Southern Cooking with Andy Bedwell

Hearty Chicken Vegetable Soup, Mexican Cornbread

On cold winter nights, this vegetable soup is a family favorite. January is the perfect month for soup and chili.

Hearty Chicken Vegetable Soup

3 boneless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (save the broth)

12 ounces frozen butter peas

12 ounces frozen crow-der peas

6 red Idaho potatoes, sliced

1 large onion, chopped

3 carrots, sliced

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Let the people vote

The two most important issues that the state of Alabama will be facing in 2014 are education and job creation. These two issues are usually tied together because education is so critical to getting a good job, as well as recruiting and growing business.

But education and job creation are also connected to two other important issues: gaming and a statewide

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Area Bits & Pieces

Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.” 

We may never know why God does what He does, because we cannot possibly fathom the depths of His love for us. How can we comprehend a love so grand, so giving? That He knows us, knows our thoughts, and loves us anyway.

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Very early settlers of Etowah County, part one of two

One of the largest families represented in early Etowah County was the Whitt family. The first of this name to come to the area was William Whitt, born in circa 1775, and his wife Feroba Middleton, born in 1786.

William’s father was Shadrack Whitt, born in 1741 and married to Mary Rogers. The couple lived in Virginia. Shadrack served with Washington’s

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Harsh words and regrets

He was the town's Otis, only this wasn't Mayberry and reality wasn't nearly as funny in that lighthearted way. 

All the warning he should have heeded, he did not. Instead, he tarried long at the wine glass, and every other glass, for that matter. He drank more than just enough for his stomach sake, even though drinking cost him in more

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Old Stone Fort, Tenn. and its connection with Gadsden

This week the Vagabond is in Manchester, Tenn., for Christmas to see family and decided to go by the Stone Fort Archaelogical Park.

Believe or not there is a connection between Stone Fort Archaelogical Park and a shelter hole on the side of the Noccalula Falls gorge wall.

This deep hole afforded protection from anyone. All a person had to do was

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The Birth Place of Joe Stone

Joe is now a resident of Gadsden, but he was born on December 24, 1936, in Goodwater, Ala. He was the youngest child of O.D. and Sarah Ollie Stone. He had 20 brothers and sisters.

His dad used to buy them shoes all at one time for 50 cents a pair. His dad was a farmer and plowed with a mule.

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The Reason for the Season

Christmas is a special time of year for so many reasons.

Most importantly, it is the time of year when we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He is truly the reason for the season, and every day I am grateful for the miracle of His birth and the salvation that He has given us.

Christmas is also

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The Accountability Act continues to fail

What would you do if you had $40 million to spend on education? Would you spend it on classroom supplies like textbooks and computers? Would you improve school security by hiring resource officers? Would you invest in academic programs like the Alabama Math, Science Technology Initiative (AMSTI), the Alabama Reading Initiative or the state’s pre-k program?

This year, every public school

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The “U” in Jesus

Before U were thought of or time had begun, 

God even stuck U in the name of His Son. 

And each time U pray, you’ll see it’s true 

You can’t spell out JesUs and not include U. 

You’re a pretty big part of His wonderful name, 

For U, He was born; that’s why He came. 

And His great love for U is the reason He died. 


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The gifts of Christmas

I can vividly recall standing by my mother's chair as my sister sat in her lap and she read a letter to us from our father.

We were at that age where the concept of long distance was tough to comprehend.

Dad was away as were many young men fighting a war. I knew he was away but that didn't stop me

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Keeping Gov. Bentley’s promise for a vote on a statewide lottery

with State Rep. Craig Ford I have always believed in letting the people of Alabama decide the fate of gambling and whether we should have a state lottery to help fund education. You can never go wrong when you trust the voters and let the people settle these kinds of issues. And though we sometimes
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An Old Proverb

There’s an old Chinese proverb, that, if practiced each day, Would change the whole world in a wonderful way— Its truth is so simple, it’s so easy to do, And it works every time and successfully, too— For you can’t do a kindness without a reward, Not in silver nor gold but in joy from
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Gadsden: the original City of Champions - with copyright

Gadsden has been known as the City of Champions for many years. But do you know that other cities also share the name? The only different is that Gadsden was the first to have it trademarked. Some of the others are: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada: so named for the city’s response to the tornado of July
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Trusting one another

Recently, an organization named General Social Survey (GSS) released information pertaining to a national poll revealing a change in our societal interaction in America. The GSS mission is defined in the following statement: “The General Social Survey (GSS) conducts basic scientific research on the structure and development of American society with a data-collection program designed
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Area Bits & Pieces

The friend who holds your hand and says the wrong thing is made of dearer stuff than the one who stays away.

Probably no man ever had a friend that he did not dislike a little. 

I value the friend who for me finds time on his calendar, but I cherish the friend who for me

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Getting Alabama’s economy off life support

Next year is an election year, and one of the topics you will hear the most about is jobs.

You don’t have to be a politician or a pollster to know that jobs are the number one issue on most voters’ minds - and with good reason!

For the past five years, our economy has been limping along, struggling to create jobs.

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History of Noccalula’s Christmas Lighting

In 2007, the City of Gadsden took over the Noccalula Falls Christmas lighting. The work for the last few years has been very impressive and city employees under Parks and Recreation Director Kerry Payne have done outstanding work.

Attempts in the past for making the mountain a special place have come and gone. Back in the 1980s, local historian Joe Barnes

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Valuable lessons from children

I started a new book, titled, "Lessons My Children Taught Me About God." Some may think that's an odd title but it isn't to me.

I don't know if it is like that for everyone but I can rarely say, do, or think, anything without the concluding thought of God's mercy, forgiveness, and acceptance of me.

This makes every correction one of

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Historical items in downtown Gadsden

  The Vagabond is back with two little-known historical items of national interest in downtown Gadsden.

The old Post Office building, now known as the Federal Building, is located at the southwest corner of Broad and Sixth streets. The building was designed by a famous national architect and contains a very rare work of art by a national painter.


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Pondering life with Pious Bob

Another Thanksgiving has come and gone, but shouldn’t we continue to be thankful for the blessings of this life?  We say there are lots of things in life that we’re not thankful for, but should that stop us from being thankful?  I once worked for a man who had a saying something like this: ‘Work is being in a

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The instructional value of sorrow

I recently attended the Super Bowl football game played by the Etowah Blue Devils. Rocky plays for them and Rocky is one of the kids I mentor.

I was there along with Rocky's parents and grandparents to support him and his team.

It was a hard-fought game, and in the end, Eto-wah won by a score of 6-0.


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A time to be thankful

One of my favorite holidays is Thanksgiving. I love it for many reasons.

It’s a time of year to be with family, and of course, there is always so much good food. But I also love Thanksgiving because I think it is important that we take some time out of the year to think about all the blessings that

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The 2014 legislative session should not be wasted

In two months, the state legislature will reconvene for the final time before the next election cycle. State leaders have announced that this session will move faster than normal. 

That is to be expected in an election year. Legislators want to finish business before the primary elections get underway.

A faster legislative session is also good for the taxpayers. The fewer trips

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The Beatitudes for the friends of the older folks

Blessed are the who understand

My faltered step and palsied hand.

Blessed are they who know today

It’s a strain to catch the things they say.

Blessed are they who seem to know 

That my eyes are dim and my wits are slow.

Blessed are they with a cheery smiles

Who stop and chat for a little while.

Blessed are they who never say 

You’ve told me that story

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The Green Valley Cave and old Charlie Cline

Last week, an article was written in this space about a cave and silver mine located in the Country Club Hills area in Gadsden. The Vagabond recently got to thinking about the nearby Green Valley Cave. Also known as Indian Springs Cave, the cave is part of several caves found along the mountains running pa-rallel to the Etowah/Calhoun County line

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Of rainy motorcycle rides and Sonsets

Behind me the sky was becoming dark and ominous. I set my face as a flint and refused to look back. 

Instead, I rode ahead with my head bowed just beneath the windshield. Some of the cold raindrops found my face, and many more found my hand.

The drops stung a little as they announced their arrival. Cars passed me by, and

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Recognizing the costs of freedom

We are very good in this country of remembering our veterans and celebrating our freedom.

Every year, we devote three holidays to our country and those who have served in the military: Veterans Day, Memorial Day and Independence Day.

As a veteran, I am proud and grateful that our country honors it’s veterans. But sometimes I wonder if our country truly understands

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Friendship is love, without His wings

We are the captains of our own ships sailing the sea of life, but in times of stormy weather, you will discover true friends when they don’t hesitate to be a lighthouse.

But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life, and thanks to a benevolent agreement, the greater part of life is sunshine.

A good

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Silver mine in the Country Club Hills area

When many people think of the natural beauty of Alabama, their minds’ eye imagines beautiful verdant forests, rivers and lakes teeming with wildlife, or perhaps a favorite white-sanded beach. However, Alabama has another tremendous natural resource - the world underground with its caves and karst systems. Karst refers to a landscape pockmarked with sinkholes, caves and underground streams.

Alabama has one

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Giving honor to those who have served

I was waiting with my friends to tee off on the first hole at Will's Creek golf course. There was a twosome ahead of us.

When one of the men turned to face me, I noticed his cap. It had symbols and markings on it that indicated that he was a veteran. I stopped him and shook his hand and thanked

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Creating jobs starts with supporting our schools

Over the past five years, Medicaid enrollment in our state has increased more than 20 percent, while at the same time the number of Alabamians on food stamps has increased over 61 percent. This means that the jobs we are creating do not come with health benefits or pay enough to feed a family.

Over the course of that same five

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Fond memories of Granny

Many of us share precious memories of our grandparents and the many things we’ve done with them.

The Vagabond has been blessed in so many ways growing up with his Granny.

Granny was a part of the old ways. She lived a very simple life in middle Tennessee.

She was a tough old lady and lived to be nearly 100 years old. She

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A friend is one of the nicest things you can have and one of the best things you can be.

Friendship isn’t a big thing—it’s a million little things.

A single rose can be my garden—a single friend, my world.

Only your real friends will tell you when your face is dirty.

The antidote for fifty enemies is one friend.

A loyal friend laughs at

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Fathers needed for children to succeed

"Uncle David, can I come and live with you?" He calls me uncle and sometimes he calls me coach although in actuality I am neither. Every now and then he will call and want to spend the night. When he leaves I know he is full, rested, and has had some fun. It is the least I could do. It

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Some people go to priests; others to poetry; I to my friends.

There are big ships and small ships. But the best ship of all is friendship.

The best kind of friend is the one you could sit on a porch with, never saying a word, and walk away feeling like that was the best conversation you’ve had.

I like friends who, when

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How we can create jobs again

Without a doubt, the biggest issue our state is facing is creating jobs and getting our economy back on track.

Recent reports show that our statewide unemployment rate is at 6.3 percent, which represents more than 134,000 Alabamians who can’t find a job.

We have seen thousands of jobs leave the state, while the jobs that we have been creating do not

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Street Cars in the City of Gadsden

On Aug. 8, 1889, Obal Christopher, J. S. Stewart and T. W. Gilmore of Attalla filed incorporation papers for the Alabama Street Car Company with an authorized capitalization of $25,000.

On the same date, the Attalla Board of Aldermen granted the company the right to lay its tracks through the streets.

The plan was to connect with the steam dummy’s line that

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Just keep swimming; quitting should never be an option

When they pulled her body from the waters she looked like someone who had indeed battled the cold chopping waters of the English Channel.

She didn't know how long she had been swimming but her coach knew and it was he would who threw in the towel.

Fearing she had taken in too much salt water he ordered her swimming companion to

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Accountability Act hurting Republicans in state legislature

Ever since it was passed, the Accountability Act has been controversial and politically damaging for those who supported it. The most recent and obvious example of this was the recent special election in Montgomery.

Two weeks ago, a special election was held in Montgomery to fill a state House of Representatives seat left vacant after former Rep. Jay Love resigned to

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Just a little boy

He stands at the plate with his heart pounding fast; the bases are loaded; the die has been cast, mom and dad cannot help him, he stands alone.

A hit at this moment would send the team home.

The ball near the plate; he swings and he misses, there a groan from the crowd with some boo’s and some hisses.


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Lend a hand, change a life

As you enter the RSA building from the art gallery side on Madison Avenue in downtown Montgomery, you will notice a sculpture. At least I have noticed it time after time. It is a sculpture of turtles doing what I believe turtles cannot do - reaching heights that are far beyond them.

Each time I walk by that sculpture, I think

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A Haunted Organ in Gadsden: Psychic phenomenon…real or not?

The supernatural is defined as things that defy scientific explanation, such as ghosts, ghouls, goblins, wizards, druids and Stonehenge.

What we can touch, and feel is much more real to us, as humans, but what of the physical apparitions? Are they any less a reality?

So many of us, as physically unimpaired humans, rely so stringently upon the basic senses. Yet, what

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Another unnecessary waste of taxpayer money

One of the most sacred things a person can trust you with is his/her money. For elected officials, this is the most important responsibility we hold. We have a duty to make sure that we are careful stewards of the taxpayers money, and that we spend your tax dollars as wisely and efficiently as possible.

But for too many politicians, this

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Alphabet Prayer

 A… Almighty God
 B… Bless my family and me
 C… Comfort me
 D… Draw me to You in prayer
 E… Enlighten me
 F… Forgive my sins
 G… Give me a few good friends
 H… Help me to do Your will
 I… I am Your servant
 J… Joyful are my days
 K… Keep me from harm
 L… Lead me to still waters
 M… Make me a vessel of Your love
 N… Nature is Your

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Happenings: Things that move and make noise

Halloween is coming up and the Vagabond thought he would share some happenings posted on the Facebook group “Welcome to Haunted Etowah County.”    It is located on the Internet at:

Submitted by Shelia Freeman:

I will share with you some things that have happened in our family/homes. I live in a home that was built in 1939. I moved here about

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Worldly possessions do not a man make

When he entered the house, he was surprised to find his young bride sitting at the kitchen table crying.

Before asking her why, he ran a quick inventory of his recent actions, just to check if he had done anything to contribute to her sadness.

Once he was convinced that he had not he asked, “Why are you crying? What’s

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How you can help make a difference in the fight against breast cancer

 Normally, I write my editorials about political issues facing our state is facing. But sometimes it is better to use my position as an elected official to help raise awareness for worthy causes that aren’t political but need our support.
    As you may be aware, October is national Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This is a time when we help raise

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Tough love teaches life lessons

I sat on the steps of my front porch talking to my pastor. Behind us, my son D.J. (who was a toddler at the time) was trying to open the screen door.
    I pretended not to notice, because I wanted to see how resourceful D.J. would be. Apparently having a harder time watching my son struggle, my pastor got

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The Kyle Opera House

 Robert Benjamin Kyle, businessman, was born May 24, 1826, at Leakesville, Rockingham County, N.C.
    In 1845, Kyle was engaged as clerk in the dry goods store of J&J Kyle, and in 1846 was taken into co-partnership.
    He sold his interest in that business in 1850 and entered the wholesale grocery business under the firm name of Grimes, Kyle and Thornton.

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Area Bits and Pieces

 A few years ago a group of salesmen went to a regional sales convention in Chicago. They had assured their wives that they would be home in plenty of time for Friday night’s dinner.
    In their rush, with tickets and briefcases, one of these salesmen inadvertently kicked over a table that held a display of baskets of apples. Apples flew

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Elected officials should pay for special elections when they resign

It’s not often that Sen. Del Marsh and I agree on political issues (take the Accountability Act, for example). But there is one issue that he and I strongly agree on, and that is the need to stop the revolving door that has become elected office.
    Since the 2010 elections, there have been 10 elected officials who have resigned. Some

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This rod will not be spared

 There are moments in life when one feels truly free. One such moment is when you are a newly-licensed teenager behind the wheel of your first car.
    That’s what Jason was feeling as he drove his new Mustang home from school. It has been said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Jason got the power part but not so

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Area Bits & Pieces

 Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.”
    We may never know why God does what He does, because we cannot possibly fathom the depths of His love for us. How can we comprehend a love so grand, so giving? That He knows us, knows our thoughts, and loves

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Which Indian tribes resided in Etowah County?

 For several years, the Vagabond has been asked where was the Cherokee tribe and the Creek tribe in Etowah County.
    On top of that, it is heard all the times that the Creek tribe held the area south of Wills and Line Creeks. This area would include the area south of Gadsden and Attalla.
    It is amazing that there has

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Raising rates the same as raising taxes


That is the only word to describe the state’s decision this week to raise insurance premiums on state employees instead of choosing to tap into the board’s reserves for next year.

It would be one thing if this were a small increase or if there were no other options. But this is not a small increase we are talking about.

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Alabama Power Company’s Gadsden Steam Plant 100th Anniversary - Final

For the last few weeks the Messenger and the Vagabond have been doing a partnership with Alabama Power Company for the 100th anniversary of the Gadsden steam plant. The Vagabond contacted Alabama’s famous historian, Leah Rawls Atkins, for her expert information. Leah wrote a very thick book on Alabama Power Company a few years ago  called Developed for the Service

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Area Bits & Pieces

 My appetite is my
I always want.
It maketh me to sit down and stuff myself.
It leadeth me to my refrigerator repeatedly.
It leadeth me in the path of Burger King for a
It destroyeth my shape.
Yea though I knoweth I gaineth,
I will not stop eating.
For the food tasteth so good.
The ice cream and
cookies, they comfort me.
When the table is spread
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Of indifferent lay-ups and personal responsibility

I was standing on the basketball court talking to my son. On this occasion, we did not have the gym to ourselves as we sometimes do. Instead, I was trying to teach another lesson about life.

In mid-sentence, my son turned and took a lazy layup. I called out to him with a little more force and a bit more

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Holding the Republican Supermajority accountable on the Accountability Act

When the Republican Supermajority in Montgomery rammed the Accountability Act through the legislature, it did so without any idea as to how much it would cost.

So when the supermajority wrote the education budget, it took a guess and set aside $40 million of your tax dollars (just for this year) to pay for tax credits to send kids in certain

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Alabama Power Company’s Gadsden Steam Plant 100th anniverary - Part 3

For the next few weeks the Messenger and the Vagabond will be doing a partnership with Alabama Power Company for the 100th anniversary of the Gadsden steam plant.

The Vagabond has contacted Alabama’s famous historian, Leah Rawls Atkins, for her expert information.

Leah wrote a very thick book on Alabama Power Company a few years ago  called Developed for the Service of

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Memories of Music

Submitted by Cindy Putnam Smith

My childhood revolved around church and music. Memories of Sunday school, Sunday morning and night, Thursday night prayer meeting, and especially those fourth Saturday night monthly singings. What a great time we had. My Singing Chairman daddy had groups “booked” months ahead and a crowd always filled the church.

We were a singing family. My parents

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It’s time to man up

As he exited the building and stepped into the warm sunlight, he couldn’t help but acknowledge the beautiful day. He looked around the neighborhood. From the sights and sounds of children playing, he knew he wasn’t alone in his appreciation.

He walked down to the sidewalk to get the day’s paper, careful not to interrupt their games. Some waved at

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Not supporting Medicaid a disservice to taxpayers

One of the signs that our economy is still struggling to recover is the fact that over the past five years, Medicaid enrollment in Alabama has increased more than 20 percent. It means that more and more Alabamians are struggling to meet their basic needs.

Last year, 52 percent of the babies born in Alabama were born under care paid for

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Alabama Power Company’s Gadsden Steam Plant 100th anniversary, Part 2

For the next few weeks, the Messenger and The Vagabond are partnering with Alabama Power Company for the 100th anniversary of the Gadsden steam plant. The Vagabond has contacted Alabama’s famous historian, Leah Rawls Atkins, for her expert information. Leah wrote a comprehensive book on Alabama Power Company a few years ago called Developed for the Service of Alabama - the

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What God is Like

    God is like a home - you live in Him.
    God is like a good pair of binoculars - He sees everything.
    God is like vegetables - He’s good for you!
    God is like rechargeable batteries - He’s always ready!
    God is like a hearing aid - You can’t see Him, but you know He’s listening.
    God is

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Dream may be deferred, but can still be fulfilled

I recently was helping a young man with a homework assignment.

His teacher had assigned the class the project of analyzing a recent poll that was taken and published regarding the status of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “I Have a Dream” speech.

The students were asked to compare and contrast the student body poll with the adult published poll.

The question

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How we can climb out of the recession

 This week we celebrated Labor Day, a time to recognize and honor the contributions made by working and middle class families to our nation’s economy.
    But for many families, Labor Day is just a reminder that they are unemployed or cannot find a job that comes with quality pay and benefits.
    Job creation and economic growth are among the most

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Life lessons from the gridiron

 It would be an understatement to say we love our football here in the south.
    I have friends who actually count down the days until the first kickoff.
    Just the other day, I was standing on the 13th green when Todd randomly called out a number.
    I was confused because it didn’t sound like a number that reflected his score

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Alabama Power Company’s Gadsden Steam Plant 100-year anniverary, Part 1

For the next few weeks the Messenger and The Vagabond will partner with the Alabama Power Company for the 100th anniversary of the company’s Gadsden steam plant.
    The Vagabond contacted Alabama’s famous historian, Leah Rawls Atkins, for her expert information.
    Leah wrote a very thick book on Alabama Power Company a few years ago called Developed for the Service of

Read More

Area Bits & Pieces

 I got a call from my longtime best friend to meet her at Hardee’s—our regular meeting place—then shop the rest of the day. She decided she wanted some tomatoes.
    We picked up her grandson, 4-year-old Luke. So to Chandler Mt. we went, and I believe that Luke was the smartest young boy I have ever been around.
    He talked all

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Is the Accountability Act helping our children?

As the new school year has begun, the Accountability Act has once again made its way into the headlines of newspapers across Alabama.

The Accountability Act was sold to the public as giving families with children “trapped in a failing school” the opportunity to claim a $3,500 tax credit to send their children to a better-performing private school.

Federal law already allowed

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A Deck of Cards

During the war a group of soldiers arrived at a small village in France after a long march. The chaplain read a prayer and asked all the men who had Bibles to open them. One of the soldiers brought out a deck of cards. He was arrested and taken to the commanding officer.

“Sir” he said. “I have neither Bible nor

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Ferries on the Coosa River

The Vagabond remembers driving over the old Hokes Bluff Ferry years ago and got to thinking about the different ferries that used to operate in Etowah County.

The first ferryboat operated across the Coosa River in Gadsden was known as Walker Ferry, later known as the Ewing Ferry.

The landing was on the west bank of the river at the

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Be aware of the price of flowers

I recently took my family to visit my mother in Union City, Tenn. During our many visits with her, it wasn’t uncommon for Mom to have a list of things she wanted done.

During this particular visit, one of those things on her to-do list was yard work. I tackled the mowing while my dad handled the flowerbed. I like

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Doing what’s best for our children’s education

Education should not be a partisan issue. We should always do what is in our children’s best interests.

I believe strongly in working with the business community to develop curriculums that prepare our children not just for a college education, but also for entering the workforce.

Last week’s announcement of the new Business Education Alliance (BEA) brings this idea to the center

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Early baseball in Gadsden

The Vagabond is a member and administrator of the Facebook group, “Welcome to Gadsden.” The group has over 4,000 members and anyone is able to join.

The page includes several historical postings each day. 

If you are a Facebook member, you can find it at

Recently, group member Robert Elton submitted the following post:

“[This is] From my old school buddy,

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Center of Hope

I stopped by the Center of Hope the other day and as I was getting ready to leave, I notice seven of the young ladies had grouped together and begun praying. I just stopped in my steps and listened to them and prayed along with them. They told me they pray every hour.

They told me that they go through discipleship

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Some scars aren’t visible

I walked into the gym and made my way through the crowd to the upper deck. I chose the last row, far away from the crowd. I don’t know why I do this, but I do. My wife believes I don’t like people, but that’s not true. I think it has more to do with being comfortable alone. I like

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Time to invest in public education and stop punishing educators

I have always been a believer in the value of education. And that is why I have always fought to protect our public schools and to fund them to the level that our children deserve.

But over the past three years, state leaders in Montgomery have done a very poor job of supporting our schools. And - for no other reason

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Keep Your Fork... The Best Is Yet To Come!

There was a woman who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and had been given three months to live. As she was getting her things “in order,” she contacted her pastor and had him come to her house to discuss certain aspects of her final wishes. She told him which songs she wanted sung at the service, what scriptures

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Etowah County’s first courthouse

This week the Vagabond will venture around some history books and talk about the first courthouse in Etowah County. Many people have told me that they remember the courthouse that existed through 1950. Some folks even have argued that it was the first courthouse built for the county, but little do they know!

Back when the Vagabond was attending high school,

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Know God, know peace; no God, no peace

I try to live my life so that everyday is a holiday and every meal is a feast. Perhaps those are unrealistic expectations, but I like aiming high and missing instead of aiming low and hitting.

When I taught, I would greet my peers by lifting my hot chocolate cup and saying, “Top of the day to you!” I knew

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Alabama needs leaders who will be your representative to government, not the government’s representative to you

When I was growing up, one of the most important lessons my parents taught me was to always remember who got me to where I am. Like that old saying goes, “you dance with the one that brung ya.”

As a state representative, I have tried my best to be true to that principle. So when I vote in the state

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There’s nothing
whatsoever the matter with me.
I’m just as healthy as I can be.
I have arthritis in both my knees.
And when I talk, I talk with a wheeze.
My pulse is weak, my blood is thin,
But I’m awfully well for the shape I’m in.

All my teeth have had to come out,
And my diet I hate to think about.
I’m overweight and I

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Gadsden’s Tunnel Block

This week the Vagabond visits the greatest eyesore Gadsden ever had.

Called the “Tunnel Block,” the area consisted of a group of about six or eight frame storehouses built over a creek on the north side of Broad Street between Fifth and Sixth streets. This was way back in the 1870’s and 1880’s.

A young friend of the Vagabond recently told

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High IQ not required

I had recently sold my insurance company and returned to the classroom, and it was the first day of school back as a teacher.

I stood in the office as a lady who I didn’t know threaten me regarding actions she could - and would - take in the event things didn’t go her way with one of my students.


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Clayton, and God’s subtle gifts

Normally, one would find Clayton outside working around Will’s Creek Golf Course, but not this morning.

When I entered the clubhouse, I noticed Clayton sitting behind the counter. We greeted each other as is our routine. I noticed that his work clothes had been replaced by slacks and a polo shirt.

I asked him about the weather. This wasn’t your regular small

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Along the lower Black Creek Trail

This week the Vagabond goes down the Black Creek for an adventure. The sites he passes by include the old Clayton’s gristmill, coal mines and nearby Sulphur Springs. These locations can be reached by the new Black Creek Trail that extends from the back of the Noccalula Falls campground to the Tuscaloosa Avenue/Black Creek Bridge near the Etowah County Rescue

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Morning Prayer

Dear Lord,
clear my mind
As I kneel before you:
Help me seek you in all that I do.
Help me know where
you’re leading today:
Help me follow each step of the way.
I pray not for riches nor worldly fame,
I just ask for strength
to lift up your name.
If a friend has a need
or a burden to bear,
Help me to be there
to show that

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Bi-partisan support for education reform begins with AMSTI

I was very glad to see Gov. Bentley come out this week in support of the Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative, more commonly known as the AMSTI program.

This program is something that Democrats have long been in support of, and I am glad to see Gov. Bentley and other Republicans joining with us Democrats in supporting AMSTI.

It is obvious

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Area Bits and Pieces- Front Porch Memories

 By Cindy Putnam Smith

Much of our growing-up days centered around the front porch. Mama made sure it was swept clean every morning. Days as a child were spent there playing dolls, jack stones or marbles. Making mud pies in the dirt next to the porch, resting there with dirty feet after a long bike ride. Playing church, as we would

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Company 167 Infantry, Gadsden Part Four

This week the Vagabond continues a little-known history of the local Gadsden Alabama 167th Infantry known as the Rainbow Division, a unit that Rainbow Drive and Rainbow City were named after.

Robert Elton, Carey Forrest “Bill” Elton’s son, donated a yearbook and the crest of the 1938 Alabama 167th Infantry to the Etowah Historical Society.

Next week a new Vagabond

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God leads, guides and directs us

My friend Melvin had to track down his high school records to start the process for his Social Security. Somehow over the course of a lifetime his name was misspelled on various important documents. For most of his life, other then the occasional mix-up, this didn’t present a big problem. After all, Melvin knew who he was, and as Shakespeare
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Spiritual, physical reflections differ

As a rule, I never place anything on top of my Bibles.

I don’t believe I was ever told or taught not to do this, but for some reason I just don’t.

I believe my reason may be my small way of reverencing God’s word.

But the other day while cleaning, I inadvertently for just a moment placed a compact mirror on top

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1938 Co. 167 Infantry, Gadsden Part three

This week the Vagabond continues a little-known history of the local Gadsden Alabama 167th Infantry. Known as the Rainbow Division, it was the unit that Rainbow Drive and Rainbow City were named after.

Robert Elton, Carey Forrest “Bill” Elton’s son, recently donated to the Etowah Historical Society a yearbook about the Alabama 167th Infantry during 1938. We will be showing this

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Why we must inspire our children to public service

Earlier this month, a new Gallop poll was released showing that sixty-four percent of Americans do not want their children to pursue a career in politics.

While I understand why Americans feel this way, I am also deeply disappointed by the results of the poll.

Certainly, politics has earned a bad reputation. There’s no shortage of stories about corrupt politicians

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The price of this man’s cow

This fellow was going to buy a cow, so he got to thinking, when you buy a cow, about all the add-ons to a $500 cow.
    A two-tone exterior- $45
    Extra stomach - $75
    Dual horns - $15
    Straw chopper - $120
    Fertilizer attachment - $185
    The storing compartment - $60
    Four spigots at $10 each - $40
    Cowhide upholstery

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Carey Forrest “Bill” Elton Part Two

This week the Vagabond continues a little-known history of the local Alabama 167th Infantry known as the Rainbow Division, a unit that Rainbow Drive and Rainbow City were named after.

Robert Elton, Carey Forrest “Bill” Elton’s son, donated a yearbook about the Alabama 167th Infantry during 1938 to the Etowah Historical Society. We will be showing this yearbook and more about

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What makes America great

Last week, in recognition of Independence Day, I wrote about freedom and democracy and how these are both a right and a privilege. Freedom and democracy are what makes this country great. They are the reason that people are willing to risk their lives to come to this country.

But freedom and democracy are not the only the reasons why this

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