Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter 2013

Most gifts come wrapped in ribbon, but not all. The most precious gift any of us could ever receive was wrapped in a shroud. No one is going to make you accept this rarest of all gifts. It's up to you.

We have so many fresh starts each year that we tend to take them for granted. A new calendar year, a new growth season, a new school year, a new harvest celebration. Even each Sunday is a new start, a new week. Don't become so complacent that you miss your last chance for a new life.

It may be raining outside this morning, but there's sunshine waiting for us who accept Christ's gift.

Happy Easter,


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Making That Easy Money by Blake Austin Hines

Okay, ya know, it's hard to make that big money ya really deserve. Like, they expect you to work for it. Man, how f****d up is that? I got all these great ideas while I was in the joint and some pointers too.

So, me and my guys know this lady in North Florence. Old. Lives alone. Money and prescription drugs. Easy money, no chance of being traced. Like it so far? Thought you did. I'm smart that way.

So me and my two pals get these ski masks and put on some heavy boots, gotta have those to knock in the door. We dash in, push the woman around a little, or a lot if it comes down to it. Like I said, ya gotta have that money, ya know.

Turns out she's kinda small and it was easy. Didn't even have to kill her, not that we wouldn't have if it came down to it. We get the money and run. Ya should have seen us in my Mussie. Boy, it's sharp. Thanks, Mom. She got it for me as a "graduation" present. How funny is that? Got me the I-Phone I'm typing this on too.

Yeah, my mom's a silly b***h. Works at Lowe's for her money. How dumb is that? She's always been kinda dumb. Ya should see the men she's paraded in and out of my life over the years. But I gotta thank her. If she'd cared where I was at 12:30 Friday morning I wouldn't be holding all this loot in my hands right now.

But, yeah, it won't last that long. There's next week. My guys know another old lady the other side of town. How great is that? So, see ya around. Church for Easter? You some kind of freak or what? I'm on a roll. Who needs Jesus?

Hey, do you hear sirens?


Thanks to an anonymous reader for the above "advice." Blake Austin Hines, 18, is currently being held in the Lauderdale Detention Center on 101K bond. Will he get out? If our reader is correct that his mother is as deluded about her son as he says, yes he will. What will happen to him? Our source says it's not his first arrest. Hines just left Mt. Miegs Juvenile Center on February 8th.

This is not like breaking into a car in a parking lot. This is serious--a true crime of moral turpitude. If justice is to be served, we're going to have to demand it. After Hines' two companions in crime are arrested, and the trio is indicted, we will provide more information on making sure they do actual prison time.


We'll have our story on Sparkey's Drive-Inn on Monday.


Friday, March 29, 2013

Disgraced Teacher Seven Times Lucky?

The Franklin County trial for Kimberly Bynum George has been postponed for the seventh time. Her new trial date is June 10th. Bynum's defense team may not be the reason for this delay. Several delays in the Felony Murder trial of Hershel Graham resulted in an April 1st date. The Franklin County judiciary probably felt it better to hold Graham's trial as soon as possible. Let's hope there's no more delay in justice for the David Andrasik family.

As for another delay in Bynum's trial, it's also frustrating for those whom she has hurt and betrayed. Delays can't go on forever. Facts can't be disputed. Let's hope justice is served in her case as well.


As these two Franklin County trials demonstrate, justice isn't always swift, but is does usually prevail. Are there instances where justice seems sidetracked for no apparent reason? Certainly.

Tomorrow we'll look at one of those cases, perhaps a small matter in the grand scheme of things, but of huge importance to the victims and their friends.


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Angel (Gieske) Is No Angel

We recently asked for info from readers concerning Angel Gieske, an independent contractor with DHR. As such, Gieske profits from our tax dollars. We expect state agencies to spend our tax money wisely and to check credentials of those they hire. We realize that many slip through because their lies and embellishments are so egregious. In other words, most people don't just walk up to a hospital and claim to be a brain surgeon unless they have some serious mental problems or enough brass to think they can make the con work.

We received many comments concerning Gieske's work in Alabama, many pertaining to her drug tests. Apparently several parents tested positive for drugs according to Gieske, but when they immediately went to a public medical facility for tests, they were found to be drug free. We have not had time to interview or check out each of the individuals who have contacted us concerning Gieske, but we have heard from local attorney Johnnie Franks. Ms. Franks has been gracious enough to allow us to use her comments:

AG has some nerve coming to Alabama thinking that the Alabama citizens are too ignorant to realize what she has done in Tennessee and that she can get away with it here. I am determined to see that justice is served with AG because she has affected the lives of hundreds of innocent children that have been entrusted to the state to protect but have had their fate decided by AG for whatever price tag she could get. Not only has she been independent contractor for DHR in Lauderdale, Colbert and Walker counties, she has also deceived parents who hired her privately & relied upon her false qualifications to make the best decisions for their children only to realize the best decision came in favor of the parent that paid the most money to her.

Until now, we were unaware that Gieske claimed a doctorate. We'll be publishing more details later and are eager to learn what actions are taken by the state board of psychologists.

Related post: Who is Angel Gieske?


We always encourage readers to visit their online profiles regularly. Often names are misspelled and they are linked to those whom they don't even know. This could obviously be the case with Angel Gieske; however, she has never disputed these records.

According to Radarius and other sites, Gieske's full name is Angel D. Morris Lewis Sego Goodman Gieske...and she provides marriage counseling?

Editor's note: We welcome any corrections from Angel Gieske


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Scooping Bernie & Sherhonda...

We often have readers who send us artwork, poems, songs, or catch phrases related to our blog. We don't usually publish them--not because they aren't articulate, funny, or catchy, but because we are composed of many here. Some who don't write regularly do contribute regularly. It's a team effort.

Still, one song recently sent to us comes to mind. One verse says:

I wanna write just like Shoalanda,
I wanna scoop Bernie and Sherhonda.

For those who may not be familiar with our newspaper, the Totally Decatur, Bernie and Sheronda refer to two writers, both very accomplished. Yet, it's not hard to scoop them (In fairness, Bernie Delinski is the only one of the two who does hard news). Why?

There may be a thousand "whys," but obviously one salient point is that only good news should cross the printing press concerning Shoals business. Should it really be this way? A good newspaper can publish bad news without it being editorial in nature; that seems to be something the TimesDaily hasn't learned.


Now we come to two scoops from earlier today. First from the Quad-Cities Daily:

Here's the scoop from Pen-N-Sword that has to have been covered up by the TD:

We have to ask why the powers that be in Decatur didn't want this published...


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Bid for Beds

 333 Combined Beds

How many beds should the new RegionalCare hospital in Lauderdale County have? RC has applied for a Certificate of Need that would allow for 300 beds. Its chief "rival" Helen Keller Hospital contends the new hospital needs no more than 234. In order to defend its position, HKH has used a statistical formula that would seem to prove its point.

If we used that formula, would HKH itself have too many beds? Our friend David has sent some extremely interesting data that seem to prove HKH is the proverbial pot:

Using information found on the Internet and according to the 2010 Census the following figures are very interesting:
County                        Population               Number of  Hospital Beds                     Ratio               
Lauderdale                    92,709                    300 (proposed)                                           309/1
Colbert                           54,428                     333 (HKH 185  + SH 148)                         163/1
Morgan                         119,490                     543 (DG 273 + PW 120 + HMC 150)       220/1
Madison                        334,811                    1161 (HH 951 + MH 60 + CMC 150)        288/1 

Ratio is the number of citizens per one hospital bed. According to this information Lauderdale County would have the fewest hospital beds available per citizen among the four counties listed with Colbert County having the most hospital beds per citizen. It would seem that closing Helen Keller Hospital would bring their bed ratio in line with the surrounding counties.

Out of 2037 total beds in the mentioned counties, 1702 are controlled by Huntsville Hospital. This doesn't include Morgan County, Lawrence County or Franklin County which all have hospitals in them controlled by Huntsville Hospital.

HKH - Helen Keller Hospital            185 beds
SH - Shoals Hospital                         148 beds
DG - Decatur General Hospital         273 beds*
PW - Parkway Hospital                       120 beds*
HMC - Hartselle Medical Center       150 beds*   (scheduled to be closed this year)
HH - Huntsville Hospital                     951 beds*   (includes 70 bed rehabilitation hospital)
MH - Madison Hospital                        60 beds*
CMC - Crestwood Medical Center    150 beds

* Owned or controlled by Huntsville Hospital

The judge presiding over the hearing will give his decision in a matter of weeks.


Monday, March 25, 2013

Hershel Graham Murder Trial Set for April 1st

Hershel Dale Graham, the admitted killer of David Martin Andrasik, will face trial on April 1st. We understand there were repeated delays in pre-trial hearings, so this like many recent trials in Franklin County may again be delayed. If convicted, Graham faces 20 years to life in prison.

We understand that Graham, a former professional athlete, now claims health problems would make prison an undue hardship on him. The only undue hardship any intelligent, caring person should consider is the hardship of Carla Andrasik, now raising three young children by herself. We're sure the Hamilton unit for the aged and infirm has a place for Hershel Graham.

Understandably the Andrasik family is eager to see justice done. It's now been 16 months since the unarmed young father was shot in the chest at Graham's Red Bay home. We encourage our readers to join this page:


Four weeks ago, Lesley Hope Plott was brutally murdered by her estranged husband, who then attempted suicide. Like the Andrasik family, the Plott family now faces a long road for justice in Franklin County. They have asked that we feature their Facebook page and request our readers to join the group:


We would like to say this in the kindest, yet firmest way possible. Young women...old women...or any in between, if he hits you, punches you, kicks you, slaps you, he will not at some point hesitate to kill you. 

You made the choice to marry him. It can't be undone, but you can leave before you or your children die. If you have family, go to them. If there is no one, the number for Safe Place is in our left sidebar. Use


Sunday, March 24, 2013

DHR Doesn't Practice "Alabama First?"

Several months ago we were asked to provide information on a certified Tennessee charity, Turning Leaf Counseling and Educating Services Inc. This entity is run by a Rascaltown, Tennessee, resident Angel Gieske. Ms. Gieske's involvement with local divorce/child custody cases seems twofold.

Counseling? Does Gieske provide counseling for a fee? If so, she would appear to be in violation of the law. She has already been taken to court in Tennessee for practicing without a license and lost, having to pay what we would consider a huge fine.

Drug testing? Several have asked what qualifies Gieske to drug test. This question is one that could, or could not, be slightly humorous. Anyone can buy a drug testing kit. Many employers do just that and regularly test their employees.

Yet drug testing can be highly specialized. Correct hand washing (to remove contaminants from money, etc.), special toilets with limited running water, sealed containers, and documented chain of custody are ideal. Yes, that costs money, so many agencies go with cheaper options.

Does Angel Gieske work as a contract employee? Was no Alabama resident available for this position? These are Lauderdale County and state tax funds that pay for these services. We should demand accountability in all areas of employment and spending.

If you have information concerning any unqualified employees of DHR, illegal employment, or just information related to Turning Leaf Counseling, please contact us via e-mail. Also please contact the website Stop DHR Corruption.

Editor's note: Many small communities just across the Tennessee state line use Alabama mailing addresses. This could be the case with Gieske's legal address. DHR could have hired her assuming she lived in Alabama. In this case it would be hard to prove malfeasance or fraud in her initial employment.

Related post: Who is Angel Geiske?


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Dog Ear at War with Possum Trot

I guess it was bound to happen. Just when we thought Dog Ear was about to hit the big time with a new sewage to fertilizer plant, the whole thing's gone to Sheffield in a hand basket, as we say in these parts. Yep, maybe those high falutin' people in Limestone County didn't want that sewage plant, but we sure did here in Dog Ear. We never figured we'd get stabbed in the back by those slimy snakes from Possum Trot.

Possum Trot has always been just a mite envious of us over here in Dog Ear. We got the slaughter house and the Wrecked Harley Museum. Not too many towns around this part of Alabama can say that. The trouble is Possum Trot is just north of Cooter's Creek and Dog Ear is to the south. It seems the Surefire Sewage Company would save 38 cents each truck load by not havin' to cross the creek. And that ain't all.

Possum Trot's biggest business is the portable toilet rental store. We don't mean to be crude cuz we promised Miz Shoalanda we would watch it, but their motto is "Possum Trot Pots for when you got the trots." It seems PTP come up with the idea to run a pipeline from their, uh, storage bin to the new sewage plant. They get rid of what they don't want and Surefire Sewage gets free raw material. I hear they're even tryin' to get ol' Lane Roland down to run the pipeline.

Right now it could go either way but I'm thinkin' the whole tornado in a tequilla bottle has set back relations between Dog Ear and Possum Trot at least 50 years. I guess Cooter's Creek is deeper and wider than I ever figured.

But no matter who gets the sewage plant, I'll still stay in Dog Ear for all your septic tank and automotive needs.


We hope Bubba's tale of woe is purely fictional. After all, no towns would actually behave this way...would they?


Friday, March 22, 2013

Tony Logan: It Ain't Over Yet

No, apparently the fat lady has not obliged us with a swan song for Tuscumbia Chief of Police Tony Logan. If you came in late, here's the skinny on his alcohol related arrest:

Looking over all the posts concerning just one arrest, Tony Logan should have his own blog...


While searching for an exact percentage of Chinese who eat dogs and cats (we've so far found only that they are "in the minority"), we came across the name of one that country's top food businesses: Meaty Dog.

You need to think about that, folks.


1902 Christmas catalogue from Davis Jewelry in Tuscumbia. Warning: Prices may have gone up some since publication. You may purchase this little bit of Colbert County history on eBay. Link


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Bribes? Where's the Proof?

We received this comment concerning the newly selected ambulance service in Florence and Lauderdale:

So what's the difference in this than what went on in Florence and the County? The bid was lower for Keller to do the ambulance service than Shoals. But Shoals won. The bid was lower for the county service but Shoals won. What about those who pushed for Shoals service in Florence? The new homes in Turtle Point and the new Mercedes that have been bought since then by those pushing for it? More underhanded crap going on over there like normal.

Interesting comment, and we wish its author would contact us via our e-mail with any info to back this up. As for the Florence City Council, none of them could live in Turtle Point Village since it's in Killen. As for the Lauderdale County Commission, we don't know the actual addresses of the four commissioners or Dewey Mitchell, the chair. We believe one commissioner lives in Rogersville while another lives in Waterloo.

No ambulance company will be, or can be, perfect; however, like Northstar before them, Keller failed to keep the promised EMTs on duty. In fact, it failed to keep the promised number of ambulances in Lauderdale County. Period.

If anyone has any proof that Shoals Ambulance bribed anyone, it should be turned over to the Attorney General. 


Others have commented on the number of RegionalCare employees who live in Colbert County. We wonder if the Colbert Commission even considered them. RegionalCare doesn't want a hospital that can't make money. No new hospital, and RC will desert the ship for greener dollar signs. Will Keller then give all the ECM employees jobs? No? So they will probably leave the area to find work. Nice thinking, Commissioners...


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

We're Naming Names...

Yesterday we blogged on the Colbert County Commission's petition to the state CON board. The commissioners asked the board to refuse RegionalCare authorization to build a new hospital. One of the most profound comments we have ever received came from "Uncle Gus" who asked if the commission would have acted similarly if the hospital were scheduled to be built on TVA land in Colbert County. Most of us would offer a resounding "NO" to that query.

So how should those in Lauderdale County and other areas which support the hospital fight back? Being human, the first thought that springs to mind is to boycott any Colbert County business or endeavor. Being logical, we do look beyond first thoughts.

The citizens and businesspeople of Colbert County, at least most of them, have nothing to do with their commission's vindictive stance. No, it's the commissioners themselves who should shoulder the responsibility for their childish actions.

District 1 - P. Rex Burleson

District 2 - David Black

District 3 - Jimmy Gardiner

District 4 - Emmitt Jimmar

District 5 - Roger Creekmore

District 6 - Charles Hovater

These six men are solely responsible for Tuesday's actions. They are the one's acting like five year-olds. They're the ones who should be held accountable. In days to come, we'll look at each of them.


In perusing the Colbert County official page, we did find something humorous. Almost all towns and counties will profess to have "excellent schools." Colbert County seems to have only "very good schools." Truth in advertising?


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Colbert County Commission Steps in It

The Colbert County Commission met Tuesday and, according to the TimesDaily, "approved a resolution that asks the state's Certificate of Need Review Board to reject the application for a new 300-bed hospital and cancer treatment center in Florence."

Individuals who move here invariably ask why Lauderdale and Colbert Counties can't work together. The first step in any joint effort is to at least pretend to try. In Internet meme patois, this was a huge FAIL.


It's not every day that Federal agents raid a local home. It happened earlier today in Florence, and three locals were arrested for their alleged part in a drug network that also dabbled in smuggling of untaxed cigarettes. Here's an interesting back story from Pen N Sword.


Any railroaders out there? Or maybe some history junkies? Here's an opportunity you won't often experience:


Monday, March 18, 2013

ECM: Human Life/DHR: Inhuman Tactics

We're bringing you a commentary on some recent events at ECM Hospital in Florence. We do know from others that layoffs continue. Other staff is lost to attrition.

Nurses? Floor nursing is strictly a young person's game, at least in this area. Why? We understand the nurse to patient ratio would be unacceptable in most areas. Check out the mandated nurse:patient ratio in California...than ask your floor nurse what his/her daily patient load is. It just might surprise you. (Hint: Be sure to ask at Shoals Hospital concerning night shifts.)

From a reader:
Regional Care wants to build a new multimillion dollar building.  It's going to be great for the economy of the Shoals area, and provide excellent medical care to the community and beyond. So tell me this, how is that going to happen when they keep laying people off?  So far this month they have laid off 2 registered nurses, 2 plant operations workers, 2 respiratory therapists.  That isn't counting the other positions they have done away with and told the nurses they could take a severance package, or apply for another position if one were available.  Regional claims they want to be employer of choice, and they expect complete loyalty from employees and staff.  Yet this is how they treat employees.

Administration has cut the number of nurses allowed to work for the given number of patients, yet we are constantly told to keep patients happy so they will give give good satisfaction scores. The public needs to understand that hospital care is not hotel care. Administration needs to understand that it isn't a sale they lose when the staff is minimal, but human life.


Now let's return to the wonderful world of Alabama DHR. We've focused on the blog Stop DHR Corruption before. Due to a number of recent comments, we returned to the blog to find many more local complaints against DHR in general and Judge Billy Jackson specifically.

We're not going to address all these complaints today. We will address two issues. Yes, we supported Billy Jackson in the last election. It was a no-brainer--unless he hired his entire family, his personal lawn service, and the UNA Pride of Dixie Band, he couldn't have been worse than Judge Jimmy Sandlin in wasting tax payer money on cronies. Think Judge Sandlin didn't hire his cronies? He married one of his hires, didn't he?

We believe Judge Jackson to be a moral man. We don't know who, if anyone, will run against him in the next election. In today's world the law is like medicine, very specialized. Family court requires extensive knowledge, knowledge preferably gained before becoming a family court judge.

That being said, we know that family court produces very unhappy "losers." We don't believe every complaint is legitimate. Yet the number of complaints seems staggering. If you feel you've been wronged by any family court in Alabama, visit Kathleen Raskin's blog. Tell your story there, but more importantly, look over the links that allow you to file complaints. Telling us will not help you. Telling Mrs. Raskin may help you in the long run. Complaining now, as loudly and as often as possible, will generate change where needed.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Just Who's Irish Here?

If we're all Irish on St. Patrick's Day, what are we the rest of the year? According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only three counties in Alabama have over 10% population that consider themselves primarily Irish--Cullman, Clay, and Cleburne.

As for all other Alabama counties north of the Black Belt, we're considered 5% to 10% of Irish heritage. Even that percentage may be high, since the term Scots-Irish is generally misunderstood. The term originally referred to King James' Scots relatives/friends whom he gave Irish land and their descendents.

And for those of you on Facebook today who just had to say, "Erin Go Braless?" Well, three lashes with a shamrock bouquet.


Several readers have asked what the "scoop" is on further arrests in the UNA Rivers Hall rape case. Unfortunately we have no news on the investigation and don't know if further arrests will be made.

We can answer some questions concerning UNA police. No, we don't think it either possible or advisable for Florence to take over the security at the university. The public should remember that most campus crime is fairly minor and that any major crime is eventually the domain of the Lauderdale District Attorney's office and their investigators.

Yes, indictments in many cases come slowly. Yes, nine months is a long time from arrest to indictment in some more minor crimes. Yet if the public wants swifter justice in the lesser...or greater...crimes, we should demand to pay more taxes.


Look for a future blog on the Florence Post Office/Federal Building from an actual expert on the topic...


Saturday, March 16, 2013

New Citizens: Only One From Shoals?

Yesterday we briefly touched on the naturalization ceremony held in Florence--the first ever for that city. Usually such rites are held in Birmingham, but can be held anywhere in the Northern District of the state. The article, while riveting in some ways, didn't tell us how many were naturalized.

Statistics from the federal government indicate over 600K new citizens are naturalized each year, but most of these are residents of five to six states with a much larger and diverse population base than Alabama. Still, the photographs from the TimesDaily article revealed more than a handful were there to claim their new nationality.

Sherhonda Allen, the article's author, interviewed two new citizens, one apparently from the Shoals area or surrounding counties. This gentleman, a native of Guatemala, had lived in the U.S. for almost three decades. We congratulate him on achieving what is a life long dream for many.

Still, with the number of immigrants living in the Shoals area, particularly from south of the border, to have only one local mentioned in the article seemed odd. Wouldn't those who live in the area feel privileged to take the naturalization oath in Florence?

Perhaps, just perhaps, most are content to do nothing, to evade, to continue to break the law. Yes, it costs money. Everyone has to pay to play. It's been that way since the fall of man. No one should expect a free ticket to citizenship. No one.


Remember this young lady?

It seems the most recent Lauderdale Grand Jury indicted her for leaving the scene of an accident with injuries, first-degree assault, and second-degree criminal mischief. Sources say the 20 year-old Nichols has remained in custody since her arrest.


Friday, March 15, 2013

And Now a Word About the Florence Post Office

Photograph by Brent Moore

The TimesDaily has a very interesting article about a U.S. naturalization ceremony that recently took place in Florence. While the story is about those who were becoming citizens, it does often refer to the building where the ceremony took place, only at the end telling the readers who may not know that the building houses a post office down stairs.

Every word in the article about the building was true, but it did leave the wrong impression to those who may not be familiar with Florence's main post office. Here's a few facts about the edifice. They need to be expanded upon, and we appreciate reader input.

1. The neoclassical building, constructed in 1913, was indeed intended as the post office for that fair city. It was long rumored that the plans were for a facility in Florence, South Carolina, but those who have been privileged to see the original drawings of the post office sent from Washington have noted the word "Alabama" on the description.

2. While it is a Federal Court House, it was not named until local attorney and current Lauderale license commissioner William Smith waged a three year campaign to honor John McKinley, a Supreme Court justice from Alabama. It was officially named in 1999, after only 86 years as a generic federal edifice. The court house facilities take up only 20 to 25 percent of the building.

3. Several individuals have taken ill over the years after climbing the front steps. The steep incline of the building's frontage is either a Nike wearer's dream or a cardiac patient's worst nightmare. We're not aware of any who have passed away at the post office itself, but we do welcome addenda to this point.

4. In 1960, Florence youth Bobby Isley died after sliding down the banister from the second floor. At that time local military recruiters were housed in the upstairs offices, and many young boys visited after school to talk with the personnel or to collect various brochures. It apparently wasn't unusual for the youths to attempt to descend in the most rapid manner, but the ten-year old Isley fell head-first and died later that February afternoon. Bobby's father was the assistant fire chief in Florence and well known in the community. Officials then placed preventative measures on the stairway.

5. 2013 marks the building's centennial. Anyone having a party?


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Making Records Isn't Bass Fishing

Go ahead, say it...Shoalanda, you've been into the cooking sherry again, haven't you? No, but we have been reading about the new Bass Fishing Hall of Fame that's coming to Cullman. Now you're probably saying...Desperate for an article, huh?

Not really. It seems there's actually a bass fishing trail in Alabama as well as one devoted to that obscure Scots game. It also seems fishing takes in more money each year than Google. The new BFHOF will be built just off I-65 at a cost of 17 million dollars. That means it might be just a little nicer than the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, as well as have a higher power bill which the operators will hopefully be able to pay each month.

This does beg two questions. First, was the Shoals ever in the running for this homage to scales and fins? Second, is the organization building this magnificent edifice a good role model for those in the Shoals who want the AMHOF to succeed?

Yes, we realize comparing fishing to recording music is like comparing a pineapple to a potato, but we're going to assume most musicians, songwriters, publishers, etc., belong to some kind of state union. Why not up the dues five or ten dollars a year? The resulting funds would go a long to way to alleviate the financial problems our Tuscumbia stepchild has recently had. It is, after all, the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.

We're pretty sure producing hit recordings is much more interesting than bass fishing...


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Still Missing...

Summer Burnette (L) and Brianna Landers (R)

As of 11:00 p.m., the two missing Brooks High students are still missing. Summer Burnette's father has thanked everyone for helping spread the word; he will be touching base with family and friends in the morning.


This is not the first time Summer has pulled a bunk. She left her mother's home in Tuscumbia two years ago and was not heard from for several days. This in itself can be a good sign that the girls are all right and just sewing some wild oats.


From a faithful reader: Somehow I find it humorous that the UNA rape and the Democratic meeting on the affordable care act are in the same post. Health care providers are getting raped by Obama Care.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Accountability & Terry Bowden

Our sources at the Florence-Lauderdale Detention Center tell us Eddrick Perez Harris has bonded out of custody while Deandre Alexander Harrison remains in lockup. The third suspect in the latest UNA rape case had previously bonded out on Sunday; he was not connected to UNA or the university's football program.

Our friend O.B. has commented on the two athletes being leftovers from Terry Bowden's recruiting program--basically "crime not only pays it plays." Others have commented on the entitlement philosophy of today's athletes. We have no doubt a little of each played a part in the events of this past weekend, but the most salient point?

Alcohol/other drugs. Now both the young woman and her alleged attackers will pay dearly for a few hours of "fun." The media regularly warn women to be mindful of their surroundings, but never seem to add that alcohol clouds such awareness.


Apparently Eddrick Harris had a very bright future in football, both at the university level and at the professional as well.


Okay, all you Colbert County writers out there, here's your chance to be famous...or maybe infamous depending on the subject matter:


Monday, March 11, 2013

What Is Wrong At UNA?

Five. Yes, reportedly five men raped a young woman this weekend. From the description of the incident, it was planned. At least two of the five (and there may have been more) were football players. Kind of makes calling the president a name look rather tame, doesn't it?

Pen-N-Sword has some info not published elsewhere, with an update in the works:

Monday, March 18, 2013
6:30 p.m.
Steelworkers' Union Hall, Corner of Wilson Dam Road and Avalon Avenue
Muscle Shoals, Alabama
Speaker:  Stan Johnson
"Affordable Care Act"
For additional information, e-mail or call 256-764-0016.



  Easter Bunny Arrives at Regency Square Mall!

Florence, AL...
The Easter Bunny arrives at Regency Square Mall on Friday, March 15 at 6pm and takes up residence at his Bunny Hut in Center Court until March 30th! Join 102.7 KISS FM, SSWA Recycling and Chick-fil-A, as they welcome the Bunny outside the Mall in front of Le Beau's - followed by a mall-wide parade and Easter Egg/Mini Moo Cow hunt! Baskets of eggs and Chick-fil-A Mini Moo Cows will be hidden throughout the Mall, but you have to check in at Center Court across from the Hut first and register! The KISS FM crew will be here broadcasting live, joined by a cast of characters to cheer the children on! Fun, prizes and treats! Ages 3 to 12 only, must be accompanied by at least one adult. See you there!


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Could You Do This?

It's two o'clock in the morning. You just fell asleep. The phone rings, and the caller tells you there has been a fatal accident. You dress hurriedly and make your way to the scene driving along fog-filled remote county roads. You arrive to find what no one wants to see. We're not going to describe what the dead driver looks like. It's too horrible for us to contemplate.

This is not some one-time thing. It's a regular occurrence--that is if you're a coroner. Could you do this job? Could you be on call 24/7 for little pay? No? Neither could we. Yet some do, and without them there would be confusion for families and even loop holes in murder cases that allow the guilty to walk.

It's been some time since we've had a local hero, so today we want to recognize Colbert County Coroner Carlton Utley. Mr. Utley is not only extremely competent, he's genuinely caring. We endorsed him for this position in the last election, and we will continue to support him. We can't imagine anyone who could do a better job at such a thankless but much needed task than Carlton. We salute you and we humbly thank you!


Do you read Pearls Before Swine? If you do, you know that Rat has given up Facebook. He now has an extra 18 hours a day. Most of us don't spend that much time online each day, but we suspect most who read our blog do spend some time each day surfing the net. Consequently, you know a little about a lot that goes on in the Shoals and surrounding towns. What if you didn't?

If you didn't, would you know your son/brother/husband/best friend was on the Shoals Most Wanted List? That distinct possibility has caused one faithful reader to contact us about a local young man. This man has made some mistakes, but nothing that can't be rectified at least partially.The sad thing is these mistakes could have been taken care of earlier without a felony conviction if he had just attempted to do the right thing. The longer he waits, the worse it will be for him. His family friend doesn't feel he can contact the family directly and has asked us to do so via our blog.

If you know this young man, please try to contact his family. We look forward to hearing that this man has done the right thing and has gotten back on track to a successful life.


Saturday, March 9, 2013


The man suffered from chronic migraines. When a migraine came on, and they could come on suddenly, he would be forced to lie down, his brain in a fog of pain.

One night this man (who lived far from the Shoals) stopped to have drinks with friends. As he got into his car to leave, he felt a migraine coming on. He thought he could make it home before the most intense pain hit, but he was mistaken. Realizing he couldn’t drive in that condition, he pulled over into a nearby parking lot and lay down.

After approximately half an hour passed, the man felt better and decided to return to the road. He pulled out onto what he thought was the main highway and then into the left lane. After accelerating to 60 mph, the man hit another vehicle head on, killing the driver.

The luckless man hadn’t been on the state highway as he thought, but on an access road. His defense attorney blamed the man’s migraine for the crash. The prosecution contended that, while the man’s blood alcohol content fell slightly below the limit at the time of the accident, the driver would have known his migraine had not subsided enough to let him drive safely if he hadn’t been impaired by the alcohol.

Unusual case? Yes. How did it turn out? The driver, although not legally drunk, was convicted of manslaughter and sent to prison for several years. Was it a fair decision? While we feel for the driver in question, we have to say yes.

Is this case important? It does show that not all “drunk drivers” are evil demons just waiting to kill large families composed mainly of innocent children.

We (and other local blogs) receive regular critical comments from a man we’ll simply call Mr. N. This man sent us a comment that we cannot publish because of some of his references, but Mr. N’s main thought seems to be that Derek Clayton should sue us since we called him “drunk.”

While the word “drunk” may not be nice, it’s a perfectly adequate and much used word, synonymous with “intoxicated with alcohol.” Many cities have laws that use the word. The term “Drunk and Disorderly” is still widely used, although some prefer “Public Intoxication,” which allows law enforcement to arrest those who may not be a danger to others, but could hurt themselves.

Until Derek Ray Clayton was arrested, we had no idea that he had been intoxicated while driving. We wish him no bad luck. We would not have mentioned this case in all probability had it no bearing on the Paradise Drive situation on which we’ve blogged for several months.

The prosecution in the criminal case, as well as the defense in the civil suit brought by Cole Sellner’s mother, will contend that Clayton was driving too fast for road conditions, causing the accident. The Lauderdale District Attorney’s office will further contend that Clayton would not have been driving too fast if he had not been intoxicated (drunk). Considering defense attorney Tony Hughes’ odd comment that Derek Ray Clayton is not guilty of criminal actions even though he was drunk, we have no idea what he will contend at trial. His m.o. from the Greg Ray case seems to be wear the other side down with numerous peripheral witnesses and countless questions.

Will Clayton be found “Not Guilty” of criminal charges? Considering his blood alcohol content, we doubt it. No matter the verdict, Cole Sellner is dead, and his friend Clayton has paid countless dollars to defend himself. It’s an old public service message, but still something we should remember no matter what any defense attorney may say:

Don’t Drink and Drive.


Friday, March 8, 2013

The Truth About Paradise Drive?

Paradise Drive in Waterloo never gets any good press. The street is steep, treacherous, and graveled. Lauderdale County says the much maligned roadway is safe. Most residents say it's not. Now with two suits pending, one civil, one criminal, a judge may make the final decision.

On May 30, 2012, Cole Sellner was a passenger in a vehicle operated by Derek Ray Clayton, 28. Clayton lost control of the vehicle, and Sellner was killed. Sellner's mother is suing Lauderdale County and its Commission:

Now the Lauderdale County District Attorney's office has brought charges of criminally negligent homicide against Clayton, whose blood alcohol content was over the limit. Clayton's arrest photo for this charge is at right; at left in another alcohol related charge in Huntsville from 2011.

Clayton's attorney Tony Hughes has said there was nothing criminally negligent even though his client Clayton was drunk at the time. Alas, the reporter who wrote the article didn't ask Hughes just how he figured that after three years of law school and all.

Which suit will be held first? If Clayton is convicted will that adversely affect the Sellner family's civil suit? Will Paradise Drive ever be safe? We hope the answer to the latter question is "yes."


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Two Quick Quizes...

You're having dinner with an old friend at his luxurious chateau. At some point, he pulls a gun on you and fires. The gun jams, what do you do?

A. Run for the border.

B. Knock the gun from his hand and throw it in the shrubbery as you hastily leave.

C. Pen a blog about proper dining etiquette.

D. Stab your host multiple times, slit his throat, take the gun and shoot him in the back of the head, then steal a car to escape law enforcement.

E. Option "D" plus stab his girlfriend for good measure.

Let's just say if you picked "E" as Shannon Brewer did, you may have good reason to fear a Capital Murder indictment.


Zombies are attacking the White House, Capitol Building, and Pentagon. What's your best bet to receive immediate news updates?

A. Fox News reporters who blame the Democrats.

B. ABC where news execs are desperately trying to channel the ghost of Peter Jennings.

C. Your great-aunt Ethel who dated a congressman while working in D.C. during WWII.

D. Tweets from visiting tourists caught in the crossfire since they thought the whole thing was part of a normal congressional debate.

In today's world, the savvy person chooses "D." Fox, ABC, and all other news outlets have their own desk jockey monitoring the wonderful world of Twitter. Your second best bet would be a local blog where the writers will add astute insight on the back story without fear of losing their jobs. Not the 1918 New York Times, is it?

We regularly read comments from a vocal few who claim such local publications as the Quad-Cities Daily and Pen N Sword aren't "real" news outlets. This week, the QCD scooped the TimesDaily on both arrests in the Dorian Hamilton murder case, while PNS is the only publication to mention the alleged attempted rape on the UNA campus. No, it's not 1918 anymore. Hats off to both Internet news sources.


Want to get regular updates from the QCD & PNS? Like them on Facebook:


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Why You Can't Be a Success in the Shoals

Having trouble making your mark in the world, even though you're really trying? This may be your problem:

1. He didn't make any money legally. He's in with the mob. Translation: He grew up dirt poor in East Florence, so how can he be a success while we're not.

2. I wouldn't do business with her. Something funny about all that new money. Translation: Her parents weren't rich, so how the heck did she get to be?

3. You need to watch him. No one knows where he came from. Translation: He's not a Podunk native, so he really shouldn't even be here, much less making any money.

4. Something fishy about all that success. She got a ticket for jaywalking thirty years ago. Translation: It doesn't matter if you're there firstest with the mostest, you can't be a success because of your distant past.

Not quite sure about some of this? Let's talk to an expert.

SS: We have Sylvia VanHaughty with us today. She's chair of the board for Acme Widgets, one of the Shoals smallest and least successful employers. Sylvia, tell us about Joe Sosmann.

SV: It seems Sosmann moved to our small town without anyone's permission. Anyway, he then weaseled his way into a job at Acme.

SS: Exactly how did the get the job?

SV: He filled out an application and just because he was more than qualified, some idiot supervisor hired him. Can you imagine?

SS: Not really. So what happened next?

SV: Thurlow Smithers knew about that speeding ticket Sosmann got in the 1990s, so he told me and I promptly had Sossman fired.

SS: So now Mr. Sosmann will have to rely on public assistance unless he can find another job?

SV: I certainly hope not. I don't believe in food stamps to start with and I certainly don't want my tax money supporting Joe Sosmann.

SS: So how is Mr. Sosmann supposed to live?

SV: He should have thought about that before he got that speeding ticket, now shouldn't he?

SS: Sylvia, do you know what secondary deviance is?

SV: I try to stay away from anything deviant, but if you're asking about our prison system, I'm opposed to paying any money to them either. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to leave or I'll be late. I never miss a service at the Uptown Old School and Money Church. 


Saturday, March 2, 2013

So...You've Got Contacts?

It's a very old joke, but some of our younger readers may not have heard it. It seems a police officer stopped a driver, looked at his license, and told the motorist he was supposed to be wearing glasses. The driver replied, "I've got contacts." The officer promptly shot back, "I don't care who you know, you still gotta wear your glasses."

Does it really matter whom we know? Let's look at two tales from Lauderdale County. A husband and wife started a small business in the eastern end of the county. The husband had a regular job, but both worked hard to make the business a success. Most of their advertising was done by word of mouth, and over the years they developed quite a following for their unique business.

Yes, their business was unique in the Shoals--it was the only one of its kind within a 50 mile radius of the small town. The town was also home to a very rich man. He wasn't a native, but in some ways he had put the small town on the map. The rich man had a son who frequented the local business, but he wasn't happy with it. It didn't cater specifically to him--mainly because it just wouldn't have been profitable. This high school student asked his father for money to start his own business.

Now the young man obviously could have taken part of this money and used it for advertising, but he didn't really have to. Why? The mayor of the small town made a point to publicize this "new and unique" business, even though there had been one in his town for years. In fact, a relative of the owner worked for the city. Of course that meant she wasn't a millionaire and contributed little to the town's tax base. That does make quite a difference, doesn't it? The older business eventually closed, as did the newer endeavor when the young owner left for college. Now the town doesn't have any revenue from either business. Brings a tear to your eye for them, doesn't it?

The second tale is different in many respects, so we'll use real names. The Louis Rosenbaum family did much for their adopted hometown of Florence. The family gave land for a library and over the years contributed much more than most people know to our wonderful trove of books on Wood Avenue.

The basement of the old library housed the processing center for books taken into circulation. Each book was encased in a Mylar cover before being shelved. Obviously many citizens would have liked this done for some of their special books, but even if they paid, the staff just didn't have time. Each employee was told always to refuse politely any such requests.Then one day Mr. Stanley Rosenbaum entered the library with a new book written by his son. The director made a mad dash to phone downstairs--the Rosenbaum book would be an exception. Should it have been? We think so.

So there you have it--two very different cases of who you are and who you know. That brings us to the point of today's blog. If you haven't read this, please do so now:

Sad if true. Not just sad, but more? Are there grounds for a lawsuit? Even if there are, such suits are expensive. Again we say sad that this happens in Florence, Alabama, in 2013.


Friday, March 1, 2013

Contact Us?/Richard Edward Agee Jr.

You want to contact us? It's not hard; our e-mail is listed in the left sidebar, as well as an icon to reach our Facebook page where you can post or send a private message. If you can read and write, you can contact us. Thanks for your cooperation.


On the Navistar front, it seems the Barton plant terminated its chief metallurgist this past week. We've had questions concerning National Steel Car repaying pension funds. As yet we have no answers...


Pen-N-Sword has an interesting report on an alleged Franklin County rape; so far no word in the TimesDaily:


From L. R. Barrett:

Tomorrow 10:00 a.m.