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Recalling the terror of a twister

When I was in the sixth grade, a small tornado crossed over our home in the country.

There were no weather advisories in those days, nothing that warned you of approaching danger except a corner of the sky that might suddenly deepen into a demonic shade of bluish-black.

It was mid-summer. I don’t remember much about the hours before the storm except that things seemed perfectly normal. The sun was shining. Chickens scratched and pecked in the sandy soil under the four peach trees inside their fenced yard next to the barn. Our three horses lazily grazed in the pasture while our dogs, Shortie and Archie, were simply hanging out, sniffing about, doing whatever dogs do.

Mom called us in for lunch about noon and when the sky began to grow dark, didn’t let us go back out.

As the wind picked up, she went to the windows several times, watching the clouds. Although she said nothing, she looked  worried. The sky grew even blacker and the wind blew harder, gusting crazily around the house. When Archie and Shortie began barking and whining outside, Mom opened the door and they shot in like bullets.

At that moment the wind began to roar in a strange way and the entire house shifted on its foundation. Alarmed, she stepped outside, just for a moment, struggling to hold onto the door knob. The world beyond the open door now glowed with a weird greenish hue. A sudden volley of hail swept the yard, then a wall of rain blew across horizontally. Mom bolted back in, shouting as she slammed the door.

“It’s a twister! Get away from the windows!”

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$10 seating on field ridiculous

Dear Editor:

A child has a high school graduation just one time. It should be enjoyable.

Since 60 percent of our taxes go to the school system, parents should not have to pay $10 each to sit on the field (at Memorial Stadium) to see their children graduate. Taxes paid for the football field.

Some of us are not able to get up and down the stadium steps very well. This is a shame and disgrace for a money-hungry administration.

Many changes are needed to improve the failing school system and bring it to what it should be, and until the administration changes there will never be any changes in the system. There is  too much “good ole boy” politics.

No one at the high school could tell me what this money (the $10 to sit on the field) is used for. I just got the “deer in the headlights” look.

Francis Burnsed of Sanderson

New law: officials can reduce salaries

Elected officials pay: ‘Big elephant in the room’

Clerk of Courts Al Fraser – $95,328
Property Appraiser Tim Sweat – $95,328
Tax Collector Gene Harvey – $95,328
Elections Supervisor Nita Crawford – $78,468
Sheriff Joey Dobson – $103,924*
School Superintendent Sherrie Raulerson – $95,328
County Judge Joey Williams – $134,280 **
County commissioners – $29,440
School board members – $25,231

* Sheriff Dobson, a “double dipper,” draws an additional $72,558 annually in retirement benefits for a total compensation of $176,482, plus health insurance and other benefits. Shortly after he became eligible for the twin payments, the law was changed to prohibit it for future enrollees, both elected and otherwise, under the state’s retirement system.
** Judges are not included in the new statute authorizing voluntary salary reductions.

Amid all the back and forth in recent weeks about how much the county should contribute to its retiree health plans and, on the state level in recent months, how much state employees should participate in retirement plans, no one speaks about the “big elephant in the room.”

That would be the salaries of elected constitutional officers.

Since 1973, they have been set by the state in a cozy system that officially was enacted to “standardize” pay throughout Florida based on a county’s population.

Behind the scenes, “associations” of elected officials — lobbyists, really — worked closely with legislative staffs to make sure their clients were well taken care of.

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Living room goes ‘English’ the morning of vows

I thought I had been magically transported “across the pond” on Friday morning when I walked out into my living room at 7:00. There, sitting on my couch, were five women in pajamas, wearing flowered hats and drinking PG Tips tea (pinkies extended daintily) while eating scones.

“Pip, pip, cheerio!” said my wife as I wandered into the middle of Kelley’s Royal Wedding Watching Party. Most of the ladies had been there since 4:00 or 5:00 and were having a wonderful time.

“Are we going to find this party in a column?” asked Fay Sinclair as she nibbled on a cucumber sandwich.

“Oh, undoubtedly,” I responded as I got the coffee machine going. No PG Tips for me. “Do we have a bride?”

“Oh, yes,” said Alana Harvey, who was wearing her own Royal Wedding T-shirt. “They are signing the register.”

“Then I missed it?”

“You did,” said Marilyn Harrell. “But I’m sure you’ll get to see it again,” added Lil Smith.

It was a festive bunch and as Fay’s mother, Miss Fay, would have said in one of her columns, “A fine time was had by all.” Kelley had decorated with tule and pictures of the bride and groom. She brought out her English bone china that she and Alana bought in Scotland.


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