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Home > Tuscaloosa Business News

Tuscaloosa Business News - 2015-07

We have news items here related to Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
About 180 mine employees laid off - Around 180 employees working for Walter Energy’s Blue Creek Mine No. 7 in Brookwood were laid off Friday, a result of poor market conditions within the steel industry.
The employees, along with 14 who work in the central shop, lost their jobs Friday morning, said Bill Stanhouse, vice president of community and government affairs for Walter Energy.
Another 545 workers are expected to receive notice today that they could lose their jobs at the No. 4 mine in upcoming months, he said. The company is required to issue notice of anticipated workforce reductions under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act.
“They will receive WARN notices advising them of a potential reduction in force,” Stanhouse said. “That’s based on current market conditions.”
The layoffs at the No. 7 mine and central shop follow WARN notices that were issued to 370 union and salaried Walter Energy employees on May 18. Those laid off Friday represented about 11 percent of the 1,700 people employed by the Hoover-based company’s operations near Brookwood.
July 31st, 2015
Sweet Tea Trio to perform free tonight - “Live at the Plaza,” a series of free Friday night concerts at Government Plaza in downtown Tuscaloosa, will continue today with a performance by the Sweet Tea Trio from 6-8 p.m.
The trio is made up of Tuscaloosa native Victoria Camp, Southside’s Kate Falcon and Savannah Coker from Birmingham. Falcon plays the ukulele, Coker plays the mandolin and Camp plays guitar.
Patrons will be allowed to bring coolers of beer or bottles of wine to the show. Government Plaza is off Sixth Street downtown.
July 30th, 2015
Additional garbage bins set up around town - To assist college students returning to town, the city of Tuscaloosa’s Environmental Services Department has set up additional garbage bins in certain areas of the city.
These bins are free to use and will be in place until Aug. 10.
The bins are at:
-Fifth Avenue at 16th Street;
-Seventh Avenue at 11th Street;
-Eighth Avenue at 11th Street;
-11th Avenue at 12th Street;
-12th Street (behind Tutwiler);
-Thomas Street;
-Seventh Avenue at 13th Street;
-Ninth Avenue between 12th and 13th streets; and
-12th Street at 14th Avenue.
Officials said these additional garbage bins are for residential use only. They are not for contractor or business garbage.
For more information, call Tuscaloosa 311 at 205-248-5311,
email ESD@tuscaloosa.com or visit the ESD website at www.
July 30th, 2015
Tickets on sale now for Sounds of Motown - Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. today for the Sounds of Motown concert coming to the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater.
The Sept. 25 show features the Spinners, the Whispers and the Manhattans.
The show will start at 7 p.m., with doors opening at 6 p.m.
Tickets cost $59.50, $49.50 and $25 and can be purchased online via Ticketmaster, at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater box office or by phone at 800-745-3000.
July 30th, 2015
Tuscaloosa Park and Recreation Authority plans safe room, renovations for the McDonald Hughes Community Center - Tuscaloosa residents can look forward to a new safe room and renovations to the McDonald Hughes Community Center in the West End in the coming year.
The Tuscaloosa Park and Recreation Authority hosted a community meeting Thursday night at the center to present plans for renovations and the addition of a safe room to the Mc-
Donald Hughes Community Center on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
Renovations and the new construction are set to begin by the end of August, said PARA public relations and marketing manager Becky Booker.
Renovation plans include new paint throughout the facility, a redesigned entrance and office space, a larger workout space with exercise equipment and changing the layout of the rooms.
“Right now, we have all small rooms, and it's pretty choppy,” Booker said. “Everything will be more open for safety and aesthetics as well.”
The estimated cost of renovations is $1.53 million. Booker said the city of Tuscaloosa is funding $1.1 million of the project and Tuscaloosa County is funding $425,000.
She said PARA expects renovations to be complete within six months. PARA doesn't plan to close the facility, which is used for kids' programs during the day and dance fitness classes in the evenings.
She said the new construction of a safe room, which will be structurally separate from the current facility but attached by an enclosed connector, should take about a year to complete.
The safe room will be built to the north side of the current facility, costing an estimated $3.2 million. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is funding $2.4 million of the safe room project, and the city is funding $822,000 of the project, Booker said.
The 12,200-square-foot, dome-shaped building “was sparked by the (April 2011) tornado,” Booker said.
She said the safe room will be built to a FEMA P-361 rating, which means it can withstand up to 250 mph straight-line winds. Booker explained the FEMA rating as, “if you pick up a 2-by-4 and it was flying at 250 mph, it would bounce off the building.”
The safe room, which will hold 1,700 people at capacity, will double as a collegiate-size basketball court.
“The new (safe room) will have a dual purpose,” she said, adding that it will be used for other programs. “It will impact a lot of our citizens. We're injecting safety and fun.”
July 30th, 2015
Tuscaloosa Public Library executive director pool cut to 8 semi-finalists - A search committee formed by the Tuscaloosa Public Library's board of trustees has chosen eight semi-finalists to be interviewed for the library system's vacant executive director position.
The field of eight was narrowed from about 30 applicants and will be interviewed by the committee next week.
Board attorney Brooke M. Nixon said the interviews will take place next Thursday and Friday via Skype. From these, three will be chosen as finalists by Aug. 10.
Nixon did not release the names of the eight semi-finalists on Thursday.
She said this decision comes at the recommendation of Bradbury Associates/Gossage Sager Associates, a firm that specializes in executive searches for libraries, which the board of trustees hired to assist with the search.
“We have kept the information confidential from the full board,” she said. “In fact, a majority of the board has no idea who the semi-finalists are.”
Four board of trustee members — LeGrand Hutchison, Sherie Giles, Vicki Burch and board chairman Harry Shumaker — serve on the search committee along with three non-board members and two library employees.
Once the three finalists are chosen, Nixon said, their names will be released and a community forum is planned as part of the final determination process.
The full 12-member board of trustees will then conduct final interviews of the three finalists and is expected to decide which one to hire by the end of August.
The next executive director of the Tuscaloosa Public Library will earn a salary ranging from $85,000 to $110,000.
Reach Jason Morton at jason.morton@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0200.
July 30th, 2015
Auditions for Tuscaloosa Talent Search next week - Kip Tyner first got the idea to host a talent show nearly 30 years ago when he realized that amateur singers, dancers and performers didn’t have a venue in Tuscaloosa to show off their skills.
Now in its 28th year, the talent show has evolved into a sold-out event that attracts contestants from across Alabama and even surrounding states.
Tyner, a city councilman and a local talk show host, hopes to see more people audition in the offbeat categories this year.
“I’d love to have more non-traditional talent — acts like pet tricks, magicians, jugglers or contortionists,” he said.
The contest is open to all ages and is free to enter. Last year, acts ranged from a 5-year-old fiddle player to an 84-year-old who dressed as a flapper and danced the Charleston.
Categories include male, female, junior, teen and tiny vocalists; dance and junior dance; vocal group/duo; drama/comedy; step; country; gospel; band; instrumental; cheerleaders; drum line; and dance line. Extreme categories include juggling, ventriloquism, contortion, animal performances, wheel sports and more.
“When I started this 28 years ago, it was all about giving people a chance to perform on a stage,” Tyner said.
So far, Tyner has heard from entrants from 20 Alabama counties, four cities in Mississippi and one from Georgia. About half of the finalists last year were from outside Tuscaloosa.
“This has truly become a statewide talent show,” he said.
There’s more at stake than just the $4,000 prize money. The three judges are talent scouts for MGM and Walt Disney. The scouts offered jobs at Walt Disney World to seven contestants last year, Tyner said, and around 25 since the show began 28 years ago. The scouts also offer professional feedback to each contestant.
Money raised from ticket sales will benefit Eagles’ Wings. It only costs around $6,000 to put on the event, Tyner said, including the cost to rent the Bama Theatre, run lights and pay for airline tickets for the judges. Sponsors such as the Hampton Inn, which provides lodging for the judges, keep the costs down and ensure that all proceeds benefit the charity, he said.
Contestants who make the cut during next week’s auditions will compete Aug. 15 at 6 p.m. at the Bama Theatre.
For information on the show or auditioning, contact Tyner at 205-553-0589, 205-394-8375 or ktyner@tuscaloosa.com
July 30th, 2015
Partnership aimed at boosting entrepreneurs announced at first State of the Economy event in Tuscaloosa - Entrepreneurs and researchers with potentially marketable discoveries and ideas could soon get some help bringing their ideas to market.
A new partnership involving a private investment firm and the University of Alabama will be formally unveiled soon, said Carl Pinkert, UA vice president for research and economic development.
Pinkert, the keynote speaker at the first local State of Economy conference on Thursday, said the partnership's goal will be to develop companies from the ideas and research coming from UA's researchers, faculty and students.
Greer Capital Advisors, a Birmingham-based company that provides capital for private equity projects, will be part of the partnership, providing funds for the budding businesses, he said. The money could come from donations to UA for the research or from equity investment in the start-up business.
Greer Capital provides capital for private equity projects that act as a catalyst for economic growth in the local community, according to its website. The company, which describes itself as Alabama-based, said it invests in industries close to home with a goal of helping local communities' economies.
The partnership will take viable ideas and help develop them into businesses and keep them in the community, Pinkert said.
"If we reward them (new start-ups) financially, we expect they will stay in our community and grow," he said.
"With the right incentives in place, they will get their roots planted here."
The Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama's "State of the Economy" conference also featured a panel of local experts who addressed the biggest challenges facing their respective industries.
Here's what each panelist saw as challenges:
-- Grayson Glaze, executive director of the Alabama Center for Real Estate, said affordable housing is the biggest challenge facing the real estate market in Tuscaloosa. He suggested the Tuscaloosa City Council's next task force might look at that issue.
Much of the recent apartment construction in Tuscaloosa has been designed for students and is more upscale, he said. Affordable family housing needs to be addressed, he said.
"Affordable housing is the coming issue for the future," Glaze said.
-- Dara Longgrear, executive director of the Tuscaloosa County Industrial Development Authority, said the county needs to "move up the value-added chain" in manufacturing by making sure workers have the higher skills needed for those higher-paying jobs. Manufacturers seeking low-cost labor are not coming to the South, he said. They are locating in Mexico and China to get cheap labor.
Longgrear said he expects some county manufacturers will make major capital investments this fall, but those investments will not bring a lot of jobs.
"So the question becomes, with more automation and more robotics, can we hire people with the skills who know how to keep the robots from bumping into one another?"
-- Jay Kasten, director of sports for Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports, noted several new hotels opened this year and more are in the planning stages. At the start of the year, there were no hotels downtown. Now there are two hotels with a total of 250 rooms downtown and another will soon be built bringing the total number of downtown hotel rooms to 350.
"The number of hotel rooms is exceeding the demand, so we have to become more creative to bring more visitors to town," he said. Tuscaloosa needs to become a destination for visitors throughout the year not just on fall weekends when there's a Crimson Tide football game, Kasten said.
-- Al Spencer, the Chamber of Commerce's vice president for economic development and public policy, said he sees the retail gap in which people travel to Birmingham or buy things online rather than shop in town. The gap occurs in part because they cannot get the merchandise locally.
Around $500 million leaves Tuscaloosa annually because of the retail gap, he said. That means lost tax dollars for schools and local governments and fewer jobs at stores and restaurants. The gap is being narrowed and will be helped with new redevelopments like the Shoppes at Legacy Park, which will open this year but it still remains a concern, he said.
-- Brendan Moore, Tuscaloosa's director of economic development, said a major focus for the near term will be continued redevelopment of the tornado recovery area — the parts of the city destroyed or heavily damaged by the April 27, 2011, tornado. Improvements to the downtown to UA campus area also are priority, he said.
Reach Patrick Rupinski at patrick.rupinski@tuscaloosa news.com or 205-722-0213.
July 30th, 2015
Tuscaloosa tire shops see uptick in flat repairs; construction projects could be an issue - Warren Tire on University Boulevard fixed an average of 1,300 flat tires a year before the April 27, 2011, tornado. But, in the four years since, their numbers have skyrocketed, averaging around 2,000 tires a year, said general manager Brad Johnson.
The reason: construction in Tuscaloosa.
"I don't mind the construction; that means Tuscaloosa is growing," Johnson said. "It also means more business."
Warren Tire isn't the only one getting more business because of screws, nails and other construction debris stuck in people's tires. Tuscaloosa Tire on Lurleen Wallace Boulevard has also seen its tire repair numbers go up in the last couple of years, especially after wet weather.
"We get a slough of them every time it rains," said Dan Berfield, assistant manager of Tuscaloosa Tire. "It washes all the construction material in the gutters and out in the road. It's unavoidable."
Ronnie Parker, assistant manager of Tuscaloosa Tire on McFarland Boulevard, agreed.
"We probably do something like 20 flats on some days," Parker said. "Nails and screws are worse after it rains, and we have a lot of people hitting curbs because (of) the way the roads are in Tuscaloosa right now."
Tim Read, assistant manager of the repair shop in Sears, also said the problem is unavoidable.
"It seems like here recently we've seen a lot more flat repairs with screws and nails," Read said. "You can try to stay away from construction zones, but that's almost impossible right now in Tuscaloosa."
While some tires can be patched and repaired, it depends on the location of the tire or the screw. If they are within an inch from the edge of the tire to the rim, on the sidewall, it's considered a non-repairable area because it will cause more problems later, according to the tire shops.
"It especially hurts when people get brand-new tires and then have to get new tires again," said Van Widener, senior sales representative at Warren Tire.
That happened to Tuscaloosa resident Amy Grano when she had a screw in her tire earlier this month. She had to get a new tire because the old one couldn't be repaired. She attributes the flat to an apartment construction.
"I work over by the Waysider and drive past the apartments on 15th Street that are under construction as well as shop at De Ja Vu Consignment," Grano said. "I know they've had a lot of problems with the construction crew there leaving messes in the parking lot."
Northport resident Amy Materson has had two flat tires in two months due to nails and other debris.
"I don't think I picked it up around my house because I was running errands the afternoon it happened," Materson said. "It actually went flat on Lurleen Wallace. You should have seen all the pieces of nail and metal pulled out of my tire. So irritating."
It is up to contractors to keep their sites clean, according to the city of Tuscaloosa. Construction materials are supposed to be contained. There haven't been any site-specific complaints or requests to have specific streets swept because of construction materials, said Deidre Stalnaker, spokeswoman for the city of Tuscaloosa.
"If someone notices a particularly unkept street, whether from just looking at it or if they've had tire damage, they are encouraged to call 311," Stalnaker said. "From there, 311 can notify a city staff member who can discuss the situation with the contractor, property owner and/or developer."
Reach Lydia Seabol Avant at 205-722-0222 or lydia.seabol avant@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0222.
July 30th, 2015
Summit focuses on Tuscaloosa economy - Entrepreneurs and researchers with potentially marketable discoveries and ideas could soon get some help in bringing their ideas to market.
A new partnership involving a private investment firm and the University of Alabama will be formally unveiled soon, according Carl Pinkert, UA vice president for research and economic development.
Pinkert, the keynote speaker at the first local “State of Economy” conference on Thursday, said the partnership’s goal will be to develop companies from the ideas and research coming from UA’s researchers, faculty and students.
Greer Capital Advisors, a Birmingham-based company that provides capital for private equity projects, will be part of the partnership, providing funds for the budding businesses, he said. The money could come from donations to UA for the research or from equity investment in the start-up business.
Greer Capital provides capital for private equity projects that act as a catalyst for economic growth in the local community, according to its website. The company, which describes itself as Alabama-based, said it invests in industries close to home with a goal of helping local communities’ economies.
The partnership will take viable ideas and help develop them into a business and keep them in the community, Pinkert said.
“If we reward them (new start-ups) financially, we expect they will stay in our community and grow,” he said.
“With the right incentives in place, they will get their roots planted here.”
The Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama’s “State of the Economy” conference also featured a panel of local experts who addressed the biggest challenges facing their respective industries.
Here’s what each panelist saw as challenges:
Grayson Glaze, executive director of the Alabama Center for Real Estate, said affordable housing is the biggest challenge facing the real estate market in Tuscaloosa. He suggested the Tuscaloosa City Council’s next task force might look at that issue.
Much of the recent apartment construction in Tuscaloosa has been designed for students and is more upscale, he said. Affordable family housing needs to be addressed, he said.
“Affordable housing is the coming issue for the future,” Glaze said.
Dara Longgrear, executive director of the Tuscaloosa County Industrial Development Authority, said the county needs to “move up the value-added chain” in manufacturing by making sure workers have the higher skills needed for those higher-paying jobs. Manufacturers seeking low-cost labor are not coming to the South, he said. They are locating in Mexico and China to get cheap labor.
Longgrear said he expects some county manufacturers will make major capital investments this fall, but those investments will not bring a lot of jobs.
“So the question becomes, with more automation and more robotics, can we hire people with the skills who know how to keep the robots from bumping into one another?”
Jay Kasten, director of sports for Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports, noted several new hotels opened this year and more are in the planning stages. At the start of the year, there were no hotels downtown. Now there are two hotels with a total of 250 rooms downtown and another will soon be built bringing the total number of downtown hotel rooms to 350.
“The number of hotel rooms is exceeding the demand, so we have to become more creative to bring more visitors to town,” he said. Tuscaloosa needs to become a destination for visitors throughout the year not just on fall weekends when there’s a Crimson Tide football game, Kasten said.
Al Spencer, the Chamber of Commerce’s vice president for economic development and public policy, said he sees the retail gap in which people travel to Birmingham or buy things online rather than shop in town. The gap occurs in part because they cannot get the merchandise locally.
Around $500 million leaves Tuscaloosa annually because of the retail gap, he said That means lost tax dollars for schools and local governments and fewer jobs at stores and restaurants. The gap is being narrowed and will be helped with new redevelopments like the Shoppes at Legacy Park, which will open this year but it still remains a concern, he said.
Brendan Moore, Tuscaloosa’s director of economic development, said a major focus for the near term will be continued redevelopment of the tornado recovery area — the parts of the city destroyed or heavily damaged by the April 27, 2011, tornado. Improvements to the downtown to UA campus area also are priority, he said.
Patrick Rupinski can be reached at patrick.rupinski@tuscaloosanews.com or 722-0213.
July 30th, 2015
Alabama ranks third in preseason poll - The University of Alabama ranks No. 3 in the freshly-released USA Today Coaches preseason football poll.
Defending national champion Ohio State was the overwhelming choice for No. 1, with 62 of the 64 first-place votes. Alabama picked up one first-place vote, as did No. 2 TCU.
Alabama coach Nick Saban is one of the 64 head coaches who vote in the poll.
Click http://sportspolls.usatoday.com/ncaa/football/polls/coaches-poll/2015/1/ to view the entire poll.
The Crimson Tide is one of eight SEC teams ranked in the top 25. Seven of Alabama's 12 regular-season opponents ranked in the top 25 (Auburn No. 7, Georgia No. 9, LSU No. 13, Ole Miss No. 15, Wisconsin No. 18, Arkansas No. 20, Tennessee No. 25).
Reach Aaron Suttles at aaron@tidesports.com or at 205-722-0229.
July 30th, 2015
Demopolis man gets second chance to build dream motorcycle - "Perseverance" means the steady persistence in a course of action, especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles or discouragement. "Perseverance" is also the name of Tim Martin's Harley-Davidson Road Glide.
The black motorcycle with skulls peeking through the transparent candy-apple red overlay is a lot like the first bike he customized, but with a few embellishments.
It starts at the front with a 30-inch wheel and travels to the dash where an iPad controls the stereo. It's bigger than the first one at about 10 feet long and about 4 feet wide.
Both bikes are worth between $80,000 and $100,000, said Martin, an electrical engineer at West Rock in Demopolis.
He said he likes this motorcycle better than the first one, but he couldn't say he was glad to have to start over again to achieve the outcome.
In June 2014, Martin loaded the first bike onto a trailer and headed to Chicago for a bike show, hoping to achieve his dream of getting his bike in a magazine. He had been working on the bike for a year, during which he was diagnosed with Stage 4 renal cell carcinoma, kidney cancer, at age 44.
The trailer, along with the bike, was stolen from his hotel parking lot and has not been found.
So, he bought another Harley-Davidson Road Glide on eBay a month later and started over.
He said of his health "it is what it is," and he would have started over even if he hadn't been diagnosed with cancer. But if he hadn't been diagnosed, "I think it would've been a little easier to quit," Martin said.
So, he decided to persevere.
"During the process of building the bike, I got diagnosed with kidney cancer. We got the bike finished, and within 24 hours, it was stolen," Martin said. "I felt like everything was turning against me. It's just been one thing after another trying to keep me from getting this finished. It just seemed like I just had to push through it and get this thing done."
He said he decided not to let anything stop him, not even a lack of money.
"You get to a certain point where you know (you) may not get another chance to do this again," he said. "So I need to take advantage of the opportunities I've got right now."
The finishing touches were added to the new bike Wednesday night, and about 60 of Martin's family members and friends joined him to view the bike at Steel Syndicate Chop Shop on Skyland Boulevard for a preview before the bike hits the road today headed for Sturgis, S.D., for the 75th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
"Last time, we rolled the bike out of here into a truck and nobody saw it. We had been talking about this bike for a year, and then nobody got to see it," said Martin's wife, Elayne Martin. "You come back (from Chicago) and you try to tell them about it, and words can't describe and pictures can't describe how awesome this bike is."
Martin's mother, Jody Sandlin, said she had never seen anything like it, even as a former biker.
"It's a whole lot better than him getting all depressed," Sandlin said. "He's had this bike to encourage him."
Martin agreed that the bike helped him keep his mind off his disease, which is incurable.
Since his diagnosis in March 2014, Martin has had his kidney, adrenal gland, a rib and a lobe of his lung removed and is treated with an experimental drug at Vanderbilt- Ingram Cancer Center every three weeks in Nashville, Tenn.
During that time, Martin said he, Chris Elliott, who painted the bike, and Scottie Hubbard, owner of Chop Shop, worked thousands of hours over the past year to rebuild and customize the new bike.
"It's an awesome bike in every way," Hubbard said.
Sandlin said she is proud of her son for finishing the bike, especially because of his diagnosis.
"This is his legacy."
July 30th, 2015
Roy Moore faces ethics complaint from Southern Poverty Law Center - MONTGOMERY | The Southern Poverty Law Center on Wednesday accused Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore of violating judicial ethics with his public criticisms of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.
The group filed a supplement to its Judicial Inquiry Commission complaint lodged earlier this year against Moore. The filing contends Moore committed ethics violations by improperly commenting on pending cases and by saying that he couldn't accept the gay marriage ruling as binding precedent and would recuse himself in future cases.
The complaint states that Moore's, "open and blatant disregard for judicial ethics demonstrates that he is unfit to be judge."
"If Chief Justice Moore wants to make political speeches or be an activist in opposition to same-sex marriage, he is free to do so, but he cannot simultaneously hold his current position on the Alabama Supreme Court," SPLC President Richard Cohen wrote in the complaint.
Moore did not have a comment on the filing, a spokesman for the court system said.
The outspoken chief justice has criticized the gay marriage decision, saying it has "destroyed the foundation of our country which is family."
The Republican chief justice, often a lightning rod for controversy, has been careful at times to quote or paraphrase the words of dissenting justices in the marriage case in describing his opposition.
The SPLC filed the initial complaint earlier this year after Moore advised Alabama probate judges to not give marriage licenses to same-sex couples, saying they were part of an independent judicial branch and not bound by a federal judge's order overturning Alabama's ban on gay marriage.
The judicial ethics panel in 2003 removed Moore as chief justice for disobeying a court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building.
July 30th, 2015
"Go Set a Watchman" sales drop, but it's still top seller - NEW YORK | Sales dropped sharply for Harper Lee's "Go Set a Watchman" in its second week of publication. But it remained the best-selling book in the country for the week ending July 26, according to Nielsen BookScan.
On Wednesday, Nielsen reported sales of 220,000 for "Watchman," less than a third of Nielsen's total for the novel's first week on sale. Nielsen tracks around 85 percent of the print market, and does not include e-book sales.
Publisher HarperCollins announced last week that "Watchman," panned by many critics, had already sold around 1.1 million copies in North American alone. The total includes e-books, audiobooks and pre-orders for "Watchman," which topped best-seller lists soon after HarperCollins revealed in February that a second novel was coming from the author of "To Kill a Mockingbird."
July 30th, 2015
Hidden cameras considered as way to catch litterbugs in Birmingham - BIRMINGHAM | County commissioners in the Birmingham area are considering the idea of installing hidden cameras to catch people illegally dumping trash on roadsides.
WVTM-TV reported that the Jefferson County Commission is set to vote Thursday on a resolution to set up the hidden cameras or "game cameras" in areas where trash is commonly dumped.
Commissioner Joe Knight said littering on roadsides is a major concern because of the many problems the trash can cause. He said it can create health hazards and clog ditches, which lead to road damage when water can't properly drain.
July 30th, 2015
Alabama attorney general responds to complaints on gun laws - MONTGOMERY | Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange says several local and state agencies have started complying with gun laws after his office investigated complaints against them.
Strange said in a statement Wednesday that the Alabama Department of Transportation has rescinded a ban on firearms at rest stops after his office told the agency the ban was illegal.
Strange says the city of Moulton has also removed signs saying guns are prohibited at the city’s recreation center and at Alexander Park, and pistol permits in Lawrence County have been changed to better explain concealed carry laws.
The attorney general said complaints about gun bans were filed against Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, but Strange says his office doesn’t have the authority to enforce state firearms laws at public universities.
July 30th, 2015
Job fair today for kitchen workers at University of Alabama football games - Southern Foodservice Management will hold a job fair from 4-7 p.m. today at Gate 30 at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The company is looking to fill 150 to 200 jobs for servers and kitchen workers at the University of Alabama football team’s seven home games.
Servers will provide food and beverages in all premium seats at the stadium — the north and south zones, skyboxes, the Stadium Club and field suites. Applicants should have upscale food and beverage experience, exhibit customer service skills and be able to stand or walk during the entire game schedule, about 12 hours.
Kitchen workers are also needed to cook food and assist with cleaning.
Applicants will be required to work at all UA home games: Sept. 12, Sept. 19, Sept. 26, Oct. 10, Oct. 24, Nov. 7 and Nov. 21.
Applicants should bring a resume and be prepared for an on-site interview.
July 30th, 2015
Alabama prisoner drops bid for abortion - BIRMINGHAM | An Alabama prisoner who went to federal court seeking an abortion filed a court document Wednesday saying she’d changed her mind and wanted to give birth, after the state had sought to prevent her from undergoing the procedure.
The sworn statement, filed on behalf of a woman identified only as Jane Doe, didn’t say whether the state’s action resulted in the change of heart. In the document, the woman said she made the decision on her own without any “undue influence, duress, or threat of harm.”
“After much consideration and counsel, I ... have decided that I no longer desire to pursue an abortion procedure and intend to carry the unborn child to full term and birth,” she said in the statement.
The document was filed by Maurice McCaney, an attorney appointed to represent the woman in juvenile court, where the state had petitioned court authorities to strip the pregnant prisoner of parental rights in order to prevent her from obtaining an abortion.
McCaney didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment. Neither did Randall Marshall, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who represented the woman in the federal lawsuit seeking an abortion.
The Lauderdale County prisoner had originally filed a federal lawsuit last week against a local sheriff, seeking a court order that would clear the way for an abortion. A federal judge had said he would rule by Friday on her request.
In the meantime, the state had sought to terminate her parental rights over the unborn child.
Lauderdale County District Attorney Chris Connolly recently said the prisoner in question would be stripped of her legal standing to seek an abortion if the court took away her parental rights. Connolly said via email that he filed the request on the state’s behalf.
The woman, who filed suit July 20 against Sheriff Rick Singleton, said in the earlier court documents that she was unable to obtain an abortion before going to jail, and denying her one violates her constitutional rights. Court papers do not say why the woman is in custody or provide any personal information about her, but Connolly
said she is an adult. A court-appointed attorney was named to act as guardian for the fetus.
The woman, who is in her first trimester of pregnancy, had at the time urged a federal judge to order the county to let her leave jail to have an abortion that she planned to pay for privately. Her ACLU attorney, Marshall, had said a federal court ruling in favor of the woman would trump an attempt by the state to stop her from having the procedure.
Singleton argued that letting the woman leave jail for an abortion outside would present a security risk. He also argued that she failed to follow proper procedure for seeking outside medical treatment.
Heather Fann, the head of the Alabama State Bar Association’s family law section, called the state’s bid to take away a pregnant woman’s parental rights “absurd.”
“The entire concept flies in the face of what we are set up to do,” said Fann, of Birmingham, who has practiced family law for nearly a decade and is not involved in the case. She said any court ruling taking away the woman’s parental rights could open a new door for abortion opponents seeking to prevent women from ending pregnancies.
“If this were to happen you’ve got one judge and one lawyer making all the decisions for a woman,” Fann said.
July 30th, 2015
Six Tuscaloosa County schools to offer free breakfast - Students at six county schools will receive free breakfast in their classrooms this school year, with the help of a recent grant.
Schools participating in the Breakfast in the Classroom pilot program are Matthews Elementary, Holt Elementary, Crestmont Elementary, Vance Elementary, Myrtlewood Elementary and Davis-Emerson Middle. Approximately 2,500 students at those schools will be positively affected, said County Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Swinford.
“We will help feed kids, be able to maximize instructional time and give them energy to stay awake,” Swinford said at a press conference Wednesday.
In 2012, about 15.9 million children in the U.S. lived in households that struggled with hunger, said Donette Worthy, director of child nutrition with the county schools. Many of those children don’t start their day with breakfast, which can affect academic performance because the kids are less able to focus. Statistics have shown that if breakfast is served at school, attendance rates go up and tardies go down, Worthy said.
“Alabama as a whole is now pushing breakfast in the classroom,” Worthy said.
Breakfast will include food such as sausage biscuits, pancakes, yogurt, milk and juice, she said. The meals are prepared and packaged in the school cafeteria and then taken to the classroom where the students will eat during the start of their instructional day. Breakfast will be available for free to every child, regardless of their families’ income.
“Everyday we ask (students) to come to school, and so many of them are focused on food because they are hungry and cannot focus,” said Noah Jones, policy advocate for Alabama Appleseed. “But if the students don’t get breakfast before school, many of them don’t get breakfast at all.”
Alabama Appleseed Center for Law & Justice is funding a $7,500 grant to the Tuscaloosa County Schools to help fund the startup costs for the Breakfast in the Classroom program. The cost of the breakfast is reimbursed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s School Breakfast Program.
Although only six schools chose to participate this year, the program hopefully will be expanded to more county schools in the future, Worthy said. The six schools participating this school year are the ones with the greatest need, she said.
Last year, the Tuscaloosa City School System started offering free breakfast in class at 15 schools, including Arcadia Elementary, Paul W. Bryant High, Central Elementary, Central High, Eastwood Middle, Northington Elementary, Oakdale Elementary, Southview Elementary and Middle, University Place Elementary and Middle, Westlawn Middle and Woodland Forrest Elementary.
Reach Lydia Seabol Avant at lydia.seabolavant@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0222.
July 30th, 2015
Nonprofit, Wells Fargo donate home to veteran - As Army veteran Fjosterner Ellis descended the stairwell in his new home, he jingled a ring of house keys presented to his family moments before.
“I still can’t really believe it,” the 36-year-old said.
The Military Warriors Support Foundation, a nonprofit assisting combat veterans and the families of military personnel killed in combat, presented the mortgage-free home south of Tuscaloosa to Ellis, his wife and daughter on Wednesday.
The enormity of the gift left the family with wide grins and a flood of emotions.
As Ellis, his wife, Murdice , and 10-year-old daughter, Skyla, walked for the first time through the two-story, four-bedroom home that smelled of fresh paint and new carpet, representatives from Wells Fargo, Realty South and the nonprofit followed, taking photos with their cell phones to capture the occasion.
“I am so nervous, pinch me,” Murdice Ellis said in the family’s new kitchen. “It is so nice.”
Fjosterner Ellis , standing in the master bedroom of the home, thanked the group who came to welcome his family into their new home.
“I appreciate what all you have done for my family,” he said.
Wells Fargo and Realty South refurbished the foreclosed home in preparation for donating it to the nonprofit, said Chris Lee of Realty South.
“It is all about the community and what the veterans have done for us,” said Philip E. Bazinet, branch manager for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage.
Bazinet and Neil Fisher, the family resource specialist with the Military Warriors Support Foundation, helped presented the family with the keys to the home, a gift of gratitude for Ellis’ service.
Ellis, a native of Columbus, Miss., served in an armor regiment in Iraq. He spent two tours in Iraq between 2005 and 2007 and was injured during his second tour, his wife said. Talk of the injury still makes her husband anxious.
The nonprofit’s Homes4WoundedHeroes program donates mortgage-free homes to combat-wounded veterans like Ellis. Nationally Wells Fargo has donated more than 250 properties to nonprofits for programs like Homes4WoundedHeroes since 2013, Bazinet said.
The nonprofit has a database of 4,000-5,000 veterans for the program, Fisher said. The nonprofit tries to find the best match between the available homes and the veterans or their families, who pick the region in which they would like to live.
“We are kind of the database to match it all up, Fisher said.
As part of the program, the veterans and their families undergo a three-year mentoring program to help them adjust to homeownership, Fisher said. The nonprofit assigns the families mentors and has property managers on call to help. The assistance includes everything from financial planning to help getting homeowner’s insurance.
Eligible veterans must have sustained a combat-related injury during an American conflict, have been honorably discharged and currently without a mortgage, according to the program’s website.
The family, currently living in Columbus, Miss., hopes to move in soon, Murdice Ellis said.
Reach Ed Enoch at ed.enoch@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0209.
July 30th, 2015
US official: Debris in photo belongs to Boeing 777 that disapper - WASHINGTON | Air safety investigators have a "high degree of confidence" that a photo of aircraft debris found in the Indian Ocean is of a wing component unique to the Boeing 777, the same model as the Malaysia Airlines plane that disappeared last year, a U.S. official said Wednesday.
Air safety investigators — one of them a Boeing investigator — have identified the component as a "flaperon" from the trailing edge of a 777 wing, the U.S. official said.
A French official close to an investigation of the debris confirmed Wednesday that French law enforcement is on site to examine a piece of airplane wing found on the French island of Reunion, in the western Indian Ocean. A French television network was airing video from its Reunion affiliate of the debris.
The last primary radar contact with Malaysia Airlines flight 370 placed its positon over the Andaman Sea about 230 miles northwest of the Malaysian city of Penang. The French island of Reunion is about 3,500 miles southwest of Penang, according to a Google map.
The U.S. and French officials spoke on condition that they not be named because they aren't authorized to speak publicly.
At the United Nations, Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai told reporters that he has sent a team to verify the identity of the plane wreckage.
"Whatever wreckage found needs to be further verified before we can ever confirm that it is belonged to MH370," he said.
The discovery is unlikely to alter the seabed search, said Australian Transport Safety Bureau Chief Commissioner Martin Dolan, who heads the effort. If the find proved to be part of the missing aircraft, it would be consistent with the theory that the plane crashed within the 46,000 square mile search area, he said.
If the debris turns out to be from MH370, it will be the first confirmation that the plane crashed into the Indian Ocean after it vanished on March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board while traveling from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia to Beijing. A massive multinational search effort of the South Indian Ocean, the China Sea and the Gulf of Thailand was not successful.
It was well understood after MH370 disappeared that if there was any floating debris from the plane, Indian Ocean currents would eventually bring it the east coast of Africa, said aviation safety expert John Goglia, a former member of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board. But the debris is unlikely to provide much help in tracing the oceans currents back to the location of the main wreckage, he said.
"It's going to be hard to say with any certainty where the source of this was," he said. "It just confirms that the airplane is in the water and hasn't been hijacked to some remote place and is waiting to be used for some other purpose. ... We haven't lost any 777s anywhere else."
A comprehensive report earlier this year into the plane's disappearance revealed that the battery of the locator beacon for the plane's flight data recorder had expired more than a year before the jet vanished. However, the report said the battery in the locator beacon of the cockpit voice recorder was working.
Investigators hope that if they can locate the two recorders they can get to the bottom of what has become one of aviation's biggest mysteries. The unsuccessful search for Flight 370 has raised concern worldwide about whether airliners should be required to transmit their locations continually via satellite, especially when flying long distances over the ocean.
Apart from the anomaly of the expired battery, the detailed report devoted page after page to describing a flight that started off completely normal.
The 584-page report by a 19-member independent investigation group went into minute details about the crew's lives, including their medical and financial records and training. It also detailed the aircraft's service record, as well as the weather, communications systems and other aspects of the flight. Nothing unusual was revealed.
The 777, first introduced into service in 1995, had had an enviable safety record up until Flight 370. The only prior fatal crash was of an Asiana Airlines flight while landing in San Francisco in 2013 that was later attributed by accident investigators to mistakes by the flight's pilots. Two passengers were killed in the crash and a third was run over by a truck.
Four months after the disappearance of Flight 370, another Malaysia Airlines 777 was shot down over rebel-held portion of Eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 aboard.
July 29th, 2015
Art exhibit begins Friday - The Bama Theatre's Junior League Gallery on Friday will begin the display of an exhibit featuring watercolor and acrylic work by an artist who graduated from the University of Alabama.
Janet Mego's "Valleys Peak, Faces Reach," exhibit will be on display Friday through Aug. 28 at the theater, 600 Greensboro Ave. The gallery is open weekdays from 9 a.m. until noon and from 1-4 p.m. The gallery is also open during events at the Bama Theatre.
Mego has been drawing, painting and sculpting since she was six years old.
A news release from the Arts Council of Tuscaloosa, the host of the "Valleys Peak, Faces Reach" exhibit, says that Mego's work focuses on the intricacies of the human face and its expression of emotion. She also uses acrylic paints for abstract intrepretation of trees, water and sky.
Mego has served as an artist in residence for the Sumter County Fine Arts Council and has worked as an adjunct art instructor at Livingston University, now known as the University of West Alabama. She retired as a teacher in the Jasper City Schools System but she still teaches an advanced placement English literature and composition class part-time.
A reception honoring Mego will be held from 5-8 p.m. Aug. 6 at the Junior League Gallery.
July 29th, 2015
Teacher, student relationship investigated - The Tuscaloosa County School System and Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office are investigating an alleged inappropriate relationship between a teacher and a student.
“The allegations came to light after I received various emails as well as text messages which contained a link to a photo album,” Tuscaloosa County Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Swinford said Wednesday afternoon.
The album contained more than 300 images, she said.
Tuscaloosa County sheriff’s deputies are investigating to confirm whether the images are real, whether the pictures have been altered and to determine the time and date of each one.
“We have a lot of evidence. We have put it in the right hands so they can verify that it is credible, that Photoshop wasn’t used, and then they can take it from there,” Swinford said.
No one had been charged in the case as of Wednesday afternoon, said Sgt. Alex Miles, a Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office spokesman.
“The investigation is ongoing and information regarding the investigation and names of potential suspects and/or potential victims will not be released at this time in order to safeguard any frailties of the investigation,” he said in an email.
The employee will not be allowed on school property until the investigation is complete, Swinford said.
“We take these allegations seriously and act promptly when a complaint or concern is shared with us,” she said. “We will continue to fully cooperate with Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office, provide whatever support is necessary through the entire investigation and we will take any necessary action based on the findings of the investigation.”
July 29th, 2015
Alabama Fan Day set for Aug. 9 - The University of Alabama will hold its annual football Fan Day on Sunday, Aug. 9, the school announced Wednesday.
The Crimson Tide will hold a two-hour open practice at Bryant-Denny Stadium starting at 2:30 p.m. Players and coaches, including head coach Nick Saban, will be available for autographs at approximately 4:45 p.m. The autograph session will last for 45 minutes. Fans will be limited to one item per person for autographs, and no posed photographs will be permitted.
At the conclusion of practice, Fan Day participants will enter the field through gate 45 and exit via the northeast and northwest field gates.
Those who do not want to view the practice can start lining up early at 1:30 p.m. through the same gate. Attendees who want to view the practice can start entering the stadium at 1:30 p.m. through gates 12 and 16. Seating will be available in the lower bowl in sections A through N.
Concession stands on the west side of the stadium on the field and mezzanine levels will be open, and vendors will walk through the stadium during the practice. UA athletic merchandise will be sold, and 3,000 autographed posters will be given away.
All items are subject to inspection as fans enter the stadium for security purposes.
Children can sign up for the Big Al’s Kids Club, and all fans can register for the Crimson Tide Rewards program outside the east side of the stadium at gate 45 beginning at 1:30 p.m.
Parking will be available in the West ten Hoor area, with two parking decks and surface lots open. Parking for persons with disabilities will be available in the Communications card lot and Wallace Wade lots. No special accommodations will be made for recreational vehicles, which should park at the Northington lot near University Mall.
In case of inclement weather, the Fan Day activities will be moved to Coleman Coliseum.
Updates and other information is available at www.rolltide.com.
July 29th, 2015
Coast Guard official: Search for missing teens is "active and open" - TEQUESTA, Fla. (AP) — Coast Guard and state officials visited the Florida home of one of two missing teenage boaters Wednesday, and a spokesman told news reporters the search for the boys is still “active and open.”
Capt. Mark Fedor of the Coast Guard said, “There’s been a lot of rumors that the search has been suspended. I just want to refute that. The search has not been suspended.”
The Coast Guard and Florida Fish and Wildlife officers were at the home of 14-year-old Perry Cohen for almost an hour Wednesday afternoon.
As they left, Fedor offered no further comment and didn’t take questions.
Earlier, a U.S. official in Washington had said the Coast Guard was suspending the search.
Crews have been searching for Cohen and Austin Stephanos for six days.
The teens’ capsized boat was found Sunday, and the Coast Guard said it was searching the waters from Daytona Beach, Florida, to South Carolina.
The Coast Guard’s relentless hunt for the young fishermen had entered its sixth day with questions growing over how long it could go on. Decision-makers were juggling a mix of “art and science,” Chief Petty Officer Ryan Doss said, trying to balance the knowledge of how long people can survive adrift with the unknowns on whether the boys had flotation devices and drinking water and what their physical condition is.
“We know it can happen,” Doss said of finding the boys alive, “and we’re hoping it happens again.”
Laurence Gonzales, author of “Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why,” said the general rule of thumb is humans can stay alive three minutes without air, three days without water and three weeks without food but examples of defying that abound. The longest someone has been known to survive in the open ocean without water was about five days, he said, but the unknowns about the teens mean anything is possible.
“People will constantly surprise you,” said Gonzales, an author of four books on survival whose own father was a World War II pilot who survived being shot down. “You’ll think, ‘Surely this guy is dead.’ And you’ll go out and there he will be alive.”
Dr. Claude Piantadosi, a Duke University medical professor who authored “The Biology of Human Survival: Life and Death in Extreme Environments,” said “the odds are against” the boys, but the search should continue. He wondered if they could be clinging to a cooler believed to have been aboard the boat and maybe used it to catch rainwater. Even so, the former Naval officer and avid boater and diver knows they are fast reaching the edge of survivability.
“Every hour that passes at this point,” he said, “the chances go down.”
Each year, Florida waters swallow a small number of boaters — people who venture out and never return. In 2013, when Florida had 56 boating fatalities, it also had nine missing boaters — people who were never found and are presumed dead, according to the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. In 2014, there were 64 fatalities and six missing boaters. The commission could not break down how many of these accidents happened in the ocean, the Gulf of Mexico or a lake or river.
Five hundred feet above the Atlantic on Tuesday, an eight-person Coast Guard crew aboard a C-130 plane flew in a grid pattern to survey the ocean below. Two men flopped on their bellies on a cargo ramp, scouring the waters, while other crew members searched from the windows or used a joystick to manipulate a camera scanning the seas.
Mostly they saw vast expanses of water - some of it murky, some so clear turtles could be seen swimming 50 feet below the surface.
Occasionally, they spotted something and looped around, sometimes dropping flares.
A white rectangular shape that looked like a pillow. A box. Something greenish. But none of the items turned out to be worthwhile clues.
“Frustrating,” one crew member remarked on their headset.
“Very,” said another.
After nearly 10 hours of flying, without success, the crew looked bleary and tired as it diverted the plane around a lightning storm on its way home. Even without any major break in the search, the crew knew the importance of their work.
“You search like it’s your mom out there,” Petty Officer Garrett Peck said.
The saga of the two boys from Tequesta, Florida, began Friday. Their parents believed their fishing outing would take them to a local river and waterway, as was the rule in previous solo trips, not the deep waters of the Atlantic. A line of summer storms moved through the area that afternoon, and when the teens didn’t return on time, the Coast Guard was alerted. Their 19-foot boat was found overturned Sunday off Ponce Inlet, more than 180 miles north of where the boys started.
Associated Press writer Alicia A. Caldwell in Washington contributed to this story. Lush reported from aboard the Coast Guard aircraft.
July 29th, 2015
Bentley releases special session bills - Gov. Robert Bentley on Wednesday released his tax and budget proposals ahead of next week’s special session on a budget shortfall.
The governor is seeking $302 million in taxes and new revenue in the special session that resumes Monday. The state is facing a $200 million general fund shortfall for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1 and additional money is needed for Medicaid and to fund a previously approved prison reform package.
“We’re at a critical point. We’ve got to cut or we’ve got to have new revenue,” Bentley spokeswoman Jennifer Ardis said
The governor is seeking a 25-cent-per-pack cigarette tax increase and related tax increases on other tobacco products and e-cigarettes. He is also seeking to raise the business privilege tax on larger businesses while giving smaller ones a tax cut.
The largest money maker in the governor’s proposals is to end the ability of taxpayers to claim a state income tax deduction for federal Social Security taxes paid. The change would raise $182 million. Alabama is only one of four states that allows the deduction. The governor has also suggested a possible soft drink tax if lawmakers do not want to change the deduction.
Bentley last month called for the lawmakers into special session last month. However, legislators immediately took a three-week recess as they work on their own proposals.
Legislators have been meeting off and on during the recess, but so far no agreements have been reached among legislators.
“That’s all we can do is to try to craft a budget that is workable that doesn’t put state government at risk of shutting down and collapsing and hurting the people of Alabama,” Hubbard said.
Bentley has said he will bring lawmakers back for a second special session if they fail to pass an acceptable budget.
July 29th, 2015
Cold front could bring rain - Forecasters say strong to severe storms are possible over northern Alabama ahead of a cold front approaching Alabama.
The National Weather Service said the storms on Wednesday could bring wind gusts of around 60 mph, frequent lightning and heavy rain.
In Tuscaloosa, the National Weather Service says there’s a 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms, mainly after 11 a.m. The high temperature is predicted to reach 96 with a heat index reaching as high as 106 degrees. There’s a 60 percent chance of rain Thursday.
A heat advisory is also in place Wednesday for most of Alabama.
The heat advisory stretches from Florence in northwest Alabama to the Alabama Gulf Coast. It also includes the cities of Huntsville, Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Montgomery, Mobile and Troy.
July 29th, 2015
SPORTING LIFE: Tuscaloosa Tennis Center to host tournament - The plan was in motion long before the first brick was laid.
When the Tuscaloosa Tennis Center was in its initial stages of inception, among the events envisioned for the new facility was to host a doubles tournament that would include both men and women.
On Aug. 12-16, that plan will be in full motion when the Tuscaloosa Tennis Center plays host to the 2015 Jackson, Evans & Associates City Open Doubles Championship. The tournament will include women's doubles, men's doubles and mixed doubles, and, along with divisions that include USTA levels, there will also be an open division so that anyone, age high school and above, can participate. No USTA affiliation will be required in the Open divisions.
“We started planning this about six months before we opened,” said Tommy Wade, the director of tennis at the Tuscaloosa Tennis Center. “I think people will love this tournament. It will be something the whole family can play and enjoy.”
The center will make use of its six outdoor clay courts and three indoor hard courts. Play begins at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. On Saturday, matches will start around 8 or 9 a.m. Sunday's championship round matches will likely begin late morning. There will be a consolation draw so that each team will be assured of play in at least two matches, should they lose their first-round match.
The cost is $25 per person, per event, and includes, in women's and in men's doubles, an Open division, and USTA levels 4.5, 4.0, 3.5, 3.0 and 2.5. The Mixed Doubles divisions include Open, 9.0, 8.0, 7.0, 6.0 and 5.0. The registration deadline is August 9. Registration can be made online at www.tuscaloosatenniscenter.com or in person at the Tuscaloosa Tennis Center.
“Indian Hills has a great tournament. NorthRiver has a great tournament. They both do a wonderful job,” Wade said, referring to the popular Pritchett-Moore Men's City Invitational, now in its 50th year and hosted by Indian Hills Country Club, and the Neptune Cup, NorthRiver Yacht Club's successful annual men's tournament. “We wanted to do one and add women to it. There are a lot of (daytime tennis) events for women who don't work, but there are not events for women who do work. We wanted to do something a little different, so, in place of men's singles, we're adding women's doubles. And then we wanted to let them play two events, so they can play in mixed doubles also. We thought women's doubles and mixed doubles would really add to the event.”
Because it's the first in what is planned to be an annual event, Wade cannot project how many participants will enter the inaugural tournament's field. He does believe it will be popular among the community, based on the interest it's already generated weeks before its start.
“Anything you do, you like to start traditions,” Wade said. “You like to build something that people will look forward to, and certainly Indian Hills and NorthRiver have done that. We want to jump in and give people another tournament to look forward to and maybe another chance to win a prize.
“We don't have a track record since this is the first, but when you consider it's for guys and girls, I would think we'll get a good turnout,” Wade said of the facility's first major tournament it has hosted since it officially opened in March. “The format is unique because you've got men's, women's and mixed. There are people that love men's and women's doubles, and we thought it would be fun to let people grab a partner and jump on out here.”
While there is an entry fee for participants, there will be no admission.
July 29th, 2015
Authorities search for teenager who ran away at gas station in Tuscaloosa - Authorities in Tuscaloosa are searching for a teenager who ran away from her mother at a gas station last week.
Aurora Belladonna Zimmer, 15, was traveling with her family from Mississippi to Tennessee and stopped in the 3900 block of McFarland Boulevard East on Friday, said Tuscaloosa Police spokesman Sgt. Brent Blankley.
The teenager has a history of running away, he said. She has bright red hair, is five feet, seven inches tall and weighs 170 pounds. Anyone with information is asked to contact TPD at 205-349-2121.
July 29th, 2015
Fashion show raising money for homeless shelter through Tracy Dent Foundation - Tracy Dent-Rivers said she's seen firsthand an increase in the number of homeless men in West Alabama.
Since 2006, the Tracy Dent Foundation has been providing housing and education for homeless men through the Dent Transitional Program.
But the program's shelter needs renovating.
The nonprofit organization will host the Community Couture Fashion Show at 6 p.m. Saturday at Hargrove Memorial United Methodist Church, 1812 Hargrove Road E, to raise money for the shelter's renovations and raise awareness about the issue of homelessness.
Tickets are $15 at the door or $10 in advance. Advance tickets can be purchased at the House of Refuge Thrift Store, 3518 Loop Road, or Catfish Heaven restaurant, 2502 21st St.
All proceeds from ticket sales and a portion of clothing sales from the 10 Alabama-based designers attending the show will go to the organization, said Kerri Ash, a spokeswoman for the event.
“The purpose is to raise funds for the renovation of the shelter where we house the young men,” Dent-Rivers said. “If we get our men stabilized, which is the head of the household, then we'll have a provider for families.”
The foundation is trying to raise $10,000, Dent-Rivers said. She said the money is needed to fix the shelter's leaky roof and purchase other building materials, including paint and flooring tiles.
The transitional shelter provides three long-term beds and one overnight bed to men ages 19 to 30.
The foundation's four-step program — stabilizing, educating, employing and permanently housing — is designed to re-establish homeless men in society.
“Our hope is that we can make a dent in homelessness in West Alabama,” Ash said.
To learn more about the Tracy Dent Foundation and its outreach programs, go to www.tracydentfoundation.pledgepage.org. To donate, mail checks to the Tracy Dent Foundation at 15769 Thomas Chapel Road, Cottondale.
July 29th, 2015
Tuscaloosa County schools' Academic Scholars program draws concerns from parents - Some parents who were hopeful about their children entering the Tuscaloosa County School System’s Academic Scholars program aren’t happy about the program’s criteria.
They say the school system has put out conflicting information about the program’s criteria and that the criteria isn’t fair.
The Academic Scholars program was started last school year as a way to offer more academically rigorous courses to high-achieving sixth-graders. The program’s purpose is to provide a framework of learning for middle school students that encourages them to become creative, critical and reflective thinkers, and ultimately prepare them to take honors and advance placement classes in high school.
The program does this by heavily utilizing technology and using hands-on, project-based learning techniques that minimize the teacher’s delivery of instruction and increase the students’ learning and understanding of a concept through the process of discovery. This method increases students’ problem solving, critical thinking skills and helps them become independent learners and thinkers who still know how to work in groups.
The program’s originally stated criteria said that students needed to have at least a B average to get into the program. Students who qualify for gifted services are automatically eligible for the program.
But when some parents tried to enter their up-coming sixth-graders into the program this year, they said they were told that their children needed to have at least a B — an 80 — in all four core subjects every single week of the nine-week grading period without one grade slipping below that. They said they also were told their children needed to make an 80 or higher on the ACT Aspire standardized test.
“Nothing was ever discussed about the standardized testing,” said Cary Booth, whose son is entering the sixth-grade at Hillcrest Middle School. “The program’s been in effect for a year, and we hear about how great and wonderful the program is and everyone is getting excited, but then days before school lets out last year, we hear what fifth-grade students aren’t getting into the program based on their ACT Aspire test scores.
“When our children were preparing to take this standardized test, we were repeatedly told that it would have no bearing on their academic record or standing, he said. “The interpretation of that was that this test would summarize what the students learned during the school year. So when it came out that part of the criteria would be based on the ACT Aspire, that’s when parents really got upset.”
Juliua Johnson, the mother of an up-coming sixth-grader at Hillcrest Middle, said her daughter has made exceptional grades in math, reading, science and social studies, but she didn’t do as well on the ACT Aspire. She said she doesn’t think it’s fair that a student can make an average of 97 in social studies and 100 in reading, but not get into the Academic Scholars program because of an ACT Aspire score that was never part of the original criteria. She said the criteria should be based on either a student’s grades or the ACT Aspire, not both.
She also said that students’ grades for the nine-week period should be averaged to determine who gets into the program.
“Do I think that because you make a 75 once during the nine weeks you should be kicked out of the program?” Johnson said. “No, I think it should be the average. A child can slip up any of the nine weeks. But my issue is the ACT Aspire test, which is a standardized test. Anytime you have to make a certain grade on a standardized test it doesn’t matter if the child is a straight A student.
“They have to make a B average, but if they don’t meet the standards on this standardized test, their straight As are null and void. My daughter made one point below 80 once. She did the hard work, but because of these standardized tests she can’t make it in?”
The Tuscaloosa County Board of Education on Monday voted 5-2 to change the program’s criteria by lowering the standardized test score needed to get into the program to a 60 in math and reading. Students’ classroom grades in the four core subjects still must be at least 80.
Swinford said she knows that’s not exactly what parents want, but she believes it meets them halfway. She said they’ll consider making other changes to the program over the course of the school year.
“In the first year of a program you always sit back and see what worked and what didn’t work,” she said. “So, we just didn’t want to make drastic changes so quickly, not until we see what results we have. That usually takes two to three years for you to really look at it.
“We thought that a 70 NPR (National Percentage Rate on the standardized test) was appropriate. So when you drop that standard to a 60 it means that 40 percent of the population is doing better than these students. It’s a big change, but we’re willing to make it for one year because we do understand that our criteria does need to change.”
Swinford said next year the program may use a standard as its criteria that factors in test scores, behavior and recommendations from teachers.
Board members Mark Nelson and James Barnett, who both voted against changing the program’s criteria, said they agree with parents that the criteria could be fairer.
“I appreciate the efforts to adjust the parameters, but given the information that’s been given out to parents in the past, there may be some confusion,” Nelson said. “I just felt like (the criteria) needs to be the average, a semester average of the students grades, and not if a student fails in one week in the nine-week period. So one bad grade in a nine-week period can knock them out.”
Barnett said using the ACT Aspire and not using the average of students grades is too much.
“Overall, I think it’s a great program, but I think (those changes) need to be added in there,” he said. “Everybody has a bad day. But if during the rest of the nine-week period you have 100s, you should be able to get in.”
Reach Jamon Smith at jamon.smith@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0204.
July 29th, 2015
Tuscaloosa considers University Boulevard facelift - By Jason Morton
Staff Writer
City officials are moving forward with a series of improvements to University Boulevard that were suggested in a study of the downtown corridor almost one year ago.
The study itself grew out of a year-old task force formed to examine ways to revamp the University Boulevard corridor between downtown and the University of Alabama.
The overall plans from this study were presented in August 2014. The study was jointly funded by the city and the university.
“It’s been sitting on a shelf because of a lack of funding,” said Councilman Matt Calderone.
On Tuesday, the City Council’s Public Projects Committee voted to move forward by examining ways to implement portions of the study that are considered to be the most important because of public safety concerns.
The first area to be considered likely will center on University Boulevard between Reed Street and Queen City Avenue, where low lighting and narrow, broken sidewalks make it hazardous for pedestrians.
“It doesn’t necessarily meet our standards for excellence,” Calderone said of this area.
At Calderone’s request, the council committee voted to allow city staff members to explore ways to improve this area.
Those improvements could cost between $1 million and $4 million, depending on the scope of the work.
The UA/Downtown Tuscaloosa Connectivity Plan relies heavily on the addition of bicycle paths on University Boulevard and other parts of downtown. The bike paths would shrink the size of the current traffic lanes, slowing vehicular traffic and creating a more pedestrian-friendly area.
Other options include re-striping as well as some level of construction, such as the installation of bike tracks — two-way bicycle paths on the sides of streets protected from cars and pedestrians by a small median and a vegetative buffer.
And the ideal plan for University Boulevard between Queen City and Gene Stallings Avenue — located just east of Reed Street — would also be the most expensive, according to the proposed plan. These upgrades would include a two-lane street, buried utility lines, expanded sidewalks, additional trees and bicycle paths on either side.
One factor in the city’s decision to move forward was the recent decision to remove state oversight to University Boulevard. An agreement recently was approved by city officials and the Alabama Department of Transportation that gives jurisdictional control over University Boulevard in this part to Tuscaloosa.
“University Boulevard no longer being designated a state highway is huge,” Calderone said. “It gives us the ability to go in and make these improvements without having to deal with the bureaucracy of state government.”
To fund the work, Calderone pointed to two recent sales of city-owned land that generated about $1.4 million in unencumbered funds for the city’s use.
Additional funds might be needed depending on the ultimate scope of the project.
Calderone said he is optimistic that the funds can be found for the project.
“I hope to get this project going as soon as possible,” he said. “It’ll transform the area.”
In addition to this area of University Boulevard, the overall study examined much of the downtown area and how it can better connect to the UA campus.
The proposal outlined options for improving traffic on campus and downtown through the implementation of altered striping on Hackberry Lane, McCorvey Drive, Marr’s Spring Road and University Boulevard as well as the expansion or alteration of the median on Greensboro Avenue.
With Lurleen Wallace Boulevard North and South, many motorists no longer rely on Greensboro Avenue to get through downtown Tuscaloosa. Rather, it’s used to get to certain destinations. By reducing this from four lanes to two, expanding the median by adding a central bicycle path and making parking on either side parallel instead of diagonal, motorists would be required to go slower and pedestrian traffic would increase, consultants have said.
And while the proposal sounded exciting to city leaders, it caused concern among residents in the area over the potential effect its full implementation would have on the downtown historic districts.
Reach Jason Morton at jason.morton@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0200.
July 29th, 2015
Nick Saban was 'not interested' in Texas job and 'never will be' - PENSACOLA, Fla. | Nick Saban coaches at Alabama. He traveled to Northwest Florida to speak to a booster club on Tuesday night.
Talk of Saban and Texas can cross state lines freely.
Saban offered slight detail about his agent Jimmy Sexton's conversations with Texas, saying Sexton called him “about 15 times” to gauge his interest in the job.
The New York Times released an excerpt Saturday from an upcoming unauthorized Saban biography by author Monte Burke that detailed his flirtation with the Texas job in 2012 and 2013.
Saban didn't reference the excerpt directly on Tuesday, but did address Texas — almost a semi-annual obligation since 2012 — when asked by moderator Jerry Pate, an Alabama alumnus and 1976 U.S. Open champion.
“I have an agent (Jimmy Sexton), which most coaches have, and when somebody is interested in you, they call your agent, which they did,” Saban said Tuesday night at the field house at the University of West Florida. “The agent calls you, and you tell the agent 'I'm interested' or 'I'm not interested.' So (Sexton) called me about 15 times about Texas, and every time he called I said I'm not interested in talking to them, and I never will be. That's the story. He did his job, I did my job.”
The excerpt does not quote Saban or Sexton, and it does not specifically mention any direct conversations between Saban and anyone involved with Texas or its football program. It does detail several of Sexton's conversations with people around the UT program until Saban's contract extension with Alabama was signed in December of 2013, falling somewhat in line with Saban's explanation about Sexton's constant gauging.
That wasn't the only opportunity for Saban to clear the air.
During SEC Media Days, Saban reiterated his stance that the NFL should push the date college underclassmen receive their draft evaluations back until after the college season ends to not cause a distraction as players prepare for upcoming bowl games.
“So we're trying to get ready for a game, and all of a sudden, a guy finds out he's a first round draft pick or a guy that thought he was a first round draft pick finds out he's not a first round draft pick, and we're trying to get ready to play a playoff game,” Saban said at SEC Media Days in Hoover on July 15. “I think that it would be better not to submit that information to a player until he was finished competing in college.”
Some media outlets criticized Saban for using the distraction as an explanation for his team's 42-35 loss to Ohio State in the College Football Playoff semifinal.
“All of a sudden, it's an excuse for losing to Ohio State. Where it came from, I don't know,” Saban said Tuesday. “But it had nothing to do with it.
“(Moving the evaluation reports back) is still how I feel, and I think it would be better for the game and I think more coaches will see it that way when they have more players involved in the draft.
“It's a philosophical thing for me, it's not going to change. I'm probably going to keep saying what I think, and I'm probably going to keep getting criticized or something is going to be made of it.”
July 29th, 2015
Miss Tuscaloosa and Miss Tuscaloosa's Outstanding Teen named in pageant - Jessica Procter was crowned Miss Tuscaloosa, and Sydney Sims was crowned Miss Tuscaloosa’s Outstanding Teen on July 18.
Procter, 20, is a sophomore at the University of Alabama. She received a $1,000 cash scholarship for UA and more than $8,000 in gifts and awards.
A Tuscaloosa native, she volunteers her time gathering canned goods for the West Alabama Food Bank and promoting her fighting hunger platform, “Step Up to the Plate.”
Sims, 16, is a sophomore at Springville High School in Springville. She received more than $6,000 in gifts and awards.
She promotes her platform, “Know Your Worth,” as a motivational speaker to youth in Alabama schools, encouraging self-esteem.
The Miss Tuscaloosa pageant is a preliminary to the Miss Alabama pageant. Procter will represent Tuscaloosa at the pageant in June 2016.
The Miss Tuscaloosa’s Outstanding Teen pageant is a preliminary to the Miss Alabama’s Outstanding Teen Pageant. Sims will represent Tuscaloosa at the pageant in March 2016.
July 29th, 2015
Man caught after chase and charged with capital murder - A man suspected of killing two men in Bibb County on Monday was captured in Tuscaloosa after a police pursuit that ended in a student apartment complex.
Manley Deontay Bray, 21, is charged with capital murder and is being held on no bond at the Bibb County Jail.
He is suspected of fatally shooting Tevin Rutledge, 19, of Brent, and Lequan Dalon Clayton, 27, of Centreville. The victims were found a few miles apart in a residential area of Brent.
A passerby noticed Rutledge lying on the ground near an Alabama Power substation in Brent. Police arrived at 4:30 p.m. Monday and called a medical helicopter that took the victim to UAB Hospital in Birmingham, where he was pronounced dead.
Clayton was found on a road about 2 or 3 miles away between 2 and 2:30 a.m. Tuesday, Nichols said. He also had been shot.
Bray was captured after leading police on a chase that exceeded 100 miles per hour in residential areas of Tuscaloosa late Monday, said Sgt. Brent Blankley, a Tuscaloosa Police spokesman. The pursuit ended after the suspect and a passenger jumped from the car and tried to hide in a creek.
It began when a Tuscaloosa Police officer attempted to pull over a 2008 GMC Yukon for not yielding to a fire engine with emergency lights activated near Loop Road and Cherokee Hills. The pursuit went north along Loop Road to Veterans Memorial Parkway, University Boulevard and back west to 26th Avenue East. The driver made a U-turn and headed back toward Hargrove Road and pulled into The Woodlands complex just off McFarland Boulevard.
Tuscaloosa Police officers and Tuscaloosa County sheriff’s deputies set up a perimeter around the complex and quickly caught the vehicle’s passenger after a foot chase, Blankley said.
A police tracking dog found Bray submerged in a creek that runs through the complex, with only his head out of the water.
Special agents with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency responded and arrested Bray. The second man was questioned but released when it was determined he had no involvement in the crimes, according to a release sent by ALEA on Tuesday.
“SBI (State Bureau of Investigation) agents worked closely with local enforcement agencies and were able to apprehend the subject within hours of the murders,” Secretary of Law Enforcement Spencer Collier said in the release.
Reach Stephanie Taylor at stephanie.taylor@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0210.
July 29th, 2015
Man who has been deported 6 times arrested in Mississippi - GULFPORT, Miss. | Federal court documents show a man deported to Mexico six times has been found in the United States without permission again, this time after an arrest in Gautier.
Records in U.S. District Court in Gulfport show Ramon Benitez-Mendoza, 41, of Mexico, was indicted this past week on a charge of illegal re-entry by an aggravated felon. He is held without bond pending further court action.
The (Biloxi) Sun Herald reported that Benitez-Mendoza was arrested by Gautier police Jan. 30 on charges of disorderly conduct and failure to comply with law enforcement. He was convicted March 2. He was at the Jackson County jail when he was ordered held for Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Gulfport.
Court papers show he has used at least 13 aliases, but he was identified through fingerprints.
He was first deported Aug. 6, 2004, after conviction in Taney County, Mo., on charges of stealing and felony forgery, an indictment said.
Most recently, he was deported June 20, 2014, after serving 41 months in a federal prison for an immigration violation prosecuted in Indiana.
A criminal complaint said his convictions include possession of false information in Elko, Nev., in 1994; felony forgery in Spokane, Wash., in 1995; felony drug possession in Los Angeles in 1998; and felony forgery in Independence, Ark., in 2003.
July 29th, 2015
Summer reading goes wild - 30345
July 29th, 2015
Tuscaloosa City Council action from July 28 - The Tuscaloosa City Council took the following action at its Tuesday night meeting:
Voted to withdraw, at the request of the Office of the City Attorney, a decision on whether to approve Section 17-97 of the Code of Tuscaloosa (Tabled June 30 and June 2).
Declared property surplus and authorized its disposal.
Authorized request for street lighting system modifications.
Approved request and agreement for water service to Airgas/Nucor ASU facility water main extension; total: $79,271.93.
Granted permit for Airgas Merchant Gases to construct water lines for Airgas/Nucor ASU facility water main extension.
Approved request and agreement for water service to Murphy Place Phase 4, water main extension; total: $49,557.51.
Granted permit for MB Development LLC to construct water lines for Murphy Place Phase 4, water main extension.
Set August 11 as the date for public hearing to consider approval of the development plan for the Regent Club Hotel on the Black Warrior River, a Riverfront Zoning District Development.
Authorized change order No. 5 for Fire Station No. 4; deductive total: $1,575.
Authorized payment to Melvin L. Sellers in settlement of claim; total: $763.70.
Authorized change order No. 2 for City-Wide Home Project Repair Group Project 2014; total: $1,800.
Authorized change order No. 3 for City-Wide Home Repair Group Project 2014; total: $1,450.
Rescinded a previous resolution for approved request and agreement for water service to Airgas/Nucor ASU facility water main extension.
Rescinded a previous resolution for authorized purchase of equipment/supplies/services.
Authorized execution of an agreement between the city and Alabama Power Co. for an underground sanitary sewer line to cross an Alabama Power Co. easement for the Lift Station 21 Upper Section Sanitary Sewer Improvements.
Authorized a contract with Xylem Water Solutions USA Inc. and declaring a bid law exception pursuant to Alabama Code § 41-16-51(b)(7); total: $30,000.
Authorized amendment No. 5 to the contract with McGiffert and Associates LLC for engineering and related services for the Train Trestle Sewer Improvements Project; total increase in compensation: $16,690.49.
Authorized execution of a utility service transmission line easement to Alabama Power Co. for the south Tuscaloosa transmission line through Bowers Park between Bowers Park and Idlewood subdivision.
Authorized execution of an underground utility service easement to Alabama Power Co. for the new Harmon Park Pavilion.
Authorized the mayor to execute all close-out documents necessary for AIP Grant 3-01-0072-028-2012.
Authorized the purchase of equipment/supplies/services for the Tuscaloosa Police Department from Trailer Store Plus LLC; total: $9,320.
Authorized the transfer of funds from the tourism bid fee fund to the city’s general fund; total: $200,000.
Authorized the mayor to execute a development agreement with RV Hotel Owner LLC to provide economic development assistance for the construction of an Indigo brand hotel.
Authorized execution of an easement by the city and the Tuscaloosa City Board of Education for a joint access ingress/egress easement for the “school board property.”
Authorized the mayor to execute a support letter to the Tuscaloosa Housing Authority in regard to the disposition of the Robertson Tower property.
Authorized the Office of Federal Programs to submit the 2015 City of Tuscaloosa Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice to HUD and authorize the mayor to execute all certifications and documents required in relation to the submission of this report.
Authorized an amendment to the funding agreement with Habitat for Humanity Tuscaloosa for the construction of an additional home at 23 Juanita Drive.
Authorized the mayor to execute a permit agreement to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for construction of a commemorative mile marker at River Walk.
Adopted a resolution approving the establishment of right-of-way along the south margin of Hargrove Road between 16th Avenue and 17th Avenue.
Adopted a resolution authorizing the binding coverage and payment of premium for certain insurance coverage; total: $5,359.36.
Adopted a resolution expressing the city of Tuscaloosa intent and offer of extension to renew and extend the franchise agreement with NorthStar EMS for an additional two years.
Appointed and reappointed members to various boards.
Authorized the payment of bills; total: $9,186.06.
July 29th, 2015
Former Alabama school superintendent Wayne Teague dies - MONTGOMERY | Alabama's longest-serving state school superintendent has died.
Retired state superintendent Wayne Teague served as head of the Alabama Department of Education for 20 years before leaving the job in 1995.
Teague died Sunday at his home in Auburn. He was 87.
Teague worked as a teacher, coach, administrator and local superintendent in Alabama and Georgia before taking over the state's top job in 1975. The Cullman native led the state system through a period that included school desegregation and increased emphasis on student testing.
The family hasn't released a cause of death.
Teague is survived by his wife and two children. A memorial service is planned for Tuesday afternoon at Auburn United Methodist Church.
July 29th, 2015
Hotel Indigo gets incentives approval at Tuscaloosa council meeting - The Tuscaloosa City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved an economic incentive package for the construction of a downtown boutique hotel.
The incentives will range between $1.5 and $1.7 million, depending on the development’s performance.
Funded with rebates from lodging taxes and non-school related property taxes, the incentives will help
finance the proposed Hotel Indigo, which is expected to cost between $17 million and $20 million to build,
according to its developers.
The hotel, planned for the end of Greensboro Avenue on the northwest corner of Riverfront Village, is expected to have 91 rooms and five floors. It will include a rooftop lounge with an outdoor veranda and a restaurant and market on the first floor for the general public and hotel guests.
— Jason Morton
July 29th, 2015
Ex-inmate in Alabama says prison guards used python to terrify him - OZARK | A former inmate said sheriff’s deputies used a python to intimidate and harass the inmates inside an Alabama county jail, which terrified him.
In a federal lawsuit filed Monday in Montgomery, Trawick Redding Jr. said he saw two deputies in the jail with a yellow Burmese python around 6 to 7 feet long in the summer of 2013. He said he told the deputies he was afraid of snakes.
Redding said that several hours later, as he was sleeping in his bunk, a deputy entered his room with a snake. He said in the lawsuit the deputy brought the snake “within less than an inch of his face and ready to strike.”
Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson told WSFA-TV that two deputies were terminated after he learned of the matter.
July 29th, 2015
"The Lorax" to be shown Friday at Tuscaloosa's Curry building - "The Green Scene," a free summer movie series at Tuscaloosa's Environmental Services Department, will continue at 1 p.m. Friday with a showing of "The Lorax."
Deidre Stalnaker, media relations coordinator for the city of Tuscaloosa, said the movies chosen for the series are meant to raise awareness about the importance of protecting the environment.
"The Lorax," based on the book by Dr. Seuss, is about a 12-year-old boy who discovers a grumpy but charming creature who speaks for the trees.
The animated movie, rated PG, will be shown at the city's Richard A. Curry Jr. Complex at 3440 Kauloosa Ave.
Attendees will receive a free bag of popcorn and refreshments provided by Coca-Cola. Tours of the city's recycling plant will be offered after each movie.
The movie series will wrap up Aug. 7 with "Toy Story 3."
For more information, call Tuscaloosa 311 at 248-5311 or the Environmental Services Department at 248-4900.
July 29th, 2015
Alabama driver's license renewal going digital - MONTGOMERY | The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency says it has taken steps to address long license renewal lines by upgrading and modernizing the state’s driver's license system.
The agency evaluated state departments and found that the licensing system was in need of an overhaul, Alabama Secretary of Law Enforcement Spencer Collier said.
“Throughout the transition process, we examined the core functions of each legacy agency and determined the Driver License system was inefficient and archaic,” Collier said in a release.
Officials say upgrades to the system include: online appointment scheduling; an online driver’s license renewal option; self-serve license renewal kiosks; updated computer testing stations; and digital licenses that smartphone users can show as a secure form of identification.
The digital licenses will be considered a valid form of ID for drivers who are pulled over by police, said Alabama Law Enforcement Agency spokeswoman Anna Morris.
Drivers who chose to renew their licenses online are asked to print a temporary version to carry with them until the replacement arrives.
Aside from streamlining the renewal process for customers, Collier said the upgrades will also save the state money.
“This should reduce the amount of examiners that we need, in saying that, we can’t go any lower than we already are as far as personnel,” Al.com quoted Collier as saying.
July 29th, 2015
Man tries to rob bank in Pickens County - Pickens County Sheriff’s deputies are searching for a man who tried to rob the West Alabama Bank in Ethelsville Tuesday morning.
The man entered the bank on Main Street at 9 a.m., indicated he had a weapon and demanded money, according to a release from Pickens County Sheriff David Abston.
“Upon realizing the bank employees refusal to cooperate the man began threatening to shoot the place up and reached into his pants as if reaching for a weapon,” Abston said in the release.
The man became alarmed, Abston said, and left the bank.
Anyone who recognizes the man is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Office at 367-2000.
July 29th, 2015
New restaurant coming to Shoppes at Legacy Park in Tuscaloosa - Nothing But Noodles has been announced as the latest restaurant addition to the Shoppes at Legacy Park shopping center.
The restaurant will fill an approximately 4,200-square-foot area and feature an outdoor dining area in the shopping center that remains under construction at the intersection of 13th Street and McFarland Boulevard.
According to a press release announcing the restaurant, Nothing But Noodles serves a variety of salads and wok-seared noodle and pasta dishes with Asian, European, Mediterranean and American influences.
The Shoppes at Legacy Park will be the fourth Nothing But Noodles location in Alabama.
July 29th, 2015
Aston Martin looking globally for plant site - Aston Martin is considering at least 10 sites around the world for a second auto plant, according to Automotive News Europe.
The auto-industry trade publication reported Tuesday that sites in the United States, Europe and elsewhere are under review.
Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer had said this spring that the company is considering locations in the United Kingdom and United States and called Alabama the “obvious choice” for a new plant to build the company’s new DBX crossover.
Palmer said he liked Alabama because Aston Martin’s industrial partner and part owner, Daimler, has its Mercedes-Benz plant in Vance. Daimler will be supplying engines and electronics for the DBX. The company plans to make around 3,000 DBX vehicles annually.
Aston Martin makes about 4,000 high-performance luxury autos at its sole factory in Gaydon, England, which has no room for expansion.
Automotive News Europe noted that last week, British Prime Minister David Cameron told BBC News that the British government has offered Aston Martin a former air force hangar in Wales for production of the vehicle.
The Finanical Times, meanwhile, reported last week that Aston Martin’s board will consider the options for the new plant at its meeting in October.
July 28th, 2015
Business Diversity Summit is Aug. 13 - A Small Business Diversity Summit will be held Aug. 13 at University Church of Christ, 1200 Julia Tutwiler Drive, Tuscaloosa.
The summit will be from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and is being sponsored by the Minority Business Council of West Alabama, which is a committee of the Chamber
of Commerce of West Alabama.
The summit is designed for start-ups, new and existing, small businesses and minority and women-owned businesses. It will include panel discussions on financing and loan programs and contracting opportunities as well as workshops and a vendor expo.
The keynote speaker will be John Stallworth, a Tuscaloosa native who played 14 seasons with the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers. He is now entrepreneur and philanthropist.
Cost for the conference, which includes a continental breakfast and lunch is $25 until Aug. 3 and $35 afterward. To register or get more info, contact Carolyn Tubbs at carolyn@tuscaloosachamber.com or 391-0556. A registration form is available at www.tuscaloosachamber.com (see the Quicklinks area at the bottom of the homepage).
Cost for a vendor booth at the expo is $150, including lunch for two until Aug. 3 and $250 afterward.
July 28th, 2015
Guards to be placed at military recruitment centers - MONTGOMERY | Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has ordered armed national guardsmen to be stationed at military recruitment centers.
Bentley's spokeswoman Jennifer Ardis said in an email that the governor met with National Guard leadership on Monday. Ardis said specific details of the plan won't be released because of potential security risks.
Bentley's decision comes after four military personnel were killed July 16 when a man opened fire at two military facilities in Chattanooga, Tenn., before being killed by police.
July 28th, 2015
Suspect in double homicide caught - A man suspected of killing two men in Bibb County on Monday was captured in Tuscaloosa after a police pursuit that ended in a student apartment complex.
The man is being held at the Bibb County Jail and has not yet been charged, said Brent Police Chief Terry Nichols.
He is suspected of fatally shooting two men, 19 and 27, who were found a few miles apart in the Brent area on Monday.
Their names have not yet been released.
A passerby noticed the 19-year-old victim lying on the ground near an Alabama Power substation in a residential area of Brent. Police arrived at 4:30 p.m. and called a medical helicopter that took the victim to UAB Hospital in Birmingham, where he was pronounced dead.
The second victim, 27, was found on a road about two or three miles away between 2 and 2:30 a.m., Nichols said. He had also been shot.
The suspect was captured after leading police on a chase that exceeded 100 miles per hour in residential areas of Tuscaloosa late Monday, said Sgt. Brent Blankley, a Tuscaloosa police spokesman. The pursuit ended after the suspect jumped from his car and tried to hide in a creek.
It began when a TPD officer attempted to pull over a 2008 GMC Yukon for not yielding to a fire engine with emergency lights activated at near Loop Road and Cherokee Hills. The pursuit went north along Loop Road to Veterans Memorial Parkway, University Boulevard and back west to 26th Avenue East. The driver made a U-turn and headed back toward Hargrove Road and pulled into The Woodlands complex just off McFarland Boulevard.
TPD officers and Tuscaloosa County sheriff's deputies set up a perimeter around the complex and quickly caught the vehicle's passenger after a foot chase, Blankley said.
A police tracking dog found the driver submerged in a creek that runs through the complex, with only his head out of the water.
Investigators with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency responded and arrested both men. They haven't been charged in Bibb or Tuscaloosa county as of Tuesday morning.
July 28th, 2015
Governor Bentley offers reward in fatal hit-and-run - Gov. Robert Bentley has offered a $5,000 reward for information about a fatal hit-and-run.
Sara Renee Tonnemacher, 25, was killed on the night of June 3 as she rode a bicycle on Alabama Highway 216.
Alabama Law Enforcement Agency state troopers believe she was struck by someone driving a 1994 to 1997 GMC white pickup or SUV.
The accident happened at 11:50 p.m. on a Wednesday night near mile marker 21. Troopers say that the vehicle likely has a damaged front headlight.
July 28th, 2015
PARA to hold public meeting Thursday - The Tuscaloosa County Park and Recreation Authority will hold a community meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday at the McDonald Hughes Community Center, 3101 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
PARA will present plans for the construction of a new safe room and renovation plans for the Hughes center.
The meeting is free and open to the public.
July 28th, 2015
Mayor Maddox to hold town hall meeting Thursday - Mayor Walt Maddox's will hold a town hall meeting Thursday for residents of District 6.
The meeting, part of the "Mayor's Night Out" series held in all seven of the city of Tuscaloosa's voting districts, will begin at 5:15 p.m. Thursday at the McAbee Center, 3801 Loop Road.
Other meetings have featured a meet-and-greet session from 5 to 5:15 p.m., followed by a short presentation about the district until about 5:30 p.m. After that, a question-and- answer session is held.
The District 7 town hall meeting is scheduled for Aug. 20 at Holy Spirit Catholic School, 711 James I. Harrison Jr. Parkway.
For more information, call Tuscaloosa 311 at 248-5311.
July 28th, 2015
County BOE approves dress code for school staff - The Tuscaloosa County Board of Education on Monday approved a new dress code policy for teachers, administrators and office staff.
Before Monday's meeting, the county school system did not have a dress code policy for employees.
"I think it's very important to make sure teachers look like the professionals that they are," said the Rev. Schmitt Moore, a school board member. "We want them to be comfortable, but we want the professional appearance to be there and we want our children to know what a professional looks like. At the end of the day, I think it will be very positive for our children to see an appropriate dress code for our teachers."
Superintendent Elizabeth Swinford said the employee dress code is similar to the dress code that's required of students.
Employees can wear slacks, cargo pants, khakis, collared shirts, buttoned-down shirts, capri pants, sweaters and cardigans. Clothing like jeans — with no holes — and Bermuda shorts can be worn only if the principal of the school where the employee works says it's OK.
Clothing that is not acceptable includes tank tops, sleeveless shirts, mesh or see-through clothes, muscle shirts, shorts and flip-flops.
"The teachers pretty much abide by (the code) already, so there's not going to be a lot of adjustment for our teachers," Swinford said. "The student dress code is our guide. The only thing is students can come with Bermuda shorts, but teachers can't use them unless they're PE teachers. But the discretion is up to the principal.
"So if they're going on a field trip or something like that, it would be up to the principal. We're happy with that and we don't want to take that away from the principals. We do have an expectation that they dress professionally. That's all we want."
Physical education teachers and coaches are allowed to wear sweatpants, exercise pants, wind pants and sneakers. They can also wear other clothing that's appropriate for their job as long as the clothing doesn't display potentially offensive logos or symbols.
Reach Jamon Smith at jamon.smith@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0204.
July 28th, 2015
Bentley appointed to vice chair of the National Governors Association's education and workforce committee - Gov. Robert Bentley has been named vice chair of the National Governors Association's education and workforce committee.
"Alabama has made significant strides in preparing students for success in college and their careers. As governors, we are uniquely positioned to influence federal legislation and regulations that affect education and workforce policies," Bentley said in a news release. "I look forward to sharing Alabama's success in the area of workforce development with other governors."
Bentley was appointed Saturday by Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, chair of the National Governors Association, and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, the association's vice chair, during the association's summer conference in West Virginia.
July 28th, 2015
Tuscaloosa County aims to expand recycling efforts - Tuscaloosa County will soon expand its recycling program in the unincorporated areas of the county with the help of a recent grant from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.
The county will receive two new recycling trailers and will distribute small recycling bins at two county schools, said Jim Patrie, solid waste director for Tuscaloosa County. The new trailers will be added to the four trailers now in use for recycling drop-off that were awarded as part of ADEM's recycling fund grant in 2014.
The county's drop-off recycling program has been a success, particularly the trailers at the Bobby Miller Activity Center in Taylorville and the Faucett Brothers Activity Center near Northport, Patrie said. Those trailers are emptied about twice a week.
"We are really happy with all of that," Patrie said.
"ADEM likes what we are doing here, so we got funded really well adding the new trailers at no cost," he told the Tuscaloosa County Commission last week.
The county has not yet decided where the two new trailers will be placed, although they will go in the unincorporated areas of the county, Patrie said. The smaller recycling bins and carts that will also be paid for by the grant will be placed at two county schools for use by classrooms, although it's not yet known which schools will get them.
"Tentatively, we are planning to put the little bins in each classroom so that the teachers can reinforce recycling," Patrie said.
ADEM awarded $154,000 to the West Alabama Recycling Partnership last week, which Tuscaloosa County is a part of.
The county's portion of the grant is $49,000. Other recipients in the partnership include:
- The city of Tuscaloosa, which is getting $14,000.
- The University of Alabama, which is getting $51,000.
- Shelton State Community College, which will get $19,000.
- The Tuscaloosa County Park and Recreation Authority, which will get $840.
The city of Tuscaloosa will use its money for a glass drop-off trailer and decals, said Deidre Stalnaker, spokeswoman for the city. The city recently began offering glass recycling. The glass can be pulverized into pellets or sand to be used for other purposes. It's not yet decided where the glass drop-off trailer will be placed, Stalnaker said.
"We will also be repairing a recycle trailer that was severely damaged in the tornado," Stalnaker said.
Other grant purchases include a cargo van and desk-side recycling bins by UA and recycling trailers, recycling bins and bags by Shelton State Community College.
Reach Lydia Seabol Avant at lydia.seabolavant@tuscaloosa news.com or 205-722-0222.
July 28th, 2015
Deontay Wilder fight set for Sept. 26 - Deontay Wilder took the month of July off for a well-deserved vacation this summer after the first six months of 2015 saw him win the World Boxing Council heavyweight championship and then defend it in his home state.
But Wilder’s respite is coming to an end, as the Bronze Bomber is slated to be back in the ring Sept. 26 for another title defense. The location of the fight and his opponent have yet to be determined.
“That’s the date,” Wilder’s co-manager Jay Deas said. “We’re looking forward to it.”
Wilder will do media in New York City this weekend as part of pre-fight coverage of the Danny Garcia vs. Paulie Malignaggi bout scheduled for Saturday. Wilder then returns to Tuscaloosa, where he’ll begin his training camp Aug. 4.
“The first week we’ll just sharpen up a little bit and then immediately begin flying sparring partners in,” Deas said.
While there is no opponent as of yet, WBC rules mandate that Wilder fight a top 15 ranked boxer. Deas said they’ll bring in sparring partners anywhere from 6-foot-3 to 6-4 and from 225 pounds to 240.
Published reports have mentioned Andrzej Wawrzyk (30-1) of Poland and Chris Arreola (36-4-1) of Escondido, Calif., as possible opponents for Wilder’s next fight. Wawrzyk fought on July 21 for the first time in more than a year, knocking out Patryk Kowoll in two rounds in Poland. Wawrzyk had been out due to injuries sustained in an auto accident.
Arreola fought to a draw with Fred Kassi on July 18. He lost to Bermane Stiverne in 2014 in a bout for the vacant WBC championship, which Wilder won from Stiverne.
“Until we get a definitive opponent, we’ll get guys that we know will give Deontay good work, guys we’ve worked with before,” Deas said. “As soon as hear a definitive opponent we’ll begin tailoring the sparring partners.”
Deas said the two latest fight destination he’s heard are Brooklyn, N.Y. or Las Vegas.
Reach Aaron Suttles at aaron.suttles@tuscaloosanews.com or at 205-722-0229.
July 28th, 2015
Woman arrested in 20-year-old cold case disappearance - BIRMINGHAM, Ala. | Birmingham police said an arrest has been made in a 20-year-old cold case that is now being classified as a homicide.
Police said in a statement Monday that 40-year-old Tricia Abney is being held without bond at the Jefferson County Jail in the death of 23-year-old Justin Barnett.
Authorities said Barnett was 23 when he went missing in June 1995 and investigators in January got new information in the case that led them to Abney. Additional details on the investigation weren’t immediately available.
Police said cold case detectives showed their findings to the county district attorney’s office and Abney was arrested without incident and charged with capital murder. Court records don’t show an attorney listed for her.
July 27th, 2015
Montgomery declared No. 1 city with the most sexually transmitted diseases - MONTGOMERY | Montgomery is the most sexually diseased city in the nation.
It ranks higher than larger cities such as Philadelphia, Baltimore and New Orleans.
The rankings use 2013 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that was compiled by rent-application.com and released this week.
The study reflects reports of syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia. Herpes data is not collected. To normalize the data, rates were measured per 100,000 people, and cities with a significant amount of population were chosen. Rural counties weren't included.
"It's pretty sobering to look at those three as a total," said Tom Miller, chief medical officer for the Alabama Department of Public Health. "When we check numbers and try to get to the same point as was reported in this (ranking), we think the numbers are in the ballpark in terms of the numbers cited for Montgomery.
"The take home here is that with 2014 data, Montgomery will look a whole lot different. The caveat there is that if other cities see the same downward trend, it wouldn't make a difference in our rankings."
Montgomery had 4,371 reported cases of STDs, according to the CDC.
The total number of diseases per 100,000 is 1,899.20. Following Montgomery is St. Louis, which had 1,867.54 reported cases per 100,000, and, with a population of only 25,545, West Memphis, Arkansas, ranked third, with 1,717.20 reported cases per 100,000.
Several in the top 10 are in the southern region of the U.S., including New Orleans, Killeen, Texas, and Fayetteville, North Carolina. And, in the top 10 list, data includes three cities which have large military populations: Norfolk Naval Base in Norfolk, Virginia; Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas; and Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, N.C.
They took the fifth, ninth and 10th spots, respectively.
Montgomery, with a population of 201,332, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, was reported to have the following cases, per 100,000:
Chlamydia: 3,039
Gonorrhea: 1,309
Syphilis: 23
Total STDs reported: 4,371
Miller, who doesn't readily recall a time the city was No. 1 in the rankings for Sexually Transmitted Diseases, believes there is a balance between the diseases coming from both transients and those from the Montgomery area.
"It's difficult to quantify how much is contributed by specific groups," he said.
Statewide, the 2013 numbers from the CDC aren't much better. Alabama ranks third in chlamydia cases, with 611 cases per 100,000, or 29,464. The state ranks second in gonorrhea cases, with 173.7 cases per 100,000 reported, or 8,377. The only exception was primary and secondary syphilis, in which the state is ranked 23rd with 183 cases, or 3.8 cases per 100,000.
"Obviously, we stay at the wrong end of the state rankings," Miller said.
In 2013, the state implemented the CDC's Expedited Partner Therapy model for chlamydia and trichomonas, which is the clinical practice of treating the sex partners of patients diagnosed with chlamydia or gonorrhea by providing prescriptions or medications to the patient to take to his/her partner without the health care provider first examining the partner.
"In reality, a lot of people aren't going to name names," Miller said. "EPT allows us to give educational material and the actual medication for the individual to take to his or her partners. We believe that has made a difference."
Jefferson Underwood, a Montgomery physician, and a regular contributor to the Advertiser, stated in an April 22, 2014, column that vaccines available to prevent certain types of STDs include vaccinations for hepatitis A and hepatitis B as well as HPV, or the human papilloma virus.
Individuals who really should consider this type of vaccination, he stated, are men who have sex with other men, IV drug users and those who have chronic liver disease.
Education and counseling are the cornerstones of STD prevention, he wrote. In addition, identification of asymptomatic individuals who are infected but not seeking treatment also will be enhanced through awareness.
Emerging treatments include pre-exposure vaccinations. These are intended for persons at risk for sexually transmitted diseases which can possibly be prevented through vaccinations.
Short of abstinence, safe sex has been defined as having mutual monogamy, which means you agree to be sexually active with only one person who is only having sex with you and no one else. Also, barrier contraceptives such as latex condoms are advised.
July 27th, 2015
Reform man killed in weekend wreck at University Boulevard, Lurleen Wallace intersection - A Reform man was killed early Saturday morning when his motorcycle struck an SUV at the intersection of Lurleen Wallace Boulevard North and University Boulevard.
The man, 55, was driving a 2003 Honda Gold Wing and was heading toward Northport from downtown Tuscaloosa, said Sgt. Brent Blankley, Tuscaloosa police spokesman.
He ran through a red light and struck the driver's side door of a 2008 Toyota 4Runner that was heading west on University Boulevard, Blankley said.
The accident happened at 12:10 a.m.
The victim was pronounced dead at the scene. His name had not been released as of Monday.
Two occupants of the 4Runner were taken to DCH Regional Medical Center, Blankley said. Their conditions were not available Monday.
July 27th, 2015
Church leaders preach collaboration - Churches can have a positive impact on their communities, but it takes partnerships and collaboration — one church cannot go it alone, according to a panel of speakers at a faith-based conference Monday at the Bryant Conference Center at the University of Alabama.
The conference, “Achieving Excellence Through Communal Empowerment and Creative Collaboration” focused on how churches and organizations can come together to improve people’s lives.
“We all have a part in this,” said Brooks Mouchette of Unity Tuscaloosa. “It takes more than one church in a community. We are all in this together.”
While there are some good partnerships already in West Alabama between churches, organizations and city officials, there is also a lot of duplication too between faith-based groups, said the Rev. Jessie White of Trinity Baptist Church.
“We have some of the work going on that is being duplicated,” White said. “We talk about coming together, but we aren’t coming together. Sometimes we are in the same community doing the same work at the same time. That’s not unity.”
Collaboration is needed when it comes to working on bigger issues in the community, added the Rev. Lou Ann Sellers of First Presbyterian Church.
“It’s arrogance thinking that you can do it alone,” Sellers said.
Besides collaboration, it’s also important that churches get outside their walls and build relationships with the people they are helping, on their turf, the panel said. To do so, pastors must lead by example. It’s also important that churches focus on segments of the population who are “invisible” — including those living in poverty, immigrants and non-English speakers, they said.
“We as Americans have to become aware what life is like for each of those, including those who are invisible in our communities,” Sellers said.
The conference will continue today with speakers that include the Rev. Dennis Taylor, president of the Tuscaloosa Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, Abraham Smith, professor at Southern Methodist University, Judge Agnes Chappell of Birmingham Municipal Court and Ben Sciacca, executive director of the Restoration Academy in Birmingham.
Other issues to be discussed include the role of the faith community in health, education and the arts, courts and law enforcement, employment, poverty and hunger.
The conference was planned by Rev. Tyshaw Gardner, pastor of Plum Grove Baptist Church, Joseph Scrivner of Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church.
Today’s event will be from 8a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Bryant Conference Center, 240 Paul W. Bryant Drive. There is a $25 registration fee to attend.
Reach Lydia Seabol Avant at Lydia.SeabolAvant@TuscaloosaNews.com or 205-722-0222.
July 27th, 2015
Deputies seize two pounds of meth - Sheriff’s officials in the Birmingham area confiscated more than two pounds of methamphetamine they say has a street value of nearly $100,000. 30321
July 27th, 2015
Inmate escapes from Elmore prison - Alabama prison officials say they’re searching for an inmate who escaped from the Draper Correctional Facility in Elmore. 30320
July 27th, 2015
UWA approves tuition increase - 30319
July 27th, 2015
"Sounds of Motown" - The Whispers, The Spinners and The Manhattans will perform at 7 p.m. Sept. 25 at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater.
Tickets for the show, packaged as "Sounds of Motown," go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday (July 31) through Ticketmaster or at the Amphitheater box office, for $25, $49.50 and $59.50.
The Spinners have scored hits including "Then Came You," "One of a Kind (Love Affair)," "Rubberband Man," "I'll Be Around," "Could It Be I'm Falling in Love" and more. The Whispers' hits include "Rock Steady" and "And the Beat Goes On." Among The Manhattans' biggest songs are "Kiss and Say Goodbye" and "Shining Star."
Doors will open at 6 p.m. for the Friday Sept. 25 show.
July 27th, 2015
Eagles' Wings to host first-ever Shrimpfest to raise funds for residential home - Eagles' Wings is beginning its journey to develop a community for adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities.
The organization is raising funds to build its first residential home on its 96-acre property in Coker where its 7,200-square-foot building, which is used for a day habilitation program, opened in November 2013.
To help make the residential home a reality, the inaugural Eagles' Wings Shrimpfest & Bar-B-Q fundraiser will be held along Main Avenue and First Street in historic downtown Northport on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Adult meal tickets are $20, adult meal tickets with a chance to win $10,000 are $50, and kids meal tickets are $10. The ticket provides access to the event, which includes food, live music, the Cruisin' Car Show, discounts at some downtown businesses during the event and bouncy houses and a rock-climbing wall for kids.
Tickets can be purchased at multiple Northport businesses or by calling Eagles' Wings at 345-5484.
"The money we raise is going toward building a home for adults there with developmental disabilities," said April Blount, event coordinator.
Each home will cost about $300,000 and will be equipped to house four adults with developmental disabilities and a house parent, said Jerry Pike, president, CEO and board chairman of Eagles' Wings. He said each client's bedroom will be designed like a suite with sitting areas for family visits and have its own private bathroom.
Pike said the long-term goal of the organization is to expand to a community of 16 houses in addition to activity and vocational centers, which will allow the organization to accept more clients.
Eagles' Wings, founded in 2005, is a nonprofit organization that provides day habilitation services for 26 adults age 21 to late 50s who have intellectual and physical disabilities, including those who are medically fragile.
Pike said he and his wife, Sandra, founded the organization because of their son's need for an organization that offered medical assistance in addition to services for adults with developmental disabilities.
Their son, Joey, was diagnosed with an intellectual and physical disability called Marshall-Smith syndrome and wasn't expected to live past age 3 or 4, Pike said. He turned 30 in April.
"The individuals we serve at Eagle's Wings have developmental and intellectual disabilities," Pike said. "A lot of these individuals' parents are in their 70s and 80s. That's the (reason) their parents want them in this program — (so they can be cared for) when they're gone."
He said that is why he and his wife decided to expand Eagles' Wings' services to include a residential habilitation program in addition to the day habilitation program.
"They'll have a home of their own and be well taken care of and be in a safe environment. Being with their peers, they're very happy. The main goal is for them to be safe and happy."
Businesses selling tickets and offering discounts:
Gracefully Done, 500 Main Ave.
Eye Catchers, 410 Main Ave.
Faucett's, 415 Main Ave.
Wisteria on Main, 315 Main Ave.
Tickets only:
Northport 5 & 10, 412 Main Ave.
The Northport Gazette, 401 20th Ave.
Discounts only:
Rhubarb's Gifts & Home, 422 Main Ave.
Lily Pads Boutique, 420 Main Ave.
Kentuck Art Center, 503 Main Ave.
Restoring Piece, 433 Main Ave.
The Toy Shoppe, 431 Main Ave.
Anders Hardware, 419 Main Ave.
Mary's Cakes and Pastries, 412 22nd Ave.
July 27th, 2015
Employee hurt as car crashes into Northport drugstore - An employee at a Northport drugstore was injured Sunday morning when a car crashed into the front of the store, according to Northport Fire Rescue.
The car's driver, who was not injured, lost control before crashing into the Rite Aid Pharmacy, according to a post on Northport Fire Rescue's Facebook page.
The Rite Aid employee was taken to DCH Regional Medical Center.
A dispatcher said the call about the accident came in around 10:50 a.m.
The Rite Aid is at 2300 McFarland Blvd. in the Northwood Shopping Center.
July 27th, 2015
PARA wants artists to submit concepts for Palmore Skate Park mural - The artistic element usually comes last in public facilities as foundations, bricks and mortar tend to siphon off funds. But the Tuscaloosa County Park & Recreation Authority is trying to change that thinking, one park at a time.
Artists are being encouraged to send concepts for a mural, 10 feet high and 26 feet wide, to adorn the sides and back of a ramp at this summer’s newly opened Palmore Skate Park in Palmore Park at 3701 Fosters Ferry Road.
“It’s a big blank wall that just has a real neutral kind of latex on it right now,” said Becky Booker, PARA’s public relations and marketing manager.
Submissions should include visual renderings on paper along with written descriptions. They need to be submitted to the PARA mural committee by Aug. 31.
Any professional or amateur artist 18 or older can submit up to three original designs for the wall. Artists should also include projected costs for materials — bearing in mind that the work will be outdoors in all weather — and a proposed artist’s fee.
Designs must be family friendly but otherwise remain open to interpretation or imagination.
“Something skateboard-related is the only suggestion we had,” Booker said. “But it could be anything.”
Since becoming director of PARA, Gary Minor has tried to inject more art into the parks, Booker said.
“Unfortunately, art is always the first thing that gets cut when the budget isn’t all there,” she said. “But art adds to and enhances the aesthetic of the thing, makes it a whole lot nicer.”
Within the past year, PARA has purchased bronze statues for facilities, one of a dog with a bone for the Will May Dog Park and another of two skateboarding kids for the skate park.
The mural suggestion came from employees of Seattle-based Grindline Skateparks, which installed Palmore Skate Park, back in the winter.
“They said ‘If you don’t do it, it’s going to get covered with graffiti; you might as well get it painted with art that you like,’ ” Booker said.
To make a submission, visit the PARA office at 614 Greensboro Ave., or go to the PARA website at www.
tcpara.org, under the “about” header. Completed applications must be submitted to the PARA office by Aug. 31. For more information, call Booker at 562-3220, or send email to bbooker@tcpara.org.
July 27th, 2015
Local woman promoted in Miami City Ballet - MIAMI BEACH, Fla. | Miami City Ballet has announced several additions to its roster for its 30th anniversary season.
Two stars of the Teen Vogue web series "Strictly Ballet" are joining the company's corps de ballet. Ella Titus of Clearwater and Mayumi Enokibara of Rio de Janeiro graduated from the Miami City Ballet School.
The company also promoted Jennifer Lauren of Tuscaloosa, to principal soloist.
The season opens Oct. 23.
July 27th, 2015
Tuscaloosa City Council agenda July 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:
Amending Section 17-97 of the Code of Tuscaloosa (Tabled June 30 and June 2).
Declaring property surplus and authorizing its disposal.
Authorizing request for street lighting system modifications.
Approving request and agreement for water service to Airgas/Nucor ASU facility water main extension; total: $79,271.93.
Granting permit for Airgas Merchant Gases to construct water lines for Airgas/Nucor ASU facility water main extension.
Approving request and agreement for water service to Murphy Place Phase 4, water main extension; total: $49,557.51.
Granting permit for M B Development LLC to construct water lines for Murphy Place Phase 4, water main extension.
Setting August 11 as the date for public hearing to consider approval of the development plan for the Regent Club on the Black Warrior River, a Riverfront Zoning District Development.
Authorizing change order No. 5 for Fire Station No. 4; deductive total: $1,575.
Authorizing payment to Melvin L. Sellers in settlement of claim; total: $763.70.
Authorizing change order No. 2 for City-Wide Home Project Repair Group Project 2014; total: $1,800.
Authorizing change order No. 3 for City-Wide Home Repair Group Project 2014; total: $1,450.
Rescinding a previous resolution approving request and agreement for water service to Airgas/Nucor ASU facility water main extension.
Rescinding a previous resolution authorizing the purchase of equipment/supplies/services.
Authorizing execution of an agreement between the city and Alabama Power Co. for an underground sanitary sewer line to cross an Alabama Power Co. easement for the Lift Station 21 Upper Section Sanitary Sewer Improvements.
Authorizing a contract with Xylem Water Solutions USA Inc. and declaring a bid law exception pursuant to Alabama Code § 41-16-51(b)(7); total: $30,000.
Authorizing amendment No. 5 to the contract with McGiffert and Associates LLC for engineering and related services for the Train Trestle Sewer Improvements Project; total increase in compensation: $16,690.49.
Authorizing execution of a utility service transmission line easement to Alabama Power Co. for the south Tuscaloosa transmission line through Bowers Park between Bowers Park and Idlewood subdivision.
Authorizing execution of an underground utility service easement to Alabama Power Co. for the new Harmon Park Pavilion.
Authorizing the mayor to execute all close out documents necessary for AIP Grant 3-01-0072-028-2012.
Authorizing the purchase of equipment/supplies/services for the Tuscaloosa Police Department from Trailer Store Plus LLC; total: $9,320.
Authorizing the transfer of funds from the tourism bid fee fund to the city's general fund; total: $200,000.
Authorizing the mayor to execute a development agreement with RV Hotel Owner LLC to provide economic development assistance for the construction of an Indigo brand hotel.
Authorizing execution of an easement by the city and the Tuscaloosa City Board of Education for a joint access ingress/egress easement for the "school board property."
Authorizing the mayor to execute a support letter to the Tuscaloosa Housing Authority in regard to the disposition of the Robertson Tower property.
Authorizing the Office of Federal Programs to submit the 2015 City of Tuscaloosa Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice to HUD and authorize the mayor to execute all certifications and documents required in relation to the submission of this report.
Authorizing an amendment to the funding agreement with Habitat for Humanity Tuscaloosa for the construction of an additional home at 23 Juanita Drive.
Appointing and reappointing members to various boards.
Authorizing the payment of bills; total: $9,186.06.
July 27th, 2015
Birmingham Barons to host peanut-free night - BIRMINGHAM | The Birmingham Barons are stripping peanuts from Regions Field for a night so fans with severe allergies can attend a baseball game.
Barons officials said in a statement that they’ve partnered with the Alabama Allergy and Asthma Center to host Peanut-Free Night at the ballpark on Tuesday when they host the Mississippi Braves.
Officials said no sunflower seeds or other foods containing nuts will be allowed inside or sold at the ballpark that day, and all concessions items will be cooked in peanut-free oil. The Barons were recently on an eight-day road trip and officials said Regions Field received a thorough cleaning while the team was gone. Officials say seats have been bleached and cooking equipment has been washed to clear peanut residue and dust.
July 27th, 2015
State health insurance markets struggle with cost challenges - WASHINGTON | State-run health insurance markets that offer coverage under President Barack Obamas health law are struggling with high costs and disappointing enrollment. These challenges could lead more of them to turn over operations to the federal government or join forces with other states.
Hawaiis marketplace, the latest cautionary tale, was awarded $205 million in federal startup grants. It has spent about $139 million and enrolled 8,200 customers for individual coverage in 2015. Unable to sustain itself, the state marketplace is turning over sign-ups to the federal HealthCare.gov for 2016.
Twelve states and the District of Columbia fully control their markets. Experts estimate about half face financial difficulties. Federal taxpayers invested nearly $5 billion in startup grants to the states, expecting that state markets would become self-sustaining. Most of the federal money has been spent, and states have to face the consequences.
The viability of state health insurance exchanges has been a challenge across the country, particularly in small states, due to insufficient numbers of uninsured residents, said a statement from the office of Hawaii Democratic Gov. David Ige, announcing last month that his states sign-ups were being turned over to the federal government.
Now that the Supreme Court has ruled the Obama administration can keep subsidizing premiums in all 50 states through HealthCare.gov, no longer is there a downside for states turning to Washington. If the decision had gone the opposite way, state exchanges would have been a leaky lifeboat for preserving a major expansion of taxpayer-subsidized coverage under the law.
With the pressure gone, I think you are going to see much more of a hybrid across the nation, said Peter Lee, who heads Californias state-run marketplace. Covered California fell short of its sign-up projections this year by nearly 20 percent, but Lee says it remains a solid business proposition.
States are talking a lot about shared services, Lee said. Its how you get economies of scale.
States could pool resources on functions such as labor-intensive call centers or use HealthCare.govs technology for online enrollment. They generally want to keep control over marketing, consumer education and oversight of insurance plans.
Sustainability is the focus of the administrations annual meeting with state exchange directors, scheduled for the end of the month in the Washington area. The two-day meeting is closed to the media.
Each state has a different set of circumstances that informs their approach, and we will continue to support their efforts, said Mayra Alvarez, the federal liaison to state marketplaces.
The pendulum probably will swing toward a greater federal role in the next couple of years, said Jim Wadleigh, director of Connecticuts Access Health. Eventually, more states will want to take the lead, he said, because it gives them greater control over health care, particularly modernizing Medicaid programs for low-income people.
In New England, theres talk of a regional exchange.
The insurance industry would welcome consolidation.
Our biggest concern is that you may see many states looking to enact taxes and fees, and that makes health care less affordable, said Justine Handelman, policy chief at the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.
Hawaii is the third state exchange going to the federal sign-up system, following Nevada and Oregon, which made the switch last year. Among the problems confronting states:
Minnesotas MNsure faces a murky financial future. Its budget is balanced as a result of repeated cuts when enrollment has come in below projections, a tactic that cannot work forever. Despite a slew of proposals, no concrete changes came out of the states most recent legislative session. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton has signaled that MNsures fate is on the table, including the option of shifting operations to HealthCare.gov.
The U.S. attorney in Boston has subpoenaed records dealing with the troubled rollout of the Massachusetts Health Connector, dating to 2010.
Colorado officials are considering big changes to the states marketplace, from pooling call centers with other states to dismantling the exchange and relying on HealthCare.gov instead. Although the market is on solid financial footing, it has fallen short of best-case enrollment goals.
A federal audit concluded that Maryland used exchange establishment grants from Washington to pay for $28.4 million in costs that should have been allocated to the states Medicaid program. State officials dispute that, but federal officials say Maryland should pay the money back. Separately, the original lead contractor for the state website has agreed to repay $45 million to avoid legal action over rollout problems last year.
In Vermont, a debate has been raging about whether to abandon the state exchange. Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin originally wanted a single state-run system for all residents, along the lines of Canada. Shumlin backed off because it would have meant prohibitively high taxes. He wants to fix the state exchange, still grappling with technology problems that plagued it from launch.
July 27th, 2015
Kyle Busch grabs elusive Indy win - INDIANAPOLIS | Kyle Busch’s incredible comeback rolled through Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where Busch won the Brickyard 400 on Sunday for a weekend sweep at the historic track.
Busch missed the first 11 races of the season with a broken right leg and broken left foot. He returned in late May and has won three consecutive Sprint Cup Series races and four of the last five.
“This has been a phenomenal return,” Busch said. “I won’t say phenomenal year because it was a dismal year to start, but I guess I’ll take that 11-week
vacation any year if it’s going to look like this.”
Now he has a prestigious Brickyard victory to give him one of NASCAR’s elusive crown jewels. His Indianapolis victory ranks alongside his Southern 500 win at Darlington Raceway as the biggest of his career.
“Maybe I found my happy place,” Busch said in victory lane when asked if he has found a new perspective since he was injured in a crash the day before the season-opening Daytona. 500.
Busch, who also won the second-tier Xfinity Series race Saturday at Indianapolis, moved 23 points away from cracking the top 30 in the standings. NASCAR granted him a waiver that will make him eligible for the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship should he be ranked inside the top 30 in points.
“We’re a championship
contending team, we just need to be championship eligible,” Busch said.
The win for Joe Gibbs Racing was the first Sprint Cup Series victory at Indianapolis for Toyota, which has now won at all 23 active tracks.
Chevrolet had entered the race on a 12-year winning streak and had won 16 of the 21 Brickyards. The manufacturer also won the Indianapolis 500 in May with Roger Penske driver Juan Pablo Montoya.
But Penske was denied his first Brickyard 400 win when Joey Logano finished second to Busch on Sunday in a Ford.
“Geez, I guess Kyle’s back,” Daytona 500 winner Logano said. “It’s just so frustrating running second at the Brickyard. Second hurts.”
Busch knows that all too well. He finished second in two of the previous three Brickyards.
Kevin Harvick was third in a Chevrolet, followed by Martin Truex Jr., Busch teammate Denny Hamlin and Clint Bowyer. Matt Kenseth, another Gibbs driver, was seventh, followed by Kurt Busch and Kyle Larson.
Penske driver Brad Keselowski rounded out the top 10.
Jeff Gordon’s final Brickyard 400 was a huge bust as an early spin caused considerable damage that eventually sent him to the garage for repairs. Gordon, who has a record five victories at Indianapolis, finished 42nd. He’s retiring at the end of the year.
Two-time Brickyard winner Tony Stewart was strong early but strategy backfired on the Indiana native and he finished 28th.
NASCAR used a track-specific rules package Sunday that was designed to improve the racing on a track that has proven to be incredibly hard to pass at since the heavy stock cars began racing on the Brickyard.
But the low-drag package didn’t appear to be much of an improvement as drivers complained all weekend that the turbulence was too strong around their car when they’d close in on another. In the end, there were 16 lead changes among six drivers and Harvick, who called Sunday’s race “a science project,” led a race-high 75 laps.
“I think everybody put in a lot of effort to really try to make everything a lot better, spent a lot of money, but I don’t know that we accomplished everything that we were looking to accomplish,” Harvick said.
Aside from the lack of improved competition, the cars were extremely hot inside the cockpit because the aerodynamic package was trapping air inside. Busch was one of many drivers physically drained following Saturday’s race, and Sunday’s race seemed to have the same consequence.
This same rules package is scheduled to be used next month at Michigan.
“I got a huge blister on my foot,” Logano said. “I think the extended bumper cover on the back of these things doesn’t let the airflow underneath the car like it used to without it, and I think it builds the inside temperature up. I’ve got sweat in my eyes.
“It’s just too hot inside those cars.”
July 27th, 2015
Car crashes into drugstore - An employee at a Northport drugstore was injured Sunday morning when a car crashed into the front of the store, according to Northport Fire Rescue.
The car's driver, who was not injured, lost control before crashing into the Rite Aid Pharmacy, according to a post on Northport Fire Rescue's Facebook page.
The Rite Aid employee was taken to DCH Regional Medical Center.
A dispatcher said the call about the accident came in around 10:50 a.m.
The Rite Aid is at 2300 McFarland Blvd. in the Northwood Shopping Center.

July 26th, 2015
Body found in Black Warrior River - The body of a 36-year-old woman was recovered Sunday afternoon from the Black Warrior River, according to Greene County authorities.
The woman was reported missing around 8 p.m. Saturday when she fell out of a pontoon boat into the water near the Cypress Cove subdivision near Demopolis.
Her body was recovered Sunday afternoon about 1:30 p.m., authorities said.
Alabama Marine Police conducted the search along with the Tuscaloosa Fire Department’s water rescue team, the Greene County Sheriff’s Office and the Demopolis Police Department.
July 26th, 2015
LOCAL Q&A: Rob Huffman, Tuscaloosa Public Library - This week we will spending some time with Tuscaloosa County native Rob Huffman, who works in the Computer Services department of the Tuscaloosa Public Library. Huffman is an alumnus of the University of Alabama, a veteran of the United States Air Force and a big fan of local restaurants around town.
Q: Who are you and what do you do?
A: My name is Rob Huffman and I work with the computer systems of the Tuscaloosa Public Library.
Q: Where do you live?
A: I live in the county, next to Shelton State (Community College) down on Highway 69 South.
Q: And how long have you lived here?
A: I've lived in Tuscaloosa all my life except for a period of time that I was in the Air Force. I was stationed mostly here in the Southeast, Texas and Georgia.
Q: About your job here, what's your favorite part of working at the library?
A: Well, in my line of work it's a lot of learning that takes place because there are so many different aspects of computer work. There is a lot of detective work involved, if something is not working right you have to investigate why it's not working correctly. You're constantly learning, so it's not a dull job, and we don't have a real pressured environment here, and I really appreciate that. Also, the people I work with are great.
Q: If someone you know from out of town asked about Tuscaloosa, how would you sum it up in a couple of sentences?
A: It's a medium-sized town; it's no longer a small town, but it's not what I would consider a large town, either. We are growing rapidly right now — in the last seven or eight years, I've seen a real boom in Tuscaloosa, and that's brought with it a lot of attractions, I guess you could say. Things like the Amphitheater and this really nice hotel we have downtown.
Q: In your free time and on weekends, what are some of your favorite places that you like to go?
A: We like to eat out, my wife and I. We do that quite a bit.
Q: Do you have a favorite restaurant, or a couple maybe?
A: I have a few. Mr. Chen's, the Chinese restaurant (at Parkview Plaza Shopping Center, 514 14th St.) is really good; Hooligan's right off the road here (1915 University Blvd.); La Fiesta, a Mexican restaurant on Highway 69 South, is a really good one.
Q: Is there anything that you think Tuscaloosa is missing? Maybe something that the town doesn't have, or have a lot of, that could be brought in?
A: I would say better public transportation. We have it, but it doesn't go to all the places that it could, I suppose. Also, there is another thing I think Tuscaloosa is lacking. They seem to have no plan to prohibit air pollution in town. Some parts of town can get really odorous, I guess you could say. It seems like any industry that wants to open up in this town, they give them a blank check, and I wish they would consider the environmental impact, mostly air pollution.
July 26th, 2015
Alabama a top-five pick in preseason publication rankings - Each season when the bevy of preseason college football magazines hit the racks in the middle of a summer, they foretell the coming of fall and the upcoming season.
Fall camp is approximately two weeks away from opening, and the University of Alabama program, fresh off an appearance in the first College Football Playoff, remains a national and conference favorite.
Much has changed since then — the exit of one of the country’s most efficient quarterbacks, the nation’s top wide receiver and the best all-around running back chief among the differences — but the expectations, both internally and externally, haven’t.
The Crimson Tide is still a popular pick to win the SEC West, according to the magazines, and most think UA has a chance to claim one of the four playoff spots.
In a composite ranking of four preseason magazines (Phil Steele’s College Football Preview, Athlon, Lindy’s and Sporting News), Alabama ranks No. 3 overall behind defending national champion Ohio State (a consensus No. 1) and TCU.
Phil Steele thinks UA rides the strength of its defense to win the SEC West.
“The offense will be solid despite just three returning starters, and the defense might be the best in the country,” Steele wrote. “Plus, they have my No. 2 special teams in the SEC. Look for the defense to get back to being dominant.”
Steele ranks Alabama’s defensive line and linebackers as tops in the conference and the defensive backs unit as the league’s third-best group.
On offense, he ranks the running backs third, offensive line fourth and wide receivers seventh. Even without naming a starting quarterback, he ranks the signal callers eighth.
“The Crimson Tide has won two national titles with a first-year starting quarterback (2009 and 2011),” Steele wrote. “Last year, they earned the No. 1 seed in the playoffs behind a first-year starter and led Ohio State 21-6 in the second quarter.
“They have just 10 returning starters this year but had just 12 and 11 in their last two title years (2011 and 2012). Alabama is 31-4 versus the SEC, including championship games, the last four years and rates at the favorite again.
The only drawback to Alabama this year, Steele said, is the schedule. Even so, he thinks UA is the team to beat in the SEC.
Lindy’s and Athlon also predicts Alabama to win the West. The Sporting News, though, has the Crimson Tide behind in-state foe Auburn.
“Can you lose a 1,700-yard receiver, a 1,000-yard rusher and the SEC’s most effective passer and hope to be as productive offensively?” the magazine asked. “There’s no question the Tide will be terrific in the trenches, but ‘Bama is no automatic choice to win the SEC and earn a CFP spot this time.”
The Sporting News also named Alabama as the league’s most “overrated” team.
“SEC dominance isn’t a foregone conclusion anymore. Neither is Alabama’s. The Tide must find a new quarterback, retool the skill positions and repair their defensive reputation.”
Tennessee is the most underrated program in the SEC according to the magazine.
Composite Top 25
The composite rankings of four preseason college football magazines (Phil Steele, Lindy’s, Athlon and Sporting News) has Alabama slotted No. 3 nationally. A first-place vote earned a team 25 points, a second-place vote 24 points, a third-place vote 23 points, etc.
1. Ohio State 100
2. TCU 93
3. Alabama 90
4. Baylor 84
5. USC 78
6. Oregon 77
7. Michigan State 74
8. Auburn 73
9. Florida State 66
10. Notre Dame 63
11. Georgia 60
12. Clemson 53
13. LSU 52
14. Georgia Tech 33
15. UCLA 33
16. Arizona 32
17. Ole Miss 31
18. Oklahoma 28
19. Arkansas 25
20. Stanford 23
21. Tennessee 18
22. Wisconsin 17
23. Arizona 16
24. Boise State 13
25. Virginia Tech 12
Other teams receiving votes:
26. Texas A&M 9
27. Oklahoma State 8
28. Penn State 7
29. Missouri 6
30. Mississippi State 6
31. Miami 5
Top 5 list
Sporting News
1. Ohio State
2. TCU
3. Auburn
4. Oregon
5. Alabama
1. Ohio State
2. Alabama
3. Baylor
4. Auburn
5. TCU
1. Ohio State
2. TCU
3. Alabama
4. Oregon
5. Baylor
Phil Steele
1. Ohio State
2. TCU
3. USC
4. Alabama
5. Baylor
July 25th, 2015
"Revitalizing the Village" aimed at improving community involvement - A community engagement event at Central High School on Saturday focused on getting the whole community involved in raising children.
Playing on the old saying "it takes a village to raise a child," Gloria Hamner hosted "Revitalizing the Village," an event for parents and students geared toward bringing the community together to keep children in school and off the streets.
"My aim is to accomplish that we would work together as a community, starting with the home, then the church, then the community, then the school like we used to do long ago. We used to have a village where everybody had to raise the children," said Hamner, a parental involvement facilitator with the Tuscaloosa City Schools.
To accomplish this goal, Hamner invited leaders of multiple agencies in the community to speak to parents and students.
Among the speakers was a leader with Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services who spoke about mental illnesses. The deputy district attorney talked about resources that the Tuscaloosa District Attorney's Office offers. The Child Nutrition Program director of the city schools spoke about nutrition, and a math content specialist from the city schools talked about test-taking.
A major theme throughout many of the classes offered Saturday was respect.
Tuscaloosa City Councilman Harrison Taylor, Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steven Anderson and the Rev. Schmitt Moore, Alabama president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, all spoke about how respect plays a major role in success.
Montez Hardy-Furr, a 16-year-old student at Northridge High School, sat in Taylor and Anderson's class Saturday. He said they talked about respecting parents, teachers, law enforcement and other adults and authorities.
"We need to respect the authorities more," Hardy-Furr said. "Respect the teachers and don't argue back with them. Try to talk it out without arguing."
Taylor said respecting teachers will go a long way to help students get through school, a point he advised students and parents not to take lightly.
He said jobs are hard to come by without a high-school diploma and urged students to graduate from high school and attend college or learn a trade.
"It's so important to get your education," he said.
Hamner echoed those points.
"The ultimate goal is to get the kids back in the school, doing what they need to do, and parents supporting the school, and the church supporting the families, and the community coming together as a whole to recognize that whatever problem we have, we can come together and get it solved in a calm way," Hamner said.
July 25th, 2015
Noah Galloway to speak at All Veterans and Family Reunion - An explosive device attack severed Noah Galloway's left arm and leg three months into his second tour of duty during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
After that, the Birmingham native became a celebrity of sorts.
He recently won third place on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars," has appeared on the November cover of Men's Health Magazine as the publication's 2014 Ultimate Guy and has been a guest on national talk shows including "Ellen,' "The Today Show" and "Good Morning America."
He is now a fitness guru and motivational speaker.
Galloway will speak at the second annual Alabama All Veterans and Family Reunion, which will be held in Tuscaloosa Aug. 28-30.
"We're really passionate about thanking our veterans. We have so many," said Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports Commission President and CEO Gina Simpson. "I hope that we bring in 500 veterans and their families. It's a thank-you to them and their families because we realize their families serve as well."
All events during the weekend are free for pre-registered veterans, current service members and their families, with the exception of a formal dinner Saturday. For more information and to register, go to www.alabamaveterans reunion.com.
The weekend will kick off Aug. 28 at 7 p.m. with a GIs of Comedy show at the Bama Theatre. The public is invited to attend the show, too. Individual tickets for the public are $5, and 12 and under get in free.
Saturday's events will begin with a motorcycle honor ride from the Mercedes-Benz plant in Vance to the Tuscaloosa Veterans Affairs Medical Center where the Veterans Appreciation Festival will begin at 10 a.m.
Festivities include live music from the 151st Army Band and country music artist Glen Templeton, food, exhibitors, a car show by the Mercedes-Benz Car Club and a Memorial Labyrinth ceremonial memorial walk, which will give veterans an opportunity to reflect.
A formal dinner will be held at Embassy Suites from 6-10 that night with music and speakers. The dinner is the only ticketed event. Tickets are $50 per person or $80 per couple.
Retired Lt. Gen. Willie Williams will speak at the dinner in addition to Galloway. Williams, a graduate of Stillman College, served as the director of the Marine Corps Staff and is one of four African-American Marines to become a three-star general.
The weekend will conclude with a memorial service held at Veteran's Park Aug. 30 from 8-10 a.m.
Simpson said the reunion is the only event in the state that brings all branches of military together, and it is important to honor them all.
She said military branches generally don't intermingle.
"Very few mix and mingle. We want to thank all of them equally," she said.
She said the purpose of the event is to honor veterans and offer them a chance to network by interacting with different branches.
It's important to recognize veterans and "to help develop a larger network and support system for them," Simpson said. "We hope that the network they create here will be something they can take away."
July 25th, 2015
Six members of Unity Tuscaloosa to visit Charleston, S.C. - Unity Tuscaloosa, a Christian nonprofit organization that tries to bring people of different races together, is taking part in a mission trip to Charleston, S.C., this week. Its goal is to help ease racial tensions in a city where a white man is charged with shooting and killing nine black people during a church Bible study. In addition to state murder charges, Dylann Roof also has been charged with a federal hate crime.
"We're on a mission called ‘Charleston Refreshing,' " said George W. Stewart, co-founder of Unity Tuscaloosa. "As an organization that was founded on racial harmony, we want to go there and let people know that we love them and try to be a healing balm. We know this was a tragic situation, but we know that good things can happen out of tragic situations."
The mission team will have 30 people from across the country including six members of Unity Tuscaloosa.
Stewart said the group's strategy in Charleston will be threefold.
What they will do first is attend a praise, worship and communion service at North Charleston's Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church with a group of multiracial pastors called "1 Charleston" at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
The next morning they're going to present the Expanding Grace Margins ministry workshop on racial reconciliation at New Life Fellowship Church in nearby Goose Creek, S.C.
"Again, we want to confront the issue of racial divide and begin to create an opportunity for people to come together, and particularly the Expanding Grace margins workshop will help us come together across racial lines when we want to but don't know how to," Stewart said.
"I think what we're going to have to do is get in a room, one room, one environment, and ask people, all of us, to see where our commonalities are rather than our differences."
Later that evening, the group will put on a play for the people of Charleston. The play, which will also take place at New Life Fellowship Church, is the urban social drama, "Getting Outta Bombingham." The play commemorates young civil rights marchers in the 1960s.
"We don't want to avoid the issue of racial challenges," he said. "Yes, we are different, but different isn't bad. We like different foods, different music, but we can celebrate and embrace each other across our different minds.
"Let's all love each other, embrace each other and celebrate. We're all children of God. ... If one relationship across racial lines can be established with this trip, then we have accomplished our mission."
Reach Jamon Smith at jamon.smith@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0204.
July 25th, 2015
Southern Lights: Trump's GOP bid does nothing for the party - I used to work with a guy in another city who was — as they might say in this age of political correctness — veracity challenged.
That means he lied a lot.
You always knew when it was coming. He'd begin with, "I don't hardly believe it myself, but ..." and our eyes would roll.
That was long ago and far away, but Donald Trump has reminded me of it. I can hardly believe that he's the Republican front-runner, but a recent poll shows ol' comb-over leading all other GOP contenders.
A Washington Post-ABC News poll showed Trump with 24 percent; Scott Walker with 13 percent, Jeb Bush with 12 percent, and the rest of them with smaller numbers. It may not last, but Trump is the clear choice now for the Republican nomination among the 16 in the field.
Trump is a strawberry blond (what's left of it, anyway), red-faced and squinty-eyed.
He's also a loudmouth, shoot-from-the-hip showoff who doesn't give a fig for correctness — political or otherwise.
He comes on like Steve Spurrier when Spurrier was the snarky coach of the Florida Gators.
When he got to the big leagues — and got some big-league whuppings — Spurrier wasn't so brash.
Trump is brash, but what else is he? Is he a social conservative? Who knows?
Who knows, in fact, if he's a political conservative?
All I know is that the Democrats must be dancing in the streets. If Trump's the Republican choice, they can't lose. To paraphrase beloved New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, Democrats could win on a laundry ticket. They could run Charles Manson, Mullah Omar or Mickey Mouse and still take the presidency.
A lot of Republicans apparently love Trump, but to the rest of the world, he's just a joke. A rich joke but still a joke.
I always thought the election would be between Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush. Trump's surge, however, may prove me wrong.
As Jeb Bush said, Trump isn't a stupid man. He just says stupid things.
Like that business about John McCain.
McCain may have spent almost six years in a prison in Vietnam but he wasn't a hero until the North Vietnamese captured the downed aviator, according to Trump. The Donald said he prefers the American servicemen who avoided capture.
Earlier, he bad-rapped illegal immigrants from Mexico as modern-day Marielistas — robbers, muggers and thieves in the mix.
Trump doesn't like to shake hands with strangers and his best-known phrase is "You're fired," repeated again and again on his TV show.
He's a big man physically, but in short, he plays right into the hearts of a lot of the Republican base — the xenophobia, the suspicion, the would-be warrior anger bubbling just under the surface.
Maybe that's sad. Or maybe that's one of the reasons why I'm a Democrat.
July 25th, 2015
Street closings this week in Tuscaloosa - The traffic signal at the intersection of Alabama Highway 69 and Park Street in Northport will be offline beginning at 7 a.m. Monday, according to the Alabama Department of Transportation.
Work on the traffic signal is expected to be complete by 4:30 p.m.
Delays are expected and motorists should consider taking an alternate route.
July 25th, 2015
Local experts to visit Chamber in Session with topic "State of the Economy" - "State of the Economy" will be the topic of discussion for the group of local experts Thursday morning at the Chamber in Session at Hotel Capstone.
The event, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama, will start with a 7:30 a.m. breakfast and the main address by Carl Pinkert, vice president for research and economic development for the University of Alabama.
Pinkert then will moderate a panel discussion whose members will include Dara Longgrear, executive director of the Tuscaloosa County Industrial Development Authority, representing industry; Brendan Moore, Tuscaloosa's development ombudsmann, representing retail and commerce; Jay Kasten, executive director of the Tuscaloosa Tourism & Sports Commission, on tourism; Grayson Glaze, executive director of the Alabama Center for Real Estate, on the real estate and housing industries; and Al Spencer, the Chamber of Commerce's vice president for economic development and public policy.
Cost, including breakfast, is $30. Reservations need to be made in advance with Stacey Gann at the Chamber, at 391-0559 or stacy@tuscaloosachamber.com.
July 25th, 2015
Tuscaloosa reconsidering entertainment districts - Based on the success of this summer's Live at the Plaza free concert series at Government Plaza, city officials are moving toward the implementation of an entertainment district downtown.
If adopted by the City Council, it would mean that opened alcoholic beverage laws could be relaxed when an entertainment district is active.
"I don't know if there's much of an appetite to have a constant entertainment district in our downtown area," said Councilman Matt Calderone. "But there was an interest in having an entertainment district designated on an event-by-event basis."
A City Council committee signed off Tuesday on a preliminary plan to allow for temporary entertainment districts on a case-by-case basis.
As discussed by the administration and policy committee, those seeking to host an event that would include an entertainment district would first obtain a permit from the Tuscaloosa Department of Transportation.
The City Council then would vote to establish the district, its boundaries and hours of operation, while the state law that allows entertainment districts establishes the rules of operations, such as preventing patrons from entering the district or the businesses with an open container.
This approach also would allow for the establishment of these temporary districts in other areas besides downtown. The state allows entertainment districts in areas with three or more businesses that have alcohol licenses.
"Each time there's an event, you would designate an entertainment district," Calderone said. "I think it makes sense to take baby steps into that."
A draft version of an ordinance that would create a permit-based entertainment district is expected to be reviewed by the committee next month.
The permit-based approach was favored over one in which the City Council would establish the maximum boundaries of the district. A vote of the City Council would then be needed to activate the district and allow for the open container rules to be relaxed.
The committee chose to pursue the permit option to see how the district would be received. That also gives the council more control over how large each district can be and how long it can operate.
In May, Calderon pushed for the council's approval to hold the Live at the Plaza concerts on Government Plaza during the four Fridays in June. The free concerts allowed adults to bring their own alcohol to consume in the public park during the two-hour event.
The popularity of Live at the Plaza — Calderone has said attendance grew from about 200 for the first event to at least 600 for the final one in June — spurred Calderone to continue the series through July 31.
He said attendance has remained steady at around 600 and no incidents of violence or disturbances had occurred because of the allowance of alcohol.
Because of this and renewed interest from bar and restaurant owners, Calderone revisited the idea of implementing an entertainment district in Tuscaloosa, which can have two such districts based on its population, according to state law.
"Those business owners have been very involved in the discussions," he said.
The City Council last considered creating a defined entertainment district in 2012 after the Alabama Legislature allowed larger cities to have them.
City officials then formed an ad hoc committee to study the feasibility of establishing the districts around certain popular night spots where patrons would be allowed to leave bars with drinks and take them into public spaces.
The council committee explored the rules and regulations that would govern the entertainment districts, which most likely would be at Temerson Square downtown and on the Strip on University Boulevard.
The ad hoc committee met twice and to decide against the creating such districts.
Made up of bar and business owners in Temerson Square and the Strip as well as representatives from City Hall, the University of Alabama and other -entities, the attendance dropped by about half between the first meeting and the second.
Of those who attended the follow-up meeting, the majority said they were undecided or outright opposed to having entertainment districts.
The ad hoc committee decided in August 2012 to wait a year and see what happened in other Alabama cities that created the districts. The idea was to determine whether the benefits of such districts would outweigh potential liabilities.
Until last week, the idea had not been formally revisited.
Reach Jason Morton at jason.morton@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0200.
July 25th, 2015
Streets will be closed this weekend - Roadway repairs will affect 14th Place East and Dr. Edward Hillard Drive this weekend, according to the Tuscaloosa Department of Transportation.
Fourteenth Place East will be closed east of Dr. Edward Hillard Drive from 6 a.m. today until 7 p.m. Sunday.
Dr. Hillard Drive will be closed between 14th Place East and 15th Street East on Sunday from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. Through traffic will be detoured at 13th Street East to McFarland Blvd.
July 25th, 2015
Streets will be swept next week - The Tuscaloosa Department of Transportation will sweep these general areas next week:
- Fifteenth Street to Hargrove, and Greensboro Avenue to Hackberry Lane, 16th through 19th Street, Avalon Place, Pinehurst, Guildswood, Dearing Place, Alaca Place, Parkview Drive, Bonita Terrace, Meadow Lawn, 11th Court, 12th Avenue, The Downs, Hillcrest, Harrison Street, Old Mills Street, Brooksdale Drive
- Lakepoint Drive, Monte Vista Drive, Lakeside Cove, Spring Hill Drive, Norwood Lane, Palisades Drive, 33rd Court East, Rainbow Drive, Diamond Ridge Lane, Joshua Circle, 30th thru 33rd Avenue East, Alpine Place, 48th Place East
- Twenty-sixth and 28th Avenue East, Juanita Drive, Crescent Gardens Drive, The Knoll, Durrett Grove, Arcadia Drive, 12th Place East, 6th Street NE, Green Grove, Sunset Drive NE, Beech Hills, 21st Street East, Mayfair Lane, Lewis Lane, Clairmont Road, Patton Avenue, Cherokee Hills, Woodland Terrace, Tall Pine Circle, Willow Ridge Lane, 35th Street East
- Thirty-fifth and 37th Street NE, 16th thru 19th Avenue NE, Gaineswood Lane, Brandon Parkway, Hodge Circle, Edward Circle, The Towns of North River, Lesley Drive, Point Clear Road, Greystone, Crown Pointe, Newport Drive
Residents in these areas are asked not to park on the street.
July 25th, 2015
Free movie tonight at Midtown Village - Midtown Village's free movie series continues tonight with "Paddington," The 2014 film, rated PG, tells the tale of a young Peruvian bear who travels to London in search of a home.
The movie will start at dusk, around 8 p.m., near the children's play area on the Green at Midtown Village, 1800 McFarland Blvd.
Midtown Village will also feature movie meal deals at Brother's Express Pizza Cafe, Edible Arrangements, Gigi's Cupcakes, Iguana Grill and Which Wich.
Participants should bring lawn chairs and blankets.
July 25th, 2015
Hubbard Springs Church: Bibb-Tuscaloosa Countyline on U.S. Highway 82 East. Guest singers are Kenny Tidmore and Gospel Harmony. Call 752-8806.
Hunter Chapel AME Zion Church: Hallelujah Hatitude brunch from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at the North River Golf Club, 3100 Yacht Club Way, NE. Speaker, Rev. Dr. Debra Moody Bass. $30 donation. Call 344-6502.
Berry Free Will Baptist Church: Highway 18 E., Berry. Guest singers, Southern Raised, a southern bluegrass group at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Call 412-4892.
Circlewood Baptist Church: 2201 Loop Road. Harvest day revival at 10:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. Nursery provided. Call 553-4315.
First Baptist Church of Akron: 7160 First Ave. N., Akron. Deacons and deaconesses day at 2:30 p.m. Guest speaker, the Rev. Andrew Turner, pastor of Overcoming Church of Today in Duncanville. Call 372-0833.
Hopewell Baptist Church: 3800 University Blvd. Vacation Bible School “Journey off the Map” 6-8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. Call 553-2202.
New Prospect Missionary Baptist Church: 6816 Fifth St., Northport. 116th homecoming at 10:45 a.m. Guest speaker, the Rev. Christopher D. Wriley, pastor of New Zion Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church in Columbus, Miss. Call 333-1392.
Phillips Chapel Free Will Baptist Church: 19552 Morman Road, Northport. Revival at 6 p.m. Sunday and 10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Evangelist, Brother Larry Reynolds. Call 339-4349.
St. John Baptist Church: 1709 10th Ave. Annual matrons day 8 a.m. speaker, the Rev. Pearson Miles, associate minister; 10:45 a.m. speaker, the Rev. Johnny R. Lewis, associate minister at First Missionary Baptist Church. Call 759-2861.
Tabernacle Baptist Church: 3218 21st St. 90th anniversary at 3 p.m. Guest minister, the Rev. Marvin Cherry, pastor of the Hightown Church of God. Call 750-0088.
Union Ship Baptist Church: Lawley, Installation services for the Rev. Oscar J. Rivers with sermon by the Rev. Jerry Seay, pastor of Saint Paul Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa and president of the Northwest District of the Alabama State Missionary Convention.
Ebenezer Baptist Church, 12362 Ebenezer Church Road., Northport, vacation Bible school 5:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday. Call 239-9363.
Pole Bridge Baptist Church: Bull Slough Road, Northport. Annual revival at 7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday. Guest speaker, the Rev. Christopher Wriley.
St. Paul District Association Women’s Auxiliary: 109th Annual Women’s Convention at 2 p.m. Wednesday and 8 a.m. Thursday and Friday at the First Baptist Church of Newbern.
Tuscaloosa’s Eastview Church: 6400 Mary Ford Blvd., Cottondale. Vacation Bible school July 29th-31st from 6-8:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday for 3-year-olds to fifth graders. Call553.5008.
Northport Church of Christ: 2700 44th Ave., Northport. Free areawide singing with free finger foods from 7-9 p.m. Call 339-6211.
The deadline for church calendar submissions is noon Wednesday. Fax submissions to 205-722-0118; email to peggy.skelton@tuscaloosanews.com or mail to The Tuscaloosa News, Church Announcements, P.O. Box 20587, Tuscaloosa, AL 35402-0587. Call 205-722-0199.
July 24th, 2015
County board considers drug, alcohol tests for school system workers - The Tuscaloosa County Board of Education is considering a proposed policy that would provide for testing teachers and other school system employees for drugs and alcohol.
The school system currently does not have an employee drug and alcohol testing policy.
The proposed policy would allow system officials to randomly test any employee, test an employee who appears impaired while on the job and test an employee who is seeking worker’s compensation benefits after an on-the-job accident.
Tuscaloosa County Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Swinford said the policy is a work in progress and could change several times before it’s presented to the school board for final adoption.
Under the policy, system administrators, supervisors and other management would be allowed to apply “reasonable belief” to judge whether an employee is impaired by drugs or alcohol. If an employee is determined to be impaired, the policy would require he or she be tested for drugs and alcohol. If the test is positive, it would not result in automatic termination, although it could. Instead, the employee would be required to enter the system’s employee assistance program, which provides free counseling through a contract with the DCH Health System.
Swinford said the testing policy would go hand in hand with the assistance program, which the school system implemented in October.
She said she needs to be able to mandate drug and alcohol testing for an employee who appears to be impaired and then require an employee testing positive to enter the assistance program.
“We’re looking to see if I can do that (legally) or if I cannot do that,” she said. “But that’s what we want to be able to do.”
Also under the policy, an employee would be able to self-report a drug or alcohol problem and enter the confidential assistance program, which would make it more likely that the employee would not get fired for being impaired.
“Now that we have (the employee assistance program) we’re trying to maximize the use of it,” Swinford said. “If an employee has a drug issue, I want him or her to be able to go and get help ... they can self-report themselves and get healthy before we discover it, and it possibly won’t result in a termination.”
At the school board’s discretion, employees who do not self-report and test positive for drugs or alcohol could either be fired or
offered a one-time opportunity to enter and successfully complete the employee assistance program or an accredited rehabilitation program. Refusing to consent to drug and alcohol testing likely would result in termination.
Employees would be suspended from their jobs while undergoing rehab. Any employee who successfully completes an approved treatment program will be randomly drug tested for 60 months. An employee who tests positive during that period would be fired.
Testing would entail the scientific analysis of urine, blood, breath, saliva, hair or tissue to detect drugs or alcohol.
Employees would have the right to appeal positive test results, either by undergoing an independent test at their own expense or by submitting the system-administered results to an independent medical reviewer at their own expense.
Job applicants would be required to consent to drug and alcohol testing as a condition of employment.
Reach Jamon Smith at jamon.smith@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0204.
July 24th, 2015
Actor's Charitable Theatre takes audience to Agrabah in 'Aladdin Jr.' - 30293
July 24th, 2015
University Place Elementary School gets new principal - The Tuscaloosa City Board of Education has hired Nakelya Mullins as the new principal of University Place Elementary School.
Deron Cameron, executive director of human resources for the system, said Mullins was an excellent fit for the position.
"We thought Ms. Mullins had an excellent relationship with the teachers at University Place, the students and the parents," Cameron said. "We thought that she could move University Place Elementary forward with the different programs such as STEAM and Leader in Me, and move our student data above and beyond where it is."
Mullins had been the school's assistant principal for the past two years. Before that, she worked as a city schools site facilitator, an instructional partner at Arcadia Elementary and a teacher at Arcadia Elementary.
"I'm excited about the opportunity," Mullins said. "I've been here for the past two years. I've gain tons of partnerships with parents and students and I'm excited to continue in that capacity.
"One of the things that I'd like to see is more parental support. We have a great school, but we have an opportunity to have an awesome school if we get more parents involved."
Mullins has an education specialist degree from the University of West Alabama, two master's of education degress from UWA and a bachelor's in business from Stillman College.
She started as principal on July 16.
July 24th, 2015
Tuscaloosa County football players use rope course to build team unity - A group of Tuscaloosa County High School football players endured a different type of conditioning on Tuesday at The True Vines Foundation rope course in Eutaw.
The Wildcats spent the day taking part in team building exercises and left with a new-found appreciation of both teamwork and communication.
“They loved it. Some of them were scared of heights, they were 20, 40 foot up in the air, but they were tied in safely and in no danger of anything,” TCHS head coach Lee Gibson said. “They learned to trust each other and communicated with each other, and for us as coaches, it's a great way to see them do things we talk about every day as far as teamwork, trusting and leaning on each other, and actually physically use it.”
Wildcats senior center Clay Norrell said the leadership retreat was one of the best experiences he's ever had, and that the time he spent on the rope course relying on his teammates will be helpful heading into the upcoming season.
“I think a lot of it transfers to the playing field,” Norrell said. “Coach (Gibson) has a saying that you don't need to just play on the team, you have to play as a team. Especially on the offensive line, you really have to stress to the guys next to you to make sure not only you do your job, but they do their job too. Just because one person does their job, doesn't mean the play works out. It's an 11-man sport, so everybody has to do their job right for that play to work and to win the ball game.”
The True Vine Foundation offers both a high rope challenge course and a low rope course. The Wildcats participated in the high rope.
“You are standing on a wire that is maybe a little bigger than a pencil, like a Sharpie marker, but you are hooked in these cables and completely safe,” Norrell said. “You know if you fall you are right there, but you are still up in the air, and you want to make sure you are doing everything right.”
According to the True Vine website, both the low and high rope courses “create opportunities to promote teamwork, leadership, cooperation, trust, communication and perseverance” — all characteristics that not only help in making a football program more successful, but impact the players well beyond the game, which is something Gibson strives for every season.
“On the field it can get kind of hectic, at times it's like mass chaos, so we kind of learned no matter what to take it slow, “ Norrell said. “Communicate, and no matter what talk to each other, make it easy for everybody.”
Reach Joey Chandler at joey.chandler@tuscaloosanews.com or at 205-722-0223.
July 24th, 2015
Six apply for City BOE representative position - Six people have applied to succeed James Minyard as the Tuscaloosa City Board of Education's District 1 representative.
Minyard, who served on the school board for 13 years, died July 7. He was 72.
Friday was the deadline for submitting an application. The six applicants are:
- Karen Thompson, executive director of Temporary Emergency Services;
- LaKeda Smith, executive director of the Benjamin Barnes YMCA;
- Earnestine Young, owner of EKJ Tax Service, who ran against Minyard for the District 1 seat in the 2013 school board race.;
- The Rev. Clarence Sutton Sr., senior pastor of Christian Community Church;
- The Rev. Matthew Wilson, pastor of Springfield Baptist Church and first vice president of the Tuscaloosa Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance;
- The Rev. Bobby Howard, pastor of Culver Road Community Church and a former Tuscaloosa City Council member from District 1, serving from 2005 to 2013;
The school board will interview the six applicants and then pick one to fill the remaining two years of Minyard's four-year term. The vote is expected to occur at a board meeting starting at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 3.
City school board members are paid $600 a month.
July 24th, 2015
Cousin of man accused of kidnapping ex-girlfriend charged with murder - The cousin of a man accused of kidnapping his ex-girlfriend and killing her sister is now facing a murder charge.
Gary Wade Rowland was charged with first-degree kidnapping and capital murder. He is the cousin of John Barry Hubbard, who is suspected of kidnapping his ex-girlfriend and fatally shooting her sister at the women's home in Bibb County on Tuesday.
Hubbard, 60, also is charged with capital murder and kidnapping.
Authorities conducted a massive manhunt for Hubbard that ended Wednesday night after his ex- girlfriend, Tammy Carpenter, escaped from a hotel room in Greene County and sought help at a nearby business.
Investigators believe that Rowland, 45, drove Hubbard and Carpenter to Greene County from Hale County and paid for a hotel room using his name.
"You can't really get more deeply involved than that, so he's an accomplice," Bibb County District Attorney Michael Jackson said Thursday.
Hubbard and Rowland could receive the death penalty or life in prison if found guilty.
Reach Stephanie Taylor at stephanie.taylor@tuscaloosa news.com or 205-722-0210.
July 24th, 2015
Faith-based groups to hold 3-day meeting focusing on improving community - Church members and faith-based groups will gather next week in Tuscaloosa for a conference focusing on ways to improve the community.
The conference was planned by the Rev. Tyshawn Gardner, pastor of Plum Grove Baptist Church, and Joseph Scrivener, pastor of Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church, in collaboration with the University of Alabama's Center for Community-Based Partnerships.
Its overall purpose is to "share and discuss, in this inaugural conference, the many effective and creative ways in which the faith community is working with other organizations to improve lives and communities all around us," Gardner said in a news release. "We are fortunate to have been able to attract such an outstanding group of speakers and panelists."
"Achieving Excellence Through Communal Empowerment and Creative Collaboration: A Conference on Faith and the Community," will begin at 6 p.m. Sunday at Stillman College's Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church, 3535 Stillman Blvd. Sunday's meeting will feature preaching and a mass choir performance.
On Monday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., the conference will be at the Bryant Conference Center, 240 Paul W. Bryant Drive.
Monday's speakers will include Tim Lovett, senior pastor of Calvary Baptist Church; Arloa Sutter of the Chicago-based Breakthrough Ministries; and Marcus Lundy, a Birmingham City Council member and Regions Bank executive.
Monday's schedule will wrap up with a panel discussion moderated by Scrivener. Other panel members will include the Rev. Lou Anne Sellers, associate pastor for congregational care and missions at First Presbyterian Church; the Rev. Kevin Thomas of Forest Lake United Methodist Church; the Rev. Jessica White of Trinity Missionary Baptist Church; and Brooks Mouchette of Unity Tuscaloosa.
Tuesday's session, also at Bryant Conference Center, will be from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Its speakers will be the Rev. Dennis R. Taylor, president of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance; Abraham Smith, professor of the New Testament at Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University; Birmingham Municipal Court Judge Agnes Chappell; and Ben Sciacca, executive director of Birmingham's Restoration Academy.
Admission of $25 or $150 for a table of eight will be charged for Monday and Tuesday's session. Admission will be limited to 150 participants. To register for the conference online, go to http://ccbp.ua.edu/faithconference.
July 24th, 2015
Meth investigation ends in two arrests - Drug agents recovered 190 grams of methamphetamine and made two arrests Thursday after a monthlong investigation.
Members of the West Alabama Narcotics Task force and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's Birmingham office arrested two men at a location in the 2200 block of Alabama Highway 216, said Sgt. Brent Blankley, a Tuscaloosa police spokesman.
Patrick Bernard Kirkman, 28, of Northport and Deonte Rashawn Kirkman, 19, of Tuscaloosa were both charged with two counts of trafficking methamphetamine. Both remained in the Tuscaloosa County Jail Friday with bond set at $1.5 million.
July 24th, 2015
Tracking dog helps recapture inmate - Officials have recaptured an inmate who escaped from the Bibb County Correctional Facility in Brent on Thursday.
Gene Milner Jr., 56, was captured by an officer using the prison's tracking dog at 10:30 p.m. Thursday, according to a release from the Alabama Department of Corrections. He was at a location along U.S. Highway 82 in Brent.
"The Department of Corrections is grateful for the community's help and for the dedicated efforts of the correctional officers and canines that aided in the safe capture," said the release.
Milner is serving a life sentence for a 1988 burglary conviction in Mobile County. He had a prior robbery conviction in 1980. He now faces additional criminal charges for the escape.
July 24th, 2015
No foul play suspected in Canyon Lake death - Investigators do not suspect foul play in the death of a man found in Canyon Lake on Thursday.
Taylor Austin Cain, 21, of Tuscaloosa was reported missing on Wednesday and found in the lake in Cottondale on Thursday morning. The final cause of death is pending a completed autopsy, said Lt. Kip Hart, Tuscaloosa County Metro Homicide Unit assistant commander.
July 24th, 2015
Mercedes' worker who died in fall identified - Authorities have released the name of a construction worker who died Wednesday after falling from a roof at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Vance.
Jeffery G. Merchant, 53, of Reform, died after falling from the roof of a building that is under construction at the plant on U.S. Highway 11 North.
Merchant was working on the metal roof and fell about 25 feet on to a concrete slab on the ground below. Investigators with the Tuscaloosa County Metro Homicide Unit believe the death was accidental, said Lt. Kip Hart, the unit’s assistant commander.
July 24th, 2015
Victims' names still not known after fire on Nicol Park Road - The victims of a fatal mobile home fire that happened on Nicol Park Road on Wednesday have not yet been identified.
Two people were killed in the suspicious fire just off Watermelon Road during the early morning hours Wednesday.
Their names have not been released because their remains have not yet been positively identified, said Lt. Kip Hart, Tuscaloosa County Metro Homicide Unit assistant commander.
Homicide and Tuscaloosa Fire and Rescue Service investigators are still processing evidence to determine what happened and how the fire started.
July 24th, 2015
UWA board to vote on tuition hike Monday - The Executive Committee of the University of West Alabama board of trustees is scheduled to meet on Monday to vote on a 2015-016 budget that includes a 4-percent tuition increase.
The special called meeting will be at 10:30 a.m. Monday at UWA's Montgomery office at 125 Ripley St.
The increase is part of a proposed $39.5-million budget for fiscal year 2016. The tuition increase would be used to cover debt service for bonds issued in 2012 and operation and maintenance costs associated with buildings built or renovated on campus.
The rate increase is expected to generate roughly $400,000, which would be evenly split between the debt service and the operational costs.
The board agreed to at least 2-percent hikes annually for a four-year period as part of the issuance of the $25 million in bonds for capital improvements. The 2015-16 school year would be the last for the obligatory increases.
The trustees are scheduled to meet for their regular quarterly meeting on Sept. 14 in Livingston.
July 24th, 2015
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