Highway 431 Blog

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year! ::

We're wishing everyone a safe and Happy New Year, but it's starting off badly for some on Hwy 431 this evening. I was coming back from town just a very short while ago and there is a very bad accident in the southbound lanes of 431 just south of the New Hope stop light at Oak Grove Road. Traffic is being routed over to the northbound lanes so the back-up is pretty bad and the rescue squad is involved. Not a good sign!

I turn right onto Oak Grove to get home and luckily I was able to make the turn. I initially thought that I would have to go back to New Hope and take the long way around.


Sadly,1 teenager was killed in the crash. From this morning's Huntsville Times:

A teenager is dead and five others are in the hospital tonight after a two-car accident in New Hope.

The boy, whose name was not immediately available, died at the scene of the 6 p.m. wreck at U.S. 431 and Oakgrove Road.

John Walling, 17, a passenger in the vehicle, was taken by MedFlight to Huntsville Hospital with potentially life-threatening injuries, said HEMSI Chief Operations Officer Don Webster.

The backseat passenger, 15-year-old Briana Nelson, was taken by HEMSI to Huntsville Hospital for Women and Children. The two passengers were both from New Hope, Webster said.

Three people in the other vehicle, a Ford F250, were also taken to Huntsville Hospital. Vickie Gray, 41, and her two children -- 7-year-old Jericka and 9-year-old Jadia -- all suffered from non-life-threatening injuries.

There was immediate word on the cause of the accident.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2008 According To Jib-Jab ::

But, more importantly, where did my header go?

[update] Seems that the remote server which hosts my header image is down right now, hopefully not for long!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Winding Down 2008! ::

And we have 22 days of The Shrub left!

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas and holiday season and we're looking forward to a Happy (and safe) New Year.

I'll be interested to see how the holiday shopping season shakes out. I actually wound up spending more than usual, but the big purchase was a 32" HiDef television to replace one of my 19 year old RCAs. I tried, and I hope succeeded, to get some educational gifts for the grandkids. I think this is the first year I haven't gotten them any books, but I'll send them some reading material throughout the year. Savannah has become interested in music so we gave her J.'s Guthrie guitar in hopes she will become the musical one in the family. Before her accident J. did a mighty Janis Joplin imitation on stage and we spent many fine nights around a campfire with the guitar accompanying a sign-along. When she had the accident the subclavian artery from her heart to her left arm was torn in half which necessitated an arterial graft. Unfortunately the nerve which controls the left vocal cord wraps around this artery and was cut in the process so she has a permanently paralyzed vocal cord and her singing days on stage are over.

I'm wandering again and losing track of why I started this post. I was in the local Wal-Mart garden (read Christmas) shop earlier this evening and didn't expect to see much left on the shelves. Normally when the holiday merchandise is put on deep discount after Christmas the shelves empty very quickly, but this year seems to be much different and there are still an awful lot of holiday decorations on the shelves. This seems to say more to me about this economy we are experiencing than anything else I have noticed!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Merry Christmas To All! ::

It's A Wonderful Life just started and tomorrow will bring 24 hours of Ralphie in A Christmas Story.

This is a really tough year for a lot of people. I did some volunteer work at a couple of charities earlier and I got some small idea of just how many people need help this year.

One of my co-workers had car problems earlier this week and this will set him back just under $1,000, but he is without the car until this next Monday. His mother has been undergoing intensive cancer treatments for many months and this unexpected problem just added more angst to his psyche. D. will be ok and his friends and family will help take care of what he needs to do over the next few days.

Another co-worker told me earlier this afternoon that his wife had been laid off from her hospital job this past Monday. Crappy news on Christmas week but they'll be ok. A. is also in nursing school which is one of the few career paths offering growth opportunities.

The owner of the company I work for is noted for his Christmas gifts to employees and he generally spares little expense. This year he asked if any of the employees would object to a generous donation to a charitable organization in lieu of our normal Christmas surprise and if there were any objections I don't know of them. I hope we were able to make some small difference in some peoples lives!

Anyway, I hope that everyone has a very Merry Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Another Sad Closing!

I seldom get up around the North Parkway, but I took a drive up to Tennessee this afternoon and came across this sign. I love old hardware stores and there are few left anymore driven out by the sterility of Lowes and Home Depot!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Will BRAC Save Huntsville From The Recession? ::

I was struck by the headline in The Huntsville Times earlier in the week regarding Tommy Battle's feeling that the incoming BRAC jobs should insulate the city from the effects of the recession.

Mayor Tommy Battle said Wednesday the city should pull out of the economic recession earlier than most communities because of the growth headed here with new BRAC jobs.

Battle predicted that Huntsville's economy will begin to rebound in 2010, when the bulk of military jobs from the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission decisions start arriving in Huntsville.

"Do we have challenges? Yes. But with every challenge is an opportunity, too," Battle told 1,200 business and civic leaders at the Von Braun Center during his first State of the City address.

(added emphasis is mine)

I'm struck by Battle's understatement on the challenges faced by the city and county. There are 2 major problems that immediately leap to my mind regarding the coming influx of people.

The first is the traffic situation and there seems to be little movement in addressing this issue. Anyone who has done any driving around the city in the past few weeks during this holiday season can attest to the gridlock on the streets. Building overpasses on the parkway may help a bit although I continue to be amazed by how inane the construction schedules are, but the parkway is nothing more than a feeder system to the secondary streets and little is being done on these streets to alleviate the traffic although the Governor's Drive project is immensely helpful.

The State of Alabama finds itself in a serious proration situation and the schools are going to suffer immensely yet our school systems are not equipped to handle the influx of new students. I like the idea of consolidation, but question whether or not this is a feasible answer to the problem right now. I have never had children in the Huntsville school system so I'm watching this from the sidelines, but I foresee a lot of problems in this area simply due to the lack of money, not to mention planning.

I have also been struck by the boom in housing construction in the past couple of years in anticipation of the incoming BRAC jobs. If one drives around Huntsville and the surrounding communities there is ample evidence that a lot of new developments were started, but due to the current economic situation are sitting idle with utility connections sticking out of the ground! For some odd reason I have long scanned the foreclosure listings in The Huntsville Times and I have begun to notice a lot of foreclosure of development property. This is not surprising and will probably get worse into 2009 with a lot of local developers going belly up. I would not be surprised to see some of the well-known local companies closing their doors in 2009!

I was also struck by Battle's comments about the scavenging of workers:

Only about 20 percent of displaced BRAC workers, most from northern Virginia, are expected to transfer with the jobs, he said. The remaining 4,000 will be filled with local workers or employees recruited from elsewhere.

He warned businesses of work-force challenges caused by companies raiding each other to replace employees who leave for government jobs created by BRAC.
"As soon as they move over, you have to go to someone else and steal someone, or they may steal from you," he said, stirring chuckles.

I have already seen this begin to happen with at least 2 people I know leaving NASA for the Army and I have some friends hoping for offers from companies doing contract work for the Army.

Amid all of these serious problems the city administration is concerned with decorating trees and shrubs along Cecil Ashburn Drive!

Christmas functions have been particularly challenging, he said, starting with his ban of roadside Christmas tree decorating along busy Cecil Ashburn Drive. "We got called a Grinch on that one," he said.

Grinch indeed!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Earnest Nunley, One Fat Cowboy, Update ::

I got a short e-mail from Earnest yesterday on one of my more obscure e-mail accounts and apparently he is recovering nicely after his bypass surgery and is still planning to complete his ride across the country! We're wishing him the best!

The original post about Earnest, Snowey and the trip is here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

More Rain! ::

I wish the rain could be spread out a bit more throughout the year! I have always been curious about the statistics spouted by the weathermen about the rainfall deficit. They always put forward this as a yearlong deficit when I think that a much more accurate measure would be a monthly measure, especially during the growing season and even then the statistics should be weighted toward specific crops since cotton requires a different rainfall amount than, say corn, for an optimum yield.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Actions And Consequences! ::

The road I live on runs, for a bit, alongside the Paint Rock River before dead-ending at a farm. This morning I decided to drive down there to see how high the water is after the heavy rains of the past week. I really wanted to get down there right after the rains but I leave for work before dawn and get home after dark so this was my first opportunity. The water is still very high, but there doesn't seem to have been any damage.

It's not unusual to see deer when I drive down this road and this morning was no exception. This little doe was in the road when I came around a curve and startled her. She jumped over into this bramble pile and stood still while I got my camera and snapped this photo. Just behind her is a hog wire fence and when she tried to jump it she got her left hind leg hung up in the vines and the fence and couldn't get loose. All I had with me was my pocket knife and I tried to cut her loose with that, but she was trying to get loose from the fence and away from me and I couldn't free her. I live just about a mile away so I rushed home and got my wire cutters. She was still hung up when I got back, but I snipped the wire around her legs and she took off running up the side of the mountain. I don't think she was injured. I was really worried about her leg but she seemed to be ok although she was favoring it a bit while she ran.

My fingers are crossed that she is ok tonight!

Civil Disobedience ::

There are a few decorated trees on Cecil Ashburn Dr. but nothing like last year. I had to run back up there this morning to photograph the tree of flags!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Dining Out Updated ::

Promoted from comments!

From Tim:

Thanks for the info. I will be awaiting the arrival of a more professional local restaurant. The Chef's Table over Cecil-Ashburn is an excellent restaurant. Locally owned and operated, it provides high quality food for a relatively low price. A few other restaurants have opened recently in Jones Valley but none deliver the service or quality of The Chef's Table.

The Chef's Table was previously in a tiny location on South Parkway and one of my co-workers has long raved about both the food and service. I have yet to try them out, but they are on my radar!

And this from an anonymous tipster:

You need to try "Around Your Table". It is right next door to the Art Store in Hampton Cove. It is execellent.

This is in the little strip center next to the Wal-Mart. I didn't even know "Around Your Table" was there until this past weekend when I drove through there just to see was was available. I'm glad to see a very positive review of it and I'll be trying it out soon.

Enjoy your dining out!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

New Dining Opportunities Around Hampton Cove ::

Here's a comment from Tim promoted from a comment on another post:

Unrelated to this post, but relevant to previous dialogue, Hampton Cove is getting a steakhouse. I saw the building site in front of Lowe's, but I don't remember what franchise it was. It was a well known business. I don't eat out much because I prefer to cook, but I think a nearby steakhouse might be worth it. Owens Cross Roads is moving up in the world, though that may not be what many residents are hoping for.

Here's a photo of Santa Fe under construction:

Also on the other side of 431 is a new little place called Carsons. I haven't tried it out yet, but it looks like it could become a local watering spot!

Last, but not least, someone has reopened the little coffee shop:

[update] Both Carson's and Cafe Domain are difficult to see from the road, but they're both in the little area behind the Exxon station where the Pizza Hut is.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Alabama Football ::

I generally have no dogs in this hunt since I passed my misspent college years at Clemson U., but I always pull for whichever Alabama team has the best shot at a good record which, of course, is U. of Alabama this year and I will continue to do so in the SEC championship game, but I'm really curious about why Alabama doesn't get more respect in the quest for the national championship. Alabama is undefeated but still the underdog to Florida this weekend. All of the talk is about Florida, Texas and Oklahoma while Alabama seems to be unfairly marginalized as a potential national champion. I don't understand!

I'm not that much of a football fan, but I do watch a few games each year and I'll be pulling for Alabama this weekend; probably with a cold adult beverage in my hand!

Let me also add that I'm saddened by the news that Tommy Tuberville was let go today. I have come to understand the politics of big-time college football, especially in Alabama, but I was still surprised that he was cut loose as I always thought he was a class act as well as a good athletic motivator!

I wish Tommy Tuberville the best and I'm sure he will not be lacking in discretionary funds for quite some time!