Coyote sightings were common here in the 80s

Published 3:41 pm Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Back in 1986 there was a rage of coyote sightings and attacks here, particularly in the Little Rock area. Children riding the bus to school often saw them darting across the road in front of the bus. There was one report of the school bus hitting one of these animals, but he hobbled off into the woods.

Farmers were finding cows and smaller animals the targets of these pests. One local veterinarian was called to administer to a young calf that was struck down by these bandits. This added to the concern of rabies.

Fortunately this disease never festered, but farmers and several locals always kept their guns handy to ward off any attacks. A Monroe County family discovered their outdoor smokehouse being invaded one morning and several blocks of dried deer steaks were consumed.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

One Little Rock resident, Floyd Bell, and his son initiated a trapping method that helped to do away with these creatures. While his method was never aired it certainly did the trick as the coyote population soon diminished. With the assistance of the county animal control department, the threat from these vandals soon diminished. But, even today the late night terrifying howls of these “mini-monsters” can be heard in the distance at local or nearby farms.

There were some more items of interest in 1986. Local telephone CEO, Jeff McGhee, took time from his busy schedule to chair the Rotary Club Fiddlers Convention. Those who attended that gala affair described it as one of the best ever. Jeff, who passed away a few years ago after retiring and moving to North Carolina, left many accomplishments here. This Marianna, Fla., transplant was responsible for many local telephone employees getting good retirement and insurance benefits.

Also in 1986, Ellen Maddox was named Chamber of Commerce Person of the Year and Gerald Philen became the new manager of Blanton’s Roller Rink near the old Graham Oil Company Building on Highway 31 East.

There is a man I see on TV on certain weekends who has won numerous musical awards and who has local kin in our area. His name is Mike Johnson.

You can tune him in on the RFD TV show, Country Family Reunion, on Saturday nights.

Mike is the nephew of Jean (Wooten) Pennington. His mother is Dot (Wooten) Johnson, who lived here at one time before moving to Montgomery. Not only is Mike an accomplished steel guitar player, but he is now the musical director and lead musician for the above mentioned Reunion show. In addition, it was announced last week that his production company will now be in charge of Reba McEntire’s music.

Over the years his talented offerings are heard on recordings by countless vocalists and bands. This includes Bill Anderson, Carrie Underwood, Kenny Chesney, Willie Nelson and many more.
Ouida and, I am sure, her ECHS classmates will remember Dot Wooten, Mike’s mother. You can learn more about Mike, his family and his accomplishments at

That story I wrote last week about the Channel 5 weather camera stirred a lot of interest.

I received some very nice emails and phone calls from friends who explained to me that the camera was located on the grain elevator near the railroad tracks and West Highway 31(Nashville Ave.), just east of the Wilson Avenue crossing.
William Grissett told me the placing of that camera occurred when he worked with United Bank. He said the bank negotiated a contract to place the camera on top of a flag pole adjacent to the silo. That pole was previously operated by Fritz Currie to display a big U.S. flag.

William said he and his partners owned the silo and he worked with the TV crew to locate it there so it could give a better cross section shot of the town of Atmore. That nice contract between the bank and Channel 5 apparently still exists, because we still see that weatherman providing us with those timely nightly “shots of Atmore.”

Wow. Have you ever thought how far those Sun Belt Conference teams travel to play their football games?

This past Saturday, the University of South Alabama team had to fly to Idaho to engage in a contest. I read where very few fans followed them out there because it was so far away. Don’t you know it was disheartening to perform on the gridiron with only a handful of fans cheering you on?

It’s ridiculous. This cannot last. Something must be done to group these teams closer together. I’m not sure how they will do it, but for right now it is not only absurd but it is not feasible, as well.

More next week from years gone by.

You can email Lowell McGill at