News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Use restraint fighting fires in empty buildings

I just saw the news of a Moulton fire on Feb. 21 in which two firefighters died.

According to the reporter, the building was constructed of wood and had been turned into a lawn mower repair shop. According to the report, the building caught on fire around 5 or 6 p.m. Was the business closed at the time of the fire? I cannot see why our firefighters had to go inside and lose their lives at a wooden building burning (with all the flammables that were reported to be on the premises) without any persons in it. For what?

This wooden building was apparently more than 50 years old. If there were no lives at stake inside a burning building, why did our firemen enter at such a devastating risk? Fight the fire the best you can from the perimeter. My prayers and condolences go to the families of those brave firemen who were trying to save a person's business, not lives. I only hope that the proprietor had insurance. A building that old, made solely of wood, with so many chemicals inside? Let it burn.

I know the firefighters have their code, but please do not risk your life for a business if there is no life involved. I felt sick when I heard that two good men had lost their lives trying to extinguish flames from a chemical fire in a wooden building.

I have the utmost respect for our firefighters. May God bless them all.

Kay Hartsfield


Classmates can pay respects to Holloway

Decatur is my hometown. I was born there and was part of the Decatur High School Class of 1951. I have been living in Huntsville since August 1976.

I read in your Feb. 15 paper that one of my dear and best friends passed away. She was Betty Carl Hendon Holloway and lived out of town. For years (early 1940s and later) her father ran the Carl Hendon grocery store on Bank Street.

All the kids like me who grew up in that area loved Mr. Hendon because we always took empty Coke bottles to him so we could go to the Roxy Theater on Bank Street.

I, through my computer, clicked on your guest book for Betty Carl and gave my respects to her family. However, I noticed that none of our Decatur High School Class had made any remarks in her guest book. I just wanted to take a few minutes and alert our former classmates that they can, through your newspaper's Web site, pay their respects to Betty Carl by way of her guest book reference. She will be greatly missed by our Class of 1951.

Hershel D. Cramer


Let residents vote on state constitution

I attended the hearing of the House Constitution and Election Committee where the passionate debates were raised between opponents and proponents. There were more than 200 citizens in attendance, from which the greater majority supported HB 109. The packed hearing room had supporters sitting on the steps and some were in the corridors. The opponents were the first to debate the bill for 90 minutes, then followed the proponents who argued their views for the same duration. After the proponents spoke, they delivered 65,000 signatures of registered voters who want a change. The opponents had no petitions to present.

The opponents were saying that a convention would raise taxes, legalize gambling and change property rights. Statements of such caliber carry falsification at best. An opponent stated that the proponents see the "Constitution is old and long. Well, so is the Bible." The state constitution and the Holy Bible are neither in the same league nor on equal level. The latter is a divinely inspired book (spiritual) for a general world audience, while the former is a humanly conceived document (secular) for a specific state citizenry. Following the hearing, a rally of 350 supporters was scheduled promoting the theme "Let the People Vote" and listening to many speakers.

I am disappointed by the House committee failure to pass the bill to "Let the People Vote." I hope SB 52 will provide better response by considering the people who were petitioned and polled on the issue. Alabama politics is being maneuvered by special interests through falsehood, fear, money, power and religion.

Isaiah J. Ashe


Officials named new school appropriately

I received with joy and appreciation the article in the Feb. 15 paper announcing the new school as Banks-Caddell. Miss Banks often spoke of the need for the citizens of Decatur to work together and be of one mind in matters regarding the education of children. The superintendent and school board are to be commended for being of one mind regarding the new name. I know that this vote is received with great applause throughout Decatur.

Decatur has a history of working on behalf of all children, and it is my hope that past efforts and the vote last week will encourage our Board of Education and citizens to commit to the notion that every child has the right to a quality education. Our leaders and citizens laid this foundation for quality education for all children more than 124 years ago and it is my hope that we continue to "think out of the circle," as they did.

Decatur's council minutes for the late 19th century will reflect prominent city leaders like Miss Banks' grandfather, Matthew Hewlett Banks, and C.C. Sheats working with the City Council to ensure that all children be offered the best education. Many people in our area do not realize how radical the notion of the public education for children of color was in Alabama and American history during this period, yet our leaders during this period spoke with one voice and made great strides.

Were public schools segregated 124 years ago? Yes, but see the history in its context and you will notice seeds planted toward a unified school district even in this time period.

There is much work to be done, and Miss Banks would definitely encourage us to not lose the momentum for quality education for all children and to continue working together.

Wylheme H. Ragland


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