The News Courier
— The News Courier encourages letters to the editor. Submissions should be no more than 400 words and should include a name, address and telephone number for verification. Submissions that do not meet requirements are subject to editing. Send letters by noon on Thursdays to P.O. Box 670, Athens, AL, 35613, or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tune in for ‘Dust Bowl’
In the 1930s, a manmade ecological disaster of epic proportions swept the American Midwest and threatened to destroy the nation’s breadbasket. The Dust Bowl, as it became known, turned prairies into deserts and unleashed a pattern of massive, deadly dust storms that for many seemed to herald the end of the world.
The story of this national calamity is captured in famed filmmaker Ken Burns’ newest documentary, “The Dust Bowl,” premiering Sunday, Nov. 18 and Monday, Nov.19 at 7 p.m. on Alabama Public Television.
Although the storms of the Dust Bowl did not reach Alabama, the measures taken to prevent future tragedies had a major impact on Alabama agriculture. That’s why people throughout the state should tune in to see the two-night, four-hour film.
According to Dr. Carol Knight, president of the Alabama Association of Conservation Districts, “The Dust Bowl will show us the damage caused by the lack of conservation practices and encourage our society to make conservation of our natural resources a priority.”
The AACD is made up of supervisors from the 67 soil and water conservation districts in Alabama that assist farmers and landowners throughout the state.
“The Dust Bowl” is also an example of great storytelling. Twenty-six survivors of those hard times provide gripping accounts of giant dust storms that blackened the sky, destroyed crops, tore apart homes and killed people and livestock. Many lost parents and siblings as a result of the storms or from the lung infections caused by breathing in too much dust. Against enormous odds, their families found ways to survive and hold on to their land.
I hope you will share information about “The Dust Bowl” with your readers prior to the Nov. 18-19 broadcasts.
Brent Shaw, chairman
Limestone Co. Soil and Water Conservation District
Numerous Athens-Limestone residents, including myself, attended the last city of Athens council work session to oppose the new city sales tax increase. Before, we were allowed to speak and voice our concerns, each and every councilman and councilwoman preceded to explain why they were voting “yes” to the proposed tax increase. The council had the audacity to sit on their thrones and gleefully attempt to justify their positions.
When the time came for the residents to speak, each resident voiced genuine concerns in opposition to the tax increase. Of course, we all wasted time and energy to even attend the meeting. The council had already made their decisions to increase our taxes before we walked in the door.
I sat and listened as concerned residents requested the council reconsider their “yes” vote. Each resident spoke from the heart as they pleaded their case to stop the tax increase.
By the time I walked up to address the council, I was fuming with frustration and anger. I had listened to the other residents and watched the faces of council and knew that all words of opposition were falling on deaf ears. The council could care less about harming residents who are already financially strapped. The tax increase was a done deal.
As I finished my emotional address to the council, Council President Jimmy Gill, mumbled, “Thanks for the entertainment, Ms King.” Well, it might have been entertainment for Mr. Gill, but I found nothing entertaining about being insulted and treated with total disrespect. Myself, and others found his remark unprofessional and disrespectful.
When, we attended the following Monday meeting of the City Council, Tony Lewellyn and I requested a public apology from Councilman Gill. All who attended the meeting know, our request was met with silence and no chance of an apology.
All too often residents who attend and speak against the big spending agenda of the Athens City Council are met with intimidating and disrespectful treatment from the council.
Well, Councilman Gill, the following is our second request for an apology to the residents and myself, for your disrespectful and unprofessional comment. Your arrogant remark was made in the public eye and we expect a written, public apology. We’re waiting and won’t go away.
Stand up to
The conduct of our mayor and prior City Council, in critical financial matters, was less than open in dealing with their constituents. The sales tax increase should be canceled or repealed and review in-depth, publicly, the why, where, what and how it is to be implemented.
How do they plan to justifiably allocate this $4,400,000 revenue with only 45 days until it takes effect? Does the mayor only want to throw dollars at his favorite current special interest in complete disregard of what the true needs are and what the future may hold for Athens?
The mayor plans to give a detailed presentation about taxes at Tuesday’s council meeting. The need for a tax increase may be justified, but the locked-in specifics of how it will be allocated is ludicrous. Sections 5 (a) and (b), of the ordinance, are especially bad for the citizens:
“5(a) The proceeds from the tax levied by this Ordinance remaining after payment of the costs of collecting said tax, including all charges of the administration for such collection and paid over to and received by the city shall be distributed as follows.” It shows fixed percentages of allocation that leaves no leeway for the new current and future city councils to use their judgment, at the time, how to allocate the funds.
“5(b) The funds allocated in and directed to the special accounts set forth in subsection 5(a) of this Section 5 shall remain in such accounts indefinitely, until the same are appropriated and expended in lawful manner at the discretion of the city council, subject to subsection (a) of this section 5.”
The citizens must write letters to the editor, participate in City Council meetings and business meetings that affect the use of citizen’s taxes. Make your disagreements and demands for financial transparency, by city government, a major issue to overcome the effect of the special interests.
Our real hope is our three new council members, which are really Athens’ future. Hopefully, they won’t be swayed by flawed promises and lack of data to back up supporting misguided proposed activities. Our citizens must determine to override the false promises of the special interests that do not have our family’s best financial interests at heart.
Spend less, streamline job functions without special salaries and demand more agencies and organizations become self-supporting. Handouts are going to have to dry up for them.
Quentin D. Anderson Sr.
I want to thank everyone for their support during the campaign. I appreciate your trust in me and want to assure the citizens of District 4 that I will continue to go to bat for you and maintain an open-door policy.
Meeting many of you personally was a pleasure, and I look forward to serving all of you over the next four years. Please contact me with any questions or concerns.
Thanks to all who allowed me to put signs on their property; I greatly appreciate it. We put a major dent in gathering them up on Wednesday, but I know that we may have missed a few. If you have a sign or know of a sign still out there, you can call me at 256-233-3426, or comment on my personal Facebook page with the location and we will pick it up.
If you have already removed your sign and do not want it, please let me know and we will come and get it.
I’m looking forward to great four years.
I Tim 2:1-2
The power of the press
Thirty years ago in November 1982, the parade honoring Vietnam veterans in our nation’s capital was almost led by the state of Alaska if not for an Associated Press article reporting there would be no official state delegation from Alabama attending the weeklong welcome home and salute to Vietnam Veterans that ended with the dedication of the “The Wall” memorial on Nov. 13.
Newspapers and radio and television news picked up the story, and with donations of cash, airplane and bus tickets, an RV, personal vehicles, out-of-pocket expenses, and even a chartered bus, more than 100 vets from all across Alabama led the parade on Nov. 13, 1982, and marched proudly behind the color guard, Gen. William C. Westmoreland, and Medal of Honor recipient Col. Robert L. Howard. They also participated in events on Capitol Hill, the reading of the names of the fallen heroes at the National Cathedral, and paid their respects at the Gold Star Mothers and Wives reception.
In Huntsville, the 1982 Veterans Day Parade on Nov. 11 was dedicated to Vietnam veterans and the local chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America acted as the grand marshal.
In November 1992, an article in the then-Huntsville News by Budd McLaughlin reported “No parade for veterans” would be held in the city or Madison County. In two days, again with extensive news coverage by the Huntsville Times and other news outlets, a grass-roots effort resulted in the announcement a parade would be held to honor veterans if it was only “one man and a flag.”
Instead, local businesses, citizens, civic and fraternal groups, and veterans from all across North Alabama and even Tennessee, Georgia, and Mississippi banded together and a parade “of veterans and for veterans” made its way through downtown Huntsville on Nov. 11.
Both events most likely would not have had the same result without “The Power of the Press.”