Hurricanes, finances make for wild times

Ed Howell
Posted 9/13/17

Let’s clean out the notebook ...

These have been strange times indeed. At the same time we were preparing for a hurricane, I was also in constant discussions about the county’s financial …

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Hurricanes, finances make for wild times

Posted

Let’s clean out the notebook ...

These have been strange times indeed. At the same time we were preparing for a hurricane, I was also in constant discussions about the county’s financial crisis. At one point, we were hurrying to get the newspaper finished early on Monday just in case, but I was coming back that night for a Walker County Civil Service Board meeting that was addressing some of the suggestions that would help the county financially, as well as trying to streamline the board’s own operations. The hurricane and the county’s budget have been like parallel stories that do not quit, and I even had to address both over the weekend. I was going to take the day off Wednesday, but the hurricane got us behind so I really need to catch up with the civil service board. Oh, and we have the Foothills Festival Saturday and the Walker County Commission AND the civil service board will meet again Monday. Type, little man, type ....

You know those legal notices about, “I am not responsible for my debts.” I’m going to put one in that say, “I am not responsible for any crazy things I may do on the streets of Jasper after I lose my mind.” I’m getting the psychological testimony lined up as I speak.

•Back to the hurricane, which left Florida as a lion but skipped into this county like a lamb, I am not disappointed about all that was done. It was a devastating hurricane and we should just be glad it wore itself out before it got here; that has not always been the case. As I said, we finished early on Monday so workers could get home early, and then Publisher James Phillips decided in advance we would have a skeletal crew on Tuesday. In the end, we did alright, and I think other entities, such as the schools, were right to take the time off just in case, particularly due to school buses. Hopefully, everyone used the time to catch their breath.

•Community leaders also deserve a pat on the back for leaping into action Sunday to make sure evacuees were taken care of, so that those who could not get in or afford a hotel room could stay at Jasper’s First Baptist Church. There was real concern about those who might be staying in tents in campgrounds as the storms were coming. About 13 stayed at the church on Monday night as the rains came, and a number of people came for meals. It is expensive for anyone to pack up and drive several states to escape a hurricane, especially as gas prices go up as a result of the storm, so I can imagine the needs they have had. I’m very proud of all the community leaders who pitched in, as well as the leaders at First Baptist.

•For those who wondered about Walt Disney World, by the way, YouTube had some video taken by visitors the day after. Structurially, not much damage was found — a light post here, a small outer covering of a building there, amounting to hardly any structural damage at all, with all the iconic sites looking fine. Fallen trees were a little more numerous, dotting places here and there. Relatively speaking, they got by pretty well and dodged a bullet themselves. The finances might take a bigger hit, as I heard one estimate that lost revenue from closing and repairs might come to $100 million. (Thankfully, another friend of mine who lives north of Miami said they had a foot of water in the street but had no major damage to speak of.)

•The hurricane appears to have had one lasting effect that I forget always comes. I think when hurricanes blow in from the south, they also must bring dust and allergens from whatever damage they have caused. My allergies always get stirred up after these weather events, and I am already draining, coughing and looking for medications. Others have said they are also starting to have similar cold and allergy effects.

•By the way, what was Stevie Wonder thinking? You are trying to tug hearts and raise funds in a telethon for hurricane relief, and the first thing you do is say a prayer and take a stand on global warming. Don’t you realize how many people are going to turn the channel? (Actually, I watched a few minutes and tired of the celebrity thing quickly. I turned to an entertaining two-hour documentary about Martin Luther on PBS and was terribly happy.) By the way, it is not too late to make a financial donation to your favorite charity that would be in position to help Texas and Florida, as they will need much help over the coming months.

•Just so you know, I heard back from County Administrator Cheryl Ganey, who happened to be in Jasper, so we met at her office for about three hours and reviewed some of the budget materials and issues, and we are fine. (Amazingly, I appeared to be on the right track just from the earlier discussion and the questions I asked.) Ganey indicated that it has been non-stop meetings in her office in dealing with the budget. For that matter, Jerry Bishop, the chairman of the Walker County Commission, also shared a word Monday night and we, too, appear to be fine. I think officials feel they are getting closer to some solutions, although this is still far from easy to resolve.

•You might recall seeing Thomas McCarty tried to get signatures during the Aug. 15 election to run for for House District 13 (Connie Rowe’s seat) on the Alabama Constitution Party ticket. He went on Facebook the other day to say he has “no clear path to victory” that way, so he has resigned from that party and will try instead for the Republican nomination, which will be up on the June 5 primary. He said he would be at the Bama Carry booth at the Foothills Festival and speak to that group on Sept. 25.

•By the way, I do want to say thank you for all your kind comments about what we are doing at the Eagle. It means a lot to me to know I have your support. You have been very generous to me in recent weeks, and I do appreciate it. We know we have room for improvement, but we are working hard. We always welcome your suggestions.