Holiday Toy Drive needs $3,000 more

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Let's clean out the notebook...

• This just came in Wednesday afternoon as I started writing: According to Robbie Dickerson, the Holiday Toy Drive is needing an additional $3,000, by Monday at the latest, in order to help bring Christmas to 110 children on Dec. 14. Please send funds to Deidre Tatum at the Community Action Agency's office at 644 19th St. W. in Jasper. For more information, one may look at the drive’s Facebook page or email at wctoydrive1@gmail.com. They may also call Dickerson at 205-302-8063.

• State Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed, R-Jasper, has announced that John Rogers, his long-time communications director and policy advisor, left the Majority Leader’s Office last week to join former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ campaign for the U.S. Senate. Rogers has come to Walker County on many occasions accompanying Reed to various events. In 2017, he briefly worked on Roy Moore's Senate campaign.

“John Rogers has been a trusted confidant since joining my office in 2015. He has done an outstanding job directing the communications and policy strategy for my office, and has built strong relationships with every senator in the Republican Caucus,” Reed said. “John is talented, deeply principled, and extraordinarily hard-working. He played a key role in advancing landmark conservative policy solutions like this year’s campus free speech bill. I wish him the very best moving forward.”  

• That race continues to get shaken up. First, former Sen. Jeff Sessions has decided to try to get his old seat back, with great encouragement from U.S. Richard Shelby (who would have nice purse strings to help out). People shook their heads at Sessions praising President Trump to the skies, but Trump has held his tongue, perhaps thinking this might be worthwhile. 

Now, Secretary of State John Merrill has pointed out Sessions' entry into the race and has decided to bow out himself. Frankly, he may have seen this as too much to overcome. Everyone is reading Merrill's statement as probable support for Sessions.

If that is true, a friend of mine wondered out loud the other day about the possibility that Merrill - who, like Shelby, lives in Tuscaloosa - might find it advantageous to wait until Shelby retires (we've heard this might be his last term) and then get support from his fellow Tuscaloosa resident to run for the Senate, this time for Shelby's seat. 

As for Sessions, we will just have to see how he will do. The late entry is a concern. So would be Trump's criticism in the past, but he is holding his tongue for the moment - and many in the state still seemed rather proud of Sessions even when Trump was at his angriest. Sessions' experience (as well as the House experience of U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne) may be seen as an advantage over former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville - although the "clean the swamp" crowd may want to support the coach for simply not having any political experience. All the conventional wisdoms are upside down these days, so it is hard to tell. (As for Roy Moore, he seems more interested starting lawsuits over the last election. Has anyone even seen him campaign?) 

• The Carbon Hill financial situation may be in the paper today; the Carbon Hill City Council held a work session Monday and found three years of problems in terms of deposits not being made or at least paperwork not being found. I have to say that it is early in the process as an internal review by the city is still underway, and they hope they can find more paperwork or evidence to know what happened, possibly to restore the books. No one wants to point fingers at the moment.

Hopefully, city leaders can find needed information. I do think the city council is headed in the right direction in trying to straighten out the city's finances, and I appreciate the public review given at Monday's work session to allow us to understand the general nature of the problem. I also appreciate Janice Pendley coming in as an acting city clerk for now to give experience for the moment while looking up information and training the new city clerk. As bad as the experience is, I think the council feels they are moving now in the right direction, and I agree. 

• OK, it is the holidays, coming at us a mile a minute (especially as the calendar for the holidays is shorter this year). So let us remember that for the moment, Oakman will have its tree lighting at 6 p.m. tonight (Thursday), followed by its parade. The Carbon Hill tree lighting will be at 5:30 p.m. Friday. (Their parade won't be until Dec. 14.) Then the Nauvoo parade is at 10 a.m. Saturday.

Also, Townley will have its parade Saturday at 1 p.m., with lineup at 12:30 p.m. A community meal will be at the local gym after the parade, with Santa on hand for photos. 

And remember that Ridgeview Health Services in Jasper will have its live nativity scene on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. I am playing catch up as I was off work last week, but hope to have a story on that. 

• By the way, thank you for the nice words about the story I did on the death of former District Attorney Charles Baker. Being off for the week, I didn't know until late Friday I would do the story. I appreciate District Attorney Bill Adair and investigator Frank Cole for coming in Saturday morning, Iron Bowl Saturday, to give me an interesting take on the innovations that Baker brought to the job.

We had that and a ton of obituaries (as well as the death of Chief Cooner), and then the game was heard on the newsroom TV, with the lead switching constantly. By the end of the third quarter, when I was done with my end, I had enough excitement. I went home, put on Christmas music, and tried to clean up around the apartment. I found out later how the game ended. I had been off a week and after one day I was a wreck. 

• By the way, the iPhone still confounds me. On Sunday, after a stressful Saturday, I was trying to bring the Bible up on my phone as the sermon started. Instead the audio version came on, and I had trouble turning it off. I went out to the lobby, and then outside before I finally figured it out. And after all that humiliation, I left. 

Worse, I came across Airport Road work Tuesday night that shut down all lanes at Highway 118. I went up Mall Way and the Trace to get back. But I needed a reminder on the Maps app on the phone - only to discover that while I can see to drive without glasses now after surgery, I couldn't read the app (which lately hasn't been doing verbal commands; I'm not sure the settings were wrong). And even though I got up there, the north side of the work looked blocked off again (or at least it looked so), so I had to go to supper and come back to find less congestion at least to get through. 

(I've never seen a city on such a paving binge. They are paving in downtown Jasper near Young's Jewelers, and I've seen several streets off of Highway 118 in the business area that are being ground up or paved.) 

• Congratulations to Capstone Rural Health Clinic, which has opened up its new clinic in Arley. State Rep. Tim Wadsworth says online it is the first medical clinic in Arley.