Let's clean out the notebook...
• Walker County Commission Chairman Jerry Bishop noted after Tuesday's emergency meeting that the security expert hired about a year ago to consult on courthouse security has died.
Daniel "Danny" Stevens Boyd, 62, of Hoover, died on Thursday, April 23, according to an online obituary from Southern Heritage Funeral Home in Pelham. He was the owner of Southeast Alarm, Inc., and a member of Riverchase United Methodist Church.
It was something of a shock to Bishop; one of my stories last year noted early on how Boyd had impressed Bishop. Boyd made an early tour of the local complex and advised what computer server to get for the card system.
However, much planning and work had been done, and you will recall Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed, R-Jasper, obtained two $100,000 grants for courthouse security. Bishop thinks subcontractors will now be able to carry out the plans, including doors and an lift at the front entrance.
• This week Walker County had its 100th confirmed case, and yet, while we are between two counties which have reported fatalities along the interstate, we've amazingly had no deaths in the county.
• Sheriff Nick Smith announced earlier this week he is resuming in-person meetings with citizens in the county. Smith said he will make himself available Monday through Friday from 9-11 a.m., schedule permitting. One may call Clerk Rhonda Guthrie at 205-302-6464 for an appointment.
• The Alabama Department of Revenue has announced an extension of time for obtaining March, April, and May 2020 motor vehicle registrations. The registration deadline has been extended through June 19. The extension includes the registration of vehicles purchased during the period of March 17 through June 19. Penalties associated with registrations and renewals will not be charged until June 22.
By the way, the Walker County Probate Judge's Office is still closed to the public, but as May 1 arrived, I tried out the new online service for getting my tags renewed, and was done in a matter of minutes. I think I paid maybe $3 extra to do it online, but it was worth it not to stand in line or wait for the office to open. They will mail me the receipt and stickers.
• On the same page, I also went to alabamavotes.gov and downloaded a copy of the absentee ballot for the runoff. The Secretary of State's Office continued to make clear in a release this week that if one is concerned about getting COVID-19 under the emergency, they can go ahead with an absentee ballot. Again, this really only took minutes to fill out. For the elderly and at-risk, I think this is the way to go, and I'm told the ballot is on its way to me. I would not be surprised if we see repeats of this with the municipal elections and the General Election in November.
• I was in CVS Tuesday and happened to find the impossible: The last can of Lysol disinfectant spray. I had been looking for one for a month. I almost felt like skipping down the street and singing, "I've got a golden ticket; I've got a golden ticket..." I didn't but that's how giddy I was.
• If I had to bet, the next big style in retail stores will be design masks. Bernard's just got a shipment on Tuesday, and I scooped up an Auburn mask for Dad and Johnathan Bentley.
• For what it is worth, I've decided to come back to work. I'm a little nervous about that, and I still use my mask a lot and keep social distance and wash my hands. But the limitations of technology, work place organizing and help on some tasks, all from a distance, seemed to lead me back. Frankly, the Daily Mountain Eagle is still closed officially, so it has been quiet for me. Truthfully, the way the newsroom desks are spaced out also makes it better than some have it.
• No question the Alabama Legislature and the Congress are microcosms of our division on what to do. In Washington, the House didn't want to come back, while the Senate wanted to, albeit with masks. (U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby used a University of Alabama mask, reports say.) Monday votes where senators usually catch up with each other was absent social traditions, as senators rushed away without talking. Democrats are concerned the bills being considered where not important enough to rush back to, especially as Washington is having an awful time with the virus.
The Legislature certainly had divisions on what to do; I'm hearing some of the discussions got somewhat heated among legislators on whether or not it was worth coming back when economic data for the budgets were still lacking, and many were concerned for their health.
However, House Speaker Mac McCutcheon told APT's "Capitol Journal" that no guarantees were there that firm revenue figures would be ready by mid-summer, and that teachers needed to have their funding certain by that time. (Local bills were also advertised and many didn't want to make local governments advertise them again.)
The Legislature will likely fulfill its duty to pass budgets, but he thinks it is possible to come back this summer and alter the budgets using updated figures. (Still, all but one House Democrats stayed home, and some are concerned about political posturing.)
• On a lighter note, I would hope the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences gives a special award to actor John Krasinski, whose "Some Good News" YouTube segments, with comic introductions, have featured positive stories of people dealing with the virus, and also surprised people on Zoom with online interactions with celebrities. Most impressively, he staged his own prom and graduation for high school graduates across the country. He's gone to a lot of trouble to lift up many people's spirits.
For that matter, I would give a runner up honor to Jimmy Fallon, who has staged "The Tonight Show" from his home, using his family and his hyperactive children (who interrupt like regular children), as well as comedy and musical segments and interviews on Zoom. Amazingly, he and wife have even answered questions about themselves and life, turning serious at times. His wife tapes the segments, and Fallon will suddenly stop himself and start asking or telling his wife something he just thought of. Instead of the overdone late-night shows with over-excited audiences, it has been like visiting a funny but real family. I've found myself staying up or watching on YouTube to connect to someone.
For that matter, many ministers have done a great job in this area reaching out to their congregations, holding Bible studies, devotionals, updates, prayer times and such. It has been an amazing development that I can see possibly evolving into an e-ministry for those who need the connection or who needed the invitation to reach out in person.