Monday, February 29, 2016

SEC Primary/Sadie Hawkins Day

Tomorrow is SEC Primary Day. Vote…but don’t vote blindly. We hope everyone has researched the candidates thoroughly by now. It’s not a beauty contest or a popularity contest. It’s an election that has consequences for all citizens. Here again are our endorsements:

State Board of Education Place 7: Jim Bonner

Colbert County Commission Place 5: Roger Creekmore

Lauderdale License Commissioner (D): Tony Cox

Lauderdale License Commissioner (R): Billy Hammock

Lauderdale County Commission District 1: John Hargett

Lauderdale County Commission Chair: Danny Pettus

Lauderdale Circuit Judge Place 1: William Smith

Lauderdale Circuit Judge Place 2: Will Powell


Bad Boys & Their Pen Pals

Perhaps you read recently of Florida inmate Mark DeFriest, a 55 year-old man who’s been incarcerated since he was 19. While it’s an interesting story in itself, another remarkable facet to DeFriest’s tale is that he’s married to an 85 year-old woman whom he met via what’s termed a “pen pal scheme.” We’re not sure why it was labeled a scheme, but obviously many inmates use women while they’re on the inside.

John Wesley Akin
We’ve been contacted by one woman, a mother of two small children, who was (and perhaps still is) a pen pal of J.J. Common, and we’ve also been told that Wes Akin has a prison pen pal account. We can’t definitely say that any man in prison won’t go straight once free, that he won’t make a good husband and father, that he will never be able to support himself honestly. What we can say is it’s infinitely better to wait until these men are once again free and then re-evaluate any relationship with them. Once married, it’s a little bit difficult to go your separate ways. We’ll add that sending them your hard earned money isn’t exactly brilliant either. Nor is having unprotected sex with them once they’re out.

So how many women reading this, young or old or anywhere in between, think this applies to them? Our guess would be zero, but if we can reach just one that’s a major victory.

That being said, today is Sadie Hawkins' Day. If you’re looking, why not ask out that nice guy in the office down the hall or the new guy at church? Just be sure to first ask if they’re on probation or under indictment.


Downtown fine dining? Check out the health department scores for two Court Street eateries published in yesterday’s TD. The Pie Factory scored only 78, while Ricatonni’s barely beat them at 80. Perhaps this will narrow down the location of your Sadie Hawkins’ Day date.


Sunday, February 28, 2016

Why, Quinton, Why?

The political muck deepens as a local photographer has come forward accusing Republican candidate Quinton Hanson of stealing one of his photographs. We suggest that he do as our friend Mark Davis once did and send Hanson a bill for at least a thousand dollars. Nothing teaches a lesson in honesty like a kick in the pocket book.

From a reader:

My first reaction when I saw a Quinton Hanson sign, realizing he was yet running for office, was "not again??" How much money has this guy wasted running for office and has yet to even get close. He has lost 3 campaigns, making him a 3 time loser. However, I had thought long and hard about voting for him this this time around. I decided it was his time and to give him a shot, this after speaking to him at an event in Underwood one day. THEN, I get the mail out of the mailbox last Wednesday. My first reaction to seeing this negative mailer was "he just got beat!!!!" And, I still feel this way. There was no need to sink to this level. If he felt he was losing in the polls at this point, he should have opted for more signs, more visibility or more ads. I think we will see in the results on Tuesday that the typical North Alabama voter is SICK and TIRED of dirty campaigns and negative ads.

Do we still believe that Hanson has more business acumen than Danny? Yes; however, we’d rather have any office filled by the honest candidate who scored a B+ in economic development than a dishonest one who scored an A. The sad part of this whole filthy descent into political muck and mire is that we believe Hanson would have won the election and been the next Lauderdale County Commission Chair if he has not stooped to such tactics and alleged theft.

Danny Pettus, current Lauderdale County Commissioner, now has our total support in his bid to become commission chair. It may be a close election, but if Danny wins, we are counting on his not letting the citizens of Lauderdale County down.


While we’ve had some supporters of certain candidates contact us with critical comments on those running against their chosen ones, we’ve seen no other local political mud thrown in this election. All candidates with the exception of Quinton Hanson have seemingly trod the high road, and that speaks volumes about them. Whether we support them or not, they have behaved as one would hope any educated and civilized candidate would. Kudos to all of them!


Word for the day: Judgment. It seems many pols, local and state, as honest as they may be, can’t spell this word which has only one “e.” It may be a small matter, but it’s distracting from their advertising.


Saturday, February 27, 2016

Hanson Mail-Out/Cherokee Thugs

We have not been able to obtain a copy of Quinton Hanson's mail-out which is purported to contain libelous material directed against his opponent Danny Pettus. This is from a reader:

Do you have an opinion on the "last minute" mail-outs by Quinton Hanson' campaign? The first one questions Danny Pettus' decision to run for Chairman of the Lauderdale County Commission after serving only "64 days" (I think that's right). The second mail-out borders on calling Danny dishonest. I realize it's politics, but I don't like it. I was planning on voting for Hanson. I don't really know him that well, but he had been involved in the Republican Party for some time and had run for office before. I guess I just felt he had "paid his dues". That, and the fact that I didn't personally know Danny that well. I have some comments on my facebook page about how I feel about that kind of negative advertising. Just wondered if you had seen these and had any thoughts on them.

Other readers have reported that the mail-out doesn't "border" on calling Danny dishonest, but states it unequivocally. We had previously endorsed Hanson for two reasons--his business experience and what we considered his strong stands (lacking tact). We felt, since a menopausal woman wasn't running, he would be most likely to state his opinions and hold fast. 

Nevertheless, honesty comes first in our book. Danny Pettus is nothing if not honest. As of now, we're not recommending either candidate. That may change by tomorrow. We're asking readers for any further information on this.


Some thugs have broken into a Cherokee school and vandalized an expensive collection of pattern glass that had been donated to the library. Other items were also destroyed. If anyone has any information on this, no matter how small, please contact the Cherokee Police. We would also like to hear more on these little "*****." Once apprehended, we'll be reporting anything we can find on these kids/men who have so little respect for...well, apparently for anything. We'll be lobbying for a stiff sentence...not counting on one, but lobbying.


Friday, February 26, 2016

John Hargett/State Auto Allowance?

What does the not so average politician have? Brains, common sense, experience, and probity. That's a hard combination to find. Roger Garner has done a good job as a Lauderdale County Commissioner. We believe John Hargett can do an even better one. Hargett is a local accountant and well acquainted with money management.

Can Hargett beat the sitting commissioner? We don't know, but we honestly believe that the more honest intelligence in any local governing body the better. We sincerely endorse John Hargett for the Lauderdale County Commission.


We recently linked an expose' on the cost of vehicle mileage reimbursement in the state. We received this very informative reply:

I work as a XXX for the State of Alabama. At this low level, individuals are encouraged to ride together when possible and to thoroughly “document” all mileage. I know the blogger is not inferring any misrepresentation. Yes , most of the big muckedly mucks get the big mileage reimbursement. They also spend the night for nonsensical missions. Yes its truly odd since most departments have motor pools.

Its also truly odd, most state workers have not received reimbursement for December travel. But state employees have plenty of money right?


Alabama Political Reporter also recently published an article on the state of reimbursements in Alabama. Many vendors are suffering. Yet the office of financial services gave a COCKTAIL PARTY to celebrate the miasma of misaccounting that this new system induced. I'm assuming that most readers feel as we so that the state has no right to buy booze with our money to celebrate employees simply doing their job...and as was pointed out, illegally at that.


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Doc Larry Wants to Control Term Limits

Larry Stutts is one of several state senators, presumably those who see the handwriting on the wall concerning their re-election chances, who want to set a limit on terms for state senators and representatives. Tim Melson opposes this proposed law and rightly so. For if guns don't kill people, surely a lack of term limits doesn't make a legislator a crook.


It seems there was an incident at an athletic contest between Sheffield and Lexington. We don’t know what the incident was, but it was apparently related to actions of some Sheffield players. That’s indeed unfortunate, and we’re sure the powers that be in Sheffield don’t condone it.

However, it further appears that the Lexington fans who were at the game have decided the way to handle this bad behavior is to behave equally badly. Sportsmanship is becoming a thing of the past; no surprises there. Perhaps it's time for school officials to hold students responsible for their actions…and a few letters home to parents concerning their own conduct wouldn’t be a bad idea either.


Personal endorsements? During the election season we’ve received some personal endorsements for certain candidates. Most of these endorsements have been less than moving. Some have recommended a certain candidate by means of criticizing his opponent. Others seem to tout their superior wisdom in the matter, all the while using profanities in their messages. We’re pretty sure the candidates they’re supporting don’t condone those who write these glowing accolades. If they do, then we’re certain we made the right choice to begin with.


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Replacement for Jim Holland/Roger Creekmore

James Holland, long time Muscle Shoals City Councilman passed away this week leaving the citizens the loss of a friend to many. The last 24 years was spent at the city council table making decisions that have long lasting effects.

Now the task of appointing his replacement to serve the next few months until the municipal election is held. The City Council can appoint someone to that position, or defer to the Governor. It would seem fitting the City Council appoint a person that has no personal, political or religious ties to any of those sitting on the Council at this time.

A female would be a means to bring a new perspective, given there has never been a female on the City Council. Some would advocate for a minority, which a female is in many aspects, although a minority has previously served on the City Council. The Council's history appointing persons to fill vacancies on City and other government Boards does not leave women with the feeling this City Council has much faith in women serving in all key areas.

M.S. ELECTRIC BOARD - NO female / NO minority
N. AL. GAS BOARD - NO female / NO minority
APPEALS BOARD - NO female / NO minority
SEDA - NO female / NO minority

The eligibility requirements set forth by the City Council is NO ONE can serve simultaneously on any Board the City Council has appointing authority, to which the M.S. website shows a violation when you look at the violation of one serving on 2 Boards. The City Council should spend time reviewing their current Board appointees and be sensitive to gender equality now and for future appointments.

Leslie M. Shoals


These are now available at most Muscle Shoals mini-marts:


We are endorsing Roger Creekmore for Place 5 on the Colbert County Commission. Mr. Creekmore is a rare politician with ethics and deserves your vote.


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Lauderdale License Commissioner/Calling Tuscumbia Muskrat

While we’re sure the majority of local voters, as well as those who read our blog, will be voting in the Republican primary next Tuesday, let’s not forget there will be a Democratic ballot as well. Few are running locally on the Democratic ticket, at least with opposition in the primary. The office of Lauderdale County License Commissioner is one of the exceptions.

On the Republican side, we highly recommend Billy Hammock, a dedicated and ethical businessman who is more than capable of carrying forward the work that current commissioner William Smith has begun. On the Democratic side, we similarly endorse Tony Cox.

Whoever wins these primaries, they will face each other in November. At that time, voters may cross over if they wish and vote a split ticket. Yes, the SEC mega primaries make for a long election season in Alabama.


Some years ago, we helped oversee some repairs to a bathroom in an office building. The plumber contracted to redo a small shower announced he was going to have to tear out a wall since the correct fitting was no longer manufactured for the 30 year-old shower head. We decided to refer him to someone higher up rather than argue the point that plumbers were a kind of “pipefitter” who should be able to cobble together just about any size pipes. After all, maybe we were missing something? After speaking with a company vice president, the plumber managed to repair the shower without tearing out the wall.

We have that same reaction to the announcement that the computer system controlling the light show at Spring Park is outdated. We can understand “worn out” as in hardware that fails, but “outdated?” Is the fountain now supposed to bring in NetFlix? Have park officials discovered some new colors previously unknown to mankind that only this new system can produce? Could a new computer system assure that the lights are in sync not only with the music but with the gravitational pull of the moon as well?

We think this might be a case for the Tuscumbia Muskrat.


Since the start of this election season we’ve had several private communications with readers about various candidates. Current issues are discussed in the blog; older or non-issues are not. This includes college drug arrests, gay relatives, criminal relatives, old accidents, or lack of charisma (God forbid we ever elect a qualified candidate who lacks charisma). We don’t feel that any of these has any bearing on the candidate’s ability to perform in office. We endorse here, but you do not have to adhere to any of our recommendations. If you want to change our mind, facts would be important—your personal feelings not so much.


Monday, February 22, 2016

Gregg DeWalt/New AHSAA Rules?

Did everyone read Gregg DeWalt’s Sunday column in the TD. If you didn’t, you should. He’s calling for the positions of athletic director and head coach at Muscle Shoals High to be separated. We’re not going to hold our breath, but obviously having these positions combined is akin to letting the employee who writes the company checks also balance the account—you’re just asking for abuse.

Is Muscle Shoals lobbying for rule changes at the AHSAA? If such changes do come through, will MSHS be exempt from the playoff ban retroactively?


We find it very interesting anyone would comment that we’re despicable for giving a voice to a Muscle Shoals High School critic…who seems to know just what murky, mucky broth cooks at the school. Yet this reader doesn’t think the school should be held accountable for illegal actions. Morality and ethics aren’t everyone’s strong point.

It’s also interesting that many can’t seem to distinguish between our own editorials and guest blogs. We always welcome guest editorials as long as they aren’t libelous, use vulgarities, or advocate violence. Yes, that was the 1067th time we have made that statement, but apparently some still don’t get it.


Something to think about: None of us knows when we leave the house each day if we’ll return to our homes at the appointed time. Nothing is guaranteed in this life; however, we civilians have a much better chance of finishing our work day in one piece than do those who toil in law enforcement.

A long time narcotics agent was killed this weekend—just one county away from Lauderdale. It was only a few days ago that a Lauderdale deputy was shot under very similar circumstances. Most of us have a long list of blessings for which we ask in our daily prayers. Let us all try to remember members of our law enforcement community in those prayers.


With all due respect to James Irby, does he think he will be called upon as a circuit judge to make decisions on abortion and gay marriage? We’d personally rather he and any other candidates promise not to populate the court and related entities with their relatives, lovers, and other cronies.


Sunday, February 21, 2016

Jim Bonner/Why Alabama is on the Bottom

Can Alabama education be saved? Is it as bad as some say or as good as others say? No matter which, there’s no road to be travelled but onward, and citizens need to take an interest in just who has control of our public schools.

Local voters will have a chance to choose among three candidates for Alabama State School Board District 7: Jim Bonner, Rhea Tays Fulmer, and Jeff Newman. Tays says she opposes Federal interference in state school matters, but such interference has been present for years. Newman says he’s most qualified due to having worked in education for over 30 years. Bonner is calling for more accountability.

All three candidates have something to offer, but Jim Bonner comes with the least baggage and probably the most common sense. We sincerely endorse Jim for this position.


A word about Common Core and other such programs: Think programs like Common Core are new? Just look back at old news reports from the 1940s onward and you’ll see that every 10 to 15 years a new program is launched that will “leave no child behind.” We compare such programs to the various fad diets that that seem to abound, but never work.

Alabama has raised the drop out age, and we agree with that. Many extremely intelligent people disagree with it. Our reasoning is that surely a young person learns something between 16 and 17 and will better see the need of an education. Opponents’ reasoning is that you can’t make a child learn if he/she doesn’t want to, no matter the age.

The sad fact is that most students with a lower IQ, and there are many in Alabama due to families with more brain power leaving for greener pastures, and those whose parents don’t support them are NEVER going to want to learn. After all if one in ten thousand high school drop outs become millionaires by the age of 30, surely they will be one of these lucky ones. We’re pretty sure these are the same youths who don’t wear a condom or practice any kind of safe sex since they’re certain neither pregnancy nor social disease will affect them.


Alabama also ranks high in the number of unmarried women giving birth. Some women, either because of love of the welfare system or total lack of social/moral structure, give birth to more than one illegitimate child. It’s not unusual to find some women under 30 with two to five children by different fathers. It’s a sad commentary on both education and moral values in our state, and Alabama will never leave the bottom of the heap as long as this “I don’t care/Gimme more” mindset prevails.


Saturday, February 20, 2016

TELL a TALE to cover a TAIL

Memory lane.

Basden is hired by Wooten and Noah and soon after was able to force parents to pay large sums of money for their children to be a part of the faMily, saying it would finance an indoor practice facility and the equipment. TAXPAYERS ARE ON THE HOOK FOR THAT TALE.

Under them, Principal Lindsey and Superintendent Wooten’s leadership, Basden and a few of his choice coaches were caught receiving bonuses at the Taxpayer’s expense (investigation revealed it had been going on for years). Only AFTER being caught, Wooten, Lindsey and Basden conducted a thorough internal investigation and said they were “Cooperating” and would put measures in place to avoid future violations The Ethics Investigation issued a warning if incidents of this nature happened in the future, there would be penalties. TAXPAYERS ARE ON THE HOOK FOR THAT TALE.

Basden, Lindsey, & Wooten fire coaches that don't go along with the faMily plan, replacing them with coaches that will do as they are told and take the fall when caught. Coaches are hired for their coaching assignments and then either put in a classroom somewhere until time to go to athletic train football players. Basden builds his circle by hiring college students as assistant coaches that are children of principals, administrators, employees, etc. TAXPAYERS ARE ON THE HOOK FOR THIS TALE.

Basden, Wooten, Lindsey sell the city council on financing with TAXPAYERS MONEY, a mega athletic facility compound touting the community use thereof. Millions of dollars are financed, and city budgeted for Basden to control the usage of the facility. Hence the “public facility/track” is under chains and locks to keep the public out. TAXPAYERS ARE ON THE HOOK FOR THAT TALE.

Balentine pleads GUILTY to physically abusing his wife/breaking her nose and is arrested by Florence Police November 2015. Because the faMily is in state playoffs, Basden tells Lindsey he is going to “suspend” Balentine for one playoff game to “teach him a lesson”. AFTER A THOROUGH INVESTIGATION, Lindsey determined Balentine to be an exemplary employee and will work with him. Taxpayers need to realize, Balentine only coaches weight training for football athletes for 90 minutes a day and is the athletic facility manager, giving an ample amount of free time on his hands to have an affair with one of his co-workers in the high school. TAXPAYERS ARE ON THE HOOK FOR THAT TALE.

Basden and Balentine were reported by Times Daily to have contacted a football player at Wilson High School, visited and talked to him and his father about transferring to MSCS, promising a better education and scholarships.The boy’s dad rented an apartment in Muscle Shoals and paid for utility services in December 2015.

AFTER the AHSAA became involved, Lindsey, Basden, Balentine and principal Holden denied knowledge of the child, until proven otherwise. After weeks of “negotiating” with AHSAA, Muscle Shoals is given a token reprimand and minimum sanctions by AHSAA. Only then would Lindsey and Holden respond to the public with a written statement, refusing interviews. Once again, AFTER BEING CAUGHT, Lindsey and Holden go on the record saying, they have conducted a THOROUGH INVESTIGATION and PUT MEASURES IN PLACE TO AVOID FUTURE VIOLATIONS, while 2 months earlier, Lindsey described Balentine as an EXEMPLARY EMPLOYEE. Lindsey and Holden admit Balentine should not have returned phone calls on his cell phone.

Ask yourself, how did the student at Wilson get Balentine’s WORK PHONE CELL NUMBER? Could it have been given to him when Basden and Balentine visited them? Balentine’s mistake was not getting a TRAC PHONE like Basden does.If AHSAA suspends Balentine’s coaching certification, what exactly will he be on the Taxpayer’s payroll for? Legally, he has to be placed in a classroom that he is certified to teach. We all know MSCS is all about self imposed reporting and moral integrity. Where will Balentine be on Monday, Feb. 22? If Balentine is in the athletic facility, working with football players, that in itself is a violation. THE TAXPAYERS ARE ON THE HOOK FOR THIS TALE.

What Basden can do, promise HE will take the boys to a BOWL GAME (paid for by their fees and fundraisers) if they will stay on the team and not go to other school systems.What Lindsey and Holden can do, appeal the AHSAA ruling and continue to accuse everyone else of lying.THE TAXPAYERS ARE ON THE HOOK FOR THIS TALE.



Leslie M. Shoals

Friday, February 19, 2016

Hanson or Pettus?/More on Satchell

Quinton Hanson and Danny Pettus are seeking the post of Lauderdale County Commission Chair. Both have political experience and both have conservative financial platforms. Is one better than the other?

We're endorsing Quinton Hanson for this post. He has more experience in financial planning and, we believe, is more capable of telling someone where to go if needed.


We've been sent some information on Gale Satchell, candidate for Colbert County Superintendent of Education. After careful consideration, we have decided to publish this. Voters should have all the information about any candidate in order to make a competent decision.

From an informed reader on several problems facing Colbert candidates:

(The people that filed a complaint on Gale Stachel & School Board members have the expense forms, check vouchers and other information on the following complaints to the Ethics Commission. They have complaint case numbers assigned and were told an investigator will be contacting them. TimesDaily editor says their policy is not to do anything during an election cycle. They absolutely have them dead to right and should be an interesting story to follow)

Ethics complaint filed on Federal Programs Coordinator - Dr. Gale Satchel

1) Takes numerous days off with filing for Professional Leave.
Taxpayers have given Satchel reimbursements for travel, food and lodging for personal family trips as well as paid leave.
Presidential Inauguration 2012
Field trip with son’s class to Memphis, Tennessee
Also received pay for "professional development" & Personal travel with son to work as “Page” for Marcel Black during 2015
Legislative session in Montgomery - She and her husband were reimbursed for meals, hotel, and mileage for the week that her son was the Page. This had nothing to do with the school and was strictly personal.

2) Gift Cards for homeless
Hands out gift cards to un-documented recipients
Hands out gift cards after announcing her candidacy for Superintendent of Colbert County Schools election 2016
Does not have proof of receipt from recipient of gift cards

3) Signs Employment Contracts without Board approval OR Superintendent signature.
Determines the persons hired, pay scale, and personally supervises or
assigns her husband (principal in Colbert County School System) as supervisor.
ONLY school boards can hire. Those persons she hired and signed contract obligating the taxpayers money ($35.00 per hour tutors) were
NOT approved by the Board. They were NOT fingerprinted nor had a background check, but were working one on one with students.

4) Uses work day/time to attend meetings and events for personal organizations involved in/and serves as a Board member and is paid mileage to go to the meetings.
Healing Place, NWSCC, Camp Courage, Helen Keller Foundation, etc.
Claims mileage for personal trips and when working registration desk at Shoals Chamber of Commerce functions.

5) Makes purchases from vendors for her family use.
Grandchildren she kept at work and bought items for their use at central office.

Belief is that she uses school funds to pay for her IPhone, Ipad, and data for both.

Also an Ethics complaint is filed on the SCHOOL BOARD --

Some School Board members receive reimbursement for their family members to go to meetings with them.
2 & 3 bedroom condominiums paid for by taxpayers for them to go to the beach for meetings.
Paid for meals for family members of Board members.

Once again, the Ethics Commission has the expense forms filled out by the Board members along with their condo receipts and the checks that were paid to the Board members.

Another thing in question is, Where is the $7.9 million that was in reserves at the Colbert County School System when Olivis took office?

(Confidentially, Olivis and Cornelius are on different ends of the spectrum. My insiders said they haven't spoke civilly to each other in over a year. Not a good situation and they can't wait to be away from each other)


Apparently neither Democrats nor Republicans belong to any organized party.


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A Reader on Ben Graves/Yeezy?

From a reader:

Shoalanda, you must be slipping because you really blew it with your comments on Ben Graves. Did you read his bio at all? He has only TWO years of law practice experience and says he came home from Bay Minette due to his grandfather’s illness. In other words he didn’t come home because he wanted to be here at all. Then he has THREE years experience as municipal judge. Five Years in all, three of them working two days a week. So yes my family and I will be voting for William Smith for Circuit Judge. You got that one right!

Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We reread the statements of both candidates and will add that Mr. Graves is also guilty of failing to use the Oxford comma. Shame, shame! (Sorry, Ben, the Grammar Nazi in us couldn’t resist.)

In all seriousness, while we believe Ben Graves is an honorable man, he doesn’t have the experience to perform the duties of circuit judge. Every action of a judge is closely examined in criminal trials, and Lauderdale County doesn’t have the funds to waste on retrials when there is a judicial error.

Three places where experience counts the most? The cockpit, the operating room, and the court room.


From Tuscumbia Muskrat:

So who is to blame for the carnage that was once known as Tuscumbia’s Spring Park Fountain Show?

For the sake of argument I know that everything on this earth will face the bashing of mother nature and father time. However, if you don’t provide proper maintenance then the results could lead to costly consequences or irreversible damage.

So let’s begin by dissecting the events that bring us to where we are today:

April 2002 – The newly renovated Spring Park offers its first Fountain Show. The Fountain Show was one of many city renovations provided by the generosity of Harvey Robbins.

Under the original Robbins’ Project management the park attractions and fountain show operated with minor hiccups and like clockwork everything was ready to operate each Spring.

2005 – The City of Tuscumbia assumed some of the Robbins’ projects. (Including the Fountain Show)

2007 – The Robbins’ Projects are almost fully transitioned to the City of Tuscumbia. Also the Robbins’ Project's original personnel transferred under the City of Tuscumbia. The nonprofit Tuscumbia Railroad still operated the Old Depot.

2010 – The City of Tuscumbia takes full ownership of the Railway Company assets.

Three Months later – City announces that it brought in $40,000 from ticket revenue from rides since taking ownership of the Railway Company assets.

October 2010 – City announces a 3 percent pay raise due to the increase in the year’s budget.

Summer 2012 – Concerns of employee(s) stealing Spring Park ticket money.

Fall 2013 – The last of the original personnel from the Robbins’ Project are no longer employed with the City of Tuscumbia

December 2013 – More missing ticket money (around $2,000). Investigation started. Suddenly investigation stopped.

May 2014 – The Waterfall is broken. Blamed on muskrats.

June 2014 – The Waterfall is working again just before the Helen Keller Festival.

Summer/Fall 2014 – The Fountain Show is working on and off. The park train is operating with less compartments.

April 2015 – Fountain Show is not working and thus, not ready for Spring Park’s Spring opening.

April 2015 – Local citizens question the conditions of Spring Park’s poor condition. (i.e. the rotting of the Tree Indian Carving, peeling paint of the carousel horses, missing boards on the railroad bridge, a large hole in the women’s restroom door, missing train compartments, etc.)

Spring 2015 - A group of citizens form “Friends of Spring Park”.

June 2015 – A community clean-up is scheduled at Spring Park.

June 2015 – A group of people try to salvage the Tree Indian Carving. (Unfortunately it is eventually removed from the park)

February 16, 2016 – An expert reveals the huge estimated cost to overhaul the Fountain Show.

2015 / 2016 - Many individuals are removing their privately loaned collections from the depot museum and park.

So what do I expect in the next couple of months? Why of course....More EXCUSES! I think we are long past due on seeing the real cause of concern. We are witnessing the collapse of our Spring Park attractions. Our Park Manager does not have a handle on the situation. Plain and simply put, he doesn’t know what he is doing. However, I can't let the Park Manager take all the blame. Of course the mayor will look the other way and deny the facts. I don’t know if Mr. Shoemaker understands that his mayoral legacy is riding the coat tails of delusion. The Mayor and Park Manager have proven that they cannot take care of what Harvey Robbins built. I really hate to grasp at straws but I'm hoping the mayoral election will provide a person who will be strong enough to make the personnel changes that we desperately need... or is it too late?


We see that part of Coffee Cemetery is again being referred to as the “Servants’ Cemetery.” No, it was the Slaves’ Cemetery. The individuals buried there had no choice but to labor for the Coffee family. They weren’t servants who could negotiate better employment in the next county. By this feeble attempt to whitewash history, the TD is actually minimizing the great tragedy that was slavery and the lives that slaves were forced to lead.


Yeezy Does It

First he was Jesus, now he’s Uncle Walt.

But don’t be too harsh; it’s really not his fault.

So don’t diss his music or his lack of class;

All he needs is a Taylor Swift kick in the a**.


Special Report: UNCONFIRMED Penalties Facing Muscle Shoals Football

We've had so many questions on this, that we decided to offer what has been sent to us. This is, at this point, unconfirmed. We will update in a regular post at a later date.


AHSAA obviously called the sportswriter that broke the story early on and told him he should re-cant his story. He said no, that he reported the truth. Seems they told him there might come a day he would have to swear in court that he told the truth. He supposedly told them they would have to swear they didn't call him and tell him to lie.

Reported leaks about AHSAA sanctions to come down the pipe:

Basden 1 year suspension of coaching/A.D. license
Fire Balentine / 1 year suspension of coaching Sanctions
No Playoff bids for ANY sports teams at MSCS for 1 year.

Shoalanda -- Still Holding the Block

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Talking Turkey: Lauderdale Circuit Judge Place Two

James Irby, a Florence attorney in private practice, and Will Powell, an assistant Lauderdale district attorney, are both vying for the Republican nomination in the race for Lauderdale Circuit Judge Place Two. Both gentlemen are extremely qualified.

Who will win? Irby has obviously outspent Powell in political advertising, but until the beginning of this election season, didn’t have the name recognition that Powell has.

Will Powell:

Will Powell joined the Lauderdale County DA’s office in January 2005 as Chief Assistant District Attorney. He earned his law degree from The University of Alabama School of Law after receiving an undergraduate degree from Rhodes College.

Mr. Powell is an experienced trial attorney. He has successfully prosecuted multiple felony cases, including capital murder cases. He also chairs the Multidisciplinary Task Force focusing on cases involving children who are victims of physical and/or sexual abuse.

Prior to joining the Lauderdale County DA’s office, Mr. Powell worked as a Deputy District Attorney in the Montgomery County DA’s office, at which time he was honored as Prosecutor of the Year by VOCAL (Victims of Crime and Leniency). In addition to his duties as Chief Assistant DA, Mr. Powell is an adjunct Professor of Criminal Law at the University of North Alabama.

Mr. Powell is married to Emily Rhodes. The Powells have three children.

James Irby:

Born and raised in Lauderdale County, James Irby's roots in the local community run deep. After graduating from Henry A. Bradshaw High School in Florence, James Irby continued his education in Lauderdale County, receiving his Bachelors degree and two seperate Masters Degrees from the University of North Alabama. He then went to the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa and earned his Doctorate in Education before getting his Juris Doctorate from Thomas Goode Jones School of Law at Faulkner University in Montgomery.

Shortly after receiving his Bachelor's degree from UNA, James Irby went to work for Sheffield City Schools as their Band Director, working there for 11 years before going to work as an Assistant Principal in Decatur. James has served as the Principal of Guntersville High School, as well as Superintendent for the City School Boards of Roanoke and Athens.

After earning his Law Degree, James Irby went to work for Sherrill, Batts & Shipman in Athens, where he focused on special education law, prosecuting over 200 state-level special education due process hearings under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act,protecting the rights of special education students to receive quality instruction.

James Irby then returned to his home of Lauderdale County and practiced education, personal injury, and criminal defense law at Potts & Young before opening up his own practice on Tennessee St in historic downtown Florence in late 2007. In addition to continuing his focus on personal injury and criminal defense law, he represents the Lauderdale County and Decatur City Boards of Education. James currently lives in Florence with his wife Margaret, who works with him at his law firm.

James Irby has been admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, the Eleventh Circuit United States Court of Appeals, the United States District Courts for the Northern and Middle Districts of Alabama, the Alabama Supreme Court, and all Circuit, District, and Municipal Courts of Alabama.

Does one have an edge over the other? We believe that one is in fact prepared to better serve in this judicial position. It’s a given that most who face criminal trials are indeed guilty. Judges primarily act as a type of referee between opposing council in making sure the letter of the law is followed. They also sentence those who have taken a plea deal—most of the accused in the legal system.

The salient point is that Will Powell obviously has the more experience in dealing with criminal matters. He’s always been there for victims’ families, as well as not participating in some of the theatrics we often see in other courtrooms (think Colbert County). We endorse Assistant District Attorney Will Powell in the race for Lauderdale Circuit Judge Place Two.


We were asked a question about William Smith and Ben Graves. Neither candidate holds an elected post. Mr. Smith was appointed to act as county license commissioner and Mr. Graves was hired to serve as municipal judge.


One year into DreamVision and no one thinks there will be any amusement park in the Shoals unless the state legislature comes to town. DreamVision promoter Bryan Robinson has now been accused of taking 500,000.00 from three local investors without purchasing the investment property he had proposed to buy with the funds.

So what did Robinson do with the money? We’re sure to see at least civil suits over this. There’s nothing like court records to reveal the actual money trail. We await.


Some Alabama legislators think supplemental nutrition funding recipients should be drug tested. Just how does that work in case of couples where one tests positive and the other negative? Does DHR make them live apart, never breaking bread together?

Perhaps some think disqualifying those who use recreational drugs from receiving any EBTs will more than offset the cost of drug testing (actual test kits and time expended by DHR workers in administering these tests). We have a better idea: Each time a legislator is arrested for impaired driving, or on any charge for that matter, he/she has to pay the state $10,000.00. That should help the budget out just a little.


Monday, February 15, 2016

Talking Turkey: Lauderdale Circuit Judge Place One

Long time Florence attorney and current Lauderdale License Commissioner William Smith will face attorney/property manager Ben Graves in the Republican primary on March 1st.  Both are seeking to serve as Lauderdale County Circuit Court Judge Place One, a judgeship that is currently vacant due to the surprise resignation of Billy Jackson. There are no Democratic contenders for this office, so the primary is the election as far as this race is concerned.

We have requested statements from each candidate. We received one from Smith; however, we have not yet received one from Graves and will use his promotional material in its stead. Several of our bloggers have received requests from Graves asking for campaign contributions.

About William Smith:

William Smith, a veteran Florence attorney, former Lauderdale County Commissioner, and current Lauderdale County License Commissioner is a Republican candidate for Lauderdale County Circuit Court Judge, Place #1 in the Republican Primary set for March 1, 2016.  The office is being vacated by Judge Billy Jackson and is an open seat.

Smith said, “I have accomplished my goal of transforming the Lauderdale County License Commissioner’s Office into a 21st century digital office.  I have been a practicing attorney and student of the law for over a quarter of a century.  It is now time for me to return to my true passion, the law.  I have the experience the people of Lauderdale County can trust to be their next Circuit Court Judge.  With guidance from the Lord and the approval of the voters, I hope to bring my God-given talents to the office of Lauderdale County Circuit Judge so I can continue serving the people of Lauderdale County by fairly and impartially administering the law.”

The circuit court is the highest court in the county.  A circuit judge rules on all of the cases which come before the circuit court.  These cases include all criminal felony prosecutions, capital murder prosecutions, civil cases where the amount in controversy exceeds $10,000.00, divorce cases, child support cases, cases involving the placement of children in custody disputes, and juvenile cases.

Most of the problems in our society can be traced to the breakdown of the American family. President Reagan said, “The family has always been the cornerstone of American society.  Our families nurture, preserve, and pass on to each succeeding generation the values we share and cherish, values that are the foundation of our freedom.”  It is no coincidence most of the criminal, civil, family law, and juvenile cases in our court system are a direct result of the breakdown of the family and much of it stems from divorce.  “As Circuit Judge, I will explore ways, when possible, to intervene and try to preserve as many marriages as possible”, said Smith.

Children from broken homes many times end up in juvenile court accused of committing a criminal act or being a delinquent.  Smith has a servant’s heart and a heart for young people.  “I have invested a good portion of my life into helping young people channel their energy and actions in a positive direction.  As judge, I want to intervene in the lives of those young men and women who are heading in the wrong direction in juvenile court and help them turn their lives around and become productive members of society,” Smith stated.

If elected, Smith would like to pursue the possibility of establishing a Veterans Treatment Court in Lauderdale County.  Veterans Treatment Courts are designed for veterans who have returned from serving our country in a combat zone and have extreme difficulty readjusting to civilian life.  Some of our military heroes unfortunately return home with issues relating to their mental health, substance abuse, family turmoil, unemployment, and homelessness.  Often times the difficulty of readjusting to life back home has led to some of our veterans being in the criminal justice system and incarcerated.  A Veterans Treatment Court can help these wounded veterans readjust to civilian life and help connect them to the programs, benefits, and services they have earned.

William Smith believes our country was founded on the principles that the state exists to preserve freedom, the separation of governmental powers is central to our Constitution, and it is emphatically the province and duty of our judges to say what the law is, not what it should be.  Our legal system should place a premium on individual liberty, traditional values, and the rule of law.  William believes our United States Constitution is such a sacred document; he has helped give every high school senior in Florence and Lauderdale County their own personal pocket edition of the United States Constitution with the Declaration of Independence on Constitution Day, September 17th for the last six years.

William’s family roots in Lauderdale County date back to the 1820s where his forefathers and ancestors were farmers, soldiers, and some of the earliest settlers in the Greenhill and Killen communities. A fifth generation Lauderdale County resident, William is a product of the Florence City School System, and a graduate of the University of North Alabama where he received both his undergraduate and Masters of Business Administration degrees.  Smith received his law degree from Cumberland School of Law of Samford University in Birmingham in 1992.  He is licensed to practice law in Alabama and Georgia, as well as the federal courts.  His previous work experiences include everything from working on a farm to working as a substitute teacher in public schools to serving as an adjunct professor of Business Law at both Northwest Shoals Community College and the University of North Alabama.

William, who currently serves on the Alabama Statewide Health Coordinating Council (SHCC) which writes and maintains the state health plan, has held a number of leadership positions in the Shoals area including serving as president of organizations such as the University of North Alabama National Alumni Association, Lauderdale County Bar Association, and the Tennessee Valley Historical Society. William is a former vice-president of the University of North Alabama Sportsman’s Club and a former board member of the YMCA of the Shoals, W.C. Handy Festival, and Rape Response of Northwest Alabama. He is a member of the Shoals Chamber of Commerce, Rogersville Chamber of Commerce, Florence Rotary Club, Lauderdale County Cattlemen’s Association, and a board member of the Salvation Army and the Lauderdale County Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) Advisory Board.

For the past decade, William Smith has been one of the leaders of the local Republican Party.  Since 2006, he has served on the Alabama State Republican Party Executive Committee and the Lauderdale County Republican Executive Committee.  He was a delegate to the Republican National Conventions in 2008 and 2012.  In addition, he has served as President of the Shoals Republican Club as well as leadership positions on numerous campaigns for Republican candidates to federal, state, and local offices.

William and his wife, Laura, reside in Killen with their two year old daughter, Angel Joy.  The Smiths are active members of Highland Baptist Church where he has served as youth basketball coach, discipleship leader, Sunday school teacher, international missions worker, greeter, and nursery volunteer.  William’s parents are Bill and Christine Smith of Florence. His father is a former head basketball and baseball coach at Deshler High School and later served as the Lauderdale County Juvenile Probation Officer and Attendance Supervisor for the Florence City Schools. William’s mother was a public school teacher for over 35 years at Blake Elementary School in Sheffield as well as Appleby, Weeden, and Hibbett schools in Florence.

William Smith is a proven public servant.  He will protect and defend traditional Alabama values.  William Smith is uniquely qualified to be Lauderdale County Circuit Judge because he has the legal experience and real life experience county residents can trust.

About Ben Graves:

I am running as a Republican for Circuit Judge in Lauderdale County, Alabama. Currently I serve as the Municipal Judge of Florence.

Born and raised in Florence, husband, father, and fourth generation citizen, Republican Judge Ben Graves knows many of you as his friend and neighbor. A graduate of Bradshaw High School, University of North Alabama, and University of Alabama School of Law in 2005, he was appointed as the Florence municipal judge in January 2013. Prior to his appointment he worked for the law firm of Stone, Granade & Crosby, PC in Bay Minette, AL but readily returned home in 2007 to help run a family business when his grandfather became ill.

Ben is diligent, conscientious, and a hard worker and will bring that same work ethic, dedication and integrity to the office of Circuit Court Judge. He closes an average of 370 non-traffic cases each month (4500 per year) as municipal judge. He believes the best way to help his community through the courts is to help people hold on to a semblance of normalcy and implement efficiencies in the judicial process.

Ben and his wife, Mindi, are active members of First Baptist Church in Florence and believe that faith in God is the foundation of everything we do.

We see that Graves has stated he has experience since he is the current Florence Municipal judge. Has he? Municipal courts do not handle felonies, something even the family court judge will be called upon to do at times. Those who have sought to contact Graves since he joined city court have found that he has no law practice but works in property management at a company with which his mother is connected.

William Smith has been actively practicing law for over 25 years. He has experience in both family and criminal law. Any jobs obtained by Smith or positions to which he was appointed were the result of his abilities, not his family connections.

A young attorney who practices in Florence Municipal Court once told us that Graves has tantrums. While we can’t promise with 100% certainty that William will not throw such a tantrum, we doubt the odds favor his doing such. The odds do favor William Smith making a great family court judge.

We wholeheartedly endorse William Smith for Lauderdale County Circuit Court Judge Place One!


If any of our readers happen to see a mushroom cloud over the athletic department of a certain local school, don’t worry. It’s not toxic to any honest individuals.


Sunday, February 14, 2016

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Black History at the TD/Dewey Mitchell

February is Black History Month, and the TimesDaily celebrated by removing Jump Start, the only comic strip it carried to feature predominantly black characters (We’ll miss you, Pop). Also missing is Beetle Bailey. 

The replacements? Lio and Non Sequitur, the latter has always been a winner in our department, but may not have that wide appeal. The former? Lio is pretty hit or miss, but obviously appeals to those who can’t read—the TD’s main audience. Why the change out? We’re guessing money was the bottom line. The TD also replaced Ask Amy with Dear Abby Warmed Over.


It seems that the Shoals Chamber of Commerce will now be looking for a new prexy. Perhaps this position can be filled by one from north of the Mexican border and south of the Canadian border?

So how about the now one month old vacancy in Lauderdale Circuit Court Place One? We don’t expect to see any action on that position until after the March 1st primary. William Smith faces Ben Graves in a hotly contested race for what’s commonly referred to as family court judge. We will begin making endorsements next week.


Note to Lauderdale County Commission Chair Dewey Mitchell concerning the new Florence-Lauderdale Animal Shelter: Perhaps when the county ponies up as much funding as the city, the county may expect equal input into its planning. We’re sure that Florence officials greatly appreciated your telling them where to stick the shelter; now they may feel much more free to tell you where to stick it…


Has John Pilati moved away from Franklin County; he is no longer showing up on the county's sex offender registry.


We are always happy to publish views opposing those we have advocated here. The only exception to that policy involves articles supporting violence and rape, especially those acts aimed at women and children.


Friday, February 12, 2016

Has Rob Carnegie Gotten Another Title?

From a TimesDaily article on Sheffield's Earth Day:

Musical guests include the Shoals rock band An Abstract Theory, bluesman Max Russell, Shoals Tourism CEO Rob Carnegie and the award winning Uncle Shuffelo and his Haint Hollow Hootenanny from Tennessee from Rover, Tennessee.

As far as we know, Robbie baby is president and CEO of only the Florence-Lauderdale Tourism Office. Perhaps he's branching out...or only padding his resume'.



Thursday, February 11, 2016

Should a Three Year-Old Face Murder Charges?

This is not about guns; this is about a three year-old child who intentionally aims a gun at someone and pulls the trigger. Unfortunately, it’s happened in Alabama, and we see that some have suggested the boy be placed in juvenile detention until he’s 18. Should he?

Kimberly Jade Reylander, aged nine, was shot dead on Saturday afternoon at her great-grandparents’ home in Irondale. Police are calling the shooting an accident due to the fact the young boy allegedly didn’t know the gun was “real.” Since the gun was found on a nightstand, it’s entirely possible the larger sibling picked up the gun first and initiated the play. Still, three year-old Jaxon Fuller Reylander aimed at his sister and pulled the trigger.

If the ages had been reversed, would police seek charges? Quite possibly. Should they seek them now against a three year-old, one who judging by photographs was at least three in mid-December of last year. It’s a difficult call to make. Alabama is notoriously hard on some crimes, but we’re betting this one brings no consequences, either for the youth or his family, whom others have suggested are ultimately responsible.


We realize that ideally guns should be kept in extremely safe places, but isn’t it time that all parents teach children not to touch a gun under any circumstances until they’re told to?


What can the Super Bowl Choir tell us? If you’re not familiar with the singers, each was born exactly nine months after a super bowl. It’s always interesting to look back nine months before anyone’s birth. Was there a snow storm? A graduation party? Some other interesting event?

Why hawk hover boards? We should sell home lobotomy kits.


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Tale of Two Christophers

Grant Campbell Mug Shot
We’ve recently received two communications asking us to advocate for certain people. Let’s look at the first one:

Chris Martin – Chris was convicted of manslaughter in the death of Grant Campbell, a man with a dishonorable military discharge and who, according to friends, was often guilty of bizarre behavior and who held a knife to a woman’s throat the night of his death.

At the time, we thought it was a fair verdict, but we understand there may be evidence that didn't make it to the trial. The conviction is currently under appeal, but Chris was denied an appeal bond. Why? It seems Colbert County prosecutor Bryce Graham stated Chris was a flight risk. Really? He had deep roots in Sheffield and had owned his home for eight years.

This is the same Bryce Graham who wouldn’t try Ron Wikkid Weems for Capital Murder by adding rape/attempted rape to the charges, even though Weems’ three cohorts in crime (now walking free among normal people) stated the victim was undressed from the waist down?

Is there a way to hurry the appeal? As far as we know, there is not. There is a way to advance Chris’ parole date. It’s not easy, but it can be done. Chris is currently in the Bullock Correctional Facility with a release date of 2035; he is eligible for parole. Anyone who wishes to help Chris may write:

Alabama Board of Pardons & Paroles
Re: Chris Martin, AIS#  28356
301 South Ripley Street
Montgomery, AL  36130
Main Fax: 334.353.9400

The board needs to know that Chris is highly unlikely to reoffend, that he is remorseful for Campbell’s death, and that he will be welcomed back into the community with gainful employment.

We're waiting on some transcripts and will have more later.


Christopher Barnett: We’ve stated before that we sometimes receive odd communications which often state something to the effect their boyfriend is innocent since the four year old seduced him. We’ve received one such request in relation to the former minister at a local Baptist church, now under indictment for the fraudulent use of a credit card.

The person, whom we won’t name, first stated that we have a reputation for fighting for the underdog. No, we hope we have a reputation for standing for what’s right. Our writer then informed us that not just the two individuals arrested, but at least 10 people were using the card for presumably personal needs. Oh, well, that makes it all right then? Barnett personally used the card to the tune of $125,000.00 in four years--this is all while drawing a salary. So in effect, he gave himself a raise of over 31,000.00 a year.

The writer continued that the minister had been having problems with the “ruling family” of the church. Ruling family? As we recently stated, we have at least one Baptist who is connected to this blog, but we’ve never heard the expression “ruling family.” Aren’t Baptist congregations ruled by deacons? Perhaps it’s some arcane practice like Mormon holy underwear? Yet this request actually came from a person whom we would have anticipated would possess at least some Biblical knowledge.

From what our informed sources have told us, the minister in question had used what could be called fraudulent credentials to get the position at the church. He then used the church’s credit card to purchase, among other things, a vacation (read: stealing money given to promote God’s work). It also seems that if the church had not turned over the indicted pair to law enforcement, some upstanding members of the church community would have been personally responsible for the bills which had been mounting up.

No, we’re cheering for the prosecution in this one.


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Judicial Follies?/Martha Norton

We've been made aware that the father of Shannon Johnson was allowed into proceedings today. According to reports, and they vary, the bottom line is that it was all a mix-up yesterday. The younger Johnson was found guilty.

That brings us to several reports we have on the innocence of the Johnson brothers in the death of Keith Barnett. We haven't either the legal or investigative abilities to know the truth of the situation. If guilty, both brothers are where they belong. If innocent, we hope they soon prove it.

Due to several factors in these two cases, there are undoubtedly several appeals in the works. No judge is perfect, but we do greatly respect all our local sitting jurists.


Is the judicial system perfect? Hardly. If you've had a warrant out for you, you should check to be sure it's canceled. We linked some warrant information on Martha Dyer Norton yesterday. Apparently Ms. Norton thought it had been cleared up when the charges were still listed as active in Colbert County. Her "most wanted" information still shows up, but as of today is listed as "called back to court."

We understand Ms. Norton wants to sue Colbert County. News flash; she can't win. Accidents happen. That's why everyone should be vigilant in making sure their legal matters are indeed cleared up. On that note, if your attorney doesn't do what he/she says will be done, you should report the matter to both the judge and the state bar ethics committee.


Monday, February 8, 2016

Civil Rights Infringement in Johnson Trial

The perjury trial of Shannon Johnson began this morning. We've been informed that while members of Keith Barnett's family were allowed in the courtroom, the father of Johnson, a man in his 70s, was not allowed to enter.

While we have the greatest sympathy for the Barnett family, there is no need to abuse an older man in some misguided effort at revenge. We feel sure the deputies assigned to the court room could have handled Mr. Johnson if he had decided to show off any of his ninja moves.


Body? What body? Apparently the only body found in Colbert County on Saturday night/Sunday morning was in Leighton, and the deceased had passed away from natural causes. We're guessing someone had simply partied a little too much, and the rumor mill went into overdrive.


Thanks to L. Stone for this idea. From the "Lone Harranger" (Feel free to share):


Sunday, February 7, 2016

Where's the Gym?

If you’re a regular reader of Rheta Johnson’s weekly column, you know she lives just outside Iuka, Mississippi—not quite the Big Apple, but bigger than Rascaltown. In her most recent column, she discussed her new gym membership and not with any great favor. She commented that it was painted purple and gold inside; here’s a snippet:

The club is scab ugly. Let me begin there. Health, in my opinion, should include an emotional component, and who can be mentally disposed to become fit if the place you’re exercising is garish, a love child of Chuck E. Cheese and the ER?
If you have the sensibilities of a colorblind goat, you’ll gag at bright purple and gold as a backdrop for sweating people. I suspected that a health club would not look like the inside of Sainte-Chapelle, but this is beyond the pale.
There’s an off chance that the gym in question isn’t in the Shoals, but we’re betting it’s in Florence. Does the description give anyone a clue?


Anyone out there like the proposed legislative bill to allow representations of the Ten Commandments in our government buildings? If you said yes, we’re sure you’ll like the similar new monuments to the words of Mohammad and in praise of Satan, because that’s what you’ll get. Of course, you could be lucky and just get a lawsuit that takes money away from schools, streets, etc.


We've been sent reports of a woman's body having been found late last night in an area of Sheffield commonly called Baptist Bottom. We've not been able to verify that rumor.


Saturday, February 6, 2016

Omitting Jerry Don/Angel Again

A reader asked us why we didn’t include Jerry Don Crowden and John Wesley Akin in our list of five local bad boys that haven’t left the system in over six or more years. The same of Crowden can be said, but since he’s doing a 20 year sentence in the state prison system, he’s had no new arrests. We doubt he’ll make parole; his current end of sentence date is May 2033.

Akin? He certainly did his criminal career up right, but in a very short period of time. In other words, he was no shoe-in for a career criminal, just someone who made some very bad choices concerning drugs and paid the highest possible punishment for it. Will he make parole? It’s certainly a possibility, and we would think few would oppose it when the time comes.


So how about all those crimes you committed 30 years ago? We were a little taken aback yesterday to see a crane operator vilified for three DUIs from the 1980s after a fatal accident in NYC. News media knew that his initial tests for alcohol were negative (something could show up in blood tests later), but they still published his arrest record from 30 years ago.

This blog does not do that, even though we have frequent requests concerning political candidates, business people, etc. Commit a new crime? Then yes, any old mistakes are fair game.


Change Court Street in Florence from four to two lanes in order to increase parking? That was suggested at a recent planning meeting. How much of Court Street currently has parallel parking? Not that much we can recall off hand. We’re at a loss as to how the town’s high street could handle truck deliveries and similar vehicle stops if actual driving space were narrowed. We’re also at a loss as to why anyone would want to detract from the main street’s beauty In order to obtain a few more parking spaces.

Apparently no one at the meeting questioned the underuse of the Pine Street Parking deck. Certainly no one suggested curtailing new eateries that contribute to the 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. dearth of spaces. Everything in life is a trade off. Let’s not trade Court Street’s beauty for three hours of convenience a day.


It seems Angel Gieske’s charges in Colbert County relate to her fraudulent counseling services. Colbert is the only one that has specifically charged her with the possession of a fraudulent instrument. Walker and Lauderdale have charged the Rascaltown, Tennessee, woman with only Theft.

Yes, Angel is from that tres metropolitan community of Rascaltown, but we see where some are now referring to it as “North Lexington.” Wonder how actual residents of Lexington feel about that?


Friday, February 5, 2016

Rape?/Florence Animal Shelter

We’ve received several communications about the alleged rape that recently resulted in the arrest of a local attorney and our blog concerning the case. First, we’ve published statements from Mr. Underwood before and at times did not agree totally with his opinions on the matter. We’re sure we will do so in the future. Our publishing anyone’s statement on any issue does not constitute absolute agreement with it, but it’s our right to publish what we wish.

Do we agree with Billy Underwood’s take on the “rape” case? Yes, we do. As for those who have said it probably wasn’t rape but just a business transaction to pay a fee, there was no fee owned, at least to the attorney. He had been court appointed, and the court system would pay him. The female client, if convicted of the charges against her, would have then owed the court system and such fees would have become part of her restitution. So that would leave what? Spontaneous lust that sprang up between an attorney and his client in the middle of a work afternoon with others milling about just outside the door. No, that last scenario certainly didn’t happen outside a Viagra commercial.

While we do have sympathy for anyone falsely accused, our main problem with the situation is that it reflects badly on women who have legitimate complaints against men who have committed sexual abuse and rape for years and gotten away with it…even facing a jury and being found not guilty.


It seems the state is about to get four new prisons…maybe. Perhaps we need Gov. Bentley in Lauderdale County to get things started with our new animal shelter. It’s looking like we’ll get the prisons first.

A friend once told us that the 1970s renovation of Wilson Park was at least partly simultaneous with the private construction of the Florence Clinic addition. The park renovations began first, then immediately across the street a drug store and Victorian home were demolished, a full basement dug, and finally a two-story office building constructed. At the end of the construction, the park renovations were still not completed.

We have to ask if anyone is holding the city’s feet to the fire over finding a location for the new shelter? During the last municipal elections, the possible construction of the Cloverdale Road Walmart was a hot topic; in 2016 it would appear the shelter may be a deciding factor on how some vote, particularly in District One.


Thursday, February 4, 2016

Trials?/Justin Green

If there were no more delays or a plea deal put in place, the Theft by Deception trial of Angel Gieske in Walker County and the Drug Distribution trial of Brady Ann Irons in Lauderdale County were to have begun today. Both trials were long overdue, but obviously the wheels of justice will eventually grind, slowly or not.


Mary Anne Rippey, a strong VOCAL advocate, has been published as endorsing Will Powell for Circuit Judge in Lauderdale County. We would like to hear from both Mr. Powell and his opponent James Irby before our endorsement is made here.

Ms. Rippey is the sister of Danny Sledge, a Florence restaurant owner who was murdered during a robbery in the early 1990s. We were looking at a DOC photo of convicted killer Nathan Boyd earlier this week and couldn’t help but notice that the former Florence man, now doing Life Without in Donaldson Prison, was sporting quite a bleached quiff.

We assume either Boyd or someone close to him works in the infirmary and has access to the hydrogen peroxide—our tax dollars at work. Donaldson is a maximum security prison and supposedly the inmates’ actions are highly monitored. Perhaps one doing Life Without has no fear of any disciplinary actions?


Any readers out there watching An American Crime Story? There is a moral here, young ladies. If he’s married or in prison/on probation when you meet him, run. Oh, but you say he’s different. Let us ask you this: Just how many times does he have to be arrested before you realize that no, he’s really not the exception to the rule after all?


Justin Green is supposedly now serving time in Lauderdale Community Corrections for his involvement in the death of his 14 month old daughter, yet photos of him posing with his newest addition by still another woman have surfaced on social media. The latest child’s mother is no longer claiming him on Facebook. Trouble in paradise or merely a belated attempt at discretion?


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Florence v. St. Florian Redux

It hasn’t been that long ago that the town of St. Florian lamented how unfair it was of Florence to suggest the cessation of a defective sewer line service to a mobile home park located in that small northern Lauderdale community. Now it seems both Florence and St. Florian are claiming planning jurisdiction on a proposed subdivision. The subdivision may never materialize, but if it does, it will be interesting to see if sparks again fly between the two towns.


If any of our readers felt a disturbance in the force yesterday, remember it was the first day of a new legislative session in Montgomery, or what many in the state consider Alabama’s answer to Comedy Central. After all, we don’t want to be outdone by Donald and Hillary. The new session is also playing havoc with weather forecasting in south Alabama since Montgomery ground hogs were afraid to exit their dens.


We don’t usually comment on national news, but most of our readers are aware of last month’s helicopter crash in Hawaii which claimed the lives of twelve US Marines, one of them a Florence native. Now it’s been revealed that Lt. Col. Edward Pavelka was relieved from his duty as leader of Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463 on January 11 because Brig. Gen. Russell Sanborn had lost confidence in his ability. The official inquiries into the crash should be extremely interesting. Unfortunately, if blame for the crash can be placed at shoddy practices initiated by higher ups, it will hardly mitigate the grief of the 12 affected families.


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Attorney Billy Underwood's Statement on Accused Don Tipper

Donald Tipper is a long time Florence attorney who is accused of having forcible sex with a client in the Keystone Center on Seminary Street in Florence in 2011. Really? Our personal opinion is the offices are so close to each other that any screams of protest would be heard. Not to mention who would want to have sex with his/her attorney?

Here is attorney Billy Underwood's statement on the alleged crime:

On the 5th of February, 2011, the alleged victim pled guilty in Florence Municipal Court to Theft of Property 3rd Degree. She was arrested sometime after this plea and pled guilty in May, 2011 to a misdemeanor in Lauderdale County District Court. This plea was a reduction of a felony and she was placed on probation for both cases for one year. Probation means she was supposed to be good and not get arrested or in any further trouble.
On the 10th of July, 2011, the victim was again arrested for Theft of Property in the City of Florence. Don Tipper was appointed to represent her concerning an attempt by the City of Florence to revoke her prior sentences. Tipper has a note in his file which shows the victim called his office the 3rd of August, 2011 and made an appointment with him the 19th of August, 2011.
Two days before the victim was to visit with Tipper, Florence Police pulled her over and she received a ticket for Switched Tag and was also arrested for Possession of Marijuana 2nd. There is no question the City of Florence and State of Alabama sentences for one year would be enforced and the victim would be placed in jail for these recent arrests.  
On the day in question, the victim arrived at Keystone Business Center around 1:10 p.m. and went into Tipper’s office around 1:25. Sometime around 1:35 to 1:40, a lawyer knocked on Tipper’s office door and asked if she could copy some legal documents. Tipper told her she could. This female lawyer has given an affidavit stating the female victim left Tipper’s office within five to ten minutes after she arrived. The alleged victim appeared completely calm. She was not disheveled and had no bruises or marks on her.
The two women downstairs who worked at Keystone Business Center both gave affidavits stating they saw the victim come down and meet a man with one leg who had accompanied her to the business center. The couple calmly talked and were concerned about which exit they would use because the man had fallen down when entering the building. She had no bruises on her and her clothing was not disheveled.
During the course of our investigation, this attorney spoke with two males who lived with the victim from September, 2011 to December, 2011. The men stated she told them she had not been raped by Tipper but was going to use this as an opportunity to stay out of jail and get money from him.
No matter what, Don Tipper’s life is ruined from this day forward. A victory in court does not exonerate him in the eyes of the public because everyone knows 50% percent will say he did rape the victim and 50% that he was exonerated. His ability to practice law is ended.  I hope that after a trial there will be some satisfaction with a not-guilty verdict.

William J. Underwood

Wonder if Billy has any new clients in Franklin County?