Let's clean out the notebook ... • We are just now getting to discussing the runoff, thanks to the police situation last week. Frankly, in typing up the beat results, it seemed to go about as …
Let's clean out the notebook ...
• We are just now getting to discussing the runoff, thanks to the police situation last week. Frankly, in typing up the beat results, it seemed to go about as I would have expected considering the turnout, which was much higher than many of us began to expect.
In the sheriff's race, Nick Smith was simply able to keep his supporters excited enough to come out, actually improving in some areas. Underwood kept his stronghold in the Jasper area, but, again, he was not able to make it the blowout that it needed to be.
I think there was a sense that Underwood might be on the upswing in the last weeks, but his support was not as strong, the money was not there to buy more ads and and he seemed to get mixed response to the advertising he did put together. (Both sides got a little brutal toward the end, to tell the truth.) It was wise to get into Facebook and the like, but that needed to be done much earlier. Candidates now have to do more online these in addition to traditional advertising. (The Daily Mountain Eagle sold a number of ads to go on our Facebook page and website.)
I also think, to my surprise, the drug issue that took off this year from the report this county leads in drug deaths statewide had a major effect, and the rural areas may feel they are not getting enough attention. The budget and county finances have been a concern the whole time. And, let's face it, whether it is fair or not — and it's not — Smith looks like he's young enough to ride out and catch criminals compared to Underwood. And the Shaver vote was likely an anti-Underwood vote, once Shaver endorsed Smith.
I think all that played factors in the outcome. I will say Underwood got a respectable vote with 47 percent and I don't think he can be ashamed of that at all; it was a competitive race. Smith now faces two independents in the fall, who are already campaigning. But we are in uncharted territory for this county; I think it is uphill for independents and write-ins, but we will see.
As for the probate judge's race, it was quiet and dignified and respectful. Tucker was able to make inroads in Jasper, possibly with the endorsement of Dayron Bridges, to where he even won the Jasper Mall. He had a huge win in Sumiton, as expected, the margin of which was half of his overall margin. He had good wins in Parrish, Sipsey, Empire, Carbon Hill and so. But Tucker and Dutton genuinely were kind and considerate with each other, and I think they were a model of how these things should be done, with Dutton still capturing 47 percent of the vote. (Funny how the two big races had the same percentages.)
A number of people noted that this was not the year for negative campaigning. Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh, Troy King and Gerald Dial went negative in the end, and it backfired enormously. This goes against political convention, but that is what happened. King got a particular drubbing, at 38 percent, as he went negative against a man whose wife just died in tragic circumstances. He also claimed Steve Marshall was not a Republican, but I am sensing that voters are more forgiving for switching parties than some party officials may acknowledge. I still feel it could be an uphill battle for Democrats but they could make it more of a race. Democrats seem more excited about Walt Maddox than they have been about a gubernatorial candidate in quite a while, and he might make it closer. But I am not seeing an upset just yet.
In a race of interest to Winston County, Tracy Estes of Winfield, a long-time news editor of the Journal Record in Marion County, defeated former Guin Mayor Phil Segraves for the District 17 House of Representatives that Mike Millican is retiring from. Estes won with 3,871 (50.91 percent) to 3,732 (49.09 percent). That's 139 votes out of 7,603 votes. And, as it turned out, Estes lost his home county, 2,910 to 2,718. He had a small victory in Winston, 283 to 200, but really owed Lamar County, where he won 870 to 622.
• Our understanding from different sources is that, no, Walker County Superintendent of Education Jason Adkins has not been in talks to be superintendent of the Winfield schools. They do have a permanent school superintendent to name, as Dr. Keith Davis suddenly resigned, which has caused much concern and questions from educators over there.
• I am still in shock that Matt Lotspeich, the pastor of education and evangelism for Jasper's First Baptist Church, announced Sunday he is leaving to become a church planter in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., where the church has done other mission work recently. Matt is a great, passionate church leader with a great heart for Christ and evangelism. It will certainly be a loss for the Christian community, and he will be missed after he leaves, which I think is after late August.
• Leaving the recent night meeting of the Walker County Commission, I thought I was on the Titanic instead of in a Honda. It was the night of the big floods, and I went home by way of Airport Road in Jasper. Water gushed on both sides and I actually began to be concerned I wouldn't make it at times, even going uphill at times. It was as bad as I've seen it, and was not surprised at the creek rising at Alabama Power. (I'm told it could take a couple of months to get the place back in shape.) I was shocked about the city board of education office; I never dreamed about problems there.
• The Carbon Hill Swimming Pool will be open for free admission this Saturday, with regular hours of 1-7 p.m. at the pool. It is something of a back-to-school celebration, although the last day of the pool season will actually be on Aug. 4.
• I was able to make it to Tuesday's reception for Bevill State Community College President Kim Ennis and Matt Woods, a new member of the Alabama Community College System Board of Trustees. We had some good conversations, but I wished later I had brought up one idea I've mentioned before: We need a Bevill State alumni organization on each campus that would bring in community involvement on all the campuses, much like other high school alumni groups do, raising funds for scholarships and improvements. We have more of a head start I suppose in Jasper with the Walker College Foundation, but I don't think there is anything like a full-fledged alumni group or community support group at the campuses. I think that would create more community involvement and dialogue with officials, bringing them physically on the campus to see situations.
• I am uninformed somewhat, but I am coming to understand that cities are still dispatching in Walker County. We have a county E-911 system, so why are not they handling central dispatching for the entire county? That system works elsewhere, and that would look like that would solve some of the problems. I am still getting over the fact we have city jails in this county, when everyone could just be taken to the county jail and save municipalities the funds. (Then again, it sounds more and more we are going to have to rethink the county jail we have, which some of us thought would last for many years.)
• Sometimes you have to admit there are a lot of things we don't know about. TCM marked the 100th birthday of conductor Leonard Bernstein last weekend by airing his Young People Concerts and the "Omnibus" lectures and performances on TV from the 1950s and 1960s. I had heard about them over the years and was curious to watch. I learned so much about music in one night, especially as Bernstein was made for TV as a young conductor.
He did an entire show about why you even need a conductor for an orchestra. He started by conducting an orchestra, and then walking away to the camera while the musicians still played. "See, they don't need me," he playfully said.
Then he talked about how they actually did, how one researches scores and have to know the score for every single section of the orchestra for the whole piece, and then know the history, and then how to convey different tempos and the like. I would be so overwhelmed I wouldn't know what to do.
When lecturing young people, he was just as charming without being condescending. He had maybe three or four musicians play an passage once to prove a point and turned to the front rows in Carnegie Hall, asking the kids what was so unusual about that passage. You couldn't hear the responses, but he repeated one child's remark that only a few instruments were playing when most of the orchestra wasn't doing anything. He easily laughed at that, not bothered at all.
Fortunately, I do understand these are on DVD, and I think they would an excellent musical education for the family, especially the "Omnibus" programs.
Ed Howell is the Daily Mountain Eagle's news editor.