News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Cultural void more of an obstacle than test scores

Recent articles about recruitment to Decatur and the possibility of expanding the arts prompted me to write about my experience as a local plant manager recruiting new employees.

In trying to lure employees to Decatur, I find that our school statistics are not the only hurdle. In fact, we can usually move prospects beyond the high level Internet data down to the details about the excellent Decatur neighborhood schools in the areas where they might live.

What is more of a problem is our less competitive level of cultural opportunities. If a family has children or adults interested in things other than team sports, they have far fewer choices in Decatur. Madison or Huntsville offer much more in the way of performing and visual arts.

The interest of Calhoun Community College in an arts partnership with Decatur could offer a solution. This could be a fine complement to our budding performing and visuals arts centers.

It's easy to envision a block of our empty downtown buildings being filled with education spaces for Calhoun's fine arts programs in painting, sculpture and theater arts. Performing arts facilities could also be incorporated that would complement our excellent Princess Theater. An arts-based downtown is an advantage Madison could never duplicate because it does not have a real downtown.

Support of an arts center is well within the reach of a city the size of Decatur. I relocated from a manufacturing town of 30,000 that supported an extensive art museum, community theater and science education center for more than four decades.

With the recent emphasis on upgrading our community college system, the timing is right for Decatur to partner with Calhoun and turn our wonderful downtown into a cultural center. This would provide another reason for businesses and employees to settle in our fine city.

John Brock


Mayor Kyle lacks vision for future

What is Don Kyle doing for Decatur?

Don entered office ready to attack the budget. There is much more to a city budget than income, expenses and bottom lines. The budget affects the quality of life for everyone in the city. It is obvious that most decisions the mayor has made are for short-term benefits, rather than the long-term health and vitality of Decatur. Don has cut important and necessary jobs in an effort to save his shortsighted budget.

How well will the city function without a city planner and a safety director (just to name a couple)? These efforts may make the bottom line look good today, but what about the future of Decatur? Unfortunately, we have a mayor who lacks vision and wisdom when it comes to planning and preparing for the future. He rejected the city schools' IB program proposal (a program that is highly regarded by both educators and parents), because as he put it "we have tried other programs in the past." He rejected an offer by a businessman who wanted to buy an old building in bad need of repair, and bring a new Italian restaurant to town. Kyle based his decision on the fact that the offer was too low because of an old appraisal.

Don overlooked the benefit of having a new restaurant, more jobs and increased vitality in the downtown area. He slashed what would have been a small COLA for city employees, so next year they will have less spending power than they did this year. That decision affects pocket books and it hurts employee morale.

Don may know how to run a boat business, but his efforts in office could be sinking Decatur.

David Rollins


Decatur officials fiscally irresponsible

I just read where the Decatur City Council tentatively approved to give the Princess Theater $72,000. Well, why don't we fire 10 more employees so we can give more money to charity?

I am not against giving to charity, but if the city's budget is as tight as the elected officials say it is then why are we firing employees and still giving money to all of these charities? And let's not forget that if we are in such a bind, two of the former administration are still sitting on the elected body and apparently still making foolish decisions about Decatur's future and the budget.

The City Council decides to let 13 employees go and then decides to give the Princess Theater $72,000? I think it's about time we see if we can institute a recall vote!

Our city fathers have a duty to be fiscally responsible, but before one cent goes to charity they should find a way to give those 13 employees their jobs back. If the city can't afford to keep employees then they can't afford to give to charity and especially to fix up a restroom!

I hope the citizens of Decatur remember all of this when it comes election time. I for one cannot wait to vote again so I can rectify the mistake I made by voting for Mayor Don Kyle and Councilman Gary Hammon!

Steven H. Campbell


Neighbors worked
side by side in Trinity

In the early morning hours of Dec. 4, I saw something terrible and something wonderful. A severe storm hit our neighborhood in Trinity, and whether it was a small tornado or micro-downburst, it wreaked havoc. We could see by the brightness of the lightning flashes afterwards that there was a lot of damage, and after calling 911, we ran outside to check on our neighbors. What we saw was terrible: roofs gone, trees down, houses wrecked. And then, in the darkness, I started seeing something wonderful. Flashlights began to flicker all over the neighborhood and voices called out, "Are you OK? Anyone hurt?" Then rolls of plastic, sheets of plywood, nails, saws and hammers appeared out of nowhere as my husband, friends and neighbors went door to door and house to house, covering shattered windows, nailing tarps on roofs and removing debris. No one had to ask for help — it was freely given until everyone was safe and out of harm's way. If angels are said to walk among us, I think these people met the qualifications.

Special thanks also to the Trinity emergency units. The Trinity police were there quickly, as well as the Trinity Fire Department and rescue units. They shone squad-car spotlights on houses as people made repairs, and firemen went on "lost pet patrols." We felt safe and secure as we worked side by side with them.

In these days, when something terrible is all we hear about in the news, I was proud and inspired by the something wonderful that transpired in Blakely Estates.

Beverly Newton


Morgan officials ignored needs of Trinity residents

On Dec. 4, Trinity residents in Blakely Estates and Hidden Creek Estates suffered storm damage.

On Dec. 5, my husband went over to offer help, and to his surprise, there was a Madison County bucket truck and dump truck helping residents clean up. There were also Alabama State Correctional inmates working there.

Where were Morgan County's inmates and equipment?

My husband asked a correctional officer if these trucks were Morgan County's equipment and he replied, "No, it's Madison County's." He said that our sheriff would not send inmates and our commissioners did not send help, either.

There's something wrong with this picture and the residents of Trinity will remember this on the next Election Day.

By the way, I do not live in either subdivision, but I do care about what happens to residents in our town.

You would think that our county's elected officials, whom we helped elect, could show a little bit of caring, too.

Trinity residents should not forget this on the next county Election Day! Thank you, Madison County!

Mrs. James H. Moore Jr.


Former EPA chief worse than Hitler, Stalin, Mao

Kermit Tucker's Nov. 16 letter to the editor regarding DDT was right on the mark. While Mr. Tucker pointed out that EPA Administrator William Ruckleshaus ignored EPA's own scientific analysis in banning DDT, it is quite difficult to comprehend the magnitude of evil his ruling embodies, particularly since he actively raised funds for the primary environmental group vilifying DDT.

Most people would guess Hitler is the all-time champion of genocidal murderers. However, while Hitler's toll of 12 million readily beats out Tojo at 5 million and Pol Pot at a mere 1.7 million, Hitler was edged out by the psychopathic communist tyrant Joseph Stalin who murdered 13 million. But even Stalin was an amateur compared to the brutal communist despot Mao Tse-Tung, who was responsible for 49 million deaths in China.

So how does Mr. Ruckleshaus compare to these champions of genocide? JunkScience.Com maintains a Malaria Death Clock which continually updates estimates of how many malaria cases would have been prevented if DDT were still in use, and how many of those cases resulted in death (primarily pregnant women and children under age five). The malaria count is now more than 13 billion (yes, with a "B") resulting in more than 90 million deaths.

William Ruckleshaus not only trounces Mao, he beats the top 14 genocidal murderers put together! If this doesn't qualify for "crimes against humanity," perhaps we should apologize to the Nazis who were convicted of far less. And even though the ban was Ruckleshaus' decision alone, Congress shares the responsibility because it had, and still has, the power to end it.

This single irrational decree overwhelmingly counterbalances anything good the EPA has ever done. Period. The world would be far better off if the EPA never existed, thanks to Ruckleshaus' corruption of science for political gain.

Kennon Ledbetter

Trinity Thankful for honest man who found wallet

While writing a check at a Decatur store on Dec. 7 to pay for my Christmas shopping, I discovered my wallet was missing. Needless to say, I panicked. I searched through the store, my car and the parking lot and did not find it. As I was sitting in my car crying and praying that I would find it, my cell phone rang. It was my daughter telling me that a man named Jim had called to say he had found my wallet in the store's parking lot. Jim told my daughter he worked at Townson Bait and Tackle and I could come there to get my wallet.

When I arrived at Townson's, I met Jim Fields, the man who found my wallet. He said he had found it in the parking lot and he hoped everything was intact. I opened it and everything was there. I tried to give Mr. Fields a cash reward, but he refused to take it. He said he was glad it turned out the way it did. I thanked him again, and gave him a hug, and told him he made my Christmas for me. Thank you for reminding me that there are honest people in this world.

Vicki Martin


Driving around for gas deals makes no sense

I'm just a consumer like everyone else in this great city of Decatur.

I have the habit of calling a few gasoline retailers to obtain prices per gallon of gas before I go to fill up. My truck has a 35 gallon tank and, if I can save five cents a gallon, that's where I'm going. I also check the local prices of the stations that list them on the Internet.

I've had only one local company who was rude to me for calling, and that was a station on Point Mallard Parkway in Decatur. I called and a lady answered, who in turn asked someone else if they give out prices over the phone. The Internet had listed the station's price at $1.899.

I asked to whom I was speaking and was told it was the manager. He was rather rude and said, "We don't give out prices over the phone."

I explained that I was shopping for the best deal and just wanted to know if the price on the Internet was true. He again said, "We don't give out our gasoline prices over the phone" and that I would just have to drive around to look at their price.

I'm thinking, where is this guy's common sense to tell a customer that he should just drive around and look for the best price?" Where is the common sense of driving around looking for the best prices when you have a telephone to save on wasting gasoline?

Since I wrote this 15 minutes ago, five other gasoline suppliers have turned me down to the public. I guess they are being told not to give out prices over the phone. Is this something they are ashamed of or are they just scared of the competition?

Tony Bloodworth


Who will stand up for dead elementary teacher?

It's been a few weeks since the Lawrence County elementary teacher died. I think the district attorney should bring hate crime charges against the teen who killed Judy Jester.

I see no difference between this crime and the James Byrd murder in Jasper, Texas, back in 1998. The only difference is there's no Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, NAACP or politicians. All of the above demanded that hate crime charges be brought against the three who killed James Byrd.

The whole world heard or read about Byrd for months. Judy Jester's name will never be heard outside North Alabama. She has no Jackson, Sharpton, NAACP or politicians speaking for her. I know the Lawrence County D.A. will not want to bring hate crime charges, because it's not the politically correct thing to do. Maybe the good people of Lawrence County will speak for Judy Jester.

B.R. James


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