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Home > Tuscaloosa Business News

Tuscaloosa Business News - 2016-01

We have news items here related to Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Many pizza places have opened or will be opening in Tuscaloosa - Toss some Alabama soul seasoned with New York expertise into a hickory-wood-fired brick oven and out pops a Post Office Pie, a fresh and gooey collection of crisped dough, melted cheeses, tomato-based pizza sauce and an assortment of sausage, bacon and house-sliced pepperoni. And that's just for the restaurant’s popular Swine Pie, with seven other standards on the menu, and custom works available.

Co-owner John Hall opened the original Post Office Pies in Birmingham’s Avondale neighborhood less than two years ago, and this year expanded to a downtown Tuscaloosa location at 557 20th Ave. S., which is behind Innisfree Irish Pub.

Post Office Pies is the first pizzeria to join Mellow Mushroom in the downtown scene since Old Venice Pizza changed to Cafe Venice in the early 2000s (and then Venice Italian Fusion, before closing in 2010). Three other pizzerias will take advantage of the growing scene in Tuscaloosa, with two already open, and another is expected by the end of spring.

Pieology, a national chain with state locations in Huntsville and Birmingham, offers customizable pizzas and salads. It opened on the Strip in mid-January.

Pyro's Fire Fresh Pizza, a restaurant with four locations in Tennessee, opened its first Alabama store at The Shoppes at Legacy Park on Friday.

And Heat Pizza Bar will be the first tenant in the downtown Intermodal Facility later this spring. The four commercial spaces have been unoccupied since the parking-deck facility opened in 2009.

Hall of Post Office Pies appears to have a knack for knowing when an area needs pizza innovation. Between culinary stints at Gramercy Tavern, Per Se and Momofuku Ssäm Bar in New York City, he noticed his Brooklyn neighborhood didn’t have many late-night food options. He created a delivery service, Insomnia Pizza, and shuttled pies from his apartment to hungry neighbors.

On returning to Alabama, he realized Avondale needed a pizzeria, so he transformed the neighborhood's old post office into his new Post Office Pies. Tuscaloosa is the restaurant’s second location.

“I love being here (in Tuscaloosa), and I love living here,” Hall said. “It’s been great so far. We’re excited to be here.”

Tuscaloosa is an ideal location, not too close and not too far from Avondale, Hall said. Some students from the University of Alabama at Birmingham are already familiar with the Post Office Pies brand. Tuscaloosa's growing restaurant scene is moving in a direction similiar to the current booming scene in Birmingham, Hall said.

"There's the opportunity that you see here," Hall said. "It's the same that I saw in Birmingham, and I think that Tuscaloosa's just hungry and ready for more."

Bernd Greimel, a customer at Post Office Pies, enjoys having more options in Tuscaloosa.

“It’s also nice to have more competition,” Greimel said.

Hall and sous chef Joshua Braden have seen a steady influx of customers over the past month, with families, business professionals, university students and other couples on dates. The seating allows for parties as small as two or larger than 15 at the bigger family tables, Braden said.

“It’s not a whole lot of smoke and mirrors when it comes to our pizzas,” Hall said. “We just try to use the freshest ingredients possible and put a lot of love into it.”

Post Office Pies offers eight different pies, including the popular Swine and Italian pies as well as Margherita with homemade mozzarella balls and fresh basil, The White, Chicken Pesto, and more plain options of cheese, pepperoni and sausage, with a 12-inch pizza ranging in price from $13 to $17. Customers can also order 9-inch pies for a slightly less at lunch and late nights. It’s also an option to customize a pizza, which Braden said he likes to do.

“I really enjoy the Margherita pizza, and I also like to add sausage and jalapenos to it,” he said. “As my staff has come to know, I like jalapenos on everything. We get them in fresh, and we cut them fresh.”

Post Office Pies also serves Caesar and seasonal salads, as well as house-made meat balls and garlic cheese bread for appetizers. Unique to the Tuscaloosa location are appetizers of either raw oysters with mignonette sauce, or baked oysters, which are served with Parmesan cheese, parsley, bread crumbs and bacon fat. Tiramisu is available for dessert. Once a beer license is obtained, Post Office Pies plans to sell local craft beers as well as state and national brews.

January 31st, 2016
Bryant-Denny is state's top sports spot - Bryant-Denny Stadium has been named the top sports destination in Alabama by the Alabama Tourism Department.

This designation is the result of 712,747 visitors passing through its gates in 2015.

Although that was a drop from the 785,418 people who entered the stadium in 2014, it was still enough to put it above Jordan-Hare Stadium at Auburn University.

Auburn's facility came in as the second most visited sports destination in the state, with 612,157 visitors in 2015.

Coincidentally, this exact same number of visitors was reported at Jordan-Hare in 2014.

“We are thrilled to be the home of the one and only Bryant-Denny Stadium and are extremely proud that it was named the top sports destination in the state," said Brandt Garrison LaPish, director of communication and public relations for Tuscaloosa Tourism & Sports.

The Birmingham Barons placed third in sports attractions with 444,639 visitors, up from the 437,612 people who attended its home baseball games in 2014.

The Talladega Superspeedway came in fourth with 375,000 visitors, which was an increase from the 350,000 visitors in 2014.

As for other state attractions, more than 658,000 people visited the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville last year, ranking it No. 1 among state attractions that charge admission.

It was followed by the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail with 580,221 visitors and then the Birmingham Zoo with 576,974 visitors.

Tourism officials said seven of the state's Top Ten attractions that charge admission showed an increase in attendance over previous years, based on attendance figures collected by the Alabama Tourism Department through local tourism organizations.

Beaches of the Alabama Gulf Coast were the number one natural destination in the state, attracting 5.9 million visitors last year.

The Birmingham Botanical Gardens saw 350,000 visitors, making it the most attended free attraction.

And more than 1 million people celebrated Mobile's Mardi Gras making it the most attended event.

Top Ten - Admission Charged Attractions 2015

1) U.S. Space & Rocket Center

2015 attendance: 658,833

2014 attendance: 626,311

2) Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail

2015 attendance: 580,221

2014 attendance: 568,427

3) Birmingham Zoo

2015 attendance: 576,974

2014 attendance: 574,581

4) USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park

2015 attendance: 414,934

2014 attendance: 381,192

5) McWane Science Center

2015 attendance: 367,995

2014 attendance: 332,492

6) Point Mallard Park

2015 attendance: 291,016

2014 attendance: 298,879

7) Huntsville Botanical Garden

2015 attendance: 246,900

2014 attendance: 235,000

8) Montgomery Zoo

2015 attendance: 230,992

2014 attendance: 236,100

9) National Voting Rights Museum

2015 attendance: 228,670

2014 attendance: 88,650

10) Early Works Museums

2015 attendance: 165,000

2014 attendance: 189,500

Top Ten - Free Attractions 2015

1) Birmingham Botanical Gardens

2015 attendance: 350,000

2014 attendance: 350,000

2) Alabama State Capitol

2015 attendance: 158,658

2014 attendance: 97,614

3) Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts

2015 attendance: 141,468

2014 attendance: 159,263

4) Birmingham Museum of Art

2015 attendance: 132,000

2014 attendance: 139,111

5) Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark

2015 attendance: 94,382

2014 attendance: 88,000

6) Aldridge Gardens

2015 attendance: 84,225

2014 attendance: 83,075

7) Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament

2015 attendance: 80,000

2014 attendance: 40,000

8) Alabama Department of Archives & History

2015 attendance: 55,527

2014 attendance: 44,802

9) Oakville Indian Mounds Education Center

2015 attendance: 48,448

2014 attendance: 43,512

10) Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art

2015 attendance: 34,148

2014 attendance: 29,580

Top Ten - Events 2015

1) Mobile Mardi Gras

2015 attendance: 1,011,588

2014 attendance: 1,034,609

2) Fairhope Arts and Crafts Festival

2015 attendance: 300,000

2014 attendance: 250,000

3 tie) National Shrimp Festival

2015 attendance: 250,000

2014 attendance: 250,000

3 tie) W.C. Handy Music Festival

2015 attendance: 250,000

2014 attendance: 250,000

5) Bridge Crossing Jubilee

2015 attendance: 185,000

2014 attendance: 75,000

6) National Peanut Festival

2015 attendance: 182,000

2014 attendance: 192,000

7) National Veteran’s Day Parade

2015 attendance: 100,000

2014 attendance: 100,000

8) Panoply

2015 attendance: 70,000

2014 attendance: 65,000

9) Main Street Music Festival

2015 attendance: 47,000

2014 attendance: 32,000

10) Rock the South

2015 attendance: 40,000

2014 attendance: 30,000

Top Ten - Parks and Natural Destinations 2015

1) Alabama Gulf Coast Beaches

2015 attendance: 5,900,000

2014 attendance: 5,700,000

2) Gulf State Park

2015 attendance: 2,234,121

2014 attendance: 1,974,301

3) Wheeler Wildlife Refuge

2015 attendance: 663,000

2014 attendance: 656,630

4) Oak Mountain State Park

2015 attendance: 555,000

2014 attendance: 363,752

5) Railroad Park

2015 attendance: 548,000

2014 attendance: 600,000

6) Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park

2015 attendance: 540,672

2014 attendance: 535,672

7) Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge

2015 attendance: 470,397

2014 attendance: 308,266

8) Lake Guntersville State Park

2015 attendance: 318,440

2014 attendance: 496,529

9) Joe Wheeler State Park

2015 attendance: 245,198

2014 attendance: 271,281

10) Little River Canyon National Preserve

2015 attendance: 235,782

2014 attendance: 215,000

Top Ten Sports Destinations 2015

1) Bryant-Denny Stadium – University of Alabama

2015 attendance: 712,747

2014 attendance: 785,418

2) Jordan-Hare Stadium – Auburn University

2015 attendance: 612,157

2014 attendance: 612,157

3) Birmingham Barons Baseball

2015 attendance: 444,639

2014 attendance: 437,612

4) Talladega Superspeedway

2015 attendance: 375,000

2014 attendance: 350,000

5) Montgomery Biscuits Baseball

2015 attendance: 232,466

2013 attendance: 244,534

6) Barber Vintage Motorsports

2015 attendance: 170,735

2014 attendance: N/A

7) SEC Baseball Tournament

2015 attendance: 120,386

2014 attendance: 134,496

8) Huntsville Havoc Hockey

2015 attendance: 100,381

2014 attendance: 109,819

9) Mobile Baybears Baseball

2015 attendance: 96,260

2014 attendance: 106,297

10) Ladd Peebles Stadium - University of South Alabama

2015 attendance: 96,234

2014 attendance: 94,929

January 31st, 2016
Issues to watch in the 2016 legislative session - MONTGOMERY, Ala. —
The Alabama Legislature begins the 2016 regular session on Tuesday. Here are nine issues to watch:
—BUDGET WOES: Difficulties in the state General Fund are again expected for lawmakers in the 2016 session. Available revenue is expected to fall short of what is needed to maintain services. Gov. Robert Bentley is not proposing any general fund tax increases in his proposed budget. Legislative budget chairmen likewise said they see little enthusiasm for tax increases, which will likely mean cuts for many state agencies.
—LOTTERY: Lottery legislation could get its first serious consideration in the Alabama Statehouse in 17 years. Republicans and Democrats have introduced rival proposals to establish a state lottery. There is disagreement over how lottery proceeds should be spent, and there could be push-back from lawmakers who also want casino legislation. Alabamians voted down a proposed lottery in 1999. Alabama is one of six states without a lottery.
—TEACHER RAISE: One of the few issues where state politicians find themselves in agreement. Democrats, Republicans and Gov. Robert Bentley have all said they will seek a teacher pay increase in the upcoming session. The disagreement will come over how much of a raise that the Education Trust Fund, the state budget that funds public education, can provide without hurting education programs. Suggestions for the pay increase ranged from 2 percent to 5 percent ahead of session.
—TENURE CHANGES FOR TEACHERS: The bill by Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh would extend the time required to obtain tenure from three to five years. Student performance growth would also become component of performance reviews. Marsh dropped an idea for performance-based pay. However, schools could get bonuses for test score improvement. Teachers, who are new, highly rated or work in hard to fill specialties could also get recruitment bonuses for taking jobs in high-poverty or underperforming schools
—PRISON CONSTRUCTION: Gov. Robert Bentley is expected to propose a bond issue to consolidate aging Alabama prisons and replace them with new larger, regional prisons, some lawmakers said. The initiative comes as the state prison system has been in a negative spotlight for crowding and safety concerns. Sen. Cam Ward, chairman of the state’s prison reform task force, said the state is pumping millions of dollars into maintaining dilapidated facilities.
— GASOLINE TAX: The Legislature’s transportation committee has held a series of pre-session meetings about the possibility of raising the state’s gasoline tax increase to pay for road and bridge construction in the state. Advocates said the price of road construction and repairs has increased exponentially while improvements in automobile fuel efficiency have caused tax collections, which pay for the work, to stagnate. Opponents have argued that the public is not in a mood for tax increases.
—SPEAKER’S TRIAL: Republican House Speaker Mike Hubbard is scheduled to go to trial on ethics charges in March, a date that falls in the middle of the session. While it is possible, if not likely, that the trial will get delayed during appeals of pretrial rulings, Hubbard’s ability to lead became an issue in pre-session wrangling. Hubbard’s critics have threatened to make motion to remove him from the speakership, although Hubbard appears for now to easily have the votes to survive such a challenge if it comes. Hubbard said he has thought about “scenarios” if trial and session do overlap, but he declined to elaborate.
—GUNS IN CARS: People would be able to carry a loaded handgun in their vehicles without a concealed carry permit, under a bill proposed in the Alabama Senate. Republican Sen. Gerald Allen of Tuscaloosa said that people should be able to have their weapons in their cars just as they can in their homes. The Alabama Senate has approved similar legislation in past sessions but the idea had not gotten final approval. The proposal, in the past, has sparked opposition from law enforcement officials who voiced concerns about public safety.
—BAN THE BOX: The proposal by Democratic Sen. Quinton Ross would prohibit companies from asking about a job applicant’s criminal history in the first job application. Employers could still ask about a person’s past convictions, but the question would have to come later in the application process.
January 31st, 2016
Remington top hiring, wage milestones at Alabama gun plant - HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Remington Outdoor exceeded hiring and wage milestones at its new advanced manufacturing and research and development center in Huntsville.
The Chamber of Commerce of Huntsville-Madison County shows the firearm maker had 324 employees as of Aug. 31 with an average hourly wage nearly $10 higher than stated in the development agreement between the company, City of Huntsville and state, Al.com (http://bit.ly/1SMrWEn ) reported.
Remington was required to create at least 280 full-time positions by the close of the second project year ending Feb. 28.
Remington is still hiring production team members through AIDT. It received an extensive incentive package from the city, local counties and state to launch the $110 million plant on 100 Electronics Boulevard in Huntsville.
“We have been extremely pleased since they arrived,” said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle in a statement. “Remington is doing more than promised and is well ahead of schedule.”
The employment figures were certified by Mercer & Associates as requested by the Huntsville Industrial Development Board.
Remington is seeking Huntsville maintenance technicians and machine operators, which both offer health, dental and vision insurance, life and accidental death and dismemberment insurance, 401(k) benefits, tuition reimbursement and more to eligible employees. Hourly pay is based on skill level and experience.
The company announced last week it will expand its Lonoke, Arkansas, plant by adding about 84 new positions to its workforce of 1,200 employees, according to The Times Record.
January 31st, 2016
Baby cleared to return home for first time after transplant - AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — There were days when Amanda Boswell was unsure if her youngest son would ever know of life outside hospital walls.
But baby Davis, who received a heart transplant on Nov. 30 after defying the odds and surviving nearly five months with the assistance of a rare Berlin heart — a device that worked as a temporary bridge until a donor heart became available — defied the odds once more when he was discharged from Children’s of Alabama hospital in Birmingham on Jan. 8.
The Boswells were told they would have to stay in Birmingham for the first four to six weeks post discharge, but Jan. 25 — just shy of three weeks after Davis’ discharge — Amanda Boswell announced on social media that Davis is expected to be cleared to return to Auburn soon.
“Davis is coming HOME!!!! To Auburn!!! On Thursday!!! Everything looked great at his clinic appointment this morning,” she posted to her personal Facebook account Monday morning. “After his clinic appointment on Thursday, this little guy will finally be at HIS house. I am crying tears of thanksgiving this morning! There were days I didn’t think THIS day would ever come. And here it is! Thank you JESUS!!! To HIM we give all the glory!!! Praise God from whom all blessings flow!!!”
Davis has spent all but two days of his life away from Auburn, his mother said.
“I had just an overwhelming sense of gratitude all throughout the day. There were lots of tears of joy. We thanked God,” Boswell said of when she received the news that Davis would be able to come home. “There were days when we didn’t think this day would come, when talking about going home wasn’t even an option. It was a wonderful day.”
Boswell said she looks forward to having both her boys home, happy and healthy. She and her husband are also the parents of Hudson, 2.
“We’re just so excited! A lot of people take the things that happen in everyday life for granted, and that’s the only things we want to do. We want to be home, we want to enjoy each other and that’s it.”
Once Davis is home, he will continue to have weekly checkups with his doctor and will participate in an array of therapies in Auburn.
Boswell asks for continued prayers for her son’s health as he begins his new journey.
“I’m in tears just thinking about how our community has rallied around us. It just amazes me and gives me so much pride to know I live in a place where these wonderful people love and care about us the way they do,” she said. “Our biggest thing and what we’ve always asked for is prayer. We just ask the community to continue to pray for Davis. This is really the beginning of his journey.”
Information from: Opelika-Auburn News, http://www.oanow.com/
January 31st, 2016
Streets to be swept this week (Feb. 1- Feb. 7) - Tuscaloosa street crews will sweep the following areas this week: 15th Street to 29th Street, Foster Ferry to Dinah Washington, Brown Circle, 16th Street to Ash Street, all streets and avenues east of Dinah Washington to Greensboro Avenue, Exchange Avenue, 28th Street to 32nd Street, 40th Avenue to 43rd Avenue, Ozment Road, The Glen, Cherrystone, Gresham Circle, Willow Lane, 20th to 24th avenues east, 56th, 57th and 58th streets east, Second Court East, 23rd and 24th courts east, 25th and 26th avenues east, 37th and 38th places east, 39th Street East, 44th and 48th streets east, 21st Avenue East, Jug Factory Lane, 10th Avenue and 10th Court East, 51st to 54th streets east, Royal Oaks Court, Claybrook, Claymont Circle, Freemont Drive, Eastwood Drive, (east side of Kicker Road to University Boulevard) Third Street NE, 20th, 22nd and 23rd avenues northeast, Fourth Place East, 5th-7th street east, Veterans Parkway to Loop Road, Kicker Road to 29th Avenue East, Lavera Drive, Cribbs Mill Circle, Circlewood, Cross Creek Drive, 27th Street East, Pine Hills, Valley View Lane, Valley Crest Road, Covey Chase, Vicksburg Drive, Riverdale Lane, Ridgedale Drive, Second Avenue NE, Woodridge Drive, Woodridge Road, Harmony Lane, Ridgeland, Yorktown Drive, Arbor Ridge Road, Windy Ridge, Pinbrook Lane.
Residents are asked not to park on these streets this week.
January 31st, 2016
Alabama priest to join Vatican staff - DECATUR -- The Catholic priest chuckled as he recalled a friend’s reaction to the life-altering news.
The Rev. “Rick Chenault told me, ‘You may be going to the Eternal City, but you won’t be in God’s country anymore,’“ the Rev. Kevin Bazzel said with a laugh.
Bazzel was born and raised in Decatur and will leave Alabama and his parish in Birmingham for a position 5,000 miles away at the Vatican in Rome — the Eternal City.
The 40-year-old Bazzel, who as a child attended St. Ann’s Catholic Church, now Annunciation of the Lord Catholic Church, will worship with Pope Francis andsome of the faith’s top echelon of leaders.
“Out of all the priests in the United States, it’s amazing to me that they picked my son. It’s also not so amazing. He has got a light around him that draws people to him. It has always been that way,” said Bazzel’s mother, Jean Bazzel of Decatur.
“He is our son, but he is also God’s son and we have always known that we would have to share him with the world.”
Appointed by the Catholic Church, Kevin Bazzel will serve as a member of the Congregation for the Clergy under the leadership of Cardinal Benjamin Stella of Italy, beginning April 5. The Congregation for the Clergy is one of the Catholic Church’s nine congregations.
Think of the congregations as departments overseeing specific aspects of the church, such as liturgy, sacraments and doctrine. The Congregation for the Clergy assists Pope Francis in promoting the well-being of priests, deacons and seminarians and supports seminaries in the training of men for the priesthood.
For Bazzel, his introduction to the ministry and training for the priesthood started as a child, under the guidance of his parents, grandparents and teachers at St. Ann’s. Every Saturday night, he attended Mass with his maternal grandparents and, every Sunday morning, he worshiped with his father, mother and brother.
Gene and Jean Bazzel always felt God sent their son for a special reason, even during the times they tried, unsuccessfully, to keep him quiet during church.
“When he was really little, he didn’t want to be quiet in church. He wanted to talk to everyone around him. We would have to take him to the cry room because he just would not be quiet,” Jean Bazzel said. “Even then he was drawing people to him.”
As Kevin Bazzel grew up, he soaked up the lessons and Scripture. The need to be a part of the teachings led him to serve as an altar boy, read Scripture during Mass, participate in church youth group and lead sessions on Sunday mornings.
For 18 years, the church’s Scriptures and lessons molded and shaped Bazzel, preparing him for the call from God into the priesthood. The call came in 1994, a year into Bazzel’s studies at the University of Alabama in Birmingham.
In need of guidance, Bazzel, who planned on studying medicine, called his great-aunt, who served as a nun in Buffalo, New York. He told her of his desires, hesitations and uncertainties. He asked for her guidance.
“She gave me the best advice I have ever received. She said, ‘Why don’t you ask God what He wants you to do,’“ Bazzel said. “That was my aha moment. It was a very powerful experience. The call was so strong I could not deny it and did not want to deny it.”
From that moment, Bazzel willingly followed where the church led. He attended Saint Meinrad Seminary in Indiana and the Pontifical North American College in Rome. He taught theology at St. John Paul II High School in Huntsville and John Carroll Catholic High School in Birmingham. He served as parochial vicar of Huntsville’s Holy Spirit Catholic Church and Birmingham’s St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church.
Every time the church called him to a new position, Bazzel said yes, he would go.
So when his phone rang Dec. 2 and Cardinal David Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, D.C., asked him to serve on the Congregation for the Clergy, Bazzel, after taking the weekend to pray about it, said yes.
“Part of being in the priesthood is trusting where God leads you. Every time I’ve said yes, I will go, the Lord has shown me why He asked me to go. I am excited about the opportunity and the challenge of being able to assist the Universal Church,” Bazzel said. “It will be difficult to leave my family and my parish, but if this is God’s will for me, it is also God’s will for my parish, my diocese and my family.”
In Rome, Bazzel will live in an apartment unit 2½ miles from the Vatican.
After spending five years in Rome studying, Bazzel anticipates returning to the city and visiting the tombs and shrines of the saints. He will bring before the saints prayers for his parish, diocese, family, friends and mentors in the faith. He will pray for his parents, who diligently passed on their Catholic faith to him. He will pray for the priests, teachers and volunteers from St. Ann’s. He will pray for Father Michael MacMahon of Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Huntsville, who encouraged Bazzel on his journey into the priesthood. And he will pray for his grandparents, who taught him about living in faith and unconditional love.
“The Vatican has understandably recognized Father Bazzel’s pastoral and administrative abilities in this call to service in the Congregation for the Clergy,” said Bishop Robert Baker of the Diocese of Birmingham.
“All of us are greatly honored to have one of our own to be invited to put his gifts to use for the Universal Church.”
Bazzel currently serves as rector of St. Paul’s Cathedral in Birmingham and as the vicar general, chancellor and adjutant judicial vicar of the Diocese of Birmingham and the diocesan Presbyteral Council. He will stay at the post through Holy Week and the ordination of one of the parishioners as a deacon.
“My goal as a priest is two-fold. One, I want to get to heaven. If I get to heaven, I know I’ve probably been a successful priest. Secondly, I want to bring as many people to heaven with me by helping them with their faith journey. That’s what my life is all about,” Bazzel said.
January 31st, 2016
AHSAA reclassification will renew old foes, welcome new - Old rivalries will be renewed and new ones born across West Alabama in high school basketball during the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons.
The AHSAA reclassification, which takes place every two years, gave way to some changes in the area basketball alignments.
Only 15 areas from across the state consist of five teams. The rest have four teams or less. There is one five-team area in Class 7A, two in Class 6A, two in Class 4A, one in Class 3A and nine in Class 1A.
In Class 6A, Brookwood, Hillcrest, Northridge and Paul W. Bryant will make up Area 7.
“For the longest time, Northridge was our biggest rival because they were in our area and Bryant. Brookwood is the only one that is new, so for the other ones, it is going back to something we’ve already been doing,” Hillcrest girls basketball coach Steven Sims said. “I think every game we are going to have a decent crowd. We’ve had rivalries in the past with Brookwood, so I think it’s kind of renewing an old rivalry that we have, but with Bryant and Northridge it’s already there.
“Every game is going to be filled to capacity and is going to be a great atmosphere, and that is kind of what we want.”
Brookwood and Northridge currently compete in Area 7 with McAdory and Bessemer City, while Hillcrest and Paul W. Bryant compete in Area 6 with Chilton County and Selma. The stands were packed at Hillcrest during last week’s game against Northridge, and fans, players and coaches alike are excited to bring back the old area matchup.
“That is the way it is supposed to be,” Northridge boys basketball coach Bob Brantley said after his team’s 54-53 victory over Hillcrest last Friday night. “Being in the area with Bessemer and McAdory is not bad, but it is not what it is supposed to be. It’s going to be good for us. Our kids, you saw this crowd tonight. Unbelievable. They love it, and it doesn’t matter what the record is, when we play Hillcrest they are there.”
In Class 7A, Tuscaloosa County joins Hoover, Thompson and Vestavia Hills in Area 5. Vestavia Hills moves to Area 5 from Area 6, while Oak Mountain moves from Area 6 to Area 5.
In Class 5A, Central, Demopolis and Sumter Central will make up Area 7. Central is currently in Area 7 with Calera, Helena and Jemison. Demopolis and Sumter Central are in Area 6 with Dallas County and Wilcox Central.
Both Greensboro and Hale County moved up to Class 4A from Class 3A, and join Bibb County and West Blocton in Area 6. Hale County is currently state-ranked in Class 3A, while Bibb County is state-ranked in Class 4A, which could lead to a highly-anticipated area matchup next season. Holt, Northside, Sipsey Valley and Oak Grove join Area 7. Bibb County, Holt, Northside and Sipsey Valley currently compete in Area 6. Winfield moved up to Class 4A from Class 3A and join Fayette County, Haleyville and Hamilton in Area 11.
In Class 3A, American Christian Academy, Gordo and Greene County join Area 7. ACA, Greene County, Greensboro and Hale County currently make up Area 6. Gordo plays in Area 7 with Aliceville and Lamar County, which both dropped down to Class 2A. Aliceville will join Francis Marion, Keith and R.C. Hatch in Area 7 and Lamar County will join Sulligent, Red Bay and Phil Campbell in Area 14.
Both Holy Spirit and Pickens County dropped down to Class 1A from Class 2A and will join Berry, Hubbertville and South Lamar in Area 9. Linden will play in Area 4 with A.L. Johnson, Marengo and Sweet Water.

Reach Joey Chandler at joey.chandler@tuscaloosanews.com or at 205-722-0223.
January 31st, 2016
LOOKING BACK: February 1 - -Two candidates for Tuscaloosa County sheriff filed qualifying papers with Chairman Paul Kuykendall of the County Democratic Executive Committee. John Smelley of Northport and D.D. Darnell, retired Tuscaloosa policeman, entered the race. Tuscaloosa County Sheriff Nathan Chism qualified as a candidate for re-election.
-Tierce Deal of Samantha was elected president of the Tuscaloosa Cattleman’s Association.
-Tuscaloosa’s tallest building, a 14-story dormitory to house 978 women students at the University of Alabama, was scheduled to be built on the eastern portion of the Verner Elementary School property.
-A department of religion would be established the following September as part of the College of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Joseph D. Bettis would be chairman of the new department. Dr. Earl Albert Long was appointed head of the UA physics department. Dr. Raymond McLain became dean for international programs.
-The Rev. T.Y. Rogers, head of the Citizens for Action Committee, organized picketing the W.T. Grant store demanding jobs for blacks as cashiers and saleswomen. The group picketed the Kress store the previous year; the store finally hired blacks.
-Deaths this week included Mary Sue Christian, believed to be the oldest resident of Tuscaloosa County at 103 years of age.
-A plan to build a shopping center near Tuscaloosa Middle School was defeated when the Tuscaloosa City Council voted 5-1 not to rezone the land.
-Deaths this week include Frank A. Rose, president of UA during some of its most turbulent times, at 70.
-Gymnast Dee Dee Foster set an NCAA all-around record, leading Alabama to defeat No. 2-ranked Georgia. Foster scored 39.35 in winning the all-around.
-City school superintendent Thomas Ingram warned that as many as 61 teachers and administrators might have to be laid off before the end of the school year if the system couldn’t raise an additional $744,738. City Council President Bill Lanford said a 1-cent addition to the city sales tax might be the only way to get the school system out of its financial bind.
-Deaths this week included Coretta Scott King, a native of Marion and wife of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
-While Auburn University celebrated its 150th anniversary, the University of Alabama prepared for its 175th.
-Businessman Frank Chandler qualified to run in the Republican primary for the House District 61 seat. Rep. Allen Layson, a Democrat from Reform, who had not announced at that time, had held the seat for 20 years.
-Huffman High School offensive lineman Andre Smith announced his decision to sign to play football at the University of Alabama.
-The pool of candidates to replace retiring Northport Police Chief Billy Galloway was reduced to three names: Kerry Card, a lieutenant in the Northport Police Department; Steven Foster, a captain in the Northport Police Department; and Robert Green, a former police chief of the Selma Police Department.
-Arson was suspected in five early morning Bibb County church fires. A $10,000 reward was established for information on the fires.
-Republican Chuck Malone qualified to run for a second six-year term as a circuit judge.
-University of Alabama head football coach Mike Shula announced that David Turner would join the Crimson Tide staff as a defensive ends coach. Turner had spent the last three years as recruiting coordinator and defensive line coach at Vanderbilt.
-The city of Tuscaloosa would use its power of eminent domain to take at least three pieces of property to build a federal courthouse downtown.
-Katherine Lee, who spent six years as a reporter, editor and columnist at The Tuscaloosa News before leaving to take a job at a Florida newspaper, returned to the Tuscaloosa News as city editor.
-Rep. Bryant Melton would seek a seventh term in District 70. Melton, Democrat, was the first black elected to the Alabama Legislature since Reconstruction.
-Tuscaloosa County Sheriff Ted Sexton, who was elected to a sixth consecutive term as a Democrat the previous November, announced that he was switching to the Republican Party.
-Dorothy Richardson was chosen interim superintendent by the Tuscaloosa City School System.
-A $3 million construction contract for a scaled-back version of the River Market received unanimous approval by the City Council.
-Former Northridge High School player Vinnie Sunseri signed to play linebacker for UA.
-Tuscaloosa dentist Dr. E.K. Wood retired after 57 years in dentistry.
-The County Commission approved repaving a walking track in Northport’s Civitan Park despite objections from Probate Judge and Commission Chairman Hardy McCollum, who indicated that he felt the paving should be the responsibility of the city of Northport.
-The Greensboro Opera House was undergoing extensive renovations and there were plans to eventually reopen it.
-Five people were to be inducted into the Tuscaloosa County Civic Hall of Fame: James B. Flemming, Shelley Jones, Charlie Oliver Sealey Sr., Nona Joyce Sellers and Frankie Taylor Thomas.
-Ex-Bama defensive back Charlie Peprah prepared for Super Bowl XLV with the Green Bay Packers. The Packers won that game 31-25 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
-With the upcoming vote to legalize Sunday alcohol sales in Tuscaloosa, some Northport city leaders and businesses were concerned that businesses in Northport would be hurt if voters approved the measure.
-Sports artist Rick Rush was the 2011 recipient of the United States Sports Academy’s America’s Sports Artist award.
-Church members at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church held a dedication for their new building after the church building was burned in 2009.
-The proposed Van de Graaff Arboretum and Nature Preserve was under development off Robert Cardinal Airport Road in Northport. The Tuscaloosa County Park and Recreation Authority signed a 99-year lease on the property.
-An estimated $5.2 million expansion of Mitt Lary Road was set to bid and construction was to start as soon as school ended for the year.
-The Bibb County basketball team battled to a 2-0 win over Brookwood, setting a record for the lowest-scoring game since 1977 when the Durham Hillside (N.C.) defeated Roxboro Person (N.C.) 2-0, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations.
-Demolition began on the outermost wings on the former Bryce Hospital. The building was being converted for UA campus use.
-Northport expected to get a new $10 million retail complex on the site of the former Kmart store on U.S. Highway 82.
-A New York publisher announced the publication of Harper Lee’s “Go Set a Watchman.”
-The Mercedes-Benz visitor center reopened to the public after extensive renovations.
-Central High School offensive lineman Lester Cotton signed with the Crimson Tide.
-The Community Foundation of West Alabama named its 2015 Pillars of West Alabama: Herbie “Chip” Burkes Jr., Bryan Ross Chandler, Elizabeth Cleino, Mary Jolley, the Rev. Willie Clyde Jones, Robert Kuhn, Everett Cameron “Buddy” Powell, and Mark Sullivan.
-Deaths this week included Herbert T. Boschung, an expert on fishes and professor emeritus of biology at the University of Alabama.
-Habitat for Humanity dedicated its 50th post-tornado home.

Compiled by retired News librarian Betty Slowe.
January 31st, 2016
Forkland man dies in car crash - A 25-year-old Forkland man died when his car left the road and hit a tree early Sunday morning, according to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.
Carl Fitzgerald Johnson was driving a 1979 Oldsmobile Cutlass at around 3:45 a.m. Sunday on U.S. Highway 43 in Marengo County. Johnson was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident, near the 107 mile marker about 15 miles south of Linden.
Troopers say a preliminary investigation indicates that alcohol could have been a contributing factor in the crash.
Troopers will continue to investigate the accident.
January 31st, 2016
Severe weather possible Tuesday - Forecasters say Alabama could be in for a round of severe weather this week.
The National Weather Service says northwestern Alabama faces an elevated risk of damaging winds and isolated twisters beginning Tuesday afternoon. Tuscaloosa's forecast shows a chance of thunderstorms developing Tuesday afternoon and evening with a 100 percent chance of rain.
Forecast models show a lesser threat of severe weather extending south and east across the state on Tuesday evening.
Weather service meteorologist Jim Stefkovich says forecast can change before Tuesday. But he says the question right now is how far the severe weather extends eastward across the state.
Weather service maps show the possibility of strong storms extending from northern Mississippi all the way north to southern Kentucky.
January 31st, 2016
Sharecropper's son who built billion-dollar enterprises returning to Tuscaloosa after 85 years - The story begins when John Barfield was sick as a boy in 1932 with a fever his parents feared would take his life.

In the black community of Kaulton Quarters in West Tuscaloosa, his family crowded at his bedside of their shotgun house on the hill, armed with tearful prayers and home remedies.

“My father said 'Johnny, no matter what we did. Your fever got worse,'” Barfield said.

On this particular day, the story goes, in an almost unheard of occurrence, two white women walked down the streets of the black section of Kaulton Quarters, up the steps to the Barfields' home, and came to the 5-year-old's bedside.

“They said to my mother and father, 'We would like to help you.'” Barfield said.

One of the women wrote a note and an address and gave it Barfield's father, a sharecropper who cut lumber for railroad ties to support his family. The women instructed him to go as fast as he could to the address and give the note to the man who resided there. The women left with as much mystery as they arrived.

“My father did not have a car, so he ran all the way to the white section of Tuscaloosa and he gave the letter to the man,” Barfield said.

The man, a doctor, came to the Barfield home and to the boy's bedside. He asked for strong black coffee for an all-night vigil. Barfield's fever broke in the morning. In a few days, Barfield was once again in the backyard playing with the other children as if he had never been sick.

Too sick to remember the strangers who came to his aid, Barfield asked his parents about the women.

“When I asked my father who were those women, He said 'Johnny I don't know,'” Barfield said. “'Nobody in Kaulton Quarters had ever seen them before and no one had ever seen them since. We just came to the conclusion they were angels God had sent to spare your life.' He always ended that story saying 'Johnny there must be work that God has for you to do.'”

Barfield calls it the first miracle of his life. With a delivery polished by countless recitals and time, Barfield shared the story a few times during his visit to the place of his birth for the first time in 85 years.

He came back to Tuscaloosa to speak at the Tuscaloosa Rotary Club on Tuesday as he raised money for a Rotary initiative to provide polio vaccinations in Africa with proceeds from a book about his career as an entrepreneur, “Starting From Scratch: The Humble Beginnings of a Two Billion-Dollar Enterprise.”

Barfield opened his comments to the Rotarians on Tuesday at the Indian Hills Country Club with jokes about his unlikely beginning as a high school dropout home from Europe after a stint in the Army who started as a custodian cleaning toilets. Barfield and his wife, Betty, went on to start nine companies in fields including commercial cleaning and maintenance, engineering and workforce management.

Barfield was the son of sharecroppers chasing a better life up North. His trips to different Rotary clubs to speak were organized in part to allow the 88-year-old to visit the places his family lived as it migrated north, according to Harvey Newcomb III, director of principal gifts for the Rotary Foundation.

During his trip to Alabama, Barfield visited Margaret, where his father worked as a coal miner before the threat of violence during an attempt to unionize the mine drove the family further north, where the family eventually settled in Michigan. On Monday, Barfield, his daughter and granddaughter and a close family friend toured Tuscaloosa in a stretch limo with the help of District 2 City Councilman Harrison Taylor, who guided the long car through the narrow and winding road of the old section of Kaulton Quarters in search of something familiar.

Brandon Marsh, the godson of Barfield's eldest daughter, grew up hearing the stories about the miracles in Alabama with the messages on the importance of faith and family.

“When you hear the story about Kaulton Quarters it paints a rural picture,” Marsh said.

The hill where the Barfield home sat is now an industrial site behind chain-link fences. As the car followed the perimeter of the site covered with sheet metal buildings and busy forklifts, Barfield recalled boyhood experiences in a vanished lumber mill town.

There was the time the mad dog ran through the streets of town, frothing at the mouth and crashing into houses. The taste of roasted potatoes and peanuts he ate on his grandparents' porch as he listened to family stories. Sleepovers at his grandparents' home and the sound of rain on a tin roof.

“I remember so many things, and, by inviting me back to Tuscaloosa, you have given me an opportunity to relive some of that. These are memories I will treasure for the rest of my life. Thank you for the opportunity,” he told the Rotary Club on Tuesday.

Earlier over a breakfast of pancakes, eggs and bacon at the Embassy Suites, Barfield said he still feels the presence of his angels and marvels at the string of miracles in his life.

“If you compare where I am today and where we started from and what we started with, you have got to say it was a miracle,” Barfield said. “We did not have anything. Where did I get this mind to do something that most of the people I grew up with didn't even think about?”

Most of his friends in Michigan graduated from high school and went on to work in factories, a typical career path for young black men. Barfield dropped out of high school to join the Army.

“I dropped out of school because it seemed, at that time, exciting to become a soldier. The other thing was I didn't see any opportunities for going to college, although there were -- but I didn't see them,” Barfield said.

He returned from postwar service Europe, married, and took a job in 1949 as a custodian at the University of Michigan. He made about $70 a week, or less than $4,000 a year.

“That was not enough money to support my growing family, and so I began to look for work to supplement my income,” Barfield said.

Barfield cleaned small homes being built on the outskirts of Ann Arbor, Michigan, work others didn't want to have to do.

“What they saw as a curse, I saw as an opportunity,” he said.

Barfield could clean two houses a day, making $35 per house.

“I found that I was making $70 in a day whereas I was making $70 a week working for the University of Michigan,” he said.

That discovery was the catalyst for his career as a businessman.

“For the first time in my life, I began to realize the value of my time and my talents,” he said. “I found out, by working for myself, I was worth seven times more than that. So discovering that my time was more valuable than they felt, it encouraged me to move farther.”

That epiphany about self-worth is a message Barfield tries to convey to the young people he meets.

“Don't be satisfied with what people are willing to give you. Work hard and earn as much as you can,” Barfield said. “This is yours. You decide what your value is worth. That is what I try to teach young people today.”

Barfield quit his job as a custodian at the university in 1954 to focus on his growing cleaning business, which expanded to include commercial and industrial buildings. He sold that successful business in 1968 to International Telephone and Telegraph.

“I was 39 years old. I worked for them for three years as a manager and left and started another business, which I sold also,” Barfield said. “From there on, I just began to build and sell businesses.”

Barfield's dream of owning his own business began earlier in a Pennsylvania coal town where his family lived between leaving Alabama and settling in Michigan. As a paperboy, Barfield met Robert Lutton, a businessman who made his living selling soap after losing much of his fortune to calamities that befell a rollercoaster he owned.

“I would always arrange to end my paper route at his store because I loved to talk with him,” Barfield said. “I had never seen anybody who had a job where they could wear a white shirt and tie to work and work in their own little shop.”

At the time, Barfield's father had always worked in the cotton fields or the coal mines. He recalled his father, a physically powerful man, walking home tired in the cold. Barfield's father would bathe in the kitchen in a basin of hot water prepared by his mother. Some evenings during dinner, Barfield's father would fall asleep, exhausted from his long workday.

Barfield started by sweeping Lutton's shop. But as an inquisitive boy, he soon learned to help package the powdered soap and help with inventory. He gave up his paper route to sell the repackaged soap door-to-door for 15 cents a box, earning a 5-cent commission.

“That was my introduction to entrepreneurship,” Barfield said. “I said from that experience someday by the grace of God, I am not going to be a coal miner, I am not going to work in the fields; I am going to be a businessman. I am going to wear a white shirt and a tie to my job every day like Mr. Lutton, and I am going to have a business of my own.”

Lutton's tutelage is among the providential encounters Barfield calls his miracles.

“I owe my success as an entrepreneur to Mr. Lutton more than anyone else,” he said.

On a rainy afternoon in the clubhouse at Indian Hills Country Club, Barfield told the Rotarians gathered to eat and hear him speak that entrepreneurship and creating opportunities for others was the work for which God spared him more than 80 years ago.

“I think the purpose God had for my life was to be as much a blessing to less fortunate people as I possible could, and I think that has been the secret of our success,” Barfield said.

January 31st, 2016
SCHOOL NEWS: Jan. 31 - Students of the month were:
January -- 6th grade Joslyn Collins and Ashton Zelhart; 7th Lexi Workman, Parker McDaniel; 8th Rachel Seale, Benjamin Smith.
December -- 6th Haleigh Williams, Xander Jones; 7th Audrey Ray, Robbie Meggs; 8th: Delaney Rice, Clark Fanning.
November -- 6th Abbey Noland, Nathan Holder; 7th, Morgan Podmore,Haseem Brown; 8th Rachel Alrarez, Zachary Atkison.
October -- 6th Olivia French, Raj Patel; 7th Chaynie Stubbs, Logan Pickell; 8th: Lindsy Smith, Blake Kamplain.
September -- 6th Emily Sandlin, Tobias Wise; 7th Tarrissa Newell, Darian Polke; 8th Sarah Mason Avery, Cole Sellers.
August -- 6th Angel Zhang, Jevonte Smith; 7th Alexa Wheat, JT Glasgow; 8th Madison Jones, LeJuan Jones.
Sarah Bailey Grammer, 8th grade, won the school's spelling bee, and Eli Holman, seventh grade was the runner-up.
Beauty Walk winners were:
8th grade -- Leah Dunaway, winner; Tannah Lee, first alternate; Madison Powell, second alternate; Madison Pugh, third alternate; Katelyn Bush, Miss Congeniality and Miss Photogenic.
7th grade -- Erika Allen, winner; Alason Smith, first alternate and Miss Photogenic; Anna Lake, second alternate; Larson Oswalt, third alternate and Miss Congeniality.
6th grade -- Maddie Wiggins, winner and Miss Photogenic; Carrington Simmons, first alternate; Kristen Blair, second alternate; Allie Kathryn Green, third alternate; Ally Skelton, Miss Congeniality.
January 30th, 2016
COLLEGE NEWS: Jan. 31 - Wesley Woodham of Northport has earned a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.
Members of The Citadel South Carolina Corps of Cadets earned top honors in the fall 2015 semester. Dean's List recognition is given to cadets registered for 12 or more semester hours and whose grade point average is 3.2 or higher with no grade below a C for the previous semester's work.
Cadet Gabriel Foster of Tuscaloosa made the Dean's List for the fall 2015 semester. To make the list, cadets must have at least 12 semester hour, at least a 3.2 grade point average and no grade below a C for the previous semester's work.
President’s and Deans’ Lists Fall Semester 2015 at Jacksonville State University included these area students.
Area students who made the President’s List in the fall semester with 4.0 grade point average are:
Birmingham: Joseph Brasher, Lisa Buchanon, Martinas Burns, Isaiah Hill, Jade' Ishman, Miranda Perrigin.
Fayette: William Burkhalter, Breon Moore.
Hoover: Joel Branham, Robert Spears.
Lake View: John Craft.
Tuscaloosa: Noryetta Hall, Katrice Richardson.
Vernon: Amber Pruitt.
Area students who made the Deans’ List withgrade point averages between 3.50 to 3.99 are:
Bessemer: Darius Jackson, Sarah White.
Birmingham: Mercedes Anderson, Michael Brooks, Jasmine Burns, Juanell Cox, Diamond Ford, Rodne Graham, Austin Harrison, Deion Holloman, Darius Hunter, Shaina Jackson, Elijah Jenkins, Caroline Kerr, Mary Lambert, Misty Lewis, Tekeria Mitchell, Chelsi Reynolds, Marvel Robinson, Ashley Rudolph, Bridget Scovil, James Shelborn, Khiry Smith, Morris Taunton, Jasmine Ward, Jessica Ward, Taneisha Woods.
Centreville: Nakeshia Rutledge.
Demopolis: Lillian Jones, Courtney Lawrence.
Homewood: Jeremy Watson.
Hoover: Nalo Bowman, Aaron Branham, Mallory Evans, Deric Grayson, Wyvolyn Kirkland, Sharniece Williams, Taylor Williamson.
Linden: Victoria Dickie.
Moundville: Emily Schulz.
Northport: Jonathan Fonbah.
Sweet Water: Alan Lewis.
Tuscaloosa: Stanlee Gardner, Destiny Jordan, Audrey Lawrence, Damarkus Lawson, Paige Smith.
Winfield: Maxwell Erb.
January 30th, 2016
Link Program attracts student nurses to hospitals - Becky Smith inserted a cotton swab into the mouth of SimMan 3G, a medical manikin, to practice a throat swab on Friday in the DCH Health System's Quest Center at the Lewis & Faye Manderson Cancer Center.
On Saturday night, the second-semester Shelton State Community College nursing student worked her first 12-hour shift in the emergency department, no longer practicing, but working hands-on with patients.
Smith is one of 27 nursing students from area colleges to be hired as a multi-skilled technician at DCH system hospitals as part of the first cohort of the Link Program, a DCH nursing innovative program that offers nursing students an opportunity to gain a year's experience as a registered nurse before graduation.
“I think it's just a way that DCH is going to give us good hands-on experience and expose us to things that we'll already be ready for when we come out of nursing school,” she said. “We won't be on a big learning curve when we get out. We'll already know the ABCs and ins and outs.”
Jutta Beams, assistant vice president of Patient Care Services at DCH Regional Medical Center, said the students will give direct patient care like giving baths, taking vital signs and measuring intake and output during their shifts.
She said her favorite thing about the program is that it will help students transition from nursing school to actual patient care.
“They will do a lot of hands-on care. They will actually get to do and see what they've learned in school,” Beams said. “It is much easier to understand what you're learning in school when applying it to a patient.”
Program participants can learn patient care hands-on for 24 hours once every two weekends for six months in two departments of their choosing: intensive care, medical/surgery, maternal child, psych, rehab, perioperative and procedural areas, and emergency.
At the end of the six months, the students must turn in their grades from school, and if they meet the requirements, they can continue working at DCH until they graduate by working in other departments. They can also earn up to $2,000 in increments toward tuition in addition to their hourly wage.
“It is open to anyone who is in a nursing program” and has completed their first semester of school, said Lori Royer, human resources director for DCH Health System.
Royer said the program was created in an effort to bring more registered nurses to DCH because many nurses of the baby boom generation are getting ready to retire.
“It helps us plan for our future,” she said. “We hope they stay with us to be an RN.”
The program is a win-win, Royer said.
DCH can attract more nurses, and the students can earn money, gain experience and can graduate nursing school with a one-year experience credit pay rate if hired by DCH.
Royer said the program also helps students learn about different areas of nursing and helps them narrow their career path because they will have the opportunity to work with various patient populations and clinical units.
In school, nursing students do clinicals at a nursing home, so they don't get the opportunity to discover other options, she said.
“I think the best part is being able to go to all the different units. Some have a hard time (choosing a unit) because you don't get to experience it in school. I get to witness what every different role in the hospital does,” said Emily Walters, a second-semester nursing student at Shelton who worked her first 12-hour shift in the maternal child department a week before Smith.
“I definitely feel like the students who get to do this are definitely set apart from the rest,” Walters said.
January 30th, 2016
Tuscaloosa legislators will hear city's wish list - Eliminating unfunded mandates from the state, ensuring the state's road department fulfills its financial commitments and granting zoning powers for areas around Lake Tuscaloosa are among the City Council's top priorities for the upcoming session of the Alabama Legislature.
The city's annual Legislative Breakfast, during which it urges the nine members who represent portions of Tuscaloosa to support or oppose specific items of legislation, is set for 7:30 a.m. Monday at the Tuscaloosa River Market on Jack Warner Parkway.
At the direction of the City Council, Mayor Walt Maddox is expected to stress the City Council's position on these matters, with the unfunded mandate elimination taking top priority.
Many of the unfunded mandates – the practice of requiring municipalities to offer services without providing the necessary funding – stem from the state's shortfalls in mental health funding.
Waiting lists for mental health services prevent many needing the help from getting it.
With nowhere to go,emergency responders often have to take those needing such help to either the DCH Regional Medical Center or the Tuscaloosa County Jail.
Maddox also is expected to stress the city's need for the Alabama Department of Transportation to deliver on its promise of matching funds for road construction projects tied to the Transforming Tuscaloosa County legislation that was approved last year.
That law, which takes effect June 1, combines the county's 2-cent sales tax, which is now shared among five local government entities and DCH Regional Medical Center, with a 1-cent temporary sales tax that is now dedicated primarily for school construction.
The 1-cent sales tax becomes permanent and the shared allocation of the combined 3-cent tax would be altered to include a seventh governmental body, the Tuscaloosa County Road Improvement Authority.
Included in the legislation that reallocated the county's sales tax structure was a list of projects – $200 million worth of infrastructure projects over 10 years – that will be funded through this new authority. Each of these projects originally was an ALDOT project, meaning a portion of the proceeds must come from state transportation funds.
Maddox also is expected to highlight the city's wish for extra territorial zoning powers around Lake Tuscaloosa.
Citing the entire county's reliance on the lake as a water source – about 94 percent of Tuscaloosa County gets its water from the lake – and its popularity as a recreational site, the City Council wants to be able to monitor and regulate all development within a 1,000-foot perimeter around lake.
Currently, the city's zoning powers only apply to areas within the actual city limit.
Other issues on the City Council's legislative agenda include:
- Support for limiting damages to $100,000 for any city employee who is sued for actions relating to the employee's work.
- Support for changes that would allow enterprise zones to be expanded in order to allow for tax incentives on qualified retail developments within federally declared disaster areas.
- Support for Tuscaloosa preference before the Alabama Housing Finance Authority's Qualified Allocation Plan as long as the Presidential Disaster Declaration remains in place.
- Support for legislation that would allow the enforcement of parking regulations within the city of Tuscaloosa as a civil violation.
- Support for legislation to create a hybrid alcohol license for restaurants that morph into bars after certain hours.
- Support for regulating the payday and title loan industries in order to protect consumers from excessive fees, high interest rates and predatory lending.
- Opposition to any legislation that would deprive local governments of their ability to establish the amounts of business license fees or sales tax amounts within their respective taxing jurisdictions.
- Opposition to drug sales exemptions from the gross receipt total that is used to determine business license fees.
- Opposition to limitations on business license fees derived from deliveries to a business inside the municipality.
- Support for legislation that would require sellers or landlords to disclose the occupancy limitations for which the property is zoned.
- Support for an amendment to minimum wage rates that would include a cost-of-living adjustment tied to the consumer price index.
- Opposition to any legislation that would deprive local governments of the ability to establish, collect and administer gasoline rates.
- Support for clarifications or amendments to rules or laws governing the issuance of intoxicating beverages for certain municipalities; the requirement of a warrant in-hand before an arrest; the permission of a city attorney or assistant city attorney to provide pro bono work at the direction of the Alabama State Bar; the definitions regarding endangering the welfare of a child and summons and complaints for ordinance violations.
Reach Jason Morton at jason.morton@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0200.
January 30th, 2016
Alabama can't handle South Carolina in road loss - COLUMBIA, S.C. | The University of Alabama basketball team faced every sort of road hostility you can face in the Southeastern Conference without actually playing in an octagonal cage.
In a contest that was part SEC and part UFC, South Carolina wore down the Crimson Tide with 40 minutes of attacking basketball, taking a 78-64 win that evened the season series between the two teams at one win each.
"That's the old wave style of basketball, two teams fighting tooth and nail, playing tough physical basketball," said South Carolina coach Frank Martin. "They're good, an NCAA team. I've coached in that tournament and I know what an NCAA team looks like. But we played to our identity today. That's who we are."
Alabama spent much of the evening playing from behind, enjoying only one brief one-point lead (20-19) in the first half. The Crimson Tide was within six points, 67-61, with 4:23 to play, thanks to a stretch where Retin Obasohan scored 14 straight Alabama points. But South Carolina's Michael Carrera responded with a 3-pointer and the Gamecocks pulled away from a foul-depleted Crimson Tide.
"It was a tough night for us," Alabama coach Avery Johnson said. "We were fighting uphill all game. They were the aggressor and they got what they wanted. We talked about rebounding and they got 20 offensive rebounds.
"It's going to be difficult if we aren't efficient offensively," Johnson added, noting that UA shot just 33 percent (20 of 60) from the floor. "They are a great defensive team, so give them credit. It was payback time for them, they wanted to defend their home court. Our guys didn't quit and I'm proud of them. We ended up at 1-1 against South Carolina which was probably unexpected."
Foul trouble impacted Alabama (11-9, 2-6 SEC) in two ways. The Gamecocks went to the foul line for 46 free throws, making it very difficult for Alabama to go on an extended run. It also forced Johnson to consistently shuffle his lineup and go to a relatively limited bench of just four scholarshipped reserves, especially with his interior players. Four Alabama players eventually fouled out of the game.
Obasohan, one of the four players lost to foul trouble, led all scorers with 23 points. Shannon Hale added 16 for UA, while Carrera had 20 points and 11 rebounds for South Carolina (19-2, 6-2 SEC)
Alabama will be on the road again Tuesday night, facing Mississippi State in Starkville.
Reach Cecil Hurt at cecil@tidesports.com or 205-722-0225.
January 30th, 2016
Buddhist priest and poet Norman Fischer coming to UA for three days of events - Buddhist priest and poet Norman Fischer returns to visit the University of Alabama Monday through Wednesday, leading meditation sessions and discussions on mindfulness, spirituality and Zen Buddhism. Fischer will also speak about his new book of essays, "Experience: Thinking, Writing, Language and Religion," published by the UA Press in December.
Fischer, who's been on Oprah Winfrey, held conferences with the Dalai Lama, and founded the international Everyday Zen Foundation in 2000, last visited campus in 2012 but was at the campus twice previously during the past two decades. As then, Fischer links to UA through fellow poet and Buddhist Hank Lazer.
Lazer, recipent of the 2015 Harper Lee Award for Alabama's Distinguished Writer of the Year, and a professor at UA for more than three decades, is teaching a class on Zen Buddhism and Radical Approaches to the Arts. After an introduction to the practice, the seminar investigates the work of experimental artists such as George Quasha, John Cage, Andy Goldsworthy, Linda Montano, Marina Abramovic, Steve Lacy, Kazuaki Tanahashi, Laynie Browne, Susan Schultz, and, thanks to last year's weeklong residency sponsored by Sonic Frontiers, Anthony Braxton.
Lazer's class will meet and study with Fischer, examine his writing, and explore alternative paths to writing poetry.
"(Fischer) is doing a bunch of different things" in this three-day visit, Lazer said, including leading meditation sessions and discussions on mindfulness, spirituality and Zen Buddhism. "There'll be three different morning meditations, and they're open to all, but you'll need to sign up, because the space we're holding them in is limited."
Fischer insisted on having a full schedule, meeting the UA Press staff, with Creative Campus, which Lazer helped found, and conducting an interfaith discussion at the Crossroads Community Center lounge. Lazer and Fischer will hold a joint poetry reading Monday evening.
The UA Press book "Experience" is Fischer's first collection of literary essays, working through the intersections of experimental writing, spirituality and meditation practices. He espouses an orientation toward art where "self-exploration is not the dominant theme, the writing is about what it means to be human and living in time," Lazer said.
In a 2012 interview with The Tuscaloosa News, Fischer said “Zen is about not being stuck on one's point of view. You look at the world and you have a tremendous amount of preconception that colors the way you're going to see the world. Information is always going to be filtered through your prejudices, your education, your culture, what you think you like and don't like.
“One of the values and virtues of Zen practice is the ability to put all that aside and let all that go. We don't really know what the world is; we know what our experience of the world is. Meditation is becoming more connected with that process.”
Students in Lazer's classes vary widely in their knowledge, prior to class, of Asian history and religion.
"I would say maybe a third, or maybe as many as half, have had some experience with meditation, or mindfulness, or yoga activity or martial arts, all of which have taught them to be aware of one's breathing," he said. "Others are simply curious: 'I've never done anything like this before.' And others probably see the course description and think it just looks weird, appealing and interesting."
Buddhism developed in India, China and Japan, but only began to migrate to America in the 1950s and '60s, where it develops its own flavors, Lazer said.
"I don't think anyone would argue American Zen practice is the same as Japanese zen practice. It depends on the soil, as it does when growing grapes, or cheese, or language," he said, laughing.
Born into a Jewish family in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, Fischer has been a Zen Buddhist priest for almost 30 years. He's published poetry since 1979, authoring 17 books of poetry, six books on Zen practice and religion, as well as articles and essays.
Signups for the meditation sessions can be found at www.signupgenius.com/go/10c094ba8ae2aa64-21zazen.
Fischer's schedule:
10–11 a.m.: Meditation, Ferguson Center quiet room
5–6:30 p.m.: Poetry reading with Hank Lazer, 205 Gorgas Library
9:30–11 a.m.: Meditation, Ferguson Center quiet room
1–3 p.m.: Interfaith discussion “Meditation, Mindfulness, Compassion and Commitment,” Third Floor (Crossroads Community Center), Ferguson Center
5-6:30 p.m.: “Are You Writing?” Meditation, Writing and Spirituality, 205 Gorgas Library
8:30–9 a.m.: Inclusive Campus Culture Breakfast, 3125 Ferguson Center
9:30–11 a.m.: Meditation, Ferguson Center quiet room
January 30th, 2016
LEND A HAND: Volunteers, canned goods needed to help hungry at Community Soup Bowl - Providing relief for Tuscaloosa's hungry has been one of the most rewarding jobs Laurice McCollum said she's has ever had. But the assistant director of the Community Soup Bowl also said it is work that would not be possible without the help of volunteers.

“I have to close the doors if I don't have volunteers, and occasionally that happens,” McCollum said. “We'll have the food all ready to go and no volunteers, and we have to close the doors.”

The Community Soup Bowl's doors have been open to residents in need of home-cooked, nutritious meals for more than 30 years. It serves lunch from 11a.m. to 12:50p.m. seven days a week, with the help of volunteers who help prepare, serve and clean. Funded primarily by the five downtown churches of Tuscaloosa that founded the nonprofit -- along with community groups, businesses, grants and individual donors -- the soup bowl now serves about 280 plates of food a day on average, a number that has been steadily increasing in recent years. The soup bowl served up more than 70,000 plates this past year alone, up from the 62,395 it dished out in 2014.

Executive director Amy Grinstead said the need for hunger relief in the area continues to grow. She said many of those who come in for meals are employed, and are simply struggling to make ends meet. She added that weekends are often busier for the soup bowl, as families tend to come in for meals when school is out.

“We're seeing more working poor, we're seeing more families," Grinstead said. "I'd say at least half of the people who come in here to eat have income of some kind.”

Each weekend also welcomes a different team of volunteers, coordinated and formed by the founding churches. They purchase, prepare and serve food, and clean. Last weekend, members of the First United Methodist Church Advent class started preparations at 8 a.m. before each lunch.

Lori Royer of the First United Methodist Church was in charge of the volunteer group for the weekend. She said that though planning for nearly 300 meals was difficult, it was necessary and fun work to do.

“It's about giving back,” Royer said. “If you don't have anything to eat, you can't really do anything else, so it's about helping people in this community.”

Jim Deford, who has worked with Cooking For Christ, a program run by the church that serves about 20,000 meals a year and helps at the soup bowl about twice a year, was one of the volunteers who stood outside in freezing temperatures to grill burgers for that day's meals.

“To serve the Lord is wonderful, and that's what we do, in our way – cooking,” Deford said. “I think [the soup bowl] is very important. If you walk in there, you'll know what I'm talking about.”End cut

Though volunteer work continues to drive the soup bowl's efforts, Grinstead said more help is always welcome. She said they could particularly use more help in the area of can drives.

“We're actually low for this time of year, very low,” Grinstead said. “I'm usually stocking things on the floor around this time because after February, donations are hard to come by, so I stockpile around the holidays. We just haven't had that many can drives.”

McCollum, who helps to coordinate volunteer group work on the weekends, said the soup bowl's doors are always open to those in the community who would like to work or donate.

“This is a one-stop shop for people who want to volunteer and help our in the community, and it's just a blessing,” McCollum said. “When a group comes in wanting to help, we always welcome them.”

January 30th, 2016
Bobby Miller, longtime county commissioner, dies Friday - Longtime Tuscaloosa County Commissioner Bobby Miller died Friday.
Miller was first elected to the commission in 1977. At that time, commissioners served at-large, but when the commission later was divided into districts, he became the representative for District 3, which includes the southern part of Tuscaloosa County.
Hardy McCollum, the commission chairman and county probate judge, said Friday evening that Miller will be remembered not only as an elected leader but a longtime community leader known for his tireless work with area nonprofits.
"He was a wonderful people person who always wanted to help others whether it was though Toys for Tots, the Salvation Army ... he was into a lot of causes."
McCollum said he knew Miller from when they sold The Tuscaloosa News on street corners as boys. Both men later worked for the newspaper. "He went from being a paperboy to working in the (newspaper's) mail room to composing room to being a photographer. We grew up together."
Both men were first elected to the commission in 1976 and took office the next year.
Miller announced in October 2015 that he planned to seek an 11th term this fall.
He told a Tuscaloosa News reporter then that he decided to run for the commission for the first time while sitting on a boxcar at the BFGoodrich tire plant during a 5:30 a.m. work break. That was in 1976 when he was 34 years old.
Miller said he shaved his beard and mustache, got a $450 loan from the bank to qualify for the election and to purchase 1,000 posters and 5,000 cards, and he began going door-to-door to campaign.
He won the election the at age 35.
“People say, ‘Bobby how have you managed to stay there this long?’ I haven’t forgotten where I came from, and I certainly haven’t forgotten the people who helped me get there,” Miller said last year. “I want to continue on because people don’t realize I was the youngest of 10 children from a sharecropper family. We had nothing, but we had a lot of love in our family. I always said that one day, I wanted to be in the position in Tuscaloosa County that I could go and help people in need and help people enjoy the good things in life.”
During his 39 years on the commission, Miller said he helped bring Mercedes-Benz to the county, worked to maintain and improve roads in his district and develop a bridge program that has reduced the wooden bridges in the county from 378 to fewer than 50 today.
“I think one of the greatest accomplishments was when we were able to start balancing the budget,” he said. “That would have to be one of the greatest accomplishments of all was when Miller said when he was elected, the county had $1.5 million in debt, but two or three years ago Tuscaloosa became the first county in Alabama to become debt free.
“I’ve always went on the theory that an old gentlemen that jumped off the train ...and was walking up Greensboro Avenue hunting the Salvation Army to get a free meal and a nice place to stay was just as important as the president of First National Bank,” Miller said. “You treat one different than the other, but at the same time, you treat them equally and do the best you can with what you have to give to them, and it will always come out in the long run if you’ve done the right thing.”
Under state law, Gov. Robert Bentley will appoint someone to complete Miller's term. That person will serve until a new commissioner is elected in the November general election.
Reach Patrick Rupinski at patrick.rupinski@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0213.
January 30th, 2016
Mike Hubbard says he has no intentions to leave post while facing trial - MONTGOMERY -- Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard begins another legislative session Tuesday at the helm of the chamber. He could head to trial as soon as eight weeks later on 23 felony ethics charges.
It is an uncomfortable reality that Republican House leaders, including Hubbard, do not like to discuss.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Hubbard said he never considered giving up the gavel, despite the Republican Party steering committee urging to do so. He said he promised GOP House members in a recent closed door caucus meeting that his pending trial won’t interfere with legislative business.
“I basically told them I’m not going to allow anything to become a distraction,” Hubbard said.
The Republican speaker is scheduled to face trial March 28. While the presiding judge indicated that it is possible that the trial could be delayed because of appeals of pretrial rulings, the trial date now falls in the middle of the 2016 legislative session.
Asked who would preside and manage daily session business in his absence, Hubbard replied, “I’m not going to give any hypotheticals. Obviously, thought about different scenarios, but I don’t want to talk about them ... because right now it is not an issue.”
Hubbard faces 23 felony ethics charges accusing him of using his position as speaker and his former post as Republican Party chairman to benefit his clients and businesses.
The party steering committee — in the most public rebuke of Hubbard since his indictment— earlier this month approved a resolution saying that Hubbard should suspend his leadership role, so the trial wont, “take away from the regular business of the legislature or its ability to achieve the policy objectives of the Republican Party in the primary and general elections of 2016.”
“First of all, they are way out of their lane. That’s not what the Republican Party is supposed to do. When I was chairman of the party, the job was to support the Republicans, not to tell us what to do,” Hubbard said.
Prosecutors had accused Hubbard of using his posts to solicit clients and business investments, lobby the governor’s office on behalf of his clients and to steer campaign printing business to one of his companies. Hubbard has maintained his innocence and that the transactions were legal.
Hubbard said in the interview that he never considered stepping down because that, “would be basically saying that I’ve done something wrong.”
Many legislators rallied around Hubbard after his 2014 indictment and shortly afterward they re-elected him as House speaker.
However, cracks in his support appeared as prosecutors dribbled out evidence -- including a massive dump of Hubbard’s emails.
Other individual lawmakers said they were concerned as Hubbard’s defense team took actions that were legally prudent but perhaps political brand damaging— such as challenging the constitutionality of the ethics law revamp that Republicans championed in 2010. Other divisions erupted last year over Hubbard’s support of some tax increases in the face of a general fund budget shortfall.
Rep. Phil Williams, R-Monrovia, announced in October that he would challenge Hubbard for the speakership.
However, House Majority Leader Micky Hammon said the speaker maintains widespread support from House Republicans. Critics have discussed making a motion to try to remove Hubbard as speaker, but it is unclear if anyone will try without an indication that it would prevail.
Republican Rep. Ed Henry said he thought the case was a distraction last year and said he wants to see how this year goes and if lawmakers maintain, “conservative principles.”
“If we stray away from that, then you will hear from me,” Henry said.
January 30th, 2016
Expect warmer weather this weekend - Warm weather is forecast to return for the weekend in West Alabama, followed by the possibility of severe weather early next week.
The National Weather Service forecast calls for mostly clear skies with a high near 67 degrees and lows near 46 today.
The weather is expected to remain warm on Sunday with a high near 69 and a low near 56.
The warm forecast continues on Monday with cloudy skies and a slight chance of showers and a high near 71 and a low near 62.
On Tuesday, the weather service forecasts a 70 percent chance of rain and the possibility of severe thunderstorms in the afternoon and evening.
January 30th, 2016
Teams, costumes welcome at the Krispy Kreme Challenge - Participants in the fourth annual Krispy Kreme Challenge can look forward to a few new ingredients in this year's competition.
Organizers are encouraging this year's participants to wear costumes, with a prize awarded at the end of the race to the runners with the best outfits. Also, teams of four to 12 people are encouraged to enter, especially teams in costume, with a prize awarded to the team with the best name, best costumes and top finishers.
The Krispy Kreme Challenge will begin at 10 a.m. Feb. 27 at Government Plaza in downtown Tuscaloosa. Proceeds from the race benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Alabama, a nonprofit organization that has been dedicated to mentoring young children since 1982.
The organization pairs children or "Littles" with mentors or "Bigs" to form a one-on-one relationship. Proceeds from the race will help the organization provide mentors for more than 50 children on their waiting list.
"Simply stated, the mentoring provided by Big Brothers Big Sisters improves the human condition for children in our community,” said Danielle McInerney, executive director/CEO Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Alabama. “It is a fact that the more someone cares about you, the more you care about yourself.”
Last year, more than 500 people took part in the Krispy Kreme Challenge.
Participants can run individually in the 2-mile course, with a doughnut-eating competition in between, all in one hour. However, no one is required to eat doughnuts to participate in the race.
To be eligible for cash prizes in the Challengers category, participants must finish 12 doughnuts at the midpoint of the race. The prizes are $400 for first place, $300 for second place, $100 for third place for top males and females in the Challengers category. Casual participants can eat as many doughnuts, or as few, as they would like.
McInerney said there will also be a children’s run.
“Their challenge is nine doughnut holes, not a dozen doughnuts,” McInerney said. “That will be sponsored by Nick’s Kids (the foundation co-founded by University of Alabama coach Nick Saban and his wife Terry).”
To register, go to www.tuscaloosakkc.com or send an email to tuscaloosakrispykremechallenge@gmail.com with any questions.
Registration is free for kids 6 and younger, $20 for 7- to 12-year-olds and $35 for those 13 years old and older. Team registration is $25 per person.
Limited spots will be available on the day of the event, but to ensure a spot, organizers recommend registering in advance.
January 30th, 2016
Big Al inspires students to write stories - Students from a Capitol School elementary class huddled together on the floor of UA's Paul W. Bryant Museum Friday morning. In unison, they shouted “Roll Tide” and then listened attentively as classmates went up one by one to read stories they wrote about UA’s mascot, Big Al.
Teacher Missy Richey said her class has been learning adjectives and that they modeled their stories after children’s writer Eric Carle’s popular book, “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” Instead of a brown bear, the children incorporated Big Al and described what they would see at an Alabama football game, like a “talented band member” and a “serious Coach Saban.” They accompanied their stories with their own illustrations.
“We used Eric Carle’s idea," Richey said. “And with the great 16th national championship at the University of Alabama, I put two and two together and thought, ‘Hey, let’s write a book, ‘Big Al, Big Al, What Do You See?’’”
Capitol School student Yemi McKnight, 8, was one of the first to read his story before his classmates, ranging in age from 7 to 9. He said he was excited to be at the museum and that he had learned a lot about using adjectives with his class in the last week while writing their stories.
“It took me about a week to write it,” McKnight said. “I had to come up with a lot of different things, and it was really fun.”
McKnight said his favorite part of his story was including his “wonderful grandfather” as a sight he would see at an Alabama football game. He remembered a game they went to together this past season.
“He brought me to a game, and it was in fall, and it was one of the first games we were having and it was surprisingly warm, so he was wearing shorts,” McKnight said, pointing at his illustration.
The students also scattered around the museum to look at the exhibits. Working in groups and armed with iPads, they took pictures to use in creating informative slideshows. Richey said that for the children to take in all the sights in the museum hands-on was the best way for them to learn.
“You don’t just go to a museum and just look – you do things,” she said. “So we’re learning by doing and then we’re carrying it over when we go back to school.”
Jan Scorlock, who works at the museum, said the children did a good job reading their stories in front of their classmates and cameras.
“To be able to read with a big group ... (looking) over your shoulder – that’s hard to do,” Scorlock said.
Richey said she was pleased with the field trip and with the work of her students. She said things like editing their stories were sometimes challenging for the children, but all were able to create their own books.
“We‘ve learned, as Bear Bryant would say, that hard work and determination work,” Richey said.
January 30th, 2016
Perry County to offer free TB screenings - The Perry County Health Department will offer free tuberculosis screenings on Mondays and Tuesdays from 9 a.m. until 2:45 p.m. starting Feb. 8.
Services are by appointment only and are offered at no charge.
Appointments can be made by calling the Perry County Health Department at 334-683-6153.
The Perry County Health Department is located at 1748 S. Washington St., Marion. All services are confidential.
Public health officials have stressed that preventing and treating tuberculosis will save lives. Since the screenings began on Jan. 11, more than 1,800 patients have been screened.
Of these, 100 tested positive for latent tuberculosis infection and one additional case of TB disease was identified.
This person is doing well and is not hospitalized, health department officials said.
Persons with the latent tuberculosis infection cannot spread the germ to other people. The positive skin or blood test came from being in close contact with a person who had the tuberculosis disease.
Without treatment, about 5 to 10 percent of persons with latent tuberculosis infection will develop the disease at some time in their lives, officials said.
Children, the elderly, immuno-suppressed persons and those with lung disease or diabetes who have been infected with the tuberculosis germ are at higher risk to develop the disease.
Symptoms of tuberculosis include a cough lasting more than two weeks, shortness of breath, fever, night sweats, weight loss and fatigue.
A person may be infected with the tuberculosis germ and have no symptoms. These patients can be treated pre-emptively before becoming ill.
January 30th, 2016
Church's new $1.8 million organ debuts January 31 - Jeff Binford’s hands moved across three keyboards as the notes of the hymn "Praise to the Lord Almighty" rang out from tin, lead and wooden pipes – some as small as the tip of a finger and some big enough in circumference that a body builder could stick his full arm in it and still have wiggle room.
“I feel like, for the first time since I’ve been in Tuscaloosa, I can express music the way I want to express with this organ better. I don’t feel limited in any way by the organ because it has so many beautiful sounds and unusual sounds,” said Binford, the organist at First Presbyterian Church since 2002. “When I was a child, Crayola crayons would come in boxes of eight. Later on, you could get boxes of 64. I feel like, on the old organ, I was using a box of eight colors, and now I feel like I’m painting with 64 colors.”
The installation of a new organ with 4,014 pipes that must each be tuned by hand at First Presbyterian Church was completed on Friday. The total cost of the organ and its installation was $1.8 million.
The church will debut the organ Sunday at 11 a.m., and dedication services will be held on Sunday, March 6, at 8:45 and 11 a.m.
Built by the Letourneau Organ Company of Quebec, Canada, the organ replaces a 1977 Casavant Freres that was removed from the sanctuary in January 2015.
The new organ’s 75 sets of pipes outshines the old organ’s 46 sets and is made up of some pipes from the old organ, some from a 1921 E.M. Skinner organ and new pipes from the company. Altogether, they make sounds like those that come from clarinets, oboes, trumpets, bassoons and more.
“(The former organ) was really a German 18th century organ, and that’s because that was popular in the U.S. then. That’s fine if you’re playing recitals, but accompanying a church service is different,” Binford said. “This organ is what people call an eclectic organ. It can play 18th century, 19th century, 20th. It’s a good organ for accompanying choirs and soloists. The sound of this organ is more orchestral.”
The pipes – ranging in length from less than an inch to 32 feet long – can play grand trumpet sounds like those sounded when a queen enters a room to deep sounds like a diesel’s jake brake to the softest baby’s lullaby.
Binford said it will be able to accompany any of the church's four singing choirs from children to adults, congregational singing, weddings, funerals, recitals and special events, whereas the old organ was better suited to recitals alone.
It will also draw world-class organists like Thomas Trotter, a concert organist from England, who will play on Friday, April 8, the oak organ embellished with emblems similar to the French fleur de lis and carved arches – the inspiration for which was taken from the chandeliers dangling from the arched beams of the church's Gothic-style sanctuary.
“It’s a piece of art,” Binford said.
Trotter will sign the wall of the organ on the inside where thousands of pipes are hidden behind the tall, shiny, silver-colored ones on the facing of the organ, he said. All who worked on the organ from the Letourneau Company – a company that has built organs for Queen Elizabeth II – signed the wall, too.
Jocelyn Berthiaume, a voicer with the company, signed his name.
Berthiaume said he is one of two company employees who heard the final product after the organ spent last year in the workshop in Canada. He spent Friday hand-tuning the organ at the church.
“It’s our satisfaction for us to hear it,” Berthiaume said.
January 30th, 2016
Third person charged in kidnapping - Police have charged a third person with the armed robbery and kidnapping of a man near the University Strip last week.
Bruce Bernard Steele, 24, was charged with first-degree robbery and first-degree kidnapping on Thursday.
The victim, 25, told police that Maria Garbriel Ostuni, 23, sent him a Facebook message asking to meet, according to court records. She picked him up behind the University Strip on Grace Street around 5 a.m., according to police.
She drove to the intersection of Caplewood and Reed Street, where two men got in the car, the court records state. Police believe that Steele punched the victim in the face and hit him with a gun before stealing his wallet.
The woman drove to Holt-Peterson Road in Holt and forced the victim from the vehicle, according to police. Otsuni and Stephen James Frank, 24, were arrested last week on the same charges. They are free on $120,000 bond.
Steele remained in the Tuscaloosa County Jail on Friday with bond set at $120,000.
January 29th, 2016
Bridal show to be held Sunday, Jan. 31 - The 13th annual "Seasons of Love" bridal show will be held from 1-4 p.m. Sunday at the Hotel Capstone, 320 Paul W. Bryant Drive.
The show will feature food, fashion and decor by local wedding professionals. Door prizes will also be awarded.
Tickets are $7 in advance and $10 at the door. For more information, call 205-343-1105.
January 29th, 2016
Ferguson photographer to speak at UA - A photographer whose book documents the 2014 protests in Ferguson, Mo., will be at the University of Alabama on Thursday.
Adrian O. Walker, author of book, “My Lens, Our Ferguson” will discuss his experiences during the unrest after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by police.
Selected photos from Walker's book will be featured in the Black on Film gallery, an exhibit that marks Black History Month. The monthlong exhibit will also feature archival photos from the Crimson White, the UA campus newspaper, dating back to Gov. George Wallace's "Stand in the Schoolhouse Door" in 1963. The exhibit will be on display at Ferguson Student Center Art Gallery through the end of February.
A reception for the Black on Film exhibit will be at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Ferguson Student Center. Walker's talk will begin at 5:30 p.m.
Developer settles fair housing lawsuit
An Alabama-based construction company is settling claims that it built housing complexes that violate the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Documents filed in U.S. District Court in Birmingham Friday say Gateway Construction Corporation, its owner and CEO Allan Rappuhn and affiliated companies are ordered to create a $300,000 settlement account and pay a $50,000 civil penalty.
Prosecutors have said Gateway used federal low-income housing tax credit incentives to build complexes that posed significant barriers to disabled people. The lawsuit listed 36 properties in Alabama, 25 in Georgia, nine in North Carolina and one in Tennessee.
Gateway officials said in a statement that they agreed to the settlement to avoid time and cost of litigation and the company denies all of the justice department’s allegations.
January 29th, 2016
Developer settles fair housing lawsuit - An Alabama-based construction company is settling claims that it built housing complexes that violate the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Documents filed in U.S. District Court in Birmingham Friday say Gateway Construction Corporation, its owner and CEO Allan Rappuhn and affiliated companies are ordered to create a $300,000 settlement account and pay a $50,000 civil penalty.
Prosecutors have said Gateway used federal low-income housing tax credit incentives to build complexes that posed significant barriers to disabled people. The lawsuit listed 36 properties in Alabama, 25 in Georgia, nine in North Carolina and one in Tennessee.
Gateway officials said in a statement that they agreed to the settlement to avoid time and cost of litigation and the company denies all of the justice department’s allegations.
January 29th, 2016
Decision to return for senior season could result in first-round pick for Reed - MOBILE | When Jarran Reed steps on the practice field this week while preparing for the Senior Bowl, he can look on either side of him and see some of the best players in the country. There are All-ACC, All-Big 12 and All-Big 10 players on the Senior Bowl's South team.
It's not unlike any day on the practice field at the University of Alabama, where Reed played alongside A'Shawn Robinson and Jonathan Allen on the defensive line. Reed earned recognition in his own right -- he was a second-team All-SEC choice by the AP this season -- but Robinson and Allen may have gotten more attention at times.
“It was a team effort. It was never about me,” he said. “It doesn't matter about getting sacks or anything as long as we were all out there doing our job. As long as we were all out there together winning games that's what it's about.”
Part of that seems to be true. Reed is among the top prospects at the Senior Bowl and could work his way into the first round.
But there are still questions about other parts of it. NFL teams do, in fact, question his work as a pass rusher. Alabama led the nation with 52 sacks this year, but Reed had only one. In two years as a starter, he had two sacks.
That's his primary focus as he works with the Jacksonville Jaguars' coaching staff. He helped himself by coming back for a year, but can help himself even more this week.
"We've had a significant number of guys that have been in that second or third round grades when they get their draft grades from the junior committee and also from information we gather from other NFL teams that are kind enough to give us information,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “We've had six or seven guys with those type of grades that have ended up with top-15 picks or first round picks and it made a huge difference with how they affected their draft status from their junior to senior year. The outcome of that is that it was a much better financial situation to them.”
Saban said Reed projected as a third or fourth round pick if he had left school after the 2014 season. If he ends up in the first round in April's draft, it'll be a major improvement for the former junior college signee.
Reed weighed in at 311 pounds on Tuesday morning in Mobile. That's a tick down from his listed weight of 313 at Alabama, but he wants to be closer to 305 for the draft.
Reed has been working with Traction Sports Performance in Baton Rouge to help prepare for the draft. A primary focus for him as he tries to improve his pass rush ability is working on his first step.
“I want to work on my get off,” Reed said. “Everything starts with the get off.”

Reach Ben Jones at ben@tidesports.com or 205-722-0196.
January 29th, 2016
Winning shot waved off in Alabama's loss to No. 10 Aggies - The outcome of Thursday night's women's basketball game between Alabama and No. 10 Texas A&M came down to the final seconds.
Crimson Tide sophomore Karyla Middlebrook drove to the basket, hit a layup and the clock stopped with 1.8 seconds left. The basket should have given Alabama a one-point lead, but the basket was waved off. The score remained in favor of the Aggies, 57-56, as an offensive foul was called on Middlebrook, and Foster Auditorium erupted in protest.
Amongst the chaos, a technical foul was also called on the Alabama bench and Aggie senior Courtney Walker nailed two free throws, finalizing a 59-56 win for Texas A&M.
“That's a tear-filled locker room I just left,” Alabama coach Kristy Curry said. “One that I have a lot of respect and love for and appreciation because I thought they played their hearts out tonight to the No. 10 team in the country.”
The first half of the game swung in favor of Texas A&M. The Aggies outrebounded Alabama, 23-12, and going into halftime, Alabama trailed 32-26.
By the end of the third quarter, Alabama never pulled ahead but it was faced with a tie game, 44-44, for the first time since the tipoff. During the third quarter alone, Alabama made 62 percent of its shots while Texas A&M made 25 percent.
“God, Alabama plays hard,” Texas A&M coach Gary Blair said. “You see why it is so hard to win.”
With less than three minutes left in the game, Alabama held a 56-50 lead. Sophomore Quanetria Bolton made 3 of 4 shots, which Curry said were gutsy and came at the right time.
Bolton led the night with 16 points, a season high for the forward, but she called her team gutsy rather than herself.
“I just felt like I owed that back to them to work my tail when I'm on the court,” Bolton said. “I try to give them everything I can when I'm on that court.”
Bolton also led her team in rebounding, finishing with five.
Also in double digits for Alabama, Middlebrook scored 15 points. The Crimson Tide made 23 of 52 shots from the field, shooting 44.2 percent. The Aggies made 22 of 57, shooting 38.6 percent.
“That's what life on the road is all about,” Blair said. “An ugly win is a beautiful win when I'm back on that airplane going back, drinking my Diet Coke and watching (a) movie."
Regardless of how the final seconds unfolded, Curry said she was proud Middlebrook took that shot. She said it spoke volumes to her player's guts and character.
“I can say this, I feel like this program is heading in the right direction and it's a tribute to the character in that locker room tonight,” Curry said.
January 29th, 2016
Proposal would allow carrying concealed pistols on college campuses - A bill pre-filed ahead of the start of the 2016 legislative session next week would amend the state constitution to allow concealed carry of pistols by permit holders on college campuses.
House Bill 12, sponsored by Rep. Mack Butler, R-Rainbow City, would allow colleges and universities to set rules about the storage of pistols in dorms and other residential facilities on campus and allow for “reasonable rules” limiting the concealed carry of pistols, but it would prohibit public institutions from establishing a general ban.
The bill focuses on handguns and concealed carry permit holders and does not allow for rifles nor open carry of firearms, Butler said. The legislation has been in the works for about a year.
The University of Alabama is still studying legislation for this year’s session and declined to comment on the bill, according to Deborah M. Lane, associate vice president for strategic communications. Generally, possession of firearms is forbidden on the UA campus with limited exceptions such as weapons carried by university police or other law enforcement officers.
The Alabama Community College System, which has 26 community college campuses statewide, has a similar policy in place banning firearms on campus.
“Our position for the system is until we are told otherwise, we will continue to abide by that policy,” community college spokeswoman Janet Kincherlow-Martin said.
Butler said gun-free zones like campuses that prohibit firearms have become targets during mass shootings.
“I just think public places are safer when we allow law-abiding conceal and carry for our citizens,” he said.
Butler expects a lengthy debate, including public hearings on the issue. But he believes the frequency of mass shootings nationwide during the past few years makes it a timely discussion.
“This bill I don’t think would have had any success in passing five years ago,” Butler said.
He also argued for the First Amendment rights of students and faculty on campus.
“They do not give up their rights just because they are furthering their education,” Butler said of students.
Though the bill includes language that addresses private colleges in the state, Butler said private schools, unlike their public counterparts, would be able to opt out totally, noting private property rights.
The bill’s language on what constitutes reasonable rules is intentionally broad to allow universities to have a say in the regulation of handguns on campus.
“The way I left the bill, the college can impose certain limitations,” Butler said.
Butler said universities, as an example, could limit concealed carry at football games or other sporting events.
“That would be a perfect example of a good exception,” Butler said, noting the armed police officers at Bryant-Denny Stadium during home games. “Basically, you are protecting me in that stadium.”
Butler is not opposed to conditional permitting of firearms on campus, noting an existing waiver program at Athens State that allows concealed carry permit holders to keep a firearm on campus in their vehicle.
“Something a little different to get into their conform zone … ,” Butler said.
The lawmaker also suggested the possibility of a qualifying course taught on campus.
Colleges would still be required under provisions of a 2013 law passed by the Legislature to identify areas where guns are prohibited with notices at the public entrance of buildings.
The bill would provide immunity for the colleges and their employees from damages arising from action or inaction under the proposal unless the action or inaction was capricious. The bill states the liability in a claim for personal injury or property damage rests with the person who possesses the pistol.
The bill would also require public institutions to provide a report each even-numbered year to the speaker of the House and Senate president pro tempore about the rules and the rationale justifying them.
As a constitutional amendment, the bill would require approval of a supermajority in the Legislature and voters statewide in a referendum.
“It’s a constitution amendment. We are going to allow every Alabamian that is registered here to vote to weigh in on it,” Butler said.
The constitutional amendment is key to the legislation, Butler said, noting the state constitution gives authority for the management and control of Auburn University and UA to their respective boards of trustees. That sovereignty has been the basis of past arguments by the universities against legislative efforts to set tuition rates, change board policies and other changes.
January 29th, 2016
University of Alabama diversity center to open next week - The University of Alabama announced Thursday that it will open a new Intercultural Diversity Center next week.
“The Intercultural Diversity Center was envisioned by students to increase cultural awareness and provide resources for increasing inclusion and collaboration on the UA campus,” said David L. Grady, UA vice president for student affairs, in a news release. “It will be available to students, faculty and staff.
“The center will also collaborate with other departments and organizations on campus to provide programming to create a supportive and empowering atmosphere for all members of the UA community,” he said.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new center, located on the first floor of the Riverside Community Center, will be at 6 p.m. Monday.
The news release says that student leaders who have been instrumental in the creation and opening of the Intercultural Diversity Center will host the event.
A diversity center was one of a list of demands made be We Are Done, a group of students who advocated for changes they believe will make the UA campus more diverse, inclusive and equitable. The group staged a march across the Quad in November to bring attention to their cause.
The center will be open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays with after-hours and Sundays available by appointment.
January 29th, 2016
Closing deadly intersection in Coker proposed - State traffic engineers are considering permanently closing an intersection of U.S. Highway 82 in Coker where at least six people have died in traffic accidents since 2011.
Alabama Department of Transportation officials studied a two-mile section of U.S. Highway 82 after an accident in October claimed the life of Coker resident Jared Thomas Gresham, 18.
Gresham was crossing U.S. Highway 82 from Falls Creek Cutoff to Sam Sutton Road when his SUV was struck by a westbound dump truck hauling asphalt.
Engineers proposed short-term solutions that they believe would improve safety on that corridor at a public meeting at Northport City Hall Thursday night.
They suggested permanently closing the intersection of Sam Sutton Road and Highway 82 and closing a crossover lane between the east- and west-bound lanes near Big Creek Cemetery. They proposed improvements to the Upper Columbus Road intersection with Highway 82 by removing trees to improve sight distance. Other suggestions including realigning a curve of Boswell Road near a Shell Station and adding a left turn lane for people traveling to Boswell from the east.
"Sometimes you can do little things that make a great big difference and don't cost a lot," said David Kemp, pre-construction engineer for the Alabama Department of Transportation's West Central Division.
Engineers are also considering longer-term, more costly solutions, such as improving sight distance around an existing hill near a Dollar General store and constructing more turn lanes.
Kemp stressed that the plans are not set in stone, and asked residents to submit forms with their suggestions about how to improve the corridor.
Many of the residents who attended weren't in favor of closing the intersection, saying that reducing the 65 miles per hour speed limit, adding a traffic light or caution signs would be more effective.
"They have it in Northport, they have it in Reform, they have it in Gordo, why not in Coker?" said resident Phillip Jacobs. "Most people are running 80 miles per hour out there, drop it to 55 and they'll run 65. Closing the intersection is not going to solve the problem."
Karen and Thomas Gresham, whose son died in October, said that action should have been taken years ago to improve safety.
"That is a thoroughfare to two schools for numerous communities," Karen Gresham said. "Why would they have that stretch of 82 as a 65-mile-per-hour zone? That makes no sense. That would be the first and the quickest thing to do."
The Greshams agreed that caution lights and other measures could improve safety, but that reducing the speed should be ALDOT's first step.
"It's always going to be painful for us no matter what we do, no matter what happens," Tom Gresham said. "Nothing is bringing our son back."
ALDOT studied the intersection in 2012, after three young men were killed there in December 2011 and two people were killed in July 2011. No changes were made after the findings were reported. The Tuscaloosa County Engineering Department did add rumble strips to Sam Sutton Road, to alert drivers to the nearby stop sign.
ALDOT region engineer James Brown said he was pleased with the turnout and the public input, and asked that anyone with suggestions contact the department within 10 days.
To send comments, include your name, address and telephone number. State whether you are in favor, against or undecided about the proposals and include any comments.
Comments can be sent to James Brown, Region Engineer, ATTN: Brad Darden, Alabama Department of Transportation, P.O. Box 70070, Tuscaloosa, Al, 35407.
Comments also can be hand delivered to the ALDOT office at 2715 Skyland Blvd. E., emailed to dardens@dot.state.al.us or faxed to 205-556-0900.
January 29th, 2016
Sabans' foundation to build Habitat for Humanity home - Nick's Kids Foundation on Thursday announced plans to build a 16th home as a part of the 16 for 16 Project with Habitat for Humanity of Tuscaloosa.
The nonprofit founded by University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban and his wife, Terry, committed to building 13 homes to mark UA's 13 national football titles after the April 27, 2011, tornadoes. The project expanded to 15 for 15 after the Tide won national championships in 2011 and 2012. After Alabama beat Clemson on Jan. 11 to capture the program's 16th national title, plans were made to build a 16th home.
Groundbreaking on the house will begin immediately. The new homeowners will be the family of Anthony Taylor, who works as a bus driver at UA and is studying at Stillman College to become a minister. His family includes wife Angel, and children Zion, 12, and Zaria, 11.
January 29th, 2016
Abernant to hold VFD meeting - Abernant residents are asked to attend a community meeting Saturday to discuss the possibility of re-establishing a volunteer fire department.
The department ceased operations in 2013 due to a lack of qualified firefighters and financial support from residents.
The meeting will be held at Lakeview Elementary School at 2 p.m. Saturday. Participants are expected to discuss electing members to the seven-member fire district board.
January 29th, 2016
T.J. Maxx to hold job interviews - Job interviews for the new location of T.J. Maxx are set for Monday and Tuesday at the Tuscaloosa Career Center.
The interviews will last from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day at 202 Skyland Drive.
Currently, T.J. Maxx remains open at McFarland Mall, but store officials said it will close there by Feb. 28 and re-open in the McFarland Plaza shopping center, next to Toys”R”Us, with a grand opening planned for March 3.
January 29th, 2016
Saturday workout honors fallen airman Mark Forester - Innovative Fitness, 6551 Alabama Highway 69 S, will host an open hero workout of the day called JAG28 on Saturday in honor of Mark Forester, a fallen U.S. Air Force combat controller and senior airman.
Forester, from Haleyville, was killed in Afghanistan on Sept. 29, 2010, while attempting to save a fallen comrade. Forester lived in Tuscaloosa for several years and attended the University of Alabama.
Doors open at 8:30 a.m. for sign in and late registration. His brother, Thad Forester, will speak about his brother's life and sacrifice, and the workout will follow.
The cost is $25, and all proceeds go to the Mark Forester Foundation, which provides a college scholarship to at least one Haleyville High School student every year and donates funds to other organizations like the UA Campus Veterans Association, Helping a Hero, Love Your Veterans and more.
January 29th, 2016
'Right for Alabama' agenda unveiled; teacher raise, job tax credit among priorities - MONTGOMERY — Republicans in the Alabama House on Thursday said a small business tax credit and a teacher pay raise are among their top priorities for the legislative session that begins Tuesday.
House Speaker Mike Hubbard and GOP leaders announced the agenda titled, “Right for Alabama.” Hubbard said legislators aren’t specifying an amount for the teacher pay raise this early in the budget process.
Bills on the agenda would give a $1,500 tax credit to small businesses for each new job created; develop a process to provide grants for school wireless technology and create a position of taxpayer advocate at the Alabama Department of Revenue.
“It is a broad-based agenda that demands fiscal accountability from state government through zero-based budgeting, creates jobs through small business tax credits, and brings 21st century technology into every public school classroom,” Rep. Donnie Chesteen, R-Geneva.
Some of the agenda items include previously stated GOP goals such as public pension reform.
A tough general fund budget — which includes the likelihood of funding cuts for many non-education state agencies — is expected to dominate the upcoming session.
Lawmakers spent much of last year in a fight over a shortfall in the general fund budget. After two special sessions, they ultimately approved a 25-cent-per pack cigarette tax and other measures to minimize cuts to state agencies.
The agenda doesn’t seek any new revenue. It does endorse a “zero-based” budgeting process to ask agencies to justify dollars they have already received.
“That is a sea change from how we have operated in the past,” Hubbard said.
House Republicans announce an agenda at the start of every session.
The agenda is approved unanimously by the 70-member Republican caucus. Republicans are expected to be divided on several of the contentious proposals to come before lawmakers this year, including an effort to establish a state lottery and a possible gas tax increase to fund road and bridge construction.
Some agenda items are largely symbolic shows of disapproval of federal policies that state lawmakers have limited ability to impact, including opposition to the president’s executive actions on gun control and any effort to relocate Syrian refugees to Alabama.
House Minority Leader Craig Ford said the agenda lacked substance and was “unconstitutional nonsense challenging the federal government.”
“This agenda is very vanilla. It’s big on talk and short on substance. There’s just no meat on that bone,” Ford said.
January 29th, 2016
Hints arise of new businesses; several companies looking at Tuscaloosa - In 2015, Mercedes-Benz announced plans for a $1.3 billion expansion at its auto plant in Vance. So what’s in store for 2016?
Some hints on what could happen came Thursday at the Tuscaloosa County Industrial Development Authority’s board meeting.
Dara Longgrear, the authority’s executive director, said discussions continue with a company interested in building a plastics molding plant. That project was mentioned last year, and Longgrear said the process is ongoing. The company was not identified, but he said if it comes to Tuscaloosa County, the facility would likely have 100-150 employees.
Since the first of the year, the county also has received visits from representatives of an aviation company and an aerospace company. Neither was identified by name.
“Aerospace and aviation will be targeted industries for us this year,” Longgrear said. “I expect there will be more visits this year.”
In a progress report, he said Bolta, a German automotive parts manufacturer that announced plans to come to Tuscaloosa in 2014, is ramping up, and another automotive parts supplier, SMP has not yet broken ground but is expected to do so soon. SMP is part of Samvardhana Motherson Group of India.
“Between these two companies, they will need around 1,000 people (employees) in three years,” Longgrear said.
The automotive industry is the largest industry in the county. That point was not lost on Longgrear who noted that new auto sales in North America last year were near 18 million vehicles. He said many analysts believe auto sales will plateau or could go down this year, but at the same time, sport utility vehicle sales are going up.
Mercedes-Benz and the state’s other automotive plans are major producers of SUVs.
This year, the authority will continue to focus Western European manufacturers that might be considering building a plant in the U.S., he said.
In other action, the TCIDA board terminated the abatement incentive agreement it had with Metalsa Tuscaloosa. The company, which makes automotive components, asked for the termination after it decided not to invest in new equipment.
Reach Patrick Rupinski at patrick.rupinski@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0213.
January 29th, 2016
Tuscaloosa Ctiy Schools cancels meetings - Officials with Tuscaloosa City Schools have canceled Thursday night public meetings that were scheduled to discuss the system's integrated plan.
A news release from the system states: "Due to a tragedy impacting one of our school communities, the Tuscaloosa City Schools will cancel all three community meetings tonight out of respect for those involved including students, families and staff. A new meeting date will be announced in the coming days as we work to support this school community during this time."
The meetings were to be held at the system's three high schools: Central, Northridge and Paul W. Bryant.
January 28th, 2016
Fatal accident reported on Rice Mine Loop - A fatal traffic accident Thursday morning has led to the closure of Rice Mine Loop NE udner the Woolsey Finnell Bridge, according to the Tuscaloosa Police Department.
Three vehicles were involved in the crash and TPD's traffic division has closed the area around the wreck until the scene is clear,
January 28th, 2016
Bloodhound finishes in Top 10 in half-marathon - ATHENS — The top female finisher at the Trackless Train Trek half-marathon in Elkmont was the smallest, lightest runner in the entire race, but she did have one major advantage.
She has four legs.
Ludivine, a 2-year-old bloodhound, ran the entire 13.1-mile race, unofficially finishing seventh overall with a time of 1 hour, 32 minutes and 56 seconds. What’s makes Ludivine’s story more amazing is her owner never knew she was missing.
“We let her out that morning and we live about a quarter of a mile from the start. She will run off sometimes when we let her out,” said Ludivine’s owner, April Hamlin. “I did not know about it until it was over. I let her out that morning and got a text from a co-worker that Ludivine had finished the race.”
Named a French character from the 2006 movie, “A Good Year,” Ludivine ran the race off-leash, happily galloping along with the other 176 runners.
“She doesn’t jog with me or anything,” Hamlin said. “We let her out for a few minutes and the next thing I know, I got a text saying, ‘You have to come down here. Everybody is going crazy over her.’”
Although it Ludivine’s first race to run from start to finish, the 75-pound bloodhound is well-known among the running community in Elkmont. Hamlin said she frequently joins runners on a trail near their home in Elkmont and the family will have to pick up Ludivine somewhere down the trail.
“She will often run with people on that Rails to Trails course,” said Hamlin. “She is actually very lazy and clumsy. She can run a marathon, but can’t jump into our van. She is a laid-back dog.”
Ludivine comes from a somewhat famous lineage of dogs in Limestone County. She was born and bred at Limestone Correctional Facility and her father, Otis, is one of the county’s top scent dogs. When Otis and another bloodhound had a litter of puppies, Hamlin jumped at the opportunity to get one of the dogs the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office wasn’t going to enlist as a service dog.
Ludivine isn’t the first dog to accidentally run in a road race, but she is certainly the most famous in Elkmont. A few minutes into the half marathon, word spread about the canine participant.
“We hired the photographer to take pictures of the runners, but the dog just happened to be in the race, so it was in all the pictures,” said race organizer, Gretta Armstrong. “You can see the dog in photos at the starting line and again around the 10-mile mark.”
Greg Gelmis was hired to take photos at the race, which raises money for the Elkmont cross-country team. With Gretta’s son Jake at his side, they were able to document Ludivine’s participation.
“She is a good dog, but she is still a tracking hound, so if she gets a scent, she will run for miles,” Hamlin said. “I just happened to open my door and let the dog out. Everyone at the race did everything else.”
January 28th, 2016
2 men charged with meth possession during warrant execution in Decatur - DECATUR, Ala. (AP) — Authorities say two Alabama men have been charged with possession of methamphetamine during a warrant execution.
Decatur Police Department Sgt. Jason Hyder told the Decatur Daily (http://bit.ly/20taVQY ) that 21-year-old Richard Dalton Logan and 43-year-old Christopher Landon Eagle are charged with possession of a controlled substance and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.
Hyder says two officers entered a residence to serve the failure-to-appear warrant Monday on Logan and found both men in possession of meth.
Police say Logan is also charged with failure to appear on a previous misdemeanor charge. Engle has also been charged with misdemeanor tampering with physical evidence.
Engle is being held at the Morgan County Jail with a $3,500 bond. Logan is being held without bond.
It’s not clear whether both men have an attorney.
January 28th, 2016
Former prison worker charged with trying to smuggle in contraband - CLAYTON, Ala. (AP) — Police have arrested a former state Department of Corrections employee and charged her with attempting to smuggle synthetic marijuana into the Ventress Correctional Facility in Barbour County.
Department of Corrections spokesman Bob Horton tells the Dothan Eagle (http://bit.ly/1no9bdl) corrections investigators recently arrested 61-year-old Sandra Johnson Cooper and charged her with felony trafficking marijuana and felony promoting prison contraband.
Court records show the charges stemmed from Cooper entering the correctional facility on Friday and found to be in possession of two cell phones, 10 chargers and two bags of a substance believed to be synthetic marijuana.
Horton says officers believe Cooper was being paid to smuggle the items.
Cooper worked for the Department of Corrections as a kitchen steward for nearly 20 years.
January 28th, 2016
War Eagle Supper Club razed after nearly 8 decades - AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Auburn’s iconic War Eagle Supper Club, housed in a building that stood for nearly 80 years, was reduced to rubble Tuesday to make way for a future mixed-use development.
The Opelika-Auburn News reports (bit.ly/23sULK3) that Auburn alumnus Bill Miller, owner of W.T. Miller Demolition and Construction Services in Columbus, Georgia, and his wife, April, supervised the work of bringing down the longtime night spot and former pizzeria.
The Supper Club, where generations of Auburn students went for live music and late-night entertainment, closed at the end of New Year’s Eve.
The building was built in 1937 and operated as a brothel after World War II, former owner Hank Gilmer said. The building housed Stoker’s Steakhouse in the 1950s, and later became a pizza joint under the ownership of H.H. Lambert.
January 28th, 2016
Meeting to address U.S. Highway 82 improvements - The Alabama Department of Transportation will hold a public meeting tonight to discuss planned improvements to a two-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 82 in Coker.
The section of road includes the intersection of Sam Sutton Road, where several fatal accidents have occurred in recent years.
The most recent accident claimed the life of Jared Thomas Gresham, 18, who died when his SUV was struck by a dump truck as he pulled on to Highway 82.
ALDOT officials have plans to close two crossovers and improve access at two crossovers in the two-mile stretch. There will be a short presentation and an opportunity for the public to ask questions at the meeting, scheduled for 6-7:30 p.m. at Northport City Hall, 3500 McFarland Blvd.
January 28th, 2016
Columnist Cal Thomas to speak at West Alabama Leadership Prayer Breakfast - Syndicated columnist Cal Thomas will be the keynote speaker at the West Alabama Leadership Prayer Breakfast, which will be held April 12 at the Bryant Conference Center, 240 Paul W. Bryant Drive.
Thomas' column appears in hundreds of newspapers, including The Tuscaloosa News, and he is a regular contributor on the Fox News network. His latest book, "What Works: Common Sense Solutions for a Stronger America," was published in 2014 on the 30th anniversary of his syndicated column's debut.
Doors will open at 6:30 a.m., with the program starting at 7:15 a.m. A breakfast buffet will be available.
Table sponsorships are available for $250, which includes reserved seats for 10 people. Individual tickets cost $25. Tickets can be purchased by mailing a check to West Alabama Leadership Prayer Breakfast, P.O. Box 2117, Tuscaloosa, AL, 35403 or going online at www.westalabamaprayerbreakfast.org.
January 28th, 2016
Parents can learn about strategic plan at city high schools Thursday night - Meetings tonight at the three high schools in the Tuscaloosa City Schools system will allow parents to learn more about the Integrated Curriculum Facilities Demographics Strategic Plan.
The plan for the system’s growth focuses on curriculum, investment in staff and construction. It will be implemented at the start of the 2016-17 school year.
All three meetings will be from 6 to 7 p.m. at each of the city’s three high schools: Central High at 905 15th St.; Northridge High at 2901 Northridge Road.; and Paul W. Bryant High at 6315 Mary Harmon Bryant Drive.
January 28th, 2016
Events aim to assist laid-off workers in mine and steel industries - Recent layoffs of large numbers of mine and steel workers in the West Alabama region have spurred action in the community with two events scheduled to help them gain employment.
West Alabama Works, the Alabama Department of Labor and the Alabama Career Center System have scheduled a job readiness workshop on Feb. 2 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and a job fair on Feb. 9 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Both events will be held at the G.G. Hardin Center in Brookwood.
These events are targeted at assisting the 265 miners Jim Walter Resources laid off in November last year and other miners, the132 workers the automotive supplier, Faurecia, laid off in October last year and workers laid off from PCP and their families. But they will not turn away people who aren’t part of these groups, said Allison McCants, Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama workforce development project manager.
“There are many in our community who have been impacted by layoffs in the past months, and we want to do everything we can to support and help their families,” said executive director of West Alabama Works and COO of the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama, Donny Jones. “Our focus for the event is to help those impacted by the recent layoffs and those family members who now need to enter the workforce.”
The events include a workshop that will teach resume preparation, interview skills and how to dress for success and a job fair with about 40 companies or institutions offering an estimated 800 employment or education and training opportunities.
"It is our hope that those who have been impacted by the recent layoffs in the steel and mining industries will come out and see what opportunities are available to them,” Fitzgerald Washington, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Labor, said in a press release from the Chamber. “Many of these workers have valuable skills that will transfer to other careers, and our staff is ready to assist them in any way possible."
Employment opportunities for laid-off workers and their spouses and other family members include healthcare, warehouse, production, industrial, administrative, hospitality, food service, pipe welders, plumbing and many more.
Employers include the DCH Health System, Alabama Power, Mercedes-Benz, BF Goodrick, McAbee Construction, Bama Dining and many more.
McCants said more than 1,000 positions will become available in the automotive industry in 2017, and opportunities to begin training for these positions will be presented at the job fair.
Jones said any business that needs employees and would like to participate in the job fair or anyone who would like more information about these events can contact West Alabama Works at the Chamber at 205-391-0331.
“Yes, unfortunate things happen like the layoffs in the mining and steel industries, but with our growing economy in the region there is hope for new careers and a bright future for those who need it,” Jones said.
January 28th, 2016
Longtime University of Alabama professor who influenced local arts scene dies - John Ross, longtime theater professor, designer and director, and a "godfather of the arts" in Tuscaloosa, died Wednesday at DCH Regional Medical Center. He was 76.
Ross helped found the Arts and Humanities Council of Tuscaloosa and the Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham, and served as a driving force behind the evolution of Tuscaloosa Community Players and SummerShow into what is now Theatre Tuscaloosa, all while serving the University of Alabama faculty from 1965 to 1996. Theatre Tuscaloosa Artistic Director Emeritus Paul K. Looney, once Ross' student, later a friend and colleague, said he'll be remembered not just for theatrical knowledge and abilities, but for a raconteur's wit, and endless fascination with all facets of life.
"He had a childlike curiosity about anything he was involved with," Looney said. "It was infectious. It sort of taught us all that that's the way it should be."
Born in New York, Ross grew up in Birmingham, and earned his bachelor's from UA, and a master of fine arts degree from the Yale University School of Drama. He worked professionally in New York, California and New England, but returned to his alma mater in 1965. He'd designed a show off-Broadway, but neither he nor wife Patricia, for many years a leading lady in performances around Tuscaloosa, liked the pace and pressure.
"I have friends who went into commercial theater, and they keep asking me why I stay in Alabama with a college theater," Ross said in a 1970 story published in The Tuscaloosa News. "I tell them I've done 25 plays in the last five years, and then ask them how many they've done. They'll say, maybe, two. I made a very deliberate, selfish decision to return to the university to teach."
Serving as president, and later board chairman of the Arts Council, Ross was among those helping resurrect the Bama Theatre, a movie palace that had by the '70s fallen into disrepair.
"That came from his love of historic theaters," said Edmond Williams, another former Ross student who became a colleague, chairing the UA theater and dance department from the '70s until retirement in 2013.
"He cared about all sorts of things that a lot of people don't: Proportion, line, getting it right; not just getting something, but getting it right," Williams said. "That was a signature of his. He was able to look at, let's say, a historic period and find the things that were distinctive in it, and put it into his designs. ... He would achieve absolute clarity in terms of detail."
The irony behind that particular focus was that his design could almost go unnoticed, becoming a seamless part of a show.
"If it's not right, it's calling attention to itself," Williams said. "His work was just right."
Williams also remembered Ross' way with a story. "He was compulsively articulate, finding the wrinkle that made it interesting. That wit made him great to be around, a fabulous teacher, a bon vivant in so many ways.
"So many times I'd call him in the middle of the night, because I knew he'd be up, and because I knew it was something only he and I would care about," Williams said, laughing.
Ross had suffered health scares before, but on this most recent visit to DCH, doctors gave him bad news. Ross could not speak audibly, due to shortness of breath.
"When you get John Ross to the point he can't talk, he's no longer John Ross," Williams said. Instead, Ross wrote notes. He wanted to prepare his old friend, so when Williams visited earlier this week, Ross wrote a note: "May not make it this time."
"He was just a great guy. There are tons and tons of John Ross stories. Sometimes they were stories he told, and would embroider, and you'd have to say, 'Wait a minute John, that didn't really happen that way,' " Williams said, laughing.
"He was a true artist, a great teacher, and grand, unique human being. It's hard to imagine the world without him."
January 28th, 2016
Uber, Tuscaloosa are near agreement - Tuscaloosa city officials said a final agreement with ride-sharing company Uber is nearing completion.
Attorneys for both sides have gone back-and-forth over a proposed overhaul of the city’s vehicle-for-hire rules, which would relax some rules for existing cab companies while ensuring technology-based transportation companies operate under some form of regulation.
The goal, officials said, is to bring technology-based transportation companies to Tuscaloosa while preserving public safety and interests.
“We are continuing to work with Uber to try to get to a resolution," said City Attorney Glenda Webb.
Webb updated the City Council’s public safety committee about the negotiations on Tuesday and said a final version of the vehicle-for-hire changes could come before it for approval as early as next month.
The changes have the support of Jonathan Hess, vice-president of external affairs for the University of Alabama’s Student Government Association, who launched a petition on change.org with the tagline “Roll Uber” to compel the City Council to allow the services.
“The Tuscaloosa City Council has an obligation to provide students and citizens with safe and efficient rides,” the petition said. “Tell the City Council that Tuscaloosa needs ridesharing and that we support their efforts to ensure it operates in a safe and reliable way.”
As of Wednesday evening, more than 560 people had signed it.
Should the negotiations succeed, Uber would return to the Tuscaloosa market.
The San Francisco-based company began operating in Tuscaloosa in fall 2014, but pulled out within weeks after City Hall demanded it comply with safety regulations.
Then, Uber's refusal to comply with existing city laws governing vehicle inspections, background checks, proper insurance and business license purchases for vehicle-for-hire services led to a showdown that culminated with the Tuscaloosa Police Department threatening to arrest any driver operating under the Uber brand.
Uber, a global transportation company that has experienced widespread growth and popularity since its 2009 founding, maintained that the service it offers is not that of a traditional taxi cab business. Because of this, Uber officials claimed the city's rules did not apply.
In recent months, as Alabama cities like Birmingham and Mobile have adopted ordinances to allow Uber operations, the company's stance has softened.
The city attorney said one sticking point for Uber remains the city’s requirement that drivers submit their names and fingerprints to the Tuscaloosa Police Department in order to operate here, much like taxi and limo drivers do now.
The company is open to the vehicles used by the drivers to be inspected, and the city will allow those inspections to be conducted by a licensed mechanic instead of the Police Department.
This change also will apply to taxi cab and limousine companies.
"What we want to do is create a level playing field," Webb said.
Additionally, the rule changes will not require each Uber driver to obtain a business license. Rather, Uber and any other ride-sharing company that wants to operate here will pay an annual fee of $5,000 that will satisfy the business license and chauffeur license requirements no matter how many Uber-based drivers operate here.
Individual business licenses will still be required for taxi and limo drivers, but the cost is far less than $5,000.
The higher fee for ride-sharing services will prevent the city from losing revenue on the individual licenses, according to the city attorney.
Councilman Matt Calderone, a vocal supporter of Uber and other ride-sharing companies, said their operations in Tuscaloosa would bring more benefits than issues for residents.
Particularly, it would open up new transportation options to those who now shun taxis.
"There are people now not using cab companies," Calderone said. "People who are going to be using services like Uber are not the same people who are going to be using cab companies."
Councilman Kip Tyner, though, said he had concerns over at least one of the changes.
“I'm only one vote,” Tyner said, “but I still think (Uber drivers) need to have individual business licenses."
He said the licenses would ensure a higher level of accountability for the Uber drivers and possibly prevent dangerous drivers from getting behind the wheel.
During the crackdown on Uber drivers in September 2014, the Tuscaloosa Police Department arrested an Uber driver after undercover officers smelled suspected marijuana in the car and witnessed him driving while mixing vodka drinks.
Other stories of Uber drivers committing crimes – from sexual assault to pulling guns on passengers – have made national headlines for years.
Mayor Walter Maddox said efforts were ongoing with the Police Department to develop framework to provide sound protection possible for those using public transportation.
"Each city has to find those unique characteristics and protections," Maddox said.
Still, Tyner said he was wanted to ensure that the city would know who was driving its residents and students should any problems arise.
"It's something of a concern," Tyner said, adding that it is “not all just fun and games and happy times" with Uber.
"There's a lot of things still to consider,” Tyner said. "The concept is great. I just don't want people to be disillusioned."

Reach Jason Morton at jason.morton@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0200.
January 28th, 2016
Renovation of Sewell-Thomas Stadium nearly complete - It's hard for University of Alabama athletics director Bill Battle and baseball coach Mitch Gaspard to pick their favorite part of the rebuilt Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
But it's not for lack of options. There's premium seating behind home plate and a dozen new luxury boxes for fans. There's a 7,500-square foot indoor training facility with batting cages that players have already been able to use. There are better sight lines, wider concourses, a new locker room and more.
"I like everything right now," Gaspard said. "When you go through the locker room, the lounge, the meeting room, the club levels for our fans, it's hard to pick out what's going to be the best facility. I'm sure if you ask a student, they're going to say the right-field area. We feel like that's what's most important to us: We didn't miss one area. Every area is top scale and everything is nice."
There's a lot to like at the new "Joe."
That's the final product of a $42 million renovation at the stadium that will finish in time for the Crimson Tide's season opener on Feb. 19 against Maryland.
"What we wanted it to be was a stadium that our players could enjoy, our fans could enjoy, and certainly that prospects and recruits would be impressed with," Battle said. "So we tried to put features in that would accommodate all of those and I think our people have done a great job of doing that so far."
Plans for the stadium included major overhauls and construction, but also countless details to improve the facility. Seats down the first- and third-base lines are angled slightly toward home plate to help fans keep their eye on the action. New entry gates in the outfield make for better access to the stadium from the parking lot. Fans beyond right field are within shouting distance of the visitors' bullpen.
The architecture melds with its surroundings on campus, including Coleman Coliseum and Bryant-Denny Stadium. The team has a separate room to aerate cleats to avoid lingering smells in the clubhouse, and catchers will have wider lockers to store their extra gear. Signage throughout the stadium pays tribute to great players and teams in Alabama history. Alcohol will also be available for sale in areas with premium seating, as it is in Bryant-Denny Stadium.
The updates have already made an impression on players and recruits.
"It's going to make an immediate impact, there's no question," Gaspard said. "But the future of the program, that's a part that we've already seen how much of an impact just from a recruiting standpoint what it's going to do for us down the road. I think now, when you mention Alabama baseball throughout the country, just the facility itself, we're not taking a back seat to anybody. That's in postseason play, regional, super regionals, recruiting, all those things that are very important to your program. We're going to be at the top of that list now throughout the country."
Fans can also get a peek at the new stadium this weekend during three open scrimmages at the stadium that start. Friday's practice begins at 2 p.m., Saturday's at 10:30 a.m. and Sunday's at noon.
"We want to have the best product on the field, but we also want it to be a show," Gaspard said. "We want people to want to come out to the ballpark for the ballpark itself, but also to enjoy the game as well."

Reach Ben Jones at ben@tidesports.com or 205-722-0196.
January 27th, 2016
Grand opening to celebrate Kentuck center's renovation - The Kentuck Art Association will literally roll out the red carpet a week from today for a party celebrating years-in-the-making renovations to its main facility. Kentuck's Official Grand Opening Party runs concurrent with the February Art Night, 5-8 p.m. Feb. 4.
November marked the soft opening of the arts center at 503 Main Ave. in Northport, with the staff moving back from temporary headquarters in the Georgine Clarke Building to a light, roomy space designed by Ellis Architects, accented by golden-hued woods, curving glass-topped cases, and, crucially, fully functioning equipment.
"What is gonna happen next week, now that we're fully furnished and functional," said Kentuck Executive Director Amy Holt Echols, "we want to celebrate the renovation of our building with our community. We didn't do this just to make Kentuck a nice place to work."
The old building suffered a bat infestation about three years ago; safe removal of the federally protected brown myotis bats required care and time. Cleaning guano and related parasites uncovered structural issues. Estimates grew from low six figures into seven figures; the board hired Echols in part for fund-raising capabilities, and David Pass, a former fundraiser for nonprofit MedShare International, spearheaded campaigns.
Work came in ahead of schedule and on budget, Pass said, and fund-raising is on target with $1 million in commitments scheduled over a three-year period. Major donors include the cities of Northport and Tuscaloosa, the Tuscaloosa County Commission, the Alabama Power Foundation, the Community Foundation of West Alabama, the Daniel Foundation of Alabama, the Alabama State Council on the Arts, Bank of Tuscaloosa, Bryant Bank, Buffalo Rock Pepsi and other public and private contributors.
Kentuck operates on a budget of roughly $400,000, Pass said, and with various year-round programs including the renowned October Kentuck Festival of the Arts, its yearly economic impact is estimated at $5 million, so it was an easy sell.
Rather than a simple house-cleaning, the building underwent a complete overhaul, with a new staircase, a dumbwaiter for ferrying heavy objects between floors and a central ramp to make both the main building and Kentuck Courtyard of Wonders wheelchair accessible. Exterior facades were cleaned and pointed, and Kentuck metal worker Steve Davis crafted metal supports suggesting monarch butterflies, and bats, for the awnings. A neon sign trumpets the location at the corner of Fifth and Main.
Offices, storage areas and a conference room reside upstairs, standing on the original hardwood floors. Downstairs are the gift shop, display space and kitchens.
Next week's activities will include an early news conference, with a 2 p.m. ribbon cutting. During the Art Night party, there will be a champagne toast at 6:30 p.m., the better to wash down gold-flake topped cupcakes, Peterbrooke chocolates and other goodies. The courtyard will hold a heated tent. Patrons can hear live music by Matt Wurtele and Chase Childress, and view an exhibit of glass sculpture by artist Thomas Spake or a mosaic glass demonstration by Fayette artist Rhys Greene. As always on Art Night, Kentuck artists' studios will be open for visitors, with pop-up shops in the courtyard.
Echols, program manager Exa Johnston Skinner, development manager Sherri Warner and gallery shop manager Curtis Clark will roll out the red carpet, alongside members of Kentuck's Capital Campaign Steering Committee and board of directors.
"We want the community to understand that this is a gift for them. It is a celebration of what we've accomplished, but more than that, it's to introduce the community to the renewed Kentuck," Echols said.
Work has begun to restore the Clarke Building to artists' studios, programming and educational space, a gallery and more, while staff has shifted the gift shop and offices back.
"It's been a very gradual but gratifying process to have a real server for our computers, file cabinets that are easily accessible, equipment that works, in an environment that's safe and full of light. We've settled in in a way that has totally changed the work environment.
"It's hard for us to go home at night," Echols said, laughing
For more, see www.kentuck.org.
January 27th, 2016
City may up bond issue to $35 million - Tuscaloosa city leaders are thinking about increasing an upcoming bond issue by about $4 million, bringing the total to $35 million. The increase would help fund infrastructure repairs within the tornado recovery zone.
Mayor Walt Maddox pitched the idea to the City Council on Tuesday.
A decision must be reached soon, as a contingent of city officials are expected to travel to New Yorkin two weeks to secure the bond. financing.
"We're running up against a time clock," Maddox said.
The increase would be to an already $31 million in debt the City Council agreed to seek last year. Those funds would go toward road paving, infrastructure improvements and potential additions to downtown parking.
The tornado area's infrastructure repairs, as laid out in the Tuscaloosa Forward Generational Master Plan, were meant to be funded with proceeds the city had hoped to get from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's National Disaster Resilience Competition.
The city had made it to the competition's final round were expecting to receive a portion of the almost $1 billion in funds that HUD is giving away.
But last week, HUD released its list of 13 winners and Tuscaloosa was not on it.
"It was the biggest slap in the face to this city possible,” Councilman Kip Tyner said of HUD's exclusion of Tuscaloosa.
Tyner represents District 5, which sustained heavy damage from April 27, 2011, tornado.
With HUD "unable to fulfill its moral obligation to the city," Maddox said, there is now a need for additional dollars to aid the 12.5 percent of the city that was caught in the path of the killer storm.
"As far as the federal government's moral obligation to helping us recover from our disaster, that chapter has ended," the mayor said. “We have to prepare for the idea that we are moving into a new phase.”
Aside from Tyner, who said he favored the increase, most council members were tentative on giving their approval for the additional borrowing, saying they wanted to know more details about how the extra $4 million will be spent.
Next week, the mayor and city staff members are expected to present a preliminary list of where the money would go.
In addition to deciding on whether to seek the additional dollars, the city also must figure out how it would repay the extra debt.
The debt service for the original $30.1 million is expected to come from estimated new revenue generated from the reallocation of the combined Tuscaloosa County 2-cent sales tax – which is now shared among five local government entities and DCH Regional Medical Center – and 1-cent temporary sales tax that is now dedicated primarily for school construction.
This new tax structure, approved by the Alabama Legislature last year and goes into effect in June, makes the 1-cent sales tax permanent while redistributing the overall proceeds.
From this, the city is expected to generate about $1.7 million in additional revenue in fiscal 2017, and it is expected to grow about 2 percent to 4 percent each year.
Maddox said the additional $4 million would increase the debt repayment to about $1.9 million per year.
A review of where these additional funds would come from has not been completed, he said.
"There's certainly pros and cons to doing this,” Maddox said. “But we're going to keep our word and fulfill the Tuscaloosa Forward plan.
“We'll just have to find a new way to get it done."
Reach Jason Morton at jason.morton@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0200.
January 27th, 2016
Suspect arrested in Tuscaloosa drug raid - Drug agents in Tuscaloosa seized 25 pounds of marijuana and arrested one suspect after a six-month investigation.
Justin Tionne Wilder, 40, faces drug trafficking and other charges, said Lt. Teena Richardson, a Tuscaloosa police spokeswoman.
The confiscated marijuana has a street value of $100,000, she said.
Agents searched Wilder's home in the 4300 block of 27th Street and seized the marijuana, $18,000 in cash, a 9-millimeter semiautomatic handgun, a .45-caliber revolver and drug paraphernalia.
Wilder, who goes by "J. Black", was charged with trafficking illegal drugs, possession of drug paraphernalia and not having a pistol permits. He remained in the Tuscaloosa County Jail on Wednesday with bond set at $512,000.
January 27th, 2016
ACA recognizes Buddy Sumner for his 50 years as a coach, mentor - In the past five decades, American Christian Academy girls basketball coach Buddy Sumner has touched the lives of countless athletes. Before Friday night’s game against Northside, Sumner received a plaque in recognition of his 50 years of coaching in front of former players and colleagues from all over.
“It meant an awful lot. I did not realize they were doing it,” Sumner said. “It’s been a great group of kids, some of them drove 100 or so miles to get there.”
During his career, Sumner has won a total of 16 state championships in three different sports. He won six state titles in girls basketball at West End Christian and four at Wilcox Academy. He also won four state track championships and two softball state championships at West End Christian.
A Tuscaloosa County High graduate, Sumner started his coaching career in 1966 at Tuscaloosa junior high school, and began at West End Christian in 1970. He arrived at Wilcox Academy in the fall of 1986 and began coaching at ACA in 2009.
Four of the players on this year’s ACA team have mothers that played for Sumner, including his granddaughter, Hannah English. Both Beth English, Sumner’s daughter, and Paige Oldshue, the mother of ACA’s Eliza Carpenter, won four state championships (1983-1986) under Sumner at West End Christian.
“Growing up with him being a coach, it was always a little bit harder for me, but I could see him touching other girls’ lives, and it kind of made me have to step back and be unselfish with my father as a high school student, but as a parent, it’s the biggest blessing,” Beth English said. “I’ve had one daughter already graduate and play at ACA for him, and I have a freshman that gets to play for him and learn the same values and life lessons that I was able to learn. He is able to coach her the same kind of way and the same things he taught me, and to watch not only all the ladies come back, but their parents or friends from West End and Wilcox, to come back when it was a snowy night, they still came because he was that important to them as a figure in their life.”
Alli Swann’s mother, Tracy Swann, and Haleigh Howell’s mother, Lynne Howell, also played for Sumner at West End Christian.
“It was really fun (watching him be honored) because he coached my mom, and that was like 40 years ago, and just to have him as my coach, it’s really an honor as a player to have him as a coach,” Haleigh Howell said.
For Lynne Howell, Sumner was more than just a coach. He was a father figure. She said if it wasn’t for him, she never would have continued her basketball career at Judson College. She played on his 1977 state championship team at West End.
“He is a wonderful man, and this is the honest truth, I would not be here today if it wasn’t for him, because my father died when I was in the seventh grade,” Lynne said. “I was at West End then, and I was only going to go there for junior high, and then he got me playing basketball. He would bring me home from practice before I could drive and got me a job taking up lunch money so I could get to school. I married my husband that went to school there as well, and if it hadn’t been for him, I probably would not have been here.”
Sumner has won two area championships with the Patriots while coaching his granddaughter, Ally English, in 2013 and 2014. He is a member of the AISA Hall of Fame.
“There are a lot of great memories,” he said. I’ve really been blessed.”
Sumter Central
A young Sumter Central basketball team has been busy turning heads this season.
After a pair of early season losses to state-ranked Hale County and Francis Marion, the Class 5A, third-ranked Jaguars (24-2) have been rolling through their schedule. They have not lost at home this season, and spent multiple weeks at the top of the rankings in the Alabama Sports Writers Association prep basketball poll.
"I thought it was going to be a rebuilding year, but the guys really bought in during the summer and worked really hard," Sumter Central head coach Jazmin Mitchell said.
Senior David Law and junior Ladarius Carter have helped lead the Jaguars this season. Law is averaging 19 points and five steals per game, and Carter is averaging 17 points per game.
"This group is really fun to coach," Mitchell said. "They are young and ready to practice. They are ready to go hard at all times. One team. One dream."
Sumter Central won its area (5-0) and wraps up area competition on Thursday against Dallas County. The Jaguars will finish regular season play at home on Friday in a much-anticipated rematch against Hale County.
"It gives us really good competition to go into the playoffs I'm glad we get to play Hale County in the end," Mitchell said. "There should be a lot of people here to see it."
Last year, Sumter Central's tournament run came to an end in the regional finals against Dallas County.
"It's a great process that has been going on," Mitchell said. "We are putting something together at Sumter Central."
Signing Day
A large number of West Alabama high school football players will sign their National Letter of Intent on National Signing Day on Wednesday, Feb. 3.
ESPNU will televise the signing of senior Ben Davis live at 9 a.m. Davis, the AHSAA Class 3A Lineman of the Year, and top-ranked inside linebacker in the nation, has narrowed his decision to five schools: Alabama, Georgia, Auburn, Notre Dame and LSU.
The first ever AHSAA state bowling championships will be on Thursday and Friday at Oak Mountain Lanes in Pelham.
Leland Lanes hosted the North Regional last week, and James Clemens swept, winning the boys and girls title.
The Central and Northridge boys teams competed in the North Regional, but did not advance to state. The top eight boys teams and top eight girls teams from each regional advanced to the state championships.
The AHSAA held bowling championships for girls from 1972-1977 before discontinuing the sport. It emerged again last year as a non-championship sport, and became a championship sport this year with 140 teams, 80 boys and 60 girls. Some schools fielded co-ed teams in the boys division this season.
Last chance
The Last Chance Invitational will take place on Friday and Saturday at the Birmingham CrossPlex Athletic Facility. The meet will give athletes one more opportunity to qualify for the state indoor track championships which will take place on Friday, Feb. 5 and Saturday, Feb. 6.

January 26th, 2016
Alabama storms back to beat Tennessee - Arthur Edwards had made only one 3-point shot all night, mired in a general offensive malaise that had affected the entire Alabama basketball team.
That didn't stop him from shooting at the decisive moment -- and finding the range.
Edwards' 3-pointer with 37 seconds remaining snapped a tie and Retin Obasohan's traditional three-point play 20 seconds later lifted UA to a 63-57 victory over Tennessee, snapping a three-game SEC losing streak and lifting UA to 11-8, 2-5 in league play.
The flurry capped a 16-2 run over the final four minutes of play, a rally marked by good defense and Obasohan and Shannon Hale carrying the offensive load. Obasohan had 22 points to lead all scorers while Hale added 20. Riley Norris had six points but pulled down 13 rebounds.
"We got off to a very slow start, which I think was a hangover from our last game," Alabama head coach Avery Johnson said. "It's been a rough couple of days. We had a very physical practice yesterday and it showed.
"In our last time out, I told Arthur to shoot the ball. He had passed up two wide open shots just before that. I was begging him to shoot, really."
The first half, like the Crimean War, was a struggle best forgotten by all participants. Alabama endured a scoring drought of over seven minutes early in the half as Tennessee built a 16-4 lead with 10:18 remaining in the half. From that juncture, though, UT managed just nine more points in the half and Alabama gradually pulled back into the game.
A Retin Obasohan layup with 1.2 seconds before the halftime buzzer cut the Alabama deficit to just 25-24 at the break. Neither team was able to shoot 40 percent in the half (UA was 10-for-28 and Tennessee was 10-for-29) and there were more combined turnovers (21) than combined field goals (20) between the two teams.
As in the opening half, however, UT came out of the locker room and went on a quick opening run, outscoring UA 13-2 to rebuild a 10-point lead. That expanded to 15 points, 48-33, as Kevin Punter, the Vols' top offensive threat, knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers that gave Tennessee a 48-33 lead with 13:54 to play.
But Alabama did not wilt at that point. Instead, UA roared back with a 14-0 run that reduced the UT lead back to one point. UT pushed that back to 55-47 with 4:16 to go, merely setting the stage for the UA rally.
Punter led UT (10-10, 3-5 SEC) with 15 points.
"We were terrible defensively," UT head coach Rick Barnes said. "When we got the lead, we stopped guarding. They had three straight possessions in the last two minutes where they went straight to the basket. We've got to be a high-energy team and we weren't that at the end, so we didn't win a game we should have won."
January 26th, 2016
Tuscaloosa City Council Action: January 26 - The Tuscaloosa City Council took the following action at its Tuesday night meeting:
- Awarded competitive bid(s) for the purchase, etc. of one half-ton crew cab pickup truck from Townsend Ford; total $26,614.36.
- Awarded competitive bid(s) to resident low bidder for purchase, etc. of six half-ton pickup trucks from Townsend Ford; total $134,130.16.
- Authorized execution of Requisitions 101-106 for payment from the Series 2014A Warrant Issue; total $107,285.62.
- Authorized execution of Requisitions 562-563 for payment from the Series 2007A Warrant Issue; total $17,464.95.
- Authorized request for street lighting system modifications.
- Authorized payment to Adaryll Thomas in settlement of claim; total $3,125.77.
- Authorized payment to Alabama Municipal Insurance Corporation; total $5,000.
- Authorized the filing of a lien at 3740 25th St. pursuant to Section 13-69(b), Code of Tuscaloosa and Section 11-47-140, Code of Alabama, 1975; total $204.50.
- Authorized the filing of a lien at 3002 22nd St. pursuant to Section 13-69(b), Code of Tuscaloosa and Section 11-47-140, Code of Alabama, 1975; total $394.50.
- Authorized the filing of a lien at 4217 Heathersage Circle pursuant to Section 13-69(b), Code of Tuscaloosa and Section 11-47-140, Code of Alabama, 1975; total $204.50.
- Authorized the filing of a lien at 4390 Heathersage Circle pursuant to Section 13-69(b), Code of Tuscaloosa and Section 11-47-140, Code of Alabama, 1975; total $204.50.
- Authorized the filing of a lien at 4080 Heathersage Circle pursuant to Section 13-69(b), Code of Tuscaloosa and Section 11-47-140, Code of Alabama, 1975; total $204.50.
- Authorized the filing of a lien at 2713 Claymont Circle pursuant to Section 13-69(b), Code of Tuscaloosa and Section 11-47-140, Code of Alabama, 1975; total $394.50.
- Authorized the filing of a lien at 2704 Dinah Washington Ave. pursuant to Section 13-69(b), Code of Tuscaloosa and Section 11-47-140, Code of Alabama, 1975; total $204.50.
- Authorized the filing of a lien at 1613 Carriage Lane E. pursuant to Section 13-69(b), Code of Tuscaloosa and Section 11-47-140, Code of Alabama, 1975; total $204.50.
- Authorized change order No. 2 for Alberta Revitalization Infrastructure Phase 1B; total $22,050.13; time extension 30 calendar days.
- Authorized change order No. 1 for City Hall Data Center relocation; total $19,328.05; time extension 45 calendar days.
- Authorized an adjustment and refund of excess deposit to Cadence Bank for installation of water mains and services for Cadence Bank fire line; total $2,137.74.
- Authorized execution of agency funding agreements for the City’s 2015 Emergency Solutions Grant Program through the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs to the Salvation Army, Turning Point and Catholic Social Services of West Alabama; total $200,000.
- Authorized participation in a traffic enforcement grant ADECA 16-SP-PT-004 and 16-HD-M5-004 Projects.
- Accepted streets, curb and gutter, storm sewer and sanitary sewer in Waterfall Subdivision.
- Established the Legislative Agenda of the City of Tuscaloosa for the 2016 session of the Alabama Legislature.
- Authorized an engineering and related services contract with Walker Associates Inc. for the Jack Warner Parkway Improvements Project; total not to exceed $457,800.
- Authorized an engineering and related services contract with Burk-Kleinpeter, Inc. for the Queen City Sewer Trunk Line Jumper Project, Phase I; total not to exceed $118,171.
- Authorized airport liability insurance with Ace Westchester Specialty; premium payment cost $4,080.
- Authorized the mayor to execute a support letter to the Tuscaloosa Housing Authority in regards to the Robertson Towers environmental review record and proposed disposition activity.
- Authorized the mayor to execute a memorandum of understanding between the city of Tuscaloosa and the Tuscaloosa Housing Authority for the execution of environmental reviews.
- Authorized the Office of Federal Programs to make budget and program changes and to advertise those changes to the 2015 and 2013 Action Plans of the city’s Five-Year Consolidated Plan for Community Planning & Development Programs for program years 2010-2014 and 2015-2019.
- Declared an emergency and authorized an emergency public works contract for Wastewater Treatment Plant HVAC upgrades repair.
- Authorized the sole source purchase of an HVAC controls upgrade from Automated Logic; total: $29,850.
- Authorized the mayor to execute task order directive No. 2 with Neel-Schaffer Inc. for consulting services related to the preparation of an Americans with Disabilities Act transition plan.
- Appointed Judi Rabel to the Tuscaloosa Historic Preservation Commission.
- Authorized the payment of bills; total $200.
January 26th, 2016
Bama Dining host cooking classes, aims to teach the basics of creating dishes - Standing in aprons in front of bubbling pots and pans, 26 people of all ages filled the Fresh Food Company at the UA campus Tuesday night. With the guidance of five Bama Dining chefs, they were busy cooking up sauces like Velouté and Béchamel.
"We both enjoy cooking together and have taken some other cooking classes," said Ann Schaetzle, who brought her 13-year-old daughter Emma to the class. "I think it'll just give us some variety, and to [help Emma] make her grandmother's birthday dinner."
Tuesday's two-hour class, called “Learn Your Mother Sauces,” was the first in a series of Crimson Kitchen workshops offered by Bama Dining. The Bama Dining cooking school aims to teach basic cooking techniques used by chefs at UA that can be used at home.
"I think it's a great opportunity for people who want to learn and who are into the culinary arts and want to experience what we experience every day, and hopefully they can take what they learn tonight home to their families," said Jay Ammons, a Bama Dining chef.
In the introductory session, participants learned how to prepare five basic sauces: velouté, hollandaise, espagnole, béchamel and tomato. LaShana Sorrell, marketing manager for Bama Dining, said knowing the five sauces is essential, since they are the building blocks used to make other sauces, such as brown gravy and spaghetti sauce.
“A lot of people ask, 'What is a mother sauce?' and in the culinary arts, the term refers to the five basic sauces that are the starting points for making any of the secondary sauces,” Sorrell said. “They're called that because each one is unique and it's the head of its own unique family of sauces.”
Students were also able to sample a variety of dishes that can be derived from the mother sauces. The meals included macaroni and cheese, chicken and dumplings, and shrimp and grits.
“They're just some fun things to show people how they can use these basic sauces to create their favorite things at home,” Sorrell said. The idea originated from people saying, 'I can't do this at home. How do you make this?' So we wanted to have our culinary team showcase how simple it is to do these things, and that you can do it, too.”
Bama Dining chef Donna McCain said the class shows simple ways for making sauces.
"We know people probably aren't going to have the time to take four hours to make their own stock, so we show people how to doctor stocks to make different dishes at home," she said.
While held on the UA campus, Crimson Kitchen classes are not just for students. The classes are open to anyone who wants to learn more about cooking. Sorrell said she is looking forward to seeing a variety of participants as the classes continue. She said the Bama Dining team hopes to have two intensive workshops a semester, and will schedule them depending on feedback from the first class.
“It can be for anyone who's just interested in learning about food,” Sorrell said. “We're looking forward to having a mixed crowd -- having some students but also some people who have families, or people who are newly independent and want to cook for themselves.”
For more information, email bamadining13@gmail.com.
January 26th, 2016
Academic services conference looks at problems kids face - Academic services aren't enough to ensure the success of children. It's the additional support services from the community that help children achieve.
That was the overarching theme at the 10th annual “Doing What Matters for Alabama's Children” conference.
Around 400 teachers, school administrators, members of social service and faith-based organizations, counselors, business people and citizens from aross the state gathered at the Bryant Conference Center on Tuesday for the conference.
Thomas Bice, state superintendent of education, said many of the issues children face come to light when they are at school.
“Oftentimes teachers get judged based on a test score when a huge part of their day might just be making sure that their children are fed… and clothed and taken care of, and sometimes those things don't get measured because you can't test those and measure them,” Bice said. “Education has so many pieces to what is a very scientific-based model that can't be measured.”
He said it is the wrap-around services offered through the community that must pick up where education tapers off to help solve such issues.
Marvin Lucas, a Tuscaloosa City school board member, said the conference offered an outlet for professionals and organizations that serve children to learn about and exchange ideas about wrap-around services and how children in Alabama can be better served.
“I think this is a great event for the City of Tuscaloosa and Tuscaloosa County. It's an opportunity for us to collaborate and talk to other organizations – see all the different things that are available to help our children here in Tuscaloosa and the West Alabama area,” he said.
The event included panels, breakout sessions and speakers to address child well-being issues such as poverty, health, safety, family strengthening, mental health, the state of education, human trafficking, bullying, homelessness, graduation rates and more.
Charles Nash, vice chancellor for academic and student affairs at the University of Alabama and chairman of Tuscaloosa's Promise, said Alabama ranks around No. 45 or so in the nation in terms of the well-being of children, and the conference is an effort to improve that.
“We thought one way of doing that is to bring people together to spend the day learning about the nature of the needs of our children and then talking about what they in their organizations, in their private lives, in their businesses can do to help children be better,” Nash said.
He said the event offered an opportunity for those who work with children and families to re-energize their efforts, get informed about the nature of children's needs and share best practices with others at the conference.
Teresa Costanzo, a founding member of Tuscaloosa's One Place and an adjunct professor at the UA School of Social Work, said sharing best practices is one of the greatest things that comes from the conference.
“I think that's one of the things that we take away is that opportunity to maybe begin a practice in a community by hearing about it here and going back and replicating it in their own community,” she said. “Children need to be in the forefront of all of our thoughts. They are our future.”
January 26th, 2016
Convicted killer seeks new trial - Tuscaloosa County Circuit Court Judge John England will decide whether convicted killer Alexius Foster will receive a new trial.
A jury in November convicted Foster of murdering his uncle George Foster and friend Antonio Williams in 2014. England sentenced him to life in prison.
A new witness testified in court Tuesday that he was in possession of Foster's white BMW on the day George Foster was killed.
That contradicts key witness testimony from a man who saw the BMW leaving the Foster house the morning of the homicide.
England will consider the request by Foster's attorneys and issue a ruling.
January 26th, 2016
Witt named United Way campaign chairman - University of Alabama System Chancellor Robert Witt will serve as the United Way of West Alabama 2016 campaign chairman.
Witt will offer his leadership experience to the campaign by leading fund-raising efforts to meet the organization's 2016 campaign goal that will provide financial support to its 26 partner agencies in West Alabama.
His has served on the United Way of West Alabama’s Alexis de Tocqueville Society executive committee and the Elizabeth Project Care advisory board. He also is past chairman of the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama and a past board member of both the Tuscaloosa County Industrial Development Authority and the Black Warrior Council Boy Scouts of America.
New United Way directors are Susan Bell of the University of Alabama, Lindsey Case of Capstone Bank, Nicole Perrigin of Nucor Steel and Jay Wells of Alabama Power Co.
January 26th, 2016
Man charged in vending machine theft - A Jefferson County sheriff's deputy arrested a McCalla man early Tuesday after seeing him using a power grinder to open a vending machine.
The deputy was patrolling the 5000 block of McAdory School Road and noticed an empty, suspicious vehicle parked at a self-service car wash, according to Deputy Randy Christian, a Sheriff's Office spokesman.
The officer called for backup after noticing that the door to the business had been pried open.
The deputy saw a man wearing a ski mask and using the power grinder to open the money box on the vending machine, Christian said. The suspect stopped grinding and picked up a screw driver before the deputy ordered him to drop it.
"After a surprised utterance that included several expletives, the suspect complied," Christian said.
Authorities charged James Russell Moore, 25, with third-degree burglary, first-degree criminal mischief and third-degree theft. He remained in the Jefferson County Jail on Tuesday with bond set at $36,000.
January 26th, 2016
Bibb County meeting to discuss TB prevention - A recent tuberculosis outbreak in Perry County has spurred a town hall meeting in neighboring Bibb County.
A meeting to discuss ways to prevent contracting the disease will be held on Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Bibb County High School gym, 2220 Birmingham Road in Centreville. Healthcare and school officials will be available to talk about the disease and other airborne health risks.
The Alabama Department of Public Health on Jan. 18 said 47 people have been identified with tuberculosis in Perry County.
For more information, call Centreville City Hall at 205-926-4995.
January 26th, 2016
Renowned West Alabama artist dies at 87 - Artist Thornton Dial, who assembled odds and ends into artworks that lifted him from picking cotton as a child in west Alabama to an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, has died at 87.

Dial's family said he died Monday at home in McCalla, according to Maria May of African-American art-preservation group Souls Grown Deep Foundation.

Born in 1928 to sharecroppers in Sumter County, Dial created art from found materials, often discarded products of work. Self-taught, with virtually no formal education, Dial took on topics like war, death, racism, justice, redemption, hope and the plight of the working class through abstract imagery, in works with titles such as "History Refused to Die," and "Don’t Matter How Raggly the Flag, It Still Got to Tie Us Together."

His style is hard to classify. Though self-taught applies, Dial was more abstract expressionist than folk artist, said Elliot Knight, visual arts program manager for the Alabama State Council on the Arts.

"He was one of the greatest Alabama artists in general, without stopping at the outsider or folk artist labels," Knight said.

In his biography at the Souls Grown Deep website, taken from interviews, Dial tracks his creative side back to childhood: "I made little cars. Roads and trails in the sand. Roll them out with tin cans or a bottle. Build little houses. Make persons out of corn shucks. Build little hills, bridges....I went to school a little bit, but mostly I just would sit there with the other boys, Archie Lee Pettigrew and a lot of them, and all of us drawed a lot; that’s why I didn’t learn too much. I was drawing pictures of Tarzan and cowboys and stuff like that I learned from the boys that went to the picture shows....

"Education mean different things. I ain’t never been much good at talking about stuff. I always just done the stuff I had a mind to do. My art do my talking."

For decades, he worked manual labor in carpentry, house-painting, pipe-fitting, iron-pouring and more. Most of three decades was spent with the Pullman Standard boxcar factory that was in Bessemer. Dial came to the attention of the art world in 1987 through Atlanta collector Bill Arnett, who was introduced to him by Birmingham artist Lonnie Holley. The first time Arnett visited, Dial pulled works out of a poultry house.

"I knew I was witnessing something great coming out of that turkey coop," said in a statement from Arnett, who started Souls Grown Deep in Atlanta. "I didn't know at the time that it wasn't simply the sculpture that was special. The man who had created it was a great man, and he would go on to become recognized as one of America's greatest artists. I can't think of any important artist who has started with less or accomplished more."

Dial stayed connected to his west Alabama roots, appearing in exhibits at Northport's Kentuck Art Association, a center built around folk and traditional art. His work was seen most recently in Kentuck's T.E.M.P. Gallery in 2012, as part of traveling group show "The Music Lives On: Folk Song Traditions Told by Alabama Artists." Dial's "Howlin' Wolf" and "Strange Fruit: Alabama Grapes" were central pieces of the exhibit, which also included works by his son, Richard Dial.

In the aftermath of the 2011 storms that devastated the area, Dial created a silvery-gray sculpted painting titled "Tuscaloosa," from wood, fabric, shoes, nails, screws, tractor parts, and an iron skillet, purse, cup, doll and book, finished with spray paint on canvas and wood. The oval layering of objects makes the debris seem frozen in mid-flight.

Dial often collided in an amalgamation of painting and sculpture, said Steve Davis, long-time blacksmith and metal artist at Kentuck.

"The pieces he brought down here, they just popped off the wall. It was something I’d never seen before," Davis said. "Hopefully his legacy will one day transcend his visual imagery, and he'll take his place alongside recognized master artists of the 20th century."

Dial helped shape the career path of Stacy Morgan, an associate professor of American Studies at the University of Alabama who teaches a course on African-American art and literature. To fulfill a graduate-school class assignment at Emory University, Morgan attended a folk-art exhibit, where he first saw Dial's work.

"I was just really riveted by one called 'Outside the Coal Mine,'" Morgan said. "It had this kind of sculptural, three-dimensional quality to it; I'd never seen anything quite like it. ...it had this kind of deep symbolism to it, yet it was formally abstract at first glance, which is somewhat strange for outsider art."

Mainstream success followed from the influence of Arnett, who also helped bring Holley and the quilters of Gee's Bend to renown. Dial's first New York solo exhibit debuted in 1993, jointly at the New Museum of Contemporary Art and the American Folk Art Museum. His art can now be found in collections including the Met, the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C.,the High Museum in Atlanta and the Birmingham Museum of Art.

Last October the Marianne Boesky Gallery, whose roster includes Frank Stella, painter Barnaby Furnas and director-painter John Waters, announced it was representing Dial in Manhattan. Shortly after, he was named in "Ten Artists to Watch This November" by Artspace magazine. In 2017, six recent large-scale works by Dial will be central to the Met's July-September exhibit "Souls Grown Deep."

"He’s unsurpassed, to me," Morgan said. "If there’s a Mount Rushmore (of folk artists), he’s on it."

Material from The Associated Press was used for this story.

January 26th, 2016
Judge refuses trial delay for Alabama House speaker - OPELIKA — A judge said Tuesday that he won’t delay the ethics trial of Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard, at least not for now.

Lee County Circuit Judge Jacob Walker said at the end of a Tuesday court hearing that he planned to deny a defense motion to postpone the trial until fall. However, Walker noted that the case could still be delayed for other reasons such as lawyers appealing his pretrial decisions in the high-profile case.

Walker has yet to rule on dozens of motions in the case, including Hubbard’s requests to dismiss the charges for various grounds. Walker said he would be issuing rulings soon, but noted the possibility that the losing side would try to appeal those ahead of trial.

“I don’t want a continuance,” Walker said. However, the judge said he was also not inclined to bring in jurors to hear the case if decisions were being appealed.

Hubbard is scheduled to go on trial on March 28 on 23 felony ethics charges accusing him of using his public positions, as speaker and his former position of GOP party chairman, to benefit his businesses and clients. Hubbard has pleaded innocent and maintained the transactions were legal.

The Republican had sought a postponement until the fall after his lead attorney abruptly left the case earlier last month.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers verbally sparred in court over whether a continuance was needed.

Defense lawyer Lance Bell said the remaining lawyers have smaller legal firms than former lead counsel Mark White. He said he was brought into the case to work on certain assignments, and was now trying to serve as first-chair attorney.

“I have a small firm. He has a small firm. There is no way on March 28 that we can do this case. We would be shutting down our firms completely,” Bell said.

Prosecutor Matt Hart said the defense had already caused delay with the filing of motions he described as frivolous. Hart said Bell was familiar with the case since he had represented Hubbard since well before Hubbard’s indictment in 2014.

“It’s time to move forward with this case ..... The people deserve a resolution in this matter,” Hart said.

The March 28 trial date would coincide with the middle of the legislative session that begins Feb. 2. Hubbard would be unable to preside over the House of Representatives when in court.

The Alabama Republican Party steering committee this month asked Hubbard to set his leadership duties aside until the conclusion of his trial. Hubbard’s legislative allies have said Hubbard could hand the gavel off to another high-ranking Republican on days he could not be at the Alabama Statehouse

The two sides also sparred over a defense request to depose Hart after Hart sent a copy of White’s sealed withdrawal motion to a reporter. The tense exchanges were a sign of the increasingly contentious relationship between the two sides in the case.

Bell said he believed Hart’s action was part of a pattern of investigation leaks to friendly media by someone in the attorney general’s office.

“I think I know where the leak is, and I want to depose him,” Bell said

Hart told the judge he didn’t realize the filing was under seal and made a mistake. He said Bell had not “one shred of evidence” of wrongdoing and was attempting to fish for information with the request to question him.

“It’s a scurrilous accusation,” Hart said.

Walker did not say how he will respond to the deposition request. However, the judge asked Bell to show him a case where a prosecutor has been deposed by the defense.

January 26th, 2016
Culverhouse fundraising challenge brings in $3.6 million - The latest challenge by a Florida businessman meant to spur donations to support scholarships and others assistance at the University of Alabama has raised roughly $3.6 million in three months.

Hugh Culverhouse Jr., the son of the namesake of the Culverhouse College of Commerce, and his wife, Eliza Culverhouse, agreed in October 2015 to donate as much as $1 million to UA as a match meant to encourage other donations and gifts to the business college by the end of the year.

“They are passionate about helping young people and supporting the University of Alabama,” UA President Stuart Bell said in a prepared statement. “We thank them for their generosity and creativity in challenging others and also share our gratitude with the more than 1,000 supporters of the Culverhouse College of Commerce who responded to the challenge.”

The challenge was launched after a conversation with Bell while the Culverhouses were in town to select the newest recipients of scholarships from the Eliza and Hugh F. Culverhouse Student Assistance Scholarship Fund.

At least 1,015 donors participated in the challenge during the last few of months of 2015, according to the university. The Culverhouses contributed $2 million to their scholarship fund during the latest campaign. The $1.6 million in matching funds from other donors will be used for scholarships, professorships and other assistance for the business school, according to the university.

“Eliza and I are happy to have made this additional investment in our scholarship fund at the university and are pleased the matching gift challenge was so successful with more than 1,000 participants,” Culverhouse said.

The couple, which has offered several similar challenges during the past few years, has given the university about $6 million for scholarships since 2013.

The Culverhouses' scholarship fund is an endowment that focuses on helping reduce the burden of student debt by offering assistance to academically gifted undergraduates who don't qualify for other scholarship opportunities and would otherwise face funding their education with loans.

January 26th, 2016
Annual A-Day game set for April 16 - The University of Alabama will hold its annual spring football A-Day Game at at 1 p.m. on April 16, the school announced Tuesday.

Television coverage will be announced at a later date.

The A-Day Game will be UA’s 15th and final spring practice and will take place at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The event will be free to the public, as usual.

Alabama will be coming off its latest national championship, the school’s fourth in the last seven years.

Alabama is the national leader in spring football game attendance over the last nine years, drawing a total of 733,532 fans for an average of more than 81,500 per game over the course of that span. The largest A-Day crowd in history – 92,310 – came in 2011. UA drew a then-capacity crowd of 92,138 in 2007 for head coach Nick Saban’s first spring game, when the stadium was under expansion.

More information on additional activities, parking and traffic will be released at a later date, and will be posted on rolltide.com.

Golden Flake is the name sponsor of the scrimmage.

Reach Tommy Deas at tommy@tidesports.com or at 205-722-0224.

January 26th, 2016
Shelby wants tax reform, flat tax - U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby said Monday that he supports fundamental reform of the nation's tax code.
“We all benefit from some provisions in the tax code, all of us, but we do not benefit from all of them. I think if we had fundamental tax reform it would be good for this country," the Tuscaloosa Republican said during a breakfast meeting organized by the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama at the Embassy Suites hotel in downtown Tuscaloosa. "We would become a nation of savings and it might help us fund our government.”
Shelby said he supports a flat tax, which is generally defined as a single rate that spans all income brackets of taxpayers instead of the current system, which taxes higher-income people at increased rates and includes many deductions and exemptions.
He said he believes the American people want to change the tax code and would support reforms at the Internal Revenue Service.
During questioning from the audience, Shelby spoke about the importance of lowering the national debt, criticized the Affordable Care Act and discussed the need for a stronger foreign policy.
Shelby said these issues will be important in the upcoming session of Congress and he noted that this is a presidential election year.
“This year is pivotal. I would like (Republicans) to stay in control of the U.S. Senate. I am running, and I run on my record of service to the people of Alabama and to the nation,” Shelby said.
Four Republicans are seeking to remove Shelby from the seat he has held since 1987: Marcus Bowman, John Martin, Jonathan McConnell and Shadrack McGill. On the Democratic side, Ron Crumpton and Charles Nana are running for Shelby's Senate seat.
The primary will be March 1. The winners in the Republican and Democratic primaries will face each other in the Nov. 8 general election.
Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox attended the chamber meeting, and he praised Shelby's efforts to help Tuscaloosa.
“He is certainly not a senator that goes to a castle and disappears. He is always in contact with me personally. His staff does a phenomenal job of working with our team,” Maddox said.
Shelby also spoke Saturday during a meeting of the Young Republicans Federation of Alabama at the Hotel Capstone in Tuscaloosa.
January 26th, 2016
Druid City Brewing hosts classic video game night - In the back corner of Druid City Brewing Co.'s tap room, an old-school cathode-ray tube television glows next to a sleeker flat screen, both connected to game consoles including the Super Nintendo and Wii U. A familiar red plumber driving a go-cart flashes across the screens, his pixilated form in the tube TV clashing with a sharper image in the wide screen. On both, the catch phrase remains the same: “It's-a-me, Mario.”
Druid City Brewing Co., with its Parkview Shopping Center entrance hidden from 15th Street, can be hard to find, but for the brewery's faithful, it's a place to sit and talk, listen to live music, browse vinyl, view wall, table and chalk-painting art, or ride a gaming trip into the past. Once a month, the brewery hosts a classic video game night, ranging from Super Smash Bros. to GoldenEye. On Wednesday, the brewery will feature Mario Kart.
“With everyone getting back to school, we wanted to create a new attraction to get people here to hang out and enjoy our beer,” said Bob Baker, a bartender at Druid City Brewing Co. “What better way to do that than to take a trip down nostalgia lane and maybe settle a few fights in 'Mario Kart'?”
All eight games in the series will be available, as Druid City Brewing Co. holds two tournaments: a Mario Kart 8 Grand Prix tournament and Mario Kart 64 Battle Mode tournament. Prizes include $15 in store credit, T-shirts and shot glasses. Signup begins at 7 p.m. Wednesday, with the first play starting at 7:30.
Co-owner and brewmaster Bo Hicks believes in the Southern tradition of being a gracious host. When patrons visit, he tries to give them a slice of Tuscaloosa, and make them feel welcomed.
“It's a lot of games of our clientele's youth,” Hicks said. “Now that they are adults and have adult problems, it's sort of nice slipping back into being able to play something comfortable they remember from their youth.”
Most of the games belong to Baker, sharing his lifelong collection.
“(The games) sit proudly in the corner, and anyone who's passionate about it or who's maybe a little socially awkward and wants to go sit in the corner and drink beer and play video games, I don't judge, because I've done both,” Baker said.
Baker and Hicks have a friendly rivalry, boasting each other as the better competitor. Hicks, who grew up playing the early Mario Kart games, said he isn't prepared to lose without a fight.
“I'm going to give it the old community-college try. I spent a good four years at Shelton State really honing my skills, so I like to think that I'm going to be competitive,” Hicks said. “We thought it would be really fun to have a tournament here where people can talk smack to their friends, but at the end of the day, it's very harmless."
Baker challenges anyone in Tuscaloosa to come face him on the Rainbow Road.
“I'm excellent at Mario Kart. I promise I will not go easy on you,” Baker said. “The gloves are off, or maybe, the gloves are on.”
January 26th, 2016
Paul W. Bryant High School pep rally celebrates graduation rate improvement - Paul W. "Bear" Bryant expected excellence on the football field. The high school that bears the name of the legendary University of Alabama coach has the same expectations in the classroom.
On Monday, the students and faculty at Paul W. Bryant High School held a pep rally to celebrate the school's 91 percent graduation rate for the 2014-15 academic year, tops among the Tuscaloosa City Schools' three high schools and one point higher than the state school superintendent's goal for all high schools in the state to exceed 90 percent.
“Of course we’re shooting for 100 percent. Not only for graduation, but we want them (students) 100 percent college- and career-ready on the day of graduation,” said Keith Bryant, the school's assistant principal.
The city's high school graduation numbers were released Jan. 19 at a school board meeting. Overall, the city's high school graduation rate improved to 87 percent in 2014-15. Northridge High had 87 percent of its students graduate in a four-year span while Central High had an 82 percent graduation rate. Bryant High's numbers rose from 83 percent in 2013-14 to 91 percent in 2014-15. During the past two school years, the school has seen a 17 percent increase in its graduation rate.
To celebrate those numbers, Bryant High students took a 20-minute break from their studies Monday morning for the pep rally, which featured the school's band, cheerleaders, dance team and ROTC members.
Principal Linda Harper told the students how proud she is of them and how thankful she is for the teachers.
Kayla Hamlet, a University of Alabama freshman majoring in telecommunications and film and a member of Bryant High's 2015 graduating class, advised the students to push through their fears and to never give up on their dreams of academic success.
Throughout the school hang hundreds of college banners, ranging from the University of Miami to the University of California at Los Angeles hanging from the ceilings and walls. The lunchroom and gymnasium has street signs reading “College Bound” and “Career Ready” on top of the entrances. Students' college acceptance letters are posted on multiple boards throughout the school with the phrase “I’ve Been Accepted.”
On Jan. 14, state schools Superintendent Tommy Bice said that Alabama's high school graduation rate had risen to 89 percent. In 2012, Bice and the state board of education set a goal to raise the graduation rate, which was 72 percent at the time, to 90 percent by 2020.
January 26th, 2016
Vote delayed on Tuscaloosa Public Library workers' raises - Tuscaloosa Public Library workers will have to wait another month to learn whether they will receive pay increases.
The library’s board of trustees voted Monday to table a decision on whether to adopt an updated salary schedule and step plan as proposed by Executive Director Rick Freemon.
The delay caused some concern among some the board, such as trustee LeGrand Hutchison, who said he understood that a vote on the salary schedule would occur.
Others, though, agreed with trustee Sherie Giles’ motion to take another month and ensure the plan will work.
“We want to do it,” said trustee Samory Pruitt, “but we have to make sure it’s done right.”
Freemon said that he, too, understood the board’s desire to take more time, but explained that each delay is taxing on the library’s nearly 60 employees.
“Every time we ask for more (time),” Freemon said, “the response I hear from the employees is: ‘How much more?' ”
The board’s next meeting is planned for Feb. 22.
Though the details of Freemon’s plan were not discussed publicly, the executive director said the salary schedule adjustment and pay increases would be the first across-the-board raises he’s aware of -- outside of a promotion -- for the library’s workers in his more than 16 years with the library.
He also said, through attrition and the combination of responsibilities, the pay adjustments would fit into the overall $2.3 million in payroll and benefits that are part of the library’s fiscal 2016 budget.
The step increases also would fit into next year’s budget, barring a reduction in funding from the library’s supporters, with the need to find just $4,000 in additional funds.
“My plan was for it to be affordable,” Freemon said.
Reach Jason Morton at jason.morton@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0200.
January 26th, 2016
Tuscaloosa man accused of robbery - A Tuscaloosa man has been accused in the armed robbery of the Milo's in Bessemer last week.
Carvell Tony Brown, 25, was charged with first-degree robbery, said Sgt. Cortice Miles, a Bessemer Police spokesman.
Brown has been at the Tuscaloosa County Jail on an unrelated third-degree escape charge since Saturday. A Tuscaloosa police officer attempting to arrest him on outstanding charges wrote in court documents that he escaped from a police car and later asked an off-duty officer for a ride.
Brown also has unrelated outstanding charges in Sumter County. He is being held without bond.
January 26th, 2016
'The New Girlfriend' to be shown Tuesday - The Bama Art House winter film series continues tonight with a showing of "The New Girlfriend."
The movie will be shown at the Bama Theatre, 600 Greensboro Ave., with the box office opening at 6:30 p.m. and doors opening at 6:45 p.m. The movies will begin at 7:30 p.m.
Discount punch-card tickets will be available for $60 at the door before screenings and will be good for any 10 Bama Art House films. Single tickets will be $8 for general admission, $7 for seniors & students and $6 for Arts Council of Tuscaloosa members.
To see trailers for the films being shown, go to www.bamatheatre.org/bamaarthouse. The series is organized by the Arts Council of Tuscaloosa.
January 26th, 2016
Ragland hopes this weekend's game will show his versatility - MOBILE | Reggie Ragland made a million-dollar decision when he opted to return for his senior season at linebacker for the University of Alabama football team.
It was a wise choice.
Ragland is widely projected as a first-round selection in the 2016 NFL Draft behind a stellar season in which he earned All-American and SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors.
Now he wants more.
Ragland is seen as one of the top inside linebackers in the country, but the big-bodied athlete wants to prove to NFL teams that he can also player outside linebacker, too, that he can rush the passer. He'll work at outside linebacker during this week's Senior Bowl.
It's not totally new to him. He played with a hand down as a defensive end some during the season and also rushed the passer on occasion.
“I just want to show I can cover and rush the passer,” Ragland said Monday afternoon during the first day of the Senior Bowl. “I know I can play inside, but I also want to show I can play outside too.”
Ragland is a little heavier than what he wants to play at in the NFL, saying he currently weighs at 255 pounds and ideally wants to be 245-250 pounds. His official weight will come this morning at the weigh-in.
His 102 tackles, including 60 solo stops, led the defense. He hopes to continue leading, a skill set he learned from former UA All-American linebacker C.J. Mosley.
“C.J. showed me the ropes,” Ragland said. “He showed me the way.”
He's only been in Mobile for a day, but he has already met with a few NFL teams, including the Baltimore Ravens, Kansas City Chiefs, Green Bay Packers and Oakland Raiders.
Playing at Alabama under head coach Nick Saban, Ragland said he's used to a professional organization.
“Everything we do is NFL style,” Ragland said. “Meetings, you have to pay attention. Every little thing possible, (Saban) knows about everything that is going on in his program. He doesn't take a day off.”
It was Ragland and his agent's idea to work at outside linebacker during the Senior Bowl.
“He called me a week or so ago and said, 'Mr. Savage, I want to play outside (line)backer so I can show that I can rush.' ” Executive Director of the Senior Bowl Phil Savage said. “He's figured out, as his agents know, that the outside 'backers get paid more than the inside 'backers.”
Savage, who served as general manager of the Cleveland Browns from 2005-08, said Ragland was a legend in the state of Alabama before he reached high school.
“The first time I ever heard of Reggie Ragland, he was in the eighth grade. A buddy of mine said, 'There's this kid up here who's hitting 400-foot home runs, he can dunk a basketball. This guy's going to be a superstar.'
“So then Reggie Ragland signs at Alabama and for two years all we saw him do is play on the punt team and cover kicks. He finally got his chance to start a year ago, played well, but played better this year.
“So him going back for another year was a real positive. Reggie has the size of a Mike but the speed of a Will. He's a good combination linebacker that's playing off the line of scrimmage, can key and diagnosis and take off and get to the perimeter and make plays.”
According to cbssports.com's draft projection, Ragland is seen as a mid-first-round selection and the top inside linebacker in the draft.
Reach Aaron Suttles at aaron@tidesports.com or at 205-722-0229.
January 25th, 2016
Ex-Rock Quarry teacher sentenced to year in jail - The former Rock Quarry Middle School teacher who sent sexually explicit messages to a seventh-grade student apologized to her in court Monday after being sentenced to one year in jail.

Jason Burd, 35, pleaded guilty to electronic solicitation of a child and being a school employee having sexual contact with a student.

The former math teacher and coach was charged last February and resigned from his position at the school in March.

The victim, now 13, sat with her parents in Tuscaloosa County Circuit Court Judge Chuck Malone's courtroom during the hearing Monday afternoon. Her mother said that she admires her daughter's courage to come forward, and said that she has endured a difficult year.

"She has lost friends, lost her privacy and has been bullied on social media as well as in person," the woman told the judge. "After her reporting this criminal, she has been ostracized, threatened and made fun of. Each of these events have whittled away her ability to trust others and feel safe, not just at school but everywhere."

Burd was accompanied by his parents in court. After pleading guilty, he turned to the victim and her family and said "I apologize" before he was escorted to jail.

"Today, Jason Burd accepted responsibility for sending the victim an inappropriate electronic message," said his attorney Daniel Pruet. "Though an isolated event, he was wrong for doing so and he expressed his regret to the victim and her family. He is heartbroken for the pain that his actions caused, but Mr. Burd is hopeful that the victim will be able to move on from the isolated incident that occurred last year. Today was the first opportunity that he has had to accept responsibility for sending the victim an inappropriate electronic message and he hopes that his doing so will help everyone involved be able to begin the healing process."

Burd became friends with the student via the messaging application Snapchat before he began to ask her for nude photos, according to court documents. He sent her an explicit photo of a man, according to prosecutors.

"(The student) advised that he began speaking to her in a sexual manner that made her feel uncomfortable," a Tuscaloosa Police investigator wrote in the deposition filed in Tuscaloosa County District Court. "Mr. Burd then sent her a nude picture ... and she then shut down her account."

The investigator conducted a forensic examination of the girl's phone and documented the sexual content. No physical sexual activity occurred. Burd was placed on administrative leave Jan. 8, 2014, one day after a criminal complaint was filed with TPD investigators and he resigned two months later.

Repeating the story numerous times to school officials, police, social workers and therapists took an emotional toll on the student, her mother said. At her principal's urging, the girl stopped riding the bus for a week after other students called her names and physically threatened her, according to her mother.

"All of these things came after she was terrorized by her teacher -- a man who this community trusted to keep our children safe -- not to manipulate and destroy them," she said.

Both of the victim's parents said that they agreed to the plea deal offered by the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff's Office because it meant a quicker resolution to the case and because Burd would report to jail sooner than later. The News is not using he names of he parents in order to protect the privacy of the victim.

Burd, who spent two days in jail after his arrest, will spend 363 days in the Tuscaloosa County Jail and five years on probation. He received a 10-year split sentence, meaning that if he violates his probation he will serve the remaining nine years of the sentence.

"With the increase of pedophiles abusing our youth in recent years, I hope that this criminal will become an example to other pedophiles and to our community -- that this behavior will not be tolerated and that we will not allow our children to fall victim to these predators any longer," the girl's mother said.

January 25th, 2016
Investigators say man may have drowned - Investigators say that a man found dead near Skyland Boulevard on Saturday may have drowned.
A passerby found the man, 18, in a drainage ditch behind the PNC Bank at the corner of McFarland and Skyland boulevards at 3:45 p.m. Saturday, said Lt. Kip Hart, assistant commander of the Tuscaloosa County Metro Homicide Unit.
The man had been reported missing Wednesday and was last seen Saturday walking near the area where he was found, Hart said.
His cause of death hasn't been confirmed. Foul play isn't suspected.
The man's name hasn't been released.
January 25th, 2016
Chris Young to perform April 15 in Tuscaloosa - Country singers Chris Young and Cassadee Pope will perform at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater at 7:30 p.m. April 15, booking agency Red Mountain Entertainment announced.
Thus far it’s the second-earliest show for the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater’s 2016 season. Other concerts announced include Newsboys, Audio Adrenaline, Ryan Stevenson and OBB April 2; the Avett Brothers and Brandi Carlile May 5; and Darius Rucker, Michael Ray and Dan & Shay June 16.
Young got a career boost from winning the 2006 version of TV show “Nashville Star,” an “American Idol”-like contest on the USA Network. His self-titled debut disc from the same year, on RCA Records Nashville, delivered two hits in “Drinkin’ Me Lonely” and “You’re Gonna Love Me.” The followup “The Man I Want to Be,” from 2009, sent three singles to No. 1: “Voices,” “Gettin’ You Home (The Black Dress Song)” and the title track.
Number One and Top 10 hits continued with the albums “Neon” and “A.M.,” including “Tomorrow,” “You,” “I Can Take It From There,” “Aw Naw,” “Who I Am With You,” and “Lonely Eyes.” Young released his fifth album, “I’m Comin’ Over,” in November; the title track went to No. 1, and the second single from the record just came out. Titled “Think of You,” it’s a collaboration with Pope.
Pope started her career as lead singer for pop band Hey Monday, then went solo in 2011. Pope won the third season of “The Voice” in 2012, becoming its first female winner. A year later, her first country album, “Frame by Frame,” went to No. 1 on country charts. Her biggest hit thus far has been 2013’s “Wasting All These Tears,” which hit No. 5. Other top 40 singles include “I Wish I Could Break Your Heart,” “I Am Invincible” and “Think of You” with Young.
Tickets for the show go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday, through the Amphitheater box office, Ticketmaster outlets, www.ticketmaster.com, or by phone at 800-745-3000. General admission will be $49.50, with reserved seats at $49.50, $35 and $25.
January 25th, 2016
Road work to affect 25th Avenue East - The Tuscaloosa Department of Transportation said that 25th Avenue East at Seventh Street East will be closed through Feb. 1.
The closure, which began Monday, is part of phase one of the Alberta Parkway project.
The Alberta Parkway is a planned divided street that will cost about $7.6 million and connect Jaycee Park with the Alberta School of Performing Arts.
January 25th, 2016
Tuscaloosa City Council Agenda for January 26 - The Tuscaloosa City Council will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the council chambers on the second floor of City Hall, 2201 University Blvd. The following items will be on the agenda:
Awarding competitive bid(s) for the purchase, etc. of one half-ton crew cab pickup truck from Townsend Ford; total $26,614.36.
Awarding competitive bid(s) to resident low bidder for purchase, etc. of six half-ton pickup trucks from Townsend Ford; total $134,130.16.
Authorizing execution of Requisitions 101-106 for payment from the Series 2014A Warrant Issue; total $107,285.62.
Authorizing execution of Requisitions 562-563 for payment from the Series 2007A Warrant Issue; total $17,464.95.
Authorizing request for street lighting system modifications.
Authorizing payment to Adaryll Thomas in settlement of claim; total $3,125.77.
Authorizing payment to Alabama Municipal Insurance Corporation; total $5,000.
Authorizing the filing of a lien at 3740 25th St. pursuant to Section 13-69(b), Code of Tuscaloosa and Section 11-47-140, Code of Alabama, 1975; total $204.50.
Authorizing the filing of a lien at 3002 22nd St. pursuant to Section 13-69(b), Code of Tuscaloosa and Section 11-47-140, Code of Alabama, 1975; total $394.50.
Authorizing the filing of a lien at 4217 Heathersage Circle pursuant to Section 13-69(b), Code of Tuscaloosa and Section 11-47-140, Code of Alabama, 1975; total $204.50.
Authorizing the filing of a lien at 4390 Heathersage Circle pursuant to Section 13-69(b), Code of Tuscaloosa and Section 11-47-140, Code of Alabama, 1975; total $204.50.
Authorizing the filing of a lien at 4080 Heathersage Circle pursuant to Section 13-69(b), Code of Tuscaloosa and Section 11-47-140, Code of Alabama, 1975; total $204.50.
Authorizing the filing of a lien at 2713 Claymont Circle pursuant to Section 13-69(b), Code of Tuscaloosa and Section 11-47-140, Code of Alabama, 1975; total $394.50.
Authorizing the filing of a lien at 2704 Dinah Washington Ave. pursuant to Section 13-69(b), Code of Tuscaloosa and Section 11-47-140, Code of Alabama, 1975; total $204.50.
Authorizing the filing of a lien at 1613 Carriage Lane E. pursuant to Section 13-69(b), Code of Tuscaloosa and Section 11-47-140, Code of Alabama, 1975; total $204.50.
Authorizing change order No. 2 for Alberta Revitalization Infrastructure Phase 1B; total $22,050.13; time extension 30 calendar days.
Authorizing change order No. 1 for City Hall Data Center relocation; total $19,328.05; time extension 45 calendar days.
Authorizing an adjustment and refund of excess deposit to Cadence Bank for installation of water mains and services for Cadence Bank fire line; total $2,137.74.
Authorizing execution of agency funding agreements for the City’s 2015 Emergency Solutions Grant Program through the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs to The Salvation Army, Turning Point and Catholic Social Services of West Alabama; total $200,000.
Authorizing participation in a traffic enforcement grant ADECA 16-SP-PT-004 and 16-HD-M5-004 Projects.
Accepting streets, curb and gutter, storm sewer and sanitary sewer in Waterfall Subdivision.
Establishing the Legislative Agenda of the City of Tuscaloosa for the 2016 session of the Alabama Legislature.
Authorizing an engineering and related services contract with Walker Associates Inc. for the Jack Warner Parkway Improvements Project; total not to exceed $457,800.
Authorizing an engineering and related services contract with Burk-Kleinpeter, Inc. for the Queen City Sewer Trunk Line Jumper Project, Phase I; total not to exceed $118,171.
Authorizing airport liability insurance with Ace Westchester Specialty; premium payment cost $4,080.
Authorizing the mayor to execute a support letter to the Tuscaloosa Housing Authority in regards to the Robertson Towers environmental review record and proposed disposition activity.
Authorizing the mayor to execute a memorandum of understanding between the city of Tuscaloosa and the Tuscaloosa Housing Authority for the execution of environmental reviews.
Authorizing the Office of Federal Programs to make budget and program changes and to advertise those changes to the 2015 and 2013 Action Plans of the city’s Five-Year Consolidated Plan for Community Planning & Development Programs for program years 2010-2014 and 2015-2019.
Appointing Judi Rabel to the Tuscaloosa Historic Preservation Commission.
Authorizing the payment of bills; total $200.
January 25th, 2016
LOOKING BACK: January 25 - The Rev. O.D. Thomas, director of the chaplains department at Bryce Hospital, announced his retirement. Thomas was the hospital’s first full-time chaplain when he joined the staff 14 years before. Before that, he was pastor of the Holt Methodist Church for 23 years.
A proposed merger of Reichhold Chemicals Inc. and Commerical Solvents Corp. was called off.
Two men, considered dangerous, who had escaped from Bryce Hospital were returned there after being captured in New Mexico. One had been charged with murder.
Crimson Tide stars were headlining the March of Dimes Ball. Fullback Steve Bowman would be on guitar and teammates Leslie Kelley, Wayne Trimble, John Mosley, Cecil Dowdy and John Calvert would handle the vocals and the dance routines.
The Centreville First Baptist Church was gutted by flames; firemen battled freezing temperatures and ice to control the blaze which threatened other buildings. The church was located on the courthouse square of the county seat town about 50 yards from the Bibb County Courthouse.
A snowstorm caused Steve Sloan to miss Steve Sloan Day in Cleveland, Tenn., but he arrived for Steve Sloan Night, where he was honored for his journey from the playing fields of Cleveland to the Orange Bowl, where he sparked Alabama to the national college football championship.
Dr. Leon J. Weinberger, rabbi for Temple Emanu-El and director of the B’nai B’rith Hillel Center at the University of Alabama, left those posts to devote full time to teaching and research at the university as associate professor of religion.
Residents lined the streets in Gordo in below freezing temperatures to say goodbye to friends and relatives going to war when the 813th and 416th replacement detachments of the U.S. Army Reserve left for Fort Benning, Ga., and Fort Jackson, S.C.
The state school board approved the purchase of 170 acres of land south of Tuscaloosa for a new campus for Shelton State Community College.
The Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama formed a committee to study the feasibility of asking the University of Alabama to play all home football games at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The university’s current contract with Legion Field would expire in 2000. The move would necessitate the expansion of Bryant-Denny.
Two late Tuscaloosa natives were inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame; both blues singer Dinah Washington and music teacher John T. “Fess” Whatley were born in Tuscaloosa but achieved fame elsewhere.
There were peaceful demonstrations both for and against the war with Iraq in front of the Communications Building on the UA campus -- the site of some of the largest protests on campus during the Vietnam War 20 years before.
Gordo in Pickens County and Sulligent in Lamar County lost their status as cities according to the official 1990 census figures, slipping back to the designation as town; the minimum population for classification as a city is 2,000.
Barbara Spencer and John Williams were honored as Tuscaloosa County’s Man and Woman of the Year by the Tuscaloosa County Concerned Citizens Organization. The award was presented annually to a man and woman who uphold the ideals of helping their fellow man and reaching out to others in the community.
UA sold more specialty license plates than Auburn University for the first time in 11 years.
A new public library annex was planned for the Newt Hinton Activity Center; it was expected to open in October.
Lin Moore was named the 2006 Charles H. Land Member of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama.
River cruises on the riverboat Bama Belle were resumed after the death of the owner, Mike Medeiros, in December.
The Tuscaloosa Public Library’s board of trustees voted unanimously to offer Mary Elizabeth Harper the job of library director.
Superintendent Joyce Levey resigned from the Tuscaloosa City School System after eight years at its helm.
A long-lost Foster Auditorium plaque was returned to the Capstone after it was located by a scrap metal dealer in Birmingham. The plaque commemorates UA’s first football and baseball teams and was originally bolted to an inside wall of the building now known as Foster Auditorium at its dedication in 1939.
Deaths this week included Vaughn Mancha, who played football at Alabama after World War II, earning All-America honors and playing in the 1946 Rose Bowl.
Northport Fire Station No. 1 located at the Northport City Hall closed for two months for renovations.
Calvary Baptist Church celebrated 100 years in existence while Beautiful Zion A.M.E. Zion Church dedicated its new building; its old building was destroyed by fire two years before.
Tuscaloosa native Deontay Wilder was honored with a parade after claiming the WBC heavyweight title by defeating Bermane Stiverne in Las Vegas on Jan. 17.
Despite rumors that Lane Kiffin was the frontrunner for the San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator job, he announced that he would return to UA for the 2015 season.
Deaths this week included Elois Zeanah, 73, who was active in local and state GOP politics.
Tuscaloosa was the fifth best city for football fans, according to a survey released by Wallet Hub.
Former Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker was hired by Alabama to coach defensive backs.
Compiled by retired News librarian Betty Slowe.
January 25th, 2016
Meeting for veterans will be Thursday in Tuscaloosa - A town hall meeting will be held this week at the Tuscaloosa Veterans Affairs Medical Center for veterans to discuss their health care needs and for medical center leadership to get feedback regarding veterans' satisfaction with their overall experience at the VA.
The Montgomery Regional Office of the Veterans Benefits Administration will also be on hand to answer questions related to veterans benefits and to provide on-site claims assistance.
The meeting will be held in the Medical Center's Sports Atrium in Building 137at 10 a.m. Thursday.
Veterans and family members are invited to attend.
January 25th, 2016
Parents can learn about Tuscaloosa City Schools' plan - Parents interested in learning more about how the Integrated Curriculum Facilities Demographics Strategic Plan will affect students next year will have the opportunity to do so next week.
The Tuscaloosa City Schools will host simultaneous community meetings from 6 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, at each of the city’s three high schools. The superintendent’s plan for the system’s growth was passed on Dec. 15 and focuses on curriculum, investment in staff and construction. It will be implemented at the start of the 2016-2017 school year.
Community members interested in finding out more about the plan can attend meetings at any of the high schools; Central High at 905 15th St.; Northridge High at 2901 Northridge Road.; or Bryant High at 6315 Mary Harmon Bryant Drive.
January 25th, 2016
Shelton State cheerleaders' tough training, practice pay off - The dictionary defines a cheerleader as a person who encourages other people to do something.
The Shelton State Community College cheerleading team embodies that definition, cheering on the Buccaneers' basketball teams. But these cheerleaders don't just cheer, they win championships of their own.
The 24-member team has returned to Tuscaloosa after winning the program's ninth consecutive Universal Cheerleaders Association Junior College Cheerleading Championship on Jan. 15-17 in Orlando, Florida. The team doesn’t let the titles affect their work. Just days after winning the championship, team members were back practicing at the ACE Cheer Co. of Tuscaloosa gymnasium.
Consistency is the key to the team's success, said head coach Christa Sanford.
“They practice non-stop. They practice four times a week and also participate in strength training workouts,” she said. Team members dedicate 15-17 hours a week solely to cheerleading, on top of training individually to become a a better athlete and cheerleader, Sanford said.
“We know that a national championship is never guaranteed,” Will Coggins, a second-year cheerleader from Georgia, said in a news release from Shelton State. “There is always some worry about carrying on a winning tradition.”
Sanford, a Kentucky native, is entering her 11th year as head coach of Shelton State's cheerleading team. She has seen many of her former cheerleaders go on to cheer for the University of Alabama, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and her alma mater, Morehead State University in Kentucky, which also won first place in its division at the cheerleading championship.
Shelton State's cheerleading program offers 18 full scholarships, which include tuition and books. The rest of the team members are walk-ons. All, however, are all eligible to earn a scholarships.
“Since it is such a good program, it can allow for the possibility for future scholarships,” Sanford said.
The program also holds tryouts after the University of Alabama holds its cheerleading tryouts so members who did not make the cut at Alabama have another choice to be a part of a team that works hard to produce better cheerleaders and overall athletes.
While some people might not consider cheerleading a sport, there's no doubt where Sanford stands on the question.
“Cheerleaders need to be recognized as athletes as long as they represent the school well,” Sanford said.
The Shelton State cheerleaders and Sanford will be honored at a celebration on Thursday between the women’s and men’s basketball games against Gadsden State Community College. The women's game is at 5:30 p.m. and the men's game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Admission is free for Shelton State faculty, staff, and students with a current ID and $4 for the general public.
January 25th, 2016
Daraja Children's Choir of Africa builds a cultural bridge - The Daraja Children's Choir of Africa performs Sunday morning at First Wesleyan Church in Tuscaloosa.
The children are from Kenya and Uganda and are on a six-month tour of the United States.
Sunday's performance was the halfway mark in their tour. The group travels under the direction of 410 Bridge, a ministry dedicated to bridge the cultures of East Africa and the United States.
You can find more information about the choir by visiting the website www.darajachoir.org.
January 25th, 2016
Alabama troopers release report on fatal drag racing wreck in Eutaw -
Alabama State Troopers estimate that the driver who ran into a crowd of pedestrians during an fatal street race in Greene County last month had been driving around 80 miles per hour.
Three people were killed in the Dec. 27 accident on Greene County Road 231 in Eutaw.
A crash report released by the troopers indicates that Maurice Wedgeworth, 22, was driving around 80 mph when street racer Clyde Dewayne Lawson, 27, struck the passenger side of his 1986 Oldsmobile Cutlass.
Accident investigators believe that Lawson, driving a 1986 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, was traveling around 85 miles per hour.
The crash caused Wedgeworth to lose control of his car and hit the left shoulder of County Road 231 before crossing both lanes and striking the crowd of onlookers and then a tree.
Onlookers Rodney Hutton, 30; Jalesa Kiara Merritt, 22; and Jhayden Pippen, 3, were killed. Nine others, including children ages 6, 7 and 9, were injured.
Both drivers have been charged with three counts of manslaughter and one count of fleeing the scene of an accident with injuries.
Lawson, from Harvest in Madison County, left the scene and was later arrested in Huntsville. Wedgeworth turned himself in to troopers at Northport Medical Center, according to the report. Investigators do not believe that he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Drag racing is both a way to make money and a source of entertainment in Alabama's rural counties. The accident prompted state legislators Sen. Bobby Singleton and Rep. A.J. McCampbell to speak out earlier this month, asking the public to report drag racing to local law enforcement.
"This is certainly not the first occurrence of drag racing in rural Alabama. Unfortunately, this kind of thing happens on the weekends with growing frequency and has reached almost epidemic proportions in some rural counties," the two said in a press release.
Singleton and McCampbell co-sponsored a bill last year that increased the penalties for drag racing. It was unanimously passed and took effect in June.
The law states that anyone convicted of drag racing on a public road will have their driver's license suspended for up to six months for their first offense and up to one year for subsequent offenses.
For a first offense, participants receive a $500 fine and 30 days probation. A $3,000 fine and six months of probation are imposed for a second offense.
For third and subsequent offenses, participants are required to pay a $6,000 fine and serve one year probation.
Bystanders can be fined up to $500.
January 25th, 2016
Caps off to creativity - Over the course of two months, about 70 students in Janet Latham's classes contributed to the mural and the advanced art students headed the project design. Students in Janet Latham's advanced art class are photographed with the mural in Tuscaloosa County High's cafeteria in Northport on Friday.
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January 24th, 2016
Cold can't cool Tide fans' excitement - High winds and frigid temperatures couldn’t keep Alabama football fans away from their national championship celebration Saturday.
Fans lined both sides of University Boulevard from Denny Chimes to the Walk of Champions and the steps of Bryant Denny Stadium. A crowd that appeared to be around 2,000 strong watched as their favorite players, head football coach Nick Saban and other coaches, and the Million Dollar Band walked and rode past.
The band played UA's fight song, the percussion and brass instruments eliciting excitement from the sidewalk.
Linebacker Reggie Ragland walked past, and a young boy called his name.
Nick Saban rode past, and the whole crowd erupted into hoots, hollers and screams.
It was like a miniature game day.
Suzanne Richardson said skipping the celebration was not an option no matter how cold it was.
“We came to every home game during the season, so we wouldn’t miss this,” she said. “We love the players. They worked so hard, and we wanted to come show them how much we appreciate it.”
She said driving from Birmingham and fighting the cold with layers of clothes and hot coffee was worth it.
Temperatures were in the low 30s Saturday, but fans bundled up in houndstooth coats, gloves, scarves, red pea coats. black bubble jackets, hats, toboggans, hoodies and windbreakers with the Alabama A slapped across the front.
Shanequa Kennedy, who drove from Montgomery, huddled beneath an Alabama blanket that hid her national championship T-shirt.
“I am a die-hard Alabama fan,” Kennedy said. “We don’t like the cold too much, but we’re Alabama fans so we’ll come out here to support our team any time.”
Collin Wright, 11, from Muscle Shoals, was red from the wind chapping his face. He said Friday’s snow left no indecision as to whether or not he would be in Tuscaloosa Saturday morning.
Clad in multiple layers of shirts, a hoodie and a windbreaker, all with some kind of Crimson Tide logo, he found his way to the sidelines of the celebration.
“We thought it was going to be pretty bad because of the snow. We’re still here, though,” he said.
January 23rd, 2016
NAMI offers course for families to share stories - The National Alliance for Mental Illness is offering an outlet for families who have loved ones with mental illnesses to learn how to cope with mental health issues.
The organization will sponsor a family-to-family class where family members can share their stories with other families dealing with similar mental health situations.
The informal, roundtable style forum is free and will begin on Feb. 2 and will meet at 6:30 p.m. every Tuesday at the Northport DCH campus for three months with a short break in between.
Edie Heine, a certified NAMI instructor, said the purpose of the class is to provide support to family members of those with mental illnesses, helping to prevent families from falling apart while dealing with a loved one who has depression, post traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder or other forms of mental health problems.
“Dealing with mental health issues can be just as difficult for the loved one as the person dealing with a mental illness,” Heine said.
She said having a family member with a mental illness can be a fearful situation because people don’t always know what to do to help their loved one or how to act or respond.
The class provides a notebook with nationally recognized materials and information written by mental health professionals to help eradicate some of those fears, she said.
“The course clears that up,” Heine said. “When a loved one is more confident and knowledgeable, their fear of the situation is decreased, and they’re able to cope more reasonably.”
The course is for family members who have or suspect they have a loved one with a mental illness.
Monthly NAMI meetings with speakers presenting on a wide variety of mental health topics are also available.
To register for the NAMI course, contact Edie Heine at 205-239-1071.
January 23rd, 2016
Black Belt Hall of Fame to induct Harper Lee, Wayne Flynt - Author Harper Lee and Alabama historian Wayne Flynt are scheduled to be inducted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame on Friday during a ceremony at the University of West Alabama.
The ceremony and accompanying luncheon will be from noon-2 p.m. in the Bell Conference Center. Tickets are $15, and reservations should be made by Monday.
Flynt is, a well-known Alabama historian and university professor emeritus at Auburn University. Lee is the author of “To Kill a Mockingbird”. Both will be honored for their work on behalf of the Black Belt region and Alabama.
The hall of fame honors those who have had a positive impact on the region, the state, the nation, and the world through contributions in art, business, education, industry, medicine, politics or science.
“In both literature and history classes around the nation, the works of Harper Lee and Wayne Flynt influence the thoughts of others. They are both truly ambassadors for Alabama’s Black Belt, and we are thrilled that they will be inducted in the same class,” said Tina Naremore Jones, executive director of the UWA Division of Economic Development and Outreach. “This will be a special occasion honoring the rich legacy of both individuals.”
For tickets, contact Amy Christiansen at 205-652-3655 or achristiansen@uwa.edu
January 23rd, 2016
Hargrove realignment to be finished by March - City officials said the realignment of Hargrove Road at Skyland Boulevard should be open to traffic in early March.
Hargrove Road at Woodland Hills Drive was closed to traffic in October to accommodate the $1.9 million construction project.
It was announced as a 4 1/2-month closure, but Mother Nature saw fit to alter that.
“Weather is causing a delay in pouring curb and gutter,” said Wendy McBride of the Office of the City Engineer. The contractor "should start pouring next week and will take about a week and a half. Once that's done they can begin laying asphalt.
“Drilling foundations for traffic signal poles should start next week as well.”
If all goes according to plan, the road and its new intersection with Skyland Boulevard should be open to traffic in the first week or so of March, she said.
In other city road projects, rain has slowed work on the McFarland Boulevard improvements between 13th and 15th streets.
This week, contractors were placing topsoil, removing pipe and working on erosion control items. They also planned to continue drainage work with removing pipe and old inlets as required while performing additional traffic signal work, said William D. McDaniel, construction engineer for the West Central Region-Tuscaloosa Area of the Alabama Department of Transportation.
McDaniel said this should be complete by late spring.
The $5.9 million in improvements to McFarland Boulevard were finalized in January 2012 after the city and ALDOT reached a cost-sharing agreement on the work.
The project calls for adding several right- and left-turn lanes and upgrading street alignment at the 15th Street intersection. The plan calls for its full completion by early summer 2016.
According to the deal, city taxpayers will fund 20 percent with the state covering the remaining 80 percent.
Also, the City Council on Tuesday is expected to finalize a $457,800 engineering contract with Walker Associates Inc. for the design of a Jack Warner Parkway renovation.
This project, which includes $2.4 million for construction alone, is meant to eliminate the “roller coaster” effect that begins near the Greensboro Avenue intersection.
Daniel Price of the Office of the City Engineer said the improvements are meant to extend to Marr’s Spring Road, but funding may not allow the work to go quite that far.
This work will include improving the cross-section of the roadway, which will remove the roller coaster effect, a streetscape update with sidewalks and medians, and utility improvements to sanitary sewer, water lines and stormwater drainage, as needed.
Construction is expected begin by summer.
Reach Jason Morton at jason.morton@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0200.
January 23rd, 2016
UA alumna to have art show at cultural arts center - Paintings by contemporary artist and University of Alabama alumna Dale Kennington will be on display from Monday, Feb. 1, to Friday, March 11, at the UA Gallery in the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center at 620 Greensboro Ave.
The exhibit, titled “Real Lives: Observations and Reflections by Dale Kennington,” showcases scenes from ordinary life .
Kennington, of Dothan, will attend a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 11, at the gallery. The public is invited, free of charge, to the reception and exhibition.
She graduated from UA in 1956 and has received multiple awards for her work. In 2009, she was recognized by the Alabama State Council on the Arts. She later received the Alabama Governor's Arts Award and was named one of Alabama's Master Artists by the Alabama Bureau of Tourism and Travel.
The gallery is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and until 8 p.m. on the first Fridays of the month.
January 23rd, 2016
Streets to be swept in Tuscaloosa the week of Jan. 24 - Tuscaloosa street crews will sweep street in the the followingareas this week: Country Club, East and West Circle, Prosperity Lane, Fourth Street to Stillman Boulevard, Reece Court, Virginia Circle, Westlee Estates, 57th Court, Royal Pines, Oak Court, Oakdale, 22nd Place, Washington Square, Metro Park, Wakefield Drive, 60th and 61st streets, Greenbriar, Southwood Trace Drive, Sixth Avenue to Second Avenue East, Dogwood Lane, Valley View Circle, Southmont Drive, Overhill Road, Woodbine Road Crestline Drive, 52nd , 53rd , 55th , and 56th streets east, Buena Vista, The Highlands, 16th and 17th avenues, 10th Street East, 18th Avenue, Fourth Street East, Eastwood, Gardenia Avenue, 12th Street East to 15th Street East, Sycamore Lane, Hickory Lane, Carriage Lane, Oakhill Court, Idlewood Drive, 28th, 29th, and 31st streets east, Reston Drive, Ninth Street North, Hollow Lane, Shallow Creek Road, Plymouth Lane, High Forest Drive, Overlook Road, Eighth Place North, Bedford Place, Indian Hills Drive, Seventh Place North, Rollingwood, 15th Street North.
January 23rd, 2016
Free income tax preparation offered - AARP and FOCUS on Senior Citizens are offering free personal income tax preparation at the Tuscaloosa Public Library from Feb. 1 until April 13. Appointments are necessary. For an appointment call Melanie at FOCUS at 553-3133.
January 23rd, 2016
Northport group seeks nominees to honor - Friends of Historic Northport is seeking nominees to be inducted into the Northport Heritage Hall of Citizens. To qualify for this honor, citizens must be 90 years or older and must have lived in Northport for at least 45 years or have been born and reared in Northport. Nominees who meet qualifications will be recognized at FHN's Annual Heritage Homecoming Luncheon on May 13. Deadline for nominations is Friday, April 15. Call June Lambert, 339-0488, for additional information and nominations.
January 23rd, 2016
SCHOOL NEWS: Jan. 24 - The all-A's honor roll for the second nine-weeks include Jaylin Brantley, Colby Gage Burge, Bennie Calvin, Sawyer Cartwright, Anna Cobb, Jacob Conway, Logan Dockery, Isaak Edmondson, Trent Frith, Malek Gamble, Terry Garner, Destiny Gunter, Ryan Hodges, Allin Illescas-Castro, Xaelyn Jones, Lelia Kaiser, Jadyn Latner, Michael Lowe, Diego Maldonado, Christopher Mirfield, Grace Padilla, Madyson Payne, Z'Vonte Perkins, Jade Pollard, Matthew Posada, Jason Price, Sentella Rowe, Ademus Sanford, Alyssa Turner, Jesus Valencia-Ayala, Ryken Wetzel, Nevaeh White.

Registration for the Tuscaloosa City Schools Pre-Kindergarten Program starts Feb. 1. Enrollment applications will be accepted throughout the month of February, with the exception of Tuscaloosa Magnet Schools-Elementary. Visit your neighborhood elementary school to pick up an application packet. For assistance in the process, please contact the TCS Pre-K department at 759-3700.
January 23rd, 2016
COLLEGE NEWS: Jan. 24 - Area fall graduates at the University of West Alabama include:
Boligee: Joel Coddington.
York: Cody Rogers.
Bessemer: Adam Rowe.
Demopolis: Anthony Smith.
Greensboro: Lorrie Cook.
Aliceville: Jasmine Jordan, Kayla Terry.
Berry: Linnie Shepherd.
Birmingham: E'lisa Hogan.
Brookwood: Mary Alana Foster.
Buhl: Justin Booth.
Cuba: Teshema Martin, Cordarrin Wilson.
Demopolis: Cody Baker, John Moore, Ronald Richardson Jr., Kristina Smith.
Dixons Mills: Ciara McIntyre.
Duncanville: Hazel Johnson.
Emelle: William Bell, Nyesha Watson, Joanna Williams.
Epes: Betty Brown, Shatarra Mitchell.
Eutaw: Rhonda Cameron, Latasha Johnson.
Fayette: Mollie Hathcock.
Gordo: Mary Nicholson.
Greensboro: Tempestt Shaw, Diane Travis Craig.
Kennedy: Michael Foster.
Linden: Trey Cannon.
Livingston: Kathryn Bardell, Robert Belle, Alexandria Carson, Cheree Cooper, Tasmein Dixon, Isheka House, Victoria Loper, Ruston Smith, Lydia Sutcliffe, Lauren Tate, Lashonda Triggs, Rashard Ward.
Marion: Kalesha Warren.
Montevallo: Kirstan Cunningham.
Moundville: Shelby Schmidt, Adrienne Williams.
Northport: Jasmine Little, Alexander Nelson, Ashleigh Winters.
Panola: Marilyn Crane, Ladeidra Gholston.
Ralph: Charles Caudle.
Sweet Water: Travis Lockett.
Tuscaloosa: Sheridan Galyon, Shanena Moss, Laquentin Sanders.
Winfield: Timothy Barnes.
York: Shanekka Boyd, Jordan Oswald.
Berry: Joanna Beard.
Birmingham: Derrick Johnson.
Demopolis: Kimberley Browder, Laura Holley.
Fayette: Amy Fowler.
Hoover: Jamie Ruth Hitch, Erica Lewis, Nichole Turner.
Linden: Laquanda Bell.
McCalla: Sandy Jolivette.
Moundville: Kaleda Williams.
Northport: Haley Day, Laprecious Lawrence, Rosin Spencer.
Tuscaloosa: Senyo Botoklo, Vashida Taylor.
Coker: Margaret Barringer.
Eutaw: Jonathan Woodruff.
Livingston: Fatimah Alhassan.
Northport: Carly Nelson.
Sweet Water: Sydney Meeks.
Tuscaloosa: Amal Alharbi, Ahad Alhufaynawi, Sami Alqurashi, Jayiz Alsaadi, Darwin Heck.
Demopolis: Elaine Fetzer.
Bessemer: Ashley Johnson, Joy Reid, Anthony Micha Sanders, Erika Williams.
Birmingham: Rebecca Mitchell, Jacob Sparkman, Mary Williamson, Catherine Wright.
Buhl: Mona Sellers.
Carbon Hill: Kimberly Johnson.
Demopolis: Jennifer Silcox, Marcus West, Eugena Williams.
Dixons Mills: Melissa Charley.
Eutaw: Kayla Hamilton.
Homewood: Ginger Hyde.
Hoover: Brandis Cook, Stacy Hein.
Millport: Joshua Harper.
Moundville: Jennifer McCrory.
Northport: Lisa Hembree, Brandon Morgan, Josie Smelley, Kimberly Stamps.
Ralph: Laquita Samuel.
Tuscaloosa: Jennifer Askew, Christy Hackerott, Tomika Lewis, Tashonney Patterson, Robin Renfroe, Amy Tunnell, Katie Woods, Mary Wright.
West Blocton: Kristen Nash.
Bessemer: Hannah Waits.
Birmingham: Charles Smith.
Cuba: Meng Xu.
Demopolis: Terra Garrett, Rance Stevenson.
Detroit: Margaret Johnson.
Forkland: Ruby Scott.
Homewood: La'toyia Barren.
Hoover: Chantel Husted.
Livingston: I'neshia Alexander, Crystal Crawford, Kyla Pratt, Clifton Sellers.
Sulligent: Cynthia Summerville.
Tuscaloosa: Kimyatta Harris, Lois Hughes.
Vestavia Hills: Courtney Lewis.
January 23rd, 2016
Event will celebrate German culture, ties to Tuscaloosa - Focus on Senior Citizens of Tuscaloosa County is planning Volksfest, a celebration of German culture paired with a biergarten tent serving up local brews. Volksfest will be held from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. April 2 at Government Plaza in downtown Tuscaloosa,
Volksfest will feature authentic German foods, live music from German folk singer Wolfgang Moritz, a classic and late model German car show, arts and crafts, a children’s activity and play area and much more. Tying in to the local scene, the biergarten will be filling steins with ales from Black Warrior Brewing Co., Band of Brothers Brewing Co. and Druid City Brewing Co. Band of Brothers Brewing Co. will be unveiling its seasonal brew at the tent.
Smooth Saddles, the Frayed Knot Band and Horizon Band, all local bands, are also set to rock the stage.
“We know there has been a large presence of German nationals and ex-pats living and working in our area since Mercedes opened and we wanted to do something to showcase that. Thinking a bit outside of the box of Oktoberfest, we did a little research and found that Volksfest is the second largest festival in Germany dating back to 1828 in Stuttgart. Then, we discovered Stuttgart is the also the headquarters of Mercedes, and only 30 kilometers from Tuscaloosa’s sister city, Schorndorf,” said Morgan Mann, executive director of Focus. “The dots just kept connecting and finally we realized ‘Bingo!’ -- We’ve gotta do this.”
Volkfest will be open to all ages. Ticket prices range from $15 for general admission to $50 for VIP (which will include a T-shirt, a stein and access to the biergarten tapping with refills from the kegs as supplies last). Children younger than 14 will be admitted free if accompanied by an adult. Tickets may be purchased in advance at any Bank of Tuscaloosa branch or online at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2485498.
Focus on Senior Citizens’ mission is to meet the needs of seniors, enabling them to remain active, healthy and independent. Proceeds from Volkfest will benefit Focus’ nutrition, transportation and foster grandparent programs and its Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP). Focus is a United Way of West Alabama partner agency.
For more information on sponsoring Volkfest or being a vendor, call Focus at 205-554-1919.
January 23rd, 2016
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