Alabama editorial roundup
Recent editorials from Alabama newspapers:
The Gadsden Times on the sale of Frios Gourmet Pops in a multimillion-dollar deal:
We generally don’t discuss financial transactions in this place unless they’re governmental (involving taxpayer money), have significant economic implications (stock market) or signal the demise of a prominent brand (Sears circling the drain).
However, we can’t ignore the news that local entrepreneur Andy Harp has sold Frios Gourmet Pops in a multimillion-dollar deal.
The buyer is Cliff Kennedy of Mobile, who had owned three Frios franchises in South Alabama and Florida.
Those who know Harp and have tasted his wares are familiar with the Frios story. Fed up with the corporate life — his background was public relations and computers, and he was doing pretty well at it — he got the idea of starting his own business creating gourmet frozen pops using fresh ingredients and unique flavors.
“One day I sat down and drew a line down the middle of a sheet of paper, and put ‘things I like’ on one side and ‘things I hate’ on the other side,” he told Gadsden Style in 2016. “And Frios popped out.”
The business started in his garage and kitchen, and his first flavor was Strawberry, using fruit from Etowah County’s Norris Farms.
Harp began peddling his pops in 2013, from a cart on Broad Street. He moved into a storefront on Broad Street, with a 2,500-square-foot kitchen, and later into a 16,000-square-foot production facility in Rainbow City that now turns out eight figures worth of pops annually.
Flavors listed on the website now include Avocado Lime, Birthday Cake, Fruity Pebbles, Gingerbread, Mulled Cider, Red Hots, Root Beer Float and Sweet Tea with Lemon and Tiramisu — again, not your average frozen treats.
From the first two outlets in Alabaster and Fairhope, Frios has grown to franchises in 36 locations in 10 states.
Kennedy has visions of taking the brand national. Harp said after announcing the sale that it always has been his vision to “hand it off” to someone who could do that.
Frios’ production will be moved to Mobile by next spring, but Harp (who also became a restaurateur after establishing Frios, with Harp and Clover on Court Street in downtown Gadsden) isn’t going to padlock his Rainbow City plant. His next venture will be hydroponic farming of micro-greens and sprouts, and he’s intent on marketing his products throughout the Southeast.
Given the road map he established with Frios, don’t bet against him.
And while it’s sad in a way to see Frios move to a new home, if Kennedy is successful — if eventually there are national ads touting Frios and people in California and Maine are enjoying the pops — people from Gadsden can say with pride, “It all started here.”
The Decatur Daily on President Donald Trump’s announcement that he was withdrawing 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria:
We have been consistent in our opposition to U.S. military involvement in Syria’s civil war. So, while we have criticized President Donald Trump when he has stepped up U.S. activities there, we give him credit for his decision to withdraw the roughly 2,000 U.S. troops involved in the conflict.
Syria is a relatively minor U.S. intervention in terms of manpower, but one with the potential for disaster. It has never been clear what the United States’ goal should be, apart from possibly forcing Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad from power and likely creating a vacuum much like the one left when the U.S. overthrew Saddam Hussein in Iraq. The ensuing chaos then led to a lengthy U.S. military presence, thousands of casualties and regional instability that gave rise ultimately to the Islamic State group, the migrant crisis, the collapse of Libya and the Syrian civil war itself. No one should want a repeat of that.
U.S. involvement in Syria has mostly taken the form of backing the opposition to Assad, but only part of it, because the U.S. is also fighting the Islamic State, which is part of that opposition. The U.S. has also backed anti-Assad Kurdish rebels, much to the consternation of Turkey, which has its own problems but is officially a NATO ally, like it or not. Turkey doesn’t want the Kurds to get too strong because that might lead to an independent Kurdistan, which would include what is currently Turkish territory.
The region is a kaleidoscope of overlapping alliances and interests, none of which neatly line up with the stated goals of the U.S. government. And that’s not even bringing up the possibility of escalating hostilities with Assad’s most reliable ally, Russia.
Most arguments for continuing or even escalating U.S. involvement in Syria — some coming from disgruntled members of the Trump administration — don’t withstand scrutiny. The U.S. is not abandoning Syria to Russia and Iran because Syria is already firmly in their orbit, for all the good that does Iran and Russia.
The only flaw in Trump’s announcement of his plan to withdraw troops was that he apparently made it without notifying allies in advance. If you want allies to collaborate in the future, give them the courtesy of input on a decision that affects them. Both the United Kingdom and France have troops in Syria.
That Trump’s decision irks conservative hawks such as National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is to be expected. It was the last straw for Defense Secretary James Mattis, who resigned the day after Trump announced the withdrawal after failing to change the president’s mind. That it also irritates some on the left is a testament to just how tribal American politics has become.
If you are normally against U.S. military adventurism but can’t resist an opportunity to attack Trump for supposedly doing the bidding of his “boss,” Russian President Vladimir Putin, you might want to stop and think about your own partisanship.
Ultimately, whether Putin is for or against something is of minor concern when it comes to whether something is good policy for the United States. Russia may have nuclear weapons, but it has collapsed into little more than a regional power, with a gross domestic product less than that of Italy, which is one of the European Union’s economic basket cases. Simply opposing Putin for the sake of opposing him lets Russia dictate U.S. policy as surely as if Trump were his puppet.
More to the point, however, Congress has never authorized U.S. intervention in Syria and has gone out of its way not to do so. One cannot fault the president for ending a military action that was never legitimate to start with.
In this case, we hope Trump sticks to his tweet and doesn’t let his advisers talk him out of it. It will mean one fewer place around the globe where U.S. soldiers are at risk for an indeterminate time, uncertain goals and little chance of success.
TimesDaily on the words of some notable people who died in 2018:
Many notable people died in 2018 and not only do they leave their historical footprint, but discernment in their recorded words that can continue to guide us into the next year.
George H.W. Bush: “No problem of human making is too great to be overcome by human ingenuity, human energy, and the untiring hope of the human spirit.”
Barbara Bush: “Never lose sight of the fact that the most important yardstick of your success will be how you treat other people - your family, friends, and coworkers, and even strangers you meet along the way.”
John McCain: “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the capacity to act despite our fears.”
Aretha Franklin: “It would be a far greater world if people were kinder and more respectful to each other.”
Billy Graham: “Each life is made up of mistakes and learning, waiting and growing, practicing patience and being persistent.”
Stephen Hawking: “My advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you doing well, and don’t regret the things it interferes with. Don’t be disabled in spirit as well as physically.”
Kate Spade: “If you’re as honest and fair as you can be, not only in business but in life, things will work out.”
Stan Lee: “We live in a diverse society — in fact, a diverse world — and we must learn to live in peace and with respect for each other.”
We are a better nation, and a better world for the insight these and others shared during their lifetime. And while we remember them, let’s also remember those whose paths didn’t lead to fame — those who serve our military, those who serve as police officers, firefighters, and first responders whose lives exemplify service that’s often overlooked, but who kept us, and continue to keep us safe anyway.
We thank them all for continuing to serve and inspire us into a new year.
This time of year is traditionally one of reflection.
Let that life analysis include at least one goal that will extend beyond a New Year’s resolution.
Let’s strive to have our historical footprint — whether famous or not — leave the kind of wisdom that will improve on what’s left behind, and gratitude from those whose paths we have crossed.