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Hoover news has moved to a new location on AL.com

Tue, 05 Oct 2010 15:24:26 UTC

2014-02-17T15:29:34Z

To get the latest news and information about Hoover, go to al.com/hoover.

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We're glad you're interested in news and information about the Hoover community. To get the latest from AL.com and The Birmingham News, please go to al.com/hoover.


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Hoover Board of Education calls special meeting Tuesday for personnel issues

Tue, 05 Oct 2010 04:35:00 UTC

2010-10-05T04:39:26Z

Attorney for Spain Park head football Coach David Shores says hearing for Shores is set for Oct. 11, not Tuesday

The Hoover Board of Education has called a special meeting for Tuesday to consider personnel issues.

The agenda for the 5:30 p.m. meeting does not specify what personnel issues will be considered.

There have been some media reports indicating the board will consider terminating the coaching contract of Spain Park head football Coach David Shores, who has been on paid administrative leave following an Aug. 24 incident with a player at practice.

Hoover school board President A.W. Bolt said last month that Superintendent Andy Craig and Spain Park Principal Chris Shaw recommended Shores be fired. A hearing on Shores' employment was set for Sept. 16 but delayed, reportedly due to scheduling conflicts.

Matt Goforth, one of Shores' attorneys, told Birmingham News prep sports editor Jeff Sentell today that the hearing is scheduled for Oct. 11 and that they don't plan to be at Tuesday's board meeting.

Hoover school board President A.W. Bolt told Sentell he would not be surprised if Shores' employment is discussed at Tuesday's meeting but also would not be surprised if it is not.

The meeting will be at the Farr Administration Building at 2810 Metropolitan Way.




Birmingham bid for the Barons a threat to Hoover's sports tourism

Wed, 15 Sep 2010 17:23:01 UTC

2010-09-15T17:26:03Z

Mayor Tony Petelos says he can't understand why the Barons would want to leave Hoover

Hoover's efforts to boost sports tour­ism are being threatened. First, the PGA an­nounced it is ending the Regions Charity Classic at Ross Bridge and switching to a major seniors golf tournament at Shoal Creek in unincorporated Shelby County. And now there's a chance Hoover could lose the Birmingham Barons.

Birmingham Mayor Wil­liam Bell is working to lure the Barons back to their namesake city, and if he succeeds, it would be a huge loss for Hoover.

Over the past 10 years, the Barons have attracted an average of almost 280,000 people a year for games. And when they come to Hoover for minor league baseball, they eat in Hoover restaurants, buy gasoline in Hoover and shop in Hoover stores.

Plus, it's a convenience for Hoover residents to have minor league baseball in their own backyard.

The Barons pay Hoover $200,000 a year to lease Regions Park, but their five-year lease runs out at the end of this year. They have an option to renew for another five years, but Bell is pushing a plan to bring the Barons to down­town Birmingham.

Stan Logan, the manag­ing partner for the Barons, said Monday his family has no offer on the table from Birmingham but has met with a developer spearheading the effort and is willing to listen.

"We've got a business to run," Logan said. "You've got to be open to the pos­sibilities . . . We're just looking out for the long term . . . making sure mi­nor league baseball stays in the Birmingham area for the long term."

However, Logan spoke well of Hoover. "I think the city of Hoover has been good for the Birmingham Barons, and I think we've been good for the city of Hoover," he said. "It's like any other relationship. It's had its good and its bad, but it's overall been a very positive relationship for the Birmingham Barons and minor league base­ball."

Hoover Mayor Tony Pe­telos said he'd hate for the Barons to leave and doesn't see why they would.

"The attendance is good. The stadium looks great. There aren't any safety issues as far as crime," Petelos said.

The city has spent more than $6 million renovating Regions Park in recent years and has a great rela­tionship with the Barons, Petelos said.

The Barons came to Hoover in 1988 because they needed a new venue and were ignored by Bir­mingham, Petelos said.

"Rickwood Field was liter­ally falling apart. Crime was getting worse in West End . . . Parking was horri­ble over there."

Hoover made a big investment in building a stadium for the Barons and has been attentive to keep it up. Petelos said the city would find other uses for the facility if the Bar­ons leave. But Hoover resi­dents should hope it doesn't come to that.


Jon Anderson is Hoover ed­itor for The News. Write him at janderson@bhamnews.com.

 




Hoover resident Bill Hendrix is a giver, and we're grateful

Thu, 09 Sep 2010 17:09:08 UTC

2010-09-09T17:11:26Z

79-year-old inducted into Alabama Senior Citizens Hall of Fame

There are two kinds of people in this world -- givers and takers.

The takers are the peo­ple who always think about themselves. Their relationships revolve around what other peo­ple can do for them. They drain the energy out of
you. Conversely, givers think about others. Their relationships revolve around what they can do for others. When you spend time with them, you feel uplifted.

Bill Hendrix is one of the givers. The 79-year-old Hoover resi­dent has spent most of his life serving others.

Last week, he was one of 10 people inducted into the Alabama Senior Citi­zens Hall of Fame.

His service started long before he became a se­nior. In 1949, at the age of 18, Hendrix led a bill through the Alabama Youth Legislature to abol­ish the poll tax that kept many poor black people and white immigrants from voting. Congress ac­complished that with the 24th Amendment, ratified in 1964.

Hendrix continued giv­ing of himself by serving in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War. He spent 13 years as a volunteer with the YMCA, helping teach young people about government.

For 12 years, he's been the chief inspector for city, state and national elections at the Prince of Peace Catholic Church polling site in Hoover.

He's also been a member of the Alabama Silver-Haired Legislature for 12 years and chairman of the Jefferson County dele­gation for eight.

Hendrix helped write the voter ID bill passed by the Alabama Legislature in 2003 and co-sponsored a resolution in the Silver-Haired Legislature to al­low leftover medication of people who die in nursing homes to be given to indigent people.

That measure also be­came law.

"He's just been consis­tent, year after year, in doing outstanding things for seniors," said Warner Floyd, the speaker of the House for the Silver-Haired Legislature who nominated Hendrix for the Hall of Fame.

Thank you, Mr. Hend­rix, for your service. May
there be many more givers like you.

Jon Anderson is Hoover editor for The News. Write him at .




Video of Hoover School board moment of silence

Thu, 15 Jul 2010 00:43:24 UTC

2014-02-17T15:22:26Z

Hoover School board's moment of silence, June 13, 2010.


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Hoover School board's moment of silence, June 13, 2010.




Hoover residents voted yes to keep school quality high

Wed, 05 May 2010 12:00:00 UTC

2010-05-05T01:35:30Z

Hoover voters spoke clearly last week when they agreed to extend the city's 24-mill property tax for schools an extra 19 years. The 73 percent approval rating for the tax extension is a pretty strong show of support for the measure. The last time Hoover voters were asked to approve a property tax renewal was 2004. The question then...

Hoover voters spoke clearly last week when they agreed to extend the city's 24-mill property tax for schools an extra 19 years.

The 73 percent approval rating for the tax extension is a pretty strong show of support for the measure.

The last time Hoover voters were asked to approve a property tax renewal was 2004. The question then was whether to renew two 3-mill property taxes for the portion of Hoover in Shelby County. Residents there OK'd that tax renewal with only a 60 percent approval.

But school officials should not read more into last week's vote than it actually says.

Schools Superintendent Andy Craig was correct in saying the vote is "once again the community's affirmation of support for the school system."

Hoover residents do support their schools, and they are willing to put their money where their mouth is. But the vote does not necessarily mean that residents agree with how all the money is being spent.

My guess -- or informed opinion based on watching Hoover over the past decade -- is that Hoover residents are by and large proud of the school system they have built over two decades and they don't want to see its quality decline. They fear that with less funding, it would indeed decline.

Just ask Bob McCabe, a Bluff Park resident who said he voted in favor of the tax extension. Hoover schools were good when he had a child in the system, and he wants to make sure they stay that way for future generations, possibly including his grandchildren, he said. Plus, continued funding for the school system should help keep property values up for whenever he decides to sell his home, he said.

John Dicas, who lives off Patton Chapel Road, said he, too, voted in favor of the tax extension. "I believe in the education system and having it funded right," Dicas said. " I think the need for education is going to continue to grow."

He doesn't know what form education will take in the future, but "I think the facilities need to be made available for youth to be educated properly," he said.

And, like it or not, Hoover school officials are using the 24-mill fund for more than just facilities, buses and technology. This fiscal year, their budget calls for transferring $40 million from the 24-mill fund to the general fund to cover operating expenses. The school system has come to depend on the 24-mill fund for existence, not just for handling growth.

With funding cuts from the city and state due to declining revenues, belt-tightening is a must for Hoover City Schools. But Hoover residents don't want to have to tighten the belt so much that they end up cutting off their circulation.

Jon Anderson is Hoover editor for The News. Write him at janderson@bhamnews.com.




Heartfelt prayer would be welcome at Hoover school board meetings

Wed, 21 Apr 2010 12:00:00 UTC

2010-04-21T04:06:05Z

Public prayer follows example of our nation's founding fathers

Hoover school board President Donna Frazier opened up a can of worms last week when she suggested reinstating prayer at the beginning of school board meetings.

But, hey, sometimes worms need to get out of those cans. Freedom can be a good thing.

Freedom -- that's what this is all about -- whether people can freely exercise the religious practice of prayer in a public arena.

The Hoover school board's attorney about a year ago recommended the board quit verbally praying at the start of its meetings and switch instead to a moment of silence. There was no lawsuit threatened and no vote taken. It was just a "politically correct" change made by then-school board President Suzy Baker.

Frazier, who was appointed for a second five-year term on the school board Monday night, told the Hoover City Council last week during a reappointment interview that she will ask the board to vote on switching back to prayer and would be willing to line up ministers to pray instead of school board members.

She later said it could include clergy from a variety of faiths.

The First Amendment to the Constitution says: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

Public prayer has been a part of our government's heritage since its inception. Not a state religion, but the freedom to pray in accordance with one's religious beliefs. Yes, even in government meetings (Just look at Congress.) And there's no requirement that officials have to seek out religious expressions that differ from their own.

People advocating prayer in public meetings aren't talking about using it as a tool to convert other people to their religion or being mean-spirited to people of different faiths. It's simply about acknowledging the same God and Creator acknowledged by our founding fathers, thanking him for the many blessings he has given us, and asking that his direction be upon our leaders as they make decisions.

Some people claim Jesus was against public prayers. Yes, Jesus did preach against public prayers being uttered strictly for the purpose of being heard by other people, but he never condemned public prayer altogether. It's all about the motives of the heart.

Hoover doesn't need to have meaningless prayers at its school board meetings, City Council meetings or park board meetings just so someone can look pious. But a good dose of heartfelt prayer -- real, humble communication with God -- could do a world of good.

"Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principles." -- George Washington.

Jon Anderson is Hoover editor for The News. Write him at janderson@bhamnews.com.




Hoover races to help out neighbors

Wed, 14 Apr 2010 15:39:32 UTC

2010-04-14T15:51:38Z

Providing assistance for Indy Grand Prix of Alabama was a positive move

Some visitors to the Indy Grand Prix of Al­abama may have be­gun to wonder exactly where they were this past weekend.

The 2.38-mile track at Barber Motorsports Park is in the city limits of Bir­mingham, but the main exit off Interstate 20 is in Leeds, and there were Hoover police officers and Hoover school buses help­ing with parking, traffic and transportation.

The Hoover school sys­tem rented out more than 30 buses to event organiz­ers and provided bus driv­ers to help shuttle race fans from the Birmingham Race Course to the Barber Motorsports Park, and the city of Hoover paid about a dozen of its police offi­cers to help with parking and traffic control, Hoover police Capt. Jim Coker said.

Why would a city with a strapped budget send its police officers to work an event that's nearly in St. Clair County?

Hoover Mayor Tony Pe­telos and Coker said it's an example of regional coop­eration.

"This event, it really has an impact economically for the whole area," Coker said. "We know we have people staying in Hoover hotels."

Hoover police have a lot of experience handling heavy traffic, from Christmastime shopping in and around the River­chase Galleria to the Southeastern Conference Baseball Tournament, Bruno's Memorial Classic golf tournament and now Regions Charity Classic golf tournament.

They know how to man­ually operate the traffic lights and how to keep traffic flowing. And with the SEC baseball tourna­ment and Regions Charity Classic coming up in Hoo­ver next month, working at Barber also was good practice, Coker said.

Hoover stands to gain by race fans having a posi­tive visit to the Barber Mo­torsports Park, Coker said, but "it's really just being a good neighbor and intera­gency cooperation."

Sometimes, we in the Birmingham-Hoover metro area get too territo­rial and think only of our­selves or our own city. It makes sense to strive for better cooperation -- and to follow through with it.

Having an IndyCar race come to town helps boost the city's image and, more importantly, helps boost the quality of life for us all.

And we should take note that the race is called the Indy Grand Prix of Ala­bama, not the Indy Grand Prix of Birmingham. This is an event of which the whole state can be proud.

Hoover city officials were on target with the de­cision to lend a hand and should think along similar lines with other issues that affect our region.


Jon Anderson is Hoover ed­itor for The News. Write him at s.com.




Don't count Chip McCallum out of Alabama House District 47 race just yet

Wed, 07 Apr 2010 12:00:00 UTC

2010-04-07T03:15:56Z

Though kicked out of the Republican primary, McCallum may run as independent Charles "Chip" McCallum IIIThe Alabama Republican Party may have thrown Charles "Chip" McCallum III out the June 1 Republican primary for state House District 47, but don't count McCallum out of the race completely. The son of former Vestavia Hills Mayor Charles "Scotty" McCallum says he is seriously considering running as an independent against state Rep. Jack Williams for that district, which includes parts of Hoover and Vestavia Hills. The state Republican candidates' committee disqualified McCallum from the Republican primary on Saturday, saying he's not a true Republican. Philip Bryan, communications director for the Alabama Republican Party, said the key was McCallum's history of financial contributions to Democratic candidates stretching back at least 20-25 years, including a donation to Barack Obama's presidential campaign. McCallum said he gave $1,000 to Obama's campaign but regrets it. "That was some misspent money, and I wish I had not helped a friend out in Chicago who asked me to make that contribution," he said. The Democrats' health care plan is a disaster that is going to cost his business $2,800 more a year per employee, McCallum said. McCallum said he was stunned by his disqualification. "I've been a registered Republican forever," he said. "Dad and Mom have always been strong Republicans. I've been brought up that way .A$?.A$?. The first candidate I voted for was Ronald Reagan. I've always voted in Republican primaries." However, McCallum also acknowledged contributions to other former Democratic candidates, including John Edwards, John Kerry, Al Gore and Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb. "It was kind of hard to justify the lifelong Republican assertion," Bryan said. McCallum, a lawyer, said his contributions in national campaigns are tied to the national Republican Party's efforts to force people into arbitration and curtail people's right to take matters to court. Other than that, "all my views and values are more in line with Republican values." He said he also has given money to Republican candidates such as Supreme Court Justices Mike Bolin and Tom Woodall and state Rep. Greg Canfield, R-Vestavia Hills. "You'd be hard-pressed to find a lawyer that does any kind of civil litigation work like I do that has not given contributions to candidates of both parties," he said. State Rep. Jack Williams, R-Vestavia Hills McCallum said the people of House District 47 deserve to have a choice and not be told by a handful of people who their representative will be. Because no Democrat qualified in House District 47, Williams will win automatically if no independent qualifies. Bryan said the Republican Party is gaining momentum in Alabama. Democrats know a Democratic candidate doesn't have much of a chance to win in House District 47, he said, so perhaps McCallum's Republican declaration was more "out of convenience." If McCallum decides to keep his campaign alive and is able to obtain the 409 signatures of residents in that district that he says he needs to qualify as an independent, this race could be quite interesting. With the McCallum family's name recognition, he might just have a shot. Jon Anderson is Hoover editor for The News. Write him at janderson@bhamnews.com. [...]


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Tragic accident reminds us golf carts are not toys for kids

Wed, 31 Mar 2010 12:00:00 UTC

2010-03-31T02:30:10Z

Drivers on the road should be 16 and have a license, properly equipped cart

Death is a fact of life, but that doesn't make it any easier when it happens to one of your loved ones, especially your child.

The family of 15-year-old Thomas Messina, a Hoover boy who was in the ninth grade at John Carroll Catholic High School, experienced a tragic loss last week.

Messina died on March 21 after falling off a golf cart in the Trace Crossings community. Police said he was a passenger in a cart being driven by another teen and was hanging on the side of the golf cart when he fell, striking his head on the pavement.

As the parent of a 15-year-old boy myself, my heart goes out to the Messinas. It could just as easily have been my 15-year-old.

Trying to blame someone for an accident like this serves little purpose. Accidents happen -- with bicycles, skateboards, scooters, go-carts and all-terrain vehicles. But it's a valuable reminder that golf carts are not toys.

They're not supposed to be on public streets unless equipped like other legal vehicles, including a license plate, head lights, tail lights and rearview mirror.

Even then, the driver must have a valid driver's license or have a permit and, if 15, be accompanied by a licensed driver 21 or older.

Over spring break, while out of state, my three sons and I went golfing. I thought my 15-year-old would be allowed to drive a golf cart on the course, but the club rules required drivers to be 16 and have a license.

I think my oldest son could have handled a cart just fine, but the starter at the club stuck to the rules, and my boys took turns riding in the cart I drove.

I've heard story after story about communities filled with kids driving golf carts all over the place. In many cases, they are doing so illegally -- and at risk of harm to themselves or others.

More than 1,000 people a month are injured in golf cart accidents across the country, according to a study done by University of Alabama at Birmingham doctors two years ago. Roughly half the accidents occurred on golf courses. The rest were at homes, on streets and on other public property.

The highest injury rates were found in 10- to 19-year-olds and men older than 80. Fractures and head trauma were the most common injuries.

Children's Hospital in Birmingham reports treating 27 children for golf cart injuries in the past four years, including 10 last year. About 70 percent were under 13.

Golf carts have a short wheel base and can flip over if turned too sharply. If parents allow their underage children to operate them, they should do so only under careful supervision -- and not on public streets.

Jon Anderson is Hoover editor for The News. Write him at janderson@bhamnews.com.




Teacher salaries not the issue at Spain Park High School

Wed, 24 Mar 2010 12:00:00 UTC

2010-03-23T18:42:23Z

Supportive leadership cited as most important factor in teacher retention, survey says

With the current Spain Park High School principal being paid $131,191 a year, it's easy to see why 45 people want to replace Billy Broadway, who is leaving after this school year.

That's pretty high on the totem pole when it comes to principal salaries -- and much higher than any principal in the Birmingham, Jefferson County or Shelby County school systems. The new principal won't necessarily make the same amount because the salary is to be negotiated based on qualifications and experience, but I'd be surprised if it's not close to that mark.

The good reputation of Spain Park High -- a U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon school -- and the Hoover school system also helped draw applicants, I'm sure.

An interview team led by Superintendent Andy Craig and Chief Academic Officer Ken Jarnagin plans to start meeting today to whittle down the 45 applicants to a smaller pool that will be interviewed.

This committee would do well to reflect on the results of a national survey released this month by Scholastic Inc. and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. While higher salaries are often a motivating factor to get people to apply for or stay in a job, it's not the most important factor for teacher retention, this survey found.

The survey of more than 40,000 public school teachers across the country found that supportive leadership was the top-ranked factor contributing to teacher retention.

Sixty-eight percent of teachers said having supportive leadership was "absolutely essential" for teacher retention. In Alabama, the number was 70 percent.

The next most important factors were time for teachers to collaborate (54 percent nationally marked "absolutely essential") and access to high-quality curriculum and teaching resources (49 percent nationally marked "absolutely essential").

Then came clean and safe building conditions, professional development that is relevant to personal and school goals, and higher salaries (each at 45 percent).

Why is this issue important? If you remember, teacher retention was one of the big issues school board members said they wanted to address several years back. Everybody wanted to know why Hoover schools, particularly Spain Park High School, were losing good teachers.

The school board fired the previous superintendent and increased employee salaries, but teacher turnover at Spain Park has continued to be higher. Data provided this past fall showed Spain Park was losing teachers and other instructional personnel at more than twice the rate of the system as a whole.

Maybe the teachers' salary level wasn't the problem after all.

Jon Anderson is Hoover editor for The News. Write him at janderson@bhamnews.com.




Online high school courses raise red flags but have potential upside

Wed, 10 Mar 2010 12:00:00 UTC

2010-03-09T23:48:28Z

Hoover and Spain Park high schools to test online courses next year

When I first heard Hoover and Spain Park high schools were going to start offering online courses that allow students to do work on their own instead of going to class every day, red flags went up in my head.

Will the students really get the same quality instruction they get now, having face-to-face contact with a teacher every day? And do we really want teenagers getting out of school early and running around without adult supervision?

I'm not the only one asking those questions. The No. 1 concern of Hoover parents and teachers, when told about the online class option, is whether quality would suffer, said Ron Dodson, the Hoover school system's director of secondary curriculum.

Dodson said the world of online education is a lot like the Wild West right now. There are a lot of cowboys out there and not many sheriffs. People can pay a lot of money and not get much of an education, he said.

That's why Hoover officials are being cautious with this pilot project and putting in safeguards. The online classes still will meet once a week, and the teacher will be available for individual and small group consultations. Major tests still will be given in traditional formats so educators can compare outcomes with those of traditional courses.

Plus, the online courses are being offered only in two subjects at first -- English and government/ economics. And only to incoming seniors who have at least a 2.75 grade-point average and no more than one unexcused absence and one discipline-related office referral in the two previous semesters.

Online courses are not for everyone, Dodson said. Some kids are mature enough for it, and some are not. A good question parents can ask themselves is whether they have to make their kids do their homework, Dodson said.

"If they're still at that stage where somebody has to crack a whip over $?'em to finish a vocabulary assignment for English class," an online class probably is not a good idea, he said.

Saving money is a potential benefit, but it's not the driving force behind this, Dodson said. More colleges are heading in this direction, and Hoover officials want students to be prepared, he said.

A draft technology plan released by the U.S. Department of Education on Friday calls for more innovation like this. Today's generation of students has grown up in a digital world, and online learning and advanced technology offer new opportunities and alternative ways of instruction to which they can relate.

Dodson said Hoover officials don't want to mess up what has worked in the past, but online courses have a lot of potential for meeting students' needs. That's what it's all about.

Jon Anderson is Hoover editor for The News. Write him at janderson@bhamnews.com.




Deer Valley Elementary School students in Hoover learn another 'R'

Wed, 03 Mar 2010 12:00:00 UTC

2010-03-02T23:13:55Z

Random acts of kindness topic of second-grade project

One of my jobs at The News is to edit the Farewell articles that run in the paper each Sunday, giving us a glimpse into the lives of everyday people who have died.

It's striking to me how, many times, people are remembered not so much for the mountains they have climbed in life, but for how much they helped others along the way.

Sometimes it's the big things, like a 10-year-old girl who became a mother of sorts to her younger siblings when their mom died. But many times, it's the smaller things that mean a lot -- those random acts of kindness that make a big difference in the lives of others.

To some people, such kindness seems to come naturally. But usually, somewhere in life, they learned it from someone else.

April Wideman, a second-grade teacher at Deer Valley Elementary School in Hoover, understands this.

Wideman recently initiated a project for all eight second-grade classes at Deer Valley, focusing on "random acts of kindness" -- doing something not to be rewarded for it, but just to be nice and helpful. After teaching about the concept, she and other teachers encouraged the children to write down kind acts they observed others doing, and asked their parents to catch the children doing kind acts on their own initiative and write them down as well.

The kindness notes were attached to two giant hearts in a school hallway. They did this for an entire month and documented more than 500 acts of kindness.

Seven-year-old Jasmyn Clapp took out the trash for her 10-year-old brother. Marc Anthony Jenkins held the door open for someone in a wheelchair at the mall. Carson Phifer shared a brand new video game with his brother the first time he asked. (That's a big one.) Christopher Upton got an ice pack for his 5-year-old brother when he fell off his scooter and hurt his knee and elbow, and Hannah Villani helped a lady who dropped her change in the checkout lane at Target.

"This is really making an impact on them," Wideman said. The official project is over, but the children still talk about it and post the kindness notes on the wall, she said. "Doing this at a young age -- they will remember this."

Parent Stephanie Burkes said the project was contagious. Once her son, Dallas, started doing kind acts for people, it made her and her husband want to do more of the same. Even their neighbors picked up on the idea.

This project had little to do with the traditional three R's of education -- reading, writing and arithmetic -- but it's certainly a life lesson worth learning. Why is it valuable? Just ask 8-year-old Christopher Upton. His answer: "So you can make a big difference for the world." He's right.

Jon Anderson is Hoover editor for The News. Write him at: janderson@bhamnews.com




Is it time to pay extra for garbage pickup in Hoover?

Wed, 24 Feb 2010 12:00:00 UTC

2010-02-24T15:31:33Z

Garbage pickup costs the city $5.8 million, or $20.25 per house

(image) An employee for Hoover's garbage hauler loads two boxes into the back of a garbage truck. (Jerry Ayres/The Birmingham News)With tax revenues being squeezed, Hoover officials are looking for ways to cut costs.

The latest idea, as News reporter Val Walton tells us in today's paper, is to make Hoover residents bag their own leaves instead of raking them to the curb for pickup by a leaf vacuum. Mayor Tony Petelos says the city could save up to $250,000 by doing so -- and keep leaves from blowing into stormwater drains and other people's yards.

But the savings that would come from that is chump change compared to another idea -- have residents start paying for garbage pickup.

The city of Hoover in fiscal 2009 paid $5.8 million for residential garbage pickup. If that cost were spread out among all the houses in Hoover, it would cost each household $20.25 a month, city officials say.

No one has proposed that yet. "At some time in the future, we could look at it, but I'm not ready to look at it now," Petelos said.

However, Petelos said he does plan to recommend the city scale back garbage pickup from twice a week to once a week. The city's garbage contract still has two years left on it, and Petelos said he likely will make that recommendation when it's time to put the contract out for bid a year from now.

"If people are recycling like they should, that gray can -- once a week -- is plenty," Petelos said.

Sissy Mitchell, a public works department administrative service supervisor, said it's rare to see people put their garbage containers out more than once a week anyway.

Mitchell said she always figured Hoover would have to start charging for garbage pickup one day. "I've always been shocked that we didn't," she said.

Several cities in the area now pay for garbage pickup with tax revenue, including Bessemer, Birmingham, Homewood, Mountain Brook, Trussville and Vestavia Hills. But numerous cities -- such as Adamsville, Alabaster, Fairfield, Gardendale, Helena, Lipscomb, Pelham and Tarrant -- charge extra.

Mountain Brook at one time charged a $221 annual fee but dropped it to $50 in 2007 and eliminated it altogether in 2008. Mountain Brook City Manager Sam Gaston said city officials may have to reconsider that decision for the next fiscal year. Tarrant residents started paying for garbage pickup separately this month.

Hoover residents, what are your priorities? Do you want to continue making cuts in things like education, or do you pay a little extra each month for garbage pickup? The cost likely would drop below $20 a month with once-a-week pickup.

A $5.8 million savings could go a long way. Perhaps the city could even restore more of the money it once gave to schools. Let me know what you think.

Jon Anderson is Hoover editor for The News. Write him at janderson@bhamnews.com.




Hoover residents can handle the truth

Wed, 17 Feb 2010 16:49:12 UTC

2010-02-17T16:50:45Z

Superintendent Andy Craig should speak out for the school system

Becoming the leader of an organization car­ries with it certain re­sponsibilities.

One of those is the abil­ity and willingness to speak on behalf of that organiza­tion as the need arises.

That need is amplified when you're talking about a public entity such as, let's say, the city government of Hoover or the Hoover school system.

There's an interesting contrast in Hoover.

On one hand, you have Hoover Mayor Tony Pete­los, who bends over back­ward to make himself avail­able to speak on city matters.

Petelos views himself as THE spokesman for the city. When there are ques­tions about city govern­ment, he wants to be the one to talk about it.

Sometimes it's more useful to be able to talk to people directly involved in the issue. It lets the public hear directly from the source and cuts down on misunderstandings.

But I appreciate the mayor's willingness to speak on behalf of the city.

On the other hand, we have Hoover schools Su­perintendent Andy Craig, who often walks away when a reporter ap­proaches, refuses to an­swer questions or gives an­swers that don't address the point of the questions.

Craig tries to funnel questions and information requests through Jason Gaston, the media liaison for the school system.

That's understandable for routine matters. It's called delegation.

But the superintendent of a school system should be available to comment on matters of significance and matters that involve the superintendent's deci­sions.

Craig tries to avoid an­swering media questions when he makes appear­ances at public meetings and events, and he some­times wants interview questions submitted in writing. Sometimes he re­sponds. Sometimes he doesn't. Frequently when he does, he does so by e­mail. His reply may not ac­tually answer the question, and interviews by e-mail are not conducive to fol­low- up questions or dis­cussion.

Requests for public doc­uments are met with resis­tance as well. School offi­cials frequently drag their feet in responding to them and throw up roadblocks.

If News reporter Tiffany Ray had not been per­sistent in seeking informa­tion related to Spain Park Principal Billy Broadway, you have to wonder if the news about financial irreg­ularities would have ever surfaced. Broadway might have just quietly retired.

Still, audits of Spain Park released to The News gave no indication of improprie­ties. Why is that? Craig and Chief Financial Officer Ca­thy Antee should be the ones with answers, and they direct questions to Gaston, who doesn't have answers. It's avoidance.

The people of Hoover de­serve
better.

Jon Anderson is Hoover edi­tor for The News. Write him at s.com.




Legislators hide source of campaign cash

Wed, 10 Feb 2010 12:00:00 UTC

2010-02-09T23:13:26Z

Campaign finance laws in Alabama are a joke

There's a reason we have campaign finance laws.

In theory, they are there to provide transparency about who is funding political campaigns.

To some degree, the laws in Alabama do that. If you take a look in today's edition of The Hoover News at the contributions given to legislators and other candidates who are seeking the nine legislative seats that represent Hoover, you can get some idea of who is giving to whom.

But there is another reason we have the campaign finance laws we do, and that's to keep people from finding out exactly who is giving to whom.

The campaign finance laws in Alabama are a joke. Legislators and many of the people and companies who give to their campaigns know there are loopholes in the laws big enough to drive a truck full of electronic bingo machines through.

First, the law prohibits companies from giving more than $500 to a candidate during a given election period. But companies can get around that by giving more money to political action committees (PACs) that have no limits on the amounts they can give candidates.

Second, PACs are required to report who gave them money, but when multiple companies give to the same PAC and that PAC gives to numerous candidates, it's impossible to trace exactly who gave what to whom. Some PACs make it even more difficult to trace by transferring money from one PAC to another. The state House of Representatives for several years, including this year, has passed legislation banning PAC-to-PAC transfers, but the bill dies in the Senate every year.

I and several News reporters spent hours upon hours last week going through reports filed by candidates and PACs to give you the best information we can, but it's a complex and tangled web to try to unravel.

Most of the legislators who represent Hoover take money from PACs. It's one thing if the PAC is clearly labeled, such as the Alabama Realtors PAC or the Alabama Pharmacy PAC, which generally take money from people in those fields.

But candidates who take money from PACs where the original source of the money isn't clear, or from lobbyists who run multiple PACs and shuffle money between them, should be ashamed. Most of the candidates seeking to represent Hoover fall into that category.

You have to ask yourself -- if there's nothing suspicious or questionable about the donation, why try to hide it? Most, if not all, of these candidates will tell you they favor transparency, but their actions speak louder than words.

Jon Anderson is Hoover editor for The News. Write him at janderson@bhamnews.com.