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JANUARY 12, 2017 – JANUARY 18, 2017 | ASHLEY TRICE Co-publisher/Editor ROB HOLBERT Co-publisher/Managing Editor STEVE HALL Marketing/Sales Director GABRIEL TYNES Assistant Managing Editor DALE LIESCH Reporter JASON JOHNSON Reporter JANE NICHOLES Reporter

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Embattled Mobile Housing Board Director Dwayne Vaughn will resign in February after seven years.


Ashley’s going to the happiest place on Earth.


The historic Grand Hotel Marriott Resort in Point Clear is scheduled to undergo a major remodeling.


Go for the beer, but stay for the menu. Old Shell Growlers may have some of the best bar food in town.

KEVIN LEE Associate Editor/Arts Editor ANDY MACDONALD Cuisine Editor




Prosecutors are conducting a trial against Mobile-area doctors John Couch and Xiulu Ruan for allegedly running a “pill mill.”


BROOKE O’DONNELL Advertising Sales Executive BETH WILLIAMS Advertising Sales Executive ASHLEY KILLIAN Advertising Sales Executive MELISSA EDGE Editorial Assistant ROSS PRITCHARD Distribution Manager



Mobile actor Steve Evans is back in the spotlight after a cancer scare.


JACKIE CRUTHIRDS Office Manager CONTRIBUTORS: Asia Frey, Lee Hedgepeth, Brian Holbert, Jeff Poor, Ken Robinson, Ron Sivak, Michael Thomason ON THE COVER: HOOKED BY LAURA RASMUSSEN LAGNIAPPE HD Periodicals Permit #17660 (Volume 2, Issue 16) Copyright 2015 is published weekly, 52 issues a year, by Something Extra Publishing, Inc., 1100B Dauphin St. Mobile, AL 36604 (P.O. Box 3003 Mobile, AL 36652). Business and Editorial Offices: 1100B Dauphin St. Mobile, AL 36604 Accounting and Circulation Offices: 1100B Dauphin St. Mobile, AL 36604. Call 251-450-4466 to subscribe. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to P.O. Box 3003 Mobile, AL 36652 Editorial, advertising and production offices are located at 1100B Dauphin St. Mobile, AL 36604. Mailing address is P.O. Box 3003 Mobile, AL 36652. Phone: 251-450-4466 Fax: 251-450-4498 Email: LAGNIAPPE HD is printed at Walton Press. All rights reserved. Something Extra Publishing, Inc. Nothing may be reprinted. photocopied or in any way reproduced without the expressed permission of the publishers.

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Guitar phenom Derek Trucks discusses the move to selfproducing the 12-piece Tedeschi Trucks Band at his home studio.


“Kubo and the Two Strings” is visually magnificent and nothing short of a masterpiece.


General Manager Mark Bunting is leaving WKRG for the same job in Montgomery.


Spring Hill College’s Frank Sims was recently named to the Alabama Baseball Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame.


With the holidays out of the way, Boozie is ready to let the good times roll.

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More to come Editor: A recent Lagniappe article focused on projects needed and already underway at several public parks. Within the past few years, there have been major renovations of and upgrades to existing facilities at parks across the city. These projects are possible through the valuable funds provided by the City Council extending the penny sales tax. When we did that, in order to ensure we would be finally able to address long overdue infrastructure issues and repairs and upgrades at our parks and community centers, we developed the Capital Improvement Plan, which a portion of those proceeds would go toward. I joined many of my colleagues in devoting a significant part of the CIP funds allocated for the District toward renovations and upgrades of our parks. At Figures Park, we installed lighting and repaired the scoreboard for youth who play on the fields and extended the walking trail and added benches and trash cans. At Mill Street Park, we added a pavilion, grills, seating, trash cans and other items adjacent to the playground area for shade during the hot summer months and for families to enjoy. Meanwhile, Trinity Gardens Park has undergone a complete makeover — from two rusty swing sets with broken seats and dangerous pipes sticking out of the ground to a brand new playground where youth can play, with benches for caregivers and more benches and trash cans along the walking trail there. These are all in addition to the work done at Herndon (Sage) Park, which was mentioned in the paper’s piece. This is all in the first year alone of these projects. And there is much more to come. We are going to continue to invest in good parks and recreation centers because they

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are the heart of strong communities and Mobile deserves strong communities. District 1 Councilman Fred Richardson Mobile

Here’s an idea Rob, After reading in your column (“Dothan learns NYE ‘drops’ aren’t always easy,” Jan. 5), I think Dothan should capitalize on the publicity. Instead of removing the phallus of balloons, they should add another nut and call it the Twin Nut Drop! Thanks for the best and longest laugh I’ve had in a long time! Jan Joseph Mobile

Make it stop Hi, I’ve been trying to find a way to stop the delivery of the blue-bagged newspaper tossed in our driveway each week and came across this article you wrote back in April 2015 (Damn the Torpedoes, “Time to stop the newspaper thugs”). Please tell me there is a contact person, or some way to stop the delivery of this unwanted paper? I’ve tried off and on for over a year … no matter who I call it doesn’t seem to be the correct department and the people at the Mobile Press-Register don’t seem to know which paper I’m talking about. These papers are litter, plain and simple. We live in the

county, but are still inside the Mobile police jurisdiction. Frequently the papers are thrown in driveways of vacant homes, where they’re allowed to accumulate. Over time they become a soggy, blue-bagged mess of trash. What ever happened to “Keep Mobile Beautiful?” What can we do to stop the delivery of this blue-bagged trash we never asked for? Sharon Reeves Mobile

Last week online:

Manhunt leading to family’s arrest disturbs Belforest neighborhoods A man who escaped the Baldwin County Courthouse in Bay Minette was recaptured in Belforest Thursday after a manhunt through woods and subdivisions. The chase began just after Circuit Judge Jody Bishop sentenced Weston Vincent Slade, 22, to three years in prison for a probation violation stemming from a previous charge of first-degree theft of property. Slade fled the courthouse with corrections officers in pursuit. Several minutes later he was observed in Bay Minette getting into the trunk of a car driven by his 19-yearold sister Jamison Slade. Both were later arrested along with their mother, 56-year-old Susan Slade.

Goodman named Officer of the Month

David Goodman, who works with the field operations division in the city’s second precinct, was named the Mobile Police Department’s Officer of the Month for December 2016 this week. According to the department, Goodman has worked 15 years as a patrolman and is now being recognized for his instrumental role in solving several recent cases.


Changing places




obile Housing Board Executive Director Dwayne Vaughn officially announced to commissioners Wednesday during a monthly meeting that he would be stepping down, effective Feb. 28, ending his seven-year tenure as head of the city’s public housing authority. Following the meeting, Vaughn said he had been thinking about resigning over the last 90 days and felt the time was right. “The executive director job is extremely demanding,” he said. “At some point you wonder if it’s time … for a fresh start.” During Vaughn’s time as executive director, the authority commenced a major redevelopment plan and encouraged the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to convert its entire housing stock to the Rental Assistance Demonstration program. The move to RAD could jeopardize some current MHB employees, but would allow the board to update its aging housing by teaming up with private developers. The board saw challenging times under Vaughn’s direction as well, and his departure comes at a time of intense scrutiny. In 2016, HUD’s Office of Inspector General released a scathing report challenging the entity’s relationship with its nonprofit arm, Mobile Development Enterprises (MDE), and accusing MHB of mismanagement of funds. Vaughn said the OIG report had nothing to do with his resignation. “It’s time for new opportunities for me,” he said. Although Vaughn said he wants to pursue new opportunities, he doesn’t yet know what they will be. He said he’s “going to take some time” first. Vaughn’s announcement comes just a couple of weeks after he informed MHB employees that

Matthew McClammey, MDE vice president of asset management and compliance, had tendered his resignation. In an email on Dec. 21, Vaughn wrote that McClammey was set to resign Jan. 13. Since the email was sent, however, multiple sources confirmed McClammey has rescinded his resignation. Multiple sources also confirmed that Vaughn and McClammey, both of whom came to Mobile from the Atlanta area, were disagreeable. Vaughn wrote that McClammey was still employed and “we do not make any other comments on employment matters.” Multiple sources have confirmed McClammey is a frontrunner to replace Vaughn, but McClammey has not returned a call seeking comment. MHB Chairwoman Kimberly Pettway said the board hasn’t considered anyone as a replacement yet. As far as McClammey, she said she wasn’t even familiar with his resume and wouldn’t consider him a frontrunner. Pettway has previously said the board would begin a search for Vaughn’s replacement, but they would not rush to a decision. Both Vaughn and Pettway said there were no other anticipated staff changes, other than the executive director’s departure. Pettway said she learned of Vaughn’s resignation on Wednesday, contrary to Vice Chairman Reid Cummings, who said Vaughn’s resignation was not a surprise. Cummings said the board and Vaughn had discussions about it before his announcement. Cummings joined the board just as the OIG report was made public in early August, replacing Donald Langham, who had served on the board for 23 years. Langham’s abrupt departure last June allowed Mayor Sandy Stimpson to effectively have a controlling number of board appointees for the first time during his tenure.

Going green




ayor Sandy Stimpson’s administration has officially asked the nonprofit board of Keep Mobile Beautiful for roughly $65,000 in recycling center revenue. In a letter addressed to board president Alberta Richardson, Executive Director of Finance, Paul Wesch, wrote that the money should be under city control, even though it has not been previously. “It has recently come to my attention that there has existed for many years the practice of the city delivering to [Keep Mobile Beautiful Inc.] KMBI funds paid by purchasers of recyclables through the city recycling center,” he wrote. “In some cases, checks made payable to the city have been turned over by city employees to KMBI. In other cases, the city has permitted purchasers to deliver to KMBI checks made payable to KMBI.” Under the law, Wesch wrote, the city can’t allow recycling center revenue to be provided to a private entity, like KMBI, without council or mayoral action. “Please treat this letter as a request that KMBI return to the city any funds that it is presently holding that derived from payments made by thirdparty purchasers of city recyclables,” Wesch wrote. “Naturally, any KMBI funds received as grants, private donations or from other income-producing activities should remain the property of KMBI.” Keep Mobile Beautiful is a three-part entity. A city department runs and staffs the recycling center, while two separate boards manage other aspects of the entity. There is a board of commis-

sioners, where members represent council districts and are appointed by councilors, and there is a nonprofit board, known as KMBI. Differing opinions over who should control the money have split the board, Richardson said. “We’re in a little bit of a quagmire,” she said. “There are a lot of split opinions.” The board wants to check whether the administration missed anything in its research of the laws to determine if what Wesch wrote is correct, Richardson said. “We want to do research to find out what’s what,” she said. “We don’t want to do anything illegal.” Commissioners’ opinions on the issue appear to be split as well. Catherine Pierce, a longtime appointee of District 6 Councilwoman Bess Rich, resigned as of Jan. 1 because of the issue. Pierce said the move has “split the board in half.” “We still don’t have a bottom line on what they want,” Pierce said. “It’s like nobody can get a straight answer from anybody.” Meanwhile Devin Ford, the commission’s co-chairwoman, said she would be supportive of anything that helps get more people to recycle. “I want whatever gets us closer to curbside recycling and leads to increased participation in recycling,” she said. City spokeswoman Laura Byrne said the goal of the Stimpson administration is to make Keep Mobile Beautiful more “efficient and effective.” J a n u a r y 1 2 , 2 0 1 7 - J a n u a r y 1 8 , 2 0 1 7 | L AG N I A P P E | 5


Strong arm

if the sales tax would be on the agenda. “He said, ‘Oh no, it won’t be on the agenda. We’re just going to bring it up as an addendum in that meeting on Jan. 3.’ “I said, ‘Well, you can count me out. I sure ain’t going to do that. The people BALDWIN’S PERMANENT TAX VOTE WAS CRAFTED BEHIND CLOSED DOORS got a right to know.’” The agenda for the commission meeting was posted online “late, late BY JANE NICHOLES Friday,” Burt said. The title of the agenda item on the tax did not mention the school system, instead reading “Levy to provide for continuation of sales tax.” hen the smoke cleared on the morning of new, that came into the school system. That’s almost a Learning that at least some school board members and all local legislators Jan. 3, a once-temporary sales tax for Baldwin middle school, what a whole middle school would have. didn’t know about the plan, Burt said he even threatened to leave the meeting County public schools had been made permaAnd it’s getting to be that much every year.” without voting. On the Monday before the meeting, Burt said, he spent 45 minnent by the County Commission. The vote at In early December, Burt said, he was invited to meet utes on the phone with Newton. Burt said Newton called back about 9 p.m. and the commission’s first meeting of the new year came as a with retired superintendent Larry Newton and political said that every school board member would be informed ahead of time and that surprise not just to citizens, but even to some school ofconsultant Jon Gray. The meeting took place in Fairhope. ficials and local legislators. “When we got in there, Larry started his presentation by Tyler and school board president Shannon Cauley would attend the commission meeting. How and why did the penny sales tax abruptly become saying, ‘How would you like it if we could bring someOn Tuesday morning, Tyler was filling in school board members. permanent with little if any public discussion and no refthing to you that would give the County Commission $100 “I got a text message from Eddie Tyler on his way to the meeting,” said erendum? By offering an incentive for the county and by million for roads and bridges over the next 20 years,’” board member Cecil Christenberry. “It came out of left field.” keeping things quiet. Burt recalled. “I said, ‘Well, I’d be a fool if I didn’t say I’d Christenberry said he had never heard that a commission vote was even a “Of course in that first meeting they had, they said, like to know what that might be.’” ‘You can’t talk to anybody about this,’” said CommisGiven the provisions of a state law dating back to 1984, possibility. He said he called board member David Tarwater and learned Tarwater had received a similar text. sioner Frank Burt. Burt said, he thought the original proposal to extend the No one spoke in opposition to the plan during the meeting, though some in sales tax and divert $5 million to the commission would be the Common Sense group said people would have turned out had they known it illegal. Instead, he said, he suggested getting the Legisla‘Let’s help the schools’ was coming. The vote was unanimous. Burt said he prayed about it and voted ture to amend the 1984 law regarding a different sales tax In a back room at Street’s Seafood Restaurant in Bay for it with a clear conscience. that gave 55 percent to the schools and 40 percent to the Minette last week, Burt explained what he knew about commission. the process to several members of the Common Sense Future of new tax uncertain Despite being told not to discuss the matter with anyCampaign TEA Party, a couple of school principals and a County and school system officials were mostly happy with the outcome. one, including local legislators, Burt said he talked with couple of reporters. According to Gruber, one of the biggest benefits to the school system is that two county officials and learned the percentages could be “While we understood the Board of Education’s fears because the tax is now permanent, the school board can use it to back bond reversed with the same approximately $5 million result. about going before the people again, the reality was this Meetings and discussions continued over the rest of the issues for construction projects such as new schools, additions and renovations. really came out of nowhere,” said Lou Campomenosi, Because bonds require a long-term financial commitment, that couldn’t be done month, Burt said. president of the Common Sense Campaign. “The tactics while the tax had an expiration date and might not be renewed. Gray, who was working for the school system, gives In a general email sent to those who subscribe to the school system’s email Newton credit for the entire proposal. “I was hired to put lists, Tyler said school officials were “grateful beyond words.” together a crisis management plan to deal with a $40 milHOW AND WHY DID THE PENNY lion cut to the school system,” Gray said. “Today’s unanimous vote by the commission shows the importance of this long-term fix. Baldwin County has a lot of issues to address as we face amazing There was no support on the part of legislators or the SALES TAX ABRUPTLY BECOME County Commission to extend the tax again, Gray said. growth, but this one has been resolved with today’s action,” Tyler wrote. Burt said the school system needed the tax money and the commission School system officials expected to have to make drastic PERMANENT WITH LITTLE IF ANY PUBLIC cuts that could have included letting go teachers paid with needed a long-term revenue source to build and repair roads and bridges. Christenberry, while surprised by the last-minute notice from Tyler, praised local money and eliminating gifted programs, football DISCUSSION AND NO REFERENDUM? the outcome. “I’m thrilled that the County Commission made that decision,” he and more. Gray’s own children attend Baldwin County said. “It was the right thing to do.” schools, so he took a personal interest as well. BY OFFERING AN INCENTIVE FOR THE But the deal isn’t done. Gray met with former superintendents Faron Hollinger The piece of the plan that gives the county a bigger cut of the older sales COUNTY AND BY KEEPING THINGS QUIET.” and Newton to get a historical perspective. Newton protax still must be approved by the school board, and then the Legislature must posed asking the commission to enact the tax. amend the law. State Sen. Greg Albritton was at the commission meeting, so at Gray’s response: “Asking four Republican officials least one legislator knew something was coming. in the most conservative county in the nation to vote in a involved here smack of what happened in Washington and If everything goes according to plan, the current penny tax would sunset on tax, I just don’t think that’s going to happen.” But Newton in Montgomery. It’s all about draining the swamp.” May 31, 2018, and the tax voted in by the commission would take its place. convinced Gray, and Gray said they needed to start with The penny tax brings in some $40 million annually to School system leaders no longer would have to worry about convincing voters Burt. When Burt agreed, Newton and Gray moved on the a school system that was hit hard by state budget cuts, the to keep renewing it or trying to make drastic budget cuts if it wasn’t renewed. other commissioners. 2008 recession and more recent defeats of proposed propQuestions remain, however. Common Sense members say they aren’t sure the “We did not even tell the superintendent [Eddie Tyler] erty tax increases and even a routine renewal. Meanwhile, deal was legal. Tyler, after issuing his statement on the day of the vote, declined that this was even a possibility until two or three meetings more students are enrolling in Baldwin County public to talk to Lagniappe, saying through a spokesman that he would explain publicly later, because it was so ludicrous,” Gray said. schools as more people move into the county, causing how the plan was put together at the next school board session on Jan. 17. Tuesday, Jan. 3, was the first County Commission overcrowding. Some unrest among citizens regarding how the vote was handled has been meeting date of the new year. But with New Year’s Day The tax was set to expire May 31, 2018, but Commisapparent on social media. sioner Charles “Skip” Gruber said it needed to be renewed on Sunday it was also the day after a Monday holiday. The Everyone involved in the passage of the tax took political risks. Future early enough to ensure there was no disruption in the flow commission normally holds a work session the week before campaign opponents could well make an issue of the commission voting to its regular meeting to discuss possible agenda items and of revenue. essentially extend a tax without key elected officials even knowing it was comother matters. But the work session ahead of that meeting “I think the [commission] leadership said ‘let’s help the ing. The public could have been better informed. had been canceled before the tax vote ever came up. schools, they do have a problem,’” Gruber said. “Looking “This whole thing started and finished within three weeks,” Gray said. Burt said he asked Commission Chairman Chris Elliott at what the growth is, this year alone they had 610 kids,



Conflict of interest




he judge who was scheduled to hear Baldwin County Commission Chairman Chris Elliott’s legal challenge of the suspension of his driver’s license recused himself Friday because Elliott’s attorney is the judge’s brother. Elliott’s civil case was set Monday for a bench trial before Circuit Judge Clark Stankoski. But Stankoski recused himself Friday afternoon because his brother, Rob Stankoski, represents Elliott.

The commissioner was arrested in May in Fairhope on a charge of driving under the influence. He refused a Breathalyzer test, which under state law would have required an automatic 90-day suspension of his driver’s license. Instead, Elliott filed the civil suit against the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency challenging the suspension. Circuit Judge Langford Floyd stayed the suspension until the case could be heard this month.

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Floyd retired in December and Stankoski, who had been a district judge, was appointed recently to fill the vacancy. With his recusal, another judge will have to be assigned to the case and a new trial date set. Rob Stankowski has previously said Elliott is seeking the continuation of his driving privileges because otherwise “he will be unable to work and serve in his elected capacity as a Baldwin County commissioner.” Allegedly, Elliott was arrested for DUI after running a red light more than two hours after the end of the Fairhope Rotary Steak Cook-off May 14. As Lagniappe reported in October, anonymous tips suggested Elliott had actually been at a Fairhope bar following the cook-off and prior to his arrest. Lagniappe also located social media posts from the time in which Elliott’s version of events was publicly called into question. In response, Stankowski said Elliott was sticking by his original story and, further, “facing the consequences of his actions and will not address any of the facts in the past. He does stand by his press release, and looks forward to moving forward and serving his constituents.”


Shoes to fill



t’s been more than three months since Mobile County Commissioners accepted the resignation of longtime engineer Joe Ruffer, but with ongoing discussions about reorganizing the sizable department he left behind, it could be awhile before someone is tapped to fill the position. It’s been decades since they were called “road and bridge commissioners,” but even though the role of county government has evolved over time, the infrastructure and highway projects managed by the engineering department remain a critical part of the commission’s mission. Locally, engineering and public works make up 15 percent of Mobile County’s current budget, and at more than $26 million it was second only to the county’s public safety and law enforcement costs for the 2017 fiscal year. From 1974 until last October, Ruffer oversaw the engineering department. With his departure, commissioners have tossed around the idea of making some changes and are likely willing to spend thousands of dollars on consultants to help in the process. In October, the county sent out requests for proposal to a number of consultants capable of performing “organizational development work,” and according to County Administrator John

HOWEVER, HIS FELLOW COMMISSIONERS DON’T SEEM TO THINK AN ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE OF THE PROPOSED MAGNITUDE IS QUITE THAT SIMPLE. Pafenbach, at least four companies have responded, submitting bids ranging from $30,000 to $150,000. So far no offers have been accepted, and it’s possible the final price could be lower depending on what the selected consultant is actually asked to do. At a Jan. 5 conference meeting, Commissioner Connie Hudson said there were ongoing efforts to make the scope of that work “much more narrow,” which should also reduce the overall price. However, it’s been difficult to get a read on exactly what type “restructuring” the county might be considering — thanks, in part, to restrictions under the Alabama Open Meetings Act limiting public officials’ ability to communicate with one another outside of an advertised meeting. For a three-member body, those restrictions can be even trickier to navigate. “I have some ideas I would like to share with the other commissioners. It’s not a final thought or anything, just a rough sketch, but it’s hard for us to come up with a finished product to present in a situation like this because it’s still far from finished,” Commissioner Jerry Carl said. “From a management standpoint, how are you going to structure something like this without communicating with one another?” In response, County Attorney Jay Ross told Carl he could email his thoughts to the other

commissioners, though he cautioned the commissioners to avoid any direct “back and forth” communication on the issue because it would ultimately be voted on. At this point it’s unclear how Carl will proceed, though he recently said the commission wants to evaluate whether a number of functions that have been consolidated under the engineering department over the years should continue to operate that way. “It’s mostly just looking at the structure — the big pyramid that’s been built here,” Carl said. “It’s not moving things for the sake of moving them, we’re just asking: Does it truly make sense for things like building maintenance, environmental engineering and parks and recreation to all be under the road and bridge department?” Carl said he believes past commissions have tried to consolidate responsibilities over the years so they could work directly with fewer departmental managers. That has often meant delegating more oversight and more responsibilities to engineering and to the county administrator’s office. With a change in leadership, Carl said it’s a good time to see if spreading out those responsibilities might not be a better option, though he has previously stated he doesn’t think hiring a consultant is necessary to get that job done. “I can’t see paying a company to come in — whatever the price is — just to compile that information when we’ve got everything we need here,” he said. “The people that know how to restructure and know what the needs are of the employees themselves, it’s just a matter of communicating with them ourselves and figuring out what their opinions are … If you want the best shovel, you go to a guy who uses a shovel every day.” However, his fellow commissioners don’t seem to think an organizational change of the proposed magnitude is quite that simple. Commission President Merceria Ludgood, who last year said she, too, didn’t “have a need for a consultant,” recently said she now believes bringing in an “independent third party” is the only option that would allow the public works staff to “speak openly” about their ideas and concerns. “They can’t run the process and be involved as well, and the same goes for us,” she said. “To me, that’s the advantage of a third party —  you get somebody who does organizational development work all the time and who knows how to get in there and talk to the right people.” Though she reiterated that the scope of work still needs to be scaled back, Hudson agreed the cost of hiring a third party familiar with best practices and who has done this type of work elsewhere would be “money well spent” for the county. “We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. We’ve all got some ideas of things that we think need to happen, but I think a disinterested third party can come in and help direct that so we’re not all over the place,” Hudson said. “But we do want this process to end sooner as opposed to later.” Meanwhile, Deputy Public Works Director Ricky Mitchell and Assistant County Engineer Bryan Kegley have submitted their names for the full-time position.

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Website suspended



n order issued by Baldwin County Circuit Judge Joseph Norton in early November has resulted in a website run by a Daphne online investigative reporter being taken offline while he is on the run to avoid arrest stemming from his publication of expunged criminal records. Journalist and blogger John Caylor’s website,, was removed from the web by internet domain registrar and host Dec. 20 in response to Norton’s civil suit ruling on behalf of Scott Smith III, a local attorney whose expunged court records were published on the site. In addition to publishing those records pertaining to Smith’s arrest and pretrial diversion in Dothan 14 years ago for alleged possession of methamphetamine, Caylor has made unsubstantiated claims regarding Smith’s supposed connections to criminal enterprise. Caylor has been on the run from Daphne officials since May when he was arrested and charged with a Class B misdemeanor for publishing Smith’s expunged records. A second warrant for his arrest was issued May 4, the morning after a hearing in which Daphne City Judge Michael Hoyt ordered Caylor to remove Smith’s records. Smith filed another complaint against Caylor claiming the records had not been removed. Though the records could not be found on after mid-morning, Hoyt issued another arrest warrant and Caylor fled to Florida. Smith had also filed a civil lawsuit against Caylor — a complaint immediately sealed by Judge Norton. When Caylor failed to show for trial in that case in early November, Norton ruled for Smith and issued a permanent injunction Nov. 4 against Caylor and anyone connected to him or

“working in concert or participation” from posting Smith’s records, linking to them or “in any other way offering the public plaintiff’s expunged record.” Norton also enjoined Caylor and essentially any other media from running Smith’s records or otherwise reporting Caylor’s unsubstantiated assertions about the attorney. Caylor said he believes Norton’s ruling — much like the Alabama law under which he was arrested — is an unconstitutional prior restraint upon his and other media outlets. “Judge Norton is totally out of bounds,” he said. “He has violated his constitutional oath of office to uphold the constitution of the United States and Alabama and he should be removed from office.” Alabama’s expungement law has come under criticism for the article that criminalizes publication of expunged records, as journalism groups and also some legislators believe it indeed represents an unconstitutional prior restraint — meaning the government essentially censoring the publication of certain information. Lagniappe has spoken with some state legislators who believe that portion of the law should be removed in the upcoming session. Norton did not return a call to discuss his ruling and why he does not consider barring other media from publishing Smith’s records, under threat of contempt of court, to be a prior restraint. On the morning of Dec. 16, Caylor said he was arrested by Bay County, Florida, sheriff’s deputies on a warrant regarding his failure to report for probation 10 years ago after being convicted on a misdemeanor in 2006. Caylor said that conviction was for disorderly conduct in the county courthouse when he was unable to obtain public

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records he’d requested regarding the death of Martin Lee Anderson at the county’s juvenile boot camp. Records do indicate Caylor was arrested and ultimately bonded out after spending more than two weeks in jail. He faces a Feb. 1 hearing in Bay County. Norton’s order was served to GoDaddy Dec. 15. Caylor said he had five days to respond but was unable to do so because he was in jail and didn’t even know his website was in danger of being shut down. “I was given no chance to respond. I never even received an abuse report,” he said. “I was sucker punched by Judge Norton.” In an email from GoDaddy, provided by Caylor, the company said because it did not receive any motion objecting to the implementation of Norton’s order, it suspended hosting the site. The email also includes the original abuse report, which itemized the links GoDaddy said needed to be removed from the web. Besides Smith’s records, the complaint pointed out headlines and posts related to unsubstantiated allegations of criminal behavior by Smith and his family. But GoDaddy also said posts about Smith’s boss, Judge Ginny Granade, as well as a recording of a call made by U.S. Marshal Josh Devine to Caylor should be removed as well. Additionally, a photo of Smith in his law school graduation cap and gown posing with U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions was marked for removal. GoDaddy would not offer any specifics about its actions concerning Caylor’s website, and refused to answer whether it was its interpretation of Norton’s ruling that led the company to decide which links should be removed, or if that list was provided by the court or someone else. GoDaddy said its policy is to answer such questions only if subpoenaed. Despite the injunction, Caylor said he is working to get his site back up under and “But a lot of documents I need are locked up by Judge Norton,” he said. Caylor said he believes that by writing about “powerful people” he has become a target and that his arrests last year are proof of that. He said the fact Norton immediately sealed the civil suit against him showed the judge was intent on ultimately having his site taken down. “The wanted all reference to Granade, Josh Devine, Sessions and Smith taken down,” he said. Currently Caylor said he’s practically destitute because of his legal troubles and had to leave Baldwin County to avoid arrest. But he said if the part of the state law that made his actions criminal were repealed, he would come back to Alabama. “If the State Legislature repeals the law, I will come back. I’m going to challenge all the major media of there to expose corruption,” he said.


Power struggle



ver the past few months, Fairhope City Council meetings have gradually grown more contentious as relations between council members and Mayor Karin Wilson deteriorated. On Monday, the fireworks went off. “If y’all are going to micromanage every decision that I make, when we meet twice a month, we’re never going to go anywhere,” Wilson told the council during its work session. “This is ridiculous.” Here’s another sample of dialogue from a 16-minute argument over a contract for a utilities study: Wilson to Councilman Kevin Boone: “Basically, what you’re saying, to everybody, is that you don’t trust my opinion.” Boone: “Pretty much.” Wilson: “So you don’t trust the people that voted me in.” Boone: “No, I don’t trust your opinion.” Tempers flared again during the regular meeting over Wilson’s hiring of a part-time administrative assistant, an unbudgeted, new position. “You can’t hire someone for a job that doesn’t exist,” Council President Jack Burrell said. Wilson said council members question agenda items only “if I put it on there.” The bickering and personal criticism between Wilson and council members, particularly Boone and Burrell, have escalated since Wilson took office in November after defeating longtime Mayor Tim Kant. Those two are the only holdovers from the previous council. Wilson maintains that Fairhope citizens voted for change and she is delivering it. Council members have questioned her closely on creating new positions and on some contracts, although they have not consistently turned down everything she proposed. On Monday, the council overrode Wilson’s recommendation of the Cassady Co. of Northport (near Tuscaloosa) to conduct a study of Fairhope’s sewer, water and gas systems for a fee to be negotiated. Boone insisted the city should use any one of six locally based consultants rather than go out of town, while Wilson repeatedly said the Cassady

firm is local because the owner lives in Fairhope. The council previously refused to consider another consultant whom council members said did not have experience with sewer systems. The study of utilities capacity is considered vital to dealing with city growth issues. Wilson has also repeatedly said she wants “fresh eyes” on city business after years of the Kant administration. As a compromise, Burrell proposed HMR, a local engineering firm that has worked for the Mobile Area Water and Sewer Service but not for Fairhope Utilities. HMR has utility experience and is local, but would also offer a fresh view, Burrell said. Wilson continued to argue, saying council members were obstructing her and delaying the study by complaining about her recommendations for contracts. At one point Burrell accused her of accepting a recommendation from Dean Mosher, a Fairhope artist and historian. Eventually, the council voted to substitute HMR for the Cassady Co. Council members also voted 3-1 against creating the part-time administrative assistant position, which had already been filled by Lynn Maser. Maser has been an active opponent of the Fly Creek apartment project that is now tied up in court through a challenge by local residents. Councilman Jimmy Conner voted for creating the position; Robert Brown was absent. Council members said they had no problem with Maser’s qualifications, but argued the position should have been authorized and budgeted before being filled. According to the agenda packet released to the news media, the salary range is $38,270 to $61,232. The council still has not passed a budget for the fiscal year that began Nov. 1, honoring Wilson’s request to review the budget left by the Kant administration and make adjustments. Wilson Monday described the budget she inherited as “a mess,” and said she needed a larger staff. She said her own full-time administrative assistant and the part-time assistant together make about what Kant’s former full-time assistant was making.

Water, water everywhere



oughly 30 customers were affected by a disruption of service after a water main traveling from Mobile to Spanish Fort broke on New Year’s Day. An official with the Spanish Fort Water System reported that as of Jan. 9 a temporary fix had been put in place and everything was back to normal, while the Mobile Area Water and Sewer System looks for a permanent solution. Terry Evans, superintendent of the SFWS, praised MAWSS’ quick response to the problem, as the break near the boat landing on the causeway on the west side of Interstate 10 was reported about 3 a.m. Jan. 1. Those affected, which included a number of restaurants, experienced the disruption for less than 24 hours, Evans said, as the entities found a temporary solution. He said SFWS installed a device that day to allow them to feed water in the opposite direction through a bypass back toward the causeway. Since, MAWSS has been at work to temporarily replace about 8,000 feet of pipe in the area. Evans said that fix was officially brought online at

5 p.m. Monday, Jan. 9. Finding a permanent solution, though, is crucial as Spanish Fort relies on MAWSS to provide water to a growing customer base. Evans said in the 28 years he’s been with the system, Spanish Fort has grown from 763 customers to 3,377. MAWSS supplies Spanish Fort with more than half of its water, Evans said. The board could look at several options to permanently fix the issue with the high-density polyethylene pipe, MAWSS Assistant Director Doug Cote said. Following a similar break last year on the causeway, Cote said the board could elect to get bids to replace the single pipe with iron ductile pipe. Another option would be to look at all five places where the pipe is underwater and bid for replacement, as there could be some savings through an economy of scale, Cote said. A third option would be to look at the five locations and increase the size of the piping to 24 inches. A fourth option could be to increase the line capacity on a conventional iron ductile line on the western end of the causeway. J a n u a r y 1 2 , 2 0 1 7 - J a n u a r y 1 8 , 2 0 1 7 | L AG N I A P P E | 9




hese presidential Cabinet confirmation hearings are unsettling things at times. Generally they’re either a cakewalk with lots of confetti and blown kisses landing upon the nominee. But sometimes they can turn into particularly horrible instances of figuratively ripping the meat off someone’s bones. While the actual hearing itself hasn’t been too terrible for Sen. Jeff Sessions as he attempts to become the nation’s next attorney general, the lead-up and surrounding furor have once again called attention to just how easy it is in this country to have your very character tarred and feathered in the name of politics. Perhaps I’m being naïve, but the level of antipathy toward Sessions in the wake of his nomination by the highly polarizing President-elect Donald Trump has been surprising. Sure, I was aware of the allegations against Sessions that scuttled his nomination for a federal judgeship 30 years ago and understand why those might have had more weight at that time, as they had taken place in the not-so-distant past. But three decades later it’s not like there’s continued evidence Sessions has been a serial racist. If you believe the things said about him in the ‘80s, does that necessarily mean he’s the same man 30 years later? For much of



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As I read the story it dawned on me that one of those nominees had been our own spanking judge, Herman Thomas. As the writer condemned Sessions for blocking black judges, I was left thinking maybe we owe the senator a thank you for blocking a guy who got in trouble for spanking prisoners, was alleged to have used his power to force them into sex and who remains disbarred to this day because of his actions. I shudder imagining Herman Thomas as a federal judge. Now I’d be amazed if all of the judicial nominees sent up had Thomas’ “checkered” past, but it at least makes you wonder who the others were and whether there were reasons they never got confirmed. It also shows just how much people are willing to overlook to win their political argument. The longest-serving member of the U.S. Senate ever was Robert Byrd of West Virginia, a guy who had been an honest-to-God member of the Ku Klux Klan. Byrd served several top positions in the Senate, including president pro tempore, which put him third in the line of succession to the president after the vice president and speaker of the house. Byrd was also a Democrat. Somewhere along the line his past overt racism became a non-issue to some of the same people who now despise Sessions. I’m not arguing for Sessions’ confirmation or saying he never made inappropriate comments. I really have no idea if he did or didn’t. Hopefully he’ll be a good AG and uphold and interpret the laws in ways that equally protect every American. At the very minimum it would be nice if everyone can at least start living in the present and focus on what he does next.

Cartoon/Laura Rasmussen

the media and most of those who didn’t vote for Trump, the answer seems to be a resounding “yes.” It always goes back to the basic concept that people who hold different political views must essentially be bad people. Conservatives are racists and homophobes. Liberals are communists who want government control of our very thoughts. So sinking the nomination of someone who is a “radical” becomes a matter of great importance, and the methods are justified by the outcome. Think back to how ridiculous U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearing was — hijacked by discussions of a pubic hair on a Coke can and the public outrage over the obvious sexual harassment conducted by the nominee. The whole thing seems silly now, but back then it was a sure sign Thomas would trample women’s rights, you know, so he could make pube jokes. Allegations of racism or sexism are pretty tough things because they stay with you. Thomas has forever been haunted by that Coke can, and Sessions’ alleged racist statements were the first thing dredged up about him when Trump announced his nomination. Certainly a fair look at someone’s record and past statements is warranted when we’re talking about confirming a Supreme Court justice or attorney general, but in this highly politicized time something approaching balance is tough to achieve. Sessions’ opponents have even taken to calling him by his full name, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, just like the Obama birthers loved to call the president Barack Hussein Obama. To some, Sessions’ Southern-sounding name is just more proof he’s racist. A New York Times article even traced it back to the fact that the senator’s grandfather

had been named to honor Confederate President Jefferson Davis. God knows a guy who was probably named in the late 1800s has a lot of bearing on his grandson’s views. As I’ve mentioned here before, I didn’t vote for either of the two major party presidential candidates. And while I worked on Capitol Hill on the same hallway as Sen. Sessions, I’ve never really had much of a conversation with him. He was always very quiet — even in the elevator it was tough to get much out of him. And in nearly 15 years of running this newspaper we’ve never really had much contact. So I have no real feel for his personality. But just based upon what I’ve read about his past and voting record, it’s hard to see some conclusive evidence that he hates African-Americans. Frankly, looking at his record, his accumulation of wealth as a public servant might be a more tangible issue for those on the committee who want to defeat him. Then again there probably aren’t too many members of Congress who want to start peeling the lid off their own personal wealth. That could get ugly in a hurry. By the time this comes out, Sessions most likely will have been confirmed, but at what personal price? He’s moved from being a pretty quiet member of the Senate to the centerpiece in this country’s neverending battle over racism. Another publication in the state wrote a story last week claiming Sessions had blocked all the black nominees the Clinton administration had sent up to fill a federal judgeship in south Alabama. But, as with most things surrounding Sessions’ confirmation, a little context makes such damning points a little less piercing.



Breeders beware of the happiest place on Earth! ASHLEY TRICE/EDITOR/ASHLEYTOLAND@LAGNIAPPEMOBILE.COM


e have been dreading it for almost seven years now, but the time has finally come. We must let go of all of our preconceived notions and prepare ourselves for this journey, which we feel is our duty. We do know it is going to cost us greatly. And will test our patience, kindness and bond as a family unit. But beyond that, we just can’t be sure what will happen. We have been told it will be magical. We have been told it will make us feel like kids again ourselves. We have been told that while it will come at a high price, it will all be worth it when we see the pure bliss on their little faces. We have been told it is truly the happiest place on Earth. Yes, it is our time to load up the family truckster and make the trek to Walt Disney World with the kids. “We will take you when you are 5 and 7,” has always been our standard reply once they started asking. They think it has to do with their heights and ability to appreciate the rides, which it does to some extent. But we also chose those ages because we thought they would still be young enough to enjoy the characters and rides, but old enough to create those magical memories and remember them, so that we may never have to do this again. Look, we may be pleasantly surprised. We know people who go several times a year and they don’t seem like crazy people, so maybe our minds will be “magically” changed. But I think Frank and I are dreading it so because neither of us rank amusement parks or attractions anywhere near the top of our lists of ideal vacations. I want to be on a beach, reading books and trash magazines while my children swim and bury each other in the sand. Maybe we will go out to eat once and to a movie if it rains, but otherwise our plan is to have no plans. #purebliss Frank’s ideal adventure would be a trip to a metropolitan city or some foreign land. He always tries to find interesting things to do to avoid tourist traps and things to do off the beaten path that the “locals” enjoy. So journeying to a place where you have to book things six months in advance and then schedule FastPass rides so you don’t have to stand in line AS LONG, and a place where there are hundreds, if not thousands, of websites and blogs dedicated to telling novices like us how to navigate it so it won’t be miserable — well, that just doesn’t seem very fun to US. But this trip isn’t about us, it’s about them, so we will stand in those lines and buy overpriced plush Mickeys and Elsas and eat the most expensive chicken fingers we have ever eaten in Cinderella’s castle because, by God, this is going to be the best freaking week of their little lives and by the time we are done they are going to feel like the characters in the Disney movies we have watched nine million times over the years. Of course, if Frank and I also start to feel like the parents in these movies, that will not be good for us because that would mean we are probably dead.

Perhaps it is the impending stress of this trip that has caused me to notice this more and more, but Disney murders parents in many of their movies, especially the mothers. If the dad does survive, apparently he can only find homicidal maniacs to date on eHarmony. Think about it. Cinderella loses her mom and dad and is left with an evil stepmother and stepsisters. Bambi. Poor Bambi. Absentee father (typical buck) and mother slaughtered by a hunter. Snow White’s mom? You guessed it. Dead shortly after her birth and of course her dad marries a crazy bitch who talks to a magic mirror and orders some dude to take Snow White out in the woods to kill her. Belle’s mother in “Beauty and the Beast?” Dead as a doornail. Ariel’s mom in “The Little Mermaid?” Yeah, poor Queen Athena was killed by pirates who invaded their cove. We know what happens to Simba’s dad in “The Lion King.” But at least they finally killed a daddy. Speaking of paternal death, in “The Good Dinosaur” the dinosaur’s pops is swept away in a flood as he watches. He then meets a “caveboy,” whose parents are both taking a dirt nap. Elsa and Anna’s parents in “Frozen?” Tragically lost at sea. Mowgli’s parents lost him in the jungle. And I don’t think Tarzan’s parents fared much better. Sofia the First probably wouldn’t have become “a princess overnight” if her own dad hadn’t died (presumably) so her mom could marry a bachelor king with two kids whose wife is certainly six feet under as well. No sign of Andy’s father in “Toy Story.” Probably an unfortunate accident involving that reckless pizza delivery driver. And probably why poor Andy is so attached to a male toy/ cowboy role model that he considers taking Woody to college with him. #weird #dontshowwoodytoyourroommate #daddyissues Mickey and Minnie’s folks? I’m guessing traps or poison. I’m not sure if Lightning McQueen has parents, but if he does I’m quite certain they’re rusting away in a junkyard. It’s crazy! And yeah, yeah, yeah, I know Disney didn’t write all of these tales but they certainly chose to adapt even the ones they didn’t pen themselves. Should we be nervous to take the kids to a place where parental death is so celebrated? With kingdoms full of orphaned characters roaming around? I sure hope they are engaging in group therapy after the park closes every night. It just seems a bit morbid and sad to me. Are they sure it isn’t the most depressing place on Earth? I don’t know. I am sure it will be grand and Frank and I will probably survive (as they’ll need us to pay for things). And we may even love it too. But just to be safe, I think it may be wise for us to stay away from the Jungle Cruise and anything involving pirates.

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here is a strange thing going on in our culture right now. Many of the country’s long-held traditions and norms are targets for reform and even elimination. This phenomenon has not been decided democratically. Instead, elites and academics are having some of the most powerful voices about what does and does not belong. Sometimes it is done in the name of political correctness and sometimes it is done just because we’re told it is the right thing to do by someone who says they are smarter than the rest of us. For example, take Common Core. Someone, somewhere devised this new method of educating school children. Yes, there are some strange elements to it, including the math curriculum and the PC reading assignments. All of this is done in the name of our country needing across-the-board standards. The goal is noble. However, in practice the system acts to facilitate a limited, groupthink mentality. If every child in public schools across the country is taught from the same textbooks in the same way, ultimately the outcome will be having a product of like-minded individuals.

Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox. Will doing away with these gestures really heal the nation anymore, or is it just an effort by elites to flex their intellectual muscle and tell us plebes what we can and cannot do? My guess is the latter. It is a fair argument to have: Do we want to honor those that fought for slavery and against the U.S.? Just because it is an interesting thought experiment, however, does not mean we should start taking down symbols like ISIS on the rampage in Mesopotamia’s cradle of civilization. Why did our elected leaders want to name a park after Jefferson Davis? Was it done out of pure racial animosity, or did the South still have a chip on its shoulder from the Civil War? That is the kind of nuance that is lacking in this whitewashing of history. It has been taken to a silly extreme in some cases. Watching reruns of the 1970s CBS program “The Dukes of Hazard” is taboo because the sensitivity police assumed that seeing the Confederate flag painted on top of a car might inspire some sort of racist hatred, which is silly. It is not as if Bo and Luke Duke were riding around in the General Lee campaigning against affirmative action. SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE DEVISED THIS It was a different time. Just as “Amos ‘n’ NEW METHOD OF EDUCATING SCHOOL Andy” is not a show CHILDREN. YES, THERE ARE SOME STRANGE ELEthat has broad appeal in 2017, watching it still MENTS TO IT, INCLUDING THE MATH CURRICUcan be useful in that you understand the mindset LUM AND THE PC READING ASSIGNMENTS. ALL of the time and why we OF THIS IS DONE IN THE NAME OF OUR COUNTRY as a society should never return to that mindset. NEEDING ACROSS-THE-BOARD STANDARDS.  Why some things are allowed and some things are not goes a step Regardless your ideology, do we really want further. It isn’t just guilt for a past that most an all-powerful central government potentially had nothing to do with. It is an anger toward programming an entire generation? Historithe past. cally, that doesn’t turn out well. The left now sees anything that runs conMore troubling, perhaps, is what appears trary to its goal of advancing an aggressively to be an overall effort to purge the annals of politically correct culture as a target for reform. history. We have to be sensitive about how we Arguably, the darkest chapter in United convey greetings around Christmas. We have States history was slavery and the Civil War. to rethink who we honor on our currency. We It’s difficult to fully understand the mindset cannot be provocative by wearing clothing that of the time and the motivations of the men could be interpreted as having some sort of that took up arms and fought for the Confedmasculine or political message. eracy. We know the history and the troubling It is borderline Orwellian. Are we to believe motivations. There is value in knowing and putting certain forms of expression down the remembering the past, even if it is ugly. As the memory hole will better society? cliché goes, “Those who do not learn history Last summer at Yale University, there was are doomed to repeat it.” an effort underway to end the requirement EngThere is, however, an ongoing effort to lish students study writers as such as Chaucer, erase all reminders of the Confederacy.   Milton and Shakespeare. Yes, public officials throughout the South For what reason? Such a requirement post-Civil War probably wanted the symbolic failed to meet the ideals of diversity. Perhaps F.U. to the Union. They probably overdid it we needed to exchange that requirement for by building all the county courthouses facing in-depth studies of Maya Angelou and Emily south, naming thousands of governmentBronte, because why have a bunch of white funded entities after Confederate war heroes men from centuries ago shape our understandand honoring the Confederacy with state holiing of the English language? days, as in Alabama. Nothing is sacred anymore. Everything is It has been almost 152 years since Gen. fair game.

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uring the intense summer of 2013, made so by the societal heat and friction caused by the George Zimmerman trial, President Barack Obama spoke to the nation on July 19, a week after Zimmerman was acquitted by a Florida jury in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. As always, his words were thoughtful, yet measured, meant to heal, not wound. Yet Tavis Smiley declared the president’s speech was “as weak as pre-sweetened Kool-Aid.” He continued: “I appreciate and applaud the fact that the president did finally show up. But he did not walk to the podium for an impromptu address to the nation. He was pushed to that podium. A week of protests outside the White House, pressure building on him inside the White House, pushed him to that podium.” Also addressing the president’s remarks, Cornel West stated, “[Obama] hasn’t said a word until now, five years in office and can’t say a word about the new ‘Jim Crow’ … Obama and [Attorney General Eric] Holder, will they come through at the federal level for Trayvon Martin? We hope so, but don’t hold your breath … President Obama is a global George Zimmerman.” At first enthralled by the new president, Smiley and West, two titans and icons of black American intellectualism, turned into two of his most vocal critics. They accused him of not being forceful, vocal and prophetic enough when it came to standing up and speaking up for black Americans, and his response to the Zimmerman acquittal was further proof. Conversely, at the same time President Obama was being blasted by people like West and Smiley, many on the right were accusing him of being a “race baiter,” “racial

agitator” or, in some cases, a flat-out “racist” who “hated white people.” Our first black president, who never, ever appealed to or tried to incite black anger, but valiantly tried to give voice to black pain in order to further a sense of national understanding and unity, often saw his words and actions twisted out of context by those who felt he should never broach the subject of race at all, and by those who felt he didn’t say enough. If Obama’s election ushered in talk and thinking of a possible post-racial America, our first biracial president found out firsthand that such a time had not yet arrived. As the brilliant scholar Michael Eric Dyson pointedly stated, “Obama had always to field demands from some blacks to be blacker, and the wish of many whites to whitewash the story of American race and politics.” If, as has been said, optimism and perseverance are two essential traits of leadership, President Obama embodied both. His ever-present warm and beaming smile, along with words that were consistently hopeful and pointed toward the possibilities of what could be — of what the nation could accomplish with a spirit of togetherness — never faded from his lexicon. In the face of unprecedented intransigence and obstructionism, he persevered. Although the opposing party’s leadership stated early on that its main goal was to oppose basically everything the president wanted to do — or, in the words of retired Ohio Sen. George Voinovich, “If he was for it, we had to be against it.” — still, he persevered. The governor of Arizona was pictured wagging her finger in his face while talking to him. During his first State of the Union address, an opposition party member shouted that he was a liar. Still, he persevered.

Through so many personal slights, insults and disparagements, President Obama not only persevered, but did what would probably have been hard for many of us: he never became bitter, never allowed his inner light and optimism to be extinguished. He was a walking example of how to deal with adversity and ill-natured people. For someone who was so comfortable and well-versed in the language, culture and nuances of black Christianity, he was strangely accused of being a Muslim. Yet it was his rooted connection to the black Christian tradition that led him, after delivering the eulogy for nine black parishioners who were

MORE IMPORTANTLY, WHENEVER YOU SAW THE FIRST COUPLE THERE WAS NO DOUBT YOU WERE LOOKING AT TWO PEOPLE WHO WERE IN LOVE AND LOVED THE CHILDREN THEY BROUGHT INTO THIS WORLD. THEY EPITOMIZED AMERICAN FAMILY VALUES. NO SALACIOUS SCANDALS. NO TARNISHING IMPROPRIETIES. ” murdered in their church by a deranged individual, to begin singing the hymn “Amazing Grace.” It moved the soul and teared the eyes of many. Finishing, he stated, “May God continue to shed his grace on the United States of America.” (Emphasizing the word “United.”) The beautiful first couple made the White House truly the “People’s House” by opening its doors to host a multitude of children, groups, artists and events that communicated it may be the Obamas’ residence, but it was the nation’s home. More importantly, whenever you saw the first couple there was no doubt you were looking at two people who were in love and loved the children they brought into this world. They epitomized American family values. No salacious scandals. No tarnishing improprieties. President Obama recently stated, “At some level, what the people want to feel is that the person leading them sees the best in them.” And in seeing the best in us, he and his wife tried to reflect that by displaying and embodying what is good and best about America. One may differ on his policies, and that’s OK. But what can’t be disputed is that as he gets ready to exit the national stage and pass on the baton of leadership, he does so in a way and with a legacy that, for the good, is worth remembering.

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labama has had a long history of protest and civil disobedience. In fact, even today the city of Montgomery markets itself as the “cradle of the Confederacy” and the “birthplace of the civil rights movement,” all in one breath. Our state motto is “We dare defend our rights,” and while Alabamians from Huntsville to Mobile may disagree on which of those rights to fiercely defend and which to merely tolerate, there’s no doubt that the Heart of Dixie has a culture — at least in thought and theory — that recognizes the importance of political passion and protest. Today that culture is withering. Since 2010, when Republicans gained complete political dominance over the state, saying of previous Democratic control “136 years is long enough,” accountability has been nonexistent on Goat Hill. The man who ran that 2010 “storming” of the State House, Mike Hubbard, is now a convicted felon, having been removed from his office as Speaker of the House after using it for personal gain. The newly re-elected Republican governor, Robert Bentley, has been involved in an ongoing personal and political scandal involving his extramarital dalliances while in office. And, of course, Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore, also Republican, has been suspended from office — for the second time — after effectively ignoring the U.S. Supreme Court. It took Alabama Democrats 136 years to become as corrupt as the Republicans have in less than a decade. And during all this time, there have been few bright spots in Alabama’s ever-darkening political prison. Instead, the public has seemed to take a somewhat different

approach, not protesting and resisting those we all know to be violating our trust — at least not in the usual sense. After former Speaker Hubbard had already been indicted on a dozen felony charges, he was re-elected to the same post. Was the public endorsing his actions? I think not. Rather, it was because the vast majority of people in his district protested in another way: by sitting at home and not voting at all. That may have resulted in Hubbard’s

ON JAN. 3, LEADERS OF THE NAACP … LED BY NATIONAL PRESIDENT CORNELL WILLIAMS BROOKS, BEGAN A SIT-IN IN THE OFFICE THAT LASTED OVER SEVEN HOURS AND ENDED WITH THE ARREST OF SIX. ” continued service in office, at least until his conviction on a handful of those charges, but it also sent the message many of those who skipped the polls that Election Day had in mind: The system is broken. That type of protest has its place, because the system is indeed broken. But it’s possible, even probable, that such passive protest has put blinders on us, and that we should take them off. On Jan. 3, leaders of the NAACP held press confer-

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ences throughout the state protesting President-elect Donald Trump’s choice of U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama to be the next U.S. Attorney General. After their press conference outside Sessions’ office here in Mobile, well over a dozen NAACP members, led by national President Cornell Williams Brooks, began a sit-in in the office that lasted over seven hours and ended with the arrest of six. That protest was, of course, an actual action — an act of civil disobedience hinged on the idea that nonviolent political pressure, not passivity, progresses and strengthens democracy. But it’s a protest not unlike that of those who stayed home for the re-election of Mike Hubbard. Removing our blinders, we can see that protest in Alabama takes many forms. While our state’s culture of protest may have waned, it’s a foundation we’ll never break down, and upon which we should always look to build. So Alabama has something to learn from those arrested in Mobile on Jan. 3 — the Sessions Six. What the Sessions Six peacefully did that day — and continue to do with their active opposition to Sessions’ nomination, voiced in sincerity and substance — is another chapter in Alabama’s long history described above. “We are about to be arrested,” Brooks told the room before he and others knelt in prayer and then surrendered to authorities. “We are doing this as an act of civil disobedience standing in the tradition of Rosa Parks and members of the NAACP community.” Whether or not you agree Jeff Sessions should ascend to the office of U.S. attorney general, it’s difficult to disagree with Brooks’ words. The actions of the Sessions Six — like those of former NAACP secretary Rosa Parks — make Alabama great, and make America great. Political protest is an Alabama value, and it’s something that certainly lives on. In Montgomery recently I rode by the bench where Parks got on the bus she’d later refuse to vacate, just days after I’d sat in Sessions’ Mobile office for hours, awaiting the arrests that would ultimately come. Those events — separated by years of struggle and strides, and of pain and progress — resonate with me as what make Alabama what it is. As I passed by that bench, and then the capitol, its dome glowing with light and controversy, I realized that the Yellowhammer State’s culture of passion and protest is one of its true strengths, one we can’t afford to let die. Instead, Alabamians should stand up for whatever rights they value, and defend them, because we can’t afford anything less. One day, Montgomery may truly represent the public, always keeping our best interests in mind. Until then, though, political talk is cheap. Protest and participation is where real change starts, and it can even happen in the State House. If you’ll go, I’ll go: Meet me in Montgomery.




lans are in place for the 170-year-old Grand Hotel Marriott Resort, Golf Club & Spa in Point Clear to undergo major remodeling in the next 16 months. “From redesigning meeting space and guest rooms to enhancing the resort’s legendary service and culinary options, this historic legend will take Southern hospitality to a higher level,” Tony Davis, CEO of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail Resort Collection, said. All work is expected to be completed by spring 2018. “The Grand Hotel has played a major role in the region historically, socially and financially. After much research and planning, the next chapter in the Grand’s history is being written. Over the coming months, buildings will be transformed one at a time to minimize guest disruption during the process,” Davis said. “In April 2018, the Grand Hotel will reach an even higher pinnacle of hospitality excellence when the resort joins the Autograph Collection of hotels.” Per a news release, the Autograph Collection properties are a high-end, international group of hotels located in preferred sites worldwide. The general remodeling schedule will be rolled out as follows: Phase 1 — South Bay, North Bay, Marina House construction, planned for completion by spring 2017; Phase 2 — Conference Center, to be completed in phases by the end of 2017. Rooms in the 20,000-square-foot Spa Building will be renovated but the building’s overall design will remain unchanged. The Grand Hotel currently has 405 guest rooms. The remodel will utilize three guest room designs (not including suites). Design One will cover 225 rooms in South Bay, North Bay and Marina House. Design Two will encompass

126 rooms in the Spa Building. Design Three will impact 54 rooms in the Grand Hotel’s historic main building. Collectively, the property has 37,000 square feet of meeting space, all of which will be renovated during 2017. The property opened a new golf practice facility last year and has 22,000 square feet of USGA greens surfaces, a two-acre short game area and a 1,500-square-foot range house. Renovations to the Lakewood Club’s Azalea and Dogwood courses are planned in the future. The Grand Hotel and the other seven properties in the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail Resort Collection are owned by Retirement Systems of Alabama. The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail is celebrating its 25th year in 2017. The architect handling the redesign is Montgomerybased Goodwyn, Mills & Cawood Inc. Jesco Inc. is the general contractor on the project and is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Yates Cos. based in Philadelphia, Mississippi.  Established in 1847, The Grand Hotel resort has received national honors from USA Today, Travel + Leisure, Condé Nast Traveler, Tennis Magazine, Successful Meetings, Meetings Today and other national publications. The Grand Hotel sits on a 550-acre property, is a member of Historic Hotels of America and was named its top historic hotel in 2013.

FedEx expanding at Brookley

The Mobile Airport Authority recently announced in a news release that FedEx is concluding a series of investments in its Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley site. The new facility will combine once-separate functions under one roof, enabling the Aeroplex to optimize valuable ramp space. Growth also includes a new area for package sorting and expanded employee parking. The facility is also seeing growth in FedEx cargo air-

craft traffic servicing the area. An ATR-manufactured turboprop “coastal feeder” aircraft is now scheduled to arrive regularly, providing increased service to the central Gulf Coast. The expansion represents a multi-million-dollar investment in Mobile, according to the news release, and also represents a commitment from FedEx to remain in the area for the foreseeable future. “We applaud FedEx for its commitment to its employees as well as its commitment to our aviation and automotive sectors,” MAA executive director Roger Wehner said. “The coastal feeder represents increased air cargo capacity for the Gulf Coast and this partnership is the first byproduct of our enhanced air cargo growth strategy.”

Commercial real estate moves

A hotel developer purchased a 2.2-acre parcel behind South Landing on Old Shell Road where it plans to build a Holiday Inn Express with approximately 100 rooms. This will be the first hotel near the University of South Alabama campus used primarily for patrons visiting the campus for business and sporting events. Purchase price for the property was $775,000. Pete Riehm with NAIMobile represented the buyer and Tim Herrington of Herrington Realty worked for the seller. Lyle Machinery recently purchased a 13,800-square-foot building located on 5.5 acres at 5340 Halls Mill Road in Mobile. Justin Toomey, associate broker with Stirling Properties, handled the transaction. Title Guaranty and Abstract handled the title work. Lyle Machinery will be relocating from its current space at 1951 W. I-65 Service Road N. to the new site in early 2017. Steinway & Sons recently announced the opening of a new locally owned, factory-authorized dealership and gallery in Spanish Fort. Steinway Piano Gallery Spanish Fort will serve southern Alabama and the Florida Panhandle with sales and service of the entire line of Steinway pianos. The new location is locally owned and operated by Christy Broussard Myers and her husband, Chris Myers. To celebrate its first location in Alabama, Steinway Piano Gallery will hold a grand opening celebration Friday, Jan. 13, from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., featuring a full day of musical events.  The Swift-Coles House in Bon Secour and the Jenkins Family Farm House in Loxley are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. McNair Historic Preservation represented the property owners and completed all necessary research, drawings and applications, as required by the National Park Service. According to Stephen McNair, owner of McNair Historic Preservation, the Swift-Coles house was built in 1882, expanded in 1902 and 1910, and has now transitioned into a public house museum. The Jenkins Family Farm House has been owned and operated continuously by the Jenkins family since 1915.

J a n u a r y 1 2 , 2 0 1 7 - J a n u a r y 1 8 , 2 0 1 7 | L AG N I A P P E | 15

5319 Hwy 90 • 661-0071 1225 Satchel Page Dr.• 378-8768


$10/PERSON $$ 10-25/PERSON $$$ OVER 25/PERSON


ALL SPORTS BAR & GRILL ($) CLASSIC HOTDOGS, GYROS & MILKSHAKES. 3408 Pleasant Valley Rd • 345-9338

FAMOUS CHICKEN FINGERS. 310 S. University Blvd. • 343-0047 2250 Airport Blvd. • 479-2922 7641 Airport Blvd. • 607-7667 2558 Schillinger Rd. • 219-7761 3249 Dauphin St. • 479-2000





211 Dauphin St. • 690-7482


BAKERY, SANDWICHES AND MORE 750 S. Broad St • 438-1511, 4464 Old Shell Road • 342-8546, 107 St. Francis St. Suite 102 • 438-2261

REGINA’S KITCHEN ($-$$) SANDWICHES, SUBS AND SOUPS. 2056 Gov’t St. • 476-2777


WRAPS & SALADS. 3220 Dauphin St. • 479-2480

HOMEMADE SOUPS & SANDWICHES 65 Government St • 208-6815


SEAFOOD AND SANDWICHES 212 ½ Fairhope Ave • 928-4100


SEAFOOD, SANDWICHES, SALADS & SOUPS. 4513 Old Shell Rd. • 408-9622


MIND-BLOWING ISLAND FOOD. 3700 Gov’t Blvd. Ste A • 602-1973

SANDWICHES, SOUTHWEST FARE, 7 DAYS. 1203 Hwy 98 Ste. 3D, Daphne • 626-2440

SAUCY Q BARBQUE ($) AWARD-WINNING BARBQUE. 1111 Gov’t Blvd. • 433-7427


3758 Dauphin Island Pkwy. • 473-1401


FAST BBQ W/ DRIVE-THRU 3249 Dauphin St. • 652-3508





216 St Francis St. • 421-2022

323A De La Mare Ave, Fairhope • 990-0003 1104 Dauphin St.. • 478-9494


LIVE MUSIC, MARTINIS & DINNER MENU. 26 N. Royal St. • 338-2000




A PREMIER CATERER & COOKING CLASSES. 1880-A Airport Blvd. • 450-9051



3964 Gov’t Blvd. • 378-8083

273 S. McGregor Ave • 287-0555, 6345 Airport Blvd. • 287-0555, 940 Industrial Pkwy • 308-2158


9091 US-90 Irvington • 957-1414



JAPANESE CUISINE. 3654 Airport Blvd. S. C • 725-6078

7 SPICE ($-$$)


CORNER 251 ($-$$)




DAUPHIN’S ($$-$$$)


AUTHENTIC SUB SANDWICHES 7449 Airport Blvd • 375-1820




FIVE ($$)

CAFE 219 ($)

SANDWICHES, CATERING & DELIVERY TOO. 6920 Airport Blvd. • 414-5444 9 Du Rhu Dr. • 340-8694 62 B Royal Street • 432-0360




PIZZAS, SANDWICHES, COCKTAILS. 26 N. Royal St. • 338-2000


HOME COOKING. 4054 Government St. • 665-4557


PUB FOOD AND DRAFT BEERS 251 Dauphin St • 287-6871


SLAP YOUR MAMA GOOD HOME COOKING. 220 Dauphin St. • 432-6262


GREAT SANDWICHES, COFFEE & MORE. 1087 Downtowner Blvd. • 643-1611


CLASSIC HOTDOGS, GYROS & MILKSHAKES. 4701 Airport Blvd. • 342-3243

ATLANTA BREAD COMPANY ($-$$) SANDWICHES, SALADS & MORE. 3680 Dauphin St. • 380-0444




DAILY SPECIALS MADE FROM SCRATCH. 57 N. Claiborne St. • 694-6853.


GOOD OLD AMERICAN COOKING 263 St. Francis St • 405-1497 SALADS, SANDWICHES & POTATO SALAD. 219 Conti St. • 438-5234 CONTEMPORARY SOUTHERN FARE. 61 Section St., Fairhope • 928-4321 MOBILE’S CLASSIC ICE CREAM SPOT. 2511 Old Shell Rd. • 471-1710

DELI FOODS, PASTRIES & SPECIALTY DRINKS. 4072 Old Shell Rd. • 304-0448 SANDWICHES, SOUTHERN CUISINE & CATERING 5817 Old Shell Rd. • 343-0200 QUICHES & SANDWICHES. 4366 Old Shell Rd. • 343-9889

CHICKEN SALAD CHICK ($) CHICKEN SALAD, SALAD & SOUP. 2370 S. Hillcrest Rd. Unit R • 660-0501 5753 Old Shell Road • 408-3236, 1802 US Hwy 98 Suite F• 625-1092

CHI-TOWN DAWGZ ($) CHICAGO STYLE EATERY 1222 Hillcrest Rd. • 461-6599


COFFEE, BREAKFAST, LUNCH, DESSERT 351 George St #B • 405-0003


HOT LUNCH, DAILY MENU (INSIDE VIA) 1717 Dauphin St. • 470-5231


PHILLY CHEESE STEAKS, GYROS & MORE. 7101-A Theodore Dawes Rd. • 653-2979



CLASSIC BURGERS, HOTDOGS & SETTING. 1808 Old Shell Rd. • 473-7872


DONUTS, COFFEE AND SANDWICHES 1976 Michigan Ave • 442-4846 3876 Airport Blvd • 219-7369 505 Schillinger Rd. S. • 442-4845 29160 US Hwy 98 • 621-2228


195 S University Suite H • 662-1829


HOT SUBS, COLD SALADS & CATERING. 6300 Grelot Rd. • 631-3730







MARY’S SOUTHERN COOKING ($) 3011 Springhill Ave. • 476-2232

HOMEMADE LUNCH & BREAKFAST. 104 N. Royal St. • 434-0011

HIGH QUALITY FOOD AND DRINKS 251 Government St • 460-3157

COFFEE, SMOOTHIES, LUNCH & BEERS. 5460 Old Shell Rd. • 344-4575

COFFEE, LUNCHES, LIVE MUSIC & GELATO. 3 Royal St. S. • 415-3000 SANDWICHES, SOUPS, SALADS & MORE. 41 West I-65 Service Rd. N Suite 150. INSIDE VIRGINIA’S HEALTH FOOD 3055 A Dauphin St • 479-3200

TIN ROOF ($-$$)

SOUTHERN CASUAL FAMILY DINING 10800 US hwy 31 • 621-4995

TP CROCKMIERS ($) AMERICAN RESTAURANT & BAR 250 Dauphin St. • 476-1890


HOTDOGS SANDWICHES & COOL TREATS 3371 Dauphin Island Pkwy • 300–4015

MOMMA GOLDBERG’S DELI ($) SANDWICHES & MOMMA’S LOVE. 3696 Airport Blvd. • 344-9500 5602 Old Shell Rd. • 287-6556

MONTEGO’S ($-$$)

FRESH CARIBBEAN-STYLE FOOD & CRAFT BEER. 6601 Airport Blvd. • 634-3445 225 Dauphin Street • 375-1576

MOSTLY MUFFINS ($) MUFFINS, COFFEE & WRAPS. 105 Dauphin St. • 433-9855


OVEN-BAKED SANDWICHES & MORE. 252 Azalea Rd. • 341-3533, 1335 Satchel Page Dr. Suite C. • 287-7356 7440 Airport Blvd. • 633-0096 30500 State Hwy 181 #132 • 625-6544



GREAT LUNCH & DINNER. 3607 Old Shell Rd. • 445-8700

NOBLE SOUTH ($$) LOCAL INGREDIENTS 203 Dauphin St. • 690-6824



WILD WING STATION ($) 1500 Gov’t St. • 287-1526


AUTHENTIC FOODS FROM HIMALAYAN REGION. 3210 Dauphin St. • 287-0115 400 Eastern Shore Center • 459-2862


BACKYARD CAFE & BBQ ($) HOME COOKIN’ LIKE MOMMA MADE. 2804 Springhill Ave. • 473-4739



BBQ AND MORE. Jubilee Sq.Ctr. Hwy 90, Daphne • 210-2151 McGowin Park Ctr. Satchel Paige Dr. • 471-1050 7721 Airport Blvd • 380-8957


RIBS, SANDWICHES & GREAT SIDES. 3314 Old Shell Rd. • 479-9898


16 | L AG N I A P P E | J a n u a r y 1 2 , 2 0 1 7 - J a n u a r y 1 8 , 2 0 1 7

FRIED, GRILLED, STEAMED & ALWAYS FRESH. 3300 River Rd. • 973-9070






MEDITERRANEAN SANDWICH COMPANY ($) GREAT & QUICK. 274 Dauphin St. • 545-3161 2502 Schillinger Rd. Ste. 2 • 725-0126 6890 US-90 (DAPHNE) • 621-2271



BAMBOO BISTRO ($$) 3662 Airport Blvd. • 378-5466


A HISTORIC SEAFOOD DIVE W/ LIVE MUSIC. 3775 Hwy. 98 • 625-1998 ECLECTIC DINING & SPACE. 6955 Airport Blvd. • 633-7196

QUALITY CAJUN & NEW ORLEANS CUISINE. 29249 US Highway 98 Daphne. • 621-1991

CRAVIN CAJUN/DIP SEAFOOD($) PO-BOYS, SALADS & SEAFOOD. 1870 Dauphin Island Pkwy • 287-1168



FELIX’S FISH CAMP ($$) UPSCALE DINING WITH A VIEW. 1420 Hwy. 98 • 626-6710

FISHERMAN’S LEGACY ($) DELI, MARKET AND CATERING. 4380 Halls Mill Rd. • 665-2266

THE GRAND MARINER ($-$$) LOCAL SEAFOOD & PRODUCE. 6036 Rock Point Rd. • 443-5700

THE HARBOR ROOM ($-$$) UNIQUE SEAFOOD. 64 S. Water St. • 438-4000


2400 Airport Blvd. • 307-5535


Sushi Bar. 650 Cody Rd. S • 300-8383


DELICIOUS, TRADITIONAL THAI CUISINE. 3821 Airport Blvd. • 344-9995

LULU’S ($$)

EXCEPTIONAL SERVICE & TASTE. 271 Glenwood St. • 476-0516

INSIDE THE MOBILE MARRIOTT. 3101 Airport Blvd. • 476-6400

SAISHO ($-$$)




TAMARA’S DOWNTOWN ($$) CASUAL FINE DINING. 104 N. Section St., Fairhope • 929-2219

ZEA’S ($$)

DOWNTOWN LUNCH 101 N. Conception St. • 545-4682




GUMBO, ANGUS BEEF & BAR. 72. S. Royal St. • 432-SCAM (7226)

AUTHENTIC VIETNAMESE CUISINE. 763 Holcombe Ave. • 478-5814

AUTHENTIC TURKISH & MEDITERRANEAN 3702 Airport Blvd. • 461-6901

SUPREME EUROPEAN CUISINE. 2579 Halls Mill Rd. • 479-0006

A FAVORITE BARBECUE SPOT. 5456 Old Shell Rd. • 343-0001


BEEF, LAMB & SEAFOOD. 4356 Old Shell Rd. • 340-6464





INVENTIVE & VERY FRESH CUISINE. 6 N. Jackson St. • 433-0377

BBQ, BURGERS, WINGS & SEAFOOD 19170 Hwy 43 Mt. Vernon. • 839-9927

BARBEQUE & MUSIC. Bayfront Park Dr., Daphne • 625-RIBS 701 Springhill Ave. • 410-7427 4672 Airport Blvd. • 300-8516

CHICKEN FINGERS, SALAD & SANDWICHES. 1165 University Blvd. • 202-0959



ORIGINAL SANDWICH AND BAKE SHOP. 42 ½ Section St., Fairhope • 929-0122 102 Dauphin St. • 405-0031

PDQ ($)

CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN FOOD. 351A George & Savannah St. • 436-8890




GREAT FOOD AND COCKTAILS 609 Dauphin St. • 308-3105

GREAT SMOOTHIES, WRAPS & SANDWICHES. Du Rhu Dr. • 378-5648 570 Schillinger Road • 634-3454




SERVING LOCAL SEAFOOD & PRODUCE 167 Dauphin St. • 458-9573

NOJA ($$-$$$)

COFFEE AND DONUTS 759 Nichols Avenue, Fairhope • 928-7223

AUTHENTIC IRISH PUB 101 N. Bancroft St • 990-5100

HIGH QUALITY FOOD WITH A VIEW 107 St. Francis St • 444-0200

LIGHT LUNCH WITH SOUTHERN FLAIR. 226 Dauphin St. • 433-6725

2550 Dauphin Island Pkwy S. • 307-5328

FIVE GUYS BURGERS & FRIES ($) 271 Dauphin St • 438-9585 BURGERS, MILKSHAKES & FRIES 4401 Old Shell Rd. • 447-2394 4663 Airport Blvd. • 300-8425

LUNCH & DINNER. 3004 Gov’t Blvd • 287-1220

GRILLED STEAKS, CHICKEN & SEAFOOD. 720A Schillinger Rd. S. S2. • 607-7200 901 Montlimar Dr • 408-3133


6358 Cottage Hill Rd. • 725-6917


CONTEMPORARY SOUTHERN CUISINE Battle House Hotel, Royal St. • 338-5493 GOURMET ROTISSERIE. PRIME RIB & SEAFOOD. 4671 Airport Blvd. • 344-7414


WINE, BEER, GOURMET FOODS, & MORE. 720 Schillinger Rd. S. Unit 8 • 287-1851


A TAPAS RESTAURANT & COCKTAILS 64 S. Water St. • 438-4000


FOOD, WINE AND MORE. 5150 Old Shell Rd. • 341-1497


WINE BAR, CRAFT BEERS & BISTRO 6808 Airport Blvd. • 343-3555


TRADITIONAL SUSHI & LUNCH. 312 Schillinger Rd. • 633-9077

HALF SHELL OYSTER HOUSE ($) 3654 Airport Blvd. • 338-9350

GULF COAST CUISINE, REINVENTED. 200 E. 25th Ave., Gulf Shores • 967-5858 LIVE MUSIC & GREAT SEAFOOD. 200 E. 25th Ave., Gulf Shores • 967-5858

MUDBUGS AT THE LOOP ($) CAJUN KITCHEN & SEAFOOD MARKET. 2005 Government St. • 478-9897


RALPH & KACOO’S ($-$$)

CHARM ($-$$)

R&R SEAFOOD ($-$$)





THAI & SUSHI 5369 D Hwy 90 W • 661-5100 THAI KITCHEN AND SUSHI BAR 960 Schillinger Rd. S • 660-4470 LUNCH BUFFET 3674 Airport Blvd. • 341-6171

THAI FARE AND SUSHI 2000 Airport Blvd. • 478-9888


HIBACHI GRILL & ASIAN CUISINE. 309 Bel Air Blvd • 470-8033

HIBACHI 1 ($-$$)

2370 Hillcrest Rd. Unit B • 380-6062


THE SEAFOOD RESTAURANT! 1595 Battleship Pkwy • 626-0045

LAID-BACK EATERY AND FISH MARKET 1477 Battleship Pkwy. • 621-8366 SEAFOOD, BURGERS & STEAKS. 6120 Marina Dr., Dog River • 443-7318.

SEAFOOD, STEAKS, & EXTENSIVE WINE LIST. 6232 Bon Secour Hwy County Rd. 10. • 949-5086

WINTZELL’S OYSTER HOUSE ($-$$) FRESH SEAFOOD FOR OVER 75 YEARS 605 Dauphin St. • 432-4605 6700 Airport Blvd. • 341-1111 1208 Shelton Beach Rd., Saraland • 442-3335 805 S. Mobile St. • 929-2322

QUALITY FOOD, EXCELLENT SERVICE 5045 Cottage Hill Rd. • 607-6454


AMAZING SUSHI & ASSORTMENT OF ROLLS. 661 Dauphin St. • 432-0109

PIZZAS, PASTAS, & CALZONES. 245-A Old Shell Rd. • 479-3278




WINGS, BURGERS, PUB GRUB 6880 US-90 #14, Daphne • 625-4695


A SOUTHERN GRILL & BAR. 3673 Airport Blvd. • 344-2131

BUFFALO WILD WINGS ($) BEST WINGS & SPORTING EVENTS. 6341 Airport Blvd. • 378-5955


FAMOUS BURGERS, SANDWICHES & WINGS. 60 N. Florida St. • 450-0690

CALLAGHAN’S IRISH SOCIAL CLUB ($) BURGERS & BEER. 916 Charleston St. • 433-9374

HEROES SPORTS BAR & GRILLE ($) SANDWICHES & COLD BEER. 273 Dauphin St. • 433-4376 Hillcrest & Old Shell Rd. • 341-9464

HURRICANE GRILL & WINGS ($-$$) WINGS, SEAFOOD, BURGERS AND BEER 7721 Airport Blvd. Suite E-180 • 639-6832


EVERYTHING BAKED OR GRILLED 2617 Dauphin St. • 476-9464


1715 Main St. • 375-0543

MCSHARRY’S IRISH PUB ($) BRILLIANT REUBENS & FISH-N-CHIPS. 101 N. Brancroft St. Fairhope • 990-5100


BAR & GRILL. 6255 Airport Blvd. • 447-2514

OLD 27 GRILL ($)

BURGERS, DOGS & 27 BEERS & WINES. 19992 Hwy.181 Old County Rd. Fairhope • 281-2663


IRISH PUB FARE & MORE. 3692 Airport Blvd • 414-3000


AZTECAS ($-$$)

WINGS, TENDERS, HOTDOGS & SANDWICHES. 312 Schillinger Rd. • 633-5877




ZANDER’Z ($-$$)

WINGS, BEERS AND DRINKS 1850 Airport Blvd • 471-5520

PIZZA, SUBS & PASTA. 1368 ½ Navco Rd.• 479-0066 A TASTE OF ITALY . BYOB. 28691 U.S. Highway 98 • 626-1999

PINZONE’S ITALIAN DOWNTOWN ($$) ITALIAN, CATERING, TO-GO. 312 Fairhope Ave, Fairhope • 990-5535

TASTE OF MEXICO 5452 Hwy 90 W • 661-5509

MOUTH WATERING MEXICAN FOOD 1175 Battleship Pkwy • 625-2722

CINCO DE MAYO ($) MEXICAN CUISINE 260 Azalea Rd. • 375-1095

BR PRIME ($$-$$$)




JIA ($-$$)









DELIVERY. 350 Dauphin St. • 431-9444


FUEGO ($-$$)



AUTHENTIC ITALIAN DISHES 312 Fairhope Ave, Fairhope • 990-5535


PIZZA, PASTA, SALAD & MORE 102 N. Section St. • 929-2525

GREAT PIZZA. LUNCH & DINNER. 4356 Old Shell Road • 342-0024


GAMBINO’S ITALIAN GRILL ($) ITALIAN, STEAKS & SEAFOOD. 18 Laurel Ave. Fairhope • 990-0995

GUIDO’S ($$)

FRESH CUISINE NIGHTLY ON MENU. 1709 Main St., Daphne • 626-6082


COMFORT FOOD. 1716 Main St. Ste. C, Daphne • 281-2982


SMALL PLATES, PIZZAS, PASTAS AND WINE 3250 Airport Blvd. • 450-4556


PIES & AWESOME BEER SELECTION. 2032 Airport Blvd. • 471-4700 5660 Old Shell Rd. • 380-1500 29698 Frederick Blvd, Daphne • 621-3911

PIZZERIA DELFINA ($) PIZZA & PASTA 107 Dauphin St. • 375-1644

ROMA CAFE ($-$$)

PASTA, SALAD AND SANDWICHES. 7143 Airport Blvd. • 341-7217


Springdale Mall 3250 Airport Blvd. • 450-4556


WINGS, PO-BOYS, BURGERS. 210 Eastern Shore Center, Hwy. 98 • 929-0002

TRATTORIA PIZZA & ITALIAN ($$) ITALIAN FOOD & PIZZAS. 11311 US HIghway 31 Spanish Fort• 375-0076



HOMEMADE PASTAS & PIZZAS MADE DAILY. 5901 Old Shell Rd. • 342-3677


ENCHILADAS, TACOS, & AUTHENTIC FARE. 661 Dauphin St. • 432-2453


OUTSTANDING MEXICAN CUISINE. 2066 Old Shell Rd. • 378-8621

777 Beach Blvd.Biloxi • 877-877-6256

HACIENDA SAN MIGUEL ($-$$) TASTE OF MEXICO 880 Schillinger Rd. S. • 633-6122 5805 US 90 • 653-9163


QUAINT MEXICAN RESTAURANT. 5556 Old Shell Rd. • 345-7484










TAQUERIA MEXICO ($-$$) AUTHENTIC MEXICAN FLAVOR. 3733 Airport Blvd. • 414-4496


875 Beach Blvd. Biloxi • 888-952-2582




158 Howard Ave. Biloxi • 800-725-2239


AUTHENTIC MEXICAN CUISINE. 4633 Airport Blvd. • 342-5553

MEXICAN CUISINE. 3977 Gov’t Blvd. • 660-4970

3300 W. Beach Blvd. Biloxi • 877-774-8439

280 Beach Blvd. Biloxi • 288-436-2946 FINE DINING, SEAFOOD AND STEAKS



850 BAYVIEW AVE. BILOXI-- • 888-946-2847


TIEN ($-$$)








1980 Beach Blvd. Biloxi • 800-747-2839

THE DEN ($-$$)


CQ ($$-$$$)


BLU ($)



303 Poarch Rd. Atmore • 866-946-3360

FIRE ($$-$$$)





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Old Shell Growlers, a neighborhood gem BY ANDY MACDONALD/CUISINE EDITOR


elcome to the New Year! There is a lot to celebrate, some of which is that last year is in the rearview mirror, but let’s not dismiss 2016 as a total loss. I’m all about new beginnings right now, stepping in the right direction, if you will. There were, however, a few things we gained over the past 12 months. For the Mobile food scene, 2016 was a period of activity, most of which was growth. We came to know many new restaurateurs who made their homes in our downtown area, and some familiar faces and owners of our downtown establishments expanded westward. Such was the case for Old Shell Growlers. The success of the beer-heavy menu at LoDa Bier Garten prompted owner Matt Golden and company to follow the path of the sun for a new concept: a growler station with refillable jugs of beer (available to take home) along with a menu that seems pretty high-end for a bar. This foray out of the downtown area is not as much of a leap as some of Golden’s Dauphin Street neighbors. While restaurants such as Dumbwaiter and Mediterranean Sandwich Co. actually crossed Interstate 65 into higher area codes, Old Shell Growlers didn’t trek much farther than the Kenneth intersection, in the former Red or White location. The laid back atmosphere is quite the departure from the downtown hustle and bustle of the Bier Garten, and the staff is in a much more attentive position, ready to suggest beer pairings with menu items. On the particular evening I darkened the door for the first time, Catherine and I were meeting her parents, Pete and Carol, for dinner and drinks. There was cause for minor celebration as I had new things going on at work and Pete had settled a case. When we arrived the two had already started without us, with drinks and Hot Crab Dip ($12). Not a bad way to start the evening, I could see I wasn’t about


New and coming soon to the Shoppes at Bel Air BY ANDY MACDONALD There is some serious construction going on at the Shoppes at Bel Air (formerly Bel Air Mall), most of it related to new restaurants. The new McDonald’s outside on the perimeter of the parking lot led to the demise of the indoor McDonald’s near the post office, but the mall maintains an indoor and outdoor Starbucks. The former Buck’s Pizza is now the American Deli, and Auntie Anne has moved her pretzels from the former location toward JCPenney. Kiosk-type dining is prevalent with the Potato Corner, Cinnabon and Happy Sushi just inside the main entrance. More Asian influence comes by way of Mandarin Express, but there’s particular ex-

to give up carbs for the New Year. Claw meat is the centerpiece of this creamy dish with caramelized onions, tomato and basil altering the hue. We wiped the bowl clean with our bread and I believe our waiter could tell we were getting serious. Everyone, it seems, is doing Brussels Sprouts ($6) these days, but you rarely see them in a bar setting. These bacon-roasted beauties were a little firmer and a departure from the charred versions you find around town. We all ordered something different and pretty much made our way through the entire menu, sharing as we progressed. Pete began the round with a Lobster Roll ($12). This came out like a small poboy cut in half and standing on its ends with bread that embraced chunks of lobster, shallot, capers and lemon garlic aioli. Everyone received a piece and we almost ordered a second. Carol had her eye on the Tuna Poke Martini ($14), pretty much stealing my preference. A bit of microgreens accented the sashimi-style tuna with a blend of sesame and soy as a dressing that increased in flavor as we made our way to the bottom of the glass. There was just a little heat in the mix. It wasn’t much, but it encouraged another beer. I knew exactly what Catherine was going to order. She loves tacos. She loves pork belly. So when you have Pork Belly Tacos ($10) on the menu there is little doubt. It was John Prine who said, “A question ain’t really a question if you know the answer, too.” Goat cheese, a honey glaze for sweetness and apple radish slaw for tartness contrasted deliciously with the beer-braised pork belly on crispy flour tortillas, held together with toothpicks so they stood upright. I loved the thinly sliced apples in the slaw. It’s hard to split two tacos four ways so we ordered another pair. When it came my turn, I needed help choosing between the seared duck breast and the mussels. My waiter was quick to describe both dishes, but didn’t bat an eyelash suggesting the Beer

citement over the much-anticipated opening of P.F. Chang’s China Bistro. The popular chain is nearing completion and a sign out front says it’s currently hiring. Apply online at Just on the other side of the main entrance is the promise of Grimaldi’s Coal Brick Oven Pizzeria, coming soon. This Brooklyn-style pizza chain looks better than most, with the usual pizzas, calzones, salads and desserts that would make New York proud. Offering wine and beer, its opening is a little farther off than P.F. Chang’s; visit them at The old restaurant next to Target is still vacant, so maybe someone could turnkey that locale into something special and we could have a mall that’s more of a dining destination than it’s ever been. Have no fear, lovers of Chick-fil-A. Your

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Braised Mussels ($14). Necromangocon is the fruity, mead-style beer used for the liquid part of the braising process, as these rope-grown shellfish are finished in a cider beurre blanc for a creamy effect that has a bit of tang. Thin cuts of bread are needed for the sauce to prevent you from drinking from the vessel once you have discarded the shells from the perfectly cooked mussels. There were only two items on the menu that did not find their way to our table. One of these is the duck breast, which I guarantee I’ll be returning to sample. The other was a roasted cauliflower salad that sounded like a healthy option. But what we have neglected to discuss is the catalyst that prompted Golden and the gang to open this establishment in the first place. It’s even in the name, plain as day. Growlers. This is a beer-loving city and beer in general is celebrating a healthy reputation, with craft brews getting the respect in food-pairing circles that was once reserved for wine. To be able to sit at a bar and order so many different options is one thing. To be able to fill a jug and take it home for a dinner party is something to which we are not yet accustomed. We see these things in cities that are less socially conservative. It’s good to find a place like Old Shell Growlers breaking ground in Mobile. And for those who don’t love beer, they do have a few wines on tap. The menu is well executed and better than any bar menu I’ve seen in this city. The location across from Dew Drop Inn gives it a neighborhood bar feeling. So thank you, 2016. You gave us a gem.

Old Shell Growlers 1801 Old Shell Road Mobile 36607 251-345-4767

favorite spot is right where it’s always been. It’s cheaper on Sundays.

King cake time

Epiphany was this past week. For those who do not know, this is also known as Three Kings Day, where most Christians celebrate the coming of the Magi. This also marks the point at which we traditionally allow ourselves to indulge in the king cake. I personally did not grab one until Jan. 8, which in Mississippi is known as The King Day, or in layman’s terms, the birthday of Elvis Presley. I picked up a simple version from Rouses Sunday night for the boys to enjoy during the National Championship. Of course king cakes are available all around us, but one of my favorites is the strawberry from the Lighthouse Bakery on Dauphin Island.

If you have a favorite, send it my way. I’m always looking to sample king cakes that are closer!

Fairhope’s fourth

Mark the calendars for Jan. 21 for Fairhope Brewing Co.’s 4th anniversary. There will be close to 40 handcrafted beers and Rocky IV-themed ales such as Rocky Aleboa, Eye of the Porter and No Easy Way Stout. Live music begins at 2 p.m., and the Bleus Burger food truck will be on hand to help soak up the suds. The $10 admission charge includes a commemorative glass and one beer of your choice. This party keeps getting bigger every year! Fairhope Brewing Co. is at 914 Nichols Ave. Recycle!

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Corporate indictment implicates local doctors as ‘pill mill’ trial begins JASON JOHNSON/REPORTER

Illustration/Laura Rasmussen

A second superceding indictment added what federal prosecutors refer to as “death enhancements,” which connect the doctors to deaths of four patients, but those charges


t’s been more than a year and half since two prominent pain doctors in Mobile were indicted in an alleged conspiracy to recklessly distribute a plethora of controlled medications, but only recently have criminal cases in other states shed light on why it’s taken that long to have their day in court. The trial of Dr. John Patrick Couch and Dr. Xiulu Ruan began last week in the midst of a continuing nationwide pushback against opioid abuse and addiction that a number of federal agencies are calling “an epidemic.” An opioid is any “opium-like” substance that binds to the opioid receptors in the human brain, which includes heroin but also substances like hydrocodone, oxycodone and morphine found in prescription painkillers. In the face of a death toll that’s increased 30 percent over the past decade, federal law enforcement officials across the United States have made the prosecution of drug traffickers and medical professionals who improperly prescribe opioids a top priority. That effort created “Operation Pillution” in 2015, a Drug Enforcement Administration effort specifically targeting prescription drug abuse in the South. When DEA agents raided two Physicians Pain Specialists of Alabama (PPSA) locations in Mobile, which Couch and Ruan coowned, they also hit other pain clinics and pharmacies in

Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. Couch and Ruan’s indictments also followed a successful case against Dr. Joseph Mwau N’dolo of Fairhope, who was accused of writing improper prescriptions for painkillers, sometimes in exchange for sexual favors from patients. N’dolo was convicted and sentenced to two years in federal prison in late 2014. However, one of the things that sets the accusations against Couch and Ruan apart from other alleged “pill mill” busts is the sheer amount of controlled medications the doctors are alleged to have prescribed. “Together they wrote over 300,000 prescriptions for controlled substances between Jan. 1, 2011, and May 20, 2015,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Bodnar said in his opening remarks last week. “This was not a pill mill in a traditional sense. PPSA was not cash only; they required referrals from another doctor and they took insurance … This was a money mill.”

The case

In addition to the PPSA locations in Mobile, located on Springhill Avenue and Airport Boulevard, Ruan and Couch also co-owned and operated the C&R Pharmacy. In May 2015, both doctors were indicted on conspiracy charges for illegally prescribing controlled prescriptions

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and for alleged health care fraud. Later, 17 additional charges were added in a superseding indictment accusing the pair of engaging in mail fraud, racketeering and receiving kickbacks from pharmaceutical companies. A second superseding indictment added what federal prosecutors refer to as “death enhancements,” which connect prescriptions the doctors wrote to the deaths of four patients, but those charges were dropped before the trial started. “There’s two main questions you need to ask yourself: What did they do, and why did they do it?” Bodnar told the jury. “What did they do? They prescribed controlled substances with no legitimate medical purpose and outside the usual course of professional practice. Why did they do it? For money.” Those statements were Bodnar’s attempt to simplify a fairly complex case that’s expected to result in an equally complex two-week trial. Couch and Raun wrote numerous prescriptions for Schedule II controlled substances, prescriptions that would be legal if they were written appropriately. Even Bodnar acknowledged both doctors had some legitimate patients that received treatment exactly as they should have. “There were some patients that had very legitimate pain, and there were definitely some that were treated very appropriately, but that’s not why we’re here,” he added. “We’re here for the times they were prescribing drugs outside of that legitimate course of professional practice.” However, in his opening statement defense attorney Jack Sharman, who is representing Couch, said his client has always served as a “doctor of last resort,” and by the very nature of his practice would have prescribed a high number of prescription painkillers. Sharman said the case was going to boil down to three things: “medicine, judgment and decisions.” He told the jury the “government wants to turn a two-way street — a doctor’s judgment and a patient’s decision on what to do with it — into a crime.” According to Sharman, the prosecution’s description of the volume of prescriptions Ruan and Couch wrote was taken out of context. Specifically referring to Bodnar’s 300,000 figure, Sharman said when divided by the 8,000 patients PPSA had during the time period covered by the indictment, those numbers come out to “about one prescription, per patient, per month.” Sharman also took issue with the term “pill mill,” which he said was “a lazy term the media uses because it rhymes.” He also said it it doesn’t describe anything close to the businesses in Mobile that Couch and Ruan ran for years. Unlike pill mills, Sharman said PPSA didn’t demand cash; they required insurance, kept patient records and performed a number of procedures before and in addition to using prescription pain medicine. He said the defendants handled their billing in “a large, public compliance arena” because their company received reimbursements from the Veterans Administration, Medicare and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama — all of which “saw exactly what Dr. Couch was doing,” Sharman said. Ultimately, Sharman said Couch had only “tried too hard to treat too much pain,” telling the jury that the prosecution’s case would only focus on “a few dozen” of PPSA’s “thousands of patients.” “You’ll hear a lot about the hardships of addiction, but what you don’t hear a lot about are the hardships of living with chronic pain,” he added. “It limits what you can do. It limits productivity, if you’re even able to work. It reduces quality of life, and we also know that it stigmatizes those affected by it.” Though both defendants have retained a number of attorneys, Ruan is primarily being represented by Dennis Knizley. Like Sharman, Knizley claimed the doctors had run a legitimate business and had gone above and beyond requirements for prescribing controlled substances. He told jurors that PPSA patients had to be referred from other doctors and undergo an initial examination upon their first visit. Ruan and Couch also required patients receiving opioid painkillers to sign an “opioid agreement” that — among other things — required routine urine analysis to ensure patients were taking the medicine they were supposed to and not using any other drugs.

COVER STORY According to Knizley, Ruan himself has “dropped 238 patients for not following the agreement.” “Pain management is a delicate balance. It’s difficult to help a patent regain his or her quality of life and keep them from becoming addicted,” Knizley said. “It all comes down to this: Was this a criminal enterprise or the practice of medicine — real doctors, practicing real medicine on real patients.”

Early evidence, testimony

At the time of this publication, Ruan and Couch’s simultaneous trial was already in its fifth day of testimony, though it could be at least another week before the jury is handed the case for deliberation. The prosecution’s early witnesses have all been federal or state employees, including DEA diversion specialists Susannah Herkert and Michelle Penfold, FBI special agents Eric Lawson and Steve Sorrells and the Alabama Department of Public Health’s state pharmacy director, Nancy Bishop. Herkert initially walked the jury through background information on the varying strength and regulatory status of opioid medications pertinent to the case — all of which she said were common to those practicing pain management and as well as those “seeking pills.” During cross examination, defense attorneys asked Herkert how PPSA’s operation compared to other “supposed pill mill” cases she’s seen in her 11-year career with the DEA. In response, Herkert said she’d seen practices that were cash only as well as those that — like PPSA — accept insurance and rely on referrals from other medical professionals. “I’ve seen somewhere you pay $200 to $600 cash regardless of what you get from a doctor and others where there’s a set price per drug,” Herkert said. “In recent pill mill cases, you have to have a referral. Pill mills have evolved, and now a lot of doctors will write another prescription with a controlled substance to make it look more legitimate.” Asked about the patients that had been turned away and the medical procedures Couch and Ruan supposedly performed, Herkert said she’d seen both of those practices at other “pill mill cases” as well. The only exception Herkert noted was a NeuroBloc procedure she hasn’t “seen a lot of pill mills offer.” During their time on the stand, Lawson and Sorrels focused on the physical evidence seized in the 2015 raids of both PPSA facilities. Lawson led an evidence team at the Springhill Avenue location while Sorrels focused on the Airport Boulevard office. So far, some of the most notable pieces of evidence have been dozens of blank, signed prescriptions found at both PPSA locations showing Couch or Ruan’s signatures. Many of them were predated for days that would have fallen after the raid when they were discovered. According to Herkert, a prescription signed at any time other than when a doctor meets with the patient receiving a controlled substance would not be considered legitimate or legal by the DEA. During her testimony, Bishop focused on the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) — a computerized database maintained by the state that tracks controlled prescriptions as well as the patients who receive them and doctors who prescribe them. Though the PDMP, Bishop helped compile data on a number of painkillers Couch and Ruan frequently prescribed. However,

the data that’s most relevant to the racketeering and kickback charges are related to prescriptions for Subsys and Abstral, fentanyl-based drugs that prosecutors have described as “extremely potent” opioids. Per Herkert’s testimony, fentanyl is the most potent opioid available on the legal market, and as such is closely monitored through a stand-alone program requiring both doctors and patients to register with the DEA. It’s only supposed to be prescribed to “cancer patients who are already on round-theclock pain drugs,” though it isn’t technically illegal to write “off label” prescriptions for other legitimate medical purposes. According to Bishop, Ruan and Couch prescribed 68,116 and 45,285 units of fentanyl, respectively, during the time frame of the indictment, making the doctors the number one and number two prescribers of the drug in Alabama. At other

IN THE FACE OF A DEATH TOLL THAT’S INCREASED 30 PERCENT OVER THE PAST DECADE, FEDERAL LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIALS ACROSS THE UNITED STATES HAVE MADE THE PROSECUTION OF DRUG TRAFFICKERS AND MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS WHO IMPROPERLY PRESCRIBE OPIOIDS A TOP PRIORITY.” points relevant to the indictment, they were the top prescribers of Subsys and Abstral in the entire country. “It’s like being a hunter, but instead of using a rifle you’re using a missile,” Bodnar said of off-label prescriptions for fentanyl. “They were prescribing extremely potent opioids because they were getting paid, and not in the best interest of their patients.”

Guilty pleas, corporate ties

One of the toughest tasks for the defense in this case will likely be rebutting the testimony of four alleged co-conspirators who have already pleaded guilty in federal court, including former nurse Bridgette Parker and former nurse practitioner Thomas Palmer — both of whom were employed by PPSA. In December 2015, Parker and Palmer pleaded guilty to “knowingly and willingly” prescribing controlled substances “outside the usual course of professional practice. According to Bodnar, Palmer wrote anywhere from 15,000 to 20,000 prescriptions for controlled substances by illegally forging Couch’s signature. “Couch rarely came into the office early in the morning or was often out of town on vacation and knew the prescriptions were being forged,” he said. “I don’t believe there was a single employee that didn’t know what was going on.” However, both the prosecution and defense have acknowledged Palmer’s past struggles with drug abuse, with Bodnar stating that he’d used prescription drugs intravenously on the job and in some cases while seeing patients. That is something the defense has pointed to as a motivation for his forging prescriptions under Couch’s name. “Justin Palmer forged [Couch’s] signature in large part so

he could get drugs for himself,” Sharman said. “Did [Couch] hire some people he shouldn’t have? Absolutely. Were there situations where the paperwork could have been better? Yes, but none of that is evidence of a crime.” Pharmacist Christopher Manfuso also accepted a plea deal in 2015, where he admitted to paying the doctors more than $2.5 million in kickbacks over a three-year period through his company, Comprehensive RX Management, which managed a state workers compensation dispensary with which PPSA had an exclusive contract. Like Parker and Palmer, Manfuso is expected to testify for the prosecution later in the trial. The defense attorneys, however, have claimed those witnesses might be willing to “lie on the stand” in order to secure a lesser sentence for themselves. Ruan and Couch are also accused of buying stock in Galena Biopharma Inc., the former producer of fentanyl-based Abstral, and then intentionally prescribing their products to drive up the value of the investment. Later the C&R Pharmacy also set up a rebate program with Galena that both doctors allegedly profited from. However, the defense claims the doctors bought the stock in Galena Biopharma “because they thought it was a good company” and that they didn’t have any knowledge the managers of C&R Pharmacy set up a rebate program with the company. However, the tie that may bind the the doctors to a larger, corporate conspiracy will likely rest heavily on the testimony of Natalie Perhacs, who pleaded guilty to anti-kickback violations in February 2016. Perhacs claims she was hired as pharmaceutical sales representative by Insys Therapeutics, the makers of another fentanyl-based product, Subsys. In her plea agreement, Perhacs said she was hired as a kickback to Ruan, whom she claims was “romantically interested” in her. The plea agreement states that nearly all of these prescriptions were written off-label to non-cancer patients and that all were filled at C&R Pharmacy, which then billed federally funded and private health insurance providers more than $572,000. Last month, Insys saw six of its top executives, including former CEO Michael Babich, indicted for allegedly offering bribes and kickbacks to pain doctors in various states to persuade them to prescribe Subsys. Though Ruan and Couch aren’t named in that indictment, a doctor in Alabama is referred to as having become a paid speaker for Insys, as was Ruan. Bodnar also stated both doctors were “very important” to Insys and Galena — claiming that top executives from both pharmaceutical companies had traveled from Arizona and Oregon, respectively, to meet the doctors in Mobile. As for the defense, both lead attorneys have maintained that their clients did nothing wrong and were only tied to those corporations because of the nature of their business, though Sharman has at least briefly acknowledged the recent Insys indictments. “That company … It’s entirely possible that they broke the law, but the evidence will show that [Dr. Couch] was not a participant in those corporate shenanigans,” Sharman added. As was stated previously, the trial started on Jan. 5 and is expected to continue at least through the next week. Lagniappe will continue to follow the developments in the courtroom, which will be reported in this publication and daily at

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Mobile actor Evans assuages cancer scare BY KEVIN LEE/ARTS EDITOR/KLEE@LAGNIAPPEMOBILE.COM


hen Chicago actor Steve Evans shared ominous medical news on social media, it sent waves through the Mobile theater community. An actor, writer and comic, Evans traded his native Azalea City for the windy one in the last decade to further his theatrical career. A Jan. 4 Facebook posting revealed Evans had been diagnosed with small-cell carcinoma and announced a fundraising effort to help with related expense. Replies to the post showed he continues to have a base of friends and colleagues throughout Mobile’s creative community. When Artifice spoke with Evans on Jan. 5, his characteristic humor showed a man with a healthy outlook. “I told the doctor, ‘Doc, I’m a stand-up comic. I’ve already died onstage so this is nothing,” Evans said. He was in an August motorcycle wreck that left him with ample road rash, a concussion and a collapsed lung. While in the hospital immediately afterward, an X-ray showed a modest spot in one lung. “When they used the word ‘cancer,’ it immediately took care of my urge for another cigarette right there. I’ve had no problem with quitting except for some nerves right around election time,” Evans said. A follow-up exam had good news. The spot was the same size. “They were just making sure it wasn’t spreading to my brain or any other place, because it can be kind of aggres-

Theater news aplenty

sive. The fact it hasn’t is really encouraging,” Evans said. Another party’s insurance paid for his initial medical bills. The oncoming cancer treatments will be paid for by his own insurance. “I have insurance through the Affordable Care Act and asked the doctor what would happen if it were to somehow get wiped out. He told me, ‘Well, you’re lucky you’re in Illinois because there’s a pretty good safety net here.’ Good thing I wasn’t still in Sweet Home Alabama,” Evans laughed. Evans was a regular on Mobile stages throughout the 1990s. For numerous years, he spent summers in Chillicothe, Ohio, in the cast of the lauded outdoor drama “Tecumseh.” Another year he parlayed the Ohio experience into a role in “Black River Traders,” an outdoor historical drama in Farmington, New Mexico. His resume brought him some good-natured chiding among the cast and crew, with the nickname “The Big Deal from Mobile.” Evans got some Mobile fame as a character in a series of Original Oyster House TV ads in the early 2000s, a role that surprisingly brought him a flow of residual checks. “I thought it was going to be a flat fee, but I guess my agent was working that 10 percent,” Evans cracked. Evans was a regular performer in Chicago’s massive Abbie Hoffman Died for Our Sins Theatre Festival, where he perfected his own one-man shows. His theatri-

Arty Awards

The Mobile Arts Council announced recipients for two very prestigious Arty Awards. The Lifetime Achievement Award goes to Mobile artist, painter, poet, photographer and author Tut Altman Riddick. Active for more than 60 years, a gallery at the University of West Alabama is named for her and she was inducted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame in 2013. The Patron Award goes to native Mobilian and pro baseball player Jake Peavy. His foundation works with local nonprofit organizations to create signature outreach programs, and partnered with One Mobile on a youth mural initiative. The Arty Awards take place Jan. 27, 7 p.m., at the Alabama Contemporary Arts Center (301 Conti St.). Winners in 11 categories will be announced in an Oscars-style event and presented with a physical award designed by Susie Bowman, owner of Kiln Studio and Gallery. Tickets are available for the evening of food, drink and entertainment. They cost $30 in advance, $35 at the door. Call 251-432-9796 or go to

sense” Jan. 13-22. Also directed by Leonora Harrison, the Dan Goggin musical comedy follows the Little Sisters of Hoboken’s desperate fundraising. Led by Reverend Mother Regina, they stage a talent show featuring the varied and curious skills of their order. Shows are at the Lola Phillips Playhouse (801 Iroquois St.). Friday and Saturday curtain is at 7:30 p.m. with Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $15.75, $12.45 for students/military/seniors. Call 251-457-8887 or go to

Festival acquires state grant

The Gulf Coast Ethnic and Heritage Jazz Festival received a grant of $4,300 for 2017 from the Alabama State Council on the Arts. The annual multi-week festival encompassing music education, literary arts and live performances begins its 19th incarnation July 24. Things kick off with the Marcus Johnson Summer Jazz Camp, which gives area musicians of all ages various levels of jazz instruction. The past two years it has featured a field trip to the Musicians’ Village in New Orleans.

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The culminating event is a concert on Saturday, Aug. 5, featuring a variety of jazz and blues genres and performers at a downtown venue. Previous headliners have included Jamell Richardson, Jason Marsalis and Eddie Shaw The grant was made possible through an annual appropriation from the Alabama Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts. This public support enables the Gulf Coast Ethnic and Heritage Jazz Festival to reach new audiences, foster community development, provide the highest quality programming and demonstrate the importance of arts as a component for quality of life in Alabama.

Job opportunity at MAC

Mobile Arts Council’s administrative assistant, Kathleen Stoves, was promoted to assistant program director (Congrats, Kat!) and a new assistant is needed. It’s part-time, 20 hours per week and might include occasional weekend or evening work. Duties include fielding telephone calls, filing and data entry, word processing, and use of spreadsheet and presentation software. If this sounds enticing, head to for more info.


Love the theater? Opportunity is plentiful the next few weeks. Joe Jefferson Players will hold auditions for their production of Shakespeare’s comedy “Much Ado About Nothing” on Jan. 16-17, 6:30 p.m., at JJP (11 S. Carlen St.). The play will be directed by Joe Fuselli and staged March 17 through April 2. Audition forms, character descriptions, attached monologues and a rehearsal/performance schedule can be found at You can also call 251-471-1534. Those same dates, Chickasaw Civic Theatre will hold auditions for “Mobile Home, Sweet Home” by Pat Cook, author of the comic Harry Monday murder mysteries. The tale takes place in the Hampton Court trailer park, where residents are caught up in a new reality TV show. It will be directed by Leonora Harrison. The play runs March 3-12. More info is available at If you’re in the mood to take in a play, CCT presents “Nun-

cal experiences in Ohio were fodder for his comedic one-man play “My Life with the Shawnee.” Tired of the winters, Evans returned to Mobile a couple of years back. He appeared in Tom Perez’s South of the Salt Line satire “Ambushed By the Tea Party” in October 2014. In early 2015, he staged his one-man work “Bro. Luther Powell vs. the Tobacco Demons” locally. Shortly thereafter, Evans returned to Chicago. Its increased theatrical opportunities were too alluring. As for his upcoming cancer treatments, Evans is determined — especially regarding his status as a committed bicycle commuter. “I want to be the guy who rides to chemo through the freezing-ass cold on his bike. This is not going to make me change the way I live,” Evans said. His age is a bonus, too. “The pulmonologist said, ‘You know, for an old guy you’re pretty young,’” Evans quipped. “Old guy,” huh? Evans is younger than this writer by months. Thanks, Steve.

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Keep on Truckin’



hile 2016 was devastating for many, the Tedeschi Trucks Band spent the year enjoying the public’s positive reaction to its latest album, “Let Me Get By.” Recorded in guitarist Derek Trucks’ home studio, this is the first Tedeschi Trucks album produced solely by Trucks, and the first the 12-piece band recorded as a group. The combined effort resulted in an album marked by beautiful Southern roots rock laced with vocalist/guitarist Susan Tedeschi’s soulful voice. As he was about to listen to the master tracks of an upcoming live album, Trucks took time to chat with Lagniappe about 2016 as well as the band’s endeavors. Stephen Centanni: 2016 was a pretty rough year for some. For Tedeschi Trucks, it was a huge year. How would you describe 2016? Derek Trucks: It was a strange year. It was our best year as a band both musically and with crowds. We were glad to get that record out. We lost a lot of people that we’ve known well and toured with, like Sharon Jones and Leon Russell. It was a strange year. It feels like there was a pretty big shift, but in a lot of ways it makes you dig down a little deeper and take the mission more seriously, not that we don’t. It’s a little added weight when you realize that there are fewer people doing what you’re doing. It’s hard to see fellow musicians and people who started the genre go away. It was a different kind of year. Centanni: I think the moment that stands out for me was that World Series jam session that you had with not only Eddie Vedder [Pearl Jam] but also Bill Murray. How does something like that happen? Trucks (chuckling): That was pretty unique! We were heading out on tour and had a show the next day. I flew to Chicago for Game Four. I ended up sitting with Eddie Vedder and meeting him that night. We ended up at the club across the street from Wrigley (Field). One thing led to the next. I’ve known Bill Murray for a while. I guess I met him at the “Clapton’s Crossroads” thing. We’ve stayed in touch, and he’s come out to a few of our shows and a few Allman (Brothers Band) shows. I reached out to him and told him where we were hanging. At 1:30, (or) 2 in the morning, he pops in, and it just got crazier and crazier. I had no intentions to play music at 3:30 in the morning across the street

from Wrigley, but there it is. Centanni: Let’s talk about that new album. Last time we talked, Tedeschi Trucks Band had just started using your home studio full time. You were pretty much trying to keep your album production in-house. With those ones that you first recorded at home, you shared the production chair with someone. For “Let Me Get By,” you did it on your own. What was it like doing your first album on your own? Trucks: In some ways, it was getting back. The first record that I did at home, I produced for my solo band. When we put this band together, I felt like I needed to make sure that it wasn’t too close to what I’ve done with my group. I felt like it was better to step back and jump in with somebody. Jim Scott, who produced the first two records for the band, is a badass. We learned a lot working with him. We’ll probably work with him again. We felt that it was time to do one entirely ourselves as a band and write all the tunes in-house with just the band members in the studio. We wrote a few tunes with Doyle Bramhall [II], who’s been an honorary band member. It felt good. I feel like I know this group well enough now that you can tell when there’s a better performance to be had, and you keep going forward, and you can tell when you’ve kind of done it. It’s the same with Susan. I know the way she sings, at this point, to know when there’s a different approach to a tune or maybe there’s a little more in the tank where she can still go. I enjoy that process. When we get out there making records, I could go for months at a time. It’s a satisfying thing to do. Centanni: With that said, the production on this album is great, and a lot of people agree with me. What do you make of all this love you’re getting for the production side of things? Trucks: You know, it’s nice. I feel like you take baby steps every time, and you learn from people who are masters at what they do. You try to take a little bit of that and keep moving. It’s nice having the same studio there. You can evolve with it. Jumping around to different places and having to rethink it every time, you almost have to start from scratch. With this, I feel like we’re building every time. A lot of that is our engineer, Bobby Tis, who lives five or six houses down. He’s constantly here. Every time there’s a few days off on the road, there’s always ideas of how to make the studio better or brainstorming on different ways to record the band. He’s a huge part of it. It seems like he never stops thinking about ways to record the band. It’s as much him as it is me and the group, as far as the way it sounds or the way it feels. Centanni: This album is the first that was written as “an ensemble.” With 12 members, what was it like putting songs together?

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Photo | Photo by Mark Seliger

Band: Tedeschi Trucks Band, Jake Peavy & the Outsiders Date: Friday, Jan. 13, with doors at 7:30 p.m. Venue: Saenger Theatre, 6 S. Joachim St., Tickets: $39.50-$76.50, available at Saenger box office and through Ticketmaster

The Tedeschi Trucks Band is appearing in Mobile in support of its album “Let Me Get By.” Trucks: When we have writing sessions or rehearsals, we stagger it. A lot of times, Mike Mattison will come down, who was in my solo group and an amazing singer and songwriter. He’ll come down a few days later, and me and him and Susan will just write tunes together. He’ll have ideas, and we’ll throw bits in, or I’ll have song sketches and collaborate as a smaller group. Usually, the rhythm section will show. Then, we’ll spend a day or two digging into those sketches that we wrote with Mike or just playing. Ideas will come up from out of nowhere. Somebody might remember a jam that we had at sound check and someone had it recorded. You go that way. Then, the full band shows up, and you add the other touches. Sometimes they’ll have ideas that will spark a tune. Generally, it starts small, and we widen to scope. Centanni: While we’re on the subject of the band, I was reading a New Yorker interview where you were talking about when you and Susan first met. They were kind of wary about her hanging out with you. Trucks (laughing): I was on the road with the Allman Brothers at the time. So, I think it had more to do more with their past. I don’t think her band wanted her on a bus with those crazy people. It was kind of guilt by association, really. Centanni: What do they think of you now? Trucks: They’ve come around! Centanni: I’ve also heard about a possible live album in the future. What are the details on that? Trucks: We’re actually, hopefully, finishing it today. We finished mixing a little ways back. It’s getting mastered by Bob Ludwig, who’s mastered all our records. We’re going down to the studio in a little while, so hopefully we’ll be signing off on that. We did a tour out West in the fall. We recorded every show with the thought of compiling the best version of tunes. We were also filming multiple nights and the band traveling on the road. It’s not quite a documentary, but there are a lot of those elements sprinkled in. We’re going to do a film of the shows in Oakland. It turned out the second night in Oakland was as good as any show that we did on the tour. I think the live record will be night two in Oakland. There’s some pretty great stuff on there, and I’m excited about it. We capture the band doing its thing, and I think the film that goes with it is a pretty cool snapshot of being on the road with the group. There’s footage of the band traveling and days off and pretty good interviews. Centanni: With 2016 being so big, what are the goals for 2017? Trucks: Man, just keeping the momentum. We’re not really a career goal-minded band. We don’t really think on those terms so often, other than the fact of keeping a 12-piece band on the road and viable. That’s our goal. We keep this bitch treading water, and we’re happy.

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Songs for old souls


Photo | | Parker Millsap



young songwriter with an old soul can be a powerful thing. Since his debut album “Palisade,” one such songwriter, Parker Millsap, has drawn inspiration from his years growing up in Purcell, Oklahoma. Throughout his youth, Millsap attended Pentecostal church services with his family. This inundation of charismatic, old-time religion has helped him shape his sound both musically and lyrically, with impressive results. While typically lumped into the broad genre of Americana, Millsap’s hybrid of blues, rock, folk and country has allowed him to find success across the charts.

Millsap spent 2016 promoting his critically acclaimed album “The Very Last Day” on both stage and television. While his audience has lovingly embraced these songs, everyone from Elton John to Conan O’Brien has also lauded his new material. Though still in his early 20s, Millsap’s “The Very Last Day” portrays a seasoned artist with a trademark style and great vocals that give listeners a taste of everything he has to offer. “The Very Last Day” mixes acoustic rockabilly, ballads forged in alt. country and classic folk, and even an old-school blues number with early 20th century influences.

Daily dose of greens

Band: Lettuce, Jaw Gems Date: Wednesday, Jan 18, with doors at 7 p.m. Venue: Soul Kitchen, 219 Dauphin St., Tickets: $18 advance/$22 day of show; available at venue, its website, Mellow Mushroom (both locations) or by calling 1-866-777-8932 While the rest of the country was getting grungy, Lettuce spent the early ‘90s studying at Berklee College of Music and crafting its jammed-out brand of funk. As years passed, this band gathered a nationwide following for its classically inspired grooves. In 2002, Lettuce released its debut album “Outta Here,” which featured Mobile native Fred Wesley as well as legendary jazz guitarist John Scofield. The album also contained Lettuce’s unforgettable “Squadlive.” With the release of

2012’s “Fly!,” Lettuce made its presence known at the No. 6 spot on Billboard’s jazz chart. Lettuce’s latest offerings are 2015’s “Crush” and its 2016 EP companion, “Mt. Crushmore.” Both of these releases prove Lettuce hasn’t changed its delicious formula, riddled with classic funk orchestrations pulled straight from the early days of funk. Plucky string work accents waves of bright horns and epic keys. Lettuce’s Soul Kitchen set should mesmerize Azalea City jam fans.

All grown up

Band: LeAnn Rimes Date: Friday, Jan. 13, at 8 p.m. Venue: Beau Rivage Resort & Casino, 875 Beach Blvd. (Biloxi), Tickets: $39.95-$59.95, available through Ticketmaster

Before she reached her teens, LeAnn Rimes was recording albums. At just 13, she found herself signing a contract with Curb Records and releasing her first major hit, “Blue.” The title track introduced the world to a little girl with a big voice. The song, written by Bill Mack, was a flashback to 1950s country. Drawing inspiration from Patsy Cline, Rimes’ sweet croons melted the hearts of country fans

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nationwide, and her place in the history of country music was assured. Rimes is coming to Biloxi with new material from her album “Remnants.” While already released overseas, the album won’t receive its U.S. release until Feb. 3. However, her fans in the States have been sampling it through two radio singles, “How to Kiss a Boy” and “The Story,” Rimes’ version of the Brandi Carlile hit.

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AREAMUSIC LISTINGS | January 12 - January 18


Bluegill— Light Travelers Blues Tavern— Biscuit Miller & The Mix, 8:30p Boudreaux’s Cajun Grill— David Chastang, 6p Callaghan’s— Bobby Butchka Cockeyed Charlie’s— JJ Felix’s— Soulshine Flora Bama— Gove Scrivenor, 1p// Dueling Pianos, 4:30p/// Mark Sherill, John Joiner, Chris Newbury and Mel Knapp, 5p//// Dustin Bogue, 9:15p Listening Room— And the Echo Manci’s— Emily Stuckey McSharry’s— Rondale and Kit Katz, 7p Wind Creek Casino— Mickey Utley, 8p


All Sports Bar & Billiards— DJ Markie Mark, 10p Beau Rivage— Leann Rimes, 8p Bluegill— Tim Kinsey, 12p// Blind Dog Mike, 6p Blues Tavern— Soul River Levy, 9p Boudreaux’s Cajun Grill— Delta Smoke, 6p Celtic Irish Pub— Party at the Moontower Cockeyed Charlie’s— 3HG, 10p Fairhope Brewing— Flow Tribe, 8p Felix’s— Matt Neese Duo Flora Bama— Jay Hawkins Duo, 2p// Jack Robertson Show, 5:30p/// Johnny B Trio, 6p//// Whyte Caps, 10p//// Brian Hill Trio, 10:15p Hard Rock (Center Bar) — Audio Time Machine, 9p IP Casino— Ray Stevens, 8p Listening Room— Webb Wilder Main Street Cigar Lounge— Dale Drinkard, 8p Manci’s— Eric Erdman McSharry’s— DJ Chi, 10p Moe’s BBQ (Daphne) — The Harrison McInnis Trio, 8p

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Moe’s BBQ (Foley) — Cary Laine, 6p Moe’s BBQ (Mobile) — The Lark and the Loon, 6:30p O’Daly’s— Gene Murrell, Tony Edwards and David White, 10p Saenger— Tedeschi Trucks Band Wind Creek Casino— Mickey Utley, 9p


Big Beach Brewing— Neil Dover, 6p Bluegill— Cary Laine, 12p// Al & Cathy, 6p Blues Tavern— Pearls of Trinity USA, 9p Boudreaux’s Cajun Grill— Adam& Jill Holt, 6p Callaghan’s— The Prescriptions Cockeyed Charlie’s— DJ Chill, 10p Felix’s— Blind Dog Mike Fin’s— Chili and Wing CookOff, 11a Flora Bama— Big Muddy, 1p// LeaAnne Creswell & Derrel Roberts, 2p/// Jezebel’s Chilln’, 5:30p//// Jack Robertson Show, 6p//// Zachery Diedrich, 6p//// Foxy Iguanas, 10p//// Dustin Bogue, 10:15p Hard Rock (Center Bar) — Audio Time Machine, 9p Hard Rock (Live) — Earl Thomas Conley, 8p Listening Room— Shannon Labrie w/ Kyshona Armstrong and Jess Nolan Manci’s— Rondale and Kit Katz McSharry’s— DJ Carter, 10p Moe’s BBQ (Mobile) — Light Travelers, 6:30p Soul Kitchen— Battery – Masters of Metallica, 9p Wind Creek Casino— Mickey Utley, 9p


Alchemy— Bayside Insurance presents Liquid Brunch, 2p Bluegill— Bruce Smelley, 12p// Josh and Ross, 6p Blues Tavern— IBC Benefit Boudreaux’s Cajun

Grill— Anna McElroy, 6p Callaghan’s— Red Young Felix’s— Brandon Bailey Flora Bama— Songs of Rusty, 12:30p// Perdido Brothers, 4p/// Logan Spicer, 8:30p Golden Nugget— Asian Show, 7p Manci’s— Andrew Duhon McSharry’s— Trad. Irish Music, 6:30p


Boudreaux’s Cajun Grill— Tim Kinsey, 6p Callaghan’s— Parker Millsap The Diner— Brent Burns, 5p Felix’s— Jamie Adamson Flora Bama— Cathy Pace, 3p// Petty and Pace, 7p


Bluegill— Tim Kinsey Boudreaux’s Cajun Grill— Jon Maddox, 6p Cockeyed Charlie’s— Jordan Bramblett Felix’s— Brent Loper Flora Bama— T. Bone Montgomery, 3p Hangout— Ron, Bert & Marvin, 5p The Hot Spot Music and Grub — Brent Burns, 5p


Bluegill— Ross Newell Blues Tavern— Johnny B and Brit, 8p Boudreaux’s Cajun Grill— Ryan Balthrop, 6p Callaghan’s— Phil and Foster The Cove— Ron, Bert & Marvin Felix’s— Tim Kinsey Flora Bama— Rebecca Barry Duo, 11a// Neil Dover, 3p/// Rhonda Hart and Jonathan Newton, 7p Listening Room— Kevin Galloway with Eric Erdman The Merry Widow— New Madrid, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, 8p Soul Kitchen— Lettuce// Jaw Gems

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‘Kubo’ is a masterpiece for any age




AREA THEATERS CARMIKE CINEMA’S Wynnsong 16 785 Schillinger Rd. S. (251) 639-7373 CRESCENT THEATER 208 Dauphin Street (251) 438-2005 HOLLYWOOD STADIUM 18 1250 Satchel Paige Dr. (251) 473-9655 RAVE MOTION PICTURE JUBILEE SQUARE 12 6898 U.S. 90 Daphne, (251) 626- 6266

fter the trillionth commercial for a film that features animals chanting “Look at her butt,” a parent might well despair of anything worth watching — or even enduring — with a kid. But “Kubo and the Two Strings” is a phenomenal film for persons of any age, with its challenging, mythical story and stunning stop-action animation. From Laika Studios, which gave us “Coraline” and “The Boxtrolls,” this is another masterpiece set in a miniature world. In ancient Japan, young Kubo lives a solitary existence with his mother. She is haunted by their past, in which they fled his grandfather, the Moon King, a vengeful god who stole Kubo’s eye and killed his warrior father. Kubo spends his days in the village, telling tales of adventure using magical origami paper that thrills the villagers (and viewers). His mother is often catatonic, but occasionally tells him stories of his father, and warns him not to stay out after dark. Eventually, of course, Kubo does stay out after dark, and is set upon by his terrifying twin aunts (Rooney Mara), who are still their father’s henchwomen. His mother engages with her sisters in battle,

and Kubo is sent on a quest, accompanied by a monkey talisman come to life (Charlize Theron) and his origami creations. They meet a giant beetle (Matthew McConaughey) and form a makeshift family. The voice performances crackle with warmth and chemistry, and a script based in myth feels very relatable. Beyond the stunning set pieces — such as a glorious boat made of leaves, a gigantic skeleton and an underwater garden of eyeballs — there is a thoughtful, inspiring story about death, grieving and memory. Laika’s films have never been afraid to tackle scary subject matter and always in a beautiful, quirky way. Think of the terrifying Other Mother in “Coraline,” who gives you want you think you want but makes you her prisoner. “Paranorman” is all about the afterlife. These stories look at these subjects, but give kids and adults comfort if they watch long enough. So, too, does “Kubo and the Two Strings,” which launches its plot from a graveyard where the living are paying tribute to and communing with the dead. Plenty of kids’ stories feature dead parents, but this one really intersects with both “the afterlife” and life after death, for the living left behind. It is exceptionally moving — utterly fantastic but also

emotionally realistic. As Kubo admits at the end of the film, “This is a happy story, but it could be happier.” But don’t let me sell short the fun and excitement of Kubo’s adventures. An austere opening sequence on the ocean, reminiscent of the famous Japanese block print “The Great Wave off Kanagawa,” soon gives way to Kubo’s wonderful street performances with his magical origami paper and the film is off to a delightful start. Plenty of animal antics kept my 5-year-old son laughing, and battles were fierce and thrilling. Meanwhile, my 10-year-old daughter grasped the film’s many details that lead to its surprising and ultimately profound conclusion. Thematically, “Kubo and the Two Strings” is more challenging than some kids’ movies, but the rewards are also greater. Most kids will remember the gigantic skeleton and his glowing eyes, but the story’s deeper meaning will last a long time, and the comfort it offers at the death of a loved one is more than many “grown-up” stories can provide. Both the story itself and the visual magnificence with which it is presented make this nothing short of a masterpiece. “Kubo and the Two Strings” is currently available to rent.

CARMIKE CINEMAS 23151 Wharf Ln. Orange Beach (251) 981-4444 COBB THEATRES PINNACLE 14 3780 Gulf Shores Pkwy Gulf Shores (251) 968-7444 EASTERN SHORE PREMIERE CINEMA 14 30500 Alabama 181 #500 Spanish Fort, Al (251) 626-0352 Information accurate at press time; please call theaters for showtimes.

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Photos | Focus Features / Focus Features

Lionsgate | From left: A young boy named Kubo must locate a magical suit of armor worn by his late father in order to defeat a vengeful spirit from the past. In “A Monster Calls,” a boy seeks the help of a tree monster to cope with his single mom’s terminal illness. NEW IN THEATERS A MONSTER CALLS

Conor, a 12-year-old dealing with his mother’s illness, a less-than-sympathetic grandmother and bullying classmates, finds a most unlikely ally when a monster appears at his bedroom window. Ancient, wild and relentless, the monster guides Conor on a journey of courage, faith and truth. Eastern Shore Premiere Cinema, Regal Mobile Cinema 18, Cobb Pinnacle 14


Death dealer Selene (Kate Beckinsale) must fend off brutal attacks from both the Lycan clan and the vampire faction that betrayed her. Joining forces with allies David (Theo James) and Thomas (Peter Andersson), she embarks on a quest to end the eternal war between the two races, even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice. Eastern Shore Premiere Cinema

NOW PLAYING LA LA LAND Crescent Theater HIDDEN FIGURES All listed multiplex theaters. FENCES All listed multiplex theaters. MANCHESTER BY THE SEA Carmike Wharf PASSENGERS All listed multiplex theaters. ASSASSIN’S CREED All listed multiplex theaters. SING All listed multiplex theaters. WHY HIM

All listed multiplex theaters. ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY All listed multiplex theaters. COLLATERAL BEAUTY All listed multiplex theaters. OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY Regal Mobile Stadium 18, Carmike Wharf 15, Wynnsong 16 MOANA All listed multiplex theaters. FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM All listed multiplex theaters. ARRIVAL Regal Mobile Stadium 18 TROLLS Eastern Shore Premiere Cinema

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GENERAL INTEREST Distinguished Lecture Series The University of South Alabama Gulf Shores campus second annual Distinguished Lecture Series will be Thursday, Jan. 12, 6:30 p.m., at 19470 Oak Road W. in Gulf Shores. To register, call 251-460-7200 or visit www.

the Meyer Civic Center, 1930 W. 2nd St., Gulf Shores. www.gulfspillrestoration. Science Cafe Tuesday, Jan. 17 at Moe’s Bar B Que, 701 Spring Hill Ave. Dr. Alison Robertson will present: “Algae: the good, the bad and the ugly.” Free and open to the public. Call 251-460-6106.

Bottle Creek Indian Mounds Blakeley State Park will lead an excusion to the Bottle Creek Mounds, one of the Gulf Coast’s largest Native American mound centers, Saturday, Jan. 14. The tour boards at 9:30 a.m. at Lower Bryant’s Landing and returns at 1 p.m. Call 251-626-0798 or visit blakelypark. com.

Winter Wednesday at Bellingrath Winter Wednesday sessions are held each week through Feb. 22 in the Magnolia Room. “Lost Mansions of Mobile” with Tom McGehee will take place Wednesday, Jan. 18, at 10:30 a.m. Registration requested; call 251-9732217, ext. 111, or email bellingrath@

Premier Wedding Show The Premier Wedding Show will be coming to The Renaissance Battle House Hotel and Spa on Sunday, Jan. 15, from 1-5 p.m. Visit www.premierweddingshow. net.

League of Women Voters The League of Women Voters of Mobile welcomes Dr. Jaclyn Bunch, Wednesday, Jan. 18, at 11:30 a.m. at Mobile Bel Air Marriott. This event is open to the public but reservations are required. Please RSVP to Jane Gordon at 402-3321 or

Lee-Jackson Salute Join the Sons of the Confederate Veterans for the annual Lee-Jackson Salute, Sunday, Jan. 15, at 2 p.m. at Magnolia Cemetery, corner of Virginia and Ann streets. MLK Memorial Breakfast The Port City Chapter of Blacks in Government, Inc. presents our 28th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Breakfast. Monday, Jan. 16, at 8:30 a.m., at Bishop State Community College’s Central Campus, Yvonne Kennedy Auditorium. $25 each or $250 for a table of 10. 251-208-7111 or MLK Day of Service Mobile United invites volunteers to Tricentenial Park Monday, Jan. 16, 8:30 11:30 a.m. for a community clean-up on Three Mile Creek. Beverages and lunch will be provided. Alabama Trustee Implementation Group Public comment on the draft restoration plan and EIS will be held Jan. 17 at 6 p.m. at Shelby Hall, 101 Bienville Blvd., Dauphin Island; and Jan. 18 at 6 p.m. at

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Riverside Ice Riverside Ice will be open at Mobile’s Cooper Riverside Park until Jan. 14. Admission is $10 for adults and $8 for children age 12 and under. Every Tuesday, each child accompanied by at least one adult will be admitted for free. Visit Dauphin Island Boardwalk Talks Boardwalk Talks are held the first and third Wednesday of each month at 11:15 a.m. at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, 101 Bienville Blvd. Call 251-861-2141. Midtown Optimist Club Join Midtown Optimist Club every Wednesday at noon for lunch at Azalea City Golf Course. For reservations and more information, please call 251-3483542. Toastmasters Do you want to learn how to deliver a speech like a pro or gain leadership skills to advance your career? Toastmasters International meets regularly at six locations in Mobile and Baldwin counties.

Visit for more information.

FUNDRAISER Fins Wings & Chili Cook-Off: Supporting the continued restoration of the Little Red Schoolhouse and Dauphin Island Elementary School, there will be a cook-off Saturday, Jan. 14, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 1600 Bienville Blvd., Dauphin Island. Call 251-648-2397.

ARTS LoDa Artwalk Join downtown art galleries, institutions, studios and unique shops as they open their doors and welcome you inside to see beautiful artwork, sample delicious food and hear the sounds of the LoDa Artwalk. Friday, Jan. 13 from 6-9 p.m. in the Lower Dauphin Street district. “Nunsense” Performances Jan. 13, 14, 20 and 21 at 7:30 p.m. and Jan. 15 and 22 at 2 p.m. at the Chickasaw Civic Theatre. Call 251457-8887 or visit Mobile Jewish Film Festival The 2016 Mobile Jewish Film Festival will show 10 acclaimed Jewish films at venues around Mobile and Baldwin counties Jan 10-24. Visit “Chapter Two” Performances Friday, Jan. 13, through Sunday, Jan. 29, at the Joe Jefferson Playhouse, 11 S. Carlen St. Showtime is 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Call 251-471-1534 or visit Auditions: “Much Ado About Nothing,” The Joe Jefferson Players will hold open auditions for “Much Ado About Nothing,” Sunday and Monday, Jan. 16-17, at 6:30 p.m. at the Playhouse, 11 S. Carlen St. For details, visit www.joejeffersonplayers. com or call 251-471-1534. Mobile Mystery Dinners A performance of “The Mardi Gras Murder of Montague Charlington” will take place Saturday, Jan. 14, at 7 p.m. at the Riverview Plaza Hotel. Tickets

Tuesday of every month, 7-9:30 p.m. at Via! Bayou La Batre City Council: Health, Fitness & Enrichment Center, 1717 Second and fourth Thursday at 5:30 Dauphin St. Email cyoungblood9278@ p.m., 13785 S. Wintzell Ave., www., call 251-623-9183 or visit www. Chickasaw City Council: Second and fourth Tuesday at 7 p.m., 224 N. Craft SPORTING EVENTS/ACTIVITIES Highway, 251-452-6450. Ballroom dance Citronelle City Council: Second and Bridge lessons The Moonlight Chasse Ballroom Dance fourth Thursday at 6:30 p.m., 19135 The Mobile Bridge Center offers free Society hosts dances the first and third Main St., 251-866-7973. bridge lessons each Tuesday beginning at Monday of every month, 7-9:30 p.m., at Creola City Council: Second and 6 p.m. at 1510 University Blvd. Arrive a few Fitzpen Place, 11247 State Highway 31 in fourth Thursday at 6 p.m., 190 Dead minutes early to register. Call the Bridge Spanish Fort. Email Lake Road, #A, 251-675-8142. Center at 251-666-2147, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Daphne City Council: First and third WORKSHOPS Monday at 6:30 p.m., 1705 Main St. New Year’s Resolution Exercise Classes Work sessions are the second Monday “Oh My Aching Shoulder: Understanding of each month at 6:30 p.m., www. Palmer Pillans Middle School has new Common Causes and Solutions” exercise classes starting Jan. 17: yoga, John L. Todd, M.D., medical director for Guts, Butts & Thighs, Guns & Buns, Ab Dauphin Island Town Council: The Shoulder Center, will discuss common Attack and Yoga Tone. Call 251-463-7980 First and third Tuesdays at 7 causes of and solutions for aching or visit p.m., 1011 Bienville Blvd., www. shoulders. Orange Beach Adult Activity Center (26251 Canal Road) beginning Dance Classes Elberta Town Council: Third Tuesday at 10 a.m. on Jan. 13, and at Baldwin Palmer Pillans Middle School offers of each month at 6 p.m. in the town Bone & Joint in Daphne (1505 Daphne new dance classes starting Jan. 17: hall. Workshop meeting on the second Ave.) beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 17. Beginning Ballroom, Beyond Basic Tuesday. Reservations are required; call 251-621Ballroom, Dance Fit Line Dance, Fairhope City Council: Second and 5377. and beginner and intermediate Belly fourth Monday at 6 p.m., 161 N. Section Dancing. Call 251-463-7980 or visit St. Work sessions are held before each PUBLIC MEETINGS council meeting at 4:30 p.m., www. Baldwin County Commission: First and Fairhope Planning Commission: Holy yoga third Tuesday at 8:30 a.m., 322 Courthouse First Monday at 5 p.m., 161 N. Section Tamara William leads lunchtime holy Square, Bay Minette. Work sessions are St. For more information visit www. yoga at The Steeple on St. Francis every the second and fourth Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. The cost is $15. Participants rotating between Bay Minette, the Foley Foley City Council: First and third will connect with Christ in mind, body and Satellite Courthouse, the Fairhope Satellite Monday at 5:30 p.m., 407 E. Laurel Ave. spirit. Call 251-656-3269. Courthouse and the Baldwin County Work sessions begin at 4 p.m., www. Central Annex Building in Robertsdale. Ballroom dance Baldwin County Planning Commission: Gulf Shores City Council: Second and Azalea Ballroom Dance Club hosts dances First Thursday at 6 p.m., 22251 Palmer St., fourth Mondays at 4 p.m., 1905 W. First with live music the second and fourth Robertsdale, St.,

include dinner and unlimited wine. Advance the Mobile Museum of Art offers free reservations are required; call 251-415admission to all visitors. No reservations 3092. are necessary. MMoA is at 4850 Museum Drive. Call 251-208-5200.


Fairhope’s Founding There is quite a story behind Fairhope’s founding in 1894. Learn more about it at the Fairhope Museum of History, 24 N. Section St. The museum is open daily (except Sunday and Monday) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 251-929-1471. “Filming the Camps” The History Museum of Mobile will exhibit “Filming the Camps: From Hollywood to Nuremberg” through Jan. 16. The exhibit features the stories of three film directors as they documented Nazi atrocities during World War II. Visit Tea for Two Tuesday afternoons at 2 p.m. the Fairhope Museum of History hosts a tea with a lecture on Fairhope history. The Jan. 17 speaker will be Betty Jo Haynie. Call 251-929-1471. Little Discoveries Outside the Box: This “Little Discovery” in the Exploreum’s Wharf of Wonder, aimed at children 6 and under, explores how innovation and creativity can lead to a world of possibilities starting with a simple cardboard box. Wednesdays at 10 a.m. Call 251-208-6893 or email jholland@ for more information. Thursdays at MMoA Every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.,

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Bunting leaving WKRG



s Nexstar Broadcasting Group prepares to take over WKRG-TV, another major defection has taken place. General Manager Mark Bunting announced last week he’s leaving Channel 5 and heading to Montgomery to assume the same position for WSFA-TV. Bunting’s departure comes less than three months after Mike Rausch ended a seven-year stint as news director and left for a job at KRDO-TV in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Chris Best is set to take over Rausch’s old spot next week, coming from WMC in Memphis. While WKRG insiders say Bunting’s departure was something they thought might be coming giving ownership changes, they still were upset the popular GM is leaving. The Spring Hill College graduate has been an active and public general manager, often taking a hands-on approach to promoting his stations and working in the community. His work as a “shoe guy” at last spring’s Wine, Women and Shoes fundraiser earned him legendary status if nothing else. “Leaving this awesome television station, the extraordinary staff and the wonderful Gulf Coast community is bittersweet, but I have been offered a great opportunity to serve as the VP/GM of Raycom’s NBC affiliate, WSFA in Montgomery, Alabama,” Bunting said. “I was not actively looking to make a change, but Raycom reached out to me and provided me a great offer that was well suited for me and my career. I am excited for the new challenges ahead. Over the past five years of my VP/GM tenure at WKRG and

WFNA our stations have experienced a number of changes that I am very proud of being a part of.” Some of those changes include the addition of 14 hours of weekly news, hiring additional staff, building a new set, building renovations, increased community support and involvement, and the winning of many awards, he said.  “WKRG represents some of the finest professionals in the business and the station will continue to grow and thrive long after my departure,” he added. “Of course, our success is also the result of so many folks in our viewing area who have taken the time every day to watch us and connect with us online. I offer my WKRG/ WFNA family much thanks for their love and support and the wonderful experiences I have had with them over the past 30 years.” Bunting said his last day with the station will be Jan. 20. Lipford live For those who want a more interactive experience with Mobile-based home improvement guru Danny Lipford, January is your lucky month. Every Friday this month the host of “Today’s Homeowner” will be taking to Facebook Live for some Q&A. Lipford and co-host Allen Lyle will field questions and toss back answers each Friday, 12-12:30 p.m., at https://www.facebook. com/todayshomeownermedia/. It’s a good chance for local fans of the show to get a little home improvement help from the master.

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THE NEW YORK TIMES CROSSWORD PUZZLE ROLLING IN THE AISLES BY MATTHEW SEWELL / EDITED BY WILL SHORTZ ACROSS 1 Sponged 8 Asylum 14 Takes from page to screen, say 20 Pope with the longest reign between St. Peter and Pius VI (A.D. 67-1799) 21 Left speechless 22 On the down-low 23 They may be sealed or broken 24 Marquee locale 26 Degree in math 27 Gruesome 29 Companion of Han in “The Force Awakens” 30 H.O.V. ____ 31 Sénégal summers 33 Running figure 34 Players last produced in July 2016 36 Epic singers 37 Kicks back 39 Rural postal abbr. 40 Worthiness 41 Samberg and Serkis 42 Home of the Triple-A Mud Hens 44 Gets bogged down 45 Vitamin Shoppe competitor 46 Vegan sandwich filler 48 Calrissian of “The Empire Strikes Back” 49 One end of Paris’s ChampsÉlysées 53 Worked as a stockbroker 54 Capitol group 56 Designer Saarinen 57 Post-op program 58 Main stem 59 Rap group inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016 60 Pulled off 61 Like an unswept hearth 62 Brawl 63 “That Latin Beat!” bandleader 65 Advantage 66 Drone regulator, for short 67 Mrs., in Montreux 68 Magic Johnson, for one 69 Apothecary’s container 70 She, in Spanish 72 Passenger jet 75 Quinze + quinze 77 Actor with the line “Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the War Room!” 79 Fits snugly 80 Indra, to Hindus 81 Developer’s purchase 82 Giraffe-like beast 83 What might cost you an arm and a leg? 84 Washroom feature

87 Totally captivates 88 Muzzle 89 One who knows all the shortcuts, maybe 92 Fill in for 93 Game box specification 94 Flaky minerals 96 “Mind … blown!” 97 Glue trap brand 98 Tolkien meanie 99 Beverage with a floral bouquet 101 Hedge-fund pro 102 Farmers’ market alternative 106 Admit 108 West Coast city known as the Track and Field Capital of the World 109 Mischievous sort 110 Miles away 111 Candy known for its orange wrapping 112 Muss up 113 Things always underfoot

Carter Center 10 Go-to choice, slangily 11 Weapon in some Call of Duty games 12 “I didn’t know that!” 13 John Glenn player in “The Right Stuff” 14 Sore 15 Fawn’s mother 16 Winter fall? 17 Early explosive device 18 Modish 19& 25 Financial regulator’s requirement 28 Meteorological lead-in to stratus 32 Resolutely supported 34 Like some salsa 35 “Antigone” antagonist 36 Judge’s seat 38 Zig or zag 40 Capital of Belarus 43 Fog might push it back, briefly 44 Hawaiian “thanks” 45 “Brilliant!” DOWN 46 Attacks from above 1 George Eliot title surname 47 Exclusive event before 2 “Swan Lake” role public availability 3 Place for bows and strings 48 Exam with a section known 4 Corporation’s head tech as “Logic Games,” for short expert, for short 49 Fighting tooth and nail 5 Tort basis 50 Hitching post? 6 Wrap up around 51 Japanese “thanks” 7 Tosses 52 Made peak calls? 8 Not stay on topic 54 Unmitigated 9 University associated with the 55 Sin of those in Dante’s

fifth circle 58 Quarters followers 62 Chic 63 “Pretty please?” 64 Instruments played close to the chest, informally 65 “Still, after all this time … ” 68 Imitates Sylvester the Cat 71 Results of treaties 73 Something to tear into, informally? 74 Bounds 75 Nautical sealer 76 Yemeni capital 78 Immense spans 80 It comes in tubes 82 It lays out the lines of authority 83 Show anxiety, in a way 84 Nag to death 85 Build up, as interest 86 Straight man 87 Boy’s name that’s an Indiana city 88 Brazilian supermodel Bündchen 90 Vital lines 91 Slogs away 94 Kind of fiber 95 Attach, as a patch 98 They’re found in veins 99 Elephant pluckers of myth 100 Marching band? 103 Venice-to-Trieste dir. 104 ____ Paulo 105 Volunteer State sch. 107 Card game cry



Mobile’s Gen. Gary Cooper subject of new biography, ‘Ten Stars’ BY MICHAEL THOMASON / CONTRIBUTING WRITER


arine Corps Gen. Gary Cooper is a leading member of a prominent African-American family in Mobile. Since his birth in 1936, he has served his community, state and nation in many ways and in many offices. Kendal Weaver’s biography covers his fascinating life beautifully in a book I challenge you to put down once you have started reading it. People from this part of Alabama will find it especially interesting as it tells the story of Mobile’s last seven decades from a fresh angle, and does it well. As Cooper is part of the African-American elite here, we learn what it was like to be an ambitious and hardworking black Mobilian and American since the ‘40s. It is more than a biography of a single man; it is the story of his remarkable family. It also discusses the people he knew and worked with, whether here or at Notre Dame University, in the Marine Corps in the United States and Vietnam, political service in Montgomery and Washington, D.C., and as U.S. ambassador to Jamaica. While he was at it, Cooper was a very successful local businessman, too. As I read this book, I wondered how he had the time to do all he has done and earn the respect and friendship of so many different people from all walks of life. “Ten Stars” is a well written, accurate and optimistic presentation of Cooper’s life and that of his family. Author Weaver, who worked for The Associated Press in Montgomery for most of his long career, has been careful to document his story. He says it is not an “academic biography,” but in many ways it is. The story he tells is researched and absolutely believable. I think most academics would be proud to do as well. The book is even-handed and almost gentle at times as

it relates Cooper’s story, from Jim Crow Mobile to being a pioneer in destroying racial and gender barriers in the U.S. He did so gracefully but unequivocally, whether in the rice paddies of Vietnam leading a Marine infantry company (the first black officer in the Corps to do so), in his home town or in the Alabama Legislature, and in the Pentagon. A quiet and friendly man with a famous sense of humor, Cooper was well liked and very effective as he did his job, wherever he was. At 6-foot-6, he was hard to miss (though the Viet Cong did often). He always wore his uniform well and insisted that others do the same. Appearance was always important, but only because it helped him command the respect and obedience he deserved. No matter where he was or what he was doing he was unmistakably a Marine! Sometimes this proved difficult for his children when they were growing up, but there was no relaxation in his standards of appearance, performance and achievement. As people in Mobile and on the Eastern Shore read this book, they will recognize name after name, black and white, whether in reference to his childhood friend Prof. Joaquin Holloway Jr., his fellow state legislator “Sonny” Callahan, local political leader (and Catholic) Gen. Joe Langan or dozens of other familiar names with whom he worked. This is a uniquely Mobile story. The Cooper family has produced generations of well educated and politically active leaders such as the General and his younger brother, A.J. Cooper, the first African-American mayor of Prichard. Several others have served in the Marine Corps. While many of his children and grandchildren have moved away to pursue their careers, the General still lives on Palmetto Street in the Oakleigh Garden District, not far from Down the Bay where he grew up but far from the

Jim Crow world of his youth. He has remained loyal to the city and is proud to be able to retire at home, spending time with childhood friends such as Dr. Holloway or keeping an eye on business interests. These include the Christian Benevolent Funeral Home, which has been in business since 1928, and the Commonwealth National Bank, whose founders he assisted nearly 40 years ago. He is still an active manager of both companies. Due to the demands of Cooper’s professional and business life, his personal life has seen a few bumps. He has been married three times and did not take easily to the demands of parenthood when he found himself raising his children as a single parent. Born and raised a Catholic, his relationship with the church in Mobile was strained after Archbishop Thomas Joseph Toolen, a staunch segregationist, expelled younger brother Billy for attempting to integrate McGill Institute. Toolen also refused to allow any of Cooper’s brothers and sisters to enroll in any parochial schools in the archdiocese. All of this happened just after the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954 declared the doctrine of separate but equal in public education unconstitutional. Cooper and his family never forgot that or its impact on A.J. Cooper Sr., who eventually nearly went bankrupt sending his children to schools and colleges outside the South. In the end, his father committed suicide. As a businessman and a Marine officer, Cooper was conservative in most areas, except race relations. He fought in college and in the Corps against racial barriers and racist attitudes and practices and changed many minds. Believing in true equality of opportunity, he demanded that the Marines enlist more African-Americans and promote the best to the officer corps. The Marines had a decidedly racist history and Cooper took this on and changed it. It took years, but the changes stuck. He was very involved with the Montford Point Marines, men who had been trained in a segregated boot camp there from World War II until 1949. These men were assigned servile jobs after graduating and only one was ever promoted to the officer corps. Their story has been told in an excellent book and TV documentary by Melton McLaurin, once a professor of history at the University of South Alabama and a noted Southern historian. The Cooper story reached everywhere, from Down the Bay to Vietnam and Washington, D.C., and beyond. Weaver tells this remarkable story so very well that it deserves to be widely read and appreciated — nowhere more than in Cooper’s hometown, Mobile. Kendal Weaver, “Ten Stars: The African American Journey of J. Gary Cooper — Marine General, Diplomat, Businessman and Politician” (NewSouth Books, Montgomery, 2016), ISBN 978-1-58838-324-2; 352 pp., $29.95.

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Spring Hill’s Sims named to baseball coaches HOF



wo icons are woven into the lore of Spring Hill College baseball. One is historic Stan Galle Field, which has been the site of Badger games since 1889. Many consider this the oldest active collegiate baseball field in the United States. The other legend is Frank Sims, who took over as head coach with three weeks left in the 1985 season. Since then, he has directed the Badgers to 822 victories. Sims has been named as a Conference Coach of the Year on five occasions, most recently for the 2014 Independent Collegiate Athletic Association. His greatest recognition, though, will take place Friday, Jan. 20, when Sims is inducted into the Alabama Baseball Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame. The banquet will be at the Marriott Hotel on Highway 280 in Birmingham. “It’s really both an exciting and humbling thing to have happen to you,” Sims said. “When you get into coaching you don’t set a goal of being in a hall of fame. You just want to work with the players and try to win as many games as you can. So while it’s nice to be recognized, it’s really more about the young men who have played the game. They are the ones who have to go out and do the things on and off the field that it takes to win.” During his time on The Hill, Sims has led the Badgers to 23 20-win seasons, six 30-win campaigns and a pair of 40-win years. Included are four conference championships. Most of the victories came while the Badgers were playing in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. For the last two years, Spring Hill has been a provisional member of Division II in the National Col-

legiate Athletic Association. The move to the larger organization has not slowed down the Badgers. During 2015, Spring Hill was a perfect 16-0 in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association to go with a 26-14 overall record. Last season, SHC again topped the conference with an 18-3 mark while going 2916 overall. “I’m so proud of the accomplishments we’ve had at Spring Hill, and we’ve come a long way since 1985,” he said. “I want to thank Spring Hill College and everyone who has been a part of this program.” Sims got his first collegiate coach experience at Milton College in Wisconsin. The team went 36-10 and reached the NAIA Regional Tournament. He was completing his master’s degree at the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater when he got the call from Mobile. He has spent time in international competition. Sims coached the U.S. to the 2009 and 2010 championships of Prague Baseball Week, while also coaching American teams to runner-up finishes in 2008 and third-place finishes in 2005 and 2006. Born in Charleston, Illinois, Sims was a pitcher for the University of Iowa baseball team that was the co-Big Ten Conference champion in 1973. He and his wife, Dana, have four children (Drew and his wife, Caitlin; Sarah and her husband, Charlie Anderson; Kelsey and her husband, Tyler Welch; and their youngest son, Brian) and two grandchildren. “What makes this even more fun for me is that (St. Paul’s Episcopal head coach) Andy Robbins will be in the

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same class, and he was my son Drew’s high school coach,” Sims said. “When you think about all of the great names that are in the ALABCA Hall of Fame, it’s really humbling to be included in such good company.” Those who wish to attend the induction banquet can purchase tickets online at or with a check payable to ALABCA mailed to 401 South Bolton Ave., Sylacauga, AL 35150. Tickets cost $40 per adult and $20 per child and must be purchased by Jan. 13.

Sports briefs

• Starla Daggan set a University of Mobile single-game record by scoring 42 points in a 69-61 Southern States Athletic Conference win over Brenau. For her effort, the senior guard was named the league’s player of the week. She leads the Lady Rams with an average of 23.8 points per game. • The Battle of Baldwin fishing tournament was recently hosted by Robertsdale High School. The 33 young anglers reeled in 143 fish. The top team was Fairhope, followed respectively by Robertsdale, Spanish Fort, Bayshore, Elberta and Foley. The Total Slam winner was Ian Parish (10.5-inch bass, 20inch speck, 18-inch redfish, 9.75-inch white trout). Allen Lores landed the top largemouth (21.25 inches), Whit Whitaker the largest white trout (12.5 inches) and Wyatt Johnson the biggest bass (22.75 inches). Coach Corey Stockman organized the event to promote conservation of fisheries while allowing the community’s young people to have fun competing as fishermen. • University of Mobile’s Hannah Buck was named to the Tachikara-NAIA Volleyball All-America Team. She finished the 2016 season with 480 kills, 134 digs and 70 blocks. Her season high of 22 kills came in the national playoffs against Webber International. • The 2017 Alabama Waterfowl Stamp art contest is now open through Feb. 15. The competition is open to state residents. Only original horizontal art depicting a species of North American migratory duck or goose will be eligible. (Mallard, American Wigeon and Canada Goose are not eligible, having appeared on the three previous stamps). • Three judges from the fields of art, ornithology and wildlife conservation will select the winning design for the 2018-19 stamp. Revenues from sale of the stamps are used to purchase, establish or improve migratory waterfowl habitat. For information, call 256-437-2788 or send an email to seth.maddox@dcnr. • University of Mobile’s Leith Rawson competed in the 60th annual NAIA Cross-Country Championships in Elsah, Illinois. The Satsuma native ran a season-best time of 27:27. She was the first UM runner to participate in eight years.

STYLE HOROSCOPES GEMINI COMPOSES SOME PUBLIC SHAME CAPRICORN (12/23-1/19) — You’ll stay in on Friday the 13th to avoid being slaughtered by a hockey mask-wearing serial killer with a machete. You’ll watch the “Scream” series of movies instead, which are so poorly acted you’ll just wish you were dead. AQUARIUS (1/20-2/18) — Despite your good intentions, teaching the residents of a nursing home how to “Juju on that beat” is not the volunteer action the organizers of the MLK Day of Service had in mind. But damn if those grannies can’t get down. PISCES (2/19-3/20) — You’ll eat one too many during next week’s “Taco Tuesday” event, and spend the next day in the restroom at work. Even though its name is just as catchy, “Why me, God? Wednesdays” will not be as ubiquitous as its Latin-American counterpart. ARIES (3/21-4/19) — After being whistled at by several local doctors, you’ll accept a lucrative offer to become a pharmaceutical sales representative. While you’ll make close to $1 million a year, you’ll eventually grow tired of stethoscope sex puns. TAURUS (4/20-5/20) — The local WalMart won’t allow you to set foot inside their establishment after discovering you and a friend are organizing a strip poker tournament in the board games aisle. The incident could have probably gone over better had so many of the store’s regulars not decided to join the fun. GEMINI (5/21-6/21) — You’ll take your significant other to the Mobile Big Band Society’s dinner dance at Battleship Park for Valentine’s Day. The whiskey sours will go to your head and you’ll do your best Glenn Miller impression on stage, to sustained boos. CANCER (6/22-7/22) — After days of ice turn to beach weather within the same week, you’ll be the first to realize the planet we live on is no longer Earth. In fact, we’ve all been moved to Mars and had our memories wiped. That explains Mobile’s climate. LEO (7/23-8/23) — During a chance meeting with Auburn’s head football coach at Serda’s downtown, you’ll accidentally spill your drink on the visor-wearing, offensive “mastermind.” When he begins to stutter and shut down, you’ll discover he’s a “Westworld”-style robot built to lose big games. VIRGO (8/24-9/22) — During a weekend getaway to New Orleans following the start of Carnival season, you’ll get drunk on hand grenades and fight anyone who doesn’t agree Mardi Gras started in Mobile. You’ll break down after everyone either agrees with you or is a Swedish tourist. LIBRA (9/23-10/22) — You’ll be arrested after you are unsuccessful in your protest of the cutting down of a live tree from Public Safety Memorial Park. You’ll attempt to steal one of the many fake trees in Government Plaza in retaliation. Your “I’m just getting the city back” defense won’t work. SCORPIO (10/23-11/21) — In order to show someone how serious you are about something, you’ll make the “Jeff Sessions’ Senate confirmation face” all day. Based on your body language alone, people will deduce you are both incredibly austere and probably boring as hell. SAGITTARIUS (11/22-12/22) — You’ll inject some excitement into Friday’s Artwalk by making it Artrun. You’ll hurdle over painters and pole vault over musicians on your way to the imaginary finish line in your mind, where you’ll win an aluminum medal for participation.


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Laissez les bon temps rouler! BY BOOZIE BEER NUES/SOCIAL BUTTERFLY


rrrrrrrr! Oh wait, never mind, it’s hot again. Not sure what Mother Nature is thinking or doing, but she needs to chill, literally. I don’t understand how we go from arctic blast (still a little bitter we didn’t get a snow/ice day like our North Alabama friends) to the 70s. I know I am no weather woman, but something seems a little off. Don’t get me wrong, I hate cold, rainy days. But what I don’t hate is being able to wear a sweater or light jacket. Not to mention, Mobile folks act like the world is ending when it gets cold, which in turn is bad for business. But have no fear! Some of my spies braved the oh-so-frigid temps to bring you heartwarming gossip!

the Joe Cain Day events for the city. Chief Slacabamorinico gave an invocation to officially kick off Mobile’s 2017 Carnival season. Music was supplied by the Youth Jazz Studio and Bay City Brass Bands. A variety of New Orleans and Mobile king cakes were served. Those finding the babies were declared Lord and Lady of Misrule and had absolute authority over the festivities, which they exercised with minimal decorum. The krewe then moved via trolley to an official after-party at Callaghan’s, and on to the unofficial after-party on Dauphin Street, lasting until the wee hours of Jan. 7. Picking up where they left off, on Jan. 7 there was a ball at The Grounds, Queens With Dreams. The lady revelers were all dressed as different Barbies. They ranged from Western to Ballerina to Malibu and so on. Laissez les bon temps rouler Boozie’s spy reported the leading lady wore Mardi Gras has officially begun. I know, a stunning white dress and white angel wings. I know. My liver needed more time, too. But Guess she was hoping for Victoria’s Secret anwhen you are a Mobilian, you just have to let the good times roll. And this past weekend, my gel wings instead of Barbie’s Dream House, but either way my spy said she looked amazing. spies said at least a few groups of revelers did The compliments don’t stop there — my just that. spy also reported Fox 10’s Kati Weis was the On Jan. 6 the Church Street Graveyard Sociemcee of the ball and was wearing a beautiful ety held its inaugural Twelfth Night Revelry at an undisclosed location. The CSGS was founded red dress. Come on, Barbie, let’s go party! While on the subject of Mardi Gras and my in the 1970s by David Cooper and other civic liver needing more recovery time, I could also leaders to maintain the graveyard and oversee

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have used some more time before king cake season arrived. Everybody is out there trying to get fit but every time you turn around there is a king cake. No complaints, really, except that we don’t have a king cake delivery system. Then again, I don’t want a delivery system if it’s going to be that creepy-looking king cake baby from New Orleans. They may try to claim Mardi Gras and king cakes but they can have that baby! We don’t want it.

Ice, ice, baby

If this past weekend wasn’t ice skating weather, then I don’t know what is. Riverside Ice saw large crowds mostly because it finally felt like an environment you could ice skate in. One of my spies braved the cold so her kiddos could enjoy the opportunity to bundle up and go ice skating. She said they had a blast despite the crowds. Mom’s only complaint was that they need an adult beverage section. Spoken like a true Boozie spy! That is some food for thought, Mr. Mayor. Plus, a little liquid courage might increase ice skate rentals. Like I said, food for thought.   Well, kids, that’s all I’ve got this week. Just remember, whether rain or shine, dramatic or scandalous, or just some plain ol’ Mardi Gras lovin’, I will be there. Ciao!

LAGNIAPPE LEGALS | 251.450-4466 |

PROBATE Notice of Court Proceedings December 9, 2016 CASE NO. 2014-0994-1 In the Probate Court of Mobile County, Alabama Estate of John Thomas Wagner, Deceased On to-wit the 30th day of January, 2017 at 2:00 p.m. in Courtroom 1, Third Floor, Mobile County Government Center Annex, 151 Government Street the court will proceed to consider the Petition for Final Settlement filed by Lauren E. Pederson.  Notice is hereby given to all parties in interest who may appear and contest same or file a proper responsive pleading thereto if they then think proper.     Don Davis, Judge of Probate LAGNIAPPE HD Dec. 22, 29, 2016. Jan. 5, 12, 2017.

STATE OF ALABAMA COUNTY OF MOBILE Notice is hereby given that a bill as described in the synopsis below will be introduced in the 2017 Regular Session of the Legislature of Alabama and application for its passage and enactment will be made: A BILL TO BE ENTITLED AN ACT SYNOPSIS:  Relating to Mobile County; to establish a separate and distinct fund within county government to be known as the 21st Century Policing and Economic Fund; to provide for dedicated revenues to the fund; and direct the expenditures for certain purposes. Lagniappe HD Jan. 12, 19, 26, Feb. 2, 2017.

STATE OF ALABAMA COUNTY OF MOBILE Notice is hereby given that a bill as described in the synopsis below will be introduced in the 2017 Regular Session of the Legislature of Alabama and application for its passage and enactment will be made: A BILL
TO BE ENTITLED AN ACT SYNOPSIS: Relating to Class 2 municipalities; to amend Section 22-6- 220 and Section 22-6-221 of the Code of Alabama 1975, to ensure that any Integrated Care Network shall include a Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) which shall be an equal option for qualifying individuals in an area where PACE exists; to require that the Alabama Medicaid Agency and an integrated care network shall enact regulations to provide that all PACE participants shall be exempt from passive enrollment without a waiting periods; and to provide for dis-enrollment from the integrated care network to enroll in a PACE program. Lagniappe HD Jan. 12, 19, 26, Feb. 2, 2017.

ADVERTISEMENT FOR BIDS Notice is hereby given that the University of South Alabama (Owner) will accept sealed Bids for the following Work: USA FACILITIES STORAGE BUILDING FIRE PROTECTION (SPRINKLER) SYSTEM UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH ALABAMA, MOBILE, ALABAMA USA PROJECT NO. 16-21 BID NO. 7010502 Bids will be received and clocked in at 3:00 p.m. local time on Tuesday, January 31, 2017, in Room AD245 of the USA Administration Building, on the Main Campus of the University of South Alabama. Bids will not be accepted after the time indicated herein and will be returned unopened. A cashier’s check or bid bond payable to the University of South Alabama in an amount not less than five (5) percent of the amount of the bid, but in no event more than $10,000 must accompany the bidder’s proposal. Bid Documents shall be available only through the USA Purchasing Office. Contact as follows: University of South Alabama Purchasing Department 307 University Blvd. N, AD245 (Administration Building) Mobile, AL 36688 PH# (251) 460-6151 FX# (251) 414-8291 ( Bids must be submitted on Proposal Forms furnished in the Bid Documents or copies thereof. The preceding is an abbreviated advertisement. The complete advertisement may be obtained from the location listed above. A Pre-Bid Conference will be held on Thursday, January 19, 2017, at 2:00 p.m. local time, in Room AD 023 of the Administration Building. Those in attendance will include the Owner, Engineer, and consultants. Contract bidders, subcontractors and suppliers are encouraged to attend. A tour of the Project site is scheduled immediately after the conference. All questions concerning the Project should be submitted in writing to the Project Manager at the address listed below. 307 University Blvd. N, AD001 (Administration Building) Mobile, AL 36688 PH# (251) 460-7127 FX# (251) 461-1370 ( Lagniappe HD Jan. 12, 19, 26, 2017.

Deadline for legal advertising in Lagniappe HD is every Monday at 3 p.m. Lagniappe HD is distributed each Thursday. Lagniappe HD offices are located at 1100B Dauphin St. Mobile, AL 36604. For more information or to place your ad call Jackie at 251-450-4466. Or email at

ADVERTISEMENT FOR BIDS Notice is hereby given that the University of South Alabama (Owner) will accept sealed Bids for the following Work: USA RENOVATION SERVICES BUILDING STORM DRAINAGE IMPROVEMENTS UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH ALABAMA, MOBILE, ALABAMA USA PROJECT NO. 16-96 BID NO. 7010601 Bids will be received and clocked in at 3:00 p.m. local time on Thursday, February 9, 2017, in Room AD245 of the USA Administration Building, on the Main Campus of the University of South Alabama. Bids will not be accepted after the time indicated herein and will be returned unopened. A cashier’s check or bid bond payable to the University of South Alabama in an amount not less than five (5) percent of the amount of the bid, but in no event more than $10,000 must accompany the bidder’s proposal. Bid Documents shall be available January 17 and only through the USA Purchasing Office. Contact as follows: University of South Alabama Purchasing Department 307 University Blvd. N, AD245 Mobile, AL 36688 PH# (251) 460-6151 FX# (251) 414-8291 ( Bids must be submitted on Proposal Forms furnished in the Bid Documents or copies thereof. The preceding is an abbreviated advertisement. The complete advertisement may be obtained from the location listed above. A Pre-Bid Conference will be held on Tuesday, January 31, 2017, at 10:00 a.m. local time, in Room AD 023 of the Administration Building. Those in attendance will include the Owner, Engineer, and consultants. Contract bidders, subcontractors and suppliers are encouraged to attend. A tour of the Project site is scheduled immediately after the conference. All questions concerning the Project should be submitted in writing to the Project Manager at the address listed below. 307 University Blvd. N, AD001 Mobile, AL 36688 PH# (251) 460-7127 FX# (251) 461-1370 ( Lagniappe HD Jan. 12, 19, 26, 2017.

NOTICE OF SALE The following vehicle will be sold on February 17, 2017 – Time -12pm - at  1055 Pecan St., Mobile, AL 36603. 2000 Honda Civic 2HGEJ661XYH516039 Lagniappe HD Jan. 12, 19, 2017.

NOTICE OF SALE The following vehicle will be sold on February 17, 2017 - Time -12pm - at  29824 Frederick Blvd., Daphne, AL 36526. 2000 Suzuki VS800 GL JS1VS52A0Y2103030 Lagniappe HD Jan. 12, 19, 2017.

NOTICE OF SALE The following vehicles will be sold on February 17, 2017 – Time - 12pm - at  13930 S. Sprinkle Ave., Bayou La Batre, AL 36509. 2006 Chevrolet Tahoe C15 1GNEC13Z36R163802 2003 Ford Excursion 1FMNU44L03EA80652 Lagniappe HD Jan. 12, 19, 2017.

NOTICE OF SALE The following vehicle will be sold on February 17, 2017 - Time -12pm - at  8915 B Hwy. 90 W., Irvington, AL 36544. 2005 Ford Explorer 1FMZU63K05UB05323 Lagniappe HD Jan. 12, 19, 2017.

NOTICE OF SALE The following vehicles will be sold on February 17, 2017 - Time -12pm - at  5971 Hwy. 90, Theodore, AL 36582. 2002 Toyota Camry 4T1BE32K32U533168 2009 Dodge Caravan 2D8HN44E79R683126 2000 Chrysler Cirrus LX 1C3EJ46X0YN226590 2014 Nissan Versa 3N1CN7AP2EK454773 Lagniappe HD Jan. 12, 19, 2017.

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Profile for Lagniappe

Lagniappe: January 12 - January 18, 2017  

Lagniappe: January 12 - January 18, 2017