Sunday, April 30, 2017

Welcome to Florence - Vandalism Capital of the South

Today Rob Carnegie, or his chosen minion, Tweeted: One of the things that is fascinating about Downtown Florence are its alleyways that are filled with Street art!

Really? Don't forget our arsons, kidnappings, and murders. Lest any of our readers are unsure, "street art" is also called graffiti and vandalism. In Florence, it comes under the heading of Criminal Mischief. Yes, if you're caught defacing property, you go to jail. Not so hard to understand, is it? Unless you're from Canada, eh?

Anyone think what the "street artist" did in the above Instagram pic wasn't so bad? Think again:

You'll notice three stickers in the area of the humanoid's right arm. Two of these are Florence Police Department stickers. Yes, they have a purpose. You see those numbers? That enables a caller to quickly identify a building from a postern door that might not be numbered. Simply tell the dispatcher you found the body/injured person at 1234, and officers can be on the scene in minutes if not seconds. 

Is there an extra legal penalty for defacing these police decals? We have no idea, but there should be. So why is Rob Carnegie glorifying these criminals? Why does Florence-Lauderdale Tourism let Carnegie get away with his dubious Tweets? Oh, right...there's no one in Alabama qualified to lead the organization.


We had a reader ask why J.J. Common received a longer sentence than "Obama gave terrorists?" While that may be a vague question, we can answer why J.J. probably won't see the free world until 2035. It's Common's third state incarceration, making it a Class A felony. He also blew his probation. But don't worry...depending on the outcome of attempted murder charges, he might not be even halfway through his sentence by 2035.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Drains on Humanity Part II: Thomas Grant Campbell

Grant Campbell joined the Marine Corps at the age of 20 in 2006. Officially called Thomas Grant Campbell II (his family seemingly didn't know this was an incorrect form of naming and he should have been dubbed a Junior), he was called Grant. We're told those who make high enough on the admission exams may enter the Marines as a corporal, possibly making sergeant within three more years. For whatever reason, Grant was still a corporal when he left the service five years later...or more accurately was thrown out after his court martial on theft charges. 

Grant served two tours in combat zones and saw action. None of this was anything he volunteered for, and when he returned from his second tour in the Middle East, he contacted medical personnel about his mental problems which included depression. Physicians diagnosed the young Marine with both depression and PTSD. 

Here, we're leaving documented evidence and entering into the world of educated guess. Physicians know if it walks and talks like a duck, it's probably a duck. We're sure Marine doctors treated more than their share of military personnel with PTSD. Therefore, we're speculating they might not have considered a diagnosis of schizophrenia, quite common in individuals in their mid 20s who suddenly begin to have irrational thoughts. Think "Tony Smith" in Part I of this series. Was this Grant's real problem? It would seem likely from his later behavior, and simply having schizophrenia doesn't rule out the possibility of also having PTSD.

Back to documented evidence... Grant was now stationed at Camp Lejuene in North Carolina, a huge facility used for joint maritime training, meaning it housed thousands of items of modern tactical gear. It may have been impossible to keep track of all the expensive military equipment present at the camp, but in 2011 the NCIS was called in to help stem a rash of thefts of high-dollar military tactical gear.

Grant's name came up early in the investigation and agents tailored a sting operation set to capture the Marine gone bad. In short order, Grant made at least two sales to an undercover agent, from which he netted $1,400.00. Grant was arrested and court martialed. His attorney asked for leniency, but a Marine court stated Grant Campbell deserved none. Even though he had asked for a simple discharge, Grant was given a dishonorable heave-ho, the equivalent of a civilian felony conviction.

Grant returned home to Colbert County in 2011 and lived there until his death in 2013. His only jobs were at businesses owned by his family, and he often worked in some sort of restaurant support job. Several co-workers who had known Grant before he left for the Marines were disturbed by the change in the young man who now became easily upset and made inappropriate comments to women who frequented the Campbell businesses.  

Grant racked up some minor arrests and one not so minor; he was awaiting trial on a meth possession charge in Madison County at the time of his death in November 2013. Still on psych meds, Campbell abused alcohol and was well over the legal limit on the night of his death. His obituary enumerated his medals and other military awards, but all were of the participation variety with the exception of a sharp-shooter badge earned via talent, not good or exceptional behavior. 

We have no doubt that both the military and family failed Thomas Grant Campbell. We also have no doubt that at the time of his death, Grant was a drain on humanity and was about to take that which he could never give back.


We'll be publishing a blog on Grant Campbell's death at a later date using information taken from the Chris Martin trial transcript to which we've just now obtained access.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Why Short Term Limits Aren't Such a Great Idea/Perjury

We've touched on this before, but Sen. Tim Melson's recent comments should have brought this home to all our readership. From the TimesDaily: Melson said he wasn’t part of a previous delegation that pledged to end the tax. “Things change,” he said. “Every day we vote on bills that change previous people’s promises. We change taxes, we change all sorts of rules. That’s what you do. You adapt to the situation to do what is required instead of just saying, previous delegations promised something.”

First, we personally agree with Sen. Melson on the issue of the ag center. We're not saying that you have to agree. The proposed ag center, while not a minor issue, is not a major one. We hope the legislature will vote to establish an agriculture authority in Lauderdale County, but if it doesn't, it won't mean our area is lost to other development.

No. This blog is about back and forth change where laws, programs, and procedures are made to look like bears in a shooting gallery. ABC might be no better than XYZ, but our leaders have to choose one and stick with it. How much time is lost each legislative session when new representatives decide to repeal laws that were passed only two or four years ago? Even locally, look how new Florence School Board member Britton Watson upset that body's dynamic by arbitrarily wanting to throw five year's planning out the window.

Yet this kind of behavior won't stop until voters demand better of their elected officials. How about it? How hard is it for you to e-mail your state or other representatives; how hard to tell them you demand accountability?


How often do you see someone charged with perjury in a criminal case? If you look long enough, you will see this crime listed in rare arrest reports. Is it a crime worth prosecuting?

We think it is. So when four or five witnesses tell basically the same story in a murder case, and the district attorney calls them all liars, why doesn't he file charges against them? Hmmm... 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Drains on Humanity Part I: "Tony Smith"

A story that ended ten years ago:

Many years ago, we and a sorority sister finished our lunch at Trowbridge's and turned north to visit a new antique store on Court Walk. A man turned the corner heading south and spotted us. He immediately blocked our way and spoke, calling our friend by name. We could tell our friend was none too delighted to see the man, whom she didn't introduce. She began to edge around him.

From the other direction, a woman appeared, and the man whom we'll call "Tony Smith" introduced her as his wife. He then asked our friend her name, even though he had personally addressed her more than once in our short conversation. This presented us with an opportunity to escape, much to the relief of my friend. She explained that she knew the man slightly and that over the years since school he had become more and more bizarre, always steering the conversation to sexual subjects.

Over the next few years, we would hear Tony's name mentioned from time to time. His wife eventually left him and his children didn't speak to him. He couldn't hold a job because of complaints from women. His parents died, and siblings soon sought psychiatric treatment for him. Tony was diagnosed with a kind of schizophrenia and was on psych meds, but his condition only worsened as he aged. Finally a brother had him placed in a nursing home where he eventually died amid rumors a highly offended nurse may have hastened his demise with some extra tranquilization.

Some citizens are super productive; others are drains on society. Tony Smith was a drain on society whom you helped pay for. While there were rumors over the years that Tony had assaulted various women, as far as we know, he was never charged with these assaults and no woman ever came forward to declare she was anything more than highly morally offended. 

The same can't be said for a similar drain on society...Thomas Grant Campbell. 


Speaking of drains on society, we saw earlier today that Brady Ann Irons has a new arrest after months of assumed sobriety. Will she now join her former partner in crime Wes Akin in the Alabama prison system? We're not holding our breath.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Rejected Plans from Hugo Dante - Who's at Fault?

Hugo Dante is the head architect at Cr3ate, a local firm with offices in Tuscumbia...or Florence, depending on the the web source. His futuristic architecture graces cities on both side of the river, while his more traditional designs may be found in everything from pharmacies to mortgage companies to even the UNA campus.

Bid laws don't apply to architectural services in Alabama, and Dante was selected by former Florence mayor Mickey Haddock to design the new animal shelter. When new mayor Steve Holt saw the final plans, he was shocked to find both a gift shop and a sandwich shop tucked among the large lobby and many grooming stations. Holt immediately sent the plans back to Dante for a revision.

Now a similar revision is being required of Dante to plans for the new Anderson Nursing Building at UNA. The university board of trustees president stated in a TD article that he needed Dante, whom he didn't name, to be on the board's side...whatever that might mean. Are they at odds with Dante, whom Marty Abroms called more of an artist than an architect? 

We infer there was at best a lack of communication in the UNA planning; as for the Florence animal shelter planning, we may never know what the former mayor instructed Dante to design. There's been no word on how much these little Snafu's are costing the taxpayers.


While on the subject of the new Florence animal shelter, we can understand the purpose of a gift shop, at least a small one. Go to pick out a puppy, stop to purchase a stuffed one as well to commemorate the day. Yet, what was Dante's purpose of a sandwich shop? Surely the process of looking at available animals shouldn't take so long that one is then too hungry to drive a mile or so to a nearby eatery?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tricky Dicky & Sharky Marky Want YOUR Money! - Part II

Yesterday, we presented some extremely interesting information on elected official Dick Jordan's plans for some of your tax dollars you didn't even know you were on the hook for. Now let's look at Mark Linder's plans...both of them...for university money, some of which involves your tax dollars.

According to TD reports:"Melson said the University of North Alabama has agreed to use the arena for basketball games and graduations. The university is moving to NCAA Division I and needs larger sports facilities, he said."

The article doesn't specify what kind of agreement has been reached. Obviously, the ag center is not yet a done deal and may never be. If it does come to fruition, the university would logically pay a fee to use the facility.

Let's assume the ag center does become reality by May 2020 as Sen. Melson wants, what about Flowers Hall? We're sure the 1970s era gym will be well-used for practice, high school tournaments, etc. Like everyone who cares about UNA, we hope it's well taken care of.

Earlier this month, UNA athletic director Mark Linder announced a massive renovation for Flowers Hall to begin after approval from a state governing body; he didn't give a timeline as to when approval or renovations could be expected. Among Linder's plans for the gym is a new floor. These are needed periodically in all gyms, and apparently UNA is past due for one. The other two renovations proposed by Linder are not quite in the same category. One is, in fact, extremely questionable. 

Linder has announced new seating. The current bleachers are original to the gym and obviously need improving. The question is: Do they need a total replacement? We frequently read of bleachers in various local gyms being refinished...or has that sophisticated electronic space age bleacher technology passed the old seating by?

Yet the installation of new bleachers isn't the most questionable item on Sharky Marky's agenda. He wants a VIP reception area for all those bigwigs who are sure to visit UNA basketball and volleyball games. In case you think Mick Jagger might soon show up on campus to catch a local game, Linder is referring to monetary donors. We're aware that UNA does have the stray donor here and there, but they're never mentioned when the university requests more state funding. Perhaps it's just us, but would a donor who really cares about the school want UNA money used for a VIP area in Flowers Hall? And what of the VIP area if scheduled games are moved to the ag center? 

Can you all say "poor planning?"


Tuscumbia (or is that Florence?) architect Hugo Dante has had to or will have to redo two plans for taxpayer funded projects this past year. We'll look at these tomorrow. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Tricky Dicky & Sharky Marky Want YOUR Money! - Part I

The following blog isn't about the proposed agriculture center, at least as to whether you or we or anyone else want it. It's about the mindset of local politicians and others who spend your tax dollars.

In case you need to be brought up to speed on this situation, here's a brief rundown of the facts:

1. Several years ago, a two-cent a gallon gasoline tax was passed for Lauderdale and Colbert Counties in order to pay for the RSA's Marriott Hotel complex and Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. At that time, it was publicly stated the tax would be removed when the bonds were paid off.

2. The bonds are almost paid off, and the Lauderdale legislative delegation, with the exception of Larry Stutts, wants to continue the gasoline tax in that county in order to pay for a proposed agriculture center. Sen. Larry Stutts feels this is taking advantage of the Lauderdale County taxpayers (gasoline buyers).

3. The Florence City Council is also opposed to this proposal, partly since TVA funding will be diverted to it; however, one council member is opposed for other reasons.

4. According to a recent TD article: "(Dick) Jordan said when the economic development bonds are repaid, the city wanted to use the money to help build a bridge over Cypress Creek on West College Street, and to pave city streets."

Did everyone get what Tricky Dicky said? He's not concerned about taxpayers remaining on the hook for this two-cent tax; he's concerned the city can't latch onto it once it's no longer needed to pay off the RSA bonds.

So where does Sharky Marky fit in? Tune in tomorrow for Part II where we'll discuss UNA athletic director Mark Linder and local architect Hugo Dante.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Sen. Smooter Speaks on the Ag Center

State senator Horatio Leander Smooter IV of U-Turn, Alabama, has graciously consented to pay us another visit. We took the opportunity to ask him some questions on the proposed Lauderdale County agriculture center.

SS: Sen. Smooter, do you support the proposed new mega-coliseum for Lauderdale County?

HS: First, let me say thank you for having me back again. It's always nice to renew relations between U-Turn and the Shoals. I want to go on record as saying I support Mel and Mal.

SS: Mel and Mal?

HS: Yes, that's Sen. Tim Melson and Sen. Malpractice Stutts to those of you who don't rub shoulders with us chosen ones in Montgomery. 

SS: But aren't they taking different sides?

HS: It would seem so, and we agree with them.

SS: We'll take that as a "no comment." Do you foresee the legislature voting on this issue before the session is over?

HS: Well, as you know, anything can happen. We live in a world where a dermatologist can be governor and Ed Henry thinks he can run for the U.S. Senate. Let's just say that we're going to give the new ag center the same consideration we always give the education budget.

SS: That little a chance, huh? Before you leave, do you have any parting words for our readers?

HS: Indeed, I do. For all of you currently residing in Moulton, we in U-Turn would just love to have you move to our fair city. I'm not going to, ahem, prevaricate and say we don't have any witches in U-Turn, but we at least don't provide them with their own brooms.


Some facts about the ag center:

1. It will be financed mainly via a loan from the USDA. We've heard speculation this is why it has to be dubbed an ag center. We welcome any more informed comments on naming, which appears to be a drawback to public support.

2. If the funding isn't passed in this legislative session, the center may not come to fruition at a later date, as Doc Larry has suggested it can.

3. The center will not be in the wilds of nowhere as some have suggested, but in the eastern end of Florence (albeit just outside the city limits) immediately south of Florence Fire Station No. 2 on Florence Boulevard (pictured as red dot on above map).

Saturday, April 22, 2017

At Least We Know Britton Watson Can Abstain

Britton Watson

At the recent vote on Florence City Schools superintendent, two members abstained from voting on the issue. One was perennial odd member out Britton Watson. So she won't abstain from voting on a UNA issue even though the university pays her for public relations work, but she'll abstain from voting yea or nay for Dr. Jimmy Shaw because...we have no idea why.


We've learned that the town of Lexington has a relatively new water department clerk. The previous long-time clerk who generated so many complaints left two years ago after being questioned by council members concerning bookkeeping irregularities. We're happy to clarify that we've received no complaints about the current clerk.


Rep. Ed Henry is running for U.S. Senate? Perhaps now's a good time to remind voters that Henry is an admitted "murderer." No, we don't think he actually murdered anyone; we simply think he's more than just a little batty on several subjects.


Here's a chance for readers to chime in: How do you feel about part-time employees (who don't receive benefits) being paid more per hour than full-time employees? It's a fairly common practice, and we don't oppose it. Yet we have a feeling it's about to become a local issue.

Readers? We await...


We hope everyone remembers our blog gives you a voice. We don't have to agree with you to publish your comments. Just remember no vulgar language, libelous statements, or incitement to violence.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Joyce Jeffreys & Cassandra Lee: Real Witches

Moulton? You know...that shopping/industrial mecca located in the beautiful and sophisticated county of Lawrence. That's right; it's the county seat of a downtrodden area desperately seeking new industry. Well, good luck to that.

It seems that some years ago a group of eight or so men met daily at a business on Moulton's square. The business went under, so the group moved to a second location. When that business also went under (seeing a business trend in Moulton?), the then mayor asked the group to meet in a vacant room at city hall. 

Now there are some new council members in Moulton. Here's the first witch:

Joyce Jeffreys
Joyce Jeffreys made it onto the council originally by placing a curse on a council member and taking her place when she died. Jeffreys had no challengers last fall after that stunt.
Cassandra Lee
Cassandra Lee actually won her seat by deluding voters into thinking she had a pulse...and a soul.

At the last council meeting, Jeffreys and Lee asked the new mayor to throw out the senior group, whose ages range from around 79 to around 91. Why?

Spokeswitch Jeffreys gave two reasons. First they were taking up valuable parking. Really? The last time we ventured to the town square in Moulton, we thought there had been a bomb threat.

The second reason? We really love this one. If you were a female employee, would you like to have to warm your lunch in the room next to these old men? Yes, she really said it. Funny thing is the men meet either mid-morning or mid-afternoon. So who's having lunch then? 

We realize the citizens of Moulton may be stuck with Jeffreys and Lee for the next three and one-half years, but after that let's hope they're sent packing back to whatever coven or bagnio from which they arose.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Real Estate Caveats/Geocaching

Yesterday's blog on Lexington water garnered thousands of readers and promoted some interesting discussions. First, if you purchased a home in the Lexington area where sewer lines are available, you do have to pay for the line whether you use it or not. This has always been the law. We don't usually advise anyone to sue over anything, but in this case your real estate agent was at fault if this wasn't disclosed. Look over your paperwork again, and if this is the case, you need to report the realtor.

Second, non-communication? We've heard countless complaints over the years about the water department and clerk not listening to citizens. If you've complained to the clerk, then the manager, yes by all means contact Sandra. Our friend Sandra Killen-Burroughs is busy, very busy, but she will help you. 

There's a new mayor in town, and we strongly advise the water department personnel to start doing their jobs. Just because a previous administration hired relatives and turned a blind eye to malfeasance, doesn't mean this one will.


The city of Florence is getting deeper into geocaching, and our blogger L. Stone has some words for those who want to administer or participate in it:

If done right geocaching can be a good tourism draw. The key is for local governments and boards to work with the geocaching community and not barge in to run everything. If there are enough caches in a location it will become a draw, in some case even luring international visitors. 

Probably the best known example is the E.T. Highway power trail in Nevada. (A power trail is a long run of easy to find caches on a route that are spaced very closely - the minimum is 1/10 mile separation.) That power trail has over 1,000 caches. It drew so many visitors that a motel in a remote town that used to close in the winter started staying open all year. Early on someone in their highway department got upset at vehicles stopping on the side of the road and tried to have the trail shut down. There was so much political pressure brought by local businesses that the highway department soon changed their mind. 

It's good that Florence is promoting this. Towns that are more struggling, like Tuscumbia and Sheffield, should encourage this. The beauty of this is that if they recruit the leading cachers in their town to do something it won't cost the city anything. All the government has to do is issue some blanket permissions for where they will allow caches. (Nothing can kill caches in an area quite like a government that wants a written application for caches and requires renewals. Cachers will just go somewhere else friendly.) 

They also need to let law enforcement know what's going on so they don't think something is up when they see people examining road signs, light poles, bushes, etc. If there are enough caches to make people spend the day in the place each cacher will have to eat meals, buy snacks and drinks and probably get some gas. Out of towners will need a hotel room. Some cachers will combine that with a family vacation so the family spends some time in the area and part of the time is spent on caches and the rest is normal vacation activity. EVERY tourist attraction needs a cache on or near the property, placed by an experienced cacher. 

Areas where they want people to walk need to be saturated. Trails need to have as many caches as the rules allow. (The Richard Martin Trail north of Athens has dozens.) One thing that happens in communities that embrace this is that businesses start wanting caches near their business because they see how it draws people and makes them get out of their car, and a percentage become customers. The saddest businesses are the ones who are late to the party and when they realize what it will do there are already caches within 1/10 of a mile of them. I have found 117 between Colbert and Lauderdale, with a little more than half in Lauderdale.

L. Stone


Grant Campbell's Pants with Bloody Prints at Pocket

Missing evidence in criminal trials? You've probably recently read about the Florence Police Department employee who was stealing from the evidence room. While most of her swag was drug evidence, it can also be important physical evidence. 

Not all lost items are due to theft. A few years ago a wall socket in the Christie Bray Scott trial went missing. While it had no impact on the verdict, what if it had been a more important piece of evidence?

We understand some clothing with blood evidence has been lost in the Chris Martin case. At least photos remain. We will be discussing this more in upcoming days and weeks, but perhaps the major point is how do you lose items of clothing in a murder case? They're too large to simply drop accidentally into a waste basket. Did some personnel want this clothing for personal use?

See remarks on Lexington Water Department. We need to start demanding accountability from public employees.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Lexington Water/Is J.J. Gone for Good?

A reader has contacted us about problems with water in the small Lauderdale County town of Lexington, specifically pressure. We've always been very impressed with current mayor Sandra Killen-Burroughs, so we went straight to the top to get some answers, and here they are:

Low water pressure is a problem that we have from time to time in Lexington. Here are some of the reasons we have issues with water pressure. The town of Lexington used to own their very own well to provide/sell water to their customers. (We currently have over 900 customers). Of course, ADEM administers the permits to operate a well such as we had. From my understanding, someone from a previous administration (not sure if it was a former Mayor or former Council member) refused to abide by the guidelines that ADEM had set forth, therefore, ADEM condemned use of the well for the Town of Lexington.

At that point, being cut off from our own source, the town was forced to have to purchase water from outside sources. Those outside sources are East Lauderdale Water and Loretto Water, both having to travel long distances to even get to our customers. We’ve been told consistently since May of 2016 that there is a new well coming online soon to supply our town with more water pressure. We are still waiting for that new source but we are very hopeful that it will be soon. 

Please be aware that the New Mayor and the New Council has made it a top priority to find our OWN water source here in our own town to provide water to our customers. In January, we applied for $3 million grant for this project. We should hear back from that grant process very soon. If that grant is not approved, we will try another route and I am open to suggestions. Right now, I have four locations of possible wells that we can use to supply our customers. I am committed to doing whatever it takes to get us our own water source.

Another issue with our water pressure is that our two water tanks are empty. Why? The former administration was supposed to be doing monthly maintenance on those tanks. Well, that was not being done, SO they hired some shady character to do the work and he took the money and ran without doing the work. The very first order of business that the NEW council and I took was to seek out a reputable company to come in and submit bids to get both tanks refurbished and up and running immediately. We went through seven proposals and decided on one to complete the work ASAP. The contract has been signed and the company will start that work in May. That work will be completed in three weeks after it is begun and we will fill the tanks. That will help a lot with the water pressure.

We received a CDBG grant from the state last year to replace the oldest part of the waterlines in the town. That is a $308,000 grant and that work is scheduled to begin very soon. Robinson & Sons from Haleyville won that bid and will start ASAP. We actually have a public hearing on this project on Thursday night at 6:00 p.m. at the Lexington Senior Center. This will be the final public hearing scheduled before construction begins.


An update on John (JJ) Common:

1. He's currently being housed in the Lauderdale County Detention Center.
2. His previous suspended sentence of 17 years has been reinstated; he's awaiting transfer to the state prison system.
3. He still faces seven felony charges, four of them Class A felonies. Franklin County District Attorney Joey Rushing is currently conferring with federal authorities to see if they wish to prosecute Common. 
4. If the feds don't want J.J., he will face a Franklin County grand jury.
5. It's doubtful Common will receive parole on his 17 year sentence. Any federal sentence will be served after the state sentence. If prosecuted at the state level, it's most likely Common will be sentenced as a habitual offender, which could put him away for life.


Just think, all those years as a crime writer with the TD, and Tom Smith still doesn't know the difference between parole and probation.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Why Is Larry Stutts Fighting the Agriculture Center?

On the surface, an agriculture center (ag center) doesn't sound too appealing. Why is it being discussed for the Florence area and not somewhere near Center Star or Central Heights? We asked our friend Nigel Knorr about the center, and here are his answers:

Our Agriculture Correspondent Nigel

Agricultural Center is what they keep calling this new event venue which I feel is the wrong name, totally.  It's going to actually be a multi-use event arena type venue.  It will seat 10,000 people for a concert type event.  It will also convert into a rodeo arena or a trade show type setup as well as multiple volleyball or basketball courts to host huge tournaments, among other things. 

The model they are looking to for suggestions is the one in Williamson County Tennessee, just south of Nashville off I-65.  It is also referred to as an agri-center. That might be the “in thing” to call big buildings like this now BUT it could also be what the USDA requires them to call it because that is where Lauderdale County will borrow the funds.  

The legislative delegation (all of them except Larry Stutts) are all in agreement that this facility will be an awesome investment into the community.  They are looking at an 162 are tract behind the Florence Fire Station out on Hwy 72 between Shoal Creek and Cox Creek Pky (beside Shoals Outdoor Sports).  They also looked at land in Rogersville and another location that was mentioned was out Hwy 157 towards the Central Community.   

This location was chosen because it is centrally located and at the time it was decided on, there were plans from the ALDOT to 6 lane Hwy 72 between Shoal Creek and Cox Creek Pky.  Since the gas tax bill died in the Senate last week, sadly, that project did too.  According to Lynn Greer, the gas tax bill cannot be brought up again for 2 years. 

Again, to reiterate, this a project of the Lauderdale County Commission!!!!  Let that sink in a while. Think back to when you have witnessed Lauderdale County entering into any type project willingly that would be this awesome and actually be something EVERYONE could use and benefit from!!!

I am guessing the last project of this magnitude was the Florence Lauderdale Coliseum.  If Florence would act like they have some business sense, they might even get in on the name of this new Agri-Center with a name like the Florence Lauderdale Agri-Center.   At this point, I would be more inclined to call it the NW Alabama Agri Center.

When Dewey Mitchell was at the helm, it never happened and would never even be considered.  The County has money!!!!!  All of the Lauderdale County Commissioners were at the meeting as well as the County Administrator. The potential of growth and revenue that would pour into our county would be tremendous.   

The biggest winner in this project would be the city of Florence.  It was said during the meeting that if Florence didn’t want it, then Killen would sure take it in a heart beat.  Dick Jordan wanted to whine around about the sewer and water lines it would take to run out to that property  Blah Blah Blah  I can name you 50 cities in the state of Alabama that would jump on an opportunity like this. 

Now, there are other players in the game such as the USDA who want to move their offices to this facility and pay the county rent for those offices.   Also, the Lauderdale County Board of Education wants to build a new vocational school and guess what?  They want to build it here with the agri-center now because they feel it will be a WIN WIN situation.  Now Northwest Shoals would like to partner with this project and work with the Board of Education to develop a strong workforce development center as this same location.

Again - I have to ask…What are Dick Jordan’s issues?  The only issues I see with Old Dick is that he has been there WAY too long and thinks that every single project should come thru him, regardless of where it is located etc.  Those City of Florence representatives sat in that meeting acting like they were being asked to provide water, sewer, electricity and all the materials to build the center for free. Senator Melson made it clear that there was nothing about this project that they had requested from the City of Florence that would not be paid for by the County.

Now in order to move forward at this time with preliminary plans, it must first go thru the proper channels in Montgomery.  The legislative session ends on May 22 which is quickly approaching but we can’t move ahead because we got Larry Stutts fighting us on this issue.  Why?  We have no idea.  Unless he and Dick Jordan an padding their pockets, they are not interested.  Shame on them both.

Nigel Knorr


We recently saw a letter to the TD editor basically opposing the proposed UNA student apartment complex on West Irvine Avenue. The writer compared the complex to the old garbage dump once situated near the property. In case it hasn't been made clear before, the city will not approve this complex without some contingencies, including a detailed traffic study. Florence's planning director Melissa Bailey is not someone who simply defers to the highest bidder; she has integrity and will insure that current West Irvine Avenue residents are not thrown under the bus.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Muscle Shoals: Truth or Lies?

We received this from a reader: 

In reference to the blog from Leslie Shoals that you've been endorsing all week. There are a lot of lies being told in her blog. You are publishing her blog so that makes you accountable as well. Rusty Wheeles does not get "free golf" at Cypress Lakes. He pays for a membership there just like many others including myself. There are many city employees that do play golf there that do not pay but Rusty isn't one of them. You might want to do some research before you start slandering people in a public forum. I'm sure it's easy to throw anything out there when you don't publish your identity. But publishing lies is going too far.

First, we publish Leslie's guest blogs since we know who the blogger actually is and know the knowledge that the blogger possesses of the City of Muscle Shoals; however, if anything is ever published in error, we certainly want to correct it.

Second, vehicle use aside, we're not sure why a city employee using a golf course or tennis court in the off hours would be out of line. If the employee wanted to use during peak hours, then, yes, he or she should pay. We welcome comments on that.


Now a rebuttal blog by Leslie:

Batter Up!

Story is Robert Eaton contacted Rusty wanting to build a batting cage in his subdivision. He told Rusty he would pay for it and pay the city workers to build it. Rusty said ok, but then afterwards they found out it was private property belonging to the city. The reason no one knew this beforehand is because the Parks & Rec Board doesn't have an attorney. Every other Board in Muscle Shoals has an attorney except that one. Nonetheless, Rusty has turned in his vehicle and no one plays golf for free.

Whew, glad someone was nice enough to clear that up! Now we know Mr. Eaton doesn't call a fellow business owner to have services performed, instead, calls our tax paid employees to intervene. Sad that he chose to have our government employees work for him rather than buy from a business that is paying a business license, employing local people and collecting and paying sales tax, not to mention the community and social contributions small business makes to our area. We gave him the benefit of the doubt for being involved in something like that.

We hope Mr. Williams added sales tax on the cost of materials of the batting cage?  Why did it take someone reporting this to get the payment? Didn't Mr. Bradford say this happened back in March?

SO, if someone wants the city to do work on their private property, department heads don't know the regulations and laws pertaining to that? Sounds like MSC needs to hire people that can understand law and most importantly follow rules. Or, will there be yet another excuse for veteran employees, Mayor and City Councilmen violating the laws, or do they just not have a set of rules and regulations that adhere to the laws of the state of Alabama?

How many other projects have been done that have yet to be uncovered?

As far as the vehicle use - that has NOT been addressed. There are too many MSC vehicles seen in other cities (not just local cities) with employees and their family members traveling in them.

WHY do employees run personal errands in OUR city vehicles at OUR expense on OUR payroll?

Blame it all on the Park & Rec Board not having an attorney - but sometimes it's just plain common sense and integrity that should be a minimum requirement to serve on any Board, not just that you live in the city and can fog a mirror.

Will we hear any discussion at a "public" council meeting on the use of vehicles? Little Joe always tried to have that addressed, but no one would discuss it. 

NO ONE plays golf for free?  Hmmmmm.  Again, glad someone cleared that up too.

Mayor - Council - Who do you serve?????

Batter Up! 

Leslie M. Shoals


Leslie brings up some very interesting points about Robert Eaton's involvement in this. Surely he knows enough tax law to have avoided this?

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter 2017

Why eggs at Easter? Eggs offer the promise of new life, just as the resurrection of Christ offers a renewal of life to those who follow Him. May this Easter bring you happiness and contentment in God's plan.

All of Us at Shoalanda Speaks

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Agriculture Center: Yea or Nay?

We asked our friend Nigel to attend the recent meeting on funding for the proposed agriculture center. Nigel raises emus, capybaras, and miniature wasabi, so he has an interest in all things farming. Here's his informative report:

There were approximately 40-45 people at the meeting. All in attendance except for about 4 people were totally in favor of the project. All 4 or so people opposing the project were from the City of Florence. They came in with an attitude which was obvious all during the meeting as they sat there making faces as our the Legislative delegation spoke, shaking their heads and talking very loudly with each other while other people were speaking. They were rude and disrespectful. The TD has made it sound like Johnny Mack Morrow was in the wrong but it was totally all Dan Barger acting like a jerk!!! 

Now let's set the stage of the room. Present at this meeting were all the leaders from Lauderdale County, including Lauderdale County Board of Education, Lauderdale County Commission, Lauderdale County Legislative Delegation (minus Larry Stutts but who cares), former and present Mayors, former Judges, MANY very prestigious business owners, tourism board members, hit recording music stars, Lauderdale County Sheriff, Representatives from the Shoals Chamber of Commerce, and of course our one-sided reporter Palmer from the Totally Decatur Newspaper. 

And there sat big Dan Barger from the City of Florence accounting or treasury or whatever title he holds, with his long hair hippie pony tail and 3 ft long beard, rared back in his chair with a smirk on his face. It was obvious he came to argue, because he is yet another puppet manipulated by the puppet master himself, Dick Jordan. Regardless of the answers he was given by the delegation who explained the project up to this point, Big Dan had a rebuttal. 

So when Johnny Mack called him on the carpet, Big Dan got up and stormed out cussing and acting like a 3 year old child who did not get the toy he wanted at Walmart. It was terribly humiliating for everyone at the meeting and should have been extremely embarrassing for those from the City of Florence sitting in that room. It didn’t seem to faze them at all. To act that way in front of all those dignitaries or in front of anyone for that matter, would normally call for immediate dismissal. I am sure Big Dan knows WAY too much for them to ever oust him, but if he acted that way in an environment like this meeting, he acts like that all the time which is why it wasn’t a surprise to Dick and his cronies.

Yes, we had noticed Robert Palmer was a little one-sided when he called Tim Melson "cavalier" in a recent article on the proposed project. Our personal feelings? Our jury is still out, but we welcome opinions in addition to Nigel's.

Dan Barger? We'll certainly admit Nigel's account included what could be called an ad hominem attack, but did Barger deserve it? After all, he represents the City of Florence; surely he dresses the part? So we searched for a photo...

Picture...1,000 words...nuff said. (Think that device comes with Blue Tooth?)

Friday, April 14, 2017

Revisiting the Scene of the Crime

We've recently mentioned a new look into the Chris Martin murder trial, which produced a manslaughter verdict and a sentence of 20 years. Until now, we knew only that the deceased Grant Campbell had a dishonorable discharge. Was he stealing military jackets and selling them to poor natives in need of clothing as we had originally heard? No. It seems he was selling tactical vests and gas masks. Nice guy. What if it had been your family member who went without protection because of this mentally ill miscreant?

We'll be publishing more on the Marine felon's diagnosed mental state later.


Let's move along to the Autumn Wood murder trial. At the time of the teen's arrest, we heard many comment on her "smirk." It was our opinion that she was attempting to hold back tears. It turns out both views were wrong. Her jaw had been dislocated in the fight at the Eugenia Street home that night. We'll have more later.

If any young women who were present at that ill-fated, unchaperoned house party are reading this, drop us an e-mail. You will always remain anonymous. We don't care about publishing names, just the truth.

Remember: "The b***h stabbed me" might not be the best choice for last words. Autumn is scheduled to come home in two weeks.


From an informed reader on Rusty Wheeles: 

Story is Robert Eaton contacted Rusty wanting to build a batting cage in his subdivision. He told Rusty he would pay for it and pay the city workers to build it. Rusty said ok, but then afterwards they found out it was private property belonging to the city. The reason no one knew this beforehand is because the Parks & Rec Board doesn't have an attorney. Every other Board in Muscle Shoals has an attorney except that one. Nonetheless, Rusty has turned in his vehicle and no one plays golf for free.


So did you see the photo of Colbert County escapee Jesse Blake Willis?

We want to know if that's a tattoo of a Sheffield bulldog or Buster Brown's dog Tige?

Thursday, April 13, 2017

City Employees Costing Us Money

We're sure there's not a city or town in the U.S. that doesn't have at least one employee who abuses his or her position. Here's another great article from Leslie M. Shoals on what's happening in one local town:

Rusty Wheeles knowingly has broken the law according to Mayor Bradford's statements in Times Daily.

What David Bradford didn't explain that would be nice to know is WHAT EXACTLY CONSTITUTES 21 DAYS OF A SUSPENSION?

Is this 21 WORKING DAYS - which is reasonable and logical. And, does he turn in the vehicle that he uses for work and PERSONAL use as well?

Does Wheeles pay for his golf games with his family and friends at Cypress Lakes, or is this yet another liberty a city employee thinks he deserves at the expense of the taxpayers?

Citizens of Muscle Shoals deserve to know the full details and Wheeles use of a city vehicle, period.

In all fairness, I have to point out that Rusty Wheeles is not the only city employee that is costing the taxpayers a lot of money using city vehicles as their own personal transportation.

Another Park & Rec employee has been seen on several occasions taking her child to a medical office in Sheffield, not only during the work day - but IN A PARK & RECREATION DEPARTMENT FORD TRUCK. In fact, there is such a culture of no rules and no accountability, that the employees have no shame as they drive vehicles with the city emblem on them as they travel through Muscle Shoals into Sheffield and with children in the vehicles as well.

IF there were an accident in a neighboring city with the employee on PERSONAL errands, how would the city insurance carrier respond to that? Far be it for there to be an accident resulting in a death. MSC taxpayers would be paying on that for a long time.

This must be the norm in this run-a-way government, Muscle Shoals Pandora Soaps.

A picture is worth a thousand words as the City Truck sits at the medical office for how long????

MAYOR - CITY COUNCIL  - exactly who are you serving? Do any of you have any experience in anything other than flying to all those out of state meetings you carry your families to? And, of course, that's at our cost too.

It's obvious none of you know how to govern.


From where I sit - I don't see that happening any time soon... All I see are Men without the important parts that define a male.

Leslie M. Shoals


We have found only a short death notice for Theresa Milam. For those who have asked, here it is:

Theresa Ann Cunningham Milam, 57, died Sunday, April 9, 2017. Visitation will be noon-1 p.m. Saturday at Spry-Williams Funeral Home, Florence. The memorial service will be 1 p.m. Saturday at the funeral home chapel. She was the wife of the late Gary William Milam.