Sunday, July 31, 2016

Did Chip Dillard Have Accomplice(s) in Drug Smuggling?

From a reader:

I know Chip Dillard sold pills to two inmates. XXX and XXX were his clients and they then sold these pills to other inmates in work release. I was there last year. These guys decided they could blackmail Dillard and he let them go as clients. He may not be the only one doing it but he was the only one I knew about.

If true, and we don’t doubt that it is, it’s very interesting, but the state will probably never prosecute Dillard for these alleged crimes. It would mean separate preparation for a trial (Dillard’s human trafficking case is being handled by the attorney general’s office), and if convicted, Dillard would be serving a concurrent sentence. In other words, the state/county would gain nothing from prosecuting this case, but would lose financially.

We have previously heard from well-placed sources that Dillard was being blackmailed by some of the women who will be testifying against him in the human trafficking case. We have to ask why, if true, he was seemingly much more afraid of these women than the two druggies who attempted the same thing?


From a Rogersville reader:

The Rogersville Police Department actually consists of five full-time officers (including Chief Holden), plus a reserve force. (I know that the 'two officers ' info came from a reader.) Also: Richard Herston's challenger's last name is spelled 'Hagood' -- James Hagood. (The Times Daily misspelled it 'Haygood' when they listed all local municipal candidates.) Councilman Hagood may be on the council's police committee; he may even be the chairman. (I'm not sure if the council's committees in fact have chairpersons, in fact or de facto). Still, I don't know that I would say the police chief 'reports' to the committee. (The council's committees act as liasons and provide oversight, certainly.)

Apologies to Mr. Hagood for misspelling his name. We indeed remember when Hagood accused current mayor Richard Herston of stealing his political signs in a previous campaign.

Perhaps the term “honest politician” is an oxymoron, but are there no persons with integrity to step up to serve the town of Rogersville?

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Detention Drug Smuggling Blues?

We’ve had several comments about drugs/contraband smuggled into the Lauderdale Detention Center. Perhaps the salient question isn’t how it’s done, but who does it? We have five possibilities:

1. Trusties - These men and women leave the jail and return without being searched, at least completely. It would seem logical that they are the most likely source.

2. Dietician/Cooks – We have no idea how many are employed in this capacity at the detention center, but they do have free access to many parts of the facility.

3. Nurses/Medical personnel – These are always a possibility, but would they risk their licenses for a relatively small amount of money? Obviously some would.

4. Attorneys - Again, would these individuals risk their license for what amounts to pocket change? Chip Dillard was being investigated at the time of his arrest on human trafficking charges. No drug smuggling charges have been brought—probably because authorities know he will be going south for a long time simply on the attorney general’s charges. He’s surrendered his law license and will probably never again enter such a facility as a visitor. Have other attorneys done the same? We hear that some have; not all local attorneys are filthy rich, nor are they all honest.

5. Correction Officers – Next to trusties, these are the most likely to have opportunity and need of extra money. We’re happy to say that since Rick Singleton was elected sheriff, there has been a dramatic decline in complaints about the detention center and the office of sheriff itself.


We understand that one reason Chip Dillard was moved to the Franklin County Detention Center was his drug contacts in the Lauderdale facility. We also understand that records of clients and the money they paid to him were not to be found in his office. That might just make a few of his former clients a little inclined to want to take it up with him personally.


Threats from prisoners? For some time, we’ve received communications from an individual who has been monitoring a FB account allegedly belonging to Holman inmate Jerry Don Crowden. He’s again contacted us about new threats in the past few days.

Our advice to him or anyone else being threatened by a state inmate is to report it to the proper authorities. If you think the authorities are taking too long to investigate or not doing a thorough job, you can call or write the prison’s warden directly.

Yes, there are employees there who are paid to turn a blind eye to such flagrant violations, but not all of them are on the take. We believe most do their job with integrity.

On a related note, we've been asked why an intelligent, attractive woman would align herself with a career criminal who will never see the free world for at least 17 more years? If we knew that, we would be writing a best seller...


Reporting child abuse/neglect? We recently received a photo from a reader that depicts some very bad parenting at a party where alcohol was obviously present. Our advice to those who are concerned about an infant’s safety is the same as to the reader referenced above. Report this couple to DHR. They may simply need some parenting classes...and see remark above about women who are drawn to career criminals.

We appreciate the heads up on the father, but there’s still nothing we can do ourselves to prevent injury to this child. DHR is hardly perfect, but it remains the most direct route to protect this or any child.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Did You Hear the One about the Drive-By Truckers?

This blog isn’t about gun control; it’s about censorship—something that should make us all shudder. If you’re not familiar with Shoalanda’s personal stance on gun laws, we’re a moderate. That means both the right and the left hate us. The right will quickly call us a blankety blank liberal, while the left will call us a redneck hooligan. We also know that at least two who blog here regularly stand much more firmly to the right on gun control issues, and we’re always happy to give them or anyone else a stage from which to present their ideas.

This past year, our local newspaper (known as the TotallyDecatur) was presented with a new editor. He’s made some changes, both for the better and the worse as we see it. Perhaps what we’re considering censorship is nothing more than another direction the TD is taking in regards to local icons.

For those not of a musical bent, the Drive-By Truckers (DBT for short) is a band with local roots that moved to the Athens, Georgia, area several years ago. Lead singer Patterson Hood is the son of David Hood; the elder Hood is sometimes known as a Swamper and the frequent subject of Robert Palmer articles in the TD. In brief, like Ron Burgundy, the DBT is something of a big deal around here.

They were certainly a big deal last Tuesday when the band opened for Keisha at a benefit just blocks away from where the Democratic convention was being held. The recipient of the benefit? Americans for Responsible Solutions.

If you’ve never heard of this group, we doubt that you’re alone. Also appearing at the benefit were Gabby Giffords and her ex-astronaut husband Mark Kelly. Perhaps now you’re getting the drift of what this organization is all about. Yes, gentle readers, the ARS seeks to curb gun sales in the U.S.

Whether you or I or anyone else agrees with this mission, those who do have a Constitutional right to lobby as they see fit. Both the DBT and Kesha have a right to support the organization in its mission.

The DBT performed for over an hour at the ARS benefit and debuted a large chunk of material from their new album. In short, the appearance made national news…just not here in the Shoals.

Was there a reason for this oversight? Comments always welcome.


Want to purchase An American Band, the DBT's latest album to be released in September? Here you go:


Thursday, July 28, 2016

Katrina P. Simmons/Dee Ann Barton

From Kaytrina P. Simmons:


I am Kaytrina P. Simmons a life-long resident and citizen of Florence, with deep rooted family values. I am not a politician but a mother, sister, friend and neighbor who cares about this great City and the people who reside and work here.  I believe good neighborhoods make a great city. I currently serve and I am very active on various boards in the community.

I have a heart for ALL people. I am honest, hard-working, goal driven, positive, result oriented, a team player, vocal, dedicated, dependable, determined, have integrity and spiritual.

The time is NOW!  Elect Kaytrina P. Simmons to the City Council for District 1 in the City of Florence. The election is August 23, 2016 and I would appreciate your prayers and support.
My mission is to serve and be a voice for District 1 and “all citizens in the City of Florence.”
Many of you have expressed your desire for change in the district.  I will advocate on your behalf for that change.
My Commitment to District 1 and the City of Florence:
I will work to see District 1 revitalized, energized, beautified, and work to bring economic growth.
I will work to make District 1 appealing to anyone wishing to visit the area. (Cleaning up the District)
I will work with the City to move forward and keep citizens informed of the bridge’s progress. (To open up West Florence)
I will focus on over grown brush, old houses, and dilapidated buildings being corrected.
I will continue to work with the organizations regarding our homeless population.
I will give support to our Seniors and our Youth. (Our Seniors paved the way, our Youth is our future.)
I will look into issues of illegally parked vehicles and cluttered streets.
I will look into areas with low flood zones in North Florence area and Street Scape.
I will support organized labor unions, as I am a former member of the Labor Local 366.
I will fully support our Veterans, law enforcement, firefighters, and those who protect us daily by creating a trusting bond between them and the citizens.
I will be very visible and reachable to listen to the needs and concerns, and will work diligently to find a solution.
I will work with City Officials to enhance Economic Growth with better paying jobs.
I will work with the City Officials to encourage them to move forward with the Animal Shelter.

Kaytrina P. Simmons is currently employed as a Staffing Manager with Snelling Staffing and works part-time with Trinity Memorial Funeral Home.  She is a graduate of Central High School, Florence, Alabama and attended Faulkner University. She has one daughter, Alexis, who attends Florence High School.  They are both active members of Galilee M.B. Church in Florence, under the leadership of Pastor Craig B. Scott.  She participates in church ministries.  Kaytrina’s Community Involvement:  City of Florence Ambassador  Shoals Chamber Member - serves as an Ambassador  SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) (Committees-Membership, Program, Conference, College, Legislative)  Board Member-Big Brothers Big Sister of the Shoals, Inc.  Board Member-CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) FOR CHILDREN  Board Member Homeless Care Council of NW Alabama, Inc.   Board Member-American Cancer Society Leadership Council  Member of the Event Leadership Team Committee-ACS Relay for Life  Relay for Life Team Captain “WE ARE FAMILY”  Florence High School Band Booster Member  Volunteer: Room in the Inn Shoals  Radio Personality for Trinity Memorial Funeral Home (WZZA Broadcasting) Honored Recipient 2016 Excellence in Helping to seek a Cure for 2015-American Cancer Society Honored Recipient in 2015 Excellent in Leadership Award Served as a past volunteer for Safe Place (Crisis Line) Kaytrina is a life-long resident of District 1 in the City of Florence, Alabama and is a candidate in the 2016 Municipal Elections for Florence City Council.  She hopes to put her experience, enthusiasm, and energy to work representing ALL citizens of District 1, and the City of Florence where she has a heart for the people. We must “EMPOWER IN ORDER TO IMPROVE.” NEW LEADERSHIP, NEW DIRECTION, NEW RESULTS!


We look forward to Yolanda Falk sending us her bio. Both Ms. Simmons and Ms. Falk are running against current Florence City Council member Dave Smith, a man who from all appearances has used his office to cause divisiveness in the city and to thwart real growth when possible. 

Needless to say, we will be endorsing either Ms. Simmons or Ms. Falk in the near future and welcome reader comments.


For your consideration...

Three Shoals residents are arrested for speeding. Speeder No. 1 is driving 17 miles over the limit while attempting to reach the hospital where a family member is extremely ill. Speeder No. 2 is admittedly going 10 miles over the limit, but was not paying attention in an area that was new to him. Speeder No. 3 is going 24 miles over the limit in a school zone and obviously couldn't care less. Should they all be treated equally?

So how about the women whose newborns test positive for drugs? Are they all equal? Wouldn't some of them benefit from an intervention rather than an arrest?

In other words, are our tax dollars spent wisely in arresting these women and placing them in the judicial system when a non-legal system DHR intervention might serve the purpose not only as well, but in a much better fashion? Especially since the law used to arrest these women was written to curb meth dealers who exposed their little darlings to the drug?

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Lottery/Readers' Voices/Katie Logan

An Alabama lottery? It's amazing that those who tout the lottery for education will now revile it if the funds are used to help sick children. No, we've not endorsing the lottery, we're simply making an observation. We would love to hear from anyone who can rationalize that line of thinking.


From Readers:

* It's amusing that some of Rogersville's LEOs allegedly 'support' Haygood for mayor....especially since Haygood has been overheard in public stating that he didn't 'see a need' for Rogersville having a police department in the first place. Are residents of Rogersville willing to do without a police department? If Haygood is elected mayor they may very well have to.

* Richard Herston's double talk reminded me of what a wise man once told me. I asked him if a certain politician was a liar and he replied: Well, I wouldn't say he was a liar, but he's a politician, and all politician's lie.

* Rogersville DOESN'T HAVE a 'police commissioner'. They have a Chief or Police, Terry Holden....and TWO full-time officers. TWO. (Editor's note: While there is no titled job "Police Commissioner," the police department reports to Haygood in his current position of council member.)

* Yes, I have reported Jerry Don Crowden having a cell phone or something to access the net while in Holman prison. This is one of his latest posts: People need to get a life and. Please please let me have some tranquillity because if you cause any one in my circle any trouble you are going to wish like hell this snake would have bitten you. (Editor's note: To Jerry Don, those who have reported your cell phone usage very probably have a life and one of their mottoes is "If you see something illegal, say something." BTW, we believe you just committed the crime of Witness Intimidation.)


We've asked for platforms and have received several. Today we're publishing Katie Logan's. Katie is running for the Tuscumbia City Council.

I want to reemphasize my platform so readers who missed the first post can see it. First of all, I am a proud resident of District 1. I am also a proud business owner in downtown Tuscumbia, Basse Trading Company. I am a graduate of the University of North Alabama. I have over ten years experience in retail. I currently manage Austin's Shoes, and have done so for eight years. I have a tremendous understanding of what retail tax base can do for a city. 

Prior to my position at Austin's Shoes as manager, I was employed with the Lawrence County Industrial Development Board in Moulton, Alabama. Here I developed the skills and knowledge to showcase perspective businesses with all an area has to offer. I want to bring this same mindset to Tuscumbia to increase the tax base so we can in turn help the city grow. I know I only represent District 1, but my major goal is to work with the Mayor and council, as well as all city employees and departments, to make Tuscumbia is a business friendly city.

We have a rich history with Ivy Green, Deshler football, Spring Park and so many other treasures. We have a beautiful downtown, as well as a wonderful quality of life great schools and low crime. If given the opportunity to serve District 1 and the citizens of Tuscumbia, I will work every single day to make Tuscumbia a better place to work, live and raise a family.


Be sure to catch our latest in Shoals Crime: Annie Ruth Dennis

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Midnight Rider on Movies & Elections

Hollywood has no imagination
By: The Midnight Rider
We may be getting old but it seems that the only thing that Hollywood is turning out lately is remakes and reboots of TV series or other movies. Entertainment that we grew up on is being revamped, remade, updated or redone to entertain the new generation. Instead of coming up with new material, Screenwriters, Producers and Directors can just ay “hey, let’s redo “XYZ” that was on TV in the 80s. Or, better yet, let’s make a sequel to “XYZ.”
The first one that pops in my mind, we guess because of all of the hype for Captain America, Civil War, is Chris Evans played the Human Torch in the Fantastic Four movie. It did well, so they had to do a sequel. Then Chris takes the lead role as Captain America. So, to further complicate matters, the Fantastic Four movie was redone. We are so confused.

Classic movies that we grew up with are being redone in today’s flair. Point Break is an example of that. We loved that movie. You had Keanu Reeves, the late Patrick Swayze and Gary Busey starring in it. It was an action movie with style. Then last year, it was redone. We have not seen the new one yet but part of my heart knows it will not be the same.,320_.jpg
Another remake that comes to mind is the Punisher. Back in the early 90s, Dolph Lundgren and Louis Gossett Jr started in the Punisher movie. As an action movie buff, we thought it was good. However, it didn’t do well in intake of money. The Punisher was redone with Tony Jane in the lead. We really liked that movie. John Travolta played a classic “bad guy.” So, what do they do? Make a sequel. It was named Punisher, War Zone starring Ray Stevens. We didn’t really like this one and it was supposed to be right up my alley as far as genre.

There have been some remakes of classic TV shows that turned out well. Miami Vice, the A-Team, or S.W.A.T. is the ones that come to mind first. These TV shows entertained us when we were young and now can entertain our children. We read recently that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is filming a remake of Baywatch. That should be interesting.
Now, we have to talk about sequels. Some sequels have been good, some bad. We think Lethal Weapon 2, and Die Hard 2 was as good as the originals. However, some companies make squeals that have nothing to do with the originals. There are 2 sequels to S.W.A.T that have nothing to do with the original cast. The 3rd sequel was so bad, we didn’t make past 15 minutes from the beginning.
In closing, let’s get some fresh material Hollywood. Develop new characters’ and movies so that our kids will call these movies classics. There is fresh ground to plow, just do it. Maybe in 20 years someone will be writing for Shoalanda Speaks about remakes and reboots of their movies.
P.S. As we were writing this, we just saw the trailer for the remake of the Magnificent Seven. Geez. Never mind, we will probably go see it.

Qualifying Municipal Elections: 2016
Well, qualifying for Municipal elections is over. Below is a list of candidates for each City or Town. Candidates in Red are unopposed. If it is in Blue, there is no one running for that spot.  There is more Red and Blue than Black. Sad, very sad.
Mayor -- Jimmy Glass
Town Council
Place 1 -- Richard Belue
Place 2 -- Terry Haraway
Place 3 -- Open
Place 4 -- John Williams
Place 5 -- Kip Williams
Mayor -- Terry Cosby
Town Council
District 1 –- Kay Handley, Sandi Hendrix
District 2 -- Loretta Wallace
District 3 – Paul Norman
District 4: Tiffani Fuqua
District 5 – Rene’ Fann
Mayor – Lillie Mae Boddie, Susan Goode, Mickey Haddock, Steve Holt, Billy Ray Simpson
City Council
District 1 -- Yolanda Johnson, Kaytrina Simmons, Dave Smith
District 2 – Dick Jordan
District 3 -- David Bradley, Hermon Graham
District 4 -- Michelle Rupe Eubanks, John Hargett, Tom Wissert
District 5 -- Blake Edwards, Chase Holcombe
District 6 – Andy Betterton, Jim Fisher, Bob Hill
Mayor – Tim Tubbs
Town Council
Place 1 –- Ryan Blessing, Robert White
Place 2 -- Don Owens, Mary Ann Rippey
Place 3 -- Pamela Hardison, Connie Parrish
Place 4 -- Charles Glover
Place 5 -- John McGee
Mayor – John Landers
Town Council
Place 1 -- Gladis Canty
Place 2 – Mike Gower
Place 3 – Lowell McKay
Place 4 – Andre McGhaee
Place 5 – Betty Jane Borden
Mayor -- Sandra Burroughs, Tim Collier
Town Council
Place 1 – Wendell Gooch, Peggy McGee
Place 2 – Patrick Campbell, Carla McGee
Place 3 -- Phil Springer
Place 4 -- Ronald Mitchell
Place 5 – Belinda Michael
Mayor -- Scott Howard, Phillip Pace, Gene Strait, Eddie Wilson
Town Council
Place 1 -- David McAnally
Place 2 -- Ronald Berry, Rodney McAnally Jr.
Place 3 –- Harold Malone
Place 4 –- Diana Young
Place 5 -- Jared Ergle, Donald Pennington
Muscle Shoals
Mayor -- David H. Bradford
City Council --
Place 1 -- Chris Hall, Don Terry
Place 2 -- Neal Willis
Place 3 -- Michael W. Lockhart
Place 4 -- Mike Price, Ken Sockwell
Place 5 – Daron Goodloe, Allen Noles
Mayor – James Haygood, Richard Herston
Town Council
Place 1 -- George Mason
Place 2 -- Colby Tucker
Place 3 -- Danny Jones
Place 4 -- Jonathan Newton
Place 5 -- Robert Clark
Mayor -- Randy Bray, David Grissom, Donnie Horton
City Council
District 1 – David Palmer, John Thorn
District 2 -- Judy Miller, Ronney Murphy, William Nale
District 3 – Roy Cornelison, Gary Cummings, Dwight Jackson
District 4 – Arthur Elliott, Lanny Hubbard, Billy Patterson
District 5 -- Brent Caldwell, Jamey Harris
Mayor -- Ian Sanford
City Council
District 1 -- Ronnie Wicks
District 2 -- Sebastian Devaughn, Dewayne Roden, Gary Scales
District 3 -- Steve Nix
District 4 -- Mary Stevens, Penny Freeman
District 5 – Steve Stanley
St. Florian
Mayor -- Don Strait
Town Council
Place 1 -- Louis Stumpe
Place 2 -- Matthew Connolly
Place 3 -- Margarete Eckl
Place 4 -- Open
Place 5 -- Jamie Eckl
Mayor -- David Cole, Kerry Underwood
Town Council
District 1 – Katherine Logan, Robert Polk
District 2 – George Johnson, Geraldine Tompkins
District 3 – Dave Couch, William Foster, Tom McCormack
District 4 – Richard Coates, Paul Haley
District 5 – Mike Isom, Terry Willis
Mayor – Mel Grimes, Jerry McIntyre
Town Council
Place 1 – Allen Caddell, Jack Harris
Place 2 – Joan Farneman
Place 3 – Melony Carter, Don Raper
Place 4 – Chris Stricklin
Place 5 – Jeremy Simpson
Over the next couple of weeks, we will start making picks for the various elections.
Until next time…..
I am and always will be, the Midnight Rider.