Monday, March 20, 2017

A Muscle Shoals School Parent Speaks Out

From a reader:

Is sunscreen medicated?

Apparently so, if you're a student at Muscle Shoals. In a recent meeting at Muscle Shoals High School, band members and parents were told sunscreen is medicated and cannot be shared.

The Muscle Shoals band is getting ready to go on a trip to Hawaii and in doing so they had a meeting about rules and expectations. In these "rules" the students were told if they run out of sunscreen then they will just get burned because they cannot share sunscreen as it is medicated. But they are allowed to keep the medicated sunscreen ON/WITH them?

As per school policy, any medicated item (including cough drops and lip balm) must be kept with the nurse and a student must see the nurse to use such item. So, guidelines state the nurse should keep every individual bottle of medicated sunscreen on her/him and distribute to the student when needed and then taken back up. But the school doesn't have a nurse attending the week long trip, the band director(s) will be keeping all medications EXCEPT said medicated sunscreen that can't be shared without facing punishment. 

So, is sunscreen medicated or is it not? If so, then it shouldn't be on or in possession of the student. If it's not, then why can't they share instead of getting sunburned if they run out?


These school "medication" rules are bureaucracy run man. Lip balm and sunscreen? Why not mouthwash and toothpaste? It would seem that any illicit substance could much more easily be placed in mouthwash than lip balm.


We've been sent information on a certain private school. We will be publishing a blog on wasted federal money; however, we do not publish sensitive private information unless it relates to waste of our taxpayer dollars. This has always been our policy and we don't see that changing in future.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Tale of a Rob(ber) Baron...or Two

Rob & Michelle Jones

Rob Jones has been a member of the Florence-Lauderdale Tourism Board since August 2016. Jones, along with his wife Michelle, owns Singin' River Brewing, a microbrewery located on the outskirts of downtown Florence. A few blocks to the east is Blue Water Brewing, the only other such endeavor located in Florence. Blue Water is owned by Aaron Hannah and Patricia Wilkins, neither of whom is affiliated with the tourism board. Friendly competitors? Well, competitors at least. 

Since both brewing companies are in Florence, Florence-Lauderdale Tourism should be promoting them equally...rather like Rob Carnegie promoted the area's two escape rooms equally. Oh, sorry, he didn't. What do you think that was about? No matter, let's now concentrate on how Florence's tourism department is promoting these two breweries.

What Rob Carnegie posts in tourism's Instagram account is also posted on its Twitter and Facebook accounts under the name “Visit Florence, AL.” Wonder what the rest of Lauderdale County thinks of that? No matter, as we said, for the moment we're strictly looking at the blurbs for the town's two breweries, so let's have at it:

March 18, 2017 – Post for Singin' River's weekend patio bar

March 13, 2017 – Post to advertise the patio bar's opening at Singin' River

February 21, 2017 – Post on beer tasting at Singin' River

February 18, 2017 – Post on Singin' River...just because, we guess

February 15, 2017 – Post on Singin' River presents a songwriters' showcase

January 25, 2017 – Post on a Singin' River fun run

January 17, 2017 – Post on Singin' River songwriters showcase

We're not going all the way back to August of last year; we think we have enough posts to spot any trends. Let's posts for Singin' River owned by one of Rob Carnegie's bosses...and for Blue Water? Let's add them up...there's...and there's...hmmm, there's none.

Anyone have any ideas why Rob Carnegie favors a business owned by his boss? The reader who first brought this to our attention did. Yes, according to the Alabama ethics law, it's a possible crime. Whether Rob Jones has joined Rob Carnegie in this alleged crime or not, we don't know. Our reader has told us his intentions of filing an ethics complaint. We still feel that the owners of Blue Water Brewing should also file a complaint. Stock up on popcorn.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Ethics Complaint to be Filed against Killen's Connie Parrish

When you break ethics laws, it says a lot about your morals and your character, and if you’re going to do that for a little bit of extra money there, what else are you going to do? - Ryan Blessing

Connie Parrish - Used Position to Secure Raise for Mother

Common sense and logic? They're in very short supply in the Shoals, especially among those who pretend to serve the public. Now it seems we have three new ethics controversies in Lauderdale County alone. We've previously covered Florence school board member Britton Watson and her ties to UNA. Here's the skinny on the Killen controversy.

Connie Parrish is a Killen councilwoman; her mother works at the senior center. Late last year, Parrish requested a raise for her mother...and got it. She did not vote on the issue, but she is the one who introduced it and elaborated on why her mother deserved the pay increase.

Councilman Ryan Blessing is filing an ethics complaint against Parrish. Not only is what Parrish did unethical, but according to the law, is a crime...a Class B Felony. Killen mayor Tim Tubbs waltzed all around it.


Now, something else we noticed while watching the Killen council meeting: Tim Tubbs doesn't listen. Blessing clearly stated he had requested and received an opinion on Parrish's actions; then Tubbs stated nothing could be done until the opinion of the ethics commission was solicited and received.

And we thought only women had a problem being heard in meetings...


Next we'll take on Rob Carnegie and his blatant shilling for Singin' River Brewery, a company owned by his "boss" Rob Jones...

Friday, March 17, 2017

Ethics: Killen & Florence-Lauderdale Tourism

Ryan Blessing, a Killen town council member, is prepared to pursue ethics charges against a fellow council member over possible wrong-doing at the senior center. We're guessing it will be months before the ethics commission issues a statement. We'll have more on this later.


Favoritism from Rob Carnegie has again come into question. From a reader:

Florence Tourism Photo

I wanted to correct you on two things. First, it's Singin' River beer not Singing River beer. Next, I've been to the brewery and while you can't tell it in the tourism photo, there's a fence around the patio at the brewery so they can sell beer legally there.

But I'm questioning the tourism organization virtually advertising Singin' River so much. There's a second brewery in Florence just blocks away from Singin' River. It's Blue Water and it's owned by someone I know who could use a good plug now and then.

Rob Jones

I've not seen where Carnegie or whoever said Singin' River was better, but one of the owners of the brewery is Rob Jones who's on the tourism board. So he's virtually Rob Carnegie's boss and Rob's pretty obviously a suck up. So isn't this all illegal or at least unethical?


While we don't think it's illegal, it is very unethical, but that hasn't stopped Carnegie before. Nothing can be done about it until someone files an ethics complaint. We would think the owner(s) of Blue Water would be the obvious candidate, but anyone may do so. If anyone has evidence that Jones was in actual collusion, the complaint can be filed against both.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

"You're Not The Boss of Me"

The comments from AHSAA director Savarese speaking sternly to a legislative committee sounded like children (brats) scream "You're Not The Boss of Me".
According to the highly educated coaches led by Savarese, laws do not apply to coaches in Alabama public schools. It's clear they write the rules for themselves, and "You're not the boss of me".  Clearly defying law and order while biting the hand that feeds them, Savarese led the charge to put legislators and people in Alabama in our proper place.
It was made clear, no one will tell Savarese and Alabama High School Coaches what to do and certainly can't make laws that have oversight of these highly educated coaches who acknowledge the practice of recruiting football players (illegal activity).
Looks to me like the recruiting efforts should be for quality teachers if we want a sound education system.
What exactly did Savarese have to say on the Hill?..........(a few statements from the full article)
Savarese said he couldn't tell lawmakers all that is being considered, though, as the AHSAA board will vote on bylaw changes on April 12 that could have an effect on the direction the AHSAA takes on this issue.
Savarese said all 51 state high school athletic associations have been looked at for best practices and believes any rules developed about postseason competition should be handled by the AHSAA, not the legislature. 
"I have full faith in our membership to develop, to create, to analyze the data to develop those rules for the future," Savarese said. 
Whorton acknowledged those coaches in attendance who oppose the bill, but said he had talked with over a hundred coaches who want the bill to pass.
Those coaches are afraid to testify in support of the bill in fear of retaliation, Whorton said, adding, "Something's wrong with the system when you can't get any coach who wants this done" to testify...
The discussion turned to the problem of recruiting. "Recruiting is at its worst as it's ever been in the history of Alabama, and anybody who denies that is living in a dream world," committee member Rep. Jim Patterson, R-Meridianville, said.
Lawmakers asked coaches to acknowledge there is recruiting in both public and private school sports, and while coaches did acknowledge it happens, those attending said they did not participate in recruiting. 
Comparing the pools from which the smaller public schools draw students to the pools from which the smaller private schools draw students, Rep. Ed Henry, R-Hartselle, said, "At the end of the day, we are responsible for the public schools and keeping government out of the private schools. If you can't protect the public schools from an unfair playing advantage, I think at some level it's our responsibility." 
Read full article at:   

Leslie M. Shoals


A few readers have sent up a copy of a video currently floating around on FB that depicts a Franklin County school bus doing excessive speed on a narrow, serpentine county road. There's some controversy about just how fast a school bus can go. Before we post the video, we're asking readers with any knowledge of erratic driving in any county or the mechanics of governors on these buses to contact us with your stories.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Daniel Rosser/Wedding Registry Offices

First, we want to offer a sincere apology to Colbert County Probate Judge Daniel Rosser. We missed his announcement to us that he would be moving from the Alabama Democratic Party to the Republican. This is a transition that many Alabama politicians have made, and we believe Daniel will continue to serve the people of Colbert County for years to come.

Judge Rosser has always made himself available to us and the press to answer questions and provide us with important information. We believe him to be a man of intelligence, integrity, and insight. We have no idea if Daniel will face opposition in the next general election, but we cannot think of anyone who is more qualified than he.

Thank you, Daniel, for all you do!


We see that some in our legislature are opposing the abolition of traditional marriage licenses. Their rationale? How do you prove a marriage exists without a returned marriage license? It's very simple. The bride and groom sign the register, as they've been doing in the U.K. for years, and the document is just as official as the returned license when notarized. Copies are just as easily made of a registry contract as of the license.

Will this modernization of the process come about? We don't know, but it's a bill we support.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Needless Abortion Laws from Useless Legislators

The Alabama legislature recently concluded Pro-Life Day. One of the four pro-life laws passed stated that medical personnel couldn't be forced into participating in an induced abortion. This included physicians, nurses, and techs, but we'll guess the law was aimed at the latter two. So was this law needed, and will it work?

From the last year that statistics are available we see that abortions are performed nationally in:

1. Family planning clinics commonly called abortion clinics
2. Other clinics
3. Hospitals
4. Physicians' offices

Alabama reported that nine such facilities were available in the state in 2014, five of them being abortion clinics. That means that the remaining four fall into the last three categories named. We're guessing these four in our state are "other clinics" that somehow fly under the radar of the controversial name abortion clinic, but we don't know for sure. For the sake of argument, let's say that at least one is a hospital or obstetrician's office.

We're sure anyone seeking employment in a family planning clinic knows that abortions are performed there. What about the nurse or tech who goes to work in a physician's office or hospital and then finds that assisting in an abortion is mandatory? The new law says they can't be fired for refusing. Sounds good, doesn't it?

But wait! Alabama is a right to work state. That mean's you can be fired on your employer's whim. Sure, you can sue under the new law, but you won't win. You'll just be out money you can't afford to lose, plus have to sit in court while your former employer relates every incident he/she can think of where you were late, back talked, picked up the wrong instrument get the idea.

For once, just for once, could our legislature concentrate on a workable budget? Is that too much to ask? Oh, wait, this is Alabama; it probably is.

Crowden Crime Dynasty

Many individuals follow in the footsteps of their fathers; most of them aren't criminals. Jerry Jerome Crowden > Jerry Don Crowden > Jerry Benjamin Crowden; three generations of burglars and ne'er do wells named Jerry Crowden. Jerry Jerome is deceased, but we've previously christened Jerry Don one of our sociopaths; is Jerry Benjamin one as well?

Now Jerry Benjamin has been indicted for his participation in 12 residential burglaries dating back 18 months, as well as 47 other evil deeds. Benji, as he's known to friends, has already been down south where his sex offender father is currently doing a 20 year sentence for burglary, theft, escape, receiving stolen property, and promoting prison contraband (drugs).

Will Benji now join his father in the incarcerated lifestyle or will some judge take pity on him...until the next time? We're sure his victims are hoping justice is done this go round.


Here's a nice homey photo of Benji from Facebook...where he calls himself the 23 year-old founder and CEO of Crowden Enterprises. We're going to take a guess that crime is a major component of this business.

Or maybe not. We can see it now: You'll love the Crowden line of burglar tools or your money back. Remember we've put three generations of testing into our product.

Monday, March 13, 2017

How UNA Really Mucked It Up With Move To Division One

A Guest Editorial:

This Line-Up Has Even Leo Bumfuzzled

Proponents of UNA have said FCS did not do diligence as far as planning. I would say that's more true for UNA's move to Division 1. The schools we will be playing are so far away how many people will come from out of state to see a game? How many UNA fans will travel and how much money will it cost to transport UNA teams? I would argue UNA will need less parking for games.

The Atlantic Sun does not sponsor football so they have partnered with the Big South. Here is a list of teams in that conference and the distance from Florence, Alabama:

Campbell- 9 hr and 48 minute drive, 670 miles
Charleston Southern- 8 hr 23 minute drive, 560.2 miles
Gardner-Webb- 7 hr 6 minute drive, 465.8 miles
Highpoint- 8hr 41 minute drive, 556.9 miles
Longwood- 10hr 4 minute drive, 637.3 miles
Presbyterian College- 6hr 44 minute drive, 446 miles
Redford- 7hr 48 minute drive, 505 miles
UNC Asheville- 6hr 19 minute drive, 398 miles
Winthrop- 7hr 40 minute drive, 497.9 F
Mounmouth- 14hr 55 min drive, 981.4 miles

When the announcement came out it said all UNA Athletic teams are going Division 1 so here is a list of the teams and distance in the Atlantic Sun Conference, sports other than football will be playing:

FGCU- 12 hr and 8 minute drive, 850 miles
Jacksonville- 9 hr 4 minute drive, 612 miles
Kennesaw State- 4 hr and 12 minute drive, 228 miles
Lipscomb- 2 hr 14 minute drive, 128 miles
New Jersey Institute of Technology-14 hr 49 minute drive, 979 miles
North Florida- 9 hr 10 minute drive, 619 miles
South Carolina Upstate- 6 hr 32 minute drive, 435 miles
Stetson- 10 hr 12 minute drive, 682 miles.

UNA teams will spend a lot more time traveling than playing with this move and a ton of money. Was a lot of thought put into this?

Editor's Note: No, that's not really Leo; that's the famous Clarence.


Ah, yes. Welcome to Florence where you don't have to be bi-polar to be elected to office, but it helps. How long until UNA wants more money? Perhaps Kitts can give some of his 40K bonus back?

No, wait. We have a better idea. Since UNA is so flush, why not have the university give some of the three million back that the City of Florence donated toward the new science building?

Live in Florence? How long does it take you to make three million dollars? Oh, sorry. The floor is too cold to laugh and roll on, isn't it?

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Calling for Britton Watson to Resign

A few years ago, an extremely caring and efficient Florence School Board member resigned. Why? It wasn't because he had committed some sexual indiscretion or ethics violation. No, it was because he felt something he had been quoted as saying had adversely affected his ability to serve the citizens of Florence. We disagreed with him, but it was his choice.

Now we're asking for Britton Watson to resign. She has a tremendous conflict of interest about which she's not been forthcoming. Yes, her ad agency works for UNA, or at least was working for the university when it issued this press release in December of last year:

How many on the board knew of this conflict? How many in the professional news business? How many in the general public?

No, Britton Watson cannot ethically work as a contract employee for the university and then sit all innocent on the school board and suggest that giving in to UNA is in Florence's best interests. Any caring parent in the city of Florence should demand her resignation effective immediately. Any concerned taxpayer should demand that she step down.

Britton Watson, we would love to hear from you. Have you anything to say concerning your behavior?

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Britton Watson Watch/How to Get a Parking Lot

Does the unmitigated duplicity of some elected officials constantly amaze you? We hope you answered "what else is new?" Now let's add New York native Britton Watson to the list of self-serving individuals who think ethics is a word describing the eBay category in which you'll find tribal jewelry.

In case your memory needs refreshing, Britton Watson is a newly elected Florence School Board member, and as far as we can tell the only member to suggest the new middle school could possibly find a better home than the old Coffee property. At a recent public meeting, Watson introduced Florence developer Eugene Sak who made an offer for the property. His magnanimous offer was approximately one-fifth of what UNA bid for the Cherry Street lot.

Sak is a one-time business associate of Bryan Robinson of DreamVision notoriety. We previously stated we didn't know of any connection between Sak and Blue Olive, Watson's company. We have since been made aware that the connection is between Sak and Greg Watson Jr, Britton Watson's husband and partner in Blue Olive Advertising. It seems Sak and G. Watson are partners in two companies: Medex Care and American Rx.

Cozy, isn't it? Oh, yes, we're sure there is something more going on there, but much of what has been sent us cannot be proved and could therefore be considered libelous. We'll just say that Mr. and Mrs. Watson, along with Sak, are not avoiding the appearance of evil.


The Greenhill senior center needs a new parking lot and is seeking funding. It's simple, really; tell UNA the center has completed plans for an addition and is ready to roll. The university will then demand to purchase the property for a huge parking lot...which the center can use when UNA isn't. That would be most of the time. Problem solved. 

Sadly, the homeowners around the former Coffee High School property don't want an ocean of asphalt in their neighborhood. In fact, 90% of the residents of Florence prefer to keep the Coffee campus green. We now understand the school board has definitely ruled out the old Powell property, calling it totally unsuitable. 

No matter, Rogers Kimbrell has said; the city has that property off Helton Drive that it recently considered for the new animal shelter. Animal shelter...kid for Kimbrell...

Friday, March 10, 2017

Why East Mobile Street Is One-Way (At Least Our Theory)

Visit the downtown of any large city and you're apt to see one way streets. Notice any trend in these streets? If you're driving east, the street or streets parallel to your street run(s) west. Similarly this is true for north/south one-way streets. Why? Among other things, it ensures that you don't have to travel a mile if you suddenly decide you want to change direction.

Now let's look at downtown Florence. This past week has been filled with references to the town's founding in 1818. In other words, Florence has been around quite a while. So have East Florence and North Florence. How did/do travelers get from East Florence to North Florence? The easiest way has always been Royal Avenue. If the traveler wanted to go downtown how did he/she go? The traveler exited Royal and turned west up one of four streets: Hermitage, Tuscaloosa, Mobile, or Tennessee. Remember, Tombigbee dead ends before reaching Royal.

Now let's bring Florence Boulevard into the mix. We have not been able to find the exact opening date for that venue to speeders and fender benders, but 1954 seems to be close. Since we're unsure, we'll say 1950. That means Florence was a town for at least 132 years before drivers had to contend with navigating the Tennessee Street/Florence Boulevard problem. 

Those in charge of street planning in that era decided to leave the last block of Tennessee open and make it one-way to Royal Avenue. While it's basically two-way again at this point, it still doesn't filter traffic to downtown from Royal Avenue. Now city planners had three streets leading into Florence that were two-way and one that was carrying only traffic exiting the city at a time when the downtown was the only shopping game in town. 

The above paragraphs are facts; the following paragraph is a very logical theory. 

What could have been more natural than to have made East Mobile (immediately parallel to East Tennessee) one-way bringing traffic into the city. Voila! Two two-way streets, one street carrying only westbound traffic, and one street (terminal block) carrying only eastbound traffic.

This seems like the perfect time to mention that Florence Boulevard ends at Memorial Grove Park. West of that is all Tennessee Street. We've always been dismayed at the Eagle Scout who for a badge project charted Florence City Cemetery as located on Florence Boulevard. Ah, well, if Steve Pierce or Robert Palmer can't understand why East Mobile is one way, why should a mere youth be able to read street signs?

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Phyllis Linton: Liars Figuring

The Florence School Board has again heard from Rogers Kimbrell and Phyllis Linton, two (perhaps the only two) proponents for using Powell School instead of building a new modern facility on the old Coffee property. A reader asked if we were sure Linton meant not just the property, but her recent comments definitely indicate she wants the 1958 era school used instead of building a modern edifice for our youth.

One of Linton's main points has been that there were only two bids submitted for the construction of the new middle school. Linton apparently thinks the public has such a short memory that it won't remember there were originally four bids, but two companies withdrew their bids after Kenneth Kitts threw such a tantrum about the new school's location. If Linton wants to blame someone for only two bids, she should be sitting on Kitts' public paid for doorstep.

Again, where were Linton and Kimbrell when the public meetings were held on this three years ago? They were well publicized. We're not sure of Kimbrell's connection to UNA, but Linton has admitted being a current instructor at the university. 

For any who say let's not build a new school close to Royal Avenue because it has Section 8 housing, we say why a middle school almost at the intersection of Darby Drive and Florence Boulevard. Such a location wasn't a problem in 1958; it definitely would be now. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Jeremy Britten to Leave UNA

Jeremy Britten has been a fixture at the University of North Alabama for almost ten years. Here's his online bio:

Jeremy Britten is an award winning marketing and digital communications expert with 18+ years of experience. Specialties include: digital marketing & design, social media strategy, content strategy, and search engine optimization (SEO). Jeremy and his wife, Christi, moved from Seattle to Florence in 2008 and have four children: Avery, Hannah, Emerson, and Margie. Jeremy enjoys studying Shoals history, trying new foods with his wife, and going on adventures with his children.

Now he's leaving the ivy covered halls of Florence's university. Why? We don't know. We are interested in learning more of this and doing a follow up. From what we know of Jeremy, this is the university's loss.


Interesting fact: Did you know that counting bonuses, Dr. Ken Kitts was the sixth highest paid college president in the state. Yes, for all UNA's tales of financial woe, the university paid Kitts a 40K bonus after his first year. 

Think about this: For those UNA presidents who choose to live on campus (Dr. Robert Potts did not), there is no rent or mortgage payment. We never see that particular perk included in salary data. Does Kitts pay utilities? We have no idea, but we're sure the bill for a home that size is steep. Another perk?

We wonder how much the salaries of "mere" secretaries stack up against that of similar positions in the private sector.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Why Is McDonald's of Lauderdale County Leaving Florence?

It hasn't been that long ago that McDonald's of Lauderdale County instituted new hours at its six stores. Now Micky D's on the north side of the river closes at midnight four nights a week. Employees were told lack of business was the driving force behind the new hours.

Now we're told that the Lauderdale version of the fast food giant wants to move its company offices from Florence to St. Florian. If there's even a franchise in St. Florian, we're not aware of it. Apparently, St. Florian will have to institute new zoning laws in order to allow the move. Great! Is the rent too d*mn high in Florence?


John Elkington in a Preppie Vandy Jacket

The TD is still calling Inspiration Landing in Sheffield "proposed." John Elkington who's developing the project has promised at least one phase will be completed by the spring of 2018. Whether that means by the third week in March or the third week in June, he doesn't seem to have begun construction on any module to the project. 

A recent TD article also mentioned the term "prospective investors." Can we all say DreamVision? In reality, our prediction is some small development with promises of something bigger and Elkington high-tailing it back to Memphis.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Free Range 15 Year-Olds

We're sure at least a few readers will offer comments that this is not the time for this particular blog. We think it's the best time.

Parents, your fifteen year old child is not an adult. He or she doesn't have the mental capacity to take care of themselves in our everyday world. Everything is funny to them. Cleavage is cute, said the young teen girl.

If Katy Perry does it, it has to be okay, right?

Yes, we know many children live in one-parent homes and are on their own much of the time. We know that not everything a child does is the parent's fault. Yet when most of the pictures of your daughter show what passes at her age for extreme cleavage, you need to take more interest in explaining the facts of life to her. If she wants to be a glamour model at 25, fine. She doesn't have the experience to make that call at 15.

And if she's posing in a provocative manner on Facebook, you can be certain the predators are out there just waiting to make a date with her, to whisk her off to God only knows where before you know she's even gone. Threaten them with a convent or making them listen to Pat Boone for an entire weekend; that should keep them in line. Just remember that you can't complain all that much over their fate if you never took any interest in their day to day activities before they became a runaway.

Be sure to check out our most recent Quad-Cities Cuisine:

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Life Without for J.J.?

Our favorite sociopaths number around 10. Unless we've miscalculated, all but one are either incarcerated or awaiting trial on some new charge. When we write about one in particular, his family/friends/girlfriend always accuse us of some sort of vendetta or even fascination with that particular criminal. We understand that kind of thinking has its own term in aberrant psychology, but we won't go into that today.

No, today we're discussing John James Common, aka J.J., who is currently incarcerated in the Franklin County Jail in lieu of 350K bond. We doubt that he's getting out before his court date. Charges? Attempted Murder, Shooting into an Occupied Building (home with three people inside), and three counts of drug trafficking, not to mention a few counts of simple drug possession.

That brings us to the habitual offender law in Alabama. We're not sure how many previous convictions J.J. has. We do know he has both state and federal convictions that include trafficking, assault, and arson. If convicted on the current charges, trafficking being the key if not the attempted murder, with J.J.'s three previous felonies, he will be looking at a mandatory life sentence. If three of those previous felony convictions were for violent crimes (and we're not sure about that one in J.J.'s case), he would be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

J.J.'s current girlfriend has written us to tell us what a changed man he is. It seems the community college student was on his way to Bible study when he was arrested this past month. Will this carry any weight in a case with video footage of both the shooting and the arrest (depicting the drug haul found in J.J.'s vehicle)? Remember, he hasn't been out of the legal system in 15 years.

Community college? We're pretty sure there's no financial aid for those with drug convictions within the past five years. Even with the caring family that we're told J.J. has, living is expensive. A little drug dealing can go a long way toward those extra expenses.

No, we don't see a way for J.J. to beat this one. We're stocking up on popcorn...


For those who say the legal system is skewed toward prosecuting blacks, think of J.J. running free for so long after so many convictions, yet Wes Akin, with no convictions for violent crimes, sits in the Limestone Correctional Facility doing 25 years.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Selective Punishment in Lauderdale County Schools?

We recently published a blog from the mother of a Lauderdale County student. It seems that her child was given 30-days punishment for a serious infraction; however, the student handbook states the punishment shall be 10 days.

Many readers felt it was simply a question of a parent refusing to recognize the severity of her child's crime. We say no matter the action of the child, the salient point of the mother's complaint was the total disregard for the prescribed punishment. If a principal can say he/she will mete out 30 days in some form of detention for an infraction that requires 10 days in alternative school, why can't he/she say to a more popular student that the punishment is only one day? Could this happen?

It certainly happened a few years ago at UNA when athletic director Mark Linder refused to kick his star quarterback off the team for a misdemeanor arrest, but had only the month before dismissed some second string players for the same offense. Anyone see anything wrong with this?

We've also heard that Wilson School in northern Lauderdale County has been guilty of treating male students differently from female students. By all means, let's punish the girls more strictly than the boys. No! Let's try to play by the rules for a change, shall we?

Snow in March? It happens. Here's s photo we saw posted online by W. H. Jangaard:

Pardon us for being prejudiced, but Florence is one of the most beautiful cities we've seen in the States. Have we seen a bushel and a peck? Perhaps not, but you can't deny the beauty in this photo. 

However, a reader has brought up the ugly side of Florence, and we're going to soon address it. Stay tuned...

Friday, March 3, 2017

Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind (Florence School Board)?

What do you do if ABC is no better than XYZ? You pick one and stick with it. That doesn't sound too hard, does it? Apparently it's too hard for some individuals to fathom, whether at the federal, state, or local level. No, we're not talking about federal prosecutors here, we're thinking of school sites.

Florence's elected school board held public hearings on the location of a new middle school. Perhaps ABC wasn't any better than XYZ, but after listening to the public, conferring with architects, and consulting bank accounts, the Florence School Board had to choose. They chose the old Coffee High property for the new middle school. They then invested money, citizen's money, in architectural plans. Then they invested more money in tearing down three large structures. They invested even more money in hauling away debris, then having the property prepared for construction.

We have to ask why UNA representatives weren't present at these public hearings? Yes, it was obviously before concrete plans were drawn up, but if the stadium's future was so important to UNA, why not attend meetings about property adjacent to the stadium? Not showing all that public concern, were they then?

We know that at least two UNA grads labor here, including Shoalanda herself. If the university can backtrack on decisions with such temerity, we're worried about our diplomas.

On another UNA front, we're told Dr. Kenneth Dale Kitts, erstwhile South Carolinian, has fired several at the university who don't kowtow to him. We would sincerely like to hear from any who have more information on these events.

It's been a long, long time since we've named a local hero. We're naming one now, one who gave tirelessly, and still does, to the university. That's Dr. Robert Potts. Or should we say Dr. Dr. Robert Potts—he's entitled. Not too many hold a masters in the law, or so we've often been told.

Thank you, Dr. Potts! We appreciate you and all you and your family have done for the Shoals over the years. We often think how different UNA's future would have been if only you had stayed on as president until your retirement...

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Colbert County Alcohol License or Lack Thereof

Colbert County Alcohol License or lack thereof
By: The Midnight Rider
To catch everyone up for this article, I am posting this article that was recently published in the Times Daily Newspaper.
TUSCUMBIA — For the second time in as many meetings, the Colbert County Commission has denied a business owner's request for a license to sell package beer.
Randy Agee, owner of the Rayo Mart on Second Street, about 2 miles east of the Constellium plant, said he plans to appeal the commission's decision in court. He said the store was started by his mother and father and has been in business for 34 years.
They've never sold alcohol, but business has declined since the International Paper Co. closed its plant in Courtland. Agee said they were also impacted by the closure of the Hillshire Farms plant in Florence. Each plant employed about 1,100 workers.
Agee told county commissioners he planned to use the additional revenue to build a 3,000 square foot building behind the current location. He said the building they're in is 35 years old.
"We've tried to be a good neighbor to everyone," Agee said.
Some of his neighbors, members of nearby churches and the chief of the Nitrate City Volunteer Fire Department, spoke out against Agee's desire to sell beer. A petition from four nearby churches that oppose alcohol sales was presented to the commission.
Nitrate City Volunteer Fire Department Chief Eddie Osborn said he appreciates the store being there, but he's concerned about traffic around the store when firefighters are responding to calls. He said there has been an increase in calls in their service area.
Commissioners voted 3-2 on party lines to deny the license request. Democrats Jimmy Gardiner and Charles Hovater voted for the license, while Republicans David Black, Darol Bendall and Tommy Barnes voted against it. The store is in Barnes' district.
"I can see both sides of this issue," Gardiner said.

He noted there have been several liquor license requests during his time on the commission, and until the previous meeting, none had been opposed.
"I appreciate Mr. Agee and I can certainly understand his predicament," Gardiner said. "Alcohol is legal in Colbert County, so it is a perplexing issue for me personally."
Barnes said he understands the safety issues and the proximity to day care centers and churches.
"It is a tough consideration," he said.
One of the residents in opposition mentioned the proximity to Nitrate City Church of the Nazarene, which is a few hundred feet behind the store.
County attorney Edgar Black said a local act that prohibited the location of establishments that feature nude or topless dancing 1 mile from a church or day care does not apply to convenience stores that sell alcohol.

A new Dollar General store in Leighton sells alcohol and is located next door to a church. That license, however, was approved by Leighton and not the county commission.
"People have asked us, 'What are you waiting on,'" Agee said.
Hovater said he understands the challenges the business owner faces. 
"I hope the people of Nitrate City don't put a stumbling block in front of him and see him close down," Hovater said. "I feel for both sides."

During its previous meeting, the commission voted unanimously to deny a liquor license to the owner of the Spring Valley Market after several ministers and residents voiced their opposition.
Owner Rhonda Salazar said she was also considering appealing the decision to circuit court.
Okay, let’s look at this. It is 2017 not 1917. Alcohol is a mainstay. Restaurants have it. You can buy it at the Dollar General Store now. People are going to drink if they want to. Colbert County is throwing tax money away by now issuing these licenses. This is money that the County seriously needs.
How about a comparison? The Lottery is not legal in the State of Alabama. People have shot it down several times when it comes up for a vote. However these same people drive to Tennessee each week to buy Lottery Tickets. This is being Hypocritical.
Not only are these people being two faced but they are taking money out of the County as well as the State of Alabama. Lottery Taxes in Tennessee are utilized for Schools as well as road maintenance. Driving up Highway 43 from Killen, you can tell where Alabama roads stop and Tennessee roads start without looking at the signs. Again, a lot of this money is Alabama money.

Now back to the Alcohol Licenses that are being refused by the Colbert County Commission. Let me give you a news flash, people are going to go somewhere else to buy alcohol if they want it. Will these people leave the County to purchase this alcohol? It’s very possible.
The comment is made in the article that the store is close to a Church. I don’t believe you can find a store that sells Alcohol in Colbert County that is not close to a Church of some type. Again, this is the 21st Century not Prohibition Times. People in Churches drink as well play the Lottery. They might go outside this area to do it, but it is done.
Come on Colbert County Commission, get with the program. You are about to have to fund a new jail. Use some of the Alcohol Taxes to pay for it.

I am and always will be, the Midnight Rider.


We will offer one comment; the business owner in question was perfectly content to abstain from selling alcohol while raking in money from other sources, presumably patting hisself on the back for his moral fiber. Yet when the going got tough, he quickly decided to change his policy. Moral behavior should be governed by our ideals and principals, not the vagaries of our pocketbook.