Let's clean out the notebook ...
• There is no question the Airport Road road project has ramped up in activity in the past week or so, as now crews are working at night and traffic has to be stopped and started even then. I know the project was supposed to be completed by year's end, so I assume they are ramping up, probably making up for rainy days.
But it is sight to behold. I tried to go up Walston Bridge Road and back west the other day, as that is the go-to detour for many of us. But the traffic was so I thought I would never get back onto Airport Road. Hopefully, it won't be much longer, and overall, I think it will be still be worth it overall.
One neighbor expressed surprise the road wasn't made bigger in the process. I think I have been a little surprised at that impression - but then again the work is not completed, and I have so say the curb work and the work at the Airport Road-Highway 118 intersection looks pretty good. The main test will be in how traffic flows around the intersection, and to businesses and apartments on Airport Road.
• Because of Kiwanis Club rules, Secretary of State John Merrill didn't get to campaign for the Senate seat during his Jasper visit (much like Tommy Tuberville didn't get to campaign at the East Walker Chamber of Commerce keynote speech). However, Merrill has been here about three times I think, and I have offered an invitation for him to do one of our YouTube interviews like Sen. Doug Jones and Tuberville has done. (Other candidates in that race are welcome to come by and do as much.)
• John Mark Dutton's withdrawal from the Republican primary to make his District 1 commission race independent shows some candidates still get irritated that the Walker County Republican Party has a screening process. What is a Republican and how much you can stray with certain support is a sticking point with the party, and they want top-to-bottom consistent support, at least over a certain period. I take it they would also screen out bad behavior, if necessary. It is a different approach than in some Alabama counties I've seen, but it does take us back to party discipline, something that is harder to find these days. Sometimes I wonder if the political parties were better in the days of top-down discipline and control.
But Dutton, presuming he will get the signatures, will get to have his independent candidacy. Independents didn't do well in Walker County last time, but they have been elected elsewhere. As strong as the Republican brand is in Alabama and Walker County right now, and with Trump at the top of the ticket, it may be a challenge, although the fact it is a local race could negate that. It could be interesting to watch.
• With Christmas being blared at all corners, I finally gave up and sent out a major wave of Christmas cards out of county. Some of the Hallmark cards I had, purchased before the local store went out of business, had some tassels on them. A clerk at the Jasper Post Office noted that the cord created a bulge at the bottom of the envelope that can sometimes be a problem for the sorting machine, so you might want to make a note of that. She suggested to next time make sure a tassel on a greeting card is placed at the top of the envelope.
By the way, you might be interested to know that the post office is still selling special stamps, at a slightly higher price, that benefits Alzheimers research. It is interesting the post offices also sell greeting cards, holiday envelopes, gift cards - a lot of things that make it easier to send cards and gifts these days as a one-stop alternative.
• Please make note that next Tuesday the Daily Mountain Eagle will be a little preoccupied during the lunch hour, as we will be holding a Thanksgiving lunch for our employees at that time. We should be back to normal shortly after 1 p.m.
• I was going through candidate lists for other counties in the area and was a little surprised to see that state Rep. Kyle South is the Republican chairman for Fayette County. You rarely seem to find legislators being the party chairman of a county. For that matter, the qualifying story shared to me by Dean Maddox at the Times-Daily in Fayette revealed Fayette County Commissioner John Underwood is also the Democratic chairman.
• If you really want to see how tough it is for Democrats in Alabama, note that I looked at several surrounding counties. Outside of Jefferson County, I think I found two local Democrats in Fayette County - Underwood and another commissioner, Billy Joe Rodgers, and there is Seth L. Diamond in Walker County, who is running as a Democrat for district judge. For the major local races, that is it. Marion, Winston and Cullman didn't have a Democrat in a major local race at all.
• By the way, the other day I noticed the original Nov. 9 story we had on the end of qualifying was not posted to the Daily Mountain Eagle website. (I had my hands full at the time and never double checked that weekend.) If you want to see the original story, which also listed the constables running, you can do a search on mountaineagle.com or go to our online link here for "Guthrie, Burrough draw no opposition."
• I couldn't help myself the other day. They only put out the apple pecan streusel pies in Cracker Barrel's store area during the holidays, and I bought one to share with Dad. I said I wasn't going to overindulge for the holidays, but for two or three pieces, with some vanilla ice cream, it was great. (I had less luck by delaying to get tickets to Chris Tomlin's holiday set in Birmingham. He always has a great holiday event, so I'm sorry I waited until it was sold out.)
• It has been sad enough watching the financial discussion around Carbon Hill, but I think officials are really taking the financial auditing seriously. I don't know where it will lead, but I get the impression they mean to straighten this situation out.
• It looks like I will be covering the monthly council meetings in Parrish, by the way. I will still be covering Walker County Commission and Carbon Hill City Council.
• Relevant Magazine had a story on the Chick-fil-A decision this week to not donate money anymore to the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, donations which have angered LGBT activists. Mike Huckabee called it a "betrayal," conservative commentator Ben Shapiro said the company "caved at the behest of the censorious left," and another conservative commentator, Rod Dreher, said the company was guilty of "nothing less but gutless surrender."
But the company says faith-based charities are not being excluded from donations. The magazine noted the president of Chick-fil-A told Bisnow that multi-year donation contracts with the two groups expired this year, and that they were free to donate to others for the first time in years.
Now the company wants to restructure, focusing more on local nonprofits in individual communities. Next year it will start donating $9 million to Junior Achievement USA, which supports local education and Covenant House International, to combat homelessness. It will also donate $25,000 to a local food bank every time it opens a new location. But charitable giving will be reviewed annually and faith-based groups will be considered. Relevant wrote that "cries of betrayal seem a bit unfounded."