News from the Tennessee Valley Columnists

Steve Stewart

Bird watchers headed this way in May?

Lots of people in the Decatur area have worked hard to include this area in the North Alabama Birding Trail. The trail is great for locals, but will it increase tourism?

Eric Fleischauer reports that early signs are promising. In its Jan. 1 edition, in an article titled "A Traveler's Mix for 2006," the Chicago Tribune included this entry for May 5-7:

"DECATUR — North Alabama Birding Festival. New birding trail takes wing."

The Tribune's Sunday circulation? A cool million.

Christmas in church

Local pastors reported to Melanie Smith they had full houses, or nearly so, for Christmas Day.

The turnout was contrary to some ministers' expectations. Several megachurches across the country canceled Christmas Day services, citing poor attendance the last time the holy day fell on Sunday.

One local minister ran out of candles and described attendance as "incredible."

The Rev. Steve Caudle of Trinity Baptist Church made a note for whoever does the planning for 2011, when Christmas Day is again on Sunday: If you build Christmas services, they will come.

Being too critical

While visiting with Athens police, Russian journalist Ella Martynova explained how life is different in her home country.

She said reporters who are critical of government could face threats to their lives or have drugs planted in their homes so they'll be arrested.

"Holly would have been in trouble a long time ago," Capt. Marty Bruce said, referring to DAILY reporter Holly Hollman.

Freedom of the press

Ella's comment brings to mind a Kansas journalist who visited the Soviet Embassy in Washington a couple of decades ago. He and some colleagues were questioning an embassy official.

The Kansan got a little belligerent, declaring that he could write "whatever I damn well please" about what he saw in Washington. What would happen, he asked, to a journalist who did that in the Soviet Union?

The embassy official was a true diplomat.

"In our country," he said with a smile, "we don't allow journalists to write more than they know."

Catch me if you can

Memo to robbers: Don't use a personalized license plate for the getaway car.

A man walked into a bank in Laurel, Neb., and said he planned to rob it, according to The Associated Press.

He didn't show a weapon and fled with no money.

Witnesses described his black pickup and its vanity tag. Police stopped it and arrested Arlie Bichlmeier, 58, of Norfolk.

His truck tag? "FINDME."

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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