Newspapers are essential to communities and in times of crisis provide essential information. During the COVID-19 global pandemic, getting information to public has been crucial.
     When the schools closed on March 16, The Record rushed to publish a story about where children could get a meal if needed. We were happy to report the restaurants coming together to feed children who needed it. We were constantly publishing notices of cancellations, closures and vital information about government action during this time.
     We created a separate link on our website dedicated to local coverage of the effects of the COVID-19 virus on our community. We are continuing to update our stories. For the second week, we have extensive coverage of the effects of the pandemic on Madison County.
     We have been able to update our stories and closing and cancellations immediately running them free of charge on our webpage and we continue to bring you updates with information that can be used by you during this global pandemic.
     Our job is to get the information to you to help you make decisions and stay safe during these frantic times.
     Check out our webpage for all the updates at www.mcrecordonline.com.
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     Speaking of keeping everyone safe, we were perplexed last week to learn that the Madison County Sheriff’s Office began refusing to turn over probable-cause affidavits.
     The Record filed a couple of Freedom of Information Act requests for a probable-cause affidavits of a man who has been arrested for both sexual indecency with a minor and child pornography.
     We were told Deputy Russell Alberts had given instruction to not release the probable-cause affidavits to The Record anymore, going against its long-standing practice.
     We reached out to Alberts and asked him about the situation. He said he was upset that The Record had written a story about the body of Rex Douglas Terrell being exhumed and that The Record shouldn’t “expect to get much cooperation” from the sheriff’s office.    
A couple of weeks ago, someone apparently working on the Terrell case, tipped off a news organization outside Madison County that Terrell’s body was being exhumed from the Alabam cemetery. The order allowing the body to be exhumed is sealed.
     However, the media organization who was tipped off about the story came into The Record asking about the case.
As it is our job, we worked as quickly as we could to get the story reported.
     We’ve explained to the sheriff’s office that we were simply doing our job, but Alberts and Sheriff Rick Evans have stated that they will no longer release probable-cause affidavits.
     Alberts also stated that the department is not required to turn over probable-cause affidavits because the cases are “ongoing and active investigation and cannot be released at this time.”
     We’re disappointed and will work hard to obtain the information from other sources so that we can get the information to you, as we know informing our readers about criminal activity, especially activity that involves crimes against children, is important.