Fire needs probing, after massive effort


Merry Christmas! Let's clean out the notebook ... 

• The fire in Carbon Hill certainly took a ton of manpower and man hours, and it has led to a lot of tongue wagging as to what happened. I didn't stay at a Holiday Inn last night, so I can't begin to speculate what happened, but for the size of the fire and all the diverted resources (and the speculation about a kicked in doorway), it certainly deserves a thorough investigation, and I'm sure the the State Fire Marshal's Office will do a good job to sort out fact and fiction. 

I got there maybe a couple of hours after it was noticed, and it was still blazing pretty well; I could feel the heat from some distance. And the rain that kept coming down didn't help a bit. It was not a simple fire to handle, what with the size of the interior space, spread out as it was. 

The crazy thing was that I noticed coming into town that the Arrow building was nearby and wasn't harmed. Then I got there and saw the fire was in another building. So I naturally posted what I could on Facebook (using the phone for immediate photos), and noted it was not the Arrow building, whatever it was. 

I came across someone whose business is stationed nearby, and I made some mention about it not being the Arrow building. "No, that is the Arrow building," they said. It was a testimony to them that I took them at their word in the confusion (and forgetting what I had seen earlier) and took out that it was not the Arrow. I posted it was the Arrow. 

Then I came across other people and I said, "I can't believe that is the Arrow building. It doesn't look like the Arrow building." And then they said it was NOT the Arrow building. Realizing I would not be ready for the CNN anchor desk in my lifetime, I yanked that off and later kept reposting confirmation it was the Reltoc building. 

But I came across the first person and told them fire officials said it was not Arrow. That person said, no, no, it IS the Arrow building and talked for a second ... then she stopped, with a blank look on her face. 

"No, wait, you're right. That's NOT the Arrow building," she said. 

But someone else from Carbon Hill noted that both sewing plants had been closed for so many years that people are now somewhat confused about the whole thing. I guess that is right, but my memory is solid about one thing - how prominent those sewing factories were in our communities. I can still see the golden eagle and the signage on the front of the Arrow building. It was a source of pride, much as Munsingwear was in Guin and Hamilton, and Health-tex was in Guin. All that is gone, gone with the wind.

• Due to renovations of the Cannon House Office Building, as of now, U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt's D.C. office will be at this address: 1203 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515. The phone will be (202) 225-4876,

• According to the Journal Record in Hamilton, enrollment figures for Bevill State Community College show the Hamilton Campus declined this fall by 1.2 percent compared to fall 2017, leaving it with the lowest enrollment at 461 students. Fayette was the only campus to increase, from 775 students to 850. The Jasper Campus decreased from 771 students to 767. Sumiton decreased more than any other campus, with a decline of 149 students, from 1,126 students to 997, but equaling Hamilton's 1.2 percent decline. Bevill State has 95 students attending in Carrollton. The number of online students increased by 65 students, to 605 overall. 

• The Hamilton paper also reported the Marion County Commission has run out of legal options and has agreed to pay nearly $715,000 to eight Marion County municipalities and more than $114,000 to the Marion County Health Department, as a judge had earlier decided they owed the money from the county's Hospital Tax. They are also getting nearly $56,000. (Hackleburg, Hamilton and Bear Creek didn't join the suit.) 

"We're certainly pleased with the outcome. It gets the money to the cities that are due," said Jasper attorney Eddie Jackson, as Jackson, Fikes and Brakefield represented the towns who sued. One-third of the total amount is going for lawyers fees. 

• We will have repeated warnings, but I will put this in again now - we will go two days without publication next week. We don't publish on Mondays anymore, of course, but we also don't publish on Christmas, and on this rare year, that circumstance is back-to-back. So after you get your Sunday paper, be prepared to wait until Wednesday for the next issue, although we will be back to normal for New Year's. 

• Jasper's First Baptist Church is working on a new website that should be ready by the first of the year, and it will also require those giving online to register again. 

• The open house at the Bankhead House in Jasper finally allowed me to sneak upstairs and see the room dedicated to actress Tallulah Bankhead. It was quite interesting, actually, with clothes, photos, theater programs, caricatures, magazines, telegrams and such. Moreover, there is a room dedicated to Walker County history and photos of past businesses. I saw a rare photo taken inside the sanctuary of the Jasper First United Methodist Church during U.S. House Speaker William B. Bankhead's funeral. Downstairs there were a number of interesting displays concerning the temporary display on musical history, with records, record players, radios, musical instruments and the like. I think is well worth the trip over there to see all the artifacts, more so than I really realized. 

• Keep in mind Carbon Hill City Council postponed from last week and is set to meet tonight, Dec. 20, at 6:30 p.m.

• We have now lost two long-time area sheriffs, as we also heard that Hubert M. Norris, who served five terms as Fayette County's sheriff, died. He was in law enforcement for more than 22 years. 

I was more familiar with former Walker County Sheriff John Mark Tirey from my last tenure here. Tirey was always good to work with, and he endured a lot over the years; he leaves behind a lot of friends. I have missed him, and I will miss him still. 

• State Rep. Tracy Estes, R-Winfield, reports on Facebook Double Springs got $142,000 in Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs funding to reconstruct a walking trail, improve electrical access and install security cameras, while the agency also gave $15,000 to the Winston County Board of Education to help with energy-efficient upgrades. 

By the way, state Rep. Kyle South in Fayette has been named vice chairman of the House Ways and Means General Fund Committee, which allocates about $2 billion to non-education state agencies, and Rep. Tim Wadsworth of Arley was named vice chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. 

• According to the Daily Journal in Tupelo, Miss., the 16-year-old Tupelo Automobile Museum is closing next year, with 178 vehicles owned by the museum going on the auction block in April. (A total of 233 are displayed, thanks to loans.) Proceeds from the auction will fund an educational foundation. The museum will continue operating into maybe March, where for now you can see an actual Tucker, which usually brings more than $1 million at auction - and once for $2.9 million.  

•  I will leave you with a story: As I recall it, Oscar Hammerstein II, who had just written the lyrics for "The Sound of Music" on Broadway and was now dying at this point, wrote something on a piece of paper and gave it to, I think, Mary Martin, who had the lead in that show. She looked at the paper and he had written his own recent lyrics, probably knowing he was leaving her a parting message of sorts: 

A bell's not a bell 'til you ring it

A song's not a song 'til you sing it

Love in your heart wasn't put there to stay

Love isn't love 'til you give it away

This Christmas, our world is filled with hate and with lack of involvement by people to do good so desperately needed. I think the lyric is a perfect sentiment for this season, this Christmas.

May the God of grace, love and mercy,  give you a song to sing and abundant love to give away, in gratitude for the Christ child who removed our sins for all time. Merry Christmas, and God bless you. 

Ed Howell is the Daily Mountain Eagle's news editor.