Thursday, June 30, 2016

Not So Cool Schools in Tuscumbia & Lauderdale?

The following are two recent comments from readers on local schools:

A few years ago, and after many complaints by teachers, a national educational accreditation committee advised the Tuscumbia City Schools school board to 'back off' the 'micro-management' of the system's schools. The school board agreed to do so, but never actually did. The school board continued to do what they were told NOT to do, and haven't stopped. System school administrators have virtually ZERO say in who is placed in their respective schools. Few, if any, interviews are actually conducted for vacancies. Instead, school board members 'inform' principals who will be 'hired'. Actual hiring is said to be determined by two factors: Coaching ability, and personal (family) relationship with board member(s). Coaching ability is said to trump teaching experience and content knowledge.


The Lauderdale County Board of Education does not carry Workmen’s Compensation on its employees. Any work- related accident must be reported to your supervisor within 24 hours. An injury report must be completed. If medical care is required, [a] the employee will need to file on his/her own hospital/medical insurance. [b] Out-of-pocket expenses may be filed with the State Board of Adjustment for possible reimbursement.


An imaginary exchange:

Alabama Legislator: I have a great idea. Let's take a lot of our tax dollars and build a care home for all the Zika babies that will be born in this state in the next few years.

Voice of Common Sense: Why not take that money to familiarize citizens about the virus. Tell them to avoid areas where mosquitoes are located, but if they can't do that, wear insect repellent and avoid unprotected sex?

An exchange that no one listens to:

Alabama Legislator: I have a great idea. Let's take a lot of our tax dollars and pass indefensible laws against abortion regulations and clinics in this state.

Voice of Common Sense: Why not take that money to explain reproduction in detail to all pupils in public schools. Tell them to wait until they're ready to be a parent before they have sex, but if they can't do that, carefully explain contraception. Voila! No unwanted pregnancies.


It's time for a Bi Lifestyle in this state. No, we're not talking about sex; we're speaking of jobs. We need to encourage high school students to think about both a career they need as well as a career they want. If any out there wish to obtain a degree in goat cheese production and marketing, that's great. Go for it. We do suggest you also learn a trade, as in welding or plumbing or some other vocational mainstay.

Just because you know you're in the top ten all time great graphic comic illustrators, don't assume you'll immediately get a job in that field...and not leave Frog Pond to do it. Make sure you have a vocation to fall back on when the latest war on terror creates a shortage of artist's ink.


We're not placing any bets on August trials for these three, but here's the schedule:

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Our Bad Boys Being Even Badder

We had only this week been asked a question about Jerry Don Crowden, currently doing 20 years in a state department of corrections facility, when we saw this:


A reader has informed us that Lexie Graham of Red Bay passed away last week. Mr. Graham was for years the bankroll behind his son Hershel Dale Graham's legal battle to remain free. If any are wondering, no, Hershel isn't dead yet, even though his legal dream team had secured Judge Terry Dempsey's permission for him to spend his "last days" in Red Bay with this father.

Hershel does remain in the Kilby Prison Infirmary idling away his hours in bed while his victim David Andrasik remains dead. Hershel is scheduled to be released on probation next February; however, now that his father is gone, will he have a home?


Here's a bad boy we've never mentioned before: Jimmy Clyde Brown. Why mention him now? As with most career criminals, Brown's legal trespasses over the years have not only mounted up, they've escalated. Brown's most recent victim was a woman who had the incredibly bad judgment to date him...and almost wound up dead for her lapse in taste. Ladies, beware; his next girlfriend might not leave the relationship still breathing.


Last, we have Justin Matthew Green, currently serving a 12 month community corrections sentence in the death of his toddler daughter. For those who think 24 months in prison is far too light a sentence for a man who killed his daughter in an auto accident, how do you feel about only one year in "community corrections" for a man who was responsible for his daughter's death by strangulation?

The last time we checked in on Green, he had just become a father again last December, and all was bliss in his relationship with the new baby mama, Alas, it seems the young lady in question finally wised up; now she refers to Green as the "sperm donor," a very apt title.

Think this woman who considered Green and their relationship the exception to the rule is stuck with him for the next 21 years? Think again. When the daughter has her first child at the age of 25 or 30, hopefully in the state of matrimony with a loving husband, guess whom this unfortunate woman will probably have to confront. How about even when the daughter is 50 and has a sudden illness? Yes, this misguided young woman will be forced to see Green then as well...assuming he even bothers to show up.

This young woman, who so diligently defended Green when he was under indictment, is now posting articles about sociopaths on her FB page. We hope every woman reading this considers a man's criminal history before entering into a relationship with him, but we're not betting the fireworks show on it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

More Shootings/Prince Comments

Yesterday we blogged on a five year-old girl shot at the Florence skate park; police are still seeking the youths believed responsible for the Airsoft attack. We failed to mention there had been several similar incidents on South Jackson Highway in Sheffield. All the Sheffield incidents involved property only, but are nonetheless troublesome for the business owners affected.

Now we’ve been informed that there have been other recent incidents in Lauderdale County as well. The victims in these property attacks feel the sheriff’s deputies with whom they’ve spoken have not taken the crimes as seriously as they should. Whether the deputies did or didn’t, these may not be murders, but easily could be.

From what we understand, the little girl shot in Florence was indeed lucky to escape with such minor injuries. If the projectile had hit her in the eye or temple, it’s possible she might not have survived. If you have any information, please call Kevin Jackson at 256-760-6557 or Shoals Crime Stoppers at 256-386-8687.


Hi, folks. Prince here, your faithful Canine-American blogger. I’ve got to tell you when I read about the thugs at the skate park, you could have knocked me over with a Frisbee. You see the guys doing the shooting were driving on Fairgrounds Road and we all know that’s Councilman Dave Smith’s district. 

I kept waiting to read about how he was outraged and was going to get to the bottom of the crime, have the hooligans prosecuted, clean up Florence’s neighborhoods. But I guess he was too busy thinking up new ways to stop the new animal shelter to pay any attention. Or maybe he was busy arranging a press conference to sully the reputation of one of his opponents. Could have been a lot of things, couldn’t it?

Hey, I saw Yolanda Johnson out campaigning Saturday. Now there’s a nice lady. I hear Kaytrina Simmons is real nice too. Heard they love dogs and cats and really want to help build up Florence for all of us.

A great big three shakes of my floppy ears for both ladies! Y’all remember to vote in August and don’t forget how Dave Smith has treated your four-legged friends either.


Speaking of dogs, we hear they have some interesting new ones in Sheffield. Look for the Midnight Rider’s next blog to read all about it.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Skate Park Shooting/Sheffield Police

It was Friday, June 16th, and a young family was enjoying the skate park at the recreational complex banded by Fairgrounds Road, Chisholm Road, and Cox Creek Parkway in Florence. At approximately 4:30 p.m., the family took a break and sat in an area adjacent to Fairgrounds Road. It was then that a “distinctive green” Chrysler drove by.

Witnesses said four young men occupied the vehicle, and one in the back seat raised an Airsoft type weapon and fired at the family, hitting the five year-old daughter. The little girl, who was shot in the neck, was not seriously injured, but is now scared to go back to the park.

The vehicle is believed to be similar to this photo; the car may appear gold in some light:

2000 Chrysler 300 in Light Green--Similar to Shooter's Car

Florence police are asking for the public’s help in finding this cadre of youths who have nothing better to do than terrorize an innocent family on what should have been a fun outing. If you have any information about the incident, call Kevin Jackson at 256-760-6557 or Shoals Crime Stoppers at 256-386-8687.

Crime Stoppers usually offers a reward; however, there has been no public statement about one in this crime. We are sincerely hoping that local businesses will come forward to contribute to a reward in this case. Let’s get these thugs off the streets even if it’s just for a few hours until they can make bail.


From a reader: Last Saturday I saw (3) Sheffield PD officers on a traffic stop involving ONE young female. From what I am told, this is a common occurrence. A friend's teenage daughter was stopped riding a scooter in her neighborhood. Again, 3-4 SPD officers responded. While traffic stops and domestic violence calls are THE (2) most dangerous things most officers routinely encounter, Sheffield 'seems' to be 'over doing' 'officer safety'.


We’ve certainly had a great deal of interest in our last two Shoals Crime blogs. As with our Quad-Cities Cuisine blog, we welcome guest submissions:

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Municipal Elections/Ranking Criminals

From readers:

Would you please remind your readers that any resident interested in qualifying to run for office may do so July 5 through July 19, 2016. Call or visit your local town or city clerk’s office. The town of Rogersville for example is in desperate need of candidates, both men & women, for mayor and council. Now is the time for all good men and women to come to the aid of their towns and cities.



We're hearing demands of a total house cleaning not only in Rogersville, but also in Sheffield. While it's unfortunate, there are frequently too few qualified citizens who actually wish to run.


A few days ago we did an article on J.J. Common, calling him our sociopath with the longest rap sheet. A reader sent a public comment to ask if Jerry Don Crowden didn't actually deserve that distinction. While Crowden is indeed serving a 20 year sentence at this point, his list of crimes is still not as long as Common's.

We at one time thought of ranking criminals, and had a few readers ask us to do so. Yet how do you rank crimes? Are three rapes equal to one murder? Three arsons equal to one rape? Assigning a point system sounds good, but actually establishing arbitrary values would be extremely hard. 

We think most of our readers realize that a criminal's sentence depends on the location of his crime, how much money he has for a defense attorney, and whom he knows. It's sad, but it's the truth.


We have a new food review up by Cherry Pitts:

We happily accept food reviews, so if you've eaten somewhere noteworthy recently, please send us a review.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Penny Freeman/ Those Damn Muskrats

Penny Freeman/ Those Damn Muskrats
By:  The Midnight Rider

  As we continue to explore the candidates for the upcoming City/Town Elections, we want to get information out to the voters.  We live outside the City Limits so we will not be able to vote in these elections.  We want to mention here that the following information is given to me by someone that we trust very much.  This article will be about Penny Freeman who is running for City Council District 4 in the City of Sheffield.  They interviewed Miss Freeman for me.  We are relating the information that we got back.  
  My proxy told me that they are impressed with Miss Freeman.  The direct quote was “she is very educated and I think she has a sincere interest in District 4.”  First let’s talk about Freeman’s Education.  She attended and graduated Deshler High School in Tuscumbia. “Go Tigers!” She attended and graduated with a Degree in Math & Science from the University of Alabama, Birmingham.  She works at Academic Solutions in Florence.  Pretty impressive.  
  Miss Freeman is a young lady which means she has young ideas.  As we stated in a previous article, contrary to popular belief, young people do vote. For you that don’t know, District 4 covers a small portion of 2nd Street, South-West Sheffield as well as South-East Sheffield. South-East Sheffield has the Stigma that it is the “crime area” of Sheffield.  While there is some Government Housing located there, there is Government Housing in the rest of the City of Sheffield.  
  What impressed me more than anything is that Miss Freeman has developed, started, got off the ground, whatever you call it, a Neighborhood Watch Program. She has pretty much done this by herself. Yes, she has had some help but it has been a solo act to keep it going. We know that the Chief of Police has been to one Neighborhood Watch meetings and that is it. We would think that the Police Department would want all or any help that it can get.  
   The City of Sheffield needs change.  Ideas that worked back then may and probably will not work today.  Miss Freeman has related to me the following ideas as part of her Platform for her Election:
-Bring new Business in Sheffield.
-Give more opportunities for existing as well as potential Businesses
-Aggressive Grant Writing to provide efficient funding for Community Advancement.
-Efficient Community Center and/or Senior Center and provide funding for that.  
-Make use of dilapidated buildings
-Improve Community Safety
  This is a big and well thought out Platform.  District 4 needs to be restructured.  There are some good people that live in South-East Sheffield. But, there are some problems there to.  If Miss Freeman can make the changes that she is wanting in her Platform, it may just change District 4.  
  Please do your homework on any candidate but more important, get out there and vote.  
Muskrats in Spring Park
We keep reading on this Site about the Muskrat problem at Spring Park. Didn’t Bill Murray have the same problem with a varmint in the movie Caddyshack?  I mean he sniped at it and then ended up flooding the whole golf course.  Maybe the City of Tuscumbia should hire him to get rid of the Muskrat.  What, a minute?  It was a Gopher in Caddyshack.  Ahh well, same thing.  
I am and will always be the Midnight Rider.


We have the greatest respect for police officers. Yet we know there are bad apples out there. There are also those who have a bad day and make some very bad decisions. We understand that yesterday there were two local police forces involved in what could loosely be called a traffic stop. Officers pulled a child and a blind man from the vehicle and threw them to the ground. They allegedly attempted to do the same to a female passenger in her 80's.

The driver's crime? It seems the incident started when the driver, traveling behind an 18-wheeler truck, didn't see a traffic stop in time to move into the left lane as mandated by law. The semi, guilty of the same crime, was not stopped; however, a vehicle in which a white driver was transporting three black passengers to a medical appointment was stopped and the driver arrested.

Surprisingly, the traffic stop/arrest wasn't in Russellville.

Friday, June 24, 2016

No More Pop-Up Shops in Florence?/TNT Fireworks

Everyone know what a pop-up shop is? If you don’t, briefly it’s a small business that opens for a very short time, one day to two or so weeks, or sometimes a seasonal business that opens once a year. While the term pop-up is trendy at the moment, such businesses have been around for decades. Florence was for many years the site of at least two travelling bookstores which would annually appear in some small storefront to sell publishers’ overruns. We haven’t seen one of those in quite some time. Have they just disappeared because they are no longer economically feasible, or has the city stopped issuing licenses for a competitor of the local Anderson family?

Other such businesses have appeared on a regular basis in Florence in recent years. In March of this year, Singing River Brewery held a pop-up shop called “Pallet Art.” Competition for Tommy Mathis’ art gallery? Christmas 2014 saw the pop-up menswear store Cotton Creek arrive for a short time. Their main store is in south Alabama. Competition for JAR and Coats’ Clothing?

So now such pop-up stores will no longer be welcome in Florence. Or will they? If they are, we’re sure there will be a lawsuit…simply because Mayor Mickey Haddock made what the thought was the right decision?


While on the subject of fireworks outlets, those luxurious and aesthetically pleasing trailers that TNT Fireworks sets up twice a year are such an addition to any city, don’t you think?


Guns? Shoalanda herself is pretty much middle of the road when it comes to guns and the sales of them. Today we’re presenting part one of an article by our fellow blogger J. Redmon, and we didn’t want to miss the chance to take a dig at many journalists and their political hot buttons.

Assault rifle? We’re pretty sure handguns are used to assault as well. Even that first grader’s toy is an assault pea shooter. Another one of our bloggers, L. Stone, sent us this, and we think it really hits the mark:


The AR15 by J. Redmon

Prior to the conclusion of WWII, military planners were already fast at work on the next designs for America’s new battle rifle. The M14, with its 7.62 NATO round, was merely a ‘stop gap’ measure, and saw a very short-lived military service life as a general issue infantry weapon. With the ‘War on Terror’, however, the M14 has seen a new lease on life. What the engineers had in mind was something ‘better’. That something was the AR15 (Armalite Rifle, Model 15), commonly referred to by its military designation, the M16.

The M16 was the brainchild of Eugene Stoner. His brilliant mind gave birth to what has become one of the most successful and long-lived infantry weapons in US history. He designed and supervised its development while he was employed by Armalite, a division of Fairfield Engine Company, during the 1950s.

The M16 was a gas-operated rifle, firing from a 20-round box magazine, and capable of both semi-automatic and fully automatic fire. The new M16 fired a 5.56mm round, known commercially as the .223 Remington. It utilized a 55-grain FMJ projectile, fired at a nominal velocity of 3200 feet per second from a 20-inch barrel.

Mr. Stoner was intent on seeing his new creation in the hands of US servicemen, and vigorously marketed it to the Pentagon. The first branch to show interest was the US Air Force, adopting it as the AR15. They viewed it as a pilot survival weapon rather than a general issue weapon. However, once the Air Force adopted it, the other branches of the military lined up. Once adopted by the US Army and the US Marine Corp, the AR15 wore the designation M16. Early field experiences with the new weapon led to minor changes which resulted in the debut of the M16A1.

Volumes have been written about the M16’s early ‘failures’. However, its failures were not due to mechanics, but rather to a lack of knowledge by its operators. When first fielded, the M16 was touted as being a rifle that a soldier didn’t have to clean. In fact, the first M16s delivered to US troops came sans cleaning kits. A little known place called Vietnam would quickly dispel that myth.

The M16’s failures in Vietnam are legendary and resulted in a series of congressional hearings. These hearings found that a combination of powder change in the ammunition shipped to Vietnam, and a lack of proper cleaning was at the root of the failures. Once this information was found and acted upon, the M16 became a very reliable service weapon. Its light weight, low recoil and lightweight ammunition were welcomed by soldiers used to humping the heavy M14 and its equally heavy ammunition.

Lessons learned in Vietnam saw to the development of an improved M16A1, known as the M16A2. It featured improved sights, a more robust stock, a 1/7” twist (later changed to 1/9”), a reinforced receiver and the introduction of a 3-shot burst feature. This later feature was intended to replace the full-auto setting found on earlier M16s and M16A1s.

Operation Desert Storm was the proving ground for the M16A2. Most, if not all, of the worries of the M16A2 being incompatible with a sandy desert environment were for naught. All indications are that the M16A2 performed very well, much better, in fact, than many of its rivals.

The M16 series of weapons has continued to evolve over the past 4 decades. A soldier issued an M16 in the early stages of Vietnam would be at home with today’s newest version, the M4 Carbine. The M4 is an attempt to standardize, among the various branches of the military, on one personal individual weapon.

As with most previous military firearms innovations, the M16/M4 has a civilian-legal counterpart, the AR15. Originally marketed to civilians by Colt in the late 1960s as the ‘SP1’, the AR15 and its many variants have surpassed the Winchester Model 94 (your grandpa’s old .30-30) in popularity….and for good reason.


June is fast winding down; another month, another grand jury. It’s like Christmas, isn’t it?

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Fruit Basket Turnover & Team Swindle

From Leslie M. Shoals:

Posted: Friday, March 25, 2016 12:15 am

By Jennifer Edwards Staff Writer

MUSCLE SHOALS — The principal at Muscle Shoals Middle School was voted out by the city school board after two years at the helm.

Matthew Carpenter’s contract was non-renewed at the board’s monthly meeting Tuesday at the school system’s central office.

Carpenter was named principal in May 2014 and started June 1 of that year. At that time Superintendent Brian Lindsey said Carpenter’s experience “made him by far and above the best candidate.”

Lindsey would not comment on what changed.

“I can’t give any reason or make a comment regarding a personnel decision of that nature,” Lindsey said.

The non-renewal of Carpenter’s contract was included in an 11-item personnel report that was passed unanimously at Tuesday’s meeting. There were no comments from board members.

Carpenter was close to the end of a two-year probationary contract. Lindsey said in general new principals in the city school system are placed on probationary contracts.

NOT EVEN 3 MONTHS LATER.....................

Posted: Wednesday, June 22, 2016 12:00 am | Updated: 12:04 am, Wed Jun 22, 2016.

By Jennifer Edwards Staff Writer

MUSCLE SHOALS -- Former middle school Principal Matthew Carpenter has been hired as the district's assistant supervisor of students.

Carpenter was hired in his new position during the city school board's June meeting.His contract as the middle school principal was not renewed in March....

"Dr. Carpenter is very organized and is very attentive to details in dealing with records and paperwork," Lindsey said. "In this position, you need someone that has that skill set."

Lindsey said three people "showed interest" in the position. Carpenter received administrative tenure when he was the assistant principal at the middle school.

"We felt like we needed to go in another direction with leadership at the middle school, and in doing that we decided to non-renew his contract," Lindsey said. "That is not to say he did not have the administrative skills for the right position. He does have the skill set we were looking for in this assistant administrative position."

Carpenter's salary in the new position is $87,621, according to the district's finance officer Sarita Tapscott. That is less than he earned as principal, Lindsey said.

Carpenter's contract begins July 1.


March, 2016 regarding the non-renewal of Middle School Principal contract, Coach Lindsey would not comment on a "personnel decision of that nature" which would make the average taxpayer assume possible reasons for termination were personal actions or otherwise and not job performance. Should there have been a job performance issue as a principal, Coach Lindsey was obligated to give an explanation to the taxpayers, but chose otherwise which only leaves for a reasonable deduction of something concerning personal conduct/good name and character. WHAT EXACTLY IS "THAT NATURE"? To then appoint Kevin Davis as principal to follow Carpenter is an even bigger boondoggle given Kevin Davis was hired at MSHS as assistant principal by his old classmate, Chad Holden, when he had no job and was on administrative leave from Limestone County Schools.

June, 2016 Coach Lindsey is quoted as praising Carpenter on his organization skills and attention to details in dealing with records and paperwork, as most administrators will say about a good secretary. If paperwork and record keeping is the skill set needed in the newly created position, would a top notch secretary perform these duties and at a lower cost just as well? I believe I would question the logic on that if I were a secretary in MSCS.

One could only read between the lines to see that Carpenter has been branded at MSCS as forever an "assistant" since he didn't have the skill set to be a top administrator in a building where he taught and later served as assistant principal.

If memory serves me right, the law was rewritten a few years ago that took tenure away from administrators/contract employees and only grants those who are in the classroom with tenure.Not sure if Coach Lindsey is correct on an assistant principal having administrative tenure. I would tell him to check with that high priced out of town lawyer they keep sending our money to but the truth hasn't been spoken yet, so we won't push for that waste of money.

It appears Coach Lindsey is not addressing the core of the problem and taking control. There is a clear lack of institutional control when kids talk about employees having affairs, cheating, drugs, and other social evils and those who are guilty are transferred to another job, or given an assistant. Maybe Swindle will win the state championship for Basden and you people can quit stealing us taxpayers blind. Basden promised a state championship within the first 5 years of employment and it's now what, year 11? Team Swindle!! We don't care if Russellville is laughing at MSCS. We want a championship! Team Swindle!!!


Leslie M. Shoals

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Bellezza Bella: Comments/Annuals/Nepotism

Comments on Bellezza Bella Club? We certainly received them and will attempt to address at least some of them here:

1. There may be those out there who know the name of the person who wrote the original letter to this blog. Good for you, but we haven’t asked the person’s name and don’t intend to publish it if we should determine it. Just in case you’re not familiar with the term ad hominem attack, it roughly means criticizing a person’s opinion on grounds having nothing to do with the facts at hand. In other words, a person who wears their clothes two sizes too small (and this was the nicest thing the commenter said) isn’t barred from offering her opinions to this blog.

2. Yes, we understand as well as the letter writer that the club in question is not officially connected to Deshler High School. The question is why are members not advised that calling the Bella Club an official Deshler organization is prohibited? It would seem logical to us that those who administer the system would be aware that the club is presented as such and take action.

3. We made a statement based on reader sent screen shots and e-mails that students listed club membership in (paid) bios published in the school’s annual. This was in error, or at least we now believe it to be; however, we have numerous screen shots of online bios which refer to the club as a Deshler High club. Below is one sent to us by a reader as coming directly from an annual. We are publishing these two examples since the student’s name is easily cropped or doesn’t appear. If the administration wants to know the names of those advertising this club as sponsored by the high school, we’ll be happy to send them.

4. Why should the Tuscumbia City School administration care if the Bella Club leads the public to believe it is sanctioned by them? The answer is one word: Lawsuits. Those who initiate such suits might not win, but a good attorney will certainly ask why the board knew that students presented the Bella Club as sponsored by the high school and did nothing to correct it.


Now here is something brought to our attention today, 18 months after we first published it. We’re using the person’s name since she used it publicly in blog comments

In December 2014, we published a reader comment concerning nepotism in local government: The music teacher at Trenholm is the superintendent's daughter-in-law. The teacher's aide is a niece. (Note: the current Tuscumbia superintendent has recently resigned.)

Today, we received this from Grace Mills Kennington: Here, I am the music teacher you wrote about. You implied nepotism. The superintendent was my aunt, not mother-in-law, but more importantly, she did not hire me... the previous superintendent (no relation) did. Lies, slander, posting before getting your facts straight, whatever you want to call it....

Let’s point out some things here:

1. This was a comment by a reader and was clearly stated as such. We didn’t ask for a name of the teacher involved and until today didn’t know it. Ms. Kennington says she is the former superintendent’s niece, not daughter-in-law. We’re happy to correct that.

2. Ms. Kennington says she was hired before her aunt Mary Kate Smith became superintendent, presumably between June 2011 and December 2011. She says she was hired by the former superintendent (Joe Walters).

3. Ms. Kennington does not have a bio on Deshler’s site, but her mother does: Our daughter, Grace, is a 2007 Deshler graduate…Grace teaches elementary music in the Tuscumbia City Schools

4. We may assume that Ms. Kennington obtained her degree in May/June 2011, a time when Joe Walters was indeed superintendent.

5. However, her aunt was at that time the assistant superintendent before (unofficially) assuming the position in December 2011 when Walters left. Both Kennington’s mother and father taught in the Tuscumbia City system at that time. It is easy to see that our reader, as probably many others, did infer nepotism whether rightly so or not. While officially retired, Smith continues to work as Federal Programs Coordinator.


Now we have to ask why the high turnover of superintendents in the Tuscumbia system? Joe Walters served roughly between mid 2007 and late 2011. Mary Kate Smith served (officially) between mid 2012 and mid 2015. Is the shelf life of a Tuscumbia superintendent only three to four years?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

How Do You Spell Whites Only?: B-E-L-L-A

From a reader:

2016 in the "Land of the Free," right? Not only has the South displayed constant intolerance of homosexuality and oppression of African Americans, my town has a "Whites Only" club. Literal segregation in a public school. It's 1956 all over again.

The club is called Belleza Bella, or "Bella" as everyone refers to it. Bella replaced what had previously been "Vanity Club", which was an all-wealthy-white-female organization that would make new members do horrible and humiliating things (my grandmother ate a live bee) and claim them to be their "initiation". Bella is based on those same principles. If you aren't a white female willing to spend a nice thousand dollars or more a year, you cannot be in this club.

Recently Bella began allowing male students into the club, but of course only white males. This club has a strict "whites only policy." If you're African American, Asian, biracial, etc, you cannot be a member. The club claims no affiliation with the public school but only because of the Title IX policy which would make this club basically illegal. However, only students from one specific school can join and every white female in 8th grade from said school is invited to join. I once asked an older "officer" from the club why they didn't allow African American female students to join. Her answer was, "because they're ghetto and Bella is all about class".

Bella also does the destructive initiations. The new girls experience what the club calls "hell week". In this week, the majority freshman girls cannot wear makeup and have to wear ridiculous things such as pigtails and red lipstick as an attempt to make them feel embarrassed about their physical appearance.

Also on a random night, they come and literally destroy your house by putting shredded paper and hay all over (and I mean ALL OVER) your house inside an out: each and every inch of your home and yard and "kidnap" you at 3 AM. This is known as "rush."

This club is solely run on popularity of the white students of the school. You are literally voted out if too many members don't like you; teenage girls voting other teenage girls out of a teenage club. You are voted out if you attempt to date outside your own white race or attempt to bring anyone who isn't white into a club function. You are not allowed to discuss bringing other races into the club.

This club kills self-esteem. The worst part of all of this? Even our board of education knows and does nothing about it. It's a literal under-the-table segregated club at a public school in 2016!

It's been addressed to the head of our school system so many times and yet the club still stands. I'm sick of such an unfair club existing at the school I have to attend. It's 2016! We worked so hard to establish equal rights and this school can just ignore its wrongs.

Please don't let this voice go unheard. I cannot end this club on my own and no one in the town seems to care. The members of this club attack me over social media whenever I try to bring light to the subject, and the administration ignores my complaints. I want to see this club left in 1956 where it belongs.


So what do we think of Bella? While it may be a private club, we have found that members and their "social work" are mentioned in yearbook credits. If anyone knows a good lawyer in Tuscumbia, we think this could easily be taken care of.

Will Bella now go underground? It's certainly possible. We'll add the same advice we've previously given students/parents concerning unfair conditions at local public schools. No one stays in high school forever; in a few years you or your child will be in college, the workforce, or the military. You won't be subjected to these unfair conditions forever. Of course you may find new ones wherever you go.

And those who make and enforce these unfair policies? They'll still be stuck in Podunk monitoring halls for a skirt that's a half-inch too short, any glimpse of underwear, or hair that's not a prescribed color. Doesn't that sound like an exciting life? Whatever it sounds like, it has nothing to do with learning...and that's extremely sad.

Now we'll give some advice to Bella members: If you think all black students come from the ghetto, if you think you're better than anyone because of your skin color, if you think a racially segregated club is pleasing to God...we certainly think you should remain a group unto yourself. We don't want you to rub off on any decent people in Tuscumbia.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Have Sex on Taxpayer's Dime, Lose Vacation Pay?

Several years ago we read one of those pop-psychology articles on theft in the workplace. It seems that those who are not faithful to their spouses are three times more likely to steal from their employers than those who walk the marital line. So how much more prone to theft would employees be that actually commit the sex act at work while on the clock…the taxpayer’s clock to make it worse?

We know that at least two who write here either work at taxpayer jobs currently or have in the past. As far as we know the majority who toil at the Shoalanda blog work in the private sector. What would happen to Shoalanda herself if she were caught in such a compromising position at work in her non-government funded job? She would d*mned well be fired within hours, we can promise you that.

So how do government employees continue to get away with boffing anyone and everyone at work? How do they still keep their taxpayer funded jobs? Are they simply irreplaceable or do they just know where the bodies are buried?

We’ve recently blogged about two local government employees who were literally caught with their pants down and still retained their jobs…at least so far. Just two days ago we were informed of a city department head who was similarly caught in a Shoals town about five or so years ago and who kept his job. Three such incidents in the past five years would indicate the moral decline of our society. The fact that the powers that be have overlooked these incidents indicates much worse.

Why are we discussing this again? It seems that the Lauderdale department head was not fired as Danny Pettus had promised. He did vote to fire the person, he has stated, but others voted to retain the person who lost all vacation pay.

We just hope the sex was worth two weeks vacation to the department head. Now please tell us how much integrity and ethics are worth to those who oversee our local governments?


We’re about to publish an article on the Bella Club at Deshler High School and have asked for input from readers. It seems there is at least one similar club, one perhaps even more shrouded in secrecy. Who out there knows of the Deshler Fight Club? Those who reply will always remain anonymous.


Wanda Ivey Wallace

Wanda Ivey Wallace was murdered in Tuscumbia on Sunday. Her brother Jerry was also a murder victim; from 2012:

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Father's Day 2016

What kind of father are you?

A Nurturer?

An Example?

Someone to Fall Back On?

Always There for Your Child's Mother?

We hope all the fathers out there answered yes to all!

Happy Father's Day from...

The Staff at Shoalanda Speaks

Note: If you're not familiar with our cat family, it's Chessie and her husband Peake who for years symbolized the Chessapeake Rail System. During WWII Peake entered the army, courageously serving in the South Pacific and attaining the rank of major.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Tuscumbia Municipal Elections/Katie Logan

From the Midnight Rider:

We are continuing our series of City/Town Elections. We had made the comment recently that the City of Sheffield may be the powder keg of the elections. We may have been wrong about that. Driving around the City of Sheffield, we have only seen Signs for Penny Freeman. Miss Freeman is running for District 4 for the City of Sheffield. We will be doing an article on her that will be posted soon.

Recently we spoke to two employees of the City of Tuscumbia. Both were excited about the upcoming elections. They were hoping for some change to come to that City Government. As we drive through the City of Tuscumbia, we see a lot of signs up. Most are for Cole and Underwood for Mayor. We have never met either one of the candidates. Mr. Cole is retired from the City of Tuscumbia Fire Department and Mr. Underwood is an Accountant.

Checking on Facebook, Mr. Underwood has a page for his election campaign. It appears that he started campaigning some time ago. I guess getting a jump on the competition.

The first thing listed on his webpage is his platform for the election:

-Support the school system
-Expand Tuscumbia’s boundaries
-Secure new sources of revenue
-Enforce our ordinances to keep Tuscumbia “tourist ready”
-Establish a Small Business Advisory Board
-Begin Town Hall meetings
-Establish a Park & Recreation board
-Begin a new and yet undefined advertising campaign for the city
-Establish departmental oversight and management through the mayor’s office
-Begin the process of paving and repairing the city streets

The above is a well thought out platform. We are interested to see or read how each goal is to be accomplished. We are sure there will be questions asked about each aspect by the citizens of Tuscumbia. They look like good ideas to us.

We checked Facebook for David Cole’s page. He has one there that appears to be personal. Mr. Underwood has one especially for the Election. We looked through Mr. Cole’s page to check his platform. We had to scroll through the page before I found a picture of a door tag with his election info on it. Mr. Cole, as much as some of us do not like Social Media, today’s Society uses it for everything. Build upon your page.

Again, we do not know either candidate so at this point, we are not endorsing either. Do your homework. This will be your chance to get your voice heard. Remember to come out and vote.

Katie Logan For District 1 Election

We had planned on writing the above article and had been making notes. One day, we saw a Katie Logan Election Sign. She is running for District 1 City Council for the City of Tuscumbia. Let me lay this out there. We have never met Mrs. Logan. All we know about her is she is married to Tuscumbia Police Chief Tony Logan. We read that she recently opened a business in Tuscumbia.

As we continued on driving, we started thinking about her running for a place in the City. She owns a business in the City of Tuscumbia. She is young so she would bring young views to the table per say. Contrary to popular belief, young people do vote. She knows how the City of Tuscumbia operates by being married to Chief Logan.

I could see her opponents saying that she would have a conflict of interest. I disagree with that. If she votes on a subject that has to do with the Police Department, there are several other members of the City Council that can overrule or vote against her. She can always recuse herself from the vote. To me, that sounds like the Checks and Balance System that this great Country was founded on. So with that being said, “You go girl.” We think a fresh, young view could help the City.

Until next time,
I am and always will be, the Midnight Rider...


From L. Stone:

Great quote from Tom Gresham - I saw a movie where only the police and military had guns. It was called "Schindler's List."

Both L. Stone and J. Redmon have sent us some salient info on the latest gun controversy. We'll have both up early next week. Plus, we have a guest blog on the Deshler High Bella Club and a great new article for Shoals Crime also scheduled. Remember, we always welcome guest blogs and comments.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Doing the Time?/Tell Us What's Cooking

Yesterday we linked an article about John James Common’s arrest in Franklin County. Common, known as J.J., was supposedly in state prison for attempting to burn down the Colbert County Jail a few years ago…only for some reason he wasn’t. Of all our bad boys, J.J. has the longest rap sheet and easily earned his place in our sociopaths' hall of fame.

But of course those who know and love J.J. protest that he means well and is simply misunderstood. Right. Shooting the Russellville football player mid game, raping the 12 year old mentally deficient girl, and setting fire to the Colbert County Jail were just minor blips in an otherwise spotless life.

A reader sent us links to two FB pages connected to Common. There’s his own under the unassuming name of “Humble Nobility” where he claims God is “for him” and one belonging to one of his many girlfriends who’s using the hash tag “freebae.”

We’re pretty sure J.J. has been freed too many times to start with.


Now a FB inspired question from another reader; it seems someone is making posts in Holland Elkins’ account. Our reader wanted to know if Elkins is now out or if he has access to the Internet while in the Lauderdale Detention Center.

First, according to detention center sources, Elkins is very much still incarcerated and will be until his July probation revocation hearing. Does he have some sort of smart phone in the jail? We doubt it.

We looked at the posts made allegedly by Elkins and all of them are liking or otherwise singing the praises of new photos of his “beautiful” baby mama or their offspring. Yes, it’s sad, but maybe that explains why the young woman feels she has to have him in her life.


We’re sure at least some of our readers remember high school. Shoalanda herself can vaguely remember the latter half of the 19th Century when she faithfully attended that one room schoolhouse. Many things have changed, but even back in the day there were social clubs.

It was standard knowledge that these clubs were not condoned, but merely tolerated by the school administration. Has that changed a great deal in the past few years?

We’ll inject here that most of the complaints we receive concern Muscle Shoals High School, followed by Sheffield, Florence, and Deshler bringing up the rear with the fewest. Now we’ve been presented with a serious complaint about a so-called social club at Deshler.

We have a lot of information on file concerning this club and know that even if the administration doesn’t claim the club, it’s still mentioned in the school’s annual. Insert a big “Oh, oh” here.

Before we present any blogs on Deshler clubs, we want to give students and parents time to contact us. Tell us what you think—as always, you will be anonymous.


We’ve been sent some excellent material on the pros and cons of “No Buy” gun restrictions and will be presenting these articles in the next few days. Feel free to send your opinions and join in.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Just What is Going on at the Lauderdale 911 Office?

The late humorist Lewis Grizzard once said he didn’t care who in the NFL took illicit drugs; he just wanted to be sure his dentist wasn’t hooked up to the nitrous oxide. So do you care if, when you ask to see the loan officer at your bank, his secretary says you’ll have to wait ten minutes until he finishes a little slap and tickle with the new teller in the vault? Probably not—at least it has very little effect on you.

How about if you have to wait five or ten minutes for your 911 call to go through because Officer Bubba Bilious from Bug Tussle is doing one of the dispatchers? Aha, now we have your attention.

We understand Lauderdale County Commissioner Danny Pettus has said there’s about to be a shake up at Lauderdale 911. We’ll have more on this later, but we have to ask why any employee would think a bit of the other was acceptable behavior while on the clock?

Stay tuned…


In case you haven’t heard, the ACLU and the NRA are on the same side…yes, really. They both oppose using the “No Fly” list to ban gun purchases. The ACLU says why not add cell phones if we’re that worried about terrorism? 

Comparing a cell phone to a gun is extremely similar to comparing a gun to a jet that can be used as a weapon. Poppy cock! Phones and jets have reasonable uses other than to kill or maim. We support the Second Amendment, but if U.S. security is worried enough about a person to ban him/her from flying in this country, we’re pretty sure giving these people guns is not the best choice.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Doing the Hanky Panky on Your Dime?

Several weeks ago we reported on an appointed official being caught in an extremely compromising position with another city employee. The female employee was terminated, but the appointed official kept his job. Both these individuals were on the clock in a local city; in other words, they were makin’ whoopee while the citizens of that town paid them to be working for the betterment of the community. From what we’ve been told, there was never even a tut-tut from the town’s mayor. Well, good ol’ boys do got to stick together, don’t they?

Now at least one law suit is threatening to blow the lid off a sex scandal in another Shoals town/county. Were there attempts at intimidation? Was there a perfunctory investigation? Was there a little hand-slapping but nothing more? In short, was there an attempted cover up as our informant suggests?

Stay tuned…


After the tragic events this past weekend in Orlando, it’s only natural to ask if all area SWAT teams remain fully staffed. Enough snipers and all that?


So Lynn Greer, our Republican representative from Rogersville, wants to be the new speaker of the house. Pols from north Alabama are almost universally overlooked for such positions in Montgomery, but miracles do happen.

If Greer wants the continued, or renewed, support of local voters, he really needs to tell us exactly what happened to his proposed legislation to overhaul the state’s certificate of need laws. Remember this from almost two years ago?

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Guns of Sheffield/Protecting Their Man?

Yesterday, the Midnight Rider mentioned a man in Sheffield who sells guns out of his vehicle in the Town Plaza parking lot on weekends. We've seen readers express the idea that small time vendors shouldn't be regulated, but just what is "small time?" We then asked about liability for the town of Sheffield.

From L. Stone:

If the person at the Sheffield Flea Market is in the firearms business then he has to have a Federal Firearms License and has to follow the rules about background checks. I wonder if he has a stack of form 4473 for his sales?

As far as the liability if a gun is later used in a crime, federal law prevents liability for sellers if a gun is later misused if the sale is done lawfully. An illegal sale is a different matter.


We mentioned recently the crime reports in the TimesDaily and asked if our readers noticed just how many guns were stolen in the course of the average week. Another interesting read comes from arrest charges--not that they aren't interesting for other reasons as well. Ever notice how many are charged with being in the possession of a gun illegally? Wanna bet these weren't guns the perps owned before their felony conviction?


After we blogged about a young woman proclaiming her lover's total lack of violence toward her...despite having signed a police report on an incident in which he left her with injuries serious enough to require an ER visit, a local news magazine told us a similar story.

It seems a Lawrenceburg fast food manager attacked the mother of his three children, leaving her in need of medical attention at the ER. A few weeks later, this woman wrote the news source and told them their story was a bunch of bull, despite it being taken from police reports. When the news magazine pointed this out, she faded into the woodwork.

Fast forward over a year later, the fast food manager himself wrote the news site requesting the old article be taken down. He was having trouble finding a job and the case against him had been dismissed. When asked why the case was dismissed, the man wrote a clipped and angry reply and also faded into the woodwork. Wanna bet his baby mama refused to testify against him?

So just what happens, legally that is, to the these women? They either lied in the police report (and medical records show that they didn't) or they're lying when they later tell authorities the whole thing didn't happen. Are they charged with perjury or filing a false police report? Or are they simply allowed to go on their merry way until their next beating/choking/violent assault?

Monday, June 13, 2016

Sheffield Flea Market/UNA Expansion

From the Midnight Rider:

Recently there was an article in the Times Daily Newspaper about a Sheffield resident, Tracey Southern, that was at odds with the City of Sheffield about selling items in front of her home/business. If you didn’t read the article, basically it said that she wanted to sell items but the City wouldn’t or couldn’t issue the appropriate License or Permit. Would this not be some type of Yard Sale Permit?

However, also mentioned in the article was the fact that there had been complaints from business owners about the Sheffield Flea Market. For you that don’t know, the Sheffield Flea Market is held in the parking lot of the Town Plaza. Town Plaza is where the Foodland Supermarket is located. This takes place on Friday and Saturday.

We hear that a certain business owner close to the Plaza is complaining because vendors are selling the same flower arrangements at the Flea Market as he sells at his business. We have only been through the Sheffield Flea Market once or twice and have seen vendors selling these flower arrangements. Does this hurt the Flower Arrangement Business Owner’s business? I guess it could. But let’s go one step further. We have seen a gentleman selling guns out of his vehicle. Does this hurt the Gun Shop located in Town Plaza? Furthermore, if someone is selling drugs at the Flea Market does that hurt the Pharmacy located in the Plaza? Well, we are talking about Sheffield.

Another complaint we read about is that the City of Sheffield is not collecting any money off the Flea Market. Okay, let’s break that down. The City may not get tax money off the Flea Market but what about the money that visitors spend at the other businesses and restaurants while they are in the City of Sheffield. That should be a plus. We don’t know if the owner of the Plaza charges by spot, day or hour to the vendors but maybe there could be a “donation” to the City of Sheffield to help with the compliant.

So going back to the original point of this article, why can’t Tracey Southern sell her stuff at her place? Beats me. Kinda seems like Double Standards. Maybe if she paid tax money on the items she sold, she would be allowed.

I am and always will be, the Midnight Rider.


Selling guns out of vehicles? My, my! So if it could be proved one of these guns was used in a crime, would the owners of Town Plaza be held accountable? How about the City of Sheffield itself?


We see the University of North Alabama is being careful to state it doesn't want to tear down a stately Wood Avenue Victorian home it plans to purchase. The university will be paving the back garden to create 40 new parking spaces. 

However, we have to wonder when the university became so caring about the "integrity of the neighborhood?" It's been only 15 years or so since the university purchased the stockbroker Tudor at the corner of Pine and Irvine to tear down for a parking lot. 


The Tennessee Street improvements continue...and continue. We recommend avoiding the area if possible. We did place our life and radial tires on the line last week to drive down the area under construction. It would appear to stop just before the Knight-Humphries realty corner. In other words, the ugly donut is still standing.

And the small eatery next door on South Poplar remains vacant. We've lost count of the restaurants which have come and gone there over the years. Perhaps it's the curse of the donut?

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Petition/Brady Ann Irons

We’re handling this in the best way we know how—with no names. There is a petition being circulated online, and we’re providing a link to it. We encourage our readers to view the petition and sign if you so desire. We will be signing. Some points about the petition:

1. Don’t be surprised if the petition has no effect on the judge. We’ve begun only one such petition since we’ve been writing this blog. We asked for a maximum 20 year sentence for a man who shot dead a young husband/father. The judge gave the miscreant a total of two years to serve, even though our petition had hundreds of signatures.

2. Before you add comments on the petition or elsewhere, it’s good to do some research if you’re not familiar with the law. The defendant in this case was indicted for Manslaughter. This charge came from the grand jury, so if you have a problem with it, don’t blame the judge or district attorney. The maximum sentence when no gun is involved is 15 years with Correctional Incentive Time; in other words, the defendant would serve only five years (60 months) at best. When you ask for some ridiculous sentence, the judge may infer your lack of knowledge is a reflection on your intelligence and indicative that you probably don’t even vote. Remember—the more voters who sign the petition, the better.

3. Yes, we know the story on both parties/parents. We, and others, have received criticism from both sides of this issue since the day after the accident.

4. We are terribly disappointed in Chris Connolly. His wording quoted in the petition was abominable and totally uncalled for. The young woman he put down in the TD quote is one who falls into the category of someone actually turning her life around, as we mentioned in our blog on the sex trafficking victims. She is diligently seeking custody in this case.


Here is the deal which Brady Ann Irons signed on June 1st:

We’ve been asked about her restitution in other cases; we know that Irons has many cases in Lauderdale County and some in Mississippi. We’re assuming that after at least two years, she is no longer on probation in these cases; however, she is still required to pay restitution in theft cases.

Any victim still owed money by Irons, or anyone else, should call the county probation office to make sure details are properly recorded. It’s not a bad idea to call regularly to let them know you’re still waiting to be repaid for your losses.

If Irons fails to make it in rehab and is sent to prison, she will in all likelihood go to work release. In that case, you definitely need to make sure you’re on the repayment list since her income will go directly to the state before any reaches her.


Our legal system? If you want to complain about the muddled outcomes of our legal system, think about this. In the first case mentioned today, we discussed a man shooting dead a stranger in Franklin County and getting 24 months, but an impaired man accidentally kills his own child and gets the same, or perhaps more. Still a third man in Lauderdale County shoots a man who attacked him and gets 20 years. How about a man killing his toddler daughter and getting only 12 months in Community Corrections? Rhyme or reason?

In the second case a woman with multiple felony convictions may be allowed to go free on a drug trafficking charge, while her mother with not even 1/3 the convictions of her daughter is sentenced to over eight years (some in community service) for a lesser crime. Rhyme or reason?