Cleaning the slate at BOE was best

Posted 9/6/18

Let's clean out the notebook ... • As you know, Jason Adkins last month resigned as Walker County superintendent of education and the Walker County Board of Education named him as an …

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Cleaning the slate at BOE was best

Posted

Let's clean out the notebook ... 

• As you know, Jason Adkins last month resigned as Walker County superintendent of education and the Walker County Board of Education named him as an administrative officer, while Joel Hagood was named as interim superintendent, knowing he faced independent Tanya Guin on Nov. 6. 

When we say that was a shock, it was a shock. Hagood was completely flatfooted and unprepared. We had no inkling ourselves. It just happened. 

People are still furious on the street about Adkins getting the same $165,880 a year until Jan. 1, 2020. I'm not  too happy myself, although I've heard the board might have been heading off other potential action down the road could have also been expensive.

My guess is our board was essentially trying to put an end to any potential spending and wiping the slate clean. The intervention was expensive but so might other matters had things remained unchanged. Hagood has pledged to get a hold of the spending, and he is a favorite as the Republican nominee with no Democrat against him. 

Mind you, Guin is still mounting a campaign and has taken out an ad to complain about the Adkins contract, but independent candidacies are still untested in this county. And, let's face it, I imagine the board, which has not gotten along well with Guin, likely was happy to put Hagood in a stronger position against her. 

I think they feel good about his chances anyway and feel he can go ahead and get him started, which at the very least brings some stability and tranquility after the heat of battle, and at least insures against surprise spending. And keep in mind that both Adkins and Hagood were working in the same office; I'm told it was somewhat chilly in atmosphere over there with that situation, and that could not be good for day-to-day office work. If I am not mistaken, that could have continued into January without action. 

Frankly, trust and tranquility have been such a shortage of late over at the Central Office, especially after that superintendent campaign. Regardless of the cost and the fall campaign, I think the board was between a rock and a hard place. It was not a happy decision, but on reflection I think it was better to wipe the slate clean. It reminds me of a church in Hamilton where it got so bad with three ministers over there, and with such finger pointing, that the deacons gave up and fired all three, starting over again. (One could say President Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon had the same purpose, after two years or turmoil, and Ford's time still taken up with the legal battles over Nixon.) 

Sometimes you have to wipe the slate clean to protect yourself in the future and to put things back to normal working order. I think even if Hagood was defeated in the fall, it would be worth it to go forward and have protection and certainty over the budget process without competing voices. Costly though it be, another five months of that would have been brutal, and could have been costly to undo in the future. 

• On Tuesday I needled Democratic Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice candidate Bob Vance, Jr., whose wife is a commentator on national cable news. I asked him why didn't he have his wife wear "Vote for Vance" shirts on national TV. He laughed easily and said, "We've had those discussions," joking that there were some pesky network rules that prevent that. I'm sure the couple's had a good laugh about that. 

I usually cover the speeches of candidates, but they picked a restaurant on a night where a country music singer had the mic up front. He suggested an interview, and I had to hold the recorder up to his chin. (We have great, friendly places with great atmosphere, mind you, but we need to make better use of meeting sites in Jasper for these small political gatherings that are not costly to candidates, functional to format  and doesn't get in the way of waitresses doing their jobs.) 

• While we are at it, Will Ainsworth, the GOP lieutenant governor candidate, will speak at the Walker County Republican Party meeting on Thursday, Sept. 20, at 6 p.m. at Bevill State Community College. I will not be able to attend for personal reasons, but we are hoping to arrange for James Phillips to cover in my place. 

• County officials are probably bracing themselves for Sept. 13 at 10 a.m. That is the Thursday that the Walker County Commission is having a budget hearing. I still think the commission still wants to get through the calendar year (the first quarter of Fiscal '19), and then concentrate on long-term solutions. 

• I should note that the Journal Record in Hamilton let me know about this: Today (Thursday, Sept. 6) at 4 p.m. all Bevill State Community College employees are meeting with President Kim Ennis and a team from the two-year college system, including Chancellor Jimmy Baker, at Rowland Auditorium on the Jasper Campus. If employees can't attend, means will be set up on each campus to view it by video. I can imagine the topics. 

• The word was released on Facebook that Jimmy's Egg plans to open in Jasper on Oct. 1. 

• I am still wondering why, in the face of parking at this weekend's Coca-Cola Foothills Festival, that someone can't just take a small van and pick up people from the outskirts, such as First Baptist Church, Jasper High School, Maddox Intermediate or some other areas, and let them off on the outskirts of the blocked-off area of the festival. I wouldn't take them into the main area, as that is a safety concern, but I think you could drop them off nearby the area without getting in the way. 

I should say it is a good problem to have the parking situation late Friday, as it means the area has two major events to deal with, thanks to the Alabama Bass Trail. By 7 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. Friday, the Jasper Civic Center should be clearing out for use.

By the way, I will be attending the festival this year. Hopefully, if there are any breaking developments or messages, if city or festival people let me know, I or others will try to pass them along on the Daily Mountain Eagle's Facebook page. We plan to run photos Saturday and Sunday with a wrap up story on Sunday. 

• By the way, one should not forget we have other festivals coming up. Hillfest is set for next week (Sept. 14-15) in Carbon Hill, Mule Day in Winfield will run from Sept. 21-23 (it hasn't been one day for years), the Frog Festival is set in Sumiton for Oct. 3, and Days Gap will be in Oakman on Oct. 12-13. 

• Justin Wood, the new youth pastor for Jasper's First Baptist Church, was really impressed with the revitalization efforts in downtown Jasper when he arrived. Moreover, he really has been impressed with the restaurants in Walker County — I think he is trying them out here as fast as he can. (Being single helps with that; you're not tied down with Happy Meals.) He won't have to go far to eat on Sept. 30, as the church is throwing him a welcoming lunch that Sunday after the morning service. 

• I'm very proud of our own Elane Jones for being featured in the main film shown at the Walker Area Community Foundation luncheon recently, talking about the aftermath of the 2011 tornadoes. She also won the Area 3 Outstanding Cnservation Communications Award from the Soil and Water Conservation, which she richly deserves; she was nominated by the Walker County Soil and Water Conservation group. 

• Keep in mind that on Sept. 11 the Daily Mountain Eagle is slated to get new computers for the staff, and the crew that actually lays out the paper will be undergoing training to switch essentially from QuarkXPress to Adobe InDesign, which is quite a change. I won't have to deal with the software change, as I have long ago left behind design work, but I know old habits will die hard, so I would ask for patience for a week or two as people are training. This will be a good thing for the staff, and Adobe has been growing in popularity for such work. 

• If I could ask for patience, well, I've had several health issues to deal with, not the least of which is the pollen that is just giving everyone fits. Ragweed is early and brutal this year, and we are at the peak of the season already in our area, according to pollen.com. I can tell you Wednesday's rain was welcome, but did not help.