Newspaper publisher goes to the mat to fight coal ash dump

Dink NeSmith owner of the Press-Sentinel in Jesup, Ga. goes the extra mile to illustrate the delicate ecosystem of the Wayne County area. This is the Altamaha River, whose waters flow to the Atlantic Ocean. NeSmith and the Press-Sentinel are fighting to keep coal ash out of their community. If allowed to be dumped in the local landfill, the toxic ash would make its way into the river and poison the waterways of southeastern Georgia. Photo by Fred Bennett

Dink NeSmith owner of the Press-Sentinel in Jesup, Ga. goes the extra mile to illustrate the delicate ecosystem of the Wayne County area. This is the Altamaha River, whose waters flow to the Atlantic Ocean. NeSmith and the Press-Sentinel are fighting to keep coal ash out of their community. If allowed to be dumped in the local landfill, the toxic ash would make its way into the river and poison the waterways of southeastern Georgia. Photo by Fred Bennett

By Teri Saylor

JESUP, GA—If it is a newspaper’s duty to print the news and raise hell, the Press-Sentinel of Jesup, GA, is rattling Satan’s rafters over a proposed coal-ash dump at the county landfill.

Trouble was brewing a long time before anyone even noticed.

More than 20 years ago, in cash strapped Wayne County, the Board of Commissioners approved a regional landfill facility to take in household waste.

In 1994, the landfill opened in Broadhurst, a tiny community located close to the county seat of Jesup.

Two years later, it was purchased by Republic Services, a Fortune 500 company that owns 200 landfills across the country. Over time, Republic Services expanded its territory in Wayne County and today owns 2,200 acres,more than double the acreage purchased in 1996.

“Back then, smaller communities banded together to create regional landfills,” said Press-Sentinel Publisher Eric Denty. “The one in Wayne County was supposed to serve 19 counties. But at some point, Republic changed that arrangement so the landfill could accept trash from every state in the country.”

Last January, a Republic Services subsidiary filed an application with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to develop 25 acres of land near the landfill for a rail yard and a nearly 7-mile rail spur off the main line to serve CSX Railroad. This rail facility would be able to accommodate as many as 100cars. Those cars would be hauling in coal ash—a lot of it.

The permit flew well under the radar.

It was a sleeping giant that was about to get a rude awakening.

Derby Waters, a veteran newsman who had worked at the Press-Sentinel in his younger days, left the paper to pursue other interests, retired and returned to the paper as a part-time reporter.

One morning in early January, he had a visitor. Neill Herring, a prolific environmental lobbyist, dropped by the newspaper and told Waters he had seen an online notice announcing the Corps of Engineers’ permit application.

And that’s how the story came to light.

The hell-raising followed.

“I called the Corps of Engineers and asked them why they didn’t file a public notice in our newspaper, which is the legal organ,” Waters said in a conference call, which included Denty and Editor Drew Davis.

“And I was told they were no longer required to publish public notice advertising, because of the internet, but I could sign up to be put on a distribution list,” Waters said.

When Waters finally saw the permit application, he learned that when all the approvals come through and the rail yard is in place, those 100 CSX rail cars would be hauling in 10,000 tons of coal ash every day and dumping it into the landfill.

That adds up to mile-long trains and enough coal ash to bury a small town.

Residents protest Republic Services, a Fortune 500 waste service corpration, which is trying to locate a coal ash dump site at its landfill near Jesup, a small town in Southeast Georgia. Photo courtesy The Press Sentinel

Residents protest Republic Services, a Fortune 500 waste service corpration, which is trying to locate a coal ash dump site at its landfill near Jesup, a small town in Southeast Georgia. Photo courtesy The Press Sentinel

Jesup is home to 12,000 residents in southeast Georgia, located about 40 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean.

It is the seat of Wayne County.

The Amtrak’s Silver Meteor stops there as it heads up and down the East Coast.

Its landmass is a rural, swampy coastal plain and piney forestland. The Altamaha River flows along the northern border of Wayne County on its way to the sea, fed by streams and tributaries along the way. It is an ecologically sensitive area.

Broadhurst is located about 10 miles south of Jesup. Sparsely populated, you won’t find much there. But if you Google the town’s name, listings about the Wayne County Landfill come up near the top of the page.

In a low-lying coastal plain, the water table is close to the land surface, andcoal ash mixed with ground water makes a toxic brew.

The Press-Sentinel deployed its army of four—Denty, Davis, Waters and the newspaper’s owner, Dink NeSmith.

They declared war on Republic Services, using ink and newsprint as their sword and shield, and they pledged to fund the entire battle out of their own budgets if they had to.

NeSmith reckons he has spent $50,000 so far, and he’s not afraid of spending more.

“If I have to drain my retirement, I will do so,” he declared in a phone conversation. “I have eight grandchildren and this is their heritage. I will go to my grave protecting my community and the environment.”

Battle heats up

After Waters learned about the permit application, he started digging into the story, spending hours sifting through minutes of county commission and city council meetings, but finding nothing that would indicate the county was complicit with the coal ash agreements.

He believes the local government “got snookered,” he said. “Republic made it financially beneficial for the county, but the county didn’t read the fine print.”

On Jan. 13, the newspaper published its first article under the headline: “Company plans to bring coal ash,other waste here.” It included aerial shots of the landfill and the entire Broadhurst area.

 

An aerial view of the Broadhurst Landfill. Photo by Fred Bennett

An aerial view of the Broadhurst Landfill. Photo by Fred Bennett

What followed has been a no-holdsbarred war. The newspaper haspublished dozens of articles, written mostly by Waters.

Denty hired an editorial cartoonist.

NeSmith started writing fiery editorials and columns, and he invited editors and publishers of other papers to editorialize against coal ash, too.

One area of great frustration for the newspapermen has been the shroud of darkness over this issue.

Denty believes the newspaper and the public should not have to work so hard to get information about issues of any magnitude, let alone a coal-ash dump that has the potential of polluting an ecosystem all the way to the coast and poisoning every living thing along the way.

The newspaper’s editorial pages have been full of blistering commentary, but from the day the story broke, Waters was intent on providing objective, balanced coverage in the news sections.

“I toured the landfill and told its story,” he said. “I reached out to Republic officials from the get-go.”

But Waters’ requests for interviews were met with a stony silence.

“So we ran stories about the landfill and Republic’s activities with ‘no comment’ from them,” Denty said. “They did see the error of their ways, and now we have contacts in the company who will deal with us.”

Waters believes Republic Services greatly underestimated the Press- Sentinel’s ability to dig up facts, which he believes were deliberately buried, and to present them to the readers in a compelling way.

“They thought we were just a little podunk community newspaper and they could just roll over us,” he said. “They have been overwhelmed by our coverage and have realized this is not a pushover community.”

The Press Sentinel hired cartoonist Jim Powell to boost editorials against dumping coal ash at the Landfill.

The Press Sentinel hired cartoonist Jim Powell to boost editorials against dumping coal ash at the Landfill.

 

The 6,000-circulation Press-Sentinel is published on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Its entire editorial staff is Denty, Davis, Waters, another part-time reporter and a handful of stringers.

In addition to coal ash, that team also covers the other, regular news of its community.

Shining a light

You might look at this as a modern David and Goliath story—a tiny, local newspaper taking on a $9 billion Fortune 500 company, CSX Railroad and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in a battle of Biblical proportions.

Along the way, the newspaper uncovered a chilling fact.

Coal ash is not new to Wayne County.

The Jacksonville (FL) Energy Authority had been trucking it in for eight years. Along with Dan Chapman, a reporter with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Press-Sentinel discovered there had already been a leak at the landfill in 2011, which had never been disclosed to the public.

Denty, who is immediate past president of the Georgia Press Association and knows his way around the state legislature, took the issue out of his newsroom and marched it straight into the state house during the assembly’s 2016 session. There he powered the passage of HB 1083, a bill that would require public notice of landfill leaks like the one that occurred in 2011.

Last March, the Corps of Engineers called a public meeting to hear the community’s concerns and answer questions.

Davis put together a 20-page, full-color section on the issue. Like a greatest hits album, the section was filled with many of the articles, columns, editorials, photos, cartoons and other content that the Press-Sentinel had carried.

“We had covered all of the issues as they arose, but we thought if we put it into a special section, it would offer a better explanation about why this is important,” Denty said. “And we thought it would provide a logical timeline that the community could easily follow.”

The section did not contain a single ad. The cost for the entire 12,000-press run was borne entirely by the Press- Sentinel. Copies were inserted into the Press-Sentinel’s regular newspaper and made available as a stand-alone piece.

“Eric and I made a decision that we didn’t want to appear to profit from this crisis,” NeSmith said. “If we want to ask other people to engage, we have to lead the way. We owe it to our community. Period. We put our hearts into this, and our wallets followed.”

NeSmith is president and co-owner ofCommunity Newspapers Inc., headquartered in Athens, GA. The group’s holdings include 25 community newspapers in Georgia, Florida and North Carolina.

He is proud of every single newspaper in his CNI group, but the Press-Sentinel has a special place in his heart. Founded in 1865, the newspaper is the oldest business in Jesup. He purchased it in the early 1970s, and it is the first newspaper he ever owned.

He is not going anywhere.

“I have been publishing here for 45 years, and I’ll keep going until I am 90,” he declared.

He spends at least part of the day, seven-days-a-week, writing editorials, columns and letters, making calls and preaching against Republic Services to anyone within earshot.

He vows to never stop until he has accomplished three goals: to extract a guarantee from Republic Services that no coal ash will ever be brought into Wayne County; to convince the Corps of Engineers to deny the permit for the rail spur; and to convince the county to renegotiate its contract with Republic, imposing strict rules on the volume and type of solid waste the landfill is allowed to accept.

“If I were on my death bed, I’d get up and keep fighting,” NeSmith said. “I will do whatever it takes, and then some. If it can happen here, it can happen anywhere.”

Note: This article was first appeared in the National Newspaper Association’s monthly publication “Publishers Auxiliary.”

terisaylor@hotmail.com

 

You can help bring holiday cheer to the hungry this season

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The National Restaurant Association reports restaurants will play a big role in Thanksgiving this year, with more than 33 million Americans dining out or ordering pre-cooked meals for their holiday celebrations. Here is the breakdown:

  • 4 million people will order their entire Thanksgiving meal from a restaurant to eat at home
  • 8 million people will dine out while shopping on Thanksgiving Day or evening
  • 14 million people will order part of their Thanksgiving meal from a restaurant to eat at home
  • 15 million people will eat their Thanksgiving meal at a restaurant.

And a whopping 38 million shoppers will dine at restaurants on Black Friday.

But for just as many people in our nation, getting a Thanksgiving meal takes a lot more work than merely picking up the phone and calling a restaurant.

Feeding America reports that one out of every six Americans, including children and senior citizens, don’t have access to enough food. And in 2012, 6.2 million American households accessed emergency food from a food pantry or soup kitchen one or more times

Hunger is a serious problem in North Carolina too. In the 34 counties served by the Food Bank of Eastern and Central North Carolina, 560,000 people struggle each day to provide enough food for their families.

The North Carolina Justice Center’s Budget and Tax Center reports North Carolina has the fifth highest level of food insecurity in the nation. This means many people in our state will face the holidays with little or no food on their tables. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps people purchase food that meets their basic nutrition needs, but at the beginning of November, every North Carolinian receiving SNAP funds saw a cut to their benefits, and Congress is poised to make more deep cuts that will likely put more low-income families at risk of hunger.

The Food Bank is kicking off its holiday food drive Thanksgiving weekend with an ambitious goal to raise $350,000 by December 31.  That is a challenging sum, but with hard work comes rewards, and the reward this holiday season is providing for 1.7 million meals for needy North Carolinians.

Here’s how you can help:

  • A gift of $35 will provide enough food to sustain a family for over two weeks…
  • A gift of $75 will provide groceries to an elderly couple for over two months…
  • A gift of $150 will provide 750 piping hot holiday meals to folks in our communities!

Small gifts add up. Even if you don’t have much money to spare, remember even the few dollars you can contribute added to a few dollars from your friends or co-workers will grow into enough money to make a big difference to a family in need.

NOTE:  You may see an ad on this page. It is an ad provided by WordPress. I did not solicit it nor receive payment for it

Where we were when we heard the news

The nation paused last week to reflect on the death of President John F. Kennedy, gunned down in a parade along Dallas, Texas roadways.  On November 22, 1963, the world was horrified over his assassination by Lee Harvey Oswald, and those of us old enough to remember have never been able to get the images out of our minds.

Two days later, Oswald was gunned down, live, in full view of stunned parents and even small children watching the assassin’s arrest on national television.

When you consider how scandalized we are over bad words and clothing malfunctions that sneak past FCC controls today, the idea of young kids watching actual murders, in real time on national TV, is crazy.

We remember where we were on that terrible day.

The  Newseum in Washington, DC is displaying a special exhibit on Kennedy’s life, his family, his presidency, and his death.  As part of the programming, visitors are invited to record on Post-It notes where they were when they heard about the assassination.

People posted memories of JFK's assassination

People posted memories of JFK’s assassination on Post-It notes at the Newseum in Washington, DC

The memories are vivid:

I was in high school practicing in the school orchestra.

I wasn’t alive when he was, but I have heard great things about him.

I was home with small children watching TV. We were glued to the TV for days.

I was in elementary school. All the nuns were crying and going from class to class and they were praying for him. We were all sad and left for home early. At home, we bought a new TV to watch the services.

I was 24 years old and at work. I was so scared to go outside because I feared chaos in the streets. I watched for days the carnage on TV and was fired from my job for not calling to say I would…. (unfinished) 

I was in class 6th grade Holy Trinity Catholic School. We all went to church and prayed, then watched TV all weekend.

I was on my lunch break in Syracuse, N.Y. I then wandered aimlessly home after the announcement. 

I was a senior in high school in Hartford, Conn. when Sister Berlignan came into our class and told us the president had been shot. Our immediate concern, in our naiveté was how long it would take him to recover. We did not believe he would die.

I was 8 years old and living in Sao Paolo, Brazil. We had just arrived at our Equestrian Club when one of the stable boys came running out to my family saying that “El Presidente’ Kennedy” was dead. He cried and I cried. The Brazillians loved Kennedy.

I was in 9th grade at Howard Junior High in Wilmette, Ill. In the hallway some kids said our English teacher was crying. It was between periods when we were told what happened by our teachers. School was dismissed early. We all walked home. We watched the television coverage all day, and for many days after.

I was in high school chemistry class. One of the first bulletins said that a secret service agent had also been shot. The daughter of the limousine driver was in my class. I remember she immediately got up and left the school. We didn’t see or hear from her for many days.  I went to the capitol with my mother and best friend. I remember the large, quiet crowds at the Rotunda….

Are you old enough to remember?  Even if you aren’t, those powerful newscasts from 50 years ago vividly bring the events into our living rooms and make them real for you.

Has it really been an entire half century? It seems like yesterday.

Love at the ultra marathon – It may not be pretty, but it’s beautiful

A family cheered a daughter, a sister, and all runners

A family cheers a daughter, a sister, and all runners

If you believe Hallmark and sappy romantic comedies, you may think romance is tied up in soft music, red roses, and romantic candlelight dinners.

I was always a sucker for the Harlequin-style love affairs and walks on the beach with a bright full moon shimmering on the waves and glowing so brightly you could cast a shadow on the midnight sand.

Yep, I thought romance was intoxicatingly sweet perfume and champagne nights until I started volunteering at the Umstead 100-Mile Endurance Race.

Now I am convinced that true romance can be found not at a lovely symphony, but on a steep, rocky hill in the middle of the night, when the lights of a hundred headlamps are barely bright enough to light the way to an aid station.

True love is when your loved one is crying her eyes out because her feet hurt and all she wants to do is quit, and you love her and hate to see her in pain, but you know if you let her quit, she’ll be mad at you for the rest of your life, so as hard as it is to crack the whip and keep her moving, that’s just what you do.

True love is when your loved one finally sits down and takes off his shoes and socks to reveal the gnarliest, grossest blisters you have ever seen on a human foot, and you don’t even flinch; you just lay on the bandages.

True love is when your loved one is vomiting on the ground out in the middle of the woods and all you can do is try to get her to keep eating even though she can’t keep anything down.

True love is when your loved one is filthy and sweaty after running for 25 hours, yet you hug him and kiss him.

Jack Threadgill kisses his wife, Carolyn Quarterman, after she finishes her first 100-mile ultra marathon

Jack Threadgill kisses his wife, Carolyn Quarterman, after she finishes her first 100-mile ultra marathon

This kind of “they-may-be-crazy-to-run-100-miles-but-I-love-them-anyway-kind of romance was on full display last April when 250 ultra-marathon runners took to the pathways and trails of Umstead State Park in Raleigh, N.C. to push their limits, test their fortitude, and in many cases, try their loved ones’ devotion.

There were runners’ spouses who are not runners themselves; those spouses who had barely seen their loved ones on weekends, having handed them over to training partners for six months because of grueling running schedules.

Yet those same spouses, even those who became single parents during training months, who thought their loved ones were crazy for running 100 miles, were there. They camped out alongside the Umstead trails for an entire weekend, cheering on their crazy lovers, nursing their wounds, taking pictures, holding up signs, pacing them, and keeping them going.

If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.

The Umstead 100-Mile Endurance Run last April was a race for the lovers.

It was also a race for parents who rode the finish line all day and night waiting for their children to do the seemingly impossible, and going the extra mile to cheer for all of children of all the other parents who were also there anxiously watching and waiting.

It was a race for little kids whose parents were hoping to set good examples of how grit and determination could carry one through the toughest of tasks. Or perhaps they were simply proving that “crazy” actually does win in the end.

It was a race for best friends who set up their own aid stations and served as a combination of race crew, special needs providers and cheerleading squads.

It was a race for Bill and Sally Squier, a pair of feisty 70-year-old runners, who are beloved at the Umstead Race.

Bill has run the race every year since 1998.  Sally has run five Umstead ultra-marathons since 1998, while steadfastly serving as captain of the main aid station, “Sally’s Asylum.”

This year, the pair ran the race as a couple, to celebrate being 70 and fit enough to endure a 100-mile run, and to become the oldest couple to complete a 100-mile ultra marathon in under 30 hours together.

Bill and Sally Squier celebrate after finishing the Umstead Ultra Marathon. At 70, they become the oldest married couple to complete a 100-mile ultra marathon in regulation time.

Bill and Sally Squier celebrate after finishing the Umstead Ultra Marathon. At 70, they become the oldest married couple to complete a 100-mile ultra marathon in regulation time.

Each ran his and her own race. Most of the time, Bill maintained a slight lead over his bride, but she was able to catch up with him at the aid stations where they managed to spend a few quality moments together along their journey.

Bill finished his 100-miles, alone, in 28 hours and 19 minutes.

So he started waiting.

Someone brought a small, white plastic chair and set it down in front of the finish line, where Bill would have a good view of the chute.

From that vantage point, next to the timing tent, you can see the runners heading in from nearly a quarter mile away.

After running 100 miles, Bill was tired, and trying hard not to fall asleep.

He was hungry, and someone brought him an omelet.

He was shivering, and someone brought him a blanket.

He sat still, refusing to move from that spot, and kept his eyes trained on the trail ahead.

Minutes ticked by. Then an hour.

Bill kept his vigil in the chair, never wavering; watching for Sally.

A crowd was gathered behind the finish line. Some runners, who had wrapped up their races hours ago lingered in chairs and waited. Volunteers and other spectators who had been there for their own loved ones gathered around.

The Squiers’ children and grandchildren were close by.

A couple of photographers hovered.

Suddenly Sally appeared out of the woods and crossed a parking lot. She was just a speck at first, but her image grew larger as she drew closer.

Bill stood up, and I swear the look in his eyes was the same as a groom’s watching his bride walk down the aisle.

Blake Norwood stepped out of the race’s timing tent and took his place by Bill’s side, like a best man.

Sally had an entourage of female pacers – her bridesmaids.

After 29 hours and 52 minutes of running, walking and doing everything in her power to complete her 100-mile journey within the qualifying time of 30 hours, Sally walked across the finish, and straight into the arms of her husband.

I would not have been surprised if a minister had stepped out of the timing tent with Blake to perform a renewal of wedding vows.

There was not a dry eye at the finish line.

I couldn’t help but think about the vows you make when you say “I do,” and how those vows would play out at an ultra-marathon wedding.

You would take your husband or wife “for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, ‘and in ultra marathons’, to love and to cherish until death do you part.”

One of the great mysteries of life is the mystery of love.

At the Umstead Endurance Run on April 6 and 7, a little piece of that mystery was solved.

If you are willing to love someone through a grueling 100-mile run, you can probably love them through anything.

And that’s the truth.

Check out more photos from the 2013 Umstead 100-Mile Endurance Run here:

https://plus.google.com/photos/104562092652545953382/albums/5865031377718382833

Teri Saylor lives, runs and writes in Raleigh, N.C. Contact her at terisaylor@hotmail.com

Life in the South is best when driven by

Mobile Homes edited

Mobile Homes

Photo Gallery: Life in the South

Life in the south is best when driven by:

Sweet tea. Screen doors. Kudzu. The Blues. Country ham biscuits. Pimento cheese. Dinner on the grounds. Fried chicken. Deviled eggs. Bless your heart. Open windows in February. Porch sitting. Flip flops. Dogwood blossoms. Magnolia trees. Kinfolk. The Piggly Wiggly. Peach ice cream. Bluegrass and banjo picking. Grits and red eye gravy. Convertibles. Myrtle Beach. That giant peach next to the highway in Gaffney. Snapping turtles. Alligators. A mess of fish. The Bible Belt. Tobacco Road. Y’all. Snap beans. Grape leaf pickles. Chow chow. Tennessee Williams. Harper Lee. Selma. Mobile. Birmingham. Sweet Home Alabama. Southern Comfort. Pulled pork barbecue. Brunswick Stew. Hushpuppies. Roadside produce stands. Dirt track racing. Football. Roll, Tide. Bourbon. Mason jars. Moonshine. The Kentucky Derby. The Oakridge Boys. Dixie Melody Boys. Lord have mercy. Lynyrd Skynyrd. Shrimp and grits. The Redneck Riviera. Mama n’ em. Live oaks. Spanish moss. Savannah. Family secrets. Fields of cotton at sunrise. Butterbeans. Creamed corn. Scuppernong grapes and muscadines. June bugs. Tent revivals. Billy Graham. James Taylor. Pepsi. Nabs. Ceiling fans. Krispy Kremes. Tomato sandwiches. Charleston. Asheville. Memphis. Graceland. Beale Street. W.C. Handy. Returning thanks. Big Daddy. Maggie the cat. The Devil’s Stomping Ground. Pretty is as pretty does. Patsy Cline. Loretta Lynn. The Grand Ol’ Opry. R.C. Cola. Moonpies. Collards. Humidity. Banana pudding. The Mississippi Delta. B.B. King. Sun Records. Goo Goo Clusters. Elvis. Bill Clinton. Jimmy Carter. Peanuts. Cocolas. Chiggers. Lightning bugs. Bottle trees. Buttermilk. Let me hug your neck. The unbroken circle. Autoharps. Maybelle Carter. Sunday preaching. Amazing Grace. Little Rock. Oxford. William Faulkner. Quentin Compson. Thomas Sutpen. Memory. The good Lord. Chapel Hill. Calabash. Bubba. Sissy. Fried Okra. Dr. Pepper. Cheerwine. Dohickeys. Stanley and Stella. New Orleans. Juke joints. Sweet wine. Snipe hunting. Homemade sin. Jack Daniels. Little Zion Missionary Baptist Church. Johnny Cash. Norfolk Southern freight trains. Potluck. Watermelon rind pickles. Charlie Daniels. Pecan pie. Big ol’ trucks. Pompoms. Cypress knees. Pralines. Beignets. Community Coffee. Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn. Margaret Mitchell. Civil rights. Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Doc Watson. Earl Scruggs. The Blue Ridge Parkway. Tweetsie Railroad. Over yonder. Piddling. Flannery O’Connor. Truman Capote. Little Rock. Charlotte. Richard Petty. Dale Earnhardt. The graveyard. Corn in a jar. Fried tomatoes. Chicken n’ Dumplins. Fish camps. Youngins. The ocean at dawn. Sea turtles. Beach music. Crawdads. Dogwoods. Seersucker. Atticus Finch. Molasses cookies. Mayberry. Andy, Barney and Aunt Bea. Tomato Pie. Eudora Welty. Shelling peas. Snapping beans. Tobacco barns. Going to ride. Fishing in the sun. Give me some sugar. Southern renaissance. Thomas Wolfe. Gospel. Robert Johnson. Charlie Patton. Biloxi. Indianola. Sliced onions and cucumbers. Charlotte. Mashing buttons. Picking blackberries next to the road. Paper sacks. Possums. Face jugs. Saying grace. Yes ma’am. Free Bird. King Cake. Red clay. Maya Angelou. John Hope Franklin. Clarksdale. Atlanta. Sweet onions. Grandmaw. Grandpaw. Fried tomatoes. Cheese straws. Fried zucchini blossoms. Honeysuckle. Extra syllables. Mint julep. Raising Cain. Pig pickings. Grandpaw. Richmond. Monroeville. The Florabama. Margaritaville. Sweet gardenias. Succotash. A place. Mama and Daddy. Home.

Cat Show: Getting Their Claws On

So there was a cat show in town, and I know you think I live in a cat show, so why spend perfectly good money to see more cats?

Pretty Baby

Cats in cat shows are just like cats in our houses. They sleep.

But sometimes they sleep wearing little cowboy hats, probably dreaming of rounding up herds of mice out on the ranch.

After a hard day rounding up the little mouses, Hoss catches a little cat nap

A sleeping cat doesn’t care if he is wearing a silly hat. But stay away. When he wakes up and finds out what a human did to him, he’ll go to great lengths to avenge this humiliation. Which leads to the real reason for going to a cat show.  Cat show people!

Flash! New Years baby runs amok and attacks a woman at a cat show. Cat scratch fever, authorities speculate.

Some cats will wear frilly collars for treats.

Does this collar make my head look fat?

If I get out of this predicament, I will hunt you down and claw your eyes out as punishment, even if it takes 100 years.

Naked and exposed, and all I get is applause.

Are we having fun yet?

Bored and scared at the same time.

Jealous? Don't you wish you could be me? Me me me... But you are not me. Only I can be me and I deserve it.

Is that a toy on your head or are you glad to see me?