Author: Jane Nicholes

Alcohol restrictions tame Baldwin County spring break

Spring break doesn’t start and end in Baldwin County so much as it starts up and winds down. While there may be some families or groups of college kids out on the beaches this week, the days when nearby universities and local high schools were all out on break at once are over for the year. Gulf Shores’ infamous spring break alcohol ban on the beaches ended Monday, though we don’t recommend throwing a keg party there in celebration. Gulf Shores plans to review the need for the ban every year, but these numbers make a strong argument for the future: • Arrests in Gulf Shores last year from March 3 through April 16: 633; • Arrests this year: 370. “I think it was a lesser crowd,” Gulf Shores Police Lt. Bill Cowan said. “There were still plenty of people here, but I think the alcohol ban for the weeks of spring break had the effect of letting people know that we’re not going to be the college party town. We’re not interested in being the college party town. I think that helped.” When Panama City Beach got so out of control authorities there had to take steps to make it less attractive for the hard-partying college crowd, Pleasure Island leaders feared they would move west. And when some of them did migrate last year, the underage drinking and...

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Pittman worries more about budget than U.S. Senate

State Sen. Trip Pittman says he’s been too busy in the commotion surrounding former Gov. Robert Bentley’s departure from office to give much thought to a campaign for Luther Strange’s U.S. Senate seat. “My plate’s full,” Pittman told Lagniappe Thursday. Pittman chairs the General Fund Committee, a crucial state budget position. Since the Legislature has been unable to move forward while awaiting a recommendation regarding impeachment proceedings in the House of Representatives, the budget is one of multiple issues that need to be resolved quickly. Pittman said he thinks new Gov. Kay Ivey will a do a good job...

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Elliott seaks state Senate seat

The 2018 race for a Baldwin County state Senate seat officially got underway Thursday as County Commission Chairman Chris Elliott announced he was running for the post. In a lengthy Facebook post, Elliott said, “As a Baldwin County Commissioner, I have built coalitions to substantially increase the efficiency of your county government saving taxpayers 10’s of millions of dollars each year and reducing substantially the overall county employee headcount all while increasing spending on road and drainage projects to address our critical infrastructure needs. We have brought new high paying jobs to Baldwin County with even more prospects in...

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Controversial Fly Creek apartments get extension

The Fly Creek upscale apartment development was a key issue in last year’s Fairhope municipal elections, costing some city leaders their offices. At least some voters hoped with a new mayor and three new council members the controversial apartments to be built behind Publix would go away. That’s not what happened Monday when a crucial extension of time to get the project moving was approved on a 4-1 vote. Only Councilman Jimmy Conyers voted to deny the extension. Other councilors said regardless of their personal opinions on the project, the city’s own temporary moratorium on new subdivisions blocked the...

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Foley students get civil rights history lesson from eyewitness

Joanne Bland uses oral history to get African-American history straight. Her appearance in Foley last week encompassed school students, a luncheon with community leaders and a late-afternoon meeting with Baldwin County teachers. Bland is a civil rights and human rights activist who grew up in Selma. She owns Journeys for the Soul, a touring agency focusing on civil rights history and Selma. Bland’s message: As a matter of self-worth, children descended from slaves need to know the truth, however ugly, about the days of slavery and the fight for civil rights. White children need to know the truth, too, and they don’t necessarily get it in school. “Ain’t no such thing as a happy slave,” she told the teachers. “Slavery happened. It happened. It’s a part of our history. It wasn’t a good part of our history, I don’t think, but it happened. You cannot deny it happened. But you cannot sugarcoat it and act like it was right.” Teachers need to be creative to overcome sugarcoated standard curriculums. Young children, who often idolize their teachers, learn self-esteem from their own history. For example, blacks were civil rights heroes, and slaves built the homes and infrastructure in the early years of this nation. “When you talk about World War II, you need to mention some Negroes; you need to mention some brown people. You need to mention some yellow...

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Community Foundation seeks to help disadvantaged children

About a dozen people are sitting around a table at the Baldwin County Commission’s annex in Robertsdale. They represent several agencies trying to make a difference in the lives of children. They speak of the effects of poverty, drug addiction, alcohol abuse, parents who don’t care, even lack of transportation as keeping at-risk children from reaching their potential. Many agency representatives don’t have immediate solutions to what are difficult societal problems. But they keep trying. They’re getting some help from the Community Foundation of South Alabama, which is sponsoring a series of “deliberative forums” in its eight-county service area. In conjunction with the David Mathews Center for Civic Life, based in Montevallo, the meeting is an opportunity to brainstorm and work together to solve problems through the foundation’s “Closing the Opportunity Gap Initiative.” Many of the social services representatives noted while Baldwin County is known as an affluent, growing, economically strong county, poverty is a reality in many areas. Affordable housing is a real problem in central Baldwin and along the coast, where many people work in tourism industry service jobs. Statistics provided to the forum confirm not everyone is living well. Infant mortality, low birthweights and teen pregnancies are slightly higher than the national average. Three percent of Baldwin households don’t have a vehicle. Nearly 20 percent of children live below the poverty line. Nearly 42 percent of...

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Controversial Fly Creek apartments get extension

The Fly Creek upscale apartment development was a key issue in last year’s Fairhope municipal elections, costing some city leaders their offices. At least some voters hoped with a new mayor and three new council members the controversial apartments to be built behind Publix would go away. That’s not what happened Monday when a crucial extension of time to get the project moving was approved on a 4-1 vote. Only Councilman Jimmy Conyers voted to deny the extension. Other councilors said regardless of their personal opinions on the project, the city’s own temporary moratorium on new subdivisions blocked the...

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Get a historical view of the Delta

Submitted Take a boat tour of the Mobile-Tensaw Delta and learn about its history along the way from historian and author John Sledge. The three-hour narrated tour is scheduled for 9 a.m. to noon on Thursday, April 13. Sledge is an architectural historian for the city of Mobile and the author of “The Mobile River,” a history of the river’s importance to the development of the city. The book won the Clinton Jackson Coley Award from the Alabama Historical Association. The tour boat, the Delta Explorer, will leave from the Blakeley State Park dock on the Tensaw River. Tickets are $40 for adults and $20 for children 6-12 on a first-come, first-served basis. Tickets can be reserved with a major credit card by calling 251-626-5581. For more information, go to...

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Fairhope Farmers Market gears up May 4

Submitted Fairhope’s popular Outdoor Farmers Market returns May 4 for an extended run in the new parking lot behind the Public Library. “This year we will be combining the spring and fall markets and running 27 weeks straight,” said Paige Crawford, special events coordinator. The market will run from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursdays from May 4 through Nov. 2. The market features local farmers and bakers. In addition to Baldwin County produce, the market will sell fresh-cut flowers, local honey and baked goods. Beginning at 4 p.m. each Thursday, the Public Library will offer activities for children. For more information about the Fairhope Outdoor Farmer’s Market please call...

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Fairhope to continue working on budget in special meeting

Just over six months into its current fiscal year, Fairhope still doesn’t have a budget in place. Progress is being made, however, and the City Council called a special meeting for noon Wednesday to discuss the budget and the vacant position of public works director. Three drafts of the budget have been put together, one by former Mayor Tim Kant and two by current Mayor Karin Wilson. Kant’s budget was essentially discarded following Wilson’s victory in last year’s municipal elections. Wilson asked for additional time to put together a budget reflecting her priorities, and she produced a draft a few weeks ago. As Council President Jack Burrell was asking questions about the first draft and refusing to schedule it for a vote until he got answers, a second draft came out last week. At least some council members received it prior to the March 27 council meeting. Burrell said he did not get a copy and did not know it existed until Monday. Burrell said it’s possible he received the new document but mislaid it, as other council members seem to have received their copies. “It’s nothing but a framework, and I have a lot of questions and concerns going forward,” Burrell said. The second draft contains numerous changes from the first, including many line items that were increased or reduced by $200,000 or more. It is available for...

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