Tears and Laughter: Wilcox didn’t get near first at everything last without poor leadership 

In all of the years I have been writing about Wilcox County I have learned that no matter how low the county ranks or how obvious the ineptness becomes, there will always be somebody wanting to speak in defense of local leadership. Everybody seems to be related, and there may be an unhealthy mix of cronyism. All anyone who is curious needs to do is look around. 

Every school in the county has challenges on some level. Two public school students have taken guns to school in less than a month. A fifth-grader at J.E. Hobbs Elementary threatened to shoot her teacher, and a 17-year-old was arrested for carrying a deadly weapon at Wilcox Central High School – for protection.  

Last week four vehicles were broken into at Roland Cooper Boat Ramp and a bomb squad out of Montgomery was called in to check out a suspicious package in a car parked at a gas pump at the QV. It was not a bomb and the QV did not blow up. It was drugs. Just the week before the QV had its glass doors shattered in the night for a pack of Newport’s. There was also a fatal hit and run in McWilliams, a man found dead beside his car on Highway 5, and two men found dead from gunshot wounds in Pine Hill. 

All this was happening while the entire country was flying flags at half-staff and the Wilcox County courthouse didn’t have one. There was a public outcry and a flag was erected the next day and has flown sporadically since, but leaders in a county where Uncle Sam pays for half of the groceries shouldn’t have to be reminded to fly the flag in front of the courthouse. 

Advanced Disposal is threatening to discontinue garbage pick-up starting next week if the county doesn’t pay the approximate $200,000 owed for services already rendered. There are questions as to where collected funds were distributed if not to Advanced, but even with all of this going on the Wilcox County Commission is yet to meet in October. 

The last meeting was a called meeting held back on September 29 – a Friday – at 5:00 pm, the time set by Chairman John Moton, Jr., who then did not show up. It was a necessary meeting because a county budget had not been a priority, yet had to be passed by the October 1 deadline. 

Three of the four commissioners who did attend the called meeting adopted the same budget as last year, minus the salary for the license inspector. This move eliminated the job held by current Wilcox County coroner, Mark Ramsey. It was a needed position for the county in that one of the responsibilities was to require mobile home owners to purchase current decals, but no citations have been written in over a year. The position held an annual salary of over $40,000 and no money was coming in to offset the cost. Past attempts to fire Ramsey were unsuccessful due to the saving votes of Chairman Moton together with Commissioners Ricky Powell and Charles Lawson. 

A regularly scheduled commission meeting should have been Monday, October 9, but since it was Columbus Day the chairman again changed the meeting to Tuesday at 5:30, and again he was a no show. Powell and Lawson weren’t there either. They are balking. They want the decision to remove the license inspector position reversed. Their absence was no coincidence. It was just another shining example of their poor leadership.

Amanda Walker is a blogger and contributor with AL.com, The Thomasville Times, West Alabama Watchman, and Wilcox Progressive Era. Contact her at walkerworld77@msn.com or athttps://www.facebook.com/AmandaWalker.Columnist

Demopolis, Sweet Water, Marengo in latest ASWA poll

ALABAMA SPORTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION
HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL POLL Week 8 – Oct. 18, 2017

(First-place votes and current record in parentheses)
 Class 7A
1. Central-Phenix City (24) (7-0) 340
2. Hoover (4) (6-1) 276
3. Thompson (1) (7-0) 246
4. Hewitt-Trussville (1) (7-0) 210
5. McGill-Toolen (7-0) 186
6. Auburn (6-1) 149
7. Fairhope (6-1) 122
8. Mountain Brook (5-2) 81
9. Bob Jones (5-3) 39
10. Sparkman (5-2) 29
Others receiving votes: Spain Park (4-3) 24, Davidson (4-3) 3, Theodore (4-3) 3, Jeff Davis (4-4) 1, Lee-Montgomery (5-2) 1.

Class 6A
1. Austin (25) (7-0) 342
2. Oxford (3) (8-0) 271
3. Pinson Valley (2) (7-0) 240
4. Wetumpka (8-0) 209
5. Spanish Fort (6-1) 171
6. Homewood (7-0) 158
7. Sidney Lanier (7-0) 106
8. Benjamin Russell (6-1) 75
9. Clay-Chalkville (7-1) 60
10. Muscle Shoals (6-1) 24
Others receiving votes: Park Crossing (7-1) 22, Saraland (6-2) 11, Blount (5-3) 10, Ramsay (3-4) 5, Daphne (5-2) 4, Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa (5-2) 1, Shades Valley (5-2) 1.

Class 5A
1. Briarwood Chr. (26) (7-0) 348
2. St. Paul’s (4) (7-0) 279
3. Carroll (7-0) 241
4. Beauregard (5-1) 208
5. Wenonah (6-1) 157
6. Alexandria (7-1) 138
7. Etowah (7-1)123
8. Mae Jemison-Huntsville (7-1) 105
9. Demopolis  (6-1) 73
10. Sylacauga (6-1) 18
Others receiving votes:  Jackson (4-3) 6, Guntersville (6-1) 6, Vigor (5-3) 3, Eufaula (5-2) 3, Mortimer Jordan (5-2) 2.

Class 4A
1. Andalusia (22) (7-1) 335
2. Rogers (8) (8-0) 290
3. UMS-Wright (6-1) 239
4. Leeds (7-1) 191
5. Wilson (7-0) 156
6. Thomasville (6-1) 153
7. Fayette Co. (6-1) 122
8. Hokes Bluff (6-1) 68
9. Tallassee (7-1) 55
10. Saks (7-0) 54
Others receiving votes: Munford (6-1) 23, Deshler (5-2) 9, Madison Acad. (5-2) 7, Alabama Chr. (7-1) 6, Dora (6-1) 2.

Class 3A
1. Piedmont (25) (7-1) 345
2. Gordo (3) (6-1) 268
3. Randolph Co. (6-1) 214
4. Ohatchee (6-1) 178
5. Mobile Chr. (2) (6-1) 169
6. Fultondale (7-0) 146
7. Hillcrest-Evergreen (6-1) 99
8. Weaver (5-2) 66
9. Sylvania (7-0) 65
10. Plainview (6-1) 60
Others receiving votes: Wicksburg (6-1) 31, T.R. Miller (5-2) 20, Clarke Co. (5-2) 19, Montgomery Acad. (6-1) 9, West Morgan (7-1) 8, Lauderdale co. (5-2) 7, Oakman (5-2) 6.

Class 2A
1. Fyffe (27) (7-0) 351
2. Lanett (3) (8-0) 277
3. Elba (6-1) 240
4. LaFayette (6-1) 210
5. Goshen (6-1) 151
6. Aliceville (5-2) 138
7. St. Luke’s (5-1) 122
8. Sulligent (6-1) 93
9. Leroy (5-2) 60
10. Tarrant (6-1) 42
Others receiving votes: Abbeville (6-1) 14, Thorsby (5-1) 7, Sand Rock (5-2) 4, Vincent (5-2) 1.

Class 1A
1. Maplesville (30) (6-0) 360
2. Georgiana (8-0) 260
3. Sweet Water (5-1) 245
4. Pickens Co. (6-1) 196
5. Wadley (6-0) 172
6. Lynn (8-0) 137
7. Brantley (5-2) 106
8. Houston Co. (7-1) 81
9. Isabella (6-1) 64
10. Marengo (5-2) 58
Others receiving votes: Addison (6-2) 7, Notasulga (5-2) 7, Pleasant Home (4-3) 7, South Lamar (6-2) 3, Hackleburg (6-1) 2, Talladega Co. Central (5-2) 2, Decatur Heritage (6-1) 1, Spring Garden (6-1) 1, Winterboro (4-3) 1.

AISA
1. Autauga Acad. (29) (8-0) 357
2. Escambia Acad. (8-0) 266
3. Monroe Acad. (1) (9-0) 246
4. Chambers Acad. (8-0) 207
5. Tuscaloosa Acad. (6-1) 169
6. Pike Liberal (7-2) 148
7. South Choctaw Acad.  (6-2) 91
8. Macon-East (7-1) 85
9. Fort Dale Acad. (6-2) 46
10. Bessemer Acad. (5-4) 37
Others receiving votes: Lee-Scott (5-3) 27, Glenwood School (5-4) 16, Jackson Acad. (6-3) 10, Crenshaw Chr. (6-3) 4, Patrician Acad. (5-3) 1.

The Alabama Sports Writers Association prep committee members are: Paul Beaudry (Chairman), Alabama Media Group; Lizi Arbogast, Alexander City Outlook; Josh Dutton, Andalusia Star-News; Joe Medley, Anniston Star; Andrew Garner, Atmore Advance; Josh Bean, Birmingham News; Rob Rice, Blount Countian; Shannon Fagan, Cherokee Herald; Ross Wood, Clarke Co. Democrat; Jake Winfrey, Cullman Times; Johnathan Bentley, Daily Mountain Eagle; Justin Graves, Decatur Daily; David Mundee, Dothan Eagle; Lee Peacock, Evergreen Courant; Craig Thomas, Florence TimesDaily; Cody Dowler, Fort Payne Times-Journal; Nicholas Finch, Freelance (Demopolis); Jeremy Smith, Freelance (Demopolis); Evan Dudley, Freelance (Wetumpka); Chris McCarthy, Gadsden Messenger; J.J. Hicks, Gadsden Times; Daniel Boyette, Huntsville Times; Ben Thomas, Mobile Press-Register; Stacy Long, Montgomery Advertiser; Scott Fields, Opelika-Auburn News; Shannon Allen, Sand Mountain Reporter; Jason Bowen, Scottsboro Daily Sentinel; Alec Etheridge, Shelby County Reporter; Lavonte Young, Talladega Daily Home; Joey Chandler, Tuscaloosa News.

UMC Demopolis to hold open house Thursday

Demopolis cross country team holding 1-mile run for K-6

The Demopolis High School cross country team is hosting a 1-mile run Oct. 21 at the SportPlex for grades Kindergarten through sixth grade. Registration for the events begins at 7:15 a.m. at the SportsPlex and the cost is $5 per runner.

The race begins at 7:30 a.m. and precedes the DHS cross country meet that will take place later that morning.

Linden Arrest Reports: Oct. 16, 2017

Oct. 3 – Tiffany Moseley, 38, Contempt of Court

Oct. 3 – Kynard Craig, 22, Distribution of a Controlled Substance, Discharge a Firearm into an Occupied Dwelling

Oct. 3 – Roy Simmons, 71, Public Intoxication

Oct. 3 – Andrew Cannon, 38, Domestic Violence

Oct. 5 – Carl Odom, 59, DUI

Demopolis Arrest Reports: Oct. 13, 2017

Oct. 6 – Craig F. Taylor, 51, Possession of a Concealed Weapon w/o Permit, Hwy 80 East

Oct. 6 – Derek C. Thompson, 44, Failure to Obey a Police Officer, Rosedale Dr.

Oct. 8 – Darius J. Powell, 26, Domestic Violence II – Harassing Communications (two counts), West Jackson

Oct. 11 – Charley Brombeger, 42, DUI, East Pettus St.

Oct. 13 – Katina H. Glover, 44, DUI, Hwy 43 South

UWA overcomes deficit for win over nationally-ranked West Georgia

Tra Fletcher scores on a 34-yard pass from Harry Satterwhite with 3:22 to play Saturday night, pushing UWA over West Georgia.

LIVINGSTON, Ala. – Harry Satterwhite and Tra Fletcherconnected on a 34-yard pass and run with 3:22 left to play, completing a 34-31 come-from-behind West Alabama victory over West Georgia in a battle of two nationally-ranked teams Saturday at Tiger Stadium.

Ranked 15th in the D2Football poll and 23rd in the AFCA poll, West Alabama extended its winning streak to five games by beating a ranked opponent for the third time in four weeks. The Tigers are 6-1 overall and 5-0 in Gulf South Conference play.

West Georgia, ranked 17th and 22nd, had its winning streak snapped at three games, dropping to 5-2 and 2-2. Both Wolves losses have come on the road to nationally-ranked opponents.

When Fletcher weaved his way into the north endzone with the game winner, it marked the only time West Alabama led in the game. West Georgia led 28-17 at the half, but the Tiger defense limited the GSC’s top total offensive team to just three points in the final 30 minutes.

“That was my first game-winner,” Fletcher said. “They play wasn’t intended for me, but Harry was scrambling so I came back to the ball and just made a play.”

West Alabama was forced to kick off from its own 20-yard line following Fletcher’s game-winner due to an excessive celebration penalty. The Wolves drove to the UWA 23 before Jordan Jones blocked a 31-yard field goal attempts Trey Wiggins, but UWG was called for delay of game and handed another play to either tie or take the lead.

The Wolves opted to go for it on fourth-and-11 from the Tiger 28 and Candler’s pass was picked off by Tiger linebacker Khalia Hackett.

With three West Georgia timeouts left, the Tigers were forced to punt, giving West Georgia one last shot from its own 16 with three seconds to play. Willie Candler completed a 28-yard pass to Shannon Smith as time expired.

“We executed and did just enough to win, but we also did just enough to lose,” UWA head coach Brett Gilliland said. “I am proud of our defense, especially in the second half to hold a great West Georgia offense to just three points.

“We challenged our players about our energy and intensity at the half,” Gilliland said. “It was an emotional game with a lot of ups and downs.”

UWA’s 34 points is the most given up by West Georgia this season. The Wolves came into the game as the top scoring defense in the GSC, allowing just 14.2 points per game.

Satterwhite celebrated his 22nd birthday by completing 29-of-42 for 308 yards and three touchdowns. He was intercepted once. Candler was 13-of-21 for 212 yards, one TD and one interception.

“We had some mistakes, but that’s a really good football team,” Satterwhite said. “We just try to control what we can control and our playmakers made plays at the end. If we can get the ball to those guys in space, they can make plays.”

In addition to the game-winner to Fletcher, Satterwhite also hooked up with Corey Davis for scoring tosses of 26 and 16 yards. Lakendric Thomas scored on a 3-yard run, while Colin Douglas made field goals from 27 and 36 yards to complete UWA scoring.

“West Georgia has some great defensive backs,” Davis said. “It was a rollercoaster ride, but we kept the faith, played as a team and came out with the victory.”

The game began with a penalty and points for West Georgia. The Wolves were penalized 15 yards for an unsportsmanlike conduct during warmups, but Devontae Jackson returned the opening kickoff from his own endzone to spot the Wolves a 7-0 lead.

Jackson scored again in the first quarter on a 77-yard run and Candler connected with Mikell Lands-Davis to give West Georgia a 21-14 lead after one quarter, marking the most points UWA had allowed in the first period this season.

Candler used his legs to score again before the half on a 6-yard run with 8:25 to play in the second quarter. It would be the final time West Georgia visited the endzone. UWA outscored the Wolves 17-3 in the final 30 minutes.

Jackson led all rushers with 169 yards on 22 carries. He also caught three passes for 59 yards and returned four kickoffs for 145 yards while amassing 373 all-purpose yards.

“Jackson is a really good back. Arm tackling won’t work on him,” Tiger linebacker Terry Samuel said. “We just had to bow our back and be relentless. We knew we had to stop them.”

Davis led all receivers with eight catches for 79 yards, followed by Donta Armstrong with six for 69 yards and Qua Boydwith five for 69 yards. Thomas was the leading rusher for UWA with 62 yards on 15 carries.

Taderion Myhand piled up 12 tackles, nine solo, for West Alabama to lead all tacklers in the game. Samuel added 10 more. Myhand had 1.5 tackles for loss and Samuels two more. Terrence Jones and Michael Williams each recorded a sack for the Tigers. Tevin Madison recovered a fumble.

Cameron Magee had 10 tackles for the Wolves, followed by Korie Rogers with nine. UWG managed just three tackles for loss, with two of those coming on sacks by Deondre Gardenhire and Chad Price.

West Alabama remains in GSC play next week, traveling to Florida Tech (4-3) for a 1 p.m. CDT kickoff in Melbourne. West Georgia stays on the road to face Mississippi College (0-7).

UWA outlasts No. 9 Delta State for GSC win

CLEVELAND, Miss. – In a top 25 match-up that featured the top two offenses in the Gulf South Conference, it was the defenses and special teams that were the difference in a 29-26 West Alabama victory over Delta State Saturday at McCool Stadium.
The victory leaves West Alabama 5-1 overall and the only undefeated team in the GSC at 4-0. Delta State dropped to 5-1 and 3-1.
West Alabama built a 29-10 lead after three quarters, only to see Delta State cut the lead to the final margin before Vince Sciorrotta’s 27-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right with 1:05 left in the game.
“This was a GSC game on the road versus a great football team,” UWA head coach Brett Gilliland said. “They are the No. 9 team in the country for a reason.
“They are a playoff team and I hope we are,” Gilliland said. “We made some mistakes tonight that we haven’t done all year, and a good team like Delta State will take advantage of that.”
Hanging on to a 29-24 lead with 3:53 left, Delta State picked up a safety when a Tiger punt snap sailed over punter Zach Gaines head and out of the end zone. After trading punts, the Statesmen had a chance to send the game to overtime, but Sciorrotta’s miss sealed the deal.
Delta State started fast, picking up 89 yards on its first two drives, but the Tiger defense limited the league’s top rushing offense to just 36 yards on the next seven drives. The game of runs didn’t end there, however.
The Tigers and Statesmen traded interceptions right before the half. Tevin Madison corralled his third of the year off man coverage deep in UWA territory, but DSU returned the favor when Jamoral Graham intercepted Harry Satterwhiteto set up a Statesmen TD on a 54-yard pass from Collin Willis to Willis Chambers to make the halftime score 16-7 UWA.
West Alabama took control of the football game in the third quarter, outgaining Delta State 180 to 42 total yards, only to see the Statesmen outgain the Tigers 148-0 in the fourth period.
“That was a long, tough night,” UWA offensive tackle Dontavius Blair said. “Our defense really stepped up big and pulled on their big boy underwear. This was a night for big boys.”
Colin Douglas opened the scoring with a 25-yard field goal at 10:08 in the second period. Satterwhite and Tra Fletcherhooked up on a 42-yard scoring pass and Taderion Myhand scooped up a DSU fumble and returned it 23 yards for a TD with 2:42 left in the half.
Tyler Rogers popped a 62-yard run for a touchdown with just two minutes gone in the second half to stretch UWA’s lead to 22-10, but the two-point attempt failed. A 38-yard Sciorrotta field goal and a 1-yard plunge by Lakenderic Thomas gave the Tigers a 29-10 lead after three periods.
“We had to fight for everything we got tonight,” Rogers said. “We tried to pound them all night and I just saw an opening on the long run. We had to fight for all we got.”
Willis scored on a 4-yard run and Sciorrotta kicked two more field goals, from 43 and 32 yards, in the fourth quarter.
Satterwhite finished 17-of-34 for 189 yards, a TD and an interception. Willis completed 20-of-37 for 230 yards and a score after replacing starter Breck Ruddick, who was pulled late in the second quarter after completing 16-of-27 for 74 yards.
West Alabama stymied Chris Robinson, the leading rusher in the GSC, to just 16 yards on 12 carries. Ruddick led the Statesmen with 47 yards on seven trips. Kam Myers had nine receptions for 78 yards and Mario Lanier caught seven for 53 yards.
Thomas led UWA rushers with 80 yards on 26 carries, followed by Rogers with 70 yards on five rushes. Donta Armstrong led Tiger receivers with six catches for 36 yards. Fletcher caught four for 64 yards.
Terry Samuel led West Alabama defenders with 11.5 tackles, followed by Devante Davis with 9.5. West Alabama had seven sacks to increase the total over the last three games to 19. The Tiger offensive line did not allow a Satterwhite sack.
“We knew they had a great offense and we got what we expected from them” UWA defensive lineman Ashton Dericosaid. “We got what we expected from a great team. I am glad to come out of here with a win.”
The Tigers had 12 tackles for loss and forced three turnovers. UWA lost one fumble.
West Alabama returns to Tiger Stadium to host West Georgia on Saturday at 4 p.m. Delta State travels to West Florida.

Demopolis High scholars bowl wins tournament

The Demopolis High School School teams won the Alabama Coastal Community College Scholars Bowl tournament Thursday in Livingston.

Attending the tournament for Demopolis were junior varsity competitors Jensen Hammons, Jim Lindsay, Olivia Lovette, Mussaraf Alnahan, Paul Frankowski, Tyree Tripop and Joseph Barnes. Varsity Tigers were Kyle Ruiz, Althea Yburan, Matt Dollar, Tristan Mullen, Emma Lewis, Sarah Margaret Veres and Luke Lindsay.

Demopolis had four individual players score in the top 10 including Tristan Mullen, Joseph Barnes, Luke Lindsay and Matt Dollar.

Snapper check numbers show fear unfounded

Preliminary numbers from the Alabama Red Snapper Reporting System, aka Snapper Check, indicate the fear that Alabama anglers would exceed the 2017 quota were unfounded.

“Using the Alabama Snapper Check numbers, we’re going to be well within the historic allocation for Alabama, so the 39-day season did not put us over, which was a concern for the commercial fishing community and part of the charter fishing community,” said Scott Bannon, Acting Director of the Alabama Marine Resources Division (MRD). “Now the concern we have is what the MRIP (Marine Recreational Information Program) numbers will show, and those numbers are not out yet.”

Since the inception of the Alabama Snapper Check program, the federally produced MRIP numbers for red snapper caught by private recreational anglers have consistently overestimated the snapper harvest, according to MRD officials. The federal survey overestimated harvest numbers by 81 percent in 2014, 68 percent in 2015 and 79 percent in 2016 compared to Snapper Check numbers.

Kevin Anson, MRD’s Chief Biologist who sits on the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council as a proxy member, said MRD has confidence in the Snapper Check data. Alabama has worked hand in hand with NOAA Fisheries staff and their consultants in the development of the Snapper Check system. They anticipate that the program will be approved for use in the management process by year end.

The 2017 total catch per Snapper Check indicated the charter industry (not including headboats) and private recreational anglers landed 1,649,242 pounds of red snapper. Anson said that total breaks down to 790,382 pounds for the charter-for-hire industry and 858,860 pounds for the private recreational anglers.

The Gulf-wide red snapper quota for 2017 for the recreational sector was 6,603,094 pounds. Historically, Alabama lands between 30 and 35 percent of the total snapper catch in the Gulf because of its unparalleled artificial reef program.

Anson said the Gulf Council, which is meeting this week in Biloxi, Miss., has previously discussed a regional management plan for reef fish through Amendment 39. If Amendment 39 were approved, Alabama would receive 31.6 percent of the total quota, which would have been a little more than 2 million pounds this year.

In mid-June this year, NOAA Fisheries extended the federal season from June 1-3 to an additional 39 weekend and holiday days when states agreed to limit or eliminate state season days.

Although the 2017 federal season was over three times longer than the 2016 federal season (11 days), the number of fishing trips with red snapper did not increase at the same amount.  Private recreational anglers took an estimated 79,176 snapper trips during the 2017 39-day federal season, according to Anson. During the 2016 federal season, the total number of private recreational trips was estimated to be 35,191.

“Yes, there were more angler trips in 2017, but these trips did not have the same level of angler harvest rates or the same size of fish,” Anson said. “We had smaller fish landed in 2017 versus 2016. This year’s numbers showed an average of 1.7 harvested fish (2-fish limit) per angler. We felt a lot of that was people were going the shortest distance from shore where they felt they could get fish they wanted to keep. If they didn’t want to get the maximum limit and were fine with a 5-pound fish, they went 8 to 10 miles. They just went fishing instead of catching. We think that’s the way the fishery has morphed in the last few years.”

In addition, Anson said with the closure of gray triggerfish and greater amberjack during the federal season for the past couple of years the majority of anglers have shifted to fishing closer to shore.

“Snapper Check indicated that 90 percent of the red snapper were harvested within 120 feet of water, which is about 17-18 miles from shore,” he said.

Meanwhile, Bannon said Louisiana has a reporting system similar to Snapper Check, and the Louisiana numbers indicate the Bayou State came in about 100,000 pounds under its quota. Louisiana is considering a fall season to catch the additional fish, but Alabama is not.

“We had an agreement that we would not have a fall season if we got the 39-day season during the summer,” Bannon said. “We’re going to stick to that agreement.

“We just wanted to show when you extend the season, it allows for greater access, and it reduces fishing pressure. The charter fishermen said they also noticed a reduction in the private boats out fishing.”

Bannon said the reduced fishing effort contributed to less chaos in the artificial reef areas and helped with the boat-ramp traffic jams, especially at Dauphin Island’s Billy Goat Hole.

“The extended opportunity allowed people to plan around vacations and family activities,” Bannon said. “The kids might have a soccer game or baseball game or the weather might be bad. With short seasons, people have a tendency to go snapper fishing in weather conditions that are not good.

“When you extend the season, it allows life to happen for folks. Now people can look at the weather and decide to go when the weather is better.”

Bannon said the Snapper Check numbers show that the states have the ability to monitor and manage the reef fish fishery, and that is what the general public wants.

“People want the season to be spread out over a longer period of time to give them some options,” he said. “During those short seasons, tensions get high. At our public access boat ramps, parking is very limited. People get frustrated with that. When you only have a couple of days to fish, you can’t even find a place to park.

“The extended season helps people make better decisions, especially based on the weather. And I think it also shows that if we get to a state management plan through Congress or the Gulf Council, we have the ability to monitor what our catch rates are throughout the season. Every week we were looking at Snapper Check numbers, and we felt the whole time we were fine; we were not going over the allocation if we use Snapper Check data.”

Former MRD Director Chris Blankenship, now the Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, has said on several occasions that Alabama feels much more confident in the integrity of the Alabama Snapper Check data compared to MRIP.

“We were glad when we got our preliminary numbers from Snapper Check,” Blankenship said. “This is exactly what we thought would happen when they extended the season. We felt like the more days people could fish, the effort would spread out over the season. They could go when it was good for them and their family and not have to go every single day it was open.

“It kept the catch rates per day at a good level, and this is exactly what we thought would happen. We’ve been doing this a long time. We talked with fishermen to see what the seasons and effort were like when we had between 30 and 40 days to fish. We felt with more opportunity, the number of fishing trips per day would be less, and that’s exactly what we saw.”

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.