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Home > Tuscaloosa Business News

Tuscaloosa Business News - 2015-05

We have news items here related to Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Man shot in club's parking lot - A 23-year-old man was shot in the foot Sunday morning in the parking lot of a 10th Street nightclub, according to the Tuscaloosa Police Department.
Investigators responded to a report of a shooting at 1:40 a.m. at Club Playhouse, 3213 10th St.
The victim said he was running through the parking lot when he as shot.
Security workers at the club said that a fight had broken out inside and the club had closed down early. Several people were in the parking lot and began shooting, security workers said.
Investigators are still trying to identify which one of the shooters fired the shot that struck the victim.
The victim was treated and released from DCH Regional Medical Center.
May 31st, 2015
Ban on hunting near Tuscaloosa city limits up for vote - A ban on all hunting within unincorporated areas of Tuscaloosa County nearest the Tuscaloosa city limit is set to be adopted Tuesday night.
It's already illegal to hunt within the Tuscaloosa city limit, but the measure coming before the City Council will extend that ban to make it unlawful to hunt within 300 yards of the city limit.
This is the area known as the police jurisdiction, and Jimbo Woodson. senior associate city attorney, said residents' complaints have prompted the change.
Although discharging firearms in this area already is prohibited, Woodson said bow hunting still occurs within some unincorporated areas within the city's police jurisdiction.
Recently, residents in the Towns of North River, which lies near one of the largest unincorporated areas within the police jurisdiction, have voiced concerns about bow hunters firing arrows near their homes as well as nearby trails and sidewalks.
Woodson said similar complaints led to the council's ban on bow hunting within the city limits in 2004 after residents reported finding stray arrows in their yards.
If approved by the City Council, this same ban would stretch 300 yards into the police jurisdiction, making it illegal to discharge a firearm or hunt game of any kind within this area.
Police and animal control officers are excluded from the ban.
"It shall be unlawful for any person to hunt game or other wildlife within the corporate limits of the city or within that area of the police jurisdiction extending, at right angles, 300 yards from the city's corporate limits," the proposed ordinance said. "Hunting shall include pursuing, shooting, killing, capturing and/or trapping game animals, wild fowl, wild birds, and all lesser acts, such as disturbing, harrying or worrying, or placing, setting, drawing, or using any device used to take game animals, wild fowl, wild birds, whether they result in taking or not, and includes every act of assistance to any person in taking or attempting to take game animals, wild fowl or wild birds.
Reach Jason Morton at jason.morton@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0200.
May 31st, 2015
Mercedes-Benz featured in "Jurassic World" film - A piece of Tuscaloosa County will wheel its way into Hollywood history when a potential summer blockbuster, “Jurassic World,” opens in theaters June 12.
The movie, the fourth in the “Jurassic Park” series, will feature the Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 AMG Coupe. The GLE Coupe is one of the newest Mercedes models and is being made exclusively at the Mercedes-Benz U.S. International auto plant in Vance.
The GLE Coupe is slated to go on sale at dealerships this summer, and its placement in the movie is no accident. It coincides with Mercedes' advertising push to attract buyers to the new sporty luxury auto.
The GLE Coupe is one of five Mercedes models that will be seen in “Jurassic World,” according to Mercedes. The GLE Coupe is the only model in the movie that is being produced in Vance.
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The other models in the movie — the G-Class, the G63 AMG 6x6, the Unimog and the Sprinter — are built at Mercedes plants outside the United States.
MBUSI started commercial production of the GLE Coupe earlier this year. Because “Jurassic World” began filming 18 months ago, the vehicles used in the movie were custom-built prototypes made in Germany specifically for the movie, said MBUSI spokeswoman Felyicia Jerald.
All the Mercedes used in the movie have been returned intact to Mercedes, she said. They will be used at “Jurassic World” premieres and other promotional events. One of the movie's GLE 450 AMG Coupes likely will be displayed at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany. There currently are no plans now to display one of the vehicles at the Mercedes Visitor Center in Vance.
The GLE Coupe prototypes were kept under wraps during their shipment to the United States and “there were huge security measures on the set,” Mercedes said in a statement. “Even in remote filming locations on Hawaii's islands Oahu and Kaua'i and on the NASA site in New Orleans, the new SUV was shielded from photographers.”
It said the GLE 450 AMG Coupe “appears in the film as the hero car, and this is its first public outing in standard-specification guise. It is the company car of Claire Dearing (played by actress Bryce Dallas Howard), who is “Park Operations Manager” of the “Jurassic World” theme park. Safely and with effortless superiority the new, sporty trendsetter in the SUV segment takes the manager on- and off-road through all the hairy situations.”
In the movie, the Mercedes G-Class is used by game warden Owen Grady (actor Chris Pratt). The Unimog is used as a dinosaur ambulance, and the G63 AMG 6x6 and several Sprinter models are used for park logistics and the ACU team, a rapid-response task force that handles incidents.
Companies, like Mercedes-Benz, pay to have their products featured in movies and TV shows. The more prominently the product is seen and used helps determine the cost of the product placement, a type of advertisement.
Mercedes would not disclose what it paid for the product placement of its vehicles used in “Jurassic World.”
The movie, however, is not the first to feature a Vance-made Mercedes. In 1997's “The Lost World: Jurassic Park,” the second film in the Jurassic Park series, the then-totally new Mercedes M-Class sports utility vehicle was featured. The release of “The Lost World” in theaters coincided with the M-Class arrival at dealerships that year, much like this year's pairing.
That history with Hollywood was not lost in putting together the latest deal.
“In 1997 the Mercedes-Benz M-Class made its first official appearance in the Hollywood blockbuster 'The Lost World: Jurassic Park.' Today, 18 years later, another
Mercedes-Benz car will debut in a significant role in the latest installment of the groundbreaking Jurassic Park series named Jurassic World: the new GLE Coupe,” said a statement from Jens Thiemer, vice president of marketing for Mercedes-Benz Cars. “We are delighted to continue our partnership with a multitude of Mercedes-Benz vehicles and will promote the film and our cars with many exciting global marketing activities.”
“The Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 AMG Coupe makes its film debut as the official car of Jurassic World operations manager Claire, played by Bryce Dallas Howard,' he said. “When Claire must confront a crisis well beyond what she can handle alone, she takes the new Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe (showcasing its off-road capabilities) and joins behavioral researcher Owen (Chris Pratt) on a mission in the lush jungle of Isla Nublar.”
Mercedes-Benz will accompany the release of the movie with a co-promotional package that includes a television commercial, print and online advertising, dedicated microsites and social media activities, Thiemer said.
The TV commercials started airing earlier this month.
Movie fans can discover more about the film and the featured Mercedes-Benz vehicles on a special Jurassic World microsite, www.mercedes-benz.com/jurassicworld) that will show behind-the-scenes material and a selection of additional images of the set, which explain how the film was created and the roles of the Mercedes-Benz vehicles.
May 31st, 2015
Miracle League of Tuscaloosa ends latest season - Brad Zizzi hit a bright yellow, spongy safety ball with a regular bat and ran to first base on a rubber field.
Zizzi, 20, is a player in the Miracle League of Tuscaloosa, a baseball team that caters to children and adults with special needs. Saturday was the Miracle League's last game of the season.
Zizzi, who has autism and has played on the team for four years, said he likes making friends, "hitting a home run (and) catching the ball."
His mother, Shea Zizzi, said being part of the team benefits players and parents.
"It gives them an opportunity to play a sport that they can't normally play. It gives them great social skills. It gives them self-esteem. It's a comfortable setting for them, and they feel very confident," she said. "It's great for the parents. We can enjoy this without any pressure."
Miracle League of Tuscaloosa President John Miller said parents can relax and enjoy watching their player have fun in a safe environment while playing on a rubberized turf in the size and color of a regular field made to accommodate wheelchairs, walkers and other aids while preventing injuries.
"It takes away obstacles of a normal mainstream field for kids with special needs," Miller said. "Our motto is, every child deserves a chance to play baseball."
Miller said he and his wife, Tracy, spent weekends taking their 13-year-old son, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a 1-year-old, to Moody so he could play baseball with the Miracle League there until the league in Tuscaloosa was established.
John Miller, along with other members of the community, established the Tuscaloosa league in February 2007, and the field opened in June 2010.
"We felt like it could really benefit children here," he said. "I've seen (my son) come a long way. It has really given him a positive outlook on life."
Miller said when his son started playing when he was about 3 years old, he was using a walker to walk the bases. After surgeries and physical therapy, his son walks on his own. Miller has seen at least four children leave their walkers behind over the years, he said.
"There's nothing like seeing a child walk around the bases that doctors said would never walk," Miller said.
He said a lot of it has to do with confidence. Everyone cheers for them, including their buddy. Each player — there are about 110 players as young as 3 years old to 38 years old — is assigned a buddy, or volunteer, to stay with them throughout the game, helping them bat, move from base to base or cheer them on. Miller said this helps boost confidence and build friendships.
It's an all-round positive atmosphere and experience, he said.
"The most important thing is to make a child know that they can do anything. Everything is accomplishable. Everybody can do it," Miller said.
May 31st, 2015
Alabama ousted from Women's College World Series - OKLAHOMA CITY | The University of Alabama and LSU spent the whole year ranked among the top softball programs in the nation, but despite being in the same conference their paths never crossed.
It took the Women's College World Series to bring them together, and when it finally happened Saturday night at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium each team's season was at stake.
One would be eliminated, the other would advance to Sunday's semifinal round to face Michigan.
Alabama (48-15) closed out its season with a 5-3 defeat after eliminating Oregon earlier in the day.
UA had fallen behind by four runs early and had one last chance after loading the bases in the top of the seventh. Senior Jadyn Spencer hit a sacrifice fly to score a run, bringing up Marisa Runyon, who had hit a grand slam to lift Alabama past Oklahoma to advance to the World Series.
Before her at-bat was complete, another run scored on a wild pitch. Runyon grounded out to first to end the game.
After waiting to play each other all season, Alabama and LSU had to wait out Auburn's marathon victory over UCLA. But once the teams took the field, they started fast.
Alabama's Demi Turner drew a leadoff walk in the top of the first, moved to second on a wild pitch and took third on a groundout. She came home on Marisa Runyon's single to right field, which gave the junior third baseman the school single-season RBI record with 80 on the year, surpassing Charlotte Morgan's mark set in 2008.
That 1-0 lead didn't last long. LSU tied it on an RBI single by Sahvanna Jaquish. The Tigers took the lead when Kellsi Kloss followed with an RBI double and came all the way home on an errant throw, putting LSU up 3-1.
LSU piled on in the second, reaching UA starter Sydney Littlejohn (16-2) for two more runs on Bailey Landry's two-RBI single for a 5-1 lead.
Alabama, playing its second game of the day, couldn't find a spark. LSU's Allie Walljasper (16-5) gave up leadoff singles in the second and third, but UA was unable to capitalize.
All-American center fielder Haylie McCleney showed her stuff to end the third, crashing into the wall on a full run while making a major-league catch. Leslie Jury entered in relief after Littlejohn walked the leadoff batter in the top of the fifth and shut the Tigers down. The runner was caught stealing and Jury struck out the next two batters.
Alabama got two runners on base with no outs in the sixth, but didn't scratch. UA did it again in the seventh, then loading the bases to bring home a couple of too-little, too-late runs.
Jury went out on a high note in her last appearance as a senior, holding LSU to two hits with four strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings of relief.
Alabama proved earlier in the day that World Series heroes come in all sizes. Chandler Dare, a 5-foot-2 sophomore outfielder from Moundville who started at American Christian Academy, singled in the Crimson Tide's runs in a 2-1 victory over Oregon.
She drove in Danae Hays and Danielle Richard with a flair just over second base in the second inning.
Alexis Osorio (22-9) held the Pac-12 champions to one run on three hits with nine strikeouts in a dominant performance. She struck out five of the last six batters she faced.
Alabama eliminated Oregon, the No. 2 seed, for the second time in as many years.
Dare, a left-handed hitter who was batting ninth in UA's order, was dialed in against Oregon's lefty ace Cheridan Hawkins (30-5), a top-three national Player of the Year finalist, adding a double to go 2-for-2. UA coach Patrick Murphy asked her earlier this season if she was comfortable in a lefty-lefty matchup.
"My dad's left-handed," she told him. "I've seen a left-handed pitch since I was 3 years old."
Alabama managed just three hits off Hawkins, two of them coming in the third inning. Hays drew a walk and Richard banged a double off the wall in right field. Dare dropped her single over the infield to drive them home.
Oregon (51-8) answered with its only run in the top of the third on Janie Takeda's RBI single. The Ducks loaded the bases with two outs in the fourth. Osorio needed just one pitch to retire the next batter on a groundout.
"I know one of her backdoor curves, you could hear it as it crossed the plate," Murphy said. "It was spinning that much."
It was an important bounce-back game for Alabama – which lost to Michigan on Thursday in its opener – to avoid being eliminated from the World Series in two games for the first time since 2006. This is UA's 10th trip to college softball's national championship event, with the first coming in 2000, with Alabama winning at least one game in eight appearances.
Reach Tommy Deas at tommy@tidesports.com or at 205-722-0224.
May 31st, 2015
Meth lab on carport results in arrest of Northport man - A Northport man was charged with drug trafficking after police said they found a meth lab on his carport.
Northport Police and agents with the West Alabama Narcotics Task Force responded to the residence in the 1900 block of Eagle Lake Street at 3:30 p.m. Friday, according to NPD spokesman Lt. Chris Stewart.
Agents located an active meth lab, he said.
Sandon Hugh Langston, 35, was charged with trafficking meth, first-degree manufacturing methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia. Bond was set at $305,000.
May 30th, 2015
Demopolis police seek 2 women in high-value theft from Walmart - Demopolis police are searching for a woman they say stole high-valued merchandise from Walmart earlier this month.
The Demopolis Police Department was seeking two suspects after releasing surveillance photos of the May 19 theft to the media. The photos appear to show the women pushing a cart containing a television out of the store in Demopolis.
One woman was identified and will be charged with second- degree theft, Chief Tommie Reese said. The second woman, who police identified as Allison Henry Busbee, is believed to have fled from Marengo County to avoid arrest, he said.
Anyone with information about her location is asked to call the Demopolis Police Department at 334-289-3073, the Demopolis tip line at 334-289-1475 or any law enforcement agency.
May 30th, 2015
Tuscaloosa to have Household Hazardous Waste Disposal Day for public - Tuscaloosa's Household Hazardous Waste Disposal Day will be Saturday from 8 a.m. until noon at Tuscaloosa's Public Safety Logistics building, 3311 Kauloosa Ave.
Household hazardous wastes can be brought there for safe disposal.
Many hazardous wastes bear warning labels such as poisonous or flammable. Improper disposal can pose a threat to human health and the environment.
Items dropped off will either be neutralized and recycled into new product, or safely and properly disposed.
The free drop-off event is open only to residents of Tuscaloosa County.
Wastes will not be accepted from commercial businesses or nonprofit organizations.
The city of Tuscaloosa reserves the right to limit quantities accepted and to stop accepting waste once its quota is exceeded.
For more information, call Tuscaloosa 311 at 248-5311 or visit www.tuscaloosa.com/ESD.
May 30th, 2015
Effect of Spice in Tuscaloosa area spurs Northport pastor to take action with event - A new synthetic drug called Spice is sending many Tuscaloosa County residents to the emergency room or to the grave, and at least one local church pastor is taking action to stop it before more lives are lost.
"We're having an event to combat the use of Spice in our community," said the Rev. Gregory Morris, pastor of New Zion Baptist Church in Northport. "Due to the number of fatalities, I feel it's the church's responsibility to take a stand and educate the community about it."
The event "Spice or Life" will be at 4 p.m. today at the church.
Speakers will include District Attorney Lyn Head, Northport Mayor Bobby Herndon, investigators from the West Alabama Narcotics Task Force and representatives from Bradford Health Services.
The event will also have information sessions and offer rehab to Spice users.
"We're hoping to get Spice users and/or their families at the event," Moore said.
Carrie Baker, community relations officer for the Northport Police Department, said since March 28, hospitals in Northport and Tuscaloosa have treated at least 24 people for Spice. One person has died because of it and several others are comatose and are on life support.
"It's rapidly growing because it's becoming more easily accessible," she said. "Over the last year, we've seen more and more of it. Spice is considered synthetic marijuana. It often contains insecticides, things like rat poison and other chemicals that aren't supposed to be consumed. It causes people to see things that aren't really there, it can cause them to go into cardiac arrest, experience kidney or liver failure and an assorted number of other health conditions.
"People are treating it like marijuana so it can be smoked."
Other symptoms users often experience are hallucinations, aggression, paranoia, agitation and what appear to be seizures.
"In Pennsylvania, there's a case where Spice caused a guy to strip down naked, break into a day care and grab an infant by the throat," she said.
Baker said the ingredients in spice are constantly changing, making bodily reactions to it varied. Its constantly-changing ingredients also make it hard to identify and make illegal.
"Because Spice can be bought at a cheaper price than marijuana, people are purchasing it," she said. "What these consumers don't realize is they don't know what they're getting. Their package may say something like K2 or Scooby Snacks, with a nice packaging that makes people think it's safe to consume. Most of the people who are selling it are not consuming it.
"The components it's made of change. The chemicals they're using are constantly changing, and so we have to keep up with testing it to see what it might contain because we have to know what's in it to treat the people who took it. We're having to get laws passed to make its components illegal because the ingredients are constantly changing. We have a test kit for marijuana and for Spice, but if they change the ingredients, those kits don't show that its coming up as Spice."
Baker said Spice is also called potpourri, K2 and Scooby Snacks and is being sold in corner stores and on the street. The label on it often says "do not consume," but that hasn't stopped people from smoking and eating it.
Though Spice is being smoked as a substitute for marijuana, no marijuana is in it.
Baker said that everyone needs to become aware of Spice. It's affecting all age groups, races and economic groups.
"It's being consumed across the board from 12-year-old kids to people up to 60 years old. It's hitting everyone, not just a particular group, which makes it's harder to narrow down exactly where it's coming from.
"People can see what it's doing to people by searching videos on the Internet, but seeing what it does to someone in person is very scary."
Reach Jamon Smith at jamon.smith@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0204.
May 30th, 2015
Photographer with University of Alabama ties captures "real" Cuba for global exhibit - Photographer Chip Cooper is no stranger to Cuba. He’s traveled there several times to capture the vividness of a land just 90 miles off our shores. It’s a land that, because of the decades-long embargo, remains mysterious to most Americans.
A number of international exhibits and the 2012 University of Alabama Press book “La Habana Vieja” (“Old Havana”) resulted from Cooper’s work. They add to his rich list of publications, awards and accolades. Novelist Harper Lee said of Cooper: “You are a very great American photographer plus Georgia O’ Keeffe rolled into one. O’Keeffe, because you have her eye. You paint with film.”
But his most recent project, a collection of photographs from the Cuban countryside shot with photographer, publisher and gallery owner Julio Larramendi, will stretch that renown wider than ever. “Campesinos” goes up this week in the Massimiliano Massimo Institute in Rome as part of the 80th anniversary celebration of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the Vatican.
“I’d say for every project that I’ve ever done, you always want some sort of wind underneath the project,” Cooper said, a few hours before departing on an international flight. “Campesinos” has already been on exhibit in Havana and is scheduled for Washington’s Smithsonian in 2017; a New York exhibit is also in the works.
“That’s what we were counting on,” Cooper said.
In March, when Cooper and some of his University of Alabama Honors College students were in Havana for the exhibit opening, he heard from Lourdes Alicia, former head of international relations for the University of Havana and wife of Rodney Alejandro Lopez Clemente, Cuban ambassador to the Vatican. She was taken by the exhibit, which shows not only the Edenic Cuban rolling countryside, but its rural villages and tobacco farmers. She spoke with her husband, who contacted officials at the Vatican.
“It was a shock,” Cooper said. “We knew there was not another American and Cuban team working on this extensive a project. We went to places some had never seen in America. We knew it was good work, probably our best work of our respective careers.”
But having a Rome-Vatican exhibit — after the Rome portion, the photos will also travel to other Italian cities including Naples, Turin and Milan — wasn’t even in his dreams.
“It wasn’t even on my list, it was so extreme,” Cooper said, laughing. “I thought it was just too unbelievable; I thought, ‘I’m not going to do anything until I get an official invitation.’ ”
It wasn’t until after the foreign ministries of both governments signed off on it and the official invitations went out that Cooper began printing the photos and ordering the frames, 25 by each of the photographers, who shot thousands of frames over several months of last year and early this year.
Cooper met Larramendi through another Cuban photographer, Nestor Marti, with whom he had created “La Habana Vieja,” shot in Havana. Larramendi informed the American that Havana was not the “real” Cuba.
“Julio says no American has ever been there,” Cooper said.
“Most Cubans have never been there,” Larramendi said.
“Cuba is still to be discovered,” he added, noting all most people can picture of Cuba is rum, cigars and beautiful women.
So they set out across the width and breadth of the island nation, traveling 10,000 miles over mostly dirt roads, meeting and living with the campesinos, the farmers.
Cooper said photography is a solitary profession, mostly, but he’s worked in collaboration before. It was a first for Larramendi.
“I met Chip six years ago; it was love at first sight,” Larramendi said. “We realized we had a lot in common.”
The men are close in age, with children and other family, and have roughly equal-length careers as professional photographers.
Larramendi studied chemistry in the Soviet Union in the ’70s, and in 1975 began research on photography. By 1997, the money for research had dried up, so he began working as a commercial photographer, publishing his first book in 1998.
Cooper worked as director of photography for UA for 33 years and now serves as artist-in-residence in the Honors College. The day job didn’t keep him from shooting his own work, with published books including “Past Horizons” (architecture in Tuscaloosa County), “Hunting: The Southern Tradition,” “Alabama Memories,” “Silent in the Land,” “Common Threads” (with stories by Kathryn Tucker Windham), “Crimson: The University of Alabama” and “Charlie Lucas — Tin Man” (with text by Ben Windham), prior to “La Habana Vieja.”
UA Press will publish a book for 2016 based around the Vatican-bound work, titled “Campesinos, The Heart and Soul of Cuba.”
The pair shot for months, from September 2014 to January 2015, because they didn’t want to approach as tourists, visiting the agrarian land, something akin to that of early 20th-century American farms.
“We feel, and then we photograph,” Cooper said.
Many of the towns have electricity, and five channels of national TV, but some lacked even running water. On their travels, the photographers passed through about 100 small towns, recording the people and their relationships to the land and each other.
“They are, of course, the poorest,” Larramendi said. “But they offer us the best they have: their sorrows, their happiness, their stories. A cup of coffee, a place to stay.
“They will give you their food, their bed, and expect nothing back. They would be offended if you try to offer something in return. We found ways to show dignity. We dignified them because they are a proud people.”
Cooper’s earlier Cuban work was mostly about the cities of Cuba, its architecture.
“This is more akin to what Walker Evans did, the farmers, the working people,” Cooper said. “We started outside, wider, with the geography, the land, then moved closer into the houses, to the people.
“They just were the kindest, most compassionate people, and the most ingenious to survive. They draw from such a primal source. I couldn’t wait to get up every morning.”
Because UA’s Alabama-Cuba Initiative and the Honors College wielded such support, Honors deans Shane Sharpe and Jacqueline Morgan will travel to Rome with Cooper and his wife, Blakely. The exhibit opens June 4 and will remain on display for a month. While in Rome, Cooper and Larramendi will collaborate on plans for the Italian tour. The Cuban foreign ministry also hopes to display the photos in England, Russia and South America, Cooper said.
“First, we’ll be hanging the show, then doing stuff around the Vatican all the way up until the opening,” Cooper said. “The next day, supposedly we have an audience with the pope.”
Though Catholic friends have advised him on etiquette in meeting Pope Francis, Cooper has not yet been told where a camera will be welcomed. He said he plans to shoot away.
“Better to seek forgiveness than permission,” he said, laughing.
Cooper is still adjusting to this decades-long overnight success story.
“We’ve never had exposure of this magnitude. These are things you watch other people get,” he said. “It’s like when Huey Lewis and The News came out, everybody thought they were an overnight sensation, but they’d been working at it for 20 years.
“So we’re showing our show, and we might have a chance to talk to the pope, and I have a chance to talk about Cuba, which I love. I’m a big ally of the underdog.
“I would say this is the most monumental thing that’s ever happened to either one of us.”
Whether or not the thrill has yet worn off, by July he’ll be traveling to Cuba again, at work on a new project.
“It’s really about the work, for me, that moment of taking the picture ... everything else is secondary,” Cooper said. “I really haven’t shot much in the past six months. I’m looking forward to getting back to it.”
May 30th, 2015
Uphill climb for Alabama softball in World Series - OKLAHOMA CITY | Only two teams in the 33-year history of the Women’s College World Series have lost their first game and come back to win softball’s national championship.
Texas A&M did it in 1983, and UCLA did it two decades later.
After losing to Michigan on Thursday night in its opener, the University of Alabama will now have to do just that to win it all. The sixth-seeded Crimson Tide begins what it hopes will be a long climb out of the loser’s bracket today at 1:30 p.m. against second-seeded Oregon, which was upset by UCLA in its opener.
“Let’s be the third,” said Haylie McCleney, UA’s All-American center fielder, after the 5-0 loss to Michigan. “Let’s make history.”
No team has done it since the World Series went to its current format in 2005, with a best-of-three championship series after a double-elimination tournament bracket that narrows the field down to two finalists.
“Why not us?” McCleney said.
It won’t be easy. If Alabama defeats Oregon, it has to win another game later in the day to advance to Sunday’s semifinal round. UA would then have to win two games on Sunday to make it to the championship series.
“We know whoever it’s going to be is going to be a very good team,” Alabama coach Patrick Murphy said, “because everybody that’s here is danged good.”
Murphy wants a better approach by UA hitters.
“I think we were a little tentative hitting in the beginning of the (Michigan) game,” he said. “We need to be a little bit more aggressive and be a little bit more on time with the pitches. We were a little late and too under the ball, so if we can get a couple more line drives or ground balls I think we’ll be OK.”
Murphy said he expects to start freshman ace Alexis Osorio against Oregon, but that senior Leslie Jury and sophomore Sydney Littlejohn will also be available to contribute if UA can make a run through the loser’s bracket. Jury did not pitch in the regional or super regional rounds, Murphy said, due to an injury or illness, the nature of which he did not specify.
Alabama practiced Friday, then Murphy gave players time to spend with their families.
“Now it’s more a matter of getting their minds right, thinking and believing that they can do this,” the coach said.
Alabama has shown that it can overcome adversity this postseason. UA had to beat Oklahoma twice in one day to win its super regional to make it to the World Series.
“I mean, we lost the first game to Oklahoma,” McCleney said. “This team has a lot of grit. We’re going to show it.”
Alabama made it to the national championship series last season, finishing runner-up. The Crimson Tide won the national title in 2012 in its previous appearance, and was a semifinalist in 2011, 2009 and 2008.
UA last lost its opener in 2009, falling, coincidentally, to Michigan. No current Alabama player has had to fight through the loser’s bracket, but the coaching staff has experience from which to draw.
“We’ve got a pretty good history of coming back on a Saturday,” Murphy said. “I think this team can do it.”
Alabama has only gone 0-and-2 twice in its previous nine World Series appearances, in 2003 and 2006.
“The great thing,” Murphy said, “is it’s a double-elimination tournament. So we get to play again.”
There is more than a chance to make history at stake today. There is also pride.
“You have to respect everybody that’s here and just get a little more fight, a little more grit and hopefully we’ll show everybody the real Alabama,” Murphy said. “Because we have another opportunity.”
Reach Tommy Deas at tommy@tidesports.com or at 205-722-0224.
May 30th, 2015
Local man gets stolen shotgun back 41 years after it was taken - It was 1974 when someone broke into Jerry Fomby’s mobile home in Brookwood and stole four of his guns.
He gave up hope of their return long ago, which is why he was surprised when he got a phone call Thursday that one of them had been found in Jackson County, which is in the northeast corner of Alabama.
“I said, ‘Are you sure?’ and they said they had matched the serial number,” he said. “I said, ‘Well, that’s good then.’ ”
Fomby, 76, said that the .410 shotgun is in good shape, but someone sanded the stock.
Jackson County sheriff’s deputies investigating a complaint of drug activity found it at a home in Bridgeport, near the Tennessee state line, last week.
Sgt. Tracy Holman, a narcotics investigator, scanned the serial number through a computer and discovered it had been reported stolen.
“The homeowner said it was a family heirloom,” Holman said. “No telling how many times it switched hands in 41 years.”
The homeowner was 10 years old when the gun was stolen. Holman contacted the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office and had the gun delivered to the department’s Criminal Investigations Division. Unit commander Sgt. Dale Phillips sent an investigator to the Fomby home in Coaling to return the shotgun to its original owner.
“I think this is a great thing. It’s very rewarding that we can give this man a piece of his life back,” Phillips said. “This shows that you should never give up hope. It may take 40 years, but things like this can still happen.”
Fomby said he’s appreciative of the work by law enforcement to make sure his property was returned.
“That was good of them to do,” he said. “I didn’t expect to ever see it again.”
Reach Stephanie Taylor at stephanie.taylor@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0210.
May 30th, 2015
St. Mark United Methodist Church in Northport to celebrate 50th anniversary - Celebrating the 50th anniversary of St. Mark United Methodist Church on Sunday will be about remembering the history of the church but more about focusing on the future, church leaders say.
The Rev. Charles Gattis, who served as senior pastor of the church from 1982 to 1991, will give a sermon from Luke titled "The Power of a New Vision" about not resting on the first 50 years but embracing the next 50 years.
Current and former members will gather at the church for fellowship from 9:30-10:30 a.m. and the service will follow, featuring original hymns "Oh for a Thousand Tongues to Sing," "Break Thou the Bread of Life" and "Have Thine Own Way, Lord," which were sung at the first worship service held in the former Northport Jr. High School cafeteria on May 30, 1965.
Sunday will be a historical moment, said charter member Norman Carlson.
"It will be a time to reflect on what's been accomplished and the people who have been a part of it," he said.
Carlson said he has seen members, staff and pastors come and go, a growth in membership and missions, and many weddings, baptisms and funerals at the church over the past 50 years.
He said the church was birthed out of the First United Methodist Church in downtown Northport when McFarland Boulevard was completed. With growth of the city, the church was growing, and the only options were to move to a larger location or create a new church, Carlson said.
He said the first service in the church building, located at 1421 McFarland Blvd., was held in December 1966, but the sanctuary wasn't completed until around 1980. Now, St. Mark's building spans the entire five acres of land that was purchased in 1965.
The Rev. John Verciglio, who has served as senior pastor for the past four years, said the church has grown from 179 members from the first service in '65 to more than 1,000 members today. He said the church also started with only a few ministries and now has more than 30, locally and abroad.
He said the anniversary celebration will be a time to remember the church's foundation and let that foundation continue as the basis of their ministries going forward.
"The mission of the church has always been to reach the lost and hurting of the community by living out a genuine relationship with Christ by doing mission work in the community," Verciglio said. "This is a time to celebrate yesterday and today's ministry but is as much a launch pad in the continuing to offer Jesus Christ in the tomorrows ahead."
May 30th, 2015
June concert at Tuscaloosa Amphitheater canceled because of ticket sales - The Tuscaloosa Heritage Festival scheduled for June 20 at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater has been canceled, Red Mountain Entertainment announced Friday, because of low ticket sales.
City officials including Mayor Walt Maddox and Tera Tubbs, director of Tuscaloosa Department of Transportation, which oversees the city's entertainment division, consulted with Red Mountain Entertainment to make the call, according to Deidre Stalnaker, media relations coordinator for the city of Tuscaloosa.
This is the first cancellation based on lack of interest at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater, now in its fifth season.
Two previous shows, Sugarland with Little Big Town, April 2011, and Chicago with Kool and the Gang, August 2012, were canceled because of weather problems. The former was because of local issues; the latter because the bands couldn't travel to town for issues elsewhere.
Sales numbers for the blues, funk and gospel show were not available at press time.
A slump that hit the amphitheater in 2012, partly because of high heat days, reached its nadir with an October Gotye-Missy Higgins show that sold just more than 1,000 tickets.
Refunds for the Heritage Festival are available at the box office, for those who bought tickets at the box office; tickets purchased online or by phone will be automatically credited.
Con Funk Shun, Brick, Willie Clayton, Vashawn Mitchell and Lee Williams were slated to perform.
May 30th, 2015
Thursday wreck in Perry County kills Thomasville man - A Thomasville man was killed in a Thursday afternoon crash that involved three vehicles in Perry County, according to state troopers.
Willie Ray Jones, 65, was driving a 2005 Chrysler Pacifica that collided with a 2000 Freightliner driven by Willie Oliver Odom, 63, of Brent.
Jones was taken to Vaughn Regional Medical Center in Selma, where he later died. The passenger of the Chrysler, Sylvia Jones, 67, also of Thomasville, was taken to DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa for treatment.
A third driver involved in the crash, David Lee Norfleet, 55, of Marion, was not injured.
The crash occurred at 3:40 p.m. on Alabama Highway 5 near the 57-mile marker.
Troopers are continuing to investigate the crash.
May 30th, 2015
Boys State expected to draw about 600 seniors to Tuscaloosa - About 600 high school seniors from across Alabama will be in Tuscaloosa for the American Legion Alabama Boys State convention beginning Sunday.
Boys State is a leadership and government training program, held annually on the University of Alabama campus.
During the week, students conduct mock elections and learn about civic processes as well as participate in community service projects.
Boys State will open with a speech by Gov. Robert Bentley at 2 p.m. Sunday in Morgan Auditorium.
Boys State will wrap up June 6.
Girls State will be held June 7-12 in Tuscaloosa.
May 30th, 2015
Popsicles in the Park anti-bullying events to be held in Tuscaloosa - Family and Children Education Services will host a Popsicles in the Park event at multiple parks throughout the months of June and July to provide an opportunity for children to learn lessons about empathy for others, how not to bully and social life skills.
Kids, ages 4 to 11 years old, will attend a 20-minute lesson, then they can enjoy activities and a free popsicle from Steel City Pops.
The event will be held:
-June 13 at Snow Hinton Park.
-June 20 at Rosedale Park.
-June 27 at West End Park.
-July 18 at Munny Sokol Park South.
-July 25 at Palmore Park.
The events will be from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
May 30th, 2015
Fayette beer bill goes to Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley - A bill authorizing the city of Fayette to amend its alcohol beverage ordinance and allow the sale of draft beer or malt beverages has been sent to the governor after passing the Alabama Legislature on Tuesday.
Once signed by Gov. Robert Bentley, it would be up to the Fayette council to vote on amending the city ordinance on alcoholic beverages to accommodate the sale of draft beer, Ward 3 Councilman Jason Cowart said.
Cowart expects the council will take up the measure as soon after the bills' enactment. The council's next regular meeting is June 9.
"It's more of a housekeeping issue. The wet-dry (issue) was settled by the people five years ago," Cowart said. "Some prefer it in the can, some in the bottle and some from draft."
Fayette voted in 2010 to authorize alcohol sales, but the referendum did not include draft beer. The council passed a resolution in February by a 4-2 vote requesting the legislation to allow for the sale of draft and keg beer or malt beverages by retailers licensed by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board upon adoption of an ordinance by the council. State Rep. Kyle South sponsored the bill passed by lawmakers on Tuesday
The existing ordinance would remain unchanged, but for the addition of draft and keg beer sales, Cowart said.
"Nothing is going to change in terms of bars popping up like that. Nothing is going to change in regard to Sunday sales or anything like that," Cowart said.
Cowart sees the draft beer option as an advantage for a small town where the absence of rail or a navigable river, makes industrial recruitment and economic development more difficult.
"I do want to make this point, it is not about drinking …" Cowart said. "We want to see Fayette grow we want to be as an enticing and inclusive a community as we can be."
Cowart believes the option of beer on tap will benefit local restaurants.
"We have some businesses in town, who have heard from some of the customers, who would like to offer that product," Cowart said.
Missy's Taste of Home in Fayette doesn't sell enough alcohol to merit keeping beer on tap all the time, but owner Missy Rutland believes it would be helpful to the restaurant's catering service.
"For special events, that is much different story," Rutland said. "If I know I am going to have a crowd of beer drinkers, I will get several kegs."
Rutland would also like to be able to provide beers from Alabama breweries, many of whom only offer products by the keg.
"My mission is to improve our downtown and give some different options that we have not had in Fayette, even since we have been wet," she said.
Cowart also predicted the new retail option would result in some increase in the city's alcohol tax revenue, which funds road work.
Reach Ed Enoch at ed.enoch@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0209.
May 30th, 2015
Tuscaloosa leaders considering new penalties for repeat false alarm calls - City leaders are considering new penalties for the owners of buildings where public safety officials are repeatedly summoned on false alarms.
Tuscaloosa Police Officer Joey K. Turner told the City Council's Public Safety Committee this week that false alarms had averaged 3,268 lost work hours — that's more than $588,000 from 2005 and 2013, he said.
Turner presented Police Department data showing that 93 percent of the burglar alarms and 96.5 percent of the robbery alarm calls that officers responded to in that eight-year span were false.
Of the 80,023 burglar alarm calls, an average of almost 9,300 per year were false, according to Turner's data.
And for the 4,193 robbery alarm calls, an annual average of 505 were unwarranted.
"That is significant," Turner said. "And the overwhelming, vast majority of this is businesses. It's very few residences."
Tuscaloosa Fire and Rescue Chief Alan Martin corroborated Turner's claim, adding that most of the false alarms come "over and over and over" from a select few businesses.
It's not just private businesses adding to the problem, either.
In 2014 alone, the Tuscaloosa River Market had 22 false burglary alarms that were investigated by police, and the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater had another 15 false alarms that demanded attention.
"We can't ask the business community to hold to a standard that we're not held to," said Tuscaloosa Mayor Walter Maddox.
Turner said there appeared to be little — if any — effort by the repeat offenders to prevent future false alarms because there is no adequate penalty system for business and home owners whose alarm systems repeatedly malfunction.
Current city law allows for false alarms to trigger a fine of up to $25 per incident. According to the wording of the law, these fines are levied at the discretion of the Police Department's chief of communications.
However, the position no longer exists within the department, and Turner said that he knows of no one being assessed that fine in his almost 13 years as a Tuscaloosa police officer.
The Office of the City Attorney is now in the process of developing a draft ordinance to alter the penalties for false alarms for the council's Public Safety Committee to review next month.
The proposed ordinance likely will reflect aspects of two options proposed by Turner that he developed in order to stiffen the penalties and remove their arbitrary assessment.
Turner said these options were based on a model he found with the Oxnard, Calif., police department and each applies a sliding scale based on the number of false alarms generated by each location.
For both options, the first three offenses would generate a warning only. The fourth false alarm would have a $50 fine; the fifth would carry a $100 fine and a $200 fine would apply on every false alarm after that.
"When you start hitting people's pocketbook you generally create a behavior at that point," Turner said.
Option B, or Turner's second proposal, would also include the requirement for any property owner with an alarm system to obtain a burglary and robbery alarm permit.
The permits would be obtained for one-time fee of $5 and renewed every two years.
Turner said the permits were not for the purpose of generating revenue, but rather to ensure the police officers and firefighters responding to these alarms have up-to-date contact information for the property owners.
He said it is not uncommon for every contact number listed for a particular property owner to be out-of-date or disconnected.
Failure to obtain a permit would keep police officers from responding to the alarm, no matter its cause. But phone calls from concerned neighbors, though, still would cause officers to be dispatched, he said.
Reach Jason Morton at jason.morton@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0200.
May 30th, 2015
Alabma federal judge to resign - An Alabama federal judge who was arrested on a spousal abuse charge last year is resigning from the bench.
U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller will resign effective Aug. 1. His attorney, Barry Ragsdale, confirmed the resignation Friday.
Fuller was arrested in August after a fight with his wife at an Atlanta hotel and avoided prosecution by entering a court-approved program. His record was expunged following counseling.
Ragsdale says he can’t elaborate on Fuller’s decision or if Fuller was asked to resign.
A judicial committee within the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals investigated the incident.
While federal judges can only be forcefully removed by impeachment, the committee could request Fuller’s resignation.
Alabama’s two U.S. senators, Republicans Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby, have both said Fuller should quit.
U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Birmingham, said Fuller’s resignation is a “welcome outcome to a very painful breach of the public trust.
“His resignation will be the culmination of a drawn out process that was woefully unnecessary. The public trust was violated the moment his wife phoned the police.
“Justice was not served. We sent the wrong message to victims of domestic violence by allowing a federal judge to collect a paycheck — without managing a caseload — and ultimately having his record expunged,”Sewell said.
“Fuller failed to uphold the values we hold dear. Perhaps the only consolation is that he has chosen to spare his family and our nation of the expense of a drawn out impeachment process.”
May 29th, 2015
Cottondale trio face drug charges - Two infants were placed in state custody narcotics agents found a meth lab in a Cottondale home early Friday.
An anonymous caller complained of drug activity in the 8700 block of Canyon Lake Road, said Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Alex Miles.
Agents with the West Alabama Narcotics Task Force found 116 grams of meth oil, less than a gram of meth, drug paraphernalia and items used to make meth, he said.
The six-month old babies were placed in custody of the Department of Human Resources. Occupants arrested include:
Jerry Wayne Grimball, 47, charged with trafficking methamphetamine, first-degree manufacturing methamphetamine, two counts of chemical endangerment of a child and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Terry Lynn Jordan, 44, charged with trafficking methamphetamine, first-degree manufacturing methamphetamine, two counts of chemical endangerment of a child and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Sunny Leigh Anne Ward, 22, charged with trafficking methamphetamine, first-degree manufacturing methamphetamine and two counts of chemical endangerment of a child.
Grimball was held with bond set at $1,035,000. Jordan’s bond was set at $331,000 and Ward’s bond was set at $330,000.
May 29th, 2015
Casting call is Saturday for movie to film in Tuscaloosa - A casting call for a movie to be filmed in Tuscaloosa will be held from 10 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. Saturday at University Mall near Belk Men’s at the former site of the Limited.
New Life Cinema Productions is seeking extras to act in “The Fight Within,” which will be filmed in Tuscaloosa on June 15 through July 24.
Casting will include roles for men, women and children. Applicants will be asked to provide a photograph, height, weight, a phone number and an email address.
For more information, go to www.thefightwithinmovie.com.
May 29th, 2015
Heritage Festival canceled - The June 20 Tuscaloosa Heritage Festival has been canceled “due to lack of interest,” according to the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater.
The all-day show was to include funk, blues and gospel, headlined by Con Funk Shun, Brick, Willie Clayton, Vashawn Mitchell and Lee Williams.
A post on the amphitheater’s Facebook page said that people can receive refunds where they purchased the tickets. Tickets bought online or by phone will be automatically credited, according to the amp.
May 29th, 2015
Northridge High School graduate is National Merit winner - William Stewart, who graduated this month from Northridge High School was selected as a 2015 College-Sponsored National Merit Scholarship winner.
His National Merit Scholarship will be between $500 and $2,000 annually, according to the National Merit Scholarship Corp.
Stewart said he will use the scholarship to attend the University of Alabama, where he plans to study business.
He is one of 2,200 winners nationwide.
More than 1.4 million students from 22,000 high schools entered the scholarship competition when they took the 2013 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which serves as an initial screen of program entrants.
Semifinalists in the competition were the highest-scoring students in each state and represented less than 1 percent of the nation’s seniors.
From the semifinalists group, 15,000 finalists were chosen and winners were selected from that group.
The National Merit Scholarship Corp. is a not-for-profit company. It was founded in 1955 to conduct the annual National Merit Scholarship Program.
The majority of scholarships offered each year are underwritten by about 440 independent corporate and college sponsors that share the company’s goals of honoring scholastically talented youth and encouraging academic excellence at all levels of education.
May 29th, 2015
City of Tuscaloosa hires municipal court administrator - Arthur Patton Teele has been hired as the city of Tuscaloosa's first municipal court administrator in more than 10 years.
Teele, 37, was announced Thursday as Mayor Walter Maddox's choice to fill the recently created position.
“I am excited about Mr. Teele and what he brings to our city,” Maddox said in a prepared statement. “In the interview process, he demonstrated deep knowledge of the court and an authentic commitment to the public servants who work within it.
“I look forward to working with him in the years ahead to further elevate our service to the people of Tuscaloosa.”
Teele, who starts June 1, was hired at an annual salary of $80,962. He will be responsible for overseeing the daily operation and administration of the Municipal Court including supervising court staff and directing organizational programs.
No court employees are being relocated or eliminated as a
result of the hiring, city officials said.
The city's last court administrator was Johnny Williams, who left the position in May 2004. The position officially was eliminated by the City Council a month later.
The City Council recreated the position last month on the recommendations of city staff members, including Municipal Court Judge Ricky McKinney, who was hired in December to replace Madelene Hollingsworth, who served 12 years as the city's first full- time municipal court judge.
Teele previouly worked as a magistrate for Birmingham and has served as that city's magistrate supervisor, conducting research and directing non-judicial operations and functions of the court while serving as a magistrate.
He also has served as an adjunct professor in the criminal justice program at Miles College and has worked in the legal department for the city of Birmingham.
Teele has a law degree from Miles Law School and a bachelor's degree in political science and public administration from Florida A&M University.
He is a graduate of Homewood High School.
Reach Jason Morton at jason.morton@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0200.
May 29th, 2015
Chuck E. Cheese will return to Tuscaloosa - After being lost to Tuscaloosa in the April 2011 tornado, Chuck E. Cheese is finally coming back.
Now under development in the Midtown Village shopping center by Lewisville, Texas-based Parkway Construction, it is expected to be open by the first week of September.
CEC Entertainment Inc., the parent company of Chuck E. Cheese, has yet to confirm the store’s return to the city.
However, the Facebook page for Midtown Village announced its arrival on Saturday and a large sign with the words “Coming Soon!” and an image of the Chuck E. Cheese mouse is now hanging in the space between the Azwell women’s clothing store and Rack Room Shoes.
Chuck E. Cheese operated for years in the former Wood Square Shopping Center on McFarland Boulevard, the current site of the Lofts at City Center mixed-use development.
The old Chuck E. Cheese was caught in the 5.9-mile path of the tornado that struck Tuscaloosa on April 27, 2011.
May 29th, 2015
13th Street East, 21st Avenue and Albright Road will be closed in next few days - Tuscaloosa will be close 13th Street East between McFarland Boulevard and Dr. Hillard Drive today at 6 a.m. The street will remain closed for 30 days. The closure is due to resurfacing and curb/gutter installation.
C&B Plumbing will close 21st Avenue between University Bopulevard and Jack Warner Parkway on Saturday from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. The closure is due to water meter installation.
Mickey's Backhoe Service will close Albright Road between Springbrook Drive and 33rd Court East on Monday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. The closing is to allow sewer work.
May 29th, 2015
'Youth Explosion' at fairgrounds, anti-drug event, seeks to call youths to Jesus - This Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Just Jesus Outreach Ministries will host its bi-annual “Youth Explosion” at Jaycee Fairgrounds in Alberta.
Pastor Olivia Davis, founder of Just Jesus Outreach, said the free event is to show the love of Jesus Christ to the city's youth and encourage them to stay away from drugs, especially the new synthetic drugs of spice, mojo and molly.
“We've cut down some on the violence in the city, but now the problem is more about overdosing on drugs,” Davis said. “We have to show more love to them for them to understand that God is love. And we have to inform them about the dangers of spice, mojo and molly. We're having a lot of deaths due to this drug called spice.
“We want them to know that you don't need to get high on drugs. You can get a better high with Jesus Christ. Also, we want to push our men front and center to let the youth know that there are some fathers and mentors out here. We're calling for all our men to come out and encircle our children and pray around them.”
Featured speakers will include a former drug-user and a member West Alabama Narcotics Task Force. There also will be mime dancing, rappers from Big Boy Entertainment, gospel singers and a health fair conducted by Whatley Health Services.
There will also be free food. About 2,000 people are expected to attend.
“We're taking our city back one section at a time,” Davis said. “We're not going to keep standing for what's going on in our streets. The fighting that's going on in our streets will cease when we begin to take back control. The greatest commission Jesus ever gave us was to 'go ye into all the world and make disciples.' ”
There will be a 6 p.m. follow-up event called “The Aftermath of the Youth Explosion” at Morning Star Baptist Church, 2518 Stevenson Drive in Holt. The speaker will be prophet Tristan McPherson.
“Say no to spice and yes to Jesus,” Davis said. “We're still calling on all men, black, white and otherwise to come out. Bring a pack of hotdogs or hamburgers.”
Reach Jamon Smith at jamon.smith@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0204.
May 29th, 2015
Alabama House votes for changes and restrictions to Accountability Act - MONTGOMERY | The Alabama House on Thursday voted to expand a program that helps some families pay for private school, but it also wants to tighten restrictions on scholarships and the groups that distribute them.
The House of Representatives voted 68-26 to approve changes to the Alabama Accountability Act. The Alabama Accountability Act provides income-tax credits — a dollar-for-dollar reduction on an income-tax bill — in exchange for donations to the scholarship-granting organizations. Children in failing public schools have priority for the scholarships. Failing schools are the bottom 6 percent of K-12 schools on standardized test scores.
The bill expands the cumulative yearly cap on donations from $25 million to $30 million. It would also tighten income restrictions on recipients and expand reporting requirements for the organizations that hand out scholarships.
Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh praised the proposed changes to the program he helped create two years ago. He said the cap needed to be raised after a scholarship granting organization did not raise enough money to renew scholarships while there was ongoing litigation over the program.
“It tightens up a lot of the accountability. I think it makes excellent challenges to the Accountability Act and will allow those worthy students and parents to continue in the program,” Marsh said.
The bill would also increase reporting requirements and specify that the Department of Revenue can audit the scholarship-granting organizations. The proposal would also tighten income requirements on new scholarship applicants to 185 percent of the federal poverty level. That means a family of four would have to earn $44,123 or less each year to qualify for the scholarship.
The Alabama Senate sent the bill to conference committee to review a House change that will require the Department of Education to maintain a database of scholarship recipients’ test scores.
May 29th, 2015
Time runs out for lottery and casino bill - MONTGOMERY | A bill to allow a lottery and casino gambling in Alabama is dead for this legislative
The bill didn’t get a floor vote Thursday, and legislative rules make it difficult to pass controversial Senate bills in the final four days of the 30-day session. That means supporters will have to try again later if they want to enact the bill.
Republican Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh had proposed allowing Alabamians to vote on creating a state lottery and allowing casinos at state dog tracks.
Marsh said he believes legislators are interested in continuing the conversation on gambling as a revenue source.
He said the idea might come to life again if lawmakers have a special session on the
General Fund budget.
May 29th, 2015
Alabama, U.S. Justice Department reach agreement over alleged prison abuse - MONTGOMERY | An Alabama women's prison will be overhauled after the U.S. Justice Department said officers there coerced inmates into sex, watched them in showers and bathrooms and organized a New Year's Eve strip show.
The Department of Justice on Thursday filed a complaint in federal court summarizing alleged abuses at the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka, along with an accompanying settlement agreement outlining the steps the state has agreed to take to eliminate the abuses.
Vanita Gupta, the Justice Department's top civil rights lawyer, said the agreement could serve as a model for other prisons.
"The settlement ultimately aims for a complete transformation, a kind of cultural change inside the institution," Gupta said in an interview with The Associated Press.
Built in 1942 in the sleepy town of Wetumpka and named for a reformer who crusaded for better conditions behind bars, Alabama's lone prison for women was thrust into an unfavorable spotlight last year when the Department of Justice accused Alabama of violating inmates' constitutional rights to be protected from harm.
"Defendants have allowed a sexualized environment to exist at Tutwiler, such that sexual abuse and sexual harassment are constant, and prisoners must sometimes submit to unlawful sexual advances from staff in order to obtain necessities or to avoid punishment," the Justice Department wrote in the complaint.
The settlement came after months of negotiations between DOJ and Alabama over changes at the prison. Those improvements include requirements that sexual abuse and harassment allegations are properly and thoroughly reported, and a rigorous tracking system for prison staff. State officials also agreed to install monitoring cameras and increase privacy in bathrooms. The state has also agreed to hire a full-time compliance manager for the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act.
"It's a good day not just for Tutwiler. It's a good day for the Department of Corrections and the state, and I think it speaks well for where we are going in the future," Alabama Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn said.
Dunn said that many of the changes outlined in the settlement are already in place, including the camera system, staff training and bathroom privacy features.
"The Alabama Department of Corrections was really a full partner in drafting the agreement," Gupta said, adding, "It's hard for anyone to take a look at our findings and not be objectively disturbed by what we found."
The Montgomery-based Equal Justice Initiative first raised the alarm about Tutwiler after investigating an inmate's complaint in 2011 that she was assaulted.
"It was a horror house," EJI executive director Bryan Stevenson said. "Women were not safe. They were being threatened and menaced, and when they were assaulted and raped, there was no safe way for them to complain about these problems."
Stevenson said conditions have improved, but he was concerned about how long it has taken. He also said that problems of crowding and assaults persist at other state prisons. Stevenson said he was also concerned that officers in the incidents did not face criminal charges.
"Things have improved but there is still a lot more work that has to be done there," he said.
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley said the state has tried to address the concerns raised by the Justice Department.
State Sen. Cam Ward, who chairs a state task force on prison reform, said that with the settlement, "Hopefully, we are closing an ugly chapter in our state's correctional history, but I don't think by any stretch of the imagination that it is something to be happy about. It should be a wake-up call for all of us that we've got to do a better job of managing our corrections system."
May 29th, 2015
Northport City Council cancels meeting - The regularly scheduled Northport City Council meeting set for Monday has been canceled.
The council will meet on June 15.
May 29th, 2015
Alabama Community Colleges' first trustees sworn in - The new board of trustees tasked with overseeing the Alabama Community College System was sworn in Wednesday by the governor during its first meeting.
“I think this is the beginning of something really, really special,” Gov. Robert Bentley said. “Down the road, I think we will look back and see this as something historic.”
Bentley, as president of the board, presided over the half-hour meeting in Montgomery during which the board elected officers, adopted bylaws and set its next meeting date as June 10 at the two-year system office.
The trustees will have the opportunity to set future meeting dates at the June meeting, System Chancellor Mark Heinrich said. The board is required to meet at least quarterly by law.
The board includes the governor as the ex-officio president, trustees representing each of the state's seven congressional districts, an Alabama Board of Education member as an ex-officio non-voting member, and an at-large trustee.
The board includes Vice President Al Thompson, District 1; Ron Fantroy of Evergreen, District 2; Susan Blythe Foy of Alexander City, District 3; J. Frank Caldwell of Jasper, District 4; Crystal Brown of Decatur, District 5; President pro tempore Milton A. Davis of Birmingham, District 6; Chuck Smith of Demopolis, District 7; H. Blake McAnally of Decatur, at-large; and Alabama Board of Education member Mary Scott Hunter. The trustees were appointed by Bentley and confirmed by the state Senate.
The legislation creating the new board was enacted earlier this month. The bill transferred supervision of the two-year system from the Alabama Board of Education, which opposed the move, to the new board.
The bill's supporters, including Bentley, argued the two-year college system would be better served by a separate board focused exclusively on its needs. Lawmakers who supported the move also emphasized a need to focus on workforce development.
The community system provides, workforce development, academic and adult education services. In his comments, Bentley focused on the system's career development programs role in training Alabama workers.
“Our community and technical colleges are critical to our economic development efforts. One of the biggest selling points we have to recruit businesses to the state of Alabama is our workforce. It is essential we maintain a strong workforce for national and international companies, so they may call Alabama home,” Bentley said.
Reach Ed Enoch at ed.enoch@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0209.
May 28th, 2015
Alabama softball drops Women's College World Series opener to Michigan - OKLAHOMA CITY | Leave it all on the field.
It's what every athletic team wants to do.
It might be what the University of Alabama softball team did to make it to the Women's College World Series.
The Crimson Tide fell flat Thursday at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium, losing 5-0 to Michigan in its opening game at the World Series. Michigan hit two home runs, one of them a grand slam, to account for its scoring.
Perhaps Alabama's batteries weren't recharged after its epic come-from-behind effort to beat Oklahoma in last weekend's super regional.
Or perhaps Michigan is just that good, or the Wolverines have Alabama's number.
Third-seeded Michigan (57-6) beat Alabama (47-14) twice during the regular season in Tuscaloosa, and UA had no new solutions this time around.
“We had to put some more pressure on them,” Alabama coach Patrick Murphy said, “and we didn't do that.”
Michigan took the early lead on left fielder Kelly Christner's solo home run in the bottom of the first inning.
If that was a sign that Alabama's freshman pitcher, Alexis Osorio, was still recovering from pitching all three games against Oklahoma last weekend, she wasn't ready to concede it: Osorio struck out the next four batters she faced and retired seven in a row before Michigan put up a big inning in the fourth to take complete command.
All-American second baseman Sierra Romero hit a leadoff single and Christner drew a walk to get it started for the Wolverines.
A key coaching decision loaded the bases with no outs. Right fielder Kelsey Susalla hit a single to center field, a low liner that dropped in front of Alabama's All-American outfielder, Haylie McCleney. As McCleney fielded the ball and threw home, Michigan coach Carol Hutchins literally fell down backpedalling to stop Romero from rounding third. The runner held, avoiding a likely out as McCleney's throw to the plate was on time and true.
“I was pretty fired up to try to get another run across, but I just made a really athletic move and almost tackled her,” Hutchins said with a grin. “It would have been a really poor out at the plate, and obviously I have a lot of respect for McCleney.
“Fortunately (Romero) looked up at the right moment, because she was on her way.”
That loaded the bases for catcher Lauren Sweet, who clobbered a grand slam to right field, battling behind from 0-2 to run the count full before the big hit.
“My adjustment was to go up there and use my timing swing and really see a lot of pitches,” Sweet said. “I think that even though I got down in the count I was able to come back and really see the ball ... so my game plan worked out.”
Michigan had a chance to pile on more with no outs. Osorio walked the next batter, but refocsed to retire the three who followed to get out of the inning.
Alabama's bats failed to generate much of anything against Michigan ace Megan Betsa (31-4). Senior right fielder Jadyn Spencer broke up Betsa's no-hitter with a single in the top of the fourth.
Second baseman Demi Turner hit a one-out single in the sixth. Spencer followed with a two-out single after Turner moved to second on a long fly ball, bringing up sophomore third baseman Marisa Runyon – who hit the grand slam to beat Oklahoma in the decisive super regional game – to give Alabama it's only real scoring threat of the night. She popped up for out three and Alabama ended up on the wrong side of a shutout.
“We continually did the same thing over and over, three pop-ups in a row or something like that,” Murphy said. “Against a very good team and a very good pitcher, you're not going to win many ballgames like that.”
Osorio (21-9) matched Betsa in throwing a four-hitter, but walked four to Betsa's one and gave up the two homers. Osorio struck out seven and Betsa six.
Alabama (47-14) will have today off before it tries to battle back through the loser's bracket Saturday, starting with a 1:30 p.m. game on ESPN against the loser of Thursday's late-night game between UCLA and Oregon.
If UA wins that game, it would have to then beat the loser of tonight's Florida-LSU game to advance to the semifinals, where it would have to win two games on Sunday to make the best-of-three national championship series.
Reach Tommy Deas at tommy@tidesports.com or at 205-722-0224.
May 28th, 2015
Bobby Miller Center shows off its colossal expansion - Tiffany Geist, 13, let out a scream as she dropped onto a green spiral slide. Around her, dozens of children’s feet thudded against the rubber mat, and their squeals and laughter bounced off the walls as they climbed the indoor playground.
The more than 1,800-square-foot playground is part of a new 10,000-square-foot addition, which opened Thursday at the Bobby Miller Activity Center at Newt Hinton Park.
The playground features two spiral slides, an 8-foot triple slide, custom graphics of kids playing sports and more.
“I haven’t been on anything like this before. There are pogo sticks. There are lots of slides (and) lots of stairs.” Tiffany said. “You can just go crazy. It’s huge.”
Playground designer Adrian Cleckler said it is the largest indoor soft playground unit in the Southeastern United States.
“When you walk into Chuck E. Cheese
when you’re a small kid, everything looks huge and really cool. When you get older and walk in, it’s small and not as impressive, but even as an adult when you walk into the Bobby Miller Center and look at this one, I can’t imagine what kids think of it,” Cleckler said.
In addition to the playground, a 25-foot rock-climbing wall, two racquetball courts, new fitness equipment, a party room and office and storage space were included in the $1.2 million expansion funded by the Tuscaloosa County Commission.
The expansion is part of an additional gym that was included in the original plans of the Miller Center, which first opened in the fall of 2006, but the additional gym was not funded at the time, said Gary Minor, Tuscaloosa Park and Recreation Authority director.
He said that instead of building another gym, PARA turned to the community for recommendations on what should be included in the addition.
“This is a gymnasium-size addition. When the original building was built, this wall was added so we could add another gym in the future,” Minor said. “We said, ‘Let’s do something more exciting than a gym if that’s what people want,’ so we surveyed the community.”
Minor said the new addition, which took about nine months to complete, “provides quality of life and the opportunity to experience different recreational venues than have been afforded before.”
Visitors can enjoy the new amenities for free during June. After June, the daily fee for non-members will be $10. For membership pricing, go to www.tcpara.org.
Commissioner Bobby Miller said he is excited for the community to see what’s new at the center named for him.
“For years and years, everybody’s always loved Ronald McDonald(’s playground). We have finally outdone Ronald McDonald with this playground, with the rock wall and the racquetball facilities,” Miller said. “Old Ronald McDonald can go home.”
May 28th, 2015
CECIL HURT: Concussion rule will take some getting used to - On Monday night, Stephen Curry of Golden State, the NBA's Most Valuable Player, took a spectacular tumble while attempting to block a shot against the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference Finals, spinning in the air and landing with a solid jolt to the back of the head. Later, Curry returned to the game, although he was clearly suffering from what someone who didn't want to say “concussion” might call “the cobwebs.”
On Wednesday night, Curry's teammate, the also-valuable Klay Thompson, took a knee to the side of the head from Houston's Trevor Ariza, left the court, went to the locker room and came back with no concussion test and a laceration to the ear that required him to go back and get three stitches. In a postgame interview, he told ESPN's Doris Burke that he was fine but “a little dizzy,” a condition in which he played most of the fourth quarter.
If any background was needed for the new concussion protocol the SEC adopted this week and announced on Wednesday, the NBA playoffs more than provided it.
Yes, basketball is a different sport than football, but concussions are still dangerous. People who shrug and say, “it's only basketball,” need to discuss the matter with former Alabama guard Andrew Steele, who lost much of his final season due to concussions. A blow to the head is dangerous in any sport. Ask Missouri softball pitcher Tori Finucane, who took a line drive to the face in an NCAA Tournament game at UCLA. In that case, there was no option to return, and she spent the night under observation at a hospital before being cleared.
I understand the NBA playoffs feature multimillion-dollar players who have a direct effect on multimillion-dollar outcomes. Furthermore, virtually all players, in football, basketball, softball or baseball, will tell their coach or the team's medical personnel that he or she feels fine, that they're ready to get back in the game.
Competitors want to compete, and they want to seem tough. But they aren't always the best judge of their own condition. Neither is a coach, who's under pressure to win and has a player telling him that he's good to go.
Motivated (although no one said so) by an incident at Michigan last season when former coach Brady Hoke put a clearly-concussed quarterback Shane Morris back on the field in a loss to Minnesota, the SEC has made the bold move of taking the decision whether a player can play out of the coach's hands. To its credit, the Big 10 has adopted a similar measure.
“It will be someone that the conference puts there, not the institution,” Mike Slive, the SEC's retiring commissioner, said. “It will give us another check if, on the field, a team does not see that a player has sustained a head injury.”
There is potential for controversy. As Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated points out, a football team that is told to remove its star quarterback in the fourth quarter of a close game is going to have some unhappy fans, and some unhappy coaches as well. Though it passed with little fanfare, the measure could potentially have more win-or-lose impact than a dozen “satellite camps.”
But the mindset is going to have to change. A player who goes down with a serious knee injury under the same circumstances is not compelled to get back in the game. But a concussion can have serious consequences, both in the short term and the long term. There has been great progress in concussion awareness over the past 50 years, when players who were knocked out cold were often dragged to the sidelines, given smelling salts and put back into a game. But more progress needs to be made, so players — even valuable ones — aren't put back into action when they're feeling “a little dizzy.”
Reach Cecil Hurt at cecil@tidesports.com or 205-722-0225.
May 28th, 2015
Walmart market coming to Northport - Bid documents have confirmed that Northport will be getting a new Walmart Neighborhood Grocery on McFarland Boulevard at the former Kmart site.
The bids are being advertised on LDILine.com, a source of construction project leads now bidding throughout the Southeastern United States, for the development of Walmart Neighborhood Market No. 5248 at 1700 McFarland Blvd. in Northport.
According to the bid specifications, a company is being sought to demolish the existing Kmart building at the Northport Corners shopping center for the construction of a new building, fuel station and kiosk.
Northport Mayor Bobby Herndon said Thursday that he is pleased with the addition to Northport’s retail offerings.
“It’ll be a destination and it will generate more sales tax for the city of Northport,” Herndon said of the Walmart-based grocery store.
Although a company spokesman has yet to confirm the store’s construction or any other details related to the project, it has been rumored for months that Walmart will be adding one of its Neighborhood Markets in Northport.
This is the first official confirmation of its arrival.
Earlier this year, the Northport City Council approved up to $1.8 million in tax incentives for the redevelopment of the old Kmart store at Northport Corners.
At the time, city officials said a new $10 million retail development was planned for the site, and in place of the former Kmart a new, 41,000-square-foot retail store would be built.
Also, a second, smaller retail building will be built on the site, although the existing strip of smaller stores to the west of the former Kmart will not be affected, city officials said.
In return for redeveloping the property, the city will give Walmart up to $1.8 million over 10 years as long as it generates more sales tax revenue for the shopping center in 2015.
If tax revenues from the Northport Corners shopping center are equal to or less than what they are this year, the first year without Kmart, then the developer will receive no incentives for that particular year.
Walmart will have two years to redevelop the Kmart site, including the rehabilitation of a drainage pond behind the former store. After those two years, a 10-year period will begin for the incentives and, after 10 years or the $1.8 million cap is reached, the incentive policy will expire.
This will mark the second Neighborhood Market in the Tuscaloosa area for Walmart.
In January, a company spokesman confirmed that Tuscaloosa’s first Walmart Neighborhood Market was coming to the 8.13-acre tract at the southeast corner of Skyland Boulevard’s intersection with Hargrove Road East.
Plans for the store now under construction show a 41,000-square-foot grocery that will feature a pharmacy with a drive-through window.
Also part of the development is a six-pump gasoline island with a kiosk that is similar to the one now outside of the Walmart Supercenter and Sam’s Club on Skyland Boulevard.
Reach Jason Morton at jason.morton@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0200.
May 28th, 2015
Forecasters say more storms are likely in Alabama - BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Forecasters say more storms are likely in Alabama after a round of rough weather that included flooding and a tornado scare.
The National Weather Service says storms with heavy rains and gusty winds are possible from the Tennessee Valley to the Gulf Coast on Thursday.
Forecasters say the worst threat is during afternoon hours, with storms diminishing after nightfall.
Parts of the state endured a similar round of bad weather Wednesday afternoon.
Strong storms caused flooding in northwest Alabama, leaving cars submerged in parking lots in Russellville and some roads covered with water.
The weather service issued a tornado warning in northeast Alabama as the storms moved through Jackson County, but no damage is being reported. Forecasters say radar indicated a possible twister in the area.
May 28th, 2015
Grand jury indicts pit bull owner - The owner of a pit bull that mauled a young boy in Tuscaloosa County last month is now facing criminal charges.
Christopher Guyton, 22, was arrested early Thursday and charged with first-degree assault, second-degree assault and reckless endangerment. A grand jury returned an three-count indictment against him on May 13.
Titus Wilkerson, 9, was walking home from his bus stop on Garden Hill Parkway on April 1 when the pit bull attacked. Guyton told The Tuscaloosa News that he was at work at the time.
Titus suffered serious injuries, including the loss of an ear, puncture wounds to his face, head, abdomen and legs. He is expected to have severe, permanent scarring and will require extensive medical treatment.
“The reason for the charges could be failure to control the animal, being reckless in allowing the animal to run at large and not taking care of the dog to prevent such an attack,” said Capt. Gary Hood, Tuscaloosa County Metro Homicide Unit commander .
Webbie, a 2-year-old pit bull, was euthanized after the attack.
Deputies had been called to the neighborhood off Alabama Highway 69 South before on reports that the dog had attacked or chased others in the area.
The Wilkerson family has filed a civil lawsuit against Guyton and his grandmother, who are their next-door neighbors.
Reach Stephanie Taylor at stephanie.taylor@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0210.
May 28th, 2015
GUEST COLUMNIST: Giving Day fundraiser to benefit West Alabama - The American Red Cross is an organization that helps individuals and communities across multiple lines of service, including Service to the Armed Forces, Preparedness and Health and Safety Services, Biomedical Services and Disaster Services. Every day the Red Cross is working in communities across America to make a difference in people's lives.
Whether supporting our military members and their families, teaching life-saving skills like CPR, first aid and lifeguarding, collecting, processing and distributing about 40 percent of the nation's blood supply or responding to a disaster like a home fire, Red Cross is there to help.
On June 2, the American Red Cross is launching its first 24-hour fundraising campaign supporting the work of the Red Cross in communities across the country. We are asking everyone in the West Alabama area to make a donation on this day to support the work the Red Cross does in our communities.
The theme of Giving Day is “All In 1 Day” because the Red Cross is “All In” every day, helping people when they need it most.
This is a day to celebrate all the good the Red Cross does, and to explain “this is what we do every day, and this is why we need your support this one day.” Support of Giving Day allows the Red Cross to be there for those in need, to help them get back on their feet and know they are not alone.
Even when you don't see a disaster on the news, Red Cross volunteers are still working hard — every day — to help people facing emergencies. These are your neighbors, members of every community around the area, who rush to the aid of those in need. The Red Cross couldn't be there to help without the support of the American public, and we couldn't be here to help without the generous support of the West Alabama community.
Every eight minutes Red Cross responds to a disaster. Whether a single-family fire or a large devastating event, the Red Cross is there to offer help and hope to those who have been impacted. This includes providing items such as food, shelter, clothing, comfort kits, replacement of glasses and medications, emotional support, relief supplies and more. All are provided through the generosity of the people who support the work of the American Red Cross.
This is why we are launching a nationwide campaign to increase awareness of all that the Red Cross does to ensure that when an emergency or disaster does strike — large or small — that the Red Cross is there to help. People think of the Red Cross during major disasters, but they may not realize we are there every day, around the country, helping care for people affected by emergencies and preparing communities to be more resilient for future disasters.
This year, the West Alabama Chapter has:
- Responded to 219 disaster incidents, assisting 728 individuals.
- Taught 1,307 individuals life-saving skills through First Aid, CPR and AED (automatic external defibrillator) courses, making our neighborhoods safer for everyone who lives here.
- Provided 192 services to 115 military members and their families.
- Collected 2,989 units of blood.
- Supported 1,042 clients with utility assistance through Project SHARE.
Donations are used to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs. Donations are used to provide food, shelter, emotional support and other assistance, as well as the vehicles, warehouses and people that make that relief possible.
Here in West Alabama, your support of the American Red Cross Giving Day is a promise of better days ahead for those in our community who have lost everything. Please give on June 2 at www.redcross.org/givingday to support the Red Cross in your community.
Beakie Powell is executive director of the West Alabama Chapter of the American Red Cross, which serves Bibb, Fayette, Greene, Hale, Lamar, Marion, Marengo, Pickens, Sumter and Tuscaloosa counties.
May 28th, 2015
University Place Elementary to keep most students in new plan; middle school still to close - After Tuesday evening’s uproar over the proposed closing of University Place elementary and middle schools in the latest version of the facilities analysis, DeJong-Richter CEO Tracy Richter came to Wednesday’s Tuscaloosa City Board of Education meeting with a new plan for University Place that keeps most of the students there.
Like the previous plan, DeJong-Richter’s new proposal still calls for University Place Middle to close and its students to be relocated to a newly constructed middle school that combines University Place Middle’s students with students from Rock Quarry Middle and portions of students from Westlawn and Eastwood Middle schools.
But unlike the previous plan, University Place Elementary students will remain. Also, students in the magnet school grades first through fifth will be relocated to University Place, bringing the school’s enrollment to more than 600.
“What we heard tonight is leave that choice area (at University Place) here because if we don’t have the middle school in there, we have the room to do it,” Richter said. “So we can leave that whole current boundary intact and keep the historical area with the Downs area, with the Glendale area all together.
“University Place has a capacity of about 800 students. It has about 349 students living in the school’s zone. There’s 260 students who live in the non-choice area of the zone and 89 who live in the choice area. About 290 magnet school students would come in.”
With a capacity of more than 800 students, UP would still need more students to fully use its space, so Richter proposed expanding the school’s zone.
“We’re (thinking of) combining whole boundaries with the University Place boundaries,” he said. “Those boundaries are Central, Northington or Skyland.”
Richter said UP would completely take over the boundaries of either Central Elementary, Northington Elementary or Skyland
Elementary so that all the students zoned for one of those schools would instead attend University Place Elementary. And like the plan proposed Tuesday, the school that has its boundary absorbed would close.
Richter’s new plan for UP was met with approval by many residents attending the meeting. School board members didn’t express any objection to it.
DeJong-Richter is an education facility planning firm that was hired by the school board in July 2014 to conduct a facilities analysis and demographic study on the system that would guide the system’s future construction plans.
Reach Jamon Smith at jamon.smith@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0204.
May 28th, 2015
House panel kills Alabama bill banning LGBT discrimination - MONTGOMERY | An Alabama House committee on Wednesday canceled a vote on a bill that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The delay in the House Judiciary Committee essentially kills a bill that would have protected individuals from discrimination in areas including employment and housing. The legislation also would have protected against discrimination related to voting, financial transactions and accommodations.
State Rep. David Faulkner, R-Mountain Brook, asked the committee to cancel the bill’s vote because of what he described as constitutional law concerns.
“This is a big issue, and it deals with some big issues that raise a lot of constitutional issues that we need to look at, I believe, further,” Faulkner said.
The bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Christopher England, D-Tuscaloosa, said Alabama should protect people from discrimination based on their gender identity or sexual orientation.
“I believe that in order to protect those classifications they need to be enumerated,” England said.
“There is some history there that suggests that if it’s not enumerated, they’re not protected.”
Eric Johnston, an attorney who had planned to speak at a canceled public hearing for the bill, said the protection against discrimination related to accommodations including goods and services could have discriminated against members of religious groups that oppose homosexuality.
“If you are one of these bakers, florists, if you had a wedding chapel kind of thing, you would be required to perform same-sex weddings and activities which may be against your religious belief,” he said.
England’s bill is one of several similar pieces of legislation being considered late in the state’s legislative session.
State Rep. Patricia Todd, D-Birmingham, said employment discrimination exists and she’s glad lawmakers are beginning to address it.
A separate bill, sponsored by Mike Ball, R-Huntsville, cleared the House Judiciary Committee a day earlier. The legislation, while not explicitly mentioning sexual orientation or gender identity, would protect state employees from being fired for characteristics or traits unrelated to job performance.
Todd noted that because Alabama is a right-to-work state, employees can be fired for any reason and at any time unless they are part of a classified group protected by state anti-discrimination laws.
Todd, who is gay, said Ball’s bill might be too broad.
“I appreciate the sentiment of what he’s trying to do, but it is so broad that I can imagine that courts would have no way to rule whether anything was discriminatory or not,” she said. “It’s like what if you don’t shower often and you come to work? ... That’s why we have enumerated classes.”
May 28th, 2015
Senate-backed medical marijuana bill advancing in Louisiana House - BATON ROUGE, La. | Medical marijuana advocates have done this year what they failed to do in the past: push to the brink of final passage a bill that could finally make good on Louisiana’s 1991 medicinal pot law.
Though the law has been on the books for over 20 years, it was essentially meaningless because the state never developed a framework to get the drug to those suffering from cancer, glaucoma and a severe form of cerebral palsy.
A bill to do just that was approved without objection Wednesday by the House Health and Welfare Committee and could soon come up for a vote before the full House.
“It’s just adding clarity to the 1991 legislation,” said Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, sponsor of the measure, which has already passed the Senate. “When I convince (lawmakers) that they aren’t voting to legalize (marijuana) because it is legal, they are like ‘OK, give me the details and the facts.’”
As written, Mills’ proposal would have tight controls on the use and distribution of the drug. Only 10 pharmacies in the state could fill prescriptions. The Department of Agriculture and Forestry would oversee Louisiana’s sole cultivation facility and patients prescribed the drug would be closely monitored.
Another major provision specifies that the plant cannot be smoked. Patients could consume only refined forms of marijuana, such as oil.
The refinement process also changes the drug in another significant way: “You can’t get high on it,” said Mills, a pharmacist.
Last year Mills brought a similar bill, but it was defeated in committee after drawing opposition from law enforcement. That changed this year, after he worked with the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association to draft the bill. The Louisiana District Attorney Association remains opposed.
Pete Adams, executive director of the group, said passing the law would give pot proponents an opening. He predicted powerful business interests would push to liberalize Louisiana’s marijuana laws, like in Western states that have legalized recreational use.
May 28th, 2015
Area cheerleaders participate in UCA cheer camp - 29631
May 28th, 2015
Water slalom to highlight July 4th; athletes from 28 nations will be at Black Warrior River - Athletes from 28 countries will come to Tuscaloosa in July to take a spin on the Black Warrior River as part of the Fourth of July Celebration on the River.
Tuscaloosa will host its first Malibu Cup, a slalom that is part of the pro-circuit and one of the top waterski tournaments in the world.
The competition will start at 10 a.m. on July 4.
The nearly 350-yard course will run in front of the Tuscaloosa River Market where spectators can watch the competition that includes wakeboarding and side-by-side tricks. Spectators also can enjoy food vendors, a beer garden, kid’s activities, water-craft displays and water activity demonstrations.
Fans will have an opportunity to interact, take photos, ask questions and get autographs with the skiers, including the No. 1 female skier in the world.
Brandt Garrison, Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports Commission director of communications and public relations, said the event will offer family fun for the Fourth of July holiday while showcasing the river.
“We have this great body of water running through the city, and we want to highlight it,” Garrison said. “It brings our community out and lets them enjoy part of our city.”
She said the commission expects to draw between 200 to 250 people to Tuscaloosa in relation to the Malibu Cup, bringing in more than $665,000 in economic impact to the city.
“Our mission is economic impact. The more things like this we bring in... will continue to grow and move our city in the positive direction it’s already going in,” Garrison said.
In addition to the Malibu Cup, the farmer’s market at River Market will be open from 7 a.m. to noon on July 4. There also will be activities near the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater later in the day.
The Tuscaloosa Park and Recreation Authority KidZone will be in the parking lot to the east of the amphitheater under the Lurleen Wallace bridge. It will be open from 5:30 to 8 p.m., and the Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra will hold a concert at the amphitheater before a fireworks display.
All activities are free, and boats are welcome on the river.
Parking will be available at Another Broken Egg Cafe parking lot, the Tuscaloosa Public Library and the Tuscaloosa Transportation Museum. Shuttles will run from the downtown intermodal facility, located on the corner of 23rd Avenue and Seventh Street, to the amphitheater beginning at noon.
May 28th, 2015
Senators continue work on budget; General Fund plan sent to Senate - MONTGOMERY | It’s coming down to the final days of the legislative session as state senators look for ways to patch a hole in the general fund budget and avoid the deep cuts to state services that Gov. Robert Bentley has warned about for months.
Senate Finance and Taxation Committee Chairman Arthur Orr said $150 million or so in revenue bills have a chance of passing before lawmakers adjourn next month. Orr said those bills would “mitigate” cuts to state agencies for the coming fiscal year as lawmakers continue to look for a long-term solution.
“It will not solve the problem, but it will improve it,” Orr said. “Usually there is always a rabbit that we pull out of the hat about this time. There are no rabbits,” Orr said.
The plan some see as the last hope hinges on lawmakers agreeing to transfer a portion of state use tax collections that now go to the state’s $5.9 billion education budget, and give the money to the more cash-strapped $1.6 billion general fund. A series of smaller bills would offset losses to the education budget, Orr said. The transfer, which senators will vote on Thursday, would provide an additional $106 million, enough to level fund the state’s Medicaid program for another year.
Another bill would allow state boards to seek fee increases every five years to reflect Consumer Price Index changes.
The state of the General Fund remains a major unknown with just five meeting days remaining in the 2015 legislative session. The Senate budget committee voted for a $1.6 billion spending plan Wednesday, sending the plan to the full Senate for a vote. If any of the revenue bills win final approval, lawmakers could bring a substitute budget to the floor in the closing days of the session.
The House earlier this month approved a stripped down general fund that slashed $200 million from state agencies after GOP lawmakers could not agree on tax increases.
Bentley sought $541 million in new taxes this session but found little support among lawmakers.
House Republicans briefly supported a much smaller $151 million revenue plan— anchored by a 25-cents-per-pack cigarette tax increase — but the plan never got a floor vote. House leaders said support fell apart after senators signaled they would not approve the tax increases.
The House-passed budget would make 5 percent funding cuts to the Alabama Medicaid Agency, the Department of Mental Health, the Department of Human Resources and state prisons. Other general fund agencies would see deeper cuts equal to more than 9 percent of their total state funding.
The heads of major state agencies on Wednesday gave committee members grim descriptions of what those cuts would mean.
“Irresponsible is an understatement for this proposed budget,” Alabama Law Enforcement Secretary Spencer Collier said.
State Health Officer Don Williamson said the state’s Medicaid program would have to eliminate all services not mandated by the federal government, such as outpatient dialysis. Provider reimbursements would also be cut significantly, he said
Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn said the cuts will force the department to close smaller facilities, bringing several thousand inmates back into overcrowded prisons already struggling with high rates of violence.
Dunn said the crowding will jump from 185 percent of designed capacity to 230 percent.
“That’s rolling out the red carpet for the federal government to take over our system,” said Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster.
May 28th, 2015
Tuscaloosa County man shot in dispute over camper trailer - One Tuscaloosa County man was shot after exchanging gunfire with another man during a dispute about a camper trailer.
Investigators say that Charles Howard, 61, was shot in the shoulder after instigating an argument with another man he saw towing the trailer down Plowman Road at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
“Mr. Howard saw the camper trailer being towed down Plowman Drive and turned his vehicle around blocking the roadway with his vehicle causing a wreck,” said Lt. Gary Hood, Tuscaloosa County Metro Homicide Unit commander. “An altercation took place with both subjects firing guns at each other.”
The other man, 64, was not injured or charged. Howard was treated for his injury and charged with attempted murder and shooting into an occupied vehicle. He has been released from the Tuscaloosa County Jail on $55,000 bond.
May 28th, 2015
Over 200 state grants awarded to pre-K programs in Alabama schools - More than 200 state grants to fund prekindergarten programs at Alabama schools were awarded by the state on Tuesday.
Tuscaloosa City elementary schools getting grants are: Alberta, $150,000; Central, $195,000; Northington, $195,000.
Tuscaloosa County elementary schools getting grants are: Brookwood, $150,000; Lake View, $150,000; Myrtlewood, $150,000; Taylorville, $142,000; Vance, $150,000, Walker, $120,000.
First Presbyterian Preschoool in Tuscaloosa County will receive a $186,923 grant.
Elsewhere in West Alabama, preschool grants will go to: Bibb County Schools, $360,000; Lamar County Schools, $240,000; Demopolis City Schools, $120,000; Marengo County Schools, $120,000; Pickens County Community Head Start, $180,000; and University of West Alabama Campus School in Livingston $119,991.
May 28th, 2015
Tuscaloosa a familiar city for Dave Matthews Band - The Tuscaloosa Amphitheater season got off to a hot start with its first announcement, back in January, of the Dave Matthews Band.
The Dave Matthews Band will play two full sets at Wednesday’s 7 p.m. Amp show, a format the Charlottesville, Va.-born band revived in 2014.
Based on relentless touring and growing acclaim for its studio records — including Grammy nominations beginning with “Crash,” which started its string of chart-topping albums all the way up to 2012’s No. 1 “Away from the World” — DMB blew up in the mid-’90s. The 1997 release “Live at Red Rocks 8.15.95,” the second of a string of 15 live discs, brought them international attention.
Featuring an eclectic sound of Matthews’ often-acoustic rhythm guitar up front, topped by violin, horns and varied syncopation, DMB is considered a democratic group despite its lead singer and chief songwriter’s name up front, letting each of its instrumentalists shine, especially in extended live formats.
DMB continues to sell out annual tours, despite radio success not quite in proportion to the popularity of its albums, but with hit songs such as “Crash Into Me,” “What Would You Say,” “Don’t Drink the Water,” “Stay (Wasting Time),” “Crush,” “I Did It,” “The Space Between,” “Where Are You Going” and “American Baby.” Unlike some groups heaped into the loose “jam band” category, DMB scores with studio discs as well as live recordings, with some 38 million records and DVDs sold worldwide.
Before all that, though, the band toured and tightened and built a fan base, determined to write its own destiny, rather than trust a major label to sell an unusual sound.
As rising bands often did back then, when clubs such as Ivory Tusk, the Chukker and the Varsity existed to book original music, DMB stopped often in Tuscaloosa. The group played Ivory Tusk about a half-dozen times in 1993, its breakthrough touring year, and ’94, and also during that span played the Phi Delta Theta house on the University of Alabama campus, and UA’s now-defunct Riverside Amphitheater.
In previous interviews, DMB members have noted one Ivory Tusk show or another as being pivotal in the band’s growth, as it grew in recognition outside of Virginia home fields.
Terry Hobson co-owned and ran bars including Ivory Tusk and the original the Booth on the Strip, along with Birmingham’s Louie Louie’s, for 18 years.
“My job was to figure out what people would like,” he said.
Original bands could start at the Booth, and after building a crowd, move up to the Tusk, then Louie Louie’s. Among the groups Ivory Tusk booked were not only DMB, but Widespread Panic, Sonic Youth, John Mayer, Phish, Blues Traveler, Will and the Bushmen, Moe and many more.
Hobson remembered well the time he first heard DMB. One of the bar’s regulars brought him a disc, having driven it down from Virginia, apparently a copy of the DMB’s first album, “Remember Two Things,” somewhat before its release in late 1993.
“Things were done differently back in those days, before the Internet,” Hobson said. “Even a CD was unusual; we were used to getting cassette tapes more than CDs.”
He put it on, listened to a few songs.
“What is that, a lead violin? It’s cool,” he said.
So he went into the back room and picked up a rotary-dial phone to call the number his patron had shared. Matthews answered, but seemed reluctant to confess his identity.
“Even though he wasn’t yet big everywhere, he was big up in that area, quite successful for a while. He goes ‘Naw man, if you’re looking for Dave Matthews, you need to call such-and-such.’ I said ‘Dave, this is Terry Hobson from the Ivory Tusk.’ And he said ‘I was just fixing to call you, because I sent a guy down there to give you a CD.’ ”
Matthews found a booking slot seven weeks away, but Hobson pushed for something sooner. The band named a slot just two weeks out, though it would land on an early weekday, usually dead time for live music. DMB often played Ivory Tusk on a Monday or a Tuesday thereafter, making Tuscaloosa its stop between larger cities; the band’s draw was such that it would pack the club even on those nights.
“I knew at that point, we hadn’t talked about money,” Hobson said. “So he started to hem and haw around. And then he said, ‘Well, I’d be willing to play for free. I’m so convinced that I’ve got the sound, that I’d be willing to play for free the first time.’
“I told him ‘Dave, I want you to put down the phone, take two full steps away, take one hand, and slap yourself. Then take your other hand and slap yourself again.’ ”
Hobson heard noises.
“I don’t know to this day if he was actually hitting himself, or just smacking a magazine against a wall. But he sits back down and says, ‘You’re right, I feel a whole lot better.’ I told him ‘Dave, you’re the best band I’ve ever heard.’ ”
Hobson set a $15 cover charge, which would have been about triple the usual rate, at a club he said could bring in 1,200. He also promised Matthews a significant raise for subsequent gigs.
“From that time on, I told him, it’ll be $25 until you get too big to play here,” Hobson said. Between constant promotion of the band in-house and the growing buzz, the Ivory Tusk DMB shows sold out, and continued to do so into mid-’94, when DMB indeed got too big for the venue.
“The band had gotten very popular in Virginia, then begun to catch on in Atlanta, and we were the next place,” Hobson said. “Then he just exploded. The last time we had him at $25, he was already playing, like, major stadiums, where the cheapest seat would be $50.”
Live DMB was everything he’d expected, and the response was immediate and electric. Other bars on The Strip would benefit, because the club, about midway on The Strip, would fill to overflowing, so folks would go hit somewhere else. And then people flowing out of the DMB shows would gush.
“The guy is a genius. He’s very smart. He sat down and told me his entire plan for how he was going to do it. He wasn’t going to sign a deal right off; he was going to get big first. He said ‘I’ve already got 200 or 300 songs,’ ” Hobson said.
“He’s also a master at being able to motivate the other band members. He may not have been the most talented guy in the band, but he was the smartest man in the band. He talked to the violin player in colors: ‘I want you to do a little violet in this spot right here.’ They all loved him; whatever he said was what they did.”
Hobson got out of the club business in 1998 and is now pursuing a more physically rewarding job as a yoga instructor, noting that bar years are like dog years, aging one far beyond the norm.
Still, he can’t regret those good times.
“It was fun to be a part of somebody getting big like that,” he said.
DMB will likely play some new songs from its upcoming studio album Wednesday; on recent concert setlists, the new songs “Be Yourself” and “Black and Blue Bird” tuck in among a couple dozen favorites such as “Crush,” “What Would You Say” and “Ants Marching.”
May 27th, 2015
Demardus Tarver Sentenced - A Bibb County man has been sentenced to 25 years in prison in connection with a 2012 string of armed robberies in Tuscaloosa, according to U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance.
U.S. District Judge L. Scott Coogler sentenced Demardus Tarver, 21, to just more than four years in prison on the robbery charges, which will be followed by nearly 21 years in prison on weapons charges.
Tarver pleaded guilty to four robberies:
Family Variety, 911 East Crescent Ridge Road, on Oct. 21, 2012
Buddy's Food Mart, 14439 Alabama Highway 69, on Oct. 21, 2012
Fast Stop, 2601 Fosters Ferry Road, on Nov. 14, 2012
Raceway Service Station, 940 Veterans Memorial Parkway, on Nov. 14, 2012.
Tarver fired a gun during the Fast Stop robbery and brandished a gun during the Raceway Service Station robbery, according to court records.
May 27th, 2015
Former Fayette water board manager indicted - Theft and ethics charges against Fayette's former water board manager claim that he spent tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars on women's clothing and strip clubs.
Scotty Moore, 58, was the longtime manager of the Water Works Board of the city of Fayette when he resigned in March 2014. Indictments filed against Moore in Fayette County Circuit Court on Wednesday accuse him of using a city-issued credit card to make the purchases. He is charged with 34 felony criminal counts, including 16 ethics violations of using his position for personal gain, 10 charges of first-degree theft by deception, seven charges of second-degree theft by deception and one of fraudulent use of a credit card. A special called session of the grand jury issued the indictments after meeting on May 8.
According to the court documents, Moore used the credit card at the Penthouse Club and Rick's Cabaret on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, Teasers in Dothan and The Furnace in Birmingham. He is also accused of using the card to buy women's lingerie, jackets, sweaters and high-heeled boots.
Moore turned himself in to police early Wednesday and has been released on $180,000 bond. He did not immediately return a voicemail left just after noon Wednesday.
Chris McCool, 24th Judicial Circuit district attorney, said that the arrest Wednesday was the result of a months-long investigation.
"I was initially contacted by the water board and asked to look into allegations of improper charges on a credit card issued to Moore for official use as manager of the water board," McCool said.
Keith Cox, now the Pickens County Circuit Clerk, conducted the investigation when he was still chief investigator for the District Attorney's Office. He worked with the Alabama Computer Forensics Lab in Hoover and with U.S. Secret Service agents who helped issue the grand jury subpoenas for the water board's computer files.
"Without their aid, we could not have obtained those files," McCool said. "The water board is obviously a going concern, and we needed these agents to image the hard drives rather than physically take the computers, which would have rendered the water board office unable to conduct business. With their help, we were able simply to image the computers, and leave the water board systems in place so that there would be no interruption of service to customers."
The water board assisted in the investigation, McCool said.
If convicted, Moore could face up to 10 years in prison for each of the 34 felony charges.
Reach Stephanie Taylor at stephanie.taylor@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0210.
May 27th, 2015
Dispute ends in gunfire - One man was shot after exchanging gunfire with another man during a dispute about a camper trailer.
Investigators say that Charles Howard, 61, was shot in the shoulder after instigating an argument with another man he saw towing the trailer down Plowman Road at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
“Mr. Howard saw the camper trailer being towed down Plowman Drive and turned his vehicle around blocking the roadway with his vehicle causing a wreck,” said Lt. Gary Hood, Tuscaloosa County Metro Homicide Unit commander. “An altercation took place with both subjects firing guns at each other.”
The other man, 64, was not injured or charged. Howard was treated for his injury and charged with attempted murder and shooting into an occupied vehicle. He has been released from the Tuscaloosa County Jail on $55,000 bond.
May 27th, 2015
City schools' facility plan realigns elementary, middle schools while retaining three high schools - After nearly a year of work, five steering committee meetings and three community meetings, education facility planning firm DeJong-Richter presented the Tuscaloosa City Board of Education Tuesday with a preliminary facilities analysis and demographic study.
The board didn’t have much to say about most aspects of the plan, but there was one part of it that they, and most of the people who attended the meeting, were highly critical of — the dissolution of University Place elementary and middle schools.
“When we made the decision to rebuild University Place (after it was destroyed by the April 27, 2011 tornado), we wanted to make sure we had a school that would pull students back into the system from private schools. We had to have something that was unique,” said school board member Marvin Lucas.
“When we rebuild the building, they were working on Leader in Me, working on STEAM (project-based learning that focuses on science, technology, engineering, arts and math), coming up with a program that would attract kids to our system and truly be diversified. ...If we can take that — what they learned — and share that with the other schools that are about to start the STEAM program, they’ll be miles ahead. Why get rid of this school? Don’t get rid of the school that started it.”
University Place elementary and middle schools are choice schools open to students from throughout the city. The schools are currently operating with a student enrollment of about 69 percent and 45 percent capacity, respectively.
DeJong-Richter’s proposal calls for putting STEAM programs in every elementary school and to relocating students at University Place Elementary to the Alberta School of Performing Arts, Central Elementary and Rock Quarry Elementary. University Place Middle’s students would be relocated to a newly constructed middle school that combines University Place Middle’s students with students from Rock Quarry Middle and portions of students from Westlawn and Eastwood Middle schools.
University Place’s building, which was rebuilt after the 2011 tornado, would be used to house the system’s magnet school program first through eighth grades.
Tracy Richter, CEO of DeJong-Richter, said his firm’s proposal calls for closing University Place so students from there can return to their neighborhood schools. That would give the school system a better feeder pattern to schools beyond the elementary level.
“I’m not sure there’s no need for a University Place,” Richter said. “Because obviously, like the board members said, we can put 700-800 (elementary) kids in that building. It’s just a feeder pattern issue. It’s not a matter of the building or the school operating.
“If the issue is keeping the building open, then let’s keep the building open. But if the issue is keeping the building open and its feeder pattern, that’s almost impossible because it overloads the middle school delivery in the capacity of those middle schools.”
The proposal also calls for reducing the system to three middle schools and eight elementary schools. The plan keeps three high schools. Currently, the system has seven middle schools and 13 elementary schools.
An extra gym and science lab would be added to each of the three high schools.
Central High would serve as the location for the magnet school program grades 9-12. A 9-12 performing arts program would be added to Paul W. Bryant High.
Changes to the middle schools include adding athletic fields at each; closing Tuscaloosa Magnet Middle, Rock Quarry Middle and University Place Middle and forming a new middle school from its students; turning Southview Middle to Southview Elementary; and relocating the middle school students to Eastwood Middle.
Changes at elementary level include adding art and music spaces to each school; closing Skyland Elementary, Oakdale Elementary and Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary schools and turning then into a pre-k centers.
Skyland’s students would be relocated to Southview Elementary. Oakdale and Martin Luther King Jr.’s students would be relocated to a newly constructed elementary school.
Arcadia Elementary and Northington Elementary would also be closed and the students from those schools would attend a newly constructed elementary school.
The Alberta School of Performing Arts would be expanded to a capacity of 580 students. Its current capacity is 360 students.
All other elementary schools would receive renovations and playground upgrades.
Representatives with DeJong-Richter said the total cost would be between $100 million and $150 million.
Reach Jamon Smith at jamon.smith@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0204.
May 27th, 2015
New National Water Center at University of Alabama is first to study threats to and from water - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officially opened its National Water Center on Tuesday at the University of Alabama.
The center is the first facility in the United States dedicated to improving the nation’s ability to manage threats to its water resources and mitigate the impact such threats pose to communities.
The 65,000-square-foot “green” building houses a water resources forecasting operations center with situation rooms, an applied water resources research and development center, a geo-intelligence laboratory, a systems proving ground and an airborne snow and soil moisture observation analysis facility to monitor, measure, plan and manage water situations.
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said the facility will bring together multiple government agencies that deal with water. Those agencies include NOAA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Geological Survey and the Army Corps of Engineers. It establishes one place for information about the implications of water from floods to droughts, she said.
“We’re bringing together information from disparate resources, and we’re bringing together computing powers so we can improve the quality of data that we provide — the collection, the analysis and dissemination of information,” Pritzker said. “This center will enable better data sharing. It’s going to be a leading predictor for water, and it’s also going to be a place where we can develop and test new products and services to be used both by government, by the private sector and by individuals.”
UA Interim Provost Joe Benson said the computer-based, state-of-the-art facility, which cost about $25 million and would employ about 270 people at full capacity, puts Tuscaloosa at the focal point of water research.
He said it is at the cutting edge of science in terms of forecasting extreme runoff, flooding, droughts and other types of water problems and will create an integrated community among academia, government agencies and the public and private sectors.
“One of the problems that we’ve had in the past is different agencies are looking at problems from different perspectives. There’s not as much sharing of information as we would like,” Benson said. “This facility will hopefully bring everyone together into one building, and it will allow a variety of different perspectives to be integrated into one analysis.”
Pritzker said the facility will a capability of predicting extreme water events up to 30 days in advance, which will allow communities to prepare and will help manage the economic impact.
She said the United States experienced eight weather and climate disasters in 2014, each with losses of more than $1 billion.
With equipment in the new facility like high granularity mapping, “you’re going to be able to look house by house against water flows and be able to understand what is the implication of the local water situation,” she said.
The facility will allow multiple agencies to collaborate and figure out what areas will be impacted, what resources are in the area, how agriculture will be impacted and how to manage better in the future so fewer people and assets are at risk, Pritzker said.
U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said the center will be an asset to the nation, giving water intelligence the attention it needs.
“Water is going to be the big issue of this century all over the world but especially in this country,” Shelby said. This center will bring “a lot of good things for this country, for business, for jobs (and) for mankind.”
May 27th, 2015
Universtiy of Alabama Early College to offer high school students college credits - UA to offer class to help high school students earn college credit.
The University of Alabama Early College is offering a class in June to help prepare high school students take advantage of opportunities to earn college credit this fall under a new state policy.
UA Early College has scheduled a special Gateway class beginning June 16. The registration deadline is June 2.
Under a new statewide policy allowing high school students to simultaneously obtain high school and college credit, the Tuscaloosa City Board of Education has partnered with the Early College to allow rising 10th-grade students to earn dual credit by taking online courses, according to a release from UA. Juniors and seniors may take courses either online or on the UA campus.
For more information regarding UA Early College, contact Claire Harris at 1-877-823-8759 or earlycollege@ua.edu, or go to www.uaearlycollege.ua.edu.
May 27th, 2015
Alabama man accused of murder doesn't testify - Two witnesses told police that they heard Henry Patrick McGhee say “I hope you die” after a fatal fist fight last month.
McGhee, 24, is accused of murder in the death of Kevin Lynn Patrick, 44, near the McKenzie Court housing complex on April 19. An investigator testified at a court hearing Tuesday that evidence indicates the victim had given McGhee $20 to buy alcohol, who ended up pocketing the money.
Several witnesses told police they witnessed the fight, saying that they saw McGhee choking Patrick. One woman heard Patrick make what she described as a snoring sound, Tuscaloosa County Metro Homicide Unit Investigator Jonathan Bryant testified, before McGhee kicked him in the head and said ‘B****, I hope you die.’ ”
No weapons were involved in the fight. A forensic examiner ruled the death a homicide, noting Patrick suffered a brain hemorrhage consistent with a blow to the head.
McGhee’s injuries when arrested that night included scuffs on his knees and chin and bruised knuckles, Bryant said.
McGhee was vocal during the preliminary hearing held in Tuscaloosa County District Court, saying that he wanted to testify on his own behalf. He said that the witnesses who reported him saying “I hope you die” were lying. District Judge Jim Guin warned McGhee that anything he said could be used against him as the case proceeds.
“I can’t think of any advantage of you testifying at this hearing today, and I’ve been here 28 years,” Guin said.
The judge allowed McGhee to meet with his family members to discuss whether he should testify. His mother kneeled in the courtroom and prayed while his aunt said “Thank you Jesus” when he told the judge, “I’m just going to hold off.”
McGhee was released from prison in March after serving two years for shooting at a Tuscaloosa officer.
Reach Stephanie Taylor at stephanie.taylor@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0210.
May 27th, 2015
Owner's family puts Bama Belle riverboat on sale on Craigslist - The family of Bama Belle owner Thad Garner has listed the riverboat for sale on craigslist.com.
But Thad Garner, who purchased the 90-foot, 54-ton paddle-wheel riverboat more than two years ago, said his son, Walter Garner, is seeking buyers without his consent and has listed the boat for less than he would accept.
Walter Garner said the family is trying to recoup the $35,000 that his father invested more than two years ago in the non-functioning vessel, which used to offer customers cruises along the Black Warrior River.
“The thing has potential with the right person,” said Walter Garner, 53.
Walter Garner said he is hopeful that, with a firm offer, the family can persuade his father to give up the boat.
As of Tuesday, the boat listing had been posted for three days and Walter Garner said he’s already gotten interest.
Thad Garner, 78, said the boat is now able to move under its own power and he is awaiting a U.S. Coast Guard inspection in order to obtain the proper insurance.
If he is able to clear the inspection and acquire the insurance, Thad Garner said he will look to hire out the operation of the boat. If he is unable to do that, then he would consider selling or leasing the boat.
“I never intended to operate the boat myself, personally,” Thad Garner said. “I would sell the boat to someone who is going to operate it here.”
Thad Garner said he now has a firm offer of $80,000 for the boat as long as the Coast Guard clears it for operation.
“There are other alternatives, but hopefully we’re going leave it here,” Thad Garner said. “What I did was try to save it from an inglorious death.”
The Bama Belle has been a subject of concern for the Tuscaloosa City Council for more than a year. Although Thad Garner has made assurances that the boat was close to seaworthy since March 2014, he’s offered a different reason for its failure to do so almost every month since.
The City Council ordered the boat moved from the Black Warrior River dock that is owned by the city of Tuscaloosa just east of the Riverfront Village development along Jack Warner Parkway.
Thad Garner said that, last week, the repairs to the boat’s motors and paddle wheels were complete enough to move the Bama Belle away from the city’s dock. The boat is now tied to trees in a nearby slough believed to be owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Walter Garner said that he and his sister were spurred to attempt to sell the boat after its recent removal from the city-owned dock.
“Any number of things could cause that thing to get hung up on the bank and sink or come loose and float down the river,” Walter Garner said. “That’s what really scared me.”
The Bama Belle has been part of Tuscaloosa’s river scene since 2001, but it stopped offering cruises in June 2012 after holes developed in the chill coolers on the bottom of the boat, causing an engine to fail. It’s not been publicly operational since.
The Bama Belle was built in 1969 in the Mississippi River town of Dubuque, Iowa.
May 27th, 2015
Tuscaloosa City Council favors extending tax rebates to hotel developer - Tuscaloosa city leaders agreed in principle Tuesday to extend up to $1.7 million in tax rebates to a proposed hotel on the Black Warrior River.
The rebates, which would come from lodging and property taxes, are expected to reach $1.56 million in 10 years, but Atlanta-based Chance Partners could qualify for up to $1.7 million if the planned Hotel Indigo exceeds revenue projections.
These rebates would be based on a share of the lodging and property taxes with the city on a 55 percent to 45 percent split, with Tuscaloosa receiving the larger percentage.
Consultants for the project estimate that during its first 10 years of operation, the hotel will produce almost $5 million in local taxes — $3.79 million in lodging taxes and an additional $1.18 million in property taxes.
However, none of the taxes shared by the city and the developer would come from those already designated for schools, officials said.
Chance Partners requested the incentives to help it secure funding for the boutique Hotel Indigo, which is expected to cost between $17 million and $20 million to build.
Tuscaloosa’s Hotel Indigo, which Chance Partners founder Judd Bobilin said would be the first in Alabama, is expected to have 91 rooms in five floors, a rooftop lounge with an outdoor veranda, and a restaurant and market on the first floor for the general public and hotel guests.
The hotel will be built at the end of Greensboro Avenue on the northwest corner of the tract where Riverfront Village, a $42 million multi-use development with student apartments that was completed last year.
Under city policies, any incentives approved by the council cannot have any up-front payment or investment in infrastructure by the city. Rather, any economic incentive must be tied to the performance of the development.
With the agreement approved Tuesday by the City Council’s finance committee, Chance Partners’ incentives could fall below the $1.56 million mark if it fails to meet expectations during the next 10 years.
Based on tax-generation projections provided by the developer, up to $1.7 million in rebates could be reached eight or nine years after the hotel opens.
City estimates place this figure at closer to $1.56 million.
Bobilin said the project is expected to bring 190 full-time jobs during its 12- to 14-month construction phase and an additional 44 permanent full-time jobs once the hotel opens.
The Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama supported the incentives on Tuesday and in March when Bobilin first made his request for the assistance.
Then, the developer told the council that costs to build a Hotel Indigo are higher than other upper-midscale to midscale hotels, such as a Home2 Suites by Hilton or a Wingate by Wyndham, because hotels under the Indigo brand are built with characteristics individual to the community in which it operates.
Hotel Indigos also are designed to comply with Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design standards for energy efficiency water conservation, meaning the cost can exceed that of other hotels by up to 50 percent, Bobilin said.
As part of the economic incentive agreement, the development must rely on local material suppliers. Hotel Indigo’s policy is to use local artists and designers for decorations, such as murals and public space displays.
Each of Indigo’s 57 existing hotels — 37 of which are in the United States — has its own unique set of characteristics that are influenced by the area in which it is built, according to the company.
For Tuscaloosa’s hotel, Bobilin said consultants were hired to look into the history of the site and its surrounding five block radius. Its findings are expected to be represented by the inclusion of such elements as Pure Process Ice Cream, a Tuscaloosa-based ice cream manufacturer and shop that operated along the Black Warrior River from 1926 until the mid-1990s, and the entryway will evoke a riverboat paddle wheel.
Reach Jason Morton at jason.morton@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0200.
May 27th, 2015
Tuscaloosa City Council Action for May 26 - The Tuscaloosa City Council took the following action at its Tuesday night meeting:
Authorized utility account credits; total: $1,729.67.
Authorized sole source purchase of new digital asset management system for Tuscaloosa Police Department from Kustom Signal; total: $21,340.
Set June 9 as the date for public hearing to fix the cost of demolishing the building at 2315 Second St. E.; total: $3,417.58 plus court costs.
Set June 9 as the date for public hearing to fix the cost of demolishing the building at 300 25th Ave. E.; total: $4,889.15 plus court costs.
Authorized an adjustment and refund of excess deposit to the Balcony Tuscaloosa for installation of water mains and services for the Balcony Apartments fire line; total: $1,468.23.
Authorized an adjustment and refund of excess deposit to K&A Builders Inc. for installation of water mains and services for Holt Elementary School safe room fire line; total: $3,149.47.
Authorized an adjustment and refund of excess deposit to Central Fire Protection Inc. for installation of water mains and services for Eastern Square Apartments fire line; total: $1,217.78.
Authorized an adjustment and refund of excess deposit to Amason Associates Inc. for installation of water mains and services for UA Houser Hall fire line; total: $705.05.
Approved request and agreement for water service to Mercedes-Benz hazardous materials facility fire line; total: $35,441.58.
Granted permit for Amason & Associates Inc. to construct water lines for the Mercedes-Benz hazardous materials facility fire line.
Approved request and agreement for water service to UA Partlow Campus transportation infrastructure; total: $43,565.25.
Granted permit for University of Alabama to construct water lines for UA Partlow campus transportation infrastructure.
Authorized payment to Alaca Averette in settlement of claim; total: $250.
Approved request and agreement for water service to Mercedes-Benz west entrance Phase II relocation; total: $391,983.69.
Granted permit for Mercedes-Benz U. S. International to construct water lines for Mercedes-Benz west entrance Phase II relocation.
Approved request and agreement for water service to Myers Flat water main extension; total: $17,821.38.
Granted permit for Myers Flats LLC to construct water lines for Myers Flats water main extension.
Adopted Zoning Amendment No. 1323 to amend the text of the Zoning Ordinance, Section 24-125(c) and 24-125(f) pertaining to parking in front yards.
Tabled for 30 days a decision to adopt Zoning Amendment No. 1324 to amend the text of the Zoning Ordinance pertaining to Chapter 24, Article I, Section 24-5, Definitions.
Approved ABC application of Texas Roadhouse Holdings LLC for restaurant retail liquor and on premises retail beer licenses at Texas Roadhouse No. 458, 1363 McFarland Blvd. E., 35404.
Approved ABC application of Tuscaloosa Hotel Partners I LLC for on and off-premises retail beer and on- and off-premises retail table wine licenses at Springhill Suites Tuscaloosa, 4020 Greensboro Ave., 35405.
Voted to withdraw an item revoking the business license of CBK Inc. d/b/a Kennedy's located at 2326 Fourth St.
Authorized the execution of grant applications for the Tiger VII Grant Program; total: $36,133,007.97.
Authorized the mayor to execute an agreement with ADECA in regard to CDBG-DR funds.
Authorized the finance director to draw drafts for the Prince Avenue Improvements Project easement acquisitions; total: $22,871.
Authorized application to the Bureau of Justice Assistance for the fiscal year 2015 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG XII); total: $33,721 — city, $22,481 — county.
Amended resolution establishing a budget for the Public Works Capital Fund.
Rescinded previous resolution approving request and agreement for water service to Myers Flats water main extension.
Adopted the 27th amendment to the Fiscal 2013 Water and Sewer Reserve for Future Improvement Fund.
Authorized acquisition by condemnation proceedings for temporary construction easements and permanent easements or right of way for utilities and access for the Sanitary Sewer Lift Station 21 Interceptor Upper and Lower Portion Improvements Project.
Tabled for one week a vote to authorize the mayor to execute an exclusive dealings agreement with Allied Realty & Development Inc. regarding the proposed development of the old Fire Station One and former Police Department headquarters site.
Authorized the mayor to execute a municipal agency funding contract with Tuscaloosa County Park and Recreation Authority for Sokol Park sanitary sewer improvements; total: not to exceed $275,000.
Authorized a contract with JWC Environmental and declaring a bid law exception pursuant to Alabama Code § 41-16-51(b)(7); total: $17,928.
Authorized and approved the submission of an application to the state of Alabama for a grant under the Emergency Solutions Grant Program for The Salvation Army, Turning Point and Catholic Social Services of West Alabama for homeless prevention and costs to operate emergency shelters; total: $200,000.
Authorized a contract with Midwest Employers Casualty Co. for renewal of the city's excess worker's compensation insurance coverage.
Authorized a contract with Lunsford Air Consulting Inc. for pilot training services; total: $7,500.
Introduced Zoning Amendment No. 1322 to amend the text of the Zoning Ordinance under Article XVII, Downtown/Riverfront (D/R) Overlay District pertaining to permitted, conditional and prohibited uses, Section 24-229(a).
Set June 23 as the day for public hearing to consider adoption of Zoning Amendment No. 1322.
Authorized the payment of bills; total: $26,024.94
May 27th, 2015
Downtown tavern owner surrenders license to city - After a rash of violent incidents brought Kennedy’s Bar and Grill under the scrutiny of City Hall, the owner of the Temerson Square establishment voluntarily surrendered his business license to the Tuscaloosa City Council on Tuesday.
Gary Kennedy, owner of the bar, submitted a prepared statement to the City Council as part of giving up his license.
Read by his attorney, Daniel F. Pruet of Tuscaloosa, the statement described a number of measures that Kennedy took to try to keep the bar in compliance and free from complaints.
“Though I do not agree with all of the charges that have been levied against Kennedy’s Bar, I do not want to needlessly expend the resources that would be required of me and the city of Tuscaloosa in order to defend myself in an appropriate manner,” the statement said. “Likewise, I accept full responsibility for the things that have occurred inside my bar and I understand the city’s position as to the allegation that have been made elsewhere.”
Kennedy said in the statement that he prohibited smoking in the bar after someone complained of smelling marijuana near the business and has been closing 30 minutes earlier than required by statute as “a proactive step toward reducing the potential for fights between patrons of the downtown bars.”
An undescribed incident last year prompted Kennedy to implement a dress code for the bar, he said, and this helped to reduce problems resulting from its patrons.
Each of these moves cost Kennedy money, the statement said.
“Though I wish that some of the steps that we took had been more successful and that we had had a more meaningful connection with the city,” the statement said, “I acknowledge that there have been problems arise as a result of the actions of a small portion of the people who came to Kennedy’s Bar over the last five years.
“Clearly, some of the steps that we took worked while others did not, but I am proud of the efforts we made.”
Kennedy’s Bar came under scrutiny after a fight led to the shooting of a bystander early on April 23. That incident prompted Mayor Walt Maddox to tell the City Council via email that it was time to close the business for the public’s safety.
“It is time to take action or the next incident resulting from Kennedy’s will likely be a homicide,” Maddox wrote. “In the last several months, the activity at Kennedy’s has led to two shootings, fire code violations, a police officer being surrounded and nearly assaulted and countless complaints regarding vandalism, vagrancy and lewd behavior.”
The mayor told the City Council that these incidents had led to thousands of taxpayer dollars being spent on overtime to ensure the safety of those frequenting Temerson Square. After the shooting, Maddox said he had received numerous calls from nearby business owners who were tired of the repeated offenses.
Maddox requested that the Tuscaloosa Police Department begin the process of revoking the bar’s business license. It culminated with the City Council scheduling a Tuesday vote to pull the license. That vote was avoided when Kennedy surrendered the license.
Afterward, the mayor said he was satisfied with the outcome.
“In this matter, it was just about public safety,” Maddox said. “When people come to downtown businesses, we want them to feel safe inside the business and outside the business.
“With Kennedy’s, that threshold had been lost.”
Reach Jason Morton at jason.morton@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0200.
May 27th, 2015
Ala. state troopers look into 7 traffic fatalities - Alabama state troopers investigated seven traffic fatalities during the Memorial Day weekend, up from three traffic fatalities in the same period in 2014.
The crashes included one pedestrian, two motorcycles and an all-terrain vehicle. One crash occurred in Tuscaloosa County while the others occurred in Talladega, Mobile, Lee, Clay, Russell and Wilcox counties.
The two motorcyclists killed were wearing helmets, but the ATV driver was not. None of the three people killed while traveling in vehicles were using a seat belt.
The official Memorial Day holiday travel period began at 6 p.m. May 22 and ended at midnight Monday.
May 26th, 2015
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker makes push for trade pact - A member of President Barack Obama’s Cabinet was in Tuscaloosa Tuesday to discuss expanding opportunities for Alabama businesses here and abroad.
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker spoke to a group of Tuscaloosa business leaders at a roundtable discussion held by U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell at the West Alabama Chamber of Commerce.
Pritzker promoted Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, a 12-nation trade agreement his administration says will boost U.S. economic growth and jobs by increasing exports to those fast-growing countries.
The U.S. Senate approved the trade agreement last week, but the measure still awaits action in the House of Representatives.
There are 400 Alabama countries that export goods worldwide, Pritzker said, 81 percent which are small- and medium-sized businesses.
Those companies employ about 95,000 people and exported around $19.5 billion in goods last year. Companies that export pay their workers an average 18 percent more than companies that don’t, she said.
“A high-standard trade agreement like the Trans-Pacific
Partnership is really important for Alabama businesses to be able to have access on a level playing field to markets in the Asia-Pacific regions,” Pritzker said.
The region is expected to go from 570 million consumers to 3.2 billion between now and 2030, she said.
“The world has never seen that kind of change in market demand,” she said. “Fortunately, we all carry computers around in our pockets now, which allows businesses access to those markets.”
Pritzker also discussed resources Alabama businesses can draw on to access capital and form private-public partnerships.
She discussed the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Administration. Sewell said that the department offers many opportunities and resources for the Black Belt.
She said Tuscaloosa is a good example of a city that used federal money to improve life for citizens, she said.
“Tuscaloosa is a great example of how to leverage federal dollars that came in through the tornado, not only to rebuild but to rethink a bigger version of how to move this city forward into the long-term,” Sewell said.
Reach Stephanie Taylor at stephanie.taylor at stephanie.taylor@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0210.
May 26th, 2015
Nick Saban wants fair system for cost of attendance - DESTIN, Fla. | After a few brief items of the sort of chatter you would expect at poolside, Nick Saban went straight for the big fish at the SEC meetings on Tuesday.
That isn't the 180-pound tarpon he boated on Monday, or his daughter's upcoming wedding. Instead, it is the current hot-button topic in recruiting that clearly rankles him the most: cost of attendance.
“You can't create a system that almost creates fraud,” Saban said.
The background on that issue is obvious. The NCAA now allows schools to pay a cost of attendance stipend, money that goes over and above the old “tuition, room, board and books” that players used to get. That isn't what bothers Saban, who notes that “we've always been for players getting all they can get.”
The problem is that not all schools calculate “cost of attendance” the same way, and there is thus a dollar disparity in the extra cash that players can get at different schools. It would be disingenuous not to point out that Auburn has a much higher “cost of attendance” calculation than Alabama's. Saban did not refer to that specifically, but it likely does nothing to improve his mood.
“Even the NFL has a salary cap,” Saban said. “We don't want to have any system that enhances fraudulent behavior for a competitive advantage. And there has to some sort of cap to create fairness.
“If you look at it from an academic standpoint, which is supposed to be the reason that we have universities and colleges, you would want to keep the cost of attendance low.”
Saban said that he had not yet encountered much conversation about COA stipends from recruits, adding that Alabama doesn't use the COA as a selling point “although some people are doing it.”
Saban went on to fume about some other issues. Satellite camps, another recent hot topic, didn't fare much better than the COA did.
“We've got a lot of crazy rules,” he said. “We have a rule against a head coach going on the road to evaluate, but we are going to let someone have a satellite camp away from their campus and take their entire staff,” he said. “How does that make sense?”
Saban also made a reference to the SEC rule about graduate transfers who have had “trouble” at their previous school. That rule came into play with Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson, who wound up at Florida State rather than an SEC school.
“We (in the Power 5 conferences) need to get our rules in alignment,” he said. “Otherwise, we're going to be a farm system for the other leagues.”
Reach Cecil Hurt at cecil@tidesports.com or 205-722-0225.
May 26th, 2015
Emma Talley reflects on winning NCAA golf championship - Three-under was the number in her head, and standing on the tee box of the final hole, Emma Talley figured she needed a birdie to avoid a playoff.
At the time, Talley held sole possession of the lead at 2-under, but with a national championship within reach, instincts told her she needed to birdie the par-four ninth hole at Concession Golf Club in Brandenton, Fla.
The University of Alabama junior golfer played a beautiful fairway bunker shot to within six feet of the flag and calmly rolled in a birdie to polish off a bogey-free round and reach that 3-under number she had in her head, a score that won her the NCAA national championship by one stroke.
It was the first individual NCAA title in the program’s history.
Life is pretty surreal today for Talley.
“It’s a dream come true,” she said.
Prior to the NCAA Championships, Talley went to head coach Mic Potter and asked for help with fairway bunker shots. It proved a fortuitous teaching moment.
“When I saw my ball go into the bunker on the last hole and I knew I needed a birdie, my heart just fell to my feet,” Talley said. “I couldn’t believe it. You never know what kind of lie you’re going to get. The lip was in my way a little but not too bad.
“I actually asked Mic six days ago … I needed help getting out of the bunker on the fairway. We actually worked on it six days ago, two days before the tournament started. We worked on it, so I knew I had it in me. So I just walked up there and hit it within six feet.”
Potter said the instruction he provided just reinforced what Talley was already doing.
“I just told her not to change what she was doing,” Potters said. “Understand that you put the ball a little bit back (in your stance) and the ball’s going to start a little further right, so you just have to aim a bit more to the left.
“She hit one of the best shots I’ve ever seen in my career.”
It was a calm walk from the fairway to the green after the penultimate stroke, but before she could line up her putt, severe weather caused a lightning delay.
Instead of rolling in the title-clinching putt, she was forced into the clubhouse to think about the final putt that awaited her.
Rules specify that she wasn’t allowed to take any practice putts unless the delay lasted more than an hour. Just less than an hour after the delay, Talley walked back to the ninth green and stood over one of the biggest putts of her young life.
“I sat in the clubhouse for about 45 minutes, and I had gotten calm while sitting there,” Talley said. “But when I walked back out there my nerves kicked in again. My past experiences helped me be prepared for that moment.
“I needed that putt.”
Potter knew the moment wasn’t too big for a player of Talley’s experience.
“She closed out the Curtis Cup matches this last year for the United States to win,” Potter said. “She’s made two cuts at the U.S. Open. She’s been low amateur at the British (Open). She’s won the U.S. Amateur in 2013, so she’s been under that kind of pressure.
“She felt like she needed another birdie to win. I think she kind of instinctively knew 2-under would probably get her in a playoff, so she wanted to make another birdie.”
Talley drained the putt, and then went back to the clubhouse for another long wait as the remaining players finished their respective rounds.
“Me and my teammates and my family and my coaches were right in front of the TV watching the whole thing,” she said. “I joked around with my family telling them I know how they feel now because I was sick to my stomach. I thought I was going to puke watching it. It was terrible. That was the worst part of the whole day was sitting there watching them finish.”
It was a big day for Talley and for her best friend. After winning the national championship, Talley got word that her Tuscaloosa roommate, tennis player Maya Jansen, won her second consecutive doubles national championship with partner Erin Routliffe.
“It gave me chills for sure,” Talley said. “I think it’s so incredible.
“I guess it’s the milk we’re drinking.”
Reach Aaron Suttles at aaron.suttles@tuscaloosanews.com or at 205-722-0229.
May 26th, 2015
Eclectic man dies in crash near Coaling - An Eclectic man died in a single-vehicle accident Sunday night in Tuscaloosa County, according to state troopers.
Guy Erskine Moseley Jr., 51, was killed when he was ejected from the 2007 Arctic Cat 400 all-terrain vehicle he was driving.
Moseley was pronounced dead at the scene. The crash occurred at 8:30 p.m. Sunday on Chapel Park Court, three miles north west of Coaling.
Troopers are continuing to investigate the cause of the accident.
May 25th, 2015
Red Cross to hold first 'Giving Day' June 2 - The American Red Cross will launch its first Giving Day on June 2.
Red Cross Giving Day is a 24-hour national fundraising campaign supporting the work of the Red Cross in communities across the country every day.
“Life can change in one day, leaving someone with nothing — without a home, without their belongings, without hope,” said Beakie Powell, executive director of the West Alabama Red Cross chapter. “For so many of these people, the American Red Cross is the answer. We need the public’s support.”
The theme of Giving Day is “All In One Day.”
“On June 2nd, we have 24 hours to turn compassion into action,” Powell said. “On this one day, please donate to the Red Cross so we can be there to help people in need.”
For more information, go online to www.redcross.org/givingday.
May 25th, 2015
Fifth annual 'Hush Puppy' silent auction to be held - The fifth annual “Hush Puppy” silent auction to benefit the Humane Society of West Alabama will be held from 5-8 p.m. Saturday at Green Bar, 2209 Fourth St. in Temerson Square in downtown Tuscaloosa.
Tickets are $15 per person and will be available at the door. The event will feature a “Yappy Hour” cash bar, hors d’oeuvres, entertainment by Brandon Woolley and an appearance by Dr. Tim Hammond, a local veterinarian.
The auction will include a wide selection of items. There will be a “buy it now” table with a variety of items attendees can purchase without bidding and immediately take home. Cash or checks only, credit cards not accepted.
The auction will end at 7:30 p.m.
May 25th, 2015
Rick Bragg, Harper Lee will be among Alabama Writers' Forum's inductees - The first class of inductees to the Alabama Writers Hall of Fame contains household names — including one who lives here — others that will ring bells, and a few that might send you scrambling through the library or Wikipedia for information.
The 12 selected range back to the early years of the state, and include poets, satirists, essayists, journalists and novelists. Some of the living writers will attend the inaugural Alabama Writers Hall of Fame event June 8 at the Bryant Conference Center, and others of the dozen will have family or other representatives receive their medals.
It's a project of the Alabama Writers' Forum, whose offices are in Montgomery, and the Alabama Center for the Book, the state affiliate of the Library of Congress Center for the Book, housed at the Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library on the University of Alabama campus.
“We have been working together for nearly three years on some smaller collaborations,” said Jeanie Thompson, executive director of the Alabama Writers' Forum, “but all along we've wanted to have a real major project.”
With Lou Pitschmann, dean of libraries at UA and director of the Alabama Center for the Book, as well as both groups' boards, they pondered: “What can we do for Alabama writers that will be a serious step up?”
Research on other states' halls of fame showed some start historically, beginning with early years, and others work only in contemporary writers. Some writers wind up in multiple states, having been born one place but having done the bulk of their work elsewhere.
The Alabama Writers Hall of Fame decided to span the gamut. After compiling a database of potentials, it was decided to induct an initial group of 12, then perhaps every other year, induct smaller classes, with writers who could have been among the first group. So for this first edition, some clear choices, such as Truman Capote, or some of the more popular contemporary novelists, such as Fannie Flagg or Mark Childress, aren't included.
The initial inductees are:
n Johnson Jones Hooper (1815-1862)
n Augusta Jane Evans Wilson (1835-1909)
n Helen Keller (1880-1968)
n Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960)
n William March (1894-1954)
n Albert Murray (1916-2013)
n Helen Norris Bell (1916-2013)
n Andrew Glaze (born in 1920)
n Harper Lee (born in 1926)
n Sonia Sanchez (born in 1934)
n Sena Jeter Naslund (born in 1942)
n Rick Bragg (born in 1959)
“We won't bring in such a big class next time. We wanted a really sound foundation, people who were all, without a doubt, among the best of their time,” Thompson said.
Bragg, the Pulitzer-winning journalist and memoirist, who teaches at UA, has said he's excited to be included, and will attend, as will Sonia Sanchez, an internationally known poet and playwright, a frequent guest on the Tavis Smiley show, and a major figure in the black arts movement. Lee is not expected to attend at present, due to declining health.
The ceremony at the Bryant Conference Center will include an hourlong reception, followed by a seated dinner. Tina Turley, executive director of Theatre Tuscaloosa, is working with local actors to prepare dramatic readings of each writer's work, as part of the introductions.
Turley had collaborated with Thompson before on one of Theatre Tuscaloosa's Page to Stage performances, using some of Thompson's poems about Helen Keller.
“I adore writers,” Turley said, so when Thompson told her about the Alabama Writers Hall of Fame ceremony, she contacted some of the area's prominent performers, including Gary Wise, Jeff Wilson, Drew Baker, Lisa Waldrop and Kate Gates. Edmond Williams, professor emeritus of UA's Department of Theatre and Dance, will emcee.
“I thought Ed was the perfect person,” Turley said. “He's got the great voice, and he's read everything; he's a real lover of literature.
“Some of it is just me as a director going 'Whose face and voice do I see and hear when I read this?' I knew Jeff could pull off that Simon Suggs (a satirical figure created by Hooper) ... and Jeff's doing Atticus (from 'To Kill a Mockingbird') was sort of a given.
“There's a real art to this kind of reading, to not try to overshadow the words by performing them. It's harder than you think it is.”
After that will come the medal presentation, to the writers themselves, or their representatives. There's no physical location yet for the Alabama Writers Hall of Fame, though that is in long-range plans, probably somewhere on the UA campus.
“But that won't be for a year or so,” Thompson said. “In the meantime, we'll take the Hall of Fame out to the people, with some traveling educational exhibits, to libraries, art centers and maybe schools around the state.”
The Alabama Writers Forum has a space on its site devoted the project, at www.writersforum.org/hall-
“From my personal standpoint, having worked with the forum since 1993, I consider this the apex of what I've tried to do for Alabama writers,” Thompson said, “raising their status nationally, and even internationally.”
Tickets have been moving well, Thompson said, but will remain on sale through Friday . Individual seats are $125, and sponsored tables, seating 10, are $1,500.
Those interested in sponsoring an inductee's table should call Thompson at 334-354-0881. To order by phone using a credit card, call 348-5543.
May 25th, 2015
Tuscaloosa city, county schools prepare for Summer Feeding Program - Starting June 1 and continuing through July, the Tuscaloosa County School System and the Tuscaloosa City Schools will offer free food twice a day weekly to anyone 18 and younger as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Summer Feeding Program.
“The purpose is to feed our children throughout the summertime so when they come back to school in August, they’ll be ready to learn,” said Donette Worthy, director of child nutrition for the county schools. “There are a lot of studies that show that students who don’t receive adequate nutrition during the summer don’t do as well when they come back to school during August.
“This program allows children who do not attend the county school system to eat for free as well to help the county as a whole provide adequate food for their children. It’s for any child 18 years or under. It doesn’t matter if they live in the county or attend school here. As long as they’re 18 and under, even if they are 1 year old. It opens up a lot of windows for people to eat.”
Worthy said breakfast and lunch will be served at 15 different schools in the county from June 1 to July 24. Two sites — the Sprayberry Center and Flatwoods Elementary — are only for students and are closed to the public. But the times, days and locations of the county schools that are open to the public are:
- Vance Elementary School: Breakfast 7:30 a.m.-8:30 a.m.; lunch 11 a.m.-noon at 18202 Highway 11 N.
-Cottondale Elementary School: Breakfast 7:15 a.m.-8:30 a.m.; lunch 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. at 2301 Cottondale Lane.
-Holt Elementary School: Serving only in July — breakfast 7:15 a.m.-8:30 a.m.; lunch 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. at 1001 Crescent Ridge Road NE.
-Matthews Elementary: School serving only in July — breakfast 7:15 a.m.-8:30 a.m.; lunch 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. at 1225 Rice Mine Road.
-Taylorville Primary School: breakfast 7:15 a.m.-8:30 a.m.; lunch 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. at 350 Bobby Miller Parkway.
-Brookwood Elementary School: breakfast 7:15 a.m.-8:30 a.m.; lunch 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. at 16049 Alabama Highway 216.
-Maxwell Elementary School: Breakfast 7:15 a.m.-8:30 a.m.; lunch 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. at 11370 Monticello Drive in Duncanville.
-Echols Middle School: Breakfast 7:15 a.m.-8:30 a.m.; lunch 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at 11370 Monticello Drive in Northport.
-Davis-Emerson Middle School: Breakfast 7:15 a.m.-8:30 a.m.; lunch 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at 1535 Prude Mill Road in Cottondale.
-Brookwood High School: breakfast 7:15 a.m.-8:30 a.m.; lunch 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at 12250 George Richmond Parkway.
-Holt High School: Breakfast 7:15 a.m.-8:30 a.m.; lunch 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at 3801 Alabama Ave. NE.
-Sipsey Valley High School: Breakfast 7:15 a.m.-8:30 a.m.; lunch 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at 15815 Romulus Road in Buhl.

-Holt Elementary School: Serving only in June — breakfast 7:15 a.m.-8:30 a.m.; lunch 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. at 1001 Crescent Ridge Road NE.
-Walker Elementary School: Breakfast 7:15 a.m.-8:30 a.m.; lunch 11 a.m.-noon at 13051 Northside Road in Northport.
-Matthews Elementary: School serving only in June — breakfast 7:15 a.m.-8:30 a.m.; lunch 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. at 1225 Rice Mine Road in Northport.
-Lake View Elementary School: Breakfast 7:15 a.m.-8:30 a.m.; lunch 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. at 21610 Youngblood Parkway in McCalla.
-Tuscaloosa County High School: Breakfast 7:15 a.m.-8:30 a.m.; lunch 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at 12500 Wildcat Drive in Northport.
The Tuscaloosa City Schools has four schools participating in the Summer Feeding Program from June 1-26 and one school participating from June 1 to July 31.
The four schools serving breakfast from 7-8 a.m. and lunch 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, are:
-Arcadia Elementary School, 3740 Arcadia Drive.
-Northington Elementary School, 1300 21st St. E.
-Central High School, 905 15th St.
-Paul W. Bryant High School, 6315 Mary Harmon Bryant Drive in Cottondale.
Carlton Robertson, director of child nutrition for the Tuscaloosa City Schools, said people older than 18 can eat too, but they have to pay $1.50 for breakfast and $4 for lunch.
“We’re just excited to offer this program during the summer time,” Robertson said. “It’s an opportunity for parents to take a break from cooking for a minute and give us an opportunity to serve their kids.”
Reach Jamon Smith at jamon.smith@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0204
May 25th, 2015
Day of decoration: Veterans are honored during program on Memorial Day - The collective gunfire ringing through the rain on Monday sent Bobby Rize back in time. Back to when the bullets were whizzing past his head, not shot in the air at the pull of the finger of a member of the color guard. Back to when the people around him weren't Memorial Day program attendees but fellow soldiers.
But the droning of a trumpet pushing taps through its horn brought him back to the present where about 300 people — half veterans, half supporters — crowded under the pavilion at Snow Hinton Park for the annual Memorial Day Program on Monday, hosted by the Veterans Memorial Park Association and the Tuscaloosa Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
Rize of Northport served as an E-5 buck sergeant in the Vietnam War from 1968 to 1970. He received seven medals for his service, including a Purple Heart on Aug. 12, 1969, for injuring his right hand when a grenade launcher kicked back while he was trying to take out an enemy.
He said Memorial Day is a day for reflection on his service and remembering those who fought beside him.
“On this day, I just remember back to Vietnam, the people that's in my mind that I worked with over there. You don't ever forget that — the things you did over there,” Rize said.
John O'Malley, the keynote speaker for Monday's program and a Vietnam War veteran who served in the Marine Corps from 1961-65, said Memorial Day shouldn't only be about remembering those who died in service to their country, but it should also be a day to honor those who came home.
He said U.S. military forces have fought 76 conflicts since 1754.
“Memorial Day, we all know is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the military,” O'Malley said. “I believe many veterans who are alive today have died by other means.”
After fighting in a war, many veterans come home changed. The person they were before is dead and gone, O'Malley said.
He said sometimes the hardest part about fighting a war is coming home.
When they return, service men and women's relationships with family and friends suffer, he said. Sometimes they live with limbs, eyesight and even their minds gone, or they live with the invisible wound of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Their lifelong dreams are crushed, he said.
Rize said he has post-
traumatic stress disorder. He said he has flashbacks and nightmares, and certain sounds, like a “Huey” helicopter or gunfire, make him remember Vietnam.
O'Malley said living veterans like Rize should be honored too.
“Memorial Day — to me it's not just a thing about those that gave their life and their service,” he said. “There are still a lot of us out there that are giving our lives for things that happened while they were serving. I think we should
remember them as well.”
He said remembering once or twice a year on Veterans Day and Memorial Day is not enough. They should be
remembered every day, he said.
“The best memorial lies not in granite, but firmly embedded in the memories, never to fade, but to be passed on from one generation to the next for eternity,” O'Malley said.
May 25th, 2015
BP receiving credit, praise for Gulf Coast tourism rise - ORANGE BEACH | With the Memorial Day holiday here, fallout from the oil spill that left Gulf Coast beaches smeared with gooey tar balls and scared away visitors in 2010 is being credited, oddly, with something no one imagined back then: An increase in tourism in the region.
Five years after the BP disaster, the petroleum giant that was vilified during heated town hall meetings for killing a way of life is now being praised by some along the coast for spending more than $230 million to help lure visitors back to an area that some feared would die because of the spill.
Questions remain about the long-term environmental impacts of the BP disaster, with a report released just last week finding a definite link between the spill and a record die-off of the bottlenose dolphins that tourists love to spot along the northern Gulf Coast. Pockets of oil still blot the sea floor and spots along Louisiana’s coast.
Meanwhile, many are still wrangling with BP over spill-related claims. Attorneys for businesses and individuals claiming damages from the spill announced a $211 million settlement last week with Transocean Ltd., owner of the failed Deepwater Horizon drilling rig.
Yet, at the same time, parking lots are full outside the same coastal hotels and condominium towers that struggled for business and slashed prices while crude was pouring into the gulf off Louisiana’s coast in 2010.
Visitors bob in surf where oil once washed in, and some restaurants have 90-minute waits for dinner on the weekend. Tourist business has doubled in Alabama’s largest beach towns since before the spill, officials say, and Pensacola Beach, Fla., is so clogged with visitors that traffic is a primary problem.
Many attribute the change in large part to the millions of dollars that BP spent on tourism grants and advertising that promoted the Gulf Coast nationwide to people who previously didn’t even realize that Alabama and Mississippi had coastlines.
“I’ve traveled as recently as the spring to California and there were people there who were saying, ‘Hey, I saw those commercials about Alabama,’ ” said coastal condominium developer Bill Brett. “I really think those commercials helped.”
Brett is an owner of Brett/Robinson Real Estate, where he said business is up about 30 percent since the year before the spill. The company has developed 19 buildings with more than 3,200 condo units on the Alabama coast, including one that was finished with a $37 million settlement from BP after the spill.
The tourism surge isn’t happening in a vacuum: Many U.S. attractions have seen big increases during the same period as the economy recovered following the 2008 financial crisis and Americans returned to the road.
The theme parks of Orlando, Fla., helped draw a record 62 million visitors to the city last year, and the U.S. Travel Association expects Americans to spend about 5 percent more this Memorial Day than last.
But back in 2010, there were questions and fears over whether the tourist economy of the northern Gulf Coast would ever recover from the spill. Residents feared that images of oil-soaked birds and blackened beaches would permanently change travel patterns and leave towns like Gulf Shores and Destin, Fla., as the forgotten coast.
Ted Scarritt, who offers tourist cruises in Orange Beach aboard his 53-foot catamaran “Wild Hearts,” remembers crying and praying while the spill was happening. Scarritt, who also owns a beach service company, purchased the sailboat only months before the spill and had to keep it out of the oil-marred waters that summer.
Today all that seems like a bad, distant dream as he watches clear gulf waters slide past the hull during an afternoon of sailing off Alabama’s coast.
“We’re just amazingly thankful,” said Scarritt. “I think our area has recovered profoundly. You can look at the water right now, you can look at the beach. We’re fine.”
Picking up shells in the surf at Pensacola Beach, Autumn Ventling of Nashville, Tenn., didn’t realize the spill ever occurred; she was just 18 at the time. Today, she said the white-sand beach and emerald-colored water appear beautiful, just like so many other beaches on the Gulf Coast.
“I can’t tell anything happened,” Ventling, 23, said.
Part of that is because of a massive cleanup program BP conducted on beaches after the spill. For months, big machines with metal sifters dug deep to remove remaining mats of tar from the sand, which was then spread back on the seashore.
While the cleanup work was going on, BP was also shelling out cash to revive tourism.
BP spokesman Jason Ryan said the company provided $179 million in tourism promotion grants to the gulf states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi, and it aired commercials nationally touting the region as recently as early 2013.
But under an agreement with plaintiff’s attorney who sued over the spill, BP provided another $57 million for private groups and government to promote tourism and seafood on the Gulf Coast.
The rebound has been a relief to people like Jeanne Dailey, owner of Newman-Dailey Vacation Rentals in Destin.
During the long summer of 2010, Dailey spent many nights fearing oil would wash ashore and kill the tourism business. The Destin area never got the heavy patches of oil that polluted other beaches, but the perception that the entire coast was coated in oil prompted hundreds of vacationers to cancel travel plans, she said.
BP’s ad campaign combined with sales incentives combined to lure people back to the area eventually led to a strong rebound, Dailey said. Five years later, her business is thriving and preparing to mark its 30th anniversary.
May 25th, 2015
Millions could lose health insurance if Supreme Court passes ruling - WASHINGTON | A Supreme Court ruling due in a few weeks could wipe out health insurance for millions of people covered by President Barack Obama’s health care law. But it’s Republicans — not White House officials — who have been talking about damage control.
A likely reason: Twenty-six of the 34 states that would be most affected by the ruling have Republican governors, and 22 of the 24 GOP Senate seats up in 2016 are in those states.
Obama’s law offers subsidized private insurance to people without access to it on the job. In the court case, opponents of the law argue that its literal wording allows the federal government to subsidize coverage only in states that set up their own health insurance markets.
Most states have not done so, because of the intense partisanship over “Obamacare” and in some cases because of technical problems.
Instead, they rely on the federal HealthCare.gov website.
If the court invalidates the subsidies in those states, an estimated
8 million people could lose coverage. The results would be “ugly,” said Sandy Praeger, a former Kansas
insurance commissioner.
“People who are reasonably healthy would just drop coverage,” she said. “Only the unhealthy would keep buying health care. It would really exacerbate the problem of the cost of health insurance.”
Praeger, a Republican who retired this year, called it “a classic death spiral,” using a term for market collapse.
Oral arguments on March 4 revealed a divided court. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy seemingly are key to the outcome, which won’t be known until late June.
If the subsidies survive, the Affordable Care Act will look like settled law to all but its most passionate opponents. But if they are overturned, the shock could carry into next year’s elections. Some potential consequences:
Bad timing
Around the time when the court announces its decision, insurers will be working to finalize premiums and plans for the coming year. Contracts with the government for 2016 health law coverage have to be signed by early fall. If the subsidies are overturned, insurers would have to tear up their projections about markets in more than half the states.
Populous states such as Texas, Florida, Ohio, Illinois, New Jersey, Georgia and Pennsylvania would be among those affected.
State lawmakers could mitigate the impact by setting up their own insurance markets or exchanges. But that can’t be done overnight.
States might try authorizing an exchange and then contracting with the federal government to run it. But that sort of end run might prompt lawsuits from opponents of the law.
In any case, most state legislatures will be out of session by the summer.
During arguments, Justice Samuel Alito raised the possibility that the court might be able to delay the effective date of its decision. Even a delay through the end of this year wouldn’t buy much time. Enrollment for 2016 health law plans is scheduled to start Nov. 1.
House of cards
The health law was designed as a balancing act. Insurers can’t turn people away because of health problems, but most healthy people are required to contribute to the insurance pool, and the government subsidizes most of the premium for low- to middle-income households.
Take away subsidies, and the other two parts become unstable.
The law’s requirement to carry insurance, never popular, would probably become the biggest target for repeal.
“My guess is there would be overwhelming political support for the elimination of the individual mandate if people can’t afford the premiums,” said former Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., who was an influential Obama adviser on health care.
Insurers would demand relief from provisions of the law intended to limit premium increases, or they might drop out of the insurance exchanges.
Sticker shock for self-pay customers
Many people still buy individual health care policies directly from an insurance company, bypassing the law’s markets and paying the full cost. They tend to be small-business owners, self-employed professionals and early retirees.
But even they would not escape the tumult in states losing subsidies.
The health law created one big insurance pool in each state, combining customers who purchase their policies directly with those who buy through the government market. If healthy people exit the insurance exchanges in droves, premiums for those buying directly would go up. Some may be unable to afford the higher cost.
“It would set off cascading events,” said Larry Levitt of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. “The individual market would empty out as premiums rise significantly.”
Republicans to the rescue?
Leading congressional Republicans have been walking a fine line, opposing the law in the Supreme Court case while pledging to protect consumers if their side wins.
If the subsidies are overturned, Republicans will first try blaming Obama and the Democrats for writing flawed legislation and then trying to paper over problems with regulations. Then they’ll move ahead with a patch to appease angry constituents.
A bill introduced by Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., would continue the subsidies for existing customers only on the federal exchange until Sept. 2017. That would open a window for states to act, but it would ultimately leave the problem for the next president and Congress. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is a co-sponsor.
Johnson’s bill would repeal the requirements for individuals to have insurance and for larger employers to offer coverage to workers.
Obama is unlikely to accept any of those changes.
“The president is likely to veto whatever we would propose, because we don’t have a willing partner,” said Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., leader of a GOP working group on health care.
May 25th, 2015
Rhode Island workers speak highly of paid family leave - PROVIDENCE, R.I. | As President Barack Obama pushes for a federal law to get paid leave to care for a new baby or an ailing relative, residents of one of the three states that already provide it sing its praises, hinting at the reception it could receive if rolled out nationally.
Rhode Island last year began allowing workers to take up to four weeks of paid leave. Many workers say they love the program, and employers say it hasn't hurt business as some had feared.
Anne Quirk, of Providence, planned to take three months of unpaid leave from her job as a speech language
pathologist after she gave birth. But she needed five months off after her doctor ordered her on bedrest on Mother's Day last year; then, her son was born prematurely in June.
“It was just such a stress reliever, knowing there was going to be money to help us pay the bills,” said Quirk, who gushed about the program to Obama when he visited Rhode Island in October. “I don't know what we would've done without it.”
About 5,000 people have taken paid family leave in Rhode Island so far. New Jersey and California are the other states that provide it, and several states are considering it. Washington state passed legislation but has put off implementing it.
The United States is the only industrialized nation that doesn't mandate paid leave for mothers of newborns. Obama wants Congress to allocate more than $2 billion to help states create paid family and medical leave programs, and he wants to provide federal workers with additional paid leave.
Rhode Island has a long-standing program that pays a portion of an employee's salary when he or she is unable to work because of illness or injury. The temporary caregiver insurance program was folded into that existing program to compensate workers who leave their jobs temporarily to care for a relative or bond with a new baby.
Workers pay for both through a payroll deduction. The benefit for family leave amounts to about 60 percent of an employee's regular paycheck, capped at $770 per week. Employees received a total of $6.3 million in payments in 2014.
Not every worker can get the benefit. Some haven't paid enough into the system, and public-sector employees don't pay for the insurance.
Obama said during the October visit that Rhode Island “has got the right idea” and that the nation needs to broaden its laws for family leave. Hillary Rodham Clinton, seeking to succeed Obama as president, advocated for it in a Mother's Day campaign video.
Democrats haven't been able to garner enough support for a bill in Congress to allow workers to earn up to seven days of paid sick leave to care for themselves or a sick relative, obtain preventive care or treat domestic violence. Opponents generally say requiring paid leave could burden businesses in lost hours and temporary hires or extra work needed to cover workers on leave.
Senate Republicans, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have proposed allowing voluntary arrangements where private-sector workers put the overtime they earn toward paid leave rather than extra compensation,
an alternative to the Democrats' approach.
In Rhode Island, Republican state Rep. Brian Newberry said he thinks the state's paid family leave bill is one of the worst pieces of legislation passed in his seven years in the House. It hurts businesses and imposes a tax on many people who never use it, said Newberry, the House minority leader. He said he thinks the insurance should be privatized.
Legislators are considering allowing employees covered by disability insurance through their employers to opt out of the state program.
“The disruption to a business when a key person leaves for that length of time is immense,” Newberry said. “There's nothing good about that bill.”
Republican state Sen. Christopher Scott Ottiano also opposed the bill out of fear it would be onerous for businesses, but he said his thinking is “evolving.” Ottiano, a doctor, said he has seen how the program has helped many of his patients.
Rhode Island businesses say it has barely made a ripple.
At the state's largest employer, the Lifespan health system, 500 employees have used it and it's been a “nonissue,” spokeswoman Gail Leach Carvelli said. The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training said it has heard no concerns from small businesses since the rollout.
General Dynamics Electric Boat said they've easily been able to accommodate the nine people who have taken leave. Other businesses said the same.
Karen Friend, a Providence professor, took four weeks off last year after her husband, who has early onset Alzheimer's disease, was hospitalized with tremors. She used the time to make sure he was medically stable and to hire help.
“I'm very proud of our state for being so advanced. It's unacceptable that we are fine with people, like me, around the country being unpaid caregivers,” Friend said. “It's a lot more expensive to have to bring people into institutions. This is not just a Rhode Island issue.”
And David Deary, a Providence physician assistant, didn't have to choose between going to work or caring for his 3-year-old son, Caleb, who was born with a rare brain malformation and died in December. His wife, Nicole, also took paid leave.
“For us to not have to worry about finances and just be able to focus completely on him,” Deary said, “it was enormous.”
May 25th, 2015
At least 3 missing in Florida waters, 1 off Mississippi - MIAMI (AP) — Rough surf churned up dangerous conditions for swimmers and complicated rescue efforts along Florida beaches over a holiday weekend in which at least four people went missing in boating and swimming incidents, authorities said.
A swimmer was missing Monday off Ormond Beach in Florida, emergency responders said. Also Monday, the Coast Guard searched for a 26-year-old woman missing from a boat returning to suburban Miami from Stiltsville, a cluster of homes built on pilings in South Florida’s Biscayne Bay.
Elsewhere, a search was called off for an 11-year-old boy who disappeared Saturday off Jacksonville. On Sunday, authorities used a personal watercraft to bring a woman to shore in the same area of Little Talbot Island, but a man remained missing in the water.
Beachgoers also pulled two men from the water Sunday on Daytona Beach Shores. Officials said one died, and the other remained hospitalized.
On the Gulf Coast, a 15-year-old Mississippi teenager was missing Monday after he disappeared during a weekend trip to a barrier island, said Coast Guard spokesman Carlos Vega.
Vega said Omar Gonzalez of Petal, Mississippi, and a 17-year-old friend were swept off the west end of Ship Island in the Mississippi Sound after arriving on a passenger ferry Sunday. He said the 17-year-old was found clinging to a buoy in a Gulfport, Mississippi, ship channel late Sunday and was taken to a hospital with minor injuries.
May 25th, 2015
Obama pays tribute to fallen service members at Arlington on Memorial Day - ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — President Barack Obama on Monday saluted Americans who died in battle, saying the country must “never stop trying to fully repay them” for their sacrifices. He noted it was the first Memorial Day in 14 years without U.S. forces engaged in a major ground war.
Speaking under sunny skies to some 5,000 people in an amphitheater on the hallowed grounds of Arlington National Cemetery, Obama said the graveyard is “more than a final resting place of heroes.”
“It is a reflection of America itself,” he said, citing racial and religious diversity in the backgrounds of the men and woman who paid the ultimate sacrifice to preserve “the ideals that bind us as one nation.”
His appearance is an annual rite for presidents at the cemetery nestled among verdant hills overlooking the Potomac River. It came months after the end of the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan, where the number of stationed troops has been reduced to about 10,000 from a peak of more than 100,000.
His tribute also took place against a backdrop of the increasingly complex U.S.-led effort to help Iraq defeat the Islamic State extremist group, which has been gaining momentum in recent weeks by capturing Ramadi there and taking Palmyra in neighboring Syria.
Obama made no mention of America’s participation with other nations in the effort to stop the Islamic State. His effort there has come under intensifying criticism since the fall of Ramadi with lawmakers calling for a bigger show of American force there, including ground troops.
Vice President Joe Biden spoke Monday with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and pledged full U.S. support for Iraqi efforts to reclaim territory from the Islamic State, including by speeding up the provision of U.S. training and equipment, the White House said.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter had said in a nationally broadcast interview aired Sunday that Iraqi forces “showed no will to fight” and fled as the Islamic State advanced on Ramadi. The White House said in a statement that Biden’s call “recognized the enormous sacrifice and bravery of Iraqi forces over the past 18 months in Ramadi and elsewhere.”
In his remarks at Arlington National Cemetery, Obama said most of the remaining troops should be removed from Afghanistan by the end of 2016.
He recognized the more than 2,200 “patriots” who sacrificed themselves in Afghanistan, including the final two to be killed before the U.S. combat mission ended late last year. He also recognized the first American killed during the “new mission” to train Afghan forces, an Army medic who died in April.
Earlier, troops stationed in that war-wracked country observed a moment of silence in honor of fallen comrades there.
The Arlington observance was among a host of Memorial Day events nationwide featuring parades, picnics and tributes.
Presaging Monday’s solemn event at Arlington was the roar of motorcycle engines throughout the nation’s capital on Sunday as thousands of bikers saluted veterans with Rolling Thunder’s “Ride for Freedom.” That was followed by a concert of patriotic music Sunday evening and Obama’s private breakfast Monday at the White House with representatives of veteran and military family service organizations. A Memorial Day parade also was held Monday in downtown Washington.
North Dakota marked the 25th anniversary of the groundbreaking for the state’s Veterans Cemetery south of Mandan. Gov. Jack Dalrymple directed all state agencies to fly the U.S. and state flags at half-staff, a practice put in place across the country. In South Dakota, Gov. Dennis Daugaard asked state residents to observe the president’s request that Americans unite in prayer at 11 a.m. local time and that a moment of silence be observed at 3 p.m. for the National Moment of Remembrance.
Obama traveled by motorcade in late morning from the White House to Arlington and began his outing by laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns. He bowed his head briefly and listened with others to the playing of “Taps.”
Obama said most Americans don’t understand the sacrifice made by the 1 percent of the population that serves in the all-volunteer Armed Forces. But when he meets with “Gold Star” families that have lost loved ones through military service, Obama said he hears “their pride through their tears.”
“I see that their hearts are still broken, and yet still full of love,” he said. “They do not ask for awards or honors. They do not ask for special treatment. They are unfailingly humble. In the face of unspeakable loss, they represent the best of who we are.”
Obama said the markers at Arlington signify the blessings many Americans enjoy.
“It’s a debt we can never fully repay,” he said, “but it is a debt we will never stop trying to fully repay.”
Introducing Obama, Carter, the defense secretary, said, “We, your fellow Americans, lack the words to describe what you feel today because try as we may, and try as we do, we can never fully know. But we do know what your sacrifice means to us.”
May 25th, 2015
Eclectic man killed in accident - An Eclectic man died in a single-vehicle accident Sunday night in Tuscaloosa County, according to state troopers.
Guy Erskine Moseley Jr., 51, was killed when he was ejected from the 2007 Arctic Cat 400 all-terrain vehicle he was driving.
Moseley was pronounced dead at the scene. The crash occurred at 8:30 p.m. Sunday on Chapel Park Court, three miles north west of Coaling.
Troopers are continuing to investigate the cause of the accident.
May 25th, 2015
Tuscaloosa City Council Agenda for May 26 - The Tuscaloosa City Council will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the council chambers on the second floor of City Hall, 2201 University Blvd. The following items will be on the agenda:
Authorizing utility account credits; total: $1,729.67.
Authorizing sole source purchase of new digital asset management system for Tuscaloosa Police Department from Kustom Signal; total: $21,340.
Setting June 9 as the date for public hearing to fix the cost of demolishing the building at 2315 Second St. E.; total: $3,417.58 plus court costs.
Setting June 9 as the date for public hearing to fix the cost of demolishing the building at 300 25th Ave. E.; total: $4,889.15 plus court costs.
Authorizing an adjustment and refund of excess deposit to the Balcony Tuscaloosa for installation of water mains and services for the Balcony Apartments fire line; total: $1,468.23.
Authorizing an adjustment and refund of excess deposit to K&A Builders Inc. for installation of water mains and services for Holt Elementary School safe room fire line; total: $3,149.47.
Authorizing an adjustment and refund of excess deposit to Central Fire Protection Inc. for installation of water mains and services for Eastern Square Apartments fire line; total: $1,217.78.
Authorizing an adjustment and refund of excess deposit to Amason Associates Inc. for installation of water mains and services for UA Houser Hall fire line; total: $705.05.
Approving request and agreement for water service to
Mercedes-Benz hazardous materials facility fire line; total: $35,441.58.
Granting permit for Amason & Associates Inc. to construct water lines for the Mercedes-Benz hazardous materials facility fire line.
Approving request and agreement for water service to UA Partlow Campus transportation infrastructure; total: $43,565.25.
Granting permit for the University of Alabama to construct water lines for UA Partlow campus transportation infrastructure.
Authorizing payment to Alaca Averette in settlement of claim; total: $250.
Approving request and agreement for water service to
Mercedes-Benz west entrance Phase II relocation; total: $391,983.69.
Granting permit for Mercedes-Benz U. S. International to construct water lines for Mercedes-Benz west entrance Phase II relocation.
Approving request and agreement for water service to Myers Flat water main extension; total: $17,821.38.
Granting permit for Myers Flats LLC to construct water lines for Myers Flats water main extension.
Adopting Zoning Amendment No. 1323 to amend the text of the Zoning Ordinance, Section 24-125(c) and 24-125(f) pertaining to parking in front yards.
Adopting Zoning Amendment No. 1324 to amend the text of the Zoning Ordinance pertaining to Chapter 24, Article I, Section 24-5, Definitions.
Approving ABC application of Texas Roadhouse Holdings LLC for restaurant retail liquor and on premises retail beer licenses at Texas Roadhouse No. 458, 1363 McFarland Blvd. E., 35404.
Approving ABC application of Tuscaloosa Hotel Partners I LLC for on and off-premises retail beer and on- and off-premises retail table wine licenses at Springhill Suites Tuscaloosa, 4020 Greensboro Ave., 35405.
Revoking the business license of CBK Inc. d/b/a Kennedy’s located at 2326 Fourth St.
Authorizing the execution of grant applications for the Tiger VII Grant Program; total: $36,133,007.97.
Authorizing the mayor to execute an agreement with ADECA in regard to CDBG-DR funds.
Authorizing the finance director to draw drafts for the Prince Avenue Improvements Project easement acquisitions; total: $22,871.
Authorizing application to the Bureau of Justice Assistance for the fiscal year 2015 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG XII); total: $33,721 — city, $22,481 — county.
Amending resolution establishing a budget for the Public Works Capital Fund.
Rescinding previous resolution approving request and agreement for water service to Myers Flats water main extension.
Adopting the 27th amendment to the Fiscal 2013 Water and Sewer Reserve for Future Improvement Fund.
Authorizing acquisition by condemnation proceedings for temporary construction easements and permanent easements or right of way for utilities and access for the Sanitary Sewer Lift Station 21 Interceptor Upper and Lower Portion Improvements Project.
Authorizing the mayor to execute an exclusive dealings agreement with Allied Realty & Development Inc. regarding the proposed development of the old Fire Station One and former Police Department headquarters site.
Authorizing the mayor to execute a municipal agency funding contract with Tuscaloosa County Park and Recreation Authority for Sokol Park sanitary sewer improvements; total: not to exceed $275,000.
Authorizing a contract with JWC Environmental and declaring a bid law exception pursuant to Ala. Code § 41-16-51(b)(7); total: $17,928.
Introducing Zoning Amendment No. 1322 to amend the text of the Zoning Ordinance under Article XVII, Downtown/Riverfront (D/R) Overlay District pertaining to permitted, conditional and prohibited uses, Section 24-229(a).
Setting June 23 as the day for public hearing to consider adoption of Zoning Amendment No. 1322.
Authorizing the payment of bills; total: $26,024.94
May 25th, 2015
Looking back for May 25-31 - Druid City Hospital officials were notified that the hospital had not been approved as being in full compliance with the Civil Rights Act. Officials were told that three situations must be corrected before the hospital could be approved. It must: 1.) Eliminate the two doors and two serving lines in the employee’s cafeteria. 2.) Use or eliminate courtesy titles (Mr. Mrs. or Miss) without regard to race, color, creed or national origin. 3.) Eliminate patterns of discrimination on wards and wings. The board voted unanimously to make the changes.
Dr. Samuel Burney Hay, Stillman College president since 1948, announced plans to retire.
Ralph Genito, former track and football star at the University of Kentucky, was named head track coach at the University of Alabama by athletic director Paul W. Bryant, and former Tide quarterback Mal Moore was appointed assistant football coach.
Deaths this week included Northport grocer Paul E. Robertson Sr. at 62, and meat packing executive Rebel L. Ziegler. Ziegler helped make Alabama a leading livestock and meat-packing state.
Vivian J. Malone was among the 1,726 students receiving degrees from the University of Alabama. Malone was the first black student to get a degree at the institution. She enrolled in June 1963 and it was over her enrollment, along with James A. Hood, that Gov. George Wallace made his famous stand “in the schoolhouse door.”
25 years ago this week
Tuscaloosa Mayor Al DuPont was elected the first vice president for the Alabama League of Municipalities. Traditionally, the first vice president is elected president the following year.
The Tuscaloosa City Council gave the Heritage Commission of Tuscaloosa County until June 21 to reach an agreement for restoration of the 1840s Van Hoose-Burns House with a private developer. If an agreement was not reached, the house at the corner of Lurleen Wallace Boulevard South and Eighth Street would be demolished.
Gov. Guy Hunt made an appearance in Echola, bringing $200,000 to assist in providing a water supply for the area.
U.S. Rep. Tom Bevill asked Tuscaloosa and Fayette officials to settle differences on the proposal to build a lake on North River. Tuscaloosa city officials were concerned that the Fayette lake might affect Lake Tuscaloosa’s water supply.
The 101-year-old Christian-Spiller Building in Northport was undergoing a major renovation; the goal was to offer retail space on the first floor and office space on the second floor.
UA’s senior left fielder Gabe Scott was named first-team All-SEC by the league’s 12 head coaches.
Mark Booth, Walt Maddox and Sammy Watson had announced their bids for mayor of Tuscaloosa.
The state school board increased Postsecondary Education Chancellor Roy Johnson’s annual compensation by about 13 percent and extended his contract by four years. Johnson is a Holt native.
After longer than expected delays, Capstone Village was expected to open in the fall.
Mamie Eldridge, 89, of Winfield became one of the oldest Alabamians to get the Alabama High School Equivalency Diploma when she walked across a stage at Bevill State Community College’s Fayette campus and finished her high school education.
Lee Hallman, Tuscaloosa County License Commissioner, retired after 23 years on the job.
The Rountree Family donated about 200 acres of property near Kentuck Park and the Tuscaloosa Regional Airport to the Friends of Historic Northport organization that the group hoped to turn into a public park and arboretum.
A new $30 million Brookwood High School moved closer to fruition when the Tuscaloosa County Board of Education selected Ellis Architects to design the school.
Deaths this week included Betsy Plank, 86, a UA graduate known as the “first lady of public relations,” and Glendon Sullivan, 81, who founded W.G. Sullivan Lumber Co. in Northport.
Faurecia, a French company that is one of the world’s largest automotive suppliers, purchased the former Visteon plant in the Airport Industrial Park in Tuscaloosa, where it planned to make automotive interior components for several auto companies.
Former UA head coach Gene Stallings was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.
Longtime president of the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama, Johnnie Aycock, announced his retirement.
Alabama tennis players Erin Routiffe and May Jansen won the NCAA doubles championship in Athens, Ga., the program’s first national title.
The Lewis and Faye Manderson Cancer Center at DCH Regional Medical Center received national certification for out-patient hematology/oncology programs.
Deaths this week included Sam Beatty, 91, a former Alabama Supreme Court Justice who grew up in Tuscaloosa.
The Crimson Tide Golf team won its second straight men’s golf title.
The old Tuscaloosa County Jail at 2803 Sixth Street was named as a “place in peril” on Alabama’s Most Endangered Sites list for 2014.
The Alabama softball team defeated Kentucky 2-0 and advanced to the semifinals in the Women’s College World Series.
May 25th, 2015
West Alabama Aero Modelers swoop in for June 6 event - Since 1976, members of the West Alabama Aero Modelers have been indulging their passion by building and flying radio-controlled model aircraft.
Frank Baity, the group's president, said that members of the West Alabama Aero Modelers come from all walks of life.
“There's a vast cross-section of professional people involved in our club,” Baity said. “We have university professors, doctors and lawyers ... to machinists and laborers.”
The group is a charter members of the Academy of Model Aeronautics and the International Miniature Aircraft Association. The West Alabama Aero Modelers use radio-controlled models as opposed to flying on a wire or free-flying models. Not all members build their own aircraft and some members purchase their models.
The group's schedule of events runs from March through October this year. The next event will be the Summer Fun Fly on June 6. A fun fly is a local event where participants can fly any type of radio controlled aircraft. Registrants will be entered into a potluck raffle.
All events are family-friendly, free and open to the public at their airfield on Munny Sokol Park at 6198 Watermelon Road. The airfield has public restrooms and a grandstand. They lease this property and an on-site clubhouse from the Parks and Recreation Association.
“It's a nice facility to just come and enjoy the outdoors,” Baity said.
The group wants to promote a family-friendly atmosphere. They do a candy drop at all their events, in which an aircraft releases candy during flight onto the runway for the kids to gather.
Brock Rester, vice president of the West Alabama Aero Modelers, says the 3-D Throwdown scheduled for June 26-27 will be a fun event for spectators.
“If you haven't seen planes do 3D, you need to do that,” Rester said. “That's a show of its own.”
This is a sanctioned event, meaning it is listed in the monthly Academy of Model Aeronautics publication that runs nationwide making it open to any academy member. Baity said people come from Birmingham and Montgomery to fly their model planes.
Apart from the meetings and events, the group spends many afternoons at the field flying. Baity says the weekends are the best time to come watch.
“If the weather's permitting, and it's pretty, there's someone out there just about every day,” Rester said.
To become a member of West Alabama Aero Modelers, there are a few requirements.
Prospective new West Alabama Aero Modelers members must first be a member of the Academy of Model Aeronautics. The academy offers promotion, education and advancement among other support to its members, but the most important thing the Academy of Model Aeronautics offers is insurance. A proof of insurance is required to fly at their field.
Experienced new members must showcase their abilities in a test flight before receiving their membership card. Current club members offer to instruct novice flyers for free. These student flyers must only operate an aircraft with an instructor until they become certified by their instructor after two or three lessons.
“If they need help, we got people to teach them. Whatever we need to do to get them flying, we do whatever we can to help them,” Rester said.
Membership is $144 dollars a year and students can join for half the cost. Members' spouses and their children under age 18 can join for $10 each. New members, defined as someone that hasn't been active in two years, who join after Jan. 1 will be allowed to pay a prorated fee.
“It's not very complicated or expensive,” Baity said. “A neophyte can be flying with a total expense of about $200 to $250.”
Rester has been a member for about four years. His duties as vice president have him make sure the field is maintained among other responsibilities like getting kids involved. He said he enjoys the teaching environment and seeing the kids pick it up. Rester said just last week they were able to certify a kid to fly on his own.
“People are more than happy to help beginners because everyone had to be helped in the beginning themselves,” Baity said.
Baity has been around since the group's beginning. As president, Baity officiates the meetings held at 2 p.m. on the third Saturday of every month, and he takes care of club business like paying rent to the Tuscaloosa County Park and Recreation Authority and taking up dues.
“I've been flying models all my life and when I moved to Tuscaloosa I joined the club,” Baity said. “I was in the full-sized aircraft business as a sales executive. That has nothing to do with the models; I was just always drawn to airplanes.”
Rester has fostered friendships through the club. Baity agrees that the comradery of the mixture of people with a common interest has been his favorite part of being in the group.
“That's all what it's about, having fun,” Rester said.
May 25th, 2015
The McAbee Pigfitters cook barbecue to raise money for various causes - A gust of steam and the scent of barbecued meat rise from the round-top, stainless steel smoker they call the coffin cooker where the poultry and pork rest in aluminum foil splotched with drops of a red-brown liquid secret.
The McAbee Pigfitters never get tired of that smell or the taste of the fruits of their labor.
The Pigfitters, a group of McAbee Construction employees, cook Boston butts, chicken and ribs about 20 times a year for employees on job sites, for customers on football game weekends and for charity events.
“It started back in 1984 as a tool to go out and feed men on our job sites as well as do charitable functions,” said Mike Copeland, a McAbee employee and a Pigfitter of 30 years.
Copeland said Harold McAbee, then vice president of the company, started the Pigfitters, naming the barbecuing team as such “as a cross between a pig cooker and a pipe fitter,” because pipe fitting is a big part of the business.
When McAbee died from brain cancer in 1997, Copeland said the team partnered with the DCH Foundation Help and Hope Patient Assistance Fund, a fund that helps patients of the Lewis and Faye Manderson Cancer Center, as a way to give back to a cause close to their hearts.
“Their dedication means that our physicians, patients and staff have resources in the fight against cancer that many other centers just can’t offer,” said Molly Ingram, vice president of development for the DCH Foundation.
The team was no stranger to cooking for a cause, providing food for organizations like the Boy Scouts and the Tuscaloosa Veterans Affairs Medical Center among others, but DCH BBQ & Blues became their largest charity event, in which money raised assists financially strapped patients with medications, household bills and transportation.
And the Pigfitters’ cooking rig, built in honor of McAbee, has been at the event every year since 1998, feeding up to and sometimes more than 1,000 people with about 350 pounds of Boston butts, 330 pounds of ribs, 200 pounds of chicken and 7 gallons of a homemade, spicy barbecue sauce to complement the sweetness of the pecan wood used to cook with.
Copeland said pecan wood instead of the common hickory, the homemade sauce, mustard rub on the ribs and dry rub on the Boston butt is what makes the Pigfitters barbecue different — different enough to win several competitions, including State Rib Champions in 1996, and be invited to the prestigious Memphis barbecuing competition nine times.
“I’ve got a trophy case full of trophies,” Copeland said. “We’ve got our own recipes and seasonings. It’s good slow cooking. I’m biased because it’s what we cook, and we think we cook the best.”
But he said the original Pigfitters, including James Pugh and Pugh’s brother, Eddie Pugh, are getting too old to compete.
These days, the Pigfitters simply enjoy the camaraderie among the volunteer employees and family and community members who join together on the cooking rig, spending long days and nights babysitting the barbecue so it turns out just right.
“We’ve had some good times and made a lot of friends,” said Pugh, a McAbee employee who has been on the team since 1984. “We’ve been a lot of places and stayed up a lot of nights. It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s a lot of fun.”
For the past seven or eight years, the original Pigfitters have been teaching McAbee employee Matt Channell their secrets in hopes of passing the reins.
“Me and Mike aren’t ready to quit yet, but we hope they keep it going,” Pugh said.
Channell said he volunteered once and was hooked. He said he likes to cook and sit around with the men, but the fact that he’s helping the community at the same time makes him feel even better.
He said that’s what the Pigfitters are about — helping the community and fostering relationships with employees.
“We’re never going to quit doing it. It’s a big part of McAbee,” Channell said. “I just need to start recruiting other people.”
May 25th, 2015
Alabama governor's mansion still in disrepair - GULF SHORES | With boarded-up windows, peeling paint and a rooftop tarp that flaps in the ocean breeze, the beachfront retreat at the end of Gulf Way Drive is a $1 million eyesore in paradise.
Odd as it may seem, this pricey dump is Alabama’s coastal governor’s mansion. And it has been falling apart for nearly two decades because of government inaction.
The state has been unwilling to repair the house since it was damaged by a hurricane 18 years ago. Officials also have refused to return the land to the developer who donated the property for a gubernatorial retreat in 1962.
So there sits the mansion, vacant and deteriorating a little more each day. Neighbor Ralph Gilges says he has asked the state to at least paint the house and repair the rusting fence, but nothing has happened yet.
“It is nuts,” Gilges said. “We would really like to see something done with it.”
Property caretaker Bill Ross, a retired Mobile shop supervisor, comes by three days a week to guard against vandalism, cut grass and make sure plywood covers the broken windows.
But Ross is 88, and the demands of caring for a nearly 7,500-square-foot, two-story beachfront house far outstrip his abilities.
“It’s just a shame that it’s in this condition,” Ross said.
Governors used the six-bedroom, four-bath house off and on until it Hurricane Danny damaged it in 1997. Since then, successors have been unwilling to take on the political risky task of renovating a mansion that most Alabamians couldn’t afford.
Property records show Republican Gov. Robert Bentley owns two homes within a couple miles of the mansion, so he has no personal need to fix the house. Plus, spending state money on mansion repairs as he supports tax increases to plug budget gaps could be tough politically.
Bentley has stopped by several times recently to look at the mansion, and he told The Associated Press that an architect is assessing what could be done with the property. No final decisions have been made, but Bentley said possibilities include using it for entertainment as an economic development tool.
“The reason we need to at least improve it is because of the neighborhood,” Bentley said. The mansion “is deteriorating, and it does belong to the state.”
Gilges, who discussed the mansion’s condition with Bentley after seeing him on the property, said the time might be right to get something done.
“There are things a second-term governor can do that a first-term governor can’t, and I told him that,” Gilges said. “It’s quite a dilemma.”
Built with private contributions, the house was constructed on land donated by Louisiana developer E. Lamar Little and his partners in 1962, when George C. Wallace was in his first of four terms as governor.
Workers began repairs after Hurricane Danny but they weren’t completed. New doors, windows and exterior columns remain stacked inside, unused and covered with dust.
Ross’ patch jobs have kept the interior dry and some of the lights still work, yet the kitchen, family room, den and bedrooms have all been gutted.
Little twice filed lawsuits to reclaim the property, but courts turned away both challenges, most recently in 2010.
“I was so disappointed in the state,” Little, 89, said in an interview from his home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “It looks like it has so much potential ... and no one picked it up and ran with it.”
The original donation agreement bars the state from selling the property. Records show the house is worth $403,200 despite its poor condition, and it is attached to two beachfront lots worth a total of $686,200.
Until someone figures out what to do with the property, Ross said he will come by, unlock the rusty gate and mow the lawn every few days. State records show he draws about $8,400 annually for his work.
“I’m just supposed to be here,” he said. “I do a little maintenance, and I love cutting grass.”
AP reporter Kim Chandler contributed from Montgomery.
May 25th, 2015
Doubles duo Maya Jansen, Erin Routliffe reach NCAA finals again - WACO, Texas | Reigning NCAA doubles champions, Alabama's Maya Jansen and Erin Routliffe will have the opportunity to defend their title, as the Crimson Tide's top duo advanced to its second straight national championship. Jansen and Routliffe punched their ticket to the championship round with a come-from-behind 5-7, 6-3, 6-0 victory over Stanford's Caroline Doyle and Ellen Tsay in Sunday's semifinals match. The Tide duo will square off against Cal's Klara Fabikova and Zsofi Susanyi in Monday's championship match.
“What an overwhelming feeling of excitement,” said Routliffe. “Everyone at this tournament is really talented and we are just so excited to get back out there tomorrow. Maya and I are so thankful that we have the opportunity to play for another championship.”
For the third consecutive match, Jansen and Routliffe found themselves facing an early deficit, as Stanford's Doyle/Tsay took the opening set, 7-5. The Alabama duo tied the score at 4-4 after falling behind 4-2, but it was Stanford that took three of the final four games to win the set.
“We were playing a little passive during the first set,” said Routliffe. “Stanford was doing a really good job of poaching the ball early, and they were hitting some great serves. We just missed out on a couple of opportunities and let the first set get away from us.”
Accustomed to shifting momentum, Jansen and Routliffe took the first two games of the second set, and held a 4-1 advantage before allowing Stanford to score its second point. Doyle and Tsay fought back to trim the lead to 4-3, but it was Jansen and Routliffe that rattled off back-to-back games to take the second set, 6-3.
From there it was all Alabama, as the reigning champions took advantage of yet another momentum swing and ran away with the final set by a score of 6-0.
“During the final two sets we really started to play more towards our strengths,” said Jansen. “We started to execute returns and first balls, and we did a good job of setting up the person in the net. In the first set we were hesitating, but after that we really started to go.”
After capturing the Alabama women's tennis program's first national title a season ago, Jansen and Routliffe will now have the opportunity to defend that title against Cal's Klara Fabikova and Zsofi Susanyi in Monday's championship match. Times for Monday's singles and doubles finals are still to be determined.
May 24th, 2015
GRADUATION: Northside High School - Principal
Cindy Long
Graduation exercises
May 21, 2015, 4 p.m.
Coleman Coliseum, University of Alabama
Valedictorian and salutatorian: TBA
Class officers
Tanner Colburn, president
Hooper Boyd, vice president
Katie Delbridge, secretary
Hunter Hammock, treasurer
Paige Worthington, parliamentarian
School colors
Navy blue, carolina blue and white
Candidates for graduation include Samantha Lauren Aldridge, Laney Elizabeth Anderson, Jason Scott Averette, Nathaniel William Bailey, Robert William Banks, Christian Drake Barnett, Dalton McKay Beasley, James Ronald Beasley, Christopher Michael Bigham, Andrew Buck Bowman, John Hooper Boyd, Savanna Nicole Braselton, Ashlen Kate Broughton, Bethann Judith Bullard, Preston Roy Burnette, James Robert Burns, Gabriella Renee Buttery, Andrew Coleman Campbell, Mary Kathryn Cassady, Nathaniel Tyler Lou Champion, John Adam Chism, Ashlyn Brookes Clarke, Danielle Marie Claybrook, Richard Tanner Colburn, Cory Lee Collins, Skylar Reine Crawford, Kaitlin Elizabeth Delbridge, Sammy Joe Fenimore, Kevin Dustin Fields, Diana Carol Fuller, Robert Sherman Gilliam, Jessika Bradleigh Guy, William Hunter Hammock, Marcus Revis Harrison, Krystal Paige Harrison, Katherine Elizabeth Herron, Tanner Garrison Hester, Terra Miranda Hocutt, Hunter Scott Holloway, Meridith Myers Hopson, James Paul Horton, Zachary Konor Howton, Deven James Hutchins, Caroline Elizabeth Jones, Brittany Diane Jones, James Owen Jones, Shanette De'Ja Janay King, Matthew Reed Knight, William Spencer Lawson, Candice Ann Leonard, Holly Lyn Logan, Jordyn Leann Lucas, Brittney Nicole Lynn, Sydia Tatyanna Maddix, Christopher Gage Malone, Maria Crisanta Martinez, Andrew Mark McDonald, Alexis Nicole McKinney, Addison Scott McQueen, Mallory Licia Miles, Jacob Dale Montgomery, Caleb Ryan Montgomery, Garth Ryan Mounce, Lucas Brett Oswalt, Ethan Lane Pate, Nicholas Alexander Perkins, Abigail Paige Pugh, Gayl Ruth Rautenbach, Kirsten Nichole Rivers, Lucas Alan Rowland, Robert Lane Sanford, Travis Blake Scott, Timothy Caleb Shook, Lucas Perry Skelton, Savannah Lane Smelley, Jordan Layne Smith, Brooklynd Summer Smith, Hannah Nichole Smith, Connor Lee Sparks, Kara Elizabeth Swiney, Amira Irene Totah, Omar Zaoujal Touzani, Holden Parker Turner, Landon Chase Turner, Claudia Mae Van Winkle, Kaeleigh Breann Vice, Camisha Romaine Warley, Kyran William Watson, Taylor Michelle Weathers, Leslie Mikaela Wheat, Jessica Grace White, Harley Rae Angel Wise, Paige Renee Worthington and Kristan Shea Young.
May 24th, 2015
GRADUATION: Northridge High School - Principal
Kyle Ferguson
Graduation exercises
May 23, 2015, 2:30 p.m.
Coleman Coliseum,
University of Alabama
Valedictorian and salutatorian: TBA
Class officers
Mary Margaret Murdock, president
Abbigale Atkins, vice president
Abigail Abston, secretary
Heather Benjamin, treasurer
School colors
Carolina blue and black
Candidates for graduation include Adam Ziad Abawi, Antwoine Abbas Abrams, Abigail Nicole Abston, Yara Emad Akl, Abigail Marie Allen, Lee Rebecca Almond, Santana Monae Archer, Abbigale Rae Atkins, Tatyana Amia Austin, Maryam Azam, Micheal Joe Bearden, John Duren Bell, Montez RaShawn Bell, Shandetra Shardai Bell, Heather Rose Benjamin, Danielle Qwash'a Beville Jackson, Briana LeShae Blakely, Jahara Monique Bolden, Nestasia Malaysia Bradley, D'airus Rashawn Branch, Anna Elizabeth Brantley, Isaac Carson Brown, Jamal KeAnthony Brown, Keana Lorraine Brown, TreShawn Deondre Brown, Arkeia Deneisha Bryant, Jerrelle Tray Bryant, Joselyn Kordeja Bryant, Nigel Kieth Burden, Davis Linzy Byars, William Ellis Cabbil, Joshua Nathaniel Cameron, Karson Rylee Cameron, Lenon James Cameron, Jason Thomas Campbell, Quimesha Brianna Cason-Jackson, Frank Merriman Cauthen, Lauren Nicole Cheatum, John Andrew Hanju Chwe, Damion Ladarious Cooper, Emily Kaye Craver, Nathan Rogers Cross, Anna Dahlback, Benjamin Mosby Davis, Patrick Lee Davis, Zaahira Michelle Deboise, Morgan Leigh DeWitt, LaQuasha LeAnne Dixon, Bennitt Alexander Donnelly, Karlton O'Neal Doss, Katlyn Therese Drake, Jalexcia Sanora Dunn, Aurealious James Echols, Aaron Tyrell Edwards, KaVante' Dellshon Edwards, Sarah Frances Ellis, Giddel Basilio Endaya, Malyk Juwan Ervin, Estefania Estrada, Kelsey Morgan Fendley, Jessica Lynn Fergerson, Virginia Marie Ferro, Caroline Lauren First, James Faulcon Fitts, Katherine Miller Fitts, Ashley Vernice Ford, Autumn Arieal Foster, Destiny Latrice Foster, Kyle Alexander Gaddis, Cikerri Chandre' Gardner, Kaneesha Shauntreal Garrett, Paeton Allie Gaspard, Sarah Marie Gorg, Anthony Duvale Grant Jr., Marquis Raeshad Gray, Erin MarQuis Green, Joseph Montero Haley, Bobby Jaleel Hamilton, Colin Robert Hammond, Alexander James Hans, Jonathan Cole Hardwick, Marquise D'Shawn Hardy-Furr, Di'Andra Mone' Harris, Jacquese Monai Harris, Morgan Nicole Harrison, Elaine Kathryn Hatfield, Catherine Grace Hauser, Alexis Navia Hawkins, Stephen Cooper Herrington, Daniel Lee Herrod, Vantashia Monique Hester, John Austin Higginbotham, Jayla Janay Hill, Andrew Hunter Hindman, Russell Baker Hinton, Shy' Deya La'Zhae Rushell Hopkins, Deric Dewayne Horton, Johnte Lamar Hoskins, Morgan Shaikira Howard, Ke'Vondraius Ja'Juan Hughes, Kerri Danielle Irvin, Naomi Yamelly Izaguirre, Jared Lee James, Omar Jijon-Tacuba, Amari Denaye' Johnson, Elizabeth Malone Johnson, Alyrica Shameric Jones, Damia Dominique Jones, Kiaira Alexis Jones, Kaneshia Keaunta Keller, Mustafa Ahmed Khaleel, Rabisa Jabeen Khan, Da'marcus Trayvon King, James Waverly King, Original DeShawn Kirkland, Charles Robert Lane, Jennifer Kaitlyn Lawrence, Kayla Tynese Lawson, Tre Anthony Leatherwood, Loren Summerlin Ledbetter, BriAnna MeShell Lee, Delsheldrick Tyshawn Lee, Khalia Jabrell Lee, Michael James Lee, Jordon Rachel Leopard, Amanda Tamarra Lewis, Graham Nicholls Limbaugh, Deon Lamar Linebarger, Kiana Brishanna Little, Abigail Reed Livingston, Alexander Carl London, Jason Thomas Long, LeAmbreya Monique Long, Mary Georgana Long, Thomas McPherson Long, Billy Luu, Blesha Alexis Manassa, Stevan Tucker Marcus, Alex Christopher Martin, Keyon Dajuan Matthews, Raquan Carielle Matthews, Samuel Prater Maughan, Fannie Shamone May, Kelvin Fitzgerald Mayhew, Damonte Marquez McCaa, Katherine Elizabeth McCray, Isabella Mercedes McVeagh, Sean Wallace Miller Lane, Chelsea Sierra Mitchell, Whitley Shante Mitchell, Frederick Blackmon Mobley, Joseph Mohabbat, Mya Marie Montrella, Julia Stacy Mullins, Mary Margaret Murdock, Savren Mahon Nelson, Garrett Scott Nichols, Ryan Robert Nichols, Teven Andrew Nipper, Anna Beth Northington, D'angelo Antonne Noye, Grayson Kole O'Bryant, Kayla Lashell Pate, Paul Winton Patterson, Jeremy Tyrone Patton, Spencer Wilkes Patton, Jordan Anthony Pearce, Kameron Tulane Peoples, KeiErica Amari Perry, Stiles Darnell Pettaway, Daryl Lamont Pham, Tyesha Monique Pinnock, Madison Christine Pizzato, DeMario Deondre' Kevon Plott, Katherine Grace Poore, Vernon Fitzgerald Porter, Shayla Lashorn Powell, Davis Scott Presley, DeAnthony Davon Prewitt, John Hunter Price, Timothy Demond Prince, Heather Marie Rabbit, Oliver Brice Reinwald, Santavier Markieth Richey, Paige Elizabeth Riley, Jacquail Levontae' Robinson, Kemonte Kevon Robinson, Kycianna Torshae Robinson, Torneshe Qua'Tayshe Robinson, William Reid Ryan, Trinity Chelija Sanders, Quentin Lanier Savage, Thompson Lee Schille, Jalissia Terrell Sealey, Antoya Shanee Searcy, Jackson Lee Seawell, Fredrick D'ontrai Shaw, Letitia Mireille Sidje, Denae Eileen Sisler, Toni Alexandria Sledge, Adarious Kevaughn Smith, Austin Pressley Smith, Jennifer Kay Smith, Keishun Patrell Smith, Miller Cobbs Smith, Jason Laron Snyder, Ja'Derric Quinndarius Spencer, Ja'Torian Marquell Spencer, Stephon Jarrel Spicer, Patra MiGayle Stallworth, William Grier Stewart, Micheal Jaleel Stokes, Kyle Bradley Stuart, John Paul Sullivan, Indiya Tahjee' Summerville, Skitaisha Estell Sweet, Candice Renae' Taylor, Juan Marcellus Taylor, William Blake Temple, Briana Myche Thomas, Christopher Paul Thomas, Kylia Amelia Thomas, Miasia Moshay Thomas, Takayia Suntae Thomas, Heather Renea Thompson, Jasmine SheNell Thompson, Keiyah Emileigh Thompson, Trenton Joel Thompson, Jessica Marie Tooson, Anna Claire Toxey, Shameka Shayvone Tubbs, Mary Elizabeth Tucker, Kalyn Amari Tyree, Asia Nicole Vassar, Nicoletta Rose Versace, Jatavius Laquell Walker, William Waldrum Walker, Johnny Earl Washington, Caleb Keshad Watson, Casey Lee Weiner, Lee Shepherd Wicks, Jasmine Danielle Wilder, Elizabeth Claire Willard, Austin Jarell Williams, Demetrius Lamont Williams, Elandris Shonta Williams, Dejah Lee-Ann Wilson, Ezerick JaQuel Wilson, Jaylin Jashun Wilson, Kailin Grace Wilson, Montarious Antwin Tremell Wilson, Peyton Bryant Wilson, Abigail Larson Wolbach, Jakeyla Ta'Sha Woods, Benjamin Luther Wright, Caleb Lamont Wright, Landon Riley Yerby and Vincent Zheng.
May 24th, 2015
GRADUATION: Pickens County High School - Principal
SheMia Jackson-Wilson
Assistant principal
Brian Foley
Baccalaureate ceremonies
May 3, 2015, 6 p.m.
Pickens County High School Auditorium
Graduation exercises
May 15, 2015, 6 p.m.
G.S. Spruill Stadium (weather permitting).
Valedictorian and salutatorian
Lauren Danielle Brown, daughter of Rita Brown and Brad Shaw and Johnny and April Norris.
Jasmine LaShae Spearman, daughter of LaRon and Wanda Thomas.
Class officers
Jasmine Spearman, president
Angel Hannah, vice president
Tori McGraw, secretary
Myles Moye, treasurer
School colors
Cardinal and black
Class color
Class flower
White carnation
Class song
"See You Again" by Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth
Class motto
"What lies before and what lies behind us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Candidates for graduation include Jadarrion Arnez Barnes, Lauren Danielle Brown, Onia' Tynique Burton, Kion Latrail Cole, Olivia Nicole Colvin, Casey Cousette, Al'Mica Indigo Crowell, Matthew Reed Cummings, Hunter Nicole Dean, William Bradley Dean, Julianna Lashell Doss, Timothy Hunter Duckworth, Brian Douglas Ferguson, Marandia Evielenia Ferguson, Tierra Sade Giles, Damian Davonte Hall, Albert Bernard Hamilton, Angel Rasheen Hannah, Devonte Leon Harris, Antonio Darrelle Hayes, Tennyson Terrell Hill, Micah Wendell Hinton, Ja'Terrious Deshaun Hughes, Christian Xavier Jones, Jarell Rashad Jones, Jayle Jawuan Jones, Michael Christopher Jones, Roddrick Tyrell Lark, Donyale Abigail Lathon, Steffon De'Shuan Mccoy, Tori Alicia Mcgraw, Mahtez Deshaun Means, Myles Marquix Moye, Deaurde Dywane Murry, Enezia Tiez Nevith, Dazia Mona Petty, Ricky Tra'Von Phillips, Ashley Nicole Prude, arquis Dashun Robins, Moesha Trana Saddler, Jawuan Abdul Sanders, Kristen Malyn Schultz, Jermesha Janay Simmons, Jasmine Lashae Spearman, Jadalvin Dondre Spencer, Tarvarius Rodriques Steele, Jenessa Jenaye Wallace, Alvin Washington, Zahriah Aaliyah Windham and Maria Mae Woodrup.
May 24th, 2015
GRADUATION: Pickens Academy - Headmaster
Brach White
Graduation exercises
May 22, 2015, 6 p.m.
Pickens Academy Auditorium
Austin McCool, son of Chris and Sherri McCool of Gordo. He has a 4.0 GPA.
Chip Brownlee, son of T.O. and Wendy Brownlee of Reform. He has a 4.0 GPA.
Top five seniors
Austin McCool, son of Chris and Sherri McCool of Gordo.
Chip Brownlee, son of T.O. and Wendy Brownlee of Reform.
Mary Pat Farmer, daughter of Mike and Melanie Farmer of Aliceville.
Kendall Lewis, daughter of David and Kiki Lewis of Aliceville.
Anna Cockrell, daughter of Mitch and Rhonda Cockrell of Aliceville.
Honor seniors
Jenna Bain, Charles Brownlee, Caleb Carr, Anna Cockrell, Mary Pat Farmer, Kyler Henders, Natasha Henderson, Sydney Hester, Kendall Lewis, Austin McCool, Joseph McGlawn, Caitlin Saxton and Courtney Walker.
Class officers
Mary Pat Farmer, president
Kendall Lewis, vice president
Anna Cockrell, secretary
Jenna Bain, treasurer
Sydney Hester, historian
Austin McCool, chaplain
Caleb Carr, parliamentarian
School colors
Columbia blue and white
Senior colors
Red and yellow
Senior flower
Senior song
"On Top of the World" by Imagine Dragons
Candidates for graduation include William Lance Acker, Jenna Leanne Bain, Justin Matthew Barton, Charles Clayton Brownlee, Caleb Gregory Carr, Anna Blair Cockrell, Jordan Mordecai Davidson, Mary Patricia Farmer, Brian Gates, Kyler Seth Henders, Natasha Dawn Henderson, Sydney Kaylen Hester, Trevor Douglas Hester, James Austin McCool, Jamison Paul McCrary, Justin Tyler McGahey, Logan Wade Potts, Tai Alexandria Pruitt, Caitlin Alysse Saxton, Katherine Elizabeth Smith, Amanda Catherine Trull and Courtney Elizabeth Walker.
May 24th, 2015
GRADUATION: South Lamar High School - Principal
Craig Henson
Graduation exercises
May 15, 2015, 7 p.m.
J.C. McAdams Stadium
Cheyenne Crawford, daughter of Bill and Donna Crawford. She has a 97.26 GPA.
Dave Cole, son of Scott and Leslie Cole. He has a 97.21 GPA.
School colors
Crimson and gold
Class officers
Ross Evans, president
Cheyenne Crawford, vice president
Shelby Pate, secretary
Caroline Watkins,
Class motto
"Old enough to know better; young enough to do it anyway."
Candidates for graduation include Codi Dianne Belk, Corey Stephen Betts, Dylan James Bovee, Justin Deion Cheeks, Anna Kathleen Clardy, Joshua Lee Cobb, Davidson Lee Cole, Kacy Layne Connell, Hannah Makayla Cox, Jydarren Luchanio Cox, Kaitlyn Cheyenne Crawford, Consuela Joquee Cunningham, Tyler Aaron Dawkins, Christopher Allen Dennis, Delaney Grace Edmondson, Timothy Ross Evans, Ian Chandler Fields, James Holden Fields, Mika Denese Frierson, Ke'asia Sheree Gardner, Lakieya Monique Gardner, Austin Lee Gilliam, Maigaria Teshay Harton, Holden Wesley Hayes, Tucker Dale Holliman, Sara Kay Long, Shelby Lynn Pate, Michael Austin Patrick, Destiny Amber Pollard, Amelia Grace Propst, Christina Danielle Ramirez, Colton Stone Robison, Mallorie Danielle Shaw, Hershel Tremane Smith, Delaina Marie Thompson, Dillon Wayne Trammel, Jacqueline Leigh Vaughn, Courtny Rheann Vick, Caroline Paige Watkins, Cody Aaron Watkins, Quinten Lee Wheat and Priscilla Kay White.
May 24th, 2015
GRADUATION: Sulligent High School - Principal
Lisa Stamps
Graduation exercises
May 15, 2015, 8 p.m.
Brown Stadium
Guest speaker
Dr. Dale Spruiell
Anna Sauceda, daughter of Servando and Maria del Consuelo Saucedo. She has a 95.71 GPA.
Jacob Otts, son of Danny and Cindy Otts. He has a 94.70 GPA.
Class officers
Hannah Hampton, president
River Egger, vice president
Alexis Boman, secretary
Summer Wilson, treasurer
School colors
Royal blue and white
Class motto
"We Run This"
Candidates for graduation include Melanie Nicole Abbott, Tyrin Dajuan Bankhead, Brittney Ann Barnes, Don Wilson Benefield, Alexis Michele Boman, Miracle Bonman, Precious Bonman, Harley J. Buckley, Alex Deshaun Butts, William Bryant Byrd, Kevin Lee Corbell, Caitlin Rose Cox, Michael Tyler Cox, Alex Cole Dove, Hannah Nicole Dupree, Morgan Eads, River Montana Egger, Kristin Nicole Franklin, Jordan Nathaniel Gardner, Payton Keeler Gilmore, Roman Danzel Glass, Hannah Makayla Hampton, Hannah Nicole Hartley, Skyler Wade Hawkins, Jerrin Brantly Hester, Colten Micheal Hollis, Justin Pierre Hollis, Landon Blake Hollis, Unique Tierra Hollis, Carly Wayne Lockhart, Foster Dakota Lugo, Alliyah Nicole Marchbanks, Caleb Bradford Merchant, Justin Rashad Metcalfe, Zarria Mone't Metcalfe, Brooklyn Shantel Noland, Kevin Logan O'Mary, Robert Jacob Otts, Candace Nicole Price, Lucas Alan Reeves, Tristan Wayne Rogers, Anna Yolanda Sauceda, Alanis Racheal Turney, Shacarra Rae White, Summer Danae Wilson and Ty William Woods.
May 24th, 2015
GRADUATION: Sumter Academy - Principal
Judy A. Matlock
Baccalaureate ceremonies
May 17, 2015, 2 p.m.
Livingston First Baptist Church
Bro. Matt Kelley
Special music
Margo Bryan
Graduation exercises
May 17, 2015, 7 p.m.
Sumter Academy Gymnasium
Cameron Phillips
Special music
Russell Hanson and Will Bennett
Mason Blake Jowers, son of Larry and Angel Jowers of Livingston. He has a 3.9 GPA.
Valerie Alexis Larkin, daughter of Eddie and Laura Larkin of Cuba and Johnny and Kim Moore of Livingston. She has a 3.9 GPA.
Class officers
Nathan Williamson, president
Cassidy Norris, treasurer
Katy Kelley, secretary
Keri Bryan, reporter
Keri Bryan, SGA representative
Cassidy Norris, SGA representative
School colors
Red, white and blue
Candidates for graduation includes Keri Ann Bryan, Andrew Rauls Busby, Richard Lane Duke, Tyler Wayne Haney, Mason Blake Jowers, Kathryn Louise Kelley, Valerie Alexis Larkin, Zachary Steven Maness, Cassidy Fay Norris, Mary Christina Pruitt, Nathan James Williamson and Donald Blaine Winsett.
May 24th, 2015
GRADUATION: Marengo High School - Principal
David Miller
Graduation exercises
May 15, 2015, 7 p.m.
Marengo High School Gymnasium
Tatayana Kennedy, daughter of Kenneth and Regina Kennedy. She has a 3.657 GPA.
Ja'Shaunda Allen, daughter of Wendy Allen. She has a 3.618 GPA.
Class officers
Dajaquon Bouler, president
Shatavius Mitchell, vice president
Dorthy Nailer, secretary
Tatayana Kennedy, treasurer
School colors
Orange and black
Class motto
"Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Candidates for graduation include Francesa Allen, Ja'Shaunda Allen, David Autery, Dajaquon Bouler, Vanishia Clay, Dequinta Dixon, Robin Dixon, Demarcus Gilmore, Robert Grayson, Adrienne Hopson, Justice Irvin, Tatayana Kennedy, Jordan Lockett, Shatavius Mitchell, Dorthy Nailer, Courtney Pritchett, Marqushia Pritchett, Amber Quinney, Kenyatta Raines, Floyd Simmonds, Regina Simon, Phillip Treadwell, Christopher Watkins, Christopher Watson and Joquin Westbrook.
May 24th, 2015
GRADUATION: Paul W. Bryant High School - Principal
Linda D. Harper
Graduation exercises
May 23, 2015, 9:30 a.m.
University of Alabama Coleman Coliseum
Valedictorian and salutatorian: TBA
Class officers
Kayla Hamlett, president
Alexis Rhodes, vice president
Jada Thomas, secretary
Destiny Montgomery, treasurer
School colors
Navy blue and vegas gold
Class motto
"We have set the standard and left a legacy."
Candidates for graduation include Ben Parker Alford, Devin Joshua Allen, Devon Jeremiah Allen, Elyria Raishon Allen, Johaun Charles Allen, Alyshia Darlene Archibald, Edgar Uriel Arreola Zavala, Johnicia Daishon Bailey, Hunter Shane Barger, K'Vahn Le'on Barton, Keondric DeShay Beard, Quinterria LaShae' Benson, Rufus Rashad Benson, Kedarius Rayshun Bobo, Alliyah Mone' Bowser, Antonio Lamont Brand, Dallas Thaniel Brassfield, Lavaris Marvin Broadnax, Damerious Deon Brown, Jasmine Louise Brown, Juliana Elise Brown, Kevon Shemar Brown, Tavon Rayshawn Brown, Thomarious Desh'uan Brown, Cory Benard Bryant Jr., Danyon Montale Burns Jr., Veronica Callejas, DeAnthony Ke'Shon Cameron, TaMeriah Moniece Cameron, Shalena Janae Cannon, William Don Carruth Jr., Samuel Cole Cartee, Jerome Marcquinton Carter III, Verneka Shontell Carter, Kyarria Neshaun Breshae Chandler, Keri Quaneshia Chaney, Emani Ariel Clark, Jeremy DeQuan Cleark, Jordan D'Angelo Coleman, Angel Renee Crawford, Calvin Jesse Crawford, Alexus Cierra Croom, Bobby LaDarrius Rashard Cunningham, Deric DeWayne Dixon Jr., Tyler Bryant Dockery, Richard James Downey, Harrison Alexander Dudley, Stacia Briana Edwards, Harmone' Rosa Jamaica Elmore, McLain Irving Filer, Camia LaeRae Flowers, Malik TyQuan Ford, Brooklyn Shontell Foster, David Daishun Freeman Jr., Devin Vincent Fuller, Ashley Renee' Gaines, Vikeldric Del'Shawn Gater, Richardria Tyrisa Goodson, Orion Jamal Gore, Brett Alan Grady Jr., James Howard Gray III, Ellen Michelle Green, Lamarcus Antwan Green, Camilla Keyada Gurley, Ambers Jordan Hall, Krisshan Mykell Hall, Joshua Earl Rutland Hamby, Kayla Nicole Hamlett, Curtis Trevonn Hardaway, Tyshaun Tobias Hardy, Justin Marquis Hatter, Ashanti Vone Heard, Javon Markeis Henry, Davie Christopher Randolph Herring, Leslie Nicole Hewlett, Cedric Jordan Hill, Jophlin RaQuan Hill, TeCandria Denay Hill, Xavier Stepp Hill, LaKendra Marque Hinton, Sterling Hinton III, Sha'Cory Keantre Holder, Jordan Michael Holt, Candice Paige Hopkins, Joyia Alexius Hopkins, William Wayne Hopkins, Hillary Victoria Kathelina Horton, KelShawn DeMorris Hudson, Le'Eric Kei'Shawn Hughes, KeAnthony Dewayne Hutt, Samantha Kaye Ingram, Kelcey Shavonta Jackson, Portia Renea Jackson, John Paul Jenkins, Shalonda Shuvon Jenkins, KyAunte' TrayShaun Johnson, Ashley Vonae Jones, Robert Lee Jones II, Shalaria Sqwante' Jones, Tommy Lovell Jones Jr., Kendarius Omar Jordan, Julio Lopez Jose, Hammer Jarvanche' Killings IV, Kimberlie Jayne Koon, Samuel Langford Leach, Jordan Justic Leatherwood, Ekeze Enfume Lee, Faris Darcell Little, Laporsha Shaquevia Lockett, Victoria Alexandria Lucas, Ke'Andre Dewayne Lugo, Reginald Jerome Mack Jr., Micah Jachai Wendell Madison, Brianna Rena Marbury, LaDeldric KeShawn Marcus, Maria Jimenez Martinez, Moses Mason III, Eboni NyChelle May, Steven Tyron McCrary, Telijah-Wan McKinney, Jonathan Ramon' McMiller, Brandon Shane McPherson, Justin Malik Means, Cyrus Anthony Green Mitchell, Shonterica Octavia Mitchell, Destiny DeChe' Montgomery, Arielle Anayanci Moore, Carlisha Ky'lamonique' Moore, Shakur Malik Morris, Matthew Cameron Mosley, Erica KeiAnna Murray, Margaret Eliza Nash, Malique Dominique Neal, Jordan Seth Nevels, Alicia Brianna Noland, Damien Brandon Owens, Danielle Patrice Peoples, Carleigh Aki Pickard, De'Andres Marquez Alexander Pickett, Lucy Abigail Pollock, Corriel Deonsarae Pope, Justin Markel Prewitt, Cierra Michelle Pugh, Tyler Thompson Redman, Ronmesha Shiday Reed, Alexis Dominique Rhodes, Matthew James Rice, Joshua Brock Robertson, LaMarquis DeVaughn Robinson, Shanquita Shantae Ruffin, Kenyetta Jasmeen Ryan, Robert Earl Samuel Jr., Delvecchio Savage Jr., Shameka Quonsha Savage, Lisbeth Claflem Seale, Jasmine Monae' Showell, Tarrez La Montraon Simmons Jr., Jermiya Marshay Simpson, Tyler Aloysius Slayton, Keonia NaTrice Sledge, Sharicca Marie Smith, Nigel RaShaun Snider-Durant, John Fletcher Snow, Qui'Teshia Shardae Steadman, Jashalin Shakeal Street, Xavier Malik Taylor, Asia Mariah Thomas, Jada Marielle Thomas, Mia LaTrese Thomas, Noah Jordan Thomas, Steven Phalander Turner Jr., Pharrys Amber Tyree, TanQuhrya A'Lyric Venable, Hung Vinh, Quashon J'Vonte Walker, LaDaysha Keichelle Wallace, DeShun Dante' Walton, Alan Jamaal Ward, Tereasa Ann Warren, Brianna Marie Washington, Taylor MacNeil Weaver, Diamond Jasmine Uniqua White, LaDarius Davoun White, Chantayll Gabrielle Whitson, Ayesha Ayanna Whitt, Jasmine Denise Williams-Winston, Alexis Briana Williams, April Nicole Williams, Ashley Jenise Williams, Kentravus Alpatrick Williams, Victoria Shanice Williams, Destinee De'Shay Wilson, Emily Deane Wilson, Jacqueline Teresa Wilson, Makina Laterra Winston, Loryn Hailee Wishon, Dequarius Rayshon Witherspoon, LeDarius Jashawn Witherspoon, DaRon Quintrell Woods, Dondrell Quantae Woods, Kya'n DaShawn Woods and Leroy Wynn III.
May 24th, 2015
GRADUATION: Southern Academy - Principal
Dorothy Dockery
Senior day
May 15, 2015
School gymnasium
Guest speaker
Cynthia Williams McGill, alumna of the Class of 1979
Baccalaureate ceremonies
May 17, 2015, 4 p.m.
Greensboro Baptist Church
James I. Davis
Graduation exercises
May 22, 2015, 7:30 p.m.
School gymnasium
Merri Elizabeth Day, daughter of Philip and Christine Day. She has a 4.0 GPA.
Rebecca Jewel Broussard, daughter of Marty and Jaky Broussard of Greensboro. She has a 4.0 GPA.
Class officers
Becca Broussard, president
Kalton Roye, vice president
Ali Smith, secretary
Merri Beth Day, chaplain
Class flower
White lilac
Class colors
Sea green and pale grey
Class motto
"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter!"
School colors
Blue and white
School mascot
School motto
Pro Christo et Republica (For Christ and Republic)
School flower
Candidates for graduation include Thomas Dylan Bamberg, Rebecca Jewel Broussard, Bradley Hunter Clements, Steven Lane Clements, Taylor Nicole Clements, Justin Wyatt Cole, Austin Newell Cornett, Merri Elizabeth Day, Tiffanie Kaye Drake, Kaylynn Rae Duncan, Kody Wayne Graves, Katherine Kay Harper, Carolyn Delaine Hood, Jacob Winn Jones, Ryan Franklin Lavender, Matthew Tyler Morrison, Sydney Estelle Parr, John Michael Richey, Kalton Keith Roye, Alana Lemly Smith, Scarlett Renea Tidmore, Edward Autrey Washburn and Warren Aubrey Wilkerson III.
May 24th, 2015
GRADUATION: Sumter Central High School - Superintendent
Katie Jones-Powell
Darrell Woods
Graduation exercise
May 29, 2015, 6 p.m.
Sumter Central High School Gymnasium
Cerina B. James, daughter of Antonio and Cassandra Landrum. She has a 4.186 GPA.
Toni' Crockett, daughter of Tony and Loretta Crockett. She has a 4.184 GPA.
School colors
Purple, green and gold
Class officers
Glennisha Hodges, president
LaTerra Harris, vice president
VaShondria Ward, secretary
Justin Oliver, parliamentarian
Class flower
Class motto
"We shall shine even after we are gone – stars we are."
Candidates for graduation include Talashianna S. Allen, Rochester L. Anderson, Quintin Q. Arrington, Chelsea J. Austin, Almesha V. Bell, Decarius D. Bell, Deeanna L. Bell, Stephanie Brooks, Jamarcus D. Brown, Jamarcus L. Brown, Whitney M. Brown, Shantise V. Carlisle, Jaterica J. Carter, Ronnie E. Childers, Danielle K. Clark, Everette T. Clark, Terrion L. Clark, Brandy L. Compton, Eryson A. Crockett, Toni' L. Crockett, Javion J. Daniels, Taquandra C. Daniels, Dekendrick L. Davis, Syvester D. Davis, Dakendrae R. Dees, Jacorey B. Drake, Lazaysha M. Dubose, Marlesha S. Dunning, Travorris L. Evans, SHekira D. Ford, Drayton D. Foy, Decoursey D. Freeman, Jecoby D. Gaston, Ladaiesjah Z. Gibson, Jasmone D. Giles, Adrian D. Glaspie, Andrew P. Goodwin, Jarvis T. Graham, Kanavis D. Gray, Daja J. Hale, Larry L. Hall, Paul Hannon, Tevarius K. Harper, Kasherra S. Harris, Laterra T. Harris, Jarred L. Henderson, Cash M. Hines, Latera R. Hodge, Glenn D. Hodges, Glennisha L. Hodges, Laanthony Hudson, Anthony D. Jackson, Porschae A. Jackson, Cerina B. James, Scoteesha L. James, Benton E. Jefferson, Sarabi Q. Jemison, Larry D. Jenkins, Keondra L. Johnson, Adrianna L. Jones, Richard H. Jones, Timothy A. Lake, Trent J. Landrum, Brittany N. Lard, Lamarcus M. Lard, Michael A. Lard, Ardacia C. Law, Lameyah S. Law, Brandon R. Lewis, Trevor R. Love, Arquashia T. Matthews, Fraronica L. Maxwell, Eric D. McAdory, Ronald E. McCall, Rodney D. McIntosh, Fredricka D. Mitchell, Keiavis L. Mitchell, Daquan J. Moore, Achauntee Q. Nelson, Deseannae M. Nelson, Alphonso Newell, Myesha A. Noble, Justin C. Oliver, Tommie J. Oliver, Kenda D. Ormond, Taryn I. Ormond, Jesse G. Paige, Ladrick S. Parham, Brykale K. Parker, Camren A. Parker, Dabreka S. Pickens, TAmara T. Pickens, Tamara R. Pickett, Hakeem S. Pope, Hakeem R. Porter, Cameron H. Pruitt, Tatyanna L. Pruitt, Anfernee M. Rencher, Charde R. Ridgeway, Alicia A. Robertson, Dominique D. Robertson, Amber T. Robinson, Brianna S. Ruffin, Jiordan D. Russell, Ieshia L. Sanders, Tykarius T. Saucier, Fredrick J. Seals, Rheab M. Sefyan, Ja'cory D. Sparks, Michael T. Spears, Ny'esha E. Stevenson, Jaleel E. Sturdivant, Roderick T. Tarvin, Domonique D. Tensley, Monetrius L. Tensley, Adrianna N. Thomas, Lidaisy T. Thomas, Deangela Turner, Mar'telrius D. Turner, Asia D. Vann, Marquis D. Vickers, Dinesha C. Ward, Dominique L. Ward, Quaniesha R. Ward, Sherrion M. Ward, Vashondria J. Ward, Curtisha J. Washington, Alex D. Watkins, Laquenton D. Watkins, Dandre T. Watson, Ladarius M. Watson, Sharice L. Whitted, Lachasity R. Williams, Leana S. Williams, Jadarius D. Wilson, Laterria S. Wilson, Onesia S. Wilson, Timothy L. Wilson, Bionca R. Woodard, Shondedra S. Woodard, Andreco D. Wooten, Tashunna T. Wright, Telisha Wright and Cordedra M. Young.
May 24th, 2015
GRADUATION: Tuscaloosa Christian School - Administrator
Dan Lancaster
Graduation exercises
May 22, 2015, 7 p.m.
Tuscaloosa Christian School Gymnasium
Guest speaker
The Rev. Mark Potter, pastor of Tuscaloosa Bible Methodist Church
Samantha Anne Wright, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Shawn Wright. She has a 4.00 GPA.
Jessica Nicole Eads, daughter of the Rev. and Mrs. Douglas Eads. She has a 4.00 GPA.
Class officers
Macey Chandler, president
Taylor Estes, vice president
Jessica Eads, secretary
Samantha Wright, treasurer
Boyd Banks, chaplain
School colors
Scarlet red, gray and white
Class verse
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes." Romans 1:16 (NIV)
Candidates for graduation include Andrew Boyd Banks, Rayney Alyce Caudle, Hannah Marie Chandler, Macey Lauren Chandler, Jessica Nicole Eads, Jessica Lacy Eaton, Amber Rhea Englebert, Taylor Destiny Estes, Joshua Bryant Foust, Jordan Ashley Hare, Kendall Rae King, Kegan Troy Lee, Sydney Renee Marks, Miranda Leann Mills, David Scott Pearce, Roman Stewart Robertson, Candice Brooke Smelley, Alyson Katherine Smith, Nicolas Delano Strickland and Samantha Anne Wright.
May 24th, 2015
GRADUATION: West Blocton High School - Principal
Terry Lawley
Graduation exercises
May 12, 2015, 7 p.m.
Tiger Stadium
Class officers
Jaylon Gaines, president
Evan Vick, vice president
Zuleyma Villalobos, secretary
School colors
Red and white
Candidates for graduation include Jobie Hunter Allen, William David Amason III, Lindsey Georganna Arnold, Jason Daniel Bearden, David Michael Beasley, Kylie Frances Benjamin, Josie Breanne Blake, Whitney Brooke Breland, Gordon Rex Bush, Graysan Rose Callahan, Cameron Luwan Campbell, Keterian TaQuan Carter, Candalia Destiny Carver, LeAnna Nicole Carver, Brian Colton Chesser, Kelsey Tanner Crawford, Richard Morgan Crawford, Christian Hope Daniel, Monica Chrystal Faith Deason, Shaye Immanuel David Ellis, Devin Andrew Florence, Colby Preston Fowler, Austin Reid Fulmer, Chelsea Marie Graham, Marquel DeShawn Grant, Hunter Allen Gray, Katlyn JoAnn Grier, Caleb Arthur Gulley, Cameron Gregory Hale, William Jacob Hannah, Courtney Michelle Harrell, Casey Naomi Harris, Gavin Blake Hilbun, Gabrielle Nicole Holloway, Iesha Sierra Hopkins, Sarah Ann Horton, Devyn Trace Hutcherson, Sydney Jesselan Hutchins, Benjamin Luke Jinright, Hali Elizabeth Jones, Savannah Brooke Jones, Carl Matthew Joyce, Candace LaShae Kelly, Kalon James Kelser, Keyshawn O'Mar Kelser, Katherine Louise Lambeth, Mary Madison Leemon, Johnathon Wayne Lewis, Kace Ellington Lightsey, Sarah Jessicca Lippeatt, Jacob William Mayfield, Donald Ray McDaniel Jr., Joseph Ren McRee, Kyler Brady Meadows, Kellon Cameran Mitchell, Chance Kamden Mizzell, Corshawn Davanta' Nevels, Kristen Marie Newton, Jessica Lee Nicholas, Amanda Jean Ortega, Joshua Ryan Parker, Savannah Leigh Parker, Kristen Cheyenne Parks, Andrew Trey Paschal, Christopher Michael Poe, Perry Jacob Ramsey, Zachary Pierson Rice, Joshua Nathaniel Riner, Maria Guadalupe Rodriguez, Tania Diaz Rosas, Joshua James Selfridge, Colin Drake Sellers, Crysalynn Paige Sellers, Daniel Bryant Sellers, Franklin Tyler Shaw, Jocelin Lizbeth Merino Silva, Kerri Jonel Sims, Nolan Joeseph Smelcer, David Matthew Smith, Qwundre Darcellus Smith, Rebecca Suzanne Smith, Shelby Elizabeth Smith, Tristen Naomi Smith, Jordan Chase Snelson, Taylor Lynn Spires, Freddie Lee Stacy III, Brandon Lee Swann, Matthew Chase Terry, Sara Marie Thrasher, William Kolby Thrasher, Brittany Shyann Tucker, Kaitlyn Brooke Tyler, Jason Evan Vick, Zuleyma Villalobos, Casey Brooke Vincent, Austin Taylor Wallace, Lora Katherine Wallace, Leonard Crawford Ward IV, Tierra Keishawn Marche Watkins, Kaitlin Michelle Whatley, Daje DeSean White, Johnathon Daniel White, Xavier Chance Wood and Brooklyn Marie Woods.
May 24th, 2015
GRADUATION: Oak Hill School - Principal
Tyrone Blocker
Graduation exercises
May 14, 2015, 1 p.m.
Oak Hill School
School colors
Maroon and gold
Candidates for graduation include Martez Cordell Cooper, Alex Keith Fergerson, Isaiah Breon Hatter, Robert Dimitri Marshall, Otis John Michael, Joshua Elijah Robinson, Jasmine Renae Trussell and David Samaritan Williams.
May 24th, 2015
GRADUATION: Sipsey Valley High School - Principal
Dennis Alvarez
Assistant principal
Jacqueline McNealey
Graduation exercises
May 22, 2015, 4 p.m.
Coleman Coliseum,
University of Alabama
Valedictorian and salutatorian: TBA
Class officers
Kayla Paige Barker, president
School colors
Black and vegas gold
Candidates for graduation include Elizabeth Paige Allen, Savannah Bonet Armstead, Kayla Paige Barker, Isaiah Christopher Blackmon, Johnathan David Bosch, William Daniel Bounds, Da'Juan Jodicee Britten, Eleania Brown, Lane Bradley Brown, Jerry Edward Carter Jr., Jason Connor Channell, Casie Diane Clark, Macon Lee Clark, Desmond RaShawd Crawford, William Logan Crowell, Landen Michael Davis, Ragan Michal Davis, Brandon Wesley Deavours, Savannah Jesslyn Donner, Kenneth Christopher Driver, Robert Mitchell Drummond, Colby Joseph Dupuis, Amanda Leigh Duren, Katelyn Pate Elliott, Karley Leighann Essary, Alexis Breann Fife, Kelcey Raeane Fowler, MarKeith DeShawn Gray, Jared Thomas Gresham, Damien Damon Guy, Courtney Raye Hamner, Amber Page Hassell, Brett C Hastings, Megan Marie Herren, Tasha Shaday Herron, Barrie Kaine Hirst, Luke Randall Hollyhand, Nicholas Aaron Humber, Savannah Christian Johnston, Micah Ross Kuykendall, Chasity Taisali Gaul Lavata'I, Joyce Lolini Lavata'I, Kalee Brooke Lay, Cody Micheal Logan, Antony Lugo-Maldonado, Haleigh Elizabeth Luker, Matthew Christian Marshall, Dejon Santana McCall, Kyle Alonzo McGee, Karteria La-Quendra Mykeicia McKinstry, Edwaun Antonius McNeil, Richard Carlton Meggs, Shaina Nicole Miller, James Cody Mills, Nicholas Mark Mobley, Candice Ann Montgomery, Tarah Delaney Morris, Marvin De'Andre Murphy, Victoria DeAnna Murray, Tyler Jerome Odum, Olivia Cano Oliva, Kyle Walton Park, Samantha Alexandra Parrales, Christopher Scott Pate Jr., Justin Corey Patterson, James Tristen Patton, Jonathan Wilson Pearce, Ashley Joann Pearson, Lane Morris Pearson, Katelynn Angelique Perry, Lindsey Victoria Phillips, Bailey Diane Pounders, Micah Tyler Roberts, Melody Nicole Robertson, Taylor Christine Rowell, Quennesha Mikeale Samuel, Nicholas Athan Schofield, Heather Brooke Sellers, Jeffery Christian Skinner, Lauren Anne Smith, Daryl Jerome Spencer, Keenan JaJuan Stewart, Joshua Ray Stroup, Taylor Marie Sularin, Allah Tahkeem Temple, Austin Hunter Templeton, Duncan Allen Thomas, Justin Lamar Thomas, Shanon Leigh Tierce, Austin Blake Vaughn, Dallas Anne Weaver, Clayton Matthew Webster, Stevevon Leon Wilder, Kendrick Devonte' Williams, Randall Cole Williams, Wilson Chance Williams, Christian Paul Willmon, Anthony Wills, Taylor Wayne Wilson, William Kaine Wilson, Kasey Mariah Wise and Emily Jordan Woods.
May 24th, 2015
GRADUATION: Sunshine High School - Principal
Eric C. Hines
Graduation exercises
May 22, 2015, 6 p.m.
Sunshine High School Auditorium
Guest speaker
Lildarrius Treva Holley, son of Darryl L. Holley and Brenda F. Holley. He has a 91.07 GPA.
Eulacia Jeannae Edwards, daughter of Derrick Anthony Edwards and Yolanda Albertine Edwards. She has a 90.35 GPA.
Class officers
Lildarrius Treva Holly, president
KeAndre' DeShawn Green, vice president
Cheliah Tanecia Alize Ellis, secretary
Javares Kanard Mickens, assistant secretary
Kiara Shavontae Williams, treasurer
Keonta Kiree Edwards, parliamentarian
Shakashia Keandria Carter, reporter
School colors
Green and gold
Class motto
"The hardest battle you will face in life is to be no one but yourself in a world which is trying its hardest to make you like everybody else."
Candidates for graduation include Ashlea Kyierra Banks, Lacoria Shemise' Banks, Farold Lynn Bryant Jr., Earneshia Lashell Caddell, Shakashia Keandria Carter, Roshun J'uan Dansby, Eulacia Jeannae Edwards, Keonta Kiree Edwards, Cheliah Tanecia Alize Ellis, Eddie Lee Fikes Jr., KeAndre' DeShawn Green, Shakina Renee Hogan, Lildarrius Treva Holley, Kaleigha Janice Jemison, Calvin Terrell Jones, Verneshia Jones, Walter Jones Jr., Javares Kanard Mickens, Schyluer De'andre Owens, Willie Kendarrius Patrick, Treyvonne Monae' Phillips, Rolanda Lavonshay Pope, Ki'Anna Roshaun Robinson, D'Angelo Courviosier Rox, Lucky Jaquan Travis, Kiara Shavontae Williams and Darius LaMar Witherspoon.
May 24th, 2015
GRADUATION: Sweet Water High School - Principal
Phyllis Mabowitz
Graduation exercises
May 17, 2015, 3 p.m.
Sweet Water High School Gymnasium
Kelley Byrd, daughter of Kevin and Paula Byrd. She has a 4.0 GPA.
Nadia Washington, daughter of Ondrey and Michaelle Washington. She has a 3.9 GPA.
Class motto
"We can't change the world unless we change ourselves."
Class song
"See You Again" by Wiz Khalifa
Class flower
White rose
Class colors
Turquoise and white
Candidates for graduation include Allison Nicole Bedwell, Tyro'n Scott Boyer, Kelley Nicole Byrd, Jazmine Briana Cade, Steven Cody Cassity, Keelee Ty Cobb, Kennesha Shawntae Curtis, Logan Elizabeth Dunn, Symone Neshay Dunning, LaDonta Dunson, Tyler Aquilla Echols, Isaiah Shabazz Essex, Ladon Markel Evans, Raveen Symone Gamble, Kaayla Denise Gibson, James Thomas Glass, Keldric Dwaine Greene, Jestice Jamesia Hall, Paige Kristian Harris, Timothy Mason Hudgins, Bonnie-Rayne Hunt, Kahlil Rashawn Kelly, Darius Deshon Kilpatrick, Jakayla Breyonna Landrum, Cameron Daryl Lawrence, Brenda Alicia Ledezma, Taylor Michelle Lisenbe, Destiny Rose McGarvey, Johnisha Jonai Portis, Dustin Kyle Pritchett, Desmond Olantha Retic, Amber Nicole Sewell, Patience Michelle Smith, Alexandria Maria Thomas, Tawney Nicole Thurston, Darius D. Timmons, David Grant Walters, Nadia Annaleesia Washington, Bria Lashanta White and Jaslyn Breane Williams.
May 24th, 2015
GRADUATION: Tuscaloosa Academy - Headmaster
Isaac P. Espy
Graduation exercises
May 21, 2015, 7:30 p.m.
Tuscaloosa Academy Gymnasium
John Price McGiffert Jr., son of Mr. and Mrs. John Price McGiffert Sr. He has a 4.788 GPA.
Lillie Elizabeth Sansing, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Sansing. She has a 4.684 GPA.
Class officers
Hallie Harrison, president
Price McGiffert, vice president
Anna Grace Godoy, secretary
Garrett Sellers, treasurer
School colors
Midnight blue and gold
Candidates for graduation include Devin Kyle Anderson, Jana Sophie Balint, Maximilian Binder, Patrick Thomas Brooks, Samuel Emmanuel Brown Jr., Carter Allen Bunch, Wyatt Wesley Burkhalter, Kaci Rhae Cochran, Shelby Lynn Curry, Charles-Michael Watterson DeVenny, Meryem Eksin, Rachael Anne Fincher, Trayshon Antonio Foster, Anna Grace Godoy, Kylar Lane Greene, Caitlyn Brooke Hall, Hallie Carlton Harrison, Marissa Danielle Hayes, Brittany Faith Ledbetter, Callie Shay Leopard, Victoria Eileen Love, Charles Clayton Marchant III, John Price McGiffert Jr., Elizabeth Aden Moseley, John Burwell Ponder, Mary Katelyn Faith Price, MaryGrace Camille Reed, Austin Joshua Rice, Lillie Elizabeth Sansing, Nathaniel Morgan Schlesinger, Simon Joshua Schmitt, Garrett Scott Sellers, Harrison Cole Standeffer, Tristan Charles Stearman, Matthew Alexander Teesdale, Elizabeth Butler Warner and Shanna Witza.
May 24th, 2015
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