Evergreen, Alabama


A FREE Publication Serving Conecuh County Since 2003

 

Home

Editorial

Local News

Weather Radar

Washington

Links

HELP WANTED

Subscribe

Contact

About Us





 

Recreational Snapper Anglers Get Additional Days

By DAVID RAINER

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 days.

“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 time.”

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 the teamwork.

“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 wonderful.”

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 negotiations.

“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 in Congress.”

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 federal estimate.

“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 boat ramps.

Major Scott Bannon, Acting Director of the Alabama Marine Resources Division, explains Snapper Check and its importance to red snapper management in the linked video at  www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVpiZDgkVyw or www.facebook.com/OfficialOutdoorAlabama/videos/10155510628354885/.

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 reef fish.

“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 approve 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.

House Bill 414 is still in Committee and has not been passed by the House. You can follow the status of the Bill by following this link.

In the meanwhile, if you have a Pistol Permit or plan to apply for one, you should read this section of Alabama Code.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Southern Pine Making Upgrades
 To Owassa-Cook’s Dairy Electrical Line

By: Jim Allen
Vince Johnson CEO/General Manager Southern Pine Electric Co-operative
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 confirm!

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 December 2017.

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.”

Copyright 2017 By Jim Allen/The Monthly View Newspaper

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.

Copyright 2017 By Jim Allen/The Monthly View Newspaper

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

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 confirm!

Thank you, Southern Pine Electric Co-op

Evergreen: 251-578-3460       Brewton: 251-867-5415

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Old Courthouse Museum to begin charging admission

Monroeville, AL - 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 since 2015.

Admission will 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 Courthouse Museum.

Admission will be $5.00 per person for those who wish to tour the Old Courthouse Museum.

Two other properties operated by MCHM, Rikard’s Mill Historical Park and Alabama River Museum, remain closed until further notice.

Contact:

Wanda Green, Executive Director
mchm@frontiernet.net
Monroe County Heritage Museum, Inc.
31 N. Alabama Avenue
Monroeville, AL 36460
251-575-7433

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jordan To 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 secretary-treasurer.

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.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Steven Wayne Hall Death Sentence Overturned
 In 1991 Murder Of Clarene Haskew

Rather than 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.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A missing Alabama boy we featured in August 2005
 has been found in Ohio after missing 13 years!

Son Forgives Father for Kidnapping Him 14 Years Ago

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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."

The State Bureau of Investigation responded to the scene and will conduct the investigation of the officer involved shooting and the assault that occurred in Monroeville.

“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 enforcement.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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 never returned.

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 meeting.

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 so.

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 interesting.

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 deal.

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 Products.

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.

BIOTAP South

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 chosen.

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 employees.

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.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Owassa 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 couple.

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 a.m.

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 complete.

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.

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, 2014.

Nelms has reportedly also worked for the Brewton and Monroeville Police Departments.

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 the SBI.

“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 available.

“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 firearm.

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 custody.

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 enforcement.

“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.]

Special thanks to WSFA Channel 12 in Montgomery for picking up our article on the officer involved shooting in Owassa.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Subscribe Today!

 

Terms of use

Copyright 2003-2017 By ATB Productions
evergreen alabama newspaper advertising conecuh county

 

 

 

 

 

web
analytics


Title Goes Here