Let’s clean out the notebook…
• Oakman City Council’s decision to raise its sales tax, thus making its overall tax charged in the town 10 cents when state and county is included, is interesting. It may get other cities to look at raising their taxes as well, although they are less than two years to election now.
It is looking more and more likely that Republican leaders from the top on down in Montgomery are gearing up to raise the state gas tax, especially as it is the first year after the election and there is a critical need for road work. If the county gets a windfall from that in time for road work, my question is this: Will that be enough to satisfy the Walker County Commission so that it doesn’t try to seek raising its own tax?
However, it probably can’t afford to wait to see how the state effort would go and would look to raise its tax at the same time next spring. Then again, if the economy keeps improving, it might decide to hold off in a wait-and-see attitude. And also, knowing that it would be less likely they would raise their own taxes if the county raised a tax, will other cities in the county start looking at increases now, like Oakman did?
All I know is that as budgets are tight, it will be interesting to see how the county and the other cities respond.
• I take it retailers are expecting a good Christmas with the economy. I went in Belk’s the other day and they were as well stocked as I’ve seen in ages, and they had plenty of shoppers Sunday. Walmart was also similarly stocked to the gills. I’ve already been Christmas shopping myself, which I guess is another good sign. The colder weather we have had also helps psychologically.
• Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle’s address in Jasper threw me off on a day we were understaffed, and we didn’t get to photograph the Thanksgiving meal in Nauvoo on Monday, as I thought about doing. This is getting to be that busy time of year, so if you don’t see us show up, please send a photo to the Eagle so we can document your event.
As an example, I was thankful to Fayette Mayor Ray Nelson for sending in photos and a notice that the 14th Annual Christmas in the Park will be held at Guthrie Smith Park in Fayette from Nov. 22-Dec. 31 from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. featuring new scenes. Train rides will be $1 per person every Thursday, Friday and Saturday (except Thanksgiving Night), while hot chocolate will be available for $1 per cup.
• By the way, Battle and Jasper Mayor David O’Mary seem to truly be a mutual admiration society, and have forged a strong bond. O’Mary has gone to Battle for advice and help in some situations - a situation arose even while they were in Japan, and Battle may have helped to resolve that for a local company - and it has paid off well. Battle knows this area can provide supplier parts for plants in his area, and his willing to support the area as a result. But I do think Battle is also impressed, along with many others, with the downtown redevelopment. I think places like Jasper, Hamilton and Winfield are now also having an effect on smaller towns in the area, like Sumiton and Carbon Hill.
For that matter, I have friends that I take to lunch in Jasper now and they are very impressed with downtown. I gave a chamber check as a gift to a former co-worker the other day as we ate there, and he was impressed even with that idea. So Jasper is making a good impression on outsiders.
• According to Les Walters, my old boss at the Journal Record, District 4 State Senator Garlan Gudger Jr., R-Cullman, is coming into his first term after being elected to the Cullman City Council in 2004; in 2008, Gudger was elected president of the city council. During his tenure, the City of Cullman has seen unprecedented economic growth from 2004-2018, surviving the recession of 2008 and rebuilding after the 2011 tornadoes. Having Gudger will be a boost for municipal officials who will feel they have a friend in office. (In a similar way, my former co-worker, Tracy Estes, is now the District 17 House member, and some journalists feel they now have a friend in the House.)
• All of us the Eagle are delighted to see that Publisher James Phillips’ daughter, Zuzu, has finally decided to take a stand and is actually walking around now. Now she can be like her father and get into anything and everything.
Speaking of our leader, you know that he has the wresting show that he, uh, uh-hem—manages. (The other day they even pushed his puss into a cake, which I am sorry I missed seeing - although he had an unsuspecting daughter who saw it and burst into tears, as, we all know, it is as true as a tweet from the president.) But he says the show does well, with like 250 people on hand.
• For those in Winfield, we lost a good man there the other day with the death of my 1981 classmate Jacky Box, a retired employee of UPS. He died from a heart attack. He was an outstanding Winfield High football player in his day, with no trace of the jock ego. He was a great man that everyone misses greatly. (At this writing, as we have an early run Wednesday, I was not sure I could make the visitation or funeral, but I was trying.)
• I have to admit the last couple of Saturdays I’ve enjoyed driving through Winston County and seeing the fall colors. But I also note the historical signs that have been placed around the county; they are not state markers, but they do note many historical sites of note. I wish we could do more historical signs in Walker County. People do stop to read items like that, and I hope we can find a way to get more state signs or even some local signs.
• Read with interest that Yellowhammer News’ former founder, Cliff Sims, who worked in the White House for a while until leaving this year, now has a book coming out that will supposedly not be slamming the president but will still tell much about the infighting and such - and Sims apparently took tons of notes at meetings. I credit Sims for some of the early reporting of then-Gov. Robert Bentley’s behavior early in his second term that showed something was wrong and led to his downfall. Of course, anything outside of singing “It’s a Great Day” is considered backstabbing in this White House, so we will see what happens.
• I rushed with the last Carbon Hill City Council story on deadline, and forgot to mention that after the meeting Mayor Mark Chambers noted that it is thought the lighting on U.S. Interstate 22 at the Nauvoo Road exit will likely be done by March. The new truck stop is doing gangbuster business and has many trucks coming through — in the daytime. It is dark on the exit at night and they are closing part fo the night until they can get the lights up.
• I have to say we have some outstanding preaching in our area. Lloyd Stilley did an outstanding job at Jasper’s First Baptist Sunday on talking from Romans 8 about how we deal with a decaying world while we wait to join Jesus. (Go to the video on the church’s website for the Nov. 18 sermon and go to the 40:00 mark.) Meanwhile, Scott McCullar, the pastor at First Baptist in Carbon Hill (who also writes an occasional column for us), did such an excellent job Sunday that the congregation burst into applause at the end of the sermon, which I have never heard of happening. The sermon was from 2nd Timothy 4 about dealing with difficult people, being cautious with them but to not be vengeful with them. He says that is now posted online as well (although not the applause; no, they wouldn't get that on tape, would they, pastors?)
By the way, if Jasper’s First Baptist Church will seem a little cooler than usual for its holiday events in the sanctuary, there is a reason. The boiler decided to die now after 40 years. A new one is on order, but they are figuring out ways to warm in up ahead of events and services. But if you want to wear that Christmas sweater, it might be prudent until it arrives later in December. The church is also asking for donations among the membership to defray the cost.
Ed Howell is the Daily Mountain Eagle's news editor.