but still no exact location. Apparently the money is still on a site west of Florence belonging to a local physician. We await...


Roger Keith Pitts has again been arrested. On April 3rd, Pitts was charged with Domestic Violence in Lauderdale County.  VINELink does not show Pitts as currently being incarcerated. Has he again been granted bail?

Related blog: Roger Keith Pitts 20 Years Later


The Connection has published its second in a series on local sex offenders. We caught up with Trader recently, and he tells us no one convicted of Second Degree (Statutory) Rape will be included in these weekly bios. This week features:

Like: The Connection


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Bad Boys: Domestic Violence Redux-Risner & Bryant

Kenneth Eugene Risner has been charged with making terrorist threats earlier this week. The former Florence man, now residing in Tuscumbia, threatened to take his life in Spring Park on Monday.

In October of last year, the then 46 year-old Risner was arrested in Lauderdale County for Domestic Violence and Second Degree Stalking of his Russellville girlfriend. Apparently Risner didn't take a judge's restraining order too seriously. In December he was arrested in Franklin County on charges of Aggravated Stalking of the same woman.

We have to wonder if, as Risner's trial(s) drew nearer, he didn't see an attempted suicide as grounds for an easy mental defect plea. No matter the reality of Kenneth Risner's mental problems, he presented some very real problems for the Tuscumbia Police Department...along with several families and small children visiting the park. Surely he will receive some jail time for this.


We're sure most Walmart shoppers are careful in the parking lot. Apparently a Tuscumbia man is now giving patrons pause inside the store. Joey Lance Brewer was arrested earlier this week for robbing a shopper in the Muscle Shoals store.

The 27 year-old Brewer is pictured at left after a January arrest for Third Degree Assault and Domestic Violence. The hoodie is a nice touch...


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Jason Brian Jackson Faces Parole Board Tomorrow

Jason Brian Jackson is scheduled to come before the Alabama Parole Board tomorrow, 19 years into a 25 year sentence for Felony Murder. The Lauderdale County District Attorney's office is opposing Jackson's parole, but if he should make it, he will then be required to serve a 10 year sentence for escape. If paroled in that case, he could be free in less than two years. There's been a great deal of interest generated in the case that took over two months to solve.

Jackson initially claimed he was not the person who shot Danny Wayne Sharp seven times, but later accepted a plea deal. The Lauderdale County man was just 20 years old when he allegedly killed Sharp after his victim accused him of owing money on a previous drug deal. Authorities claim that Jackson shot Sharp seven times and robbed him of over 1K dollars and nine pounds of drugs. Considering the theft charges, Jackson could have been charged with Capital Murder; he sought youthful offender status which he was denied.

Several have taken to Facebook to ask why Jackson is even offered parole. Now is not the time to protest his sentence. The time to protest was when he was offered the pleas. We may assume Danny Sharp's wife was reasonably content with the plea and did not oppose it. Any time a murder case goes to a jury, there is a risk--look at David Darryl Thompson. At least Jackson has served almost 20 years for Sharp's murder.

Note: Jackson accused his girlfriend of killing Sharp. His girlfriend/common law wife was killed in an auto accident one month before Jackson's trial was to have begun.


Monday, April 16, 2012

Mike Goens Doesn't Like Covenant Marriage?

State senators who have recently proposed the "Covenant Marriage Bill" may have had more pressing issues before them, but at least this issue isn't being rammed down the throats of would-be-newlyweds in Alabama--it's purely optional, something Mike Goens of the TimesDaily failed to point out. Neither is this the first time the bill has been proposed; it wasn't passed then, and probably won't be passed now. Perhaps we should also point out that counseling of at least a limited nature is now required of any Alabama couple having minor children and wishing to divorce.

If the bill is passed? It's estimated that one percent of those marrying in Alabama will opt for Covenant Marriage. It's also highly likely that those who do are those who would never consider divorce in the first place. So is it a good law? If it saves one percent of the marriages that are part of the one percent who choose Covenant Marriage, yes.


By popular request:


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Bark for What? Got His What?

Perhaps without hope and change, or any chance for hope, in 2012, "I Bark for Barack" was all that was left. Wait...there's also "Get Barack's Back" and some variations thereon...

 Pretty weak, but what about Romney? Here's an idea:

Okay, you're right, Mitt Romney is no Patrick McGoohan. Any Independents out there?


We heard there were a few words spoken in Montgomery yesterday. Apparently our Alabama teachers aren't happy. Our friend Chad Holden was even quoted in today's TimesDaily on the subject. Did any of the teachers' words hit home? Here's what the gubnah said:


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Let's Not Talk About It Since...

1. It will just go away by itself.

2. People will think the wrong thing of our (family/area/business/whatever).

3. It's not our business in the first place.

4. It's already happened and we can't change it.

5. The victim was asking for it in the first place.

6. It doesn't do any good to be negative.

7.They were just trying to make a living like anyone else.

Have you heard these statements in the Shoals? We certainly have and even see them in black and white most days. We've recently seen two comments that epitomize these views--both on articles concerning the recent drug busts in Franklin County.

We haven't read the final count in Operation Spring Clean, but the last we heard almost 180 had been arrested for various crimes against society, with at least one drug crime each. Articles here and in The Quad-Cities Daily have received some interesting feedback. Here's two views from readers:

*  Who ever u people. R need. To mind ur.businesses. u ain't helping.

*  very VERY few of these people look like drug dealers. they look like mainly poor people from the projects. if the cops are going to do a drug sweep they should investigate instead of setting people up. if you wave a steak in front of a hungry dog the dog will eat it. same with money and people that are broke. the way the cops do is a shame. im sure a few of these people were selling but im sure 90% or more were just trying to help someone out and make a few bucks to be able to live. its a real shame!

No, not all out of work individuals turn to selling drugs. Those that do should realize the dangers and be prepared for the consequences.

Like: The Quad-Cities Daily


Friday, April 13, 2012

Why Thompson Was Free/Know Your Neighbors

From D.K.: David Darryl Thompson was never sent off, so no parole, he was out on an Appeal Bond. There will be some type of hearing soon, as I understand it. He is locked up until this hearing.

Yes, apparently, Thompson has never made it south. He's been free on an appeal bond of 75K since his February 2011 sentencing.VINELink is now showing the 50 year-old killer as incarcerated at the Lauderdale County Detention Center.

Thompson's latest victim? We've received conflicting information concerning his most recent domestic violence charge. One source has indicated Thompson's mother was the target of his rage. No matter the victim, we would hope no judge would allow Thompson any freedom at this point. We also hope a conviction in this latest case would be served consecutively. D.K. has promised to keep us updated.


The TimesDaily has reported at least two attempted sex crimes in the past few days. Neighbors intervened during the Lawrenceburg incident--an indication that watchful eyes do deter some crimes. Sex offender advocates never fail to mention that such convicted felons frequently have a low rate of reoffending. We believe neighbors in the know are a major factor in this.

Our friends at The Connection have begun a weekly column devoted to Shoals sex offenders. Each Monday the Internet magazine will publish a short biography of a local predator. Here's a link to their debut entry:


Want to sell advertising for The Connection? Call 256-366-5483.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Ghosts Tonight, Zombies Tomorrow

Ghosts in April? Well, you didn't think they just made appearances in October, did you?

Debra Glass, a UNA alumna and author, will conduct a campus ghost tour and discussion April 12 at 7 p.m. beginning at the Memorial Amphitheater. Glass is the author of more than 15 books and the 1992 recipient of the National Society of Arts and Letters Alabama Screenwriter Award. Glass, a local ghost historian, will lead the free tour for UNA students, employees and members of the community.

Thanks, Debra, for giving back to your alma mater and your community!


Did someone say zombies? We've heard that ChargerCon will have more than zombies. It's a gaming convention and much more. Our own Belgreen cop Daniel Horton is the driving force behind this event. What better way to spend Friday the 13th?


A reader pointed out that we owed our friend Larry Fisher an apology since we didn't include him in the category of little men who aren't here. Yes, we had temporarily forgotten that Larry was once stated to be a woman from Tuscumbia...  


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Banning? Yes/Did She Matter? Yes

Since we reinstated comments on this blog, we have made an effort to publish all of them. If the comments have contained profane or vulgar language or what could be libelous accusations, we have deleted them. We have so far not banned anyone.

There is a first time for everything. Some individuals have mental quirks. Some are just completely out of it. We've had some requests to ban "Toby Dammit," and we are going to do so as of today.

We know that Toby and his group are facing misdemeanor harassment charges--reason enough not to give him any more platforms than he already has. We sincerely hope there will not be a need for any more bannings.


We've been forwarded a blog concerning David Darryl Thompson--a blog that essentially defends his crime as manslaughter and denigrates his victim. The blog's author implies Melissa Garrett's fiance' shouldn't even be considered since he had no immediate plans to marry her until she went through rehab.

This wonderful judge of character continues that Mrs. Garrett didn't have a job. Well, that's certainly grounds for murder. Yes, Thompson's attorney made sure the jury knew the Killen nurse had not been living the life of a saint for the past several years. Thompson's lawyer even made sure the jury knew that Garrett's hobby was cockfighting. Does that make her murder any less heinous? The state's witnesses presented evidence that Melissa's shooting could in no way have happened as Thompson testified, a shooting that occurred while her young teenage daughter sat in the next room.

Thompson changed his story several times and ran after he was indicted. Oh, we also have some more news for the author of that misguided blog: If you sell cocaine one time, you're then a small time drug dealer. We also know that any law enforcement officer will tell you most drug dealers will admit to only a small percentage of their crimes. Thompson never denied acquiring cocaine to resell to Garrett.

Does any of this matter? Life goes on. We'll soon be facing the murder trial of Ronald Eugene Weems in which his attorney will present facts, or attempt to, that his victim was no saint. Again, does it matter if the person wasn't living the way we think they should? Who decides in the end?

Remember, the next victim to be painted with this white trash brush could be a member of your family. If you don't speak up for Melissa Garrett, no one may speak up for your family member.

Note: On an even weirder note, the author of the blog in question mentioned D.K., a member of our blogging group and one recently accused of not existing. Toby's thought patterns must be rubbing off...

Related blogs:  

Who's a Throw-Away Person in the Shoals?

Should We Be VOCAL?


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Why Is David Darryl Thompson Out of Prison?

Look closely at this man. He's a small time coke dealer. He's a user. He's a killer. He's out of prison after serving only two years for the murder of a Killen nurse. Now he's been arrested in Lauderdale County for Domestic Violence. We're sure that charge comes as a surprise to the jury that convicted David Darryl Thompson of only manslaughter in the death of Melissa Kenney Garrett.

Thompson was convicted in December 2010 in the death of the Killen mother and sentenced to 15 years. If Thompson was well-behaved in prison, he would have been a free man in only five years and eligible for parole after only 20 months. Yet considering the heinous nature of his crime, how could the parole board have granted Thompson his freedom?

Melissa Garrett left a widowed father, a young daughter, and a fiance'. They didn't get justice, and neither did the citizens of Lauderdale County.

On March 27th, Thompson was arrested for Third Degree Domestic Violence. Let's hope that's enough to return him to prison to complete his sentence. (According to VineLink, Thompson is no longer in custody and is presumably out on bail.)


The Student Government Association at the University of North Alabama is hosting the 2012 Florence City Mayoral Debate on Monday April 16, 2012 at 6pm in the GUC Performance Center on Campus. This Debate will feature the three candidates running for the position of Mayor of Florence.  If you would like to anonymously submit a question for the candidates to answer, please follow the link to do so .


Monday, April 9, 2012

Dating in Florence: Fuggetaboutit?

The Florence metropolitan area has been listed as number nine in the ten worst places for singles to live in the U.S. Is this surprising?

Over the years, we've seen many young people either remain in or return to the Shoals due to family crises. These Shoals natives, assuming they wish to date, can usually only find singles in what is commonly called the working class. So, you either marry down or you don't marry at all. If you don't marry, you don't reproduce (usually). The genes of these Shoals citizens with above average intelligence aren't passed on. Think about doesn't take a border collie.


Kimberly Bynum update:

Because of a murder trial in Franklin County, another big case headed to trial had to be delayed.
Jury selection was supposed to begin for Kimberly Bynum Monday.
She's a Franklin County teacher accused of having an affair with a 17-year-old.
Bynum was arrested last summer. Her trial is set to begin June 11th.


We doubt that Kimberly Bynum is eager for her trial to begin; however, until her legal problems are adjudicated, she has only slim hopes of getting on with her life and obtaining a decent job. We've asked several individuals how Ms. Bynum is supporting herself, but so far we've not received any definitive answers. 

Franklin County juries usually render much harsher verdicts than those in Colbert or Lauderdale. After the verdict and sentencing of Amanda Duboise Watkins, we infer Kimberly Bynum's prospects don't look good.


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter 2012

We here at Shoalanda are all dressed up for Easter. It's spring. It's another new beginning. Let's make the most of it. Everything old will be made new. We can't change the past, but we can decide what we will do with our futures.

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Vandals, Visigoths, & Skunk Apes

Like the beautiful Christmas decorations on display each year in Wilson Park in downtown Florence? Each was handmade by employees of the Florence Electricity Department. The first year they were displayed, some were stolen. We don't recall if these magical figures were ever found or not, but the wonderful employees who designed and crafted the decorations on their own time again pitched in to replace them. We assume these arches, angels, and reindeer are all more firmly secured since their debut year.

Now vandals have upset the statue of William Christopher Handy and dragged it a quarter way across the park. Thankfully the statue received only minor damage. Yet our tax dollars paid for the workmen to replace the sculpture on its pedestal, and if more work is needed, out tax dollars will pay for that also. The story of vandalism to such a well-known attraction in Florence will make national news...and perhaps some reporters will even add racial overtones to the tale of brainless thugs who decided to "have some fun."

Last month a bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest was stolen from a cemetery in Selma, presumably to sell for its metal content. It's possible our vandals had a similar motive originally, but decided to retreat to a darker area of the park after spotting a police patrol. The town of Selma has issued a reward for the thieves of the Confederate general's likeness. Perhaps we in Florence should do the same in order to teach these neo-Visigoths a lesson. Or were they Ostrogoths? Maybe just skunk apes on the prowl for another victim?



Friday, April 6, 2012

Alabama Senate Bill 5/Justin Joins a Select Club

It's amazing that the Alabama Senate has chosen to decree when life begins. We doubt many of our senators could state the date summer will officially arrive; however, that's not the theme of today's blog. We're going to play along with our illustrious state lawmakers and stipulate that life does begin at fertilization.

Our state senate says they in no way wish to outlaw in vitro fertilization, but that illustrious body must realize not all fertilized eggs are implanted into the would-be mother. So...what happens to these mini-lives?

1. The parents could choose to donate their fertilized eggs to another childless couple, but we doubt this happens often since most people don't wish for others to raise their biological children.

2. A lab worker/owner decides to discard the embryos.

3. A long-term power outage destroys the embryos.

4. The world ends in some manner. (We predict the second coming of Christ at some point, but if you prefer, it could be caused by a collision with a rogue comet named Bubba Ho-Tep. Scientists are after all entitled to a sense of humor.)

Let's go with option number two--a medical enterprise has gone bankrupt and no longer has the means to store the frozen embryos. Will you and I as taxpayers have to pay for a new home for these microscopic cells? Think about it. Someone has to...


Note: If you don't give a flip about the latest antics of the Sourwater Gang, feel free to skip to the next item.

First it was E.T., then Trader. More recently it was D.K. Now it seems our regular commenter Justin has been included in one of Sweetwater's staple replies. No, gentle readers, Justin doesn't exist. He's just a figment of someone's imagination--just someone who was created with the intent to defame the wonder workers who have done so much to restore Florence's long-neglected ante bellum mansion. Yes, several associated with one of the weirdest blogs known to man have pronounced Justin a little man who isn't there.

A quote from the blog where he is misidentified as "Jason:" Obviously, I have another admirer disguised as a hater calling themselves ‘Jason’.  While I am relatively certain ‘Jason’ is not their real name and whoever it is probably is not even a man but yet another woman...

We don't know if Justin is our friend's real name or not. That does not make him any less real. While Justin doesn't always agree with us, he has always been a gentleman and provided interesting food for thought--all in all a worthy debate opponent. We're thinking of requesting these four men offer a reply to their detractors. When is Sweeps Week for blogs anyway?


Yesterday, we reported that J. J. Common was among the first 126 arrested in Franklin County during a widespread drug sting. While Common was among those arrested, he was in the Franklin County jail having been returned from the Limestone Correctional Facility for a hearing on his December 2011 kidnapping charges. We're happy to make that correction for our Franklin County contacts, and happier still that he was not back on the streets.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

J.J. Common Among 126 Arrested in "Spring Clean"

Yesterday we reported as many as 300 were on tap to be arrested in "Operation Spring Clean." As of Tuesday morning, 126 had been officially identified, and warrants were still being requested and served. The Franklin County Times online has now listed the 126 who were first to be arrested, and one name caught our attention:

John James Common, 28, 503 South Carrol St., Russellville, two counts of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance (within 3 miles of a school and/or housing project)

From our December 20, 2011, blog:

John James Common, aka J.J., is a familiar figure around Russellville. It's hard to miss his small truck with the bullet holes in the passenger door. Common, 28, has several convictions involving drugs and is no stranger to prison. Our sources in the Russellville Police Department say he has his own entrance with a revolving door.

On parole for his drug offenses, Common was wearing an ankle monitor yesterday when he broke into the home where his ex-girlfriend was staying and attempted to kidnap the 21 year-old. This is the same girlfriend he once hit in the belly while she was pregnant. We're pretty sure they've kept his bed warm at the Limestone Correctional Facility. We're also pretty sure he qualifies as a habitual offender. 

"28 year old John James Common is facing Burglary, Theft, Attempted Kidnapping, Assault and Domestic Violence charges after the incident." Let's hope J.J. stays away for a long time...

From a December 31, 2011 comment:

JJ has been in and out of trouble all of his life, well every since I knew him (which was when he and I were 14). Right after I first met him he beat up a younger kid really bad and went to detention (1998),after that he got into trouble for raping a mentally challenged girl,he plead guilty but was a juvenile at the time)1999). The he went to jail for drugs got out on house arrest got pulled over with drugs in the car took off running and was that time he had a gun and crack-cocaine in the vehicle he abandoned. He was sent to prison((2003-2005 not sure the exact date) Then he got out again and starting back selling drugs. He was involved in a wreck that killed a woman and broke his hip. He was arrested shortly there after for you guessed it drugs. While in Franklin County jail he got a charge for prison contraband,and bribing an officer. They sent him to prison(2007) Oh and did I mention he was again on house arrest when he got arrested this time...broken hip and all. He got out 2010 and been arrested probably about 3-4 times since. One time was in Lauderdale county for shooting at someone. He was on FEDERAL house arrest monitor during this last little stint he pulled. Oh and let's not forget about him running onto the Russellville football field to shoot a player he had a problem with back a few years ago.

Apparently J.J. didn't stay away for any appreciable time. Yes, prisons are crowded, but do we need John James Common back on the streets of Russellville in another three months? We're sure District Attorney Joey Rushing will have his hands full due to this drug sting; nevertheless we hope he pays special attention to J.J. Revolving door doesn't even begin to describe Common's recidivism adequately.

Ah, so much crime. Let's add a little romance to the story. An employee of the Franklin County Jail tells us Common will be taking a court ordered paternity test during his stay...


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Massive Drug Bust in Franklin County/Tommy Arthur--Senior Citizen

Police sources say the newly formed drug task force in Franklin County began raids in the early morning hours Monday and continues their quest as we write this. One source outside the police department stated as many as 300 were scheduled to be arrested. If that number is even remotely close to the actual number of arrests, local jails will be filled to capacity. Perhaps some dealers will be charged under Federal statutes and taken to Huntsville. (The Franklin County Times reported 126 taken into custody by 9:00 a.m. Tuesday.)


In today's world of longevity, sociologists now describe the last era of human life as beginning at 70. This is a mark that Tommy Arthur recently passed, and we're now seeing him described as "a senior citizen" on death row. By all definitions, Arthur is indeed a senior citizen. Many predict he will die on death row before he is executed.

There's nothing humorous about Arthur's crime, yet there is something amusing in the fact that his supporters wish to spare his life because he is now a senior citizen. We have to ask why Arthur's case has aroused so much interest when such others as John Forrest Parker were executed with comparatively little fanfare.

Related post: John Forrest Parker's Path to the Death Chamber


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

You Just Lost 8K Dollars

Yes, if you live in Lauderdale County and are a taxpayer, you just lost $7,938.00 simply because the Coffee Health Group wouldn't turn over records to the TimesDaily. The local newspaper sought access to the documents pertaining to the sale of the ECM hospital to RegionalCare. The law says such records are public and therefore required the health authority to reimburse the TD for any and all legal fees associated with it's ongoing request.

Why wouldn't the Coffee Health Group turn them over? So far they haven't made their reasons public. 8K is a drop in the proverbial bucket of tax revenue, but it's still a lot of moolah to most local citizens. Now we await the location of the new RegionalCare facility. It must be make public this month, and we're not expecting any surprises...of course, that doesn't mean we may not get one...or several.


Some free history: For those who live in the eastern end of Lauderdale County or Limestone itself, each Saturday in April will provide a free history walk beginning at 10:00 a.m. There's no charge for the tours which meet at the corner of Beaty and Market Streets. The five walks include:

• Athens Square Historic District

• Beaty Historic District, Washington Street and Old Town Cemetery;

• Athens State University, Big Spring Memorial Park and College Inn;

• City Cemetery.

• Houston Historic District


Monday, April 2, 2012

Hershel Graham/ Kimberly Bynum Court Updates

Franklin County Courthouse

Hershel Graham waived his right to an arraignment last Friday and pleaded not guilty to the murder of David Martin Andrasik. His trial is scheduled for later this summer. It seems unlikely that Franklin County will pursue related charges against Graham's son Elijah, who has publicly announced he will be leaving Franklin County as soon as he is able to do so.

Related post: Why Wasn't Elijah Graham Indicted?


A March 21st pre-trial for Kimberly Bynum has been continued. Her Franklin County trial is still presumed to be scheduled for this summer. After the verdict in the Amanda Duboise Watkins case, we may assume Bynum's attorney is being exceedingly vigilant in preparing for her case related to admitted sexual misconduct.

We are still receiving reports that Bynum has married, but have been unable to verify this. If anyone can provide us with documentation, please do so. This could greatly impact her trial.

Related posts: Kimberly Bynum's Long Term Affair?


Not since Mike Royco and Lewis Grizzard has there been a national columnist more adept at humor than Reg Henry. Recently Henry has come under fire locally for...well, for being humorous. We suspect his detractors are closet Puritans who beat their rugs, add lead to their gasoline, and support the current management of Sweetwater Mansion. If you're not familiar with Henry, here's his bio. He appears every Sunday in the TimesDaily--one of the few things they actually get right.


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Doers Actually Get Something Accomplished...Eventually

Rear of Weeden Home

You've probably heard the old joke: There are two kinds of people in the world--those who divide the world into two kinds of people and those who don't. Today, we're going to divide the local population into four types:

1. Those who couldn't care less about the area's problems. Those who fall into this group ask what the area can do for them, not vice versa.

2. Those who really don't want to do any work, but want to take credit for any work that is done. If someone else does it and they get no credit for it, then it's wrong.

3. Those who have tried to help this area, but have become discouraged by those in Group 2.

4. Those who have (usually) had many false starts, but keep on trying until they actually accomplish something.

In yesterday's blog we honored local writer and filmmaker Thomas Beane as a local hero. We're sure Thomas has had many projects that didn't work out as intended or are still in the editing stage due to unanticipated problems. That's life. To his credit, Thomas Beane has many completed projects that have greatly benefited the Shoals and will continue to do so for years to come.

One of Thomas' most noteworthy projects is his video on Sweetwater Mansion, aka the Weeden Home. Thomas made the video while a student at the University of North Alabama, long before owner Susan Leigh Smithson allowed Cynthia Johnson to act as "Director," but now a certain group who has recently taken to Shoals cyber space has denigrated Thomas' work, calling him a trespasser at best. Let's look at some recent dialogue:

Click to Enlarge

"Carmen" asks if "you people" ever tell the truth. We're not exactly sure to whom she's referring, but we can see that Thomas has been accused of trespassing. How did Thomas reply to such a statement?

"I could care less about the issues surrounding Sweetwater or the community division between the various groups. I also have no interest in attacking people in public or private. However, I do have an interest in defending myself. My name is Thomas Beane. I did do a film project with a production crew at Sweetwater for a class that I had at the University . I did not trespass onto the property. I would not even agree to any subject within the film until I had permission and cooperation. I had permission from Charlotte Dean at Cypress Realty, who was under contract and had the listing for the property at the time. I contacted her to receive permission, which was granted. She also provided a CD copy of interior pictures for our use, which I picked up at her office. On the day that we filmed, Florence Police Department responded to a call at the property, someone had seen us at the gate. An officer came out. I talked to him about why we there and told him about the project. I provided the name of the realtor and the officer called her office. After talking with her, he left. All of this was recorded on both the radio transmission log and documented at the police department in the shift log. I discussed all of this with Cynthia Johnson and we agreed that there was no foul committed. We resolved the issue for all parties involved. I did not talk to Smithson because I did not have to do so. The property was under contract with a realtor, as I mentioned. Mrs. Dean did not give me permission the first day that I called. She called me back. As to whether she talked to anyone about it, I would refer that question to her. I have no reason to believe that Mrs. Dean did not have the right to provide such permission. The project was never intended to be a commercial project nor has it been marketed as such. It was an educational project. Anyone who claims that anything other than this happened does so without knowing the facts of the matter. I met Glass while doing this project. I have maintained the same professional relationship that I do with anyone that I have worked, which are many. I do not know who writes the different blogs nor am really interested in participating in such. If someone has proof that I did this project illegally or if Mrs. Smithson has questions about my one-time interaction with the property, I encourage them to contact me directly. I will be glad to provide contradictory evidence. 

"For the record, I have never been inside of Sweetwater. I asked Charlotte Dean about the interior. She stated that it was unsafe, so she provided the disk with the interior pictures.

"I want to add that I offered the use of rights to the video to Cynthia Johnson to sell with all profits benefiting the Sweetwater restoration project. She stated that she would like to do that if they could figure out the best way to incorporate it into the fund drive. She also offered me a position working with the restoration project. These offers were made approx. one and a half to two years ago. I had to decline her offer because I am the primary caregiver for my disabled mother, which requires priority in my time. I have not heard back from her on the video matter. As far as I am aware in relation to the three phone conversations that I have had with Cynthia Johnson, there exists no conflict between myself and anyone official associated with Sweetwater or the restoration drive. So I find the above comments involving me surprising and false."

Once again, thank you, Thomas, for all you do for the Shoals area.