Archives for September 2015

9-25-15 DHS vs Jackson gallery

Local armories slated to close due to budget deficit

According to a release from the National Guard on Wednesday, the armory located in Demopolis, Ala., is slated to close by 2017.

The Alabama National Guard facilities master plan originally called for the closing and consolidation of 15 armories before fiscal year 2017 due to budget constraints. Now, a $200,000 reduction to the National Guard budget for fiscal year 2016 has resulted in the slated closure of six additional facilities, including the armory located in Demopolis.

As of now, armories located in Albertville and Monroeville have already been closed. Of the original 15 to close, 13 remain, plus the additional six announced in Wednesday’s release.

The closure of the armories comes amid numerous closures statewide as a result of the $82 million deficit in the general fund budget approved by lawmakers earlier this month. In addition to the armories, 31 driver license satellite offices and five state parks are scheduled to close. The new fiscal year begins Thursday.


The complete list of armories slated to close is listed below:

  • Aliceville
  • Brantley
  • Camden
  • Elba
  • Fort Deposit
  • Geneva
  • Hartford
  • Jackson
  • Jasper
  • Scottsboro
  • Sheffield
  • Sylacauga
  • Vernon

Additional closures include:

  • Alexander City
  • Demopolis
  • Eufaula
  • Huntsville
  • Marion
  • Winfield


The Alabama National Guard released the following statement on the closures:

Years of sustained funding shortfalls for the Alabama National Guard operations and maintenance budget have reached a critical juncture. The State of Alabama and the Federal government operate the National Guard on a Master Cooperative Agreement (MCA), which obligates a cost-sharing framework for National Guard Armories throughout the state. The typical cost sharing relationship in armories requires a 50/50 share between State and Federal funds. The Alabama National Guard “Twenty Five Year Master Plan” defines the objective number, size, and location of armories throughout the state to meet current and future requirements for the Guard. This master plan in coordination with National Guard Bureau is dependent upon a state budget that is consistent and funded to an adequate level for investment to construct new facilities and sustain, restore and modernize existing facilities to Army standards.

Over the past six years, the Alabama National Guard has identified over $100 million dollars of deferred maintenance, repair, and modernization requirements for facilities constructed from 1950 to 1990 that fail to meet the Army’s mission requirements of quality, quantity and mission support. In the past six years the Alabama Army National Guard has received over $126 million Federal dollars for the MCA Federal share obligation of which only $16 million was provided by the State budget to match these federal funds. The lack of state matching funds resulted in investment of Federal match funds to be allocated to lower priority and fully federal funded facilities rather than armories. This funding shortfall in deferred investment also forces the deliberate closure and consolidation of armories until a consistent and adequate long term funding solution can be achieved, allowing the state to meet its minimum obligations to the MCA.

The Alabama National Guard facilities Master Plan includes closing and consolidation of 15 armories between fiscal years 2014 to 2017. The $200,000 reduction to the NG budget for fiscal year 2016 forced a corresponding reduction in the only place the NG can reduce expenses without incurring unacceptable risk in fiscal oversight and property accountability; facilities operations and maintenance. By reducing six additional armories, we effectively reduce the facility operations and maintenance costs to meet the State budget we are given by the Legislature for 2016.

The National Guard Twenty Five Year Master Plan is to close the first 15 armories of which two have been closed to date in Albertville and Monroeville. The 13 remaining armories are located in the following cities: Sheffield, Scottsboro, Vernon, Jasper, Aliceville, Sylacauga, Camden, Fort Deposit, Jackson, Brantley, Elba, Geneva and Hartford. The six additional armories that will close are: Huntsville, Winfield, Alexander City, Demopolis, Marion, and Eufaula. The criteria used to select these locations was the cost to operate and maintain the armory, condition of the armory and the armories ability to meet mission support (i.e.; recruiting, equipment storage, force structure accommodation) currently and in the future. The plan prioritizes the facilities that can be economically sustained within budget and scheduled those that cannot for closure. Closure of armories in the National Guard is not an instantaneous action and will require up to 24 months to complete. Drilling guardsmen and full time service members are our number one priority. Units affected by these closures will be relocated to other Guard facilities with accommodations made to continue their current mission with as little turbulence as possible.




Chickasaw among three west Alabama state parks to be closed

park 3Alabama Department of Conservation of Natural Resources Commissioner Gunter Guy announced Wednesday that Chickasaw State Park in Marengo County will close Oct. 15, according to a report from

park 2Citing legislative budget cuts, Guy announced the closures of five state parks as well as staffing cutback and a reduction in hours of operation for other facilities. Additionally, parks statewide will see fee increases to make up for lost revenue.

The commissioner noted that the five parks marked for closure were selected “because they have consistently lost money over the past several years.”

Officially listed in Gallion, Chickasaw is a 520-acre park located along U.S. Highway 43.

Other parks set to close are Roland Cooper State Park in Wilcox County, Paul Grist State Park in Dallas County, Bladon Springs State Park in Choctaw County and Florala State Park in Covington County.

park 1

Sumter, Hale, Greene driver license offices to close

MONTGOMERY — An $11 million cut in the new General Fund appropriation to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) will force the elimination of travel to 31 part-time, non-state owned, satellite locations.  Effective today, the traveling Driver License Examiners will be reallocated to staff District Driver License Offices full-time.

Included among the closures are the Sumter County office in Livingston, the Wilcox County office in Camden, the Hale County office in Greensboro, the Perry County office in Marion, the Choctaw County office in Butler and the Greene County office in Eutaw.

The reallocation of the Driver License Examiners comes one day before the effective date of the General Fund Budget passed during a special legislative session.  The appropriation to ALEA was reduced in the new budget from $55,758,744 to $44,640,937.

“Since the Jan. 1, 2015 implementation date of ALEA, my staff and I have worked hard to make improvements and optimize customer convenience to the citizens of Alabama. In July, I announced several advancements that will help the Driver License issuance process including online scheduling, online driver license renewals and duplicates, self-serve kiosks, digital licensing for smart phones, and statewide equipment upgrades.  Since making that announcement, we have had over 40,000 transactions online,” said Secretary of Law Enforcement Spencer Collier.  “The impact of the changes due to the budget cuts will be lessened because of the implementation of these technology-based services, including online renewals.”

Alabama issues an average of 1.2 million driver licenses each year.   The Driver License Division is severely understaffed and has 103 vacant positions as a result of past budget cuts and attrition.  Analyzing transactions performed in each location throughout the state revealed the combined efforts of the 31 part-time satellite locations accounted for less than five percent of all Alabama Driver License transactions performed by ALEA.  The busiest of these 31 satellite locations performed less than 2,000 transactions during 2014.

Secretary Collier continued, “Throughout the 2015 Legislative Sessions, we communicated our concerns to the Legislature, the news media, and the public by addressing the ongoing shortage of Driver License Division personnel created by past budgets and our ability to meet the needs of citizens should additional cuts be imposed.  Additionally, we took a proactive approach to solve a decade old funding issue with the Driver License Division’s operations by increasing the cost of the driver license to recoup a portion of the cost it takes to actually produce the license.  The Legislature then reduced ALEA’s General Fund appropriation by the projected recoupment revenue thereby negating the proactive steps taken by the agency.  We appreciate the support of those Legislators that have helped our agency and strive to provide the most efficient use of the taxpayer’s dollars.  With the new budget cuts passed by the Alabama Legislature for Fiscal Year 2016, and with our limited personnel, travel has been eliminated to these part-time satellite locations.  Driver License Examiners will be utilized to staff District Driver License Offices full-time and will no longer provide staffing to these 31 county owned, satellite locations.”

“We will continue to work on ways to optimize customer convenience with our services,” said Secretary Collier.  “Probate Judges and License or Revenue Commissioners will continue to provide the same renewal services they have traditionally handled in their facilities.  Additionally, statewide equipment upgrades announced in July, will allow Probate Judges and License or Revenue Commissioners to renew STAR IDs and conduct other services that were previously only performed at Driver License Offices.”

The schedules for ALEA District Driver License Offices are available online at  Additionally, to help citizens who currently utilize these part-time, satellite locations, ALEA has developed an interactive Citizen Services Locator Map that will identify and locate the closest office and the services it provides.  Citizens can access the Citizens Services Locator Map by visiting

Photo of the Day


Thomasville Middle School students, Holston Kennedy, Payton McLean, and Rachel Bradford registered alumni at the annual Homecoming game. The TMS Junior Honor Society sponsored this event.

Demopolis Middle inducts 68 new Junior Beta members

Photos and story contributed by the DMS Journalism Program

The Demopolis Middle School Junior Beta Club recently inducted 68 new members. (Photo contributed by DMS Journalism Program)

The Demopolis Middle School Junior Beta Club recently inducted 68 new members. (Photo contributed by DMS Journalism Program)

Demopolis Middle was proud to induct 68 new members to its Junior Beta Club this year. Since requirements include an A-average in all classes, this is indeed a proud moment for our school.  These students are leaders and role models as they participate in many service activities, including Operation Christmas Child, Christmas on the River, school cleanup, and a school talent show.  They also compete at the Junior Beta Club State Convention in Birmingham held every year in the spring.  They have had the honor of winning several competitions at this convention in the past, including the math, art, and science academic competitions, the banner competition, the art competition, and the recycled art competition.  

The 2015-2016 induction was especially significant as it marked the 20th anniversary of Junior Beta at Demopolis Middle School. Retired school counselor Connie Brown was in attendance, as well as Principal Hathcock, Assistant Principal McCall, and Superintendent Kalhoff.

The Demopolis Middle School Junior Beta Club recently inducted 68 new members. (Photo contributed by DMS Journalism Program)

The Demopolis Middle School Junior Beta Club recently inducted 68 new members. (Photo contributed by DMS Journalism Program)

ASWA Poll: Week 6


Class 7A
1. Hoover (29) (5-0) 348
2. Bob Jones (5-0) 252
3. James Clemens (4-1) 222
4. Prattville (4-1) 197
5. Central-Phenix City (4-2) 154
6. Foley (5-1) 149
7. Buckhorn (4-1) 118
8. Spain Park (4-1) 57
9. Theodore (5-1) 49
10. Murphy (3-2) 42
Others receiving votes: McGill-Toolen (4-1) 22, Vestavia Hills (4-1) 18, Jeff Davis (5-1) 8, Gadsden City (3-3) 5, Smiths Station (5-1) 5, Auburn (2-4) 2, Hewitt-Trussville (3-2) 2, Sparkman (2-3) 2, Lee-Montgomery (4-2) 1.

Class 6A
1. Clay-Chalkville (24) (5-0) 331
2. Spanish Fort (3) (5-0) 256
3. Opelika (2) (6-0) 251
4. Muscle Shoals (6-0) 198
5. Saraland (4-1) 158
6. Benjamin Russell (5-1) 124
7. McAdory (4-1) 79
8. Homewood (4-1) 66
9. Park Crossing (5-1) 54
10. Blount (5-0) 49
Others receiving votes: Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa (4-2) 47, Chelsea (5-0) 10, Gardendale (4-1) 10, Pinson Valley (4-2) 10, Walker (5-0) 5, Bessemer City (4-1) 2, Cullman (4-1) 1, Fort Payne (4-1) 1, Hartselle (4-1) 1.

Class 5A
1. Jackson (29) (5-0) 348
2. St. Paul’s (5-1) 244
3. Guntersville (5-0) 234
4. Mortimer Jordan (5-0) 167
5. Greenville (5-0)138
6. Pleasant Grove (4-1) 132

7. Beauregard (4-0) 103
8. Russellville (4-1) 95
9. Demopolis (4-1) 87
10. Alexandria (4-0) 37
Others receiving votes:  Wenonah (5-0) 17, East Limestone (4-1) 16, Madison Co. (2-2) 11, St. John Paul II (0-5) 9, Calera (4-1) 6, Tallassee (4-2) 5, Etowah (3-2) 3, Vigor (3-1) 1.

Class 4A
1. UMS-Wright (29) (5-0) 348
2. Cordova (5-0) 255
3. Leeds (4-2) 220
4. Saks (4-1) 182
5. Andalusia (5-1) 158
6. Priceville (5-0) 123
7. Fayette Co. (4-2) 89
8. Brooks (5-0) 77
9. Handley (5-0) 40
10. Dadeville (3-2) 33
Others receiving votes: W.S. Neal (4-1) 29, Cleburne Co. (4-1) 24, Deshler (3-2) 24, Montevallo (6-0) 20, Northside (5-0) 20, Oneonta (4-1) 7, Elmore Co. (3-2) 2, Bibb Co. (3-3) 1, West Blocton (3-2) 1.

Class 3A
1. Madison Acad. (22) (4-1) 327
2. Gordo (7) (5-0) 281

3. Pike Co. (4-0) 220
4. T.R. Miller (5-1) 179
5. Piedmont (4-1) 169
6. Opp (4-1) 145
7. American Chr. (5-0) 103
8. Oakman (4-1) 74
9. Lauderdale Co. (4-1) 62
10. Glencoe (4-1) 45
Others receiving votes: Daleville (4-1) 24, Winfield (5-1) 14, Montgomery Acad. (4-1) 3, Slocomb (3-2) 3, Colbert Co. (2-3) 2, Walter Wellborn (3-2) 2

Class 2A
1. Elba (20) (5-0) 320
2. Tanner (9) (6-0) 285
3. Cleveland (5-0) 228
4. G.W. Long (5-0) 200
5. Fyffe (4-1) 170
6. Red Bay (6-0) 140
7. Randolph Co. (5-0) 114
8. Mobile Chr. (5-0) 69
9. Flomaton (4-1) 54
10. Washington Co. (4-1)32
Others receiving votes: Pickens Co. (4-1) 16, Fayetteville (5-0) 8, LaFayette (4-1) 6, Ranburne (4-1) 6, Falkville (5-0) 4, Providence Chr. (4-1) 1.

Class 1A
1. Hubbertville (12) (4-0) 290
2. Maplesville (14) (3-1) 288
3. Cedar Bluff (3) (5-0) 241
4. Hackleburg (5-0) 178
5. Linden (2-2) 165
6. Loachapoka (4-1) 147
7. Georgiana (5-1) 124
8. Brantley (3-2) 92
9. Wadley (4-1) 26
10. Berry (4-1) 25
Others receiving votes: McKenzie (3-2) 23, Victory Chr. (4-0) 23, Notasulga (3-2) 13, J.U. Blacksher (4-1) 7, Decatur Heritage (4-1) 5, Millry (3-2) 5, Autaugaville (4-2) 1.

1. Edgewood Acad. (26) (6-0) 334
2. Bessemer Acad. (5-0) 257
3. Monroe Acad. (2) (6-0) 243
4. Abbeville Chr. (5-0) 194
5. Escambia Acad. (1) (4-2) 167
6. Marengo Acad. (3-1) 141
7. Lee-Scott Acad. (4-1) 115
8. Tuscaloosa Acad. (4-1) 85
9. S. Choctaw Acad. (4-1) 34
10. Sparta Acad. (5-1) 26
Others receiving votes: Chambers Acad. (4-1) 11, Northside Methodist (4-1) 11, Autauga Acad. (3-2) 9, Morgan Acad. (2-3) 8, Pike Liberal (3-2) 7, Fort Dale Acad. (3-2) 5, Clarke Prep (3-2) 3, Glenwood (3-2) 2, Jackson Acad. (3-2) 1.

The Alabama Sports Writers Association prep committee members are: Paul Beaudry (Chairman), Alabama Media Group; Josh Bean,; Brandon Miller, Anniston Star; Jonathan Deal, Athens News Courier; Adam Robinson, Brewton Standard; Rob Rice, Blount Countian; Shannon Fagan, Cherokee Herald; Ross Wood, Clarke Co. Democrat; Rob Ketcham, Cullman Times; Johnathan Bentley, Daily Mountain Eagle; Justin Graves, Decatur Daily; David Mundee, Dothan Eagle; Lee Peacock, Evergreen Courant; Gregg Dewalt, Florence TimesDaily; Will Gaines, Fort Payne Times-Journal; Jeremy Smith, Freelance (Demopolis); Chris McCarthy, Gadsden Messenger; J.J. Hicks, Gadsden Times; Daniel Boyette, Huntsville Times; Ben Thomas, Mobile Press-Register; Stacy Long, Montgomery Advertiser; Robert Carter, North Jefferson News; Will Sammon, Opelika-Auburn News; Shannon Allen, Sand Mountain Reporter; Jason Bowen, Scottsboro Daily Sentinel; Daniel Evans, Selma Times-Journal; Baker Ellis, Shelby County Reporter; Lavonte Young, Talladega Daily Home; Joey Chandler, Tuscaloosa News; Cory Diaz, Wetumpka Herald.

Pritchett accounts for six TDs en route to Player of the Week honors

IMG_0891Cordarius Pritchett may not be able to fly under the radar much longer. The Marengo High junior has quietly been putting together an impressive season. Last Friday night against rival A.L. Johnson, his on-field success got a lot louder.

Pritchett led his team to its first win over the Eagles since 2011 as he completed 9 of 16 passes for 220 yards and a touchdown. He also ran the ball 24 times for 133 yards and five scores on the night. And, as if that were not enough, the signal-caller made good on the only two successful Panther conversion attempts of the game, including the double-overtime conversion that proved to be the game winner.

Pritchett also played well on defense, recording four tackles in the contest and intercepting his fourth pass of the season.

Pritchett currently has 866 passing yards on the year to go along with 10 touchdowns while completing his passes at nearly a 63 percent clip. The Panthers’ leader also has 312 rushing yards and six touchdowns.

Most importantly, his squad sits at 3-2 and has every opportunity to host a first-round playoff game.

Tuesday night, Pritchett earned ESPN 104.9 Player of the Week honors and spent a portion of the evening with the show’s crew at Batter Up Sports Grill in Demopolis where he also received a commemorative T-shirt.

CAAMP observing seasonal migration of inshore fish species

As part of the CAAMP array, hydrophones are stationed in Alabama coastal waters to pick up the signals from the tagged fish to study seasonal movements and escapement rates.

As part of the CAAMP array, hydrophones are stationed in Alabama coastal waters to pick up the signals from the tagged fish to study seasonal movements and escapement rates.

Mobile Bay and the Mississippi Sound are bugged, but the listening devices aren’t snooping to hear the inshore anglers’ big-fish tales or locate their favorite fishing holes.

The microphones, known as hydrophones, are strategically positioned around the Bay and Sound to listen for the fish themselves – a select group of fish.

In a study sanctioned by the Alabama Marine Resources Division (MRD), several inshore fish are being fitted with sonic devices that will be picked up by the hydrophones to get a better idea of where and how much they travel during the year.

Chris Blankenship, MRD Director, said the project is in collaboration with the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, which has hydrophone stations on the west side of Mississippi Sound.

“This should give us a better picture of the movement of those inshore fish,” Blankenship said. “It started as a tarpon project because that’s Alabama’s state saltwater fish, but we had very little information about the movement of tarpon in our area. Once the hydrophones were out, we had the opportunity to include other species, so we added red drum (redfish) and spotted seatrout (speckled trout) to learn about those fish movements at the same time.

“The interesting thing is that for any fish with an acoustic tag that we pick up, we share that information. Like sturgeon. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has tagged some sturgeon in some of the creeks and rivers in Florida. Occasionally, we’ll pick up some of those fish in our array, and we’ll share that with the people who are gathering data on those fish.”

Dr. Sean Powers and the University of South Alabama Marine Sciences Department are conducting the study, which has been dubbed CAAMP, the Coastal Alabama Acoustic Monitoring Program. There is an array of 40 listening stations with hydrophones strategically placed around Mobile Bay and Mississippi Sound.

“The hydrophones were placed around the bay to cover the entry and exit points of fish, and in this instance, we’re talking about a red drum or speckled trout,” Powers said. “We have all the rivers covered in the (Mobile/Tensaw) Delta. We have a string of them along the Causeway, at Fowl River and Dog River. We also have them in Mississippi Sound.

“Our colleagues in Mississippi and Florida are using same type hydrophones, and we share data. So although we only cover Alabama with our 40 hydrophones, we have partnerships that cover the Gulf from Louisiana to Tampa.”

A small acoustic device is inserted by Reid Nelson into the body cavity of the red drum in the study. Larger tags are attached near the dorsal fin on tarpon. (Photo by Crystal Hightower)

A small acoustic device is inserted by Reid Nelson into the body cavity of the red drum in the study. Larger tags are attached near the dorsal fin on tarpon. (Photo by Crystal Hightower)

The hydrophones are designed to pick up acoustic signals with unique codes that identify individual fish. The acoustic tag sends a series of sound pulses in a few seconds. The hydrophone interprets that signal and identifies the fish. If it was a fish from Alabama, the identification of the fish gives researchers data on where the fish was tagged and where it was located when the signal was picked up at different times. If the hydrophone identifies an unknown code, the other states involved in the program are notified.

Each fish in the study is caught by researchers or other anglers and the small tag is attached.

“We do a little surgery on the fish,” Powers said. “We insert a little tag. It’s about half the size of a AAA battery. Sound travels really well in saltwater, so we don’t need that big of an amplifier. A little tag can do a whole lot. It sends that pulse out every minute. The tags will last a year. When it swims within 500 meters of a hydrophone, the signal is picked up and will tell us the fish was alive in that location. With our array of hydrophones and collaboration with the other states, we get good information on movement of fish, the seasonal movement of fish.”

The Mobile/Tensaw Delta and its role in the movement of inshore species is of particular interest to the researchers. Typically, the inshore species follow the migration of shrimp and other food sources into the rivers and creeks in the fall, depending somewhat on water salinity and flow.

“One thing we’re really interested in is how the saltwater fish use that Delta – when, and potentially why, they use that Delta area,” Powers said. “Although we have hydrophones all around the Bay, it’s a little more weighted toward the Delta, Fowl River and Dog River.”

The acoustic study is being done in stages, according to species. The first year is red drum. Powers said about 100 redfish have already been tagged.

“That was the fun part,” he said. “We went out and tagged them all around the Bay, some in the Delta and some off Fairhope, some off Bon Secour and some off Dauphin Island.

“What we will get is very important information on movement, and we’ll get important information on survivorship. We know how many fished we tagged. We have rewards so fishermen can call the information in to us if they catch one. That way we’ll be able to tell how many survived.”

That rate of survival, or escapement, plays a crucial role in the management of red drum, Powers said. Current management models are based on 30-percent escapement.

“What that means is 30 percent survive to go offshore and spawn,” he said. “The fish we tagged are within the state slot limit of 16 to 26 inches. What we would like to see is verification that at least 30 percent of those survive.”

The red drum study will be expanded next year with different parameters. Half the fish tagged will be wild fish, and half will be fished raised at the Marine Resources Division’s Claude Peteet Mariculture Center in Gulf Shores.

“We’re really interested to see if there is a difference in movement in wild red drum versus hatchery-raised red drum,” Blankenship said.

Speckled trout will be added to the study in year three; however, several speckled trout that were part of the live weigh-in for the Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo were tagged and released as well. Powers said the species for years four and five are undecided but could include flounder and/or sheepshead.

Before CAAMP came into existence, Powers said a tarpon study had been underway for a couple of years.

“We worked with fishermen on the tarpon, because you’ve got to be pretty good to catch a tarpon,” he said. “We tagged about a dozen tarpon, and we’ve also got satellite tags on a couple of fish that will pop off and float. We also have one receiver off Gulf State Park Pier, so we expect to hear a few tarpon ticking off Gulf State Pier.”

Powers said the information from the hydrophones is downloaded about every six months.

“Sometime next year we should have some good information,” he said. “We know that we’ve already heard from some of the tarpon and some of the red drum. The good thing about the red drum tags is some of the freshwater folks have receivers out to listen for sturgeon, and they’ve already heard some of our redfish up in the rivers.”

David Rainer is public information manager and outdoor columnist for the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. His column appears weekly in The West Alabama Watchman. 

Tears and Laughter: Did you miss Daughter’s Day too?

Evidently, I missed Daughter’s Day. In my defense, I didn’t even know there was a Daughter’s Day. I have had daughters for over 20 years and had never heard of it.

And I’ll be honest, to begin with I ignored it. I thought it was like Short-Girls Day and National Dog Day and we would all soon start to celebrate it at least twice a month on Facebook.

But this was not the case. Over the course of a few days I saw so many sweet posts to daughters that I started feeling guilty. I felt like I had missed somebody’s birthday. I finally keyed in a search for Daughter’s Day and it turns out September 22 actually is Daughter’s Day, in India. But what does a little distance and difference in cultures matter.

Miranda entered my world on my mother’s birthday at Druid City Hospital in Tuscaloosa. She brought a joy I had never known and didn’t expect. Things that had never made sense to me before suddenly came into focus. I was so taken with her that nobody else ever got to hold her much. I would sit for hours just looking at her.

Melissa was born at the same hospital a month shy of two years later. She joined our family seamlessly, as if there had never been a time before her, and like life couldn’t move forward without her.

I just always felt after looking at those two baby daughters that God might allow me more great days along the way, maybe even a few sparkly things on special occasions and a couple trips to Mentone, but there was never going to be anything that could top those girls.

And of course I was naïve about it, because how could I have known, I never had a sister. But I thought these two were going to get along like angels. I envisioned them coloring quietly, sharing crayons. They started fighting just about the time Melissa noticed she had a little fist on the end of her arm. They will still, given the right tone or mood, but they have become friends too, and I guess that’s about the most a mother can hope for.

We welcomed a son in the summer of 2000, but this is about Daughter’s Day. I don’t know if there is a Son’s Day. If not there should be. His sisters claim I have spoiled him.

They tell McKenzie, “You about killed Mama.” She was born in 2004, four days before I turned 32. I will always wonder if left to nature if she would have been born on my birthday. But Dr. Gerrard suggested induction on May 20, and I had been too sick to argue.

If your doctor ever tells you upon news of a positive pregnancy test that you have hyperemesis gravidarum, I’m not going to say go ahead and kiss yourself good-bye, but life as you have known it is about to cease. You will see the limits of the human condition. I remember drifting in and out of consciousness at the severest point of being sick and my main motivation for holding to life was that one spoiled boy, and all those daughters.

That is the tricky thing about them. They come into the world and you don’t think they could ever make it without you, then before long you realize you have it backwards. It is really you that can’t make it without them.

I will try and not forget Daughter’s Day next year, but I probably will and when I do, these words will still be true.

Amanda Walker is a columnist with The West Alabama Watchman,, The Thomasville Times, and The Wilcox Progressive Era. For more information, visit her on Facebook at