JSU professor: American Indian site is gone OXFORD — A Jacksonville State University professor says an ancient American Indian site Oxford city officials agreed not to disturb has been destroyed, but he does not know by whom. City officials claim the site is still intact.
Law offers less protection for American Indian sites OXFORD — In Alabama, American Indian burial sites don't have as much protection as other graves and memorials. If someone knowingly invades a grave created in the last few hundred years it's a felony. But it isn't if you destroy a far older American Indian burial site on your property, officials with the Alabama Historical Commission say.
The hill's future The suitable course of action would be to turn Calhoun County's most controversial and notorious hill into Calhoun County's newest tourist attraction, replete with tasteful displays that pay homage to a people's past. Of course, that's an optimistic viewpoint. And as we've learned the last few weeks, almost nothing involving the city of Oxford's handling of the Native American stone mound behind Oxford Exchange gives off the sweet smell of sanguine thinking.
Historic preservation in Oxford Concerning the stone mound in Oxford: It is an undisputable fact that for the last 9,000 years people have lived in what is Alabama. If we try to preserve and protect every pile of rocks and every mound of dirt erected by these people, we might as well move to Oklahoma and return the land to its rightful owners, whoever they may be.
It's all natural in Oxford: Mayor's archaeological insight See, Oxford Mayor Leon Smith has been right all the time. He's now confirmed it, in writing, in a letter carrying his signature. The Native American stone mound that's causing so much consternation is indeed a stone mound, rock-upon-rock stacked atop what once was one of Calhoun County's most picturesque hills. But Smith, with assistance from what he termed Oxford's "archaeological advisers," says the stone mound is "the result of natural phenomena."
Of Ayers and Smith Star Publisher H. Brandt Ayers' recent column had factual information on Republican office-holders' foibles. A similar column could be written on elected Democrats currently serving. I thought he was condescending when he commented on Sarah Palin: "Poor thing, she really needs time off."
Any cocoon of stability that may have surrounded Anniston Middle School is now shattered. Last month, after decades of debate, the Anniston Board of Education voted to close the school on Alabama 21 and move its students to other campuses as part of a system-wide reorganization and cost-cutting measure. Last week, Superintendent Joan Frazier announced her retirement for June 2014, meaning someone else -- possibly from outside the system hierarchy -- will shepherd the system through the middle school’s closure. And Tuesday, the state Board of Education included Anniston Middle on its list of “failing” schools that, as part of the Alabama Accountability Act, will allow parents zoned for AMS to receive tax credits if they transfer elsewhere. For the Anniston Board of Education, the state board’s list of 78 “failing” schools represents two different headlines -- both significant. No other Anniston schools made the list. (For that matter, Anniston Middle was the only school in Calhoun County to be deemed “failing” by the state board.) Anniston High School, whose dropout and graduation rates have long been serious civic concerns, and the system’s five elementary schools are free of both the stigma and the practicality of being considered “failing” institutions. We are glad that’s the case. But the other headline didn’t bring a sigh of relief to a city desperate to use public education in its efforts to reinvent the city’s outlook on vital matters such as job creation, economic growth and crime reduction. A city without vibrant and well-supported public schools is a city that struggles to educate its children and sustain its future. A city without successful public schools is a city that faces stagnation and decline, not prosperity. That is Anniston’s struggle today. Our advice is to consider Anniston Middle School’s label as a “failing” school as part old news and part opportunity. Don’t overreact. Instead, see Anniston Middle as what it is -- a school already destined for closure. That’s not a rationalization; it’s a fact. What’s important now is the system’s still-developing reorganization that, once completed, is expected to lessen the system’s fiscal concerns. More important, still, is this community’s understanding that the education of the children within Anniston’s public schools must be a grade-A priority. It is not the priority solely of the city’s educators or its black community, whose children are overwhelmingly the majority of the city’s schools. It must be a priority for all who want Anniston to prosper. Make no mistake: We are disappointed that the state considers Anniston Middle School a “failing” school. But we cannot lose focus on the larger, vital picture -- the reinvention of Anniston’s school system and the improvement of its public education. The ailments are well known. Repairing them with hard work and rational decisions is the key.