The Native American stone mound that's causing so much consternation is indeed a stone mound, rock-upon-rock stacked atop what once was one of Calhoun County's most picturesque hills. But Smith, with assistance from what he termed Oxford's "archaeological advisers," says the stone mound is "the result of natural phenomena."
Really, mayor? Where's the proof?
Since the mayor wants Oxford residents to believe this theory, let's briefly play along. Perhaps the stone mound is a remarkable remnant from an ice-age glacier. Or, though unlikely, perhaps tornados that often terrorize northeast Alabama were the cause. Even better, the stone mound may be Oxford's version of those mysterious and unexplainable British crop circles.
Lots of suppositions. Lots of expert opinions. And still people don't believe.
Which got us to thinking: What other "natural phenomena," to use the mayor's written words, exist in Oxford?
Under the logic of Smith and the city's archaeological advisers, such occurrences may pockmark all corners of the ever-growing town Smith has led since 1984.
If humans didn't place those stones atop that hill, then can we be assured that humans built Leon Smith Parkway? Or the Quintard Mall? Or the myriad upscale residential developments that continue to draw residents to the city?
Thinking of generations past, did the Old Rock Stadium's stone grandstand come to be because of natural occurrences? Did the long-departed Oxford College campus evolve from a natural phenomena — think Oxford Lake or Choccolocco Creek — more than a hundred years ago? Did Lick Skillet's origins include an abundance of stone mound "natural phenomena" just as Anniston's included an abundance of naturally occurring iron-ore deposits?
It's time for a dose of reality, taken liberally.
It's clear that the saga of Oxford's stone mound is a topic that City Hall wants to go away — fast. It's an unexpected albatross hanging from the city's neck. It's choking away some people's common sense.
It was easier to play along with Oxford's stone-mound attitude when it seemed more a case of Smith's worshipping of retail development vs. the protection of natural history. That, in its own twisted way, was distasteful to like, yet easier to fathom.
But Smith's written implication that archaeologists from the University of Alabama, from Jacksonville State University and several independent parties are wrong about the mound's origin is laughable. One needs no geology or archaeology degree to see that.
Smith seems to be trying to quickly diffuse this unappealing situation by writing that in fact it doesn't exist, that the stones have no cultural or historic value and are merely piled naturally atop a hill.
He wants those concerned about preservation to believe his theory, to take the opinion of his archaeological advisers as fact. He's going to be disappointed.