Column: Keeping the peace

Published 10:28 am Monday, April 8, 2024

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By NOAH WORTHAM | Managing Editor

On April 4, I walked out the door to head to the work when I noticed movement in front of me. There was a deer on my front lawn and despite the startling moment, it did not flee. it was accompanied by three other deer and, after briefly recording them with my phone, they noticed my presence and fled off into the brush.

That morning was a perfect example of why I love Alabama and why I absolutely love living out in the country—peace, greenery and wildlife. It’s also something that, unfortunately, can be easily taken away. 

In July 2023, I made a significant change in my life, I moved out on my own—and not only that—but out in the middle of woods.

I moved into an old house in Westover that is located down a long gravel road and is surrounded by wildlife and vegetation. It marked a distinct contrast to the many years I spent growing up in Columbiana which, while not a big city by any stretch of the imagination, still had streetlights and the noise of traffic and neighbors going about their lives.

The first night after I moved in was terrible. I couldn’t get the air conditioner working, so I spent the hot Alabama night attempting to sleep on the couch while telling myself I had to get through it. As I continued to live there day by day, every single creak of this old house had me paranoid. However, roughly eight months later, a deep peace has finally reached me and I feel the magic of looking out my window and seeing a sea of greenery, of catching a rabbit cross my road as I’m heading home or even the sight of a possum hanging out in my driveway.

I no longer have to worry about what my neighbor is doing or why their dog won’t keep quiet as I’m trying to enjoy watching television. I also don’t have to worry about how loud I’m being when I play guitar or listen to music as there is no one close enough to be bothered. I feel less trapped, freer and I enjoy the cleaner air.

All of these things are benefits of living in a great place like Shelby County which offer small cities like Columbiana, larger ones like Alabaster and small towns like Westover and Wilsonville.

I share all of this to say that when I found out people I knew in Wilsonville were upset over the construction of a 27 acre development that would house a transitional living facility for convicts, I couldn’t help but feel sympathetic. I would absolutely hate to have the quiet peace that I’ve come to enjoy taken away from me.

Those who live near the development have to deal with the traffic flow of vehicles traveling alongside their road and the noise of construction, not to mention the anxieties of living next to such a dangerous facility. Even if the on-site staff make assurances of the facility’s security or of the moral character of these individuals trying to make a change—the phrase “what if” would still linger in the back of my mind.

On the other hand, we live in a state that is “tough on crime” and I can’t help but feel sympathetic for the number of convicted individuals who could use a second a chance at life—the type of chance a well-realized, well-intentioned and honest transitional living facility could give.

Perhaps the perfect solution to help both sides would be to build the facility elsewhere? All I know is that I would hate to see such a facility built right next to where I live.