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Home > Tuscaloosa Business News

Tuscaloosa Business News - 2015-08

We have news items here related to Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Charges dropped against cousin of accused kidnapper - A capital murder charge has been dropped against the cousin of a Bibb County man accused of kidnapping his ex-girlfriend and killing her sister.
Gary Wade Rowland, 46, still faces charges that he drove his cousin John Barry Hubbard and alleged kidnapping victim Tammy Carpenter to a motel room that Rowland registered in his name.
Authorities said that Hubbard forced his way into Carpenter's home in Eoline on July 21, before fatally shooting her sister, Kandi Murphy, 30.
Investigators believe that Hubbard hid in the Talladega National Forest and at a motel in Greene County while officers conducted a massive two-day manhunt. Carpenter was able to escape from the motel, authorities said, and get help from a gas station clerk nearby.
Rowland was charged with kidnapping and capital murder after investigators said he drove Hubbard and Carpenter to the hotel and used his name to book the room.
Assistant Attorney General Andrew Arrington filed a motion to drop the capital murder charge last week, stating that there is no evidence to support the accusation. Bibb County Circuit Court Judge Jack Meigs agreed to drop the charge on Thursday.
Rowland is still charged with first-degree kidnapping.
Hubbard, 60, is charged with capital murder and first-degree kidnapping. A hearing in his case is scheduled for Sept. 22.
August 31st, 2015
County schools seek hike in budget - At a budget hearing Monday, Tuscaloosa County School System leaders proposed a $183.5 million overall budget for fiscal year 2016, which begins Oct. 1.
The proposed budget for the 2016 fiscal year is $13.2 million more than last year's budget of $170.3 million.
Sixty-six percent of the system's 2016 budget is expected to be spent on employee salaries and benefits, 15 percent on auxiliary services, 8 percent on debt services, 7 percent on operations and maintenance, 2 percent on general administrative services and 2 percent on other expenditures.
Revenues in fiscal year 2016 are expected to be about $4.6 million higher than revenues from fiscal year 2015, coming in at $174.8 million. Though the proposed budget exceeds expected revenues by about $8.7 million, the system is expected to have a general fund reserve of $19.2 million, which is about $700,000 more than last year's general fund reserve.
The minimum one-month general fund reserve that the system is required to keep by law is $10.49 million.
Fifty-nine percent of the system's revenue for FY2016 is expected to come from state funding, 32 percent from local funds and 9 percent from federal funds.
Some of the changes in FY2016's budget compared to last year are:
- Plans to purchase 37 school buses in June for a total of $2.9 million
- IXL, Act Aspire and InfoSnap instructional software added for a total of $232,000
- Special education services totaling $440,000
- Two maintenance trucks to be purchased for a total of about $90,000
- An additional special ed driver and aide hired for a total of $97,166
The system's second public budget hearing will be held Sept. 10.
Reach Jamon Smith at jamon.smith@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0204.
August 31st, 2015
SteelDrivers named opening act for Alabama concert - Nashville bluegrass band the SteelDrivers has been added as opening act for the Oct. 9 concert by country-rock superstar band Alabama at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater, booking agent Red Mountain Entertainment announced Monday.
The three-time Grammy nominees feature Muscle Shoals-area singer Gary Nichols on guitar and vocals, Tammy Rogers on fiddle and vocals, Mike Fleming on bass and vocals, Richard Bailey on banjo and Brent Truitt on mandolin.
Members of the relatively young band — its self-titled debut disc came out in 2008 — are mostly veteran performers who’ve played or recorded with legends such as Bill Monroe, Roland White, Vassar Clements, Loretta Lynn, Chet Atkins, Larry Cordle, Kenny Rogers, Michael Martin Murphey, Johnny Cash, Tammy Wynette, Ronnie Milsap, Alison Krauss, Dolly Parton, the Dixie Chicks, Neil Diamond, Wynonna Judd, Rodney Crowell, Radney Foster, Bill Anderson, Iris Dement, Randy Scruggs, Patty Loveless, Buddy and Julie Miller, Jim Lauderdale, Trisha Yearwood, Reba McEntire, Patty Loveless, Maria McKee and more.
The SteelDrivers’ four discs, also including 2010’s “Reckless,” 2012’s “Hammer Down” and the June release “The Muscle Shoals Recordings,” have all gone to No. 1 or No. 2 on U.S. bluegrass charts.
The Tuscaloosa Amphitheater show is still slated to start at 8 p.m., with doors opening at 7. That Friday is the day before University of Alabama takes on Arkansas in the 2015 Homecoming game, Saturday Oct. 10.
The three founding members of Alabama — Randy Owen, Teddy Gentry and Jeff Cook — reunited in summer 2011 to lead benefit concerts for Alabama tornado victims. Alabama’s first full concert since hiatus several years before that came in Sept. 2011, at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater as a benefit for local relief efforts. After expenses, the concert netted $169,467 for Tuscaloosa’s Storm Recovery Fund.
The band has been out on some small tours since, and this month, is scheduled to release its first new studio disc in 14 years, “Southern Drawl.”
Tickets for the Oct. 9 show are on sale now, for $25, $43.50, $53.50, $63.50, and $79, through Ticketmaster.com, at the amphitheater box office, or by phone at 800-745-3000. All seats will be reserved.
August 31st, 2015
UA's business college to offer free classes - The Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration at the University of Alabama will offer free classes to the community.
Classes available include QuickBooks and Bookkeeping, Computer for Beginners, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Financial Literacy.
To register, go to www.culverhouse.ua.edu/lift and click on the fall 2015 class registration tab on the left side of the page. Registration is also available by emailing lift@cba.ua.edu or calling 928-8258.
Registration deadline is Sept. 11.
Classes begin the week of Sept. 14.
All classes will be at The Edge downtown: 800 22nd Ave., intersection of Eighth Street and 22nd Avenue behind the federal courthouse.
August 31st, 2015
Dick's sets opening in Shoppes at Legacy Park - Dick's Sporting Goods will open its Tuscaloosa store on Sept. 9.
The retailer on Monday also announced plans for a three-day grand opening celebration.
Set for Sept. 11-13 in the new Shoppes at Legacy Park on McFarland Boulevard, the three days of events will feature free giveaways and appearances by former Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Gene Stallings as well as professional angler Skeet Reese.
Stallings, who coached the Tide to an undefeated season, the SEC championship and national championship in 1992, will be on hand to meet fans and sign autographs from 1-3 p.m. on Sept. 13.
There are rules to getting the autograph, though.
The company's website said 300 wristbands will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis at the store each morning beginning at 9 a.m., and customers must have a wristband and must be in the “Special Appearance” line by 1 p.m. to receive an autograph.
Reese, who was named the Bass Anglers Sportsmans Society (B.A.S.S.) angler of the year in 2007, will appear from 3-8 p.m. on Sept. 11. No autograph rules were given on the Dick's website for his appearance.
The opening of Dick's will mark the second major retailer to open in the Shoppes at Legacy Park, parts of which remain under construction at the intersection of McFarland Boulevard and 13th Street.
The Fresh Market held its grand opening Aug. 12. Bed Bath & Beyond and Cost Plus World Market are slated to open in mid-September.
The opening date for Pet-
Smart, another major retailer in the $55 million shopping center, hasn't been confirmed, but it appears on course to open during the first week of October, according to developers.
Shoe retailer DSW is expected to open Oct. 8.
Other tenants announced for the Shoppes at Legacy Park include Mountain High Outfitters, Tex-Mex restaurant Chuy's and Pyro's Fire Fresh Pizza.
In addition to the appearances by Stallings and Reese, Dick's will be giving away prizes.
On Sept. 11, the first 100 people in line before the store's 8 a.m. opening will be eligible for a free Reebok “Play Dry” T-shirt.
Guests who are in line at 7:45 a.m. each day will get a chance to open the Dick's Sporting Goods “Gift Locker,” which will feature free prizes from several name brands, such as Rawling's, Camelbak and Columbia.
Grand prizes are up for grabs each day, but are eligible only to those who are in line by 7:45 a.m. A $600 camping package from Marmot will be offered on Sept. 11, a free-standing basketball goal from Lifetime will be awarded on Sept. 12 and a pair of Asics running shoes, valued at up to $120, will be given away on Sunday.
For more information, visit dickssportinggoodsonline.com/grandopen/tuscaloosa/schedule.html.
August 31st, 2015
Morris, Coker, Bateman all listed as QBs - If you expected the University of Alabama's quarterback competition to reach a conclusion with the release of the depth chart Monday afternoon, you got bad news.
The three quarterbacks who had previously separated themselves — Jake Coker, Cooper Bateman and Alec Morris — were listed at the top of the depth chart, all bracketed together in the top spot.
“I've been really pleased with all three of the quarterbacks that have taken some reps in practice,” UA coach Nick Saban said. “Jake has really done a good job of getting the ball out of his hands and seems to be more comfortable with the offense. Cooper Bateman is more athletic. Has really improved as a passer and done a really good job of executing. Alec is very, very comfortable in running the offense in terms of knowledge and experience and that type of thing.
“Those three guys have gotten the bulk of the reps and each day we'll have a quarter that they get so many reps based on what we would do if they get the opportunity to play in the game. That's how we're going to address this week.”
Other notable depth chart items included redshirt freshman Marlon Humphrey listed as a starter at cornerback, with Tony Brown and true freshman Minkah Fitzpatrick listed as backups. Fitzpatrick is also listed as the starter at the Star defensive back position when the team is in nickel.
Alphonse Taylor and Bradley Bozeman are both listed at right guard with the first-team offensive line. Both have seen action at the spot during fall camp.
Dakota Ball is listed as the first-team tight end, with O.J. Howard listed as a tight end/h-back.
Former Central High School standout Lester Cotton is the backup left tackle.
Reach Aaron Suttles at aaron@tidesports.com or at 205-722-0229.
14 Jake Coker Sr./18 Cooper Bateman So./11 Alec Morris Jr.
6 Blake Barnett Fr./12 David Cornwell Fr.
Running back
2 Derrick Henry Jr.
17 Kenyan Drake Sr.
34 Damien Harris Fr.
Left tackle
74 Cam Robinson So.
66 Lester Cotton Fr.
78 Korren Kirven (questionable) Jr.
Left guard
71 Ross Pierschbacher Fr.
59 Dallas Warmack Fr.
68 Isaac Luatua Sr.
70 Ryan Kelly Sr.
63 J.C. Hassenauer So.
Right guard
50 Alphonse Taylor Jr./75 Bradley Bozeman So.
72 Richie Petitbon Fr.
Right tackle
76 Dominick Jackson Sr.
58 Brandon Greene Jr.
77 Matt Womack Fr.
Tight end
94 Dakota Ball Jr.
84 Hale Hentges Fr.
Tight end/ Halfback
88 O.J. Howard Jr./83 Ty Flournoy-Smith Sr.
46 Michael Nysewander Sr.
Wide receiver (Z)
13 ArDarius Stewart So.
4 Daylon Charlot Fr./7 Cam Sims So. (questionable)
81 Derek Kief Fr.
Wide receiver (X)
8 Robert Foster So./3 Calvin Ridley Fr,
23 Deionte Thompson Fr.
Wide receiver (H)
16 Richard Mullaney Sr./1 Chris Black Jr.
Defensive end
86 A'Shawn Robinson Jr.
93 Jonathan Allen Jr.
57 D.J. Pettway Sr.
Nose guard
95 Darren Lake Sr./94 Daron Payne Fr.
69 Joshua Frazier So.
Defensive end
90 Jarran Reed Sr.
54 Dalvin Tomlinson Jr.
9 Da'Shawn Hand So.
'Sam' linebacker
25 Dillon Lee Sr.
32 Rashaan Evans So.
34 Christian Miller Fr.
'Mike' linebacker
19 Reggie Ragland Sr.
20 Shaun Dion Hamilton So.
35 Walker Jones So./17 Adonis Thomas Fr.
'Will' linebacker
10 Reuben Foster Jr.
42 Keith Holcombe Fr.
'Jack' linebacker
30 Denzel Devall Sr.
22 Ryan Anderson Jr.
56 Tim Williams Jr.
5 Cyrus Jones Sr.
3 Bradley Sylve Sr.
21 Maurice Smith Jr.
26 Marlon Humphrey Fr.
7 Tony Brown So./29 Minkah Fitzpatrick Fr.
Short safety
4 Eddie Jackson Jr.
15 Ronnie Harrison Fr.
27 Shawn Burgess-Becker Fr.
Free safety
24 Geno Matias-Smith Sr.
23 Jabriel Washington Sr.
6 Hootie Jones So.
'Star' defensive back
29 Minkah Fitzpatrick Fr.
7 Tony Brown So.
21 Maurice Smith Jr.
Placekicker/ Kickoff
99 Adam Griffith Jr.
15 JK Scott So.

18 Cooper Bateman So.
11 Alec Morris Jr.

15 JK Scott So.
11 Alec Morris Jr.

Long snapper
55 Cole Mazza Jr.
46 Michael Nysewander Sr.

Punt return
5 Cyrus Jones Sr.
1 Chris Black Jr.
16 Richard Mullaney Sr.

Kick return
17 Kenyan Drake Sr. and 13 ArDarius Stewart So.
5 Cyrus Jones Sr. and 1 Chris Black Jr.
August 31st, 2015
Blue Bell resumes selling ice cream after listeria recall - BRENHAM, Texas (AP) — Blue Bell ice cream is back.
Blue Bell Creameries resumed selling its products at some locations Monday, four months after the Texas-based retailer halted sales due to listeria contamination at some plants prompted health concerns that drew the regulatory scrutiny of federal and state officials.
Blue Bell ice cream is available again at stores in the Houston and Austin areas, including in the company's hometown of Brenham, plus in parts of Alabama.
Some retailers limited purchases as Blue Bell brought out flavors including homemade vanilla, Dutch chocolate, cookies 'n cream and a side-by-side blend of chocolate and vanilla.
A Blue Bell delivery truck rolled up Monday to the Texas Capitol in Austin, with complimentary half-gallons for Gov. Greg Abbott, who shared the ice cream with his staff, said Cait Meisenheimer, an Abbott aide.
A grocery store in the Houston area held a Blue Bell ice cream-eating contest Monday.
The company had voluntarily recalled its products in April after they were linked to 10 listeria cases in four states, including three deaths in Kansas. Listeria bacteria can cause serious illness, especially in older adults, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems.
The company, according to its website, collected approximately 8 million gallons of ice cream and ice cream products.
Production plants in Texas, Oklahoma and Alabama underwent an extensive cleaning and decontamination, under the regulatory oversight of health officials. Hundreds of Blue Bell workers were laid off.
The Blue Bell plant in Sylacauga, Alabama, began producing ice cream in July. The company announced plans on Aug. 17 to resume distribution to some markets.
Officials with the U.S. Department of Commerce were in Brenham on Monday to announce a nearly $1.4 million grant to build a workforce and technical training center. The money goes to the Brenham Economic Development Foundation. Federal authorities cited Blue Bell issues and recent downturns in the oil and gas industries.
Texas billionaire Sid Bass became an investor in Blue Bell Creameries after the privately held company was unable to raise enough capital from existing shareholders, according to CEO and President Paul Kruse.
August 31st, 2015
Repairs requested for historic Shirley Place - The Northport City Council voted Monday to spend $6,625 for a new HVAC unit for Shirley Place, a historic, city-owned home in downtown Northport.
But it could take about $110,000 total to get the home in working order — the building has been unused by the city since the Shirley Place Foundation ended its lease on the building last year. The goal is to get the home repaired so that an outside organization will lease and use the building or do whatever the council decides to do with the building, said Northport City Administrator Scott Collins.
“We don’t want to do more than we have to, but we want to get it usable,” Collins told the council during a pre-meeting Monday night. “We don’t want to do it halfway.”
The council already approved $63,000 in repair work to the building in July, including replacing the roof, asbestos removal and repairs to the masonry of the historic brick building. But further inspections show that the building also needs new shutters, storm windows and the front porch needs a new deck, Collins said. The building also requires electrical work required, he said. The total cost for the additional work is $44,790.
“The reality is, right now, we have $75,000 available,” Collins said, referring to funds returned to the city by the Shirley Place Foundation for the Shirley Place home.
Collins suggested the city use a portion of that money it has in the bank now for the $44,790 in repairs, because the repointing of the building’s brick and the roof repairs cannot be done until next spring, Collins said. That means any additional funds not covered by the $75,000 could be built into the city’s 2016 budget, Collins said.
The home at 512 Main Ave., built in the mid-1800s, was the longtime home of Marvin Harper, Northport’s historian who died in 2009. Harper bequeathed the residence to the city in the 1990s. The property was entrusted to the Shirley Place Foundation, which had plans to construct a learning center on the site behind the home per Harper’s vision. However, the foundation transferred responsibility for the home back to the city in 2014 after estimates for the learning center came back higher than expected.
Councilman Steve Acker said he wants an organization to take responsibility for the building instead of the city of Northport. He said he was apprehensive of the city spending any more money on the building.
“I would like for the city to explore the possibility of a partnership with someone who would take care of Shirley Place,” Acker said.
But Councilwoman Judy Hayes, who represents the area where Shirley Place is located, has advocated for the structure to be fully renovated and restored.
The city plans to request proposals from qualified parties interested in entering into a long-term agreement to operate the home once its renovations are complete. Any future agreements would require council approval.
Although the additional repairs were discussed by Collins during Monday’s pre-meeting, they were not acted upon. The additional repairs will likely be proposed at some point in the future, Collins said after the meeting.
Reach Lydia Seabol Avant at lydia.seabolavant@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0222.
August 31st, 2015
Swinford out as superintendent - Tuscaloosa County Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Swinford is no longer superintendent.
At a school board meeting Monday, the board voted to change Swinford’s employment status from superintendent to consultant. They also voted to make Deputy Superintendent Walter Davie, who has served as acting superintendent since Aug. 19, the system’s interim superintendent.
“Due to the matters we already discussed and the situation she’s under, we’re going to change her status from superintendent to consultant for the remainder of her contract, which ends at the end of June 2016,” said Mark Nelson, president of the county school board.
“We appreciate everything Dr. Swinford’s done for us and we wish her nothing but the best moving forward. Our relationship with her will continue in a different status.”
Nelson said the board hasn’t decided if they will conduct a new superintendent search. They have 180 days to name a new superintendent, starting the day they named an interim.
“I appreciate the board’s confidence in my ability to lead the system during this time,” Davie said. “We are confident we have a lot of good things going. We will continue to work on that with the students in mind. We’ve got wonderful administration, faculty and staff at each of our local schools. That’s where the real work is done and we will continue to do all we can to support them.”
Swinford, who was named superintendent on June 17, 2013, couldn’t be reached for comment Monday evening. She will continue to make her salary of about $153,000 while she’s a consultant. The board hasn’t decided if Davie’s salary of about $111,000 will increase, but Nelson said it’s likely to rise since he now has added responsibilities.
Swinford has been on family and sick leave since Aug. 12. Nelson said she took time off because she has been under a lot of stress since her brother and her sister died within three weeks of each other this summer.
Davie has worked in education for more than 20 years, mostly with the Tuscaloosa County School System. He began his career as a teacher at Crestmont Elementary in 1990. He served as the principal of Davis-Emerson Middle School from 2006 until his appointment as deputy superintendent in 2011, principal of Cottondale Elementary School from 2000-05 and assistant principal of Matthews Elementary School from 1995-97. He also worked for Tuscaloosa City Schools as director of federal programs from 1997-99.
Reach Jamon Smith at jamon.smith@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0204.
August 31st, 2015
Man shot at apartment complex - A man was shot in the chest and arm Sunday night in the parking lot of a student apartment complex.
The victim, 24, told officers that he saw a baggie of marijuana in the parking lot of The Woodlands Apartments on Hargrove Road East, said Lt. Kip Hart, Tuscaloosa County Metro Homicide Unit assistant commander.
The man reached over to pick up the bag when he heard gunshots and realized he had been hit, Hart said.
The victim told officers that the shots were fired from a 2000s-model black SUV occupied by a man and woman.
Investigators searched the parking lot and recovered more marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Further information will be released at a media briefing scheduled for 1 p.m.
August 31st, 2015
Records sealed in Bentley divorce - A Tuscaloosa judge has agreed to seal records relating to the divorce proceedings between Gov. Robert Bentley and Dianne Bentley.
First lady Dianne Bentley filed for divorce on Friday.
On Monday, Circuit Court Judge Elizabeth Hamner granted a joint motion filed by attorneys to seal the records.
The “defendant holds a prominent office in the state of Alabama, and it would be in the parties' best interest that the public not be able to access the record in this divorce action,” the attorneys wrote in the motion filed Monday morning.
Only the Bentleys, their attorneys, their attorneys' office's employees, experts retained by the parties and court employees will be allowed to access the files.
Gov. Bentley is represented by attorney Lisa Woods of Homewood. Dianne Bentley is represented by L. Stephen Wright Jr., of the Najjar Denaburg P.C. firm in Birmingham. Gov. Bentley is scheduled to be deposed at his wife's attorney's office on Nov. 20, according to court files.
The Bentleys have been married since July 1965.
Hamner cited the a 1993 Alabama Supreme Court decision in which the court refused to unseal a court record because the case involved trade secrets and confidential information.
August 31st, 2015
View photos from Sunday's MTV Video Music Awards - View photos from Sunday's MTV Video Music Awards
August 31st, 2015
PARA and Focus on Senior Citizens get funding hikes - Tuscaloosa Mayor Walter Maddox has proposed $12,515,000 to be directed to 32 Tuscaloosa County-based agencies for fiscal 2016.
For the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, some 35 agencies received $12.497 million from the city.
Maddox, who presented his proposed budget on Tuesday to the City Council, suggested most of the agencies receive their current funding amount.
The City Council is expected to review the mayor’s proposed budget over the next few weeks before voting on it Sept. 22.
Some agencies that received funding in fiscal 2015 will receive less, or nothing at all, under Maddox’s proposal. Two agencies would receive more. Maddox is recommending increased funding for the Tuscaloosa County Park and Recreation Authority and Focus on Senior Citizens.
PARA Executive Director Gary Minor said the recommended increase, from $4.19 million this year to a recommended $4.26 million for fiscal 2016, would go toward general operations.
PARA last received an increase in fiscal 2014, when the City Council approved an additional $90,000 for a total of $4.19 million. (Fiscal 2013’s actual PARA appropriation included an additional $575,000 special appropriation.)
Since then, the agency has had level funding, and Minor said he was pleased to hear of the proposed increase.
“It’ll essentially help us with the cost of living,” Minor said. “It’s much appreciated because we know that times are economically tough for everybody.”
Minor said that the addition of facilities and amenities, such as the new soccer fields at Munny Sokol Park along with baseball and softball fields at Bowers Park means that maintenance and upkeep costs have increased.
And while the space net and tall tube slide in Snow Hinton Park remain under warranty, popularity since opening in June means PARA is directing more efforts toward cleaning up.
“This helps us to keep up,” he said. “If (PARA) didn’t do the parks and recreation, the city would have to do it. And we provide a good value. We’re proud of the hardworking team that we have, and we hope the city is, too.”
Morgan Mann, the new executive of Focus on Senior Citizens, said that, if approved by the City Council, the funding increase is “a big help.”
Like Minor, Mann said the money would be directed toward general operations of the agency.
Maddox is recommending Focus receive $122,500, an increase of $20,000 over fiscal 2015.
Focus moved this year from downtown Tuscaloosa to a new space at the Leroy McAbee Sr. Activity Center off Loop Road. That relocation brought additional expenses and costs that the funding increase will help offset, said Mann, who took over as executive director of Focus five weeks ago.
“We’re providing a lot of services, and there’s a great need,” he said. “There’s probably more of a need than we can even accommodate.
“Getting that funding helps us serve the seniors of Tuscaloosa County.”
Reach Jason Morton at jason.morton@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0200.
August 30th, 2015
Alabama isn't only team without starting QB - For the second time in as many seasons, The University of Alabama football team is barreling into its first game week without a named starting quarterback.
Last season, the Crimson Tide was one of the few notable teams in the country facing this dilemma, only resolved when Blake Sims was named the starter hours before the season began. This made the fifth-year senior a newcomer to a crop of veteran quarterbacks nationwide, from Jameis Winston at Florida State to Marcus Mariota at Oregon to Bo Wallace and Dak Prescott at Ole Miss and Mississippi State in the SEC.
Even most of the first-year starters were settled by then. By the end of fall camp in 2014, Hutson Mason was the de facto starter at Georgia, and Kenny Hill was named at Texas A&M. LSU was the only other high-profile SEC program to carry its quarterback battle into the first week of the season.
In 2015, Alabama’s starter might not be named that soon.
“How those guys develop and who we think can improve and develop the most during the season is also going to have something to do with this decision that we make,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said Thursday. “I would not rule out — I’m not saying we’re going to do this or that we even want to do this — but ... we may play more than one guy in the first game.”
This season, that would place Alabama in good company. While Texas A&M wrapped up its position battle last week when Kyle Allen was named the starter and LSU coach Les Miles pegged Harris as the leader in this year’s race, Georgia coach Mark Richt, Florida coach Jim McElwain, Oregon coach Mark Helfrich and Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher are all waiting to name their starters. While Helfrich has said he’d like to have his choice made before the first game and Fisher has made no indication either way, a two-quarterback season opener might be the theme in the SEC.
“My gut is we’ll probably keep (the competition) going in some way, shape or form,” Richt said Thursday. “It may roll into a game. There may be more than one guy going. If it was today, I think I’d probably play more than one.”
McElwain echoed his former boss at Alabama, confirming the Gators will play two signal-
callers in the opener.
“Like I’ve said, and I mean this, you guys keep pushing for this, but there isn’t a timetable,” McElwain said. “The timetable is: Figure out a way to win the football game with whoever is moving the team at that position and getting the right parts at the other positions as well.”
August 30th, 2015
UAPD searching for sexual assault suspect - A University of Alabama student told the university’s Police Department that she was the victim of a sexual assault off campus early Sunday morning, according to an email sent by UAPD.
The student told UAPD that she was walking in the 800 block of Magnolia Drive at 3:15 a.m. She said that a man in a white truck or SUV approached her and said that he was part of a church group that offers rides home. She got into his vehicle and when they arrived at her destination, the man prevented her from leaving and sexually assaulted her.
She was able to escape and fled from the vehicle.
She described the suspect as being in his early 20s. She said he was 6 feet tall, weighing about 185 pounds with short brown hair and brown eyes.
Anyone who has information about the suspect is asked to call UAPD at 348-5454 or Crime Stoppers at 752-7867.
August 30th, 2015
Northport to hire retail development director - Residential and retail growth has led Northport to hire some help to cope with the surge.
Northport will have a planning engineer start in October and is now seeking an retail development director to start in December, Mayor Bobby Herndon said. The planning engineer will work specifically with the planning and zoning inspection departments to assist with the increasing number of applications that come before the city. With 500 new homes being built off Mitt Lary Road in Northport alone, and other residential construction planned in the city, the position is very much needed, he said.
“It will help speed up processes along the way,” Herndon said. “The sole purpose is, as people bring in plans, to get them expedited and out the door.”
The new position, which has already been filled, will be under City Planner Flora Gay.
Northport has gone without an retail development director since the former director, Alan Harper, left in March 2014. Since then, a committee has been filling in, but there really needs to be a full time employee committed to the job, Herndon said.
“We've been doing it by committee, and the staff has been doing a great job,” Herndon said. “But we need to get the show on the road. Too many (businesses) are looking at us and we need someone full time.”
The position is important to the city, said City Administrator Scott Collins.
“We've been very fortunate with the level of interest we have gotten from retail development community,” Collins said. “This regards retail, entertainment and all areas of economic development, so much so we recognize the importance of having a professional in that position to assist the retail development process.”
The retail development director position will be advertised in mid-September with a goal of having it filled in mid-December, Collins said. The salary range for the job will be between $84,500 to $112,000.
After the hire, Northport plans to shift some of its organization to provide an assistant retail development director.
“We understand with the growth we've had recently it's going to take a team effort,” Collins said. “We will make some internal changes that will create an assistant director of retail development, responsible for assisting our business owners with the license process, the sales tax payment process and any other way we can assist our current retail community in doing business with the city and being successful.”
Reach Lydia Seabol Avant at lydia.seabolavant@
tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0222.
August 30th, 2015
Memory-care facility called The Tides focuses on the elderly - After working as a physician in Tuscaloosa for 20 years, Dr. Ramesh Peramsetty recognized what he saw as a gap in the services available to the elderly population.
The doctor envisioned an upscale, comfortable assisted facility with a home-like, instead of clinical, atmosphere. He decided to design and operate a community for seniors that is modern and incorporates therapies and techniques from evolving research and technology.
“I got the idea three years ago when I realized that there was a need here for a high-quality facility in a great location that’s locally-owned and has all of these amenities,” he said. “The mind and body need to be used all of the time. My concept it to keep the mind and body busy so it will function better for longer and people can have a higher quality of life.”
Peramsetty is the medical director of Crimson Village. He also owns Alabama Family Medical, Crimson Care, First Care, Tuscaloosa Med Spa and Tuscaloosa Weight Loss Center.
Crimson Village opened on 18th Avenue East in Alberta about two months ago. One side of the three-story building includes 70 apartments for elderly residents. The specialty-care assisted-living
facility on the other side of the building is called The Tides at Crimson Village and is for residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia. With a state license to house 32 residents, it’s the largest memory-care unit in the West Alabama area, Peramsetty said.
“We’ve been moving in one or two a day, so it really shows that there was a need,” said executive director Rebecca Dennis.
The ceilings are high, the floors are hardwood and walls of windows let in natural light. The hallways are wide to allow the residents to walk and explore as much as they like.
Mary Hewett was impressed by those features when choosing a facility for her father.
“I like that it’s new, that’s there’s good security and nursing staff,” she said. “It’s locally owned, and the location is very close to where I live.”
Peramsetty said the residents can maintain a better quality of living for longer if they’re able to stimulate their mind and body as long as possible.
There is a walking trail around the facility, with high brick walls surrounding the memory-care unit. A secure outdoor courtyard is large enough for several people to sit or walk in the sunshine. There’s cornhole in the memory-care unit and a workout room, Whirlpool and putting green on the assisted-living side.
Peramsetty wanted to incorporate the latest elder and dementia care research into the facility’s design and practices.
Studies indicate that Alzheimer’s patients consume more food when the food and dining plates contrast, said sales and marketing director Elizabeth Espy.
The dining room in the memory care unit is set with contrasting table clothes and Fiesta dinnerware, the color to be chosen by the menu that day.
Research has also shown that interaction with younger people can help dementia patients. Peramsetty wants to find University of Alabama students who are studying medicine, sociology or in a similar field and would live in the facility alongside the residents.
On Tuesday, Jimmy moved into the facility. After just a few hours, he had taken off his shoes and walked the halls with his wife Diana to familiarize himself with the layout of the building.
Residents can bring their own furniture and even their pets. A sign on a door in the assisted-living area warns that Tiger the cat could escape if the door is left open.
The staff has been surprised and happy with the community support received so far. Entertainers, including a Patsy Cline impersonator, church singing groups and bands, have volunteered at Crimson Village. UA students last week helped care for the grounds and iron residents’ clothing.
A grand opening at Crimson Village is scheduled to take place between 5 and 8 p.m. on Sept. 24. Anyone who wishes to attend can RSVP at 205-632-6699.
August 30th, 2015
Looking back: August 30 - -A federal judge banned civil rights demonstrators from Greene County, Perry County and Marion city schools to allow orderly desegregation.
-Schools opened in Pickens County under the desegregation plan of four grades this year on a freedom of choice basis for first, fourth, eighth and 12th grades.
-University of Alabama football coach Paul W. “Bear” Bryant, a longtime believer in the old adage that it’s the size of the fight in the dog that counts more than the size of the dog in the fight, commented after he got a fresh look at his football players at a supper: “I’ll guarantee you one thing, if that old saying about bigness really being in the heart isn’t really true, we’re going to be in a fix. They’re the skinniest-looking bunch of little old boys you ever saw.” Bryant added, “But they all look bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready to go.”
-The Tuscaloosa city school board met to deal with issues related to the desegregation of the school system the following week. Three schools were to be desegregated: Northington Elementary, -West End Elementary and Tuscaloosa High School.
-Deaths this week included Chester E. Walker, who served as probate judge here for 22 years.
-The Tuscaloosa grand jury returned a first-degree rape indictment against Roy E. Perkins, the Fayette County resident believed to be the central figure in a two-week rampage which terrorized a portion of Fayette and north Tuscaloosa counties.
-Historian Marvin Harper was honored on his retirement from the Tuscaloosa County Preservation Society after 25 years as its founder and executive director.
-A grand jury indictment formally charged David Thomas Leitner with the murder of his friend and pastor, Roman Catholic priest Father Francis Craven. The indictment cleared the way for Leitner to be tried by a jury on the charge he brutally murdered Craven, whose body was then burned on a trash heap on a dirt road in rural Tuscaloosa County.
-Tuscaloosa city officials were drafting an ordinance aimed at setting legal limits on noise levels, aimed at preventing intrusive noises.
-Power company crews worked nonstop to restore electricity to thousands of customers in Tuscaloosa after the remnants of Hurricane Katrina hit the city.
-Katrina refugees from Mississippi and Louisiana filled local lodgings; the Red Cross said it would keep the UA Rec Center open as a shelter as long as it was needed. The Crimson Tide football team gave up hotel rooms at the Sheraton Four Points Hotel so that evacuees would not be displaced; the Bailey Tabernacle CME Church housed and fed clients of the W.I. Moore Home, a group home for people who could not live on their own, who sought refuge in Tuscaloosa. Tuscaloosa City School officials worked feverishly to prepare for an influx of student refugees seeking to temporarily enroll in local public schools.
-The Tuscaloosa City Council named The Downs neighborhood a historic district.
-Johnny Windham, the owner and operator of Junction Grocery that sits in the Y formed by Alabama Highway 60 and 69, was found dead in his store near Moundville.
-After a slow start, the Crimson Tide beat Middle Tennessee State at Bryant-Denny Stadium 26-7.
-Two men were arrested in Northport for attempting to steal pieces of the 130-year-old Bull Slough Bridge. The Friends of Historic Northport plan to renovate the bridge and place it with the 1882 iron bow bridge as part of a new 200-acre nature park and arboretum near the Tuscaloosa Regional Airport.
-University of Alabama running back Mark Ingram would not play in Alabama’s season opener against San Jose State because of a knee injury. The No. 1-ranked football team opened the 2010 season with a rout of San Jose State, 48-3.
-Former Hale County Circuit Court clerk Gay Nell Tinker pleaded guilty to five misdemeanor counts of illegal absentee balloting.
-A woman impersonating a U.S. Army recruiter was stopped on Interstate 20/59 after sheriff’s deputies noticed that the U.S. government tags on the front and rear of the vehicle did not match. The deputies seized the 403 pounds of marijuana she was carrying.
-Alabama would appeal an NCAA ruling of a two-game suspension of defensive end Marcell Dareus after an investigation into impermissible benefits related to agent contact.
-The Tuscaloosa County Park and Recreation Authority agreed to sell 76.1 acres of its Hurricane Creek Park to the state road department for the construction of the long-planned Eastern Bypass.
-The Crimson Tide started the season off with its 33-23 win over West Virginia in Atlanta.
The Tuscaloosa County License Commissioner’s Office opened a new branch in the Vance Town Hall.
-President Peter Millet welcomed more than 350 freshmen to Stillman College.
-Crimson Tide Sports Marketing signed a three-year sponsorship and concessions agreement with Bojangles,’ a fast-food restaurant specializing in chicken. Bojangles’ menu items would be sold at Bryant-Denny Stadium and Coleman Coliseum during sporting events.
-Deaths this week included Frank Calloway, a local folk artist and longtime resident of Bryce Hospital, believed to be 118 years old.
-The Salvation Army of Tuscaloosa broke ground on the new Center of Hope homeless shelter, which was destroyed in the April 27, 2011, tornado.
Compiled by retired News librarian Betty Slowe.
August 30th, 2015
Northport City Council Agenda: August 31 - The Northport City Council will consider the following items during its regular meeting at 6 p.m. at Northport City Hall:
-Second reading, permanent resolution accepting municipal improvements in Bristol Park Subdivision.
-Second reading, ordinance authorizing conditional use approval for a kennel at 4105 Flatwoods Rd..
-Appointing a member to the Mental Health Board.
-Appointing a member to the Civil Service Board .
-Resolution declaring certain items as surplus and authorizing their disposal.
-Resolution authorizing the city administrator to enter into an agreement with CCWA.
-Resolution accepting the 2014 municipal audit.
-Resolution adopting a hazard mitigation plan.
-Minutes, Aug. 3, 2015 regular meeting; & Aug. 17, 2015 regular meeting.
-Bill Listing.
-PO requisition, ADEM required testing, TTL, Inc. $8,000.
-Travel/training, 1 employee, traffic signal academy, six classes, $2,224.22.
-Travel/training, 1 employee, TES 201 NEMA Workshop, Oct. 20-22, Decatur, AL $744.
-PO Requisition, 6” inserta valve, Water Services Group, LLC $5,600.
-PO Requisition, AC and furnace replacement at Shirley House, Turner & Schoel, $6,625.
-Travel/training, 2 employees, ADEM surface water conference, Oct. 28-29, Montgomery, AL $779.64.
-PO requisition, WWTP drying bed improvements project, Krebs Engineering, $37,500.
-Travel/training, 1 employee, high center of gravity vehicle instructor school, Sept. 9-10, Montgomery, AL $0.
-Travel/training, 1 employee, domestic terrorism training, Sept. 10, Oxford, AL $0.
-Travel/training, 1 employee, officer involved shootings, Sept. 24, Oxford, AL $0.
-Travel/training, 9 employees, 2015 tactical officers conference, Oct. 19-21, Columbiana, AL $1,845.
-PO Requisition, re-striping wildcat drive, WB Builders, LLC, $7,392.80.
-Travel/training, 1 employee, coil cleaning & compressor operation seminar, Oct. 6th & Nov. 9th, Tuscaloosa, AL $105.
-Travel/training, 1 employee, southeastern law enforcement executive development seminar, Sept. 21-25th, Florence, AL $856.16.
-Travel/training, 3 employees, leadership management class, Florence, AL $616.
-PO requisition, University of Alabama, $25,000.
August 30th, 2015
Tuscaloosa City Council Agenda: August 31 - The Tuscaloosa City Council will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the council chambers on the second floor of City Hall, 2201 University Blvd. The following items will be on the agenda:
-Authorizing request for street lighting system modifications.
-Authorizing change order No. 1 for Sidewalk at Hargrove Road; deductive total: $1,505.00; time extension total: 26 calendar days.
-Authorizing an adjustment and refund of excess deposit to GJB LLC for installation of water mains and services for Moe's Original BBQ fire line; total: $2,678.77.
-Authorizing an adjustment and refund of excess deposit to Mountain View Apartments for installation of water mains and services for Mountain View Apartments water main relocation; total: $2,683.56.
-Authorizing sole source purchase of Sanitaire Liquid Cleaning System and on-site training from Xylem Water Solutions USA Inc.; total: $22,000.
-Declaring property surplus and authorizing its disposal.
-Authorizing change order No. 2 for Runway 11-29 Resurfacing and Marking Improvements Project; total: $1,100.Authorizing change order No. 1 for the Rosewood Sanitary Sewer Improvements, Phase Two project; total: $26,925.29; time extension: 45 calendar days.
-Approving the ABC application of Rock and Roll Sushi LLC for restaurant retail liquor and on premises retail beer licenses at 2229 University Blvd.
-Approving the ABC application of You're Awesome LLC for restaurant retail liquor and on premises retail beer licenses at The Wheelhouse, 2326 Fourth St.
-Approving the ABC application of AZA, LLC for a lounge retail liquor license at Corks and Tops Package Store, 1004 Seventh Ave.
-Fixing the cost for demolition of the structure at 2708 25th St. and authorizing the filing of a lien; total: $4,435.89.
-Rescinding a previous resolution awarding competitive bid for the purchase of body worn video cameras, bid no. 5010-022515-1, and awarding to next responsible low bidder, Kustom Signals.
-Amending the budget for the 2014 Alabama Trust Fund disbursements; total: $200,000.
-Amending the resolution establishing a budget for the Public Works Capital Fund.
-Authorizing the mayor to move the Holidays on the River from the Mildred Westervelt Warner Transportation Museum to the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater.
-Authorizing the mayor to execute a programmatic agreement between the city of Tuscaloosa and the state of Alabama Historic Preservation Office.
-Rejecting proposals for professional services related to wireless broadband network.
-Authorizing the Office of Federal Programs to make budget and program changes and to advertise those changes to the 2015 Action Plan of the City's Five-Year Consolidated Plan for Community Planning & Development Programs for program years 2015-2019.
-Authorizing a contract with Hach Company and declaring a bid law exception pursuant to Alabama Code §41-16-51(b)(7).
-Authorizing a minor public works contract with WB Builders LLC; total: $33,920.
-Authorizing a minor public works contract with WB Builders LLC for the 2015 Rice Mine Road Striping Project; total: $23,100.
-Adopting the 15th amendment to the Fiscal Year 2015 General Fund Budget.
-Amending Section 17-97 of the Code of Tuscaloosa.
-Amending Section 19-301(3)(d) and Section 19-302(f)(5) of the Code of Tuscaloosa.
-Amending Section 19-4 and 19-145 of the Code of Tuscaloosa.
-Amending Section 19-201 (e) of the Code of Tuscaloosa.
-Amending Section 19-176(a) and (b) of the Code of Tuscaloosa pertaining to the Serious Accident and Illness Leave (SAIL) Policy.
-Amending Section 19-62(b)(5) of the Code of Tuscaloosa.
-Adopting Annexation No. 641 to annex approximately 1.89 acres located at 1128 Forest Oaks Lane into the corporate limits of the city of Tuscaloosa.
-Amending Section 19-54(b)(1) of the Code of Tuscaloosa pertaining to job classification procedure.
-Amending Section 19-44 and 19-61(c) of the Code of Tuscaloosa.
-Amending Section 19-7(f) of the Code of Tuscaloosa.
-Amending Section 19-145 of the Code of Tuscaloosa pertaining to hours of work – generally.
-Amending Section 11-3 of the Code of Tuscaloosa pertaining to false fire alarms.
-Amending Article VI – Alarm Systems of the Code of Tuscaloosa.
-Amending Section 21-50(a) of the Code of Tuscaloosa.
-Introducing Zoning Amendment No. 1332 to rezone approximately 6.49 acres adjacent and to the west of 4400 Joe Mallisham Parkway, south of Grover Burchfield Drive from R-1 to ML.
-Setting Sept. 29 as the day for public hearing to consider adoption of Zoning Amendment No. 1332.
-Authorizing the payment of bills; total: $4,079.68.
August 30th, 2015
Family that survived Hurricane Katrina gathers to count its blessings 10 years later - Hands clasped hands and voices mingled as people joined in prayer to thank God for their lives and for the food they were about to eat.
“We gather here not to mourn, but to celebrate victory,” one said.
Victory, to them, is surviving Hurricane Katrina.
The Joiner family gathered in their home Saturday, filling their dining room and kitchen tables and every other sitting place with family, church members, co-workers and friends to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina with a breakfast feast.
“The purpose of (the breakfast) is to remember. Remembering everything that we have lost is remembering where God has put us,” Delores Joiner said.
On Aug. 29, 2005, the Joiners lost everything except their car, the contents of three duffel bags in its trunk and each other.
Their New Orleans home was destroyed by the Category 3 Hurricane Katrina — one of the most devastating and costly disasters in U.S. history. When Katrina hit New Orleans, the city’s levee system failed, causing more than 80 percent of the city to flood and more than 1,800 deaths.
When the Joiner family was allowed to return in November 2005 after shuffling from place to place before settling in Tuscaloosa, their house stood in six feet of water with roof damage and no windows.
Joiner pointed to her couch — the color of diluted, brown mud — in her Tuscaloosa home.
“Everything was the color of these chairs. Everything was covered with a grayish, brownish color from the river,” she said. “It was just dead.”
“We realized it was not safe to go back. We had been through enough devastation.”
They decided to stay in Tuscaloosa, where they stopped traveling after weeks of dislocation following Katrina.
Dominique Joiner, now 15, was 6 when her parents loaded her and her three siblings in the car and drove.
She remembers waking up in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the Causeway Bridge over Lake Pontchartrain, surrounded by panicking people as her dad climbed out of the car to get a banana from the trunk.
They were running from the storm, which would hit the next day, and she thought they were going on vacation.
The family traveled to Magnolia, Miss., to stay with a family member. After a week, they left headed back to Louisiana to stay with a friend in Baton Rouge.
Delores Joiner said there was nothing there, so they continued on to Abbeville, La., to spend the night with another relative when they received a text message from their pastor who had migrated to Alabama to take shelter at the Mercedes automobile plant in Vance.
The next morning they were on the road again until they reached Vance, where they stayed for two weeks until the shelter closed.
In that high-tech-looking room filled with 5-foot cots, they met Vanessa Casberry.
Casberry landed in the shelter after weathering the storm in the bathroom of her New Orleans home.
She said she woke up to the worst sound she had ever heard in her life, took shelter with her daughter and waited until it was over.
The houses behind hers were gone and debris was everywhere when she finally ventured outside to check the damage, she said.
She then evacuated.
“I had never heard of Tuscaloosa, never been here before and been here ever since,” Casberry said Saturday at the breakfast. “Ten years later, I can see the fruits of (God’s) labor. It is something I don’t want to celebrate, but I’m grateful. We’re still here. I’m alive. I’m blessed.”
“We just miss home,” she said.
But Tuscaloosa has become home for the Joiners.
They moved into a house on 32nd Avenue East in Alberta, and that is where they lost their second home on April 27, 2011.
Dominique said she had just stepped onto the last step in her basement when her ears popped and the sound of trees snapping sent her dog and her aunts into frenzy as her dad pulled the door closed against the suction.
A few seconds before she had been sitting in the living room with her family watching as TV weatherman James Spann cut in and out on the TV screen.
“I lost everything for the second time,” she said.
But they did not return to New Orleans after the tornado. They stayed in Tuscaloosa where they celebrate life and commemorate loss with the people who helped them through two natural disasters.
“Whatever we go through, we know there’s a God, and he allows us to make it through,” said Delores Joiner’s husband, Darryl Joiner. “We trust in him.”
August 29th, 2015
Disease, suicide claiming Alabama death row inmates before executions - BIRMINGHAM | Disease and suicide are claiming inmates on Alabama’s death row faster than the executioner.
With Alabama’s capital punishment mechanism on hold for more than two years because of legal challenges and a shortage of drugs for lethal injections, five of the state’s death row inmates have died without ever seeing the inside of the execution chamber.
John Milton Hardy, convicted of killing Clarence Nugene Terry during a robbery at a convenience store in Decatur in 1993, was the most recent death row inmate to die. Prison officials say he died of unspecified natural causes on June 15.
Convicted killer Benito Albarran, 41, hanged himself in the infirmary at Donaldson prison about two months earlier. A decade earlier, he was convicted of fatally shooting Huntsville police officer Daniel Golden outside a Mexican restaurant where he worked.
Golden’s brother, David Golden, said family members wanted to witness Albarran’s execution and felt cheated by his death.
“He took the coward’s way out,” Golden told reporters in Huntsville after Albarran killed himself.
Attorney Joseph Flood, who represented Albarran as he challenged his conviction in state court, said the inmate’s mother died a week or two before he took his own life.
“He fell into a deep depression after that,” said Flood.
In March, David Eugene Davis, 56, died of natural causes at Holman prison near Atmore after suffering from liver failure. He was convicted of killing Kenneth Douglas and John Fikes in St. Clair County in 1996.
Two more death row inmates died last year, Ricky Dale Adkins of cancer and Justin T. Hosch, who hanged himself at Holman prison. Hosch was convicted in Autauga County in the 2008 shooting death of Joey Willmore, and Adkins was condemned for killing real estate agent Billie Dean Hamilton in St. Clair County in 1988.
The last inmate put to death in Alabama was Andrew Reid Lackey, who died by lethal injection on July 25, 2013, for killing Charles Newman during a robbery in Limestone County in 2005. At the time, he was the first inmate put to death in the state since October 2011.
With 189 people currently on death row, the state is trying to resume executions, but legal challenges could be a roadblock.
The state is asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by death row inmate Tommy Arthur, who challenged the use of the sedative midazolam as inhumane during lethal injections. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the use of the drug in an Oklahoma case, but Arthur contends Alabama’s execution protocol is different from the one used there.
The state switched to midazolam after it had to halt executions because it was out of other drugs needed for lethal injections.
August 29th, 2015
Q&A: Wisconsin AD talks about Saban, Advocare Classic - Q: What’s the Wisconsin fanbase’s anticipation for this game been like?
A: I think our fanbase is very excited about the game. They’re excited about the quality of opponent. They’re excited to see a team like Alabama, compete against them. Excited to go to that stadium and experience that stadium. I think it’s been very positive from the minute we announced it.
Q: Is it odd that Alabama and Wisconsin haven’t met in such a long period of time? (Only meeting was in 1928, a 15-0 Wisconsin win.)
A:Yeah. I never really thought of it that way. Yeah, it’s strange. You’d think somewhere along the way we’d have played, at least in a bowl game or something.
Q: Do you think the teams’ style of play mirrors each other?
A: Yeah I think so. I’m very familiar with Nick Saban’s style of play from when he was here at Michigan State. He built his program there, was in the process of building his program with those principles. Very, very physical on both sides of the ball. Disciplined. I can see that same style of play at Alabama. That was the formula I used to build this program, and the other coaches have all used that same formula.
Q: How well do you know Nick Saban?
A:I’ve known Nick for quite a while. Nick actually grew up not far from where I grew up. As a matter of fact, as he drove from his hometown to Kent State in college, he’d drive through my community, a little mining town down in Western Pennsylvania. He’d stop and buy a footlong hot dog on his way to school or on his way back. I have a very good relationship and a lot of respect for Nick.
Q:Wisconsin is a football-crazed state like Alabama, too, right?
A:They love the Packers. The people in this state love their football. In Alabama, you just have college football, so they don’t have to split it with pro football. We have a lot of fans here who are fans of both. We have a really adamant fan base, and so do the Packers. For a small populated community, their numbers are off the charts and they speak for themselves.
Q:What was the experience like last year coming back and coaching in the bowl game?
A:Actually, I initially told our players I didn’t want to this time. Gary Anderson, when he announced to the players that he wasn’t coming back, and I visited with the players, after I visited with them, the seniors grabbed me and asked if I would coach. I told them I didn’t feel comfortable doing it again. I don’t want to make this a habit. I have a grandson on the team. But I asked him on the way home, I called him and asked him what he thought. He said, ‘Grandpa, I think that would be great, plus we need a little swagger on the sideline.’ I decided to do it, and it was really fun. I really enjoyed it. The players made it enjoyable. I went to it with a mindframe of ‘If I do it, I’m going to change everything.’ I’m going to change the way we practice. I’m going to change the strength program. I’m going to insert myself more into the game. We’re going to devise a game plan that gives us a chance to win. They really bought in.
Q:What are your impressions of Alabama?
A:I haven’t seen enough of it. I haven’t. I saw them play last year, naturally, being on the selection committee, I watched them play. I know they’re really well coached. I know a number of the guys on the staff. Mel Tucker was on my first recruiting class. He was in my first recruiting class. Lane Kiffin’s dad and I go way back to Nebraska. He was a grad assistant at Nebraska when I was a freshman. When I was a grad assistant he came on as a full-time coach. He and I go way back. So I know some of those guys.
August 29th, 2015
City schools see higher enrollment - Tuscaloosa City Schools enrollment has increased this school year by more than 100 students. A total of 10,046 students were enrolled as of Aug. 27, compared with 9,919 students a year ago.
Overall elementary schools enrollment increased, going from 5,031 students last year to 5,200 students this year.
But overall middle school and high school enrollments declined. The middle school dropped from 2,129 last year to 2,100 now. High school enrollment went from 2,759 last year to 2,746 now.
The Alberta School of Performing Arts saw the largest increase going from 289 students to 381 students. The school with the next largest growth was Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary, which had 421 students last year and has 474 students this year.
Northridge High School had the third largest growth, going from 1,236 students to 1,273 students.
“Alberta is larger because we added more grades to the program. We opened up slots to the community for children in fourth and fifth grades to participate through an application and audition process and we had more people move into the Alberta community,” said Lesley Bruinton, public relations coordinator for the system.
Bruinton said the school added sixth and seventh grades to the school this year. She said not enough parents applied to the school to justify them having an eighth grade this year, but eventually the school will add that grade, too.
Charles Anthony, coordinator of attendance and pupil services for the system, said opening enrollment at Alberta brought some people and their children into the city system, but overall growth in the city contributed too.
“We have these new areas — communities being built in the city — that are being developed where we have people moving in from out of state and are choosing to settle here in Tuscaloosa,” he said. “There's a lot of apartment housing that's come and is on the way. A lot of it seems to be geared towards university students, but a lot of families are moving in also.
“Right now Tuscaloosa city is really in transition. The demographic study is laying out a plan for the next few years. So it's exciting when looking at the number of students that we will be able to serve. We're talking about equity across the system and offering the same services across the system. I think parents know that the Tuscaloosa City Schools is on track. We're moving forward.”
August 29th, 2015
DCH has average ranking in study - DCH Regional Medical Center was rated average by a recent Consumer Reports magazine study that looked at patient safety — while the hospital scored high in some areas, including patient satisfaction, it scored below average in certain kinds of infection rates.
Consumer Reports releases its hospital ratings periodically. The ratings are based on data submitted to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The latest report for the first time included infection rates of two nasty bacterial infections — methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, and clostridium difficile, or c. difficile.
In its report, the magazine said it included those infections because they are deadly and common in hospitals. MRSA tends to find its way into patients through surgical incisions and tubes that deliver medicine and nutrition, while long-term treatment with antibiotics can kill off the helpful intestinal bacteria that keep c. difficile in check.
Each year, an estimated 648,000 Americans develop infections while they are in the hospital and about 75,000 die from them, according to the CDC.
“Hospitals need to stop infecting their patients,” Doris Peter, director of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center, wrote in the report. “Until they do, patients need to be on high alert whenever they enter a hospital, even as visitors.”
Consumer Reports gave hospitals safety ratings based on patient outcomes, which included avoiding infections, avoiding readmissions and avoiding death after surgery and medical care. The magazine also rated hospitals on patient experience, which included nurse- and doctor-patient communication, drug and discharge information and pain control, and on hospital practices, which looked at appropriate use of chest and abdominal scanning and maternity care.
DCH Regional Medical Center scored a 50 out of 100 in overall patient safety, according to Consumer Reports. The rating included data from Northport Medical Center, which was not rated separately. Both hospitals are operated by the DCH Health System.
The highest overall score in the state, 67, was held by both Clay County Hospital in Ashland and L.V. Memorial Hospital in Greenville. Fayette Medical Center, also operated by the DCH Health System, ranked third in the state with a 64. The lowest score in Alabama was a 28 at Russellville Hospital in Russellville.
“The rating places DCH Regional Medical Center in the middle of the pack of hospitals in the greater Birmingham area and the state,” said Brad Fisher, spokesman for the DCH Health System.
Among hospitals in Birmingham, St. Vincent’s scored highest with a 59. UAB Hospital, part of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, received a score of 40.
“DCH is proud of Fayette Medical Center’s rating,” Fisher said. “The scores for DCH Regional Medical Center are slightly better than the average for the state and better than many of the state’s larger hospitals, but we are not satisfied. We are striving to improve our scores, and we have already seen improvement in our scores year to date.”
Consumer Reports examined infections between October 2013 and September 2014. DCH scored:
-Better than average for bloodstream infections. Ten bloodstream infections were reported in the 12,116 days that its ICU patients were connected to central lines (tubes that provide medication and nutrition). This was 65 percent better than national rates.
-Better than average for c. difficile infections. DCH reported 100 c. difficile infections in 165,784 days its patients spent in the hospital. This was 29 percent better than national rates.
-</>Worse than average for surgical-site infections. DCH reported 21 surgical-site infections in 480 surgical procedures. This was 63 percent worse than national rates.
-Worse than average for MRSA infections. Eighteen MRSA infections reported in 182,215 days its patients spent in the hospital. This was 29 percent worse than national rates.
-Worse than average for catheter-associated urinary tract infections. DCH reported 34 catheter-associated urinary tract infections in the 13,835 days that its ICU patients had catheters. This was 7 percent worse than national rates.
The only hospital in Alabama that received high ratings across the board for avoiding infections was South Baldwin Regional Medical Center in Foley. No hospitals in Alabama were among the 12 identified as scoring low across the board for infection rates. Only 6 percent of hospitals nationally scored well against both MRSA and c. difficile.
In other patient outcome ratings, DCH was average for avoiding death after surgery and below average in avoiding death after admission to the hospital and avoiding readmissions.
The study looked only at the data provided to the CDC; it did not factor in criteria such as where a hospital is located or the condition of patients upon entering the hospital.
Among other components of the Consumer Reports study, DCH received a better-than-average rating for overall patient experience. Within that category, the hospital received high ratings for nurse-patient and doctor-patient communication and a better-than-average rating for pain control, and rated below average for communication about drug information and hospital discharge.
In ratings of hospital practices, DCH received high marks for appropriate use of abdominal and chest scans, which means a very small percentage of patients received double scans. The hospital did not have enough data to receive ratings for maternity care.
“DCH supports providing information on quality and patient safety so that consumers can make informed choices about their health care,” Fisher said. “Patients should use all available tools at their disposal to identify which health care decisions are right for them, such as talking with friends and family and consulting with doctors, nurses and other health care providers.”
Reach Lydia Seabol Avant at 205-722-0222 or lydia.seabol
August 29th, 2015
Questions raised on four area counties voter rolls - An Indiana-based public interest law firm announced on Thursday it was sending notices to 141 counties nationwide, including four in West Alabama, that their rolls of registered voters are greater than their voting-age populations based on an analysis of publicly available census and elections records.
The Public Interest Legal Foundation sent notices to Greene, Hale, Perry and Marengo counties. Election officials in Greene, Hale and Perry counties said they had not receive the letters as of Friday. Representatives with the board of Registrars in Marengo county could not be reached for comment.
Records provided by the Alabama Secretary of state show Greene has 7,230 registered voters and a voting age population estimated at 6,561. Hale has 12,042 registered voters compared to a voting-age population estimated at 11,641. Perry County has 8,521 voters on the roll and a voting-age population estimated at 7,621. Marengo’s voter roll has 16,108 voters and a voting-age population of 15,485, according to the secretary of state’s records.
Officials in Wilcox, Lowndes, Macon, Washington, Conecuh and Choctaw counties are also on the list of counties nationwide being notified about voting roll discrepancies.
The foundation’s letters to election officials warn the discrepancy was a violation of the federal National Voter Registration Act and failure to update the rolls could result in lawsuits.
The Public Interest Legal Foundation will monitor responses to the requests to clean up the rolls, according to the Thursday announcement. It hopes to have the rolls corrected in time for the 2016 elections, according to a copy of the letter sent to county election officials.
Alabama, with 10 counties, was tied with Colorado for fifth on the lists of states with the most counties being contacted. Michigan had 24 counties, Kentucky 18, Illinois 17 and Indiana 11, according to information released by the nonprofit Thursday. The foundation is a 501(c)(3) public interest law firm dedicated to election integrity, according to its website.
The Alabama Secretary of State’s Office has been aware of the discrepancy in voter rolls and voting-age population and is working to fix them, according to Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill.
Merrill’s predecessor Jim Bennett released a similar list last year, noting counties with discrepancies.
“This is a problem we inherited but one we are going to fix,” Merrill said.
As examples, Merrill noted recent legislation to make it easier to remove the dead from voter rolls and efforts being developed to partner with other states to compare rolls to keep them current.
There are several factors that likely play a role in the discrepancy, Merrill said. Some people have died and have yet to be removed, others have moved away, and still others have moved within a county to different precincts without notifying anyone of the changes.
“Every one of the counties has lost population since the 2010 census. I believe there are a number of people who are still on the voter rolls in those counties who don’t live there anymore,” Merrill said.
Then county boards of registrars are responsible for maintaining the voting lists with help from the Secretary of State’s Office.
The Greene County Board of Registrars noted voters who die should be removed from the list, but the board must wait for official word to do so. Other issues include underreporting of population on the census as well as people moving without notifying county officials.
Faye Cochran with the Hale County Board of Registrars is supportive of efforts to update the lists and expedite the board’s ability to keep them up-to-date.
“Unless we know they are not supposed to be on, we have to put them on,” Cochran said. “We can’t deny them just because ...The (U.S.) Justice Department would be all over us. We have to assume they are telling us the truth until we find some documentation that will prove them wrong.”
Reach Ed Enoch at ed.enoch@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0209.
August 29th, 2015
UAPD: Two robbed early Saturday morning - Two people were robbed and one received minor injuries early Saturday morning on Eighth Street, according to the University of Alabama Police Department.
An email from UA Police said a strong-arm robbery occurred off campus around 3 a.m. in the 1200 to 1400 block area of Eighth Street. Tuscaloosa police responded to the call at around 3:05 a.m., the email said.
The two victims were walking when they were approached by three men who demanded money. As the victims continued to walk away one of the suspects struck one of them and he fell to the ground, while the other victim fled.
The robbers took cash from the remaining victim’s wallet and fled the scene south on Gene Stallings Avenue.
The three robbers were described as black males. All wore denim jeans and red shirts.
Anyone with information the crime is asked to call University Police at 348-5454 or Crime Stoppers at 752-7867(STOP).
August 29th, 2015
Several Alabama players battling for final cornerback spot - There is talk that this year's Alabama defense could be one of the best in the Nick Saban era. So what is it exactly that makes everyone so sure the secondary will perform markedly better this season?
For starters, the unit, which has been prone to weakness at times during the last two seasons, has its most consistent player back in senior cornerback Cyrus Jones.
Jones is a leader in the back end of the defense, but he's just one half of the starting combination at corner. The other spot is still under review.
Redshirt freshman Marlon Humphrey, an Alabama legacy and five-star recruit, has made the most of his playing time at left corner. But he hasn't nailed down the position just yet.
“Marlon has played out there and done a pretty good job,” UA coach Nick Saban said. “Mo (Maurice Smith) has played and done a pretty good job, Tony Brown has played out there and done a pretty good job, (Anthony) Averett.
“So there's a lot of competition there. I really haven't decided who we'll play in the game. It's who gives up the fewest plays and who can be responsible and do their job. I think that's the most important thing when you play that position.”
That there are as many options for one spot in the secondary is good news for a secondary that struggled at times last season. That depth wasn't there, especially at corner the last two seasons.
There are still some questions to be asked about the safety spot which lost a lot of experienced talent in Landon Collins, Jarrick Williams and Nick Perry, but the position also has a bit of depth now with Geno Smith and Eddie Jackson, the presumed starters, and true freshman Ronnie Harrison who is a key reserve.
Then there Maurice Smith, who can play at least three positions in the secondary, and another true freshman, Minkah Fitzpatrick, who can play corner, Star and the Money position.
It's a word that's often overlooked because it's mentioned so often, but Saban said it's the competition in the secondary that's creating the depth.
“They're all competing,” Saban said. “…we alternate them all in there and the guys who play the best will be the guys that we'll make the decision about playing with. But I think it's important that those guys understand that they have to go out there and develop the trust and respect of their teammates, that they're going to be able to go out there and do their job on a consistent basis.
“I talked about attention to detail before and that's important. We gave up too many big plays so it's a point of emphasis that we play better in the secondary. So we're giving lots of people lots of opportunities in different positions.”
Big payday
When the University of Alabama and Florida State meet Sept. 1, 2017 in Atlanta, it will be the latest in a series of big paydays for the Crimson Tide program.
Alabama will make $5 million for the high-profile game, according to the game contract acquired by The Tuscaloosa News.
To put that into context, UA is scheduled to profit $15.5 million for its neutral-site contest from 2015-17, games with Wisconsin, Southern California in 2015 in Texas and Florida State, respectively.
The school will be given 30,000 tickets to sell, tickets ranging from $50 for student tickets to $225 for the high-end general admission. Alabama is designated the home team.
It will be Alabama's fifth appearance in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game. The team played Clemson in 2008, Virginia Tech in 2009, Virginia Tech in 2013 and West Virginia in 2014.
Reach Aaron Suttles at aaron@tidesports.com or at 205-722-0229.
August 29th, 2015
Interim leader selected as new director of Tuscaloosa Public Library - The Tuscaloosa Public Library's interim director, Rick Freemon, has been selected by the library's board of trustees to be the system's next executive director.
Freemon, who was named interim director in November, was chosen over two other candidates after a final round of interviews before the full board on Friday.
The board voted unanimously to appoint Freemon and offered him a $90,000 annual salary.
"It's a great relief," said Freemon, 51. "I've worked hard to keep the library going in the direction we want."
Freemon was chosen to temporarily lead the library after the departure of Mary Elizabeth Harper, who took a leave of absence on Nov. 17 after meeting with the library's legal counsel and two board of trustee members to discuss a series of complaints that had been made by library employees.
Harper never returned to her position and submitted her resignation to the board on Dec. 29.
With employee morale a subject of the complaints, many of the questions asked of the three executive director candidates dealt with this or similar topics.
Freemon, who has worked at the Tuscaloosa Public Library for almost 17 years, said he was familiar with the complaints and intended to immediately begin addressing them.
"I fully understood the circumstances before accepting the position of interim (director)," Freemon said. "That'll be one of the priorities, finding a mode of communication that will work best for everyone."
Freemon began his library career in Florence, where he spent 10 years before coming to Tuscaloosa.
During his interview, he told the board that he has come to know and understand the library and those who visit it.
He told the board that he has plans for extending the Tuscaloosa Public Library's presence within the area through activities like "pop-up libraries." These events would be set up outside major areas of commerce, allowing people to get library cards and possibly check out materials.
"Anything we can do to showcase what we have here is going to boost our usage and, by extension, our effectiveness," he said.
When asked about changes he's made since taking over as interim director, Freemon said he stopped a regular morning meeting because it had become ineffective.
What was meant as a gathering to plan for the day had devolved into a "social gathering," he said, and the information that was meant to be shared could more effectively be conveyed through email and direct communication with supervisors.
Still, the problem wasn't completely corrected, he acknowledged.
He also said that he has a tendency to not panic and find ways to mediate difficulties between employees and management.
In light of recent complaints of homeless patrons sleeping in the library, an issue that was raised through a letter to the editor printed in The Tuscaloosa News, Freemon said it was difficult, at times, to be sensitive to the concerns of the library's patrons while still serving the public, but it's a challenge he's ready to accept.
"It's a tightrope," he said, "but it's one we have to walk."
Freemon will oversee a library system with a $3.9 million budget. The system serves 201,872 Tuscaloosa County residents with a main library, two library branches and two bookmobiles with a $3.9 million budget.
Freemon has been with the local library since 1998 and in that time implemented the library's Brown Branch at the Bobby Miller Activity Center and coordinated the library's 1999 renovation project.
Freemon has a bachelor's degree in studio arts from the University of North Alabama and a master's degree in library and information studies from the University of Alabama.
He and his wife, Darlene, have been married 11 years and live in Tuscaloosa.
Reach Jason Morton at jason.morton@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0200.
August 29th, 2015
West End park renamed for late Tuscaloosa councilman Burrell Odom - The sign that once read West End Park on the corner of Eighth Street and 33rd Avenue now marks the site as Burrell G. Odom Park.
The Tuscaloosa County Park and Recreation Authority on Friday rededicated the park for the Tuscaloosa City Councilman, who died in December 2014, in remembrance of his service to the community.
Odom was serving his first term as representative of District 1 — western Tuscaloosa south of the Black Warrior River — when he died at age 62. His widow, Phyllis Odom, replaced him on the City Council.
Odom's family attended Friday's ceremony at the park.
Odom's son, Damon Odom, said the renaming of the park is important for his father's legacy because of his hard work, dedication and care for the community.
"To have the park named after him, that's history," Odom said. "Over the years, in the future, the kids are going to come, and they'll look at that sign, and they're going to know his story."
Odom was active in support of Tuscaloosa City Schools, the Tuscaloosa Golf Association, the Stillman College Alumni Association and Weeping Mary Baptist Church, said PARA director Gary Minor.
Odom attended Stillman College from 1970 to 1974 and also took classes at Shelton State Community College's C.A. Fredd Campus. He served in leadership roles in the PTA at Stillman Heights Elementary and Central High schools. He was a member and deacon at Weeping Mary Baptist Church and was a member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the NAACP and the Stillman College Alumni Association, where he served as president.
Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox said the renaming of the park is a way to honor a public servant who cared about the people of his district, the people of Tuscaloosa and the future of children in the Tuscaloosa community.
"In parks, especially in our parks across the city, it's a refuge. It's a place of hope. It's a place of happiness. I often think ‘What's heaven like,' and when I try to envision maybe what that is, I like to think it has the imagery of a sunset and the sounds of children playing and choirs singing," Maddox said. "For me, parks can capture so much of those theories — a little piece of heaven right here on Earth. So, I imagine today, somewhere Mr. Odom is looking down from heaven, and he's pleased."
August 29th, 2015
Pay equality advocate Lilly Ledbetter to give talk Saturday at University of Alabama - Alabama native and gender-pay equality advocate Lilly Ledbetter will give a free public lecture and take questions today during the Blackburn Institute’s annual symposium at the University of Alabama.
Ledbetter will give the Frank A. Nix Memorial Lecture at 3 p.m. in the Ferguson Center theater. The lecture is co-sponsored by the UA Panhellenic Council. Seating will begin at 2 p.m. and will be first-come, first-served. Her memoir, “Grace and Grit,” will be available for sale, and Ledbetter will be available to sign books immediately after her talk.
She is the namesake of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. She was the plaintiff in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., filing suit against the company because she was paid less than her male co-workers in the same job at the Goodyear plant in Gadsden.
August 29th, 2015
Tuscaloosa Magnet, Westlawn middle schools hosting open houses Thursday - Tuscaloosa City Schools has open houses scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at Westlawn Middle School and the Tuscaloosa Magnet Middle School.
The open houses are an opportunity for parents to meet their children’s teachers and find out what their children are expected to learn, according to a news release.
Tuscaloosa Magnet Elementary School will have an open house Sept. 8. All city elementary schools will have open houses on Sept. 10. Open house for the Tuscaloosa Career & Technology Academy will be Sept. 17. All open houses will begin at 6 p.m.
The city’s high schools will not hold open houses.
August 29th, 2015
Repair to close portion of Tuscaloosa's 25th Avenue for a week - The intersection of 25th Avenue East and Seventh Street East will be closed for a week starting Monday. The closure will allow Ryan Shirley Inc. to install storm drainage structures. Detour signs will be posted.
August 29th, 2015
TUSCALOOSA STREET-SWEEPING LIST: Aug. 31 - Tuscaloosa crews will be sweeping streets in the following general areas of the city this week: 15th Street to Hargrove Road (Forest Lake Area), Meador Drive, Highland Oaks Drive, Springbrook, 36th Street East, Heatherbrook, Redbud Lane, El Dorado East, Woodland Forest Drive, Overbrook Road, Orchard Lane, Bryant Circle to Huntland Drive, First Place NE, Summerfield Drive, Green Acres Drive, 46th Avenue East, Lynn Haven, 14th Place East, Redmont Drive, Hillsdale Circle, Brookhill Road, Ridgewood Road, Somerset Place, Firethorn Drive, Hillswood Lane, Woodland Hills Drive, Red Oak Lane, Oak Chase, Waterfall Lane, Brook Highland Drive, Bluegrass Parkway, Sierra Drive, Meretta Lane, Lake Ridge Lane, Grand Arbor Drive, Shamley Drive, Harbor Ridge Way, Yacht Club, Normandy Place, Essex Circle NE.
Residents in these areas are asked not to park on the street during the week.
August 29th, 2015
No interim CEO will be appointed at Alabama One - No interim CEO/manager will be appointed to run Alabama One Credit Union, according to the head of the state agency that regulates state-chartered credit unions.
On Thursday, the Alabama Credit Union Administration (ACUA) put Alabama One into conservatorship and dismissed Tuscaloosa-based credit union’s management.
Sarah Moore, ACUA’s administrator, said Friday that staff from her agency and two people who have been named ACUA special agents have been put in charge of running Alabama One, one of the state’s largest credit unions with more than 60,000 members and around $598 million in assets.
Moore said Alabama One members will be able to conduct business as usual and have complete access to their money and accounts during the conservatorship. There is no timetable for how long the credit union will be in ACUA conservatorship.
Credit union members’ deposits are safe and secure and will not be affected by the state action, she said. All individual and joint credit union accounts also are insured up to $250,000 by the federal government as are separate individual retirement accounts and Keogh retirement accounts.
The ACUA’s board voted unanimously on Thursday to put Alabama One in conservatorship. citing the failure of the credit union’s management to comply with a cease-and-desist order that was issued in spring and mandated major changes in Alabama One’s operations. The conservatorship effectively put the state regulators in charge of the credit union’s operations, and Moore said the goal is to make sure Alabama One’s operations are brought into compliance with state and federal regulations governing credit unions.
Alabama One’s CEO/manager John Dee Carruth, in-house attorney Paul Toppins, board of directors and supervisory committee members were dismissed when regulators took control of the credit union, Moore said. Also fired were chief operating officer Martie Patton, business lending manager Tammy Ewing and two other employees who Moore
declined to identify.
Carruth issued a statement on Thursday saying state officials politically connected attorneys with civil suits against the credit union, and regulators conspired to hurt the credit union and its officials. He said he intends to fight the action.
In its conservatorship order, the ACUA said it took the action because Alabama One had:
- Willful violation of the cease-and-desist order;
- Concealment of books, papers, records and assets from examination and inspection by authorized ACUA agents;
- Persistent patterns and practices by Alabama One officers and employees who used their positions to jeopardize the assets and interest of credit union members.
The order went on to say preferential terms and conditions were given in credit to insiders and the brother of an executive officer; auto loan documents were falsified on insider loans; an officer or employee of the Alabama One received “a thing of value and personal advantage in connection with procuring or endeavoring to procure a loan.”
The order said Alabama One’s leadership had persistent patterns and practices of deficient underwriting and deficient credit practices, failures to exercise prudent risk management and failure to comply with regulatory directives and applicable laws and regulations.
The order also mentioned confidential documents
reviewed by the ACUA board. Those documents have not been made public.
Conservatorships of state credit unions are relatively rare. Moore said it probably has happened in Alabama about five or six times in the past 25 to 30 years.
Patrick Rupinski can be reached at patrick.rupinski@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0213.
August 29th, 2015
Capitol School's International Story Time - 30732
August 29th, 2015
Tuscaloosa leaders discuss efforts to grow retail in West End - Tuscaloosa City Council members and staff, business community members and officials with the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama brainstormed Friday on ways to stimulate retail growth in underserved areas of the city.
The two-hour session began with a discussion of factors that affect where retailers decide to locate when they come to the city. The talk ranged from strategies to better sell the potential of the West End to ways for city leaders and staff to aid recruitment.
The education session was part of an effort to develop a game plan for underserved areas in the city, said Jim Page, president of the chamber.
"We want to hear from economic developers about it," Page said.
The group of business owners and real estate representatives noted often retailers considering locating in the city come prepared with preconceptions about where they want to locate after using data mining demographics and other information on the city.
"They all want the same area," said Steven Deal with Pritchett-Moore Realty, referring to the corridors along McFarland and Skyland boulevards and 15th Street.
The challenge is to highlight the potential of the community, which may not be reflected in the data being studied. As examples, the group talked about focusing on the spending power of those who work but might not live in West Tuscaloosa and the students and staff of Stillman College.
The group discussed with Stillman President Peter Millet the possibility of studying the economic impact of a football game at the private school as well as the spending habits of students.
Councilman Harrison Taylor argued the West End has a captive audience waiting to be tapped for economic development.
"It's there. It's a secret that has not been told," Taylor said.
Taylor was joined by fellow council members Eddie Pugh and Phyllis Odom.
"What does the city do? What do we do to help make your job easier?" said Pugh, who represents District 6.
The ideas discussed during the brainstorming session included easing some of the zoning requirements to make it easier for retailers to locate in underserved areas, developing a comprehensive plan by the city that could be shown to developers, considering different ways to incentivize businesses to locate in underserved areas and maintaining and updating buildings in the community.
The group hopes to meet again in the coming weeks to continue the discussion.
"There are lots of threads that might lead to help and I think we need to follow those threads," said Al Spencer, vice president for economic development with the chamber. "I think follow up is key."
Reach Ed Enoch at ed.enoch@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0209.
August 29th, 2015
Dianne Bentley files for divorce from Gov. Robert Bentley - MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama first lady Dianne Bentley is filing for divorce from Gov. Robert Bentley.
The complaint filed Friday morning in Tuscaloosa says that the couple's 50-year marriage has suffered an irretrievable breakdown and that attempts at reconciliation are futile.
The filing says the couple has been living apart since January.
August 28th, 2015
Savannah State lockdown lifted after 1 injured in shooting - SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — A Savannah State University spokeswoman says a campus lockdown has been lifted after one person was injured in a shooting near the student union.
University spokeswoman Loretta Heyward tells The Associated Press the lockdown was lifted around midnight Thursday.
Heyward says one male was taken to a hospital with injuries after the shooting.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether a suspect was in custody. No further details were immediately available.
August 28th, 2015
Cool weather won't last for long in Tuscaloosa - Temperatures in Tuscaloosa tied the record low by reaching 59 degrees Wednesday night, but the cool temperatures won’t last long.
Today, temperatures are expected to rise with highs in the lower 90s and a high temperature of around 90 degrees on Saturday. Sunday may be slightly cooler with some rain coverage expected that day, said Holly Allen, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Birmingham. But temperatures will likely be in the upper 80s that day.
August 28th, 2015
Bill Nye, 'The Science Guy,' to speak at University of Alabama in September - Bill Nye, “The Science Guy,” will speak next month at the University of Alabama about the importance of teaching evolution as part of the Blount Speaker Series/Alabama Lectures on Life’s Evolution Lecture Series.
Nye’s His talk is scheduled for 7 p.m. Sept. 28 in the concert hall in the Moody Music Building, 810 Second Ave.
Free tickets to the event will be distributed in advance through several campus locations, including the Alabama Museum of Natural History, 427 Sixth Ave.
Museum staff will distribute tickets from 1-3 p.m. Sept. 24 in the grand gallery on the second floor of Smith Hall.
August 28th, 2015
University of Alabama expert says Virginia shootings fit pattern - The on-air shooting of WDBJ-TV cameraman Adam Ward and reporter Alison Parker in Virginia on Wednesday drew national attention as videos of the deaths circulated on social media and dominated the day’s news cycle.
While the deaths fit a pattern of workplace shootings, Adam Lankford, an associate professor of criminal justice at the University of Alabama, believes the shock and public attention they commanded are likely the result of a couple of factors.
Ward and Parker were shot to death by a disgruntled former reporter Wednesday morning during a live broadcast for a segment about tourism. The shooter, Vester Lee Flanagan, later posted a short video he recorded of the killings on Twitter and Facebook. Flanagan shot himself at the end of a highway pursuit by law enforcement and later died at a hospital of the self-inflicted wound.
“Clearly, it was a work relationship, the fact that he felt aggrieved and likely has a distorted perspective of victimization very well fits with the stated motives of other work place shooters,” said Lankford, who researches and writes about aggression, violence, counterterrorism and
international security.
But Lankford believes the on-air deaths during a mundane news cast violated a sense of security.
“We do all have the experience of watching a live (spot) on TV on with a reporter outside,” Lankford said.
Lankford also believes the public professional roles of the slain reporters contributed to the shock. TV reporters are likeable personalities people bring into their homes, a place of safety, during the news broadcast.
“It is devastating in part because that person is suddenly killed,” Lankford said.
The calculated nature of the killings and documentation by the shooter increases the sense of maliciousness, Lankford argued.
The video documentation of the death was the introduction to an hours-long manhunt. Lankford argues the dramatically developing news story, with details emerging throughout the day, fits a historic pattern of events that have captivated the nation. Lankford noted the coverage the police pursuit of O.J. Simpson along California freeways in 1994.
“We saw the same kind of things on the Boston (Marathon) bombing as well. People on the edge of their seats watching,” Lankford said.
Reach Ed Enoch at ed.enoch@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0209.
August 28th, 2015
Troupe of troops plays for laughs; GIs of Comedy to perform today at Bama Theatre - Thom Tran remembers never being able to connect with the entertainment while overseas serving his country in operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. He retired from the Army in 2005 because of the wounds he received in combat, and comedy became his therapy.
When Tran started his “comedic troupe of troops,” the GIs of Comedy, in 2010 he said his goal was to bring that therapy to his fellow soldiers.
“I wanted to be able to take some entertainment to service men and women overseas that they could connect with,” Tran said. “We have literally been in the same boots, the same uniforms as they have. As veterans, we can connect with them better.”
The GIs of Comedy, a group of veterans from different branches of the military, will kick off the Alabama All Veterans and Family Reunion this weekend.
The 90-minute comedy show will begin tonight at 7 at the Bama Theatre, 600 Greensboro Ave. Tickets are $6.50 per person, and can be purchased at the theatre or in advance at giofcomedy.brownpapertickets.com. Kids 12 and younger get in free.
All events are free to veterans and their families who register for the weekend’s events, with the exception of a formal dinner Saturday. For more information and to register, go to www.alabamaveterans reunion.com.
Other weekend events include a motorcycle honor ride, the Veterans Appreciation Festival, a formal dinner and a memorial service.
“Our goal is to provide a place where they can come and enjoy time with their families,” said Brandt Garrison, Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports Commission director of communication and public relations. “We also hope they have an opportunity to meet old friends and make new ones who have similar stories.”
Saturday’s events will begin with the 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 walk, which will give veterans an opportunity to reflect.
The 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 and can be purchased at alabamaveteransreunion.com.
The dinner will feature motivational speaker, fitness guru and celebrity veteran, Noah Galloway, whose left arm and leg were severed during an explosive device attack three months into his second tour of duty during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Galloway 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.”
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 the memorial service held at Veteran’s Park from 8-10 a.m. Sunday.
“This veterans’ reunion event, for us as an organization, is really special because it’s an opportunity for us to give back to the veterans and provides an opportunity for them to be celebrated and honored as a thank you for their service,” Garrison said. “The GIs of Comedy is going to be a great feature for the weekend because they can relate to our veterans. With bringing (them) to Tuscaloosa, we feel like this will also give people who live in Tuscaloosa the opportunity to come out and be around our veterans and support our veterans.”
August 28th, 2015
Candidates for Tuscaloosa Public Library director answer questions at public forum - How do you define innovation, and what will you do to keep innovation alive at Tuscaloosa Public Library?
This was the question the final three candidates for the executive director position at the Tuscaloosa Public Library were asked Thursday night during a public forum.
The overall answer among the three candidates was to survey the public to determine the needs of the community.
“Ultimately we're here to serve the public. The ideas can come from staff, from the board, from our funders, even from our partners,” said Richard “Rick” Freemon, the library's interim executive director.
Freemon, a Tuscaloosa Public Library employee since 1998, assumed the interim position after Mary Elizabeth Harper resigned in December.
He offered no new ideas but talked about the current projects the library is working on, such as early learning stations in tablet form designed to be physically robust for young users, mobile hotspots for the public to check out the Internet and take it home, and e-cards to give library patrons access to electronic files only.
Freemon said the library could reach out to the multiple college libraries in the community for ideas and resources in addition to surveying the public.
Kathy Parker, who has been the library director for the Glenwood-Lynwood Public Library District in Lynwood, Ill., since 2002, agreed that finding innovative programming should come from looking at other libraries, looking at what's going on in the world outside of libraries and asking the staff and ultimately the public who are talking to the staff on a daily basis.
Parker, who has worked in all different departments of libraries since she was 14, offered two new ideas — geocaching and book delivery on demand.
She said geocaching, a game of searching for hidden objects by using Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates posted on the Internet, could bring in new library patrons.
Her book delivery on demand, she said, would be like ordering a pizza and having it brought to your door. This would give patrons the option of calling in an order for a book and having it delivered.
Mark Cole, who has served as library director for the Satilla Regional Library in Douglas, Ga., since 2006, offered no new ideas but talked about some of the innovative projects he has been involved in with his library's two-county system of six libraries.
He talked about implementing a call forwarding closing procedure at the smaller branches of his library system that close earlier. It forwarded calls to the main library so patrons could speak to a person instead of a machine during the smaller libraries' after-hours.
He also mentioned his experience with constructing a 10,000-square-foot library from the ground up and making it energy efficient in an effort to reduce the electric bill of such a large facility.
He agreed with the other two candidates, saying that any new ideas needed to come from the community and library staff.
“Stakeholders who are receiving the benefits of the library's services and the people who work in the library are the ones who have to pitch in and come up with new ideas and meet the needs of the community,” he said.
After answering the question, the candidates fielded questions from the audience, who were also asked to leave feedback based on the candidates' presentation skills, knowledge and enthusiasm for libraries, communication and listening skills and more.
The final three candidates, who were chosen from an initial pool of about 30 applicants and then narrowed down to eight, will go into the final round of interviews today with the library board of trustees.
The executive director will earn a salary ranging from $85,000 to $110,000.
Considering the decision-making period, the background investigation of each candidate and the time it will take for each to give notices at their current jobs, the new executive director should be onboard by mid to late November, said Jobeth Bradbury, owner and partner with the Kansas City, Mo.-based Bradbury Associates/Gossage Sager Associates, a firm that specializes in executive searches for libraries.
“I know the public is anxious because we have not had a formal executive director in this position since January,” said Vince Bellofatto, the library's director of communications and public relations. “(The public forum) was an opportunity for the public to meet, talk to and address questions to the three candidates because we are the public library, and we're publicly funded.”
One member of the public, Annette Dudgeon, chimed in on what qualities she hopes to have in the new executive director.
Dudgeon said she would like to see “someone who keeps abreast of what's happening; someone who works well with other community agencies and government officials; someone who interacts well with the staff and the public and recognizes how important a library is to our community and building literacy.”
August 28th, 2015
Nick Saban has three candidates at quarterback, but keeping quiet as to who the starter might be - <!-- Start of Brightcove Player -->
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With just eight days remaining before the season-opening contest against Wisconsin, Nick Saban said three quarterbacks remain in contention for the starting job, and that he hasn’t ruled out playing multiple quarterbacks.
Senior Jake Coker, redshirt sophomore Cooper Bateman and redshirt junior Alec Morris have separated themselves out of the five.
“Those are the three guys that got the bulk of the work,” Saban said. “Everybody gets work. Everybody’s working but those guys got the bulk of the work.”
Saban didn’t mention a hierarchy within that group, but as the game nears the rep division gets more critical.
“Who those guys are exactly and what order they’re in exactly, that hasn’t been decided quite yet,” Saban said. “But I have been pleased with the way all three of the guys played this week. They’ve all done a really, really good job. I’ve seen a lot of progress offensively this week.”
The lack of a starting quarterback hasn’t hurt preparation, Saban said, noting that the team usually prepares two quarterbacks to play during a game week. He’s been pleased with the improvement the team is showing.
“I think that’s been one of the most encouraging things, is I see some continuity, togetherness. The offensive line is a little more physical, playing with more toughness.
The receivers definitely made a big step this week in improving, and I think because of that the quarterbacks trusted them a little more and I think they gained a little confidence that guys are going to be precise in what they were supposed to do and they can count on delivering the ball where it should be delivered. That was a really, really good thing this week.”
For the first time since fall camp opened, Saban mentioned David Cornwell, a redshirt freshman who exited spring practice in contention for the starting role.
“David Cornwell has done a really, really good job,” Saban said. “Struggled a little bit early on in camp. He’s certainly getting better all the time, and we have a lot of confidence that he’ll be a good player in the future.”
As for a timetable for naming a starting quarterback? It doesn’t exist.
“I asked one of our players on the offensive line — everybody thinks you’ve got to have all this continuity — and I asked our offensive lineman, I said, ‘Which one of the quarterbacks do you like the best?’ He said, ‘Well, since we don’t huddle we don’t even know who’s in there,’” Saban said.
“So my question is, is it just like a known fact that you have to do this a certain way, that if you don’t have a starting quarterback, that means you can’t get ready to play well? If you play more than one guy, like, you know, that’s, we can’t play good? I don’t know.
“I have confidence in our guys that they will play well in the game. How we’re going to play them in the game, I haven’t decided. Look, I don’t have a gun to my head saying, ‘OK, if I don’t know this by Saturday, I’m going to miss church and go jump off a bridge.’ I ain’t got there yet. I’m not there yet.”
Reach Aaron Suttles at aaron@tidesports.com or at 205-722-0229.
August 28th, 2015
Maddox says tax changes will help Tuscaloosa; McCollum warns of revenue loss in county - A recent change in the allocation of sales tax revenue allows local governments to continue providing needed services to citizens while improving road infrastructure and technology, according to local elected officials at the annual State of the Community address Wednesday.
“The sweeping legislation gives us the opportunity to truly transform our infrastructure,” said Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox as one of the three speakers at the event.
In June, the Alabama Legislature approved a bill to overhaul Tuscaloosa County’s sales tax structure. It combines the county’s 2-cent sales tax, which was shared among five local government entities and DCH Regional Medical Center, with a 1-cent temporary sales tax dedicated primarily for school construction.
The 1-cent sales tax now becomes permanent and the shared allocation of the combined 3-cent tax is altered to include a seventh governmental body, the Tuscaloosa County Road Improvement Authority.
In recent years, the city has fallen behind in its ability to keep up with its infrastructure improvements, largely because of the tornado recovery projects required following the devastating April 27, 2011, storm. But, the city plans to change that, using money from the restructured sales tax.
Major transportation improvements are planned for McFarland Boulevard, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and J.W. Parkway and Alabama Highway 69 South with an extension to McWrights Ferry Road.
Tuscaloosa’s fiscal 2016 budget, which was presented this week, includes $139 million in its general fund and $48 million in the water and sewer fund. It’s the first time in eight years that the city’s budget hasn’t been overshadowed by the recession or by tornado recovery, Maddox told the crowd Wednesday.
In addition to road projects, the city hopes to focus on enhancing the city’s technology so that the city’s services are “data driven,” he said.
The city expects to see about $2.8 million in revenue growth in the next year from all taxes, which include sales tax, ad valorem and rental license tax.
“Still, that doesn’t get you a long way,” Maddox said. “Sales taxes are where we butter our bread.”
Northport has seen an increase in sales tax revenue in recent years, up 3.5 percent in 2014 and up 4.5 percent so far this year, Northport Mayor Bobby Herndon said during his address.
That has allowed the city to hire a new planning engineer and economic development director, which will be filled this fall, as well as buy new equipment for Northport Fire and Rescue and beef up the city’s reserve accounts. Northport now has 10 percent of operating expenses in reserves, but plans to increase that to 15 percent during the next few years.
“In 2008, Northport was three weeks away from bankruptcy, now it’s awesome,” Herndon said.
While Tuscaloosa County continues to be one of the only debt-free counties in the state, its reserves are going down for the sixth year, warned County Commission Chairman Hardy McCollum.
“We are spending more money than we are taking in, and taking money from our reserves to balance our budget for the sixth consecutive year,” McCollum said. “The county government lacks ability to raise taxes. We can’t raise revenue for ourselves.”
In the past, the county received almost $10 million a year from oil and gas tax revenues from the local coal industry. In recent years that tax revenue had gone down to about $3 million annually. Jim Walter Resources, which operates the largest coal mines in the county, declared bankruptcy in July, which will likely hit the county’s budget hard, McCollum said.
“It’s going to have a real impact on how we approach this year’s budget,” he said.
More than 400 people attended the State of the Community luncheon, held at the Bryant Conference Center. The annual event is sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama.
Reach Lydia Seabol Avant at lydia.seabolavant@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0222.
August 27th, 2015
Tuscaloosa man dies in crash - A Tuscaloosa man was killed in two-vehicle crash Thursday morning in Marengo County, according to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.
Andrew Deedward Bryant, 21, was killed when the 2007 Chevrolet Malibu in which he was a passenger collided with a 2015 Peterbilt driven by Robert James, 42, of Lockhart, Miss., state troopers said.
Bryant was pronounced dead at the scene. State troopers said Bryant was not wearing a seat belt.
The driver of the Chevrolet was taken to University of Alabama Birmingham Hospital for treatment.
The crash happened at 4 a.m. Thursday on U.S. Highway 80 , about a mile south of Faunsdale.
No further information was available and trooper are continuing to investigate the crash.
August 27th, 2015
Alabama One Credit Union taken over by state - The Alabama Credit Union Administration today placed Tuscaloosa-based Alabama One Credit Union into conservatorship. This action does not disrupt Alabama One's ordinary business, and Alabama One Credit Union members can continue to conduct normal financial transactions, deposit and access funds, and use shares through Alabama One Credit Union's branches, the state regulators said.
Deposits at Alabama One Credit Union remain protected. Administered by the National Credit Union Administration, the Share Insurance Fund insures individual accounts up to $250,000, and a member's interest in all joint accounts combined is insured up to $250,000. The Share Insurance Fund separately protects IRA and KEOGH retirement accounts up to $250,000. The Share Insurance Fund has the backing of the full faith and credit of the United States.
Alabama One is one of the state's largest credit unions with more than 60,000 members and has assets of approximately $598 million. It formerly operated as BFGoodrich Credit Union.
August 27th, 2015
Gas prices fall below $2 - Gas prices at some Tuscaloosa filling stations have dropped below $2 and the trend of cheaper fuel is expected to continue through December here and throughout the U.S.
“We are seeing (prices) come down slowly, but surely,” said Clay Ingram, a spokesman for AAA Alabama, which monitors daily gas prices. “It won't be long before we see our state average below $2.”
Stations in Tuscaloosa currently range from $1.98 per gallon to $2.19, Ingram said.
Several factors contribute to lower gas prices, experts say, including:
- Gas stations switching from the more expensive summer blend, which although better for the environment is more expensive to produce
-Higher supply and lower demand for gas once the summer vacation season is over
- A drop in the price per barrel of crude oil
- International conditions, such as the decline in China's economy leading to less consumption of oil and the prospects of Iran increasing oil production because of an easing of sanctions by the U.S.
“I believe that by Halloween most stations in Alabama could be under $2 per gallon, should there be no sudden changes in China, Iran or with refineries who process oil,” said Patrick DeHann, petroleum analyst for Gasbuddy.com.
Last year, national average gas prices hit a low of $2.03. According to American Petroleum Institute, Alabama is now the second-cheapest state in terms in gas prices with an average price of $2.163, second to South Carolina with an average price of $2.103.
The Alabama average will drop less overall than the national average, because the state average is so low right now so there's not much room to drop, Ingram said.
Ingram stressed the importance of price shopping as a way that consumers can influence the price of gas. He said motorists should be aware of various stations' prices and choose to buy from the lowest-priced station in their travel area. The lack of price shopping, Ingram said, explains the difference in prices per station.
“Price shopping forces stations to enter a competitive marketplace,” Ingram said. “If we continue to price shop, prices will fall.”
August 27th, 2015
Suspected gunman arrested at MSU - Authorities at Mississippi State University say they have arrested a person who reportedly was carrying a gun on campus and that no injuries have been reported.
MSU spokesman Sid Salter told The Associated Press in a phone interview Thursday that the person had been arrested. He declined to give any further information.
The university had issued an online alert shortly after 10 a.m. saying a gunman had been reported near Carpenter Hall, which houses MSU’s mechanical engineering department and overlooks the Drill Field at the heart of the 20,000-student university in Starkville. The gunman was later reported near Lee Hall, the university’s main administration building.
MSU issued an all-clear and said on Twitter that classes would resume at 2 p.m.
August 27th, 2015
Part of Fourth Avenue East in Tuscaloosa to be closed - Cedar Crest Home Owners Association will close Fourth Avenue East at 15th Street East and at 14th Place East beginning at 8:30 a.m. today.
August 27th, 2015
Tuscaloosa library holding public forum for director hopefuls - The public is invited to a forum tonight with the three candidates for the job of executive director of the Tuscaloosa Public Library.
The forum will be at 6 tonight at the library’s main branch, 1801 Jack Warner Parkway NE.
The candidates are scheduled to discuss innovations in local library systems and field questions from the audience.
The candidates are:
n Richard “Rick” Freemon, a Tuscaloosa Public Library employee since 1998, who is now the interim director of the Tuscaloosa Public Library, a position he assumed after the resignation of Mary Elizabeth Harper in December.
n Katherine “Kathy” Parker, who has been the library director for the Glenwood-Lynwood Public Library District in Lynwood, Ill., since 2002.
n Mark Cole, who has served as library director for the Satilla Regional Library in Douglas, Ga., since 2006.
The executive director will earn a salary ranging from $85,000 to $110,000.
August 27th, 2015
Road work on I-20/59 - There will be maintenance striping work on Interstate 20/59 northbound and southbound lanes between mile posts 87 and 92 today. Work will begin at 8 a.m. and is expected to be completed by 7 p.m. Delays are expected and motorists are being urged to consider use of alternate routes.
August 27th, 2015
Alabama may close some driver license offices - Michael Johnston, 65, waited in the lobby of the Tuscaloosa Driver License Office Wednesday to renew his license. The Birmingham native said he drives to the Tuscaloosa because the waiting period is shorter, even though there were many people ahead of him.
But this year he might be the last he can avoid longer lines.
Four of five stations at the license issuing desk were open Wednesday. But all those stations could be closed by next year.
Secretary of Law Enforcement Spencer Collier sent his assistant, John Jenkins, to the Tuscaloosa office Wednesday for a press conference to warn citizens that the state’s current budget crisis could result in the closing of all but four state driver license offices across the state.
“Think of the people here that would now have to go other places,” Johnston said.
Jenkins said the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, which operates 12 legacy agencies including the Department of Public Safety, was funded a little over $55 million last year.
The state general fund budget for fiscal year 2016 proposed by the Alabama Legislature have suggested cuts to the agency ranging from 22 to 47 percent, Jenkins said.
Other agencies that could be affected are Alabama State Parks and Medicaid.
“Our funding issue is starting to affect our services. If we don’t get level funding coming into this year, we’re going to have to make some changes in what we do,” he said. “If we end up with those types of cuts, Oct. 1, we will have to close 33 of our field offices.”
Those offices are smaller branches that represent about 5 percent of driver license transactions across the state each year, he said.
There are a total of 75 offices.
He said phase two would include closing 12 more offices on Jan. 1 and eventually closing all but four locations – Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile and Montgomery – chosen based on their central locations to rural areas.
“This would mean that people that currently have about an hour and a half wait time at our offices will have to drive probably over an hour to get there,” Jenkins said.
He said he doesn’t know how many employees will be cut as a result, and he doesn’t know how much money the agency can save by closing these offices.
He said the only way to prevent the cuts is if Gov. Robert Bentley’s proposal to raise taxes is passed in the coming special session, which the governor has not yet announced a date for.
The special session will be held before Oct. 1 – the beginning of the new fiscal year.
According to the governor’s website, Bentley has an eight-point plan to fill the $700 million shortfall in the general fund budget. It calls for raising on tobacco and automobile sales, unearmarking funds and closing tax loopholes.
Johnston, the Birmingham man who was getting his driver’s license in Tuscaloosa, said he doesn’t think taxes need to be raised, but public officials need to be held accountable for how the state’s funds are spent.
“There’s plenty of money in Alabama. The problem is there is no accountability,” he said. “I’m back up here from the state of Florida that does not have a state income tax. Alabama not only has a state income tax, but most of the cities have an occupational tax. If (Florida doesn’t) have a state tax, and they can find the money, then surely we can.”
Jenkins said if the agency receives the same amount of funds as it got this fiscal year — $55 million, it can continue to function.
The agency rolled 12 legacy offices into one on Jan. 1, 2015, in an effort to become more efficient and save approximately $10 million long-term, but those savings will have to be used to respond to any increase in cost of personnel, insurance and other factors, he said.
He said the agency has become more efficient in technology, offering online scheduling so citizens don’t have to wait in line, online driver license renewal, self-service kiosks at offices, digital licenses on smartphones and more.
But these efforts won’t be enough to prevent the closing of 71 offices, he said.
He said he wants to encourage citizens to contact their state representatives and ask them to back the governor’s budget.
But Johnston has no plans of doing that.
“As far as I’m concerned there should not only be this facility, but more state troopers and all the services that the people pay their taxes for,” he said.
August 27th, 2015
Humane Society Flea Market to close doors after liquidation sale - After about 20 years of business, the Humane Society Flea Market is closing.
The Humane Society of West Alabama will host a liquidation sale at the Humane Society Flea Market, 3201 Main Ave. in Northport, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday and from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday.
Everything in the store from lamps, dishes and glasses to clothing, tools and office supplies will be $2 except for one section of appraised items, like antiques, that are worth more.
“We have to get rid of everything because we have to vacate the premises,” said Anita Smelley, Humane Society president. “At this time, we’re going to close it.”
The volunteer store manager, Jimmie Perry, fell and broke her hip recently and was not able to return to the job. The effort to find someone to replace her was unsuccessful, resulting in the closing of the store, Smelley said.
“We’re going to miss it,” said Diane Layton, co-owner of TD Estate Sales.
Layton and co-owner Teresa Golson donated many leftover items from estate sales in the past to the store and volunteered their time to appraise the store’s merchandise for the upcoming sale.
All money raised from the sale will go to the Humane Society to care for animals.
“Our major expense is vet care,” Smelley said.
She said the shelter now has about 100 animals, fairly evenly divided between cats and dogs.
The store, which was open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, “was a source of income for us because we don’t receive any local or government funding,” Smelley said.
“It is going to be a loss of income,” she said. “We’re going to have to look at other avenues for income.”
The organization now hosts the Hush Puppy Silent Auction, the Canine Classic 5K and publishes a pet calendar among other fundraisers.
Smelley said the board of directors has discussed doing a Black Cat Masquerade Ball, charity golf tournaments or mail-out solicitations. If another store manager can be found, the board will consider reopening the flea market at a different location or it might host a once-a-year flea market sale.
August 27th, 2015
Dillon Lee hoping for breakout year at linebacker for Alabama - Is this his year?
It's been a question asked annually about senior linebacker Dillon Lee since his sophomore season. “Will this be the season he breaks out to become a key contributor?”
Lee has always played his role well on the team, but this may finally be his year to make a mark on the defense.
The 6-foot-4, 242-pound linebacker from Buford, Ga., is the kind of player Nick Saban highlighted when talking about making his defense more athletic. Lee plays outside in the base defense and inside in nickel.
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The versatility that keeps him on the field is fueled by an athleticism that is not fully appreciated. He's got good size, but he's also quick. That quickness allows him to play more on passing downs in coverage.
“Dillon's been kind of a man who can play many positions,” UA defensive coordinator Kirby Smart said. “First of all, he's a great special teams player. He plays really hard, really physical.
“Dillon's a fast player, makes a lot of plays on special teams. He's our starting Sam linebacker. He can make all the adjustments. So you play a team that wants to get you in regular people, big people and spread people out — like Lane (Kiffin)does to us sometimes in practice — Dillon's able to adjust to those things.
“He can play in space and make the calls. But he also, when you go nickel, can go to insider 'backer and compete with Reggie and Reuben and Shawn Dion and Keith Holcombe and provide some depth at that position because he's smart enough to play those positions. So he does a good job there.”
Lee played in all 14 games in 2014, starting one and recording 24 tackles. He tied for the team lead in special teams tackles with 14.
With the top special teams player gone this season (Landon Collins), Lee's importance increases. Lee said he expects the overall special teams play to be more efficient this season.
“I think we're doing better this year than we did last year,” Lee said. “I think last year we kind of had a down year on special teams, especially in the return game, kick return, punt return. We're really looking to improve in those areas and flip the field position and get higher up in the return game rankings.”
But Lee is hoping to make his mark on defense.
Reach Aaron Suttles at aaron@tidesports.com or at 205-722-0229.
August 27th, 2015
Gov. Robert Bentley visits Alberta school for ribbon-cutting ceremony - Singing, drum beats and the rattling of maracas filled the halls Wednesday at the Alberta School of Performing Arts.
Students and teachers took part in the performance, welcoming visitors to the school's ribbon-
cutting while demonstrating the school's focus on the arts.
“We wanted to really feature the talents of the students who were coming to the school,” Jeffrey Schultz, fine arts coordinator for the city school system, said of the performance.
Although the school opened its doors in January with only elementary grade students, this school year marks the addition of sixth through eighth grades along with full implementation of the school's performing arts components.
The mid-year opening last year allowed some Alberta Elementary students, who had been at the Tuscaloosa Magnet School, to return to the new school built on the same site as their old school. Alberta Elementary was destroyed in the April 27, 2011, tornado.
On Wednesday, parents, teachers, elected officials and school administrators and employees gathered with the school's 450 students to celebrate the new school while reflecting on the progress made since the tornado.
Gov. Robert Bentley told the crowd that April 27, 2011, is a day they can never forget.
“We lost 254 people (in Alabama) that day, and we had more destruction occur than during the Civil War in the state of Alabama,” Bentley said. “Nothing is worse really than what hit right here (in Alberta), really, because it was so concentrated. The (tornado) destroyed this beautiful school we had here, which already was a fairly new school at the time.”
Bentley said that when he drove down University Boulevard East on Wednesday morning, he thought back to how he and President Barack Obama had walked that street days after the tornado. He said that thanks to rebuilding efforts, Alberta doesn't look like it did then.
“It sure is great to see the rebuilding of this $28 million facility,” he said. “And I know that the emphasis being placed on this school is performing arts. That is so important for the students. We know that children who take music and performing arts do better in school. They do better in their math courses, they do better in all of their school work.”
Kennadi Burton, an 11-year-old sixth-grader, is studying dance and theater.
“I thought that we would sit in each class and talk about dance, but we actually do stuff in those classes. We have to stretch and do warm-ups and we just got to do a performance,” Kennadi said.
Kennadi started at Alberta as a pre-kindergartener.
“The school has gotten bigger and better, and I love it,” Kennadi said. “My favorite thing is the arts, and I like the teachers.”
Tuscaloosa City Schools Superintendent Paul McKendrick, who introduced Bentley, said rebuilding the school as a K-8 performing arts school with a citywide open enrollment took a lot of work, but that effort was a labor of love.
Now that the school is completed, he said it's going to take continued support to keep it successful.
“At one point, when we were looking to decide if we were going to build this building,” he said. “I have to thank the board (of education), because when we looked at numbers, we really did not have the numbers to justify building this school. That's why it took some creative thinking in deciding how to do it.
“The board looked beyond the numbers and had a vision for the future. ... When we look back, we can say that it was easy to build it, but it's going to be difficult to sustain it. We still need all of your support to help this program thrive.”
Reach Jamon Smith at jamon.smith@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0204.
August 26th, 2015
Bacon & Brewfest is back for second year Saturday at the Tuscaloosa Regional Airport - What could make a Bacon & Brewfest better? More bacon. More brews. More room to move.
Also for the event’s second year, more entertainment.
“Last year, we just kind of relied on (95.3 The Bear’s) radio station music,” said Leslee Howard, live event manager for Town Square Media of Tuscaloosa, which puts on the B&B. “We’re ramping up our live entertainment with (the University of Alabama) Department of Theatre and Dance doing a few songs and Kenny Heard, who’s a jack-of-all-trades, playing a little bit of everything.”
Performances will come from UA’s Summertide production of “Ring of Fire,” the Johnny Cash musical, some faculty and staff, and 19 new musical-theater students, said Jamie Schor, marketing and public relations manager for the department.
“It’s a way to show the amazing talent here,” Schor said. “It’s a way of putting your efforts in a whole different light for people, more community-engaged, more down-home.”
Last year’s inaugural B&B had 13 breweries; for 2015, there are 20, plus a gluten-free tent.
“We went with more bacon and more beer; everybody’s going to be happier if there’s more,” Howard said. “Of those 20, each is bringing anywhere from two to four beers.
“As far as the bacon dishes, I think we added about five more from last year.”
It’s also moving from last year’s slot at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater to the open field at Tuscaloosa Regional Airport, before you get to the terminal building. Last year’s event drew about 500; Howard said current ticket sales indicate the crowd should grow to about 700 to 900 this year.
“We’d love to see it grow bigger and bigger, maybe make it a two-day thing eventually, add more bands, more elements, maybe home brewers and home cooks,” she said. “The sky’s kinda the limit as long as the community continues to support it.”
All attendees get a Bacon & Brewfest mug with which to sample. Breweries involved include Tuscaloosa’s Druid City Brewing Company, Black Warrior Brewing Company and Band of Brothers Brewing Co.; Birmingham’s Cahaba and Ghost Train; Huntsville’s Rocket Republic and The Brew Stooges; Fairhope’s Fairhope Brewing Company; Gadsden’s Back Forty; various regional breweries and a handful from lands far away, including Seattle’s Red Hook, San Diego’s Ballast Point, Chicago’s Goose Island, St. Louis’ Shock Top and Lakewood, N.Y.’s Southern Tier.
Food vendors on hand include Tuscaloosa’s Brothers Express Pizza Cafe, the Avenue Pub, Sweet Home Food Bar, Another Broken Egg, Mellow Mushroom, T-Town Cafe, Anthony’s Italian Kitchen, Innisfree Irish Pub, Glory Bound Gyro Co. and Kango Jack’s SnowBalls; Northport’s Southern Ale House, the Levee Bar & Grill, Billy’s Sports Grill and Clark’s Sports Pub and Grille; Duncanville’s Houndstooth Bar-B-Q; and Buhl’s Taste-Buds.
Tickets are $35 or $10 for designated driver/bacon-only tickets for those who don’t wish to sample the beers.
August 26th, 2015
Witt to retire as UA chancellor - University of Alabama System Chancellor Robert Witt has announced plans to retire from his role leading the three-campus system at the end of August 2016 and is recommending his executive vice chancellor to succeed him.
“I have reached a time in my career and personal life where I wish to have more flexibility and spend more time with my family,” the 74-year-old said in a statement released by the system office.
Witt informed the UA board of trustees that he planned to retire on Aug. 31, 2016, and is recommending Executive Vice Chancellor of Finance and Operations Ray Hayes as his replacement.
“We have been so fortunate to have him first as a president and now as our chancellor,” said Karen Brooks, board of trustees president pro tem. “During Dr. Witt's tenure, we continue to achieve record enrollments, ever-increasing national rankings, and stature as one of America's strongest and most cohesive higher education systems. His legacy is unmatched.”
In her comments on Witt's planned retirement, Brooks also praised Hayes' qualifications as a successor. Hayes is expected to accept the position. In comments released through system spokeswoman Kellee Reinhart, Hayes said he was honored to be nominated and looked forward to the appointment.
The trustees are scheduled to vote on the appointment at the board meeting in Tuscaloosa on Sept. 17-18.
“From my perspective, there is no one in the country with a sharper focus on the future of higher education than Ray Hayes,” Brook said.
Hayes has served as executive vice chancellor since 2013 and was hired in 2006 as the vice chancellor for financial affairs. Hayes oversees the system's budgeting process, investments, capital plan and other financial affairs.
If appointed, Hayes would become the chancellor and chief operating officer of the system on Sept. 1, 2016. Witt said in the announcement that he planned to work with Hayes during the next year on the leadership transition to ensure the system maintains its momentum. Witt, who plans to take a year-long sabbatical, said he would like to remain active in the UA system.
“I plan to continue to be a resource to the UA System, to remain significantly engaged in advancing the cause of higher education in the state of Alabama, teach classes, and consider educational and corporate board service,” Witt said.
Brooks was supportive of an active role for Witt in the system after his return from sabbatical.
Witt has served as chancellor since 2012. He joined the system in 2003 as president of the Tuscaloosa campus. He previously served as the president of the University of Texas at Arlington.
Witt oversaw rapid gains in enrollment and new construction during his time leading the Tuscaloosa campus.
August 26th, 2015
Civil rights activist dies at 104 - BIRMINGHAM | Amelia Boynton Robinson, a civil rights activist who nearly died while helping lead the “Bloody Sunday” civil rights march in 1965, championed voting rights for blacks and was the first black woman to run for Congress in Alabama, died early Wednesday at age 104, her son Bruce Boynton said.
Boynton Robinson was among those beaten during the voting rights march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, in March 1965 that became known as “Bloody Sunday.” State troopers teargased and clubbed the marchers as they tried to cross the bridge. A newspaper photo showing Boynton Robinson, who had been beaten unconscious, drew wide attention to the movement.
Fifty years later, Barack Obama, the first black president of the United States, pushed her across the span in a wheelchair during a commemoration.
Boynton Robinson, who was hospitalized in July after having a major stroke, turned 104 on Aug. 18. Her son said she had been living in Tuskegee and was hospitalized in Montgomery. Boynton Robinson’s family said in a written statement that she was surrounded by relatives and friends when she died around 2:20 a.m.
In January, Boynton Robinson attended the State of the Union address as a special guest of Democratic Alabama Rep. Terri Sewell, who said Boynton’s 1964 run for Congress paved the way for her. Sewell is Alabama’s first elected black congresswoman. Boynton was the first woman to run on a Democratic ticket in Alabama and the first black woman to run for Congress in the state, according to the Encyclopedia of Alabama.
“Mrs. Boynton Robinson suffered grave injustices on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma at the hands of state troopers on Bloody Sunday, yet she refused to be intimidated,” Sewell said in January. “She marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, my colleague Rep. John Lewis and thousands of others from Selma to Montgomery and ultimately witnessed the day when their work led to the passage of the historic Voting Rights Act of 1965.”
Boynton Robinson had asked Martin Luther King Jr. to come to Selma to mobilize the local community in the civil rights movement. She worked with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and helped plan the Selma to Montgomery march. She was invited as a guest of honor to attend the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
Her role in the event was reprised in the movie “Selma,” where she was portrayed by actress Lorraine Toussaint.
“The truth of it is that was her entire life. That’s what she was completely taken with,” Bruce Boynton said of his mother’s role in shaping the civil rights movement. “She was a loving person, very supportive — but civil rights was her life.”
Boynton Robinson, born in Savannah, Georgia, worked as an educator there and with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Selma, Alabama. She educated local residents on food production, nutrition health care and more, according to the Encyclopedia of Alabama.
Tuskegee University officials have said Boynton Robinson graduated from the school in 1927 and in recent years donated much of her personal memorabilia from the 1950s and 1960s to the university.
Boynton said the family is planning events in his mother’s honor in Tuskegee and is also working to arrange a ceremony at the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Sept. 8.
August 26th, 2015
DA says Ware died of drug toxicity - Autopsy results of a man who died in police custody last month indicate that he died from a result of drug toxicity, Tuscaloosa County District Attorney Lyn Head said Wednesday.
Anthony Ware, 35, fled into the woods behind Crescent East Apartments in Holt when Tuscaloosa police officers arrived to serve an outstanding warrant the night of July 10. He died after officers used pepper spray to subdue him and placed him in handcuffs.
A blood analysis indicated that Ware had recently consumed cocaine, methamphetamine and alcohol, Head wrote in an email.
Nothing indicated that Ware suffered from asthma, she said.
"It was noted that although Mr. Ware had an enlarged heart and thyroid and that these conditions would have caused greater damage to himself by ingesting these types of drugs, there was nothing revealed in the close examination of his lungs to indicate he had asthma," Head said.
Ware also had a number of minor and superficial injuries to his arm and a small bruise on his back that the examiner believed resulted from him running through rough patches of terrain and bushes.
The autopsy was conducted in Montgomery the Monday following Ware’s death, which was on a Friday night. The results will be part of the evidence presented to a grand jury that will decide whether any officer wrongdoing occurred. It will also be reviewed by agents with the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice who are reviewing the case at TPD’s request.
Five days after Ware’s death, the department released nearly three hours of what they said was raw, unedited footage taken from dash camera and body camera footage.
The video had been viewed more than 42,000 times as of Wednesday.
None of the cameras captured video of officers arresting Ware or spraying with pepper spray. Footage did include Ware running from police and video of officers trying to resuscitate him.
Results from the investigation, including the autopsy report, witness and officer statements and the video footage, will be presented to a grand jury. The grand jury will decide whether any charges should be filed.
After Ware’s death, rumors spread that Ware was shot with a gun, with a Taser or was beaten, according to police. Nothing included in the released footage indicates that.
“We hope that by releasing this video today we can begin the healing process in our community and begin to build some bridges that need to be repaired between our communities and law enforcement,” Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steve Anderson said when the video was released on July 15.
Video shows officers, including one who is a certified paramedic, performing CPR and speculating that Ware had suffered cardiac arrest. Tuscaloosa Fire and Rescue Service paramedics arrive about eight minutes after CPR began. Several strap Ware, while he is still handcuffed, to a board and struggle to take him up a hill through heavy undergrowth, vines and fallen limbs.
The officers were at the apartment complex to arrest Ware on a previous warrant of attempting to elude police.
Anderson said the video was released as a gesture to the public that the department had nothing to hide and that officers did all they could to rescue Ware.
“Although they started out with the goal of taking him into custody, by the end of it that goal had shifted to saving his life,” he said. “I hope people pay attention to that and look at the facts that we have and recognize that we had no malice toward Mr. Ware and we certainly meant him no harm.”
A news conference to address the autopsy report is scheduled for 3 p.m. today.

Reach Stephanie Taylor at stephanie.taylor@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0210.
August 26th, 2015
Transfer Richard Mullaney fits right in at Alabama - The big additions to the University of Alabama's roster tend to come on National Signing Day. Midsummer transfers can be lost in the shuffle of high school stars arriving before classes start.
Wide receiver Richard Mullaney didn't produce the splash of a five-star recruit when he committed to Alabama in June. But the graduate transfer from Oregon State has been plenty productive in fall camp.
“Mullaney has done a great job since he got here,” junior wide receiver Chris Black said. “He's definitely going to help us out a lot. Me and him kind of play that slot role and he's a smart guy. He's got a lot of experience, just like me. We're just going to help each other out in that position.”
Mullaney might have the most experience of any receiver on the roster. He's the only scholarship senior, and he started for the Beavers in 2013 and the first half of 2014, before an elbow injury ended his junior season. He also contended with a shoulder injury earlier in his career.
He was Oregon State's No. 2 receiver, behind All-American and future first-round draft pick Brandin Cook, in 2013. While Cook ran through the Pac-12 record books, Mullaney quietly gathered 52 catches for 788 yards. Mullaney had multiple receptions in 17 of his last 18 games at Oregon State before his elbow injury.
The newcomer has shown he can be reliable. He was Oregon State's second-leading receiver as a sophomore. His 83 collegiate catches are more than the 50 combined catches among Alabama's other receivers.
“He's great. Good hands, good speed, good blocker,” cornerback Maurice Smith said. “He gets to the ball even when he's not getting the ball. He likes to block. I think he's going to be a good receiver for us.”
He played mostly split end at Oregon State, but head coach Nick Saban said he's being used as a slot receiver for the Crimson Tide. He didn't return kicks and punts for the Beavers, but has been mentioned as a candidate for a job as a returner at Alabama.
“He's been doing a really good job,” Saban said. “He's got great hands, very smart player, very instinctive, knows how to get open and is especially effective in the slot.”
Saban and team members have singled out other receivers for their work in fall camp, including sophomore ArDarius Stewart.
Mullaney has shown he can be counted on. He's finding his way on the field in practice, and in doing so, helping a few other players along.
“He's definitely going to help us this year and his maturity and experience is something that to a very young, inexperienced group has been very welcome by us and, I think, our other players,” Saban said.

Reach Ben Jones at ben@tidesports.com or at 205-722-0196.
August 26th, 2015
Police say suspect broke into substation - Demopolis police say they arrested a man who broke into a police substation earlier this month.
Antonio Larrenzo Murray, 31, was a member of the cleaning crew that did after-hour clean-ups at Vowell’s Supermarket, said Demopolis Police Chief Tommie
Murray is suspected of entering the police substation through the ceiling. Nothing was reported stolen, Reese said.
“It never ceases to amaze me of what people wouldn’t try to do,” Reese said in an email.
Murray, of Columbus, Miss., was charged with third-degree burglary on Aug. 14.
August 26th, 2015
Two men charged in shooting, robbery at Forrester Gardens Apartments - Investigators have charged two men in the robbery and shooting of a man at Forrester Gardens Apartments earlier this month.
The victim, 31, told police on Aug. 15 that two men approached him as he was exiting his car and told him to “give it up,” said Tuscaloosa County Metro Homicide Unit commander Capt. Gary Hood.
The suspects fired shots at the victim’s car as he drove away, Hood said, striking the victim in the back.
Investigators charged Gregory Ferguson, 21, on Thursday and Daaron Crooks, 20, on Friday. Both are charged with attempted murder and first-degree robbery and are being held at the Tuscaloosa County Jail with bond set at $120,000 each.
August 26th, 2015
Teenager accused of child sexual abuse - A McCalla teenager has been accused of sexually abusing a child he was babysitting.
Wesley Scott Mindler, 17, is charged with first-degree sodomy and sexual abuse of a child younger than 12.
The victim was a child in his care, said Sgt. Alex Miles, a Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office spokesman.
Mindler was
arrested Monday and is being charged as an adult. He remained in the Tuscaloosa County Jail on Tuesday with bond set at $30,000.
August 26th, 2015
Street closures to affect some Tuscaloosa, Holt roads - The city of Tuscaloosa will close 29th Avenue between 19th Street and 20th Street from 7 a.m. today until 3:30 p.m. Friday. The closing will allow for a repair of a gutter.
Also occurring this week, a county sanitary sewer extension project will affect access to some roads in Holt today through Sept. 2.
The installation of new sanitary sewer mains will affect 10th Street NE, from east of 38th Avenue NE to Crescent Ridge Road, and 39th Avenue NE, from 10th Street NE to 12th Street NE.
August 26th, 2015
Enrollment rises in county schools - Student enrollment numbers in the Tuscaloosa County School System are up.
As of Aug. 24, the system had 18,143 students enrolled in kindergarten through 12th grade.
Last year, the system had 18,009 students. That's an increase of 134 students.
With prekindergarten students included, this year's number goes up to 18,400.
Walter Davie, acting superintendent of the system, said enrollment numbers are unstable right now. Students are still enrolling and some are leaving.
Enrollment numbers won't be considered official until 20 days after Labor Day.
"So far, so good," Davie said.
The Tuscaloosa City Schools hasn't released its enrollment numbers yet.
August 26th, 2015
Southern Miss administrator chosen for UA post - A University of Southern Mississippi administrator has been named the new vice president for advancement at the University of Alabama.
“I am thrilled to be returning to the University of Alabama to join President (Stuart) Bell’s team and lead the development efforts for the Capstone. There is tremendous fundraising potential at UA,” said Robert D. Pierce, the new advancement vice president.
Pierce’s appointment was announced by UA on Tuesday. Pierce is currently the vice president for advancement at Southern Mississippi. He will start at UA on Sept. 21.
“Bob Pierce is an experienced leader in university advancement who will bring an outstanding record in fundraising as well as energy and enthusiasm to the University of Alabama,” UA President Bell said in comments released on Tuesday. “We are looking forward to having him join our team.”
At USM, Pierce has served as the vice president of advancement since 2010. Before that, he was the executive director of the alumni association. He also served previously as assistant director of development for athletic fundraising at USM.
Pierce earned his master’s degree in advertising and public relations at UA in 2003. He earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration at USM in 1991.
Pierce will lead UA’s Division of University Advancement, which includes the offices of Advancement Services, Alumni Affairs, Development, Planned Giving, and the Capstone Men and Women.
Traditionally, the division also includes university’s public relations; however, UA is in the process of hiring a vice president of strategic communications, who will lead a division dedicated to university communications. Bell began working on creating the new division after arriving in July.
Pierce will be the permanent replacement for Karen Baldwin, who stepped down as the vice president of advancement in 2014 “to explore other internal and external career choices.” Calvin Brown, UA’s executive director of alumni affairs, has led the division as the interim vice president since Baldwin’s departure.
Reach Ed Enoch at ed.enoch@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0209.
August 26th, 2015
Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz speaks at Bryant-Denny Stadium - Republican presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas believes 2016 will see a conservative campaign similar to the one that resulted in Ronald Reagan winning the White House in the 1980s.
“I believe the way we will win in 2016 is to follow Ronald Reagan’s admonition that we paint not in pale pastels, but in bold colors,” Cruz told Republicans in Tuscaloosa on Tuesday night.
Cruz, who announced his candidacy in March, was the keynote speaker at the Tuscaloosa County Republican Party’s Lincoln-Reagan Dinner at the Zone located in Bryant-Denny Stadium at the University of Alabama.
Painting a parallel between the 1980 contest and next year’s election, Cruz likened President Barack Obama’s leadership to then-incumbent President Jimmy Carter and the current economy and state of the world to the conditions in the late 1970s.
“I think the conditions in this country today are very much like the late 1970s with the same economic stagnation, the same failed economic policies the same feckless and naive foreign policy,” Cruz said.
At the core of a renaissance of the Reagan coalition is an authentic conservative candidate, according to the 44-year-old, who has courted evangelicals and tea party supporters. At the GOP fundraiser, Cruz cast himself as the consistent conservative candidate in the Republican field rather than a “campaign conservative.”
Cruz said he believes the Deep South will be an important vetting of the conservative credentials in the Republican field. Alabama’s presidential primary is among the Super Tuesday contests that will take place March, 1, 2016.
The key to the primary will be voter’s trust in the authenticity of their candidate, he said.
“Every time we run a candidate who runs as a Democrat lite we lose. The only way we are going to win is to nominate a candidate who runs a strong, optimistic conservative campaign,” Cruz said.
Cruz outlined his hypothetical first days in office if elected during his comments. The actions would include a Justice Department investigation of Planned Parenthood, rescinding what he termed “illegal and unconstitutional” executive actions by Obama, shredding the Iranian nuclear deal, repeal of the Affordable Care Act and the Common Core, an end to sanctuary cities for undocumented immigrants, rebuilding the military, moving the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and a flat income tax.
As Cruz mingled at the fundraiser in the Zone, a group of about 20 protestors opposed to his immigration stance marched below in front of the stadium entrance chanting “cross Cruz out of the race,” “up, up with education; down, down with deportation” and other slogans.
Cruz’s stop in Tuscaloosa is part of a spate of visits to the state by Republican hopefuls seeking the party’s 2016 nomination for president.
August 26th, 2015
Talladega mayor loses re-election bid after assault - TALLADEGA, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama mayor who had been re-elected in 2011 despite a federal conviction and recently was recovering from an assault lost a bid for a fifth term in office Tuesday.
Talladega Mayor Larry Barton faced challenges from opponents Vann Caldwell and Jerry Cooper Sr. in the city’s mayoral race — a campaign run in the shadow of Barton’s record and more recently a scandal involving allegations of illicit sex.
Cooper won with 2,000 votes, Barton got 1,037 votes and Caldwell got 197 votes, City Manager Patrick Bryant said. He added the tally was the final count for the city of roughly 16,000, which is known for hosting major auto racing events.
“I feel good; we’re at ease with everything. When you stay in office that long you’re gonna make folks mad,” Barton said Tuesday night. “They wanted change and I respect that.”
A message left for Cooper wasn’t immediately returned.
Barton served about three years in prison in the 1990s after being convicted of defrauding the city. Prosecutors said he had city officials issue checks to a fictitious worker and cashed them himself.
On Aug. 8, Barton was assaulted about 55 miles west of Talladega outside a barbershop where he works part-time in the Birmingham suburb of Vestavia Hills.
Some voters said they had expected Barton’s appeal, accessibility and charitable reputation to help him find his way back to the mayor’s office despite his past as other politicians have done — including former Providence, Rhode Island, Mayor Buddy Cianci and former Washington, D.C., Mayor Marion Barry.
The former mayor prided himself on the fact that many Talladega residents had his cellphone number and knew they could call him directly for help.
“I doze but never close,” Barton said with a smile Tuesday afternoon.
Barton was beaten up more than two weeks ago amid claims from attorney Stewart Springer that Barton was secretly recorded having an affair with the wife of the beating suspect, Benny Green.
Springer said he had represented Green — Barton’s former friend — in his divorce case, and Springer said he saw the videos himself. Divorce court records said the encounters were recorded in the rear office of a liquor store the Greens own.
In an interview, Barton acknowledged keeping an office in the store and serving as its bookkeeper, but denied the sexual allegation. Court records said the videos were recorded in December 2013 and presented in February. Barton said the timing of the attack suggested it may have been a smear tactic ahead of the city’s election.
Police said Green, 71, is accused of hitting Barton, 75, with a bat and trying to flee the scene on a bicycle. He was charged with assault. A voice message and email to an attorney listed for him in court documents wasn’t immediately returned.
Amid the political campaign signs dotting the well-kept yards in Talladega’s quiet, tree-lined neighborhoods, Barton and his wife, Mary, drove up to a voting precinct Tuesday afternoon with their own signs that simply read “BARTON” in red letters on both sides of their car. Barton, who appeared to be recovering from multiple bruises and cuts, walked alongside his wife and greeted voters as they trickled into the recreation center to vote.
Barton ran for mayor several times after his federal prison sentence and lost runoffs before he was re-elected in 2011. Some who spoke briefly and traded jokes with Barton before walking up the steps to cast ballots later said they didn’t vote for him. They declined to give their names or be interviewed.
As he left the polling place, Daniel Dase said Barton’s federal conviction and accusations of being caught on tape in a compromising situation left the city with a black eye of its own. Some residents said the city needs to clean up its reputation in hopes of attracting more economic development besides the racetrack.
“I think Talladega has an image problem right now and that’s one thing we have to combat,” Dase said. “And then, we’ve been hurt a lot with industry over the last 10, 15 years, and you know, Talladega has to change. We need everything we can to put forth our best image and present ourselves and draw things in.”
August 26th, 2015
Latest plan calls for new middle school near Northridge, Skyland Elementary to remain open - The latest version of the Tuscaloosa City Schools’ strategic plan calls for closing University Place and Rock Quarry middle schools and building a new middle school in the Northridge High School zone.
The curriculum, finances and human resources components of the plan will be discussed during a meeting Sept. 1. Final public comments on the plan will be accepted at the meeting.
On Sept. 15, the plan will go before the school board for a vote.
On Monday, the education facility planning firm DeJong-Richter unveiled the plan, which could be the final version of the integrated curriculum, facilities and demographic strategic plan at the school board’s steering committee.
“There actually haven’t been a whole lot of major changes, other than Skyland (Elementary) remains open,” said DeJong-Richter CEO Tracy Richter. “In the last plan, we actually closed Skyland and moved it into the University Place solution. In this plan, we’re rebuilding the front part of that building.”
Under the plan, University Place and Rock Quarry middle schools’ students would be relocated along with a portion of Eastwood Middle’s students, to a 900-capacity middle school in the Northridge High School zone. Part of University Place Middle’s students — the ones living south of 15th Street — would be relocated to Westlawn Middle.
“The new north middle school allows for growth and lets Rock Quarry become just an elementary school,” Richter said. “We’d bring in some kids from the Northeast that currently go to Arcadia (Elementary) to bring some diversity in. They’d be closer to their middle and high schools so we get a win-win there.”
University Place Elementary would remain open, but its students living north of 15th Street would be relocated to the Alberta School of Performing Arts and Rock Quarry Elementary. The rest of the University Place facility would be used to house the first through eighth graders at Tuscaloosa Magnet School. University Place Elementary would remain a choice school, Richter said.
The current magnet school building would close.
“The idea of the magnet school at University Place was generated a long time ago,” Richter said. “We kind of kept circling back to that idea. The capacity of the building and not having to spend a whole lot of dollars programmatically or infrastructure-wise to fix the building (is attractive).”
One of the major suggestions the steering committee made Monday was that DeJong-Richter look at rezoning part of the Verner, Northington, downtown, Central and Skyland areas so that they feed into University Place.
Richter said they’ll consider that suggestion, but as it now stands, University Place Elementary will become a neighborhood school as the plan recommends.
Overall, the latest plan calls for reducing the system from seven middle schools and 13 elementary schools to three middle schools and 10 elementary schools. The system will continue to have three high schools.
An extra gym and science lab improvements would be added to each of the high schools.
Central High would serve as the location for the international baccalaureate program grades 9-12. A 9-12 performing arts program would be added to Paul W. Bryant High. No new unique plans were made for Northridge.
Changes to the middle schools include closing Tuscaloosa Magnet Middle, Rock Quarry Middle and Southview Middle.
Southview Middle’s students would be relocated to Eastwood and the school building would serve as the new home of Southview Elementary.
Changes at the elementary level include playground upgrades, adding art and music spaces and incorporating STEM programs at each school. Each elementary school would have a minimum of two pre-K classrooms. The Central and Southview elementary buildings would close and be converted into pre-K centers.
Central and Oakdale elementary schools would close and their students would be relocated to a new 600-capacity elementary school in the Central High School zone. Oakdale’s facility would serve as the new Oak Hill School and house the STARS and Success Prep academies.
Arcadia Elementary and Northington Elementary would also be closed and the students from those schools would attend a newly constructed 600-capacity elementary school in the Paul W. Bryant High School zone.
The Alberta School of Performing Arts would be expanded to a capacity of 580 students. Its capacity now is 360 students.
All other elementary schools would receive renovations.
There’s no timetable for when the changes would occur, and Richter said they would be at least a year off.
Reach Jamon Smith at jamon.smith@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0204.
August 26th, 2015
Vertical billboard takes shape on Rice Mine Road - Rice Mine Road was intended to be a billboard-free zone, but the rules that were crafted to limit the future construction of the signs don’t apply beyond the Tuscaloosa city limit.
That’s why a new vertical billboard by Renfroe Outdoor Advertising is now taking shape on Rice Mine Road near its intersection with the Paul W. Bryant Bridge.
The sign is going up on a small tract of unincorporated Tuscaloosa County that is completely surrounded by city of Tuscaloosa jurisdiction.
And while construction permitting and other regulations do apply in the police jurisdiction, which this area is considered, the city’s zoning regulations are unenforceable.
“Those regulations would not apply to county property,” said Philip O’Leary, deputy director of the city’s Planning and Development Services. “Folks were surprised to see a billboard going up in that area because it’s designated as a
billboard-free area.”
Renfroe Outdoor Advertising, a Macon, Ga.-based company with ties to Tuscaloosa, is aware that those regulations don’t apply outside the city limit.
That’s why, in recent months, they have erected seven similar billboards on these small islands of county territory.
Company president Jed Renfroe said he’s yet to hear any complaints.
And, ultimately, he said his company is just doing what all companies do: Generate a profit.
“What we’re doing is we’re obtaining these permits legally because of the police jurisdiction which allows us to legally permit these boards,” Renfroe said. “It’s not that we’re trying to get around anything. It’s just how we’re able to do it.”
As a family owned company that’s been in the outdoor advertising for more than five decades, Renfroe said he’s familiar with ways that local governments and municipalities regulate — and, in some cases, outright ban — billboards.
But when the rules allow it, they do get built.
“It takes a lot of capital to put these signs up,” he said. “And yes, it’s a business.”
Renfroe said the sign’s design was meant to set it apart — vertical billboards are not the norm.
His father, Charlie Renfroe, graduated from high school in Tuscaloosa and went into the sign business under Tuscaloosa businessman Lewis Manderson, the founder of Creative Displays Inc., one of the largest outdoor advertising companies in the United States.
“We’re community-oriented guys. We like to be involved in
community-based things,” Renfroe said.
He pointed to the company’s support and sponsorship of local groups, like the Kentuck Art Center and its annual Festival of the Arts, as well as YMCA of Tuscaloosa County.
Kentuck Executive Director Amy Echols confirmed the company’s sponsorship of Kentuck and said a deal has been worked out to advertise this year’s festival on the company’s billboards, including the one under construction on Rice Mine Road.
She said she appreciated the chance to reach a segment of the community that, in her words, has been neglected by Kentuck officials for too long.
“Part of our mission is to engage the community with the artist, and we’ve spent 44 years trying to help the artist, but not really engaging the part of the community who can really afford to buy their artwork,” Echols said of the Kentuck festival, which hosts hundreds of folk artists each year. “We are hoping to reach our Northport and Tuscaloosa audience in a bigger and better way this year.”
One way to do that is to promote the festival in Tuscaloosa’s more affluent areas, such as those in the 35406 ZIP code.
The new sign is meant to do just that.
And with enough vehicles passing through that area justifying the recent construction of a second, dedicated turn lane from Rice Mine Road onto the bridge, that means thousands of drivers will be seeing Kentuck’s message daily.
“We’re really hoping we can reach out to every one this year,” Echols said.
Walt Larisey, CEO of the YMCA of Tuscaloosa County, said he appreciates the relationship with Renfroe Outdoor Advertising and its ability to help the YMCA spread the word of its mission.
“They are supporters of the YMCA,” Larisey said. “They have been for a good while and will be in the future.”
August 25th, 2015
City's water, garbage rates to rise in 2016 budget proposal - Mayor Walter Maddox's proposed budget for fiscal 2016 includes a $1 per month increase in garbage rates as well as a 2 percent increase in water and sewer rates, which the mayor said was the lowest percentage increase in recent years.
If the budget is adopted by the City Council, Tuscaloosa city taxpayers will fund a 1.7 percent cost of living increase — a total of about $1.68 million — for city employees as well as pay for the hiring of several new positions and upgrading the pay scales of certain Environmental Service Department employees.
And while the $1 hike in garbage fees should bring in an additional $278,400, Maddox still anticipates additional General Fund proceeds will be needed to subsidize about $2.01 million of the Environmental Service Department's overall $7.13 million expenses.
But another budgetary change could mean smoother streets.
Maddox is proposing a shift of about $1.3 million from the city's Water and Sewer Department to fund road repair projects associated with water and sewer line repairs.
This work often creates the need to patch roads and streets under which the lines pass. Maddox said he's not happy with the standards at which these repairs have been performed and wants it improved.
He told the council that a list of needed street repairs has been compiled.
“I think we're prepared to move aggressively over the next 36 to 48 months,” he said.
Moving money from the Water and Sewer Department to supplement the General Fund's requirement to make these repairs through the Tuscaloosa Department of Transportation should help accomplish that, he said.
“I believe now, coming out of the tornado, it's time for the Water and Sewer Fund to reimburse the General Fund of their capital expenses,” he said.
The City Council is expected to review Maddox's proposals in the coming weeks. A vote on adopting the fiscal 2016 budget is expected on Sept. 22. The 2016 fiscal year starts Oct. 1.
To balance the combined $187.47 million General Fund and Water and Sewer Fund budgets, which the mayor presented to the council Tuesday night, Maddox said a series of challenges had to be overcome.
These included the constant increase in Internet sales, in which buyers fail to report and pay required sales tax. That results in less sales tax revenues that Maddox said the city needs for upgrades to technology, data security equipment and fire trucks.
However, the $139.33 million General Fund is expected to finish the current fiscal year with a contingency balance of $408,775.
Fiscal 2016 revenues for the Water and Sewer Fund are expected to be $48.14 million with expenses of $52.84 million. The deficit occurs because depreciation on equipment and infrastructure is factored in. Without this, the Water and Sewer Fund expenses would total $43.14 million.
The 2 percent water rate hike coupled with anticipated growth in water sales is expected to bring in an additional $2.33 million.
“This is the lowest (rate increase) during my time as mayor,” said Maddox, who has been in office since 2005. “And a lot of that has to do with a dry summer.”
Last year's water and sewer rate increase was 3 percent.
For fiscal 2016, General Fund revenues are projected to reach $139.33 million, which is almost 4 percent higher than the $134.02 million expected at the end of current fiscal year.
Maddox said the city's dedicated 2 percent sales tax — Mobile, Huntsville and Birmingham have rates of 5 percent, 4.5 percent and 4 percent, respectively — has steadily generated increased revenue since fiscal 2013.
The current fiscal year is expected to end with $35.71 million in sales tax collected. For fiscal 2016, Maddox is projecting $35.87 million.
Sales taxes make up 36 percent of the city's revenue with business licenses and property taxes generated 14 percent and 11 percent, respectively, of the city's income. Lodging taxes, garbage service fees, rental taxes, grants, building permits and several other revenue sources make up the remainder.
And like the sales tax projection, revenues from business licenses, property taxes and rental licenses tax revenues are all expected to increase.
With these increases comes some adjustment, however.
With the approval of two economic incentive packages, one for the Embassy Suites hotel downtown and the other for the development of the Shoppes at Legacy Park shopping center on McFarland Boulevard, the City Council must rebate $995,000 in lodging and sales taxes to those respective developers.
The net return for the city on these projects is $465,000, with the most — $305,000 — coming from the Embassy Suites' expected generation of lodging taxes.
“But here's the good news,” Maddox told the council. “Last year, that piece of property provided returns of about zero for the city of Tuscaloosa.”
Among the sharpest rise in revenue projections over last fiscal year comes from the city's cut of the countywide sales tax, which is budgeted to increase by more than $470,000 to $14.31 million.
This is due, in part, to the restructuring of the countywide sales tax allocation that was adopted by the Alabama Legislature earlier this year.
Under the current allocation, the city's share of the county sales tax is expected to produce $10.38 million in revenues. But the new allocation, which takes effect June 2, 2016, is expected to generate 15 percent more for the city per year and bring in $3.93 million during the final four months of fiscal 2016.
Maddox said he plans to take 15 percent of the $3.93 million generated from the new countywide sales tax allocation — a total of $589,500 — and direct it to a Public Works Capital Fund that will either fund new vehicle and equipment purchases as needed or go toward debt payments on a bond issue secured for that purpose.
“We have a lot of ideas on how we want to structure vehicle purchases in the years to come,” the mayor said. “There are pros and cons
of each.”
These ideas stretch into fiscal 2017, too, for which Maddox is suggesting taking 15 percent of the new sales tax allocation, for which a full year of revenues will be available, and steer that toward a bond issue to fund infrastructure projects while steering 30 percent of it to the vehicle and equipment fund.
He said the new allocation is expected to generate about $2.3 million more than what the city would have collected under the existing tax allocation structure, but cautioned that this remains an estimate for now.
“None of us knows what that number will be because we haven't collected it yet,” he said. “But this gives us a dedicated funding source (for) vehicle purchases.”
For expenses, the budget dedicates almost half — 46 percent — of its spending toward the Tuscaloosa Police Department and Tuscaloosa Fire and Rescue Service.
And whereas the Police Department received funds in fiscal 2015 for new vehicles, in the new fiscal year it will be the fire department's turn.
Maddox plans to seek a $3 million bond issue, repaid over five years, to fund equipment needs for the Fire and Rescue Service.
The question remains, however, how to direct the borrowed money as pumper trucks, safety equipment, a rescue vehicle and possibly a ladder truck are needed.
Maddox said the city is in line for a grant that, if awarded, would fund the purchase of $1.2 million worth of air tanks and mask systems firefighters use when battling blazes. That could free up enough money to purchase the $1 million ladder truck, he said.
But without it, the ladder truck might have to wait, Maddox said, noting Tuscaloosa Fire and Rescue Chief Alan J. Martin said the safety equipment had priority.
The new employees positions in the fiscal 2016 budge are associated with a proposed restructuring of departments that fall under both the General Fund and Water and Sewer Fund as well as Information-Technology Department hires for data analysis and security.
These new positions are expected to add about cost about $400,000.
An additional $125,000 is proposed for adding three employees to the city's Alberta Technology Center.
“The greatest responsibility that I believe this council has is the fiduciary responsibility to its citizens,” Maddox said. “You are the people's representatives. You are their choice to make sure their tax dollars are invested wisely.”
August 25th, 2015
Tuscaloosa City Council Action: Aug. 25 - The Tuscaloosa City Council took the following action at its Tuesday night meeting:
-Authorized request for street lighting modifications.
-Awarded competitive bid(s) for the purchase, etc., of aluminum handrails from Thompson Fabricating LLC; total: $31,588.
-Authorized utility account credits; total: $4,693.87.
-Authorized execution of Requisition Nos. 74-75 for payment from the Series 2014A Warrant Issue; total: $1,429.53.
-Authorized an adjustment and refund of excess deposit to BMCC for installation of water mains and services for Somerville Apartments water main extension; total: $5,629.71.
-Set Sept. 8 as the date for a hearing to consider approval of the first amendment to Pinnacle Park at North River.
-Authorized payment to Misty Marie Woolbright in settlement of claim; total: $226.66.
-Authorized an adjustment and refund to excess deposit to Harrison Construction Co. Inc. for installation of water mains and services for UA Kappa Delta Sorority fire line; $4,119.95.
-Authorized the issuance of a loan to Laukesha V. Noble for home purchase assistance under the City’s HOME Program; total: $5,000.
-Authorized an adjustment and refund of excess deposit to Price Construction Co. Inc. for installation of water mains and services for Sokol Park soccer fields’ 4-inch meter; total: $3,248.99.
-Authorized amendment to funding agreement with Habitat for Humanity Tuscaloosa for a time extension for completion of homes along Juanita Drive.
-Authorized the mayor to execute a right-of-way permit to Chance Partners LLC.
-Approved job class specifications for human resources supervisor.
-Authorized the mayor to execute a right-of-way permit to University Stations LLC.
-Authorized the Office of Federal Programs to make budget and program changes and to advertise those changes to the 2012 action plan of the city’s five-year consolidated plan for community planning and development programs for program years 2010-2014.
-Authorized the Office of Federal Programs to make budget and program changes and to advertise those changes to the 2014 action plan of the city’s five-year consolidated plan for community planning and development programs for program years 2010-2014.
-Authorized the mayor to add additional funding to an authorized contract with Habitat for Humanity of Tuscaloosa under 2006-2012 HOME funds for the development of affordable housing; total: $25,000.
-Authorized budget and program changes to the 2013 program year Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) grant.
-Authorized an amendment to the city’s agreement and authorizing the mayor to execute the amendment agreement with Habitat for Humanity of Tuscaloosa Inc. under 2011 and 2013 HOME funds for the development of affordable housing.
-Authorized the mayor to execute the program year 2015 grant agreement for the city’s 2015 Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG) and the Home Investment Partnership Program (HOME).
-Authorized the finance director to draw drafts for the Prince Avenue improvements project easement acquisitions; total: $10,104.
-Authorized the finance director to draw drafts for the Prince Avenue improvements project for easement acquisitions; total: $1,335.
-Authorized the Tuscaloosa County Industrial Development Authority to act on behalf of the city of Tuscaloosa regarding the granting of ad valorem tax abatements.
-Authorized the mayor to execute a memorandum of understanding with SCP Tuscaloosa LLC (South 10 apartments) regarding the construction of a portion of the sidewalk on 10th Avenue with the railroad right-of-way.
-Approved the small business revitalization loan application for Ryan Powell (dba Adams Martin AllState Agency); total: $50,000.
-Amended Chapter 21, Streets & Sidewalks, Article IX, Stormwater Phase II, Sections 21-151, 21-152 and 21-153.
-Amended exhibits “A” and “B” of Section 19-42 of the Code of Tuscaloosa.
-Authorized the payment of bills; total: $81,504.49.
August 25th, 2015
University of Alabama to host public viewing of the night sky - There will be a free public viewing of the night sky on tonight at the observatory in Gallalee Hall at the University of Alabama.
The impromptu viewing hosted by UA astronomy professor Ron Buta will be from 7:30-9 p.m. using the department of physics and astronomy's 16-inch telescope as well as other telescopes.
The viewing will include Saturn, the moon, and other celestial objects, Buta said. The event offers a chance to observe Saturn before the planet moves behind the sun for the rest of the year, astronomy professor Bill Keel said.
Buta is still working on the formal schedule for public night viewings for the fall semester, which will be released later.
The observatory is on the fourth floor of Gallalee Hall, which is at the corner of University Boulevard and Hackberry Lane.
August 25th, 2015
Hubbard's challenge to ethics law remains sealed - MONTGOMERY | Indicted House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s challenge to Alabama’s ethics law will remain out of public view.
Lee County Circuit Judge Jacob Walker on Monday ordered court filings referencing grand jury material to be under seal. The Republican speaker, in seeking to get the case dismissed, has filed a challenge to the 2010 ethics law he once praised but is now accused of breaking.
Defense lawyer Mark White said the defense is questioning the constitutionality of parts of the 2010 law and how prosecutors are applying it in Hubbard’s case.
Hubbard faces felony ethics charges accusing him of using his positions as speaker and Alabama Republican Party chairman to drum up investments and clients for his companies. The challenge includes whether that political party activity should fall under the ethics law, White said.
“You are talking about the state coming in and saying to a political party we get to dictate how you spend private money,” White said.
Hubbard was the architect of the Republican’s 2010 push to win their first legislative majority in Alabama in more than a century.
The 2010 ethics revamp passed during a special session on ethics reform was one of the first actions of the new GOP majority. Hubbard in 2010 praised the new ethics law as major step forward for Alabama, saying it would help end Alabama’s reputation as a “corrupt state.”
“We promised the people of this state they would see a difference in the way their government operates,” Hubbard said in a statement after the bill was signed into law. “In seven days we passed seven anti-corruption bills and delivered on that promise. This new Legislature is committed to being more transparent, more accountable and more responsive to the people’s needs than ever before.”
The defense filed the motion more than a week ago under seal. At a hearing last week, prosecutors objected, saying Hubbard’s embarrassment over the challenge wasn’t a reason to bar it from public view. Walker told defense lawyers to file the challenge publically but with the grand jury material redacted.
However, Walker wrote in the Monday order that following a telephone conference with defense lawyers and prosecutors, he made the decision that all filing referencing grand jury material should be sealed. He said lawyers could file a motion to have the material unsealed.
He did not explain the reason for the order. An Aug. 6 court filing from prosecutors included a letter to White that listed some grand jury witnesses including former Gov. Bob Riley, businessman Jimmy Rane, former state Rep. Greg Wren and Business Council of Alabama Chairman Billy Canary. The list largely names people alluded to in the indictment but also included the disclosure that Hubbard testified to the grand jury in April.
August 25th, 2015
Pregame party to be held in Dallas - The North Texas chapter of the University of Alabama National Alumni Association will host a pregame party Sept. 4 at Gilley’s Music Hall in Dallas.
The party will feature Texas-style barbecue, music by the Ray Johnston Band and mechanical bull rides, along with soft drinks beer, wine and cocktails, all of which will be included in the price of admission.
Advanced tickets for those 21 years old and older are $75. Advanced tickets for those younger than 21 are $40. At the door, tickets are $90 those older than 21 and $50 for those younger than 21.
All proceeds from the party benefit the Lee Roy Jordan Endowed Scholarship.
To purchase tickets or for more information about the party, go online at www.tideintexas.eventbrite.com.
The University of Alabama will kick off the 2015 football season at 7 p.m. Sept. 5 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Upper deck seats for the game are still available for $95 each, and can be purchased through TicketMaster or the AT&T Stadium Ticket Office by calling 817-892-5000 or going online at www.ticketmaster.com.
August 25th, 2015
Three charged in shooting death - Investigators have accused three young men with the shooting death of a man found dead in a car Monday morning.
Marquell Underwood, 17, Trevoris Sheppard, 22, and Samuel Sanders, 16, were all charged with capital murder Tuesday morning, according to the Tuscaloosa County Metro Homicide Unit.
They are accused of killing Gregorie Somerville, 25, who was found dead in a car in the Aspen Village apartment complex off Skyland Boulevard early Monday morning. Someone on their way to work found Somerville lying partially outside the driver's side door of his girlfriend's car. A single .40-caliber shell casing was found near the vehicle.
Investigators believe that the suspects lured Somerville to the apartments under the pretense that they would buy a large quantity of marijuana, but they intended to rob him, said Capt. Gary Hood, Tuscaloosa County Metro Homicide Unit commander. Somerville was shot and killed when he arrived at the complex, Hood said.
The young men are suspected of taking Somerville's shorts, his cellphone and the marijuana.
The teenagers are being charged as adults. All three are being held in the Tuscaloosa County Jail with no bond set. They could face the death penalty if they are convicted.
Sheppard, 22, was arrested in March 2014 after police accused him of stealing a purse from a woman as she loaded groceries into her car at the Dollar General store on Bear Creek Road.
August 25th, 2015
GOP candidate Cruz visits Tuscaloosa today - Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a GOP presidential candidate, will deliver the keynote address at the Tuscaloosa Republican Party’s Lincoln-Reagan Dinner.
The fundraising event will be in the North Zone of Bryant-Denny Stadium at the University of Alabama. U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, also will be honored at the dinner.
Tickets to the event are no longer on sale.
August 24th, 2015
Bama Art House fall film series continues tonight - The Bama Art House fall film series continues tonight with a screening of “Amy” at 7:30 p.m. at the Bama Theatre, 600 Greensboro Ave.
The film is a documentary, rated R, about the life of the late musician Amy Winehouse. The film features previously unseen archival footage and unheard songs.
Tickets cost $8 or $7 for seniors and students and $6 for Tuscaloosa Arts Council members. Patrons can also purchase a $60 discount punch-card ticket for the entire fall film series.
To see a preview of “Amy” and other films in the series, go to www.bama theatre.org/bamaarthouse.
August 24th, 2015
250 wanted for tuberculosis testing after Alabama student tests positive - The Alabama Department of Public Health wants to test about 250 people for tuberculosis as a precaution following their contact with a University of Alabama student who may have had an infectious case of the disease in the spring.
The Alabama Department of Public Health and the University of Alabama announced on Monday they were contacting about 160 individuals on campus and about 90 who had left since the spring. All of those people were potentially exposed to the disease while in close contact with an unnamed student. The student is now undergoing treatment for tuberculosis in another state and is expected to make a full recovery.
The student is not now enrolled in classes and has not been on the UA campus since May, but health officials believe the student could have been infectious as early as January while on campus for the spring semester, according to a university announcement. The university and state officials declined to identify the student or release further information about the individual's class and whether he or she lived on campus, citing health and privacy laws.
While the officials want to contact the group for testing, they also sought to allay fears for others on campus in the spring, stressing the airborne bacteria requires hours of close contact with an active case to spread. People passing in the hall or in contact only briefly are unlikely to contract the disease, said Pam Barrett, director of the division of TB Control with the Alabama Department of Public Health.
“Just because you are on campus at the university, just because you are a student there, it doesn't mean you need to be tested,” Barrett said.
Only those who have been notified by the state about possible contact with the infected student need to be tested at this time, said Barrett and Dr. Albert White Jr., the department's health officer for Area 3.
Officials contacted those still on campus Monday via email. The state is in the process of contacting the remaining 90 people, Barrett said.
The 160 who remain on campus will undergo blood tests today to screen for the disease, Barrett said. The results should be back by Thursday.
Those who test positive will receive chest X-rays to check for active cases of the disease. Any active cases must be treated by law, she said. Those who test positive for tuberculosis but do not have active cases will be encouraged to undergo preventative treatment.
“We want to sort of do this quickly, so we don't miss it,” White said.
No other patients with active cases have been identified at this time, White added.
The health officials are unsure where the unidentified student contracted the disease, but noted it was unlikely that it was contracted on campus. There are no other active cases on campus, White said. The student also tested negative for an active case at the time of admission to Alabama, Barrett said.
While health officials typically try to locate the source of infection in children, they do not conduct similar investigations with adults who could have potentially carried the disease for years before it became active.
So far this year, there are 73 cases of tuberculosis in the state, White said. All of last year, there were 133.
Only about 10 percent of people who are infected with tuberculosis develop active cases, Barrett said. In 90 percent of the cases, the person's immune system handles the disease. Usually, cases develop as a result of weakened immune system or as complications of other health issues, she said.
“This is something that is very easily treated, very easily prevented,” Barrett said.
TB is spread via coughing or sneezing, Barrett said. The disease is not spread by contact, such as a handshake or touching surfaces or through items handled by a person with an infection.
The symptoms include a bad cough that lasts three weeks or longer, chest pain, coughing up blood or sputum, weakness or fatigue, weight loss, no appetite, chills, fever or sweating at night, according to the university release.
Reach Ed Enoch at ed.enoch@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0209.
August 24th, 2015
Library to host author of novel set in Paris - The Tuscaloosa Public Library will host a night with author Dana Gynther from 6-8 p.m. today at the library’s main branch, 1801 Jack Warner Parkway.
Gynther, raised in Auburn with a master of arts degree in French literature from the University of Alabama, will discuss her novel “The Woman in the Photograph.”
The book is about a New York socialite and model caught up in the romantic glow of 1920s Paris.
Gynther will sign copies of her book, which will be for sale, after the discussion.
Admission is free.
August 24th, 2015
13th Street East to be closed until Friday - The Tuscaloosa Department of Transportation said that 13th Street East just west of 13th Avenue East will be closed for sewer construction until 3 p.m. Friday.
Detour signs will be posted.
August 24th, 2015
Alberta school to hold ribbon-cutting - The public is invited to a 9:15 a.m. ribbon-cutting Wednesday for the Alberta School of Performing Arts, 2700 University Blvd. E.
The school contains state-of-the-art facilities for programs in dance, theater, instrumental music, vocal music and a piano lab. The school also has a theater that seats more than and 300 people.
Guests should park in the front lot facing University Boulevard.
August 24th, 2015
Barrineau uses his wits to help Alabama - When Parker Barrineau wanted answers, he consulted a book.
It wasn’t just any book: it was the University of Alabama’s football playbook, the one that contains the collective wisdom of offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin and head coach Nick Saban.
“It’s pretty thick,” the senior wideout said. “A bunch of pass plays but also a lot of run plays. You’ve got to know both of them.”
Barrineau does know the plays. All of them, and as well as anyone on the team.
“I do,” he said. “I know all the (wideout) positions. I keep myself versatile and valuable.”
The answer Barrineau has been looking for throughout his career, since walking on as a non-scholarship player out of American Christian Academy, is how to get on the field as often as possible, and how to stay there. The 6-foot, 184-pounder is not the biggest, fastest or most explosive receiver on the team, so he has to apply himself in other ways.
The son of a surgeon uses his brain.
“You can’t say enough about the guy,” center Ryan Kelly said. “He just learned the playbook at a young age and just continues to master it.”
Said Austin Grammer, Barrineau’s high school quarterback who now plays at Middle Tennessee State, “He’s probably hands-down one of the most intelligent football players I’ve ever played with.”
Barrineau learned a lot about Kiffin’s offense last season, when he had a role signaling in plays to the quarterback from the sidelines.
“They have the quarterbacks doing it this year,” he said. “It was fun being on the headsets and calling in plays and being part of the action, but hopefully this year I’ll be part of the (playing) rotation so it will be a little different.”
He has also worked on precision.
“It all started in January,” he said. “We’ve been running a lot and working out a lot. You know, just keep studying the playbook and film and detail your routes up, just keep competing.
“I definitely can play all four wideout positions. I play in the slot mainly — we keep the super-fast guys on the outside. I run good routes, I would say, and try to get open from the slot. I’ve got hands. Try to be a third-down guy and see how it works.”
Barrineau isn’t selfish. He shares his playbook knowledge with those who he competes with for playing time.
“He teaches a lot of young guys who might have a little bit more talent than he does, he keeps them in the loop every day and convinces them they can do it,” Kelly said. “He’s a key factor in what we do and just a great teammate to have on this team.
“His attention to detail is huge, and I think it can go unnoticed. He’s a heck of a worker, never complains about anything and just keeps his head down and keeps working. That’s what we need on this team, and hopefully the young guns on this team can look at that and say that’s what they want to model.”
Said Barrineau, “It’s tough for some incoming freshmen to learn it early, but a lot of them do catch on and have an impact. It’s tough, but if you study hard enough you can get it down.”
Barrineau suffered a setback in preseason preparation last week.
“Parker Barrineau cut his toe in an incident in the shower or the bathroom, some kind of way, hit it on a door or the door fell on it or closed on it or something and actually required surgery to sew it back up,” UA coach Nick Saban said. “This is something that will probably take at least a week or so for him to recover from.”
Barrineau played on punt return all last season and was added to the kickoff return unit during the course of the year. He hopes to again be a part of UA’s special teams.
“I love being a core special teams guy,” he said. “It’s something that I take pride in. Anything I can do to help out is something I want to do.”
Barrineau has played in 17 games in his three seasons, catching two passes for 16 yards. For a kid who grew up in Tuscaloosa, playing at Alabama in any role is a big deal.
“I’ve been coming to games here since I was a young child,” he said, “before the two big end zone renovations (at Bryant-Denny Stadium, which took place in 2006 and 2010). Just seeing how successful Alabama is now and how big a fan base we have, it’s unbelievable running through the tunnel in front of 102,000.
“It’s something I’ve dreamed my whole life, for sure. To be here at the peak of Coach Saban’s time and being on top of college football is something special. It’s definitely chilling.”
Reach Tommy Deas at tommy@tidesports.com or at 205-722-0224.
August 24th, 2015
The Crimson White will become more digital - The University of Alabama’s student newspaper, The Crimson White, will reduce publication of its print edition to twice weekly while expanding its digital content under plans announced by its editor on Monday.
The switch from a newspaper printing four times a week to a digital-first operation was announced by editor-in-chief Sean Landry in a letter published on Monday.
“Our digital presence has thrived in times of breaking news, but day-to-day, we’ve largely operated more like that paper in 1928 than a 21st-century news organization,” Landry wrote. “That ends today. Beginning Monday, August 24, 2015, The Crimson White newspaper will cease to exist.”
While reflecting on the student newspaper’s 120-year history, Landry wrote readers are increasingly forgoing the print edition in favor of digital products. The changes by the news organization will better serve its readership and provide valuable practical experience for student journalists who will enter a workplace that is increasingly digitally oriented, he said.
As part of the switch, the paper will change its name to The Crimson White Media Group to better reflect its re-focus on a broader array of content.
“That is really our message here no matter what the medium is we at the Crimson White think we are uniquely positioned to help (students) realize the vision,” Landry said, adding the student news organization was encouraging students campus-wide to participate.
The decision was made by the professional staff in consultation with the student staff, according to Landry and Office of Student Media Director Paul Wright. The Media Planning Board Committee, the advisory board for the university’s student media, was kept informed about the discussion, which began in the spring, Landry said.
“We didn’t know when we were going to pull the trigger until more recently, but it was something we have been talking about for a while,” Landry said.
The Crimson White Media Group will publish a news magazine twice a week, covering weekly news in one edition and the weekend, including entertainment and sports, in the second. The new print schedule and daily digital coverage begins this week, Landry said.
The CW’s new video channel also launches this week, and the staff hoped to have its first Student Sound-Off, an opportunity for students to speak their minds, posted by Friday. The video staff will also produce documentary features and live coverage.
The CW is also adding a podcast channel, and blogs on fashion, music, film, women’s sports, data journalism and other topics. The blogs and podcast are set to roll out on Sept. 1, Landry said.
Other content such as mycrimsonwhite.tumblr.com, relaunched as a 24-hour anonymous question and answer’s blog, is still being developed and will launch later, Landry said.
“The staff is, I think, incredibly excited. It is probably the best energy I have had,” Landry said.
Wright and journalism associate professor Chris Roberts, a member of the Media Planning Board Committee, both said the move to reduce the frequency of the print product and expand the digital content was not the result of financial hardship on the part of the paper.
“Let me emphasize that we were not forced financially into this decision, nor do we consider it a dilemma where we had no good choices,” Wright wrote in an email. “This is a positive move for our organization and our students that will allow us to better serve the campus and better train our students.”
Reach Ed Enoch at ed.enoch@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0209.
August 24th, 2015
UA student faces felony charges - A University of Alabama freshman from Illinois was arrested at the school’s student center early Sunday morning, after police say he broke into and vandalized the student center.
Kacper Gozdecki, 18, is facing four felony charges after a UAPD officer found him in the Ferguson Center early Sunday morning.
The business major from Glenview, Ill., has been issued an interim suspension and trespass warning from UA.
Officers said Gozdecki was intoxicated and used a metal pipe to break two glass doors and damage several walls and computers, according to court documents. He was charged with two counts of second-degree burglary, two counts of first-degree criminal mischief and one count of resisting arrest.
University Police responded to a burglar alarm at 6:45 a.m. and saw Gozdecki holding a metal pipe and a box, according to the court file. Officers believe that he had used the pipe to cause damage in the Crimson Catering and Bama Dining kitchen and the campus mail room.
“He caused extensive property damage and attempted to take a large sum of cash from a safe that was located in the Crimson Catering office,” a UAPD officer wrote in a court deposition filed Monday.
Gozdecki did not immediately obey commands to drop the pipe and raise his arms, according to the deposition. He ran, but was eventually wrestled to the ground and handcuffed by two officers, according to the deposition.
He admitted to breaking in and causing the damage, the officer wrote.
Gozdecki was also charged with resisting arrest, a misdemeanor. He was being held Monday in the Tuscaloosa County Jail with bond set at $81,000.
Reach Stephanie Taylor at stephanie.taylor@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0210.
August 24th, 2015
Possible final version of city schools strategic plan unveiled - Education facility planning firm DeJong-Richter unveiled what could be the final version of the Tuscaloosa City Schools' integrated curriculum, facilities and demographic strategic plan on Monday.
Unlike previous versions of the plan, the latest plan reflects suggestions made by the Tuscaloosa City Board of Education and central office staff.
“There actually haven't been a whole lot of major changes, other than Skyland remains open,” said DeJong-Richter CEO Tracy Richter. “In the last plan we actually closed Skyland (Elementary) and moved it into the University Place solution. In this plan, we're rebuilding the front part of that building.”
Other notable changes include closing University Place and Rock Quarry middle schools and relocating their students, along with a portion of Eastwood Middle's students, to a 900-student capacity middle school in the Northridge High School zone. Part of University Place Middle's students — the ones living south of 15th Street — would be relocated to Westlawn Middle.
“The new north middle school allows for growth and lets Rock Quarry become just an elementary school,” he said. “We'd bring in some kids from the northeast that currently go to Arcadia to bring some diversity in. They'd be closer to their middle and high schools so we get a win-win there.”
University Place Elementary would remain open, but its students living north of 15th Street would be relocated to the Alberta School of Performing Arts and Rock Quarry Elementary. The rest of the University Place facility would be used to house first- through eighth-graders at Tuscaloosa Magnet School. University Place Elementary would remain a choice school, Richter said, meaning it would be open to all schools in the district.
The current magnet school building would close.
“The idea of the magnet school at University Place was generated a long time ago,” Richter said. “We kind of kept circling back to that idea. The capacity of the building and not having to spend a whole lot of dollars programmatically or infrastructure-wise to fix the building (is attractive).”
One of the major suggestions the steering committee made Monday was that DeJong-Richter look at rezoning part of the Verner, Northington, downtown, Central and Skyland areas so that they feed into University Place.
Richter said they'll consider the suggestion, but as it currently stands, University Place Elementary will become a neighborhood school as the plan recommends.
Overall, the latest plan calls for reducing the system from seven middle schools and 13 elementary schools to three middle schools and 10 elementary schools. The system will continue to have three high schools.
An extra gym and science lab improvements would be added to each of the high schools.
Central High would serve as the location for the international baccalaureate program grades 9-12. A 9-12 performing arts program would be added to Paul W. Bryant High. No new unique plans were made for Northridge.
Changes to the middle schools include closing Tuscaloosa Magnet Middle, Rock Quarry Middle and Southview Middle. Southview Middle's students would be relocated to Eastwood and the school building would serve as the new home of Southview Elementary.
Changes at the elementary level include playground upgrades, adding art and music spaces and incorporating STEM programs at each school. Each elementary school will have a minimum of two pre-k classrooms. The Central and Southview elementary buildings will close and be converted into pre-k centers.
Central and Oakdale elementary schools would close and their students will be relocated to a new 600-capacity elementary school in the Central High School zone. Oakdale's facility will serve as the new Oak Hill School and house the STARS and Success Prep academies.
Arcadia Elementary and Northington Elementary would also be closed and the students from those schools would attend a newly constructed 600-capacity elementary school in the Paul W. Bryant High School zone.
The Alberta School of Performing Arts would be expanded to a capacity of 580 students. Its current capacity is 360 students.
All other elementary schools would receive renovations.
The curriculum, finances and human resources components of the plan will be discussed in detail during a called meeting Sept. 1. Final public comments on the plan will be allowed at the meeting.
On Sept. 15, the plan will go before the board for final approval and adoption.

Reach Jamon Smith at jamon.smith@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0204.
August 24th, 2015
Girl, 11, killed in car wreck - A Hillcrest Middle School student was killed in an early morning wreck Saturday.
Emma Kate Jones, 11, died at DCH Regional Medical Center after the accident. Her father and her 5-year-old sister survived.
Shane Jones, 35, was driving the 1994 Mitsubishi 3000 GT that crashed near Sokol Park at 2:20 a.m. He was charged with possession of a controlled substance after he was discharged from DCH. He was later released on $15,000 bond.
The Tuscaloosa Police Department’s Accident Reconstruction Unit responded and is handling the investigation, which spokesman Capt. Brad Mason said is ongoing. No further details about the arrest were released.
An online account to raise money for funeral expenses at www.gofundme.com/vg22d9wb had raised more than $10,000 by Monday afternoon.
Visitation is scheduled for Thursday night at Magnolia Chapel and the funeral is scheduled for Friday in Buhl.
Students at Hillcrest Middle are planning to wear turquoise and light blue, Emma’s favorite colors, to honor her memory on Wednesday.
August 24th, 2015
Body found at Aspen Village Apartments - Authorities suspect foul play after a man was found dead in his car at Aspen Village Apartments early Monday.
The man, whose name has not been released, was the victim of a homicide, said Tuscaloosa County Metro Homicide Unit commander Capt. Gary Hood.
Investigators were in the parking lot early Monday, taking fingerprints from the black Toyota and inspecting the area.
More information will be released at a press conference scheduled for 1:30 p.m.
August 24th, 2015
Tuscaloosa City Council Agenda: Aug. 24 - The Tuscaloosa City Council will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the council chambers on the second floor of City Hall, 2201 University Blvd. The following items will be on the agenda:
-Authorizing request for street lighting modifications.
-Awarding competitive bid(s) for the purchase, etc., of aluminum hand rails from Thompson Fabricating LLC; total: $31,588.
-Authorizing utility account credits; total: $4,693.87.
-Authorizing execution of Requisition Nos. 74-75 for payment from the Series 2014A Warrant Issue; total: $1,429.53.
-Authorizing an adjustment and refund of excess deposit to BMCC for installation of water mains and services for Somerville Apartments water main extension; total: $5,629.71.
-Setting Sept. 8 as the date for a hearing to consider approval of the first amendment to Pinnacle Park at North River.
-Authorizing payment to Misty Marie Woolbright in settlement of claim; total: $226.66.
-Authorizing an adjustment and refund to excess deposit to Harrison Construction Co. Inc. for installation of water mains and services for UA Kappa Delta Sorority fire line; $4,119.95.
-Authorizing the issuance of a loan to Laukesha V. Noble for home purchase assistance under the City's HOME Program; total: $5,000.
-Authorizing an adjustment and refund of excess deposit to Price Construction Co. Inc. for installation of water mains and services for Sokol Park soccer fields' 4-inch meter; total: $3,248.99.
-Authorizing amendment to funding agreement with Habitat for Humanity Tuscaloosa for a time extension for completion of homes along Juanita Drive.
-Authorizing the mayor to execute a right-of-way permit to Chance Partners LLC.
-Approving job class specifications for human resources supervisor.
-Authorizing the mayor to execute a right-of-way permit to University Stations LLC.
-Authorizing the Office of Federal Programs to make budget and program changes and to advertise those changes to the 2012 action plan of the city's five-year consolidated plan for Community Planning & Development Programs for program years 2010-2014.
-Authorizing the Office of Federal Programs to make budget and program changes and to advertise those changes to the 2014 action plan of the city's five-year consolidated plan for -Community Planning & Development Programs for program years 2010-2014.
-Authorizing the mayor to add additional funding to an authorized contract with Habitat for Humanity of Tuscaloosa under 2006-2012 HOME funds for the development of affordable housing; total: $25,000.
-Authorizing budget and program changes to the 2013 program year Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) grant.
-Authorizing an amendment to the city's agreement and authorizing the mayor to execute the amendment agreement with Habitat for Humanity of Tuscaloosa Incorporated under 2011 and 2013 HOME funds for the development of affordable housing.
-Authorizing the mayor to execute the program year 2015 grant agreement for the city's 2015 Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG) and the Home Investment Partnership Program (HOME).
-Authorizing the finance director to draw drafts for the Prince Avenue Improvements Project easement acquisitions; total: $10,104.
-Amending Chapter 21, Streets & Sidewalks, Article IX, Stormwater Phase II, Sections 21-151, 21-152 and 21-153.
-Amending exhibits “A” and “B” of Section 19-42 of the Code of Tuscaloosa.
-Authorizing the payment of bills; total: $81,504.49.
August 24th, 2015
Alabama ranks No. 3 in preseason AP Top 25 poll - The University of Alabama begins the season ranked No. 3 in the preseason AP Top 25 poll, released Sunday afternoon.
The Crimson Tide was the highest ranked SEC team. Voters ranked Alabama as high as No. 2 and low as No. 9.
Defending national champion Ohio State was a unanimous choice for No. 1, securing all 61 first-place votes.
TCU is a spot ahead of Alabama at No. 2 by a margin of 106 points. Baylor and Michigan State round out the top five.
A total of eight SEC teams ranked in the top 25, with Auburn at No. 6, Georgia No. 9, LSU No. 14, Ole Miss No. 17, Arkansas No. 18, Missouri No. 24 and Tennessee No. 25. Mississippi State and Texas A&M just missed the top 25 at No. 26 and 27, respectively.
With Wisconsin at No. 20, that makes seven teams on Alabama’s schedule ranked in the Top 25.
Alabama’s No. 3 start ends a string of five straight seasons it was ranked in the top two. In 2009, UA began at No. 5 before going 14-0 on its way to the BCS National Championship.
Reach Aaron Suttles at aaron@tidesports.com or at 205-722-0229.
August 24th, 2015
Rising up to support the community's youth - It’s like a yard sale but with brand-name, new items straight off the rack from local stores instead of someone’s closet or garage.
More than 75 local retailers including The Locker Room, Woods and Water, Rhubarbs and more have donated items for the Rise School’s annual Buy for Rise fundraiser on Friday and Saturday.
The items will be sold at deep discount prices — 75 percent off lowest marked prices on Friday and 90 percent off lowest marked prices on Saturday — to raise money to fund the school’s programs.
Clothing, home decor, gift items, baby items, jewelry and Alabama merchandise and memorabilia will be among the items buyers can expect to see at this year’s event, which is the school’s second-
largest fundraiser.
The event will take place at the school, located at 600 Johnny Stallings Drive.
Tickets for the preview night and silent auction on Friday from 5-8 p.m. are $10 in advance up until 3 p.m. Friday and can be purchased at the Rise School. They will cost $15 at the door.
Preview night will include catering from Hoo’s Q, Green Beverage and International Wines.
The $100 golden tickets, which allow buyers in 30 minutes before the preview sale, have sold out.
Admission is free to the event on Saturday from 8-11 a.m.
“The funds raised at this event support the important therapies we offer at Rise. This includes occupational therapy, music therapy, speech and language therapy as well as physical therapy,” said Rise director Andi Gillen. “For the 2015-2016 school year, Rise will need to raise $300,000 to continue providing therapy services.”
The school, located on the University of Alabama campus, enrolls nearly 100 preschool children, about half of whom have special needs. The program uses a creative curriculum that integrates therapy into the classroom.
August 23rd, 2015
Seafood town in Alabama still feeling effects of Hurricane Katrina - BAYOU LA BATRE | Hurricane Katrina only sideswiped Alabama as it devastated coastal Mississippi and New Orleans a decade ago, but Belinda Clark's family is still recovering in the town that calls itself the state's seafood capital.
The storm left 11 feet of water in her family's Bay Shirt Co. store, smack in the middle of downtown, and damaged their other shop on Dauphin Island. Once the storm passed, dozens of shrimp boats rested atop docks and marshes, seafood processors were wiped out and about 75 percent of its homes were damaged or destroyed.
The Clarks' two stores recovered with the help of federal loans, she said, and the family actually added a bait shop and restaurant after Katrina. But then the Gulf oil spill whacked all the businesses again in 2010, forcing the family to close their post-Katrina ventures.
So Clark now works in the family's latest business, Bayou Produce and Seafood Market, selling tasty, fresh-off-the boat shrimp to visitors and locals and hoping for better times.
“The economy here in the Bayou is really bad, but we're still holding on,” she said in a recent interview.
Katrina came ashore along the Mississippi-Louisiana line on Aug. 29, 2005, sparing Alabama the worst of its destruction because the powerful center of the storm was 90 miles away. More than 25,000 evacuees from Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas came to the state seeking shelter, and some remain 10 years later.
While much of west Alabama received hurricane-force wind gusts up to 80 mph, causing damage across a wide area, the destruction didn't approach the devastation that occurred in Mississippi and Louisiana. Downtown Mobile and much of the Alabama coast flooded, but the waters receded. The storm opened a hole in Dauphin Island that remained for years, but no structures were damaged.
Bayou La Batre, with about 2,500 residents, was another story.
The city dock was wiped out along with much of the town's seafood industry along Shell Belt Road, the city's industrial hub, and water nearly covered pumper trucks parked at the Bayou La Batre Fire Department. Volunteers flooded the town with donations and free labor.
“It took lots of people months to get back home, and some people couldn't get back to their homes ever,” said lifelong resident Marcia Barnes, 47.
Longtime oysterman, crabber and shrimper Avery Bates said millions in federal disaster assistance was required to remove dozens of shrimp boats tossed inland by the storm surge, waves and wind, and a few small boats still remain in marshes. In all, about 113,000 Alabamians sought federal or state aid after Katrina.
Many seafood workers left the business, he said, but others were too stubborn to give up.
“Some of them say, 'I've got too much mud between my toes and I'm going to hang in there,' but it is tough,” said Bates, vice president of the Organized Seafood Association of Alabama.
Katrina was the last major storm to hit the northern Gulf Coast, and that worries residents who fear the region is overdue for a blast of tropical weather.
“Ten years gets you kind of anxious when you think of what Katrina did here and to the rest of the Gulf Coast,” said Bates.
Clark's family businesses can't take much more from the weather. The old shirt company that was flooded by Katrina is now struggling in a new, smaller location even when skies are sunny, she said.
“It's on one of its last legs,” said Clark.
August 23rd, 2015
Looking Back: Aug. 24 - -County employees requested reserved parking spaces in the new parking lot under construction at the Tuscaloosa County Courthouse on the site of the old county jail, but the board of revenue said it had been advised not to designate those spaces for employees.
-Guthrie Smith, mayor of Fayette, was elected president of the Alabama League of Municipalities.
-Tuscaloosans gave a vote of confidence to Mayor George M. Van Tassel and Public Safety Commissioner George K. Ryan in the municipal runoff election. Returning to office with them would be Finance Commissioner C. Snow Hinton, who was unopposed in the August city elections.
-One black tenth-grade girl enrolled at Greene County High School in Eutaw on the first day of school.
-Roy E. Perkins, a convicted rapist captured after a massive manhunt in Tuscaloosa and Fayette counties, was expected to go before the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles for a parole revocation hearing.
-A Tuscaloosa County district judge set a $100,000 property bond for the accused murderer of Catholic priest Father Francis Craven in northern Tuscaloosa County.
-Deaths this week included longtime Tuscaloosa County engineer Samuel M. Hill Jr. at 73.
-Bobby Hagler, assistant county engineer, was appointed acting Tuscaloosa County engineer after Hill’s death.
-The property of convicted drug kingpin J.C. Pate consisting of extensive holdings in hunting, farming and timberland in West Alabama, were scheduled for auction. Federal marshals had already sold Pate’s 300-acre farm with 128 head of cattle in Greene County where thousands of pounds of marijuana, cocaine and Quaaludes were flown in on a tiny grass landing strip from 1981-1984.
-A Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Northport City Council can deny city firefighters the pay per job level as police, upholding a lower court ruling that elected officials have the right to determine how the city’s money is spent.
-In Tuscaloosa municipal elections, Walt Maddox and Sammy Watson were headed for a runoff. City Councilman James Cunningham and challenger Bobby Howard faced a runoff, as well, while Cynthia Almond won the District 3 seat on the Tuscaloosa City Council in her first race for political office. Lee Garrison handily won the City Council seat for District 4. Incumbent Harrison Taylor won the District 2 race; Kip Tyner achieved a landslide victory in District 5.
-James Minyard won the District 1 race for the Tuscaloosa City Board of Education.
-The MyBama website that provided access to schedules, e-mail and more for students, faculty and staff at the University of Alabama, crashed on the first week of fall classes.
-A circuit court judge delayed a decision on whether city officials and a reporter for the Tuscaloosa News would be deposed in connection with anonymous mailings sent to select politicians, judges and others that labeled businessman Stan Pate a racist soon after an account in The Tuscaloosa News of Pate’s arrest following an alleged harassment incident at a Temerson Square bar.
-There would be a recount in the District 7 City Council race. Candidate Bob Hagler fell just two votes short of Angie Achterhof; Achterhof was set for a runoff with frontrunner William Tinker. The results stood after the recount.
-As Hurricane Katrina was set to make landfall on the Louisiana coast, officials urged West Alabama residents to prepare for the worst and take threats related to tornadoes, high wind and heavy rain seriously. Katrina knocked down trees, dumped several inches of rain and left more than 69,000 local households without electricity, but the region escaped devastation as the storm rapidly weakened.
-Nancy Pack resigned after 10 years as director of the Tuscaloosa Public library
-Two former University of Alabama students sued the university, contending that its mandatory food fee, called Dining Dollars, violated state laws. The students requested their money back and asked that the case become a class-action suit covering all UA students who have paid the fee.
-Northport opened a city-owned lot off Bridge Avenue to RVs for the Alabama football weekends. The lot behind the old Mack’s Bait Shop would hold at least 50 RVs; each space would be leased for about $650 for the season.
-Deaths this week included Patricia Adair, 55, Fayette resident whose body was found along a creek about 100 yards from a Fayette city street.
-The documentary “Nick Saban: Gamechanger” opened at the Cobb Hollywood 16 in Tuscaloosa after it premiered in Birmingham earlier in the week.
-Mercedes-Benz announced plans to hire 400 to 500 temporary workers to help meet a rising demand for its sport utility vehicles.
-A father and son faced each other across the football field when Sipsey Valley High School football team, coached by first-time head coach Lance Tucker, played the Fayette County Tigers, coached by Waldon Tucker, Lance’s father. The Tigers won that game 28-6 giving the elder coach Tucker his 300th career win.
-A large crowd gathered for the first Johnny Shines Blues Festival in Holt. Shines lived in Holt the last two decades of his life.
-Hunter Chapel AME Zion Church was added to the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage.
-Nick Saban entered his eighth season as head coach of the Crimson Tide as his No.2-ranked team prepared to meet the West Virginia Mountaineers in Atlanta.
-Northport Police Chief Kerry Card retired, ending a more than three-decade career with the Northport Police Department.
-Sweet Home Food Bar opened on University Boulevard in downtown Tuscaloosa.
-The newly renovated Tuscaloosa City Council chambers was showcased as the council returned to its usual home.
-Mercedes-Benz would drop the M-Class name on its popular Vance-made SUV and rebrand it as the GLE-Class when the vehicle got a face-lift for 2016 models.
-Northport Fire Rescue added a drone to its arsenal of emergency response tools.
-Alabama Power Co. presented a $30,000 grant to the West Alabama Food Bank to help the food bank pay off its building and bring it up to code.
-Tuscaloosa native Marvin Frank Thomas Sr. was elected as the first Christian Methodist Episcopal church bishop from Tuscaloosa County in the denomination’s 144-year history. Thomas is a 1972 graduate of Druid High School and a 1977 graduate of Stillman College.
Compiled by retired News librarian Betty Slowe.
August 23rd, 2015
Student arrested after breaking into building - A University of Alabama student has been arrested by the UA Police Department for allegedly breaking into the Ferguson Center Sunday morning, causing significant damage to several areas, according to UA. The Ferguson Center operations were open as normal Sunday afternoon, and the Ferguson Mail Center is expected to resume normal operations at 8 a.m. today. The incident is under investigation.
August 23rd, 2015
About 500 take part in Walk 2 Remember at Tuscaloosa Mall - Fran Snyder walked around the four wings of University Mall in memory of her husband, her father and her grandfather, all of whom had a memory disorder.
She was one of about 500 participants in the 11th annual Vicki Kerr Walk 2 Remember at University Mall on Saturday benefiting Caring Days, an adult day-care program in Tuscaloosa.
She said the walk is a time to help her reflect on the memory of her loved ones and a time to give and receive support from others who are going through or have experienced a loved one's fight with a memory disorder.
"(The walk is) a time of helping me remember the lives we had together, but also a time of seeing other people who are all in the same boat — so many people who are worried, concerned."
The purpose of the walk is to raise awareness about people with memory disorders and raise funds to support Caring Days, said Debbie LeBron, director of the Mal and Charlotte Moore Center of Caring Days.
Last year, around 400 people participated in the event, which raised $50,000 for the organization, Caring Days executive director Vicki Kerr told The Tuscaloosa News last week.
LeBron said the goal is to raise $60,000 during this year's fundraiser.
"We only charge half of what it costs us to run the centers. For us to charge so low, this is the important fundraiser once a year we do to offset those charges," LeBron said. "There is no other adult day care in the community, but if you compared it to assisted living and nursing homes, I think you'd find a huge difference."
She said the organization charges $30 a day for six hours or less or $45 a day for 10 hours, which includes a meal and two snacks. It costs about $3.80 an hour, and loved ones get the care, socializing and cognitive stimulation they need while being able to return to their homes, she said.
Caring Days has been serving clients with memory disorders and their families in Tuscaloosa for 18 years. In 2013, the organization moved to the Mal and Charlotte Moore Center, which has allowed it to increase the number of people it serves.
The organization also operates the Caring Together Wellness Center, a facility that offers a program for seniors to learn new skills to enhance their lives and a safe environment for seniors with Alzheimer's and other memory disorders.
LeBron said with the baby boomer generation aging, projections indicate many more people will be affected with memory disorders.
"I know that Alzheimer's is just a part of our lives. It affects so many people," Snyder said.
August 23rd, 2015
Ted Cruz will be campaigning in Tuscaloosa on Tuesday - U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz's stop in Tuscaloosa on Tuesday is part of a spate of visits to the state by Republican hopefuls seeking the party's 2016 nomination for president.
"We are very, very excited about the kind of traffic we are getting, and we know it is all because of joining the SEC primary. This is unprecedented in the history of our state," Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said.
Alabama lawmakers voted during the 2015 regular session to move up the presidential primary beginning in 2016 from the second Tuesday of March to the first Tuesday to align with other presidential primary elections in the Southeast.
Cruz, who is from Texas, announced his candidacy in March and will deliver the keynote address at the Tuscaloosa Republican Party's Lincoln-Reagan Dinner on Tuesday. The fundraising event will be in the North Zone of Bryant-Denny Stadium at the University of Alabama. U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, also will be honored at the dinner.
Cruz was in the state earlier this month with stops in Pelham and Huntsville during a campaign swing through the Southeast.
His stop in Tuscaloosa follows Alabama appearances by fellow GOP presidential candidates, businessman Donald Trump, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Trump was in Mobile on Friday, and Kasich, who has been endorsed by Gov. Robert Bentley, was in Birmingham on Monday. Walker was in Talladega on Saturday.
Dr. Ben Carson is scheduled to be in Montgomery on Tuesday, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will be in Birmingham on Wednesday, Merrill said.
Merrill said there are discussions with Kasich's campaign about a return visit, as well as stops by businesswoman Carly Fiorina and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. The visits could come as early as the beginning of next month or in October, Merrill said.
Merrill speculated the visits would drop off as the candidates shifted their focus to Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and other early primary contests, but would pick back up closer to Super Tuesday primaries on March 1, 2016.
Historically, the primary race is often decided well before all of the states have held their primaries, said professor Richard Fording, chairman of the University of Alabama's department of political science.
One of the principle goals of moving up Alabama's presidential primaries was to attract more attention to the state's contests and make it more relevant in the national conversation, he said.
"The candidates naturally want to focus their resources on the states that hold primaries earlier in the primary season. But I also think there are other factors at work here," Fording said.
The Deep South is an important part of the Republican party base. Fording said he believes Republican nominee Mitt Romney suffered some in the general election from a poor primary showing in the region.
"I think that many of the Republican candidates realize that a good showing in the Southern primaries is important to demonstrate that they are a viable national candidate," Fording said.
Reach Ed Enoch at ed.enoch@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0209.
August 23rd, 2015
Annual Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah 5K, fundraising for cystic fibrosis see more success - University of Alabama football strength coach Scott Cochran doesn't need a starter pistol to kick off a race.
As the honorary starter for the Saturday morning race benefiting cystic fibrosis research, he opened the 5K at Government Plaza in downtown Tuscaloosa yelling the same phrase that fans hear on the Jumbotron at Crimson Tide home football games: "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!"
Each participant who finished the race received a souvenir whistle. Blair Plott said the persistence, strength and dedication represented by the coaches' whistle make it a fitting prize for the runners and a fitting symbol for the daily struggle faced by her son, Thomas, who just started second grade.
Thomas was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a genetic disorder that causes damage to the lungs and digestive system, when he was just 10 weeks old.
"He is exactly the same as my older son, they do all the same things. He just has a lot of extra steps to do," Plott said, "He does two rounds of chest physical therapy, which takes about 30 minutes, four breathing exercises, and he takes about 30 pills. All every single day, even his birthday. But it's got to get done."
Plott and her husband, Bobby, and some of their friends formed the Thomas Plott Foundation in 2010 to fund research of the disease. The Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah 5K, which marked its second year Saturday, raises money for the foundation.
New to the event this year was a "fun run", a shorter race for children 10 and younger. Sally Ree had three children — ages 9, 7 and 5 — running for the cause. Ree, who ran in the first 5K, spent her early morning hours Saturday handing out race packets and lip balm.
"It all started when our boys ended up on a baseball team together" Ree said. "I can't imagine dealing with that as a parent, or as a child who has to go through something like that. As our sons became friends, we got to know more about (the foundation), and we knew we had to help out."
Her husband's company, Blair Remodeling, is now an official sponsor of the Thomas Plott Foundation. Events like the 5K, inspired by Plott's daily jogs with Cochran's wife, Cissy, raise a large portion of the foundation's proceeds. This year, 625 people tackled the 3.1-mile stretch, raising an estimated $25,000. Last year, 578 people participated.
Plot said some of the proceeds from this year's race will be directed to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in Maryland.
"We try to make sure as much of our money goes to direct research as possible," Plott said. "UAB has a humongous research lab, and we just bought them a very high-tech microscope that will be directly used to research cystic fibrosis."
Lauren Humber, Thomas' godmother, has been involved from the beginning. As a sponsor and Blair Plott's right-hand," she helps organize events like the 5K, as well as spring trips to Washington, D.C., for the Plotts to participate in lobbying efforts on behalf of cystic fibrosis research.
One of the foundation's first fundraisers was an annual golf tournament.
"My husband was a big golfer, so when we all found out about Thomas, we didn't have to talk about it. We knew we had to do something. He's not a physician or a scientific mind. He's a golfer, and he's doing what he can do to help," Humber said. "In such a short time, it's grown from such a small idea to so much more in creating a brighter future for Thomas, and maybe even finding a cure."
From 2010 to 2014, the nonprofit has raised more than $300,000. Other fundraisers by the Plott Foundation include movie nights and concerts at the University of Alabama. According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, 70,000 people worldwide live with cystic fibrosis, the result of a defective gene that causes mucus build-up in the lungs and other organs. Today, more than half of cystic fibrosis patients in the United States are older than 18.
"The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation was founded in 1955 by a group of parents whose children were literally dying before they started kindergarten," Plott said. "Since then, the CF Foundation has developed an incredibly successful therapeutic pipeline. Right now, there are two drugs they have developed that reduce inflammation, increase lung function and increase appetite. Those three things help fight the disease, so these two drugs are like a cure. There are people with CF now who are living lives well into adulthood because of the CF Foundation."
For more information on the Plott Foundation, go to www.plottfoundation.org/about/.
August 23rd, 2015
SCHOOL NEWS: Aug. 23 - Tuscaloosa Academy
Four students were delegates at the 87th American Legion Alabama Boys State held at the University of Alabama this summer. They were Weston Hamiter, Robins Bonner, Mason Lake and Brant Lyons.
Lake was involved in courts and passed the Boys State Bar and participated in mock trials to learn about the legal system.
Girls State
American Legion Post and Auxiliary Unit Number 34 held a joint meeting Aug. 13 at the Tuscaloosa County Courthouse Annex, recognizing 17 delegates from Tuscaloosa who attended the Alabama American Legion Auxiliary Girls State sessions at the University of Alabama in June.
The highest honor was bestowed on Allison Coogler, daughter of Scott and Mitzi Coogler, who attended Girls Nation program held in Washington, D.C., in July as an Alabama delegate.
August 23rd, 2015
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