To help the community meet the requirements of the face coverings ordinance, the City will continue to distribute free face coverings to residents. Distributions will be held:

  • Monday, July 13: Oakdale Elementary, 7 - 10 a.m.
  • Wednesday, July 15: Skyland Elementary, 7 - 10 a.m.
  • Friday, July 17: Tall Pines Golf Club, 7 - 10 a.m.
  • Monday, July 20: Northridge Middle School, 7 - 10 a.m. 

Signs will be posted outside of each distribution site to direct traffic. For more information on the face coverings ordinance, please visit Tuscaloosa.com/FaceCoverings.

This week's Humane Society of West Alabama Pet of the Week is Webber. 

Is it just me, or has it felt like summer for four months now? If you have teenagers in your house, I’m guessing it’s felt even longer.  

I think we all can agree that the past few months have been one for the books. But let’s give props to the real food MVP in Tuscaloosa right now… food trucks. I like to see the positive in all things, and the best thing I’ve experienced from this COVID-19 pandemic is the explosion of various food trucks serving Tuscaloosa County. Heck, there’s even a Tuscaloosa Food Trucks group on Facebook with over 6,000 members – so I know I’m not the only one loving the trucks.  

The Tuscaloosa All-Inclusive Playground Project (TAPP) has a mission to build a playground in Sokol Park that is both accessible and inclusive for children and families of all ages and abilities. Now, that mission is one step closer to reality, thanks to a generous in-kind donation.

Amy Elam, a 13-year education veteran, was recently named the new principal at Verner Elementary School. During her career, Elam has been a teacher, and assistant principal, and a principal. I’m also proud to call her my friend. I had some questions for her, and she was kind enough to discuss her hopes for the future – and much, much more.  

On Tuesday, June 30, the Tuscaloosa City Council unanimously adopted an ordinance requiring face coverings to be worn while interacting in public places in the City of Tuscaloosa. To help the community meet the requirements of the face coverings ordinance, the City will be distributing free face coverings to residents on Tuesday, July 7, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater. 

Current COVID-19 restrictions have taken away a lifeline from many children. They’re not going to summer programs. They’re not seeing counselors. And they aren’t interacting as often with friends and neighbors – all of whom might be able to offer help. 

When a parent, caregiver, or other loved one becomes ill with COVID-19, the whole family struggles. But there are ways to comfort and reassure children, to offer clear, honest explanations, and to stay connected to the loved one who is sick.

Life has changed for us all in some way.

As were thrown from solidarity into full-fledged summer, catching up on all the things we missed doing, lets remember those moments of truth.

This week's Humane Society of West Alabama Pet of the Week is Tot.

A new monument that honors veterans of all wars has been installed at the Tuscaloosa Memorial Veterans Park (1701 McFarland Blvd.).

The time of the quarantine is at an end – we hope. At the time of this writing, theaters haven’t opened yet, but movies are still a constant (thank goodness). So, here’s July’s offerings.

Members of the Tuscaloosa City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to enact a citywide ordinance that requires residents to wear face coverings in any public place. The ordinance, which goes into effect on Monday, July 6, will be in effect for 30 days.

The Tuscaloosa Public Library’s main branch is now open, after being closed amid the COVID-19 global pandemic. There are certain restrictions in place, and safety measures are being emphasized. 

The past several weeks have been a tumultuous time across the country, as Americans took to the streets in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, holding signs and marching to decry racial injustice. Thousands of Tuscaloosans made their voices heard at peaceful marches and rallies to protest racial injustice throughout town – including this one held outside the federal courthouse in downtown Tuscaloosa on June 4.  

In the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s July Fourth celebrations in Tuscaloosa won’t be the same as in years past. That said, residents will still be able to enjoy watching fireworks on Independence Day.

Sometimes, grieving children’s reactions can be especially severe. You’ll naturally want to watch kids closely to get as clear a picture as possible of how they’re doing.

Sure, I couldve written about COVID-19. But frankly, you’re probably getting more than you want of that. So, I chose to use my (forcefully) abbreviated column to inform you of an epidemic occurring within my home. 

E.A. Powell was trying to sleep at his West Alabama home one evening in the late 1830s. Suddenly he awoke to frightening sounds and instantly knew the source—wolves! Over 50 years later Powell wrote: “In almost every part of the county they made night hideous with their howlings. I have heard them break out in the swamp as late as ten o’clock in the morning, and less than half a mile from the house.”

The wolf was a widespread predator in early Alabama. Over half of Alabama’s 67 counties have features named for them—including Wolf Creek near Tuscaloosa. Additionally Alabama’s major Indian tribes (Choctaw, Creek, Cherokee and Chickasaw) had clans or kinship groups named for the wolf. But as forests became farms and pastures, wolves were relentlessly hunted and their numbers declined drastically. One of the last local encounters was reported in the West Alabama Breeze on June 14, 1913. An 85 lb. wolf was killed in a rural area east of North River that now includes several Tuscaloosa neighborhoods. It killed 14 sheep belonging to A. L. Kizziah and other livestock. According to the Department of Conservation the wolf disappeared from the state in about 1920.

Like wolves, black bears were widespread. Features are named for them in 51 Alabama counties. There are five Bear Creeks in Tuscaloosa County alone. Moody Swamp, partially within Tuscaloosa’s city limits, was once known as Bear Haven Swamp. Choctaws and Creeks, the tribes nearest Tuscaloosa, had bear clans. In Fifty-Five Years in West Alabama, E. A. Powell noted an early Kentuck (Northport) merchant who displayed a pet bear.

Perhaps the most feared predator was the panther (a.k.a. mountain lion, cougar, puma or catamount). Like the wolf, all four Alabama Indian tribes had panther clans. As late as 1891 they were still found locally. A “mad catamount” reportedly attacked some men in what became Tuscaloosa’s Rosedale and Kaulton neighborhoods. In 1953 a panther was said to have been killed at Lock 14 about six miles from the city, however, the last officially confirmed wild panther was in St. Clair County in the 1940s.

Not all local predators were mammals. In 1887 the Tuskaloosa Gazette reported that fishermen killed an 11-foot alligator south of town. In early times alligators were found throughout Alabama south of the Tennessee Valley. As the state was settled, alligators became very rare. In 1938 Alabama became the first state to protect alligators and by the 1960s their numbers began to climb. In 2006 there was sufficient recovery to allow hunting. In 2010 a near 13 footer was removed after wandering from a Hale County lake owned by Tuscaloosa dentist William Wright. Big “Mo” was deemed a potential threat to nearby children. In 2014, an official world record specimen nearly 16 feet long and weighing over 1000 lb was taken near Camden, AL.

Elk or “issi chito” (big deer) as they were known to the Choctaws, inhabited most of the state. According to the Department of Conservation they disappeared by the early 1800s. In 1916 an effort was made to reestablish them in Tuscaloosa and other counties. The attempt failed in part because the elk became fond of vegetable gardens. Recently wild herds have been established in several nearby states.   

The largest mammal occurring in historic times in Alabama was the American bison or buffalo. Their original range covered much of the United States. By 1800, bison were largely gone from the East, probably disappearing from Alabama in the early 1700s. Early settler John Ezell attempted to establish a herd in Autauga County in 1825 with animals purchased from a Mexican horse trader but the attempt failed. The massive beasts refused to be fenced.

Except for alligators; wolves, bears, panthers, elk and bison are absent or relatively rare in Alabama. However, through conservation and restoration efforts most will likely return to at least part of their former habitats.

If you have a comment or question for local historian and author Jim Ezell, you can email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Druid City Living (DCL) is Tuscaloosa, Alabama's premier community newspaper, covering the great people, places and activities of the area.

 

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