Seasons greetings and whatnot as we get ready to say goodbye to 2011. I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and may your New Year celebrations be even lovelier. This week’s news has a certain local flavor to it as we take a look at three Alabama stories that may or may not have personal connections (which I’ll get into).
We go first to the South Alabama town of Atmore (and the Atmore Advance) for a story about a wedding band tossed from a car, meth tossed from a back pocket and a certain meat-like product stolen from a gas station:
An intoxicated suspect wandering near Fountain prison and a stolen can of Spam led to the arrest of four people on drug charges Wednesday, sheriff’s deputies said.
All have been charged with possession of a controlled substance and precursors of chemicals used to create methamphetamines.
Twins Misty and Christy Faircloth of Walnut Hill, Fla., Richard Gohagin of Atmore, and Derek Price of Poarch, were arrested after one suspect was apprehended near the prison and found to be in possession of a controlled substance, officials said.
Deputies responded to a call of an unknown suspect walking close to the prison fence on Highway 21 next to Fountain Correctional Facility, Escambia County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Greg Forbes said.
“The prime subject was walking close to the fence next to the prison when correctional officers contacted their K-9 units into investigate,” he said. “They then called into us about the white male, and I arrived on the scene to find him appearing to be under the influence of a controlled substance. I asked him if he was under any controlled substances, which he said Adderall, which is a controlled substance. I then asked him if he had anything on his person to which he answered no. At the same time, he took his hand to his back pocket and tried to toss away a pink baggy that contained a controlled substance believed to be methamphetamines.”
After questioning the subject and taking him into custody, the subject was asked why he was walking next to the prison.
The subject’s answer soon followed with another call related to his incident that led to the other arrests, Forbes said.
“When asked why he was walking there, he said that he was looking for a wedding band that he threw out the window of his car,” he said.
“The car was at the BP station down the road waiting for him to call to pick him up. We then received a call from the BP reporting a theft had just occurred. The descriptions were of a white male and white female that had just stolen batteries, a can of SPAM and left in a white Grand Am.”
The suspect told Forbes he was waiting for a “white Grand Am.”
This story has it all. Meth. Spam. Marital strife. What more could you want?
Oh, and yeah, my cousin was one of the guys that got arrested.
This actually happened last month, but I just found out about it during the family’s Christmas festivities. Ma said that my cousin had been arrested, and she tried to find the newspaper story to show me, saying it was hilarious and something only my cousin could do. Yeah, she was pretty much spot on.
Here’s the screenshot from the website if you were too lazy to click:
Again, this story has it all. Those are actual cotton fields in the background. I’m serious. Meth, Spam and cotton. That’s what you all already think about Alabama, right? You’re welcome for your validated stereotypes, Constant Reader.
So let’s hear it for all the folks ever busted for stealing Spam and having a taste for meth — all four of them. This song’s for you:
(I’ve been on a crazy Social Distortion kick lately, by the way. More on this story when I do my next playlist post…next week?)
Our next story comes from The (Mobile) Press-Register (via al.com) on the closing of one of my favorite spots when I was a teenager:
The Krispy Kreme Doughnut shop at 1354 Government St. closed at 11 a.m. today, according to company officials, in part because the building didn’t fit the company’s new business plan.
“A lot of people are going to be sad because it closes one chapter, but it’s going to open another,” said Chris Brooks, a regional manager for the company.
Company officials considered the move for about a year and the deciding factor was an inability to put a drive-through service at the Government Street store. Sixty percent of the business at the company’s remaining store on Hillcrest Road is drive-through, Brooks said.
A plan to install drive-through service at Government Street store was abandoned because it would have forced all the parking for the store to be in the rear of the property, making it difficult for customers to access the store.
The Government Street store, which was hugely popular with late-night revelers from Mardi Gras and other celebrations, was the company’s third “main shop” location built by Joe McAleer, who began the business in 1953 in Prichard. He then moved the shop to the Loop area in 1956 and again to the Government Street store in 1971.
This was a giant bummer to hear about. You see, Government Street is just a block over from Dauphin Street…and 1255 Dauphin Street is the home of the Alabama School of Math and Science, your friendly blogmaster’s alma mater. The KK on Government was a short walk from the school, and boy, was it ever the place to go. My favorite thing to do on the weekends was stay up all night Friday or Saturday and then walk with whoever (because we had to leave the school in at least a pair) I could find for doughnuts, come back to the dorm and crash like whoa. Sigh. A little piece of my teenage life died when they turned out the “Hot n Now” sign for the last time.
Our final story comes again from al.com on how fruit flies are aiding the investigation into human obesity:
Biologist Laura Reed carried a living cargo in her car as she drove from North Carolina State to join the University of Alabama faculty: thousands of fruit flies — 200 separate, inbred lines of the small insects that live for about a month and are commonly considered kitchen pests.
But in Reed’s hands these nuisances that appear when the bananas turn black become powerful research tools for genetics.
The tiny creatures have helped her:
Win $1.4 million of NIH grant funding for five years.
Employ eight undergraduates and one graduate student engaged in cutting-edge research.
Open a possible window into a serious human disease — metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome, now seen in about one-third of Americans, is a group of factors in overweight people that put some of them at risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes. It is part of the obesity epidemic that has hit the U.S. — especially Alabama and the Southeast — and is a serious public health problem.
But how in the world, you might ask, can fruit flies — the tiny insects with six legs, red eyes and wings — tell us anything about human disease?
Reed explains that fruit flies share a similar biology with humans. Despite the vast evolutionary gulf between the insects and primates, the flies:
Can get heart disease as they age (though a very old fly is 60 days).
Produce insulin and can get diabetes.
Have a “fat body” that shares many traits with the human fat tissue, liver and immune system.
Fly genetics has been studied for more than a century, and fruit flies are inexpensive to grow and keep. They produce large numbers of offspring, and have short life spans, Reed said, which means experiments can be done quickly and economically.
And to think, I just exterminated thousands of these critters when they wouldn’t leave my stash of bananas alone. Pity.
That’s it for me, folks. I’m going to celebrate the New Year and pour one out for the old KK. Y’all have fun.
The Thrill is OUT.