More on the St. James Hotel

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 9, 2006

To the owners of the St. James:

My name is Monica Manns and I was a guest of the St. James Hotel on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2006. I along with 69 members of my family gathered in the city of Selma to celebrate the fourth King/Craig/Fikes Family Reunion.

Family members traveled from near and far.

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In selecting a location for the 2006 King/Craig/Fikes family reunion we thought what better place than the city where our ancestry began –

the city of Selma. We were all in great anticipation of coming back to the city of Selma to see where our great family began several hundred years ago.

As nightfall had approached us on our second day of events, our family gathering ended all too soon. At approximately a little after 11

p.m., we experienced a loss of electricity in the hotel.

The darkness throughout St. James Hotel sent us all in shock. The little ones were terrified a great deal by the darkness and the adults were in deep concern of what may have occurred. As several minutes had passed by and with no immediate attention from the hotel staff we quickly went into survival mode.

On the previous night we had a candle lit memorial service for the deceased family and fortunately we still had a few remaining candles.

After more than 20 minutes or so, and finally being able to gather everyone in a central location a few of us decided to fill our way through the darkness and find our way to the front desk of the hotel. We inquired if there were any candles or flashlights available for guests to use, and your hotel staff informed us that there were not any such supplies available for your guests.

I replied this situation was unacceptable and that it would be helpful if someone had come to check on the guests as well as provide us with an update of what had just occurred.

We were informed by one of hotel employees that he was the only one working in the hotel, but yet we observed a couple other employees dressed in black/white attire that were seated in the lobby with him. The gentleman did follow us upstairs to the second floor of the hotel to let us know that the few small flood lights that were currently on, would only last for an hour and the lighting on the first floor would remain on for only about three hours. By the way, many of the flood lights never came on.

Now that we had approached an hour without power and no notification of what had occurred, many of my family members made a decision to depart the hotel and return home due to the unsafe conditions of the hotel.

Unfortunately, there were many of us who lived several hundred miles away from home and it was not feasible for us to travel the roads at such a late hour.

Due to the hot summer temperatures it became necessary for some of us to sleep with our doors open to ensure there would be some ventilation in the room.

Since this was a safety concern for us. The remaining male family members slept outside of the bedrooms in chairs. When the morning sun rose and what had been scheduled to be a family prayer and farewell was turned into a race for time to quickly vacate the St. James Hotel.

Upon our departure of the St. James Hotel we did speak with hotel employee Michele Pullom to inquire if we would be compensated by means of a refund for our last night stay at the hotel and she replied that it would be an issue that would need to be resolved with the General Manager.

I phoned back to the hotel to speak with the General Manager, Shane Armstrong, and I began by identifying myself and informed him of the reason for my call. Mr. Armstrong did not extend any sort of an apology for the incident at all. He informed me that he would be unable to refund me any monies and that I would need to contact the Alabama Power Company as they were responsible for the outage.

Mr. Armstrong continued to discuss what his staff had done, but yet I am not sure how he could vow for that and he was not present at the hotel. Also, he replied none of the guests departed which I can attest that he is wrong because over half of the rooms occupied by family members were vacant by sunrise. By the way, about 50 percent of the hotel capacity was occupied by the King/Craig/Fikes family if not more.

My family members worked too hard to ensure that our family reunion would be a memorable weekend of events and it would be disappointing to see that all of their great efforts have become overshadowed by this incident.

Because of this unforeseen circumstance the family was unable to have a proper farewell, which to me and many others of my family members, has certainly dampen on our spirits.

In no way am I pointing fingers at anyone but I do believe this situation could have been handled more professionally.

I hope you consider the request that I have provided in this letter and in some way find it in your heart to try and give us some satisfaction for our loss.

Monica M. Manns

Duluth, Ga.