Editorial

Inside the Statehouse: Alabama’s Big 10 Mayors

Students of Alabama political history will rightly remember the 2022 midterm election. This election saw the majority of Alabama voters cast their ballots for Katie Britt, who will be the first woman elected to represent Alabama in the U.S. Senate. Governor Kay Ivey easily coasted to victory to gain her second full term in office, continuing her reign as the first Republican woman to serve as governor. Republicans from the top of the ballot on down cemented their control of the state government by huge margins.

A little more about Ernest Ray Riley

Editor’s note: This letter is in reference to the Ernest Riley story the Journal Record featured in the Nov. 9, edition.
In the summer of 1941, our family sharecropped on Papa Burleson’s farm in Marion County, AL, about halfway between Guin and Winfield. Wymon Burleson, my father, had a younger brother, James Dalton, living and working in Winfield.

Back through the years in Marion County...

This photo was made in Brilliant in April 1944. The brick building is a general merchandise store and was constructed about 1918 by D.T. Cochran. Behind the horse is the west side of the Dickinson General Store. The horse and buggy, owned by John Leonard, delivered the Birmingham Post newspaper to town residents in the late afternoons. Guest riders this afternoon were Clair Hipp and Doris Dickinson. Photo submitted by Jim Dickinson.

Why does Marion County not have a leash law?

I was severely bitten by a dog in September and had to go to the hospital twice. The people who own this dog have it both on a leash and enclosed in a fence at this time.
However, I am now being chased on my daily walk by two more dogs. I have emptied two canisters of spray and have gotten no response from the owner of the worst of these.
Why isn’t there a leash law in Marion County? I called the sheriff’s department and was informed there is none.

Inside the Statehouse: Jo Bonner inaugurated as president of USA

Jo Bonner was officially sworn in as the fourth president of the University of South Alabama on Sept. 23, 2022.
The University of South Alabama is the crown jewel and flagship of the Alabama Gulf Coast. It is a sprawling, manicured, beautiful and functional modern campus. It is currently the third largest university in the state. Under the leadership of Bonner, it will grow and prosper to where within the next decade it will be thought of as one of our premier “Big Three” major flagship universities along with the University of Alabama and Auburn University.

‘Thanks at Thanksgiving’ told by Winfield fifth grader in 1962

Mrs. Bythel Earnest, who has be substituting for Mr. Grady Dillard, who has been ill for six weeks, asked the fifth graders of Winfield City Schools to write what they are thankful for. She was so impressed by the paper turned in by Janie Lindsey that she brought, as it is written, to the Daily Northwest Alabamian for publication.

By Janie Ellen
Lindsey

Marion County foster families needed

Dear Editor:
It is time to come together on behalf of over 400,000 American children and youth who are in foster care because their families are in crisis, and they cannot currently provide safe, nurturing home environments. Approximately 5,700 of these children are in Alabama’s foster care system, and 34 of them are right here in Marion County. These children need safe, stable and loving homes where they can stay until they can safely reunite with their biological parents or establish other lifelong family relationships.

Back through the years in Marion County...

Submitted by Dan Wiginton, this photo shows the Wiginton School in 1914. Shown, front row from left, are Almon Miller, Ernest Evans, Ray Cantrell, Elman Miller, Elvis Barnwell and Marvin Cantrell. Second row, Ethel (Pig) Cantrell, Mona Belle Cantrell, Maggie Frederick, Ethel Miller, Theola Scott, Myrtle Bottoms, Iva Lee Scott, Orela Scott, Lou Bertha, Geneva Fleming, Fannie Barnwell, Victoria Fleming and Verdell Partain.

Inside the Statehouse: Election year observations

This 2022 Election Year in Alabama has been monumental and memorable. Any gubernatorial year is big in the state. It is the brass ring of Alabama politics to be governor. However, the race to succeed our Senior Senator Richard Shelby has been the marquee contest. This year will be the last hurrah for our two leading political figures in the state.
Senator Richard Shelby is retiring after 36 years in the U.S. Senate at age 88. Governor Kay Ivey will be elected to her final term as governor at 78.

Senator Tuberville: The importance of career and technical education

For high school students, choosing a career path can be a difficult decision. They weigh many factors, such as personal interests, the rising cost of higher education, earning potential and accessibility of job opportunities. And in recent years, the challenging economy and job market has left many students uncertain about taking their next steps. A 2019 survey found that only about half of our high school students feel prepared for the workforce.

Back through the years in Marion County...

The teacher in this photo of Buttahatchee School students in 1944 is Pearl Holcombe. The school was located at the intersection of what is now Chalk Mine Road and State Highway 253, on the south side of the highway from the Buttahatchee Cemetery, which is all that is left of this long ago thriving place.
It was more than just a school. Vaccinations, adult education classes and Extension classes, among other events were held here.

Inside the Statehouse: The General Election is upon us

Believe it or not, our 2022 General Election is upon us, Nov. 8 to be exact. It seems to be going under the radar screen of most Alabama voters. There will be a record breaking low voter turnout because there are really no contested statewide races. Why? Because we are a one party state when it comes to state offices. All 21 of our state elective offices are held by Republicans. The Democratic party does not field serious candidates because it is a foregone conclusion that a Democrat cannot win elective statewide races in the Heart of Dixie. The best they can hope for is 40 percent.

Michael Brooks’ Reflections: Facing a firing squad

He was a young pastor neither immoral nor heretical, but simply naïve and unskilled in human relations. He could conjugate Greek verbs but didn’t know how to take time to earn the trust of the congregation before he could lead them. Additionally, he listened to some famous pulpiteers who taught pastors are vice-regents under God and “overseers” in a very real sense. One of these pastors called himself a “benevolent dictator.”
An older minister, sensing a collision about to happen, counseled humility.

Congressional delegation to be elected in November

Our Alabama Congressional delegation will all be reelected next month, as usual. We are no different than any other state when it comes to the incumbency advantage of being a congressperson. When someone is elected to the U.S. Congress, they are usually there for life unless they run for higher office. They probably would not be defeated unless they killed someone and that probably would not be enough. It would probably depend on who they killed.

Back through the years in Marion County...

In the early days, mail was delivered by any means possible, including horses, dog sleds, steamboats, trains and automobiles. This photo shows a rural mail carrier in Guin using a horse as locomotion.
The Guin Post Office was originally established as Caudle on April 24, 1883. It was changed to Guin on March 31, 1888.
The nearest post office when the name changed in 1888, was Pikeville, the oldest post office within Marion County.

Back through the years in Marion County...

Made and contributed by Bill Weaver, this shot of downtown Hamilton at night was taken about 1968 on Military Street North at the main intersection.
The courthouse is on the left, and the Marion County Bank Company building is in the center. This is now Wells Fargo. The Lion’s service station (a 24 hour service store according to the sign out front) across U.S. Highway 278 can be seen. A telephone booth is on the corner on the south side of 278.

Inside the Statehouse: National trends do not affect Alabama

As mentioned last week, all polling points to a significant Republican pickup of congressional seats in the upcoming November General Election. It is a historical fact that the party that loses the White House in a presidential year, picks up congressional seats in the following midterm elections. Furthermore, Democrats are in disfavor because of runaway inflation. Voters blame Biden and the Democratic Congress for the inflated price of gas, groceries and everything else. Americans vote their pocketbook. It’s the economy that counts, is what they say.

Do you remember playing washers?

By P.J. Gossett
General Manager
HAMILTON — “When I was in school, we played washers.” This statement I overheard in Hamilton a couple of weeks ago brought back my own childhood memories of playing the game in our front yard. It made me think about the history of the game, if it is still played today and if the younger generation knew what it was.
A quick search revealed not only is it known today, but there are actually “official” boards one can buy to play the game. There are official rules, though they are nothing like what I played in the mid-1980s.

Inside the Statehouse: GOP poised for Congressional gains

For over 100 years, political history has revealed without deviation that when a Democrat wins the presidency in a presidential year, that in the following mid-term congressional elections two years later that Republicans make gains in the U.S. House of Representatives. That truism has become more pronounced in the last few decades.
This history will be repeated in the upcoming Nov. 8, general election. Every indication and polling suggest that the GOP gains in this year’s general election will be significant.

Many still miss John Denver after 25 years

It was 25 years ago today when the world was shocked by the plane crash and death of 1970s star John Denver. On Oct. 12, 1997, his experimental plane crashed into Monterey Bay in California.
The most people usually hear on the radio these days are just three of his songs: “Annie’s Song,” “Take Me Home, Country Roads” and “Rocky Mountain High.” There was much more to the man, and he was on many committees such as conservation and hunger. He was a pilot, father, son, actor and his songs still stand up in today’s time as much as they did when he wrote them.

Kirkpatrick responds to letter from Hamm

The Journal Record published an article that was submitted to them by Joe Hamm from Hamilton. However, his name was not on the article as required by the JR. I am told that it was an oversight, and I have no reason to believe otherwise. Mr Hamm’s opinion of me and his interpretation of my article is totally false. He is certainly entitled to his opinion, but that is what it is: his opinion. Nothing he said was based on facts.  

Back through the years in Marion County...

Pictured in 1915 is the Wright Motor Company, a Ford dealer, in Guin. It was opened in 1913, and closed in 1933. President of the company was Robert Raymond Wright Sr., a native of Calhoun County, Ala., who also remembered selling his Model T in 1913 to Ivy Thompson, mail carrier of the Star Route from Guin to Hamilton. According to Wright, the title of the owner of the first car in Guin was Gus Hallmark, who purchased one in Birmingham one month before Wright opened his business.

Senator Tuberville: Foreign investors own millions of U.S. acres

Harvest season
is here, and farmers across the state are looking forward to reaping the rewards of their labor. They will spend many early mornings and late nights in the fields harvesting crops to be enjoyed across the country and the world. We could not survive without their work. That’s why protecting their ability to produce is one of my top priorities in the U.S. Senate.

Back through the years in Marion County...

This row of buildings today in Hamilton are on First Avenue Southwest on courthouse square. Today, they are the Town Square Jewelers, office buildings and also the House of Plenty.
In the late 1940s when this photo was taken, the buildings included City Market, Fred King’s store (displaying a Peters Shoes sign over the main entrance) and the farm bureau (displaying a Wayne Feeds sign over their entrance).

Inside the Statehouse: Alabama school board members

School board members are some of the most selfless public servants in Alabama. This accolade goes to the Alabama State Board of Education, and more specifically, local school board members. These members are tasked with a very important mission but receive very little compensation for their time and efforts. They are indeed public servants.

Back through the years in Marion County...

Currently, this is known as the Blue Moon Drive-In Theater located in Gu-Win between Winfield and Guin. This picture was snapped in 1980, and filed with the Library of Congress in the John Margolies Roadside America photograph archive (1972 - 2008).
The original name of the business at the time this photo was taken was Gu-Win Drive-In Theater. It was opened in the 1950s by George G. Thornton, who passed away on June 5, 1963. It was shut down in the mid-1980s, reopening later as Blue Moon.
Thornton was the first mayor of Gu-Win, when it was incorporated in 1958.

Inside the Statehouse: The decibel level story

Those of us who served a long time in the legislature have a lot of stories. I served 16 years from 1982 to 1998 from my home county of Pike. I chose not to run again in 1998. However, I missed the camaraderie and friendships of other legislators who became lifelong friends.
It was apparent that those of us who hailed from smaller towns and rural counties knew our constituents better and were better known by our constituents than those from urban areas.

Who is opressing Alabama women?

It appears to me that Lynda Kirkpatrick is using her leadership positions within the Democratic party as a platform to promote feminism. In her recent editorial entitled “It doesn’t matter which political party women belong to in Alabama,” Kirkpatrick, the chair of the Marion County Democratic Party, accused both Alabama Democrats and Republicans of oppressing women. In her letter, she claimed that all women “are being discriminated against, regardless of political party. All you have to be is a woman.

Response to Collins’ fall festival letter

In response to the letter to the editor by Danny Collins about the Halloween carnivals and fall festivals, I would like to attempt to present another way of looking at your view about the two. First, I do remember going to Halloween carnivals, and I have screamed my way through my share of “haunted houses.” The carnivals that I remember and festivals that we have today are not much different from the ones that I remember. We played games, passed out candy, etc. Haunted houses do not appeal to me anymore, but if I wanted to go to one; I could find one close by.

Inside the Statehouse: Buck’s Pocket is a real place

For decades, losing political candidates in Alabama have been exiled to “Buck’s Pocket.” It is uncertain when or how the colloquialism began, but political insiders have used this terminology for at least 60 years. Alabama author, the late Winston Groom, wrote a colorful allegorical novel about Alabama politics in the 1960s and referred to a defeated gubernatorial candidate having to go to Buck’s Pocket. Most observers credit Big Jim Folsom with creating the term.

It doesn’t matter which political party women belong to in Alabama

There is a special kind of betrayal, a cleaver-sized knife in the back, for the women of Alabama who thought maybe, finally, with a female governor we would get somewhere. The insulting remarks that we have heard from Trump about grabbing women by the genitalia and Roy Moore’s allegation of sexual assault fell on the deaf ears of women in Alabama who in spite of being personally insulted, voted for both of them. Our own governor supported both of these men and failed to stand in support of her own gender against the vulgar and disgusting display of degradation of women everywhere.  

Back through the years in Marion County...

This photo was taken on March 3, 1936, and is of a drug store of the time called apothecary. It was located on what is today known as County Road 13 in Bexar on the western end of Marion County.
Noticeable in the photo are the stove pipe coming out the front window, the wooden doorsteps, the rock foundation, the piece of pottery in the other window and the detailed woodwork on the building. Also barely seen is what looks to be a clothesline running from the tree to another building on the left.

Inside the Statehouse: Alabama is a big front porch

This is the final version of a three week series of stories that illustrate that Alabama is a “big front porch.”
James E. “Big Jim” Folsom was one of our few two-term governors. In the old days, governors could not succeed themselves. Therefore, Big Jim was first governor in 1946-1950. He waited out four years and came back and won a second term in 1954, and stayed through 1958.

When did Halloween carnivals become fall festivals?

I'd like to talk about the Halloween carnival Winfield doesn't have.
I have been gone from Winfield many years now, but I still keep my finger on the pulse here. Back in the 60s and 70s, we always had a Halloween carnival at the armory with cake walks and a haunted house, which was put on by the high school science club. A "box" was borrowed from Miles Funeral Home, and I laid in that coffin myself and would rise up with fake blood flowing from my eyes and scare the bejesus out of whoever walked in.

Michael Brooks’ Reflections: On second chances

It was a fearful time in 2006 when a number of rural churches were burned in Alabama. I remember a deacon's meeting in which we discussed whether we ought to take night shifts at our church to protect our property. One of our deacons dismissed the idea: "We'd probably end up shooting each other," he growled.
A short time later three college students were arrested. The FBI tracked them down, quite literally, by their tire tracks. That tire treads can be as effective as fingerprints or DNA is still amazing to me. All of us who belonged to rural churches breathed a sigh of relief.

Inside the Statehouse: Incumbency prevails in secondary constitutional offices

Incumbency is a potent, powerful, inherent advantage in politics. That fact is playing out to the nines in this year’s Alabama secondary constitutional and down ballot races.
Several of the constitutional office incumbents do not have Republican or Democratic opposition. Of course, having a Democratic opponent is the same as not having an opponent in a statewide race in Alabama. A Democrat cannot win in a statewide contest in the Heart of Dixie.  

A two-party system will strengthen democracy and solve nation’s problems

Dear Editor,
After voting many years for a person, not a political party, I believe a two-party is essential for a democracy to function.
The three sections of our government, the legislative, the executive and the judicial, were set up so each could over see the work of the other two. The political parties in Congress should function the same way.

What happened to our neighborly visits?

By Peter J. Gossett
General Manager/Editor
“Come on son, let’s go,” were words I remember my grandmother telling me during the summers of my youth. They were dreaded words which usually meant we were going to visit someone, such as a relative or some of our neighbors. As a kid, going to visit someone meant a boring sit, where my grandmother could see me, and while listening to their conversations, usually settled along times gone by.

Inside the Statehouse: The 2022 senate race will be most expensive in state history

The marquee race in this big 2022 election year is for our open U.S. Senate seat.  It is beginning to percolate.
The race has been raging for over a year already, and we are getting poised to begin the final full court press to the finish line. The GOP Primary is three months away on May 24, with a monumental runoff on June 21. The winner on that day will be Shelby’s successor.