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Kelly Melang, writer, business owner, avid fitness freak.  If you're not living on the edge then you're taking up too much space!

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Takeaway from Yesterday's Town Council Meeting

Yesterday’s Council meeting was well attended and resulted in several significant decisions and useful information. For those of you unable to attend, Council meetings are now being live streamed over the internet so you can watch without being there.
          As a first item, Tim and Robert addressed the circumstances surrounding the water valve incident at Buckeye prior to Thanksgiving. Using the questions I submitted to the Council, they handed out a response sheet and did a summary presentation. In brief, it is clear to me that there was a lot of misinformation spread about the incident (further addressed below) and the Town handled the entire issue appropriately. 
          Here are the facts addressed. Because Buckeye Reservoir is a stream impoundment, the Army Corps of Engineers requires the Town to keep a certain water flow in Buckeye Creek below the dam. The valve, installed in 1984, is a 4 foot by 4 foot gate about 37 feet under water, controlled by a long iron pipe and screw gate. It is regularly opened to release water. On October 15, representatives of the Town met with representatives of various federal agencies to seek a change in the minimum release requirements. As part of that issue, the Town was asked to install stream flow gauges, as well as inspect and operate the valve. The Town retained an experienced dive contractor to complete this operation. The work needed to be done in the fall in case there was a release, to allow the Laketo refill. Town employees were aware of the risks involved in operating the valve.
          The contractor’s divers worked filming and operating the valve on November 20. At some point in the operation the valve rod bent due to water pressure, leaving the valve partially open and causing water to flow at a high  rate of speed through the valve. A diver working to determine what had occurred was sucked partially into the gate and became stuck. In a 4 hour rescue operation, involving about 45 people, the diver was rescued.  The valve, however, could not be closed until the Lake was drained. Once the Lakewas drained, the valve was closed and is now stuck in that position. The valve is operational, but the mechanism to open and close it will need to be entirely rebuilt. 
          The Town immediately declared a water emergency and implemented its emergency plans. The total cost of responding was about $60,800. An after action meeting has occurred and several issues requiring corrective action identified and implemented. Chief Pudney stated that this was an extraordinary rescue and many similar incidents result in death. Fortunately, this diver has recovered. Various individuals were recognized at the meeting for their efforts during the rescue.
          In other business, new appointments to various Town boards will be made in January and anyone interested in applying should do so. A motion for the Town to financially support the Resort’s bus service failed for lack of a second, but in subsequent discussion it was clear that a majority of the Council believes this is an issue better left to the TDA. By motion, the Council has agreed to allow a second public comment period at the end of each Council session, but only for those items addressed in the agenda. Finally, Council has set a public hearing on the proposed leash law ordinance for the January meeting. It is clear that the proposed ordinance currently has a 3 (Renee, Wendell and Barry) vote majority, but please make your thoughts known to Council. The annual planning retreat will take place in Council chambersJanuary 15 and the public is invited to attend, as well as submit issues and suggestions to Council prior to the meeting.
          Finally, a personal note. It was clear to me from public comments yesterday that social media is the 21st century equivalent of the game of telephone and should not be trusted when it comes to Town issues. If you see something on social media about Town matters, please do not further broadcast it until you have confirmed it with a Town employee or elected official. Two examples will illustrate the problem. First, much of the information spread about the valve problem was simply wrong. Second, the Town and TDA purchased one large ornament. There are no plans to purchase any others and any suggestion to the contrary are also wrong. Please do not spread false information on social media. Thanks and I look forward to seeing everyone at the January meeting.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

WTF - Getting Ready for the Weekend

Guys! They are calling for the possibility of two feet of snow in the High Country, or maybe not or maybe more! Gotta love North Carolina weather!  If you want to take a break from skiing here’s some great things happening in area resorts:

Appalachian Ski Mountain - Burton Ringlet Park Tour The Burton Riglet Park Tour is a mobile product demo and mini-snowboard park geared towards introducing children as young as 2 to the sport of snowboarding. A custom children’s learning terrain area will be provided at the base of ASM and Burton Snowboard experts will be offering a free “introductory terrain park experience” for children ages 2 to 6. Registration starts at 9am - noon. This is a free event but a helmet is required. Ice skating is also available.

Jones House Christmas Tree Lighting - Come to the community center from 5-8pm m on Friday for the lighting of the tree. Christmas music, Christmas goodies. 

Watauga Christmas Parade - Come Saturday and enjoy all the sights and sounds of the holidays with the parade down Main Street in Boone. The parade runs from 11-1pm with SANTA!

Watauga Community Band Annual Holiday Concert - this free concert is Saturday at ASU - Rosen Concert Hall, Broyhill Music Center from 7-830pm. 

Tweetsie Christmas - Tweetsie Railroad is decked out with Christmas lights for the train ride. A great holiday event, sessions are timed and open for all ages. Tickets are 38/per person children under 2 are free.

Sugar Mountain Sugarfest - Fest runs Dec 7 - 9th Come meet 1992 Olympic figure skating silver medalist Paul Wylie live music with Glen Harlow & North Fork Band, fireworks, preseason adult ski clinic, EDGE of the WORLD mini-games, appearances by Sweetie and Sugar Bear! For the schedule visit http://www.skisugar.com/sugarfest/

Banner Elk Small Town Christmas Weekend - festivities include a 5K run, breakfast with Santa, lighting the yule log, lighting the community Christmas tree. Fun for all ages. For the schedule visit https://www.bannerelk.com/members/small-town-christmas/ 

Beech Mountain Resort - Get some great winter storm skiing this weekend, ice skating is now open. With 6 inches of fresh snow and snowmaking temperatures, all week look for more terrain to open soon. Snowmaking on the tubing runs is in action as well.

Beech Mountain Brewing Beer Release Party - Come to Bodegas in Banner Elk at 5pm for Beech Mountain Brewery & Sierra Nevada’s launch of their Beer Camp Beech Season IPA. Live music from Handlebar Betty, food specials and a silent auction benefitting the Wooly Worm Festival (canceled the second day because of hurricane damage)

RECklESS Rail Jam Presented By Recess - Come to ride and have fun or come to watch these people throw it down. This is a free event in the Park of Beech Mountain Resort open to snowboarders of all levels.  Basic rail setup. Running from 9-5pm

Grandfather Mountain is offering dollar days for the month of the December. All local residents with a proof address can enter the park for $3/each. Visitors with Christmas trees on their car or a receipt from a local farm also receive a discount.

Catalooche - Come Thursday night for Backcountry Film Festival @ Sierra Nevada Brewing with Raffle Benefitting the Asheville Ski & Development Team. Tickets are $10/each or $12 at the door. Enjoy 9 films along with a raffle benefitting Asheville Ski Club Ski & Development Team.

Warren Haynes Christmas Jam - in nearby Asheville, enjoy a two-day music festival of music! Jam runs Friday and Saturday with daily and two day passes available. This year’s Christmas Jam House will be built in Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity’s newest neighborhood, Curry Court in Candler, which will become home to 12 families and will include both single family homes as well as townhomes. This jam, in its 29th year, has raised over 2.3 million for Habitat for Humanity.

There’s always plenty to do on the snow and off the snow in North Carolina!




Friday, November 30, 2018

Buckeye Reservoir Questions to Town Council

This is an email going around the town of Beech Mountain on our water situation. I wanted to share it with you in case you didn't see it. Big thanks to Urs for getting this moving for the December Town Council Meeting. If you are not on the email chain, let me know and I can forward email addresses.

As discussed with Renee, I have drafted a series of questions, attached, answers to which I believe are the minimum needed for taxpayers to have a better understanding of how this incident happened and how to prevent similar events. While I still believe an outside investigation is needed, I hope that these answers and the documentary evidence will
suffice. If any questions are unclear, please let me know. Urs

In order to better understand the facts and circumstances surrounding the loss of water at Buckeye Lake on November 20, 2018 and to ensure we are better prepared in the future, answers to the following questions are needed. In all cases, any documents supporting the relevant answers need to be provided. Any references to Town employees include contractors working for the Town under pre-existing contracts, such as contracts with West Consultants.

The Valve

1. When was the valve at issue installed?
2. What is the valve’s purpose?
3. What state or federal regulatory agencies have any jurisdiction over the valve or its functioning?
4. When was the last time, prior to the day of the incident, that the valve had been opened and closed?
5. What correspondence has the Town had in the past three years with any state or federal agencies about the valve?

The Dive Contract

1. What prompted the Town to contract with a dive company to inspect the valve?
2. Was there a Request for Proposal issued by the Town?
3. If so, describe the scope of work in the RFP.
4. How many bidders were there for the contract?
5. What was the scope of work in the final signed contract?
6. Who selected the contractor?
7. Was the contractor required to have general liability insurance?
8. When was the contract to be performed?
9. Who was to supervise the scope of work?
10. Was the contractor tasked to open and close the valve?
11. If so, was there any discussion about the possible adverse consequences to water levels at Buckeye Lake if the valve could not be closed?
12. Was there any discussion about using a coffer dam or other method to isolate the valve from the lake to facilitate inspection?

The Incident

1. What employees of the Town were present while the divers were at Buckeye Lake?
2. Describe, using eyewitness testimony, what occurred at Buckeye Lake on November 20, 2018, starting from when the divers arrived until the diver was rescued.
3. What, if any, instructions did the divers receive from any Town employee on November 20, 2018, prior to the diver’s leg becoming entangled?
4. Who decided to open the valve on November 20, 2018?
5. Was there any discussion on November 20 about the possible adverse consequences to Buckeye Lake levels if the valve could not be closed?
6. Was there an emergency plan in place in the event that the valve could not be closed?

Emergency Response

1. Did the Town have a written emergency plan to deal with a sudden loss of water at Buckeye Lake?
2. If so, was that plan executed?
3. If so, what were the parameters of that plan?
4. What was the total cost to the Town to supply water by tanker and to supply bottled water?
5. Has there been an after action meeting of Town employees about the incident and the response?
6. If so, what deficiencies were identified?
7. If so, what changes, if any, were proposed to any Town policies or emergency plans?



Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Beech Mountain - Questions and Answers About Our State Of Emergency

As many know and experienced, Beech Mountain had state of emergency over the Thanksgiving Holiday Weekend resulting in water shortages.

Residents pulled together, conserving as much water as they could helping the town get through this emergency! Shout out to the residents!

The town did a fine job of keeping the water flowing, including bringing water up in tanker trucks while working round the clock over a holiday weekend closing the valve and getting our water levels back up to acceptable by Sunday.

I asked Tim Holloman a few questions and thought I would share with you the results.

Many people are asking why this work was done during a holiday week when we knew the mountain was going to be busy. It would be nice for the town to let us know. Was this the only time we could get a diver? Was it a maintenance schedule?
  • "Kelly, thanks for reaching out.  The time for this work was carefully thought out and dependent on the contractor’s work schedule.  The months of September, October and November are the best in regards to surface and groundwater recharge.  The work was supposed to be clean, video and assess. No repair work was planned.  This is just one of many routine projects and we don’t notify the public unless it has any effect on the operation.  If there was no accident, nothing would have been impacted.  The Town uses divers on a regular basis to clean water tanks, etc.  This is part of trying to reduce the amount of water that we have to release on a regular basis and to be in compliance with our existing state permit.  This, in turn, affects the larger project of trying to get a freshwater intake to the Watauga River."

There are many also saying that we had the grant to get this fixed four years ago but the town didn't want to spend the money. Included in this is that the valve hadn't been serviced in 10 years.  
  • "I’m not aware of any grant that we didn’t get or use.  I believe that prior councils had been informed of the work that needed to be done, but was not funded.  If I find out differently, I will follow up."

I heard the diver had broken limbs and surgery and wanted to see if this was true also. All the news reports said just hypothermia.
  • "No broken limbs and he was released Wednesday evening from the hospital."
  • Kelly -  (THIS IS AMAZING NEWS! THANK GOD!)
  • Kelly - I also talked to some of the first responders. The diver was on an umbilical cord type oxygen so there was no worry of air running out. First responders pumped warm water to the diver keeping hypothermia at bay. Another shout out to our First Responders and their hard work saving this man's life!

Also, has this now solved the problem? Or is it part of other items. 
  • "The problem with the gate is not fixed, just closed.  Engineers and staff are working on the fix and there is no document available at this time.  The “looksee” was the purpose of the divers to craft a plan and document for repair at a later date."
I saw most of the Press Releases on Facebook, so if you are not a friend of the town you may want to add them to your friend list.



Make sure, if you haven't, sign up for CodeRed phone calls from the town. This is a great way to stay informed on everything from events affecting traffic to road closures, to public works work to everything that happened this past weekend.


Now go ahead and finish your laundry congratulating yourself and the Town of Beech Mountain for pulling this one out!

Would love to hear your thoughts or other questions?

Monday, November 19, 2018

WTF - Cold Weather Driving

Plan A or B for That Trip

Traveling to ski resorts takes some planning. From getting your equipment together to getting the family in the car on time to get to the slopes on time. I always start my winter season with planning on Plan B, C, or D when it means traveling to the slopes. That means putting together my winter kit for my car.

What is a winter kit? It is a kit for the trunk of your car for winter travel. We all know that driving the roads of ski resorts can be tricky during winter weather and have read news about road closures due to accidents. Keep a few things in your car in case you could get stuck on your way to a ski resort or the time to travel is much longer than expected.

I buy a grocery store cooler type bag for my kit. This is a square bag with a silver lining designed for summer keeping perishables from spoiling. The cooler type bag will keep things dry and separated from the other items of your trunk.

In my box, I keep:

First Aid Kit
Several blankets, if you get stuck and there are several people in the car you may want to conserve gas by turning the car off at times. This provides warmth for each person in the car.
Hand Warmers - there is nothing more comforting than a nice pair of hand warmers.
Several pairs of hats and gloves - you will thank me when changing a tire on a frozen day.
Bottles of water - even if they get frozen, keep several in your car. A car once went off the road during winter and no one saw it down the embankment until a day later. Luckily she had bottles of water!
Granola bars - keep them in a plastic bag so the bears do not smell them during their fall foraging trips. 
Flashlights and extra batteries
Battery Powered Radio
Kitty Litter - I buy the 5 lb bucket. This is perfect if you get stuck, the litter providing traction. The bucket also adds extra weight for travel.
Booster Cables and Flares
Matches and Small Candles
A Fully Charged portable battery for cell phones

A lot of people keep a 2x4 in the trunk of the car for protection if needed but it also becomes a great accessory if a car gets stuck in the snow or mud. Tie the 2x4 to the tire, it will give the tire added traction.

Finally always fill the gas tank prior to climbing a mountain! In my book Views From 5506, I never go up the mountain without at least a 3/4 tank during winter. My son learned it the hard way. He ran out of gas, a local stopped and asked if they were alright. He said he ran out of gas, the guy laughed, called them rookies and left them to figure it out. Lesson learned.

Of course, if you don’t feel like doing all the work, there’s plenty of emergency survival kids available through amazon.com and other outlets. A quick Google search will show many results.

I know this sounds like a lot. But once you move from moderate temperatures to where temperatures can turn extreme it is always a good idea to be over prepared! Keep this kit in the garage and put it in your car for your trips up to the slopes, or simply keep it in there for the winter season. Once summer rolls along, I usually pair it down with summer necessities or switch it out for my summer kit.


Don’t get caught wishing you had a Plan B when Plan A on the road doesn’t work out.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

WTF - Why I Put Up Christmas Decorations Early

12:01 November 1st and as soon as I walk into Lowes Hardware there are Christmas trees everywhere! Seriously, the first truckload of Christmas trees has already traveled down Main Street Banner Elk.

Wait a minute, isn't it still fall?

Don't we have to get past Thanksgiving first?

My son sent me this.
Of course not, Hallmark has already started it's Christmas movies full of matching pajamas, hot cocoa in front of the fire, and of course horse-drawn sleighs.

Not me, I say. I'm keeping my fall decorations!

Until Mother Nature had a better idea.

Two days past Halloween every single flower on my mums was gone.

Eaten.

My hubby looked at the green stalks declaring, "Now that's a plant."

But I wasn't going to give up, I still had my pumpkins.....

Sort of.

I noticed one pumpkin had been attacked that night, the side of it looking like a werewolf from Halloween ripped it open. But that's OK, I just turned it around.

Until the next night, it was split open and someone feasted on its gooey insides.

Still undaunted I moved my last remaining pumpkin up on my deck, figuring that will keep it intact until Thanksgiving, right?

Wrong.

The squirrel was stealthy. I could see the pumpkin outside my kitchen window while I sipped my Pumpkin Spice coffee. Looked normal enough.

Until the head popped out.

Of the hole in the back. The damn squirrel was inside my pumpkin eating!

But that's OK, the outside still looked fine.

For two more days, then the entire thing collapsed.

Mums gone, pumpkins are gone. I put out my fake pumpkins, figuring that will last until Thanksgiving.

Right?

Nope, someone took them and made off with them.

I can see the bear looking at my pumpkins thinking, "Wow, those look perfect." Running off with them into the woods only to find they are made of styrofoam.

Oh well, I wonder if the animals eat mistletoe?

When do you officially give up on fall decorations and get out the Christmas tree?

Thursday, October 25, 2018

WTF - Pelman Story - Don't Tase Me Dude!

Inspired by my brother in law Gary and a few incidents at school!  Enjoy!

What did you say, Officer?

Jack and Penny walked into the Pelman on a cold 62-degree day for Pearlington, MS. Big Daddy with his afternoon shine at the table, Peggy Lou with a big plate of cocktail wienies on the table between them, her martini in a tall glass with “foxy lady” painted on the front.

“Do you have a cocktail wienie radar, Jack?” Big Daddy asked, “The minute this plate of hot goodness hit the table you come walking in.”



Jack moved over to the pantry, first finding the mason jar of shine, grabbing a juice and pouring a healthy shot. Everything about Jack was dramatic that day, down to the pouring of his libation. Penny sat at the table as Jack downed the shot, coughed, then poured another one. “Darlin?” Peggy said gaining Jack’s attention so he would pour her a glass.

“I’m sorry baby, I’m still so stressed. I can’t believe I almost forgot about you, baby.” He poured her a shot, added a little more to his glass moving to the kitchen table.

“Jesus Jack, you are not spending the night are you?” Big Daddy asked looking at the amount of shine in Jack’s glass.

Jack sat next to his wife, taking a big sip from his glass, explained the healthy shot, “We almost got shot today Big Daddy! Shot I say!”

The room stilled, the drama sitting in the corner with the usual Pelman gamily gorilla in the room. Everyone took a sip from their glass, Big Daddy looked at his son in law and daughter saying, “How did that happen? Were you two caught again in public?”

Jack Quickly replied, “Now Big Daddy we have our own testing lab at work now. That doesn’t happen anymore. No, we almost died at Dillon’s school.”

Big Daddy replied, “What were you doing at Dillon’s school, does Gay and Myrtle know you were there?”

Penny nodded, “Yes, Dillon invited us as part of career day. Otis was there talking about real estate, Gay demonstrated hair cutting techniques, he even brought in a few zombies from the set of Catfish Hunters From Hell. The kids were very impressed. Otis brought his rental contracts in and went over all the different ways his tenants are getting out of their contracts and screwing him on the deposit. I don’t think the 5th graders understood.

Did you know that Otis has one room in his condo building he rents by the hour? He says he gets a lot of truckers that need a quick nap before moving through town. And some even clean the room so he doesn’t have to? He says he still keeps their 50 dollar cleaning fee anyway. Otis said he made close to 10K last year telling the kids in the class it is all about marketing, if you don’t market then you’re in the shit.”

Big Daddy thought about this, “Yes, we market our product quietly, marketing is everything.”

Peggy Lou’s eyebrows went up, “You two were there talking about your careers?”

Jack shook his head, “No, but that would be a great lecture. All the testing that goes into our products and how we were able to get a 98.2 percentage failure rate up two points from 98%. That’s a lesson in math, and business, and love!” He looked over to his Penny who blushed.

Penny added in, “But we weren’t there as part of career day.”

“Would have been an interesting career day,” Jack said.

“You got that right,” Big Daddy answered.

“Were there substitute teaching for Healthful Living for the 7th grade,” Penny said, “But we did stick a little business in there for career day. So the kids got a double shot from us! We even told them all the mistakes we made that built our large family. But every child is gift from God.”

“Yes, they are even if we were not ready for them” Jack added, “I mean I really thought I had the time to finish wallpapering the trailer before Shannon came along, but as everyone knows, we’re fertile.”

“Amen,” Penny and Peggy Lou said together.

“How does teaching healthful living almost get you shot?” Big Daddy asked trying to follow Jack’s logic.

So Otis and Gay were there?” Peggy Lou asked, “Did they get shot?”

“No, no one got shot, but we almost did. They helped us thought,” Penny said.

Jack hung his head, looking over to his wife, “I must admit, I made a few mistakes.”

“Mistakes?” Peggy Lou asked.

“Yeah, things just didn’t work the way I thought.  Part of my presentation included raising funds for My Confederacy. I made sure I wore my re-enactment uniform to teach them about our history and the importance of it,” Jack said.

Big Daddy and Peggy Lou nodded, “Yes, our Southern history is important even if you are wearing the uniform of the other side.”

Jack nodded, saying, “We all know I was named after that as Jackson, but I need to be proud of who I am.”

“Ulysses S. Grant didn’t have a gun, so who was shooting at you?” Big Daddy asked.

Jack took another sip of his shine, “It wasn’t my gun, it was a total misunderstanding.”

Penny added in, “It didn’t help that Darlene, that prepper, was in charge of the carpool line.”

Big Daddy lost his temper, “What the hell happened?”

Jack went into his story, his hand slightly shaking as he talked, “So, after career day, we were leaving and Gay got a call that one of his actors on Catfish Zombies quit mid-episode and in full hair and makeup. They needed him out there to get the standby settled in.” Jack looked over to his wife, “Gay told me he can take any type of flour, including whole wheat and turn it into zombie paint. It has something to do with…”

“Jackson, back to the point,” Big Daddy said exasperatedly.

“We, that means Penny and I, told Gay to go ahead and go, we’ll get the boys since we are here at the school anyway. It was already too late for us to go back for more testing at the factory and we missed those days waiting in the carpool line.” Penny said.

“Most of our time we were the last ones coming into the carpool line, and coming in hot,” Jack said.

“The carpool line honey,” Peggy Lou urged Jack on after seeing Big Daddy’s face turn red.

Jack went back to the subject, “So the carpool line. We move our car behind Otis’s black SUV, he’s there picking up his grandchild Airwrecka. Who names a child that?”

“It’s pronounced Erica, a lot of people name their child that,” Penny said to her husband, “She’s just trying to stand out.”

“The story,” Big Daddy grunted out.

“So we are all waiting together, there in the carpool line. I will not say we shared a little Fountain of Youth while waiting, but it was just a little. You know talking in front of a bunch of kids can be pretty nerve-wracking,” Jack said.

“How does this equate to guns being pulled?” Big Daddy asked.

“Well, you know how I love to multi-task. Test the condoms watch the Walking Dead Marathon. Wait in carpool, get errands done,” Jack said.

“Yeah, so what does,” Big Daddy started.

Jackson held up his hand, “I told Otis we are a good 30 minutes before the kids come out. I’m going to run over to Ye Olde Tackle Shop next door. I asked him to save my space, as Myrtle and Penny were already inside the school trying to sign out kids out early.” He looked over to Penny, “I can’t believe Gay does not have us on the sign out sheet at school. What if something happens to Marshall or Dillon and he’s out in the bayou shooting movies and Myrtle cannot be reached? They know you but still made you produce an ID that you are a Pelman THEN tell you that you cannot check the boys out? Delmar put Otis on the sign out sheet for Airwrecka but didn’t add us there either. Do you think they think we are irresponsible?”

“For Pete’s sake Jack, if you do not get back to the story, I’m going to choke you,” Big Daddy said.

“So leave Otis with my Hummer and head over to Ye Olde Tackle Shop,” Jack says.

“I know Ye Old Tackle shop, he’s one of my back door distributors,” Big Daddy said.

Jack nodded, “Yes, and he always gives me a good deal when I go in there, something we trade favors especially when Gunther Hoestin got married. I mean, really? Who combines tackle and fishing as part of their bachelor party?”

“A tackle shop owner dear,” Penny replied.

“So you left the school parking lot and walked over to the tackle shop? You don’t fish?” Peggy Lou asked.

“Right,” Jack said, “I went to visit with Tatum and his brother Russell about a few things. They always take such good care of me and participate in all of our civil war re-enactments. I’m busy visiting with when I hear the school bell go off and I’m late. It usually takes 10 minutes after the bell for the carpool line starts moving, I knew I had plenty of time to walk back to my car. Plus Otis and I were pretty far back in line, I swear the people in the front of the line have to drop their child off then circle the school and get back in the carpool line.” Jack looked over to Penny, “The carpool lines reminds me of the lines outside the liquor store when the good bourbon gets in, a lot of people arguing about who’s first and how slow the line moves along.”

“I’m still lost at where the shots fired come in,” Peggy Lou said.

Jack continues his story, “So as I am leaving, Tatum reminds me he finished my project and it is ready to go. Did you know he also has a full essential oil selection in the drawers in the back of the tackle shop? If I had more time I’d stay and try out his Calm Blend but I had to get back to the boys. He knows I’m running behind and just hands me my stuff and tells me to come back and pay him later. If I don’t he’ll just take the payment out of the Fountain of Youth fund.”

“You better pay your bills,” Big Daddy says.

“I always pay my bills one way or another,” Jack replies, “So I’m running toward the carpool line hoping it wasn’t moving yet. Pissed off parents in the carpool line are worst that Yanks on the battlefield.
Big Daddy picked up a cocktail wienie, admired it then popped it into his mouth. Carpool and tackle shop, what a combination.

Jack reached for a wienie, Big Daddy slapping his hand away. “Finish your story, I need to know if I should expect the police at my house tonight.”

Jack went back to his shine, saying, “So I go running back with my packages and as I’m moving to my spot in the carpool line a bunch of Moms start pointing to me screaming. Me! Most of them even know me, I’m harmless. Except for you,” he said to Penny with a wink.

Jack added, “I look over to Otis and he looks sheepish, slinking down in the seat of his car. The moms are pointing to me, on their cellphones. I have no idea what is going on.”

“Then.”

“Can you believe it?” Jack asks the silent room.

“What?” Big Daddy asks breathlessly.

“So the school officer comes out with a gun yelling at me, Don’t move or we’ll shot!”

Penny crosses herself, “Swear to God.”

“I’m looking like what the hell is going on, I’m just a little late to get into my car in the carpool line, is that warrant of shooting me? Otis is no help, I look over to him and he’s almost on the floor of his SUV pretending no one is pointing a gun at me. Penny is coming back out of the school because mind you, Gay did not put us on his sign out sheet so we have to wait in the carpool line. And honestly, what difference does it make when we sign them out early or wait in the carpool line. Are they every checking IDs when it comes to carpool, I think not.”

“I’m still confused about why they are pointing guns at you,” Big Daddy says.

“They then say, ‘Drop the weapon’ and I have no idea what they are talking about,” Jack says, “I say ‘What weapon’ glad the uniform I’m wearing is dark because I’ve actually slightly peed myself.”

Big Daddy scoots his chair away.

Jack is long in his story, “So I yell ‘I have no weapons” with their guns pulled they point.”

“I think I am going to die. I wonder what they are pointing at?” Jack says.

“What are they pointing at?” Peggy Lou asks.

“Then I realize it is not a gun because none of the guns I own would fit into the time period of the re-enactments I perform. They are pointing to the two sabers I’m holding.” I look over to the school and all the little kids' faces are plastered to the windows as the teachers are trying to put the kids in lockdown.

“Drop the knives,” the policeman yells.

“They are not knives,” I yell back, “They are sabers. Don’t they realize these are period weapons from the Civil War? That I use them in my re-enactments?”

Otis, I think sensing my discomfort about the possibility of being killed, gets out of his car, “Officer, I’m Otis Pelman and I own…”

The school officer yells, “Don’t move.” I can hear the cop cars in the distance. This school resource officer means business.

“Drop the knives!” He yells at me again, this time I figure I’ll educate him later about the difference between guns and sabers and drop my newly sharpened sabers to the asphalt of the parking lot. As I drop the sabers, one falls toward me and everyone knows Ye Olde Tackle Shop is meticulous about sharpening tools so I jump so it doesn’t cut me. Plus I didn’t want it to cut my uniform. I’ve paid a lot of money to keep everything authentic.”

Penny jumped in, “So he jumps and the next thing I know my husband gets tased. Can you believe it? He drops down to the parking lot and starts flopping around like a seal, his mouth gaping. And I’m like, ‘oh my God he’s gonna get dirt on that uniform!’ So while Jack here is doing the worm on the ground, Otis steps toward him with a ‘what the hell’ and the carpool police tase him too!”

“It was the most god-awful feeling Big Daddy. I felt like I was on fire!” Jack’s hand’s shook as he sipped his shine. “I look over to Otis who looks like me writhing on the ground and he yells, ‘You got me into this Jack!’ I can’t say anything because my mouth won’t move.”

“What did you do?” Big Daddy asked forgetting about the cocktail wienies.

“So I let the rent a cop zip-tie me because I’m not getting tased again, and at this point there are five cop cars into the parking lot, bypassing all the other carpoolers waiting for their children. I’m thinking what a hell of a way to get to the head of the carpool line.”

“The rent a cop is pushing my sabers out of the way and I’m like ‘hey, I just had those sharpened. They are expensive!’ But he doesn’t look at me, he’s busy zip-tieing Otis.” Jack says.

Penny adds, “I did tell them to not scratch the sabers.”

Jack looks to his wife, “I love you, baby.”

“I love you too,” replies Penny.

“What happened next?” Big Daddy asked calming down that tragedy was averted his attention back to the cocktail wienies.

“Otis and I wake up in the back of a police car. Penny is out there zip-tied talking to a police officer. Otis is saying ‘I’ve got to kick out a tenant today for raising geese in my backyard. I don’t have time for this shit.’ He looks at me as the policeman looks in the window. ‘It’s all his fault,’ he says gesturing his head toward me. He threw me under the bus! My other brother in law? Especially since we are zip-tied together in the police car!”

Big Daddy nods, “Yes, he will lose his bond on the Heaven’s Gate nursing home if he gets arrested.”

“So Otis is sweet talking the police as another picks up my sabers. Darlene, that damn prepper is coming at me with a Glock in her hand. I’m yelling, ‘she’s got a gun!’ but the policeman tells me she’s got a license and she’s trained with the Pearlington police department as they made her an honorary deputy. She’s sticking her head in the window, ‘You’re not going to kill our children, not on my watch!”

Jack sighs, “I yell back, ‘I don’t want to kill your children. I’m just getting my sabers.’ But she’s busy checking my zip ties, are they tight enough?”

“Thank God, Chief Fontaine comes over to the car, he opens the door where I’m sitting and looks at me.”

“What the hell,” he asks me, “Now you and I know this is all big misunderstanding but it is illegal to have weapons in a school safe zone. Why the knives?”

“They are not knives, they are sabers and I just had them sharpened at Ye Olde Tackle Shop,” I tell Officer Fontaine.

“Sabres qualify as a weapon. So I’m going to haul ya’ll off and drop you at the station and we will leave it at that,” Officer Fontaine says.

Dixie, the prepper jumps in, “Well Officer Fontaine, that will be a problem. See their cars are in the carpool lane and if we leave them then no one can get around them to get their children. That will cause a big problem getting all of our children home safely.”

Officer Fontaine looked between Dixie and me and Otis saying, I guess I could let you go, keep your names out of the paper. I could do this if you put in a good word for me with Big Daddy. He’s cut me off since I got drunk and went through town playing Paul Revere yelling about lights. Not the only time I get a bottle of shine is through my deputy.”

Jack took another sip of his shine looking to Big Daddy, “See I could have been killed, and I was tased, and Otis isn’t talking to me because I was so good at multitasking. My sabers are evidence down at the sheriff’s office and I may not get them back for this weekend’s re-enactment and I’ve been banned from the carpool line. Not that it matters because my own brother in law doesn’t have my name down as a pickup point for his children.”

Penny looks over to her father “Can you do me a favor and forgive Officer Fontaine for one bad night so we can get Jack’s knives back.”


Big Daddy thought about this as Jack was able to successfully grab a few wienies and pop them in his mouth. “I will let him buy some Fountain of Youth on a limited basis if this will help you. I’m glad no one was shot and the knives were unharmed.”

Jack sighs, “They are not knives, they are sabers.”