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Home > Tuscaloosa Business News

Tuscaloosa Business News - 2012-01


We have news items here related to Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Romney wins big in Florida, routing Gingrich - Mitt Romney routed Newt Gingrich in the Florida primary Tuesday night, rebounding from the previous week's defeat with a commanding victory and taking a major step toward the Republican presidential nomination. Despite the one-sided setback, Gingrich vowed to press on. 15872
January 31st, 2012
Your Guide to National Signing Day - 15871
January 31st, 2012
Warmer winter has local plants blooming early - With temperatures in the 70s in January, it’s no wonder the plants around here are confused, setting buds and blooming early. Some of them are blooming as much as a month or more earlier than normal. 15870
January 31st, 2012
University sets dates for A-Day, homecoming games - The University of Alabama's annual spring game will be April 14 at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, the University announced today. Admission to the A-Day game will be free to the public, but a kickoff time has not been set. Further details on television coverage and events surrounding A-Day will be released at a later date. 15869
January 31st, 2012
Study says immigration law has economic costs - The state's illegal immigration law has potential economic costs and probably has not caused the unemployment rate to drop as the law's co-sponsor claims, according to a study by the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Alabama. 15868
January 31st, 2012
Northridge senior lives life undaunted by challenges - Allison Gabriel is an 18-year-old senior guard for the Lady Jaguars. She's not the leading scorer or rebounder. She's not the tallest or fastest player, and she doesn't start. What she brings to the program is an inspirational attitude. 15867
January 31st, 2012
Police seek suspects in shooting at apartments - TUSCALOOSA | Detectives are searching for suspects and witnesses in a shooting Monday at Creekside Apartments off Greensboro Avenue. 15866
January 31st, 2012
Hoggle: Economic development is key in Hale probate judge race - Hale County businessman Bob Hoggle is seeking the Republican nomination for Hale County probate judge. 15865
January 31st, 2012
Copeland cites fiscal restraint in run for county school board - TUSCALOOSA | Bill Copeland is seeking re-election to the Tuscaloosa County Board of Education in District 7. 15864
January 31st, 2012
County schools seek interim leader - With Tuscaloosa County Schools Superintendent Frank Costanzo’s retirement only a month away, the Tuscaloosa County Board of Education is feverishly working to find his temporary replacement. 15863
January 31st, 2012
UA Honors College official named head of area United Way - The United Way of West Alabama has named a new president and chief professional officer to succeed longtime executive director Homer Butler, who retired at the end of 2011 after nearly 20 years at the agency. 15862
January 31st, 2012
South Mobile students still suffering from Gulf oil spill - For the children of south Mobile County, the effects of 2010’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill didn’t wash away as shorelines were cleared of tarballs and as waters reopened to fishing. Their pains are still evident every day at school. 15861
January 31st, 2012
Bentley supports independence for Alabama Fire College - Gov. Robert Bentley on Monday told firefighter service organization leaders that he supports legislation that would grant independence to the Alabama Fire College in Tuscaloosa. 15860
January 31st, 2012
Educators excited for digital tablet textbooks - Since Apple announced its move into the digital textbook market a couple of weeks ago, educators have been buzzing about what that could mean for schools and universities. 15859
January 31st, 2012
Perry County Summer Food Program makes strides in 2011 - After runaway irregularities in 2009 and 2010 threatened to shut down the Perry County Summer Food Service Program, the Alabama Department of Education found few problems with the program in 2011. 15858
January 30th, 2012
Glaeser's Tuscaloosa office works with manufacturers worldwide - 15857
January 30th, 2012
Gambling trial suspended after death of defendant - A federal judge temporarily suspended jury selection Monday in Alabama's gambling corruption trial. Jury selection was supposed to begin Monday morning at the federal courthouse in Montgomery, but one of the seven defendants, former legislative employee Ray Crosby, died Sunday. 15856
January 30th, 2012
5 found dead in Birmingham - Birmingham police and federal marshals are trying to locate suspects in a slaying that left five people dead. Police Chief A.C. Roper says his department will do everything it can to solve the case. But officers hadn't reported making any arrests early Monday. 15855
January 30th, 2012
Holy Spirit Catholic School marks 50 years of educating - When Holy Spirit Catholic School opened its doors for the first time in 1962, it consisted of four elementary school classes, four nuns who were teaching the classes and a fifth nun who was the principal. 15854
January 30th, 2012
Hotel's slow progress irks Northport leaders - NORTHPORT | It's been six months since Northport's riverfront hotel was supposed to break ground, but construction has yet to start. 15853
January 30th, 2012
Bingo trial defendant Ray Crosby found dead - MONTGOMERY - Former Legislative Reference Service analyst Ray Crosby who was to be retried on bingo corruption charges Monday in federal court here was found dead at his home Sunday afternoon, Montgomery police said. 15852
January 29th, 2012
Pet of the week: Cameron - Cameron is a 11⁄2-year old male Golden Retriever/Lab mix. He has a thick coat that is mostly golden but also has some white. 15851
January 29th, 2012
Pet of the week: Cammy - Cammy, a 4-year-old blonde Lab, is great as a single-animal companion. 15850
January 29th, 2012
LEND A HAND: Chili cookoff spices up Exchange Clubs fundraising - Glen Smith says he has no idea how the idea for a chili cookoff fundraiser originated. “But it worked, didn’t it?” said Smith, committee chairman for the Exchange Club’s annual chili cookoff. The cookoff, which takes place from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Feb. 11 at the Bryant Conference Center, has been a strong part of Tuscaloosa’s service and charity fundraising for the past six years. 15849
January 29th, 2012
Shelby: U.S. government spends too much - LIVINGSTON | U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby on Saturday warned about the consequences of government over-spending. Shelby made the comments during a morning visit with Sumter County residents. 15848
January 29th, 2012
Family, friends mark womans 90th birthday - TUSCALOOSA | Born in 1922, Sarah Dedrick never thought she’d see the day when a black person was elected president of the United States. 15847
January 29th, 2012
GOP says no repeal of immigration law - MONTGOMERY | Alabama's immigration law is headed for a rewrite in the 2012 legislative session, but Republicans vow it won't be repealed. 15846
January 29th, 2012
Businesses return to 15th Street and McFarland - 15845
January 29th, 2012
County Board of Education member John Hinton to run again - Current Tuscaloosa County Board of Education District 3 incumbent John Hinton is running for re-election. Hinton qualified to run as a Republican on Dec. 14. 15844
January 28th, 2012
AEA chief hires Winton Blount III - The new head of the traditionally Democratic--leaning Alabama Education Association has hired former Republican Party chairman and gubernatorial candidate Winton Blount III in an advisory capacity. 15843
January 28th, 2012
Tournament allows high school physics students to put learning into practice - Science is meant to be done, not just studied. That’s the theory behind the a high school physics tournament hosted Friday by the University of Alabama. Nearly 300 students from 19 schools competed, with the top two individual scorers rewarded with full in-state tuition scholarships for four years at UA. 15842
January 28th, 2012
Suit filed against ex-Partlow workers - The mother of a former resident at W.D. Partlow Developmental Center has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against six former employees of the facility. 15841
January 28th, 2012
Lawmaker: Give more teachers pay raises - MONTGOMERY | State Sen. Phil Williams wants Alabama teachers with up to eight years on the job to be able to get raises of 2.5 percent. 15840
January 28th, 2012
Target to give University Place $100K - TUSCALOOSA | University Place Elementary is one of 50 schools across the nation that will receive a $100,000 grant from Target as the result of a competition on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” The Target Corp. announced the $5 million in grants this week. 15839
January 28th, 2012
Developer to offer council new plan - TUSCALOOSA | An Atlanta developer will present a new plan to the City Council on Tuesday for a mixed-use development on one of the prime locations for private development along the city’s Riverwalk. Carter, the development company, has revised a plan it first presented in December to the city’s planning commission. 15838
January 28th, 2012
Hobby Lobby to open Northport store Feb. 6 - Hobby Lobby, a popular arts, crafts and decor store, will hold a grand opening for its new store in Northport on Feb. 6. The Hobby Lobby store in Wood Square Shopping Center in Tuscaloosa was destroyed in the April 27, 2011, tornado. 15837
January 27th, 2012
Officials: Reluctant farmers won't halt opening of River Market - City Councilman Lee Garrison said it the city of Tuscaloosa wants the new Tuscaloosa River Market to open in April with tables full of local food growers. But the market's opening will not be delayed by further complaints by the Tuscaloosa County Truck Growers Association. 15836
January 27th, 2012
Lawyers denounce prosecution from post-BCS video - Lawyers for an Alabama man accused of committing sexual battery on an unconscious LSU fan after the BCS championship football game say it's mind-boggling that police and prosecutors would give substantial energy and attention to the matter. 15835
January 27th, 2012
Bentley backs off his unified budget proposal - Gov. Robert Bentley is backing off his proposal to combine the state education budget and General Fund budget into one unified budget and shift some education tax revenue to non-education programs. 15834
January 27th, 2012
Legislators study ways to lure new industries - The House Economic Development and Tourism Committee on Thursday previewed proposed legislation that would help industry recruiters. 15833
January 27th, 2012
Job candidates discuss plans to attract retailers to Northport - The Northport Civil Service Board interviewed four candidates Thursday night for the retail development director position the City Council plans to fill in the next two weeks. 15832
January 27th, 2012
City BOE details magnet school rules - The Tuscaloosa City Board of Education on Thursday discussed a document that details new rules for applying, enrolling and leaving the system’s magnet elementary and middle schools. The document also better defines the old entry rules. 15831
January 27th, 2012
Ethics law proposal allows gifts to teachers - MONTGOMERY | Legislators are proposing changes to the ethics law that would allow seasonal gifts of up to $100 to teachers, but would limit gifts for other groups of public employees to only a nominal value. 15830
January 27th, 2012
Northport considers electronic mapping system - NORTHPORT | Northport is considering spending $500,000 on a geographic information system program that will electronically map the city’s infrastructure. 15829
January 27th, 2012
Officials: Reluctant farmers wont halt opening of River Market - City Councilman Lee Garrison said it the city of Tuscaloosa wants the new Tuscaloosa River Market to open in April with tables full of local food growers. But the market’s opening will not be delayed by further complaints by the Tuscaloosa County Truck Growers Association. 15828
January 26th, 2012
New chicken restaurant opens in Northport - Allen Ferguson started cooking while in his teens and enjoyed barbecuing chicken. “Chicken became my favorite,” he said, noting that over the years he has experimented to come up with his own chicken recipes. He is now using some of those recipes in a new business. 15827
January 26th, 2012
One killed in wreck on Highway 69 North - Emergency personal responded to a fatal wreck on Alabama Highway 69 North in the Carrolls Creek community near Macedonia UMC Church today. An 18-wheeler and a late model sedan were involved in the wreck just before 11 a.m. The driver of the sedan was killed in the crash, which happened near the 156 mile marker. The road was still partially blocked at 12:30 p.m., Trooper John Reese said. 15826
January 26th, 2012
Summitt remains focused on the game - University of Alabama coach Wendell Hudson remembers the first time he met Pat Summitt. 15825
January 26th, 2012
County school board faces lawsuit over gay issues - 15824
January 26th, 2012
TPD officer faces criminal charges - 15823
January 26th, 2012
AROUND TOWN: 1/26 - 15822
January 26th, 2012
Register now for statewide weight-loss contest - Local weigh-in and registration for the statewide Scale Back Alabama weight-loss competition will be held this week at Hospice of West Alabama, the Tuscaloosa County Health Department and Shelton State Community College Association of Nursing Students and Wellness Center. 15821
January 26th, 2012
Rail crossing closure will affect Kicker Road - Norfolk Southern Railroad will close the Kicker Road and Sixth Avenue East crossing from 9 a.m.- 3 p.m. today. 15820
January 26th, 2012
Local pastor honored by national sheriffs group - The National Sheriffs Association has named the Rev. Terry Hallman Chaplain of the Year for his assistance to the community during and after the April 27 tornado. 15819
January 26th, 2012
Bibb County probate judge will seek third term - Incumbent Bibb County Probate Judge Jerry Pow will seek the Republican nomination for a third term in office in the March primary. 15818
January 26th, 2012
University of Alabama to change online learning system - Over the next year, the University of Alabama will make the transition to a new online learning-management system. 15817
January 26th, 2012
Dogs enlisted in search of family plot in Perry County - One man investigating his ancestry has given up on conventional technology and is instead using dogs in the search for an old family cemetery in southern Perry County. Charles Weissinger, in conjunction with the University of Alabama archaeology offices, said he has been searching a 6-acre swath of land in the West Alabama countryside of Hamburg for the past two years. 15816
January 26th, 2012
Company selling Tide gear warns customers of security breach - Officials with an online company that sells Crimson Tide gear says some customers have seen multiple fraudulent charges on their bank accounts after a security breach on the website. 15815
January 25th, 2012
SPLC accuses county schools of violating gay rights - The Southern Poverty Law Center sent a letter to the Tuscaloosa County Board of Education this morning demanding that school officials allow same-sex couples at school proms and that they respect the constitutional rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students or be sued in federal court. 15814
January 25th, 2012
Monday's storms spawned 8 tornadoes in Alabama - Eight tornadoes developed from the supercell thunderstorms that took five hours to cross Alabama early Monday morning, leaving two people dead and a path of destruction behind. 15813
January 25th, 2012
Tuesday's Tuscaloosa City Council action - 15812
January 25th, 2012
Tide basketball looks to snap losing streak at 3 - University of Alabama basketball coach Anthony Grant, appearing on the Southeastern Conference's coaches teleconference on Monday afternoon, was asked the typical sort of strategic question that might well precede a game like the Crimson Tide's matchup with a perimeter-oriented South Carolina team tonight at 7. 15811
January 25th, 2012
AROUNDTOWN: 1/25 - 15810
January 25th, 2012
HUD awards $16.6M to city in storm aid - HUD awards $16.6M to city in storm aid TUSCALOOSA | The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development formally presented its $16.634 million award to the city of Tuscaloosa on Tuesday. The money will be used to aid the city in recovering from the tornadoes of April 2011. The funds will be administered through HUD’s Community Development Block Grant program, which sets restrictions on how the money can be used. Among the eligible expenses are property acquisition, economic development, housing, homebuyers programs and infrastructure improvements. The money can also be used as a means to garner more state and federal dollars in an attempt to meet the estimated $200 million of unmet needs across the city, officials said. “We are excited to receive this,” said Robin Edgeworth, co- commander of the city’s Incident Command team, which is overseeing City Hall’s response to the storms. “But we know it’s just a part of meeting our overall needs.” NWS survey shows 6 twisters hit Alabama BIRMINGHAM | The National Weather Service says at least six different tornadoes skipped across central Alabama early Monday, causing damage across a wide area. The weather service says it’s still assessing the storm tracks, but work completed through Tuesday evening showed six twisters struck in Tuscaloosa, Jefferson, Sumter, St. Clair and Elmore counties. 15809
January 25th, 2012
Northport to pick retail development director - By Lydia Seabol Avant Staff Writer NORTHPORT | The Northport City Council plans in the next two weeks to hire a retail development director, a job council members say will be one of the most important to Northport's growth. “As competitive as cities have to be, we need someone seeking out retail full-time,” Mayor Bobby Herndon said. “Because we don't have a lot of industry in Northport, sales tax and business licenses is our income, so retail is vital.” Northport had an economic development director, state Rep. Alan Harper, who helped recruit a Lowe's Home Improvement store to Northport. The position has been vacant since 2005, when Harper left to take a similar position with Aliceville. Because of budget cutbacks in recent years, the city has been unable to fill the position. The title of economic development director was then changed to retail development director to emphasize the focus on retail recruiting, Herndon said. 15808
January 25th, 2012
Tuscaloosa County residents hear from lawmakers at 'Meet Your Legislators Night' - By Wayne Grayson Staff Writer TUSCALOOSA | Tuscaloosa County residents had a chance Tuesday night to hear from their state legislators at the Bryant Conference Center during “Meet Your Legislators Night.” Local lawmakers spoke and took questions from voters concerning issues likely to come up during the upcoming legislative session, which begins Feb. 7. Just about every seat inside the Rast Room was occupied during the event, hosted by the League of Women Voters of Greater Tuscaloosa, the University of Alabama Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and the UA Retirees Association. Each Tuscaloosa County legislator was invited to the event and six were in attendance: Republican representatives John Merrill and Bill Poole; GOP senators Greg Reed and Gerald Allen; and Rep. Christopher England and Sen. Bobby Singleton, both Democrats. 15807
January 25th, 2012
Proposal would clarify lines of authority over Fire College - State Rep. John Merrill has introduced a bill that would make it clear that the Alabama Fire College is an independent postsecondary institution. 15806
January 25th, 2012
Upscale apartments approved for downtown - The development of a new set of upscale apartments in downtown Tuscaloosa earned unanimous approval Tuesday night from the Tuscaloosa City Council. 15805
January 25th, 2012
Tuscaloosa Amphitheater generates $172K profit in first year - By Mark Hughes Cobb Staff Writer TUSCALOOSA | The Tuscaloosa Amphitheater made $300,411 in net concert profits for its 2011 inaugural season. Adding other sources of income — including box seats and sponsorships — the amphitheater generated $773,529 of revenue, minus $601,149 in expenditures, for a season profit of $172,380. Mayor Walt Maddox reported the figures to the City Council's Finance Committee on Tuesday. Expenditures for the year included $50,170 in production overhead, $41,000 for audio and lighting requirements, and $509,979 in static operations (salaries, benefits, overtime, repairs, supplies, utilities and the Red Mountain Entertainment contract), for a total of $601,149. “The source of pride that I had, was that when we began discussions on the amphitheater, we thought it would be several years before we achieved profitability,” Maddox said. 15804
January 25th, 2012
Patio Lounge destroyed in fire - 15803
January 24th, 2012
County looking to demolish dilapidated, abandoned houses - Solid Waste Director Jim Patrie told county commissioners at last week’s meeting that the county has several ongoing junk ordinance enforcement cases. But six of the 59 junk ordinance complaints received so far refer to the house, rather than the junk in the yard. And the county’s junk ordinance does not empower it to demolish dilapidated houses. 15802
January 24th, 2012
PHOTOS: Patio Lounge burns down - 15801
January 24th, 2012
Proposed bill would toughen laws against copper theft - The copper wiring that four men allegedly stole from construction zones in the tornado-damaged Forest Lake neighborhood last weekwould have netted a couple of dollars per pound at a scrap metal recycler. By contrast, the cost to a homeowner to replace an air conditioning unit with the copper wiring removed could run into the thousands. 15800
January 24th, 2012
Alabama softball ranked second in preseason poll - The University of Alabama is ranked No. 2 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 preseason poll, which was released Tuesday. The Crimson Tide, which finished last season with a 53-11 record and No. 3 final ranking after a run to the semifinal round at the Women’s College World Series, was ranked No. 3 in the this season's initial USA Today/NFCA coaches’ poll. 15799
January 24th, 2012
Miglionico picked for Ala. Womens Hall of Fame - A University of Alabama law school graduate who went on to be the first woman elected to the Birmingham City Council will be inducted into the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame on March 1. 15798
January 24th, 2012
Tuscaloosa streets to be swept this week - The city Department of Transportation will sweep streets in the following areas this week. 15797
January 24th, 2012
City to close lane on Woolsey Finnell Bridge - The city Department of Transportation will close the northbound right lane of the Woolsey Finnell Bridge from 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. today to replace a damaged street light cable. 15796
January 24th, 2012
LETTER: Gingricht a concern - Dear Editor: Although I have not made up my mind on which Republican candidate I will support, I am perplexed by the elite liberal media’s constant attack on Newt Gingrich. It took me three marriages to find the right person for me. Morals are not attached to how many times you have been married. A host of reasons go into every failed marriage and every marriage has its problems. Finding happiness and contentment is everyone’s goal in life. 15795
January 24th, 2012
Ex-HealthSouth chief Scrushy faces new sentencing hearing - Former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy will be back in Montgomery this week to try to convince a federal judge to give him a lighter sentence and possibly let him out of prison. 15794
January 24th, 2012
Free show to teach viewers about autism with sitcoms - Raising a child with autism can be overwhelming, but a sense of humor helps. A free show that aims to entertain and educate people about the disorder will tell the story of one couple who raised a son with autism. The show, called “Something About Sam,” will be held Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Morgan Auditorium on the University of Alabama campus. 15793
January 24th, 2012
Bill calls for all in school by 6 years old - MONTGOMERY | Some powerful groups are backing bipartisan legislation that would lower the mandatory age for children to start school to 6 years old. Under existing law, children must start school by age 7. 15792
January 24th, 2012
Anxiety grips many as tornadoes strike state - TUSCALOOSA | It’s been nine months since the April 27 tornado ravaged Tuscaloosa and hit Philip Beverly’s neighborhood, The Downs. But, like a lot of people impacted by the April tornado outbreak across Alabama and the South, Beverly still feels the effects, especially when there is a threat of serious weather. 15791
January 24th, 2012
Sound Off 1/22 - 15790
January 23rd, 2012
Local blues musicians to release new album - Kenny Walker writes lyrics, inspirational verses that sound to him like gospel. But when he began to feel ready to share his words with the world, he bumped into a couple of problems: He doesn't sing or play an instrument. 15789
January 23rd, 2012
Charges to be upgraded in traffic death - 15788
January 23rd, 2012
Two killed as storms sweep across Alabama - Two people were killed by storms in Jefferson County as rescuers went house-to-house in search of people trapped in their homes. A 16-year-old boy was killed in Clay and an 82-year-old man died in the community of Oak Grove, Jefferson County sheriff's spokesman Randy Christian said. 15787
January 23rd, 2012
LETTER: Ditch could cause someone to get hurt - Dear Editor: Last night, Jan. 17, my husband and I were watching TV around 9 p.m., when we heard a loud crunch. I looked out the window and saw a car in the ditch that was recently dug in our front yard at the corner of 41st Court and Fifth Street NE. 15786
January 23rd, 2012
LETTER: Parade is a better way to celebrate - I couldn’t agree more with the editorial in the Jan. 18 paper regarding the need for a national championship parade for the 2011 University of Alabama football team. I expressed my opinion after the 2009 national title and it’s important to do so again. 15785
January 23rd, 2012
LETTER: Singleton should be barred from office - Gay Nell Singleton is a candidate for Hale County Circuit Clerk, an office she previously held and subsequently disgraced. 15784
January 23rd, 2012
Crews to work on railroad crossings - Norfolk Southern Railroad crews will work on crossings in the Tuscaloosa area this week from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. 15783
January 23rd, 2012
Alabaster deals with teachers arrest - More than 150 people attended a forum Sunday at an church to discuss a former teacher accused of abusing students. 15782
January 23rd, 2012
UAH professor's lawyers face witness challenges - The attorneys for a former University of Alabama in Huntsville professor accused of killing three colleagues during a faculty meeting are facing challenges to secure expert witnesses. 15781
January 23rd, 2012
Families who lost homes get to go on shopping spree - Christmas came in January for 17 children who lost their homes in the April tornado: The YMCA of Tuscaloosa gave the children and their families a total of $2,100 in Walmart gift cards on Sunday. The families gathered at the Tuscaloosa Walmart on Skyland Boulevard to use the gift cards on a shopping spree, buying everything from cellphone accessories to shoes to items for the home. 15780
January 23rd, 2012
Forestry Commission may have to repay $14.4M - By Dana Beyerle Montgomery Bureau Chief MONTGOMERY | The Alabama Forestry Commission should repay $14.4 million in federal grants because the money was improperly spent on general operations, according to an interim report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General. State Forester Linda Casey said Friday that the issue stems from the commission’s former grant accounting system, which had been in place for 27 years but was no longer acceptable to the inspector general’s office. “That $14.4 million is absurd and it’s not going to have to be paid back,” Casey said. She said state and federal officials plan to meet Tuesday to discuss the grants and the commission’s new accounting system. The U.S. Forest Service, part of the Agriculture Department, recommended changes to Alabama’s operations and said its recommendations will be completed by April 30, according to the inspector general’s report, dated Nov. 23. It was posted on the Agriculture Department’s website on Jan. 10. The Alabama Forestry Commission was awarded three federal stimulus grants of about $17.3 million, Casey said. The money was used to eradicate the invasive and habitat-destroying cogon grass, re-establish longleaf pine trees, and to conduct prescribed burning, she said. The grants were part of $28 billion in stimulus money included in the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The U.S. Forest Service received $1.15 billion and allotted Alabama its share. “Congress, in enacting the Recovery Act, emphasized the need for accountability and transparency in the expenditure of funds,” the Office of Inspector General’s interim report said. The the inspector general’s office said federal regulations require that all costs charged to grants should be tracked separately and that grant money should be spent only on activities that support the grant. Alabama commingled most of its grant money and pooled it with regular operating funds, the inspector general’s office report said. “Therefore, it was not possible to identify which of the commingled charges related to grant work and which did not,” the report said. Efforts to reach U.S. Department of Agriculture and inspector general’s office officials Friday were unsuccessful. The inspector general’s office said the Forestry Commission’s accounting system did not comply with federal regulations. The inspector general’s office said the Forestry Commission’s chief financial officer either wasn’t aware of or misinterpreted federal grant accounting requirements. Casey said the state has never had a problem with grants in the 27 years the accounting system has been in place. Casey said her chief financial officer was unaware of the new requirements but after learning of them, designed a new accounting system. (The inspector general’s office said the Forestry Commission has no written guidelines on its accounting system, and that it was described orally by the chief financial officer.) “We scrapped our old accounting system and rebuilt it and restated it from 2009-2011 and we accounted for every penny,” Casey said. The inspector general’s office said that the Forestry Commission’s flawed accounting system was not identified by the U.S. Forest Service as being incapable of performing required financial assessments before awarding grants. Commingling grant funds reduces spending accountability, the inspector said. For example, the inspector general’s office said commingling salaries of all employees in the pool including high-level managers not working on the grants produced an hourly wage rate of nearly $52 charged to the grants. The inspector general’s office said it conducted a 2.5-year audit of thousands of commingled costs from the $17.3 million in grants and came up with a refund amount of $14.4 million. One of the recommendations by the inspector general’s office is to postpone future grants to the Forestry Commission until it can convince federal officials that it can properly account for them. 15779
January 23rd, 2012
Farmers consider opening new market in Northport - By Lydia Seabol Avant Staff Writer NORTHPORT | The River Market, Tuscaloosa's new $3 million farmers market, is set to open early this year, but some local farmers say they won't be there when it happens. Several members of the Tuscaloosa County Truck Growers Association have expressed dissatisfaction with the facility's design and say farmers haven't been told what their fees will be. They say the city hasn't listened to their concerns. 15778
January 23rd, 2012
Severe weather expected tonight, Monday morning - Forecasters are urging West Alabama residents to keep a close eye on the weather tonight and early this morning and be prepared to take cover because of a strong line of storms passing through the region. The severe weather includes a 15 percent chance of tornadoes in West Alabama, according to the National Weather Service. 15777
January 22nd, 2012
Penn State's "JoePa" dead at 85 - Paterno, a sainted figure at Penn State for almost half a century but scarred forever by the child sex abuse scandal that brought his career to a stunning end, died Sunday at age 85. 15776
January 22nd, 2012
Celebration is on, despite threat of rain - 15775
January 22nd, 2012
LEND A HAND: Online initiative allows people to choose which charity to help - Alabama Gives Day, a statewide initiative to raise awareness and funding for Alabama’s nonprofit sector, will take place on Feb. 2. 15774
January 22nd, 2012
Woman collects photos lost in tornadoes - It’s been said that in the weeks and months after tornadoes tore through homes across the South, pictures and documents literally rained on yards hundreds of miles away. 15773
January 22nd, 2012
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