Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Enforcing Traffic Laws

This is an article that I had hoped would never be written. As a former law enforcement officer, and having had relatives die in the line of duty, the subject of law enforcement is very close and dear to my heart.  I will always cherish every one of my experiences as a law enforcement officer.

When I was growing up in Alabama in the 1960s, I had few opportunities to know, or come into contact with, many law enforcement officers.  I had a cousin that was an Alabama State Trooper and once had a neighbor that was a trooper.  A distant uncle was once a sheriff.  My first 'brush with the law' resulted in my first speeding ticket in the early 1980s.  What I do remember about law enforcement officers of my youth was the immense respect shown to them, even by those on the 'wrong side' of the law. 

Even the TV shows of that time period glorified law enforcement.  Popular shows such as 'Dragnet', 'Streets of San Francisco', 'The Andy Griffith Show', 'Adam-12', and 'The Rookies' exemplified the offerings of the day.  Of those, it was 'The Andy Griffith Show' that perhaps had the most impact on me, but I wouldn't realize that until much later.  At the time I had little idea of what law enforcement officers experienced in the course of their duties.  That would change, too.

In the late 1980s I was encouraged to apply with my county's sheriff's department by a friend of mine.  Until that time I had never considered becoming a law enforcement officer.  Less than 6 months later I took my oath and began wearing a badge.  That experience changed my life forever.

In the years since I first put on a bullet proof vest and badge, I have seen many changes in the profession, both in technology, and in the way many individuals today view law enforcement officers.  I've been a witness to the worst....and best...that our society has to offer.  When I first began, 'crack' was just beginning to hit the streets of America.   When I left law enforcement, 'meth' was just beginning its rampage....one that continues today.

During my stint wearing a badge I've known dozens of really 'good' law enforcement officers.  These officers truly wanted to make a positive difference in their worlds.  These were, and are, the officers, that as parents, attend school functions, visit their childrens' teachers on 'Parent/Teacher' nights and love their country. These are the officers that hug their children and kiss their spouses before leaving to begin a shift, not knowing 'IF' they will see them again. 

I've also known law enforcement officers that managed, and still do, to give the rest a 'bad name'.  Some  of these officers are bullies.  Some are adrenaline junkies.  Many are prior servicemen that haven't managed to successfully reintegrate back into society in the 'peacekeeper' role.  Some are simply 'burned out', having borne witness to too much of the evil that mankind too easily inflicts on the world today.  Some take refuge in a bottle.  Some take out their frustrations on the general public....or their own families. None should be wearing a badge.

I am one of the fortunate ones, I guess.  I took my oath seriously.  I genuinely desired to make a difference in my community.  I strove to treat everyone I came into contact with as a human being first.  How they responded determined what course of action I took from that point on.  There is a lot to be said for 'attitude'.

I could go on and on, but I want to touch on what is troubling me with today's law enforcement, in general.  Public sentiment is always going to play a role in how officers feel about their profession.  As a whole, the law enforcement community deserves to be respected by the communities they serve.  However, this respect isn't given.  It's won.  It's won by officers doing their jobs as professionals. 

While some aspects of being an LEO can be 'glamorous', it is the most routine of duties that serve communities best.  These are patrolling and traffic enforcement.

Deliberate, methodical patrolling by officers has the greatest, most immediate, and most far-reaching effect on deterring criminal behavior.  However, it requires that the officer 'be seen'.  It requires diligence on the officers' parts, and that can't be accomplished if the officers spend the majority of their time at headquarters.

The other area having the most immediate impact on a community is traffic enforcement.  Speed kills.  Reckless driving behavior kills.  Disregarding traffic control devices kill.  Failure to comply with child restraint laws kill.  Yet law enforcement officers today seem to have an aversion to enforcing traffic laws. Why is that?  Is it because they have been advised by their superiors NOT to enforce such laws?  Are they 'too busy'? If so, that should be easy enough to verify by looking at their 'shift reports' (which are a matter of public record).  Or is it that they no longer 'care'?  Whatever the reason, the communities should be outraged.

In closing, the officers that daily rise to confront an uncertain day, determined to do their job with respect and dignity, will continue to have my most sincere and eternal gratitude.  For the others that are wearing the badge and uniform for 'the wrong reasons', and resist their sworn duties, you have my contempt.


Rebuttal: Early last week an acquaintance of mine received a phone call from the proprietors of Gingerbread Antiques.  He was informed that Gingerbread Antiques was being forced to close.  Their only option to remain open was to come up with $6K/mo in rent.  Only a few days earlier, the proprietors were discussing expanding the business by opening up the third floor.

Let your readers decide who is being honest.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Love Letters from Prison

“Is any of it really true?” We actually had someone ask us that question recently concerning several articles we had published over the years concerning a local thug/sociopath. It seems this man had placed his name on a prison pen pal site to meet women.

We sent links to this young woman which corroborated nine out of ten of our articles. We never heard from her again; let's hope she moved on to a higher quality of the male species.

There's nothing wrong with corresponding with someone in prison; however, we strongly advise all women...and men...to research what their new friend tells them. You might not be the only one sending the prisoner money and expecting a life with him once he's released. The word is “used.” Don't be it.


On a similar note, a young woman wrote to us several months ago about her best friend. It seems this young woman had become involved with an accomplished user who was on probation. This young woman was “needy” according to her friend and fell for his line...which we understand is very convincing, not to mention backed up by his totally enabling family.

The pair plastered their FB pages with pics of one another; then the neo-Eddie Haskell was shipped off to prison for new crimes against the citizens of the State of Alabama. The young woman has tried to move on, but her less than honorable former squeeze refuses to take down her photos and alter his relationship status.

The friend asked us what she could do. Our answer? Not much.

There's a very old saying: You knew he was a snake before you took him in. Think about your children. Don't they deserve more?


Care about yourself? Your family? Your partner? Then use birth control and vehicular restraints.

We once heard someone say they hated the word “restraint.' We hate the words “dead & decapitated.” If you don't use the proper restraints in your vehicle, that's what you and passengers may wind up being if your car rolls over ten times. The least of your worries will be the 500.00 fine. You could be looking at actual prison time. If you're old enough to drive, you're old enough to act responsibly.

That last statement also goes for all those using fireworks this upcoming Independence Day. It hasn't been that many years since an Athens father accidentally killed his young son while shooting off pyrotechnics. Be safe; take your family to a professional display.


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Muskrats & Malls

From Tuscumbia Muskrat: The biggest waste of Tuscumbia tax payer money is the continued employment of our incompetent Park Manager, Joel Kendrick. The Times Daily (again) delivered Kendrick's whitewash of the truth ... this time regarding the removal of the wooden Indian statue at Spring Park. Joel Kendrick's statement:“It had been kind of preserved when they did the work on it, but the underground parts were deteriorating,” “You can’t really preserve it. It had gotten to the point where we were afraid it was going to topple over.” (Statement taken from - Workers seek to salvage Spring Park tree - TimesDaily June 26, 2015)

First Kendrick admits that the statue was originally treated by the man who carved the statue...or as Kendrick so condescendingly put it, "kind of preserved." So for all these years did Kendrick even try to preserve the statue? I guess telling everyone "you can’t really preserve it" means that he never tried to treat it?!? Many concerned citizens questioned the deterioration of the wooden Indian carving, along with other ongoing issues at Spring Park. A few of these citizens posted pics of the neglected park, including pics of the statue's rotting foot... And that ladies & gentlemen is when all the neglect in the park got noticed!!! It certainly WAS NOT an outcry from a concerned Park Manager! Is anyone going to make the Park Manager accountable???


From Darren Rhodes: Jimmy Clemmons (Owner Gingerbread Antiques) turned in his notice last week. I never asked him to leave, or asked to increase his current rental rate for the space. The information you have in your article is 100% false.

(We await a rebuttal from J. Redmon.)


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Darren Rhodes & Gingerbread Antiques

For the past 8 years one of the most unique and interesting places to browse during a lunch break, or shop for collectibles in downtown Florence, has been Gingerbread Antiques.  Located next to FloBama's, one could spend hours inside the business and not see everything offered. The merchandise ranged from antique furniture and estate jewelry to collectible books, toys and militaria.

Last week, the proprietors of Gingerbread Antiques were given notice to vacate the premises.....or come up with $6K/mo in rent.  Needless to say, $6K/mo is an astronomically large sum.  It seems that the current owner, Darren Rhodes (President Shoals MPE--Mechanical, Plumbing, Electrical), has visions of turning the building into an upscale apartment building and has given all vendors, some of which reside out of state, until the end of July to vacate. When asked where potential residents would park, Mr. Rhodes reportedly said, 'That's not my problem.' 

It remains unclear whether Mr. Rhodes has sought/gained 'the go ahead' from city officials, or when any demolition/construction is set to begin.

All we do know is that Mr. Rhodes has made it that much more difficult to 'shop locally' and keep money in Florence.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Northwest Alabama or Nazi Germany?

We have had several comments about our guest editorial on restrictions at the Muscle Shoals football field. First, some questioned the publication of the article itself. Let's look at that.

The author lives, works, and pays taxes in that city. He/she has every right to question how such money is spent. If anyone can say he/she should not have a voice, they can say we should not have a voice. If they can say we can't have a voice, they can deny your voice also. Is this northwest Alabama or Nazi Germany? Think about it.

Next, comments: We had one “couple” on FB accuse us of deleting comments. None was deleted about that blog. If we delete, it's for language, etc.

This couple did not answer our request to enumerate what had been deleted. Our new policy will be to name those here in this blog who make accusations, but don't back them up. That goes for those (RH, you know who you are) who falsely accuse us of not publishing comments to the blog itself.

One final comment concerning the blog: It was written days before the young footballer was killed. We think we can speak for the writer when we say no untoward agenda was indicated. Our sympathies to the young man's family.

Want to write supporting (or not) any aspect of local government...as in misuse of your tax dollars? Send your blog to us at shoalanda.speaks@gmail.com.


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Jim Bonner Running for Office?

I would like to announce my candidacy for the Democratic nomination to be your next president

My platform:

1) all southerners will be tried for treason and if they admit their guilt as traitors may be re-admitted as conditional citizens.
2) all firearms will be confiscated and you will be issued a shelter dog instead.
3) one lane of every paved road shall be designated a bike lane. in the event the road only has one lane it shall be closed to motor traffic.
4) citizens will be issued healthy food based on a 1800 calorie diet.
5) the US flag shall be considered a military honor and anyone flying the symbol of world oppression other than active military personnel shall be arrested under the "stolen valor law"
6) undocumented citizens shall be in charge of food production and will be paid $15 an hour
7) because of the need to protect the nations food supply the undocumented citizen will be exempt from the gun laws.
8) the income tax will be repealed and replaced with a national food and marijuana tax.
9) all nuclear and coal electricity plants will be closed immediately. citizens will be issued three 270 watt solar cells. deal with it.
10) elected officials will be exempt from the above .

Did I leave anything out?


Good luck, Jim! You have our vote.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Basden's Grid Iron Girls? Sexist, Much?

From a Muscle Shoals reader: 

Muscle Shoals Taxpayers financed a Football Dynasty of 10 million dollars. The PUBLIC facility is locked. Residents are not allowed to walk on the TAXPAYER track at the Basden Dynasty.


Carolyn Stoner Mize - Muscle Shoals High School Guidance Counselor & GIG (Basden's Grid Iron Girls that raise money for him). Mize is mother to the "Baby's Daddy", whose mommy is Savanna Haddock as shown in the pictures.

Obviously Band/Majorettes are not allowed on field for SCHOOL PICTURES, but a baby, the mother and Carolyn Stoner Mize, mother to the baby daddy AND grandmother to the baby not only get exclusive use - but a baby sitter in the TAXPAYER'S air conditioned building.

NICE set up for the faMily, huh - KEEP PAYING THOSE TAXES, MUSCLE SHOALS CITIZENS. There is a group that take full advantage of riding on your backs.

The attached is a series of public postings on social media. Proof is in the puddin' pictures....




Tuesday, June 23, 2015

FLIP FLOPS, WINDS, and MUSICAL CHAIRS in Lauderdale County....

From a reader:

Billy Jackson was appointed by Bob Riley as the District Attorney in 2002 as a Republican. He ran for re-election in 2004 (that was a condition of being appointed), lost, then ran for won in 2010 as a Democrat as the Circuit Judge. After being beat by Chris Connolly in 2004, the paper quoted Billy Jackson's wife as saying that he "could not support the Democratic Party because of the issues of partial-birth abortion and gay marriage." Yet despite those supposed beliefs, he ran in 2010 as a Democrat on the same ballot as the most pro-abortion major party Presidential candidate in known history (Barack Obama). What happened to his values?

Now that the winds have shifted yet again, he wants back into the Republican Party. So much so, that the Democrat Judge is visiting the Republican County meetings and politicking for votes to switch again. Kind of like Musical Chairs the children play.

It sounds to me like we've got our very own Parker Griffith. The Flip Flop Candidates. How are we to believe what he stands for from one day to the next? He ran as a candidate under a party banner that he'd previously said he "could not support" due to core platform issues. Did he change his stance on those issues? Has he changed them again? Which side of the mouth is he speaking from today?

If a public official can switch from party to party whenever they want, as many times as they want, what then is the difference between the two parties? What  line separates Republicans and Democrats? Or, is it the WINDS that separate?

Is this the sound rational political wrangling of a person that we should elect as a JUDGE? 

It would be a bad move for Republicans to let Jackson once again switch parties, but a victory for the Democrats. Voter's confidence and trust in the stability and standards of the Republican Party would greatly diminish . Billy's reputation as a fairly horrible judge may be one reason the Democrat party is working behind the scenes to help him "cross over" once again.  Gil Self was allowed to switch parties recently, which was a tactical move when the GOP realized they might not pick up that seat in 2016 since Gil is popular and has access to a large number of high dollar donors for his re-election campaign. 

Jackson is another story. Virtually none of his colleagues and peers give a good report on his job performance - at least in private. At this point, the lawyers have a strong viable GOP candidate, Ben Graves. Graves has the qualifications (Florence Municipal Judge), the reputation, and the organization, to take out a widely disliked incumbent judge. With an experienced, conservative, viable candidate in the race, why allow a baggage-ridden serial party swapper that doesn't know what he stands for?

The Lauderdale County Republican Executive committee members would be fools to allow him to switch. They already let 4 Democrats switch parties despite being given a very clear mandate last year by the voters that they didn't want to put any more Democrats in elected office. Billy Jackson is incompetent, unaccountable, inaccessible, and untrustworthy. The Executive Committee needs to remember that they are elected by the Republican voters every 4 years as well. A number of longtime incumbent Republicans were kicked off the committee last year - including the sitting vice-chairman Buel Springer, who had served on the committee for 28 years. If the new committee starts acting like the old committee, the odds are that the Republican Primary voters will kick them out too. 




Monday, June 22, 2015

To Shoot or Not?

In May:

An Alabama State Trooper fired his weapon at a 38-year-old man who struck the officer with his car during an attempted traffic stop. When law enforcement caught up to the man, who suffers from mental deficiencies, they saw he had non-life-threatening injuries. The trooper pulled over the Honda Accord on the Old Madison Pike exit from Interstate 565 where the speed limit is 70mph. The car was clocked traveling eastbound in excess of 100 mph on I-565. Once the car exited I-565 and stopped, the trooper approached. The Accord took off, striking the trooper in the process. The trooper discharged his duty weapon and gave pursuit to John Mackopjak's vehicle. Mackovjak drove to a residence on Esslinger Court in Huntsville, where he was taken into custody by the Huntsville Police Department. Mackovjak was transported to Huntsville Hospital for non-life threatening injuries. The Trooper was not injured. The trooper drew his firearm and shot multiple times at the fleeing vehicle, the spokesman said, "because at that point the vehicle becomes a weapon," as he put it. Mackovjak had minor injuries to his upper body and facial area when they found him. Mackovjak did not fire at the trooper and it was not known have had a gun. The trooper's identity was not released during a press conference Friday afternoon.

Note: The man was later identified as autistic & schizophrenic, not mentally deficient. He had completed three years at UAH.


We asked four current/retired officers what they would have done. Here are their answers:

A Local Chief: In the scenario you have described at best there is a traffic violation involved. If the subject simply drives off and does not attempt to use the vehicle to assault the police officer or another innocent party there would be no justification for the officer to fire their weapon. Under the circumstances described the officer firing the weapon has the potential to pose a much greater chance of injury than the vehicle speeding off. Police officers are only justified in using deadly force in the defense of the officer or another party. This is why most progressive departments have very strict deadly force or use of force policies in place to protect the citizens, the officers and the employer of the officer also. (Note--officer claimed, but no specifics or injury reported.)

Our own J. Redmon: The traffic stop was properly conducted. The reckless speed involved meant that the driver was going to jail. The fact that the driver suffered from mental illness was not known at the time by the trooper and is not relevant to the subsequent actions of the trooper.The instant the driver struck the trooper with his vehicle in an apparent attempt to escape, that vehicle became a 'deadly weapon'. In my professional opinion, the trooper's actions were appropriate.

Another local chief: All I can find is the original story on AL.com. Looking at the guy's picture, and reading the story, I can see somebody that looks normal, but may have harbored an emotionally explosive attitude. His own father conceded that he had previously had to call the police because his son had became aggressive. That said, I'm very skeptical of shooting at vehicles...especially ones driving away from you. With him possessing a driver license, it's obvious that he's afflicted with a high functioning form of autism. So it would not be readily apparent to others around him.

A Retired Detective: I'd just call back up. No point in shooting (paperwork!). Too dangerous on I-565.


There you have it, J.T! Comments welcome...


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day 2015

Remember who you are. You will never be sorry for investing in your children!


Saturday, June 20, 2015

George Weakley Rhodes Is Out on Bond?--Update

George Weakley Rhodes Jr. has quite a record. What better way to read about it than in our own words?

He left prison in January of this year. That’s five months of freedom. Now this:

This morning, Rhodes was released on bail. Why? Please explain that to us...

LCDC indicates prisoner remains in jail, contrary to other FB reports.


From  Dylan's aunt:

Many people have been reading and have left comments about the death of Dylan Milam and his murderer. There was one comment in particular that was most concerning to me. Of course they did not know the entire story. The person that murdered Dylan Milam served only two years in youth authority jail. Due to his age he could not be tried as an adult. 

When someone of that age murders, they should be how accountable and to only serve two years in youth authority jail is disgraceful. The weapon he used was bought for him as a gift. What person goes out and buys a weapon for a 13-year-old to be used with adult supervision? This should make all us take pause and consider other options. What are the other options? 

Do we change the laws in the state of Alabama to take into mitigating circumstances? If you view this from the outside in perhaps all you can is see a "13-year-old kid" killing another kid. My nephew was murdered in cold blood, while the murderer told him to run and then shot him in the back of the neck. My nephew's last thoughts were that of fear. We could say that the perhaps murderer may have had encounters with law-enforcement in the past. However this is an assumption on my part. So the state of Alabama has unleashed a sociopath. 

My concerns are this may happen again to your child or someone you love. Some schools of thought believe that it is nature defines who we are in life. However my belief is that it is both nature and nurture that defines who we are. I know that my nephew Dylan was an incredible loving, kind and giving human being. All he wanted to do was to help, guide and be a friend to the person who murdered him. Dylan's goal in life was to help other people and he wanted to be a psychologist.


Thoughts on fathers tomorrow...


Friday, June 19, 2015

Violence on Lawrence Avenue

Have an apartment complex for a neighbor? You automatically have parties, alcohol, drugs, fights, and stabbings/shootings.There was a shooting earlier this year at a Brinks’ apartment complex. Now we have one outside a party at Courtyard Apartments, a highly contested project built by C. K. Irby in 2009. It was argued that the apartments would not damage the Edgemont neighborhood. Right…

You might remember that Lawrence Avenue property owners got the shaft from Florence years earlier when a portion of their land was condemned for the Helton Drive expansion project. Wonder if those who originally sued the city could now get damages? Probably not, but they deserve them.


The girlfriend of a missing Muscle Shoals man has stated she wants him back as long as he’s breathing. You’re on your own for the appropriate punch line…


Thursday, June 18, 2015

New Revelations About First Friday Incident

Assuming yesterday’s public statement by Florence chief Ron Tyler is 100% correct, we offer the following observations on the recent attack in Wilson Park:

1. The incident happened around 9:40, at least forty minutes later than reported originally. (This would explain a lack of more witnesses.)

2. The injury to the face of the 14 year-old son was caused by a “friend,” not a random attacker. (This indicates some problems were brewing before the father arrived.)

3. No racial slurs were made; however, one “remark” was directed toward a woman. (The mother?)

4. The father received a facial fracture, but needed no medical treatment. (Really? The last we had heard from family, they were going to consult a plastic surgeon.)

5. The attack involved a stun gun, not a Taser.

We’re sure more information will come to light later. Thornton is no angel. A 28 year-old who attacks a 14 year-old is a bully among other things, but did he commit a felony?

This whole incident is what’s known as a mare’s nest. Let’s be thankful the tales of out of control gangs have been greatly exaggerated.


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Know Your Hibbetts (or Who is Suing Whom?)

Do you know your Hibbetts? It all started with Mr. Rufus Hibbett, a former superintendent of Florence City Schools. From various public sources:

In 1945 Rufus G. Hibbett, a high school coach and teacher in Florence, Alabama, founded Dixie Supply Company, a retailer of athletic, marine, and aviation equipment. When his two sons joined the business in 1952, Rufus changed the company's name to Hibbett & Sons and focused operating strategy on merchandise for team sports. In the mid-1960s, the company further refined its retail strategy and changed its name to Hibbett Sporting Goods, Inc. In 1980 the Anderson family of Florence, Alabama, purchased Hibbett, invested in professional management and systems, and continued to expand the company's store base at a moderate pace. ANCO then sold the company in 1995.

Why is this important now? In 2010, Rufus' grandson Ira Kneeland Hibbett Jr. helped found Hibbett Patient Care, a compounding pharmacy that presumably rakes in the revenue. Who would confuse the two companies? Why would Hibbett Sporting Goods even care?

Apparently it did care and sued HPC last year. HSG claimed a logo conflict. You decide:

Admittedly the two fonts are almost identical, but nothing else is that similar. Was it worth a lawsuit? At bottom is the new HPC font.

Was HSG already aware of possible problems with Kneeland Hibbett and HPC? Who knows, but we would love to see the legal bills on each side.


From a reader: Colbert County is running a deficit in school funding. Why has there been so little comment regarding the millions of dollars Colbert County would have received if they had taken the offer from ECM/Regional Care years ago ? It would have put at least $20,000,000 in the commission bank, as I understand it. To make matters worse, HK Hospital then essentially gave themselves away to Huntsville Hospital. Since then, all HK has done is spend millions in attempting to block a modern, full service, regional hospital in this area. Where is the outrage?


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

In Memory of Robert Lowery Gonce

Robert Lowery Gonce, age 76, passed on Saturday, June 13, 2015. Visitation will be Thursday, June 18, 2015, at the First Presbyterian Church of Florence from 9:30 a.m. until 11 a.m. in the fellowship hall, with services to follow at 11 a.m. in the sanctuary with the Rev. Dr. Anna Brawley and the Rev. Dr. Foster Eich officiating. Burial will be at Florence City Cemetery.

Robert was preceded in death by his parents, Jack and Carrie Gonce.

He is survived by his wife, Nancy Cummings Gonce, of Florence; his children, Suzanne Gonce Perlis (David), of New Orleans, Louisiana, and Elizabeth Gonce Messer (David), of Florence, Alabama; his grandchildren, Corey Messer, of Florence, Alabama, Caroline Elizabeth Perlis, Robert Wicker Perlis, and Lauren Michelle Perlis, all of New Orleans, Louisiana; one sister, Mary Katherine Gonce King (Harry), of Bowling Green, Kentucky; his nieces and nephews, Harry King Jr. (Nancy), of Louisville, Kentucky, Will King (Elizabeth), of Bowling Green, Kentucky, and Miriam Cummings and David Cummings, both of London, Ontario; his cousins, Mary Nell Gonce King, of Florence, Alabama, Bobbie Lowe, of Birmingham, Alabama, Nancy Lowe Ruggles (Gordon), of Sheffield, Alabama, and James Lowe (Patti), of Atlanta, Georgia; as well as his special friends, Marjorie Ezell, Ralph Young, Zach Humphrey, John Lightfoot, and Jessie Pride.

Robert Lowery Gonce was equally committed to his profession, his community, and his friends.

Robert was a 50-year member of St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church, served on the vestry as the senior warden and sang in the choir. He served on the Board of Directors for the Alabama Music Hall of Fame Foundation, Shoals Symphony as chairman, and the Florence Camerata. He was a member of the Downtown Florence Unlimited and the Shoals Chamber of Commerce. At the University of North Alabama, he was on the President's Council, the President's Cabinet Advisory Committee, a member of the Sportsman's Club, and the National Alumni Association, Friend of the University. He was also a member of the Florence Kiwanis Club for over 50 years, their president, and earned the George F. Hixon Fellow award.

Robert Gonce was an attorney and partner with the firm of Gonce and Messer. He served his profession in various capacities including the Lauderdale County Bar Association as president, Alabama State Bar Association: member Ethics Panel and Bar Comissioner, Alabama Supreme Court Pattern Jury Instruction Committee, Alabama Law Foundation Fellow, and served as attorney for Lauderdale County and the Florence-Lauderdale Tourism Board.

He was a graduate of Coffee High School and earned the LLB degree from the University of Alabama and also attended Florence State University (UNA).

His other interests included reading, as he was a member of the Sunday night book club, golf, travel, music, and playing bridge.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The University of North Alabama Foundation/Music Deptartment, The St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church, Shoals Symphony, Florence Camerata, Alabama Law Foundation, or the Music Preservation Society, Inc.


Our sincerest sympathies to the Gonce family. Elizabeth Messer has been a friend to us here and we especially want her to know we are remembering her in our prayers at this time.


Fathers are forever. Even death,
Although a distancing, does not divide
The child from the parent, nor does time,
However long, nor space, however wide.
Enduring beyond silence, beyond breath,
Resonant where hours cease to chime,
Some yearnings inconsolable abide.


Monday, June 15, 2015

St. Florian Freeloaders

To James & Patti Gibson: You’ve been getting free sewage for years, now you want to sue the city that’s been giving it to you? Nice couple. Remember, you’ll be suing the entire population of Florence. That freeloading attitude doesn’t make you popular.

To the Gibson’s attorney: There’s probably some state law somewhere you can use to justify demanding the taxpayers of Florence pay for your clients’ sewage. Made an “A” in shyster class, didn’t you? Too bad the TD didn’t name you.

To the mayor of St. Florian Don Strait: You’re upset that you’ll lose tax dollars if the line is shut down? You actually had the nerve to say that? How about you and yours cough up some money for a new line that actually belongs to you? Cliff, are you sure you want to work for these delusional gimmesummadat imbeciles?

To Florence Mayor Mickey Haddock: You’re in charge of these negotiations? We taxpayers are paying Mike Doyle to run the water/sewer department. He says the line is unsafe. Why aren’t you backing him up? Why should you even be negotiating with these freeloading heathen to start with?


Now Mayor Haddock, we have a second question for you: Can’t the city make up its mind about the location of the new Arts & Entertainment District? Or will there be two? Many individuals have already invested in East Florence. What are you going to say to them if the powers that be now declare the district to be in downtown?

We would ask about all the money invested in the East Florence feasibility study, but a city that contracted with four separate architects over five years time to redo the one block of Mobile Plaza probably doesn’t see a problem with that. When the 1941 fictionalized version of Gen. Stilwell said, “You can hold one block, can’t you?” he’d obviously never been to Florence.


Sunday, June 14, 2015

Return to Spring Park

A few varied views on the current condition/situation at Spring Park:

Tuscumbia Muskrat - Interesting that the TimesDaily didn't report "why" Spring Park needs a volunteer group to "chip in" with park maintenance. Hmmm.... Could it be that concerned citizens pointed out the Park Director's lack of maintenance? Could it be that many attractions were rotting? Could it be that the train was only half running? Could it be that boards were falling off & not being replaced on the railroad bridge? Could it be that the fountain is NEVER ready for operation in early spring (even after saying it would be)? Could it be that paint was peeling off the carousel horses, along with warped boards, shot light bulbs, & no music? Could it be that the restrooms are in terrible disrepair? If the park was well managed then there would not be a long repair list for volunteers to "chip in" with! To quote the Park Director: "“It’s going to be so good for the park. Having volunteers like that, it helps the community take ownership of the park.” (TimesDaily 6/13/15) How about you, Mr. Kendrick, take ownership for your failure as park director!!!!!

Reader DP - Last night (June 7) a special group had the park and rides. First problem came because the train had broken down in the wooden bridge and would not be operable for the group. The next problem arose when there was not a uniform enforcement of the rules for the roller coaster. The rides crew tried to enforce a height rule for small kids but not in a uniform way. This allowed some kids to ride who were shorter than the height rule being enforced and others who were shorter were allowed to ride. Some kids got to ride one time but when they came back to ride again, they were not allowed to ride. This resulted with crying kids and upset parents. On the lighter side, THE NATIVE AMERICAN INDIAN SCULPTURE WAS REMOVED TODAY AND PLACED UNDER COVER AWAY FROM THE ELEMENTS, KIDS, AND INSECTS.
Another reader from June 6th - I have a good report on the park in Tuscumbia. The train is running and the crossing signal works. Unfortunately there is a car show with someone who loves to hear his voice on the p.a. The waterfall and fountain were both operating. The train was running with plenty of cars. The roller coaster, carousel and splash pad were all seeing lots of action, too. It was my first real visit and I was really impressed with what they had at the park today. 


A great video:



Saturday, June 13, 2015

The First Friday Attack & the State of Denmark

We have no doubt that two members of the Kevin Dawes family were attacked by someone at the last First Friday, as well as their van. We do have questions about this attack. There are a number of oddities about the family’s statements--all of which may have logical rationales. Let’s look at them.

1. A group of 20 to 30 black youths are alleged to have attacked the father & son in Wilson Park between 8:30 and 9:00 on a First Friday. It was dark, but wouldn’t others leaving the event also have been walking through the park? Goodness knows enough people saw the (different) crowd at the deli half an hour later.

2. The gang yelled, “Get that white!” Really? Is that what they say in the ‘hood now? Not “cracker” or even the old standby “honky?” Not even one vulgar adjective thrown in? Anyone else out there think that’s pretty odd?

3. The gang had an expensive Taser? We’ve previously commented that we doubted that, but most recent reports from the family indicate that Mr. Dawes had burns from seven Taser hits. A stun gun theoretically won't leave burns, but Tasers do. Seven hits? And no one saw anything?

4. The attack, the mother has reported, was a “gang initiation.” Is this how it’s done now? 20 or 30 initiated at once? And just who in this lovely group took the time to utter the words “gang initiation?” If that isn’t bizarre, we don’t know what is.

5. The gang ran when they heard sirens? (The latest update indicates the mother called 911 immediately.) Two things come to mind here. First, weren’t any of the officers one block away on Court Street and on foot called to the scene? Second, why couldn’t any of the officers catch just one of the 20 to 30 running from the park? If any responding officers even saw one of these youths, he hasn’t made a public statement.

6. Why has no one come forward to offer any eye-witness information on the youths? Again, look at the Subway incident. Facebook and our mailbox were full of witnesses reporting what they saw.

There may be perfectly reasonable explanations for these discrepancies. In the mean time, every uber right-wing (read: hate) site on the Internet is running a story on the out of control black gangs in Florence.

Totally true or patently false, this incident is a black eye on the Renaissance City.


Friday, June 12, 2015

Hate Crimes & Speed Limits

Hate crimes? From Mark Parker: Alabama's hate crime statute is an enhancement to the penalty phase after conviction of another crime. If an assault, or other crime takes place, and it's because of hate crime, the penalty is enhanced. Code of Alabama 13A-5-13.

No matter, a third degree assault is a misdemeanor. For the reader who disagreed, we suggest you contact the FPD or the city attorney.


Taser? We're just guessing here, but it seems logical that what the victims of Friday's attack called a Taser was actually a stun gun. This could make a difference in severity of charges. A Taser starts at 350.00 (a little cheaper than we previously said); a stun gun for as little as 20.00 and no background check. There's also a big difference in the harm they can cause. If this First Friday gang did use a Taser, couldn't charges be upgraded to second degree assault?


Our LEO question? A reader pointed out that the speed limit in question is 70 mph, not 75. As for the officer feeling threatened, we can only speculate. That's why we wanted someone who had actually done traffic stops to comment. We will try to blog answers late next week.


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Any Other LEOs Want to Comment?

You pull a driver over in a 75 mph zone. He's doing almost 100. Then he abruptly drives away. You may (or may not) feel that he almost "got you." Do you shoot?

We have three answers so far. If anyone else wants to comment (LEOs & former LEOs only), we'll publish our results next week.


We all know who he really was. A very sad day...


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The "Subway Riot"/Truck Stop Hits

The "Subway Riot?" There wasn't one. It seems what many First Friday visitors saw was an unfortunately normal event. Teens congregate both inside and outside the deli every Friday until management and later police ask them to move on. The officer was also a regular and was in control at all times. The teens who were at the eatery were not the ones in Wilson Park.

A reader asked what difference late reporting of the attack made? It meant it wasn't reported in time to get into the late Friday news update, so no extensive media reporting until Monday. No big conspiracy to hide from public.

Any news on the attack? Not that we have.


Rodney Ivey: Ivey was at one time a suspect in the hit-style murders of his cousin Gary Baskins and his companion earlier this year. Obviously he has not been charged in any way with that crime, and we don't expect him to be. A source says there's no news in the murder investigation.

We are going to make two or three comments here and save the rest for the time of the killer's trial and the release of the autopsy reports. While we hope all our readers pass from this life peacefully at the age of 101 either in the arms of Morpheus or their lover, it's a sad fact that people die unexpectedly every day. All the media know about you is what you post online.

If you say you have one child, that's all anyone knows about. Maybe you're too overwhelmed to update your profile (there was an entire episode of Yes, Dear devoted to this) or perhaps the thrill of motherhood has worn off. No matter, don't expect anyone magically to know how many children a murder victim has. Don't blame the media for reporting exactly what the victim has stated on line.

Facebook pages? If Bradley William Flemming decides at the age of 25 to grow a signature beard and change his name to Boogie Woogie Fever, don't expect the media to know about the new FB page or any beard. The information they publish will come from records posted by Bradley William Flemming. There again, don't blame the media if Flemming left his old FB page up.

Finally, to the local blogger who criticized us for relating we had to ban some hootchie mamas, would it have been better to have called those we banned what they called us, simply for posting some links from two local news sites? Hootchie mama sounds much better than g**d*** m*****f***** piece of s***, don't you think?

No matter how the two victims lived their lives, we fervently want to see the killer(s) punished. If anyone knows anything not yet reported, please call local police. If just doing the right thing doesn't appeal to you, there is a cash reward. It's totally anonymous. We guarantee it!


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Take It With a Grain of Logic

Whatever happened Friday night was not good. There was an alleged gang attack at Subway and in Wilson Park. But what actually happened? We don't know. Logically, if a Florence Police officer was attacked on Court/Tuscaloosa, it should be major news. Yet many aren't looking at this logically.

1. Call it a "hate crime?" Only a grand jury can do that. The city has no hate crime statute. It's simply assault until it becomes a felony.

2. The sheriff isn't doing his job? Our sheriff has nothing to do with it if it happened inside city limits.

3. There was a Taser attack? Tasers go for at least 390.00. Pretty rich equipment for a street gang.

4. It's obviously a cover up? Why? The park episode wasn't reported until much later. The FPD doesn't have a clairvoyant on staff.

5. It happened between 8:30 & 9:00 and no one reported it? If true, a lot of people have a lot to answer for (and apparently have nothing in common with our neighbors who have a hotline to the police).


Just saw this on FB: I was going to watch an old sitcom, but decided to watch the local news. I think the news is going to turn out to be funnier. An armed man robbed a drug store and took everyone inside hostage. The reporter explained it was drug related. She also said he will be facing charges.


Monday, June 8, 2015

Return to Heroin Central: David Ros

Call him a "key player" or a "kingpin," David Ros managed to get a lucky break after his July 2013 arrest in Morgan County for heroin trafficking. At the time of his Decatur arrest, Ros was on probation in Lauderdale County related to a February theft charge.

Where is he now? He managed to get a form of probation/rehabilitation in Morgan and was placed in a halfway house. It seems he was kicked out of two facilities before entering his third this past Friday. He blew that after two days.

High on something, Ros proclaimed he was Jesus. Where is he now? That we don't know. His partner in drug crime Wes Akin faces another Lauderdale charge within the next few weeks.

Obviously Ros didn't know when he had it good.


Sunday, June 7, 2015

Dakota Holt Is Free...For Now

Dylan Milam

For those not familiar with the murder of Dylan Milam:

From Dylan's mother: Just to let everyone know... the kid (Dakota Holt) that murdered Dylan is now out. I knew about when he was getting out but wanted to wait to let everyone know before I posted... also seems he was a bad boy while in... seems he called a kid the N word and got beat down for it. lmao.. they even had to wire his jaw shut. If you are a friend of mine or Dylan please repost this on your page. ok D...let the games begin.


The above is much like an old joke. The teacher was filling out an application for health insurance and was asked, "Have you ever had a nervous breakdown?" Her reply? "No, but watch this space for further development."

Holt has been released five years early. While we hope he stays out of trouble, we aren't betting the ranch on it. Just another subject for the blind man on the corner.


Saturday, June 6, 2015

TD Calls Staggs Grocery "Ramshackle"

The TimesDaily recently profiled growth in the Sweetwater Arts & Entertainment District, albeit never using its presumably correct name.

The Bill Campbell article was informative...up to a point; however, the main surprise of the front page content was the remark about Staggs Grocery. Campbell called it "ramshackle." The word was removed later from online, but still made it into print.

The old building on Huntsville Road is hardly the 360 Grille, but "ramshackle?" We doubt the current owners of Billy Staggs' former grocery will be taking out any advertising soon.

Maybe Bill will soon be going the way or our friend Trevor?


A tune about Bill Campbell:


Friday, June 5, 2015

Joe Pampinto & the Concrete Con

From a Muscle Shoals resident:

Did you see the picture that is in the Times Daily that shows the sidewalk project on Sheffield Avenue in Muscle Shoals? I thought you might like to hear the rest of the story. The driveway being worked on in the picture is the city councilman Joe Pampinto's driveway.

The house you see in the background of the picture is my house. Our house was skipped yesterday so the City Councilman's driveway could be done first. This is Muscle Shoals politics at work yet again and they got a picture of it. The construction company has been tearing up to put in sidewalks on Sheffield Avenue for the past week. As they work they systematically go down the line and take out driveways and then fix them back with new concrete. One by one, down the line.

Then they get to our driveway. We come home to find our driveway has been skipped so that the driveway of the city councilman (that lives after us down the line) can be done first. This puts us without a driveway for our THREE vehicles (parking them on the street) for what will end up being at least a week so that the city councilman can park his ONE vehicle in his garage once again.

We talked to the workers and they said they didn't know why they were told to skip ours but they were short-handed so they could only do one driveway. They were told to do that (the councilman's) driveway first. Yes. We are peons in Muscle Shoals. We aren't special with privileges like getting to have things done first because of who we are.


Joe, we await your comments...


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Larry Stutts Said What?!!!

From the TD:

Stutts (on anti-abortion bill), an obstetrician, said he thinks the bill is a good idea. He’s anti-abortion, and said that when he’s treating a pregnant woman, he has two patients.

Really? How about this comment from March 31, 2015?

My sole intention with Senate Bill 289 was to re-center health care decisions between a patient and her doctor by limiting government mandates.

Our deceitful representative was at one time a veterinarian. Wonder if he told clients not to spay their cats but keep them in a fenced yard?


A Colbert County mother, a devout Baptist, had two girls. The 16 year-old she counseled on sex, never thinking the 15 year-old was boffing half the males in her class. Upon finding out and regaining consciousness, she took the girl to Larry. What did Larry say?

No birth control. Just tell her to stop having sex. No, we're not kidding.


Our view is and always has been to counsel children on morality and self-respect. Barring that, counsel on birth control. No abortion necessary. Where are the bills on sponsoring such education in schools?


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Muskrats Broke What?

From a day-tripper:

Does the Tuscumbia park train run on Saturdays? It looks like their web pages are bad. If you go to springparkal dot com you get a general Muscle Shoals area tourism page. That page gives tuscumbiarailway dot com, which goes nowhere. Have the muskrats broke the Internet?

This link works; however the most obvious is broken.

Now the question: Is the site up to date?


The winner of the "Pick Your Pate" contest is Joey! He garnered 19 votes. In all, 50 votes were cast. We hope that brought 50 donations to our charities. If you know some brothers or co-workers who would like to compete for charity, let us know.



Tuesday, June 2, 2015

James Irby for Judge?

Florence attorney James Irby has set up a Facebook page to test the waters concerning a run for Lauderdale Circuit judge--no word on which party. Link!


From L. Stone: If the state can't afford to house the mentally ill can we at least give them UAB football tickets?


Phillip Pettus still wants his superintendent bill to pass? Just think if he had put that much energy into something worthwhile...


Monday, June 1, 2015

Why Even "Print" It to Begin With?

Yesterday we published a comment from a Lexington reader. It's our policy to publish all comments as long as they are not vulgar or libelous. If we see an error in the comment, we point it out. Another local blogger, one who does not publish all comments, has criticized us for, as he called it, "printing" the comment.

Besides letting everyone have a voice here (not to mention the main thrust of the comment concerned Lexington), we felt this was an opportunity to correct a misconception:

This page, no matter who originally created it, has been taken down, as well it should be if Mr. Holden did not authorize it. 


What many readers don't know is the young lady sent home from school over her hair is a relative of a former school board member. Discrimination in reverse?

But here's the kicker...even though the young woman had worn the same color hair for three years, the principal and assistant principal insisted she leave school immediately after being cited for the color. No, gentle readers, that's not the lack of mercy in this tale from last fall. The young woman's mother was forced to leave the hospital where her step-son was having surgery. No delays! Heil the Admins!

And you wonder why the family hired an attorney?


Our policy is to publish your comment no matter if we feel it correct or not. We obviously have the right to rebut your comment. We do not consider ourselves "benevolent dictators," but a facilitator. 

Neither will we ever publish your name if we disagree with you as some bloggers have in the past. We welcome all comments; happy reading!