Tag Archives: small town

Life in a Small Town: The Local Paper

Good morning Everyone!

Do you think Disney really thought about the fact that they are releasing the new Winnie the Pooh movie on the same weekend as the last Harry Potter movie?  I know which one we are going to see.  (Hint:  Eeyore is not in it!)

But I digress – The local paper, which comes out once a week was delivered in the mail yesterday.  Kayla and I both enjoy reading it, and there is a good chance someone we know will be in it.  I find it very comforting that in this age of constant media bombardment, there still are places where “all the news fit to print” is printed once a week, in a paper that can be read in less than 10 minutes, usually. 

Front page news this week includes the fact that the mayor has had to give a radio statement to permanently and firmly squelch a rumor that had been going around town that he had recently been arrested and charged with DUI.  There is a huge color picture on the front page showing some of the members of the local swim team practicing for the district meet that is being held today with the caption “Shark Attack.”  Swim meets are a big thing in this town; one of my friends from another town in the area has his children doing swim team, too, and he says whenever my town is in a meet, there is so much purple and gold swarming the buildings that it reminds him of an LSU football game.  (Purple and gold are our sports teams’ colors – all sports.) 

It is also big news that the city council has approved one of the local (but chain) drug stores’ application to sell alcohol, and that a second Dollar General is moving into town.  A picture on the second page tells us that the Farmer’s Market drew a crowd this weekend, and that it will continue every Saturday until Labor Day from 7 – 11.  The wedding announcements and obituaries are always big news, as are the church announcements.  13 churches in our town have announcements in the paper, but on another page, which simply lists the churches here, there are a total of 75 listed.  (This is a good thing, not a bad thing.)

Sports news is always big, and this week is no exception.  One of the big stories is that football tickets and parking permits for the high school football games will be available to the public starting Monday, August 8.  High school football is one of our premier events – one year, our town moved the official celebration of Halloween from Friday, October 31 to Saturday, November 1 simply to avoid a conflict with the local football game. 

We have our share of sales ads, too – today’s sampling includes a 12 page ad from one of the local grocery stores, a 24 page leaflet from Best Buy, which is not located here but does have stores in both Montgomery and Auburn, both of which we can reach fairly easily, and an ad for a local pharmacy.  The ad I find most curious is the 12 page ad for Rite Aid, which no longer has a store in our town, and hasn’t for at least 8 months.  I suppose somebody somewhere will figure that out soon.

I didn’t see the “police blotter” listing arrests and calls for the police department this week, but I may have just overlooked it.  It usually is published, and it is always an interesting read, the more so because it is rarely tragic.  While we have unfortunately had a couple of really shocking crimes the past couple of years, including a brutal assault on an elderly couple, a murder, and an arson incident that took out a good portion of our downtown but by the grace of God failed to injure anyone, most of the time the police blotter is limited to calls about neighbor’s noises, domestic disturbances, traffic tickets, and that most interesting of categories, miscellaneous calls.  You never quite know what will turn up there!

Well, it’s Friday, but I have a lot of work to get done before next Tuesday, (a summary judgment response, a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals brief, and two Daubert motion responses) so I need to sign off for now. 

Have a great weekend everyone!


Hometown Heroes: The 214th Comes Home

Hi Everyone!

I hope you had a great weekend!  It is unusual for me to need two or three days to put a post together, but I think this one was worth the effort.

I have written before about aspects of living in a small town, e.g. Of Waves and Pens, but last week I was privileged to observe another facet in the town where I have worked for over 20 years.  

Last year, on June 12, 2010, the Alabama Army National Guard 214th Military Police Company was deployed to Iraq for the third time, this time to help train Iraqi police officers. (The 214th’s prior deployments were in 1991, as part of Operation Desert Storm, when it was awarded the Meritorious Unit Award, and in 2003. )

364 days later, on Friday, June 10, 2011, the small town where I work turned out to welcome the first wave of returnees back home.  Originally, 170 members were deployed; over 100 of those got to come home Friday; another 57 will follow in about three weeks.  While the unit draws on individuals from my working town, the neighboring communities and one small city, the deployment of 170 people always has a serious impact on small towns and their surrounding communities.  There is an economic price since there are not as many people to buy things, but there is an even larger human price – each one of those guard members have family – husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, children, aunts and uncles and cousins – who need to “hold the fort” while the members are gone.  I am sure there are sleepless nights for both the guard member and the family, wondering how things are going “over there” and hoping that nobody gets hurt.  A small town feels that pain, necessarily, more so than a larger community.  It is hard not to know someone affected by the Guard’s deployment in one manner or another; even if you don’t have a deployed member in your family, you know someone who does. 

These men and women, who choose to serve, leave their families when asked by the Army to fly halfway across the world in order to protect all of us.  They deserve our respect, and gratitude, and I was very proud of my town for showing out in force to demonstrate both.

Well before Friday, yellow ribbons started appearing all over town, welcoming home the 214th.  There was a yellow ribbon on the local hospital’s main sign:

The Local Hospital

at the antique and framing store downtown:

Local Store


One of the prettiest buildings used by local government had its yellow ribbons also.

as well as the town roundabout.  (The town roundabout is the latest answer to a traffic issue my town has faced for over 100 years, the circle around the courthouse square.  When a great fire came along and destroyed much of the city in the 1900’s, a newspaper article was written expressing the hope that something could be done to better enable traffic flow around what was, at the time, the County Courthouse.  The roundabout has helped some, although when I am in a particularly absent-minded mood,  I sometimes have the feeling that I may have circled the road three or four times before I hit the right exit!) 

Because of its location, the town roundabout is, in a way, the heart of the city.  It was properly decorated with ribbons was well.

Our law office had yellow ribbons on both the front and the back doors.

As did much of the rest of downtown:


On the four-lane highway through the outskirts of town, each light post was decorated with a yellow ribbon also, while every other light post had two flags on each side of it.  A huge cliff in our area, called Patriot’s Point for the huge flag that permanently resides there, also boasted a “Welcome Home 214th” sign about halfway up the cliff – someone had to do some climbing to get there!

On the four lane and at Patriot Point

Here’s a closer look at the sign:

Patriot Point Sign

The City Sportplex decorated both of their entrances with yellow ribbons:

Entrance to the City Sportplex

Looking up at the Flag at the Sportplex

as did many other business in the area, including two funeral homes, the local community college, City Hall, and a multitude of stores.  By the time all the ribbons were up, you could definitely tell that something was about to happen!
And then that something did happen, on Friday about 12:30 p.m. Word came that the two air-conditioned buses carrying the returning members were approaching, and the final preparations were made. The local police stopped traffic for the parade route.
 People gathered at spots where they thought they would be able to see the buses and the people in the buses would see them; I chose a side road for my observation point because the next turn the buses would take from that side road was the road that would lead them to the armory. From my spot, I could see people gathering: 
Cheerleaders from the local schools:

Local Cheerleaders wait.

The Crowd Gathers

And other people, as well.
 This woman was waiting for her nephew to come back home,

Waiting for her nephew

as were these people beside her:
Finally, after about 20 minutes more of waiting, we started hearing sirens and cheering coming from the four lane, which let us know that they were about to arrive!  The first escort car that pulled around in front of the buses was a local radio station’s car, closely followed by a police cruiser, who was then followed by the two buses. 

The Procession begins

More people wait

Then the police car leading the buses came up the road, with its lights flashing and sirens on.

Second Vehicle in the procession

 Followed by the first bus:

Bus 1

Then, as the buses pulled into sight, the people started waving:

Waving hello as the buses get into sight.

Finally, the buses themselves came into view, rounded the corner and took the final turn that would lead them back to the armory, where their families were waiting for them.

Second Bus

The final road to the armory

I did not choose to go forward toward the armory to see the final reunion between loved ones;  that moment belongs to the families, and only to them, but it made me feel happy to know how many families were about to be made happy and whole again. 

I am very proud of my working town for putting together a celebration that would help these military members know how welcome they are, and how much we honor their service, but I am even prouder of the men and women coming home; their service is essential to our country’s security and I admire them for the sacrifice that they make. 

Have a great day everyone!