Recent editorials from Alabama newspapers:

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Dec. 20

The TimesDaily on health care workers in Alabama getting a COVID-19 vaccine and the devastation from the pandemic:

Shortly after receiving his COVID-19 vaccination early Thursday morning, Helen Keller Hospital pulmonologist Dr. Lynn Ridgeway offered an observation that everyone in the Shoals area can agree with.

“This is a huge sign of hope,” Ridgeway said of the first round of vaccinations.

That sign of hope could not have been delivered at a more appropriate time. Since March, nearly 9,500 residents of the Shoals have tested positive for COVID-19, and 120 have died.

They were our family members, our friends. Their importance is lost in the cold reality of an ever-growing number of infections.

That was evident on Thursday as Helen Keller employees lined up to take their vaccinations just three days after one of their own, registered nurse Jennifer McClung, became the first frontline health care worker in the Shoals to die of this terrible disease.

The rapid surge in cases in the final two months of the year has driven home a harsh reality: Optimism has been difficult to come by throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Local people have had their livelihoods turned upside down as businesses termed “non-essential” were shuttered for weeks at a time.

Some businesses have closed their doors permanently. Others have limped through the year with smaller staffs and revised operational plans.

If truth be told, this is not the way we envisioned a new decade would begin. It has been very difficult for us all, and deeply painful for many.

When it became apparent mid-way through the year that things would not return to normal as soon as we hoped, we had to adapt and accept some life-changing habits. The disease has taught us some lessons about personal hygiene and the importance of social distancing. We have had to accept the reality of covering our nose and mouths to stem the spread of the disease.

Those practices will stay with us as we enter a new year.

As we close in on 2021, we should reflect often on the things that are truly important, like family, friends, our work, the meals we eat, the roofs over our heads. We have lost so much during 2020, but every loss should remind us to offer thanks for blessings that we too often take for granted.

Online: https://www.timesdaily.com/

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Dec. 17

The Decatur Daily on a woman who raised money to give a grocery store employee in Alabama a bike and other gifts:

Tabitha Smothers brought the spirit of Christmas to life last week after her social media campaign led to 17 bags of gifts and a new bicycle for a Decatur grocery store employee.

Smothers decided to take action after overhearing the Kroger employee bagging her groceries recently mention that he planned to walk home in the rain since his bike was broken.

She began by asking through social media for donations to buy a new $65 sprocket to repair the bicycle used by Trayvon Bailey, 38.

Instead, Smothers ended up with enough gifts to fill a sleigh as the community demonstrated its generosity and caring.

“I was shocked, like wow, people did that (for me),” Bailey said after a surprise presentation of the gifts at the Kroger in Decatur where he works. “(I was) very surprised. This made my Christmas.”

Counting the bike and accessories, Smothers’ Facebook friends raised more than $1,500 for Bailey. She said about 50 people donated.

Gifts included a brand-new coat, four pairs of jeans, khaki pants, two short-sleeve dress shirts, six long-sleeve dress shirts, two casual long-sleeve shirts, a 12-pack of socks, three sweatshirts, shoes, two thick zip-up fleece jackets, Bibles for Bailey and his mom, a blanket for his mom, a Bath & Body Works set for his mom and other items.

The initiative shown by Smothers is admirable. It’s also a reminder of how a seemingly small action can lead to big results.

Online: https://www.decaturdaily.com/

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Dec. 16

The Dothan Eagle on an Alabama county measure that would ban recordings in public buildings:

Recently, a private citizen stood on a public sidewalk taking video footage of an intersection near the entrance to the emergency room at Southeast Health. Before long a hospital security guard came out and told him he could not take footage there. The man explained he was capturing vehicles, including emergency vehicles, rolling through a stop sign without properly stopping.

The internet is filled with similar videos from people who call themselves “First Amendment auditors.” They appear in public buildings or at crime or accident scenes and begin filming. The point, apparently, is to draw authorities into a confrontation; at least the clips that appear online feature such confrontations.

This week, the Houston County Commission agenda included a measure that would ban recording in public buildings, ostensibly in an attempt to stymie such confrontations.

Some commissioners balked, citing potential constitutional concerns.

Those concerns are valid. While there are no definitive cases regarding photography, still or video, in the public realm, there have been many cases in which jurists have weigh such conduct against First Amendment concerns. The threshold is low, requiring the action to be communicative photography meant to convey a message to an audience. The intent to publish a photograph or video online, with or without written explanation, would seem to satisfy that requirement.

We appreciate that behavior apparently meant to incite public officials can be annoying and distractive. However, knee-jerk passage of questionable restrictions would be ill-advised unless the elected body is prepared to defend the measure in litigation almost certain to follow.

Online: https://dothaneagle.com/