Sears closing sad end to an era


Let's clean out the notebook...

• I was sorry to hear the Facebook announcement (now confirmed with a store sign) that the Sears store in Jasper is closing in about a month. I left a card for the manager about a story this week but I haven't heard back. Kmart already closed, and this was the last part of Sears left in town, as the national chain is in very bad shape. I was hoping the neighborhood store would survive, but when I heard the one in Fayette had closed a while back, I thought this might happen. 

It is another setback in selection for hardware and appliances, especially as the Kenmore and Craftsman brands at Sears were quite trusted at one time. But it is also the end of the road here in the old Sears-JCPenney rivalry that went on across the nation, almost mandating both catalogs were keep at close range. Now the catalogs are gone, and you have to go to Birmingham to visit a store for either chain. It does seem strange. 

• Saturday's duties switched suddenly. I was coming to the courthouse to photograph a Memorial Day weekend service at one of the monuments at the courthouse square in Jasper, set for 10 a.m. Saturday. I got there and there was not only no one at the monument, but the whole world was milling around: Ridez For a Reason had a car show (unknown to us) with dozens of cars and many people all across the square, with streets blocked. I started shooting cars instead of veterans, but it worked. 

• After interviewing David Dixon at the Sixth Avenue Church of Christ this week, I photographed him in the sanctuary. I was struck that for a church built in the late 1950s or so how well it had been maintained; even the tile floor was in marvelous shape. Architecturally, it really is a clean, textbook style of what would be considered a traditional church with some 1950s modern touches. They should be very proud of how that facility has been kept up. 

• I’ve been doing elections for a long time and it beats me how to even untangle some of the heated exchanges for Tuesday's party primaries. (Yes, you have to pick a party - but the local races are on the GOP ballot.) For example, we have two superintendent candidates who give completely different accounts of school finances. I know how complicated education budgets are, and reviewing their online material last night, I'm still lost; they both cite sources to say how good or bad it is. But no doubt the debt and the finances are the key issue, coupled with character of the candidates and how one sees whether we have improved in facilities and academics. 

Oh, and we have a new joker in the deck: Tanya Guin, the arch nemesis of Superintendent of Education Jason Adkins, is waiting on the November ballot now as a newly minted independent candidate. If Adkins is the Republican nominee who runs against Guin, whom he attempted to  fire from her principal position, then odds are we could have a battle that makes the trench warfare of World War I look like an Oxford debate club. 

The sheriff's race between Jim Underwood, Nick Smith and Steven Shaver is also the other battle to watch Tuesday as character, budgets and drugs will likely be the determining factor. It is too close to call and will likely result in a runoff. Underwood and Smith have clearly fired volleys at each other. Shaver has been the most quiet, but some are impressed with his resume; those qualities could pose an upset.

Underwood and Smith have pushed their resumes hard, but the budgets and lawsuits involving the sheriff have been a big topic. Smith has pushed a platform on Facebook, but his comments on Facebook and his resume in small towns (not the county) have worked both ways, much as the sheriff's actions on the budgets and his statements after the jail break. Smith has done extremely well on steady fundraising and is sitting on more cash at the last minute. And good weather could bring out older voters for Underwood, considered a strength. And again, Shaver could benefit from voters retreating from both. So your guess is as good as mine, as I suspect it will come down to who do you trust. 

• By the way, the election is Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. As you are reading my column Thursday morning, I am expecting losing candidates to start pulling up signs. All of them. You can wait until Thursday--heck, I'll let you wait until the weekend. But some of us will be hot if we see the same losing name repeatedly by Monday, June 11. 

• Our Facebook gave us some problems at the political forum this week, but we are hoping to try to stream some election results Tuesday night from the Jasper Civic Center. I am finding individual beat results may not be announced as soon as they come in (although that is normal in other counties), so I would welcome anyone at the polls to share on our Facebook some numbers or even photos of local results posted on the polling place that night; we will share the results on the streaming broadcast then. (Note: ALL results, even from the probate judge, are unofficial for a week until provisionals are added.) 

• I had the enjoyment of writing a long feature on Buddy Thorne for our Senior Living section, which is coming out next week. There was a bunch of material that I had to cut for space, which was a shame. 

Thorne, a retired dentist in Jasper, noted one thing that people don't give enough attention to is brushing. He  said people don't brush their teeth, which is a primary responsibility. 

"You should brush after every meal. If you can't brush, you can rinse vigorously and spit it out," he said, adding people should also brush after breakfast.

"The most important time to brush is at night. At night your mouth is closed," he said, saying the mouth is like an incubator with bacteria "thriving" at that time. That, in turn, creates acid that eats away at the tooth, resulting in cavities. He also warned against artificial sweeteners in soft drinks, as they are more acidic than sugar drinks.

He  also noted he is about a plain spoken as one can get, something that he is known for. 

"I'm outspoken," he said. "I should shut up sometimes. Rusty Richardson in Bernard's might be the nicest guy who ever lived. I told my son today that I wish I had a little bit of what Rusty Richardson had. I don't want all of it, but I would love to have just a little bit of it. 

"My son said, "Dad, you can forget it. You won't ever get it." 

He laughed and added he doesn't worry about it because as long as his family and friends respects him, he doesn't care what anyone thinks.

"I'm going to tell them the truth," he said. "I was bad about talking to my patients about being overweight. I'm saying, 'If I didn't' love you, I wouldn't tell you this.' That's what I tell people. They say, 'Well, that's not kind.' I say, "I'm not kind. I'm factual.' If I don't care about people, then I just kind of stay away from them. I'm cordial. But I don't offer any advice that I don't know or care about. But people I love, if I see a flaw — I would want them to point it out to me."