Let's clean out the notebook ...
• Last weekend, the countywide cleanup to me was a little disappointing in terms of numbers. I think there should have been a lot more participation, but moving the date would probably be a good idea. It seems like the end of April is a flurry of activities, and we had to decide what we would go to.
It wasn't easy for me, either, that morning, and Jeffery Winborne helped me out at a couple of events as I had to go to the north and east ends of the county. I tried to catch up on foot with the Jasper High School football team on Walston Bridge Road, as I hated to pass the police car on that narrow road to get ahead of them. I should have, because the asthma and allergy conditions and coughing all kicked in and I was all but bent over taking the photos. The policeman even asked, "Are you OK?" I went straight to Captain D's and tried to recuperate a minute; I pretty much held the fort afterward at the office, where we had eight obituaries to deal with, too.
Anyway ... I think with all the distractions, it might be better to hold the event in late March as a way to get the worst of the trash up before mowing. (Some may complain about the threat of cold, but April has the threat of rain, and it is still dry in the cold.) Janet Adams Clayton, who supervises the county cleanup, had a good idea to move it up to then, and to maybe arrange volunteer committees in each district to keep up with pickups.
Personally, I think it needs to be a combination of the volunteer efforts and the county efforts. District 1 has a good regular pickup using inmates; some of us noticed how clean it was in the Smith Lake Dam Road area. I've heard some are using their crews at times in other districts. But I think it will take a more concentrated effort, perhaps with inmates, in each district. I don't know how that is worked out or funded, but the District 1 method seems to work well.
Not that I am an expert at any of this - or anything else, as you have seen - but I told Janet that some people get after the fast food places as much of the garbage you see seems to be take out cups, wrappers, containers, and so on from these restaurants. I've heard about putting on a tax for these restaurants to pay for cleanup, but it is not really their fault - it is the consumers who throw out the material, and who need to be educated starting in elementary school not to litter. (I'm glad the county officials are putting more emphasis on that, and I hope Dr. Joel Hagood and Dr. Ann Jackson will take up that task and run with it, perhaps with special committees in their system to come up with solutions.)
As for the fast food restaurants, my suggestion would be that during the next major cleanup - doing this twice a year wouldn't hurt, either - the restaurants could be approached with this idea: Allow the restaurants to head up teams, maybe even as a competition, and get volunteers from among the staff and from their own patrons. Allow them to participate and show the public that they are genuinely concerned about litter as well and want to set the example for the public that we all need to be concerned and involved in litter pickup and environmental education. For that matter, this could be expanded to other segments of business and industry as well, who could tag along with their own teams to show support. I think this is a much more wise approach than trying to blame one industry or another for causing the littering, when it is the individual who is at fault.
Having said all that, I want to congratulate all those who did help last weekend, including county and municipal officials and crews, as it is a good start to the efforts. Hopefully, we can improve upon that.
• It is still disappointing that the only National Day of Prayer event is set today for Walker County, in Carbon Hill. I see four communities in Marion County that have scheduled events. But Carbon Hill will hold its ceremony today at noon at City Hall. (And don't forget that Kansas Day is also set for this Saturday, starting at 9 a.m.)
• District Attorney Bill Adair took some of the time for the annual crime victims candlelight ceremony to plead for victims to call their legislators to call for tougher standards. He noted that the sentencing guidelines that have been criticized for tying up the hands of judges is an example of what gets through without lobbying. As he lost someone to crime when he was younger, you can tell he is very impassioned about victims. I can tell you the idea of allowing crime victim families to put their loved on a permanent board to be displayed went over very well.
• I should point out a major development for Fayette and Marion counties: Charter Communications (now branded as Spectrum) bought out the long-time cable provider for that area, West Alabama TV Cable, in April, as reported by the Journal Record. This was the company that first put in cable near my childhood home in the 1970s, starting with about 15 channels, and thus this is the end of an era. This will obviously increase Charter's influence for cable and internet in that area.
• Since I am in that area, I noted Braden Pyron, a senior at Marion County High School in Guin, was the winner of the Bryant-Jordan Student-Athlete Scholarship for both Class 1A and overall through seven classifications. I don't know him, but his grandparents, John and Ginger Elliott (and his mother, now Valarie Pyron) were next door neighbors of mine in Winfield.
• A Republican businessman from Haleyville has announced he will run for U.S. Sen. Doug Jones' seat in 2020. Stanley Adair said on his website that he was a furniture assembly line worker who went on to build Adair Furniture, and has been involved in business from a restaurant to a TV station, and "once hosted a television show on DirecTV and Dish networks."
• The Yellow Pages got distributed a few days ago. If you have some saved up, you will note how the decline of landlines have shrunk the phone books. The official AT&T Yellow Pages version for Walker County have gone from 156 pages in 2017 to 136 pages last year and 108 pages this year.
• How big was "The Avengers: Endgame" this weekend? First, according to Variety, we have the mind-blowing $1.2 billion OPENING number world wide and $350 million OPENING figure in North America - Hollywood studio executives would kill their grandmother for closing numbers like that; I don't want to know what one would do for opening numbers at that level. Then there is the fact that got me, that beforehand the North American Box Office was down 16.7 percent in 2019 to date. This one movie, on one weekend, has cut that figure down to a 13.3 percent decline.
• We get these story ideas from companies by email, and sometimes you wonder about them, but they sometimes get interesting. For instance, QuoteWizard, which seems to be involved with Lending Tree, reports "that increased frequency and severity of natural disasters has contributed to homeowners insurance rates in Alabama to skyrocket $481, a 53 percent increase over a nine-year span, ranking it 15th in the nation for increases (and 17th for the years 2007-2015, with a $453 increase).
Then there was TicketLens, which reported the highest priced tourist ticket prices in the world, using U.S. dollars. A Warners Brothers studio tour in London involving the Harry Potter movies is worst, at $58.57 to get in. London is expensive all over: Madame Tussauds costs $45.58, Westminster Palace costs $36.46, the Tower of London is $32, and Buckingham Palace and the London Eye is $31.
New York City is not much better, especially to look down, according to the release: "The new One World Trade Center has a viewing platform that offers spectacular views of Manhattan and Central Park. With an entrance fee of $34.80, it’s cheaper than both the Top of the Rock observation deck, at $39; and the Empire State Building, also at $39."
Ed Howell is the Daily Mountain Eagle's news editor.