News from the Tennessee Valley Columnists

Steve Stewart

Price of jail goes way up in 2 centuries

Construction costs have skyrocketed since Morgan County built its first jail.

While researching information for an upcoming special section on the history of the Decatur area, Scott Morris discovered an interesting fact about the cost of housing county inmates.

In 1818 a carpenter named Joseph Clift received $139 to build the first county jail at Somerville, according to "A History of Morgan County, Alabama."

The newest jail, recently constructed at Lee Street and First Avenue in Northeast Decatur, cost about $23 million.

Burglar likes chocolates

Some people will do anything to satisfy a sweet tooth, Seth Burkett observes.

When police investigated a home break-in in the 1200 block of Second Street Southwest, they found a claw hammer that the burglar had used to smash a $500 window.

The only things the owner found missing were a can of Dr Pepper and two boxes of chocolate. He told police that all valuables in the residence, including a closet full of power tools, appeared to be untouched.

Let me see your ink

When Holly Hollman took Russian journalist Elina Martynova to visit the Limestone County Sheriff's Department and Athens police, Holly was under orders not to get involved in an "international incident."

Elina, a former DAILY exchange journalist and current doctorate student at The University of Alabama, wanted to do a story for her Russian newspaper on American law enforcement.

While touring the Limestone jail's maximum-security area with Sgt. Tammy Waddell, Elina walked up to inmates and asked the meanings of their tattoos. One inmate, whose arms were covered in tattoos, told Elina he hoped they kept people from approaching him and talking to him.

"Oh, like I just did," Elina said.

A rough start

Tom Earwood was running his first meeting as president of the Morgan County Board of Education. Seeming a little nervous, he started through the agenda.

Bayne Hughes reports that board member Carolyn Wallace's voting button quit working. Sitting next to Tom, she had to signal to him every time she wanted to vote.

Then, midway through the meeting, Jimmy Dobbs' voting button also stopped. Sitting at the end of the podium, he had to vote the old-fashioned way by raising his hand.

All this prompted Tom to wonder whether someone was playing tricks to make his first night more difficult.

Don't believe him

Bill Meinel won his second title as World Champion Liar from the Liars Club in Burlington, Wis., with this: "My son's high school grades went from all A's to all D's. This happened right after he had his wisdom teeth extracted."

Bill, now 62, won the 2003 contest with this tall tale, according to The Associated Press: "My wife is so indecisive about choosing paint colors, our 1,800-square-foot home is now 1,000 square feet due to all the coats of paint."

Send stories for You Don't Say to or call Weekend Editor Steve Stewart at 340-2444. Or write P.O. Box 2213, Decatur, AL 35609. DAILY staff members contribute many of the items you see here.

Steve Stewart Steve Stewart
DAILY Weekend Editor

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