April 1990: Honda dealership hosts wedding; ducks crossing road cause problems


When Mr. and Mrs. Jeff Kelley were united in holy matrimony in April 1990, the witnesses included a Honda Accord and a Prelude Si.

Both the groom and the minister, Dean Lanton, were salesmen at Jim Burke Honda, where the ceremony took place on April 13. Boss Jim Burke took charge of decorations and providing favors at the reception.

The couple had debated between a big wedding or going to Florida but ultimately decided on something a little more unique. 

“It started out kidding. I said, ‘We’ll just do it when you get the license and not go through all that stuff,” Lanton said. 

Lanton had previously officiated at a ceremony held on a boat on Lake Eufala and a garden wedding held in November.

Several local TV stations were present when Jeff Kelley and Andrea West exchanged vows in the showroom of the dealership. While the bride had no qualms about televising the moment, the mothers of both bride and groom had reservations.

“She said, ‘This is unbelievable,’” Kelley said of his mother. “She just said, ‘You’re kidding,’” West said of hers.

The Kelley-West wedding was one of the lighthearted articles I found while looking for something to amuse myself and our readers this week. A few pages before I got to their story, I stopped at a photo of a duck crossing the road near Memorial Park.

“Several explanations adrift as to why ducks have hit the streets,” the headline read.

According to the article, at least seven ducks had been killed by cars in the previous two weeks, and at least one or two were standing by the road at all times. 

Councilman Lee Swann speculated that the lake was overpopulated and that the walking track at the park had taken up their nesting spots. He also wondered if the high water level was preventing them from crossing under the road through a large drain that ran under Sixth Street.

“Maybe they could catch some of them and relocate them. I think maybe the county lake would take some of them,” Swann said.

Jeanie Cain-McDow, the director of the Walker County Humane Society, told the Daily Mountain Eagle that relocating the ducks wouldn’t work because they would find a way to return.

She suggested that the lights at the park were confusing the ducks.

“Those ducks are territorial. They start nesting at about dusk but they’re not going to roost with all those lights and people walking around. They’re pitiful. They’re upset because they’re awake all night and they fight all day. We need to turn the lights off at a decent hour because they’re taking away their home,” Cain-McDow said.

Tommy Knight, the director of Jasper Park and Recreation, said residents had requested the lights be left on so they could walk early in the morning. He urged motorists to slow down while driving in Sixth Street and said the city was also looking at the possibility of putting nesting areas away from the light.

Finally, I came across the story of a life-sized crucifix carved out of white pine by Antonio Castillo of Peru and placed on land owned by Jasper’s Chuck Lawson.

Castillo had worked on the wood sculpture for two months. Once it was completed, it was placed on a 20-foot cross and installed on a plateau that overlooked Lawson’s land on Sleepy Holler campground. Two smaller crosses were placed on each side.

A sunrise Easter service was planned for that week at the cross.

Castillo, who was in the country on a medical visa, was hopeful that Lawson would be able to secure him a work visa so that he and his wife would not have to return to Peru for at least three years.

“Castillo was severely injured when he fell from the old Champion lumber building in Walker County that he and four friends were sent from Peru to demolish. He was living in a camper with the other South Americans at Lawson’s camper park, but the others were forced to return to Peru. Lawson took care of him during his recovery,” the Eagle reported. 

Lawson’s ultimate dream was to build housing for seniors and youth as well as a log church on his land.