Make your Thanksgiving Day count…

November 28, 2013
Thanksgiving Day: a national holiday celebrated primarily in the United States and Canada as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year;  prayer of thanks: a prayer that offers thanks to God.
This is the definition you will find when you look up the meaning of Thanksgiving. But this holiday is all this and more to me. It should be a special time when families should come together and count their blessings. Even in the hard times, you should still ban together, because family is all you have in this world that you can never replace, the good ones and yes, even the bad ones.
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There’s a saying about families:” When you shake our family tree, a bunch a nuts will fall out.” Well, this is true in any family. You can’t choose your family, they are God’s gift to you. You may not even like some of them, but there should be times you should be able to make allowances for them, and Thanksgiving is one of them.
 Many families have chosen to stop having family gatherings due to conflict in the family these days and I think this is huge mistake. Because how are you ever going to get past the conflict if you choose not to have any contact with them? People have blow-ups within the family all the time, and sometimes things are said in the heat of the moment that seem really terrible at the time. Which brings me to another saying, one of my favorites: “This too shall pass.”
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Ninety percent of the time, if you allow a little time to pass, things will eventually settle down and you can begin to make amends. No family is perfect, so don’t ever catch yourself looking at someone else’s and think “I wish I were in that family”. I assure you, that family has just as many problems as yours, if not more. They just may be better at hiding it.
Family gatherings are very special to me and we may have had our share of problems within ours, but at the end of the day, we all still love each other. And our family gatherings are priceless. We all truly enjoy one another. After stuffing our faces to the point of agony, we all sit and socialize, laughing and talking sometimes for hours. These are times I wouldn’t trade anything for, because you cannot put a price of this kind of fellowship.
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 So, as this Christmas season approaches, remember to reach out to those around you; the once close friends you have lost contact with, the neighbor across the street who is always there for you, and yes, even to those who have wronged you once considered your friend. Most especially, reach out to those who don’t have any family because the Holidays are a really hard time for them.
 Because here’s the thing about time, we never know when our time is going to run out and you may not have as much as you think to repair those bridges that were once burned. Many who have lost loved ones or were never able to repair friendships will tell that time can be your friend, or it can be your enemy and issues you think that are really important to you at this moment, are just not worth holding onto if you lose that person forever.
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Thanksgiving is just another day is you choose to see it this way. Or, you can choose to make the most of it, with family, friends, an abundant feast, good times and making memories to last a lifetime. Life is what you make it, my friend and you hold all the cards. You can make the choice to be happy, or you can be miserable, but it’s the latter part that is so exhausting. It takes more energy to hate someone than it does to love them.
So, if you have parted ways with your family on a bitter note, now is the time to patch up. It is common for families to have misunderstandings. However, it may be wrong to assume that your family no longer loves you. The bond of love runs deep, and conflicts can be resolved with trust and understanding. This Thanksgiving Day, extend an olive branch and talk peace.
When you walk away from your Thanksgiving feast this year, make sure that not only is your stomach full, but your heart is too. Count your blessings, but also be sure to make your blessings count. Remember, it’s not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them is a true measure of Thanksgiving.
Note: Last week, there was a sentence that went into my article about disability fraud that I meant to go back and change, or even take out. So, I retract the statement I made that read: “If you’re crazy enough to draw a check then you need to be locked up somewhere”.
 I am perfectly aware there are REAL people out there who suffer from mental disorders that struggle every day of their life. These are not the ones who my problem is with, it is the ones who CLAIM to have mental issues because they know this route is hard to prove in a medical sense of the word. These are people who can get out there and work as well you can, but they are lazy and have learned how to work the system.
 So, if this statement offended you, please accept my apologies. This was never my intention. Also, please remember, this is in fact, an editorial, which means these are strictly my opinions and you don’t have agree with them. There is no correct or incorrect method to use here. Whether you agree or disagree, the Voices page is here for you express your opinions. So, let’s hear from you…
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The Real Faces of Disability

November 20, 2013
How many of you know someone who is drawing a disability check that does not deserve one? Well, I think this pretty much covers everyone, now doesn’t it?
In April 2013, statistics showed a 29% jump since 2003 in the number of Americans with little or no work experience getting disability payments, this meaning these people have never paid in a cent in taxes. Sure, there are many who deserve these benefits, but this number is growing smaller by the day. Nowadays, you have more people who are on disability for “diseases” that are quite frankly, just a crock. Alcoholism, obesity, depression, pregnancy…and my personal favorite, mental health.
 If I worked in an SSI Office, I would have a field day, because here’s my way of thinking. If you’re overweight to the point of not working, then get out and lose some weight. If your drinking is hindering you from working, then stop. If you can’t stop getting pregnant, then seek out a tubal ligation, or better yet, abstinence. If you’re depressed, the get a job and you won’t have much time to think about how sad you are. And as far as mental health goes, well…that’s a whole other issue entirely.
 And here’s the sad thing…the people who really need to be on disability have either spent years trying to get the benefits, only to be denied time and time again. Then, you have another portion of citizens actually have a disability who choose to be a part of the work force and have learned to live with this disability. They don’t use their disability as a crutch as some do and they actually have to work twice as hard as we do to get the same end results. These are the people who I have the utmost respect for…
Take for instance, Mr. Charles Hill from Lineville, AL.  In 1962, just one day before Thanksgiving, he lost his right hand and part of his arm in an accident at his place of employment at the age of 21. Charles was working as a meat grinder when in a split second, the accident occurred. To make matters worse, his arm was caught in the electric grinder after being severed. So, a portion of this machine had to be removed, with Charles’ arm still attached. He was taken to Clay County Hospital in the back of a police car, because in these days, there was no ambulance or 911 to call. Even though he was in unbelievable pain, Charles remained conscious during this time so he could tell them how to disassemble the machine. As soon as the machinery was disassembled and his arm free, then he lost consciousness.
Charles Hill is shown holding his great-grandbaby, Levi
Charles Hill is shown holding his great-grandbaby, Levi
Charles long-time girlfriend, Jane, stayed by his side during this difficult time, and in just one month, they would be married on Christmas Day. Not many women would have made the choice to spend the rest of their life with a person who was considered to be handicapped, which shows what kind of person Jane was. She kept Charles grounded and never made him feel inferior in any way. In fact, she has been his biggest cheerleader for 51 years and counting. Their union would produce two children, Anthony and Anna, five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
Charles & Jane Hill on their wedding day
Charles & Jane Hill on their wedding day
Charles immediately began searching for employment after being released from the hospital, only to be turned away again and again. They would take one look at him and send him away, but he kept on pounding the pavement every day. Finally, after going to Higgin’s Slacks every day for some time, Plant Manager Mr. Parrish hired Charles to be a Bundle Boy, a fast-paced job that required a lot of lifting. In less than three months, he lost almost 50 pounds, but he able to sufficiently do the tasks. Charles was employed at Higgin’s until 1969.
The next forty years of his life took him through many different types of employment, from manual to professional. Charles did construction work, owned a junk yard, worked on vehicles, even building motors from the ground up, owned chicken houses, and sold life insurance. Charles Hill worked so hard that many people never even noticed he only had one hand. Charles never once drew a dime of disability until he was 62 years old, and then it was due to the deterioration of his shoulder. And even then, he had a hard time being approved. What an extraordinary and inspirational story that should be placed in every Social Security Office across the nation.
Charles and Jane still going strong after 51 years of marriage
Charles and Jane still going strong after 51 years of marriage
Another person that fits the inspirational category is Ellen Sewell of Ashland. Ellen lost four of her fingers on her left hand when she was just a toddler, but she didn’t let that stop her from doing whatever she wanted. She credits her father for her strong work ethic because she said he never treated her like she had any kind of handicap and always encouraged her in every aspect of her life. Ellen has spent the majority of her life doing manual labor through carpenter work, and could work circles around many men. She is also a talented seamstress to boot.  At 58 years old, Ellen is the owner of the Brown Gables House in Ashland, AL, a beautiful, historical home she almost singlehandedly reconstructed after it was destroyed by fire.
Ellen Sewell
Ellen Sewell
I had a politician tell me one time that the reason deserving people can’t seem to get any financial aid is because they are honest. It was the saddest statement I had ever heard, but probably the most truthful. There are many on disability and every type of government aid they can get their hands on who have learned how to work the system, so that is why the cycle continues with each generation. This is just one of the many things that is steadily crippling our country.
A beautifully decorated interior room of the Brown Gables house
A beautifully decorated interior room of the Brown Gables house
 When President Barack Obama was inaugurated in January 2009, there were 142,187,000 people employed and 7,442,377 workers taking federal disability payments. That equaled about 1 person taking disability payments for each 19.1 people actually working. In May of this year, there were 142,287,000 people employed, and 8,707,185 workers taking federal disability payments. That equaled 1 worker taking disability payments for each 16.3 people working.
Guess that’s another “record” for Obama, huh? Boy, he’s really racking them up, isn’t he?

Inmates fire back with countersuit; sue Sheriff, Commission, Bailiff

as reported by: Tammy Griffin Andrews in the July 22, 2012 edition of The Clay Times-Journal

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An answer and counterclaim has been filed by former Clay County jail inmates, Anthony Haywood and Daniel Hall, also in response to the civil lawsuit for libel and slander filed against them and former Correctional Officer Phillip Green by Clay County Administrator Scott Cotney.

In addition, The Counterclaim also names the Clay County Commission and Sheriff Dorothy “Jean Dot” Alexander to the list of the Defendants.

In the answer and Counterclaim, Haywood and Hall report the sexual misconduct in 100% true. The 21-page lawsuit gives explicit details to the sexual abuse they allegedly suffered at the hands of Scott Cotney and how Clay County jail employees were aware of wrongdoing, yet not one would come forward. It goes on to state how Sheriff Alexander and the Clay County Commission were and should have been aware of the sexual misconduct and still did nothing to report it.

Here are those named in the lawsuit and counterclaim and what role they played:

Scott Cotney

In the original civil lawsuit, Cotney claimed that former Correctional Officer Phillip Green and inmates Anthony Haywood and Daniel Hall made” false defamatory statements” against him as well as “instigating vicious rumors” that accused him of abusing an inmate.

As a result of these allegations, Cotney claimed he suffered humiliation, embarrassment, damage to his reputation, mental anguish and/or emotional distress.

Cotney was placed on Administrative leave when these allegations unfolded, but is not back at work as Administrator for the Clay County Jail.

Attorney for Plaintiff Scott Cotney, Joseph Ficquette, says the allegations in the counterclaim made by Haywood and Hall are utterly false or “almost fantasy”. “ I look forward to our day in court when a jury of Clay County citizens will be listening to testimony and hopefully agreeing with us.” Says Ficquette.

Phillip Green  

Former Correctional Officer Phillip Green said he was employed at the Clay County Jail for two years. Not long after being hired there, he began to take notice that some things were just “not right”.

Green earned a trustworthy reputation with the inmates along the way. One day, Green claimed that inmate Hall came to him and said “ Mr. Green, I just can’t take it anymore.” Hall began to tell Green stories of the sexual abuse he had sufferd at the hands of Scott Cotney and how he had no one to turn to. Green stated Hall told him this misconduct had been going on for quite some time, even before Green’s employment.

Green felt it was duty to investigate these complaints to help Haywood and Hall, so he began gathering statements from Haywood, Hall, and even other unnamed inmates who also claimed they had suffered sexual misconduct from Scott Cotney as well.

Green took the information he had gathered from these inmates and reported these allegations of Cotney’s sexual misconduct against them while Cotney was in charge of the Clay County Jail.

Agents from the Alabama  Bureau of Investigation (ABI) and the Attorney General’s office traveled to the Clay County Jail to investigate, interviewing the inmates Hall and Haywood to take their statements. Quickly thereafter, Hall was removed from the Clay County Jail and transported to Kilby Correctional Facility in Montgomery.

A short time afterwards, Inmate Haywood was also transferred from Clay County Jail to Kilby as well.

Green said he had always thought a great deal of Sheriff Alexander because she was always good to him. But one day when Green and Alexander were making idle conversation, he made the remark to Alexander “You don’t know about a lot of things going on around here.” To which Alexander replied, “ I know more than you think I know.”

After that, Green said it wasn’t long before he was released from his employment at the facility ( Clay County Jail) with no specific reason being given for his sudden termination.

Green took the accusations of the inmates very seriously, and continued to assist in the investigation even after his employment was terminated.

Anthony Haywood

Anthony Haywood claims during the period of time he was incarcerated in the Clay County Jail, he would be assigned to work on road crews. Upon returning from work, Cotney would single him out of the four- -to- five man work crew and take him to a private area where he would order Haywood to remove his clothing and then proceed to touch him in a private manner. Haywood claims these strip searches were not for legitimate jail security, but for Cotney’s sexual gratification.

In 2009-2010 Cotney made Haywood a Trustee and assigned him to work in the jail kitchen. At different times, Haywood was subjected to sexual advances from Cotney that stemmed from innapropriate touching to sexual remarks referring to Haywood’s body.

As an inmate under the control of Defendants, Haywood said he was unable to escape Cotney’s sexual advances, thus claiming this caused him constant humiliation, embarrassment, and mental and emotional distress.

Daniel Hall

Former State Inmate Daniel Hall claims his endurance of Cotney’s sexual abuse spanned over an 18 month period.

During this time, Hall was taken off the jail premises numerous times by Cotney, and transported to Cotney’s mobile home in Millerville, AL, and then later to his new residence in Ashland. It was during one of these times when Cotney forced Hall to allow him to perform sexual acts on him while Cotney was still in full uniform and badge. Cotney threatened Hall that is he told anyone, he would send him back to prison with a “ bad report card”. This reference meaning denial and delay of this parole and/or severe disciplinary action, such as confinement in “The Hole”, or being sent back to a maximum security prison.

During Hall’s 18 month period as Cotney’s unwilling sex slave, it became customary for Cotney to take Hall out of the jail and off the premises with Hall dressed in street clothing at least one to two times a week.

These trips included accompanying Cotney to the local grocery store, where Hall claimed Cotney would purchase food for his personal use on the Sheriff’s personal account. Hall also stated he accompanied Cotney at different times as well to go shopping for clothing, shoes, a camper trailer, a flat screen television, and a DVD player. These trips occurred on weekdays and weekends, ranging as far as Sylacauga, Childersburg and Pell City, AL.

On many of these trips, Hall claimed they would encounter Sheriff Alexander, who would just wave as they passed by in their vehicles. Cotney also kept Hall well-groomed by regularly taking the inmate to a local barber shop in Ashland.

On days or weekends when Cotney was off-duty, he would call the jail and have Corrections Officer or jail employees obtain Hall from the jail and deliver him to Cotney’s home for sexual purposes. Hall, who is married and has a son, said this would cause him great shame and humiliation.

One particular occasion Hall recalled when Cotney took the inmate to his residence to help him install a large flat screen television Cotney had purchased by using rebates earned from food purchases  for the jail from Red Diamond Foods. After the installation, Hall said he was forced to watch pornographic movies on this television with Cotney present, resulting in sexual activity.

Cotney also purchased a digital camera on one trip to Walmart when accompanied by Hall. After purchasing the camera, Cotney then ordered the unwilling inmate to be photographed in the nude for Cotney’s own personal pleasure.

Hall also claimed in the counterclaim it was common practice for the inmates to be taken from the jail to perform personal services, such as lawn care, carpentry, auto mechanics, and general manual labor for the employees of the jail and Sheriff’s Department, the Court system, individuals and businesses in the community unrelated to legitimate work release programs.

Sheriff Alexander

Sheriff Jean Dot Alexander said she was not at liberty to divulge any information on the counterclaim because of the ongoing criminal investigation which has links to the lawsuit, as she has previously reported to the Clay Times Journal.

However, Alexander stressed she felt quite confident that once the criminal investigation was completed that there would be no wrongdoings found and she, Cotney, and the County Commission would be exonerated. “ I am quite certain of this” said Alexander confidently.

County Attorney Greg Varner says they were currently preparing a defense strategy. “ We are planning to vigorously fight the allegations made toward to County Commission” Varner stated.

Hall and Haywood are seeking compensatory damages for mental and emotional anguish, humiliation, mental, physical, and emotional distress. They have both given statements to investigators for the ABI and the Alabama Department of Corrections. Both are still incarcerated at Kilby Prison at this time. According to reliable sources, Hall and Haywood have both been given polygraph tests and have both passed.

Anniston Attorney Ray Bryan. Attorney for Phillip Green and inmates Hall and Haywood gave the following statement: “This case represents the worst kind of abuse of power. These young men were entrusted into the custody and care of the Clay County Sheriff’s Department while paying their debt to society for the crimes they committed. However, their punishment went beyond all standards of decency as they were made to submit to the sexual demands of Jail Administrator Scott Cotney, who demanded the surrender of their manhood or face severe punishment in prison or longer prison terms. The irony of this case is that these men were so ashamed and humiliated by what happened to them while incarcerated in the Clay County Jail, they would have probably never talked publicly about the harm they suffered at the hands of the Jailer, had Scott Cotney not sued them for reporting what he had done to them in the jail. By Cotney suing them, the inmates and former Correctional Officer Phillip Green were forced to publicly answer Cotney’s complaint and slander by responding with the truth of what really happened to these inmates, Haywood and Hall.

Corrections Officer files suit against Clay jail inmates

ctj 1Clay Times Journal  June 17, 2010

A Clay County Sheriff’s Department Corrections Officer has filed a civil lawsuit against several jail inmates over alleged accusations of sexual misconduct.

Scott Cotney, the Plaintiff, filed the suit against Defendants Phillip Eugene Green, Daniel Hall, Anthony Haywood, and nine fictitious defendants categorized as Defendants A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H and I, who will be individually named later. All of the named defendants are adult males over the age of 19 and were residents of the county at the time the allegations were made.

The lawsuit claims that in early 2010 in Clay County, Alabama, the defendants acted lawfully, maliciously, and without any legal justification in making false and defamatory statements concerning the plaintiff.

The statements basically accused Cotney of criminal conduct and acts of moral turpitude against those defendants. He was basically charged with abusing an inmate in those accusations. As a result of these accusations, the plaintiff says he suffered humiliation, embarrassment, damage to his reputation, mental anguish, and/or emotional distress.

The suit also charges that the allegations were made for the purpose of resulting in great embarrassment, humiliation, and mental distress on the plaintiff. This also led to embarrassment before the Sheriff’s Department by accusing him of a criminal offense.

Cotney’s suit demands judgement against all of the defendants because of the malicious and willful nature of the statements that have been attributed to the defendants.

Sheriff Dorothy “ Jean Dot” Alexander added the allegations made by the defendants are also being investigated by the Alabama Bureau of Investigations. Alexander also believes the attacks on Cotney were intended to hurt her politically as they came in the season when elections were approaching.

“I’ve never played dirty politics, and I don’t intend to start now. I will still be Sheriff until at least January 2011, and I intend to carry out the duties of this office. Meanwhile, I will not tolerate my name of employee’s names being slandered”, states Alexander.

There is also a possibility criminal charges could be filed against the defendants when the Alabama Bureau of Investigation completes their investigation.

Go buy your ammo now…

November 15, 3013
While American citizens rally to do to support their second amendment, the Obama administration is steady trying to abolish it, in a more secretive kind of way, of course. But we Americans are not stupid, and we are learning more and more about the underhanded ways of our supposed leader’s tactics.
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In December 2013, the last Lead smelting industry left in the United States will close its doors due to the strict regulations placed on them by the EPA. The Doe Run Company had been in operation since 1892 and was the largest integrated lead producer in North America. But with the EPA’s growing restrictions at an alarmingly increasing rate under the actions of the Obama Administration, the Doe Run Company “made a business decision” to shut down the smelter instead of installing pollution control technologies needed to reduce sulfur dioxide and lead emissions as required by the Clean Air Act.
That all sounds so very sterile, but the truth of the matter is that in shuttering this plant, the Obama administration has taken yet another unconstitutional step, one that will severely impinge on the nation’s ammunition manufacturing capability. Or if you wanted to use another nice word for it, you could call it simply extortion.
Because the government has been unsuccessful in their attempts to disarm the public, they had to alter their plans. Despite the government using every incident involving firearms to convince our citizens to relinquish their right to bear arms willingly, Americans saw through their plan of action which actually increased gun sales. So, if you can’t go after the source, go for the next best thing: the ammunition. Or in this case, the producers.
With the EPA violations named against this company, Doe Run would have had to pay 65 million dollars to correct these violations in order to continue their operations which they were unable or willing to do , but will still have to pay a 7 million penalty through the settlement. This is not the first time the government has hidden behind the EPA to shut down numerous industries in our nation, further severing our nation’s economy by cutting jobs and sending them overseas.
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 Meanwhile, Congress continues to permit the EPA to wreak havoc on the American economy, with draconian regulations that have no basis in science and are causing incalculable harm. EPA regulations, for example, are closing hundreds of coal-fired electrical plants and are now targeting natural gas, which has been one of the few bright spots in our national economy, producing an abundant 1.7 million jobs.
So, how will you acquire ammunition in the future and what will be the price tag? Well, let me just say there was a reason the government bought billions of rounds with taxpayer’s money. They knew the supply would eventually dry up. Folks, this is backdoor gun control at its best. With ammunition already difficult to obtain and prices of ammo already skyrocketing, the Doe Run closure can only make matters worse. Even if you don’t have a need for ammo, you will also see the price of storage batteries rise, automobiles, etc.
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It should come as no surprise that China will be the one to benefit from the demise of our last smelting facility. China and the United States strongly intend to engage each other in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a “high-standard” trade agreement involving the US and other countries including Japan and Australia, according to insiders close to both governments. In November 2011, President Obama tipped his hand in this high-stakes game of trade talks when he told Chinese media, “Now, if China says, we want to consult with you about being part of this [the TPP] as well, we welcome that.” Connect those dots and the picture gets clearer: The Obama administration will stop at nothing to absolutely abolish the right of the people to keep and bear arms. Not only that, but our nation is becoming very close to being dependent of foreign communist countries for almost every one of our needs. The tag “ Made in the U.S.” is becoming extinct.
So, while this is an ecological victory, the financial impact on our economy will far outweigh the clean air. And if you think that I am cruel in saying this, take off your rose-colored glasses and look around. This country is in the final stages of no longer being “The Land of the Free”, and these people that are so concerned about environmental issues need to wake up and smell the coffee. Your clean air is not going to help you when it all comes to a head and you need something to protect your family with because you have a stockpile of canned goods that they want.
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 What are you going to do when your own neighbor turns on you due to starvation? Does this sound a little extreme to you? Well, it’s going to happen. You reserve your spot in front the television every Sunday night to watch the latest episode of “ The Walking Dead” because it is entertaining to you and not for one second do you think it could ever be real. Well, it’s coming and if you can’t see that, then you are the one that needs prayer.  

First hand memories from Clay County Alabama of the historical 1932 Killer Tornado

It’s been over eighty years since the 1932 “cyclone” as it was called back then, cut a path of destruction throughout Clay County, Alabama leaving behind a trail of debris, numerous injuries, and even several deaths within the county alone.. hundreds statewide. Those who survived this monstrous storm may be numbered in years, but they will never forget…   tornado 2Sunday March 20, 1932 marked the arrival of the first day of Spring in Clay County, and what a memorable entrance it would make. The country was in the midst of an economic depression, and the outlook was grim for any turnaround soon. The big news making the headlines during this time was the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby, whose body had still not been found. Easter was just around the corner, and the sweet smell of spring flowers were in the air. Everyone attended their regular church services, and made their rounds to neighbors and friends houses to do a little visiting. It was a way of life back then. Just another lazy Sunday in the South. Little did anyone know the very next day would change their lives forever… The very next day, Monday, March 21, 1932, Alabamians awoke to a sticky, very humid and windy day, with the temperatures reaching an unseasonable high of 80 degrees. Eyewitnesses who can still recall this day can tell you they will never forget the humidity of this day and how you can sense an almost impending weather situation approaching. Without any of the latest weather technology we are accustomed to these days, they had nothing more to go on but their fears…and those fears were about to come true…   tornado 9A massive storm system was wreaking havoc on southern states including Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, and Kentucky, but in the end it would be Alabama who would bear the brunt of it. This significant weather day would go down in history as the greatest weather catastrophe to hit the state of Alabama, even worse than the red letter weather day of April 27, 2011. In mid-afternoon of this day, fifteen tornados struck within the state of Alabama, eight of which were later estimated to have F4 intensity, meaning winds likely exceeding 250 miles per hour. The official count from the U.S. Weather Bureau reported that 268 persons were killed in the state of Alabama with 1874 injured, a total of 315 deaths were reported in Alabama, Texas, and South Carolina. In Clay County alone, there were 12 deaths reported and over 200 injuries, but this number is believed to have been even higher. Just after darkness fell on this fateful day in Clay County, a tornado touched down below Ashland, cutting a path through the following communities: Bowden Grove, Bellview, and Barfield. It is probable the same tornado remained on the ground for 30 miles or more as it made its way throughout Clay County, darting in and out, with little areas in its path unscathed due to extremely brief periods where the twister would recoil to the sky only to regain its ground with increased intensity. This path that only affected Clay County was a small part of the overall devastation however, because the overall path  stretched some 400 miles between Alabama and Georgia. tornado 8The twister was thought to have F4 or greater intensity, judging from the path of devastation it left behind. Eyewitnesses reported hearing a tremendous roaring, as the night sky lit up as though it were daylight with continuous lightning that left as quickly as it came. Widespread damage was reported within the county. Within minutes after the deadly tornado has passed over, eyewitnesses reported the sky became miraculously clear again, with the moon visible and beautiful twinkling stars carpeting the night sky. On this night, after many shaken residents had gathered their wits about them, they grabbed lanterns and set out on foot to assess the extent of the damage and to also to check on their friends, relatives and neighbors. The storm’s path was like nothing anyone had ever seen before. Homes were completely swept away as if they had never existed. Pine needles and sage grass were infused into tree trunks from the massive winds. Eyewitnesses accounts also recalled chickens were even stripped of their feathers. And surprisingly there were things that were untouched in these same areas. For example, in one home there was a bowl of freshly gathered eggs that had the centerpiece of a table were found approximately 200 yards outside and not one single egg was broken. As always, in the midst of a tragedy, our citizens came together after this deadly storm, thus proving how Clay County gained its name as the “Volunteer County”. Everyone who was able immediately went to work. Search parties were formed and many would spend the remainder of the night sifting through the wreckage of many destroyed homes searching for survivors, and in some cases, digging out dead bodies. Every one of the doctors in the county made numerous house calls, treating the wounded as best they could, even though it was difficult to make their way through the rubble and devastation. And after it was all over, people joined together to help those rebuild the homes that had been ravaged by the wrath of the cyclone. tornado 5One of the hardest hit areas was the Bellview community in Barfield, where the largest death toll of the county occurred, wiping almost an entire family. The Birchfield family would lose five of their family members: Willard, Buell, Larry Dell, and Lucille. Other fatalities in this area included Leslie McKay and Pauline Garrett. After the storm, Clay County Courthouse opened its doors as a refugee center, where those who were left homeless and injured parties would seek shelter. Sadly, it was also used as a morgue. Other surrounding counties also suffered tremendous damage. The city of Sylacauga was literally blown away, as the mammoth twister cut right through the heart of the storm’s path, where many antebellum homes were leveled. The city of Talladega would also sustained heavy damage. This historical day is carved into the memory of those who survived this monstrous storm. And even though these victims are past their golden years, many can still recall  this day’s events and how it all unfolded just as though it was yesterday. But I’ll just let them speak for themselves as told in their words…

  Thomas J. Whatley

It appeared as any other cloudy day, but the air was stiff and still. I was a 14 year old 8th grader and had not been home from school long before the storm hit. That afternoon, we had went about our usual farm routine; feeding the livestock, milking cows, etc. We did not the animals seemed more excited than usual. Darkness has just appeared when we heard a slight roar, which continued to grow louder. I remember the roar sounded like a dozen freight trains. During this time, our house became as light as day and was shaking like it was going to pieces. All of these events lasted for maybe a total of two minutes, but it seemed like much longer. After the storm had passed, my dad and I went to survey the damage. The livestock were all unharmed and there were some loose planks on the barn. We decided to check on our neighbors, Miss Lula and Effie Perry. Their home was heavily damaged and unlivable, but none of them were injured. While we were talking to the Perrys, one of their neighbors ran up and said that an injured Harold Birchfield, my first cousin, had crawled about one-fourth mile to report their house had been destroyed. Harold also reported that he had been able to locate his mother and his youngest sister, but he did not know the whereabouts of his brother, Buell, or his two sisters, Mary Dell or Lucille. My father left immediately for the Birchfield place to join in the search efforts, while I went to my Grandfather Watts house. I also recall our nearest neighbors, the Bud Knight family had also lost their house. Thunderstorms soon rolled in again and continued throughout the night, as did the search party. They were able to locate Aunt Celia ( Birchfield) and youngest sister, Myrtie and took them to Grandfather Watts’ house, along with Harold (Birchfield). As I recall, Aunt Celia had suffered a broken hip, dislocated shoulder, and several other serious injuries. Myrtie, was five years old, had suffered no broken bones, but had sand and dirt driven through her skin. Harold had a broken leg, glass driven in his skin, and major bruising. tornado 1 Harold gave me his recant of the moments leading up to the tragedy. He said his Uncle Willard ( Birchfield) heard the roar, opened the door, and saw the tornado approaching. Willard yelled to the rest of the family to get out of the bed and take cover when it hit the house. Harold said the next thing he remembered was being in the air and looking down in the fireplace. He thought he must have been knocked out for a few minutes, because he awoke to his mother’s ( Celia) and sister Myrtie’s cries and was able to locate them because of those cries. Seven of the Birchfield  family members were blown in a counterclock wise direction approximately 100-150 yards from the house. The search party was finally able to locate Uncle Willard and Buell, both under and large, uprooted tree about 50 yards west of their house. Buell had appeared to killed instantly, but Willard was unconscious when found. He died the next day from severe head injuries. The two girls, Mary Dell, age 14,  and Lucille, age 11, were blown across the road, about 50 feet from their father. It was evident they had died instantly. The tornado passed one-fourth of a mile from our home. And even though I am a World War II veteran, I still remember it as being the most frightening experience of my life.

Morine Horn Stringfellow

I was a young woman living in my family home about three miles west of Ashland with my father and three siblings, ranging in age from 13, to late twenties. On the night of the tornado, threatening weather had sent the entire family to the storm pit where we spent a good deal of time. When the lightning seemed to decrease, my father declared it safe for us to return to the house. This must have been the proverbial calm before the storm because just as we were closing the front door, the tornado struck without warning. My brother tried to hold the front door closed, but was blown across the room. I grabbed my younger sister about the time the chimney came down into the bedroom, and knocked a large dresser over onto us. I remember hearing my father saying “ Kids, we are gone!” The house was knocked off its foundation and badly damaged but none of my family was seriously injured- just a broken finger, skin lacerations and lots of bruises. We exited the house through the bedroom window and walked barefoot to an Uncle’s house about a mile and a half away. tornado 6 When we returned, some unusual effects were found, one being a crock of eggs that had been on the kitchen sideboard was now sitting in the front yard. Neither the crock or the eggs were broken, and the crock still remains in the family today. We lived in the storm pit and in a tent in the front yard, and ate our meals in the smokehouse while neighbors helped rebuild our home, which continued to be occupied for many years. It was recently torn down.

 Don Keith Ingram ( reporting what he was told by his father, Gifford ingram, now deceased)

The storm came on March 21, 1932. Gifford and Clanda Garrett were at the Barfield Baptist Church for a youth function. Only a few had shown up due to the threatening weather. They decided to cancel and go home. It hit around 7 pm, while they were still at the church. They went to the Garrett ( George & Hattie, Clanda’s parents) home on Hwy 9 and learned of the storm. Little by little, they checked on neighbors and discovered the home of Artis ( Clanda’s brother) & Eunice Garrett had been blown away. Their baby, Arlon was missing. He was discovered in a field quite a distance away from the house. Howard Schultz picked glass from Arlon’s face as he carried him back to the gathered neighbors. The Garretts were found to be alive, although injured, and were reunited with Arlon.

tornado 4 Checking on his own home, Gifford discovered that the Ingram house had been destroyed, but Robert & Swilly Ingram and Dad’s brothers were all right. The nearby homes on (what is now) Barfield Fire Department Rd were all destroyed of severely damaged. It was later that they learned of the Birchfield’s families deaths west of there where Barfield Fire Dpt rd intersects State Lake Rd. The next day, the extent of the damage was more evident in the daylight and in a word, devastating. It was discovered that high tension powerline towers had been toppled near Hwy 9 and Foster’s Bridge Rd. A neighbor’s barn was leveled…its roof missing. About two weeks later, a hookup of tandem wagons pulled by four mules pulled up in the Ingram neighborhood with the barn roof…INTACT, sitting on the wagons! The roof was found in a field in Georgia owned by the man who built the barn ORIGINALLY! Witnesses reported damage a mile wide swath across the Barfield community ( north and west). No damage occurred from the Garrett house south through “downtown” Barfield. The George and Hattie Garrett home was on the southern edge of the storm and suffered warping, creating an uneven floor. The house had additions later, but the original part remained warped until it burned a few years ago. I, myself, was a witness to the uneven floors. Hundreds of people died that day, across four states from Arkansas to Georgia. It was one of the F4/F5 tornadoes that swept across the state that day. Witnesses called it a cyclone, because of its size. The particular tornado’s path was 45 miles long, from Talladega to Randolph counties. Gifford and Clanda were married on June 9, 1932 and lived in a tent in the front yard of the Ingram place while the Ingram home was rebuilt. Their firstborn son, William Maxwell, was born on March 18, 1934, only 3 days before the second anniversary of the storm.

Doris Proctor Fetner

We lived in the Olive Branch community which was located one-fourth of a mile from the tornado’s deadly path. I remember the day to be noticeably warm and very windy. Mama looked out the window and saw lightning flashing. That’s the only way we knew a storm was coming. She told Daddy we needed to go to the Holman house which was a sturdier built house. Daddy refused to go at first, but after us begging relentlessly, he finally gave in and went with us to the Holman house. We had never heard of a tornado, so we didn’t know what was about to happen. tornado 11 When the storm hit, I remember the noise was deafening and the lightning was tremendous. There were 20 people in the Holman house with us at the time of the storm. We all had to crawl out where the chimney was once located. We walked right by the well that had the cover blown off and it’s a wonder that no one fell in it. When we got back to where our house once was standing, there was nothing. It was as if you had taken a broom and swept it clean, and hardly any boards around. There were seven of us and if we would have stayed there, we would have surely been killed. We had only been living at the house for one day when it was destroyed by the tornado. We lost everything we had.

Leon Fetner

I remember the day very well. Papa tried to plow, but was unable to because the sun would come out, go back in, then it would cloud up and rain off and on all day and the wind blew really hard. Papa saw the lightning and we went to the storm pit . I remember seeing chickens running around without feathers and pine needles driven all the way through pine trees that you were unable to pull out. After the storm had passed, we came out of the storm pit and got the word that several people had been killed near Lineville. Papa got the wagon and went to try to help.

Sue Rogers Proctor

I remember the lightning from the storm was so vivid and coming so fast you could have read a newspaper by it and it was dark out. My daddy got the entire family in the living room and we joined arm to arm and held onto each other as the house rocked. It blew the windows out and filled our hair with dirt and mud. Daddy stood up and prayed the whole time. tornado 7 It moved the house off the rock foundation but it didn’t destroy anything. We lived a half a mile from the actual storm in the Olive Branch community. When it was all over, went outside and one of the houses within seeing distance was blown away and the people who lived there were blown out in a field. They were not dead, but they were seriously injured. I remember you could see the fire still burning from their chimney, but their house was no longer there.

Jess Curlee

We lived in the Bowden Grove area near Hassell’s Gap approximately one fourth mile from the storm’s direct path. I remember the day being unusually blustery. Some of our relatives had come by earlier that day and had mentioned the weather. It was cloudy and the wind blew hard. When the storm started coming, Daddy got us all in one room. Some of us got under the bed and some of us got in it. Daddy was not a guy who wore religion on his collar, but he had enough sense to know how bad it was, so he began praying. tornado 12 The house shook and the roaring was unbelievable. The wind blew the rain in so hard that it blew rain in through the walls and across the room we were in. The windows were never blown out, but the rain almost blew the lanterns out. It moved the house off the foundation some but did not blow it away. Daddy and I had worked to seal the house and reinforce it some time before the storm. The next day, Daddy and I went out and built a storm pit. We dug a hole in a bank and covered it with logs and whatever we could find. From then on, if the weather looked the least bit threatening, we were in the storm pit.

Linda Dewberry McDonald (as told by her mother, Wilma Young Dewberry, who is now deceased

My grandfather, Morgan Hurley Young was employed by N.G. Blair, who owned the Blair Furniture Store in Lineville and also did mortician and funeral preparations in the back of his store across from the First United Methodist Church in Lineville. My mother’s family lived a block north near the concrete water tower at this time. My Grandmother Irene also related this fact to me when I was a little girl, that my Grandfather Morgan worked seven days, 24 hours a day following the storm. He only came home to eat his meals and he never pulled his shoes off for the entire seven days. tornado 3 Editor’s footnote: So, there you have it straight from the horse’s mouth as told by people who survived this historical weather catastrophe. It’s amazing that with the amount of years that have passed they can still remember it clearly. Just seeing the look on their faces as they recanted their vivid memories was enough to see the impact the memory had on them. It was one they would clearly never forget and  would take to their grave. With all the latest modern technology at our hands, all we have to do is tune in to the television, internet, or just look at a weather app on our phone to get the latest breaking weather information. Most of the time we know days ahead of time. I cannot imagine what it must have been like not to have any warning whatsoever. This firsthand recollection of the memories above just goes to show you that no matter how old you get, you will always remember the horror of a tremendous weather situation.

Heritage Day is a success…Thanks to you!

Vendors line the streets on Heritage Day 2013
Vendors line the streets on Heritage Day 2013

November 6, 2013

What a gorgeous weekend in Clay County Alabama! It was as if God smiled down upon us and said “Enjoy life, my children” and enjoy we did. The picture perfect weather created the ideal backdrop for the weekend activities in which citizens assembled in large numbers for the biggest weekend of the year in Lineville, Alabama.
It has always been a local tradition of the first weekend of November is designated for Lineville Heritage Day and the Clay County Shriners Car Show. And this year people did not disappoint…
Tractor Rides are always a hit on this day!
Tractor Rides are always a hit on this day!
As a Lineville Merchants Association Officer, it warmed my heart to see such a large crowd at Saturday’s Heritage Day activities. It was like the ultimate reward for spending an entire year at countless meetings pouring over every last detail, making numerous phone calls and endless paperwork. We active LMA members take great pride in putting together this signature event in hopes of seeing what we did on this beautiful Saturday, a large crowd of smiling faces of families and great friends who have gathered to celebrate life in our small town. It was a glorious experience for me.
This was the heart of the activities, too food court and stage, where there were several outstanding performances of local talent
This was the heart of the activities, too food court and stage, where there were several outstanding performances of local talent
Lots of people are not aware what goes on behind the scenes of Heritage Day. It would probably appear it was the work of many people, but in truth, it is really the extreme efforts of very few putting their heart and soul into making a successful event for you to enjoy. And seeing our streets lined with people throughout the town brings hope to us that maybe one day we have that again, not just one this day, but every day. We are all deeply saddened to see more and more vacant buildings in our town, and we strive to breathe life back into our city, so that one day our children, relatives and friends can return to their roots and be able to raise their families here to enjoy small town life as only we know it.
Memory Lane Quartet drew a huge crowd. This was their first year to perform at Heritage Day, but I have a feeling we will be seeing a lot more of them!
Memory Lane Quartet drew a huge crowd. This was their first year to perform at Heritage Day, but I have a feeling we will be seeing a lot more of them!
We all know that Clay County people are some of the best you will meet anywhere and we take great pride in that. But it is becoming more and more impossible through the economy and lack of industry here to be able to make ends meet. Lots of residents are forced to seek employment out of the county, but still make the choice to live here because they know they won’t find a better place to exist anywhere; A place where their children can play freely, an abundance of natural resources at their disposal with beautiful countryside, not to mention a very low crime rate thanks to our law enforcement.
A colorful display of beautiful quilts at the Quilt Show.
A colorful display of beautiful quilts at the Quilt Show.
Some of our citizens swear they hate it here, and at one point in my life, I thought I did too. It was the only place I had ever lived and I was dying to get away. So, I moved to Dothan for three years and hated it every day. I couldn’t wait to get back and swore when I did that I would never leave again. It’s a place you have to leave to truly appreciate, trust me. There is a reason many people return here, regardless of the local economy. It doesn’t matter how far you go, if you have lived in Clay County at some point, it will always be home to you.
Mr. & Mrs. Heritage Day, Lloyd & Micah jean Sparks
Mr. & Mrs. Heritage Day, Lloyd & Micah jean Sparks
 I love this sleepy little town. I love the fact that the streets are dead by 9:00 pm. I even love the fact that everything around revolves around football. And I especially love that in times of crisis, our citizens join together to help others in need.  That is why I have made it my passion to do anything I can to help promote our city in whatever form possible for a more prosperous future. And I would encourage you to do the same.
Paying tribute to our Veterans!
Paying tribute to our Veterans!
 Make this city not only your home, but the home of generations to come.  Do your part and place your mark on history of Lineville, Alabama by any means necessary. Shop local, buy local, become a LMA member or even volunteer. Have some input on ways to improve our city so that we may attract tourists and even more residents. We need more warm bodies to help us bring our many ideas to life. The work of so few can only take us so far and we want the sky to be the limit. You can’t tell me that one person can’t make a difference, because I know better. So, be that one person…after all, what do you have to lose?
The Grand Finale of the day!
The Grand Finale of the day!
On behalf of the LMA Officers, Darlene Alldredge, Barbara Pollard, Rodney Denson, and Patricia Dennison, I would like to personally thank each and every one of you for partaking in our Heritage Day activities. We hope that you enjoyed it as much as we did.