A Tribute to My Mother, Valera Tidwell

In memory of my mother, Valera Tidwell


You’re 5 yrs old…

Mom calls you in so she can measure you for that Sunday dress she’s making you….again. Geez, why can’t she just let me play?? *Sigh*

Life is SO hard….


You’re 9 yrs old…

You are mad at her for some reason you can’t even remember now. So, you and your sister( Rhonda) are going to run away. You tell her you are leaving and she doesn’t even flinch. You both go outside and hide around the side of the house where you think she can’t see you and wait on her to come after you, but she doesn’t. You can’t believe she doesn’t care. Every now and then, you poke your head in the window to see her steadily sewing. Eventually, you get tired, and go back in, and try to act like nothing has happened. Somewhere down the road, she tells you that she knew where you were the entire time and that she could see us peeking through the window, and that she wasn’t going to let you leave. You feel as if your mother doesn’t understand you…

Will life always be this hard?


You’re 10 years old…

You decide you want to smoke, because you’re old enough now. She catches you one day and says nothing, but throws you a pack of cigarettes and tells you that if you’re going to do it, not to hide it. So, you take the pack and begin to smoke them, one by one. Well into your third one, you begin to feel your stomach churning, until you finally throw up. Suddenly, the cigarettes don’t look so appealing anymore. Well-played Mama.

You knew it wasn’t that hard to get your point across…


You’re 12 yrs old…

She is gone with her boyfriend . So, you and your sister decide to have some friends over. There is alcohol, so you think you will drink your little broken heart away from the man who would later become your husband.  You don’t drink much, but it is effective. The dark liquor is no match for your virgin veins. Soon, you are throwing up violently, and she walks in in the midst. She tells you later how mad she was, but she still holds your head while you cry and puke, but does take some pleasure in your hangover. That is the last time you will ever drink dark liquor.

Life just seemed hard….


You’re 14 yrs old…

A child bride and now very soon, a mother. No one told you the pain would be this bad! She’s right there holding your hand. A new generation is born and it doesn’t take much time to figure out how unconditional a mother’s love is.

But man, sometimes it can be really hard…


You’re 17 yrs old…

You’ve just suffered 1st-3rd degree burns from your pressing job at Higgins Slacks. The pain is terrible, and she’s always close by, changing your dressings and watching over you.

Life is very hard…


You’re 30 yrs old…

A simple outpatient surgery turns into a fight for your life. Every time you wake up, you see her worried face above you. She wipes your brow with concern showing on her face. Her presence soothes you…

Life is hard….


You’re 32 yrs old…

Your 17- year marriage has ended. You’re devastated. She’s there to console you every step of the way. Assuring you that life will not only go on, but be much better once the grieving process was over. She was always right, but for now….

Life is extremely hard….


You’re 40 yrs old…

Your body is changing and you approach this phase in your life. She’s there for the hysterectomy and the craziness that follows.

Life is crazy hard….


You’re 44 yrs old…

Mom isn’t doing so well. Due to complications of a triple bypass, she battles to come back stronger than ever. It’s now your turn to be there for her. You learn just how much she means to you. You forget the stubbornness, silly arguments and petty things that once drove you crazy. You learn that despite what you’ve always thought, she’s ALWAYS been there. Although she’s down, never count her out, for this woman has had to fight all of her life. And she comes back with a vengeance….but whew, that was really a close one…

Life can be hard….


You’re 48 yrs old…

She’s now in the midst of the battle for her life. One that she won’t be able to come back from. Your role has now reversed. You are the caregiver. You hold her hand while she hurts, console her when she cries. You watch her frustration as she loses her ability to do all the things she loved and once took for granted. You have to watch her lose that independence that was the heart and soul of her. Her dignity is stripped from her as there comes a time that she cannot even perform the simplest tasks. Losing her mobility is the final straw for her, as the fight begins to leave her. You are there for her every step of the way, although sometimes it nearly kills you watching her steady decline.

Life is harder than you could ever imagine….


You’re 49 yrs old…

Her battle is ending…her final moments are upon you. This is the hardest time of your life as you watch her struggle for each last breath. You sing her favorite hymns softly and cradle her head in your arms as you watch the light go out of her beautiful blue eyes. Your tears fall like rain as you feel that last little bit of life slip out of her.

So many words you wanted to say. So many moments along the way you wish you could take back. The times you felt she was a nuisance in your earlier years, the times you felt she embarrassed you in front of your friends in your teens. That stubborn streak she had that could drive you insane. And that fiery temper that could lead to some of the pettiest arguments between us.

And then you realize just how much like her you really are. That’s why there was always friction along the way. At one time, you would’ve hated coming to this realization, but now it makes you stand proud. You are your mother’s daughter, and because of that, a part of her will live on.

I just wish I could’ve told her proud I was of her. The strong essence of life she possessed. Her ability to make a masterpiece out of a piece of cardboard. How she could take a few scraps and turn them into beautiful works of art. How she could take a blank canvas and turn it into a gorgeous landscape. How she could find just the right words to create some of the most beautiful poems I’ve ever read. Her witty repertoire, that golden sense of humor, and those sweet melodies she could sing. Everything about her was the very essence of life and she touched so many people throughout hers. And with all of the hardship she faced in her life, she never gave up.

I look down at my hands, and they are hers. I look in the mirror and I see her staring back at me. I can just see her saying “Don’t make the same mistakes I made along the way. Use God in every aspect of your life and one day, we will be together again.” I cling to this thought as I struggle with the thought of losing her. Of never being able to pick up the phone and call her when something happens. I miss her terribly, and when the longing nearly overcomes me, the reassurance that she suffers no longer is my saving grace.

She looks absolutely beautiful in that casket, wearing her favorite peach outfit, or coral, as she referred to it as. Her skin has a deep sun-kissed glow from the hours she sat in the sun trying to “warm her bones”. She wears very little makeup because she never needed it. Her skin is almost flawless, but then again, she never did look sick.

Her casket is draped with one of the most beautiful quilts she ever made, hand-sewn and without a pattern.

Mama never really needed a pattern, she would just look at something and say “I can make that”…and she did. She would have been more than pleased with the colorful flowers that covered the church. She always did love those bold colors. The lovely service draws to a close. It was a very fitting tribute from those who knew her best. One that surely made her smile down as she watched from the Heavens above.

The coffin is now closed as we exit the church and walk to the grave site, during which I had a little talk with God that went something like this…

“Thank you, God for giving me such a wonderful mother. I know you created her just for me. She was prefect for the job, although it took me a long time to see it. I guess this is proof that Your way is always the right way, even if it’s sometimes seen in hindsight. I’m giving her back to you now, so please take good care of her until I can be with her again. But I know you will. Thank you for allowing me to see her through her through this journey called life and don’t be surprised when I call on you for strength every now and then. Have patience with her as she tries to re-decorate Heaven and sew beautiful angel wings. I can tell you from experience that the end result will be nothing short of a masterpiece. And every now and then, please let me feel the flutter of her hand, or presence of her spirit so I don’t forget what it was like. Most of all, please let me catch the soft notes of her beautiful voice in the breeze when I’m having a bad day. In all of these things, I pray. Amen.”

Valera Tidwell April 3, 1949 – June 26, 2017

Lineville AllStars 10U Boys Face Elimination Bracket in State Championship Today

Sunday, July 2, 2017- Today, these eager young boys will compete for the State Championship at the Carl Ripken State Tournament in Mobile. It’s been a long, hard fight for them, but they have proven that with determination and dedication, you can overcome any obstacles.

Front Row: Wesley Sparks, Dontavious Cummings, Taylor Boyd, Conner Sims. 2nd Row: DaMauri Whetstone, Michael LaShall, LaBrian McKinney, Cameron Wilson. 3rd Row: J.T. Wilkerson, Tyler Boyd, Hollis Snider, Kalvin Simmons. Back Row: Assistant Coach Henry Simmons, Head Coach Freddie Morris, Assistant Coaches Quamain Simmons and Bubba Snider.

This team went UNDEFEATED to win the District Title and as of last night, are now ranked #6 out of 17 teams in the State and will face Opp in the Elimination Round at Noon today!

I don’t have to tell you that earning this ranking has been easy for them because the road to greatness is not paved with stone.  These guys have played through blistering heat, sprains and injuries, all while maintaining a winner’s attitude and that, folks, is how Champions are built.

In Game 1 of the State Tournament, they deafeated Saraland with a score of 13-4. Game 2 was a thriller as they pulled out a spectacular comeback to defeat Robertsdale by 11-8.

Game 3 took a little wind out of their sails, as they came up short with Bay Minette, losing by a score of 10-8. But they rallied on to crush Citronelle with a impressive 17-4 win to advance to the Championship Round.

Guys, whether this teams wins or loses the Championship today, I think they are winners already. It takes a lot of heart to get to this level and my hats off to not only them, but the Coaches and Parents as well for their guidance and support.

Good Luck to these “Lineville Boys” as they show Mobile how we grow them in Clay County. They may not be as big as their opponents, but they are all heart, so look out!



Document in Circulation Questioned by Commissioner

The Clay County Commission met on Monday, June 12 with all members present.

Expenditures were approved with little discussion and signing of the minutes before getting down to old business.

Old Business

At a previous meeting, a county maintenance truck was declared surplus, because it was believed that the vehicle would not run. However, upon mechanical inspection, it was discovered that the truck just needed some minor engine work, therefore, in this session, the commission undeclared this vehicle surplus and it will be added to the maintenance fleet.

There was also discussion of purchasing a trailer for this vehicle to haul lawn equipment. Commissioners ended up approving to give Commissioner Benny Morrison the authority to purchase lawn equipment. Morrison abstained from this vote.

Per Morrison’s motion, Commissioners passed a resolution for each individual Commissioner to appoint a Representative from their District to the Water Board, as opposed to the three-man Board they have now and some of these terms have already expired. This was a unanimous vote and the appointments were made. These are staggered terms.

Water Board Appointments were as follows:

  • District 1: Waylon Wheeles
  • District 2: Nick Jordan
  • District 4: Jason Watkins
Morrison holds document in question

In other business, Commissioner Morrison questioned why there was a petition  supporting the Mellow Valley park on county letterhead at Costley’s Service Station in Mellow Valley without all of the Commissioners knowledge. Chairman Ray Milstead said this was not a petition, but a survey, that he had placed there per EARPDC Representative Dianne Glen request had said to put out there to see if there was anyone in that community who was interested in putting their time and money into the park restoration.

Morrison stated he felt this survey in question looked more like a petition to him and inquired of County Attorney Greg Varner as to whether it was legal or unethical to put something like this out to the public with Commissioners names listed in the letterhead, who had no knowledge of this document. “This was something that we, as a Commission Board, agreed not to support and pursue further action for this park and it looks like a severe handicap for someone to go beyond the action of our decision, as a whole”, said Morrison.

Document in question

Milstead said he didn’t believe it to be unethical, but that he was acting on Mrs. Glen’s request.

Commissioner Burney said it was his opinion that this document should have been approved by the Commission Board before being placed in the public, since all Commissioners names were on the letterhead.

Varner said he didn’t know if it was illegal or unethical to have this document placed in this business, but that maybe it was more if the other Commissioners felt that Chairman Milstead may have acted overstepped his authority in this case.

Milstead went on to explain that the reason there was a red flag against the park through deficiencies  and not being ADECA compliant. Varner said all red flags had been lifted at this time, although there was still deficiencies that needed to be satisfied.

Mellow Valley Park

In the January meeting, the Commission agreed not to proceed with submitting a pre-application for a 128,000 ADECA grant to upgrade  for Mellow Valley park, due to inactivity,  since the school was no longer open and it wasn’t used much anymore.

Morrison made the motion that requires any correspondence or document of another Commissioner or Chairman  be approved by a majority vote of the Commission Body, as a whole. This was unanimously approved.

New Business

It was approved to accept the Insolvents, errors, and taxes in litigation list from Revenue Commissioner Ronald Robertson. This is a standard procedure that takes place every year.

It was also approved to partake in the Sales Tax Holiday weekend on July 21-23.

Further action taken included the following:

  • Approval of the Replacement of all the pulleys, springs and cables in the seven doors of the Farmer’s Market facility, for a sum of $6154.00
  •  Approval of fire damper to go into new duct work of $450.00  to Alabama Air Comfort Control in the Commission building.
  • Approval to drop the ceilings in hallway of Commission building, for the sum  of $3900 from Simmons & Simmons.

On a final note, Varner stated he had been requested to have the courtroom made more electronically assisted for court people in the future, such as extra plugins for laptops, etc.

This concluded the meeting.




Drowning Victims Recovered at Flat Rock Park

As with any Summer season, water activities are in full swing and sadly, some of these outings end in tragedy. This was the case at Flat Rock Park on Lake Wedowee in the Cragford area on late Friday evening when a family outing turned into tragedy in the blink of an eye.

Boats and divers search for victims. Photo courtesy of Klay Watts.

The tragedy occurred when the 28 yr old female, a devoted family friend, and the 6 yr old were playing in the water, as they had been off and on all day,  and just disappeared underwater, according to the mother of the child. The 911 call went out around 7:20 pm.

the search continues under a brightly lit sky of a full moon. Photo courtesy of Klay Watts.

Clay County Rescue Squad and Cragford Fire Department were paged out to the scene, along with Randolph County Personnel. Boats were launched and divers searched for hours before the mission was suspended around midnight. The search  resumed at 7:00 am Saturday morning, and the bodies of both victims were recovered within a short period of time. Flat Rock Park  closed to the public all day Saturday.

Both female victims are from Bowdon, Georgia, but no names will be released at this time. Our prayers go out to these families in the wake of this tragedy.




Tru Cabinetry donates to Ashland Head Start

ASHLAND, ALABAMA (May 9, 2017) – Tru Cabinetry, your local leader in the semi-custom cabinet category, announced today that it donated close to $800 to the Ashland Head Start program.

The donated funds came from the proceeds of a silent auction. During the auction, Tru Cabinetry employees had the opportunity to purchase cabinets used in our dealer displays or that were vendor returns. Head Start used the donation to purchase books and expand its classroom library. 

Head Start is a federal program that promotes the school readiness of young children from low-income families and those with disabilities. It does so by enhancing their cognitive, social, and emotional development. Its mission is to change people’s lives by providing services to children and families in the Ashland community. It also aims to provide a quality preschool program for children from ages 3-5 by promoting education with a joyful and a positive attitude.

Pictured are the three Ashland Head Start classes with Tru Cabinetry employees Carrie Davis, Whitney Spangenberg, Donna Barrett, and Whitney Garrett.

For more information, please contact Tru Cabinetry at 256-354-3378.

Tru Cabinetry, a brand of Tru-wood Cabinet Company, LLC is a rapidly-growing manufacturer of high-quality, semi-custom cabinetry. Tru Cabinetry is headquartered in Ashland, Ala. and currently has 250 employees. It operates in over 370,000 square feet of manufacturing and distribution space.

Southeastern Land Group Announces Randall Upchurch as New Agent

Southeastern Land Group is proud to announce the addition of a new Land/Farm Agent. Randall Upchurch of Lineville, AL is now licensed in Alabama & Georgia with Southeastern Land Group. Randall brings his experience and knowledge of marketing Poultry Farms, Cattle Farms, Cropland, and Timberland. Randall has been a licensed agent since 2008.
Randall and his wife live on their family farm in Lineville, AL with their three sons Bence 8, Aiden 7, and Cager 2. They raise Registered Angus Cattle in conjunction with Randall’s brother’s family as Upchurch Angus. The operation spans over 300 acres and 150+ brood cows. Randall is a Deacon at Barfield Baptist Church, where he and Tiffany teach Sunday School and assist in Children’s Ministry. He also is a member of the Realtors Land Institute.
Randall is the co-founder of PoultrySouth.com. This is a marketing platform for the Poultry Farms marketed through Southeastern Land Group. He and co-founder Robert King have become leaders in marketing Poultry Farms throughout Alabama and Georgia. Experience and knowledge also allows Randall to be a leader in marketing Cattle Farms, Pastureland, and Timberland.
Randall is ready to assist you in buying or selling your rural property.
To contact Randall Upchurch visit www.selandgroup.com , Cell 256-239-5379, upchurch.farmagent@gmail.com, or find him on Facebook at Randall Upchurch-Ag Real Estate.

Father and Son’s Bodies Recovered After Sunday Kayaking Accident

** UPDATE** The bodies of a 34 yr old father, Jason Smith and 3 yr old son, Dawson Smith have been recovered. Our condolences go out to the family during the wake of this terrible tragedy.


May 29, 2017- Cleburne County has requested assistance from Clay County Rescue Squad for two missing boaters. No other information was given for this scanner page, but I was able to attain more information from outside sources.

The missing kayakers are a father and 3 yr old son. The accident occurred Sunday, when the kayak holding father and son on Big Tallapoosa River flipped over. This search has been underway since yesterday,  both by water and air. Please pray for this family.

This is a breaking story. Please check back for updates as I can get them.


Clay County BOE Meeting Summary- May 18, 2017

The Clay County Board of Education met Thursday, May 18 for the regular monthly session.
Agenda items approved during this session approved were as follows:
Approval for the Central High School Band and Auxiliaries to perform on a cruise to Nassau, Bahamas during Spring Break March 24-28, 2018, at no cost to the Board.
Personnel Action Items Approved Included the Following:


  •  Kathy Crenshaw as Central High School Teacher, Effective June 1, 2017
  •  Laura Endress as Central High School Teacher, Effective June 1, 2017
  • Ada Hardy as Bus Driver, Effective June 1, 2017
  • Barbara McLean as Elementary Teacher at AES-
  • Part Time – Summer
  • Kevin Cornin as Driver Education Teacher
  • Laura Endress as Credit Recovery Teacher
 Contract Services for 1/2 day (School Year Aug. 2017  –  May 2018)
  • Kathy Crenshaw at Central High School – 1/2 day
  •  Laura Endress at Central High School – 1/2 day


Item #4 – To change our current endorsements from “Advanced” to “Honors”,   was tabled pending further review.

 The next scheduled Board meetings are June 1, 2017 and June 29, 2017. April financials will be available at the June 1, 2017 meeting. 

Ashland Dispatcher Suffers Indirect Lightning Hit

Below is a press release issued from Ashland Police Chief Joseph Stanford:

On May 20, 2017 during the storms that came through our area, the Ashland Police Department received damages from an indirect lightning strike.

Our dispatcher, Amber Nickolson was talking to the Clay County E911 dispatcher when lightning struck the light control box on the corner of AL-9N and AL-77S. The strike caused a surge to travel into the police department and damage several appliances in the dispatch area, along with causing injury to Ms. Nickolson.

Ms. Nickolson did not initially report the injury, rather did her job getting her officer en route to multiple calls before asking for treatment. She finally did call and request that someone relieve her so that she could go get checked out.

She was treated and released from Clay County Hospital, and the damages to the police department was minimal.

LPD Recover Stolen Firearm in One-Vehicle Accident

 Below is a press release issued by Lineville Police Chief Shane Dunnagan:

 On April 29, Officer responded to an accident on Hwy 9 near Shine Salon. When Officers arrived, they found a Buick Terraza rolled up on its passenger side against a tree.
Officers made contact with the two occupants who were not injured. Thru the investigation Officers were able to determine that the vehicle left the road to the right on the Northbound side of the highway. The driver over-corrected and the vehicle crossed both lanes of traffic and flipped when it hit the curb on the Southbound side.
A witness at the scene told officers that the passenger in the vehicle had gotten out with a gun. At the scene, Officers recovered a pistol that had been stolen from a firearms dealer back in September. See related article here:  https://www.atf.gov/news/pr/atf-offers-reward-gun-store-burglary-12
43 yr old Oranda Dinkins from Montgomery was arrested and charged with Felon in Possession of Firearm and Receiving Stolen Property 2nd. The driver of the vehicle was also arrested on a Probation Violation Warrant out of Calhoun County.
Also, on April 28 around 6:00pm, Lineville Police Department served a search warrant on Hwy 49 in Lineville. Clay County Sheriff’s Office, Ashland PD, and Cleburne County Sheriff’s Office also assisted in serving the warrant.
Melissa Easterwood and Rolando Roundtree were arrested at the scene on drug charges. In the residence Officers found Methamphetamine, Marijuana, and other Drug Paraphernalia.