Saturday, February 28, 2015

James Travis Murks Left Her Lying Dead In A Ditch

Shortly after we published yesterday, we received a communication from a regular reader. Her cousin had been found lying dead in a ditch just across the Tennessee state line. Our blog had just advised women to leave their abusive boyfriends; no, we don't have too much hope that this advice will fall on receptive ears, but if it helps just one...

Kimberly Johnson was 36 (We are using the name she used on Facebook). The Killen resident was a Bradshaw High grad and had two sons...and a psychopathic boyfriend. James Travis Murks is a long time Lexington resident who is now residing in the Loretto, Tennessee, area. Murks is no stranger to law enforcement.

In August 2013, Murks and his then girlfriend Jennifer Rhodes were arrested in a Lawrenceburg motel room with more drugs than a pharmacy. One month later, Murks presented at the ECM emergency room with several gunshot wounds. He told authorities that he and an unidentified woman had been attacked while changing a tire between Anderson and Grassy just outside Lexington. No one was ever arrested in the shooting, and authorities doubted Murks' account of the altercation.

Now James Travis Murks has run down his current girlfriend, leaving her to die in a ditch. According to Johnson's Facebook page, she divorced her husband in August 2014. By October she was in a new relationship; whether with Murks or someone else we don't know. We do know that the pair quarreled yesterday morning and he allegedly struck her with his Chevrolet S-10 pickup. Investigators stated both the front end of the truck and the windshield suffered extensive damage. In other words he didn't exactly slow down before he hit her.

Lawrence County, Tennessee, is holding Murks without bond. The charge of First Degree Murder in Tennessee can bring the death penalty. Too bad the executioner won't be using a monster truck...


Friday, February 27, 2015

Jason Dewayne Green Cops A Plea

Jason Dewayne Green, indicted in the shooting death of his girlfriend Shay Ledlow, has accepted a plea in Franklin County. The plea allowed Green to avoid murder charges; it also allowed him off the hook on four felony theft charges related to his Russellville salvage business.

Green will face Judge Terry Dempsey in 30 to 45 days. Dempsey can sentence Green to as much as 20 years, but we doubt that he will. Let's hope Green has to do more actual time than two years.


Ladies, if he hits you once, he will hit you again...or shoot you the next time and say you committed suicide. We here at Shoalanda don't know why Shay Ledlow returned to live with her abuser. No matter the reason, it cost her her life.


We understand the meeting concerning disenfranchising Florence voters in the Lauderdale County superintendent's race was sparsely attended; however, it seemed the consensus was Phillip Pettus' inane bill will not get out of committee. One attendee did want to know whom Pettus was shilling for. We do too.


A reader asked the definition of "drug trafficking." This seems to state it succinctly:

(a) This section shall be known as the "Alabama Drug Trafficking Enterprise Act." For purposes of this section, a person is engaged in a criminal enterprise for the purpose of trafficking in illegal drugs if that person violates any provision of Section 13A-12-231, and such violation is:
(1) Undertaken by such person in concert with five or more other persons with respect to whom such person occupies a position of organizer, a supervisory position, or any other position of management, and
(2) From which such person obtains substantial income or resources.
(b) For purposes of this section, "substantial income" means any amount exceeding the established minimum wage, as established by law.
(c) Any person who engages in a criminal enterprise for the purpose of trafficking in illegal drugs shall be punished as follows:
(1) Upon the first conviction of violation of this section, he shall be sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 25 calendar years or for any mandatory term of calendar years up to and including life without parole and to a fine of not less than $50,000.00 nor more than $500,000.00.
(2) Upon the second conviction of violation of this section, he must be sentenced to a mandatory term of imprisonment for life without parole and to a fine of not less than $150,000.00 nor more than $1,000,000.00.
(3) In no event shall the term of imprisonment or the amount of fine imposed under this section be less than the corresponding term of imprisonment or fine authorized in Section 13A-12-231, for the underlying violation of that section, including application of the Habitual Felony Offender Act, as determined by the type and amount of the particular illegal drug involved.
(d) The courts of Alabama shall have jurisdiction to enter such restraining orders or prohibitions, or to take such other actions, including the acceptance of satisfactory performance bonds, in connection with any property or other interest subject to forfeiture under Section 20-2-93 as they shall deem proper.
- See more at:

We don't know the specifics in any current local cases. We can say that from previous arrests and trials, it's usual to have these transactions on audio and video tape--more or less a slam dunk unless the accused can produce an evil twin.

It does bring up the case of John Wesley Akin. He's facing trafficking charges in Lauderdale after being convicted in Morgan on similar charges. Does he qualify for "Life Without?" We're guessing he doesn't since he had not been convicted in Morgan before being arrested in Lauderdale. It will be interesting to see if Akin will accept a plea and to learn his ultimate fate.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Meeting on Phillip Pettus' Theft Proposal Tonight

Theft proposal? Yes, Pettus wants to steal suffrage from the voters living within the City of Florence. The interesting thing is that we've had several e-mails from county residents against this and not one in favor. This would seem to be a hobby horse for Pettus, and we would dearly love to know just who has influenced him.

Tonight there will be a meeting at 6:30 at the Lauderdale School Board office to accept comments from citizens on this less than desirable plan. While Pettus represents most of Lauderdale, including Florence whether he wants what's best for that city or not, other Lauderdale representatives are Lynn Greer, Marcel Black, and Johnny Mack Morrow.

The weather is cold, and some roads still icy. We're nevertheless hoping that there's a substantial turnout against this half-baked attempt at placing the county school superintendent in someone's pocket.


From a reader:

For the last two days, the TOP STORY for the state of Alabama has been about Alaska.  I've sent messages, commented to the paper about this  but nothing has changed.  I'm wondering if they know that Juneau is not in the state of Alabama. Alaska is not the only state featured under state news.  I read each article to see if they have information pertaining to Alabama. Sometimes they do, but most of the time the other state's news should be under "Nation". I'm thinking of applying for the job to do the posting.  At least I know geography. Thank you for your blog.

We've mentioned this here and on Facebook. We can only say that trying to get a correction from the TD is tantamount to asking PresBO to actually use the words "Islamic terrorists." Of course, we once read in the Daily Mail that Harper Lee is from Monroeville, Alaska. Must be a conspiracy.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Personal Reponsibility?/Roger in Charge?

All you drug traffickers out there, don't worry. If you don't take responsibility for your actions, the local, state, or federal government will place it at your feet anyway.

From a reader on indicted drug trafficker Brady Ann Irons:

Charles Manson, Sirhan Sirhan and Mark David Chapman haven't killed anyone in decades. Maybe some of your readers would like us to release them all from prison. After all, we wouldn't want to be judgmental about people who made a mistake years ago.


Speaking of responsibility, just how are a 15 year-old and a 16 year-old roaming around the southeast planting various theft devices on ATMs?  There would seem to be much more to this story.


So just how would Roger Bedford (Ol' Blindy, as King Cockfight called him) be working for retired school teachers if he works for the AEA? Their pension is handled by the state retirement system, isn't it? But of course Roger would never mislead us.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Snow, If You Get My Drift...

Five inches in Lauderdale, six inches in Colbert/Franklin? Well, we did see a dead groundhog by the side of the road this weekend--obviously someone decided to take revenge.


We understand a member of the Andrasik family contacted Tom Smith concerning his one-sided reporting on Hershel Graham's murder trial. Smith replied he hadn't been there, he was just reading a transcript. Funny transcript that didn't include the prosecution's case...


Speaking of Graham:

We'll update his whereabouts from time to time.


Are you a non-custodial parent with visitation problems? Whatever your situation, you should be very interested in this organization:


Huntsville Public Library
915 Monroe Street
Huntsville, AL 35801


Today's blog title we took from a Mr. Moto book. A little bit of 21st Century trivia: A recent Jackie Kennedy bio relates that the son of Mr. Moto creator John P. Marquand took the future first lady's virginity in an elevator. Ahh, the romance of Camelot...


Monday, February 23, 2015

Hershel Graham & Tom Smith

Today Hershel Dale Graham reports to jail, to be taken later to Kilby Prison for processing, and then to his final destination which he hopes to be the Hamilton unit for the aged and infirm. Wherever he goes it will be too good for him.

Before killing a young husband and father, Graham was known in the Golden, Mississippi/Red Bay, Alabama area as someone who had shot his stepfather, a man who beat a girlfriend and dared her to report it, someone who fed his dogs gunpowder to make them mean, one who prayed to Satan, and most tellingly someone who once said he wanted to drive down the streets of Red Bay killing the innocent.

Graham will probably come out of prison more healthy than he went in. He won't balk at the prison food, but it won't be enough for him, so he'll lose weight. He'll be forced to receive treatment for his health conditions. He'll also probably be near his parents who will visit him regularly.

David Andrasik's family also visits him regularly--in the cemetery. Life isn't fair, and neither is our justice system.


Tom Smith?  Most of you know Tom Smith. He's called a senior writer at the TimesDaily. He covered Graham's trial and appeals. We don't know if Smith knows the Graham family or if he somehow identifies with Graham. We do know he has continually reported that witnesses said David shoved Graham.

Yes, three witnesses did testify to that "fact." They were Graham's father, son, and son's girlfriend. Three witnesses for the prosecution stated that David didn't touch Graham and that he had even tried to leave before being called back. These three were two neighbors of Graham and a Red Bay school teacher who was passing by and stopped at the scene of the altercation. Whom should we believe?

The Franklin County Times reported all these facts. Why didn't Tom Smith?


We really like to learn new things, and yesterday we learned that if someone commits the crime of drug trafficking and then stays "clean" for eight months, he/she should get off totally free. Really?

We have no idea what Brady Ann Irons has told her friends and family about her arrest last year for drug trafficking, but she was indicted last month. The indictment was reported last week, so yes it is NEWS.

Yesterday we published an account from one of Irons' theft victims. We had found it moving. Irons posted it was "ridiculous." No, Irons did not apologize, but not one of her supporters seemed to notice that. If she hasn't been arraigned, she will be shortly. Trafficking in any drug carries certain minimum requirements. She can't plead to a lesser charge, nor will she get good time or parole if convicted.

One of her supporters suggested we look at her Facebook page to see that she was reformed. We have no idea what that was supposed to prove, but we did look. What did we find?

Sorry, Wes. It seems you've been replaced since November. Don't worry too much; if she's convicted we're pretty sure the new boyfriend will soon find someone to replace her.


Roger Bedford to run the AEA?  Now there's a scary thought.


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Readers Speak on Phillip Pettus & Brady Ann Irons

From a reader on Greg Burdine & Phillip Pettus:

GREAT GREAT GREAT article on Greg Burdine. I had serious doubts when Greg was first elected but he showed up and proved me wrong too. He was truly a very caring and concerned Representative and not just in Florence but for the entire Shoals area and beyond. I never went to an event or meeting where he was not there. I never called or reached out to him in an email or phone call that was not returned, which is something that would be hard to say about any other candidate or political office holder around. 

The whole "straight party voting" trend is probably the worst thing that could happen in a political race. Not ALL of one party is great and not ALL of another party is bad. Not all democrats have the same views as Obama. I once read an article back in 2005 that was titled "Obama: Not Your Daddy's Democrat" which hit a cord with me. No, Obama was not my Daddy's Democrat at all but like many Alabamian's my Dad was raised a democrat and always voted democrat. I was raised democrat and as I have grown older have realized that there are good democrats and there are good republicans. There are also bad representations of both parties. Which is why I never vote a straight party ticket.

 No one ever should in my opinion but that is everyone's decision to make on their own. In this day and time, it is YOUR responsibility to educate yourself on just about every subject matter, not just politics. You decide which doctor to trust. You decide which brand of car to buy. You decide which school system is best for your kids. You decide which route is best to take to get to work. You decide which brand of shoes to wear. So why would you take an opportunity to choose who you want to represent you on a state, county or city level and just say "oh give me all of them folks right there?" Would you not want to look at each match up individually and decide which one best matches up with your beliefs or ideas? 

I'd like to run for office but as a lifelong democrat, I would feel obligated to run as a demo. As a person who has common sense, I can't run as a demo and win because of the straight party voting and because of this non-sense that all demo's are aligned with the Obama way of thinking. I can't run as an independent and be taken seriously. So, many really good people/candidates often do not run at all. That is how you end up with the Phillip Pettus' of the world. In a normal election back in the day, he would not have stood a chance in hell of winning an election. Same thing with a guy over in Madison County named Wayne Johnson. Mr. Johnson was elected in 2010 when the big change occurred all over our state. When the good people of Madison county realized they had elected an idiot, they quickly found a replacement and Mr. Johnson lost his bid for re-election in 2014 by another Republican.

I am sure this happened all over the state between 2010 and 2014. Prior to 2010, no one would have believed it could be done. Afterwards, its a new day in our great state. Now, I am not "outing" Phillip Pettus. So far, every time I have contacted him, he has returned my call or email. I have high hopes that he will do a good job for us in Lauderdale County or at least attempt to do good. And don't even get me started on the idiot Tea Party people. Just their name alone sounds like a bunch of little girls sitting around sipping on a fake beverage in a tiny cup, PRETENDING to be something they are not. Speaking of common sense, if we would stop fighting amongst ourselves here in America, we would get a whole lot more accomplished.


From a victim of Brady Ann Irons, moll to alleged heroin kingpin John Wesley Akin and indicted along with Akin on multiple Lauderdale drug charges in January's grand jury session :

Irons Pictured in a Social Profile & Five Mug Shots Through the Years

That addiction caused her to steal my purse and all my honeymoon pictures that were stored on my brand new camera! Both sets of keys to my car which caused me to have to get my car towed to Huntsville to have a new one made and pay for a rental car for a week. That addiction caused her to have no conscious and return any of it after she stole the money. She sold my iphone for $50. Maybe some time in jail will help break her 'addiction' that causes her to do terrible things to innocent people.

Editor's note: Irons is also wanted on an outstanding warrant from Southaven, Mississippi.


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Sales Tax Follies & Phillip Pettus

We've received several differing comments on how sales tax is administered in Lauderdale County. This is extremely interesting, and we are amending our previous numbers.

We previously used this state chart:

However, the city uses this formula:

We will assume the city chart is correct; however, it makes no difference in the conundrum facing Florence voters.


Rep. Phillip Pettus says county residents make purchases in Florence. They certainly do. So do Tennessee residents, Colbert County residents, etc. Shall we give them a vote in city elections? Or take away their vote in their own cities?

If we say Florence voters should lose their voting privileges in the school superintendent's race, why should they retain it in the county commission races? After all Florence has its own city government, as does Killen, Rogersville, Anderson, Lexington, and Waterloo.


Phillip Pettus also states that sales tax "is divided out by a formula." What formula? The CFO for Lauderdale schools indicates: Lauderdale County schools get two-thirds of a joint city-county one-cent sales tax. Assuming this is true, the entire one percent goes to schools. We will assume the county gets the lion's share since it doesn't benefit from any city sales tax.

Well and good, but how about personal property taxes? Other property taxes? Income taxes? Liquor and cigarette taxes? Even playing card taxes? How much of these taxes paid by Florence citizens goes to Lauderdale County schools? (We didn't include fuel taxes since those should go towards our highway system, but that is not necessarily a given.)


So Rep. Pettus is very concerned about money and votes going to the right place? Let's look at his campaign blurbs.

First we know he doesn't possess any advanced degree, certainly not a juris doctorate, and English was obviously not his best subject. Second, if Rep. Pettus is so concerned about Lauderdale County, why does he attend church in Tennessee. Yes, he says "attends." We infer someone drags him since he is not a member.

If, and it might be a big if, Pettus actually places any blunt in the collection plate, it goes to widows, orphans, etc. in Tennessee--NOT in Lauderdale County.

So, what's up with that, Rep. Pettus? We await your reply.


Friday, February 20, 2015

Audwin McGee/Greg Burdine

If you missed Audwin McGee's account of the Singing River statue snafu, here's the link:

What does this article tell us? First, since everything in life is a trade-off, we may infer Mr. McGee is at least very well to do. If any readers do not understand that inference, shoot us a private message and we'll elucidate you.

This seems to signal the death knell for both Florence and Tuscumbia's aluminum elephants. So what will Florence do with the money put aside for the rest of the landscaping involved in this project above the 20K in donations now collected? So far that has not been mentioned.


Greg Burdine - Local Hero

When Greg Burdine originally ran for the state house, we at this blog didn't support him. When he ran for re-election, we did. Why the change?

Some public servants actually do serve the people's best interest, and Greg was one of them. He fought for the new RegionalCare hospital; he was there for the public when needed. He was almost too good to be true for a Democrat...and he lost his second bid for election to a state trooper. Why?

We're making a very well educated guess that most District 1 voters simply marked a straight Republican ticket. Why?

If you need a will/property transfer/air-tight patent/defense for murder, whom do you call? An attorney or a state trooper? Unfortunately, most voters obviously didn't even bother to check Phillp Pettus out before they voted.

Props to Greg Burdine for his wisdom in the current taxation without representation attempted coup; red arrows to Phillip Pettus--either incredibly dense or incredibly dishonest. Tomorrow, we'll begin our investigation of Mr. Pettus. It will be ongoing until he leaves office...hopefully at the end of this term.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Disenfranchisement in Russellville?

A Russellville reader has asked about city residents not being allowed to vote for the county superintendent. We've found that in 1993, a Federal judge ruled that was illegal, but by 2000, it was the the method in place. Why?

We're still working on that, but in the interim, here's a comment on Phillip Pettus. The author has graciously allowed us to use his name:

My immediate response to the article in the TD was to send the writer the following comment. I'm probably now on the Suspected Shoalanda List. Doesn't do any good to write Rep. Pettus, he never replies. Neither does Danny Pettus, the County Commissioner. Not sure if it's personal or if they just struggle to read and write. It might explain their ignorance of history and current events.

To: "" <>
Subject: Lauderdale County Vote

So it looks like a lot of people around here slept through American History. Seems like one of the drivers of the American Revolution was ' taxation without representation is tyranny'. Or maybe the city residents will be removed from the tax roles. Or perhaps we have tyrants within our local government.

John A Nutbrown

Suspected Shoalanda List? Mr. Nutbrown is Number 100. 


For those who have asked, we do feel it would be very easy for the right person to stop any such unconstitutional would also be very easy to make the lives of the Lauderdale County superintendent and board members hell with petty grievances. (Don't laugh--we had one reader who suggested Florence voters could steal their tax money back--we don't recommend that.)


For our Athens and local history fans, today published a montage of endangered service stations within the state; however, the one pictured below shouldn't be on the list:

It was relocated and taken into the city park system some time ago. Thank God that we in Alabama occasionally do some things right.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Why Haven't Russellville Citizens Objected?

We've had some very interesting feedback on the subject of taxation without representation. It seems Russellville voters may not vote on the county superintendent. The right attorney could easily challenge this unconstitutional law; however, we're wondering why Russellivlle citizens stood idly by when this unjust law was enacted.

Again, ideally this position should  be appointed, not elected. We're sure many in Colbert County wish that was the case with their school system.


A reader has told us Phillip Pettus does not answer mail from his constituents.  For someone who claimed he would make such positive changes, his cavalier attitude is very unbecoming. We're also heard that Danny Pettus, whom we support in the next election for commission chair in Lauderdale, has not been as swift to answer as one would hope. All politicians should remember that an automated response is better than no response at all.


We see a retired school teacher, or someone claiming to be, has stated probate judges in Alabama don't need even a bachelor's degree and that he/she never made over 48K a year during a long career. First, it surprises us that a former educator wouldn't care what kind of degree the probate judge had, if any. We also have pretty good hunch that if this educator possessed a doctorate as Judge Daniel Rosser does, he/she would have made much more than 48K a year.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Just How Much Sales Tax Remitted in Florence Goes to Lauderdale County Schools?

We received a comment that was slightly nebulous. The commenter said (if we understood correctly) that we should check our facts on where Florence tax dollars go. Let's briefly look at sales tax.

If you purchase a retail item, with certain automotive, etc., exceptions, you pay 8.5% in sales tax:

Notice that 1.5% tax is remitted to the county government. Assuming Florence took in one million in sales tax in a given month (and we have no idea of the actual figures), $15,000.00 would be placed in Lauderdale County coffers.

Obviously, much of this money goes to roads and other expenditures beside schools. How much would the Lauderdale school system receive in Florence taxpayer dollars? While we don't have a figure for Lauderdale alone, we have found that in 2010, 27.92% of county school funding came from property and sales tax.

Yet Florence citizens are to have no say over who administers this tax? The Lauderdale school superintendent is working for Florence citizens as much as he/she is working for citizens of Center Star or Grassy or Central Heights.


A recent commenter in the TimesDaily stated the state's probate judges should fight the closing of mental hospitals as they have gay marriage. Does this commenter really think probate judges have any control over such state hospitals?


Another TD comment worth considering (be sure to read to the end):
  • This is in reference to the $3 million shortfall in the budget this year for Florence. I think what needs to be done is take that $3 million they give UNA, for which they don’t always know what it’s being spent for, and have Dick Jordan go down there and ask for it personally.


Monday, February 16, 2015

Attn Phillip Pettus - We Fought a War Over 200 Years Ago to Stop What You're Suggesting

The last time we looked, Florence is in Lauderdale County. Each Florence resident who licenses a vehicle helps support Lauderdale County Schools, but state representative Phillip Pettus wants to take away Florence's vote. Wanna bet he still wants their tax dollars?

So just how is Phillip Pettus qualified to change our federal constitution (no taxation without representation)? Here's his bio:

  • Twenty five years as a State Trooper with the rank of Captain
  • Twenty years as a volunteer fireman with the Greenhill Fire Department
  • Umpires for Alabama High School Athletic Association softball games
  • Member of the National Rifle Association, Alabama Cattleman’s Association and Lauderdale County Republican Party
  • Married to his wife Mary for twenty nine years, parents of three children and five grandchildren
  • Attends Loretto Church of Christ
We notice he doesn't list any educational achievements. We infer civics and government weren't his strong points.


Larry Stutts says he's in favor of an appointed superintendent. We're pleasantly surprised with that suggestion. We're not holding our breath, but it is the logical way to go.


A reader tells us there are no school zone signs at Tuscumbia Middle School. We suggest contacting the street department first. Let us know what they have to say.


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Statue Envy

It seems that Florence (and perhaps Tuscumbia) will not soon be getting its own music industry related statue. The city is coming up 120K short on funding.

The Sweetwater Arts & Entertainment District is also still just a name. The TimesDaily continues to call it proposed even though the city has done the proper zoning and, or course, proclaimed it so:

The TD also continues to call the new RegionalCare hospital proposed. We have to wonder at what point the word proposed will no longer be used?


That brings us to the announced DreamVisison theme park. Bryan Robinson says the next announcement will be the day the shovel hits the dirt. no one is going to be checking property transfers for a 1.4K acre land sale in the Muscle Shoals area? That brings us to TVA--can this hybrid organization even sell any land without an auction...a very public auction?


Backers for DreamVision? Has anyone considered the Japanese? Bryan Robinson is a partner to Ryan Baker who is a partner in Charleston Laboratories which is currently in a collaboration with the second largest drug company in Japan. On February 12th, a Japanese investment consortium announced a 430 million dollar investment in a new Indonesian theme park. That's pretty small potatoes compared to 3.5 billion, but that investment would reflect the lower cost of production in that county.


One of our wittier readers had an interesting question concerning the new park: Will they be moving the Coon Dog Cemetery as well?


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Another New Trial Date for Jason Dewayne Green

His most recently postponed trial date was July of last year. Now accused murderer Jason Dewayne Green is slated to face the Franklin County Justice system in early March. We've lost track of the number of postponements that have plagued Shay Ledlow's family's attempts to see justice done.

If you need catching up on the various alleged crimes of Jason Green:


Remember Donald Wayne Darling II, the young man who brought such angst to the Lauderdale County District Attorney's office?

It seems he's again in the news:


Happy Valentine's Day to all our readers!


Friday, February 13, 2015

Hershel Dale Graham Will Now Go To Prison...

The Alabama Supreme Court has refused to hear Hershel Dale Graham's appeal in his Franklin County manslaughter conviction. This was the fourth and last appeal that Graham could have hoped for. Graham, now 51, will serve only two years in actual confinement, unless he's less than cooperative in prison--that's always a possibility. Graham is expected to appear before Judge Terry Dempsey one final time next week, after which he'll be taken into custody--over three years after he took the life of a young husband and father.

We previously reported that Graham had moved to Florence. This was in error; Graham's son is now living in Lauderdale County, while Graham himself continues to live in his father's home where the November 2011 Red Bay shooting took place.


Christoper Martin, a man with no record of violence, got 20 years for shooting a man whom he had invited into his home. Neeler Keeton, a man with no record of violence, got 20 years for shooting a man who had struck him with rebar. Hershel Graham, with a juvenile record of violence, gets only two years for shooting a man whom he called back onto this property? Welcome to our justice system. Thanks again to Joey Rushing, Franklin County prosecutor, who fought to have Graham put away.


Everyone knows what tomorrow is, right? So do you know who the "Ambassador of Romance" is? You don't? Well now you do...

Yes, the man's talents are endless.


Several have chastised those who have taken on the mantle of skeptic concerning DreamVision; however, most of these individuals may not be aware of many similar, albeit on a lesser scale, schemes that have plagued the Shoals over the past 20-30 years.

If it really is in the works, we see the Chinese and Arabs are mentioned as the main backers. Arabs? The ones who won't rent hotel ballrooms to gay couples? That doesn't quite seem logical. That leaves the Chinese.

And we certainly had a wonderful experience with a Chinese businessman last year, didn't we? Zing Zang Zung still missing in action?


Thursday, February 12, 2015

The TD Said What About Roger Bedford?

From today's TimesDaily:

How legislation, including a bill brought last year by state Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, has not been passed in our Statehouse is a tribute to the power of the lobby these legalized loan sharks have created. Oddly, or perhaps tellingly, the opposition to Orr’s bill was led by a Democrat, Roger Bedford, of Russellville, who failed to retain his state Senate seat in November’s election.

We'll just let our readers digest that statement. Feel free to send comments.


Infrastructure? We were about to blog more about the road/highway situation any DreamVision park might produce here, but we see the TD has done an amazingly adequate job of enumerating problems that would face the proposed theme park.

However, one important problem should be stressed. DreamVision can build its own power plants, It can build its own waste water plant. It can build its own natural gas pipeline. What DreamVision cannot do is build its own state/county highways.

Think the State of Alabama could manage an adequate upgrade of Hwy 184 by 2019? Perhaps we should ask residents of Hwy 43 in northern Lauderdale County how they're enjoying their four-lane to the Tennessee state line completed on schedule in 2002. Oh, wait, no they're still working on that...only 13 years behind on the completion date.


It seems the question on every thinking person's lips is "What's the scam?" Things it could be:

1. Scam for money by semi-delusional persons.
2. Totally delusional participants who really believe they can pull this off.
3. Rick Silanskas is actually Sacha Baron Cohen or Andy Kaufman (hey, they said he'd come back) and the entire Muscle Shoals area is about to become the brunt of one huge practical joke.


Yes, apparently Bryan Robinson is a business partner of both Gary Baker and Ryan Baker. He seems to have a lot of businesses with a lot of partners. Nothing wrong with that, but are any of these enterprises actually making any money?


How to conduct business in the Shoals: Hire or elect the most qualified person, then fail to pay them enough, lose the wonderful asset, then be forced to pay his/her less competent successor much more than the original asked for in a raise.

Translation: Colbert County, perhaps you should reconsider your latest policy on salary increases.


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Coach Jody Lanier/LogicLand Theme Park

First, we want to stress that no one here hates Muscle Shoals City or Muscle Shoals High School. Any past blogs about either have been initiated by concerned citizens/parents. That being said...

A reader who felt we "hated" Muscle Shoals, has informed us that boys' basketball coach Jody Lanier has just resigned. The info was from a very reliable source. Is it true? We haven't been able to verify it.

What we can definitely say is that Muscle Shoals lost last night to Lee High of Huntsville...actually they didn't just lose, they got skunked as some of the males out there might put it, with the final score of Lee 60/MSH 31.

We wish Coach Lanier the best whatever the truth of the matter.


Let's visit LogicLand, that much maligned theme park. First we'll take a ride on the infamous NitPicky. DreamVision say its 5K acre park in Ft. Worth will cost 3.5 billion. So will its 1.4K acre park in Muscle Shoals where property and labor are cheaper. Hmmm, not very logical is it?

Let's next skip over to the Semantics ride. Florence investment broker Bryan Robinson says his business is "purpose driven." Silly us...we thought all investments had a purpose--to make money. No, inane semantics don't speak well of this business. Neither do referencing entities like the Alabama Music Hall of Fame which has never heard of DreamVision.

Robinson also says the money, all seven billion dollars of it, is already secured. It's so unlikely to come from just one source as to be 99.99% impossible. So how did Robinson, from Killen/Florence, secure this huge investment?

Does having a former Disney executive vice president on board mean anything? According Wiki, Disney has approximately 60 vice presidents and executive officers over its theme parks alone.

The property? Some say the Muscle Shoals reservation; we say not enough room for adequate entrance and egress. Between Tuscumbia and Littleville? Much more likely, but not in Muscle Shoals.

All our readers out there know the expression "pillow talk?" It means that if DreamVision had been looking into property here, there would have been at least some gossip, whether originating from pillow talk or from office staff snooping.

The opening is scheduled for 2019. Save the date?


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Questions for DreamVision/Provident Global Capital

First, Shoalanda is an invited guest at tomorrow's press conference. We're guessing the QCD and PNS are also. Are we going? No, our pet raccoon still has hepatitis. (We're going to owe Woody Allen royalties on that one day.)

Here's the official document sent to our e-mail:

Press Conference

The DreamVision Company Announces Development
of World’s Largest Theme Park in Muscle Shoals, Alabama

Wednesday, February 11 at 11 a.m. CST

What: The DreamVision Company, based in Fort Worth, Texas, is announcing its development of two of the largest theme parks in the world: DreamVision SoundScape in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, to cover approximately 1,400 acres; and DreamVision Mountain/DreamScape in Fort Worth, Texas, which will be situated on approximately 5,000 acres. In addition to the theme parks, each property will include golf courses, water parks, hotels, theatres, concert venues, retail and more. Both parks will be built simultaneously, which has never been done by a single company.

When: Wednesday, February 11 from 11 a.m. to noon CST

Where: Marriott Shoals Hotel, 10 Hightower Place, Florence, Alabama 35630 – Main Ballroom

The DreamVision Company is a family-oriented entertainment and media privately-owned enterprise with four business segments: CGI animation & film, live theatrical productions, music and theme park resort destinations.
·         Rick Silanskas, DreamVision CEO/Chairman and award-winning composer and producer
·         Ron Logan, DreamVision Chief Creative Officer and former executive vice president and executive producer for Walt Disney Entertainment
Press conference topics including but not limited to:
·         Details about the park including visuals
·         Approximate opening date
·         Estimated employment
·         Additional ventures and details

NOTE: Live streaming of the press conference begins at 11 a.m. for those who cannot attend in person. A recording of the press conference will be available on the same link. Click here to participate:

RSVP: If you plan to attend the conference in person, please email in advance. Thank you!

On-site PR contact:
Kathy Siefert
Marguarite Clark Public Relations
404-441-3669 – mobile

For more information:
Trisha Clayton                                  
Marguarite Clark Public Relations


Looking at the invitation, we notice Bryan Robinson's name is not on the list of speakers. Since he's local, why isn't it? In case you missed the skinny on Bryan Robinson's local companies (at least two of them):


A reader has pointed out to us that the name Provident Global Capital bears a great similarity to Provident Funding, It's certainly not illegal, but could be misleading to some.

Robinson and his wife Rachel and assorted others seem to have founded at least five corporations in the Lauderdale County area. Bryan Robinson also has an office in the Keystone Centre, apparently having moved there from his Tombigbee Street location. 

Twenty years experience. As our faithful reader said, is that combined? Combined with whose?


Tomorrow's press conference seems to be limited to one hour. The Ft. Worth conference did not allow any questions, at least we have been informed that was the case. 

So, anyone want to buy into Shoalanda's Hoverboards? We'll bring you what your parents thought would be here by 1999.


Monday, February 9, 2015

DreamVision Press Conference Invitation Only?

It seems not everyone who might wish to ask DreamVision CEO Rick Silankas a question about his proposed multi-billion dollar theme park will be able to. The upcoming press conference will be by invitation only. We assume the TimesDaily will be there, along with someone from Let's hope there will be some hard hitting fact finding in the works.


A reader questioned our use of Tony Mapes' photo while in character as Yolanda. We used that particular picture since it is his public persona--one that he uses to make money. After all, say "Barry Humphries" and see how many recognize the name. Say "Dame Edna" and everyone knows exactly who you mean.

As for Mr. Mapes coming to Alabama to perform weddings, his website indicates he's being inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame on February 11th. That just might take precedence.

So, congratulations, Tony!


Back to DreamVision, a reader has asked what we really think of it? Really? Can you say "Ponzi Scheme?"


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Questions About Wesley Lee Tidwell

In December 2013, Killen police officer Wesley Lee Tidwell was arrested for misdemeanor domestic violence. He has now taken a guilty plea which involves a type of anger management training and will serve no jail time. A reader has asked if Tidwell may still legally carry a gun.

While Alabama law does not prohibit such, federal law does indeed prohibit Tidwell from purchasing or carrying a firearm. In other words, his law enforcement days are over. Or are they? We have heard of persons prohibited from possessing guns running for sheriff and being elected.

Tidwell continues to serve as a volunteer fireman for the town of Killen and as an employee of the maintenance department. The 33 year-old Tidwell was also in the news a few years ago for tasing a suspect, but was cleared of all charges in that incident.


Tuscumbia Chief Tony Logan has contacted us concerning the non-working flashing sign on Cave Street that indicates a school zone. The timer has been reset, and Tuscumbia officers will be monitoring the sign to ensure it continues to work properly.


Chief Logan also informs us there is renewed interest in the homicide investigation of Mr. Elbert Farley Davis Jr. We sincerely hope this heinous crime can be solved. We know the Tuscumbia police remain dedicated to finding Mr. Davis' killer


Saturday, February 7, 2015

"Yolanda" Will Come Here to Marry Couples?

We read with interest the list of those ordained to marry in Alabama who will perform same-sex ceremonies in Colbert and Lauderdale Counties...

Let us digress here that one reader called us a choice name for even mentioning it. Needless to say she is now banned. Our publishing a list of those who will offer these rites is not an endorsement of such.

Back to Yolanda, it seems that "Yolanda" actually lives in New York. This is a link to his page:

We doubt he, or should we say she, will travel to Alabama to wed anyone without quite a large fee.


Who can perform marriage ceremonies in Alabama? From the Alabama Code:

Code of Alabama at 30-1-7

Persons authorized to solemnize marriages.

(a) Generally. Marriages may be solemnized by any licensed minister of the gospel in regular communion with the Christian church or society of which the minister is a member; by an active or retired judge of the Supreme Court, Court of Criminal Appeals, Court of Civil Appeals, any circuit court, or any district court within this state; by a judge of any federal court; or by an active or retired judge of probate.

Notice the Code says "may." It does not say it is required of him.


And just because we know someone will ask, no, Yolanda is not Shoalanda's sister.


Friday, February 6, 2015

Shoals Scholar Dollars & UNA

It seems that both the Lauderdale and Colbert County Commissions have turned down a request from Shoals Scholar Dollars for a monetary donation. Both bodies have stated they will reconsider the request at the time of their next yearly budget meeting.

If you aren't familiar with the Scholar Dollars program, it provides free tuition to any Alabama community/junior college for any local student maintaining a certain GPA in high school and during their time in community college. Who is taking advantage of this program and what will it mean to the University of North Alabama?

First, we're going to divide high school seniors into two categories:

1) "If I can get the first two years of my college tuition completely free, I would be an idiot not to avail myself of the opportunity."

2) "Community college? No way; Mummy and Daddy are paying for me to have an upper crust college experience at (Alabama/Auburn/Harvard/Agnes Scott)."

Observant readers may have noted that we didn't include UNA in that last option. We have little doubt that those students who fall into category two are not considering attending our local university. UNA has faced monetary woes for many years. It has always been one of the state's poor stepchildren when it comes to funding. No, Shoals Scholar Dollars will not be assisting freshman enrollment at UNA.

The university has in the past decade turned to China and other countries for much of its student base. Is there a saturation point? We're sure there's one somewhere, but at what enrollment level, we don't know. The university's golden cash cow Zing Zang Zung seems to be missing in action. We're reminded of Andy Warhol who would collect precious gems only to toss them onto the canopy of his bed and promptly forget they were there.

While we have no doubt UNA has no desire to even remotely consider this option, Athens State University decided several years ago to cater to only juniors and seniors. It simply found it almost impossible to compete with the many local community colleges and made a last ditch effort to stay afloat...and it worked amazingly well.

We have no doubt that the Scholar Dollars program is a game changer. Our only question is how big of one.


Monday is fast approaching and with it the advent of same-sex marriage. Will there be a run on local courthouses for licenses? We're guessing there will not be such a stampede locally, but there are some who have already announced they're ready to perform such ceremonies;


Thursday, February 5, 2015

A Shout Out to Texas Road House

A reader asked us if we would give a shout out to the Florence Texas Road House. Why? It seems that the restaurant, or its parent company, paid the entire funeral expense for Kayla Howard Glover, one of two murder victims in an unsolved Muscle Shoals shooting.

Funerals are expensive, and most restaurants would have simply made a donation, and probably a small one at that. If you're looking for a casual eatery tomorrow night, we suggest you try the Texas Road House.


Once upon a time in Florence, a man in his early middle years worked for a large company that comprised part of a family owned empire. When the man died suddenly, his mother asked a friend to pick up a $500.00 death benefit she believed was coming to his estate. Since the person she asked to help with the estate had also at one time worked for one of these family owned businesses, he was aware of the death benefit and happily agreed to pick up the check for the older woman.

Alas, when the gentleman arrived at the business office, he was told there was no benefit. When he remarked that he had once worked for a sister company and such a death benefit had indeed been mentioned in his hire-on packet, the company representative stated, "Yes, but we've never actually had anyone to die while working here."


The UNA football team lists 64 players for the 2014-15 school year. Of those 64, six have now been arrested since the start of the school term, or roughly 9%. That's not including some who were arrested last year and reinstated to the team.

We have to wonder what the overall percentage of student arrests is?  We'll venture a guess that it isn't nearly that high. The team's most recent arrest:


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

It's a Conspiracy!/Ugly Face?

A reader sent us this question: What are the odds of EVERY SINGLE GAS STATION in the Shoals having THE EXACT SAME prices for Regular gasoline????

Our only thought: It's a conspiracy! Seriously, we don't know, but it is an interesting question. Any reader comments?


No matter what you may think of Judge Roy Moore, Kyle Whitmore of has christened him the "Ugly Face" that LGBTs will call to rally against. Perhaps for Moore, it's just any issue to keep him in the spotlight.

Some past actions of Judge Roy Moore:

1. He called the state's first case of mad cow disease a plot to help pass an animal identification system.
2. He told his replacement Chief Justice Gorman Houston that he was going to hell.
3. He placed a granite monument depicting the Ten Commandments inside the state judicial building...complete with the wording "c. Roy Moore." (We're pretty sure God doesn't like plagiarism.)
4. He said in 2005 that homosexuality shouldn't be tolerated in Alabama. (We're not weighing in on the right or wrong of that particular orientation. We just want to be sure Moore doesn't decide to not tolerate them with gas chambers.)


We get, well...ridiculous mail. Yes, we recently received an e-mail that asked why the Quad-Cities Daily didn't notify the Baskins/Glover families of the Muscle Shoals Police conference concerning the double murders. 

Let's see...first, why are you asking us at Shoalanda Speaks (of course, no one can convince these particular readers that we have no integral connection). Second, we're not aware that the QCD is responsible for notifying anyone about anything. It would seem logical that the Muscle Shoals Police would have notified these two families, but perhaps their previous encounters with some family members persuaded them that their appearance at the news conference would be in no one's best interest.


Yes, for those who asked, Rodney Ivey is a cousin to recent murder victim Gary Baskins and nephew to Jerry Lee Ivy:


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Local Outlets Raise Gas Prices Early

It seems a strike may affect 10% of the nation's oil refineries and gasoline delivery for March. Yet yesterday was only the second day in February and prices are up. How much?

News articles are stating gas prices are up one cent a gallon in Los Angeles, but in the Shoals the price was up at most outlets anywhere from 12 to 17 cents. Interesting.


From a Sheffield reader: On January 6th of this year, Sheffield Utilities Department was notified of 9 specific street lights that were out, or totally missing. 7 are located between the intersection of U.S. HWY 43 and Hatch Blvd and O'Neal Bridge, with 3 of these actually on the Sheffield side of O'Neal Bridge, itself. To date, only 2 of the 9 reported have been fixed. One would think that SOMEONE would take some initiative, or perhaps offer up some over-time hours, so SOMEONE from the utility department would see that the others get fixed.

Reminder, we are happy to post any statement from Sheffield Utilities at any time. We know that lights on O'Neal Bridge can be problematic; new fixtures are scheduled to go up when the bridge is painted this spring/summer.


On the DreamVision front, the Texas company has announced news conferences for next week in both Ft. Worth and Muscle Shoals. The only real news immediately being put forth is that the Ft. Worth Park will be called DreamVision Mountain.

We're predicting the Muscle Shoals park will be dubbed "DreamVision Water Treatment Plant."


The TimesDaily, an entity that officially doesn't name misdemeanor arrestees, recently announced the three UNA football players arrested for underage drinking will have their cases sealed. Hmmm, what's wrong with this picture? Have your case sealed, but be named in the TD once more. Have your case result in a conviction, and the TD won't publish your name. Ah, down the rabbit hole once more.


Monday, February 2, 2015

Is Laura Fitterman on Suicide Watch?

What is a Safety-Smock? From Wiki: An anti-suicide smock, Ferguson, turtle suit, or suicide gown is a tear-resistant single-piece outer garment that is generally used to prevent a hospitalized, incarcerated, or otherwise detained individual from forming a noose with the garment to commit suicide. The smock is typically a simple, sturdily quilted, collarless, sleeveless gown with adjustable openings at the shoulders and down the front that are closed with nylon hook-and-loop or similar fasteners. The thickness of the garment makes it impossible to roll or fold the garment so it can be used as a noose. It is not a restraint and provides modesty and warmth while not impeding the mobility of the wearer.

This is the garment Laura Fitterman was wearing in her Lauderdale County Detention Center mug shot. We don't recall seeing any pics of inmates wearing these before--these could be the welcome addition of our new sheriff Rick Singleton.



Yes, potential employers will check your Facebook page: Link

Maybe even your current employer will look at what you post. That is if you have an employer. You might not want one. Let's just say that if you work for Acme Widgets, you might not want to list your employment as: F*ck Acme Widgets. Just a hunch...


We love memes, but we usually forget them rather quickly. Here's one of our favorite unforgettable two:


Sunday, February 1, 2015

Anonymous Alabama?

We, along with scores of others, recently received a press release from a group called "We Are Anonymous." We're not going to publish it here, but the release stated that it was the first with more to come.

Looking on FB for such a group, we did find: Anonymous Alabama

We're posting the link for any who might be so inclined.


The flashing light on Cave Street in Tuscumbia that cautions motorists school traffic is entering or exiting? Apparently it's been out for some time. A reader has inquired; however, we're not sure whom to contact. If it's not working at all, it would indicate a wiring/contact problem. We suggest you try the Tuscumbia Utilities first and they can direct you further if needed.


TotallyDecatur strikes again: Our local newspaper has a section for "State News." Apparently, whoever has been picking items to include in this section has also been including articles from Alaska. Our concerned reader states there is often more Alaska news found than Alabama news.

Observant editors, aren't they?


Several readers have asked if DreamVision is connected to a former theme park outside Birmingham called Vision Land. No...two entirely different animals.

The DV press conference is slated for February 11th; at that time, more concrete plans will be announced for this proposed new theme park. How do we feel? Mehhh. Don't hold your breaths waiting for this one.


May the Shade be with you tomorrow!