After last year’s April 27 tornado that killed 13 residents of the Valley, U.S. Army chief warrant officer Brad Carpenter, who teaches at the Warrant Officer Career College at Ft. Rucker, and several members of his unit, donated the sign.
Carpenter spent several days helping Shoal Creek residents clean up after the storm.
At a special ceremony last September at the fire hall, Shoal Creek Valley fire chief Vernon White accepted the sign from Carpenter.
On that day, Carpenter said Vernon White was very special to them. He also noted that the mascot on the sign was selected before the tornado even hit Shoal Creek Valley.
“I got them to change the motto to ‘Stand Through The Storm Sir,’” Carpenter said that September day. “So it would be something positive. In the future when people see this sign, I hope it gives them strength and hope to ‘weather the storm.’”
However, one Shoal Creek Valley resident said the sign is very inappropriate.
“It is a very ugly sign, and has no meaning to this community,” Martha Jo Hale said. “Vernon and his wife Linda did this on their own.”
Hale also said she had several people who helped clear her property after the tornado hit.
“These people took several days off of work,” she said. “And they wanted nothing in return. Why would we honor a half dozen men who Vernon and Linda know?”
Linda White said Carpenter was so impressed with the Shoal Creek community and the way they pulled together, and stood side-by-side, when he went back, they wanted to do something special.
“This sign was actually adopted way before the tornado hit,” Linda White said. “A lot of men and women who graduated from Carpenter’s class at Ft. Rucker went on to Afghanistan and Iraq, and all over the world. They are Standing Through The Storm for the United States.
“To me, this sign is an honor, I come from a very deep-rooted military family. For military men and women to dedicate something for the work that was done in this community by the citizens. It’s an honor for them to do that. They are going out and fighting for me, this community and this county.”
On the back of the sign, it reads, “This sign is dedicated to the citizens of Shoal Creek Valley.”
White said it is an honor to have a sign like this.
“This sign is dedicated for the purpose of the men and women of this group here, who are going out and fighting for our freedom and the freedom of the people in this Valley and across the United States,” White said.
The sign is on a public right-of-way, and Linda White said it was placed where the command center was stationed.
St. Clair County Commission Chairman Stan Batemon said the sign is fine right where it is.
“As long as it does not interfere with sight distance, and as long as it has a public purpose,” Batemon said. “And this sign does, because it is honoring the tornado issue of last year.”
Contact Gary Hanner at email@example.com.