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Home > Tuscaloosa Business News

Tuscaloosa Business News - 2015-01

We have news items here related to Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
SCHOOL NEWS: February 1 - Berry High School
Emily Banks, a student at Berry High School, has been selected to represent Berry as a national youth correspondent at the 2015 Washington Journalism and Media Conference at George Mason University.
Banks joins a select group of students from all over the country for an intensive study of journalism and media. Banks was chosen based on academic accomplishments and a demonstrated interest and excellence in journalism and media studies.
The conference will be held July 12-17.
Big Sandy Elementary School
The all-A's honor roll for the second nine-weeks includes Sofie Deanara Allen, Elizabeth Rose Andrus, KeyAnthony DeeShawn Archibald, Casen Maddox Ballard, Lauren Hope Beckham, Michaela Amari Benson, Colin Scott Beverley, Jordan Austin Boyd, Cailin Collier Burroughs, Mason Brooks Cadle, Michael Brilyn Carlisle, Aleese Kalae Brenell Carpenter, Bree Janay Coleman, Olivia Nicole Barclay Cotton, Barkley Lamon Crawford, Nyeishia Jean Davis, Donovan Ajani Dicker, Kelsey Taylor Kara Dobbs, Ava Drew Dockery, Anna Caroline Dunham, Aiden Zane Evans, Jayden Baire Fischer, Elizabeth Sloane Frederick, Jeffrey Colson Free, Jackson Douglas Green, Roman Christopher Hall, Kassie Elizabeth Hallman, Kayden Ryan Hallman, Eli Williams Hamner, Hannah Rose Harris, Lily Kate Harris, Raegan Makenna Harris, Carolynn Jane Harrison, Grace Marie Hartley, Haley Elizabeth Hollyhand, Lauren Elizabeth Horne, Jadyn Cordea Howard, Iraland Serenity Jack, Hayden William Johnston, Luke Lancaster Jones, Ashlyn Rylee Kilgore, Ella Michael King, Louis Daniel Kish, Deboris Vache Hurst Lanier II, Ivie Kate Lee, Cadence Elaine Liles, Abigail Kathryn Lovelace, KyAndrea Lynnae Lucious, Daniel Keith McCormick, Maxim Allen McCormick, Emma Lauren McCracken, Macee Grace McKnight, Kai Alexander Miller, Seven Samahdi Mitchell, Darius Jahmal Mixon, Mia Michelle Mixon, Chloe Vanice Morgan, Taylor Leann Ozier, Abigail Lauren Pulliam, Ryder Jade Reneau, Emily Michelle Rice, Brayden Wilson Riddle, Robert Gage Sabbagh, Caleb Luke Sanders, Scottie Lamar Sanders, Michael Trace Sanford, Kelsea Danielle Simon, Elijah Ryan Skalnik, Sophie Arabella Smelley, Alexandria Aubree Elizabeth Smith, Kennedie Elaine Smith, Joie Marie Steele, Hunter Blake Strickland, Joshua Mekhi Thornton, Reagan Hope Tidmore, Jaci Rae Vines, Ashaunti Danielle Warren, Gregory Winsett Watson Jr., Victoria Alyce Whitehead and Lydell Alexander Williams Jr.
Brookwood High School
Raven Bibby was the freshman first runner-up in the Brookwood High School Beauty Walk on Jan. 9.
Collins-Riverside Middle School
-- Kelyse Ryan recently won the school's annual spelling bee. The competition was held in the Frankie Thomas Library. Rayne Brown is the alternate. Teachers involved in this year's bee include Lindsey Lolley, eighth-grade English teacher; Suzanne Holt, sixth-grade English teacher; and Dana Fitzpatrick, seventh-grade English teacher.
-- Collins-Riverside Middle School competed in the Alabama Scholastic Competition with other middle schools in the county. CRMS came in second to Holy Spirit. They will compete in the Alabama Scholastic Competition Association at the state level on Feb. 28 at Hoover High. Team members are Wesley Chambless, Matt Lary, Mark L'Etang, Lamont Pickens, Aidan Dunlap and Hannah Jones. They are coached by DonReita Nelson, seventh-grade science teacher.
Davis-Emerson Middle School
January students of the month at Davis-Emerson Middle School are Baylee Dunn, sixth grade; Caleb Frith, seventh grade; and Chris Smith, eighth grade.
Davis-Emerson students of the week for January include Amelia Brown, Brittany Colburn, Ashley Crowe, Baylee Dunn, Caleb Frith, Briley Johnson, Caitlynn Jones, Standrea Jones, Jaden Lundy, Alex Ortiz, Taliah Savage and Chris Smith.
Eastwood Middle School
Eastwood Middle School competed in the regional DiscoverE's Future City Competition at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. The following students won an award for the Best Nightscape in a Future City presented by the VonBraun Astronomical Society: Lauryn Williams, Emilie Gray, Jackson Leach, Maxwell Cosby and Kristen Burton.
Hale County High School
The all-A's honor roll for the second nine weeks includes Allison Michaela Averette, Madison Paige Bray, Tyler Payne Brown, Jada Sheree Buckner, Hannah Leigh Burroughs, Rylee Hermoine Channell, Hannah Rae Church, Blake Edward Cook, Thomas Chase Cook, Caitlyn Rochelle Cordova, Richard C. Crawford, James Parker Dare, Courtney Elizabeth Dockery, Jaylin Edwards, Sarah Gayle Franklin, Bradley Clayton Gann, Kelsie Grace Gilliam, Hannah Rebecca Harbin, Savannah Re Hodge, Savanna Lynn Holmes, Shelby Renea Johnson, Jayci Michelle Jones, Rachael Joy Karthaus, Logan Lamar Laird, Aeriel Latrista Lee, Jessica Fay Lunsford, Savana Grace Marshall, William Colby Mayfield, Asia Danielle McMillian, Tatum Rae Owens, Charles Ridgeway Payne, Charlsey Elizabeth Payne, Halle Scot Payne, Garrett John Pearson, Sarah Kirk Pearson, Franchesca S. Perkins, Nolie Celeste Ray, Matthew Keith Reid, Rachel Lin Rose, Sarah Anne Rose, Ryder Griffin Sabbagh, Aaron Michael Ray Sheffield, Logan Tyler Stokes, Amanda Meggan Stuber, Ashley Kate Stuber, James Earl Terry Jr., Camden Blake Tucker, Mallory Jean Watkins, Carson Alexander Woods, Kayla Nicole Wyatt, Kelli Renee Wyatt, Lawson Shonn Wyatt, Sarah Joyce Wyatt and Trevor Gage Wyatt.
Northridge High School
Students of the Month for January include Steven Fairburn, Kalayshia Spencer, Emily McGuire, Isiah Craig, RJ McLaurin, Kathryn Versace, Maryam Azam and Fred Mobley.
Pre-K registration begins at city schools
Registration is under way for pre-kindergarten classes at Tuscaloosa City Schools.
Parents may register students through Feb. 27 during regular school hours. Forms can be picked up and returned to the student's home school.
To register, TCS requests a birth certificate, blue immunization card and three proofs of residency.
Children must be 4 years old on or before Sept. 2 and live in the city schools zone.
TCS campuses collect phone books
As part of the Green School program, Tuscaloosa City Schools are asked to collect outdated or unused phone books. The phone books will be collected by the city of Tuscaloosa Environmental Services Department and taken to the recycling plant on Kauloosa Avenue.
Participating schools must contact Tuscaloosa 311 to schedule phone book collection and to get credit for participation.
The Green School program is set to begin in August 2015.
Visit www.tuscaloosa.com/recycle or email ESD@ tuscaloosa.com.
Tuscaloosa County High School
-- The Tuscaloosa County Beauty Walk was held Jan. 17 at the Bama Theater.
Winners for the 11th and 12th grades include Hayden Turner, fourth runner-up; Alex Pinion, third runner-up; Kaitlyn Roland, second runner-up; Meagan Skinner, first runner-up; and 11th/12th Grade Miss TCHS Riley Anna Jones.
Winners for the ninth and 10th grades include Callie Atkinson, fourth runner-up; Valerie Harris, third runner-up; Emileigh Bryant, second runner-up; Rebecca Brewer, first runner-up; and Kylee Stapp, ninth/10th grade Miss TCHS.
Miss Congeniality awards went to Gracie Avery, ninth/10th grade; and Jamie Hoven, 11th/12th grade.
Miss Photogenic is Bobbie Jo Dixon.
Miss Community Support is Autumn Fuller.
-- The all-A's honor roll for the second nine weeks at TCHS includes Mary Makennah Allen, Zachary Thomas Allen, Sara Caitlin Almond, Anne Marie Anders, Asia Danielle Anthony, Callie Sophia Atkinson, Kathryn Abigail Atkinson, Grace Alexander Avery, Allison Elizabeth Bailey, Bradley Austin Banks, Emma Grace Barger, Craig Samuel Barker, Leah Caroline Barksdale, Brodey Brian Beasley, Emma Grace Beeler, Jenna Kate Bell, Kayla Louise Billups, Mary Megan Black, Peyton Ann Black, Nicholas Taylor Blakney, LaShondra Ann Bolden, Alyssa Jordan Bolling, Braxton Ashley Booth, Charles Andrew Boswell, Carly Grace Bowles, Garrett Chandler Branch, Brousseau, Hannah Noel Brousseu, Brousseau, Kameron McKayla Bruner, Emileigh Mae Bryant, Kellcie Hope Burch, Katie Elizabeth Burnett, Kali Rai Burtard, Brittney Hope Butler, Colton Shane Cabiness, Mary Frances Cabaniss, Mary Mikayla Cain, Kayla Ellen Caldwell, Dalton Tate Cameron, Haley Nicole Capps, Ada Catherine Chapman, Briana Nicole Chappell, Sara Jessica Chappell, Alyson Joyce Clardy, Landon Stuart Clark, Lindsay Margaret Rose Clarkson, Robert Raymond Coats, Kryzyl Mae Eyoy Colaler, Steven Eyoy Colaler, Jake Austin Colburn, James David Coleman, Dwight JaRay Colemon, Jackson Lane Collins, Lauren Ashley Collins, Stephen Scott Combs, Demintrium Freshon Cooper, Asten Sierra Cosby, Jesse Stone Cothran, Logan Renee Criswell, Victoria Brooke Crowder, Preston Reid Crowley, Camille Rebecca Daidone, Olivia Grace Daidone, Kery Danh, Jordan Cheyenne Daniels, Taylor Nicole Daniels, Alyssa Paz David, Amber-Rose Davidson, Johnny Lee Davis III, Karsen Presley Davis, Ty'Geana Amayra Davis, John David Day, Kaitlyn Hope Day, Iyana Kharji Diaz, Maritza Magaly Diaz, Austin James Dooley, Phillip Steven-Wayne Dover, Natalie Frances Dumas, Sydney Grace Duncan, Jennifer Dorthea Dunnigan, Tana Nicole Early, Elizabeth Gabrielle Edwards, Isaac Banks Ellis, Anna Summerlyn Ensor, Mary Allyssa Ensor, Amanda Michelle Eure, Dax Jeremy Ewart, Jenna Kayce Ewing, Madison Brooke Falls, Chelsea Leigh Faulkner, Maci Alexis Faulkner, Eric Andrew Fields, Kelsey Brooke Fisher, Rebekah Grace Flowers, William Garrison Floyd, Jamie Kristian Fowler, Katline Morgan Fowler, Meagan Nicole Franklin, William Alexander Freeman, Leanna Morgan French, Analvisa Zarate Galindo, Caroline Grace Gant, Eric Tyler Garcia, Jeffery Lee Gary, Nicole Patricia Gendreau, Madison Lane Giddiens, Ashley Marie Gilliam, Abigail Katherine Gleason, Matthew Chad Goins, Sarah Grace Goodman, Caroline Elise Green, Joshua Paul Griffith, Katherine Patricia Griffith, Caroline Rebecca Haas, Justin David Hall, Jasmine Brianne Hallman, Thad Clifton Hallman, Tristan James Hallman, Mae Margaret Hamm, Sarah Jane Hamm, Madalyn Kate Hammonds, Brittany Katelyn Hamner, Karlee Denise Hamner, Kristen Anala Ryali Hancock, Brileigh Love Hannah, William Lee Hannah Jr., Ellen Marie Harbin, Jarnice Shanae' Hargrove, Jasmine Shade' Hargrove, Caleb Scott Hayes, Nikolas Dwain Hayes, Amberly McTeagan Hayes-Elliott, Sarah Grace Helus, LaShana Monique Henderson, Caleb Amond Chapman Herndon, Emma Kate Hickman, Elizabeth Nicole Hinote, Marla Elizabeth Hogue, Ashlyn Kendall Hood, Kyra Marie Hood, Heather Angel Horton, John Collin Horton, Jamie Lynn Hoven, Jalen Juwan Howard, Meagan Noelle Howell, Sara Ashleigh Hudson, Jayla Carial Huff, Alisha Leeanna Renee' Isbell, Christopher Storm Jackson, John Parker Jackson, Taylor Hope Jackson, Colin Isaiah Johnson, Titus Luke Johnson, Mary Catherine Johnston, Carson Reed Jones, David Jonathan Taylor Jones, Halie Madison Jones, Joseph Tanner Jones, Layna Dale Jones, Mackenzie Elise Jones, Preston Michael Jones, Clayton Drew Kellum, Kendrick Mack King Jr., Mary Sullivan Kirkland, KeDarius Marquis Knight, Katelynn Marie Krout, Zachary Douglas Kuykendall, Sarah Morgan Lake, Austin Blake Lancaster, Garrett Troy Lawson, Lafaijah Brejeanelle Layton, Brandun D'Shawn Leatherwood, Lauren Michelle L'Etang, Andrew Lazarus Lett, JunLan Li, Katherine Joy Lightfoot, Blakley Peyton Lightsey, Nathaniel Justin Loness, Heather Cheyvone Long, Ellen Riley Lowery, Emily Ann Lowery, Daylon Chase Lynn, Margaret Ann Mabury, Robert Nicholas Macon, Zoe Clare Mahoney, Gerardo Maldonado Martinez, Brooklyn Michelle Marable, Jacqueline Martinez, Kalyn Noelle Mask, Nina Cherelle McCaa, Kaley Faith McDaniel, Claudia Kelley McGee, Ryan James McKinley, Jalon Laron McMorris, Riley Kae McWaters, Kayla Raine Meeks, Austin Pierce Miller, Haley Lauren Mitchell, Nalisea Tiez Moden, Cara Elizabeth Montgomery, Cesar Javier Munoz, Christopher Scott Murphy, Hunter Allen Nelson, Noah Lloyd Nevin, Morgan Daulton Newton, Courtney LeAnn Northam, Samuel Songbai Ochocki, Kendall Faith Osborn, Peyton McKenzie Osborn, Maxwell Lamar Oswalt, Kendra Nycole Palmer, Madison Rayne Parker, Elijah Gem Parker-Kelser, Coy Jameson Pate, Priya Mukund Patel, Alexander Reid Payne, Lauren Cole Pearson, Leah Cline Pearson, Silvia Leticia Pedro-Pascual, Ashlyn Lucrecia Perkins, Madilyn Hope Peters, Arianna Michelle Peterson, Jameka Tearah Phifer, Leighton Claire Phillips, Lucas Ryan Phillips, Jodi Alexandra Pinion, Alex Matthew Powell, Jessica Lynn Price, Payton Evelyn Pritchett, Katelyn Elizabeth Pulmano, Christian Edward Ramsey, Reese Ambrose Ramsey, Sarah Michelle Reece, Jordan Elizabeth Reid, Jamie Kasey Rice, Irene Marie Richardson, Sydney Dionne Richardson, Alexis Nicole Roberts, Kaitlyn Noelle Roland, Joshua Martin Sellers, Zachary Tyler Shackelford, Jonathan Tucker Shepard, Lyn Aubry Shepard, Tykerria Marnae Sherman, Collin Joseph Sherrill, Mollie Catherine Shinholster, Tristan Scott Simpson, Carsyn Faith Sims, Frances Elizabeth Sims, Alana Jordan Skelton, Cameron Brooke Skelton, Mary Elizabeth Skinner, Rachel Lydia Smiley, Elliot Burr Smith, Oliver Hans Smith, Rachel Victoria Smith, Jordan Tanner Snow, Joshua Kincaid Snow, Sarah Ellis Sparks, Corinthian Clinton Allen Spencer, Peyton Cole St. John, Kylee Joy Stapp, Jaylin Hunter Stephenson, Nigel Alexander Sterling, Anna Kaye Taylor, Victoria Diane Taylor, Spencer Elizabeth Thompson, Anna Claire Thornburg, Abby Grace Tucker, Amy Nicole Tucker, Chandler Joseph Tullis, Laura Hayden Turner, Lauren Brooke Turner, Jackson Crawford Tyler, Sara Ashley Vinson, Kristen Elizabeth Ward, Makenzie Lane Warnick, Kiera Rayne Watkins, Kylie Layne Watkins, Brianna Janee' Washington, Chloe' Johnay Washington, Marlie Rose Wells, Hannah Margaret Wiggins, William Nicholas Wilkins, Jaydah Denise Williams, Laryn Kathleen Williams, Yasmine Monae Williams, Brynn Caroline Wint, Avery Sophia Wood, Logan Christopher Wright, Matthew Turner Wright, Geordan Desmond Yarbrough, Leona Sirinwadee Yeager, Ryan Tyler Zelhart.
January 31st, 2015
Dance Your Heart Out contest Feb. 8 at Bama Theatre - Teams from Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee will compete in the Dance Your Heart Out contest Feb. 8 at the Bama Theatre.
Categories of competition will include creative dance, hip hop, parade, field show, captain’s solo and stand battle. Cash prizes will be awarded.
Doors open at noon, and showtime is 1 p.m.
Tickets are $15 in advance and can be purchased by calling 1-888-614-9494 and through www.brownpaper tickets.com. They will be $20 the day of the show at the Bama Theatre ticket office, 600 Greensboro Ave.
January 31st, 2015
13th Street to be closed for two weeks - Sewer construction and street widening will require the closure of 13th Street East between McFarland Boulevard and 13th Avenue East beginning at 8 a.m. Monday.
Signs indicating a detour route will be posted.
The stretch of road is scheduled to reopen at 5 p.m. Feb. 16.
January 31st, 2015
Sewer work to close 41st Avenue East - A portion of 41st Avenue East in Holt, from just north of Fifth Street East to just south of Shaw Drive, will be closed Monday and Tuesday.
The closure is needed for the installation of new sanitary sewer mains.
January 31st, 2015
Local streets to be swept this week in Tuscaloosa - The Tuscaloosa Department of Transportation will sweep the following general areas this week:
Fifteenth Street to 29th Street, Foster Ferry to Dinah Washington, Brown Circle, 16th Street to Ash Street, all streets and avenues East of Dinah Washington to Greensboro Avenue, Exchange Avenue, 28th Street to 32nd Street, 40th Avenue to 43rd Avenue, Ozment Road, The Glen, Cherrystone, Gresham Circle, Willow Lane, 20th to 24th avenues East and 56th, 57th and 58th streets East.
Also, Second Court East, 23rd and 24th courts East, 25th and 26th avenues East, 37th and 38th places East, 39th Street East, 44th and 48th streets East, 21st Avenue East, Jug Factory Lane, 10th Avenue and 10th Court East, 51st to 54th streets East, Royal Oaks Court, Claybrook, Claymont Circle, Freemont Drive, Eastwood Drive, east side of Kicker Road to University Boulevard, Third Street Northeast and 20th, 22nd and 23rd Avenues Northeast.
Also, Fourth Place East, Veterans Parkway to Loop Road, Kicker Road to 29th Avenue East, Lavera Drive, Cribbs Mill Circle, Circlewood, Cross Creek Drive, 27th Street East, Pine Hills, Valley View Lane, Valley Crest Road, Covey Chase, Vicksburg Drive, Riverdale Lane, Ridgedale Drive, Second Avenue Northeast, Wood-ridge Drive, Woodridge Road, Harmony Lane, Ridgeland, Yorktown Drive, Arbor Ridge Road, Windy Ridge, Pinbrook Lane and Fifth, Sixth and Seventh streets East.
Residents in these areas are asked not to park on the street.
January 31st, 2015
COLLEGE NEWS: February 1 - The President's List for the fall 2014 semester included the following area students:
Birmingham: Lisa Beatty, Darius Brown, Camera Gibson, Virginia Moore, Katie Morris, Benjamin Nash, Ashley Rudolph, Jabrell Smith, Judith Tegek, Aegina Weatherly and Benjamin Williams.
Cottondale: Jennifer Nad.
Hoover: Nicole Jones.
McCalla: Rachel Stephens.
Northport: Katrina Hart.
Tuscaloosa: Trenten Cagle, Shiquila Carter and Lathesia Gibson.
Winfield: Elise Erb.
The Dean's List included the following area students:
Bessemer: Darius Jackson.
Birmingham: Jasmine Beverly, Tonya Bibb, Jasmine Burns, Martinas Burns, Chadwick Coleman, Anna Craven, Sarah Fedyk, Vallean Jackson, Brandon Montgomery and Allison Self.
Demopolis: Courtney Lawrence and Tiffany Williams.
Dixons Mills: Jakoby Aldridge.
Guin: Emily Smith.
Hoover: Ryan Childers, Jessica Creel, Latoshia Donald, Wyvolyn Kirkland and Robert Spears.
Lake View: John Craft.
McCalla: Allyson Spaulding.
Sweet Water: Christopher Landrum.
Tuscaloosa: Noryetta Hall.
Vance: Connor Rhodes.
Vernon: Amber Pruitt.
Carolyn F. Dishuck of Tuscaloosa was named to the Rhodes College Honor Roll for the 2014 fall semester. Dishuck is a graduate of Keystone National High School.
About 200 University of Alabama students during spring 2015 are receiving a hands-on educational experience at more than 60 companies and organizations through UA's Cooperative Education Program.
Participating students and work sites for fall 2014:
Birmingham: Michael Baker, Helix Systems; Steven Beard, Evonik; Thomas Brennan, Altec; McKinley Carder, GAF; Aaron Clement, Ascend Materials; John Cole, Hoar Construction; Lee Devance, Jordan & Skala Engineers; Jacob Garfinkle, Faurecia Interior Systems; Bowen Gurkin, M.J. Harris; Bryant Hall, Alabama Power; David Leech, Fluid Engineering Inc.; Michael Maynard, Fluid Engineering Inc.; Bianca Pearson, Shaw Industries; and Evan Webb, Georgia Pacific-Brewton.
Cottondale: Andrew McKenzie, Mercedes-Benz.
Demopolis: Kevan Momenpour, Alabama Power.
Eldridge: Robert McDonald, U.S. Steel.
Fayette: James Trice, U.S. Steel.
Gordo: Dalen Mullenix, Adtran.
Helena: John Sparkman, Tiffin Motorhomes; and Brandon Suttles, Mercedes-Benz.
Hoover: David Culotta, Faurecia Interior Systems; Michael Fort, Alabama Power; Richard Graham, B.L. Harbert; Russell Hancock, Nucor Steel; Graham Miles, Daikin; Jodie Morrison, Mercedes-Benz; and Ashleigh Weaver, Alabama Power.
Linden: Colton Baugh, Rock Tenn.
Montevallo: Robert Frederick, Mercedes-Benz.
Northport: Jacob Baxley, GAF; Joshua Barker, Golden Construction, LLC; Andre Bernal, Cooper Tire; John Driggers, Helix Systems; Hugh Henley, Georgia Pacific-Pennington; Joseph Jacobs, Brasfield & Gorrie; Miranda Lee, Alabama Power; Mark McMillan, Brasfield & Gorrie; Ryan Miller, Rheem Water Heaters; Jacob Mosella, Nucor Steel; and Theodore Webb, Alabama Power.
Thomasville: Michael Thompson, Georgia Pacific-Pennington.
Tuscaloosa: Emily Carpenter, TTL; Philip Chandler, Johnson Controls; Kirk-Irwin Corpuz, Hoar Construction; Jason Craver, Tiffin Motorhomes; Matthew Gawlik, Nucor Steel; Jason Gilbert, MercedesBenz; Kaden Goodell, Nucor Steel; Eric Gray, Smiths Machine LLC; Rene Gromotka, Mercedes-Benz; Vincent Hill, Delta Air Lines Inc.; Hong Li, Mercedes-Benz; Robert Maxwell, M.J. Harris; Andriana Mickens, Brasfield & Gorrie; Michael Nathanson, Ascend Materials; Aaron Powers, Alagasco; and Kevin Quinn, Goodyear.
Vance: William Stephens, Alabama Power.
Winfield: Jared Miles, Nacco Materials Handling Group.
January 31st, 2015
MILITARY NEWS: February 1 - Air Force Airman 1st Class Justin M. Norris graduated from basic military training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, San Antonio, Texas.
Norris is the son of Tameka and Timothy Norris of Brookwood. He is a 2014 graduate of Brookwood High School.
January 31st, 2015
Work to begin on widening Mitt Lary Road to accommodate growth in Northport - Northport will soon embark on a major capital project: the estimated $5.2 million expansion of Mitt Lary Road. The project is set to bid at the end of this month and start construction the day after school ends in May, said City Administrator Scott Collins.
Over the summer and fall, the 2-mile road will be widened from a narrow two lanes to three lanes, which includes a center turn lane. With expected residential and commercial growth in the area, the widening of the road is a must, Collins said.
“It's crucial for the city, for what we see as the growth area,” Collins said. “We know the roadway has to be improved. There are always travel concerns on (Alabama) Highway 69 and some of our collector streets, but those are largely out of our control. This is our biggest area of need that the city can actually control and improve.”
Northport is currently in the process of obtaining easements for property to widen the road. Approximately 3 acres of property is needed for the widening, split between
19 properties along Mitt Lary Road. No structures will be affected.
“The rights of way are relatively small for the entire project,” Collins said. “We are in the process of getting the easement, and that has been a relatively easy process because most of the residents in the area, including those where we need to acquire property, have been very appreciative of our effort to ease traffic on Mitt Lary.”
Currently, traffic on the road that links Alabama Highway 69 to U.S. Highway 43 gets backed up in the mornings from parents trying to get their children to Northport Elementary, Huntington Elementary or Tuscaloosa County High, and also from people who live in the area who are trying to get to work.
“It is a growth corridor. Anyone who lives in that area can tell you that the improvements are needed, especially when school is in session, because traffic backs up so much,” said Northport Mayor Bobby Herndon.
Traffic on Mitt Lary will likely increase as growth continues in the northern part of the city and along Mitt Lary itself, Collins said. A new subdivision, Bristol Park, is under construction off Mitt Lary and will include 288 upscale homes priced between $200,000 to more than $350,000. Construction is being done in three phases, but there is an agreement with the city that phases 2 and 3 of the subdivision will not start until the Mitt Lary widening project is done, Collins said.
Approximately 30 acres in the northwest corner of the intersection of Mitt Lary and Highway 69 have been annexed into the city for commercial/retail development, which could also spur more traffic. But it is not yet known what exactly will be developed at that site, Collins said.
Construction on Mitt Lary is expected to start at the end of May and should be completed by the end of December, depending on weather. The road will remain open for much of the project, except for a few days over the summer when drainage culverts have to be placed under the roadway, Collins said.
“There will be a short period of time where Mitt Lary has to be closed for a couple days, which we will advertise well in advance,” Collins said.
The cost of the project is being funded through a $14 million bond the city issued last year.
Reach Lydia Seabol Avant at lydia.seabolavant@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0222.
January 31st, 2015
LEND A HAND: Tuscaloosa events offer opportunity to shape up, help community - Tuscaloosa residents will have plenty of opportunities to get in shape while helping local charities in the coming months. Events include:
-- Charity Chase 5K: 8 a.m. Saturday at the Tuscaloosa Riverwalk. Participants can choose the charitable organization that will benefit from their efforts. More information is at www.thecharity chase.com.
-- West Alabama Heart Walk: 8 a.m. Feb. 14 at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater. The 5K walk benefits the American Heart Association. For more information, go to www.westalheartwalk.org, email gsawestal@heart.org or call 510-1551.
-- Glow Run 5K: 6 p.m. Feb. 21 at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater, 2710 Jack Warner Parkway. Participants wear neon colors, run with glowsticks and bright sunglasses. Proceeds benefit Tuscaloosa's One Place.
-- Walk MS West Alabama: 10 a.m. Feb. 28 at Snow Hinton Park. The money raised will help support programs and services for the more than 6,500 families affected by multiple sclerosis in Alabama and Mississippi. For more information or to register, visit www.walkMS.org or contact 1-800-FIGHT MS.
-- Trottin' for TR: 8 a.m. Feb. 28 at Sokol Park. Proceeds will benefit the Tuscaloosa County Park and Recreation Authority's Therapeutic Recreation program. Go to www.tcpara.org for more information.
-- Krispy Kreme Challenge: 10 a.m. Feb. 28 beginning at Government Plaza on Sixth Street downtown. Participants run, eat doughnuts and run some more. Proceeds benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Alabama. For more information, visist www.tuscaloosakkc.com.
-- Tuscaloosa Half Marathon: 7 a.m. March 7 at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater. The event will also feature a 5K and a fun run. Proceeds will benefit the Kiwanis Club of Greater Tuscaloosa and Read Bama Read. Go to www.tuscaloosahalfmarathon.org for more information.
-- Mayor's Cup: 8 a.m. April 25 at Government Plaza downtown. The 5K benefits the Tuscaloosa Pre-K program. For more information, visit ww.tuscaloosamayors cup.com.
January 31st, 2015
Pulitzer Prize-winner Rick Bragg to speak Feb. 11 at University of Alabama - “An Evening with Rick Bragg” will be held Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. at the Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library on the University of Alabama campus.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning writer will give a speech and answer questions from the audience.
Admission is $5 for students and $10 for the general public. Proceeds will help with printing costs for Alpine Living, a student-created travel magazine.
Bragg was a reporter and national correspondent for The New York Times, where he won the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing. He has written a half-dozen books, including best-sellers “All Over But the Shoutin’ ” and “Ava’s Man,” and has won more than 50 writing awards, including the American Society of Newspaper Editors’ Distinguished Writing Award twice. His latest book is “Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story.” He now teaches writing at UA.
January 31st, 2015
Girl, 4, dies in house fire in Duncanville - A 4-year-old girl died in a house fire in Duncanville Saturday morning.
The house, located in the 13000 block of Old Marion Road, was engulfed in flames by the time the Duncanville Volunteer Fire Department, Tuscaloosa Fire and Rescue Service and Tuscaloosa County sheriff’s deputies responded around 4:40 a.m.
No foul play is suspected, and no other injuries were reported, according to a press release from Sgt. Alex Miles, public information officer for the Sheriff’s Office.
The name of the victim was not released.
The Alabama State Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the cause of the fire.
January 31st, 2015
New park in Northport to provide a hidden urban oasis - A couple miles from one of the busiest local highways — U.S. Highway 82 — sits 141 acres of wetlands where beavers cut their teeth on trees and lily pads float in peace. Just across the tree line, pavement begins and businesses line McFarland Boulevard in Northport.
"It's going to be something people can come to close to town that feels far away," said Zach Heard, special projects manager for Tuscaloosa County Park and Recreation Authority.
"It" is the Van de Graaff Arboretum and Nature Preserve.
PARA began developing the wetlands area into a park for recreational and educational purposes late last year and hopes to have the park in operation by fall this year.
Heard said the main purpose of the park will be to provide more outdoor recreational opportunities like hiking, bird-watching and fishing, but PARA hopes to provide educational events as well.
"This is going to be a staging area for outdoor education," he said. "We're going to have family camping trips. We're going to have wildlife and plant (identification) classes."
PARA Public Relations Manager Becky Booker said PARA signed a 99-year lease on the property in August 2014 with Friends of Historic Northport with the stipulation that PARA would be responsible for developing and maintaining the land for recreational and educational purposes.
Since development of the property began last year, PARA has cleared out and cleaned up some of the wooded area and added trash cans, picnic tables, benches and swings overlooking the water.
The property has two large ponds and one small pond that will provide bank-fishing opportunities for people who might not have a boat but have a PARA outdoor membership and state fishing license.
Heard said he hopes to have duck and bird houses built for bird-watching and canoe rentals.
Overnight campsites will be added with tent pads, fire rings, lantern posts and picnic tables at each site, Heard said.
"With outdoor camping and stuff, it's not like you have to go on a family vacation. You can do it right here in town," Booker said. "We're just trying to give folks an opportunity to get outside."
Booker said a pavilion is in the works, gravel parking lots and trails will be added, and they hope to have a restroom installed by fall. She said the park's amenities will have as minimal an impact as possible on the land's natural state.
"It is different from most PARA parks in that it will be as natural as possible while still providing accessibility and safety to the public," she said.
One of the main features of the park will be an 1882 bowstring bridge that once spanned the Black Warrior River. The bridge was salvaged from the New Lexington area of Tuscaloosa County in 2008. It has been restored and will be used to access land on both sides of the park separated by water.
A no-leash dog park, piers, boardwalks and multi-use trails for hiking, biking and wildlife viewing in addition to trails navigating the park have been proposed, but Heard said the project needs more funding to add these features.
Booker said the PARA board dedicated $100,000 to get the park open, but one restroom could deplete the entire money supply.
She said PARA welcomes volunteers, especially Boy Scouts who want to help build benches, and pavilions, plant trees or clean up, and anyone who wants to make a donation earmarked for the park through the PARA Foundation can contact PARA offices to learn more.
January 31st, 2015
Whitney Houston's daughter found unresponsive in tub - ATLANTA | The daughter of late singer and entertainer Whitney Houston was found unresponsive in a bathtub Saturday and taken to a hospital in the north Atlanta suburbs, police said.
Bobbi Kristina Brown was found by her husband, Nick Gordon, and a friend and given CPR, said Officer Lisa Holland, a spokeswoman for the Roswell Police Department. When police arrived, they gave Brown additional care until she was taken alive to North Fulton Hospital.
The incident remains under investigation, police said.
Brown is the daughter of Houston and R&B singer Bobby Brown. A representative for the family did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
Whitney Houston was found dead in a hotel bathtub on Feb. 11, 2012, in Beverly Hills, California. The 48-year-old Houston had struggled for years with cocaine, marijuana and pills, and her behavior had become erratic.
Authorities examining Houston's death found a dozen prescription drug bottles in the hotel suite. They concluded that Houston accidentally drowned. Heart disease and cocaine use were listed as contributing factors in Houston's death.
Over her career, Houston sold more than 50 million records in the United States alone. Her voice, an ideal blend of power, grace and beauty, made classics out of songs like "Saving All My Love For You," ''I Will Always Love You," ''The Greatest Love of All" and "I'm Every Woman." Her six Grammys were only a fraction of her many awards.
Houston had her first No. 1 hit by the time she was 22, followed by a flurry of No. 1 songs and multiplatinum records.
January 31st, 2015
Alabama judges weighing whether to perform same-sex weddings - BIRMINGHAM | Fred Hamic is a marrying judge: He's performed about 1,000 weddings during seven years as Geneva County's probate judge and considers the ceremonies a highlight of his job.
"Weddings and adoptions. Those are my favorite," said Hamic.
But Hamic is a Christian, and he plans to quit performing the ceremonies if same-sex marriage begins in Alabama, as could happen because of a federal judge's ruling.
Madison County's probate office in Huntsville said last week it would quit performing marriages but cited personnel shortages, not gay marriage, as the reason. Montgomery County Probate Judge Steven Reed said he'll marry anyone, straight or gay.
"I will do that for any couple that comes in," Reed said.
Other state judges are up in the air.
"I'll talk to my pastor, my family, and see what I would do," said Calhoun County Probate Judge Alice Martin.
While Alabama law requires probate courts to issue marriage licenses, judges and other court officials have the option of whether to perform wedding ceremonies.
Many churches ban gay weddings, so same-sex courthouse ceremonies became a real possibility for the state's 68 probate judges when a federal judge in Mobile ruled Jan. 23 that the state's constitutional and statutory ban on gay marriages violates the U.S. Constitution.
The decision is on hold for now and the delay could be extended by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, as the state has requested. The U.S. Supreme Court has said it would decide whether same-sex marriage should be allowed nationwide, and a decision is likely by late June.
In the meantime, probate judges are trying to decide what to do should same-sex marriage become a reality.
Monroe County Probate Judge Greg Norris, president of the state probate judge's association, said he hasn't heard of any judge who would refuse a wedding license to a same-sex couple if the decision by U.S. District Judge Callie V. S. Granade is upheld or the U.S. Supreme Court permits gay marriage.
But many probate judges — who are elected and sometimes also serve as county commission chairs — are on the fence about whether to perform same-sex ceremonies, said Norris.
"I think that is the way most people feel right now," he said. "It's something they'll have to decide."
Hamic, 69, said he would follow the law and issue licenses for same-sex weddings if required by court decisions, but he couldn't perform a same-sex ceremony because of his Christian beliefs.
So, partly to avoid potential legal problems, Hamic said would give up performing marriages to avoid having to wed a same-sex couple.
"I'm not going to be a party to it," Hamic said in an interview from his office near the Florida line in Geneva. "I was raised in a Christian home and I was taught that it is a sin."
Like Judge Martin in Calhoun County, Jefferson County Probate Judge Alan King said he would have to make a decision about whether to perform a gay wedding. But, King said, the issue isn't too thorny since he rarely officiates at weddings, which usually are performed by ministers stationed at the courthouse in Birmingham.
"I'm in court virtually all day long, every day," said King.
While the state is appealing Granade's order, health officials and the probate judge's group already are considering how to alter Alabama marriage licenses in case same-sex marriages can begin, Norris said. The forms currently refer to "bride" and "groom" and will likely have to be reprinted, he said.
"I have no idea how it will be changed," he said. "There are ramifications with this we haven't even thought of."
January 31st, 2015
FCC: More than one-third of Alabamians lack broadband - BIRMINGHAM | The federal government says more than one-third of Alabama residents lack broadband internet service.
A new report by the Federal Communications Commission says almost 35 percent of the state's residents don't have the high-speed service needed for today's digital offerings. That means nearly 1.7 million people statewide lack a fixed broadband connection.
Nationally, about 17 percent of Americans don't have such service.
The situation is worst in rural Alabama. About 56 percent of state residents living outside cities lack broadband service.
The FCC report says people living in states with the lowest population density are 10 times more likely to lack broadband service than people in high-density states.
January 31st, 2015
Southern Christian Leadership Conference leaders meet in Tuscaloosa to discuss march, mission - With 2015 marking the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 becoming law, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) is mounting an awareness campaign in hopes of spreading its message of nonviolent tolerance around the globe.
Symbolically, the efforts will begin next month in Selma, with the Bloody Sunday march reenactment and commemoration.
Bloody Sunday — March 7, 1965 — has become synonymous with the successful 45-mile, three-day March for the Right to Vote that, after two failed attempts, was finally completed on March 21 after the court system ruled that halting the march was unconstitutional.
The march was but one key moment in a series of events that ultimately led to the passage of the federal Voting Rights Act in 1965, due in large part to the nonviolent protest efforts led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the group that he co-founded and led, the SCLC.
On Friday, the current leadership of the SCLC — President and CEO Charles Steele Jr. and Bernard LaFayette Jr., chairman of the national SCLC board — came to Tuscaloosa to discuss the upcoming anniversary march and the future of the SCLC.
"It's not only a commemoration," LaFayette said, "but a continuation.
"What can we do to make sure that this isn't just an historical event?"
What the SCLC is planning to do is re-create the march from Selma to Montgomery starting on March 9, the Monday after the traditional Bloody Sunday commemoration.
The SCLC's march will end days of festivities that will include President Barack Obama visiting Selma.
Steele, a Tuscaloosa native, said the efforts of the SCLC and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 led directly to the election of Obama as America's first black president.
The group's work, however, is not complete, she said.
"What we were marching for then, we're marching for now. And that's sad," Steele said. "It's easier to obtain than to maintain."
Steele and the SCLC leadership, which had gathered at Bethel Baptist Church on 25th Street for an annual meeting with local chapters and affiliates, are challenging the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling last year that cut away a key piece of the Voting Rights Act.
In that decision, the Supreme Court ruled on a case that originated out of Shelby County challenging the law's requirement that the U.S. Justice Department review, or "preclear," any changes to the election process or voting districts in states that historically had engaged in overt efforts to prevent minorities from voting.
The court's ruling eliminated that provision, deeming it no longer necessary.
Steele asserted Friday that the country has not become tolerant enough to remove this requirement, especially for states in the Deep South.
"Alabama is the breeding ground for civil rights in America. I'm proud to be from Alabama," said Steele, who also served on the Tuscaloosa City Council and in the Alabama Senate. "That's why we're here in Tuscaloosa. We're here to rejuvenate the world from Tuscaloosa.
"The SCLC is God's gift to the free world."
Steele and LaFayette both told of how leaders and officials around the world have sought the SCLC's assistance in spreading reform through nonviolence.
Nonviolence was the pillar of King's message before his assassination on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tenn., and the SCLC leaders said it was critical that this tenet be upheld.
"We've been working quietly all over," LaFayette said. "Now, we have to look at how we can use our resources to change the violent situations (across the globe).
"We believe — and we are bold enough to say it — that nonviolence is the answer."
Reach Jason Morton at jason.morton@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0200.
January 31st, 2015
Pre-kindergarten registration opens Monday for Tuscaloosa City Schools - Parents can register children for pre-kindergarten beginning Monday during regular hours at Tuscaloosa City Schools.
Children must be 4 years old on or before Sept. 2 and live in the city schools' zone.
Parents must bring a birth certificate, a blue immunization card and three proofs of residency (lease/mortgage and two current public utility bills) to register.
Pre-kindergarten registration ends Feb. 27.
January 31st, 2015
Portion of Kicker Road to be closed Saturday for repair - Kicker Road between Hickory Lane and 24th Street East will be closed from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m. Saturday.
A news release from the Tuscaloosa Department of Transportation states that the closure is needed for sewer repair.
January 31st, 2015
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley asks to keep gay marriage ruling on hold - MONTGOMERY | Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley is asking an appellate court to stay a judge's decision that overturned Alabama's ban on gay marriage.
In a Friday filing with the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, lawyers for Bentley argued that states have a right to define marriage as between a man and a woman.
U.S. District Judge Callie V. S. Granade last week overturned Alabama's gay marriage bans, potentially making Alabama the 37th state where gays can legally wed.
Granade put her order on hold until Feb. 9 to give the state time to appeal.
The Alabama attorney general has asked to put the decision on hold until the U.S. Supreme Court takes up the issue of gay marriage later this year.
Alabama plaintiffs Cari Searcy and Kimberly McKeand filed a federal lawsuit after courts refused to let Searcy be recognized as the adoptive parent of their son because they were not spouses under Alabama law. Searcy and McKeand have been a couple for more than 15 years and have a son together who was conceived with the help of a sperm donor.
Alabama has two laws banning gay marriage, a state statute and a constitutional amendment called the "Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment" that was approved by voters in 2006. Granade said both were in violation of the equal-protection and due-process clauses of the U.S. Constitution.
Granade rejected arguments from Alabama that the state had an interest in promoting marriage between men and women for the benefit of children. She said the state does not ban marriage for couples who are infertile, elderly or want to remain childless, and she said children of gay couples are equally deserving of protection under the law.
January 31st, 2015
Quilts tell civil rights story - STOP! The word is strung together with bright red thread, coming from the mouth of a fabric boy as he is attacked by a faux-fur black dog baring its sharp teeth and gums of red and white cotton.
The pieces of fabric are stitched into a quilt to depict the Birmingham Children’s Crusade during the civil rights movement, where police unleashed dogs and firefighters sprayed high-powered water hoses at peaceful protestors.
The quilt is called “Dog Attack,” and it is one of seven quilts portraying the events of the civil rights movement, stitched by the hands of a woman who lived and worked in a time when blacks were deprived of their rights because of the color of their skin.
The quilts, made by folk quilt artist Yvonne Wells, will be on display at the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center Arts Council Gallery on Greensboro Avenue during the month of February for the “Civil Rights: Two Decades of Change” exhibit.
The exhibit will open on Feb. 6 with a reception from 5-8 p.m. and will be on display from 9 a.m. to noon and 1-4 p.m. weekdays through Feb. 27.
Other major civil rights events represented by the quilts include the march from Selma to Montgomery across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Scottsboro Boys and others.
“Events that happened during the civil rights era — during the time that so much injustice was brought forward — are what I have tried to capture, because it is so important to learn from this and move forward and not make the same mistake that was made at that time.”
Wells captured the events using fabric, buttons and other materials — some bought at thrift stores, some used clothes from her pajama drawer and some given by friends and strangers.
She used black and white fabric to illustrate segregation. Dark colors and rough textures represent troubled times. She used fabrics with prints like shoes to illustrate the civil rights marches and musical staffs to illustrate freedom songs.
Freedom and religion are common themes throughout her quilts.
Soaring birds, the American flag and fabric with the word “freedom” on it illustrate freedom. On every quilt Wells makes, she stitches a triangle about the size of a fingertip, which stands for the trinity — father, son and holy spirit.
Wells said the use of different prints, colors, shapes and textures tell a story that helps people who might not know about the civil rights movement understand what happened.
“They’re not so much beautiful as they are educational,” she said. “It’s all about education. It’s about leaving something for those who come after me to have some type of guideline.”
Sharron Rudowski, education director for the arts council, said the council chose to display Wells’ quilts to educate people, especially students, about Black History Month in February.
“(The quilts) give a visualization of (history), another way to tell the story, not just through words in a textbook,” Rudowski said. “The quilts are another way to tell history.”
Wells’ quilts have told the history of the civil rights movement in museums and galleries across the United States and in Italy, France and Japan.
Locally, her quilts have been displayed at the Birmingham Civil Rights Museum, Kentuck Museum, Paul R. Jones Gallery and the Murphy African-American Museum among others.
Wells said she started teaching herself to quilt in 1979 because it was fun. She was urged by a friend to display her work at the Kentuck Arts Festival in 1985 and has been showing her quilts ever since.
“It felt good to do this. This was a chance to say on quilts what I was unable to say verbally,” she said. “A lot of people can sing and tell their story. I quilt and tell my story.”
January 30th, 2015
Lauderdale County officers find meth during traffic stop - LEIGHTON | Police in Leighton say a Lauderdale County man was arrested after officers found methamphetamine in his shoes during a traffic stop.
Leighton Police Chief Brandon Hood tells the TimesDaily newspaper (http://bit.ly/1zfTnMY ) 34-year-old Paul Richard Willis of Florence faces charges of unlawful possession of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia.
Hood says Willis was a passenger in a car that was stopped for speeding. Hood says Willis tried to kick his shoes off and kick them under the car after the driver gave officers permission to search the car. When he did that, Hood said, meth fell out of Willis' shoes.
Willis was being held without bond in the Colbert County jail. It was not immediately clear whether he had a lawyer.
January 30th, 2015
2 pounds of marijuana confiscated in Tuscaloosa County - A tip from the public led to the confiscation of about 2 pounds of marijuana Thursday afternoon, according to a news release from the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies with the Crime Suppression Unit and the K-9 unit recovered the marijuana early Thursday afternoon. Sgt. Alex Miles states in the news release that the marijuana was found near a housing area in the southern part of the county.
The evidence has been sent to the Tuscaloosa County Crime Scene Investigations Unit for processing.
The investigation is continuing, the news release states.
January 30th, 2015
Auburn's Bruce Pearl acknowledges this won't be typical road trip - KNOXVILLE, Tenn. | Auburn coach Bruce Pearl doesn't bother pretending that his return to Tennessee is just another game.
Pearl, who led Tennessee to NCAA tournament appearances in each of his six seasons as the Volunteers' coach, is coming back to Thompson-Boling Arena on Saturday to coach against his former team for the first time since his 2011 firing.
"From the minute I walk in that building and get off the bus, there's going to be a camera in my face," Pearl said. "It'll walk me into the bathroom. That's just how it is. ... They're going to want to know every time I scratch my nose or every little emotion that's going through me. I understand that."
There should be plenty of emotion for those cameras to catch. Although he was fired amid an NCAA investigation that landed Tennessee's program on a two-year probation, Pearl remains so popular in Knoxville that fans circulated an online petition last season to bring him back as the Vols' coach.
"I'm not Dick Vermeil, but I can get watery," said Pearl, who is holding a charity fundraiser in Knoxville on Friday night. "I can't control it. It just happens."
Pearl returns to Knoxville three months after former Vols football coach Lane Kiffin came back to Tennessee as Alabama's offensive coordinator.
When Kiffin returned to town, banners around campus criticized the man who had left Tennessee for Southern California. Pearl figures to get a much warmer reception.
Kiffin "left on his own will and he kind of left us in the lurch after one year," said Michael Turner, a board member of the Big Orange Tipoff Club and a season ticketholder for over two decades. "Pearl was forced to leave. ... The fact (is) he did so much for basketball here, and so many people are so thankful for that. For most people, that was the heyday of Vol basketball."
Pearl went 145-61 at Tennessee and led the Vols to an NCAA regional final in 2010 and regional semifinal appearances in 2007 and 2008. Pearl received a show-cause penalty from the NCAA in 2011 that kept him away from coaching for three seasons before Auburn hired him in March.
Tennessee coach Donnie Tyndall, who has his own cloud hanging over him as the NCAA investigates his tenure at Southern Mississippi, says he'd be "shocked" if Pearl doesn't receive a "great ovation."
"Everything coach Pearl did here — from winning games to playing for championships to going to the Elite Eight, all those things should (be) and need to be recognized," Tyndall said. "In fact, we sell a lot of those things in our recruiting. I think people will be excited to see him."
Pearl, who didn't coach any of Tennessee's current players, isn't sure how fans will react.
"First of all, when they go, 'Bruce,' some will be booing and some will be 'Bru-ing,' " Pearl said. "I don't know which one it's going to be."
Pearl's showmanship helped make Tennessee basketball an event around town. The Vols' home attendance soared from 12,225 the year before his arrival to a peak of 20,483 in 2008-09. He's having a similar impact at Auburn, where home attendance is up 32.4 percent.
"I think he's going to enjoy being back and seeing everybody from the arena managers to former trainers to ushers," said SEC Network analyst Dane Bradshaw, who played for Tennessee from 2003-07. "Anybody who was around Bruce felt like he was a good friend and (that they) could approach him. If anything, he'll have to probably try to make sure he spends enough time with his team in the locker room before the game versus hugging and shaking hands with a bunch of old friends."
Pearl is trying to sort out those emotions as he prepares for a game that neither team can afford to lose. Tennessee (12-7, 4-3 SEC) is seeking to end a two-game skid. Auburn (10-10, 2-5) has dropped three straight.
"From the minute we get in that huddle to start playing, there won't be any different emotion as it relates to coaching, as it relates to the game," Pearl said. "My preparation prior to (it) has been the same. It's been consistent.
"I'm sure that in the moments leading up to tip, that it'll be difficult."
January 30th, 2015
Tooth-pulling truck driver shuts down I-20/59 in Tuscaloosa for almost 10 hours - A commercial driver attempting to extract an unwanted tooth was behind the hours-long shutdown of Interstate 20/59 that began Sunday night and continued into Monday morning.
Alabama State Troopers said the Los Angeles-based driver, whose name was redacted from the report, admitted to pulling his own tooth while behind the wheel of the 2009 Volvo semi-truck.
“The driver stated he lost control when he was pulling a tooth with his hands,” the trooper wrote in the accident report. “He had the tooth in his shirt pocket as proof.”
No other injuries to either the driver or any other motorist were reported as a result of the crash.
According to the report, the amateur dentistry allowed the northbound truck to drift off the eastern side of the interstate near the U.S. Highway 11 interchange, travel down an embankment and jackknife upon colliding with a wooded area.
Reported to state troopers at about 10:16 p.m. Sunday, Trooper Reginal King, public information officer for the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, sent out a media alert at 5:22 a.m. Monday saying the northbound lanes remained closed.
The closure required State Troopers and officials with the Alabama Department of Transportation to assist motorists with detouring onto Skyland Boulevard at exit 76 and back onto I-20/59 at exit 79.
On Friday, King said the closure eventually lasted between eight and 10 hours.
Reach Jason Morton at jason.morton@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0200.
January 30th, 2015
Alabama couple arrested for cooking and using methamphetamine in front of their children - HARTSELLE, Ala. | Authorities say an Alabama husband and wife arrested on drug charges were cooking and using methamphetamine in front of children in their home.
Al.com reports (http://bit.ly/1HqsueC ) that 40-year-old Anthony Smith and 39-year-old Shawna Smith were charged with drug manufacturing, drug possession and drug endangerment of a child after police performed a welfare check Wednesday at their Hartselle home.
Morgan County Sheriff Ana Franklin says the check was ordered after drug task force officers got a tip the couple was making and using drugs in front of children. Investigators say they had a 17-year-old child and 10-month-old grandchild in the home.
The Morgan County Department of Human Resources removed the children from the home. It was not immediately known if the Smiths had attorneys.
January 30th, 2015
Thousands in Alabama are signing up for insurance under federal law - BIRMINGHAM | Thousands of additional Alabama residents are signing up for health insurance through the online exchange created by the federal Affordable Care Act.
Al.com reports 137,941 people in Alabama have signed up for health insurance using the federal exchange since the latest enrollment period opened in November. That's a 40.9 percent increase from the 97,870 people who signed up last year.
The number is bound to keep climbing in the next two weeks. The latest open enrollment period closes Feb. 15.
The latest statistics show that as of Jan. 15, the number of people enrolling has more than doubled in four Alabama counties. The leader was Choctaw County, where sign-ups have increased 131 percent.
January 30th, 2015
Alabama House speaker's ethics trial set for October - OPELIKA, Ala. | Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard will go to trial in October on ethics charges.
Prosecutors and defense lawyers agreed on an Oct. 19 trial date for the high-profile case during a Friday scheduling conference in Opelika.
Deputy Attorney General Matt Hart said the prosecution's case will take approximately two weeks.
A grand jury indicted the Auburn Republican in October on 23 felony ethics charges accusing him of using his public offices for personal benefit. He has pleaded not guilty.
Hubbard had originally been set for trial in March, which attorneys considered unrealistic. It would have coincided with the 2015 legislative session. The new trial date will fall after the session.
Lee County Circuit Judge Jacob Walker had the attorneys lay out a schedule for discovery and motion hearings.
January 30th, 2015
Organizations can apply for Junior League grants - Organizations can apply for a grant from the Junior League of Tuscaloosa, which has $3,720.82 available.
The money will be made available to projects and organizations that fulfill the Junior League's mission of promoting health, education and financial literacy in the Tuscaloosa community.
To download an application, go to the Junior League's website, www.jltuscaloosa.org, and click on the “Community” tab. Organizations can also contact Vanessa Rush, community vice president, at 205-345-7416 or come by the Junior League of Tuscaloosa office at 2139 Fourth St.
The application deadline is March 1.
January 29th, 2015
Help offered for preparing tax returns - AARP in conjunction with Focus on Senior Citizens will help people prepare their tax returns on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from Feb. 3 through April 15 at the Tuscaloosa Public Library, 1801 Jack Warner Parkway.
Tax returns will be prepared and e-filed at no cost to the taxpayer. For an appointment, call 205-758-3393.
January 29th, 2015
Deadline is Friday for school applications - The deadline is 3 p.m. Friday to complete an application for the Tuscaloosa Magnet schools, the Alberta School of Performing Arts or University Place schools.
Applications are available at the Tuscaloosa City Schools’ website, www.tuscaloosacityschools.com, or at any city school.
For students who apply to the Alberta School of Performing Arts, a supplemental application packet is due Monday.
Notification of acceptance for the Alberta School of Performing Arts, Tuscaloosa Magnet schools and University Place schools will be made mid-April.
January 29th, 2015
Birmingham couple gives $3 million gift to University of Alabama business college - University of Alabama administrators say a $3 million gift by an alumnus positions the Culverhouse College of Commerce to be a leader nationally in the field of value investing both at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
The gift by Birmingham-based businessman C.T. Fitzpatrick and his wife, Kelley Fitzpatrick, will be used to fund new endowed faculty positions and a trading floor and research library, facilities that will allow students to gain real-world experience on campus.
During a reception on campus Thursday, Fitzpatrick, joined by his wife, called value investing a unique skill set in high demand across many industries.
"The University of Alabama is going to be, I believe when it is all said and done, the best value-investing program in the nation," Fitzpatrick said.
Fitzpatrick praised the university, including past and present administrators and faculty, for the partnership on the program.
Fitzpatrick is the founder of Birmingham-based Vulcan Value Partners, where he manages more than $10 billion in assets, according to the announcement from UA.
"I am a value investor. I like to earn a return on an investment, and the university has gotten a great return on our charitable investment," Fitzpatrick said.
Professor Matt Holt, department head for Economics, Finance and Legal Studies, called the gift transformational.
"Now I am going to have a lot more tools," Holt said. "In fact, I am going to have a whole new tool kit."
UA President Judy Bonner echoed Holt's remarks, saying the gift would allow the Capstone to be a leader nationally in value investing.
"You gift will transform our classrooms," Bonner said.
The donation will fund the creation of the Vulcan Value Partners Research Library and Trading Room. The research library and trading room will be located in Bidgood Hall. The trading room, complete with stock tickers, will allow students to conduct live trades with funds previously donated by Fitzpatrick and other alumni, according to a release from UA. The accompanying research library will allow students to research investments.
"They are really investing, real money," Business Dean Michael Hardin said of the Culverhouse Investment Management Group, a team of undergraduate students who manage an equity investment portfolio.
The college is working on plans for the trading floor and research library, and Hardin said he hopes the new facilities will be in place within a year.
The gift will also be used to create the Fitzpatrick Endowed Chair and a second Fitzpatrick endowed professorship in value investing. The existing endowed value-investing professorship is held by associate professor Shane Underwood.
The addition of the endowed positions, and the prestige they bring, will allow the college to attract faculty and allow the department to offer more courses, Hardin said.
Hardin anticipates it will take six months to a year in the recruiting cycle to fill the positions.
The gift sets an example of generosity by alumni who believe in the leadership of the college, the importance of economic development and training and educating new leaders, and a reminder of the many resources required to be a top business school, Hardin said.
"For all those reasons, this is an important day for us," Hardin said.
January 29th, 2015
Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center director sad, excited at leaving - Next week will be the last for Maria R. Andrews as the director of the Tuscaloosa Veterans Affairs Medical Center. She has been appointed as the new director of the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta, Ga.
Andrews, a native of Pennsylvania, was the first female director of the Tuscaloosa VA. She was appointed to the position in March 2013 after 34 years working in the VA system.
“I have mixed emotions,” Andrews said Thursday. “I’m very excited and honored for the opportunity to serve more veterans, but I’m saddened about leaving Tuscaloosa.”
The Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center is larger than the Tuscaloosa VA, serving approximately 45,000 veterans in two separate hospitals, and has about 2,500 employees. In comparison, the Tuscaloosa VA serves about 16,000 veterans and has about 1,000 employees on a single campus.
Before coming to Tuscaloosa, she served as associate director and chief operating officer at the VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System in Las Vegas, where she oversaw more than 1,800 employees and a $400 million budget.
During her time at the Tuscaloosa VA, Andrews said she has enjoyed the atmosphere and work culture shared by the veterans and the employees.
“What I’ve enjoyed the most is the interaction of the veterans that we serve and the attitude of the employees,” Andrews said. “The employees at the Tuscaloosa VA are truly patient-centered. I’ve taken great pride leading an organization with that kind of culture.”
Every year the Tuscaloosa develops a strategic plan, and for 2015 there are 15 initiatives the hospital has taken on, which they call “15 for 15.” Andrews said she hopes to see those completed, even in her absence.
“One of the initiatives is a walk-in ‘minute-clinic’ that would allow the veteran who needs a quick assessment for an illness to be treated in a timely manner and can recover without having to make an appointment,” Andrews said.
The clinic is set to open in the coming weeks.
“One of the other things we are doing is improving the efficiency of our operations,” Andrews said. “The goal is to improve the efficiency of our systems and processes for care, with better care, timely and cost-effective care.”
Andrews’ last day will be Feb. 6, and she will start her new position in Augusta on Feb. 9.
“Ms. Andrews has a proven track record as an exceptional health care leader,” said VA Southeast Network Director Charles Sepich in a statement. “In her 35-year career with VA, she’s held many key leadership positions and has outstanding qualifications.”
An interim director for the Tuscaloosa VA will likely be announced soon, said Damon Stevenson, spokesman of the Tuscaloosa VA, followed by a search by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to fill the vacancy.
Reach Lydia Seabol Avant at lydia.seabolavant@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0222.
January 29th, 2015
Resegregation is starting point for University of Alabama's UnlockED panel - Close your eyes.
Imagine a school with a talented and gifted classroom. In your mind, what do the students in that classroom look like?
If you walked by that classroom and everyone in it was black, would you find that odd?
Now think about remedial classes and the students who are suspended. What color are those kids?
“Open your eyes,” said ProPublica investigative reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones, who led a packed room of people at the University of Alabama's Shelby Hall through the exercise Thursday.
“What it gets down to, is do you really think black kids can learn the same way that white kids can?” she said. “I can't find a school where white kids aren't disproportionately represented in the best classes, and where black kids aren't disproportionately represented in the worst classes.
“It doesn't matter if it's a 70 percent black district like Tuscaloosa, or a 10 percent black district. It doesn't matter if it's in New York or Mississippi. That's saying something. That's saying we actually don't really believe that these kids are equal.”
Hannah-Jones was one of five panelists who participated in a forum at UA Thursday called “Confronting Reality: Race in Our Public Schools.”
The forum was hosted by UnlockEd, a student organization that's centered around the idea of educational equity for every student regardless of background and socioeconomic status.
Mark Hammontree, director of policy and research for UnlockEd, said it held the forum because the group wanted to inform students about some of these issue they're not aware when it comes to race and segregation in public schools.
“The forum is to discuss the various issues, causes, effects of race and how it functions in our public schools,” Hammontree said. “The impetus for it was the article by Nikole Hannah-Jones 'Segregation Now,' which was about resegregation of Tuscaloosa City Schools.”
“Segregation Now” was published by ProPublica, a New York City-based nonprofit investigative news organization, on April 16, 2014. The article traces the history of how Tuscaloosa City Schools went from segregation, to desegregation and ultimately to resegregation.
The other panelists were Nirmala Ervelles, a professor of social and cultural studies in education at UA and the mother a daughter who attends a Tuscaloosa City School; Utz McKnight, the chair of the Department of Gender and Race Studies and associate professor of political science at UA; Tuscaloosa City Board of Education Vice Chair Earnestine Tucker; and Mary Burke Givens, a clinical assistant professor in the social and cultural studies program in the College of Education at UA.
Collectively, the panelists expressed a myriad of ways how racism and segregation still exist in public education all over the country.
They said people in positions of power have made intentional decisions to gerrymander public school zoning lines to keep white children in public schools that are somewhat segregated. They said schools have been segregated by academic performance, leaving poor minorities who have historically been underserved stuck in schools that are given the bottom of the barrel in resources.
They said one of the main issues with racism is no longer the KKK, but people who are more focused on order rather than justice. Another issue they mentioned is how many people don't want their children going to school with people who they don't deem as good enough racially, intellectually or socioeconomically.
When asked what can people do about it, Tucker said equal access to facilities and to programs would go a long way.
“If there's a program that's north of the river, that same program should be offered to those children in the western cluster,” Tucker said. “The thing we have to become more cognitive of is to pass some of the equality around. Your best-performing teacher should go to your lower-
performing school. We have to make a conscious effort to make sure that we raise the quality of education. Also, each of us in this community needs to make a commitment to make a difference.”
Hannah-Jones said it was sad that a school board member in 2015 still has to suggest that if resources were equality distributed to every school, education would get better.
Reach Jamon Smith at jamon.smith@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0204.
January 29th, 2015
NASA astronaut memorial stirs memories for shuttle veteran - HUNTSVILLE | Each year around this time, NASA honors fallen astronauts, including the 17 men and women killed in three separate wintertime accidents in the sky and on the earth.
For Robert "Hoot" Gibson, it's a time to remember lost friends and some of their stunts, like playing a saxophone in orbit.
Gibson, who flew on five space shuttle missions, knew each of the 14 astronauts who died in the Challenger explosion on Jan. 28, 1986, and in the Columbia disaster on Feb. 1, 2003.
On Thursday, he lit a candle of remembrance during a ceremony at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. Behind him hung a photo of astronauts including Ron McNair.
Gibson and McNair were crewmates aboard Challenger during a mission in February 1984. McNair, a black belt in karate who also played jazz saxophone, serenaded the crew with music.
"He played 'What the World Needs Now is Love,' and we put together a video," Gibson said in an interview.
The memorial came a day after the 29th anniversary of the Challenger explosion, in which McNair and six other astronauts died. Seven astronauts were killed aboard Columbia, and three died during ground testing of Apollo 1 in January 1967.
The memorial also honored another 40 one-time astronauts have died of various causes since NASA began.
Gibson left NASA in 1996 after post-flight work that included serving as chief astronaut. Now 68, the one-time Navy fight pilot lives in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
Gibson feels fortunate to have flown in space, and he still remembers those who didn't make it back.
"You think about the contributions that those people made, and all the wonderful things they did and all the wonderful things that they were going to do in the future," he said.
January 29th, 2015
Alabama task force hears ideas on prison overcrowding - COLUMBIANA | Recommendations to decrease overcrowding in state prisons include hiring more probation officers and creating a new felony class for low-level offenses.
The Alabama Prison Reform Task Force heard a slate of recommendations Thursday from the Council of State Governments.
Andy Barbee from the group estimated that the proposed changes would reduce the prison population from nearly 200 percent to 162 percent of designed capacity by 2021.
Alternatively, he said the state would have to add 6,000 prison beds to bring crowding down to 130 percent. That's a level courts have found acceptable.
Barbee said that construction would cost the state an estimated $420 million.
Task Force Chairman Cam Ward said the state will have a need a combination of changes as well as new prisons.
January 29th, 2015
Alabama woman accused in Medicaid fraud arrested - MONTGOMERY | A Bessemer woman accused in a scheme to defraud Medicaid of money meant to reimburse the cost of treating her child's terminal illness has been arrested.
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange said Thursday that 34-year-old Sonia Judd Coleman is charged with filing false claims and theft of property. Authorities say she's accused of conspiring with pharmacist Alan Bruce Connell, who has also been arrested.
Investigators say Coleman billed the Alabama Medicaid Agency for more than $50,000 in medication that her child needed. Strange says a review of the pharmacy's records showed that it didn't have enough of the medication to cover what Coleman had billed the Alabama Medicaid Agency for.
It's unclear if Coleman and Connell have attorneys.
January 29th, 2015
Gadsden's tougher smoking ban takes effect Sunday - GADSDEN | A tougher smoking ordinance goes into effect Sunday in Gadsden.
The ordinance prohibits smoking in all enclosed areas of employment in the city. That includes restaurant and bars. It also bans smoking within 20 feet of public entrances to buildings.
The City Council passed the ordinance in June, but delayed enforcement until Feb. 1.
Advocates say it will protect the public from secondhand smoke. But the owner of the Bingo Center, Don Shankles, tells the Gadsden Times (http://bit.ly/1Chn3eL ) that his customers are heartbroken because many like to smoke during the games. He's concerned it will reduce the bingo revenue that goes to charities.
January 29th, 2015
Alabama Senator Richard Shelby announces plans to seek re-election - U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby announced Thursday that he will seek re-election in 2016.
Shelby, a Republican from Tuscaloosa, will be seeking his sixth 6-year term. He won his first Senate term in 1986 running as a Democrat. He switched to the Republican Party in 1992.
Shelby was a member of the U.S. House, representing Tuscaloosa and much of West Alabama for four terms, before he was elected to the U.S. Senate. He started his political career, by serving in the Alabama State Senate, representing Tuscaloosa.
Shelby, who is 80, is chairman of the Senate banking committee. He reportedly has $18 million in his campaign fund.
January 29th, 2015
Alabama gay couple wants court victory to take effect - MONTGOMERY | The couple that toppled Alabama's gay marriage ban is urging an appellate court to let the judge's ruling take effect.
Lawyers for Cari Searcy and Kim McKeand on Thursday asked the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta to reject Alabama's request to place the ruling on hold for months.
The Alabama attorney general asked the 11th Circuit to stay the judge's order until the U.S. Supreme Court issues an anticipated ruling on gay marriage later this year.
Lawyers for the couple say it is irrational to keep families waiting. The lawyers said gay couples are harmed every day that they don't have the legal protection of married families.
A federal judge in Mobile overturned Alabama's ban on same-sex marriages on Friday.
January 29th, 2015
University of Alabama presidential search committee meets - A committee tasked with recommending candidates to replace University of Alabama President Judy Bonner met Thursday to discuss attributes sought in the next leader and timelines for the search.
The 24-person committee was formed after Bonner announced plans in December to step down by the end of September and return to teaching after a yearlong sabbatical.
The committee would like to see a charismatic, student-focused leader capable of continuing the growth of the last decade, said UA Board of Trustees President Pro tem Karen Brooks, who is the committee chairwoman. Brooks addressed the discussion generally after the meeting at the Bryant Conference Center.
“We have been on a transformative shift for the last 10 years,” Brooks said. “But it cannot stop, it must continue.”
The committee is expected to meet again within a month. While Bonner has expressed a desire to begin her sabbatical by the beginning of October, Brooks said personally she would not want the committee to be limited by that timeframe in its search.
“I think it is not fair to charge the group with having the next president on board by a specific date,” she said.
The committee of system and campus administrators, trustees, alumni, students and faculty is scheduled to begin reviewing applications sometime in February. Consultant Ann Die Hasselmo of the Washington, D.C.-based firm Academic Search Inc. is assisting with the search.
The search committee will make a recommendation to the system chancellor, who will make a final recommendation of the candidate to the UA Board of Trustees for approval.
Brooks said the initial pool could be as many as 200 candidates, divided evenly between prospects from private and public institutions.
UA System Executive Vice Chancellor Ray Hayes, a vice chairman of the committee, indicated the early stages of candidate review will likely remain confidential.
“We will be interested in people who don't want their name identified publicly unless they are named a finalist,” Hayes said.
The task before the groups is to identify a pool and winnow it down to identify a top-quality candidate, Hayes said. The process would likely include candidates who respond to the advertisements and those whom will have to be recruited to apply.
“I want to warn you, this is going to be a hands-on job,” Hayes said. “I am going to ask you to roll up your sleeves.”
During his introductory comments, UA System Chancellor Robert Witt, the committee's other vice chairman, offered the assurance he would be accessible during the process and keep the faculty informed.
In addition to Brooks, trustees on the committee include Finis St. John IV, Joseph Espy III, John England Jr. and John D. Johns.
UA administrators and faculty on the committee include UA Vice President of Research and Economic Development Carl Pinkert, Vice Provost of Information Technology John McGowan, College of Human Environmental Sciences Dean Milla D. Boschung, UA Associate Vice President for Financial Affairs Dana Keith, UA Faculty Senate President Steve Miller, English professor Robin Behn, biology professor Guy Caldwell, UA Dean of Students Tim Hebson, UA Director of Alumni Affairs Calvin Brown, UA Associate Dean and Honors College Director Jacqueline Morgan, Mechanical Engineering professor Clark Midkiff, UA Academic Assistant Dean at Capstone College of Nursing Melondie Carter, and Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Associate Dean David J. Heggem.
The committee also includes United Way of West Alabama President Jackie Wuska, UA National Alumni Association past President André J. Taylor, UA Student Government Association President Hamilton Bloom, and UA student Jayme Allen.
January 29th, 2015
Drivers with autism in Alabama get cards to show police - MONTGOMERY | The state health department will soon provide cards for Alabama drivers who have been diagnosed with autism disorders.
The Legislature passed a law last year to create the cards. A proponent of the ID cards, Republican Sen. Arthur Orr of Decatur, said they should be ready in March.
The cards can be held by an individual during a traffic stop. They explain that the driver has an autism disorder and may have difficulty communicating or understanding directions. The cards also explain that the driver may become agitated if touched.
Orr said the cards are a tool to make sure law enforcement and citizens are safe during a potentially stressful situation.
Orr said people can apply for the cards at the state health department, and they will cost $10.
January 29th, 2015
Man convicted of killing motorist after car collision - MONTGOMERY | A man will spend life in prison after being convicted of killing a motorist after a car collision in Montgomery County.
The Montgomery Advertiser reports (http://on.mgmadv.com/1yQhIIz) that a jury on Wednesday found 23-year-old Nicholas Harris guilty of capital murder in the killing of Darrell Howard Jr.
Authorities said Howard was fatally shot in his car after getting into a car accident with a black Chevrolet Impala driven by Josh Sanders and carrying Harris, a passenger. Prosecutors said Harris and Sanders got out of the car and both shot at Howard after the wreck on May 24, 2013.
The Montgomery newspaper reports that Sanders is still awaiting trial. No date has been set by the court.
January 29th, 2015
Basketball team gives 1st shot to hurt player on other team - HALEYVILLE, | It's called sportsmanship, plain and simple.
When Haleyville senior Taylor Lollar tore her ACL mid volleyball season, she knew her playing was over for the rest of the season. It was the same heartbreaking verdict for her basketball season.
The October injury would take six months to heal, and doctors said basketball was out of the question for the three-year starter nicknamed "The Beast" by her family for her fierce competitiveness.
Suddenly she found herself a spectator, but she stayed court-side game after game with her team, encouraging them all season.
Then on Monday night, the Central Wildcats came to town on Haleyville's senior night.
The Lions coach, Elyse Aldridge, previously had contacted Central coach Norman Lovelady with a request to allow Lollar the opening two points.
They'd be the only two points she'd get all season.
"(Coach Aldridge) said it would mean so much to her because she's such a competitor and had been such a major factor for their team," Lovelady said. "I said of course we would allow it. I'd actually met Taylor before. I went to school with her dad, and he'd introduced me at a game one night."
Aldridge said she wanted to do something special for Taylor on her senior night because "she worked so hard all summer and even after the injury continued to come to every practice and game and was always there to encourage the team."
So before a full Haleyville crowd, one of the team's three seniors got the uncontested tip, passed it to the second senior who passed to a waiting Lollar in her usual post position. She put it up for two to start the game.
The crowd, Central fans included, jumped to its feet in a standing ovation with a roar that brought Lollar to tears. Her teammates were wiping tears. Central's players were wiping tears. Lovelady was emotional and joked "even the refs were teared up."
"It was absolutely the highlight of the game," Lovelady said. "That young lady deserved it. Everybody in the place got emotional."
For Lollar, it was a gift she'll always cherish. The teams were well matched and the game could have gone either way. It was tight through the third period until Central pulled away to take a 58-38 win.
"I can't explain how the emotion of it all just overtook me," Lollar said, "When the crowd stood and I saw their emotion, it's like it just hit me that this community cares about me and my team really loves me and wanted this for me. You're really fortunate to ever get to see that kind of love and compassion. I didn't take it for granted."
Neither did the Central Wildcats, said senior Abby Keener. She also had sustained a debilitating knee injury, first in eighth grade, then again in the 11th grade with meniscus surgery taking her out of sports for two months.
"This was her senior year and I know the devastation of a knee injury," Keener said. "In my case, I could look forward to another season, but this girl didn't have that. There's no way we wouldn't have let her score those points. I'm just so grateful that it was our team that got to be there and be a part of it. It was awesome for us all, and there's not a girl on our team who would have (begrudged) her if we'd even lost by two."
Aldridge said her practice has always been to start seniors on senior night, and this year was to be no exception.
"We did this out of respect for Taylor because it may be called senior night, but our whole team really believed it was Taylor night. I believe you have to give back to these players that go over and above."
Taylor also finished the game as well, in keeping with Aldridge's promise that her seniors would start and finish.
"She finished the last 30 seconds on the court," Aldridge said. "She stood right in front of me so I could grab her if anything weird happened."
Lollar's father, Shannon, said seeing his daughter start and finish the game touched his heart, adding that Lovelady's gesture spoke to the class of the coach and his team.
"I know Norman and he's a competitor," Lollar said. "But it's also obvious he has a heart for kids and for him, it was about more than points on a scoreboard. He'll never know what that meant to Taylor and to us as her parents."
The day after the game, Haleyville radio announcer Grady "Butch" Foster sent a letter to Central Principal Ryan Harrison praising Lovelady for his outstanding show of character in sportsmanship.
"I've never seen such a great display of sportsmanship as I saw on Monday at that game," he wrote. "... The character (Lovelady) displayed is hard to find in this day and time."
Taylor Lollar agreed. "He was really selfless in giving me that moment."
Harrison said he couldn't be more proud of Lovelady or the Lady Wildcat program.
"What happened on Monday, that's what it's all about," Harrison said. "I couldn't be more proud of them. "
January 29th, 2015
Police officer collapses while on a call and dies - TOWN CREEK | Authorities say a police officer collapsed and died while on duty in the northern Alabama city of Town Creek.
Town Creek Police Chief Jerry Garrett said 47-year-old Officer Roger Odell had picked up two Decatur runaways from an apartment complex around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday.
The TimesDaily reports (http://bit.ly/1EREy3n) that after placing the teens in the back seat of his patrol car without incident, Odell started walking to the apartment where the pair had been found.
Garrett said Odell walked about seven to 10 steps from the patrol car and collapsed. The chief said one of the teens was able to reach the car radio and tell dispatch to send an ambulance.
Lawrence County Coroner Greg Randolph said Odell was then taken to Lawrence Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
January 29th, 2015
Tuscaloosa County BOE OKs new bell schedule for 2015-16 school year - Beginning in the fall, Tuscaloosa County school students will have a seven-period daily schedule.
The county school board voted 6-1 earlier this week to switch from an eight-period schedule, which proved to be unpopular.
“Last year, the board asked me to look at the schedule and recommend changes,” said Superintendent Elizabeth Swinford. “That's what I did. I've been talking to teachers (and) students, and I had the community forums. So it turns out that eight periods is too much, especially when we went from a block, which is four classes.”
The county school board voted to change from a four-period block (four 96-minute classes per day)to an eight-period schedule (eight 35-minute classes) at its Oct. 29, 2012, meeting. The change was strongly opposed by the majority of teachers, principals and surveyed parents. Despite the outcry, the board thought an eight-period day would be best and approved it at the recommendation of an interim superintendent.
After two years on the eight-period schedule, board members said they realized that it wasn't the best decision, but neither was staying on the four-period block.
“(Two years ago,) we concluded that teachers and parents needed an eight-period day to have a collaborative/planning period, but I didn't think that was best because I thought it would take away from their teaching time,” said Bill Copeland, the board member who most strongly advocated changing the schedule.
“Teachers wanted to stay with the block schedule, but my problem with the block is it was too long and teachers weren't teaching the whole time. They'd teach some and then the kids were sitting there. Also, when a student missed school, they missed too much. I think this (new seven-period schedule) will work fine.”
School board member Joe Boteler — the only board member who voted against the change — said he was against changing the schedule without first getting in-depth input from their stakeholders, such as teachers.
Swinford said the seven-period schedule was created with the input of parents, students and teachers.
Under the new schedule, each of the seven class periods will last about 55 minutes — a 20-minute increase in class time from the eight-period schedule.
The schedule also gives schools the option of determining what happens during those periods.
“What we're asking for with flexibility is not all schools have to have the same bell schedule,” Swinford said. “It's very difficult for smaller schools to try to live up to the same bell schedule as larger schools, and vice versa. There's also certain schools that have programs that students (who attend different schools) can attend. We tried to look at those programs and the driving time it would take the buses to get (to one school from another), and because of that, all schools can't have the same bell schedule.
“Also, some schools ... have to (work) remediation classes (into the schedule) so they can try to catch students up and keep them up.”
The board also approved changing the required number of credits to graduate high school from 28 to 24. Twenty-four credits is what the state of Alabama requires for a student to graduate.
“We asked, 'How many kids would graduate this year if we dropped the credits to 24?' ” Swinford said. “We would have been able to graduate 100 more kids. So that was our starting point.”
The graduation credit change will go into effect next school year.
Reach Jamon Smith at jamon.smith@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0204.
January 29th, 2015
Lynnie Guzman named Tuscaloosa News advertising director - Lynnie Guzman has joined The Tuscaloosa News as director of advertising.
She previously was multi-media sales manager for the News Press Media Group in Fort Myers, Fla.
Guzman said she started her newspaper career in Americus, Ga., working at the newspaper’s front counter and helping walk-in customers with everything from placing obituaries to taking classified advertisements. She soon was promoted to an advertising sales executive.
She later worked for Appen Newspapers Inc. in Alpharetta, Ga., where she was sales manager before joining News Press Media, a Gannett Company, in Fort Myers.
Guzman’s father is a retired Marine, and Guzman describes herself as a military brat who was born in Hawaii and lived in South Carolina, Japan, Tennessee and then back in Hawaii by the time she was a teenager. Her father retired from the Marine Corps and settled in Tennessee when she was in high school. As a teen, her first jobs were working at a resort in the summer, which helped lead her into a career in advertising sales.
“My passion for taking care of customers I believe stems from working in the service-based industries as a teen,” she said, noting she during summers she taught wind surfing, snorkeling and kayaking and later waited tables. That early experience in working with customers led to her first newspaper job, she said.
At The Tuscaloosa News, Guzman said she wants to help customers achieve success in their businesses.
During the last several years, the digital or online side of the news industry has grown, she said. Her goal in Tuscaloosa is to help advertisers grow their market share through the use of both digital and print media offered by The News.
Guzman and her husband, Miguel Guzman, and their 5-year-old daughter, Marianna, recently moved to Tuscaloosa.
“As an adult, I have lived in Kentucky, Florida, Georgia and now Alabama,” Lynnie Guzman said. “Nothing beats Southern hospitality and weather.”
January 28th, 2015
University of West Alabama plans proscribed burn Thursday, Friday near Lake LU - The University of West Alabama plans a proscribed burn on campus near Lake LU Thursday and Friday as part of its prairie restoration plan.
The university plans a series of small fires on the north side of campus near the lake and along the nature trails, said Robby Limerick, the Lake LU manager. Limerick estimated the burn would include as much as 5 acres.
The annual proscribed burn typically takes two days, said Lee Stanton, an assistant professor and director of the Black Belt Conservation and Research Institute. The university plans to conduct the burn between noon and 5 p.m. on both days.
The university is advising visitors not to be alarmed if smoke is visible over the campus. The Livingston Fire and Police departments and the Alabama Forestry Commission will be on standby to assist if needed, according to the university.
UWA plans larger burns of the prairie area north of the lake next month, Limerick said. Officials plan to conduct a burn on approximately 40 acres on the northern side of the campus near the Lake LU Nature Trails, according to Stanton.
The area scheduled for the burn is predominantly grasses, Stanton said.
“It’s really more of a flash in the pan,” Stanton said of the burn.
The proscribed burn is part of a management program that has been going on for at least a decade. The burns help preserve the Blackland Prairie ecosystem, which is evolved for regular fires, by killing weeds and exotic species.
The fires promote the health of native prairie plants and support wildlife, including bobwhite quail, grasshopper sparrows and bobcat, according to the announcement from UWA.
January 28th, 2015
Fourth person arrested in violent home invasion in Northport - Investigators have accused a fourth person who they say was involved in a violent home invasion robbery earlier this month.
Joshua Esco of Montgomery was charged with attempted murder, first-degree burglary and first-degree robbery on Tuesday afternoon.
Esco, 22, and three other men are accused of kicking in the door of a home on 19th Avenue in Northport on Jan. 4. Investigators said that eight to 10 members of a Hispanic family were sleeping in the house during the 3:30 a.m. break-in.
One of the two residents who fought the attackers was shot twice in the abdomen.
Tuscaloosa County Metro Homicide Unit investigators believe that three to five suspects targeted the family because they are Hispanic.
The intruders forced open the interior bedroom doors after kicking in the back door.
Investigators believe that cellphones, personal items and money were taken, but they’re not sure how much.
The other suspects include Brandon Lee May, 20, Terrance Dewayne May, 23, and Kilo Demon Dickerson, 22.
The Mays and Esco are all charged with attempted murder, first-degree burglary and first-degree robbery. They are being held at the Tuscaloosa County Jail with bond set at $180,000.
Dickerson faces the same charges and an additional third-degree burglary charge. He is being held on $195,000 bond.
According to court records, Brandon May told officers that he, Terrance May, Dickerson and an unknown man planned the crime and cased the house several days before the break-in.
Reach Stephanie Taylor at stephanie.taylor@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0210.
January 28th, 2015
Faunsdale man arrested in Domino's Pizza robbery in Tuscaloosa - A Faunsdale man is accused of robbing Domino’s Pizza on Skyland Boulevard earlier this month.
Thomas Markeith Hood, 21, was charged with first-degree robbery Tuesday, according to Tuscaloosa County Jail booking records.
Court records indicate that he is suspected of stealing $120 from the Domino’s at 3039 Skyland Blvd. E. on Jan. 18.
The manager of the store reported that a man showed a gun and demanded money from the register at about 8:50 p.m. that night. Tuscaloosa Police officers who responded found the suspect’s vehicle in the adjacent Alpine Hills neighborhood and chased the driver until he stopped at a dead end, according to the court documents.
Hood and two others ran from police, according to the deposition. Investigators developed Hood as a suspect and arrested him Tuesday. He has been released from the Tuscaloosa County Jail on $60,000 bond.
January 28th, 2015
Tuscaloosa fifth best football fan city - You can almost hear the roar of the crowd at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Tuscaloosa is the fifth best city for football fans, according to a survey released Wed-nesday by Wallet Hub.
The survey included cities with an NCAA Division 1 football team or an NFL pro team. The cities were scored in 11 categories — three of the categories applied only to NFL teams.
Green Bay, Wis., where fans will fill Lambeau Field in sub-freezing temperatures to watch the Packers play, ranked No. 1.
Among college towns, only East Lansing, home of Michigan State, beat out Tuscaloosa. It ranked second.
The survey ranked the cities from best to worst with 142 college towns on the overall list.
Auburn ranked 27, tying Oxford, Miss., home of Ole Miss.
The only other Alabama cities on the list were Troy at 43 and Mobile at 140.
Tuscaloosa was ranked fourth for best performing college football team.
On the down side, Tuscaloosa had the second highest minimum-priced football tickets among NCAA Division 1 teams. Only South Bend, Ind., home of Notre Dame, had higher minimum-priced tickets.
The survey considered the number of NFL and college football teams in each city; the percentage of wins for the past three seasons; average ticket price; the city’s population related to its stadium capacity; number of national championships and divisional or conference championships; number of sports bars per capita; fan friendliness and engagement per capita based on Twitter followers and number of Facebook likes.
Cities with NFL teams also were rated on the team’s estimated value; home game attendance; and adults in the city who have watched, listened to or attended a game during the past 12 months.
January 28th, 2015
Fundraiser hosted by cancer survivor Angel Eaton will benefit pediatric cancer research - A Tuscaloosa teen cancer survivor will hold a fundraiser for pediatric cancer from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday at Gigi’s Cupcakes in Midtown Village.
Angel Eaton, a 17-year-old junior at Hillcrest High School, will host the “Cocoa for Kayla” fundraiser. Proceeds will benefit Open Hands, Overflowing Hearts, a nonprofit foundation created last year by a fellow pediatric cancer patient and Auburn freshman, Kayla Perry.
The foundation raises awareness and money for pediatric cancer.
Gigi’s Cupcakes also will donate sales that day of a special cupcake that will be designed and named by Eaton. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/warriorsforangel or call 808-640-5912.
January 28th, 2015
Volunteers show there really is a free lunch - There’s no such thing as a free lunch.
That is an economic theory that means all goods and services provided must be paid for by someone.
But the words “there really is a free lunch,” written along the side of the American Lunch nonprofit food truck, beg to differ.
Three days of the week, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., a group of volunteers loads 6 gallons of soup, 4 gallons of tea, water, bread and supplies onto a food truck and parks in high-traffic areas to hand out free lunch to anyone who approaches the window.
American Lunch supervisor Karen Lopez said about 7,000 people have been served from the truck since the organization’s inception five years ago, 4,000 of whom were Tuscaloosa residents. The truck alternates between locations in Tuscaloosa, Gainesville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.
Lopez and her crew handed out bowls of loaded potato soup to about 20 people in the empty lot on the corner of 26th Street and Greensboro Avenue across from Southside Methodist Church, where the truck parks on Wednesdays.
On Mondays, the truck parks at Alberta Baptist Church on University Boulevard and hands out Styrofoam bowls filled with chicken tortilla soup. The truck parks at the Tuscaloosa County Courthouse on Fridays and serves split pea and ham soup. The menu changes according to season — thicker, creamier soups during colder months and thinner soups in the warmer months.
Lopez said they park the truck in high-traffic areas in order to feed the most people. People arrived in cars and on foot. Some wore slacks and some wore jeans. It’s about people from all walks of life, Lopez said.
“It’s not just for homeless people. It’s for people who don’t have access to transportation. It’s for people who don’t have access to a warm meal or (who) may be in a situation where they can’t afford one,” she said. “It’s about getting in touch with the community. It’s about taking care of the community at large.”
Lopez said local businesses should do things like this to help the community.
The organization — founded by Chatham Morgan, who was a University of Alabama student taking a Leadership Development through Community Service course — is sponsored by Chuck’s Fish and Five Bar.
“As a local business and restaurant in this town, it is our responsibility to look around us and realize, it’s not that we owe it or we’re trying to give back, it’s that we can make a difference here, and we should make a difference,” Lopez said.
Kitchen staff at Five Bar, which acts as the commissary for the food truck, prepare the soups with in-house ingredients, at a cost of $50 to $70 per week, Lopez said.
Xavier Woods, who lives in the Rosedale community, said the soup is good. Wednesday was his second time at the food truck.
“I think it helps the community out,” he said. “Some people don’t have food to eat.”
It was Mevelyn Washington’s first visit to the food truck. She said it’s a good idea for feeding the community, especially those in need.
“A lot of people can’t afford (food). We have a lot of people around here that are homeless” and don’t have a way of going, Washington said.
She took two bowls of soup — one for her and one for her elderly husband at home. There is no cap on how many bowls one person can take.
Whatever is left over, the crew packs in plastic containers and delivers it to the YMCA.
Lopez said the organization is about helping the community from start to finish, from chopping up ingredients to parking the truck at the end of the day.
“It has been common sense for us to do this,” Lopez said. “It’s not about giving back. It’s about taking responsibility for your position in the community to do what we think is right.
“It’s for the people.”
January 28th, 2015
Tuscaloosa disaster funding meetings begin Thursday - Tuscaloosa city officials are hosting the first of four community meetings Thursday as part of its bid for a portion of almost $1 billion in federal funds.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s National Disaster Resilience Competition will award storm disaster funds ranging from $1 million to $500 million.
As part of its application, the city is hosting two meetings Thursday to gather input on what residents believe are risks and areas of vulnerability within the communities.
The meetings will be at 1 p.m. at Alberta Baptist Church and at 5 p.m. at Rock Quarry Middle School.
Additional meetings are planned for:
-- Feb. 2: 5 p.m. at City Hall.
-- Feb. 3: 10 a.m. at Rosedale Court Apartments’ community center.
The meetings are open to the public.
January 28th, 2015
Tuscaloosa Veterans Affairs director to leave post - Maria R. Andrews is leaving her post as director of the Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center to accept a similar position in Augusta, Ga., according to a Wednesday news release from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Her appointment as director of the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta will be effective within the next 30 days, the news release states.
Andrews, a native of Pennsylvania, was the first female director of the Tuscaloosa VA.
In her role in Tuscaloosa, Andrews managed a 381-bed teaching hospital with an operating budget of about $140 million and 1,000 employees.
“Ms. Andrews has a proven track record as an exceptional health-care leader,” said Charles Sepich, VA Southeast Network director. “During her 35-year career with VA, she’s held many key leadership positions and has outstanding qualifications.”
The Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center is a 470-bed tertiary care teaching hospital with an operating budget of about $364 million and 2,446 employees.
January 28th, 2015
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley urges Senate to pass long-term transportation bill - MONTGOMERY | Alabama's governor urged U.S. senators Wednesday to pass a long-term highway funding bill to provide certainty for state road construction projects.
"Certainty is the most important thing," Gov. Robert Bentley told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in Washington.
Construction projects on U.S. highways and interstate highways use a combination of federal and state funds. In 2012, Congress passed a highway funding bill that was for 27 months. It expires in May, and Congress has had difficulty agreeing on a replacement.
Bentley urged Congress to pass a bill that will last at least five years because major projects require several years for planning and construction. He also urged Congress to keep any transportation bill flexible rather than mandating lots of projects for political reasons.
"The earmarking of federal dollars hurts the ability of governors to allocate funds in our state," he said.
The Republican governor said Alabama also needs Congress to pass a long-term funding plan because the state has sold $1 billion in bonds to finance road and bridge construction projects in every Alabama county, and those bonds are supposed to be paid off with future federal highway funding. The amount needed per year is about $69 million, he said.
"The certainty is so important to me because I signed a billion dollars in bonds and I want to make sure we pay it back," he said.
Bentley did not recommend how Congress should get funding for a highway bill. Republican Sen. David Vitter said that it is the hardest part of putting together a long-term highway plan.
Bentley appeared before the committee on behalf of the National Governors Association, where he serves as vice chairman of the Economic Development and Commerce Committee. He was joined by Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin and South Dakota Transportation Secretary Darin Bergquist.
January 28th, 2015
Group files complaint against Alabama chef justice - MONTGOMERY | The Southern Poverty Law Center has filed a judicial ethics complaint against Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore.
The complaint to Alabama's Judicial Inquiry Commission stems from Moore's criticism of a federal judge's ruling in favor of a Mobile couple in a same-sex marriage. Moore called it "judicial tyranny."
SPLC President Richard Cohen says Moore is thumbing his nose at the federal courts like he did 12 years ago when he refused to follow a federal court order to remove his Ten Commandments monument from the lobby of the state judicial building.
Moore says the law center is trying to deceive probate judges into thinking that they must obey an unlawful court order and issue marriage licenses to gay couples.
January 28th, 2015
Group files complaint against Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore - MONTGOMERY, Ala. | The Southern Poverty Law Center has filed a judicial ethics complaint against Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore.
The complaint to Alabama's Judicial Inquiry Commission stems from Moore's criticism of a federal judge's ruling in favor of a Mobile couple in a same-sex marriage. Moore called it "judicial tyranny."
SPLC President Richard Cohen says Moore is thumbing his nose at the federal courts like he did 12 years ago when he refused to follow a federal court order to remove his Ten Commandments monument from the lobby of the state judicial building.
The SPLC filed a complaint then with the Judicial Inquiry Commission and it ultimately resulted in the Alabama Court of the Judiciary removing Moore from office. He was re-elected chief justice in 2012.
January 28th, 2015
Judge: Alabama should give marriage licenses to gay couples - MONTGOMERY | The federal judge who overturned Alabama's same-sex marriage ban says probate judges should begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples when a stay expires.
U.S. District Judge Callie V. S. Granade stopped short of directly ordering judges to issue the licenses, but said Wednesday that her order makes it clear that the ban is unconstitutional.
Granade referred to a judge's order in Florida after clerks there argued a ruling striking down that state's marriage law didn't require every county to give licenses to gay couples.
The Florida judge said the U.S. Constitution requires the clerk to issue such licenses, and they risked additional litigation if they didn't.
Granade issued the clarification order after the Alabama Probate Judges Association said it did not require them to issue licenses to gay couples.
January 28th, 2015
Police: Loaded gun found in Opelika student's backpack - OPELIKA | Police say an Opelika High School student has been taken into custody after a loaded pistol was found in his backpack.
Police say officers were called to the school Wednesday morning about a disturbance in the office. Authorities say responding officers were told that a student may be armed with a weapon.
Opelika Police Capt. Shane Healy says officers were able to subdue the boy after a physical altercation and found the gun in his backpack. The boy was taken into custody and it's unclear if charges have been filed against him.
Healy says school activities carried on as normal and investigators don't believe there are any threats on campus.
Police say the case is under investigation and the student's identity hasn't been released.
January 28th, 2015
Alabama man accused of statutory rape involving girl, 15 - COLUMBUS, Ga. | An Alabama man is accused of statutory rape after authorities said he had sex with a Columbus girl when she was 15 years old.
The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reports (http://bit.ly/1y4O9iA) that 20-year-old Patrick Kelly of Phenix City was ordered held on $50,000 bond during a Tuesday court hearing in Columbus, Georgia.
Kelly has pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Prosecutors say the girl, now 16, was 15 at the time of the alleged crime in April 2014 in Columbus.
January 28th, 2015
Tuscaloosa police car involved in early morning crash - A Tuscaloosa Police officer and another motorist were treated for minor injuries after an early-morning crash Wednesday.
Alabama State Troopers were called to the accident involving a patrol car an passenger vehicle at the intersection of McFarland and Skyland boulevards at 5:06 a.m., trooper spokesman Reginal King said.
Both drivers were transported to DCH Regional Medical Center for what he described as minor injuries. Alabama Law Enforcement Agency State Troopers will investigate the circumstances surrounding the accident.
January 28th, 2015
Firefighters extinguish Tuesday night house fire in Tuscaloosa - Tuscaloosa Fire and Rescue Service firefighters extinguished a fire at a vacant home on Stillman Boulevard Tuesday night.
Most of the damage at the home at 2906 Stillman Boulevard was confined to the attic, said Fire Marshal Gene Holcomb.
The cause of the blaze is under investigation.
January 28th, 2015
Flu cases rise slightly in Tuscaloosa - The number of people testing positive for the flu increased slightly during the week that ended Jan. 18, according to data compiled at DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa.
At least 368 patients were tested for the flu and out of those patients, 40 tested positive.
The majority of the positive tests, 31, were type A flu and 9 were type B.
Twenty-eight people tested positive for the flu for the week that ended Jan. 11.
January 28th, 2015
Man killed in gas explosion identified as Cordova man, 69 - CORDOVA | Authorities have identified the man killed in a gas explosion at his home in Cordova as 69-year-old Hillard Minor.
The Tuesday afternoon explosion also left three utility workers hospitalized.
Cordova Mayor Drew Gilbert tells Al.com that city water and gas employees were responding to a leak at the residence. He said that they started to work on the leak, the house exploded.
Gilbert says the injured employees were taken to a local hospital.
January 28th, 2015
Parents to rally at Alabama Capitol for school choice - MONTGOMERY, Ala. | Parents and students will march to the Alabama Capitol Wednesday in a rally for school choice.
Republican legislators expect to make a push in the upcoming session to establish charter schools in the state. Charter schools are publically funded schools that operate outside the rules of normal public schools.
Alabama is one of eight states without charter schools.
The charter school bill will be Republicans' first major education policy push after passing a private school tax credit program in 2013.
The march begins at 9 .m. and the rally begins at 10 a.m.
January 28th, 2015
Potential Holt High sites identified - Tuscaloosa County School System Superintendent Elizabeth Swinford on Monday released the locations of three possible sites for a new Holt High School.
The locations are:
The current Holt High School site at 3801 Alabama Ave., which is owned by the Tuscaloosa County Board of Education.
An undeveloped parcel of land south of Jack Warner Parkway, west of 36th Avenue East and east of the Lake Tamaha student housing development and the proposed route of the future eastern bypass. The property is owned by Westervelt Investment Realty Inc.
An undeveloped parcel of land north of University Boulevard East, just east of Cottondale Creek and partially bordered by Cedar Drive on the east and north. The property is owned by Frances Irene Bunn.
The school board approved the three locations at its Jan. 13 meeting.
“We didn’t release these (sites’) names earlier because we wanted to notify the owners where these locations are,” she said. “I didn’t want them to find out through the newspaper.”
The three sites were selected from a total of eight that were considered.
Swinford said the sites are now being examined to see if they’re suitable for construction. If they’re not, three other sites will be selected.
“These are the locations that we’re looking at a little bit closer, in more detail, to make sure that we have everything that we need to build a school — facilities, sewage and access to everything that we need,” she said.
“These are just the top three sites right now. We’re not going to limit our options, and we didn’t. We have two locations in Holt and one in Cottondale.”
Schmitt Moore, the school board member whose district includes Holt, said he hopes that Swinford recommends a location within Holt’s limits and not in Cottondale, though Cottondale is zoned for Holt High.
“We’ve got to get it right,” Moore said. “I really hope we look long and hard, work long and hard, that Holt might be in Holt. That’s what ‘Holtsters’ feel.”
Though the current Holt High property is only 21 acres — 19 acres short of the required 40 — the state will allow a new school to be rebuilt there without additional acreage because it’s the site of the existing school, Swinford said.
Expanding the acreage of the school at its current site was something that county school administrators and board members discussed as a possibility early in the land search. Swinford said that’s no longer an option because it would involve acquiring occupied residences and displacing people.
Both the Westervelt and Bunn properties exceed the 40-acre requirement.
Having been built in 1941, the Holt High building is the oldest school in the Tuscaloosa County School System and is in need of major repairs.
For several years, Holt alumni, Holt residents and some University of Alabama students and some school board members have protested the lack of attention and money for Holt High.
In July 2014, Swinford recommended that the board build a new Holt High and make it the top priority of its new strategic plan. The board approved her recommendation.
Though the system doesn’t have the $34 million needed to build a the new high school, officials were able to start a site search. That occurred after the Tuscaloosa County Commission in September approved a proposal that would allow the school board to use part of its remaining $6.2 million from a 1-cent temporary sales tax for that purpose.
“At the end of the day, Mr. Ward (Scott of Ward Scott Architecture Inc.) and I most likely will make a presentation to the board regarding the three properties and make a decision whether we build a school or not on either of these three properties,” Swinford said.
Swinford said she hasn’t set a date on when she’ll make the presentation.
January 28th, 2015
Jim Walter Resources parent company, Walter Energy, suspending dividend - Walter Energy Inc., which owns the Jim Walter Resources coal mines in Tuscaloosa County, said Tuesday that it is suspending its quarterly dividend. The Hoover-based company said it was taking the action to enhance financial flexibility in light of current metallurgical coal market conditions.
The company previously paid a quarterly dividend of 1 cent per share.
Walter Energy primarily mines metallurgical coal used in steel making. Most of its coal is exported.
The company has about 2,700 employees in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, with the largest share of those employees in Alabama.
January 28th, 2015
County officials review school bus safety procedures - Northport Fire Rescue and Tuscaloosa County school officials gathered Tuesday to review school bus safety measures.
The group saw a demonstration of bus evacuation procedures, including the emergency exit system and the protocol for treating patients in the event of an emergency.
“It's not something that you do every day, but it plays an important role when a school bus is involved in an accident,” said Northport Fire Rescue Chief Bart Marshall.
The demonstration was held at the Tuscaloosa County School System's transportation department on 68th Avenue in Northport.
At least three school bus accidents occurred in Alabama in the past week.
On Monday, a Tuscaloosa City Schools bus and a Boys and Girls Club bus were involved in an accident near the intersection of Kicker Road and 13th Street.
The wreck sparked a fire under the club's bus, which was carrying nearly 50 children.
All of the children and the bus driver were safely evacuated, and Tuscaloosa firefighters quickly extinguished the blaze.
One child was taken by ambulance to DCH Regional Medical Center with injuries that were described as non-life-threatening.
In Clanton on Jan. 22, 12 students were taken to the hospital with minor injuries after a school bus rolled over in Chilton County.
In Pinson on Jan. 23, seven students were taken to the hospital after a school bus overturned in Jefferson County. All of the students were treated and released from Children's of Alabama hospital in Birmingham.
January 28th, 2015
Sewer work to close part of 14th Street Northeast in Tuscaloosa - The installation of new sanitary sewer mains in Holt will require the closure of a section of 14th Street Northeast beginning Wednesday and continuing through Feb. 18.
The closure will begin at the intersection of 14th Street Northeast and 16th Street Northeast and continue to 41st Avenue Northeast.
Detour signs will be posted.
The work is part of the Holt sanitary sewer extension project.
January 28th, 2015
Tuscaloosa will ask for more than $340,000 in recycling grants - The Tuscaloosa City Council on Tuesday approved a series of co-operative agreements that will allow the city’s Environmental Services Department to seek more than $340,000 in recycling grants.
For at least six years in a row, the department has secured grants through the Alabama Department of Environmental Management recycling grant program.
This year, the city is again teaming up with the University of Alabama, Shelton State Community College and the Tuscaloosa County Park and Recreation Authority for a $340,193 request.
If approved, the grant will bring:
- Four additional recycling drop-off containers for county residents.
- Cardboard recycling containers and recycling carts for four Tuscaloosa County schools.
- Recycling trailers, recycling bins and other items for Shelton State.
- A new cargo van and recycling collection equipment for the University of Alabama.
- Awareness and outreach materials for the Environmental Services Department.
The grant also seeks enough funding for 60 additional recycling containers to be placed throughout downtown Tuscaloosa.
“Our goal is to take recycling to the public spaces in Tuscaloosa with the goals of increasing the capture rate of recyclable items, reducing the amount of waste landfilled and helping to make recycling part of every facet of our residents’ lives,” said the Environmental Services Department in its application document.
In addition to the agreements authorized with the universities and PARA, the City Council also approved a cooperative agreement with ADEM at the state agency’s request.
The agreement will allow the city’s Environmental Services Department to again be the lead agency on a $75,000 request to fund a series of radio and television advertisements for ADEM’s “Recycling Works for Me” program.
Shane Daugherty, director of the Environmental Services Department, said ADEM isn’t allowed to apply for its own grant, so this marks the second year it has turned to the city of Tuscaloosa to apply for the advertising money in its place.
The advertising campaign will benefit 12 cities and recycling coalitions across Alabama, including the city of Tuscaloosa.
Reach Jason Morton at jason.morton@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0200.
January 28th, 2015
Women interested in joining the Junior League of Tuscaloosa invited to Feb. 19 meeting - A meeting for prospective members of the Junior League of Tuscaloosa will be held at 6 p.m. Feb. 19 at the league's office, 2139 Fourth St.
Women interested in the league can learn more about what they can gain from membership, how the league has an impact on the Tuscaloosa community and what's required of members during their first year.
For more information, go to the league's website, jltuscaloosa.org, and click on the "Join the League" tab.
January 28th, 2015
Bentley names Billy Sharp interim prison chief - Gov. Robert Bentley has named Tuscaloosa County’s former interim sheriff as the temporary head of the Alabama Department of Corrections following the resignation Tuesday of Commissioner Kim Thomas.
Billy Sharp, 81, is scheduled to serve as the interim commissioner until March, when U.S. Air Force Col. Jefferson S. Dunn, tapped by Bentley as Thomas’ permanent replacement, will assume the office. Dunn is currently commander of the Thomas Barnes Center for Enlisted Education at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery. He is scheduled to retire from the Air Force in March.
“Col. Jeff Dunn is a proven leader with a strong record of military service,” Bentley said in a prepared statement. “He brings a unique experience to the Department of Corrections, and I look forward to Col. Dunn joining my team to continue the prison reforms we have begun and make the department stronger for the inmates and staff.”
The governor announced the appointments after Thomas’ resigned Tuesday. Thomas, tapped to lead the state’s prison system in 2011, is retiring after a 31-year career in the department.
“Kim Thomas has been a loyal member of my team, and has devoted his career to serving the department. I appreciate Kim’s service to the Alabama Department of Corrections, and I know he will work with Col. Dunn and Billy Sharp on a smooth transition. I wish him all the best in retirement,” Bentley said.
Previously, Sharp was appointed by the governor to serve the remaining years of Ted Sexton’s term as Tuscaloosa County sheriff when Sexton left the position in March 2013. Sharp served as interim sheriff and did not seek election to the office last year. He was sheriff until earlier this month when Ron Abernathy was sworn into office.
Sharp retired from the Alabama Criminal Justice Center in February 2012. He worked as an investigator, a chief investigator and field agent during his 28 years there.
He was a volunteer instructor with the Alabama Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission for 33 years. He also served in the infantry and Military Police Corps of the U.S. Army during the Korean War.
Staff writer Stephanie Taylor contributed to this report.
Reach Ed Enoch at ed.enoch@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0209.
January 28th, 2015
UA's UnlockED to present free forum on race in public schools - The University of Alabama student organization UnlockED will present a free public forum on race and the nation's schools Thursday at Shelby Hall.
The forum "Confronting Reality: Race in Our Public Schools," will be at 7 p.m. Thursday in Room 1093 of Shelby Hall. The forum will feature a discussion by the event's panelists and a question-and-answer session.
"We are hoping to make this a big discussion about race and schools nationwide," said senior Karen Ekeh.
The forum is meant to inspire further interest in those who attend about how race relates to schools and educational opportunities, Ekeh said.
The forum will feature journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, who wrote about race and zoning in the Tuscaloosa City Schools in the 2014 ProPublica and Atlantic magazine article "Segregation Now."
The panel also includes Utz McKnight, UA associate professor of political science and chair of gender and race studies; Nirmala Erevelles, an associate professor of educational leadership, policy and technology studies; Mary Givens, an assistant professor of education; and Earnestine Tucker, the Tuscaloosa City School Board District 2 representative.
UA UnlockED is being assisted with the forum by the Honors College and the department of journalism. The student group advocates for high quality educational opportunities for all students.
January 28th, 2015
Alabama chief justice criticizes gay marriage ruling - MONTGOMERY | Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore says he's concerned that the recognition of same-sex marriages will lead to the recognition of marriages with multiple partners or marriages within a family.
Moore spoke out Tuesday after sending a letter to the governor saying a ruling by a federal judge in favor of a same-sex couple in Mobile is not binding on Alabama's probate judges. He says he's encouraged by the Alabama Probate Judges Association advising probate judges to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
The Republican chief justice has spoken out against same-sex marriages before. Last February, he wrote letters to all 50 governors to try to get states to push for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
January 27th, 2015
Suspect in four Tuscaloosa County residential burglaries charged - Tuscaloosa County Sheriff's Office deputies have charged a man who they say broke into four residences in the Fosters and Ralph area last week.
The department's new four-person Crime Suppression Unit gathered information from residents and evidence that they say implicated Raland Demar Smith, said Sgt. John Barker, commander of the Criminal Investigations Division.
Smith, 27, was arrested at a home on Fourth Place East in Tuscaloosa on Monday and charged with three counts of third-degree burglary. Further arrests are possible, Barker said.
Deputies increased patrols in the southwestern area of the county last week after four homeowners reported burglaries. Electronics and other household items were reported stolen.
Investigators are still viewing video and analyzing physical evidence gathered at the homes, Barker said, which could lead to the arrests of more suspects.
Smith was under the supervision of Tuscaloosa County Community Corrections at the time of his arrest. He served time for a fraudulent use of a credit card and four burglary charges filed in 2008, 2009 and 2011, according to court records. He was granted probation in October 2011.
His probation was revoked after his arrest Monday. Smith was being held Tuesday at the Tuscaloosa County Jail afternoon with bond set at $45,000 on the new charges.
Barker asked that anyone with information about the burglaries to contact the Criminal Investigations Division at 464-8650.
Reach Stephanie Taylor at stephanie.taylor@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0210.
January 27th, 2015
Alabama lawmaker threatens to out "hypocrites" on gay marriage - MONTGOMERY | Alabama's only openly gay lawmaker is threatening to expose state politicians who have extramarital affairs, but claim that gay marriage is immoral or bad for children.
State Rep. Patricia Todd, a Birmingham Democrat, said she was furious over some of the comments made at the prospect that gay couples might soon be able to get married in Alabama.
Todd says they're being hypocrites. She said will "out" politicians who cheat on their spouses, or have other ethical lapses, but cite family values to oppose gay marriage.
The Birmingham lawmaker said she is fine if people disagree on the issue, but it's offensive to suggest gay families are lesser families.
A judge last week struck down Alabama's two bans on gay marriage. Some politicians said the state will defend its Christian, conservative values.
January 27th, 2015
Trash piling up in Lowndes County - HAYNEVILLE | Trash is piling up in a west Alabama county where residents say they haven't had garbage service in weeks.
WSFA-TV (http://bit.ly/1uXNN1R ) reports that Lowndes County residents are asking the county commission to force the county's trash contractor to resume picking up garbage.
Jerry Heath says trash hasn't been picked up at his home in Lowndesboro for a month. Carmen O'Donnell says she and other residents never know when trash pickups will occur.
The result is piles of garbage along Lowndes County roadsides. Residents say the trash attracts animals and looks disgusting.
Commission Chairman Robert Harris says officials are trying to correct the problem with the Hayneville-based Purdie and Sons Refuse Service. The county must give a 30-day notice before ending its contract, so a solution could be weeks away.
January 27th, 2015
Tickets available for bus trip to Selma events - A local group is offering a bus ride to Selma for the March 8 activities to mark the 50th anniversary of the “Bloody Sunday” voting rights march.
The bus will leave One Accord Christian Ministry, 808 28th Ave., at 10:30 a.m. March 8.
Tickets are $25 per seat, and seating is limited. The deadline to buy a seat on the bus is Feb. 1. Call Johnny Benton at 759-1458.
January 27th, 2015
Tuscaloosa County Schools honors 68 top teachers - Sixty-eight teachers from every school in the Tuscaloosa County School System were honored Monday at the system's annual Alabama Teacher of the Year/Jacksonville State University Teacher Hall of Fame award ceremony.
Each teacher was given a plaque and recognized before the school board after a social hour in the fellowship hall of First Baptist Church in downtown Tuscaloosa.
“We thank you for all your efforts in helping our students become the best that they can be,” said Superintendent Elizabeth Swinford. “And the best is yet to come, isn't it? Congratulations.”
The teachers who were honored were nominated by their peers at their respective schools for a chance to represent Tuscaloosa County schools in the annual Alabama Teacher of the Year and Jacksonville State University Teacher Hall of Fame competitions.
Out of 68 teachers, five teachers were named the system's nominees.
Laurie Presley of Matthews Elementary School, Darlene Tucker of Duncanville Middle School and Eve Kendrick of Northside High School are the system's nominees for the Jacksonville State University Teacher Hall of Fame.
Sarah Stroud of Northport Elementary School and Justin Ray of Hillcrest High School were the nominees for Alabama Teacher of the Year.
The state winners in both categories will be named before the end of the school year.
Reach Jamon Smith at jamon.smith@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0204.
January 27th, 2015
Elois Zeanah, active in local and state GOP politics, dies at 73 - Elois Zeanah, an Alabama native who served as a city councilwoman and mayor of Thousand Oaks, Calif., before returning to her home state, has died. She was 73.
In Tuscaloosa County, Zeanah is most well-known for her passion for politics and her zeal for the Republican Party, friends said.
“The thing that strikes me the most was her enthusiasm for life. Her enthusiasm was infectious,” said Donna Burrage, who got to know Zeanah through the Republican Women of Tuscaloosa County.
Zeanah served as president of the Republican Women of Tuscaloosa County before serving four years as president of the Alabama Federation of Republican Women.
“She truly was dedicated to the principles of our founding fathers and the greatness of America,” Burrage said.
In recent years Zeanah was particularly passionate about the Common Core standards and trying to get those repealed, Burrage said. She would work into the early hours of the morning sending emails and gathering thoughts on what could be done to further the Republican cause, Burrage said.
“We’d feed off each other’s ideas,” she said. “I can’t tell you what a mentor and friend she has been to me and so many women I know.”
Another friend of Zeanah’s, Lucy Kubiszyn, agreed.
“Our hearts are really broken, all of us Republican women,” Kubiszyn said.
“Elois was an exceptional woman. She had a way of lighting up a room and inspired so many of us.”
Although Zeanah was born in Fayette, she spent much of her adult life in Washington, D.C., and also in southern California. After graduating from Shannon High School in Shannon, Miss., Zeanah went to work at the FBI headquarters in Washington before joining the Auditor General Office at Hanscom Air Force Base in Bedford, Mass.
She also worked for the deputy director of the NASA Electronic Research Center, worked in the executive office of the Commerce Department and served as administrative assistant to the chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Zeanah moved with her husband to Thousand Oaks, Calif., in 1977 and, after more than two decades there, was elected to the Thousand Oaks City Council in 1990, a position she held for eight years before serving one term as mayor.
In 2003, she and her husband, James, decided to move back to Alabama.
In addition to heading the Republican Women of Tuscaloosa County and the Alabama Federation of Republican Women, she was a member of the steering committee for the Alabama Republican Party and served as a board member of Girl Scouts and Focus on Senior Citizens. She also was president of the Modern Culture Club and a graduate of Leadership Tuscaloosa.
To her family, Zeanah was a loving mother and wife.
“She was a mom, as soon as I got married, or even before I married, into the family,” said daughter-in-law Michelle Zeanah.
Elois Zeanah also had a knack for compliments, Michelle Zeanah said.
“She was the first person to tell you how beautiful you were, how great you are at everything and always gave out a compliment,” Michelle Zeanah said. “But you could tell it was something she had thought about, it was a comment you wouldn’t forget.”
Zeanah was able to balance a professional life but also be a great mom, too, said her daughter, Kristen Zaleski, who remembers her mother cooking and catering to her children and their friends after school. Elois Zeanah made sure her children had opportunities that she didn’t have growing up, Zaleski said, including an education and travel.
“She loved to travel and made sure that her kids were well traveled and understood the world and other cultures,” Zaleski said. “She gave us opportunities that she didn’t have and gave us every opportunity to dream.”
Zeanah died Friday after a battling lymphoma for more than a year. The burial will be held Tuesday at Gordo City Cemetery at 10 a.m., followed by a memorial service at Tuscaloosa Memorial Chapel at
2 p.m.
Reach Lydia Seabol Avant at lydia.seabolavant@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0222.
January 27th, 2015
Tuscaloosa County BOE OKs 2015-16 school calendar - The Tuscaloosa County Board of Education on Monday approved the school calendar for the 2015-16 school year.
The first day of school will be Aug. 13 and the last day will be May 26.
Student off days will be:
-- Sept. 7 for Labor Day.
-- Oct. 12 for a teacher work day.
-- Nov. 11 for Veterans Day.
-- Nov. 23-27 for fall/Thanksgiving break.
-- Dec. 18 half-day on Friday to start Christmas/winter break, which will run through Jan. 5.
-- Jan. 18 for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
-- Feb. 15 for Presidents Day.
-- March 14-18 for spring break.
-- April 15 for a teacher work day.
-- May 25-26 half-days.
Superintendent Elizabeth Swinford said seven different school calendars were considered, based on suggestions from parents and school employees. The choice was then narrowed down to two school calendars that parents and employees voted on.
The other calendar finalist would have started school on Aug. 6 and ended classes on May 24.
Christmas/winter break would have started with a half-day Dec. 18 and continued through Jan. 6. It also would have had off-days Oct. 12-14.
Employees slightly favored that alternative calendar, voting for it 51 percent to 48.9 percent. A total of 1,084 employees voted.
Parents favored the adopted calendar by 56 percent to 43.6 percent.
A similar calendar also will be used for the 2016-17 school year.
Reach Jamon Smith at jamon.smith@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0204.
January 27th, 2015
Qualifying begins Tuesday for City Council hopefuls in District 1 in Tuscaloosa - Qualifying for the Tuscaloosa City Council’s District 1 seat begins Tuesday.
The office was vacated after the recent death of Councilman Burrell G. Odom.
City Clerk Tracy Croom said potential candidates can register until 5 p.m. each business day through Feb. 10.
Candidates must bring identification to file their qualifying documents in person at the City Clerk’s office inside City Hall because the forms must be notarized, Croom said.
The qualifying fee is $200, the same as it is during regularly scheduled municipal elections. Candidates must be a registered voter and a resident of District 1 for at least 90 days before the March 24 election.
That means anyone wishing to run for the District 1 seat needed to be living in the district by at least Christmas Eve.
So far, the only person to publicly declare intent to seek election to the District 1 seat has been Phyllis W. Odom, who announced Jan. 6 that she intended to fill the unexpired term of her late husband.
“I plan to continue on the same platform as he did, being a voice for the people of District 1,” Phyllis Odom said that night. “By so choosing to obtain his seat in the election, I can honor my late husband by carrying out the work he began, completing his term (and) fulfilling the legacy he left behind.
“The District 1 seat as well as the residents meant the world to him.”
Burrell Odom served about a year in office before his death at the age of 62 on Dec. 22.
Whoever is chosen by voters to fulfill his term will be up for election in 2017 along with Mayor Walt Maddox and the remaining six council members.
Voters wanting to vote absentee in the March 24 election should have their request forms in by March 19.
If necessary, a runoff would be held May 5.
For more information, call Tuscaloosa 311 at 205-248-5311 or the City Clerk’s office at 205-248-5010.
Reach Jason Morton at jason.morton@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0200.
January 27th, 2015
Artifacts at risk as Black Warrior River erodes soil at Moundville - An archaeological team with the University of Alabama is working to save artifacts from an eroding stretch of the Black Warrior River’s bank on the north side of Moundville Archaeological Park.
“This is a salvage operation to get as much as we can,” said archaeologist Jera Davis, who is part of the team excavating the site.
The sites along the bank overlooking the river have been endangered by rapid erosion caused by a shift in the river channel. The salvage effort is a stopgap measure until UA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can agree on a plan to stabilize the stretch of riverbank along the wooded northern border of the park, according to Matt Gage, director of the UA Office of Archaeological Research.
“Since 2010, we have really seen a major change in what is happening with the erosion in this area,” Gage said.
The university and the Corps are trying to work on a feasibility study, he said.
The stabilization work would likely be funded by local and federal matching funds, with the Corps responsible for the stabilization and the university assisting with the archaeological work at the site.
At a site below the raised walkway that runs along the edge of the bank, the team has been excavating a midden heap — or trash pit — for about a week.
The bank below the excavation is a steep slope of exposed sandy soil where the trunks of toppled cypress and gum trees protrude from the silt at the water’s edge.
Gage estimated the staff has about six to eight months of salvage work along the riverbank on the edge of the park. The salvage by the archaeologists needs to be done before the stabilization work begins and before the valuable archaeological deposits slide down the slope into the river.
Only about 15 percent of the massive Moundville complex has been excavated. The section threatened by the river is among the least explored, according to Davis.
The site overlooking the river was likely one of the first and last places to be occupied at the complex, which was inhabited from roughly the 11th to 16th centuries by Native Americans of the Mississippian culture. The site was a religious and commercial center, home to both elite and commoners of the culture.
Based on materials found in the trash pit, experts say the sites near the river were likely the residential areas for the elite members of the society. The items include such things as shards of elaborate ceramics and mineral pigments from the Midwest, Davis said.
The trash pits offer glimpses of daily life at the sprawling complex, once the second largest of its kind in what is now the United States.
Moundville is eligible as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage site, Gage said.
Erosion along the bank is speeding up, he warned.
“Every day, we are losing a little bit of Moundville,” he said.
In the past, a natural jetty formed by silt deposits at the mouth of Carthage Branch to the east of the park helped protect the stretch of riverbank by redirecting the current. The recent changes to the river channel eroded the natural barrier and began to cut away at the bank along the Moundville site, Gage said. He estimated that approximately 30 meters of riverbank has been lost since 1969. The Corps of Engineers stabilized a stretch of riverbank northwest of the park roughly 25 years ago with riprap and other stone to prevent erosion.
While the Corps was previously able to stabilize the riverbank on the northwest corner of the park with aggregate, the erosion occurring now is a more challenging engineering problem because of the steep slope of the bank, which drops almost immediately into the river channel, Gage said.
Gage anticipates the project could cost anywhere from $7 million to $11 million.
“It all depends on what the Army Corps of Engineers decides is a possibility,” he said.
Reach Ed Enoch at ed.enoch@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0209.
January 27th, 2015
Free 12-session course to offer tips for families coping with mental illness - A free, 12-session course that offers help for families of relatives who have mental illness begins at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 3.
The Family-to-Family course is taught by trained National Alliance on Mental Illness members who have relatives with mental illness.
The course will help family members understand the behaviors and treatment of mental illness and provide tips for coping in everyday life.
Pre-registration for the course is required. For more information, call 239-1071.
January 26th, 2015
Free workshop on filing taxes offered to business owners - The Alabama Department of Revenue will hold a free workshop for business owners at 3 and 6 p.m.
Feb. 3 in the Rotary Room of the Tuscaloosa Public Library, 1801 Jack Warner Parkway.
The workshop will cover several topics, including employer withholding taxes, state and local sales taxes, property taxes, business licensing requirements and Alabama’s business tax electronic filing programs.
For more information, visit the revenue department’s website, www.ador.alabama.gov or call 205-759-2571, ext. 242.
January 26th, 2015
US Supreme Court vacates Alabama long hair ruling - MONTGOMERY, Ala. | Native American inmates in Alabama prisons have won a round in their legal battle to wear long hair.
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated a ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that had upheld the Alabama prison system's policy against long hair. The Supreme Court sent the case back to the 11th Circuit and told the appeals court to reconsider the case in light of a unanimous Supreme Court ruling last week. That ruling said a Muslim prison inmate in Arkansas can grow a short beard for religious reasons.
Native American inmates say long hair is part of their religious practices. The Alabama Department of Corrections argues that long hair poses risks to security, discipline and hygiene and makes it easier for an inmate to change his appearance after an escape. The department requires hair to be off the neck and ears.
In 2013, the 11th Circuit upheld Alabama's policy. It noted that while many prison systems had abandoned policies against long hair, their decisions were not controlling on Alabama.
Native American inmates then turned to the U.S. Supreme Court. Their attorney, Mark Sabel of Montgomery, did not respond immediately Monday to a phone message and email seeking comment.
Department of Corrections spokesman Bob Horton said the department had expected the Supreme Court action since the court had ruled last week in the Arkansas case.
"Until the 11th Circuit has a hearing and offers a ruling, ADOC will continue to enforce its current policy," Horton said.
January 26th, 2015
Tuscaloosa City School and Boys and Girls Club buses involved in afternoon accident - Investigators are on the scene at a Monday afternoon crash involving a Boys and Girls Club bus and a Tuscaloosa City School's bus at Kicker Road and 13th Street in Tuscaloosa.
Dozens of children were evacuated from the buses and as many as a half a dozen were taken to DCH Regional Medical Center with minor injuries.
Check back to TuscaloosaNews.com for more information as it becomes available.
January 26th, 2015
Tuscaloosa trash truck involved in downtown accident - A downtown collision between and SUV and a city trash truck sent both drivers to the hospital Monday.
Sgt. Brent Blankley, spokesman for the Tuscaloosa Police Department, said the wreck at the intersection of 28th Avenue and Seventh Street occurred when the driver of a Ford Explorer ran the westbound stop sign Seventh Street and struck the Tuscaloosa Department of Environmental Service's trash truck.
The impact in front of Hodges Chiropractic Center caused the trash truck to strike a tree and overturn, spilling its contents of vegetative debris onto 28th Avenue.
Police were summoned at about 12:25 p.m.
Both drivers were taken by ambulance to DCH Regional Medical Center, but officials at the scene said neither driver sustained life-threatening injuries.
January 26th, 2015
Alabama appeals decision blocking ban on same-sex marriage - MONTGOMERY | Alabama on Monday began the process of appealing a federal judge's decision that overturned the state's ban on same-sex marriage — a decision that was put on hold to allow time for the appeal.
Attorney General Luther Strange's office filed notice with the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta saying it would challenge the ruling by U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade of Mobile.
In the latest in a string of victories for same-sex marriage across the Deep South, Granade ruled Friday that Alabama's legal bans on gay marriage are unconstitutional. Then, at the request of the state, she issued an order late Sunday delaying implementation of her order for 14 days to let the state appeal.
Despite the postponement, two women went to the Calhoun County Courthouse in Anniston on Monday trying to obtain a marriage license, said Probate Judge Alice Martin. They were refused, she said.
"There were aware that the stay was in effect," said Martin. "I think they mainly just came in to inquire."
The president of the state probate judge's association, Monroe County Probate Judge Greg Norris, said he had not heard of similar instances elsewhere.
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange called the delay in Granade's decision a "step in the right direction" because it will allow the state time to prepare appellate arguments and perhaps settle questions about the effect of the ruling.
Advocates of gay marriage rights were unhappy about the delay but were confident they would ultimately prevail.
"While we're disappointed that committed, loving gay and lesbian couples in Alabama will not be able to marry (Monday), we're hopeful the final legal barriers will be overcome quite soon," Human Rights Campaign Alabama Director Ashley Jackson said.
Some hoping to get married swiftly expressed frustration over the two-week hold.
Tori Sisson and Shante Wolfe of Tuskegee were prepared to camp outside the Montgomery courthouse all night Sunday in hopes of securing a marriage license first thing Monday from a judge who indicated he would be issuing them absent a stay.
"It's aggravating. The judge ruled and everybody got so excited and now, this," Sisson said.
The stay will expire Feb. 9 unless the court extends it. Granade said within that time that she will issue a separate order clarifying the effect of her ruling on those seeking and issuing marriage licenses across Alabama.
The ruling striking down the marriage ban came out of a case filed by Cari Searcy and Kim McKeand of Mobile. The couple said the ban prevented Alabama from recognizing their 2008 California marriage and Searcy as a parent to the son they had together. McKeand gave birth to the child in 2005, but the court's rejected Searcy's adoption petition because the couple was not legally married.
January 26th, 2015
Tuscaloosa man arrested for pistol-whipping woman - A Tuscaloosa man is accused of pistol-whipping a woman and firing shots during an argument on Moody Street Sunday.
Kunta Hardy, 38, was jailed on three felony charges after the early morning incident. The victim told police that Hardy struck her several times in the face with a pistol, said Tuscaloosa County Metro Homicide Unit commander Lt. Gary Hood. She told police that Hardy fired several shots, striking the residence and an unoccupied vehicle. A victim who was standing outside the residence was grazed by a bullet, Hood said. Those injuries were not life-threatening, he said.
Hardy was charged with discharging a firearm into an occupied dwelling, discharging a firearm into an unoccupied vehicle and second-degree assault. He remained in the Tuscaloosa County Jail Monday with bond set at $90,000.
January 26th, 2015
Man arrested in connection with kidnapping at gunpoint at Tuscaloosa Dollar General - A woman told police that she was kidnapped at gunpoint in the parking lot of a Dollar General store Friday night.
The woman told Tuscaloosa Police that Dominique Witherspoon, 22, forced her into his vehicle in the parking lot of the store at 3116 Stillman Blvd. at 9 p.m., said Tuscaloosa County Metro Homicide Unit commander Lt. Gary Hood.
Investigators recovered evidence that implicated Witherspoon, he said. Witherspoon was charged with second-degree kidnapping and remained in the Tuscaloosa County Jail Monday with bond set at $30,000.
January 26th, 2015
Holt resident shot during home invasion - A Holt resident was shot in the leg while fighting with an intruder early Sunday, authorities said.
Jonathan Troy Crooks, 24, is accused of breaking into an apartment in the 400 block of Eighth Avenue Northeast at 2 a.m. Sunday. Two occupants of the apartment told officers that Crooks entered the apartment and fired a gun several times, according to Tuscaloosa County Metro Homicide Unit commander Lt. Gary Hood.
One of the victims was shot in the leg as he fought with Crooks, Hood said. Investigators charged Crooks with first-degree burglary and second-degree assault. He remained in the Tuscaloosa County Jail Monday with bond set at $75,000.
January 26th, 2015
Geo Group to spend $312M buying LCS Corrections locations - Prison operator The Geo Group will spend $312 million in cash to buy eight correctional and detention locations from the privately held LCS Corrections Services.
The deal price could rise to around $350 million, if the locations meet some performance targets, Geo Group said Monday. It didn't detail those targets.
LCS runs sites in Louisiana, Texas and Alabama totaling more than 6,500 beds for federal, state and local governments.
The Geo Group Inc. designs and runs correctional, detention and community re-entry sites around the world. With the LCS deal, it will own or manage 106 locations totaling about 85,500 beds. It hopes to complete the deal by the end of February,
Geo Group said the deal will immediately increase its revenues by about $75 million to $80 million. The company also said it expects to improve the utilization of the LCS locations, which have average occupancy rates of about 50 percent.
The company plans to finance the acquisition, which it expects to close next month, by borrowing from its $700 million revolving credit line.
Shares of the Boca Raton, Florida, company rose 8 cents to $42.74 in morning trading Monday while broader trading indexes fell slightly.
January 26th, 2015
Job testing for new prison guards in Bibb County set for Friday - The state prison system is seeking new jailers.
On Friday, the Alabama Department of Corrections will conduct testing for new correctional officers at the Bibb County Correctional Facility in Brent.
This test includes a written basic comprehension exam, a physical agility test and a 1.5-mile run. Applicants must have a standard high school diploma or GED equivalency and be at least 19 years old.
Registration begins at 6 a.m. and correction officials said applicants should report to the facility at 565 Bibb Lane on the day of testing with a Correctional Officer Trainee packet and application. These are available at www.personnel.alabama.gov or by calling 205-926-5252.
For more information about job opportunities with the Alabama Department of Corrections, contact the department's Personnel Division's Correctional Officer Unit at 334-353-9500 or visit www.doc.alabama.gov.
January 26th, 2015
Alabama State Senator drops plan for permanent daylight savings time - MONTGOMERY | An Alabama legislator's proposal to put the state on permanent daylight savings time has stalled like a broken clock.
Republican Sen. Rusty Glover of Semmes announced in October that he would introduce a bill in the 2015 legislative session to keep Alabama on daylight savings time year-round to provide more daylight in the evenings.
However, he said Monday that research by the Legislature's attorneys found that while federal law allows a state to opt out of daylight savings time, it doesn't allow a state to switch to daylight savings time year round.
"Only Congress could do such a thing," he said Monday.
Glover said he talked with Gov. Robert Bentley about Alabama possibly switching to the Eastern Time Zone and then opting out of daylight savings time. That would be the equivalent of staying on daylight savings time all the time in the Central Time Zone, but that wasn't feasible either, he said.
The practice of using daylight savings time in summer months and standard time in winter months has been in place since World War I, when it was adopted to save fuel and energy by matching daylight to people's activities.
Glover said switching back and forth no longer works for people. A study published by medical researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2012 found that the risk of heart attack increases 10 percent on the Monday and Tuesday after moving the clocks ahead one hour in the spring.
Glover said 90 percent of the feedback he received about his proposal was positive, and he remains convinced that having an hour more of daylight in the evening year-round would help retail sales and increase public safety. But he said, "It's pretty much out of our hands."
January 26th, 2015
Authorities question suspect in connection with home invasion in Cottondale - Authorities are questioning a suspect they believe is responsible for an early morning home invasion in Cottondale.
The victims told Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s deputies that a man wearing a camouflage coat and wielding a knife broke into their mobile home on Clements Road and tried to sexually assault one of the residents, Tuscaloosa County Metro Homicide Unit commander Lt. Gary Hood said.
The suspect used zip ties to restrain both residents and stole their cell phones, he said. The residents broke free and fought with the victim, sustaining injuries that were not life-threatening, Hood said.
The suspect ran into a wooded area and eluded authorities for several hours. One of the victims spotted him walking on Clements Road near the intersection of Buttermilk Road and notified investigators, who were at the residence. The man jumped into a vehicle and led officers on a brief pursuit, Hood said.
Three people in the vehicle were captured and were still being questioned Monday morning. Charges are pending, Hood said.
January 26th, 2015
Man found shot to death in his home in Huntsville - HUNTSVILLE | Huntsville police are investigating a weekend shooting that claimed a man's life.
Police tell WHNT-TV (http://bit.ly/1CrFj3w) that officers received a call about the shooting on the city's south side around 2 a.m. Sunday. They found a man shot in his home on Norwood Drive. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police used a K-9 unit to try to find a suspect, but couldn't locate anyone and are continuing to search for a suspect.
The man's name wasn't immediately released.
January 26th, 2015
University of Alabama Police investigating suspicious package on campus - The University of Alabama Police Department is investigating a suspicious package outside the east side of Shelby Hall on the UA campus, according to an email sent Monday morning to students, faculty and staff.
The email states that the east side of Shelby Hall is closed until further notice, but classes in other areas of the building will continue.
Students and faculty can enter Shelby Hall through the doors on the other side of the building.
January 26th, 2015
Interstate 20/59 northbound closed Monday morning due to accident - Interstate 20-59 northbound is closed Monday morning from exit 76 to exit 79 after a commercial vehicle overturned, according to a news release from the state troopers.
The single-vehicle crash occurred at 10:16 p.m. Sunday and troopers said the interstate closure is expected to last for several hours. There were no injuries reported.
Troopers along with the Alabama Department of Transportation are assisting motorists with detouring onto U.S. 11 at exit 76 and back onto Interstate 59 at exit 79.
January 26th, 2015
LOOKING BACK: January 26 - 50 years ago this week
Harry Gilmer, former University of Alabama football star, professional football player and then head coach of the Detroit Lions in the National Football League, spoke at the YMCA campaign kickoff dinner. He was introduced by Malcolm Laney, who coached Gilmer at Woodlawn High School and later at the University of Alabama.
Deputies from the Sheriff’s Office filed requests with the County Board of Revenue for a 40-hour work week and an adjustment in their salaries.
Fire whipped by strong winds gutted the major portion of the 7-Up Bottling Co. on 17th Street.
Herman H. Sullivan, former FBI agent, was elected chairman of the Tuscaloosa County Republican Party.
For the second straight year, Jack Davis won the best bloom in the West Alabama Camellia Show held at Tuscaloosa High School. Davis was also named sweepstakes winner with 42 blue first-place ribbons. Mr. and Mrs. Ed Albritton prepared winning arrangements; Mrs. Albritton’s blue ribbon winner was selected best in class and best arrangement of the show. Her husband’s blue ribbon came in the men’s open class. Runner-up for best arrangement was Mrs. J. Sydney Tarwater.
The first generating unit of the new Greene County Steam Plant was expected to be complete and ready for operation in June. The project was owned by Alabama Power Co. and Mississippi Power Co. as tenants in common. The unit would have the capacity to meet the electrical demands of about 125,000 homes. A second unit would be completed early in the following year.
25 years ago this week
Woodey McCorvey was hired by football coach Gene Stallings as the wide receiver coach for the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Evidence in the slaying of Roman Catholic priest the Rev. Francis Craven was expected to be presented to the Tuscaloosa County grand jury. It would be the second grand jury to hear evidence in the case. A 40-year-old Walker County man was charged with murdering the priest and burning his body.
A Florida attorney went on trial in Hattiesburg, Miss., charged with conspiring to kidnap, mailing a threatening letter and perjury in connection with the July 26, 1988, disappearance of Annie Laurie Hearin. Hearin grew up in Tuscaloosa; she was the former Annie Laurie Swaim.
Lottice Howell of Moundville, who gained international musical fame from the late 1920s to the early 1940s, was nominated for the 1990 Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame at Judson College.
The parents of a seventh-grader in the Tuscaloosa County School System admitted to contributing to the delinquency of a child after failing to appear at two mandatory court sessions required under a new truancy prevention program. The parents received 30-day suspended sentences and were ordered to pay court costs and restitution for their 13-year-old son’s eight unexcused absences.
University of Alabama athletic director Hootie Ingram said he agreed with a committee’s recommendation that academic counseling programs for student athletics should not be monitored by the athletic department. The move was part of a restructuring of the monitoring system prompted by reports of poor grades among football players since 1982. Oversight would be shifted to the vice president of academic affairs.
Investigators found a link between the slayings of A.C. and Carolyn Worthy in Lakeview the previous October and a double murder that occurred in Florida the previous January. Bullet casings found in the rubble of the Worthy home matched those found at the Florida murder scene.
10 years ago this week
Former Trezevant High School football coach Lynn Lang testified against Logan Young in Young’s trial in Memphis, saying that Young paid him about $150,000 to influence the recruitment of defensive tackle Albert Means to the University of Alabama and that representatives of six other schools either paid him or offered to do likewise. Lang said he was offered money by Arkansas, Georgia, Michigan State and Tennessee. Later, during cross-examination, he added Ole Miss.
Jim Walter Resources planned to expand Blue Creek No. 7 mine and to delay closing another mine because of rising demand for coal.
Only 15 out of the 6,000 residents who lived around Lakes Tuscaloosa, Harris and Nicol who were required to register their septic tanks and have them serviced regularly had done so.
The Tuscaloosa County Commission approved the construction of a new $3.5 million youth detention center.
Five years ago this week
Former Shelton State Community College president Rick Rogers and Karen Van Luvender, the former dean of business services at the college were arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree theft and two counts of first-degree theft by deception.
The DCH Health System’s “free care” — care to those who cannot or will not pay — was down for the second consecutive year.
New Era Cap Co. announced plans to close its Demopolis plant, putting 351 people out of work.
Students at Stillman College were hungry and unhappy when the Alabama Department of Public Health closed their cafeteria after an inspector determined the cafeteria did not have an adequate hot water supply for workers to wash their hands and keep items sanitized.
The Tuscaloosa County Republican and Democratic parties had new leadership. Jim Zeanah was the new Republican Party chair, and Jenny Ryan was chair for the Democratic Party.
The University of Alabama started Early College, a program that allowed high school students to finish much of their freshman year of college via the Internet before they graduated high school.
One year ago this week
The Tuscaloosa City Zoning Board of Adjustment denied a petition by Jack and Susan Warner for a variance to create an artist-in-residence program at Whispering Cliffs, the Warners’ house on Lake Tuscaloosa.
Fayette welcomed the new auto supplier Fayette Fabrication.
Deaths this week included longtime University of Alabama engineering professor Nagy El-Kaddah, 66.
A sawdust silo at Buchanan Hardwoods in Aliceville continued to smolder a day after it ignited causing an accumulation of pressure that caused an explosion that was felt for miles. No one was hurt in the explosion.
Compiled by retired News librarian Betty Slowe.
January 26th, 2015
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