Craig Ford - Debt is the real reason for special session

The Alabama Legislature returned to Montgomery this week for what may end up being only the first of more special legislative sessions. The governor said that the purpose for this legislative session was to vote on a lottery to fund Medicaid and other general fund proposals. While the lottery is being debated in the state
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Craig Ford - It will take more than a lottery

In less than two weeks, the state legislature will return to Montgomery to take up a lottery bill that no one has seen. Gov. Robert Bentley, who has prided himself on using “the element of surprise” when it comes to calling special legislative sessions, has still not released any details or even had any conversations
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The Vagabond: Etowah County's role in the Civil War - Part 2

Perhaps the most fatal decision of the Civil War was made in Gadsden in October of 1864, when the Army of Tennessee, commanded by the dashing Gen. John Bell Hood, encamped here for two days. Recently driven out of Atlanta, Hood zigzagged his army up through northwest Georgia and northeast Alabama in an effort to
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Craig Ford - Lottery must be used for Education Fund

Over the last year or so, the lottery has been getting more and more attention and support from state legislators. The lottery is extremely popular, getting over 60 percent favorable support in all the public opinion polls that I’ve seen. The debate these days isn’t so much over whether we should have a lottery, but
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Pious Bob - Willing to Love

St. Paul reminds us that following Christ is a journey: “Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-13). Paul says that because we do not know
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Craig Ford - Gov. Bentley dooms special session before it begins

Members of the Alabama Legislature were treated to a bit of déjà vu this week when we found out through the newspaper – and not directly from Gov. Robert Bentley – that the governor is planning to call the legislature back into a special legislative session within the next month or two. Last summer, Gov.
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Pious Bob - Moving Beyond Our Past to His Future

Paul understood his calling very quickly and very humbly: “For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:1-11). We
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Pious Bob - The Arrogance of Dust

St. Paul makes life so simple, but yet so hard: “…For I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty…I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:4-13). Can we believe this? “I can
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Craig Ford -House Speaker shouldn't be chosen behind closed doors

When former Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard was convicted on 12 felony counts of corruption, he was immediately removed from office. Now, the state House of Representatives must elect a new speaker. The state constitution requires legislators to hold a public vote to elect the next speaker, but the reality is that, unless there
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The Vagabond - Etowah County’s role during the Civil War: Part 1

This week The Vagabond starts a series about the Civil War written by historian Betty Sue McElroy several years ago as a presentation to the Etowah Historical Society. The Vagabond talked to Betty Sue this week about her article. It was agreed that it would be worth repeating to the readers. Our Backyard, Gadsden, Ala.,
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Pious Bob - A Cure for Stubbornness and Stiffness

Nehemiah said: “And you warned them in order to turn them back to your law. Yet they acted presumptuously and did not obey your commandments, but sinned against your ordinances, by the observance of which a person shall live. They turned a stubborn shoulder and stiffened their neck and would not obey. Many years you
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The Vagabond: Nichols and the Dwight Manufacturing Company

Recently at the Jerry B. Jones Library in the Elliott Community Center in Alabama City, a photo of Charlotte Peabody Kimball Nichols, mother of Howard Gardner Nichols, was found. Charlotte was born on April 24, 1839, in Bradford, Mass., and died on Aug. 4, 1908, in Newton, Mass. In 1870 she married John Howard Nichols.
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Pious Bob: The Jesus Saving Bank

Jesus instructs us about being prepared: “Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’ Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” (Matthew 25:1-13). The parable of the bridesmaids and their lamps as told by
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Craig Ford: Pride, not people, that Gov. Bentley knows

One of the most famous scriptures in the Bible says, “Pride goeth before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.” That scripture kept running through my mind this past week as Gov. Robert Bentley repeatedly claimed that he knows the people of Alabama “better than anyone” and that they are not interested in impeaching him. That
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Pious Bob: Breastplates, Helmets and Bright Shining Days

St. Paul commissions the spiritual battle gear for the faithful in saying: “But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord
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The Vagabond: History of Gadsden city officials, Part III

This week the Vagabond continues with naming all the known mayors and officials of Gadsden through 1968. 1920 Mayor Clyde Stevenson Mayor: Clyde Stevenson President of Council: W.P. Archer Aldermen: Edwin W. Pickard and R.D. Stanfield, First Ward; I.S. Johnson and Berry Malone, Second Ward; I.M. Bensinger and B. Caldwell, Third Ward; R.W. Camp and Carl Whorton,
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Craig Ford - Breaking the pattern of corruption in Alabama politics

We’ve all heard the famous saying, “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” It’s really more than just a saying; it’s a lesson from history that Alabama leaders have continued to repeat over and over again. The conviction of House Speaker Mike Hubbard, the suspension and pending hearing of Chief Justice Roy More and the
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The Vagabond - History of Gadsden city officials, Part II

This week The Vagabond continues with naming all the known mayors and officials of Gadsden. 1899 Mayor L.L. Herzberg Mayor: L.L. Herzberg. Aldermen: J.R. Hughes, First Ward; J.H. Holcomb; Louis M. Smith; Otto Agricola; W.H. Sutton. 1901 Mayor E. Blackwood Mayor: E. Blackwood. Aldermen: Robert L. Miller, First Ward); C.H. Ritch, Second Ward (resigned Oct., 1901, W.L.
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Pious Bob - Fruit-Bearing Sheep

Many times Jesus communicates a truth to us through a parable. In the Gospel of Matthew we hear: “And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these
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Craig Ford - Six Years Later And Still No Jobs

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. That also happens to be a pretty good description of our state leadership for the last six years. For six years, Alabama’s leaders have talked about “jobs, jobs, jobs” and bragged about how they’ve made
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The Vagabond - History of Gadsden city officials

Robert Kyle, First Mayor – 1867. Officials as of June 9, 1876: Mayor: J. H. Disque; Aldermen: J. S. Paden, W. C. Liddell, W. T. Golightly, Jesse Mayne and W. N. Meeks; Town Marshall: M. M. Hughes; and City Clerk: D. B. Hicks. Officials as of 1877 (Fiscal yr. March 1 to Feb. 28): Mayor:
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Pious Bob - He is the Resurrection and the Life

Resurrection is a hard thing to grasp for most of us. St. Paul had a tough time convincing people in his time. Resurrection is the cornerstone of our Christian Faith. Paul told the Corinthians: “Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn
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Larry Lee - Coincidence or Conspiracy in State Education?

Conspiracy is a strong word. Very, very strong. But coincidence seems way too meek and mild in this case. Especially when you consider that out-of-state billionaires are sending money to Alabama to buy seats in the state legislature. Somehow, “meek” and “billionaire” just don’t seem to belong in the same sentence. As one takes a
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Craig Ford - Do we honor our veterans?

As you celebrated Memorial Day this week, how did you take time to honor our veterans and, specifically, those who did not come back home alive? Our country officially recognizes two days out of the year, set aside in remembrance of those who have served our country. Veterans Day, celebrated in November, is in honor
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Pious Bob - Reflecting Heaven on Earth

While the Book of The Revelation to John can be awkward for many readers of the Bible, it can help us connect with the mystery of our Lord and God through metaphorical teachings. Just like in the words of the song, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” the description “fortress” is a metaphor communicating God’s
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The Vagabond - Gadsden's Old Commissioner Government

The Vagabond recently came across a rare document from the early 1930’s that is now at the Etowah Historical Society. Since the beginnings of the little town of Gadsden, there was different form of city government, what The Vagabond calls the pioneer form of governing, in which the mayor and other municipal officers was paid
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Craig Ford - Another missed opportunity to vote on lottery

Another legislative session has come and gone, and the Republican leadership in Montgomery has still not allowed the lottery or casino legislation to come up for a vote. Every year, the Republican leadership tells us that it needs more money to fund the budget, but it refuses to consider the most popular revenue-raising tool we
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Pious Bob - Trying Not To Be a Basket Case

In the Gospel according to Matthew, we hear Jesus commanding us to be in ministry with Him: “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:11-16). God is counting on us, but as soon as He
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Craig Ford - Expanding Pre-K is a step in the right direction

 These days, it’s easy to think nothing good ever comes out of our government, especially here in Alabama. But for all the bad you hear, there are a lot of great things going on in our state and in our public schools. A perfect example is Alabama’s pre-k program, which has just been named the
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Pious Bob - Seeking the Freedom of Faith

 St. Paul did a lot of convincing in the communities he ministered to. It’s hard for some to merge the old with the new without hanging on to the old. Here Paul says to the Galatians: “For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed
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Craig Ford - Alabama leadership has become a reverse Robin Hood

State leaders in Montgomery have become Robin Hoods - just not the kind that everyone remembers hearing about as a child. Instead of taking from the rich to help the poor, we’ve started taking from the poor to give to criminals. Alabama’s leadership has become nothing more than Robin Hood in reverse.

State leaders needs to refocus. Trying to

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The Vagabond - Sales of Gadsden first lots - Boomtown & Depressions

  Gadsden has had a few booms that helped to build the city to its present prosperous stage, although some of them appeared to have caused some damage when they collapsed.

When the town was laid off into city lots, there was a boom in real estate, which was rather interesting, at least.

One year after the first steamboat on

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Pious Bob - What kind of condition is your condition in?

St. Paul gave us some good advice in his letter to the Corinthians. He helps us today in removing the stumbling blocks in our seeking the Lord: “You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of human masters. In whatever condition you were called, brothers and sisters, there remain with God.” (1 Corinthians 7:10-24 NRSV).

God calls

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Statement from Rep. Craig Ford

  “Another session has come and gone without a vote on a state lottery. The legislature passed a teacher pay raise, only to have that raise taken away when the state’s PEEHIP Board hiked up their insurance rates. And we couldn’t find the money to fund Medicaid, but the governor did everything he could to put the taxpayers in an

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Pious Bob - Seeking Righteousness in Faith

  St. Paul fires out at us over the law of his time versus the relief Christ gives us in His suffering for us in saying: 

“For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the things written in the book

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The Vagabond - Gadsden almost became a ghost town… three times!

Back in February of 1868, Gadsden suffered its most disastrous fire up at that time when what was called the Masonic Lodge block was entirely destroyed, along with some of the main stores of the little town. The Masonic Lodge Block was on Broad Street between Third and Fifth streets.

The blaze was discovered at 12

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Craig Ford - Throwing money at prisons won’t solve problem

This week, the state House of Representatives will be taking up the massive prison bond legislation that Gov. Robert Bentley and state leaders have made the centerpiece of their legislative agenda.

There’s no doubt that our prison system has serious problems and, in cases like Tutwiler women’s prison, some are so old and in such bad shape that they

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The Vagabond - Local farmers became owners of “dead man”

  One of the funniest things to happen in Gadsden during the so-called “Gay Nineties” (1890’s) was the purchase of a “dead man” by four of the leading farmers of Etowah County.

The local farmers were taken in by one of the slickest swindles of the day, but could not do anything but grin and bear it.

Right in the

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Pious Bob - Reliving Resurrection

The resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is the anchor of our Christianity. Jesus wanted to be sure that His resurrection was real and not a hoax, so he planted some seeds. He did this after His human death: “But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my

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Craig Ford - The case for impeachment

I’m not a lawyer, but I believe it’s important for those of us calling for the governor’s impeachment to make our case to the public and the state legislature.

The first point being that the governor doesn’t have to break the law to be impeached. Impeachment is about whether he is fit to continue in office, regardless of whether

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Pious Bob - The Strategy of Refuge

  David moved from doing things his way to doing things God’s way. He says in Psalm 5: “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, so that those who love your name may exult in you. For you bless the righteous, O LORD; you cover them with

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The Vagabond - Smallest building in Gadsden

It is very unlikely that few if any Gadsden residents can locate where the smallest brick business house on Broad Street or, for that matter the smallest building in the city was located. 

Yet, it is right in the center of the downtown district.

The building was a one-story structure wedged in by what is today’s Gadsden Museum of Arts,

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Craig Ford - State leaders have lost benefit of the doubt

  Being in leadership comes with a lot of responsibilities. One of those responsibilities is the image of the place you represent. Gov. Robert Bentley and our state leaders are the image of Alabama. Now, thanks to them, we have a serious image problem.

In government, we have Democrats and Republicans. There are partisan issues, and that’s a good thing.

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Craig Ford - Sinner or Saint?

  This has been a disheartening week for the State of Alabama. The news of Gov. Robert Bentley’s relationship with Rebekah Caldwell Mason has embarrassed our state on a national level and become a distraction for the state legislature at a time when legislators need to be focused on solving the state’s problems.

Nobody rejoices in seeing another person’s downfall,

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The Vagabond - Power project at Noccalula Falls

  When there was much discussion of hydroelectric power over the country in the 1900’s, Gadsden was talking about the Coosa River as a potential asset in that direction, but there were other plans before the public. 

In this area there was much talk of harnessing Noccalula Falls for power, first by the old water wheel method and later by

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Pious Bob - The Joy of Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

 St. Paul speaks to the Thessalonians about crediting God for His Words: “We also constantly give thanks to God for this, that when you received the word of God that you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word but as what it really is, God’s Word, which is also at work in you believers.” (1 Thessalonians

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Craig Ford - Bentley’s actions costing Alabama jobs, jobs, jobs

  Since Gov. Robert Bentley’s relationship with Rebekah Mason became public last week, there have been calls for him to resign. Those calls have not come just because of his relationship with Rebekah Mason. Gov. Bentley isn’t the first person in Montgomery to do what he did and probably won’t be the last.

The reason Gov. Bentley should resign is

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Pious Bob - Working on the Railroad

The world is full of leaders in all aspects of life. In reading the Gospel according to Matthew, we hear just what our Lord’s explanation of leadership is:  “...but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came

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The Vagabond - 109 Years Ago Unveiling of the Emma Sansom Statue

 The Emma Sansom statue on Broad Street in Gadsden was dedicated back in 2007, and many locals celebrated the unveiling. 

This week The Vagabond once again has his nose stuck in the old history book. Sometime way back, Patsy Hanvey of Turkeytown and the late Hazel Oliver bought the dedication to my attention.

On July 4, 1907, a local

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The Vagabond - Ringling Brothers Circus first came to Gadsden in 1899

  The Ringling Brothers Circus made its first appearance in Gadsden on Nov. 8, 1899. The show had been in Birmingham and Anniston and left to Chattanooga and Huntsville. Everybody had heard of the great organization that was a rival of the Barnum & Bailey show, and equally as large and imposing.

Ringling Brothers Circus was founded in the United

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Pious Bob - Our Journey in Membership

Paul’s teaching time with the Corinthians using their own words: “’All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are beneficial.’All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be dominated by anything.” (1 Corinthians 6:12-20).

Paul quotes what some Corinthians had said, that “All things are lawful for me,” and warns them of the danger of

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Craig Ford - State employees deserve pay raises, too

Alabama’s state employees are the unsung heroes who keep our state running. But they also have been neglected and left out for far too long. If Gov. Robert Bentley can find a way to give his cabinet and staff members 80 percent pay raises, surely we can find a way to give our state employees four percent!

State employees

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Pious Bob - Joy in Giving Credit Where it is Due

 St. Paul reminds us concerning the origin of the word: “We also constantly give thanks to God for this, that when you received the word of God that you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word but as what it really is, God’s word, which is also at work in you believers.” (1 Thessalonians 2:9-13,17-20).

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The Vagabond - Stories of Blind Tigers in Etowah County

Last week The Vagabond met a young lady from Huntsville, Sarah Belanger, who is writing a book about Prohibition in Northeast Alabama. The Vagabond in the past wrote about the local Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) and the little fountain that was built at the corner of Broad and First streets in front of Gadsden City Hall. There were

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Craig Ford - Warning labels crucial on e-cigarette advertisements

  Did you know that seven out of 10 children under the age of 17 are exposed to advertisements for e-cigarettes?

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), in 2014 more than 18 million middle and high school aged children in the United States were exposed to ads for e-cigarettes. Experts expect the e-cigarette industry to grow to $50

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The Vagabond - The story of Ernest Tubb’s first Texas Troubadours From Gadsden to Nashville, Part II

  Charles Reese recently spoke to the Etowah Historical Society about his father, Vernon “Toby” Reese, a famous country star from Gadsden. Charles discussed many things about his father and shared some of the photos of him. Charles wrote a book about his father and donated one to the historical society’s library. Last week we shared some of what he

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Pious Bob - Taking Our Responsibility Seriously

 In Paul’s letter to the Romans we hear: “For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5:15b-19).

The bad news is that Adam ate the forbidden fruit. The good news is that Christ has brought abundant consumable fruit. A number of

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Craig Ford - Why Alabama should allow early voting

This week, voters across Alabama went to the polls to cast their ballots and make their voices heard. In November, we will do it all over again.

More than three million people are registered to vote in Alabama, and in the last presidential election, 73 percent of those people actually turned out to vote. This November, turnout could be

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Pious Bob - Becoming Recognizable

In the Gospel of Mark, we hear a man say something that many have a hard time saying today: “Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, ‘Truly this man was God’s Son!” (Mark 15:33-39).

On our last day will it be said of us that, “Truly this

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Craig Ford - It’s time to let the people vote

There is no better form of government than democracy. Our founding fathers gave their lives just so we could have the right to vote and the right to govern ourselves.

Democracy is fundamental to being an American. We all have the right to be heard in our government. And when it comes to the state of Alabama, it’s time

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The Vagabond - History of streetcars in the Gadsden area Part II

Last week the Vagabond discussed the early streetcars in the Gadsden area, the first ones being drawn by horse and later ones by steam locomotion dummies. We continue this week to the electrified streetcars. The story continues...

As stipulated, Captain Elliott had agreed to extend a line to Noccalula Falls on Lookout Mountain. In 1891, the Hollingsworth estate granted

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Pious Bob - Living the Promise

This portion of Psalm 91 meant much to me as I faced a hurdle in life: “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.” (Psalm 91:11-12).

This psalm impacted me in a time

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Craig Ford - U.S. Cong. Robert Aderholt has some explaining to do

When U.S. Congressman Robert Aderholt spoke to the local Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday (Feb. 17), he had a lot of explaining to do.

To start with, he should explain why anyone who wanted to hear his/her congressman speak had to pay $25 per person. We elected him; we shouldn’t have to pay just to have the opportunity to

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The Vagabond - History of streetcars in the Gadsden area Part II

Although a precise detailed history cannot be written about Gadsden’s street railway and steam dummy systems, the following tentative history has been pieced together.

Sometime during 1886, Col. R.B. Kyle and Herman Herzberg and their associates petitioned the Gadsden City Council to grant the Gadsden Land & Improvement Company a franchise to build a horse car street railroad in the

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Pious Bob - Decisions at the Fork in the Road

We hear in Psalm 50 how thanking the Lord and living right is all He wants: “Gather to me my faithful ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!...Those who bring thanksgiving as their sacrifice honor me; to those who go the right way I will show the salvation of God.” (Psalm 50)

Everything that we do should

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Craig Ford - When ideology becomes idolatry

There’s a fine line between standing up for your principles and political extremism. These days, unfortunately, political extremism seems to be the standard. There’s no clearer example of this than the reaction Alabama House Majority Leader Micky Hammon (R-Decatur) to House Democrats’ legislative agenda last week.

House Democrats’ agenda includes a lottery, an educator pay raise, warning labels on e-cigarettes

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Vagabond - Early interesting facts about Attalla and its railroad connection

Part II

The story of the naming of Attalla is often incorrect, and The Vagabond would like to tell the factual history on how Attalla was named and how the city was connected with the early railroad that went from Chattanooga, Tenn., to Meridian, Miss.

We continue the story…

An early employee of the railroad remembers that the

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Pious Bob - Don’t Be Careful Who You Pray For

We hear in the Gospel of Matthew: “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven...” (Matthew 5:43-48).

If anyone needs praying for, your enemies do. If we were in a right relationship with God, would we pray for harm to come

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Craig Ford - Instead of Super Prisons, let’s build Super Schools

During his State of the State Address Tuesday night, Gov. Robert Bentley laid out his four-year plan, which included spending up to $800 million to build four new super prisons. The next day, the governor announced that he wants to transfer $181 million out of the education budget and put it in the general fund budget, which also pays

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Pious Bob - Truth, Water and Blood

In 1 John we venture into our true relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit: “For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith. Who is it that conquers

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Craig Ford - Is Republican lottery bill just an attempt to kill the lottery?

There’s no doubt that momentum for the lottery is building in Alabama. A public opinion poll, paid for by the House and Senate Republican Caucuses, found that 62 percent of likely Republican Primary voters support the lottery, and 59 percent even support expanding gambling in Alabama.

These strong numbers show why two Republican state legislators, Rep. Alan Harper and

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The Vagabond - The Old Mineral Springs Hotel

This past week The Vagabond was on Lookout Mountain and recalled the old hotel that once stood overlooking the mountain.

There are a few of the old families who children remember their parent talking about the Mineral Springs Hotel. Many people who settled in this portion of Northeast Alabama in the early 1900’s recall that about the time the

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Pious Bob - Finding a Friend in Need

In the Acts of the Apostles we hear Jesus telling Paul: “Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent; for I am with you...” (Acts 18:1-11).

Paul was opposed and reviled in the synagogue in Corinth. He then went out to proclaim Jesus to the Gentiles in the surrounding area. The Lord spoke to Paul in

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Craig Ford - Proposed Merit Pay Bill has serious flaws

When the state legislature returns to Montgomery in two weeks, one of the top issues will be a cost-of-living pay raise for educators. Both parties agree that the money is there, and now is the time. But there are some major differences between what both parties are proposing.

House Democrats will propose a five-percent pay raise for all teachers,

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The Vagabond - History of the drinking water fountain on First & Broad streets in Gadsden

Have you ever wonder about the little marble water fountain on Broad Street near the Emma Sansom statue and in front of Gadsden City Hall? 

Recently on the Welcome to Gadsden Facebook page, a photo was shown of the old fountain and folks were asking about it. The Vagabond did research and found that the fountain had a very

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Pious Bob - Striving to be Effective and Fruitful

In 2-Peter we are reminded of challenges of life before us, and at the same time realize how difficult those challenges are for us: “For this very reason, you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness,
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Craig Ford - Alabamians want a lottery, but not a blank check lottery

As droves of Alabamians recently flooded into Tennessee, Georgia and Florida for a chance to win the $1.6 billion Powerball, it’s obvious the people of Alabama want to play the lottery.

People in 44 states, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands are all allowed to purchase lottery tickets. Alabama is one of just six

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Pious Bob - The Sound of Silence

The Bible seems to connect with everything in life. In Leviticus we hear: “You shall not revile the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind; you shall fear your God: I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:14).

A week and a half ago my cochlear implant was activated. While my hearing ability has been deteriorating for several years

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The Vagabond: A. Lloyd Wagnon: Listening is love in action

Former Gadsden-Etowah Tourism Board executive director Albert Lloyd Wagnon recently passed away. The Vagabond knew Lloyd for many years and often stopped by to see him at the tourism office. Lloyd was an inspiration to many as he was to The Vagabond. In his recent book Vapor Trails, he mentioned the Etowah Historical Society and what folks need to

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Craig Ford - A new year, a new opportunity to right a wrong

New Years is a time of reflection and resolutions, a time for changes and fixing mistakes. With the state’s next legislative session beginning in less than a month, there’s a resolution I would like our state leaders to make: fix the problems with the Accountability Act.

The Accountability Act was sold to us as a way to give children

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Pious Bob - Knowing What the World Needs Now

In the Acts of the Apostles we hear St. Paul speak to the Ephesian Elders: “But I do not count my life of any value to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the good news of God’s grace...remembering the words of the Lord Jesus,

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The Vagabond - In Memory of Hazel Louise Pierce Oliver

One of Gadsden’s finest Southern ladies passed away last Saturday (Dec. 26) at the age of 100. 

Until a few months ago, no one could keep up with Hazel Oliver because she stayed extremely active and involved in so many things.

Hazel’s mind was sharp as a tack, and she gave you an answer at a moments notice. She

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Craig Ford - Time to expand Pre-K in Alabama

Since 2008, education spending for K-12 in Alabama has gone down by more than 20 percent. Those cuts have been felt in every classroom in the state, from outdated textbooks and technology to larger class sizes.

But this year, the state has an opportunity to invest in education again instead of cutting it.

This year, the state of Alabama

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Pious Bob - The Gift Unopened

In 1 John we see our second chances: “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins

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Craig Ford - Remembering Christmas

What does Christmas mean to you? 

It’s a question that will probably get a different answer from every person you ask. Every family has their own traditions and customs that make Christmas unique to them.

Of course, certain things about Christmas are universal. For every Christian, Christmas is a time when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. He

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Pious Bob - Showing up to accept our prize

In 1 Peter we hear of God’s gift to us through Jesus: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in

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The Vagabond - History of the Noccalula Falls Christmas lighting

Attempts in the past for making the mountain a special place have come and gone. Back around the 1980s, local historian Joe Barnes met with many interested parties at the old Clayton’s Cafe on Noccalula Road to encourage improvements. A lot of dreams were shared. One of these dreams was to have an alpine village at Noccalula Falls and

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Craig Ford - We can’t have education without educators

One of the biggest problems we have in education right now is the shortage of teachers. This is true both nationally and in Alabama.

Today, fewer college students are enrolling in education courses. Eric Mackey, the executive director of the state superintendents association, recently told the Times Daily that there are about 40 to 45 percent fewer college students

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Pious Bob - Admitting to Knowing Him

In the Gospel according to Luke we hear this concerning Peter: “And he went out and wept bitterly.” (Luke 22:52-62).

Peter is destroyed as he realizes his denials, which Jesus had predicted. This was a low point in Peter’s life. He had committed everything to Jesus. He had gone the whole way of Christ’s ministry. Now, as Jesus is

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Craig Ford - Maybe Santa will bring us what Rep. Aderholt won’t

We are just a few weeks away from Christmas, and children across the state are heading to the mall or shopping center to sit on Santa’s lap and tell him what they want for Christmas.

I haven’t sat on Santa’s lap since I was a kid, but at this point Santa may be our best hope for finally getting

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Pious Bob - Spiritual Restructuring

In St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, he gives us some good food for thought:  “Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise;
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Craig Ford - Republicans should leave teachers’ retirement alone

It’s been a rough year for the powers that be in Montgomery.

There have been more than a few bad headlines this year, and we only avoided a government shutdown after three costly legislative sessions that led to an $80 million raid on public education and $86 million in new taxes.

The wheels clearly have come off the bus

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Pious Bob - The Waiting Game

In Psalm 62 we hear, “For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation.” (Psalm 62:1).

Are we willing to wait in silence for God? We are hyperactive and impatient when it comes to waiting on God. In our fast-pace world we need answers and solutions now! God doesn’t work that way. He’s more like your

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Craig Ford - Remembering our educators this Thanksgiving

In our house at Thanksgiving, our family likes to sit around the table and name the things we are thankful for in our life. Of course, everyone always names the big things like family, our freedom and so on. But the things that I’m most thankful for are the people in my life who have made a difference -

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Pious Bob - Living on Praise and Thanksgiving for Him

We hear about a positive way of connecting with the Lord in Psalm 100: “Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come into his presence with singing. Know that the LORD is God. It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of

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Craig Ford - Progress has been made, but more work needs to be done

Congratulations to Gov. Robert Bentley and Secretary of State John Merrill on their work to fully enact the “motor voter” law. It’s refreshing to see a news article about voting in Alabama that isn’t negative. And while it did take more than 20 years and the threat of a costly lawsuit, Alabama is finally moving toward compliance with the

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Pious Bob - Placing Our Confidence

We hear St. Paul say in Colossians: “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily and you have come to fullness in him, who is the

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Craig Ford - Appreciating our veterans on Veterans Day

November is a time to be thankful. Of course, we celebrate Thanksgiving later on in the month. But November is also the time when we celebrate Veterans Day and give thanks to all those who have served our country.

Veterans Day began as a day to remember those who served in World War I. That war ended at the

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Pious Bob - The Journey to the Spirit

In the Gospel of John we hear Jesus say, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:37-52)

St. John’s explanation of these words of Jesus is, “Now he said this about the

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The VagabondStrange happenings around Etowah County - Part V

The Vagabond has placed together several strange happenings in Etowah County. We have discussed such things as a Bigfoot roaming here locally and 12-foot giants found buried in Whorton’s Bend. The Vagabond actually has witnessed some of these strange happenings, including sightings of UFOs and aliens.

Earlier in the series we discussed Bigfoot sightings around the area. This week

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