Author: Jane Nicholes

Samuel Jenkins broke Baldwin County Commission color barrier

Samuel Jenkins Sr., a one-time potato farmer who rose to become Baldwin County’s first and only African-American county commissioner, died in his sleep on Feb. 25 at his home in Daphne. Jenkins was 90. Jenkins and current County Commissioner Frank Burt ran together for the commission in 1988. Jenkins served until 2000 while Burt, 84, is still in office today. Burt said Jenkins “was a dear, dear friend of mine.” “We rode many a mile together looking at roads, meeting with folks and trying to help them,” Burt said. “He was certainly an advocate for people and honesty and hard work.” Born in 1926, Jenkins was part of a large family and grew up on a farm between Loxley and Daphne, Burt said. He served in the U.S. Army in the Philippines during World War II. Marrying and settling in Daphne, Jenkins worked as a potato farmer, as an independent trucker, as an employee of the Alabama State Employment Service and eventually as a superintendent for the Del Monte Banana Co. He was a union president of the Banana Handlers Local 1516 in Mobile. Jenkins was also the first African-American to chair the Baldwin County Commission. During his three terms in office, the commission had seven districts rather than the current four. Jenkins’ district ran from Little River to Daphne. “One of his sayings was, ‘I have no friends...

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Fairhope mayor in the hospital (updated)

Fairhope Mayor Karin Wilson is hospitalized with an apparent infection, according a statement on her Facebook page. Here is that statement in its entirety: “Dear Citizens, “I appreciate the outpouring of support and understanding by many following Friday’s events. For those who are upset, I want you to know that I care about how you feel. The employees were let go for reasons which I cannot disclose at this time, but be assured that those actions were in the best interest of the City. The two employees were long-serving, but tenure does not outweigh what is in the best...

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The bond, the bid and the blogger: What all the fuss is about in Fairhope

It’s a one-runway municipal airport named after a beloved former congressman. It has an aviation training academy and a lot of potential to attract suppliers to the massive Airbus assembly operation in Mobile. Yet the H.L. “Sonny” Callahan Airport has become a political football in Fairhope. • Mayor Karin Wilson is fighting with the City Council and the Airport Authority to get control of the airport for the city, focusing on a multi-million-dollar debt incurred by the authority but being carried by the city. • A local blogger, Paul Ripp, has raised a ruckus about the award of a...

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Mardi Gras horror: Vehicle plows into Gulf Shores band injuring 12

On TV, the images stood out amid the usual Mardi Gras sights of grand floats, flying beads and shouting people jammed behind barricades. A pair of black shoes, a few feet apart and pointing in different directions, in the middle of the street. Yellow tape fluttering in the breeze. Band instruments, unattended, lying on the ground. Children, so still, on stretchers. A dozen members of the Gulf Shores High School Marching Band were injured at the start of that city’s Mardi Gras parade Tuesday morning when an SUV struck them from behind. Authorities said a 73-year-old man from Fairhope was driving and there was no intent to harm, but beyond that little was known by late afternoon about what happened and why. Six high school students and six middle school students were injured. Three were in critical but stable condition Tuesday afternoon. Most were taken to South Baldwin Regional Medical Center, some to Pensacola and one to USA Medical Center in Mobile. At an afternoon news conference, Gulf Shores city spokesman Grant Brown said the SUV was part of an American Legion unit lined up behind the band. As the parade was about to begin on Highway 59, the SUV “accelerated and struck them from behind,” he said. The driver cooperated with police, voluntarily giving blood samples. He had not been charged as of Tuesday afternoon and police were...

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Fairhope mayor fires two; council responds with hiring freeze

The decision by Mayor Karin Wilson to fire two well-known city employees led to the City Council instituting a temporary hiring freeze Monday, and seemed to leave the city divided. Some 300 people turned out for a special called council meeting, spilling out into the lobby where a monitor showed the meeting for those who didn’t want to stand along the walls inside. Judging from the applause, the crowd seemed split between supporters of the council — or the fired employees — and the mayor. On Friday, Wilson fired Public Works Director Jennifer Fidler and Community Affairs Director Sherry Sullivan, two longtime city employees well-known to many city residents. Word of the decision quickly made its way around the city and was a subject of contentious debate on social media throughout the weekend. “The council has received hundreds of calls, texts and emails,” said Kevin Boone, who presided over the special meeting. Boone said council members had no knowledge of the firings until after the fact. The hiring freeze could last up to 60 days, or “until the council has the opportunity to meet with the mayor to discuss these issues.” The issues include the mayor’s overall vision for the city, he said. Council President Jack Burrell was out of town Monday and Councilman Jay Robinson, an attorney, was reported to be in court. The three councilors who constituted...

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About The Author

Jane Nicholes

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Jane Nicholes marvels at the stories to be told in Baldwin County. Rapid population growth and development affect local governments, traffic, public schools and the environment, yet citizens can create a controversy out of holiday tree lights. There’s always someone around who remembers who did what to whom 50 years ago. And Baldwin County high schools grow college and professional football players like farmers grow Silver King corn. Jane has more than 35 years of experience in daily newspapers, alternative newspapers and specialty publications in Alabama, Louisiana, Kentucky, Arkansas and South Carolina. She is a former editorial writer and reporter for the Press-Register and former managing editor of The Times of Acadiana in Lafayette, La. A graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, she lives in Daphne.

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