Demopolis Arrest Reports: July 18, 2017

June 16 – James D. Bell, 43, Theft of Property III, Hwy 43 North

June 16 – Xandra R. Allbrooks, 29, Theft of Property III, US Hwy 43 North

June 18 – Phillip L. Mattar, 58, DUI, US Hwy 80 West

June 19 – Warren K. Hawkins, 50, Ex-Felon in Possession of a Firearm, DPD

June 19 – Ronald Glover, 55, Disarming a Law Enforcement of Correction Officer, Assault a Police Officer, Disorderly Conduct/Disturbing Peace, Resisting Arrest

June 21 – Kiser D. Jackson, 32, Contempt of Court, Family Dollar

June 22 – Robert L. Davis III, 19, Possession of Marijuana I, Marengo County Courtroom

June 22 – Lazarus C. Mitchell, 31, Contempt of Court, Marengo County Jail

June 22 – Micheal J. Lucy, 26, Contempt of Court, Marengo County Jail

June 25 – Kimberly A. Richardson, 30, Barbiturate – Possession, Bell Grayson Road

June 25 – Nicole M. Roberts, 46, Theft of Property IV, Walmart

June 25 – Nicole M. Roberts, 46, Escape II, Walmart

June 25 – Jeremy J. Winston, 28, Harassment, East Washington St.

June 25 – Cedric L. Cooks, 23, Possession of Marijuana II, Drug Paraphernalia – 1st Offense, US Hwy 43 North

June 25 – Sierra M. Daniels, Disorderly Conduct/Disturbing Peace, Hwy 43 North

June 26 – Tremaine Richardson, 35, Public Intoxication, Demopolis City Court

June 28 – Nicole M. Roberts, 46, Fraudulent Use Credit/Debit Card (3 counts), Possession of a Forged Instrument (8 counts), Marengo County Jail

June 28 – Johnny L. Ormond, 61, Pedestrian Under the Influence, West Pearl

June 29 – Charley Bromberger, 42, Possession of Marijuana, West Jackson St

June 29 – Stefan Richardson, 19, Burglary of Auto (no theft), East Pettus St

June 30 – Jamarcus Smith, 23, Possession of a Concealed Weapon w/o Permit, Jack’s

June 30 – Jamarcus M. Alvis, Possession of a Concealed Weapon w/o Permit, Possession of Marijuana, Hwy 80 W

July 1 – Markus Furrow, 45, Drug Paraphernalia – 2nd Offense, Tampering with Physical Evidence, Parr’s Chevron

July 1 – Burrell Carter Jr, 34, Alias Writ of Arrest, East Pettus St

July 1 – Deanza K. Albert, 33, Assault III, East Washington St

July 2 – Tara Bryant, 18, Contempt of Court, Gary Malone’s/Jefferson Road

July 2 – Wanda H. Smith, 53, Theft of Property IV, Vowell’s

July 3 – Thomas L. Hudson, 41, Failure of Adult Sex Offender to Register with Local Law Enforcement, Hwy 80 East

July 5 – Dames D. Robertson, 53, Possession of Child Pornography, Bell Grayson Road

July 6 – Derrick C. Simmons, 26, Criminal Mischief II, DPD

July 6 – Pamela C. Scott, 55, Harassment, Disorderly Conduct/Disturbing Peace, East Pettus

July 6 – Monica Ashworth, 51, Insufficient Funds – Check, East Washington St

July 6 – Timothy E. Brown, 21, Possession of Marijuana, Hwy 80 West

July 7 – Lucas M. Grantham, 31, Domestic Violence III, Indian Hill Road

July 9 – Chester D. Washington, 23, Robbery III, Resisting Arrest, Wolf Circle

July 10 – Brian Pham, 45, Miscellaneous Offenses, DPD

July 10 – Joseph P. Knowles Jr., 35, DUI (Combined Substance), DPD

July 12 – Lekendrick D. Giles, 31, Marijuana – Possession, Barbiturate – Possession, McDonald’s Parking Lot

July 13 – Jaylion D. James, 19, Theft of Property IV (2 counts), Walmart

July 13 – Joshua D. Nixon, 26, Theft of Property IV, Hwy 80 West

July 13 – Cornelia Howell, 59, Forgery I, Walmart

July 13 – Marquis R. Butler, 44, Forgery I, DPD

July 14 – Georgetta Essex, 37, Assault II, Aggravated Assault – Domestic Knife, US Hwy 80 West

July 16 – Thomas L. Harris Jr., 42, Domestic Violence III, Estelle Drive

July 17 – Stephanie D. Benison, 26, Harassing Communications, DPD

July 18 – Kendra M. Taylor, 29, Assault III, South Walnut

July 18 – Derick. D. Holloway, 39, Assault III, US Highway 80 East Apt. A1

Charter School Commission approves University Charter School

LIVINGSTON, Ala.—With the recent approval by the Alabama Public Charter Schools Commission for a new charter school in Sumter County, the University of West Alabama is preparing to transition the efforts of the planning team to the school’s founding board of directors in August. The University will continue to provide support and assistance to the Charter School to help ensure its long-term success.  

The school is set for opening August 2018, and the coming year will serve as the planning year. University Charter School becomes only the 4th charter school approved in the state since the passing of the Alabama School Choice and Student Opportunity Act in 2015.

University Charter School, which was proposed and developed by the University of West Alabama, will open its doors to students in pre-k through grade 5 in its first year, with plans to expand through grade 12 in subsequent years

The project has been led by a steering committee of community and civic leaders, as well as a planning committee from the University. Prior to the application submission on May 1, nearly $400k in support funds had been pledged from throughout the community. Although verbally approved by the Commission during a June 27 presentation, the school will be officially approved on July 26 at the APCSC’s quarterly meeting in Montgomery.

UWA President Ken Tucker has high expectations for the school and said that the University’s administration is confident that this is a step in the right direction for Sumter County and beyond.

“This innovative project has the potential to be transformative for Sumter County and our region, and we are confident that the model will have a positive and lasting impact on rural schools throughout the state, and even perhaps the nation, for many years to come,” Tucker said. 

“University Charter School is an innovative initiative that directly aligns with UWA’s mission to improve the region through education and outreach,” Tucker explained. 

University Charter School will be as unique as the histories, cultures, and landscapes of its constituents, resulting in the development of a rural, community-based school that will bring real opportunities to the children in our community.

University Charter School’s place-based instructional model is designed to ensure that students get to know their community and the people and opportunities in it. 

University Charter School also has the potential to breathe new economic life into our rural community,” Tucker said. As the first rural charter school in Alabama, we have an opportunity to do something unique, innovative and transformational, and we are very excited about the potential to positively impact the educational, economic and workforce development systems in our region.” 

Tucker said that the application team placed significant emphasis on the needs of the community while incorporating best practices known to enhance communities and work forces nationwide.

“By focusing on community cooperation and inclusiveness, and by providing students with a quality customized learning experience, we intend to graduate students with a skill set that prepares them for economic independence and success throughout their lives, whether it be college or career.” 

University Charter School was one of three applications presented to the Commission for the year. It was the only school to be granted full approval upon presentation, a unanimous vote of approval. Another was approved with condition, and another was denied approval.

What better time than this for all of you to rise up and make a difference in your county?” one commissioner said to the team. “Do well. Go forth and do well, do the best you can for the kids in your county.

Tucker said that he has high expectations for the school and is confident in the direction it is taking.

“Because of the unique approach and the newness of charter schools in Alabama, University Charter School will blaze a trail of educational innovation, collaboration, and development, empowering the next generation of leaders for our community, our region, and beyond,” Tucker said. “The ultimate goal for the application team has been to establish a holistic framework that will equip every person connected to University Charter School—whether as a student, an educator, or partner—to learn, grow, serve, and succeed in all academic and career endeavors.

Tucker commended the application team and said that the quality of work produced to develop the application confirms a need and provides a viable solution.

“The application team’s focus on maintaining integrity, transparency, professionalism, expertise, and commitment to serving others has been truly exemplary,” Tucker said. “The Commission’s stamp of full approval on the University Charter School application offers assurance that our dedicated team has fully addressed every aspect of establishing a charter school, from identifying the wide range of needs and validating those, to developing the strategic plans that offer an innovative and all-inclusive and realistic approach to addressing those needs, and an exemplary plan for curriculum and programming. This is a tremendous accomplishment for our county and region.”

To learn more about University Charter School, call 205-652-5459. Enrollment, employment, and other information about the school will be advertised as it continues to be developed. 

Tears and Laughter: If your town is not painting rocks, your community is missing out on the fun 

Often times in downtown Camden, there is no one out. The sidewalks are empty and so are the streets, except for the occasional car passing through.

Of course there are other times when it is busy. Early in the day when people are out running errands and working, and especially at the first of the month. On parade days the sidewalks will be crowded, and again when Santa rolls in on a firetruck during the annual Christmas in Camden festival.

And sometimes the courthouse square looks like a farmer’s market with people milling around. You can’t pick up a bushel of purple hull peas and a couple pounds of shrimp fresh from the gulf for supper when you bail out of most courthouses. But in Wilcox, you can get tomatoes and local honey too. Camden is protective of its farmers. Anyone visiting, or anyone who is lost and finds themselves at the junction of Claiborne Street and Highway 265, is encouraged to stop and thump the watermelons. But often there are just vacant parking spaces and silence under the shade of the old pecan tree.

That was until these last few days when things have started to change. I parked on Claiborne Street beside the Veteran’s Monument Park Friday and immediately a truck pulled in and parallel parked behind me. A young girl jumped out of the passenger side door. She was grinning and started running. I watched her grab a painted rock like it was a baton in a relay race. All in one movement she swooped up the rock and headed back to the truck.

Her mom was smiling as she pulled away, and in seeing them happy I noticed that I was smiling too. I was clutching three painted rocks and had intentionally waited for them to drive away before I got out of the car so as to not give away the locations. I was about to hide one at the Veteran’s Monument and the others across Broad Street at the courthouse and library.

I had seen different articles and news features about the Kindness Rocks Project. I know Andalusia is rocking and Prattville is participating as well as Monroeville. Several towns are, but I thought little of it really…because I live in Camden.

Specifically, I live about eight miles out from Camden in Canton Bend – which adheres to the Alabama River and connects to Possum Bend on one end and Millers Ferry on the other – but we all have Camden addresses.

The creative rock project initially began in Memphis, Tennessee. While the process of painting the rocks as well as finding the rocks can be an introspective process, the goal was simply to inspire others – both through the art on the rock and through the random act of kindness. Anyone who finds a rock is encouraged to share a picture on Facebook, then keep it or hide it again.

The local Alabama Camden Rocks page started on July 5. Within days sidewalks were filled with those young and young at heart. I’ve never witnessed anything so simple and positive bring a community together so quickly.

Neighbors have gathered kids together to paint rocks, along with church youth groups. Even during summer break a crowd of students got together to paint and hide rocks. Creative adults – some hesitant at first thinking they were too old to play – have joined in on the fun too. Toddlers, guided by their mothers and grandmothers holding their chubby hand, have in the other their own creation to hide in exchange for a find.

There have been painted turtles and puppies and lady bugs. There have been signs, scriptures and emojis along with messages and symbols of hope. Several posts of found rocks say, “This made my day!” Or, “I needed to see this today.”

Kindness, it turns out, is contagious. And it can bring joy to the emptiest of places.

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 BOE readies for new academic year in Monday meeting

Back-to-school preparations took up much of the Demopolis City Board of Education meeting Monday.

Board members voted on personnel changes, bids for services and other actions to get ready for the school year that starts in less than a month.

One of the actions taken was to approve an on-site counselor from West Alabama Mental Health to be at Demopolis Middle School to serve WAMH clients. The board pays nothing for the counselor but will provide an office, internet connection and phone in the library.

In addition to working with the WAMH clients, the counselor will also serve as a resource to the school counselor, said Kyle Kallhoff, superintendent. If the program works well this first year, it may be expanded to U.S. Jones or Westside Elementary Schools in 2018-2019.

Parents who want to pay on line for their child’s school lunch now use PayPams. The board voted to expand the service to allow parents to pay school fees on line as well.

However, the original motion was modified to make sure PayPams lowers its service fee as the school year progresses and the amount declines.

The Child Nutrition Program (CNP) bids approved included Four Seasons Produce, $23,783.11; Borden Dairy, $83,769.01, and Ice Cream Warehouse, $11,170.

In other action the board approved:

  • An agreement with Shelton State Community College for the dual enrollment HVAC class.
  • Extra-curricula supplements.
  • Inventory disposition of four items, including a 1998 bus that will be offered for sale.

In consent items, the board voted for:

  • A memorandum of understanding to implement in the new pre-K program
  • A contract with Fleming Photography to take Demopolis High School pictures, including senior portraits, class photos and sports.
  • Re-advertising the Central Office secretary position and expand it to 10 months with a commiserate salary.
  • Advertising for a DMS English teacher.
  • Rotary Club dues for the superintendent.

The personnel report included the following:

  • Employment: Mary Ellen McCrory, CNP worker at WES; Nicole Jensen, Social Studies teacher at DMS; Tracey Stewart, 10-month assistant principal, split between WES and USJ; Jamie Webb, USJ teacher, and William Jackson, 12-month custodian at WES.
  • Resignations: Pam Morrison, Central Office secretary, and Allison Cobb, English/Language Arts teacher at DMS.
  • Transfers: Shawn Nikki Cobb, Special Education paraprofessional from USJ to DMS, and Ricky Richardson, Special Education paraprofessional from USJ to WES
  • Substitutes: Elaine Carter and Katie Poole
  • Miscellaneous: Brandi Dannelly, DHS girls P.E. teacher to a 10-month employee, and Norvie Womack, Career Prep teacher at DMS, to a 10-month employee.

Kallhoff gave the board a brief overview of the ACT, ACT Aspire and AP exam results for 2017, which will be shared with personnel at the Teacher’s Institute.

The board will hold a called meeting at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 2, to make final personnel changes. The next regularly scheduled meeting of the board will be Monday, Aug. 21, at 5:15 p.m.

Commission votes to purchase electronic poll books after debate

Marengo County Commissioner Freddie Armstead didn’t mince words at the meeting Tuesday morning when he let loose on the Republican-led Alabama legislature for requiring unfunded mandates to the state counties.

His comments arose when the commission was asked to pass a resolution to consent to the use of electronic poll books for elections in the county. Each poll book will cost some $850. The resolution needed to be passed at the July meeting since the primary election for the U.S. Senate will be in August.

“We don’t have the money. We don’t have the $13,000,” said Armstead.

Commissioner Jason Windham said poll books were used in Demopolis during the election last year on loan from the state to see how well they worked. “In my personal opinion, it makes (voting) twice as fast.”

Armstead said the primary reason for the poll books was to prevent people from crossing party lines to vote in a run-off election.

County attorney W.W. Dinning, Jr., agree that “It is no doubt it is politically motivated. He said the state is requiring counties to use electronic poll books, but the unfunded mandate lays the burden of paying for them on the counties.

“Why don’t we just tell them to go to hell,” joked Armstead. “It’s the Republicans putting something else on us to keep track of what you’re doing and to keep people from cross-over voting.”

After lengthy discussion the commission voted for the resolution and to purchase 12 poll books for the August election to be used at the polling places that have the most voters. The rest will be purchased before the mid-term elections in 2018.

Armstead also took issue that Revenue Commissioner Sharon Barkley was not at the meeting to explain the annual report to the state on insolvents, errors in assessments and taxes. He directed Meredith Hammond, the commission secretary, to have her attend the meeting.

Instead of Barkley, Whitney Niehoff, a clerk with the Revenue Commission, explained the report to commissioners and said that everything was reconciled in the department account.

In other action, the commission approved:

  • The Grand Jury report,
  • Keeping the User Fee CD at the First Bank of Linden
  • Going out for bids to pressure wash the courthouse, annex and jail. Bids will be opened at the next meeting on Aug. 8.

TRAC presents REWIND of the Shoals Friday night

The Two Rivers Arts Council (TRAC) is hosting a concert featuring REWIND of the Shoals on Friday, July 14 at 6:30 p.m. at the Demopolis Civic Center. REWIND of the Shoals is a ten piece Oldies/Motown band which prides itself in providing quality entertainment for all occasions.

The band is a very versatile and multi-talented group, performing the most requested hits from the sixties, seventies and eighties as well as many other top 40 hits from yesterday’s charts. REWIND of the Shoals features both male and female vocalists, keyboards, bass, percussion, guitar and a five-piece horn section consisting of three trumpets, a trombone, and a saxophone.

If you are looking for that nostalgic 60’s/Motown sound, they have it. If you just want to “Rock,” they do that and 70’s disco. The band is comprised of some of the most talented, respected and dedicated musicians around. They are all very passionate about music and love to perform. The group always elicits a very enthusiastic response and will do whatever it takes to make sure the audience is pleased.

Tickets are $10 at the door and arts council member’s admission is included in the annual membership. Bring your own beverage or favorite spirits. Light hors d’oeuvres will be provided.

For more information, contact Judy Etheridge at (334) 295-4254.

Gulf Seafood Summit celebrates Alabama seafood

It seems like eons ago when Alabama and the rest of the states on the Gulf of Mexico were collectively staring at a potential apocalypse that might eternally alter the way of life along the Gulf Coast.

The wellhead at the Macondo Prospect was uncontrollably spewing barrel after barrel of crude oil into the Gulf after the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig was destroyed, and our economy and culture were hanging by the thinnest of threads in the summer of 2010.

Residents along the coast didn’t know if they would enjoy Gulf shrimp or sautéed red snapper filets ever again.

Fast forward to the summer of 2017: Wild Gulf shrimp are plentiful, and the waters off the Alabama coast are teeming with red snapper.

As Jim Smith, the executive chef of the State of Alabama who makes sure Gov. Kay Ivey gets plenty of Alabama seafood, put it:

“The BP oil spill is so far behind us in the rearview mirror that it doesn’t even come up anymore,” said Smith last week at the Alabama Gulf Seafood Summit in Orange Beach, where he also served as one of the judges in the Alabama Seafood Cook-Off.

After the oil spill, the Alabama Seafood Marketing Commission (ASMC) was formed in March 2011 to help guide consumers and the seafood industry through the uncertain recovery process.

“A big portion of what we did after the oil spill was to ensure our seafood was safe,” said Chris Blankenship, who was Alabama Marine Resources Division (MRD) Director during most of the recovery period and now serves as Acting Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR). “I will say that during the spill and after the spill we never had a seafood sample that was unsafe.”

Blankenship said the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries, Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) and MRD combined forces to the test the seafood, which included finfish, oysters, shrimp and blue crabs.

“We started this (ASMC) from scratch,” Blankenship said. “I think with the website (www.eatalabamaseafood.com) and the impact that the program has had, it has been good for the industry. The thing that shows me that we have value as a seafood marketing commission is that people do want to put our logo on their doors, their businesses and their menus. To me, that is the biggest compliment for the work that has been done by the commission. We have built a value with people identifying with Alabama seafood.

“When I go to a restaurant and see our logo on there, I feel like we’ve had an impact on the industry. It has been a very productive five years, but we have more work to do.”

Blankenship did say that funding for the seafood commission is far from what it once was, and he has no idea what the future holds.

“I will say we’re operating on a shoestring budget compared to what it once was,” he said. “We had initial funding from BP that lasted for three years. We were able to obtain some additional funding from the Governor’s office that we stretched for two years. We also received a grant from the Deepwater Horizon Settlement Fund that really helped keep us going. Last year, out of the blue, I got a surprise letter from the Deepwater Settlement Fund. The letter said the work the commission had done was impressive and that we followed the grant agreement and all the reporting required was done on time. The letter said they had a little money left over and asked if we could use $100,000. I could not reply fast enough that, yes, we could use it. We currently have no funding to continue the valuable work of the ASMC after 2017.

“We hope that we will gain some long-term funding through the RESTORE Act. The language in the act specifically mentions seafood marketing. It’s just taking a little longer than we would like to get the funding.”

Now that the BP oil spill is behind us, the effects of Alabama’s weather on seafood production can control the availability of seafood, especially oysters.

Byron Webb of the ADPH’s shellfish office said recent rains from Tropical Storm Cindy have caused the harvestable oyster reefs to be shut down as a precaution. Several benchmarks are used to determine if an area will be closed.

“Right now, we’re under several closures,” Webb said. “If we get five inches of local rain, that closes an area until we get to test the water again. We got 5 inches of rain one night and another 5 inches the next day. We’re also closed because of river levels. When the Mobile River at Barry Steam Plant gets above 8 feet, we close it.

“When anything like that happens, it’s a 21-day closure. That gives it enough time for the components that would cause health issues to be flushed out. After that, we test again until we get a clean sample and can reopen the reefs.”

Blankenship said the closures are to ensure that the products the public gets are safe.

“It is an inconvenience for the oystermen and oyster growers, but it’s really a protection for those businesses and consumers to make sure that no products enter the marketplace that are not safe,” he said.

Blankenship said the demand for oysters produced through aquaculture operations on the Alabama coast is through the roof.

“We are able to sell a lot more oysters than we can produce,” he said. “One thing we’re trying to do is create an opportunity for people who want to get into the oyster aquaculture business. We’re putting together a one-stop-shop website so that investors big and small can use the tools. If a husband and wife want to start an oyster farm, they can go to the website to see what permitting is required and what capital is required to grow a million oysters. A company that might want to grow 10 million oysters can use the site, too.

“This year, we are on schedule to produce about five million oysters, but I think we have a demand for about 25 million oysters. There is real growth potential for the oyster aquaculture industry.”

On an oyster-related note, the Oyster Shell Recycling Program, which cranked up last year, has been an overwhelming success. The program collects oyster shells from Alabama Gulf Coast restaurants and takes the shells to the Alabama Marine Resources Division property in Gulf Shores. After six months of seasoning, the shells are used for oyster gardening programs and to refurbish public oyster reefs. The program set a goal of two million shells collected in its first two years but has already reached that goal in just six months.

Chef Gilstrap created Chef Olive’s “Fruitti di Alabama” recipe that featured an underutilized fish species in its dish of Pan Roasted Gulf Jolt Head Porgy that included Summer Squash Jumbo Lump Crab Caponata with a Crispy Rock Shrimp Piccatta topping (WAW | Contributed)

Blankenship said the blue crab industry is on the rebound but not where it should be. Proposed regulations on trap components allow small crabs to escape, and there is a nine-month closure on the harvest of egg-bearing female crabs.

As part of the seafood summit, the third annual Alabama Seafood Cook-Off was held at The Wharf, and the third time was the charm for Chef Brody Olive’s team. Although Chef Olive was out of town because of a death in the family, Chef Brad Gilstrap led the team to the championship with three Alabama seafood components. Chef Jason Ramirez of Villaggio Grille, located at The Wharf, was named runner-up.

Chef Gilstrap created Chef Olive’s “Fruitti di Alabama” recipe that featured an underutilized fish species in its dish of Pan Roasted Gulf Jolt Head Porgy that included Summer Squash Jumbo Lump Crab Caponata with a Crispy Rock Shrimp Piccatta topping.

Chef Olive and Chef Gilstrap are now set to represent Alabama at the upcoming Great American Seafood Cook-Off in New Orleans on August 6 as well as the World Food Championships at The Wharf November 8-14.

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: More highs and lows of the healthcare roller coaster 

I seldom bother to toss in my opinion concerning healthcare. I haven’t been to the doctor since Obamacare passed, but of course my family has, especially my husband who is well-documented in the system. It was determined years ago at the emergency room that he has high blood pressure. There was a question as to whether he had actual high blood pressure or if it was high because he had just had his finger squished. But after a couple of weeks of monitoring, it was clear he needed to be on some form of blood pressure medication.

And to begin with, he was like an uncle I had, God rest his soul. He was a fine Christian man. He was respected in the community. He was one of the sweetest people you could ever meet, as long as he took his medicine. Otherwise, he was crazy as hell. Now the whole family knew this as well as he did, but every once in a while he would get it in his head that the Lord had healed him and he didn’t need to take his pills anymore.

He was wrong. And that is how Justin was about blood pressure medicine. He thought if he lost weight and ate healthy and exercised more that he wouldn’t need it. It took him time to accept that he wasn’t overweight or out of shape, but he still had high blood pressure.

So after a couple of misses with different types of blood pressure pills one was found that didn’t turn him beet red or make him pass out. He had been on Azor for years since without any issue until recently when it was placed on the non-preferred list of medications covered by our insurance company – despite the doctor’s recommendation – and the mail order pharmacy service slid in a generic. And these jewels are bad. They are not working properly for him and I think they are going to give me a heart attack, because when his pressure drops and he tells me he is not feeling well, that means he is about to pass out.

I cannot support his weight, and this pressure dropping has become fairly routine. I understand the issue is being looked into, and the emergency room has coached me about how to put pillows under his knees and try and get him awake enough to drink sweet tea. I have to go into a mode of trying to keep him opening his eyes and will constantly be checking his pressure. I’m no nurse, but I know when that bottom number is below 50 it is a problem. Every time, I have to decide whether and at what point to call 911. There was one night when I’m certain I would have before he came to, but he was in the Jacuzzi and I had to hold him up to keep from sliding down into the water. I couldn’t reach a phone. All I could do was pray. He finally opened his eyes and sipped the tea. And no, the water wasn’t overly hot.

I am worried this will happen when he is out alone working and no one will be there to help him. He could fall. There are the elements, like fire ants and heat. I am afraid of it happening in front of the kids. It will scare them. I’m terrified that one of these times I’m not going to be able to keep him coming back awake.

I don’t know if the healthcare plan needs to be fixed, repealed, or replaced, but my husband’s current generic blood pressure medicine – sent to him by the insurance company via their mail order prescription service – is not working. I tend to doubt he is alone in riding this healthcare roller coaster.

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

2017 HWY 80 Songwriters Fest (gallery)

2017 Songwriter’s Festival

7-1-2017 — Demopolis, Ala. — Musicians and committee members gather for a photo before the 2017 Songwriter’s Festival in the downtown square in Demopolis. Committee members are (bottom row, l-r) Andy Renner, John Russell, Woody Collins, Mike Grayson, Bill Mason, Mike Baker, Laurie Willingham and Candace Dorriety. Artists include (top row, l-r) Taylor Craven, Paul Garner, Alan Hartzell, Megan McMillan, Brian Smith, Kenny Smitherman, Christina Christian, Taylor Hunnicutt, Jacob Broussard and Shawn Pfaffman.

Don’t miss out on a great evening of live, original music in the square in downtown Demopolis. The 2017 Songwriter’s Festival will kick off at 6pm. We have nine artists who will be performing original music, live in the Demopolis square. Come see us!