The Wire

  • Dale Jackson: As long as Nancy Worley leads the Alabama Democratic Party, they will remain stuck on the toilet


    In December of 2014, Alabama Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy Worley wrote a Christmas letter, and it included details about an embarrassing ordeal where she was unable to get off the toilet, which is still a pretty good metaphor for Alabama Democrats.

    “April brought another trauma to my knees which balked when I tried to rise from my lowly 14″ commode. Again, I sat for hours awaiting Wade’s scheduled arrival; however, his attempt to lift me was futile—when he pulled me up, he fell backwards and I fell on my knees again. Solution: we installed the tallest available, 17 1/2 inch commode and a pull-up bar on my bathroom wall,” Worley wrote.

    The current head of the Alabama Democratic Party, who just won re-election, has overseen a pretty embarrassing period for her party. The only real victory that she can claim is the election of Senator Doug Jones. But even that victory was nothing to write home about. Most observers believe that election result was more about the national media descending on Roy Moore during the special election than the strength of Worley’s Democratic Party.

    And Jones’ failed wish that Worley be removed shows anyone watching that he doesn’t give her any credit; he wanted her gone and he explained to the Montgomery Advertiser’s Brian Lyman that the Alabama Democratic Party has issues he wants addressed without Worley at the helm:

  • ‘The Lord had his hand on me’: Alabama pastor struck by lightning after church service


    Pastor Ricky Adams, of the Argo Church of God in Walker County, was struck by lightning after the church’s service on Sunday.

    The Argo Area Volunteer Fire Department dispatched to the scene and discovered church members already assisting Adams upon their arrival.

    The pastor, who had been hit indirectly by a lightning strike, did not sustain any major injuries and did not even need to be transported to the hospital.

  • Alabama ranks second worst state for having a baby


    A newly-published ranking of states judges Alabama to be the 50th best – or 2nd worst – state in which to have a baby.

    The ranking, developed by the personal finance website WalletHub, compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia using four categories: cost, health care, baby-friendliness and family-friendliness.

    Its cost metric includes things like average cost of insurance premiums, cost of newborn screening and average annual cost of early childcare.

1 month ago

Alabama church ‘gathers at the river’ every summer for five decades

(W. Byrd/Shorelines)

Every summer for the past 50 years, people have gathered to worship Sundays on the banks of Lake Mitchell.

Back in the summer of ‘69, “River Church” started as a way to draw boaters and lake-goers to worship. The Rev. Johnnie Trobaugh got the idea after asking young people why they were missing church.

“It was all begun because Pastor Johnnie used to ask some of the young folks why they wouldn’t come to church in the summer, and they would say that they were on the river,” said Wes Kelley, co-pastor of Clanton First United Methodist Church. “He lived on the river as well and said, ‘All right, we are going to start having a service on my boathouse.’”


Kelley and his wife, Meghan, serve as co-pastors of Clanton FUMC, which organizes River Church as a community outreach each summer from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

From the roof of his boathouse, Trobaugh would share the good news. About 80 boats docked for the first service, complete with an old pump organ but no hymnals because everyone knew the songs.

“He was very consistent with it. He ran the service every summer from Memorial Day to Labor Day,” said Meghan Kelley. “That consistency made it a special tradition for the community that lives on Lake Mitchell.”

The service takes place at 8:30 in the relative coolness of the morning. A typical Sunday can see dozens of worshippers and the Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day holidays draw hundreds from across central Alabama.

“It’s a place where you can come in your flip-flops, or you can pull up with your boat. It reaches people who might not dress up and come to a traditional church service,” Wes Kelley said.

Each service includes music – “Shall We Gather at the River” is sung every Sunday without fail – and a sermon from a Clanton FUMC pastor.

Over the years, generations of families have come to the river for spiritual nourishment – literally baptized in the water of Lake Mitchell.

“It’s unique, but it’s more than just a novelty. River Church is a very spiritual experience for the people who come,” Meghan Kelley said. “It’s a time to reconnect with folks from around Clanton and Chilton County. It brings together family and friends around God and this beautiful part of creation.”

Though Trobaugh died in 2005, the service has continued. The Kelleys say that’s a testament to the volunteers who remain dedicated to Trobaugh’s ministry.

“Pastor Johnnie passed away, but in his memory, a pavilion was constructed at Higgins Ferry Park at the boat landing. That’s still where the River Church meets to this day,” Wes Kelley said. “Even though Clanton FUMC runs the service, it’s the volunteers and church members who make it happen.”

Since 1969, the service has never been canceled and goes on, rain or shine, every Sunday.

“We are very proud that we’ve never been rained out. We’ve been rained on but not rained out,” Meghan Kelley said. “They will not cancel for any reason.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

3 months ago

Woodpecker species holding its own in Alabama

(Justin Averette / Alabama NewsCenter)

On the banks of the Coosa River, a federally endangered woodpecker continues to hold its own, with a little help from friends.

For more than 30 years, Alabama Power Company biologists have worked to protect and expand red-cockaded woodpecker (RCW) populations on Lake Mitchell, which contains the largest population of RCWs on private property in the state.

The aptly-named woodpecker measures about 7 inches tall and is black and white except for the red streak males have along the side of their heads.


Each spring, Alabama Power partners with federal and state agencies to identify and track the bird through banding. In early May, biologists with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife or the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will scale pine trees up to 30 feet to check on that year’s offspring.

The baby birds, just 6 to 9 days old, will be given a unique band of colored rings along their tiny legs.

“Their eyes are shut, and they are still pretty much featherless, but the size is about right where you can put bands on them,” said Eric Soehren, an ecologist with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. “If you wait too long – you can go 10 or possibly 11 days – but by then their eyes have opened up, and it’s a lot harder to pull them out. There is a small window of time in which you want to target.”

The bands will allow scientists to track the birds over their lifetime. Some birds from Lake Mitchell have turned up more than 100 miles away.

The first survey of red-cockaded woodpeckers was conducted in 1985. After last year’s nesting season, 11 active clusters produced a total of 17 fledglings – nine males and eight females. That’s in addition to 31 adult birds, bringing the total population of RCWs in 2017 to 48.

In addition to tracking, Alabama Power assists the woodpecker by providing habitat for the species.

While most woodpeckers carve openings in dead trees, RCWs bore holes exclusively in mature, living pine trees. To give the birds more nesting habitat, Alabama Power carves openings in trees using chainsaws.

“At the end of the next season, we will look at the number of birds there and compare that to the number of tree cavities at each cluster. If the number of birds exceeds the number of cavities, then we will hire consultants to go out and install artificial cavities for the birds,” said Chad Fitch, a biologist with Alabama Power. “That way, all the birds will have a place to live.”

Alabama Power also helps keep the longleaf pine forests that woodpeckers depend on healthy with regular prescribed burning and tree thinning.

“The habitat for red-cockaded woodpeckers really would not exist without thinning and prescribed burning at Lake Mitchell,” Fitch said. “We have prescribed burning at each cluster every other year or as needed to maintain an open, park-like area for RCW habitat.”

About the red-cockaded woodpecker

The red-cockaded woodpecker primarily feeds on ants, beetles, cockroaches, caterpillars, wood-boring insects, spiders and, occasionally, fruits or berries.

RCWs are a cooperative breeding species, which means some of the male birds from previous years will help take care of their half-siblings and future generations.

The nesting season runs from April to June and breeding females typically lay three to four eggs each season. Group members incubate eggs for 10 to 11 days. Once hatched, nestlings remain in the tree cavity for 26 to 28 days.

Upon fledging, the young often remain with the parents, forming clusters with three to four members. Groups can grow to as large as 10 birds; however, there is only one breeding pair within each cluster.

The “helpers” are all male as juvenile females generally leave the cluster before the next breeding season in search of solitary male groups.

The main predator of RCW nests is rat snakes. To combat these predators, the birds keep sap flowing from the pine trees as a defense mechanism.

The red-cockaded woodpecker plays a vital role in Southern pine forests. Several other animals, such as nuthatches, bluebirds, bees, wasps and other woodpeckers, use cavities excavated by RCWs.

(Courtesy of Alabama News Center)