Jasper outcome may help fight COVID-19

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Let's clean out the notebook ...

• The candidates have completed their qualifying - sort of. A new law says candidates now have up to five days after filing their qualifying papers to file their statement of economic interests with the State Ethics Commission. (They used to do it the day they filed.) If a candidate fails to file a statement of economic interest, the law provides that their name shall not appear on the ballot. And the fourth and fifth days fall on a Saturday and Sunday, so the last-minute people should get to hopping.

Anyway, Jasper put in its incumbent mayor and council, save for replacing Sonny Posey with Jed Daniel. Jasper's prosperity and progress the past few years made it a simple choice, and the few hiccups along the way were forgiven. The economic effects of the virus could make it harder the next time around, but for now no one could see releasing the crew from the ship. 

Eldridge, headed up by Mayor Bobbie Jean Dodd, allowed the whole council team to return. All the incumbents in Kansas, led by Mayor Earnie Darty, are going back in. That means three of 10 municipalities (we haven't heard about Sipsey yet) will have no opposition whatsoever. 

All three towns will save money by not having any election at all, which should be financially pleasing to the smaller towns. For Jasper, that also eliminates the problem of having a large part of the citizens of the county's largest city coming to the polls during a pandemic. Health officials have to be relieved at that (as well as the news that municipalities can use the emergency absentee allowance and can be reimbursed for preventive measures). 

• Of course, around the county, two glaring municipal problems remain: District 2 in Cordova and District 6 in Carbon Hill had no candidates; in fact, Carbon Hill had no one to apply to fill District 6 the other day just to fill out the term to November. I am wondering as these towns contract if the district system really is doomed for limiting participation, and if the towns need to consider going to "places" with the next administration, which allows anyone in the city to serve. I have emailed the Alabama League of Municipalities to make sure what happens next. 

• Outside of Jasper, many races didn't have challenges. Parrish only has a three-way race for mayor on the ballot. Oakman has a mayor's race and two council races, with three incumbents coming back.  Some cities do have some heavier competition. Dora seemed to bust out with candidates, without about twice as many candidates as are slots to fill with the top-seven-man vote system. Only Sumiton Councilman Kenneth Russell was unopposed, with mayor and four council races contested. Carbon Hill, which has had its fair share of headlines and turnovers, has contested races for mayor and five council seats. 

• Keep in mind that Parrish Mayor La'Tisha Oliver, who moved up from councilwoman when Heather Hall moved, is leaving public office altogether, as is Cordova Mayor Drew Gilbert. Nauvoo will be led by a new mayor, Sheila Bridgmon Sizemore - with her husband Keith also unopposed in Place 4 on the council. And a number of council members across the county are leaving office, including Sonny Posey, who was also mayor of Jasper. Bubba Cagle is leaving his council seat in Parrish to run for mayor there. I noted in Carbon Hill Clarence Colbert decided not to run again for District 2, as did Patricia Tucker, who was just sworn in for District 3. (For that matter, former Oakman Mayor Joyce Todd is trying for a seat on that city's council now.) 

• Again, as a reminder, candidate profiles for upcoming municipal elections are now available to purchase for publication in the Daily Mountain Eagle on a first-come, first-serve basis. The final day for a profile to be published will be Friday, Aug. 14. Only two profiles may run per day. The cost for each profile is $150. They may run one time and are limited to 500 words. The profiles will start on the front page of the paper and will include a headshot. All candidate profile material is to be typed and emailed to james.phillips@mountaineagle.com. Documents on a USB flash drive can also be brought to the paper. Please be sure photographs are in JPEG format. If a photo needs to be taken, a DME photographer will gladly do that.

All political ads must be paid in advance. Advertising packages will also be available for the municipal elections. Contact DME ad director Jake Aaron at 205-221-2840 or jake.aaron@mountaineagle.com for more information.

• We are heard stories this week from posts and calls about hospitals in the area. I understood this week that both ICUs at Walker and Princeton were full and that some patients at Walker have had to stay in the ER for a day or two as a result. I asked Walker Baptist Medical Center for a response concerning the hospital and the Brookwood system. 

"As one of the largest healthcare providers in Central Alabama, the number of COVID-19 positive patients we are treating is continuously changing, along with our capacity, and our hospitals have plans in place to continue providing care safely," the hospital said in an emailed statement. "As a system, we have the ability to operationalize additional beds to increase capacity, if needed. We encourage our community not to delay care for new or chronic conditions requiring medical attention, which can lead to life threatening illnesses, and we have taken the appropriate steps and implemented protocols to continue to provide safe care. It is important to continue to adhere to safe personal practices, masking, social distancing and frequent hand washing."

• Finally, I was as shocked as everyone else to hear of Rick Watson's sudden death. I am thankful it was something as quick as that, without a long, drawn out illness. I got to format and read many of his stories, the best of which were his features on people of all ages. He was a people person, and it showed in his desire to tell these stories. His love of writing and journalism showed in his enthusiasm in coming to our weekly meetings and sharing ideas. He took an interest in everyone around him. And then there were his columns, which I thought were his crown jewel. Maybe someone will compile more of those columns into another book, which would be worth it to relive those rural moments that he seemed to thrive on. I know we will miss his musings on the flowers, cars, guitars and any number of details he seemed to pick out to make masterpiece observations. We will all miss him dearly. 

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Ed Howell is the news editor of the Daily Mountain Eagle. He can be reached at ed.howell@mountaineagle.com.