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Florala , Alabama
November 18, 2015     The Florala News
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November 18, 2015

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= :~ :: ~,:, ~i :!-i: :3- 7;i-i ESTABLISHED 1900 Location Of One Hundred Forty-Five Consecutive Annual Masonic Celebrations ONE HUNDRED FIFTEENTH YEAR NUMBER 36.8 PAGES PRINTED ON 100% RECYCLED PAPER WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER ! 8, 20 ! 5 50¢ PER ISSUE (S .ES TAX INCLUDED) On Beautiful Lake. And Gateway To The Gulf Coast I I l by Jan Allred Sunday night Alabama Governor Robert Bentley became the first governor to refuse Syrian refugees and by Monday morning 25 other governors had joined in refusing to admit Syrian refugees into their states• Bentley sent a letter to President Barrack Obama informing him of his deci- sion to refuse the refugees and urging the President to consider the resettlement of refugees in the United States. '"The threat posed by the Syrian refugees is foreseeable and real. The introduction of Syrian refu- gees into the United States without proper prior screen- ing and follow-up monitor- ing could result in a threat to the citizens and property of Alabama," Bentley wrote. "As governor, I cannot ex- pose my fellow Alabamians to the risk of accepting refu- gees from Syria, whose back- grounds cannot properly be checked to ensure national security." Since signing Executive Order 14 Bentley has had to defend his decision. He said the state's Homeland Secu- rity officials have told him that most major threats to the nation since the Septem- ber 1 lthattacks have come from people who came out of refugee programs. Those defending the President's acceptance of 10,000 Syrian refugees say Bentley's over- reacting and the majority of the refugees are women and children. Bentley defended his de- cision saying it was made to protect the people of his state• When asked if he had the authority to refuse the refugees Bentley said he did. Bentley said he under- stood the refugees were flee- ing violence caused by ISIS. But added his head overruled his heart and his responsi- bility was to put the safety of the people of Alabama ahead of the compassion for the refugees. He said there were to many unanswered question by the federal gov- ernment and we (governors) can't take the responsibility on the state level to bring people in. His executive or- der directed all executive branch agencies to utilize all lawful means necessary to prevent the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Alabama. "They only have to be right one time, the terrorists do, and we have to be wrong one time," Bentley said. "It is clear the United States is not prepared to handle the resettlement of Syrian refu- gees and one mistake by the federal government in allow- ing a refugee with a terror- ist connection poses a major safety threat to our people. As governor the threat asso- ciated with allowing Syrian refugees to enter Alabama is too high and I will not en- danger the lives of Alabam- ians by allowing Syrian refu- - gees to come into our beloved state•" In the executive order Bentley also cites the Fri- day attacks by terrorists in Paris that killed over 120 and wounded 350 more. "... These attacks were conduct- ed by Islamic extremists, at least one of them a recent Syrian refugee, and the rad- ical terrorist group, Islamic State, claimed responsibil: ity," states part of the execu- tive order. In the order Bentley spe- ciIically names the state Department of Human Re- sources and the Alabama Department of Public Health not to participate in the re- settlement of any Syrian ref- ugees in the state• Bentley also orders that should the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency receive information that a Syrian refugee is al- ready located in Alabama it should utilize all lawful means to monitor and avert threats within the state. An Open Letter to the People: "For the people".•. That Was the campaign motto in my 2010 run for the Office of District Attorney. Since then, kept that motto at the forefront. Seek and find justice•.. "For the peo- ple." In 2011, we inherited over 400 pending felo- ny cases. Today, there are 130. Crime rates remain steady, but we have become more ef- ficient. Expediency and efficiency promote pro- ductivity. Thus, we've been able to prosecute to a conclusion over 1900 felony cases and well over 7,500 misde- meanors. During that same time period, we tried 42 felony jury tri- als. 32 resulted in con- victions; 7 acquittals; •.. Walt Merrell and 3 were mistrials. All that, despite being lim- ited to 5 jury terms per year because of budget cutbacks• We've tried and convicted murder- ers, rapists, child mo- lesters, burglars, drug dealers, and all sorts in between. And speak- ing of budget cutbacks, our budget has been cut by the Legislature 28% since I took office and 53% since 2008. Still, we press on. We don't sacrifice quality in the name of quantity either: In 2014, we were ranked number 2 in the state, per capita, for the num- ber of people we sent to prison. We sent 51.08 people to prison for ev- ery 10,000 residents we have. From 2011 to 2013, we were ranked number 1 in the State in this category. Fact is, we send the people to prison that ought to go to prison• We've also. helped those folks that need help. When I took office, there were 13 clients in Drug Court and none had graduated. Since then, we've graduated 109 people from the intense, year- see MERRELL page 8 •.. Williamson by Jan Allred Florala Mayor Rob- ert Williamson was re. cently appointed the at-large director for Covington County on the Board of Directors of the Choctawhatchee, Pea and Yellow Rivers Watershed Manage- see DIRECTOR page 2 by Lisa Windham The Florala Utilities Board met last week dur- ing regular session. Joey Evans addressed the board concerning land he had gifted to the city on Lakeshore Boulevard. The land was a 50'x50' sec- tion in front of his home, which contains a sewer lift station• New owners will soon occupy the home and want to erect a fence around the property and a circular drive. Evans asked if the city could grant an easement for them to do so. Following discus- sion, Superintendent Chris Jackson said the re- quired space for the lift station is probably 20'x20' so the request would not pose a problem. The board voted contingent upon a new warranty deed and inspection by the superintendent to adjust the property line. Jackson presented a request to purchase a cam- era system to inspect the system's lines. He said the cost will be $5,295 (possibly available from an- other project which will be lower than estimated). "I think this is a very viable tool and in the long term will pay for itself," said Mayor Robert Wil- liamson. Board requested specifics on the system and to check on the budget by the next meeting to make a decision. Jackson also reported a water loss of 17% for the past month. In other business the board approved: • A one-time pay raise for employees • Agreed to close the office on November 25 • A one-time forgiveness of 25% for the MAS- TAR Building, where a hose was turned one re- sulting in a $518 water bill. • Approved minutes of the October 29 meeting • Approved accounts payable • Set the next meeting date for December 14 at 11 a.m. Lynda Powell has announced her candi- dacy for re-election to the Covington County School Board, Place 3. Powell and her hus- band, Carlos, are life- long residents of the Red OaldEnon commu- nity. They are the parents of four children - Carla, Carissa, A1 and Cory - and grandparents' to five, Blakely, Madison, Morgan, Allie and Mc- Coy. She, her husband, and children are all graduates of the Cov- ington County School system - Florala High School and Pleasant Home High School - with grandchildren, nieces and nephews currently enrolled in the system. Powell graduated from Troy University with a bachelor's de- gree and the University of South Alabama with •.. Lynda Powell a master's in secondary education. She taught English and social science in Florala area schools and at Pleasant Home for 25 years, retL~ing in 1997, and was elected to the BeE in 1998. In addition to her board service, Powell and her family are in the row-cropping, cattle and timber business. Powell is a mem- ber of Red Oak Baptist Church, the local chap- ter of the Daughter of The Florala News 1155 Fifth Street Florala, AL 36442 the American Revolu- tion and the United Daughters of the Con- federacy, Florala His- tory Club, Covington County Education Re- tirees Association, Cov- ington County Cattle- women and Alabama Association of School Boards. She is past president of the Covington Coun- ty Chapter of Ameri- can Red Cross, AARP, and Alpha Delta Kappa teacher's sorority; past member of Andalusia Pilot Club, Covington County Historical Soci- ety, and AEA. Pst honors include: Covington County Sec- ondary Teacher of the Year, Covington County Outstanding 4-H Vol- unteer Leader and All- SPate School Board. Powell has 332.5 hours of school training, havingre che t master's level 4. Powell said she is a committed advocate for IIIUt!P ll ,llml llll,: the an teac Comt~t ~o~,th~ to e~leb~ th~ n~!¢ ¢~f Cltr~! .... -. 8/00FtlI~WOnKS FltOlvt THt~ DIII~T I~OYlOl~D BY BUI~I)V'$ F~~ F, !