Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
Fishing buddy Todd Kercher posted a video last weekend that many feel
justifies the significant extension of the red snapper season for private
recreational anglers in federal waters.
Todd took his family out in the Gulf of Mexico to catch a limit of
snapper, two per person with a 16-inch minimum. What he captured on video
was what many snapper anglers have been screaming for the past few years.
As Todd tells one family member that they have a limit in the boat, they
start throwing the leftover bait into the water.
A red snapper feeding frenzy ensued with 10- to 15-pound red snapper
attacking the bait with such fervor that they were coming completely out of
the water, skying as Todd called it.
The reason Todd and his family were able to enjoy the phenomenal red
snapper fishing was the result of a unified effort by a diverse group that
included the affected anglers, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, Alabama Congressmen,
city councils and mayors in Gulf Coast communities and the Alabama
Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR).
When NOAA Fisheries announced earlier this year that the private
recreational sector would only get a three-day season, the above groups were
disgusted to the point of anger.
A little more than a month ago, the groups began to come together to
encourage the U.S. Department of Commerce, which oversees NOAA (National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and subsequently NOAA Fisheries, to
reconsider the season in federal waters.
Those efforts paid off last week when NOAA Fisheries and the Gulf states
reached an agreement that if the states forego snapper seasons in state
waters out to the 9-mile boundary Mondays through Thursdays, the federal
private recreational season would be extended from three days for an
additional 39 days. The season is set for each Friday, Saturday and Sunday
through Labor Day and includes July 3-4 and Labor Day. The
charter-for-hire’s 49-day season, which runs through July 19, and the
commercial sector’s IFQ (Individual Fishing Quota) system are not affected.
Chris Blankenship, who has gone from Alabama Marine Resources Director to
DCNR Deputy Commissioner to Acting DCNR Commissioner this year, said the
negotiations have been in progress for much longer than a month.
“We started trying to work with the new administration not long after
(Commerce) Secretary (Wilbur) Ross was appointed,” Blankenship said. “That
has been very beneficial. Congressman (Bradley) Byrne also lined up the help
from other Gulf Coast Representatives, like Steve Scalise and Garrett Graves
from Louisiana, Matt Gaetz from Florida and Steve Palazzo from Mississippi.
They met with the Secretary’s staff to urge them to extend the red snapper
“Then Governor Ivey sent a letter to the White House and actually talked
to President Trump about red snapper while she was in Washington for a
meeting about infrastructure. Then we had resolutions from Orange Beach,
Dauphin Island and the Baldwin County Commission, along with a letter from
Senator (Luther) Strange. It was a very concerted effort to get this extra
Blankenship believes the main reason the Commerce Department responded to
the requests of such a diverse group was the unified message.
“We were all asking for the same thing,” he said. “We wanted weekends,
the Fourth of July and Labor Day. All the resolutions and letters were very
similar. I think having that good community effort and single message helped
this to be a success.”
Orange Beach City Councilman Jeff Boyd echoed Blankenship’s assessment of
“I think this is the greatest indication that the average voice was
heard,” Boyd said of the extension. “It was heard all the way to the White
House and Department of Commerce across many states. It showed that a team
effort can absolutely be successful.
“Congressman Byrne was just by here, and we were talking about the work
done by Chris Blankenship, Governor Ivey, Senator Strange’s letter and
Senator (Richard) Shelby in the budget hearings. With that, we were able to
gain enough momentum and energy to make it happen. I think it was
Boyd’s constituency includes a great number of private recreational
fishermen and one of the largest charter fleets on the Gulf Coast. He said
some are extremely happy and some apprehensive.
“From the private rec guys, there’s nothing but ecstatic excitement,”
Boyd said. “From the charter guys, they’re worried about what it might do to
them next year.”
Boyd said Blankenship was a crucial coordinator to make the snapper
season extension a reality.
“Chris can’t get enough kudos,” Boyd said. “He’s the quiet hero who
brought other state commissioners to the table. It’s hard enough to get a
family to agree on anything, much less four different commissioners from
four other states with different agendas.”
Blankenship said negotiations for the extension included several options
including Saturday and Sunday, plus the holidays, but the addition of
Fridays to the season prevailed.
“In order to get Fridays, the five states had to agree that they would
not open a season in the fall,” Blankenship said. “Alabama and Florida felt
it was more important to get the 39 days and not have a fall season.
Mississippi and Louisiana agreed to do the same thing. Texas catches a very
small percentage, ˝ of 1 percent, of the quota during their fall season. So
we were able to work out the details for 39 days, primarily through the
cooperation of Alabama and Florida, which account for the majority of the
red snapper catch.
“We realize not everybody is happy about giving up some of the state
days. But we surrendered 23 days in state waters, where we have hundreds of
(artificial) reefs, to get 39 days in federal waters, where we have
thousands and thousands of reefs. We thought that was a fair trade.”
Blankenship hopes this process will reset the way the Gulf states work
with the Commerce Department and NOAA Fisheries.
“All the states felt like this was a new opportunity, not just for 2017
but the future, to work with Congress and the Department of Commerce to find
long-term solutions,” he said.
Blankenship said Rep. Scalise, who is recovering from a serious gunshot
wound in an assassination attempt last week, was at the forefront of the
“We pray for his speedy recovery,” Blankenship said. “This is an
important issue to him. We hope he will get back to work soon. We look
forward to working with him, as the Majority Whip, to pass a long-term fix
Blankenship said without the data gathered through the Alabama Red
Snapper Reporting System, known as Snapper Check, the argument for an
extension would likely have not been considered by Commerce.
“To the Commerce Department’s credit, they gave states the benefit of the
doubt,” he said. “They compared the data from Snapper Check and MRIP (Marine
Recreational Information Program). They were open to looking at the data.
They recognized the disparity in the data and decided the private
recreational fishermen needed some relief. It was a bold move on their part
and very appreciated by the recreational fishermen.”
One of those private recreational anglers is Marcus Kennedy of Mobile,
who made it clear he felt the private rec guys were “getting the short end
of the stick” in my column a little more than a month ago. When we talked
last Friday, he had just returned from a quick trip into the Gulf to catch a
limit of snapper.
“It looked like a normal weekend, which is good,” Kennedy said of the
number of boats in the artificial reef zones. “When you’ve got the season
spread out, you won’t have everybody trying to get out at the same time.
“I think this is the best we could have hoped for. We basically traded
the remaining state days for 39 days in federal waters. I’ll take the
federal season every time. That’s good for Alabama.”
Kennedy agrees that the Snapper Check data is far more accurate than the
“The state catch surveys have consistently been two to three times less
than NOAA’s catch estimate,” he said. “Therefore, this season is more in
line with what the actual catches are instead of the inflated numbers NOAA
has been using. Everybody I fish with is glad we got the extension, but they
know it’s not a long-term solution, and we’re probably going to have to go
through the same fight next year.”
To be ready for further negotiations, Blankenship said it is crucial that
Alabama anglers report all their catches through Snapper Check, which offers
three ways to comply. The easiest way, by far, is to use the Outdoor Alabama
app for smartphones. Online reporting is available at
www.outdooralabama.com, and paper reporting slips are located at select
Kennedy said there is an abundance of large snapper, 25-plus-pounds, and
plenty of 2- to 4-pound snapper on the reefs he’s fished lately. And he’s
glad he doesn’t have to stay in state waters to fish for Alabama’s premier
“It’s bad when you have to cram it all into one weekend, when the weather
might be bad,” he said. “Now we can breathe a little easier and not be under
the stress that you have to go. It’s supposed to be an enjoyable outing. You
want to go when the weather is nice, not when the federal government says
you have to go.”
Yes, You Still Have To Have A Permit To Carry A Concealed Firearm
Several people have asked
about pistol permits lately and seem confused about Bills in Alabama's
Legislature that might change concealed carry laws.
The quick answer is yes, you
still have to have a permit to carry a concealed firearm on your person
and in your vehicle.
The Alabama Senate did
Senate Bill 24 which would eliminate permit requirements for Alabama
residents allowing them to carry a firearm concealed on their person and
in their vehicles, however, that Bill has now moved to the Alabama House
in the form of House Bill 414.
In the meanwhile, if you have a Pistol Permit or plan to apply for one,
you should read this section of
Pine Making Upgrades To Owassa-Cook’s Dairy Electrical Line
By: Jim Allen
BREWTON - On March 28th, Southern Pine Electric Cooperative released the
following Public Service Announcement:
Unfortunately there are some people out there calling Southern Pine
members and telling them that their power will be out for an extended
period of time.
If you are contacted by anyone claiming to be a representative of
Southern Pine Electric Co-op telling you that your power is going to be
out, please contact your local Southern Pine office immediately to
Thank you, Southern Pine Electric Co-op.
Although extended loss of service is not scheduled, some Southern Pine
customers will be experiencing brief outages while the Co-op upgrades
several sections of it's power grid for the remainder of 2017.
According to Vince Johnson, CEO and General Manager of Southern Pine
Electric Cooperative in Brewton, the company is in the middle of a $5.9
million two-year plan to replace, upgrade, and harden the system's power
grid in Escambia, Monroe and Conecuh counties.
“Right now there are between 25 and 30 projects in those counties to
replace and upgrade the system - from residential connections to 11 mile
sections of distribution line – it's all being upgraded,” Johnson said.
Southern Pine operates in a five county area, he said, and has some
3,300 miles of distribution line.
“Twenty years ago we conducted a system-wide survey and found we had 700
miles of copper wiring,” he said.
It was then the company instituted the practice of creating and
budgeting two-year plans to systematically replace and upgrade sections
of the power grid that need it most.
“Today, we have about 200 miles of copper wiring,” he said. “It's just
time to upgrade the line – and bring better service to our members.”
The current two-year plan started in January 2016 and will end in
One of those projects includes the replacement and upgrade to an 8 mile
section of distribution and service line in northern Conecuh County from
Owassa, along County Road 29, to Cook's Dairy at Highway 83.
“As best we can tell,” Johnson said, “that section was installed
sometime in the 1950s. We haven't installed copper since then.”
Johnson stressed the importance of the Owassa distribution line which
sends 14,400 volts of electricity 40 miles and ends in Midway where it
supplies power to several industrial sites.
The existing lines are being replaced and upgraded with a more robust
system that includes swapping out the old copper wiring with thicker
aluminum wire containing a steel core. To accommodate the larger wire at
the top of the pole is heavy-duty hardware and stronger cross-member
supports. To hold all this in the air, the Co-op is using larger power
poles with upgraded guy-wire supports.
To clear the way for this major upgrade, Southern Pine work crews have
been removing trees and brush ahead of the actual installation, which is
being completed in mile long sections.
The Owassa-Cook's Dairy project serves approximately 1,800 Southern Pine
members and is expected to be completed in June at a cost of around $1
million, Johnson said.
The subcontractor performing the actual installation is Harper Electric
Construction Company out of Andalusia. Johnson said Harper Construction
not only won the bid to replace the power line, but has been a working
partner with Southern Pine for the past five years and works with the
Co-op to make repairs following storm damage from severe weather.
Any mention of storm damage to power lines brings up Hurricane Ivan, and
a noticeable change in Johnson's tone of voice. Southern Pine, along
with other power companies in our area, took a beating from Hurricane
Ivan that won't soon be forgotten.
Johnson said Hurricane Ivan
caused extensive damage to Southern Pine's entire system and took 800
contractors, in addition to Southern Pine's existing workforce, two
weeks to bring the system back to full operation.
Although nothing can prevent damage and outages when the weather becomes
severe enough, the upgrades now in progress within Southern Pine's
service area should go a long way towards mitigating and minimizing
outages to their members.
“Most important to us are our Southern Pine members,” Johnson said. “We
want to be responsive to their needs and work with them any way we can.
We want to provide our members with electricity safely and reliably, and
give them our best effort. We owe that to them.”
50 feet off the ground and
surrounded by 14,400 volts of electricity, this crew from Harper
Electric Construction Company of Andalusia take on the dangerous
business of replacing the distribution line.
Work crews from Southern
Pine prepare to clear the way by removing trees and brush ahead of the
actual line replacement.
Southern Pine Electric Cooperative
there are some people out there calling Southern Pine members and telling
them that their power will be out for an extended period of time.
If you are
contacted by anyone claiming to be a representative of Southern Pine
Electric Co-op telling you that your power is going to be out, please
contact your local Southern Pine office immediately to confirm!
Southern Pine Electric Co-op
Old Courthouse Museum to begin charging
- For the first time since its organization, Monroe
County Heritage Museum, Inc. will begin charging admission to the Old
Courthouse Museum, effective January 3, 2017.
The Old Courthouse
Museum houses the courtroom replicated for the film To Kill a Mockingbird.
Other permanent exhibits in the Old Courthouse Museum include Harper Lee:
In Her Own Words and Truman Capote: A Childhood in Monroeville,
which draw thousands of visitors to Monroeville each year.
MCHM regrets that
it must now charge admission to the museum as a result of major funding cuts
remain free to museum members as well as visitors to the Bird’s Nest Gift
Shop and the research room, which are located on the ground floor of the Old
Admission will be
$5.00 per person for those who wish to tour the Old Courthouse Museum.
properties operated by MCHM, Rikard’s Mill Historical Park and Alabama River
Museum, remain closed until further notice.
Executive Director email@example.com Monroe County Heritage Museum,
Inc. 31 N. Alabama Avenue Monroeville, AL 36460 251-575-7433
Lead Conecuh Cattlemen
BY JOSH DEWBERRY
Journal Staff Writer
Repton resident Michael Jordan will head the Conecuh County Cattlemen's
Association for a second consecutive year after he was elected unanimously
by ranchers during last weekend's annual banquet.
In addition to Jordan as president, Jeremy Knox will be vice president, Ray
Dewberry will be executive vice president and Wayne Crutchfield will be
David Jackson, Joe Morrison and Crutchfield were appointed to the
scholarship committee by Jordan.
The banquet was held Nov. 19 at Repton Junior High School, with around 150
members and guests in attendance.
After the steak dinner, members heard from Erin Beasley with the state
association. Beasley was recently announced as the future executive vice
president of the Alabama Cattlemen's Association (ACA) and she talked about
the current status of the beef market.
State President-Elect Richard Meadows addressed the programs and assistance
that ACA offers ranchers in Alabama.
The event closed with a cake auction and door prizes.
writing this article myself and bringing up the details of this murder
through a rehash of court documents, I have chosen instead to link to this
article from The Montgomery Advertiser.
I will not be
including an article concerning this case in our July print edition in order
to spare the family of Ms. Clarene Haskew more local public disclosure,
however the people of Conecuh County have a right to know the latest
information concerning this case.
Dead Man Identified In
Wednesday Officer Involved Shooting In Evergreen
15 October 15
The information contained
here is from news sources and has not been confirmed by official sources.
According to the Alabama Law Enforcement
Agency, (ALEA), “Troopers responded to assist Conecuh Co Sheriff Randy
Brock's Office in the apprehension of a suspect wanted for an assault that
occurred earlier in the evening in Monroeville. Multiple attempts to
persuade the suspect, who was believed to be armed, to surrender failed. At
that point, the suspect exited the residence and fired multiple shots at law
enforcement. In an effort to defend themselves, law enforcement officers
from several agencies returned fire and subsequently killed the suspect. No
law enforcement officers were injured.
“Secretary of Law Enforcement Spencer Collier,
Col. John Richardson and SBI Director Gene Wiggins responded to the scene.
"SBI will thoroughly investigate both the
officer involved shooting and the assault in Monroeville," Secretary Collier
said. "I am very relieved that no officers were injured this evening."
State Bureau of Investigation responded to the scene and will conduct the
investigation of the officer involved shooting and the assault that occurred
“Investigation is ongoing and nothing further will be
released at this point.”
According to news sources, the
incident began in Monroeville Wednesday when the male suspect, identified as
Leslie Portis Jr., 57, of Evergreen, allegedly shot his ex-girlfriend in the
leg then fled the scene.
The girlfriend was reportedly
in critical condition due to loss of blood, and was transported by
helicopter to USA Medical Center.
Portis reportedly fled into
Conecuh County using back roads then barricaded himself inside a residence
along US 31 just south of Evergreen where he was confronted by law
Evergreen Wood Products And BIOTAP Update
May 7, 2015
By: Jim Allen
EVERGREEN-Something that was never widely reported occurred at the March 9th
Commission meeting when Mr. Bob Miller attended to report on the status of
Evergreen Wood Products. The incident was mentioned on James Leon Windham's
Blog, Conecuh News & Views, but not in the write-up in the Evergreen Courant
– and I thought it irrelevant because it involved me. Well to be more
accurate, Commissioner Johnny Andrews involved me.
As anyone who's been reading my work knows, I've been a strong advocate for
the recovery of $350,000 in taxpayers money that was “loaned” to the City's
Industrial Development Board about a year and a half ago to help “start up”
Evergreen Wood Products.
Evergreen Wood Products never “started up” and the taxpayer funds, $175,000
from the City of Evergreen and $175,000 from the County Commission, was
When Mr. Miller appeared at the Commission meeting and it was Commissioner
Andrews' turn to address him, Andrews deferred stating, “I have no
questions, but Mr. Allen is in attendance and I bet he does!”
I declined. It was not my place to interrogate Mr. Miller or place him on
the hot seat in relation to the still missing funds at a County Commission
It was our County Commission who voted to loan our money to the City's IDB,
and Commissioners Andrews and Cook were strong advocates at the time to do
Our Commission did not loan the money to Miller. They loaned it to the IDB,
at the request and upon the reassurances of Evergreen's Economic Development
Director Bobby Skipper, that it would be repaid.
It's the IDB who is responsible for the funds.
Now, for one reason or another, Mr. Miller and Evergreen Wood Products has
been allowed to continue to occupy the former Gerber facility although the
business has never begun production.
On Thursday, April 16th, I attended a meeting of the City of Evergreen's
Industrial Development Board at the Depot in Evergreen. And it was most
To keep it short, the meeting went something like this: the Gerber facility
belongs to the City's IDB and Miller has been allowed to occupy it while he
continues attempts to acquire funding to begin operations. Over the past
year and a half, Miller has missed several deadlines for acquiring the
necessary funding to begin operations – to include repayment of the $350,000
loaned to the IDB on his behalf.
Blame for those delays was tossed back and forth by both sides.
The meeting was for the IDB to decide if it would order Miller to
immediately vacate the facility – or extend another deadline to May 20, 2015
when Miller claims he will finally have the funding necessary to close the
After an Executive Session, the IDB chose to postpone the decision until
Monday, April 20th when it would meet again at the Depot. In the meanwhile,
Miller was to provide the IDB with documentation verifying his funding will
be available and the deal will indeed close on May 20th.
It was also stated during that meeting that another business is interested
in occupying the facility should it be vacated by Miller and Evergreen Wood
During the Monday, April 20th meeting, the IDB spoke by phone with the
potential investor. After the conversation, the IDB voted, although not
unanimously, to extend the deadline until Wednesday, May 20th.
Personally, I was glad to see that members of the IDB have been making the
repayment of taxpayer funds an integral part of closing the deal with
Miller. As this saga continues, the taxpayers of Conecuh County will
positively know the status of Evergreen Wood Products on May 20th.
The information on BIOTAP is short, but not sweet.
This from their website (
www.biotapsouth.com ): “BIOTAP South provides a broad range of
testing services to physicians, hospitals and skilled nursing facilities
through highly complex CLIA certified laboratories. Located in Evergreen,
Alabama, our services include routine and specialized immuno-chemistry,
toxicology/drug confirmation, endocrinology, hematology, serology,
microbiology, cytology, pathology and molecular testing. Also provided, is a
full spectrum support for auditing and inspections by CLIA and other
governmental agencies. BIOTAP South serves to provide physicians the highest
level of client services in the industry.”
This all sounds great, but in fact, there is no BIOTAP South, LLC., facility
in Evergreen producing any of this stuff.
As some of you may remember, the story of BIOTAP began a bit more than a
year ago with some members of the Conecuh County Commission hot and heavy to
purchase a former 20 acre truck line facility on Ted Bates Road to house an
“undisclosed” medical facility. The seller wanted to cut the property down
to 16 acres and wanted a reported purchase price of around $600,000.
At that time, the name BIOTAP was not even mentioned and the deal centered
around the purchasing of this property (as quickly as possible) by the
county. Fortunately, a couple of Commissioners had concerns about possible
contamination at the site and a very contentious Commission meeting was held
to determine if an Environmental Impact Study should be conducted at the
property and whom should pay for it.
At that meeting, Mr. John A. Johnson, Director of Coastal Gateway EDA was
instrumental in the effort for the county to purchase the property and spoke
on behalf of the seller.
Johnson conveniently recommended a Bay Minnette company that was ready to
inspect the property within days, said the seller refused to pay for the
study, then suggested during the meeting that open discussion of the
possibility the property might be contaminated with hazardous waste could
constitute slander. County Attorney Anthony Bishop disagreed.
Ultimately, the taxpayers of Conecuh County paid about $3,000 for a study
that concluded further study was necessary.
The property was not purchased and word eventually leaked the potential
employer was named BIOTAP South, LLC. Representatives of the company
appeared before the Conecuh County Commission in June 2014 to answer
questions concerning the proposed facility and suggested the company would
start preparations to open within 60 to 90 days.
Soon thereafter, efforts began to find a suitable location in Evergreen and
the former Resource Center on Jaguar Drive near Hillcrest High School was
Some offices related to Reid State Technical College at the building, which
is owned by the Conecuh County Board of Education, have been required to
relocate - and in recent months negotiations and contracts (that included
tax incentives) with the Conecuh County Board of Education, the City of
Evergreen, the Conecuh County Economic Development Authority, and the
Conecuh County Commission have been negotiated and signed by those entities.
According to a June 23, 2014 letter from Mr. Johnson, announcing the pending
arrival of BIOTAP, it states the Alabama Industrial Development Training
Institute (AIDT) was also kicking in more than $100,000 to help train
After months of negotiations what has not been signed, and reportedly only
awaits BIOTAP's signature, is the final contract to close the deal.
When again questioned about the status of BIOTAP during the April 27th
Commission meeting, Commissioners David Cook and Johnny Andrews stated that
BIOTAP South, LLC., was still in the process of trying to find investors to
launch the company.
After more than a year into the process of trying to bring this company to
Evergreen and Conecuh County, this was the first public mention of the
company even being in need of funding.
When questioned about any specific time limit on when BIOTAP South would be
required to close the deal, Commissioner Andrews stated there was none.
Man Wounded By Law Enforcement Following Domestic Dispute
Saturday, March 7th
By: Jim Allen
OWASSA – It's been a little more than three weeks since a Conecuh County Deputy
was involved in an officer involved shooting of an Owassa resident and only now
are some details of the incident being released by authorities.
The shooting happened at the Owassa Road home of Tommy and Barbara Burt about
11:15 a.m., on Sunday, February 8th.
Information gathered at the scene indicates law enforcement was called to the
Burt residence about 11 a.m., in reference to a domestic dispute between the
Shortly thereafter, bystanders in the area reported hearing one gun shot and
could see law enforcement grabbing their weapons and taking cover behind their
vehicles as shouting came from the area of the residence.
Police units with the Evergreen Police Department, the Conecuh County Sheriff's
Department and Alabama State Troopers began arriving at the scene about 11:30
Approximately 30 minutes later, two ambulances from Conecuh County Emergency
Medical Services arrived on the scene and both ambulances were soon escorted at
high speed by law enforcement towards Evergreen.
Reports are that Tommy Burt, 41, was flown by LifeFlight to Mobile for emergency
surgery for a single gunshot wound to the stomach. He was reportedly out of
surgery around 8 p.m., that evening.
Anytime there is an officer involved shooting, the State Bureau of Investigation
(formerly ABI) is called in to conduct an investigation.
The roadway was completely blocked with yellow tape and police vehicles after
the incident and SBI agents began arriving at the scene at approximately 1:30
p.m. The road remained closed to traffic until about 6:30 p.m.
At the scene, Conecuh County Sheriff Randy Brock said he would have to
coordinate with the SBI before preliminary information concerning the incident
would be released, possibly as soon as the following day.
An unidentified SBI Agent at the scene said he could not comment concerning the
incident and that it would be several days before their investigation would be
However, information surrounding the shooting was not immediately made available
and as of press-time, the SBI investigation into the incident continues.
When initially contacted February 13th, Trooper Jamie Maloy with the Alabama Law
Enforcement Agency Public Information Unit confirmed an investigation by the SBI
was underway at the request of the Conecuh County Sheriff's Department, but gave
no indication as to when it might be completed.
Subsequent phone calls and emails to Trooper Maloy have gone unanswered.
During a recent interview with Sheriff Randy Brock at the Conecuh County
Sheriff's Office, Brock said the SBI has up to 60 days to conduct their
investigation and that once it was complete, the results would be sent to the
state and to local District Attorney Steve Wadlington.
The case would then be brought before a Conecuh County Grand Jury at some point
in the future.
The SBI investigation is completely independent, and as for the progress of the
investigation or what direction it may be taking, “They don't keep me informed,”
Brock said the call to the Burt residence was originally dispatched as a
Domestic Violence call. He said he could not comment on details of the incident,
but did confirm Burt did not shoot at law enforcement and that the only shot
fired at the scene was by the deputy.
After consulting with District Attorney Steve Wadlington, Sheriff Brock
identified the deputy as Brian Nelms (pronounced Nims) of Repton. Brock said
Nelms has been with the Conecuh County Sheriff's Department since September 5,
Nelms has reportedly also worked for the Brewton and Monroeville Police
Brock said Nelms has not been involved in any prior shooting incidents and, “I'm
sure my Deputy did what was necessary to protect himself and the victim.”
Neither Sheriff Brock nor Chief Deputy Tyrone Boykin were on the scene when the
shooting took place.
After the incident, Nelms was placed on Administrative Leave with pay, Brock
said, and was reinstated to active duty on February 16th following approval by
“His clearance to return to work has nothing to do with the investigation being
performed by the SBI,” Brock said, meaning his return to work is an issue
separate from the actual investigation of the incident.
After the results of the investigation are released by the SBI, Brock said more
information concerning the circumstances surrounding the shooting may be made
“We have nothing to hide,” he said, “People need to know what's going on.”
Following his release from the hospital, Burt was subsequently taken into
Federal custody by U.S. Marshals and placed in the Mobile Metro Jail on February
18th where he is reportedly being held on a charge of felon in possession of a
This development apparently stems from the investigation by the SBI who, Brock
said, located almost a dozen firearms inside the Burt residence, and a prior
criminal history that showed he had been convicted of a felony.
A record search at the Conecuh County Circuit Clerk's Office indicates Burt has
had some minor brushes with the law over the years and was charged with a Class
B felony as a teenager some two decades ago.
That information was evidently relayed to federal authorities who took Burt into
Repeated calls to the Public Information Officer at Mobile Metro Jail to inquire
about Burt's status have not been answered or returned.
In an interview with Robert “Bobby” Crosby, the father of Barbara Burt, Crosby
said Tommy Burt sustained internal organ damage from the shooting and that a
section of his intestines had to be replaced with plastic tubing.
Crosby also went into detail concerning what he says happened that Sunday.
According to Crosby, he received a call from his daughter that morning stating
the couple had been involved in a marital dispute and Tommy Burt wouldn't allow
her access to the keys to a vehicle so that she could leave the residence. She
asked him to come pick her up.
Crosby said his wife, Elaine, then called 9-1-1 and requested Sheriff's deputies
meet him at a gas station in Owassa.
Crosby lives in Evergreen some 10 miles from the Burt home.
Two deputies met Crosby at the gas station, he said, and he informed them of the
situation before they all proceeded to the residence.
Once there, Crosby said, the two deputies entered the home by passing through a
door adjacent to the carport and escorted Barbara Burt outside the residence
while Tommy Burt was in the shower.
Rather than leaving immediately, Crosby said his daughter wanted to return
inside to retrieve some clothes and a discussion ensued on the carport just
outside the door leading to the residence.
A few moments later, Crosby said, Tommy Burt appeared at the door wearing only
boxer shorts and opened the screen door.
He said Burt always kept a rifle leaning up against the wall inside the door,
and that although he did not see Burt with the rifle, one family member at the
scene later told him Burt was holding the rifle with the barrel pointed down,
and another told him Burt was holding it by the barrel with the butt down.
Crosby said the deputy, “Gave him no chance. When the door came open he just
shot and ran.”
At that point, he said, law enforcement took up defensive positions in front of
the house and repeatedly called for Burt, who had fallen backwards and lay
wounded on the floor, to come out of the house.
Crosby said some 35 minutes passed before Burt was heard, “hollering for help”
from inside the house. Law enforcement then approached and found Burt lying on
the floor just inside the screen door.
Crosby said that at no time did Burt threaten law enforcement, and that his
daughter, Barbara, had only minor scratches and bruises and did not need medical
attention. He said she only later went to the hospital at the insistence of law
“Barbara was not beaten,” Crosby said, and she has no plans to press any charges
against her husband.
Sheriff Randy Brock also stated the Conecuh County Sheriff's Office has not
filed any charges against Burt, and that none were pending.
[NOTE: Other family members were contacted for comment concerning this
article and chose not to participate. This newspaper respects their decision and
their privacy. Also, in our print edition, paragraphs 4 and 5 of this article
were out of order. The approximate time of the shooting reflects that change.]